Just Be Still

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Hello All,

While I should be basking in the beauty of the Amish country with my little family in the quiet town of Lancaster, PA, I felt compelled to share a few words with anyone who would lend an ear to listen.

We live such busy lives, and we are always on the GO, GO, GO! My life is full of projects to complete, academia, family time, etc., etc.  As I’m driving through the countryside, I lean back in the driver’s seat just a little and take in a long deep breath.  To the right of me, my son is looking outside, trying to capture pictures of the cows and horses that seem to zip right by us.  Behind me, my daughter sits in her car seat fidgeting around as she squeals with delight saying, “Momma look at the cows!”

Suddenly, it hits me.  My soul becomes overwhelmed with peace, joy and gratitude.  These are the moments that I want to treasure.  These are the moments that I don’t want to let go.  I feel myself getting emotional as my eyes become wet as the tears start to form.  I think to myself, “Melissa, just be still.”  Life is too short, and I want to hold my children in my small arms as I bestow upon them millions of kisses.  I want to hug them until they turn purple in the face.  I’m in a state of euphoria, and it’s a high that I don’t want to come down from!

So, I will get back to what is really important right now because the writing can wait.  So, excuse me as I jump on our plush, cozy bed and watch endless episodes of Spongebob Squarepants!

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The “F” Word

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It is a word that most of us are afraid to utter.  You think about it, question it and at the end of day, we just file it away under “resentment.”  We wrestle within our hearts about the words or action that was said or done to us.  Instinctively, we make the vow to never forget.  The question remains, can we truly forgive?

The act of forgiveness is a hard pill to swallow.  The moment we choose to exonerate a person, we are letting go of hurt and bitterness.  Are we so consumed with “self” to see past beyond our pain? We say, “I was the one who was offended?” “But what about me and my feelings?” Jesus himself even talked about forgiveness when Peter asked how many times should he forgive his brother or sister.  This is what the Lord replied:

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” 22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. (Matt. 18-22 MSG)

Believe me my friend, it is easier said than done.  I consider myself a good person.  Ask any of my family members or friends and they will tell you that I have a big heart.  But, when it came to the area of forgiveness, I had an internal battle.  It was waging inside of me because I couldn’t seem to let go of the pain and hurts of the past.  Time and time again, people in my life would advise me that I needed to “let it go”.  But, what did they know? No one had a clue what I was going through.  If I had truly forgiven my offenders, then why was I still going through the emotions? I was clearly missing the mark on something.  The entrapment became a burden, which lead to a hardened heart.  It took me many years to unravel the damage that entangled my heart.

What I have learned is that when you truly forgive, you are allowing God access to the innermost part of your heart, your emotions.  He can then begin the healing process that will lead you to immeasurable peace.  You will have a different outlook and take on a whole new perspective.  I have witness the power of forgiveness in my life.  I understand that the less clout I give in to something, the less control it has over the matters of my heart.

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“If you sense that there is still un-forgiveness in your heart towards someone who you feel has hurt you in any way, give it to God.  I promise you that it will be the best decision you ever made!”

Also, if you have story that you would like to share that can perhaps inspire others, please feel free to comment below!

On Being Thankful…

Thanksgiving.  In the Merriam Webster dictionary the definition is, “a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.”   It contains three syllables and two words, THANKS-GIVING.  The word thanks is an expression of gratitude, and the word giving means to carry out an act.  When we usually hear or read of the word Thanksgiving, it’s usually synonymous with the annual holiday in which we stuff our faces (especially me!) with roasted turkey and all the rest of the delicious trimmings.

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But, have we really given thought to the meaning of the word? What perspective do you have about the significance of Thanksgiving? I have much to be grateful for as I reflect over the past year.  I can’t help but to feel overwhelmed with gratitude towards my Creator for all things, the good and the bad.  On days when I feel as though the whole world is against me, I “selah” (the Hebrew word that means to pause, think about it) and meditate on all the positive things in my life.  Life is not easy, but then again, who said it would be? Jesus once said:

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  (Matt. 11:28)

What is life without experiencing some kind of pain or lost.  It helps us to become stronger, and in time we become better equipped to handle the next challenge.  It’s comforting to know that we are not alone and with time, things will eventually get better. There are many people who are going through rough times.  We can become so consumed with ourselves that our vision is clouded to see the need of another soul.

Here are few facts to think about….

783 million people don’t have access to clean water,

610, 042 people who are homeless and have nowhere to sleep tonight,

1 in 9 people in the world will not have a meal tonight,

Instead of focusing on what we do or do not have, let us gather around the table and give thanks for our health, our families, the clothes on our backs and food to nourish our bodies.  I also challenge you to reach out to someone in need, whether it’s a friend or neighbor and step outside of your own comfort zones and make a difference in someone’s life this Thanksgiving.

You may be surprised in finding that taking the time to lend a hand is the greatest gift to be thankful for.

I Like To Live In America!

To date, nearly four million immigrants live among us in the United States. They work, raise families and live their lives like any other ordinary citizen. Truth be told, these immigrants are undocumented and illegally calling America their home. However, in an unprecedented move by President Barack Obama, he will grant amnesty to the immigrants under the newly reformed immigration law.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are not too happy with the President’s executive order, which he is set to publicly address tonight from Washington. The question still remains if illegal immigrants should be permitted to remain in the United States and not face the possibility of deportation. Advocates for immigration are applauding the President on his bold move after years of protesting and calling on Congress to take action. According to news reports, Obama’s plan will not include offering medical benefits to children born to the refugees. In the New York Times article, “Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million,” Senator Jess Sessions, a Republican who is against extending benefits to undocumented immigrants is quoted as stating, “It is plain that President Obama has no authority to grant lawful status to those declared unlawful by the duly passed laws of the United States.”

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I am a law-abiding American citizen, and I try to uphold to the laws that were set in place long ago. If we break those rules, there are always consequences. The Declaration of Independence grants me certain inalienable rights that I have benefited from along with countless other U.S. citizens. More, importantly, what is the message we are sending to others who are still trying to enter this country illegally? The laws were set in place for a reason, in fact, it serves to protect us. If anyone enters this country illegally, then you automatically have lost the privileges of these constitutional rights. How can we be expected to protect the nearly four million souls without compromising the very principles of our laws? It is a heavy burden to bear. Unfortunately, Congress has waited too long to resolve this matter, as a result, it has forced the President to make a swift decision. The President’s ruling will change the course of immigration laws and will have an impact that we may not simply recover from.

We are all in pursuit of the “American dream,” and I am not against anyone who wants to migrate here and aspire to accomplish their goals. Albert Einstein once said You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”

It seems to me that America just got “played.”

Single, but not alone..I am a Plus-One!

As the festivities slowly approach, once again, “holiday madness” takes over the human population.  It is a time when family and friends come together in the spirit of “goodwill towards men,” and it slowly dawns on me that I will be ringing in the New Year alone with Dick Clark playing loudly on my high definition television.

I have been “relationship-less” (yes, this word does exists!) for the last four years. Needless to say, I have had my fair share of unwanted attention.  I am at the point in my life where I have embraced my singlehood.  This is just a season in my life, and I can either make the best of it or sit and watch “Sleepless in Seattle” while eating bonbons and feeling sorry for myself.  But, every now and then, I am reminded of the label society has placed on me when my dear ol’ dad chimes in, “Have you met anyone at church?” Suddenly, the hairs on the back of my neck stand, and I cringe at the thought of the question. “Well dad, how do you think I’m doing? I’m miserable, and I just want to attend my company’s year-end dinner with someone other than a female friend!” I know what most of you are thinking.  “Poor thing.”  And no, that was not my reply (if I were to tell you that I wasn’t thinking that, lightning would strike me down!), but I answer and reassure him by responding, “No dad, I’m okay.”   

Truth be told, I am just fine, thank you very much! A few years ago, I would recoil at the idea of facing yet another holiday alone.  After all, we desire love and crave for companionship.  Our creator even understood the basic need for relationships.  This was the reason why Adam was created.  The God of the universe yearned for someone to have a deep and loving relationship with.  In fact, God himself sees the need of the human heart as we read in the book of Genesis chapter 2 verse 18:

“Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.” (Amp version)

Our Father observed that Adam was alone and knew that he would eventually yearn for a companion, just as He did. We were designed for human relationships, it is embedded in our spiritual D.N.A. (which stands for Divine, Noble, Attributes, now that…I made up!).  It’s just one of the many traits of the spiritual man inside of us because we are a direct reflection of our creator in heaven.  As a single woman, I hear the stories of people who are married and some seem to echo, “It’s not easy.” or, “If I could do it all over again, I would have remained single.” How strange to hear these words? On the other hand, I have had the examples of many happily married couples, one of which includes my parents who celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

Four years ago, I was involved in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship.  I had someone by my side, but I was not happy.  I would cry myself to sleep every night wondering why it wasn’t working out.  I wanted it so bad, I wanted to have the “happily ever after” story and ride off into the sunset with my knight in shining armor.  Reality set in, and I mustered up every ounce of strength to make the decision to end the relationship before things could get any worse.  I was scared because I was going to be alone and angry at the fact that I had failed at my one chance of happiness.  At what point do we sacrifice our own joy and well-being for the sake of wanting to be in relationship? How many times have we all settled for less than God’s best for us?

I have had time to reflect over these last years and realize that I was never alone.  I will not allow the world to look down on me or categorize me because I have yet to find myself in a committed relationship.  I never took notice that someone was always there for me, loving me unconditionally for who I am.  He is my best friend, my Father, the lover of my soul, his name is Jesus and he is my Plus-One.