Posted in healing, heartache, Letters, Life Lessons, Love, Poetry, Truth, waiting, Writing

Tear-stained Wisdom

You never really knew me until you sat across from me at coffee on a cloudy day and watched the rain fall from my eyes.

You never really understood me until you let me get past the catch in my throat that’s always there when I sit across from you.

It’s as I listen to your heart through your words that I can make sense of my own feelings, which is why I always pause and let silence stand between us for a long moment before I speak.

It’s when I make sense of my own feelings that I can process yours. Then I can give you the tear-stained wisdom that is chiseled in my soul.

I never really knew you until I sat across from you and realized that we can both as freely give as receive wisdom and love.

And I’d like to know you more.

And I’d like for you to know me more.

But texts don’t form tears, or capture the pitch when you really laugh out loud, or give a full picture of what’s inside a heart.

But it’s all we can do now.

And it’s going to be really hard to give my whole heart again to anyone else when it’s broken but still yours. But it’s going to be hard for anyone else to break my heart when it isn’t really whole because it’s still yours.

I can only let time and silence and steadfast prayer heal me.

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

Girl, Lift Your Face

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 look in the mirror in the mornings. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women usually did together. For safety. For social interaction.

I’ll guess why she was there alone. She felt shame. She was hiding.

Hiding from other women. From society. From her soiled reputation.

Guilt will always point out what I’ve done (which is healthy), but shame sneaks in and replaces my own name.

Hello, my name is (fill-in-the-blank).

  • Adulteress
  • Fat girl
  • Single Mom
  • Divorced
  • Lonely
  • Heart-broken
  • Insecure
  • Flawed
  • Unwanted
  • Ugly
  • Annoying
  • Unworthy
  • Useless
  • Stupid
  • Unlovable

Has shame ever replaced your name with something else?

It has replaced every one of the above names for my name at times throughout my life.

So there she was – sneaking away to get water, and that’s when she met Jesus – the man who would change 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 (fill-in-the-blank).” (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.

How many times over the past 16 years have I been asked to go get my husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows I don’t have one? By a mean girl? I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of my trembling mouth. My eyes glance down, or away.
I, I… have no husband. He left me for someone else he got pregnant.

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.

Can I just be honest? Every time I read this story I put myself in her place, but I imagine Jesus’ answer to me would be more like, “You’re right – since your husband left you’ve had 2 other women’s husbands and 2 boyfriends you let act like a husband.”

The fact that Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life always astounds me. He did this same thing for me when I was in a similar place as that woman.

Forgiveness heals.

I want to address something else shame has done to me over the years. Because I was sexually assaulted, shame has said I’m damaged – permanently.

I hope you’ve never endured a sexual assault of any kind, but something tells me someone reading right now either has or knows someone who has.

It was not your fault. It wasn’t.

Shame likes to whisper that it was. Shame likes to whisper that if I just wouldn’t have opened the door it wouldn’t have happened.

That’s a lie.

Girl, lift your face.

Enter Jesus who replaced my name with who he says I am.

My name is:

  • Chosen
  • Redeemed
  • Righteousness
  • Beautiful
  • Daughter
  • Lovely
  • Loved
  • Lovable
  • Pure

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 gave me back my hope and strength and dignity. And he wants to do the same for you.

I had to stop going back to the places I thought would give me the love I want so badly. It just made me thirsty for more so I just kept going back.

But I was never satisfied, because that was not love.

My Jesus met me where I was – even though I was trying to hide my shame from everyone. He gave me all the love I’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 darling, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity. THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes, I absolutely 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.

Drink up, sister. Drink deeply of His love. Nothing else will ever satisfy.

Hello, my name is: Melissa, Loved, Beautiful, Hand-crafted, Adored, Poetess, Daughter of God.

Posted in Uncategorized, waiting, Writing

Startle Me Brave

In late Spring when the sky balayaged to a deep somber grey, I’d sit with my knees gathered up to my chest under Grandma’s top sheet and pull it up to my ears. The wind would whistle and crack through the old oak. If the storm was going to be bad, Harold Taft would tell me so from in front of a weather map on the black-and-white rabbit-eared TV. If not, Bo and Luke Duke would continue to harass a muttering Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard.

All too soon I’d hear the tell-tale ting, ping, ting-ping-ping of rain on the window ac unit until the room filled with a beautiful symphonic movement – crashing and flickering and the calm chaos of Spring.

It was such a moment when I first learned what it felt like to be alone and brave. Mom had taken my brother somewhere brotherish and Grandma was in the kitchen filling the house with the smell of chicken fried steak, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

I was back in the bedroom when the sky suddenly went dark and the ting-pinging started. Only it wasn’t rain. At four years old, in all my put togethers I hadn’t heard a sound like that. Ice cubes were banging off the windows, Taft was saying a “bad” word on the TV (hell/hail?), and I was scared.

I pulled the top sheet over my head and sang at the top of my voice – “a sailor went to sea, sea, sea, to see what he could see, see, see…”

Anything to drown out the crashing out there.

It was just then that I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to be scared. Maybe I borrowed courage from the sailor going to the sea. I’d only ever heard about the sea, but it seemed like a place a little girl could get lost forever in, but if the sailor could be brave, so could I. I don’t know what came over me. I was suddenly determined to go see, see, see what was banging on the window.

I slowly peeked out, swung my little legs off the bed, put my bare feet on the just-swept floor, and walked to the window. My eyes were probably as wide as any of the hail stones falling outside.

I made it to the window, looked out, and just stood there on tip-toes watching the storm.

The banging slowed, then stopped, and the rain started in again.

I could handle rain. It was comforting.

Grandma called in from the kitchen, “Sweet Baby Ma-lisssa. You stay away from the windas, ya hear now?”

I ran from the window, quick-climbed back into bed, and tucked myself in.

“Yes Gramma. I love you Sweet Baby Gramma.”

Not sure why this moment has my attention tonight.

Maybe because it’s quiet in my life right now and I’m usually alone.

Maybe because I’m in a storm right now and surprised at how calming it is to let it fall around me while I look on.

Maybe because I’m meeting people tomorrow for the first or second time in my life and being vulnerable enough to meet them means I’m risking rejection and it scares me to death, but I’m going anyway.

All I know is, that brave little girl lives in me, and we’re far too courageous to lie in bed while the world and all it’s mysteries clang and crash about us.

I love moments like these where life startles me brave.

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 Lyrics, Poetry, Spoken Word, Writing

3am Random Dream-induced Lyrics

…and she said
I still think I might have
Liked to have a try
But this is really best –
Not being perfect all the time
And when I
Close my eyes I can
Still look up and
See his face
He’s just something
I can’t erase.

Funny thing that happens
Somewhere further
Down the road
One minute she is driving
Listening to what
She doesn’t know
And all the sudden he is
Right there in her mind
And she remembers…
Random things
Like how he said hello.
And how in winter
His boots left patterns
In her car
Or how his
Crazy Aunt Roberta
Still stalks her on Instagram
Or the
Way he made his coffee
Is just how she
Makes her coffee
And the way he held her
Closer than her pillow
Made her
Want to stay in his arms
Forever and a day
But the way he
Acted like they
Weren’t a thing
Drives those memories away

…and she said
I still think I might have
Liked to have a try
But this is really best –
Not being perfect all the time
And when I
Close my eyes I can
Still look up and
See his face
He’s just something
I can’t erase.

She’s getting older now
Her hair is turning grey
She looks out the window
Of her favorite cafe
And there he is
Carrying in the morning paper
And he almost walks
Right by her
When suddenly
A smile becomes his face
So he sits down and
They rejoin the conversation
They had years ago
But this time he has softened
And two hours later
He still lingers
With his hand
Resting softly
With his fingers
Intertwined with hers –
The conversation this time
Feels like
More than just some words

…and he said
I still think I might
Like to have a try
And this is really best –
Not being perfect all the time
All my life I want to
Wake up and see your face
You’re the one
I never could replace.

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 Poetry

Unanticipated

Life has its dips and straights.

Sometimes Summer feels more like Spring, sometimes Spring feels more like Winter.

Sometimes the road is paved with love and laughter; sometimes it is washed out by torrents of tears.

When I look back over my life I’ve always known what is right and what is wrong. And I’ve always known that my God is a good God.

I’ve not always chosen the recommended path. I have scars on my skin and my heart as mile markers for the roads to avoid.

Sometimes my silence shrieks while my karaoked daily routine resounds like a symphony.

I’ve come full-circle from where I thought my life ended to where I felt alive again. I stood on the precipice of hope, only to find what I’ve longed for is just out of reach, then gone.

When the straight highway to the great unknown I’ve anticipated takes an unanticipated turn in a valley ahead, and the road bends from an exclamation point into more of a question mark, I will choose to take a moment and ask for this one thing: God, if you’ll give me more of your Holy Spirit and I can feel your presence, then I’ll continue on. I can’t live without the power and the presence of the Almighty. In fact, I won’t.

Lord, fill me with your presence in this valley so I can get to that glorious unknown you have waiting over there for me to inhabit.

You’re a good God. Without you I add up to nothing.