Oh, the randomness...

Just my thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bridges vs. Walls

“Bridges are, more beautiful than bombs are.”

In case you haven’t heard this beautiful song by Aaron Niequist, you need to. It’s called ‘Love Can Change the World’ and it’s lyrics and music are wonderful. I feel like this song, more than any I’ve ever heard, shows the true posture of worship. And of course, I’m gonna like any song that says love can change the world, because that’s my life mantra. :)

Anyway, this Sunday pastor Jeff at one point said a phrase that really stuck out to me: “If God is building a bridge, are you going to continue building a wall?” Man. I think that statement is really convicting. We, as Christians, are so guilty of often building walls where God is busy building bridges. I think about this a lot with ‘the fringe’ in our society – or as my friend Doug puts it, the ‘left out, left behind, and the let down in us all’. How often do we as Christians build walls around ourselves to protect against those who are ‘different’ from us, while meanwhile God is building bridges into their hearts? It makes me really sad to think about all the times in my life that I have done this, either intentionally or unintentionally.

I had a conversation today with someone very close to me, about why I’m passionate about getting involved with H/AS (HIV/AIDS Services). For me, it’s building a bridge. It’s about loving my brother and sister, and seeing them how God sees them. And while this person made valid points and counterpoints, and while they’re entitled to their own opinion, it made me sad. Because where I see bridges being made in the Christian community, here I saw a wall.

And I’m not sure what to do with it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Deck the Halls

So, it’s early. To be Christmasing…and yet I am. :) I suppose I’ve never followed any conventional rules, and this is no different. I just wanted to have my girls help with the tree, and it was the only weekend I had for it.

So on Saturday, after a refreshing time of raking leaves (I love being outside in crisp air!) 5 of my 6 LifeLine girls came over. We hung out, made hot cocoa and choc chip cookies, and then decorated my Christmas tree. It was such a fun, vibrant time!

I realized at one moment that I was choking back tears, tears of happiness. Because I looked around, and here is Jess dancing around in the Christmas tree skirt, singing at the top of her lungs. Chloe is hanging ornaments, Katie is sprawled on the couch and Kirsten has her legs dangling over the side of the chair, drinking her cocoa. And my heart just swelled. It might not make sense to many people, but for me, the best compliment is when people feel comfortable in my house. Because that means I’ve effectively made it into a home.

And that’s a big thing to me. Another way of redeeming my past is to make sure I’m intentional about ‘comfort’ and ‘welcome’ in my future. And seeing my girls just enjoy being at my house, and feeling free to completely be themselves – well, it told me I’m going in the right direction.

Another interesting thing that happened was when two of my girls accidentally broke Christmas ornaments. (Funny thing is, if I had done this myself WAY more than 2 would have broken! So they felt bad, when in reality they actually broke less than I do.) The one girl immediately felt bad, and got upset and apologized. I told her it was fine, but she said “oh, but I’m sorry! I broke it. If my mom were here, she would be mad at me and say ‘Jessie, you broke that because you were goofing around and you shouldn’t do that.’” And that broke my heart, because already her mom’s voice is that record player in her heart and her mind. And it’s a critical voice. True, she was goofing around. But it was a party, a time MEANT for goofing around. Anyway, we talk a lot in LifeLine about the lies we have in our tape player, and the truths we need to replace them with. My prayer is that as her youth leader, I’m replacing some of those lies with truths. And so I kindly but firmly looked her in the eye and said “Jess, it’s OK. I don’t mind that you broke it, and I’m not mad. Let me vacuum it up, and then let’s get back to having some serious fun!” A small thing, and maybe it made no difference. But I wanted her to see that love isn’t based on following rules or not breaking things or acting a certain way. I love her, and the ornament is just a thing.

It’s replaceable.
She is not.

Friday, November 14, 2008


So, I’m a pretty open person. Any of you who know me know that – I’m quite often an open book, cannot hide my opinions/thoughts/feelings ever (though amazingly, I CAN have a great poker face if I focus really hard!!) But for some reason there is one part of my life that I really don’t discuss with others. Even my closest friend – she never hears me talk about this. Or even when I do, it’s short and void of emotion.

I miss my sisters.

There, I said it. To the maybe 5 people who read this blog. :)

I’m not sure why it’s so scary for me to talk about it. My guesses are that because 4 years ago it was so emotional to find my birth mom’s side of the family, and it was so overwhelming to meet these amazing girls who now have no mother or role model or ‘big sister’ to lean on…and I carry some guilt that I live in Michigan and haven’t up & moved to Raleigh. Oh, I’ve thought about it many a time. But how do I love one family in that way without hurting the family I have here in MI? The one that raised me and provided for me and took me around the world and opened my eyes to who Jesus is?

And because I feel paralyzed by this strange connection and love for these girls while remaining overwhelmed by the emotions and responsibility of it all, I do nothing about it. I don’t call enough. I don’t send letters enough. I haven’t been back to see them. I feel like the most terrible big sister in the world. And if they only knew how much I care about them, pray for them, talk about them – I mean, brag about them and how amazing they are… But they’ll never know until I overcome this ‘thing’ that holds me back.

Why am I so afraid to love them? To give my time and energy to them? Is it because I know I can’t save them, that I’m ultimately not their mom? Is it because I’m so afraid of opening that well of emotion again? Am I scared still about feeling mad at God again for all that’s happened with ‘family’ in my life?

So here is why I don’t talk about it – it’s tiring. Emotionally tiring. And because, I promise that the minute I begin talking about it and seriously diving into this, tears will come. And I don’t think they will stop for some time. And quite honestly, I’m not ready for that.

I’ve been considering a spiritual retreat. 1 or 2 days, alone at some cabin to walk in nature, read my Bible (and other great books – I knew where I can find a few of those!), NOT have my cell phone (gasp!) and to pray and journal and work through some things. This being one of them. Maybe I need to do that sooner than later, we’ll see.


Back to work. This is what I'm getting paid to do right now, not sit and ponder. :)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Somebody to Someone

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” –Mother Theresa

I was thinking about this quote this morning after some events that made me feel, for a brief moment in time, like nobody to anybody. Which is interesting, because I fully believe that only I give the power to people to let them make me feel that way.

But still, how many people are on this earth who feel like they’ve never been truly seen? Truly loved? Truly been somebody to someone?

More than we know.

Maybe me.

Maybe you.

Interpersonal dynamics are so fascinating to me. How much do we watch out for our friends, our brothers and sisters, to make sure they don’t feel like nobodies? Most of us don’t really do this well. And sometimes, even in the closest of friend circles, people can feel left out and left behind. Whether it’s in the way we sit, closing them off to the rest of the conversation. Or whether it’s how we respond when they’re talking – we can either make them feel like their contribution is valuable, or like they’re an alien from another planet. Or when they have different views from our own: we can either make them feel inferior or dumb or wrong, or we can respectfully discuss and validate them as human beings who can think their own thoughts and make their own decisions.

This Wednesday night our youth group served dinner over at the Stockbridge Boiler Room. I saw a woman who I’d met the week before – I don’t know if she’s homeless but she’s definitely, by worldly standards, poor. When I saw her, I saw a glint of recognition in her eyes: she remembered me too. I had a choice in that moment: politely say hello and keep my safe distance, or embrace her as my sister in Christ. To know that she is a very important somebody to God, and that she deserves to feel seen and heard.

It wasn’t easy. I shouted her name and gave her a big hug, and then stood there talking with her, our arms resting casually about each other’s shoulders. She reaked of alcohol, and I was grateful in that moment for my lack of sense of smell. But still, the smell was overwhelming. But I held on, because Mother Theresa has said, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, that touch is one of the best forms of love. No one feels more lovely than when they are touched – no one feel more repulsive than when people don’t or won’t touch them.

I didn’t do much. I simply had a great conversation with a woman who is not normally in my ‘circle’. Someone I wouldn’t have met on my own. I’m not a hero, really. But for this woman, for one moment in time, she was somebody to someone. She was embraced and loved.

I challenge each of us to consider this, and to live our lives seeking ways to make people feel like somebodies to us.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Church was amazing on Sunday. In so many ways – not only was Jeff articulate and expressive and challenging while being encouraging like he so often is, but later that night at youth group there were so many things that did my heart good. Working with other leaders to help our students, seeing the students grow, seeing people passionately giving time and energy to help young minds and hearts. It’s truly incredible to step back and watch it happen, let alone be a part of it.

One of the things Jeff talked about Sunday was being on a ‘detour’, and how we have two options. We can either resent it and question it and sit until it passes us by; potentially missing opportunities to learn, to grow, to bless others, to see a new characteristic of God, etc. Or we can embrace it, and say we don’t know why we’re in this detour, but we aren’t going to put life on hold. We’re not going to wait to help others, or grow, or see God, or be his hands and feet.

I was on a detour recently. It was an interesting one, because it was an emotional detour. I think I’m just on my way out of the detour (though who really knows) and one thing I’ve found is that I am the only one who can push forward and make the choice to not put life on hold. I did that a lot this weekend, actually. It would have been easier to give into the detour, and waste an opportunity to spend time with my roommate, to run outside in the crisp autumn air, to fellowship with friends at LifeLine, to talk to God about some stuff.

I kinda like detours. They remind me that I’m NOT in control, and I need that reminder from time to time. :)

In other news, I’ve been thinking a lot about the question ‘who are you?’ I feel , like I’m sure many do, that there are two parts to Melinda. There is the one side of me that is over-diligent, super-disciplined, struggles to relax, budget-conscious, type-A, a bit uptight, a little bit critical, etc. etc. This is the part of me that got me through Calvin while running and while leading the business forum. This is also the part of me that has gotten me where I am in my career, and that helped me push through my MBA when times were tough.

But then there is this side of me that is so carefree and spontaneous. The part of me that dances for 4 hours at Bottom40, the part of me that loves being a youth leader because I get to foster the loving side of me while putting the critical side on hold. The part of me that walks over to the Alger Middle School park and swings for hours. The part that sings out loud when I listen to my iPod while running.

These two opposites are both me. But if asked which is the real me, I don’t know what I’d answer. Because they both are.

Does anyone else ever feel like they are two people at once?