Embrace Your Weirdness – My Messy Beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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We’ve all got “that” friend. The one that is slightly embarrassing in public, the one that says what everyone is thinking but you don’t ACTUALLY say it! Confession time … I AM that friend. I am TOTALLY the person that doesn’t know when to stop. I say too much. Or as my college room-mate would say, I have diarrhea of the mouth. My brutal honesty and complete inappropriateness just comes flying out of my mouth!

I get over excited and when that happens … WATCH OUT! My hands start flying, my voice gets loud, I talk really fast, my hair starts flipping all over the place. AND if I’m really excited I start jump-dancing around. There is no hiding when I get excited.

I am the friend that pushes the boundaries and can sometimes be a little much. The friend who seems to have missed a few life application lessons along the way. Funny thing, is that I’ve been through way more than the average 30 year-old. Ejected out of a car, learned how to walk again, graduated college pregnant, single mom, spontaneous triplets, lost my precious baby Owen to SIDS and most recently divorced just to name a few life experiences.  AND ALL IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS! How is it that I can experience all of that and still not know how to behave in public?

Truth is, I’ve never really fit in. Always wanted to, but never could quite figure out how to be normal long enough. My little brother and younger sister are both way cooler than I am. So it’s not that I come from a dorky family, I’M just dorky.

Over time, I’ve tried to be more “normal.” Act in a way that is more like everyone else. I fail. Every time. Sometimes I can pull off “normal” for a few hours. When Doug and I were married, we had the honor of attending a fundraiser at the governor’s mansion. I pinkie promised Doug that I wouldn’t do anything embarrassing. I wore a nice formal dress, with pearls (they made me feel sophisticated). I made sure to cross my legs at the ankle and kept my voice low. I even refrained from rearranging the chess board into a funny scene. Then, our turn to take a photo. I shook the governor’s hand. “Nice to meet you Gov Walker.” He motions for me to come on the other side for a photo. Out of my mouth flies, “It’s a governor Oreo!” So close Mel, so close.

I think in all of my life struggles and experiences, I’ve learned that social norms and cultural do’s and don’ts just aren’t that important. Even if you abide by them, life still happens to you. It doesn’t protect you from anything. What’s the point of being a rule follower? My gravestone isn’t going to read if I knew which fork to eat my salad with, if I always said the right thing or if I played by the rules. Life is meant to be experienced and people were meant to love each other. Rule breakers are the ones who make the history books.

So, I’m weird, but I sure know how to have a good time. I just LOVE to laugh and there is something to laugh at in every part of life. Even when life is at it’s lowest, there is something to laugh at. You just have to be weird enough to allow yourself to see it and experience it. When Owen was on life support in the hospital, my favorite memories are those of laughter around his bedside.

Let go of your worry of what others are thinking of you. Hell, I’m totally ok with myself until I start noticing what others are thinking of me. Since when did their opinion of me matter more than my own? For me, other opinions have always been more important, but that’s no way to live. This is my life. These are pages of my book that I’m writing. No one else’s.

Be weird. Be proud of your weirdness. FLAUNT your weirdness. Just be yourself because you are beautiful. God knit you just the way you are for a special reason. Who are we to try to correct the creator of heaven and earth?

Love, Mel

 MBW-403

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What Does a Fox Say?

A few weeks ago Jaden surprised me when he said he wanted to participate in the school talent show. When I asked him what he was going to do he said, “Break dance, like Uncle Jake.” Ok … to what song? “What does a fox say?” Well, well, well … this has the possibility of at least being entertaining. I do have to admit that I was nervous his friends and classmates wouldn’t find it as entertaining as I did … I am his mother after all :) I worry about my sweet Jaden – he’s kind of out there, like his mama and kids can be cruel.

The next day, he stayed after school to try out (everyone gets in the show, it’s more of a practice). He had trouble with his music, but handled it like a pro. My mom showed me a video of his dance since I had to work. I’ll be honest, I was still nervous about his classmates making fun of him. My mom said everyone was really supportive of him and gave him high fives and “nice jobs” after.

I made him run through his dance each night – it was part of the deal of signing up. Each night his dance was a little different. He was really getting excited.

Then, I asked him what he was going to wear. We came up with a cool hooded sweatshirt with little fox ears on the hood. I engineered the perfect orange pointed ears a few nights before his performance.

The big day came. He said he was a little nervous, but he’d be fine. Just when did my baby grow up? The entire family came – YaYa, Pa, TeeTee, Uncle Jake, Doug, Logan and Weston. We got there early to make sure we got a good seat.

My baby stole the show! I’m not entirely sure where his courage came from? He’s never been on stage before … but he did it. And his friends were so supporting of him. Cheering him on and giving him high fives. He still likes to wear the sweatshirt to school – reliving the magic I suppose.

Watching our babies grow up is something incredible, isn’t it?

Love, Mel

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April 13, 2014 · 10:15 pm

Make Meaningful Relationships

You all know I have recently become a church lady. I am an office manager at an ELCA Lutheran church. I have quickly learned that I am not your typical church lady. My laugh is often too loud, I get really excited which causes me to sing talk and sometimes I dance to the coffee maker. A few “choice words” may have slipped out of my mouth and I love wearing jeans every day. Hey, I like to be comfortable.

There is something that a coworker, Jeanne, said to me last week that has stuck with me. I was telling her of the Easter Bags of Hope project that was coming up. She asked how she could help the Girl Scouts get more involved next year. She started by saying, “If I’m working here next year…” I cut her off. “Of course you’ll be working here! You can’t leave me.”

In her “Mama K” way, she told me this: it doesn’t matter where I am, the whole point of life is to make meaningful relationships that would last longer than any circumstance.

Now there’s a concept! I’ve been digesting those words ever since. Not only did it challenge me to think about my interactions differently, but it made me realize that she viewed me differently too. I wasn’t just the full time employee at Atonement to her. I wasn’t just the girl who proof reads everything. I was a person, a somebody outside off my job, outside of our interactions at work.

I want to look at others in that same light. In a lot of ways I feel like I already do. I already love you even if we have not met. I deeply care about those I interact with. In fact, too much at times. My mom can tell you that every time I came home after meeting a new friend I’d tell her that she was my forever friend, I just knew it.

I do know that I live for love. When you really boil down the meaning of life it’s to love each other. Take care of each other. Each time you encounter someone, remember this: you are meeting one of god’s greatest creations. They are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. They are an irreplaceable piece of art to someone. Everyone is a someone to somebody. Their “painting”might not fit your style. Maybe the painting is too big for your wall or the colors are too bright for your room … that doesn’t mean the painting is any less valuable. Whether a person fits into your life or not does not impact their a value in this world. For heavens sake, treat them like it.

There is so much crap in this world. War, school shootings, cancer, hunger, homelessness, depression, and the list goes on. We need more love. We need to take care of reach other. It’s a jungle out there for crying out loud!

My challenge to you is to think love … Relationships matter. People matter. When attending a conference, a keynote speaker shared this: “We let people drink coffee in worship. Space isn’t sacred, people are sacred.” #ctw2014

People are what matter, each one a treasured masterpiece. So treat each other with care. Love, in the end, is all that really matters.

Love, Mel

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FaceTime With a 7 Year-Old

Here is a little insight on what it’s like to FaceTime with a 7 year old boy …

Look at what I can do Mom!! Did you know I can lick my armpit?

Love, Mel>

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3rd Annual Easter Bags of Hope – April 5, 2014

The 3rd Annual Easter Bags of Hope project (benefiting the Hope Center of Waukesha)  is just under 13 days away … I’m so excited and nervous!

We are currently collecting donations of hygiene products, small toys/books and non-perishable snacks (click here for a complete list).  We will be using the items to fill Easter Bags for those serviced by the Hope Center of Waukesha.  Then on Saturday, April 5 (9am-12pm) we invite children of all ages to join us and help assemble the bags.

The Hope Center is a non-profit organization that has been providing hope to those in need in Waukesha County for more than twenty years.  Hope Center is continually working to provide new and better solutions to prevent homelessness and handle the growing needs of the community.  To read more about the Hope Center click here.

If you are out of town and would still like to participate, please do!  I know that there are many, many Little Warriors all over the US!  If I may, here is what I would suggest:  Take your child to the dollar store or Wal-Mart or Target and talk to them about people who don’t have homes.  Have them try to come up with a list of what kinds of items they would need if they didn’t have a house to live in.  Keep your language simple.  The basics.  You know your child best.  Praise them for thinking of others and tell them how important it is.  It’s the teaching part that really gets me motivated about this project!

NEW THIS YEAR: A Scholastic Book Fair will also be open during the event. Perfect timing for Easter baskets! Or purchase a book(s) for the Easter bag project! Profits made from the sale will support the New Life Ministry at Ascension. This ministry provides welcome baskets for newborns and their moms in the community. A book study I participated in last fall is hosting this as part of our service project related to our study. The book fair will also be available online if you forget your wallet the morning of, or if you’d like to support Little Warriors long distance. I know that much of the support I received during Owen’s battle and the days following were from all over the US and across the world. Your support and prayers have not been forgotten … I still have dreams of running into someone wearing an OWENGE shirt in an airport some day … If anything else, know that I still think about you all. Back to the subject … book fair. Books are good, reading is important. Come prepared to buy a book :)

I really do hope to see you on the morning of April 5.  We will have coffee ready for you and promises of a memorable morning with your little ones.  It gets me every single time as I watch so many little ones working to help others.  I always feel like Owen is so very proud of what we are doing.  Come for the whole three hours or for just a while.  Come right away at 9am or show up late.  We just want to see you there!   It’s going to be a great opportunity to show children that they can make a difference.

I’ve got all the details up on www.owenslittlewarriors.com   Pre-registration for the event is appreciated so we have an estimated head count of how many will be joining us.  But walk-ins are always welcome!!!

Please feel free to email me or we.care.warriors@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Love, Mel

P.S. Don’t forget to print off a flyer (or a few) and invite all of your friends!  Click here to download a copy of the flyer.

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The Princess and the Suitcase

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who dreamed about what it would be like to travel to a far away land, and to live happily princess luggageever after with her prince. She spent her days discovering new things – special things – secret things and packed them away in her suitcase.

She collected scraps of fabric that would one day weave together a blanket for their first baby. She found the perfect pillows that would act as compassion for her husband. She made valentine cards with lopsided hearts and rhyming poems that she would one day use to show her prince just how special he was. She took pictures of all her favorite memories, to give to him as special gifts … memories that would tell him more about who she was and why she believed the things she did. She found the perfect black dress for those special date nights. She saved all her favorite recipes and put them in a little box. She took her tenderness and made slippers. The princess watched her parents and learned what it meant to be a woman and a wife.

She carefully packed all these things into her suitcase. The delicate things were wrapped with care. The hard-to-break items were placed at the bottom of the bag, to act as a foundation for the rest. The princess would bring her suitcase with her when she met her prince charming.

One day, her dream came true. The day had finally came when she would become a wife! She gathered all of her special belongings, and began to make a home for herself and her groom. She slowly began to unpack her bag. First, the hard, sturdy items came out. Her independence, her willingness to try new things, her eagerness to please. She soon found a place for each of these in their new home.

Then, she began to unpack the softer things. She laid the woven blanket on their new baby’s bed. She covered their baby with love, peace, tenderness and softness. She was so busy making a home for herself, that she missed the disapproving look on her prince charming’s face.

Then, she began to unpack some of her favorite memories. Each one shared long after the children were asleep, when only the two of them could hear. She shared her hopes, her dreams, her favorite love stories. She began to teach him more and more about herself … carefully unwrapping each gift to lay at his feet.

She all too soon learned that these delicate stories had no place in their home. Her cherished moments were being cracked and chipped away. They were forgotten about, misplaced and stepped on. Quick, before anymore of her porcelain memories could be broken, she started to put them back in her suitcase. But she still had so much left to unpack – she hadn’t even really settled into their new home. The fabric she had chosen for her blankets were criticized for not being the right color or softness. She packed those away, soaked in tears. The pillows she had carefully placed on the couch and on the beds were thrown across the room and tossed aside. Since they weren’t important to her husband, she put those away too. Her perfect black dress, hung in the closet, never been worn. That too went back into the suitcase.

She began to believe that all these things she had been saving for years were foolish. They were “girl dreams.” They had no place in real life. How foolish she was to think her childish suitcase would have a place in her new “grown up” home.

This didn’t look anything like the fairy tale she had so carefully planned and prepared for. She hadn’t packed her suitcase with armor and protection to reflect the criticism. She didn’t anticipate that someone else wouldn’t see the value in her treasures. She had saved all the fragile parts of herself for her marriage – as a once in a lifetime gift to her prince charming. She was so unprepared.

After a while, the princess looked around her new home, in the far away land, and realized she had put everything she had been saving for these years, back into her suitcase. There was nothing left unpacked. She didn’t belong here. Her life treasures weren’t treasured at all. She was all packed, neatly tucked away in a small little suitcase. She had no other choice but to leave her fairy tale behind. She was ready for life’s new adventure.

With each step, she gained strength. Her arms grew muscle as she carried her life suitcase down the road. Her skin tanned under the sun. Her legs grew strength with each stride. She was strong. What the princess didn’t realize was how tightly she had locked up her suitcase and how much of a mess it would make when the next prince came along …

to be continued …

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March 17, 2014 · 9:24 pm

To My Future Wife

Mel:

And this is the answer to my question … Is chivalry dead? I’d have to say no after reading this …

Originally posted on A New Perspective:

Photo on 3-11-12 at 9.36 PM #2 How’s it lookin, good-lookin?

I don’t know who you are yet.  I don’t know what you look like.  I don’t know the color of your eyes.  I don’t know the color of your skin.  I don’t know your name.  There are a lot of things that I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that I want you to know.

You’re Already Beautiful.  Congratulations, babe, you did it.  You are already beautiful.  Seriously.  If beauty is a game, you’re a pro.  You are perfect already.  You were beautifully and wonderfully made.  You have nothing to fix.  Let me say that again, you have nothing to fix.  God did not mess-up on you.  I know what society is telling you.  “You have to look like this, wear this, and have this in order to be beautiful.” Nope.  You’re already beautiful.  Beauty is more than what…

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Is Chivalry Dead?

I take my job as a mother to all boys very seriously. It was the moment I realized that I was raising the men who would be taking care of someone else’s daughter that I realized just how important my job was. My life will be meaningful if my boys grow up to be ‘good’ men. Got me thinking … what does it mean to be a ‘good man’ these days? What does the 21st century “good man” look like? Is chivalry dead? In a lot of ways I think it is … but is it too late to bring it back?

chiv·al·ry
ˈSHivəlrē/Submit
noun
1. the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code.

I love that … a religious, moral and social code.

Religious – I want my boys to believe is God and Jesus. I want them to want to attend church and to be the head of a christian home. Now let me say this … if they choose to leave the church, I will always love my boys. But I desire them to have the comfort, support and safety net of the Christian beliefs that I have grown into. I honestly do NOT know where I would be today if it weren’t for my faith in God, my fear of God and my hope in the promises God makes every morning.

Moral – You hear about all the horrible things that happen in this world. Rape, husbands beating up their wives, children hearing their parents call each other all kinds of horrible names, men who control all the money, women who cheat. I want my boys to know right from wrong in this corrupt world. I want it to matter to them that they live by a code. I want them to be rooted in a standard that holds them to a higher level than the role models television and media give them. I pray every day that God gives them the strength to withstand peer pressure – that God whispers to them each day which path they should take. I want them to know the important of being honest, loyal and to have integrity.

Social – is it too much for a man to hold open a door for a women? Now, don’t take me for a traditionalist … I have my feminist tendencies. I believe women and men were created equal. I do not think that women should bow down to men and that women should paid the same as men. But … BUT … there is a level of honor and respect when a man opens a door for a woman. I remember when I had plans to hang out with a friend … when he picked me up, he got out of his car, waited for me to lock up my house then, opened my car door for me. I felt special. I felt cherished. I felt protected. I want my boys to know how to make a woman feel that way. Because it’s their job to protect – not to control or boss around – but to protect the women in their lives. I don’t want them to be afraid to hold their girlfriend’s purse. In turn, I pray that they meet a girl that will honor and love them. That they will accept my boys’ protection as love and that they will cherish them in a way that only a girl can.

Jaden has struggled with the divorce … as can be expected. His anger gets the best of him. He struggles with understanding the change. I’ve lost sleep over worrying about Jaden losing a father figure in his life. But something amazing has been happening with that boy. Something deeply amazing. The other day, Jaden rushed to the door ahead of me. I was irritated because I had to reach and fumble to unlock the door. He opened it, stepped aside and said, “Ladies first, mama.” Then he rushed ahead of me again, and opened the porch door and said the same, “Ladies first, mama.” This continued with each door we walked through … the daycare door, the door to Logan and Weston’s class, then back out again. The little man even opened my car door. My heart was complete mush and I was beaming with pride.

I realized that how my boys treat other other people will forever be more important than any grade they bring home. It will matter more than the level that they read at – the multiplication tables they memorize. The way they treat women will matter more than any other grade they will ever receive. How they treat women will shape their family. It will direct whether or not their heart gets broken, it will affect the kind of woman they choose to be the mother of their children. Chivalry is so important … it’s something I still pray that God blesses me with … a man who holds doors open, a man who helps me with my coat, respects my role in this world as a woman, someone who raises me up on a pedestal … not because I demand it or even deserve it. But rather, he puts me there because he wants to – because he respects me and loves me. And in return, I will love and respect him.chivalry-quiz-0208-de

To my fellow mamas of boys – teach them to be chivalrous. Teach them how to treat a lady. Let’s raise chivalry from the grave …

Love, Mel

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I forget how awesome I am …

Sometimes it’s really hard to remember how awesome I am. I don’t mean this in a boastful or prideful way … I mean this in an “I’m an amazing child of God, and the greatest king in the world is in love with me so I should be able to love myself” sort of way. Sometimes my desire to love someone else shadows the truth that they don’t honor me. I want to badly to share my life with someone, I’m blind to the fact that they aren’t worthy of how awesome I am.

For years I believed the lies people told me. I was told that I was lazy, fat, messy, used and unlovable. I started to believe that if I could just “be” better, then I would be lovable. Then, I would be worthy of being taken out for dinner. Maybe then someone would notice me – would see the light I felt inside but felt like no one could see.

Deep in my gut I know that I’m good. I know that I’m special, but on the surface it’s hard to believe. It’s hard to expect people to respect me. To accept nothing less than love and respect from those around me. When I’m mistreated, I default to thinking that I deserved it in some way. I must have done something to deserve it.

To some degree, I might have. I’m not perfect. I mess up – say the wrong thing – say hurtful things – mistreat those that I love. I’m human. But here is my new revelation … I might have deserved someone being upset with me, but I don’t deserve being disrespected. There is a difference. You can be hurt and upset and still honor another person as valuable.

Where to go from here? What’s the next step? I have no clue … at all. I guess, just like any other realization I’ve had, I put one foot in front of the other. Each morning I wake up, I remind myself that I am awesome. I look myself in the mirror and say … you are worthy enough, you are strong enough, and you are good enough just the way you are. I keep walking like the warrior mama I am and I keep fighting. I keep fighting for my life, for a better tomorrow. I keep trying to get it right, or at least better.

Each day is a brand new day. It’s a brand new start, a fresh slate. I claim it as mine. I claim my day as a work in progress …

I will never expect someone to be perfect, to be without making mistakes or to be blameless. To me, respect will look like the same in return. To take me just as I am … to honor and cherish the good and awesome parts of me and to tolerate the not-so-awesome parts of me.

Don’t forget how awesome YOU are. The way you view yourself is one thing that no one can take from you … they might try … but it’s yours. Claim your awesomeness!

Love, Mel

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I’m Not Sick

I’m sitting on my couch, watching the Bachelor and listening to my kids snoring. After two lost stuffed animals, three bandaids (one of which is literally on top of Weston’s head, in his hair – exactly where he insisted on me putting it), four rounds of singing This Little Light of Mine, two backs being rubbed, three drinks of water and lots of snuggles, they are all sleeping little angels. Did I mention no tears?!?! I’m getting my mama mojo back!

This past week I’ve been battling not feeling well … I’ve been telling myself that I’m not sick … therefore, I am NOT sick. Let’s be honest, moms don’t have time to be sick! Let alone a single, working mom! So, I just keep telling myself that I’m not. Each morning, I drink a big glass of water, take some cold medicine, get dressed and face the day. If I keep moving, I’ll feel better.

Knowing how much I “love” shoveling, I was less than excited to see the whiteout conditions today. Here in Wisconsin, we got 5-8 inches of snow! I knocked out all my work and was able to leave by 4. Picked up the triplets from daycare and headed home. Sat on the kitchen floor and played with stickers and colored with the littles while the water boiled. We filled twelve different bowls with crackers, grapes and mac ‘n cheese. I didn’t care about the extra dirty dishes, it was fun! I threw in a load of laundry into the washer and folded the load in the dryer from Sunday. I washed all twelve bowls and the dirty dishes still sitting on the counter from Saturday. Then, we put on all of our snow gear and headed outside to clear the snow.

I fired up the snow blower for the 1,534 time this winter. With each trip up and down the driveway I felt stronger and stronger. Not only am I learning how to handle a snow blower like a pro, but I was feeing pretty proud of myself. Proud for the strong woman I’m growing to be. (Note “growing” I’m not quite where I want to be, but I’m making progress.) I’m proud that I had the drive to take care of my own driveway (no pun intended). My dad had offered to snow blow for me when he dropped Jaden off. I thought, for one of the first times since moving out, “I can do this on my own and I WANT to do this on my own. There is no reason why I can’t do this on my own.” I laughed, watching the triplets rolling down the huge piles of snow. I had to pause to pick Weston up out of the snow pile he couldn’t quite crawl out of and to wipe the snow off of Logan’s cheeks … I thought of the USA skeleton silver medalist. She trains for the Olympics with her kids playing on the race track … While I’m not going to be headed to Sochi anytime soon, I am training for my own life games. I may never get a medal for my role as Jaden, Logan, Weston and Owen’s mom – I do know that my work is important and precious and worthy of a gold medal.

My dad pulled in with Jaden just as I was finishing up. He was proud of me too – and thankful that he didn’t have to clear my snow :)

When we all got inside it was time for baths and pj’s. We had a bedtime snack (Girl Scout cookies – thank you Chloe!) and read two books. Brushed teeth and snuggled into bed.

I guess as I sit here thinking about my day, I’m shocked as just how much moms can get done in one night! I’m always surprised at just how much work kids can be – yet just how much we love them. One thing is for sure – the work we do for our children is never wasted. These tasks are investments. Totally worth every minute.

I’m still “not sick.” Mind over body … I’m still going with that!

Love, Mel

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