Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

Adventure Week Ten

“If I only had a girl…”

My mom had a girl.

Obviously ūüôā

She tells me that while she was pregnant she practiced tying bows, just in case.

Hair ribbons.

Dress sashes.

Maybe that’s what happened to me. I never learned to tie a bow.

And (so) I had a boy.

Shhh. I know logic doesn’t work that way.

I also love my boy.

And I love other boys, too. 

In fact, every infant I’ve had the joy of keeping for awhile when their mommy returned to work – was a boy. 

Adventure Ten is no snub towards boys, but it is ALL ABOUT THE GIRL.

I blamed so many things on being an only child. With no siblings at the dinner table to mock my body or tease me about boy crushes, I could keep anything I wanted a secret at home. And secret keeping can become habitual.

In time, I grew to blame myself. Why didn’t I tell my mama stuff? Why was I afraid to ask if she would buy me makeup? Why did I try to hide my tears when that guy didn’t like me back? Why did I never tell her all I wanted to be when I grew up?

Eventually I learned to blame Eve, and her tasting of good and evil, and her ushering of death.

With the help of professional counseling, I came to see myself and my mother and my grandmother as girls caught in a cycle of mere survival.

The death curse took nanny’s mother away from her when she was just a little girl. What happens to a girl without a mama…

Girls without mamas can fail to learn how to celebrate.

I’m pretty sure that my mama was rarely celebrated. I know it had some to do with the alcoholic father. Some.

But I think it also had to do with the mother who probably wasn’t celebrated herself as a child.

I once blamed socio-economic status, but I don’t buy into that anymore. You can celebrate within any budget.

Girls with mamas that don’t know how to celebrate can fail to learn it, too.

Right now you are probably wondering about that word: celebrate.

And I will try to explain.

Let’s use the most basic of celebrations: the birthday party.

My mama always offered me a birthday party. 

ALWAYS.

EVERY YEAR.

I had a love/hate relationship with the birthday party. Inside my head, I dreamed of how it might be. I contemplated locations. My favorite was the back room of the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlor. Some elementary school friend had hers there one year. But the excitement was offset by sweaty palms when I considered the ending of every party I’d attended:

– the opening of presents, in front of everyone.

That was enough for me to forego any group celebration. 

Why? I wasn’t shy. I had friends.

Why were birthday parties ok, just not my birthday party?

I think it might be this –

I never saw my mama have a birthday party.

And I’m guessing that she never saw her mama have a birthday party.

Let’s be clear. I saw my mama and my grandmama celebrate other people, but I’m not sure that I ever saw them celebrate themselves.

And I followed them.

It didn’t matter that the offers came. I followed their example, not their offers.

And I think it hindered my friendships with other girls. 

You psychiatrist readers will want to scream, “You’re simplifying things.”

Perhaps.

But there are girls who know how to properly celebrate themselves and their accomplishments and there are girls who don’t.

And the difference can divide.

We non celebratory girls can grow judgmental. 

I am grateful for girlfriends who taught me better. I could list a couple of dozen. Most celebrate from a sense of wonder and gratitude and joy in Eve’s creator, who called her out from hiding.

They celebrate bodies and minds and beauty in every sort of form.

They laugh and cry and twirl.

And I’m making up for lost time. I’m telling my secrets and listening to others. 

I’m loving a lot of girls.

And on Adventure Week Ten, I became a trunk keeper for a little boutique clothing store for girls.

All ages of girls.

I have some catching up to do.

Sshhhh.

Mama’s birthday is May 14th and I’m throwing her a party and somehow I’m going to get both of us to wear the ruffly pants and twirl.

Thanks, Ashley!

And Matilda Jane!

WATCH THE HEART OF THE TWIRL
 
 Someone’s watching; celebrate yourself!

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Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

Adventure Week Nine

Adventure HOSPITALITY week was all about a four year old and a twenty-four year old who came to stay awhile.

The four year old boy brought joy. He’s a head full of curls and twinkling eyes and smiles. I was part-time sitter for eight days and I was well loved. Mr Andy was, too. Wyatt would bid Andy farewell with a “Have a good day at work, Mr. Andy.”

When I picked Wyatt up at preschool, he would announce, “I had a good day.” And he would ask me, “Did you have a good day?”

Wyatt taught me that just about any day can be a “good day” and that blessed me.

He also reminded me that four year olds like snacks.

That blessed me, too.

One morning during our car ride, Wyatt proclaimed that parents start off as babies. He continued. “Everyone starts out as a baby.”

I chimed in. “Even Jesus started out his life here as a baby.”

Wyatt agreed. But never wanting to leave Jesus as only a baby, I just had to add – but Jesus grew up, didn’t he?

It was at this moment that I learned that Jesus liked snacks, too. I had never considered it.

Yes, Jesus growed up and when he growed up he got to go shopping all by himself and when he went shopping he bought popsicles and Mary and Joseph let him eat the popsicles that he was growed up enough to get.

Eight days of that, y’all. Eight days of that smiling, positive, snack eating goodness. One afternoon we made stove top, not microwave, popcorn. There was hot cocoa to be had, too.

And homemade play dough. Did I mention that I like homemade play dough?

Was it a little trouble? Sure. But saying “yes” to some part-time babysitting is worth it.

The other hospitality “yes” this week seemed a bit more risky.

Let me tell you about our house.

We have this room.

Off the garage.

With a bed.

And a closet.

And its own three-quarter bath. (That’s one with a shower if you’re not in the real estate know. A half bath has a sink and a toilet. A full bath adds a tub. A three-quarter bath lacks the full tub, but has a shower.)

We have been known to let people who don’t require a full bath to move into this room.

More than once.

Months ago Mr. Andy was perusing a political website and asked me if we could volunteer to house a campaign worker. I won’t get into the politics here. That’s not what this post is about. You can read about that in¬†Adventure Week Two¬†if you like.

Nothing happened for so long that we just assumed that nothing was going to happen.

And let me tell you that I can appreciate the beauty of offering something, but never having to actually follow through with it. That’s some easy stars in a crown right there and I’ll take them.

This did not wind up being one of those times. For on Friday night about 8.30 pm, Mr. Andy’s phone rang.

After a bit, he came to me and asked if it was ok if a campaign worker came.

“Yeah,” I answered.

And he still stood there with the phone in his hand. And I pretty quickly understood what kind of conversation they’d been having.

“Tonight?”

Yes, friends. The campaign worker needed to come “tonight” – that very night.

And you think that you have to clean the house before you can invite someone over for a cup of coffee …

I am here to tell you that you do not. You can extend sufficient hospitality without much effort.

Mr. Andy and I pushed a few stored boxes around in that room off the garage, made sure there was toilet paper in the three-quarter bath, and¬†¬†did a quick vacuum. During this bit of frantic housekeeping, ¬†Mr. Andy let me in on the upcoming guest’s name.

Let me just say this – and I do try to keep folk’s privacy intact even when I’m writing about my adventure with them – I’d never ever hosted a Mr. Houssain in my home before.

He arrived about 10.30 pm and I told him about the tank-less hot water heater and that he was welcome to anything in the kitchen that he could find and that I’d left towels for him and so forth. And then I went to bed.

And I don’t think I saw Mr. Houssain for a few days.

He worked long hours.

Sometimes hospitality is a lot easier than you think it’s going to be. Mr. Houssain lived in our garage room – well, slept in our garage room – for over a week before I even served him a meal.

To say that he was not much trouble would be an understatement.

Really the most we did for this young man was to leave the garage door up.

The twenty-four year old young man brought hope.

I saw that this generation is polite and hard working and generous.

Mr. Houssain was a lot like little Wyatt.

He smiled a lot. He said thank you. He determined that each day would be good.

And our lives were blessed by meeting him.

I’m kind of thinking that one day I might be voting for both of them …

Together they’d make a great ticket on any party side, my week nine guests.

Who are you inviting over this week …

 

 

 

 

Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

Adventure Week Eight

Have you ever prepared a meal for a crowd?

How large a crowd?

Have you ever counted pennies to cover your grocery bill?

How many pennies?

Have you ever been hungry?

Really hungry?

Doesn't this look yummy?
Doesn’t this look yummy?

Adventure Week Eight started months ago. Spring 2015. I was there at church on a Sunday morning in the lull that comes between the¬†liturgy of the word¬†and the¬†liturgy of the table¬†–

Announcement time.

And Father Lyon began telling us what our corporate act of mercy would be in Lent 2016.

The vestry of Church of the Good Shepherd had decided to partner with Feeding Children Everywhere. Over the course of the year, we would aim to collect $4,000 and on Saturday, 20 February 2016, we would work together in the Parish Hall during our Lenten Retreat Day to assemble meals for 10,000 hungry children.

You read that right.

10,000 meals.

I was super excited. But I did wonder how.

What kind of meals? What sort of assembly line?

Cooked ones? Surely not, some of the meals this organization provides are for international needs.

Meals to freeze? That couldn’t be. Our building doesn’t have freezer space.

Geesh. Space?

Our parish hall is not that big. How many volunteers needed? How many supplies?

Mind. Blown.

But still excited.

Throughout the year we heard short announcement blips. From the beginning, the attitude presented was – we are going to do this.

And we are going to do it together.

And we did.

My Saturday started with Eucharist at 8.30 am. .The readings were aptly chosen. The gospel reading was about – what else – LOVE. And included the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Our meals were going to Syrian refugees and our prayers were specifically for them. I wish I could include them here, but I haven’t figured out how yet. Touching. Powerful.

And the homily instructed us that when we left the sanctuary and began doing our work, that our work would be incarnational.

Incarnational work is not always perfect.

There was a little attitude on our assembly line. Watch this commercial video, if you will, and notice the assembly line organization. They’ve got it down to a science.

(And yes, on my particular line Saturday morning, it was a science. We had a chemist, a nurse, and a nuclear engineer.)

We made bags of lentil casserole. I ladled pink Himalayan sea salt. That was my part. The line went salt, dehydrated vegetables, rice, then lentils into a plastic bag. Then quality control check weighing.

IMG_1533
between 320-330 on the scale, please

Then the bag was sealed. And counted as it went into the large box. And at some number of bags that I can’t remember – a bell and celebration happened.

We worked about an hour.

Yep. About an hour to assemble 10,000 meals.

Last night I made one of the lentil casseroles. I did add some grapes and deviled eggs to the plate. But, I’m pretty happy with what the refugees will get to eat.

It was good.

Doesn't this look yummy?
Doesn’t this look yummy?

Best part?

You could get up a group and do this, too. 

Feeding Children Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

Adventure Week Five

Week five was adventure with beauty.

Just look at them –

mops reunion
Hot Middle-Aged Mamas

Shawna Lee, in the middle there, she’s the one that named us.

That high school girl on the left – that’s Bev, the one of us that has a legal adult aged child.

And me, I was the last to the party.

The MOPS PARTY. Mothers of Preschoolers.

Time machine on back to winter 2006. I had an infant and my local friends seemed to all already have a bunch of kids. One friend, with four kids already, knew I needed some community that she, living on the other side of town couldn’t give in depth.

She suggested MOPS.

And when I didn’t google it and locate a nearby group – she did the googling for me – and told me when and where to go.

I showed up at¬†St. Andrew’s Baptist Church, left my baby with some older ladies, followed the sound of voices interspersed with laughter, and found a table spread with the best brunch goodies I’d had in quite awhile. They talked about doing a craft or something that wasn’t really my thing. But I didn’t care. Because I was recovering from thrush and two ladies there knew secrets they were willing to share about how to feel better before you got completely better.

And in my motherly discomfort, I laughed.

Time machine forward a bit. I join the ranks of MOPS field leadership and serve underneath those two beauties in the pic above.

For a couple of years. Maybe.

Fast forward, present day.

We facebook now.

We’re hot middle-aged mamas,¬†remember? We instagram, too.

But we didn’t make time for face to face or selfie portraits for years.

Yes, I said years.

Friendship. It sometimes takes root quickly. It sometimes bears fruit for season upon season.

The one in charge said we were going to meet up this year. So we did.

She chose this spot. Beauty continued. Have you seen¬†Amelie’s French Bakery?

The place, ahem, is curated. The atmosphere – well, let me just copy and paste straight from their own website:

Atmosphere has always been of the utmost importance. The decor is the real jewel of our bakery, it gives us our je ne sais quois. From the beginning it has been painstakingly curated piece by piece by owner Brenda Ische. ‚ÄúI find interesting aspects in the most mundane objects, seeing them for what they could be, not what they are‚ÄĚ is just a piece of her philosophy on design with its playful mix of French antiques, bright colours, tangible installation art elements and always with strokes of the suis generis.

From its inception we hope to elevate and fascinate each and every person that walks through our doors.

Ms. Ische, amongst your stuff, three mundane-ish women became more. Together, we were more than we could be alone. And it was beautiful.

Our spirits were elevated. Our conversations were fascinating.

The phones rang notifications. The world raced on outside without us.

(Actually a storm brewed outside unbeknownst to us; that’s another adventure.)

But we giggled and ate bon bons.

Really.

macarons

I had two of these.

Ok, ok. And also a chocolate cinnamon one.

If you live nearby, if you’re passing through the neighborhood –

GO TO¬†Amelie’s French Bakery!

or, if you’re in the throes of young mothering, find a¬†MOPS.

or, if you’re not in Carolina or not a mom,

or even if you’re a man –

find an old friend and reconnect.

where do your roots run deep?

there’s beauty there…¬†

season after season.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Ain’t it Time for a GIVE AWAY …

Logan Giusti, Lego Master
Logan Giusti, Lego Master

Sometimes life just grabs me by the – facebook pic ūüôā

This thing happened on social media last night and I got permission, y’all. I got permission.

Did someone say temple, Abraham Pace of Toys, Tech, and Labyrinths?

(I know, you said tabernacle, but let’s go with it!)

Need a close up? Look at this –

Oops. You thought I meant close up of LOGAN, didn't you?
Oops. You thought I meant close up of LOGAN, didn’t you?

Play is powerful.

So is recognition.

And I’ve been known to use a few incentives to allow children (and parents) to know clearly what it is that I’m trying to teach.

One fall, I actually did a LEGO challenge.Children earned a LEGO piece for things such as attendance, memory work, church mission project participation, etc. On the last Sunday of that season, there was a LEGO building challenge. Children could join with their friends and combine pieces or work alone.

Tallest. Largest. Most Creative.

We chose some fun superlatives to praise at the end of competition.

So let’s have a little blog competition.

LOGAN GIUSTI IS GOING TO CHOOSE THE WINNER!

Anyone. Any age.

Submit your beingmissmelanie LEGO¬†creations¬†right down in the comment section below. I’m going to encourage Logan to give extra points to those who can tie in their creation with a beingmissmelanie¬†post (keep it G rated, folks!) or a story in The Stories Curriculum.

Similar play is a mainstay of my little people curriculum and I add creative play to SEASONS AND SACRAMENTS for older ones, too.

Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd helped refine my play purpose.

BACK TO THE LEGO CONTEST!

SUBMIT PHOTO BELOW IN COMMENTS

DEADLINE TO ENTER IS MONDAY, 29 FEBRUARY 2016

WINNER ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY, 2 MARCH 2016

What’s the prize????

I hear ya.

Look, it’s early. No creativity here before coffee. And let’s make this a one size fits all¬†prize!

WINNER RECEIVES $20 – CASH.

THAT’S IT.

NOT LOCAL?

LOGAN AND I WILL MAIL YOU $20. WE TRUST THE USPS.

Ready…

Set…

GO –

 

Posted in Lent and Easter, Uncategorized

My Struggle with Ashes

Anyone who has delved even just a bit into this blog is aware that I’ve moved from faith tradition to faith tradition in my church¬†journey.

And I hope that I’ve made it evident that I have an appreciation for each one of them that’s rubbed itself against and inside of me.

Each have been a part of the whittling away of self that John spoke of –

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 ESV

And each have also been a part of the leaving that which is fully me, exposing the image of Him in my uniqueness.

I scoffed at the ashes.

For a long time, I judged the unknown and threw stones with my thoughts.

It started innocently.

What is that on your head?

or

Hold on, let me get that for you.¬† Not even realizing that I was about to momma spit clean that friend’s forehead of a holy seal.

But innocence moved. Pharisaical.

Why’s he showing us what he did before I even had breakfast today?

Couldn’t she wash her face?

Yeah, you needed that after your rousing Mardi Gras, didn’t you?

Why bother? You haven’t been to church since Christmas.

Real Christians don’t have to do that stuff.

Real Christians …

Yeah. I went there.

And then one year I got ashes on my own head.

The first full year that I entered into this liturgical, church calendar oriented tradition, I was pregnant. By the time Ash Wednesday rolled around, I’d had a baby and he’d even been¬†infant¬†baptized.

And I thought that baby was some kind of beautiful. Never mind that they told us in the hospital that he was jaundiced and it took several years later for us to look at his just a few hours or days old photographs to see it. Never mind that he (and I) had thrush for likely months. Never mind that he already had such a manly little look about him that he didn’t look right in that expensive smocked outfit that grandma had bought when we found out that he was a boy.

You get the idea don’t you. He was mine. And so he was in so many ways just perfect.

And we took him all kinds of everywhere. Restaurant. Concert. Movie.

And Ash Wednesday.

Yes, on my very first Ash Wednesday service of my entire life, I had an infant in my arms. And the scriptures spoke of death. And because he’d been a healthy one, I’d never considered it. Not really for him.

And I wept.

I had asked one time earlier in that season of my life if we would ever have altar calls in this new church home I’d found where we had communion every week. And a man answered me.

“We have one every week,” he said.

And I believe that he was referring to going down and taking the bread and the wine. Because you can remain seated and not partake. You can also go forward, refrain from taking, and get a spoken blessing.

But while there was no communion that morning, it was an altar call experience for me that first Ash Wednesday. My submission to the truth was not what made it true.

Remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.

But submitting to the truth did something to me. I walked down an aisle and allowed a man to mark me with ashes. And my heart was saying as he did that, I know and I believe. I am among the ones who choose evil even when I want good. I am among the ones that live in the knowledge of things that should not be known.

It was hard enough to claim.

But my husband carried him in his arms as he walked down the aisle behind me. They went together. My love and my baby.

And I had always stopped when singing A Mighty Fortress is our God. I’d never sang every word of verse four. I knew that I had trouble with letting “goods and kindred go.”

Yet here they were beside me, marked with ash, my kindred.

I gave my family to God that first Ash Wednesday.

I do it now every year. My baby is ten now.

Except one year. One year I did not make it to Ash Wednesday.

One year I woke to a telephone call so very early in the morning. The caller id was not my kindred. It was St. Francis Hospital. And I knew my daddy had died.

I called that man who had first marked my head with ashes as I drove down the interstate in the darkness. “I won’t make it this morning,” I said. “My daddy is gone.”

It was a bit of a laugh. My daddy being of my old faith tradition. The one that never marked their heads. I kind of thought the joke was on him and that in the end he’d appreciate it himself – him returning to dust on a day he’d never observed.

And I didn’t give up anything that year for Lent. I said I’d given up my daddy and that was enough.

But inside, the real truth was that I was not sorry. My daddy had lived among so much dust, so many ashes.

And that Ash Wednesday, I knew another meaning. The ashes make a cross. And this world is not my home.

Trudge on to resurrection friends. Trudge on.

He rises from the ashes.

Never to return.

And in just a few hours, my love and baby and me are going to get marked. I’ve got some dust I’d love to get rid of in this old heart and body of mine. And I’m glad He’s still whittling away.