Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sit Still and Be Quiet!

Two things children are known for being unable to do: wait patiently and be silent.  Those two things are nearly impossible for children to do at the same time!  Kind of like the rub your tummy and pat your head challenge.  If you observe yourself or your world for more than a few moments you will have to admit that we are also if not unable to, but unwilling to, wait patiently and be silent.
Waiting is the sheer anticipation of an event.  It can be a good event: a trip.  It can be a bad event: a doctor appointment.  Either way, we are challenged to just be.  To just sit.  To maybe occupy our time with deep thoughts, but there is a phone and the world at my fingertips-crisis averted! I can entertain myself while I wait, right!?  Well that would be right if you weren’t trying to pat your proverbial tummy and head at the same time in this situation, i.e., be silent while you wait.  Crisis not averted.
Silence is not just the absence of sound, but the absence of distractions, self repairs, influx of information, entertainment, the list goes on.  We have come to a place in our world where silence is like the dark room in a horror film.  We are yelling: “don’t go in there” at the main character.  In this case it is us.  We will unknowingly avoid all aspects of silence.  Being alone in our thoughts.  Being alone with our lives, our decisions. It is a terrifying possibility.
Waiting and silence are exactly what the Psalmist David prescribes for himself in Psalm 62. In verse 1 “My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.”  In verse 5 David is almost reminding himself as he writes: “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.” The first was almost an admission and a calming assurance, the second reference is almost a self-reminding command.
AS crazy as it sounds, talk to yourself!  Tell your soul, to “STOP, put down all the distractions and WAIT in SILENCE”.  The God of the universe speaks to our souls in a still, small voice.  He is the One who wants us to wait in silence for communion with Him because in waiting in the silence we have moments to realign our thoughts away from the temporary towards the eternal. Away from the overwhelming to the One who can and has overcome the world.  Away from the discouragement of others and our own voices to the One who says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Away from the selfish procurement of things towards the unselfish desires of the heart of our God.  Our Abba Father.  Child of the King, sit and wait at the throne room this morning.  Wait in silence.  It is there that you will discover He has been waiting to have conversation with you, but you just had to BE STILL and KNOW that He is God.
I can assure you that the waiting and the silence will give way to worship and purpose.  It is a worthy pursuit.
-Melissa Pyle
Psalm 62

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Life Coaster: Hill Forty

In March of 2017 I turned 40.   Forty, the number that sits perched at the middle of a timeline like the peak of a rollercoaster.  It seemed time clicked away slowly as it dragged me to the top.  The top of of this ride called life. The click clacking of the track as we passed holidays, school days, movie nights, vacations, graduation, true love, weddings, babies, sleepless nights, hectic days, the “I can’t wait untils”. Then suddenly, as if I’d just blinked and somehow the track had been cut and pasted: I am at the top of it all.
 For just a split second my car sits at the top of this fragile thing, on a skeleton of wood and nails.  I can look behind and see all the track I've traveled and then look forward to all the track I am about to plunge through, scared, crazy, stiff, but laughing at every dip.  In those seconds at the top, I can see for miles.  My infinite perspective gives me pause at all the beauty i've been whooshing by in an attempt to have fun.  All the anticipation of “what ifs” are here, staring me in the eyes.  The dreams of my youth now have skin and bones on them, names with faces.
But what is forty? I know for me it’s more than a milestone, it’s a monumental achievement. I was told I may never see 15. Now I’m sitting here at the top of a very precarious situation. I look behind me and I know how far, how fast, how troublesome and simultaneously exhilarating life can be! I look ahead and my heart leaps with anticipation for the possibilities this “still fairly young body”  can still do. I am wise enough to know what is in my wheelhouse and what should be left to the hands of others, but I am brave enough to attempt new things. I am strong enough to stand up for the deep soul mending things that have real impact on the world, but weak enough to know which things are not worth a frivolous fight. I love life and I know life isn’t composed of things but people, but I also know that life is sweeter when you can enjoy good things with great people.
Forty, a new start, a new plunge...probably the best part of the roller coaster remains in the track ahead...the part two.
How does it all go so fast?
I think I'll buy the picture.
-Melissa Pyle

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mothers, May I?

Today, I shift from my usual style to share with you some personal advice and wisdom gained by the bumps and bruises of  living life and giving life:  Motherhood. All the wrapped up beauty of the newborn and the graduate at 18 are just the trinkets that decorate our hurried and sometimes harried existence. I was crazy enough to marry young and because of the possible threat of infertility due to chemo and radiation, we weren't sure if I could conceive... I became pregnant with my daughter four months after our wedding and two years after she was born, we had our son. I was a young mom with an old soul. I knew the value of one day and desired to make it count.
Despite my perspective I fell prey to feeling the pressures to do everything "right". I was always second guessing my choices. Should my toddler be in dance? Should I make sure to teach her how to read by 3? What if he isn't talking as well as the other kids? (and other ridiculous things)What am I doing wrong became the overwhelming question instead of What am I doing right?  We are our own worst critic!
 I was also feeling the pressure to be a woman, who if not working outside the home, must do all things perfect at home. After all I was home ALL DAY my house should look like a show room, right? On days when the laundry was overflowing and all I could do was keep up the diaper changes between feedings,this made me feel less than successful.

 All the messages sent to moms, especially mom's of young children to do everything perfect can influence even the most independent thinkers among us. At one point in my mothering I was taking college classes, selling home decor (which meant doing home parties), volunteering in church plays and choirs, caring for our soon to be two year old, all while growing our second child in my body! I think I had lost my mind! I was twenty-something and could do it all!  Maybe that's where you find yourself...trying to do it all and feeling like you are falling short of it all.  Here are some tips from this not so old, but semi-retired mommy (my baby just graduated-but I'm only 40).
Mothers, may I offer a few tips? There are thousands, but I offer just a handful for mommies with children under five.
Tip #1:
Don't believe the lies! The devil started the lie in the garden with the woman and still perpetuates lies on unsuspecting women everywhere. These lies are seemingly innocent but they can plant seeds of doubt and disgruntled living in the heart of your home. Lies like: I'm not good enough, I'm not perfect, I'm not-fill in the blank.  Face it, you aren't perfect! You can't be all things to all people but you can be the best person God made you to be. If you are loving at full capacity and running your home with all your heart, mind and strength. Rest in that.  Be thankful for all the crazy you may have humming around your home. It is only a season.
Tip #2:
Your children are not a perfect reflection of you.  You are responsible for making sure they are cared for and you should discipline them but all your efforts will not stop their sinful hearts from being, well, sinful.  When your little one falls to the ground screaming like they are the town maniac don't get angry or embarrassed at yourself. Calmly take your child to a secure location and deal with the crazy threat in a calm way. You don't have to feel like your child has just shattered your reputation. Your child is an individual-not a part of your body.
Tip #3:
Teach them to love others by serving others as soon as possible.  I felt so much pressure to teach them to write their names, count, say their ABC's.  The list of what you "need" to teach your children changes with the times and with the opinions of the people who are in your life.  I was always wondering if I was doing enough. Honestly, if I could go back and teach them more things when they were little I would use that time to teach them to love others well through more service. I'm not talking about church activities but about going to your neighbors or family members who need extra help. Teach your children to be Jesus to others. Just the presence of a small child can give life to an aging grandparent.  We often get so busy in doing activities that are seen, let's teach our littles that activities that are unseen are rewarded in heaven and are much more heart changing.
Tip #4:
Don't feel like you will never be you again.  I remember a friend asking me after the birth of her first baby, when she would ever read a book again.  Now she is teaching again and is a successful writer.  Another friend had told me that soon after she had decided to leave her firm (where she was going to make partner) to stay home with her baby, she found herself contemplating her life over Mr. Clean and the toilet bowl.  Who are you?  Well, you are the creative spirit who can do a million things well, but sometimes not all at the same time.  Give yourself a break!  You can work on all those goals, but they may not come into full swing until your babies are in school. So don't beat yourself up! Share your unique interest and talents with your toddlers.  I love to write, when the kids were really small I would make up creative stories for them.  Whatever your gift, find a way to grow it, not stress over it because it  will feed your soul and you will be a better mommy.
Tip #5:
Enjoy the moments.  Remember how I said I was a young mom with an old soul?  Despite the pressure of trying to be perfect, my heart always rejoiced at the fact that I had children!  I had survived cancer and had friends still fighting cancer so the small events in life were so precious-are so precious to me.  Playing light bright, reading, pretending, taking time to play and not be busy with all the stuff that could wait til tomorrow is something I will never regret. I think sometimes people may have wondered how a girl who'd done so well in school and had been assumed to go on to medical school or another exciting career, could find satisfaction in "just" being at home.  To me it has never been "just", it was a privilege. Life is priceless and you will never regret investing in those little people who have eternal value.
Finally,  after you have wiped bottoms, table tops, walls, stopped your toddlers from causing themselves bodily harm multiple times a day, remember: "In whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God."  Jesus said that if you give a glass of water in His name, you have given it to Him.  Just the small acts on earth, done with a loving heart, are eternity changing.  I am not sure how that all plays out in the economy of heaven, but I know that God sees all you are doing.  Hang in there mommies!  You are doing great things! By the way, those babies really do grow up-you will sleep again!

-Melissa Pyle


Thursday, July 20, 2017

When the Bump in the Road becomes the Bumpy Road (Part 2)

   I distinctly remember as a small child I loved to go visit my great grandmother.  She was so unique in her love for others and despite her being wheelchair bound after losing both legs to diabetes related injuries, she was always full of life.  She took pride in sneaking us a cookie while swearing us to secrecy.  We loved running in her flower filled yard and playing whatever our young minds could dream up in the few hours we were there.  She was always teaching us and giving unlimited hugs, but one of the things I found most exciting about going to see her actually had nothing to do with seeing her at all. (When you are 7 or younger priorities are often distorted).
   The most exciting part of our visit had to do with the road we drove on to get there. The road was gravel.  I loved the feel of the small rocks and the crackle they made under the hot tires.  The dust would swell up behind our station-wagon and the bounce the car had was as much fun to my five year old self as a ride at the fair.  That ride always comes to mind anytime I drive on a bumpy, gravel road.
   As we would turn off the paved road and dip onto the gravel road my excitement would take over and I'd usually not want to sit still.  I have faint memories of my mom telling us to sit down, sit still.  I know it was for our own safety, but I really wanted to bounce around that car!  I couldn't wait  to see grandma, but the excitement of the off road ride was FUN!
Oh, to be a kid again!
   I see so many parallels to life in this memory.  I am driving on the bumpy road of trials right now, but I am reminded that I am to be still.  Be still and know that He is God.  Be still and know that I am not in control of the station wagon!  I have to trust that when I get to my destination there will be cookies, flowers, hugs and pure childhood joy.
   God tells us in His Word that the trials we are facing now will pale in comparison to the glory we will see in heaven.  2 Corinthians 4:17 states: " For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison"
Far beyond what comparison?  Your trial that is so heavy it knocks the breath from your soul?  Imagine that heavy burden is going to be turned inside out and you will receive an eternal weight of glory that will produce so much joy your soul will burst with worship!  I do not speak these words to insinuate that I am dancing along side my broken down "life car".  I speak these words because the faith that God has spilled into my soul continues to give testimony that this is temporary.  The tears are being bottled up and will be crafted into something so amazing that it will eternally be glory.  ONLY our God can do that!
   So as you ride that bumpy road, rejoice passenger!   There is a reward in every crackled sound and bumpy road.  Tears remain only for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
-Melissa  Pyle

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sweet Dreams

(In light of Mother's Day, I'd like to share a poem I wrote in 2009. The ideas had swirled around my head for sometime and I finally put them on paper.  Happy Mother's Day, You are a super star in the heart of your child.)

At 5 I dreamed of acting on the world's finest stage
The bug of fame had bit me-
I had to escape its rage...
At 10 I thought of flying,
high above the earth,
Feeling all the strength of engines
propel me to self worth.
At 12 my voice had blossomed into sweet melodies
begging my soul to follow the lights
My name, blazing in the city.
14 was all about surviving,
living within my means.
Looking back-I left my daydreams,
when I left my teens.
All the roads less traveled
seemed to pave their way
Across a million wishes to
where I am today...
This morning I led some
children in a school-time play,
helped mold some airplanes,
boyhood dreams, and clay.
Giving new propulsion
to some youthful plan,
Crafting tools for success for
a young woman and little man.
All these dreams from up above
come into fullness each night;
When I sing to my children
In the glow of the soft moonlight.
Tucking all those dreams in bed,
Bowing one last time-
Over crib-rail and toddler bed
In their hearts I shine.
My name in lights inside their souls,
It glistens in their sleep.
Mommy is the hero who holds
them when they weep.
Washes away sorrows, she makes long
All my childish wishes would never have paid the same...
Dividends in kisses will always outlast fame.
-Melissa Pyle
2009/ revised 5/13/2017

My babies, when they were little.  Pure sweetness!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When the Bump in the Road becomes the Bumpy Road (Part 1)

               The road less traveled always seems to be the most adventurous, at least that’s the insight one feels when reading Robert Frost.  In the real world, the idea is always captivating, but what happens when that road less traveled is actually a very hard road to stay on?  What happens when you feel like your entire life is an off-road trip?  The bumps are exciting at first, but you are going to become very sore.
                Since August 2009 we have been “off roading it” through life.  What started as a childhood epilepsy diagnosis has grown into a lifestyle.     Ever since my son, ten at the time, stood up at dinner to laugh at his sister and impress his friend, but ended up falling head backwards into his sister’s plate, we have been living life on a very bumpy road.  I have always managed to console my spirit by saying it will pass because so many other things have “passed”.  I had cancer at 14 and while it has made an eternal impact on my life and perspective, the physical portion of that drama lasted for mainly a year.  There have been a few setbacks, but I have been able to drive back onto the ramp of life and try to keep pace with the flow of life’s traffic. 
                The last few months have taken a new turn.  In the path to get back to “normal highway” I feel as if we have just taken a wrong turn down another dirt filled back road.  After years of medicine and moments of light that seem to peak through to new hope, things began to slip.  Seizures came closer together, his learning seemed to be on the downhill curve.  Life, pre-seizures seemed to be another life that someone else had lived.  After seeing new doctors at one of the best hospitals in the country and having new tests, I have been told, “We don’t know…we don’t see cases like this very often.”  A doctor who had great expectations that the initial diagnoses was incorrect and the seizures could be stopped with an operation saw activity in my son’s brain that has puzzled even him. 
“We don’t know?”  is that an option for the best doctors?  In the days of instant everything and the best research, is that still a thing?  I know it is, but what now?  How does a 21st century person let go and be at peace with this foreign idea?  So- I pray.   Prayer is talking to God, not being an orator of religious poetics.  Talking to God as you would your friend.  He is your friend.  Spilling out your emotional guts and telling Him how hard it is and how not fair it seems.  Last night I was driving down the literal road and praying to God about this tough road and I hear these words, not audibly, but in my spirit: “They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” 
Run, I don’t run, unless being pursued by a dangerous situation, but I can relate to the idea.  Walk, I walk a lot.  Physically walk, but these words are talking about the mental and emotional part of life.  I run and walk excessively in that area.  I run to God when I see my child has fallen because of a seizure and looks like he went three rounds with Rocky.  I walk daily with the thought that at any moment it could happen.  The seizing, no breathing, scary kind of seizure or will it be the blank stare and fluttering eyes that cause him to lose his place in his schoolwork kind of seizure?  Trying to pretend life is normal but knowing lightning can strike at any moment is like driving over potholes continuously.
So down this path I go.  I know that I can cling to those words I heard in my car yesterday.  Those words that are even better if you get a running start into verse 31 by backing up to verse 28 of Isaiah chapter 40: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  (29) He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  (30) Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, (31) Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (NASB)
Weary-the word itself makes me, well, weary.  Worn, EXHAUSTED.  These are the words we want relief from.  These are the things that we want to be FIXED.  What if they are never fixed in this life?  What if our manmade gods are not able to repair life’s problems?  We can white knuckle it through or we can rest while we are driving the constant rocky terrain.  We have two options: rest in the Lord or become insanely restless with life because we don’t want to go the road less traveled.  We can go kicking and screaming down the backroads or we can see life as most people zooming by never get to see it.  To you who are in a battle for the long haul: whether it is physical, like an illness or emotional, like a child who is ripping your heart into shreds.  You can stay the course!  You can gain strength, not get tired and you can soar like an eagle IF you call on your creator, your Savior!  He will give you a strength that is unexplainable and a peace that passes all understanding.  You may be on an off-road adventure that you didn’t sign up for, but you are going to be a survivalist!  You are going to have stories to tell, miracles to share, encouragement to give and a life that is so much richer than the one you could have had if you’d stayed on that smooth pavement.  As hard as life can be, hang in there traveler, you aren’t alone.
-Melissa Pyle
off road-life survival specialist

Sit Still and Be Quiet!

Two things children are known for being unable to do: wait patiently and be silent.   Those two things are nearly impossible for childr...