As soon as Vern was taken out of the stroller and placed down on the hard concrete, he immediately took the lead. He was not going to let his sister Bee push ahead of him through the neighborhood. No, he was determined to be in charge.
How often do we immediately act? Vern doesn’t even consider thinking about his choices, he just does what his little puppy brain tells him. That can include eating rocks or flipping bugs up in the air until someone gets hurt. No matter what he does, he acts immediately.
I never thought of doing things immediately as a positive attribute. Many times, if we rush into an act without too much thought, we can be considered rash and irresponsible. So why is the word “immediately” used over thirty-five times in the book of Mark?
After Jesus was baptized, it states the Holy Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew and asked them to follow him, they immediately dropped their fishing equipment and went after him. When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, they immediately went to the synagogue where Jesus entered and taught. And the use of this word goes on and on throughout the book.
How often do we over think the things that the Spirit puts on our hearts? How many times have you thought of a good deed that you could do but your created excuses took over? Instead of reacting immediately, it is easy to think the situation right out of our minds.
Vern on the other hand, acts without thinking about any of the consequences or outcomes of his actions. He just does. Even if the end result doesn’t always produce a positive outcome, at least he does it. I can learn from Vern and act when it is clear that the Spirit of God is directing me. How about you?
The sound of the pitter pattering of Vern’s web shaped feet could be heard as he made his way across the back porch. For the first time in five days, the rain had stopped and the sun was making a strong come back. Finally, after being cooped inside with little to do, the puppy appears delighted to be able to explore the outside world.
But instead of spending a lot of extra energy on petty things like eating pine cones or digging up dirt from the wet ground, Vern has found a spot in the warm sun and has sprawled down to take in the balminess of the day.
For many of us, the clouds of life have covered up the Son and all his goodness. We have been so focused on the troubles that have come raining down on us, that we have been unable to see the hope that is ever present.
James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
This might be one of the hardest verses to wrap our minds around, particularly when we are experiencing trials that don’t appear to be ending. Clouds of life have closed in and all we want is to get out of the trials. If we could change our mindset and consider the joy that is all around us, we might be able to see life from an entirely different perspective.
We can begin by training ourselves to think of the blessings that we still have. Instead of negative thoughts, scream out the goodness that is present. You may have forgotten about these hidden treasures that just need to be recognized.
Vern hasn’t experienced a lot of life up to this point, but I can tell that he lives in the moment, whatever it has to offer. Either in rainy days or in sun drenched mornings, his demeanor is bright and sunny. A clear reminder of the goodness that is ever present.
It is amazing how such a small puppy can consume so much food. The first couple of days Vern was with us, he ate very little. After he got acclimated to his new environment, he drastically changed. Vern now eagerly awaits the sound of the food being poured into his bowl. Even when he has finished his portion, he rushes over to Bee, our older Frenchie, in the hopes of a left over morsel.
During this time of being shut in the house, my appetite has also increased. I enjoy watching cooking shows which of course leads to baking more. I have also been pulled into watching more television and exercising less. Every day begins with the desire to do things that are good for my physical and spiritual self. But usually these important activities get pushed to the side for the things that feel comfortable.
If there ever was a time to imitate Jesus, this is it. He demonstrated how to live a fulfilled life in the worst of situations, starting with the event of being tempted in the desert by Satan. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and he was extremely hungry. (I can’t help but think that this is how long we have been in a stay home order from our government.)
Jesus was vulnerable. He was weak and alone. The conditions were perfect for temptation to turn to sin. Satan knew this and pounced on Jesus with all that he had to offer. The first temptation in Luke 4 would have probably broken every one of us. “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)
Satan went after Jesus’ physical need for food. And that is where most of us are today. I know that I have justified how much I have eaten during these days of having nothing else to do.
Jesus didn’t budge so Satan went to plan B. “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)
Notice how Satan offers Jesus the authority and power of the world to Jesus. And if you read on, you will note that Jesus doesn’t dispute the fact that Satan has the authority over this world. But Jesus doesn’t accept the power that could have been easily his. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t willing to sacrifice our salvation for his own desires of power. How do you feel about your loss of power in these days of being told to stay home?
The last temptation Satan threw at Jesus tested his pride. Satan told Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple so that the angels would catch him. This temptation would clearly demonstrate to everyone that Jesus was truly the Son of God. If everyone saw angels saving him, they would bow down and worship him.
How often have we sought out some kind of recognition in these times of being anonymous? Everyone wants a voice in how to solve this pandemic. No matter what television channel you listen to, someone wants the platform. Even in our own homes, we shout out our self-righteous opinions.
We sure can learn from our four legged friends. Vern only eats when food is placed in front of him. He does tussle with his sister with an understanding that she is the alpha dog in the house. Occasionally, Vern will bark out loud, but typically is quiet.
Thank you Lord for the animals you place in our homes and hearts. Help us to follow your Son’s example as we go through these uncharted waters. Give us the faith to look to you to meet our daily needs.
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?
husband and I embraced each other, we couldn’t stop crying and shaking from our
loss. Carl was laid to rest today under the trees in our backyard, next to our
English Bull dog, Sally.
as a normal day in our household, ended tragically for all of us. I would have
never thought that I would be writing these words to all of you who have
followed the life and antics of my little French Bull dog. But I do believe
that I owe it to you to let you know that this sweet little dog who has
provided so many smiles and tears has left this world.
my heart right now. Just thinking about Carl causes my eyes to well up and a
sinking feeling to set in. My tendency is to stay busy and distracted so I won’t
feel. It just hurts too much to think that I will never see him again.
Bee has been
extra attentive towards us in the last couple of hours. She has followed us
around and seems to know that something isn’t right. I am not sure if she is
sad or grateful for being the only dog.
Wednesday, I am releasing my new book Empty
Hands. I have wondered why I gave this book this name. But given the broken
heart that I am feeling and the thoughts of being empty, this title is making
more sense to me as I mourn.
I will send
a link for all of you who would like to purchase a copy in the next couple of
But for right
now, please keep my husband and I in your prayers.
I am not
sure if I will continue this blog. It just doesn’t make sense right now. We
have no plans to replace Carl. As you all know, there is no way to replace this
sweet dog that filled our hearts with such joy and happiness.
ever has his eyes totally closed when I am nearby. He is constantly on alert for any unusual
movement I make. I think Carl wants to
make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything fun or entertaining.
No matter if
he is in his bed, on the couch, or lying down on the screen porch, his eyes are
looking in all directions for any detection of movement. When I need to go
outside without Carl, I usually have to tippy toe past him and open the door
without making a sound.
If I am
caught, Carl will slither through the door beside me, and wander around outside
until he is placed back inside. This can be aggravating when I am in a hurry or
have a task that doesn’t call for the help of a Frenchie with no tail.
the folly of exploring outside the boundaries of the house. He is unaware of
the dangers of the busy street that borders our yard. He typically won’t go out into the street
unless he spots a dog being walked. Then all bets are off.
Carl, we all have a tendency to folly out beyond the boundaries set before us
by God. Proverbs 15:21 states it simply but profoundly.
“Folly is a
joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.”
How often do
we slither outside and wander where we are not intended to travel? This can
take place in our minds or in our actions. No matter, there are times when we
lack sense and need to return to the straight path.
As for Carl,
he will continue to dart outside every chance he can. And you will find me
taking a hold of his collar and dragging him back to the safety of the screened
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.
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.