Tag Archives: Fear

Entangled in Our Own Power

Vern looked up from his bed, gazed around the room to see who was present, cushioned his head between the bumps in his blanket, and drifted off to sleep. With a sense of peace, the little puppy drifted into a land of slumber filled with other puppies frolicking around him, making him the king of the world.

Being a new arrival to this life, Vern has no understanding of the changes that have taken place in our world. In his mind, life couldn’t be better. With no worries and all his needs met, he is one happy pup.

Vern has no control over who will put his food in his dish or why the water never runs out. He just believes it will happen which leads to the serenity he possesses.

All of us humans could learn from this little puppy. In this time of Covid 19, the economy closing down, and fear ripping through our country, we can easily get entangled in our own power or loss of it.

There have been times in history that have looked just as bleak. One specific period of time, a little over two thousand years ago, the brutality of the Roman Empire consumed the thinking of everyone. Crosses of innocent men lined the borders of the city to intentionally let everyone know who ruled.

Then entered a man with talk of a new kingdom, an eternal one that extended beyond the grave. A man who healed people and forgave the sins of the wicked. He not only promised freedom from the physical world but also the spiritual soul of every man.

Jesus didn’t change the brutality of the Romans nor did he make life easier for the ordinary people that followed him. What he did, was far greater. He gave those who believed hope. Hope in a loving God that didn’t just love from a distance but came down to earth and endured the pain for each one of us.

No one knows what will happen in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. But we do know what happened outside of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus actually rose from the dead and walked among us. All he wants is for us to transfer our focus off of the unknown and place it on him.

Vern is fast asleep. A sense of trust dictating his every move. Knowing that even when he tears up my hostas or pees on the floor, he will still be loved. And if he can trust the imperfect humans that have given him a home, why can’t we trust our Heavenly Father who was willing to sacrifice his only Son for you and me?

Give us Today

Vern and Bee just returned from their morning walk. Vern rode in a puppy stroller surrounded by blankets and a bone for chewing, while Bee led the way. Once we got home, Vern was placed in the backyard so he could do his business. He was a little subdued given that he slept through most of his stroll. But as he got orientated to his surroundings, he began to look around the yard at all the green grass, hostas, and the pink azaleas that serve as a border.

For Vern and Bee, the days have not changed except for the inclusion of our presence on a constant basis. Everything else seems normal for them, making them clueless to the fear and uncertainty that has permutated the world. All they see is a beautiful spring day with green leaves sprouting from trees and freshly mowed grass.

Matthew 6:11 states, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus knew that there would be periods of time full of insecurity and anxiety. Times that could cause us to be consumed with dread if we focused on the future. He knew the importance of keeping our eyes on only today.

Matthew 6:34 states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Vern is lying on his bed fast asleep without a single concern. Since being in our home, he has been fed and given a safe place to sleep. He trusts that we will provide for him. Why shouldn’t he?

In the same manner, we should focus on today and trust that God will abundantly provide for us. I pray that we will take a minute to thank God for specific blessings that he has revealed to us during this time of uncertainty. Blessings that we may never have experienced if life had gone on as it was.

Living Between Faith and Fear

Carl knew that we were leaving.  He just wasn’t sure if he would be included in the departure or would be left. To improve his odds of being allowed to join us, he placed his paws in front of him and took a prayer stance. His body was shaking with fear as he waited patiently to see the outcome of what would take place. Carl was living in the middle of fear and faith.

How often do we reside somewhere between the fear that wants to stop us from acting in faith? Personally, I have to confess that I have allowed fear to dictate too many of the decisions in my life.

Abigail was one woman that stood firm in her faith and brushed the fear that was brewing in her heart to dissipate. When she heard that David was coming to kill off all her family because of her husband’s foolish behavior, she knew she had to act quickly.

So with fear trying to convince her to stop, Abigail chose to act out of faith. Immediately, she packed enough food to feed an army, and rode out into the desert to meet the one who had the power to end her life.

“When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.”(1 Samuel 25:23)

With humility, Abigail made her case and stopped the demise of her family. If she had chosen the path of fear, the story would have ended very differently. But because she elected to act, God took care of the situation and her family was spared.

Carl ended up coming with us and spent the day playing with other dogs in a pet resort. He met new friends and enjoyed frolicking around with no cares. What could have ended as a lonely day turned into a fun filled excursion.

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. 

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.

Stuck

Carl is stuck. It has been several nights that he has not budged from the couch.  No matter what I say to him, he refuses to get up and go back to the chair that has been his bed for countless nights.

Carl’s Bed

I have several theories that may be causing my little guy to choose the isolation of the living room over the bedroom where we all have been joined together for the last couple of years. He could be avoiding Bee, who he has been fearful of or he could just be content with being stuck in the couch.

Carl’s greatest fear

If you live long enough in this world, you will encounter a sticky place in life. We can be moving forward and then something occurs that gets us to stay put.  The cause can come out of nowhere or it can be as simple as settling into a routine.

Jesus encountered lots of stuck people.  Some that seemed more set in their ways than others. It was evident that the paralyzed man that sat at the pool of Bethesda was stuck. He had been sitting at the pool for years waiting for someone to help him so that he could be healed. There was also the Samaritan woman who had been stuck in the cycle of sleeping with men to meet a need that she believed couldn’t be met in any other way.

These examples are obvious but have you ever thought of Martha being stuck? Here was a woman that opened her house up for Jesus and was busy preparing a meal for him.  How can her innocent behavior be perceived as being stuck? If you take away the layers of duty and good works, you will see someone stuck in bitterness and resentment.

I can totally relate to being stuck where Martha was. For years, I took pride in my works and as I looked around, anger would come gushing out towards the people that weren’t working as hard as I was. My heart grew a hard shell towards people that I believed were getting an easy pass in life.

But then Jesus spoke to me through Martha. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 38:41-42

I can envision Jesus doing what I do a lot with both Carl and Bee. He took his fingers and pointed them right at me and then turned them towards Him. “Cora, Cora, you are worried and upset about many things. Take your focus off of others and place them on me.”

Life has been so much better since the stickiness of bitterness and resentment have been unglued. I can’t say they don’t come to visit every once in a while but if I keep my eyes on my savior, I can keep them from sealing onto my heart.

Carl is still stuck to the couch and the fear that must be keeping him there. Hopefully, he will make a decision to unglue himself but until then, I know where I can find him.

Paralyzed with Fear

I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  It had been so long since I had seen Carl in this position that it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. I had gotten up in the middle of the night and I happened to look in the hallway and there, paralyzed, was Carl.

Darkness was surrounding him on all sides. I could see Carl’s body shake and knew he was unable to make his way through the door and over to his bed. As I peered in the direction that he was looking, all I could see was Bee, our other French bull dog dozing on her pillow.

Fear can paralyze all of us. It can stop us in our tracks and surround us like the darkness of night. Whatever we are facing can seem too large for us to get through. To others it may seem as passive as a sleeping dog, but to us, it can be too massive to get around.

When the fear begins to continue to lie to us about our inability to move, there is someone that we need to picture in our minds. Someone who didn’t allow fear to dictate His next moves. Someone who knew the horrific events that He would have to get through on our behalf.

Jesus didn’t allow the fear of the night to stop Him from the journey that took him to the grave, the place where we fear the most. He did this so that we would continue when our hearts tell us to stop.

The same power that was used to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that we as believers have to walk through our fears.

The only thing I could do when I saw Carl stuck in place was to escort him to his bed. He didn’t want to walk by his sister Bee so he took a detour under the bed and slid close to the outside wall. Even though it wasn’t the most direct route, he did have the courage to find his way to his bed.

Hopefully, the next time I am gripped with fear, I will be willing to find my way through it, even if I have to follow Carl’s example and take a detour.

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

The Power of Fear

Power. It takes all kinds of shapes. Last night I saw it in its most primitive state. After feeding Carl and Bee, I went back into the bedroom and went back to sleep. A few minutes later I awoke to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I sat up and looked at the two dog beds and found them vacant.

Anxiety filled my heart as I arose and walked down the darkened hallway back into the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. There shivering in the corner was Carl. He had been trapped there by the power of fear.

Fear takes on a life of its own if it isn’t dealt with. In the last couple of months this has been clearly played out in the life of my dog Carl. But I know there are areas of my life that fear can grasp on to and squeeze harder if I am not careful.

When I was a young girl, I was involved in a boat accident that left me scarred for life. As I was under the water with the boat coming straight towards me, a fear was born. Little did I know that it would take on the shape that it did.

Obviously, I was afraid of boats but specifically catamarans. The flat surface of the boat was a perfect place to get trapped under if the boat flipped over. And then there are bridges, particularly high ones that lift the cars far above the water. Just the thought of these, makes my heart race and palms perspire.

“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.”

Philippians 4:6 sums up how we should all deal with our fears. The power of fears comes when we give it time to fester in our minds and hearts. If we instead turn our focus onto God and all His blessings, fear will lose its power.

But as for Carl, his fear has taken the shape of his sister dog Bee. Every time she stands in front of him and he backs down, her power over him increases. What started off as a little anxiety has blown up into a nightmare for all of us.

I would love to hear from anyone that may have a suggestion on how to resolve this issue.  I am out of ideas and am willing to try anything to bring our dogs back into a harmonious relationship.

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Storms In Our Lives

Carl has done it again.  His separation anxiety continues to be clearly displayed. This time, Jay’s new recliner was attacked and the chair lost.  Because Carl cannot be trusted in the house when we are away, he and Bee have been banned to the porch and back yard. If they want to come in, they can only come into the pantry where a gate closes off the rest of the house.

Another storm of life. Compared to other storms, this is minor but it is still a storm for us. And with the storm, questions about why it continues and how to get out of it rise in my mind. Why would God continue to set up storms for us?  We pray that God will take away the storms, but they keep coming. I believe the answer to this crucial question can be found in Matthew 14.

Jesus just fed the five thousand and he then makes his disciples get in a boat and travel ahead of him to the other side. After dismissing the crowds he takes the time to go up on a mountain and pray. While Jesus is praying on the mountain, a storm comes up. The waves are bashing against the boat and the disciples are feeling like they are going to die. Then what happens next is crazy. Jesus walks on the water towards the boat.

I wonder what I would have thought if I was trapped in a boat during a horrific storm and saw a man walking towards me. I am sure I would have been terrified and just wanted to close my eyes and pray that it would all go away. It is clear that these men had absolutely no control over their situation and were forced to rely on God.

Peter is the only one that demonstrates the faith needed to walk out on the water. But when he realizes his situation and takes his eyes off Jesus, he begins to doubt.  At that moment, he begins to sink and cries out to Jesus. And our savior did what he does best. He reaches down and saves Peter. Once they are back in the boat, the wind dies down.

There are a couple of events that took place here that can help us understand a little more about our Lord. First, notice that he made the disciples get in the boat even though he knew there would be a storm. In the same manner, God may create storms in our lives. Not to harm us but to encourage us to draw closer to him.

But it is what Jesus did after he made the disciples get the boat that brings me comfort. He goes to the mountain and prays. Which is what he does now when we are going through storms.  He is sitting at the right hand of God the father interceding for us as we fight off the squalls.

It only gets better here. After leaving the mountain, he comes to the disciples in the midst of their storm. He hasn’t abandoned them but draws near in the worst of times. All he asks is for us to do is to take our eyes off the storm and place them on him. Peter was able to do this for a moment but then he shifted his attention. Once he lost focus, he began to sink and cries out to Jesus.

The Bible in Matthew 14: 31 states, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter. You of little faith, he said. Why did you doubt?” I am so thankful that Jesus is willing to reach down and pull me out of my mire during the storms of my life. All I need to do is ask and believe that he has my best interest at heart. Even when no answers can be found. I just need to trust him.

As for the storm with Carl. Jay has covered the hole with masking tape and we have been able to let go of the anger towards our little dog. This storm has helped us realize that the stuff that we own has no eternal value but forgiveness does.

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