Bee would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! As you can see, she has made herself nice and comfortable in front of the fire and is content just being healthy and loved.
Hoping everyone out there can join her mindset and have a blessed day, no matter your situation. If we can just take a minute and remember the day we are celebrating. There was nothing about this couple’s situation that would have given them joy. They were in a foreign city with no place but a dirty space to bring their child into the world.
But with nothing but the promise of God and the love between them, a baby was born. Even when the shepherds showed up to honor the baby, their situation didn’t change. But even so, they found joy in their situation.
I pray that we will take our eyes off of the disappointments that may come today and place it on the true meaning of this day. Jesus came into the world in poverty for a reason. To demonstrate that it doesn’t take things to make us happy. Mary and Joseph only had each other and were happy. Praying that you can turn to the ones that God has given you and feel the love that is meant for this day.
Bee has been
gone for nearly three weeks. She has been with my daughter and her family. One
member of my daughter’s family is her dog Maddie who can be seen in this
picture doing what she does well, jumping. Bee, on the other hand, is waiting
for the door to open so she can come in and have her dinner.
other day, after we had gotten off a cruise ship, my husband and I were taken by
bus to the airport where we were corralled into a check in line. As we all
waited patiently, people were coming off buses and stepping in front of us,
disregarding the lines of people off to the left.
I could feel
my anger building up and the need to call out to the service attendants about
the unfairness of the situation. My husband told me to calm down which only
caused me to become angrier. Why had I become so annoyed in only a matter of
minutes? What was it about my own nature that precipitated these emotions?
Israelites said to them, “’If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have
brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’”
We all have
a tendency to judge the Israelites for their negative attitude as they were
shuffled out of Egypt and led through the wilderness. But if I can’t keep a
positive attitude for thirty minutes in an airport line, why would I think that
I could stay cool wondering in the desert without food or water?
And if I
struggled over such a minor issue, how can I get through the major calamities of
life? There is only one way that I know of. Remembering who God is. If we can
only take the focus off of our present circumstances and place it on who God
is, our feelings will follow.
got inside and has eaten not only that meal but many others while being with my
daughter’s family. She has added an inch or two around her waist and doesn’t
seem to be missing me. But none the less, I am looking forward to having her
home and our family all together again.
running inside her doggy door and immediately shook off the cold weather that
had swaddled her body while she was out doing her business. Once inside, she
headed directly towards her warm cozy bed that is lodged in front of the
get there fast enough. Instantly, she laid her pudgy body down and sprawled out
so every inch of her physique could feel the warmth of the gas flamed fire.
Nothing or no one was going to get in her way.
do we place our sights on the comforts of this world and nothing or no one
better get in our way? I have to admit that I love having air conditioning in
the summer and heat in the winter. I also jump at the idea of planning a trip,
particularly if it involves having my meals prepared and my bed made each
moderation, there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle. But what if we decided
to get uncomfortable every once in a while? What if we do a couple of things a
week that we really don’t want to do but know that if we do, we could actually meet
the needs of someone else?
us something to think about when making these decisions.
states, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before
him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates
the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on
“Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom
prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave
me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick
and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or
thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and
invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or
in prison and go to visit you?’
will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
moved since finding her sweet spot in front of the fire. As for me, I am
considering my options and writing down my to do list.
looks a lot different from when we walked Carl. Carl always led and under no
circumstances did he need assistance. He could walk over five miles and hardly
break a sweat. Bee on the other hand,
can only walk a couple hundred yards in the heat before needing to stop and
catch her breath.
So today, my
husband decided to pull out the doggy stroller so Bee could complete a walk
around the neighborhood with us. And sure enough after only a few minutes, we
had to place her in the stroller, and tie her down so she could enjoy our
world with everything calling for our attention, we might need to be tied down
so we can enjoy each other’s company. So often we are distracted by good things
but miss out on the best things that God has provided.
One of the
most valuable treasures that God has given to us are our relationships with
people who have common spiritual values. People who are willing to encourage us
in our weakest moments without judgment or condemnation. People who feel
comfortable giving us advice when we are fighting our own personal battles.
20:21 states, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will
be counted among the wise.”
24:25-26 states, “The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge
muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won
through many advisers.”
When we have
a common purpose and are willing to listen to the advice of people we can
trust, we will be victorious in the end.
Dogs are not able to give advice but they are able to extend an undeniable sense of love and compassion for their two legged friends. And since Carl has passed, Bee has been there to show us lots of love, even if it is from the inside of a doggy stroller.
I am now in
unfamiliar waters. Far from the normalcy that I have become accustomed to.
Since Carl has left us, life has taken me in a direction that I didn’t choose
in life, we get diverted and have to figure out how we are going to handle the
situation that has been placed in our lives. There is no one that knew this
better than the Apostle Paul. Since his conversion, life changed drastically
all control of his circumstances. After being imprisoned for his faith, taken
on a ship in rough waters, and then shipwrecked on an island called Malta, this
man only had his faith in God to rely on. While on the island, he accidently
picked up a poisonous snake that bit him. Everyone thought he would die but
instead, he lived without any effects of the snake.
Malta was a
place that Paul did not plan on going to. He probably wondered how God would
use him on such a small remote island in the middle of nowhere. But He did. Just
like Paul, I am in a place that I was not expecting to be in without my little
writing buddy by my side.
given me Bee, my other French bull dog to help fill the gap. She has been a
little lost since Carl has left us, but enjoying all the extra attention a one
dog family affords. She has been quick to get in my husband’s lap and come by
my side for extra petting. Just this morning, she truly enjoyed a walk around
the block without having to fight her way to the front.
Just like Bee,
I need to be willing to look forward and not towards the past. And if I do,
hopefully, I will understand how to find God’s presence in the midst of
out of the house while the door shut in Bee’s face as we left on our three mile
walk. No longer does Bee take the walks around the neighborhood. Instead, she
is left alone while Carl gets to strut himself out in public.
standpoint, life is not fair. Questions of why float around in her mind as she
lays on the porch waiting for everyone to return. Bitterness and resentment
would be natural tendencies if she was a human.
How often in
life do we become swallowed up with anger when we observe the success of
others? We work so hard but the fruit we expect never comes. Joseph must have
felt anger when he was stuck in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He probably
spent many nights asking God for answers when the jail doors slammed in front
of him while others walked out and forgot him.
and then one day, he was called by Pharaoh to interpret a dream. A dream that
Pharaoh had struggled with and demanded someone to interpret. Once Joseph stood
in front of Pharaoh, he clearly told him that interpretations are from God.
dream was interpreted, Pharaoh knew that Joseph was the only one that could
lead the nation out of the famine that would occur.
years that he had been in jail were for a reason. God had been preparing Joseph
for this role by allowing him to suffer and live through difficult times. And just
as God instigated the trials for Joseph, He can be doing the same thing for all
Bee is not
being intentionally left behind because we don’t want her to come. Her airway
was not created like Carl’s. His snout is a little longer which allows him to
endure long walks in warm seasons. A couple of months ago, we thought Bee might
not live after a long walk down the trail. We love her too much to take chances
with her life. In the same manner, God who is all knowing, may allow suffering
because He has a special purpose designed just for us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the
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?
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.
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.
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.
been challenged that much in life. Every day, he has a similar routine that
begins with a walk, lunch, sleeping in the sun, dinner, and then finding a good
spot to spend the night. Every once in a while, his routine is broken up but
nothing to get his panties tied in a knot about.
Most of us
would initially say that we would love to have a life like Carl’s. Just
drifting from one fun thing to the next without giving much thought to anything
but our pleasure and basic needs. Initially, everyone says, “Sign me up!”
went to my second go cart race with my nine year old grandson. He has driven
five races and initially he did extremely well. Since he just started, he began
in a division that didn’t require much skill. He easily came in first or second
place without much effort.
But as most
of you who have played a sport or been involved in developing a skill, there
are different levels that change up the effort and perseverance needed in order
to be successful. So my grandson was now racing among boys his age that had
raced fifty races to his five. They had cars that had been fine tuned to the
race conditions and lots of people supporting them.
My son in
law and his good friend are both mechanics and raced when they were young and
are now getting back into the sport after being away for decades. So as you can
guess, winning wasn’t in the picture. But on the other hand, an unforeseen gift
grandson, and his best friend started the first race with high hopes. Everett
had made a mistake in qualifying and ended up at the end of the pack. He was
extremely upset but pushed through the emotions and went out determined to do
conditions were challenging to say the least. It was over 95 degrees and the
course was hard and slick which made it difficult to stay on the track when
making turns. After about the fifth lap, my attention was deferred from my
grandson to his friend. A car started spinning right in front of him and he had
no choice but to run right into him. From afar, it didn’t look good. And when
the ambulance pulled on the track, my heart started racing. All I could do was start praying.
other grandson and Everett’s friend’s brother running toward me, I pulled them
close to me and comforted them. And then something happened that touched my
heart more than any victory could ever. Eli, my five year old grandson took his
friend’s hand and said, “Let us pray for your brother.” And then he closed his
eyes and asked God to take care of his friend.
forever before finally, Everett’s friend was able to walk off the track on his
own. He was shaken up and had to be closely monitored for the rest of the time
we were there. The paramedic came over to our trailer and double checked on him,
but he was ultimately okay.
raced his last race without his friend. He got out there and did the best job
he could, spinning out several times, but just like the ready ever battery
bunny, Everett pulled back into the race and finished last.
But to me, Everett
and Eli finished first. First in character and integrity. First in reaching out
to God, when so many children would have become angry and self-absorbed. First
where it truly matters in life. In my mind, this is what Jesus meant in Matthew
20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
As for Carl,
I believe he has a great dog life. But as for me, I want to be more like my grandson,
who was willing to be put in a situation that challenged more than just his driving
skills, but also his character.
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.
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.
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.
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