Tag Archives: Carl

Void Spaces

Poor Carl.  He has been removed once more. First he was taken from his home where he resides as the king and taken to my daughter’s home for the week we were on vacation. After spending less than two days with her family, he was taken to doggy daycare to finish out his days until our return.

Having the luxury of cameras to give us a clear view of Carl’s actions, we witnessed his removal from the play area after an altercation with another dog. We understood the decision to send him back to his cage, but the thought of him being secluded, hurt our hearts.

Every couple of hours we would turn the app on and seek out our little dog among the others only to see void space where Carl would be. Void space can also be found in our hearts where God should reside.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put eternity into our hearts. A space where nothing or no one can fill.

Most people strive to fill the space with things, power, or success. They will even try to occupy it with a relationship or two. But no matter how much is crammed in, it just won’t fit. Given a square won’t fit into a circle peg, anything outside of the will of God, will not fit into the space that God has placed in our hearts.

Several hours later, we turned the app on once more to see Carl wondering around the large room among the many dogs. The girl in the room seemed to have her eyes set on him to make sure he behaved. Carl even seemed cautious as he wondered around, making sure that he could stay in this space that once was void.

A Walk For Faith

Carl and I are very different when it comes to walks. Our little dog absolutely loves to go out into the world and stroll down any path or road near our house. It doesn’t matter how long he and my husband go or even what the temperature is.  Just call Carl’s name and follow it with the word, “walk” and we have a happy dog.

Now for me, I will join Carl and my husband on a regular basis but it isn’t something I really enjoy. I find walking a little on the boring side and choose other kinds of exercise to accomplish my fitness goals. I particularly don’t like going when I am not sure of the final destination.

This is why when I think about the amount of walking the disciples of Jesus did, I become amazed. There is one particular walk that blows my mind when I consider how far they went without having a clue of the purpose of their journey.

It is a story that is easily overlooked and most people don’t even consider the circumstances surrounding the walk. It begins with Jesus being bombarded by a bunch of religious leaders trying their best to prove that He is a farce.  His disciples are beginning to wonder about who Jesus is and so instead of trying to convince them with words, Jesus plans a field trip.

So they start walking. I am sure the disciples were like most children we know and asked Jesus countless times if they were close to their destination. Given how I felt yesterday when walking four miles, I can’t imagine how they were feeling after two days of trodding down a sandy path in the middle of nowhere.

After four days, they finally come to a small town near Sidon which is between fifty and sixty miles from where they began. The disciples must have been a little cranky as they waited for some incredible miracle to happen. But all they saw were Gentiles that looked at them like they were scum off the bottom of their shoes.

Not seeing anything worth coming this long way was probably causing these men to become frustrated. To top it off, a woman’s persistent scream for Jesus could be heard over the crowd without any signs of stopping. As the woman drew closer, the disciples began to become extremely annoyed.

The disciples were probably getting a little aggravated with Jesus. The woman wouldn’t be quiet and Jesus acted like He didn’t hear her. Even after several disciples tried to get her to be quiet, she continued. They then turned to Jesus, but He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in addressing the woman.

Finally, the woman makes her way to Jesus and kneels down in front of Him and calls out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon possessed and is suffering terribly.”

Then Jesus makes a statement that most people would have thought would be insulting. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s food and toss it to the dogs.”

The woman responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.”

Then Jesus looked down with incredible compassion and stated, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 25:25-28)

So why did Jesus and his disciples walk so far into Gentile territory?  There is no other miracles recorded here. There is no interaction with important people or famous landmarks.  Why would Jesus take at least ten days out of his busy schedule to travel so far?

There is only one answer. To celebrate the faith of this one Gentile woman. This woman’s declaration of who Jesus was demonstrated a stronger faith than any of his disciples had shown since Jesus started his ministry. And Jesus wanted his disciples to witness it first-hand.

In the future while I take my walks, I will spend some time contemplating the distance these men covered. But what I will remember the most is how Jesus was willing to take the time out of his busy schedule to seek out this woman of faith and the miracle she received.

I don’t think Carl thinks a lot when he is going on his walks. But even so, I can learn from his walking attitude and try and seek out the miracles that maybe right in front of me.

The Last Will Be First

Carl hasn’t been challenged that much in life. Every day, he has a similar routine that begins with a walk, lunch, sleeping in the sun, dinner, and then finding a good spot to spend the night. Every once in a while, his routine is broken up but nothing to get his panties tied in a knot about.

Most of us would initially say that we would love to have a life like Carl’s. Just drifting from one fun thing to the next without giving much thought to anything but our pleasure and basic needs. Initially, everyone says, “Sign me up!”

Yesterday, I went to my second go cart race with my nine year old grandson. He has driven five races and initially he did extremely well. Since he just started, he began in a division that didn’t require much skill. He easily came in first or second place without much effort.

But as most of you who have played a sport or been involved in developing a skill, there are different levels that change up the effort and perseverance needed in order to be successful. So my grandson was now racing among boys his age that had raced fifty races to his five. They had cars that had been fine tuned to the race conditions and lots of people supporting them.

My son in law and his good friend are both mechanics and raced when they were young and are now getting back into the sport after being away for decades. So as you can guess, winning wasn’t in the picture. But on the other hand, an unforeseen gift was.

Everett, my grandson, and his best friend started the first race with high hopes. Everett had made a mistake in qualifying and ended up at the end of the pack. He was extremely upset but pushed through the emotions and went out determined to do his best.

Yesterday’s conditions were challenging to say the least. It was over 95 degrees and the course was hard and slick which made it difficult to stay on the track when making turns. After about the fifth lap, my attention was deferred from my grandson to his friend. A car started spinning right in front of him and he had no choice but to run right into him. From afar, it didn’t look good. And when the ambulance pulled on the track, my heart started racing.  All I could do was start praying.

With my other grandson and Everett’s friend’s brother running toward me, I pulled them close to me and comforted them. And then something happened that touched my heart more than any victory could ever. Eli, my five year old grandson took his friend’s hand and said, “Let us pray for your brother.” And then he closed his eyes and asked God to take care of his friend.

It seemed forever before finally, Everett’s friend was able to walk off the track on his own. He was shaken up and had to be closely monitored for the rest of the time we were there. The paramedic came over to our trailer and double checked on him, but he was ultimately okay.

Everett raced his last race without his friend. He got out there and did the best job he could, spinning out several times, but just like the ready ever battery bunny, Everett pulled back into the race and finished last.

But to me, Everett and Eli finished first. First in character and integrity. First in reaching out to God, when so many children would have become angry and self-absorbed. First where it truly matters in life. In my mind, this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As for Carl, I believe he has a great dog life. But as for me, I want to be more like my grandson, who was willing to be put in a situation that challenged more than just his driving skills, but also his character.

The Passing of a Loved One

Carl’s friend Leo had to be put down today.  Leo was a very special dog. I know because we had the privilege of taking care of him for six weeks while his human family transitioned into their new home. Leo had a way of letting you know that you were loved.

You will be missed..

People tell us that dogs are man’s best friend. I have to disagree. Dogs, particularly ones like Leo, are more than friends. They are family.  He had a way of sticking to my heart strings and even though I didn’t see him again, he will always have a place in my heart. Pets can do that to you.

Sometimes when a loved one passes on, the pain can be very difficult. All kinds of questions for God arise that usually can never be answered. But even through the pain, gratitude for the experience of having that loved one in our lives should reign over the unanswered questions.

So I want to thank Leo’s family for entrusting us to take care of their four legged “baby”. Thank you Leo, for the short time you came into our home and became a part of our family.  But, most of all, I want to thank you God for creating animals like Leo, who love us unconditionally. 

Peace to you Leo and to your family…..

Good Times

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.

 

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.

Happy Birthday Carl!

Of all days to have a birthday, it is today. Carl is now four years old. I hope that this will be a special day for him, but I won’t know for sure. Instead of enjoying the day with him, we are headed to Washington D.C. with our grandchildren and Carl is staying at Suite Paws, a pet resort.IMG_0096

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this fawn colored Frenchie would be such an important part of our family. But the truth be told, Carl has had a profound impact all of us. Given his very needy personality and endless displays of cute expressions, he has melted our hearts into a soft pile of mush.

This morning on the way to taking Carl to his destination, he looked at me with his soft brown eyes and caused me to question even going on the trip and leaving him. But the desire to give up the trip passed and he willingly went into the door that would separate us for the weekend. IMG_4250

Thankfully, there are no doors that keep us away from God. It may seem that way at times, but when I open my Bible, I am comforted by the words that tell me otherwise. Psalm 23:4 states this truth, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

This Psalm has always encouraged me when I felt alone. Knowing that I have a shepherd that loves me and wants me to believe that in the darkest times of my life, He is with me.

Hopefully Carl will not feel alone and abandoned in the next couple of days. Instead, I hope he will enjoy playing with the other dogs and know in the back of his mind, that he is loved. Happy Birthday Little Guy.