Taking the Rope

I’m not one to talk about my problems.   I’ve hidden a lot of secrets or aspects of my life from friends over the years.  There were a select few I let into the madness, but on a whole I allowed myself to let the enemy keep me alone – to be confined to my own padded room,  perhaps, or in a deep dungeon where the walls weren’t able to be climbed. Many times I felt like this: 

However, in the last three weeks I have been learning to break out of that darkness.  I have welcomed the breakdowns, and somehow I found a rope to indeed pull myself up out of the abyss.  Actually, I found several ropes. (insert gratitude)  Sometimes lifesaving devices are material, cold metal objects,  drugs, a phone call….mine have been in the form of words – words that were said out of love, kindness, and concern.  I sit here chuckling at one such comment.  If I could fold up all of my “philosophy bingo cards” (see my last post) and store them away for future posterity, one I would read over and over again came not from a friend.  It came not from anyone I knew well, but from my new doctor whom I now hold in high regard.  She proclaimed: 

I can’t wait to see you on the other side of this.   If anything,  you have the chance to be anything,  do anything, go anywhere you want.   You are a new person and you will find her.  If you want to change who you are you can. Now is your chance.   If you want to be a badass,  you can be a badass…

Yes!   She said that to me.   We laughed and I cried a little, and I knew in that moment she was right.   I remembered a quote I had seen a week or so earlier and had contemplated posting but thought it revealed too much of me.   I think it is time to be honest with myself…maybe I can be a badass.   I went back and found the screenshot which is dated Nov. 23.  Almost a month later,  I think it is time to start using my life lines


I still have mountains to climb and valleys to crawl out of during this life event. I know, however,  that all I have to do is grab on to any of the numerous ropes thrown out by my lifesavers and I will be OK.   I am strong,  as strong as all the ropes combined.  

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Filed under divorce, Friends, life lessons

Out of the Ashes

***Disclaimer: Guys, this is some crazy stuff!  It’s good God stuff.  This post is going to be extremely raw and real.  It is about my life and the life of my family.  I’m writing in hopes of freeing myself and helping others. I genuinely hope that the authenticity of my words expresses the emotion I feel inside.

 

I’ve been going through a rough patch for some time now.  I’ll say our immediate family has, and while we have persevered through many a tragedy (my view) a decision has been made that is life changing – To us all.

The Real Part

My marriage has been in jeopardy for years. We’ve seen counselors and pastors, read books and prayed, yelled and discussed and the greatest of those couldn’t save us.  Only we could save us, though it is now apparent we were not in it anymore. It was time to look at this from my counselors perspective and ask myself those things she posed to me a year ago….like:

1) Are you trying to avoid pain and are you fearful (get to the heart of that)?

2) Why would you stay and why would you go?

3) What are your goals?

4) What are you getting out of it?

5) What do YOU want?

In my case, I feel like all of those are important questions to answer before making a decision and I feel like the last one, the most important of all, is the one I’ve had such a hard time with for so long.

Recently a trusted friend said something to me that, for whatever reason, I never gave much thought to.  It’s true, though.  While I have always deemed my complacency the issue for the inability to make a decision, reality showed me that, in fact, I’ve never looked at the situation from my perspective.  In short, I have always put others needs above my own and never really thought about “What do I want?”

There is so much wisdom that has come from this friend – I could write a blog (not just post) about it.  Though I have gained great knowledge there and from a couple of other companions (new and old), it was a 5th grade book that brought me out of darkness, from the ashes, actually. Thank you Cari Noe.  Apparently God had a plan weeks ago when you asked me to sub. (Insert grin and shrug)

The Raw Part

Saturday…Sunday…Monday…Tuesday… this was happening to me:


After months of going back and forth, Saturday morning was the day of truth. My husband and I sat down at the kitchen table and had a tough, emotional decision making discussion.  It was probably one of the most logical conversations we have had in years – honest and revealing.  Everything was on the table, so to speak.

The next three days were torturous for me.  Everywhere I looked there was a memory.   Every song I heard had us in it. I ached everywhere and I wailed uncontrollably on and off.  I held it together in front of the kids and others but I felt like I was dying all over again, as I had last year.  Only this time…this time there was no going back.  There was no bandaid.  There was so much destruction that even thousands of pounds of mortar could not put this house back together. When I was honest with myself, I did not want it back together.  I had lost myself in him for all these years and it was time to find me, again. In those three days I read:

If you lose someone but find yourself, you won.

…and

If your love for someone is dependant on…

…and I do not need to finish because that statement is profoundly..Mmhm…yep, conditional.  How did I not see it all these years? You know what I know?  Love is pure and kind.  It holds no conditions. That is the kind of love I need, want and deserve.

Getting back to the ashes…

Saturday, Sunday and Monday I spent bawling my eyes out and thinking death was near.  Well, not really but I felt horribly outside myself.  Some of that feeling was the fact that I had to get out of bed on Tuesday and go teach four classes of fifth-graders, whom I love and who love me, and fake that I was OK.  I spent Monday night contemplating calling in sick, but for each thought of that I also had an overwhelming urgency to go to work and feel – feel the pain, feel the connection, feel the spirit.  I knew I had to go and I knew it was going to be hard.

I’ll skip the few tears that were shed, morning routines and get to the point.  I was sent to school Tuesday to be recreated, resurrected if you will, out of my ashes.

I was teaching ELA to the fifth graders and part of my objective for the day was to read Pax. Now, I had never heard of this book but knowing Cari Noe it’s gonna be a book that has a very endearing storyline (meaning I’m going to be crying at some point).  Yep, uh huh, thanks Cari.

Upon opening the chapter that my first class was reading, I took a deep breath and dived in.  (Sigh) Let me tell you, it did not take very long before I had to take another breath, and then another one…I was reading the ending to my story or maybe it was just the beginning.

Here’s what it said (Pax by Sara Pennypacker – Peter and Vola conversing)

“She always wore it. She’d hold her wrist up so I could play with it when I was a baby. I don’t remember that, but I’ve seen a picture.  I do remember her telling me about it, though. About the charm, I mean. It’s a Phoenix. That’s a special bird. It’s red and gold and purple colored like sunrise, and it-”

“Rises from the ashes. I know what a phoenix is.”

“Right. But out of its own ashes. That’s the part that my mom cared about.”

“It’s own ashes?”

“When it gets worn out, it builds itself a nest high in a tree, away from everything.” Peter stopped. It suddenly occurred to him that Vola’s cabin felt like a nest. He circled on his crutches to look around. Yes. A secret, protected nest, surrounded by trees. Away from everything.

I had been in my nest for the last three days, in the comfort of my home and my bed.

…”So the phoenix fills its nest with its favorite stuff- myrrh and cinnamon is what’s in the story, I think. Then the nest ignites, burning the birds old body. And the new bird rises up out of the old birds ashes. My mother loved that. She said that it meant no matter how bad things got, we could always make ourselves new again.

Hello!  At this point I seriously am about to become a puddle on the floor.  I AM a phoenix!  Think Isaiah 61:3.

Oh, but the story does not end there because Peter and Vola continue to have a conversation about all of her “philosophy bingo cards” that are hanging up on the walls. That’s what Peter calls them and he says that she is supposed to be the wise and great helper.  She suggests to him, though, that she is there to find who she is and can’t help him until she can help herself.  Ugh!!  I feel like I am reading the story of my life. If only I had a cabin, out in the middle of the woods, surrounded by trees (sad face).

I concluded that the jist of the story was about finding oneself (even though Peter was searching for his fox – that could be an adult theme ;)).

I read the story one more time that morning, had a breakdown at lunch with a fellow teacher, read the story two more times in the afternoon and had a breakthrough before I left school that day. My true, beautiful colors (like those of the phoenix) are shining bright.  And like Vola, I write as a reminder of who I am.  To remember where I came from and to where I am going.  I will cherish and preserve my “philosophy bingo cards” to remind myself that I have risen out of my ashes!

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Filed under epiphanies, life lessons, Our Holes, Religious

What to teach our kids before leaving home (that they aren’t taught in school)

In this world of entitlement and technology, I struggle with how to “train up” my children in the way they should go. It is almost a constant battle given the plethora of social media outlets, our privileged society, the rising divorce rate, and many other elements that lead our children into cluelessness. We have abandoned the very foundation of our educational system: The family.

Each birthday that passes I muddle through memories and wish time would slow down. There is just too much to teach them! We can’t rely on schools, churches, social media, friends, etc. to show them the do’s and don’ts, the wrongs and rights, the ins and outs of this life. Not if we want them to have our perspective, that is, and as a parent I think we have the right to inform our children of our thoughts and how we came to be at the place we are. Let’s face it, our wrongs will teach them as much as they taught us and our accomplishments will inspire them, possibly (hopefully), to attain a standard higher than they could have dreamed.

One day while starting to prepare dinner my oldest son asked me how I learned to cook. It certainly was not in school – Gag!  Do you remember those “government lunches?” That’s what I had termed them – government cheese and cardboard pizza. And Pinterest, well that was not even an idea at that time. Nope, I relied on Dorothy Johnson (RIP) and Karen J. Lord. Those two women taught me everything I needed to know to get started.  I had a knack for cooking, and after I was married I bought cook books and tried and tested many entrees after getting the basics down. However, I never did ask my protégés about anything else – balancing a checkbook, how to clean a toilet (Mom did that. Why did I need to know?), having kids (NEVER!), or the hundreds of other things you have to do as an adult. When do you exactly become an adult? When I googled “define adult,” I was faced with a pretty clear answer, right?

 A-dult: A person who is fully grown or developed.

I laughed for a moment thinking about that definition. Then I contemplated when exactly I became an adult. I mean, that definition is fairly vague, don’t you think?  I remember telling my boss one day that I would never marry and I would never have kids. I know some of you were there too? A year later I was married and I needed answers, and after we had kids I needed even more answers. Guess I was an adult at that point, but there was still a lot I did not know! From my experience, there are many things parents should teach their children before they leave the nest. These are just a few of the things I wish my parent’s had talked about with me and those that I will hopefully get to discuss with my miniature humans.

1) Residual Income: Who doesn’t want money coming in without much work? Keep in mind I said “much work.” We need to be clear that things still need to be tended to. Sure, there will be upfront costs to get started accumulating passive income, but if you don’t even know what it is how the heck are you going to gain from it? We need to teach our children about royalties and building assets, and the difference between active and passive income. Here’s the thing, had I known more about real estate as an asset when I was younger, I probably would have purchased a house to rent out and who knows where that would have led me.

2) How to put gas in the car: Case in point…just watch the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xx-C03NdIU

3) Philanthropy: I am utterly amazed at the amount of nonprofits and other organizations that depend upon donors and volunteers in order to assist in their endeavors. I also had no idea the many types of civic organizations that one can be involved with. There are causes in the world…let me rephrase that…there is probably a cause in this world for anything you can think up. Get the kids involved early. Visit the elderly, tell them about Rotary and Ruritan, encourage them to volunteer in a field of study they enjoy, and lead by example.

4) Financial security: This could incorporate a wide variety of lessons and I believe the key is to start young. Lessons can be taught on buying groceries vs eating out, buying that first home, renting an apartment, buying vs renting a vehicle, and the list goes on. Utilize teachable moments to discuss financial stability and money management. You can search the web for “teaching kids about money” and obtain thousands of webpages. A few are below:

5) How to be domestic: This is important. One day your son or daughter is going to find a significant other, a roommate, or they may even wind up staying at home (Oh No!) and you know the old saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  Cleanliness brings a feeling of satisfaction, being physically and mentally well (IMO). Teach your child(ren) to wash their clothes (fold and put them away), clean the toilet, cook, make the bed and other task that seem so menial but go a long way in giving responsibility and confidence.

And to conclude, I have devised a list of skills that require walking the line very carefully when talking with a young “adult.”  These topics can make the most solid parent/child relationship fragile but I think are necessities before they venture out in the “real” world.

Finding their moral compass, choosing a good partner/spouse, choosing good friends, when to say “yes” and “no,” and lastly, how to change a tire (oh, arguments can ensue over this!).

I will leave you with this quote from Ann Landers:

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

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Filed under Family, Kids, life lessons

You have a Conscience 

Heh.  Lately my conscience has been on overdrive.

 


I like to think that God has provided the path of free will to us as a means to know him better. And He is not a dictator.  He is a loving God, one who gave us a choice to love him or not. When we choose to make a decision that is not in line with his path (because if we believe the Bible we know his path is the right way), we have to live with the consequences of our choice.  Rick Warren says, “While you’re free to choose anything you want to do in life, you’re not free from the consequences. The consequences are part of the choice.”  Doesn’t free will seem like, not free then? It’s a double edge sword.

I’m going to be very real for a few moments.  When it comes to this conscience and morality stuff…guess I should define that too:


I have it on good authority that I know right from wrong.  I have good moral character.  Some might have said too good when I was young.  I knew who was leading me, so it didn’t matter to me what others thought.  As I have aged and had to make decisions (they get harder as you grow up), things have become unclear in my conscience. Not the right or wrong – well maybe a little – but who is making the decision.

Sometimes I question everything I do, even though I know right from wrong and so I turned to this –> Have you ever done this?  “God, I don’t know what to do so just go ahead – just make the choice for me.”  Geesh, did I just become deterministic?  In that statement I surrendered my free will!  I have, recently, asked God to make a decision for me…a decision that I think is too hard for me to make.  A decision that will have outcomes that I do not want to imagine.  If have to decide one way or another, I don’t favor any consequences.

This past weekend a crossroads was met where I needed to gain clarity and guidance.  I needed to hear God’s voice or at least get everyone else’s out of my head.  So, I left my three sweet souls at home with my husband and trudged off to the rock, as I like to call it. I believe there is energy in the earth that can be tapped into, an unyielding presence of energy that is soft and flowing if only we allow ourselves a moment to listen.  I went to the rock.

Stone Mountain Summit (The Rock)

For four hours I listened on top of that mountain: felt, opened up, prayed, sung to the heavens, sunbathed (not intentionally), watched life, and poured over my choices. I melted into the circles of hard earth.


I told myself I would not come down until I knew I was 100% ready to make a conscientious decision.  The last hour I put a couple of songs on repeat, let my body relax into the rock and praised Him.  Within that hour, I heard his voice and I felt a gentle movement. Not a rumble or a roar but a patient and kind flutter.  I suppose I did not need some earthquake to shake up my world any more. I also heard him say, “I’m not taking this Melissa.  This is your choice to make…but I will guide you.”  It was in that instant that I knew it was time to leave.  I love it when a knowing comes upon me – to actually have a clear and concise path. I then found comfort in this scripture:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” -Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20

‭‭There it is – Free Will. He gives us life and death, blessings and curses, love or no love.  And he guides us!  He simply says, “choose life” (not death).  We have a choice because he is not a dictator. He is our father and our guide. He wants us to want to love him, to want his guidance, to follow his will and to listen. He will never force us and he will never choose for us because he tells us to choose for ourselves.

That evening I left the mountain with a renewed sense of belonging.  I gained the perspective that I can’t sit back and expect God to make my choices for me, because like a parent, if we make choices for our kids all their lives…they will never fall, never grow, and never move out!  We need to teach them how to use their conscience and morals to guide them through life. We need to show them how to see the beauty and gravity in free will and then, hopefully, they will see beauty in life’s choices.

Be blessed and bless others

Life’s beauty at Stone Mountain

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Filed under epiphanies, Religious

You’ve Got Nothing for Me

Just reading that title makes me think.  How about you?  Sounds harsh.  Maybe it is.  The context in which it was said was powerful and at the same time, it came in with a hush and simple hum for me.  It made me think.  It has taken a couple of days for the meaning to sink in, the enormity of what Pastor Terri was conveying to the “church” that morning.

How do you look at the world and say, “You’ve got nothing for me?”  Let that sit and simmer for a moment.  The world.  The place we live in.  Our identities are in the world.  Ah, but is that where He wants them to be?  Our pleasures come from this world.  Where does He want our pleasure to come from?  Man, that is hard.  I have been letting it simmer and I am about to boil over with the sins of my worldly being – those things that seems like they are pleasing and good, when in His world they are chains and ropes tethering me to some impossible dream of that which is not for me.  Because…”You’ve got nothing for me world!”

temptation

worship house media pic

We go through life as believers in God and know that trials and tribulations will come, also that good times and joy will abound.  We know that there are TeMpTaTiOns around every corner, and God help if we actually have an addiction to a temptation.  How hard it is to say, “You’ve got nothing for me,” then?  And sometimes…sometimes those things in which we have no idea, not even an inkling, of it becoming a stronghold float into our lives life a soft wind and whisper to us that everything is good and it’s okay.  We love our worldly things: our cars, our boats, our houses, our pets, our food, our drinks, our spouses, oh the list can go on.  Ask any kid and they will probably say, “I love candy!”  What is concerning about that to God?  Our sin nature, which should be concerning to us as well.  We are called to BE the church.  We have to be able to look outside ourselves and the walls in which mankind has built in order to be what He set us apart to be.  We have learned to ride the sin wave with great vigor and then expect Him to bail us out.

Ponder this: what if you told the world…

You’ve got nothing for me.

“You’ve got no jealousy, no pornography, no gluttony, no alcoholism, no infidelity, no fear… – World, you’ve got NOTHING for me!”  In order to the be the church, we have to be able to say just that.  It is a continuous struggle, fighting evil.  Steven Hart said, “In the struggle against evil, there is no shame in defeat only in not fighting.”  Look at the world today and declare, “You’ve got nothing for me,” and know that you are the church.  You matter.

And lastly, I will leave you with this, on this election day of 2016 as WE are called to be the church.

“The church must be reminded that is is neither the servant nor the master of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.  It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.  If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Monday Funny: Kids!

My posts have been kind of heavy lately and I thought we could all use a laugh.  See, I can laugh now but I certainly was not laughing then…because I have been in most of these situations.  Happy Monday!

***none of these are my kids but were pulled off the net (just btdt)

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As a wise therapist once told me, some kids just can’t be left alone…for a minute.

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Filed under Humor, Kids

Desperately seeking solace

One of my favorite motivators said, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”  He also said, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” That from Wayne Dyer, who sadly just recently passed.

I’ve been conflicted lately as there is such going on in my world, so much happening around me, so much affecting me that I don’t know what day it is – literally.

To get right to the point of my war: my husband got fired four weeks ago and my faith has been tested the last few months by a conundrum that is not mine but that I got immersed in.  Our family, in addition to the firing, is also dealing with a battle that keeps resurfacing. What to do?  Many of my friends would say grab a bottle and chug.  Well, oops, that is part of the problem. So, what do you do next?

Go on vacation!

Breaking news: Mandatory evacuation has been issued for Ocracoke.

:/ Vacation is off…for the third time.  Can’t say we didn’t give it the old college try. Insert HUGE sigh.

I’m mad. I’m broken. I’m confused. I’m tired. And I have failed to react (well, maybe I did a little).  Wayne would be proud.  I’m growing, but I’m still desperately conflicted so I guess I should watch one of his shows again. Hmmm, ugh.  Or I could just stop participating with my own self talk. I can’t change the way someone thinks about me and it honestly doesn’t mean it’s true.  Did you hear that people?  Because you think something about someone does not make it true.  Let that sink in.

What I’m learning through all these experiences lately is that I have a choice to respond or react, listen or ignore.  I really want to shout, “What is wrong with you people!” But that wouldn’t be polite and it is a reaction.  Instead I have chosen, and God has a BIG part in this, to wait and respond with grace and dignity.  Now, mind you, I have and am growing into this.  I still feel sick to my stomach at the thought of a friend being unwilling to see clarity in their situation. I feel sick about being tossed aside when I have been nothing but upfront. But, we have choices, we’re given free will and I believe what they always say…Karma is a b#$&@!

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