Friday, November 16, 2007

I Trust You

I trust You with the big and with the small Lord, I trust You Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall I trust You with every moment of my day I trust You to lead me all the way Lord, I know who You are And I know what You’ve said You will do And that is why I trust You ‘cause I don’t just know about You Lord, I know You and I know You’re always good All my life has been a journey with You Looking back I see so much You’ve led me through Lord, I know who You are And I know You’ll never change Your Word is true And that is why I trust You with all my heart and my soul And lean not on my own understanding I acknowledge You, Lord, in all I do And I know that You will make my path straight I trust You in the good and in the bad Lord, I trust You. You’re the best friend I’ll ever have All my life You’ve been right here by my side And in You my heart is satisfied Lord, I know who You are And I know You love me You always will And that is why I trust You
by Melissa

With Much Love

Well, I'm not sure exactly how to start this post. Especially after what I wrote last time... : ) But here's the deal. I've decided I'm going to take a break from blogging (and blog-reading) until at least the end of the year. (I even just deleted ALL of the blogs in my favorites file--that's how serious I am about this! If I left them there, I would be way too easily tempted!) I have too many things to do in the next weeks to spend a lot of time online and as I thought about this yesterday, I was surprised at how relieved I felt. There are quite a few reasons for this decision and contrary to my usual manner of doing things, I'm not going to try to explain them all here. (Well, I actually did try, but it didn't make any sense, so I'm not going to try anymore!) If you are somebody I see, feel free to ask me about it. I'd love to chat with you in real life. : ) As for the rest of you, you can still leave comments... they'll still get to me and I'll write you back if you leave me an email address. You can all feel free to come back in January and see if I've started blogging again. I honestly don't know if I will or not. It could be this was just a season and has served its purpose and needs to die now. Or maybe it just needs to be dormant a while so it can come back to life again in the future, maybe even in a whole new form. God knows and I trust Him to get me where He wants me... even when I don't know He's moving me at all. : ) I'm ending this year in Blogland with the words to my newest song. I just want them to be at the top because they express where I am with God right now. I'm learning to trust Him and remembering how much He loves me. And I love Him too. : ) I hope and pray your Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year are more special and meaningful than ever. I also pray for each of you that God will show you more and more and more and that you will believe and know more and more just how incredibly much He loves you. And to join with Paul in Ephesians 3:17b-21, "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." With Much Love, Melissa

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This is the conclusion of the Bloggy Cliffhanger I left you with last time.  I know, you've been checking hourly to see if I'd finished the cabinet cleaning story yet or not.  Sorry about the suspense.  : )

As I said last time, Saturday when I was scrubbing 40 years worth of nasty grime off my kitchen cabinets, I was pondering the spiritual significance of what I was doing.  That is what I do when my hands are working and my brain isn't.  (Which, notably, constitutes a large part of my days.)  I was cleaning off some gunk that I had thought would never come off...  which is why I had never really tried.  When we moved into the house there was SO much else to do (like cleaning up after the guy who had been living here before we bought it) (which is why, I now understand, people buy NEW houses!) I scratched a bit at the cabinets and surface cleaned them, but didn't really work hard at the grimy stuff because I thought it wasn't possible to remove it w/o removing the finish coming off in the process. 

So anyway, in preparation for our party Sunday, Lowell had asked me to clean the cabinets and like usual, I got carried away and started really working on them and realized it WAS possible to get the stuff off without destroying the finish.  I had just never tried hard enough before.  So the spiritual significance here???  Well, I was wondering how many things there are in my life that I've never really thought could be changed, so I never bothered trying or letting God work on it. 

Unfortunately, I didn't come up with any good answers, but I was getting annoyed at myself for THINKING so much about it!!!  When my brain gets going like that, it's hard to stop it and sometimes it seems pointless.  I honestly get TIRED of hearing myself think and b/c much of my thinking lately takes the form of how I would write a blog post about it, I start wondering about whether or not anybody else is getting tired of hearing me think as well.  (But, thankfully, if you are...  you can just stop.  Just click the little red X up there in the corner. J

But here's the thing I ultimately decided/realized as I kept cleaning.  GOD MADE ME THIS WAY.  "Normal" people don't see spiritual significance in stuff like grimy kitchen cabinets.  But I do.  In this I AM study I'm doing, she was talking about Moses and how he was put where he was at just the right time and I realized that one of the reasons God had me born in 1972 was so that when I was 35 and thinking thoughts like this, I could have a blog and write about them.  And it's not (for me) about how it impacts you.  Having a place like this where I can learn to think and formulate my thoughts and not be afraid of what people think and let my family know more of the real me has been a very significant thing for me. 

And as a bonus, here are some of the spiritual conclusions I came to yesterday as I was cleaning the refrigerator.  J

The fridge and cabinets can't clean themselves!  In the same way, I am not capable of cleaning myself.  God has to do it.  Just like HE saved me by his grace, He is the One who will complete the work HE has started in me.  Yes, I have a part to play in cooperating with Him, but I am changed by His grace, not by my effort.

Once one area is cleaned up I notice other areas that need cleaning up.  All of a sudden, they look bad next to the clean areas, whereas before I had never even noticed them.  When God is at work in me, I start noticing worry and pride (or whatever) in my heart I had never noticed before, even though it's been there a long time.  I'm thankful I don't see all the work there is to be done--it would be overwhelming!--and that God is also not content to leave it, but is always working on me. 

Just like the fridge gets new smudges on it and the bookshelves gather new dust, my heart's purity needs to be maintained.  God's job is to clean me...  My job is to cooperate.  And there will always be new things to work on as long as I'm alive and God and I will just keep working on them.  And I'll probably keep on blogging about them, too.  J

Thanks for thinking with me.

Y, Mel

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Back!

Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote...
THEY'RE ALL SMILES! Toby got his teeth cleaned for the first time (he was very excited) and after a long, suspense and stress filled time of wiggling, Mikaela's first top tooth came out! I'm serious, people, it was stressing her out! She was worried about it and it was hurting for DAYS and as soon as it was finally out, she was a different kid... a much happier, smiling, silly kid. What a relief. If I'd only known it would make such a difference in her mood, I'd have yanked it a couple days earlier. (Because she had actually asked me to and I didn't pull hard enough because I wasn't sure it was ready, not just because I'm mean and selfish!) Aren't they cute???

BUTLER CHURCH 50th ANNIVERSARY! Yesterday we got to go to our former church's 50th anniversary celebration. It was so very sweet to see so many people who we had worshipped and served with during the many years we were there. Most of the former pastors were there and we got to hear the Spanish choir and see the SE Asian dancers and hear the kids choir sing "Sing alleluia to the Lord" in 3 languages... I miss that so much! But it was also a clear reminder that we are where we are now b/c it is where God wants us to be. As much as I still love Butler, my heart is most definitely at the Grove.

CLEANING/PARTY! Well, in spite of the fact that I was (really, I'm not exagerrating here) mopping my kitchen floor 10 minutes before the first people arrived last night for our Game Night, we had a lot of fun. God brought just the right amount of people and we had a great time and the kids all had a lot of fun. Lowell isn't sure he's going to ever let me do this again (I did leave WAY too much to get done after we got home from the Butler lunch/celebration) but I'm glad we did it and now my house is cleaner than it has been since the social worker came for our home study.

BLOGGING IN MY HEAD. On Saturday I was scrubbing 40 years worth of nasty grime off my kitchen cabinets, pondering the spiritual significance of what I was doing. (Because what else do you expect me to think about when I'm scrubbing cabinets???) I started to write all of my thoughts out here, but it's going to be way too long, so I'm saving it for later. Just in case you have something else to do today. : ) And to leave you in some sort of suspense as to what great spiritual truth I learned. If you'd like to guess or tell me what scrubbing kitchen cabinets might mean to you and your spiritual journey, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Y, Melissa

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I AM Study - Lesson 2 - Beautiful to God

Again, this is a response to the study questions from the lesson.  If you haven't read it, it won't make as much sense.  I am really enjoying participating in this.  It's really neat to visit the responses the other women have made on their blogs.  So anyway, here are mine!

Background reading: Exodus 2, Acts 7, Isaiah 53
Focal Verses:

"It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's house. Acts 7:20 NASB

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV

"For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." Psalm 149:4

What is your initial response when anyone suggests you are beautiful?
When my husband tells me I'm beautiful, I usually believe him, but inside I'm longing to be told that I'm beautiful on the inside even more because that is so much more important and more elusive on days like today when I'm tired and snapping at my kids.  Lately, I've been sharing some music at church and I've realized there is a connection to that too.  When people give me compliments, I don't know exactly how to respond.  I usually just say thanks and am sincerely appreciative, but again, what I'm really wanting to hear isn't just that I have a nice voice or write beautiful music, but that God was ministering to their hearts while they were listening.  

Do you find you engage in a lot of negative 'self-talk'? How much of your thought life does this form of thinking consume?
Thankfully, I don't engage in nearly as much as I used to.  God has freed me from a whole lot of destructive thinking and I've learned to be much more gracious with myself when I make mistakes…  but I still have trouble getting past not feeling quite good enough EVEN THOUGH I know this is wrong.  Like Lisa said, I'm not supposed to be focusing on myself.  My focus is to be on God, remembering who I am because of Him and worshipping Him just for who He is, partaking of all the blessings I have in Christ instead of just asking for God to help me (like asking for more food when I haven't bothered eating what He's already provided).  When I do that…  fix my eyes on what is true and eternal instead of dwelling on the negative stuff, my life is so much more beautiful—who I am and how I experience everything.

What is the most radical transformation you've witnessed in an individual after they were born again? It's okay to tell about your own!  (I'm skipping this for now)

The imagery of being a City Girl has absolutely changed the way I perceive my worth before God. Does it yours? Will you receive this truth and let it boost your righteous confidence?
As I drove around my city today, I thought about how unlike this city my heavenly home is.  Sort of like the difference between here and a Righteously Royal kingdom I believe.  I can't help but think of the Princess Diaries and how obvious it was that Mia's grandma was NOT from around there and the change that took place in Mia when she realized and embraced that she was actually a princess.  When people meet me, God wants them to know—by my accent (the flavor of my words—to my kids and everyone else!), by my confidence, by my contentment, by my PEACE—that I do not belong here.  This world is not my home!

Jesus, I believe You are in the process of doing an amazing new work in me…  teaching me how to BE WHO I AM while reaching out to others who either don't know You or don't yet know who they are because of You.  I have looked at people struggling with sins I cannot relate to and imagined how hard it would be for them to listen to me or how unlikely it would be that they would even want to learn anything from me.  After all, what do I know about their problems?  So how crazy is it that You are leading me into some type of participation in Celebrate Recovery!!!  J  It makes me laugh.  Obviously I have a lot to learn about limiting where I think You can use me.  And as You reminded me today…  I don't know from experience about many of the problems others experience, but I do know WHO the solution is!  Keep teaching me, Lord, not to be afraid of who You have made me to be and not to believe the lies that say I'm not good enough or that I appear too good.  I am in You and You are in me!  According to I Cor. 4:10, I have this treasure in a jar of clay (a body and mind that is weak and filled with problems) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from myself.  May I not now, or ever again hide this treasure or this amazing power, Lord.  Forgive me for forgetting!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I AM Bible Study Part One

Last week I discovered this online Bible Study written and hosted by Lisa who is a preacher's wife somewhere (I can't remember where at the moment!) and anyway I've decided to join the study. The way it works is you click on the button here and it takes you to the intro, FAQ etc page and you can start it at the beginning whenever you want to and can do it at your own pace. Then you post your answers to the questions on your blog and add your name to the link list at the particular study you were answering. And let's just say she explains it better than I do! In the future, when you see this little picture, you'll know it's about the study. But without further ado, here are my answers to the questions, which unless you've read the study won't mean quite as much as if you have.
1. Are there any circumstances or relationships in your life where you can see God has intentionally placed you? What do you perceive may be at stake if you do or do not speak out for Him? Is it too obvious to mention my family? I know God has put me in this place as my husband’s wife and Mikaela & Toby’s mom and “soon” mom to another one. I also know God has me/us at our young church because He has wanted to use us there. I’m sure there are more situations that I am less aware or unsure about. I know that at the least, people will miss out on blessings or encouragement if I am not obedient in speaking what God wants me to. And it could be much worse… that they miss out on the freedom God has for them through whatever He is wanting to speak to them at that time. 2. Can you honestly describe yourself as a woman with a 'yes' in her spirit? If not, what keeps you from this? I would say yes, but that God is dealing with the worry I can harbor even when I’ve surrendered to Him. It’s been a real revelation lately that I can be completely surrendered and still not completely trusting God. And I’m grateful He’s working on that! 3. Do you recognize any circumstances in your life which could be described as an 'unrecurring event'? Have you ever said 'no' to one and watched God use someone else instead? This was one of the big things I got out of this first part of the study. I’m realizing more and more that every single moment of every day is an unrecurring event and that I should appreciate that. I’ve been prone to worry about what I’m not doing right (for example, not spending enough time playing with my kids) and now I’m more and more just DOING something about it instead of feeling guilty for not having done it before. As for the second question, I’m not very good at remembering details, but think I have almost been more likely to say “yes” when I shouldn’t have and then ended up wishing I had said no. 4. Are you in an emotionally and spiritually healthy place? If yes, how are you using this freedom to minister to others? If no, what do you feel is holding you in your Egypt? I am in a strange place right now spiritually. I was journaling this morning about how God has brought me to a place that on the surface looks less healthy than places I’ve been in the past. I’m studying the Bible less, journaling less, having less consistent, shorter quiet times… and yet I realized this morning that God has brought me to this place very intentionally—to challenge me on where my confidence has been. I think I have been trusting more in my spiritual disciplines to maintain my right relationship with God than I’ve been trusting God. I have always been one to want to know exactly what’s expected and what the rules are so I can do everything right. I am very comfortable with clear boundaries. But God is pushing me past that and to a new place where it’s all about trusting Him and His truth and not what I am doing. And it feels just a little bit crazy! I hope to use this new freedom to minister to others as I continue to serve at church in prayer ministry and just by being real and honest with others. This is quite an adventure and God’s challenging me to not worry about what others will think about where I am and just to keep trusting Him. It was encouraging to me this afternoon when I realized the fruit I am already enjoying in my spirit… the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And that can only come from Him!

Monday, November 05, 2007

General Family Updates!

What a weekend! Saturday, I was inspired to move Toby's bed out of Mikaela's room and into his own.  Before doing that, however, Lowell wanted to texture the wall in there and then he even got it painted Sunday!  Toby is sleeping in there now and is thrilled.  And Mikaela's room looks better than it ever has before.  We spent hours in there over the weekend and my allergies still haven't recovered from all of the dust we apparently stirred up. (There is still a lot of stuff in there, but Mikaela won't have it any other way--because she is, after all, my daughter!  : )  We have always been quite hospitable to "stuff.")  So finally we are all in our "new" bedrooms, even though there are still a few finishing touches left to be done.  You'll get to see pictures someday.  : )
Anyway, I'm glad we got it done and got a head start on the mad cleaning frenzy I will be in this week as we get ready for a church game night/potluck we're hosting next Sunday night.  There could be a lot of people here and I don't want them to have to put their plates on stacks of papers and piles of who-knows-what.  So I'll be doing a lot of taking care of that this week.  If you don't hear from me again soon, that would probably be why.
And since I'm doing some general updating here...  people lately have been asking what's up on the adoption front.  And the answer is...  time is passing and we're waiting and praying and waiting.  Every 3 months our agency gets a list of children (and their info) to be matched with families on the waiting list.  Usually around 6.  So there is a very small possibility we could be matched with a child in December, but probably for sure by March.  We're no. 8 on the list right now, but they don't just go straight down the list b/c sometimes they're looking for the family that fits the child best and some families have requested specific genders, etc.  (And after we're matched we wait another 7-9 months before we go and bring our Little One home!)  And so we wait and dream and wonder...  but mostly wait.  Once we have been matched and have seen a picture and all, I'm sure things will feel very, very different.  But for now, I'm grateful for this less-intense time in the middle.  I have a feeling I'm going to have needed it.  : )

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I love Sundays!

This started out to be a really long post, but I'm cutting some stuff out and will add it in another post tomorrow. What I mostly wanted to tell you was... Church this morning was a joy! Before the service started, I was talking to a great guy who (with his wife) is getting ready to start/lead a Celebrate Recovery group at our church. Earlier in the morning I had felt led/free to tell him that if he would ever like me to come and do any music for them at any of their meetings, that I would love to. He broke into a laugh and said they usually start with some worship and that he and his wife had been praying for God to put it on somebody's heart to help in that area. : ) Is that sweet or what? Especially since I had been choosing to TRUST GOD to lead me to opportunities to share and sing. And even though I won't be doing it every week, I am totally excited about the opportunity to be a part of what God is going to do through this new ministry at our church. Yay! And to top it all off, I learned something new this morning! : ) What was especially cool about that (because yes, I learn stuff at church all the time) was that it was from a passage I am so very familiar with. Our associate/resident/almost-planting-his-own-church-pastor Gary was preaching about God giving us unlimited mulligans in life (unlike what you get in golf!) He talked about Peter denying Christ and read the passage where Christ restored Peter. (Where Jesus asks Peter 3 times "Do you love me?") You know what I noticed for the first time ever? That Jesus didn't just restore Peter to a right relationship with Him. He restored him to MINISTRY. Perhaps because of what God has taught me this year, that seems huge to me. When Peter responded to Jesus' questions saying "Yes, I love you" and "You know I love you!" Jesus said, "Feed my lambs" and "Take care of my sheep." He was telling Peter that he wasn't only forgiven, HE WAS STILL THE ROCK ON WHOM CHRIST'S CHURCH WOULD BE BUILT. God still chose to trust Peter with the enormous task of leading The Church. And the result? Peter wasn't just restored, he was transformed. If that's not miraculous, amazing mercy and forgiveness and grace, I don't know what is. How could I not love & follow & sing about that Jesus?????

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Lemon Bars Part 2

If you haven't read the post below this yet, this is additional information regarding the recipe. 
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR, you should.  It makes making pie crust (oh, I really want to say "easy as pie!" but I won't) a lot easier than using a pastry cutter and it makes this recipe very easy, but not everyone has one or wants one or wants to dig it out of wherever it is. 
SO if you don't use a food processor, just make sure the butter is soft.  Mix the first 4 ingredients together until it's smooth and spread it in the bottom of the pan.  Everything else is basically the same except that you're whisking the filling instead of doing it in the processor. 
Hopefully that makes sense.  If it doesn't and you want to make it, feel free to email me or call me if you have my number!  : )

My Favorite Lemon Bars

Click on the pictures if you don't want to squint to read them.

Even though I have other things I would love to talk about, I don't have time to formulate my thoughts and type them up. But I do have just enough time to attempt to post here my favorite recipe (which I just wrote up for my sister-in-law) for the BEST lemon bars (which I just made to take to my her house.) Now, I know you don't all have lemon trees in your backyards so you're not all looking for something else to do with lemons, but this is still a never-fail really yummy recipe. AND I do it all (except for the baking, of course!) in my food processor, so there's no cutting butter into flour by hand and you don't even need to soften the butter first! And by the way, I always double the recipe and use my glass 9x13.

So anyway, hopefully it will come through and even if you never try them, I can now direct people to my blog if they ever want a copy of the recipe. : ) But maybe you'll feel ambitious someday soon and will try it when you're looking for something new (like to give to neighbors or co-workers for Christmas!)

Or you can just invite yourself over to my house and I'll quite happily make them for you myself. : ) Really!

Happy Saturday everyone!!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Reckless Trust

There has been lots going on in my heart lately, but much of it has been really hard to put into words, which is why you haven't heard about most of it!  : )  I have mentioned a few times about how God is teaching me how to trust Him more completely.  One of the things He has shown me in the last few weeks is just how much I worry!  I honestly had no idea how much I worried--normally not about the big stuff, but about the little things like keeping my house clean, which ministries to pursue at church, how my kids are doing and what I'm going to make for dinner and whether or not Lowell will like it and that my van is a mess...  whatever it is, I can probably figure out a way to worry about it.
I always used to think I was just "thinking" too much.  And I always wanted God to tell me exactly what to do, because I knew He knew what was best and I desperately wanted Him to lead me.  I didn't have a problem with surrendering to Him, but I realize now I did have a problem trusting that He would lead me.  I'm learning, though, that trusting Him means not worrying or thinking too much and trusting He will lead me (in His way and in His timing) even when I don't realize I'm being led.  It's like walking with Him through a huge flat desert with no landmarks to be seen in any direction and no road or signs and just walking with Him even when He doesn't say where to go…  trusting that He is leading me even when I am not even aware of it.
What's funny is that it feels sort of reckless and irresponsible to not figure everything out (=worry) and just to trust Him, but there is already fruit coming from it and it is so good!  I'm already feeling relieved from a lot of stress and am so thankful God is teaching me this now because I know I'm going to have much to trust Him with in the future...   (But I'm not going to worry about that just now.)  : )
Thanks for letting me share some of this journey with you.  : )
Blessings to you!