Band-aids and Scars

I was chatting with a mom friend a few weeks after the holidays about what she puts in each of her boys’ Christmas stockings. She told me one of their favorite things is super hero band-aids. I laughed, “What kinda gift is a box of band-aids?” She proceeded to tell my non-parent self that the kids’ designs costs triple the plain flesh-colored ones.

Oh.

No wonder kids show off their band-aids. Sporting their fave cartoon character while garnering sympathy for their “boo boo” comes at a high price!

I have to admit, I love a good band-aid. But I pay extra for the one’s that are translucent on the sides to offer as little visibility as possible. Unlike kids, I don’t want to draw attention to my wounds until they’re closed up, scabbed over and on the way to being healed. And this squeamish girl certainly doesn’t want to see what’s underneath until all that’s left is a scar.

This very attitude can translate internally to emotional wounds too. We can bandage our hearts from the hurt and pain we’ve experienced. Of course, when the wounds are fresh, it’s wise to protect our hearts, and to only share our hurts with trusted confidants. Removing such protection too soon could do further damage.

Still, there comes a time when the band-aid needs to be taken off. Just like the skin, leaving it on too long can cause it to get stuck, making it all the more painful to rip off.

Rip.

We’re left with the scar. We often wish the scar would go away too. We want our skin, and we want our hearts to be just like they used to be.

But we’ve been through something that’s caused a deep wound.
And the scars left behind are our reminder that we will never be the same.

I’m here to tell you that God can heal the most gaping holes in our hearts. He did that for me. I have a scar to show for it.

But it’s important for me to remember that it’s a scar, it’s no longer an open wound. A scar is a sign of healing. A scar is not meant to be debilitating.

Yet, just like any scar, it still hurts when it’s hit just right. My scar’s been hit a few times lately, even as I walk toward the 5 year anniversary of Tony’s passing later this month. But I now see the tears that flow from these moments differently. I can look at them as reminders of how far God has brought me and a testimony to His unfailing power and His relentless love.

Hope.

I also take great comfort in knowing that my great God’s only Son has scars too. And those scars from the cross mean that my scars on this earth will one day be wiped away, for eternity.

As it says in Isaiah 53:5, “By His wounds we are healed.”
By His scars and my scars, I remember His great love.

Dearly loved, with scars,
Melissa


To The Woman Who Feels Less Than

It’s Valentine’s week. In some circles, it’s that obligatory week for flowers and chocolate…things that in my opinion would mean way more on a random non-holiday. For others, it’s widely known as “Singles Awareness Day.”

I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. Even when I was married, I refused to acknowledge the day, giver or receiver. I’ve never been a fan of hearts or the color combination of pink and red, not to mention the candy just gets in the way of THE greatest holiday candy ever, Easter.

So in the midst of news feeds clogged with kissing selfies and posts way to sappy for even #sappypost, I wanted to slide a little encouragement to women, regardless of your relational status.

My pastor asked us in a recent sermon series, “What breaks your heart?”

My quick and honest answer: Any woman who feels she is less than her invaluable worth.

(more…)


Doing for One

Would you do it for just one?

I was posed this very question just before I ventured to Uganda a couple months back. It turned out to be the single most important question I carried with me.

50 hours of travel, 10 days without the conveniences of home, I learned just who would be at the center of that very question.

Our faces locked eyes on my very first day back in the community of Kaihura, a place I had fallen in love with the year prior.

She and I were already well acquainted.

I learned she had been waiting for me to arrive.

For the last year, her sweet little face has had a prominent place in my kitchen; I’ve told countless friends over for a meal about her.

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My Dwelling Place

I attended a Christmas party with our church this past weekend. Over 1700 single adults from all over Atlanta were there.

Some call that fun. Some call it overwhelming.
I call it both.
Oh, and I should mention that I took my dad so that he could be Santa and take pictures with everyone.

I cannot make this stuff up. It was actually really fun to see him bring so much joy to folks. Nothing like Santa to bring the child out in everyone!

I happened to meet a new friend of a friend at the party; she asked me if I was single or had been married before. When I told her I was widowed, she was shocked. She couldn’t believe that someone with my story would be at an event with so many single people with a big smile on my face.

I get that.
So I decided to respond by telling her about my dwelling place.

{We’ll come back to that in a moment.}

Last week, I had the honor of leading our staff through communion on the roof of our church. It was such a cool moment for us to be standing in a circle together, ushering in the Christmas season.

I had only planned to share a few verses from the Bible about the Lord’s Supper. Instead, I started with, ”I just want to tell you that I’m so excited about Christmas this year. And that’s a really big deal because this is the first Christmas I’ve been excited about in 5 years.”

I went on to explain that after being to the depths of the depths of sorrow…and honestly not giving a care in the world about the traditions, or songs, or overall cheer that this season typically brings…that I had gained a fresh perspective on Christmas.

That again led me into sharing about my dwelling place.

So what on earth is this dwelling place all about? Let me tell you what it’s not.

It’s not my past, and it’s not my accomplishments or my mistakes.
It’s not grief, and it’s not widowhood, though I’ve had many seasons where I’ve felt so comfortable in the depths of sorrow…that I very well made it where I dwelt.
It’s not my home I’m so grateful for, or my city that I absolutely love.
It’s not my ministry or my job, though both are things I look forward to every day.
It’s not my incredible family and friends whom I love dearly.
It’s not my fears or disappointments.
It’s not my hopes or my dreams, though I can finally say I’m believing God for good and great things for myself again…and that’s a major milestone.
It has nothing to do with my circumstances, or my emotions, or quite frankly anything I could earn on my own accord.

It has everything to do with my Savior, my God, my Redeemer, my Healer.
Jesus.

Jesus is my dwelling place.

So, I told that friend at the Singles party that I was there laughing and dancing the night away because Jesus had done a great work of healing in me. And, I told my colleagues that when everything else I loved about the Christmas season was stripped away, I realized the only thing left was Jesus. I’ve learned from first hand experience, especially over this last year, that He really is enough. He is all I need.

He is my dwelling place.

So I celebrate this season with excitement this year. It’s not about the festivities, or the presents or the decorations (though I’m quite proud of my first Christmas tree in my home in 5 years).

It’s all about the coming of the Savior to dwell with man, in the flesh, as a baby.

God with us, Emmanuel.

I love these verses from John 1:14 NIV:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This Christmas season is one I’ll never forget. I’m so very grateful to be excited about Christmas again.

Dearly loved, in my dwelling place,
Melissa


Eyes To See

Give us eyes to see You are all we need.

(From Hillsong Young and Free’s “Close”)

It’s 1 day til we leave for Uganda. And I have nervous stomach.

That’s a phrase I adopted from my dear friend Brenda…and I find it fun to use it. But it’s not fun to experience it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m so excited to go back to see the folks who so quickly found their very way into my heart last fall. I fell in love with the Kaihura community and the amazing people who call it home…and it’s not just that “go once on a mission trip and come back calling everyone ‘friends’ kinda love.” I’m in this to go deep.

But I suppose that going deep is the part that makes me nervous.

Because going deep sometimes is messy. I’ll go back to hug and spend time with some very dear and precious widows, and children, and orphans, and community leaders. That’s the fun part. But not being able to just snap my fingers and fix everything, to magically take away their pain and resolve their need for clean water and adequate education and medical care…that’s the part that makes it hard. I’m there to give and receive love, that is my purpose. Those other things…they will come over time, that’s where the investment comes in.

And that “fixing” goes both ways, honestly it swings more my way. Nothing brings me face to face with my own issues than being completely out of my comfort zone, virtually disconnected from those who know and love me most. There’s a lot of work yet to be done to bring healing and hope in Uganda. But more than that, there’s still a lot of work to be done in me. When I leave my comfort zone here, I realize my distraction by things of this world, how little I sometimes believe God for because I have so much at my disposal, I see even clearer my utter depravity but for the grace of Jesus.

It’s not easy to see these things.

But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.

The lyrics to this song above hit me hard as we sang them in church on Sunday.

It’s my prayer going into this trip.

Because regardless of circumstances I see, of needs I see, of my passion to love and give and serve…

At the end of the day, all I need is Jesus.
The thing I need most of all is Jesus.
I need less of this world and I need more of Him.
He’s the only thing I need more of.

Jesus, give me eyes to see, to see You, to see You as ALL I need. Help me to see as you see, to love as you love, and to serve only as an overflow of that.

And while you’re at it, please calm this stinkin’ nervous stomach. I know you’ve got this entire trip and all we will see in the very palm of Your hands.

Dearly loved, seeing,
Melissa