Thursday, March 31, 2011

Le Poem - By Melany

Today it's a pretty dreary day outside.

Dreary days really affect my mood.

I love sunshine.  I makes me smile.

Right now it is cold and gray outside.  Where are you spring?!?!?

So today, on this dreary Thursday a phrase came to my mind... "I will not fret.  I will not frown.  My smile will not turn upside down."

I thought to myself, "Lookie there.  I do believe that is a poem in the making."  Even though I am not a poetry writer and the last attempt was probably in high school (and we will not talk about how long ago that was), the following lines came out in a few minutes.  It's sort of silly, but I thought that I would share anyway because it brought a little bit of happiness into my dreary day.

Le Poem (because I did not take the time to come up with a better name)

I will not fret.
     I will not frown.
My smile will not turn upside down.

I will not sulk.
     I am not sunk.
I will not get into a funk.

Though it may seem
     the day is gray
I will smile through anyway.

Because I know
    that through it all
my God comes through and I'll stand tall.

- So there you have it.  My little "Le Poem".  It's about more than weather.  It encourages me that no matter what may be going on, it really is all going to be ok.  I can smile on the outside even though things may not be so wonderful within.  I feel like I need to follow that statement by letting you know that things are really ok within right now... nobody get worried about me :-)

There have been times in my life when my smile has not necessarily reached within.  I think that may be a unique gift of mine - to be able to smile when I don't really even feel it.  But, it is also important to have those people in life who know about those "I don't feel like smiling" moments.  So, it's ok for me to smile when I don't feel like smiling.  It is also ok for me to not smile and allow myself the vulnerability to be real.  Does that make sense?

At the risk of rambling on and on and on I am going to close this post with a :-) ... because that is just what I feel like doing right now :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feel the burn

Feel the burn.  It's an expression that we relate to working out.  You know that when your muscles are hurting it's a sign of a good workout.  My favorite workout burn is when I work out my core and then for days, every time I laugh (which is pretty much all the time) it hurts my stomach.  Unfortunately, you can take one look at me and realize that this does not happen very often, but that is a completely different story :-)

And then there are those times you take it a little too far and pull something and then your body tells you "...oops, too much.  Now you have to rest."

I thought of that phrase "Feel the burn" today, but in a different context.  Sometimes life sends situations and circumstances that burn.  You spend time working it out and it hurts.  Sometimes it hurts really bad and you may think that you will never be able to move again.  But what is happening is that you are becoming stronger.  Your heart, mind, and soul is at work to strengthen you.  In the end you are a stronger person for it.

There are also times when life also seems to throw a strained muscle our way.  I think these are the times when we have permission to take a break and seek a little "physical therapy".  Seeking help from others does not mean we are weak - it means we are a community.  And then sometimes there is the need to bring in the professionals and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So if you are "feeling the burn" today, turn your mind to the fact that you are becoming stronger.  Glean from the lessons of life and lean into the One who is the true source of strength in hard times.  God is ALWAYS by our side and ALWAYS has our best on His heart.  He ALWAYS give us the opportunity to use the hard times for growth.  He is ALWAYS good.  It might burn, but that burn will not last forever.  Press in to Him and press on to a stronger you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

When family history meets "The Goonies"

Tonight is one to go down in the books for me as something to never forget.

I had a very eye opening conversation with my mom tonight.  Our talk turned toward the past and my biological father.  I am sure that many of you probably don't know that I am half adopted.  My mother had me at a very young age and my biological father was not ready to be a dad.  I have not seen him since I was four years old.  When I was four, my mother began dating the man who has now adopted me as his daughter.  We don't talk about the fact that he is not my biological father and my sister and I would balk if you tried to call us half sisters (we would actually say "We're not half sisters - we're whole!!").  My dad is my dad and my sister is my sister and that is really the only way it has ever been.  I am oh so completely grateful for the man that made the choice to be my dad.  Joe Pritchard did not have to adopt me.  He could have just been my stepdad, but he went the extra mile.  He adopted me as his daughter and he really is the only dad that I know.

So, there is a piece of my history missing.  For many years as a teenager that plagued me and I felt many feelings of abandonment and harbored lots of resentment towards my biological father.  Tonight I learned a lot that leads me to believe that there was so much that I simply just did not understand.

There is another man out there whose blood run through my veins.  I have not known that man for many years, but things have been recounted to me through stories.  I think that tonight I had finally arrived at a place to be able to see my father through different eyes...eyes that are filled with more grace and mercy than I have possessed in the past.

Tonight my mom reminded me of what a talented man my father was.  He was a gifted writer who once submitted a poem to a contest only to have it returned to him because it was so good that it was questioned whether or not he actually wrote it.  He had beautiful blue eyes and an amazing smile.  He had a soft heart and an amazing laugh.  He was a man that my mom once loved.  But, he was a man that got mixed up with bad company.  His life took a destructive path that ultimately led to using and dealing drugs.

I was thinking after my conversation with my mom tonight about all the unmet potential in my biological father.  Here was a man who had talent - talent recognized by others, but nothing became of it.  My mom had talked about all of the positive qualities that he possessed that now live in me.  The eyes, the smile, the contagious laugh, the soft heart.  These are some of my best qualities but I believe that in me they shine differently.

You see, my path has taken a different course.  I have chosen love and life.  I have chosen to live for God.  My eyes and smile reveal the light of the world.  My contagious laugh is a spreader of joy - true joy.  My soft heart compels me to move with love and compassion in a world of hurt.  Those positive qualities from my biological father are in me and through my life they are redeemed to be what God intends.

And then there is the writing.  On more than one occasion in the last few months, it has been said to me that I have a way with words.  In the past people have told me that I communicate well and that I am a good writer.  This is not me boosting myself up, but just recounting what others have said.  When I think on it, I realize that perhaps there is another gift of my biological father that has been passed to me.  While it may have been unmet potential in his life, I want to redeem it.  I want to take the words and whatever gift for writing that may be there, and use them for good.

On my way home tonight I thought about a scene from my all time favorite movie "The Goonies".  It is the scene when they stumble upon the wishing well and start gathering all the coins.  When they realize that they are at a wishing well Stef says, "Wait, wait, wait.  You can't do this...Because these are somebody else's wishes.  They're somebody else's dreams."  Mouth replies, "Yeah, but you know what?  This one, this one right here.  This was my dream, my wish.  And it didn't come true.  So I'm taking it back.  I'm taking them all back."  (You can see the clip by clicking here.)

I thought about this movie scene in relation to all the things from our family history that have been thrown away.  I found myself saying, "Well, you see this.  You see this talent.  This was God's given talent, and it was not met.  So I'm taking it back.  I'm taking them all back."  Taking it back for a higher purpose and a higher calling.   I choose to do something with it.

How many times do we or even those before us throw things into the well?  God given dreams and wishes that are left to do nothing but corrode over time.  We throw them away and nothing becomes of them.

It's time to do a little well diving.  It's time to grab those dreams and make something of them.  It is time to take the things of the past that got lost and do something with it.  There are so many God given dreams and talents that have been thrown away.  Maybe life just did not go as planned.  Maybe someone got discouraged.  Maybe someone got mixed up with the wrong crowd.  Maybe there are some of our own dreams and wishes that we need to grab out of the well.  Maybe they are the dreams and wishes of those before us.

God does not give up on His dreams.  Neither should we.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Freedom Friday - A Force to be Reckoned With

Dear Satan,

Be very very afraid.  I am force to be reckoned with.

I know that you hate my heart and that you hate what my life counts for.

I know that you feel like you have victory in holding people in captivity, but I rise to the statement - "Not on my watch!"

I know that you think that you can try to tear me down with your lies and confusion, but I am calling you out.  You are a liar and a thief and I will have none of it anywhere around me.

Oh, you have lots to fear in this daughter of the King because I know my power and I know the authority at my disposal.  You have lost.

I know that you remind me of all the hurt in the world and all the stories of captivity and you try to tell me that it's no use fighting.  But I laugh in your slimy face.  Hahahaha... because I know.  I know what is truth.  I know how the story ends.  Need I remind you of the work on the cross?  Need I remind you of the Savior that died to set the captives free?

Oh, I see how you have tried to steal my life away from me.  I see how you have tried to steal my purpose and leave me in shame.  But, you know what?  My God redeems.  My God has set me free from your lies.  My God has given me the authority to command you to leave.  My God has called me to the purpose of moving on the behalf of others and I rise to that calling.

Oh yes, I know that the calling on my life is huge.  I know that you try to tell me that I don't have what it takes and I would like to tell you what I think about that ... well, you're just a liar!  Here's my truth: Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners."

I know that you don't like it when Christians realize their potential and worth.  I know that you try to do everything that you can to take it away.  But, guess what - I am on to you and I'm not having it.  I chose to move forward with power and authority.

I know that you are just scared - and ya know what....You Should Be!!!

(the called, anointed, lovely, wonderful, powerful, and strong kicker of your butt)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Filled with wonder

I have a pretty active imagination and it tends to drive me to a place of wondering quite often.

Today as I was reading the book that I recently checked out from the library, I found myself wondering about all the other people who have held this very same book in their hands over the years.
- I wonder if the words on the pages of this book touched someone's heart.
- I wonder if they were able to relate to any of the characters in the story.
- I wonder if they were living through a really rough season and found solace in escaping into a story.
- I wonder if there was the noise of children running through the house as they read.
- I wonder if they enjoyed a cup of coffee as they read.
- I wonder if anyone has taken this book into the bathroom....ew, abort that thought!  Abort!  Abort! ...
- I wonder if anyone has taken this book to the beach...there, that's better.  The beach...ahhh :-)

The church that I went to while I lived in the Los Angeles area, would sometimes leave me in a place of wonder.  We met in a building on Hollywood Blvd. just blocks away from the Kodak Theater.  The building was also a Hollywood Historic Site.

I would sometimes find myself thinking of all the people that had been in that theater and wondering what movie stars had sat in the very seat that I was sitting in.  It was actually a pretty cool thing to think about.

I sat in wonder many many times when I lived in a little studio apartment in Midtown Memphis.  The building was The Gimore on the corner of McLean and Madison (for all you Memphis folks).  It was built in the 1930s and, to my understanding, once served as a hotel.  Oh the wonder that would ensue as I dreamed of the history of that little apartment of mine.  It had seen many tenants.  There were probably many fights, many laughs, many drunken nights (not while I lived there, though), and even some pot smoking ... again, not while I lived there.  However, my little apartment did exist through the 60s :-)

I also love flea markets, thrift stores, and antique stores for their vintage appeal.  You can find so many cool things and it leaves me wondering about the homes that they came from.

And then there is the wonder that comes at a historical landmark.  It is very sobering for me when I visit a battlefield.  It actually tends to make me sad to know that the land that I stand on is stained with blood. But I always leave grateful for those who paid a price for freedom.

Oh, this wondering mind of mine.  There never seems to be a dull moment in this girls head :-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Freedom Friday and building a rescued family

If you have been around me for any length of time, it is highly likely that you have heard me mention that I want to adopt a little girl with pigtails from China.  

It is very important that you note I said "with pigtails".  Those cute little faces with pigtails in their hair absolutely melt me.  

If you have walked the streets of China with me, it is highly likely that you have heard my exclamations over the cuteness of all the little girls with pigtails.  

If you were on a team visiting China with me, you have in your possession a journal with a drawing made by me of a cute little girl with pigtails.  It's not a good drawing by any means, but does express my heart :-)

I guess you can say I am sort of obsessed.  I don't even know when it started, but there has just been a desire in my heart for I don't know how long to adopt a little girl (with pigtails) from China.  

So all that to say - adoption and the desire to adopt someday has been on my heart for a long time.  But this past week, it has definitely reached new heights.  

Never before had I realized that the need for families willing to adopt could be so directly linked to rescuing young people from human trafficking.  My eyes have definitely been opened ... and flooded with tears.  

I guess it all started through the wonderful Calvaresi family and the precious little girl that they recently adopted from Serbia.  You can learn more about this family here.  I had heard Kaci mention that if they had not adopted, their precious little Serbian girl could have possibly grown up to be a victim of trafficking...but the realization of the issue just did not fully register ... yet.  

The other day, Kaci posted this blogpost and told the story of a girl named Julianna, whose fate could soon find her as a victim of human trafficking.  According to this website, Julianna was listed in urgent need of adoption, stating "She is at extreme risk as human traffickers have already been following her knowing she will be shortly released from the orphanage to the streets, waiting for their opportunity.  She must be adopted to be saved from that life, the orphanage staff is very concerned for her well being and she is naturally very scared as well."  Upon reading that, it started to sink in, but I had no idea the emotion that was to come.

As I stated in this blogpost, I have been reading the book Not For Sale by David Batstone.  This book is good ... I mean sooo good.  Read it!

Yesterday I was reading about the sex syndicate in Europe and there was a portion when it spoke to the issue of orphans.  There are so many orphans in Eastern Europe that the orphanages can't handle the numbers, so what happens is that once an orphan turns 16 or 17, they are no longer able to live in the orphanage.  The traffickers know this and they wait ready to take advantage of these teenagers.  As I read about it I got this picture in my head of them waiting around like lions ready to pounce as soon as one walked out the door of the orphanage.  It absolutely broke me.

I cried ... and cried ... and then sent an email to my friend Kaci.  Kaci had written me earlier about her blogpost and this very issue.  As I typed into that email with tears streaming down my face, I saw the words "build a rescued family" go across the screen.  It was really just a sentence typed in an email that I did really even give too much thought to, but to see those words in black and white really hit something in my heart.  

I want to "build a rescued family".  I don't really even know what that means, but I do know that there are children - teenagers out there who not only desire a family, they are in desperate need of one or they might find themselves in captivity.

I was thinking this morning of the job I used to have directing the Inasmuch child sponsorship program.  This program raised support for orphanages through sponsorship of the children in the orphanage.  

Everyday I looked at pictures of children in Guatemala, Brazil, Korea, and Albania.  As I have been reading this book talking about the issues of human trafficking I have read mention of Shkoder and Tirana ... and I know those names.  Those are the two cities in Albania were the orphanages supported through Inasmuch were.  Shkoder was an orphanage for younger children and Tirana was an orphanage for older children. 

I literally can't put words to the feeling of realizing that some of those children that I looked at everyday could now be victims of human trafficking.  At that point in my life, when I wrote newsletters and yearly updates about them, I honestly had no clue what the future could hold for them.  It is a very sobering thought.

I simply have to end this blogpost on a positive note, so I leave you with good news.

Remember, Julianna.  God has been so faithful and is already moving to bring her into a family.  Check out Kaci's post here.  God is so good and is about the business of setting the captives free ... and guarding the free from captivity.

Ever think about adoption?  What about adopting a teenager and rescuing them from a possible life of servitude?  I know I hope to ... someday.
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