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Archive for June, 2005

Dsc02865_1Today was Blake’s first time in a swimming pool!  He had a blast and loved splashing the water.  What a cutie!  You can see a few new pictures of him in the Blake photo album on the left side bar.

This afternoon I saw a couple of little girls in my front yard with their dog.  The dog was squatting.  I was considering going outside to visit with them about what their dog most likely was doing while squatting in my yard.  But then they left.  And I forgot about it.  Until . . .

I took the trash out to the curb around 9:45 pm. It was dark.  I had flip flops on.  As I neared the curb, I suddenly felt something wet on my left foot.  I thought, "Hmm.. I don’t remember it raining.  Is there dew on the grass?" On my return, I picked up a scent.  Not a pleasant scent.  A bad scent.   And it stayed with me. 

You know you are a truly laid-back person when you step in dog poo, it makes direct contact with your flesh and you aren’t really phased by it.  Into everyone’s life a little poo must fall.  It’s how you handle it that makes all the difference.

Tomorrow (later today!) I officiate my first wedding. I’m very excited about it and a little anxious.  Just want to make sure I do the best job at making their very special day a very special day.  I’m very honored that they have allowed me to be a part of this journey.  As a female in ministry who often faces people questioning/criticizing my pastoral role, I really appreciate people and moments that allow me to be pastoral. I don’t take that lightly at all.  So tomorrow is very significant to me.  It will be incredibly memorable for this couple as they join their lives together.  And it will be incredibly memorable for me as my first marriage ceremony – with many more to hopefully come.

This week has been really, really busy.  Non-stop busy.  And not work busy.  Life busy.  And its been great.  I’ve learned some new things about myself this week. And I like what I’ve learned.  Some of it is good reminders.  Some of it is hard truths.  I like it when I become aware of areas that I struggle with.  I think because I feel like as long as I know something in my personality, life, etc. that I have to work on then I feel that I haven’t lost touch with reality or with my humanness.  I don’t know if that makes sense.  I guess sometimes you come across people in your life who appear to not be aware of their own issues or idiosyncracies.  And it makes you (or me at least) think … if they can be oblivious to such things, perhaps I am oblivious to such things as well.  So, when I become aware of "issues" in my life, I find good in the fact that I apparently am not numb yet to my imperfections.  Or perhaps I am just masochistic.  But hey … either way, I have something to work on, right? 🙂  So – win/win for me.

Although this isn’t scientific or anything, I’d say probably 90% of our issues are mental. Mind games/self-defeating thoughts/etc. that tend to color our perspective,  emotions, behaviors, outlook, etc.  If you can understand this and actively work to gain control of your self-talk, then you have a chance.  And I think faith is a VITAL resource in doing this.   So, I’m not just talking a bunch of new age/Dr. Phil mumbo-jumbo. 

I have a thing with trust.  I’ll just put it out there. It is naturally difficult for me to trust.  Then add a few bad experiences over life where trust was violated, intuition failed and you have hyper-mistrust.  I have been aware of it for a long time but am having to face it again.  So much of it is forcing yourself to do rational thinking.  When all the facts say its okay to trust and when your gut says its okay to trust, there is still that irrational, self-preservation cry in the back of your mind that screams "Don’t do it! How many times do you have to be hurt in order to learn your lesson?  Are you an idiot?"  You know the voice is irrational and you don’t want to listen to it but on some level you also know that you’ve been at this fork in the road before and you didn’t listen.  And once again, you stand at the fork in the road but with another scar or two and a heavier load of baggage then the last time. There is a bad taste in your mouth and as you look to the left and then to the right, you secretly wonder if you even have the strength within to try this one more time.   

But somehow you do.  Not because you receive some 100% guarantee that you are taking the right road and you will be hurt-free.  But because you hope.  You hope that this time is different.  You hope that this choice will be better because you learned from the first one or the second one or all previous ones.  You hope that you might still experience the blessings that you’ve dreamed about whereas if you don’t hope, you are guaranteed not to.  You simply hope . . .  and so far, hope is still enough to take the first step one more time.  It is still scary as hell but you hope nevertheless.

It is time to sleep.  Let me just leave you with this plea – please be careful with one another.  We are all fragile no matter how thick the walls that we each build up around ourselves.  We need to handle each other with care and compassion and tenderness.  This is what community looks like in the kingdom of God and this type of community is possible when each of us commits to living and loving in the way of Christ.  Is it really possible?  Well, no guarantees but we can hope . . .

Peace – Melissa

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OK – I have no idea how to spell "wazu" but I’m going with the phonetic thingy.

Unexpected blessings out the wazu this weekend and week!!  Holy Mackerol.

Sunday night I was able to take the night off and enjoy some great personal "we" time!

Monday night my Deacon’s meeting was cancelled and I was able to enjoy another great evening of "we" time.

Tuesday night my NCD meeting was cancelled and I was able to mow my yard. (ok – not an unexpected blessing really.)  BUT then Cari came over and we watched the movie Chocolat which is just an overall great movie – chocolate; Johnny Depp; good spiritual lessons; etc. 

So far I give the past four days a solid score of "100" on a scale of 1 to 10. 🙂

I’m fairly confident that I will have Wednesday night church since there is no foreseeable winter weathery mix forecasted.  However, I have not seen some of my youth in a few weeks so I am excited about spending time with them.

Prayers for many unexpected blessings for each of you and that God will grant you the eyes with which to see them!!!

Peace – Melissa

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Making Moments

Leaves

Here is wishing you many days and moments like this one!!

Life can be full of grand adventures! Dive right in!

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Angelina Wannabe

29m Saw Mr and Mrs Smith tonight.  Every movie I watch with Angelina Jolie makes me want to hit the gym hard.  It was a good movie and I loved the relationship battles –  both the physical and the mental games they played.  Totally into that.  Yep – tomorrow at the Y, I’m going to start working on my Lara Croft/Mrs Smith moves.  Beware if you mess with me…. 🙂

I was back to work today in the office for the first time in a couple of weeks.  A few piles to work through and much to do throughout the week but it is all good. I was originally suppose to have a Deacon’s mtg tonight but that was cancelled last week.  Then I was suppose to have a softball game tonight but the rain took care of that.  So, it finally landed on Steve and I hitting the movies and a pan of brownies.  The third try was definitely the winner.

No much else to share tonight.  I’ve not read much lately due to a busy schedule.  And I’m mentally and physically tired at this point so I’m sure I could not come up with anything constructive or meaningful to say.  So, I’ll leave it with this:  God is truly faithful.  God truly hears us.  God truly knows what is best for us and plans to give us a hope and a future. And often when you least expect it, you’ll look around and realize that is exactly what God has done while you are faithfully giving God one day at a time.

God is good.  –  Melissa

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Sleep Optional

It’s been a great weekend! Not much sleep, but well worth the sacrifice.

I’m just now finishing up laundry so that I can make it through the upcoming week.  I went downstairs to the basement barefoot to get clothes out of the dryer and what did I see but the mother of all centipedes going across the floor.  Unfortunately, I did not have a ziploc baggie in the basement OR shoes on because I definitely would have extinguished the little sucker.  Cause he was BIG.  I think he was sent by the family of the dead centipede who stills remains in a baggie on my desk.  (which by the way is decaying ULTRA slow).  I may set a trap out tonight.  Or I may not.  I guess as long as he stays out of the bedroom I can live with him.

CG had an awesome barbecue yesterday and we had a great time.  It was totally worth it to see Grady’s mad whiffleball skills.  Dang, Grady.  You must have been eating your Wheaties.  The night was beautiful and a total blast hanging out with everyone.  I also learned how to play horseshoes which is quite fun. 

Today I hit the batting cages. (literally a few times).  Getting ready for my first softball game of the season Monday night.  I was with a professional softball player who gave me some good pointers.  Ok – not professional but a pretty-darn-good player.

The week is not too busy ahead which is great!  I need some major catch-up time at work.  But I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and despite the few hours of sleep, I’m ready to hit the week hard. 

I should be posting more regularly this week.

Hoping for more "we" time – Melissa

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61005_1 Enjoy another brilliant reflection from Ozy and Millie. 

Quick update post.   Returned from Children’s Camp yesterday.  Had a great week.  The kids were mucho fun.  We (or they) swam a lot.  I supervised while sitting in the sun! 🙂  Seriously, we had a really good week.  The weather was beautiful; Windermere is a fantastic place; the adult sponsors were a blast and I got to know the children better.  Plus – one more major thing checked off my summer to-do list.  Yes!

I’m in town for three weeks which is great.  I miss my home.  My home misses me.  We need to spend some quiet moments together getting reacquainted.  You know you’ve been gone for too long when there are spiders coming up every drain.  They have become a little arrogant.  I had to lay down the law last night.   After a few free "flushes" for some, I ended up squishing one in my shower.  Sorry but sometimes you have to remind them of what could happen so they appreciate the grace they receive.  Definitely glad God doesn’t live by the same philosophy. 

Happy 60th Birthday to my Dad today! It is his very special day and he and my mom ran away together.  Good for them.  My Dad is an amazing man and I am so thankful for his love and his life and his example of a godly husband and dad.  Plus, he is just darn cute as an incredibly smitten grandpa. Happy Birthday, Dad.  I LOVE YOU.

Alrighty – I’ll get back to posting more regularly now that I am back.  I will also post pictures really soon from my trips.

Peace – Melissa

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Hello all!!  Sorry for the long absence.  I returned yesterday from our trip to New Orleans and Gulf Shores!  I drove straight 14 hours through the night to get us back and so yesterday was a recovery day.  I was without Internet service for the week so could not post loverly pictures with which to make you insanely jealous.  Yes, I was disappointed as well. But sometime soon I’ll have a photo album of pictures to share with you.  It won’t be this week because I leave tomorrow for children’s camp for the week.  Ah – the summer life of a youth minister . . .

Anyway, while I was on my trip I did blog a couple of times just for therapeutic reasons so I will post those now.  Beware . . it is lengthy.  With lots of time to read and think, my processing gears were worked overtime.

Enjoy and I’ll post again later this week when I return from camp with the children!

Peace – Melissa

Tuesday, May 31, 2005:

Today is our first full day on the beach.  I discovered last night that our phone line does not work here at the beach house.  I called a technician to come out today and they reported that there is damage still from Hurricane Ivan that hit last summer and destroyed much of the area.  There is a lot of reconstruction going on down here and lots of sediment where roads use to be.  This area was hit very hard and you can still see many scars from that event.  The phone line here is one of them.  So, I will not have Internet all week to post stories and pictures.

But I realized that even if not for you, I needed to blog.  From long shift of driving to thought-provoking reading, I need to continue with my on line journaling for my sake if anything.  I need some outlet to share discoveries or to throw out challenges.  So I am journaling on my computer and will load each one when I return home.  So even though you are receiving this in one bunch at the end of the week, you will still have access to my adventures.

Trip update: We spent a rainy morning in New Orleans – shopping, eating at Cafe de Mundo – a famous little pastry/coffee outdoor eatery in the French Quarter.  While the kids did their sight-seeing, I made another stop in St. Louis Cathedral, bought a couple of jazz cds at a local shop, and spent several minutes in a second-hand book store.  They had a few shelves of Religious-Protestant books and I was completely psyched to find two books that I’ve wanted to buy – for $4 each!  What are the odds!  I bought Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg which is the next book in line to read with Bryce and also If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland.  We left New Orleans around 12:30 pm and arrived at the beach house at about 4:30 pm.  It is a great house and perfect for the 17 of us.  It sits right on the ocean with a wonderful boardwalk from our back door. The kids hit the beach right away while Lisa and I drove back to town to get groceries for the week and pizzas for supper  That grocery trip always makes me thankful that I don’t have a butt-load of children.  Last night we just chilled and relaxed and hit the bed early.  Got a great nights sleep and slept in until 10 because it was storming this morning.  But after that it cleared out and we’ve been on the beach for most of the day.  Turned out beautiful.  Pretty soon the guys will be cooking supper since it is their night.  Mexican is on the menu.  Yum-Yum.

Reading/Processing update:  I finished Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller.  Great read and so many thoughts.  I highly recommend reading it and engaging it.  Let me share a few things that I jotted down as I was reading.

"I have sometimes wondered if the greatest desire of man is to be known and loved anyway."
"Imagine how much a man’s life would be changed if he trusted that he was loved by God." (176)

"I would imagine, then, that the repentance we are called to is about choosing one Audience over another." (176)
"Why not accept your feelings of redemption because of His pleasure in you, not the fickle and empty favor of man? And only then will you know who you are, and only then will you have true, uninhibited relationships with others." (177)
"looking for a reason for morality . . the motive is love, love of God and of my fellow man. (184)
"Morality as a battle cry against a depraved culture is simply not a New Testament idea. Morality as a ramification of our spiritual union and relationship with Christ, however, is. (186)
"… justification through comparison." (187) ** The idea that many Christians use in regards to their self-righteousness.  Compared to Joe and the vices of his life, I am pretty darn good.  A very faulty and unbiblical approach.
"What we must do in these instances is listen to our conscience and allow Scripture to instruct us about morality and methodology, not just morality." (189)
"In war you shoot the enemy, not the hostage." (190) ** In reference to our attacks on persons who are held hostage by the evils of humanity, rather than battling the evils themselves – like injustice, poverty, marginalizing, oppression, etc.

I could write a bunch on these quote but I’ll let them mostly speak for themselves.  I know you are missing the context of Miller’s book which would shed more fullness on the above.  This is why you should pick up the book and read it.  But I do think you an garner enough from the quotes above to be challenged about some of our misplaced notions and behaviors regarding selfishness, morality and compassion.

I’ve also started a book called Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina.  I will be practicing this ancient spiritual discipline with the seniors this week.  But I’ve been richly challenged by some of Thelma Hall’s opening comments – especially as she talked about "The Grace of Accepted Love."

"There remains within us a love that can be awakened by the sheer grace of his love’s desire for us, if we fully accept it." (29)
". . . the great saints and mystic have been those who fully accepted God’s love for them." (29)
"Our incredulity in the face of God’s immense love, and also self-hate or an unyielding sense of guilt, can be formidable obstacles to God’s love and are often subtle and unrecognized forms of pride, in putting our ‘bad’ above his mercy." (29-30)

These words really spoke to me because it is a great struggle of mine to fully accept God’s love for me.  I do find it incredible and I do live with a sense of guilt that I don’t deserve it and therefore, must try to live in a way in which God will not be disappointed that grace was given to me.  In a sense, it is a desire to earn the grace that has already been given to me. God – you went out on a major limb to give me grace and I’ll make sure that I don’t let you down.  Reading these words by Hal helped me to face a reality I’ve known.  At some significant point in my faith journey, I needed to come to the full understanding that I absolutely need God and God’s grace.  That sin will forever be a part of my nature and I need the grace and love of God.  But after I realize and confess this and accept God’s grace, there is not a need to continually live with a sense of guilt about my need.  To continually feel guilty and to try and deserve grace is a futile pursuit and as Hall stated "can be a formidable obstacle to God’s love."  I’m hearing this, I’m receiving this but I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do about it.  There is just a strong awareness within me that I am not accepting God’s grace.  What it will look like for me to live and think in accordance with the great saints and mystics who have fully accepted God’s love for them . . well, I don’t know what it will look like.  I just know that I want it.

Peace – Melissa

Wednesday, June 1, 2005:

I love my senior.  This is such a great group of young adults.  They enjoy hanging out with one another; they are relaxed and laid-back; they have a sincere interest in spiritual things.  It has been a refreshing and delightful week with them thus far.  We spent the morning on the beach working on our suntans.  Then headed into Gulf Shores for the afternoon and evening.  We took them to a few souvenir shops, seafood supper, mini-golf and ice cream!  We came back to the beach house and ended the night with our Bible study.  Tonight we focused on compassion – God’s compassion for us that we, in turn, share with others.  We spent some time talking about our feelings as we walked down Bourbon Street in New Orleans and whether our initial reaction was judgment or compassion. The kids were obviously affected by the sights, sounds, and smells of the French Quarter but we had not had time to process it.  I was surprised by their extreme uncomfortableness and was concerned about the lack of compassion I saw.  We had a great study and discussion tonight and were able to come to a point together where we understood that compassion is to truly love someone – that’s it.  We don’t need to be concerned with changing them or their reaction to us.  We don’t have to have some right methodology or steps to better compassion.  We are called to love because they deserved to be loved.

Had a great conversation with one of my senior girls as well that was a rich blessing.  I see a lot of myself in her and it was a joy to discover that commonality tonight as we talked.

Two things to share:
1.  "Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure." – Rumi, Persian Mystic Poet
What a truth to hold on to.  We are guaranteed ruin in our lifetime.  Some of us have more ruins then others with which to look for treasures but treasure can be found – if we look for it with open eyes.  In the aftermath of destruction in our life, we must set ourselves to the task of finding treasure among the heaps of rubble.  Look under every stone if you must but do not give up.

2. "Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with him and learn a life of love." (Ephesians 5:2 – The Message)
What a great life verse.

Peace – Melissa

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