Posted in Life Lessons, Love, Poetry, Truth, Uncategorized, waiting, Writing

In the Valleys

I sat and watched the sky
And the prairie running wild
Up to the mountains.
I watched the blues and reds
Scatter colors overhead –
Night fell around me.
And suddenly a whisper
Came from somewhere
Deep inside:
I’m walking here beside you
I hold every tear you’ve cried,
Just look around – see:
Some things grow better
In the valleys.

And I pondered the past year
And how if He holds every tear
They must fill an ocean.
When I looked up again
The prairie grass in the wind
Stirred up the notion –
That the God who made
The mountains
Is the God who made the seas.
The one who paints the skies
Is the one who painted me,
And peace swept around me –
Some thoughts are deeper
In the valleys.

If my heart ever finds love,
Or if it never does,
It makes no difference.
Please don’t misunderstand
I don’t think it’s in His plan
To be alone forever.
But looking at the mountains
It begins to make some sense
Some mountains are a fortress,
Some a tall, barbed-wire fence.
When He surrounds me –
Sometimes I’m safest in the valleys.

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

Separating the Precious from the Worthless

I grew up hearing my parents say, “You have to separate the precious from the worthless.”

What does that really mean?

Flowers

The best parts of recovering from a Hysterectomy (it’s day 11 now) have been seeing many friends and getting flowers. Since my surgery was less than a week away from Mother’s Day, my breakfast nook and bedroom were full of beautiful flowers. A few days ago I noticed some of these beauties were wilting, while some were thriving.

I gathered all three vases together and began separating flowers into categories.

  • Dead/wilted
  • Half-alive
  • Beautiful

I discarded the dead, pruned the dead parts off the half-alive, and saved the beautiful. I cut all of their ends, added fresh water and in the end, the bouquet is the one in the picture. Beautiful.

That’s separating the precious from the worthless.

People

Over the course of the past months I’ve sorted the people in my life into similar categories as the flowers. It’s been unintended, but that’s what I’ve done.

In recent years I’ve hung on to relationships that were half- or all-dead. Usually it’s because I liked the people in the relationship and wanted to salvage something. But bad relationships can be like wilted flowers. No matter how beautiful the relationship once was, if it isn’t nurtured, pruned, freshly cut, or – even better – well-planted, when it goes bad, what once was fragrant will inevitably begin to stink.

Getting out of bad relationships and nurturing good – that’s separating the precious from the worthless.

Feeling Worthless?

In the book of Jeremiah, God’s people had turned from Him to worship other gods and done all kinds of terrible-awful, yet they complained. Jeremiah was a prophet (God’s chosen spokesman) to these vain, ungrateful people, yet he was a man – just like us. I’m sure that it was tempting for Jeremiah to start to get irritated with folks. I’m suggesting he may have felt worthless. In doubt? Read Jeremiah 13 where God asks him to take his Super-Prophet under-roos off, bury them, then dig them up and show them off as an object lesson. If I were him, I might have been bitter and irritated too. Rotten underwear are no joke.

At Jeremiah’s breaking point, here’s what God told him:

Even God knows the value of extracting the precious from the worthless.

What’s Precious?

Well I know what’s worthless: negative people, abusive relationships, negative thinking, poor time-management, saying things you can’t take back, hurting people, etc.

But lately I’ve been asking myself, “What’s precious?”

I’ll tell you what’s precious to me:

  • My oldest – Katie – taking such good care of me post-op.
  • Laughing at Rom-Coms with her.
  • Hearing my middle – Stephanie – play guitar and sing.
  • Watching my little Gavin learn to really love to read lately.
  • Having family movie night with my parents and kids.
  • Long talks with my sis-in-law over coffee.
  • Writing.
  • The blessing of good friendships.
  • Having a dear friend stop in for “a few minutes” and talking the better part of 2 hours because we enjoy each other’s company that much.
  • A good, restful nap.
  • Time spent at the beach.
  • A beautiful sunset (or a good friend who sends me sunset & beach pics from his travels just so I’ll smile.)
  • A healthy dinner.
  • A long walk before bedtime.
  • A fresh Word from the Lord.

I grew up hearing my parents say, “You have to separate the precious from the worthless.”

Now I get it.

Posted in Life Lessons, Love, Poetry, Spoken Word

Daybreak in My Soul

A single point of light
Dancing on the sand
Bids the silver moon goodbye
Softly takes the hand
Of a gently breaking wave
Suddenly the shore is afire

Laughing on the water
Skipping on the shore
Gliding on the wings of a bird
One single point of light
Privileged to begin
Break of day without a single word

They say the sky is darkest
Just before daybreak
They say a heart is bluest
Just before heartache disappears
It’s been daybreak in my soul
Ever since you appeared

A single ray of hope
Dancing in my soul
Bids the shadows in my life goodbye
You softly took my hand
And the pieces of my heart
Suddenly my world is afire

Laughing, dreaming, loving
Skipping through each day
Gliding as if I had wings of a bird
This single ray of hope
Privileged to begin
Joy of life without a single word

They say the sky is darkest
Just before daybreak
They say a heart is bluest
Just before heartache disappears
It’s been daybreak in my soul
Ever since you appeared

From my book:
Daybreak in My Soul:
Lyrical Reflections on Life and Love
(C) 2006

Find my book here

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Runaway Train

It was midnight in the sleepy trailer park where I lived 3 miles out of town. The house creaked and groaned in the night wind, but was otherwise silent. I stared at the ceiling, then at the shadows the tree branches threw in my window. They felt like hands reaching out to grab me.

I needed air. I needed space. I needed away from the creep next door who decided a 12-year-old looked like fair game. I hated how he looked at me. What he did to me. I hated the bus ride to and from school. The teasing boys. Their name calling: “Cabbage Patch” “Basset Hound”. I had decided at this young age that I was not worthy of love. My mind was a ping-pong table. My thoughts – the ball.

I had gone to bed in my day clothes to make it easier to leave. My 12-year-old self decided running away from my problems would actually solve them. My brilliant plan: I would walk alone in the dark to a house in town some 6 miles away, spend the night, then what? I didn’t know. What I wanted was for my problems to go away.

I left a note. The kind left by a kid who thought she was grown. It surely made no sense.

I left the note, opened and quietly closed the back door, then hurried down the street toward town. In my wake I left a trail of fenced-in howling dogs down all 4 streets in the sleeping trailer park. So much for “quietly.”

It wasn’t until I got out of the neighborhood and onto the open road that my heart started to race. I didn’t dare look back. I felt like Lot’s wife – “don’t look back or you’ll turn into a…”. I didn’t want to think about it, but it was surely worse than a pillar of salt.

A train whistled – far off. An owl whispered. The watchful moon lit the winding road.

I reached a curve. It’s the kind of country-road-curve where there are trees on both sides. The wind picked up. The trees seemed to whistle and cackle and clap as I passed. I didn’t have much life experience at that age, but I felt like I was in the palpable presence of unfettered evil.

So why was it that I felt at peace? Safe, even? I would soon find out.

Lord , you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. (Psalms 139: 1-3)

I didn’t know how much time had passed. I just remember it seemed like a long time and I had not seen a car pass me all night. I kept walking until I reached the entrance of another trailer park. (I did a GoogleMap search just now. It’s 2.5 miles away.)

That’s when a man in an old station wagon pulled up beside me coming from town. He said, “I was hoping I’d see you again. I saw you earlier and decided if I passed by again and you were still walking, I’d offer you a ride into town. Young’ens like you shouldn’t be out here walking this time a night. I’ll turn the car around to show you I’m headed back into town and I’ll drop you off wherever you’d like. I promise I’m not going to hurt you.” He must have sensed my fear.

It was chilly, I was tired, and confused. No one had passed me all night, right? Chilly and tired won out over fear. When he circled around, I got in the front seat.

You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. (Psalms 139: 5-6)

I don’t remember much of our conversation, nor how it was we got to where I wanted to be dropped off so quickly, but I remember he said this: “Wherever you’re going won’t solve what you’re running away from.”

Had I told him I was running away?

Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord.
(Psalms 139:4)

When I got out of the car and looked in the direction he drove off in, he disappeared much too quickly. Had I imagined him? I felt oddly at peace.

Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Long story short: I got home the next day to a mom who I’d scared sick and to a whole lot more trouble than I ever could have imagined. But that’s not the point of this post.

Let me get to it:

Even if you’re on the road in the dark and think you’re alone and that no one could possibly care, God does. He knows the trouble that awaits you next door. He knows the evil that cackles and hisses and lurks around every blind curve. He knows the names they call you. He even knows the names you call yourself.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”  — even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.
(Psalms 139:11‭-‬12)

When I blog and speak and breathe about Jesus, it’s because He isn’t a historical figure in a book – HE IS LIFE.

And I don’t and won’t know certain things this side of Heaven, but I know for sure that He is real. I know for a fact He sent a messenger to drive me to safety that night. He is Creator, Father, Friend. And since He made me and loves me – I am worthy of love.

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.
(Psalms 139:13‭-‬14)

I just wanted you to know that you are worthy of being loved.

You just are!

Love you,

Melissa

Posted in Word, Truth, Life, Love

Beach Walks

Beach Walk #1

We made our way down the crooked path lined with greyed boards and sand that led to the beach. The July wind brushed my hair into my face. A seagull cried overhead.We took off our sandals and tossed them beside the gate so our bare toes could feel sand and surf.

The sun had just stretched itself out over the Gulf Shores waves as our brother had said his “I dos”. An hour later, with reception in full-swing, we slipped out, wine glasses in hand, and headed for the beach.

We walked and talked and laughed as lightning did pirouettes on waves a couple of miles out. Small talk became deeper as it does with sisters. We began discussing my divorce from 6 months earlier, my two kids, their futures, whether I was ready to date again, and what the heck I was going to do now with just one income. I don’t recall the conversation with as much clarity as I recall the decision I made that night.

I realized I wanted to be able to afford a better life for my kids and I wanted to travel. The beach is my happy place. I wanted to be able to walk on the beach more often than once every few years (the closest beach to me is 5 hours away). I knew I needed a better job if I was going to be able to afford to do so. And for a better job, I’d at least need a college degree.

It seemed like a far-off fantasy for a 28-year-old mom with two daughters ages 8 and 4. I worked retail. How on earth was this going to happen?

I flew back to Texas, asked mom to babysit, and headed up to the local Junior College to see how much classes would cost. I came to the school on just the right day. They were starting registration. (I don’t believe in coincidences. I now see God’s hand in all of this.) I came home with enough grants to pay for school, a full load of classes for the semester, and an arm full of paid-for text books. I spent the next 8 years in school.

I graduated from there, got two degrees, and have been able to travel a bit more.

It all started with a conversation on the beach, a decision (moment of clarity), and lots of follow-through.

Beach Walk #2

Last October I found myself alone in Galveston with an empty sack for shells and a free evening. I began walking up the beach looking for sea shells and picking up plenty of sea glass.

As the wind brushed my hair into my face and lightning danced not far out on the horizon, my mind wandered back to Gulf Shores and that discussion between sisters.

Here I was – once again ankle-deep in waves – but I realized I was here alone.

I resumed walking and began to talk with God. I had questions. Why was I here 14 years later – still without a husband? Why is my “picker” broken when it comes to men? (I seem to find abusers and addicts.) Why am I always the pursuer? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Am I too old to try to find someone? Am I not enough (pretty enough, smart enough, funny/rich/popular enough)? Will I always be alone? Should I just make peace with having no husband? After all, I have an amazing circle of girlfriends, wonderful kids, and a wonderful family.

I talked and asked questions and finally made peace with this:

  • The guy who will marry me will have to love God
  • We will have to start off as really good friends
  • He will have to pursue me – I should not have to carry the whole relationship
  • He will have to be perfectly imperfect. Perfect FOR me, imperfect LIKE me
  • I will be at peace while I continue to wait

As I was at the dentist’s office today, I joked with a friend via text about imagining I was at the beach while the dentist drilled out a cavity and refilled it. I came home, slept, and dreamed about holding hands on the beach with a man who loves me. I couldn’t see his face in my dream, but he felt friendly, comfortable, and familiar. Maybe I’ve already met him?

This isn’t my normal post, but it IS what has been on my mind today and it is MY blog, so…I posted.

Keep dreaming. Keep conversing. Keep walking in the direction God has you going.

And will someone please bring me a latte?

Love you,

Melissa