Guilt Shield

Guilt is peeking at me from outside my dining room window today.

Guilt sits out in the rain – with its puppy dog eyes – looking pathetic, sad and needy. It whispers, “let me in.”

Guilt reminds me of my years as a single mother, where the Christmas season was about finding childcare during winter break more than enjoying the cold weather and cuddling with my babies while sipping hot chocolate each morning.

Guilt reminds me of the striving: more work, more pay, more time; less worry, less fear and less loneliness.

Guilt peeks at me from outside my home today because I sit here privileged and honored to be home with my babies. Home with my little one and home when the big-littles come home from school. Guilt wants me to feel bad for feeling so good.

Guilt tries to shame me for delighting in these cozy socks and enjoying yet another leisurely cup of tea after lunch while playing Christmas music and lighting candles for no one other than myself.

Of course, Guilt doesn’t want me to think about the fact that our income was cut in half after I came home from working many years. Guilt doesn’t like for me to remember the strain financially and the longing for the career I came to love. Guilt only wants me to feel bad for feeling good about my life.

I’m not angry at guilt, though, I appreciate its presence, even. Guilt has inspired me to *be* merry. When I really look at the blessings I am showered with it swells my heart with gratitude.

Guilt moves me into thankfulness, and for that I am obliged.

Guilt spurs me to reach out this season and bless a single mama whose working hard for her children.

Guilt brings me to reflect on my needs years ago and be an active participant in someone else’s life.

As I sit with my tea, watching the rain fall and inhale the mixed fragrance of Christmas tree and cinnamon apple candles – I am reminded of the skinny path I stayed on, and of the diligence and trust I painstakingly exercised that led me here.

So no, guilt, I will not let you in – but I do see you. I see your face and it moves me.

I will open my curtains wide, turn the music up louder, sweep with vigor and fold my laundry with pride – in thankfulness of where I am today. I will remember the women who are where I once was: earnestly providing for her family and mightily playing roles of both mother and father – and I will lift her up today in both word and deed.

“You are precious, my friend, you are deeply loved. You are strengthened and filled for each days demands. You are covered and you are radiant!”

Guilt loses its adverse power when you don’t allow it to rob you of gratitude and thankfulness. Then, guilt actually helps you to remain present and aware of grace and mercy – both which you have been given and that which you are capable of bestowing upon another.

I believe guilt was designed for this good: that we are to see its face and let it stir us to action. That we are not to carry it or let it in, but to simply acknowledge it enough to cause us to reflect on what we are truly thankful for – and let it move us.

guilt shield

My mother has a method called the “guilt shield”, where she holds up both hands to the winds of shame – protecting her from the weight that guilt attempts to lay on your shoulders. I would say to take that one step further and let your “shield” be invisible – kinda like Wonder Woman’s invisible jet – so we can clearly identify its message.

Because there is always a message – if we dare to open our eyes and examine it closely.

What guilt lingers around you today? What thankfulness could it be secretly whispering of and in what ways could it possibly move you to action?

Cheers to not just having a Merry Christmas, but to  *being* merry this season!

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Covered

~for my family~

What does it mean to be covered in your love?

When you invite me, my lovely one, I place my love over you, like a cover.

My love keeps you warm while bitter cold blows all around you.    

When you move about, my covering of love moves with you. It is not too tight, making it difficult for your expressions; not too loose, smothering you with excess.

My covering is a perfect fit on your frame. 

My love protects you from life’s torrents; it is water-resistant, leak-proof and good for all-weather.

Why, a covering that doesn’t repel the rain ends up becoming a heavier weight upon your shoulders when the rain really pours down!

covering

My covering of love is a shelter under the scorching sun.  Though you may feel the heat, you will not be burned.

My love stays with you as you stretch and grow; remaining fully extended over you. 

My love covering is soft, pliable and easily transportable; humble; eager to be used by you. 

If you only know this much of my love, hold fast to this understanding:  real love is a covering, not a cage.

I tell you this so you will be careful and not be deceived. 

I see cages disguised as coverings, placed unknowingly over good-hearted people. 

I watch them wither and dry up; trapped by rules and entangled in regulations.  

The immoveable bars are one-size-fits-all, binding growth with boundaries of steel.

The cage tells them to bloom where they are planted, right within its own walls.

But my covering of love, helps you find fertile soil, where roots grow deep and limbs extend wide.  

My love whispers guidance, helping you make right choices.

The cage tells you what to say and what to do.

If you only know this much of my love, hold fast to this understanding: my love is a covering, not a cage. 

My love follows you, wherever you go.

My love is with you always and forever.

And as you are free, let them see you as free, those bound by the cages of “covering”.

For you are the one to reflect my love, dispelling all doubt and dismissing all fear, to those good-hearted, withered up ones.

And when they are brave, they will unlock that cage, and look to your beautiful face.

It will be me that they see, and my covering of love; waiting to set them all free.

XOXOXO

Melinda

 

 

 

 

Gospel of Motherhood

Certain stories of motherhood fixate their eyes on us until we lend them a voice.

Sometimes, while lying in bed, they poke at me – insisting they must show me what they have learned; stories that display a twinkling grin positioned in the center of an experienced and reassuring smile. Until I give them attention, they stare relentlessly. Slipping away from my lover with a gentle kiss, I slide out of bed and pull on my robe; eager to give them the honor they rightly deserve.

I click on the dim-lit, paper lantern that hangs above my writing space. I sit. Exhale. Here I am. I am committed to hearing you, my dear stories; I am interested in listening and understanding that which you have to say. Yes, of course I would love to sleep, sleeping is divine. However, when you rouse me, I do not take for granted the message that is praying to be freed. So, what do you have for me today?

Oh…that story. Yes, I remember now; let’s see what emerges from the loosening:

gospels of motherhood

I used to play a hand-held, electronic solitaire game, every night while living in the hospital. It was the only thing that would allow me to fall sleep. The beeps and tweets would drown out the sounds of my daughters monitors, distracting my usual thoughts of all things creative and steering them towards all things linear. The creative was not doing well, you see, she was simply doing her best to survive the reality of our circumstance.

Logic and reason took center stage during those tough months; my pen dry; paper untouched, and my heart heavily guarded. Attempting to force out one wrong word would open wide the floodgates. So, naturally, we were very controlling as to when and with whom those vulnerable conditions were allowed to be exposed.

But numbers? I had always hated numbers. Never was any good at math and I did not believe in forcing a love for something that I honestly had no intentions on wanting to learn to love in the first place. But, as a mother sleeping on a blow up mattress in a hospital room, alongside her daughter who was fighting for her life, numbers were my safest companions. I would play until my arms could no longer hold up the silly machine. The half-a-second I would drift off, my limbs would collapse, sending it crashing onto my forehead. That was the signal it was time to surrender the day.

Digital sounds of victory would chime when I actually won a round and it  filled me with a great sense of accomplishment. Amidst such a helpless and defenseless circumstance, a mother needed to feel some sort of immediate gratification of achievement. The Queens mona-lisa smiles a front the face cards nodded in approval of my laborious efforts. I would smile back in receipt of their applause.

Then, the sun would rise. I was the first to know, as I rarely closed the blinds. I did not want to miss the first glimpse of hope that crested on the horizon of each waking day. The electronic solitaire game would be found positioned under my pillow, just in case I woke in the night and needed assistance falling back asleep.

But the words, those silly little letters that I loved to indulge in, remained distant and cautious. My newest journal remained blank in the drawer by my daughter’s bed, although, her journal was written in each and every day. Her written words were lifelines; giving her permission to interrogate the nonsense that seemed to properly depict this whole cancer thing.

Looking back, I like to believe that I set my ink down so she could pick it up.

She did not only take it up, but she danced with the pen for several months, writing for herself a whimsical story of hope. My love for words came alongside her, infusing in her a fresh outlet; inviting her to hop in and take a ride on a healing voyage. Her journey of writing ended up being a rightly prescribed dose of joy; enough to adequately tolerate the painful, but necessary, treatment.

This very same ink that had dried up around me, was now a river of life for her.

I knew the moment it was time for me to start writing again. Surges of gratitude would overwhelm me and thankfulness began to drip over many pages. We had overcome. There was the rush of survival; healing of bodies and rejoining of family. An abundance of psalms cascaded out from my fingertips as I returned this ink of life as a sacrifice of praise to the One who had sustained us.

These are the memories of mothering we must commemorate; where an inhale becomes another’s exhale; where a recession becomes another’s procession. These are the moments of mothering that remind us of a job well done; made especially for the days that leave us feeling defeated.

These are the stories we must continue to breathe into remembrance; our testimonies of faithfulness; these gospels of motherhood. Stories written on scrolls so they are easily understood; posting them on the door frames of our hearts, and teaching them to our children when we walk with them on the road.

 For all the women who inhale so another can exhale,

who put down so another can pick up,

who recede so another can proceed,

 Happy Mothers Day, Matriarch. 

XOXOXO

M

To Resist (Pt.2)

Last week I wrote about our presence, discussing how it is our “yes”. When we show up, we are saying “I believe in this, I believe in you, I believe in what is happening here”.  You have full authority over your presence. You choose, you show up, and there you are.

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own.

You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president.  

You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis

One of the most dynamic shifts in my life was when I took full authority of single-motherhood. I made the decision one day that I could do this alone; that I was fully capable, secure in my identity and so full of love that I knew things would turn out just fine. Accepting responsibility changes our posture.

I made decisions for our little family that were mine to make and I stood by them. After all, I was the one solely responsible for my daughters upbringing.  Me.  Not my mother, my friends or my pediatrician.  And when my little girl turned 5, I saw the fruit of my labor.

Throughout kindergarten, she was a pure delight: obedient to her teacher, friendly to all kids, thankful and compassionate.  At home, she was mommy’s little helper: diligent with her chores, affectionate and grateful for the little things.

I began to trust my instincts, aware of what was working and let go of what was not and grew confident in my mothering, as I could finally see I was doing something right! I chose to instill values the old fashioned way, by living them, and my child was indeed learning them.

presence2

Here is the real truth: I did receive scoffing for how I disciplined my child. I listened to taunting in response to why I did or did not allow certain things in my home. I took in opposing beliefs that claimed God’s way is only this way.  I even endured ridicule for not indulging in specific foods.

My daughter is now in high school and I am so very proud of who she has become. Humbly, I will accept any compliments of her as compliments of the mothering she received.

I now know that sometimes people respond through a filter. This is their own personal filter and it is important for us to recognize this. When your words travel through someone elses filter, they are applying what you are saying to their own life and responding to how it makes them feel.

If you speak about an upcoming risk or adventure, the worry wart will respond with worry and fear; If you share the news of a promotion, the jealous and competitive will refrain from celebrating you; If you step out of an organization, community or relationship, the selfish will react to how it makes them feel, even though it may be the best decision for you and your family.

One of my favorite tests is this: Want to test the depth of a friendship? Disagree with them. If you can disagree and still love and respect and encourage each other, you have found a true friend. If you disagree and they pull their friendship from you, you have just caught a glimpse of the heart; consider yourself saved from a fair-weather friend.

A few months ago I was pregnant. It was not planned, but very much a welcomed celebration. We were extremely elated. My husband and I had 3 children already, and someone responded to our news with, “WHAT?! Are you serious? You are really having ANOTHER kid?! Well, good luck and congratulations, if that’s what you want, but you guys are crazy!” OK then. We really didn’t know how to respond to that. Smiley face, I guess?

This response was a reflection of how having another baby would make them feel and it left me feeling sad. I spent the next few weeks praying against the cloud of doom that was imposed upon our announcement.

Then, there was a certain friend of mine who I was nervous to tell, since she was battling infertility. I felt guilty for being happy. She heard the news and instantly sent me a message of sincere congratulations. I was stunned and honored. Her response to my joy was completely selfless and ultimately, life-changing. She celebrated alongside me because she knew I was full of joy; she set aside her pain for just a moment to be a part of this great happiness.

Three months in to the pregnancy I miscarried. I heard nothing from the women who scoffed at us having a 4th child, but the woman battling infertility showed up at my doorstep with wine, chocolate and comfort food.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ” – Buddha

We are not responsible for how others respond, we are only accountable for our responses towards others. 

You are the authority of your own life. You decide who you will follow and who you will not. We are called to test everything and only hold on to what is good. So what do we do with things we have tested and have proven to be unstable, unsteady, untrustworthy or unsound? Let it go.

Psalm 25 and Psalm 139 are excellent prayers for seeking the right path and the right choice; for searching the way that is good and for testing our hearts and thoughts.  Discouragement comes when a response is deprived of courage, hope, or confidence. Discouragement is disheartening. It is the reversal of hope. 

Wisdom is never discouraging. Wisdom uplifts, nudges and gently corrects. Wisdom is encouragement.

Maybe you have felt the shackles of discouragement in response to something you revealed? If so, I break the dark cloud of opinion and pray you hold fast to what you are called to do.

Maybe you are feeling the sting of jealousy or the burn of comparison? If it is hindering an encouraging response, I pray that you can release this to the Lord, trusting in his leadership, and ask for an encouraging word for them.

I pray that we all continue to grow into the person we desire to have within our own life: encourager, compassionate, loving, kind and uplifting.

XOXOXO

M

Good Grief

A local pastor here in Castle Rock attended Christianity 21 in Denver a few weeks ago – he had heard me present on “A New Matriarch” and sought me  out the next day to ask if I would consider doing another spoken word at his church. He was preaching on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and wanted to incorporate more creative expressions of our response to remain confident in the Lord, even while we may be suffering.

I love it when God does this. He prompts us to extend an invitation to another, without even knowing how or why they were highlighted to us. And then, we hear their story, and go,” Oh wow, that was so God!”

Welp, this was one of those moments.

For many who know my family, this message to the Philippians to hold fast to the Joy of our Salvation, is completely in line with our journey through Leukemia. There were so many testimonies of Gods faithfulness, supernatural peace and unrelenting joy – that we were able to remain steadfast in our faith, and eventually stand victorious.

So, I chose 10 words from the passage in Philippians that he was speaking on (verses 12-26) and chose photographs of our journey that matched our stance in response to Paul’s invitation.

I have posted the link to the video presentation here, but I thought it would be neat to write out the words with the pictures.

At first I thought this would be easy, until I started rooting through old photos. It was tough. Memories of fears, worries and weaknesses surfaced even though the pictures were full of joy and peace.  What a miraculous triumph and a sweet reminder of how good our God is.

Be blessed….

LOVE
LOVE

LOVE: I pray that your love will overflow– more and more – and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding …through the testimony of my family.

GOOD NEWS
GOOD NEWS

GOOD NEWS: We must ask ourselves, does the good news remain good, when news we receive is bad? Can the goodness of Christ stay at the forefront when all else is overwhelmingly devastating?

CHAINS
CHAINS

CHAINS: We find ourselves bound in chains: whether a diagnosis, circumstance or a limitation – defining and restricting our freedoms.

IMPRISONMENT
IMPRISONMENT

IMPRISONMENT: The truth is: our limited abilities will never be a limitation of our faith. What this world may take from us, our faith – it cannot touch.

DEFENSE
DEFENSE

DEFENSE: And so we stand. Rooted in our Savior, for our strength comes from the Lord.

REJOICE
REJOICE

REJOICE: And the glory of a living God remains a triumphant celebration – though we may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

HOPE
HOPE

HOPE: And just as David cried out amidst his suffering, “As for me, I will always have hope”. So must we proclaim our trust – our hope – in the goodness of our Father

COURAGE
COURAGE

COURAGE: And through this hope, we grow courage. Courage to face another day – whatever it may hold –wherever it may lead. Allowing our hope to overshadow weaknesses and fears

REMAIN
REMAIN

REMAIN: And we remain… rooted in community, surrounded by those who’s trust in the Lord intercedes on our behalf. We carry one another’s burdens and lead each other towards greater unity

BOAST
BOAST

BOAST: So that we may boast, in the goodness of the Lord. We may proclaim his mercies… his provision… his supernatural peace, in our life. Our testimony is a living sacrifice – painting a portrait of hope for this world to see.

XOXOXO,

M

Gone

A personal letter from Melinda:

Friends,

For those of you who did not know, we were expecting.  For those who did already know, yesterday I miscarried at 12 1/2 weeks pregnant.

Three months of journaling, gratitude, joy, dreaming and nurture.  Three months of enlarging breasts, swollen belly, nausea, and fatigue, while loving every minute of it.

A few drops of blood lead to a long evening of painful labor.  Passing clots and other debris upon each wave of contraction.

The ultrasound revealed there was never a fetus. There was, however, a fertilized egg that sent my fertile-myrtle uterus into outright baby-ready mode.

You see, she was very eager.

nest2

She reminds of me of those times I’ve quickly cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the toilet and sweated through a hyper-speed spot mop session, only to find out the company I was preparing for, had to humbly cancel.

All that work.  And for what? I was perfectly fine living in the midst of a filthy house. I was content, until the slightest notion of someone entering my space. And at that point, there was work to do.

You see, my sweet uterus, she was so eager for a guest.

Yet, upon resting after a hurried rigmarole of cleaning house, I take a look around, and smile.  Oh, what a lovely home I have.  Did it really hurt to tidy up a bit? Did it kill me to burst out a  quick sweat  for a dear friend? So then, I sit and rest with a cup of tea, enjoying my space.

Today, here I sit, by a toasty fire, sipping tea; tenderly content. There have been tears. And now, we are comforted and resting in our space.

Three months of nurture have done us well.  Three months of quieting our minds, our thoughts and our life; focusing on purpose and intentional living. Three months of gratefully looking upward with hearts full of thanksgiving. Three months of gratitude have done us well.

For whatever reason – research suggests it may have been chromosomal or a genetic abnormality – the fertilized egg was not authorized by the Creator, to further its development.

Throughout this family’s journey,  we have learned to trust in our Heavenly Father in every aspect of our life.  And so, in this, we trust his halting of this life.  We also trust his deep love for us,  to not have to know why.

I rest my head against His chest today, receiving his comfort and wrapped up in his love.

Peace flows through this family.

Peace rolls through this home.

 

Love,

The Cadwalladers