Posted in Letters, Life Lessons, Truth, Writing

Maybe It’s Time to Change Your Filter

Good evening from North Texas. I just had dinner with my two youngest kids (ages 18 and 11) at the city’s square. It’s an amazing place where the locals gather to relax and unwind.

Right now my current view is my backyard. It’s 79 degrees on a Texas night in July. Rare.

I’m sitting out here watching a momma Robin feed her new hatchling and listening to the thunder roll in. The evening smells like rain.

Out here on my back porch is a small 10 ft by 3 ft deep pool. I noticed its pump was making strange sounds yesterday, so I went to inspect. I screwed the lid off and disgusting water gurgled out all over my hands. Yuck. It was full of …gunk – a sign I’ve been working too much and haven’t kept up with pool maintenance. I don’t mean it was a little green. I mean it was teal with hard chunks of nastiness. No wonder the pool was dirtier than usual. The water could go into the pump, but the filter inside was so clogged that the bad stuff just remained in the pool. I changed the filter, vacuumed the pool, and replaced the necessary chemicals it needs for balance.

I put the pool cover on just now. The water and bottom of the pool are still clear. I checked the filter – it is already slightly brown. That’s okay though. It’s a sign that the filter is doing its job.

It got me thinking…

  • When the proverbial water in my life is looking cloudy, maybe I need to replace my filter. I stopped watching smut-laden movies and stopped watching TV a few years ago for this reason. Garbage in. Garbage out. Especially the 24/7 news cycle. When I filter my thoughts through my faith, it usually catches the bad stuff so my life remains clear. When I filter my life through negativity and selfishness, my life will surely show it.
  • When my life looks like the bottom of the pool, which yesterday was full of bugs, leaves, and dirt, it shows up as anger, depression, and anxiety. When I replace kind words with snappy comebacks (I’m guilty of this, this week), it indicates to me that something is wrong inside. Perhaps I should get out the vacuum (get in the Word, get off social media, reset boundaries with people) and get that junk out of my life. Some things are too big to be filtered out. Sometimes you have to physically, intentionally remove stuff (people, vices, etc.).
  • My life, like my pool with its chemicals, needs a maintenance regimen of elements designed to bring balance. When I work out 5x a week like I have been. When I eat right. When I surround myself with people who pour in wisdom. When I read regularly. When I get up early for my cup of coffee and my half hour in the Word and prayer before my day begins… these are the elements I need to keep my life balanced.

In case you’re wondering, I’m still waiting on this storm. The baby birdie is asleep in its nest under the covering of the roof’s edge. The pool pump is running smoothly. And there’s still no rain. Just a cool evening for me to enjoy my favorite thing – writing.

I’ll leave you with this:

To have a clean, balanced life, maybe it’s time for a little routine maintenance.

Change your filter. What you allow is what will continue.

Oh…there’s the rain.

Rest well. I love you.

-Melis

Posted in family, Friends, heartache, Life Lessons, Truth, Uncategorized, waiting, Word, Writing

Wait Lifting #6: What Are You Waiting For?

Fireworks are exploding over my North Texas town right now. This is one of my favorite holidays, but I skipped it this year. Oh, I had to work some, but the real work I did was on my heart.

I let it heal.

Sometimes it takes a long moment.

My long moment lasted 8 years. I’m finally ready to tell my story tonight…mostly because if I get it out, it’ll bring me closure.

July 2nd, 2011 was going to be one of the best days of my life.

I had been dating someone for a while and he was flying here from Ohio, where he lives, to spend the July 4th weekend with me and meet my family.

My kids were 3, 10, and 14. Stephi was especially excited to meet him – they talked on the phone when he would call me and he was all she could talk about.

Long distance relationships are difficult, at best. But every single weekday morning at 7:15am I would hear my phone ring and it would be him. He could not wait to say good morning and that he loves me. Then he’d text throughout the day just because he was thinking about me – until he texted to say goodnight – always at 9:30pm.

I’d driven up to meet him 2 months prior and the weekend was amazing. It ended oddly, but I was in love. Finally.

At this point I’d been a single mom for 8 years. I was in graduate school. I was teaching a summer technical writing course at the local university that summer, but school was out for this long holiday weekend and I was beyond excited.

His plane was to arrive late in the morning. I waited and waited for his call – well past the usual 7:15 timeslot. He finally called from the airport, said his flight was cancelled but he had been placed on another flight. He’d call with which airline/gate so I could know where to pick him up. So I waited. 2pm. 4pm. Nothing. I called the airline. I called the hospitals. I watched the news. Nothing.

His phone ringer was off. I left a third text message.

Nothing.

I had a massive panic attack. I just remember that my mom sat beside me the entire day. It’s one of my favorite moments with her, actually. I just remember her being close to me that day. Sometimes, even as an adult, you just need your mom.

How could I explain this to the kids? What would I say? Where was he? What was happening?

I finally slept. It was that sleep you have in the middle of an exhausting crying spell where you wake up, wonder where you are, remember, and start again where you left off.

The next day was a blur. No word. No arrival. Nothing.

The day after that was July 4th. I found myself pushing my kiddo in his stroller at the town parade. The parade is my favorite. I’d described it in detail to my boyfriend and he laughed at the Texas small town of it all. It was 9am. My phone rang just as the parade started coming down the street. It was him.

I shouted over the band. “Are you okay? Where are you?”

He said he’d had a medical emergency at the airport and he was at the hospital. He said which one. I knew he wasn’t. I’d already called them.

Short ending to a longer story: he was married.

I’d been waiting. Panicking. Crying over someone who I thought I might spend forever with, but things just were not what they seemed.

This blog is called “What Are You Waiting For?”

I told my story to say this: sometimes you’re waiting on the wrong thing.

Then again…sometimes you’re waiting on the right thing. Recently I waited almost 6 months to find a good job. My waiting and persistence paid off. I now have a great job.

Sometimes you need to wait.

Sometimes you just need to move forward.

I have friends right now who are waiting on healing – for themselves or others. Some who are waiting for spouses to come back. Some waiting on divorce proceedings to proceed. Some for a child to come home. I know two people this past week who have said they are just waiting around to die, and they hope it comes sooner than later.

I’m suggesting we stop waiting and start living in the pauses between the good things.

Hope. Anticipate. Dream. Dream BIG. Plan. Expect greatness.

But in the meantime – stop pausing your life (waiting) and start living.

Go watch the parade – even if you’re in tears.

Do what you need to do.

Today I didn’t want to do the normal July 4th stuff. I needed to spend time here with the kids. I needed it not to be a holiday. I needed it to be a healing day.

I got it.

Life is but a blip. Be present with the ones you love in every single moment.

Go enjoy.

What are you waiting for?

Posted in heartache, Life Lessons, Poetry, Spoken Word, Truth, waiting, Word, Writing

You can be quiet

The sun slowed down and
Took one last look over the horizon.
It had had a long productive day and
Could finally meander on to
The other side.
Meander.
That’s what my car did –
Steady and slow like the sun.
“I’ve been… feeling really quiet.”
My text whispered through the screen as I
Wiped an unbidden tear.
“You can be quiet it’s okay,”
Came the reply.
I laughed out loud.
I needed to laugh in that moment.
I knew what they meant:
It’s okay to have a quiet moment.
But I’m a word girl and always quickly assess
Multiple meanings words can have
If taken out of context.
Perhaps I need to be quiet more often. Lol.
I’m glad my friends get my
Inappropriate laughter.
Even via text.

The truth is
I have not shut up lately.
Not with my friends.
For context I’m naturally
Quiet, especially
Around people I don’t know.
But when I trust you
I lay my soul bare.
And do so often.

But the truth is –
I need to be quiet.
I need to take a step back and
See things as they truly are.
The truth is:
I’ve been walking in
A daydream for far too long.

I need to regroup and refocus.

This blog is meant to meander.
Like the sun.
Like my car.
Like my thoughts.
To make you, reader,
Pause.
“Be quiet.
And in the quiet – be still
And in the stillness – rest
And in the rest – listen.”

That is wisdom from one of my favorite pastors.

Quiet doesn’t always happen
In the dark, or
In depression.
In fact, the best quiet times I have
Are in the light of a brand new day when I
Sit outside with a cup of morning
And a copy of my favorite book
And just breathe it in.

So…
Meander. Be quiet. Breathe.
Thanks for letting me be transparent and vulnerable
While my thoughts find their
Rest on this page.

Rest well.
Goodnight.
I love you.

Posted in heartache, Life Lessons, Love, Truth, waiting, Word, Writing

Lookin’ For Love

My mind wandered this morning to John 4 and the woman Jesus spoke with at the well. I’m often reminded of her when I mentor single moms. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women did together. For safety. For social interaction.

I’ll guess why: shame.
She was hiding.

From other women. From society. From her shame.

That’s when she met Jesus – the man who would alter the course of her life.
Jesus was sitting there alone, waiting on his disciples to get back from town with food. He asked her to draw him some water and you can almost hear her audible gasp.

“Who, me? I’m detestable.” (Paraphrasing here.)

She actually said:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Let’s stop a sec.

Single momma, how many times have you been asked to go get your husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows you don’t have one? By a mean girl? You know what this feels like. I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of your trembling mouth. Your eyes glance down, or away.
“I, I… have no husband.”
Then Jesus spoke a truth that walked right through the solid, heretofore impenetrable walls around her heart:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
Ouch. Yep. There it is.
But let’s be real. I’ve often wondered if there was a more shameful truth exposed here. I’d be willing to bet more than one of the 5 wasn’t her own husband, but someone else’s husband. Just keeping it real.
But Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life. He did for me when I was that woman.

Forgiveness heals. You. The other person. It heals.

I know this hits more than single moms, but that’s who is on my mind today.

Girl, lift up your face.
I’ve done worse than you. Don’t believe me? Sit down for coffee with me one day. I’m not afraid to tell you about my past anymore because it does not own me. But hearing about it might just set you free.
Because if God can know my heart the way it was, forgive me anyway, give me a new heart, and offer me forgiveness and fill me up with love, He can and will for you too.
The Samaritan woman in this story had looked for love all her life, but was handed counterfeited love. I’m not sure what happened. Like me, did her husband leave unexpectedly and take her hope and strength and dignity with him?
Jesus wants to give you back your hope and strength and dignity.
Drink deeply of His Word.
You keep going back to the places you know will give you the love you want so badly, but you get thirsty again and just have to keep going back. And truth be told, you do the walk of shame all the way there and all the way home. Because it’s not love.

Enter Jesus.

He’s waiting to meet you and give you all the love you’ll ever want. Trust me. I know what you might be saying. “But I want a husband’s arms to hold me and love me.”

I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit because I want that kind of love, have it to give, yet have no one to share it with.
Oh, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity and THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes I do.
Oh, but not if it costs me even one precious drop of the love Jesus gives. I’m not giving that up. No way.

Now a man who loves Jesus and drinks deeply from His love, I’ll walk with THAT guy forever and five days.

Seriously: drink up, sister.

You’ll never thirst for love again once you’ve had the real thing.

Posted in heartache, Life Lessons, Love, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

One heart. Many faces.

I made a huge mistake at work today. To be fair, it’s my first week of actually doing my job and I’m still onboarding. But the impact of this was far-reaching.

I control 2 email inboxes from the same email account. One is my personal company email. The other is my team’s email. I was tasked with sending our team’s newsletter out to 500+ call center agents and managers from our team’s email. I made the newsletter, hit send, and waited for it to arrive in my personal inbox (since I fall within the recipient list).

It arrived. But it was NOT from the team email. It came from my personal account.

Audible gasp.

My breath caught. My lungs seized. My heart chugged deep and slow like the 2am train that runs through town. People who matter would see my mistake.

Got me thinking though. How many times in life do I live duplicitously?

How many sides can there be?

Work me. Home me. Friend me. Inner circle me. Church me. Mom me.

And how many times have I been caught saying something that must sound strange to an audience who either knows a different side of me, or who knows me better?

I used to be this way more than now. Now I try to always just aim for being real.

I find that this throws people off though.

I’m an encourager. I just am.

But when I struggle nowadays, and people read it in my blog or on my social media pages, they’re like…”that’s the girl who is always up. Why is SHE struggling?” And my private message box fills up with concerns.

Here’s the thing:

I am only ever up because I have chosen to get back up.

I’m gonna repeat that in case someone missed it.

I am only ever up because I have chosen to get back up.

Fallen is my natural state.

But see, now when I fail and when I fall, I get excited. Not right away. Not till I dust off my knees and clean up my wounds. But eventually I get excited.

Not for me. I get excited for others.

Because now I can see when someone else is about to fall in that same pit and I can say…”HEY! YOU! THERE’S A HUGE PIT RIGHT THERE.”

And if they fall anyway, I get to say…”Here’s my hand…let’s get you get back up. Keep going.”

So when I broadcast on social media what my inner circle already knows I’m struggling with, people aren’t ready for it. They’re ready for more encouragement. More happy.

But conversely, my inner circle probably rolls collective eyes when they see me broadcast supergirl encouragement when I just blew up our group or private chats with how I cried myself to sleep for the fifth time this week.

But what I understand is – I learn and grow best by struggling, being transparent, and getting back up.

I really do possess the capacity to walk beside people who have hurt me. And this is because I have been forgiven much, and have been loved much – so I am quick to forgive much, and quick to love much.

My teammates at work expected to see that weekly newsletter from the team, not the new-hire.

But at the end of the day (after I recalled the email and had another team member send it correctly) I realized that all the information I sent was correct.

And that’s the point. If you’re correct in what you say and how you live, you don’t have to worry about who sees or hears you.

Side note: it wasn’t my fault after all – my email lacks a setting that allows me to send anything from the team.

I’ll put in a ticket to IT on Monday.

Y’all have a great weekend.

Live with integrity.

One heart. One voice.

Life is short. Love well.

I love you.

Posted in Life Lessons

Wait Lifting #5: 10 Life Lessons

I’ve been searching for a job for 131 days. I start my new job in 2 short days.

But it’d be remiss of me to have a blog that touts “life lessons” and not share the ones I’ve learned along the way – so here are my top 10:

Lesson 1: I found out who my friends are.

I’ve lost a few friends along the way. This didn’t come so much in the form of arguments or formal goodbyes as it did a whole lot of quietly closed doors. Subtle. But real. And it’s okay. I’ve made a lot of new friends along the way. I’ve interviewed with people I’ll stay in touch with and gotten closer to some people I have a new appreciation for. True friends stay. Find out who they are.

Lesson 2: I CAN find joy in the journey, but I must CHOOSE joy.

I had about a week’s worth of hours, in total, of time I spent upset about being in this particular season. But those moments never lasted long. Oh I had moments of ugly snotty sobbing in my pillow, but I decided to press into God, family, and friends. In so doing, I found real joy: the kind that overcomes depression. The more grateful I become, the less I worry. The less I worry, the more I walk in pure joy.

Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25-27;34

Lesson 3: I don’t need as much as I think I do.

This whole journey made me re-prioritize my budget. I need food, clothing, and shelter. I will act accordingly once my paychecks start coming in.

Lesson 4: Sometimes ordinary rocks contain diamonds. Sometimes what glitters is just plastic.

I found out who I am. And who I am has nothing to do with education or relationship status or job status. It has nothing to do with clothing size or height. I am a rare, priceless diamond. Every time I break a little, I am being chipped out of an ordinary rock. The more broken, the more of my true beauty is revealed. Bring on the hard drops. I was not born for mediocrity. I was created to dazzle.

Lesson 5: Humility is the hardest, best thing.

Sometimes no news or bad news is the best news of all. I waited through 8 weeks of interviews with one company, including an all-day, in-house, 6-back-to-back interviews-in-one-day kind of circus where I came away thinking I got the job. But I did not. And if I had gotten it, this better opportunity that I start Monday would not have come. AND, more importantly, I would not have had the benefit of the lessons only humility teaches. In humility I learn to let go, to be quiet, and to trust God. Humility is the great, heavy door that opens to the hallway of faith, hope, trust, love, joy, and peace. When you’re humbled, don’t play the blame game. Embrace it and learn from it. It’s the lesson we should never stop learning.

Lesson 6: Encourage anyway.

On New Year’s Eve last year, I had a long talk with a great friend. He asked what I wanted to have accomplished when we sit down on New Year’s Eve of this year to recap. I said I want to have made a noticable impact on the lives of just a few women this year. I believe I threw out the number 30. We committed this to prayer. I stopped counting a while ago. Over the past 131 days, the number of women I’ve reached exceeds the number of days. Not a humble brag. Facts. You’ll get what you pray for when you pray for that which is in God’s will.

Life is tough. Encourage anyway.

Lesson 7: Narrow your circle.

I have 3 good friends in my circle. 3 friends who get the bad selfies. The ugly-cry days. The mountain-top-moments. And I get theirs. They speak truth in love and they do it consistently and well. They encourage me to be my best, and I return the love.

Narrow your circle, broaden your reach.

Lesson 8: Patience is a minor form of insanity disguised as a virtue.

LOL. But seriously, practice patience or the waiting will drive you mad.

Lesson 9: Never stop learning.

In the past 6 months I’ve read the entire Bible, listened to 9 audio books (2 twice), and done 3 in-depth Bible studies. I’ve grown so much more than if I’d binge-watched Netflix. Put down the remote and pick up a book, a journal, a pen, and a highlighter. Learn to grow as you go.

Lesson 10: His will, not mine.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord ’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:21 NLT

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Matthew 6:33 CSB

Posted in Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

I am NOT Enough

Everyday for weeks now I’ve watched women champion and repeat and chant the phrase “I am enough.” It’s on mugs and graphic t-shirts and books and billboards:
“I am enough.”
Really? Are we? Why do we say this? What are we REALLY saying? What are we enough of or who are we enough for?
I have a graduate degree and it took 5 months to find a job when my last contract ended.
My body aches and takes longer to recover from workouts because age is creeping up on me.
I have to hold my phone out an extra foot to read because I have over-40-year-old eyes.
I snap at my family when I’m tired or hungry or stressed or lonely.
My laundry multiplies faster than my want-to.
Oh, I have great qualities. I’m a great friend. An encourager-extraordinaire. A great writer. My smile might even momentarily cure your depression.
But when I see this phrase, I cringe.
Because the TRUTH is:
I. Am. Not. Enough.
But. My. God. Is. Enough.
He knows me and strengthens me when I invite Him into my broken places. He was with me in my long job search. When I pressed into him I found peace enough and hope enough and joy enough for the journey.
In Exodus, God gave Moses the task of liberating the Israelites from slavery by the Egyptians.

“Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13‭-‬14 CSB

I AM is enough.
Moses wasn’t bringing the Israelites out of slavery. I AM was doing that.

In 2nd Corinthians 12:9 when Paul asked God to remove a “thorn in his flesh” (a weakness he had), God said this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

I am NOT enough. I am weak and broken. But God’s power is sufficient (ENOUGH) and His power is made perfect at exactly those places where I am weak.

I’m not trying to put anyone down, just to make someone think twice and edit this popular saying to: “I am enough because my God is enough.”

(c)MAF2019

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

Glamour Shots

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I was purging old stuff in the garage this morning. I don’t even want to tell you what ALL I found. But I came across something that got me thinking.

I came across old Glamour Shots pics  of myself from 1995. That was the year I got married. I looked at my pic for a long while. My makeup is extremely thick and I have what I affectionately call my big Texas hair. This was when poofy bangs and a feathery look was the thing. I was 20 and beautiful, but I had absolutely no clue what I wanted out of life.

Like. Zero. Clue.

The girl I was back then thought she had knew what she wanted. Note the engagement ring in the pic. She had a good job as a retail manager. She was planning a wedding, ran 3 miles a day, and was at her ideal weight.

Here’s the deal – the 20-year-old girl in the picture would never have known what she really wanted or needed if she did not go through all the heartache she went through to get her to today: age 44 and 13 days.

That pic was pre-kids, pre-divorce, pre-assault(s), pre-brother’s death to Cancer, pre-heartache, pre-financial woes, pre-depression, pre-Cancer, pre-Bachelor’s degree, pre-Master’s degree, pre-single-parenting-for-16-years, pre-job-loss, pre-so-much-life.

Right now the kids are in the living room going through the old baby pics of them I found. I’m enjoying their laughter. It’s been difficult, being a single parent. It is certainly different than I expected parenting would be. But without it, I wouldn’t have my youngest.
My kids have changed my priorities in life for sure and for the better.
I am so grateful for the three blessings I have.
I am grateful for Katie’s funny jokes and stories about life and all the joy she lets me in on, on her path to get her teaching degree. She has the most even-keeled personality – ever.
I am grateful for Stephanie singing her heart out at all times and her all-over-the-place emotional greatness. She has the best laugh.
I am grateful for Gavin’s 11-year-old-boy sense of humor. For his knowing every part of every movie score he’s ever heard and being able to sing it back on cue. He has the sweetest heart.

My bestie tribe has helped me clarify what is good for me and what is not. I thoroughly enjoy their wisdom. Without going through my divorce I may have missed out on these 3 amazing people who are in my “tribe” – my inner circle. They keep me prayed up. They lovingly tell me when I’m wrong about something. They make me laugh every single day.

But the main things that have enhanced my life and made me grow are my heartaches – both my mistakes and just awful things I have had to walk through. Like divorce. Like Cancer. Like losing my brother to death and then my sister to the fallout over grieving him. Like so many things.
Trauma made me struggle and cry and bend. It made me stronger in the weak places. If I hadn’t gone through so much trauma, I wouldn’t have so much true joy.

This is because the struggle made me appreciate what I do have. It made me grateful every single day for my kids and my parents and my tribe and all the other friends I have.

The struggle drove me to God. It drove me to soak in His Word. It drove me to be better. It made me stronger.

As I went through the pictures today, I asked God to redeem each heartache. I asked Him to allow me to see where He was along the way. I found He was true to His promise to never leave me nor forsake me.

As for the glamour shot pic – I don’t look at it and wish I were younger. I just don’t. I look at it and realize how much more glamorous my heart is today. How much more confident, secure, and full of wisdom. AND I realized I’ve aged gracefully. The pics here are 24 years apart. I haven’t really aged all that much. I feel comfortable in my skin, but love myself enough to want to exercise and eat healthy and be a better version of myself day-by-day.

I’m glad I stumbled across my struggles today – it helped me appreciate my strengths.

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 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