Girl’s Best Friend

If you have even spent any amount of time with me, you know that there is one subject that I will talk about nonstop.  The subject is the screen saver on my home and work computer as well as my cell phone. I have more photos of this subject on my phone then anything else.  Close to 2000 pictures.  Have you guessed yet the object of my obsession?  Who do I love more then Coffee, football, the mountains, and most people?

Of course… I am talking about my fur baby, Ellie.

eb

I purposely didn’t say Dog, because, well, Ellie has never been treated as such.

EVER

From the day she came home with me almost 13 years ago from the shelter, she has lived a VERY posh life.  She has her pick of down feather blankets to rest on. Sweaters, and jackets to wear. Toys to play with, treats galore, and she graciously lets me sleep with her in the Queen sized bed each and every night.

That is not all.  She is an online celebrity.

It’s true.  Ellie has she own Facebook page.  This is the point where I know some of you are shaking your heads wondering what kind of freak are you friends with. However, in my defense, I started the page for family and friends, but within a week it went viral and she had 200 followers. Now almost 4 years later she has over 800 followers, with a great part being from other countries. You can follow her here:  Ellie Belly on Facebook

EVERYTHING about Ellie fascinates me.  From the first day I adopted her we became bonded for life.  Those first few months were not easy.  I had never had a dog before and Ellie had never had a human.  I remember sitting with her that first night in our little apartment, just staring at her and thinking, “What the crap do I do with you?” She somehow sensed my question and immediately answered back by laying her head in my lap, which I am pretty sure was her way of saying, “Just love me.”

The beginning was rocky.  Sometimes real rocky.  Ellie of course had free reign of the apartment while I was at work.  Somehow in my delusional mind, I thought she would sleep while I was away, or lay on the sofa watching TV.  The reality was, she plundered and pillaged like a freaking pirate the whole time I was gone.  Carpet was chewed, clothes were strewn all through the apartment, cords were ripped out of outlets and then plugs chewed off, and a half bottle of Zyrtec was consumed  ( don’t even ask).  It truly is a miracle that Ellie survived her first year and did not die from electrocution or drug over dose. Clearly I did not win Pet Parent of the year that first year.

But survive she did, and pretty soon Ellie and I settled into a routine.  Walks were a huge part of our everyday.  Before I realized it, I was becoming an active walker.  Twice a day we would walk the same two mile path.  While I had lived in this neighborhood for approximately 7 years and walked occasionally, I was noticing things I had not noticed before, and I was developing new friendships as well.  Suddenly I was arranging play dates, bringing other dogs over to babysit, and making special Dairy Queen runs for frozen treats.  I wasn’t a soccer mom.  No. I had become something even bigger and more obnoxious.

A DOG MOM

I am not even quiet sure when it happened.  One day I was a single twenty something living a carefree single person’s life, and the next I’m cancelling outings, and rushing home from work just to spend time with my dog.  For the first time in my entire life I was living alone.  A month earlier I had married off my final roommate, and moved from our roomy, yet cozy home, into a small one bedroom apartment.  I loved the freedom of living alone, yet I knew something was missing. So I thought, “Why not get a dog?” If ever there was a random thought, that was the most random of them all. I had never owned a dog, or even been around any.  I had a cat for over 20 years, but never had I shown any interest in dogs. My mother had two dogs I enjoyed playing with when I came to town to visit, but I was never responsible for them.  So the idea of me wanting a dog, was totally insane.

My mother graciously drove me to the shelter one weekend when I had come in for a visit.  I remember feeling so noble.  “I am going to rescue a beautiful dog and give it a beautiful life.” Little, did I know that lying in the first kennel, on the cold hard floor was someone who I would NOT rescue but…

Someone who would rescue ME.

As I entered the shelter the first dog I saw was a small black and tan dog. She had the cutest face.  But she wasn’t what I wanted.  I trudged all through the shelter looking at each and every resident, the whole time not being able to forget the face of the first dog. Finally my mom encouraged me to go back to her.  The shelter volunteer opened the kennel and encouraged me to get her out.  In a matter of 2.5 seconds it was all over. She immediately laid her head on my shoulder, and the feeling that came over me is one I can never describe. It was at that moment my life changed.

I quickly named her Eleanor Rose, after a great female role model, Eleanor Roosevelt, calling her Ellie for short.  (Yes, and like any good Southern mama, I use her full name to call her out when she gets in trouble.) I told her she was leaving a princess, but that title was not good enough for her.  She knew it is the Queen who gets the best treatment, so that is how she has lived life since our first day together.

Oh what adventures we have had!  So much has been packed into the past 12 and half years. We have moved half way across our state to the small town I was raised in, we have been through some sad times, and gone through a few thorny patches.  But through it all, Ellie has been right there, ever faithful.

 

If I cry, she is my comforter.

When I am sick, she is my nurse, never leaving my side.

She is my entertainer.  I could literally spend hours watching her lick her paw or wrestle one of her toys.

She lets me do crazy things to her for not reason but my own amusement.

   

 

She is my secret keeper.  I swear she listens and comprehends everything I tell her.

 

And she is my faithful friend, who is always glad to see me whether I have been gone all day or 2 minutes taking out the trash.

 

Who would have thought a furry, little stray could teach me so much about living?

On days when I feel totally unlovable and worthless, she looks at me with love and devotion.  I have learned it is not about how you see yourself, but how those you love see you.    

 

It is important to slow down sometimes and take in the world around you.  If you are always running and playing, you may miss out on seeing something totally amazing.

Look at that view! Isn’t it beautiful mom?

 

 

 

Sometimes a good nap is all you need to feel better.

 

It’s ok to lick the bowl.  Even if you do get peanut butter on your nose.  Sometimes the good stuff is at the bottom. 

Get outside and enjoy nature!  Life can’t be lived sitting on the couch!

 

Sometimes you just have to go for it! That cute face will get you out of trouble most of the time. 

 

Be persistent.  If you give up it may never happen. 

I will sit here all day lady. Yep, ALL day until you share.

Soak up some sun every now and then.  It will do you so good!

A good friend will sit with you, without saying a word.  They know when you need to be quiet.

Tovey, I love just sitting with you doing nothing.

 

 

And finally, Don’t always be so serious.  Sometimes it’s ok to make a Pirate face… Or wear a sombrero.

 So there you have it.  I am a 40 year old single woman who is unashamedly obsessed with her dog. Yes, I call her my child, and I think she knows I am her mom. She has shown and taught me so much and I am forever in her debt. I know God knew I needed her.  You may think me odd, nuts, warped, strange, or just crazy.  You may not get it, and that’s just fine…. Ellie and I do, and that is all that matters.

Eye Of The Tiger

Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances.
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive.

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory.
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past,
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight.
Rising up to the challenge of our rival.
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of tiger!”

Are you singing along yet? If you are a child of the 80’s like I am, you know that is one of the BEST theme songs to ANY movie series…..

E-V-E-R

That’s right. The Rocky Saga  is one of the best movie series of ALL time.

There, I said it. Some of you are shaking your heads laughing, but the majority of you, especially those from my generation, are mentally high-fiving me right now.

My love affair with Rocky began pretty early in life. Movies 1-3 I remember watching at my fathers house on the weekends. But Rocky lV…..  now that movie made me fall in love with the whole series. I remember sitting in the movie theater as a 10 year old kid, totally engaged in the drama that was Rocky Balboa’s life. Even the soundtrack is still one of my favorites of ALL time.  Over the years I have become somewhat of an expert on the series and I am proud to say that I am currently unbeaten on several social media Rocky trivia challenges.

Yeah… that’s a total real thing. Don’t judge

Simply put….. I’m a total Rocky nerd.

This past weekend after a long hard day working at a Fall Festival I settled in for an early evening…until I found the ROCKY marathon on TV.  My plans changed and I stayed up WAY past my bed time to watch it all like I was watching for the very first time.

I am not gonna lie, I get pumped each time I see Rocky run up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art wearing his trademark gray sweat suit and black converse high tops, with the theme song, Gonna Fly Now playing dramatically in the background. I feel like I could go into the ring myself. During ROCKY 3 I fall apart when Mickey dies. I mean come on…how is he supposed to go on fighting after that?!?!?!?  ROCKY lV is always watched with the hope that Apollo Creed will kick the Russian’s butt, sending him and his posse back to Siberia. I cry like a baby each time he falls to his death and Ivan Drago stands there with the smug look on his face and says, “If he dies…he dies.” And when Rocky wins over all of Russia in the final scene, I always feel like it is Fourth of July instead of Christmas, and that I need to sing the Star Spangled Banner.

To list all the reasons I love Rocky would take forever. It simply speaks to me. Through my love of the movies (some would call it obsession) I have found that they have great life lessons in them. I reference the movies so much that one of my friends recently told me that I should write a book and call it, “Rocky’s Book Of Wisdom”.  Not a bad idea… but for now I think I’ll just write about my observations thus far.

Never underestimate yourself

Rocky is uneducated, poor, and a flunky for a loan shark at the start of the first movie. To look at his life you would probably say he wasn’t going anywhere fast.  He is 30, lives in a dump, is fighting in fights that get him nowhere,  and seems socially awkward.  Pretty sad.

However, none of this keeps Rocky down. Even when those around him are telling him he’s dumb, a bum, finished, he never quits. It is not about winning, it’s about giving it your best, even when the odds are stacked against you.  One of Rocky’s  best lines is,  “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” In life we should live like contenders, who give our best even when the crowd is cheering for our opponent.

The Definition of winning isn’t always about being named Champion

In boxing, you’d think winning means knocking down your opponent. However, for Rocky, in the first movie, it was about, “going the distance,” which meant lasting all 15 rounds with Apollo Creed, the World Champion.  Winning should not be what others define it to be, it is a goal you set for yourself. Define what is winning for you, and ignore the preconceived definitions of it.

It’s Important to Have a Mentor

It would be ridiculous to think that Rocky accomplished any of this on his own, and he would be quick to tell you all the credit for his success doesn’t belong to him solely.  Who can forget his loyal and dedicated trainer Mickey? More of a father then a trainer, Mickey trained him on the finer points of boxing, but more importantly, he kept Rocky focused and believed in him even when Rocky didn’t believe in himself and was the clear long shot.

Mickey was honest, brash, and at times downright brutal, but he loved Rocky so much and until his last breath believed in him. He taught Rocky one of the greatest lessons in fighting and in life…. You fight until the bell. Even if you get knocked down, you get up and don’t stop till the bell rings. We all need a Mickey. Someone to be honest, who pushes us to be better, and who does not accept failure as an option for us.

Sometimes A Rival Can Become A Valued Friend

The relationship between Rocky and Apollo Creed was one that started as exploitation, but quickly turned into a rivalry. After a couple of brutal battles a friendship and special brotherhood was born. These two had studied each other so closely that they knew the other as well as they knew themselves. They pushed aside the desire to hate and be bitter toward one another, and instead chose to learn from the other and develop a strong respect and deep admiration.  After Mickey dies, it is Apollo who trains Rocky for his biggest fight yet against the villain Clubber Lang. He encourages him to get that look in his eyes he once had when they first met. That hungry look of desire, or as Apollo calls it, “The Eye of the Tiger”

Perhaps we could be missing out on a once in a life time friendship because we look at those around us as rivals instead of valued friends.  When we stop talking trash about those whom we view as a bitter enemy, and start studying them, and seeing maybe they have something to teach us, we too can perhaps experience great kinship with the one we once spared with. Rocky and Apollo are awesome examples of what can happen when we put down the gloves and open our minds.

You Can Turn a Weakness Into A Strength and Remember Size isn’t Important

In the first movie we learn that Rocky is a “southpaw”, a boxing term that means he is a left handed boxer. However by the time the second Movie comes around Mickey has devised a plan to strengthen Rocky’s right arm to throw off Apollo in their rematch. Overcoming this weakness made Rocky the Heavy Weight Champion of the world, a title he kept against 10 other Challengers.  Instead of complaining about our weaknesses, maybe we should work on them, and  just like what happened with Apollo, the challenges we go up against won’t know what hit them.

In Rocky IV we have the classic David vs. Goliath scenario when Rocky goes against the half a foot taller, and 60lbs. heaver Russian, Ivan Drago.  The moment when Drago stands glaring down at Rocky and says in his best intimidating Russian voice, “I must break you,” I always want to shout, “DON’T DO IT ROCK!  REMEMBER WHAT HE DID TO YOUR BEST FRIEND?!?!?!?”

It seems pretty obvious what the outcome will be, but come on…. It’s freaking ROCKY! Of course he is going to kick that Russians butt.  Maybe we could defeat our giants too if we chose to stare them down and use our skills to outsmart their intimidating, cunning ways. Tucking tail and running to hide in our corner is never going to help us overcome fear when we face scary situations.

When In Doubt, Get Back To Basics

Rocky didn’t have it all living in the troubled neighborhood in Philadelphia. He trained in the streets and even the meat packing plant where Paulie worked. Who can forget the scene of Rocky punching on those sides of beef in the meat locker?  By Rocky lV, he is training in Siberia in an old barn and in the frozen countryside, while his opponent is training in the finest gym with the latest equipment.  Do you not get totally pumped when you see him running away from his KGB watchmen up into the snowy mountainside?  At that moment when he gets to the top of the mountain and does the classic Rocky arm pump, you know he’s found the Eye of Tiger Again.

Rocky learned to work with the resources he had. He didn’t whine and complain about what he didn’t have, he made do.  By doing so, he got back to the basics. He didn’t have the distractions that often come with having it all. Sometimes we can let “things” that are supposed to be a great help, hinder us, by distracting us from focusing on the prize that lies ahead.  It doesn’t always take bigger and better. Remember… David took down Goliath with a simple stone.

Don’t Point Fingers

Thirty years after the first movie, the story ends with the 6th and final film, ROCKY BALBOA. Rocky, now in his 50’s has lost the love of his life, Adrian. He is seriously considering going back into the ring for one more battle, and as he is talking with his son, who has become bitter with him because he feels his father’s legacy has cast a shadow over his life, he has one of the most memorable speeches of the whole series.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what your worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta  be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers, saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You are better then that!”

Rocky was conveying to his son that you have to take accountability for you own life. Playing the victim and pointing our finger at those we blame, only makes us bitter and keeps us from experiencing life and moving forward. Rocky could have spent so much of his life pointing fingers and casting blame, but he chose instead to get up each time life knocked him down.  How much more content and successful would we be if chose to do the same?

Who knew that an iconic movies series spread over 30 years would be filled with so many life lessons?

Maybe you don’t get it. It’s just a movie…

Maybe you’ll chose to watch and see even more.  What other lessons could there be?

Just remember friend, Don’t give up. Even when you want to.  Even when the crowd stops cheering for you. Keep your eye on the prize. Go the distance.

“Rising up, straight to the top.
Had the guts, got the glory.
Went the distance, no I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive.”

May sound cheesy but…

Don’t ever lose the eye of tiger.  Keep your focus, and go the distance,  so one day you can lift up the champions belt and shout….

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Snap Out Of It!

I did not land in jail today so today has been a complete success.  Yes, you read that sentence correctly.  Today I did not have to have my mother come bail me out of the Hamblen County jail, so the day ended on a very high note.

Perhaps I need to explain myself….

I like to think of myself as passionate, others may call me emotional. Expressive is how I would describe my reactions sometimes, while those who know me would say dramatic.  In certain situations I like to think of myself as commanding, but I am pretty sure that some of my friends would say bossy.

Yes, I am the stereo-typical redhead. Fiery, opinionated, strong willed, and mouthy. While I like to keep peace and harmony and go with the flow, I am also more then willing to let you know how I feel…. especially if I feel I am right and you are wrong. And we all know that I am usually in the right.  :0

My list of annoyances are pretty simple.  Lukewarm coffee, cigarette smoke, music I can hear from the car next to me when my windows are rolled up, being talked to  when I am trying to read, people who wear their pajamas to the store, and having to see ANY Khardashian on a tv, magazine, or newspaper. All of these things are just annoying enough that I get irritated and cranky.

However, if you REALLY want to set my temper ablaze, there is one thing that will get you a guaranteed first row seat to the fire……

W-H-I-N-E

I HATE whining!  Constant moaning and groaning about how you feel, how cruddy your life is, how much you hate your job, how much your significant other annoys you, What a jerk your boss is, or how unfair life is…. these to me are like nails on chalkboard. The mere beginning of whine from someone and I feel my whole body tense, and yes I admit it, I want to smack a face.

Now I am not talking about genuine issues that we need to share and express.  What I am talking about is the never ending, never happy, always dissatisfied rambling.  You know the type of person I am talking about…

Never happy

Constant complaining

Always has an excuse why they are miserable

Forever seeing the glass as half empty

Have someone in mind?  You know you do.  In fact you may have thought 2 or 3 people who can fit that description. It seems they are everywhere and forever being the Debbie Downer in our day.

From an early age I was taught that whining was an unaccepted practice and would not be tolerated in our house hold. Being raised by two strong Southern women, My Mother and my Grandmother, I had instilled in me the belief that every day is a gift and you make the most of it.  Bad day? Go to bed early, tomorrow will be better. In my 40 and half years of life I don’t believe I have ever heard either my Mother or my Grandmother groan or moan about ANYTHING.  Seriously.  And these are two women that at some points in their lives had legitimate reasons to maybe give a little groan about something.

Since it was not tolerated in my house, I totally failed at learning to tolerate others outside my home who were free to whine.  Now of course I went through those typical teenage years where EVERYTHING about my life was wrong:  My hair, my weight, the fact I had to share a room with my annoying sister, the clothes I wore, the strict discipline my mother and grandmother enforced.  You get the picture. HOWEVER, my whining was kept to a minimum and I knew better then to whine in front of my mama, and my grandmother. Even if I did, I would regret it soon after. TRUST ME.

I have never understood the point of whining. What does it help?  The answer is, the only thing constant complaining and whining accomplishes is making us cynical, resentful, and bitter.  It fosters the idea that we deserve to be treated better, and we have earned the right to be treated special.  It slowly takes away any joy or fullness we have in life.  And if given the chance, it can keep us from living at all.

But whining also makes us lose focus on another truth: our God is GOOD.  Day after day He continues to bless us, but a critical attitude- the epitome of ungratefulness- sees only the negative. Sadly it also shows that we don’t hold true to and believe the promise given by our good God:

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Note that the verse does NOT say that ONLY good will happen, but rather everything that happens to us is FOR our good.

God has a plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not harm you. Plans to you give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29.11

He is constantly at work in our lives. Every day we have to make an intentional decision to believe that our God is good and that His promises for a prosperous and hopeful future are not just words, but a blueprint for our lives.

When I taught Pre-K I was plagued every day with listening to constant whining. “I don’t want that color!” “Why can’t I have THAT toy?” and my favorite, “That’s not fair!” While this is typical for this age group, it still was a constant struggle for me. I would have to give the “Teacher” answer each time instead of giving the response I truly wanted to give, “Life’s not fair kid. Snap out of it! Move on!”

Listening to children whine is one issue, but hearing adults do it…. now that is a whole other matter. And that is also the issue that almost got me in trouble today.

Today I found myself listening to a conversation that was filled with endless moaning, groaning, and grumbling. The person was ranting about how horrible life was.  They had no spouse, they felt fat, and felt God had just abandoned them.  All this, according to them, was a direct result of their parents divorcing several years earlier.

I know that as a good friend I should have had some kind of words of encouragement for my friend, but I found my temper slowly rising…like lava that had been sitting dormant for 100 years at the bottom of an inactive volcano. Suddenly I just wanted to shout…..

snap

Actually….. I did.  I couldn’t take it any longer. Oh, did I fail to mention all this took place in a crowded restaurant? Heads turned, people whispered, small children cried (Ok, so maybe that is a wee bit dramatic, but you get the picture.)  My friend was humiliated, and I myself was a little nervous. I was looking for the manager to come with the police and have me arrested for disrupting the peace.

 I can say with full confidence that my friend is one of the most blessed people I know. He has been given so much, YET he always choses to look at the things he doesn’t have or the things he thinks he deserves. Nothing is EVER his fault and is always quick to blame God or others for his cruddy situation.  Never does he take the time to look at all he has. He can’t appreciate the blessings in his life, because he is too busy complaining about the things he has doesn’t have or the issues he has to deal with.

And that my friends is the ugly truth. If we fail to see how much God has given us, we are never going to be happy.

“What do I have to be thankful for? You have no idea what I am going through?”

That is true. But I do know that you woke up this morning. Probably in a bed, inside a house, with plumbing. More then likely you are not sitting in the dark reading this, and I bet your are not naked.  I can almost guarantee that your belly is full of all the food you have eaten today.  More then likely someone has told you they love you today. (If not I am telling you now… I LOVE YOU)

Life is hard. But it is also good. If we waste time grumbling and complaining about what we don’t like about it, we are so gonna miss the good stuff. The children of Israel let their whining get so out of control that God kept them from entering into the Promised Land. Constant mumbling and complaining will neutralize the power of God in our lives as well. His blessings are sure, but they are not automatic.

To insist on being a negative, grouchy, grumpy, and whiney person will eventually cost you. We can miss opportunities and blessings that God has planned for us. Those we love can also get tired of hearing our constant moaning and turn away from us.  We must believe when we say God is good. Saying He is good and then blaming Him when things don’t go our way…. well that just doesn’t make us good examples does it?

So, I had to get real with my friend. That’s what real friends do. I love my friend and I do not want him to miss out on the good life I know he has. Each day is filled with the opportunity to live life to the fullest. If we spend it complaining and grumbling we are blinded and may miss out on God’s best.

A long time ago, I started writing down 3 things I was blessed for each night before I went to bed. It was hard at first. Trust me, there have been times when the only thing I was thankful for was the breath I had just taken. The more I did this exercise the more and more I became aware of just how blessed I am. Am I perfect? NO! Am I always happy and cheery. NO!  But I realize that I am blessed because I have a Good God who loves me and hasn’t failed me yet.

Now Snap out of it and go enjoy life! 😁

It’s Just a Bad Day. Not a Bad Life

Exhale

day 

So today was not a good day.  In fact it was an ugly day.  It started off glorious enough and was full of promise, but I can’t really place a finger on where it fell apart.  I pride myself on being an upbeat, cheerful, chipper kind of gal, but there are times when, well…. times when life is just hard.

REAL hard.

I promised myself when I started this Blog that I was going to be real no matter what. Sincere and honest with all my thoughts. And I truly meant it.

Then today happened.

I had another Blog already to go, and had worked hard on it all week.  (Not to toot my own horn, but it is pretty good.) But as I was getting ready to publish it, I hesitated.  It seemed fake. Very unauthentic.  It was this happy, upbeat, all sunshine and daisy’s kind of a Blog.  The total opposite of how I feel right now. I could not publish it.

My Blog mentor has challenged me to publish at least one Blog a week, and I pride myself on rising to challenges laid before me, but this week I almost bailed.  Publishing a Blog that seemed so unimportant and unreal was not an option. So I sat down and decided to get real.  Really real. Maybe someone reading this is having a bad day too or maybe they can relate to how I feel.  Even if one person reads it and says, “YES! ME TOO!” Then it is totally worth it.

There really was nothing unordinary about my day today that caused my dramatic mood swing. I got up at my same time, drank coffee out of my favorite mug, walked the same stretch of road with my dog, and did all the normal routine stuff I always do.  On lunch break I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while and somewhere in the conversation my day fell apart. Nothing bad happened, nothing but polite conversation,  but out of nowhere doubt, jealousy, and bitterness decided to make an appearance.

It’s funny how in an instant you go from feeling like a normal, respected, light-hearted human, to feeling very small and insignificant. Perhaps somewhere in the conversation with this old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, I allowed my confidence to be penetrated by the enemy.  You know what I mean. You are listening to the other person give the highlights of their life since you last spoke.  They have lost weight, gotten married, work a fulfilling high paying job, and been on adventures all over creation saving the world.  Ok, so maybe I am being over dramatic a bit, but as they speak, that is what I hear in my head. Slowly I start to wonder, “What significant thing have I EVER done?”  “Does he know I am a failure?”

As a child I dreamed about being an adult and all the adventures I would have. For one I was going to be an Air Force pilot and be the first female Shuttle Commander in space.  I was going to travel, live in a modest home and have lots of children. Of course these were my goals when I was 14, but they didn’t change too much by the time I became an adult.  I realized I would never be a pilot and enter space, but the other stuff, that was still obtainable.  When I entered college as a theatre major, (If you know me at all you know I have flair for the dramatic) I thought I had everything mapped out.

I was smart in school, and great things were expected from me, but my whole life I have struggled to find who I am and where I fit in. That combination kept me from finishing a lot of things and fulfilling a lot of life goals. I did well in school but felt lost.  Then out of the blue, I was thrown into the job of teaching Pre-K, and suddenly I had found my niche in this life.

I LOVED teaching. There is absolutely nothing better then seeing the face of a 4 or 5 year old when they write their first word, or read their first sentence. Teaching became my passion.  My students became my saving grace.  Each and every day I was making a difference. I was having a direct impact on their young lives and the lives of their families.  Being with these children came natural to me, and I was good at it.  I was VERY good at it. I felt respected, revered, and loved. It wasn’t even like work, even as I struggled over lesson plans, state regulations, and difficult students.

Several years later I had become a respected teacher with a boat load of experience, and was needed to help other teachers.  Slowly and gradually over a span of 13 years I was pulled out of the classroom and into an administrative position. At first I was honored and had big goals. But soon, I hated it. I loathed it. I sucked at it. I failed.

It takes a strong person to admit when he or she are wrong and for some reason it took me a while to do so.  I should have NEVER left the classroom. Administration was NOT for me.  I am horrible at making decisions, I stink at delegating, and I had a hard time working with adults.  After all these years I am still more comfortable in a room full of 5 year olds then I am with people my own age.

So on a hot June day two years ago, I walked out. No notice, no good byes. No looking back. I just grabbed a box full of my belongings and I walked out. Not my proudest or best moment.  For the first time in a long time I could breathe, but I also fell into the darkest time of my 40 years.

Once again, I was left wondering who I was, or what I wanted to do. I was so worried about freeing myself from the prison I was in, I didn’t think about the consequences or anything else for that matter.  Aimlessly I wandered through each day, pretending life was great and I that I was happy, while inside I was secretly dying and crying out, “HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Every day I went through the motions of living, while I felt dead.

It took some humbling, life changing events to wake me up. I had a choice to make. I could lay down and let my life fall apart or I could get up and start over.  The memory of sitting on my loveseat last November in the dark thinking I was the biggest disappointment ever, and crying out to God, praying for Him to bring me and my failures to an end, still haunts me, but it is also what keeps me going. The scars I wear are deep and ugly, but they are also beautiful because they remind me that at my darkest, He is light. At my weakest, He is strength. At my ugliest, His beauty shines through.

So back to today.

Seeing my old friend triggered  all the same raw emotions. He had no idea that asking me what I had been up to the past couple of years would totally un-nerve me. I left my friend feeling angry, hateful, frustrated, and  sad. I started throwing a lot of questions at myself and to God.  “Why do I have to be the one who struggles? Why couldn’t life be easy for me like it was him?  Why do I feel so insignificant compared to others?”

As I walked with my dog tonight, I saw the most glorious sunset. The colors were so gorgeous and strong. I could not help but smile when I saw it. Suddenly I was filled with warmth and peace. It was almost as if it was on display for just me.  I was reminded that through all the ugly, the doubts, the feelings of insignificance, the worry, each day is filled with new promises.  If God could bring me through one of the darkest times of my life could He not pull me out of a little funk?  Did He not send His ONLY son to this earth to die, so that I may live?

I am NOT unimportant.  I am NOT insignificant.

Even though the world tells me each day that I am, nothing could be farther from the truth. My value is not found in my job, my social status, my relationships, or even my failures. No, my value is found in God and in Him alone. He looks on me with love and devotion each day.  He does the same with you too friend.  Whether you believe in Him or not, that doesn’t change His opinion of you or His passion for you.

“How precious also are your thoughts about me , O God! They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them! They outnumber the grains of sand!

                                                         Psalms 139:17-18

 Oh how I needed to hear that! Even though I don’t measure up, God loves me. The same God who walks with me when I am running carefree through life, carries me when I don’t have the strength to face another day. When Satan reminds me of all my failures, mishaps, and mistakes, telling me that I don’t matter, God reminds me of the cross and says, “Yes you do!” Just because I falter doesn’t mean I lose.

“We are pressed on every side, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not abandoned. Stuck down, but NOT destroyed.

                                                              2 Corinthians 4:8

So today was ugly, but it ended pretty spectacular.  Maybe you had an ugly day too. Perhaps you feel insignificant and unimportant. Life has left you beaten and scarred. The weight of your failures makes each day a struggle. But take hope. Our scars and bruises are not there to show others that we have failed , they are there to remind us that God never left us in our darkest.

Being a redhead, naturally my favorite book of all time is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Poor Anne struggled all through her life trying to find who she was and overcome a life of disappointments, heartaches, and failures. However, Anne never felt defeated. My favorite quote of hers is “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.”  I love those words! I have them tapped to my mirror at home, in my bible, my car, and my desk at work.  Each day we are given a brand new beginning. A fresh start. God wipes the slate clean and we are given a beautiful fresh canvas to write on. Satan wants to tarnish it by brining up our past, regrets, mistakes, and all our failures, BUT we can choose to not listen and refuse to let our fresh start be halted.

Maybe I am the only one who needed this today. But I imagine that some of you out there feel the same way. The struggle is real and I know the enemy will attack again. But I also know the One who has overcome the enemy. I promise to pray for you and you pray for me.

And remember…. it is just a bad day…NOT a bad life.

A Dream Deferred

Longings. Dreams.  Desires.  Hopes. Wishes. Life Goals.    From an early age we are taught that we need something to aspire to, something to reach for. Some of those dreams are accomplished early, or on time and then are checked off our dream Inventory Check List.

But some… some dreams always seem just out of our reach.  Just beyond the grasp of our fingers.  For whatever reason, life happens and the dream is pushed to the back burner, or even worse,  we are made to believe by worldly chatter that the dream is foolish and unobtainable.  We share our dreams with those we love with great fire and passion, only to have the spark diminished with a few short words. Continue reading