February 27, 2012

The One with the Cat Chaos

If you saw my Facebook page last week you may have noticed we adopted a cat. After the heartbreaking process of leaving our first kitties--Butterscotch and Maisy--back in Michigan because our landlord wouldn't allow pets, we were starting to feel lonely. We really, really loved those stupid cats--despite their vomit and poo and meowing and climbing all over our heads in the morning. 

the hopeful beginning
We missed having a cat around--laying on our bed, enjoying a good tummy rub, "talking" with us occasionally. A cat brings us company, something to take care of, to enjoy playing with. So after 6 months of renting, we decided to ask permission to have a cat in the house. Shockingly...he said yes. 

So we purchased all the supplies--cage, food, litter, litter box, scooper. And we looked around in the local shelters for a fixed, declawed cat who need a home. We found one! But she was gone by the time we were able to adopt her. We found a second one! But he was adopted that morning. We found a third! And we went to pick him up. 

His name was Sammy. He was dropped off at the shelter a few months ago and was very very shy, but generally friendly. Kevin snuggled with him for a while and we decided to take him home with us.

Sammy ran and hid from us the instant he arrived in his new home. We were used to timid cats--Butterscotch didn't come out from under the couch for 2 whole weeks. We gave Sammy his space, petting him a few times a day, but never forcing anything. He had thoroughly enjoyed our petting encounters, but would just as quickly run away from us at our next visit. Weird. 

the saga continues
On the second day home, I noticed the crusties around his eye had started leaking. He had a little puddle of fluid under his face. It was clear, so we weren't too concerned; maybe it was just a cold. (He sounded congested too.) 

I was gone for the weekend and when I returned his eyes had made an extreme turn for the worse. The fluid was practically streaming down his face, his eyes were nearly swollen shut, the mucous was yellow-ish, his nose was running. GREAT. Now we had to take our cat to the vet--not something we like to do. (We like low maintenance, low cost pets.)

We made a vet appointment, but soon realized we had been deceived by the shelter--they had told us the vaccine/healthcare paperwork would be attached to our documents, but they weren't. They had acted like Sammy had been up to date on every medication, treatment, and exam. But he wasn't. There was no proof for anything. 

As much as it pained us, we decided we needed to try to return him to the shelter. I spent much of the morning in tears, sobbing really--thinking about the poor cat being sick and in pain, thinking about how we had been lied to and ended up with the wrong cat (for us), thinking about the awfulness of sending that cat back to a shelter of 75 cats. It was all heartbreaking to me. 

the tramatic end
At 3pm it was time to load the cat up for the trip. He refused to be put in the cage. He must have remembered how the experience ended up for him last time. I waited for Kevin to get home. Kevin forced the cat into the cage and the subsequent events were very, very disconcerting. The cat thrashed around in the cage and when I leaned down to try to soothe him, he barred his teeth in the most frightening way, and hissed like I've never heard a cat hiss. I lost it. I fell into a mess of tears--full of fear, worry, sadness, just plain stupid emotions. 

Kevin quickly decided I needed to stay home from this trip. I was thankful. My knight in shining armor. He called me on the ride home and said things went smoothly. They had accepted him back and promised a refund. Sammy seemed comfortable and glad to be "home." The workers were taking him to his private room where he could get treatment and feel better soon. 

And now I feel better. We just have to wait for the right cat. Right? 

February 25, 2012

The One with the Wolf Lodge

I am one lucky girl. This weekend I am spending time with Sheryl & the kids on their family vacation. With all of the trials facing their family, Randy needed to stay home and take care of business. That left Sheryl to take the kids on a long drive to an indoor water park/hotel to meet up with her sister and brother and their families. And guess what?! She invited me along! How great is that.

I was completely honored to be asked to join in on the family adventures and have been having a great time. I love having the kids run up and ask me to play with them or go with them on water slides. And it's been great talking with the "grown ups"--it feels like I've known everyone for quite some time. I feel like I fit in (I hope I do. :D)

Here are some fun shots from the last 24 hours at Great Wolf Lodge.

Ashlyn in action. :)

hung out with these lovely girls this morning. 

girl time! this brought back many good memories. 

cute kids

gingerbread house building (Aunt Sue is super fun!) 

February 22, 2012

The One with Pastors to the Pastors

Exactly a week ago, we received a phone call--the kind you dread. Pastor Dale, from our former church in Michigan, had just been informed he needed quadruple bypass surgery immediately. This perfectly healthy man had gone in for a routine exam and the doctors wouldn't let him leave the hospital. He was staying put until his Friday a.m. surgery. 

We couldn't believe what we were hearing. Jaws dropped. Mouths gaped. 

And we prayed. 

The next morning, we heard an update and offered our help and assistance in whatever way necessary. We were surprised to hear from Dale just a few hours later, when he called to ask if my husband and I would come, right away. He were asking us to stay with their two high school boys--guys that we had come to love and know very well in our three years of ministry there. 

We rearranged our weekend schedule, passed our responsibilities on to a few willing replacements, and packed our bags. 

Friday afternoon we met up with Chris and Isaac and Pam in the lobby of the hospital. Dale had come out of his surgery successfully--praise the Lord. He was recovering quicker than most patients--thanks to his health--and we were all amazed at the perfect timing of this surgery. Two of his arteries were 90% blocked, two were 80% blocked. He could have died. But God had his hand on this man, and we are all convinced that his ministry, his purpose on this earth is far from over. 

It was a privilege to be called upon, to be entrusted with the safety and stability of those boys. We are thankful for these ministry opportunities we've been given in the last month--caring for Randy & Sheryl's kids in the midst of crisis, and now Dale and Pam's boys. Thank you, Jesus, for these relationships, for giving us strength and courage to support our friends in time of need. 

The body of Christ is a beautiful thing. 

February 17, 2012

The One with My Thursday A.M.

Inspired by my photo-sharing post from yesterday, I thought I would publish a few more pictures from my handy-dandy iPod. 

Every Thursday morning, I head over to the church to help out with childcare during the weekly Morning Moms Bible study. It is a blessing to have flexibility in my schedule and to be in the stage of life where I can serve in this way. I love spending time with the littles

This Thursday, after entertaining ourselves with some bouncy balls, transforming our hands into pterodactyl talons or lion claws, and singing "My God is so BIG!," we had ourselves a little photography fun. How cute are they?! 







February 16, 2012

The One with Crazy Faces

Having my fancy-schmany new iPod touch around has been brilliant for so many reasons. One of my favorite aspects of the iPod is the camera. I can whip it out and start taking pictures galore wherever I am, whomever I'm with. It's not quite as intimidating as the (always stupendous) Canon Rebel and it's easier to take self-shots.

This camera has proved especially awesome at youth group. Check out some of these fun, ridiculous, and somewhat disturbing photos of me and a few of my girls from this past Sunday night.

olivia. mel. carly.

logan. olivia. mel.

super-long hair turns into the perfect mustache. nice, Logan.


woah. watch out. (This was the tamest crazy-face photo of Carly and me. no joke.)

February 15, 2012

The One {in}RealLife

Today, I wanted to share an awesome opportunity with you from one of my favorite online communities: (in)courage. What is (in)courage? It is a "home for the hearts of women," the online ministry of DaySpring. Through blog posts from Christian women around the world--regulars and guests alike--women find rest for their weary souls, encouragement for times of trials, and hope for their hearts. This place--these people--are real

Now that you know a little bit about (in)courage, here is the exciting (and new, crazy hair-brained) idea from the directors. (in)RL {in real life} is an un-conference hosted in real-life homes across the country. (in)courage readers from all walks of life, will come together with other readers in their hometown, meet new friends, connect in real life, and participate in the (in)RL facilitated sessions and discussion. No plane tickets or expensive registrations. No sponsors or child-care arrangements. Just you, your living room, and your brand-spanking new friends, learning about real life: together. 

Sounds crazy, right? And totally awesome! For more info check out the website and watch this video from Lisa-Jo from TheGypsyMama.com (and director of (in)courage community) 

February 14, 2012

The One with the Not-Super-Valentine's-y Day

This hasn't been a particularly romantic Valentine's, but I'm ok with that. We've been spending some time with my mom, chilling on the couch, munching, and watching LOST. We had plans for an epic pizza date, but neither of us were "feeling" Vday, so we're postponing our date till Friday. (We still had Pizza Hut buffet for lunch though, no worries. :D) 

In celebration of our love, I thought I'd revisit the four-part series of posts I did last Valentine's, chronicling our love story. If you'd like to take a peak into how Kevin-and-Mel came to be, check out these posts. 

Part 4 {The Proposal}

I love you now, more than ever, Kevin. 


February 12, 2012

The One with the Zumba Report

I survived Zumba, ya'll. In fact, I was even a little bit good at it. And by "good," I mean I could keep up with most of the moves--NOT that it was at least an ounce natural-looking. Wowzers. I am just not not made to move like that. 

First of all, I arrived WAY too early. I was convinced the class started at 8:15, and being there at 8:00 would be a good idea for my first time. I trudged through the deep snow all the way to the studio (a convenient 5 minute walk from our house) and must have looked some some sort of a lost puppy when I tramped into the front door. The women-only fitness center owner was so kind and showed me the way to the classroom. A moment later, she came back and informed me I was a half hour early. Without a moment's hesitation, she offered to let me use a treadmill while I waited. 

So I treadmilled-it-up for the next 25 minutes. 

My girl, Miss O., showed up, and we headed upstairs to the dance studio. It was a nice class size--probably 15--and women of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels. I quickly realized that no one would be watching me--all eyes are glued to the teacher. (That's a lot of pressure I'm not sure I could handle. *whew*)  

O. and I high-fived a few times between songs, feeling pretty awesome about ourselves, even though we knew we weren't all that great. It was so much fun being there together. (And seriously, the fact that a TEEN wanted ME there with her was just AHmazing.) 

After the hour was up, I was happy--proud of my "performance" (because normally I can't keep up with choreography to save my life) and so pleased to have spent time with one of my girls. 

From a fitness standpoint, I'm not completely sold. It was fun, yes, but I like to be super sweaty when I'm working out, breathing heavily, feeling like I want to quit, but knowing I'm not going to. I can imagine that if I were an actual Latin dancer, I would be sweating like that. But in this class environment, I barely broke a sweat. Hmm. Oh well. Maybe it's not my favorite workout, but it was it still worth it. 

Have you tried Zumba? Are you a big fan? What other fitness classes do you enjoy?

*side note: I think I may be having a harder time getting my heart rate up and working out hard because of a little bit of exciting news--my pulse was 58 bpm yesterday, and my blood pressure was 108 over 64. My heart rate has never been below 68 or 70--numbers I was proud of. In high school, my pulse was consistently 90 or 100 bpm. Now, being the runner that I've become, I feel like a true athlete. I think the interval running has helped too.  

February 10, 2012

The One with Zumba and Pizza {Not Together}

I am looking forward to...

my first Zumba class in the morning. I am so going to embarrass myself. 

attending said Zumba with one of my amazing teen girls. Is it bad to hope she's as uncoordinated as I am? :) 

having my mom visit for a few days. She's so easy to have around, low maintenance, no pressure. 

our annual Valentine's Day date--finding the greatest pizza place around. (Anybody have any suggestions for the Rochester or Buffalo, NY area?)

sharing my freshly decorated sugar cookies at a baby shower on Sunday. 

watching how God goes before us and our friends, preparing the paths. 

February 9, 2012

The One with My "Type A" Rationale

Currently our daily chronological Bible reading has Kevin and I reading through Exodus. The crazy thing is, I have no idea how many times I have previously studied through these passages, but reading straight through them in order brings so many details to light. Almost daily, Kevin hears me exclaim my startling realization. 

Today's proclamation was, "Oh my gosh, it was AARON who had the Israelites build the golden calf?! SERIOUSLY? And then he was crazy enough to say: So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf! Really, Aaron?" 

But that is neither here nor there. This post is about the justification for my Type A personality.

Type A
design by www.kevinandmel.com
These past  few days, our Bible reading schedule* has led us through the detailed explanations of Exodus chapters 25-32. The LORD God gave Moses explicit instructions on how to construct the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Altar, the Priestly Garments, and more. Most people would probably skim these sections as if they were reading those wordy genealogies sprinkled throughout Scripture. You know, it's just one of those things you all but ignore unless you're a scholar and need to study the passage for a certain reason. 

It may have something to do with my personality, or my desire to thoroughly comprehend each Scripture passage I read this year, but these chapters really struck me. Suddenly, like never before, I was in awe of MY God's attention to detail. He cared about every single aspect of each building project. God gave Moses instructions--that were more like commands--with precise dimensions, exact materials, and intricate ornamentation.  

The Lord wanted things "just-so" in order to ensure the holy set-apart-ness of each object. These weren't going to be run of the mill tents and boxes and garb. No, these were the representation of YHWH (YAHWEH--the very Spirit and Breath of God). They deserved special treatment, perfect details, elaborate jewels, awe-inspiring designs, and specific materials that were worthy of His presence. 

And you wouldn't believe how exciting, how comforting it was to realize that my Type A personality--the part of me that needs order, values the aesthetic, desires details--was a shadow of my Creator. The same quirks I so often get teased for, are the ways that I am uniquely created in HIS IMAGE. How cool is that?! 

So the next time you make fun of someone for being "uptight" about details or you feel like you're the crazy one for needing order in your life, recognize the reality--that is one aspect of our Lord God's essence. 

February 7, 2012

Top Ten of the Best Photos from {Snow Camp}

This past weekend, Kevin and I (along with 3 other adult leaders) took 18 high school students to Snow Camp. This particular camp is set up in the Old Western style and has been operating for 40 years. They run 10 or 12 weekend Snow Camps each winter and host 200 students at each camp. Many groups have been attending for years and years. 

It's always interesting to attend a new camp for the first time. I have been to many a Christian Camp--between my years of work at our camp (Somerset Beach) and my summer with Wellspring (traveling worship team to different camp each week.) It's important to have an open mind--about the cabins, the leadership, the organization, the chapel services, the meal time, the extra-curriculars--or you will likely have a very bad attitude. And bad attitudes just ruin everything. 

Our time with our teens was a big success. Kevin and I both committed to spending our weekend as youth workers instead of husband-and-wife. We sat with each other at meals and such, but we made an effort to spend most of our free time with our respective guys or girls. I hung out with the girls as they sat and talked in their bunks or watched the activities from the sidelines. Kevin played hours of Euchre with the guys in their cabins and kept up with the young-ens during their basketball games.  

I listened to my own advice--my note to self. I loved those students. I spent time with them. I was real with them {adorkable side and all}. I laughed with them. I even cried with them. Oh yeah, and I indulged in the calorie-dense foods without feeling {too} guilty. 

I took literally HUNDREDS of pictures all weekend and I have narrowed them down for your viewing pleasure. Here are the...
Top Ten of the Best Photos from {Snow Camp}

one. me and the girls at the Wild West Adventure Town 
(waiting for the late-night games to begin. 10pm to midnight with a 1:30am lights out is just crazy in my opinion. but I survived.) 

two. human hamster ball relays. 

three. human bowling. 
(that's not dangerous at all...)

four. group building activities--the ping pong ball pass
(followed by the "NOOOOOO!!!" exclamations from John & Maria)


five. another group building activity--
the girls are focused on keep their feet touching as they move from one end of the room to the other.


six. the other half of our group during the foot-touching activity. those boys are focused.

seven. group shot (with the random Santa Claus Helicopter and support beam in the middle of us.)

eight. Trike Terror Relays.
(exactly what it sounds like--plus the driver was blind-folded. really?!)

nine. the Jump Shot. classic.

ten. my girls and me (minus Carly!)
girls with words

It's not been easy to move on from one group of teens to a new one, but God is blessing us with opportunities like this one to invest in their lives and show them our true commitment. Walls are beginning to shatter, relationships are forming. May His Name be Glorified. 

linked with Top Ten Tuesday.

February 4, 2012

The One with the Note to Self {Teen Weekend}

The Five Minute Friday Prompt was REAL. So I wrote a letter to myself. My Saturday-self. 


Dear Melanie, 

Today you are spending your time with 18 high schoolers. You have the opportunity to get to know them--really know them. This is the quality time you've been looking forward to, hoping for. When time doesn't matter as much, there aren't deadlines or personal agendas. Just you and them, being together

Savor this weekend. Be thankful for the privilege God has given you to invest in these precious lives. Recognize the high calling you have been given and the responsibility you've been handed, and embrace it--run with it. 

Love them with all you have (and all He has given you.) Even when you're tired. Even if you'd rather be cranky. Even if you get a headache from the lack of sleep. 

Don't worry too much about not eating very healthy this weekend. Enjoy that camp food. You know you want to

Look for openings, opportunities to be with them. 

Be real with them. And they will want to be real with you. 



February 3, 2012

The One with a Blog {That Matters}

I wanted to share a particularly awesome blog with you all. This one has a purpose, a heavenly one. These girls have been through the trenches of depression and have been given a passion by God to offer comfort to others. They are living out 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 

I just so happen to be personally invested in their lives and I am so proud of the mission they have set out upon. Brooke & Alisha, two high school girls from our former youth group, are the authors of the blog You Matter Too {Real Problems. Real Solutions. Where Depression Meets Recovery.} Their hearts were changed when they watched the movie To Save a Life and then experienced the devastation of teenage suicide in their local schools. They wanted to DO something, to be a sounding board for those who feel completely alone, to be encouragement to anyone struggling to find purpose in this life. 

Keep it up, girls. 

And to all of my readers--You may or may not realize how many people in your lives are dealing with depression. It's a real struggle. One that can pull you further and further away from the Truth, the Light of Jesus. Please share this blog with your friends, your teenage daughters and sons. Make sure they know they matter

February 2, 2012

The One with My Focus {and too much of a good thing}

Lately, I've been...

...loving every minute of teaching piano lessons

...trying to ignore the little piles of this and that stacking up all over the house. 

...contenting myself in the stage of life I'm in. 

...becoming quickly addicted to Grey's Anatomy. Thank you, Netflix. I watched my first episode ever (Season 1, Episode 1) and I was hooked. Even the theme song/intro video is just intriguing to me. I mean how brilliant is the red high heals--turns to scrub shoes--turns to surgical instruments--turns to eyelash curler...

...thoroughly enjoying my new practice of logging my running training, and surprisingly excited about the new-to-me concept of intervals

...so happy to have Kevin coming with me on the mornings I go to the track. Even doing our separate things and being in the same place makes me smile. 

...honored to be trusted to be more than one student's emergency contact list at school. 

...looking forward to getting to know the teens in a deeper way during our weekend at Snow Camp

...hoping for the energy I'll need to be useful, fun, and encouraging during our weekend at Snow Camp.