Monday, January 31, 2011

Not-so-Subtle Reminders

Today I watched as a not-so-subtle reminder about how satan likes to deceive us.  It was a really hard day today that started out rough and ended with a bang at the end of it.  Sometimes I forget what it's like when you have lived for so long believing so many different lies from the enemy that you have a hard time knowing what is real and what is not; and at those times God sends days like today.

Days where I am forced to watch someone's bad decisions and poor choices catch up with and shake up their entire lives and the lives of those that love them.  It's alarming how long someone will try to hold up the pretense of a lie even when they know they have been caught.

What I find even more concerning is that we can appear to be following God in all that we do in the midst of our lies.  We can read and study the Bible, attend praise and worship services, go and pray at the alter and still be living a life that is false.

We have to be a people that is dedicated to the establishment and upholding of the Godly standards that God gives us.  We can not be willing to enable our brothers and sisters in the midst of their mess.  We have to have relationships that are open and honest so that we may call each other out about our mistakes, our lies, or bad habits.  I need to trust that you love me enough to be honest with me and you need to trust me to be honest with you.

God's word gives a look at how the church was made to be.  We were made to have tight community that held each other accountable and yet welcomed in all who wanted to join.  This is what we need.

Today I saw the "you reap what you sow" principle played out.  God will not let you hide in your sin forever.  He will give you opportunities to confess and repent but there will come a time that your mess will become known to others so that you have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

It has been a rough day full of not-so-subtle reminders.

Mel C

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I fail.

Today was a great day.  I started my day with laundry and (re)setting up my budget for this paycheck.  I'm one of those people who likes to make budgets but don't really do that great of a job of following my budget.  So, today I had to do some leg work to make sure that I would not be (gasp!) overdrawn.  Over drawn is one of those places no one wants to be in because it means that you have no money and having no money is going to cost you money.  I try to avoid that area of the world as much as possible.  There was a time in my life where it was an almost monthly thing.  My mother and I wrote it off as I was unhappy with my current career path (aka student teaching) and too much stress.  In all honesty it was a case of immaturity and lack of responsibility.

We never think that though, or at least I don't.  I never stop to think about what the situations in my life actually mean.  I usually look for a way out or a person (not me!) to blame.  Part of growing up and maturing in your relationship with Jesus is realizing that you are to blame.  That you do make mistakes and fail and flounder and just plain go the wrong way.  With that realization comes the revelation of how wrong we are.  We are flawed and failing.

For someone like me that's a "jagged little pill" to swallow (thank you Alanis Morrisett).  I tend to expect my "work", what ever it is to be great.  I don't know that I ever shoot to be #1 but I like to be a contender.  I push to impress and satisfy and anticipate peoples needs in all kinds of situations.  I can be scary good at it also.  But the thing about it is I have a little bitty pride issue.  I like recognition, I like to be praised, I desire to be noticed and "oohed and aaahhhed" over.   And then I mess up.  I lock my keys in the office.  It takes me 6 hours to get somewhere that is less then 2 hours away.  I fall up the steps.  I forget the lesson plan.  I break the glass out of a window.  I lie.  I pretend to not know.  I spend money like I have money.  I over book my life.  I serve with the wrong heart.  I fail.

I fail.
I fail.
I fail.

And then something amazing happens.  God doesn't.  He doesn't fail, he doesn't trip up, he doesn't get broken, he doesn't fail.  Even as I fail, God succeeds.  He wins.  The universe doesn't collapse because my cake didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.  Volcanoes don't erupt because I over sleep and worlds don't collide when I don't get to go out to eat.

The last eight months have been a very humbling and eye opening experience for me.  I have no idea how to succeed at my job.  I don't know what it's going to take for me to be "successful" here.  Most days I have no idea of what is happening and if I think I do it changes faster then I can breathe.  I have learned to laugh as I fail.  To enjoy patiently waiting for someone to come when I lock my self out.  To chuckle when I realize that I should have stayed on I-64 instead of going north.  To relax when I can't finish my laundry because the machines are full.  God has shown me that his plan is complete and that he has chosen to use me and all my failures to advance his kingdom in this world.

So, here's to our continued failure.  That we may never forget that in our weakness, God is strong.  Lock your keys in the wrong places, break a few dishes, go the wrong direction, and remember that God redeems, redirects, and renews.

In love and laughter,

Mel C

In no way am I telling you to go out and blatantly sin; what I am saying is that you can not let your sin keep you from God.  If you've made a mistake, confess it and move on.  Do not allow it to consume you and keep you from being with God; he has made a way in spite of our mistakes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I think I'm nesting... is that strange?

So, there is this phenomenon that happens to women in the last little bit of their pregnancies that society has deemed to call "nesting."  Now having never been pregnant my self I have never experienced this, but from what I understand is that it is a time in the last few months (or weeks) or the pregnancy that the soon to be mother cooks, cleans, and tidies up like mad.  I understand it to be a time of "spic and spanning" every thing including the pets.

I bring this up because well, this past week has been all about cleaning and cooking for me.  I have been in the kitchen everyday since last Thursday and plan on cooking something everyday until next Monday.  For some of you that sounds normal, but for me it's strange.  I live in house where someone else makes the food, I don't have to cook, I don't really have to clean, I just grocery shop.  But for some reason or the other I have decided that the best thing for me to do with my spare time is to cook or bake or look at recipes.  It's getting out of control.

Last Friday night I made a dinner that could have easily fed 6 for 2 people to eat.  Saturday I dipped pretzels in chocolate for 3 hours and then popped a whole lot of popcorn.  Sunday, I tried to bake a cake (epic fail due to a slight mix up with the ingredients).  Monday I tried to grocery shop (don't ask what tried means, let's just say I had to go back with money this time).  Today I'm making a cake and packing up four bags of supplies for a day in the kitchen tomorrow.  Tomorrow I'm going to make 2 batches of sugar cookies and 3 batches of sausage balls.  Thursday I'm going to prepare myself to make icing for the sugar cookies, and I'm going to ice them on Friday.  Saturday I'm going to prepare the sausage balls for a party, and make corn chowder for the house.  Sunday, I'm making rice and beans and some chocolate chip cookies.  The thing about this is it's madness.  These are not things I have to do, I want to spend this time cooking and in the kitchen.  It's where I find my time for myself and it's beginning to freak me out.

Please, if you have any ideas about what I can do to stop the madness send them on.... (All joking aside I'm learning that I really do love to cook and prepare menus and shop for the menus and to serve people with food.  It is a blessing and an honor to have so many opportunities to share with others.)  When I started this blog I didn't have a whole lot of guidelines for myself, except for one.  I didn't want to do a food blog.  There are a lot of those out there already.  But as I'm going along and spending so much time cooking I'm beginning to see that maybe, just maybe I should roll with it.  Keep your eyes peeled for some foodie posts soon.  I'm so excited!

Cooking like a crazy lady,

Mel C

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Did you know...

Did you know that there are 143 million orphans in the world?

Did you know that Jesus told us to care for the orphans, the widows, and the fatherless?

Did you know that there are organizations and foundations set up to help families pay for their adoption process?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Best Part About Today

Today was a strange day.  Nothing bad happened, no one at the house had a huge mishap; it was just a rough day for me.  My day started out nice enough.  I slept until 11 am, showered, had some time with God and then went to the kitchen for lunch and to dip some pretzels in chocolate for work.  That took me around 3 hours when everything was said and done.  By the time I had finished in the kitchen I felt like trash walking.  My head was throbbing, my mind was reeling and I just didn't want to spend the evening with the ladies.  I have learned that on days when I feel like this it's rough to be at work.  The house feeds off of everyone's mood, particularly the staff.  So, I tried to keep it low key and not be around the ladies to much because I did not want my emotions to rub off on them.  We had a nice slow night and enjoyed an evening in for a change.  Then one of my favorite time of day came.

I don't really like to work nights simply because it cuts out of my social life, but there is one part of the evening shift that I love.  I love lights out time, and not because they are going to sleep and I get to go to bed but because I get to tell them good night.  I go around from bed to bed and give them all hugs, tell them to sleep well and that I love them.  It means a lot to the ladies because they are away from those that love them and that they love and night time is the hardest time to be away from home.  It is a sweet, sweet time for me.

I'm going to be honest and tell you that I also really like doing it for some very selfish reasons.  The biggest one is that I get to be hugged 10 times and I am told that they love me.  I don't really talk about this much but sometimes being single can be, well, lonely.  When I hug the ladies and they tell me they love me it reminds me that I'm not alone.  And tonight was no different.  I got to go from bed to bed and hug their necks and say "I love you" and be told that they love me too.  It was good.  At the end of a day like today it is good to be reminded that I am loved and that when everything is said and done it's all going to be okay.

Good night, sleep well, and I love you,

Mel C

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Find

I don't know who does the grocery shopping in your house, but I do the shopping here.  I have the distinct privilege of shopping for a house of 12 adults.  We have a budget of around $200 a week.  I say around because I have a little bit of room to play.  A very little bit of room to play, and this week I played some.  I tend to hop around a lot.  Sometimes I shop at Wal-Mart some time Kroger.  Once I even drove the half an hour to Meijer (the money I saved was spent in gas to get there and so it is out of the rotation.

Anyway this past week I went to Wal-Mart because it was closest and easiest in the time that I had to shop.  As I was headed down "action ally" on the grocery side I found the trail mix aisle that I had missed the other 17 times I had been there.  I started looking because we try to have healthy snack options that also pack a nice serving of protein.  As I was looking I found some good sized bags of stuff for around $3 a piece.  Some thing you need to know about the ladies of the house is that they love them some spicy food.  Our director says that it's because their taste buds have been so dulled by their drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and what ever else have you that they need the spice to engage their taste buds.  Me, I just like the hot flavors and tend to have a heavy hand when I use spices.  So I picked up a pack of Wasabi Peas.  Oh my goodness.  I have never had them before and it's like dawn is happening in my sinus' when I eat them.

None of the ladies enjoy them so that means that they pretty much are mine.  I like the sizzle through my nose and into my eyes when I eat them.  They are so tasty.  I just thought I would share that with you today.  So, if your heart desires go get you some and enjoy!

Mel C

P.S.  Here is my favorite line from my favorite romance movie, "The Last of the Mohican's."  The lead male (Daniel Day Lewis as Nathaniel) says this to his love interest (some woman in the role of Cora) when he leaves her behind to save her.  Such a great moment.
"Stay alive, no matter what occurs.  Stay alive, I will find you.  No matter how long it takes, no matter how far; I WILL find you."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A List, because I like lists.

Prepare yourself, this might very well become a maddening mish-mash of all the things in my head...

  1. I'm currently watching "My Fair Lady,"  it's one of my favorites.
  2. My other option was "The West Side Story".  It was a little dark for my tastes tonight.
  3. I love my recliner.  It's the chair my Granny slept in for years, and now it's in my bedroom.  So cozy.
  4. I'm really nervous about my class this semester, one of the assignments is to find and establish an accountability partner in the class.  I've historically been very poor at meeting new people in the classroom.  
  5. I'm excited to do some baking soon.  
  6. I miss having my own kitchen that I can play in on a regular basis.
  7. I am loving the community that God has recently placed me in.  It is so nice to have a local church family.
  8. I wish I cared enough to take more pictures.
  9. Dressing up is something that I like to do, any reason to put on my best is a good enough reason for me.
  10. The play is the thing sometimes.  I love the theater and all that goes into a great production.
  11. I am not ashamed to admit that I also enjoy a good ballet, not that I've seen one since my time in high school.
  12. Sports are quite fun.  I miss game nights and playing volleyball with friends.
  13. I'm waiting for my delivery of books from Borders, I really am excited to get my hands on the rest of my textbooks and a fiction book I threw in for fun.
  14. My favorite song in "My Fair Lady"  is the one where she tells the young man that is after her that she wants more then words.
  15. The writing of this post is because I'm avoiding making a Fruit Pizza.  There are some things I just don't want to do.  
  16. I get nervous about random things; like turning down the wrong street, not knowing the best way to order my food, misspelling words when I write things, and other silly things like not noticing that my shoes are untied.
  17. I really should go make this  fruit pizza.  
  18. There is a blanket that I want to finish.
That is nowhere near to the beginning of my thoughts.  These are just the ones that I wanted to put on ink tonight.  Oh man this movie is so good.  

Mel C

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Soil of My Soul

I don't know how much experience you have with growing stuff.  I don't know if you grew up working in a garden or riding a tractor around the fields.  For all I know you could be like my college roommate and kill everything green you touch.  But I grew up in an agricultural family.  My Daddy has only ever worked on farms, with farm equipment and with farmers.  My grandparents had two gardens and an orchard at their house; if you showed up for a day anytime from June to October you would spend some time in the garden.  My parents are country folk who grow a large part of their own produce and they enjoy doing it.  There is something that makes you feel capable when you can grow and care for your own food.  It's satisfying to sit down for a meal and realize that less then 5% of it was purchased.  But I'm not here to convince you to start growing your own food (even though you really should), I'm here because I want to talk about something that happens when there is no rain, no water, on the ground.

I grew up in an area with some really great soil.  I know that's a funny comment, but it's true.  The soil (it's not dirt.  There is a subtle difference between dirt and soil.  You don't want dirt, but soil is so good to have.) is rich and it smells rich.  There is a smell that accompanies freshly turned soil.  It smells like life should.  Fresh, wholesome, vibrant.  Good soil smells like it's alive and new.  Really good soil smells borderline tasty (I'm just being honest here).  The life in soil comes from the moisture in the soil.  When your soil gets dry it starts to die.  The life seeps out of it.  Nothing grows or sustains in dry soil, not even cacti at a certain point.  When soil gets really dry it turns into what I would call dirt.  You don't want it.  It has no purpose when you are trying to feed your family.  It does pretty good on a softball field, but is bad for a garden.  Eventually the ground begins to crack and break apart.  It's not pretty, especially if your life is tied to the state of the ground.

I'm writing about this because I have been learning a lot about thirsting for God.  Recently God has revealed an area of sin in my life.  For years I knew that something was wrong, that I was hurting and wasn't being freed like I knew God could.  Recently God revealed that it was a result of my not desiring Him first.  At a point in my life I had been plugged up to God.  We were spending all kinds of time together, he was teaching me and growing me and changing me into the woman that he made me to be.  Then I got distracted and choose to pursue this other thing that looked like everything I could ever want.  I stopped desiring God and I started drying up.  The water started seeping out of the soil of my soul.  I wore a face of peace in spite of the fact that I was dieing on the inside.  This past month God has started raining on me.  After the sin was brought to light and forgiven, the rain came.  This process began when I moved recently and has come to the point that I am now breathing in the smell of living soil in my life.  Seeds that were long ago planted, forsaken, dried up, and forgotten are beginning to bud and grow again.  Trees of hope that I cut down in my reckless choices are re-sprouting as God rains on the soil in my life.

It is a beautiful time and I am blown away that God would choose to renew me.  That he cares enough about the dead state of my heart to bring new growth.  My heart is now bent on learning how to desire him and him alone again.  I am re-learning how to hunger and thirst after Christ, and it is good to be thirsty in a flood.  God will never run out for me and my desire.  He will always satisfy in ways that nothing and no one else ever will.

If you find that your heart is a dried up and barren waste land, turn to the one who comes like the rain.  Turn to him that will heal the cracked and broken land in your soul.  He desires to flood you with his love and provision.  You must rest and know that to be true today.  He will come to you and heal your land.

Praising God in the rain,

Mel C

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tuesday Mornings

I spent the summer of 2008 in Ethiopia.  As I was looking over my journal from that summer I found this in it and decided that it would be good to share it.  I was there to teach orphaned and refugee children English.  This is from my 8th and final week there.  Leaving was like leaving home again and a part of me is still not completely happy with still being here.  So, from Awasa, Ethiopia in July of 2008 I give you ...

Tuesday Mornings...
Today is Tuesday, my last full Tuesday in Africa.  I have found myself here to teach English to about 45 or so refugee children.  I am one part of a team of 8.  We have had 3 weeks of camp leading up to this point, so we are tired; tired to the point of being unhealthy.