Hidden Gifts

It’s time to move on. Carl still lies in the backyard under a mum and a spread of ivy that is covering up where there used to be churned up dirt. Time to look in a different direction. A time for leaving the path that I have been so accustomed to and finally putting it to rest.

Bee’s ears perked up by the mention of a walk. Her body came to life at this simple word. Instead of being told to stay, the temperatures have become perfect for our little Frenchie with her smashed in nose to take to the streets. A time to wiggle her little tail and pull her master around the block.

Now that Bee has taken center stage, her personality has begun to shine. It has always been there but my attention was pulled in another direction. How often do we get distracted by certain things in life that keep us from seeing the gifts that are right in front of us?

So many of the religious leaders that interacted with Jesus missed the gift that God had given to them. For thousands of years, the Jews had been waiting for the Messiah. They had studied the law and knew the scriptures but when Jesus finally arrived, the religious leaders missed the gift.

The love of power and the deep seeded pride of being right had kept them blinded from seeing exactly what they had prayed and yearned for.  Before I can judge these men, I need to reflect on my own life and see what keeps me from seeing the gifts, particularly the gift of Jesus.

I know that the distractions of this world with all of its glamour and pleasantries has kept me from seeing who Jesus is. If I could just move these distractions out of the way, I probably will be surprised at how much clearer I can see who Jesus is.

I have realized from having to go down this altered path in life that there are gifts for us to take hold of. And for me, Bee just happens to be one of them.

Treasured Relationships

Walking Bee looks a lot different from when we walked Carl. Carl always led and under no circumstances did he need assistance. He could walk over five miles and hardly break a sweat.  Bee on the other hand, can only walk a couple hundred yards in the heat before needing to stop and catch her breath.

So today, my husband decided to pull out the doggy stroller so Bee could complete a walk around the neighborhood with us. And sure enough after only a few minutes, we had to place her in the stroller, and tie her down so she could enjoy our company.

In today’s world with everything calling for our attention, we might need to be tied down so we can enjoy each other’s company. So often we are distracted by good things but miss out on the best things that God has provided.

One of the most valuable treasures that God has given to us are our relationships with people who have common spiritual values. People who are willing to encourage us in our weakest moments without judgment or condemnation. People who feel comfortable giving us advice when we are fighting our own personal battles.  

Proverbs 20:21 states, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Proverbs 24:25-26 states, “The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”

When we have a common purpose and are willing to listen to the advice of people we can trust, we will be victorious in the end.

Dogs are not able to give advice but they are able to extend an undeniable sense of love and compassion for their two legged friends. And since Carl has passed, Bee has been there to show us lots of love, even if it is from the inside of a doggy stroller.

Unfamiliar Waters

I am now in unfamiliar waters. Far from the normalcy that I have become accustomed to. Since Carl has left us, life has taken me in a direction that I didn’t choose or predict.

Many times in life, we get diverted and have to figure out how we are going to handle the situation that has been placed in our lives. There is no one that knew this better than the Apostle Paul. Since his conversion, life changed drastically for him.

Paul lost all control of his circumstances. After being imprisoned for his faith, taken on a ship in rough waters, and then shipwrecked on an island called Malta, this man only had his faith in God to rely on. While on the island, he accidently picked up a poisonous snake that bit him. Everyone thought he would die but instead, he lived without any effects of the snake.

Malta was a place that Paul did not plan on going to. He probably wondered how God would use him on such a small remote island in the middle of nowhere. But He did. Just like Paul, I am in a place that I was not expecting to be in without my little writing buddy by my side.

God has given me Bee, my other French bull dog to help fill the gap. She has been a little lost since Carl has left us, but enjoying all the extra attention a one dog family affords. She has been quick to get in my husband’s lap and come by my side for extra petting. Just this morning, she truly enjoyed a walk around the block without having to fight her way to the front.

Just like Bee, I need to be willing to look forward and not towards the past. And if I do, hopefully, I will understand how to find God’s presence in the midst of unfamiliar waters.

Carl- On the Other Side

If Carl could see my husband and I as we have mourned for him in the last couple of days, he probably wouldn’t understand the tears or sad looks. He wouldn’t comprehend how the thought of him in all of his usual places causes us to catch our breath as we try to shake off the unwelcome feelings.

The pain of loss is a difficult emotion to move through. I keep telling myself that is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. But it still doesn’t make the feelings go away or change the realization that we will never see our beloved Carl again.

I have received several encouraging notes about a Rainbow Bridge where animals go until they greet their owners on the other side. A place where animals have all their needs met and no longer suffer.

I love the thought of Carl running around an open field making new four legged friends. No leashes or restraints, just the freedom of running free. I can also envision him as he turns his head upward and howls for everyone to know that he has arrived.

But what gives me the most hope about this situation can be found in John 11:32-33. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

What gives me the most encouragement is the fact that Jesus entered Mary’s pain. He didn’t minimize it or down play it, but he allowed it to consume him. He cried with her and I know he is crying with me now. He doesn’t think being upset at the loss of a dog is silly or trite. Instead, he is beside me as I suffer.

It brings me an extreme amount of comfort just knowing the author of life has entered into our pain. And with this knowledge, I believe that He will provide for our furry friend in death as he takes care of us in life.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me as I have written about all the craziness that came with living with Carl. I am not sure if I will continue to blog, but I am sure God will provide an avenue if it is meant to be. In the meantime, if you would like to purchase my book, Empty Hands, it is now available today on Amazon as an eBook for only $.99.

Thank you,

Cora

Good Bye Sweet Carl

As my husband and I embraced each other, we couldn’t stop crying and shaking from our loss. Carl was laid to rest today under the trees in our backyard, next to our English Bull dog, Sally.

What started as a normal day in our household, ended tragically for all of us. I would have never thought that I would be writing these words to all of you who have followed the life and antics of my little French Bull dog. But I do believe that I owe it to you to let you know that this sweet little dog who has provided so many smiles and tears has left this world.

Grief fills my heart right now. Just thinking about Carl causes my eyes to well up and a sinking feeling to set in. My tendency is to stay busy and distracted so I won’t feel. It just hurts too much to think that I will never see him again.

Bee has been extra attentive towards us in the last couple of hours. She has followed us around and seems to know that something isn’t right. I am not sure if she is sad or grateful for being the only dog.

This coming Wednesday, I am releasing my new book Empty Hands. I have wondered why I gave this book this name. But given the broken heart that I am feeling and the thoughts of being empty, this title is making more sense to me as I mourn.

I will send a link for all of you who would like to purchase a copy in the next couple of days.

But for right now, please keep my husband and I in your prayers.

I am not sure if I will continue this blog. It just doesn’t make sense right now. We have no plans to replace Carl. As you all know, there is no way to replace this sweet dog that filled our hearts with such joy and happiness.

In the love of Christ,

Cora

Our Special Purpose

Carl pranced out of the house while the door shut in Bee’s face as we left on our three mile walk. No longer does Bee take the walks around the neighborhood. Instead, she is left alone while Carl gets to strut himself out in public.

From Bee’s standpoint, life is not fair. Questions of why float around in her mind as she lays on the porch waiting for everyone to return. Bitterness and resentment would be natural tendencies if she was a human.

How often in life do we become swallowed up with anger when we observe the success of others? We work so hard but the fruit we expect never comes. Joseph must have felt anger when he was stuck in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He probably spent many nights asking God for answers when the jail doors slammed in front of him while others walked out and forgot him.

Years passed and then one day, he was called by Pharaoh to interpret a dream. A dream that Pharaoh had struggled with and demanded someone to interpret. Once Joseph stood in front of Pharaoh, he clearly told him that interpretations are from God.

Once the dream was interpreted, Pharaoh knew that Joseph was the only one that could lead the nation out of the famine that would occur.

All the years that he had been in jail were for a reason. God had been preparing Joseph for this role by allowing him to suffer and live through difficult times. And just as God instigated the trials for Joseph, He can be doing the same thing for all of us.

Bee is not being intentionally left behind because we don’t want her to come. Her airway was not created like Carl’s. His snout is a little longer which allows him to endure long walks in warm seasons. A couple of months ago, we thought Bee might not live after a long walk down the trail. We love her too much to take chances with her life. In the same manner, God who is all knowing, may allow suffering because He has a special purpose designed just for us.

Unpleasant Repercussions

Carl was in a fight and lost. It wasn’t with another dog or even a cat. It wasn’t with a squirrel or even a bird. But a frog! Carl thought he would take a good bite out of the brown bumpy reptile but was immediately horrified by what he experienced next.

Apparently, frogs have a toxin on their skin that keeps them safe from all the Carls out there. And it was definitely effective. Immediately, Carl released the frog. He began to foam at the mouth and his eyes began to water. Our little Frenchie was clearly unhappy with his decision.

How often do we make quick decisions that are not thought through and have unpleasant repercussions? How many times do we wish we could go back and redo what has been done? All of us can think of regrettable moments that we wish we could erase from our memory. If only we had a huge eraser that could take away all our regrets.

And that is exactly what happened when Jesus chose to die for us on the cross. During the hours that He hung there dying, he took each regret and gave it over to God to forgive. Jesus did this so we could move forward in our lives with humility and gratitude.

It was clear that Carl wished he hadn’t bothered the frog this morning. His eye drained all day and he slept more than he usually does. But thankfully, dogs don’t dwell on their bad decisions like humans. My guess is that tomorrow Carl will wake up ready to go out into the world and take on whatever comes into his path.