Tag Archives: father

A Life Changing Dream

As I look towards the fire, I can’t help but smile at my little white dog. He is cuddled up on the couch as close to the fire as he can get. The blower to our furnace is broken, so for now, the gas fire place is the spot to be near to stay warm. Carl’s eyes are closed and he seems to be preoccupied in his world of dreams.

Dreams. Many of them can be unpleasant and others can take you to the edge of ecstasy. I can’t say that I have had any in my lifetime that changed the course of my life. Some have given me something to think about but for the most part, nothing earth shattering.

But this isn’t the case for Joseph. Ever since he had found out that Mary was pregnant, he couldn’t think about anything else. He wanted to believe her but how could it be possible that she was pregnant without sleeping with another man?

And the nights were the worse. Sleep didn’t come easily. But this night Joseph finally drifted into a deep coma. This is when it happened. An angel appeared to him and even though he was asleep, Joseph knew that this was the most real experience he had ever had.

The angel shared a clear message from God. ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21.

Joseph awoke and knew that he had to honor God by coveting the relationship he had with Mary. The angel was very clear and Joseph knew he had to do whatever it took to protect this woman and the baby she carried. And this is where the journey began that would ultimately change the course of humanity.

Unlike Joseph, Carl’s dreams seem to be only a fleeting set of pictures that may consist of his doggy family or a wild adventure that has no real significance. On occasion, Carl has awoken with a strong reaction to something that appeared in a dream. But after a few moments of adjusting his thoughts, he has been able to calm down and fall back to sleep.  IMG_2048

Stuck

I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find Bee anywhere. She wasn’t snuggled up in front of the fire or buried in her oversized bed. I even checked the bathroom to see if she was cuddled up on one of the bath mats. It had been at least twenty minutes since I last saw her and knew she would come in from the cold temperatures if she could.

I raised the curtain on the French door that led to the backyard and saw my little girl sitting on the top step. I quickly opened the door and called for her to come but she wouldn’t budge.

My first fear was that she had cornered an animal that she didn’t want to give up. I cautiously made my way towards her to inspect what could be her prey. Given that we have had a possum on our porch, I didn’t want to take any chances. And even though most of the snakes have disappeared I couldn’t help but remember the snake that Bee and Carl had literally tore in half just a few feet away from where she was sitting.

After a close inspection, it was clear that she didn’t have a prey so why wouldn’t she come when I called? Even after tempting her with treats, she seemed stuck.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in life? Stuck in a period of life that no longer brings you the joy that you remember having in your youth.  Stuck in thoughts of wanting something that will bring fulfillment but no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t come.

Do you remember Let’s Make a Deal, a game show where the contestants had to pick a curtain where they could receive a fabulous gift or a booby prize that was worthless? Sometimes, I think life can be like this. We come to intersections where we have to make decisions that could bring fulfillment or leave us empty and stuck.

In John 15:9-11 Jesus gives us a clear path on how to get us unstuck. He states, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

So whenever I feel stuck, I know that I need to get into my Bible and draw close to this man that understands how to give me joy to the fullest.

As for Bee, after not making any attempt to climb that last step, I reached down and brought her inside where she rested until I took her to the vet. After close examination, it was determined that Bee must have tweaked her back. She received a steroid shot, muscle relaxers, and strict orders to rest.

And even though she scared Carl half to death the other night, he took it upon himself to jump up on the couch and draw close.

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Carl’s Identity

Carl pulled so hard that I thought I was going to fall forward on my face. He wasn’t pleased at all with his situation. Instead of leading the pack, he was steps behind the two dogs and it was clear that he felt doomed.

When he is walked alone, he usually struts himself with a confident air and appears totally carefree. But when walking with the other two dogs, if he isn’t steps ahead of them, his demeanor totally changes.

In the last two days, our country has suffered a great blow. 59 of our American citizens lost their lives when a man with no apparent cause sprayed gunfire down on a country music concert in Las Vegas.

What has hurt the most is the lack of compassion for the families of the individuals that lost their lives. Instead, politicians have used this opportunity to stand on their platforms and once again, we have become more and more divided.

If only our country could stand together and grieve with the victims of this senseless act. But unless we can place our identity in Christ this will never happen. Just as Carl wants to extend his lead over the other two bulldogs, we take our stand with our political or cultural affiliation.

It will only be when we go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and extend ourselves to the individuals that are suffering that we will find healing.

Carl will probably never understand how to get over his need to be first and in front of the pack. I am sure that the next time we go out for a walk, he will pull the leash and try to push ahead with his own agenda. But I have to remember, he is only a dog. Didn’t God create us to be so much more?

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New Normals

Carl woke from an evening snooze and looked over at the sofa. There, sleeping on his section of what had always been his spot, was the male dog that had made his way into his home and into his owners’ hearts. At first, Carl just stared at the slumbering animal. But then for no reason he jumped down off his father’s lap and went over to the edge of the couch and placed his head level with the pooch.

What happened next was shocking. Carl raised his leg and begun to urinate on the side of the couch. Why had our dog acted in such an inappropriate manner? Was he having to adjust to his new normal?

New normals. They come out of nowhere. Many times with no preparations for how to live through them.  A loved one develops Alzheimer’s and family members are faced with decisions that they have never encountered. A spouse dies and the uninvited new normal moves in.

Two thousand years ago, the most impactful new normal was born. The religious community was shaken to their roots by this event. Herod, the political leader of the day was so intimidated by this child that he had all male babies killed. Why would such a powerful man sink to such a wicked state of mind? Could it be that he didn’t want to live with the new normal?

And ever since this child was born, lived, died, and was resurrected, we have had to learn to adjust to the fact that life doesn’t rotate around us. We can try to brush his existence away by staying busy or feeding ourselves off of the world. But in reality, we will all have to face the truth either during this lifetime or the next.

Once my husband saw what Carl was doing, he moved quickly. With a pointing finger and a harsh word, Carl lowered his leg and moved away from the sofa. Overall, the dogs have adapted to their new normal but as we all know, it can get messy at times.

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Allusions of Reality

Carl could see his reflection in the window pane and started to howl at it. He couldn’t be convinced that what he was barking at wasn’t real. So instead of ceasing, he took the barking up another notch. Determined to make the allusive figure leave, he looked right at it and then back at me. Realizing my little dog wasn’t going to stop the ear piercing screech, I opened the door so that Carl could go out and see that the image wasn’t real.

Reality. As I watched Carl react to the suggestive figure on the other side of the glass, I began to ponder how we can be just like him as we go through this life. Reality can mean many things to different people. For some, making money, seeking power, and climbing the ladder of success is their reality. For others, putting all their hopes and dreams into their family is their definition of what is true and right.

But what if this life is a temporal set of circumstances that isn’t reality at all. What if what Jesus tried to tell us when he walked this earth is the only true reality? In John 12, Jesus knew he would be crucified in only a few days and his words became more urgent.

John 12:44-46 states, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Could this light he is referring to be the true reality? If so, where can we find it? And how can we be sure that we are living a life based on truth and not on an allusive falsehood?

I must remember the facts about this man. Jesus died. Just like we all will do. But this is where He was different. He actually rose from the dead and walked on the earth. He ate bread with his friends and even allowed Thomas to place his finger through the hole in his hand. But what gives me the most encouragement is that He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So if Jesus is the reality that lasts for eternity, it gives me a lot to think about as I ponder how to live out my life.

After a while, Carl stopped barking and laid down on the cool floor to wait for another allusion to bark at. As the daylight changed how it reflected on the window, the figure that he once saw disappeared and was no longer real.

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Carl the Super Hero Dog

Carl acts like he is a super hero dog. And why not? He is able to go through walls. (With the help of a remote controlled doggy door) Any time he wants water, he can go to his bowl that is always full. But when Carl stands on the back deck and runs off all the wild animals with the sound of his ferocious bark, he stands like he actually has super powers.

But the truth is Carl is not a super hero dog. As much as he wants to be, he has limitations. He is totally dependent on humans to feed him, bathe him, and meet all of his medical needs.

It is easy to see that Carl doesn’t have super powers but it can be more difficult for us to see our lack of power. If we are healthy and gainfully employed, it can be easy to list all of the ways that we are in control of our lives. Doesn’t our toil produce the money necessary to purchase what we need?

If we take a closer look, we might see that we shouldn’t be so quick to take the credit for our self-sufficiency. In Psalm 127, Solomon writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” To get a clearer picture of what this verse means, I looked up in Dictionary.com what “in vain” means. And I was surprised to see it meant “without effect or avail; to no purpose.”

We can build all of our lives but if the Lord is not at the center of why we are building, it serves no purpose. Yes, our efforts will put food on the table and a roof over our heads, but ultimately will not produce the eternal fruit that we were created for.

Since we are spiritual creatures, we need to realize that everything that we are given, has been given to us by our Lord. With this knowledge, we ought to give Him the credit for all His gifts.

It might be difficult to convince Carl that he is not a super hero dog, but I can assure you that when it is time to eat, he is eager to demonstrate his gratitude by looking up at me with a humble expression. Hopefully, we can extend even more thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

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My Lost Dog

We were on our way home. Just as we were going to turn the corner at the top of the hill, Carl got loose and ran as fast he could. I called his name but he was determined to run ahead towards our house. But what he didn’t know was there was a gang of dogs waiting for him.

When I finally got up to the top of the hill, I looked over to see Carl being chased past our house and down the road. A sense of dread swept over me as my little dog fled for his life. My dog was now lost from my view and I felt totally helpless.

This experience reminded me of a time when my daughter was only five years old. We were staying at a beach house with several different families. One midday, we decided to go out for lunch. Everyone packed into three vehicles and made our way to the restaurant. As we all began to unload, it was clear that my five year old daughter was not with us.

This was the time before cell phones and there was no way to contact her. My husband and I jumped back in the car and made the fifteen minute drive back to the beach house. Crazy thoughts raced through my mind as we rushed back.

God demonstrates through his word that He knows how it feels to be a parent of a lost child. In Luke 15, Jesus shares a parable about a wealthy man and his two sons. One son wanted to leave and take his inheritance. I am sure this hurt the father as he watched his son walk away with the possibility of never seeing him again. The story describes how the son squandered all his money and eventually took a job feeding pigs. After he finally came to his senses, humbled himself, he journeyed home to experience the consequences of his actions.

The father could have easily reprimanded his son but instead he demonstrated God’s true nature. Luke 15:20 states, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

I am so thankful for this verse and the knowledge that no matter what we do, God has compassion for us and only desires for our return.

As for my daughter, she was waiting for us on the porch with a relieved expression across her face. As I wiped my own tears of thankfulness, I apologized and gave her a huge hug.

I couldn’t find Carl. No matter how hard I tried, he was lost. The sense of loss was so real I almost started crying. It was then that I woke myself up and looked over to where Carl was sleeping peacefully. As if he knew I was concerned about him, he raised his head and looked up at me with his soft brown eyes. Thankfully, what had seemed so real was only a dream.

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