A Time to Remember

Today, someone asked me about my love story. It has been a long time since I’ve told that story. Probably for the first time, I actually told it in under five minutes. That is a good and bad thing, I suppose. On one hand, no one really wants the long version, but on the other hand, it bothers me because I could barely recall it.

I’m not really okay with keeping that the status quo. I want to remember my love story with my husband because God taught me so much in and through that time. It was such a wonderful thing to me to think about how I could see God working, especially in the beginning. In that season, I was praising and glorifying God for how He was working.

But like all seasons, sin interrupts and corrupts. Any relationship is bound to have to face sin at one point or another. I think one of the reasons that I’ve forgotten some of my story is because I began to only see the way I failed in that season. I stopped looking at what God was doing and stopped waiting and hoping for what He was going to do next. Instead, I looked at myself and my failures and I lost some hope. I definitely lost my surety that God was creating something good by putting us together. I lost sight of the fact that God redeems failures and uses them for His glory and gives grace in the midst.

This evening, as I’ve been trying to recall details, I remembered one of the moments where it was confirmed to me that Luke and I were supposed to be together. I was listening to the radio, and Dana Gresh was on, I think. I don’t remember what she was talking about, but I actually don’t think it was focused on purity. I don’t know, maybe it was. She said something, though. She said that you know what you are supposed to do when you know what God has given you grace for. I immediately thought of my love for Luke. I knew that I was given grace in order to love Luke.

I think that moment is still significant and maybe even more significant than it was then. Marriages all go through seasons, times where the relationship is so easy and times when it isn’t so easy and times in-between. Parenting little ones is not really one of those easy seasons. Those tough seasons are when we desperately need grace.

I need grace to love Luke the way he needs to be loved. I need grace to love him the way that God wants me to love him. I didn’t just have grace back then at the beginning of our love story. I have grace now, limitless, matchless grace upon which to draw.

Tonight, recalling our love story and writing this out, I feel like grace is being poured out on my soul in a torrential downpour. There is nothing like feeling grace soak your heart and soul.

Thank You, God, My Father for writing my love story. Thank you for not putting down the pen.

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Caught in a Lie

Most people know the feeling. Perhaps you can relate. You suddenly realize the fact that you’ve been caught. Maybe your face flushes and you feel the heat. Maybe embarrassment and what people will think are the first things that come to your mind.

But what if, what if being caught in a lie brought relief? What if it meant you could finally breathe again? Tonight, that is how I feel. You see, I got caught in the same lie that I seem to get tangled up in again and again and again. But, I got caught by the One who can set me free.

I’ve been contemplating on my health lately and part of that has been my weight lately. Okay, a big part of it. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my life. And the actual weight isn’t the real problem. I know that the real problem (for me) is a lack of self-control in so many ways. I willingly stay up later than I should, I eat food I shouldn’t, I eat more food than I should, I drink those $5, 1000 calorie beverages from that coffee chain at least once a week. I am probably not concerned enough about chemicals, I haven’t gotten into essential oils, I don’t eat all organic, I don’t regularly exercise, I am not taking probiotics or eating fermented foods, etc.

See, I can tell you exactly what is wrong with me. I can find so many ways that I’m not doing my best or reaching the standard of “good health”. It isn’t really about the weight for me; its about the fact that it is now obvious to myself and to others that I’m really missing the mark.

So, in my head, while I’m caring for the children, cleaning the house or driving I think about how I can become better. I even try to do it in a manageable way. I think to myself “What is one thing I can do to get healthy next week?” and I try to pick one. But I hate picking just one. See, I tell myself, just one thing doesn’t really matter. But, I push that thought away trying to focus on long-term success. I make a list of things I need to do to get healthy. I may even try to write them out in a legitimate plan with a calendar and everything.

I’m kinda getting sidetracked here or at least rambling, but what I’m trying to get at, is this. I am very aware of my faults in almost every area of my life. I don’t like them. I want to change them. I want to be likeable and likeable people don’t have faults. (<–that is a lie; everyone has faults) I scheme and I plan how to change myself.

The Lie that I was caught in tonight was that I often believe and act like my plans and my actions are going to be enough. My alterations to myself will be sufficient. Someday, I will reach my ideal, which is pretty much perfection.

The truth of the matter is, no matter how hard I work, no matter how committed I am, no matter if I push myself till I bleed, no matter what I put myself through, physically or emotionally, I cannot be sufficient.

There is only One who is all-sufficient. Only One who is enough. Only One who can truly change me. Only One who can love me before I’m changed. Only One who has done enough, and His Name is Jesus. Amen and Praise the LORD!

And people, you know what? This is basic Christianity. This is the Gospel. I’m not enough, I can’t pay my debt, I can’t reach the standard. BUT (!!!!) Jesus already paid it all. Jesus’ sacrifice means that I’m covered by His righteousness. And this applies to all of life. It is time that I lived like it.

Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop planning or making changes altogether. I’m just going to stop trusting them to do for me what only Jesus can do. I’m going to remember that He loved me while I was yet a sinner, and He loves me today, tonight in this very moment, at this weight and in this mood.

On Moving On

I’ve had this post going through my mind since before the beginning of this blog. It was too long for a facebook status, but I felt that it needed to be shared. I hope it gives someone some hope the way it did for me. So here goes:

Mistakes. We all make them. Big mistakes, small mistakes, medium sized mistakes, again, we all make them. Some people seem to have an easy time of getting past their mistakes or letting go of them. I’m not one of those people. 

One of the biggest mistakes of my life tends to haunt me. I go over and over and over it in my head, especially at night. Fear of making it again is paralyzing. I push against the fear and the shame because I have to. Because God’s truth says that He designed me for community and relationships. Closing myself off isn’t His will for my life (or for anyone’s, for that matter). But that doesn’t mean the process of getting past that mistake is easy. 

Rather out of the blue, though, I happened upon some hope. My brother was showing me this youtube science channel filled with 10 minute videos explaining various concepts. I watched one or two and then excused myself to take care of something and I came back a few minutes later. 

As I walked through the room, I caught this person talking (I think?) about grief, hurt or mistakes and he compared it to a hole. The pain we feel from grief, hurt or even from a mistake that we made it is like a hole. Throughout our life, the size of that hole doesn’t change, but we change and we grow. The farther and farther we get in time, (hopefully!) the more we’ve grown. Because we are now bigger than we were when we got the hole, it hurts less. 

This visual picture of this concept has really changed my thinking. When I’m down, I mentally am a foot-shuffler. One of those people who looks down at the ground expecting rain even though it is sunny outside. But this little concept really helped me to see that instead of assuming something is always going to hurt or I’m always going to feel ashamed, if I focus on my growth, eventually, what seems huge now, will get smaller and be of little consequence. 

How neat! It really motivates me to push myself out of my comfort zone and continue to grow. Even when it is really, really hard. 

Dear Melanie, …. Love, God

Written 11/29/2013 — This is my own thoughts, and in no way shape or form do I think or claim that they are God’s actual words. I do believe that to the best of my ability and understanding of God’s words, what I wrote does reflect the truth found in God’s Word. 

Dear Melanie

When you despair because yet again someone has said “You’re different”, I want you to know that even though you feel isolated and misunderstood, what is going on is that the someone who uttered those words is picking up on the things that I chose to showcase in you. Yes, Melanie, you are different. You aren’t the same and you have a special way of thinking things through and the questions that you ask sometimes are things only you would wonder, but that is because I chose to craft your mind that way. I chose it for a purpose.

Melanie, I am an omniscient and omnipotent God. I am the creator of the billions of cells in your body, and I also formed cells into millions of different species of animals and living things. I differentiated between elements, each with its own unique properties. So when Hydrogen says to Mercury “You are different” it is simply because I made them that way.

You know Melanie, I both sent and took Abram on a journey. Nowadays in the times you live, people start journeys by deciding on or at least knowing their destination. You might print out a map from Google, or plug the address into your GPS to find the way, but the important thing that you are used to is knowing where you are going.

All those books that you read in the personal development section start out with “define your goals” and then make the map of how to get there. I know those are your favorite types of books. I wired you that way.

But now, now I am going to scare you, because what I want you to understand is that I am NOT your GPS that you program, but I am, or am at least supposed to be, the voice that gives you turn by turn instructions. You see, Melanie, I know where you could go in your life. I know the plans that I have for you. But you have to stop worrying about the destination. You have to stop worrying about the journey. I’ll make sure you have what you need. If we are headed North then you need to realize that the suitcase with your thermal underwear and down coat are already in the trunk. Because I know where we are going, and I’ve already prepared. You just have to come with me.

You have to be willing to be scared. You have to be willing to be yourself, even if that means that people call you different. You need to go on the journey that I am calling you to. and you need to start soon. Just go. Start off running  and remember that I give strength to the weary and when you are on my timing, if you are running you won’t be weary, and if you are walking you will not faint.

Don’t waste your time trying to tag along on someone one else’s journey! Bloom where you are planted for sure, but remember that I even called Abram to leave the land where he was born and had built his life.

Dear Melanie, sin is what breaks you. Keep your eyes on me. Come with me. Don’t be tempted by the fact that people may like you better when you aren’t  doing anything or saying anything radical.

Don’t despise your youth, Melanie. Yes, you are young, and yes you will make mistakes, but Melanie, I want you to head down this path, even though I know you are going to trip and fall. And Melanie, I’ll pick you up and I’ll give you turn by turn instructions.

Love,

Your Creator and Maker,

God

A Confession:

I’ve wanted to actually, for-real, blog for a long time, probably at least two years. I’ve taken a class on blogging, joined a blogging support group, read successful blogger’s posts and books on blogging and I even bought a domain and hosting. But, I’ve never blogged. 

I wanted my blog to be called Ambitious Woman. It was going to be a lifestyle blog, kind of like Crystal Paine’s Money Saving Mom when she posts about goals and organizing your life. Ambitious is a word that does describe me in a lot of ways. I’ve never been satisfied with where I’m at when I’m there. I’ve always wanted, looked forward to and planned for the day when I was better, more accomplished, more self-controlled, more organized, etc. I think this desire is one of my greatest strengths and also one of my greatest weaknesses.

But I couldn’t write as “Ambitious Woman”. I know part of it was I knew that I couldn’t keep up on that type of blog purely for the enjoyment of it. I couldn’t push myself to the level that I felt I needed to be at to be “Ambitious Woman”. The first rule in blogging has always been to write about something you love, because otherwise you get burnt out and you won’t be successful. And while I love self-help and goals, they can stress me out when I’m not meeting them or not up to my standards.

Part of it was because I felt God laying it on my heart that I was supposed to write. I’d want to give up and I’d be ready to, but He would show up in yet another way saying “Write, Melanie! I want YOU specifically.” But, I couldn’t write as Ambitious Woman because I wasn’t sure how to tie the theme of grace into that blog. I’m learning grace for my failures and my faults and I want to give what I have of that away to others because there is NOTHING like grace. Plus, if I was going to write because that is what God wanted, I wanted it to have more of a ministry focus more than a business focus, which is what I was originally going for. 

Honestly, I started this blog last night, because the desire to write out my point of view was about to come out in an unwelcome way and I could barely keep it in. I knew at that moment that I needed an outlet. I needed a place to have a written conversation with others. A chance to organize my thoughts. And, as it happened, the name “Musings after Bedtime” just came to me and it was available(!!!!). 

So here I am. This is going to be my internet home. I’m breaking the “rules” of blogging because I have no idea where this blog is going to go or what I’m going to talk about or even who my audience will be. I don’t have an official “target audience”, really. So, if you are reading this, comment, join me after bedtime and let’s talk about what is going on. I don’t want to chase readers for the sake of having page views; I’d rather just be here for whoever wants to show up. 

A post for another day will be how blogs and forums and people I have met online have shaped and affected my life. I think that is why I’m calling this my internet home. I’m comfortable here in this place. I’m inviting you here to be comfortable with me and let’s chat! 

7 Things I Would Tell 15-Year-Old Me

Dear fifteen-year-old me,

You made it to 25 years, 5 months and 16 days. You are doing well. You won’t believe this when I tell you, but you already have three kids, and they are all under three. You are making it, though! As the twenty-five year old sitting here writing this, I want to tell you, I’m feeling my youth. The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know. But, at the same time, I realized that there is a lot I wish I could tell you.

1. You are doing way better than you think. I promise. I know you’re still in that dark place of only seeing failure after failure. You are thinking you deserve so much condemnation and judgement. You wish you could just “choose” and all the sudden be better. Actually, what you are wanting is perfection. Ten years later, you still haven’t got it, but now, it is okay.
I know you are doing well because you are trying. It pays off. Even when you fail, eventually you learn the lesson. God is just getting started with the work He is doing in Your life. I still don’t know what you will look like when He is done. But I do know it is exciting, glorious and worth it.

2. Soon, you are going to come across a theological debate that you will think about for ten years. maybe even longer. I’d say just give in and become a Calvinist, but you’d miss out on all the time meditating on the character and attributes of God if you make the decision quickly. Enjoy the journey.

3. You are going to learn a lot about people in the next ten years. Forget the stereotypes. Just look at people for who they are and assume the best. I actually think you end up doing an okay job at this, but never quit working on it.

4. You are going to learn so much about yourself. When it comes down to it, you don’t fit into all the stereotypes you thought you did. In fact, you are going to feel like you don’t fit into any. This is the hard part. You will feel completely alone. You will feel crazy at times and you will often question whether or not you are right in what you have decided.  It is okay. It is going to be okay. You won’t always feel alone, and you will never be alone.

5. I know you’ve heard the phrase “be true to yourself” and the phrase “Guard your heart”, but you’ve only heard them in the context of romantic relationships. Girl, let me tell you, they apply to LIFE and all of your relationships.

Someone has always got something to say, so just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean you are wrong. Listen carefully to those older and wiser. Just don’t change for anyone else.

You always assume people won’t like you for you. Your biggest problem isn’t the people who don’t like you; it is that YOU don’t like you! So, go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, take a deep breath and say “I like you, Melanie.”

Now, I know you can’t actually do it. I know you have and will scream the exact opposite when you look at yourself in the mirror in the next ten years. But it doesn’t have to be like that. God didn’t make you repulsive or even un-likeable. God made you in His image. You bear the image of the Most High, Beautiful, Almighty, Loving and Eternal God; don’t forget that!

Even when there are people who do genuinely care about you and accept you for you, it won’t matter until you can accept you for you. So try again! Look yourself in the eye in the mirror, and repeat after me “I like you, Melanie. God has big plans for you. He won’t let you go.” Rinse and repeat. Please, for me.

6. No matter how dark it gets, I promise that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will come a day when you know AND feel (this is HUGE!) that your life is worth living. I promise you will know it and feel it. It ends up feeling like this strong undercurrent of happiness. It is amazing. But before that, you will face hard, dark and challenging days. It is okay. You get through it.

You still have people who love you after the ugly stuff is over. No matter how awful it gets or how tormented your mind becomes, it will be okay. You can count on it. God’s there even when it doesn’t feel like it. He isn’t ashamed of you, Melanie. He calls you His own. He is going to teach you so much about His love and grace. Just keep looking for those things.

7. On a more practical note, I wish you would take an interest in parenting books the way you do in marriage books. It might help you out later on.

If I could only tell you one things, I would say “It is going to be okay. Really!”

“I like you, Melanie”,
Your twenty-five-year-old self

Brain dumps and brilliant thoughts I write after my kids go to bed