Catching Up

It has been a while, so I thought I’d simply catch you up on some goings on.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” –CS Lewis


Much of the month of May, I was busy writing an essay about my experience with depression for possible acceptance to a book at Civitas Press.  Until I hear yay or nay, I cannot publish it here.  But I thought perhaps I’d include a paragraph or two to tantalize you.

Hope Heals

By Melody Harrison Hanson

“I will search for my lost ones who strayed away and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34:16 – NLT)

This is the story of how I fell into the sinkhole of depression and climbed my way out again. My story began with pride and self-delusion and moved to healing and acceptance—forgiving myself for being less than I imagined. The path of brokenness took me to frightening, even diabolical places, but God found me in the pit of my depression, tenderly loving me as I accepted my raging need for him. Finally, in my forties, after a decade of turmoil, the crooked path led to hope and healing. Writing this, going back and lingering, has been harder than I expected. I offer it here because of what God has done in me.

When I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom, I was unprepared for how unhappy I became. Forever seeing my life in terms of success or failure, I believed that I was failing. What kind of a mother doesn’t love being at home with her children? Over the years we shared long, sun-burnt summer days at the pool and sweaty bike rides but, even as we meandered through the zoo and the farmer’s market, I grew increasingly restless and miserable. If I was truthful, I had been frantic and dissatisfied at work. Leaving was more like running away under the ruse of caring for the kids. For years my job had buoyed me up on the raging ocean of my insecurities and fear of failure. Going home took away that life-preserver. I had never dealt with the need every human being has for purpose and significance. I had no where left to run!

I was at that time incapable of being happy at work or at home, battling the haunting, negative tape loops in my head repeating vicious lies.

I feel unimaginably grateful for so many things today.  Even if the essay doesn’t get published in the book, the exercise of going back was terrific—hard and good.


I continue to relish taking photographs for Our Lives Magazine.  As I talked with a new acquaintance and took images of him, he spoke of wanting to be a bridge person between the Mormon community and LGBTQ friends.  That pretty much sums up why I continue with OL.  As a Christ-follower, I hope that we can know one another and treat one another with love and respect.  Darren is a photographer as well and he turned my own camera on me.  It reminded me of the feeling of always having a camera in your face (unpleasant) but I appreciated that he was able to capture a smile!  He said “You’re much nicer than your picture on the website implies.”  Thanks Darren!

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” — CS Lewis


A field trip to Old World Wisconsin, was informative and fun!

6th graders have a Middle Ages unit.  Lucky for us, Grandma Hanson can sew and she was willing and so able!

My sister and I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum the other day.

The pool is open!


Summer officially starts for us in a week.  I will have one child in morning summer school, two middleschoolers in Young Shakespeare Player‘s rehearsing all summer for Romeo & Juliet which performs August 11-21.  And of course we have an aging college student in the house, whose laissez-faire attitude and bouncing emotions I find irritating, and draining.  But each child stretches me.  Each one, uniquely challenges my wisdom, sense of humor and grit.

The pool is open and it is finally warm!  I know we will spend long hours there, though I am no longer allowed to sun!  Squamous cell carcinoma requires me to cover up, lather up and basically consider the sun my enemy.  (Secretly, I still love the sun and being sun-kissed, hot and becoming brown and freckly.  As long as my sunscreen is strong, I do risk a little.)

I am launching int o the big task of dividing perennials in my garden.   (Let me know if you want anything).  Not just Hosta and ferns, of which I have a plethora, but lots of other plants.  I’m rethinking the front of my yard.  Because of a neighboring Black Walnut tree I’m about to give in to the fact that nothing will grow happily and I will move a number of plants and put in something (I don’t know what is resistant to Black Walnut) to cover the ground.  I’m also going to plant an herb garden in the sunny blank patch in front.

Gardening and Thinking about Writing.

While I dig in the dirt, I’ve been thinking about whether I’ve got a book in me.  The essay was incredibly challenging, fun and a lot of work!  I can see now why it sometimes takes years to write a book.  I’ve boiled over for years about women in the evangelical church, and wonder…   Is there a need for a book to challenge the current situation in the local church?  What do women need to hear?  What do men need to hear? What hasn’t been said?  What needs to be said differently?

The friend that helped me edit my essay says the full story, a memoir, could/should be told, of my fall into the sinkhole of depression.  Coming from being a workaholic and the brokenness of my dysfunctional childhood and how the Lord found me in the pit of depression and for the first time I experienced grace and peace, hope.  Perhaps there is a book there?  I have found, as I tell my story, that many people suffer from depression and feel isolated and alone.

Some images of spring in Wisconsin.

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all women, most richly blessed.” (author unknown)

I don’t know about you but I am reveling in my blessings.  And because I have to work at it  it is sweeter.  I am so grateful.

I Looked Up and The Sky Was Blue: What I Want vs. What I Need

I looked up and the sky was blue.

I don’t know why that is so important, except that it is — blue — today.  And I would have missed it, if I hadn’t looked up.

There are so many days when I don’t. Because it usually looks like this.

How often do we miss out on the amazing beauty in our life because we just don’t look up?

“What if we believed in the deep places, the darkest recesses, that God always provides — and not barely, but abundantly?   Wouldn’t we always be at peace — no matter what?  What if thanks in all things actually could be easy — because we believe that God always gives us the thing we exactly need? What if gratitude was as natural as breathing, because we knew in our bones that the air we breathe is grace? (… A Holy Experience)”

We are having an ongoing discussion in our house about “Needs vs. Wants.”

Do we need cable?  Do I need books of my own or will the library suffice?  Does my daughter need rain boots or want them? Why won’t snow boots work in the rain? Do we need Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain bread or just want it?  Are we desperate for fizzy water (what we call mineral water in our house) or can we live without?  Does the cat need a new collar when her old one works perfectly well?  My daughter is concerned that she (the cat) got her feelings hurt because she received the dead cat’s collar.  Hm … Does Tom need seven or eight guitars, even if they are a knock off brands from China?  But you see what I mean?  And that’s just scratching the surface.

“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

“My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

Things.  Needs.  Wants.  It’s hard.  It’s complicated!!!

I think we have many different motivations for making change in our lives.  It is smart or prudent or loving or generous or “the adult” thing to do.  I’m thinking of money and resources now, all the stuff of life.  To begin to make those choices because it is all God’s anyway, well, that’s a whole other league of maturity.  Dang, why is it so hard?

What I’m talking about here is complicated.

Our motivations.  Why do we think we need all this stuff?  Cable.  Books.  Rain boots.  Gourmet food.   Stuff for the animals.  More than one of anything? Yes, I have money on the brain.

But it is more than that.  It’s about being discontent on a deep, cellular level.  My pastor called it a cancer and I think it really is.

If you have spent time overseas or simply in a different less abundant and materialistic culture you likely were  floored by how great that was. For me, a summer pared down to a forty pound backpack was still more than my Russian students had.  I seriously never wanted to come back to America.  I felt for the first time an incredible freedom from caring about the things that are so important in America.

I believe.  I believe that God will care for me all my life.

Not that good things will always happen to me or that bad things won’t. Rather that in the midst of life and its icky messes God is here and he loves me.  I’ve never had the courage to read the book of Job all the way through because I’ve always thought that if I read it God will think I’m ready to live it.

I have never felt persecuted.  Even in the midst of my father’s illness and mother’s illness going on at the same time.  Even with major depression not receding no matter how much effort and work I spent on it.  Even needing medication and finding out I was pregnant.  And then losing the baby.  Losing my father.  Helping my mother get into recovery.  Already struggling with my own addictions.  Even in the midst of all that — which I found myself recounting to a friend the other day — I believed. Deep down I believed God would care for me.

I’m reading, slowly as it applies, The Women’s Bible Commentary. (see desc. below)  As I was reading about the Psalms I read this:

“Those who speak with complete candor in the presence of God, those who articulate their doubts and their pain as well as their trust in God are all included among the faithful in the Psalms.  Women who have been taught  (like children) to be “seen and not heard” in relation to faith and religion should notice that the very act of putting anger, impatience, and frustration into words often enables the speakers in the Psalms to come to a renewed sense of assurance in God’s continuing care. The confessional stance of the Psalmists (their willingness to articulate feelings of anger and pain as well as joy in the presence of God, their refusal to submit passively to oppressive circumstances, and their confidence in God’s concern for their needs) has had and continues to have a significant influence in shaping the theology, the piety and the lives of many women.”

This has been my experience.  I think this is why during all of that which I listed above the one thing I was able to do was cry out to God.  Many times by writing but also with friends, and in prayer or through reading Bible, especially the Psalms.  My bitterness toward my parents manifested in depression, low self-esteem, alcoholism …  My poetry is so real because it came from that core.

When I first wrote it was God cleansing and healing me.  A secondary result has been how my words have helped others — perhaps jog a mind or heart to circumstances  between themselves and God.  That was an unexpected delight.

Do you believe God will care for you, abundantly?

If you aren’t sure cry out to him.  He listens.  He is good and he is our Shepherd. (John 10)   This section of scripture describes the most incredibly loving relationship between Jesus and people.  He calls his sheep by name.  The sheep know his voice.  Jesus is the gate for the sheep.  Whoever enters by Jesus will be saved and will come in and go out and will find pasture.  The thief comes to steal kill and destroy.  “But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!”

Write thy blessed name, o Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from thy love.  Be thou to me a strong tower of defense, a comforter in tribulation, a deliverer in distress, a very present help and a guide to heaven through the many temptations and dangers of this life.

— Thomas a Kempis

I want to be content.  I want it to be true of me.  All I need is my pasture.  And the Good Shepherd calling me by name.

Be well, Melody

I highly recommend The Women’s Bible Commentary if you preach or teach, especially if you’re male.  It will give you a perspective that you cannot possibly have since you are not a woman.

From the back of The Women’s Bible Commentary — an outstanding groups of women scholars introduced and summarized each book of the Bible and commented on those sections of each book that have particular relevance to women, focusing on female characters, symbols, life situations such as marriage and family, the legal status of women, and religious principles that affect relationships between women and men.  (It also has a huge bibliography!)