It’s a Good Day to Shine…

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there lived a princess.  Actually, the whole land was filled with many princesses, queens and assorted royalty figures.  This princess in particular, did not live the life that you would expect a princess to live.  She did not live in a luxurious castle.  She did not have satiny flowing gowns or glass slippers to flaunt at the local castle country club.  She was not chauffeured around town a in a beautiful carriage with handsome, buff footmen.  She did not have attendants doe ting over her and making sure that her every whim was met before even the thought escaped her mind.

In reality, this princess lived in the small castle of a commoner.  She worked long hours doing the exhaustive physical labor that other royal figures in the land preferred not to do.    She cleaned toilets, scrubbed floors, washed windows and made the castles in the land sparkle.  Because she did and even enjoyed doing this, she was thought of as more of a peasant, rather than a princess.  People would often give their demands without even giving her the time of day.  Instead of being appreciated and esteemed, she was overlooked and pushed aside when it came to being included as a valuable part of the lives of those that she served.

This princess was also a mother to four little royalty figures and the wife of a prince, each of whom came with a list of assorted duties to be completed each day.  Life in the castle of the princess was very difficult.  Circumstances behind the castle walls were such, that the members of this royal family often felt overwhelming stress.  The princess would relish in the brief moments of solitude that she would find in the early morning hours of each new day.  She would shed her tears and try to find the strength needed to face the day once again.  The reality was that there were no fast solutions or really much hope that life would get easier anytime soon.

One day in particular, the princess was having a very difficult time holding back the stream of moisture that attempted to spill over onto her cheeks.  Overwhelming feelings of fear, helplessness and hopelessness were more than she could bear this day.  She was not able to put on her normal happy face.  Instead of warm smiles and cheerful greetings, those she encountered received a sad, silent glance, which was so unlike the princess.

The sky was particularly cloudy and dark on this day, not typical to this enchanted land.  The princess directed her chariot towards the castles of those she would serve.  As she rounded a curve in the road, a bright beam of sunlight suddenly broke through the gray clouds blinding her for a brief instant.  She had a very special unforgettable, life changing moment that gloomy morning, right there in her chariot.  The sun instantly bathed her in warmth like a hug.  A peaceful presence seemed to fill her chariot.  She felt refreshing strength bubble up from within her as she heard these words.  “Remember who you are.  I made you to shine.  Just as the sun is still shining behind the clouds on the gloomiest day and in the darkest storm, so should you still shine.”

Yes, the princess was still a princess, even though she was not living in one of those fancy castles, even though she did not live the luxurious life of a princess, even though she labored long and hard each day, even though the circumstances in her royal family were difficult.  It did not change the fact that she was indeed a princess.  She was made to shine.

That day, the princess determined to do what she was made to do, no matter what.  Not that she never again felt discouraged or that she could not be sad when circumstances dictated for her to be sad.  She just needed to remember who she was made to be.  Regardless of her place in life and whatever was going on around her, she would be who she really was.

How does this story relate to you?  She was not the only princess in the land.  There was nothing special about this princess.  There were many princes and princesses.  The whole land was filled with royalty!  They were all made to be royal people, all with value and purpose, all with their own unique circumstances.  No matter what the place or position – they were made to shine.  That includes you, too!  Remember who you are.  Be who you were made to be.  Choose to let it be a good day to shine.

Shine on…

Tequila Makes You Crawl – A Fairytale About Falling Down

Once upon a time in a land far away, a young handsome prince set out on a journey.  The royal prince dreamed of a getaway by the sea, one of complete relaxation in a beautiful destination, also very far away.  Leaving behind a multitude of cares, the prince traveled for many days before he arrived at the castle that would be his brief place of solitude and escape.

After such a long journey, his tummy was craving a savory morsel of the sweet food and refreshing drink that this enchanted land was known for.  The first stop after approving the accommodations for his stay was the castle lounge.  Number one on the list of “must haves,” was the sweet nectar of the agave plant mixed with lime and a hint of salt, on the rocks, of course.  Second on the list for the prince was an appetizing treat consisting of the hot, spicy peppers, red, succulent tomatoes and zesty avocados, served with warm, crispy chips.  The anticipation had been building from the moment his journey had started many days before.  His mouth watered as he waited to be served.  He was settling in for seven days of bliss, observing the splendor of his surroundings and grateful for the opportunity to be in such a magnificent place.  In not such a great haste, after all, that’s the way of this land, his desires were met and tummy indulged. “Awe…”  love the feel the Agave gives…  His holiday had officially begun!

Each day, the prince experienced the luxurious surroundings of his oasis where the desert meets the sea.  Lazy days were spent by the many beautiful pools, listening to the soothing sounds of nearby waterfalls and thundering waves. Early morning and evening walks were had along the oceans soft, sandy beaches.  The prince gazed at beautiful sunrises and sunsets.   The warm ocean breezes gently caressed his body as the cool ocean spray misted his cheeks.  Life was good for the prince.., but he wanted more of all that is good.  More of that sweet Agave nectar called to him and seemed to seal each day with a kiss.

One wonderful morning in particular, the prince learned there was a holiday celebration in the land.  He too, desired to celebrate with the people of the land, and, of course, in the same fashion as the people in the land.  When it was understood that the celebrating would include more of the sweet agave nectar and more of the spicy succulent fruits of the land, he was ecstatic!

There was a very famous place in land, well known for its production of a great variety of exotic drinks that featured the sweet agave nectar.  The prince made haste to visit this place as early in the day as was reasonable, without appearing over zealous.  The prince was very pleased with his experience.  He was so pleased that not long after he had departed, he heard himself saying, “I want to go back!” and that is just what he did.  Truth be told, he went back not just once or twice, but three times that day he indulged his passion.

The sweet agave nectar was now pulsating through his veins and overtaking his senses.  He was feeling the sense of freedom that the agave brings.  He was laughing lavishly as he strolled along the narrow streets and stumbled over the crooked sidewalks of the city. He was not considering that he may have become impaired. He was being overtaken by his passions; he allowed himself to be drawn to the dark side of his soul.

The prince found himself in a place that he really did not want to be, face down in the mire of a dark street.  His fine garments were now soiled.  The jewels that once glistened in the sun were now covered in soot.  Is this the place where royalty and beauty lies?  Is this the place you would expect to find a prince?

The Prince’s story is not what is so important here.  Important are the questions that arise from this story, the reasoning that takes place in your own mind.  What do you do when you find yourself in this place?  Do you stay with your face buried in the mire? Do end your journey by choosing to stay on the ground?  Maybe you should stay there for a little while, agonizing in your defeat and disappointment of yourself.  Maybe you deserve to stay there.  You don’t deserve to get up and walk on.   You deserve punishment of some kind.   Shouldn’t there be a period of mourning before you allow yourself to get up and go put on clean royal clothing, some kind of penance paid?

Isn’t that how we are in this life, in our culture, maybe?  When we, ourselves or someone we know screws up, should they be allowed to just go on with their life?  Don’t we expect something from those who for cause us disappointment?  We look for signs of remorse and certain attitudes or actions to see if they are truly deserving of our approval, before they can go on with life?

Consider the fallen politician or minister.  What about the alcoholic or addict who relapses for yet another time?  Of course, we can’t forget the sports figure who allows his inappropriate passions to rule over good judgment, or even the co-worker who fails to produce what is expected.  What about the spouse who never gets anything right or has just become boring and not enough anymore?  What about the parent who was abusive or neglectful, or just not good enough?  Don’t they owe us something before they are allowed to gain access to our good graces once again?

We make it hard enough for people who have fallen to get back up again, but consider your own struggle when you are that person.  It takes an internal war to muster enough strength to lift your own face out of the mire to see sunlight again.  When you finally raise yourself up on your knees and begin to crawl, should others let you or do they push you back down again?  Have you paid your own debt to yourself?

What about grace? Mercy?  Forgiveness?  Love?  When is it OK for us to allow these to come into play, or should they just always be expressed, unrestrained?

What happened to the prince from our tale?  He got up.  He got up as fast as he could?  Despite the internal battle that told them he did not deserve to put on clean royal clothing again, he did it anyway.  He chose to walk on to a new day, vowing to not allow himself to be found on the ground again.  What would good would it do to stay face down in the mire?  What good would it do for him to wait for the people of the land to approve the timing for his return to his position of royalty? After all, he was born as royalty and he would die as royalty.

The moral of this story: When you fall down, be quick to get back up.  When your friends, family or leaders fall down, be quick to help them get back up.

Who is in your life that is keeping you down?  Who is helping you get up?

Who in your life doesn’t deserve to get up?  Who can you help get up?

1 + 1 = 3, The God Factor

OK, so anyone who grew up with me knows that math was never my thing.  I did indeed develop a reputation for not being able to add anything to anything and the answer be something that any other person on the planet would have come up with.  As a matter of fact, just the word math and having to look at numbers on a piece of paper and know I am expected to do something with them, will cause me to instantly break out in sweat.

As a child growing up, our family moved just about every year.  Each new school was at a different place in the text book.  That isn’t such a big deal if you’re talking science or history, but if you’re talking math, it’s a big deal.  By the time I hit third grade, I had missed being taught key pieces of information that are necessary to be able to do certain types of problems.

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Beltz.  She told me to never forget her name, and I never did.  She had red potted geraniums all along the classroom window sill, which she meticulously cared for.  Mrs. Beltz was all about her own controlling head trip rather than taking the time to meet students where they were at to address individual needs.  This was years ago (refraining from inserting the word “many” and certainly avoiding using a number), so it was not an issue of class room size and not having the time.  Mrs. Beltz would make me miss lunch and recess to finish math problems. I can still see the chalk board filled with numbers that I was supposed to be doing something with, but I had no clue as to what.  What I was seeing, I had never seen before and no one was explaining it to me.

Imagine the frustration that little third grade girl felt as she sat hungry and alone in a classroom while all her friends laughed and played just outside the window.  Just look at her sitting in that big clunky old desk.  Those little freckled cheeks, that long silky brunette hair, those big green eyes…  She was just a little flower bud that just needed a little care before she would bloom.  All I can say is, “Mrs. Beltz, your geraniums stink.”  Thus, my issue with numbers and geraniums continues to this day.

You might be asking, “What does God have to do with numbers?”  Well, actually one of his books is called Numbers, so I guess he does care about them, not to forget the fact that numbers are referred to often in all of his books.  Why did I seem to get over looked, even left out in the numbers game?   Why are numbers so tough for me?

Why did so many bad things happen to me?  How many other women are out there that can say they’ve been raped, verbally and physically abused, cheated on and twice divorced?  Who has had to live years with addiction and alcoholism?  Don’t forget the cancer scares and near death experiences for myself and my children.  There are many who have lost loved ones and have had family members with disease, mental health issues, or who have been imprisoned. But how many have had all of this happen to them in their life?  I say I’m on the wrong side in this numbers game.

So where does God fit in my world, you might ask?  He is my world and he rocks my world!  Yes, I have questions without answers. Yes, not everything makes sense or adds up.  Much of it was brought on by my own stupidity and bad judgment.  Even still, I can say that through it all, I have NEVER been let down.  I have NEVER been alone.  I have NEVER lost hope.

Of course, there was much pain and many tears.  There were periods of intense anger and frustration, but I made it.  No, the pain has not ended.  Yes, there are ongoing trials, but I know that no matter what I can say, God is my faithful friend.  God is my loving Father.  I know I will make it.  Without him, I wouldn’t want life to continue.  It is the math that doesn’t make sense.  No matter what the numbers are, no matter what the problem, for me, the answer always equals my God.  Yep, he’s mine, but he’s big enough to share with you and the whole world!

Oh, and Mrs. Beltz, if you are listening, I forgive you.

Sharing this music video with you, not only because it is a great song, but for a much bigger reason.  Years ago, I got a collect call from one of my sons.  He was in prison at the time.  He called and asked me to call a radio station he was listening to from his cell and request this song.  Even for him, in a dark time in his life, God was still God.



It’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It…

OK, so remember that I said I wanted to be open here, in hopes that it would help someone else.  Today, I am doing that.  We all have struggles in life and often the tendency when things get really tough is to isolate ourselves, bury the pain and try to move on with life.  We can feel pretty alone that way.  Since we won’t talk about our ‘junk”, we don’t always realize that there are others out there that are experiencing the same kind of “junk”.  Our own little world becomes just that, a life consumed by our own little world.  I’ve spoken about the band aids that we use to cover our wounds, but we often don’t allow them to heal.  I’ve learned that talking and sharing is healing, thus, my post today.  Just hoping you’ll still love me in the morning.

Here goes, you know the long story…  It all started when I was born, some years ago now.  (Numbers aren’t important in this story.)  I was the firstborn of five.  We weren’t well off, but had what we needed and were well cared for.  Practically raised in church, three to four or more times a week, that’s where you would find our family.  I am very thankful for parents who did the best that they could with what they had, plus some.  Besides their own five to deal with, we often had foster children in our home and I can vouch that between all of us, we kept “adventure” happening for my parents.  Amazingly, they live to tell about it today.

My story is not so unusual until the teenage years.  There were many events and details that I will share at later times, but today, for the purpose of getting to know each other a little better, you get the nutshell version.  Why would you want to know anything about me?  Well maybe you don’t, but my purpose here is to build relationships and that involves getting to know each other.  I just get to go first because it’s my blog.

My first job at the age of 14 was a paper route.  I delivered the local news, hot off the press.  After school each day, I strapped the clumsy bag to my bike handle bars, along with my ring of paper route cards and hole punch.  F.Y.I., I was a very stylish looking paper girl at the time.

Getting out into the world means that you get exposed to things.  There are some pretty nasty people out there and one of them had their eye on me. One day on my paper route, I was assaulted and raped at knife point.  That day had a huge affect on the rest of my teen and adult years.  A single event took me into a tailspin journey of negative, life altering decisions, all because I kept the event hidden.  I was afraid.  When I came home crying and muddied, my excuse to my mom was that some kids had jumped me on a path I took through the woods.  I never revealed my secret until years later.  We will leave that as a discussion for another day.

The rape led to an intense need to feel better about myself.  I worked hard to gain approval from others.  I took responsibility for everything that went wrong around me as if it was my job to make it all better.  I got involved in several bad relationships which included two bad marriages to alcoholics and addicts, naturally followed by divorces.  The marriages involved all forms of abuse.  I’ve been physically beaten, verbally degraded and had knives thrown at my head while I screamed, just so someone could be amused.  I’ve slept with a knife hidden in the bed railing, just in case I would need to protect myself.  I’ve known the fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, looking and dressing the wrong way, smiling at the wrong time.  I understand the betrayal of someone who is supposed to love you, sharing that love with another, more than once.  Yes, those will also be other stories for other times.  Let’s just say this.  I’ve truly learned most of my life lessons the hard way.

Following the divorces were the single parent years.  Struggling to raise two kids and provide financially on your own, as many of you know, is not easy.  Trying to do the teeter totter balancing act often puts you on the end of the board with your but on the ground.  Then life throws a boulder hitting the other side of the board and throws you spinning, uncontrollably through the air.  It can be scary, lonely, overwhelming…  Again, more stories for another time.

Hold on a minute.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  It’s going to start getting better.  The knight in shinning armor part is coming, and no, the armor is not really just tin foil.  Yes, a story for next time…

Anyone out there relate to any of this???