Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Silver Anniversary Surprise

I awoke this morning with an image in my head.  Not the usual,"I just woke up and the last crazy dream I had is still simmering in my mind" kind of image, but a real memory.  A memory posted on my brain's home page as if it were a notification, "on this day 25 years ago you were...".  A mental picture that still has enough life left in it to play like a favorite film. So I let it play. 
It was me, just after a haircut, stopping by to see my best friend at her after school job at the church daycare.  I was walking to the door, fully anticipating her excitement over my new hairstyle. A brazen one at that.  A girl like me, known for her massive amount of thick, brown hair didn't just make drastic changes and not share it with her friend.  So there I was,  walking the hall leading to the room where she was working, I walked in, head held high, heart pounding, and I smiled.  Still wearing my sunglasses to keep my identity an even deeper mystery.
 "Can I please pick up my child", I asked.  She paused and truly didn't recognize me.  Success!  We laughed, she told me how awesome it looked.  I told her I was glad I had a reason to be so brave to cut it so short...fade.
 The life movie fades.
 I pull myself out of bed with a smile.
This may not seem strange, but it would if I were to rewind the film in my head to the scene where I am sitting in a hospital bed, my mom at my side and discussing how we are going to have fun with losing my hair.  "How about I dye it blonde? I'm going to go bald anyways!"
We laughed.
Yes, we laughed together.  We laughed because that was something we enjoyed and why not?  Life is full of surprises, bad, good...never expected...Like it or not, that's why they're called surprises.  I had just been diagnosed with a deadly bone cancer at 14.  We had nothing better to do, but laugh, pray, love, and fight, very hard.
So why do I write about this memory?  It was this time of year, 25 years ago that life fundamentally changed for me, my family and my friends.  I want to surprise you with something that may even surprise myself.  Cancer showed me, taught me so much and I'm not referencing the obvious, deep and scary things.  I am talking about the following:
Cancer surprised me by bringing out the best in my friends, family and even strangers.  People who wanted to love on and stretch themselves beyond what they knew they were capable of doing.
Cancer made us all stop, pull out the magnifying lens of life and see the smallest of moments as the miracles that they always are, but are often unseen.
Cancer removed the fog of frivolous behavior from so many and caused them to take inventory of what was important in life.
Cancer pushed me to my limits and then allowed me to try even harder than I had ever thought.
Cancer allowed me to stay awake long into the silent of the night because I was too sick to sleep and then and only then could I crawl into the lap of my heavenly Father, pray and be given strength that was beyond any thing humanly possible, feel peace that is indescribable, and Let. Go.
Cancer brought people into my life that would become life long friends.
Cancer allowed me to suffer enough to be empathetic in almost any situation.
Cancer allowed me to see the power in a phone call, card, balloon, or just the sit and be quiet kind of "I'm there for you".
Am I saying it was wonderful? Absolutely not!  I hate cancer.  It has taken many people I love, but I wanted to share with you something that surprised me as this anniversary has arrived.  I want to encourage you. I've seen things written about what cancer cannot do, but cancer or any other deep life struggle is a teacher.  Allow your struggle to teach.  Allow yourself to be the student in an AP Course of life.  You will soon be at the top of the class.  I pray that eventually, you will be far enough from this scene in your life, that you will be able to replay one of the memories without pain. Maybe even smile at how far you have come, what you have learned and be amazed at the people who have journeyed with you.  Fight hard.  You have a lot of people cheering for you.  Surprise us all.

-Melissa Pyle
Romans 8:28


 *If you would like to know a little more about the friend I mentioned, read one of my previous blog entries, "The To Step".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Words Mean Things...


I love words!  I love to talk, I love to read, I love to see the words of someone acted out on stage or sang in a melody...Words mean things! That sounds simple enough, right?  I tell my writing students this simple statement at the beginning of the year and then have them write an essay on some words that changed the world.  That sounds so ridiculously obvious, but is it? Do we stop  to think about how the major events of all human history have been shaped by something someone created in their brain and spoke with their smallest, yet most uncontrollable member: the tongue?
 As I was reading THE WORD this morning I read over a familiar passage, but I was prompted to see it in a new light.  Hebrews 11:3, "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."
 There it is:creation, life, words!
God created the universe out of His words.  John 1 speaks of Christ in the following manner: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God...all things were made by Him...The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Their it is again, just as in Genesis, Words becoming flesh. The Earth came out of the word of God, here is Jesus coming to the earth in flesh, to be among us, to be a sacrifice for us.  So what was so unique about reading Hebrews 11:3 this morning?
We are created in the image of our Creator.  He gave us the power to create.  He also gave us the power to speak, write, sing, ultimately he gave us the ability to take our words and create life.  Of course, it isn't in the same sense that God did it, but it is a reminder to us that we are his children.  We have a responsibility to our fellow man to create things that give life.
Proverbs states that the power of life and death is in the tongue.  In your words!  How often we- I forget that.  Your words today could create an environment of life for someone in your sphere of influence.  Our fallen nature has a tendency to use our words for death, for destruction, but our life giving God, wants us to use the power of the word to change others and the world we inhabit, the homes we run to for comfort and the jobs we work at each day.  We can create a better everything with our words.  These words can imitate the giver of life and built up or they can imitate the one who came to"steal, kill and destroy" and they can actual destroy the world you influence.  Give life to the hearers of your words and readers of your posts.  Words are power, words mean things!  Create wisely.
-Melissa Pyle

Friday, January 8, 2016

God...dog?

In thinking and praying about what my first post of the year should be I began recounting the events of 2015.  Struggles, of course, surfaced before the blessings passed through my mind.  Waking up from surgery with, "it was cancer", having a son turn 17 and your heart aches for him to drive, but more importantly to function like his peers, but he is still having seizures.  Friends hurting...the list can go on.  The good list pops up too:  Vacations, family laughter, 20th anniversary milestone.  The ups and downs that we surf over throughout a year can be adventurous, yet exhausting.  Then my heart heard these words:  God is not my dog.  Seemingly random, right?
 Over the years many people have shared little quips about how God spelled backwards is dog because God loves dogs or because dogs are man's best friend and they love without measure.  Outwardly, I'd say that seems a little irreverent, but in my heart-Suddenly,  I am convicted.  Convicted to the point of coming to my knees both physically and spiritually.  Have I been treating God like my dog? "No, I protest!", but the Spirit continues to convict. 
So precise. 
So surgical.
When our perspective becomes altered and we are looking at things from the wrong direction, God indeed can quickly become our dog.  The words, even now, hurt my heart as they pound from my fingers.  I have to confess that at moments and maybe for a few long stretches, I unknowingly have viewed God as my dog.  Before you scoff at the thought, think with me...
When I need him, I call, expecting a quick response that pleases me.  When I need a guardian, I expect Him to do as I command.  When someone harms me...dare I say, "get 'em."? When I need some selfish comfort, I call Him to warm my heart.  When I need a listening ear, I talk and maybe I only want to hear my own answers respond? Or when I know I am in the wrong, but don't want correcting, does my heart long for just a comforting look that I am ok?  When things aren't going as I planned, I PANIC and call out His name as if He has ran off and left my home. When I want to look like I've got it all together, do I just carry Him as an accessory?  Is my God and Savior being reduced to a crate instead of His crown?!?
I had to answer honestly because when we see our God from the correct perspective He is King.  He is the loving Creator who stooped down and crafted us with His hands.  He is the Savior who reached out His hands to humanity only to have them nailed to the cross for our sins.  He is the Redeemer who has brought us back from the death curse of sin and given us new spiritual life on earth and a future in heaven. When you are in His presence you feel His breathtaking power and unconditional love.  You feel the piercing eyes of the Savior looking into your soul, seeing all that you are or ever will be and healing you.  When you are in His presence you know that the one who gives you the very breath that holds your life by a string forgives you for being so foolish as to ever treat Him like He were your lap dog.

John 1:1-5; Romans 9:20-24; 1 John 1:9

-Melissa Pyle

Sit Still and Be Quiet!

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