Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A New Look and a New Site

I've got a new look and so does my blog! Introducing lovingontheedge.com
... and me permanently without glasses! Please make note of the new URL, as this blog site will no longer be updated. My previous blogs and story are on the new site too.

So grateful to everyone who has followed me for the past 4 years. I am excited and expectant for what is yet to come.

Dearly loved,

Monday, April 28, 2014

Words for the Newly Married

I posted a wedding photo on what would have been our 6 year wedding anniversary this past Saturday. Folks were so sweet to express their sympathy; honestly, I wanted to respond back, "I'm really okay." I posted that photo in honor of a great love and to give credit to the One who has bound my heart back together again. Perhaps I should have posted this #MelissaFace picture instead!

Having been married a little less than 2 years, I'm certainly no marriage expert. However, I was invited to a dear friends' newly married group recently to share some insight on what I've learned from marriage. I compiled it into what I'd tell my newly married self should I get to do marriage all over again. Here are 10 things I shared with them from a unique perspective of having loved deeply and lost deeply. 
  • Your spouse is your mission field. You will never regret the time you spend serving each other. God can use you to be the best tangible expression of His unconditional love on this earth. 
  • Keep life simple, especially that first year. Don't rush into dreams and plans just because "society" starts pushing you. Trust God with the pace of your marriage.
  • Pursue Christ. Pursue spouse. Pray together, even when you don't feel like it. Encourage each other with verses of Scripture. Pray for your spouse as often as you think of them.
  • Study your spouse. Learn something new about them every day. Be curious about their differences and quirks. (Tony and I would pose questions more gently than "why...?" with the simple phrase, "Can you help me understand...?")
  • Keep the honeymoon going when you return to normal life. Be playful, intentionally create moments and memories. Write love notes. Do things together. Travel. Serve together. Go out on dates. 
  • Learn to say no, even if it's to family. Don't wait until you have children to start your own family holiday traditions. A husband and a wife are a family unit; carve out time for just the two of you.
  • Lean into others ahead of you who have the marriage you'd like to model. Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. At the same time, find community together with like-minded couples; it normalizes marriage to know you are facing struggles and tensions like every other newly married couple.
  • Make finances a joint effort. Talk about it. Make adjustments to accommodate each other's wirings in this area (the saver and the spender). Begin to build a network of connections. (I was so grateful for Tony's financial mentors, advisors, and team of trusted counsel. Our accountant even attended his memorial.) As much as you'll want to resist it, create a will and put life insurance in place. See it as saying to your spouse, "I love you enough to make these plans for you." 
  • In stress and disagreements, which will come, think of this question, "Is this how I want to remember this season?" Then grab each other up in your arms; it tends to diffuse the tension. (Tony was way better at this one than I was; he did this just days before he passed away. I will never forget it.)
  • Savor the everyday moments. Treasure waking up together each morning and coming home to each other every night. (Out of all the amazing experiences Tony and I shared together, those two things are what I miss most.)
Marriage is an incredible gift; I'd choose to have two years of it again rather than never having experienced it at all. Yes, it's hard at times. But it's worth it. It's worth it to not give up. It's worth it to fight for your marriage. It's worth it to keep working at it as long as you both shall live.

That's about the best advice this widow can give any newly wed.

I leave you with a prayer for the journey of learning to do life as "one"...
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5, 6 NIV)

Dearly loved, and hopeful of the day when I'm newly married again,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Suffering & Light

It's the week before Easter. It's a busy one at church as we prepare for the biggest Sunday of the year. It's quite the opposite at home. I've freed up my week for quiet stillness, which has given way to much reflection.

I've been reflecting on the words "suffering" and "light." What a contrast these words represent when describing what Jesus experienced at the end of his time on earth...death and resurrection, Good Friday and Easter. Without one, there couldn't be the other. Without suffering on the cross, there would be no ransom for our sins. Without the Light of His resurrection, there would been no hope, no way out of darkness, no way to conquer death.

What a very stark contrast. A juxtaposition. It's one I witnessed first-hand on Good Friday a year ago. It's a day and experience that's taken a year for me to put words around. Be fore-warned, this is a heavy post.

By his wounds you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NLT)

Good Friday 2013 was first time I had ever been nearly blinded by the light of the cross. 

I attended the Passion City service that Friday evening. I can't recall the content of the message, or even the set list of songs. All I vividly remember is a cross lit up with what seemed like a million lights at the top center of the stage. My weary eyes could hardly look at it, and yet it's brightness kept drawing me in. I could not escape it. I'd try to look down, yet I could feel the warmth from its bulbs on my tear-stained face. 

It overwhelmed me. The light of the cross overwhelmed me. It overwhelmed my tears, my suffering, my pain that I had carried in that evening, left over from the day's events. In that moment, like never before, I understood a new depth of healing and Light that could only be found in the cross of Jesus Christ. His suffering, his wounds, for my healing, for my salvation. What a juxtaposition.

The evening began with David Crowder singing “How He Loves," the very song we sang at Tony's memorial. The weight of what I had just done hours earlier hit me hard. A wave of emotion rushed over me; I could not stop the ensuing flood of tears. I lost it. I mean, I plain lost it. Yet, I wouldn't fully realize until weeks later that my uncontrollable sobbing signified a new beginning in my journey. This was my first step of many I'd take toward healing that year.


2010 was the last time I attended Passion's Good Friday service. It was the same day I picked up my Tony’s ashes from the funeral home. 

I’ll never forget the weight of that box. It was all that was left of the earthly shell of a man I loved more than anyone on this earth. That day I felt as if I was carrying every shattered hope and dream for my life in my two hands.

It was too much.
Too much.

I took that box to my parents home. And that’s where it remained for 3 years.
3 years.
I could not bear to pick it up again. I could not bear the weight of how deeply I had lost.

It took 3 years to gain my strength and courage.

On the morning of Good Friday 2013, I picked up the box again. It was time for me to fulfill the last of Tony's wishes he entrusted to me. When we were married and put together our living wills, he told me that if anything ever happened to him to simply take his ashes to the North Georgia mountains; he requested no big deal be made, no fanfare. I wanted to honor that request.

So I placed the box in the same backpack Tony had carried up to Stone Mountain. I just wanted something of his with me that day. I placed it in my car, and I headed for Blood Mountain. I picked up one of my dearest friends, Karen, along the way. It was so fitting for her to accompany me. Words could never fully express the love and friendship she has lavished on me. The last words Tony said to her as she and I headed out of town the weekend before he died were, “KK, take care of my girl for me.” He would be so incredibly grateful to know she has done immeasurably more than that.

We made the journey north up 400, past Dahlonega, to the base of a mountain I had never traversed. It was a mountain I had always heard Tony talking about hiking as a child. It was a mountain he loved.

It would be a fitting resting place. It would be his final resting place.

I strapped on his backpack and we began the ascent to the top. We stopped a lot along the way. We were in no hurry. The pack was heavy, but I was determined to carry it all the way up. We passed a lot of Appalachian Trail hikers. I kept asking them how much further to the top. I’m sure they thought I was just one of those lazy day-hikers; KK and I joked, “If they only knew what we were up to.”

We finally made it to the top; there was still a little snow on the ground. We took a few pictures, I even snapped one of two tiny twigs in the shape of a cross.

Hope. Light.

I found a place over to the side. I opened up the backpack and pulled out the box I never imagined opening when I said “I do” to my husband just 5 years prior.

This was just not how life was supposed to be.
It just was not.

I sat down to soak it all in. I fully realized in that moment that these were just earthly remains, the things left behind. My Tony was complete and more alive than ever before at home in heaven.


I let the ashes go.

I let them go.
I let him go.

I paused for a moment. Then slowly I turned, picked up his backpack and walked away. I looked back only once. I let go of my Tony on that mountain top and left behind every hope and dream I had for our life together.

As Karen and I started our descent, I could not help but notice how much lighter I felt. The physical weight of the ashes was gone, of course. Yet it was as if I had left the weight of my pain and suffering there too.

And a few hours later, an unforgettable encounter with the brightest cross I've ever seen would be the catalyst for me to let go, to walk on, to move forward.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT) 

The cross and my healing.
Suffering and light.

The weight of Easter; the hope of Good Friday.
I am so grateful for the juxtaposition.

Dearly loved,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How Forever Feels

"I wanna know how forever feels." - Kenny Chesney

I couldn't get enough of that song in the months before our wedding day. I had finally found my "forever" in Tony.


Four years later, I've changed my thoughts on forever. My 4-year degree in widowhood and grief have taught me well that I'm just not in control of measuring time, of measuring life. I caught myself recently saying, "this is just not how I thought my forever would turn out."

Forever. Perhaps that word is best reserved for things not of this earth.

Forever is for eternity.

How can it be that time can be measured here on earth, but not in heaven? Our time here is fleeting, it begins to run out the very moment of our first breathe. Our time in eternity goes on forever; it has no end.

It's essentially time-less.

His shattered watch stopped at 6pm on March 23, 2010. That's how we knew the time of Tony's fall. That's when he entered into a new realm of time, one that only adds days, never subtracts.

It's one that my Tony never lost sight of even while making the most of each day he spent on earth. I found this in his Bible recently:

Our dear friends' daughter, Ruby, drew this picture below the day after Tony died. It portrays so well what that time transfer looked like through the eyes of a child. She was 5 at the time and loved Tony like an uncle. Her mom said she was so matter-of-fact in explaining her drawing: Tony (on the left) falling from the mountain and the angel (on the right) catching him in mid-air before hitting the ground. 

I love the way she has him smiling as he enters into the arms of eternity. To be absent in the body is to be present with The Lord. 

I find great comfort in these verses:
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:23-26 NIV)

Forever is what compels me to keep moving forward. Forever is worth all the tears, all the pain. Forever is my finish line.

4 years and forever to come. I miss you, Tony Edge.

Dearly loved,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thirty Four...and Free

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:36 NLT)

My word for 2013 was "refine." I didn't exactly choose it; it was more like God chose it for me. And refine, He did. It was as if I was gold refined in a fire; it was a painful process, but ended up so incredibly beautiful. It was a year that will always be a defining moment in my life. I am deeply grateful.

Follow that with the first holiday season that I actually enjoyed in 4 years (more thoughts on that HERE) and a birthday that may just be the fun-est on record. Here's a few of my "Melissa Face" challenge pictures for my birthday.

It's time to embrace something lighter this year. I'm ready for a lighter word for 2014. And there's no better word for that than "free." My word for 2014 is free.


I've taken the month of January to really consider what it would look like for me to embrace this word as a central theme in my life this year.

Here's what living free means to me:

  • I will be kind to myself. I will be silly. I will make a lot of Melissa faces.
  • I will dwell more on what God thinks about me than what people think. 
  • I will laugh at my faults instead of succumbing to the lie that I don't measure up.
  • I will be present with people, enjoying sweet moments, no matter their simplicity or complexity.
  • I will refuse to let my social calendar determine my self worth.
  • I will not be held in place by my emotions, my past, or my comfort zone.
  • I will go confidently after my dreams.
  • I will lean into my passions, talents, and wirings, without letting lesser things distract me.
  • I will dance, I will write, I will travel. I will prioritize time for things that make me fully alive.
  • I will give and give generously. I will be a better steward of my time and influence. 
  • I will love widows. I will lend my voice to those in the margins.
  • I will choose to trust God with my desire to marry again. I will run with complete abandon toward my Savior and believe Him for a new running partner to come alongside me at just the right time.
  • I will draw inspiration from this one phrase: "I don't want to waste my life."
  • I will live dearly loved, fully alive, and wholly free.
Here's to 34 and free.
Dearly loved,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Didn't Miss It!

This was the first holiday season in 4 years that I actually enjoyed. I’ll consider that my very own Christmas miracle. It's the best present anyone could have wrapped up and placed under my tree.

I re-read a few of my posts from holidays past. Sheesh, I think I could have been cast to play Scrooge. But I must give grace where grace is due. I have come from the depths of sadness; I'm just so grateful I've found joy on the other side...joy that has nothing to do with my circumstances.

It's joy that has everything to do with the great work of my Healer God.

I loved what my pastor Billy (also known as the world’s greatest boss!) prayed during our Christmas services at Buckhead Church. He asked the Lord to help us to not miss Christmas. 

He was encouraging us to not miss Christ in the midst of the busy season. I took it in a broader sense.

The Christmas season of 2013 was one I showed up for; I did not miss it. At the beginning of November, standing in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC with my sweet friend Sue, I made a conscious decision that I would be fully engaged in the holiday season...and that I would choose to enjoy it.

Here's a few things that I chose to do...

I slowed down; I had nothing particular on my agenda. I watched a lot of movies. For better or for worse, I discovered the Hallmark channel. It seems that a good half of those movies feature stories about widows and widowers. Perhaps I should submit my own script…as long as I get to pick the actor I end up with!

I took in moments, incredibly beautiful and powerful moments. My favorite was serving at a Night of Worship with 300 homeless men at Atlanta Mission. They sang "How He Loves" and it was all I could do to not burst into tears; Tony would have loved it.

I treasured sweet moments with my family, enjoying the presence of their company while choosing to be fully present. I found myself not dwelling on the shattered dreams of "what could have been," but instead being grateful for the incredible gifts I've been given. 

I read Christmas hymns. That’s correct, I read them. A good friend encouraged me to do so, after listening to my pre-Thanksgiving rant about not liking the music of this festive season. I learned there’s a reason these songs are repeated over and over again. Their words are powerful, timeless. I even sang a few too. The one that choked me up the most was the words to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I had never noticed these verses before...verses that describe my healing so well:

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I celebrated the gift that I do life with some really amazing folks. I chose to look at my community of friends and colleagues through the lens of gratitude.

I laughed…a lot. I didn’t take myself (or this season) too seriously. I gave silly gifts. I sent silly Christmas cards. I dressed up all silly...yes, even in a blue Power Ranger suit...on stage at church...in front of thousands of people. I loved every moment.

I didn’t miss Christmas. I didn’t miss it this year. I engaged with my still-fragile but healing heart. I engaged with joy. And it ended with my very own snowfall in Denver as I wrapped up the season with my beautiful (and newly engaged...yay!) friend Tammy.

I’m so glad I didn't miss these moments, these friends, these gifts. I give all the credit to the One who gave his only son that first Christmas.

I look forward to 2014 with joy.

Dearly loved,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

As Yourself...

"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 NLT

"I loved the way that he looked at you." That was the greatest compliment my mom could have ever given Tony. She could see how much he loved and cared for me just by the look in his eyes.


He took lots of pictures and videos of me over our 3 and a half years together from dating to his last days on this earth. At the time, I'd tilt my head and politely ask him to stop. I hated pictures of just myself. Those images became treasures in the aftermath of his passing. They now provide a timeless reminder of how he looked at me, how he saw me.

He saw me as dearly loved.
He was the catalyst for me learning to see myself that way too.

This 3rd year of grief has been a turning point for me. I no longer view life through the lens of loosing Tony. Most days, my first thought in the morning is not that of being a widow. I've let go of Tony in a multitude of ways; I've let go of how life "should have been."

And in it's place, I've begun to embrace what's on the other side of my loss. And what I've uncovered has been completely unexpected.

I've discovered what it looks like to love myself.
I've found freedom in settling into my own skin.
I'm embracing myself with open and accepting arms...
for the very first time in my life.

Shocking, I know.

A few months back, I was asked by a woman who I esteem highly for her insight and wisdom, "Melissa, how do you feel about yourself?"

I quickly blurted out, "I don't like myself; most days I downright hate being me." There. I had finally said it. I had finally put words around an angst I had carried almost my entire life.

Her next challenge to me was the very verses above. "What do you think about the 2nd greatest commandment from Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself?"

It hit me like a ton of bricks. If I talked to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, I'd have no friends. How could I love my neighbor as myself if I could not honestly say that I loved myself? Years of striving to be perfect, of trying to combat the fear of never being "good enough," had taken it's toll.

It all seems so simple, but my life truly changed that day. I've never been the same. I never want to be the same.

I've attributed Tony over and over these last 3 and a half years for teaching me what it was like to be loved extravagantly, of how that was just a tiny taste of how my great God loves me. What I didn't realize until now is that was just the beginning. His love, even in it's brevity, instigated a freedom movement in my heart and my mind.

I've been set free to love myself, not in a self-absorbed sort of way, but through a lens of authenticity, of kindness and gentleness for myself....as myself.

I'm finding that loving my neighbor out of this love is so much more life-giving, a natural overflow. And I'm just starting to grasp how God sees me and loves me too.

So, on what would have been his 39th birthday, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to my late husband, Tony. I'm finally seeing me the way he saw me. And that is a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful beginning.

Dearly loved, as myself,