Belly Laughter

Usually family formed belly laughter is just that – for the family – and just like pulling out old home videos is boring to other people so are their family belly laughter stories. But one reason this blog exists is for family memory preservation so I’ll share it anyways.

The weekly belly laugher comes in the form of a mispronounced Science term. I’m explaining to my son how this Science stuff works while trying to be all brainy like until I get to the term “Stratigraphy”  (\strə-ˈti-grə-fē\) and murder it completely and cannot with all my might say it the correct way after multiple attempts.

My 8th grader is beside himself laughing hysterically at me, not with me, with each mispronunciation of the word. I admit, it really is funny. It sounds so redneck and uneducated the way I say it. The wrong way. We laugh and for the last two weeks all I’ve heard about is the word Stratigraphy! At bedtime. At breakfast. On the way out the door to school – “Hey Mom, remember “Stratigraphy?”

As if to follow in this new pattern of mispronouncing words I get to the word Potomac River while studying with our third grader and once again say it totally wrong – short o and added a “t” in the middle making it sound like an automatic Pontiac car or something just completely off.

There’s no hiding anything with Sophie. You don’t get by with anything with her. No saying it correctly real fast like in hopes she didn’t catch it the first time. Nope. You’re doomed with this child.

Eyes roll in the back of her head and she says, “Mom, that is NOT how you say that word. Bahahahaha!”

Oh dear. One can hope for better days of pronunciation I guess.


Church fail – OMGosh I’m a freak!

All of last week I pretty much ate a daily dose of humble pie. It wasn’t the most epic parenting week ever and I certainly didn’t hold up to any pastor’s wife specs and qualifications last night at the Community Thanksgiving service. Let me paint the picture:

Once a year our awesome little community holds a Thanksgiving service on Sunday night. It either takes place in a predominately white church with a black pastor speaking or a predominately black church with a white pastor speaking. This year it was at a predominately black church. I should be used to these services by now because we attend every year and there are some things that are done differently in these services and that’s part of what I love so much about them. I truly love it but it would do me well to remember a few key things.

So last night we walk in and Randy places us in the third row behind all the ministers of our community. He then promptly leaves me and the kids sitting there by ourselves because he is whisked off to a private room where all the ministers gather and pray before the service. Makes sense but I forgot about this part. Not a big deal. Until you realize there’s nobody in front of you to watch for when to stand, sit down, or leave to put money in the offering. There is protocol to this stuff and you’re not always told what it is.

I start to notice myself sitting when EVERYone else is standing. Then I find myself starting to stand up when everyone else is still sitting. Nice one, Mel. I notice the nice looking couple behind me. She smiles and I admit to her I don’t know when to stand or sit. She says, “Just follow the leader.” Would be great except the ministers are my leaders and they have their own protocol of standing and sitting and it’s not always when the congregation does it. We sort of laugh together. And then I realize I’ve not introduced myself to them. I should welcome this nice couple. Oh I know – I should ask if they go to church here. No wait, we’re at the black church this year and they are lily white. They don’t go here. They might not even be FROM here. It’s Thanksgiving week. I bet they’re visiting family because I’ve never seen them at the Thanksgiving Community service before and it’s usually the same crowd every year. I’ll welcome them.

But I quickly get distracted by the fact that once again people are standing. I immediately stand up and fumble for my bulletin to find the words everyone is repeating. Responsive reading is so beautiful. I love it so much but I could not for the life of me find the place. I mumble words I think might fit in until I find my place. Finally I find the words and we’re on the last sentence.

This time I am quick to use my peripheral vision to see if we are sitting or singing or giving testimony at this point in the service. We are sitting.

I keep feeling the need to introduce myself to the people behind me. They are a sharp looking couple. She and I laughed together about not knowing when to do stuff and we’d soon have another mishap connection over the offering.

So what I love about black church offerings is they flat out get excited about giving. So much so that they have ushers that dismiss you by rows one by one. You take your offering down the aisle in front of everyone to put into a basket. It’s like a celebration. I really love the joy that seems to exude during this time.

But I would’ve had more joy if I had money to put in. Last year – no lie people – last year the pastor’s wife of the minister speaking – gave me a dollar to put in. She saw the look of horror that came over my face when they announced the offering and I didn’t have my purse and Randy was on the stage with the other ministers. I was so thankful for Mrs. Betty’s assistance.

Well, last night I forgot to bring money again and this time Mrs. Betty was on the other side of the church. There was no subtle sharing of the offering this time. I decided it might be safe to ask the woman behind me since we’d already laughed at some of the earlier mishaps. But something held me back – probably the fact she was a mere stranger passing through and how weird to ask for money. I would later learn it was the grace of God that kept my mouth shut.

Randy was two rows in front of me with an empty row between us. He turned around and saw the “no money!” expression on my face yet again.

He pulls out a wad of dollar bills for his inept wife and kids. I’m hoping he might smuggle them on page 327 of the hymnal but instead he stretches out far and hands the money over. I’m disappointed that I failed to remember the special offering again. I feel out of place. I don’t feel like I know what I’m supposed to be doing. Soon enough though my thoughts drift away from me and on to the awesome choir special that is going on. They are swaying, belting it out beautifully and people are walking the aisles with their money. I looked for the ushers in their white dresses but didn’t see any. They must be doing it differently this year. Looks like a free for all to me. I get excited when I see a few people from our own church there.  They must have been sitting in the way back because I didn’t see them when we came in. I decide to file in after them. That’s when I see the look in Randy’s eye as I pass him. He quietly says, “I think you were supposed to go last. They are dismissing by rows starting in the back.”

Well of course they were and of course I missed my cue once again.

I turn to the same woman behind me and say, “Well, apparently I’m breaking all the rules tonight because I went too soon.” She was gracious and smiled and we giggled again.

The sermon was incredible and reminded us of what to truly be thankful for this Thanksgiving and to not forget the people who are being persecuted for Christ’s name. Would we be willing to die for Jesus. Are we that thankful for him?

Just as the service was about to conclude the Ministerial Alliance coordinator says, “We want to thank our city officials and dignitaries that might be joining us tonight. Our Mayor is with us tonight. Mayor, would you please stand.”

And directly behind me – that couple I had been confessing to all night long – that couple – they stood up as the Mayor of our city.

I’ve never had the desire to fall slain in the spirit but I can promise you I tried really hard to fall out in that moment. To fall out cold and never wake up until Black Friday 2016.

Ya’ll – I almost welcomed the Mayor of our city to our city. I made fun of myself ALL night long to his wife. I’m a dork. I’m a dork. I’m a dork!!!!!!

We get in the van to go home and I tell Randy of all the churchy mistakes I made and how mortified I was. He laughed and said, “So you didn’t know that was Jay Donecker and his wife sitting behind you?” Then to make matters worse our nine year old daughter pipes up and says, “Mom, how did you not know that? I’ve met him twice before and knew who he was.”

Well just put me to bed and wake me up in ten years please.

The end.


Homecoming Court: a platform to teach about true identity

It happens every year – homecoming court. I love it and I hate it. I hate that young girls especially tend to place so much value on a like, a share, a comment or in the case of homecoming – a vote. Each girl secretly hopes to be chosen as class representative even if she is too scared to walk the court or doesn’t want to be in the spot light. She still wants to be the one picked. To dress up in a beautiful dress and be escorted by a boy also chosen by classmates. It might be awkward and nerve-wracking but still it’s a desire by many girls. Not all but many.

I’m not one of these parents who thinks every girl and boy should be on the homecoming court or there should be no homecoming court at all. No, that’s just weird. I don’t think all kids need a ribbon for participating. As long as we live on this earth, have jobs and live in community we will experience competition and levels of achievement. We should always strive to do our best with what God has given us and rest in the contentment that comes in pointing it all back to Him.

But lets be honest and say it’s not always easy to do that. To desire something – an accomplishment or position – and not get it. We can be quick to internalize false judgements about ourselves as we equate votes (or lack of votes) with value.

So as you approach Homecoming season (or Basketball, Football, etc) with your girl or boy – whether he/she desires to be on the Homecoming Court or not consider talking about these things with them beforehand.

You are already CHOSEN by God – I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

You are already ACCEPTED by God – Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

You are GIFTED by God – Romans 12:6 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

You are QUALIFIED by God – Colossians 1:12 – Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

It might also do us well to remember these identifying truths of our own standing in Christ. As believers in Jesus Christ we already have every.thing we need. Our relationship with Jesus provides an inheritance far greater than the most beautifulestest homecoming dress, most prestigious badge of honor, the most points in a game, or the largest instagram following. When we understand our true identity we are quick to forego the craving for positions and titles and are more quick to serve and come alongside others for a greater purpose.

These are not spiritual props to be viewed as “ribbons for everyone” but this is a believers core identity. It’s who we are through and through whether we know it or not. And these are just a few of a long list of inheritance factors. Want to know more of who you are in Christ? Then check out theseA -Z cards from my friend Cindy Bultema. I use these cards a lot as a reminder to both me and my kids of who God says we are.

So today, let’s celebrate that we’ve already been voted on and chosen by the King of Kings.

It simply can’t get any better than that!



How we handle sales calls at dinner time – don’t hate us

Maybe you’ve been there before. You just finished cooking dinner and gathered the family at the table which is a feat in itself.  You’ve prayed and now you’re ready to put that hot bite of paleo cauliflower casserole (that’s a joke for those who don’t know me) into your mouth and the phone rings. Honestly, I’d be relieved if a phone call interrupted a bit of paleo anything but that’s not the point.  Typically you make it a practice not to answer the phone or text during meals but it’s the HOME phone and who ever calls on that anymore unless it’s aliens or something. You figure you should answer.

As soon as you do you realize what you’ve opened yourself up to.

The dreaded sales call.

The ones that only come when you’re sitting down for dinner or when you’re laying on the ground dying and need to call 911 but the phone is out of reach. That’s when you get a sales calls.

The other end is speaking with an intense thick accent, ironically though, his name is Bob Smith. He is wanting to talk to you about a class action lawsuit for bladder mesh surgeries which he is convinced you had at one time in your life. That was the call last night.

But it could be the call about the bird houses for sale that are made by blind people or the call selling an upgrade to your phone carrier or the call……you get it because you get these calls at dinner time also.

You might feel bad for just hanging up on the person because the Lord knows that three statements of “I’m not interested” doesn’t do a bit of good to most push sales calls. So consider this option if you have children in the home.

Hand the phone to them and tell them to say, “Yes, I want to buy it.” in their most childlike voice possible.

This solves all your problems because they end up hanging up immediately and you don’t have to feel  bad.

It sounds heartless but come on sales people – give us a break at dinner time. Save your calls for when we are shopping for birdhouses and contemplating bladder meshes – I don’t even know what that is!

We are probably the only people that still have a home phone and I don’t think I’ve ever received a sales call on my cell phone so this post is probably already outdated before I even hit the publish button. Ha! Oh well, there might be one other home phone survivor out there who still gets sales calls at dinner. If so, good luck with passing the phone off to your kid.






Gift Ideas and a warning about barreling through leaf piles

I’m thankful for my man who keeps up our yard. We have a million leaves like everyone else right now. Where we live the city provides a sucker-upper truck that comes by and gets our leaves once a week. You don’t have to bag them. Just rake them to the curb and they get them. Cool huh? Of course every now and then you get a smart-hmm-hmm who drives their car through the middle of them and scatters the pile everywhere. I have to admit I’ve done it a few times until I heard the story of what happened to my brother (it runs in the family?) when he did this repeatedly to a neighbor. They put a cinder block in the pile and it trashed the muffler or something car part-ish like that under his car. Totally deserved that one!


I wanted to share a gift idea that I think is very economical for little girls who are totally into baby dolls. This little white crib set with functioning doors and shelf inside is $30.99 at Target. Sophie used some of her birthday money to purchase this and she loves it. She got bitty baby twins for her birthday and she has loved playing with them. I’m so glad she’s not out of the doll playing stage yet. I’m not sure when that will come but I’m soaking up every minute of it while it lasts because I know it will soon be passing. Of course you have to put this thing together but it’s very well made and sturdy. I think it’s a great price for what you get.


She also bought this potty chair from American Girl for the twins as she is starting them out at potty training very young. She doesn’t want to pay diaper costs I guess. Ha! Smart girl. Can you tell she just took a financial management class at church? More about that in a minute. I personally don’t think the potty chair is as good of a value as the crib. It was $24.00 and very small. It has a button you can push and it makes a noise like happy happy dance music but still….I think that’s high for that item. But we let Sophie buy it because it was her birthday money and she had been SAVING for American Girl doll accessories and stuff for her babies.


So about that financial class…….if your church is looking for an awesome 6-9 week course you will want to consider Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior Bible Study. It was an action packed, fun filled, excellent money management and biblically based study for kids 1st-6th grade. We ended in a Pizza party where the kids had to pay for their pizza and serve each other. One group dined in while the other served them and then they switched. It was a neat experience and such a great study.

IMG_0451IMG_0450 IMG_0440 IMG_0437

Oh, one last gift tip idea – Photo Albums from Shutterfly. I just finished two albums for our kids. I cover three years in one album and wait for the 50% off sale and use a coupon if I have one. This time I had a $20 off coupon. Score! I have made several albums through Shutterfly and I like the quality and ease of making the albums. It is time consuming but I find it worthwhile and the kids love getting them. About 2-3 times a year they will pull out their old albums and look through them. It’s amazing how easily we forget things. I think this is one reason  I will always be an advocate of writing and photo journaling memories.



When we lose some funny


This is my all time favorite picture of our daughter. She was 4 and this was her pretend wedding dress and she had just “fixed” her hair. She came into the bathroom to show me and I laughed because well, I thought it was hysterical. She did not think it was even a tiny bit funny. I know you find that hard to believe from the picture.

I felt bad for sucking the excitement right out of her with my laughter. I’ve always been bad to laugh at the wrong times. Like pretty much my whole life. I’ve inappropriately laughed in church and at comments that weren’t meant to be funny. To make things worse I’ve taken on a smoker’s laugh lately. Weird for someone who has only dreamed of smoking just once to see what it feels like. Suddenly I have a breathy intro to my laugh. Lord help me not to be the lady with the annoying laugh. We all know her and I do not want to be her. So I think it’s best I work on this immediately. If you’re a  in real life friend please tell me when I sound like I’m about to laugh up a lung. Thank you in advance.

I was kind of feeling like Sophie in this picture the other day and I told Randy that I feel like the funny got knocked out of me when I broke my leg. I’m not sure why but life feels a bit different for me. Like some humor slipped out with my fall. And I don’t like feeling this way. It’s not like I’m discouraged or down. I just see things differently and a bit more seriously. Maybe it has nothing to do with the fall and everything to do with getting older. Maybe it’s just flat time I grow up anyways. Ha! Oh hey, see, I found some laughter after all.

I hope ya’ll are doing great friends! I look forward to catching up on all your blogs and doing some more blogging myself.





31 Days: Day 31 – At the end of the day

Outreach involves so many aspects and I’ve only haphazardly addressed some of them. But really at the end of the day we’ve got to realize that our obedience to God is what matters. Hopefully it is our love for Jesus that moves us to want to obey him. If our obedience to God comes from any other source: guilt, fear of man, attempt to look good, etc. then it’s in vain and worthless. But when we obey God in love He will show us how to respond to people. He will show us how to love people and serve them. It is not up to us to produce results – only God can do that. We can’t change hearts and move people into complete freedom. Only God can do that but He uses us and at the end of the day when we obey Him we can trust He’s working it all out. We can relax and know that God loves people and His redemptive plan is in effect. It’s only by his grace that we get to be involved in reaching out to others. So friends, let’s rest in the fact that God is doing an amazing work inside of his people and he wants to do it in those around us too. Let’s be willing to be a tool in the hand of God for outreach purposes.

31 Days: Day 30 – Discernment in Outreach

Outreach will indeed call for the need to be wise and discerning. Typically I can discern a true need from the “I’m dressed up to look homeless and asking for money but really I’m just fine” kind of a person. I’ve seen enough of both to recognize the difference. Not every time but generally speaking.

Last night Sophie and I waited in the van while Randy ran into the store to grab something. While we waited a man came to the window and asked if I could “help a homeless man out” (his words).  I’m not sure what got into me – possibly it was being on day 29 of 31 days of writing on outreach or having just meditated on Isa. 58 the day before (all about helping the needy) or what – but I totally fell for this man’s plea. It went like this:

  1. Me: Well, what exactly do you need. Are you hungry?
  2. Man: Yes Ma’am that would be good.
  3. Me: How about Mc Donald’s down the way?
  4. Man: Well I really would rather have a loaf of bread, bologna and some cheese.
  5. Me: Okay, we can get all that inside this store right here. My HUSBAND is on his way out right now.
  6. Man: I really like a certain kind of bologna and they don’t sell it in there. They only sell it at the gas station at __________ (on the other side of the tracks in a bad area of town).
  7. Me: Ummm, well I really think the meat inside this store will be just fine.
  8. Man: I can’t go in there. They’ll think I’m soliciting and I’ll get in trouble. Can you just bring it out to me over there on those steps (in a dark alley).
  9. Me:  (still not clueing in to what was going on) Okay, sure, we can do that.
  10. **Randy comes back to the van.
  11. Me: We need to get that man over there some food. The one in that dark alley.
  12. Randy: What? Why? No, we don’t.
  13. Me: Yes, we really do. He needs it. (I tell him everything the man said)
  14. Randy: I can’t believe you’re falling for this. (Man walks over to van window)
  15. Me: Fine, you tell him we can’t get him any food.
  16. Man: Sir, can you take me to ________ to get a certain kind of bologna?
  17. Randy: No, but what about McDonalds next door?
  18. Man: Well……..ummm…..can you just get it and bring it to me.
  19. Randy: No I don’t think so.

Randy helped me see this dude really was fine. He was preying on suspecting people like ME. I’m usually the last to fall for something like that. Now that I look back on the whole thing I realize how bad the whole thing was. He couldn’t be seen by either store because he’d been there before and had been asked to leave. He wanted a ride to a certain place, in a bad section of town, for a certain kind of food that couldn’t be purchased at any of the normal grocery stores in town. HELLO!!! Wake up Melody.

I hugged and thanked Randy when we got home for helping me see and for protecting us. We’d probably all be dead right now….. with a bag of bologna next to us! Okay, not really.

So yeah, we must be discerning in our responses to people when they ask for food, clothing and shelter. God tells us to provide these things for the needy and the poor but we must rely on His Spirit to help us know who the needy and poor are. Be wise! I’m preaching to the choir.

31 Days: Day 29 – The lady behind the counter

People are hurting all around us. Going through things we have no clue about. When God gives us a glimpse into hurting souls count it a privilege and ask for His guidance in showing His love even to a stranger. It might seem weird, awkward and uncomfortable but it’s worth it. Today I met a lady who was bawling and could hardly get herself together to check me out. I asked her if she was okay and she said she was just having a hard day. Not wanting to be nosey or weird by asking her what was wrong but at the same time feeling so heavy hearted for her I decided to tell her I would pray for her. She thanked me and I decided to shop some more and pray for God to help this woman with whatever she was upset about. About 10 minutes later I went back to the checkout line and she was bent down working on a lower shelf crying her eyes out still. I said, “I want to pray specifically for you if that’s okay. How can I pray for you today?” She said, “This job is so hard. I can’t do it.” I asked if she was new and she said she was. I looked her in the eyes and said, “Have you heard of the verse Phil. 4:13 that says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength? Looking down she shook her head yes. I said, “Look at me (pulled a bossy Mama move on this young girl) You CAN do this job with God’s strength. You’re right that YOU can’t do it on your own. But you CAN do it with Christ’s strength. You say this verse to yourself all day today and you ask God for his strength and He will give it to you.” It was a 45 second conversation that I believe was prompted from the Holy Spirit. I left and I will probably never know how God worked in this girls life today but I know He is. I texted my Mom’s In Prayer group and said I need you girls to pray for ___________ to know that she can do all things through Christ today. They’re all praying for her. God is interceding for her and I am reminded once again that we serve a God who cares about the details of our life.

31 Days: Day 28 – How outreach can provide the breakthrough we all need

I will never forget the night God woke me up to show me Isaiah 58. I still have written in the margin of my Bible, “I was awoken in the night for this.” Is ‘awoken’ even a word? It was on May 5th, 2006. Not sure the significance of the day I just know that God wanted me to see how serious He is about helping the poor and needy.

Isa. 58 contrasts man’s version of fasting with God’s version of fasting. Man is all like, “God, why haven’t you noticed and seen our fasting? We humbled ourselves and you’ve not noticed.” (vs. 3) And God is like, “You do as you please on your day of fasting and it all ends in quarreling and fighting. You can’t fast like that and expect to be heard. Fasting is not just a one day event.” (vs.4)

God explains his version of fasting (vs.6-7) 

  1. Loose the chains of injustice
  2. Set the oppressed free
  3. Share your food with the hungry
  4. Provide the poor wanderer with shelter
  5. Clothe the naked
  6. Don’t turn away from your own flesh and blood

I feel like God’s heart is bent towards the weak, vulnerable and marginalized. My theology tells me he loves us all the same. It also tells me we are all weak and in the same need of God. But somehow I can’t get away from seeing/feeling that there is a very tender place in the heart of God for those who are poor, needy, abused and vulnerable on this earth.

God turned the entire fasting system upside down by laying out his version of fasting which had nothing to do with prayer, food, memorizing or quoting scripture which is what we tend to think of with fasting. Of course there’s a place for that. But it’s extremely interesting that when God uses the term fasting he uses terms like feeding, clothing, sheltering, freeing.

God explains what happens when we participate in his version of fasting (vs. 8-11)

  1. Your light will break forth like the dawn
  2. Your healing will quickly appear
  3. Your righteousness will go before you
  4. The glory of the Lord is your rear guard
  5. You will call and the Lord will answer
  6. He will be there when you call for help
  7. Your light will rise in the darkness
  8. Your night becomes like the noonday

Wow, that’s some pretty powerful rewards for caring for the poor. For providing shelter for the wandering. For freeing those entrapped. For sharing your food. For clothing people. For remaining faithful to your family.

Are you needing a break through in your life? Do you need healing to appear quickly? Do you need to hear from the Lord? Are you longing for light to break up the darkness?

Then consider putting into practice true fasting – the version God lays out in Isaiah 58. It’s well worth the sacrifice. And let’s be honest – it will be a sacrifice. Suddenly giving up rich foods for a few days seems more palatable. But God never calls us to something he won’t equip us for.

Lord, show us how to take care of each other. Strengthen us to do your will. To fast the way you want us to. To love the way you love. We stand in need of you daily.