Tag Archives: dogs

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

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

In the Midst of Being Ignored

Even though it was a short trip, I can tell that Carl missed me. Immediately after arriving in the house, the little dog was jumping up and down wanting my attention. To make sure that I would continue looking in his direction, he pulled the blanket off of Bee’s bed and pulled it down the hall. IMG_3957

After Carl pulled the blanket away from his sister and myself, he then started chewing on it and refused to give it up. I knew if I tried to pull it away from him, he would win the tug a war battle. So my only option was to ignore him.

Have you ever felt ignored?

It can bring the worst out of people.  Just this weekend, a woman that I met felt disregarded by a waiter. Instead of assuming the best, she complained bitterly to the manager which almost caused the employee to lose his job. All because she felt ignored.

But it is when we think we are being overlooked by God, that our perception of life can take a downward spiral. Watching people get promoted, achieving their dreams, or witnessing their success can create bitterness in our lives. Many times when we work hard and only see people surpass us in their endeavors, the bitterness can create a hardness towards God.

So how do we keep our hearts close to God?

Paul was a man who had every right to be upset with God. After giving his life to proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, his life plunged into a series of lifetime trials and struggles. But instead of becoming bitter, he made a decision to become what God created him to be.

Paul states it simply in Philippians 4:6-7:  “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.”

Carl realized that he needed to take a different approach. Leaving the blanket on the floor, he came up beside me and rubbed his body up against my leg. As he pressed his body close, he seemed to relax and realize that he was loved without having to exhibit negative behaviors. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take on Paul’s attitude and imitate the actions of a little dog named Carl? IMG_2080

 

 

Held Captive

I am not sure who had it worse, the frog or Carl. The frog had somehow jumped down onto the board that was surrounded by wire on one side and screen on the other.IMG_3660 Years ago, we had to put the wire up to keep Carl from tearing up the screen but the downside of the wired barricade were the prisoners that were taken in, some that actually died before they figured out a way to free themselves.

Carl on the other hand, couldn’t reach the frog but became a prisoner of his obsession to grasp him. He wouldn’t move far from the frog, even when Bee moved into her position of dominance. All Carl could think about was catching his prey.IMG_3663

How often do we become prisoners of our own thoughts?  I call it “stinkin thinkin”. Those words that run across the teleprompter of our brain and won’t stop playing. That is until we take our thoughts captive and exchange them for words of truth.

Paul states it perfectly in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A few minutes ago, I went out to check on the frog. I am not sure if I had the guts to try and catch him to release him into the world but I wanted to see what was happening. Instead of Carl standing guard, Bee was now in position to take the prey if it tried to escape. But the crazy thing was that it was gone.  Nowhere to be found.

I searched the porch to see if it had climbed up high to get out of reach from its predators. But instead of going high, it climbed over to the other screen, still held captive. Pray that I will have courage to figure out a way to save it.IMG_3664

 

Our Mighty Warrior

I thought something was strange the first morning when I went out onto the back porch. Carl’s treat container was turned on its side and crumbs were scattered on the table. But it was the next morning that I knew the unwelcomed guest had returned. Crumbs were all over the table and almost all of the treats were gone. IMG_3604

Our back porch has a doggy door for Carl and Bee to go as they please but I never would have thought that another creature would be using it on an ongoing basis. The third morning, the container was on the floor and all remnants of the treats were gone.

I would have thought that Carl or Bee would have heard the container hit the floor and gone to investigate but every night they didn’t budge from their beds.  Did they hear anything and choose to ignore it?  I could hope that Carl would become a mighty warrior and go out and defend our home from the creature of the night. IMG_2358

Carl is not likely going to be our mighty warrior, and from all accounts, Gideon wasn’t someone that the Israelites would have picked out to be theirs. Here was a man that was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it hidden from his enemies. When wheat is typically threshed it is done in the open air so that the wind can separate the grain from the chaff.

When the angel of the Lord told Gideon that he was going to conquer the mass armies that had kept the Israelites in bondage for seven years, he responded by stating that he was the least of his clan and his clan was the least in their tribe. In other words, Gideon had no attributes that would be considered warrior material.God can Make u

So why did God choose Gideon?  Very simple.  He wanted everyone to know that it was Him that conquered the enemy. God gave Gideon the plans and because of his obedience, Gideon would be considered a mighty warrior for the remainder of his life.

I doubt Carl will ever be considered a mighty warrior but that is okay with me. I personally am thankful that my two dogs have not put themselves in harm’s way.  As for the creature of the night, we will be bringing the treats inside and closing up the doggy door.

Any thoughts on what you think the animal is?

 

A Dog’s Unconditional Love

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It was clear who the culprit was. The evidence lay all around him. A piece of fuzz here and a torn off arm there. Monkey had lost an arm and Carl could care less. He lay in the sun as peaceful as could be without regard to his favorite stuffed animal.

Monkey had come home with him many months ago and had been there for Carl on those first terrifying nights of being away from his dog family. But now, it was clear that Carl had lost interest in the fuzzy companion. All he wanted was something to play tug-a-war with when he was in a fighting mood.

It’s hard to stay mad at this little guy for very long. He is still a puppy and we know he will occasionally pee on the floor or wake us up with his high pitched cry. And even when he does irritate us, we will continue to love him.

Unconditional love. Why is it so easy for people to love their pets when they make life difficult? Is it the look of innocence they give when they are being scolded? Or the way they want to be near you when you don’t think anyone else cares.

John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The love God showers on us is so much more powerful than the love we have for our animals but sometimes we need a tangible example of what love looks like. So being the cool God that He is, He provides us with our four legged friends to help us understand love a little more clearly.

And hopefully, the next time Carl annoys me, instead of getting angry, I will let it serve as a trigger to thank God for my four legged friend. The little dog who helps me see God’s unconditional love for me.

This post was originally posted in August of 2015 but I wanted to share it again because it illustrates one of my favorite memories of Carl and why I knew God was calling me to blog about him.