Tag Archives: animals

Living Life in the Present

Carl loves his walks.  Next to being fed, taking a walk around the block is what he lives for. He and his sister Bee constantly compete for who will lead their pack around the three mile path marked out by their humans.IMG_4776

With his ears perked up and his body stiff and alert, Carl walks like he is on a mission. As he struts forward, he is always attentive to his surroundings. You could say that Carl lives in the present.

We all could learn from Carl.  So often, I find myself drifting in my thoughts to either my past or my future.  This is particularly true right before a vacation.

My husband and I will be going on a cruise in the near future. Just the thought of being out in the middle of the ocean with 80 degree temperatures can sweep my thoughts away. Carnival Cruise lines has an app that you can open and it states to the minute how long it will be before we will set sail. At this time it will be 8 days, 1 hour and 59 minutes.

Every day for the last week, we have opened the app just to see the numbers drop and the time draw closer and closer to our cruise. There really isn’t anything bad about doing this. We all have thoughts that captivate us and send us into another time and place. Even though it isn’t bad, there is a better way to spend my moments. In the present.

I have come to realize that if I spend too much time focusing on the future, I miss out on the gift of the present. The Apostle Paul learned a lesson that I believe we all can benefit from.  He stated, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

So instead of dreaming about the future, I need to be content in the present. God doesn’t promise me the days ahead but as long as I am breathing, I do have the present to enjoy.

Carl is back from his walk and resting in his favorite place. He sure knows how to live his life to the fullest. Even when he is sleeping, he seems pleased with his present circumstances. If my dog can be happy with his life, surely, with the help of Jesus who gives me strength, I can  enjoy mine.IMG_4774

 

 

Carl’s Christmas Outfit

Carl knew it was coming.  If it wasn’t for the car ride and being ushered into the pet store wasn’t enough of a clue, being surrounded by several employees assisting with the buckles and straps was a sure sign that he was going to get a Christmas outfit.

Given that Carl can sometimes be mistaken for a baby deer fawn, reindeer ears would be the most appropriate for this holiday season. So with the prompting of a little treat, Carl allowed all the humans to smash his head into the brown head piece.IMG_4748

As cute as Carl looked as a reindeer, it was clear that this wasn’t what he was. He was a French bulldog with an outfit on. God had created him to be a dog, no matter what costume he was wearing. How often do we put on costumes and pretend to be something that we aren’t?

We can play many parts as we go through our lives but unless we are living out the life that God has given us, we are going to feel like a bull dog made up like a reindeer.

Jesus was the most authentic person that ever walked the earth. He knew who he was and his true purpose. John 14:6 states it perfectly, “Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

If we truly believe this, we should be getting to know Jesus and finding out how to live out the life that God has created us for. This can begin by reading the Gospel and praying for insight.

As for Carl, he knows he is a French bulldog.  If he has to be dressed up for Christmas, he will tolerate the reindeer outfit, but a Christmas tree is taking it a little too far.IMG_4750

 

Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

Closer to the Storm

A lot can happen in 48 hours. The clouds have gotten heavy and the winds have started to blow. Instead of being alone though, Carl now has four other dogs and a cat to keep him company. Four children are making our house their home, and my son in law and his mother are hunkering down to ride out the hurricane.IMG_4192

Carl seems happy to have so much attention and is enjoying this time without a clue of the reason for the onslaught of humans and canines. The television is on more than usual and everyone is praying that Florence will not create the devastation that the forecasters are calling for.

There must be countless numbers of other families that are feeling the impact of this storm even before it has made landfall. People who are headed west without a clear destination. Others that have settled in with family or friends that ordinarily they would never consider spending a night with.

God is good and good all the time. He is sovereign and even though no one can understand the reason for the devastation that is getting ready to take place, we must put our trust in His will for our lives. I know for me, there are many lessons that I am in the midst of learning. IMG_4168

“Lord, please help all of us, particularly me, to see your goodness through the storms of our lives.”

The Blessings of Waiting

Carl spends most of his day in the waiting mode. He is either waiting for the delivery of food, human contact, or a good walk around the block. When he is in the act of waiting, it is clear that this is not what he wants to do.  He demonstrates this by looking right at us and letting out a squeal that reminds you of a wild pig. When this tactic doesn’t work, he will lay down on the floor and produce a pitiful expression.IMG_2080

No one likes to wait.  It makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable. Just yesterday I went to the drive in window at my bank and found one car in front of me. Given my most recent wait times, I was expecting a couple of minutes but after five minutes, I began to fight off feelings of agitation. When my watch indicated that I had been waiting ten minutes, I began to think of ways to get out of line.

Waiting in line is one thing but waiting in life is completely different. Have you ever thought of the times that you believed it was time to receive what you wanted and how you felt when you had to wait?

So often we make plans and insert them into our heart only to come up empty. It could be a successful career, a spouse, a baby, a huge house, and the list goes on and on. No matter what your situation is in life, you are probably waiting for something.

Proverbs 16:9 states a simple fact that can be easily understood but hard to digest. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

In other words, we can make plans and become passionate about them but God will have the final say on what will actually happen. We also need to remember that God does this because He loves us. He knows when it is best for us to wait and when it is time to be given what we desire.

As I have grown older and hopefully a little wiser, I can reflect back on my life and look at the times of waiting as a blessing. I had to wait to become pregnant with both of my children and know I appreciate them much more because of the wait. And at the other end of life, my husband and I had to wait for the death of our parents.  All four of them had terminal illnesses that lingered for months and for one, years.

During these times of waiting, my character was revealed. Many days were spent in a constant desire to be in a different place of life. But even as difficult as it was, I do believe God intentionally placed me in a state of waiting to refine me.

It is too bad that Carl doesn’t change due to all of the waiting he has had to endure. I have heard the waiting that we go through referred to as the white spaces in our lives. I find it fitting that Carl happens to be a white dog and thus the white space that has made his home in my life.IMG_2163

 

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.