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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Carl doesn’t hug. He will jump up on my lap and rub against my leg but he doesn’t hug. I never thought about how dogs or any other animal lacks the ability to embrace until the other day. I must admit I am typically a tentative hugger.
I grew up without many hugs from family members and up until just recently wouldn’t initiate a hug. I had a good friend that challenged me to change how I hugged. Instead of a weak squeeze with a little pat on the back, she encouraged me to use a strong grasp that let the person know that I cared.
Why did God create us to embrace others? What emotion or unfulfilled need is met with a strong hold by two people? I never gave this much thought until the other day. I had gone to visit a family that lost their young son from an aggressive cancer.
Once I entered the house, the grieving mother approached me with an intense hug. This hug was different. It was like a need was being met by transferring the heart of one to another. The embrace lasted longer than most and once we separated, I couldn’t help but feel that God had actually created us to hug.
As I thought about hugging, I decided to research in the Bible to see if there was any mention of Jesus hugging others. And to my astonishment, there is not one verse that states that He hugged anyone. One friend stated that He probably didn’t embrace others due to the amount of power that he held.
In Mark 5: 25-34, there is an account of a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She has been to doctors but her condition has only gotten worse. When she heard about Jesus and how He had been healing others, she made her way through the crowd and reached down and touched the hem of his garment.
“Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
There could be many other reasons why hugging by our savior is not mentioned. It may not have been the custom or the authors didn’t find a purpose in writing about it. Anyway, I do believe that God did create us to hug each other.
As for Carl, getting him to put his paws in my lap is probably as close as I will get to a real hug. But that is okay. God has given me enough people to hug and Carl seems to be content with a good pat on the head.
Carl doesn’t care too much about anything but getting his needs met. Two meals, water, a place to sleep and lots of stroking are all the essentials to a happy life. For the most part, this is the same for all dogs. They go through life doing what they are intended for, being loved and loving the people in their lives.
If you think about it, all animals have a specific purpose that they go through life fulfilling without much effort. So why then is it so hard for us humans to be content in the role that we were created for?
The answer can only be found within the pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could want in the Garden of Eden. They began their existence fulfilling their purpose by living in harmony with God. All was going well until Eve was tempted by the serpent.
Genesis 3:1-6 states,
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
How often are we tempted by the one thing that we are told to stay away from? Just like Eve, we can fall into temptation because we have desires for things that are not from God. Notice how she saw that the apple was pleasing to the eye. How often are we distracted from spending time with God because of our pursuit of what is pleasing to the eye?
God had given them everything they needed but Eve wasn’t content with it. She believed the serpent’s lie and decided she wanted more. It is when we pursue the things that we want that we can lose sight of our real purpose.
Carl doesn’t think about his purpose and he doesn’t have to. He goes through life being a dog that seems content with who he is and what he has. We all have so much to learn from Carl and the animals that are around us. If we could focus on our true purpose of glorifying God, what an incredible world we would have.
Disappointment could be clearly seen plastered across Carl’s face. I didn’t have time to take him for his walk and as he followed me around the house, he shared with me his pitiful frustrated state of mind. He knew when I put my tennis outfit on instead of my walking clothes that I was going to leave him behind.
Disappointment is a bitter emotion that can cause us to turn from our faith and rely on our feelings. When we are not studying the truth and something happens in our lives, our natural response is to immediately turn to our feelings as the picture of our reality.
But if we are in the Bible and digesting the facts of God’s word, when disappointment does coming knocking, we will be better prepared to accept any situation that comes our way. David and Saul are great examples of this. David, meditated on the truth and was constantly calling out to God. Saul on the other hand, relied totally on his feelings when making decisions.
Even though Saul was king, he didn’t feel like it. He constantly compared himself to David and lived in a state of disappointment. These feelings drove him to spend his entire life hunting down David in order to make himself feel like the king.
David on the other hand was living in danger every wakening moment but didn’t see his life based on his emotions but on the truth that God never breaks promises. He had been anointed as king and he believed that his God would ultimately place him in this role.
Many times in the book of Psalms, we can witness David working through his emotions based on the truth. Psalm 61:1-4 is a clear picture of how this man dealt with his feelings.
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”
David starts with a plea based on his emotions but he quickly takes the focus off his feelings and turns it towards the truth about God.
We have so much to learn from this scripture and how to overcome the entrapment of our feelings. As for Carl, he will never understand this principle of putting the facts before his feelings. Even so, I am thankful for him even if I have to constantly assure him through the emotions of his disappointments.