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 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 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 waiting, Word, Writing

Wait Lifting #3 – Finding Hope to See in the Dark

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), and here (Minding Your Ps [Pauses] and Qs [Quizzes]).

Today I want to write about my latest discovery – how to find hope when you’re waiting in the darkest places.

“Why, my soul, are you so dejected?
Why are you in such turmoil?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him,
My Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:5

Have you ever been in a really dark place in life? What was it? Write it down, type it out, or just hold it for a moment in your mind.

Got it?

Right now my dark place is a job search.

Do you have your list? Now what? If you’re anything like me, walking through dark places makes me feel a bit lost, lonely, irritated, angry, disappointed.

How do you trust God with disappointment? How do you trust God in the dark? Just how?

As I mentioned, my latest “moment” has been walking through trying to find a job. I have a really great lead right now, but it’s March 10th and this has been ongoing since January 1st. Just how do I avoid depression and hopelessness when the bills continue to go unpaid?

For me, hope is a candle in the dark. When I place my situation and my hope in God’s hands, I can be in the darkest of places and still walk straight ahead as if I could see, because in the darkest times, he leads me.

My grandmother was legally blind. She could only see a couple of inches in front of her. We would go to the grocery store and she would hold products up close to her glasses and read the labels from inches away. But wherever she walked, I would lead her. She never slowed down. We went all over the place – the mall, restaurants, parks, concerts, ballet recitals, the grocery store. I would take her arm gently and she learned to follow me. That meant she had to trust that I was watching for curbs and obstacles in her path. I would say – “Step up, now” or “Curb” or “Steep incline.” When we watched movies or my daughters’ ballet recitals I would tell her what was happening in vivid detail. She never missed a thing (this is partly why you can read my words and feel like you can see what I’m describing – I learned to describe so that even a blind person could see).

And this is what God does with us. When we learn to trust his voice or his direction even when we cannot see the way ahead, we can keep moving forward.

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.
John 10:27

So trust. Let him lead you by the arm in the dark places. Let him describe in detail what your heart cannot see.

I don’t know what next week’s job interview will bring.

What I DO know is that I’ve followed his voice. I’m letting him lead. I’m trusting that he knows where he’s leading me. I trust that he’s led me to this particular job and through this particular job interview process. I know his voice. I have followed.

I never said it was easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing to trust in what you cannot see. This is faith. THIS is where the Light meets the dark.

Just try this week. Stop. Look. Listen.

Are you waiting because it seems dark, or are you going to trust God to lead you out?

Let me know how it goes.

I’m praying for you.

Love, Melissa

Posted in Life Lessons

Junk Drawer Treasures

“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

My Junk Drawer

I have a beautiful french-country highboy. It is cream with gold accents. On it sits my TV, two of my favorite hard cover classics, and decor that I change with the seasons. It is my favorite piece of bedroom furniture.

Anyone who walks into my bedroom wants to sit and stay awhile. Conversations intended to last a few minutes tend to stretch beyond an hour. It is peaceful by design. The walls are brushed with the perfect shade of calm. It feels like home.

But please, I’m begging you, please don’t open the highboy’s top drawer.

The top drawer is full of knick-knacks, clothes that don’t fit anymore, and junk.

Making Room

I read recently that the best way to organize a junk drawer is to take out everything you can’t live without, discard everything else, and place the useful things back in the drawer. This is a departure from my usual approach. Usually this cleaning process takes me longer because as I take out and examine what I should be throwing out, I find myself walking down memory lane. An old card from so & so reminds me of days gone by. A trinket from so & so sparks memories (good or bad). But the truth is, it’s really a waste of time to keep looking back or searching through and reading into every single thing. And I find that the more I touch something that I’ve held onto, the more apt I am to keep holding on to it. But when my objective is to clear the clutter and give myself some margin, I need to just let go.

De-cluttering My Heart

I had a conversation with someone recently where they basically said – Melissa, you have an old hurt that you need to move past.

What I realized is that my heart is like that top drawer. My old approach to cleaning out the junk in there hasn’t worked because as I touch each old hurt, I dwell there too long, remember how it hurt, give up, shut the drawer (my heart), and never move forward.

Instead, this time here’s how I approached the wound my friend told me about. I chose to keep what I treasure and throw out the old junk without touching it. It serves no purpose in my life. I need margin more than nostalgia.

And besides, how can I share my heart with someone if they have no room to settle in?

It is time for me to make room.

Something New

“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:18‭-‬19 CSB

It’s time to clear the junk to make room for new treasures.

I’m Spring cleaning my drawers and my heart.

God is doing a new thing.