Archive for the ‘Melinda’s Blog’ Category
Posted on March 15, 2012 - by melinda
to show Himself…to our 21st century church? And what do I even wish for the church today?
I’m not worried that the non-negotiables of our faith will be lost (Hebrews 12:28). His Story has survived for thousands of years, but, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24) That’s what concerns me. Are Christians their own worst enemies? The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, Scribes and Zealots all espoused their own pious Kingdom do’s and don’t's, until Jesus shook them up with His Gospel of grace and love and redeeming power. His Gospel endured and theirs did not, but I wonder if we are repeating history. Might we be dividing ourselves over those Biblical gray areas we strive to call black or white?
I’d like to see the church argue less about what is negotiable in our faith, and redirect that energy to creating more effective ways to be Christ to marginalized men and women globally. More energy spent on discovering together what Jesus meant when He said, “Father, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Posted on January 3, 2012 - by melinda
Recently I was asked to participate in a radio interview where guests were asked: what is the one word you’d like to “live into” in 2012? Thought provoking question. I wasn’t at a loss for a word though. God’s Spirit had been speaking to me the word, submit.
Having adult kids home for Christmas, kids who are deciding an internship, relationships, and other life choices, I’m confronted again with this truth: that while God called me to bring them into the world and raise them with the best that I had to offer, the rest of their story is largely up to their Creator. Sigh. God’s Spirit is calling me to pry my fingers off of their lives and, instead, submit their (and anyone else I feel led to manage!) journeys to Him. This calls for less judgmentalism, more grace, and, ultimately, a heartfelt trust that God can do His job quite well. I can offer up to Him my belief in His unchanging character and unfailing love.
Do anxiety and doubt challenge that belief when I realize my kids are making such important life choices, and wonder are they going to be OK?
Yep, there is surely all of that at times: sadness, worry, anxiety and straining. But God is writing His-story, not Melinda’s-story in others’ lives. And although I may feel confounded at what I see going on around me, I want to rest in submitting others’ journeys to Him, trusting in the Creator of Genesis 1 & 2 and Psalm 139.
God, help me to grow into Job’s words in 2012, “I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted.” (Job 42:2, The Amplified Bible)
Posted on November 11, 2011 - by melinda
Things are about to change at home ladies! Your young adult kids – away at college, boarding school or in the military – are about to descend on your home! They are growing and changing – and so are you! How can we prepare for their holiday visits? It’s time to refresh our thinking about what can help make these relationships more enjoyable this time of year:
:Listen a lot – without judgment. Adult kids may want lots of space “on the floor” to tell about their roommate, school activities, crazy workplace stuff or how they are navigating the military lifestyle. Attentive and engaged listening can foster a safe environment for conversations, and you may find yourself having earned their trust enough to hear “Oh, by the way, mom, there’s something that’s going on in my life….” And if you are fortunate, that openness will carry over as they return to their current home.
:Watch – sometimes young adult kids need to posture a bit just to let you know that they are growing up and away. Be a patient, watchful observer. Show them respect. They are used to their own away-from-home lifestyle and it can take a few days for everyone to get adjusted! I do think it’s important for parents to go along with their own life as much as is practical so that the kids see that they have one! You’ll mentor for them that adults keep on growing in life. It’s a given that you’ll want to make space for special times like meals in/out, games/movies – whatever fills your family’s tank.
:Adapt – aren’t we always doing that with our growing kids? Your kids may want to faithfully continue family traditions while other traditions may have lost their luster since last Christmas. It can be helpful for the family to sit down together and list what everyone feels they must do before they leave. We thought our young adults were done with going to the Walnut Room at Macy’s (formerly known as Marshall Field’s!) but that made it on to the list! Do your kids still want to go together to choose a Christmas tree? Have the Christmas breakfast – or sleep in? Do they want extra time to see as many friends as possible before they leave? Leave some “ouch” space in your heart for disappointments, and hopefully, your kids can indulge you in some of your favorite Christmas family traditions. It’s not unfair to ask them to do one for you! But get ready to laugh as it plays out!
Laughter, wisely called the “best medicine,” can come in handy this time of year! (Proverbs 15:13) How are you preparing for young adults kids’ return home for the holidays?
(To read about more challenging relationships, see Gary Chapman’s How to Really Love Your Adult Child.)
Posted on October 19, 2011 - by melinda
Digging deeper is always worthwhile: looking in the sofa one more time for the missing car keys, going through the recipe box again to find that holiday favorite, planting the flower bulbs deep enough so the chippies don’t snag them. Well, I guess that last one isn’t guaranteed!
As American women, however, living at the surface, rather than digging deeper, is time-honored. The dissatisfying ritual of superficiality is lived out too often in our conversations at coffee shops, playgroups, book clubs, church small groups. After enough time, superficiality and its good friend, inauthenticity, become the way of the tribe.
What we miss when that happens is the excitement of knowing that God’s Spirit has used us to introduce deeper, engaging thoughts into our friendships – thoughts that open up the mind and the soul of a woman.
Our newer Friday radio format—Millrose Club– models for women what Christian conversations can look like as they go deeper. Four of us discuss a variety of light-hearted as well as spiritually or topically deeper issues. Women describe how they are challenged, mentored and inspired to deepen their relationships. Listening to us debate, laugh and share openly, they see the possibility of deeper connections around them.
Three authors I know are engaging women online: through a Bible study blog, through intentional spiritual friendships, or through connecting critical thinkers who are kindred spirits, bringing them together via email from across the country. I’m working to engage the internet more intentionally, yet simply, as well. Recently I forwarded a “codependency fable” in an email blast. One friend responded, “I am in this exact position with someone. I am paying a very heavy price… and I need to let it go.” How can I enliven others spiritually through the internet? Jane said over dinner, “Thanks for those emails you send. I pass them along.” Our influence fingers its way to places we may never know.
Sadly, many of us greatly underestimate our ability to be a thought leader among those in our circle of influence. Feeling inadequate, silenced or imperfect, we engage at the surface, yet long for the succulent fruits borne of deeper soil. We hang between what we desire and what we feel we can do. Yet, as we begin to refuse superficiality, we notice new opportunities to engage in meaningful thought and spirituality into others. An empty nester friend surprised me last week by declaring, “Why are we still talking about our kids? I’m so much more than my kids!” I was shocked when two other “together” friends, told me independently that they feel they have lost their way, themselves, while raising “successful” kids. These new vulnerabilities are spiritually renewing our journeys together.
During this season of “the harvest,” may we seek God’s Spirit to lead us, and find ourselves blessed to see what He will bring forth both into ourselves and others, as we courageously dig deeper into our relationships. Vaya con Dios! – go with God!
Posted on September 7, 2011 - by melinda
If you have a child whose journey worries you, you know the tension between that swirl in your heart (or belly!) that produces anxious thoughts at all hours…and the hope of trusting God for their safety and success. Amy Grant sings in the song
Watching my children
finding their way
through struggles and triumphs
I hope the roads they take
are making them strong.
I’ll still be on my knees
long after they’re gone.
Love has made me unafraid
One morning a couple weeks ago while I was lying in bed, I was thinking of one of my kids…newly far from home…and struggling to find “self.” I could feel the anxiety rising in my throat. I was not looking for a bolt from the sky. I was not looking for the perfect Bible verse. I was just feeling rather miserable for this child whose chosen path I wonder about.
I was surprised when it came to me, “Rest.” Rest – really? But an invitation came to mind from the pages of the Psalmist, “You are my Shepherd. I shall not want. You lead me to green grass and quiet streams.” The call from God’s Spirit was to rest and…to let go. Ugh. There’s the rub.
Since God is Love, I choose to read the last lines of Grant’s song, “I’ll still be on my knees long after they’re gone. God has made me unafraid.” Only God can draw us to a green carpet against our backs as we listen to a quiet stream meandering nearby. Releasing our concerns to Him, we lay back, breathe deeply and open our hands to let go of our child’s cares. And we leave them open to receive God’s goodness and we trust that it will come.
Posted on August 29, 2011 - by melinda
Watching my children
finding their way
thru struggles and triumphs
I hope the roads they take
Are making them strong
I’ll still be on my knees
Long after they’re gone
Love has made me unafraid
Posted on May 15, 2011 - by melinda
The name Martha Stewart equals the word daunting – at least to me! But I found this recipe in a copy of her magazine and it looked easy and fun and a change up, and it turned out to be all of those. (I skipped the watercress the second time I made it – unnecessary investment unless you love it.) See what you think.
Ok, as long as we’re here in the kitchen, let’s ‘fess up! Fill in the blank: “I don’t make a recipe when I see ___________in it!” (eg. how much time it takes, a particular ingredient or kitchen gadget needed)
I would say: coriander, double boiler (b/c I’d have to find it!), prep time longer than 30 minutes…I actually could go on and on…but how about you?
Potato and Leek Galette with Watercress
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and grated (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise and rinsed well
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup watercress, trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Place potato in a bowl of cold water, and let soak for 10 minutes.
- Drain well in a salad spinner or squeeze in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water.
- Combine potato, leek, flour, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Scatter potato mixture in skillet, and press lightly with a spatula to make sure it holds together.
- Cook until underside is golden, about 6 minutes. Flip.
- Raise heat to medium-high. Cook until underside is golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Turn out galette.
- Toss watercress with lemon juice and 1 1/2teaspoons oil, and place on top of galette. Slice into 8 wedges.
Posted on April 18, 2011 - by melinda
Jesus broke the cultural rules regarding women. They travelled with Him, supported Him financially, He honored their plight and elevated their status.
A woman’s testimony in Jesus’ world was not valid. Not good enough on its own. When Jesus rose from the dead an angel told a group of women at the tomb to “go and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.” And what’s more, Jesus Himself told them to do the same (Matthew 28).
A woman? Give testimony to men and women? Jesus entrusted women with the resurrection message that no other faith can claim. He validated their voice. In this important moment of His Story, He told the world of His resurrection through a woman’s voice.
Jesus was counter to the cultural norms of the day when it came to women. An author I read this week called Him “radical” concerning women’s changing status in society at that time.
When I think about Jesus’ elevation of women, I have to ask myself if I am courageous enough in my own culture to speak His voice. My voice. And… how can I be a voice that stands up for women in those cultures that still try to disown the voice of women.
Posted on March 27, 2011 - by melinda
If you are a justice person like me, do you feel frustrated and even saddened when you watch “what’s not right” actually happen in your church, workplace, a friendship or family relationship. I’m not speaking of an actual sin committed, but rather, those deep disappointments when what you wish for, or think is right does not happen. My natural response is to speak up quickly and point out the injustice or hurt about “what’s not right here!” We may even be right! But these days, I’m learning to think differently before I take that stab at responding, by shifting my perspective from them to me.
Now, that’s a very hard place for a justice person to go. Getting off one’s soapbox – even if it’s the right soapbox – is asking for a lot! But as I’ve contemplated God’s Spirit having a deeper purpose for these kinds of wounds, I’ve begun asking myself:
am I willing to relinquish perfectionist demands regarding others?
am I willing to accept the wounding that comes with living out God’s purposes for me, as Jesus did, even in this hurtful context?
am I willing to try to understand, without any judgment, that the messiness an organization or others bring to the table may be all that they are able to bring? How will I choose to relate to that?
By answering “yes,” I move to a place of compassion, as Christ did, when faced with disappointing systems in His own ministry. (do a Google search and read about the varied times Jesus faced rejection – truly He knows our sorrows!)
The Psalmist wrote, “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:4, 5 NIV). Thinking differently about the hurt of a disappointment calls us to investigate the root of our own wounds (Psalm 51:6 NLT) and move us toward deeper spiritual interaction with God. What might He want to help us know deeply about ourselves and our pain? Disappointments in friendships, family or our organizational partnerships can illuminate a path toward spiritual transformation, even healing past hurts we’ve buried that influence us today. It’s about me, not them.
Posted on February 6, 2011 - by melinda
How many books can I, should I, read in a month. How much of that content that is meaningful… remains meaningful over the course of 30 days?
So far I have finished Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth” in February (uh yeah, I started the book in December!) and although I found it depressing, I have settled on the fact that the loser-main character, Lily Bart, and I have some characteristics we share. Like…struggling to be vulnerable and being blind to an out-stretched hand offering help …the resources available to me from another’s mind and heart …and the love being extended to me from someone who cares for me.
So do I move on to another book? Or do I sit with Lily at one of her upper-crust NYC restaurants, invite God’s Spirit to join the conversation at our table and take some February days to think through this vulnerabilty-thing?