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 Life Lessons, Parenting, Uncategorized

How Not to Take a Toddler to Dinner

Since 1996 when Katie was born, I’ve been living The Mom Life. This journey has had its ups and downs, but tonight I’m lying wide awake recovering from surgery and needed to laugh, so I’m reminiscing about a couple of the crazy moments I’ve had with my crew.
Early in 2004, during my first full year of single-parenting, I took my girls, ages 3 and 7, to our favorite Italian restaurant. It was a little hole-in-the-wall with great pizza at less-than-great-prices (at least on my budget back then). It was one of those nights where the girls wanted to get out, so Luigi’s it was. We sat, mostly quietly, while a couple in the corner had their sweet, awkward, mushy first date, an older couple held hands, and you could cut the sappy romance with a knife. I’d been busy cutting up the girls’ food, helping them eat, and chatting with Katie about school. My food by now was cold and mostly untouched. I looked up to see that 3-year-old Stephanie was literally wearing her spaghetti sauce. I got looks from other patrons as spaghetti and sauce was everywhere, Stephanie was laughing like crazy about it, and Katie needed to “go”, so I took their little hands and found the ladies’ room. I cleaned (practically bathed) Stephanie and wiped bottoms and washed little hands and walked back to our now perfectly clean table. Someone had come by and cleaned off our table while we were in the restroom because they thought we’d left the restaurant. I’ll remind you – I had hardly touched this beyond-my-budget meal. Katie was uncharacteristically mad – “where’s my plate…I wasn’t finished.” Stephanie started to cry. I was about to cry. I took a deep breath. The manager made it right by making us new meals and comping mine, but by that time the girls had eaten most of theirs before the potty break and were unruly, so I just took the new meals to-go and warmed mine in the microwave at home (after bath, book, and bed-time). After that we didn’t go out-to-eat much, at least not without another adult to keep watch over our table.
Then there was the day when Katie was about 10 and I was taking a test in a class at the University. It was a final exam, but Katie had strep throat, I didn’t have a sitter, and I couldn’t miss the exam. My professor was livid. He was afraid she’d get everyone sick, and that I’d somehow cheat. I somehow convinced him otherwise. So there I sat in the very back of a lecture hall on the floor with a feverish Katie fast asleep on one arm while I filled in a Scantron and wrote an essay with the other. I aced the class.
As she got older, I made it a point to take her to one class a semester. One time she sat in on my Archaeology class while a guy came in to show us flint-knapping (making arrow heads and stone axes). That was cool. My girls became familiar with University classrooms, libraries, and lecture halls by the time I finished graduate school.
I suppose I could recall many more times that life as a single parent got crazy. The moments etched into my heart the deepest are when I say “I love you,” and a little voice echoes mine and sing-songs, “I love you more,” to which I always reply, “not possible.”

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 Uncategorized

Balance

Photo cred Annie Spratt upsplash.com

I am all glitter and tulle:
Painted smile,
Painted toes,
Satin – hot pink and black, the
Perfect outfit for the
Star of the show.

While clowns spray each other with
Silly string and fire hoses,
While the crowd roars with laughter,
While elephants parade in
Bright blankets and bare skin,
I wait for the spotlight –
I ascend the rope ladder, silently,
And wait.

This is not my first,
Nor my thousandth
Walk across a thin fate.
This is not my first circus.

The music pauses, changes, intensifies
The crowd gasps as they look
Up
Up
Up
At the next act…

I disappear and in my place
Is a performer:
A painted smile,
A sparkly entertainer,
An escape from their boring reality.

One thousand,
two hundred and
forty-three
Pairs of eyes wait for
Hot-pink-and-black
To take up her baton and
Balance her way overhead…
I pause, take my cue, and…
Look down.
“Never look down.”
How many times did they
Say that in training?
Focus.
Breathe.
Balance.
This is not my first circus.
But this IS my first time
Back after “the fall.”

It took me years to get up
The courage to train again.
Years to even think about the
Lipstick, the outfit,
The balancing act…
Yet here I stand,
Here she stands – the performer –
Doing what she, what I,
What we do best…

“Don’t project an old fear
On a new day.”

But with scars still present,
Limbs stiff from non-use,
Age sitting on me
Like a bear on my shoulders,
I…
I look down…
And step back.
The crowd boos
Someone calls,out,
“Come on – let’s see the act.”
Popcorn flies, babies cry,
My pride swells…
Okay – let’s do it then.
The first step wasn’t so hard,
Nor the second.

All of a sudden
I find myself
In the center of the rope –
One painted, glittering foot
In front of the other,
Toes pointed,
Lights catching my every move…
“Don’t project an old fear
On a new day…”
And then I see it:
A camera flash
Recalls to my mind the
Moment when I
Spiraled into nothing,
Into a sickened crowd,
Taking out half a dozen spectators
With one whiff of fear.
I find myself stumbling,
Catch myself with my baton and
Dangle there –
My palms gripping either side
Of the baton as it
Balances on the rope.

Do I swing up and let myself
Finish the act? or
Fall, or fail, or
Just give up the façade?
And is it really a façade,
Or do I really possess this talent?

Am I the talent or just a trained bit of spunk and sparkle?
Well? What am I?
Fearless.
Talented.
Inspired.

So what if I stumbled?
So what if I fell?
So what if I didn’t live up
To expectations?
Fall twice, get back up three times –
As long as the get up rate is greater than that of the fall –
Golden.
In a moment I know what happens…
I have to trust what
I know will happen…
A swing will fly,
Seemingly out of nowhere –
Unexpected by the crowd,
But He planned this long ago.
This is the work of a good Ringmaster.

I take a breath,
I swing back up,
Dive headfirst off the rope,
And wait for Him to catch me.

Melissa Fairchild (c) 2016

Posted in Cancer, Life Lessons, Love, Word

Feet to the Fire

Today I’m reading in Daniel. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. In it we meet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three men who lived like they believed God – even if it potentially cost them their lives. Their king demanded for all of his subjects to bow to a gold statue that was 90 feet high and nine feet wide to show him their loyalty – or else be burned in a furnace. Talk about peer pressure! These brave three essentially said – “No chance, king. We only bow to our God.” So when they stood while society bowed, King Full-of-Himself said they’d better bow, or face the fire, then dared to ask “…and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

He’s about to find out. Read with me.

Daniel 3:16 says:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.”

But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

(Daniel 3:1‭, ‬16‭-‬18 HCSB)

I’ve read this story many times, but the wonderful thing that came alive to me tonight is this:

But even if He does not rescue us… we will not serve your gods… .”

Now that’s some kind of faith.

I don’t know what you’re facing, but I know it always goes better for me when I align my life with God and focus solely on Him.

I didn’t say it is easier.

I said it always goes better for me.

I’ve bowed to alcoholism, promiscuity, bitterness, self-pity, deceit, anger, and pride more times than old King Nebuchadnezzar had subjects.

But ever since God rescued me from myself and gave me a brand new start, my whole life changed.

You see, the things I bowed to (listed above) were actually not idols at all, but thresholds to the furnace.

Last year, when I thought I might lose someone important to me, I decided not to self-medicate and instead trust God – even if that meant facing the fire. And face the fire I did. Let’s see how it worked in the Bible story.

“And these three men fell, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said … “Didn’t we throw three men…into the fire? ” “Yes, …” they replied. He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God — come out! ” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. When the king’s advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Daniel 3:24‭-‬27 HCSB

Last year the outcome for me was like these three. When I placed my trust in God and refused to bow to anyone or anything else – I still faced the fire, but I wasn’t burned by it. In fact, I felt the presence of God throughout the whole ordeal. It only served to increase my faith and that of others. My loved one is doing great – and so am I.

This week I’m facing a potential new monsterous idol I’m expected to bow down to. It is the threat of a scary disease. I could bow to self-pity, depression, anxiety, or fear, but I’m choosing to stand in its presence instead of bow.

I will stand with my heart lifted and say,

“God is able to heal me, but even if He does not rescue me, I want you to know that I will not serve any other gods or worship anything that could potentially take His place.”

I encourage you to read the end of this story for yourself and see how it ends for the old king.

I’ll tell you how my story from last year ended – in victory.

You can read my story here.

So what’ll it be?

Bow to an idol at the demand of society, or stand in the fire with the Almighty God?

Posted in Life Lessons, Love, Poetry, Spoken Word

Daybreak in My Soul

A single point of light
Dancing on the sand
Bids the silver moon goodbye
Softly takes the hand
Of a gently breaking wave
Suddenly the shore is afire

Laughing on the water
Skipping on the shore
Gliding on the wings of a bird
One single point of light
Privileged to begin
Break of day without a single word

They say the sky is darkest
Just before daybreak
They say a heart is bluest
Just before heartache disappears
It’s been daybreak in my soul
Ever since you appeared

A single ray of hope
Dancing in my soul
Bids the shadows in my life goodbye
You softly took my hand
And the pieces of my heart
Suddenly my world is afire

Laughing, dreaming, loving
Skipping through each day
Gliding as if I had wings of a bird
This single ray of hope
Privileged to begin
Joy of life without a single word

They say the sky is darkest
Just before daybreak
They say a heart is bluest
Just before heartache disappears
It’s been daybreak in my soul
Ever since you appeared

From my book:
Daybreak in My Soul:
Lyrical Reflections on Life and Love
(C) 2006

Find my book here