Tag Archives: Jesus

Categories of the Mind

Today, Carl was a mess as we walked around the neighborhood. It seemed every time we turned a corner, there was a four legged pooch ready for an interaction with my dog. The problem is that Carl has yet to learn that he is not the king of the hill and all dogs are not going to bow down to him.

So after spotting the fourth dog coming down the slope, I decided that I needed to pull Carl onto an opposite path and get his mind off of the furry animals that seemed to appear from all directions.IMG_4096

The problem is that in Carl’s mind, he has established categories that his experiences fall into. Dogs on leashes always receive the same reaction from my furry friend, no matter how we try and change up the situation.

Before I can judge Carl too harshly, I need to contemplate the categories I have set up in my mind. Earlier experiences reaching all the way back to my childhood have structured my brain into thinking about certain people or situations with either a positive or negative vibe.

Even when I may not know a person or experienced a certain situation before, these categories in my mind take over and create a reaction. This is what happened when Jesus started his ministry and why the religious leaders of the time were so ticked off.

The religious leaders and the majority of the Jews had categorized in their minds what the messiah would look like. And Jesus was clearly not what they were looking for. Even today, we all have an idea of what church should look like as well as what it means to be religious. Often, we miss out on knowing the real Jesus because our spiritual category is set in stone.

As hard as it is, we must look at the categories that we have set in our minds and be open to the real Jesus. Just as we need to change, I hope that Carl will also be able to remove some of his categories about other dogs. It sure will make walking him an easier task. Only time will tell.

 

 

 

He Walks into our Pain

Carl made it home safely and even brought a couple of little friends with him. Given that we were staying in a pet friendly cottage should have been a warning that pets were not the only living creatures that resided in the house on a regular basis. IMG_0096

So once we were home, Carl had to be given a flea bath and the fleas were then taken off using a special comb.  This sounds pretty simple but when you have a dog that has been traumatized by a serious surgery, running this sharp device through his fur can be a difficult process.

Trauma can come in many shapes and appearances. There are major ones that everyone on the outside can understand, like the death of a loved one or a life threatening disease.  There are also the lingering effects of trauma that most people living outside of the event have trouble sympathizing with.

Just like Carl wouldn’t permit me to run the sharp bristles of the comb through his hair, people who have suffered a trauma will continue to experience the lingering effects in the most unlikely places. A smell, sound, or vision can bring the memories back without warning.

It is in these times that Jesus can bring a form of healing that cannot come from any other source.  Just remembering how He interacted with people who hurt can bring about some peace.  Never once did He minimize the pain of a person. From healing the woman who had bled for twelve years to giving forgiveness to the Samaritan woman for her adultery, He walked into their pain.

I will never forget being in the hospital after being in a serious boat accident.  I was in pain and whimpering as I waited for surgery.  A nurse came up to me and told me to be quiet, that my pain could be a lot worse, and pointed to a child that was having a spinal tap. I would never discount that others may be in more pain, but my pain was very real to me and the last thing I needed was to be told to suck it up.

I am so thankful for a Savior that is willing to walk into my pain, no matter when it occurs or how insignificant it can appear to others. Just like the woman who took hold of Jesus’s garment, we need to pursue Him for the healing that only He has to offer.

Thankfully, there were not many fleas and I didn’t have to use the comb many times in order to get rid of the unwanted house guests. Even though Carl continued to be suspicious when I approached him, he has returned to his normal playful self.IMG_0536

The Fake Turtles of Life

Carl’s ears perked up as he looked in the direction of the object that caught his attention. He didn’t waiver his sights from the green turtle that was placed at the door of the house we were approaching.

While Carl’s focus was glued on the green piece of pottery, a brown rabbit with a fluffy white tail hopped only a couple of yards from where the little dog was walking. But because his attention was solely focused on the inanimate object, he totally missed what could have been a prized prey.

Once Carl drew closer to the fake turtle, the real rabbit had hopped away. And instead of being excited about reaching his goal, Carl’s ears began to droop and his body slumped down as he realized the reality of the situation.

Before thinking poorly of Carl, I know I need to look at my own heart and how many fake turtles I have pursued at the expense of letting the real thing hop by me. How often have I set my sights on worldly possessions with the belief that the things will satisfy me?IMG_3565

Mark 10:17-22 clearly addresses how anyone can miss out on being truly satisfied for the things that hold us hostage.

“And as Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Jesus knew that this young man’s sights were glued to the things he owned and didn’t want to give them up for treasure in heaven. It states that Jesus loved him as he spoke truth to him. But because the man loved his possessions, he walked away disheartened.

How often have we heard of a famous person take their life? Not long ago, Oscar award winning actor Robin Williams took his life. The world was shocked to hear that this successful man who appeared to have arrived would commit suicide. Could he have possibly had his sights on the fake turtle?

Carl has moved on. He just raced down the stairs into the backyard to chase a squirrel up a tree. Once the rodent was halfway up, he and his sister began to wrestle for bragging rights. After a successful conquest, he has laid down on the floor and fallen asleep, only to dream about real turtles. IMG_3735

 

 

Are You Just Ordinary?

The fearless squirrel scampered across the yard without a care in the world. As the gray furry animal pranced over to the bird feeder, Carl lay in a stupor on the couch. It was clear that he was in a deep state of sleep. IMG_2345

This is when I had to confront the sleeping dog that loved the opportunity to chase any squirrel that dared to graze in the back yard.  With one eye open and the other closed, he didn’t seem interested in what I had to say.

But when I said the word “squirrel”, Carl jumped up and headed for the door where he spotted the furry figure munching on the bird seed that had been pushed out of the feeder.

It was now clear that Carl had his sights on his prey but by the time he was able to signal the doggy door to open and slip through the small space, the squirrel had climbed the fence and made his way into the brush.

Carl had missed the furry rat with a tail by seconds. And this wasn’t the first time either.  Never in all of Carl’s attempts had he actually caught an animal. He had missed every one of them.

How often do we miss the most important things in life?  We could be sleeping like Carl, or just too preoccupied with less important issues that consume our day. It could also be that we just don’t understand what the important things in life are.

Have you often wondered why Jesus spoke in parables and didn’t speak clearly about the kingdom of God?  Why didn’t the people of his time understand who He really was?  And even today, most people don’t comprehend the magnitude of who this man is.

Jesus explained to his disciples why He spoke in parables. Matthew 13:11 states, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”

These men were not highly educated.  Most of them worked with their hands and struggled to keep food on the table. So why were they able to understand the parables that Jesus spoke but the high priests and the Roman officials could not?

Because God chooses the ordinary, which I am one. An ordinary woman that was the youngest of five in a household where the men were honored and the girls shunned. I lived an ordinary life as a special educator for over three decades that was never recognized for my talents.

Ordinary but through the grace of God, extraordinary. I have been chosen to understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. How about you? Do you struggle with being ordinary? If so, then you are a great candidate for God to use.

As for Carl, he could be perceived as ordinary by some. But in my eyes he is far from an average dog. Even though he can’t catch a squirrel, he has been able to catch the attention of some readers that will hopefully have their eyes opened to the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.

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The Man in the Distance

Carl and Bee are fed at 3:00 and 9:30 pm every day.  Unless I am not at home, they can count on the food being delivered to their dishes without delay. Once the dishes hit the floor, Carl wastes no time devouring it in less than a couple of minutes.

He has never had to fish or hunt for his food. For those who might get grossed out, stop reading. The only kind of hunting Carl has had to do is search for the remains of the poo pooh scattered around the back yard.

There are not many of us that know what it is like to have to hunt or fish for our food. We don’t have a true understanding of the stress that it can cause if we come home without catching a fish or killing an animal for the soul purpose of feeding our family.

The closest I have ever been to understanding the stress that catching fish for a living is by watching The Deadliest Catch. Over the years of watching this show, I have noticed how alarming it is when they pull up a crab cage to find only a couple of small crabs that have to be returned to the ocean.  Almost all of the captains are plagued with major health issues and the crew are always getting hurt.

If this is what happens in today’s world of technology and huge ships, I can’t imagine what it was like for the men who fished in the days when Jesus walked the earth.  In Matthew 4:19 Jesus tells Peter to leave his nets and that He will make him a fisher of men.  So for three years, Peter leaves his nets behind and follows this man in hopes that He will deliver him from a life of fishing.

But after Jesus is crucified and has resurrected from death, Jesus finds Peter fishing again. All night long he and his fellow disciples have cast their nets to bring nothing up out of the water. Exhausted from lack of sleep and wet and cold, I can’t imagine what the men thought when they heard a voice from shore call out, “Children, have you any food?” John 21:5.

When the men cried out “No”, Jesus tells them to cast the nets out to the right side of the boat.” John 21:6

It is hard to imagine what the men thought and felt at this point. They could have felt agitated by the voice if they didn’t know in their hearts who it was. Here was a man that stood at a distance calling them children and telling them to do something that they had tried many times throughout the night.

And even though Jesus stood at a distance, because of the men’s obedience, they caught so much fish that they had to drag them back to shore, all one hundred fifty-three.

How often does Jesus shout to us from a distance?  And when He does, do we obey and receive the miracles that He provides?  Or do we get distracted by voices that are closer to us?

Carl just went outside so I thought I would follow him. Sure enough he went out hunting but because I was so near, he retreated. After a few minutes of knowing that I was in sight, he gave up on his pursuit and headed back in where I gave him a healthy dog treat.

Once the morsel was inhaled, he made his way back outside. This time I decided to just leave him and let him search. This behavior made me think that we can be just like Carl. Looking for poo pooh instead of searching for Jesus in the distance where the real miracles can occur.

 

 

Could Carl Be Possessed?

I used to think that Carl could be demon possessed. I couldn’t trust him and wasn’t sure if we would growl or nip at me. The months that followed his tail removal surgery were difficult for all of us. We didn’t know if Carl would grow out of his distrust for us and we had to even question if we should keep him. InkedIMG_1328_LI

The months have now turned into years and other than a couple of occasions when he has been awakened by a nightmare, Carl has become a gentle little boy. We even commented the other day about how sweet and obedient he has become.

Being demon possessed has been a controversial topic since the beginning of time. Since it is mentioned many times in the Bible, I must believe that it is a real condition that plagued people, particularly before the innovation of modern medicine.

Mary Magdalene was one of these individuals that was stated to be demon possessed. And not just by one demon but by seven! Just the thought of the torment she must have lived through is incomprehensible. Today, she would probably be homeless, distrusted by her family, and living on the streets.

We don’t know the time or day that Jesus healed her but we know from Luke 8:2 that He drew seven demons from her. But it isn’t so much the fact that she was cleansed from the demons that is so amazing but what she did with her life after she was healed.

This woman is mentioned several times throughout the life and death of Jesus. She apparently turned her life around and not only hung out with Jesus but also helped finance his ministry. She was so grateful for what He had done that she devoted the rest of her life sharing the Gospel and how He had changed not only her physical life but also her eternal life.

Luke 7:41-43 states, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.”

Mary Magdalene had been forgiven much.  She knew there was nothing about her that deserved the loving kindness that Jesus extended to her. And in response, she spent the rest of her life sharing what her savior had done for her.

I have a lot to learn from this woman.

As for Carl, he has been reaching up and literally yanking on my shirt with his teeth. I am not sure what he wants but his annoying persistence is making it difficult to write.  Maybe I am wrong about the demon being totally gone.  It just comes out less often. Got to go.  Carl won’t stop pulling at my arm.

 

Carl wants young kids to be healthy, and to get subscribed for Cora’s new book launching on 5/24 – get on the list here

The Power of a Voice

Carl has been screeching for some reason for the last couple of minutes. It may be that he wants my attention or that he wants to be fed.  But for whatever reason, his familiar voice can be clearly heard by everyone in proximity of our home.

Everyone who lives close to us, knows this voice.  Whenever he pitches up, I am sure they say, “That has to be Carl.”

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We all have a distinct voice if you think about it. Each of us have a different sound that comes out when we speak. Some of us can be identified as soon as we open our mouths, while others may not be as easily recognized.

Joe, my deceased father-in-law, has one of those distinct voices that could be clearly identified, even after two years of his departure from this earth.  So when my sister-in-law placed her phone up to my ear and let me hear a message from the past, I knew without a doubt that it was him.

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It was after listening to him ramble about the need for toothpaste and how if he didn’t get it,  he would have to retreat to soap, that I began to laugh at the memories of his final days. I was surprised at the inward feelings that arose from hearing his familiar voice. Emotions spurred by the events that took place between he and I.  Some fond and some downright draining.

I was startled by the uprising of sentiment from hearing his voice. Startled that after so many months that my heart still hurt for this man that was such an important part of my life.

But if I was emotionally stirred when hearing my father-in-law’s voice, I can’t imagine how the disciples must have felt when they heard the voice of Jesus, days after he had died on the cross.

The voice that they had heard on the mountainside as He preached the words to the multitudes.  The voice that they knew when He reached out to the lepers and spoke the words, “ I am willing, be clean.” Matthew 8:3.

His disciples must have also been moved  when He looked deep into their eyes and pulled off a piece of bread from the loaf and stated, “Take, eat, this is my body.” Matthew 26:26.

But as moving as all of these times were,  it must have been when they heard his voice after the resurrection that consumed them with emotion.  A heart throbbing emotion that would take them to their knees and place a motivation in their hearts to follow Him into eternity.

It is this voice that I want to hear one day.  The voice the disciples heard so many years ago. The voice that Paul heard on the road to Damascus. But most important to us, the voice that will say when we see Him in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Carl’s screeching voice has penetrated through my thoughts and has brought me back to the here and now. And as painstaking as it is to hear, I can’t help but smile and thank God for this little dog’s voice along with the  voices of the past, present and future.