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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Advent and Christmas

Years ago I began incorporating the Advent season into my life. 
I began using an advent wreath with candles that I lit each corresponding Sunday. 
I found weekly readings and songs that went with each Sunday of Advent.

Last year I was honored to put together Advent readings/meditations myself for our reFresh ministry. This took me to a deeper place of appreciating the season of Advent. 

These practices helped the whole of the Christmas time to not be stress filled and exhausting to me.  I found myself more aware of the miracle that Christ's birth was and is. 

In the Catholic church we have Advent season as the beginning of the new church calendar year. Advent season ends on Christmas Day and Christmas Season goes from Christmas Day to Epiphany!

I love that Advent is meant to remind me of the longing and need for Christ and the hope of His arrival. And that the Christmas season of joy begins on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ and goes until the day we commemorate the Wise Men's arrival to meet Christ. 

I am excited to begin Advent tomorrow. Sunday. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

When it feels like there is not enough time

I was in a local coffee shop recently and overheard a girl asking her friends to pray that she would have more time and energy.

I smiled to myself as I walked outside with this thought, "we are given 24 hours in a day. No more, no less." 
We are called to be stewards of the time given to us. 
If I pray for more time, it really means I am not prioritizing well or I am attempting to do more than is feasible. 
Wouldn't it be more in line with Christ's call on my life to pray for wisdom in how to steward the time given to me? 

I have been thinking a lot about time lately. 
The hours given to me are 24. 
In each 24 hour period I must work, sleep and eat.. and any left over time is family, friends, church, taking care of myself, etc... 

I was blessed the past 10 plus years to have jobs that had flexible hours. 
 This new job requires I go to an office at least 4 days a week for at least 8 hours a day. 

I know this is normal for most people, but it has been a big adjustment for me. :) 

I have had to re-arrange my priorities and my expectations. 
Isn't that what we all must do when we encounter big changes in our lives? 

A new job
A new house
A new relationship
A loss 
A gain

All major changes in life demand that we look at our priorities and how we go about them. Are we making the important things the important things? Is God first? 

When I was a Mary Kay consultant (oh so many years ago...), I was taught that it should be God first, Family second, Career third. I actually still go by this. Not always well... but my relationship with the Lord is much more important to me than any other relationship. My family and my friends are very dear to me and my job is generally something I must do to pay bills. As much as I put my passion and heart into any job, it is still not as important as the people in my life.

And how do I prioritize my health in all this? If I don't eat well, drink water, exercise, I do not have energy to do anything else well. 

Oh Lord, please give me wisdom and courage to prioritize and value this precious gift of time that you have designed.

Monday, 17 August 2015

a Journey of Health

About two years ago 
            I began a journey of intentionally becoming 
                more healthy
                                                                -and physically.

I do not know that I will ever arrive at any standards that the world calls me to strive for, but I am feeling more healthy than I have felt in a very long time.

When I lived in Europe, women knew they were beautiful no matter what size or shape they were. They in general walked with the confidence that they knew they had feminine power (beauty and grace and strength) no matter if they were in a winter coat or a summer bikini. 

Those 8 years instilled in me a greater sense of confidence in my femininity as a God-given gift.

I must admit that I regressed a bit after moving back to America, where we see beauty as being fit. And just over two years ago, I saw a photo of myself that really shook me. I was almost the heaviest I had ever been. And it was affecting my confidence in who God created me to be. 

So I began to exercise, and worked on remembering to eat and counted the ounces of water I drank to make sure I was drinking enough. I engaged a personal trainer who inspired and encouraged me. 

I am grateful for the flexibility my schedule held those two years. I could go to the gym when the trainer was available.  Then I could go to the gym when the classes were running that I enjoyed. 

I am grateful for the encouragement of people who have known me for a long time... saying Melissa you have always been beautiful and it is good to see you getting healthier. I need encouragement. 

In these past two years I have shed about 50 pounds and gone from a XL to a Small and from a 16 to a 6. With those pounds went a lot of emotional and mental healing as well. 

As I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror these days, I am stunned. I don't see myself as skinny. 
When I try on clothes I have to convince myself to try on the smaller size because I don't believe it will fit and then it does and I am shock. 

I am not done yet. I don't care what size I am or how much I weigh, really. I care how healthy I feel.. and I know I need to be stronger... and I know I will get there. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. 

.....This is a process

God created us.
       He designed our bodies 
                   He also designed what it would take for us to be our healthiest.

I want to be healthy. 
I want there to be no reason 
that I could not go where God calls me to go 
do what what God calls me to do. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Glorify the Lord with me...

At Mass on Sunday,
 after having ridden 45 miles 
(most of which was the Portland Bridge Pedal), 
with a worn out body. 

I felt raw and open and vulnerable. 
Too spent physically to engage emotionally or mentally. 
Content and happy
nothing between me and what God would show me during mass. 

The responsorial Psalm was from Psalm 34

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, 
and let us exalt his name together! 
I sought the Lord, and he answered me 
and delivered me from all my fears.

I felt tears well up in my eyes. 

I did seek the Lord over my anxieties preceding this bike ride. 
I did ask others to pray for me as I felt anxieties well up within my soul. 

He did answer. 
He did deliver me from my fears. 

I did have a moment toward the end where my lack of ability to get oxygen going up a hill cause me to hyperventilate... but I was not afraid. 

And the whole ride, 
over all the bridges, 
around all the people, 
with the support of my boyfriend 

I made it. I did something I never dreamed I could do. 

Magnify the Lord with me! Let us exalt His name together!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Where does the time go?

Lent finished and according to the church calendar we are still in the Easter Season. 
50 days of Easter follow Lent up to Pentacost Sunday. 
50 days of rejoicing after 40 days of self examination and pondering how much we need a Savior.
 I am grateful for this designation of time. 

I am preparing to make a major transition. That of going from being a financially supported missionary to being a full time employee in some organization or corporation. The last time I had a role like this was in 2005 when I left my job to work overseas with Cru. 

The last time I wrote up an American resume was in 2002. 
I am 
Excited and nervous
Hopeful and cautious

I know that I am following the Lord's leading in this. I feel the same way I did when I knew I was supposed to return to the states. I got on the plane and wrote in my journal, "I do not know what the destination is of this particular journey, but I know I am taking the right step." 

I am feeling the same way now. I do not know what job I will have next. But I know that is the direction I am supposed to go. 

I know who I am in Christ. 
I know what my gifts and strengths are. 
I desire to utilize the best of who I am as I move on. 

I recall a phrase the Lord gave me after 4 years in Germany. I need to "do a job that utilizes my admin skills to develop people more than I need to do a job that utilizes my people skills to do admin nicely."

It is a new and glorious.
Christ is RISEN
He is risen indeed!

He is the one I trust!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Paschal Mystery

I am preparing to lead a time tonight for the RCIA group at church about the Paschal Mystery. What is the Paschal Mystery you ask? Pasqua is Italian for Easter. Does that help? :) the Paschal Mystery is....

According to Wikipedia:
"One of the central concepts of Christian faith relating to the history of salvation. Its main subject is the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the work God the Father sent his Son to accomplish on earth"

In essence, it is the name given by the Catholic Church to the entirety of Christ's passion, death and resurrection. And how great a mystery that Christ would die for us and that His death covers our sins and gives us the opportunity to join with God in eternity. 

RCIA is the program that a person goes through if they are interested in learning more about the Catholic Church and about joining. 

I love this program. It not only teaches the faith traditions of the Catholic Church, but it instills in the attenders the importance of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ. A relationship with God is the reason why we do everything else. Participating in Mass, crossing ourselves with the sign of the cross, going to reconciliation....these are all good things, but they mean nothing if we do not have a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. 

I am excited to walk with the participants tonight through the Paschal Mystery. It is so VERY important for their journey. And for my journey and for your journey. Lent is a time to remember the amazing gift of love that we have been given. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


I am a romantic. I know it. I fully admit it. 

I just watched the trailer for the new Cinderella movie. I found myself sighing, as just about every young girl, young woman, and old woman does. It is the ultimate fairy tale of kindness and love conquering all the odds. 

I know this story so well. I know so many versions of the story.. the musicals and the non musicals and yet I want to go to the theatre and watch this version. 

Why? because I am a romantic and I love the romance of it. I love that it is the prince's pursuit of Cinderella and his goodness and kindness which draw us in. He fought to find her and once he finds her, he protects her and cherishes her. And they lived happily ever after. ....

No man is perfect. Many men try to be perfect. Some men do not try to be perfect. All men are imperfect.

for that matter...

all women are imperfect too no matter how hard we try...

In my imperfection, I desire to be romanced and to romance. The funny thing is that romance is different for everyone.

It's the little things like a smile shared across a room, or a hand on the small of my back. or a simple note that says I love you. 
It's grand gestures of words spread across the clouds, or expensive gifts, or a lingering hug. 

It's an intimate proposal of marriage, or a large scale lots of friends proposal of marriage.

It's cuddling up and watching a movie. It's watching what you want even if I don't want to. It's watching what I want even if you don't want to. 

It's dancing in the living room and/or dancing at a ball or not dancing at all. 

The common thread... is the heart. 
What we do for and with those we love is an expression of our hearts. 
and when our hearts are at rest in Christ and we are who we are designed to be,
,,,the romancing is beautiful. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Authentic Community in Transformation

Today, I am going to the 5th of 6 times away with the A.C.T. Journey. We are almost finished with the journey together. We will continue to journey after. 

Authentic Community in Transformation

Sounds comforting and scary and challenging and delightful right?

A group of people from very different life circumstance, coming together with the desire to know more of who God is and who God is calling us to be. 

We are drawn together through authentic, vulnerable, transformative sharing, praying, learning, listening, and being together. 

I have learned so much about myself and God already through this process. These are deeply emotional times together for me, because we are processing so much. 

We journey with people in the Bible through their discoveries of who God is. 
We learn ways to listen to what God may be trying to tell us. 

So I am going on this 5th gathering today until Sunday. My phone and facebook will be neglected as I focus on what God may want to do in me this weekend. 

Your prayers for safety, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually are coveted. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015


The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. I have been observing Lent for the past 6 years or so. It is a season that helps me intentionally prepare for the joy of Easter. When I give up something that I have come to rely on as a crutch or a pacifier... I am more aware of me need for Jesus. Giving up coffee, or gossip, or TV, or soda, or sugar or alcohol or any number of things that we as humans go to in our stress, sadness, frustration... helps us focus on what the real issues are.

40 days of doing or not doing anything changes me. I am, along with my boyfriend, giving up TV/Movies for this Lent season. Something we can do together as well as we each have something personal we will do. I find myself wondering how this will improve our relationship with each other and our relationships with the Lord. It has GREAT potential for both.

But it isn't just giving up something for  me this year. I have been putting together a journey of reflections and intentional processes for our reFresh audience as well.

If you are looking for something to help you intentionally enter into Easter this year, you can sign up here Linger in Lent 

I am looking forward to this journey with others this Lenten season. Looking forward to how God invites each of us to a closer relationship with Him during this time.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Love is...

1 Corinthians 13:1-6 (RSVCE)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. 
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I find that I do not love well very often. I am prone to put myself first, to lose hope, to being irritable, to wanting my own way, to not being patient... the list goes on. And  I have to wonder... if I loved like I am called to would things be different? This chapter keeps running through my head. Thank you Mom and AWANA for pounding the memorization of Scripture into my head. :) 
It is not just in my dating relationship that I think of this, I think of family members and friends and co-workers and everyone I encounter along a day. If people could see this kind of love emanating from me, would that draw them to a deeper relationship with God himself?
In the Message, the phrasing is so poignant.... as I let it wash over me and sink into my soul... Love never gives up. Love always believes the best...
And the verses 4-6 (The Message)
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Lingering a while...

I have been almost a week at the Oregon coast. The purpose was to be able to clear my head of all the chaos and noise and to be able to put together what God is leading us to offer for the reFresh Lent Journey this year.
There are people who know me well that question if going away by myself is a good idea... they are right to question. This much alone time is very challenging for me. It causes me to force myself out of myself and go seek connections with others. It causes me to come face to face in deeply emotional ways with my Saviour who is always with me, It causes me to see how I run to TV or facebook when I am lonely. It causes me to reach out to friends I have not reached out to for a while. It causes me to saunter and linger more. It is not so easy for me to frolic when I am alone... just being honest. 

I find as I am ending my time here, that I am not as productive as I thought I should be. And then I realised that I put the level of productivity on myself. And I wonder why I thought I should be at a certain level for this time....  At a retreat I was on a few weeks ago we talked about the Nautilus shell and how it has to grow from its current space into the next space to survive. 
We grow and shift and change with life. 
We are becoming who God is shaping and calling us to be.  
 When Saturday arrived, so did the people... the beach which has previously been quiet except for the sounds of nature was interrupted by children and parents and dogs. It was really only the little yippy dogs that were jarring to me. There was one that was quiet vocal and I found myself resenting its encroachment on my space. As though it was my space to be protective of....
 It is continually amazing to me how much we see of who God is and who we are when we take time to stop and linger. I don't always like what I see... but I know God loves me even with those not so pretty parts.
I am so excited what this year's Lent journey with reFresh. 
I hope you will join us. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I can do it all myself....

Growing up I, as many women, learned that I needed to take care of myself. 
Out of life circumstance and the society I grew up in, I had no choice. 

My grandfather taught me practical things like how to hammer a nail and use other tools well. 
My mother taught me to take care of my car and fix a toilet that is not flushing.  

I developed courage and confidence to travel alone by car, by train and by plane great distances and in foreign countries. 

I learned how to shoot a gun and how to build a fire.
 I learned how to chop wood and tend a garden.
 I learned how to change a light bulb and how to reset the fuse.

I learned how to cook and sew and clean and organize and ride a bike and care for children.

I learned how to drive a manually transmission-ed car, how to pump my own gas and how to drive in snow, rain and ice. 

I can kill spiders and take out the trash and mow the lawn and open my own doors.... 

 I can do it all my myself. 

But is exhausting. 
And when my man does some of these things for me, I feel cherished, valued and respected. 
I am learning to ask for help. I am learning to let go of needing to do everything myself.
Thank you Robert for being a real man.