Hard Beautiful!

Please take a moment before you read this post and read this prayer of Isaiah 61, entitled
"Beautiful Ashes" ...pray it with yourself in mind!


He hugs like my Papa! It is what I think as Mr. Ray wraps his strong arms, thinned by treatment, around my waist. “You make this bearable,” he whispers as his sure frame trembles with emotion. I am emptied and filled all in one moment. As we squeeze tighter, letting tears of gratitude and sorrow wash us clean, I am fully aware of this journey. These moments stop the frenetic and settle anxiety. There are stirrings of mystery that God leads us to. His hand is ever in the hard beautiful life we all face.

The season change from summer into autumn always stills the breath in my lungs. The crisp air ignites a fire in my weary bones. The changing dancing leaves are utter splendor to behold. In this season there is a pulling of the veil. The magic of this journey is always peeking around corners.

The last weeks a fog has rolled in. My heart, my soul, have been incased with it. Blind; I go about stumbling into things that bring no joy. They only numb the hurting ache of lost site.

Yet, the Son has begun His work! The fog is burning away. The renewed site staggers. The sun bleeds - red, orange, & purple - as it sinks into the horizon. I am in my field of lavender. A place He often meets me. The mountain range looms in the distance; strong sentinels of majestic dignity. The sound of the river unseen is soothing. The wind rustles the thin stems of lavender, causing their clean fragrance to fill my nose. To the left is a road well-traveled, warn from trampled hooves, wheels, and human feet. To the right is a thin slice of earth, barely resembling a road. It cuts jagged through bramble and woods. The stones look loose and ominous. I am certain this is the path to choose. I am certain it will lead to the mountain I must climb.

Life can be downright hard. It hurts. I know this not merely from my own experiences. I witness suffering each and every day in my work. Yet, there is a great unfurling of beauty in these people. It is a treasure found in the hard hurt of life.

A friend inquired how my life was going.

I never seem to answer that question to my satisfaction. All the complexities and nuances of this journey surmised into a few simply formed sentences seem inadequate. I thought before I answered.

Two simple words began to form: “hard beautiful”!

Hope blisters beautiful, scorching through the rough hide of apathy; ashes float as chaff on the wind. The mundane can dredge the well of hope bone dry. I have seen this world beat hope weary. Yet, God knew we fumbling humans would need unnumbered restarts; places where the road of desperation and promise collide. They are found in each new morning, week, season, & year. A single day of celebrated birth can cause one to reflect and renew.

My 34 years are exactly as God had planned them. This crazy, beautiful, reckless, hope-filled, sorrowful, powerful, amazing, transcendent journey can only be brought about by a loving and unsafe God.

I have been mourning. It is not depression. I know the pulling tug of this emotion. It is a sorrow dredged deep of life not matching dreams. A letting go of things that no longer fit in the scope of my growth. I pray I will not look upon the “sands of Egypt” when things become more pain & hurt. My deep desire is to look forward and expand my view to God’s view. This means I must take the time to mourn the things I need to let go of. It is a wonderfully painful thing.

These past weeks my little apartment, my safe space, had been inundated by a plague of black flies (close to 200 in count from beginning to end). It was overwhelming and sickening. I lost my appetite. The landlord was barely concerned. I felt awash with the pestilence.

I had noticed a fly here and there during the weeks prior. I figured I was just letting them in due to it being summer. As the waves increased to 20 to 30 at a time, I was soon mired in these pesky critters.

My thoughts went to how my sin is often like these flies. I begin to see signs of the decay in my life, but ignore it as a passing season or part of the journey. As the decay grows it opens wide and swallows. There is a feeling of disillusionment that takes over: how did I get here? Yet, as with the flies, if I had taken notice of the sin and taken care of it before it grew I may not have been lost in the sway of such pestilence.

I immediately anointed my little apartment with oil! I had done this immediately after moving in my home. I was amazed at how it had slipped my mind to do so in this apartment. Claiming such an intimate space for the Lord and barring the devil passage is such a vital thing in my mind. It is the difference between a home becoming a battle ground versus a sanctuary.

And, so it is with my life. I am learning to choose sanctuaries over battlegrounds. I can no longer abide in toxic and unhealthy relationships. I choose those that want to be in my life.

I have a friend that prays for me. She sends me prayers via text. She has texted me and said that the Holy Spirit stilled her as she was pouring coffee and petitioned her to pray for me. She has had a vision of “my field”.  She loves me in the best ways.  

I had a friend speak truth over me. She said, “Melissa, even when you are having a hard painful day you are always nice and kind. You speak kindness and care over people’s hearts. If God chooses to provide you with a husband, his love language will be affirmation because you are gifted to give him that.”

I am stilled, humbled, and affirmed in this. I know my calling is to love people in truth and in light of God’s love. You aren’t going to hear harsh words from me. I am not going to whittle you down or debase. My heart’s desire is for you to know your worth in God. My number one goal is for you to see that His journey is the best for you. He created us to enjoy us not to judge us. You can always start again.

One of the best friends I have called me a few Saturdays ago. She simply said, “I wanted to call ‘My Melissa’!

You cannot even begin to know what that does for my soul. How it transforms me! These friends provided small acts of lavished love from our beautiful Savior.

I am choosing the hard beautiful life! I am choosing those beautiful creations of God that edify and settle the crazy in my life.

Thank you Jesus for tempering sorrow with joy - another strange and wondrous mystery you provide!

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