I Turned 40

On Saturday, June 15th, a significant transition of life occurred:
I said good-bye to my 20’s/30’s (my “young” adulthood)…
And said hello to my 40’s/50’s (my “middle” years of adulthood).

Middle-aged…

Hmmmm, that’s a very strange and kinda awkward title to now have to wear.

But can I be honest here?… I’m actually very happy and quite at peace.

When I think back to how I felt in my early adulthood years, it can all be summed up into one hard word: insecurity.

Perhaps others have “found themselves” during those two long decades (kudos if that describes you!). But I wasn’t so lucky. It took me *20 years* of soul-searching, praying, questioning, trying and failing (then trying and failing again), and finally getting into counseling before I began to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Anxiety. Depression. Stress. Overwhelm. Struggle. Questioning: am I good enough? smart enough? mature enough? capable enough? Self-doubt. FEAR. Frustration. And to boot, I picked up some pretty poor/immature coping mechanisms to deal with all of these big feelings.

What do I want? What did I need? What are my boundaries? Who were “my people”? What thrills me? What is for me (and what is NOT for me)? Where do I fit in? What should I be doing with my life? What do I do? Where do I go? How do I live? WHO AM I?

But now as I step into 40, that insecurity of my youth is gone and has finally been weathered away. I KNOW who I am. I know what I want (and what I DON’T want). I know what I’ll tolerate (and what I WON’T). I stand up for myself and my beliefs and needs. I KNOW what to embrace (and what to run from).

I finally discovered that I am an empath and an HSP (which put together a LOT of missing pieces). Knowing this made it incredibly easy to change up my inner and outer worlds so as to create a lifestyle that beautifully accommodates my needs.

The fear of man’s approval is finally dying. I’m doing what I need to do. All the should’s and ought to’s are being put to rest. I’m figuring out who God made me to be and do here on this earth. I’m not being tossed around by the waves of people anymore.

For once, inside and out, I can finally breathe and dance and REJOICE.
I’m finally enjoying life.

It’s actually with great relief I say good-bye to the insecure days of my young adulthood. And I’m gladly, joyfully welcoming my 40’s and beyond. I’m absolutely thrilled to see what God has in store for me and my beautiful family. I’m ready for an adventure!

So I officially entitle this next decade of life: Fun & Free Forties!

Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

ABIDE

I am the Vine and you are the branches. He that ABIDES (remains) in Me, and I in him will produce (bear/bring forth) much fruit; for apart from (without) Me you can do nothing.
~John 15:5

Are you “connected to Source”? It’s a little New Age-y catch phrase thrown around quite a bit these day. To followers of that movement, it could mean God/god, the Universe, a Higher Power, the Divine, etc. Basically what they mean is that there’s something outside of ourselves that’s bigger than we are that we can connect with– and this force will give us guidance, intuition, information, and inspiration. I also saw this type of terminology quite a bit when I was working within the drug and alcohol counseling community and the 12-Step programming. They would use the blanket term “Higher Power” because not everyone was open to the God of the Bible. But there’s no doubt about it, having faith in something outside ourselves definitely aids in people’s healing and their conquering of mental health issues. Just take a brief survey on Google and you’ll see all over the place that faith brings healing.

I’m not into New Age ideology. And I do believe in the God of the Bible (Jesus/Holy Spirit). But I really got to thinking this morning about being “connected to source” in regard to being connected with God. What does that mean? What does that look like? What benefits would come from such a practice?

John 15:5 immediately crossed my mind.

To be “connected with source” (the God of the Bible) looks like ABIDING, or another word for that would be “remaining”.

God paints for us a beautiful visualization about Him being a Vine and we Christians being the branches. Just quiet yourself for a moment, get away from distractions, take a deep breath, and go there with me for just a few moments to really get a mental picture of this.

Imagine a vine… actually see the branches growing out from this vine… see the ends of these branches weighted down with grapes… really take a moment and see this image in your mind… go through your senses and make this mental image real… what does the vine and fruit feel like, look like, smell like?… what do the grapes taste like? what’s going on in the vineyard? are there any sounds like birds or wind or farmers working in the background?… The more you can bring your five senses into this visualization, the more it becomes meaningful…

So long as these branches ABIDE and remain connected to the main vine, they can bear fruit. All the nutrients and life energies to maintain life and growth and fruitfulness flow through this main vine. But as soon as a branch is cut off, what happens to it?… It withers, dries up, shrivels, and eventually dies and decomposes. It has been cut off from its life source. It can’t produce and create life on its own. A cut off branch can quite literally accomplish nothing.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 1, esp verses 1-3:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers.

There are two main parts to these verses:
1- don’t get cozy with sin/sinners
2- delight in/meditate on the Word of the Lord

Why?

*to be like a tree planted by streams of water
*to yield fruit in season
*so that your leaves do not wither
*so that whatever you do prospers

This is what ABIDING is: remaining “connected to source” (God), allowing His life blood to flow to/through us and grow within us fruit, to flourish, prosper, to never shrivel or wither or die off, to produce and create, to yield, to mature, to be alive/radiating life, always supplied with everything we need for life and godliness.

The life flowing through that vine and the water rushing through that stream… they never stop flowing. They never dry up or tap out. They are *always* rushing and pumping and giving and sharing and pouring. It’s an abundant, never-ending supply.

And you, yes you, are completely welcome to drink from it. God would LOVE to richly bless you with life, abundance, prosperity, and multiplication. He desperately wants to see you flourish and flower and bloom and grow and produce and share with the world. And He is providing you with everything to make this happen.

So today I leave you with this intention: ABIDE in God

As you go to work, take care of your family, sit through baseball practice, clean your house, exercise, file paperwork, go to sleep tonight… focus on ABIDING in Him. Really take moments today to think about and visualize that branch (you) connected to the vine (God)… and the tree planted by a stream of water… about God’s never-ending supply of nourishment and life that He willingly and lovingly wants to pour into you. Accept that gift. Open your hands and heart to the life that He dearly wants to give to you. Connect to source. Let Him pour life into you. He is SO for you!

If you haven’t started a meditation practice, I would *highly* recommend it. It doesn’t have to be any sort of lengthy or fancy process. Five minutes would be plenty. Doesn’t matter what time of the day. Just get alone someplace where you won’t be interrupted. You can sit or lay down. No noise, no distraction, no cell phone, nobody needing you. Take a deep breath. Then take a couple of mindful breaths. Focus on the in-and-out feeling of your breathing. After you do that a few times, do a quick body scan. Are you holding onto stress anywhere? Clenching? Tightness? Try to relax those areas. Then for just a few moments, think about the Scriptures mentioned today about ABIDING. Really visualize what that looks like to you. Take a few moments to pray. Open your hands to receive God’s abundance and life. Thank Him for all that He has done (and will do) in and through you. Take another deep breath… and… you’re done!

Another awesome way to really integrate with these Scriptures is to do EFT/Tapping while slowly reading and meditating on them. Not familiar with this?? Here’s a great little info clip on it. There are acupressure points on your face, hands, and torso and when you tap on them while saying aloud Scriptures (and/or positive affirmations), it’s meaning more deeply gets into our hearts and minds. It brings awareness of deeper issues that need to be dealt with. It clears the mental/emotional clutter and blockages and replaces it with words of truth. It calms the nervous system. I personally thought it was terribly silly in the beginning– but I stuck with it. When I first started with EFT, it was to help deal with my anxiety, stress, and fear issues. It worked ok. But when I got the idea to incorporate Scripture and Bible-based affirmations instead– it got taken to a whole new level. Not only has my anxiety been healing more quickly, but I’m also way more easily able to memorize Scripture. It just seems to “stick” now! Tapping works. Give it a try. It takes practice. Let me know what you think! If you’re already incorporating EFT/tapping into your Bible Study routine, I’d love to hear your experiences with it!!!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You SO much for giving us Your word. Thank You that we have truth to anchor our lives and hope into. Fill us with faith. Fill us with Your word. Help us to ABIDE in You and stay connected to You. We love You. And we are SO thankful for what Your Son, Jesus, did on the cross for us. Thank You for giving us things like prayer, meditation, visualizations, EFT/Tapping, etc. to calm our nervous systems, to better help us focus on You and Your word, and for your truths to deeply penetrate our hearts and minds. May Your words “stick” with us today. Pour into us Your abundance and may we flourish for You.
~Amen

It’s time for us to more than just survive–
We were made to thrive!!!

Read more: Casting Crowns – Thrive Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

ABIDE in Him

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #ABIDE #flourish #prosper

Deep Thoughts With Mel: Weight “Loss”

I don’t know about the rest of y’all… but when I hear the word “loss”, something kinda seizes up inside me. I get a feeling of yuck & angst.

The word “loss” to me always seems to mean something BAD:

*I “lost” my job.
*I “lost” a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth.
*I “lost” money in the stock market.
*I “lost” my kid at Walmart.
*I “lost” my wallet or cellphone.
*I just got dumped or my friend moved away… I “lost” that relationship.

Loss = bad.

Can you think of any time when “loss” is actually a good thing? Cuz I can’t seem to think of anything.

SO… why do we use the term “loss” when referring to our weight?

If the term “loss” has such a negative connotation to it, then why would it all of a sudden be considered a *positive* thing in reference to our weight?

I know we’re talking semantics here– but stay with me…

If “loss” is almost always considered a *bad thing*, and by that I mean:
-something to avoid
-something not enjoyable
-something not good
-something painful
-something that causes grief & trauma
-something dark & not happy/cheerful
-something that’s not safe

And if our brains are regularly programmed to see loss as bad…

Then seriously, WHY relate LOSS with our weight?!

It honestly doesn’t make sense.

Maybe when we say things like “I need to ‘lose’ weight” our brains start firing (possibly totally unconsciously) with “no no no, that’s bad & not safe & possibly a painful thing & I am not going there!”?

What if what we call “semantics” is actually the very thing that keeps us from dropping in pounds/keeps us overweight?
What if the thought of “loss” is the very thing that’s causing our bodies to literally cling to the extra weight because that feels safe and loss is unsafe?

Maybe we should instead change our wording to something more choice-based and safe?

What if we said INSTEAD something like:
*I need to “let go” of this excess weight…
*I need to “release” this extra weight…
*This extra weight on my body is no longer serving me– I’m “allowing” it to go…

I’m serious, our brains are crazy amazing things. And words SO matter!!!

Talking like this to ourselves (and/or others) is basically saying that I’m “choosing” to let go… it’s “safe” to let go… I “want” to let go… it’s “ok” to say goodbye to the extra weight…

*Maybe our minds (& bodies) will finally begin to drop in pounds because it’s now a safe and happy thing to do.
*Maybe our minds (& bodies) can relax and finally let go.

What do you think?
Would a change of perspective and wording make the difference?
Does anyone have experience in success with re-wording their health journey?

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Deep Thoughts With Mel: Yelling Parents

From my experience, usually by the time a parent is screaming it’s because they’ve threatened and repeated so much that they’ve finally “had enough”. They can’t handle the disobedience any longer and so they blow their tops. Where that “too much” line is can change from day to day.

But there are other reasons for yelling, too:
-I’m distracted with XYZ and I don’t have the brain-space (or time) to deal with bad kid behavior right now.
-I’ve got some sort of inner turmoil (unrelated to the kids) that’s brewing inside and bad kid behavior (even minor) throws me over the edge.
-My mom/dad yelled so that’s just how I parent.
-I feel so alone in my parenting (lack of support)– I’m so frustrated, tired, and worn– I don’t have the energy to deal with yet another bad kid behavior situation.
-My yelling seems to be the only thing that gets them to jump and move so it’s just what I use because it works.
-Yelling just feels like a quick & easy option.

Whatever the reason(s) for the yelling, what I’ve observed is: it’s setting an unrealistic example to the child on how to properly respond to all forms of authority… and to God.

Most adults and those in authority *don’t* yell to get obedience. And if they do, that’s a flaming red flag that there’s dysfunction and that we may need to withdraw from that person or organization. It’s unhealthy. It’s an abuse of power that needs to be addressed.

Typically the way it works is: someone in authority makes a request. You can choose comply and there’s generally a good consequence. You can choose not to comply, and there’s generally a negative consequence (often done swiftly). It’s taken care of calmly, matter-of-factly. It is what it is.

You didn’t do _______ so ________ happens.”

No screaming or yelling.

In fact, in all my adult-ing years I can’t remember a single person in authority ever YELLING at me or anyone else to get obedience and compliance from another.

You don’t show up for your shift… you get reprimanded.
You don’t show up for another shift… you get fired.
No yelling necessary.
It’s not rocket science– it’s just a natural consequence for poor behavior.

But here’s the thing… the boss was serious the first time. Not the second time, or a third time, or when he’s good and mad and yelling. If a boss *does* threaten and repeat and yell to get his way, that’s poor leadership and the staff needs to address the issue or hightail it outta there! That’s poor business practice.

Normal people in normal positions of authority don’t normally yell.

So why do we yell at our kids?

Listen– I am NOT trying to lay on the guilt. And I’m certainly not exempt. I’m not a perfect parent that’s perfectly calm and kind and who never yells. No one is!

But just consider this with me: really, why do we yell?

Yelling is not the standard process in the real world– the one in which our kids will be entering at age 18.

And what about God? Does *God* yell at us to get obedience? Scripture says He speaks to us in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). I’ve never heard Him yell at me. He won’t yell at my kids (or yours) either.

Here’s a fantastic article on this: https://www.gotquestions.org/still-small-voice.html

So I guess I say all this because it’s been really affecting the way I parent as of late. It’s turning into a game changer for me– and I wanted to share my thoughts on yelling in hopes that maybe it will help other parents out there, too (and reinforce the concept in my own life).

If our children are expecting the future authority figures in their lives to threaten & repeat and/or yell at them to move… they’re in for a rude awakening. It may be super hard for them to hold down a job. As a yelling parent, I am not properly preparing them for adulthood and the work force.

And as a yelling parent, I’m not properly guiding them in their adult walk with God either. They instead need to quiet their hearts and minds, listen for, and slow down to hear God. If they wait for God to yell, in a much worse way than the job force situation above, they are in for an even ruder awakening. They may very well miss what God put them on this earth to do. They may even throw in the Christianity towel so to speak because they “never hear from Him– maybe He just doesn’t care… maybe He’s not even real”.

So rather than mustering up the energy to clean up my speech in my own strength (which has never worked in the past), I’ve instead been convicted in the heart about how I am preparing them for a fruitful adult life in the workforce and a fruitful walk with God. Somehow, in this paradigm shift to “future focus”, I’m much more able in the here-and-now to be patient and calm and matter-of-fact in my parenting.

I expect ________.
If you don’t do _______ then ________ is your consequence.

No yelling. No heated debate. No arguing.

Just plain natural consequences.

If we can learn to lead from natural consequences, then when our kids leave our homes and our authority: they’ll be ready… they’ll be prepared… they’ll have been trained to listen (the first time).

When I stick to natural consequences: it works! And I’m finding it actually requires a *quarter* of the energy that yelling does! The hardest energy requirement is having to stop & use my brain to look for the suitable consequence (which can take a bit of ingenuity).

I am SUCH a work in progress, y’all. I’ve got a long way to go. But I’m not a failure– just in training. And I’m SO glad that I have been made aware. That’s really what I’m wanting for all of us– to become aware, like *really aware* of how we are preparing our children for their future.

We need to pray for God’s help and creativity in parenting.
We need to be clear to our children on what our expectations are.
We need to begin allowing natural consequences for their disobedience to occur.
We need to stick to our guns and trust the process.

But awareness is always the first step.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Spring Blessings

1) I have taken a big step of maturity these past couple of weeks– I finally reached out and asked for help regarding my anxiety/panic issues— and I’ve started seeing a therapist. Regardless of the fact that I myself graduated from college with a BS is Psychology and Addictions Counseling… it’s nearly impossible to diagnose and treat oneself– as I am “too close to the patient”. I have fussed with it now for six years. And though I have made some headway, it’s still there.

There’s just seems to be such a cultural stigma with mental health issues. It’s like people think you’re weak or something. It seems especially difficult if you’re a Christian: maybe you just don’t know/love/*trust* Jesus enough. That’s not helpful at all.

I’ve been to my therapist three times now and… it has just been an incredible experience. He listens and asks just the right questions. He points things out I’ve never noticed. He’s been able to put into words the chaotic feelings I’ve not been able to make sense of. His perspective is unique. He’s shared breathing exercises that I can do (even in front of people & they’d never know) to bring calm to my nervous system. He’s challenged me. He’s given me big things to ponder & wrestle with.

WHY ON EARTH DID I WAIT SO LONG TO GET HELP?!

I am NOT weak. In fact, it’s actually a pretty bold and powerful thing to actually admit you’re not Wonder Woman (or Superman) and to get help/perspective.

By no means have I got it all figured out yet– and I’ll prob be seeing him for awhile– but I can actually rest and relax now knowing that I’m not crazy or weak or forever stuck with anxiety. He’s pretty certain we can nip it in the bud. Praise God. Very much filled with hope right now.

If ANY of you are wrestling with anxiety or depression or whatever, please do NOT hesitate to talk to a therapist!!! You are not weak!!! You’re actually a super strong person to reach out and ask for help!!! I’m telling you, it will make a world of difference in your life!!!

2) I have decided to include along with my mental health therapy: running. Today, with three of my children, we laced up and hit the pavement. Dude, we are SO out of shape. (LOL) What a laugh we all had when the torture was over. But guess what, we’re still alive and we’re gonna do it all again tomorrow… for both our physical and *mental* health. It was slow-going but we put in 2 run-walk miles:

3) I am SUPER duper thankful for the ability to homeschool. I truly freakin’ love teaching my kids and providing learning environments for them. My older kids are mostly self-learners at this point and so the majority of my time is spent teaching my Little Ones. It’s just something I thoroughly enjoy doing. LOVE being with them and sharing life with them.

4) I was joking around today with someone about what our “spirit animals” would be. Now, I don’t really believe in spirit animals– it was just a silly convo we were having. But if spirit animals were a real thing, I would totally choose Pikachu. Such a cute little fun creature, seemingly harmless… but don’t ever cross him. (LOL) I am wearing this t-shirt today & it makes me so happy:

5) It is in the high 60F’s today!!! I AM LOVING IT!!! I LOVE having the windows open, feeling the breeze, smelling the outdoors, hearing the birds sing… I can’t explain it– but it makes my heart sing.

6) Loving/awesome neighbors that bring treats for my fam… just because. I could not have asked for more kind/better neighbors.

Enjoying Spring Break

1) After lunch, I took my little ones out on a long walk. Together we spotted the new growth & blooms all around– it’s like looking for nature’s treasures. They’d already played outdoors for at least an hour earlier… but they just can’t seem to get enough of the warmer temps, sunshine, and beauty all around. Honestly, I’m right there with them. Spring is very much to me a sort of “waking up” from Winter’s sleep and quiet. Warmer months make the kids and I feel so alive and happy and free. Here are a few of the “pretties” the kids spotted today:

2) I’ve decided to sort of change-up my parenting a bit to make it a little more positive. Mostly in the way in which I speak to my children. I’m forever telling my children (& hubby *wink*) that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I hear what my loved ones say to one another… and though there is truth to the words in which they speak, it often sounds so doggone harsh! Biting! I try to walk my kids through speaking more properly and kindly, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. And then I noticed something… *I* speak harshly, too! *I* speak words of truth, but the WAY it is spoken often seems to have such a negative flare to it. 😦

So I’ve begun to make some changes in the way I speak to my kids:

Ex: honey, please don’t do that. You’re going to break it. Why not instead try rephrasing that with a little less negativity? Rephrase: honey, let’s respect property and treat it nicely. I basically said the exact same thing, but with less bite.

Ex: stop doing that! It’s annoying me! Rephrase: hun, let’s find something better to do with all that energy you got. How about _____ instead?

Ex: pick this stuff up! Stop leaving it in the stairwell. Rephrase: sweetheart, let’s take care of this before it gets stepped on.

It’s actually been making a HUGE difference in the atmosphere of the home. It’s been a whole lot quieter– I’ve had a lot more willingness from the kids to help around the house– the kids have been more loving and affectionate toward me– & they’ve even begun correcting their own speech toward each other. It’s hilarious listening to them say “let me rephrase that” and then trying to speak again more lovingly to their sibling.

I had no idea how negative/harsh my words and tone were!!!
Oh, that I will keep this up!!!
Cuz it’s working!!!

Momma’s, we have so much power & influence. Never for a second think what you’re doing is pointless or mundane or not making an influence in this world.

3) So I’ve decided to go back to using homemade wet wipes. I’ve used them on & off for years but haven’t done it in a while. Well, I’m back in the mood for the time being. 🙂

Came across these recipes: https://allaboutclothdiapers.com/my-three-favorite-homemade-wipes-solution-recipes/

I tried my hand at recipe #3: Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Wipes Solution. Instead of using paper towel, I cut up a piece of fleece into wipes-sized squares and put them in a 1 gallon ice cream tub. For all my wipes made, I ended up tripling the recipe. We’ll see how they do!

This is one batch of the solution.

4) I just LOVE making homemade bone broth!!! We use it for all sorts of recipes! It’s especially awesome to have some on-hand for when sickness strikes at home. Nothing like a bowl of broth with noodles to ease upset tummies or stuffed up sinuses. It’s like magic healing elixir. Plus, it’s made with love and I *swear* that love can be detected in my broth. 🙂

I keep all types of bone & veggies scraps from when I cook– saving them in the freezer. When my bags filled up, I would dump it all in a huge stock pot, add several cloves of garlic, add water close to the top– and then cook it down for several hours on the stove top. Strain & freeze. But now that I have an Instant Pot (8 qt), I can make a broth in 30 min (+ heat up/natural release/forced release time)– so maybe I’m not saving a whole lot of time IP-ing it. LOL

Man, it’s good!

Gratitude Du Jour

I am really-truly-absolutely-fully loving this winter and all the icy cold blasts & falling snow & days off & a MUCH slower pace to life.
A long, sweet season to breathe, relax, enjoy, get cozy, grow, heal, think, plan, dream.
Peace. Tranquility. Quiet. Stillness.
My newly snow-covered blue spruce, home to a beautiful family of cardinals, collected snow on its limbs, slightly blowing in the cold, biting breeze.
I’m a sucker for holiday window clings. Valentine’s is just around the corner. *LOVE*
Hot cocoa and marshmallows to warm you from the inside out.
Perfect after playing in the snow.
A sweet treat that brings big smiles to my loves.
“Hearts of Love” I write to each of my children from Feb 1 to Valentine’s Day.
Every day I write out just one thing I absolute ADORE about each child & leave them on the counter to greet them in the morning. Individualized. Personalized. Never a repeated note.
You can bet when they see them come February, the sleep from their eyes instantly vanishes.
They just LOVE getting love notes from their momma.
(And momma loves writing them, too.)
My kids end the morning with both full bellies & full hearts.  
Though all of my children are homeschooled, my two eldest kids take choir at the local public school. (Tra la la) We, too, celebrate all the days off from public school due to weather. Our days at home have been seamless, uninterrupted days of flow (much like holidays & summer vacation). It’s been a lovely break from the norm.
Surprise lunch dates with my honey. When he pops out of his office and on the fly asks if I can go out to lunch with him. Can’t believe we’re finally to the stage in parenting where this is even a possibility. He still takes my breath away.