Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

  • Nativity Ornaments

    Date: 2011.12.27 | Category: Christmas, crafts, friends, saving money | Response: 0

    I love making handmade ornaments every year for family and friends (and for my tree too!)  It’s a tradition that I started years ago thanks to my friend Heidi- I think that means I’ve done it 13 years in a row now! (Hi Heidi!)

    This year, thanks to Pinterest I had some great ideas rolling around in my brain.  Of course, when I tried to make my first idea it totally flopped.  So back to Pinterest I went where I found this cute ornament and this cute ornament.  I decided to meld the two ideas into my own creation.  I’m allowed creative license, right?  I loved how they came together, and I loved that I only had to buy the wooden balls for the heads, I had the felt and yarn on hand.  Since I made 24 this year I needed them to be inexpensive and fun to put together.  These were perfect.  (It doesn’t hurt that since I’ve been pregnant 3 of the past 5 Christmases I seem to have babies on the brain either!)

    Aren’t they so sweet?  It made me happy to make an ornament this year that honored Jesus on His birthday.

    Happy birthday, Jesus!

  • Memorial ornaments

    Date: 2011.12.24 | Category: Christmas, crafts, friends | Response: 0

    Last year after our friend Robb died I received an unexpected gift in the mail from one of my good friends in CA.

    I literally burst into tears when I opened it.  Isn’t it so thoughtful?  I knew right away that I wanted to make similar ornaments for Tricia and the other girls who have walked through this year together for this Christmas.

    I messaged my friend for directions and was able to put 6 of these together easily.  The only problem I encountered was that we don’t have an ink jet printer.  After debating how to get Robb’s information on the fabric I finally settled on Sharpie.  I don’t think it’s quite as nice as the printed version, but it’s what I had.  I am so pleased with how these turned out.  It adds a meaningful touch to each of our trees.

    Here are the directions that I followed-

    Here’s what you’ll need
    -Twine or ribbon
    -Paper hole punch
    -Fabric (Patterned fabric for the heart. Plain fabric the size of a sheet of printer paper)- You can also buy this pre-made it comes in white fabric sheets 8.5 x 11 ready to place in an injet printer. It costs like $10-$15 at Jo anns, but you can usually buy it with a coupon. I just took a scrap piece of plain fabric and applied heat n bond by the yard.
    -Ink Jet Printer (DO NOT use a Laser printer)
    -Cookie cutter or stencil for the shape you desire
    -Pinking shearers or edging scissors
    -Heat n Bond Lite (comes by the yard at fabric store for $1.25)

    Step 1: Lay out 1 yard Patterned fabric and Heat n bond.
    Iron on Heat n bond to the fabric to the non-patterned side.

    Step 2: Remove heat n bond backing. Then Iron to another 1 yard of fabric (its like making a grilled cheese sandwich)
    The pattern fabric should be facing out on both sides and the heat n bond should be in the middle.

    Step 3: Cut out a piece of plain fabric and cut out the same size of Heat n bond lite the size of printer paper. Then Iron
    BUT LEAVE THE PAPER BACKING ON. This is how it will feed through the printer and the printer will detect it like a piece of paper.
    I suggest making 3-5 of these sheets of paper b/c sometimes it gets jammed or inked in the printer b/c the fabric soaks up loose ink.

    Step 4: Personalize. In Word, I use the settings for return address labels. Simply select font, color and center. Put fabric with paper backing on in the printer. Print

    Step 5: Cut out the printed labels.

    Step 6: Trace and cut out the hearts.

    Step 7. Iron on the lables to the hearts.

    Step 8: Paper hole punch a heart.

    Step 9: Tie ribbon or twine. (I added a dab of hot glue to keep the bow in place)

    Thanks Tash- you’re the best.

  • One year later

    Date: 2011.12.23 | Category: friends | Response: 1

    One year ago today our dear friend Robb died unexpectedly.  It’s been a long, hard, beautiful year.  I have developed the most amazing friendships of my life.  I have learned what it really means to “live life together”.  I have struggled with questions of why and why not.  I have grown deeper in my faith.

    All this to say, we miss you Robb.  You would be so proud of your wife and sons.  You would be so proud of the community that has sprung up to their aid.  It has been a privilege to walk alongside Tricia and the boys this year.  I miss you, and I am so thankful to know that I will see you again someday.

    Our kids together last year, just days before Robb died

    Our kids together last weekend

  • Bunco Night

    Date: 2011.04.01 | Category: friends, giveaway! | Response: 3

    Looking for a fun night out that will also support a great cause?  Join me and some of my friends at a Bunco night supporting Noah’s Ark orphanage in Mali, Africa.

    What are the details?

    It’s Saturday April 16 at 6pm at the Lone Tree Rec Center (Lincoln and Yosemite).

    There will be refreshments, awesome prizes, laughter and Bunco!

    Your $25 ticket will provide meals for 10 kids for an entire month!  That’s right, if you come play Bunco you will be feeding 10 children in Africa- for a month!  How can you say no to that?

    Bring your spouse or a few friends.  Bring some friends AND your spouse!  Fill up a table!  Or two!

    Live out of town?  Have plans for the 16th?  Consider donating!  Every dollar counts.

    You can contact me for more info or RSVP to Melissa at

    And… if you buy a ticket or make a donation of $25 or more by April 12 you will be entered in a drawing for a Solid Grounds gift card worth $15.  If you aren’t familiar with Solid Grounds it’s a quaint coffee shop with yummy treats and charming atmosphere.  It’s a great spot for a date night (bring your favorite game!), a quiet break, or a quick cup of coffee while you’re out running errands.  Just let me know in the comment section when you buy your ticket and you’ll be entered to win.  Buying two tickets?  That’ll be two entries for you!  Donating $100?  That’s four chances to win!  It’s that simple!

    Join me for a great evening!

  • Beautiful

    Date: 2011.01.24 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 3

    Life hurts sometimes.  Sometimes the pain is so deep you can’t picture making it through the next moment.  Sometimes your heart is left in pieces that can not be put back together to make the same shape.  Sometimes I don’t understand God’s will or His ways or His plan.  Sometimes I understand exactly what He’s doing but I don’t like it.  I don’t want it.  Sometimes our circumstances are unbearable.  Truly, literally unbearable.

    But life is also beautiful.  Have you ever seen God at work in His people?  He is beautiful.  Have you ever heard your 2 year old express empathy for a hurting friend?  It’s a beautiful innocence.  Have you ever read the words of a grieving widow?  Caught just the smallest glimpse into her soul?  It’s a beautiful window.  Have you ever sat in silence because there is nothing to say?  It’s a beautiful silence.  Have you ever made a new friend- simply because she loves the one you love?  It’s a beautiful friendship.  Have you ever seen God’s people carry each other through?  It’s a beautiful community.

    If we struggle to make it past our pain without ever learning lessons from that pain we miss out on seeing God’s beauty.  We miss out on a chance to grow more like Christ- our most beautiful savior and perfect example of one who shouldered His burdens with grace.  One who helped others carry their pain.  One who chose to step into the ugly to make something beautiful.

    If I am going to go through it I’d like to come out the other side just a little more beautiful.


  • the Unexpected

    Date: 2010.12.27 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 3

    Thursday morning, December 23rd, I was enjoying the last few hours of sleep before another busy day when the phone rang.  It was 5:48 am.

    Polly, the mom of my dear friend, Tricia was on the phone.  We need you to come right away to get the boys, we’re taking Robb in an ambulance.  Come right now, she said.  Don’t wait.  I threw on some sweats from off the top of the pile and was out the door in less than a minute, I’m sure.

    The night before I had gotten a text from Tricia asking for prayer because her husband, Robb was very sick and she was taking him to urgent care.

    I rounded the corner to their house and was confronted with a street full of flashing lights.  Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars.  This was not quite what I had expected to find.

    I raced inside and saw Polly walking around the living room with Tyler while Tricia sat at the kitchen table reading scripture.  The paramedics were milling about.  The house was very quiet.

    My first instinct was to pray, so pray I did.  I ran to Tricia’s side and prayed out loud.  The only words I remember saying are “please breathe life into him”.  When I finished Tricia looked me in the eye and told me that she thought he was dead.  She told me that she had performed CPR on Robb until the paramedics took over.  That they had been at the house for 45 minutes and wouldn’t let her go upstairs.  That she didn’t think he was alive.

    I sent messages to my husband and our small group.  Pray.  Pray now.

    Only a moment or two later a paramedic came downstairs to talk to us.  They had been unable to resuscitate him.  There was nothing more that they could do.

    I took over caring for Tyler while Polly went to Tricia.

    A few short minutes later Robb’s dad and brother ran into the house.  I can picture Tricia so clearly as she stood and told them “he died”.

    I will never forget the sound of the keening wail that followed.  Never.

    It is a sound I had never heard before.  I pray that I never hear it again.

    I pray I never utter such a sound.

    The sound of raw grief.

    Tricia jumped into action.  Get the boys out of here.  Take them and go.

    Tucker was woken up and carried out my car where I was already buckling Tyler into a car seat a few sizes too small.

    We drove to my house.  They chattered about the Christmas lights that were on in the neighborhood.  We all wondered if the lights were on yet at my house.

    My husband took them downstairs to watch a movie.

    I sat upstairs and cried.

    For the loss of my friend.

    For my friend’s loss.

    For two little boys who lost their daddy.  They are 3 and 5.

    For plans that have been cancelled permanently.

    For dreams that have been shattered.

    For my husband.

    For my children.

    How do you move on from a loss like this?

    This is not what I had planned.

    You are missed, Robb.  You are missed.

    Robb Williford
    August 27, 1975 – December 23, 2010

  • A living testimony

    Date: 2010.09.23 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 0

    Last night was the launch of a new women’s ministry at my church.  I am super excited about this for several reasons-

    1. My girlfriend Tricia is the main speaker and organizer
    2. I LOVE my girlies and can’t get enough time with them
    3. I would love to develop relationships with more women at my church
    4. I need to get out for the evening and laugh and talk and eat dessert once in a while
    5. What a great way to invite pre-believers to a low key event where they can hear about Jesus and meet other women in a non-threatening way

    For this first meeting we needed a woman to give her testimony.  I volunteered.  I was chosen.  Now I knew this was coming up for at least 3 weeks.  I literally did not start thinking about it until the night before.  That’s how I deal with public speaking- I pretend that it’s not going to happen until the last moment possible!  Lucky for me I have given my testimony a few times in the past year, so I had it all in a Word doc and just needed to review it and tweak it a little bit for my audience.

    Last night as I was laying in bed it occurred to me that those of you out there in the world wide web might like to hear how God redeemed my life almost 20 years ago and some of the things He’s done with me since then.  So here it is- out there- for the whole world to see.  Me.  (and more importantly, God)

    Hi, my name is Melody Benschoter.  I’m married to Chris and have the two most adorable children in the world, JT who is 2 years old and Kate who is 7 months old.  I’ve been attending South Fellowship since we moved to Colorado 3 years ago.  Tonight I want to share my testimony of how God has redeemed my life and how He’s spoken to me over the years.

    My mom would tell you that even as a very young child I never seemed to get enough attention or affection, and I was the type of kid who always had to learn each lesson the hard way.  Although I grew up in a Christian home and I knew better, I began to look to boyfriends to find my approval and to get my fill of acceptance.  I became very rebellious- especially through middle and high school.  I became sexually active at 14, experimented with alcohol and drugs, cut school frequently, lied to my parents constantly, and generally did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to do it.  During my sophomore year in college my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years (and the guy I thought I would marry) broke up with me and moved in with my best friend.  At that point I was about as miserable and empty as possible.  As I was praying one night in desperation I heard God clearly say to me “You have chosen to fill your life with the wrong people and activities for all these years, and now you have nothing left.  You can either choose the same type of people to fill your life with again or you can choose ME.”  Starting that night I chose to cling to God and try things His way.  My sister had been urging me to attend a college bible study at our church and it just so happened that I was suddenly free on Wednesday nights.  On a whim I decided to go and found myself crying in a room full of casual acquaintances!  These girls welcomed me and were willing to walk with me on my new path and encourage me as I began my Christian faith.  Over those first few years I developed deep friendships and mentoring relationships that helped me find value in who I am in Christ and showed me that true joy can be found in Him.

    One of the things I started doing was praying and journaling my prayers.  I used these journals as a way to keep my prayer time focused- to prevent my mind from wandering- and to give me a way to look back and see how God was answering my prayers.  I was coming from a place of real bitterness and heartache, and I also recognized how foolish I had been for the first 19 years of my life.  One of the things I prayed for daily was that God would bless me with inner peace and wisdom.  I knew that God had honored Solomon’s prayers for wisdom and hoped that He would honor mine as well.  I also claimed Philippians 2:14-16 as my life verse.

    14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

    I really liked the reminder to become someone who does things pleasantly… without complaining or arguing and that it would lead to me being a child of God who is blameless and pure!  I also loved the picture of shining like a star in the universe while holding out the word of life.  I felt that this was the person I should aspire to be in my new faith and prayed these verses for myself often.

    During this period I also spent some time thinking about who I wanted to be someday as a woman and as a wife.  I recognized that my old character was unhealthy and that I was not who I wanted to be.  I began to study what the bible had to say about Godly character and to pray over the characteristics that I wanted to embrace.  I also used scripture to develop a list of attributes I was looking for in my future husband.  I really thought and prayed a lot about this and came up with a list of about 20 character traits and values that were important for my husband to possess.  Now I need to say… because of the types of sin I was struggling with and the changes that I was trying to make in myself I didn’t date for quite some time after dedicating my life to Christ.  In fact when I met my husband I had been single for 10 years to the month.  Although I went on a handful of dates during those years, I was careful to avoid getting involved with any man who did not meet the criteria on my list or who I did not clearly feel God was bringing me to.  In fact after my first date with my future husband I told him that we should just be friends.  It was during this period of friendship that my eyes were opened to see that God was drawing me to him as my husband.  I pulled out that old piece of paper and was amazed to see that he met EVERY SINGLE CRITERIA that I had written over 9 years before.

    Speaking of my husband actually brings me to the second time that God clearly spoke to me.  I had been involved in a women’s bible study for 5 years when my mentor encouraged me to transfer to the young adult class.  I had reached a point in my life where most of my girl friends had gotten married and were having children and I was lonely for good female friends.  At the same time I was happy with the bible study I was attending and didn’t want to transfer to the other class for fear of looking like I was going just to meet guys.  My mentor really challenged me on my stubbornness and unwillingness to change, and after some prayer and consideration I agreed to try the other class.  When I transferred my membership, the leader of the new class asked me to join the leadership team.  I had been asked to join the leadership at my previous class 4 years in a row, and each year I declined because leadership meetings were held at 6:55am on Saturday mornings.  If you know me, you know I love to sleep.  So when the new class leader asked, I told her that I didn’t think I could do it, but that I would pray about it.  Now when I said I would pray about it, I have to admit, I didn’t really think it would change anything.  I had no intention of getting up so early every Saturday morning for the next year.  But when I prayed, God said yes.  I said no and God said yes again.  And again.  He and I really had it out for several days before I finally gave in to Him and agreed to do it.  I can remember telling my coworker that this was going to ruin my life.  And I meant it!  2 days later I showed up to my first meeting and met the rest of the leadership team.  There happened to be a young man there who I had heard quite a bit about from my sister who had wanted to set me up on a date with him the year before.  I had never met him, but I recognized his name and knew a lot about him through her and through a girlfriend of mine who was good friends with him.  Being on leadership threw us together quite a bit, and within a month we went out on a date.  Then I told him we should just be friends, and then I realized that he was the man I was going to marry!  I quickly told Chris that he could ask me out again and 3 months after that we were engaged.  I really believe that by obeying God’s call to that leadership team- which also built my leadership skills and taught me discipline and many other good things, God brought me to my husband.

    And that brings me to the third and final time God has clearly spoken to me.  I was raised in California and Chris and I lived about 20 minutes from the town where I grew up.  For our first anniversary Chris and I came out here to Highlands Ranch to visit my brother and sister in law.  One day in the car Chris said to me “Wouldn’t this be a great place to live?”  to which I replied “Absolutely not!”  A few days later we were flying home when I heard God say to me “If I asked you to move you wouldn’t go.”  I knew in my heart that that was true.  I loved my hometown- I had lived in the same zip code for my entire life until I married and Chris dragged me 20 minutes away.  My parents still live in the same house where they brought me home from the hospital.  I had never wanted to leave the Bay Area or my family and friends and never planned to.  God and I really wrestled with this over the course of several months before I finally told my husband what was going on.  At that point I still didn’t want to ever move, but I was finally able to tell God that if He ever called me someplace else, I would go.  Sure enough, about a year later my husband completed his Master’s degree and was looking for a new job.  We were also ready to start our family and knew that financially we were going to have to make some major changes to afford children.  After months of discussion we decided that he would send out resumes both in California and in Colorado.  And don’t you know the only job offer he got was here in Highlands Ranch!  I held out hope for a CA job and resisted committing to the move until 2 weeks before we put the house on the market (which left me scurrying to get things packed, let me tell you!).  But once the decision was made, I knew that I had to embrace it wholeheartedly.  I never looked back, but instead decided to make the best of the situation and love my new home.  And I do!  I can’t imagine how we would have made ends meet if we had stayed where we were.  But God provided my husband with a job he absolutely loves, and I am able to work one day a week and stay home with JT and Kate the rest of the time.  God has put us in a home that is far nicer and less expensive than what we had in California, has placed us in a wonderful church, and has given us the opportunity to grow closer to my brother and his family.  I wouldn’t trade where we are for anything.  But I do hope I never move again!

    I want to close by making sure that you know- I am by no means perfect in my prayer life.  God hasn’t spoken to me because I’m extra holy or prayerful. I want you to know that God can and will speak to us- it may be with a clear voice, or He may use someone else’s voice to speak into our lives.  Clarity has come to me through scripture and through my own conscience.  Being open to hearing Him is the key- even if you have to wrestle with Him before you find acceptance!

    Oh- and in case you’re wondering we had a great TIME (pun intended- our new name is It’s about Time… True, Meaningful, Inviting Encounters) last night!  We had about 35 women, a wonderful talk by Tricia, lots of yummy dessert, and plenty of TIME (pun intended again!) to talk and laugh and get to know each other.  What a blessing it is to live in community.  Come and join us in October!


  • Summer vacation

    Date: 2010.07.07 | Category: friends, parenting | Response: 0

    This summer we got to take not one, but two family vacations!

    Twelve hundred miles.  Two kids under two.  Six days.  Can you say road trip?

    In June we drove to Omaha to attend Chris’ cousin’s wedding and to visit with his family.  We had a blast hanging out at the lake, visiting with cousins and aunts and uncles and his immediate family, eating Nebraska beef (it cuts like butter), and taking JT on his first trip to the zoo.  We lucked out that we were able to house sit for a cousin who was out of town- it was so nice having a whole house to spread out in without bothering anyone!  Despite the craziness, I enjoyed the time in the car with the kids.  I especially enjoyed the chance for our kids to spend time with Chris’ extended family.  We were so content to just spend time with everyone and let them get to know our kids a little better.

    Round two was even crazier, though…

    One old jankety and leaky trailer.  Same two kids.  Our dog.  Eight families.  One other dog.  Four nights.  Two rainstorms.  The great outdoors.

    We spent the long 4th of July weekend near Glenwood Springs on a camping trip with 7 other families.  We had 17 adults and 17 kids (most of whom are under the age of 6) crammed into a tiny group site.  We played in the dirt.  We played in the water.  We found sticks and rocks and leaves and a dead mouse.  We roasted and we froze.  We ate junk food for breakfast.  We sang praise songs acappella.  We slept in our sleeping bags.  We woke up several times a night to put JT back into his sleeping bag.  We saw fireworks.  We ate s’mores.  We had so much fun we decided to stay an extra night.

    I feel so blessed to have a husband who gets summers off from work.  While I enjoy the help around the house on a day to day basis, I love the opportunities it gives us to be together even more.  I’m so thankful that we have the flexibility to spend time together as a family.  It doesn’t have to be fancy (obviously!), it’s the time we spend laughing and playing and relaxing that really matters.

    I hope you and your family take a vacation this year.  Even if you don’t go farther than your backyard or the neighborhood park, spend a few moments reveling in the laughter of your children and your spouse.  I’m glad I did.

    melodyCamping Trip 2010

  • I’m back! And I’m so thankful for my friends-

    Date: 2010.05.25 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 2

    Whew- when my laptop died I couldn’t figure out how to log in to my own blog from our other computer.  Sorry it took me a week to sit down and work through it!  Anyway, now I’ve got myself set up on the other computer and the only thing holding me back is that I dread slogging myself downstairs to the basement.  I sure hope we win the lottery soon so we can get me a fancy new computer for my desk upstairs!  While I was messing with my settings I also made it easier for my readers to leave comments.  So comment away folks!

    Now to my actual post…

    This past weekend Kate and I flew out to California for a wedding.  We had some much needed girl time (shout out to Heidi!) and I actually caught up on my sleep!   (I just reread what I’ve written so far and counted 6 exclamation points.  I really need to work on that.  Ugh- I had to resist putting one more in right there- and now I want to put one here too!)  The thing I can’t get over though is that I’m old.  I know I’m only 35, but shouldn’t I be 20?  All weekend I kept reflecting on how much life we’ve lived in the past 15 years.  It seems like only yesterday I was a guest at the first weddings for my group of friends.  In 15 years we’ve shared it all- birthdays, break ups, weddings, struggles, new babies, deaths, celebrations, etc.  Friends have moved away and some have even come back again.  Even I got married and moved to Colorado and had 2 babies.  I just keep wondering how it can be that so much life has happened to us.

    I am fortunate to have such good friends.  When I decided to live my life for Christ I fell in with the college group at my church.  The Sunday Night Live (SNL for you insiders!) gang embraced me and challenged me when I was new to my faith.  This group of people befriended me and showed me what it means to live abundantly and joyfully.  At a time in my life when I needed positive role models and fellowship with believers these friends took me in.  For 12 years these are the friends who I walked side by side with through life.

    After nearly 3 years here in Colorado I’m finally seeing glimmers of deep friendship.  These things take time.  My new friends are great and fun and I love hanging out with them- but it’s a process to really get to know someone and build up history with them.  Our Young Families group at church is where I feel most at home- we’ve been meeting for almost 2 years and we’re just getting to that place where we know and trust each other intimately.  And it’s a good thing, because the past few weeks have been really really hard.  Dear friends gave birth to a much cherished (and much unexpected) baby boy 2 weeks ago.  At first everything seemed fine- he looks perfect.  And then the doctors started noticing problems- he isn’t sucking, he has shaking in his limbs, he failed his hearing test, his pulse is weak in his legs.  An ultrasound revealed a heart defect that required immediate surgery and transfer to another hospital.  An MRI of his brain revealed abnormal development.  This precious little boy and his parents have some serious challenges ahead.  Other dear friends are facing accusations of an ugly nature.  The husband’s career, their prospects to adopt more children, fellowship with their church home, life as they know it are all at risk.  It seems that Satan has noticed out little group and doesn’t want us to succeed.  That he wants to snatch these friends out of our hands.

    I love these friends.  To me, this feels like a challenge.  It’s time to step up.  To show them that I love them and am willing to BE THERE.  To tell Satan that he can’t have them.  It’s time to take these relationships to the next level.  To get past the stage where we are comfortable laughing together and to start crying together too.  To walk this path with them so they don’t have to walk it alone.

    Where will we all be in 15 years?  Only God knows what our future holds.  What I do know is that He is telling me that it’s time to be a real friend.  The kind who is willing to walk through the valley hand in hand with a friend in need.

    “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends” Job 6:14a


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