March Insta-Review

Instagram photos in the month of March (follow me on instagram - @melissamonte)

To see the previous InstaReviews

How I Met Your Mother


If you haven't watched the latest How I Met Your Mother episode, you probably don't want to read these reflections. It kind of gives away the plot of the series finale. So watch it first or risk having it
ruined. But I warned you.

This is not to get everyone rilled up or to start a debate. Feel how you want to feel about the series finale- like it, love it, hate, or whatever. I even have mixed emotions. I've been thinking about it for the past couple of hours. But I think I'm leaning toward liking it. I definitely don't hate it. It wasn't neat, it wasn't clean, there were parts I didn't like and there parts I did. And that's a lot like life. I didn't think it was a cop out for the writers. I don't think I would have enjoyed it if everyone got together happily at the end. Yes, that would have been cute but that's not reality and I felt they were trying to show reality for a moment.

Here's what I don't like:
- I don't like that Robin and Barney got divorced because it hurts me to see divorce happen. It hurts me to see their relationship fall apart like that and to see them clearly in pain. Divorce is painful and watching even these fictional characters go through it was painful. Did I want it for them - of course not, but that stuff happens.
- I don't like how Robin fell away from the group. But I don't blame her. She was heartbroken and hurt by Barney. It makes sense how she went deep into her career to cope. Yes it hurts us to watch that play out, but again I've seen that happen. Heck, I've been in her shoes. I've been hurt by people and have pulled away from them and regretted it afterwards.
- I don't like that Tracy died. But that's part of the unfairness of our fallen world. People die too early and too often. We lose those we love and those that mean the most to us. It's painful and it sucks to grieve but I know Ted loved her so much.

Where is what I did like:
- I like the Barney found a woman he loved. It shows that being a parent can really change a person for the better.
- I like that Ted went after Robin. I believe he fully loved Tracy with everything he had. But I'm glad to see he let his heart move on.

Here is what I loved:
- How Marshall and Lily were always there for everyone. Lily was there for Robin and even let her go do her own thing. Marshall was always there for Ted throughout their lives. It is these two that really show me what deep friendship looks like.
- How Ted's kids told him to go after Robin. It shows me that they are his prorities, his love, and what he cares most about. Yes he loves he wife and Robin but at the moment, he is crazy about his kids. And if they had said no - I know he wouldn't have even pursued Robin. That is an amazing portrayal of a dad.
- How the show produced 3 really amazing pictures of father figures. Marshall, Ted, and Barney would do anything for their kids - were a part of their kid's lives, and loved them so much. In a world with a lot of crappy fathers, the showed that there are really good ones out there.

So to the HIMYM - thank you for showing us that life is messy and doesn't always get wrapped up easily. Thank you for nine years of laughter, of tears, and joys and frustrations. No, the show wasn't perfect all the time, but much like our lives, I enjoyed being a part of it.


Do You Trust Me

I have recently started a position as a full time InterVarsity staff and I've spent a majority of my time fundraising. I've stepped off campus - away from students and from campus ministry in order to do this. So naturally I'm feeling a lot of things: over the past two months I've felt frustrated, angry, sad, joyful, happy, elated, lonely, passionate, focused, tired, distracted, energetic, excited, and many more. It's been an up and down season and until today I couldn't even begin to write about it.

It started with my dear friend, Erna's blog. In her Process of Disappointment, she reflects that disappointments often lead us to discover deep truths about ourselves. She also shared that there is power as we share those disappointments with others, not to throw ourselves pity parties but that we may receive the comfort and a good ass-kicking from our community around us. So here I go - finally starting to share.

I've always seen myself as fairly strong and resilient. I can handle many things that are thrown at me. I've been through a good deal - from my parents divorce, to a lot of rejection in college, to a terrible teaching experience, and many other things have shaped and formed me as a strong, independent woman of God. It can be very easy to trust in myself because I am strong, I am independent, and I am self-reliant.

But I have also faced many disappointments over the years that have spilled into present day. I wouldn't always deal with them because I wanted to come across as strong and independent but inside I was really feeling the frustration and anger at what I wanted to happen - didn't.
  • When I prayed to God for years to bring my parents back together after a divorce, I was left disappointed. 
  • When my dad would frequently be late or have to canceling spending time with us, I left was disappointed. 
  • When I wasn't asked to prom in either junior or senior year of high school, I hate to admit it, but I was disappointed. 
  • When I wanted to be in a relationship with someone but it was clearly not going to work out, I was left disappointed. 
  • When now I see so many of my friends and students getting into relationships, getting married, having babies and I'm still single, I'm left disappointed. 
Many of those I have reconciled but there are some deep places in my soul that still are affected by those disappointments. During this season of fundraising God has began to work on the common theme between all of them: trust. So many things that disappointed me lead to a lack of trust of Jesus. Over the years I developed a deep fear that God will not care of me and that only person I can trust is myself. During college (and post-college) I engaged with Jesus on that a lot that and I thought I had worked it all out but God was inviting me to a deeper level of trust with him.

For in the past I might have thought it was the individual event that was a disappointment but they all lead back to deeper lack of trust of God's goodness. I might have thought I was disappointed that my parents didn't get back together, what I really felt was that God didn't hear my prayers. When my dad had to leave early from a school play, what I really felt was that I wasn't good enough for him to give his time to. When I wasn't asked to prom, I felt I was beautiful enough to even be considered. When this relationship didn't work out, I thought God was ignoring this desire I had. When I'm still single into my mid-twenties, what I really feel is that there must be something wrong with me.

So Jesus has been asking me the question: Do you trust me?

I'm reminded of the scene in Aladdin - when Aladdin asks Jasmine to jump on the flying carpet and go on an awesome adventure with him. He extends his hand out saying - do you trust me? And that's what Jesus has been asking me daily. When I feel I have no energy left for appointments he asks if I trust he can provide strength. When I fear I no one will give any more he asks if trust he will he provide the finances. When I feel alone he asks if I trust that he is all comfort and will provide friendships. When I feel discouraged he asks if I trust that he is faithful.

Jesus has to ask this every day because my instinct is to say no. I want to do it myself - I want to prove myself as the strong, independent woman, who can do it all - no matter what my mother tells me. I want to be in control. But Jesus is inviting me to not be in control, in fact to relinquish control back to him, and jump on the magic carpet.

In Erna's blog, a friend of her shared this: "She wasn't telling me to pretend everything was fine and put on a happy Christian face. But she was challenging me that my pain wasn't an excuse to dismiss every truth I knew about God." That's what it means to trust Jesus. To longer let my pain or disappointment be an excuse to dismiss every truth I know about God.

And here are some the truths I know about God:
So in those moments when I'm overwhelmed by fundraising, by still being single, by being too busy, by not seeing my students, or by being alone God is giving me an invitation to trust that he will take care of me. He is extending his hand and asking me to go on a ride that I may not know fully where it takes me, but I know that God is in control.

Yeah it may sound a bit cheesy but it also sounds kind of exciting. And I like that.


Malibu Night Sky

Manuscript prep and studying turned into late night adventure photography. I love living in Southern California.


LA Marathon

Two of my students ran the LA Marathon today. Here are some highlights: 

Before the race started.

The Elites

Sarena and I became volunteers while we waited. She even gave water to a banana.



Jenel and her parents after the race.

The group that came to support. 

Those are real medals. 

Enjoying an post-race burger.


Still Here....

I have not disappeared I promise. I know it's been a while so here are a few highlights:

  • I am in full time InterVarsity staff fundraising mode. It's part of what's been consuming most of time lately. 
  • I've also stepped off campus and away from a lot of ministry structures to devote to fundraising. That is really difficult. 
  • I recently traveled to San Diego to see Pentatonix in concert. It was AMAZING! Their music has been on repeat ever since. 
  • I watched a lot of the Olympics during February. I learned a lot about Ice Dancing this year. They have these things called "twizzles" - which is like synchronized spinning. 
I am working on some of fundraising reflections to share as that has been consuming most of my time as of late. But in the meantime - take part in my weekly obsession of Pentatonix and watch their new video.