I’m On Your Side. Whatever Side You Land On.

Maybe I’m just old and tired.

Maybe it’s grief brain or my autoimmune disease or some other biological issue of which I’m ignorant.

But I just don’t have the energy to be on guard, to defend my “territory”, to argue with everyone who might hold a different opinion or who might be experiencing life from a different perspective.

Oh, I still HAVE opinions. And I share them with family and close friends in places and spaces where we can see one another’s faces, expressions and hear the intonation in our voices.

But I refuse to debate the cause du jour on social media in hopes of raising a ruckus or getting “likes” or “shares” to feed my ego and feed the frenzy.

It seems to me the world needs more grace and less growling.

Give The Gift Of Grace Today | Nicki Schroeder

So let me just be plain: I’m on your side.

Whatever side you land on.

The Veronicas - On Your Side - UKMIX Forums

Masks or no masks. Sending your kids to school or keeping them home. Staying in as much as possible or going out among the people.

Each of us has our own concerns, convictions and must follow our own conscious. I’m not judging.

Be as careful as you can be and be willing to accept the consequences of your choices.

You’ll be my friend either way. 

Contour Lines Of God’s Grace

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

~Julian of Norwich

Truth is this life is not easy.

There is joy. 

Absolutely amazing awe-inspiring, breath-taking joy.

But there is also suffering.

Read the rest here: On Suffering and Redemption

Feel Like You Don’t Measure Up? Be Gentle On Yourself.

It’s been years (decades?) since I watched much, if any, commercial television.

I do get those annoying pop-up ads from time to time when I visit websites and, of course, Facebook loves to “suggest” products I “need” in my timeline.

But I’m really not exposed to a lot of advertising or images that scream, “You are not enough!”.

When You Don't Feel Like You Measure Up - Beyond Sunday Mornings

Even so, that’s often the way I feel.

Somehow I’ve swallowed the lie that the only way I can be worthy of love and even breath is to be “all that I can be”-whatever THAT means. I need to have the right exercise regimen, the cleanest home, the healthiest food, a morning quiet time with my Bible and praise music, the perfect filing system for all the random papers I have stuffed in boxes, a tidy closet, and a day filled with meaningful activity that produces either income or social change.

All this time stuck at home has served to point out the many ways I fall short of those standards.

Steve Furtick Quote (With images) | Steve furtick quotes, Lovely ...

We’ve lived in this house for twenty-two years which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. It’s filled to the brim with memories and stuff and dusty corners where the furniture hasn’t been moved since we got here.

The kids were six through twelve the day we bought the place.

There’s been a lot of activity and growing within these walls and frankly, you can tell.

I need to paint but the idea of wiping off the last little marks of Dominic and his siblings made when they were all here and happy is overwhelming. I need to rearrange the things in what was once his room and make it more useful for when the kids come home to visit but that means I have to go through some drawers and stuff that haven’t been touched since he touched them and I’m not ready.

That’s just two of probably one hundred (literally!) things I could or should do.

What I’ve been doing instead is living through what I call my Season of Sorrow which runs from March through the end of May every year-all the “lasts” (last time I saw him, last time I hugged him) and all the “firsts” (the day he left for Heaven, his funeral) and ends with his birthday on May twenty-eighth.

I’ve learned that I’m no good at starting projects this time of year.

I’m doomed to leave them unfinished which becomes its own kind of condemnation.

But I still feel like I SHOULD be doing them.

Cloud Performance: Some Cloud Platforms Simply Don't Measure Up

I need to be gentle on myself.

That list of things to do is always going to be long. If I worked every day, all day for the rest of my life there would be things left unfinished.

I need to remember that how I loved and who I loved is the measure that really counts.

The most important things in life are not things" Quote

Extending And Receiving Grace

There is so much going on right now in our country and our world that hurts my heart.

I could get on my soapbox and pontificate about what policies should be or what politicians should do but my tiny voice wouldn’t make a difference on the grander stage.

My world is pretty small in comparison to social influencers and the ones who want to be.

BBC Radio - The English We Speak, It's a small world

Even still, what I do and what I say each day matters.

It matters to my family and my neighbors.

It matters to the folks with whom I share social media space, the road and the grocery aisle.

So I make it a habit to extend and receive grace.

I extend it when someone else’s experience informs an opinion different than my own. I extend it when someone posts a meme or article with which I disagree. I extend it when I scroll past what I consider offensive-just ignore it and go on-instead of “taking them to task”.

I receive it when my friends do the same.

Nifty Interweb Treasures: Just keep scrolling – [insertniftyphrase]

It’s not my job to police everyone else on the planet.

It IS my job to live according to my profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

Grace-unmerited favor-poured out abundantly on me and available for me to pour out on others.

I can do that.

When Giving Grace Feels Hard

Daily Bread: His Provision Is Sufficient

If I had my way I’d store up grace like green beans-stacking one can atop the other “just in case”.

Then I could decide if and when to open it up and pour it out.

But grace isn’t like that. It’s a perishable though infinite commodity-like manna.

Just Enough Grace — ASK Apparel LLC

When God led the Israelites into the desert, He promised to feed, nurture and sustain them.

Daily bread rained down from Heaven every morning-enough and more than enough-for their needs. But He warned them not to gather more than they could use THAT day.

He promised there would be another bountiful plenty the next morning.

Manna and the land: God's methods of miraculous provision – Acton ...

Faced with the choice to trust God or trust themselves, some tried to hoard this gift and guarantee (so they thought!) tomorrow’s bounty. It turned to maggoty mush by the next morning.

God was making a point.

He wanted His people to know that He was the Source of their provision. He wanted His people to learn that His faithful love endures forever and shows up every morning.

Many of us grew up reciting this blessing without understanding the deep truth hidden inside:

God is great,

God is good,

Let us thank Him for our food.

By His hand we all are fed,

Thank You, Lord, for daily bread.

Children’s Blessing

Few of us live on daily bread anymore.

Most have pantries and refrigerators and freezers full of food. It’s hard to hearken back to a time when the penny you earned for working a field was the penny you used to purchase that day’s meal.

So, in some ways, the idea of having only enough and no more is both foreign and frightening.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

But my Father wants me to trust Him, to lean on Him, to wake looking for His face and reaching for His provision.

Like manna in the desert, if I try to gather more grace than I need it rots before I can use it.

God greets me each morning with the grace I need for that day-no more, no less. It is always enough for the work I must do and the challenges I must face.

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He nurtures and sustains me.

His daily grace is sufficient.

I can rest in His bountiful provision without fear for tomorrow because His faithful love endures forever.

Holiday Hangover

Sometimes the day or the week after a holiday seems extra hard.

Deflated. Exhausted. Weepy. Irritable. Discontented.

All words that can describe a heart once the dishes are washed and the celebration ended.

Some of y’all probably woke up thinking, “I did pretty good on Mother’s Day” only to be blindsided by the tears you managed to hide and the grief you managed to stuff.

That’s OK. It happens.

If you are struggling to open your eyes to a new day or face this week, I want to pray for you-I want to pray for us:

Father God,

You have made me and I am yours.

Sometimes I don’t feel You but I trust You haven’t abandoned me. You care for me with the tender heart of a mother for her children so I know you are here. You are a good, good Father and Your loving kindness is eternal.

My heart wants to run and hide.

I’m tired.

Tired of carrying this load, tired of pretending it’s not all that heavy, tired of trying to put the scattered pieces of a broken life back together.

Help me.

Help me lean into the truth that I don’t have to do any of that alone. Help me let go of the things I have no control over and to place them into your hands. Help me adjust my expectations and my attitude.

Give me sufficient grace for this moment, this hour, this day. Pour your love into my spirit and strengthen me with your courage. Make me brave. Be my Light and my Life.

Amen

It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to take the mask off and let the feelings fall.

You’re not alone. 

How I Long To Just Be Me!

I first shared this post two years ago when I was approaching the four year milestone of Dominic’s leaving for Heaven.

By that time most folks who knew me when he died had relegated that part of my story to some ancient past that surely I was over by now. I’d met others who had no clue my heart skipped a beat on a regular basis because one of my children was buried.

And even the closest ones-the ones I thought would understand forever-were sometimes impatient with my ongoing refusal to leave Dominic behind and be “healed” of my grief.

What I long for more than anything as the sixth anniversary of his departure draws near is simply this: Let me be me, whatever that looks like.

Don’t try to fit my journey into your mold.

Melanie ❤

Even in the very first hours after the news, my brain began instructing my heart, “Now, try to be brave.  Try not to disappoint people.  Try to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the example you should be.”

Whatever that meant.

As I made phone calls and received concerned friends and family members I was so aware that they would take a cue from me-how much can I say, how hard can I cry, should I hug or stand back, should I talk about him or be silent lest it make the tears fall harder?

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/01/26/can-i-just-be-me/

Sorrow Will Not Have The Last Word

If you find your heart limping through Scripture instead of gaining strength, may I suggest you try a different Bible translation for a bit? Sometimes familiar words-even the words of God or His prophets-just fall flat.

I can read them and not digest them at all.

So lately I’ve been reading and copying from the VOICE translation and it has helped me see old passages in a new light.

Here’s one of them. I think those of us walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death have a lot in common with Jeremiah.

I love to read familiar verses in different translations or paraphrases.

It helps my heart hear what I might otherwise miss because familiarity DOES breed a form a contempt even when considering the Word of God.

Recently, on my way through verses on HOPE I copied out Lamentations 3: 19-26.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/20/new-mercies/

February 2020 Retreat For Bereaved Moms

Retreats are not for everyone.

In fact, I’ve never been the retreat kind of gal myself.

But I’ve changed my mind about one very different type of retreat that has both encouraged my heart and led to deep and lasting friendships with other women who know the pain of child loss.

Since February, 2018 I’ve had the privilege to be part of two unique, intimate and life-giving retreats for bereaved moms.

This February (21-23) will be the third.

This time we are focusing on God’s promises to redeem our pain, to restore our hearts and to weave the broken threads of our lives into a beautiful tapestry that testifies to hope, grace and the faithful love of our faithful Father.

He binds their wounds, heals the sorrows of their hearts.

Psalm 147:2 VOICE

Hope Lee, a fellow mom-in-loss, provides the wonderful facility (a cozy but spacious camp house in the Mississippi countryside) and I facilitate interactive sessions filled with Bible study, sharing and encouragement.

There is plenty of time to just visit, lots of great food and we usually do a fun craft or other slightly zany activity.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet other moms whose experience may help you in your journey.  It will definitely be a safe space to let your hair down and take your mask off. 

I have left each weekend with renewed energy, hope and courage for this often tiresome and lonely road.

Depending where you are in this journey the thought of a weekend away with other bereaved moms may be either terrifying or exciting.

But may I encourage you-whether terrified or excited-to listen to the Spirit?  If He is pushing you to step out in faith, do it.

I promise you won’t regret it!  

Spaces are limited so call or text Hope at 662-574-8445 today and reserve your spot.

“Is God Punishing Me?”

I’ve heard it from more than one bereaved parent.  

I’ve thought it myself.  

“Is God punishing me?”  

Have I done something so terrible that it falls outside the grace and mercy of the God Who sent His Son and so I must pay for it with my own child?

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/15/is-god-punishing-me/