Author Archives: Melissa Markham


Surrender is not a term we think of favorably. We think of giving up, handing over, losing. Surrendering is an act of trust and faith – we have to trust that the one we are surrendering too will accept our offer and that they will treat us well or at least with dignity. It doesn’t always work out that way, but when we surrender to God, we are always the winner.

I am in the middle of a trilogy of books written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. The first book was on Brokenness – until we are truly broken and we stop relying on ourselves, we don’t have room for God. We need to let go of pride, or myths about ourselves and of secrets so that God can fill us and use us for the life he has planned for us.

The second book and the one that has led me to write today is Surrender. I just finished the fifth chapter and Ms. Demoss’s insights hit home. I want to share some of them with you here. If you would like to get the book for yourself, there is a link below. There is a lot of great information here and if you are looking to grow closer to God and to fulfilling his plan for your life, this is a great place to start.

In this chapter, she talks about Abraham/Abram and how he continued to trust in God and follow his commands. He surrendered his will to God many times – he left his home, he gave the best land to his nephew, and ultimately he offered his only, long-awaited son as a sacrifice. This particular surrender of Abraham’s has always amazed me and I have prayed that God would never ask me to make such a sacrifice. I cannot even imagine starting the journey to the mountain top that Abraham made with Isaac – much less completing it.

But God, knowing Abraham’s heart, stayed his hand and provided a sacrifice to go in Isaac’s stead. Much like he did for us when he became flesh and died on the cross. He wants our love. He wants a relationship with us and he wants us to surrender.

We are afraid of surrendering though. We are afraid of what we will be asked to do. We worry about whether God will really provide for us (and part of this comes from confusing our wants with needs). We are afraid that we won’t be able to have fun anymore. We are afraid for our safety if we step out as Christians. We are afraid of being asked to leave family, friends, comfort and of being asked to sacrifice personal relationships to follow God.  Ms. DeMoss points out that the things we seek to hold on to can actually become tyrannical masters if we are not careful. Check these out below – all of this comes from her book.

  1. Provision:  If we are unwilling to trust God in the matter of provision, we may be tyrannized by greed, stealing, cheating, lack of generosity, lying, worrying, coveting or centering our lives around money.
  2. Pleasure: If we are unwilling to trust God with our happiness and well-being, and we insist on the temporal pleasures, we may become dominated by overeating, getting drunk or using drugs, sexual promiscuity, adultery, pornography, obsession with television or films or novels, being irresponsible, or living beyond our means.
  3. Protection:  If we do not entrust our safety to God, but demand human assurance of protection and security, we may be overwhelmed by fearfulness, worry, mistrust of people, obsession with weapons, unwillingness to be vulnerable, fear of intimacy, tendencies toward violence, hatred, prejudice, conspiracy theories, or paranoid-type thoughts.
  4. Personal Relationships: If we do not value Him as our primary relationship, we will live in fear of losing human relationships and will set ourselves up to be tyrannized by such things as possessiveness, giving or taking abuse, adultery, promiscuity, gossip, obsessive or controlling relationships, lust, dissatisfaction, unforgiveness, bitterness, manipulation, dishonesty or jealousy.

Wow, the downside of not surrendering to God is pretty intense!   Surrender means eternal life, joy in all circumstances, fulfillment, a constant companion, and being part of the greatest story ever written. So, why do we persist in holding back? In holding on to our petty pleasures and things?  We are afraid. We also live in a culture where control of one’s life is paramount.

I see some of these unhappy consequences in my own life. I see them in friends and family that I care about. It is not enough to surrender some, we must surrender all – this isn’t easy, but our God is patient and always waiting. I want to let go of the things I still hold on to. I want to help the people I love to do the same. And I want to help those I don’t know move into God’s plan for their lives. Where do I start? First with prayer. Second with reading – the bible, Third with community-in some ways I believe this may be the most important. God made us to bolster one another up. It is important and necessary for us to have other Christians for a face to face sounding board. People who know us, who see us and who will gently point out when we are holding on instead of letting go. If you don’t have a close group, make it your New Year’s Resolution to find or create one.


10 Reasons to Smile

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”  Phyllis Diller

Phyllis knew what so many of us forget – smiling makes the world a brighter place. She was an American stand-up comedienne, actress, singer, dancer, and voice artist, best known for her eccentric stage persona, her self-deprecating humor, her wild hair and clothes, and her exaggerated, cackling laugh. I remember her crazy hair!

Phyllis Diller

You couldn’t help but smile when you looked at her…and when she started talking or laughing – your smile grew bigger until you were laughing right along with  her. Smiling does make everything okay – it is virtually impossible to stay angry if you put a smile on your face.  Here are some of my favorite reasons to smile.


1. Smile at a stranger…it makes them feel connected with the world and may end up being the beginning of a friendship.

2. Smiling uses less muscles than frowning (and this leads to fewer wrinkles).

3. Smiling is contagious. If you smile in a meeting or a store or on a bus…you can watch as smiles start appearing on the faces around you – even when they don’t know what they are smiling about. And sometimes it can lead to contagious laughter like in this video.

4. Smiling brightens up your face – go look at yourself in the mirror – try smiling, frowning and neither. There is a huge increase in your attractiveness factor when you are smiling.

5. We learn as babes that no one can resist a smile – this carries through as an adult. If you are at a party and one person you are interested in meeting is smiling and another one you are interested in meeting is neutral or frowning – who are you going to go meet.

6. Smiling can make people wonder what you know that they don’t.

7. Smiling can make people wonder what you are up to and be a great conversation starter.

8. Smiling can often lead to laughter which is a great way to exercise your insides and fill your body up with happy endorphins!

9. Smiling reaches across all kinds of distances – anger, unhappiness, frustration – you never know but your smile could help someone else out of a deep, dark pit.

10. Smiling makes you feel good.

One of my all time favorite songs – it is sure to make you smile!

Speak Up and Be Heard!

“Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte. Portarit of Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821 at the battle. Detail of a painting by Joseph Chabord 1786-1848. Museo Napoleonico, Rome Italy

Napoleon Bonaparte. Portarit of Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821 at the battle. Detail of a painting by Joseph Chabord 1786-1848. Museo Napoleonico, Rome Italy


Napoleon was a brilliant man, but the quote above is simply common sense if taken at face value. What captured my thoughts about the quote was what I notice so often in my own life – those who speak up are heard.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease…stand up and be counted…these are other ways of saying the same thing. I have had this work for me and against me. I speak up, but not always loudly enough or at the right times.

As a youngster, I was often called ‘teacher’s pet.’ This was mainly because I couldn’t stand an unanswered question. Our teacher would be standing at the front of the room and ask a question. The students would often stare at her/him as though they were speaking a foreign language. I got to the point of where I would wait to raise my hand to make sure others had an opportunity to do so, but if no one did and I knew the answer, my hand went up. Much like musicians can’t stand to hear a song cut off in mid-note, I couldn’t stand to have a question hanging in the air…unanswered.

As an adult, this habit in me has continued. I don’t want to come off like a know it all, but it strikes me as disrespectful to leave a teacher hanging while everyone stares at them or off into space or studiously at their papers and books in front of them. Times that I have been in the teaching position, and have had that occur to me have left me feeling frustrated – do the students know the answer? Did I teach it correctly?  Won’t someone speak to me!?  So, I wait and see if someone else will volunteer, then my hand goes up…much like a person who has offered their hand for a ‘five’ only to watch the person walk away – I can’t stand to leave the teacher hanging.

However, this can bite one in the butt. Sometimes, the person doesn’t really want a response – I have found this to be true in business meetings. Or perhaps the person leading the meeting wants the response, but the others in the room don’t – either because they are afraid that what you say will upset the person in charge or they want the meeting to just be over with and if people speak, this leads to conversation and takes time.

At one of my previous jobs, the head of the company was coming for a meet and greet – basically a chance for him to hear from those in the trenches as to what was working and what wasn’t. Supposedly a time for the front line to speak up while the generals stayed quiet. However, prior to the meeting, the generals were busy sounding out the troops and trying to guide them as to what might be okay to say and what might be better left unsaid. This was all done in the guise of the issue that the commander-in-chief was a numbers guy and if you said something you better be able to back it up with numbers. So the generals were looking out for you and would provide you with said numbers or encourage you to let it slide until more research was done because the commander-in-chief had been known to get a bit fussy at times. Sounded like hogwash to me and like generals trying to cover their backsides.

So, I went to said meeting determined just to keep my thoughts to myself. I didn’t want to rock the boat any more than the next guy. Plus, surely there were plenty of others who would speak up. HA!  I got there and it was just like being back in school again – a question would be asked and all of my co-workers stared off into space with smiles plastered on to their faces. Obviously they were just as concerned about speaking up as I was. So, since the commander-in-chief had come a long way to see us, I felt like he needed something. I tentatively spoke up about something that I knew our customers really liked. I mean, you can’t go wrong with positive feedback, right?

Right! He was thrilled – turned out what I brought up was something he was kind of keen on as well. This continued as he asked questions and received few responses. I would wait, then I would jump in. Afterwards, I was congratulated by others for talking and he thanked me for my input. Phew…I felt like I had traversed the proverbial mine field without getting blown up!  Well, at least until I stopped by to see my General, but that is another story…

At any rate, it is very true that only those that speak up are heard. Take the plunge – speak up and make a difference! And show respect to the head of the classroom or meeting by being an active participant! I promise, they will appreciate your courage and input.

Octopus News

I love to learn about the world around me and the animals in it! Check out these two fun videos that show you just how quick an octopus can be! I didn’t know they could come out on land like that or that they fancied being paparazzi or that they could show Houdini a trick or two! Warning, a little bad language at the end of the first video.

Tuesday’s Tips: Purchase a Diagnostic Check Engine Auto Scanner

I drive a 2003 Nissan Xterra that has almost 200,000 miles on it. With age and use, more little odds and ends need some TLC. I recently had my car inspected – spark plugs were replaced and my check engine light went out. It had been on for several months. I was doing the happy dance…for about 16 hours.The next morning, it flashed back on.

When I saw my dad the next weekend, I mentioned it to him. He went to his shop – where everything necessary to fix anything with resides. He came back with a check engine scanner. Within minutes, we knew what was wrong with my truck and we were able to fix it very simply (some new hoses). I decided I needed one of these in my arsenal and bought the one that I have linked to below. No more dreading that little light popping up. I can simply plug this in and it will give me codes to help me determine what is wrong with my truck. Then I can use YouTube to figure out how to fix it and save myself a bucket of money! I highly recommend adding this to your tool box if you have a vehicle from 1996 or later.

9-11: A Tribute and Images, Never Forget

We all remember where and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. I was at home with Jack and Katrina and Daniel was starting a new job in Canada. I was trying to get some cleaning done before taking Katrina for her 18 month shots. The phone rang – it was Daniel. I was a bit impatient as I was on a bit of a time schedule. He asked if I had heard about a plane hitting a building in NYC. He said the internet in Canada was jammed and everyone was talking about it, but he didn’t have any details. My first thought was ‘sad, but I’ve got stuff to do.’

I turned on the news and the world stopped. I watched in horror as I saw smoke pouring out of WTC1, then I saw a second plane hit WTC2. I was numb as I watched the devastation, saw the people running, the smoke, the bodies. I saw footage about the Pentagon, about a field in Pennsylvania. I was terrified and my husband was in another country.

I still had to take Katrina to the doctor. The radio was filled with stories of bombs and shootings in D.C.  These later turned out to be mostly untrue. We were under attack. And there was no idea of how big this attack was going to be. I sat in the doctor’s office with other quiet families. Children played with toys while we listened to radio reports. We were all stunned. Then I found out all air travel had been stopped. How would Daniel get home?

For the next couple of days, I couldn’t stop watching the television. The kids played in their playroom as I tried to take in what had happened and what this meant for our country. 14 years later – so many changes in our lives – barriers where they didn’t exist before, stricter regulations with air travel, our nation always on alert, wars, fear. So much has changed. I wonder if the terrorists had any idea how far reaching their act of hatred would be?

In 2006, I took part in a project called 2,996. It was to remember each of those who died on 9-11. I wrote about Lt. John A. Crisci.

Images flooded as the world came to our side. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Here you will find images that we saw time and again – painful, heart breaking, but they should never be forgotten. You will find some of the editorial cartoons and other images that touched me most below.

Liberty WeepsUncle_Sam_and_Fallen_HeroFirefighters in heavenflag-with-PD-Fire-and-PA-Pa911_tribute1-1024x7689-11-tragedyrememberBefore_and_AfterWe-will-never-forgetrainbows 91015We-will-never-forget


TBT: Ginger and Plato – Our Lovely Dogs!

8 years ago last month we drove to Pennsylvania and picked up Ginger. 8 years ago this month, we drove to West Virginia and got Plato. Ginger is a pure bred Irish Setter and Plato is a Golden Doodle.

TBT Plato Ginger

They have been such a joy to us. Plato loves chasing balls and has since the beginning – Ginger caught on to the fun, but it took her a bit longer. Ginger loves to bark and to come inside and pretend she is a lap dog! Plato just wants to run and play.

Business Idea: Renting Space for a Percentage of Profits

I see more and more little stores having to move locations due to high rent fees. I hear stories about a local mall that raises the rent during Christmas time, which coincides with the time of year when stores are finally making their profit for the year. And apparently, the raise is too high making it difficult for the stores to survive.

I have been reading articles such as how communities are working together to promote business and better lives for the folks that live in the community. For instance: How Seattle Made Dark Alleys Safer and how one company is helping its workers own homes in just a few years. These are examples of thinking outside of the box and coming up with awesome solutions.

What if business property owners charged a percentage of your profits instead of a set rate? So, when you are just starting out, your rent is low – say $100 a month. There should be some kind of minimum based on the area. Then, once a percentage of what you make exceeds the base rent, you would add that on to what you pay.

For instance, say the base rent is $100 a month and you agree to pay the $100 a month or 10% of your profits, whichever is greater. By month 3, you are making $2000 a month in profit. Now you are paying $200  a month.  In month 4, you make $5000 in profit, then you would pay $500.  Say that month 6 is slow and you only make $3000, then you would only pay $300.  It seems to me that in the long run, this would be a good business model for property owners and store owners.

It would give store owners a varying amount of capital to increase their business with based on how well their business is doing. This would help prevent businesses that are successful overall to fold due to a few bad months. It would also benefit property owners as it would make the sky the limit. Your profit will rise as the profits of the store increases. And it would make property owners more responsive to the needs of their store. If a store owner says…hey, our profits would be better if you improved the lighting in the store – the property owner then becomes a bit more invested as the store owner’s profits directly affect him.

Probably never happen…just a thought I had.

Tuesday’s Tip: Goo Gone

This week’s tip is to add Goo Gone to your grocery shopping list! One bottle will last you a very long time and it will save you time and aggravation! I was first introduced to Goo Gone by my friend, Carole, back when I was selling books and nostalgic items on eBay. Sometimes those items with come with a sticky residue that needed to be removed, but in a way that wouldn’t damage the item. Goo Gone is my go to item! I have used it to remove sticky residue left behind from price stickers, stuck on gum, car decals, and more. And it has a nice lemony scent! Other things that Goo Gone will take care of removing: silicone caulk, adhesive, sealants, tree sap, wet paint, glue, asphalt, ink, marker, soot, tar and wax. No home should be without!