Tag Archives: religion

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.

The Promise of the Present

Carl was clearly upset. Even though he wanted the spot in front of the fire, he didn’t want his sister Bee to occupy his place on the sofa. She looked too comfortable and he didn’t like it. He should be occupying the space that she now claimed as her own.img_4878

Carl is no stranger to jealousy. Many times in the years that he has lived in our home, he has displayed a streak of envy towards Bee. It has been very difficult for him to see the benefit of the space he currently occupies. Too many times, Carl would rather be somewhere else.

How often do we want to be somewhere else in our lives? When I was young, I wanted to be older. When I was single, I wanted to be married. When I didn’t have a child, I wanted one. And the list goes on and on.

God only promises us the present. It is His gift to us. Whatever our present situation is, is what He wants us to be grateful for. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

God is not bound in time. He knows our future and our past. He understands our desires and needs. Most importantly, He wants us to cherish the moments and situations that we are presently experiencing. Too often, we spend too much time focused on being out of a situation that we are in.  This mindset can only rob us of the gift of the present.

Carl will probably never understand the value of being content in his present situation. He will continue to desire what he doesn’t have, particularly when it involves his sister Bee. But hopefully over time, he will see the blessings that he has been given, no matter where he is lying.img_4879

Living Life in the Present

Carl loves his walks.  Next to being fed, taking a walk around the block is what he lives for. He and his sister Bee constantly compete for who will lead their pack around the three mile path marked out by their humans.IMG_4776

With his ears perked up and his body stiff and alert, Carl walks like he is on a mission. As he struts forward, he is always attentive to his surroundings. You could say that Carl lives in the present.

We all could learn from Carl.  So often, I find myself drifting in my thoughts to either my past or my future.  This is particularly true right before a vacation.

My husband and I will be going on a cruise in the near future. Just the thought of being out in the middle of the ocean with 80 degree temperatures can sweep my thoughts away. Carnival Cruise lines has an app that you can open and it states to the minute how long it will be before we will set sail. At this time it will be 8 days, 1 hour and 59 minutes.

Every day for the last week, we have opened the app just to see the numbers drop and the time draw closer and closer to our cruise. There really isn’t anything bad about doing this. We all have thoughts that captivate us and send us into another time and place. Even though it isn’t bad, there is a better way to spend my moments. In the present.

I have come to realize that if I spend too much time focusing on the future, I miss out on the gift of the present. The Apostle Paul learned a lesson that I believe we all can benefit from.  He stated, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

So instead of dreaming about the future, I need to be content in the present. God doesn’t promise me the days ahead but as long as I am breathing, I do have the present to enjoy.

Carl is back from his walk and resting in his favorite place. He sure knows how to live his life to the fullest. Even when he is sleeping, he seems pleased with his present circumstances. If my dog can be happy with his life, surely, with the help of Jesus who gives me strength, I can  enjoy mine.IMG_4774

 

 

Our Deepest Desire

It was clear what Carl wanted. We were sitting at the breakfast table when Carl placed his paws in my lap.  Looking at me with those soulful brown eyes, if he could speak, he would be asking for some of the sausage dish that could be seen on our plates.

I pushed his paws off me and firmly told him that he would not be getting any food off my plate. With a sad demeanor, Carl turned from me and slowly walked back to the couch and curled up in his familiar spot.56605741629__FFAC95CB-502E-4A67-BCDA-3817A1CED79C

Carl is not the only one that wants.  We all do.  And the want list only seems to increase during the holiday season. Children are conditioned from birth that Christmas means getting what you want. Presents are stacked under the tree by parents with the hope that their loved ones will find enjoyment from the gifts that are given.

But if you think about it, will the presents fill the desire of what we really want?  As the gifts are unwrapped, a sense of anticipation rises up in our hearts. But no matter what is inside, it just can’t give us the long lasting satisfaction that we all yearn for.

So where can we find this satisfaction that our hearts so desperately desires? Will it be in the things that take up the space in our homes? Or in the accomplishment of a lifetime goal? Could it come through a relationship that has been sought after?

What if our greatest want or desire could be satisfied by the baby in the manger? The newborn cuddled up in the hay.

Take a long look at the babe.  The one that the angel told the shepherds to come worship.  The one that the star directed the wise men to. God’s only son. Christ the king.

So often we lose sight of the gift that God has given us. The only gift that will fill the void that He actually created within us.  So in this season, let us not forget the reason to celebrate. If this means opening up your Bible and reading the story as it is actually written, do it. Or if music can resonate in your heart, play music that is intended for worship of our savior’s birth.

Carl will surely return to the table and try to persuade me to give him what he wants. And as he places his paws on my lap and looks at me with his soulful brown eyes, I will use this as a reminder of what is truly desired.IMG_4656

“Thank you Lord for sending your only begotten Son to earth as a baby. I want to particularly thank you for allowing this baby to grow into a man, one that understands my frailty and temptations. Thank you for allowing Him to die on the cross so that I can live life to the fullest.”

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.

Happy Birthday Carl!

Of all days to have a birthday, it is today. Carl is now four years old. I hope that this will be a special day for him, but I won’t know for sure. Instead of enjoying the day with him, we are headed to Washington D.C. with our grandchildren and Carl is staying at Suite Paws, a pet resort.IMG_0096

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this fawn colored Frenchie would be such an important part of our family. But the truth be told, Carl has had a profound impact all of us. Given his very needy personality and endless displays of cute expressions, he has melted our hearts into a soft pile of mush.

This morning on the way to taking Carl to his destination, he looked at me with his soft brown eyes and caused me to question even going on the trip and leaving him. But the desire to give up the trip passed and he willingly went into the door that would separate us for the weekend. IMG_4250

Thankfully, there are no doors that keep us away from God. It may seem that way at times, but when I open my Bible, I am comforted by the words that tell me otherwise. Psalm 23:4 states this truth, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

This Psalm has always encouraged me when I felt alone. Knowing that I have a shepherd that loves me and wants me to believe that in the darkest times of my life, He is with me.

Hopefully Carl will not feel alone and abandoned in the next couple of days. Instead, I hope he will enjoy playing with the other dogs and know in the back of his mind, that he is loved. Happy Birthday Little Guy.

Our Unfulfilled Purpose

Carl doesn’t care too much about anything but getting his needs met. Two meals, water, a place to sleep and lots of stroking are all the essentials to a happy life. For the most part, this is the same for all dogs.  They go through life doing what they are intended for, being loved and loving the people in their lives.IMG_4135

If you think about it, all animals have a specific purpose that they go through life fulfilling without much effort. So why then is it so hard for us humans to be content in the role that we were created for?

The answer can only be found within the pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could want in the Garden of Eden. They began their existence fulfilling their purpose by living in harmony with God. All was going well until Eve was tempted by the serpent.

Genesis 3:1-6 states,

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

How often are we tempted by the one thing that we are told to stay away from? Just like Eve, we can fall into temptation because we have desires for things that are not from God. Notice how she saw that the apple was pleasing to the eye. How often are we distracted from spending time with God because of our pursuit of what is pleasing to the eye?

God had given them everything they needed but Eve wasn’t content with it. She believed the serpent’s lie and decided she wanted more. It is when we pursue the things that we want that we can lose sight of our real purpose.

Carl doesn’t think about his purpose and he doesn’t have to. He goes through life being a dog that seems content with who he is and what he has. We all have so much to learn from Carl and the animals that are around us. If we could focus on our true purpose of glorifying God, what an incredible world we would have.IMG_4115