Tag Archives: animals

An Unpredictable God

One thing that I can tell you about Carl is that he is predictable. Just as I sat down to write this blog, I knew that he would come up and start scratching my leg for the ongoing attention he craves. Earlier this morning, I left Carl inside the fence to go water the garden and sure enough, he began to howl to let me know it was not acceptable to be left out of reach. IMG_4054

Most of us fall into habits that make us pretty predictable to the people who know us well. Our bodies seem to enjoy the rhythm of the habits that we have created over time. We find comfort in the routines and can become uncomfortable when we reach out beyond the safety of the known.

For many of us, it is the predictability of our lives that keep us from being used by God. I understand this because as I have pondered about this, I have come to realize that I expect God to show up in the predictable. But if you look at the Bible, this is the furthest from the truth.

From the very beginning of time, how God showed up changed. Only once did He create ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Only once did the Israelites walk around the walls of Jericho seven times before the walls came crumbling down. Only once did a man live inside of a big fish to be transported back to where God wanted him to be. And only once did a young woman become pregnant without relations with a man.

If you think about it, God has shown up in our lives in different ways. The problem comes in when we think He will only show Himself to us in the ways He did in the past. Just as the Israelites of Jesus’ day thought the Messiah would come in the form of Moses or Elijah, we can get stuck in our traditions and miss out on seeing God work.

This leads me back to the challenge that I must ask myself. What can I do outside of my comfort level that may provide God a chance to use me?

I am not going to expect Carl to change anytime soon. He is pretty much stuck in his routines and habits. That is okay for my little dog but for me, I am hoping that I will be willing to reach into the unknown with faith that God has something very special waiting just for me.IMG_4061

In the Details

Every day, Carl waits patiently for his food.

He doesn’t see the food until I place it in his dish, but even so, he knows it is coming. Every once in a while when I forget to open the huge metal can and scoop a portion for him, he will remind me by bellowing out an ear piercing howl. I sure am hungry. I wonder if I will get some food.

For the most part, it is clear that neither dog spends a lot of time worrying that they will be fed. Even though they don’t see the food or know where it comes from, they live their lives without fear of going without being fed.

I wish I could say the same about me.  Even though I have lived a life of having food in the refrigerator and enough money to meet my needs, I can’t help but check my bank account every once in a while to know that all is well.

How often do we miss out on seeing the hand of God work in our lives because of the abundance from our own hands? As much as it scares us to experience hardship, isn’t in these times that God shows up?

Elijah was a prophet that was able to see the hand of God work in a powerful way. He had nothing and to make matters worse, he was called by God to tell the evil Israelite king that there would be a drought that would last for over three years.

As the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years, everyone blamed Elijah for the drought and wanted him dead.  But Elijah trusted God and obeyed Him when he was told to go to a Gentile country and find a widow waiting by a gate.

It’s hard to imagine what Elijah was thinking as he walked over a hundred miles over the scorched land with no sign of food or water. And as he put one foot in front of the other, he must have wondered why God would be sending him to a widow.

Why not send him to a wealthy king or a place that hadn’t been effected by the drought? Isn’t this what we think God should do for us when we feel like we are at our own dead end?  Aren’t we expecting our blessings to be in the form of abundance?

Though it must have made no sense, Elijah obeyed God and found the woman at the gate. And because of his obedience, Elijah and the widow experienced a miracle each day when just enough oil and flour could be found to meet their needs.

We have a lot to learn from this man as well as from my dog Carl. Elijah was willing to head in a direction that made no sense but he did as God called him to do. Carl doesn’t understand where his next meal will come from but he doesn’t spend his time on this earth worrying about it. IMG_4016

Maybe when we are faced with a situation that looks bleak and has no apparent resolution, we can search for God in the details. And as we look with faith, don’t be surprised by the miracles that will be found along the way.

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

Could Carl Be Possessed?

I used to think that Carl could be demon possessed. I couldn’t trust him and wasn’t sure if we would growl or nip at me. The months that followed his tail removal surgery were difficult for all of us. We didn’t know if Carl would grow out of his distrust for us and we had to even question if we should keep him. InkedIMG_1328_LI

The months have now turned into years and other than a couple of occasions when he has been awakened by a nightmare, Carl has become a gentle little boy. We even commented the other day about how sweet and obedient he has become.

Being demon possessed has been a controversial topic since the beginning of time. Since it is mentioned many times in the Bible, I must believe that it is a real condition that plagued people, particularly before the innovation of modern medicine.

Mary Magdalene was one of these individuals that was stated to be demon possessed. And not just by one demon but by seven! Just the thought of the torment she must have lived through is incomprehensible. Today, she would probably be homeless, distrusted by her family, and living on the streets.

We don’t know the time or day that Jesus healed her but we know from Luke 8:2 that He drew seven demons from her. But it isn’t so much the fact that she was cleansed from the demons that is so amazing but what she did with her life after she was healed.

This woman is mentioned several times throughout the life and death of Jesus. She apparently turned her life around and not only hung out with Jesus but also helped finance his ministry. She was so grateful for what He had done that she devoted the rest of her life sharing the Gospel and how He had changed not only her physical life but also her eternal life.

Luke 7:41-43 states, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.”

Mary Magdalene had been forgiven much.  She knew there was nothing about her that deserved the loving kindness that Jesus extended to her. And in response, she spent the rest of her life sharing what her savior had done for her.

I have a lot to learn from this woman.

As for Carl, he has been reaching up and literally yanking on my shirt with his teeth. I am not sure what he wants but his annoying persistence is making it difficult to write.  Maybe I am wrong about the demon being totally gone.  It just comes out less often. Got to go.  Carl won’t stop pulling at my arm.

 

Carl wants young kids to be healthy, and to get subscribed for Cora’s new book launching on 5/24 – get on the list here

Glamping with Carl

Glamping with Carl has its own unique challenges.  Our little camper found its way to Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia. This cool park is known for stones that can be found only in a couple of places in the world. The hilly incline and tall oaks surrounded us during our stay. Temperatures were unusually cold and the winds were gusting up to 50 miles per hour. IMG_3423

The cold temperatures and blustery winds didn’t stop Carl from enjoying his one on one time with his human companions. The little bully cherished the walks through the woods as he scoped out squirrels, raccoons, and other canine species. Once spotted, the ego centered bully would go crazy until he was pulled away from eye shot. IMG_3422

But it was the sleeping arrangement that was the most challenging for us humans. Instead of sleeping on his own chair at home, Carl found a spot right between the two of us and planted his little body for the duration of the night. No matter how hard we pushed him to go down to the bottom of the bed, Carl didn’t budge.

How often do we refuse to budge when we have planted ourselves in a certain situation that we just don’t want to move from? Even when we are being encouraged to move, we refuse to dislodge ourselves from our position.

It could be a bad relationship, a job that isn’t going anywhere, or a dream that has no potential of becoming a reality.  No matter the nudging, we stay planted in the hope that something could change.

So when do we really know it’s time to move on?  How much pecking at a situation do we need to do before we need to start pursuing other options?

Every situation is different which makes answering this life question so difficult. I can personally tell you that there have been jobs that I left too late, dreams that I wouldn’t let go of, and relationships that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens_ a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time

Even the Bible tells us there is a time for everything under the sun but it never tells us specifically when that time is. This leads us back to our initial question without a clear answer.

When do we reap and when do we sow?  When do we embrace and when do we push away? We may never actually know but one thing we can be assured of, if we do the things we do to glorify God, He will create good from it.

As for Carl, he didn’t budge while we were camping but once we got home, he knew that he was destined to be sleeping back in his chair.  No one had to tell him.  He just knew.

The Power of a Voice

Carl has been screeching for some reason for the last couple of minutes. It may be that he wants my attention or that he wants to be fed.  But for whatever reason, his familiar voice can be clearly heard by everyone in proximity of our home.

Everyone who lives close to us, knows this voice.  Whenever he pitches up, I am sure they say, “That has to be Carl.”

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We all have a distinct voice if you think about it. Each of us have a different sound that comes out when we speak. Some of us can be identified as soon as we open our mouths, while others may not be as easily recognized.

Joe, my deceased father-in-law, has one of those distinct voices that could be clearly identified, even after two years of his departure from this earth.  So when my sister-in-law placed her phone up to my ear and let me hear a message from the past, I knew without a doubt that it was him.

Joe and Ellie 7-3

It was after listening to him ramble about the need for toothpaste and how if he didn’t get it,  he would have to retreat to soap, that I began to laugh at the memories of his final days. I was surprised at the inward feelings that arose from hearing his familiar voice. Emotions spurred by the events that took place between he and I.  Some fond and some downright draining.

I was startled by the uprising of sentiment from hearing his voice. Startled that after so many months that my heart still hurt for this man that was such an important part of my life.

But if I was emotionally stirred when hearing my father-in-law’s voice, I can’t imagine how the disciples must have felt when they heard the voice of Jesus, days after he had died on the cross.

The voice that they had heard on the mountainside as He preached the words to the multitudes.  The voice that they knew when He reached out to the lepers and spoke the words, “ I am willing, be clean.” Matthew 8:3.

His disciples must have also been moved  when He looked deep into their eyes and pulled off a piece of bread from the loaf and stated, “Take, eat, this is my body.” Matthew 26:26.

But as moving as all of these times were,  it must have been when they heard his voice after the resurrection that consumed them with emotion.  A heart throbbing emotion that would take them to their knees and place a motivation in their hearts to follow Him into eternity.

It is this voice that I want to hear one day.  The voice the disciples heard so many years ago. The voice that Paul heard on the road to Damascus. But most important to us, the voice that will say when we see Him in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Carl’s screeching voice has penetrated through my thoughts and has brought me back to the here and now. And as painstaking as it is to hear, I can’t help but smile and thank God for this little dog’s voice along with the  voices of the past, present and future.

 

Taking a Ride with God

 

Hillary a!

I know that some of you are wondering why in the world Bee is riding in a buggy.  Well first of all, she is my baby (ba-Bee). Second, if you look closely, her snout is pressed close to her face which doesn’t give her the airway that her brother Carl has.

Lately, we have noticed that Bee, my French Bull dog, has difficulty walking the three miles that doesn’t impact Carl in the slightest. So when my husband saw a doggy stroller online for only $25.00, we thought we would give it a try.

I wish I could tell you that the first ride in the stroller went without a hitch, but I can’t. Bee couldn’t understand why she had to ride, even though she was winded.  In the first five minutes, she lunged out of the stroller and thankfully landed a couple of feet in front of the buggy.

Just like Bee, there are times that we can’t understand why our ride through life has changed up. We want to walk like we always have but God wants us to take a ride. I am sure Moses felt this way when he met up with God. For most of his adult life, Moses worked for his father-in-law as a shepherd. He was minding his own business when God turned his world upside down.

I am sure Moses didn’t see life beyond the fields that he lived in as he shepherded his flock. But God had other plans for Moses and his insecure self. Moses tried to tell God that he wasn’t the man for the job but God knew better. Instead of walking his usual walk, God had him on the ride of his life. Exodus 3

Have you ever had a time in your life that you went from walking to taking a ride with God?  Were you eager to ride or did you react like Bee and jump out of the vehicle?

Carl also took a ride at the end of the walk. He also wasn’t crazy about being confined and it was clear he only wanted to get out and strut beside his sister. We aren’t giving up on our purchase. So if you are driving down the road and see us pushing a carriage, please come over to say hello to our ba-Bee.