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The Power of Silence

Carl doesn’t have a lot to say. Every once in a while when he is upset or wants our attention, he will give us his ear piercing screech that will stop you in your tracks. Other than these times, he is for all purposes, quiet.

I have been giving some thought to the fact that here is a dog that hasn’t spoken a word, but has lots of admirers. People who run into me always ask about Carl, and how he is doing. And all this without saying a single word.

We could all learn from Carl. I know of times when I have opened my mouth, only to regret the words that came out. Hurtful words thrown out like feathers from a pillow scattered into crevices that were impossible to retrieve. Words that stained the hearts of others.

Jesus wasn’t quick to speak and when He did, the words were thoughtful and held eternal power. Notice His interaction with the Pharisees when they brought a woman who had been found in an adulterous situation.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”(John 8:4-11)

I can’t imagine how irritated the Pharisees were when Jesus was drawing in the sand and saying nothing. They wanted Jesus to speak words that they could use against Him, but He remained silent. And when Jesus finally did speak, the words were words that brought life and not death.

Since Carl can’t speak, I thought I would give him an opportunity to try posting this blog. Thinking maybe he might want to say something to his cyberspace friends. But even with some bribing, he just sat there.

Thinking about what he will write for the blog.

I have a lot to learn from my silent friend. As hard as it can be, in the future, I hope I can be quiet when wanting to speak. And like Jesus, speak words of life and not death.

The Last Will Be First

Carl hasn’t been challenged that much in life. Every day, he has a similar routine that begins with a walk, lunch, sleeping in the sun, dinner, and then finding a good spot to spend the night. Every once in a while, his routine is broken up but nothing to get his panties tied in a knot about.

Most of us would initially say that we would love to have a life like Carl’s. Just drifting from one fun thing to the next without giving much thought to anything but our pleasure and basic needs. Initially, everyone says, “Sign me up!”

Yesterday, I went to my second go cart race with my nine year old grandson. He has driven five races and initially he did extremely well. Since he just started, he began in a division that didn’t require much skill. He easily came in first or second place without much effort.

But as most of you who have played a sport or been involved in developing a skill, there are different levels that change up the effort and perseverance needed in order to be successful. So my grandson was now racing among boys his age that had raced fifty races to his five. They had cars that had been fine tuned to the race conditions and lots of people supporting them.

My son in law and his good friend are both mechanics and raced when they were young and are now getting back into the sport after being away for decades. So as you can guess, winning wasn’t in the picture. But on the other hand, an unforeseen gift was.

Everett, my grandson, and his best friend started the first race with high hopes. Everett had made a mistake in qualifying and ended up at the end of the pack. He was extremely upset but pushed through the emotions and went out determined to do his best.

Yesterday’s conditions were challenging to say the least. It was over 95 degrees and the course was hard and slick which made it difficult to stay on the track when making turns. After about the fifth lap, my attention was deferred from my grandson to his friend. A car started spinning right in front of him and he had no choice but to run right into him. From afar, it didn’t look good. And when the ambulance pulled on the track, my heart started racing.  All I could do was start praying.

With my other grandson and Everett’s friend’s brother running toward me, I pulled them close to me and comforted them. And then something happened that touched my heart more than any victory could ever. Eli, my five year old grandson took his friend’s hand and said, “Let us pray for your brother.” And then he closed his eyes and asked God to take care of his friend.

It seemed forever before finally, Everett’s friend was able to walk off the track on his own. He was shaken up and had to be closely monitored for the rest of the time we were there. The paramedic came over to our trailer and double checked on him, but he was ultimately okay.

Everett raced his last race without his friend. He got out there and did the best job he could, spinning out several times, but just like the ready ever battery bunny, Everett pulled back into the race and finished last.

But to me, Everett and Eli finished first. First in character and integrity. First in reaching out to God, when so many children would have become angry and self-absorbed. First where it truly matters in life. In my mind, this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As for Carl, I believe he has a great dog life. But as for me, I want to be more like my grandson, who was willing to be put in a situation that challenged more than just his driving skills, but also his character.

Small Skirmishes

As we pulled into the campground overlooking the lake, raindrops started spitting at us in all directions. We quickly put up a canopy to keep dry. I tried to coax Carl to come in from the rain but all he did was stare at me as if I was crazy.  He just couldn’t understand that if he came in under the cover, he wouldn’t get wet.

Finally, after a little prompting, Carl came in from the rain while we finished unpacking. After some sniffing and marking his territory, he found a place to lie down and get comfortable. All went well for a couple of minutes until his sister Bee got in his space.  Then Carl had to let Bee know that he was the alpha dog and she needed to fall in line. 

How often do we need to fall in line with what God wants us to do? So often, we can cross over the line and just like Bee, come head to head with an unpleasant experience. Many times, we are caught off guard and don’t even realize what we have done, or how to rectify the situation.

In Judges 4, Barak, the main military leader, was given a specific command by God. He was told to take 10,000 men and go fight the enemy. But he was afraid, and wouldn’t do it unless Deborah, the designated judge of the time, would go with him.

Because he refused, Barak didn’t receive the blessing that God had intended for him. Instead of giving him recognition for leading his men into battle, a woman took the glory for the win. History records that Jael killed Sisera, the enemy’s military leader, which gave the Israelites the victory.

How often do we miss out on the goodness, God has in store for us? All we need to do is simply obey in the little battles of life. God knows that if we can win the small skirmishes, we are more apt to go forth into the big clashes that will come our way.

Carl won the confrontation that he had with Bee. He walked away feeling strong and in charge. Bee on the other hand, didn’t feel totally defeated, and will probably not back down the next time the two act like bullies.

Either way, Carl and Bee’s Frenchie scuffles serve as a good reminder that I need be attentive to the simple acts of obedience that God sends my way. If only I could teach the two of them to obey me..

New Every Morning

Have you ever had a deep seated passion one day that took over all the other interests in your life?  For the last couple of years, writing about the antics of Carl has been a joy that I have loved to share with all of my cyberspace friends. But recently, a desire to go a little deeper into the lives of women in the Bible has pushed my thoughts in a different direction.

As I have studied these women, I have been consumed with so many complex emotions. At first, when I hadn’t made their acquaintances, I thought they would be boring and old fashion. But what I have found instead, are women just like us, with the same desires and shortfalls.

For all you men that are out there, I hope you will also want to discover more about the women that are the center of your life. As for the pet lovers, I will continue to write about my four legged friend.

Just a couple of minutes ago, Carl was seen leading my husband down the road to who knows where. With his head held high and tailless tail wagging, he could be seen walking the neighborhood. I am sure there is an adventure in the making.

We are all unique and ever changing. That is what is wonderful about life.  We don’t have to get stuck in what our passions were. Just as we don’t have to get wedged in our yesterdays.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23

Carl’s Great Escape

Carl hardly ever has his eyes totally closed when I am nearby.  He is constantly on alert for any unusual movement I make.  I think Carl wants to make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything fun or entertaining.

Keeping an Eye on the Situation

No matter if he is in his bed, on the couch, or lying down on the screen porch, his eyes are looking in all directions for any detection of movement. When I need to go outside without Carl, I usually have to tippy toe past him and open the door without making a sound.

If I am caught, Carl will slither through the door beside me, and wander around outside until he is placed back inside. This can be aggravating when I am in a hurry or have a task that doesn’t call for the help of a Frenchie with no tail.

Carl loves the folly of exploring outside the boundaries of the house. He is unaware of the dangers of the busy street that borders our yard.  He typically won’t go out into the street unless he spots a dog being walked. Then all bets are off.

Enjoying Freedom

Just like Carl, we all have a tendency to folly out beyond the boundaries set before us by God. Proverbs 15:21 states it simply but profoundly.

“Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.”

How often do we slither outside and wander where we are not intended to travel? This can take place in our minds or in our actions. No matter, there are times when we lack sense and need to return to the straight path.

As for Carl, he will continue to dart outside every chance he can. And you will find me taking a hold of his collar and dragging him back to the safety of the screened porch.

Waiting for the Right Opportunity

Stuck Behind the Wall

Bee is still healing from her broken leg. There has been some improvement with the bone mending but recently an infection on her leg has caused us to be concerned. The cast has been rubbing up against her leg and intensified the infection.

There are times in our lives that we are broken. It could be from a death, a diagnosis, or a wrecked relationship. No matter what caused us to be shattered, we usually have the opportunity to mend and become even better than before.

But occasionally, when we are broken, an infection of sin will set in and keep the healing process from happening.  If we are not careful, during these broken times, the sin of anger or bitterness can seep into our hearts.

While plagued with the constant inward thoughts we become stuck behind a wall built by all the why questions.  With no answers and only scabs created by hostility, we can become unable to move on. So how do we become healed? If we turn to God, our creator, the answer can be found.

David was often broken and could have easily been satiated with why questions.  But instead of focusing on questions that would keep him behind the wall, he focused on God.

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

  Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits—

  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  

  who redeems your life from the pit                             

  and crowns you with love and compassion,

  who satisfies your desires with good things

  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

Bee’s paw is finally getting better, but until it is healed, she has to wear a stylish cone that has to be worn to keep her from licking. Just like my little dog, when sin seeps in, we can use the cone of God’s word to shield us from aggravating our own infection.