Posted in family, Word

3:14am Christmas Morning – 2018

Early Christmas Morning

It’s 3:14am as I begin writing. You may ask: “Why on earth are you writing at this hour, Melissa?”

It’s the best reason, but if I fall asleep making the ham and Keto-friendly green-bean casserole tomorrow, this is why:

My 11-year-old son rushed to bed last night after carefully putting out cookies and milk for Santa and lettuce for the reindeer (since we’re out of carrots). He fell asleep quickly.

Oh, but this is his last elementary school Christmas and he’s way too excited to bother with sleep.

So at 1:30 this morning I heard him come into my bedroom with his Spiderman pillow and blanket and he announced – “Santa came!” This means presents and stocking stuffers and everything an 11-year-old’s dreams are made of. “Santa” is always generous, and this year was no exception. Gifts spilled out from the tree all over the living room.

So for almost 2 hours he tossed and turned and asked “what time is it?” and recalled his wish list until I finally announced it was time to get up and have a glass of milk and open 1 gift – from me.

He opened a red set of headphones. Music makes his heart beat (specifically soundtracks and symphonies), so I knew this was the perfect gift for my budding composer. He was so grateful. Then he went back to reading tags and shaking presents. His wide-eyed wonder and curiosity caused my slow-blinking eyes to wake up and remember something – I need to live like this.

Ask, Seek, Knock

Matthew 7:9-11 says “Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”

How much more?

Luke 11:13 expands this to tell us what specifically God is anxious to give us more of: his Holy Spirit.

Above these verses it says ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be open. (Matt 7-8; Luke 11:9-11; Paraphrase mine)

Wonder in My Life

Now it’s 3:33. I’m letting my son try to sleep in the living room. I’ll go check on him shortly. I’m sure he’s wide awake.

But let me ask you what I’m asking myself: “What is it that keeps us up at night anticipating good things?

I know what it is for me. I received it last night on Christmas Eve. I received the gift of presence. Presence – quality time – is my love language. I got to spend some quality time last night with some people I dearly love. Not on the phone. Not via text. Live and close enough to hug. What a perfect gift! My heart is so full.

It’s exactly what I prayed for – for presence.

Ask and it shall be given. Ask for more of the Holy Spirit. Ask for good things. Your Father is excited to give you good gifts. Just like I knew the key to my mini-Mozart’s heart was red headphones, God knows the key to mine. And yours.

Merry Christmas y’all.

Whatever you do, be present and be grateful.

Posted in Life Lessons

How Great Our Joy

In the last month I’ve had the joy of celebrating these things with people I love: my son’s 11th birthday, my daughter’s 22nd birthday, my niece’s baby gender reveal (Oh Boy!), my other niece’s engagement, a single-mom friend had a house offer accepted, a friend got a new car, my cousin and his wife welcomed a precious newborn.
Conversely I’ve mourned these losses with other friends and loved ones: a grandparent, a baby, a Dad, a beloved pet, so many friend’s jobs (contracts end this time of year), a friend, a sibling, a spouse (to death or divorce), the hope of a future spouse to a break-up, an addict friend’s return to addiction. Legal, financial, physical, and marital troubles seem to lurk around every corner.
Life ebbs and flows. Circumstances bend and change.
What remains constant for me is a deeply entrenched Hope in the Lord. An unvarying Truth: God is a good God. An unshakable Joy in the Lord.

My Dad says this:
• Pleasure is a physical response to external realities.
• Happiness is an emotional response to internal realities.
• Joy is a spiritual response to eternal realities.

My first physical response to loss is usually frustration and anger. I want them or it back. Immediately. *insert verbal tantrum*

My typical emotional response to loss is depression. I just shut down altogether. I’d rather not deal with it, so I sleep. A lot.

My self-centered spiritual reaction to loss is to think the world is against me. Instead of fighting against the real enemy in prayer, I turn on myself accusingly: “No one likes you. You’re not worthy of love. You just don’t really matter. You’re fat. You’re ugly. She’s prettier. Who cares. Just give up.” (All, of course, are blatant lies.)

Pleasure and happiness are what ebb and flow with external and internal realities.

Joy is something I have with me no matter the circumstance. It is not based on circumstance but on the unchanging truth of Jesus and how he made provision for me to be with him eternally.

“Sing to the Lord , you his faithful ones, and praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.”
Psalms 30:4‭-‬5 CSB

If you’re facing loss right now, grieving is absolutely necessary. It allows healing.

But please don’t forget that real Joy doesn’t require perfect circumstances.

It requires faith.

If you lack faith, just sincerely ask for it. Watch God work.

Also, I’m a great listener. I’m always up for good coffee and good conversation.

I love YOU,

Melissa

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 Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Measure(d)

My “word for the year” 2018 was “measure” or “measured”. I stopped making resolutions long ago. Instead, at the close of each year I look back at the last 365 and prayerfully consider what my “word” is for the next year.

When my spirit settled on this word I thought to myself: seriously? Then I shook my head and plunged into 2018.

I’m a word nerd kinda girl. So let’s look up some definitions.

Measure

At year-end I can look back and see why this was my word.

This year my Doctor did a biopsy and said that if I don’t take drastic measures such as surgery and working on my health and wellness, that the precancerous cells he found would become Cancer.

He measured the size of my uterus. It’s walls. It’s thickness. If he hadn’t, cancerous growth would still be happening.

At the hospital they measured my weight, blood, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, etc.

They did this to keep me alive during an extra long surgery during which they found and annihilated all Cancerous cells.

Measured

Post-surgery I found myself in a less scientific place with my word.

Since surgery was long, recovery was slow. I had to occupy my mind so I wouldn’t get depressed. I had to be slow and measured with everything. Getting out of bed, out of a chair, out of/into a car…everything.

Life-lesson

This is the life-lesson this year: slow down, let people take care of you instead of always being the caretaker, learn to let someone else lead.

This doesn’t come naturally, but I am learning.

Psalm 46:10 is usually quoted:

Be still and know that I am God.

If you read the whole chapter you’ll see it is referring to war, and some translations say, “Stop fighting and know that I am God.”

I have got to stop fighting God and His timing and rest in the assurrance that He is in control.

I’m acutely aware that God is preparing me for a life change. I see this in some started, some mended, and other ended relationships this year. I see it in the way I approach my wellness plan. And I clearly see it in the direction God has me walking and in company with whom God has me walking.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord ’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

I get this. I trust God. So my current struggle is to measure my steps. I get one life. I don’t want to misstep here.

Dad always told me when we were doing construction projects,

“Measure twice. Cut once.”

It’s easier for me to run headlong into life and measure the damage later than to stop and take care of myself. But it’s so much better to measure twice, cut once.

Seems so simple. I am learning.

Final Thought

Lately, as I’ve been slowing down and taking life in stride, I’ve found a beautiful reminder of how to examine my days.

I find that each day has something in common – sunrise and sunset.

So these days I’m measuring my life not in the things that seem out of control (the chaos of the daily grind) and instead I’m measuring life in something only God can control:

I’m measuring my life in sunsets.

I don’t wanna miss a thing.

Posted in Poetry

Night Before Christmas, Texas Style

‘T’were the night a’fore Christmas, when throughout the ranch,
Not an oak tree was stirring, not even a branch;
Our workboots were set by the fireplace with care,
In hopes that Ole Santy Claus soon would appear;
The kiddos were bunked-in all snug in their beds,
While pictures of candy-canes two-stepped in their heads;
This momma was half-asleep with a youngun’ on her lap,
Watching Weatherscan and thinking 65 degrees was a cold-snap,

When out from the driveway there came such a noise,
I put the baby down and jumped up outta my lazy-boy.
Away to the winda I ran in a hurry,
Jerked open the miniblinds to see what was the worry.

The moon on the tops of the dried-leaves below
Let me know this was Texas and there wouldn’t be snow,
When, what to my dumb-fuzzled eyes should appear,
But a red Chevy truck, and eight Longhorns diguised as reindeer,

With a little ole driver, so rowdy and quick,
I knew in a second it was surely St. Nick.
More rapid than the Eagles–his reindeer they came,
And he hooped, and he hollared, and shouted their names:

“Now, CRASHER! now, STOMPER! LINE-DANCER! and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, BLUNDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now flash away! Flash away! Flash away all!”

As quickly as a cheapskate on Black Friday drives,
And runs to door-busters – soon as she arrives,
So up to the roof-top the Longhorns they flew,
With the truckbed full of toys, and Ole Santy Claus too.

And then, in a twinklin’, I heard on the roof
The dancin’ and prancin’ of each little hoof.
As I pulled in my hand, and was spinnin’ around,
Down the chimney Ole Santy Claus came with a bound.

He was dressed all in denim, from his head to his foot,
And his boots were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bushel of toys he had in a Wal-Mart sack,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were all rosy like a plump Sonic cherry!
His sweet little mouth was drawn up in a grin,
And he had a goatee surrounding his chin;
The end of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And a sign that said “No Smoking” caused him quite some grief;
He had broad shoulders and an unsightly beer-belly,
That shook when he laughed like a jar full of jelly.

He was tall and quite stocky, a peculiar sized elf,
And I smirked when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a grin ear-to-ear,
Soon allowed me to know I had nothin’ to fear;

He was too quiet for my likin’, but went straight to his work,
He filled our Justin workboots; then turned with a smirk,
And brushing the soot off the front of his clothes,
With a tip of his Stetson, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his Chevy, to his boys hollared git-up,
And away they all flew in his red Chevy truck.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“MERRY CHRISTMAS, Y’ALL, AND TO Y’ALL A GOOD-NIGHT.”

“Night Before Christmas, Texas Style”
Melissa Fairchild (c) 2007 (revised 2018)
You may share, but please give credit.

Posted in family, Friends, Life Lessons, Love, Word

When the Unexpected Happens

Has your life ever come to an end punctuation that you weren’t quite expecting? Haven’t you been so sure of one thing, only to, at the turn of a phrase, been suddenly unsure, and ended your sentence with a question mark instead of an exclamation point?! (Okay – that’s the word nerd in me.)

More practical:
Have you ever gone home to what you thought was a solid marriage, but then had to pack your bags suddenly because you discovered your spouse was cheating or wanting out? Or have you ever had an unexpected Cancer diagnosis? Or have you ever gone to work carefree one morning only to find out your job was suddenly ending? Or been in the car talking about dinner one minute and been hit by a deer the next and found yourself covered in glass and debris? That last one happened to one of my best friends this week. (Praise God she’s recovering well.)

I’m saying – there’s not much in life that is constant. At least not in mine. I feel like for the past 16 years I have been living in “what if” mode.

I’m constantly wondering what’s next.

But I’ve found some constants that keep me steady when things change suddenly.

  • Daily Bible reading
  • Worship music in my earbuds at work
  • Family time
  • Intentional time with friends

If I am not in the Word and constantly reminding myself that “God’s got this even when the unexpected happens,” then when the unexpected does happen, I return to my former ways of thinking. These include being slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to anger.

But the Word reminds me to “…understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
James 1:19‭-‬20 CSB

And that, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.”
Psalms 145:8 CSB

I want to be more like Him.

So I perked up when I came across Beth Moore’s quote from “The Faithful” Bible Study on Old Testament Heroes that says “When our old priorities don’t go with our new life, we either return to our old life or adopt new priorities.”

I love my new life. If you knew me before I surrendered to God, you know why. My old life was a mess. With Him life is not perfect, but the storms don’t shake me as much. And new friends and readers – if you read back over archived blogs about my life, you’ll find more storm damage than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew combined.

In fact, it’s stormy season for me right now, but you probably have no idea – because I’m in the boat with the God who tames the winds and rains and waves. Like this:

“…and as they [Jesus’ disciples] were sailing he [Jesus] fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, asking one another, “Who then is this? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey him!”
Luke 8:23‭-‬25 CSB

In my old life I lived on my own time, with my own priorities, and on the little faith I thought I had (which was mostly self-centered.) In my new life I find that I need so much more Jesus than I think I do. Contrary to popular memes, I’m really NOT enough. In fact, I’m NOTHING without Jesus.

One final thought about new priorities that go with a new life: it’s so easy in this social media era to revisit our past and to “like” things just to be noticed. Please avoid this. If you’ve moved on to a new life, just move on.

And as we discussed in my Sunday morning group, “If that thought, lyric, or image put Jesus on the cross, (if it causes someone else to lust, or entices them to stumble, or is aimed at irritating them in some way) then it’s probably not worth liking, commenting, or posting.”

New life. New priorities. New year.

My word for 2019 is “MORE”.

What’s yours?