Posted in Uncategorized

How Long are You Going to Mourn?

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1

Mourning is necessary for healing. But like anything else, too much is usually a bad thing.

I’ve started In Medias Res (in the middle of things).
Let me give a short backstory for the Old Testament story I posted above:
Saul is God’s pick for King over Israel and Samuel is a prophet.
The Lord told Saul (through Samuel) to have Saul destroy his enemies, even their livestock. Saul followed through with the first part, but saved some of the livestock to “sacrifice to the Lord.” (Those would be air-quotes if we were face-to-face.)
Samuel to Saul: Why didn’t you obey God?
Saul: I did.
Samuel: Is that sheep I hear bleating?

Because Saul disobeys, God rejects Saul as King, but Samuel is grief stricken that he has had to tell Saul – sorry – God won’t even listen to you since you disobeyed him – to obey is better than sacrifice (taken from 1 Samuel 15). In fact, the Word says they never saw each other again.

“The Lord said to Samuel,
“How long are you going to mourn for Saul, 
since I have rejected him…”

When I read these words my eyes were opened. How long will I mourn over (fill-in-the-blank).
Until Saturday when I read this – my answer would have been that I’ve been mourning the job I just lost. I loved what I was doing. I felt like I had purpose. I loved my co-workers.
Budgets get cut. Contracts end. I get it. But whatever the reason, I lost it. And when I read those words, time stood still for a moment. I thought back over my life and the things I have grieved for too long: divorce, being abused, people who left through death or stubbornness or disagreement.

What is it for you? Divorce? Being single? Losing a loved one in death? A job? People who have left?
How long are you going to mourn?

In most cases I can look back and see that the horrible things that have happened or the cases in which people left – that was God’s hand protecting me from something that either was bad for me or something that wasn’t in his plan for me.

But why grieve any longer? He has something for me to do.
Look at this next part:

Fill your horn with oil and go.
I am sending you to _________ because I have chosen to do ____________________ and I’ve chosen YOU to accomplish it .

Today we wouldn’t say fill your horn with oil and go.
The reference was to anointing oil. That was the tool of Samuel’s “trade.” Samuel was a priest; he used his anointing oil to literally pour out a blessing on someone. Today we’d say – get up, get your backpack, and let’s go. What’s in my backpack these days? What are my tools for blessing others? A laptop (for writing), a paper Bible (I don’t leave home without it), and many colorful pens (because I’m a writer).

In one verse I feel like God is speaking this to me through his word:

Melissa, how long are you going to mourn over your lost job, since I have tied up that end for you? Get your backpack and let’s go. I am sending you to the women in the community because I want to bless them with your story and with the Word I have stored up in you. Go bless them.

So I am choosing to obey.

How long are you going to mourn over that thing you’re mourning?
God has work for you.
Get up, get your backpack, and go.

Posted in Life Lessons, Word

Immediately Jesus

It’s no secret – I believe in Jesus. I love him. I love reading the Word. If you’ve ever shared a meal with me, you know. I’m all about Jesus.

Some seasons though, some days – they are rough. Even when I’m in the Word daily. Even when I’m at my best.

Today was rough. Bad news seemed to come from everywhere. And then I got home to my youngest kiddo having flu-like symptoms.

Most days I have faith like Peter. Remember Peter was the disciple who walked to Jesus on the water.

Well today I felt like Peter – full of equal faith and doubt. When he was in the boat, the sea was scary, then he saw Jesus, and stepped out in faith to walk toward him, but…

But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:30-31

I am so much like this. I step out in faith, then see the “strength of the wind” and begin to sink.

Here is what my strong wind looks like: when my kids are sick, when someone I love is hurting, when I lost my job contract in 2016, when I feel inadequate, when I sink in depression (like today), when I lose a friend, etc.

Loss or the threat of loss just unhinges me. Today my wind was mostly the fear of just that – the fear of loss.

On my way home today I cried out as Peter did – “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus flooded me with peace. He reminded me he’s got this. Whatever the outcome, I’ll be okay.

It’s human to have moments of doubt. But instead of reaching for anything else to steady you, take the outstretched hand of the only one who can.

Posted in Poetry, Word

King David and Stuttering Metrical Dactyls (just read)

I imagine King David,
writing instrument in hand,
scroll on one knee,
writing furiously –
trying to beat the dusk.
This is when poets live –
as the world falls asleep,
poetic minds wake –
Imagery marches down the page.
Poetic hearts beat iambic pentameter,
Thoughts come faster
than hands can write…
da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM
da-DUM da-DUM
Until adjectives lie breathing, exhausted on the page.
Until anxieties fade,
Anger subsides,
And all remaining questions
get asked of God.
It is only then,
When stuttering metrical dactyls
Screech to a comma
That life begins.
Or begins again.
This is where I find King David:
Enjambing justice and right against
Poetic praise.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy…”
“…the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”
Sometimes words bring trouble.
Sometimes they sort it through.
The Psalmist shoulders the gift and the burden.

(Somehow I got all this from reading Psalm 94.)

Posted in Cancer, Life Lessons, Word

My Word for 2019

Ups and Downs

This year has been a roller-coaster. It began January 4th with a biopsy by way of a D&C.

It continued to May 17th – when I had surgery to remove fast-growing pre-Cancerous cells by removing my uterus. It was not the surgery I signed up for. There were complications. A laparoscopic procedure became an open abdominal procedure and it took months, not weeks, to recover. I spent weeks in bed and my depression level spiked.

One thing people say they notice from my social media presence is that I am a person who absolutely trusts and believes in God. This is true.
But it is also true that my faith has been tested more this past year than any other.

Also this year – I re-gained and then quickly re-lost my sister. This has been something I’m quietly grieving. It is so deep…

I’ve felt my heart ache more times this year over more situations than I have blog space for.
I have cried more tears than I thought were humanly possible.

Finding Hope

But I’ve freshly realized that for every single horrible moment in my life, I have had the opportunity to use it to help someone else through a similar circumstance.
I am grateful for that.

This will go down as the year I fell deeply in love with God via His Word. I just can’t put it down. I prayed for this and found that God was faithful to give me an unquenchable thirst for the deeper things in the Bible.

As I struggled with the reality of Cancer this year, I’ve realize that my perspective on things is always clearer when I look upward instead of inward.

Don’t miss this: What I need is to be honest about my struggle with depression so that someone else can see what it is to struggle and still (imperfectly) rely on God.
God did not order this chaos; God is bringing order to this chaos.
I’m not sure where you are in life – but I know you’re not alone, because…I struggle too.

Word of the Year

At the end of each year, I ask God for one word or phrase that will carry me through the next year. In 2018, my word was “MEASURE(D)”. It’s interesting because I can’t tell you how many medical tests and how much of my bloodwork was measured this year. But in the end, what is immeasurable is how much I’ve grown spiritually this year and how much deeper – my love for the Lord.

My word for 2019 is “MORE”.

I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

Pray about your word for 2019 and comment here or on my Facebook page.

I’d love to know your word for 2019.

Posted in Life Lessons

Unanticipated

Life has its dips and straights.

Sometimes Summer feels more like Spring, sometimes Spring feels more like Winter.

Sometimes the road is paved with love and laughter; sometimes it is washed out by torrents of tears.

When I look back over my life I’ve always known what is right and what is wrong. And I’ve always known that my God is a good God.

I’ve not always chosen the recommended path. I have scars on my skin and my heart as mile markers for the roads to avoid.

Sometimes my silence shrieks while my karaoked daily routine resounds like a symphony.

I’ve come full-circle from where I thought my life ended to where I felt alive again. I stood on the precipice of hope, only to find what I’ve longed for is just out of reach, then gone.

When the straight highway to the great unknown I’ve anticipated takes an unanticipated turn in a valley ahead, and the road bends from an exclamation point into more of a question mark, I will choose to take a moment and ask for this one thing: God, if you’ll give me more of your Holy Spirit and I can feel your presence, then I’ll continue on. I can’t live without the power and the presence of the Almighty. In fact, I won’t.

 

Lord, fill me with your presence in this valley so I can get to that glorious unknown you have waiting over there for me to inhabit.

You’re a good God. Without you I add up to nothing.

Posted in Life Lessons, Word

Who Inspires You? (for Caro)

I remember it was on a day like this one – dreary, bleak, and wonderful. The rain started and stopped, but mostly fell steadily just past my fingertips against the front window. The kids were at school and I was supposed to be grading papers, but I couldn’t. My mind was stayed on one student – one Mr. E. Caro. Something was amiss with this young man. He was brighter than the rest – young, but an old soul. Always late to my class. Pretended to be in that group of guys in the back who didn’t care about anything but passing. But I saw something greater.

I was in graduate school and a Teaching Fellow position was offered me. I taught two different courses: Developmental Writing and Technical Writing. I took the position to help pay tuition. Caro was in my Technical Writing class.

It was about the 2nd or 3rd week of classes when I found myself, fingertips to rain-speckled glass, thinking about Caro and remembering those who had cheered me on when I’d lost my way. There was my editing professor at UNT who suggested I apply for graduate school to be a Technical Writer when it wasn’t even on my radar.

There was my friend Merelee who faithfully picked me up for youth group when I was a stubborn 14 year old with a chip on my shoulder.

There was Mrs. B from my 7th grade English class (who lives just down the street now) who urged me to keep writing, even though I made an 18% in her class for the semester because I kept throwing away my perfectly done English assignments to impress a boy. She got my work out of the trash, uncrumpled it, and admired my writing skills anyway.

Something about Caro reminded me of myself. The next time I saw him we had a memorable chat in the hall. I’ll keep that conversation private. Bottom line – he was already bright and capable, but no one bothered to tell him so before. He was never late to class again, passed brilliantly, invited me to his graduation, and we still keep in touch. I cried when he crossed the stage to receive his diploma. He’s an up-and-coming music artist now – rap, hip-hop, R&B. Brilliant musician. He shows up in life ahead of schedule. Always. He is a great dad. I’m so impressed, Caro. I love your passion to succeed.

My point?

People can inspire you, but you have to want to succeed. You have to put in the work. You have to do the dang thing every single day and get up every morning and do it again.

Every one of us has a Caro in our lives to inspire, to push a bit, to encourage to do more.

Today’s Challenge:

  1. Who is it for you? Who is your Caro? Do them and yourself a favor and speak up and speak into their lives.
  2. Who inspired you to be better? Thank the people who encouraged you, no matter how long it’s been. Your thanks may catch them at a time when they need it most.
Posted in Word

Is This On My Kid’s School Supply List?!

This is the week before school begins. More than usual, this week is all about family dinner nights out, Wal-Mart excursions (for school supplies), and various other ways the kids are finding to raid my bank account.

When I was shopping for my own school supplies at M.E. Moses (that was a five & dime store, remember those?) for elementary school, it was crayons, scissors, glue, watercolors, and construction paper. Now it’s all of that plus copy paper, Expo markers, and earbuds. Yes – earbuds.

Times, they are a changin’.

This is my last year with an elementary school student. My middle child is in her Senior year of high school. And my eldest is a Junior at the University. Sigh.

All of these changes lately have me asking questions.

Where did the time go?

How did we get here?

How do I make the most of this year with them?

What the heck?

I’m in the 2nd week of a FREE Beth Moore online Bible study called The Quest. The sessions are free, you just have to buy your workbook (I bought mine on Amazon.com). The sessions are free to view online until September 30th. I get there by going to https://blog.lifeway.com.

In The Quest I’m learning not just to study the Bible (as you’d expect from Beth Moore), but to let the lessons dust off the leaf-covered paths in my life of faith. Somehow I’ve become so accustomed to lacing up my hiking boots and grabbing a water bottle on my way out to hike this forest of faith, but I’ve forgotten all direction. I’m all routine. No destination.

I’d forgotten beautiful well-worn paths I’ve walked with God. I’m so accustomed to throwing in a pair of necessary-for-life (and apparently elementary school) earbuds and listening to worship music or re-listening to the Sunday sermon via podcast, or scrolling through my Bible app and letting it read the Word to me, but I’ve left my gold-edged brown leather Bible pages to stick together and gather dust on a shelf.

But the last 2 weeks, highlighter and colored pens in hand, I’ve been cross- referencing and journaling and pouring my heart out to God aloud and onto the workbook pages and my life suddenly feels right. Fulfilled.

I’m encouraging you, as I’ve encouraged my kids this week – get in the Word and see what happens.

Like poetry? Psalms

Need wisdom? Proverbs

Like great stories? Genesis & Exodus

I find a new treasure every time I read.

This weeks challege:

Skip Netflix, ditch your earbuds, read the Word.

Posted in Word

My Heart’s Overflow

Lord, I know you search me
You know all my thoughts
You know when I sit quietly
Or when I stand up –
You’re there.
You understand me.
Close by or faraway you
Reach me –
You know just when I sleep
Or when I’m walking,
Nothing catches you by surprise.
Before I begin to speak, you
Know what I’m going to say.
Before I write a word you
Know how my heart’s overflow
On the page.
Your hand is on me
You go behind and before me.
Your wondrous knowledge
Is beyond me.
I can’t wrap my heart around it.

Where can I run from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
On a crisp Autumn morning, you’re there.
In this Texas Summer heat, still there!
When I cry, when I question,
When I think thoughts I can’t mention
You’re still there!
When I play, when I work,
When I worship –
Your hand always guides me.
You steady my heart with your
Steadfast arms.
If I burrow in the dark of depression
And think you’ll never find me
If I throw on a smile
And think people won’t see
The darkness through my façade,
Even the darkness is not dark to you.
You see my heart behind the mask.
You see the light you placed in me.
Dark and light are alike to you.
You made each.
And you made provision
For me to see you through each.

And you didn’t stop your creating there.
You made ME.
All of me.
Blue eyes.
Dirty blonde mane.
Curves and edges.
Heart and mind and soul.
You knew me – when I was being formed.
You saw me – before anyone.
And I will throw back my head and praise you
As I did when you and I
Danced in the dark and bright
Of my mother’s womb.
I will praise you because
You amaze me.
You fearfully, wondrously made me
And I know this and it
Drives me to my knees daily.
Bone and muscle, flesh and blood,
When I was drawn in secret
You held the artist’s brush.
You gave me life when you
Planted me in the depths of your love.
Even before this you knew me.
Knew every semicolon of my story
Even before I had a working title.

God, your thoughts are precious to me.
They outnumber the grains of
Sand by the sea
I couldn’t count them,
Even given an infinite number of days.

Every sunset – you give me rest.
When I awaken safely at sunrise
I’m still with you.
You kept watch.
You hid me.
You foiled the plot of the enemy
Who lurked in the dark while I slept.

Lord, search my heart.
Take note that I want to follow you only.
Take this selfishness,
This spirit of distraction from me.
I want to encourage and not offend.
I extend my gaze, outstretch my hands,
And ask that you keep shaping my heart,
As you did in the secret place.
Purify me, God.
Lead me in your way, everlasting.

(This is how my heart reads the Psalms. This is my personal journal entry after reading Psalm 139.)

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 Life Lessons, Word

Startled – What is This?

What is This?

You’re sitting there, tears falling over freshly dried tears, wondering how on earth you got to this place. Whatever your this is, it feels like hell. It feels like nothing is ever going to be right again. Maybe you’ve done everything right. Maybe you’ve done everything wrong. I’ve been on both sides of the right or the wrong of the “this.”

Whatever happened, this was nowhere in the original plan. Whatever happened, you’ve been finally, fully startled awake.

My THIS List:

Here is my lifetime “this” list (so far):

  • Divorce
  • Sexual assault
  • Financial ruin
  • Being cheated on
  • Being deceived
  • Deceiving others
  • Facing Cancer
  • Losing a job
  • Losing family members
  • Almost losing a child to suicide
  • Losing a ministry
  • Being in an abusive relationship

That’s the short list.

Moving Forward

I was talking with a friend recently and he gave me some amazing advice that I want to pass along.

  • People change only when there are no more options.
  • Start forgiving right now so you can start to heal. Don’t wait.
  • Move on.

My Dad always taught me that I need to:

  • “face reality squarely,” (Job 38)
  • “live a life that pleases God,” (Colossians 1:10), and
  • “separate the precious from the worthless.” (Jeremiah 15:19)

So I’m suggesting that right this minute you should begin to sift through the rubble, call it what it is – rubble, own your part in what happened, retrieve the precious, and walk away from the worthless.

I’ve learned by experience (mostly by falling on my face) that the Lord really does work all things for my good because he has called me according to his purpose and I’ve tried to live my life with a “yes, Lord” posture. (Romans 8:28)

Sift. Separate. Own your part. Pray. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Do it quickly. Ask God “what’s next?”. Move forward.

This, too, really shall pass. But you’ve got to get up out of the rubble.

And if you need to talk, my ears are always open and I’m always up for some good conversation over a skinny vanilla latte.