Tag Archives: Jesus

Contemplating the Benefits of Discomfort

Bee came 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 fireplace.

She couldn’t 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.

How quickly 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 morning.

And in 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?

Jesus gives us something to think about when making these decisions.

Matthew 25:31-40 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 his left.

 “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.’

“Then the 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?’

“The King 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.’

Bee hasn’t 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.

Hidden Gifts

It’s time to move on. Carl still lies in the backyard under a mum and a spread of ivy that is covering up where there used to be churned up dirt. Time to look in a different direction. A time for leaving the path that I have been so accustomed to and finally putting it to rest.

Bee’s ears perked up by the mention of a walk. Her body came to life at this simple word. Instead of being told to stay, the temperatures have become perfect for our little Frenchie with her smashed in nose to take to the streets. A time to wiggle her little tail and pull her master around the block.

Now that Bee has taken center stage, her personality has begun to shine. It has always been there but my attention was pulled in another direction. How often do we get distracted by certain things in life that keep us from seeing the gifts that are right in front of us?

So many of the religious leaders that interacted with Jesus missed the gift that God had given to them. For thousands of years, the Jews had been waiting for the Messiah. They had studied the law and knew the scriptures but when Jesus finally arrived, the religious leaders missed the gift.

The love of power and the deep seeded pride of being right had kept them blinded from seeing exactly what they had prayed and yearned for.  Before I can judge these men, I need to reflect on my own life and see what keeps me from seeing the gifts, particularly the gift of Jesus.

I know that the distractions of this world with all of its glamour and pleasantries has kept me from seeing who Jesus is. If I could just move these distractions out of the way, I probably will be surprised at how much clearer I can see who Jesus is.

I have realized from having to go down this altered path in life that there are gifts for us to take hold of. And for me, Bee just happens to be one of them.

Carl- On the Other Side

If Carl could see my husband and I as we have mourned for him in the last couple of days, he probably wouldn’t understand the tears or sad looks. He wouldn’t comprehend how the thought of him in all of his usual places causes us to catch our breath as we try to shake off the unwelcome feelings.

The pain of loss is a difficult emotion to move through. I keep telling myself that is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. But it still doesn’t make the feelings go away or change the realization that we will never see our beloved Carl again.

I have received several encouraging notes about a Rainbow Bridge where animals go until they greet their owners on the other side. A place where animals have all their needs met and no longer suffer.

I love the thought of Carl running around an open field making new four legged friends. No leashes or restraints, just the freedom of running free. I can also envision him as he turns his head upward and howls for everyone to know that he has arrived.

But what gives me the most hope about this situation can be found in John 11:32-33. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

What gives me the most encouragement is the fact that Jesus entered Mary’s pain. He didn’t minimize it or down play it, but he allowed it to consume him. He cried with her and I know he is crying with me now. He doesn’t think being upset at the loss of a dog is silly or trite. Instead, he is beside me as I suffer.

It brings me an extreme amount of comfort just knowing the author of life has entered into our pain. And with this knowledge, I believe that He will provide for our furry friend in death as he takes care of us in life.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me as I have written about all the craziness that came with living with Carl. I am not sure if I will continue to blog, but I am sure God will provide an avenue if it is meant to be. In the meantime, if you would like to purchase my book, Empty Hands, it is now available today on Amazon as an eBook for only $.99.

Thank you,

Cora

Unpleasant Repercussions

Carl was in a fight and lost. It wasn’t with another dog or even a cat. It wasn’t with a squirrel or even a bird. But a frog! Carl thought he would take a good bite out of the brown bumpy reptile but was immediately horrified by what he experienced next.

Apparently, frogs have a toxin on their skin that keeps them safe from all the Carls out there. And it was definitely effective. Immediately, Carl released the frog. He began to foam at the mouth and his eyes began to water. Our little Frenchie was clearly unhappy with his decision.

How often do we make quick decisions that are not thought through and have unpleasant repercussions? How many times do we wish we could go back and redo what has been done? All of us can think of regrettable moments that we wish we could erase from our memory. If only we had a huge eraser that could take away all our regrets.

And that is exactly what happened when Jesus chose to die for us on the cross. During the hours that He hung there dying, he took each regret and gave it over to God to forgive. Jesus did this so we could move forward in our lives with humility and gratitude.

It was clear that Carl wished he hadn’t bothered the frog this morning. His eye drained all day and he slept more than he usually does. But thankfully, dogs don’t dwell on their bad decisions like humans. My guess is that tomorrow Carl will wake up ready to go out into the world and take on whatever comes into his path.

Intentions, A Personal Encounter with Jesus

Carl is very intentional in what he does. He knows what he wants and doesn’t waiver from doing everything he can to get it. Take for instance his desire for treats. Carl will sit, lie down, or stay in order to get a piece of food. If he wants attention, he will take his paw and claw at your arm until you pet him.

But as intentional as Carl is for food, Jesus was more so for the purpose set before him by his heavenly father. A great example of this comes in the fourth chapter of John when he travels through Samaria.  Most Jews never would go through this region because they knew the people hated them. But Jesus intentionally walked to Sychar and sat down at a specific well and waited.

Have you ever been in a time of life where you felt hopeless and that God was nowhere to be found? This is what Photina felt as she went to get her daily supply of water. Stuck in a cycle of searching for fulfillment through men, this woman had no understanding of how to get unstuck. Deep down in her soul there was a yearning for something more than the men that she slept with. But she was drowning with no way to save herself from the life that she had created.

Little did she know that a man was waiting for her at the well that would change her life forever. A man that had intentionally walked through a forbidden land until he was tired and hot just to have a personal encounter with her.

I have a hard time understanding the compassion that Jesus had as he waited. Compassion for a woman that others had rejected and saw nothing good in. But not Jesus. He saw something in this woman that would cause him to deliberately walk out of his way and wait.

And if Jesus would intentionally go many miles out of his way for this woman, why shouldn’t I believe that he will go out of his way for me?

Photina was never the same again after her encounter with Jesus. Her two sons and five sisters were known for their outspoken confession of Jesus as Lord. And as ironic as it is, Photina was ultimately thrown into a well by Emperor Nero’s orders where she died for her faith.

Carl just scratched my leg so that I would pet his coat and give him the attention he believes he deserves. His intentional actions are a good reminder to stop and think about how Jesus deliberately searched for Photina and is now searching for me.

(If you enjoy reading this blog, you will enjoy my new book, Empty Hands.  It will be on Amazon on September 6th.)

A Walk For Faith

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.

So they 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.

After four 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.

Not seeing 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.

The 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.

Finally, the 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 suffering terribly.”

Then Jesus 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.”

The woman responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.”

Then Jesus 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?

There is 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.

In the 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.

I don’t 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.

Carl’s Perception of Truth

Carl has been gone for almost two weeks.  His life hasn’t interceded with ours except through pictures and Facetime. And even though we see him on the screen, he isn’t a part of our present.

My husband and I have been on a cruise to Alaska while Carl has been rotating between staying with our daughter and a pet resort. So it is easy to say that our reality on the cruise ship is very different from our four legged friend.

We have been experiencing average temperatures in the 70s while Carl has been enduring scorching 90 degree temps. Our reality has been sailing across the ocean at about 23 miles an hour looking out over beautiful snowcapped mountains while Carl has been confined to the backyard with four little people to get along with.

In other words, our perception of life has been altered by our circumstances. Neither Carl or my husband and I are living the truth of the life that we are typically bound by. 

So how do we know what truth is when our circumstances have been changed so drastically?  There is only one way.  Only one person who spoke truth regardless of the circumstances. John 14:6 states, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

Jesus is truth and the barometer in which to compare ourselves by, no matter our present circumstances.  So no matter where we are on this planet, if we know Jesus through His words, we will have the life He planned for us.

Carl may think that this life he is presently living will be his reality for the remainder of his days. He doesn’t know when he will return or if he will. On the other hand, as I write this, I know that tomorrow I will port in Seattle and I will fly across the country to my home in North Carolina where life will return to the reality that I am accustomed to. No matter where Carl and I find ourselves, I know that truth isn’t found in my circumstances or even the place where I reside.