He Walks into our Pain

Carl made it home safely and even brought a couple of little friends with him. Given that we were staying in a pet friendly cottage should have been a warning that pets were not the only living creatures that resided in the house on a regular basis. IMG_0096

So once we were home, Carl had to be given a flea bath and the fleas were then taken off using a special comb.  This sounds pretty simple but when you have a dog that has been traumatized by a serious surgery, running this sharp device through his fur can be a difficult process.

Trauma can come in many shapes and appearances. There are major ones that everyone on the outside can understand, like the death of a loved one or a life threatening disease.  There are also the lingering effects of trauma that most people living outside of the event have trouble sympathizing with.

Just like Carl wouldn’t permit me to run the sharp bristles of the comb through his hair, people who have suffered a trauma will continue to experience the lingering effects in the most unlikely places. A smell, sound, or vision can bring the memories back without warning.

It is in these times that Jesus can bring a form of healing that cannot come from any other source.  Just remembering how He interacted with people who hurt can bring about some peace.  Never once did He minimize the pain of a person. From healing the woman who had bled for twelve years to giving forgiveness to the Samaritan woman for her adultery, He walked into their pain.

I will never forget being in the hospital after being in a serious boat accident.  I was in pain and whimpering as I waited for surgery.  A nurse came up to me and told me to be quiet, that my pain could be a lot worse, and pointed to a child that was having a spinal tap. I would never discount that others may be in more pain, but my pain was very real to me and the last thing I needed was to be told to suck it up.

I am so thankful for a Savior that is willing to walk into my pain, no matter when it occurs or how insignificant it can appear to others. Just like the woman who took hold of Jesus’s garment, we need to pursue Him for the healing that only He has to offer.

Thankfully, there were not many fleas and I didn’t have to use the comb many times in order to get rid of the unwanted house guests. Even though Carl continued to be suspicious when I approached him, he has returned to his normal playful self.IMG_0536

A Vacation Rescue

As we looked down at our fawn colored French bulldog, stuck between two carts and looking terrified, we knew we had to act quickly. Thankfully the cart behind us had smashed their brakes in the nick of time and saved Carl from a life threatening injury.

Once Carl was back up in the lap of my husband, we continued down the parade route. I couldn’t believe the number of carts that participated in this event. People of all ages and demographics took part in this spectacle. Later I learned that this golf cart parade has been going on since 1974.  CRAZY! IMG_3876

As the week went by, Carl enjoyed the attention he received from strangers. Many who had to leave their own pet at home just wanted a minute or two to stroke Carl’s back and share about their own dog that was left behind.

Early each morning, before the sun peeked out from the horizon, my husband would get up and call for us to join him on the beach. This morning we rose extra early so that we would make sure to see the bright orange ball rise above the ocean line.

It is a good thing that most people that were lingering on the beach had also been jostled out of bed by a loved one. Since I didn’t have a chance to run a comb through my hair, I felt like I was in similar company. IMG_3863 (1)

I must admit that watching the brilliant sun rise gave me a sense that our creator was providing a new day for all of us to enjoy. One tall man with a huge smile greeted us as he passed. Then before I knew it, he had clasped the hands of a middle aged man and could be heard praying.

Isn’t it cool how if you are looking for a spiritual connection, it can be easily found?  It is all about being in touch with the Holy Spirit.  This man was a great example of how God will place the exact person in your life if you keep an open mind and heart.

Days have taken on a pattern.  Getting up early for a walk on the beach and through the campground. Once we get back, Carl takes a little nap before everyone gets up from their slumber. After breakfast, it is off to the water park where there is an area suited for all age groups. IMG_3897

It has been extremely hot this week and Carl spends most of the daytime hours in the comfort of his air conditioned guest house. But once the sun makes its way towards the horizon and the sand is no longer hot, Carl makes his way onto the beach and prances down to the water. IMG_3882

As the week came to an end, Carl has made many new friends. Instead of the typical jumping up behaviors that we witness at home, the little dog has been transformed into a docile pooch.

The last night of our vacation, Carl and I made one last trip to the beach where the sky was being lit up by fireworks. And even though the popping noise is loud, he doesn’t seem fazed by it.  All he seemed to want to do is find the next person to rub his head and be told how wonderful he is.

But as we all know, vacations will always come to an end. And as wonderful as Myrtle Beach was, getting home to our own house and routine seems to be just what Carl is dreaming about. IMG_3901 (1)

Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

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Carl lay on his bed with his eyes open and stared at each move we were making. He could feel the excitement of a vacation in the air. With the open suitcase on the bench, Carl was not going to leave it up to chance that he would be coming with us. Once we were up and moving the luggage to the truck, the little dog started showing signs of anxiety.

Would Carl come with us or would he spend the week at a doggy resort? He didn’t know and it was driving him crazy…..

Once the car was packed, Carl heard the words he was dying to hear. “Come on, Carl, jump in the truck.” Leaving his sister Bee behind, we headed down the road.  (Bee is using her talents as a therapy dog this week to make two people very happy. She loves the people that she is staying with. )IMG_3826

So we headed down I-40 to the town of Leland where we were going to meet my daughter and her family.  After two hours of sleeping contently in the back seat, we arrived to a fresh bowl of dog food and into the loving arms of my granddaughter, Ellie.IMG_3828

After a trip to Walmart and a quick lunch of barbeque that we picked up from a fund raiser to help a firefighter who lost his home and wife to a fire, we headed south to Myrtle Beach. What we thought would only take us an hour to get to our destination, ended up taking three.

I am not sure if you have ever been to Myrtle Beach on a Saturday afternoon, and particularly to a huge campground like Ocean Lakes, but if you have, you will know that the traffic is CRAZY. It is a waiting game. Waiting to get to the entrance and at least forty-five minutes of waiting to get the pass to allow us into our destination.

After getting our pass, we thought we were home free but after a wrong turn, an easy drive turned into a maze of houses that seemed to always turn into a dead end. The map that they gave us didn’t help matters.  With eyes that are growing old, it was impossible to find the unit number in the hundreds of numbers that spread across a small space. This is when our patience with each other was cut very thin and our appreciation for our four legged friend was amplified.IMG_3829 (1)

Not once did Carl complain or roll his eyes.  He was just content to be with the humans that he loves. All he did was plaster his face up against the window in anticipation of his vacation home.  Thankfully after a couple of agonizing minutes the cottage was located and Carl was super excited to jump out of the truck.

We were blessed to have a place so close to the beach and it only took a couple of minutes to be on the wide open beach with the sea air swirling all around us. I had to hold Carl back from getting in the water.  His only desire seemed to get his little paws in the water and pick up the seaweed that floated on top of the waves.IMG_1326

Even though we arrived late, no moment was lost until late until the night.  My husband took Carl for his last walk around 9:30.  What he described when he returned sounded like something out of the movies.

If you have ever been to a campground like Ocean Lakes, you know that the mode of transportation is a golf cart.  So during the late evening hours, everyone gets in their ride and cruises down the main strip that parallels the ocean front.

The next day were filled with new smells and places to explore. Carl loved being around so many people and getting so much attention. Some friends of my daughters came over for dinner the next evening. One of the little girls has very limited sight but instantly gravitated towards Carl.  She immediately got on the floor and started stroking his coat. And the amazing thing was that he accepted all of the hands on attention without any signs of stress. It was like he could sense that this young girl was special and that they were giving to each other.IMG_3856

As soon as the friends left to go back to their RV, we all climbed up into the golf cart and made our way to the main strip.  And what we saw was hard to believe. For as far as the eye could see, golf carts were lined in both direction moving at a slow speed. Carl was seated in the back seat on my husband’s lap.

Every cart we passed, my five year old grandson put out his hand and someone from the other line would give it a warm slap or even a piece of candy. For the next thirty minutes, we moved slowly to the other side of the campground. It had now grown dark and it was tricky to maneuver the cart forward due to the tight squeeze between the vehicles.

Carl did a wonderful job of sitting while we went down the parade route. He sat as still as he could and even held out his paw to the people coming in the opposite direction.  And then it happened. The cart jolted to a stop and Carl tumbled off the seat and into the path of an oncoming cart.IMG_1337

The look of sheer terror by the woman in the cart behind us told the story. Was our little dog hurt? Had this fun adventure turned into a nightmare?

 

 

 

 

 

Without a Rudder or a Sail

Carl appeared to have control as he walked with his head held high leading the way through the neighborhood. It wasn’t until he encountered a cat that he realized that he wasn’t able to break free and pounce on his arch enemy. Instead of being in control, Carl realized that he could only go as far as the leash would take him.img_3808.jpg

We all want to be in control of our circumstances in life. And as long as we assume everything is going the way we think it should, we set ourselves on cruise control and hold our heads up high. It isn’t until we encounter a situation that we don’t see the outcome, that we realize that we don’t have any control at all.

Many years ago, my husband and I owned a catamaran sailboat. He absolutely loved the feeling of getting the air into the sails and bring the boat up on one side. On the other hand, I was petrified when the boat would rise above the surface of the water.

This was particularly true one Labor Day weekend when we placed the boat into the calm sound and steered the boat through the inlet over to the beach. For two days, everyone enjoyed riding out into the ocean and skidding across the water. But on the day that we had to return the boat to the sound side in order to place it on the trailer, the winds and waves picked up drastically.

As I climbed onto the boat, my adrenaline was pumping and a deep seated fear entered my entire being. I knew that if the boat turned over, it may be impossible for my husband to right it up again which could have led to our deaths.

As the winds whipped around us and the waves caused us to dip up and down on the water, my husband realized that something was very wrong. Apparently the ropes had not been tacked correctly and he couldn’t steer the boat. So with only one option, he handed me the steering device and told me to not let go while he climbed down the side of the boat to correct the situation.

During those few moments, I knew that I had no control of what would happen next. There was nothing that I could do but pray and hold fast. This is what it must have felt like when Noah and his family entered the ark and closed the doors.  With no sail or rudder, this family must have wondered what would happen as the rain hit the roof and the boat began to rock back and forth.

Genesis 7:17-24 states, “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.  The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.  They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.  The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.  Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.  Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”

I am sure the entire time that Noah and his family were inside the ark they must have known that they had no control.  They only had faith that God would see them through the situation.

Though my ordeal only lasted an hour, I prayed a lot and rested in the fact that God was in control, not me. As for Carl, he will never understand God’s sovereignty but that’s okay. I will let him think he is leading even when he isn’t. img_1328

Memories from the Red Couch

Carl didn’t realize when he plopped his body up on the red vinyl surface and made himself comfortable that he was adding to the memories that had already existed from sitting on the bold red couch. IMG_3759

This particular piece of furniture had been bought as a pair and first made its way into our lives when my father in law, Joe, had purchased it over a decade ago. When I first saw the pair positioned in his living area, I was a little taken back by the color.  But as time went by, I began to feel a fondness for the bold red couch.

Many kinds of memories have been created from the red couch. When Joe had been diagnosed with lung cancer and my husband and I were catapulted back into his life, many a night was spent sitting on the red couch watching an array of shows like Mash or Columbo.  But when the time came when Joe had to be moved against his wishes, I had to have one of the hardest conversations I have ever had while sitting on the red vinyl couch.

Once all of Joe’s valued possessions were selected to be moved, this piece of furniture made its way to the small sitting area that was then his new residence. Many days Joe sat on the couch as he watched his television or waved to the new neighbors that walked past his open doorway. New friends and old ones came to visit and sat on the red couch until one Friday afternoon when Joe took his last breath.

So now the couch has made its way to our garage where happier memories are being formed. Instead of memories laced with sadness, the piece of furniture is a place where people sit to watch sports on TV or grandchildren playing on scooters and bicycles. My husband even pulled it out onto the carport the day of the eclipse and called Carl to join him as they both peered into the sky. IMG_2160

Carl has now found a place on one of the cushions to place his body when everyone finds their way into the garage. Instead of sitting on the cold floor, he jumps up and finds his place that everyone assumes has always been his.

No one knows what will ever come of the red couch. Hopefully, many more memories will be created that will extend for years to come. Time will only tell. But until the couch is taken to the dump or handed down to someone else, it will serve as a reminder of the past and point us to the future.

To learn more about my father in law, Joe, please read my book, Here We Go Joe.

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The Fake Turtles of Life

Carl’s ears perked up as he looked in the direction of the object that caught his attention. He didn’t waiver his sights from the green turtle that was placed at the door of the house we were approaching.

While Carl’s focus was glued on the green piece of pottery, a brown rabbit with a fluffy white tail hopped only a couple of yards from where the little dog was walking. But because his attention was solely focused on the inanimate object, he totally missed what could have been a prized prey.

Once Carl drew closer to the fake turtle, the real rabbit had hopped away. And instead of being excited about reaching his goal, Carl’s ears began to droop and his body slumped down as he realized the reality of the situation.

Before thinking poorly of Carl, I know I need to look at my own heart and how many fake turtles I have pursued at the expense of letting the real thing hop by me. How often have I set my sights on worldly possessions with the belief that the things will satisfy me?IMG_3565

Mark 10:17-22 clearly addresses how anyone can miss out on being truly satisfied for the things that hold us hostage.

“And as Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Jesus knew that this young man’s sights were glued to the things he owned and didn’t want to give them up for treasure in heaven. It states that Jesus loved him as he spoke truth to him. But because the man loved his possessions, he walked away disheartened.

How often have we heard of a famous person take their life? Not long ago, Oscar award winning actor Robin Williams took his life. The world was shocked to hear that this successful man who appeared to have arrived would commit suicide. Could he have possibly had his sights on the fake turtle?

Carl has moved on. He just raced down the stairs into the backyard to chase a squirrel up a tree. Once the rodent was halfway up, he and his sister began to wrestle for bragging rights. After a successful conquest, he has laid down on the floor and fallen asleep, only to dream about real turtles. IMG_3735

 

 

Held Captive

I am not sure who had it worse, the frog or Carl. The frog had somehow jumped down onto the board that was surrounded by wire on one side and screen on the other.IMG_3660 Years ago, we had to put the wire up to keep Carl from tearing up the screen but the downside of the wired barricade were the prisoners that were taken in, some that actually died before they figured out a way to free themselves.

Carl on the other hand, couldn’t reach the frog but became a prisoner of his obsession to grasp him. He wouldn’t move far from the frog, even when Bee moved into her position of dominance. All Carl could think about was catching his prey.IMG_3663

How often do we become prisoners of our own thoughts?  I call it “stinkin thinkin”. Those words that run across the teleprompter of our brain and won’t stop playing. That is until we take our thoughts captive and exchange them for words of truth.

Paul states it perfectly in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A few minutes ago, I went out to check on the frog. I am not sure if I had the guts to try and catch him to release him into the world but I wanted to see what was happening. Instead of Carl standing guard, Bee was now in position to take the prey if it tried to escape. But the crazy thing was that it was gone.  Nowhere to be found.

I searched the porch to see if it had climbed up high to get out of reach from its predators. But instead of going high, it climbed over to the other screen, still held captive. Pray that I will have courage to figure out a way to save it.IMG_3664