Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Birthday to Merrie Melody::8 years old!::December 17

Today is Merrie Melody blog's 8th birthday! Time sure flies when you're having fun.

Lots of things have happened in these past 8 years. Weddings. Divorces. Births. Funerals. Lots of birthdays, and firsts, and lasts and everything in between.

This was the very first post:

Remember the Merrie Melodies from Warner Bros? If not take a look here:

Somedays my life feels a bit cartoony; and sometimes I really am merry. So Merrie Melody fits!

Today I feel a lot like Tom on "Tom and Jerry". I just need the toothpicks to keep my eyes open!

Steve and I are in the middle of a mini-remodel in the bathroom, so guess what I am doing today? I'll maybe pick up some paint for the walls this afternoon, and later this evening finish caulking the new tub surround before Matt's birthday party.

I finished a Christmas collage for a friend's Christmas cards this morning. It turned out really cute.

Now the kids are all awake and it's time to start my day for real.

Have a good one!

By far, the most popular post has been my recipe for pot roast. I get at least a dozen views a day for that one post.

I originally started Merrie Melody to keep track of family "stuff" - kind of a journal. Steve printed out the first 18 months into a book form for us, but we've gotten behind a bit. ;) I'd like to have each year printed so that we can have the stories, the pictures, and the memories to be able to pick up and look at anytime we want.

Thank you for being a part of this blog. I hope that you have enjoyed the stories, pictures, and links as much as I have.

♥ Melody

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chyann & Jackson ♥♥ The Twin Grandbabies

Born on December 1st,

Jackson Owen Sawyer was born at 8:57 p.m and weighs 4 lbs 11oz; 16.9 inches

and Chyann Joylyn was born at 8:59 p.m. and weighs 5 lbs.; 17.7 inches

Mommy and babies are doing great! Chyann was on cpap for a few minutes, but now they are in the room with Josh and Hayley nursing and cuddling.

Such a blessing!

Monday, November 30, 2015

TED talk "Dare to Disagree"::November 30

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

I just finished watching this TED talk, and I have a multitude of thoughts swimming around in my head.

I am person who will disagree if I feel something is wrong and/or troubling. I do this even with authority figures. Reactions to my disagreeing vary from authority figure to authority figure, but among the people who daresn't disagree is where I get the most resistance.

The first time I remember disagreeing with an authority figure was when I was 16. I was in Sunday School class and the teacher, who was a college student, posed a question to us. He asked if we had seen the article in the paper about what the policy the church had put out about HIV/AIDS patients. I hadn't, but was alarmed when he said that the policy was that these people would not be receiving home or visiting teachers and they were not welcome in church.

I envisioned people dying alone, without the fellowship, love, and nurturing that a church family can give. I thought of people unable to take the sacraments of the Lord. My blood boiled.

My response, though, has less to do with the story than the Sunday School teacher who posed such questions to teenagers and waited for and listened to the responses. It is a rare person indeed who encourages teenagers to think for themselves.

When I did give my response, which was quite different than many of my classmates, the teacher listened. When the class buzzed with debate, he sat back and was thoughtful. He didn't squelch conversation. He didn't insist on agreement with the leaders. He merely listened to the pros and cons.

Some people are very nervous when discord arises. They want to fix it as soon as possible. They want everyone to get along, even if that means cutting the conversation short. I have often disagreed with such people - I think conversation is extremely important.

I love discussing ideas. I love debating. What I do not love is ad hominem debating; never should a debate turn into tearing a person down or shaming them for their thoughts. It is one thing to disagree, but another to personally attack.

I hope that you watch the video. It is superb.
♥ Melody

Monday, November 23, 2015

Love Without End::November 23

I've been talking a lot about what I believe about God...this is one of those things.

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates. When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake. If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in. And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love, A secret that my daddy said was just between us." He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then. It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

♥ Melody

Saturday, November 21, 2015

No Winners. No Losers. Just Zen.::November 21

I've been pondering about wisdom this morning, mostly after reading fallacious logic on facebook. It made me wonder how and from whom we learn how to produce logical trains of thought - where does wisdom come from?

I just finished reading a chapter in the book Maybe (Maybe Not) by Robert Fulghum. The story told about a new version of the game Fruit Basket - no one goes out. First, everyone sits on everyone's lap when there aren't enough chairs, until everyone ends up on 1 chair... then for the next trick: no chairs at all. What? Form a circle. Turn sideways, everyone facing the same direction. Scoot in until you are standing right next to each other. Guide the first person's hips onto your knees and sit down, everyone, all at the same time. No losers. Everyone wins.

Isn't that what we all want? We go about it different ways, but that is the goal.

In our world, everyone wants to be the winner. We've all heard that it's a dog eat dog world out there. I believe that when we do what the very foundation of Christianity is: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything falls into place. No losers. We all win.

Now, let's go back to wisdom. Where do we find it, and from whom? Everywhere. From everyone.

Once we learn logic, and once we can take that to the next step and form rhetoric - applying logic - Anyone can be Buddha. Everywhere is University. There is nowhere that truth can't be found.

We had a homeless man in our Adult Discussion Group at Church on a Sunday a few month's back - the things that he said took us beyond ourselves, yet we all could empathize and understand. That is wisdom. Realizing that we are all different, yet all the same.

Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite philosophers. He talks of regular life "stuff" and tells of the meaning deeper than what was on the surface - you could say that he teaches in parables. Anyone who reads his books, though, does not feel lectured to. Instead, you feel like you just spent a moment with someone wise and walk away a little more uplifted, a little more aware, a little more zen.

And can't we all use a little more of all of those things in our life?
♥ Melody

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Keep your eye on the prize::A sermon by The Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

I can't begin to tell you how much I love the words of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. I don't think he's said anything yet that I don't agree with. And love seems to pour from his sermons.

This sermon came after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Episcopal Church Executive Council: opening Eucharist sermon by Presiding Bishop Curry
November 15, 2015

The following is the sermon of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry presented at the opening Eucharist of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, currently meeting through November 18 at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD.

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Sermon at opening Eucharist

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Matthew 14:28-38

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

There’s an old gospel song:

Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

This was an old gospel song based on the text of Luke 9:62. This guy wanted to follow the Jesus way, but he had a few pre-conditions. He needed to do some things first, then he would follow. That provoked Jesus to say: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” The plowing just won’t go very well if you’re not looking where you’re going. Keep looking forward. Keep your eyes on the prize.

That’s what the song is saying:

Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

The title of Maya Angelou‘s book called Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now came from that song.

There are several stories about the apostles being on water and things happening. One moment it is peaceful and another moment there is a torrent.

There's a rather remarkable story about Jesus and those first of his followers, recorded in Matthew 14. The disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. For whatever reason Jesus wasn't with them. It's night. It's dark.

Now this was in the first century, remember, there were no electric lights, so when you’re on a boat a night on the sea, it’s DARK! I mean seriously DARK. All you’ve got are these little lanterns. And although I’ve been to the Sea of Galilee I haven’t seen a storm on that sea, but I’ve heard that on that particular sea conditions can change in an instant. One minute the sea is calm, then all of the sudden it gets frightening, dangerous, perilous. The winds begin to blow. And if you’re lantern blows out – it’s frightening.

The disciples are there in a storm. The thunder is rolling. And the lightning begins to flash. The waves beat upon them. And suddenly they are "crossing change waters," as the old song says. And Jesus is not there. They are alone. They do everything they know to do. But the storm could overwhelm them. He's a parable here.

Then off in the distance they see something -- a shape, a figure, a form. It's Jesus, walking on the water. And it comes closer. Then it begins to take shape. Closer. They can almost see a face. Then they see him in the mist. Jesus walking toward them in the midst of the storm. There's a parable here.

Everything is fine, and then a storm comes out of nowhere. And when the wind gets blowing. The wind will blow out the candles. This is the First Century and there is no light out there. It is dark.

They are scared.

Jesus is not there, but they need to keep going. Keep going.

Now to be honest, in one sense, to us reading the story centuries later, that's not a surprise, Jesus is able to walk on water. He’s the Lord, like the tag line in those Geico commercials, "it's what he does." He's supposed to be able to walk on water. But for Peter to join him out there? That’s surprising.

Peter is so overcome by seeing Jesus coming toward them in the midst of the storm, that he jumps out of the boat -- you know how we often talk about things out of the box? This brother goes beyond thinking out of the box, he jumps out of the boat. There's a parable here.

And Peter, not just Jesus, walks on the water. There's a parable here.

Notice how skillfully Matthew tells the story.

As long as Peter is focused on Jesus he does what he would not have done on his own.

He gets out of the box.

He jumps out of the boat.

And he walks on the water.

All of this while the storm is raging.

All of this passing through the danger waters.

And more than that, and this is what I think Matthew is really getting at, by being focused on Jesus, Peter is doing what Jesus is doing in the world at that moment.

As he is focused on Jesus, his feet are Jesus’ feet, his hands, the hands of Jesus, his heart, that of Jesus. He shares and does in that moment the work of Jesus. And he walks on the water.

But as soon as he is noticing the storm, he starts sinking. And it is only when he takes his eyes off of Jesus that he then panics and begins to sink. But as long as he is focused on Jesus, he walks on the water. He does what Jesus does in the world. Not only does Peter walk on water, he gets out of the boat to follow Jesus. When he does, he finds himself doing what Jesus did in the world.

This Jesus Movement is not something new. When we focus on Jesus, instead of on the storm. when we’re doing what he’s doing, rather than being afraid, our hearts and minds change – we are the body of Christ.

His heart is our heart. His life is our life.

That’s our strength.

Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, issued a profound public statement last night from Paris, in light of the horror of the murders there.

He and the people of Paris, the people of Europe are walking through a storm.

Here is what Bishop Whalon wrote:

But the question of their assassins concerns not only us here and now, but the whole human race. What word do we have for these people? Our first instincts are to demonize them. . . to label them as “Islamic fundamentalists” or some such, and cheer as the bombers carry out a massive campaign in retaliation. But this is too simple. It is not what Jesus would have us do. What he wants is harder.

When we baptize or confirm people, Episcopalians always repeat the promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people”… We need therefore to chart a way to make peace. Peace, not appeasement or total war. In order to be able to do that, we first need to turn back to Jesus and ask for help.

Bishop Whalon concluded with this prayer

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those Almighty hands of love.
♥ Melody

Monday, November 16, 2015

"People are always more important than the institutions they belong to."

If lots of hearts plastered all over a door is a loving gesture of a heart attack, then is plastering memes on a blogpost a photobomb?

I searched for a quote, and couldn't find a meme for it. Apparently, I have created an original quote. Here it is:
"People are always more important than the institutions they belong to."

Recently, a big named church created policy that has hurt a multitude of people. It has pulled families apart more than before. It has the potentiality to turn the hearts of the children against the parents, and tear the parents' hearts out of their chest.

It has already pushed a handful of people to such an emotionally damaging place that they committed suicide because they felt that their children would be better off without them.

PEOPLE are more important than institutions. Every. single. time.

Here is my photobomb of memes.

My baptismal covenants included mourning with those that mourn. Comforting those that stand in need of comfort. Proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself. Striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. And that is why I can't stay silent when I see people being hurt.

To any who are hurt: Come to Christ, not to a church that hurts you. There are groups of people, or a church in its true definition, who will accept you just as you are. Worship with them. Love God. Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. In other words, you have to love yourself, too. God loves you just as you are.

♥ Melody

Monday, November 2, 2015

"Let me see it through your eyes"::November 2

The Bishop's Daily

November 2 - Psalms 56, 57, 58, 64, 65; Nehemiah 6:1-19; Revelation 10:1-11; Matthew 13:36-43

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Matthew 13:36 NRSV)

According to the story the disciples did not understand the parable of the weeds. So they asked Jesus to explain it to them. My studies of the parables taught me that they were readily understandable to the hearers. Over time, however, as the church developed, the people lost touch with the social / cultural setting in which Jesus had lived. As such his parables could not be readily understood. (Like a joke that depends on a particular time and place to be understood and without which no one gets the humor.)

By the time they got around to setting the story of Jesus down into gospel narratives so much had changed that the parables needed to be explained. Unfortunately, the writers who collected the stories of Jesus and put them into the gospel form that we have, did not know what Jesus meant by them, so they created their own interpretations.

What I do like is the thought that the disciples, as depicted, did not hesitate to go to Jesus to help them understand what he meant. Since the parables often spoke of the Kingdom of God, I appreciate understanding the reign of God through Jesus. Because if we see the reign of God through Jesus then at the very same moment we do that, Jesus becomes the lens through which we see the world as well.

You see, when I look at the world I can get discouraged. There is so much that seems hopeless and bleak. But the eyes of love see goodness in people and places where my eyes see just the opposite.

As a disciple of Jesus then, I go to him and say, "Explain again to me this world and why you love it. Help me to do the same. Let me see it through your eyes."

The Bishop's Daily is written by The Right. Reverend Scott B. Hayashi, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

I needed to post this here so that I can reference it later. It really spoke to my soul. I hope that you enjoy it as well! :)

♥ Melody

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God::All Saints' Day 2015

One of my favorite songs.

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus' sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
And there's not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.

They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or in planes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.

Yes! And I mean to be one too.
♥ Melody

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Dressed up and Ready to Go::Michael::43/52::Halloween 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015

Scary Skeleton (Michael) - this is the first time Michael has ever wanted to wear a costume for Halloween. Usually, all I can manage to get him to wear is a Halloween T-shirt. (He did ditch the mask about a 1/2 hour into wearing it. Ah well, progress, not perfection. ;) )

He's my tortoise::Slow and steady wins the race.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Dressed up and Ready to Go::Grandkiddos::Halloween 2015

She said, "Cheese!"

Cute little girly :)

They went to a Halloween/Birthday Party at their Gr-Grandma's house tonight. I love these kids! <3

♥ Melody

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prayer of Humble Access::Sunday, October 25

At church, very often, after the prayer on the Eucharist bread and wine is said and I am waiting my turn to go to the rail, I read prayer #66 on page 834 of The Book of Common Prayer which reads,

"Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen."

Today, I saw that between the title ("Before Receiving Communion") and the prayer, there is a note saying, "See also the Prayer of Humble Access on page 337." This is that prayer:

"We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."


♥ Melody

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vulnerability by Brene Brown::Oct 22

I love this, and I love Brene Brown. Being your authentic self is very, very courageous.

♥ Melody

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Inspiring words about "Conflict" and "Tension"::October 18

"There are two words, at the beginning of the questions, which struck me, and they are words that one lives in everyday life, both in society and in the family. The words are “tension” and “conflict”. Magat Diop spoke of “tension” in family relationships, and Gregorius Hanzel talked about “conflicts”. Conflict. Let us think, what would a society, a family, a group of friends be like without tension and conflict? Do you know what it would be? A cemetery. Because only in dead things are there no tensions and no conflicts. When there is life, there is tension and there is conflict."

"To clarify this better: first, do not be afraid of tensions, because they make us grow; second, resolve tensions through dialogue, because dialogue unites, whether in the family or in a group of friends, and the path will be found to go on together, without losing one’s own identity..."
Pope Francis
("Pope Francis' Dialogue and Address With Eucharistic Youth Movement")

I love this passage! In my home, we talk about the hard things. We disagree, and occasionally raise our voices. We are trying, day by day, to keep the dialogue going. We are also trying, dialogue by dialogue, to learn how to be more empathetic and kind.

I have six children. One of my children has five children of his own. For now, four of my six children are living under my roof, including the son with five children and a wife. Sometimes, conflicts arise. At that time, dialogue is vital. Sweeping things under the rug only leads to lumpy rugs and rocky relationships.

I love the idea that dialogue can unite us while letting us keep our own identity.

My children are very diverse. Steve and I have taught them to think for themselves and to question everything.

Sometimes they questioned us. Sometimes they questioned their teachers. Sometimes they questioned the scriptures.

Sometimes I get defensive when they question me or the scriptures. Father Peter, my priest, has been such a great example of being unflappable about such things. He likes that people bring him their questioning thoughts; he says that he is glad that they are thinking. He, quoting another member of St. Mary's, says that the questions are more important than the answers.

I just finished a book by Rob Bell entitled, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. One quote that stuck with me is that “Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren't opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it's alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren't opposites, they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.”

It's true. Doubt makes you take your truths out and re-examine them from time to time. It makes you think about them. Faith should be alive, evolving, changing - adding and keeping what works and has proven good and discarding what doesn't and hasn't.

And yes, often we will hold contradictory beliefs at exactly the same time, because we are "large; [we] contain multitudes."

It is interesting to read books where the good guy only does and says good things and is never "bad". The bad guy, likewise, is BAD, and never good. The problem with that is that it doesn't give a realistic view of people. People are a mixture of bad and good. No one is entirely good, just as no one is entirely bad. We will hold conflicting ideologies in our head - it is just a given.

And as family, friends, and society, we will disagree with choices that our loved ones and our less-than-loved ones make. If we care about the relationship, we will have the dialogue.

So let's keep on talking, debating, disagreeing, and respecting each other in spite of and because we are different, and varied, and unique, and thinking.

Thank God that we are not all the same, seeing the world the exact same way, thinking and believing the same exact way. Thank God for new ways to look at things. It is what makes the world a bright and shiny place to live.

♥ Melody

Friday, October 9, 2015

"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."::Originally written on September 15

So, I've been thinking and pondering and wondering. Why is it important to me to put stories of our lives out in front of everyone rather than putting those things that cause discomfort on the back burner?

Years ago, I had a wart. It was BIG. It was also on my middle finger where everyone could see it. Well, they could have if I wasn't constantly putting my other hand in front of it to keep it out of sight.

One day, a little boy in church said, "Mom, what is on her finger?!" His mom, who was covered in tattoos, was so embarrassed and apologized for her son. I laughed on the inside because I had worried that my kids would do the same thing about her tattoos, but it was my wart that was loudly asked about instead.

She wore clothing that allowed her tattoos to show. I covered up my wart. In Utah, both things get a lot of attention by small children. ;)

When I was so self-conscious of my wart, I often paid more attention to covering it up than being present in the moment. I missed out on things.

Michael is a child that won't be covered up. Thank God for his robust personality that has shown me that people, for the most part, are loving and accepting. We haven't been able to take him for a quick trip to Walmart since he was 3 or 4 years old. Even though he couldn't talk, he would grab people's shirts and pull them toward himself so that he could hug them. Now, he "gets their nose". People are always telling me how loved Michael makes them feel, usually with tears in their eyes. He has been offered all sorts of gifts through the years, including a special ring a woman had gotten in Hawaii when her grandmother died. The latest present was a man's ballcap - Michael said that he liked the man's hat, so he gave it to Michael.

I have learned that things that are covered up and not talked about become huge sources of discomfort. It encourages gossip as people try to figure things out on their own. Just tell the truth! Just be yourself! Just live authentically! Just assume that even though people might be shocked at first, they just may be your biggest supporters! Just live.

A few days ago, I dropped the bombshell that Jared is transgender. That HE feels like a SHE. My blog has been receiving dozens of visitors, but no one is saying anything. It is disconcerting. It feels very much like when people at Walmart simply walk by Michael and stare and whisper. It feels so much better when people gently ask what happened. Or when they don't ask and simply start talking and playing with Michael. It was uncomfortable when a customer service worker asked Michael, as he sat in his wheelchair, if he was "playing a cripple" that day. It was uncomfortable for her when I told her his story and she realized that he has CP. But at least there was a discussion.

There are times that people that have assume that they know best for Michael though, and have told me point blank that I should be doing "x" instead of "y". That hasn't been helpful, though, since they don't have all of the information and inspiration, trial and error, successes and failures with him that I have.

Similarly with Jessica, she has been told (by churchs' doctrine and well meaning people) how deviating from the traditional sexual norm is bad, evil, a test, a trial, etc. etc. etc. and that she should put off those feelings and live as a man so that she can live with God someday - because if she acts on her feelings, she will never get to go back to God's presence because "no unclean thing" can be in the presence of God.

I call BS. She calls BS. That simply isn't the God that I believe in.

The God that I believe in is radically inclusive and allows everyone that wants to, to come into His presence. His grace is sufficient for EVERYONE. Even the harlots. Even the demon-possessed. Even the adulterers. And even the tax collectors. Jesus said that if you'd seen him, you'd seen the Father - people saw him and wrote about it. They were shocked at the company he kept! Especially the Pharisees were shocked! If you remember, though, the group of people that Jesus rebuked so heavily was the Pharisees - the ones who followed the law to a T and thought that they had everything in this life and the next figured out and often judged others harshly when they didn't/hadn't.

EVERYONE is a sinner! And EVERYONE is loved and valued and wanted by God.

I choose to believe in THAT God. So does Jessica.

I refuse to cover things up. Even if they appear to be a really BIG wart. Even if they are hard to explain. Even if it is not, as of yet, socially acceptable. God has put me in this place at this time with these people for a reason. I will bloom. I will thrive. I will celebrate.

My son did not kill himself because he felt "sinful". My son did not feel so ashamed that he buried his feelings and then tormented others with the same issues (yes, that happens). My son lived with his feelings & took those feelings out and examined them and re-examined them. He trusted Steve and me to love him and talked to us when he was 14. He trusted his siblings to love him and talked to them when he was 18. He trusted Ruth enough to love him that he talked to her. He talked to professionals about his feelings and asked them for help and direction. Now, he is living his authentic life as Jessica. Jessica went to church on Sunday. She doesn't believe that God is upset with her. She doesn't feel the need to be ashamed. For that, I am so thankful! For that, I rejoice! For that, I will celebrate!

On the wall above the staircase going to the basement of my house, we have a poster (the same picture at the top of this post) hanging up on the wall. “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.” Amen.

♥ Melody

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Walking the Labyrinth::September 30

(Written on Sunday, September 27)

Today, after I prepared the altar for Eucharist, I went out to the patio at St. Mary's and walked the labyrinth.

I started walking around, keeping my eyes to the ground and my mind on praying. As I made it about 1/3 of the way through, I noticed a cigarette butt in my pathway, so I picked it up. As I continued, another butt, so I picked it up too. A little farther in was a broken clasp to a backpack, so I picked it up. As I neared the outer edge, I saw that there was a plastic bag laying by the bush. When I picked up the bag, I saw some cardboard that someone had written a "will work for help" cardboard sign that had blown under the bush, so I picked it up. As I continued walking and thinking, I picked up the trash and put it in my bag. Then, when I thought I'd been gone too long and better get back inside so I was on time, I walked by the outside garbage can and threw away the bag full of garbage.

I realized that those moments had been an allegory.

I started the journey for myself: I wanted to quietly meditate and walk before the service started.

As I walked in, at first I was totally caught up in my own thoughts, but after praying for a while, I noticed some garbage that needed to be taken care of directly in my path.

As I walked more and more, the more and more ways I saw to serve. A bag was provided, and I continued to see ways to improve the courtyard while still continuing on my path.

Isn't that so much like life? The more we pray and the closer we try to be to God, the more we see the "garbage" that needs to be taken care of and ways to be of service. The more we serve, the more we see ways prepared for us to help us help others. And so on, and on, and on.

♥ Melody

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Reminder::September 29

The Problem:

The Solution:

"Faith can move mountains, but don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel."
~ author unknown

♥ Melody

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God, my strength and my redeemer::September 25

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God, my strength and my redeemer." ~ Psalms 19:14

Those are the words that Peter, my priest, says before every sermon he gives. That scripture, and his example, has made me be more thoughtful about what I say, as well.

"Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

This prayer is found in the morning devotions, and I find myself more and more asking God for those same things as I interact with my children, my husband, my church discussion group, and my book club group, as well as with others that I come in contact with from day to day.

I also include a petition to help me keep my heart and mind open.

Important stuff.

Sometimes we (read: I) get so caught up in a conversation and a desire to say the things from my heart in such a way that won't block someone else, or perhaps I need to keep my heart open because someone is saying something that could really hurt my feelings if I let it (they aren't intentionally being rude, sometimes things are said that make us/me defensive, even though they don't mean it that way. If they were intentionally trying to be rude and hurt my feelings, I'd excuse myself from the conversation, hopefully before I returned harsh words.) but I'm unsure of what to say. I say a small prayer in my mind and heart and then proceed to try to get those thoughts out, hoping that the other person will understand the things that I'm saying in the same spirit that I'm intending them to be heard.

Lately I have been repeating the mantra to keep my heart and mind open a lot.

Sometimes it is hard to know the right things to say in each situation. Sometimes, God only knows what the person needs to hear to be comforted. That is why I love Peter's style of praying for guidance of his words. That is why I love the morning devotions prayer. And that is why I pray to keep my heart open.

My dad says that my life is a 3 ring circus; he knows me well. ;) Because of that, I have to live as close to the Lord as I possibly can, because I don't know the things that all of my monkeys need to hear, but He does.

Have a blessed day.
♥ Melody

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

God bless you::September 23

Yesterday I saw a person begging on the street corner. My usual response is to look away and pretend I didn't see. Don't stare, you know, it's not polite - unfortunately, that same adage of virtue can be a vice when we cease to see the people behind the traumatic scene.

As I approached, I thought of what my priest, Peter, has said about people who come to the church looking for money. Sometimes the church doesn't have enough money to really make a difference in a person's crises of a life. Sometimes the only thing to say is, "God bless you."

To look at someone and know that you don't have any money to give, whether it is because plastic has become the new currency, or because we ourselves are in the middle of our own financial crisis, is a hard thing. It is much easier to look away and pretend that everything is fine in your world.

One of the baptism commitments is to see Christ in all persons and to try to seek and serve them. It is much easier to see Christ in the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or any other good religious leader. It is easy to see Christ in the person who pays it forward. It is easy to see Christ in the firefighters, the police, or any other public servant. It is more difficult to see him in the homeless, the gay, the transgendered, the addict. It is easy to love loveable, socially accepted people! It is trickier to love the mentally ill, destitute, or those who do things contrary to what we deem as righteous.

So, as I approached this woman, this daughter of God and daughter of two mortals somewhere who love her, I chose to see her. I chose to ask God's blessing to be upon her. "God bless you!" is what I called out my window. She returned a blessing right back at me, loud and vocal, "God bless you too!"

I hope that she felt my concern that I had for her. I hope that she knew that I was giving the best that I could at that particular moment. I hope that she felt seen, respected, and validated. And I hope that God blesses her through others to have the things that she needs.

God bless you, too.
♥ Melody

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Traci Schmidley's article, "Are You Really Pro-Life?"::September 19

This is one of the most thought provoking, well written, and well articulated blog posts I have ever read. YES! YES! YES! to all of it:

Are You Really Pro-Life?
Written by Traci Schmidley
Original article can be found (here)

I went to the supermarket today. I brought along five children. Yes, somewhat stupid I know, but my husband was with me, and after having ten children for a season, we tend to get a bit over confident in our kiddo management skills. Husband saw a friend he hadn’t seen for a while, and knowing that time was a bit tight, I proceeded to the check out. You know the scene that unfolded in the next few minutes: Most of you have probably lived it. The 7 month old I was holding got hungry and started clawing at my shirt trying to nurse. The 1.5 year old tried to grab candy that I wouldn’t let her have and starting wailing. (No, she is not spoiled. Sometimes, 1.5 year olds cry loudly. I promise that sometimes, regardless of how awesome a parent you are, they just do.) The 2.5 year old was trying to help his 6 & 8-year-old brothers put the groceries on the belt, and of course, he dropped the container of blueberries, which spilled all over the floor. To top it all off, I had WIC coupons for our foster daughter, and I grabbed the wrong cheese (I swear it was labeled WIC approved!), so the cashier had to call someone to come figure it all out.

I apologized to the people in line behind me. I hated to be that woman — that mess of a mom whose kids are out of control. One lady down the line shrugged her shoulders at me to say, “Hey, I get it. We have all been there.” But the couple immediately behind me had a different perspective. The man looked at the woman and said in a voice much too loud, “Some people should stop having kids.” Judging from her facial expressions and audible sighing and huffing, I can reasonably guess that she agreed with him.

Yes, I know how it looked. I was standing there by myself holding government free food coupons with 5 young children of two different races, and I myself look even younger than I am, which is young. I looked irresponsible. Nobody could know I was married, and that all foster children under the age of 5 receive WIC. Regardless of stereotypes and my appearance in that moment, my mind was absolutely blown when I saw the couple get into their vehicle that had a single bumper sticker on the back. The bumper sticker said — pro-life.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that same couple was pro-life.

In my simplistic thinking it makes sense that if you agree with the view that life begins at conception, you must also agree with the view that life doesn’t end at birth. Therefore, being pro-life shouldn’t be just about supporting a child’s rights during their nine months in-utero but should also be about supporting the children’s (and their mother’s) lives after they are born.

That snot covered, sticky fingered, wailing toddler is that same little clump of cells that you took a stand for. Why stop loving them when they are big enough to talk back, run off, and throw a fit? How you can tell a woman to choose life, when your comments, mannerisms, and lack of action toward a struggling mother are everything but supportive?

If you encounter a mother trying her best to deal with a child throwing a fit and your first thought is “Someone needs to teach that momma and that child a lesson!” I am not sure you are really pro-life.

If you encounter a family who is using government assistance to provide nourishing food for a child and your first thought is “Stupid welfare mongrels. My taxes buy that!” I am not sure you are pro-life.

If you encounter a couple who has more children than you decided to have and you think to yourself, “What ignorant, selfish people. Don’t they know what causes that?” I find it hard to believe you are really pro-life.

Let me take this a step further into really sticky political water:

If you hear about the unaccompanied children crossing the border and if you know that their parents were so desperate for them to simply have a chance at life, they urged them to risk death to run for freedom, and your reply is, “Damn, illegals. Let’s build a wall!” I need to ask you, are you really pro-life? Their mothers chose to give them life in the most impossible of situations, and if they do not escape that life, they will almost certainly die. Again, I ask you, are you sure you are pro life?

Choosing life is hard for so many women, because they know just how hard raising that life is. It is an overwhelming pressure to want to give an innocent child the world, especially when this world is so ugly and broken. All mothers, even moms with planned pregnancies feel that pressure. Imagine the fear, isolation, and trepidation you would feel if you are pregnant in a situation in which you are totally unprepared for. So, if you are going to tell a mom to choose life, than you also need to be willing to support her in the life that will follow her courageous choice, because life will sometimes, maybe often, be hard. How can you be adamantly pro-life but then be unwilling to do anything to help those lives out?

I wonder what would happen if we as a pro-life people, rather than rely on bumper stickers to spread our message, begin to rely on our actions. It’s not complicated. It’s the simple things, like how about we help some children in front of us pick up some spilled blueberries? How about we help a mom who has her hands full put some grocery bags into the buggy? How about we use our words to tell moms “Hang in there! You’re doing the best you can, we all see that.” Let us spread grace, understanding, empathy, and compassion to the families we encounter around us to send a message to women who are considering abortion, “We will be here for you and your child. We will help you. We will love you.” Let our pro-life stance be more than a slogan but a lifestyle — a lifestyle of supporting life, even when it’s covered in poop screaming at the top of it’s healthy little, living, lungs that an abortion clinic did not get to harvest. Let’s not just gather at prayer rallies and abortion protests, but let’s call up our neighbor and offer to babysit, bring by a meal, or simply offer an encouraging word. Let’s be a united, supportive village to help raise all of these children we are begging women to give birth to rather than abort. How about adoption? Yes! Absolutely! We need to be willing to do that, too! I won’t even allow myself to start in on that topic. Pro life should not mean pro nine months. Pro life should really mean pro life.

♥ Melody

Friday, September 18, 2015

Daily Devotions::September 18

In the Book of Common Prayer, there are daily devotions for individuals to be read at different parts of the day: Morning, Noon, Evening, Bedtime.

Here are a few of my favorite readings/prayers:

Open my lips, O Lord,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought
us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty
power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by
adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your
purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring
forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I
am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still,
help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it
patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit
of Jesus. Amen.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all of the worlds.

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is
past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and
awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in the
Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake
of your love. Amen.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the
enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in
peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
♥ Melody

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Genderbread Person::September 16

Years ago, I had no idea that a boy could feel like a girl, or that a girl could feel like a boy. There were men called drag queens who liked to dress like women, I'd heard of them, but beyond that, I was clueless.

Even when Jared first told me that he felt like he was a girl, I had no idea that was even a thing.

I'm so thankful that he was born exactly when he was, because paths are being open to the LGBTQ more now than ever before. And even though Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner doesn't do education well, and sometimes muddles things even more, people are more aware now than ever about transgendered people.

It is getting much more commonplace to hear about sexual orientation and sexual identity. A few weeks ago, I saw this Genderbread Person on a blog that I follow. I saved it, because I knew it would come in handy. :)

People are complex and no two are alike. As for me, I've never been a girly-girl. I was raised in Wyoming for a time and saw strong women who could run their ranch by themselves just fine, thank you. Their examples were some that I followed most. I love working outdoors much more than indoors. I don't mind getting dirty or working hard. I stayed home with my children because I felt that was best for them; I would have been a career woman otherwise. I never called my girls "princesses" - to me that nickname was synonymous with needing others to take care of them, and I was raising self-sufficient daughters.

Who would have known that my third-born, boy by birth, would be more girly than I am? (though it isn't hard, trust me. ;) ) Today she told me that there were a lot of girls at work who want to "do her nails." She thinks it's "cute". LOL I think it's creepy and want no other female anywhere near my fingernails. :)

I wear men's t-shirts because women's t-shirts are too form fitting, and I hate that! I wear sneakers, loafers, and flip flops, and you will never catch me wearing stiletto high heels! I wear jeans, sweats, or yoga pants. I'll wear dress pants/slacks to church and to do a photoshoot. I will wear a dress when I have to - but the last time I had to was last year at Josh and Hayley's wedding. (Though if I could find a jumper like I bought a couple of decades ago in Tennessee, I'd wear it in the summertime! It was a perfect cotton dress that I could wear Keds, loafers, or flip flops with. ;) )

So, Jessica realizes that women and men can present themselves however the heck they want to. But she reminds me that I simply don't understand, and she's right. I don't understand how the "wrong" genitalia can give you anxiety or feel despair. I've never felt that in my life.

There is so much to gender identity that happens in the brain. It really has very little to do with genitals, in fact. Which again, I don't understand, but I totally am aware of.

Back in the 80's we called people fags, faggots, and gay in place of idiot, creep, and stupid. We don't do that anymore. Education has happened and empathy for others has given us a better understanding. (There might still be the "EW!" factor when we see boys kissing boys or girls kissing girls on television, but I assume that homosexuals feel that same "EW!" factor with hetorsexual kisses.)

The same way that our understanding of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals has grown since 1980, our understanding of transgendered people will also grow as we begin to recognise and meet more members of our communities and own families that feel this way. Empathy and respect is bound to improve and grow.

And for now, we can learn from the Genderbread Person. :)

♥ Melody

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

::September 15

I saw this and thought it was very appropriate :)

Have a good day!
♥ Melody

Monday, September 14, 2015

Words of Affirmation, Kindness, and Peace

It is always difficult to talk about hard things. Things that you know some will judge unkindly. Things that expose you to your core.

But often in life, it is necessary.

When hard things shake me to my core, I turn to sage advice. Interestingly enough, often such wisdom is found in quotes on facebook. I gather these little gems and save them for moments in which they apply. Today happens to be one of those days; I hope that these can inspire you as well.

♥ Melody