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Grace & Gratitude

We’ve all heard of “Power Couples” perhaps mentioned in Hollywood or the media, but did you know there is an ultimate “power couple” mentioned in the Bible? Priscilla and Aquila were married ministers who knew the Apostle Paul and worked together as a team in the ministry working to encourage fellow believers in the Lord (Acts 18). Now, that is a true power couple! Another power couple I love and adore is my own Pastors, Rich & Jan. I am blessed to call them both my pastors and my parents! They truly are the modern day example of Priscilla and Aquila, working together in the ministries, their whole lives and hearts intertwined in this calling they have received from the Lord to serve as pastors (and yay for celebrating 40 years of faithful service next month!).

In Psalm 50:23, another “power couple” is found: God says, “The life that pleases me is a life lived in the gratitude of grace, always choosing to walk with me in what is right.”

This passage got the wheels turning inside my head—grace & gratitude? How do they work together? Come to find out through studying other passages like 2 Corinthians 4:19 and Psalm 9:1 that Grace & Gratitude surely do go hand in hand! It’s not enough to have one without the other. They belong together and belong in the life of anyone who is a believer. And there is great POWER released when they operate together.

Let’s look a bit closer: Grace is “charis”: the favor, blessing, kindness of the Lord towards us. He chooses to cancel the curse (we deserve) and instead pour out His blessing on those who call Him Savior. Grace is the gift(s) God gives us because He loves us and calls us His own (Ephesians 2:8).“Gratitude” is being thankful, showing appreciation for, returning kindness. We’ve learned through passages like Hebrews 13:15-16 that our gratitude is a sacrifice of praise. When we have a grateful heart, we thank God for His undeserved graces in our lives. We also, as an action of gratitude, spread His grace to others as well.

Psalm 103:1-5 is a “Gratitude List” in the making. The author, David, urges his own soul to recount and remember the blessings the Lord has given him. He lists them…
forgives all my sins

heals all my diseases

redeems me from death

crowns me with love and tender mercies

fills my life with good things

renews my strength like the eagle’s

(read the passage on your own- it’s so good!)

The same blessings God gave David He has provided for each of His children as well! Now that sounds like a good overflowing amount of grace He has extended to us, doesn’t it? And what’s our response to all these blessings? Gratitude!

I encourage you to write out David’s Grace & Gratitude list and even add some of your own personal blessings from the Lord! Put it up in a spot you will see it—the mirror, the refrigerator, even the lock screen on your phone. Let us recall and remember the gracious blessings our Lord has poured out on us and turn our hearts and words of thankfulness to Him.

God generously pours out His grace on us and we continually life up our sacrifice of praise. Now that’s a “power couple” I want to be linked up to in my life, how about you?

Until next time,

P.S. Here’s a picture of my faithful Pastor parents then & now. I am so grateful for both of them.

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He Will Bring You Through

If I could go back in time– back to that difficult season of my life– I’d like to tell myself something like this:

Keep your chin up, buttercup. ☺️ 

This thing that is trying to break you, God will turn it around and use it to remake you. 

This thing you grapple with, perhaps even feel stifling your breath… it will fade away. Rest in Him, Dear one.

This race you run, this toiling you do… the striving… it will cease. You will rest. 

You will be brought to a place of freedom. 

You will be new, remade, and stronger than before. 

Do you find yourself on a journey you did not plan for? Facing challenges you never imagined being met with? May this resonate and encourage your heart too.

Friend, I wish we could press “fast forward” and skip the scenes of dark nights, problems, challenges, illness, loneliness and devastation. Oh how I wish we could. But the journey, the journey has so much to offer us. 

We come out stronger, refined by the fire. 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:7 

God didn’t send the fire… no, He is good. 

But He turns the storms life directs at us, and in His powerful hand, He transforms them from something that is set out to break us, and instead uses it to make us even stronger in Him. 

I wish I could say it will be easy, friend.

I wish I could say you only have ___ days, ____ hours, and ___ minutes left before you find your freedom, your belonging, your safe harbor. I know this is what I wished when faced a difficult season of my life. I wanted someone to tell me things will be okay. And tell me when, how and where. 

Instead it felt like all I was met with was silence. I even went as far to wonder, where is God in this? Why can’t I feel Him near?

But then, in moments of reflecting back on that difficult season… I see His hand in everything. 

I see that He was there with me through it all.  

I see that while I felt like I was left to weather the storm on my own, actually, I was safe inside His “cabin” the whole time— fire crackling, warm, safe and secure. The storm raged on outside… the rain, snow, and hail pelted the windows. But, I couldn’t have been more safe or more held. Interesting how I couldn’t see that in the midst of it all, but now, now I see. I was safe all along. I was in His hand, and still am. You are too. 

If you find yourself weathering a storm, and feeling all alone, please know friend, God is here. He is MIGHTY TO SAVE.

The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zeph. 3:17

He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Be open to what He sends your way to help. His help can come in so many different shapes and forms: a deep connection with an authentic friend, a specific sermon, Bible studies and prayer groups, art, a Christian therapist, reading a specific passage of the Word, doctors and vitamins/medicine, the beauty of nature— yes, He can use any of these means (and so much more) to help you— to lead you on His path of restoration for you— the whole of you— mind, body, soul and heart. Follow Him there, friend. 

He’s our gentle Aslan (Yes, I learned so much as a tender seven year old about relating to my Savior through the series “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Read it!) He can turn and face the enemy with just a snarl from his teeth, a deep throated growl and the evil goes running. He can also be our friend, companion, champion, and friend. And there is nothing that our “Aslan” likes more than being real with us, and letting us be real with Him. Standing so close, face to face, we can feel his “lion breath” and presence upon us.

“Connect with me”, He says. “Come further and deeper. Come with me.”

We feel the tickle of His breath upon our face as we nod and follow.

In His presence, no matter what outward circumstances we face, we find life, love, safety and belonging. I promise you, friend, if you hold onto Him, delve into the deep with Him, things will be alright. You will make it through. Cement these truths on your heart, they will take you through the rough times: He is with you. You are not alone. Hold tight to Him. He will bring you through.

If you’ve been on shaky ground, only an inch from losing it all… call out to Him. I’d like to promise you that He will swoop in and instantly restore you, redeem you, take you from that situation. But our Aslan… He does things different than we would have chosen. He is gentle, patient, kind, present. He is there when we call out in desperation, when tears drenched our faces. He is here even when when we don’t feel Him here. He will see us through.

I can see now how He wove all together for good… and how now, my feet are settled on His rock. He’ll do the same for you, too.

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.

Psalm 40:2

He brought me to His safe harbor. He will bring you to your safe place too.

Then they were glad because of the calm, And He guided them to their desired haven (harbor).

Psalm 107:30

My relationship is now deeper with Him than ever before. He has been the anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19). He will be for you too, friend. Just reach out to Him. Draw near to Him. It can be as gentle as a whisper or as loud as an angry rant. He hears you, He is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and always… always believe that He is good. 

I know for me, during a tough time, I leaned on the song “King of My Heart”.

  It repeats over and over again, “He is good, He’s good, so good”. I repeated it to myself, my voice wavering at times, my voice strong at other times, my voice just a tearful squeak at other times… He is good. My spirit revived when I sung that tune over and over and over again. Yes, it is true! No matter what it looks like, no matter what we face, He is good. 

And there is nothing in all the world that would cause us to be separated from His love (Romans 8:38). Our job is to keep the communion lines open. He is here, He is good. Repeat that to yourself daily. And again and again. As many times as you need to hear it. Outloud. Let your spirit sing with that truth. 

Not yet convinced? Get to know Him from the Word. See His faithfulness and goodness in the Bible stories in the time line of the Bible… of how He sent His son to redeem us and bring us back to Him. He loves us so much.

Find the passages and promises you are standing on (there are a lot of good scriptures here in this blog to look up and start with now). Mark them in your Bible— and it doesn’t have to be beautiful calligraphy and doodles (it can be if you want it to be though)— underline it, underline it again— stand upon those words with so much force that your Bible now looks like a battlefield— marked, worn, and even tear stained. Write the scriptures down, post them around your home. Believe them in your heart. Speak them out loud. This helps change our focus from the problems instead to the WayMaker. We magnify Him and all else becomes “strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (Hymn: Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus). 

It may seem so long, so hard, insurmountable, but friend, there will be a day you look out from the mountaintop, Aslan by your side, and you’ll say, WOW! Look how far I have come. Look how You’ve brought me through.

His brown eyes will meet yours and you’ll realize not only did He deliver you, but He turned that challenge into the ultimate bonding experience. Your heart and His now beat as one. And that, my friend, is the most wonderful place to be.

Would you like to read more encouragement on this subject? Click on my previous blog posts below:

Until next time, 

PS. Here are some pictures of the latest Mountain hike we conquered last summer on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

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A Reason to Rejoice

What do we act like when we rejoice?  My own example of “great rejoicing” was a few years ago when my sister and I were chosen through a ticket opportunity to have a chance to go to the set of a favorite television show based in the early 1900’s.  If chosen, we’d travel to Canada (an exciting adventure to say the least!), tour the set, and meet the cast. It was such slim odds that we would be chosen, but when we found out we were we did some great rejoicing in the form of screams, hugs, and even dancing a crazy-sisters-only-understand kind of dance (to see pictures and read more of our adventure click here: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/04/23/the-better-path/)

When we “rejoice” it is the release of a burden replaced with a spirit of gladness. This is how it must have been for Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter morning (John 20:11-18). Just forty-eight hours before she had seen her Savior and Lord, the one she devoted her life to, crucified. He was placed in a tomb with guards posted outside. Easter morning, when Mary approached the tomb she found two angels in white, seated where the Jesus’ body had been. “Why are you crying?” they asked. “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned away and saw Jesus there but mistook him for the gardener, until He said, “Mary, it is I.” She cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni (teacher)!” Can you imagine her moment of surprise followed by extreme rejoicing? She went from great distress over Jesus’ missing body to exuberant jubilation when realizing He was alive! She proceeded to run down the mountain yelling all the while, “I have seen the Lord!”  Her rejoicing was loud, excited, relieved, and full of elation. It was perhaps even a bit crazy to those who looked on. She couldn’t care less. She had seen the Lord and He is risen!

When was the last time we let ourselves feel that amazed about the wonder of Easter? I encourage you to read the story and also read it to your kids or grandkids. See fresh and anew the excitement in the story, the pure rejoicing that occurred. Imagine yourself in Mary Magdalene’s shoes. She was delivered from seven demons (talk about deliverance and healing!) and had spent a year’s worth of wages to buy oil and anoint Jesus’s feet, washing them with her hair. What a pure love she had for this man who had rescued her, redeemed her, called her by name.

We, too, are rescued, redeemed and called by name (Isaiah 43:1). How do we react when hearing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection? Is it something we still get excited about? It should be! It is because of His death & resurrection that our future is secure and safe! We have a place of belonging with our risen Savior (John 10:28-29).

Yes, if there is one thing worth getting excited about it is the fact that Jesus conquered the grave and now and forever there is not one thing that can stand between us and Him and eternal life (Romans 8:31-39). Now that is something to rejoice over! 

Let’s rejoice this Easter!

Until next time,

PS. Here are some of our Easter Photos from the past several years. What are some of your Easter traditions?

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God’s Great & Glorious Plan

It’s the arrival of spring! And with it comes the hope for warmer temperatures, sunshine, and less snow (am I right?). I don’t know about you, but something about the spring season inspires me to make a plan. Perhaps it is a plan for a garden, an upcoming celebration, spring break plans or a simple change of schedule at work. What kinds of plans are you making?

As we enter spring and start to make our plans, let us also remember that God has a specific season and plan ready for each one of us! What specific assignment has He given you for this time and place? You may find yourself in a season of growing your marriage or family God’s way, advancing your career, ministering to grandkids or even a season of patience and waiting. How can you seize and use the time that God has given you in the present?

One example from our Bible of a woman who seized her God-given moment was Esther. Her cooperation with God’s plan and being willing to stand up and seize her God-given purpose helped save a whole nation! It’s even remembered and celebrated to this day as Purim. When faced with the decision to stand for the Jews or not, her cousin, Mordecai, encouraged her: “You have come to this position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). She believed it and acted on it, and God’s people were preserved from harm. Do you know the same is true for us? We “have come to this position for such a time as this”. It isn’t an accident that we are in this season, this moment. Each of us are a necessary part of God’s plan to accomplish His purposes. The opportunity is here.

Perhaps we may be tempted to say, “My current season doesn’t feel like it has that much significance”. Oh but friend, it does! God gave us just enough moments to live out the plan He has for us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). And His promise is that He will send us His spirit to be there right alongside us, equipping us all the way (John 14:16-17).

If you don’t yet know the assignment He has for you for this time and place I’d encourage you to spend time with Him. Ask him. Read His Word, listen to His voice, come to church and fellowship with other believers. God will reveal the plan and purpose He has for you now! There is no time to waste. Just like Esther let’s seize the opportunity to step up, link up with the Holy Spirit, and fill the assignment God has placed before each of us.

Be encouraged! You are apart of His plan here on earth- a great and glorious plan!

My blessing for you this week: May you be encouraged in the season and moment you find yourself in. May you listen to the Holy Spirit’s soft whisper to you this week and may you be open to following the Holy Spirit’s nudge. I pray that your eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit and that you are able recognize your part in God’s plans and purposes right here, right now! His plans are great & glorious and you have vital part to play. May you have the courage to step up and seize the moment He has placed before you knowing that it is His Spirit that fills you & enables you.

Until next time,

P.S. One of our plans this spring was to make a new memory with our family at Mount Rushmore! We had never been before. A six hour drive later, here are some of our family pictures:

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Pockets of Grace

When listening to a live Q&A with a favorite author of mine, I was surprised at the answer to one of her questions. “How do you meet your deadline? Do you enforce a certain number of written words each day?” Instead of a typical answer, her voice softened, her light eyes twinkled. “I could give you a list of “to do’s” but what we really need is to say, “grace to me”. ” Robin Jones Gunn, the author, went on to explain how often we need to bless ourselves and give ourselves grace. It’s only then that we find the strength to flow God’s way- and with that, great things happen (even writing of manuscripts). I have found myself repeating this soft and gentle phrase– “grace to me”– when stretched in a hard situation or when demanding more of myself than I can give. What life giving words! 

Isn’t it refreshing to know that no matter where you go, no matter what you face, there is a pocket of grace that will provide for every need? Grace flows down from the throne of heaven, like a rolling, overflowing waterfall—offering just the exact grace and mercy that we need in that exact situation and moment. 

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’

Hebrews 4:16

More than likely–like me– you have gone through a tough season and when looked back upon, you look back in wonder… the grace was evidently there. We think, there was no way that I on my own could have gotten through that time or situation. That’s the divine pocket of grace from God Himself coming up to meet you where you are at. It surely is an “amazing grace”.

They are pockets of grace that pop up at exactly the time when we have run out of options. We have run out of places or people to turn to. Every other option we had is now extinct. Now we find our real and raw hope is in God, Him alone. 

The good news is this “pocket of grace” is deep and wide (remember the song “deep and wide” from our kids church classes? 😉). His grace is deeper, wider, fuller, than we ever knew. It is even big enough to splash in! Come on in, ankle deep, thigh high, and now in over your head! This precious place of grace offers rejuvenation and fortitude from God alone. 

I have experienced this grace time and time again and could list example after example— kids’ births, change of jobs, hospital and situations, even through challenges and deaths of precious family members. How have you experienced His pocket of grace in your life?   If you haven’t experienced this yet I ENCOURAGE you to lean into your Heavenly Father, maker of heaven and earth, next time a situation beyond your control comes up. He will surely give you the grace you need for that moment. 

The key to receiving this wonderful grace comes in learning to be like my childhood golden retriever, Daisy. Let me explain… No matter what the day held for Daisy, no matter how many squirrels she chased, how stinky her fur or breath was, or how put together she was or not… one thing we could count on: Daisy would come inside and let us love on her. We’d get to scratching her ears, petting her, and before we knew it, she’d be so cozied up to us that it was next to impossible to move. She was full out leaning on us.
(Ha ha—reminds me of the movie While You Were Sleeping and the “leaning” comment made famous by that movie 😆).

She was not easily convinced to move from her spot snuggled close to us. It would take a lot (either the hope of a dog bone or a walk) to get her to budge away from her favorite spot.

So how does this apply to us? We got to get to the place that we become the ultimate “lean-ers” on Christ. It’s the spot where we know that we are welcomed, safe, and loved. We learn how to fully lean into God, knowing He is taking care of us, He is with us, and we are not budging from that spot. We are so stuck by His side and loyal to Him, knowing we can fully trust Him. So basically, we just need to have common sense like Daisy— stick close to our Savior and don’t let up. Let Him love on you. 

In cozying up with our Creator He reveals to us His Kingdom mindset:  

It’s the one that says—

My God is here and He is not going to desert me (Isaiah 41:10). 

My God is here and He provides all my needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

He will bring to completion the work He started in me (Philippians 1:6).

My God never leaves me or forsakes me (Hebrews 13:5). 

My God has my life and every detail of my life in His hands (Psalm 37:23-24).

I am written in the palm of His hand- He cares for me (Isaiah 49:16). 

With a Kingdom mindset like this we become ultimate LEANERS into the faithfulness of our God. And when we “lean in” we realize that GRACE is there, like the pocket of sunshine in the midst of the clouds, like the trickle of water in the desert. We realize the answer we need lies not so much in the physical granting of our need but rather found in the larger than life God we serve. The one we lean into. The One who is faithful. 

So friends, I encourage you this week in the Lord: When you face insurmountable odds or even just daily challenges may you lean into our Maker God, our Father God, and know He provides for us, takes care of us, and is the answer we need and crave everyday.

It reminds me of this hymn: 

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
by Iris DeMent

Friend, may you experience the pockets of grace, the waterfall of grace rising up to meet you today. 

In light of upcoming St. Patrick’s Day here is an Irish Blessing for you this week: 

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Traditional Irish Blessing

Know you are in the palm of His hand. You are safe and secure from all alarm. Not feeling it yet? Lean in deeper… come further with your Savior God. 

Until next time, 

Speaking of PUPPY LOVE here is our youngest (years ago) with the beginning of her stuffed dog collection. ❤️

Some pictures of growing up with Daisy. 🌸

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The Ultimate, Outlasting Love of God

We’ve all heard of the cosmetic lines that are advertised to “outlast” the day or at least several hours. It may claim it “stands the test of time” or that it “gives you beautiful, next 24-hour looks” or gives you “perfect skin all day long”. Even if we are convinced by this advertising to give their brand a “go”, often we are disappointed. Nothing lasts forever, we tell ourselves. Sound familiar? 

If we aren’t careful, this same attitude can affect our perspective on many things including God’s great OUTLASTING love for us. We may find ourselves saying, “sure the Bible ‘advertises’ it as such, but God’s love really couldn’t be that enduring, right?” As much as we want to believe we may find ourselves cynical, with a lack of trust. “Nothing lasts forever,” we may mumble under our breath. 

Friend, I can’t vouch for the cosmetics or the other beauty treatments that promise to “outlast”. There is only one thing in the world that is truly outlasting, enduring beyond all, outstaying, and remaining against the odds—and it is the Ultimate, Outlasting Love of God. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

Believe it or not, it is true! God’s love for me and you is ETERNAL, outlasting anything and everything it faces not only in this physical world but in the new world to come! And it isn’t just the kind of love that hangs on by a thread, ready to be snapped by the hint of a mere trouble or problem, no this love is STRONG, full, and steady. 

It’s a love that goes far deeper than the fairy tale singing of “This is Love” (remember that Disney princess rendition)? This is the nitty gritty, real depth of love: God’s ever present, outlasting love was demonstrated as Jesus’ blood hit dirt as he hung on the cross. It doesn’t get any more real than that! 

It’s a lot less of a “valentine hearts and love dove” representation but rather a “nitty gritty, holds on, never lets go” type of love. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of love I need, the kind of love my heart cries out for each and every day in this less than perfect world. 

Here’s a few more scriptures for further study on this ultimate outlasting love of God: 

Ephesians 3:18-19

1 John 4:9-10

John 15:9

Ephesians 2:4-5

May you be encouraged today that HIS LOVE is just what we need. No matter how scary the situation, how big the challenge, or how hopeless things may feel– His love outlasts all and we can rest in that. 

You can read more on God’s Great Agape Love here:  https://melanietalevski.com/2021/02/12/an-unlimited-supply/

Until next time,

PS. It’s always about this time of year my heart yearns for the first signs of spring! But here we are, in the midst of sunshine, snow, cold weather, etc… and we are learning to embrace the moment. Here’s some of our recent snow fun:

Thanks to Agape Life Church for letting me cross-post my writing & thank you also for the great graphics!

An all new- original to melanietalevski.com blog coming in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

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Want to Flourish? Start to Nourish

* This week I am excited to share with you a guest blog post I wrote for Agape Life Church.

My daughter just recently got a new batch of plants—all shapes and sizes. She’s careful to nourish them each day: give them just what they need to grow and reach their optimum health. The way she transports them to a sunny spot, waters accordingly, and researches about each specific plant shows her care for her plants. And it’s not just a chance that her plants are flourishing it is because she does the necessary daily work of “nourishing”. Oh that we would pour such care into our own spiritual life! Our spirits long to be in the sunny presence of God, to breathe Him in each hour of every day, to grow healthy and strong putting our roots down deep into the soil of His Word.  
To be nourished means “to be provided with everything necessary for growth, health, and good condition”. Anything that is nourished will naturally flourish– it’s a law whether it applies to plants, mankind, or our spiritual lives. (And the good news about a flourishing spiritual life it also impacts your mind, body and any situations that come your way!) I don’t know about you, but I’d love a year of flourishing! To flourish is “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, rapidly and successfully, reaching new heights especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment”. Doesn’t that sound like a good deal? No, not another year of barely holding on, barely getting by or being rocked by the world’s circumstances. We’ve had our fill of that! But it is time to move on into flourishing. 
The secret to flourishing is being nourished by our loving Savior day after day. This nourishing happens in the form of: opening our Bibles and letting our roots grow deep (check out Agape’s One Year Bible Reading Plan https://www.agapelife.org/abide-365/ ), soaking in the presence of Jesus each day… spending time in His presence (Psalm 34:8), guarding our thoughts and setting our minds on the pure, good and lovely (Philippians 4:8), changing our focus from the world and it’s death, dying and decay and instead placing it on the Savior of our souls, His faithfulness, and what He has done and what He is doing (2 Corinthians 4:18). Nourishment also comes by gathering together for encouragement in church community, church services, and the encouragement of Christian friendships (Hebrews 10:25).
When we become nourished in these ways our roots go down deep (Colossians 2:7) and we become like a tree planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:3). I’ve seen trees next to a river and my, are they flourishing! This is God’s will for each of us—not just a barely getting by or holding on lifestyle—but a thriving, blooming, fruit-bearing life! (John 10:10) Yes, friends, I bless you with a year of being spiritually nourished so you can flourish in every way! Be blessed in Jesus Name! 

Until next time,

PS. Here’s some pictures of our new addition completed! In my previous post https://melanietalevski.com/2022/01/15/22-things-im-looking-forward-to-in-2022/ I featured a few of the “in progress” photos of our addition. Here’s the final product! And, as you can see, it’s a peaceful and sunny habitat for plants as well. Be nourished & flourished this next week. ❤️

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22 Things I’m Looking Forward To in 2022

1. By far, one of my most exciting things I am looking forward to in 2022 is opening my Bible every day! Here’s the reading plan I am following this year https://shereadstruth.com . Just 15 days in this has already been such a blessing! I’m excited to see what the year holds as I read my Bible each day. Hope you will join me in reading your Bible each day the next year.

2. Enjoying a new space. My husband is in the midst of putting an addition on the back of the house. Here’s where we are at for now:

3. Taking more walks around this beautiful lake I enjoy every season. Isn’t that a beautiful view?

 4.  My oldest & driver’s ed! 😲😲😲

5. Probably way too many coffees and Chai teas consumed! 😆  I have a local coffee shop that’s known to feed my addiction. It’s the perfect place to read, write, and enjoy coffee! 

6. Celebrating 19 years of marriage with my husband. Then & now pictures. I’m amazed at how the years go by!

7. I’m excited to get to my TBR (To Be Read) bookstack. Here’s a link to my goodreads account https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/74295832-melanie-talevski Check it out to see what books I read in 2021 and what books I want to read this next year. 😊

8. Baseball. You know I love it! And how blessed am I that I have kids who love baseball almost if not more than their mama? Plenty of MLB radio listening in my future & attending my kids’ live games. Love it! 

9. Church Events and Functions. The gathering of community together and sharing joy with each other as we gather in Jesus’s name— It’s the best!

10.  Family vacation in whatever form that takes: Arizona for spring training?  A trip out to the beach? A family gathering at Estes Park? Whatever it ends up being I know we will enjoy time away from the daily grind & time together as a family out in God’s beautiful creation!

11. Continuing to see my children grow and change in their own ways. I have a daughter who is super into guitar and is even planning to play with the church worship team this next year. I have a son who is an inventor and creator like his father. Who knows what inventions they will come up with? But I do know they will genius! And our youngest who is coming into her own and like her mama often has her nose stuck in a book. 

 12. Celebrating birthdays with family and friends! What greater occasion is there than getting together and enjoying celebrating someone’s life? (And, I may have the big 4-0 coming up…) 

13. Health goals. Nourishing. Listening. 

14. Getting away on a Writing Retreat. Not sure which one yet, but I’m open to whatever comes up whatever path the Holy Spirit maybe nudging me towards. Here’s pictures from years before:

15. Being fully alive, and embracing whatever this next year brings. Just like I’ve learned how to bundle up and walk in the cold over the winter time— to embrace the present moment, even if my nose and feet are cold— So I endeavor to embrace whatever comes up in 2022. It’s called FLEXIBILITY and I am not that good at it, still practicing… 

16. Hot chocolate and board games with the family. This has been our go-to for this winter so far and keeps us busy and joyful during the dark evenings. (Here’s the link to my latest blog where I mentioned some of our favorite games: https://melanietalevski.com/2022/01/01/plan-be/ )  

17. Creativity. If you were to peek into our home, you’d see at least one of these things unfolding before your eyes in my little home: strumming on a guitar (or ukulele) sketching, creating on the circuit machine, paintings, building inventions, writing.  There’s a lot of creativity going on at the Talevski household. And I love every minute of it! Here’s to even more in 2022. 

18. Continuing to spread God’s encouraging word to others in whatever shape and form God leads me in. ❤️ Here’s my writer profiles where you can follow this process.

https://www.facebook.com/melanietalevskiwrites

https://www.instagram.com/melanietalev/

19.  Deepening my walk with the Lord. Letting my roots grow down deep into Him (Colossians 2:7) Also, learning to trust Him, to have Him as my bedrock. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2ld1wI2hT8

20. More laughter! I want to learn how to take more moments for full out belly laughs, embracing the silliness of certain situations, and not be so “focused” I miss out on the humor in each day, in whatever form that takes: whether it’s silly AFV clips, talks with a cross-country friend, being with my sister (she’s always adding joy and humor to my day ever since were were little!) or laughing with my kids (kids are just walking comedians at times, aren’t they? 😉). Yes to more joy in 2022! 

21. One of my favorite things are these epsom salts (https://www.amazon.com/Dr-Teals-Soaking-Solution-Lavender/dp/B00LW1KAYC/ref=sr_1_4?crid=Z5178RIY5LHV&keywords=dr+teals+lavendar&qid=1642275439&sprefix=dr+teals+lavendar%2Caps%2C134&sr=8-4) and a quick soak at the end of the night in the bathtub: just a moment to be present and to slow down before hopping in bed. Looking forward to many soaks in 2022. It’s the little things, right? 

22. And saving one of the best for last, I am looking forward to following God’s presence and His teaching in my life and writing it down to share here on my blog posts. I love being able to share with you here! I always pray that these blog posts would touch your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. So stay tuned for more blog posts coming your way!

A BLESSING FOR 2022: 

May you find hope in His presence this new year and all the exciting things to come. May you find a strength filling you, surrounding you— the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. May you find courage provided by His presence alone for this year of 2022. I pray you’d find hidden pockets of grace, surprises in His presence, and abundance that comes in trusting the Father. May you be blessed in every way in 2022. 

Until next time, 

PS. Your turn: Make a list of your own 22 things you are looking forward to this next year. I’d love to hear about it. 

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Plan “Be”

“The One who calls you by name is trustworthy and will thoroughly complete His work in you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:24 

It’s the new year, and I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden my newsfeed has exploded with “be the best you in 2022” communicated through numerous articles, links, organizational plans, goal setting… What’s a girl to do? Yes, I truly do want 2022 to be a wonderful year- but to what extent? Is my own sanity worth it? If we just “pressure” or “organize” ourselves better will a more wonderful year ensue? It sure seems like we are trained to think so.

In a time when all kinds of lists are made, goals are identified, the pressure to be something becomes great. Be stronger, be skinnier, be kinder, be more aware, be more involved, be on top of your finances, be healthy… the list goes on, and on, and on. But according to 1 Thessalonians 5:24, instead of the world’s mantra of “be something”– our mantra in Christ becomes simply “be”! As we trust Him–the trustworthy one– He will complete His work in us. He will complete us body, mind, Spirit. He will accomplish His plans for our lives. 

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” 

Psalm 138:8

Nothing’s wrong with goals, plans, organization. I plan to do a fair share of that this new year…. yet, the problem comes when we decide that “doing” these things will offer salvation, perfection, a flawless new year.

No, the only tried and true ONE who leads us into His plans and purposes in His gentle Spirit-led way, is our Lord Jesus. He’s the only one who could redeem a year in this world for His glory, shining His light both in us and through us.

The most important thing we can put on our “to do list” this next year is to “be” with our Maker, trusting Him fully to fill us, to cause us to live a passionate fulfilling life with the plans He has for us. 

So dear friends, I challenge you this new year to “be” and to trust the trustworthy one. He alone is the one who can complete us and complete His work in us. 

Spending time with Him— communing with Him all through the day—we become sensitive to His voice, His leading. And if we follow where He leads us— that is the path of truly joyful and a fulfilled life. It’s the path of fulfilling the unique and special call God has on our individual lives. 

My prayer for you for 2022:

Lord, I pray a blessing over my friends may they lean into you this year— breathe with you— Your heavenly, soothing presence each moment of the day. May they be filled with you. May they come to know you in new and deep ways and may they experience your faithfulness. May their eyes be opened to your trustworthiness and may they believe without a doubt that you hold them: You hold their years ahead, you hold their destinies in your hands. Help them to trust that you, God, will be the one to complete it. 

We trust you in all things and more than anything. We want you, your presence and divine call for our lives for 2022. Amen. 

So I bless your next year friend. I am so excited to hear of the journeys we take with the Lord. 

Until next time, 

PS. Our New Year’s Eve tradition has always been gathering with family for an evening of board games, laughter, snacks and enjoyment. Here’s a few of our pictures over the years…

PS. Have you heard of these games? These are some of our favorites.

And some new favorites this year:

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The Night Love Lit the Sky

I have heard this year that the aurora borealis is seen from many new locations– brighter and bolder than before– and how my heart yearns to see the whole sky light up in beautiful color, straight from our Maker Himself. 

The closest I have ever been to seeing the whole sky light up was one of two things: either the best firework display I’ve ever seen (Coors Field for 4th of July 😉) or the most natural and beautiful lightening storm— you know the ones that light up the sky with hues of purple. Often there is not even one clap of thunder, just flashes of lightening and color lighting up the sky. 

It’s unusual to see the sky lit in such different ways— whether aurora borealis, fireworks, or beautiful natural lightening storms. Something is almost “miraculous” when even the sky shifts in lighting and color…

Perhaps it was not so different from that special night, two thousand years ago, on the hillside in Bethlehem. Yes, that was a night that God’s unconditional love lit the whole sky… a night that changed the lives of not only the lowly shepherds out in their fields tending sheep but also changed that of a nation, that of a world— that of you and me. 

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests’. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Luke 2:8-15

One day, in heaven, I will wish to replay the lighting of the sky that night. How wondrous, glorious it must have been as heaven opened up and the angels descended, all singing “Glory to God in the Highest”. Now, that is one wondrous birth announcement! 

The shepherds in the fields that night were shocked (terrified even) when they saw the heavens open with their own eyes! The message so “shocking” and life changing, they left all responsibility and went to visit the Christ child, to worship the newborn King.  And even that was not enough “celebration” for the shepherds whose lives had been changed— they went out to share the news becoming the first ones to spread Christianity throughout the hillsides. 

I love that God reserved this special visitation for the lowest of people… shepherds weren’t often associated with as their jobs were the lowest of the low. It’s even suggested that these lowly shepherds were watching over the actual sacrificial lambs for the temple. The night the angels announced the birth of the ultimate sacrificial lamb- Jesus- who would die to take the sin of the world it was to the shepherds who truly understood the matter. Wow! God changed the shepherd’s lives… no longer were they just shepherds, but witnesses… messengers of the mighty event of God’s coming to earth through the baby Jesus. 

The same can be true for us too, friend. We are visited each Christmas, through God’s presence and truer-than-life Christmas story, and our hearts are again renewed to the Good News. Although perhaps the literal sky does not change its brightness for us this season, if we will take the time to let God’s story (His love brought down to us at Christmastime through His Son) soak into our hearts— God’s unconditional love will light up our lives, just as His love lit the whole sky that night two thousand years ago. 

Let His unconditional love come and wrap around you, friend. 

He whispers to you, “Accept the love I sent down… accept it fully into your heart, letting it overwhelm, soften, and fill you.” 

We look up into His eyes. 

He has done all— even descended from the highest heaven to come to earth to draw us near, cleanse our sin, and give us a right place with God again. 

Yet still… our answer hangs in the balance. 

Our answer should be quite obvious: yet due to pain, disappointment, hurt, sometimes we hold back. Sometimes we pause more than necessary. 

Just look in His eyes, dear friend, accept His love once and again for you. 

Accept His renewing, comforting, powerful, life changing love. 

Perhaps you’ve done it once before. Friend, this is something we can do anew every day. 

It’s as simple as a whispered prayer:  Jesus, I am accepting the love you sent down— the love that lit the whole sky. The love that changed so many lives back then and is still changing lives today— my own included. Thank you that your love is unconditional: you pour out your affection on me without any limitations or conditions. It’s simple pure love. The best gift of all. 

And when we let His Love enter and light even the forgotten corners of our hearts— it transforms us. We become like the shepherds who accepted the message and were instantly filled with His light, with purpose for spreading the message near and far. 

This Christmas, let His love light up your heart, give you all the love you need, transform and change you, impassion you for spreading the message of His kingdom. 

Let me tell you, friend, this is real living. It is Kingdom living and is the only thing that will last for eternity— accepting Him, living with Him and for Him each day. 

If this is the first time accepting His love into your heart, whisper a prayer to Jesus today. It can be something like this: 

“Lord Jesus, I invite you to come into my life. I believe that you are God’s son and you died for me. Your precious blood paid for all my sins and purchased eternal life for me. I now say ‘Jesus, you are my Lord and Savior!’ I’ll never be alone again. You are here for me everyday, in every way. Thank you, Lord! Amen.”

That’s all… it can be as easy or eloquent as you would like. The main thing is saying it from your heart….

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 10:9-10

And for anyone who has already done this first step I urge you to whisper your own prayer each and every day, accepting anew His unconditional love. 

“Lord, your transforming love has changed my life ever since I became yours. Fill me today fresh and anew with your love. Empassion me with your love and message. Give me opportunities to share YOU to the world around me.” 

It’s amazing when we give that open door to the Lord what He will do with it. He will continually fill your heart and send certain people your way who need to hear the Good News. Yes, we get to be the modern day shepherds— witnesses, messengers of His love that lit the sky all those years ago— His love that is still lighting our lives each and every day. 

Here’s my prayer for you this Christmas: 

May you feel the unconditional love of Jesus wrapping around you, holding you close. I pray that you would sense His presence in a deep and wonderful way— banishing any thoughts of loneliness— and instead filling every corner of your heart with His love. May your life shine with His glory— and may it be impossible to keep it to yourself but instead become a bright beacon for others, drawing them to the truth of Jesus Christ. 

Merry Christmas! 

Until next time, 

In writing this article I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmas songs as a teen. Take a listen: 

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Slow & Sweet Savor

I have one child who is the opposite of “in a rush” and absolutely savors each thing she chooses to spend her time on. Whether it’s reading a book out loud, drawing a masterpiece, or making a pretend land for her stuffed animals— she’s happiest when she’s allowed to move at her own pace. To rush her through things causes panic, annoyance and disruption to the little world she’s inserted herself into. After eight years of being her mom, I am finally learning how to not rush her and allow her her slow savoring process (school mornings are a different story 😉 but slowly I am learning to allow her more time to do what she needs to do).

Sadly, it’s a phase a lot of us grow out of, usually by necessity, but also by the tug and pull of the world and its distractions. 

To “savor” takes conscious effort to slow down and disengage or untangle ourselves from the pace dictated and instead, move to the rhythm of our own hearts. 

I had a moment like this recently. This week at our church service, I just sat there and savored the moment. The presence of God was there, so real, peaceful you could physically feel it. To tops things off, the kids had their Fall Fest and were tromping around in their costumes, happy as could be.  Tables were being set up for our community church lunch, the smell of lunch wafting in the air. Time just paused for a moment. It’s like my heart said, “Psst! These are the moments of our lives. Don’t miss out!”  The feeling of peace, no hurry, no rush, fell over me and I realized, “Yes, what is life worth living if not for these moments?” It makes me want to live with that purpose each day to SAVOR.  

I’ve had this yearning lately to JUST BE with my parents, my family, my sister and her family. Just soak them in, treasure them. Nothing fancy, planned, or even filled with nonstop talk—  just a cherishing of them and who they are in my life. Because what really matters more than being with the people you love? Everything else fades, disappears, disintegrates, but love remains. LOVE REMAINS. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

My mom often recalls a story about my Great Grandma. Years ago, they were sitting together and Great Grandma– who by that time was nearing 100 years old, confined to a wheelchair and did not talk much at all– focused her eyes on my mom, patted her face. My mom asked what she was doing… she said, “Oh, just beholding you.” The moment affected my mom immensely. If we all would take the time to “behold” or “cherish” each other, how much different would life be? Each time my mom tells the story, tears catch in her eyes, for it truly was a special moment— treasuring, savoring, truly feeling the LOVE God has given us. 

 It makes me think about our Lord too— how He lives like this and exists like this. He had everything in the world— yet there was one thing He wanted most: our hearts! Our love. Our attention.

“And in love He chose us before He laid the foundation of the universe!”

Ephesians 1:4a

Yet we flit about like the birds before a storm— busy to this tree and that, gathering food, chattering, and transfixed with what’s before us. But to pull out a “timeout card”— to realize that He’s so important He’s worth savoring—It brings a fullness, a richness, a depth to our lives. We find that the flitting back and forth to and fro, no longer draws us and we want to be at the feet of Jesus, savoring His every word. 

This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha: 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Being an older sister who thrives on responsibility, that story often rubs me the wrong way. (Anyone else? 😉) I mean, here Martha is preparing the meal, cleaning, readying the dishes and what was Mary doing? Sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. It felt so unfair to Martha I am sure, because “there was just so much to be done!” (Can anyone relate?! Yikes!) But the text here says, Martha was “distracted”. Busy with things that weren’t of the most importance. Can anyone relate with this? (hand raise over this way! 🤚)  Jesus said “Mary has chosen what is best”.

Friends, we got to stop our needless, unending frittering back and forth and instead lock eyes on the One who waits for us. Let’s pull away from distractions and seek Him. All He wants is our hearts.

It reminds me of a song called “We Dance” by Stephanie Gretzinger. Read the lyrics, listen to the song. I promise your heart will be filled. ❤️ 

“We Dance” by Stephanie Gretzinger

You steady me, slow and sweet

We sway, take the lead and I will follow

Finally ready now, to close my eyes and just believe

That You won’t lead me where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost

You spin me round and round and remind me of that song

The one You wrote for me

We dance

Oh, we dance

I’ve been told to pick up my sword and fight for love

Little did I know that Love had won for me

Here in Your arms, You steal my heart again

And I breathe You in like I’ve never breathed till now

I will lock eyes with the One who’s ransomed me

The One who gave me joy for mourning

I will lock eyes with the One who’s chosen me

The One who set my feet to dancing

It’s nice to know I’m not alone

I find my home here in your arms 

 So let’s have a sweet and slow dance with the Lord this week. Let Him lead— refuse to check your watch, your “to do” list , your never ending thoughts and instead lock eyes with the One who will fill your heart up with His Love. The One who is more than enough. The One who is worthy of savoring. That’s what I plan to do. ❤️

Until next time, 

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Peach Promises

Maybe a peach tree has more to do with life than originally thought. Yes, the branches, the fruit, the harvest—  it all can take on very easy Christian overtones. But looking at my peach tree today, a great many of the small peaches ripening, a few of the bigger ones still with a light yellow green tint, a different principle comes to mind: the unpredictability of fruit. The prime peach we wait for still clings to the branch, not ready for harvest. But a handful of other ones, they are ready for the harvest and even fall to the ground before we have a second to pick them.

Life is definitely similar… that one event, answer to prayer, thing we are believing for — it may still be up high on the tree, green and firm to the touch. The other things, things we hadn’t anticipated, are ripe and ready for the picking, dripping their juices over us, the smell sweet and intoxicating. 

I think there is an important lessons in both of these fruits: the one ripe and ready, and the one greatly anticipated but still clinging to the branch…

Ripe and ready moments: It is amazing how many of them hit us– my daughter had one just the other day. Out of the blue, after several years of acquaintance, a schoolmate texted her with a hunger for wanting to know God on a deeper level. Her desire was raw and real and she knew she could ask my daughter about it. My daughter simply beamed ☀️ with the assignment God had dropped into her day. It was a ripe fruit, a ripe situation, that just suddenly plopped into her hand. But she was ready for it, and takes great delight in the assignment God has given her. We have all had ripe fruit dropped into our lives in unexpected moments, and like the Bible says we are to “be instant in season and out” when presented with a chance to share the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2). What great harvesting of souls has happened because of Christians being ready for these types of situations everywhere they go! 

Ripe situations also drop in our laps about things we haven’t anticipated… a new job, a move, a new friendship or relationship, a blessing that pops in out of the blue. I love when that happens, don’t you? ❤️

But what about the fruit that just stubbornly clings to its spot on the branch? It’s still as hard as all get-out, green as can be, with no notion of ripening. It seems there is no answer about that situation.

You know what I am talking about… the deliverance from a situation that seems unbearable, the healing from a sickness, the next direction from God, the redemption of a relationship, etc. You know God’s promises on the matter. You’ve prayed and prayed about the situation, but nothing has budged. That fruit is still green on the branch and as hard as a rock. When will the promise come to fruition? 

Friend, I have an encouragement for you today: All of God’s promises are true. It does not matter how small the fruit, how hard or stubborn the fruit is, or even what appears to be an absence of fruit in that area… God keeps His word.

“and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Romans 4:21

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

The fruit undeniably follows a rule: that it will ripen (yes, even that hard as a rock green peach!) It may take time… be as stubborn as all get out… but the fruit will ripen and be enjoyed by the harvester. This promise is true and nothing can change the fact. Nothing.

So if you find yourself in a season beyond expecting the fruit— the answer to prayer, the reconciliation, the deliverance, the way opening ahead of you— keep holding on, dear friend. The fruit will ripen in just the right time. God is over all, and He sees the big picture. It’s amazing to think about how He sees it all, even before we live day one of our lives (Psalm 139:16). We can trust Him, knowing He is working all things together for good, and He is the Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

The things that seem to be delayed, stalled, unanswered, or just plain stubborn… God is turning them in your direction. The peach is ripening on the branch. The color will soon change… the texture will soon soften. The smell will sweeten. And before you know it, you will have a big, ripe, juicy peach plopped right in the palm of your hand. 

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3

This is the verse my husband stood on, and I with him, in one of the greatest challenges of our lives… waiting for his American Citizenship to be approved. There were many details in the story… and many worries consumed our minds about the situation and if he really would be approved to live here in the USA or sent back to his country of origin. (It was also very close to attacks on 9/11 in which the courts majorly shut down the USA and those wanting to immigrate to it). He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had brought him here for His purpose and plan. He found several verses, including this one, and clung to it, knowing that God’s promise for him would come true… even if it tarried… even if it delayed, it would surely come to pass. He knew it in His heart. He held onto it, even when everything was shouting that the situation would not work, that it would not come to pass. We had many times going to the court, awaiting the news, only for the hearing to be delayed a month or more. This process went on for years. Those were very stressful times… tumultuous… but God is faithful. In 2009 (eight years after starting the process) my husband became a US citizen. The promise came to pass. The hope in his heart came to fruition. 

I know it seems easy when you see the story written here… It’s solved. It’s concise and summarized. It loses the exasperation, the edge, the disappointment, the intensity that was felt during that time of waiting. It really was a situation that was doing its best to break us. It was discouraging, dark, inconclusive, and stubborn. But our God caused the fruit to ripen on the branch. Here are the pictures of that glorious day. Can’t you just feel the joy radiating from us? 😊 God’s promise for Telly (and our family) came true! 

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

Since then, of course, we have faced many other challenges… but the truth remains: God’s promises will come to pass. Find your verse to stand on, your promise from God. Sink in and hold on. It may look like the most stubborn of situations, but it will RIPEN… it will change. Things will give… and you will receive answers, even unexpected answers, to your prayers. Break throughs. Success and victory. Light and life. A deepening of your relationship with the Lord. 

My prayer for you this week: God, strengthen the hearts of my friends this week. Help them to continue to hold onto faith for the situations you have promised them. Help them stand solid upon your word, and not be moved by what they see or don’t see… but to continue to cling to the truth that “He who promised is faithful”… You are faithful and you are the one who causes the situations, answers to prayer, and blessings to flow. Thank you for sending down the encouragement of the Holy Spirit to speak into their lives… may they be encouraged. Give them strength to keep holding on. I thank you for the answers to prayers that will happen… the great breakthroughs that will happen in your name. Thank you for causing GOOD in their lives and for the fulfillment of your plans and purposes of their lives to come to fruition– to be like a plump, ripe peach in the palm of their hand. We give you all glory for this. Amen. 

May your heart be encouraged. May your “faith muscles” be strengthened. May you dig into the Word and become so convinced that He will bring to pass His plans for your life. May you be strengthened as you wait, and may the joy of the Lord be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

I can’t wait to hear about the ripe fruit God brings your way— His answers to your prayers. 

Until next time, 

PS. Here is a link to one of my favorite simple Peach Crisp recipes!

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/53110/juicy-peach-crisp/

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Top Ten Moments of Summer

Before I launch my top ten moments of the summer, I want to encourage you this post is more than just “happy moments”. Yes, thank God we can find sparkly moments in this season and recognize it for what it is: Blessings from God. But let me encourage you, no matter how your season has shaped up to be— even the moments the enemy meant for destruction— God turns them for good. Yes, even the moments of ashes can become moments that sparkle with His blessing. He’s just that kind of God. 
So without further ado…


Here are my top ten moments of the summer (in no specific order)
:

  1. Falling into bed after a busy wonderful summer day full of activity with my favorite quilt around me… (click here to read about “a place of rest” featuring my favorite quilt! https://melanietalevski.com/2021/07/17/a-place-of-rest/)

2. Watching my older kids two compete and play baseball and softball (my son hitting a grand slam, my daughter striking out the side)

3. Going to the second hand bookstore and loading up on good reading (I mean a shopping cart at the bookstore? These are our kind of people!)

4. Swimming! (Need I say more?) ☀️

5. Attending the Summer Classic (All Star Game) with my oldest daughter ⚾️

6. Morning Walks (read about the restoration my morning walks bring at https://melanietalevski.com/2021/06/25/deep-restoration-2/

7. New experiences with my girls: Chinese Lantern Festival, the girls’ first experience with P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps 😋

8. Weekly writing sessions at the coffee shop 

9. Church events (oh the connections that come from a big loving family!) ❤️ Prayer night, teen and kids events, Church picnic, fellowshipping after church, park meetups, etc.

10. Family time with grandparents, cousins, etc… Any and every reason to gather together and celebrate! 🎉

And good news– summer is not through yet! The calendar still holds more fun to come along with all the fun spur of the moment items that find a way into our days.

Looking at all the fun we have had this summer reminds me of the verse in the Bible:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

He sends down good gifts from above– and oh how we enjoy and soak up every single moment of it! Thank you, God, for your flooding of blessing this summer.

What if your summer isn’t exactly as “picturesque” as you imagined? Believe me, friend, I have been there. Let me encourage you, no matter how your season has shaped up to be— even the moments the enemy meant for destruction— God turns them for good. Yes, even the moments of ashes can become moments that sparkle with His blessing. He’s just that kind of God. 

Case in point, it will definitely not make anyone’s “top ten moments of summer” list as it was a tragic moment, but one of our church families recently experienced a house fire. The entire house beyond rescue–to be leveled. The enemy tried to bring this as a discouragement, an evil into their lives… but already we are seeing God use the situation for good. 

My dad says it best… don’t confuse God with the devil. Add a “O” to God and you have GOOD. Take away the d in devil and you have evil. Simple as that. God is good and the devil is evil.

God doesn’t just watch and say, “well, I guess we have to let evil win that round”… NO WAY! God is an expert in scooping up ashes (whether brought on from the evil one, from personal choice, from a relationship, or situation, whatever the source…) and making it into beautiful diamonds. 

Let me say that again: He is an expert at scooping up the destruction, the ashes– and making it into beautiful diamonds. He redeems the situations the enemy has meant for evil.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”.

Isaiah 61:3

He is the God we can trust… the good shepherd. He is watching over us, over our days. He is an expert at turning that meant for evil into good. We can trust Him completely and soak in/revel the moments He has brought us so far in our lifetimes, years, and even this specific season. He is good, and like David said, 

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

So no matter what events mark your summer (perhaps shifts and changes with job or expectations, helping elderly relatives, trauma, or even a tragic misplacement of home) I urge you to be confident that God is taking care of you. He is redeeming that which was formed as a curse against us and bringing His goodness to the forefront.

We will see His goodness. 

My prayer: Lord, help us to have our eyes open to see your goodness… even in the little moments like a comfy quilt, a happy moment at the baseball game, used books from the bookstore. Thank you for the blessings you have bestowed on us and the fact that we will see your goodness in the land of the living, and we will see beauty in place of ashes… we will have “surely mercy and goodness shall follow you all the days of your life”(Psalm 23:6) 

So my friend… my encouragement for you:  May you feel the arms of Jesus wrap around you in a special way and may you feel faith arise in your heart. He is the God who heals, the God who exchanges what the enemy meant for evil for good. He is a miracle worker and nothing is too far gone for Him. He will turn any ashes in your life into beauty. He will cause any evil the enemy brought in your life to work for your good. He will cause mercy and goodness to both go before you and behind you. The only ingredient you need is Him. Hold onto him, dear friend, and I pray He would open your eyes to see the blessings He has brought to your life, no matter how small, hidden or undercover they come.  And may you walk in the confidence that God is doing this good work in you and you will see His goodness…  may you proclaim boldly as David did, that you “will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. Amen.

I can’t wait to hear your “Top Ten” and how God is working in your life.

Until next time,

Want more encouragement during the week?

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Featured

A Place of Rest

Nothing says “summertime” to me like a good quilt! I mean, just look at these pictures and see if they don’t make you feel an ounce lighter, happier? Content? Calm? 

Something about a homemade quilt is so comforting, safe, simple. Just like the life I want to lead. Yes, quilts have been providing summer time fun for as long as I can remember…. 

  • 4th of July gatherings with our cousins in the back of the pickup truck, watching fireworks. We would lie on our backs and watch the beautiful fireworks light the night, cool quilts cushioned beneath us or resting lightly on our shoulders. 
  • The Quilt Fair with Great Grandma. She’d make it the event of the day… viewing the displayed quilts with their patterns and colors galore followed by several amusement park rides at the playgrounds and a vanilla cone at McDonalds.
  • Not to mention…Camping trips, backyard picnics…
  • Yes, quilts even served as a make shift “stage” years ago for a “Peter Pan” performance by my kids in the backyard. 

Even now, after a long and full summer day, nothing is more comforting than my cool and colorful quilt (made by Peach Valley Quilts: https://www.facebook.com/Peach-Valley-Quilts-2310090659222308/) to greet me at the end of the day!

It’s with all this thinking of comforts, simple life, and contentedness that God’s sweet Holy Spirit began to speak to me as I read my Bible. As I read Hebrews 3:17-18, I realized that THERE IS A CALMING PLACE OF REST for those of us who choose to live by faith. Another way to say it: It’s possible for us to enter into a “faith-rest life” by having faith in God alone. (Passion Translation footnotes). 

What exactly is faith again? 

Good News Translation says, 

To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1

Yes, when we have faith—it is based on what God is doing– not what we can muster up or do or produce on our own. 

It is by having this confidence that God will do what He says– that we can enter into a “faith-rest life”. Yes, we are able to rest even in the midst of the waiting because we have faith and it upholds us and gives us peace, calm, and rest even in the middle of circumstances. Not so unlike a favorite quilt. 😉

Are you facing problems that seem unsolvable today? Perhaps you feel backed into a corner with no where to go… all your last efforts and hopes are now silent. It can be a very defeating, anxiety-producing place… but it is the place that God’s grace, love and deliverance can shine all the more. 

I was reading two different passages where this was displayed: 

  • Israelites Delivered from Egypt only to be Trapped by Enemies and Red Sea on all sides (Exodus 14) 
  • Abraham willing to sacrifice son, Isaac (Genesis 22) 

In both these situations, the main characters were surrounded. No way out. Their hands were tied. Their last efforts, the last open door or window— slammed shut. There was no hope but for God.  

  • With the Israelites, they had just seen miracle after miracle performed to deliver them from Egypt, only to be backed into an impossible, hopeless corner right out of the gate. They complained, “Were there not enough graves in Egypt that you led us out to the wilderness to die?” (Exodus 14:1) It truly looked like their success was short lived. There was no way out. Thank goodness, Moses knew better and held onto faith. 
  • In Abraham’s case he’d received the promise of God that he would be the “Father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). After many struggles of trying to manufacture the promise himself, Abraham saw God’s goodness and he was given a son. Success to the promise seemed right around the corner… yet, now God required Abraham sacrifice the “one and only means to an end” he had. How would he receive the promise now? Yet. “Abraham believed God” (Genesis 15:6). He had faith God would be the one to work it out. 

Yes, in both these cases the people were backed into a corner…. No way of helping themselves out. And don’t you know, that is where our God continually shows up. It’s just amazing. He is “mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17).  

  • In the case of Israelites and the Red Sea, God has Moses lift his hands and the Red Sea actually split! The Israelites were able to walk through on dry ground. And not only that, but when the enemy pursued them through the sea, the sea collapsed killing each and every Egyptian who was in pursuit. The Israelites stood at the other side— delivered by God’s hand— and shouts and songs in thankfulness to God came from their lips. 
  • In the case of Abraham offering up Isaac, God provided the ram as the sacrifice. And in time, God’s promise to Abraham to be the “father of many nations” came to pass. 

God came through. The main characters job? To believe. To have faith in God alone. This is our only responsibility too. (I know easier said than done at certain times!) 

Even if the Lord has brought us through time and time again, we can often continue to go into the whole fight and flight mode over and over again (believe me, I HAVE been a master of this) when situations come up. Instead of getting caught up in that cycle of unbelief or striving for our own answers…

God longs for us to cuddle up with the comfortable, safe “quilt of faith”.

It’s in this safe place that the realization, the perspective that God is trustworthy, capable, and we can depend on Him– comes to the forefront. Our willy-nilly trying to work it out and muscle it out on our own, striving, stressing, white knuckling… it is useless. Let’s “out” that energy into our faith… into believing and trusting that He is God, He is mighty to save, and He will bring us through. His plan will be accomplished. 

Yes, I pray that both you and I would wrap ourselves in the quilt of FAITH starting here and now. It’s faith that leads to a restful, calm, trusting life. Even when we are surrounded on every side. Even when physically it looks like things can’t possibly work out.

May you find your faith rising on the inside when things get tough. May you find rest because you are learning to lean on the everlasting arms. So many of the hymns say it best…. 

“’Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” (lyrics at https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/568

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms: (lyrics at https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/558

Or modern hymn: “Lord, I Need You” (video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA

In all these songs, the truth is conveyed: we cannot do it without the Lord. Only because of Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). 

Another one of my favorite quilts! Thank you Mrs. Gale & Hannah!

Our struggle falls away because we are no longer focused on what we can or cannot do… or what walls and situations surround us… Now we are focused on faith in our Lord. How He has come through for us and so many others in the past and He will do it again.

He is “mighty to save”, dependable and trustworthy to deliver us no matter what we face. 

Let the quilt of faith, of a rest-filled life, a trusting life, settle on your shoulders today… let it bring you comfort, peace, rest, a sense of calm that overflows every nook and cranny of life. This is my prayer for you. 

Until next time, 

PS. I want to take a moment to speak to the friends who feel as if God has failed them. I wish I could wrap my arms around you dear friend, because I have been there. Honest ranting and wailing, why didn’t God show up for me the way I wanted Him to? If He is so great, so good, why didn’t He _______ (fill in the blank). I know there are so many views, so many components (fallen world is a big component), but may you find rest in the quilt of faith. May faith be restored to you. Perhaps something did not come to pass in the way you imagined, but it does not mean God failed. Often times, healing takes longer than we think or can be in a different way than we think. All I know is that ranting, wailing, asking the questions— it may feel necessary at times (and yes it is better to rant and wail at God than just turn away— He’s big enough to hold it all) but I pray that after the pouring of your heart before God, that you would find the comforting quilt of HIS PRESENCE wrapped on your shoulders from the Holy Spirit. He will whisper to you. Sing to you. Dry your tears. Reveal things to you. Help you heal and become whole again. Help your heart to beat again. He will minister God’s love and faithfulness to you. And in that warm embrace—that safe quilt wrapped on your shoulders— may your faith rise. May you feel the love of our Father and come to trust in Him again. Know that He never left you. His love is all encompassing. Overflowing. Compassionate. Mighty to save. And may you feel your faith rise, giving wings to your heart that has been so captivated before by hurt. May you live a new life… a deeper life… fully trusting in Our Father God. My prayers are with you. 

Featured

Deep Restoration

Are you looking for a bit of break in this harried, hurry scurry busy life? Me, too, friend. Me too. 

I have a new favorite walk. I set out one day craving a change-up to my usual walk….

What I needed was a walk that breathed some life into me, far from the busy city streets (which is not very easy for a suburb girl!) I found myself wandering down past from my house into the green field of a park. Yes, here my lungs felt like they could breathe deeper and my eyes had places to wander and settle on. Not so much hurry scurry here. I soaked it in and continued on….

And on…

until I found myself on this (still somewhat busy city-like) stretch of country road with an old farmstead on the side.

Instantly my heart relaxed… the tightness that had been wound tightly inside…. Began to unravel and release.

Maybe it was the the smell of fresh growing farm grass, or perhaps it was the feel of open air, or the melody of the birds? Or maybe it was the bray of horses or the feel of sidewalk beneath my feet softening as it becomes dirt— complete with little outcrops of dandelions, and crabgrass.

Yes, I believe it is all these things combined. My five senses realized the difference of the surroundings around here and instantly, my soul feels grounded ( To see more about how I wrote about the five senses, and how it can help us in moments of trauma, see my blog link. (https://melanietalevski.com/2021/03/13/safe-secure-and-held/). But more than any physical thing… it was the fact that mindfulness was added to my day… or that SPACE from my schedule was made through this simple walk. 

Have you found yourself in a situation like this? Perhaps it was beach side, on a mountain hike, sitting in the backyard or wandering down a neighborhood path… no matter where you find it… it always feel the same…. A deep release. A deep sigh of our souls. A release of all that heaviness that has somehow crawled onto our world weary hearts without us being completely aware. It feels like we can breathe again. Our eyes, which have been so focused and centered on the tasks before us— now get a break and we find ourselves truly SEEING the things around us. We are able to stop just surviving and (existing) and are now present… mindful of what is going on around us. And in this process, our system relaxes…. Right is restored. 

This, my friend, is God’s deep restoration. He has a variety of ways to minister to our world weary minds, bodies, souls. I find often that He does this deep ministering for me when I get out from my normal habitat and walk around in His nature where I hear, see, smell, feel… anew. We are so good at every day going through the motions and doing what is supposed to be done. But friends, we were created to be human beings— living, interacting, feeling. God did not create us to be machines…. But rather His friends. Human beings who see, feel, taste, touch…. 

I, like you, crave relief on a daily basis. Yes, coffee breaks, watching silly youtube videos, and laughing with friends (or reading a chapter of a latest fiction book) offers a break, but often it is just a reprieve. 

Reprieve (relief) is summarized as:

“a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.”

(dictionary.com)

Restoration is:

“to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition”.

Oh wow, that is so much deeper than just temporary relief! Did you know God has that deep restoration for you and me today? And every day? It is not withheld… often we just don’t take a break from our list of tasks to tap into it or we think it is beyond reach… when really it can be found in a simple moment on the back porch, a silent walk, or a deep breath after the kids sleep and we purposefully become mindful, present, and breathe. We often need to TURN OFF LIFE for a moment to see, hear, and be present to open the door to deep restoration. 

This is what God says about the situation: 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 

It is funny to think that this coming to God, slowing down, simplifying is a “skill” we all need to be taught to remember, but in the fast pace of this world, it really is a treasure to be guarded, practiced, and remembered. It is way too easy to keep busy, entertained— our mind a constant swirl with thoughts, ideas, motions. 

I know that as a mom, I am responsible for helping my kids enter these slow moments and have them as a part of life. The more I can teach them now to seek out and embrace quiet moments, still moments… the more they are going to know how to do that as teens and adults. It is really an important skill. This resting, stopping, pausing.

Let me tell you though, that more often that not, MY KIDS teach me mindfulness. We are driving to a practice… my mind is on the thoughts— “will we get there on time? What about so and so… etc.” Then I hear a voice from the back seat, “Look at the sunset! Wow!” Or “Did you see that silly dog, mom?” Moments that bring my focus back to the here and now. My youngest is especially good at this. Just today she went with me on my morning walk. As I passed the side streets, ready for the beautiful country lane part of the walk, she stopped to climb a tree. “Mom look at me!” She called, causing me to stall my walk. I stopped, watched her, and smiled. When did her limbs get so long that she was able to hoist herself into the tree un assisted? We walked a few more steps and she laughed at the birds balancing on the phone line… causing me to look up and laugh too. Friends, this is a depth of life that we all must strive to remember. We used to live like this, and I believe by having a few more of these moments in each day, our lives become deeper. 

Perhaps this is a bit of what Jesus meant when He said,

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

Kids are amazing— they are able to stay focused on the single thing before them. They are aware, in awe, and observant— not to mention: trusting, joyful, and believing. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How can I become like a child in some of my ways of relating to God? Trusting Him completely. Believing He will do what He says He will do. Stop maneuvering, manufacturing my own way and trust Him and His way. 

How can I become more like a child in my day to day living? Take a moment to feel the grass, climb the tree 😉 , and laugh at innocent, simple things. God has been teaching me a lot the last few years about being present (see my blog all about this: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/02/26/fully-present/ ) and being mindful. The more we practice and treasure this ability, the stronger we will feel the effects. 

We can start slow….and recognize and appreciate every moment of progress we make. I believe it has a type of snowball effect… the more we encourage ourselves to live in the moment, do  it, realize it, open our eyes in awareness towards it… the more it will grow. 

Other ideas we can do this week: (I’d like to hear yours too!) 

  • We can mindfully read the word. Maybe instead of just “getting through the chapter for the day” we can try slowing down and reading until a verse catches our attention. Then we can sit with that verse, dwell on it…. Try not to hurry and scurry from it. Perhaps we’ll just place a bookmark there and (gasp) not get through our chapter for the day. That’s okay. We are on God’s schedule now. 
  • We can take “five senses” pauses in the day. We can take breaks to see what truly see what is around us. Maybe while at the coffee shop… we can stop scrolling for a minute and look around… what is there to see? Or when the call, “Mom, mom!” comes we can challenge ourselves to take a moment to truly look into our kids eyes. I know it sounds basic but at the pace of life we are living in this world, even little things like this can be lost. Just recapturing them and treasuring these moments can lead us to deeper and fuller lives. 
  • And like I said before… getting into nature automatically ushers me into a place of restoration. Whether it is sitting on the porch, taking a walk, even looking at a favorite nature picture (maybe a favorite beach or mountain scenery) all these things can lead to a heart “break”: a moment for us to truly just BE. And breathe.