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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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Carl’s New Normal

I haven’t seen Carl in days and can only wonder how he is adjusting to his new family. It is strange not to have my four legged friend looking up at me with his soft brown eyes and scratching my leg so that I will reach down and give him the attention that he desires. I can’t help but think about how he is handling this drastic change in his life.

Drastic changes. Ones that we can’t predict and have no control over. There are many people in Florida and Houston that have had their world transformed with no idea of how to adjust to their new normal.

New normals can either make people bitter or better. What determines this can be found within the person and not necessarily the circumstances that surround them. A great example of this can be found in Numbers 13. Moses had assigned one man from each of the Israelite tribes to go and explore the Promised Land and come back and give a report.

We should remember that these people had been abused and used by the Egyptians for years. Then God trained up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to bring them into a land that He had promised them through Abraham.

It would seem that these people should have trusted God after He had miraculously brought them through the Red Sea and then devoured the Egyptians. But as we all know, we can have a very short memory when we are placed in perilous situations.

So when the men came back, Only two out of twelve men had the faith to believe that God would provide them a way into the land that they had been promised.

Numbers 13: 30-31 states,” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”

How often do we doubt that God can get us through the times of uncertainty?

More time than we think… Just as the men couldn’t believe that God actually had a place that was better for them, we also doubt how God can get us through times of trials.

As for Carl, he has been staying with some friends that have been living in our home while we have been away on vacation. I have heard that he has been behaving himself for the most part. I guess he has been able to adapt to his new normal better than we expected.

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From Old to New

First of all, I want to let everyone know that Carl is doing well. He has stopped coughing and has resumed his normal activity. But whatever Carl had, Bee now has. She has been displaying symptoms for the last couple of days. The only encouragement is that since Carl is now better, I am hoping that she will also get over this sickness.

For two days, Carl, Bee and I were imprisoned in my bedroom while a team of four painters scurried through my house and painted all the walls. Once they were finally finished and we were able to leave the confines of the bedroom, I felt I was going into a new house. With each wall painted and no pictures displayed, it felt like we were at a fresh starting point.

Since I haven’t moved in over thirty four years, it felt good to think I had a new pallet to work with. I could display pictures in an original format and rearrange furniture. It will be the same house but new in many respects.

Jesus shared an interesting parable in Luke 5:37-38 that took some study to understand. He stated, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will spill, and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.”

I am sure the Pharisees were just as perplexed as we are today when hearing this parable. The Pharisees were stuck in their traditions and didn’t want to change how they had worshipped God for centuries. Jesus had challenged their convictions and they not only didn’t like it but wanted him killed. The new wine, Jesus, could not be placed in the old wine skins, the Pharisees’ desire to maintain the power that comes from being religious leaders.

For us today, when we encounter the real Jesus, it will cause us to want to change. He will cause us to have a desire to be different than what we have been. And hopefully, the new wine of Jesus can go into our transformed vessels. As for my house, I am in the process of changing things up. Placing pictures that have meaning in the forefront and packing up pictures that have no significance.

Carl has been perplexed by all the changes but as long as he gets his food and has his usual throne to sleep on, he will be fine.

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