Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finally free, UK Basketball and Life according to Me

Life according to Melissa 

1. If you want to point out the splinter in my eye, be careful with that 2x4 sticking out of your own. Wouldn't want to see you run into something blinded by that. 

2. If you don't like my blog, don't read it. I'm a writer and chances are good that I will always be.  And my book can always use more chapters of the weird and crazy. 

3. Just because someone thinks you are selfish, spoiled and an attention craver doesn't make it accurate. I may think you're crazy but that would only be my opinion, of course. 

4. If God is working in me, I'm pretty sure He'll be faithful to convict me of things I need to address.  Forgive me if I seek that over the rantings of someone who doesn't know me.  

5. I'm allowed to talk about Fletcher and Tucker. I'm allowed to be proud of them, I'm allowed to be sad sometimes. I don't criticize the pictures of all the cute stories and pics of your kids, I'd ask the same courtesy from others regarding my boys. 

6. It's easier to blame others for things you are unwilling to face in yourself. If you're lazy in your own life, don't hate on the ones doing the work and living a full life they have found happiness in. 

7. If you have screwed up, apologize. If your apology isn't accepted, that's not your burden to carry. 

8. Adding "just kidding" to the end of something mean doesn't make it a joke. It makes you a jerk who needs new material. 

9.  If you are uncomfortable in your own life, change yours. Don't throw eggs at people making efforts to better themselves. 

10. If you make a commitment, commit. Being a quitter doesn't look good on anyone. And don't lie. Lies are gross. Even the lies of omission. That's the lazy persons lie. 

11.  God can use the worst of things to reveal the best of things. Let Him, it's worth it.

12.  No one has the right to steal your joy or your smile. That can only be done if you let them. Don't let them. 

13.  If you try to convince someone they are crazy and sad and an awful person, chances are good you should be talking to a mirror. 

"Finally Free"

"And if the Son has set us free ,Then we must be free indeed
Let the chains, fall away, starting today, Everything has changed, 
I'm finally free"

I'm proud of who God is continuing to mold me into. I'm thankful for the great people in my life and I'm completely amped up that my CATS are headed to the Final Four.  

I'm thankful that I asked God to take the burdens, the chains, the things that were holding me down and back, off. I'm finally free. I'm praying for the things that are on my heart, I'm trusting that God is working in my life, and I'm committed to stop listening to the noise of those who don't know what they are talking about.  

Can't wait to see what God does with a willing heart who wants only to be where God wants me to be. This world may want to take my smile and my joy, but I'm proud of both and I'm keeping them, k, thanks!  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clothed in Strength and Dignity...And High Heels

Proverbs 31:25 "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."

I hear about being a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, mother, friend, daughter.  It's talked about on the radio, in books I read.  Sounds great.  I want to be that.  I want to be clothed with strength and dignity.  I want to have so much faith in God and my future that I can laugh at the days to come.

If it were that easy, right?

I'm doing my daily devotion, I'm having daily quiet time, I'm talking to God all the time.  Seriously, all the time!  A lot of times it's praise, I have church in my car listening to my music, I thank Him for all He is doing in my life, feeling pretty darn good about being a Proverbs 31 gal.

Then I get a phone call.  Or a text.  Or an email.  Or a jerk cuts me off in traffic.  Most of the time I can take a breath and keep moving.  That's one thing I've learned to do again, breathe.  For awhile I forgot the most basic life function, breathe in, breathe out.  I'd have a moment(s) of panic or anxiety and would recognize only that I was holding my breath once I got to seeing stars and would release it.  And then gulp for air.  It's quite the sight to see.

I think my point is, I'm getting better at recognizing things that are meant to throw me off track.  Instead of reacting, I breathe.  I pray for peace, I think about what's in front of me and how I should respond without screaming like a crazed woman and honking my horn.  Or throwing things. Whatev.

Easier to do when the "thing" that is making you frustrated is a stranger who can't drive and has no concept of merging.  Or when someone you don't care about does something that's irritating.  Minor hiccups but nothing worth losing my halo over.

What happens when something big happens from someone who does matter to you?  Or something you have worked really hard for is called into question?  What do you do when criticism, lies and anger are spinning at you faster than love, peace and mercy?

I turned to my Bible.  I went to the back of it where there's a section of quick verses to help the crazy get answers faster and I came to this.

"If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first."  Psalm 34:19

Dang, there's not even a way to pretty that one up.  If you are walking close to God, chances are, Satan is trying his best to throw you off track by some pretty hateful tactics.  When I shake my fists to the heavens and say, "Why, why are people so mean," I didn't expect to read, "Relax, they hated me first."

"Suffering proves genuine faith." I Peter 1:6-7

I know this is true.  Since I started this 10 week journey of devotional prayer time, Satan isn't even trying to be sneaky anymore.  There's no doubt who is throwing the boulders my way.  Would it be easier to stop praying, to stop reading my Bible, to stop seeking God's will?  Sure, if I were looking only to stop the immediate attack.  But I won't!  I have gotten pretty good at sidestepping those things that are meant to trip me up.  In 5" heels, I might add.

"Rejoice if you suffer as a Christian." I Peter 4:16

I mean, really?  It's one thing to say that suffering proves genuine faith.  It's another to accept that people will hate that you are living for Christ.  I'm supposed to rejoice when I suffer?

Why would I rejoice if I suffer as a Christian?

I've thought a lot about this.  Living a life for Christ isn't all rainbows and sunflowers.  I have most certainly seen a change in me that I am excited about.  I was explaining how I was feeling a few weeks ago to someone and they couldn't understand how I could be happy.  I don't have a bulging bank account, I haven't lost the magical number of lbs that I desire to, I don't have everything I want, but I have joy!  What!?  They looked at me like I was stupid and me explaining the difference between happiness relying on what you have in the moment vs joy coming from God and all He has promised us was lost on them.

Don't let it be lost on you.

If Satan wasn't attacking me, if I weren't being criticized and having lies thrown around about me then I'd get kind of worried.  I'm not saying that having those things is an everyday occurrence when you walk with Christ but I'm on the brink of something BIG here.  I'm changing my life, I'm changing my focus, I'm changing my perspective.  God is working IN me, He's working THRU me.  Because I'm letting Him.  I'm asking Him.  I'm seeking Him.

So I'm rejoicing because I know that if the prize weren't worth it, the fight wouldn't be so strong.  I've faced a lot of things in my life but I can say that I've never faced the spiritual battle that is going on around me.

But I can breathe.  I know how this ends.  I may not know all the plays, I may not know all the ins and outs, but I'm confident of this.  I know how my story will end.  When I am done with my work on earth, I will be rewarded in heaven.  With 2 little boys I love more than I've ever loved anything, waiting on me.  To show me the glory of God.

The battle is worth the fight because my reward is in heaven.  Satan won't have me.  He can attack all day long, the lies, criticism and pain do nothing more than fuel my desire to draw even closer to the One who has completely changed my heart, my life and my spirit.

The lies, the hurt, the confusion, the pain, the fear are all very real.  But those aren't from God.  What you water, grows.  So I'm going to dry it up, close off the valve and stop listening.

I can laugh at the days to come, clothed with dignity, with strength, with fab accessories, killer heels and a heart so on fire for God that I can keep walking forward, head held high, breathing and ok.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Apples to Spaceships and hard hats

There's a running joke in my family about praying for patience. Mainly, don't. Because the only way to gain patience is to learn how to be more patient. And from my experience, that doesn't come from having everything you hope for just handed to you. It involves prayer, time, trust, faith. The tests aren't always fun. Keeping it real, the tests are rarely fun.

So, I've been praying for strength.  Let me just tell you, those tests are even harder than the patience ones. Seriously. Brutal. 

Why do I do this to myself?  Because I wasn't ok just surviving the day to day anymore. I wanted to live. I wanted to have my joy back. I wanted peace that only comes from knowing you are asking God to guide you and trusting that He is. 

Life has exploded with good things.  My job is awesome, my book submission is in the final drafts, my heart is open to where God is taking me and I'm overwhelmed with the ride. 

It'd be nice if I signed off now with a I'm blessed because blah blah blah. But I can't. 

Because there's more to my life than the joy. There's struggle, there's heartache, there are people waiting for me to fail.  There are those who see the good in me, there are those who only see the bad. There are times I trust God with everything, there are moments doubt tries to steal my faith. There are dreams coming true that are wilder than anything I had the confidence to ask for and there are things that bring me to my knees. 

Life isn't about the crisis. Life is about what the crisis reveals in you.  My life has had struggle, it's been darkened by death, divorce, bad decisions, hurt, and pain. 

There's all that. Then there's this. 

I love more because I let myself believe that the struggle is worth the fight.  I hope for better because I have seen God restore in me a new being.  I trust even though others let me down. Not for any other reason than I see the good in people. I want to make others happy. I've left the people pleasing business but I trust that God can shine a light they can see in me if I let Him.  I won't give up because I know how great it feels to celebrate an answer to prayer that took hard work and determination and making the decision not quit when it got hard. 

Today at work I was wearing my ugliest comfy shoes, wearing a neon vest with reflective flashers, going on 7 hours wearing a hot pink hard hat, walking a community that was hand picked for me and just having a great day!  I'm stoked about my community, I know I will see much success, I will be part of making other's dreams a reality, I will learn about myself, I will grow. 

Because I had the desire for God to give me His best and I asked for it, believed in it and He gave me more. 

When the breath was knocked out of me around 3 with a text, I didn't crumble. I didn't fall apart. I made myself breath, I prayed for peace, I even prayed for strength, because the battle is worth the fight for me. 

I don't know who I blog for anymore. Is it for me?  Is it for you?  Is it for someone I'll never meet?  I don't know. But what is in me that comes out of me is prayed over.  Because if I could make your life better by saying one thing to you it would be this. 

Life doesn't have to be so hard. You can probably trust me saying that cause I have some experience I draw from.  Anger, resentment, fury, frustration, lies, THOSE DO NOT COME FROM GOD!  

So if you're feeling those things, consider the source, let the feelings go and turn to the one who can make something beautiful out of your hotmessness. 

Pain is pain. Right?  Maybe, if you are using it on the same weighted scale where comparing apples to spaceships makes sense. 

How bout this. We're all crazy, it's not a competition.  We all have hurts, how about you let someone help you?  We all have commitments, why not stick by your word and work on things that are broken. Throwing a lamp away that has a burnt out lightbulb is brilliant. Don't be stupid. 

Life is hard. Things hurt. People change. Crap happens. Time to put on the big girl panties and figure out what you're going to do about it. Are you going to run away or are you going to stay and change the lightbulb. 

Both mean taking an action, just have to decide whether you want to live in darkness and run from everything that is hard, or replace the dang bulb and look around. 

Just maybe, while you were sitting in the dark stewing, angry, bitter, and resentful there's been people around you, surrounding you with prayer, encouragement and help.  

You can live a life in the light with people who matter or you can keep running in the dark alone.  Sounds fun. Good luck with that! 

For me, I'm going to praise God for the blessings he's trusted me with, I'm going to make tomorrow better than today and I'm going to celebrate every flippin happy thing that I deserve bc I put in the work, my light is shining bright and if asked, I'd be more than happy to help you change your broken bulb so you can see things in a new light too!  

God loves us. He really does. We make things way too complicated, sometimes things just are that complicated, but get out of the crazy. Life will be hard. Butterflies and rainbows rarely will be seen shooting out of your butt, someone will annoy you, you may feel lost. But before you throw away that lamp, make sure you're ready to walk a long road in the darkness alone. Or with other people walking a sad, lonely dark road. 

Me, I like light. And shoes. And purses. And my job. And Reading.  I like a lot of things. Music too!  Love music. 

Go find your happiness. I can promise it's not going to find it's way to you with a scowl on your face and a heart closed off to change. 

This is me now, signing off. With my blessings. 

Blessed with good people, blessed with great hair and blessed with knowing God's got this fight. I can finally lay it down and relax. Or go paint my toes or something.  But do something. Anything. Just stop being someone who does nothing and complains when life doesn't change.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I don't suck

I'm baaccckkkk!

My life, it's a changin' and it's full of really good things that don't suck.

I'm happy again. Not just happy but joyful.  I have a new job which I'm really excited about, I've been asked to share my story in a book about babyloss which makes me proud that sharing my story will help others.  I've found some really fab accessories, got my hair did, that all makes me happy. But what I have is deeper than that and it happened before any of the good stuff. My circumstances hadn't changed yet, my heart has. 

You find out what you're made of during struggle. It's not hard to be a grateful person when life is going your way.  When things are easy, expressing gratitude goes hand in hand.  The past year has changed me and I know what I'm made of. 

I'm a fighter. At times I wanted to run away but I didn't.  When it would have been easier to shut down, I opened myself up. Being vulnerable is never easy but I found that if I laid my heart out for people to see, they didn't just notice, they cared. I don't know at what point I decided I still had a lot to live for, I guess the important thing is, I decided to not just survive, I decided to live again. 

I'm a lover. It's not in my nature to be mean. The moments I had of pure anger came out of a really ugly place of loss that I'd never experienced. Sarcasm has always flowed easily off my tongue. Snarky hasn't and I didn't like the taste of it. I witnessed, first hand, time and again how the simplest of kind gestures turned my day around. It's hard to feel like you don't matter or aren't important when a stranger gave me a genuine smile. When I would receive an email from someone letting me know they loved me and they were praying for me. 

I reflect God's love. So many times this past year I was angry. Too angry to pray sometimes then I'd catch myself praying. My faith has been tested before, never to the extent as last year.  When I wanted to doubt, I still believed. When I wanted to run, I still searched for God's hand in things. When life seemed too big, too much, too heavy, I leaned on the one thing that has always been stable. I planted my high heels on the solid truth of God's promises and I believe He's working in me. I see Him working through me. I never envisioned my writing would take me on the road I'm on but my story matters because it's a story of hope, prayer, pain and loss that is used to make people feel less alone. 

I'm transparent. I don't care to tell on myself. I do a lot of dumb things and I'm the first to laugh at myself. I'm the first to reveal my fears as well as be excited of my accomplishments. I don't feel it's boastful to speak of how God has turned what was so broken, so lost, so tired, into a life that is filled with more love than I've ever felt. 

I don't suck. All the lies Satan has spewed over me that were getting easier to believe the lonelier I felt, are gone. I'm not a failure, I'm not a quitter, I'm not selfish and I'm no longer the sad, broken person I was. 

I'm different. I'm still Missy.  Still Melissa. Still wife, mother, daughter, niece, friend, but I'm more than that. I am someone who didn't give up. I'm someone who won't give up. I see what God has made of my life and I want everyone I know to experience that. I want each of them to know what it feels like to feel unlovable and stil be loved. To screw up and be forgiven. To lose so much but be filled to the point of overflowing. 

I have more prayer warriors and friends than I ever imagined. I have closer relationships than I've ever had. I've healed enough that I can offer myself to others again and that feels so great. 

The past few months I've taken a hard look at what is right about me and what needs changed. I constantly check myself to make sure that I'm seeking God's will, not my own. A beautiful friend said to me that she sees in me a hero, not because of me alone but because of the beautiful reflection of Christ thru me. That's one of the kindest things that's ever been said about me. 

I'm thankful. I'm so, so thankful that I have so many wonderful people in my life. Knowing I can bring a need and it's met, knowing when I need to unload, they will help carry the burden.  Knowing that when something good happens, they will be there to celebrate. 

That's what's important. My life over the past few weeks has been filled with some big answers to prayers but my happiness isn't because of that. My joy comes from seeking God, knowing God and waiting for His whispers for me and being confident that I'm not going anywhere but where He leads. 

Life is hard. That is a constant. Life is also beautiful. That I'm able to believe that shows the growth and healing I've had. 

I wasn't able to move on any faster than I did because I was missing very big pieces of myself I had to learn how to live without. I wasn't able to offer myself to others in a way I wanted to until the pieces of my heart were put back together. 

And they are. I miss Tucker and Fletcher and wish they were here beside me now, but they taught me the number of days isn't what matters. They lived long enough to change me. 

I've worked really hard on myself. I've worked really hard to grow, heal and bloom into this Melissa I now am!  And I just love her!  Awesome shoes, great jewelry, open heart, ready smile. She's pretty cool and doesnt suck at all! 

I'm blessed because I'm filled again with what was missing. The pieces of my heart being woven back together has made me feel very, very full!