May 31, 2008

The Week in Prayer

When we are sick or hurting and can't make a "prayer connection" with God, He uses others to demonstrate how much He cares for us. It is during those times that we need to be close to somebody who knows how to get close to Jesus, someone who regularly sits at His feet and worships Him.
- Tony Evans, "God, Do You Really Care?"

Lord, thank you for blessing my life with people who have stood in the gap on my behalf. Please help me to be one of those people for others. Open my eyes to those around me who are hurting and in need, and help me be willing to make myself available to them.


If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
~John 15:19

Lord, does the world love me as its own? I confess, there are times I want it to. I want to be such a part of what's going on in the world...the latest gadgets, products, etc. Forgive me for falling into the trap of consumerism, all because I want to be part of the world. I want to fit in and look a certain part...all so the world will love me. Lord, I confess my pride and vanity. I have seen what wanting to fit in brings...recognized, finally, the destruction it's wrought on my household.

~~~~~ can obey God whether you feel like it or not. Hormones, weariness, and even illness are not justification before God to be disrespectful or to sin in any other way...Be especially cautious of your words, tone of voice, and countenance as you speak to your husband. Your words should be wholesome and edifying. Your tone of voice should be gentle and calm. Your countenance (a smile or pleasant expression) should show respect even when you disagree with him or he is obviously sinning.
~Martha Peace, "The Excellent Wife"

Lord, I know I'm often short and frustrated with R. Help me to put my own selfishness aside and focus on his needs and feelings. I've thought the Biblical wife model was too constraining and not practical for a modern woman. Lord, forgive my pride and self-righteousness! Help me to follow your example and commands.


Lord, thank you for 15 years of marriage. Without you, R and I never would have made it. I praise you for the work you've done in our lives and in our marriage. You certainly have been faithful to us.


Lord, I can't imagine the grief this family is going through. Sustain them and heal them. Grant them peace, and just love them through this.

Lord, thank you for the gift of the Sabbath, and thank you that it is tomorrow. May I use it to worship you, to recharge my body and spirit, and to find rest for my soul.


May 30, 2008


Just testing some settings. Please let me know if your Bloglines updated with this entry.

May 29, 2008

15 Highlights from the Past 15 Years

1. Our wedding night supper in the Burger King parking lot. It was raining, and we were exhausted. Not the best meal I've ever had, but certainly memorable. He probably thought the cheap date was a sign of good things to come...if he'd only known!

2. Getting lost on road trips (starting with our honeymoon). We can usually laugh about it at the time. We can always laugh about it later.

3. Building our first home and moving in less than 7 months after we were married. We threw our young marriage into the fire to see how it would hold up, and it did. When I got our first electric bill (over $300), I called my mom in tears, telling her we couldn't afford our new home. I didn't realize that included much of the construction use, as well as thawing out the house from an exceptionally cold winter.

4. Finding a church family and the Lord (me for the first time, and R's recommitment).

5. My father-in-law's cancer diagnosis, just one short month after #4. God knew what would happen before we did, and he planted us with a loving church family that would sustain us time and time again through the next 5 years.

6. Saying goodbye to grandparents and an unborn child.

7. Welcoming CJ into our lives. Our family wasn't complete without her.

8. Being mesmerized at the sight of R transforming into a father. I fell in love with him all over again.

9. Saying goodbye to my father-in-law, after a long, hard-fought battle. At the visitation, I met so many people who knew R as a child/youth. My standard line was, "Hi...I'm R's wife, Melissa." I don't think I've ever been more proud to say that, as I watched him shepherd his family during this most difficult time.

10. Trips to Paris, Boston, Annapolis and New York. Each one, a fantastic adventure with my best friend.

11. Selling our first home and moving to a tiny apartment, while R labored to build our current home. It is a tangible testimony to God's gifts, and R's love for his family.

12. Weathering a particularly rough season in our marriage. God did some powerful healing during that time, and we are stronger for it.

13. Laughter. R gives me something to smile or laugh about nearly every single day. He is far sillier than I, but he's rubbed off on me.

14. Sitting in the church pew as R was ordained as a deacon, and later as he assisted with CJ's baptism. Why the Lord has blessed me with a Godly husband who loves Him, me and our girl so much...I'll never know. But I do not take it for granted.

15. Drinking coffee and studying the Bible this morning. It took 15 years for him to drink coffee with me..."I thought it was time to turn over a new leaf," he said. As I glanced over at him on the sofa, reading his Bible while I was reading mine, my heart fluttered and it nearly took my breath away.

Happy Anniversary, baby!

May 28, 2008


I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
~Joshua 7:12

For nearly two decades, I’ve been admiring a house in my town. I’ve been struck by the beautiful facade and the well-manicured lawn. Even though I’ve never seen the interior, I always imagined it to be spectacular...until recently, when a client purchasing the house brought an inspection report to my office. The list of defects was three pages long. Pictures revealed extensive structural damage, primarily because of termites. This beautiful house was severely affected because the enemy attacking it wasn’t destroyed.

God promised Joshua that He would deliver Jericho into Israel’s hands. When Joshua was instructing his army how to fight, he gave a clear command that all of the silver, gold, bronze and iron were to go into the Lord’s treasury. Israel was not to keep any portion of the “devoted things”, no matter how small. Achan did not obey the command, and the Lord became angry. He ordered Joshua to find the offender and destroy him. Achan had been warned, yet he still invited destruction upon his household. His family was forced from camp and stoned to death.

At times, I’ve not only disregarded God’s warnings (or the warnings of Godly people), but I’ve practically given Satan an engraved invitation to destroy me. Thankfully, he can’t respond to the invitation unless My Father gives him a permission slip. Praise the Lord, He has saved me from myself too many times to count! He is faithful to His Word:

'I am with you and will save you’, declares the Lord… ‘I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’
~Jeremiah 30:11

Although He has not allowed me to be destroyed, I have been disciplined as a result of my own choices.

As believers in Christ, we can be assured that He will not leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5). However, we will not be able to enjoy the fullness of His presence unless we start implementing some serious damage control. Could an abusive marriage or unhealthy friendship be leading us down the path of destruction? What sins are eating away at the foundation of our relationships with our spouses, children, and friends, not to mention our relationship with Jesus

Is it pride?
Lack of self-control?

Dressing in our finest and putting on our mask of Christianity may fool those around us, but God knows what’s eating away at our hearts. He wants our lives to be as strong on the inside as they look from the outside.

Beloved, we have to put on the armor of God and take up our sword (Eph. 6:13-18). It’s time to stand up and destroy whatever among us is devoted to destruction. Let’s not settle for hurting our enemy...let’s totally obliterate him! Chances are, we will struggle with a painful demolition process. But, like Nehemiah, we will find our God to be a faithful rebuilder.

*Originally posted July 2006

May 27, 2008

Weekend Recap

The long weekend went by in a flurry of activity.

~CJ had a softball game Friday night. The girls pulled it out in extra innings!

~I hauled myself back up to the attic for a while on Saturday. Only 1 small area left to purge, and I'll be done for the summer! I'll be sure to post pictures of the unbelievable pile that's going to consignment in the fall. I've got one more load of spring items to drop off this week. I still have to sort and store the paperwork that we're keeping, but everything is SOOOOOO much better than it was before! This has been a major undertaking, and I'm proud to say it's almost complete.

~I culled through my bookshelves again and found I could part with some more books that originally seemed like "keepers". I bagged them up and took them directly to the church library so I wouldn't be tempted to put some of them back. I must confess that I took several books I haven't even read. I'm not sure I will ever get to them, but I can always check them out if I do. I needed to come face-to-face with my tendency to buy books that look appealing at the time, or I think I "should" read, and never get around to. Reading is one of my passions, and I don't want to diminish it by feeling that I have to read certain books others are reading. Cleaner shelves mean I don't feel defeated by a looming pile of unread books, and I can easily find those I really want to read.

~For the first time in my life, I taught Sunday School without the first note. I had wrestled nearly 4 hours with the lesson, and still couldn't get anything down on paper. R and I talked about it for an hour after he got home Sunday morning. At his suggestion, I met and prayed with our pastor before class. I was more nervous than I've ever been, but God walked me through it. Our class was able to have some good discussion about the topic (putting God first in your life), and I was able to share a bit of how God's changed my life in the past year. My home life and spiritual life are so radically different than they were, but I didn't elaborate much. In fact, I hardly remember much of what I said during class...but I'm trusting that He will use that time we had together as a class to touch someone's heart. The worship service that followed was absolutely amazing.

~Sunday afternoon was another ballgame. CJ spent the night with a friend, so R and I took advantage of time alone to have dinner out.

~Monday, CJ & I headed to the amusement park day with a friend and her daughter, followed by a cookout with the guys. CJ & I were both dragging this morning, and are looking forward to an early bedtime tonight.

I hope to put together some coherent thoughts on how God is working right now and on "The Excellent Wife" sometime this week. To be honest, I don't know how much I'll be blogging in the coming weeks and months. R and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary Thursday, followed by CJ's dance recital this weekend. With school coming to a close, ball season is winding down for CJ, but R's season will soon be starting. I'm also praying about hosting a Bible study in my home this summer. In between, I plan to enjoy a relaxing, unscheduled summer and spend as much time laughing with and loving on my family as possible.

May 22, 2008

Pray with Me

I adore Steven Curtis Chapman. Several years ago, we were blessed to attend one of his concerts. The Holy Spirit shone brightly through him, and you could just see his eyes light up when he spoke about his children. Maria Sue was their newest addition, and he was a proud papa.

God took Maria Sue home yesterday. I can't begin to fathom the grief this family must feel. My heart aches for them, and especially for their son. He will carry this burden for the rest of his life. I pray that he will find comfort in His Savior.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
~Matthew 11:29-31

How does a family carry on after this? Only through a miracle of God. I pray that they will claim Psalm 30:10-12:

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!”You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Several blogs will be going silent for 3 days, in honor of the Chapman family and in memory of Maria Sue. I will doing the same. During this time, I will cuddle with CJ more and thank the Lord for the precious gift of her life. We never know what the future holds, but we serve a God who does. May He comfort the Chapman family during this most difficult time.

May 20, 2008

Today's Forecast

Dense fog and heavy rain...blood work this morning meant no coffee!

followed by brief clearing...a visit to Starbucks can make everything better!

then intermittent storms throughout the, work & more work!

Late day sunshine will fade into a calm evening...we were notified that CJ placed in the school's Science Fair and she receives her award tonight. Our celebration will include the American Idol finale.

Happy Tuesday!

May 16, 2008

The Excellent Wife - Chapter 8

I've been negligent on posting my thoughts about The Excellent Wife lately, for lots of reasons. First, there's so much information to assimilate that my brain and spirit just can't seem to process it all in time for a weekly post. Second, it's tough for me to stick to a schedule and post on a certain day each week.

At first, I wasn't going to respond to this chapter because Martha Peace really rattled my chains. I work outside the home, and have since before CJ was born. I know that I am exactly where the Lord has called me to be. He's shown that to me time and time again. Though I will say that working outside the home was made easier because CJ's caregiver was a Christian woman who is a member of our church family. Having Mrs. G was a blessing I never took for granted.

I'm good at my job, but I am not defined by it (in fact, I rarely discuss my job with anyone other than R). I enjoy working, but it is not my primary source of satisfaction or joy. My job does not come before my family, and my employer understands and respects that. I realize I am blessed in this regard, as well.

There are many reasons Christian mothers choose to work outside the and otherwise. I think Peace nearly excludes the possibility of having a valid reason to work outside the home. I felt her perspective leaned a little on the legalistic side, and quite honestly found myself so put off that it took me a while to get through this chapter.

I've deleted just as much as I've written in this post, because I don't want to appear to be on a defensive tirade. My reaction to this chapter can be summed up in two thoughts:

~As women, God calls each of us to different paths. We must be careful not to question another's calling or look down upon a woman whose calling is different than our own. I have many friends who stay home. I respect them for that, and certainly applaud them for following God's will for their families.

~A stay-at-home wife/mother isn't necessarily a better worker-at-home than her employed counterpart. While I work full-time, I also strive to make my home a haven for my family and still spend a lot of time with them. I don't have much idle time, but for me personally, that's a good thing. My outside commitments are limited to what God wants from me, and so I am able to give my family the attention they need and deserve.

Despite my hearty disagreements with portions of this chapter, I found that the second part of the chapter about setting the tone in the home was quite insightful. Since making major changes in our home this year, I've seen how much R appreciates my efforts and I have come to a much better understanding (and accountability) of my role in the atmosphere of our home.

You can see how others responded to Chapter 8 by clicking here.

May 15, 2008

Tidbits of Life

I am:

~Thinking that Belgian White Chocolate Macadamia Creamer may entice me to keep drinking coffee during the summer

~Hardly believing we'll be celebrating our 15th anniversary two weeks from today. Click here to read the story of our courtship, and here to see why I love that man so!

~Still enjoying the front porch, and the petunias CJ gave me for Mother's Day. My grandmother kept petunias planted at her back door, and the fragrance always makes me think of her

~Looking forward to a ride this weekend...the first of the season!

~Anxiously counting down the weeks til school's out (four more to go). I'm really over 4th grade!

~Happy that I picked up $57 from the consignment store this week. I'd like to drop off some more things soon...I really need to weed through my clothing

~Planning to finish the attic purge by the end of the month

~Thankful that I helped a friend by keeping her 2-year old son this evening. He's a sweetie, and he calls me, "Aunt Lis"!

~Wondering how to stretch our budget to cover the extra gas & food expense. Any good ideas?

~Leaving the computer to go snuggle with my man

May 14, 2008

Finding a Chore Plan that Works

I don't have many things posted on the side of my fridge, but CJ's Chore Chart is there. Sadly, glancing at the chore chart only serves to remind me that I'm not so great at making CJ follow through on those chores. It worked for a while. Then as homework, activities...and c'mon, let's be honest, attitude...have increased, my enforcement of the chore list has decreased.

It's been a subject I've avoided until recently, when I realized that if I'm going to have a peaceful and simple home, CJ's got to pull her weight. Likewise, I can't shirk this parenting responsibility any longer. I put off confronting the issue (and the cat fight that would surely ensue) as long as I possibly could, but I finally worked up enough courage to devise a new plan.

Rather than following a chore chart that really isn't worth the paper it's printed on, I've given CJ a list of her responsibilities. As a member of the family team, she contributes by taking care of her things. That means she empties her backpack and lunch box, picks up her things from the living room, and cleans her room and playroom (she has lists posted behind both doors to define a "clean room"). Those are the non-negotiable, unpaid duties. (To be honest, I don't require that she make her bed every day because mornings are choreographed to the minute, and I don't make mine every day since R and I often have to sleep at different times because of his shift rotation.)

She has the chance to earn money for doing extras (mainly on Saturdays) - laundry, dusting, mowing the lawn, etc. She cannot earn any money unless she's taken care of her primary responsibilities. The money she earns is for "treats" - candy at the ballgame, trips to the dollar store, and trinkets she wants to purchase. Mom and Dad are not bankrolling her spending any more.

I've read varying opinions on making a child's allowance contingent upon chores. We're taking this approach for three reasons:

First, we don't get paid unless we work. CJ needs to learn to work.

Second, she's not getting paid for doing what's expected as a member of the family. She's earning money for surpassing those expectations.

Third, we're tired of paying for everything CJ gets. She doesn't get everything she wants, but like most children, she's not above pitching a fit when she doesn't. Since she knows up front that we won't be purchasing "extra" items anymore (except for rare occasions), she can set goals and determine what she wants most. I'm willing to bet she'll soon realize that many items she thinks are necessities are, in fact, luxuries. If I'd only learned that sooner myself!

So far, the new chore plan is working. I don't have to nag her to get things done (money = incentive). She's taking care of her things, and has been a tremendous help to me. Tackling extra responsibilities makes her feel more mature. I'm hoping she'll learn the value of money and how to make wise spending choices.

I don't know that it's a perfect plan, but it sure beats the guilt of staring at a useless chore chart every day!

*updated to add: in response to Mary's question, CJ is 9 1/2. Basically, she does what I ask (and sometimes gets motivated to do more). I like not assigning chores, because now we don't argue that she didn't do something on her list. This was huge for us...because she tends to avoid things she "has" to do. She would do laundry instead of emptying trash cans. Well, whatever she does is something I don't have to do & I'm okay with that. (How can I gripe about emptying trash cans, but expect her to do it?). So far she hasn't complained when I asked her to do something extra. Again, money is a great motivator!

May 13, 2008

It's Pruning Time

I'm not much of a gardener, but this spring I've learned the value of pruning the trees and shrubs in my flower beds. I hadn't done it before, so I was a little surprised at the results. I'm sure there's some scientific explanation for the necessity of pruning. If I had to guess, I'd say that the withering flowers and branches are consuming nutrients and basically robbing the healthy foliage of the nutrition it needs.

It's the same with us.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
~John 15:1-2

God wants to cut out the parts of our lives that are draining us...where we are dead spiritually.

What does He need to prune from our lives? Perhaps
  • Sin that poisons the fruit that marks us as children of the King
  • Attitudes that don't line up with Scripture
  • Misconceptions of who He is
  • Thinking it's all about me
  • Actions that don't glorify Him
  • Choices made that don't consider His plan

Cutting the dead portions of a tree or shrub is understandable, because we can see that it needs to be done. What's harder to grasp is cutting healthy parts of the plant in order for the entire plant to flourish. Oftentimes, there are good things in our lives that need to go because they keep us from bearing the fruit that He intends for us to bear. We see the good and get complacent, not realizing that pruning will bring incredibly sweet fruit to be savored.

What good things in our lives need to be cut out? Perhaps
  • Too many outside commitments
  • A ministry He's not called us to
  • Worldly possessions
The pruning process will be different for each of us. Thankfully, the Gardner is also the Creator. He knows us better than anyone, and He knows what's required to help us bear the fruit He's planted within us.

If You're Looking for a Good Read

I recommend Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate. It's the story of an associate producer for a reality show a la' American Idol, who travels to small-town Texas to scout out a hometown shoot for one of the show's contestants. The narrative alternates between Mandalay (the producer) and Imagene (a small-town widow).

I wasn't sure I would like the two-person narrative, but Wingate carries it off very cleverly. The two points of view are so different, that following the story isn't difficult. I really like the perspectives these two characters offer.

And this book is laugh-out-loud funny at times, with quips reminiscent of Steel Magnolias.

Mandalay, an LA professional, suffers culture shock when she lands in Daily, Texas. Imagene is intrigued by the big-city gal, and takes a motherly interest in Madalay. The alternating narrative gives the reader a glance at how each woman feels about the other, as well as herself, faith and true love.

And did I mention the handsome, mysterious cowboy? What's a Texas romance without one?

I stumbled upon this book in the library, and thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm glad I did. It's a fun, easy, romantic story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

May 8, 2008

Better Late Than Never...Right?

That's what I keep telling myself. Mary had a Design Carnival to get inspiration for her new home. I told her I'd get around to posting last weekend, but I've spending most of my spare time been here:

One of my favorite childhood memories is visiting my grandparents. Nearly every night after supper, Mema and I would go to a neighbor's house and sit on the porch talking. I enjoyed the small town gossip, tales of the good ole' days, and feeling like a grown up.

Seems like no one does that anymore. We're so busy on the merry-go-round of life that we don't take time to sit and visit. I decided that my family will make time. I pulled the wicker love seat from the back porch, which we never use (long story!), grabbed a couple of lawn chairs from the garage, and pulled a few other knick-knacks together. A trip to the W*l-Mart garden section completed the transformation. CJ & I have spent time out there every day since the makeover on Saturday (R's been on evening shift). We love it. As she keeps saying, "It's so peaceful." You see, I am still pursuing peace and simplicity.

Still, I promised Mary I'd show her some of the different paint colors in my house (there are 14. Yes. FOURTEEN.) I think she was particularly interested in my dining room, which boasts 4 (including the trim).

This picture is actually taken in my dining room, and shows the entry. The secretary belonged to R's great aunt. And I absolutely love the archway into the dining room. Isn't R the master craftsman? When I think about how he built this home for our family (and put up with all my changes to the blueprints!), my insides turn to mush.

I wanted to show off the peach ceiling, which I never would've been bold enough to try without a friend's suggestion. This particular friend has impeccable taste. She inherited from her interior designer mom, who came to my house as we were building, looked at all my fabrics, cabinetry, etc., and helped me pick paint colors. What a blessing!

As you can see, the view from the dining room is stunning. Why would I want to cover it? The Pottery B*rn sheers are an E*bay find.

Here are the linen curtains I told you about here. Much too pretty to stay in the attic! I think they lend a summer-y, cabana feeling to the living room, and lighten up the room, which is painted a cozy dark green. I think R hoped I'd get tired of this color by now, but I haven't.

Another of R's masterpieces:

This was a bookshelf/stereo cabinet in our old home. I have built-ins here, but I couldn't bear to part with this piece, so I re-purposed it for the kitchen. The baskets hide the plastic containers quite well! And the bottom holds the bread machine & larger serving pieces.

You can see even more of the green here, behind the kitchen command center:

Yet another neat design idea is my re-purposed towel bar:

And finally, let's step out on the back porch for one of the most gorgeous sights you'll ever see, created by the Master Designer himself:

(please ignore the swing set...and no, R didn't actually build that, but he did put it together!)

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this little tour. Maybe you even got inspired. For more ideas, head over to Mary's.

May 6, 2008

Things I'm Mulling Over

~We can make nothing that deeply matters turn out the way we want. - Larry Crabb, The PAPA Prayer

~He [God] wants you to be not only like Jesus, but He also wants you to help your husband become as much like Jesus as possible. - Martha Peace, The Excellent Wife

~God wants us to stop living for ourselves, to stop destroying relationships, and to start living for Him...It is easy to live for yourself, but ultimately unfulfilling and empty. - The Excellent Wife

~Take my voice and pour it out, Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found, For I have nothing, I have nothing without You. - Bebo Norman (turn on your speakers to hear this beautiful worship offering)

~God gifts us, expecting us to use the gifts He gives. - taken from my pastor's sermon this past Sunday

~The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning. - Psalm 25:14 (AMP)