Vern’s Feelings of Remorse

Vern knew he had made a bad decision. The harsh rebuke clearly demonstrated that he had reacted in a way that was not acceptable. With head held low to the ground, the little dog scurried under the foot stool and scrunched into a ball. Maybe, here, covered by the flaps, no humans would see him. Maybe he could become invisible.

How often, when we make poor decisions do we want to hide away from the world? Sometimes, a deep sense of remorse for our actions causes us to want to flee. Peter, Jesus’ disciple knew this feeling of sorrow over his actions. Jesus clearly told him that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed twice. Peter, being his self-assured self, told Jesus that he would stand by his side, no matter what happened. (Mark 14:29-31)  

As we all know, Peter did deny his relationship with Jesus. And what did Peter do? He wept and then fled. The moment of truth was like a mirror of his character, and it was too much to bear.

The cool part of the story comes when Jesus is raised from the dead, and his last personal conversation is with Peter. Jesus knew Peter felt remorse for his actions and desired to reassure him of his love. And like Peter, Jesus knows our unique needs and treats us accordingly.

In the same manner, after Vern had been under the stool for a couple of minutes, my husband sat down on the floor, took the scared pooch in his arms, pet his coat, and reminded him of his love.


Vern’s Corner of the Room

Vern finally settled down and closed his eyes. He was not happy and could you blame him? He had been taken off the warm bed and instructed to retreat to the foam mattress in the corner of the room. The little dog couldn’t comprehend why he wasn’t allowed to sleep snuggled in between the humans where he felt safe and content.

Recently, life has taken a huge turn for all of us. We can easily ask the same questions that Vern has asked. Why can’t life return to the normal that we have become so accustomed to? Why can’t I travel and visit with friends and family without having to be consumed with the dangers of Covid? So many whys and no clear answers.

As the months pass with life only becoming crazier by the moment, we can all become very bitter about the turn of events that have impacted our lives. We can become overwhelmed with our personal situations or we can choose another course.  

Paul has some excellent advice that all of us can benefit from. “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.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

If only Vern could change his thinking. But I have no control over what he thinks, but I do have control over my thoughts. So right now I am making the decision to ponder the excellent and praiseworthy. And that includes all of you who are reading this. Thank you. And for Vern, I will turn the little fireplace on to warm up his corner of the room.


Vern Takes Flight

Did you know that Vern can fly? This past week he had surgery. For days afterwards, he lay around in a lethargic state. It was clear he was hurting and only wanted to rest in front of the fire. Bee, Vern’s sister, was very happy with her brother’s state of mind. She was hoping that this would be how he would be. But once he felt better, Vern began to fly.

When was the last time you felt like you could fly? When life was set on glide and you were breezing through circumstances without any obstacles to bring you down. And just when you thought you could reach the clouds, a sense of depression took over or a sorrowful event grounded you. Or has discouragement kept you from reaching for your wings and taking off?

James 4:7-10 might be the words which can set you off again. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Isn’t it crazy how often we need to be brought down before we can put on our wings and fly?  So instead of seeing only the negative in your lowly circumstances, come before the Lord and trust in his will for your life. And wait and watch for how God will lift you up.

As for Vern, ever since his surgery, he has been jumping up higher. Last night he jumped up on our bed, something he has never been able to do before. It’s almost like he takes flight. Now we are in the dilemma of how to prevent him from getting up on our bed. Oh well.   That’s an issue for another day.


Vern’s Surgery

Vern is going into elective surgery today. Maybe I should rephrase this. Vern is having surgery we determined necessary for him. As much as we liked the idea of little Verns running around, it will be easier for everyone involved to have him snipped.

Have you ever experienced something in life that was totally out of your control? Maybe a loss of a job or an illness that sent your world spinning in a different direction. But then later after you had time to reflect on the situation, you could say the experience was one of the best things that could have happened.

As Jesus walked through Galilee, healing and preaching the Good News, he saw a blind man from birth. His disciples were curious. Someone’s sin must have caused the man to be born this way. So they asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”(John 9:1-2)

How often do we think when bad things happen there is a direct correlation to our sin or bad decisions? Many times, stuff happens as a result of our actions. But there are times when horrible things happen to us so the works of God might be displayed through us. Because of the man’s blindness, he had the privilege of meeting Jesus, the son of God.

The next time pain or emotional turmoil occur, take some time to reflect on how you can display the works of God through it to others. If for no other reason, it will take the focus off of yourself and bring refreshment to your soul.

Vern will be sore for a couple of days. During his recovery, he will receive a lot of love and attention from his human family. Feel free to send the little guy positive thoughts and prayers. And hopefully, God’s work will be seen.  


Christmas Peace

Vern’s first Christmas hasn’t gone the way he imagined. He has enjoyed the Christmas songs streaming through the house and can be found squished up in front of the fire. He’s enjoyed the tree and if some morsels from the baked cookies fall from the counter, he’s there to retrieve them. But Vern never expected to be wearing red antlers and lights on top of his head.

I’m sure Vern is wondering what the big deal is about this time of year and the holiday we are celebrating. And with this year, I’m sure others are asking questions about who this Savior is that was born so many years ago, and why He hasn’t saved us from all the effects of Covid.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)

Note the words of the angels. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

They were declaring that through Jesus would come peace. Maybe not the physical resolution we are all looking for, but a deeper inner peace that comes from realizing who the baby was and the man he became.

This year we have all been humbled. And with the humility comes insight that can only be seen when we are weak. This Christmas, as we approach the manger, stop for a moment and peer in. You might be amazed at the gift of peace you’ll find.

After the lights were placed on his head, Vern climbed under the ottoman to brush the apparatus off.  And once he was free of the irritating head dress, he rested in peace.


Our Unanswered Why Questions

Vern couldn’t understand why the collar was being placed around his neck. He was inside and there was no one around. The last time he wore the collar was when he had run off and almost got hit by a car. He remembered the noise, followed by the vibration. At that point, he wasn’t sure what it all meant and kept running towards the road. That was when the shock hit him and he stopped dead in his tracks. He never wanted to feel that again. He wasn’t sure what to do and so he stopped and waited for his owner to come and pick him up.

But this time, Vern was inside, minding his own business. Scared and bewildered, he crawled under the foot rest and hid. It was then that the doorbell rang and other humans were entering. Usually, Vern would jump up on them to greet them, but fear of the feeling swept over him. His human looked at him and said the words “down”. He knew what that meant and complied. She had the blue thing in her hand which Vern had come to understand made the feeling. So he sat still and allowed the humans to reach down and pet him.

How many times have we been stopped in our tracks by an event or tragedy, and wondered what we had done to cause it? We could’ve been minding our own business, going through life without a care and then it happens. A death, financial crisis, break up, or sickness that comes out of nowhere. And then what? Do we look up to our heavenly Father and question why? Hoping for an answer so the crisis won’t be repeated.

Jesus came and was surrounded by crisis. Everyone that approached him had a situation begging for the answer to why. But Jesus never attempted to respond to the why question. Instead he directed their thoughts upward. When Martha asked Jesus why her brother had died, Jesus stated in John 11:40 “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God.”

 1 Peter 4:12-13 states it this way. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

God loves us and Vern’s humans love him. The collar hasn’t had to be turned on again. The only one time was enough. The use of the collar was done out of love to protect the little dog from something far greater than the “bad” feeling.  

In the same manner, there will be times that we will suffer. But if we look deeply within the pain, we may see the glory of God and know that there is an eternal good in it that will be seen when we reach our final destination.


The Desire for Attention

Vern can’t understand why Bee doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. All he wants is what dogs want, some companionship and attention. But Bee knows better. She has been around the block a couple of times with other male dogs, and knows the attention Vern wants to give, isn’t welcome.

Humans are similar to our canine friends. We also have an inward desire to receive attention from others. Some may need more than others, but everyone’s DNA is set up to only be complete when we are surrounded by a network of friends and family.

The problem comes when we’re only expecting others to give us our daily dose of attention, without reaching out to others.  Many times, we think friends and family should give to us before we reciprocate. When this cycle begins, it usually ends with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

If we would turn our attention to the approach Jesus took, everyone could have their needs met, and some left overs to pass out. “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. “(John 13:12-17)

If attention is what you are looking for, then you will find it in the act of serving. Reach out to the friend that may need a kind word or a neighbor that may need help. It will be in the act of service that you discover your own needs will be met.

Vern’s need for attention may not come through his sister dog. That’s okay. He has been learning that his attention can come from all his human friends that enjoy a good Vern petting every once in a while.


The Consequences of Worry

Vern, our handsome Frenchie isn’t eating these days. His approach to how he views food has changed. Instead of rushing over to his bowl and digging in, he stops a couple of feet away from the morsels nestled together in his bowl and looks around. If he discovers his sister Bee in eye shot, he walks away from the food.

What could be causing this behavior? Could he be afraid of the white and black female that is no larger than himself? Is he trying to hold on to something that he has control over, the ability to make the choice to eat or not to eat? Is he afraid that if he starts munching on his food, she will come over and growl?

One thing is true. He has created a scenario in his mind that is just as real as if Bee attacked him every time he ate. (Which is not true at all) But you can’t tell him that. As much as we want him to eat, he leaves his food and retreats to the couch.

How often do we create a situation in our own minds that appears to be real but in reality doesn’t exist? I personally don’t like conflict. So if I have to confront someone about a problem, I usually create a horrific scenario that floats around in my thinking. This makes it harder for me to confront the situation and sometimes I even ignore it, hoping it will just go away.

But we are not hardwired to hold on to unresolved situations. When we do, bitterness and anger sprout up and take over. Psalm 37-38 states, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

I know that if I follow the instructions God has given in this passage, my life would be so much better. So I am going to try and put my hope in the Lord and fan off worrying about things I have no control over. If I could only convince Vern that his fretting over his food isn’t healthy, I am sure he would dig in. But given he is a dog, I doubt he would understand my logic. As for me, I need to put my trust in the Lord, even when it pertains to my four legged friends.



It was clear that Vern was not feeling well. He ignored his food and only wanted to lie down in front of the fire. Bee, on the other hand, was eager to go after the extra bowl of food that she didn’t need, given we are watching her waist line. All morning, we tried to place the bowl down in front of our little friend. But every time we did, Vern would walk away.

Later in the morning, Vern regurgitated several leaves that he must have eaten while spending time outside. After the third time of emptying his stomach, he seemed to be feeling better. Once we cornered Bee and held her back from the bowl, Vern finally finished his breakfast.

As much as I want to be upset with Vern for grazing on leaves, I know that I am guilty of doing the same thing. I may not eat leaves, but I have been known to consume an extra dessert every now and then or have a little too many evening drinks.

What really messes me up is my consumption of the voices that I don’t need to be hearing. Voices from the television that provoke me to feel anger and hatred. Voices from social media that paint pictures of perfect lives that cause me to feel jealousy or envy. Voices, voices, voices.

If only I would stop consuming the voices that cause my soul to get sick and turn my ear to the one voice that brings life. Jesus spoke, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

Vern is now resting comfortably beside Bee. The effects of consuming the leaves are past, and hopefully he will stay away from grazing on plants that are not meant for ingesting. And like him, I will also try to take in what is good and shut out the unwanted voices that cause damage to the soul.


Vern’s Break for Freedom

A break for freedom. All Vern could think about was making it through the gap in the door and out into the world where the possibilities were endless. He didn’t care that he had a huge fenced in back yard to play in. No, that wasn’t enough. He had to have more. More space and places to discover. More smells and underbrush to climb through.

Isn’t it funny to think about how we are all very similar to Vern? Some people have been given lots of space and others very little. But no matter how much we have, we all tend to hunger for more. If it isn’t space, it can be things. Just an additional this or that to add to what we already possess.

This past weekend, I was camping in a state park when I saw an older woman and a young boy come cruising around the corner on a golf cart. She slowed down to tell us how much she liked our camper and we began conversing. She shared that four years ago, she and her husband sold everything they owned and have been living in their camper that has only a little over 250 square feet for all of their belongings.

When I asked her how difficult it was to give up her stuff, she said that it was quite freeing. Instead of obtaining things and space, she had given it all up for a lifestyle of travel and exploring our great country.

Jesus was also a man with no possessions. When he headed out of Nazareth to preach to the world about an eternal kingdom, he had no belongings. And never once did he ask for a material thing. Instead, he spent his time sharing about a kingdom that wasn’t physical but spiritual in nature, where people could find joy and peace that would outlive all of the things of this world. If only we could change our mindset about the things we covet so close to our hearts.

Thankfully, Vern didn’t make it far. He was caught in the neighbor’s yard and brought back inside where he is now sleeping peacefully on the couch. I am sure he will try and escape once again. And when he does, I will remember how similar we are, and forgive the little guy as he returns safely into our arms.