Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

Outside Looking In

Carl’s nose was pressed against the French door as he watched the people inside mingling around. He wanted to come in but the electronic door wasn’t working and he seemed to be stuck on the outside. IMG_4601

How many times have you ever felt like you were on the outside of a group or situation and just didn’t know how to get in? I know I have felt this way many times in the course of my life.  I have wanted something that others had and felt the insecurity that comes when I didn’t feel like I measured up.

Hagar definitely struggled with being on the outside. She was an Egyptian maidservant living in the home of Abraham and Sarah. Looking in on this couple, I am sure Hagar longed for her own husband and a man to love only her.

To make matters worse, Sarah told her husband to take Hagar as his second wife and bear a child. Instead of being happy about conceiving Abraham’s child, Hagar began to detest Sarah for the situation she was now in. Genesis 16:4

It is easy to understand Hagar’s feelings. We have all felt the nagging anger that comes when our lives don’t turn out like we expect them to. And to make it even more difficult we seem to draw others around us that appear to have just what we want.

So what do we do when we are stuck on the outside looking in? How can we be content in all situations?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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.”

So the next time you start looking through the glass from the outside, take your focus off of the people inside and look towards Christ. Paul was so right, only when we focus on our savior can we be content with any and every situation.

Carl doesn’t have the ability to see beyond the glass and the humans that are mingling within the confines of the room. He only has the capability of focusing on what he sees. But thank goodness God created us with an eternal perspective that can help us see beyond the confines of this world.IMG_4427

Getting Out of Our Lane

Carl is notorious for budging Bee from her position as they walk down the road. Sometimes it can be a nip to the ear and other times it can be an outright push with his body. Either way, when he gets out of his lane, it makes walking the bullies awkward for all of us.

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When I was in high school, I wanted to participate in all the sports that I could. Since I was short, I knew that track would be challenging but I thought I would give it a try. With little training and understanding of running long distances, it quickly became apparent that this would not be the sport that I would excel in.

One particular race will never be erased from my memory. I started off well.  I was even in the lead around the first quarter mile turn. But then it all changed. I could hear the breathing of my opponents drawing closer and closer to me. Instead of staying focused on my race, I started looking to the left and right of me.

Before I knew it, the other racers started passing me. And instead of being first, I was drawn back to the very back of the pack. To this day, I think about the fact that I took my eyes off of my race and was consumed with the racers around me.

Hebrews 12:1 states it beautifully, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

How often do we do this in life? We start off well, focusing on what we need to focus on and then someone runs beside us and appears to be passing us. Instead of staying focused on our particular race, we start looking in their direction. Then, it happens. The bitterness of envy and jealousy seep into our hearts and our race becomes entangled.

Because of Carl’s determination to lead, his leash has gotten entangled and we now have to stop and untangle the leashes before moving on. As I struggle to break apart the leashes, I have to smile and think about how often I have been stopped in my own walk to untangle the mess that I have created. Once the leashes are free, Carl puts his head straight ahead and we are back on the race that has been marked out for both of us.

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The Act of Pruning

creativity is Intelligence having fun


Carl was not happy about being on the other side of the fence.  But he needed to be there as my husband cut down the grape vine that we recently discovered last summer. As Carl made himself known to us by his loud whine, we cut off the branches, pulled off the long thin climbers, and chopped the large vine down close to the ground.

Just like the grape vine, many plants need to be cut back in order to reach their full potential. Year after year, we have cut back our fig tree to see it come back with beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. So even though it looks almost impossible to believe that new vines will grow back and produce grapes, we just have to believe that they will.

It is interesting how God created plants to flourish when they are pruned back.  So why shouldn’t we think that He wants to do the same with us?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2

The word pruning means cutting or thinning. So when you think about how God prunes us, you probably aren’t thinking of a pleasant experience but one that will include some form of suffering or pain.

No one likes suffering and the physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial hardship that comes with it. But if we read this scripture again, we know it is for our good and God’s glory.

I personally would like everything to go as I plan but in the times of suffering, I can be encouraged by the fact that God is pruning me so that I will produce more fruit. And as I reflect on my life, I do believe that the hardships have molded me into someone who relies more and more on God.

Carl has also been pruned on several occasions in his life and I do believe that it has helped him to become the sweet little fella that we all love.  Having his tail surgically removed was probably the severest pruning he has lived through. But even though it was extremely painful and he no longer has a tail, Carl has adjusted and become an inspiration to us all.