“Really GOD? I can’t do that it’s crazy!”

“He’ll never change,” the lady told me.  “I’ve known him for over 20 years, he is what he is.  He will just break your heart,” she added.  “He will always be a drunk,” my loved one said.  I felt defensive, ashamed.  I started keeping the sordid details of my life to myself even amidst the turmoil in my heart.  What had been an exciting, three month courtship now resulted in a young twenty-two year old disillusioned bride.

I fell hard for this man. He was unlike any I had dated before.  Worldly, successful, funny and 15 years my senior. I felt safe with him, and there was no doubt I loved him.  My friends gossiped and marveled I fell for an older man. My family just about disowned me and did their best to intervene, yet something deep inside made me determined to marry him.

We were married 2 months when I found out I was pregnant.  This was the only child we had planned to have. Three months in I realized what appeared to be social drinking was really an alcohol addiction.  Confrontations led to dismal fights which led to declarations of cutting back or doing better.  We existed in a realm of illusory, he knew I wasn’t happy yet he tried. 

The drinking fractured our family time, our relationship, our outlook.  I started thinking about leaving, my adorable toddler gave me strength to insist we deserved better.  Then I found out I was pregnant, again.  I decided to keep trying but I had to have help.

I went to church but it wasn’t the right fit, I was gossip to those who knew me. It was hard getting myself together with a toddler in tow, to show up and make an appearance with a big smile on my face.  I didn’t see other wives hitting the altar because their husbands had issues.  Yet I had this overwhelming feeling I needed to be in church. 

The addiction continued to take its toll on our family.  In a drunken, angry state my husband quit a job providing a six figure income.  In the 80’s, this was a substantial salary.  Within months we found ourselves losing everything.  He agreed to rehab only after he came face to face with financial ruin. Soon he was offered a job in Louisiana.  It was a new start in a new place. 

He went ahead to find us a place to live.  Weeks later I came with our babies.  We were barely settled into our new home when I realized he was drinking again. I was heart broken, hopeless. 

GOD provided a Christian family next door.  I went to church with them, I felt GOD’S presence.  I saw hurting people on the altar, I let my guard down and shared my painful secret.  They prayed and taught me to pray for GOD’S will.  They shared with me it was GOD’S will for my husband to be a born again Christian and to be set free of his addiction.  I had hope.

We were in Louisiana just less than a year when the job was over.  The owner was selling out.  We were going back to Tennessee.   I was considering going my separate way when we returned home.  It would be an easy transition during the move. In the process of packing, I found out I was pregnant with our third child.  Yea….GOD has a sense of humor. I stayed.

The struggle continued to be heart wrenching, the finances were tight.  My first born was pretty sharp and soon picked up on daddy coming home drunk.  Thank GOD he wasn’t a mean drunk but a sloppy, affectionate, sentimental drunk. My feeble heart literally ached because my child could see the difference in a drunk daddy.

I remember crying out to GOD…..”I don’t know what to do, you have got to help me GOD.”  Our third baby was born and amazingly GOD led me to a new friend named Debby.  A vivacious, GOD fearing, spit fire full of faith.  What a friend.  She led me to a church with a pastor named Jerry.  An evangelistic, friendly, soul winner man of GOD. What a pastor. Jerry shepherded a loving, non-judging church family with real problems too. What a church. 

I started praying one night a week with Debby and another friend.  I learned to pray specific, I remembered the precious family from Louisiana who taught me it was GOD’S will for all to find salvation.  I believed and claimed this promise for my husband.  

We prayed it would rain on Sunday’s so he couldn’t golf and maybe go to church with me.  We prayed he would get hangovers….something he never did.  We prayed GOD would wrap his spirit so tight around my husband’s heart he would suffocate in conviction.  It rained 6 weeks in a roll and he attended church some.  He started puking his guts out after he drank and I so enjoyed listening to his gut wrenching bathroom sessions. I specifically remember thanking GOD for hangovers.

One night he sat down and watched a Billy Graham crusade on television.  I sat next to him on the couch as tears streamed down his face and he wiped them with his hand.  For 7 months, we prayed, we prayed specific, we prayed expectantly, we prayed in faith. 

Three days after we watched the crusade on television he was in his favorite local pub with all his golf buddies. It was a Sunday evening and my babies were loaded in their car seats as we headed to church.  The pub was on the way….GOD spoke clearly and said….”Stop and send Matthew in.”

“Send my baby in a bar Lord?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from GOD.  I literally sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes wrestling with whether to send my three and a half year old into a bar. Finally with a heavy heart, I stood at the door as my baby went in and asked his daddy to go to church with us. 

We settled into our seats near the front, liquor on his breath.  He wasn’t drunk but he had knocked down a few.  I remember thinking, I hope no one smells the alcohol on his breath.  The pastor brought a powerful salvation message directed at my husband.  I knew he was under conviction when the invitation started.  I looked at his knuckles white from griping the pew so tight.

The pastor offered one more verse, I was about to give up.  Then all of a sudden he turned to me and said, “I’ve got to go Mel, he’s calling me.”  He shot out into the aisle and hit the altar.  The pastor went and counseled him.  I waited and prayed but made it to the altar just in time to hear him pray the sinner’s prayer.

I remember my husband holding me on the altar after he asked Christ into his heart.  I remember the taste of my salty tears as we embraced each other for what seemed like forever.  I cried into his chest, he cried on my shoulder.  The entire church was rejoicing and praising GOD.  

GOD was so faithful to my family that precious night.  I relive it often.  He has brought us so far, replenished us financially, restored relationships, restored hope.  What the devil took….GOD replaced.

We will be married 30 years in January 2015.  He has been sober since giving his heart to JESUS on March 17th, 1990.  What rehab and a devoted, young bride’s love couldn’t do…GOD did. 

I have often thought about what would have happened had I not sent my innocent little boy into the pub that night? Crazy isn’t it?  GOD told me to send my baby into a bar?  I still scratch my head about doing so and I have never shared this detail of our story till now. 

We’ve read countless stories of GOD telling our bible heroes to do crazy things haven’t we?  So it stands to reason….why would he not tell us to do crazy things too?  Remember the leper, Naaman? Elisha told him through a servant, go wash in the muddy Jordan seven times and you will be clean. Naaman was angry Elisha did not come out to meet him and call on the Lord. He questioned the choice of waters stating there were cleaner rivers around. He went away in rage. If not for his servants convincing him to go to the Jordan and obey Elisha’s directives, Naaman would not have been healed. (2 Kings 5)

Its a beautiful story of stubborn obedience, similar to mine. I have learned through my 49 plus years, GOD’S ways are certainly not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8) He doesn’t do things the way my flawed mindset would do them.

If I had been the one who went into the pub that spring night in 1990, I don’t know if my husband would have responded with a yes. It probably would have angered him I showed up….especially in front of his buddies. The little wife had come to fetch her husband could have been his embarrassment….but seeing those sweet, little, expressive eyes with arms reaching up…speaking a tender, innocent plea…. I believe GOD used our baby to move my husband.

This reminds me of the scripture in Corinthians….

“But GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

We don’t have a clue what GOD wants to use in our lives to bring him glory. Our ways are not HIS ways and HIS infinite wisdom will never be matched. It could be foolish things, the weak, it could be sickness, an addiction, a baby in a bar….but whatever he chooses to use…. we have got to be willing to do the things not making sense…. the crazy things…. if he asks us to.
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“Choose to Endure! Overcoming Discouragement and disappointments in the game of Life”

Is there a recurring problem in your life continually discouraging you?  Is it a relationship? A job?  An inconsolable grief?  Your marriage?  A financial concern? A child? Is it sin you can’t seem to overcome? Are you drowning in the consequences of sin?

Discouragement is a key emotion Satan pulls from his bag of tricks.  I know the feeling of discouragement oh so well.  I grabbed the dangling, tainted carrot as recently as yesterday and found myself flat on my back.

Satan uses discouragement to isolate us from GOD.

A recurring discouragement for me of late is health issues.  I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish this weekend and nothing has been done.   I had errands I needed to accomplish but I didn’t feel like getting out….I even turned down a shopping trip with my sister….all because physically I didn’t have the stamina to go the distance. I thought I can at least work on a couple of writing projects….but my eyes were so blurry it hurt to even wear my glasses.  Nothing has been completed as per my expectations; therefore, it didn’t take long for me to get down in the dumps over my health.

So life happens…..it doesn’t go as we plan……and then………disappointment settles in our heart.

This isn’t where we thought we would be at this point in our lives right?

Why did this have to happen and change the course of my life?

The “what ifs and if onlys” bring no comfort as many of us can’t go back and change things…..we are stuck with a new path to navigate.

This perpetual state of discouragement is exactly where Satan wants us to live.

When he keeps us discouraged….he keeps us defeated…..hopeless….almost lonely in our state of misery.  We think no one could possibly understand how we feel….how we hurt….what we face everyday?

Some days it feels like we are just going through the motions….existing in a place where life may go on around us but we’re still stumbling around on the original path where it seems we lost it all.

Life is just plain hard isn’t it?

In all my physical misery yesterday…..I couldn’t focus.  I didn’t feel like doing anything….so nothing got accomplished and I ended up with a bigger to do list…..I ended up discouraged….thinking my health is slipping away from me.

Stealing our focus from GOD is what the Devil works so hard to do in our lives.

He will throw everything in our path until he hits us with the one thing ….that’s going to change it all.

How do we look up…when everything changes?  When we lose the job?  When we lose our health?  When we lose the loved one? When we lose it all?

How do we look up?

How do we keep going?

The bible tells us JESUS was a man of many sorrows….HE experienced our hurts….our fleshly feelings….our disappointments.

In my silly moment of doubt I asked…..how could HE have felt it all?  How could HE understand the utter feeling of deep despair where we feel we are loosing something precious or we’ve already lost it?

I’m ashamed of myself for asking questions like these…but I am so human…and GOD knows this of course.  So once again HE lavished HIS infinite mercy upon the silly child I am…. even with endless questions I have just like a three-year old…HE spoke very clear to me this morning.

When JESUS was hanging on the cross for our sin…HE cried out to GOD….HIS FATHER….

“My GOD, my GOD….why hast thou forsaken me?”   Mark 15:34

I can’t imagine the feeling of being abandoned while dying….can you?

Yet JESUS experienced the ultimate loss.

JESUS was separated from HIS father’s presence…as HE died…hanging by flesh torn hands….in unimaginable agony.

GOD turned HIS back on HIS only son.

JESUS was alone….utterly and completely alone……with all the sins of the world….yours and mine….ravaging HIS body with every drop of redeeming blood….. hitting the ground.

GOD smacked me on the head this morning….you silly child…..JESUS knows exactly how you feel…when your hurting….when you have lost your health….a child…..a job….a home…..a marriage.

HE knows all too well the feeling of loss.

You see the Devil wants us to doubt JESUS….so he sends us the life hurts that diminish our faith and throws us into a spiral of defeat….disappointment…..discouragement.

Satan wants to separate us from JESUS….just like the sins JESUS bore for you and me separated HIM from HIS father.

I now have no doubt……our SAVIOUR truly felt the loss of everything….and I feel comfort from this truth.

It’s in the times we are hurting the most ….we have got to cry out to JESUS….help me JESUS….HELP ME!  I don’t know what to pray or how to pray ……I don’t know what to say…..I don’t know how to go on….I don’t know how to live in this new place I find myself in? HELP ME JESUS, HELP ME PLEASE!!!

I have been so broken before, I didn’t have a clue what to pray or ask GOD to do in my life.

The bible says the HOLY SPIRIT will intercede on our behalf.

“In the same way, the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the SPIRIT himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.”  Romans 8:26

“Inexpressible groanings”……WOW!!  Words that can’t express the pain of HIS heart….that’s how much HE cares.

Friend you may feel distant from GOD because HE allowed a great loss to come into your life.  Don’t let Satan fool you…make you think GOD doesn’t care…or even worse….GOD is mean.

Cry out to GOD and ask HIM to help you put your eyes back on HIM when you stumble into discouragement.

Don’t let Satan keep you defeated…..don’t let him steal your purpose in life…..don’t let him make you bitter and feel distant from GOD. 

Chose to endure your trials…..your grief…..your disappointments….chose to lean on JESUS.

We will never understand in this life why we are dealt the cards we have to play with…..but we have to keep our eyes on the game (GOD’S purpose for our life)….and the game maker (our GOD) ….and in the end….. we will win!

“Behold we count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of job and have seen the outcome of the LORD’S dealings, that the LORD is full of compassion and is merciful.” James 5:11

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the LORD has promised to those who love HIM.”  James 1:12

Hang on friend….hang on….

“Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

Cling to the hope of our future with JESUS…. and the promise that he is always with us….even in our sorrows!

Hang on friend…..JOY IS COMING so CHOOSE TO ENDURE!!!!

choose to endure

 

 

 

 

“A big blow up over Smurfette’s passing” Its a true story….I can’t make this stuff up!

I mean no disrespect by my post today.  If you are a parent of boys you will appreciate and understand our method of mourning the late Smurfette. I had sent out the text of Smurfette’s passing in a group text to my sons, nephews and the rest of the family.  We were about to have some fun as we do so often in group texts. “Sad day….Lucille Bliss has passed away” my text read.  “She touched all of our childhoods in a very special way.”

The first reply was from my level headed, middle child, Aaron,….yea…the middle child….usually the child most easy going…yet he wanted to squelch the fun.  “Lucille Bliss the voice actor?” he asked.  “Yes son, Lucille was the beloved Smurfette,” I said.  “Smurf in peace,” my nephew Andy texted immediately. “She died last week mom,” Aaron replied.  I texted back….”You’re a wise guy Aaron, and thank you Andy for your smurf respect.  “Its a smurfing shame,” Andy shot back with speedy text agility. “You obviously understand the dept of loss we have here son unlike Aaron,” I replied to Andy.

“My phone is beeping like the roadrunner, did one of the smurfs die?” asked my husband.  My sister being the funeral home professional she is replied, “Wonder what funeral home she will be at?”  I’m pulling my truck over to have a moment of silence,” Andy replied.  Another said, “She was also in Cinderella and the Flintstones….among other things…and I do care, this makes me totally blue!”

The message was followed by Andy’s question, “Did she go peacefully or did Gargomell’s cat finally catch her?” One pledged to wear blue for the next two weeks in her honor. Andy texted he would be dropping off Kentucky Fried Chicken at Papa Smurf’s on his way home from work.

I could go on and on at the replies and gestures my group text had inspired but frankly it would take a while.  This group discussion of mourning Smurfette continued for hours throughout the day.  It was great fun needless to say.

With each new quip of humor or sarcasm we all got a good chuckle….until my phone rang and I answered it thinking it was my brother-in-law.  It was not.  On the other end of the phone was an old man not the least bit moved by Smurfette’s passing…. nor was he amused at our display of grief over his phone texts.  I accidentally keyed in one wrong digit resulting in adding the old man to the conversation instead of my brother-in-law.

Ooops… he was not a happy camper and wanted to know how old I was.  He was appalled adults could text such stupidity…and amazed so many were involved.  He thought we were a bunch of kids but when he found out we weren’t, his attitude soured even more.  “Do you work lady?” he asked me.  “Yes sir, I have been working all day,” I answered him.  “Well how did you get anything done with all that nonsense going on?” he asked.

Now at this point I was starting to get offended.  It was none of his business how or if I worked, how old I was or my work ethics….and if he was so annoyed why did he entertain it for over 8 hours?  Why didn’t he pick up the phone and call me the first hour or the second?

While we all thought the stream of texts were hilarious he was offended we had wasted his time and bothered him all day.   Not only was he clearly annoyed, hateful and rude but he was also void of any sense of humor.  I mean who couldn’t get a laugh out of  “smurf in peace” or “I’m totally blue.”

I started feeling a little annoyed.  Life is hard, sometimes boring and when you can get some cheap thrills from the Smurfs….well I don’t see why you can’t indulge a little for heaven’s sake!

I wanted to call the old man a party pooper or goober head….. and hang up…..but I refrained.  I heard that voice in my head ….”What if you were in his shoes Mel?”  Well if I was in his shoes I probably would have joined in….but no….he was having no part of it.  He let me have it and I was tempted to let him have it back…….until the HOLY SPIRIT reminded me of a shameful situation from long ago ….so I held my tongue.

I apologized for aggravating him and assured him it would never happen again….of which he then informed me it had happened several times.  He relayed to me stupid pictures, stories and comments I have passed back and forth to my crew over a period of about a year.

I was a little embarrassed by this revelation…..Oh dear….he was also privy to certain intimate conversations about things only my family knew about….even prayer requests I had shared.

Suddenly I felt a little violated….like he had been stalking me for months.  It was kind of a creepy feeling. Oy vey.

I managed to regain my composure after I picked my jaw up off the desk….and again I apologized to him for bothering him with months of my foolishness. To say I was embarrassed is an understatement.

How about you?  Have you ever been made aware of something you did or said that offended or annoyed someone? If so….how did you respond?

Thankfully I responded in humility to the old man. I was embarrassed to the point of being humiliated.  I kept saying….. I’m sorry sir……it won’t happen again sir…..we were just having some clean, innocent fun sir…..but I can’t say I have responded CHRISTLIKE in other situations.

In the heat of attack its so easy to respond defensively.  I’m ashamed to say I remember a specific time I catapulted the blame back, trying to pin fought on the other as well.  I engaged in the blame game resulting in verbal warfare….all because I did not respond in the right manner. I literally felt like a failure in the days to follow.

I grieved every word I hurled at the other party.

I am supposed to be a long suffering Christian full of love….how did I bark back like that?

Every action results in a reaction….with each blow the situation can get uglier and uglier….and destroy our testimony.

There is no going back when a spray of ugly words collide with the human heart.  The mind doesn’t easily forget while the heart deals with the damage.

Words matter.

Its a horrible feeling when hurtful words are set in stone.

If only we could go back….we would have handled it different right?

Words matter…..reactions matter…..being CHRISTLIKE in all conflict matters.

The Bible has much to say about the tongue, the temper and the wrong way to handle conflict.

“Do not let your speech cause you to sin.”   Ecclesiastes 5:6

“A fool always looses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.”    Proverbs 29:11

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.”  Proverbs 21:23

But its the scripture in Matthew 12 that makes my heart hurt…..

“And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement.  For by your words, you shall be justified, and by your words, you shall be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37

How many of my words justify me?

How many condemn me?

Oh goodness….what a heavy thought to bear.

If GOD’S GRACE didn’t cover me….I’d come undone.

Did the old man over react? Probably.  Did I deserve his berating, verbal rampage? Obviously he thought so. Did I respond in a way that was pleasing to the LORD?  I think I did this time….but only because I remembered condemning words from my past.

I was so relieved to delete the old man’s phone number …..but even more relieved there were no condemning words I couldn’t delete from my memory.

Oh GOD….make me quick to hear…..slow to speak….and slow to anger….so that I may be right with you.      James 1:19-20

RIP SMURFETTE

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“Hard Lessons of Motherhood”

Hey moms……did the precious child you carried for 9 hard months post his or her undying love and adoration on social media for you this mother’s day? Yes? No?  My daughter in law posted a precious message….. girls tend to think of these things first and I am grateful to finally have a thoughtful female in my brood; however, it was my middle son that made me burst out laughing with his twitter message of mommy gratitude.

“Happy Mother’s day to @MelMel27.  Only woman in the world capable of what she puts up with.”

While raising 3 boys has subjected me to many happy, mommy moments, lets just be honest….I have put up with quite a bit through the years…and it seems some days it is still ongoing.  Aaron’s post got me to thinking of not so happy times when I’ve been sure my boy’s were going to be the death of me.

To sit here and pretend we have the perfect family life with the perfect kids who have made the the perfect choices in their lives would be fake.  I’m getting too old and impatient to carry on a ruse as such, besides….I can’t fool GOD can I? None of us can….he knows what we hide and how we tend to share only the perfect parts of our life.  I’m too exhausted to sprinkle my social media pages with rainbows and choice tidbits of perfection.

Raising 3 boys has made me keenly aware of failure, sin and humility.  When they fail….I take it personal….but the fact is….my kid’s are sinners just like their mom and dad.  If being a parent don’t make you humble….I don’t know what will.

There are many victories on the long road of motherhood….but the truth is…..there are sad times, hard times, confusing times and times you just want to smack their little faces.

As I watch my boys in hairy, men bodies become adults, I am learning to resist intervening in their decisions, choices and mistakes.  My husband and I will give GODLY guidance if they ask or not, but  if we run interference….we may be hampering GOD’S will for their lives.  Our job is not to go behind them and fix it anymore….sometimes we can’t….therefore we have to let them walk through the fire.

Undoubtedly our kids are going to hurt, suffer and wrestle through the carnage of the effects…..the pain will be real….the lessons hard.  Our hearts may break while standing on the sidelines watching….but don’t just stand and watch…..fall to your knees and intercede on their behalf to GOD.

C.S. Lewis has a great quote about pain….

“GOD whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but SHOUTS in our pain; it is HIS megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Pain has a way of teaching lessons even an loving parent can’t articulate…..and lets be honest…they probably won’t listen.  GOD will use the pain in our kids lives to grow them…..guide them…..draw them to HIM…..and a funny thing happens in the process….HE draws mom and dad too.

Everything GOD allows us to go through in life is designed to make us more holy….more like JESUS.

To interfere when we shouldn’t can stunt our kids spiritual growth. While we want to spare them of pain….the truth is…..pain is what molds their character. This is an important lesson no matter how old your kids are.  There is going to be only one winner at the spelling bee…..only a chosen talented few will make the cheer squad or basketball team….he or she is not always going to get the job they want or even their dream girl or guy.

Life is not fair and there are going to be cheaters, bullies, prejudices, brown nosers and some people who will use them. There will be failures, irresponsible decisions, immaturity and sin with consequences along the way.

If this mother’s day has left you with less than warm and fuzzy feelings due to a child’s bad choice….or if you have a heavy heart because you child is in the midst of pain….. or possible danger……take courage!  Think of your big or little kid as an acorn….growing into an oak of righteousness.

So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that HE may be glorified.”                 Isaiah 61:3

Pray moms….pray….this is the most important thing we will ever do for our children since giving them life. Pray for their spiritual growth…and understanding in the midst of pain.

Resist the urge to fix things in their lives…..instead…pray….and seek GOD to be the ultimate fixer….and restorer.

Oh GOD….grow our kids….big and little….to be GODLY men and women.

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