Sunday, February 27, 2011

Packing is good for the soul

My favorite thing about packing is purging. I love when the "donation" pile grows. When Joe and I packed up our closests today, we came out with 6 bags filled with clothes to donate and 3 bags of trash. I feel lighter already.

With packing, sometimes it has to get worse....

And worse...

and then wait a few weeks before it gets better.

God designed packing for the soul too. Each box I pack is a reminder of how good He has been to us and how grateful we are for the people He has placed in our lives.

I am grateful for friends who are so dear to insist on my girl wearing their precious girl clothes.

Then, I got a break from packing when my dad and Daina came for a visit. Sigh, I will miss their lunch trips.

But one thing I will NOT miss, is this goat. It may look all cute and cuddly, but I really think it may be demon posessed. It has tried to head butt the kids, it trashes the barn bathrooms, and raids the barn office. It will also run after us in the stroller and try to ram us. Who needs a guard dog, when you have a guard goat?

With each box I tape shut, its an opportunity to believe in His trustworthiness.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Least Likely Place...

When our family moved out to the ranch in Spring 2008, I unfortunately came kicking and screaming. My sin-filled heart thought I knew best and it certainly could not have included Normangee, TX... or could it?

When we moved here, we came with the understanding that it was a on a "trial basis." If we didnt like it, we didn't have to stay. I surely gave us a 6 month maximum.

That first 15 months here was quiet, long, and hot. But God was in our midst. He was shaping and refining us.

This time last year, the ranch went up for sale. We didn't know what to expect and knew it would take a specified buyer. We went quite awhile with little interest in the place. But there was one woman who had fallen in love and we weren't sure if it was really in her price range. She came back over the Christmas holidays and gave the offer that was accepted.

Sold? Really. I couldn't believe. After three years of limbo, I was in shock.

Our season in Normangee is coming to a close. In 3 short weeks, all of our belongings will be boxed up and we will be driving to our new home in the hill country.

Lots of mixed emotions.

REALLY sad to leave such a sweet oasis of God's love, New Life Church. Even more heartbroken to leave the precious people that make up that body that we cherish so deeply. We have loved doing life with them and God has taught us so much of what the body of Christ is supposed to be to one another through each and every one of them.

I am so sentimental. I walk through our quickly emptying house and the movie reel of every memory that Joseph and I have together with our little blessings is in this home. This home has been a refuge for our family during the joys and trials and there are so many moments that I treasure.

My prayer has been...Help me to BELIEVE who You say you are and hope not in this world, but in my unchanging God. God be big and help my emotions be small.

We go with peace. We go loved. We go changed. We go in Him.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say."
2 Thess 5:16, 17 NLT


Deep breaths. Lots of deep breaths in this season

Something I have always wanted to give all of you is a little tour of this small town. Better late than never, right?

So here are a few highlights of Normangee at its finest. (pop. 700)

Here is our exit off of 45 and inevitably when someone new comes to visit they get out of their car and say, "Wow, you guys are OUT HERE." I will miss those faces.

Every small town has to have a monument to the glory days, right?

We have dined out in this little cafe many times. Outsiders are spotted and shunned. Such were we.

A few glimpses of "downtown." Its a hustling and bustling place, you know.

So thankful we had a small Brookshires for the mid-recipe-and-realize-I-am-out-of-milk type emergencies.

And I love that we are surrounded by cattle on almost every side.

Never would have expected to look at this place and this season with such fondness and longing.

More updates to come on where we are going, what we are doing, and adoption stuff.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My heart melts when he sings

I haven't been too shy about confessing that grew up a city girl through and through. I grew up so girly...loving to dance, put on make up, curl my hair, and put together an outfit from The Limited (remember that store?).

My love on the other hand grew up in a little town in the back woods of East Texas and never owned any shoes besides boots until we met. Once we started courting, we did purge that sweet man's closet of some incredibly erroneous paraphernalia.

Tonight Joe and I relived one of my favorite memories, us dancing on the Graves' dock one night while he sang me this song. He personalized the words and everything.

There's something about that song and his voice and that look his eyes.

I'm mush.

I love my manly man. Tough on the outside but tender as they come where it counts.

Joseph Daniel, thanks for choosing this Texas woman.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

cloth diapering 101

We are traveling with Joe for work. We left home for several days. I did not pack one single diaper. Not one.

What's even better is that I discovered it after she pooped.

So I wrapped that little muffin in a hand towel, put her pants on over that towel, and we strutted our stuff to the store.

See the brown towel hanging out of her pants?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Your darkest day could be His greatest gift

Okay, friends, the kids are down for the night and I'm going to try to communicate one of the most key elements of breakthrough in this area as I continue this crazy series.

Its almost Valentine's Day and I can't think of anything else I would rather be writing about. Your darkest day could be His greatest gift.

Yet, how do we unwrap them?

As we all know, especially as women, our emotions and eating are so intertwined. When you have lived in chronic, besetting sin in this area or even occasional emotional eating it is essential to ask God to search your heart. We must ask God just like the psalmist to create in us a clean heart.

There are absolutely no formulas, no easy answers, no check off these three boxes and then you're good. This portion is a life long portion but an essential life practice.

"Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it comes the issues of life." Prov. 4:23 ASV

I am going to give you a few questions as a place to start. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I encourage you to find a private place (your back yard, the corner of a coffee shop, your bedroom, balcony, park bench or on a long walk), put on worship music, and talk to God like you would your best friend.

Then ask yourself some spirit lead questions. Here are a few examples of questions that I have answered extensively myself and continue to do so as a part of my healing process and as I go through every day life:

In what areas have we received a false sense of identity?

Each one of our parents, regardless of how hard they try or how much they love God, fall short. Have we freely extended grace and forgiveness towards them? Have we released them for the ways they have wronged us?

Do we actively and regularly seek to honor our parents?

What are situations, people, foods, types of stress, times of the year, etc that we have noticed trigger a downward spiral?

Some times there are people who have unknowingly contributed to false patterns of thinking. Pray about whether or not some kind of healthy boundaries are appropriate in that relationship.

Have we forgiven ourselves for the year(s) of self abuse, overt control or apathy?

After writing some of these things down, ask God for insight to the underlying roots in the lies that we are believing:

Do you not believe that He is good?

Do you struggle to relinquish control of this and every area of your life to God?

Do you believe that the Father gives good gifts to His children?

Do you trust that He is faithful to finish the work He's started in you?

Do you view yourself from the skewed eyes of this world or through the loving eyes of the Father?

As the painful memories arise, ask the all knowing, Sovereign God where He was in the midst of your darkest days. Then allow the comforter- the Holy Spirit- to do what He does best.

Also, please do not go through this journey alone. It is important that you are regularly talking with a mentor and it is vital that they are praying with you and for you.

As I have reflected on this journey that God lead me through, I am overwhelmed with what a gift I have been given. God blessed me with the discomfort to look within, the knowledge to look up to Him, the strength to tear down and forgive, and the grace to move forward a different person.

He is rich in mercy.

His gift to you this Valentine's Day and every day...redemption.

Will you open it?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I'm not going to be saying anything that you haven't heard before, but will you read any way? Maybe something that you have heard countless times will strike a new cord and be fresh revelation to you today.

Lets begin by making sure that we are all on talking in the same terms. What God is after is His glory. He receives glory when our heart is fully surrendered to Him. He desires us to have a healthy, balanced view of our body, identity, weight, food, and exercise. That means that we're not given to extremes and consumed SO THAT our minds, thoughts, attention, and energy can be given to fully surrender our bodies to be vessels for God to freely use.

The pendalum can swing both ways. We can be given to apathy that leads to slothfulness and poor stewardship which I have guilty of. We can also give ourselves to worship our how we look by being consumed with what we eat, what we look like, a number on the scale, a pant size, and the list could go on, of which I am also intimately acquainted. These lesser loves can manifest in literally thousands of ways in us.

Would you prayerfully search your heart...

Do you have an unhealthy relationship with food? Do you eat emotionally or when you are stressed? Do you spend an inordinant amount of time thinking about food or exercise? Do you compare your body to others? When you see a friend, is the first thing you notice is their weight/body? Does your life revolve around "being skinny"? When you look at the mirror, do you automatically rehearse the parts you want to change or don't like?

This bondage is so prevalent. Especially in the church.

God is not after perfection in us but hearts that are quick to ask forgiveness and believe in His empowering grace. He is after true, authentic repentance. I love how the amplified describes it..."to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins." As we fall short, we must do it again and again. Hour upon hour. Thought upon thought. Bite by bite.

So many times its just become so common place that we don't even recognize it as sin. Or we repent for other areas and sins in our life, but somehow we leave this area out. If we will call it what it is, lay it humbly before the cross, then God can lavish His abundant grace.

Not more rules.

Not begin "Monday."

Not more apathy.

Just being. His spirit powerfully working in us.

I was talking with a precious girl about this subject who is in the depths of the pit and she had the hopeless look in her eyes. My insides were shouting "If the church can't point to the the answer, then who can?" God is asking us to believe that He is big enough, believe that He is strong enough, and that it is He who rescued us from eternal torment can surely deliver us from the grips of this bondage.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me- Psalm 18

Though the enemy may be tenacious. There is hope. God has overcome. There is more to life. He is the answer.

I'm asking him for His heart for our sin. Will you?

This my prayer for each one of you...

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14

If you have any questions or thoughts I would love to hear from you melissa (at) Thank you for those of you who have emailed me. Your encouragement has really been a blessing to me. Writing all of this has been a step of faith and your encouragement has spurred me on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a door of hope

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor[b] a door of hope.
There she will respond[c] as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

“In that day,” declares the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’" (Hosea 2)

After the tour ended, I headed to East Texas to work on a political campaign. Each day it was ground hog day: going to bed hoping it would be different, but waking up to the same reality.

I asked God to strip me of any "functional" gods. I was begging God to make my heart pure in this area. With a jacked up metabolism, I had gained more than 25 pounds learning how to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and a healthy view of exercise. I was a wreck.

After several months of the same insanity, one day out of the clear blue I looked up and it was 2 o'clock. It had been a normal day, I had eaten like a normal person, and it wasn't even a question in my mind. A smile began to form in the corner of my mouth. Only God in His sweet goodness could have orchestrate it so. Not waiting for the water to boil. Doing life focused on him and only He could bring order to my chaos.

Then, almost a year later, I remember it being weeks then months and now it has been almost 7 years that God has delivered me. Please know that I prayerfully and continually ask God to be on the throne and reign in this area of my life. That devil thinks he is sneaky. He would like to steal and kill over and over again.

My prayer is that God can use what the enemy meant for my destruction for your good. I am writing this for whoever out there is struggling and doesn't think there is hope. Or for those who have placed their hope in anything else other than the finished work of Christ on the cross.

This has been more of my story but I'm going to write a little about the nuts and bolts later this week. Will you pray for me? This subject can be oh so controversial. I am praying for God to convey through me the principles, building blocks if you will, so that our foundation can solely be on Christ alone.

Until then, I'm going to leave you with some black mail.

My older brother and I. (This is why I hope to NEVER have my hair this short again).