Sunday, December 30, 2018

To All Those Who Feel Worthless Out There--You Are Not Alone!

This post is a long time coming, and I will do my best to be articulate, yet genuine.

For most of my life, I have felt like I was a mistake.  I just knew that God had not meant for me to exist.  You see, my parents didn't plan to have me.  Like many exploring young adults (like YA was a thing then) in the 70s, they married out of social convention after my mother got pregnant.  As often happens, it wasn't enough to sustain a marriage, and they divorced quickly after.

To be honest, I hadn't even thought through the idea that I might have been an accidental pregnancy until, at the age of thirteen, my step-father revealed this information to me.  I don't know if he wanted me to feel closer to him through this revelation, but there would be many like this over the years, and needless to say, the effects were often heated resentment toward him and a growing feeling of worthlessness in me.

The long-term consequences of our childhood epiphanies--good and bad--are often haunting and, in certain circumstances, devastating.  They can lead to addictions, dysfunctional adult relationships, and even settling for less than we deserve.  These are only a few of the ways those negative ideas from our past continue to shape a sometimes hopeless and sad future.  I know I've let those thoughts continue to make decisions for me.

That worthless feeling rears its ugly head in the way that I refuse a backrub from my husband because I don't feel like I deserve it more than anyone else, or the fact that I can't seem to ask for things I really, really want because I don't feel worthy to receive them.  Silly, I know.  It especially becomes sillier as I type it and tears form in my eyes.  Yet, the most dangerous way it shows up is in the way I deal with conflict.  I shrink like the most-baked shrinky-dink (there's a throw-back).  I give in almost every time because I don't feel worthy to state my reasoning.  In my mind, I immediately begin to justify why the other person is right and why I, clearly, am wrong--because I don't feel confident in my own mindset.

Now, the rational part of me (and, yes, there is one) tells me this is all negative thinking that I could easily overcome--if I would just make an effort.  But, instead, I choose to wallow in the self-loathing that feels like an itchy, yet familiar, wool blanket.

Then, today happened.  Now, this wasn't a complete cure, and it is something that has been building in the corners of my mind for some time now.  I listened, once more, to the Christmas story.  Not the "you'll shoot your eye out" Christmas Story, but the story of Jesus' birth from the Gospel of Luke.

Just to give a quick paraphrase, according to Luke, Jesus was born in something like a barn, among animals and in the hay and muck that made up such a place.  I have to wonder if Mary was irritated she had to give birth in such a place, but, like women are often expected to do, sucked it up and did what she had to do anyway.

To make things even more interesting, the first people the angels revealed the birth to were shepherds.  So what, right?  Why is that such a big deal?  It was a big deal because despite what we might believe about the benevolent job of a shepherd--the gentle souls who spent their time directing the sheep and keeping them safe--the profession was not highly regarded.  As a matter of fact, shepherds were usually the outcasts, not gentle souls at all.  They were the ones who couldn't find work doing anything else because they were often the degenerate youth.  They were not impressive in any sense of the word.  I'm just hazarding a guess here, but I would say there were times they felt pretty worthless.

Yet, the angels revealed the birth of the awaited Messiah to them first.  To the worthless--FIRST.

Why would God choose shepherds?  Why would He choose the worthless?  Why would he choose me?
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10

There it is. This is why He revealed Himself to shepherds first. It's why He chose the worthless. It's why He, much to my surprise, chose me. Accidental, mistake, worthless--me. And, it's why He, undoubtedly, chooses you.

This won't make the negative thoughts that ease their way into my conscious brain disappear. No, they still invade. I'm still a big, 'ol screw-up, and I mess things ups daily, including dealing with conflict, which leads to more negative thinking. That hasn't changed, and it won't any time soon. But, now, despite the fact that I still feel worthless, I know one thing is true. I have worth to the Creator of the universe. So much so, He revealed His birth to my kind first. To the worthless of society. I have an importance that is baffling--totally irrational--to the Savior, but it's beyond question now. It's right there in the story of His birth. It's throughout the New Testament. He came for me.

He came for you--no matter how worthless you feel. No matter how much you feel like a mistake, like an accident that should never have existed. He loves you anyway. He loves you with an extreme kind of love. He loves the broken, the worthless, the accidents of the world. These are the ones He came into this world to save. To Him, the last are first. You are first. You have great worth in His eyes, and nothing will ever change that.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In the Beginning...

I'm beginning a journey tonight.  For a long time, I've wanted to write inspirational non-fiction and fiction, but I've been so focused on other projects, I've let that goal slide.  No longer.  I've decided to create a series of writing prompts that begin with a Bible verse (or a few verses) and see where they take my writing (and maybe anyone else's who wants to play along).

So, to start things off, I thought I'd start at the beginning. I am using the English Standard Version of the Bible, and I'm pulling this particular set of verses from

Genesis 1:1-2:3English Standard Version (ESV)The Creation of the WorldIn the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and forseasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds[g] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Friday, June 19, 2015

#TISHS--Things I Should Have Said

Hindsight is 20/20.  This is what I should have said to the interviewer today.  Maybe I am a little "Pie in the Sky" optimistic and idealistic, but I'd rather be that than pessimistic and 'realistic.'  Without a little idealism, where would you get the vision to make the change you desire?

It's an extreme example, but for goodness' sake, without idealism, we'd still be hanging out in caves. So, maybe I didn't get the job, but if you're wondering how to enact change in your program, you have to start with a vision of what you want it to be.  And guess what?  That takes a little bit of idealistic thinking.

So, I wish you the best at finding exactly what you're looking for.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What Am I Missing?

So many things out there that I never knew existed.
A discovery makes it clear why someone first believed in reincarnation--There are just too many cool things out there to do and be for one lifetime. 

Thanks to the Ephemera Fest, I learned about the existence of "zines."  They are these artistic booklets of pictures and words, put together in thematic ways.  All I know is that, in this world, there was something I'd never experienced before, and it made me realize that I've become too domesticated in my little place in the spinning system.

I used to be a risk-taking, book-devouring, new-trying explorer and now my days consist of what I will eat and what part of the house I will clean.  It's enough to make a grown woman cry and cry and cry.

I want to laugh and learn.  I want to go places and do things--real things--that others are doing.  Maybe that's why I write.  I can live hundreds of lives through my writing.  Each time I begin a new book it is a version of reincarnation.

Maybe this time I'll get it write :)

But what am I missing?  Never stop learning is ingrained in me.  I couldn't stop even if I wanted to.  Yet, documentaries on TV aren't the same as living the experience.  How do I do it though?  I've got responsibilities and compromises to make.  How do I get out there and experience this life I've been given?  How do I make it matter?  I'm not necessarily talking about leaving a legacy.  How do I make my life fulfilling?

My grandmother knew hers was fulfilled because of the family she loved and the love she received in return.  Man, I really miss her.

Maybe I'm just hitting a crisis stage.  I didn't get the job.  So what?  So, now, if I want a position like it, I have to go out of my comfort zone and find some place else.  That's a good thing, right?  Then, why does it feel so wrong?

I think I stay in my comfortable world for fear--not of the unknown--but of the known.  There's an adjustment period with change, and I'm afraid this time won't be an easy switch.

The only thing missing is my courage.  Oh, and funds.  No funding for the wild, new, and crazy things either. :/

I guess it just gives me more time to write.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't Take Good Health for Granted

I've been very fortunate the past few years to receive good health reports from my many doctors. I've had several surgeries. Honestly, I never knew just how many times I could be poked in my right arm until the past couple of years.

I'm currently on about my sixth revision to my original Tram-flap surgery to make it more comfortable for me to show a little cleavage. I'm not talking about flirtation level. I just wanted to be able to wear more than a turtleneck for the rest of my life. I'm at that point and down to the final steps to finishing everything.

In the meantime, I've had to watch out for polyps on my uterine wall and fluid-filled cysts on my ovaries. Nevertheless, I'm blessed.  Yes, it's true. Perhaps not perfect, but my health is a priority to me. I have so much riding on it, and the past four and a half years have made that clear.

Go to those regular check-ups.  Perform those self-exams. And, of course, take the medicines and treatments seriously too.  Good health shouldn't be taken for granted. Others are counting on you to be here for them, even if they aren't saying it every day.

Stay healthy!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Little, Whispering Voice

There is no motivator like intense hopelessness, if you're naturally a hopeful person. 

Back in 2008, hubby and I decided to join a gym.  We went with one that was close by, had childcare, and gave us many options to get in shape.  Much as I would like to say we started our exercise regimen and stuck with it faithfully, the reality was we were often too tired to make it for a workout.

Yet, funny how things turn out because I was having one of the worst teaching years ever in my almost fifteen year career.  There are some groups of students you just don't click with, and this was one of two in my teaching career I dreaded working with daily.  Don't get me wrong, there were some amazing kids in this student group, but there were also some that delighted in causing as much mischief as they possibly could.

I was miserable, felt out of control and at the end of my rope.  So I began getting serious about something I could control--making time for the gym.  I'd heard at some point that exercise was an excellent stress reliever, and though I thought it was a long shot, I decided to give exercise a try.  At least two or three times a week, I would jump on the elliptical and do my best to push my stress out with the sweat.

As I got into a habit, I noticed I missed the activity if I didn't make it to the gym, and eventually, I was going four to five times a week.  My school year wasn't getting better unfortunately, but my anxiety level dropped.  The most beneficial part of adding an exercise routine started about six weeks into this major change in my life and continued for the next six months--I lost about twenty-five pounds.

It was awesome.  Everyone noticed--co-workers, family (especially hubby), and I noticed.

My stomach was getting flatter, my hips were getting narrower, and even my breasts were fitting in my bras and button-down shirts better.  I was excited to keep working toward my ideal weight.

Then, in September 2009, I was showering, and the thought popped into my head that I hadn't completed a self-exam on my breasts for years.  Yes, years.  It's easy just to go through your routine and think things will always be the way they've always been.  Why I thought to do a self-exam at that moment, I don't know.  I like to think it was an intervention from God.  I wasn't exaggerating when I said, I hadn't purposely examined my breasts for years, and though I'd been to my regular appointments, I hadn't since I'd begun to lose weight.

It was completely unexpected (I mean who really expects it?), but sure enough, I found a lump in my left breast.  Maybe it was because I'd lost so much weight that it was so noticeable to me now, but there it was--undeniably a golf ball size lump.

Two things about that time continue to make me wonder.  My weight-loss, though originally motivated by a tough day job, was probably the key to my being able to feel the lump, and the fact something greater than myself inspired me to find the lump.

Hard times might just be your wake-up call.  And, of course, listen to that little whispering voice.  It might just save your life.

More to come,


Friday, December 30, 2011

It's About Time

To say it's been awhile since I last posted is an understatement and a half, but my goal was to begin writing about my recent experience with breast cancer, and honestly, I don't think I was really ready.

Truth be told, given a hundred years to process that time in my life, I don't think I would still be ready, but I'm forging ahead anyway with the hopes that someday, someone reads this and it gives them a little hope to hold on to.

Where to begin was a little tricky.  Sure, I could start with the day I first discovered a lump in my breast or I could talk about the day I was diagnosed, but to really understand the devastation of the experience I needed to begin much earlier.

I had just finished my first undergraduate year at Eastern Kentucky University and was excited to begin my second summer as a camp cook at Aldersgate United Methodist Church Camp.  The previous summer had been one I would never forget, and I expected nothing less of the upcoming one.  Boy, was that calling the spring grass green.  I met my future husband that summer, and eighteen years and three children later, he's still my unforgettable hero.

At the time though, we were young, felt immortal, and rushed headlong into a romance.  As we grew closer, he told me his mother had battled cancer five years earlier, but that she was doing fine now.  Unfortunately, that changed very quickly in the fall.  I met her once.  Actually sat down and had a conversation with her.  I remember she had short, dark hair, a kind face, and a powerful love for her family.

One month later, she passed.  The cancer returned with a vengeance and took her very quickly.  It was a sad time for all.  I was there to support my then boyfriend as he went through the visitation and funeral.  My heart broke for his father, sister and him as they grieved, and though I knew there was nothing I could say or do to make things better, I attempted to be there for my boyfriend.

Looking back, two things about that time stand out to me now.  One rainy evening about a month after her death, I was driving to a creative writing class and had a fender bender.  After the police and insurance reporting was over, I skipped my class and went to my boyfriend's house to wait for him to arrive.  While there, I called my mother and gave her a tearful explanation of what had happened, after which I sat with my now father-in-law and apologized for crying.  He gave me a slight smile and said, "That's okay.  I've cried a little myself today."  Perspective in a second.

Unfortunately, the other thing that I remember about this time is that my future husband and I broke up.  We decided not to see each other any more.  He was sad, very sad, and though I'd tried to be supportive, he needed time alone.  I, of course, understood, though my heart was devastated.

Believe it or not, a month later, we were together again, and I had no lingering doubts about the relationship.  We were meant to be together.  I still feel I could search the world over and never find anyone as perfect for me than him.  He has proven time and time again that love is a very real and powerful force, and I thank God He brought us together.

So, this is where I knew I had to start.  That time was a roller-coaster of emotion, but without this backstory, meaning about my personal struggle with breast cancer years later would be lost.

Until next time,