Tag Archives: God

The Power of Love

As Carl made his way down the sidewalk and through the neighborhood, I absentmindedly followed. I was clearly not paying attention as my foot caught the lip of the concrete slab, which instantly caused a stabbing pain to rush through my foot.

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Carl was oblivious to the pain that I was experiencing. He was absorbed by his inner world and what I felt didn’t even come up on his radar. The fact that he didn’t seem to care about my welfare didn’t bother me too much. I know that I can be as insensitive to the needs of others when I get too wrapped up in my own affairs.

As I write this, I am sitting in an airport with a wide assortment of different kinds of people packed all around me. But with the closeness of all the people, I have no idea who they are and what their needs are.

Matthew 22: 36-40 gives us a clear picture of how God wants us to become.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

As we go through this life, we need to discover the love of God that can only come from Him. Once we understand His love for us, we can begin to love ourselves. And lastly, once we have the love living in us that only He can create, then and only then we can love our neighbor.

So often, we don’t love ourselves enough to give to others. If we can understand how much God loves us it can transform us into confident people that can go beyond ourselves to meet the needs of others.

As for Carl, I know he will never comprehend this concept and thus will never be able to love others. It will always be about him and never about the people in his life. But that is okay. He is only a dog.IMG_4071

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.

The Act of Pruning

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Carl was not happy about being on the other side of the fence.  But he needed to be there as my husband cut down the grape vine that we recently discovered last summer. As Carl made himself known to us by his loud whine, we cut off the branches, pulled off the long thin climbers, and chopped the large vine down close to the ground.

Just like the grape vine, many plants need to be cut back in order to reach their full potential. Year after year, we have cut back our fig tree to see it come back with beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. So even though it looks almost impossible to believe that new vines will grow back and produce grapes, we just have to believe that they will.

It is interesting how God created plants to flourish when they are pruned back.  So why shouldn’t we think that He wants to do the same with us?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2

The word pruning means cutting or thinning. So when you think about how God prunes us, you probably aren’t thinking of a pleasant experience but one that will include some form of suffering or pain.

No one likes suffering and the physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial hardship that comes with it. But if we read this scripture again, we know it is for our good and God’s glory.

I personally would like everything to go as I plan but in the times of suffering, I can be encouraged by the fact that God is pruning me so that I will produce more fruit. And as I reflect on my life, I do believe that the hardships have molded me into someone who relies more and more on God.

Carl has also been pruned on several occasions in his life and I do believe that it has helped him to become the sweet little fella that we all love.  Having his tail surgically removed was probably the severest pruning he has lived through. But even though it was extremely painful and he no longer has a tail, Carl has adjusted and become an inspiration to us all.

Goodness in the Pain

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It was clear that Carl’s sister was agitated and was not going to tolerate the attention that Carl was receiving from all of the grownups in the room. Her eyes zeroed in and her body began to shiver. The hair on the nap of her neck was raised and before anyone could stop the quarrel, she charged in on her prey.

Immediately, the adults in the room started screaming and attempted to pull the two bulldogs a part. After a couple of horrifying moments, the dogs were separated.  Carl was immediately surrounded by concerned women with sympathetic words and soft pets to his head.

As I gazed into his deep brown eyes, it was clear that he was loving all of the attention he was receiving. As the women inspected his hurt paw, Carl sat as still as possible and looked down with a forlorn expression indicating that he was definitely hurt and would appreciate all the tender loving care they wanted to provide.

The situation was quite alarming for the women who experienced the two dogs fighting at their feet. As for Carl, it was very disturbing and quite painful. But even in the midst of the pain, there was an ounce of good in it.

How can I say there is good when there is pain present? When I was twelve, I was in a serious motor boat accident that left me scarred for life. I was thrown out of a boat and ended up in the exact path of the propeller. After the blades had made mincemeat of my left arm and side, I was rushed to Duke Hospital where I spent one of the most painful nights of my life.

So how can I say there is good when pain is present? I would never wish what happened to me on anyone but I can tell you that something incredible occurred during the pain. An awareness stemmed from that particular day of pain. An awareness that I had a purpose in my life.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that I hold close to my heart because I truly believe it was not only given to the Israelites but to anyone that may not understand the pain in their lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I would never want to relive that summer day in 1969. But as crazy as it sounds, I am grateful for the experience because I believe that God had a purpose in the pain to awaken me to His presence.

It would be great to hear your story on how God changed your life through pain.

As for Carl, he nursed his womb all night long and was still limping in the morning. I am sure he will be fine in the near future, but in the meantime, he sure seems to be enjoying all the attention he is receiving.

 

Taking a Ride with God

 

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I know that some of you are wondering why in the world Bee is riding in a buggy.  Well first of all, she is my baby (ba-Bee). Second, if you look closely, her snout is pressed close to her face which doesn’t give her the airway that her brother Carl has.

Lately, we have noticed that Bee, my French Bull dog, has difficulty walking the three miles that doesn’t impact Carl in the slightest. So when my husband saw a doggy stroller online for only $25.00, we thought we would give it a try.

I wish I could tell you that the first ride in the stroller went without a hitch, but I can’t. Bee couldn’t understand why she had to ride, even though she was winded.  In the first five minutes, she lunged out of the stroller and thankfully landed a couple of feet in front of the buggy.

Just like Bee, there are times that we can’t understand why our ride through life has changed up. We want to walk like we always have but God wants us to take a ride. I am sure Moses felt this way when he met up with God. For most of his adult life, Moses worked for his father-in-law as a shepherd. He was minding his own business when God turned his world upside down.

I am sure Moses didn’t see life beyond the fields that he lived in as he shepherded his flock. But God had other plans for Moses and his insecure self. Moses tried to tell God that he wasn’t the man for the job but God knew better. Instead of walking his usual walk, God had him on the ride of his life. Exodus 3

Have you ever had a time in your life that you went from walking to taking a ride with God?  Were you eager to ride or did you react like Bee and jump out of the vehicle?

Carl also took a ride at the end of the walk. He also wasn’t crazy about being confined and it was clear he only wanted to get out and strut beside his sister. We aren’t giving up on our purchase. So if you are driving down the road and see us pushing a carriage, please come over to say hello to our ba-Bee.

 

The Power of a Name

Carl has been away for over a week. He has taken up residence with my daughter’s family. I got a text from her stating that her children didn’t want to let him go.  They had fallen in love with our sweet dog and proved it by changing his name to Uncle Carl.

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Prior to this stay, Carl was only tolerated by my daughter’s family. So when I had heard that his name had been changed, it warmed my heart. How often do we enjoy hearing an endearing name come from someone we love?  As a mother, I cherish being called mom or mommy.

When my husband and I were dating, he began calling me Little. When we were married, he had this name engraved inside my wedding ring. To this day, I find it very special when he refers to me as Little.

If given a name by a loved one is special, I can’t help but wonder what Abram and Sarai felt when God intentionally changed their names. In Genesis 17, Abram has an encounter with God. At the age of 99, we could all assume that Abram was waiting for his final exit. But God had other plans for him.

The first thing God did was change his name as well as his wife’s. Abram’s name would be Abraham which means father of the multitudes and Sarai’s name would be Sarah which means princess of nations. Given that this couple had been barren for long after their child bearing age, Sarah laughed when she had heard the news.

I am sure even after God had told them that they would have a child, Sarah and Abraham had to continue to doubt. But what about the name changes? Why would God change their names if He wasn’t going to make them parents? The time between God’s announcement and the pregnancy had to be agonizing. And all they had to believe with were the names that God had given them.

Sometimes when my husband and I are going through rough spots in our marriage, I will think about the name inscribed in my ring and how much he loved me when he called me his Little.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, I believe that the love that is represented in this name will get us through the tough times and allow God to work his miracles.

As for Uncle Carl, he is now home and missed by all the grandchildren. He also sIMG_2845eems a little sad to be among the quiet walls of our home. I am sure that over time, he will bounce back to the playful dog that we all know.

As for my daughter’s family, I truly feel thankful for the love that was extended to our little dog and the name that officially made him family.