Tag Archives: Jesus

Entangled in Our Own Power

Vern looked up from his bed, gazed around the room to see who was present, cushioned his head between the bumps in his blanket, and drifted off to sleep. With a sense of peace, the little puppy drifted into a land of slumber filled with other puppies frolicking around him, making him the king of the world.

Being a new arrival to this life, Vern has no understanding of the changes that have taken place in our world. In his mind, life couldn’t be better. With no worries and all his needs met, he is one happy pup.

Vern has no control over who will put his food in his dish or why the water never runs out. He just believes it will happen which leads to the serenity he possesses.

All of us humans could learn from this little puppy. In this time of Covid 19, the economy closing down, and fear ripping through our country, we can easily get entangled in our own power or loss of it.

There have been times in history that have looked just as bleak. One specific period of time, a little over two thousand years ago, the brutality of the Roman Empire consumed the thinking of everyone. Crosses of innocent men lined the borders of the city to intentionally let everyone know who ruled.

Then entered a man with talk of a new kingdom, an eternal one that extended beyond the grave. A man who healed people and forgave the sins of the wicked. He not only promised freedom from the physical world but also the spiritual soul of every man.

Jesus didn’t change the brutality of the Romans nor did he make life easier for the ordinary people that followed him. What he did, was far greater. He gave those who believed hope. Hope in a loving God that didn’t just love from a distance but came down to earth and endured the pain for each one of us.

No one knows what will happen in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. But we do know what happened outside of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus actually rose from the dead and walked among us. All he wants is for us to transfer our focus off of the unknown and place it on him.

Vern is fast asleep. A sense of trust dictating his every move. Knowing that even when he tears up my hostas or pees on the floor, he will still be loved. And if he can trust the imperfect humans that have given him a home, why can’t we trust our Heavenly Father who was willing to sacrifice his only Son for you and me?

Give us Today

Vern and Bee just returned from their morning walk. Vern rode in a puppy stroller surrounded by blankets and a bone for chewing, while Bee led the way. Once we got home, Vern was placed in the backyard so he could do his business. He was a little subdued given that he slept through most of his stroll. But as he got orientated to his surroundings, he began to look around the yard at all the green grass, hostas, and the pink azaleas that serve as a border.

For Vern and Bee, the days have not changed except for the inclusion of our presence on a constant basis. Everything else seems normal for them, making them clueless to the fear and uncertainty that has permutated the world. All they see is a beautiful spring day with green leaves sprouting from trees and freshly mowed grass.

Matthew 6:11 states, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus knew that there would be periods of time full of insecurity and anxiety. Times that could cause us to be consumed with dread if we focused on the future. He knew the importance of keeping our eyes on only today.

Matthew 6:34 states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Vern is lying on his bed fast asleep without a single concern. Since being in our home, he has been fed and given a safe place to sleep. He trusts that we will provide for him. Why shouldn’t he?

In the same manner, we should focus on today and trust that God will abundantly provide for us. I pray that we will take a minute to thank God for specific blessings that he has revealed to us during this time of uncertainty. Blessings that we may never have experienced if life had gone on as it was.

New Beginnings

Vern came home on Saturday.  With all his cuteness, pee and sharp teeth. Bee didn’t know what to think at first. I am sure she wondered what the black ball of fur was doing running in the backyard. To her dismay, it was another male moving into her territory.

After a few minutes of tossing around in the grass, Bee made it clear to Vern that she was the alpha dog and as long as he understood this, everything would be well. Given that Vern thinks Bee is his mother, the two are working things out.

But Bee is not Vern’s mother and she has nothing to offer, no matter how hard he tries to find it. A couple of times when he has sought a nipple, Bee pushed the little puppy off. But this doesn’t seem to cause Vern to get too upset. He seems to be enjoying life and all its adventures.

What a wonderful example to follow at this time when frustrations are high and anxiety of the unknown is prevalent everywhere you turn. We have never experienced an event like we are living through and truthfully no one can give us the answers we so desperately desire.

My only option for peace of mind is to look to the truth, the Word of God. Only here can I find hope. John 1: 1-5 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

These verses speak of Jesus as the Word and the light. No matter how horrendous things seem, it states in verse five that the darkness has not overcome the light. And I believe it! As dark as the world seems right now, the light of Jesus is brighter.

Vern and Bee are working it out. They have been able to get in a pattern where they are enjoying one another’s company. In the same manner, Jay and I have also moved into a rhythm of being confined to home with constant puppy entertainment at our disposal.

Today’s Decision Become Tomorrow’s Life

Bee has no idea what is getting ready to happen. Life as she knows it, will forever change.  She has no way to prepare for the little puppy that will be joining our family unit. Maybe that is for the best.

Often, I wonder how the future will unfold before me. Will the days ahead reflect my past or will they take on an entirely different hue? Will the decisions that are looming in front of me create a detour in my life that I will welcome or regret?

Will the decisions that I need to make today impact tomorrow? How do I know the choices will turn out well? I don’t. But there was a man that can assist me when I am unsure.

Jesus states in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So today, before Vern (our new puppy) comes home, I will focus only on what God has given me in the present, not the future. And my present includes a little Frenchie that is lying in front of the fire dreaming of how great she has it. For now.

Stepping Stones of Regrets

Bee has no regrets. If she does, she hasn’t told me about them. As she lies in front of the fire and sleeps peacefully, there are no signs of guilt. Only peace.

On the other hand, I have stepping stones made up of regrets that reach back into my past. A path that I avoid going down at all costs. But one that draws me to take when I am least expecting it.

I wonder about the rich young ruler who happened to meet Jesus on the road. I have to speculate, when confronted by Jesus, that he regretted his decision, and had wished he had changed his decision for the eternal life he hungered for.

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:17-23)

Wishing we could have changed our actions is common to man. For this man, he wanted the treasures of heaven but he wasn’t willing to let go of the treasures of this earth. Feelings of guilt consumed him.

How often do we retrace our steps to see the regrets of life flash in front of us? We will never know if this wealthy man changed his mind and gave up what he was clinging to for a relationship with Jesus. But for no other reason, this passage gives me hope. Not because the man walked away, but because Jesus gave him an invitation to come back.

Bee has no regrets to erase but I do. Guilt that lingers as long as I walk down my own pathway. But there is hope. And his name is Jesus. Waiting alongside the road offering me to take on my burdens and transforming my regrets to peace.

Competing for Devotion

Months have passed and we are all trying to come to terms with our new normal since Carl left. Of the three of us, little Bee has adjusted quite well. Instead of Carl getting to go on walks with my husband, Bee has slipped into this special position of strolling companion. Each morning, she knows that her walking collar will be placed around her neck and off they will go into the wild of the neighborhood.

It is funny but Bee seems happier and even healthier being an only dog. She no longer has to compete for the devotion that everyone poured out onto her brother. Now when someone enters, Bee briefly greets them and then goes about her business.

Unlike Bee, there was a woman from Canaan that knew she had to fight for Jesus’ devotion to her cause. This woman had a child that was possessed with a demon that tormented her day and night. As the years passed, and the child grew stronger, the mother knew she would soon be unable to care for her beloved daughter.

In Matthew 15:21-28, it is recorded that Jesus left Jewish territory and went to the land that was occupied by pagans. He and his disciples walked over fifty miles into Canaan. If Jesus came primarily for the Jews, why would he walk so far into terrain possessed by the Gentiles?

At first glance, I am sure his disciples asked the same question. Once Jesus entered the area of Tyre and Sidon, nothing worthy of such a walk could be identified. The disciples only noted the obnoxious screams from a woman that called out to Jesus.  Finally, Jesus allowed the woman to be brought to him and she knelt down. “Lord, help me!”

Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:25-28)

There is no other recordings of any other life shaking event that took place on this one hundred mile journey. So why would Jesus walk so far for the sake of a Gentile that he refers to as a dog? For only one reason. Her faith.

Because of the woman’s devotion to her daughter and her unwavering faith, Jesus walked a hundred miles. And if he would give this woman so much of his time and effort, why do you think he won’t give you the same?

Bee is now the center of attention. She no longer has to fight for it. It is just hers. As I watch Bee bask in her life as a single dog, I can’t help but think about how this woman must have spent the rest of her days. Grateful with a large dose of peace.

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.