Tag Archives: women

Competing for Devotion

Months have passed and we are all trying to come to terms with our new normal since Carl left. Of the three of us, little Bee has adjusted quite well. Instead of Carl getting to go on walks with my husband, Bee has slipped into this special position of strolling companion. Each morning, she knows that her walking collar will be placed around her neck and off they will go into the wild of the neighborhood.

It is funny but Bee seems happier and even healthier being an only dog. She no longer has to compete for the devotion that everyone poured out onto her brother. Now when someone enters, Bee briefly greets them and then goes about her business.

Unlike Bee, there was a woman from Canaan that knew she had to fight for Jesus’ devotion to her cause. This woman had a child that was possessed with a demon that tormented her day and night. As the years passed, and the child grew stronger, the mother knew she would soon be unable to care for her beloved daughter.

In Matthew 15:21-28, it is recorded that Jesus left Jewish territory and went to the land that was occupied by pagans. He and his disciples walked over fifty miles into Canaan. If Jesus came primarily for the Jews, why would he walk so far into terrain possessed by the Gentiles?

At first glance, I am sure his disciples asked the same question. Once Jesus entered the area of Tyre and Sidon, nothing worthy of such a walk could be identified. The disciples only noted the obnoxious screams from a woman that called out to Jesus.  Finally, Jesus allowed the woman to be brought to him and she knelt down. “Lord, help me!”

Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:25-28)

There is no other recordings of any other life shaking event that took place on this one hundred mile journey. So why would Jesus walk so far for the sake of a Gentile that he refers to as a dog? For only one reason. Her faith.

Because of the woman’s devotion to her daughter and her unwavering faith, Jesus walked a hundred miles. And if he would give this woman so much of his time and effort, why do you think he won’t give you the same?

Bee is now the center of attention. She no longer has to fight for it. It is just hers. As I watch Bee bask in her life as a single dog, I can’t help but think about how this woman must have spent the rest of her days. Grateful with a large dose of peace.

An Unpredictable God

One thing that I can tell you about Carl is that he is predictable. Just as I sat down to write this blog, I knew that he would come up and start scratching my leg for the ongoing attention he craves. Earlier this morning, I left Carl inside the fence to go water the garden and sure enough, he began to howl to let me know it was not acceptable to be left out of reach. IMG_4054

Most of us fall into habits that make us pretty predictable to the people who know us well. Our bodies seem to enjoy the rhythm of the habits that we have created over time. We find comfort in the routines and can become uncomfortable when we reach out beyond the safety of the known.

For many of us, it is the predictability of our lives that keep us from being used by God. I understand this because as I have pondered about this, I have come to realize that I expect God to show up in the predictable. But if you look at the Bible, this is the furthest from the truth.

From the very beginning of time, how God showed up changed. Only once did He create ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Only once did the Israelites walk around the walls of Jericho seven times before the walls came crumbling down. Only once did a man live inside of a big fish to be transported back to where God wanted him to be. And only once did a young woman become pregnant without relations with a man.

If you think about it, God has shown up in our lives in different ways. The problem comes in when we think He will only show Himself to us in the ways He did in the past. Just as the Israelites of Jesus’ day thought the Messiah would come in the form of Moses or Elijah, we can get stuck in our traditions and miss out on seeing God work.

This leads me back to the challenge that I must ask myself. What can I do outside of my comfort level that may provide God a chance to use me?

I am not going to expect Carl to change anytime soon. He is pretty much stuck in his routines and habits. That is okay for my little dog but for me, I am hoping that I will be willing to reach into the unknown with faith that God has something very special waiting just for me.IMG_4061

A Small Jar of Oil

2 King 4: 1-2

“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Several years ago,

after retiring from teaching, I was unsure what to do with my life. In some ways, I felt like I was starting over. With my career behind me and my children grown and out of the house, I thought I had nothing at all.

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But after looking out unto my back porch and seeing the little fawn colored French Bull dog, I realized that God had given me the perfect muse to work from.

2 King 4: 3-6

“Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.  Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.  When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.”

Carl has been like the small jar of oil for me.

Many days, when I didn’t see what direction my life was going in, I would look down at my sweet pooch, and God would pour into me a spiritual lesson.

Just like this woman, I have come to realize that God works best with empty jars. If we become so full of ourselves or the stuff that we obtain, we won’t have room for the oil that God wants to pour into us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when God has to clear the clutter from our hearts and even bank accounts in order to make room for the spiritual oil.

Another lesson that I have learned is that when we stay focused on our problems and not on what we do have, we will not be able to be used by God. But if we pour our oil into others, our own jars will be filled.

Carl doesn’t understand any of this but he doesn’t have to. 

All I know is that if I share with others about how God can use a little dog like Carl, He will continue to pour His precious oil into my life and hopefully into the hearts of my readers.IMG_1546

He Walks into our Pain

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. IMG_0096

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.IMG_0536

Could Carl Be Possessed?

I used to think that Carl could be demon possessed. I couldn’t trust him and wasn’t sure if we would growl or nip at me. The months that followed his tail removal surgery were difficult for all of us. We didn’t know if Carl would grow out of his distrust for us and we had to even question if we should keep him. InkedIMG_1328_LI

The months have now turned into years and other than a couple of occasions when he has been awakened by a nightmare, Carl has become a gentle little boy. We even commented the other day about how sweet and obedient he has become.

Being demon possessed has been a controversial topic since the beginning of time. Since it is mentioned many times in the Bible, I must believe that it is a real condition that plagued people, particularly before the innovation of modern medicine.

Mary Magdalene was one of these individuals that was stated to be demon possessed. And not just by one demon but by seven! Just the thought of the torment she must have lived through is incomprehensible. Today, she would probably be homeless, distrusted by her family, and living on the streets.

We don’t know the time or day that Jesus healed her but we know from Luke 8:2 that He drew seven demons from her. But it isn’t so much the fact that she was cleansed from the demons that is so amazing but what she did with her life after she was healed.

This woman is mentioned several times throughout the life and death of Jesus. She apparently turned her life around and not only hung out with Jesus but also helped finance his ministry. She was so grateful for what He had done that she devoted the rest of her life sharing the Gospel and how He had changed not only her physical life but also her eternal life.

Luke 7:41-43 states, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.”

Mary Magdalene had been forgiven much.  She knew there was nothing about her that deserved the loving kindness that Jesus extended to her. And in response, she spent the rest of her life sharing what her savior had done for her.

I have a lot to learn from this woman.

As for Carl, he has been reaching up and literally yanking on my shirt with his teeth. I am not sure what he wants but his annoying persistence is making it difficult to write.  Maybe I am wrong about the demon being totally gone.  It just comes out less often. Got to go.  Carl won’t stop pulling at my arm.

 

Carl wants young kids to be healthy, and to get subscribed for Cora’s new book launching on 5/24 – get on the list here

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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An Allusive Light

Every once in a while when I have the flash light in my hand, I get tempted to put the lazar function on and trace it over the floor. It only takes a minute until Carl spots the light and begins to hunt it down. He usually gets very excited and will slip and slide all over the floor until the light is turned off.

What is it about the light that causes such a reaction from my dogs? And why does this light cause Carl to become so consumed that he is willing to do anything to get to it?

More importantly, what was it about the star that rose in the sky after the birth of Jesus that caused the wise men to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles to find the baby? For months, they traveled, gazing up at the star that was directing them towards Bethlehem.

It is interesting that they are referred to as wise. Dictionary.com defines the word “wise” as “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”

I am sure many didn’t see these men as wise as they packed their gifts and headed out into the desert in search for an unknown destination. Even so, every night when the shadows of the last light slipped behind the horizon, the star would appear even brighter than before.

As they drew closer to the Christ child, their excitement must have grown. And when they arrived in Jerusalem, people began to talk about them. They seemed so determined to locate this baby that King Herod called them into his chambers to find out more.

But being wise, they knew that this king only wanted ill will for this infant. So after leaving Jerusalem they determined not to go back to the king with the infant’s location.

Finally, after months of travel, they arrived at their destination. There was nothing about the house they entered that would indicate royalty. The parents were apparently very poor and the baby had no physical trait that would indicate that he would become a king over all humanity.

But none of that mattered. These men knew that they were in the presence of God. In reverence, they knelt in front of the baby and his mother and laid down their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men must have felt a satisfaction that can only come from being in the presence of God. Unlike them, Carl will never feel the satisfaction of catching the light that is so allusive.

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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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The Gift of Friendships

Poor Carl. He was barred from his bed and once again had to sleep on the couch. Bee, stood in the doorway and made it crystal clear that he was not going to enter. So instead of experiencing the abuse of the Frenchie, he turned and walked down the darkened hallway to sleep alone.IMG_2403

I am sure he feels that no one understands his plight. Others would call him a wimp if they knew how his smaller sister was bullying him. As much as I wish I could teach him to stand up for himself, Bee has taken the role of the alpha and they need to work it out.

Mary must have felt similar feelings when the angel came to her and told her that she would carry the Son of God in her womb. Who would have any understanding of the situation and how to find peace in it?

When we go through trials alone, we can become very self-absorbed and just feel sorry for ourselves. But if we can find someone that has gone through a similar situation, we can find peace and purpose in our hardships.

God knows us and knew the importance of having someone for Mary at this time. Luke 1:39-41 states, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

For the next three months, Mary stayed with Elizabeth as she came to full term and delivered her baby. This must have been a very special time for both of these women as they shared the joy of being a first time mother.

God loved these two women so much that He gave them each other at such a sensitive time in their lives. And if He demonstrated his love for these women by giving them each other, why shouldn’t we acknowledge His love in the friendships that He has given us?