Tag Archives: prayer

Carl’s Identity

Carl pulled so hard that I thought I was going to fall forward on my face. He wasn’t pleased at all with his situation. Instead of leading the pack, he was steps behind the two dogs and it was clear that he felt doomed.

When he is walked alone, he usually struts himself with a confident air and appears totally carefree. But when walking with the other two dogs, if he isn’t steps ahead of them, his demeanor totally changes.

In the last two days, our country has suffered a great blow. 59 of our American citizens lost their lives when a man with no apparent cause sprayed gunfire down on a country music concert in Las Vegas.

What has hurt the most is the lack of compassion for the families of the individuals that lost their lives. Instead, politicians have used this opportunity to stand on their platforms and once again, we have become more and more divided.

If only our country could stand together and grieve with the victims of this senseless act. But unless we can place our identity in Christ this will never happen. Just as Carl wants to extend his lead over the other two bulldogs, we take our stand with our political or cultural affiliation.

It will only be when we go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and extend ourselves to the individuals that are suffering that we will find healing.

Carl will probably never understand how to get over his need to be first and in front of the pack. I am sure that the next time we go out for a walk, he will pull the leash and try to push ahead with his own agenda. But I have to remember, he is only a dog. Didn’t God create us to be so much more?

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New Normals

Carl woke from an evening snooze and looked over at the sofa. There, sleeping on his section of what had always been his spot, was the male dog that had made his way into his home and into his owners’ hearts. At first, Carl just stared at the slumbering animal. But then for no reason he jumped down off his father’s lap and went over to the edge of the couch and placed his head level with the pooch.

What happened next was shocking. Carl raised his leg and begun to urinate on the side of the couch. Why had our dog acted in such an inappropriate manner? Was he having to adjust to his new normal?

New normals. They come out of nowhere. Many times with no preparations for how to live through them.  A loved one develops Alzheimer’s and family members are faced with decisions that they have never encountered. A spouse dies and the uninvited new normal moves in.

Two thousand years ago, the most impactful new normal was born. The religious community was shaken to their roots by this event. Herod, the political leader of the day was so intimidated by this child that he had all male babies killed. Why would such a powerful man sink to such a wicked state of mind? Could it be that he didn’t want to live with the new normal?

And ever since this child was born, lived, died, and was resurrected, we have had to learn to adjust to the fact that life doesn’t rotate around us. We can try to brush his existence away by staying busy or feeding ourselves off of the world. But in reality, we will all have to face the truth either during this lifetime or the next.

Once my husband saw what Carl was doing, he moved quickly. With a pointing finger and a harsh word, Carl lowered his leg and moved away from the sofa. Overall, the dogs have adapted to their new normal but as we all know, it can get messy at times.

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A Tender Side of Carl

All is calm. Leo left to go to the groomers and both Carl and Bee are resting quietly. Since Leo has been with us, I have noticed a tender side to Carl as he relates to Bee. He has been very protective of his Frenchie sister. Many times, I have caught him sitting very close to her and nipping tenderly at her ear.

This behavior reminds me of how a courting young man holds his girlfriend close to him. It also paints a picture of how God draws near to us in the midst of difficult situations.

Joseph was a man that went from being his father’s favorite with a promising career to a man who was imprisoned for no valid reason. Throughout the book of Genesis, Joseph’s life is portrayed for all of us in the darkest most trying times of our lives.

I am sure he had no idea why he was sold by his brothers to foreigners. And just when he seemed to be getting his life on track, Potiphar’s wife accuses him of rape and he is wrongly imprisoned. To make matters worse, he is forgotten by Pharaoh’s butler and left in the dungeon for two more years.

How often have we felt forgotten by close friends, family, and even God? It would appear by what had happened to Joseph, he could have focused on being forgotten. But he didn’t. Genesis 39:2-3 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

Joseph serves as a model to all of us in the depths of our suffering. He could have easily blamed God and become bitter but he didn’t. Instead Joseph focused on God and all the blessings that he had received even in the direst times of his life. Even the Egyptian, an ungodly man, saw this and contributed Joseph’s success to God.

Joseph didn’t understand why he had to go through such suffering but if we study our Bibles, it is clearly stated. In the same way, we don’t understand why we have to experience the trials that we go through but there will be a day when it will be revealed to us.

Watching Carl interact with his sister has been a great reminder of how God wants to comfort us in our times of need. Even though we can’t see God, if we pay close enough attention, we will be able to see the picture He is painting in our lives.

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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What Might Happen

A friend’s dog is staying with us.  Another French Bull dog. He is a good looking brindle with brown eyes and a face that you have to love. Carl has been tolerating the invasion of another male bully but there are rules that we must all follow. The most important one is that Carl gets the maximum amount of attention, no matter the circumstances.

This is being lived out as I write this. Leo has begun to bark at Carl and a staring contest is going on right behind my chair. Carl doesn’t want Leo to receive the attention that he believes belongs only to him.

A couple of minutes ago, I had Carl in my lap and was stroking his back as Leo slipped beside the chair. What happened next is so typical of my little dog. Carl began to show his dismay by growling under his breath. Here he was, in his favorite spot in the whole world, and he couldn’t enjoy it because of his obsessive thoughts about what might happen.

How often do we get sucked into thinking about all the things that might happen and disregard the pleasantries of the present? We can be enjoying a beautiful fall day without too many worries, and a thought about the future pops into our brain and takes over. Instead of sending the thought on its way, we allow the thought to make its home in our heads.

As I cruised through the Bible to find verses that can help us, I was amazed at how many verses addressed worry or thinking about things we need to stay away from. Proverbs 55:22 states, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

So instead of worrying about situations that we don’t have control over, go to God in prayer. And when we pray, start with thanking Him for the power He possesses to overcome any and all situations that we may be worried about.

It is too bad that Carl doesn’t understand how to pray and move beyond the worries that have consumed him. Instead he converts over to the piercing howl that I have grown to know as his way of drawing more attention his way.

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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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Making Himself at Home

When I got home today, my husband told me that Carl and Bee had gone exploring down the road.  Apparently, the wind had opened the screen door and the dogs took their opportunity to escape.

But what Carl did after he got lose was surprising.  Instead of heading straight to the neighbors he loves so much, he decided to make his way to unchartered territory.

The houses on our street each have close to an acre and are pretty spread apart. Each yard is full of pine trees in the back of the homes with nothing but game land bordering the lots. Happy to be free, Carl and Bee ran past three houses and noticed that the backdoor of the fourth house to be open.

Being the curious dog that he is, Carl looked in and spotted a big sheep dog and the owner of the house and made his way past them, jumped up on the couch, and made himself at home. Bee on the other hand, wouldn’t come in and decided to run back in the direction of home.

The owner of the house thought this was very amusing but knew he needed to find out where Carl had come from. So he left Carl slumbering and walked down to find the owner of this peculiar dog. Once my husband realized that both Bee and Carl were missing, he grabbed a leash and headed down the road.

As I thought about how Carl could have made a bad decision that could have led him into danger, I can’t help but think about all the animals that are being impacted by Hurricane Irma and Harvey. It breaks my heart to think about the animals that will suffer because of these storms.

I couldn’t imagine having to make a choice of leaving for shelter without my two dogs. This provoked me to ask what God thinks about the animals that He puts in our lives. I was truly encouraged when I read Proverbs 12:10.  “A righteous man regards the life of his animal.”

Matthew 6:26 states, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Both of these verses encourage me as we wonder how the animals will survive through these hurricanes. My prayers are definitely with these four legged friends.

As for Carl, when my husband made his way into our neighbor’s house, he couldn’t help but laugh at our little dog and how he had made himself at home.

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