• Faith Reflections

    Hanging Out with Grace

    About a year-and-a-half ago I met Grace – a spunky, joyful, 7-year-old girl with a love for Jesus, her daddy, and life – in that order. We were both attending camp in a new place with new people. At our first meeting with all the new faces, Grace hid behind her daddy’s legs. I hid behind an extroverted alter ego I’d packed for moments like this. Meeting new people can be hard – no matter how old you are. My good friend, Heather, came to camp with me. Heather makes friends with ease. She walks around with love on her face, her sleeve, her fingers. She’s like a sappy sugar maple tree. If you hang around her, you can’t avoid getting love all over you. Grace got stuck to her pretty quickly and, since I was already stuck to Heather, well …. we became one big, sappy mess that week. We played games and painted pictures. We created stories and…

  • My Life

    I Matter

    I’ll be honest … my biggest struggle with blogging is that it is primarily about me. Which is unfortunate since I think it is more genuine to write about what you know. And what I know is me – my experiences, my reflections, my fears, my joys. I savor this from other writers. I love to read their stories, their mishaps, their wisdom, their life lessons. I’ve never read another person’s blog and thought, “geez… all they write about on their OWN PERSONAL BLOG is themselves. How selfish.” Yet, it is a major hang-up for me. When I sit down to share something in this space, all my energy is consumed by an internal battle: >> write what you know // stop being selfish >> tell your story // get over yourself >> share what you’ve learned // everyone knows that already >> spread some encouragement // who are you to think your words will matter In all the mental…

  • My Life

    It's a New Day

    There’s always a lot of pressure on a new year. So many expectations that, with the turn of the calendar, everything will magically be better. We’ll no longer crave sugar. We’ll never be weak in the knees (and the wallet) at Target. We’ll live more adventures, laugh at more moments, love more people. We’re 10 days into the new year now, friends. Some of us are going strong, owning our resolutions like a boss. And some of us fell flat three days in. Although I don’t do resolutions, I do enter the year with an anticipation that I’m going to get my stuff together. I love fresh starts and new beginnings. A new year feels the same as a new school year to me. I get new school supplies and lay out my clothes. I organize all the things and, armed with giddy enthusiasm, I march into January with all the hope that This. Is. My. Year.

  • My Life

    A Year Ago

    Just over a year ago I was returning from a three-week vacation. It sounds wonderful. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, the catalyst to take three weeks was less than wonderful. I was on empty – once again. In 2006, I struggled with depression brought on by excessive work, nearly non-existent boundaries, lack of rest, and relationships that depleted my soul. How crazy to sum up that very difficult, long, and painful journey into a single sentence. Yet, I celebrate the summation because it is a testimony to the deserts that feel like death valley when you’re walking them but on the other side look more like a rocky beach leading to a life-giving ocean we would have missed had we not gone on the walk. A year ago, 10 years after my first journey, I found myself at the entrance to death valley again, having ignored all the warning signs along the way. But things looked regrettably familiar to me and before I…

  • My Life

    My Word for 2018

    A few years ago, I decided to forego the annual resolution gig. Not that I was always good about making resolutions or keeping them. Resolutions tend to make me focus on behavioral changes which doesn’t always last and often results in guilt rather than growth. Honestly, if I made it to February with a resolution intact, I would celebrate that as a win. Five years ago, I stumbled upon some folks who had sworn off resolutions and, instead, were beginning each new year with a theme word – a word they would aspire to; a word they would grow toward rather than a behavior they would run away from. I liked the idea. A lot. 2014 was my first year with a theme word and it made all the difference. Choosing one word gave me a focus that no resolution every had. It gave me a clarity about decision-making. It gave me a plumb line by which I measured growth and movement.…

  • Faith Reflections

    Watching Somebody Love

    “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz I love this line from Donald Miller’s book. Miller was talking about how some people learn to love something – like jazz music or God – because they witness someone loving jazz music or God and it moves you. You can’t argue with it and sometimes it doesn’t make sense yet the evidence is in front of you in how a person loves. A few summers ago our youth group worked with a guy named Joe while on mission in Oklahoma City. Joe was a volunteer with a food bank and was in charge of their community garden. Joe loves vegetables and dirt and compost. He loves worms and fish waste and all things organic. Joe loves sustainable living and the natural world. I bet, at Joe’s house, he powers his toaster with a bike and…

  • Faith Reflections,  My Life

    Back in the Boat

    Several years ago I attempted to learn to water ski. Some friends had the cabin and the connections – an awesome lady who was a professional water skier and a ski instructor. The plan came together with ease and I said yes – eager to try something to new. But there was a big part of me that was afraid. I wanted to learn to ski but water skiing involves water apparently. I’m not a fan of water since a rafting trip went terribly wrong in 1997. I was on a youth mission trip to Wyoming and we were rafting the Snake River near Jackson Hole. My raft of youth and adults hit some the most intense rapids at the same time a gust of wind blew – flipping our boat and flinging us all into the water. Despite what I knew about using my hands to guide myself to the edge of the raft, the rapids moved the boat continuously, preventing…

  • Faith Reflections

    I Got This, God

    Several years ago I went to a counselor for the first time because I had been struggling with depression for over a year. It took me awhile to admit I needed to see someone and it was only when things got really bad that I finally made the call. I remember clearly the first session in this nice woman’s office. I cried for quite awhile and then I said the only thing that I could say that would free me to share with her my struggles: I just need you to know that I’m going to feel really bad about coming in here and talking about myself and not asking once about you. But I know I’m suppose to do that because I’m paying you for this time but I just need you to know that I do care about you and I hope that you are doing okay and that you have someone to go to, too. Those were…

  • Faith Reflections

    Love Languages

    My sister and I have several things in common. We are in helping professions, we consider chocolate a gift from God, and we adore her kids. Oh, and we both think we have an awesome sister. We are also uniquely different. I like to stay up late; she doesn’t. She always did her homework first thing; I did mine last. I enjoy the great outdoors; she prefers a world free of bugs and insects. Another way we are different is expressions of love. I love fresh flowers and a beautiful bouquet brightens my week. My sister could care less for flowers that will be dead in four days. So, when I want to honor her by showing up with a gift in her first-grade classroom, the only bouquet I have is one made of Diet Dr. Pepper, chocolate and new school supplies. Part of really loving someone is knowing what pleases them. It requires paying attention to the little things…

  • Faith Reflections

    Checking Off the Right Stuff

    Hi. My name is Melissa and I’m a list person. (Hello, Melissa.) I love lists. I believe in lists. If I do something and it wasn’t on my list, I write it on my list so I can have the satisfaction of marking it off my list. When I complete a task, a simple check mark fails to capture the profound awesomeness of my productivity and efficiency. I eradicate it from existence with the repetitive stroke of my pen or, even better, a single stroke of an extra wide sharpie that has the final word even as it vanquishes all others. I hear cheers from imaginary friends as I stand under a glittery rain shower of confetti. Ate breakfast? Done. Brushed my teeth? Completed. Closed my garage? It. Is. Finished, y’all. Success looks a lot like productivity to me. If I don’t look closely, I get duped into thinking I matter because of what I do, that I am worthy…