Monday, January 26, 2015

Dear Girls, What You NEED to Know about the Tongue

The phone call started with what I thought would make her happy. It ended with what felt like a prolonged tongue lashing and silent tears.

The who and why are not important. The grappling of my heart, sweet girls, well that is.

You see, when words hit like daggers on the playground and you share with me about it, I know you dream of the day you are an adult. Like me. When people have grown in kindness and treat each other with respect.

But the truth is we never graduate from the playground.                         

Even adults fail to express themselves in a healthy manner sometimes. Women tend to be primary offenders. Sadly, our gender tends to be especially catty. I can say that since I’m female J

I’m not sure why this is. If it digs deep into societal pressures about the varied ways to get work, home-life, and the Christian walk right. Or if we have less security than our male counterparts. Or if self-pride gets in the way of truly listening and treating others with dignity.

This hearing words of hostility is a lifelong condition. To tell you any differently would be to lie. And, for that, I’m so sorry.

During my middle school years I remember girls intentionally trying to intimidate and belittle. Girls trying to rattle my confidence. Girls trying to get under my skin and turn me away from doing what I knew God asked of me. Of being the person He made me to be. I’d go home and vent frustration to my dad, wiser than I, and each and every time he’d say, “Kill ‘em with kindness, Melissa.” I wanted to scream. I wondered if I was heard.

Being the good when you feel bruised is difficult.

It still is in adulthood.

So when this woman spoke like she did for the length of time that she did, I could hear my dad yelling from heaven loud and clear, “Kill her with kindness.” And I did. Though it went against all I was feeling. And I honored her. And I thanked her for her time and what I do appreciate about her. It wasn’t easy, but people will not forget how you made them feel. As an adult, I get this.



 
 
Girls, here is the bottom line. Treating...

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Our Deepest Fear

My freshman year of college my religion professor handed this quote out in class.



Of anything I received in class during those four years, this stuck with me most.

It scared me.

Challenged me.

Inspired me.

So we're a few weeks into #BeBrave2015 and it haunts me with relevancy.

I'm trying to play big & serve in grander ways,

And I want to encourage you to do the same.

Don't play it small, friends!

#BeBrave2015
XO Melissa


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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jill Eggleton & Jesus {How "Another Mother" is Like Life with God}


A strange thing happens when you let people in. They start to dream with you. For you. Sometimes they believe in you more than you believe in yourself.


And my vulnerability in really feeling the total opposite resonated with so many of you. I received the sweetest comments and stories. I also got speaking requests.

WHAT?!?!

“I am not a speaking powerhouse,” I told my husband. “Hand me a mic and my knees will go wobbly. Unless people are just wanting heart-level, genuine, doing the struggle with you, I don’t even get it. Why me?”

“Why not you?” He responded. “You might just be what some people need. And also, if you claimed the word brave because God inspired it I don’t think you get to limit God with where He leads.”

It’s so annoying when he makes so much sense J

 

One of my favorite things to do when my man is off work is volunteer in my girls’ classrooms. Teachers are rock star people that deserve to have their load lightened wherever possible. And those tiny little humans? Well I flat out adore them.

Recently, I read “Another Mother” by Jill Eggleton with a little boy bubbling with character. In the story, the emu decides to leave his mother because she doesn’t look like he thinks she should. While trying to find another mother, he encounters animals that also not only don’t fit the bill, but they pose more harm than good.

Not too unlike you and Me, child?

 

 I have a tendency to think I know what my Perfect Parent should look like. I play the if/then game and believe that if I live life as He calls me to then there will be certain results. And when that doesn’t happen the face of my God doesn’t always look like love.

I identify what I believe my strengths are and who I should look like and when my Perfect Parent reflects back differently I do a soul check and mentally run even though it might hinder me from peace and prosperity and a holy centered life.

Does our Perfect Parent look a little scary to you too?

The thing about God is He knows details about us we do not. According to the Psalms He knows the exact number of hairs on our heads and I believe that with everything in me. So it follows that He knows inner details I do not, and the life He carves out for me may look different than one of ease.

So maybe the bravest thing we do is trust this Jesus.

The Perfect Parent who presents a little on the scary side because He isn’t who we want Him to be but the One who calls us to be.

 

I think there are some places and spaces where I am supposed to share my heart so I’m talking with these people about possibilities...wobbly knees and all :)

What issue in your life or call over your spirit has you looking into the eyes of your Lord with fear? I’d love to pray over you.

#BeBrave2015

X0 Melissa  

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

My 2015 Word of the Year


I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. Pinterest inspired me to try in 2013 but that was an epic flop before February even arrived. I should have known better. Most of the time New Year’s resolutions amount to nothing more than cramming one more thing into an already busy life, setting me up for failure.

If it isn’t from my heart it isn’t going to happen.

The word-of-the-year craze is a trend I’ve always been intrigued by. I love finding out why and what my friends and loved ones claim, but I’ve resisted that too. It seems one more stress to live up to creating a new path to failure. Something my perfectionist self avoids like the plague.

 

I heard the word while at my computer. So, I shut my screen and moved on.

Brave.

I hear it again and tell God all the reasons I don’t need a word-of-the-year, let alone this one.

Brave.

God doesn’t care.

Brave I am not.

At least from my vantage point.

I am a woman of faith, yes. I believe in a God bigger than me and that saves the frailty in me. I can quote Scriptures to get me and those I love through.

But I am a human at risk of letting fear hinder me. I’m critical of myself. I take what has been true of me or what I think to be true of me and emblaze that into my forehead like label of my potential.

My faith fills me up with life but it does not make me so bold and audacious as to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!”

But to really embrace opportunities tantalizing me I am going to need to be brave. Self-preserving pride - that I know in my head limits more than grows - needs to die to really see how God is loving and growing me this year.

 

Brave.

I hear His voice again and I finally shut-up. And I resistantly claim this word-of-the-year because it’s God’s idea not mine.

I was going to keep it secret in my heart. No one would think to ask because I don’t do these things, remember? J But I didn’t because maybe you are like me. Maybe you don’t feel brave. Maybe you like to play it safe with what is to resist a strike to the ego.

Because what might we miss?

Today is a new day that offers more than great football and hors d’oeuvres and after Christmas sales. It’s a chance to take your messes and openings and try because we have a present Jesus who is holding our hand through it. Might you still be scared? I probably will be more times than I can count.

But tip-toeing in is better than sitting the fullness of His dreams for us out.

Take that, 2015!

We can do this, friends.

XOXO Melissa             

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne
 

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Monday, December 22, 2014

What Are Your Christmas Traditions?


“Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

Christmas week is here. People are travelling. Music is playing. Families are gathering. And, for many, the pause from everyday routine opens the door to special yearly routines. Those of Christmas traditions.
In our house the goodies have been made and our Storybook Bible Advert time is nearing an end, but on Christmas Eve we will... 
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Change History

My husband tells a story of when his mom was nominated to be the Bishop of South Dakota. “If I moon the audience will it keep people from voting for you?” I’m grateful she shushed him in a motherly way and went on to win the election because at the age of 16 it landed Charlie in my homeroom. We were dating by the end of junior year and the rest is history. I love him mad.

And I love the people who raised him to seek God, cherish family, and treat women well.

Thursday, his mother Andrea, whose work brought Charlie and I together, retired. After serving 37 years in ordained ministry that has left her mark of hope and goodness on four Midwest states and globally through her position on a malaria campaign, she will retreat from public ministry to start a new chapter in life.

In one of her sermon’s Andrea gave the congregants two words to take empower their faith life lived out. Change. History.

Do you feel like you’re doing it?  

What can feel a grand notion was reduced to its simplest parts.

Acknowledge that we live in a world of need. Wounds of division. Disease and depravity. Empty hearts. Causes that need to be elevated. Education that needs to be championed. Every day we cross need and resolution begins with refusing to turn our eyes away.

Believe you can be a difference maker.  Giving this sermon on World Malaria Day, Andrea used example of her involvement in this cause. When she first began coordinating this initiative a child died every 30 seconds of malaria. As she and her team started getting information out, speaking,  and gathering funds, life for those affected began to change. More education was delivered, clinics with trained healthcare workers to diagnose and treat were built, and, mosquito nets were gifted to families. The numbers began to change, with a child now dying once every 60 seconds. It is still too many, she preached, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

History is changed.

 In simply making ourselves available, The Lord takes what we have to offer in our humanity and multiplies it through the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe newness.

One of the things I most love about my mother-in-law is her brave faith. Throughout her career, she has not only been aware of The Lord’s stirrings, but she has responded to them. Even if the calling has felt larger than her or down right scary. I wish I could tell you I claim the same but the truth is that is a struggle for me. I like to hang in my comfort zone. To be God’s girl in places that feel pleasant to me and situations I, for some reason, feel educated enough to “take on.” I like to know that there is going to be success. My head sometimes does weird “calculations” as to whether or not personal investments will be worth it.  I know it doesn’t look pretty in print, although I'd like to think I’m alone.

What my mother-in-law leaves in the minds of colleagues, pastors, various leaders, parishioners, family, and friends is going to vary from person to person. But for me it is a legacy of radical faith. Of truly trusting God.   Of trying to quiet the “what ifs” to see what could really be. Of believing that any stirring from The Lord is one worth following because somehow in Heavenly calculations this leaves no possibility for failure. At least not from the perspective of wasted time. She inspires me to try.

Friends, it is you and I. It is the scared ones. The people that feel weak and unqualified. The mother and father whose resistant kid wants to moon a bunch of pastors. WE are His people. And He’s asking us to listen, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

Andrea, Say Anything Jewelry helped us kids design this beautiful custom hand-stamped necklace as the perfect way to honor your ministry.



Wear it knowing you have done probably more than you ever set out to do, and you’ve inspired a watching world to do the same.

XOXO

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

What I Wore: Elf {Quote} Shirt by Skreened

I've been kind of quiet in this space lately, primarily because early December is a busy time in life. Particularly in the life of a young mom.  Christmas recitals, programs, and events seemingly dominate and bless every calendar day.

However, I had to show y'all my newest shirt.

It is no secret that I LOVE the movie Elf. I could watch it every day of the Christmas season. In fact, I could easily watch it at any point in the year. EVERY line is hilarious. And awesome.

So, when my friend Angie Smith modeled hers on Instagram last year I filed it away in the "get that next year" mental department and ordered my favorite line from the movie



Which I revealed at Grace's third grade gingerbread house event. The night before I tweeted "Why, yes, it is 9:54 pm and I'm making homemade gingerbread house frosting for the 3rd grader. I try to be a happy elf." Its unveiling seemed timely.

Skreened has nearly every line from the movie, making it especially difficult to decide. I mean, how do you decide when every line makes you smile? "You Smell Like Beef and Cheese" "Buddy the Elf What's Your Favorite Color?" "The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer is Singing Loud for All to Hear" "I'm Sorry I Ruined Your Lives and Crammed Eleven Cookies Into the VCR." I die.

You can customize the colors and shirt styles. My hubby went with the same quote on a long sleeve T with a different font and graphic. I love smiling with him :)


Right now you can get a 10% discount with the code HOLIDAY10, and their shirts often go on sale if you check back.  Their customer service is AMAZING. Our first shirts came with the screened image reversed so they corrected their error at no cost and allowed us to keep the first shirts. You can't beat that!

So, here's how the gingerbread house turned out.



Tons of her classmates commented on how much they liked the shirt, at least temporarily giving me "cool mom" status, AND now I have another awesome Elf shirt to wear to Hannah's school party on Friday.  YES!

What is your favorite Elf quote?


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