Tag Archives: relationships

Not the Dog I Wanted

I have to confess that Carl was not the dog I wanted. I wanted the brown female dog that had died when her mother rolled on top of her. But knowing it could take a long time before a brown female was born, my husband and I settled on the fawn colored male.img_4753

Earlier in my life I had owned a male dog and found him harder to train and just didn’t bond with him. So when we brought Carl home, I knew that I had to have an open mind and a willingness to cultivate the relationship.

Before working with Carl, I had to cultivate positive thoughts about this little puppy. So instead of focusing on Carl’s obnoxious behaviors of constantly nipping everyone who walked in the door, howling in the middle of the night and marking his territory, I shifted my thoughts to how much joy he was bringing to my family and friends.

I had to be intentional with this cultivation.  My thoughts towards this little Frenchie had to be positive and encouraging. When a negative thought came fleeting through my mind, I had to transform it into a hopeful outcome.

After four years with this little dog, I have realized that nothing worth having in life will come easily.  The most precious things will take time and effort.  Each meaningful relationship, career, and hobby has taken a lot of cultivation to witness a bountiful harvest.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4 states it beautifully:

To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

A time to break down and a time to build up;

A time to weep and a time laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance.

As we cultivate our lives, we need to be attentive to the specific timing that God has created for our unique lives. If we try and rush the outcomes, we will lose out on the harvest that God is creating for us.

So as I write these words and think about my little dog, I know that there will always be more cultivating to do. And that is fine with me.img_4765

 

 

 

Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

Transferring the Heart from One to Another- A Good Hug

 

Carl doesn’t hug. He will jump up on my lap and rub against my leg but he doesn’t hug. I never thought about how dogs or any other animal lacks the ability to embrace until the other day.   I must admit I am typically a tentative hugger. Joe and Ellie 7-3

I grew up without many hugs from family members and up until just recently wouldn’t initiate a hug. I had a good friend that challenged me to change how I hugged.  Instead of a weak squeeze with a little pat on the back, she encouraged me to use a strong grasp that let the person know that I cared.

Why did God create us to embrace others? What emotion or unfulfilled need is met with a strong hold by two people? I never gave this much thought until the other day. I had gone to visit a family that lost their young son from an aggressive cancer.

Once I entered the house, the grieving mother approached me with an intense hug. This hug was different.  It was like a need was being met by transferring the heart of one to another. The embrace lasted longer than most and once we separated, I couldn’t help but feel that God had actually created us to hug.

As I thought about hugging, I decided to research in the Bible to see if there was any mention of Jesus hugging others. And to my astonishment, there is not one verse that states that He hugged anyone. One friend stated that He probably didn’t embrace others due to the amount of power that he held.

In Mark 5: 25-34, there is an account of a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She has been to doctors but her condition has only gotten worse. When she heard about Jesus and how He had been healing others, she made her way through the crowd and reached down and touched the hem of his garment.

“Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

There could be many other reasons why hugging by our savior is not mentioned.  It may not have been the custom or the authors didn’t find a purpose in writing about it. Anyway, I do believe that God did create us to hug each other.

As for Carl, getting him to put his paws in my lap is probably as close as I will get to a real hug. But that is okay.  IMG_4149God has given me enough people to hug and Carl seems to be content with a good pat on the head.

The Power of a Name

Carl has been away for over a week. He has taken up residence with my daughter’s family. I got a text from her stating that her children didn’t want to let him go.  They had fallen in love with our sweet dog and proved it by changing his name to Uncle Carl.

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Prior to this stay, Carl was only tolerated by my daughter’s family. So when I had heard that his name had been changed, it warmed my heart. How often do we enjoy hearing an endearing name come from someone we love?  As a mother, I cherish being called mom or mommy.

When my husband and I were dating, he began calling me Little. When we were married, he had this name engraved inside my wedding ring. To this day, I find it very special when he refers to me as Little.

If given a name by a loved one is special, I can’t help but wonder what Abram and Sarai felt when God intentionally changed their names. In Genesis 17, Abram has an encounter with God. At the age of 99, we could all assume that Abram was waiting for his final exit. But God had other plans for him.

The first thing God did was change his name as well as his wife’s. Abram’s name would be Abraham which means father of the multitudes and Sarai’s name would be Sarah which means princess of nations. Given that this couple had been barren for long after their child bearing age, Sarah laughed when she had heard the news.

I am sure even after God had told them that they would have a child, Sarah and Abraham had to continue to doubt. But what about the name changes? Why would God change their names if He wasn’t going to make them parents? The time between God’s announcement and the pregnancy had to be agonizing. And all they had to believe with were the names that God had given them.

Sometimes when my husband and I are going through rough spots in our marriage, I will think about the name inscribed in my ring and how much he loved me when he called me his Little.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, I believe that the love that is represented in this name will get us through the tough times and allow God to work his miracles.

As for Uncle Carl, he is now home and missed by all the grandchildren. He also sIMG_2845eems a little sad to be among the quiet walls of our home. I am sure that over time, he will bounce back to the playful dog that we all know.

As for my daughter’s family, I truly feel thankful for the love that was extended to our little dog and the name that officially made him family.

 

 

Left in the Manger

Carl doesn’t understand Christmas with all the comings and goings. Our schedule has changed with all the parties and people dropping off gifts. All the changes seems to have caused our pooch to become edgy and he appears to only want life to get back into a normal routine.

I enjoy spending time with friends, baking cookies, and getting into the shopping rush but I also like the predictability that life has provided us over the last couple of years. One of those routines that I have enjoyed the most is writing this blog and reflecting on how Carl may view life along with a spiritual lesson that I feel the need to share.

This season I have particularly been preoccupied with the reality of what actually happened two thousand years ago in a stable that could have been easily the side of a cliff. With the sound of Christmas music in the background, I can’t help but feel that many of us only know Jesus as the little baby lying in swaddling clothes in the manger with a bright light shining all around him.  Oh and let’s not forget the shepherds and the wise men that came by to worship the baby.

Just as they left with baby Jesus lying in the manger, we can easily walk back into our lives without considering who this baby grew up to be. As you begin to step away from this season, consider the young mother who couldn’t walk back into her previous life. Instead in Luke 2:19 it states, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

For the next thirty-three years, she must have pondered over who this baby had become. And as she stood near the cross where her son was being crucified, she must have only been comforted by the knowledge that she knew that He was truly from God and was God.

So give yourself a true Christmas present this year. Open the Book that God gave us. The one that may be collecting dust. Turn to the third chapter of Luke and follow the journey that Mary must have taken as she watched her baby become a man.

Carl is getting antsy as he notices that we are getting ready to leave once more. This time to the Christmas program that our church puts on each year. He is following us around like he knows that we will be exiting any minute. And as we close the door behind us, he will find his way back to the comfort of his sofa.

Carl and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of God’s eternal treasures.

As a side note: Please let me know if I should continue to write this blog by liking it or writing a short comment. I am considering taking up a different style of blogging but would like input from you before doing so.

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No Comfy Beds

Carl loves a good walk. Because his snout is a little longer than most French Bull Dogs, he can tolerate an extended walk in both the heat and the cold. But as much as he loves to walk, when he is close to home, he picks up his pace and is clearly happy to walk through the doors and lie on the cool floor and drink from his water bowl.

I also enjoy walking but after about three miles, I am also glad to make my way through the screened in porch and into my house where I can sit down and rest. I have to say that I am truly grateful for the ability to return to my temperature controlled home with all its amenities on a daily basis.

Sometimes, during this season of the year, we can romanticize the birth of Jesus. But in reality, what Mary and Joseph had to go through was truly difficult. Instead of a three mile walk, they had to walk over a hundred miles to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This journey for a woman who was nine months pregnant had to be extremely challenging.

Joseph wasn’t sure how he would provide for his young bride and the baby that would come. He knew that many people would be coming to Bethlehem to be counted among the census and that rooms would be hard to come by. He only had his faith and the knowledge that God would provide for them.

Exhausted and famished, Joseph and Mary went from place to place to find a bed to lay their heads. No temperature controlled rooms with cold water coming out of a tap. No comfy beds with tons of pillows that we mold around our bodies. Not even a hard floor of an extra spare room.

When all options seemed closed, a farmer offers his barn for the young couple to reside in. Too tired to turn the offer down, the two make their way into the smelly space where they were greeted by a couple of sheep and a donkey.

For most of us, we would ask where God was in all of this. But I am sure Mary kept repeating the words that the angel told her nine months ago. “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 1:37. She believed that He would give them what they needed. She only had to trust.

Carl has no reason to believe that his needs will not be met. Just yesterday when the temperatures were in the thirties, we purchased a coat for him and his sister Bee so they would be warm as we took a walk on the trail.  Which got me thinking. If we are willing to make sure our animals are taken care of, why wouldn’t God, our creator, take care of our needs?

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