Sunday, May 22, 2011


I've really struggled to blog these last few weeks.  I realize that so much has happened that I planned to write about.  When I sat down to actually put words around those events, I simply could not.

And instead of pushing through, forcing myself to come up with something, I released myself from that pressure.  And contrary to my nature, I chose not feel guilty.

I just have not had the capacity to add guilt on top of anger and bitterness.  And it is those two latter emotions that have consumed my heart, my very livelihood for almost 2 months now.

I'm sure some of you who know me well, or at least see me on a regular basis, are now wondering what "angry Melissa" looks like.  I wondered that too.  I don't consider myself an angry person; though I do have my moments in traffic.  My anger and bitterness have been an internal struggle, one always brewing in the back of my mind, one that has left me utterly exhausted mentally by the end of each day as I put on my "somewhat happy face" to push through my daily responsibilities.

I had really hoped I could skip this "stage" of grief; it was a recurring dream and some deciphering from my counselor that led me face to face with it.

I decided I had better confront it head on.  And for me, that meant simmering in it for a while.

It is an emotion too deep, too painful, to try to brush off,  or to try to make all rosy-colored, or to avoid all-together.  It is an emotion that would come back with a vengeance if not dealt with the first time around.

So, I put on my big girl pants, stepped into the ring, and I wrestled with it.

And I wrestled with God.  And I wrestled with thoughts and emotions regarding Tony.  And I wrestled with all that I have lost due to circumstances beyond my control.

And there were plenty of tears, plenty of bitter words cried out to my God.  I was just completely honest with Him.  I mean, He knows my thoughts anyway.

Still at every turn, at every round of the fight, there was something to spur me on, to keep me fighting, to not allow me to give up.

It came in sweet moments on the beach, reflecting on actually making it to another wedding anniversary to throw another marble away.  It came in accepting the "Tony Edge Scholarship" at Emory, an endowment of over $115,000 raised by Tony's EMBA classmates, as a legacy for Tony.  It came in my brother getting notice of getting into graduate school.  It came when friends reached out at just the right time to remind me that I am not forgotten about, that I am not alone.  I have had an audience of fans surrounding me, even though most did not know why or how they we cheering me on.

And yet, all those great things, great things were just not enough.  They are not enough to lead me to victory over my anger.

I was beginning to think my bitterness was setting in stone, hardening my very heart, my worst fear.  I feared my anger would never let up, that nothing could quench it, that I was succumbing to overwhelming odds.

That was until I was led to Psalm 73 last night.  These thoughts from King David in verses 21-26 depict this fighter in me so well...
21 When my heart was grieved
   and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
   I was a brute beast before you.
 23 Yet I am always with you;
   you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart
   and my portion forever.

It is those verses in bold that are my victory. 

I was overcome with cries of bittersweet joy as I read aloud God's promise, "and afterward, you will take me into glory."  Oh, what a glorious promise.  Just glorious.

Those verses are enough for me to win over my anger, enough for my triumph over my tragedy, enough to spur me on for this life and the one to come.


Because, as it reminds me in the very next verses, nothing, NOTHING, on this earth compares to my Jesus, nothing else is enough.

He alone is ENOUGH.

And He is gently leading me to finish this fight.  And He will provide more than enough to allow me to move forward on this earth...until he takes me into glory.

Dearly loved, fighter,

Friday, May 13, 2011

My message in a bottle...

Tony sent me a message in a bottle the morning of our wedding day. He was the ultimate romantic husband, fiance and boyfriend.  Seriously, I could write a book just about his romance skills!

I've had that bottle sitting on my dresser for 3 years now, but have not read the message inside since our special day.  Honestly, I forgot what it said.

Before bedtime a few weeks ago, I had a good ol' cry on my knees as I prayed to my God.  Crawling into bed, that bottle caught my attention.  I was too afraid to open the message inside.  Instead, I recalled the verses in Psalm 56:8 (NASB):

 "You have...put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book?"

It was the Lord reminding me that He sees my tears; He deems each one so valuable as to hold them in His bottle.  Not one is lost.

The next night, I worked up the courage to open Tony's note.  Tears began to flow as I read the one word boldly printed in all caps at the top:


What? Joy? Really, God?  Of all the notes Tony has written me over our relationship (most that I can't even bear to read just yet), the first one I do is about Joy?

Yes, joy.  Oh, the irony of joy in a bottle that represents my tears.

I look forward to the day when I can turn this irony around as in the verses of Psalm 126:5:

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

Dearly loved, sowing tears,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Road Less Traveled...

I've felt like I've gotten a big ol' kick in the pants over the last couple of weeks.  I've been wrestling heavy thoughts in my head and battling nasty sickness in my body (also known as walking pneumonia).

I don't recommend either.

Now, I will say my few days away at the beach with my BFF last week were just wonderful.  Quite honestly, I think I'd be going crazy right now without that short bit of sanity, an "unplugging" from my life.  More on that in another post, I've got a lot to catch up on.

Back to this kick in the pants.  Now I'm quite deserving of said kicks in the pants when I mess up, make mistakes, say things I shouldn't, spend too much on myself, hurt someone else with words or actions, and on and on.  Though those kicks hurt, they are often the good kind of reprimand, a wake up call that I'm human, a reminder I need a good dose of humble pie on a regular basis, and an opportunity to learn and grow and change.  I'll take those kicks.

The kind I'm dealing with are of a different kind.  These kicks come when I've done something I consider "good," or in Christian-ese language, what we'd call "God's way," what the Bible calls us as believers to do.  And instead of receiving something "good" in return, I feel that all I get is a kick in the pants, a kick that bruises deep, inflicts pain.  These kicks are no fun, unexpected, and if left untreated, can leave deep open wounds that never heal.

One such kick is this pneumonia.  Now don't be feeling all sorry for's not the first time I've had it, yep I was that "sickly" kid growing up.  It does limit my lung capacity, leaving me easily fatigued.  It's more annoying than anything.  And it was brought on by doing something I thought was a "good deed." I volunteered to help with our 900+ preschoolers who came through our church on Easter Sunday; I was placed in a room with 34 toddlers, a least a third with snotty noses.  Not so good.  I came down with a cold a couple days after, and after a week of not getting better, a trip to the doctor confirmed my cold had traveled to my lungs.  How's that for a kick in the pants?

Surely, I'll recover, yet left untreated, I could easily be like one of those old people who are hospitalized by pneumonia.  My Pop had that once; it was awful.

Now, my heavy thoughts, these hard kicks not just to my pants, but to my heart.  Well, now those I need to battle, I need to wrestle with, I need fight for victory over, no matter how hard that kick penetrates.  If not, they could very well lead to bitterness, and bitterness left to itself can destroy the soul.

They have left me weak, but I'm not backing down.  Jesus overcame the world; surely, with His Spirit living in me, I will overcome these thoughts.

I will simply say that these thoughts stem from feeling as if I entered into marriage with Tony following God's way, God's holy design for one of the greatest gifts He created.  My healthy fear of the Lord, and surrounding myself with friends committed to the same values, would not allow me otherwise.  Marrying Tony and the 23 months that followed were absolutely beautiful, blissful; it was a God-orchestrated love story.  And I would not trade it in for anything.  Anything.

And then, poof; it was gone.  In a second.  Without any warning.  Gone.

How's that for a kick in the pants?  A kick that could have very well destroyed me, left me for dead, well at least dead in my heart.

I've cried myself to sleep many nights, clamoring through my tears, "But, God, I did this right."

But God, in His all-knowing ways, has not left me to battle alone.  He is with me as my Commander in Chief.  He is pointing me to Scripture to help make sense of this all.  He's putting folks in my path who don't try to explain it away, they just let me vent, without judgment.

I feel as if I know in my head the right answers to bring me to victory; my heart has not yet caught up.  And tonight as I prepared for bed, feeling as if I'm coughing up my lungs, fearing this heaviness in my head will visit me in my dreams, a poem I memorized as a teenager popped into my mind.

It was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.  My two roads "diverged" are one of the world's ways and one of God's ways.  I took the "narrow road," the one "less traveled by" when it came to marriage.

And though I'm reeling from what feels like a constant kick in the pants, a blow to my soul, I will unwaveringly hold to my belief, as it says at the end of the poem, "And that has made all the difference."

And the difference is good.  And the difference is found in Jesus.

Dearly loved, with shoe marks from kicks to my pants,