The Power of a Paintbrush

Recently I’ve been trying to expand my creative outlets. I’ve starting cross stitching more, I’m taking cake decorating classes, and doing other crafty things.

I’ve always liked drawing and painting, but never practiced it consistently or taken any formal classes. I do not consider myself “talented” or do I plan to ever consider myself a professional artist. I just enjoy doing it.

For my parents’ Christmas gift, I created my first oil painting. I rather enjoyed the process, not so much the cleanup…

For about 3 weeks prior to Christmas, I heavily hinted to Eric about a beginner art set that I’d been lusting over. Despite his efforts, the store was sold out when he went to buy it. Poor guy. But I must give him major “awesome husband” points, because he gave me a great watercolor starter set!

Tonight I finally got a moment to try it out. When I was getting started, he told my about how he called Melinda (my best friend, and a fabulous artist) for her help on deciding the best kit for me (thus scoring more “awesome husband” points).

When I started using those watercolors, something amazing happened. Everything around me seemed to dissolve. It was just me and the brush, creating beautiful strokes of purple onto paper. It had my entire focus. My mind was completely silent. I’m sure most women will agree that having a silent mind is nearly impossible. We are always thinking about and analyzing something. I can’t even shut it off at night-I ramble myself to sleep.

As I applied the colors to paper, I wasn’t concerned with symmetry, shading, or perfection. I just painted, all the while in awe of the way the colors fell. It was magical.


Add a comment January 7, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas Night

I’m sitting here with my hot chocolate, winding down another Christmas day. Eric is watching his new Transformers movie, and Carson is sleeping soundly. I’m practicing my ritual of listening to all my favorite sentimental Christmas songs before going to bed. This Christmas vacation has brought a particular thought to my mind often-time.

Remember when you were a kid, and it seemed like FOREVER to wait for Christmas to arrive? And you would roll your eyes when your parents talked about how fast time goes by. Then you get older, and that quick passing of time makes you realize that (gulp) your parents were right about something else. I still can’t believe this was Carson’s third Christmas. It brought me so much happiness this year, watching him really understand the holiday. He helped my Christmas regain a bit of that old magic.

I always get sad on Christmas night. But this year seems to be a bit worse. LIving so far from my hometown had been particularly difficult as of late. I not only miss my family, but my friends as well. Yes, I’ve made friends in my new home, but it’s not the same. So seeing old friends is a rather bittersweet situation. My first tearful moment was a church last Sunday. Seeing Rachel, and others, and hearing Jon speak was so wonderful, but the extreme high was followed by an extreme low, because I don’t know when it will happen again. And coffee with Nicole is such a treasured pastime, that I can’t sit in Panera alone without missing her.

Having lunch with B was another high/low situation. Out of all my friends, I dare say there’s only about four people that know me to my core. And B is one of them. To only see a friend like that once a year (or less, as it is with Melinda) is rather depressing. I was actually moved to tears from laughter that day, which turned into tears from sadness, because I hadn’t laughed like that with a friend in such a long time. I don’t want you to think that I feel like my friends are all I have, or to devalue my husband and family. Eric and Carson are the reason I live and breathe each day. Yet friendships are also a vital part of all our lives. And to find friends that you trust enough to take down all your walls and be exposed, friends who don’t need you to be anything but what you are, is a rare and precious thing indeed.

And I don’t care to think about how long it may be before I see my parents again. I know it’s a part of life; you grow up, you move away. But I never lived more that 10 miles from my parents until I was 29. I became a bit attached. It happens.

Well, the clock just struck midnight. Christmas day is over. Eric just turned to me and wished me a Happy day. Another year older. Another reminder of time. Merry Christmas to you all. Make sure you make the most of the fleeting time with family and friends, always. X


Add a comment December 26, 2011

Here we go…again

I entered Panera, laptop in hand, ready to order my coffee and cinnamon crunch bagel. Well, no such bagels were left. But there was a cinnamon crunch scone…score. And even better, Pumpkin Spice Lattes were back on the menu. Those are my favorite sign that fall is definitely in the air.

I took my scone and coffee, and searched for the perfect spot; one with a power outlet near by, comfy surroundings, and away from distractions. I turned on the computer, got online to NPR so I could listen to Tori Amos’s new album, and opened up Word to a new document. Here we go again…

I was there to write an essay for a magazine contest. I entered the same one last year (obviously I didn’t win). This year’s topic was “when did you first understand the meaning of love.” Seriously? For the past week I’ve tried to wrap my mind around how to explain that in coherent detail, and under 1,500 words. I decided finally to write about the relationship of my paternal grandparents.

I procrastinated all week for many reasons. One was that I was too overwhelmed with trying to make a final decision on whether to quit my babysitting job. I turned in my notice yesterday, actually. Then there was the fact that I was fighting with our health insurance to get my lexapro filled. For those of you who don’t know, antidepressants are a controlled substance; you can’t just stop them cold turkey. Long story short, I went through 5 days of wretched withdrawal symptoms, then today I started trying a different med, one that the insurance will cover. Hopefully that goes well…

So here I was, sipping my coffee, T-minus 4 hours until entry deadline. Somehow I managed to get something on paper that I was satisfied to submit. I’m not 100% pleased with it, but that’s ok. I just wanted to do it for myself, and if I happen to win the $3k, even better. Entering a contest like this forces me to set aside my lack of self-confidence and put myself out there. Now I wait until January to find out if I won. If I don’t, no big deal. I’d rather enter and lose that make excuses not to enter at all (such as saying to myself, “I can’t write anything good enough to win”) and end up regretting not trying.

If I do win, the essay will be published in the magazine. If I don’t, I’ll post the essay on here. But for now it will be tucked away on my hard drive, hidden until the contest winner is announced. I’m just glad I’m finally writing again. And that’s another blog story…

Add a comment September 16, 2011

10 Signs You May Be Addicted to Harry Potter

In honor of the final film release of the Harry Potter series, I have composed a list of signs that you may be addicted to this wonderful, magical world.

1. You’ve ever attended a midnight launch of any of the books and/or film’s release.

2. You’ve attended said launches in costume.

3. When you hear/see the initialism “D.A.,” your brain translates it to “Dumbledore’s Army,” not “District Attorney.”

4. You knew of, and appreciated, Robert Pattinson’s good looks LONG before the Twilight series ever existed.

5. You read Deathly Hallows in 24 hours or less.

6. You don’t understand why “Words with Friends” won’t accept words such as “portkey” and “horcrux” as valid.

7. You’ve ever “Potterized” your home for Halloween (such as Hogwarts banners and pumpkins which seem to float in mid-air).

8. You’re disappointed that you can never find The Daily Prophet or The Quibbler at your local newsstand.

9. When you’re having a space-out kind of day, where you’re thoughts all seemed to be muddled, you naturally assume it’s because your head is full of wrackspurts.

10. Although you’re excited about the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, you also are saddened because you know that after it’s over, you will feel that horrible void just like you felt when you finished the final page of the final book, and know that void will never be filled quite the same way again.

J.K. Rowling, thank you for giving us this wonderful world from your imagination. And to Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and the entire cast and crew of the Harry Potter film franchise, thank you for bringing these wonderful books to life. We will miss you, but are grateful that these books and films will be with us forever.

3 comments July 15, 2011


Dancing with Carson at a wedding last year

After dinner a few nights ago, Eric and I were having a nice chat over our finished plates. Carson had already been excused from the table, and was playing in the living room. Dinner had been wonderful. Carson was his usual well-behaved self, and he ate all his dinner, which was a relief because he barely ate anything all weekend.

When we have dinner, we either turn the television off, or tune it to one of the music stations. We had it on the singers & standards station that night. The song “My Man” by Billie Holiday had just begun playing. Carson came up next to me. I asked him if he was ready for his bath. “No,” he replied, as he walked back over to the middle of the living room. “Dance,” he said.

“You want to dance right now?”

“No, Momma dance!” He exclaimed as he pointed to the floor in front of him.

“You want Mommy to dance with you?” I asked. He gave his trademark definitive nod. So I walked over to him, and he stretched his arms up for me to hold him. “Dance,” he said again. So I picked up my son and slow danced with him. After a few moments, Eric joined us. As far as dinner and dancing dates go, that was pretty much PERFECT.

Add a comment June 23, 2011

My novel…oh, my novel…

Continuing on with my lack of follow-thru issue, I really need to work on my novel. I don’t care if it ever gets published, or if anyone ever reads my manuscript other than Eric and me. I just need to finish it for me.

How much have I written of it so far? In my head, almost all of it. On paper, ummm…10 pages?? Yikes. This story was first born inside my head a decade ago. I think it’s time for it to grow. Maybe I will grow a little too. Just something I was thinking of at the moment…

1 comment June 9, 2011

The Follow-thru (or rather, lack thereof)

Well, it’s been a while. Almost 5 months if you want to get technical. My lack of blogging is the perfect example of my greatest fault: I don’t follow through with projects in my life. Not everything, mind you, just the things I put at the bottom of my list. I follow through with doing things around the house, clipping coupons, etc. But I never follow through with the things that let my creative side flow, my hobbies.

For example, I took up cross-stitching several years ago. When I was pregnant with Carson, I started on a bib. It was coming along quite well, until he was born. I obviously didn’t have much time to finish it when he was a newborn, but i never went back to it. My materials got pushed under the bed, or in the closet, forgotten until we moved-and Carson was over a year old.

I can happily say that not too long ago, I did finish it. And it was a perfect bib for this past Easter. But there are other things: scrapbooking, art, and WRITING. Why do I push these things aside?? I don’t know exactly. But in think part of my problem is in how I over-think everything. I say, “I’ve got to do the laundry, clean up this, balance the checkbook, blah, blah, blah.” Don’t get me wrong, these are important things, things that I do not just because they need to be done, but because I get joy out of taking care of my family. But I go overboard, into thinking that I must constantly be doing these things and not doing anything JUST FOR ME. Why? Because I’m scared it will make me a selfish person. But I actually am hurting not only myself, but my family too, by exhausting my body and mind into oblivion, not ever finding my center.

I’m good at excuses, too. Just check out this beauty of crazy thinking…

I wanted to start blogging again a few weeks ago. But when Tuscaloosa was annihilated by that horrid tornado, I told myself I shouldn’t blog because people would think I didn’t care about important stuff going on (duh, could’ve blogged about the tornado!). Then this past week, I used the excuse of the fact that the a/c adapter to my laptop is broken, so can’t blog without a computer. Um, I have an iPhone…and the WordPress app. Excuse number three-too difficult to write a whole blog on my phone. Well guess what I’m doing right now?

So that’s my goal. Do the things I enjoy more. FIND BALANCE. So if you notice I’m not posing anything, be a pal and remind me to write!

Add a comment May 14, 2011

Jealosy from Facebook: The Danger of Knowing too Much

I love Facebook. I get on there every day. I like seeing new pictures posted by my friends, laughing at their witty status posts, and catching up with people who I can’t see on a regular basis. It definitely has come in handy these past two months, since I’ve moved to Florida.

Even though I love seeing what my friends are up to, I’ve recently found Facebook to be an upsetting thing sometimes. The problem is the news feed that pops up when I log in. For those of you who aren’t Facebook savvy, the news feed shows recent status posts, pictures, and even wall conversations between mutual friends. The wall conversations are the problem for me.

Before we moved, we were a part of a wonderful church. I love that church, and the people very much. So much in fact, it has been the standard to which I am measuring every church we visit in Bradenton, while searching for our new spiritual home. Over the two years that we were there, I became very attached to the community there. I made many meaningful, strong friendships. Or so I thought.

This is where Facebook comes in. You see, around the time we left, there was a surge of people from the congregation who moved away as well. Now, I know that people connect with others in different ways, and some people are closer than others. But what stings is when I see on my news feed where so many people from that community post on another relocated friend’s wall how much they miss them, and “when are you coming to visit?” etc. Do you know how many people from that same community have posted something like that on my wall? One. Yep, one. Now, I’m a grown up woman, and I understand that being jealous of something like this is immature and petty. But honestly, how would that make you feel?

Last night, Eric and I were talking, and these feelings came up. And it goes deeper that just Facebook popularity. Does anyone ever call or text me? Not really. I know I’m sounding needy here, but let me explain further. Now, I understand that these people have their own lives to lead, and can’t focus time on “how’s Melissa doing?” But it is odd that people who I spent most of my weekends and free time with for the past two years just seemed to forget I existed as soon as I left. This made me question my own feelings. Did I over-romanticize my friendships? Were they all one-sided?

As Eric and I continued talk, he expressed things he had noticed even when we were in Alabama. For instance, in our small group, I would openly talk about my depression, and things that I was feeling. Eric said he often wondered if people in our small group “looked down on us.” He said that he would notice facial expressions and such when I would talk about that stuff, as if to say, “wow, she’s nuts.” And that upsets him a lot. He said, “just because someone has depression doesn’t make them crazy. I’m proud of you for opening up about it.” Do they think I’m nuts? Don’t know.

Recently, there was this little “game” on Facebook. You sent a number to someone’s inbox, then that person would post that number, and what “they really thought about you” into their status. I played along, and got some sweet responses. One person gave me a lot to think about. He said, “you are a very emotional person…but you seem to be learning to control your emotions instead of letting them control you…you love deeply…and crave love from others…” I wasn’t insulted, for I knew what he was saying was true. It gave me a lot to think about. I know I have had issues with craving attention, but I have gotten a lot better with that. Yes, I do crave love, from the people I love. Doesn’t everyone, though? So, no wonder the lack of “love” from the people I grew to love so much stings like it does.

The worst part of it all, is that these people were my church family. People that always taught the importance of being genuine. So, if they pretended to care more that they did, or if that was at least the impression I got, what does that mean about how I’ve grown in my faith? The answer is absolutely nothing. What I have felt from the Holy Spirit over the past two years, and they way I’ve grown closer to the Father is completely genuine. And no matter how the church community feels about me, I’m still grateful for how they helped me grow, and for the way they prayed with and for me.

Also, with all of this, I have realized just how wonderful my true friends are-the ones who love me as much as I love them. Eric even reminded me last night how lucky I am. He said, “of all the people I know, and would hang out with, I only have two friends that ever really call me-Robbie and Justin. So it’s not just you. And you have Melinda, Brandon, Tina, Rebecca, Andrea…so you are still very much loved.” He’s right. I could do a whole blog on each of these people. And these are people who I love for the great people that they are, not just how they make me feel. That is true friendship.

So now what? Do I let all this jade me from making new friends? Should I become more of a closed book, making it impossible for new aquaintances to get to know the real me? Should I refuse to open my heart to love any one else? Of course not. I look at it this way-Jesus loves everyone, but not everyone returns that love. Yet, his love continues. When he was on earth, so many people thought he was “nuts.” But he taught us to give of ourselves, no matter what we got in return. So I shouldn’t change how I care about people. I should just care less about whether or not they care about me. And I will always let my genuine friends know just how special they are to me, and never take them for granted. Because they are more that friends. They are my family, too.

3 comments December 21, 2010

The Peachtree

By society’s standards, I am in no way considered a “wealthy” person.  My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck, clipping coupons and trying desperately to recover from all the debt we racked up when we were younger.  Last year, we bought our first house.  It’s a humble little garden home, and it’s filled with all our hand-me-down furnishings; and we are grateful for every bit of it.  Still, it can be very frustrating, not being able to just take a weekend trip on a whim, or buy something we happen upon and decide we would like to have.

Recently, in the wake of all my wanting, God placed upon me a seriously humbling experience.  It came while I was searching for my spiritual calling.  I had been testing the waters through different programs at the church, getting my feet wet to find my spiritual gifts.  And one night, God spoke to me very clearly, in the most unexpected place.

Our church is located in the inner city, not far from one of the ghettos.  One of my fellow church members set up a mission project, where we went to this neighborhood to help with anything the people needed.  A few days prior, several participant took flyers around to the houses, to see what people would like for us to do, such a cleaning, yard work, etc.  Several people responded, and several never answered the door. 

The night of the outreach ministry, I, along with three others, took the task of going around and praying for those who asked for it in the neighborhood.  This took me having to step quite a bit out of my comfort zone.  As we began at the first home, I became immediately overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit.  The woman we were praying for had just come home from hospital, had no air conditioning (in 100 degree heat), and could barely walk.  But she was full of joy from the Lord.  She begged us to keep coming back, and she wanted us to get the whole neighborhood to join together one night to worship the Lord. 

As we kept going around the neighborhood to the houses needing help, others began to emerge from there moss-covered houses as well.  I’m sure it was mostly curiosity, wondering why all these young people were walking around their streets picking up trash and talking to others.  But as we approached them, no one turned us away.  They were all thirsty for the Spirit.  I remember one woman in particular, Miss Clara, who was so full of the Holy Spirit, despite all her struggles, she brought me to tears.  She kept telling me “you have blessed me so much,” to which I responded, “no, Miss Clara, you’ve blessed me!”

In the middle of this tattered neighborhood, there was a peachtree.  All around it was fruit that had fallen and spoiled, and there were dead branches within.  But it was still bearing fruit, and its roots were steady.  This tree overwhelmed the four of us.  It was a perfect example of that neighborhood-despite the ones who lost their way, and all the troubles the people were having, God was still there, ready to bless them with a bountiful harvest.  And it was also a perfect example of all of us-we all have dead branches that need to be trimmed, but if we keep our roots strong in Christ, we will bear great fruit.  We stood there at the center of the neighborhood, underneath that tree, praying, and praising the Lord.

When I got home, I simply looked around at my comforting little home, thanking God for all I have.  It made me wonder, why am I so wealthy, so blessed?  I have a house that keeps my family safe and warm, a job, food in the pantry, and a healthy body that allows me to take care of my family.  And that’s how I found one of my callings, inner-city ministry.  This town doesn’t need more people throwing money about, it needs people willing to get their hands dirty helping those who don’t have what we have, and reaching out to them in ministy, bringing the lost to the Lord.

Add a comment August 27, 2010

Blogging:Why and Where to Begin?

Every since I was a child I’ve always wanted to write.  Wait, let me rephrase that-I’ve always written.  Poetry, short stories, plays, or simply little diary entries about my latest crush, or who stopped being my friend that week!  As a child, I wrote for me; I wrote to remember things, and I wrote to turn my imagination into something tangible.

When I was in my teens, writing was a way for me to channel who I was.  I often felt misunderstood, not just by others, but also by myself.  I was desperately searching for my identity.  As I began to develop close friends who I trusted, I became brave enough to share some of my writings.  Everyone would tell me how they enjoyed reading what I had written, and how I should one day write professionally.  Now that was an intriguing thought-what better way to “stick-it” to the boys who broke my heart, than to have my angst-ridden poetry that they inspired, to be the thing that made me famous! 

That thought lit the fire in my brain to become a “famous” writer.  Not just to “stick-it” to people, but to feel some sort of self-satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.  Needless to say, I never had the best self-esteem.  I could, however, hide that flaw when necessary.  So, in my early twenties, I decided that’s who I wanted to be.  I wanted to be an author, who was adored by the masses.  I’m sure one can easily figure how that worked out! 

Somewhere along the way in my life, there was a disconnect.  The person I was becoming was in no way the person I would have ever dreamt of being.  I’ve been a believer of Christ nearly my whole life, but I wasn’t being an active follower.  Also, I was diagnosed in my twenties with moderate-to-severe depression/anxiety disorder.  I took medication on and off for a while, but never turned anywhere else for help.  Don’t get me wrong, my life was not consumed by a dark cloud-I met and fell in love with the man I married during these years.  But, ever so slowly, I became very selfish, very childish, and very closed off from those around me.  And my relationship with God was not exactly spectacular.  I saw Him more as a disapproving father rather than the graceful, loving one that He actually is.  I even stopped writing in any shape or form, not even in journals.

Luckily, I pulled myself from the abyss before it was too late.  My husband, who is amazing, stood by me through the darkness and pain that we both had.  I realized that I needed more that just medication, so I began to see a faith-based psychiatrist two years ago.  We also found a church home that has helped me change my entire relationship with the Lord for the better.  It hasn’t been an easy road all the time.  There are still ups and downs, challenges that come about for me to face.  But I keep moving forward. 

And that’s one reason why I’m finally blogging.  I had been going back and forth about starting a blog for some time now.  You see, one problem that I face in getting over my guilt, and my tendency to over think things.  For example, the thought of blogging began to turn me off, because I thought it was selfish for me to go online and write about me, me, me.  And I never want to be that selfish person again.  I just want to write for myself.  I enjoy it.  Writing helps me in many ways.  But I try hard to focus on helping others in my life, so writing about myself seemed unproductive.  My husband finally spoke truth to me the other night, saying “it doesn’t have to be one or the other, Melissa.  It could be both.  You need to write for you, because it’s what you enjoy, you have passion for it.  And along the way, you may help someone out there by sharing your stories.” Brilliant.  Why couldn’t I have figured that out?

So here I am.  Ready to start sharing.  Why the title “Beyond the Silver Lining?’  It’s quite simple, really.  Everyone always says “every cloud had a silver lining.”  Well, that’s all very well and good, but once we see that lining, how do we obtain it, and what’s beyond its gleam?  That’s what it’s about-finding the joy and happiness in life, despite the dark clouds that may loom overhead…

1 comment August 20, 2010

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