First of all I want to wish my husband of 40 years, this March 3rd, a Happy Valentines. Then to all you wonderful people who have encouraged me as I have written about this little valentine.. Have a truly blessed day and treat yourself to some extra love and care.
I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. It had been so long since I had seen Carl in this position that it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. I had gotten up in the middle of the night and I happened to look in the hallway and there, paralyzed, was Carl.
Darkness was surrounding him on all sides. I could see Carl’s body shake and knew he was unable to make his way through the door and over to his bed. As I peered in the direction that he was looking, all I could see was Bee, our other French bull dog dozing on her pillow.
Fear can paralyze all of us. It can stop us in our tracks and surround us like the darkness of night. Whatever we are facing can seem too large for us to get through. To others it may seem as passive as a sleeping dog, but to us, it can be too massive to get around.
When the fear begins to continue to lie to us about our inability to move, there is someone that we need to picture in our minds. Someone who didn’t allow fear to dictate His next moves. Someone who knew the horrific events that He would have to get through on our behalf.
Jesus didn’t allow the fear of the night to stop Him from the journey that took him to the grave, the place where we fear the most. He did this so that we would continue when our hearts tell us to stop.
The same power that was used to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that we as believers have to walk through our fears.
The only thing I could do when I saw Carl stuck in place was to escort him to his bed. He didn’t want to walk by his sister Bee so he took a detour under the bed and slid close to the outside wall. Even though it wasn’t the most direct route, he did have the courage to find his way to his bed.
Hopefully, the next time I am gripped with fear, I will be willing to find my way through it, even if I have to follow Carl’s example and take a detour.
Carl’s friend Leo had to be put down today. Leo was a very special dog. I know because we had the privilege of taking care of him for six weeks while his human family transitioned into their new home. Leo had a way of letting you know that you were loved.
People tell us that dogs are man’s best friend. I have to disagree. Dogs, particularly ones like Leo, are more than friends. They are family. He had a way of sticking to my heart strings and even though I didn’t see him again, he will always have a place in my heart. Pets can do that to you.
Sometimes when a loved one passes on, the pain can be very difficult. All kinds of questions for God arise that usually can never be answered. But even through the pain, gratitude for the experience of having that loved one in our lives should reign over the unanswered questions.
So I want to thank Leo’s family for entrusting us to take care of their four legged “baby”. Thank you Leo, for the short time you came into our home and became a part of our family. But, most of all, I want to thank you God for creating animals like Leo, who love us unconditionally.
Peace to you Leo and to your family…..
Carl has a problem. He and his sister Bee are not getting along. He doesn’t see this being an issue but we do. Just the other night, Carl became embarrassed when he was being given his Frontline on his back and out of nowhere attacked his Frenchie sister.
Things didn’t turn out the way that Carl thought they would. Instead of hurting his sister, she took hold of his left cheek and wouldn’t let go until they were pulled apart. Bruised and in pain, Carl retreated to his couch and laid there for the rest of the night.
I am not sure exactly how to solve this problem. Carl’s prideful attitude can take over at the most unexpected times without any sign of aggression. One moment he is the sweetest little fella and then the next he is out of control.
We all have problems that are hard to find solutions for. Some are huge problems while others can be very minor. Many times when we are faced with troublesome issues, we want to take drastic steps to eradicate them. But if you seriously think about most of the problems you experienced in the past, many of them were resolved by what was nearby.
Just a couple of months ago, I was faced with an issue that didn’t seem like it could be resolved. My thoughts traveled to places way out of the scope of reality on how to solve the problem. I was willing to choose steps that would make the matter worse, not better.
Yesterday, I heard a message from Steve Furdick from Elevation Church that resonated in my thoughts about solving problems. He shared about Jesus and the first miracle he performed, the changing of water to wine. If you remember, Jesus used what was readily available to Him. He took the water containers used for ceremonial washing and had servants fill them with water. Once the containers were full, the water turned into 1000 bottles of some of the best wine ever made.
Jesus used what was nearby. When we have a problem, most times the solution can be found close to where we are. Jesus then acted as soon as the problem was presented to Him. He acted in the now. He didn’t wait until tomorrow when it would have been too late, but acted immediately. And lastly, He looked to a normal solution, not an outrageous one like winning the lottery or finding another spouse.
So many times we are confronted with problems that can be resolved if we first of all ask for help in the form of prayer and then focus on what we have at our disposal. Speaking of problems, I am still not sure how I am going to handle Carl’s outbursts of anger but I do believe with some prayer the answers will come.
Carl was in a funk. Almost every waking moment he was constantly seeking out our attention. It had gotten to be pretty annoying in the last couple of days. It didn’t make any sense. We were home more now than ever before. He was getting a long walk every day and receiving more treats than usual. So why was he so needy?
So often, everything on the outside looks great. We all have a tendency to look at others and think that they must have a perfect life based on the things they possess and the situation they are in. But just like Carl, many times our peace doesn’t come from what is on the outside but what lies deep within our souls.
The times when an unexplained dark cloud sweeps over our lives can be the most difficult. It is easier to travel through hard times when you are sharing the circumstance with others. We can all huddle together and know that others can relate to what is happening. But it is when we have an internal mood pass through, that life feels like you are on your own.
No one likes to be alone in their sorrow and the gut wrenching feeling that comes with it. We can easily deny the feelings but everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. When this overwhelming emotion takes residence in our bodies, we should look to the one that can sympathize with us.
Jesus had been with God since the beginning. They had been together from the start. But in order for us to be able to have a relationship with God, Jesus had to separate himself from his father.
It is hard to fathom the deep hurt that Jesus and God felt to be a part. It was such a devastating experience that God turned the day into night. In the darkness, Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 26:46 Words that demonstrate how hurt He was as He left this world alone.
Jesus wants us to know that He has been alone and knows the feelings that accompany this state of mind. His willingness to experience isolation from his father was done so that we would choose to call on Him when we are grieving in silence.
As I wrote this, I felt the need to go and spend some time with Carl. I felt he wanted to know that he was loved so I sat on the couch with him. As I petted his soft coat and spoke to him, he seemed to appreciate the attention I was giving him. In the same way, we can receive what we need if we converse with God and use His word to encourage us out of the rough times.
Carl was clearly upset. Even though he wanted the spot in front of the fire, he didn’t want his sister Bee to occupy his place on the sofa. She looked too comfortable and he didn’t like it. He should be occupying the space that she now claimed as her own.
Carl is no stranger to jealousy. Many times in the years that he has lived in our home, he has displayed a streak of envy towards Bee. It has been very difficult for him to see the benefit of the space he currently occupies. Too many times, Carl would rather be somewhere else.
How often do we want to be somewhere else in our lives? When I was young, I wanted to be older. When I was single, I wanted to be married. When I didn’t have a child, I wanted one. And the list goes on and on.
God only promises us the present. It is His gift to us. Whatever our present situation is, is what He wants us to be grateful for. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
God is not bound in time. He knows our future and our past. He understands our desires and needs. Most importantly, He wants us to cherish the moments and situations that we are presently experiencing. Too often, we spend too much time focused on being out of a situation that we are in. This mindset can only rob us of the gift of the present.
Carl will probably never understand the value of being content in his present situation. He will continue to desire what he doesn’t have, particularly when it involves his sister Bee. But hopefully over time, he will see the blessings that he has been given, no matter where he is lying.
For the last couple of years, I have written about Carl, my French bull dog, with the attempt to help others see a glimpse of how God works in very mysterious ways. But what I recently discovered is that my writings have not been for you at all. They have been for me.
Each week, I have stumbled on one of Carl’s attributes or actions that has stirred my heart to give it life. Each blog started as an idea that needed to be birthed, nurtured and released into the wind.
I must confess that too many times I cared too much about the reactions I received from others. But after reading a phenomenal book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic, I now know my creativity must be unleashed for my sake.
Her following quote literally changed my perspective about my writing. “I will never stop creating, no matter the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be.”
We have all been given our own unique gift of creativity that is just waiting to come out. Mine just happens to be writing. The irony of this gift is that it wasn’t unfolded until my mid 50’s. Before then, I didn’t have the desire or the confidence to write. But with the help of Carl and his sister Bee, I have been given a springboard of ideas to work from.
I happen to be writing this from the Miami airport after being on a cruise for the last week. Carl and Bee have been staying with my daughter and her four children. I have received an occasional text with a picture of my four legged friends and how they are adapting to their life with small children.
My youngest grandson decided to use Bee as a chalkboard and wrote all over her back with a red marker. Carl has been roaming around their backyard wondering if we will ever return. Both dogs have demonstrated a resilience to their temporary environments.
It is amazing what we can all learn about ourselves through the gifts that God has given us. For me it is my writing. What is yours? My hope is that you will not let your gift stand dormant in your soul, but instead, you will give it life and send it into the wind.