Category Archives: prosperity

A Vacation for Carl

Carl wanted me to let everyone know that he is doing well but wanted to take a little vacation this week. He is enjoying this special holiday and all the food that goes along with it.  Carl has been receiving treats through out the day and hopes to get a couple of pieces of hamburger or hot dogs  right off the grill this evening.

Carl will be going to bed early tonight and forgoing the fireworks. The noise  startles him and his body will begin to shake.

He wishes everyone a wonderful day and will be back with all of his antics next week.

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Carl and the Serpent

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was watching. Carl and Bee were pulling on something and neither were going to let go. The problem was the thing was a black snake that had slithered up on the porch to sun himself and didn’t realize what he had gotten himself into.

All I could do was scream. I am not sure if I was crying out for the snake or for the safety of my dogs. I couldn’t tell if the reptile was poisonous from my distance and I wasn’t going to get any closer.  So after a couple of minutes of tug a war, the dogs were no longer pulling.

It was then that I went into the screened in porch and looked over to see the remains of the snake. The head was lying on one side of the porch and the rest of the creature was lying between both dogs. Foam was seeping out of their mouths as they protected their prey.

I called my husband for advice and he told me to get the snake off the porch and throw it over the fence. Even though the snake was dead, I still didn’t want to go near it. So I recruited a neighbor to come to my rescue and discard it for me.

As he went to pick up the head, the snake opened its mouth. This absolutely creeped me out. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The mouth continued to open and close while the rest of the body slithered around five feet away. What I learned later is that this isn’t that unusual.

I couldn’t help but think about this verse as I pondered the continued movement of the snake. John 15:5-6 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Just as the snake’s body had been removed from the head, we can also be removed from the vine. Sometimes, people may even look spiritually alive and make all the right movements, but in the end, if they don’t remain in Jesus, they are dead.

John 15:7 states how we are to remain in Jesus.  It states, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

If we stay in God’s word and it remains in us, we can ask whatever we wish and it states that it will be done for us. But we need to be careful in knowing that it may not happen immediately or even in our lifetime. And in many cases, the end result may look very different from what we have perceived it to be.

Just as the snake continued to open and close its mouth, my perception of what a dead snake looks like was definitely different from what it was in reality. As for Carl, he did suffer a battle wound on his left ear. It appears the snake must have dug in as Carl and Bee pulled him a part. But thankfully, he seems fine and ready for his next encounter with the wild.

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Abundance

Carl has received more abundantly than any other dog we have ever had. He has been pampered with our attention and has had every one of his needs met. Instead of keeping him off the furniture, we have purchased coverings to go over our couch and a chair for him to lounge upon. He has at least five blankets that he uses for cuddling and dragging to different destinations around the house. He has a collar for walking, a collar to open up the doggy door, and a collar for calming. He is on a special diet of bison to keep his allergies at bay. And when I leave the house, he is given a frozen kong that we fill with a special tasty mixture.

Carl is not only blessed with things, but he is also blessed with relationships. The little boy that lives next door adores him and begs to have him come over to play. When my granddaughter comes over, she primarily wants to play with Carl. When adult friends come by, everyone wants to pet Carl on the head. But most importantly, when my husband sits down after a long day at work, Carl is given the opportunity to sit in his lap.

Most of the time, when we think of abundance, material things come to mind. The world values what people own and their abundance of wealth. But what if there was a different kind of abundance that has eternal worth?  How could we obtain this eternal abundance?  Let us consider that our Heavenly Father is the best of all givers and he loves to lavish us with more than just stuff.

God demonstrates this over and over again throughout the Bible. Let us focus on one event that illustrates how He doesn’t just provide but gives until it overflows. In John chapter 6, Jesus is confronted with a huge crowd.  Some estimate up to 20,000 men, women, and children. He has taught them, nourished their souls, and now it appears that they want him to nourish their stomachs.

It is clear that his disciples would prefer for Jesus to send the crowds away but thankfully, our God cares about his flock. Jesus asks his disciples to take the fish and bread that a young boy has for his happy meal, gives thanks, and then distributes the food among the masses. Once everyone had more than enough, the remains were picked up. Even the leftovers were more than what was initially given out.

How often can we recognize how the leftovers are more than what we start with? I think back when my husband and I got married. We were just two. Now, I have been blessed with two daughters, two son in laws, and four grandchildren. Only God can multiply the blessings in our lives and give abundantly.

Just a few minutes ago, I dropped Carl off at my neighbor’s house. The second the little boy saw him, he came running up to Carl and got down on the floor with him and gave him a huge hug. As I watched this interaction, I couldn’t help but think about how God shows his compassion through breaking enough bread for all to eat or getting on the floor and giving us a hug.

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The Coziness of Life

Carl snuggled up on his cot and closed his eyes. Looking down at him I knew he was comfortable and didn’t want to be disturbed. As long as I stayed in the room where he could see me, he was content to spend his time dozing off and on.

I can’t fault him for this behavior. Ever since I’ve retired, I have had the opportunity to sleep in after my husband gets up to go to work. Once I hear him rise and head to the bathroom, I usually roll over on my side, pull up the sheets and slip back into my personal world of dreams. Many mornings I will wake, look at the clock and debate with myself if I should get up. If I don’t have anything pressing to do, I usually lose the debate and find myself in a comfy position.

Becoming comfy is a state of mind that most of us desire. There is nothing better than finding ourselves in a comfortable financial condition where we don’t have to worry about where our next house payment will come from. We also dream of vacations on the beach or on a cruise ship where our daily needs are met and we can just lay around feeling the heat of the sun.

But as we seek a comfy existence, what are we missing out on? If we think about Jesus and the life He chose, being comfortable doesn’t come to mind. Many nights he slept on the ground and other nights He chose prayer over sleep. Financially, Jesus only owned the clothes on His back and nothing more. If anyone appeared to have a reason to worry, it would be Him.

So why would the Son of God choose this lifestyle over the comfortable ones that we seem to gravitate to? What do you think Jesus was trying to teach us as He walked on this earth?  Luke 9:57 states, “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Why would He shed Himself of every material possession, carry no money, and position Himself towards an uncomfortable lifestyle? What does He know that we all could learn? Could it possibly have to do with the eternal home that we all ultimately desire to reside in? Is there something on the other side of death that He knows and aspires for us?

Jesus shares in John 14:2 about heaven. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

Given this verse, I am encouraged that this world and everything it has to offer is pale in comparison to the mansion that Jesus is preparing for me. If I can take my focus off of being comfy and turn it to the Gospel, I believe that I will understand why Jesus lived the way He did.

As for Carl, I don’t expect him to get up off his cot and intentionally become uncomfortable. But hopefully, I will make more of an effort to look beyond the coziness of this life and place my focus on the heavenly mansion that is being built just for me.

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The Gap of Time Called Waiting

If Carl could just understand that it isn’t time for dinner. He is fed two times a day, one at 5:00 in the evening and the second when he wakes me up. This could be 3:00 or 6:00 AM. When he eats earlier in the morning he doesn’t understand that he must wait until 5:00 PM to be fed. He just doesn’t understand why he must endure this period of time between wanting his food and getting it.

Isn’t this the way it is for us? If we think about it, we are always wondering why something doesn’t just happen. We question God why the proposal for marriage, the promotion, or the birth of a child can’t come earlier. But for many of us, we feel like our questions are raised to deaf ears. Then, when we think it will never happen, it does.

Why doesn’t God just give us the things we ask for right away? Why do we have to wait? Could it be that the gift is in the waiting? Isaiah 40:30-31 states,

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary.

And the young men shall utterly fall,

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength:

They shall mount up with wings like eagles.

They shall run and not be weary.

They shall walk and not faint.”

How many times have I looked at waiting as unproductive dead space in my life? Only focusing on the end result without perceiving God’s intent in the actual wait. In this verse, it states that those who wait on the Lord will have renewed strength. They will soar in this life far above the ordinary.

Practically speaking, the next time I wait for something (which is almost all the time) shouldn’t I spend more time reflecting on how God is present in the situation? If my intent can be on Him and not the end goal, maybe then I can brush off my own pair of wings, spread them out wide and soar over the endless possibilities that God has in store for me.

As for Carl, he can be seen following me around the kitchen. Wondering when I will finally walk to the pantry and open up the garbage can that stores his food. With no understanding of why he can’t be immediately fed, my little furry friend will once again be caught in this gap of time called waiting. img_0931-1

Failures Turned Upside Down

The sleek greyhound walked by Carl and raised his head high, letting the small bully know who was the dominant canine. Knowing Carl, I held the leash a little tighter and was not disappointed when he tried to charge at the hound. But to Carl’s dismay, all he could do was let out a piercing howl to let all of us know that he wasn’t happy about his failed attempt to get in the larger dog’s face. Time and time again, Carl has tried to break free from the leash and engage the dogs that we pass. And each time, he fails.

I have failed at a lot of things in my life. Relationships, sporting competitions, business endeavors, and many other pursuits. And with each failure, I have learned a lesson that I believe has brought me closer to God. Over the course of my life, I have come to see failure as a way to direct me down a different path. A clear example of this was when I retired from teaching and I was looking for some tutoring positions. I put my name out into the community and thought for sure that I would get several jobs. Given that I had always been hired for every teaching position that I had applied for, I was sure that I would have plenty of jobs to choose from. But the jobs didn’t come. I had failed and initially it truly disturbed me. I began questioning myself and couldn’t understand why I had failed at something that came so easily to me in my past.

I have also found with failure comes a wave of emotions that can plague my thoughts for days. Insecurity and a strong urge to flee usually lives in the depths of my soul until there is some form of resolution. It is when these emotions take over that I have to look to God’s word for some form of resolution.

It is amazing to think of the number of failures described in the Bible. And I am thankful for each and every one of them. Joseph had big plans with his new multicolored coat and ended up in a pit. Jonah had his mind made up that he wasn’t going to Nineveh and he took a ride in the stomach of a fish for three days. And then there was Naomi who followed her husband to Moab and found herself a widow and childless. All had failed miserably to fulfill their own dreams but ultimately were used in God’s incredible will.

My ultimate hope in the face of my failures is to be used by God in a very unique way. This thought brings comfort to me and gives me a new insight on what could be a negative experience. As for Carl, he is blessed to be able to shrug off all his failures and focus only on the next dog, squirrel, or rabbit that walks across his path. And if Carl can move on from his failures, I know that I can as well.

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The Squirrels In My Life

I am sure it wasn’t funny to Carl but I had to laugh. He was walking along looking at a squirrel that was running across the yard and ran straight into a telephone pole. His head literally bounced back from the impact.  Carl was definitely not paying attention and he paid the price.

Before giving Carl such a hard time, I have to ask, “What squirrels am I chasing?”

I know for me I have often chased the squirrel of acceptance. For years, I have wanted to be recognized and valued by others, particularly my family. I have also fallen into desiring the wealth and power of this world instead of a relationship with Christ. And when I became fixated on these squirrels, I ended up banging my head against some type of pole that just showed up out of nowhere. Why? Because I wasn’t focused on the best thing.

Casting Crowns, a contemporary Christian band wrote a song called While You Were Sleeping that sums it up best.

“America, what will we miss

While we are sleeping

Will Jesus come again

And leave us slumbering where we lay

America, will we go down in history

As a nation with no room for its King

Will we be sleeping?

Will we be sleeping?”

In Matthew 25:1-13 the Message Bible states it like this:

25 1-5 “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.

6 “In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’

7-8 “The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’

9 “They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’

10 “They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

11 “Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’

12 “He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’

13 “So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.”

In other words, we don’t know when Jesus will be returning so we need to be like the wise girls and make sure we are focused on eternal things and not things from this world. For me, I know that I need to stop running after the squirrel of being accepted or seeking money and power and turn my thoughts to what truly matters. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

As for Carl, I expect he will continue to chase the squirrels every chance he gets, but hopefully next time, he will stop long enough to see the poles that pop up in his path.

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