Friday, February 24, 2017

The Purpose/Meaning of Life.....


As I write this, it's hard to describe all of the feelings/emotions that are wrapped up inside of my mind and heart.  I elaborated a bit this morning on facebook, with words like anger, sadness, fear, a desire for justice. But those few words just skim the surface.  There are more words that could be used like pain, hurt, trauma, heartbreak, devastation.  I don't want to be dramatic, as I have been called that before, but really, what has happened in my hometown is heart-wrenching.  It's making me re-think everything in life.  Where we live, how we raise our kids, our lifestyle, as well as the meaning/purpose of life.

Shortly after the news, I went through a time of everything feeling meaningless.  The news, the newsfeed on facebook, cleaning my house, etc.  Everything that once held meaning, seemed meaningless but my family. And, I think that's kind of how it is supposed to be and should be. It has made me aware of all the things that I let distract me, that steal my attention, my time, my energy. Things that quite frankly, don't matter and shouldn't matter, but that I made important.  My smart phone.  Scrolling the internet.  You know, time suckers that creep in that don't matter; they never did matter, but somehow I made them matter. But this, this has shaken me up, it's woken me up and it's made me more aware of and more in tune with my calling and purpose/meaning of my life.  {Now, let me say this.  This is MY purpose/MY calling. That doesn't mean it is yours.  Ask God what He made you to do with this life He gave you. Your calling is yours because He made you you.}

I remember sitting on the porch of my house in Delphi, IN shortly after moving back from Chicago. It was a season of moving home before moving up to Madison, WI to work in campus ministry up there.  Hard to be a college graduate and living back with my parents, but it worked. Very clearly, I remember reading Isaiah 61 and hearing "this is the call I have on YOUR life, Melissa." Yikes.  That is deep.  Have you read Isaiah 61? If not, do so now.  It's amazing, but scary at the same time.  At the time, I actually thought it meant for Greek {fraternity/sorority} ministry, and wrote that in my Bible, However, I think over time that call has changed on who it is for.  The call hasn't but I think who He is asking me to reach is different now.  

In total honesty, the call has been a struggle. Does anyone else just think that when God asks you to do something that it will be easy? And, He will make things just fall into your lap?  Does anyone else struggle with that mentality?  I did it coming on InterVarsity staff, thinking my funds would magically appear and I would be on campus in weeks {which doesn't happen!}, and it's happened again.  He's had to remind me that it is about His timing and His purpose, not mine.  I dumbly thought that by stepping out in faith that He would just do the rest and I could sit back and bask in my obedience.  LOL.  Not how it has worked for me, friends.  If it has for you, please share....I'm curious :)  I've been unfriended by people on facebook and to be honest, that hurts {remember, I am a person with feelings.  When I get unfriended, I wonder why.  Sometimes I sit in that hurt, other times I move on and don't let it phase me.  Anyone else feel this way?}  When I invite people into the call and what God is doing, I get ignored {which also hurts, to be honest.  Am I too sensitive here?  Or maybe I am "raw" from the hurt from my hometown?}  

BUT, in the midst of the struggle, the hurt, the pain, etc.  my purpose and the meaning of life has been made crystal clear to me.   My purpose is to glorify and share His love, as it is for all believers. Everything else is meaningless.  The things that hang me up ~ unfriending, being ignored, etc.  All that stuff is rubbish and doesn't matter.  Philippians 3:8 actually says it better ~ "What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ."

As you can imagine, this has been a process and it's been a time to really practice what I preach in terms of self care.  What I have done during this time is what has worked for me in the past and I know to work for me in times of stress, struggle, etc.

* Abide in Him and the Word.  Press into Him in prayer and worship.
* Eat clean.  When I eat chemicals and processed junk, it makes me wonky ~ mentally and emotionally.  Think food doesn't do that to us?  Please contact me and I can share my own experiences with this as well as provide resources :)
* Exercise.  This has been a challenge as I haven't wanted to, but know that I need to for my mental well being.

* Sleep.  Truth, the early morning workouts haven't been happening, because I have been letting myself sleep in.  My body has needed that and I believe it's important to give our bodies what they need, whether it is food, exercise, rest, etc.  It's the total package.
* Journal/process time/margin.  This is something I have recently discovered is a need for me.  When there is rushing, it creates stress for me, so when there is margin and time to process, it is better for everyone around me.  It's meant being intentional with my time this week to give myself that time.

What does this mean going forward?  As mentioned above, these events have made me crystal clear on my focus, my call, my purpose.  It means from now on saying no to things that aren't in line with that.  No in terms of time, energy, brain space and posting on social media.  This has been the biggest struggle for me to be honest.  As I look at the selfies and the various posts, I don't want to be cluttering up the feed or posting about myself.  I want it to be for Him, for His Kingdom, what He is doing.  There will be changes in terms of what is posted, but not crystal clear on how that will look yet, but you can count on me to share once it is :)  That's why the site was created, to be about HIM, not about me and my kingdom.

Curious what you think your purpose/the meaning of your life is?  Do share.....Love to hear from you!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ah, That's Why That Hurts So Much....

Delphi, IN, where the zipcode is 46923.  A small town {population was 2,893 at the 2010 census.  In 1996, my graduating class had 89 people in it.  #smalltown} in the midwest.  It's the county seat for our county. Like many other midwestern towns, there are a mix of small businesses and agriculture in the community.  It's a place where everyone knows everyone and people are for the most part, kind and friendly.   It's a place where some people stay after high school and choose to raise families of their own there.  For the most part, it is safe.

However, if you haven't heard of Delphi yet, chances are you will soon, as there was some heartbreaking news that happened there this week. {The article is here:} In my hometown.  Where I grew up.  In this small town in the midwest where things like this don't really happen, unless you remember 1980.  

I couldn't quite put my finger on all the uneasiness I have felt since hearing about these girls.  Yes, I knew one of their parents as well as one of the girls {not well, but I knew them}, so there is that connection. There is also the connection of it being my small hometown, where these things don't generally happen, unless, again you know what happened almost 40 years ago.

As the press reports would go live, I would tune in, hoping and praying for good news. Then,  when words like "foul play," "homicide," "murder," "death," "investigation," and the like are brought up, it triggered me.  Back to 1980.  The biggest question that took my breath away was "Deputy, do you know when the last homicide took place here was?"  The fear and shame that overwhelmed me was unreal.  Why the fear and shame, you ask?  See, my dad {bio dad, not the step dad who just passed away a few months ago.  Yes, I've had a lot of loss, friends}, was murdered in my hometown in 1980.  Ugh.  Do you know how gross, ugly and disgusting that is to even type?  Let alone read out loud?  Granted, I was just 2 at the time, but for me to talk about "how safe my town is," and "how things like this don't happen there," aren't 100% entirely true to my reality. The bizarre thing as I look back on it is that it felt safe growing up there.  It's like I lived in this little bubble of denial maybe?  Or just unaware since I was so young when my dad was killed? {Ugh, I normally say die, so those words take on a new meaning as I type them out.}  And, that's why what has happened there hurts me so much.  

So all that to say I suppose this hits super close to home for me, since I experienced something similar in that same town many years ago.  The loss, the grief, the mourning, the unknown, I get it.  I've lived it.  I grew up with it as close to me as the shirt on the back of your neck.  It was so woven into who I was and my identity that I didn't know any differently.  See, growing up with that happening to me gave me a "victim mentality," or the "my dad was killed when I was young, so have pity on me," that sort of thing.

It wasn't until fairly recently that God set me free from that and showed me HIS mentality. The Daughter of THE King Conquering mentality.  And, ya know what?  Regardless of what you've been through in your's there for you too.  So if you wonder why I'm passionate about freedom and helping women be free in Him, there's a bit of the backstory for you.

Please keep my hometown and these sweet families and the students in your prayers.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hmmmm.....Mixed Bag

A friend posted this quote the other day and I've been thinking about it since.  "If you're struggling and your people are just sitting there, watching you struggle. They aren't your people." At first, it made me sad, but then as I thought about it more, I realized the truth in it.

The other thought that comes to mind is "Not everyone will understand your journey. That's ok, it's not theirs to understand." And again, that's true. Here's the thing. I'm not like everyone else. I've spent so much of my life trying to fit in and be like everyone else/to be approved/accepted/liked that I've missed out on being who God made me to be for much of that time. All those years slipped by because of my own insecurity. How sad. One of many things God is teaching me lately is WHOSE I am. That means what He has called me to do. What He is asking of me. And, again, that is something people might not understand. They might not accept. They might not support. As you may know, I started a new website recently to help women find freedom to be who God made them to be. And in my usual fashion, my expectations were way off, so I'm learning and growing in the process {isn't refining fun?} And, it's happening again. Friends don't understand. I have to remind myself, that's ok, it's not theirs to understand. Obedience to Him is more important than if I am accepted/liked/popular/etc. In a training I did, they kept saying "you're not here to be popular, you're here to share your purpose." Ugh, that is so challenging for me. Again, it's a constant reminder that I'm swimming upstream. And, along the way, people will misunderstand, they won't get it, some may question my intentions. And, again, I have to remind myself to guard my thoughts and renew my mind.

Does anyone else struggle with this, or am I alone in this? I'm sincerely curious so please let me know.

Melissa P.S. As I hit "publish" on this, God hit me with a thought...maybe the website is just as much about my freedom as it is the women in the community. #hmmm