Posted in Poetry

Redemption – A Reverse Poem

Broken
No longer
Whole, and
What once was fractured is now
Scattered, but
Love left me
I was picking up the pieces from when
You walked out the door
I thought my life was over when you
Said you loved someone else
I found my life wasn’t over when you left
My life was just beginning.

This is a reverse poem, so now read it backwards, line by line.

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized, Writing

Wait Lifting #4 – Waiting Out the Storm

For the past few weeks I have been immersed in a hands-on education in waiting. I’ve written more on this subject here (Life Lessons – Patience),  here (Waiting Room), here (Learning to Wait), here (Minding Your Ps [Pauses] and Qs [Quizzes]), and here (Finding Hope to See in the Dark).

Today we’re going back to 2011 to a stormy Spring afternoon to discover how to wait out a storm.

May 18, 2011, I set out from my little North Texas town to drive to Columbus, Ohio. That’s 1076 miles or just over a 16-hour drive. My final destination was my best friend’s wedding in Goshen, Indiana, but I was picking up my boyfriend in Columbus, Ohio “on the way.”
I know. You can do a Google Maps search and see that it wasn’t “on the way.” Oh, the things you do for love.

On May 22, 2011, I was driving back home to Texas from Ohio. I left early in the morning, heartbroken over what I could probably write a bestselling novel about, and had driven through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. I only stopped once, so I was making great time. Driving through Springfield Missouri, I was all cried out and exhausted. It was less than 7 hours to home, and I was determined to go the distance. I wanted my own bed and my babies. I put in a CD and kept driving.

Just as I was about to call home, the sky changed to an eerie shade of green. I’m a Texas girl. I know what a squall line looks like coming and going. I know what green skies mean: hail or a tornado.

The wind from this storm began pulling the car down the road. Not pushing – pulling. I’d never driven in that kind of wind before, nor have I since.

I turned off the CD and turned on the radio. This was before smart phones were so smart. That weather warning signal – the one with the beeping and squealing – was on. It was on every station.

I heard the weather guy say something about a supercell, a tornado, and to take cover if you’re near Joplin, Mo. I had no idea where Joplin was, but for sure I was in Missouri. I pulled off the highway into a hotel parking lot and looked at a map. I was in Mount Vernon, MO – about 40 miles from Joplin. I got a room and stayed for the night.

I turned on the local news and saw that about a half hour after I had pulled off the road, an EF5 tornado had hit Joplin. In fact, it leveled most of it and killed 158 people. If I had not pulled off and taken cover, I would have come face-to-face with this massive tornado.

Why am I telling you all this?

Some of you are just about to hit the storm of the century. Some of you are worn out, think you’ve gone through enough miles already, are all cried out, are ready to get home, and are singing 90s breakup ballads at the top of your lungs over your car stereo. When all the while an EF5 tornado is taking aim at the road just ahead.

I’m suggesting you turn off the distractions and tune in to some reality. Look at the atmosphere around you. Is it changing? Are the people you love trying to tell you something? Are there meetings going on at work that you’re not invited to? Is someone you love pulling away? Are you having health symptoms that keep nagging you?

Stop. Pray. Ask your friends what you’re missing. Ask your loved ones. Tune back in.

Doing this may help you to stop heading toward a huge life-leveling storm.

As it turned out, I couldn’t go through Joplin the next day. The roads were packed with emergency vehicles and insurance agents all scrambling toward the devastated city.

I backtracked and took back roads to my grandparent’s house in Arkansas. It did me some good. I needed a couple of days to let my heart heal after what I’d gone through in Ohio. Nanas are always good for healing hearts. Nanas and a good road trip will cure what ails ya.

Do you need to backtrack? It’s okay.

Do you need to stop and look at a map? It’s okay.

I just wanted to share my story and ask you to stop and look up a minute. Assess your life.

It’s okay to need to stop and wait out a storm.

 

 

Posted in Writing

I suppose

I suppose it wouldn’t be quite as good a life if every day was filled with wildflowers, sunshine, and balloons. That would make a beautiful day, of course, but how would I know it was beautiful? Where’s the perspective in that?

This is why I embrace the rainy days. Most especially those. I love the thunder and gloom and cold that makes me dig out the sweater I just packed in off-season storage.

How would I appreciate love if I could get it as easily as I get coffee in the morning?

How would I feel it’s warmth and cherish its presence without the precursor of a cold, waiting season?

Yes, there will be days like these. Days of not knowing. Days of wondering why not me or why not now or just why the heck not.

But there will be other days that far outlast these. Days of holding hands and whispering sleepy goodnights and waking, not alone. Days of cleaning house together and taking long walks at sunset and laughing at the nonsense of society.

I’ve faith enough. And plenty of love. And hope for what’s next.

As long as there are brighter days ahead, I don’t mind that there will be days like these, I suppose.

Posted in family, Letters, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Word, Writing

For my Daughters and Nieces

Dolls,

You are lovely. You are beautiful, captivating, intelligent, lovely, and kind.

As a Mom and an Aunt I feel I’ve done you an injustice by living in an unhealthy way physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have not correctly modeled “healthy” for you. Please forgive me. I plan to rectify all that over the next days and weeks.

I have not lived as if I’m a daughter of God. I’ve lived as if my worth, security, and confidence depend on the approval or disapproval of a man, of other women, or of society. Thank God He brought all this to my attention. I’ve just been so entirely wrong for so entirely long.

This stops today.

Here’s what I now fully understand: I am not the product of nor do I bow at the bidding of my own faults, the faults of others, or anyone but God. And neither do you.

1 Corinthians 3:16‭-‬17 (CSB) says this:

“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are.”

Ladies, you are God’s holy temple, his dwelling place: mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Psalms 84:1‭-‬4 (CSB) says this:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Armies. I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young — near your altars, Lord of Armies, my King and my God. How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually. Selah”

Ladies, I reside in His house. YOU reside in His house. We are lovely. How happy are we who reside in God’s house. Future generations dwell in you.

What a joy and a privilege!

Katie: you are wonderful, beautiful, generous with kindness, and full of patience. This next generation needs a teacher like you. Walk in strength, wisdom, confidence, and security.

Stephanie: you are full of light, life, and creativity. We need your gift of worship to draw us to God. Walk in love, creativity, confidence, and security.

Madi: you are lovely, witty, curious, and highly intelligent. This generation needs your steadfast devotion to God. Walk in wisdom, godliness, confidence, and security.

Bree: you are beautiful, nurturing, fun-loving, and a pure delight. Your children will rise and call you blessed. Your husband is delighted with you for good reason. Walk in love, laughter, confidence, and security.

Lauren: you are the sparkle in your Daddy’s eye. You are a joy to all you encounter. The world needs your smile. Walk in love, laughter, confidence, and security.

To my future step-daughter (whom I have never met): you are a light in a dark world, a delight to your father, and a joy I have yet to behold. Your generation needs your light. Walk in boldness, grace, confidence and security.

To my goddaughters, my future granddaughters, and all my future greats: you are lovely, pure, intelligent, and kind. The world needs your love. Walk in wisdom, faith, confidence, and security.
I love you ladies. All of you. I applaud you and so enjoy watching you become women who love God.

Our battle isn’t against Dr. Pepper, carbs, comparison, or insecurity, but against evil itself.

Let’s remember to put on the armor of God daily. Walk like you’re walking next to Jesus. Remember you have angels assigned to you.

Write this on your mirror in dry-erase marker (I know y’all do this): I am a child of the Lord of Armies and today I will walk in confidence and security.

Remember I love you. Always.

Love,

Momma, Mommy, Aunt Melissa, M&M, and whatever all you grand-darlins will call me one of these years

Posted in Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, waiting, Word, Writing

Do You Believe In Miracles?

Miracle. This word used to conjure up images of Sunday School mornings in 1984 with 9-year-old me in blonde pigtails in a flowered dress with ruffle back panties, lacy socks, and Mary Janes. It made me picture a flannel graph board with felt-backed cut-outs of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus inevitably had on a brown and tan striped robe and sandals. He was always healing a blind man.

That was then.

The word miracle began taking on a new meaning for me in April 1998. My husband had just left to go to his Dad’s garage to work on his truck, and I had just picked up a tiny redheaded Katie (now 22) from her playpen and headed out the door for groceries. It was spaghetti night.

We laughed and cooed at each other on the way out the door, as always. She’s always been a living doll.

We lived in a good-sized trailer park community just outside of town. I turned around to lock the front door behind us, when something horrible caught my eye at the back of our lot. I reopened the door, put Katie back in her playpen, picked up the cordless phone, and ran outside, calling 911 as I ran.

“Little girl, sweetie, are you okay? Sweetheart, can you hear me?” I screamed this at the limp little girl hanging from some coaxial cable some kids strung up in the alleyway from a tall Oak tree.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

I can’t remember much of what I said to the operator. No, I didn’t know how old she was (turns out she was 11). No, I didn’t know what race she was. She was purple. I reported that. Purple. She’d wet herself. She was ice cold.

I’ll never ever forget how cold.

All I knew is that I couldn’t climb this particular tree because it was too high.

Just then my neighbor and his friend came out of their house and I called for them. They raced to the tree, climbed it, and got the ropes (and the girl) down. Paramedics arrived and started CPR in my front yard while I prayed out loud using words only my spirit could understand. She was not conscious when they took her to the hospital. She was in ICU for 3 days.

I called my husband back home and we were questioned by the police. It turns out the girl was a part of a group of kids playing and this little darlin’ got caught with the ropes under her armpits and across her chest, which cut off her airway. Her friends got scared and ran off.

I was numb for 3 days. I went to work like a robot, then came home and waited for word.

She woke up asking for her Momma on the 3rd day, like nothing ever happened. I got the call and was overjoyed. That little girl – she was dead when she left my yard, then revived in the ambulance, and now she was alive and okay. It was a miracle.

The man who climbed the tree came by the next week. We went together to check on her now that she was home. We gave her a teddy bear. She hugged me so tightly and thanked me.

But what happened with the Mom was amazing. Her Mom spoke no English. I spoke no Spanish. That day we had a full conversation just with body language. No words were necessary to express her gratitude or my relief and joy.

Smiles. Hugs. Tears of joy.

This is why I say:

“A smile is a complete sentence.

A hug is a full conversation.”

When I say that, I remember a little girl who had a chance to grow up because God had me at the right place at the right time and a conversation with a grateful Momma.

Two more minutes and I’d have a different story to tell. But God…

Do you believe in miracles?

Tell me about it.