Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's JUST a Foreclosure

I have an announcement: Our townhouse in Colorado will be officially foreclosed and auctioned next Wednesday.
I am thankful for: It's JUST a foreclosure.
Explanation: (No, take too long, will sum up) At church Sunday, the sermon's title was "Never Waste a Problem". Acts 27 and 28 were about Paul and a bunch of Non-Christians who were on a ship that was hit by a hurricane and as he had told them God had said, all survived against all odds. Then, when they landed on the island, all accepted Jesus. Then, he was bitten by a deadly viper. He survived. He then healed a bunch of people who were deathly ill. The lesson: Problems are opportunities for miracles. We need not be afraid of our problems because while we know the possible outcomes and we know the statistical probabilities, God's actions are not predictable. But His promises are.
Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Matthew 6:33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
See, for any normal person, a hurricane, deadly viper, or fatal illness are serious concerns. But, for someone who is wholly the Lord's to do with what He will, He has good things in store, that we can trust. He has weird ways to get to those good things sometimes but they are promised. So, as our pastor said, those events became JUST a hurricane, JUST a viper, and JUST a fatal illness.
I KNOW that for the last two years, since Jacob and I decided to come to Louisiana, we have thought, prayed, consulted, researched, and reconsidered ALL of our decisions wanting to do not what would serve us the best, but what would be the right thing to do, God's plan for us. And there was NO way, it was impossible, for us to save this house. To us, foreclosing always has a bad connotation. I can't pinpoint where I got the impression that people who foreclose were bad people, I just had this unexplainable misunderstanding that someone who forecloses must have gotten themselves into an unwise loan, or that they spent their money irresponsibly, or didn't try hard enough and just gave up on their contract. Maybe some people are like that but not all. We really wanted to try to avoid it. We saw a bankruptcy lawyer because I don't hear as many negative associations with bankruptcy. He said it could be over and done with within the month. Our car that was broken and we couldn't afford to fix, our house that we couldn't save for anything, our credit card debt, all of it would be washed away. But we couldn't do it. We couldn't walk away from debts that we knew we'd be able to pay off. And the lawyer seemed to say it was all or nothing.
We sold the car and paid off the difference, we're paying off the credit cards. The house just has to go, there's nothing we can do for it. And I have to let go of the guilt because it's irrational guilt. Crap happens, unpredictable crap. I had been bound by guilt to anxiety and insecurity and fear and doubt. And I am thankful that now, I am free of such bondage. We could not have prevented the house problem.
I don't know what God's plan behind it all is. We may get slapped with penalties or fees or something but I am His and His plan is perfect and I don't need to be afraid or guilty. I need to rest in Him. I need to wait for answers. I need to open myself and clean out the sin that clouds the light. And He will shed that light and do marvelous wonders. I love God and am seeking first His kingdom and righteousness. And He is completing a work in me.
I am thankful that it's JUST a foreclosure, NOT the end of our lives, our purpose, our journey, our financial destiny, or our legacy. In fact, it IS a chapter ending and a new one beginning in this book God is writing, and I look forward to seeing why this chapter was included.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Blessed Time With Family

I have SO many new blessings to share!!! I've been collecting them over the last week without time to write them up.
Last Thursday, Sept 16, we impatiently awaited the arrival of Grandpa Gray, Aunt Chela, and Cousin Ana. They flew into New Orleans, got the rental car, and drove to my house. The way I felt while I waited was this: I don't know what all is going to take place over the next week, if we'll be busy, lazy, emotional, restless, tired, or what but I know that seeing my loved ones for the second short time in 18 months was great in itself; any fun or interesting memories that came of it was icing on the cake. Friday morning, we got the kids off to school and thought maybe we'd go to the Rice Mill or Tabasco Factory or have lunch at Ruby Tuesday, we were going to get ready and see what we felt like. 1:30 rolled around and we hadn't gotten ready for anything, we had visited at the kitchen table the whole time AND my family wasn't yet packed for our 3 day trip that was to start in one hour. Jac and I got packing and showered and we rolled out to get Thing 1 and Thing 2 (our nicknames for Logan and Kayla respectively). From there, we began our long journey to Long Island, MS. We got to the beachfront hotel around 11 and when straight to bed. 6:30 the next morning, the kids jumped out of bed ready for the complimentary breakfast. We were supposed to meet in the lobby at 9:30 so I optimistically decided to take advantage of the three hours my children granted me to get them ready. After breakfast, the kids went swimming. 7:30 AM with the beach's sunrise right behind the pool made a very relaxing time for me while the kids loved perfect swimming weather and temps. 9:30, we all met up and piled into the van to go to the wedding.
Aunt Bebe and Uncle Sid we renewing their vows for the 50th anniversary. Aunt Bebe is my great great aunt, my dad's grandma's sister. They are some of the best people! I have only gotten to know them since I moved to LA. We've gone over and visited with them a few times when my dad comes to visit us. They have four children who have children who have children. Aunt Bebe has six out of nine brothers and sisters who are still living. They have kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. ALL these people attended this precious ceremony. It was wonderful, beautiful, informative, entertaining.
From there, we dropped Jac and the kids off for a nap at the hotel and headed to my great great uncle's daughter's house. She had a video of my grandma and great grandma sitting down and going through genealogy together. I am not crazy about the genealogy but seeing their faces, listening to their voices, and watching them inevitably argue was a gift. Then, they took us outside to an underground door. I was so curious. There was a hill with a pathway through the side that led to a door. They called it the shelter. Opened the door. Stuck my head in. Lost my breath. This "shelter" had two bedrooms, a living room, and a bathroom. It had air conditioning, canned foods, keepsakes, etc. I've actually lived in a house smaller than this shelter and you know what? My distant cousin and her husband had built it all by themselves! Can you believe? It was so cool!
Then, we went back to get Jac and the kids and went to dinner at a seafood restaurant on the beach. YUM. I had promised the kids I'd take them to play on the beach while we were there but then, I had heard it still wasn't very sanitary/safe to play in so I decided to take them after dinner. Since it was dark, they didn't want to play in the water, it looked scary, and the sand was nice and cool, not burning the feet like usual. They had a BLAST! They made sand angels, rolling all around in their wedding clothes! Well, time for bed, headed back to the hotel to tuck the angels in before my big ladies' night. As I loaded them up in their carseats, I found that there was no way I was going to be able to throw them in bed and take off without bathing them, they were COVERED in sand. Change of plans- bathtime, THEN bedtime. Check, check check. Party time!
My cousin Ave', my cousin Ana (Ari, Ariana), and my aunt Chela went to the casinos in Biloxi. We gambled, danced, walked to the next casino, gambled, danced, went to catch a cab to the next one and a limo pulled up and told us he'd drive us for cab rates!!!! Aunt Chela had never been in a limo before. UNbelievable. We rode the limo to the next casino, it was lame so we called the limo back and rode back up again. It was so fun! I won $80 at the blackjack table. Jac was so proud, he taught me well. The club closed so we gambled a little and decided to go to breakfast, It was 4:00 AM!! After gambling, paying for 2 breakfasts, and paying for a limo trip, I returned to the hotel with $5 less than when I left. That was my cheapest night out ever!
9:30 that morning, I get a phone call that wakes the kids up. I counted myself lucky to have gotten four and a half hours of sleep but that didn't make the exhaustion go away. Soon enough, it was checkout time. Ana had to take Grandpa and Aunt Chela to a place the kids couldn't go so we went to see a movie and I got to catch up on my sleep. Haha. I've never slept in a theater but I was tired, it felt wonderful. When they were done, they picked us up and we headed back to Louisiana.
Over the next four days, Grandpa got sick, I had to work two shifts, and the kids had to go to school so we didn't do anything too extravagant but that was exactly what we needed. It allowed for lots of conversation- serious, funny, getting-to-know-each-other, everything. Grandpa read to the kids which I found absolutely precious. They all met most of my favorite people here. I took them to Alligator Cove to try alligator for the first time. They like it okay but they loved the restaurant and the manager, Mr. Menard (Jac's old partner's dad) sent an entire pan of my favorite dessert home with me even though it had been taken off the menu. How incredible is that?! That's the perfect example of just how people are here. SO nice.
This morning, when they left, I cried. I allowed that for myself. I just cried, called my mom, and cried some more. And when I was done with that, I got to cleaning. We hadn't cleaned ANYTHING except uniform shirts for the kids to wear to school and the dished we needed to eat off of. All the clothes were all over the house, dirty mixed with clean. Trash, toys, books, sleeping bags, it was everywhere. And it was totally worth it.

Now, for the thankful part. LOL
The first thing that comes to mind in my grandpa. Originally, he wasn't coming on this trip until a week before it happened. I'm thankful I had the space and the mattresses to accommodate him comfortably. I had never had that before Louisiana. I'm glad he came. The whole time growing up, while everyone was talking and playing games, he was quiet. I never really got to know him because he didn't throw his two cents in unless it was asked for, and I get the sense that even then, he didn't say anything that would cause conflict. But on this trip, he talked like I've never heard before. I was getting to know someone I never knew was there. He talked about his childhood, young adulthood, opinions about the world we live in, his likes and dislikes. Oh how wonderful it was to get to know such a wonderful man! And he was such a great grandpa! When he was sick and he laid in bed, Logan got up next to him and laid down and talked with him about I don't know what, boy stuff I guess. It was so sweet.
As I said, I'm thankful I had the space and mattresses to accommodate guests! It means so much to me that when people love me enough to come all this way to see me, I can make them comfortable.
I am so thankful that I have gotten to be a part of the Breland family. I've always known that we had family in MS but without living close enough, how was I to ever get to know them? It had been so valuable to me! Aunt Mary (married in through my Uncle Gene) told me this weekend that she learned very early on to say "whatever" because it wasn't going to go her way anyway, she might as well accept it and be happy and say "whatever". She said Brelands are very dominating, that's just the way they are. Well, I'm glad someone confirmed it for me: I am a Breland, Garcia, and Wood, you'd be hard pressed to find someone with a stronger urge to dominate. It's nice to know it's not just me. And I can't say enough about Aunt Bebe. When I look at her, she makes me feel like I'm home. Her face, her eyes, her gentility, sense of humor, gracefulness, she's heavenly.
I'm thankful that while all this time, I've wanted to share my Louisiana experience with my loved ones in person because I could never share it with just words, Aunt Chela and Ana actually came. And I think they saw what I meant. This place has changed me in so many ways permanently. I wanted them to see what I see so they'd know where I came from. And they were happy to share it with me and it made me feel so loved.
I'm thankful that Jac came to MS with us. Sharing the ceremony with him meant a lot to me, I look forward to that being us. They had tables full of collages of pictures of Bebe and Sid's 50 years. I can't wait for have 50 years worth of pictures and memories with my Jacob. When you hang out with Bebe and Sid, you can tell they are REAL. They are not at all imitation marriage. They have had struggles, disagreements, annoyances, sicknesses, and a TON OF FUN. I love it.
I'm also thankful that he intentionally blessed me by staying with the kids for naptime and for my girls' night. He knew how much it would mean to me if I could get as much time with the Brelands as possible and that I wanted to go out with my cousin Ave' really bad since I never see her. I really wanted an opportunity to include her in our family since she's long distance and let her know we love her and like her and want her in our lives no matter how much the distance separates us. I think she got the message, and it's because Jac stayed with the kiddos. Thank you babe!
I have to say THANK YOU to Amanda who watched the dogs for us. We thought we had a dogsitter lined up but then it fell through. I called her Friday morning and she agreed. How awesome is that?! Without her, the dogs would've been a disaster or we wouldn't have been able to go.
Thank you to Ruby Tuesday for being such an accommodating employer so that I can do all this great stuff all the time without worrying about work.
That's all that's on my mind for now but I feel like I'm forgetting something or someone so I'll be sure to add on as it comes up.
Thank you God for it ALL!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Can I Get Some Coffee?

I woke up this morning to four kids (my niece and nephew spent the night) ready for breakfast. I walked into the kitchen drowsily and instantly eyed the coffee pot and tunnel vision began. All I wanted was coffee, it was all I could think about. "Kids first," I told myself. What did they want? Oatmeal AND pancakes. I didn't even realize until I started writing the blog the problem with that picture because all I was thinking about was coffee, so tired, must get coffee. So, pour the oatmeal, microwave, get the pancake mix, get the oatmeal, butter, peaches, sugar, feed 'em! Mix the pancake mix, turn on burner. Get the oatmeal, microwave. Pour the batter. Get the oatmeal, butter, cinnamon and sugar, serve it! The pancake's burning! Flip it. Oh well, I'm gonna get my coffee. Serve the pancake, just a few more to go. So, one kid finishes while the last just got to eating and I start on the dishes. The dishes are done, the kids are gone. It's finally my turn but... I don't need my coffee anymore.
Thankful for my kids and their guests this morning. It's a whole lot of love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Boys, Caffeine, and Discombobulated Incoherent Exhaustion

Tonight, having had coffee with dinner, I can't sleep so what to do but surf the net, right? (I mean besides all the laundry, dishes, and cleaning; who wants to do that?!) So I finished Facebooking and clothes shopping, so onto Youtube for some good old music videos... which then brought me to reminiscing old relationships that the songs reminded me of. (I know; I should've gone to bed, LOL)
First, I think it's CRAZY that I'm saying old relationships when I've been with Jacob since I was 15. THAT makes me laugh, like ROFL. Yeah, I've been with Jacob now for ALMOST 1/2 my life! Three more years, and he'll win the majority. But, there was some history before him.
I loved, not the normal kind of "love" people think of when they hear a 10yr old, 11yr old, or 14yr old talk about love, not 'oh he is SO cute, I love him' or 'he really likes me so I love him' or whatever it is normal young girls are thinking when they think of love. I was thinking about mutual care and consideration of one another, sacrificing for each other, uplifting each other, being good company, and long term commitment. (Yeah, I've ALWAYS been over-serious.) SO, I had these relationships where I totally genuinely cared about these guys, so much so that I still pray for them and hope they're well all the time. These songs tonight made me think of them and how they enriched my life so much, what I learned from them and our relationship... And then, I came to songs that made me think of Jac.
Aww, Jac. How I LOVE him!!! The specific song I came across was Richard Marx "Now and Forever". This is what I'm thankful for tonight: that we've come to this place where... let's see how to describe it... I believe Now and Forever. I have put him through hell and he refused to leave me, it was just not an option. He has put me through hell and I found out he was worth it! We started off young, nowhere close to being finished products, in fact we were barely begun, let alone finished. And we were both soon very disappointed with the contract we had signed. We hadn't known beforehand how the other would react to the refining processes of marriage or growing up. And we soon found out it wasn't pretty. Now, 11 days short of 8 years of marriage, I'm thankful to say that no matter what the refining processes bring, we are hooked. We don't look at each other anymore as if we're two separate people going through separate experiences. We are one, all of his is mine and all of mine is his so when I bring extra struggle, he brings extra strength and when he brings extra confusion, I bring extra discernment. And we HELP each other with the refining processes and depend on one another for survival of such as well.
Maybe this isn't as big of a deal to others as it is to me, that thought just dawned on me and I should explain my excitement to those of you who are thinking "DUH". I always thought of divorce as an option. Even when I was taught and mentored that it wasn't, I thought 'except if this or that happens, then it would be acceptable and the logical thing to do, possibly the only thing to do'. The only reason we're married today is that Jacob would not let a divorce happen. I guess HE always knew Now and Forever he was gonna be my man even if I didn't want him to. I'm so thankful that he was always my man and was determined to keep it that way forever when I was so whimsical. I'm glad I didn't get my way so that we could make it to this point where we've learned how to cling to each other as we go through life instead of becoming distant, pointing the finger, turning against each other, and disintegrating.
So I am thankful that I KNOW Now and Forever, he will be my man and I will be his woman come rich, poor, sickness, health, rage, utter delight, sexy, overweight and wrinkled.

Richard Marx "Now and Forever"
Whenever I'm weary from the battles that rage
in my head
You make sense of madness when my sanity
hangs by a thread
I lose my way but still you seam to understand
Now and forever
I will be your man

Sometimes I just hold you
Too caught up in me to see

I'm holding a fortune that heaven has given
to me
I'll try to show you each and every way I can
Now and forever
I will be you man

Now I can rest my worries and always be sure
That I won't be alone anymore
If I'd only known you were there all the @me
All this time

Until the day the ocean doesn't touch the
Now and forever
I will be your man
Now and forever
I will be your man

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dear God, This is Melissa

Well, whatever my physical ailment was/is, I don't have to deal with it right now. And, a little perspective: We're praying for a guy in FC, CO who has meningitis and has already gotten over milestones of progress with huge miraculous healing that is not medically explainable. SO, as I was praying "You are the Great Physician and I know You have a plan for this situation to be glorious and I thank You that the family has such great faith and they are surrounded by so many prayer warriors and faithful friends", I had to slap myself in the face a little. A week ago, it was me I should've praying the EXACT prayer for but I wasn't. I was anxious and anticipating and imagining all possible outcomes and emotional. --Lord, I sing "You have my heart" and then when the littlest thing happens, I grab it and hold it and fear for it breaking if I let go. I guess I'm not ready to be broken, I don't want to struggle or go through any hardship. I want to live through the day having NO problems and be happy. But Lord, that's not how we grow and that's EXACTLY how fellow believers, human beings, broken hearts, and lost souls go unattended to. When people who have so much to give keep it to themselves, go about their day in bliss, not thinking of anyone else, and not giving back to You by giving to others. I bow my head in defeat, breathe out my restraint, and outstretch my arms with my heart enveloped in my hands and open them up for you to have complete access and please, take it. I don't want to hold on to it. I know I can't do it justice like you can. I know in my head. Please help me know in my heart. Please take my heart and form it. Take my will, conform it. Take my mind. transform it. To Yours. Please God.-- And these are the times that grace was invented for; hindsight. When we look back and realize we were a dumbass. He is able to take it and use it, somehow, if for no other reason than to point out how much we need Him. Thank You for grace, for being the Great Physician, and for loving us enough.
And so now, paramedics are being sent to the oil spill because there are so many people trying to fix the problem and they are getting sick and I guess it has to be treated with HazMat protocols so they're needing more and more emergency services at hand. I don't know all the details yet until mine gets there and reports. I need to call on Him once more, this time BEFORE I am looking back regretting. I tend to get emotional, think about all possible outcomes, and feel sorry for myself. But I call on Him now to help me not do that. I want to be prayerful, faithful, excited about His will and purpose. To my human eye, this has danger and disaster written all over it. I am thankful that God lives and that He loves me. I don't have to give in to this feeling of desperation. --God, please help me have faith. Please step in and show me You in this. Please grab my attention in a real life sort of way. And PLEASE use me and the abundant blessings you've given me. And when I get tired and weighed down by emotions and thoughts, please renew my energy with supernatural perseverance. When I get so sad, please replace that with eternal brand joy and optimism. I know I can't do it on my own, no matter how much I focus, I can try my absolute most and all I'm going to get is really good human efforts. These will not suffice, no good. Human efforts don't tear down heart walls or heal heart wounds or sustain life. It's YOU. So, I lay it down. If I try real hard, You won't have room to move through me. So I lay it down. I close my eyes, reach out my hand, and ask that you lead. Move me. Speak through me. Love through me. Show me. Please.--
Thank You

Friday, June 4, 2010

The J-O-B, Grandmas, and Hurricanes

As far as I know, I'm not bar-tending anymore (with the exception of "Oh crap, the bartender can't work today! Melissa, can you do it?). I am so thankful for that! I posted on Facebook that I was tired of it for this reason and that and two days later, after my boss had read it, she took me off the bar schedule. My workplace is WONDERFUL for listening and caring for its employees that way. There's NO funny business. It's all straight forward and they take care of us the best they can hoping we'll return the gesture. I am thankful for that.
I'm going to AZ for my grandma's next surgery. I'm so thankful for that! Not that I feel indebted to her, but I'd LIKE to give her EVERYTHING I possibly can for how she gave SO much to us as kids and ever since. I think my grandma is the best person I know. She doesn't put people down even when you can tell how she feels toward that person. She gives and offers everything she can without enabling. She loves no matter what. It's never about her. She has been an abundant source of life for me in so many ways. I will not not be by her side through rough times. I love her so much.
We have a hurricane evacuation plan thanks to our dear friends who married us. They mentored us in high school, individually and as a couple. They prayed for us and handed us money when we moved to CO. They did our ceremony. They've continued to pray for, encourage, support, and love us through and through. Now, if a hurricane comes, they're going to take the kids and me in while we leave Jac in LA, in the hurricane, to save people. I feel so blessed to have these surrogate parents!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Good Morning

This morning, my kids came in my room and asked the predictable "Mom, can I play the computer?" And I said "NO! I'm getting up, we're going to have breakfast." I had to keep their attention before they drifted into bored frustration so I got up, grabbed the gluten-free muffin mix, preheated the oven, and got to work. As soon as they started thinking of other things to do like making crafts, I shut 'em down and asked them to help clean in preparation for breakfast and they did. Then, the orange cranberry muffins came out of the oven and Kayla went to grab hers but Logan asked first. I shut 'em down again and told them they always rush to eat as soon as it's ready so by the time I'm ready to sit down with them, they're done. I told them, "Sit down and wait." I got "Uggh," but they did it. I got them milk in their favorite coffee cups, my coffee, put the muffins on the table, 3 small plates, and sat down. THEN, we started eating. It was SOOOO nice!! We talked and they told me about how cool their dad was last night while I was at work and how he had filled their love tanks. We worked at getting the dogs to stop circling the table like vultures and lay down. The kids yelled and got angry in an effort to get them to lay down (they've learned this from their example I-:) I sternly but quietly told them, "Go lay down, Go away." And they did, showing the children we don't have to be loud and angry and yell. [:o) They both said "Thanks for the muffins mom!" "Thanks for the breakfast mom!" I almost cried! This morning filled my love tank! I just needed to share how thankful I am for such sweet times with my kids.