All posts by Melanie

My Being Purpose Statement: As a part of Christ's Bride and as one of His precious treasures whom He redeemed with His precious blood, I purpose in my heart to love and adore Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). I want to be beautiful in the sight of my Saviour, Jesus Christ. I will therefore pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:16) that I might worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 96:9) and go and proclaim His love, sacrifice and salvation to others who have not heard that I may have the beautiful feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things (Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:15). My Life Purpose Statement: I desire to serve my Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ throughout my entire life by ministering to girls and women. I pray that I will be able to bring many girls and women to the Cross of Christ that they may find salvation from a loving and gracious Savior. It is my heart’s desire to encourage girls and women who know the Savior to deepen their relationship with Him and to fall more and more in love with Him. I also want to serve women by assisting them in their everyday lives whether I am rolling up my sleeves to work alongside them or am connecting them with people, ministries, and or resources that will be helpful and beneficial to them. By God’s grace and power, through His Spirit, and for His glory will I endeavor to fulfill this purpose

To My Sons: You Can Be More Than Christian Grey

To my sons, of whom, as of this writing there are two, but should any more make their appearance in the future, consider all of you included.

Today, your mother’s heart was greatly shocked and saddened. An 11 year old boy chose to dress up as Christian Grey from the book 50 Shades of Grey and wear that costume to school for World Book Day. Now, I hope that at eleven years old, you will not be aware of just how horrendous I find that situation. I hope you haven’t come across such depravity. But, someday, be it at eleven years old or on through your teen and young adult years, I know you will understand what I’m referring to.

I want you to know, that you can be so much more of a man than Christian Grey ever could be. My sons, your power and reputation can be so much more than just conquering and dominating a woman or women. It takes a broken man to be so blind as to require a woman to sign a contract that she will do whatever he desires and think that is permissible or even right.

I know as you age, you may very well become aware of your brokenness or in other words your sin nature. You will start to realize that you have a battle in your mind and that battle is incredibly wearying. Why not just give up? Why not just enjoy the pleasures while you can? You will come across temptations which, if you give in, will slowly dull your conscience, your sense of right and wrong and even your view of women as human beings.

Christian Grey didn’t see woman as human. He saw them as things to be used for his pleasure (or at least, that is my impression of the story; I won’t be reading it). Don’t give in to that temptation. Women are more than boobs. Women are more than the skin you see. Women are more than meets the eye and a real man can see past what is on the outside.

A real man draws a woman out and hears her heart. He doesn’t beat her into submission or hurt her so that she withdraws into herself. A real man brings out the strength in a real woman. He isn’t afraid of her strength. He doesn’t have to dominate her in order to gain power or control. A real man shows his strength most often in restraint and self-control. A real man, a leader, serves women and looks out for their best interest. A real man wants what God wants for the women in his life.

My sons, I want so much more for you than that you see women as objects. For in objectifying women, you objectify yourself. You allow yourself to be nothing more than your sexual desires.

Let me also tell you something, my sons. You will never find a real, godly and strong woman if you are anything like Christian Grey. You want more from a woman than just sexual pleasure. You want a woman who will respect you, not fear you. You want a woman who knows you are her protector, not the one that she watches out for and closes her heart to. You want a woman who has appropriate boundaries and who is able to say no. You want strength in a woman. Because true strength in a woman will make you a stronger man.

As your mother, I love you. I love you so, so, so much. I want so much for you and I believe that there is nothing that you cannot achieve. But, as a woman living in this world, I know that, most likely, the biggest battle you will have to fight is within yourself. The fight may never completely cease as long as you live. I imagine that I will never know how bad it gets. But I need you to know that I’m already praying for you. I’m already praying for wisdom in how to raise you to look at all people as human beings with dignity and worth. I’ll be praying for you throughout your life. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can be successful in this. I know that in the future, with God as your Help and Strength, you will be able to look at a woman in the eye and see beyond her outside appearance to her heart.

I Hate That Babies Die

Trigger Warning: this post is about pregnancy and infant loss.

Here I am.  1am finds me lying in bed reading the story of a couple pregnant  with a child who the doctors say will die soon after birth.

I click the link, read the story just like I’ve done time and again with other similar stories.  I can’t seem to stay away from them.  I don’t understand my compulsion to know every story I come across.

I hate that babies die.  And,  when I say hate, I don’t mean dislike. I don’t mean it just causes me to frown. I don’t even mean it puts a damper on my day. No, when I say hate,  I’m saying my intestines twist themselves into knots.  My facial expression contorts, every muscle tight and gathered. My teeth clench. I desperately want to punch something but all there is is air. The emptiness engulfs me and angers me and drags my soul away from its hiding place and into the very edges of my body.  It falls out drop by drop.

Because babies shouldn’t die. Parents shouldn’t have to watch lives extinguished so early.

I wish I had a ‘why’ to console myself with. Maybe if I had a real, tangible ‘why’ then somehow eventually it would be okay.

But,  my own attempt to find a ‘why’ has been futile. I think maybe that is why I read these stories of babies gone on before. The parents,  the sisters,  the brothers,  they don’t wrap the stories up nice and neat and provide us with a happy ending.  no. When the stories are shared, the ache is shared,  the pain laid out and the beauty of love shines.

It is not a logical thing to love what is so easy to lose,  but when I read their stories,  I see why it is so important.

When the Darkness Closes In

Before the storm that brings the tornado, the sky gets steadily darker. The clouds loom. The rain pounds and the wind thrashes against living and man-made structures. The intensity grows with each minute of the storm. Living through the storm can give stories for a lifetime, but also can leave people with intense fear of the darkness.

I’ve never lived through a physical tornado that ripped through my neighborhood. But the signs of the storm, they seem to relate so closely to the warning signs of torment of the mind. The darkness. Depression.

The last week or maybe even longer, at night, I feel the storm approaching. The sky is dark. The outlook bleak. Is there any way to avoid the storm? Terror can grip my heart as I cry out, “No, Lord, not the darkness! I can’t walk through this again. We’ve been through this once, isn’t that enough?”

I keep my eyes on the impending disaster. The clouds swirl. Then, I finally sleep. I wake in the morning, never very refreshed, but always trying to face the day. Resolved to do what I can to pretend that darkness is not ever approaching. But night? At night my defenses and sensibilities are worn to the bone and dulled at the same time. I cannot fight the coming storm. I want to run.

Where could I run? There is nowhere this storm will not find me. “You’re a loser; You’re a Loser”. It gets closer, darker, louder. I look back at my day and I see all the ways I tried to escape and in escaping, I feel like I left the chance to actively love those I’m surrounded by but feel miles from. Guilt rages. If I could just get rid of these feelings.

“God, why must I feel? Can’t you turn the feelings off? I know Your Truth! I know I’m Your Daughter. I know I’m not a loser. I know my failures are covered by Your blood. So can’t you just turn off these despicable feelings which lie and lie so well?!?”

I think my pleas fall on compassionate ears, yet the mind has its own bullying tactics. “Don’t you know God created you with feelings? You wouldn’t feel love for your children if you didn’t have feelings. How could you want God to turn that off?” my mind taunts.

Yet, in the rationalization which was intended for guilt, I find some truth and I revel in it.

“Melanie, I’ve created you with your feelings. Melanie, You aren’t the darkness. It is separate from you. Separate from Me. Melanie, I’ll walk with you through the darkness. I’ll take you with me. We can dance in the rain. It may not be a jig, in fact, it may be a more slow and intimate dance. I’m not here to get you out of the darkness. I’m here to walk with you through it. You can feel it. I feel it. It is not too much for Me.”

I wonder, will this storm hit my heart, or will it suddenly change course? I don’t know. But, I know now that I’m not going to be terrified if it does hit.

In Which I Process Some Thoughts on Parenting

I’m scared to write this post. It is a complicated subject that I’d like to tackle, but I want to begin to process my thoughts on the matter. Not because of my past, but because of my future. You see, I’m a parent, and I aspire to be a homeschooling parent. But, 20 years from now, I don’t want my kids to be writing the stories I’m reading.

What stories? This is my confession: I have come across some stories lately (but even somewhat before this) of homeschooled children (now adults) who endured abuse in its many forms, emotional, verbal, physical and even spiritual abuse and I’ve been reading them. They hurt my heart. I see the devastating effects of sin, especially sin committed in anger or the sin of pride that comes out as playing the part of God in another’s life.

They scare me and shake me to my core because I can’t just vow to myself that I will never ever be that sort of parent. I’ve been angry before, too angry, and it scares me. I have a side of me that wants to control my children’s behavior and just make them listen. Why don’t they listen?!? I’ve heard myself say and complain.

I read about the punishments meted out. I read about the lack of affection given. I read about the fear and even terror that some children grew up with. Children who did not want to be in the presence of their mom or their dad. I have to wonder, how is that even possibly biblical? I conclude it isn’t. My Bible talks about God inviting me, indeed, compelling me to come boldly into God’s presence. I am to look forward to meeting with My Father. His Son endured the Cross, despising the shame, so that I could come boldly into the presence of God.

Now, I also know that the Bible does talk about God being a Father who disciplines. I know that teaching my children what is appropriate behavior and to respect people and honor God is my God-given duty. I’m not advocating permissive parenting where I just let my children do whatever. But learning to parent is a struggle for me.

The biggest reason why I struggle is because of my own experience with God as my Father doesn’t always match up with what my knowledge of supposed “biblical parenting” is. If I could give you one verse that defines my relationship with God as my Father, it would be Romans 2:4, specifically the phrase that says that it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance.  

Other translations use the word kindness in the place of goodness. Kindness seems more specific and it is often the word that I think of. God’s kindness to me has led me to repentance on multiple occasions. God’s grace has humbled me in such a loving way.

My God has not ever lashed out at me in His anger. My Father covered my sins, my wrongs, my mistakes, my “not listening moments” with the blood of His Son. My Father God cared about His relationship with me so much that He did something about it. That is what my God did.

If that has been my experience in my personal relationship with God as my Father, would I not be remiss to parent that way with my children? Shouldn’t my goal in parenting to be to show my children what the Gospel looks like? What redemption is?

Sometimes, I feel like supposed “biblical parenting” requires that my goal be unconditional, unquestioning, outward obedience and outward respect without talking about how God redeems the sin we all inevitably commit. There doesn’t seem to be much room for grace.

Those stories that I read, I keep reading of parents who tried to make their children treat them like they hoped the child would eventually treat God. The parents were to be obeyed as if they child was obeying God, reverenced as if the child was reverencing God.  And I agree to a point that children need to be taught obedience and respect, but I’m scared that if I require that they treat me like I was God, then I might begin to think of myself too highly.

I’d rather personally look at God my Father and look at how He has so graciously parented me and then try to model that for my children.

These really are the beginnings of thoughts and hopefully actions that I take in my parenting. I’m far from a perfect parent. I’ll never be a perfect parent, but I do want to do my best. I want the Gospel to transform my parenting. I am going give God my five loaves, two fish, two mites or whatever else I have and I am going trust Him to do the rest.

Seasons of sadness

Sadness can be such a misunderstood emotion. It isn’t always a quickly passing emotion; sometimes it lingers with varying degrees of intensity.

I feel that often it makes people uncomfortable to be around a person experiencing a prolonged period of sadness. I think that is because there are some misconceptions about how we experience sadness. I would like to address those.

1.) If I’m sad,  then I cannot be simultaneously happy about something.  This is simply not true.  Even when I’m experiencing a time of  sadness in my life,  I can laugh at jokes, be happy for your accomplishments, be happy that I have other blessings, but I’m still sad about whatever it is that is hurting.  I can even praise God and still be hurting. In fact,  sometimes praising God makes me feel the hurt even more intensely. But this is okay too. He is right there in the midst of the pain.
2.) If someone is sad,  you HAVE to cheer them up. This is also not true.  “cheering someone up” has its place as long as it doesn’t become “feel better so I feel better”. Allow someone in a season of sadness to have their sad time without reproach of any kind.  Especially the whole “you have x, y, z so be happy even if you don’t have e, f, or g. Ask if they want alone time or even just to sit quietly with them.  But allow them to feel the sadness, because sometimes life just hurts.
3.) Pain and sadness do not bring glory to God. Again,  this is not true.  God used and felt the greatest pain ever felt in this universe when Jesus died on the Cross. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. God keeps the tears of His saints. We are not just trophies that God shows off so we need to keep ourselves all shiny.  No,  we are human.  With emotions. God made us to feel. If He wanted happy robots, He could have and would have made them. 

When it comes right down to it, being sad is really quite complicated. What I’m trying to say basically is that it is okay to be sad.  It is okay for others to be sad.  Life brings with it a lot of pain. The curse of sin brings hurts in so many ways. Let God do the supernatural healing of the heart. 

Should

Dear Fellow-Christians,

I am tempted to write a somewhat angry and sarcastic post about how much I hate how we all like to use the word should. I want to explain my complete hatred of that word and why I hate that word. I have good reasons.

The thing is, I actually want to be heard. I don’t want to make you mad or defensive because I hate this word so much. So, I’m going to do my best to entreat you as a sister or a daughter.

Please stop saying “Christians should(n’t) [fill in the blank]”. Maybe we can all try to make a promise to ourselves to attempt to eradicate this word from our vocabularly.

I want us to stop saying should because the very definition of the word entails the motivation of duty or obligation. It is tempting to make our Christian lives one of duty, one that we live because we feel obligated to live. But, I contend that if you are living that way, you are missing out on grace, great grace.

Please hear me, I’m not trying to discount or abolish that God has standards that He reiterated in the New Testament for us to live by. Paul addresses this subject in the beginning of Romans 6.

I just want us to realize that if we spend our lives trying to do our duty, pay our debt or fulfill our obligations, we are kidding ourselves. We aren’t living the Gospel. Who cares if we can recite the Romans Road if we can’t understand what it looks like in real life to have your sins paid for in full at the Cross.

Stop saying things like Christians should be happy. All it does is induce incredible guilt in the Christian who is grieving or intensely struggling with something or even who has a physical problem that results in clinical depression.

The thing is, it is a great testimony to meet with a Christian who is truly happy in the Lord. We all need someone like that in our lives. And joy and happiness  are a by-product  of seeking the Lord, living to please Him and trusting Him completely.

In saying “Christians should be happy” we run the risk of causing people to chase happiness instead of chasing Jesus. Let’s chase Jesus together, let’s run towards Him together and find happiness on the way.

It is easy for me to say stop saying “Christians should be happy.” I’ve been on the receiving end of that and hurt by it many times.

But, if I’m going to fair, I have a “should” that I like to hold onto. It comes in the form of “shouldn’t”  as well. It is “Christians should love each other!”, “Christians shouldn’t treat each other like that”. Those “shoulds” are hard. They are borne out of either watching someone get hurt or being hurt by another Christian.

While I hate to give up these shoulds because I wish they could someday magically come completely true, I am willing to give them up. Instead of clinging to them, I want to make the commitment to love where I can, when I can with the motivation being that Jesus loves, not because I have a duty to love.

I’m against shoulds, duty and obligation not because they are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but rather because I see an inherent danger that duty becomes drudgery. When duty becomes drudgery, two things can happen. One, is that some people push themselves and power through and often become prideful because of their success. The other, some people just quit, throw in the towel and walk away resentful. Neither is the response that Jesus wants.

So, let’s cast off our shoulds for both ourselves and other people. If you catch yourself saying “should” to yourself, give yourself a chance to think it through. Can you do it freely without creating an obligation for someone to pay you back (or even God to pay you back)? What is your motivation? Is it a motivation that is pleasing to God? God cares just as much about your motives as He does about your actions.

If we catch ourselves saying “should” to or about other people, let’s be careful. Let’s try to accept people where they are at, love them because of how God loves them and if we can do so, come alongside them and walk with them for a while.

~Melanie

ps. This is definitely a topic that I’d love to have a conversation about. I realize that there are many differing opinions probably. I’d also like to acknowledge that I’ve not mastered this in my life. I don’t consider myself a hypocrite in this area because I’m not pretending to have mastered it, but I realize that there is definitely a disconnect between this idea in theory and my life.

Things I’m NOT Writing about, but…

So, I have topics in my head that I really want to flesh out in writing. Some of the topics are ones that I do have a strong opinion on at this present time. Some, more or less, I feel like I’m kind of in a middle ground that is a no-mans land and people who see things differently from either side won’t get it. Some, I just want to write about and figure out what I do not know and have an actual conversation about.

But, I’m afraid to write about those things. I’m afraid that I’ll be wrong about the things I feel so sure about now. I’m afraid that I will unnecessarily offend someone or cause negative feelings that I did not intend. I’m afraid I’ll feel stupid for missing some important information that changes how I see things.

So…just to relieve the pressure that is building up in my mind and soul, I’m going to make a list of what I’m NOT writing about right now, but at some point, I really want to.

1) Theology, but specifically Calvinism. I know this has been a centuries long disagreement and I’m sure that I do not have anything to add, but I guess I’m afraid of an impersonal debate stemming from what I write. I’ve seen more than a couple debates become somewhat ugly, and I don’t want that. I also think that there is an enormous amount of misconception about what Calvinism actually is, and I’m not sure that I am qualified to to tackle that, but it needs to be clarified.

I want to write about it, though because understanding God from this perspective has changed so much for me. I see God differently, and because of that, I see my life differently. I make decisions differently. I actually have more freedom, and I want to share that with others. Maybe someday.

2) Parenting topics. I’m avoiding this one because I’m so afraid to be wrong! I mean, I’ve only been a parent for around 4 years (if you count the time I was pregnant). It isn’t like I’ve mastered this by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think I want to write about parenting topics to give advice, though. Mostly, I would like to write through the struggle.

I might be tempted to decry some more popular opinions in the conservative, Christian community, and I’m afraid if I’m not careful, I could alienate people. And who am I to discount methods or approaches? But, honestly, I feel a resistance welling up inside of me when it comes to the topic of discipline. But again, that is a rather personal decision. If I *ever* write about discipline, I promise to be totally and completely prayed-up as I can be.

3) Other opinions or convictions regarding my faith that could possibly be controversial. I don’t really feel like I fit into the typical conservative Christian woman stereotype. There are things that I don’t even agree with! But, I look the part. In many ways, I’m playing the part to keep peace with people I’m not even sure that I care about, but also with people that I do care about and love deeply.

I’ve come to realize that sometimes, my disagreements are less important than the people in my life. At the same time, every now and again the itch comes. The itch to actually for sure know what I believe about almost everything. I want to cast off the stuff I don’t agree with and just run a little faster with only the weight of what I know to be true.

Change to my thinking is rarely something that I complete quietly. I have to process and conclude and one of the only ways that I conclude is to be forced to say what I believe to an audience.

Physically, I have barely any self control when it comes to itching something that itches. Mentally, I do think that I have more self-control than that, but I wonder, as time goes on and I get older, will the itch become to strong to resist?