Hello from Urbana 12. There are so many things to say and I will get to them when I come home.

But for now I want to talk about rest. Did you ever notice how difficult to rest it is? Especially in ministry. We are always going, doing, loving, taking care of constant flow of demands, needs, and problems. With so many people around us that are in great need of our love, resources, and to hear the news of the kingdom how can we ever justify sleeping let alone resting. We can almost never say "no" to things for the mission is too great.

But if we do not take care of our own souls we will burn out, become bitter, and resent the very passion God implanted in us to begin with. For even Jesus rested. Multiple times in scripture it said Jesus went to a quiet place to pray. But what about the hungry, the poor, the sick, the lame, the hurting, and those who need you Jesus? How will your resting help them?

I believe Jesus knew that he needed space to rest and be with his father otherwise his ministry would suffer. Otherwise he would burn out. Rest is crucial to ministry for it is crucial to our soul. And that often means we must say no to something.

Tonight at Urbana they were doing amazing join-in session - building 32,000 AIDS caregiver kits for Swaziland. What a way to practically serve others at this conference. But an hour before it started, I was exhausted - tired and impatient. My soul was being stretched to its limit but how could I say to no to helping those in greater need than my own. Wasn't this just my own weakness I needed to overcome? Power through? Ignore it?

No. Not this time. God called me to pull away, to retreat, to say no. "Let someone else build a kit - there are 16,000 people who can do it too you know. You need rest for you soul or your ministry will suffer." So perhaps I missed a great opportunity to be a part of something amazing. But perhaps by resting in God's presence alone, I was given the strength to keep pressing on - to see with new eyes and have a continual soft heart.

Because sometimes it is just as important to pull away and rest as it is to jump up and act.


Hot Tub in Snow

Today I met an older couple on the metro from the St. Louis Airport to my hotel downtown. Sadly I did not catch their names but I did have quite the long conversation with them so together they count as one of 25 new people I'm supposed to meet.

Unfortunately they were just returning from LA to see the husband's sister who was in the UCLA hospital. She was given about two weeks to live and they went out for a quick visit to see her. They were very glad to be on their way home though (and did spend some time arguing about whether or not to see the wife's son and baby grandchild for dinner - which included prime rib, so naturally I wanted to continue to hang out with them).

They did leave with me one suggestion for an adventure to try. After enjoying a nice time in a hot tub, jump into the snow and make snow angels. Then back to the hot tub. They have been doing that for years and said I wasn't fully living life until I have done so. Thoughts? It could be my fear I face (fear of dying from hypothermia I suppose). But I'm missing the snow. And the hot tub. I guess this would be an adventure just to even accomplish.


Goals for Year 25

(updated as of December 12)
When I turned 25 I decided to try and do some things I never have done before or just really wanted to get done this year. I created a list a 25 goals to accomplish by the end of the year. Some were big some where small, some were serious some felt silly and all, but together they made amazing memories.

Look through the blog posts over the past year with the 25 in 25 tag or just peruse through the list to see what I've accomplished in one year alone.

Here we go!
  1. Read 25 new books
    1. Liesel and Po by Lauren Oliver
    2. Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands
    3. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
    4. Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
    5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kailing
    6. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
    7. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
    8. Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
    9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
    10. Legal: the First 21 Years by Jonathan Walton
    11. The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
    12. Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen
    13. Your Mind's Mission by Greg Jao
    14. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
    15. Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
    16. Who Pooped in the Park by Gary D. Robsen
    17. Real Life by James Choung
    18. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie 
    19. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
    20. Penguins Hate Stuff by Greg Stones
    21. Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stones
    22. Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin
    23. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
    24. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    25. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
  2. Visit 25 new places
    1. Snarf's Sandwiches in St. Louis, MO
    2. St. Charles, MO
    3. Dune Point State Beach in Malibu, CA
    4. Old Los Angeles Zoo
    5. Saladang in Pasadena, CA
    6. Solstice Canyon in Malibu, CA
    7. Eurekea Burger in San Luis Obispo, CA
    8. Raku Sushi in San Luis Obispo, CA
    9. Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles, CA
    10. Barrelhouse Brewery in Paso Robles, CA
    11. Road to Seoul BBQ in Korea Town, Los Angeles, CA
    12. Menchie's Frozen Yogurt in Granada Hills, CA
    13. Freddie's Frozen Custard in Bakersfield, CA
    14. Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA
    15. Neptune's Net in Malibu, CA
    16. Salsa and Beer, Van Nuys, CA
    17. Runyon Canyon, Hollywood, CA
    18. Good Pho You, Granda Hills, CA
    19. Zaika Indian Cuisine, Bakersfield, CA
    20. Tea Bar, Bakersfield, CA
    21. Pike Brewing, Seattle, WA
    22. Space Needle/Seattle Center, Seattle, WA
    23. Olympia Roasting Coffee Co, Olympia, WA
    24. Kalama Burger Bar Inc., Kalama, WA
    25. Stumptown Coffee, Portland, OR
    26. Golden Road Bewing, Glendale, CA
    27. New Delhi Palace, Pasadena CA
    28. Saigon Deli, Fresno CA
    29. Pizza Factory, Bishop, CA
    30. Fraizer Park, CA
    31. Forest Home, Ojai, CA
    32. Seoul Sausage Company, Santa Monica, CA
    33. Blockheads Shavery, Santa Monica, CA
    34. Sweet Snow, Northridge, CA
    35. Reality LA Church
    36. Flour + Tea, Pasadena CA
  3. Meet 25 new people that are not work related: I need to know their name, where they are from, and where they are going.
    1. Older couple on metro (great story)
    2. Norrette from H.O.P.E.'s House
    3. Pastor Chuck and Pastor Dre from H.O.P.E.'s House
    4. Carol - my racing friend from Downtown Dash
    5. Toro, my roommate's guitar playing friend
    6. Angela, a woman who lives in our apartment complex
    7. Monica, from H.O.P.E.'s House (lots of new church friends)
    8. Damon from the 168 Film Contest I helped out at
    9. Kristina from the 168 Film Contest I helped out at 
    10. Kokeb Shi, Sol's Friend
    11. Randi, Jenel's Friend
    12. Marshall and Alexander - the bagpipe players at the warf
    13. Anna, the waitress at Marche in Seattle who got us onto the hotel rooftop
    14. Lisa, the woman from the doughnut shop in Seattle (it was her birthday)
    15. Austin from Tennessee - attending the WDS conference/Voodoo Doughnuts 
    16. Nate also from Tennessee - attending the WDS conference/Voodoo Doughnuts 
    17. Jonathan too from Tennessee - attending the WDS conference/Voodoo Doughnuts 
    18. Katie at Chris and Jane's wedding
    19. Beth at Chris and Jane's wedding
    20. Mike from A Night of Scenes at H.O.P.E.'s House
    21. Brandon from A Night of Scenes at H.O.P.E.'s House
    22. Shannon, family friend, Jacob's, girlfriend
    23. Mac, family friend, Jessica's, boyfriend
    24. James from Texas, serving the Global Intern Trek food
    25. Beth from The Toloumne Lodge 
    26. Reality LA - Encino Community Group
  4. Lose 25 lbs 
    1. Finished on April 1st
  5. Get rid of 25 things that I don't need
    1. 12 items of clothing
    2. The four boxes donated to the Girl's House Garage sale that probably had 50 items in it
  6. Actually try 25 things on my Pintrest boards
    1. Pencil Poles
    2. Chipotle Pesto Pasta
    3. Alphabet Pilates
    4. Valentine's Day Cake Cookies
    5. Standing Abs workout 
    6. Chalkboard mirror 
    7. Couch to 5k
    8. Instagram Bookmarks
    9. Mini corn dog muffins
    10. Must-Have Apps for Writers
    11. Rolo Stuff Ritz Crackers
    12. Modern Wall Art
    13. The Pizzadilla
    14. At Home Speakers
    15. Coffee ice cubs
    16. How to Tie a Long Scarf
    17. Top 10 Songs for Running
    18. 200 Running Songs
    19. Easy Mac and Cheese
    20. Pitch Perfect Drinking Game
    21. Fitness at Home
    22. Sharpie Mugs 1 (I did 18 of these so I'd count them as 4 items) 
    23. Sharpie Mugs 2 
    24. Sharpie Mugs 3
    25. 30 Day Push Up Challenge
  7. Write 25 handwritten letters
  8. Learn to cook 15 new dishes
    1. Brownies from scratch
    2. Chipotle Pesto Pasta
    3. Valentine's Day Cake Cookies
    4. Mom's Dump Chili
    5. Mini Corn Dog Muffins
    6. Rolo Stuffed Ritz Crackers
    7. The Pizzadilla
    8. Turkey Sliders
    9. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
    10. Corn and Black Bean Salad
    11. Cofee Ice Cubes
    12. Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese
  9. Get coffee/tea/ice cream/etc. with 15 old friends
    1. Frozen yogurt with Maise 
    2. Coffee with Noemi
    3. LA Adventure with Melody
    4. Burgers with Meghan
    5. Sushi with Nene
    6. Smoothies and Beach with Nicole
    7. Twinship Adventure Time with Sol
    8. CSUN Tour with Yi-ki
    9. Hike with Sarah A
    10. Pizza with Meg
    11. Get Shaved with Justin
    12. Corner Bakery with Peter
    13. Lunch with Kathy
    14. Lunch and laundry with Christina
    15. Denny's with Lengyel, Brendan, and Nate (and many others)
  10. Physically record 10 family stories
    1. No Pants
    2. Mom
    3. Dad
  11. Memorize 10 passages of scripture
    1. Proverbs 3:5-6
    2. Philippians 4:4-7 
    3. 1 John 1:9
    4. Luke 4:18-19
    5. Isaiah 61:1-3
    6. Psalm 103:1-5
    7. Psalm 40:1-3
    8. 1 Peter 1:3-7
    9. Philippians 4:12-13
    10. Ezekiel 11:19-20
  12. Find 10 new musical artists (or new albums) and recommend them to someone else 
    1. JJ Heller - Loved 
    2. Pentatonix - Radioactive (Imagine Dragons Cover)
    3. Lindsey Sterling
    4. Sara Bareilles - Brave
    5. ├ôlafur Arnalds - Old Skin
    6. Todderick Hall - Wizard of Ahhhs 
    7. Birdy - Skinny Love and The District Sleeps
    8. Ylvis - What Does the Fox Say and What's the Meaning of Stonehedge
    9. The Head and the Heart
    10. Beta Radio
  13. Watch 10 movies I can't believe I haven't seen yet
    1. Jumanji
    2. The Hobbit
    3. Butter (after watching it, I can't believe I hadn't seen - so good!)
    4. Family Weekend (same deal as Butter)
    5. 50/50
    6. The Breakfast Club
    7. The Amazing Spiderman
    8. Fast and Furious: Toyoko Drift
    9. Fast Five 
    10. Fast and Furious Six
  14. Give up 4 bad habits - turns out I focused more on developing new habits 
    1. Gained - gratitude 
    2. Gained - writing consistently 
    3. Gained - consistant prayer times 
    4. Gained - taking space for myself 
  15. Run 2 5K's 
    1. Glendale Downtown Dash
    2. No official 5k but have run 3.2 miles several times since 
  16. Blog once a week
    1. January - success!
    2. February - finished!
    3. March - almost didn't make but pulled through at the end
    4. April - completed!
    5. May - done with!
    6. June - accomplished!
    7. July - win!
    8. August - literally once a week and that's it
    9. September - a struggle (NSO got the best of me)
    10. October - not totally
    11. November - thankfully yes :) 
    12. December - will be done
  17. Blog in another language (probably Spanish, maybe Italian)
    1. Espanol 
  18. Learn to drive a stick shift
  19. Create a piece of art to frame
    1. Modern Wall Art
  20. Learn a new skill
    1. Really wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, but I learned how to do push-ups better and I'd say that's a pretty sweet new skill. 
  21. Begin to learn another language (Spanish, Italian, and ASL are my top 3 to choose from now)
    1. Practicing my ASL while at work. I have half of the alphabet down and a few words. It's a work in progress. 
  22. Write something and send it to be published
    1. Working on the poetry skills
    2. Working on a book idea... possible portion here
  23. Go out dancing
    1. Had a dance party at Exponential and I busted a move or two
  24. Write a song
    1. Green Christmas
  25. Face a fear
    1. Heights Part 1: Standing on a cliff's ledge
    2. Heights Part 2: Going up the Space Needle


Just Dance

Sometimes you have friends who just get it. Who understand, who act, and keep you in positive spirits.

Darin, Austin, and Nick, thank you for indulging me in my adventurous side. Thank you for allowing me to talk and ramble and just be in company of great friends.

Amanda, Ryan, Darci, Brendan, and Erin, thank you for dinner, for the company, for the laughter and food, and for the wonderful memories that I have of you all so far.

Sarena and Jenel, you are amazing, wonderful and I'm so glad you understood what I needed from people tonight. Thanks for making me dance with you, for encouraging me, and just being present.

Sol, thanks for the text messages and for calling at the right time and just being there to understand.

All of you helped make the day special and a wonderful way to usher in year number 25. I will work on my just dance moves from now. No more one star only business. Probably need to ask for that for Christmas so I can give my sister back her copy.



Yes it is 12/12/12 today. No I did not post it at 12:12. But did you know I can change the time on my blog to do that?

What you said? You can change time.

Oh yes I have the power. But I don't want to abuse it. I will save that for when I actually need to use it. Posting on my blog doesn't qualify.

Here's a picture of a frog sporting western wear to commemorate the epic occasion of the day.



Dear my last job,

I am done with you. I have been done with you physically for a long time since I no longer work there, but I am done with you totally. I am done letting my failure with you control and dictate my life. I am done believing lies about myself that aren't true - that I'm not good enough, that I'm not dedicated enough, that I'm not talented enough, that I'm not passionate enough. That I'm just not enough. I am going to call them for what they are - lies. Lies meant to tear me down and I will not be believing them any more.

The point is I'm done with letting that one major failure run my life. Time to move on. Oh no, I won't be forgetting what happened any time soon, I'm sure that will stick with me forever, but time to move from the nightmares, from the depression, from the lies, and from crippling effect I wish you still didn't have on me. You can just pack your things and leave.

You may try to bring me down now but I know I'm good enough. I know I'm worthy. I have a God who tells me that when I don't want to listen. I have friends who tell me that when I don't believe. I have family who stands by when I'm surrounded by your arrows. Trust me, your power over me is over. It's time to start living again, and living the way God created me. Living like the person who God created me to be.

Watch out world. A new Melissa is coming. The 25th year is going to be awesome.

And I'm totally going to need reminding of this later and that's why I wrote it down. 


Heart Language

"Sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit with someone who's hurting; you don't have to say anything or offer advice, you just sit there."

- Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Joan Bauer you speak my heart language and know my soul.

Almost Home

"It's not fair, but sometimes a kid has to act older than their age. You just pray hard enough to know what to do."

- Almost Home by Joan Bauer


Lies Are Shot at Me Like Bullets

(written during FUI in July 2010

Lies are shot at me like bullets,
Leaving their holes inside my soul,
Leaving their scars behind, even when the shells are gone
Screaming – I AM A FAILURE!

I wonder, when the disappointment will end?
I hear only hurtful words, replaying on a stuck loop in my mind.
I see the hidden tears masked with shouts.
I want to escape to my own world where the shouts are silenced.

A world with mountains that point to the heavens
And clouds that cool the air.
I am exhausted from the city that never sleeps.
I do not sleep well.

Awaken by heat and sirens
That blaze throughout the night and day.
Those words still blare like sirens in the dark night.
They scream with a child’s pain, who is now screaming at me.

I pretend to have it all together for I must keep up appearances.
Inside I feel frustrated and finished.
The wounds are too deep to hide,
Telling me I should have known what to say.

If I touch something, will it fail?
Why am I not better?
I worry that I have ruined everything.
Hiding in back bedrooms, I cry only in secret.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I understand that I was right.
I was right to set a standard,
To take a stand.
And I say these seemingly meaningless words to make myself feel better.

I dream of cooler weather and tempers,
A life outside this city, a life in the mountains of my mind.
For I need a rest, a shelter from the shooting shells.
I lie still, bleeding, waiting for rescue.

Lies are shot at me like bullets.
Easily believed, easily received,
Leaving gaping wounds behind
Whispering – I am a failure.

I wear a mask too disgusting to wear any longer.
The tears will no longer stay hidden in back bedrooms.
I cannot hide the bullet holes with glitter any more
Can the world see right through me?

When the outside world returns, the tears do not disappear.
They return to their secret places, in dark shadows,
Waiting to pounce on their prey, once the threat has retreated,
Once I am alone.

That is when the lies come and invade.
Like a thief in the night,
Ready to steal what is left of my truth.
What is left of my security.

I lift my eyes up to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The maker of heaven and earth.

Will the Lord come and rescue one who is buried
Beneath broken shells of words?
Covered in dark ash,
Cowering in a pit of despair.

For when the lies are shot at me like bullets
I run into a foxhole, a pit of hell,
Praying for protection from the screams and whispers of
I am a failure.

But I waited patiently for the Lord.
What else was I to do?
The Lord turned to me and he heard my cry.
He came to my rescue.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on a rock
And gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to our God.
Now many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord.