Tag Archives: Cora Darrah

Not For You

For the last couple of years, I have written about Carl, my French bull dog, with the attempt to help others see a glimpse of how God works in very mysterious ways. But what I recently discovered is that my writings have not been for you at all.  They have been for me.img_1100

Each week, I have stumbled on one of Carl’s attributes or actions that has stirred my heart to give it life. Each blog started as an idea that needed to be birthed, nurtured and released into the wind.

I must confess that too many times I cared too much about the reactions I received from others. But after reading a phenomenal book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic, I now know my creativity must be unleashed for my sake.

Her following quote literally changed my perspective about my writing. “I will never stop creating, no matter the outcome, and no matter how deep my anxieties and insecurities may be.”

We have all been given our own unique gift of creativity that is just waiting to come out. Mine just happens to be writing. The irony of this gift is that it wasn’t unfolded until my mid 50’s. Before then, I didn’t have the desire or the confidence to write. But with the help of Carl and his sister Bee, I have been given a springboard of ideas to work from.

I happen to be writing this from the Miami airport after being on a cruise for the last week.  Carl and Bee have been staying with my daughter and her four children. I have received an occasional text with a picture of my four legged friends and how they are adapting to their life with small children.img_1132

My youngest grandson decided to use Bee as a chalkboard and wrote all over her back with a red marker. Carl has been roaming around their backyard wondering if we will ever return. Both dogs have demonstrated a resilience to their temporary environments.

It is amazing what we can all learn about ourselves through the gifts that God has given us. For me it is my writing.  What is yours? My hope is that you will not let your gift stand dormant in your soul, but instead, you will give it life and send it into the wind.

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Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

Our Unfulfilled Purpose

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.IMG_4135

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.IMG_4115

 

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

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

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.

A Small Jar of Oil

2 King 4: 1-2

“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Several years ago,

after retiring from teaching, I was unsure what to do with my life. In some ways, I felt like I was starting over. With my career behind me and my children grown and out of the house, I thought I had nothing at all.

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But after looking out unto my back porch and seeing the little fawn colored French Bull dog, I realized that God had given me the perfect muse to work from.

2 King 4: 3-6

“Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.  Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.  When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.”

Carl has been like the small jar of oil for me.

Many days, when I didn’t see what direction my life was going in, I would look down at my sweet pooch, and God would pour into me a spiritual lesson.

Just like this woman, I have come to realize that God works best with empty jars. If we become so full of ourselves or the stuff that we obtain, we won’t have room for the oil that God wants to pour into us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when God has to clear the clutter from our hearts and even bank accounts in order to make room for the spiritual oil.

Another lesson that I have learned is that when we stay focused on our problems and not on what we do have, we will not be able to be used by God. But if we pour our oil into others, our own jars will be filled.

Carl doesn’t understand any of this but he doesn’t have to. 

All I know is that if I share with others about how God can use a little dog like Carl, He will continue to pour His precious oil into my life and hopefully into the hearts of my readers.IMG_1546