Saturday, July 9, 2016

We Broke And God Showed Up. In the Cross. In You

I put on bright, cheery clothes for an appointment I didn’t want to face.

I don’t know who I was trying to convince.

God?

It’s bogus to think the Maker of the Universe can be manipulated by fashion.

Myself?

It’s true I wished to appear confident, strong, and hopeful but outer attire cannot guise inner conscious.

I left the office with the sting of bad news and acute awareness that I can’t always be all the things I want to.

My father-in-law’s cancer was back.

A new round of treatment offered a new round of optimism for all of us. Options offered comfort and living and dreaming resumed until fourteen days ago when an admit for what we thought would be a simple, treatable infection turned into a whirlwind nightmare. As we continued to wait, beg, pray for the medication to take hold his breathing continued to decline. Each of us was blessed time with him where he spoke gift affirming words into our hearts and could return description of the treasures we see in him. With joined hands we sung hymns and shared family prayer around the bed side, Gary included from under his mask.

And then we had to say goodbye.

Our hearts fractured. A tired haze set in. Tears – unending tears – fell.

The theology of the cross means The Lord will never be a made-to-order Santa nor has He left us when prayers as we have spoken them aren’t answered. Our good God’s work redeems (even when tough to see) in our weakness and, ultimately, makes our “goodbye” a “so long” because He claims victory over death with the promise of heaven.

It also means the strong, confident hunger is the antithesis of the hope I claim.

And, despite having experienced the death of my own father and years of longing for a child I am maybe getting that for the first time.

I let a friend see me in my robe and tear-stained eyes as she graciously handed me Oh My Cupcakes because I don’t eat well under stress but she knows there are certain things I cannot deny. Coffee, chocolate, and warm bread has been hand-delivered to me. Meals have been prepared. A friend showed up at the hospital and held my daughter when I didn’t have enough hands to cup the faces of my girls. Another said, “I’m coming tomorrow to be with all the kids” in a moment of need I didn’t anticipate and loaded my overflowing dishes into the dishwasher while she was at it. Flowers. Books to discuss heaven with my girls. A prayer rock. Texts. Emails. Phone calls. Space to absorb my sometimes ugly words. The list goes on. Shoulders to absorb the tears.

In my weakness He is strong.

In admitting to all the things I am not the face of Christ has been vibrantly seen.

Yesterday I bought a new little black dress for a funeral I wish wasn’t. And I won’t try to be confident and strong. I will, however, be hopeful because God’s healing and saving plan will kiss our tears and you, as the body of Christ, will bless us through.

Thank you.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

What Are You Going to Do Now That Your Baby is Going to Kindergarten?

This is the question that people started asking a year ago.

“Just keep being me.”

Ava starts kindergarten this fall and that means the complexions of my days is sure to change but I had no intentions. Maybe I would write during day hours rather than when the sun had set. Maybe volunteering in three rooms would mean more time at the school. Maybe I’d find a part time gig, although that felt less likely.

I’ve never been one do to do something just to do it.

I’ve also never bought into the stay-at-home versus working mom debate.


Words I live by and believe in.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect full-time to enter my vocabulary but that is exactly what has happened.

When the Director of Faith Formation position opened at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church my husband was called to be on the task force committee. I looked at him and said, “You’d be good at it, but I’d be great at the job.”

My author work with teens has taught me the value of investing in family relationships early so that students feel comfortable talking to their parents as bigger issues arise. Recognizing that critical window, I designed the Intergenerational dance line curriculum, creating a fun, low stress environment for mothers and fathers to draw out their elementary aged child's personal thoughts through creatively designed directed conversation. In this space I frequently give you family faith formation activity ideas. My PTA leadership means experience with budgets, and working with volunteers, and awareness of successful educational strategies. Together, it melds perfectly into the Director of Faith Formation - seeking to help families of birth through fifth grade live out the baptismal promise - in the church I have always loved, with an incredible staff, and my own children across the span of the program.

Charlie supported me from the get-go and removed himself from the task force to ensure fairness in the process. We called a family meeting to make sure the kids were on board because it would mean change.





I was called by Our Savior’s. 

Tomorrow marks day one of a new journey. One I know to be a natural extension of who I am. The heart of this work has always mattered to me and to bring it into the OSL walls feels a gift, but as I look at our own precious girls, and see them celebrate God in the good times and actively seek Him in some of the current places that most hurt, my passion intensifies.  

They’ve made me a pottery piece and helped me pick out a few things to decorate the office. I’m dorkishly excited about the planner. And, I’m pretty sure if there is an award for most elementary classroom looking office I will win.




Here’s to a new ministry.

A new season.

The next “yes” to God.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Happy summer y'all! It's been over a month since my last Real Mom Confessions.

Today I write from our backyard, surrounded by beautiful flowers and the sight of my three lovelies giggling down the the slip and slide. It's sunny day perfection.

1. For my birthday I got some hip new sunglasses. I was feeling like pretty hot stuff until I realized that the UV rays sticker was STILL ON THEM at the pool.

My fashion sense is so hip.

2. "You can't smell people's armpits."

I actually had to say that.

3. Remember the "Charlie bit me" video that circulated from YouTube? Well, we showed it to our kids A LONG  time ago and they haven't forgotten it so last night when we are driving home from dinner Ava yells out her window, "Charlie bit me."

My husband's name is Charlie.

Excellent.

4. My girls want to go faster down the slip and slide so they just used BAR SOAP to make themselves slide. Basically they are taking a bath without me fighting them on the issue.

Score one for me :)

The kids think their first Flat Jesus will arrive to a lucky recipient in the mail today and are anxious to check the #HeLovesMeSo hashtag. I can't believe how excited they are about this. And, what a fun way to show Jesus' love?! Here's how your family can join in! This is the kind of thing that would be super fun to see balloon. What joy it will be to track Jesus' travels and see who He encourages along the way.

I hope your summer is off to a great start!

xx Melissa

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Monday, June 20, 2016

#HeLovesMeSo {Sharing Love with Flat Jesus}

Earlier this summer our youth pastor put together Take Out Church boxes for families to enjoy. Hot and ready, they allow families to taste Jesus' love when they are away for the weekend (or as desired during the week) through Scripture reading, directed discussion, a prepared activity, and prayer. The Nesdahl girls were all over it and couldn't wait to dig in.

Included in the box were a few Flat Jesus sheets to color and place in their backpack or take along when we leave our house, reminding the girls that Jesus is with them. The girls loved this, but they also decided they want to share the Jesus love. So, they made copies, colored them, each chose someone they wanted to encourage, and wrote in the upper corner a Scripture verse they wanted to share (on their own...be still my mama heart). Grace informed me that Flat Jesus also needs the hashtag #HeLovesMeSo so that we can see his travels.

I wrote

Flat Jesus is here to remind you that you are loved. Read the verses on the paper and add one before mailing it to the next person. You can write verses on the back or attached sheets of paper too. If you wish, take a pic and hashtag it #HeLovesMeSo. Jesus is alive and active in the world. Who will you encourage.

And we got ready to mail them to their designated recipients.



They were so excited!

And, within minutes, others were excited about it too.

JESUS SHALL NOT BE CONFINED TO THREE SHEETS OF PAPER.

Here is an online printable of the same Flat Jesus. Simply write the hashtag below His feet and the note wherever you wish on the paper.

#HeLovesMeSo is a reminder the world is in need of.

Join us :)

*Thank you to Pastor Sami for your hard work in preparing Take Out Church boxes. I'm sure it consumed many hours, but it is already bearing fruit.


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Thursday, June 2, 2016

How to Encourage Fifth Grade Graduates (Or Any Student Changing Schools)

This week Grace received her final teacher match. I knew it was coming and imagined it to require all the chocolate. I’m not quite sure how my girl is already going to be a 5th grader.

It’s also heightened my awareness of the current 5th graders.

The other day I asked one in the hallway if she was excited for middle school.

“No. I just want to stay here.”

As one who doesn’t like forced changed this girl was speaking a language I knew and I felt for her.

No matter what we do in the way of sending prep and parties, transitioning from one school to the next brings with it some level of anxiety. New building layouts, teachers, and going from being the oldest to youngest is a big leap in a young life.

I immediately thought of a great quote that has inspired me-

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” Unknown

And I went to work finding a butterfly bookmark at the local Christian bookstore. Perfect, it said “Believe” right below the butterfly and I sat down to write this girl a note with the quote and a message about how I believed she was not only maturing into something beautiful, but that I believed she would fly.

I didn’t stop there. Seeing this transition in a new way, I picked up more for some close 5th grade friends.



Each bookmark is intentional to something unique about the girl. Each card highlights what I see in them and how I know they will change the world.

My hope is that when they go to the new building they will see the bookmark in their books and remember what they read in the letter. That cardboard and a tassel might translate you are special and I believe in you.

I know it won’t take away the qualms but it might reduce apprehension.

So, whether it is a 5th grader leaving for middle school or 8th grader heading to high school or a senior packing their bags for college, I encourage you to personally encourage the students you love with an often seen visual prompt.

A little high five can go a long way :)

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