Friday, 21 April 2017

The Big Issue

Today Jose and I went to Cambridge for a little shopping. Mostly for other people's care packages, but we did splurge a little for some fresh tea and coffee to make at home. As we walked around Cambridge, we noticed more homeless people camped out on the streets than usual. Heartbreaking for sure, but rest in knowing we always give a little something when we see them. We also saw a lot of people selling magazines and tours around know those street vendors. One of the guys was very persistent and wouldn't let us cross the street, he wanted to give us a tour around. After Jose politely told him no thank you, we know our way around Cambridge I've (Jose) lived here for 12 years now; he took the hint and let us cross the street so we could be on our way. Let's be honest...or rather I'll be honest. Those people annoy the tarnation out of me! And I avoid eye contact at all costs. Jose, well being the friendliest man on the face of the planet makes eye contact with EVERYONE and says hello with a warm smile on his face just inviting you in for a heart to heart. And if you're really lucky and stop to conversate with him, he will give you the biggest hug to carry with you for the rest of your day. And that's usually how we end up in those awkward situations with people wanting to sell us everything and not taking no for an answer. I even told Jose, just don't make eye contact. He said, but I'm just saying hi Mamacita.

I'm not sure how to argue against that and since I'm sure I'm now the world's worst person by avoiding eye contact, I just stay quiet and endure those awkward moments. However, there are times when a hello and a smile are all that's needed to make someone's day. (Jose teaches me so much about life, and here's a perfect example)

For those of you living in the UK, when you go out in a city and you see people selling magazines, be sure to pay attention to the names of them. There is one that some sell called The Big Issue (pictures down below) The people that sell them have fallen on hard times and are looking for a hand up for themselves and their families. They buy these magazines for a £1.25 and sell them for £2.50. Some of these people live in shelters, some of them live in low income housing, and some might even live on the streets. Jose and I always buy these magazines when we see anyone selling them. Today was one of those times. Except it was different in a way that broke my heart. When Jose stopped to buy the magazine from the man, the man looked at him and said, "O good I'm not invisible".....on a street FULL of people coming and going as they pleased. Most with arms loaded with shopping bags full of their latest purchases, I realized I was one of those people. I didn't see the man selling the magazines until Jose stopped. I had my blinders on, I contributed to making that man feel invisible. It really melted away my "let's get what we came to get and avoid eye contact with everyone because I don't feel like talking to anyone today" attitude.

I thought of all the times that I've ever felt invisible in a crowd of people. All the times, I wished someone would acknowledge my existence because I have something to offer. It's a terrible feeling, one that I know everyone reading this can relate to. Today changed me. It's pretty ironic this whole day really. I've just recently lost the people I thought were my friends. They have stopped talking to me after I reached out to them for help, but I guess I wasn't "holy" enough for them to make the effort to help me. So for the past month or so, I have felt invisible, and I have been praying to God to send me a friend, or at least someone that I can help asking for nothing in return. Today, my heart was humbled and my eyes have been opened wide. So consumed with my self-pity concerning everyone that hurt me, that I never looked up to see the eyes that needed my smile. God answered my prayer today. And he probably answered it yesterday and the day before too. I just never took the time to stop and look.

The saying is true, If you need a friend, go out and be a friend. If you need love, go out and give love first. I always knew the saying, but I've never actually felt it in my heart as raw as I did today. I once heard a poem that goes a little something like this...

                                    I didn't exist for a moment today, for when we passed you
                                     looked away. Not acknowledging my needs or even my existence.
                                    But in the pain I realized how many times I've avoided eyes that
                                    were reaching out to me.
                                                                                                    -Author Unknown

Life Lesson #3,989,486-LEARNED

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Dressed to Impress

Let me tell you a little story before I begin the actual post. When I was a little girl I was afraid to raise my hands in church during worship. I wanted to, I really did. I was just afraid someone would see me and come up to me after church(as they so often did) and tell me I wasn't worthy enough to lift my hands to God because I had lied that week or I made bad grades on my report card. One day I was in the car with my big sis Sondra. She was my go to when I needed advice and the godliest person I knew back then. I asked her about the whole hand raising thing, really poured out my heart to her. She sat there and said, "well, Melissa, look at it this way." "When we go to church and worship God, he doesn't see our human bodies, he doesn't see what we wear or how many times we lift our hands. He only sees our hearts. And if your heart is right with him and you genuinely worship him with your heart, you don't HAVE to lift your hands. God knows." (do you see why I went to her for advice now?) So from then on and even still today, when I go before God in anything I do, I picture in my mind a clear see through body with a bright red beating heart right in the center and I know that that's the only thing I need to have right. Not my makeup, not my clothes, not even my hair.

Today, I'm going to probably step on some toes and hurt some feelings. Please know that it's not my intention in any way, and this post is not pointing fingers. In fact, I am just as guilty of doing these things I'm about to talk about. I just realized how "normal" it was for me and now that I don't do it, it seems so vain and I wonder how did I not ever see what I was doing.

As most of you know, today is Easter. The beloved holiday where we celebrate the ressurection of Jesus! I know, I'm pretty excited too. I laid in bed this morning and I thanked God for sending his son to die for me so that I can be worthy to enter heaven even after all the things I've done and no doubt will most certainly do in just one day's time. Then I opened up facebook and instagram for my quick morning scroll to make sure no one died and to catch up on any big happenings in the world...because let's face it, social media is a dumping ground for all of our garbage (definitely guilty of this). And the first thing I saw was a picture of a sweet couple headed to church with their little one, the husband had his bible in his hand and the caption read, "I tried to get us to match a little today"..."aww how sweet they look", I thought. Keep scrolling, I see another picture of another family all matching for easter service at church, with the caption, "We would have all matched today, but (kids name's) bowtie didn't come in on time. Darn you amazon." "Such a cute family anyway" I thought. More scrolling, more pictures of matching families headed to church to celebrate this amazing day. It was really a cuteness overload on social media.

So I shut down my facebook, came in the kitchen and made my breakfast and tea all the while reminiscing on past easter's growing up. My favorite thing about Easter, (after I got too old to hunt easter eggs) was going dress shopping and buying that one colorful spring dress that would get me so many compliments from my friends and the adults at church. (because what girl doesn't love shopping for clothes and then receiving compliments for them? I know I do) But then I also got to thinking how I'm not going to a church house this morning to celebrate, and I haven't been in a very long time. Instead I am wearing one of Jose's giant hoodies, in the biggest pair of sweatpants I own, and my hair is in absolute disarray at the top of my head. If someone saw me right now, they would say "Melissa, you look rough." But what if I did walk down to the church up the road from me just the way I am? Pretty sure I would be sent packing right quick in a hurry.

I don't mean to sound condescending, but why do we dress up all matchy matchy for Easter? The last time I checked, Jesus didn't care what we looked like on the outside right? I mean unless things have changed, I have been away from mainstream christian thinking for over 5 years now. <----sarcasm---->

I kind of feel like Easter has become a holiday of vanity. I mean, that's the message we portray when we have to match for church right? Why else would we do it, if not for the compliments of "how cute" "I love your dress" etc. In doing so, we take the focus off of why we really celebrate Easter and we bring it to ourselves. What ever happened to come as you are? When did we start leaving the house making sure our makeup and hair were perfect before we made sure our hearts were right before God? (again so so guilty of this!) Jesus didn't die on the cross dressed in his fanciest suit and tie, nor did he ressurect dressed to the nines. He was naked on the cross. His body and soul bared to the world for everyone to see and mock. He was vulnerable and bloody, not dressed to impress. No other image has ever brought me to my knees in humility, no other face has ever made me feel so worthy of being loved. No other scarred hand has ever reached out to me in my darkest hour and made me feel so whole. It takes all my easter dresses and hours upon hours that I spent in front of my mirror making myself up to perfection, and puts them to shame.

Today as I sit in my living room and I spend time with God, in the mess that I am, God only sees my heart. There will be no pictures of Jose and I in our sunday best posted on facebook, no easter egg hunts to participate in (although, chocolate WILL be consumed at some point today if it hasn't been already...I'll never tell). Just me, raw and real, coming as I am to love on my Jesus and to bare my soul to him as he did for me. Maybe instead of dressing to impress this easter, we can make sure we match our lives to that of Jesus. Starting with the inside, heartbeat to heartbeat.

Happy Easter Everyone. Be blessed today. xoxo

Monday, 23 January 2017

A Reason to March

So much comes in and so very little comes out.  I try to get my brain to start connecting with my mouth.  I have a voice too you know and now I've got something to say, if you've got a weak stomach for honesty,  then nows the time to look away.

Turn your heads from the truth as it screams from the homeless man's eyes, though he fought for your freedom, you got the better deal from life. Today, homeless soldier, I March for you.

Deafen your ears to the cries of the unborn babies that never had a chance, you felt your life was more important so you took a pill and  passed it quietly  with just some minor cramps. Today, aborted children, I March for you.

Close your eyes to the women in the city standing under the red lights, not caring if they were kidnapped as you look for the perfect one to give you a good time. Today, sex trafficked victim, I March for you.

Clench your fists tight at the drug addict needing a hand of grace, they get high to escape their torment, it helps to numb the pain.  Today, struggling drug addict, I March for you.

Keep your head down as you pass them, their cries for help reflected on their faces, your problems are much more important, but a simple smile is all it would have give them hope, to save their life. Today, Suicide victims and everyone with depression, I March for you.

You see my point is pretty simple, our bodies were made for a purpose, but not in the way you'd ever see, because in the end it's not about anyone else its always been about me, me, me.

You have arms to be extended to those who need your hope, you have feet to walk beside them when life gets to be too tough for them to cope. You have a shoulder for them to lean on and maybe shed a few tears, you have eyes that can see their suffering as their pleas fall on deaf ears.

You have a voice that can be heard, and it's not because of your gender or your race,  but because you want to use your whole body as it was created to finally make a change.  Change of perspective, change of heart and change of mind.

You March for equal rights but turn your head away from those three feet from you with a cardboard sign begging for a warm place to stay.

So tell me who is the real oppressor now?
Today, marching oppressors, I March for them.

-Melissa Garcia

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Why Me Lord?

Why me Lord? What have I ever done, to deserve even one, of the blessings I've known?

That's the song my daddy used to sing in church when I was a little girl. It was my favorite song to hear him sing because he put so much heart into it and often times, he would finish it with tears rolling down his cheeks.
It is also, the song that I sang on my way home from my walk today.
I have been struggling lately trying to fight for what's right and to make sure justice is the outcome as a result of my best warrior like efforts. All of my life I've tried to fight for the right thing even if it meant standing alone. And all of my efforts to do the right thing have only backfired and I was the one left wondering what I did wrong.

Funny thing about doing what is right. There are less and less people in the world that want to do what's right because it isn't easy and as I've learned, the outcome is not always what we want. The thing I've been fighting for, the outcome wasn't what I wanted and the right decision was not made. Simply because people cannot be bothered with the truth of things and are inconvenienced by my pain. So under the rug it was swept, and I ended up being the one who was punished while the wrong doer was promoted.

I came home from work this morning feeling rather defeated and dumb. This afternoon, I decided to go for a walk instead of sitting in the house and wallowing in my emotions. I talked to God on my walk. I laid it all out on the table. My anger, my anxiety, my doubt, confusion, hurt, pride, and my sadness at the cowardliness of the people that turned a blind eye to my pain. As I was talking to him, I kept asking why me God? Why does this always happen to me? Why do I even bother doing the right thing anymore? Have I not learned my lesson by now? I kind of ran out of things to say at one point and so I just stood there in this big open field with the sunset to my front and not a person to be seen for miles. And I listened.

As I stood there with the wind blowing on my face and my heart full of pride, he said to me, "Why not you?" Uhhh, come again God? I'm sorry but the wind was in my ears and I could have sworn you just said, Why not you...yep, that's what he said. It didn't take me very long to understand what he meant and to realize what a fool I had been this entire time. He's been using me my entire life for a purpose that is far greater than what my tiny mind can comprehend. I stood there for a good minute soaking in God and his truth and I was humbled by his love for me. He entrusted me with his gifts, his passion, his truth, and love to go out and fulfill HIS purpose, not mine. And there I was questioning him, why me?  I should be honored to be chosen to be used by him, instead I was worried about when I, ME, HOLY MELISSA, MELISSA GARCIA WHO SPEAKS THE NAME OF JESUS OUT LOUD AND DEMONS WILL FLEE would see MY justice!

God showed me that it simply does not work that way. And I'm not sure why it has taken me 29 years to get it, but I understand now. I had to relinquish my right to be right. The battle belongs to God, I am but a tiny soldier in his army and he commands my every footstep, my every breath, my very heartbeat. He didn't leave me when I was abandoned at birth, and he's been with me my entire life. He's never left me, nor has he forsaken me.

I walked out to that field today as a victim of injustice asking God why me. Never did I imagine I would be walking home in victory asking God the same question, this time with a completely different meaning. A different perspective is sometimes all we really need.

Tell me Lord, what did I ever do, that was worth love from you or the kindness you've shown. Lord help me Jesus, I've wasted it so help me Jesus, I know what I am. Now that I know I've needed you so help me Jesus, my soul's in your hand.

Why me Lord?

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Matters of the heart

I haven't spoken to you in four years. And today, when I called you, the tears were instant. Even now I cannot stop them from racing down my face. Thank you for making the effort, even when I did not, to reach out to me and heal the broken places with your wisdom and unconditional love. For being the best role model of who God is and how powerful his love and grace is to unworthy people like me. I'm glad we have reconnected, although you have never been far from my thoughts, especially around the holidays when I'm making a million loaves of potica.

In case you all are wondering who I am talking about, it's my Auntie Bobbee. She is a nun, yes I'm serious. And she is my favorite person in the whole wide world. She is THE reason (her and Auntie Georgia) that I am who I am. The reason I had the courage to run cross country in Jr. High even though I wasn't that great. The reason I played soccer, the reason I  play the flute, the reason I write, the reason that I have courage to just go for what I want in life even if I fail. At least I can say I tried. She taught me to have manners, how to be a lady, and that life really is one big adventure if you are brave enough to embark on it.

There hasn't been a week that has gone by in my life that I haven't spoken to her through email at the very least. Until four years ago when I moved to England. There was a big miscommunication and I stopped talking to her. She messaged me on fb and gave me her number a few weeks ago and I called and kept missing her, but today, I got to talk to her. And it was like nothing had changed, like we never skipped a beat in that four year gap. I asked her for her forgiveness and she forgave me as we updated each other on life. Before we got off the phone, she said to me what she has always said to me in every email and every conversation we've ever had in my 29 years of life. She said I just want you to be happy my little peanut. I'm glad that you are finally happy.

In all of my life, I've never heard her bring up my past. I've never had her rub my mistakes in my face, and I've never known her to turn her back on me because of a disagreement, misunderstanding, or different views.  I.e. She is catholic, I am not. But I've always gone to mass with her whenever I visited her every summer, and she has even come to church services with me when she would visit.

I write this today because I hope you will listen when I urge you to not waste the time you have left on this earth posting another facebook status about the election. What is done, is done. What will be, will be. Sign off of social media for a while and go call that family member you haven't spoken to in a while. Just say hey, I love you and I miss you. Don't talk about politics, talk about life. Talk about your dreams, make amends if they need to be made, and have a laugh from memories that you share. It's not about political views, religious views, but heart views. We are only guaranteed TODAY, RIGHT NOW, THIS MOMENT. Please don't waste it.

In the words of Dionne Warwick, "What the world needs now is love sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of." 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Whole Pieces of Broken

About a year ago, I had a friend I was really close to stop talking to me. Just up and disappeared out of my life. I tried to reach out to her numerous times and she just ignored my messages. So I stopped messaging her and waited for her to come to me instead. And I waited, and waited. I beat myself up for a while wondering what in the heck could I have done wrong to make her not want to talk to me anymore? We didn't get into a fight or have a disagreement. One minute everything was great and the next I didn't exist. Well time went on and she deployed for six months. Jose and I kept in contact with her husband to make sure he was getting through the deployment ok, and to hang out with his totally cool mom! (Seriously though, she rides a motorcycle. It doesn't get much cooler than that) Then June rolls around  and said former friend comes home. Well the deployment took its toll on her marriage and some truths came out, gossip flew around, and overnight this gals reputation was tarnished, and her marriage was over.

I can't say I wasn't mad at her as well, because I was. One day Jose and I saw her as we were out and about and my immediate reaction was to stretch out my arms and give her a big hug. Yea, I know. I was yelling at my body to stop, don't hug her, she betrayed you and everyone around her. (insert the rest of those horrible judgy thoughts we all have). But I hugged her and asked how she was doing, she said good just getting dinner for her and her husband. It hit me then that she didn't know that I knew (her husband had left her already) and at that moment my anger and judgement melted away into sadness. As I said goodbye and wished her well, I looked back and all I saw was a broken woman. She's been on my heart ever since.

There have been many a time in my life where I've messed up, where I've been confused about who I was, where I thought no one was watching so what's it going to hurt if I'm having a good time?

And every time my sins were found out and I was put on public display to be shamed for the rest of my life. Except I had Jesus. He forgave me when I repented and changed my ways. He gave me mercy, he showed me grace. All of which by anyone else's account, I was undeserving of and probably would have stoned me to death if they could have. There were a few people that distanced themselves from me but they still loved me. They came around once I came around to my senses and convictions. They didn't see me as this horrible person who was deserving of desertion. They saw me as the broken mess that I truly was and they loved me back to being whole.

It's a common story really. Most of us can relate or have/are going through it right now. But I'll tell you what I've learned from my brokenness with the best country analogy that I've got.
Have you ever been in an old barn? You know how some of the boards are broken in various places? At night, all you can see is the broken boards and the cold that they let in to the barn. But watch the sun rise through those pieces of brokenness and watch how the light hits the hay or the inside of the barn. You know the kind I'm talking about, light so perfect that you can see all the dust particles floating in the air where it falls. It's stunning isn't it? For a while you forget about the broken boards and just stand in awe at the beauty you are surrounded by.
That's kind of like life. If we take the time to see and appreciate the beauty in our brokenness, only then can we help our neighbor who is fixing his broken barn boards with money, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.

You see I wasn't mad at my friend because of what she did. I was mad at her because she reminded me of who I used to be. I judged her like I was judged and in that moment I looked back at her and I saw how broken she was, I also saw a little bit of me. To deny her any grace and forgiveness would be to deny that I had ever made mistakes in my life. And that folks would be very hypocritical of me to do. I pray that when others hurt us or dissapoint us, we are slow to judge their mistakes and instead see them as broken people who simply need Jesus.

In other words, take those people to your barn and show them the beauty that lies in being broken. God's love is the only love that will ever put our shattered pieces back together and make us whole again.
Ah, mercy, isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Guess Who?

Recently, I had someone tell me that I am too much. I am too honest, too critical, too deep, too intense. And it's no wonder I couldn't hang on to friends. Yea, I was hurt but not surprised. This person (who will later be named) has always told me my entire life that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't smart enough. I will never be loved because of my past, God doesn't love me because I don't go to church, but if I dare go to church, O how they will judge you and God could never love you if you're not perfect. They magnified my flaws to my face, day in and day out, never letting me forget that I'm just not pretty enough. My boobs are too small, my butt is too big, and those hips, are dispraportionate to my tiny frame. You're ugly, you're awkward, you're weird. Why can't you just be more like your sisters Melissa? That's what they would always tell me.

As I got older, the insults and hurtful words got worse. You've sinned so much, you're too far away from God for him to ever reach you again, let alone hear your prayers. God doesn't listen to sinners when they pray. All this pain you're going through is your fault, remember who I told you you were when you were little, your own mother abandoned you, why would anyone else want to be in your life, you're pathetic for even trying. You were born with a disability, you'll never be smart enough to get through college, let alone make something of your life. You'll never be successful like your sisters.

Do you get the point yet? Ready for me to name that horrible person who traumatized me my entire life?

It was me.

You see although I have actually had someone tell me some of these things for most of my life, a lot of it is just me.
I bet you re-read through those two paragraphs just now and realized that you can relate. And I also hope that you are strong enough to tell that awful person to hush up, let me tell you a thing or two bud.

Yes I might be awkward, dispraportionate, too intense at times, and my story isn't a story of success in the worldly sense, but one of tiny accomplishments every day that I consider to amount to a successful day.

I've learned to embrace my flaws and differentiate between the lies I was told as a child, plus the lies I tell myself, and see myself for who God and my husband see me as. Perfectly imperfect.

I hate that I'm so clumsy. But my husband thinks it's just the most hilarious thing in the world. I've learned to laugh at my clumsiness now because, well, it actually is pretty funny. (seriously, I once cut my finger pretty badly with a spoon!)
I still look in the mirror some days and hate my reflection, but my husband looks at me and says, "with a little makeup, you'll get there." Ha, just kidding guys. Had to see if I still had an audience. Moving along.

**See what I did there? I put in something random and funny in the middle of a serious blog post! If that isn't awkward, I don't know what is. But did it make you laugh? I bet it did. If so, then you're the reason I can embrace my awkwardness. I still see my self as awkward but in a fun way. I've learned to be my awkward self and make people laugh, and I get a good chuckle out of it as well. I was once told that I should be a comedian. I told the lady, I am, that'll be $80 please! badum boom! Ok, sorry. I'll be serious now.**

My point is, you are your own worst critic and if you wouldn't want other people to say it about you, then certainly don't say it to yourself!  Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. That to me includes my thoughts as well. If we constantly tell ourselves that we are nothing, not good enough, etc. then that is what we will become. But if we stomp on those lies and see the beauty in who God made us, then O the things we will accomplish.
There is no way I can fully love on Jesus but hate the body he put me in. That's like telling God, hey I know you created me in your image and all, but you're kinda ugly. God your nose is too big, you have way too much cellulite, and your feet are two different sizes! This is unacceptable, you must change to look like everyone else! I HIGHLY doubt we would dare tell God that, so WHY DO WE SAY THESE THINGS TO OURSELVES? (yes I am yelling at you!).

Just take a minute today and write down all of the things that you love about yourself and why. Not what you love that your husband loves about you, or your mom loves about you. Nope, write what YOU love about YOU. You may just be surprised.

-Melissa Out xoxoxoxo