“Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.” Gene Hill
I didn’t know when you woke up Sunday morning that it would be your last good day. It was a gorgeous day and you got to spend it doing your favorite things – sunbathing, barking at the annoying dog next door through the fence, and sticking your head through the spot in the fence with the missing board. When I came home that afternoon to check on you, you were laying in your favorite spot on the porch, ears alert and tail wagging. You always were such a happy boy.
You were 6 weeks old when you joined our family. My dad and brother went to pick you out and said that you and your sister were the only puppies who ran out of the kennel and started playing with them. It was almost as if you were the one who chose us. It was evident from the very beginning what a gentle, loving, and loyal dog you were. You were fiercely protective of those you loved and provided me with a sense of security everyday.
Watching you age was a beautiful journey. The changes were seemingly slow until one day everything was different. One day you could jump up on everything, the next you had trouble. The red on your coat faded in some spots, mainly on your face, and white took its place. The skin on your face began to sag, so much so that water would dribble out of the side of your mouth whenever you would drink. But through it all, you remained the same happy, amazing dog that you always were.
I miss you buddy. I miss the way you were my little shadow and would follow me all around the house. I miss looking down and seeing you at my feet. I miss seeing your face through the glass on the front door every time I pull into the driveway. I miss the way you would ever so softly bite my hand in the mornings when you needed to go outside. Even when you needed something you were always so polite. I miss the way you would completely burrow yourself into someone whenever you wanted to cuddle or the way you would rest your head on my knee when I was working. I miss hearing you walk on the hardwood floors throughout the night when you would pace and protect your home. I miss the way you would sit by the front door but then come peek your head into the bedroom to make sure I was ok before settling down in the hallway. I miss finding you in the most ridiculous places anytime it was raining and thundering.
I’ll miss how excited you would get when we had company over, especially if it was the rest of your family. Family dinners were your favorite. I’ll miss watching how gentle you were with my nieces and nephew, even when they got on your nerves. I’ll miss the way you became like a little puppy again anytime my dad or brothers were around you. I’ll miss the way you let me put silly things on your head and celebrate different occasions with you.
For 12 years, you were my pal. A constant friend. You were by my side through graduations, hurts, new jobs, lost relationships, and new friendships. You let me know everyday that you loved me. Losing you marks the end of a season for me, and things will never quite be the same. My grandpa once said that there are some things that you can only tell a loving God and a loving dog. I don’t know that there could be anything truer said of you.
You started getting sick 6 months ago. We weren’t sure what was wrong but it was so hard to deal with knowing that you wouldn’t be with us much longer. Every time you had a bad spell, we thought that maybe this was it, but you somehow were able to bounce back. During the week of Thanksgiving you had your worst spell. Your whole family came over to tell you goodbye. We cuddled you and told you what a good boy you were. I asked God to let you die peacefully and pain free at your own home. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to make the decision to put you down. Somehow you got your strength back and lived for 2 more months. We celebrated your 12th birthday in December, and you got to spend one more Christmas with your family.
Even in your death God showed His faithfulness to me and proved once again that He cares about the things we care about and is intimately involved in every detail of our lives. When you woke up on Monday morning, I knew something was wrong. You were sick again, but this time it was different than the other times. The life in your eyes was gone. I got the chance to love on you and tell you what a good dog you were. You made eye contact with me, the first time that day, and then I watched you breathe your last breath. I like to think you were telling me goodbye.
My sweet Archie boy, I consider it a gift to have been your mama for 12 years. You taught me so much about unconditional love, and I can only hope that you knew how loved you were as well. Rest in peace little buddy. You were the best dog a girl could have. Thank you for being so loyal, loving, protective, and gentle. You had a kind heart and sweet spirit, and I am 100% certain that there will never again be another dog like you. I’ll miss you.
December 18, 2002 – January 26, 2015
I can’t believe January is already half way over. If this month has been any indicator of how fast this year will go by, we will be celebrating a new year and planning new goals and dreams before we know it. I have sat down several times over the past few weeks in an attempt to write some kind of inspiring new years post about the resolutions I have set for myself this year and my “one word” for 2015 but have found myself to be in a place where I didn’t really know what those were yet. I feel like 2015 crept up on me and I didn’t even have the time to stop and reflect on the past year and really seek God for His plans for 2015.
Over the past 2 weeks I have had the chance to take a minute and really think about this new year and write down a few goals and dreams that I have. 2014 was an interesting year for me, one that was full of a lot of celebrations and happiness yet also full of disappointments and perceived setbacks. If I was honest, starting a new year was hard for me because I feel like I’m further behind than I was at the beginning of 2014. I felt so discouraged on New Years Eve that it was hard to celebrate the new year. I didn’t feel ready and just kept wishing I could turn back time and re-do 2014.
What I have realized about myself this past year and in the disappointment that I felt several times throughout 2014 was that I still struggle so much with tying my self-worth to my accomplishments. I make lists and resolutions, all in the vain attempt to create a “better” version of myself in order to feel like I matter more or am more worthy of being loved and accepted. I measure my success as a Christian based off of how hard I am pursuing God’s will and the visible evidence of His favor in my life. So when I have years like 2014 and I seem to have taken 20 steps backwards instead of forward, I feel as if I have disappointed God in some way which creates feelings of guilt and shame. The last few months of the year I basically pushed God away, neglecting to spend time with Him because I couldn’t deal with feeling like I let Him down by not accomplishing enough that year. I didn’t want to expose my vulnerable heart to Him just in case He didn’t like what He saw.
So a new year is here. I have prayed and listened and waited, expecting to hear my word for 2015. What does God want me to focus on, work towards, and pursue this year? I read blogs from women that I admire and respect and felt jealous as they shared their words for the New Year : give, love, go, fun, hope, faithful – beautiful words that speak to God’s purposes for their lives. So again I waited and asked God to show me what He wants from me this year. I have gone through the past 2 weeks completely frustrated feeling like I didn’t have a plan yet for the year, feeling like I was already falling behind those who knew their mission for the year and took off on January 1st ready to conquer their worlds.
I was driving home this past Wednesday night when a song came on that I hadn’t heard in awhile. It’ s an old hymn and the first words sung were “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.” Immediately I started crying and knew right then what I need to focus on this year. Rather than constantly analyzing what I am doing for God, I need to lean in to the work He is doing and partner with Him to accomplish His will. I tend to get too caught up in what I am doing FOR God that sometimes I forget to just be WITH God. Too many times I act like my walk with God is me “performing” while He marks things off a checklist rather than remembering that I simply need to abide with God and work with Him to see His purpose fulfilled on this earth. I need to open up my heart to the Healer and allow Him to speak life and truth over the broken pieces that still try to earn His love and grace. I need to be set free from any part of me that still needs my life to look a certain way in order to gain the approval of others, because you can either learn to die TO the opinion of man, or you will eventually die FROM the opinion of man. I will refocus my eyes on Jesus and let all things fade away until it is just me and Him. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, He has proven that He is trustworthy to me over and over again, and this year I will walk in the abundant life that is being one with Christ. I will stop feeling like a failure and allowing that to stop any progress I’m making any time I mess up but rather give myself the grace to live free and know that He is on my side and we are working together to bring His light and love to this earth. Sure I have goals for this year and things I would like to accomplish, but none of those things matter unless they are the result of my partnership with Christ rather than my attempt to earn His affections. So everyday I will repeat these words to myself until they are sealed in my heart – Lean in Angela. Lean in.
Ok 2015. I’m a little late to the game, but I’m ready for you.