Friday, December 30, 2016

Detaching with Love

Today, I read something in Madeleine L'Engle's book, "A Circle of Quiet," that really resonates with things I've been learning in Al Anon.

On page 118, she writes,
"It takes a tremendous maturity, a maturity I don't possess, to strike the balance of involvement/detachment which makes us creatively useful, able to be compassionate, to be involved in the other person's suffering rather than in our response to it."
The first time I encountered this idea was in the Detachment bookmark that I was given on my first visit to Al Anon:

It is something that I struggle with daily, but when I make things all about me, it causes all sorts of sickness, mental and physical. It is only when I have detachment with love that I am able to be of value in someone else's life.
♥ Melody

Sunday, December 18, 2016

down deep to my core

Years ago, I first heard Macklemore's, "Same Love," and I felt it down to my core. Nope, I'm not gay; I'm about as hetero as you can get, but I am also someone who believes deeply in others' rights, in the realization that people are born gay, in the belief that love is love.

I saw the video and heard the song, "Drug Dealer" a few months ago. Since Steve's addiction started that exact way, I feel that one deep down to my core, too.

Then, a few days ago on "Ellen", I saw his latest song, "Wednesday Morning," and yep, you guessed it, right down to my core.

Thank God that someone can write and sing songs that resonate with my soul - it is always comforting to know that someone understands my feelings. ♥

These are deep, deep thoughts. Important messages. Heavy. Oh so heavy.

So, here's one to lighten the mood. One that I love to listen to; ("Thrift Shop") it always puts a smile on my face. (Don't worry, it's the clean version :) )

♥ Melody

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Inn, and other uncomfortable thoughts.

I just posted this to my facebook wall:

Today, as I waited for my turn to go up and get Eucharist (Communion), I read this prayer in the Book of Common Prayer:
#37, For Prisons and Correctional Institutions
Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal:
Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment.
Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance
and amendment of life according to your will, and give them
hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them
release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice.
Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them
humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming
brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison,
O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All
this we ask for your mercy's sake. Amen.
I love it. Seeing Christ in ALL people is difficult sometimes, but it is good to have reminders.

I had another insight today, too. As I was driving to church, I got a call from a fellow parishioner asking for a ride. I felt badly, but I was running late and needed to have the Altar set up by the time people started arriving to church, so I apologetically said no.
My thoughts turned to the "no room in the inn" thoughts and "seeing Christ in all people" thoughts and I felt horrible.
Then I started really, really thinking about the "no room in the inn" thing. If the inn really was filled up, wasn't it a kindness that the innkeeper offered up his barn? 
After church, our deacon, Sandra, was in the Sacristy with me as I was finishing up the cleaning up the Altar - washing the Chalice and putting everything away. 
I brought up the inn situation. Her thoughts on the matter was one I hadn't ever thought of before.
"The inns back in Jesus' day weren't like Motel 6 today," she started out saying. People had to share rooms; they may not even know each other, and they didn't separate men from women. It was a kindness that Mary did not have to deliver her baby in such a space. The barn was a blessing.
We also talked about the difference between "nice" and "kind". Nice may be enabling (making life worse for people in the long run); "'Nice' is the fodder for terrorism," is what Peter+ says.
"Kind" is trying to do the right thing, even if it doesn't feel very nice; it is not jumping in to rescue people; it is holding boundaries to protect yourself, while taking care of others in a healthy way.
I'm going to leave this right here and not tidy it up and add a bow on top. Sometimes epiphanies left open-ended can be a springboard for even more awareness later.
♥ Melody

Friday, November 4, 2016

Vanity Card # 541 from Chuck Lorre Productions

Steve & I just watched yesterday's The Big Bang Theory on the CBS website. I love the "Vanity Cards" that Chuck Lorre writes, so I paused, read, LOVED, and shared. Enjoy!

♥ ♥ ♥
Don't be fooled. Big Daddy can't save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves. Within our own ingenuity and determined effort. "Make America great again" is a bumper sticker for victimhood. But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system's rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won't let us join your club? %#&@ you, we'll start our own club. You won't let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we'll start our own school. You won't let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we'll earn it our way. You won't give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.

LOVE it! Yes, yes, yes!
♥ Melody
P.S. Don't be a victim. You create your reality.

I found it!

So this is crazy: I found a bag full of clothes. I opened it and it had a shirt that I thought was just gone gone gone; the pair of jeans was a size or two ago; and the receipts in the back pocket are from 2009.... where the hell was this bag for 7 years?

What a weird thing to have happen! So glad for the shirt to be back! It was the shirt I bought when my son, Ammon, was born and died in Jan. '99 - it is still one of my favs even though it is faded and old.

What a crazy life!
♥ Melody

Pressing on and Pushing forward

I stay away from here a lot nowadays. To be honest, my life has felt very difficult, as of late.

In 2014, Steve came out as an addict. My concerns about addiction from his ongoing pain pill prescriptions from the doc (d@mn negligent doctor(s)!) were confirmed. 

Jessica and Ashton (previously Jared and Emily) came out as transgender.

Josh got divorced. Amber got divorced.

And my own issues with the LDS church and then leaving the fold happened.

My Priest told me that scandal is another name for a stumbling block, and boy has my life been full of them. 

Now, on the flip side, Steve is in recovery.

Jessica and Ashton are in group therapy, navigating their way through prejudices and change.

Josh is remarried to a sweet lady that I love.

Karen is engaged to a great guy who is good to my grandbabies.

Amber is expecting and is engaged to a wonderful guy.

Tino has found a lady that he loves.

And I have found a safe home in the Episcopal Church.

Life happens. Then life happens with those life happenings.

I can't always be forthcoming with the "stuff" in my life as I have been because most of the time it involves another person's in my life stuff. That is hard for me.

I am working as an office administrator at my church. My babysitter, Ashton, quit and is now moving to Washington State, so Michael goes to work with me. He loves people and loves to tease them by getting their noses. Most people love Michael and get his nose right back! :) It is a tricky situation, but I very much feel that I need to stay in permanent retirement from being a stay at home mom - too bad there's no retirement program for stay at home moms; I put in 25 years.

I am in the process of going back to college. Though it makes me nervous to go back to school at 46, I have always admired people who go back to school when they are even older than that (I keep reminding myself... ;) ) I am working toward an associates degree in Early Childhood Education. There is no money in it, and to be honest I keep thinking that I should go into something that actually pays a decent salary... but I can't turn away from this. I've tried! And I keep being nudged back to it. 

I have no idea what I'll get my bachelor's in - it will probably present itself after I finish the first step. What a surprise it will be! (Have I ever mentioned that I detest surprises? ;) )

Life is: fine. busy. exhausting at times. But I have life. Being on this side of the ground looking down always makes the day better. 

That I have survived many heartbreaks in the past few years. 
That Steve's & my marriage is still intact. 
That Karen and Josh and Amber and Tino have all found someone that they love. 
That Steve is clean and sober. 
That Jessica has navigated through one full year of presenting as a woman and is still very pleased with that choice. 
That Ashton is still alive and still looking for solutions and possibilities to make her life better. 
That I have a job that I love. 
That Matthew is 16 and is learning to adult very well - he bought a car within his income level and price range; he pays for his own insurance, for registration, for fixes to his car ALL ON HIS OWN. He registered his car all by himself, too. He is doing so well!
That Michael is getting better everyday at getting up and getting ready to go to work with me - "Hi ho, hi ho!"
That I can still see and express things to be grateful for. 

I hope that all is well with you!
♥ Melody

Friday, August 19, 2016

This is God's table. I am God's child. Give me my bread::August 19

I was reading Barbara Brown Taylor's book Home by Another Way a couple of nights ago, and I came upon a quote that resonated with me and still makes me excited two days later.

She was springboarding off of the scripture in Luke 24 wherein the resurrected Jesus tells the disciples to look at his hands and feet. He wanted them to touch them, to look at them, to realize that he was not a ghost but a resurrected being with flesh and bone. He wanted them to know that he was back. That whom they were looking at was he, himself.

Barbara was an Episcopal priest, and this book is a compilation of some of her sermons. Every week, as a Priest, she celebrated Eucharist (Communion) with her congregation, so as she told the story of Jesus, she likened it to them a bit. She said, "I could identify some of you by your hands, I think. I have had the privilege of putting brown bread into them over the past two years, and I know some of them by heart. I don't know which ones I like better: the hand with some wear and tear on them, who have some clue what this meal cost, or the little children's hands who reach out and take it entirely for granted. This is God's table. I am God's child. Give me my bread."

That last line sums up how I feel about a relationship with God, and it is the springboard to some of my own thoughts.

In some churches, if you are "unworthy", you are not allowed to partake of communion. This brings me to my point: either we are ALL unworthy, or we are ALL worthy through grace. There is no other choice, for there is no way we can possibly be worthy on our own. Another thought: human judgement of another's sin and finding some worthy and some unworthy is a hefty form of cherry picking. ONE sin is all that keeps you from heaven. One. And we aren't just talking about the biggies like adultery and theft here. It could be a lie. It could be gossip. It could be a mean thing that you said when someone cut you off in traffic. One.

I prefer to take the grace side. After all, God is so perfect that our good works appear to Him to be nothing more than filthy rags anyway, so says Isaiah.

So when any human pronounces judgement on another and tries to keep communion from them, I hope that they remember theses words:
"This is God's table. I am God's child. Give me my bread."


"Judgement is mine, sayeth the Lord."

So, give me my bread.
♥ Melody

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Water Play::Sunday, June 26

Em, Matt, Michael & I went on an adventure this afternoon. We started by playing in the creek up Hobble Creek Canyon and ended by playing at Wayne Bartholomew Park. Steve joined us for a little while at Bartholomew Park; he wasn't feeling well today so he didn't stay long.

In the creek, I wanted a turn floating on the tube... until I flipped it over and got completely wet. Oh bother! LOL My hair, that I had worked hard on to make it look nice, was completely drenched. Emily went to "fluff it up a little" right afterward - I said, "Don't touch it! Maybe after it dries it will look like it did before." Her eyes got big and the look on her face was very serious as she shook her head vigorously. LOL She made me laugh! Her reaction alone may have made the situation worth it. :)

The kids all thought my faux pas was hilarious, and apparently I still scream like a little kid. Michael kept asking me all afternoon, "Mommy, did you fall?" and he'd laugh and laugh. Turkey!

Memories were made, and we had a great time with each other; that was exactly what I was trying for. (Although I had no intentions of making "Remember the time Mom flipped over on the tube?" memories. ;) )

♥ Melody

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brother Bill::June 24

On the left: Bill, just a few days before he passed. On the right: Me sitting in the same place I'd sat for the past two days - what a blessing it was to sit next to him and comfort him in his last, few hours.

My brother, Bill, died last Tuesday, on Flag Day.

He died much more suddenly than any of us thought he would.

On the day before he died, I went to see him. He had been mostly unresponsive since Sunday, occasionally trying to speak or give meaningful looks.

On Monday, as I sat by his bedside, I talked to him at times, or I read my book and patted his chest at other times. I was there for about an hour in the early morning. The nurses had warned us that at some point in the next few days, he'd slip into a coma before he passed away.

That Monday morning gave me closure. He tried to smile at me, but it was very fleeting, much like a babies. He was unable to move much of his body, only using his arms to scootch a little in bed if he got too uncomfortable. His eyes were the most expression of how he felt and what he thought.

As I went to leave for work, I gave him a hug and decided to turn my cheek to his lips as I kissed him on the cheek as well - I didn't know if he could or even wanted to kiss my cheek, but I offered it. He kissed me. My heart melted and I felt peace. That was exactly what I needed.

Often, in the last few days since he passed, I recall the fleeting smiles and the kiss on the cheek and my heart is filled with gratitude for the small mercies of life.

Steve, our kids, and I sang, "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" a capella at his funeral on Saturday. My kids were worried that we wouldn't sound very good. I reminded them that every Christmas Eve for the past decade, Uncle Bill joined us in singing Christmas Hymns and Carols - he knew exactly how we'd sound, and he was the only person we were singing for.

This hymn is one of my all time favorites, and I usually only choke out a few words here and there as it is being sung because it stirs up feelings and soothes my heart and soul all at the same time.

Thank God for tender little mercies amidst the difficult times. And may God bless and welcome Bill into His kingdom, where he can find peace and rest with all of our loved ones.

♥ Melody

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sing to the Lord a new song::May 29

Have you ever felt like this?
Psalm 137:
1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.

2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.

3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a foreign land?

Sometimes life changes. Sometimes we don't love those changes, and then, all to often, we have to change too, and that is never comfortable.

Today in church, this Psalm was read:
Psalm 96:
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!

2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!

4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!

9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

After this scripture, we sang this song: (Episcopal Hymn #412)

Everyone can sing to the Lord a song, no matter what your song may be.

How will you sing your new song to the Lord?
♥ Melody

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eucharistic Minister::May 22

Me putting on my alb & getting ready for Eucharist.

This is what I wrote on facebook tonight:
Today I had the opportunity to do something wonderful. I was able to give communion to my husband. I got choked up when I said, "The blood of Christ; the cup of salvation."

I never would have thought, 2 years ago, when I started questioning everything I'd believed in for so many years, that I would safely land in the Episcopal Church and be offering the chalice of wine to my fellow parishioners. God is kind. ♥

♥ Melody

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Seeking and Serving Christ in all People::Pat::March 26

Before I ever met Pat, the teddy bear strapped to the back of his bicycle made me smile. I was glad to meet him and talk with him and offer a "God bless you" to him.

Tonight, as Steve, Matt and I said prayers, we read this story from the Episcopal Relief & Development's 2016 Lenten Meditations and it made me get a lump in my throat. By this definition, I saw Jesus today.

Saturday, March 26, pp. 60:

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and
his love is perfected in us.
—1 John 4:12

Around noon every day I leave the office to get something to eat.
I usually bring back a sandwich to eat at my desk.

This daily activity is impossible to do in midtown Manhattan
where I work without being reminded of the reality of poverty and
homelessness even in the midst of phenomenal wealth. It’s a little
disconcerting. Isn’t that just like Jesus to be disconcerting? The
homeless and the poor are Jesus after all. That is where Jesus
said we would meet him.

So, occasionally I take Jesus to lunch. As I walk by the church
around the corner where homeless people congregate, I ask Jesus if
he (or she) would like something to eat. Sometimes there’s just one
Jesus there; sometimes, a few. Then I go buy Jesus a sandwich. One
day I’m going to take Jesus to lunch somewhere nicer. Or maybe
Jesus will take me.

To tell you the truth, I don’t bring sandwiches to homeless people
to feed them so much as I do it to meet Jesus in person.

I wonder if taking Jesus to lunch might open up some new ways
for you to meet Jesus, too.
—Stacy F. Sauls

This is what I wrote earlier in the day about the picture:

Pat stopped by for Holy Saturday service today. He left with a cup of hot coffee, anything from the Garden of Warmth (clothing, blankets, coats) that fit and he wanted, conversations with Fr. Peter, Heidi Memmott, and Melody Oliphant, and an invitation to come back whenever he'd like. His smile tells me that he was treated with respect & dignity.

At St. Mary's, this is how we follow Christ's commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves and seek and serve Him in all people.

God bless you, Pat.

♥ Melody

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Link to a blog post by Jon Ogden::February 24

"Sad Mormon Heaven and Mr. Rogers’ Wager: How a belief in Sad Heaven prevents happiness right now," written by Jon Ogden. Here's the (link)

I like the Mr. Rogers' wager best, btw.

One more thing I'd like to share is a prayer I found in the Book of Common Prayer on page 831, it is prayer #54 entitled, "For those we love"
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to use to thy never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a wonderful day! I like you just the way you are! :)
♥ Melody

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Imposition of Ashes / Ash Wednesday

Steve, Michael, & I at Ash Wednesday Services last year

I missed The Imposition of Ashes / Ash Wednesday Service today, so I read through it on my own. I can't get through it without tears. The love that God has for us is so great; it is a gift of grace, unearned and undeserved.

If you'd like to read through, I highly recommend it. Liturgy is a beautiful ritual. Click (here) for the link to the service.

(Here) is a video of The Imposition of Ashes taken to the streets of New York City.

Lent is such a wonderful way to lean into the darkness of life knowing that light, resurrection, and hope lies just around the corner.

Here are two wonderful articles about helping children (and perhaps even yourself) understand Lent a little better and appreciate it a little more:

"Talking With Kids About the Hard Stuff in Lent", by Ben Irwin (click here)

"Why Grow Christians?", by Nurya Love Parish (click here)

♥ Melody

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jessica Kimberly Ann::January 8th 2016

A few months ago I wrote of a transformation going on in my family.

I told Jared's story, of how since puberty, "he" had felt like a "she". Well, today in the eyes of the law, she is a "she".

Jessica went to court today with her attorney to petition the judge to change her gender markings and her name. The judge approved it based on evidence from Jessica's gynecologist & therapist.

So, as of today, January 8th, it is official: I am the mother of a beautiful daughter named Jessica Kimberly Ann.

I am so proud of her for being brave enough to become her authentic self and to do it with the grace, poise, and kindness that she has always possessed.

I love this child with all my heart; I always have and always will. Her heart is the same heart; her spirit the same spirit; her personality the same personality. While there are a great many changed, there is the foundation that has always been there, and I am very grateful for the patience and respect she has had for me and others as we grow alongside of her.

♥ Melody