Category Archives: visions

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.


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.




A Carl Sighting

There has been a Carl sighting. He was spotted hanging out the window of a big black truck. If you look close enough, it appears that he seems to be very happy with his situation.

This morning, my husband called Carl’s name as he left the house. Carl immediately jumped down from his comfy bed and followed my husband out the door to the driveway where the big black truck was parked. It didn’t take any prodding by my husband to encourage Carl to be placed on his favorite seat.

I have tried to encourage Carl to get up out of the bed on any given morning but if he isn’t ready to get up, he ignores me. On the other hand, if my husband just looks in Carl’s direction and says his name, the little fawn colored dog will show no hesitation to follow him out the door.

Why will Carl only respond to my husband and no one else? We can ask this same question of sheep and how they will only respond to the voice of their shepherd.

As I was reading John chapter 10, I was perplexed by the illustration of Jesus as he refers to himself as the shepherd and the people who follow him as his sheep. How could these curly haired animals teach me how to be a better follower of Christ?

John 10:3-5 “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

In the same manner, if Jesus is my shepherd, I should hear his voice and follow Him. But what about all the other voices I have heard in my life and followed? In today’s world, I have been particularly distracted by the many voices screaming from my computer, television, and iphone.

Instead of allowing these devices to feed me what the world wants me to hear, I have been trying to use them to feed me what Jesus wants me to hear. Christian radio when I wake up, Bible study, and prayer will hopefully keep me in tuned to Jesus’ voice.

Carl’s response to my husband’s voice reminds me of the curly sheep that will only respond to the voice of the shepherd. So instead of getting aggravated with him, when he won’t budge when I call, I hope that it will remind me to listen intently for the voice of Jesus.


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Ghostly Figures

I could barely see the ghostly figure down the hall but I knew it was Carl. He was frozen in fear. Once again, I got up from the warmth of my bed and stood in front of him. With a quiet voice, I told him to come and as I stood my ground, he walked past the source of his fear with his eyes on me.  Bee lay slumbering on her bed without making a move.  Even so, Carl has become so terrified of his sister that he has become immobilized in fear, particularly at night.

Fear can cause a little dog to be made into a horrendous monster and it can cause situations in our own lives to be magnified out of proportion. Many times in my own life I have been paralyzed with anxiety. On many occasions it has stopped me from pursuing opportunities that I believe that God has put before me. In these times, I created my own horrendous monster that blocked me from going forward.

Peter had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Given this experience, we would think that he would believe that Jesus could do anything.  But only hours later, Peter’s faith was tested.

Jesus sent Peter and the other disciples on their way across the sea. A ghastly storm brews and the men are concerned that they will die. Through the rain and high waves, they see a ghostly figure walking across the water. As the figure draws closer, the men call out in terror.

We pick up the story in Matthew 14:27-31. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Notice, that as Peter was focused on Jesus, he was able to walk out on the water. But when he took his eyes off his Lord and placed it on the wind, he sank. How often do we glare at our anxieties and don’t even think about going to prayer with them?

As long as Carl could focus on me, the fear of passing by his sister was minimized. I must admit that I can become frustrated with him and want to just go back to sleep.  But then I think about Peter sinking and how Jesus pulled him up out of the water when he lacked faith. This story reminds me of Jesus’ compassion when we struggle.

So as long as Carl suffers from the fear of his sister, I will be there for him. And it will serve as a reminder that Jesus is there for me when I take my sights off of Him and place them on fears of this world.





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.





The Stops of Life

Carl will not move. He has perched himself in between the back room and the hallway. I am holding the gate open for him to move forward, but he refuses to move his body out of the way so that I can let the gate go back into position. Finally, I let the gate go and he retreats back behind it.  Knowing that a treat will be the only thing to get him to move, I go into the kitchen, dip my hand into the bag of treats, and make my way back to where I have left him. Once he sees the treat, he quickly moves into the hallway and I can close the gate.

I can’t help but giggle under my breath when I think of Carl’s behavior. We all act like Carl at times and refuse to budge over issues in our own lives. Sometimes, we stop because we refuse to listen to reason but there are other times when God causes us to stop.  I have often thought about how God designs our steps but just recently started thinking about how God can also design our stops.

I used to become upset if I was rejected for a position or an opportunity, but lately I have been asking God for insight on why He has stopped my forward motion. One great example of this comes in Numbers 22. Balaam, a sorcerer has been hired by the enemies of Israel to go and curse Israel.  So one morning, Balaam gets on his donkey and rides out to complete his mission. As he rides along, the donkey sees the Angel of the Lord with a drawn sword standing in his path and stops in his tracks. Balaam doesn’t understand why the donkey has stopped and hits him to make him move. The donkey knows he can’t get by the Angel so he presses his body up against a wall, crushing Balaam’s leg. Balaam begins giving the donkey a beating and then the donkey turns toward Balaam and begins talking to him. He tells him that he has been a faithful donkey and he would move if he could but he can’t. At this point, God opens Balaam’s eyes and he sees the Angel of the Lord standing with his sword drawn.

Another example comes in Acts 16:6,7 when Paul wants to lead his missionary team into Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit would not permit them to do so. It is easy to understand why God would stop Balaam from going to curse the Israelites but it is not so easy to understand why God would stop Paul from preaching the Gospel in Bithynia.  Whatever the reason, God did stop Paul and He will also stop us. Even when we think it is for our good, don’t be surprised when God halts your plans. As you are going through the detour that He has created, don’t ponder too long on the stops he has placed in your path. Instead, spend more time thinking about the blessings that you are experiencing because of the stops.  And as for Carl, he is back behind the gate crying for me. So I guess I need to get some treats and coax him out once again.IMG_0113

Dropped Blankets

I can hear the hum of the washing machine and the soft sound of the refrigerator. Other than these familiar noises, all is quiet. Carl and Bee have finally settled down after a rough housing episode that included Carl holding onto the blanket that Bee was sleeping on and dragging her across the floor. With teeth bared and a distinct growl, Carl was determined to claim the blanket, even if that meant pulling Bee around and around until the blanket was pulled out from under her. Bee appeared to be just as determined to hold her ground and refused to abandon ship. Finally, Carl crouched on the floor and looked up at Bee and as if all the fire had left his body, he dropped the blanket.

I sometimes wonder why we drop our blankets and turn away from the yearnings of our heart. Why is it that one minute we can be bound and determined to pursue a dream and then just leave it, like a blanket sitting in the middle of the floor. Recently, I had a thought that would change my world. An idea that wouldn’t leave my mind. Over the course of several days, I contemplated it and even shared it with friends. After receiving positive feedback, the idea grew like a snowball being rolled over fresh fallen snow. The next step to my idea involved action, the kind that once in place wouldn’t be easy to reverse.

As I contemplated my dilemma, a scripture in Isaiah came to life. One that I knew in my heart was meant for this situation. It states in Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back: lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”  I now wonder if God is telling me to move forth and enlarge my vision for my life.  To not only dream the dreams but live them to the fullest.

Time will only tell.

But for Carl, he seems pretty content that he dropped his blanket, climbed up on his cot in front of the fire, and is resting peacefully.