“SHE BELIEVED SHE COULD SO SHE DID.”
I saw this catchy sentence on an office decoration at Hallmark today. Our living room, bedroom, and maybe another room or two are filled with a steady dose of daily affirmations. I usually pass up this one and opt for a Bible verse instead. However I really was “feeling” this one today.
Much of my life has been a struggle in believing in myself. That’s my own fault, and I know better.
I was raised by a loving and encouraging family. My husband gives me all the support in the world to chase my dreams. My stepson encourages me with wisdom beyond his 19 years. I am surrounded by uplifting friends in my daily walk of life. My personal and professional accomplishments over my 44 years are great blessings, but I wonder sometimes if I deserve them. It’s been quite the struggle. I’m ready for this struggle with self-confidence to end.
My devotional reading a couple of days ago really spoke to my heart. God meant for me to read His words at 6:29 a.m. this past Sunday morning as I sat in silence surrounded by the dim light from the rising sun.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
How many times have I read those words and not let them truly sink in? How many times have I thought, “That’s meant for HER future, not mine.” Or, “HE will prosper. I’m meant to be ordinary.”
As I sat there and let those words envelope my quiet moment, I realized something that I should have known all along. Those words were meant for ME as well.
I can imagine God letting out a big sigh and shaking His head at me. “Finally, she gets it.”
See, God wants my life to be far from ordinary. He wants YOUR life to be far from ordinary. He has given each of us unique and special gifts of the spirit. My gift is different from yours. Yours is different from mine. When we stop comparing our gifts and talents to those of others, we experience such a confident freedom. My light does not dim yours, and your light does not dim mine. Same as trying to extinguish your light does not make mine brighter. When we embrace the fact that God wants EACH of us to LEARN our talents, USE our talents, and CELEBRATE our talents, we experience a joy like no other.
When I started writing this post my intention was to share some exciting projects I’m working on. That will come in time. I can say I am thankful but choose to remain grateful and humble. I am a work in progress, and so are you. It is most important to me that you take away from this message you are someone AMAZING in the eyes of God.
You are like no other, and you are PERFECT to Him.
“Free to a good home”.
Those words are never promising. Why is the dog free? Is he laden with fleas and infectious diseases? Does he chew up every piece of fabric he can fit in his mouth? Is he incontinent by choice and loves to mark up every inch of the house? So many reasons floated around in my head. However, I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful black puppy on my computer screen.
My friend and co-worker, Tanner, sent out a company-wide email asking for interest in her black lab-mix puppy she needed to re-home due to personal reasons. She said “Kobe” was a healthy and well-behaved two-year-old lab/pit/pug mix. She bragged on his manners and sweet disposition. He was great with other animals and kids. He sounded pretty perfect. So, what was the catch? Certainly there had to be one. I was very intrigued by this pup with the soulful brown eyes and the ears that didn’t quite match his head.
Steve and I had been looking at local shelter websites and the Atlanta Humane Society. Our home was a little too quiet when Keegan wasn’t with us, and we both enjoyed the company of a small dog. Still, I was cautious because I knew he didn’t want us to get too far over our heads with an expensive or time-consuming animal. I took a chance and sent Steve the black puppy with the soulful brown eyes. I was anticipating him to say I was crazy for wanting a dog and we just couldn’t afford it time or money-wise.
Within about two minutes my email queue “dinged” with his reply.
“We can look at him tonight if you want.”
It was 4 p.m., and I got off work at 5:30 p.m. This was going to be a painfully slow 90 minutes! My stomach started to get butterflies. Steve’s simple but affirmative response made me giddy. Oh my, how I wanted the companionship of a sweet little dog to fill our life and home!
BUT, Kobe had to be a good fit for us AND us for him.
We stop for dinner after work and discuss the pros and cons about pet ownership. IF Kobe was a good match, he would be the first pet we adopted together. Would our work schedules realistically accommodate an animal? Would he be ok alone at home for 8 hours or more? Were there any behavioral problems? Would my allergies and asthma stay irritated all of the time? So many things to think about. Still, those eyes danced in my mind. Those Kobe eyes.
We arrived at Tanner’s and were greeted by her other dog, a collie mix named Suki. Suki was up for rehoming as well but already had several inquiries. Steve sat on the floor in his work suit and played with him. Kobe, on the other hand, was wagging his tail with shy curiosity.
“Kobe, come!” Tanner called to him. He immediately bounded over to her and put his little paws on her knees.
“He’s such a great dog. I really hate to let him go.” Tears welled up in Tanner’s eyes. She had such a tender heart. I knew this was hard for her.
“What’s his story, Tanner?” Steve asked while rubbing Suki’s ears.
“He’s a rescue from Fulton County Animal Control. Literally, a rescue from death row.”
Kobe was in the very last kennel in the back row of kennels. He had been passed up for adoption for several days. He wasn’t fluffy, fancy, or attention-seeking. He didn’t do special tricks. He was just a black dog who sat patient and quiet. He even held his pee for hours and hours. He refused to make a mess.
And those eyes…
A friend of Tanner’s who worked at the shelter called her with tearful desperation in his voice one Saturday.
“Tanner, please PLEASE come get this dog. I beg of you,” Her friend pleaded.
“I already have one. Why do you want me to get this particular dog?”
“Tanner, you’ve GOT to see this sweet boy. His name is Kobe. He’s the BEST DOG I’ve seen here. He’s got these eyes. They stare right through you. He’s got the most gentle spirit. He’s just special.”
He paused, wiping away tears before he continued.
“I have to put him down today if you don’t get him. Please Tanner. Just get here.”
Tanner DID save precious Kobe’s life, thank God. One look at those eyes, one soft touch of that trusting head and those velvet ears and she was in love. But life was changing for her quickly as a young professional woman, and she wanted to make sure Kobe had all the love he deserved if she couldn’t give it to him.
“Hi Kobe! Hi buddy!” Kobe trotted excitedly over to Steve and put his cheek next to Steve’s hand. We both gently played with him and the bond was so instantaneous that it was almost spooky.
“Wow, those eyes for sure.” Steve knew we’d found our new four-legged companion.
Kobe is 13 now, and we wish we could freeze time. He’s our mascot in many ways. He’s traveled the country going to Steve’s shifter kart races. He gets the first bite of hot dog off the grill. He loves the smell of sweet Southern pines. A favorite destination is the Blue Ridge Parkway with Mommy and Daddy. He loves a good car ride. He also loves to come home. He will wake up from a deep sleep and almost anticipate every turn when he smells our Georgia neighborhood.
He’s my companion when Steve is out of town. He’s Steve’s constant little teddy bear when he’s home. He loves to cuddle on Steve while we watch TV, watch the snow fall on a winter day, or while quietly reading a book.
He’s an ambassador of sorts. He knows when you’ve had a long and frustrating day. He gives you the most special cuddles then. He also can tell when other animals need a little extra TLC. He refused to leave the side of our sick cat during a thunderstorm one spring night. The next day our cat passed away. Kobe knew. He also would stay near and look terribly concerned when our other dear rescue dog was struggling in his last days. Kobe knew then, too.
He loves everyone he meets. He wins over the crustiest of curmudgeons with his soft brown eyes. There’s a common phrase we hear that will indeed follow him into the lap of Jesus. We say all the time,
“Everybody loves Kobe.”
Probably most memorable, we adopted Kobe during a time when Steve really missed his little boy. Keegan was in elementary school at the time, a very tender age. We wanted more time with Keegan, but life and the court system are cruel dictators of when many men can see their kids. An animal can’t replace a child by any stretch of the imagination, but Kobe helped ease the sting of the pain a bit. It’s as if…Kobe knew.
Actually, it was all part of a divine plan.
I’m too old to say “I literally can’t even”. Well, it is my blog, so I’m going to go ahead and say, I literally can’t even begin to describe the hand of God and his amazing work in our lives over the past two weeks. I am going to certainly try though! I am going to try my human best to describe the POWER of our Heavenly Father and give you my very best recall of his promises fulfilled.
Many attendees of the Indianapolis 500 will describe the 2018 race as one of the hottest on record. Race day was mighty warm, and the entire week and weekend before the race were equally uncomfortable. The humidity was high as well and just seemed to sap the energy right out of my 44-year-old body.
Practice, Pole Day, and Qualifying are usually spent standing on the spectator line in front of the track wall. Steve and I usually stand there for hours and take pictures of the drivers and cars, all of which are just a few feet away from us. This year, I had a hard time with the near suffocating heat and I had to take breaks in the shade. I decided to walk to the infield Pagoda/food court area and sit under an umbrella at an empty picnic table. A few minutes later, a group of six asked if they could sit at the table with me. I say “of course” and they sit down with their lunch.
Before they start eating, the gentleman who asked if they could sit with me asks the group if they could say a quick prayer to bless the meal. Out of respect I bow my head as well. The prayer was heart-felt and Christ-centered. Very rarely do you hear others pray Christian prayer in public these days, especially when in the presence of a stranger. I was moved and intrigued. I have been a follower of Christ since kindergarten (Thank you Mrs. Haupt and Mrs. Gutekunst) but became passive about my walk with God for nearly two decades. My husband, stepson, and I have rededicated our lives to Christ, so hearing others share their faith makes me feel an immediate bond to them.
I tried not to eavesdrop on their lunch, but I could tell the man who led the prayer was a group leader of some kind and he was having fellowship with a family. I would discover later that the man who led the prayer was speaking words of hope, faith, and encouragement into the lives of a family who recently lost their teenage daughter to an automobile accident.
I tried to busy myself with apps on my phone, but I wanted to reach out to them. I wanted to let them know something about this prayer and the gentle words of compassion spoke to me as well. As they got up to leave I felt shyness come over me and I didn’t want to appear awkward and nosy. I shushed the nagging whisper in my head and I extended my hand to the group leader anyway.
“Sir, I overheard your prayer with the group. I just want to tell you how awesome it is to hear a fellow believer not ashamed of his faith.”
He shook my hand and introduced himself. He thanked me for my words and for allowing him and his guests to sit at the table with me. I told him it was absolutely no problem and I’m glad our paths crossed. I noticed the logo on his shirt, “Kingdom Racing”. I had seen the name in the racing community, but expressed that I didn’t know much about them. He handed me one of business cards and it read, “Tim Carrie – Outreach Director” at Kingdom Racing. We wished each other a pleasant day.
When I met up with Steve again I told him about my pagoda picnic table experience and showed him Tim’s card. Steve recognized the logo and knew a bit more about them than I did. He reads everything about Indy Car whether online or in print and he had seen the name pop up occasionally. More notably, as a Christian he was very taken with the humble interaction I had with them. We agreed to keep the organization in our prayers. Little did we know that God was going to keep our paths crossing with Kingdom’s over the next week…
Part Two coming soon! I can’t wait to tell you all about meeting Tim’s lovely wife, the Del Canto Family, and a powerful prayer with a young and popular renewed follower of Jesus who is also an Indy Car driver. ALL of this wonderful experience ties into our memorable Indy 2018 as a Blended Family.