The One with the Tiring Nothing

Besides going for a run every morning, I really didn’t do much of anything this week. I’ve never been so unproductive in my entire life. (Well, except maybe for that one afternoon sophomore year of college, right, Britt? “The Day Mel Did Nothing.” Yes, it was that infamous.) My husband is the sole reason I accomplished so much relaxing this week. He cast a lovely vision for me before we set out on this goal–“Imagine you’re in elementary school again and it’s summer break. You have no responsibilities besides having fun. What do you do?” Without him all but forcing me to just sit, I would have found things to do. There’s always something to do, right? 
I learned a few things from this week of sheer relaxing. First, my initial memory of summer vacation during grade school equals Little House on the Prairie. It was on every morning at 10am I believe, right before The Price is Right. I loved me some Bob Barker game shows. 
Secondly, I can handle some heavy duty television watching. (This is not what I learned. It’s coming up in a sentence or two.) It’s one of the only activities that requires almost nothing of me. Perfect. The funny thing is, I really do get bored and annoyed with tv after a while. It may not have happened quite as quickly had there been anything new and exciting on (thank you, “in between fall and winter programming.” sheesh), but there wasn’t. So most of the tv time was focused on dvds–namely SeinfeldPlanet Earth (thanks Mom and Dad E), The Emperor’s New Groove (thanks, Brian), Date Night (not as good as anticipated), and Friends. LOTS of Friends. I don’t know why, but that is the one show that both Kevin and I can watch over and over and over and over again and still get hours of enjoyment out of it. 
While watching tv, eating meals around the coffee table, and experiencing butt-numbness from sitting on the couch in one position for WAY too long, I also did a lot of blogging (and blog reading) and read a couple chapters in my recent library books–Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry and For Women Only. Kevin said I was “free” to do some baking and cooking if I wanted to, and normally I would have taken him up on that offer. But not this week. After the last month of NON-STOP food preparation for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and party after party, I was just plain burnt out. (This was the third thing I learned–the desire to bake really can leave me.) Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll be back to it next week. 
And finally, I needed a week where I was allowed to sleep in (till 8!), sit around in sweatpants all day, watch too many hours of television, never bake or cook or clean, beat my husband (for the first time EVER–in ANY game!) at Scrabble, and eat far too many pieces of fudge. It was refreshing. 
But also exhausting. I’m ready for regular life again. :)
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On The Failure

oh….Dear……..Father. My emotions are so raw right now. My thoughts are harried. My heart beats in a confused rhythm. The wounds still fresh. 
Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with myself. My failures stack one on top of another, again and again, as if attempting to mimic the tower of Babel. Dumb idea, I know. But my sinful nature seems to definitely has a mind of its own–and a very powerful one at that. 
WHY, GOD, WHY do I keep doing the things I hate–the evil I see within me? Why do I cling so tightly to the Law of Sin and Death?
How is it possible to know the good I need to do, and even to WANT to do that good, but to fail to do it. 
Over.
and. 
Over.
again. 
But alas, I know the truth of the matter. I am sinful. I fail. I will keep failing. But I am not a FAILURE. My identity is found in You alone. 
What a wretched woman I am!! Who will rescue me from this body of death?! THANKS BE TO GOD! for it is through the grace given me by Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The One with a Sermon-a-Day

I have a few idiosyncrasies. You know–those little quirks which reassure everyone that I really am a dork. One example of this is my iPod selection while running. A few months back, I subscribed to various podcasts after listening to a handful of messages and sermons that I appreciated. I wasn’t sure I would ever get around to listening to all of them, let alone becoming a “regular.” Who has time to sit around and listen to sermons for hours on end? And who in the world wants to listen to more than one sermon a week? I mean, most people can barely sit through their pastor’s 30 minute sermon, right? 
Not me. On the day I decided to run 6 miles, I figured having my mind distracted from the breathing and pain issues would be a good thing. I didn’t think sermons would be the motivating factor–considering the general running public prefers fast pace music selections to keep them going. Turns out I was wrong. Ever since then, I have come to look forward to my morning runs if for no other reason than the sermons. If you were to pass me running on any given day, you might see tears running down my face or overhear an “Amen” or a good laugh. It would be quite entertaining (and a bit perplexing) I’m sure. 
But that’s me. I’m motivated and captivated by hearing men of God preach in-depth messages–some lasting 45 or 60 minutes. Call me crazy, but I love it. 
The current sermon podcasts I subscribe to are Rob Bell from Mars Hill, Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church, Focus on the Family broadcasts*, and Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I really enjoy the Rob Bell and Greg Boyd sermons, and now I’m all out of fresh recordings. After all, there’s one sermon a week and listening every days means you will eventually run out. There haven’t seemed to be new Driscoll sermons, or at least not that have synced to iTunes or that I can find online. 
Here’s where YOU come in: What sermon podcasts do YOU recommend? I need a couple more sermons to subscribe to to keep my brain engaged. I just devour this stuff. So please, give me your suggestions.
*Never thought I’d enjoy Focus broadcasts, and though there’s some I skip over, quite a few are quality stuff in my opinion.

On His Leading

Jesus is calling, saying, “My child, don’t look to the left or to the right. I am leading you along a path which is for you alone. No one else will ever experience what I have in store for you. All I need from you is your hand tightly in mine, your eyes fixed on me. It may seem difficult to be living in a way that is becoming more and more set apart from this world. This is not cause for fretting–that only leads to evil. Your path will increasingly diverge from that of others. But you know what? This actually gives you even more freedom to love people. 
Today, stop and take the opportunity to rejoice in the intimate communion we share. Experience my peace and be filled with eager expectation of losing yourself in Me.”

The One with the Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned

The year two thousand ten has been one filled with beauty and excitement, stress and frustration. In honor of the upcoming new year, I thought I would share with you the top ten lessons I’ve learned in 2010. I have decided to name this list The Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in 2010
  1. I am fully capable of running farther than 3 miles at a time. I increased my speed and my distance this summer, and I’ve fallen a bit more in love with running now that I’m not afraid of distance.
  2. Having two cats is totally better than one. Even though there’s been bickering and throw up on my carpet, we are loving our two kitties and think they’re getting along quite well. 
  3. Focusing my ministry around teenage girls is where God wants me right now. 
  4. Substitute teaching is really not for me. I’m so glad my husband gave encouraged me by saying he’d much rather have me happy and at peace, than have a little extra money in the bank and a stressed wife.
  5. Obediently walking in God’s plan for life saves so much hardship and pain. It saves a lot of time and frustration if I just do it His way to begin with. 
  6. My husband is going to be a fantastic pastor–in whatever capacity God leads. (That is a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself saying.)
  7. No matter people think of me (or what I think they think of me), it’s ok to live a different sort of lifestyle–one that may not include much money or a professional job for me, but a life defined by obedience to Christ in my marriage, our next steps, in opening our home, in giving. 
  8. As a woman, I have an incredible responsibility to understand, appreciate, and partner with my husband as we journey through life together. There are so many possibilities for miscommunication and strife and dissension if we are not purposeful about understanding one another. 
  9. “Our” teenagers love us almost as much as we love them. :) 
  10. I have proven to myself that this blogging this is not a passing phase, but a wonderful part of my life. And in celebration, I created a domain name: kevinandmel.com 
Check out other Top Ten Lists at ohamanda.com

The One with Unnecessary Busyness

I’m not so good at slowing down. In fact, I stink at it. Kevin is always trying to convince me to sit down, chill out, and do nothing. But the thought of doing nothing is like torture to me. I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing. Sure, it can be. But it also has the potential for leading to exhaustion and overachieving. *sigh* Most evenings, I enjoy sitting down with my favorite television show and a snack to relax. But I typically have my netbook open as I write youth group newsletters, plan events, create headers, blog, edit pictures, send emails, et cetera. OR I’m working on a new necklace creation or reading a magazine or trying to find the best deals for my upcoming grocery shopping trip. 
But doing nothing is just unheard of. 
During those rare times when I resolve to set aside responsibility and experience a real break, it takes me a good hour or two to get everything cleared off and cleaned up. If my counters are full of miscellaneous papers, books, food items, dirty dishes, and crumbs, they need to be taken care of before I feel like I deserve the right to take a load off. 
So when Kevin announced we were going to be taking these couple days off to really do nothing I kind of freaked. I did manage to sleep in until 8am this morning–glory!–but then I worked until 1pm cleaning and organizing our Christmas loot, doing laundry, balancing finances, and cleaning thousands of plastic containers that once held 20 dozen cookies. I am now sitting on the couch, typing away on my netbook that is balancing on my sleeping Butter ball* enjoying the scent of the burning Cinnamon Pecan Swirl candle from my parents, while eating Christmas candy, watching Seinfeld and enjoying the company of my husband (who has moved his desk into the living so we can veg together for these days.) 
*the cat, for those of you who would like to think I’m implying my husband is a butterball. He’s not thankyouverymuch. 
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I know I’m insane. I know it’s not all that healthy. I know when our family expands, it won’t work this way. But for now, I’m going to keep things clean and enjoy my neurotic lifestyle. I’m sure I’ll reference this post at some point in the future. 
But you needn’t worry. Jesus is working on me. See here

On Setting Aside Busyness

From December 19 Jesus Calling

Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order. If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover that they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote to them.

Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind, so I can be in the forefront of your awareness. Remember that your ultimate goal is living close to Me, being responsive to My initiatives. I can communicate with you most readily when your mind is uncluttered and turned toward Me. Seek My Face continually throughout this day. Let My Presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing Peace into your entire being.

The One with our Quick Christmas Eve

[remember to start using the new blog url: kevinandmel.com]
Our Christmas is a little different this year. Yes, there was still the insta-tree (when Kevin pulled our decorated tree out of a huge spare bedroom closet), the endless baking, the icy cold morning runs, and the same ol’ Christmas tunes ringing through our home. But this year, we went low-key with our personal Christmas celebration. Normally, I’m a stickler for opening stocking stuffers Christmas evening and presents Christmas morning. Kevin tries to change my mind every year, and sometimes succeeds. But this year, we’re leaving for my parents’ house right after the Christmas Eve Service–meaning no time for gifts. That was fine–especially since we decided not to do gifts. But I couldn’t resist wrapping up a little something for him. 
So I stopped by the Dollar Tree and raided the food aisles with one goal in mind–find all of my husband’s personal favorite treats as a way of showing him how well I know him and how much I love him. The plan worked marvelously. He loved his Dots, Mary Janes, Bit ‘O Honey, Lemon Heads, Cashews, Jerky, Special Dark Hershey Kisses, Bridge Mix, Banana Chips, and Whale Crackers (better than Golfish!) (And yes, he is totally old fashioned in his tastes for candy.) This afternoon, after a lunch of leftover Christmas turkey and sweet potato casserole, he opened his gifts. He’s quite the experienced guesser too. We had a great time–laughing and enjoying the items I picked out. In fact, I’m eating some Sour Dots right now. 
Now it’s time to turn the oven on once again for our Christmas Eve pizza. “Why, pizza?” you ask. Well, because Kevin requests pizza every single day. And because we had pizza last night and I forgot to put the dough in the freezer–which left me with a very obvious (repeat) plan for tonight’s meal. After dinner, we shall venture over to the church for the teen skit and song rehearsal, then we’re off on a three hour trip. 
We wish you all a Merry Christmas
May you see Jesus in the celebration and give praise to the Father for the Ultimate Gift.