Category Archives: spiritual

Wavering Faith

Carl is out with his human dad buying a snow shovel. The guys already have cabin fever after only a couple of hours of snow that could paralyze our community for the next few days. Carl is not much a fan of the snow but he wasn’t going to pass up a chance to spend time in his favorite place in the world, the big black truck.

Once they returned and we had lunch, we all got in our winter gear and made our way out into the winter wonderland. Both Bee and Carl tolerated the wet snow for the chance to get some exercise. The dogs weren’t sure what to think about all the white flakes floating through the air. Every couple of minutes they would shake their bodies sending the snow in all directions.

Sending the snow in all directions reminds me of the night when Jesus was taken by the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Apparently after Jesus was taken prisoner, all the disciples scattered. And this was only hours after the disciples proclaimed that Jesus was from God.

Many times we can know something in our minds but if the conviction isn’t in our hearts, it won’t impact our lives. James states this perfectly in James 1:5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

I must admit that my faith can waver like the waves in certain situations. It is so easy to believe God will show up in the times that I feel confident but when I see no hope in certain circumstances, I can begin to doubt. This verse has convicted me and hopefully I will not allow doubt to reign in my heart.

As for Carl and Bee, they continued to shake the flakes from their coats. We ultimately turned back and made our way home to the warmth of our fire place. After entering the house and taking their coats off, it didn’t take long for the two bullies to find a spot where they could remain warm and watch the snow fall from a distance.

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Temporal Joy

There was a marked contrast in how Bee and Carl were behaving. Carl was strutting around with a joy based on the fact that his earthly father loved him. They had just gotten back from a long walk in the cold weather. Just the two of them. Then there was Bee. She was clearly annoyed that she had been left behind.  No matter how I tried to console her, she was upset and demonstrated it by being domineering. IMG_2852IMG_2803

Another contrast that I noticed happened last night at the end of one of the most exciting football games I have ever witnessed. The Minnesota Vikings were down by one point and it appeared that the New Orleans Saints were going to move on to the quarter finals. With only one play left and over 61 yards to cover, Case Keenum threw a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to win the game.

But it wasn’t the way that Case initially reacted to what happened that caught my attention. Even though many compare how he ran around the field trying to find someone to hug to Jim Valvano when North Carolina State won the national basketball championship in 1983.

It wasn’t even the fact that Case shouldn’t have been the quarterback playing in this game. Being the third in line at the beginning of the season, who would have ever believed that he would be the one throwing the football?

No the contrast came when Case was interviewed to share his thoughts about this moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG2XgL76uwI

He shared how this was the third most important moment after giving his life to Jesus Christ and marrying his wife. Then he walked off.  And then what I saw in the background as they moved the cameras off of Case caught my attention.

There was Stefon Diggs reenacting the play that won the game. With photographers all around him, he reenacted catching the ball and running into the end zone.

I can totally relate to what he was doing. I have also tried to recapture that brief joy that comes from doing something incredible. If not physically trying to reenact it, thinking about it and playing it back in my mind and hoping to capture that emotion that came with the initial act.

But I have never been able to experience the same joy that came with the act itself. And that was what stood out to me. Case knew it too. He knew that the throwing of the football was third in his list of priorities.

For all of us, we will have victories (maybe not as spectacular as this one) and we will also have defeats. And as long as we have our priorities in order, we can experience an eternal joy that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Overcoming our Feelings

I am not sure how Carl is feeling about being back under our roof. For the first two days upon returning from a house full of children, he seemed depressed. He basically laid on the couch and slept for the majority of the time. After several days, he now seems to be more content about his present situation.  I am not sure why I care so much about how he feels.

Why should how a person feels be so important to all of us?  I will never forget taking my father in law to the doctors after being diagnosed with lung cancer.  Every time we were approached by a nurse as she escorted us into the examination room we would always be asked the same question. “How are you doing?” Which could be interpreted as “How are you feeling about life?”

I am sure this is just a way to greet people, but in reality, what should we be asking people when we encounter them? Should a person’s feelings be the most important aspect of their being?

I just finished listening to a message by Joyce Myers that really challenged me. She explained that humans are made up of three different parts, the physical body, the soul, and the spirit. A person’s feelings fall under the category of soul along with the mind and will. Deeper into who we are is our spirit that should be dictated by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures.

She explained that if we live by how we feel or our emotions, than we are not going to experience the joy that comes from living by the Spirit.  Jesus even addresses this in John 15: 11. Since He created us, He knows what will complete us emotionally.

If I remain in Him, I can have joy no matter the circumstances. Even when it involves something as devastating as lung cancer. So how do I remain in Him? By reading the Scriptures when I don’t FEEL like it. It is only through the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit can push through our soul (feelings, mind, and will) and motivate our physical body to do the Will of God.

It was interesting, because just as I was writing this, I had the urge to go over and check on Carl and was tempted to turn the television set on. As I looked down at the dozing dog, I was reminded that I needed to return to what I believe is God’s Will (writing this blog) and dismiss my feelings.

Now that I have completed this entry and getting ready to send it off, I am filled with a sense of contentment that can only come from digging past my soul and pulling out what is of true spiritual value.

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The Power of a Name

Carl has been away for over a week. He has taken up residence with my daughter’s family. I got a text from her stating that her children didn’t want to let him go.  They had fallen in love with our sweet dog and proved it by changing his name to Uncle Carl.

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Prior to this stay, Carl was only tolerated by my daughter’s family. So when I had heard that his name had been changed, it warmed my heart. How often do we enjoy hearing an endearing name come from someone we love?  As a mother, I cherish being called mom or mommy.

When my husband and I were dating, he began calling me Little. When we were married, he had this name engraved inside my wedding ring. To this day, I find it very special when he refers to me as Little.

If given a name by a loved one is special, I can’t help but wonder what Abram and Sarai felt when God intentionally changed their names. In Genesis 17, Abram has an encounter with God. At the age of 99, we could all assume that Abram was waiting for his final exit. But God had other plans for him.

The first thing God did was change his name as well as his wife’s. Abram’s name would be Abraham which means father of the multitudes and Sarai’s name would be Sarah which means princess of nations. Given that this couple had been barren for long after their child bearing age, Sarah laughed when she had heard the news.

I am sure even after God had told them that they would have a child, Sarah and Abraham had to continue to doubt. But what about the name changes? Why would God change their names if He wasn’t going to make them parents? The time between God’s announcement and the pregnancy had to be agonizing. And all they had to believe with were the names that God had given them.

Sometimes when my husband and I are going through rough spots in our marriage, I will think about the name inscribed in my ring and how much he loved me when he called me his Little.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, I believe that the love that is represented in this name will get us through the tough times and allow God to work his miracles.

As for Uncle Carl, he is now home and missed by all the grandchildren. He also sIMG_2845eems a little sad to be among the quiet walls of our home. I am sure that over time, he will bounce back to the playful dog that we all know.

As for my daughter’s family, I truly feel thankful for the love that was extended to our little dog and the name that officially made him family.

 

 

Front Row Seat

I have to make a confession. Neither Carl nor I like the night time. I don’t like driving in the dark and you won’t see Carl or I walking after the sun has set. But if there was to be an exception, it would have to be during the Christmas season when many have their houses lit up with glowing lights.

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My distaste for the darkness of night gives me more respect for the shepherds that spent night after night tending to their sheep. Instead of being nestled in their beds they were out in the fields protecting their livestock from the dangers of the dark.

As we all have probably experienced in the darkness, shadows take on a life of their own. We can think we see something but in the light, it ends up being nothing but an overblown imagination.

But this was different. Instead of a shadow, an angel surrounded by a brilliant light appeared among the shepherds. Their initial reaction was a deep seated fear of this heavenly being. But as quickly as the fear set in, the angel comforted them with words that would be remembered for the rest of time.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12.

As the shepherds were digesting these words, what happened next sealed their belief that this was truly from God. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14.

And sure enough, the shepherds left the field and found the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. After seeing the baby, they were so filled with joy that they couldn’t stop talking about the child and what the angel had told them.

Why did God have his angels appear to these shepherds? What was it about these men that gave them a front row seat to the most incredible event of mankind? Weren’t shepherds considered unreliable and on the bottom of the social ladder? Weren’t shepherds unable to enter the temple because they were considered unclean?

Humble hearts. These men were chosen for their humble hearts. Even today, God doesn’t choose the prideful man with everything this world can offer. Instead He seeks out the ordinary. The ones that have a hunger in their hearts for the truth.

Just the other night, I was driving through a neighborhood with all the lights of Christmas all around me. As I rode in awe of the lights that portrayed different interpretations of Christmas, I couldn’t help but think how pale it all was compared to the brilliance of the glory of God that lit up the skies on that night so many years ago.

 

 

 

An Allusive Light

Every once in a while when I have the flash light in my hand, I get tempted to put the lazar function on and trace it over the floor. It only takes a minute until Carl spots the light and begins to hunt it down. He usually gets very excited and will slip and slide all over the floor until the light is turned off.

What is it about the light that causes such a reaction from my dogs? And why does this light cause Carl to become so consumed that he is willing to do anything to get to it?

More importantly, what was it about the star that rose in the sky after the birth of Jesus that caused the wise men to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles to find the baby? For months, they traveled, gazing up at the star that was directing them towards Bethlehem.

It is interesting that they are referred to as wise. Dictionary.com defines the word “wise” as “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”

I am sure many didn’t see these men as wise as they packed their gifts and headed out into the desert in search for an unknown destination. Even so, every night when the shadows of the last light slipped behind the horizon, the star would appear even brighter than before.

As they drew closer to the Christ child, their excitement must have grown. And when they arrived in Jerusalem, people began to talk about them. They seemed so determined to locate this baby that King Herod called them into his chambers to find out more.

But being wise, they knew that this king only wanted ill will for this infant. So after leaving Jerusalem they determined not to go back to the king with the infant’s location.

Finally, after months of travel, they arrived at their destination. There was nothing about the house they entered that would indicate royalty. The parents were apparently very poor and the baby had no physical trait that would indicate that he would become a king over all humanity.

But none of that mattered. These men knew that they were in the presence of God. In reverence, they knelt in front of the baby and his mother and laid down their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men must have felt a satisfaction that can only come from being in the presence of God. Unlike them, Carl will never feel the satisfaction of catching the light that is so allusive.

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No Comfy Beds

Carl loves a good walk. Because his snout is a little longer than most French Bull Dogs, he can tolerate an extended walk in both the heat and the cold. But as much as he loves to walk, when he is close to home, he picks up his pace and is clearly happy to walk through the doors and lie on the cool floor and drink from his water bowl.

I also enjoy walking but after about three miles, I am also glad to make my way through the screened in porch and into my house where I can sit down and rest. I have to say that I am truly grateful for the ability to return to my temperature controlled home with all its amenities on a daily basis.

Sometimes, during this season of the year, we can romanticize the birth of Jesus. But in reality, what Mary and Joseph had to go through was truly difficult. Instead of a three mile walk, they had to walk over a hundred miles to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This journey for a woman who was nine months pregnant had to be extremely challenging.

Joseph wasn’t sure how he would provide for his young bride and the baby that would come. He knew that many people would be coming to Bethlehem to be counted among the census and that rooms would be hard to come by. He only had his faith and the knowledge that God would provide for them.

Exhausted and famished, Joseph and Mary went from place to place to find a bed to lay their heads. No temperature controlled rooms with cold water coming out of a tap. No comfy beds with tons of pillows that we mold around our bodies. Not even a hard floor of an extra spare room.

When all options seemed closed, a farmer offers his barn for the young couple to reside in. Too tired to turn the offer down, the two make their way into the smelly space where they were greeted by a couple of sheep and a donkey.

For most of us, we would ask where God was in all of this. But I am sure Mary kept repeating the words that the angel told her nine months ago. “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 1:37. She believed that He would give them what they needed. She only had to trust.

Carl has no reason to believe that his needs will not be met. Just yesterday when the temperatures were in the thirties, we purchased a coat for him and his sister Bee so they would be warm as we took a walk on the trail.  Which got me thinking. If we are willing to make sure our animals are taken care of, why wouldn’t God, our creator, take care of our needs?

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