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 Life Lessons, waiting, Word, Writing

The Gentle Gardener

One morning shortly after my divorce, as I woke up, I had this vision. I clearly saw a pair of rugged male hands reaching down, digging in, and clasping together underneath a wilted plant. Actually, the plant was beyond wilted—it was dried by the sun, and what had once been some kind of small growth was now beginning to fly off in the wind. It was that dry. It was almost entirely dead. Its roots, however, were entirely alive. As the hands came down and clasped together, they carefully pulled the plant out of the soil – carefully keeping its roots intact. The “Gentle Gardener” as I have sometimes described the owner of the hands, removed the plant from the ground with the roots sticking out between his loosly clasped fingers. The process of extracting the plant took some time, as the dry ground was caked around the roots. Some digging, pulling, and scraping went on for what seemed like an hour. As the hands lifted together and transported the plant, I noticed the hands, up to the wrists, were now caked with soil and there was dirt caked under his fingernails. Some blood began to pool and dry around a scrape. The gardener was fully invested in this process.

Then the scene in my vision widened out – as in a movie. I noticed that the whole field that the plant had been pulled out of was a dry, cracked land. I would call it parched. Thirsty. What once may have been a field of beautiful wild flowers was now barren.
At this point, I surveyed the entirety of the landscape. I began to have a new realization: I could no longer see the plant, nor the hands, nor the roots – because I was the plant, and I was being intentionally moved. But to where? Suddenly panic set in. What if I fell from this height? Was I destined for the fire pit, the compost pile, or – hold on, what’s this? As the hands came down and I descended, I (now as the plant) peeked over the edge of the hands that carried me. I saw the greenest grass, flowers were budding, new trees danced and swayed, and a bubbling, flowing mane of water caressed the soft curves of the land.
Water! My parched soul rejoiced! But the water did not come to quench me for a long time. Replanting was painful – physically agonizing. As my roots settled into the earth, something strange happened at the surface.
Nothing.
Nothing happened. Not for a long while.
While my roots underneath the surface reestablished a bond with the earth, I remained dry and cracked and thirsty above.

While all around me everything was glorious and full of life, I kept my head down and tried to hide my ugliness.

And then something else happened.

I began to cry.

I began to ugly cry. The kind of tears that run hot and wild. The kind of tears that arrive as a whimper, then become a sob, then a wail. I cried for a season – and then another – and suddenly, I was no longer seeing from the perspective of the flower, but from the viewpoint of the Gentle Gardener. Or was
I? Had I grown to this height?
Yes! I had. He had planted me in the center of his beautiful garden. I had not started as a
seed, but as an acorn. He saw that I had fallen on the side of the fence that did not have the proper environment for growth. Furthermore, I was not watered by the river, but by my own tears. My eyes were so swollen from crying that I did not notice my growth until I had become a glorious Oak. Tall and mighty.
Beautiful and sturdy. Arms outstretched toward the sun. Birds nested in my branches. Squirrels gathered and scattered my acorns. Bunnies frolicked in my shadow. I provided oxygen—I gave life where once I was almost dead.
The last I saw of the hands they were clean and glowing and applauding me.

Perhaps you’re in a dry season. Perhaps you’ve been in this season for a long time. But perhaps it is a season not of dying and thirsting, but of crying and learning and growing. That is where I have been lately: in a crying, learning, growing season. Let me encourage you to trust the Gentle Gardener.
Cry. Let your eyes swell shut if you must – but when the season ends, you’ll find you’re just what you ought to be – glorious, life-giving, quenched. And best of all, your arms will be outstretched toward the sun once more.

Posted in Word

My Heart’s Overflow

Lord, I know you search me
You know all my thoughts
You know when I sit quietly
Or when I stand up –
You’re there.
You understand me.
Close by or faraway you
Reach me –
You know just when I sleep
Or when I’m walking,
Nothing catches you by surprise.
Before I begin to speak, you
Know what I’m going to say.
Before I write a word you
Know how my heart’s overflow
On the page.
Your hand is on me
You go behind and before me.
Your wondrous knowledge
Is beyond me.
I can’t wrap my heart around it.

Where can I run from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
On a crisp Autumn morning, you’re there.
In this Texas Summer heat, still there!
When I cry, when I question,
When I think thoughts I can’t mention
You’re still there!
When I play, when I work,
When I worship –
Your hand always guides me.
You steady my heart with your
Steadfast arms.
If I burrow in the dark of depression
And think you’ll never find me
If I throw on a smile
And think people won’t see
The darkness through my façade,
Even the darkness is not dark to you.
You see my heart behind the mask.
You see the light you placed in me.
Dark and light are alike to you.
You made each.
And you made provision
For me to see you through each.

And you didn’t stop your creating there.
You made ME.
All of me.
Blue eyes.
Dirty blonde mane.
Curves and edges.
Heart and mind and soul.
You knew me – when I was being formed.
You saw me – before anyone.
And I will throw back my head and praise you
As I did when you and I
Danced in the dark and bright
Of my mother’s womb.
I will praise you because
You amaze me.
You fearfully, wondrously made me
And I know this and it
Drives me to my knees daily.
Bone and muscle, flesh and blood,
When I was drawn in secret
You held the artist’s brush.
You gave me life when you
Planted me in the depths of your love.
Even before this you knew me.
Knew every semicolon of my story
Even before I had a working title.

God, your thoughts are precious to me.
They outnumber the grains of
Sand by the sea
I couldn’t count them,
Even given an infinite number of days.

Every sunset – you give me rest.
When I awaken safely at sunrise
I’m still with you.
You kept watch.
You hid me.
You foiled the plot of the enemy
Who lurked in the dark while I slept.

Lord, search my heart.
Take note that I want to follow you only.
Take this selfishness,
This spirit of distraction from me.
I want to encourage and not offend.
I extend my gaze, outstretch my hands,
And ask that you keep shaping my heart,
As you did in the secret place.
Purify me, God.
Lead me in your way, everlasting.

(This is how my heart reads the Psalms. This is my personal journal entry after reading Psalm 139.)

Posted in Poetry

Hold On

When you’re struggling
Like a clothesline in the wind
With the weight of all you have
Hanging on the line

When you’re running
Like a freight-train-Friday night
When what’s behind you keeps on coming
Up from behind

When you’re low down
You’re feeling lower than the floor now
When all that’s weighing on your heart
Feels like a rug

Hold on
Hold with everything you’ve got
Reach out and take my hand
And don’t let go –
When the storm is finally over
And you survey the damage
You’ll find that all that matters
Is by your side
And you’ll find
That your hand’s in mine

When you’re praying
And the words seem to hit the ceiling
And your tears just won’t stop streaming
From your eyes

When you’re faking
When a smile is what you’re portraying
But the cracks in the side of your mask
Say otherwise

When you’re anxious
When your mind can’t catch a break and
When the demons play hide and seek
Within your mind

Hold on
Hold on
Hold with everything you’ve got
Reach out and take my hand
And don’t let go –
When the storm is finally over
And you survey the damage
You’ll find that all that matters
Is by your side
And you’ll find
That your hand’s in mine

Melissa Fairchild (c) 2018

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 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?