Tag Archives: anxiety

Christmas Preparations

Carl moved into the narrow kitchen space and looked up at me with his deep brown eyes. It was clear what he wanted.  Any kind of morsel would do but he definitely favored the salty taste of meat. Since I have been spending more time in the kitchen to prepare for Christmas, Carl and Bee have been following my every move.IMG_4616

No matter when I return to this location, they can be found underfoot just waiting for me to drop something into their dishes. It can be annoying at times but I have to admit that when I am desperate, I can take the same posture towards God.

I find it interesting that the weeks leading up to Christmas can be a time that I find myself shooting arrow prayers up to God for things that I want but may not necessarily need. With a fuller than usual calendar and a burning need to fit in, I can end up with feelings of anxiety that don’t usually exist at other times of the year.

When I find myself feeling apprehensive about my Christmas circumstances, I find it best to reflect on the exact details of the events that led up the creation of this holiday. Instead of baking cookies, shopping for presents, and going to as many parties as possible, Mary was preparing for the birth of her son.

There were no parties for her to attend. Just the opposite. The gossip must have been freely flowing about how this young girl had become pregnant. Friends and family were probably quick to think the worst and offer no support.

But even though she had been alienated from society, she did find comfort with her cousin Elizabeth and her betrothed husband Joseph. Elizabeth and her husband were experiencing their own miracle with the birth of their own son after being barren for all of her child bearing years. And Joseph had been visited by an angel in a dream that clearly told him to take care of this young woman.

As I reflect on my own circumstances and that of Mary’s I have come to the conclusion that God will always provide. This provision may not come in the form that we expect but it will come.

Carl’s waist line clearly demonstrates that his needs have been met and will continue to be met as long as he lives in our home. He may not always get an extra morsel of food but he will have plenty. IMG_4603

As for me, when I struggle with all my Christmas responsibilities, I will try to take my thoughts back to over 2000 years ago when a young woman was willing to give up the comforts of life for the salvation of the world.

 

Fighting off Anxiety

Anxiety swept over me like a wave splashing across my entire body.  I knew in my soul that something was terribly wrong and I didn’t know what to do. Carl could not be found and I truly believed that he might be gone forever.

Early each morning before the heat sets in, I have gone outside to water my garden.  Carl loves to follow me around and find something to smell or dig up. Typically, he stays close by and seems to know if he wonders off, he may lose his privilege of being free to roam.IMG_4042

This morning was different.  Before watering the yard, I placed my bag inside the car for an overnight trip with some friends. Carl knew something was up and started acting strangely. Instead of staying close by, he ran next door, sniffed around and then came back over to me.

This happened a couple of times until the little dog disappeared altogether.  To make matters worse, this was the busiest time of day for the commuters that speed by on the roads that frame our property.

As I realized that Carl was not to be found, my anxiety level increased and I began to pace up and down the road, calling his name. My greatest fear was that I would hear the screeching of brakes and find my little dog injured or killed in the road in front of my yard.

Initially I thought he must have made his way inside my neighbor’s house but when I looked inside the window, all looked quiet.  Afraid to wake them up, I made my way down the road to another house that Carl had entered a while back.

But there was no sign of Carl anywhere. At this time, my emotions were all over the place. I was fighting off the feelings that something horrible was happening.  My thoughts went from thinking the worst to believing that Carl would just appear.

How often, when we are faced with tragic circumstances, do we allow our thoughts to dictate our feelings?  Anxiety can come upon us in an instant and stay around way too long. David was no stranger to the feelings of anxiety. He had every reason to feel anxious as he was being pursued by Saul in his younger years and his own son Absalom in his older years.

How did this man overcome the anxiety that came with the threat of death?

Psalm 91:1-4 clearly demonstrates David’s conviction about how God will protect us.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

David focused on a God that is much larger than any problem that we may experience. Instead of spending his time dwelling in self-pity, he set his thoughts on the Lord.

After pacing up and down the road, I made my way into my backyard.  It was then that I saw the little dog run around the corner of the garage and make his way towards me. A sense of relief consumed me. I could have been angry towards Carl but I just couldn’t muster up negative feelings towards him.

As I opened the gate that led to the backyard, Carl pranced in and started chasing Bee like nothing had happened. Just knowing that he was okay was enough to send up a thank you up to God and to realize how grateful we all need to be for the little blessings of this life.IMG_4046

The Power of a Name

Carl has been away for over a week. He has taken up residence with my daughter’s family. I got a text from her stating that her children didn’t want to let him go.  They had fallen in love with our sweet dog and proved it by changing his name to Uncle Carl.

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Prior to this stay, Carl was only tolerated by my daughter’s family. So when I had heard that his name had been changed, it warmed my heart. How often do we enjoy hearing an endearing name come from someone we love?  As a mother, I cherish being called mom or mommy.

When my husband and I were dating, he began calling me Little. When we were married, he had this name engraved inside my wedding ring. To this day, I find it very special when he refers to me as Little.

If given a name by a loved one is special, I can’t help but wonder what Abram and Sarai felt when God intentionally changed their names. In Genesis 17, Abram has an encounter with God. At the age of 99, we could all assume that Abram was waiting for his final exit. But God had other plans for him.

The first thing God did was change his name as well as his wife’s. Abram’s name would be Abraham which means father of the multitudes and Sarai’s name would be Sarah which means princess of nations. Given that this couple had been barren for long after their child bearing age, Sarah laughed when she had heard the news.

I am sure even after God had told them that they would have a child, Sarah and Abraham had to continue to doubt. But what about the name changes? Why would God change their names if He wasn’t going to make them parents? The time between God’s announcement and the pregnancy had to be agonizing. And all they had to believe with were the names that God had given them.

Sometimes when my husband and I are going through rough spots in our marriage, I will think about the name inscribed in my ring and how much he loved me when he called me his Little.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, I believe that the love that is represented in this name will get us through the tough times and allow God to work his miracles.

As for Uncle Carl, he is now home and missed by all the grandchildren. He also sIMG_2845eems a little sad to be among the quiet walls of our home. I am sure that over time, he will bounce back to the playful dog that we all know.

As for my daughter’s family, I truly feel thankful for the love that was extended to our little dog and the name that officially made him family.

 

 

Who is in Your Boat?

Carl continues to live in a state of anxiety. He just can’t shake it.  No matter how often my husband and I come to his rescue, he still believes that his sister will cause him harm. Every night, we have to use our bodies as a wall that gives Carl the courage to scoot past his sister and jump up into his bed.IMG_2799

No matter how often we come to his rescue, Carl can’t believe that we can be powerful enough to protect him. I was doing a lesson in Matthew 15 and was asked how the disciples must have felt when the storm came up and Jesus walked across the water to the boat.

Earlier in the day, the disciples had been a part of one of the greatest miracles they had witnessed since Jesus began his ministry. They had taken the bread from Jesus and handed it out to over ten thousand people. It was through their very hands that the five loaves of bread and two fish fed the multitudes.

Then why couldn’t they believe that Jesus, who could heal the sick and feed the multitudes, rescue them from the raging waters of the sea? When I thought about it, I had to confess that my faith can be just like these men. I can see and even be a part of incredible miracles one moment and then question the power of God in my own life.

It is easy to believe that God can do great things for others but when it comes to the uncertainties of my life, I have to pause. Just like the disciples, my faith can be limited.

The extremely cool thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t just calm the winds. He also didn’t leave Peter in the water when his faith wavered. Jesus did something that I need to always remember. He got in the boat with these men. And He will get in my boat too.

Carl has made it back to his bed to sleep the morning away by himself. I went back to be with him and sit on the edge of the chair and stroke his head. As I ran my fingers across his head and onto his back, I couldn’t help but visualize how Jesus sits with us when we go through the rough storms in our lives.

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No Comfy Beds

Carl loves a good walk. Because his snout is a little longer than most French Bull Dogs, he can tolerate an extended walk in both the heat and the cold. But as much as he loves to walk, when he is close to home, he picks up his pace and is clearly happy to walk through the doors and lie on the cool floor and drink from his water bowl.

I also enjoy walking but after about three miles, I am also glad to make my way through the screened in porch and into my house where I can sit down and rest. I have to say that I am truly grateful for the ability to return to my temperature controlled home with all its amenities on a daily basis.

Sometimes, during this season of the year, we can romanticize the birth of Jesus. But in reality, what Mary and Joseph had to go through was truly difficult. Instead of a three mile walk, they had to walk over a hundred miles to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This journey for a woman who was nine months pregnant had to be extremely challenging.

Joseph wasn’t sure how he would provide for his young bride and the baby that would come. He knew that many people would be coming to Bethlehem to be counted among the census and that rooms would be hard to come by. He only had his faith and the knowledge that God would provide for them.

Exhausted and famished, Joseph and Mary went from place to place to find a bed to lay their heads. No temperature controlled rooms with cold water coming out of a tap. No comfy beds with tons of pillows that we mold around our bodies. Not even a hard floor of an extra spare room.

When all options seemed closed, a farmer offers his barn for the young couple to reside in. Too tired to turn the offer down, the two make their way into the smelly space where they were greeted by a couple of sheep and a donkey.

For most of us, we would ask where God was in all of this. But I am sure Mary kept repeating the words that the angel told her nine months ago. “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 1:37. She believed that He would give them what they needed. She only had to trust.

Carl has no reason to believe that his needs will not be met. Just yesterday when the temperatures were in the thirties, we purchased a coat for him and his sister Bee so they would be warm as we took a walk on the trail.  Which got me thinking. If we are willing to make sure our animals are taken care of, why wouldn’t God, our creator, take care of our needs?

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A Life Changing Dream

As I look towards the fire, I can’t help but smile at my little white dog. He is cuddled up on the couch as close to the fire as he can get. The blower to our furnace is broken, so for now, the gas fire place is the spot to be near to stay warm. Carl’s eyes are closed and he seems to be preoccupied in his world of dreams.

Dreams. Many of them can be unpleasant and others can take you to the edge of ecstasy. I can’t say that I have had any in my lifetime that changed the course of my life. Some have given me something to think about but for the most part, nothing earth shattering.

But this isn’t the case for Joseph. Ever since he had found out that Mary was pregnant, he couldn’t think about anything else. He wanted to believe her but how could it be possible that she was pregnant without sleeping with another man?

And the nights were the worse. Sleep didn’t come easily. But this night Joseph finally drifted into a deep coma. This is when it happened. An angel appeared to him and even though he was asleep, Joseph knew that this was the most real experience he had ever had.

The angel shared a clear message from God. ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21.

Joseph awoke and knew that he had to honor God by coveting the relationship he had with Mary. The angel was very clear and Joseph knew he had to do whatever it took to protect this woman and the baby she carried. And this is where the journey began that would ultimately change the course of humanity.

Unlike Joseph, Carl’s dreams seem to be only a fleeting set of pictures that may consist of his doggy family or a wild adventure that has no real significance. On occasion, Carl has awoken with a strong reaction to something that appeared in a dream. But after a few moments of adjusting his thoughts, he has been able to calm down and fall back to sleep.  IMG_2048

The Power of Fear

Power. It takes all kinds of shapes. Last night I saw it in its most primitive state. After feeding Carl and Bee, I went back into the bedroom and went back to sleep. A few minutes later I awoke to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I sat up and looked at the two dog beds and found them vacant.

Anxiety filled my heart as I arose and walked down the darkened hallway back into the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. There shivering in the corner was Carl. He had been trapped there by the power of fear.

Fear takes on a life of its own if it isn’t dealt with. In the last couple of months this has been clearly played out in the life of my dog Carl. But I know there are areas of my life that fear can grasp on to and squeeze harder if I am not careful.

When I was a young girl, I was involved in a boat accident that left me scarred for life. As I was under the water with the boat coming straight towards me, a fear was born. Little did I know that it would take on the shape that it did.

Obviously, I was afraid of boats but specifically catamarans. The flat surface of the boat was a perfect place to get trapped under if the boat flipped over. And then there are bridges, particularly high ones that lift the cars far above the water. Just the thought of these, makes my heart race and palms perspire.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6 sums up how we should all deal with our fears. The power of fears comes when we give it time to fester in our minds and hearts. If we instead turn our focus onto God and all His blessings, fear will lose its power.

But as for Carl, his fear has taken the shape of his sister dog Bee. Every time she stands in front of him and he backs down, her power over him increases. What started off as a little anxiety has blown up into a nightmare for all of us.

I would love to hear from anyone that may have a suggestion on how to resolve this issue.  I am out of ideas and am willing to try anything to bring our dogs back into a harmonious relationship.

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