My Goody List: Supplies From This Week’s Bible Journaling Posts

Hi friends! Thanks for joining us this week on the DaySpring Bible Journaling Group on Facebook, at the Flippy Doodle studio, and here at OhSeriouslyMelody.com.

I wanted to share my supply list and favorites from this week! (And maybe a recommendation or two.) Photos of the Bible Journaling pages posted in the group are here, and supplies are available at the links below.

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Quick Tip:  Just getting started with Bible journaling?

If you aren’t sure where to start, I highly recommend the Created to Create Bible Journaling Starter Kit. It has plenty of supplies to get you started – even a great devotional to help you get in touch with your inner artist, even if you don’t think she’s in there! And the supplies are fantastic right down to the cute clear stamps and the pen that writes beautifully in your bible. It’s around $50, so the shipping is free also. Easy-peasy.

 

Bibles, Journals & Books I Used This Week:

  • (in)Courage Devotional Bible
    I love that this Bible has beautifully written devotions, just enough space at the bottom for journaling on the pages of scripture, and it’s just a beautiful Bible.
  • Illustrating Bible
    Oh-so popular and for good reason!
    What I love: It’s big – basically 10” x 10” square – and is spiral-bound with paper that is 75%-ish heavier than other journaling Bibles, so it’s great for paint (even watercolors), stickers, and all sorts of creative journaling. I joke that it’s as big as a newborn baby when you get it, but mine is now so full it’s basically a toddler!
  • Crossway ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible – Interleaved (Sometimes I call this my “Legacy Bible”.). The leather is so rich and luxurious, and I love that the more it is battered and used, the more beautiful it becomes. The leather cord that ties it shut makes it easy to wrap up a small handful of supplies to take along also, so I often wind up carrying this one to church.
  • Large Print (!) Summer Garden ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible: This is just a large-print version of the ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible so many of us have used for years… and with a beautiful cover. I often use this Bible when I teach. It has the standard 2″-ish margins that make journaling easy, but the print is larger, so easier on the eyes.
  • Workbook Guide to Bible Journaling by Shanna Noel. I am having such a great time with this workbook and learning so much. Definitely worth it for beginners and Bible Journaling veterans alike.
  • 100 Days of Bible Promises by Shanna Noel: Such a wonderful and uplifting devotional, and I’m getting so much out of it! My favorite feature: this heavy paper is perfection for creative journaling.

Kits:

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A bit of my 1st page from the Women of the Bible – Better Together Kit

Other Supplies:

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“Beauty for Ashes” Page – 100 Days of Bible Promises

  • Illustrated Faith Homespun Alphabet Clear Stamps
    I love these big, fun, chunky letters! Also pick up the acrylic block if you don’t have one. (Tip: In a pinch, I have been known to use the plastic lid from my stamp pad in place of the acrylic block – especially when I have temporarily misplaced my block. As sometimes happens…!)
  • Illustrated Faith Focusing on God Tip-Ins
    I like like to add these to my journal or Bible with washi tape. Best of all, if you’re using a standard journaling Bible, these are designed to fit in the margin perfectly. (They’re still great in other Bible versions though, as you’ll see from my posts this week!)
  • Black Eyed Pea Alphabet Stickers: Card stock alphabet stickers that match the clear stamps above.
  • Bright Hearts Enamel Stickers: I really like to add some depth and dimension to my pages, and these enamel heart stickers are bright, cute and just a little puffy to stand out on the page.
  • Misc decorative papers and stickers purchased at Hobby Lobby.
  • Clear, printable sticker paper (my new obsession) available anywhere in-store or online where you might purchase printer paper. I love that it’s a little translucent so you can usually still see what’s behind the sticker once it’s placed on the page.

Quick tip for buying from DaySpring: Shipping is always free for any $50 purchase.

 

Thanks for joining us this week, friends! Questions? Add them in the comments, or feel free to pop over and join the DaySpring Bible Journaling Facebook Group for more detail on the individual posts this week. (Or better still… pop over to check out our latest editorial calendar, and follow along with us!)

Have a fabulous week! And as you’re working on your art and Bible journaling pages, remember this: It doesn’t have to be perfect! Just enjoy.

The Illustrating Bible

My Illustrating Bible at the Flippy Doodle Studio.

 

Note: Some links on this site are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. No pressure to purchase, ever, and opinions expressed here are always just mine.

#MaybellinethePuppy Takeover: Guess What I Ate? Vol. 1

Note from Melody: For those who remember that my tiny puppy Maybelline (“Maybe”) used to sometimes take over my Facebook feed, know that I have locked her out as best I can! However, there is definitely no stopping her from posting on my blog, because she is definitely a puppy that will not be silenced. So here she goes again…
IMG_0754Hello, my name is Maybelline, but you can call me Maybe. I have done it again, and everybody is flipping out for NO REASON.
 
No one seems to understand that it is my life’s mission to chew up anything that will fit into my mouth. Tonight, while the lady was taking things out of her art “she shed” doohickey so she could take them to “the studio” (wherever that is…), I noticed a lovely new toy that was clearly left inside there just for me.
 
It was SO beautiful – shiny, black, and it beckoned to me. Because it was made of plastic, I delighted in hearing it go crunch-crunch-crunch. I surreptitiously carried it inside so I could joyfully chomp it into smithereens.
 
But NO. The little guy narced me out to the lady! He hollered, “Maybe is chewing up a little black thing!” The lady came to the sofa, where I was enjoying every bite, took it away from me and… ugh.  Folks, she SMOOTH FLIPPED OUT.
 
The lady was hollering, “It’s an ant trap! Maybe ate an ant trap!!! Gahhhhhh!”
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Delicious! I LURRRRRB shiny plastic things! -Maybelline

 

 
And then suddenly everybody’s hair is on fire and they’re washing my tongue in the sink. They’re WASHING MY TONGUE IN THE SINK, Y’ALL. #Rudeness.
 
The lady completed chewed me out, but all I heard was, “Blah, blah, blah Maybe. Blah blah BLAH!”
I just wanted to know what she did with my new toy. I totally wasn’t done with it, yo.
 
Everybody eventually calmed down after the lady typed into “the Google” and found out I was going to be OK. She said I could have an upset stomach, but you know if that happens the only downside is she gets to clean that carpet again, and that’s on her. What do I care if that happens? I’d eat that plastic thing again if they’d give it back!
 
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She has NO idea the magnitude of the things I’m plotting… Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa! -Maybelline

OK, I’m going to bed now. Nobody is flipping out anymor, so I guess I can relax now. I’m trying to decide what’s next on the “toy” list – her favorite shoe, his flip-flop, or maybe the little guy’s Chaco. He did narc me out, after all.
 
Live in fear, little guy. I am still basically Voldemort in canine form. Bwa-ha-ha-haaaaaaa….
 
Love always and hugs and kisses,
 
Maybe Baby
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This is my best side. No autographs, please.

Getting “Psalty” With My Book Club Besties

IMG_1225I recently tried a little Bible and art journaling experiment with a group of girlfriends. It was especially awesome for us in part because we weren’t all regular “Bible journalers”. In fact, the four of us could be called an unlikely group of friends, as we are all very different.

A few years ago, the four of us led a women’s Bible study together at church. And this was no regular Bible study. (Meaning we weren’t exactly polite ladies sipping sweet tea and smiling over tea cakes.) It a group of women who got realover a period of months. We got personal. We got raw. We got vulnerable. And we got close. And we’ve stayed that way. It’s glorious.

We call ourselves The Book Club.

That’s why I wanted so badly to start this what I’m calling my “Get Psalty” experiment with this group… We are so close yet so different, and some of us love to get creative more than others! (And at least one of you just started laughing reading that sentence…)AI9oeqb3QHy76r8asjr%6g

My immediate reaction was: all the heart eyes for this journaling psalter!

And I thought to myself: The girls will love these!

Maybe, I thought, it would be cool to exchange them with each other. I knew it would be a great way to lift them up. It’s the exact opposite of a “Mean Girls”-style “burn book”, and it could really help us celebrate each other.

But would they try it?

So I brought the idea to my Book Club girls. I suggested we each have a Psalter and do a little work in it ourselves, then exchange them and work in each other’s.

The idea is that we keep exchanging them over a period of weeks, months or years, and in doing so we end up studying the book of Psalms together and celebrating each other and our friendship in the process. And we come away with a treasure for each of us – a keepsake with words from our girls that we will treasure always.

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The Book Club girls showed immediate (but brief) excitement, followed by some apprehension and maybe a teensy bit of terror:  We love it! How awesome! But wait… what if we make a mistake? What if my page looks stupid? What if it isn’t as good as hers?!? What if completely ruin it? What if I’m not good enough at this!?!?  What if what if what if…?!?!?!?

Isn’t that how it so often goes for us as women? There’s excitement about something new, followed by that fear of failure… the comparison to others that makes us feel we don’t measure up… that (no-good, conniving, lying) voice inside us that says to us, “You can’t handle this. You aren’t good enough.”  (Except we are. And you are.)

 

So we did it anyway. And I’m so happy that we did!

We had to speak the words out loud that we would have grace for ourselves and for each other. “Mistakes” do not exist… only happy accidents (thank you, Bob Ross, for that phrase!).

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Now, we exchange psalters about once a month or sometimes a bit more often. We take someone’s (not our own), do a page as a tribute to or prayer for each other, and then we return them a week or two later. And each of us fights the urge to cry. Every. Single. Time.

Flipping through one of our psalters, you’ll find things like:

  • “You inspire me to be a better person. You are truly my sister.”
  • “Love you, my friend with the infectiously amazing smile.”
  • “God, you continue to pour out your love through her life and friendship…”
  • “God, thank you for… she is truly a gift for me and I love that you use her to show me who You are…”

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When my spirit has been weaker than my day has been long, flipping through my psalter and reading what my Book Club sisters have written legitimately changes my spirit. Quickly.

It’s glorious. And I will cherish it always.

 

SwyIwvQgRX+jULmS5SCiMASoon, at my Bible Journaling studio called Flippy Doodle, I’ll be hosting a “Bring Your Besties and Get Psalty” workshop for those who want to try it out. Bring a friend, your sister, daughter, mother, neighbor, bestie, colleague, or even commit to try it out with someone you don’t know well yet. I assure you that you’ll cherish the result!

For more information on upcoming Flippy Doodle workshops, check out our Facebook page events, FlippyDoodle.com, or see the upcoming events at Rogers Experimental House (where the studio is located).

 

For supplies and more Bible Journaling content, check out the Bible Journaling supplies page on DaySpring.com.

 

Illustrating Bible

 

Note: Some links on this site are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. No pressure to purchase, ever, and opinions expressed here are always just mine.

 

#LegacyBible

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My first #LegacyBible.

My grandmother passed away when I was 17. Days later, when family were going through her things and dividing up each of the items she had kept for years, my mother asked if there was anything specific at my grandmother’s I really wanted. I could think of only one thing – her Bible.

See, my grandmother’s Bible was many, many years old. The outside was quite worn, and the inside was even more lovingly used. This was not a Bible that had collected dust on a shelf; it had been used, and used heavily.

My grandmother was a firm believer in making notes and her Bible. Notes sometimes included the names of people for whom she had prayed and the dates, or sometimes the events about which she was praying. A note and a date on a Scripture in grandma’s Bible was a glimpse into the depths and breadth of her prayer life.

I was so grateful that my family allowed me to have this treasure. It was indeed a valued family heirloom. It was her “legacy Bible.”

Years later, I discovered something called “Bible journaling,” thanks to my friends at DaySpring. I believe it resonated with me so deeply because in a way it was already part of my family’s faith history.  And while she wasn’t using paint or stickers or drawings, my grandmother had spent years making notes and her Bible – meaningful notes – notes that had a lifetime impact and touched us many years after she had already departed this earth.

Daniel Page

This page from Daniel was originally in Grandma’s Legacy Bible but was a picture she cut out (!) and pasted into a notebook for me. Forty years later, I carefully removed it from that notebook and mounted it on archival card stock and made it a permanent part of my #LegacyBible. A cherished part!

Now, as I’m documenting my faith in my own Bible, my hope and prayer is that this Bible will become a family heirloom as well. Maybe some of the words I write or draw or’s even scroll in my Bible will be read years after I’m gone and maybe make an impact on someone years down the road.

If you read through my grandmother’s Bible, for instance, you might find a verse labeled Melody and Sharon with a date from the early 1973. The Scripture refers to the Potter and the Clay. My belief is that what my grandmother was praying about was that I would have a relationship with my mother.

See, during that time in our lives, my mother was suffering with serious mental health struggles. Her health was very poor. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and I know her greatest fear was that I would never be close to my mother. I know that she prayed fervently against that and prayed bravely and boldly for my mother in for me and for our future together.

Those prayers are most certainly answered, as I grew older and found great redemption in my relationship with my mother despite all of her troubles. My mother was a believer, a very faithful woman, and I came to be a woman of faith as well.

Another great find in my grandmothers Bible or notes from February 1987. She had underlined Psalm 121:3: He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

That scripture was so tremendously important because during that period of time my grandmother had an aneurysm in her leg. Doctors feared it would cause her death and were prepared to amputate her leg. My grandmother, a very independent woman, feared that amputation much more than she feared death. And she prayed fervently for that surgery not to happen.  What’s most interesting about that passage from her Bible is that it was the very night she passed away. I believe she breathed a prayer to God to take away the need for the surgery, underlined that beautiful scripture, closed her Bible and placed it at her bedside, then slipped into bed and peacefully went home to meet Christ.

That Bible is so precious to me.

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These days, I spend a lot of time Bible journaling (and now even working in my own little Bible Journaling Studio called Flippy Doodle), and my most precious entries are in the leather-bound journaling Bible I lovingly refer to as my #LegacyBible. It includes lots of underlined scriptures, dates and names of family and friends, references to important events in my life and the world, and photos and mementos that I treasure. I pray it’s the one our little guy will hold onto long after I’m gone. And I especially pray he will read it and get even a tiny sliver of the sort of joy I’ve found in flipping through my grandmother’s Bible.

It’s history. It’s family. It’s legacy.

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One of my Legacy Bibles.

Psst: Friends who are preparing to make the next (incredibly beautiful) version of the Illustrating Bible your new #LegacyBible, head over to DaySpring.com at the link below and sign up for “back in stock notification” on the Illustrating Bible page. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available for preorder AND when it’s officially back in stock!  Enjoy!
XOXO,
Melody

Illustrating Bible

Disclosure: Some links on this site are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. No pressure to purchase, ever, and opinions expressed here are always just mine.

He Makes All Things New

I lost my sweet mother a year ago last week.  This post about her life and journey originally appeared on the CompassionThatCompels.org blog in January, 2016. Compassion That Compels is an amazing organization serving women battling cancer, and it is very dear to my heart. Read on for more…

 

I just love Isaiah 43:19. It offers such beautiful promises in so many Bible versions, of course, but a favorite of mine is the ESV: “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

A pathway through the wilderness and rivers in the dry wasteland. Wow! It gives me chills! And He does exactly as He promised. I know this because I’ve seen it happen up close and personal – in my own family.

See, there were times that “wasteland” and “wilderness” could have been descriptors for my family situation. My Mom, while she was an amazing lady – fun, friendly, hilarious, quick to smile, quick to love – suffered and struggled, particularly with her health, both physical and mental. First she began displaying symptoms of bipolar disorder as a young woman in the late ‘60s, a time when it was poorly understood and difficult to treat. Her mental health cost her dearly in relationships with friends and loved ones, with her feelings about herself, and especially within our family. My relationship with her as a child was a struggle, and her life was anything but easy in those days.

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But struggles with behavior and mood weren’t her only problems. She and my Dad tried for many years to have children and miscarried three – THREE – times before I was born. By what she called a “miracle,” she at last gave birth during their ninth year of marriage.

As she went through this “miracle” pregnancy, she didn’t know that her health was still failing. Shortly after I was born, Mom learned she had ovarian cancer and underwent a complete hysterectomy followed by cobalt (!) treatments and more.

Instead of enjoying being a new mother, she faced a terrifying fight. Her life was in many ways like hacking through the wilderness, struggling with each step just to survive. I know there were times when she feared she wouldn’t survive and others when she was convinced that she wouldn’t.

Even when doctors declared the cancer was gone, she feared it would return. Each checkup with her oncology team brought new anxieties, but thankfully, even 20 years later she was still cancer-free.

Her fears persisted though, and one could understand why. In the years that followed, she struggled to find restoration in the relationships damaged by her emotional problems, and she continued to battle health problems – first a tumor (benign, thankfully), then hepatitis, kidney problems, heart disease, bypass surgery, diabetes… and so on.

At times she felt plagued. Maybe even picked-on. How could all this strife be God’s plan for her life? She feared her life would be cut short. She feared she wouldn’t even see her daughter grow up. But she knew God’s promise of restoration.

God makes all things new. He makes a pathway through the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Throughout all of this, Mom never lost faith. She trusted God. She praised Him. She believed in His promises and celebrated the promise of life with him.

Even when the physical attacks persisted, she fought with the ferocity of a lioness protecting a cub. She was intent on seeing her cub grow up and on seeing the renewal God promised.

I know she never thought she would see her fiftieth birthday, but she did. And then her fifty-first. And then more…

Mom around 1961ish - sassy

Mom had sass!

She persevered. She persisted with an infectiously joyful spirit that never ceased to make everyone around her laugh.

That stood true even in her final days, when her physical heart was failing. Alzheimer’s had taken its best shot to rob her of joy and dignity, and it failed to bring her down as well. She praised God in the midst of every battle, knowing that He and only He could make all things new.

My sweet, sassy mother lived to be 70 years old. When she closed her eyes the last time, she had been free from cancer for over 43 years.

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Mom’s 70th birthday party

Even in those final weeks, she still celebrated all God had done and was doing in her life. He had healed her physical body of so many problems. He had given her decades of complete freedom from symptoms of bipolar disorder. He’d brought newness and healing to her relationships with family and friends – and even with me. Especially with me. The difficult relationship I had with my Mom as a child was quite simply transformed by a loving and merciful God to become something beautiful, something to be treasured, and I am so grateful. He indeed made all things new for her and for us all.

Recently, when I flipped to Isaiah 43:19 in my Bible, I was again reminded of God’s promises for renewal. A few weeks after Mom passed away last year I began writing down many of my prayers in a journaling Bible. I recorded these words: “God, I know you are doing something new in me… I feel it in my stomach, in the unquiet part of my mind, the part that feels distress… Lord Jesus, please go alongside me. Lead me in every step. May I know and discern your voice and no other with each step I take. Quiet my thoughts and my pride and help me take action… just what you would have me do. I trust you, God… I give you my fears… my selfish wants and desires… Protect me, guide me, and anoint my journey. Praise you!”

He answers this prayer for me every day. In each day and in every moment He cuts through the wilderness for me. He creates rivers through every wasteland. He does indeed make all things new.

 

Compassion That Compels is a ministry and nonprofit with a simple mission to reach every woman battling cancer with a Compassion Bag, reminding them they are never alone. To donate, or to request a bag for someone you know, visit CompassionThatCompels.org.

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On Feeling Helpless – Lessons Learned on the Water

 

Helpless, powerless, stranded, fearful – no one wants to feel this way. Especially me.

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 (NLT)

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Beautiful day on the Mulberry River

Recently, my husband and I found ourselves stuck. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we took a canoe trip down the Mulberry River in Arkansas. It’s a stretch of river we have canoed more than once (my husband has canoed this stretch literally dozens of times over the years). The weather was perfect, and ordinarily that would mean many, many canoes on the water. For whatever reason this day, though, we were by ourselves.

It’s a surreal feeling to be totally alone on the river. When all goes well, it’s peaceful, serene and beautiful, but there’s still strange sense of unease. And when things go wrong, the solitude can quickly lead to discomfort, anxiety, even terror.

After three hours of peaceful paddling, we suddenly struck a big rock in the middle of a rapid. My husband had taught me to do the opposite of my instinct and to lean into the rock instead of away; it’s what keeps you from falling out of the boat. We were wedged against the boulder, though, and as we struggled to hold on and stay in the boat, we could hear the hull of the boat crack against the pressure of the rushing rapids. Moments later, we were both in the water.

The next minutes were crucial. We fought to stand up in the rushing water, using our paddles like crutches to help. The rocks on the river bottom were so slick that any movement of my foot felt like I would slide under. I knew that if either of us lost our footing and had to swim our way out, we’d have to again ignore our instincts by flipping over on our backs to float down the river. See, one of the greatest dangers in that environment is “foot entrapment” – getting a foot wedged in between the rocks on bottom and being pulled underwater – so “nose and toes up” becomes a safer (albeit frightening) way to float the rapids.

As my husband tightly held onto our gear and things, he slowly and carefully waded through the rocks and rushing water toward a small, rocky embankment in the middle of the river. As I watched him go, I clung to the boat’s hull as it was wedged against the rock, and I held a paddle wedged in between some rocks on the river bottom, praying to remain upright.  I couldn’t take a single step without help.

Minutes later, after leaving our gear on the rocks, he carefully made his way back to me, and he held onto me as I tearfully slid around the boat’s hull and over the boulder that held it in place. He helped me walk through the worst of the water until I could stand on my own using only my paddle as a brace. As I waded toward the rocks in the middle of the river, he slowly headed back to try and dislodge the boat.

When I made it to the rocks, I sat down and looked around. There was no earth – only rocks and tree limbs sticking out of the water, and there was rushing water on all sides of us.

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While it looks like shoreline, these rocks and limbs were just sticking out of the middle of the river. The water was on all sides of us and moving quickly.

 

My phone was in a dry bag clipped to my life jacket, so I got it out and scrambled to find our GPS location on the map and took a screen shot. I was grateful to have enough cellular signal such that I could post what was happening. I feared that the boat would be impossible to move or so damaged it wouldn’t float, and before either of us braved trying to swim through the rapids and then hike out, I wanted to ensure that someone would know where we had become stranded and where we were headed.

I posted a message on Facebook just before 7 pm, then tucked the phone back into my dry bag and clipped it back on my life jacket as my husband slowly made his way back to the rock embankment with the boat. The boat! I had never been so happy to see a canoe. Thankfully, somehow he had been able to dislodge it, and while it was damaged and leaking, it was still floating.  We dragged the boat to the safest spot we could reach, got back in, and got back on the water.

It took over an hour to finish paddling out and make it to Campbell Cemetery, where my husband’s vehicle was parked. In the hours before we wrecked and the subsequent hour we spent paddling out, we never saw another boat on the water; we had been completely alone.  And in those moments when I sat on the rock alone watching him struggle to free the boat, I felt completely powerless. There was water all around us, and the sun was getting lower every second. If he got into trouble, I wasn’t sure I could make it to him (or vice versa), and I couldn’t envision how we could get through the water to make it to shore to try and hike out. If we had to swim out, I feared the rocks would either trap or injure one or both of us. All I could do was sit there helplessly and pray.

All I could do was pray.

Just before dark, we pulled the boat from the water, made our way to the truck, and posted that we were safe at last. We also very gratefully changed into dry clothes and realized that the only casualty of the whole ordeal was a bit of (repairable) damage to the canoe, one empty can koozie that had floated away, and a twisted ankle from when I fell once trying to make my way to the rocks.  We were lucky and blessed to be safe.

 

The chaos on the river that day brought many lessons to my mind, starting with my husband’s reminder to lean into the rock instead of away from it. Isn’t it so common that we want to lean away from the toughest things in our lives? Sadness, fear, grief, shame – each are obstacles which I struggle to avoid. Sometimes I deny they exist at all. I lean as far away as I can, never confronting them directly, an action which does exactly what happened on the river – it swiftly dumps me into the abyss. Once I’m there, I can’t take a single step without help.

When I instead “lean into the rock” by trusting God and relying on Him to help me, only then can I make my way to safety. It’s slow sometimes, and it’s definitely not always my comfort zone, but it gets me there in one piece.

“As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…”
1 Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)

As I drove home, I thought a lot about how it felt, sitting there on that rock. I detest the sense that I can’t handle things alone. I prefer to be self-reliant and hate asking for help almost as much as I hate admitting that I hate asking for help.  But I couldn’t handle it alone. No one could. We had to stay calm, lean on each other, and trust God to guide us out of the water.

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
Psalm 107:28-29 (ESV)

 

As I crawled into bed that night, I continued to think about that sense of weakness and powerlessness I felt, sitting on those rocks with nothing but rushing water on all sides. Even typing the words still makes my heart race. But I know that neither my weakness nor my powerlessness are too much for God, because He uses them to draw me ever closer to Him.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 

 

17 Things I’d Say to My 17-Year-Old Self

How many times have you said, “If I knew then what I know now, I would [blank]…”? I have to admit I’ve thought about this sort of thing a lot.  No, a lot. If I could go back in time to the ’80s and talk to 16- or 17-year-old Melody, what would I really tell her? Not just “eat your vegetables” or “finish college earlier,” but what would I actually share with her that could change the future for her?

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This is (Seriously) Melody – ’80s style – junior year of high school

So, I’m writing this letter to my 17-year-old self, and as I begin I’m not even sure of all the things I’ll say. I might not even finish in a single letter, really.  And maybe it’s silly, since I obviously can’t invent a time machine and go back and actually talk to her, but I’m doing it anyway. Because I have things to say to her I really wish she had known back then. So here we go.

Dear 17-Year-Old Melody,

Hey, girl. It’s been almost 30 years since we’ve connected in person. It’s me – the 46-year-old version of you. Mel, we’ve got to talk.  Pay attention to the things I’m going to share with you, and I will change your life. Seriously. Don’t be offended when some of these sting a little (and they will); I promise you won’t be sorry if you listen.

Here are 17 things that will change your life for the better over the next 30 years (perhaps even longer). Buckle up, and let’s get started.

  1. Know what you know and what you don’t. First (and sorry if this hurts a little), you don’t know everything. There are going to me many times when you think you know everything, but you do not. Recognize that now, and save yourself big-time pain later. Approach everything as if you have something to learn.  Live with curiosity.  In all things. Never assume you know more than others. About anything.

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

  2. Trust God with your life, and get to know Him better right now. This is the most important thing you can do. I can’t stress that enough. Talk to God. Use Bible studies to learn more about scripture. Read favorite verses in multiple translations. Look for the intent behind the words. And stop listening to others when they say, “The Bible says…” before filling in something you or someone else is doing wrong. They mean well, but they’re often wrong, so go look it up for yourself. (Case in point, the Bible does not say “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That was William Congreve in The Mourning Bride. And that’s just one example.) Your life will be so much more fulfilling the moment you learn to trust Him and listen to His voice in all that you do.
  3. For the love of goodness, stop thinking about “the one”. Just stop. That guy you’re seeing is not “the one”. In fact, no boy you’ve met thus far is “the one”.  And further, stop worrying about it, because your validation does not come from the man by your side. “The one” is really the least important thing you can think about right now. Seriously. Meet some people, go on some dates, but save the spot on your left hand and the one deep in your heart for someone who comes much, much later. (Rule of thumb: If you wonder if he’s the right one or not, he’s not.)
  4. Wear sunscreen with the highest SPF factor you can buy. That’s probably about SPF 15 right now, but within 10 years you’ll be able to buy SPF50 or higher regularly. Use that. Tanning is terrible for your skin, and you will love the way you’ll look in a few years when others start to have skin like an old handbag. Premature wrinkles are no fun. Also, in a few years, you’ll discover something called a “spray tan”, and one session you’ll get a better tan than an entire summer baking in a tanning bed. Safely.
  5. Exercise a lot, but keep it simple. Walk, run, bike, canoe, kayak, surf, skate. Have fun, and keep moving. Just say no to fads like “step aerobics” that will be hard on your joints and will make you wear silly-looking, hip-baring ’80s-style leotards and sweatbands in neon colors. Especially just say no to the silly leotards.
  6. Dream big. So, this is super important and I know that no one is telling you right now: You can do and be anything. Seriously. Whatever your dreams are right now, go bigger. Don’t assume anything is out of reach. The world is bigger than you know right now. And don’t assume that your dreams will be easily realized. Everything Dad tells you about the need for hard work and a strong work ethic is 100% true. Avoid shortcuts. Take the tough road. Don’t give up!
  7. Be relentless in your pursuits of knowledge and adventure. Learn everything you can about everything that interests you. Your favorite class in college will surprise you (hint: it’s a science!). Ride a motorcycle. Study photography. Fly in a hot air balloon. Learn to paraglide. Regret nothing. Don’t be reckless, but embrace adventure in all things. You are going to have a great time.
  8. Ohwiththesmokingalready! I know you’re already playing with cigarettes – yes you are! Don’t lie. (I’m you, remember?) Stop monkeying with the stupid cigarettes. You’re going to want to smoke all the time when you’re 18 or so, and it’s stupid and stinky and you look ridiculous. Never start that disgusting habit, and save yourself countless dollars over the years… and more. Just don’t.
  9. Travel. As much as possible. Pay for it by saving every penny you would have smoked or used for something frivolous (like that white leather jacket with the fringe you’re going to think is so cool in a couple of years… It’s stupid. Seriously. Just don’t.) You’re going to study abroad in England later, but don’t stop there. See Europe and the Caribbean and Iceland and more. See every continent. Meet the people. Try the local cuisine. Avoid the guided tour. And stay as long as you can.
  10. Run from debt. (Your parents are right about this!).  Buy your first car with cash and save the money you’d make in payments to buy a better car and better and better and better and so on. Never have a car payment. Never carry a credit card balance. Never take out a student loan. There are better ways. You just have to sacrifice. You CAN do it!
  11. Forgive. Forgive your mother. Forgive your dad. Forgive your friends and enemies and acquaintances and everyone else who has ever or will ever wrong you. It’s terrifically important. But also know that forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to let any person remain in your life. It’s okay if your boundaries mean someone can’t be around anymore; what’s not okay is holding onto anger or resentment toward them.
  12. Spend lots of time with Mom and Dad. Write down their stories. Laugh with them as much as possible. Let Dad teach you to play banjo and guitar and bass and everything else you can think of, and let Mom tell you as many stories as she will tell.  Drink in every word and every moment. No matter how many years you have with them, it will never feel like enough.
  13. Your actions teach others how to treat you. Learn this now. Be kind and generous and assume positive intentions from others always, but understand that not everyone is inherently good. When someone treats you poorly (especially in relationships), pay attention. That little niggling feeling you get may be uncomfortable, but it’s there for a reason. It’s a warning, so heed it as such, and never, ever feel guilty for not allowing someone to treat you poorly.
  14. Eat the very best food you can all the time. Avoid fast food. Cook more often. Research recipes and take lessons on how to cook cool things. Have a sense of adventure about food. Explore the depths of your culinary palate. Become a snob about it and refuse to eat things that are just trash for your body. And stop with the sodas right now. They’re poison. You love ice water, so stick with that.
  15. And speaking of food – avoid diets. Seriously. And there are going to be some doozies that come your way, and friends and family alike are going to tell you how great they are. Grapefruit diets and cabbage soup diets and calorie counting and low-fat and low-carb and high-protein and high-fiber and nothing-bigger-than-your-fist diets. Ridiculous, all of them. Learn what the American Diabetes Association recommends, and eat that. It will never steer you wrong. Do that and stay active, and you won’t have to worry about “dieting” ever again.
  16. Volunteer. When you feel at your lowest, the best strategy you can employ is to take the focus off self. Go find an individual, a group, or a population of people, and do something small to make their lives better. When it’s not about you, you’ll feel better. And it will be some of the most rewarding time of your entire life.
  17. Speak the truth in love. Never be afraid to say “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know, but I will find out” or “I love you.” Also don’t be afraid to say no. It’s okay to stand up for yourself, and it’s okay to care for yourself first. (Actually, it’s imperative that you care for yourself first. If you aren’t a whole person alone, you won’t have anything left to share with others.)

That’s it for now, girl.  I might have more to add later, but start with these few, and you won’t be sorry. Promise!  Now don’t be afraid, go have a great time, and I’ll see you in a few decades.

XOXO,
Melody