Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love, Jesus

It is the most amazing love story.

In January my daughter was playing outside. I was inside sitting on the couch, exhausted from a hard day. Suddenly she busted through the front door shouting, "Mommy Mommy, you got flowers from Jesus!" She was carrying a box. There was no name on it. I asked her how she knew they were from Jesus. She said, "the lady who dropped them off told me so." I opened the box and there were 16 beautiful roses...a red/pink color...absolutely gorgeous. The card that accompanied the flowers said: You are loved, appreciated, and much more beautiful than all the flowers in the world.----Love, Jesus

I began to get tears in my eyes. I can't recall a time when I received flowers by delivery. Usually if I get flowers it's because it's my anniversary or something like that. And I've never received flowers from Jesus before. My heart was so incredibly warmed to think that someone would do this for me.

Yesterday, I had a similar experience. I went to the mail box and there was a card for me. Inside there was a note that read: Dear Melissa, Don't worry! I've got everything under control. Love Always, Jesus.

Again, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wasn't expecting this. My life has been running fairly smooth lately. I haven't been worried or stressed out. Who is behind my Jesus notes?

I got a call from my mom last night. She was crying. She was very upset. She had a biopsy done and more cancer was found. Totally different than the lung cancer she already has. I felt like my heart was going to stop. There didn't seem to be enough air in the room to breath. Why? Why does she have more cancer now? I don't know how to handle this. My mom is so young.

Sitting beside the phone was the note I'd received that day in the mail. "Don't worry! I've got everything under control." Amazing. Just when I needed it, I had it. The love of my life took care of me. And through some divine intervention, Jesus sent me the words I needed before I would actually need them.

No one on this earth could do that. My husband was so sweet and did his best to comfort me. But it was the words of Jesus that brought me comfort last night.

The greatest love story ever told should be the love story between me and and Jesus. I don't think I could get through life without Him. I know I couldn't.

Not only does Jesus love us, but He sees us and He knows everything we go through. He cares. And He has everything under control.

Now that's an amazing love!

Much Love,


****Thank you so much for all of the comments on the last 2 posts. I'm being encouraged through your comments! I've been busy responding to the many emails that came in after my devo last week. So many women share the same struggles in marriage. Hang in there! Choose to love! Just don't give up hope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is Love a Feeling or a Decision?

First let me say, this one can cause some controversy! I am going to give you MY OPINION here. You may agree. You may disagree. And that's ok.

I wanted love to be a feeling. In fact I expected it to be a feeling. And I was let down big time.

My view of love for most of my life has been someone to provide for me, rescue me, wine and dine me, romance me, make me laugh, write me love notes, pray with and for me, etc. Someone that I would forever be crazy about and feel all lovey dovey with. I believed in loved stories and wanted one in my own life so badly.

This view is not wrong. But for me it wasn't real. And that was the problem. I so desired those "characteristics" of love...but I wasn't feeling them. So, because I didn't feel love did that mean I wasn't loved or in love?

So, in my opinion, love is a decision. Maybe there are some that think it is a feeling. But feelings change quickly and love cannot change. Not if it's forever it can't. Feelings are so fickle. And if you are going to be with someone forever, well then you have to decide to love them. Life enters and interferes with fairy tale romance. So, doesn't love have to be a decision?

The first time I ever heard of love being a decision was when I started reading Karen Kingsbury novels, the Baxter Family series. Then I began "The Love Dare" and the concept was reinforced. In fact it brought me comfort. It made me feel more normal that I had to decide to love and didn't feel it all the time. And that doesn't take away from my love for Jeff. I am excited to decide to love Jeff.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient and kind. Well I don't know about you, but patient and kind don't come natural to me. Especially the patient part. To be patient and kind, I have to decide to be patient and kind. So if love is patient and kind, for me it is a decision. I don't ever feel patient. Maybe kind. But not patient. It's a decision.

So, choose to love. If you are married, love your husband. Choose it. Choose it. Choose it. You have a choice. Love him. You chose to marry him and took vows to love him for better or worse. So choose to love him.

We'll talk about more later. Please comment and question.



Monday, February 23, 2009

Barely Surviving to Thriving???

Please check back to my blog a little later. I'll be following up today's devotion on Encouragement for Today where I'll go into a few more details about my marriage and it's transformation. (or I guess I should say my transformation).

In the mean time, if you have any questions for me, please post them here and I'll answer them. Ask whatever you want, anything goes!

Also, check out the post right below this one. If your marriage is struggling, I pray it encourages you. Two years ago I would have thought for sure we could never have had a weekend like the one I wrote about in that post.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll be back soon to write more!



Well, I'm back. I thought I'd post around noon. Only I received so many emails that had similar stories or were from women (and men) who wanted to share their marriage journey and struggles. The comments on this blog today had me very prayerful. I can't address everything here today, but over the next few days I'll try to cover what I can.

Many people mentioned "The Love Dare". Very interesting because just this past weekend I wrote a devotion titled "The Love Dare", based on the book, which is based on the movie Fireproof, which I have been using since Christmas. It totally changed my perspective on love. I'm not going to say much more about it now because I plan to do much more with it when the devo runs. But, I would recommend it. I started it without telling my husband. I changed inside and he noticed a difference within the first 5 days.

I said to my husband tonight, "Honey, was it worth it? What we went through? Maybe so we could encourage others and bring hope to their marriages?" He couldn't say "yes".....we went through a lot of pain. And we wouldn't ever wish it on anyone else. But....God has brought good out of it. We don't share every detail of our issues. Some are just too painful and personal. But God has used the "barely surviving" of our marriage and empowered us to share what we are ready to share to hopefully bring hope to those struggling.

One of my roles at Proverbs 31 is to go through the prayer requests each day and forward them on to our Prayer Warriors, who faithfully pray. As I copy and paste these requests, I too pray for them. I also answer the phone in our office and pray with people over the phone. Do you know what our #1 prayer request is? MARRIAGE! So nothing anyone has posted has surprised or shocked me. I've either experienced it myself or heard it over and over through those in need of prayer. I know first hand that marriage is being attacked in a big way. #2 is finances. I don't know about you, but financial hardship was another thing hurting my marriage. (I have a devo coming up about that too!)

The truth is, marriage is not easy. When we say our vows, the preacher makes you repeat, "for better or worse" that's because there will be better and you can bet there will be worse. We make a commitment to stay together NO MATTER WHAT...."for better or for worse"....but when the worse comes, we aren't prepared and we get scared and bail. It's hard. But we have all we need to withstand it. We have Jesus.

Now I know that sounds great. I used to look at those couples with "perfect marriages" and think....there is no way she understands what I have to live with...what I'm going through...the fear, the uncertainty, the debt, the lack of control....etc.

Anyway, for now, if I can give anyone a piece of advice, it would be....DON'T GIVE UP! There is hope. God is so much bigger than we can grasp. Our relationship with Him is the ONLY thing we can totally count on 100%. We have to have that right first, then direct our focus on our husbands.

Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage by Stormie O'Martian was big for me. I read Power of a Praying Wife first some years back. I picked up this one last year when my marriage was on the brink of extinction. It touched on issues no one wants to talk about. You know the "secret" things you can't tell your church friends. Needless to say it was one of many resources that helped me.

Thank you so much for writing me. I will try to address the topics mentioned in the posts for the remaining of the week. And if you have any personal questions, feel free to contact me directly at God Bless you. And God Bless your marriage.

Much Love,


The 2 devotions I wrote previously that I mentioned in my devotion, you can find here:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me and Jeff!

If you asked me what was the best weekend I had ever had in my life was, I could tell you without a doubt. In fact, it just happened.

My husband and I are celebrating our 19 year marriage anniversary on February 10th. If you've read my blog ever, then you know that the past few years have not been easy for us. But we never gave up. We believed in our marriage, each other, and that God could restore what had been lost. I'm so thankful that both of us were so committed. We are back and better than ever.

We went away alone together. Our great friends, Kenny and Denise, have a mountain house. I asked them if we could use it for an anniversary getaway and they were thrilled to offer it. I really wanted to surprise Jeff with the weekend. But Jeff hates surprises. So, 2 weeks ago, I told him about it. And we have been looking forward to it ever since. It way surpassed my expectations.

Of course, about 5 zillion things tried to keep us from leaving on time. Work, kid issues, etc etc....we finally left Charlotte at 6:30 pm. And arrived in paradise at 9:00.

Our getaway home was located in the NC mountains. It was unseasonably warm, which was great with me. We spent our first night laying out on the upper deck of the house. We could see every star God created. The moon was almost full. We even heard coyotes howling. Amazing. It was night that I am certain God created just for us. Perfect. No interruptions. It's crazy how much you can talk about when no one is around to interrupt you. We just talked, laughed, danced, and did other husband and wife activities. :)

Saturday was a day I'll never forget. Probably most of all because it is one of the only days I remember that I never looked at the time or worried about it. We woke up whenever. Had coffee unaware of the time. Took a drive on the Blueridge Parkway. Went into Boone, where both of us went to college. Then went back on the parkway and had a picnic. Headed back to the house when we noticed the sun was setting. So relaxing. So fun. We really enjoyed each other. We were able to complete sentences. The day ended with us returning to our mountain getaway, watching a movie, cooking dinner, taking a bubble bath, and gazing at the stars again. Paradise.

Take a look:

Jeff standing (posing) in the middle of an open field. Just look at the beautiful color of the sky!

And here is Jeff in our old stomping grounds. Back in the day, this was the TKE House at Appalachian State University. Jeff lived there. (He's posing again.)

This is Josh. Some call him Joshua. He is as much a part of Boone, NC as The Daniel Boone Inn. He has walked the streets of Boone with no real home for years and years. He was there 20 years ago when we went to school there, and we were so excited to see him still there today. And yes, that is his hair you are seeing.

Our little picnic spot on the Blueridge Parkway at the Moses Cone House.

The view from our picnic. Look lakes freeze in NC too!

The view from the top! This was the view from the home where we stayed. Amazing!

No better way to end a fabulous day than with a fabulous bubble bath in a huge jacuzzi tub.

Sunday morning came too soon. Although no alarm clock woke us up, we knew that once we got up, it would be time to enter back into the "real world" again soon.

Did we have a great time together? Yes.
Do I recommend some time away together for every couple? Yes.
Did I miss my kids? No. (sorry, but I didn't!)
Do I feel like our marriage was officially restored? Yes.

Jeff, If and when you read this...I want you to know how much I choose to love you. Thank you so much for making me a priority in your life. Because of you, I am a better person than I ever dreamed I could be. The Love Dare comes easy when it's you I'm daring to love! My tank is full. This was the best weekend of my life.

19 years of marriage doesn't come easy. But the view from the top is worth every bit of work and effort.

Happy Anniversary to Me and, it seems like just yesterday that I walked down the aisle to become his wife. Best decision I ever made.



Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 Random Things

If you are on Facebook, this may be familiar to you. 25 Random things. That seems to be the latest fad on there.

I've had a Facebook page for a year now. I admit it. I love it! I have reconnected with people that I have no doubt I would have never seen or heard from again. I not only have connected with old friends but also: kept in better touch with my cousins; related to my kids in a new way;kept in touch with friends from blogging, conferences, and P31; my mother, father, and mother in law are on there; shared pictures; and become partially addicted to new games (Scramble and Word Challenge). I love Facebook.

Well, the latest thing to do on Facebook has been "25 Random Things". In recent weeks, personal information has spread furiously across Facebook via a simple application many of us have come to know as the "25 Random Things" note. The premise is simple: Users write 25 random things about themselves. when they're done, they send the list to 25 of their friends and encourage them all to continue the chain. It's been a great way to learn stuff about friends and family that I never knew. I knew many people were participating, including me. But I was super surprised to see "25 Random Things" on the front page of "The Charlotte Observer", our local newspaper. The front page!!!! Is it that popular???? Evidently so. Either that, or there's just not much news to report.

So, in honor of the popularity of the "25 Random things", I figured I'd go ahead and post mine here. Here they are. 25 Random Things about Melissa.....and in typical Melissa fashion, I couldn't stick to the rules....I had to list 30!

1. My husband is by far the most amazing person I've ever known. I am a better person today for being with him for so long. I know I can always count on him.

2. My children, Blake, Hayden, Dylan, and Hayley Grace...and even Princess (yes, my sweet doggie) brighten my everyday with their love, humor, excitement, and acceptance.

3. My cousins absolutely rock!!!! I have the greatest cuzins in all the world. Love them to pieces.

4. The funniest people I know are: Jeff, Robbie, my dad, and Dylan.

5. My mother is the most beautiful woman I know.

6. God is the center of my world. Seriously, Jesus rocks my world and I have dedicated my whole life to Him.

7. Brad Paisley can sing to me anytime and anywhere. She's Everything would be my choice. :)

8. Elvis Presley music gives me a good warm cozy feeling. I remember dancing to an Elvis 8-track when I was 4 yrs old with my parents.

9. I love having Girl's Night with Hayley Grace, Donna, and Sydney.

10. I miss my Fab 5 like you just don't know.

11. I have the greatest job ever. I work with the funnest and most amazing people. Going to work is one of the highlights of my day!

12. Van Halen was the first concert I ever went to. I went with Donna Faulkner. I learned about things I did not know existed.

13. I love the beach. The ocean, the sand, the shells, the waves, sunrise, and sunset. Nothing more peaceful to me than the beach. I hope to live there one day. Really I do.

14. Disney World is my favorite family vacation.

15. I'm either fit or fat. Never been much of in between. I'm still looking for a happy medium.

16. I am currently reading The Chronological Bible, The Love Dare, and Sunrise.

17. I am a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. This has taken me to New York, California, and The Bahamas...places I had never been to prior. It has also given me the sweetest friends...friends that feel like family.

18. My dog, Princess, was the best birthday present I ever received. The 2nd best was my trip to Greensboro to see Def Leppard, Styx, and REO Speedwagon...just last year! Great memories.

19. I've seen Jimmy Buffett more than anyone else in concert....or maybe Duran Duran.

20. I miss my grandparents more than I can say.

21. My favorite movie is Steel Magnolias. I also love Doris Day movies.

22. I am a Gamecock by birth. Mountaineer by college allegiance. Gator by my son, Hayden. I just love college football to the point of passion.

23. I am content with what I have.

24. I say "I Love You" to Jeff and my kids every day.

25. I sponsor a child through Compassion International. Her name is Maria. She is beautiful. I consider this sponsorship one of the most meaningful, valuable,and important things I've ever been a part of.

26. (yes I know it says 25, but I have more) I love my church. You should visit sometime if you have a moment. It has changed my family in great ways.

27. It is my 42nd birthday today.

28. I love American Idol. I've met many of the Idols including Fantasia, Taylor Hicks, and David Cook. David Cook is my favorite. I also met Chris Daughtry and Kelly Pickler. That does not make me better than you. It was just fun.

29. I have 2 toes stuck together on both of my feet. Do NOT call me a duck.

30. I am happy thanks to Lexapro. Ha! Just kidding. Well, kind of. I am happy thanks to God and you! Love life. Love to laugh. It's all good.

There's the big 25...well 30! So what's the big deal? Idk! But it has made a big splash across Facebook and the front page of the paper.

I am heading to the mountains tomorrow where I will have no cell phone service and no internet. I'll be with Jeff, my husband and no one else. We are celebrating our 19 yr wedding anniversary. I am so excited about this. Our friends, Kenny and Denise, have a mountain house and they have graciously offered to let us have it for the weekend to get away. It's been so long since we've had time away alone. I'm so thankful for this time we have been given. Jeff's parents are keeping our kids and Princess (sweet doggie). OH, I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!

Have a great weekend and thanks for welcoming me back into the bloggy world.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Random Thoughts....

I'm almost emabarrassed (and if I just mispelled embarrassed, I'm even more embarrassed!) because I have a blog and I did not post for the entire month of January. In fact I have a few blogs and didn't post on any of them. Not only that, I haven't read any of my favorite blogs either.

When I started my blogs, I had such grand plans for them. First this general blog, Then my blog, which addressed both my struggle and my passion for us all to know we are beautiful just because God made us. And finally, in August, 2008, I started a blog for teens. I have such a heart for teen girls. As I tried to keep it all up, I just became overwhelmed. As the old saying goes, I bit off more than I can chew.

I thought about merging 2 of my blogs, but I have since reconsidered. I am putting the teen blog on hold. Truthfully, teens are not into blogging. I may end up using that blog for something and I may not. For now, I'm not. But I have made a decision to keep this blog and the "I Am Beautiful" blog active. For a while, not only have I not been blogging, but I also haven't been writing devotions, articles, or studying and preparing for my messages like I usually do. I have just been in a state of paralysis or something. Slack maybe. Resting maybe. I've been spending time with my family. And I have been reading a lot. And most importantly, I've been working so hard on my marriage. I started "The Love Dare" and I'm half way through. I'm sure I'll write more on that later because it has made such a huge impact on me, the way I view marriage, and my marriage itself.

This weekend Jeff and I are leaving on a getaway for just the 2 of us. Our friends, Kenny and Denise, have a gorgeous mountain house with amazing views. We are leaving Friday and staying the weekend. We haven't been away with no kids in a few years. I am so excited. I can't wait. We will have no internet connection, no cell phone connection, and no kids. Whatever will we do? ;)

I'm watching basketball right now. I'm a football girl, but since football is over, I'm hopping on the bb train for a while. Still pulling for the same teams though.

It snowed last night. My kids had no school today. I'm hoping they will be back in school tomorrow.