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

7/25/17

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
7/20/2017

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
days-complete.
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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Blackberries

A friend mentioned she couldn't find a poem about real blackberries. So I had some fun and wrote one...enjoy!


Blackberries

Warm summer, dirty toes
Take me to where the berries grow
Feel the heat of prick and pale
Let me breathe the fresh summer air
Whisp away my polished self
Just so I can play like a free little elf
Snatching God's candy
That's sitting low on the shelf
Between bushes and imagination
Stain my fingers with sweep temptation
One taste of purple ink,
Pinches my lips from sour to sweet.
Walk my worries far away
It needs to be a blackberry day.

-Melissa Pyle
4/27/17

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Tale of Two Blind Men (inspired by Matthew 20:20-34)



"Hurry up and finish your breakfast, we need to get to him before all the others do” snipped the middle-aged mother who had cleaned off the table and rushed her adult sons like they were youngsters.  
"Ok, mother, but I really don't-" John hesitantly tried to interject."
"Don't think! That is your mother's job. You two have had so many opportunities over the last few years and you have said nothing!"
"My boys are so deserving..."she says as she grabs her covering and wraps it tightly over her graying hair.
"You two are the kindest, wisest and may I say, best looking of the bunch" she lovingly touches the face of James as she walks towards the door.  "Just think of the others: Matthew, smart but his reputation as a tax collector will hinder him from being a loved leader and then there is Peter!  Don't get me started on how you have told me about his overwhelming sense of importance-"
"Mother, we never said such a thing, but he can be a little quick to speak" John sheepishly inserted.
She continued, " Well even so, you two are the best!  Don't even ask me what I really think about that Judas, oh he smiles and nods but I have always had a strange feeling about him, trust me, he is only in this for himself!"
"Sounds like a lot of people are..." muttered James under his breath.  
"What was that?"  She froze like all mothers do when their children are trying to chide them under their breath.
"Nothing, let's go” he replied.  They entered the streets that were swelling with activity.  The hot middle eastern sun had already begun to warm their faces and the dirt from the roadway floating up over their toes so that their freshly washed feet were getting as dark as their sandals within minutes.
As they walked along, their well-meaning mother, rehashed all the arguments of what she had said and what she was going to say.  They, bound with love and honor for their mother, let her talk and didn't really mind allowing her to be the one to put audible words to what they were truly feeling.  Secretly, they had begun feeling the same way and felt she had some strong evidence for her request.  She could see, along with everyone else that His popularity was coming to a head and could feel in her spirit that something very big was about to happen.
"I just want to be sure that when all this happens, you two will be in the right positions for -"  
Her words were interrupted by the push of another large group of people. They had arrived and so had most of the people in the city and they were swarming around Jesus.  He was speaking and she gestured for her sons to go to their usual places.  As they walked away, she nervously smiled and yet with her eyes gave that confident glance to her sons, the one only mothers can give when they are ready to go to battle for their children.
Jesus had been speaking for some time, yet her mind was so wrapped up in what she had prepared to say that she wasn't listening.  To the observer, she looked engrossed in every word, but she was enraptured in her own ambitions.
As Jesus finishes, "and on the third day He will be raised up."  He begins to gather His disciples and they move towards Jerusalem.  An opening came, she grabbed her moment.  Her moment to get the award due her sons and if she were honest with herself: to her (all parents feel rewarded when their children are honored).  As quickly as she could, she pushed herself before him; with all her nervousness removed and before she even has the chance to call out her usual greeting of "Master", she falls at his feet and bows in front of Him.  Face still bowed, "I have a request!"  she blurts out.  Jesus, gently helping her to her feet, looks her in the eyes and says, "What do you wish?"  This moment was only seconds but those eyes peered deeply into hers and she felt he already knew her request. To her own surprise she almost felt shame creeping into her soul, but the words were already leaving her lips and to capture them would mean to capture her very life's breath.  "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left."  There it was out, she said it.  Strange regret rushed over her.
It was in this moment that Jesus, eyes so intense with pain and love for her, simply replied: "You do not know what you are asking."  The two sons, James and John were standing just over her shoulders and Jesus looks towards them and continues: "Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?".  The two, without hesitation or contemplation of the words Jesus just spoke to them, answered with a childish, in stereo response: "We are able”. The answer so quickly and excitedly stated that they felt they had the job if they could just say "Yes!".  Fastest job interview they have had and they feel certain they have most deservedly nailed it.
"My cup you shall drink, but to sit on My right and My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father."
Heartbreak.
At this point all the other ten have been listening and are hurt, shocked and indignant at the ridiculous request.  The group all began speaking at once and in their frustration, no one was being heard.  Jesus calms them, calls them to himself and reminds them that "whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  They quiet down like a storm on the open sea.  The proud mother's heart was beginning to tremble with a little bit of fear and embarrassment as she let the crowd flood in front of her.  Her ears had finally heard what He had been teaching and she didn't want her two boys to have any part of "giving their lives for many".  She whispers to herself, "what have I wished for?".

The disciples were regrouped both physically and mentally as they were leaving Jericho and approaching Jerusalem.  The recent squabble was of no concern now.  The large, worshipful crowds had such energy that the idea that Jesus would be hated or die had vanished with the waving palm trees.  Their hearts began to leap within them again at the possibility of a Righteous and Fair King ruling Israel once again.  The crowds were deep and the people so close that it was hard for James and John to keep close and watch out for anyone who may get too close to their Jesus, but they knew from experience that He would keep no one away, even the beggars.   
"Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"  two voices began to cry out repeatedly in such pain and agony that a passerby would have mistaken them for a dying animal.  The crowd by the road began to get boisterous and shouting ensued.  This didn't stop the guttural cries, but fueled their intensity.  "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
It was no surprise to the disciples that among all the chaos of the pressing crowd, Jesus, like many times before, stopped and called to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
By this time the crowd, shocked by His attentiveness to the two men sitting by the road, parted to make a path for Jesus.  The two were already seated but made feeble attempts to bow towards the sensation of His presence.  They were dirty and half starved.  
For years’ people, had passed them by as if they themselves were blind to the two men.  As is so with those who suffer alongside each other, the two, although not physically related, at this point felt a brotherly connection.  Their moment had come! The moment they had prayed for, the Messiah, Son of David, prophesied One, was walking by them and they were not going to squander this moment. They were going to proclaim His Majesty to the crowd and hope they would be heard. They had been heard and He was at their bent knees and although they couldn't see Him, their hearts were full of pure worship.  Yes, they did have a request, a request like so many other people had of Him, to be healed.  Jesus, moved with compassion, reached out and to the repulse of the crowd touched their filth covered eyes.  Immediately, they began praising!  Immediately their physical sight became as clear as their spiritual sight had been while they sat waiting for the Savior.  Immediately they joined the crowd, followed Him towards Jerusalem, praising their King.  Their Eternal King.  

*The blind eyes of those who had not walked with Him were now open to see the beauty of the world, allowing them to live as others had lived and yet, they just wanted to follow Him and continue to praise Him.  The spiritual sight of those walking with Him daily had been totally eclipsed by their own ambition.  The ability to worship "God with us" was hindered by the desire to share in what they assumed was an earthly limelight.  Jesus will never dim; His Kingdom has no end and He will shine forever.  Thankfully, the spiritual eyes of the disciples were eventually opened and they understood all that Jesus had been teaching them, after He was resurrected.  Have your eyes been opened?  Ask Jesus to heal your blindness.  He has experience.  He will heal you of your spiritual darkness, just recognize Him as Savior and King of your life and He, moved with compassion and love will heal you, instantly and eternally.  (John 3:16)

















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...