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Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

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.

 

 

Kicked to the Curb

He literally got kicked to the curb. My husband and I were headed on a cruise and we had worked it out with a young couple that they would take Carl for the week. Our flight was very early Sunday morning, so we dropped him off on Saturday afternoon thinking all was good.

The house was perfect for Carl. It had a huge back yard where he could frolic around and two other dogs for him to play with. The couple even sent us a picture of Carl hunting for food under a piece of furniture with a caption stating that he was doing well.

So when I got the long text Sunday morning after arriving in Miami, that the arrangement was not going to work, we were in shock and disbelief. Apparently, Carl had spent all night doing what he does best. Howling.  And when I say the word howling, I mean it in the most literal term possible.

The text read that they had tried almost every room in the house to pacify the little dog but nothing worked. They even allowed Carl to take up residence in their own bed but he would have nothing to do with it. His howl persisted throughout the night until the early morning.

And it was in the early break of day that the text was clearly written that Carl could not stay. Once we read the text, we began to brainstorm what we were going to do before getting on the ship and sailing out of cell phone range.

Our first thought was calling Leo’s parents to see if they could return the favor of keeping Carl since we kept Leo for over six weeks. But when my husband called Leo’s human father, he was met with a situation that wouldn’t work. His mother had been taken to the hospital and he was needed to assist in her care.

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So concerned

Our next thought was sending our little dog to our next door neighbors. But Carl had already burned that bridge after scratching their young child.  To make the situation even more challenging, they recently brought home a cat that our little dog felt the strong impulse to pursue throughout their house. Even though our neighbors love Carl, they had made it clear that he was just not welcome.

We were running out of options and time. Our bus was going to pull up in minutes and we would soon be taken one step further from resolving our situation. The couple had already packed up all of Carl’s belongings and driven him back to our house where he was greeted by the sound of silence.

Out of desperation, we made the call that we didn’t want to make. We knew it would be a major interruption in their lives but we just didn’t have a choice.

Our daughter and her family live over two hours away. They have four small children and a cat to boot but we had no option but to try. So we were pleasantly surprised when my son in law, who has made it clear in the past that Carl is not his favorite canine, agreed to make the inconvenient drive to pick up our abandoned pooch.

As clear as it is that my son in law doesn’t care for Carl, the opposite can be stated about my granddaughter. Ellie loves to pamper our little dog whenever she has the chance.  If she could have her way, Carl would be welcome at their house on a permanent basis. So she was absolutely elated to make the long drive to retrieve her little canine friend.

Thankfully, once we were on the ship we received the picture that calmed our fears and let us know that our little dog was going to be okay. There perched in his own seat, among the four little children, Carl was making the ride down interstate 40 to his temporary home.

Throughout the first night on the ship we couldn’t help but wonder how our little guy was doing. So the next morning after paying the extra money needed to make an international call, we telephoned our son in law to check on how the night had gone. Fearing that Carl may have repeated the howling episode we were elated to hear that all went well.

For Carl and Ellie it went better than just well. Ellie was allowed to let Carl sleep with her in her bed. A blanket had been placed on the end of the bed for the little dog. But when my son in law checked on the twosome, Carl was found in a deep sleep with his head on the pillow and his body tucked securely under the covers. And as for Ellie, a big grin was plastered across her face as her arm rested across Carl’s belly.

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Bon Voyage!

 

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

Slipping into Loneliness

Carl slipped underneath the ottoman and acted like neither Bee nor Leo could see him. He laid very still with only the tip of his nose exposed. Bee sat next to the ottoman and Leo stood in front of it and began to bark at the piece of furniture.

After a couple of moments, Carl soared from his hiding place and charged at the door where I stood waiting for the three amigos to dart by me. I am not sure what Carl wanted to accomplish by hiding himself. But I knew for sure that he wasn’t going to stay concealed and alone if I left the room.

Carl doesn’t like being alone. He will follow me around the house and beg for a good stroking or scratch on the head. In the past three years, I still haven’t figured a way of escaping the house without having to throw treats at him so I can slip through the door.

Being alone can be awkward at times. I personally don’t feel totally comfortable walking into a restaurant by myself and having a meal. I can also count the number of times I have gone to the movies by myself with one hand.

I have been blessed to have a husband that comes home every night and enjoys my company. Since I have been married for over 38 years and being a twin, I have rarely had to go places on my own. This is why I have found the Bible to be so comforting when I feel a pinch of loneliness sneak into my thoughts.

In Psalm 94:14 it states, “For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.”

In other words, the Lord is with me, no matter where I go.

It is too bad that Carl can’t understand that he is not alone. Even if I am not around, he is always surrounded by other dogs. But for him, it just isn’t enough. He needs human contact like we need spiritual contact. I have to admit that I am grateful for Carl’s need for me.  As a pet owner, we all know how great it feels to experience unconditional love by our dog or cat. And being Carl’s guardian is no exception.

If you want to see a short video of them go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yasTTPafl-o

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Shaking Off the Anger

Bee was the first French Bull dog that we owned. She was a perfect little dog and loved her life with my husband and I. As a puppy, she got all of our attention which meant snoozing in my husband’s lap in the evening and sleeping at the end of our bed each night.

She loved the long walks we would take and other than pulling too hard on her leash, she was obedient and practically ignored all the other dogs on the trail. Her life basically revolved around sleeping when we were away and playing with her bones.

And then in December of 2014, her life changed drastically. It has been difficult to know how she has felt about her brother. With his demanding personality, Bee has had to fight for the attention that just came naturally her way.

I am proud of our little girl and how well she has handled the changes that have taken place in her short lifetime. She could have become very bitter and turned her feelings into angry rage. But not our little Bee.

Recently with the addition of a third dog, Bee has demonstrated that she doesn’t get her happiness from what is happening around her. Instead, it has been made clear that she has been blessed with a positive disposition and is able to go with the flow.

For some of us, going with the flow comes easily but for others it can be much more difficult to let the unwanted obstacles in life pass by without getting upset. Every time an unplanned circumstance that disrupts our life comes our way, we are faced with a decision. Do we get aggravated and wear our irritation on our sleeve or do we hand over our feelings to God?

Ephesians 4:26-27 is packed with some great advice about anger. It states, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”

God knows we will become angry at times but it doesn’t give us an excuse to sin. He also knows that we need to let our anger go and not stay mad even for a day. There is nothing that Satan wants more than for us to stay angry and ultimately sin because of it.

One of the attributes that I love about dogs is their ability to let anger go. One minute Bee, Carl, and Leo can have their hair raised up and ready to fight and the next, they shake off their anger and walk away. The next time I become angry, I hope to remember how Bee has been able to move past her own feelings of being an only dog and give myself a good shake and move on.

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