Creative and Intentional Gifts

I received the most wonderful early Birthday surprise and wanted to share it with you! Most of you know how much I love to create things, and what I am sharing with you today is something completely out of my creative scope.

My Co-Worker creates some really beautiful journals, and journal jars, and when I came into work this morning and there they were sitting on my desk with a super funny card!

Thank You Ashley! Check out this thoughtful gift!

 

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 www.GoingtoGround.etsy.com

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Just wanted to share her kindness with you and tell you how you can get one of these gorgeous journals for your friends, and loved ones! Each is handmade by Ashley and I can attest that their quality is unequaled.

The Journal Jar is incredibly creative, and a wonderful gift for a new mother, a writer or an artist of any kind. The words within propel thought and expand imagination.

I have never received a handmade journal, the pages are so wonderfully textured and I can not WAIT to write in it!

Check out Ashley’s site, for a journal for yourself or someone special in your life, and I pray those moments of quiet reflection will bless you and them repeatedly!

Blessings,

mel

Waitin’ on a Woman

I have struggled in the last five almost six years with losing my dad. We lost him unexpectedly, at a time that was crucial to me. It was no less important to my mom or my brother, but for me, there were so many things left unsaid. He used to chuckle at Brad Paisley’s song, “Waiting on a Woman”, because my mom and I would take so long to get ready. He was the type to sit on a bench and not complain- for the first 5 minutes.

I was 20 and looking for love, the one who was made to complete me; anybody want to testify that marriage isn’t about completing the other person? I can. If you think you are lonely without a spouse… marry one who is completely different from you, someone not even going in the opposite direction from you, but in a different lane, or pace. It can be the loneliest feeling in the world. I didn’t have to go hunting for him, he came right to me, and swept me off my feet. As most woman express later on, they saw something they could, “fix”. Yep. Like God needed me to help Him fix someone… not really, but I wasn’t exactly waiting for the job offer, I just took the job, and failed miserably.

I love my husband dearly now, and while we fight this war to stay married and loving towards each other daily, it’s hard. Very hard. It’s even more difficult when your family sees these things coming, but your blinders are on. It gets worse when you determine that you need to choose between the two. Even when neither of them asked you too. Pride rears its very nasty head and you LOSE. This is what happened to me. I went against every person I have ever known and loved to marry Tim, and while I know the Lord had a plan for Tim and I, I don’t recommend marrying anyone that the people who know you best advise you to be wary of. The friction we created between our families to be together is still with us today, and while Love is a beautiful thing, after it takes a beating- it isn’t so shiny anymore.

After less than 2 months together we were engaged and I moved out of my mother’s home during her workday and Tim and I went to live with my biological dad, who I really didn’t know very well and his partner. We were so young and dumb. I walked away from God, and my beliefs, completely traded in a life created and intentionally lived to honor Him, to fill an emptiness in me; something I thought magically marriage would fix. In the movies it always looks so easy and everyone displays such happiness, and it’s fun, and you get a house, and you decorate it and everything is perfect, especially when the baby comes…. WRONG!

Tim and I were married without telling my mother’s side of the family, my brother, my mom, grandparents, cousins, best friends, everyone who contradicted my love for Tim, was written out of my life in one fell swoop. It was devastating. I held my head high, and walked in such pride, to prove I was doing the right thing. Tim needed me, couldn’t they see that?

I left my career of teaching and went into all sorts of career fields, it was one wild ride. The ride started to calm, we decided we were going to get married, and planned our day at the Justice of the Peace, and realized I was pregnant with our first child a month before we got married. I was over the moon. The day I had longed for since I was a five year old little girl playing with my dolls was here. Until, it abruptly ended. I lost our first child at 4 weeks. I was utterly and completely devastated. Tim was upset, but didn’t display the emotions I did, and he didn’t know how to help me with my grief. We were married and somehow, by the grace of God, we got pregnant with our sweet Loralei right away. She rocked my world. Completely. She was the greatest thing I had ever experienced. God had entrusted her to me. About 9 months later, we were pregnant with Cash, something that was a positive for us, we wanted our children close together. Our parents were thrilled to be grandparents, all 6 of them.

Chris- my step dad, hereafter referred to as dad, was the one who surprised me the most. He was so good with children, I had watched him love and “adopt” children with my mom for years. He just wore such pride on his face when he held her the first time, and I had to look away to avoid openly crying. Throughout the trying times he had never uttered one foul, or unloving word to me, while my mom and I would battle round and round, he would just sit quietly by, and he just loved me. I think he always knew I would come back, but my mom who had never experienced that kind of anger, and disobedience in me, didn’t know what to do. She went through a spell during the time of chaos and he called to talk to me, and all he asked was that I would call my mom. “Just call her Melissa, she needs you right now. Do this for me, please; I need her and she isn’t the same right now.” It’s all I needed. I called and we talked and things slowly began to improve. By the time Cash was born we had begun to heal. I didn’t know how little time I would have left to spend with him.

We lost him July 21, 2008. I never got to tell him how much I loved him. He helped me be the woman that I am. He filled me with confidence in who I am. He taught me to be more than I was. He loved me, unconditionally, in a conditional world. He didn’t let me go, even when I let him go.

This Sunday during our Easter service our Pastor shared a little about Heaven, and showed a clip from the story; experience, Heaven is for Real. During this specific clip the mother of young Colton shared his experience meeting his sister, a child she had miscarried, and it caused emotions, I thought I had quelled long ago to rise up. He went on to share about how conducting my dads funeral was the most difficult thing he had done as a pastor, because he didn’t have an answer to the reason why for us. I think of him everyday, I think of my little girl often. The Lord calmed me long ago with a dream of her. How beautiful she was, so like Loralei but she had dark brown curls like her dad. She was gorgeous and in my dream she was running into the arms of Jesus. I love knowing she is waiting to meet her mama right there with Jesus. I love that my dad is sitting on a bench waiting to see us again. To hold his grandchildren, my mom and my brother and I. I love that he has been there pushing her on a heavenly swing or flying around, or sitting at the feet of Jesus, or doing whatever else he can do in heaven. I have such comfort knowing that all I didn’t say on Earth to my dad, isn’t even going to matter in the realm of heaven.

I love that Jesus who loves me infinitely more than my dad ever could is in heaven right now… waitin’ on a woman.

Love & Respect- In the Beginning

I have been listening to Dave Ramsey’s Live  and Archived shows lately, because I know what goes into me, comes out of me, and I want to leave a legacy. A strong legacy. A family others want to model their family after, one that honors the Lord, and makes the tough decisions for the short term to pay off big time in the long run.

His show has a commercial for “Love & Respect” written by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, and it really caught my attention. Within the commercial Dr. Eggerichs made a comment that just captured me, and since I will mess it up, I am going to paraphrase it, “Unconditional Respect is respecting my husband, because it’s what God asks of me, not what my husband fails to do to “earn” my respect.” I definitely butchered that, but that is the basic concept.

Little preview into my life. I don’t tend to see myself as disrespectful; I am typically kind, until my tongue gets out of control- which happens. I am gentle unless I must be bold. I love my husband, more than most anything, even on days I can’t stand him and wish I didn’t have to see him. Is that honest enough? Even on those days there is something on the inside of me that REFUSES to quit. I Refuse… Kentucky had a slogan last year for their Boys Basketball Team- Refuse to Lose… That’s me, everyday. On days he and I want to give up, we dig in our heels. If we didn’t, if we weren’t so very stubborn, we would not have made it past a month of marriage. He and I have both voiced that we just have to stick it out whether we want to or not. That’s not how we WANT to live, but it is how we have lived.

Until now. I found something in this book, that made me feel like I saw Tim for the first time. Really saw him. Understood why he says I don’t listen to him, and looks at me with such frustration, hurt and anger. I got it! Here’s the scoop- not the whole carton, for that you will need to invest in your marriage, and get a copy of this book. Seriously. I disrespect him. A lot. Way more than I would have said before I read this book. In a counseling session last summer, I remember looking directly into his eyes and saying, “You want me to respect you? Are you KIDDING? Do you not know respect has to be EARNED? I love you, but I do not respect you.” I saw the light leave his eyes and I was disappointed in myself for hurting him, but justified myself, “Doesn’t he know what he has put me through? This is hell on earth, how dare he expect respect from me?”

As Dr. Eggerichs teaches, If He told me He didn’t love me, or that love must be earned, or that he respected me but didn’t love me- I would be crushed. It is the same emotion Tim experiences when I boldy tell and show him that I do not respect him.

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

It doesn’t say, “He must be worthy of your respect.” “He must never hurt you, and then you shall give him your respect.” or “If you feel love for one another, you must give him your respect.” OOOUUCH.

This hurt me so much, because I felt a blow to my gut. I don’t treat him with respect, and in front of people, I tend to be even worse, even if I am being honest, I should know it’s better to keep my mouth closed that hurt my husband through disrespectful words or actions. I have mastered the rolling eyes, half cocked head, and sigh of disappointment. I have cut him with words in front of others and forgotten that until he came to me, he was an athlete; a good athlete, one highly valued and respected by those around him. When I came along I not only showed him disrespect but  I injured his pride and taught him that while he was accustomed to woman falling all over him for his athletic prowess, that I saw nothing in him to fawn over, at all.

I am so grateful for this book, this is the third day of having it in my possession and I am certain to be finished today, and practicing these easily applied principles to turn my marriage around.

For the 1st time in almost 9 years of marriage, I see that I have to own the fault, not of everything, but at the core of this marriage there is a dysfunction that I alone caused.

Check this book out! If for no other reason than verifying that you “DO” respect your husband. I wonder how many wonderful occasions in our relationship I missed due to my lack of giving him something that God called me to give him. Tim doesn’t ask for my respect but the Lord determined for him, that I was to be respectful period, regardless of his level of “worthiness”.

Blessings, 

mel

Nothing Is More Free Than Your Will

I am consistently amazed by what my children say and do.

Sometimes I feel like the smile stuck to my face due to Cash’s crazy antics will never go away; my cheeks hurt and my tummy is normally tied up in laughing knots.

Loralei will say something so kind, beyond her years ,that will bring me such inner joy that her heart is so sweet that I am overwhelmed with emotion.

And then…

There are days…

some of you know what I am talking about… where…oh…

It takes a miracle from God, to renew my mind, body and spirit to view them out of Christ’s eyes instead of my human eyes.

My human eyes… whew-  they are like laser beams when I am upset- frustrated of angry.

That is when I transform negatively into the Hulk, and smash becomes my attitude.

I have given you access to my most inner failing. I am so far from perfect. I write this blog because when I write, I have to contemplate my life, my mistakes, my gifts and pray that the Lord renews my giftings, forgives my mistakes and corrects my hearts cry until it matches His again.

I often realize that I talk about Cash a lot. Enough that I have to be careful to make sure I tell of Loralei’s beautiful qualities as often as a rail against Cash’s negative or comical qualities. Qualities I myself have; qualities Tim has, and qualities we have displayed and Cash has received- the good- the bad-the ugly.

My sweet boy- because he is sweet- don’t get me wrong, he calls me sweet momma, and thinks of such cool things to say and do to make me feel special; he really struggles in some areas. We as his parents don’t spoil with gifts. We never have and we have done all we can to keep he and Loralei from having “more than enough”, and to teach giving. They receive commissions each week for work they do at the house. They know what is expected; just because you are in the family, and they know what is expected; if you want to get paid on Friday. They then separate their money, Offering\Giving, Saving and Spending. He is trying to save up to buy yet another Lego set.

Last week they both had their tonsils removed, and since, have stayed with various and wonderful family members who care for them while Tim and I work and they recover.

My grandmother kept them for the first time ever on Tuesday. First. Time. Ever.

I was thrilled, because they love her and they are old enough now to behave and be helpers instead of needers.  She wanted to take them to the store to buy them something. Which is awesome! A special gift for nothing! Too cool!

In the aisle they stand, and Cash is adamant, he needs 2 things. (he needs to thank God I was not there.) He doesn’t just need the NERF Crossbow, but the extra pack bullets too, for an additonal $10.

Thankfully she had the good sense to tell him NO! When he got back to her house and started playing with it, he started whining about not having anymore bullets, and he made no attempt to relocate the bullets that did come with his gun. Unfortunately, He had the misfortune of explaining to me that he had done nothing wrong, and didn’t believe he owed his Nannie an apology. It quickly spiraled into a temper tantrum of intense proportions. Although I had to deal with the reactive behavior, I was much more concerned with the initial behavior. Ungratefulness.

Due to those behaviors he lost the gun he so desired, television, and his tablet time at home. A truly devastating loss to a 6 year old.  Most importantly, he will be going to his Nannies to work off what she paid for the gun he no longer has; in yardwork. – that’s right- hard work is good for the soul! Those who do not work- do not eat. Those who gripe and complain about a free gift- lose the gift!

He will quickly learn that the thing we are given that is free- our free will- can cost us everything or give us everything. We must choose our attitude and attempt to line it up next to His heart, if not we are giving away something much more valuable- our intimacy with Him.

Isn’t that the way of the Lord, if we seek Him first, He will add everything to us. If we seek us first; we will most assuredly lose everything. It’s a hard lesson to learn, at 6 or 90, but learn it, we must!

 

Blessings,

mel

 

All I Have to Give

I listen to Dave Ramsey through the workday. It helps me to be intentional in all that I do. To remember that I am not just a financial steward, but a spiritual, physical and relational steward. All that He gives us, we must steward over… really makes me rethink my food and beverage choices.

I heard the cutest story the other day, about a woman named Katherine. I won’t go into the entire thing, because they did it much better than I could!

This woman was saving for a car but knew a widow who needed what she had been saving every extra penny for, so she gave it away. A couple who knew her heard what she had done and went out and bought her a car. She was expressing how touched she was by what they did, and then she said something that tickled me. “I knew God had cars, but I didn’t know He had new cars for me.”

How adorable! That is something we can relate to every area of our life. I knew God had a cattle on a thousand hills, but I didn’t know how I would buy my groceries… guess who owns the grocery store?

 

Before Katherine finished her story she left one though, “I give all I have to give, because the very nature of Jesus Christ is to give; because He gave His life for us.”

Is that not beautiful! I want to be like Ms. Katherine when I grow up, a complete stranger who at the very heart of her nature, gives all she has to emulate Christ.

 

Blessings,

mel

Broccoli & Cheese

Holy, Holy, Holy

Merciful and Mighty

God in three persons

Blessed Trinity

 

I forget sometimes that there are 3 in 1.

Do you ever do that? It’s like when you eat Broccoli and Cheese… I am mentioning this, because I had some at my moms last week for the first time since I moved out 11 years ago… how did I go 11 years without Broccoli and Cheese???? It’s the perfect example of something healthy becoming grossly unhealthy!

But the Trinity is a little like that… God= Broccoli, (Don’t get mad at me, God knows I love Him way more than Broccoli… :) ) Jesus= Cheese- delicious Cheddar chunk cheese mixed with shredded Mozzarella… and we think those at the main part of what make the food so good… and they have a share in it, but the missing ingredient that gave so much flavor was the salt. I mean who doesn’t love salt? Other than the people with high blood pressure and cholesterol of course?

Holy Spirit covers us, as we are and then adds something unique to Him. His presence…, That His was meaning the 3 all together of course.

When we live with just the cheese covering the broccoli we are missing the extra goodness of salt.

I am nothing without all three of them. I am so glad Holy Spirit lives and moves and has it’s being in me. I am changed every moment I allow Him to lead me. I am more like Him, and who doesn’t want to be more like the one who is without blemish or wrinkle? ME!!!

Blessings,

mel

 

 

His life, showed me how

Galatians 2:20

The Message (MSG)

“19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”

I really enjoyed this version of this verse, and the surrounding verses. I am so grateful for the way this read… “Christ’s life showed me how”. It’s hard to make our lives line up with His plan and His incredible grace for us, and to look like Him, to live like Him.

Everyday I am praying that the Lord gives me kindness instead of censure. That what comes from my mouth, would be pleasing to Him. If all I ever do, is honor Him, by living for Him, it will be enough. I used to try to work hard at things to please Him, and the more I did it, the more worn out, I became, He wasn’t my partner in my activities, so all the work I did was in vain. I am thankful for His love and mercy today. Aren’t you?

Blessings,

mel

 

 

 

A Great Big Thank You!

Have you ever worked with people who made your life different?

You weren’t the same after being around them, day in and day out for a few years?

I was so privileged to work with such a group for 3 years. They changed my life. They taught me who I was, and walked with me in faith, through storms that alone, I could not have withstood. They were the kinds of bosses you dream of, people who encourage you to be more than you are. To push beyond the limits, to believe that you actually can do it. Who care as much about you as a person, as they do about you as an employee. There were many days of prayer, literal prayer in the middle of the day. Days that I was able to be real, about real life changing issues, and I was encouraged to keep going, and not even for their benefit… but for mine.

Ms. Sandi, Charles & Terry, you forever changed the course of my life, in the three incredible, fun, hard, and busy years I spent with you. Thank you for being people who care, and make a difference in the lives of those around you. You will never know what an impact you had on me, and by extension my family! I love you dearly and thank God that He sent you to me. You didn’t know He brought you all together for me, but that’s what He did. You built me into a strong, and capable woman, and it overflows into every area of my life.

I don’t know how to say it that will make you feel it, like I mean it, but, Thank You! My children will always be different because of what you helped transform in me.

I wanted to thank them today, and in tribute to them, encourage you to be such an employee, and friend wherever you are. If we can all be that for one person- we can, change the world.

Blessings,

mel

Pauly’s Wisdom for Marriage

Don’t you love Paul?

1 Corinthians 7

8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Alllriighhht… let’s dig a little deeper!

When I first heard verse 8 , as a married woman- who has had a struggling marriage… I was like, “Preach it, preacher!”  “Don’t do it!”

If you are unmarried- it’s not that marriage isn’t blessed- IT IS. God blesses marriage. It is a beautiful covenant when it’s secure in HIM! It is a very difficult thing when your marriage isn’t given to the Lord by BOTH of you each day. I am as guilty of this as my husband is.

Then I read verse 9. Oook… If they cannot control themselves, they should marry- HOLD IT right there Pal!

Paul- are you crazy?

He is a man of the faith and it’s in the Bible so I have to obey it. . . but I am saying, for real. If you can not control yourself and you are burning with lust unmarried- you will do it when you are married. It’s a self control issue. This is an area of your life you need to MASTER before marriage. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get married if you struggle once in a while, but if this is an everyday issue for you, learn to lay it down at the cross daily, before your actions bring pain to the person you pledge yourself for “All of eternity” -not until they don’t make you happy anymore.

P.S. It’s not about you. Key phrase of my life. It’s about HIM- The One. The Creator, and Giver of every good and perfect thing! If He allows you to marry- He has every intention of helping you stay that way.

Back to good ‘Ole Paul- be reasonable. If you are checking out other people before you get married- there is either something you need to work on, or He may have another plan for you. Love isn’t stars in the sky and everyone smiling and singing. It isn’t. It’s having every reason to leave, and every person you respect telling you that you can, and Biblically it would even be ok; and you saying I am in this for the glory of Christ Jesus.

It is holding a picture of your spouse at 6 years old, and saying- “I will not let that little boy down. I will become the women the Lord intended me to be when He created that handsome little guy.” It’s keeping that picture nearby and using hurt you feel to propel you into the arms of Christ and lift that little, but now big guy up!

Today- He has a plan, married, unmarried, thinking about getting married, having children old enough to get married- lift up the people around you. This covenant isn’t easy, but it is world changing- let’s do marriage right, and the world will want to follow the God who heals the broken, and makes whole the wounds of the hurting.

Blessings,

mel

 

 

His Workmanship- but What Work?

Did you read “A Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren?
I remember when this book came out and people were buying it like it was candy on the $.10 rack. Did you have one of those in the convenience store near you growing up? Loved me some tootsies and bit ‘o honey’s… mmmm good… but back to the book- I am easily distracted by food and candy… and Dr. Pepper!

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I remember learning that verse and I had a key chain that would remind me anytime I looked down. I would feel that little tag everytime I left the house, or got into my car and I was reminded that He planned my days long ago, and He didn’t leave me here for giggles. Over time I have forgotten that I was given a mission- an absolute purpose in this life. I am like many of you. I don’t know what that purpose is. I search, but I do not find, I knock and it hasn’t been answered yet, but I am comforted, that HE WILL answer. My time table is not His. My plans are not His. My goals, dreams and ambitions, are not His. His are perfect and they lead me only down paths of righteousness for His namesake. I do desire to know. I want to experience His fullness, and right now the only times I feel Him, are tapping out some words on here, or singing to Him.

He is so glorious, and I love Him so, I get lost in relationships. I often pray that relationships will be the area the Lord doesn’t use me. I know that is a terrible thing to pray, but I am not good at relationships. I struggle. I see my side and only my side, I feel compassion, but not enough to change my stance. I am unwavering and loyal to a fault- but what does that mean anyway, loyalty is honored by God, right? I mean whoever came out with that phrase didn’t know what servant leadership was, to serve and follow the authority above you, even when you don’t agree. It’s kinda like eating the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle- something I have never done, but I hear it’s the pits… but not when you are doing it. The next day you wake up and realize you don’t know what happened the night before, following the Lord can be like that, but in beautiful ways. He helps you forget the heartache of your decisions, and turns you towards compassion when contempt was your first reaction. He gives you little memory of the days where you suffered long, and instead shows you how His glory was manifest.

What I would give to know the plan He has for me. I know it’s good- because He promises it is. I know it’s for His glory- because everything is. I know it’s trustworthy and dependable, because He is. I know it’s for eternal joy- because no matter how bad I mess it up down here, getting my feelings, and thoughts and criticisms involved, He waits with open arms to welcome me into His Kingdom. If my only goal is to practice singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” until I can join the choir at His throne, Lord, give me the strength and endurance to sing it all the days of my life. That’s all He ever wanted- to know You are His, to be willing to give all you are, all you have to follow Him.

If you don’t know what you are called too today, keep knocking, keep seeking and you are promised to find, not only the answer, but the One who gave you the question waiting- arms open, blueprint in hand.
Blessings,
mel