My Most Curious Blog Entry, Period

Well, I’m almost 48 years old and definitely menopausal. Before you tell me that I’m too young for menopause, let me assure you, I’ve done my research.

According to The North American Menopause Society, (you can find them at www.menopause.org) “Natural menopause is the spontaneous, permanent ending of menstruation that is not caused by any medical treatment.” Menopause is a normal, natural event. It’s defined as the final menstrual period and is confirmed when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. “Women will likely experience natural menopause between ages 40 and 58 averaging around age 51.”

I’m not sensitive to my climbing digits and I welcome the end of menstruation. That being said, why have I chosen to write about this in today’s blog? That’s a plausible question considering I never write about anything clinical or scientific. My blog is called, Rhyme, Reason & Real Life, after all. Ding, ding, ding! Menopause, you’ve hit the mark! I’m going to talk about you and still stay on topic. Not only is menopause currently part of my real life, I’ve also written a poem about it… that rhymes!

No. I don’t have writer’s block.

No. I did not spin a wheel of topics to determine what I should write about today with said wheel unfortunately landing on the topic of menopause.

But I have been experiencing a well-known symptom of menopause lately; and instead of letting it frustrate me, I decided to find the humor in it and write about it. I’m not sure my husband is laughing, but he is at least trying to “dwell with me with understanding.” (1 Peter 3:7)

As you may have guessed by now, I’ve been having hot-flashes! These sudden changes in body temperature now dictate the way I style my hair, the clothes I wear and how I sleep at night. And as if that wasn’t enough of an invasion, they have also assigned themselves co-writers of my blog! So let’s just give them their five minutes of fame and be done with it! Shall we?

Introducing, Hot-flashes and the written work they have inspired…

I’m On Fire (Ode to Menopause)

To say I’m menopausal is simply to begin

A million, genetic embers attack me from within

With an apocalyptic fever found beneath my skin

I know you understand if you’re one of my kin

The original sin kind

Under the curse

It could be worse

Christ took our punishment 

His sacrifice makes us free

My heart is clean

Hormones, don’t you know you’re redeemed?!

One minute I’m frozen

The next, a glistening, white flame

My husband? Who’s that?

I’ve forgotten his name

I can’t lie close to him at night

His romantic heart I can’t tend

I’m focused on my new loves

A solemn mattress and the wind

A solemn mattress with no covers

Just a simple, fitted sheet

The wind- so much wind

Above, across and around me

And if the wind is kind

It will lull me to sleep

Only to awaken 

Brushed by flames

My husband’s feet!

 

Have you experienced anything like this? You’ve gotta laugh. Right? If you have, I’d love to hear your funny stories. Men, I’m talking to you too. My husband could tell you all about his near-death experiences with a 10 pound, fleece blanket that was tossed over his face in the middle of the night. Men, thank you for being patient with your wives during this season of life. Let me just say, during a hot flash, no part of your body must touch another part of your body. That is why you may walk into your bedroom and find your wife making snow angels in the bed. Only to her, it feels like she’s making snow angels on a bed of hot coals! If this happens to you, just find your Bible and read 1Peter 3:7… again.

 

 

Restless

If I were to believe life is like a Hallmark movie then I would believe that most women out there feel restless, tired of life’s monotony and ready for something new. That is how I feel; maybe I watch too many Hallmark movies. Maybe I do, but I have felt like this for a long time.

I have a lot to be grateful for. Life is good; and safe. But something inside of me longs for adventure- not the cookie-cutter life, something beyond the routine. I can’t explain it. I often feel guilty about it.

I’ve questioned whether it’s scriptural to want change, whether it’s Godly, holy.

“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NLT                   

“I am the Lord and I do not change…” Malachi 3:6a NLT   

“…He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:7b NLT 

It seems like an open and shut case. But wait!

“For I am about to do something new…” Isaiah 43:19a NLT

 “And who would pour fresh, new wine into an old wineskin? Eventually the wine will ferment and make the wineskin burst, losing everything- the wine is spilled and the wineskin ruined. Instead, new wine is always poured into a new wineskin so that both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17  The Passion Translation

“Great is His faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23 NLT

God is faithful, consistent, steady, but He’s also always working, moving and doing something NEW!

I don’t need to be guilty for the way I feel, but I’m still not sure what’s going on here or why I feel this way. Don’t get me wrong, I know I started this post by mentioning Hallmark movies, but new love isn’t what I’m looking for. I have the man of my dreams and I thank God for him multiple times a day! As a matter of fact… these adventures I’m longing for… I want to share any and all of them with him!

It’s such a strange place to be in- the place where you’re so thankful for what you have, but you aren’t attached to it. For some reason, I’m longing to be a minimalist- to detach from stuff and to just be somewhere beautiful with the people I love and my basic needs, (give or take my Bible, music and a few good books.)

I’m going to be 48 this year, maybe I’m at the beginning of what’s referred to as a midlife crisis. (I thought only men had those?) Why do they call it a crisis? I think it’s just a transition in one’s thinking. We grow up thinking fame and fortune and the accumulation of things are what will make us happy. Then we get some life-experience under our belt and we realize those things are beautiful and shiny on the outside, but hollow on the inside. King Solomon knew a little about this. He had everything you could ever want and yet he called it all meaningless. (See the book of Ecclesiastes.)

I know, of course, that only God can help me (or you) find meaning and fill our empty places. He created us with a purpose- to worship Him. He created us with an agenda- good works He planned for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) So why? How is it possible to still feel a void when you are drawing close to God and doing His will as you understand it to be? I’m not sure.

Maybe I’m in a transition phase? Maybe God is preparing me for something else? Having gone through two pregnancies, I remember how scared I was at the beginning of them, especially the first one. I also remember how I felt at the nine month mark; I was over being pregnant. The moment the fear of labor and delivery takes a back seat to the desire to just be done with pregnancy and see your child(ren), you are in the right state of mind to give birth! This present desire outweighs the previous fear and gives you the strength and determination to take on the challenge!

The fear of the unknown is real for me and many other people, but I am almost at the point I mentioned earlier. I am almost at the place where my desire to give birth, (in a spiritual sense) is greater than my fear. I am tired of giving God a list of conditions that need to be met before I can go forward into something new, into those good works He has planned for me. To be honest, I don’t like the feeling of being out of control, but I am just about ready to trust Him completely, even with the unknown.

Hide and Seek

For a country kid, a church graveyard is just a great place for hide and seek.

Every once in a while, we’d climb the hill behind our house until we reached the little white church. Then the game would begin!

We would take off running, weaving in and out between saints and sinners and pick a spot.

Barely old enough for school, we were just the right size to fit behind a tombstone.

I remember walking around studying those stately monuments and looking at all the different colors of marble. I was always fascinated by the double heart shaped ones.

Finding our last names on one of them was amazing and our minds wandered as we tried to imagine what the people looked like and what their stories might have been.

Sometimes if we planned it out right, we’d bring a snack with us and have a picnic under a tall, shady tree.

I don’t remember the counting much and I don’t even remember being found. But I do remember running and hiding, which is a funny thing if you think about it.

The saints in our playground had been found. Found forgiven by a loving savior whose free gift of redemption they had accepted. Leaving their own wills at the altar, (maybe even the one in that little white church) they made a decision to follow Jesus.

The sinners had most surely done their own share of running and hiding. But they too were now found; not found forgiven, but eternally separated from the same loving savior whom they had rejected.

But we were young; preoccupied with the business of living.

“Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.”

Isaiah 55:6-7 NLT

Child of Summer

Runnin’ around barefoot

Makin’ mud pies

Eatin’ salted watermelon on the front porch, feet danglin’

Suntannin’ on the roof of an old, broken-down Chevy

Drinkin’ ice-cold well water from a long-handled, tin dipper

Wadin’ in the cool creek, trying not to slip, watching crawdads wiggle in the deep end

Singin’ radio hits at the top of my lungs

Mamaw givin’ us each a dollar

Walkin’ to the store with my cousins

Pickin’ out penny candies for as long as it took: toffees, rootbeer barrels, caramels, butterscotch disks and bubblegum

Mamaw, her head out the window, watching the comings and goings, trying to catch a deep breath

Baths in the washtub- the dirtiest went last

Pokin’ holes in the lid of an old Mason Jar

Catchin’ lightnin’ bugs just before dark

Lyin’ on a pallet on the floor next to Mamaw’s bed

Watchin’ the jar of lightnin’ bugs flash off and on until we drifted off to sleep

Dedicated to my Mamaw Maggie, my Kentucky cousins and my Uncle Leroy- a coal miner. He was the dirtiest.

Mothers

Mother’s Day Re-Post

MechelleRitchieFoster.wordpress.com

404981_3398760005410_2034308999_n My mother and me. 1972

Mothers will always be mothers.
Remembering how proud they were when you learned to crawl.
Surprised to see you running.

Always looking at you like you were still a fresh infant.
Head tilted, half-smiling, eyes full of almost-tears. Calling you “Baby” and “Sugar” in front of people… you know… anddon’t know.

Mothers will always be mothers they will.
And they will sacrifice so much.
But you will never know it, if they are the good kind.
And you will never understand it until you become one.

Mechelle Ritchie Foster

Dedicated to my mother. She raised two girls on her own, always putting us first.

She is the good kind.

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Soccer, Tears and Wedding Bells

It has been years since I’ve written a blog post. It’s a blessing to be able to make money doing something you enjoy, but when the joy disappears, it’s time to take a break. I’ve done that and now it’s time to start again.

As you can imagine, much has happened since my last post. My son started playing soccer and then stopped playing soccer when he broke the longest and strongest bone in his body…his femur! That happened in January and we still have doctor’s appointments and X-rays. God was good and my son is fine. He isn’t cleared to play sports yet and for now that’s fine with me.

My daughter got married in February of this year, about a month after my son’s injury. He still took part in the wedding, walking down the aisle with swag and a pair of crutches.

With so much going on, my husband and I found ourselves emotionally drained. We were not expecting the effect these two events would have on us. My husband would catch me crying in one room and a few minutes later I’d catch him crying in another. We have talked to close friends about this and it seems to be the norm when the fledglings leave the nest. Transition isn’t an easy thing. Thank God for God.

I guess I have a lot more to say than I thought I would in this post. Honestly, I planned on writing about something else entirely; but that’s okay. If you are going through an emotional time right now, whether it be an injured child, an empty nest or something else, God is there to help.

I had a crazy dream last night. I am getting older and many women say menopause causes your dreams to be more bizarre and vivid. I have to say, I agree with them. Last night I dreamed I was driving my friends’ truck with a Winnebago attached to it. I backed up the truck and Winneabego, (which I would NEVER do in reality) and lost control of the vehicle which resulted in the destruction of everything behind me and around me. When the vehicle finally came to a stop, I just sat there stunned. I was not looking forward to explaining what happened to my friends. When I woke up, I was beyond relieved! Then I had this thought, “How can you help someone when their devastation is REAL? When you can’t do anything to make it go away?” Then I heard that still small voice… “Give them hope that is eternal and be there when they need you.”

You see, we can’t always change the circumstances, whether it be our own or of the ones we love. We CAN, however encourage ourselves and others with the eternal hope that God’s Word speaks of- Jesus. We CAN lend a hand or give a hug. We CAN listen. We CAN wipe a tear, or send a card. Life can be so daily sometimes. Then other times it’s unpredictable, hard and sad; but with God’s help and with each other we can make it.

1Peter 1:1-25

 

“Luke, I am your father.” Darth Vader

MechelleRitchieFoster.wordpress.com

1-darth-vadar-skullWhen I think about the word father, the first thing that comes to my mind is this quote, “Luke, I am your father.” I know. Weird, huh? You say, “father” and I think of Darth Vader. You may think about the day your dad taught you to ride a bike or the time he took you camping. You may remember fishing with your dad or the gaudy tie you gave him for Father’s Day that he wore proudly because it was from you, his child. I’ve never met my dad, so I don’t have any warm, fuzzy feelings about him or memories to draw upon while writing this entry.

I can, however, write about my father, God. I recognized Him as my father when I was 11 years old. From that point on, He put men in my life who would step up and be the paternal example that I…

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Awkward Family Photos

Tonight I decided to look at family photos with my kids. I asked them if they were interested and they seemed to be into it. So, I got out the “picture books” and  sat down in the middle of the couch, with room for one kid on each side of me.

I have to say, I have forgotten many things from my childhood; and the childhood memories I do have, have a corresponding picture. The pictures reinforce the memories. This is one of the reasons I think pictures are so important, and one of the reasons why I take so many pictures.

It has, unfortunately, been years since we have taken the time to look at old pictures together. Most of our pictures are digital these days and even though I have a digital frame, it’s just not the same.

I have been thinking about this activity for days and really thought it would be a good way to reconnect with the kids. I am so thankful that God gave me a sense of humor. If He didn’t, my spirit would have been crushed tonight.

The first problem with my “picturesque” activity was that there were too many pictures of my daughter and not enough of my son. The fact that she was alive for six years before he was born was irrelevant to him. It was obvious that I like her better and therefore have more pictures of her.

I also found out that I really hurt my daughter because I didn’t let her carry my son around when he was a newborn. She was only six, but that was beside the point. It took her a long time to like babies because of my heartless ways. I tried to explain that she was my first six-year-old and I had no idea how capable six-year-olds are; If I had, I most certainly would have let her carry him around. But alas, the damage has been done.

Earlier in the evening my son told me how cruel I was to make him eat lettuce when he was little. He even performed a reenactment. My daughter sat on a stool and played the part of my son. My son played me and held a white plate in his hand that represented the lettuce plate. I made him try lettuce with ranch, lettuce with italian, lettuce with honey mustard and plain lettuce. Apparently, he would be an avid lettuce consumer, but because of me, he doesn’t eat lettuce to this day! What child can stand in the wake of my recklessness?! I ask you?

During our pictorial travels, we came across a picture of a little black shitzu that we kept for a weekend when the kids were little. It was then I learned that I have ruined the kids lives because I didn’t keep that little dog. My daughter was eight at the time and my son was two. The little dog was sweet, but I am not an animal person. The dog pooped in the house and then my son picked it up! That was it for me! He had to go! (The dog, not my son.) The next picture was of our trip to the pet store to buy our first pet…clown fish. “See, kids! We bought you pets! Clown fish!” “They are dead,” said my daughter.

And as if their lives were not tragic enough, somehow, the topic of breast-feeding came up. My daughter has admissible proof that she is NOT the favorite. Why? Because my son was breast-fed and she was not! Because of this, she did not get the nutrients that she needed as an infant! This, my son pointed out, is the reason he is smarter than her!

This love fest made me declare that I am obviously a horrible mother and if it wasn’t for the fact that I cook and clean, I would have to go! My son was quite perplexed and asked me where I would go. I assured him that there were plenty of people who would take me in. Then he said, “Yeah. But who would drive you there?”

A few shoulder punches were thrown and we laughed so hard we cried.

Foster Awkward Family Photo

2000- Our family before our son was born. This proves nothing.

 

 

 

5 Things I’ve Learned About Church

Last year was a tough year for me. I dealt with some severe allergies and I spent the year, with God’s help, changing my lifestyle and reclaiming my health. For that reason, I haven’t posted anything in over a year. However, I really want to start writing again. I feel like I’m getting rusty and I want to continue to grow as a writer. I also feel that each of us has God-given gifts and we need to use them. If we do, our lives and the lives of those around us will be enriched.

After a year of literary silence, there are so many things to write about and it’s really hard to choose a subject. However, since I like to write about things that mean something to me; things that I have personal experience with, that does narrow things down a bit.

My pastor, (and husband) has been preaching for the last several weeks on the topic: “I love my church.” The messages have been encouraging and challenging and have inspired me today to write about the church. I’m speaking from my own perspective here. I won’t be quoting Barna or any other statistician or any theologians. I just want to take some of my random thoughts and organize them a little in regard to this subject. Maybe this will help me have a better perspective on what the church is and maybe it will help someone else who is disillusioned about the church.

I’ve been going to church since I was five years old and through the years, it has been my perception that the people who went to church were Christians, Christ-followers. It was my perception that they used The Bible as their compass and their lifestyles were morally pure. Church, in my mind, was a safe place to be and everyone at church could be trusted. Naive? Yes. But I really had great experiences in church and the people I went to church with became like a second family to me.

So here’s the deal. I’m old enough now and have seen enough foolishness to know that my previous perception is not entirely accurate. Not everyone who goes to church is a Christian. Not everyone who goes to church is a Christ-follower. Not everyone who goes to church lives a life that is morally pure; and they may not even read The Bible except when they’re in church. But wait! Before you start dropping the “H” word, I’m not quite finished with my stream of consciousness yet.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from being in church for almost four decades:

1. Not everyone who goes to church has it all figured out. (In fact, no one does.)

2. Not every churchgoers’ life is a mirror of The Bible or the life of Christ.

3. Many people who attend church are miserable. They’ve tried living life without any direct input from God and their life is a mess.

4. Everyone who goes to a church has a story and they are all different. So it doesn’t work to make assumptions about people.

5. Not everyone who goes to church is going to be a good influence in your life or lead you to closer to God.

It’s also been my experience, that many people expect the pastor to live everyone’s life and call out everyone’s short-comings, while other people expect the pastor to just look past sin in the name of love or grace. There is a balance here and it isn’t easy to achieve. Church leadership, MUST present God’s Word to the church. The Bible instructs us not to add to God’s Word and not to take from it. It’s God’s Word, not ours and I for one HATE to be misquoted! Don’t you?

So, what’s the bottom line here? Why go to church at all? Because the Bible instructs us to do so:

Hebrews 10:25 New Living Translation
“Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near.”

Church is a place to start or strengthen your journey of faith. It’s a place for the hurting and the broken. It’s a family. It’s people, all kinds of people, linking arms and saying, “Let’s encourage each other to be closer to Jesus today than we were yesterday. Let’s hold each other accountable and warn each other when we are making choices that have the potential to separate us from God.” It’s a place where God’s Word, (all of it) should be taught. It’s a place where people should be encouraged to develop their God-given talents.

And by the way, the pastor of the church isn’t perfect, the pastor’s family isn’t perfect and neither are the people who attend. So don’t let the thought that you aren’t good enough keep you from church, because no one is good enough and they never will be.

And on the opposite side of the coin, don’t assume the pastor is overlooking sin when he doesn’t respond to, or correct people the way you think he should. Like I said earlier, there is a balance here and it’s possible that the pastor knows more about the situation than you do. It’s possible that the pastor is working through an issue with that person. I’ve been guilty of this. I have pretty strong convictions when it comes to my lifestyle and it’s hard for me to spend time with people who live in a way that contrary to the way I feel God wants me to live. I have to check my attitude constantly and ask myself if I really love people or not. I am not talking about judging here. The Bible is clear about sin. God has defined sin in His word and He’s the judge, not me. However, if I live in a way that is contrary to God’s word, I am sinning. If you are living in a way that is contrary to God’s Word, you are sinning. And sin separates us from God. I am talking about loving someone who is sinning. Should we do that? Yes. If we want to follow God’s example we should:

John 15:13 New Living Translation
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Romans 5:8 New Living Translation
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Some people have always tried to do the right thing, but maybe they struggle with pride. Some people struggle with life controlling issues. Some people struggle with insecurity and have never felt loved by anyone, even God. Whatever camp you’re in, or whether you’re in another camp entirely, there is a place in church for all of us, because we ALL have sinned and we ALL need Jesus, The Savior.

Romans 3:23
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

And The Savior says we need each other. He doesn’t recommend living this life alone. That’s because we all have an enemy, Satan, and his mission is to steal, kill and destroy. We make his job a lot easier when we withdraw from the church, (believers.)

Final Thoughts:
Take a fresh look at the church. Lay aside your past experience or your inexperience. Do your homework. Call a few churches and ask questions or visit and grab a brochure. Check the church’s website. Find out what they believe. Ask The Lord to guide you. He will. However, you don’t need to be in a church to begin a relationship with God. You can do that right now, wherever you’re at.

1 John 1:9
“But if we confess our sins to Him (Jesus), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I hope you have begun that relationship. I have and I would never again want to live without Jesus. I also don’t want to live without God’s people. We need each other.

God bless you,
Mechelle

Mothers

404981_3398760005410_2034308999_n

My mother and me. 1972

Mothers will always be mothers.
Remembering how proud they were when you learned to crawl.
Surprised to see you running.

Always looking at you like you were still a fresh infant.
Head tilted, half-smiling, eyes full of almost-tears. Calling you “Baby” and “Sugar” in front of people… you know… and don’t know.

Mothers will always be mothers they will.
And they will sacrifice so much.
But you will never know it, if they are the good kind.
And you will never understand it until you become one.

Mechelle Ritchie Foster

Dedicated to my mother. She raised two girls on her own, always putting us first.

She is the good kind.