Friday, August 1, 2014


I walked in the blinding heat down the city hill leading to Zion Square.  It was just before Sabbath.  The streets were lined with shoppers, stores busy with sales, American music blaring from store to store bringing a sense of home.  Windows were open, people shouting; it was a happy day.  The dark stone roadway reflected the 100 degree day.  Five young women from around the world connected over Aloe Juice and shopping, popping in each store in awe of the sharp Israeli fashion trends.  Now 14 days into our Israel journey, it was this day that we were saying goodbye.

Was it the heat, the leftover feelings from the girl's night before, the lack of lunch on a hot day that was making me feel introspective?  The spiritual dust of the Israel journey was falling on my heart; clarity was filling my mind, memories of trip after trip to Israel.  And now another one was ending.

We popped in another fashion store.  Trends lined the walls, jewelry hung on floor to ceiling pillars and a song I'd never heard before loudly played.  The song stopped me in my tracks, deepening the introspection.

Tonight, I'm gonna swing from the Chandelier
From the Chandelier.
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist.
Like it doesn't exist.
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, 
Feel my tears as they dry.
I'm gonna swing from the Chandelier
From the Chandelier.

I was entranced with this pop song melody; with the droning of the powerful ballad voice that sang with such emotional passion.  My heart strings pulled through my chest swirling into the atmosphere with each lyric sung.  I stood in front of the jewelry while the other girls were thrilled with their finds.  I picked up a necklace, not wanting the song to end.  What was it about this song?  It was more than a catchy pop song.  "I must buy this song when I get back to the States."  I arrived home in Pennsylvania 15 hours later and my life went on.  I forgot about the song.

A few weeks later, my stepdaughter arrived in Pittsburgh.  We spent time together laughing, shopping, listening to each other's favorite songs, talking about her toddler sister and dance moms.  And would I ever be a dance mom?  I doubt it! We laughed and giggled and that's when the song was brought up.  "Have you seen the video to Chandelier with the Pittsburgh dancer?"

Instantly I was on the streets of Jerusalem again. That Song.  And immediately it was pulled up on her iPhone.  I heard it again.  That song.  That melody.  That same passion that made me want to spin in circles with my arms stretched wide, face turned upward screaming, "I've made it, I've made it, I'M FREE!!!!"  I never wanted to forget that song that stirred such deep emotion in me.

Upon arriving home I played it over and over on my iPad and that's when I learned the meaning of the song.  According to and

Describing the "party girls don't get hurt" lifestyle, Sia's song goes a little further than just the partying. She describes what happens when "sun is up... here comes the shame." 
Uniquely and painfully honest...

"The haunting tale details the Aussie's personal struggles with alcoholism and prescription drugs when she was still pushing her solo career. In a rare interview last year, she told Billboard, "I was really unhappy being an artist. I was always a drinker but I didn't know 
I was an alcoholic. Then I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and Oxycodone." 
Now clean, Sia is expected to drop her sixth studio album."

The song is about the dark side of addiction written by someone who has overcome, and I could feel it.  I felt it before I knew what it meant.  When I read the commentary on the true meaning, my mind went to 12 years earlier.  I was laying on a vintage love seat underneath a black light.  I was covered with a blanket, cramping from head to toe in cocaine withdrawal.  Finally the weed guy arrived and my dad with him.  Knowing I was withdrawing, my dad prayed out loud, "Satan get your hands off my daughter."  I walked hunched over to my high ride and smoked weed with a buddy; the only thing that would calm the cramping.  Next, my mind jumped to an image of me dressed scantily, drinking a bottle of tequila shot for shot, the space between my left thumb and forefinger warping from licking so much salt.  The memories faded.  

Here I stood.  Fully alive.  I looked around at what Jesus had done, when he reached down into my messed up life and said, "Enough is enough."  When he picked me up out of a warped situation away from the parties, away from the drugs, away from the drama and changed me.  When HE started my life over.

I stand clean with a loving husband, a daughter, two stepchildren, a step grandchild, a fabulous career, a ministry....because HE CARED WHEN NOBODY ELSE DID.  

And He took me off the Chandelier.  And He wrapped me in His arms and He loved me when everyone else used me.

I never want to forget the song.  I never want to forget the song.  I never want to forget the song.

Now with true Freedom, I swing from the Chandelier, with joy for sobriety 
and the chance to know an amazing God.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Conversations with Grandma-"Wine"

"Do you like red wine?"  My Grandma inquired recently on one of our visits.  "My doctor says that one glass of red wine a day is good for your heart."  Grandma had atrial fibrillation and needed a pacemaker, but refused to get one.  After losing one son, she had a constant fear that she would outlive my dad and rejected anything that could unnecessarily prolong her life.

"I do enjoy red wine, Grandma."

"I don't like it.  Now a nice white wine, a White Zinfandel, that I like.  But, the doctor says I should have one glass of red wine a day.  So, you know what I do?"

"What, Gram?"  I said with a smile.

Holding up her long, elegant fingers, worn with years of hard work, she measured about a quarter cup between your forefinger and thumb, "I put about this much in a glass and I put it in the refrigerator.  Then in the afternoon, I gulp."  Tilting her gorgeous greyed head back, she threw her make believe glass of chilled Cabernet Sauvignon into her mouth quickly.  "It's the only way I can stomach it, but the doctor says it's good for me, so I drink it."

I laughed with her.  "It's the truth." She said.

Weeks later, I found myself at my Grandmothers numb with grief.  Looking around the apartment that didn't smell like her anymore because she had bought a stupid cinnamon air freshener.  She never had things that smelled like cinnamon.

"Where do you want to start Dawny?"  My dad asked.

"I don't know," I said, walking in a daze, eyes filled with tears, running my hand on her table, her china cabinet, looking at my Tai Pei dresser inheritance that I would trade in a heartbeat to have one more conversation with her. "The Landlord told me we have to clean the fridge and the oven and that's it."  I glanced at dad who was opening the refrigerator to see what needed thrown out and what to keep.

"Dawny, do you want anything in here? She has eggs, butter, cream cheese."  I walked to the refrigerator, bending down to peer in.  On the top shelf sat a glass of chilled Cab Sav with just the amount she had shown me with her graceful hands.  I smiled to myself, my heart swelled with her memory.  Oh, how I miss her.

"The memories of the godly are a blessing."
Proverbs 10:7a

"Beer is made by men, wine by God."
Martin Luther Circa 1500s

Monday, February 17, 2014

Today I learn to live life without her

I went back to work today.  I took the same route.  The same people said hello.  The same people didn't.  The work was there. The emails were there.

But I have changed.

You aren't here.  You can't be called.  I can't visit you.

We still have to clean your apartment, and we're weary with grief.

But, we are moving forward and learning to live without you.

I can feel the peace of God surrounding me.  He promises to , "Be close to the brokenhearted."  He is proving that.

"How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard."  Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conversations with Grandma, "Grandma and Africa"

"You know Dawn, I never fully surrendered my life to God.  I always held onto it a little bit because I was afraid He'd send me to Africa.  And now I look at you.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my little girl would be so surrendered to Him."

"Thanks, Grandma, now I have to go to Africa!"

A cloud of calm sadness shadowed her face as she learned I was going.  She didn't want me to, but she didn't argue with me.  Several days later, I received an envelope in the mail from her.  It was filled with newspaper clippings on terrible things that were happening in Africa!  The envelopes came here and there.  I laughed when I opened them, my heart softened towards her, but remained steadfast on leaving for the medical mission's trip.

Then the letters stopped.  I visited her and she apologized, "I realize you must go, so I'm sorry I sent you clippings to scare you. But I won't give you any money to go, so maybe you won't have enough and can't go."

"That's ok, Grandma, God will do it."  I kissed her and prayed for her as I always did before leaving her home.

Kenya, Africa

I Miss Her

"Dawn Melisser, the little Pisser!"  
"Don't let your mom know I said that." 

Grandma, the pain is so real, so alive, crying out, "You loved someone!"
You took me by the hand from birth, guided me along broken roads, reminding me, "You can conquer."
You kept a watchful eye on guys that would try to harm me.  You let me fight my own battles, while reminding me, "You are a tiger."
I can believe you're gone, but I don't want you to be gone.
I want you here.
But as I prayed the last few weeks, "Please bring Grandma home, and don't let her suffer."
That's what YOU did.
So I will trust.
And Wait.
Until I see you again.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

He Is With You-Deep Cries to Deep Devotion 9

"The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Psalm 121:8

I sat up straight in bed, my heart racing, a cold sweat on face.  The endless banging on doors throughout the house shattered my sleep.  I felt cold, clammy.  "H-h-help me, help me oh..." Eerie Beastie Boys lyrics from the song, "Escape from the Hospital," filled the room. I turned the stereo off, delirious, my eyes not adjusting to the darkness.  I made my way down the hall, visions of demons tormenting my mind, chilled nausea filling my body.  I entered my mom's room, climbing into her bed in tears, "Mom, please pray for me.  I'm tripping again, " yet had not taken any acid, "I don't want to be a vegetable."  The prayer was short and simple in my mom's exhaustion of dealing with my mental state for so long.  "God, please help her."

I walked downstairs, turning on the lights to see my pupils dilated, covering the blue, even with the lights on.  Recalling that acid dilates the eyes, I held my eyes to the light to pin them.  Laying on the couch in the bright living room light, I turned on the T.V. for comfort.  I flipped through the channels to the local Christian station that I did not know existed.  Calming music filled the room and I sensed peace as scenes rolling meadows, sheep grazing, bright morning skies filled the screen one after another.  A Scripture showed up on the screen, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  It remained on the screen, then faded as another nature scene arrived.  "I am the Lord who takes hold of your right hand."  I had never heard these Scriptures before.  Was the God of the Universe reaching down to me?  A 17 year old druggie?  An acid head that had just signed herself out of the mental hospital while remaining stuck in a bad trip for over a week?  The next Scripture confirmed His heart for me, "Do not fear, I will help you."  What were the chances that I would stumble on this at 4 a.m. by flipping through channels and landing on one I didn't know existed?  What are the chances? Divine help.

I will help you.  Our short prayer.  He is going to help me!  Tears poured down my face, I sat up in clarity with clasped hands, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"  I fell asleep in peace for the first time in months.

When we don't know where to turn, turn to Him.  Look up.  Whisper, "Help me," and He will.  Until this day, I am in my right mind.  Until this day, He has helped me.  I wish I could say that encounter set me on a path of seeking Him, surrender to Him, but it did not.  It would be four more years of heartache and self-deprecation before I finally said, "I'll let you help me."

Don't wait.  Let Him help you today.  You are so loved. xoxo

Not my image, subject to copyright

Power Verses

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

"Surely I am with you, even until the end of the age."  Jesus in Matthew 28:20

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety." Psalm 4:8

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's on My Ella Newborn Playlist

**I little something I wrote and never published when Ella was just a few months old.**

Over the months, I have collected 24 random songs on an "Ella Newborn" playlist.  They are an eclectic sort of songs that I sing to her, songs that I've worshiped to in response to my gift of her, and songs I listened to during my first pregnancy 15 years ago.  Here is a sampling with my reasoning.  I love the new memories being made with this songs!

First, I have songs I sing to her on my playlist.  She just LOVES to be sung to.  The first time my mom heard me, I was singing Payphone by Maroon 5.  I think it fits perfectly!  My mom said, "You don't sing lullabies like, "Rock a By Baby?"  "No!" I said, "that song freaks me out...I don't want my baby falling out of a tree!"  My little darling laughs and coos as I sing, not realizing that I'm out of key...or maybe that's why she is laughing?  Here is a sampling.

"Baby Mine" Bette Midler
"Baby mine, don't you cry, Baby mine, dry your eyes, Rest your head close to my heart, Never to party, baby of mine."
This is the first song I sang to her.  It came to my mind daily when I brought her home from the hospital.  It creeps me out!  All I can think about is Dumbo's mom dying when I hear it.  Yet, I couldn't get it out of my mind during her early days.

"Ice Cream" Sarah McLachlan
"Your love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I've tried."
She has an ice cream onesie and since the first day she wore it, this song has become my ballad to her.

"Moon River" Frank Sinatra version
"Moon river, longer than a mile...Two drifters off to see the world, There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, Waiting 'round the bend, My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me."
Scott is my huckleberry friend and Ella is my moon river.  Our family is on an adventure with the Lord.

I have supplication songs that were cried out during my post partum blues.

"Healer" Planet Shakers
"I believe you're my healer.  I believe you are all I're more than enough for me.  Jesus, you're all I need."
I sang this during my hardest post partum depression days, declaring that God could heal me.  I sang to Jesus in the shower, as hot water poured down and I cried.  His presence filled my bathroom.

"The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" Switchfoot
"Sunshine, won't you be my mother, Sunshine, come and help me sing, My heart is darker than these oceans, My heart is frozen underneath...We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight, Dry eyes in the pouring rain, The shadow proves the sunshine, The shadow proves the sunshine."
I knew I'd get through it.  This song brought me back to my first Israel trip in 2007.  I listened to it everyday there.  Going back to that place in my heart with the Lord brought great comfort and serenity.

Of course, there are worship songs, in response to my great thankfulness for the gift of my little Ella Bella!

Father of Lights, Burning Ones, and I will not forget you.

And lastly, the songs I just added today were hits that got me through my first pregnancy and the heart-wrenching pain surrounding it.  When I hear them, it brings an even greater healing to my soul.  I sit here with my Ella and am in awe of God for His joy, His restoration, His promises fulfilled.  THANK YOU, LORD, THANK YOU.

Sarah Smile,  Hard for me to say I'm sorry, I don't ever want to see you again, I belong to you, and, if only I could find it on I-tunes, I would definitely have It's over now by Danny Boy.

"Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory." Oscar Wilde