We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


NOTE: I was very hesitant to share this post because it's pretty personal. But after a message a couple of weeks ago at church, I decided that it's a story worth sharing, no matter how hard that is for me.

Every year during Lent, our church does a 6-week "all church journey." From the littlest kids to the oldest adults, we all study the same things. Teenagers through adults are given study guides to go along with the journey and are encouraged to meet in small groups once a week with either their regular, continually meeting small group or by finding a group online at our church's website that they can meet with once a week just for the journey. That's how we met our current small group last year. We got together for a six week commitment and liked each other so much, that we kept meeting together all year until this journey started. This year's journey was all about freedom.

And let me tell you-- it was absolutely amazing!

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that last spring and summer I was dealing with some unpleasant stomach issues. I felt nauseous on a nearly daily basis and just plain didn't enjoy my spring or summer. By early fall, this was diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) due to anxiety. I pretty much tried to play it off as always having been an anxious person (partly because I tend to be a perfectionist in many areas of my life). I mean, I always used to feel like I was going to throw up the night before big tests and presentations or other major life events. But when I started feeling like that all the time for no particular reason and it didn't go away, I welcomed the relief a small daily dose of anti-anxiety gave me.

THIS WAS ALL A LIE. That's what I learned as I began really experiencing God and growth during our all-church freedom journey. I am NOT an anxious person. Things do NOT always have to be perfect in order for them to be okay. I do NOT always need to be in control. And I do NOT need medicine to help control all of this.

**Disclaimer: I have nothing against the wonders of advanced medicine. I loved my epidural when I delivered Cate. I love Nyquil when I have a cold or the flu. Afrin is wonderful during allergy season.

But I was relying on a small dose of a very addicting drug for relief from anxiety instead of turning to God for relief. A very real enemy wanted me to believe that the only way I'd ever experience freedom from anxiety would be with that prescription medication.

So I quit it. Cold turkey. I had some weird dreams and light-headed-ness which are pretty common side effects of withdrawal, but I quit.

And I quit worrying and stressing out about things. How? By praying about those ugly worries before they have a chance to manifest themselves in physical symptoms. By having an awesome small group to rally with me. By memorizing some verses to remind myself that God wants me to have peace of mind. By having an absolutely amazing husband who has some weird God-given 6th sense to sense when I'm starting to freak out about something, even little things, and will stop everything to pray with me.

I have never felt so unbelievably free! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to engage in this fight and to fight for my own freedom from anxiety, worry, stress, perfectionism.

I know there may be rough patches ahead. Days where I might be tempted to revert back to my old worrying ways. Days where I might be tempted to call my local pharmacist and re-start my prescription. And I do believe that to some extent there is a healthy degree of worry. However, most of my worrying and anxiety was over nothing and for no good reason. I'm going to keep fighting.

And I'm going to fight for this girl's freedom too: Last Sunday, when the Free Journey ended, our church gave away these shirts to EVERY kid from age 1 to 6th grade. They sent all of the parents this email explaining the shirts (I shortened it for the sake of this blog post):
"It is our hope that this shirt will be a reminder that your kid's freedom is directly related to the way you interact with them. Each time you pull it out of the laundry or see your kid in it, do something to fight for your kid to live in freedom.
Here are some practical ways that you can start the fight:

· Pray for your kids. Don't know what to pray? Start with scripture. Some of our favorites are Joshua 1:9 (be strong and courageous), Romans 8:1 (there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ), Psalm 119:5 (walk in freedom), and 2Timothy 1:7 (God gave you a spirit of power, love and self-discipline).

· Encourage your kid's uniqueness. So what if they want to wear pajamas to preschool or color a giraffe purple? Uniqueness comes from God. Encourage it!

· Look at their heart, not the results. When your kid is making the bed, don't come behind them to straighten the sheets and re-fluff the pillows, just praise them for helping out. You may end up letting them unload a whole dishwasher of dirty dishes, and it will help them to be free.

· Watch what you say. A kid who is told again and again that they are shy, disobedient, stubborn, or flighty will start to believe it. Why not say that they are a good friend, full of joy, smart, funny, and courageous instead?

· Resist bringing up past mistakes. Just last week we heard the story of a kid who was in trouble in school, but he remembered the story of David making some really bad decisions, and then asking for forgiveness. The kid was able to articulate that just like God saw David as a giant killer (1 Samuel 17) and a good king, God sees good things in him, too."

I also painted this mug as a reminder for myself of all the work I've done and growth I've experienced as a result of this journey.
It says "Such a Beautiful Surrender" on it. Kites were kind of a running theme throughout this journey. God wants us to be free to fly, like a kite, but kites have strings and ultimately those strings are attached to something. My string used to be attached to anxiety. I've surrendered it to God. Beautiful. I even have a kite string tied around my wrist to remind me.

Freedom is a journey that doesn't end. We conquer one stronghold and might be met with another one. But man, it's so worth the fight.


PS...Want more information on freedom. Check out this book or click here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Puddle Jumping

Cate has been asking for rain boots for a few weeks now. I'm not sure where she first heard about rain boots. I know a few of her friends have them and she did read a Max and Ruby book where Max put on his boots. But with a two-year-old, who really knows?

I looked a couple of weeks ago at Target for rain boots in Cate's size, but they didn't have any that were even close. Over the weekend I found these though:
They're a little big (a 7/8 and Cate wears a 6.5), but I figured that if I was going to shell out $15 for rain boots, I might as well get some she'll still be able to wear in the fall.
She. Loves. Them.
On Sunday it was rainy here for most of the day. During a break in the rain, Eric and I took Cate out to do some puddle jumping/stomping. Miss Cate was in heaven!
Not sure what she's going to do when the rain stops and it gets into the upper 70s by the end of the week (perfect for the start of my spring break)! I guess it means she'll be wearing these (another great Target find over the weekend):
Our first order of business on Friday (my first day of spring break) might have to be painting Cate's toenails.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Egg Huntin'

Yesterday we got together with our small group (minus one family who was out of town) for a good ol' fashioned egg hunt. These punks loved it:
Cate pretty much got the concept and enjoyed putting the eggs in her basket. I think she was a bit overwhelmed at first, but the older kids were great about sharing eggs they found with the younger kids like Cate.
Before we left we took a few pictures at home. Cate is turning into such a little girl. Notice what she's holding? I know it's hard to tell since it's just the hair. It's her first My Little Pony. Man I loved those things when I was little.
Thanks Mike and Tina for such a great evening and fun egg hunt. Despite the loads of sugar she ate, Cate still went to bed and slept for 12 hours (quite a feat considering she's been waking up saying "ow, my mouth" in the middle of the night a lot recently...these two year molars STINK).

~Melody :-)

P.S. Meet Tanner, Cate's future husband. Our small group is so not quasi-incestuously planning the marriages of our children (we do have an even number of boys and girls when we're all together).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Magic Fairy Wand

On a recent walk (Cate walks around the block with us now instead of riding in the stroller or wagon...it's the perfect way to tire her out at the end of the day), Cate found a great looking stick that she proceeded to carry with her for the rest of the walk. I told her it was a magic fairy wand. So with some things I had lying around-- a little felt, ribbon, and my handy vintage sewing machine...we turned her stick into this:
The perfect magic fairy want for the perfect magic fairy.
~Melody :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Budding Artist

If it hasn't been clear from my last two posts...this past weekend was BUSY. On Saturday afternoon Cate and I attended a mom and me art class with 3 of my fellow teachers and their children.

They started out by playing with some puppets.
Then they moved onto story time (with some cool art books). Afterwards, it was time to create. Each kid got a hunk of clay that they rolled flat with a rolling pin. They then used various objects and tools to make all kinds of textures on the clay.
Cate was in heaven. When they had a bunch of textures on the clay, they painted it with glaze. Finally (with help from all of the mommies), the kids cut their clay and made fish shaped dishes.
The remaining time was spent cleaning up and drawing on easels.
While this class was a one-time special thing, the art studio does weekly mom and me classes. I think Cate and I are going to do them on Saturday afternoons this fall. We'll get Cate's finished fish dish back next week, so I'll be sure to share it with you all.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Heck of a Kid Friendly Backyard

The weather last weekend here in southwest Ohio was absolutely beautiful! Eric came home from work a little early Friday evening and we got to work getting our backyard ready for even more warm weather to come. Our first order of business was getting this sweet Step 2 house put together for Cate.
Our friends from small group gave Cate this for her birthday (but the weather has been too yucky to deliver it until now). Their kids have outgrown it and it's the perfect size for Cate. She's been in that house all weekend.

And when she's not in that house, she's enjoying time with her sand table. Playing in the sand with her made me ache for Hilton Head, which we'll be traveling to again this July!
We also set up her kid-size table and chairs that she got last year from my awesome Aunt B.
And while Cate happily amuses herself going from playhouse to sand table to princess table to various other toys, mommy and daddy can sit outside and read!
And to think that we don't even have her swingset up yet. It's on order though and will be coming soon! (It's one of those awesome small metal ones with two swings and a slide...all we need in our small backyard considering there are three playgrounds within a 5-7 minute walk of our house and about 20 playgrounds within a 15 minute or less drive).

~Melody :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stop Traffick Fashion T-Shirt Launch

Friday night Eric and I headed out together for a date (thanks to my grandma for babysitting the monitor while Cate soundly slept). We went to one of our favorite coffee houses near the University of Cincinnati's campus-- Rohs Street--where $2.50 gets you "bottomless coffee." Heck yeah!
I love that their mugs are just a collection of mismatched mugs-- most of them souvenirs from various places. I also thought it was funny that my coffee was served in this particular mug, which I have at home (thanks to my dear friend Jane who gave it to me for Christmas along with some yummy coffee several years ago).
I also love their decoupaged tables! So fun! I found it funny that this was on our table :-). Eric and I certainly are coffee fiends (although I usually drink one cup of hot tea in the morning before I switch to a cup o' joe).
But I digress...our reason for going to Rohs Street was not for the awesome coffee. It was for an even better reason. My awesome friend, Emily, who started Stop Traffick Fashion, an online boutique specializing in accessories made by survivors of human trafficking, was launching her brand new t-shirts.
Don't you just love the designs?
I added the blue one and the one with the birdcage to my wardrobe while we were at the event. The t-shirts come from Freeset, which Emily's sister recently visited. Eric picked up a cool Freeset jute messenger bag, which is the perfect size for toting home all the used vinyl he finds at our local record store.
If you'd like to order a t-shirt, or one of the other fabulous accessories Emily carries, check her out. Click here for a direct link to the t-shirt page. The bags and jewelry were also on sale at the benefit.Two amazing groups performed music for the evening. Flaregun, a great local friend duo, played first (after a couple of Emily's friends provided some acoustic guitar music).
Flaregun was followed by Artists and Authors, a very talented husband and wife team-- also local. We have CD's for both groups and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! Flaregun's CD, "Ten Sundays", and Artists and Authors album, "Beauty in Everything" are both on iTunes. Download them. You won't be disappointed.
Another husband and wife duo, both artists, created works of art in front of the entire audience as they felt inspired by the evening. Their pieces were later auctioned off. Daniel's piece was all done on a computer (Mac's rock).
I love how his piece started like this:
And ended like this:
An angel with one wing bound up. It made me think about the things in my own life that keep me from being able to fully spread my wings. Things like worry and perfectionism (but that's a whole other post).

His wife started out with these words on her canvas:
She ended up painting over those words to get this image: A bird flying out of a cage with the words "Be Free" below it. I find it no coincidence that right now our church is engaging in an all church journey about freedom and during this weekend's sermon, they released a bird from a cage (outside, but someone was taping it live so we could see it from inside the auditorium). If you want some more good music (and this stuff is free), you can download the songs from our all church journey by clicking here. Andrea, from Artists and Authors, sings on several of the tracks. My favorite song is "When Freedom Comes."
Emily spoke about the mission of Stop Traffick fashion in between bands.
And Melissa, her sister, who was my awesome sub when I was on maternity leave, read a poem inspired by her trip to India and to Freeset.

Several local businesses donated great raffle prizes too. I won a haircut, halo highlight, and style at a local salon and have made my appointment to get pampered during spring break (just two weeks away). So worth the $5 I spent on raffle tickets. I was just sad my hubby didn't come home with the basket of coffee products he was hoping to win.
It was a fantastic event, for a wonderful cause, put on by a fabulous woman! I couldn't have asked for a better Friday evening.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A New Set of Wheels

Cate used to confuse her bike with the lawn mower.
In fact, she used to fit on this bike.
But alas, she has grown a little a lot this past year and when we dragged the old bike out of the garage to enjoy the sunshine last week, I noticed that she didn't quite fit on it anymore. As in her knees were up to her ears. A new bike was in order.
Once she got it figured out, she was off. Her feet are less than a quarter of an inch away from touching the pedals (which have blocks on them) when they're at the point in their rotation that is the farthest away from her. At the rate she's going, she'll reach those pedals within weeks, if not days.
In the meantime though, she's quite content to use her feet. She does not, however, know how to use her head, so we will be buying a helmet soon. Our driveway is gently sloping but Cate has already learned how she can speed down it by moving her feet as the trike rolls. I'm amazed at how much speed she can pick up. Doesn't she look so grown up on her new bike?

~Melody :-)

PS...As a mom, I love that the pedal blocks come off and the seat adjusts so that we can get more use out of this bike since Miss Cate tends to grow like a weed a tall, pretty sunflower.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Knew?

Who knew that a laundry basket could be so much fun? After we folded some clothes, we put Cate in and "zoomed" her up and down the long hallway that connects the living room to the dining room. She loved it!
She kept asking Eric and I to do it again and again. Eventually though, Mommy and Daddy got tired of zooming Cate back and forth (it was quite the workout), so Cate started pushing her big Mickey Mouse around instead.
It provided at least 20 minutes of entertainment for her! You gotta love the things that keep kids amused. :-)
What simple things keep your kids amused?

~Melody :-)