Mel's Heart

My thoughts about God, living for Him, being a writer, wife, mom, and child of God

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Follow the Leader

Emma, the one year old, follows her leader, Jenna, as this picture illustrates. Emma knows that Jenna is the Alpha dog in the house, and she just is happy to go where Jenna goes, as she's showing in the pool, dog-paddling behing Jenna. She does the same thing on walks - she will not bound into the woods unless Jenna goes first.

This has been such a good thing in training - and I use that word loosely as we all know Emma is not really trained. Jenna is such a well-behaved dog and Emma has adopted so many of her good habits. I'll just attribute her bad habits to her dad/master scott.:)

So I have been sensing the Holy Spirit reminding me to follow my Leader, not to go ahead or lag behind.

I was reading this morning in Isaiah 30: 1- 5 where God speaks harshly: "'Woe to the rebellious children,' declares the Lord, 'Who execute a plan, but not Mine.' And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in safety of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation...shame...and reproach.'"

God reminds me in these verses about the dangers of executing a plan that is not His. In other words my own plans, my desires, my own agenda. And the result is awful - humiliation, shame, reproach.

God wants us to consult Him, to follow His commandments because He loves us. His commandments are for our good and for our protection. His will is perfect. As I follow Him, I become who He created me to be. I can remember in my younger years, and even some now, when following God's ways seemed restrictive rather than freeing to me. I believed the lie that becoming a woman for God would rob me of who I was meant to be.

Instead, quite the opposite is true. As I obey God, I become more and more the woman He created me to be. As I obey I experience freedom from sin's stronghold, I abide in His love, and I find myself delighting in His ways for me.

In the above verses where God refers to the people returning to Egypt and the safety of Pharaoh, I think about the old ways I'm tempted to return to. Old ways of the flesh, strongholds of sin. These old ways are so familiar, so ingrained in me, that I find myself responding, reacting automatically. I have compromised the promises of God, a place that is not necessarily a place I can figure out or control, for the false safety and security of my old ways, simply because they are familiar.

More and more I grieve if I do this, and more and more I pray for the blood of Christ to cover me and the power of His resurrection to free me from strongholds.

The same chapter of Isaiah offers a path to follow completely opposite of returning to Egypt. Isaiah 30:15 "In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength."

The Lord longs to be gracious to us, waits to have compassion on us (is 30:18) He's waiting for us to turn to Him, not to return to Egypt. Then He will show us exactly how to walk. "'This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right or left.'"

Thank you Lord, that You promise that when we seek You we will find you, we will hear your voice, and You will show us the way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Husband and His Dogs

I have a great, great husband. He is an awesome husband to me, makes me feel so loved, and he's an awesome dad to our sons, I mean really really awesome. He just knows what to say to them, how to advise them, when to be serious or when to be silly, when to pray with them.

Okay, so why are there pictures of the dogs while I'm blogging about my husband? Well, plain and simple, Scott and these dogs are one. They are a part of him. If you've been reading my blog over the past few months, you know that I have, at best, a love-hate relationship with these dogs.

Jenna, the wonder dog, playing our favorite game Rummikub:) with Scott. She's brilliant, loyal, obedient and she was very cheap.

Then the top pictures is Emma, emma, the thorn in my side. Just look at that picture. There's not a whole lot going on upstairs with that dog. granted, she's only one year old, we haven't spent time with her the way we did Jenna, but all in all, she was not the best decision we've ever made. She's a purebred, expensive, and then she required very very expensive shoulder surgery, and she still limps, by the way. She's eaten the book of Genesis out of one leather bound bible, and then she ate the ENTIRE leather-bound Bible I got to replace the first one. So now I have a bible missing genesis...

What does this have to do with my husband? my marriage? actually quite a bit. I believe one of the purposes of marriage is to minister to one another. That means dying to my "self," putting scott's desires above my own. And having these dogs is one small way to give to him.

The other morning Emma knocked over Tyler's new Sponge-bob lego creation, the one pictured in the previous blog entry, and it just made me so darn mad. It made me sick and tired of dealing with those dogs, all their incoveniences. So I told Scott, we had quite a fight, eventually resolved it, and there you have it. The dogs are still a part of my life, still a way that I can love my husband by having them.

I'll end here with an excerpt from my book, What a Husband Needs from His Wife, about how marriage can be used by God to refine our character as we practice living beyond ourselves.

"Marriage can actually be a training ground where our character is refined, and we become more like Christ. In Malachi 3:3 we’re told that God is “like a refiner’s fire.” God uses the fire, or challenges in marriage, to refine our character. My study Bible explains this refining process. “In the process of refining metals, the raw metal is heated with fire until it melts. The impurities separate from it and rise to the surface. They are skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Without this heating and melting, there could be no purifying. As the impurities are skimmed off the top, the reflection of the worker appears in the smooth, pure surface. As we are purified by God, his reflection in our lives will become more and more clear to those around us.”

Marriage is fertile soil for spiritual growth as day in and day out in our relationships with our husbands we come face to face with many opportunities to choose our own selfish ways or God’s ways.

The very ordinary course of a wife’s day brings opportunities to refine her character. Just today I am struggling with my attitude as my husband’s work schedule has changed – again. He was supposed to be home Wednesday night, but now it’s Friday and because of a malfunctioning plane I’m still not sure when he’ll be home.

So how will I handle this small challenge? Will I be gracious and loving with my husband, as he’s frustrated too? Will I feel sorry for myself, as I get my sons to yet another basketball practice and baseball game? Will I be resentful as I walk the two dogs, something he would normally do?

I know these small obstacles may sound petty, but I want to be honest about what’s in my heart this morning. This is the opportunity God has given me this morning to refine me. I have tears in my eyes because really I just want my husband home! I don’t want to be refined! And then God brought me this verse this morning. Deuteronomy 8:2: “’You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” After reading this verse, I prayed that God would till the soil in my heart, so He would find a heart fully yielded and committed to Him. God gave me His strength to respond in a way that glorified Him.

What challenges has marriage brought to you? What opportunities has God presented to help you grow in spiritual maturity? In every day situations and in crisis we make choices to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit. Choosing to walk in the Spirit leads to growth and maturity. We can choose complaining or thankfulness; forgiveness or resentment; patience or irritability; love or selfishness. Hebrews 6:1 commands us to “press on to maturity.” Each choice we make in the Spirit, in other words in obedience to the Holy Spirit and in the strength of the Holy Spirit, leads us to maturity." pp. 185-186

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tyranny of the Urgent

A long time ago I read a little book called Tyranny of the Urgent and I've been thinking about that lately. I've been so aware of how the urgent task can pull us away from what's truly important. For me, that urgent task usually has something to do with the household, something tangible such as laundry, which can be checked off the list. Or the other pressing task usually relates to writing or promoting my book, What a Husband Needs from His Wife.

I've been trying to let God set the agenda for my day. Now that's hard for me. I like to have a general plan. And there's nothing wrong with that. It makes me more productive and there are times when things just have to be done. But being led by the Spirit is something I really am learning and trying to live out as I get older. That means instead of making my plans and asking God to bless them, I ask God, What are Your plans, Lord? And then I join God.

So for me this past week I've sensed God telling me to enjoy the moment and just go with the flow. Yesterday that meant on the way to do my plans, I got a very unexpected cell phone call and did my first radio interview on my cell phone - a call form England! It was actually scheduled for next month, but the caller was confused so we just did the call! Interesting...

Then today Tyler and I had a completely clean slate. We played legos, watched a little tv - his choice, of course, did some crafts with scissors and glue and everything! played more legos...watched him play a computer game. Now during these things I just had to tell myself not to hop to do dishes or laundry or to answer the phone. I just was with Tyler, trying to be focused on him.

I was telling a friend how differently I've parented my first child Zachary, as compared to my second child Tyler. Part of the difference is their difference in personalities - zachary's quieter and tyler is mostly talking and in action. but he can also be quiet and enjoy things like his legos for a long time, too. I think the main difference is that I don't take the time to be quiet and still with him the way I did with Zachary. Tyler's always had the companionship of a big brother so hasn't needed my companionship as much.

These are just observations, none of it good or bad. Just the way it is. But I found today that I really enjoyed being Tyler's mother as I just enjoyed him. I'm fortunate to have the time to do that, I realize.

So I'll end with encouraging you to think about these things: where is the spirit leading you? are you following the Spirit or asking God to follow you? Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there's an appointed time for everything. So what is this a time for in your life?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More about relationships and self-righteousness

I feel very strongly this morning about these thoughts. And they are directed to myself as much as to anyone reading them.

My thoughts this morning are about our tendency to self-righteousness. We have a tendency to think we have the answers for others. We see a friend in a situation or going through a struggle and it's so easy to think, if she would just______________, then that would solve her problem.

Maybe it's the way she disciplines her children; maybe it's the way she's interacting with her husband; maybe it's decisions about a career.

We think to ourselves and maybe even say to her or worse, another friend, things like, "You need to get a handle on those kids and send them to their rooms for a few hours." "You need to speak up and let your husband know what you think and feel." "I don't know why she's working. They don't even need the money."

In a nutshell, self-righteous, just like the Pharisees. Maybe we truly think we have good motives. Maybe we just want to help... maybe we've seen something work in our own lives and just want to share the same helpful advice...

It's as if we have these yardsticks by which we measure ourselves and others. These rules of a good Christian and godly living. Sometimes we're aware of them, sometimes we're not, but God sure is making me aware of my "rules!"

Some of the rules I'm becoming aware of in my life...
A good mom...doesn't let her kids watch too much tv, feeds her kids healthy meals, does crafts, reads to her kids, spends quantity and quality time with her kids, doesn't scream at her kids.

A godly woman... has a quiet time every day, serves at church, doesn't let a curse word slip out, doesn't fight with her husband, is at home more than working away from home...

And then there's Jesus who says "the greatest of these is love." "love covers..."
What if instead of self-righteousness, we rained down mercy and love. It would sound like this. "Being a mom can be exhausting. Do you want to come over and hang out for a while?" "I'll be praying for you to have peace with your husband. I know you want that too."

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy."
I'm praying that I will be like my Father by being merciful. Instead of offering the yardstick of my Christian rules, I want to offer the balm of my Father's mercy and love.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Sometimes we just want someone to understand. Not to solve our problem, not to tell us we're right. Just to understand.

Some friends I know went through a time of misunderstanding. Not too long ago I was frustrated with my husband about not understandng what I wanted him to undertand about me.

I've been thinking lately about relationships and how it's a guarantee that relationships will let us down. We will be disappointed with our friends and our spouses. Friends will not respond the way we hope, not be there the way we expect, basically they'll be human.

And husbands will just be male and we'll be female and sometimes there's just a sliver of common ground that is just not enough.

I was feeling these things one morning, telling God about it, and came across a verse that just comforted me so much.

This high priest of ours understands...Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
Our God understands... every single thing we think or feel. He understands. What a promise and comfort to rest on. Of course, we have to pour out our hearts to Him so we can receive His understanding. Too much of the time we go around thinking about these disappointments with others, feeling frustrated or hurt or sad or angry, but we fail to tell God all about it.

Thinking about it is not the same as praying about it. In fact it's just the opposite. Thinking about a situation usually means hanging on to it, letting the hurt fester or the anger grow, which usually leads to sin, which leads to the lack of what we want.

In prayer we release it all, find God, and in Him find the comfort, the understanding, we so long for.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Random thoughts

1. Who created the fashion trends of today? 13 year olds?! I do not like the styles right now. Everything looks funky, trendy, or too much skin, and made for the very young. Or it looks old ladyish. nothing for the 43 year olds out there. I'm just going to buy some coordinates :)

2. How many corn dogs can a mom feed her child without feeling guilty? I don't know because I don't feel guilty yet but i'm getting close.

3. If someone would sell an energy pill with no side effects, I would spend a lot of money on that pill. And if it helped you lose a little weight I'd pay more.

4. I do not like seasonal allergies.

5. I really, really love a house full of boys. One of the greatest things about our neighborhood is a group of boys from 1st grade to 8th grade plays so well together. I love when they're all in the pool, or shooting hoops, or playing some video game. Of course there are times when I love having little girls in my life too, ones to color with, or read to or do something a little more "pink."

that's it for now... i'm sure i'll have a few more vents in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Zachary had a much better day at middle school, thank you, Lord! I asked him why it was better and he said he had a better attitude and he just knew what to expect. Just so I wouldn't go wild and crazy, he added that he still doesn't like school.

Last night was "Tuesday night Bible study," for lack of a real name, a group we've had every other week at my house over the summer. This past year Mandy and I led a Bible study every week on Nancy Leigh deMoss's Seeking Him - very good! This summer we combined with Suzie Pace's group. Their group had done the book Captivating the previous semester and loved it! It's very informal group, some of the same women come every week but then some new ones every week too. And we take turns teaching or "sharing," as we women like to say.

Last night was one of those nights where God just really showed up for me. Someone else was scheduled to teach but couldn't, I really didn't know what we'd talk about but really wanted it to be meaningful in some way for those who took the time to be there. God reminded me of one of my former teaching ideas.

So we did this and it just led to some good sharing and praying. Lord, thank you that You created us women to need each other. There is something about having other women understand what you're feeling, why you do things even if they don't make a whole lot of senes, that is very comforting.

That night there were words of encouragement, exhortation, challenge, truth, love, mercy, and prayer. That's what being a part of the body of Christ is all about.
So thank you, dear Tuesday night ladies.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Middle School

Zachary started middle school, sixth grade, on Monday at a year-round public charter school called Union Academy. This school has a great reputation as being friendly and academically challenging. We decided, with zach's agreement,to put his name in the lottery, he got on the wait list, but then later got in, and now.... zachary's not thrilled with the whole thing.

So much of what he's feeling is from the newness of middle school - lockers, uniforms, changing classes - but some is from going to a different school without the people he's known for the past six years and none of his best buddies. Of course, now he thinks that everything would be better at the regular middle school.

Our approach right now is to pray, to listen, to encourage Zachary to give it time, and for me, his mom, to try not to cry! There's such a strong part of me that just wants to swoop into his life and make everything feel better. But i know, just as God knows in each of our lives, that the easy, comfortable way is often not the way God chooses for us. I am sure this is a time of building zach's character. More than I want him to feel good, I want him to be a young man who learns to rely on the Lord, who trusts his parents because we've prayed for what's best for him. A young man who trusts God, who looks around him and befriends others who are lonely or hurting.

okay, God, and I really just want him to like middle school at least some point this year!