Tag Archives: dogs

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.

Pouring Courage into One Another

I walked in the door after being away for a day and Carl was there to jump up and welcome me. I admit that I love the unsolicited encouragement that both he and Bee lavish upon me, no matter how long I have been away.

Dogs are so wonderful when it comes to demonstrating their unconditional love for us humans.  Particularly when we don’t deserve it. They don’t keep a record of wrongs.  All they want is to receive a little attention and stroking of the fur and they’re good to go.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

Wow, if we could take a lesson from our four legged friends, everyone would be in such a better place.  If every day, we could encourage (pour courage) into the ones that are closest to us, what a better world we would live in.

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 Wall of Insecurity

Carl was clearly showing signs of insecurity. He wouldn’t come into the bedroom because of his fear of his sister. After going out into the hall and literally pushing him inside, it was clear our pooch needed support to enter. 

Once inside and on his bed, he was shaking uncontrollably. Carl, who stands only a foot off the ground, typically portrays himself as the size of a great dame on his walks but now had shriveled into the body of a Chihuahua.

How can a dog who one minute appears so confident be transformed into a pile of mush? Before judging this little Frenchie, we should look in the mirror and ask ourselves the same question.

We all have sensitive spots in our personality that cause the wall of insecurity to keep us from going forward. The question arises when we are face to face with the wall and how we are going to get over it. Or in some cases, if we are even going to attempt the climb.

Many of us are forced to make the ascent over our personal insecurity when we are in occupations that require it. Others, make the choice to fight through uncertainty when an important relationship is on the line.

But then there are others that avoid facing their barricade or pretend it doesn’t exist. King David was a perfect example of this. After his son Absalom was killed, the king was paralyzed by his insecurity. Instead of leading his country, he became absorbed with self-doubt and drew inward. The result of his actions had a devastating effect on the country. Without a leader, all the people went back aimlessly to their own tents.

Thankfully, Joab, his right hand man, had the confidence to speak sternly to the king. Then and only then did King David take his position of authority and push through his insecurity. Once he was seated on his throne, the people were willing to come out of their own hiding places and give respect to the king.  (2 Samuel 19)

Carl doesn’t understand how his insecurity impacts us. He doesn’t see the inconvenience of being awakened by his howl and having to get up to move him through his self-doubt. Many people who lack confidence don’t see how their actions hurt the people around them. But just like David, it only takes a decision to take the position that God has given us.

Hopefully in the future, Carl will climb over his personal wall of self-doubt and make his way to his sleeping position that he has been assigned. And just like him, the next time I come face to face with my own wall of insecurity, I will be willing to make the climb upward and over. 

Us and Them

Carl looked up at me and then turned toward the door and pranced out with my husband for his daily walk. If he could talk, he would say something like, “If you want to come with us, that is okay, but it doesn’t matter to me.”

When he takes to the streets, Carl makes it clear that it is all about “us” and “them”. He really doesn’t care about the feelings of the other dogs or humans that he comes across, just as long as he has the undivided attention of my husband, Carl is perfectly content.

Since social media has given people their own personal platform, people are becoming more and more about us and them. Social apps are bombarded with extreme views that automatically categorize friends and family into “us” or “them”.

With each comment, a brick goes up into the wall that divides “us” from “them”. A wall that is being built without concern for others. So how do we take down the bricks to create a world that focuses more on “we”?  It starts when we take our focus off of “me” and place it on a man that walked the earth two thousand years ago.

This man lived each day of His life for everyone to be a “we”. As He was getting ready to die for each one of us, He prayed to God for unity. “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they maybe one as we are one.” (John 16:22)

Whenever I am tempted to put an “us” and “them” brick into the wall, I have to take my thoughts to a hill covered with blood and tears. And when I am there in my mind, I look around and see others that could be on the other side of the wall looking up into the eyes of the man who died for “we”.

Being a dog, Carl will never understand how he may be hurting others when he walks by them with his nose in the air. But unlike Carl, I hope the next time I am feeling the temptation to place a brick of “us” into the wall, I will remember the “them” who resides on the other side.

Carl’s Great Escape

Carl hardly ever has his eyes totally closed when I am nearby.  He is constantly on alert for any unusual movement I make.  I think Carl wants to make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything fun or entertaining.

Keeping an Eye on the Situation

No matter if he is in his bed, on the couch, or lying down on the screen porch, his eyes are looking in all directions for any detection of movement. When I need to go outside without Carl, I usually have to tippy toe past him and open the door without making a sound.

If I am caught, Carl will slither through the door beside me, and wander around outside until he is placed back inside. This can be aggravating when I am in a hurry or have a task that doesn’t call for the help of a Frenchie with no tail.

Carl loves the folly of exploring outside the boundaries of the house. He is unaware of the dangers of the busy street that borders our yard.  He typically won’t go out into the street unless he spots a dog being walked. Then all bets are off.

Enjoying Freedom

Just like Carl, we all have a tendency to folly out beyond the boundaries set before us by God. Proverbs 15:21 states it simply but profoundly.

“Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.”

How often do we slither outside and wander where we are not intended to travel? This can take place in our minds or in our actions. No matter, there are times when we lack sense and need to return to the straight path.

As for Carl, he will continue to dart outside every chance he can. And you will find me taking a hold of his collar and dragging him back to the safety of the screened porch.

Waiting for the Right Opportunity

Wet Paw Prints

The rain continued to beat against the window pane as Carl looked up from his bed, and then rolled over. It was clear he had no intention of jumping off, and making his way outside to do his business.

For the last couple of weeks, the rain has come in waves, turning our backyard into a pond. Carl has tried to avoid getting wet, but even with his efforts, it is impossible to miss his muddy paw prints scattered across the wood floors.

Just like Carl, at times we leave muddy footprints across the floors of life. They can come from making rash decisions or stating harsh words in the middle of our own personal storms.

Given that life will bring days of squalls and dark clouds, we must prepare ourselves before their arrival.  And who best to emulate than Jesus, the creator of the storms.

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘“Quiet! Be still!”’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:37-39)

Many people have questioned how Jesus could sleep during this horrendous storm when all his disciples were scared to death. Just like these men, we often wonder where Jesus is when we go through storms. And when we can’t find Him, we have a tendency to react out of fear.

I have found that if I focus on what Jesus did during this storm, I will not be consumed with fear but faith. In order to sleep, Jesus must have known the outcome of the storm, and then once He was awoken, He demonstrated His power by calming the wind and waves.

This passage points me to Jesus when I am in the middle of heavy rainstorms. When it doesn’t look like it will ever stop and the sun is missing from the sky, I visualize Jesus sleeping in the stern of the boat.

Carl continued to sleep until the rain subsided and he could go outside without getting drenched. We appreciated his attempt to stay dry but had to laugh as he walked across the wooden floors and left a trail of wet paw prints.