Life on the farm

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Just before Christmas my mother-in-law was in a single car accident. Thankfully she survived, but as a result has some partial paralysis in her arms. Chuck, Hila Fay, and I have temporarily moved in with her until we can get a double-wide moved to the farm.

When you arrive at the farm it is almost as if you’ve stepped back in time. The meals are all homemade and ate together with the family all piled up around the solid wood kitchen table. The only internet access is what we get on our phones and the TV is a mere decoration. When there’s a big job to do it’s “all hands on deck”. Everyone pitches in all the while laughing and joking around.

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Our evenings are spent sitting in the living room sharing personal (most of the time humorous) stories, visiting, and playing games (charades is a favorite). I have found that many of the modern day appliances, knick-knacks, & gadgets that I thought I HAD to have are not even missed. What really surprised me, though, was how well Hila Fay adjusted. Instead of whining for a movie or fussing because she can’t play on abcmouse.com, she plays outside, creates amazing crafts (I’m not biased at all), and performs musical numbers to entertain us.

The whole situating reminds me just how much God loves us. He has taken a heart-wrenching situating and used it to teach me innumerable lessons: like the importance of family, the benefits of slowing life down, and where real happiness comes from.

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Though times are tough right, and it seems like every time we turn around something else (or someone else) has broken, God reminds me every day that He Is in control. Because of that I know that we can keep trekking along!

Psalms 29:11 HCSB

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Love,
2%

More for Forty and What I’ve Learned

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Today is my birthday.  I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m not nearly as excited about my birthdays as I used to be.  Age creeping up is not always friendly. I’ve decided, though, that this year I’m going to start working towards a goal of being “better” or “more”. This goal includes more than just the usual health aspects. I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, Christian. ..a better ME. I’ve even created my very own hashtags to track my journey.
#MoreForForty #MoreForForty

I’m going to take the lessons I’ve learned through the years and try not to make the same mistakes. Thirty-seven years have taught me quite a few things.

1. God has a reason, even if we don’t understand it.
2. Be nice to your parents,  someday your kids will make you pay.
3. Nobody defends you quite like a sibling.
4. Your parents understand more than you ever realize.
5. You catch far more flies with honey than vinegar.
6. A good sense of humor is essential.
7. Never say, “When I’m older I’ll NEVER. ..”
8. Your spouse should be your best friend.
9. Be the friend that you would want to have.
10. Tomorrow is a new day.

I’m looking forward to the adventure that the next thirty-seven years will bring. Hopefully they’ll be as blessed as these last ones.

Love,
2%

The Legacy of Women

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This is my daughter,  Hila Fay. She has just turned five and already has big plans for her future, though they do tend to change from day to day. Some days she wants to be a princess doctor, some an electrician like her daddy, and  still others she wants to work for her “Uncle Munch” and mess with computers (my brother owns AnyWay Technologies an IT company). She was named after incredibly strong women and has the personality to prove it (A bit of advice, don’t name your kid after two strong people; choose one strong-willed and one wuss. Trust me.).

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From the moment I discovered I was pregnant I began to pray that God would give me the wisdom to raise her with a heart for Him.  I try to instill in her a good mixture of self-confidence and humility. I always emphasize that beauty comes from who a person is and not how they look and that her thoughts are important to me.  I want her to grow up believing that people are (or at least can be) more than they appear.

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It would seem to me that this would be the goal of most any parent. I reckon this is why I do not understand the constant treatment of women by the media.  Yes, there are times when I am enthralled by the gorgeous gowns and outfits worn by the elite of our society. However, just like my daughter is more than an impish princess, these women are more than their clothes. 

It is insulting to females everywhere every time a reporter ignores the importance of a woman’s actions to concentrate solely on their attire. Our president and his wife are currently on an official trip and the only things I have seen posted about Mrs. Obama are how wonderfully she matched her outfit for a photo op and how unflattering her bubble skirt was.  Actor George Clooney’s wife is a powerful attorney and while headed into court was asked who designed her clothes. Seriously!?

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If we do not start demanding that the the women of today are respected and more than mannequins what hope do we have of showing our daughters that their hearts and minds are their best assets?

2% Mom

P.S. If y’all seriously can’t come up with better questions feel free to email me.

Out with the Old, in with the New

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2014 went by so fast. It seemed like just last week I was dropping Hila Fay off for her first day of Wee School and now she’s getting ready to celebrate her fifth birthday. The memories, good and bad, blur together like an abstract collage. Perhaps I’m just getting sappy, or maybe I’m finally beginning to understand a tiny bit how God works, but I find myself grateful for all the moments that God allows me.

I’ve discovered that despite how bad I think my life is, when viewed with the proper perspective, there are always things to be grateful for and people who have way deeper problems. I’ve also learned that moments of true joy should be cherished more than jewels and can come from the simplest things: like the laughter or silliness of a child.

I’ve realized that grudges aren’t worth holding on to and forgiveness is more for me than them. God has shown me the value of family, and my family has shown me the importance of God. I learned that my daughter has a temper to rival her mother’s and that even mentioning the word “Frozen” will most likely result in someone busting out in song (…the cold never bothered me anyway.)

2014 also taught me that staying up past 8:30 pm is just plain crazy and that some of the best times can be had dumping buckets of ice over people’s heads. The moments, and lessons, of 2014 go on in a steady stream. My favorite moment, though, falls on the same day every year: December 31st.

This is the night where I pause to appreciate the good moments, learn from the bad, and figure out how to be (not do) better. I plan to read my Bible more, laugh with my child more, and snuggle with my husband a LOT more. ;-)

2015 is a chance for new beginnings, like a deep breath of spring air for the soul. I can leave the mistakes of yesterday behind and make all new ones tomorrow. That’ll be ok, though because God will use them to make me better and 2016 will be here before I know it.

Love,

2%

Depression

With the news of actor Robin Williams’ passing my attention is drawn to the pain he must have endured. I don’t mean the physical. I mean the aching emptiness that surely consumed him as he took his own life. I’m not sure that anyone who has not experienced this type of depression can wholly understand the abyss that one can fall in.

I’m sure that as the next few days and weeks pass there will be some real dialogue about depression and suicide, and I hope that it sparks some thoughtful contemplation. My purpose of this post is not necessarily to bring attention to the issue, Robbin’s act of desperation already did that. My purpose is to try to bring some understanding and compassion to those who have never experienced this enslaving disease and therefore discount or minimize the overwhelming subjugation  of depression.

Too many times I have heard people-celebrities, politicians, neighbors, and friends-place the blame solely on the sick. I’ve heard comments like “They just need to get up and stir around” or “It’s all in their head”. I’ve sat by silently as fellow Christians make comments like “They just need to turn to God” or “They are being selfish, life is not all about them. What about their family and friends?”  I can promise you, readers, that depression is far more than any of these opinions grasp.

Fog
Image from rgbstock.com

Before I address the above comments, though, let me try and create a visual analogy to help y’all better understand.  To me, depression is like a sea-coast fog.  Not the kind of fog that we experience here in the south that comes in the early morning morning hours, softly blanketing the fields and slowly floating across the roads.  No.  Depression is like the thick, clinging fog.  The kind that prohibits real vision beyond a foot or two and leaves a damp footprint on everything it touches.  This fog lingers for days at a time.  It awakens and caresses every one of your scenes and enters you with every breath.  The clarity that you once viewed life with is now hazy and blurred and no matter what you do, the fog lingers and clings on.

Imagine that instead of living in a town where this happens for a few days and then a strong wind and bright sun come along to clear the way that this fog is part of your every day life.  Now imagine that your daily life is spent walking through a hazy mist, that no matter how hard you try the fog of your life wraps around you and crushes you a little at a time.  If you can picture this then you might get sense of what it is like to walk through life while battling depression.

Now, let me take a moment to address those comments from earlier.  I think that for some reason because depression affects one’s emotions that people don’t see it as a “real” disease and that is where the ludicrous comments originate from.  Let me set that falsehood straight.  Depression is as real as cancer or diabetes or even a broken bone.   In an article on the Psychology Today website entitled “The Modern Mind” Dr. Liah Greenfield describes depression as being […a real disease, severe and often fatal…]”

Would you tell a cancer patient to “just stir around” or read their Bible?  While both of those probably have major benefits, they are not the solution.  I know that God can heal and that keeping Him close brings comfort, but He created people and called them to disciplines so that they can continue His ministry in a physical form.  Just like a cancer patient needs to go see a doctor and get on a treatment plan, those that suffer from depression need help.

When a depressed person succumbs to their disease and takes their life there is no way that any of us can know what goes through their mind.  While those of us looking in from the outside may see their life as filled with wonder and love, they (obviously) did not.  While we may see their death as an act of cowardice there is a good chance that they see it as the only solution or as a gift to their loved ones.  When a person is in that state their view on life is warped, like a fun-house mirror.  They may see their life as a complete drain on others and they may genuinely think that their family and friends would be better off in life without someone to constantly bring them down or drain them: or, their vision may be so clouded that they do not see the love and admiration that others hold and feel so alone and lost that only one solution seems viable to them.

Whatever the reason may be, remember that when a person is in “that place” they are lost in the fog and genuinely cannot find their way out.  Those that suffer from depression need our sympathy and love, not our judgments and ad-libbed, sure-fire cures for whatever ails them.  Depression should not be a disease that is hidden under the rug and discussed in hushed tones.  It should be talked about and fought against as much as breast cancer or Parkinson’s disease.  There should be marathons, bumper stickers, and ceremonies honoring those who have succumbed and survived.  We, as a society, should treat those who suffer from depression with as much sympathy and dignity as we do any other person who suffers from any other disease.

I believe that until we actively remove the stigma that is attached to depression that recovery in large will always be stymied.  Treatment cannot be received if people are afraid to tell others that they are suffering and people will always be afraid as long as we allow depression to be ridiculed, mocked, and dismissed.  It is time for a change; a change of attitude and a change of perception.  I am praying that by combining our small voices we can create a roar that echoes for centuries to come.

I am ready to fight and I will do that by refusing to be ashamed and no longer treating depression as if it is a dirty secret.

My name is Melonie and I have suffered from depression since I was twelve.

 

With all my love,

2%

James 1:1-14

Last week our Bible study was on James 1:1-14 (we’re going through the book of James). James is one of my favorite books of the New Testament. I love how plainly the wisdom is laid out. James was/is thought to be the half brother of Jesus and though he was a stringent follower of Christ growing up, he did become one after the resurrection.

To me, the main theme of James is “faith”. The book lays the premise not just to have faith in God but how our actions should be guided by that faith. James starts out strong by reminding us that even in our toughest times God has His reasons and we will be better people-better Christians-because of them.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,   knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

Then he moves to “praying with faith”.
James 1:5-8 HCSB
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.   But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive  man is unstable in all his ways.
Now, I think that too often we imagine God as some genie in a bottle. Praying “with faith” does NOT mean that we pray believing that God WILL do whatever we ask. Praying with faith means that we believe He can but we trust in Him and accept His answer.

Back in the day Garth Brooks came out with a song Unanswered Prayers. Since then I have heard many people use his phrase “thank God for unanswered prayers”. This is one of my pet peeves. If my four year old comes up to me and asks if she can have a popsicle for breakfast and I say “No” then I have answered her. In the same way God gives us answers but sometimes that answer is “no” or “not now”.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to His father asking God to “take His cup” and ending the request with “not my will but thine”. Does any of us seriously doubt that Jesus prayed with faith or that God didn’t answer His own Son? No! Jesus KNEW God was listening and God answered His Son; He said, “No”. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why God would say no; but the thing about faith is that I don’t have to understand, I just have to trust in God and His reasons and move forward.

Love,
2%

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

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How mouth-watering does this look!? I got the idea from a recipe on Pinterest and tweaked it to make it my own. The original directions said to “puree the bacon and make a paste out of it” but that just seemed un-American. Why mess with perfection?

So, you want in on this? Well strap on your best flag-themed apron, turn on your patriotic playlist, and grab your lighter cuz we’re about to do some good, old-fashioned American grilling. Here’s what you are going to need:

1. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2. Mrs. Wright’s bacon (there is no other kind)
3. Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce
4. One of these hammer-thingies

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Ready? Ok, here we go.

1. Take those slimy chicken breasts out of the package, throw them on your cutting board, and beat them (more like a Gibb’s slap to the head than an arch – nemesis butt whooping).
2. Grab a fork and jab some holes in the breast so the glorious bacon juice can seep into the chicken breast.
3. Reverently drape a piece of bacon around each chicken breast.
4. Slap those bad boys on the grill.
5. When each side has slightly browned brush some of that aptly named Sweet Baby Ray’s on each side.

(If you let your grill get hot this should only take about twenty minutes to cook.)

6. Admire your awesome work while the meat rests for a moment.
7. Take a picture and post to fb for all the world to drool over while you enjoy your ever-so-American dinner.

The End.

Love,
2% 

Selfish, Weak, Unfaithful, Immoral, & Just As Forgiven As You Are, My Friend

Mel:

Some poignant thoughts about church today.

Originally posted on Everyone Has A Story...:

funny-church-signs-5I’m having a little spiritual battle in my mind these days about churches. My daughter, Rebekkah, has joined a non-denominational church.

Yikes.

I know all the stuff people are always saying about church…”don’t forsake the gathering”, yada, yada. I agree in theory. In reality, I have had some real issues with churches in my own life, and even after 30 years, I still find myself uneasy about stepping into any of them. So, when my daughter comes home and tells me that a woman has implied that my daughter was not saved because once upon a time she smoked pot, all that anger at the presumptiousness of self-righteous twits comes rushing back to the surface.

It is exchanges like the one Rebekkah had her SECOND week at this church that make me not want to attend any. Why do people think they have a handle on other people’s salvation? You…

View original 553 more words

Why I choose Joy

This morning I did my first, bi-weekly devotional at the local Senior Citizen Center.  I was extremely nervous, not only because I am a bit of an introvert but also because I felt inadequate to speak to such a group of people.  I was, after all, taught to respect and honor the elderly.  I was taught that they have wisdom that we should cherish and are often the ones I’ll seek out when I have a problem. Therefore, trying to choose a topic that would be relevant for them yet that I felt “qualified” to speak about was quite daunting.

I prayed about this for weeks and (literally) at the last moment God used my humblest quality to open a doorway.  My ability to find joy in sometimes the bleakest of circumstances.  Now, mind you, I am not perfect at that this.  There are times when I get overwhelmed with the sheer 2%ness of my life, but overall I do my best to look for the humor in situations.  I have this saying that, “life is about the choices you make and the perspectives you take”.  I realized a while back that while there are many things that we cannot control in life, we can control how we respond to life’s situations.

We may not understand why God allows the tragedies of life to occur, but we can choose to have faith in our God and in His plan.  Sometimes I empathize with Mother Theresa when she said, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

James 1:2-3 tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  In other words, whether we see it or not there is a point to everything and our trials will better prepare us for the future.

When we are in those trials, and it seems as if the struggles will never end, remember Psalms 30:5b, “[…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” and Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

We may not be able to change the path we are on, but we can choose how we face it.

Love,

2%