Do you remember where you were 4 years ago today?

Do you remember where you were exactly four years ago today? I do!

I was on the third floor, in the birthing center of Waukesha Memorial Hospital, pregnant with three babies. I was going on my second week of being there. When the doctor found out I was 3 cm dilated I bought myself a one way ticket to a hospital stay. I was not showing signs of active labor … I was becoming a permanent fixture.

This particular night four years ago (11-9-10) Doug and Jaden had left from their nightly visits and Rachael, my sister, was hanging out for a while longer, for “girl time.” She brought mud masks. Here I am with a belly that hung lower than most girls wear their skirts these days, sitting on a couch in my room, painting my face with mud. We laughed and laughed and laughed. My sister always knows just the kind of mood medicine I need!

It was a Tuesday night. Why do I remember this? Because the results show for Dancing with the Stars was on. They were recapping a dance to a Pussycat Dolls song. I came out of the bathroom trying to reinact the dance singing “loosen up my buttons baby.” I learned three things:

  1. It is not attractive or easy to dance when carrying three 5 lbs babies in your belly
  2. It’s HILARIOUS to try and sexy dance with three 5 lbs babies in your belly
  3. The real words to the song are not “loosen up my buttons baby”

Good thing my nurses didn’t see that little dance …. but there is a video of it somewhere …

It was time for my nightly fetal monitoring which required two machines, three belly bands and four hands hold them all in place. We noticed that the heartbeats were a little flat (not showing the little accelerations which is a healthy sign in babies in utero). After watching for a bit, the heartbeats perked up and we were no longer concerned. Nurse Amy asked me if I was feeling contractions. “Nope, I feel great!” “hmmm You are having contractions every 5 minutes.” This wasn’t abnormal, I was having contractions on and off for the past two weeks – my uterus was seriously ticked off being stretched that large. She decided to call the doc on call who was on the floor to check if I had dilated any farther. My nurse for the night, Jessie, said, “Ugh if you go into labor, I’m not your nurse anymore … I don’t do labor.” Ummm I’m on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital, what does that mean you don’t do labor? Turns out she was an OBGYN nurse and only certified to care for OB patients or bed rest patients … not women in labor kind of patients.

Doc on call comes in and says I’m still 5 cm dilated – no active labor here. I got my four glasses of water filled (the gestational diabetes had me drinking gallons of water a day) and tried to get some sleep. My coworkers from Kohl’s were going to come and have lunch with me the next day – had to get some good rest.

I had the best night of sleep in a long time!

Nurse Jessie woke me up for my morning fetal monitoring. “Are you feeling those contractions?” “Nope, I feel great!” “Well they are now three minutes apart and the heartbeats are a little higher than we like. I think we should call your doctor and see what she thinks.” We decided to wait until 7 a.m. when a nurse had already checked me would be coming into work. She would be the best to know if I had dilated anymore. So we waited the ten minutes. She came into the room, still buttoning up her scrubs. Well looky there – I was 7 almost 8 cm dilated – WE WERE HAVING BABIES! It was only then that I admitted to sexy dancing the night before. Yep I was the bed rest patient who tried to reenact ballroom dancing moves. #bestpatientEVER

No sudden movements … changed out of my yoga pants and got into a flattering hospital gown. Called Doug. I could hear Jaden in the background yelling “ooo weee we’re having babies!” I called my mom, dad, brother and sister. Calling in the troops!

We had 16 people, between my doctors and two nurses for each baby, in the OR for the triplet’s birth. Go big or go home. I wanted to know who brought the ChexMix for this party! By 9:21 a.m. (only an hour and 21 minutes after finding out I was 8 cm dilated) Logan was born, then Owen and then Weston. I was only able to see Weston in the OR – the others were taken to get oxygen and the care that they needed. To most moms this would have been terrifying, but for us, this was part of the birthing plan. We knew they would be born early and would need to stay in the NICU. Their cries were the most beautiful sound and let me know they were just fine.

Doug left me in the OR and went with the boys – he was so proud and I loved him for it. That left me in the OR with the remaining 9 or 10 people, including my three doctors. It also left me to make all kinds of nervous jokes …

After I was all sewn up and had spent an hour in recovery, they wheeled my hospital bed thru the NICU so I could see my sweet little men in their incubators. First was Weston – he was perfect. Then, oh gosh, I started to not feel well … yep I barfed in the NICU. Awesome. I guess meeting Owen and Logan would have to wait a bit. They rolled me back to my room where I slept. When I woke up, only my sister was left. The rest of the family had gone home and would be back in the morning to visit. She helped me write the email to my coworkers, introducing my three little men. I was so glad she was there to help.

Later that night I got to walk down to the NICU to try and meet my babies again. I met all of them this time, but threw up again. I was making a great first impression on the nurses who would be caring for my children for the next 2-3 weeks. Time to go back to my room … I could visit them any hour of the night.

I don’t totally remember the details after this … I know that Doug was incredibly attentive. The next three nights, we layed in my hospital bed together watching shows after our visitors had gone home. It was a whirlwind of information, heart monitors and baby’s first bath. We loved the nurses. I would pump in the mother’s room and remember Doug knocking on the door to check if I was alright – I had fallen asleep. Whoops!

This morning is much different than four years ago. There aren’t any oxygen masks, only funfetti waffles. Although I’m still not very well rested – boys had me up at 5 a.m. signing cute made up songs. Hard to be mad at that … although I was still annoyed – it WAS 5 a.m. Would have been much cuter at 7 a.m.

Happy 4th Birthday Logan and Weston! Happy birthday Owen! Mama loves all her boys very much!

Love, Mel

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Raking Leaves

Do you remember how much fun it was to jump in the leaves as a kid? Let me tell you a little secret … it’s just as fun when you’re an adult!

A few weeks ago, the kids were going stir crazy inside. So I dropped what I was doing (laundry and cleaning the kitchen) and decided to take them out to blow off some steam. At our new house we have two very large trees in our front and back yard. This equals an enormous amount of leaves in the fall. Leaves that my children have never experienced before.

We started by raking them up into a big pile. We used a combination of a rake, shovels and brooms. Note to self- get child size rakes by next fall. The boys worked hard – piling the leaves up high.

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When I told them it was time to jump in they looked at me like I was nuts! “Mom, we just worked so hard to move the leaves in big pile, and now you want us to jump in it? and ruin all of our hard work? heck no!” Jaden was the first one to jump. Logan and Weston got upset because he was ruining the pile and spreading it all back out. I reassured them that they could play and then we would rake it back up into a big pile again. Once they got the hang of it, there were thousands of laughs and smiles. Time wasn’t a thought and we just played. Me included.

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It was good old fashioned fun. No electronics, no fighting, no mess – just fun.  We played until we were tired. I didn’t tell them it was time to go inside, they asked me to go inside. As I single mom, I often feel like I don’t have the time or energy to do the fun stuff. I used to be the fun mom – letting the boys make a mess with popcorn because it was fun and there was always a vacuum. I was the mom that played as the dirty laundry piled up. The laundry still piles up but I feel like I’m missing out on my children.

So I encouraged my kids to play in the leaves … but the next time I played in the leaves WITH them.

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I buried them in the leaves and I let them cover me too. I didn’t just watch my kids play, I played with them. That’s making memories … I’ve got to remember these moments … I want to be the mom that played WITH her children and not just the mom that had a clean house, laundry folded and watched as her children played. What kind of mom are you? But most importantly, what kind of mom do you want to be?

Love, Mel

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A Myth about Divorce

Here is a myth about divorce … you stop loving the other person. For me, it’s not quite like that. I loved my ex husband. I had every intention of spending the rest of my life with him … flaws and all. I knew things weren’t going so well between us, but I also didn’t plan on going anywhere. I was going to work at it. All good things are worth fighting for, right?

When I first shared here that I was divorced, I asked for respect of my privacy and to just know that I had given it a great deal of thought; it wasn’t a rash decision … and it didn’t have anything to do with Owen’s death (although I’m sure it didn’t help the situation between Doug and I). I haven’t found my elegance on my blog since then. Words and stories used to flow through my fingers. I could draft an entire blog on my way to work, and then come home and type it all out to share. It was effortless really. These past months, I feel clumsy. What part of my story am I ok to share, and what parts are still mine to hold secret? They are all woven together so it’s hard to share anything. I feel like the raw parts of me, that I’m used to sharing, are no longer “something to talk about.”

I feel erased from a life that I loved … from someone I loved so dearly. I want to tell you how much better life is, now that I’m not in an abusive relationship. I’m ashamed to say how much I miss him some nights. No one gets married to get divorced. Unlike Owen’s journey, this one is not inspiring or strong. It’s just all messed up.

The first guy to ask me for coffee sweeps me off my feet and drops me to crash on the ground. Not his fault, it’s my own. I should have never let both feet leave the ground. It was nothing really … a lunch and a visit to the museum. But yet, I relive the feeling of being erased all over again when he denies knowing me. Then, me like a loser, wonders if he ever thinks about me. It’s like I’m in 7th grade all over again. Worrying and wondering and being too embarrassed to admit it. Knowing that I’ve been through the death of a child, I should be able to handle these kinds of things like a champ.

The death of a child is far worse than a divorce. Owen is gone, never coming back again. There is no light at the end of that tunnel. But in divorce, there is the possibility of a second chance. I feel stupid for processing Owen’s death with grace and struggling so much with divorce.

Perhaps it’s because Owen’s death wasn’t something I caused or could have avoided. I did everything I could – CPR, sat by his bedside, prayed and trusted God. The autopsy came back without any answers – which to me, was a relief because it means I didn’t miss anything. There was nothing I could have done to save him. In my marriage I see all of the red flags before we got married. I remember trying to zone out what my gut was really telling me. I flash back to losing my temper with him over and over again. There are so many things I could have done differently. If I had only been able to control my anger. If I had only made more of his favorite meals. So much regret and “what if’s.”

So here I am on the night of November 1, 2014 – almost 11 months to the date after my divorce was final, I am working through the truth; to earn back my authenticity with you. We’ve been through so much, why not this too?

One thing I have learned is that you have to allow yourself to “go there.” You have to be brave enough to face what is going on, to be strong enough to go to those low places. If you avoid them, you don’t really get through them. They will continue to follow you in the shadows.

I am strong. I am still wearing the armor of God and know that He is working for good in all of this. My prayer is that one day Doug and I will be able to be friends again. I’m scared to admit that I hope to be in love again some day. I have never wanted to spend life alone. It’s hard to see the path that God is leading me on when I’m so focused on who isn’t with me. I’m not very good at this .. but it’s all about imperfect progress, right?

Love, Mel

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God’s Strongest Whisper

Let me clarify something … When I said I thought I was special, I meant I thought that you thought I was special. I thought that you valued me and honored me. I believed you when you said I was different than the rest. What I didn’t take into account was the possibility that you weren’t being honest with yourself.

It’s no secret on my blog that I’ve got a few life stories and lessons in my repetuar. This isn’t my first life tragedy. Through each of these hard times I have learned over and over again that I am strong and I am worthy of love. Most of all God loves me. All I want is to love and be loved. God’s strongest and most frequent whisper to me these days is this …

Mel, love my people. They might not love you back at first, but love them. Love them not because they love you but because I love them and because they are special to Me. They are one of you … You are all my children. Love them. I made you to love them.

His whispers are clear. They leave little for interpretation.

I continue to find myself loving those who do not love me back. They have dark days of their own. They are stuck in their own tragedy and they can’t seem to get themselves out. I try to convince myself that I’m better off with some distance. I’m better off focusing on what I am doing. Yet part of me is still stuck loving those who do not, can not love back. I worry about them, I pray for them and I am always a drafting words of wisdom and advise. Outsider information from someone who has “been there, done that.”

A real part of me wishes I could just let go. I could forgot those who cross my path. But that’s not me. I already love you and there is very little you can do to change that.

With all of that … I know that I am worthy of love. I know that I deserve love. But the part that is missing is the someone who also thinks I am worthy of love. Someone who finds me fantastic – flaws and all.

To my family – I just described you. You love me, flaws and all. You find me fantastic (and sometimes obnoxious and difficult). But you love me and you are always, always there for me. You have met me in my dark place and have dragged me out. You have taught me what it feels like to be loved when I don’t deserve it. If I was given that, than surely someone else deserves the same. Those who need love the most are often those who don’t deserve it.

You might not be able to love me back, but I love you. I pray for you, I think about you. And I’m here … When you are ready to make healthy choices. I can’t help you until you are ready to help yourself. But I’ll love you until you’re ready.

Love, Mel

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Home Sweet Home

For the first time in years … YEARS!!!… I look forward to being home.

When married, I dreaded coming home only to be greeted by comments of what I didn’t do correctly or to be cussed at. It wasn’t a safe place. When I moved out, while in the process of my divorce, I lived in a tiny 800 sq foot, one bath and 18″ of countertop in the kitchen, light blue house. There were spiders everywhere, barely enough room to walk around the coffee table and the garage was missing the bottom 12″ of siding so you never knew what rodent or how much rain would be there to greet you in the morning.

Each time I convinced myself that it was my home. While in Sussex, I told myself it’s where my children slept so it was home. After Owen died, it was the only place Owen knew so how could I go anywhere else? With no other options, moving to the small blue house, I told myself it was at least a happy home. The anger that intruded on my Sussex home would not be allowed in this new home. It was small but it was mine.

Home is different now. There is enough room for all of us. It has a sense of permanence. I’ve painted walls, left a mark, settled in. The anxiety is no longer there when I pull into the driveway. I no longer anticipate the stress of either an angry husband or children climbing all over the place because there is no room. It’s just relief … to be home. To settle in and relax. To be where I am supposed to be.

It’s not always perfect. After the kids have gone to sleep I am reminded that I am alone. Single. There is no other parent. I don’t have a best friend to cuddle and watch tv with. There is no one to help when one of the boys wake up with a fever. At 10:30 pm when I’ve finally gotten all of my chores done there isn’t anyone to reflect on the day with. That part I still hate.

I don’t particularly enjoy being single. I think I’m doing ok at it … Just not what I ever wanted out of life. People give me energy. Knowing that there is someone else out there invested in my kid’s happiness and sharing in the bad days is a deep comfort. When the boys do something totally silly – I laugh and take pictures, but in the depths of my heart I’m sad that there wasn’t anyone else there to enjoy the moment with me.

Part of the way I was knit together I suppose … To cherish relationships. To love people – like a real love of people. Guaranteed, if we have not met I already love you. It’s how I roll. I’ve stopped trying to fight it or to be selective of who I’d like to be around. Instead, I try to give in to God’s plan for the people in my life. Looking through glasses that remind me each person I encounter is a brilliant work of art.

It’s great to have a place I feel safe in. It’s a new feeling for me to want to stay home. I’m moving in the right direction, even if I still have no idea where I’m going!

Love, Mel

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Monday vs MONDAY

When you’re a mom there are Mondays and then there are MONDAYS! And yesterday was an all caps Monday.

Every time I turned around something I had done was undone. Logan, who usually is awesome at getting himself dressed, was either naked or wearing something different every five minutes. Weston flopped around on the ground saying he needed help. For the love of Pete just get dressed and stay dressed! No more changing your mind!

Want to know how to make my mommy horns come out? Put your feet on my walls. Drives me batty and unfortunately the kids know that. When they want to tick me off their grimy little feet go all over my walls. MONDAY was no exception. Weston laid in the hallway with his feet all over my walls.

The clock kept ticking and no one was making progress in being ready for school. I FINALLY got Logan to stop changing his clothes and got Jaden to turn the cartoons off to get his backpack put together. Weston was still flopping around on the ground in the hallway. Ok Love and Logic don’t fail me now ….

“Weston, do you want to get dressed on your own or do you need help?”

“I don’t want to get dressed.”

“Ok mommy will help you.”

Weston runs in the opposite direction. Luckily I still run faster.

“Here is your shirt!”

“Me no want that shirt!”

“Then you can pick one, but hurry up please, Jaden is going to be late for school.”

Weston puts on a shirt. Then, freaks out because the sleeves are too short and throws it off. MONDAY!!

This dance lasted for much too long. I kept looking at the clock – Jaden was going to be late for school. That’s it, I’ve had enough! I picked up Weston (who was just in his underwear) and grabbed his clothes with the other hand and walked him right out the garage door and into his car seat. Here in Wi it’s about 40-50 degrees in the morning. A tad bit chilly for just whitey tighties.

Jaden was late for school – only by a minute or two. By the time we got to day care, Weston had a change of heart and got dressed sweetly in the van. I was thankful I didn’t have to explain why I was bringing Weston to school in just Thomas the Train undies.

But trying to get out of the car was still a struggle … Logan had no shoes on. Awesome. And to top it off their backpacks weren’t in the car. Double awesome. Please tell me I’m not the only mother this has happened to?

I kissed the boys goodbye in their room only to get in the car to head right back home. 20 mins later I was at daycare for the second time with Ninja Turtle shoes for Logan and two lunch boxes. Finally mom duties were fulfilled and I was on my way to work.

Work proved to be just as exhausting. I absolutely love my job. Some days are just easier than others. I survived and even found a smile for the car ride home.

These kinds of days are unavoidable as a mother. MONDAYS are inevitable. When tough times arise it’s more about breathing and surviving. Being a parent is (in my opinion) the hardest job on earth and certainly warrants hazard pay!

But parenthood isn’t a paying job. We are compensated in hugs and kisses. In sweet little hands slipping into ours at unexpected moments. In the “I love you mommy” whispers just as our little ones are drifting off to dreamland,

I survived my MONDAY. I expect I’ll have more MONDAYS. But I survived and you will too. One foot in front of the other. Inhale then exhale. Sometimes it’s the only thing we can do to survive … Wether we are surviving a MONDAY or if you are just trying to figure out which way is up in life, Just keep breathing.

Love, Mel

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Connections

I’ve been thinking of what I wanted to write about the Briggs and Al run/walk we did last weekend in memory of Owen. The day was beautiful … Perfect really. We had a cookout in the parking lot following the walk. I was both healed by all of the orange and inspired by the Children’s Champions who walked on our team. It’s astounding what we can do when we come together.

That’s what I keep thinking … It’s amazing when we come together. Individually we are flawed, weak and limited. But together – amazing, unimaginable things happen. A friend stopped over to pick up a book for our upcoming bible study. While our kids played at our feet, we shared parts of our life stories that we don’t usually talk about. My past before I knew my ex husband, the reason why she got back together with her fiancé … We shared parts of ourselves that don’t come up in casual conversation. It was meaningful.

This moment was not planned – there was no coffee date planned to catch up on life, but rather, it just happened. I opened the door to my home, I welcomed her in and then I listened and asked questions. The rest just happened.

What encouragement I received knowing that I wasn’t the only one … I’m not the only one who is afraid, who has made bad choices, who dreams of being in love and who wants to sick it out until the end. I realized, in those moments on my stairs, sometimes that’s all we need to make it through the day – to know that we aren’t the only one. There is someone else going through the same things, feeling the same kind of pain. If they can do it, so can I.

I find rest in finding someone who understands. I find comfort in knowing I’m not the only one. We are born into community. We live together. Sometimes it’s all we got … And something’s it all we need.

Sometimes it’s terrifying to open up to someone about the hidden parts of ourselves. The fear of rejection and judgement can be padlocks on our hearts. After losing Owen, pain to me is real and it’s every day. I don’t want to say that I love to find broken people, but I’m not sure how else to say it. I feel like I can let my guard down and say, “yep, life really sucks sometimes!” Because it does! Good people get cancer, innocent children die every day. It sucks! But to be able to connect with someone, you’ve got to be able to go there. How can you connect with someone who doesn’t understand the hurtful parts of you?

I don’t want perfect people in my life, I want perfectly imperfect people. I always use the analogy of weightlifting. When trying to build muscle, you are literally tearing apart the fibers in your muscles. When they heal they are stronger than they were before. That’s why you are so sore after weightlifting. Your body needs to heal and then it’s stronger. Same is life – I get torn over and over, but each time I survive, I come out stronger than before.

Bottom line? We need each other. We need to connect and most of all we need to be kind. Treat each other with care – we are all fighting our own battles. Just because someone looks happy and strong on the outside, doesn’t mean they feel strong on the inside.

Love, Mel

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I know better

I mean well … but I know better. I know better than to open my mouth and share my opinion when it isn’t asked for. I know better than to let my own feelings get in the way of what a friend really needs.

A friend shares that she is struggling in her marriage. My heart breaks and I want to help. I remind myself to be a better listener than talker. I do so well until the very end. I couldn’t quite hold it together long enough. I asked God to give me the right words and to say the things she needs to hear. But I know, as soon as it comes out of my mouth, it was wrong. I try, but I fall short.

Another friend is struggling with her spouse and setting healthy boundaries. She knows it and I know it. She has just enough energy to get through the day, let alone address the issues in her life. So why do I continue to have the same conversation over and over? Let it go Mel … let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore – ok my kids are a little obsessed with Frozen – it’s worn off on me. But honestly, what is my problem? Zip it Mel! If you want to be there when it’s all over, don’t say so much now. She needs silent strength from the sidelines. She knows what’s going on; she’s the one fighting the battle. Of course, it’s easy to think you know how to fix things from the sidelines. The coach on the sidelines might get upset when a play doesn’t go as planned, but to the players on the field understands why. 

It’s so dang hard to watch people who have so much to offer the world, sit and accept below average circumstances. These friends are amazing – they are loving – they are caring – they are people I want to be around. So why is it that I continue to say things that aren’t helpful? I honestly just want to help. I want to light the fire in their souls so they fight for something better. I want to plant the seed of hope deep in their souls that grows into new dreams and guides them when things seem unmanageable. I want to scoop them up and love them. I want to be an answer that makes it all better.

Knowing that many in my life have watched me struggle and have felt the same about me … I know that the best way to love is to just listen. Offer thoughts only when asked. When my life was unmanageable – I knew it. I didn’t need anyone to point it out to me. The people that I clung to were those who were able to talk to me about normal stuff – who were there when I broke down and needed to unload – but were also able to carry on normal conversation. I’m only able to do it for so long … pretend the elephant isn’t in the room for only a period of time.

I know I need to cut myself a little slack. I guess I’m hard on myself because there were so many people who were wonderful to me. I want to be the same for those whom I love.

I’m the kind of friend who isn’t afraid of struggle. I’m not afraid to join you in the trenches. Life is messy – I’m alright getting a little dirty. Hell, I’m ok being covered in life mud. What I am afraid of is losing people who I love.

Dear heavenly father, guide me and teach me to love people as you did. Guard my tongue from saying things that aren’t helpful. Use me to speak your promise and to grow loving hearts. Encourage those around me to know just how much I love them. Use the love I have in my heart for your good. I pray that those I hold close know just how special and loved they really are.

Love, Mel

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The danger of dreaming

A few posts ago, I wrote about dreaming. It is a healthy thing to do … thinking about what the future could look like. It’s also a slippery slope … it becomes dangerous when your dreams begin to turn into standards. When you begin use your dreams as a pathway to control and plan the future.

I’ve always been a thinker & a planner-outer. I like to know what I”m doing each night – where I’m going to be. I tend to plan out things. (Works well in the office, but drives my family nuts!) In high school, I had a serious boyfriend – we dated for almost 6 years. During my sophomore year, we were “on a break.” I had heard that he wasn’t going to go to his homecoming dance because we were broken up … I agreed/offered (whatever you want to call 15-year-olds trying to figure out the dating world) to go with him as friends. I had little to no expectations of the evening. It ended up being the most amazing night! We danced, laughed and just enjoyed each other. That night I learned (and I”m still learning) that you can’t dream out every second of your life. You’ve got to let go and just experience the moment. When you spend all of your time dreaming about what each day might hold, you place unrealistic expectations on yourself and others.

So, how do you keep your dreams from becoming expectations? I’ll be honest … I”m really not sure. I do know that it helps not to think about something too much. When you start to think about a “what-if” more than what is actually happening … it might not be balanced. I spend so much time dreaming about what it would be like to have a man in the house, that I am missing the experience of being independent. Mystery. I am too big of a control freak to just let the mystery happen. God says, “Close your eyes and just experience the ride, trusting in Me as life whips around each corner.” I’m so busy trying to see the tracks, that I forget I’m not the one steering the car. Each time I try to plan out what is ahead, I ruin the surprise.

The ironic part? I love surprises! Want to show me how much you love me? Plan a little surprise. That’s how Doug caught my eye when we were dating off and on. He went to great lengths to surprise me on my birthday. He baked his first ever cake (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting). Then, he had the receptionist call my desk to let me know there was a package I needed to sign for at the front desk. As I rounded the last flight of stairs, there he was, standing with his 9×13 chocolate cake. I knew that birthdays weren’t big to him, but he knew they were big to me. We found a table in the cafeteria and shared a piece of cake and a little time together. It was simple – doesn’t take very much – but it was a surprise. Magic.

The cake was magic because I didn’t expect it. When I start to dream about every moment, it ruins the magic. It eliminates the possibility of  being swept off of my feet. Ha! And that’s what I dream about most of the time … being swept off of my feet. How is someone going to surprise me if I”m busy thinking of all the romantic ways someone could enter my life?

Turn off your brain Mel … stop thinking! Just focus on what is in front of you. Put on your cement boots and stay grounded. Stop focusing on what you could have and love what you do have.

Dreaming is good – it keeps fresh air in the room. When life gets tough, it keeps you focused on tomorrow. Dream on friends … the sky is the limit! If you’re like me … just be careful and don’t let your dreams become expectations. Turn off those over thinking brains and let yourself be surprised. I can type out the words, but it’s a lot hard to do than type. Maybe we can work turning our brains off together?

Love, Mel

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I heard angels sing

This week has been a little on the crazy side. The church that I work for has been hosting a children’s choir from Africa. That translates to an extra 22 children (ages 5-11) and 9 adults in the building. There has been a buzz in the hallways, angels singing from the Sunday School wing, running, laughing, soccer being played in the front yard. There is energy in the building. These children hug everyone they meet. They call me auntie. They are obedient and silly. They are just lovely.

I watched them for a while during their dress rehearsal. The beat of the drums and the energy was enchanting. They had moooooves! The six year old could move her hips better than this mama of four!

This afternoon, someone asked me more about the choir … so I pulled up asantechoir.org and started reading. Every single one of these children is an orphan. They have no parents, no family – no one. Yet I had no idea by spending the past few days with them. Not one of them looked sad or lonely. They just love Jesus. They have innocence in their eyes. Reading their story moved something within me. It made me realize that their happiness wasn’t because of their innocence … it was because of the love of Christ. The love from other Christ followers that have given them hope again. They felt rescued and loved.

Puts things into perspective. When I don’t like the food I have in my refrigerator. They are just happy to have food on a plate. I’m irritated because it was too hot to sleep well the night before. They are thankful to have a bed to sleep in. I struggle to find enough time to fit in both family and friends. They have no one but each other. Incredible how quickly you can be knocked into a new perspective.

When I watched them again, tears just rolled. Watching each of their smiles. Watching their beautiful costumes and their vibrant colors under the lights. Then picturing them in their home towns … living on the streets, torn clothing, bare boned, no parents, no job … nothing. Yet they were jumping and clapping and signing about God’s love. You can’t manufacture those kinds of things.

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The concert ended with a young boy, about 7, belting out “I’m Trading My Sorrows.” The choir jumping, clapping, arms flying and faces smiling behind him. Those smiles. Those loving eyes have seen such great despair. Those tummies have felt such extreme hunger. And here they are living care free.

I don’t think that they were so lighthearted because they were rescued. See, when I pictured them in the streets of their hometown, I still see those same eyes. I see the same Jesus-loving hearts. They are lighthearted because they follow a good God. They sing about an all loving, all powerful God. He’s the skip in their walk and the twinkle in their eyes.

Such beauty in such young people.

I’m so incredibly thankful that God brought the Asante choir to our middle to upper class, mainly Caucasian congregation. I’m blessed to have been moved by the beat of the drums to have danced to the songs of angels. I’m telling you … they are angels walking on earth. It’s all perspective. And it’s all about the big guy upstairs.

Love, Mel

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