Category Archives: From Mel’s Desk
Don’t you think it’s a wee-bit strange that we keep going through the same old thing?
We keep making the same old mistakes, we lose our faith then we lose our way and it goes on and on and on and on….
I am working with an account in Orlando that is in addition to my the responsibilities of the current client account in Tampa. Therefore, Interstate 4 is my stomping grounds and I have each exit almost memorized…how many gas stations, where’s McDonalds? is there a Walmart, etc.
This account has kept me so occupied and my whole life has been engaged as we’ve rolled out this new account. I find my brain never turning off, even in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes my brain is working so fast that i find myself never being able to think about anything else.
So, in my little yellow super-charged sports car, I drive back and forth each week from St Pete to Orlando. Of course, those who are first-hand witnesses of my aggressive and intense driving on the road can attest to how scarey it can be with me behind the wheel.
but… I HAVE TO GET TO WHERE I’M GOING and need to get there quicker than everyone else on the road who have destinations, don’t I?
Within 2 weeks, my Van was broken into which cost me $600. My other car needed $1000 worth of tires, brakes and maintenance. If that wasn’t enough, I was stopped for speeding and ticketed twice in one week.
I was devastated! These traffic tickets are very expensive and can wreak havor with the insurance premiums.
So, I came to God asking WHY WHY WHY? Am I not a good person God? I’m faithful to church and give to my local church and community. And you know God, I AM the Praise & Worship leader at our church AND i might add that I’m in a Christian band. (spoken with true humility, right?)
So, why didn’t I get a break on this God? I know I was speeding but a lot of people speed and never get caught. So, why me?
As I petitioned God for the answer, I found myself asking, “What’s the lesson to be learned in all this?”
So clearly, the voice from God spoke and here’s what I heard:
YOU ARE AVOIDING ALL THE SIGNS IN YOUR LIFE
NOT JUST THE SPEED LIMIT SIGNS
BUT YOU’RE IGNORING YOUR HEALTH
YOUR RELATIONSHIP, YOUR CHURCH, YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR HOME…
YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN AND SPEND TIME WITH ME TO HEAR GOOD THINGS
TO LEARN GOOD THINGS AND TO BE AT PEACE WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
I encourage us all not to ignore the signs in our lives that tell us to be balanced and learn to manage our time spent in life.
So many times I’ve heard people tell me, “I never hear from God…I can’t hear him speaking to me…” But God IS speaking! God speaks to us in unconventional ways and we need to be patient and listen.
So, now…as I drive down the road, I utilize the cruise-control function of my car and keep it at the speed limit all the time. And as others pass my by, whizzing crazily around me… I just wave to the students…the students that still have a lesson to be learned.
Love & hugs,
My job as Program Manager for Managed Service Provider services to client companies has proven to be very successful and I thank God every day for being employed.
I’ve been in staffing for almost 14 years now and have recruited many people for jobs. I’ve always enjoyed dealing with the diversity of people from a large spectrum of skills, background and experience.
I think most people in staffing arenas could write a compilation of stories of their own experiences in dealing with candidates and perhaps even publish an entire book on those experiences. In fact, I know of a particular HR Manager who is currently writing her own novel and modeling it after stories and xperiences in the HR field.
Recently I acquired a new client account and am dealing with the Finance and Procurement departments as we implement a new program. It’s such a different dynamic to work with these folks as they are far more analytical, data-detailed. They can run circles around me in Excel spreadsheets with pivot tables, v-lookup, etc.
You see, most client accounts are driven from the Human Resources group for our program, so this is definitely different for me.
The challenge I have is dealing with numbers and data instead of people. I can certainly run cost savings analysis, and market rate reports, but my math is simple in logic compared to their formulas.
Just recently we had a conf call where the VP responded to my report as being “simplistic” and not very detailed. YIKES! Honestly, I’ve found myself questioning my intelligence and education since dealing with these people.
You see, I didn’t get a college degree. I chose as a single mom, to stay in the trenches and work LONG hours and climb a most tedious path to my current position. Was it the best route to take? Absolutely not! Had I made the choice to get my education, perhaps the climb would not have been so difficult.
Nevertheless, here I sit, wondering if maybe I’m never going anywhere further in my career because of my education is less than my 20+ years experience in management?
A good friend of mine, Sheryl, came by my house last week and I was sharing my concern. I love it as she stated, “Hey Mel, just live your life one day at a time. ” She went on to say, “ The way I see it, I’m living Sheryl’s Big Adventure and that’s what gets me up every morning.”
Ha! I laughed at her but found myself smiling as I walked back into the house.
I am livng an MBA (Mel’s Big Adventure) so that makes me an MBA qualified person!
yay for Me…
This past Saturday, I visited Rowena’s store, Accents by Josie, in downtown St Petersburg. The store sells boutique clothing and some home interior items and I always enjoy checking out their new inventory.
In the very back is a long mirror mounted on the wall which reaches from the floor up to the ceiling. It’s beautifully adorned and would be an awesome addition to anyone who has a home with high ceilings.
The unique thing about this mirror is it’s disportionate reflection of it’s subjects. As you stand there, your full-length view casts a facade to make you look incredibly and porportionately thin. It’s wonderful and is a good boost to anyone’s esteem who needs to view themselves a little “lighter” around the middle.
As I stood there, admiring my thin little self, I started humming, “I feel pretty… oh so pretty”. It was so automatic that I didn’t even realize I was humming this song for the first few lines. Once I realized the tune, I said out loud, “look at me…I’m so pretty!” then started laughing.
So, here’s my question..
Does Pretty equate to Thin?
Are all the thin people beautiful and chubby people are not beautiful?
Who made up this rule?
Don’t get me wrong. I think we should take care of ourselves and do what we can to live as long as possible by exercising and making educated choices in our diet plans.
but I hope that we never forget how important to find beauty in everyone, including ourselves, regardless of size and beauty.
Psalms 139 reads…
Even in my mother’s womb you were there. You created my inmost being and knit me together and called me by name.I encourage everyone to wake up every morning with a song in their heart and words in their mouth as they leave home to face their world…
I praise you Oh God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
and it’s a good thing!
When my partner broke up with me, it was the most devastating thing! I didn’t see this “bombshell” coming and was not prepared for the heartache. I couldn’t understand how and why I couldn’t see this coming. I’d always seen myself as a pretty perceptive kind of person. But this event ”smacked” me upside the head and left me reeling in some emotions that I had not felt before.
Of course, it was obvious that after we broke up, I would need to move out. So I rented a room from one of my dear friends, Tony. He was so gracious to fix up a room in his big 4 bedroom bungalow house in old south Tampa that was quaint and very home-like. I was very comfortable and felt secure to be with such a good friend.
Every night after work, I would run home and change into my jeans and go to a local recording studio to work on recording my second CD. We would work until the wee hours of the morning, then I’d wearily get into my car and drive home.
Once I left the studio parking lot of the studio, I would go to the stop sign and could either turn to go back to Tony’s, my new home. Or I could turn the other way and drive by where my partner lived.
Most times, I would choose the latter. but WHY!???
Why would I want to drive by the house and see someone else’s car sitting in the driveway?
Was that to drive the wedge in my already broken heart?
Was it my way of trying to find closure by seeing that my life with this person were done and over?
My relationship with this person was surely over and I needed to resolve to this outcome. But I found it so hard to resist driving by and seeing and feeling that rejection once more as it stabbed me and brought me down another notch in my already failing self esteem.
So those nights as I would make the wrong choice by turning to drive by one more time, I someitmes felt like I was starting be in borderline stalking mode.
One night, I left the studio and once again headed to the stop sign, which was my crossroads for decision this particular night. As I pulled up to the intersection trying to decide which way to turn, I heard this still small voice, “Mel, you don’t go that way anymore. I have closed this door and you need to see the NEW things I’m doing in your life” Next I heard, “Go home, you don’t go that way anymore.”
With that, I turned and went home. I realized that even the heartbreaking experience of losing a relationship may be something that needs to happen so that I can move into the next place that God has planned for me. Of course, I cried all the way home with tears that things were really over and this chapter was closed…tears that I heard from my God, my Friend, my Deliverer…tears that HE spoke to me and cared about me over something that some people would call a small thing.
Perhaps you are sitting in that place where you keep wanting to go back to the old place, the old relationship, the life that God is trying to move you out?
Perhaps God is saying, “You don’t go that way anymore”.
Isaiah 43: 18,19 – Why do you keep looking back? Behold, I’m doing a new thing in you. Can you not see it?
Some days, I would go and pick her up at lunch and we would go to this fabulous Cuban restaurant in town. They made the best chef’ salad I think I’ve ever tasted and I looked so forward to going to that restaurant and ordering MY salad. They used real meat, ham, turkey and roast beef in their salad. They didn’t use the kind of meat that is crunched up and processed to look like meat. No, they used real meat!
Additionally, they used 3-4 differnt types of cheses, onion, olives, banana peppers…the whole works. All this together made for such a delicious lunch for me.
Now, anyone that knows me, is very aware that I’m considered the “salad queen”. Almost every place I go to eat, I order some type of salad. When I particpate in pot luck dinners, I always make the salad, and it is always a big hit. Yes, I think I’m the resident expert on salads.
When I ordered my salad from this particular restaurant, the servings were so large that I would always order a to-go container to put half of the salad away for dinner that night. My roommate liked to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, so it was convenient for me to eat my half-salad when we returned home at night. We were content with me and my salad, and my roommate and her PBJ. All afternoon, I looked forward to going home, relaxing for TV and eating my leftover salad.
This particular day as we took our usual path through downtown Tampa to go home, it was rainy and drizzly and a little cold outside as we pulled up to a red light. There was a lady standing in the inclement weather, assumedly one of Tampa’s homeless people. She stood at the corner, with a shabby dress, salt-n-pepper hair and old black shoes. She look thin and very sad, from what I remember of her that day. The scene was even more grim, only because it was so rainy and drizzly and soon to become dark as she stood outside, with seemingly no place to go for refuge.
So as we sat there at the red light, my roommate said, “Give her your umbrella”. Of course, I reached in the back seat and handed her my umbrella.
Then my roommate said, “Give her some money”. Again, I reached down in my pockets and gave her my cash.
Then all of a sudden, as I’m handing over my cash to this lady outside the driver’s side window, my roommate put something else in my hand, and said, “Here, give her your salad”.
WHAT???? MY SALAD!???
“Give her your salad”, she repeats. “What!?, are you crazy? She doesn’t want my salad!” I cried.
She replied, “she obviously DOES want your salad. Look at her… she’s pulling on the box and you’re not letting go!” As I looked back towards the lady, indeed she was pulling on my salad, but my fingers were relentlessly clutching to my half-box of salad
Now, if you can imagine the scene of two ladies in a white cadillace, sitting at a red light, with a homeless woman standing outside the driver’s side of the car, playing tug of war with a salad container. I’m sure it must have been pathetic and hilarious all at the same time.
My roommate continues, “Give her your salad!” “Why should I give her my salad? You give her your PBJ”, I replied.
She responded, “I would If there was a PBJ in the car.” I said, “Well, that’s convenient for YOU, now isn’t it?”
As it turns out, I lost the battle for my endeared salad , and gave the woman my treasured dinner for the evening. There were fingernail marks on one side of the container where I held so tightly, nevertheless, she got my salad.
WASN’T IT ENOUGH…that I gave her my umbrella? WASN’T IT ENOUGH…that I gave her my cash? WHY THEN… did I need to give her MY salad?
Sometimes, God calls us to give up material things, or asks us to give to others in need. It’s so easy to give up things that are not dear to you. But, can we give up the things that are special and bring pleasure for one small moment in time?
Jesus said, “He who (seeks) to find his life, shall lose it… “He who (seeks) to lose his life, for my sakd, shall find it. Matthew 10:19
Does God want MY Salad? Does he want yours?
This past Saturday, I said farewell to my son, Michael, who is off to serve a second tour in Iraq. I held my emotions in until I got home because I didn’t want him to see my grief.
My grief is because I was there when he returned in 2006 from Iraq and it was one of the worst years of mine & his life as he continued to re-live the events that took place while in Iraq. We will never understand the horrible atrocities our military people have seen in this war. It is horrible and unimaginable and there seems to be a waiting line at most VA hospitals of young men & women, suffering from PTSD and needing help.
I believe the count is up to 17 of his buddies who have given their lives for their country in Iraq. The rest of his buddies that lived are learning that survival doesn’t stop just because they’re back on American soil and away from imminent danger. The survival of night sweats, nightmares, flashbacks have caused many to fight a different type of battle. Some have resulted suffering from severe depression. I would guess the depression stems from their mind desperately trying to process what they saw and experienced.
I recall a song I wrote for Michael years ago when he was 6 years old. He was so afraid of going into deep water and I wanted him to learn to swim. One day at the pool, I carried him out to the deep water, holding him snugly against me. I could hear whimpers as he grasped tightly to me from his fear.
I always sang to my children when they were afraid, or when they were going through a hard time, or to teach them to enjoy taking baths, or doing chores. I made up silly songs all the time.
So this particular day as we wandered out into the deep water, I sang, “Don’t Be Afraid of Tomorrow”. Now at the time, that was not a song that I knew. I was just making it up as I went.
Years later, while Michael was in Iraq, I wrote him and asked if he remembered this song that I eventually ended up writing and recording on my first CD, JustMel.
It comes from Psalms 91
DON’T BE AFRAID
Dont be afraid of tomorrow. Don’t be afraid of the storm
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. The one He placed in your heart
Because He Will Carry You, He will See you through
In the middle of the night when things don’t seem right
He will give you a song, make your feet go on
To run the race ahead, You will be victorious!
Don’t be afraid of the terror by night, the arrow that flies by day
God keeps his eyes on the sparrow, and I know His heart is set on you
Don’t be deceived by the plans and the schemes to draw you off the narrow way
Don’t you Fall…because you’ve been called
Stand up and don’t be Afraid!
God Bless all our children, husbands, spouses and other family members who serve so proudly for us!
Hugs & Blessings,
Every Sunday morning I wake up to my first cup of coffee and my mind is already full of songs. Songs that I will lead our congregation to sing. How do these songs flow together? Are the songs congruent in music, rhythm and words?
I know that seems silly, but it does make a difference to strategically design your Praise service as you’re led by the Holy Spirit, and as you engage your God-given musical skills and abilities. So, I ask the Holy Spirit to use me and guide me to bring the right songs each week.
One Sunday just recently, I was driving to church but felt out of synch. I just couldn’t hear anything definite in my spirit. I felt cold and indifferent. That worried me because I know what power there is in Praise & Worship music. I’ve seen people enter the doors on Sundays looking worn out and beat up from their world and the thoughts in their mind. And I’ve seen those same people begin to smile, clap their hands, cry, lift their hands and sometimes…yes… sometimes, I’ve seen them move their hips and their body with the music. All this, to glorify God. Isaiah 61:3 - He has given us beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
I believe so much in what music can do in lives, so it bothered me this particular Sunday, when I felt so unattached to what we were going to sing that Sunday.
Perhaps it was because I had been in corporate meetings all week and had many work-related things on my mind. Nevertheless, as I drove down the road, I prayed, “God, please help me today because I have nothing to give, nothing to sing, and nothing to share”.
And in that moment, so quietly and so calm, I heard HIS voice say, “OH YES! you DO!” You only need to stir up that gift Mel. It’s in your heart and down deep in your soul. Sometimes you just have to wake it up and allow it to come to surface.
So in those moments when we feel dry and distant, remember that the Spirit of God is ever-present in your soul. Just gotta stir it up. oh yes…you DO!
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
I love that song and all the other songs associated with the Christmas Holidays. And as I hear those songs I think back to my childhood.
I’m so blessed to have parents who embellished the Christmas spirit and allowed us to believe in Santa Claus as children. Some of my greatest and fondest memories of Christmas as a child is when the 4 of us kids would sit in the back seat of a 1964 Pontiac Bonneville and Dad and Mom drove around town looking at the Christmas lights. Me, my sister Sarah, and my brothers, Dennis & Charles would sing all the fav songs of the season in 4 part harmony. Even as kids we were very gifted with a musical ear. Those are memories that stay forever in my heart.
When I grew up and became an adult, there are fond memories as well. When I was married, we were stationed in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy. It was there that although we were SO homesick to be with our own beloved family members, yet we would embrace other people, mostly single men & women, to become as one of our own family.
I would cook for hours to make sure we all had a warm, family Christmas dinner together. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were RICH in love. My children had MANY aunts and uncles back then and were treated…no.. spoiled rotten by all our guests. There was such a sincere, genuine and happy feeling even though we ached inside for our own families back home. Indeed we were all truly grateful to have each other.
I think one of the greatest things when I hear this festive music is the fact that families may act just a little more different towards each other. That people’s hearts are more tender towards other and sensitive to the needs of people outside themselves.
I’ve always said that MUSIC is such a powerful force…able to reach and sometimes even change the hearts of people.
I pray that this wonderful Christmas spirit will be maintained throughout the season and that we’ll all remember it’s all Because of Jesus that we celebrate!
Love & Hugs,
Canaan Band recently had the opportunity to sponsor a Sunday afternoon as part of our home church’s Homeless Ministry.
Every Sunday our lay members volunteer to make soup, sandwiches and prepare other items to take down to the homeless people who hang out in a park in downtown St Pete. This ministry has been alive for the last 8 years by our church and, surprinsingly enough, was breathed to life by the youth department.
As the story goes, it was eight years ago and a very cold evening in St Pete. I know hard to believe…COLD and FLORIDA don’t seem to ever be in the same sentence. Nevertheless, the temperature was unusually near freezing and many homeless people make St Pete their city of residence.
One Sunday night in the Youth Class at Christ the Cornerstone church, one of the teenagers attending the class, and who actually was the son of one of the church’s pastors said, “Why don’t we go up and down the streets and bring a pastry and hot coffee to all the homeless standing on the street corners?” After being a little shocked at his idea, but impressed with this type of notion, the youth leader thought it might be something spontaneous and exciting for the kids to do that night. So, they immediately packed up the coffee and pastries and headed out in a van and traveled up and down the streets passing out coffee.
The blessings were immense! The kids were thrilled! 8 years later… the ministry has grown to feeding 100+ people every Sunday afternoon at Demen’s Landing park.
So after church service one Sunday, we gathered all the friends, partners and families of Canaan Band and made sandwiches, soup, salad and other items, packed them up and headed down to the park.
I, for one, was so thrilled to see so many folks join us that day! It was an incredible feeling to work together for this ministry. It was kind of funny to note that our sandwich-making/packing and soup-stirring skills ventures aren’t quite honed yet! LOL But it was fun to laugh at each other and sing while we’re working, feeling the comaraderie of everyone.
Let’s just say that we probably need to stick to tweaking our musical talents and be content to be mere novices at cooking and packing skills!
Nevertheless, we caravan’d down to the park and met up with some incredible people.
There was this guy who called himself “Stormin-Norman” and claimed to be a pianist. He fell in love with our Canaan T-shirts. So as we were packing up to leave, we felt compelled to give him one of our shirts. He was so happy and said he was definitely part of the Canaan Fan Club. (not that we HAVE a fan club, mind you…but it was a nice gesture anyways)
We were reminded that homeless people aren’t always in their condition due to a fault of theirs. There’s circumstances that they’ve met that cannot be understood or controlled. So, we pray for them and love them just where they are.
HEY! Isn’t that what God does for all of us? Loves us…RIGHT WHERE WE ARE, AS WE ARE…NO JUDGMENTS. JUST LOVE.
Have a blessed day!
As we enter into the holiday season, I’m praying that we all seek peace and warmth from family and friends. The economic conditions that we’re all experiencing could, if you allow it, make you feel helpless in that you won’t be able to purchase and do the things that you’d like for your loved ones.
Remember, TIME is such a commodity in this world! Your time, OUR time is valuable and it’s definitely worth spending that precious resource with those who need your love and attention.
The greatest gift…is our love and TIME!