Life's Sweet Journey

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Woman in Gold

My husband and I went to a prescreening of Woman in Gold last night. It was hands down the best movie we (we meaning he actually agrees and not just me speaking as a we for him) have seen in a very long time. And we see A LOT of movies. I untderstand if you wish to stop reading at this time, while I do promise this post holds no specific spoilers you may be able to deduce the general feel of the from the following thoughts.

I had figured going into the movie that I may cry. I knew what it entailed and I knew there would be scenes from the life of the main character portraying her life as a young Jewish woman in Austria during the Nazi occupation. What I didn't expect to have happen was to feel so utterly connected to the woman she becomes in her later years of life. Maria is now an elderly woman living in America and has enlisted the help of a young family friend who happens to be a lawyer. At one point in the movie she remarks that you must hold onto pieces of your history so that the memories those tangible items hold do not get forgotten. She then states that it is often the younger generations that do the forgetting. Woman in Gold paints a tragically beautiful, hope-filled picture of what happens with our histories. A picture of that younger generation as it learns to embrace a history that it has more distant connections to, while the direct link to the past learns that while objects can pull memories to the surface they have always been held within us wherever we go.

It was for that very reason that I was a sobbing mess at the end of the movie. I have often thought that with age our memories may grow more gray, the edges may fog and fade, the image become less clear. But I wonder now if that is true. Maybe the older we get the more clear the past becomes, fine tuned by the crisp memories of a youthful soul. Maybe that line between the past and the present becomes thinner and it is easier to see the histories we have tried to block from our minds. That thought was crushing, but it was also inspiring, to think about all the memories a lifetime can hold. I think of the memories, pleasant and not, that I carry with me now. The weight of another 50 years of them seems astonishing. 

I can remember sitting with my mimi. While she never had many memory problems there were days when I could tell that she thought she was talking to my mother. It was the present memories, the things that had happened the day before that were easier for her to forget, like the fact that my mother was now a grown adult and not the woman in her early 20s sitting across the able from her. That is was actually me.  I was ok with that, because the stories she remembered so clearly were the ones that showed me who she was as a woman my own age.

It does get me thinking, about the things I will recollect if I am around to hit the age of 80. What scenes will I be walking into, what memories will I come face-to-face with, whose faces will I see smiling at me from corners of rooms that are no longer a part of my actual surroundings? I sat there in that theater and I could picture myself old and wrinkled, skin thin but bravado strong, saying things so matter-of-factly. Maybe it really is true that the older you get the less you care about speaking your mind. Maybe you speak what you think because you have waited too long to speak your truth and it is finally time to let it all out. To let out all the memories, all the knowledge, all the lessons learned and life lived. You let it out while at the same time it pulls you in. You get pulled into the past, pulled into the story of who you were and who you have become and in that moment you get to live the best of both worlds. You get to live with all you have learned, all you have walked through, all that you are now, but for a brief moment you also get to live it with all the people who had to leave before you did, including the version of yourself you once were.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sharing Saturday!!

I do so love a great beard! Love journeying through life with this one! 
While I had all intentions of posting yesterday for 5 on Friday, in typical Melanie fashion the day got away from me. So I am dubbing this Sharing Saturday. Sharing 5 things I am loving lately and sharing a few of those things in a happy little giveaway to share that love with you! Here goes: 
1.) Disney Flower and Garden
Our passes are almost expired and I think I may cry for a long time, but before that we will be going big with one last hoorah... and a lot of watermelon salad!! This stuff is my jam!! Seriously, if you have passes, the ability to make it to Epcot or are planning your yearly visit during Flower and Garden, you can NOT miss the watermelon salad. I love this amazing little blend! I waited all year long to get this again and it did not disappoint! If I could eat it everyday, I would. I have tried watermelon salad other places and Epcot's is by far my favorite!
2.) Snavely Vegetables and Garden!
We have a theme going on! Garden! Garden! And more garden!! This weekend, after being at the beach with a girlfriend, I came home to my our very own garden. I was beside myself!! I have been wanting one for so long and while Babe has too, I think he thought my enthusiasm for a garden was a lot like my enthusiasm for other things. I can quickly jump on an idea, but then quickly lose appeal for it. I have wanted a garden (and bees) for oh, going on about 4 years now! He was shocked, and I think I may have even surprised myself, with how much I am loving it. I basically cried the night I saw it. And within a few days it was already sprouting!! YAY!!!! First stop garden, second stop honey bees!! We are growing cucs, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and watermelon; basically growing tacos, with a happy sweet treat!! Only one week in and it is already sprouting!!
3.) Clean Sweep!
I never thought I would say this, but "I have been loving cleaning." I have been purging my way through the house. A friend started a challenge to get rid of 40 things a day, for 40 days, for Lent. At first I said, "No way! Uh uh, not gonna happen." Next thing you know I had gotten rid of 240 thing in a period of 1 hour (in order to catch up) and I was hooked. It has recently gotten a little more challenging now that I am getting past the definite throw-outs, but I am excited to keep going and to learn what simplifying looks like (more on that later), as of right now it looks like 3 trash bags to pitch and two to donate! 
4.) Snuggly Beards!
Babe has kept his beard around (per my request)! Yay! Who enjoys shaving anyways?! And you just can't beat a man with a beard, at least in my opinion. However, Babe is very low maintenance. He just keeps it trimmed and typically doesn't listen when I talk about things like beard upkeep. But when I got the opportunity to try a beard care kit I couldn't turn it down and he obliged to try it out for a while! His beard is so snuggly! I love it. Smooth Viking is a wonderful company that offers 100% natural beard care options. While Babe's beard isn't long enough to use the beard balm he has been using the oil (Beard Oil - 100% Natural) which he says has made his beard less itchy and also much softer. It makes snuggling during movie night so much better. I also love that they are an Orlando based company. When I first partnered with them I didn't know that this was the case. I found out when I received the products and read the address. I love supporting local businesses and will definitely be using Smooth Viking in the future. If you love beard snuggling as much as I do you should totally give them a try!
5.) Tea Time!
I was recently given some Organic Dandelion Root Tea to try. I love tea! And while I am not typically a floral tea lover, I couldn't pass up a taste test. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea from Kiss Me Organics. It has a subtle floral taste and dash of cinnamon, it blended nicely with my honey (I add honey to everything I drink) and a little sugar. It was delightful! The fact that is organic was great too. It's the perfect treat for an afternoon pick me up and being naturally caffeine free it didn't keep me up until all hours of the night.

*This post is sponsored by Smooth Viking and Kiss Me Organics and because they were so great to share some of their wonderfulness with me I thought I would share some with you! Here's a little treat for one lucky tea-drinking, beard-snuggling winner! (Beard Conditioner - 100% Natural Beard , Beard Balm - 100% Natural, Organic Dandelion Root Tea)

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Adulting

I found this quote not too long ago and while times aren't that dark today I know there is someone somewhere who could use a push, a reminder, to keep chugging along. Whenever I read this, on a dark day or a brighter one, I am reminded about why I love it so much. It is short and simple and to the point. You have made it, you have made it through hard things and while you will face them again, you also know that you have the strength to make it through. You have done it before! So hold tight and be strong, there is light to look forward to. 

And just in case you are more of a "I need humor more than a dose of reminders in order to keep my head up today" kind of person, then I hope you enjoy this little ditty that has kept me smiling for the past week or so... 

And with that I am off to Disney, because that is where I take myself when I am just plain done and over the "adulting" thing for the day!! Seriously, why didn't the grown-ups warn us better about this whole thing?! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Ash Wednesday

Today I find myself exponentially grateful for God's outstanding grace. I am thankful that love is shaped like a cross, like a Man with outstretched arms, who died because of love. Because of His love for us; for broken, sinful people. He came to Earth to make sure we got to live forever with Him and He came because of a love that would save the world from itself. I pray that in this time, I will pull closer to Him and to that love. I prat that I can better learn to love like Jesus did and that I can embrace this Lenten season with an open heart, one that can better see and fully live the miracle of Jesus' life. This year for Lent I am not giving up something that I will, most likely, fail at. Instead, I want to pick up intentionality. Intentionally spending time in God's word, learning more about Him and His heart. Maybe that means I am ultimately giving up time I would be spending doing something else, but I want this season to be about growing closer to the meaning of a love that looks like a Cross. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Surrendering the Older Brother

"Don't you know I'm the prodigal son?" He says it with a smirk and a condescending smile as he closes and locks the bathroom.

And, like something that feels threatened and angered I do the first thing that comes to my mind. I start spewing venom. I start banging on the locked door like all of the world's problems will be solved if I can just break the door from its hinges or in any way shape or form get him to move faster. "Open the dang door!! You are the most selfish person I have ever met in my entire life! Who do you think you are? Get out of the shower!! You do not have time to shower! Today is not about you!! We are already late and we have to leave! Dad said we had to be out in the car! You think of no one but yourself! You care about no one but yourself! We all know you're the fricking prodigal son, you sure do get everything you want!! That's your problem!! Now GET OUT!!!" I scream so hard my throat feels raw. I scream and I scream and I am right where I was before I ever even started screaming, behind a closed and locked door, accomplishing absolutely nothing. And do you know what happens with those words that left my mouth like venom? They burn. They burned coming out and they burn afterwards. They burn a hole right through you. They are words that never leave you.

There is no vindication in them. There is no answer. There is only weakness and the hurt that you felt and then placed on someone else. And maybe in that moment, when all my brother wanted was 5 minutes in the shower even though he had woken up late, he felt like he would use the prodigal son card to get what he felt he deserved. But when you feel like you have the authority to call yourself that it's also because you know how far you had fallen. How lost you had been. And instead of looking behind the condescending smile and the air of entitlement that I was "so sure" he was throwing in my face, I played into the older brother role yet again. And in that moment I was just as lost as I had always assumed he was. I was so far past any realm of understanding because I let my own brokenness cloud what was going on. I fell into my human nature and made my bitterness, my brokenness, more important than his struggle. And I will always carry that with me. You see, I vowed after that trip to NEVER again go on a family trip with John Wayne. Or at least to never be made to stay in the same hotel room with him. And I never did. I will never have the chance to. Because a year after that trip, he would never get the chance to take another one. 

I had prepared myself for this week's sermon. I had been given fair warning that this sermon was going to be about the prodigal son. I thought that I had come to terms with the demons that I faced that left me a heap of a mess after each previous sermon preached on this same story. I was wrong. Because again, from word one, I was waterworks. And do you know the moment that I truly broke open? It was these 4 simple words, "Jesus loves older brothers." That was all it took. I thought I had come to terms with it, with my sin and brokenness and the bitterness that played so strongly on my heart. I had asked God to forgive me. Thank God I had the opportunity to ask John Wayne to forgive me. But I realized, in that moment, that I had never allowed myself to forgive me. I never forgave that part of myself that held so strongly to those moments where everything in me broke. 

I held onto those words, to those moments of broken anger and others like them, like some badge of shame against myself, so that I would remember the feelings that came after them. I never really let them go. I let them play on repeat and fester in my mind and in my heart and all that did was lead to more broken and bitter feelings. This time at myself for the role I often played in our story. I feel grateful for the times where I could have a conscious discussion with my brother. I am grateful that not long before he died, we had been talking about trying to give the whole "family trip" another shot. And yet, I still could not surrender the hardness I had built against myself and his addiction to allow for me to drop my "older brother" badge altogether. I held onto it, unwilling to surrender it to God. Unwilling to let Him take it and make that part of my heart His. It seemed too ugly somehow. Too broken. But nothing is too broken for God.


"Jesus loves older brothers." 


My heart needed those words. Jesus came for everything lost in us, for the older brothers and younger brothers alike. And He said "I love youI love you more than the pain of death and loss and I will carry you home. I will celebrate YOU, because you were lost and now you are found." And with tears streaming I surrendered the darkest parts of myself. The parts I tried to keep locked tight and hidden away. I surrendered them then and I will surrender them each time I feel like I am trying to pull them back, because God can do such a better job at loving the older brother in me than I can. 

If you would like to listen to the sermon and the rest of the series (preached by Zach Van Dyke) you can click through the picture at the top of the post or find it here