Posted in Poetry, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

Word Before the Day

As I stumble upon morning, yet again, My throat parched,
My eyes cluttered with matter,
My heart half-awake –
I reach for your Word.
Well, first coffee; because…coffee
But always your Word.
And not out of habit.
Well, it IS my daily habit, but
That’s not my motivation.
No. My sweet, smiley,
Southern-belle-heart
Doesn’t always drink-in a
“Good” morning
So easily.
Whereas I don’t always
Feel “good” –
It is good.
Which is why your Word
Is necessary.
It brings life.

I’m 2 weeks into this
Quiet journey today,
Yet there are moments I,
Like the Israelites,
Prefer my “Egypt”-
Because
There is comfort in the familiar.

Truth-be-told
I’ve walked through this
Desert for 16 years and I, too
Have grumbled about
Mannah and quail.
But it has been my provision.
We’ve never missed a meal,
Nor had no roof over our heads.

But it’s time to cross over the Jordan.

My “Egypt” looked like
Men comforting me via text with
Hollow words that kept me
Wondering – and wandering.
My “Egypt” looked like
Words on a screen that
At first soothed, then
Scarred my heart.
My “Egypt” looked like
Delicious foods,
Pleasing to my mouth, yet
Horrible on my body.
Like spending too much,
Like being “liked” by strangers,
Like “I got this.”

But I don’t. Not really.
Not without my good, good Father.

When I awake at dawn
And find myself alone –
And find a message meant from
A concerned friend
Saying “you don’t have a husband because you don’t love God enough and you must have hidden sin.”

I want to shriek –
And block their number
And, like Job, finally stand and utter:
“Look, my eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it. Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. Yet I prefer to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God. You use lies like plaster; you are all worthless healers. If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!” [Job 13:1‭-‬5 CSB]

This! This is why I reach for your Word.
Before work.
Before my daily wake-up greeting for Mr. Middle School.
Before my work inbox fills with requests.

And, like the Psalmist, I declare:
“If your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts for you have given me life through them.”
[Psalm 119: 92]

More Word.
Less text. Less grumbling.
More Word.
Less “likes.” Less posting.
More Word.
Less judgment. Less hatred.
More Word.
Just more of your life-giving Word.

Posted in heartache, Life Lessons, Love, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

One heart. Many faces.

I made a huge mistake at work today. To be fair, it’s my first week of actually doing my job and I’m still onboarding. But the impact of this was far-reaching.

I control 2 email inboxes from the same email account. One is my personal company email. The other is my team’s email. I was tasked with sending our team’s newsletter out to 500+ call center agents and managers from our team’s email. I made the newsletter, hit send, and waited for it to arrive in my personal inbox (since I fall within the recipient list).

It arrived. But it was NOT from the team email. It came from my personal account.

Audible gasp.

My breath caught. My lungs seized. My heart chugged deep and slow like the 2am train that runs through town. People who matter would see my mistake.

Got me thinking though. How many times in life do I live duplicitously?

How many sides can there be?

Work me. Home me. Friend me. Inner circle me. Church me. Mom me.

And how many times have I been caught saying something that must sound strange to an audience who either knows a different side of me, or who knows me better?

I used to be this way more than now. Now I try to always just aim for being real.

I find that this throws people off though.

I’m an encourager. I just am.

But when I struggle nowadays, and people read it in my blog or on my social media pages, they’re like…”that’s the girl who is always up. Why is SHE struggling?” And my private message box fills up with concerns.

Here’s the thing:

I am only ever up because I have chosen to get back up.

I’m gonna repeat that in case someone missed it.

I am only ever up because I have chosen to get back up.

Fallen is my natural state.

But see, now when I fail and when I fall, I get excited. Not right away. Not till I dust off my knees and clean up my wounds. But eventually I get excited.

Not for me. I get excited for others.

Because now I can see when someone else is about to fall in that same pit and I can say…”HEY! YOU! THERE’S A HUGE PIT RIGHT THERE.”

And if they fall anyway, I get to say…”Here’s my hand…let’s get you get back up. Keep going.”

So when I broadcast on social media what my inner circle already knows I’m struggling with, people aren’t ready for it. They’re ready for more encouragement. More happy.

But conversely, my inner circle probably rolls collective eyes when they see me broadcast supergirl encouragement when I just blew up our group or private chats with how I cried myself to sleep for the fifth time this week.

But what I understand is – I learn and grow best by struggling, being transparent, and getting back up.

I really do possess the capacity to walk beside people who have hurt me. And this is because I have been forgiven much, and have been loved much – so I am quick to forgive much, and quick to love much.

My teammates at work expected to see that weekly newsletter from the team, not the new-hire.

But at the end of the day (after I recalled the email and had another team member send it correctly) I realized that all the information I sent was correct.

And that’s the point. If you’re correct in what you say and how you live, you don’t have to worry about who sees or hears you.

Side note: it wasn’t my fault after all – my email lacks a setting that allows me to send anything from the team.

I’ll put in a ticket to IT on Monday.

Y’all have a great weekend.

Live with integrity.

One heart. One voice.

Life is short. Love well.

I love you.

Posted in Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

I am NOT Enough

Everyday for weeks now I’ve watched women champion and repeat and chant the phrase “I am enough.” It’s on mugs and graphic t-shirts and books and billboards:
“I am enough.”
Really? Are we? Why do we say this? What are we REALLY saying? What are we enough of or who are we enough for?
I have a graduate degree and it took 5 months to find a job when my last contract ended.
My body aches and takes longer to recover from workouts because age is creeping up on me.
I have to hold my phone out an extra foot to read because I have over-40-year-old eyes.
I snap at my family when I’m tired or hungry or stressed or lonely.
My laundry multiplies faster than my want-to.
Oh, I have great qualities. I’m a great friend. An encourager-extraordinaire. A great writer. My smile might even momentarily cure your depression.
But when I see this phrase, I cringe.
Because the TRUTH is:
I. Am. Not. Enough.
But. My. God. Is. Enough.
He knows me and strengthens me when I invite Him into my broken places. He was with me in my long job search. When I pressed into him I found peace enough and hope enough and joy enough for the journey.
In Exodus, God gave Moses the task of liberating the Israelites from slavery by the Egyptians.

“Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13‭-‬14 CSB

I AM is enough.
Moses wasn’t bringing the Israelites out of slavery. I AM was doing that.

In 2nd Corinthians 12:9 when Paul asked God to remove a “thorn in his flesh” (a weakness he had), God said this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

I am NOT enough. I am weak and broken. But God’s power is sufficient (ENOUGH) and His power is made perfect at exactly those places where I am weak.

I’m not trying to put anyone down, just to make someone think twice and edit this popular saying to: “I am enough because my God is enough.”

(c)MAF2019

Posted in family, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Minutes or Moments?

180731_170208_collage-11755689728.jpgA new dad waiting for his first baby to be born understands the value of a minute.
A new dad hearing that baby’s first cry understands the value of a moment.

Lately I’ve been pondering the difference between minutes and moments.

I don’t know about at your house, but at my house we seem to talk about time – a lot. It’s time for bed! Time to get up! Hurry up! Time’s a wastin’. Bathtime! Dinnertime. Storytime. Time out. Time’s up!

In the Beginning…

In my cover-to-cover trek through the Bible I’ve just finished reading Genesis and Exodus. The first concept introduced in Genesis, besides God as Creator, is time. Time is necessary. Its parameters were among the first set in motion in the beginning. By the end of the first chapter, the first 6 days have occurred. Ask my 10-year-old what happens in Genesis chapter 1 and he’ll surmise that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and he rested on the 7th.

Ask my poet’s heart and I’ll tell you that the first chapter takes much longer than a week to ponder. Why? Because I stop and wonder what it was like to bow in reverence at that first sunrise. I want to grab a blanket and go sit in an open field and marvel at the sea of stars overhead. I want to be there as the first waves tumbled to the shore. I want to see the dolphins jump and hear the wolves howl. My heart wants to savor every single moment.

So why don’t I? Why don’t I savor each moment? Why do I waste so much life enslaved to my planner when I could be living and doing and savoring?

A New Approach

My end-goal for this blog is not another 350 words on a page that take up more of your time. My end-goal is that we approach life in a new way.

Let’s savor our moments.

A collection of moments makes up a beautiful life. Don’t miss a single one. Be present.

Posted in Cancer, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Poetry, Uncategorized, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Playing Hide-and-Seek (my life story)

I was out shopping with the most beautiful girl in the world. She was 3 years old – with gorgeous red curls and bright, happy green eyes. We were at a major department store looking for a size 3T Easter dress – with extra frills, ruffle-butt tights, and those fold-down socks with the lace that look beautiful in patent leather Mary-Janes.

She kept running off – looking at the tiny purses and teddy bears. I was afraid I would lose her. So I did what any good mom would do to teach an object-lesson: I let her get lost.

hide_and_seek

This was the perfect moment – no one else was in this section. I got really quiet and just let her wander from rack to rack. Books. Toys. Purses. I didn’t let her see me. I kept hiding until I watched panic slowly set in – all over her tiny little body. Her eyes got wide. Her feet starting running. Her eyes darted all around looking for safety. Her little voice began calling out – “Mommy. Mommy? MOMMY!”

I let that go on for about 30 seconds before I scooped her up in my arms and said, “It’s okay, Baby Doll. You’re safe. Mommy’s gotcha.” And she looked up at me with her big green eyes and said, “I lost you, Mommy. I thought you were gone.”

She didn’t lose me. She only thought she did. I was right there all the time.

I’ve felt this level of panic set in before. Have you?

The first time I felt something like this I was 7. My 2 brothers and sister were all playing together behind the apartment building and I wasn’t allowed to play. They had formed a “no-Melissas allowed” club. I ran around the building to try to play anyway. They circled up. I just couldn’t believe it. Panic set in as I realized that I was alone – and left out. Big tears formed in the depths of my universe. Something shattered. I remember this being the first time I found solace in making up a story in my mind as a form of self-comfort. This was the beginning of writing for me. My parents figured out what was going on and they formed a “let’s-walk-to-7-11-to-get-a-Slurpee-club” that my siblings weren’t invited to. I learned from this to run to my authority figures for comfort. As an adult, I remember this incident when I feel left out and it reminds me to turn to God. I’m always welcome in his club.

The next time I felt like this, I was in high school. At age 16, a boy I liked from school took an interest in me. I was over-the-moon excited. I had “his-initials-plus-my-initials” written all over my school notebooks. One afternoon, when I was home alone after school, he came to my house. I was so excited that I ignored the rule about not having friends over when my parents were gone. I let him in – only to find out that he had come with 5 grown men. They made me go to my room and would not let me out. One-by-one they came in and took turns doing awful things to me. The boy who I thought liked me left me humiliated, ashamed, and feeling very alone. They warned me they would hurt my family if I told. I never told. Not anyone. This may actually be the first time my family is reading about this.

In the middle of the whole thing, one of the guys told me he loved me. This shattered my heart. If that was love – and love was what I was so desperately longing for – I didn’t really want to be loved anymore. I wasn’t sure I really even wanted to live anymore. It was at this point when I made an attempt on my own life.

I looked around and couldn’t find anyone there to rescue me. The shame, embarrassment, and guilt led me to keep this a secret – even from God. Through counseling years later I was able to open this horrible memory up and see that God was there in the room with me that day. He was screaming at those men – STOP. THIS IS MY DAUGHTER. YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING THIS.

But His voice was drowned out by the voices of Lust, Desire, Control, and Greed simultaneously screaming – DO WHAT YOU WANT, TAKE WHAT YOU WANT, SHE’S JUST THERE FOR YOU TO USE.

God showed me that He was there that night to comfort me. He was my pink teddy bear and the blanket I slept with over my head. He was there then and on so many other nights when I cried myself to sleep and felt alone in my shame. I didn’t lose him – he was right there all along.

These incidents plus the fact that my bio-dad left before I was born caused me to have a decades-long thought pattern that said – “You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy of real love. You’re just an after-thought, a second choice. You’re not wanted. Get lost – no one wants you around here anyway. If you want love, you’ll have to do something to earn it.”

Lies. All lies.

I had a fairy-tale wedding right out of high school that resulted in two beautiful redheaded daughters.

One day my husband came home and was acting strangely. We’d had a great first 7 years. We had our moments, but it wasn’t anything major. But I’d noticed that he had become violent with his words and sometimes with his hands. I confronted him and he said he did not love me anymore. His porn habit had turned into real affairs over the last 3 years of our marriage – resulting in his latest girlfriend becoming pregnant. I didn’t know. I guess I didn’t want to know. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling. Some words I have for the next months after that are numb, lifeless, severely depressed, and hopeless. Once again the voices crept back into my thought-space.

I was angry. Very angry. I was angry at my husband for hurting me in this way, angry at myself for not having seen this coming, angry at God for knowing this was coming and not letting me know for 3 years, and angry at life in general. I had to move out of my home and back in with my parents while he moved his pregnant girlfriend into my home. It was humiliating.

So how does youth minister/housewife cope with this kind of tragedy? In my case – I did not cope very well. I began a secret life of binge drinking on weekends when my kids were gone to their father’s house. They say bitterness is a poison you give yourself – hoping the other person will suffer. My drinking and lifestyle of masking my pain through any means necessary was a poison. I felt unlovable. I was taking out all of my frustrations alright – but all that I was doing was only hurting ME.

The lowest point for me was in the middle of the divorce. I was at a party one night at an apartment when everyone all went home at once – everyone but me and the guy who lived there. He kept pouring and I had kept drinking, but that last drink after everyone left must have had something in it – because the room began to wobble and I only remember bits and pieces of a torturous, sick, violent rape that must have lasted a couple of hours – and I was powerless to stop it. I woke up in an upstairs room – alone. I stumbled around, found my keys, and left – still full of liquor, or whatever it was I’d been given. I honestly think an angel rode in the passenger seat while I drove home that night – because how I got myself and my car home in one piece is a mystery. I decided that night I wanted to try to reconcile with my husband and make things right with my little family again. My kids deserved a whole family – and I was hell-bent on making sure they had one – even if it meant I had to do a makeover on my marriage. My husband agreed – but he had already told my parents about my having gone to a party and that I’d been drinking – so they kicked me out and, because I had no other alternative, I could not take my kids. I tried to explain about the night before and my transformed heart, but it was too late – the decision had been made. I was furious with what had just happened to me, and now I was furious that my desire to start over had failed. I lived the next two weeks out of my car, in the backroom of the store I managed, one night at a laundry mat, and at different friend’s apartments. After two long miserable weeks, I told my dad I was coming home – taking my kids, getting a divorce, and moving into an apartment. Enough was enough. I stopped drinking, reconciled with God, and tried to get my life back in order.

If I’m with you and you have a glass of wine and I politely decline, this is why. I’m not judging, it’s just that it reminds me of where I’ve been – and that’s a place I’d rather not remember.

Three years later I was back on my feet, studying for my undergrad in English at the local university, and raising my two girls. We moved out of the apartment after a year and back in with my folks so that I could focus on my studies.

During my time at the university, my brother died of cancer and my sister decided to leave the family – for good. Just because I don’t give these incidents many words here doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt me to my core.

Life thus far had been a hide-and-seek game with God – mostly hide. But what happened in 2007 changed the entire course of my life.

It was July 2007, right in the middle of my summer session at the university. I was taking what amounted to Poetry 101 and it was my day to be “workshopped.” I had printed enough copies of my poem for each member of the class and was expected to distribute them and have everyone critique my words. I was nervous. It was Texas Summer hot outside. I was suddenly overcome with nausea. Breakfast became a memory.
After the grueling 90-minute poetry workshop where my writing was called mediocre, at best, I made my way to the on-campus medical clinic.
I gave blood, endured the necessary pee-in-this-cup moment, laid down on the paper-covered table, and waited.
I must have fallen asleep because the Nurse Practitioner shook my shoulder.
Miss Fairchild?
Yes?
I figured out what’s wrong.
Okay?
You’re pregnant.
I almost fell off the table.
My mind raced to an awful night four months before. I looked at her calendar and pointed to the date.
Yes – I remember. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was just one lonely moment during March Madness. Just one.

I pulled into my driveway 15 minutes later and spied my Mom on the porch swing reading to my 6-year-old, whose auburn pigtails wobbled as she flew into my arms. My 11-year-old was inside getting ready for the water park trip I’d promised them that afternoon.
Mommy’s home!
My heart felt sick. How do I explain this to my girls? How in the world was I going to make ends meet with another kiddo on the way?
I sent the kids to their bedroom to finish getting ready for the water park and began to weep uncontrollably. My parents noticed.
All I could think was – my folks are gonna kill me. They are pastors at a local church. How do you tell your Dad, who is also your pastor, that you’re unmarried and pregnant?
Between sobs, I finally formed the words – I’m pregnant.
The truth escaped my mouth with finality. I repeated it to myself. Wow.
Mom started to ask several questions all at once, but Dad quieted the room.
He looked at me, right into my heart, and he slowly and deliberately spoke these words:
“You are my daughter, and I love you.

In one sentence, years worth of feeling less-than, feeling used, abandoned, abused, picked last, feeling unlovable, unforgivable, unworthy, and like I just didn’t belong came to a grinding halt.

In one sentence I felt God speaking through my father’s mouth.

He spoke to my identity “You are my daughter,…”

He spoke to his identity “…and I love you.”

I belong to him and am fully loved because he IS love.

I’ve had many more adventures and mishaps since this day. I’ve written or will write about most of them—just look back or wait for the next blog if you want to see what else has happened in my crazy life. But since that day I’ve had a deep-seated knowing in my gut that I’m not alone. And I’m not alone because God is with me. And because God is with me, he won’t let me panic for too long.

And in the times where I’ve panicked and looked around, frantically searching for God where I’ve thought – “I lost you, God. I thought you were gone,” He has been so faithful to remind me that I didn’t lose him. I only thought I did. He was right there all the time.

I hope you feel God speaking to you from your screen, “You are my daughter (son), and I love you.”

And I hope your life will change – starting today.

If you’re going through any of the things I’ve gone through – please email me or message me and let’s talk about it. I’m always good for coffee and conversation.

And if you don’t know the God I’ve been writing about, please let me introduce you.

He’s a good, good Father. The best way to find him is to stop hiding and start seeking. Let’s seek him – together.

Posted in Life Lessons, Love, Uncategorized, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Separating the Precious from the Worthless

I grew up hearing my parents say, “You have to separate the precious from the worthless.”

What does that really mean?

Flowers

The best parts of recovering from a Hysterectomy (it’s day 11 now) have been seeing many friends and getting flowers. Since my surgery was less than a week away from Mother’s Day, my breakfast nook and bedroom were full of beautiful flowers. A few days ago I noticed some of these beauties were wilting, while some were thriving.

I gathered all three vases together and began separating flowers into categories.

  • Dead/wilted
  • Half-alive
  • Beautiful

I discarded the dead, pruned the dead parts off the half-alive, and saved the beautiful. I cut all of their ends, added fresh water and in the end, the bouquet is the one in the picture. Beautiful.

That’s separating the precious from the worthless.

People

Over the course of the past months I’ve sorted the people in my life into similar categories as the flowers. It’s been unintended, but that’s what I’ve done.

In recent years I’ve hung on to relationships that were half- or all-dead. Usually it’s because I liked the people in the relationship and wanted to salvage something. But bad relationships can be like wilted flowers. No matter how beautiful the relationship once was, if it isn’t nurtured, pruned, freshly cut, or – even better – well-planted, when it goes bad, what once was fragrant will inevitably begin to stink.

Getting out of bad relationships and nurturing good – that’s separating the precious from the worthless.

Feeling Worthless?

In the book of Jeremiah, God’s people had turned from Him to worship other gods and done all kinds of terrible-awful, yet they complained. Jeremiah was a prophet (God’s chosen spokesman) to these vain, ungrateful people, yet he was a man – just like us. I’m sure that it was tempting for Jeremiah to start to get irritated with folks. I’m suggesting he may have felt worthless. In doubt? Read Jeremiah 13 where God asks him to take his Super-Prophet under-roos off, bury them, then dig them up and show them off as an object lesson. If I were him, I might have been bitter and irritated too. Rotten underwear are no joke.

At Jeremiah’s breaking point, here’s what God told him:

Even God knows the value of extracting the precious from the worthless.

What’s Precious?

Well I know what’s worthless: negative people, abusive relationships, negative thinking, poor time-management, saying things you can’t take back, hurting people, etc.

But lately I’ve been asking myself, “What’s precious?”

I’ll tell you what’s precious to me:

  • My oldest – Katie – taking such good care of me post-op.
  • Laughing at Rom-Coms with her.
  • Hearing my middle – Stephanie – play guitar and sing.
  • Watching my little Gavin learn to really love to read lately.
  • Having family movie night with my parents and kids.
  • Long talks with my sis-in-law over coffee.
  • Writing.
  • The blessing of good friendships.
  • Having a dear friend stop in for “a few minutes” and talking the better part of 2 hours because we enjoy each other’s company that much.
  • A good, restful nap.
  • Time spent at the beach.
  • A beautiful sunset (or a good friend who sends me sunset & beach pics from his travels just so I’ll smile.)
  • A healthy dinner.
  • A long walk before bedtime.
  • A fresh Word from the Lord.

I grew up hearing my parents say, “You have to separate the precious from the worthless.”

Now I get it.

Posted in Cancer, Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Vines, Cancer, & the Gardener

The problem with my busy life is I seldom find myself on the back porch with a decent cup of coffee and an open Bible. I did that today, for just a moment. I listened to the birds, watched the dog chase squirrels, and marveled at the beauty of the first open blossom on our Magnolia tree.

At first glance, this is just a blossom. But just like people – we all have a story. Let me tell you how this blossom came to be and how it relates to your life.

The Blossom’s Story

You see, for years this beautiful spot in my backyard was a vast tangle of vines, so much so that we didn’t even know this Magnolia tree was trying to grow. But because of the vines, there was not sufficient light getting to it, so it stayed small and insignificant.

One day my Dad decided to hire a crew to start chopping down the vines. The mass of dead trees, leaves, and branches overtook our front curb, but the crew just kept on bringing them around from the backyard.

When the crew went home, the backyard spot looked sparse – almost sad. I wondered if this little area would ever look good. The city brought out it’s wood chipping trucks the next week and the old dead branches were gone.

If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
John 15:6 HCSB

That was two months ago. Today I walked outside and saw this:

My Cancer Story

Last October I found myself at the doctor’s office due to abnormal bleeding (TMI? Maybe so, but it’s worth telling if it gets you to go to the doctor if this happens to YOU.) The doctor ordered a sonogram of my abdomen to see what was causing this. My uterus was abnormally large, it’s walls abnormally thick, and the look on the doctor’s face told me a story I didn’t want to hear. He ordered a biopsy because I had all the markings of early stage Endometrial Cancer. My insurance was awful, so I waited until January to get the biopsy. In the meantime, I lived in fear of what might be growing in me.

January came and I had a D & C. The biopsy of that showed a lot of precancerous cells. The Dr removed most of the cells; we decided to wait and see what happened.

In April a sonogram showed new cell growth. In May I had a hysterectomy that went 2 hours overtime. I’m writing this as I recover from an open abdominal hysterectomy instead of a laparoscopic procedure. The doctor had to take out an ovary because he found out it was tangled when he got in there. He also found a massive amount of precancer cells, fibroids, and adenyomyosis.

When I walked outside for coffee this morning and remembered how this garden spot used to look – it reminded me of my insides – ugly, tangled branches that were literally going to kill me from the inside out. And like the yard crew cutting down the vines to let the Magnolia tree grow, if the doctor hadn’t cut out the bad places, I would have failed to thrive, or even ceased to live.

The Gardener’s Story

(Stay with me. This is where it gets good.)

Since October of last year I have had interactions with countless old friends and relatives. In every instance I found myself faced with someone with whom I’d had conflict. Sometimes the conflict was inflicted by me, sometimes by them. In each case we have come to a new understanding. Either I got to make ammends in some way, or they finally apologized and made ammends in some way with me, or we simply parted ways. These included people who had mentored me or whom I’d mentored. They included my ex-husband, my sister, a cousin, my bio-Dad, friends, enemies, people I’d harmed, you name it. Even myself.

The more often this happened, the more I began to realize that these moments were orchestrated by God. There have been too many to have been coincidental.

It’s as if my life were the overgrown garden spot and God was pulling up some relationships by the roots and throwing them to the curb, or carefully exposing and pruning them so they could grow and begin to thrive.

Even my relationship with God and with myself is thriving. I’m walking with Him – daily. I’m remaining in Him, which makes all the difference.

I am the vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me
and I in him produces much fruit,
because you can do nothing without Me.”
John 15:5‭ HCSB

The best part is – God has planted a new friend in my garden and has re-planted someone I have missed for a long time. You both know who you are.

Even the Cancer threat is gone. Pruned.

Pruning hurts (like my recovery) and requires me to be still and rest – but it is so worth it.

Your Story

My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.
John 15:8 HCSB

I don’t know what your story is. I don’t know what God is doing in your life, but I’m praying today that you’ll be still, remain in Him, and let him prune out the bad and expose the good so that your life can blossom.

Don’t know the God I walk with? Just send me a private message – I’ll introduce you.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Cancer, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Going on a Bear Hunt – I’m Not Scared!

Tonight I feel like I’m in the old nursery rhyme my kids would chant about “Going on a Bear Hunt.” In the chant the kids would search for the bear in various ways (in tall grass, behind a big tree, through a pond) and realize they couldn’t get around these things – they had to go through them.

The opening refrain was:

“Going on a bear hunt,
Gonna catch a big one,
I’m not scared.
What a beautiful day.

Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go around it.
Gotta go through it.”

I guess I’ve been on a bear hunt lately. I prepared for this. I’m a researcher – it served me well in grad school. I prepared myself for my bear hunt – a laparoscopic hysterectomy. I was gonna catch a big one – in this case my big bear is Cancer. Getting my uterus out means a lessened threat of Cancer – because these pre-cancerous cells won’t stop multiplying.

I planned to take off a week and a half from work and then work from home for 2 weeks and then go back to the office. A week and a half off of work is what my budget could stand to lose without setting me too far off-track financially. The surgery would cost this much money. I’d be fine. I’ve had surgery before – three of them being c-sections. I could handle this – no problem.
I’m not scared.
And therein lies my problem – I didn’t really prepare for unexpected complications. Certainly not for the strain this particular procedure would have on me – emotionally.
This was supposed to be a beautiful day.
By nature – I’m an encourager. There is nothing I can encourage myself with tonight. I got nothing.
Nothing could have prepared me for a switch between a laparascopic surgery and an open abdominal procedure. Nor for the fact that I seem to be grieving the loss of the womb that carried my three precious children. Nor for the fact that my hormones would cause so many tears. Nor that uncontrollable sobbing would make my stitches burn. Nor for the dread in my heart as I wait to find out if my uterus has Cancer or not.
Nothing.
And why do I feel so guilty for feeling this way? I’m a woman of faith. I feel the hand of God in my life daily. Daily. I know He is with me and for me. I know His Word instructs me not to worry. I know He has not left me – He says so, and I trust Him.
But I feel so guilty.
I feel guilty that my 21-year-old daughter has taken on the full-time job of taking care of her mother because it hurts me just to get out of bed.
I feel guilty that my 17-year-old daughter feels anxiety because of all this.
I feel guilty that I’m missing Gavin’s last week of school, and friend’s graduation parties, and so many things.
And the lonliness I feel is absolutely overwhelming. It’s the dread of not having a partner to walk through this with. It’s been 15 years without a forever kind of love – and I’m wondering if I’m just always going to walk through life without such a love. (More tears.) Is it too much to ask for a loving hand to hold through this? I’m worthy of love, right?
It’s not fair for me to put this off on my friends.
So I struggle silently.

“Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go around it
Gotta go through it.”

All I know to do is let nature take its course. I will heal in time. My hormones will regulate. Life will return to a new normal. I just gotta go through it.
I just hope that soon it will again be a beautiful day.
I must close by reminding myself of the words God gave me a few years back:
“What you’re walking through is a life-season, not a life-sentence.”
Love you,
Melissa

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Runaway Train

It was midnight in the sleepy trailer park where I lived 3 miles out of town. The house creaked and groaned in the night wind, but was otherwise silent. I stared at the ceiling, then at the shadows the tree branches threw in my window. They felt like hands reaching out to grab me.

I needed air. I needed space. I needed away from the creep next door who decided a 12-year-old looked like fair game. I hated how he looked at me. What he did to me. I hated the bus ride to and from school. The teasing boys. Their name calling: “Cabbage Patch” “Basset Hound”. I had decided at this young age that I was not worthy of love. My mind was a ping-pong table. My thoughts – the ball.

I had gone to bed in my day clothes to make it easier to leave. My 12-year-old self decided running away from my problems would actually solve them. My brilliant plan: I would walk alone in the dark to a house in town some 6 miles away, spend the night, then what? I didn’t know. What I wanted was for my problems to go away.

I left a note. The kind left by a kid who thought she was grown. It surely made no sense.

I left the note, opened and quietly closed the back door, then hurried down the street toward town. In my wake I left a trail of fenced-in howling dogs down all 4 streets in the sleeping trailer park. So much for “quietly.”

It wasn’t until I got out of the neighborhood and onto the open road that my heart started to race. I didn’t dare look back. I felt like Lot’s wife – “don’t look back or you’ll turn into a…”. I didn’t want to think about it, but it was surely worse than a pillar of salt.

A train whistled – far off. An owl whispered. The watchful moon lit the winding road.

I reached a curve. It’s the kind of country-road-curve where there are trees on both sides. The wind picked up. The trees seemed to whistle and cackle and clap as I passed. I didn’t have much life experience at that age, but I felt like I was in the palpable presence of unfettered evil.

So why was it that I felt at peace? Safe, even? I would soon find out.

Lord , you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. (Psalms 139: 1-3)

I didn’t know how much time had passed. I just remember it seemed like a long time and I had not seen a car pass me all night. I kept walking until I reached the entrance of another trailer park. (I did a GoogleMap search just now. It’s 2.5 miles away.)

That’s when a man in an old station wagon pulled up beside me coming from town. He said, “I was hoping I’d see you again. I saw you earlier and decided if I passed by again and you were still walking, I’d offer you a ride into town. Young’ens like you shouldn’t be out here walking this time a night. I’ll turn the car around to show you I’m headed back into town and I’ll drop you off wherever you’d like. I promise I’m not going to hurt you.” He must have sensed my fear.

It was chilly, I was tired, and confused. No one had passed me all night, right? Chilly and tired won out over fear. When he circled around, I got in the front seat.

You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. (Psalms 139: 5-6)

I don’t remember much of our conversation, nor how it was we got to where I wanted to be dropped off so quickly, but I remember he said this: “Wherever you’re going won’t solve what you’re running away from.”

Had I told him I was running away?

Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord.
(Psalms 139:4)

When I got out of the car and looked in the direction he drove off in, he disappeared much too quickly. Had I imagined him? I felt oddly at peace.

Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Long story short: I got home the next day to a mom who I’d scared sick and to a whole lot more trouble than I ever could have imagined. But that’s not the point of this post.

Let me get to it:

Even if you’re on the road in the dark and think you’re alone and that no one could possibly care, God does. He knows the trouble that awaits you next door. He knows the evil that cackles and hisses and lurks around every blind curve. He knows the names they call you. He even knows the names you call yourself.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”  — even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.
(Psalms 139:11‭-‬12)

When I blog and speak and breathe about Jesus, it’s because He isn’t a historical figure in a book – HE IS LIFE.

And I don’t and won’t know certain things this side of Heaven, but I know for sure that He is real. I know for a fact He sent a messenger to drive me to safety that night. He is Creator, Father, Friend. And since He made me and loves me – I am worthy of love.

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.
(Psalms 139:13‭-‬14)

I just wanted you to know that you are worthy of being loved.

You just are!

Love you,

Melissa

Posted in Life Lessons, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Keeping a Close Watch

31934255_10107231317658480_409882846614781952_nI finally fell asleep at 10:30pm, had a dream, and woke up at 12:30am thinking it was morning. I dreamt of something that completely terrified me. Not sure what it was. But I was outside in the mountains and I turned around to run from it and looked up and there in the sky was a cloud perfectly shaped like a living majestic lion keeping watch over me. And I looked and there carved in a rock a little ways above me was a perfectly carved hungry tiger waiting to pounce on me, but it crumbled at the image of the lion.
Now either I possess the most vivid imagination in the world or I just stood in the power and the presence of the Almighty God who showed me that He’s keeping a close watch over every step I take.
I know what I felt and saw and my imagination could never in a lifetime create something so vivid.
Pondering on these things this morning, the terrifying thing I saw at first seems like a tactic to scare me into the tiger’s paws. But God!