Aug 31, 2009

It's A Blogging Revolution.

I got a weird revelation this past weekend. Wanna hear it?

I am doing this blog thing all wrong.

I seriously think I might be. I've gone to putting up too many pictures of my kids. Who wants to look at my kids besides me? I mean really. I don't want to look at pictures of kids that belong to some mom in Minneapolis whom I will never probably why would you wanna look at mine?

So, okay, no more pictures of kids.

Except that Rocco's birthday is this week so I need to put up pictures of that. And if Remi says or does something else funny (or totally offensive) than I will need to post that. Or of course if they do anything at all that makes me think, "ya know, some Hollywood agent could see this and want to put them in the next Clint Eastwood movie." Well, then I'll need to do it then. But I promise, other than those few instances (and maybe a handful of others) I won't blog about my kids so much. Unless of course you all raise a ruckus. If you raise a ruckus I may relent and continue to post endlessly about my kids, but with much chagrin, I assure you.

Then I saw Julie/Julia and I thought, "hmmmm...maybe what the world is waiting on is for me to cook every Paula Deen recipe in the next 356 days." But then I thought longer and realized it wasn't so much the "world" per say that was waiting on me to cook Paula Dean but rather the local chapter of Weight Watchers and my dad's cardiologist. I'm sure they both would be thrilled to know that they would have my undying devotion - and money - were I to do that.

So then what?

And it came to me.

Write. What. You. Know.

Isn't that in genius? Write what you know. I could actually write about something I know a little something about. "Well, Melissa," you may be saying to yourself, "you are writing about your kids. Certainly you know about that!" But would be wrong. Anyone at El Chico's last week could plainly see that I know nothing about child rearing.

"But Melissa," you may once again be saying, "you write about the AG. You obviously know much about him." Again. You are wrong. For not only 45 minutes ago did I peeve him off so badly that he had to go for a walk in the East Texas humidity with our dogs. So see? I apparently don't know him at all, because what I think is funny he finds...well...not so funny.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time then you know I know quite alot about these seven things:

1. Hair
2. Food
3. Television Reviews
4. My oft-times argumentative and rebellious relationship with the Lord.
5. Hair
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (this has not been diagnosed and should just be referred to medically speaking as Really Bad Grip at Really Bad Times or RBGRBT)
7. Other people

* Dear Lord, please note that these are not in any particular order or you would most definitely be in last place. Because every time I think I know something about you I am amazed all over again that I know so very little. Oh, and yes, I meant to put "hair" down twice. For that I am truly sorry.

So, my lovelies, pray for me as I embark on this new journey...this new revelation of blogging. For I have seen the light - and it is good!

From now on when you visit Stretch Marks you won't just be seeing pictures of my kids. (Though let's be honest, you probably will). Instead you'll be delving into some of life's greatest mysteries....

- Who has good hair and where can I get it?

- Melissa, have you found a recipe that doesn't call for butter or bacon fat? And if so, lose it!

- Mel, do you think the Bachelorette is real? I DO TOO! Are you watching Glee? ME TOO!

- Have you still not graduated from Seminary even though you only have 9 hours left? Didn't the Lord ask you to do this aaggeeessss ago? Why are you disobeying?

- Surely you haven't been in a LifeWay Christian Bookstore or a Marshall's recently have you? What are you a masachist?

- And Melissa, tell us about your family; the ones that weren't imprisoned for drunk and disorderly conduct, that is.

And I'll be right here with you, to do just that. Cause I'm good like that. So tell me, what is it you want to hear about? Let's get our creative juices flowing, lovelies, help a blog girl out. Won't you? Give me a topic and believe you me I can "drone on for hours at a time about ridiculous things that no one finds funny but you!" How do I know this? Because the AG just told me those exact words!

Aug 27, 2009

"You're A Jerk."

I was sitting in the Southwestern Assemblies of God Library on what I can only imagine to be a night when pigs were filling the sky and it was cold outside due to hell being frozen over and all (I wasn't exactly a Rhodes scholar even back in those days) when who should wander in?

Enter: The Attorney General.

Unyet known as The Attorney General, of course, and more appropriately known as "doofus guy who needed to hello! cut his bangs and quit mack-daddying on every brunette on campus." Or at least that's what my friends and I called him.

Due to the fact that we were in a singing group together (we were cheezetastic!) and traveled with 10 other kids on the weekends all over the state, he and I knew each other relatively well. For instance...he knew me as the girl who sat behind him on the bus and constantly stuck my stinky feet in between the seats and I knew him as the baritone with the heavy bangs and cheap taste in women.


So it was on this particular night, at said library, when he wanders in, seemingly scans the room for brunettes, and considering all the brunettes had dates and the chubby blond in the corner didn't - he made his way over to me.

The yellow sticky note he dropped on my book said, "What are YOU doing here? You actually study?"

My reply was, "You're a jerk."

And I meant every word of it.

His next sticky note said, "Wanna get out of here?"

My reply? "Desperately. But not with you."

Did I mean it? No.
Did he persist? Yep.
Am I glad he did? Ohhh yeah.

Fifteen years later I am thrilled he did.

Happy Anniversary mack-daddy. I love you.

Aug 26, 2009

I Think I'm Doing Something Wrong.

I have never been one to admit defeat.


That goes for the time I failed my driving test. And the other time I failed my driving test. And the fact that on the THIRD time (is a charm!) I passed it! Never say die!

It also goes for the horrific year I had circa 1991 when I hit - with my car - a dog, a television and a van load of Mexicans. But did that stop me from driving? No. Never. Say. Die.

But y'all. I think I'm doing something wrong.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a 3 year old should entertain massive amounts of people by pulling down her pants (and all that that entails) and shaking her groove thing? Should she? Should I be worried?

It's enough that her daddy comes in from a hard days work and the first thing she says is, "hey look dad..." and proceeds to shake it. But it's another thing when it's Grannies birthday and she does it at El Chico. I mean, c'mon, isn't this where I draw the line?

Some say it's my fault. Apparently I had some years as youngster where I liked to "shake my money maker" as well (let's all swallow hard and breathe through our nose, shall we). But I refuse to believe that singing "Tomorrow" while wearing underwear on my head really contributes to this problem. Personally, I don't know what they're talking about; those years have escaped me. Maybe they were worked out in therapy, I don't know. All I know is I have become the very mother I always feared.

Hello, my name is Melissa and I enabler.

That's right. You heard it here. You can't expect her to shake it to just anything can you? So I learned the words to Missy Elliot's "Shake it like a Pom-Pom" and I tend to accompany her on her so-called exploits. For shame, for shame.


On another note, we are still living in my parents house.


Our little bitty house is not through being built and so we are still jam packed in my parents guest bedroom like me in last season's jeans.

Something has seriously got to give. (Again, a reference to both my jeans and my parents house). We currently have five cars in the driveway, a garage full of boxes, three dogs, three cats and 87 bicycles in the front yard. And not even that is as funny as seeing the AG and I try and sleep in a full size bed.

We ain't small potatoes, ya know.

We've taken to saying "turn!" every few hours so that we're in sync. Lord help. We are either going to wind up divorced or pregnant.

Aug 25, 2009

Sunrise Shmunrise.

If you think I'm about to break out into the chorus of Sunrise / Sunset you'd be right.

Okay, you'd be wrong.

Oh that reminds me of when my aunt (Hey Mel! Smile! You're on the internet!) had her daddy sing Sunrise / Sunset at her wedding because apparently he always reminded her of Tevya, the lead character in Fiddler on the Roof, who was the father of four girls and also a Jewish fiddler. Which seemed odd to me because my grandfather was neither the father of four girls nor a Jewish fiddler. Though he did have two girls and was a Pentecostal Southern gospel singer. But then again, she got married in the 80's and I'm pretty sure they did all sorts of bizarre things wwaaaaayyyy back then.

But I digress.

So although I'm not going to break out into some sappy song about children growing up, and I'm not going to play some video montage to the tune of Water-Color Ponies, I am going to show you all a picture of my daughter on her first day of school.


Because look at her. Wouldn't you want to post something that cute on your blog?

Please know that although I am not the fashion moniker you probably think I am (insert belly laugh here) I did not pick out the red, white and blue. She is now attending a school that believes in uniforms! Hallelujah and thank you, Jesus! We are also hoping they believe in corporal punishment and rulers on knuckles, for both of these things will probably be necessary for our little pistol.

Here she is with her teacher who was introduced to her a mere 1 1/2 seconds before this picture was taken. And here is what is being said...

Remi: Hi! My name is Remi Hope Radke and this is Momma Hope Radke and this is Daddy Hope Radke and my brother is Rocco Cooper Rocco but he is not here because he is with my Nonie and he is taking a nap and do you have a slide and is it inside or outside and do you have a bed because I am not tired and this is my backpack and it has my name on it and do you know who these other kids are and do you have any play dough and I use the potty and when I do I like to wash my hands but don't try to help me I can do it all by myself so where is the slide?

Teacher: Uhhh....

Me: Well, see ya sucker...I mean, teacher!!

I read somewhere the other day that you are either a School-Time Mom or a Summer-Time Mom. I'll bet you a VHS copy of Fiddler on the Roof and a wedding picture from my aunt's wedding you can't guess which one I am.

Aug 24, 2009

My Life In Pictures.

Aaahhh, dear's post is a fairy tale of sorts.

If you like really crappy fairy tales.

But it is my tale to tell, nonetheless, and so I shall. In my words. With my pictures.

And like all fairy tales it is short, simple and to the point. Though unlike all fairy tales there is no dragon, there is no white knight and there is no lengthy kiss at the end. So don't get your hopes up.

It is the tale I am living right now. As we speak. Love me through it.


There once was a young girl. Cute she was, she would readily admit. And though she didn't have much she did have a shovel, a pale, and some really fab leggings. The world was hers to conquer.

She thought she knew it all. And she charged ahead. Full force.

For her motto was "Go Big or Go Home." (That motto is a crappy one and can come back to haunt you: be forewarned.)

And then, for a moment, she paused. Who knows why she did it, but she did.

And she looked ahead and was not quite sure she liked what she saw. It looked rough. It looked scary. It looked big.

And she looked little.

And so she ran.
Ran from what scared her.
Ran from what intimidated her.
Ran from what she knew she could conquer.
If she had just stood still.
Stood firm.
But it was too late. She ran.

And when she got home she was soaked.

She was tired.

And she was mad; mad that sometimes great hair and hot pink leggings aren't enough.
Sometimes you just have to stand.

Sometimes you have to dry yourself off. Wipe the sand from your face....

And head back out again.


"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21: 28)

"By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke 21:19)

Aug 18, 2009

Dancing With The Former Congressional Majority Leader


Not that I care that much. I have never been a big fan of Dancing With The Stars (let the stoning!) and I have certainly never been a big fan of Tom Delay. But I am a fan of reality television - and I'll be darned if I let some producer ruin what I believe to be the greatest thing to come to television since The Real Housewives of New Jersey...oh wait, that's reality...okay, since The Bachelorette....crud....okay, since...I got nothing.

So my suggestion? If you are going to start down that slippery slope of putting politicians in reality t.v. then let's go all out, shall we?

The Bachelor: Starring none other than Bill Clinton. ("He's married," you say. "Really?" I say.)

The Bachelorette: Starring Janet Reno. Because nothing says funny like watching Janet Reno sip champagne in a hot tub.

Survivor: Dear CBS producers, please put Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, Allan Spektor and Jesse Jackson on a island together. Give them no food, no water and tell them they must kill to survive. My money's on the woman!

And last, but certainly, not least...

America's Next Top Model: The winner? John Edwards. Because even Tyra in her best heels can't walk a slippery slope as good as that slickster. (Oh, and who has hair that pretty?)

So there you have it. Politics come to reality television...

I had a clever closing line, but I fear I have to run now. My mom would like to point out a woman at the pool who has legs that look just like mine "if you were to lose some of that fluid and didn't have so many spider veins."

Well, that's helpful.

Aug 17, 2009

It's A Myrtle Monday Morning.

There is something to be said for not even plugging in your computer for an entire week. Aaaahhhhhh.

In one week I was able to stay away from the fact that Kate believes her marriage to Jon is irreparable (duh!), Posh Spice may or may not take the seat that Paula may or may not have really left (duh!) and one of the Kardashian sisters is pregnant (duh!). To all of these I say: "It was only a matter of time."


How did I live?


Thank you for allowing me some time off. The trip to Texas was a successful one. We officially unloaded our goods into my parents garage and then slept for three whole days.


Myrtle Beach will never be the same.

We arrived last night in all our grandeur; looking exactly like something our cat had drug in and dropped off at our front door as a gift for us. It was not an easy day for us as our precious son, Rocco, decided that using his outdoor voice was most effective indoors. And especially in really really tight and enclosed spaces like, oh, I don't know, an AIRPLANE.

Yes, for 2 1/2 hours yesterday we were that family you all dread sitting next to on the plane.

That was us!

But it was worth it today when there was nothing more important on the agenda than grilling hotdogs and digging for sea shells. When your two biggest worries of the day are "Will we run out of Cheese-Puffs?" and "Did I shave my legs high enough?" - then you know you got a pretty good day on your hands.

Oh, and am I a genius or what?

This is a Pea-Pod. I bought it for the Rockstar in hopes that he would fall sound asleep while I perused the latest People magazine. And he did! Granted, he was supposed to fall asleep the length of the tent, but hey, who is gonna wake up a one year old and tell him he fell asleep the wrong direction?

Not me. My mamma didn't raise no fool.

Besides, when you are dealing with what we like to refer to as the "man-child" then you let him lay however he wants to lay. Point is, he slept. And slept. And slept.


But then I got even geniusier.

And this may have been the moment mama actually got a nappy-nap of her own. Thankyouverymuch.

Aug 13, 2009

It's A Funny Thing...

Something that has always puzzled me all my life is why,
when I am in special need of help,
the good deed is usually done by somebody on whom I have no claim.
~William Feather

I don't think I've ever made dinner for this family when one of them was sick.

I know I never surprised them with a gift - or even a card - on their birthday.

I didn't sit in a Sunday School class with them.

And I never sang beside their mom in the choir.

I never taught them during Vacation Bible School.

And I don't wave to them every day when they get off the bus.

And yet, they are doing for me, what I cannot do for myself.

They are loving on my boy.

Thank you, my friends, for going to visit Elisha when I no longer can.

For reading him stories and telling him jokes.

Thank you for loving me just as wonderfully as you are loving him. Because every word you speak to him, heals this mother's heart just a little bit more.

His words are simple, no?
"Be ye kind one to another..." (Ephesians 4:32)

Aug 9, 2009

14 Things In 14 Years.

Sweet Martha my feet hurt.

The house is almost completely packed up and it is less than twelve hours before we pull out for good. And then another 12 hours before we arrive at my parents house. And then another 12 hours before we look at each and say, "Seriously, any enclosed space with my parents is never a good thing."

Since this week will be full of many things (things which I will not be blogging about for fear that my language may keep me from fulfilling that religion degree I'm still chasing) like a 26 foot U-Haul with no air, my car loaded down with boxes and a cat and two dogs and a Remi, and enough fast food to make my face break out just thinking about it, I may have to take a breather from the blogginess that is my life. But for only a week or so, bueno?

However, next Saturday we pack back up (because what fun is packing if you don't unload all of your items, wait four days, and pack them back up again?) and head to the beach with my family. So if you think living with my parents for a week and then going off to the beach with them for a week won't be worth all of your time and money, then you don't know us very well.

So today, before I close the door on this Ecclesiastes 3 moment I got going on here ("There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...") I will share you with one last tidbit from my season in Tennessee.

This season has been a great one, a horrific one, an unforgettable one, a please-God-let-me-forget-it one, a kind one, a mean one, and an everything in between one.

In no particular order here are 14 things The Attorney General and I have learned in these 14 years.


1. The SEC is the best college football division. Handsdown.

2. In Texas there are rednecks. In Tennessee there are hillbillies. There is a difference. Just look at their front yard: In Texas they have washers and dryers and cars up on blocks, in Tennessee they have confederate flags and shotguns. Personally, both scare me.

3. Find out who you are. Search. Explore. Journal. Pray. Read. Study. Listen. But become sure of who you are. And then become confident in it. Be confident in the woman/man God made you to be. And as Dolly Parton said in her biography that I read three times, "Be an alligator girl, be whatever you want to be. Wear your cornflakes with pride. Just be sure that you give them a quarters worth of wonder." (It would make sense if you read the book, okay?) I know who I am, and it may not jell with who you are - that's okay, neither I nor the Lord apologize for it.

4. Walk into your favorite Tennessee bookstore, spend $10.99 on a book about day trips in Tennessee, and then go explore. You will find out three things: 1) There is beauty everywhere in this state. 2) There are really great cheeseburgers at some really dumpy places. 3) Your spouse will open up their heart to you on just about any subject while on a simple ride on a sunny day with a milkshake.

5. Not any thing, not any one, beats family.

6. The friends that you never ever wanted to stick around - usually do. And you are so much the better for them.

7. The friends that you really really wanted to stick around - usually don't. And you are so much the better for it.

8. Boundaries! Boundaries! Boundaries!

9. Four is so much sweeter than two.

10. Chances are the state flower of Tennessee is spelled "F-L-O-U-R." God bless 'em.

11. Sometimes the sweetest friends 14 years can give you are the kind that never need anything from you but your heart. They don't steal your time and they don't suck your energy. They just want to be friends. Those are the keepers!

12. I met an angel once, in Tennessee. I kid you not. She had red hair and spoke with a soft southern accent. She was a nurse in the Labor and Delivery Unit who was not scheduled to work that night and yet, strangely enough, she came in just for me. ("I heard about you Melissa, and I left my Christmas party just to be here with you. I was so happy to be here with you.") And that night, Christmas eve, 2005, she held my hand, wiped my brow and loved on me, The AG and our sweet Elisha. To this day I do not remember her name and though I've called the hospital to find her no one seems to know who I'm talking about or who I'm describing. Hebrews 13:1 says, "Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." However, sometimes, I believe, they entertain us.

13. If you burn a bridge, take your tools and get to work re-building it. However, if someone else burns the bridge then let them do the work. You can work all day and all night, you can sweat and you can cry. But you cannot repair what someone else has damaged. It's not up to you, sister. Leave it alone.

14. God. Is. Faithful.


There you have it, 14 lessons in 14 years. Some learned the hard way. Others learned the hard way. That's usually how I do things.

Lord, may I find the maturity to walk in every lesson you've ever taught me. Thank you for working diligently with a knuckle head like me. This season has been everything you ever promised. And more.

Aug 6, 2009

I Am Raising A Productive Member of Society.

These are the things that are important:

That she learn her ABC's.

That she knows that to "honor your father and mother" will bring a long and happy life that may or may not include Raisinets as rewards and/or bribery.

That she sees the episode of The Love Boat with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

That she is able to distinguish the difference between the Paris that is expensive and the Paris that is cheap. (I'll let you determine which is which.)

And that she understands that before any good mascara - cheap or otherwise - can go on your eyes, your eyelashes must be curled. This is a must. She's gonna be a Texas girl, for goodness sake.

Oh, and that she understands in her deepest heart that batting those eyelashes will get you nowhere in that Texas heat without a little of this.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Aug 3, 2009

Dear TSC,

Yesterday was The AG and I's last day at our church. I found myself punching him in the leg during the closing prayer and saying...
"Let's get the heck outta here."
"What? What about saying 'goodbye'? Don't you want to say 'goodbye' to some people?"

But I didn't.
Well, I did.
But I couldn't.
Goodbye's don't come easy for me. They really never have. I suppose there could be some underlying feelings there that need to be sorted out by therapy but I like to pretty much blame it on my parents. I think it's due to the fact that they once sold my horse while I was sleeping. I went to bed with a horse - woke up without one. To this day they said it was because it was dying and they didn't want me to have to see that happen; but all I know is to this day when I bring it up they shoot looks at each other across the kitchen that scream, "Don't you say a word...we swore we never would. She's testing us. Don't break!!!"

Little do they know I hated that horse.

So yesterday as I was sitting there looking around at the people that make up my church home, I felt a wave of emotion that caused me to want to say a few things. I guess this is as good a time as any. So, if you don't attend my church - just indulge me. If you do attend my church then, well, this is for you.


Dear Thompson Station Church,

In life there are certain moments that stick out in our minds. We remember the first step our child took - or that we were the winning champ on our 6th grade Spelling Bee team. I, personally, remember much more important things, like the first time I dyed my hair black. And the first comment someone gave me about it, "Are you starring in Madame Butterfly? Please tell me you're starring in Madame Butterfly."

But I also remember the first time I visited your church.

It was almost ten years ago and the building was so small, the sanctuary was so tiny. There was hardly any stage at all and I wondered how in the world anything exciting could ever happen on a stage that small. Soon I learned that the feeling you get when the Word of God is delivered straight to your heart really needs no stage room at all.

And I remember leaving that Sunday morning and saying to my husband,
"Oh, no. No, no, no. Don't even think about it. I am not going to that church. And you can't make me."


"Uh....well, because there stage was the size of our bathroom. Their choir sang a song I first heard on The Southern Gospel Hour in 1987. And I don't think anyone there has ever even heard of a flat-iron."

"We're going."


And it was after I finally took a breath from all my whining that my husband said the words that I still remember to this day...

"Because none of that matters. What matters is that in our lifetime we get to see ordinary people do extraordinary things. I have a feeling we'll get to see that here."

He was right. We have.

I have been a part of a church that has grown from 500 to nearly 2,000 in a few short years.

I have seen seen 1500 kids come to Vacation Bible School because to TSC nothing is more important than the heart of a child.

I have seen outreaches to the community, to the homeless, to the nursing homes. And I have seen outreach within the church, from family member to family member. Just because.

I have seen the sick healed, the divorced healed and the hurting healed.

I have seen families get baptized, together, after coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus. Together.

I have seen the broken ones repent. And the repenting ones be broken.

I have seen momma's check their kiddos into Sunday School so they can go teach a kiddos.

I have seen daddies get to church early just to help park cars, shake hands, grill hotdogs or teach lessons.

I have seen ordinary people do extraordinary things.

I have seen hundreds follow the Lord's leading to do missions work.

I have seen some come home from that missions trip, pack up all they have and leave again. Forever. For the sake of the call.

Yes, I have seen ordinary people do extraordinary things.

I have seen teenagers make a stand in their classroom.

I have seen teachers make a stand in their classroom.

I have seen the suicidal reconsider.

And I've seen the spouse who was days away from leaving...reconsider.

There's nothing like seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things.

And though I have made friends at Thompson Station Church that I might never have had the blessing of knowing had I not followed my husbands lead, none can compare to the true friendships I have made with the two men that I served under.

My Worship Pastor and my Senior Pastor: Two men who love Jesus more than anything else in this world. Two men who are passionately in love with their wives, dedicated entirely to their children, yet would give up everything for their Lord.

Two men who have laughed with me, loved on me, taught me, believed in me, forced me to do things I never thought I could do and prayed diligently for me. There is something to be said, in this day and age, when you can find one man (much less two) who are Godly enough to say things like, "Lord, my 'yes' is on the table." But also, "I was wrong, please forgive me. And I'm sorry."

So instead of going around and hugging necks yesterday I hope that this silly, little blog (which my pastor hates by the way...he hates him some blogs) is a way I can truly say "Thank you," to each of you.

Thompson Station Church, thank you for...

Letting me sing on that little bitty stage. And then, a few years later, on the big one.

Letting me lead you into worship. And encouraging me in that gift.

Sending me cards and letters, leaving voice mails and notes on my car during our long struggle for children.

Being as excited as we were when we finally had them!

Letting us teach you every week in Sunday School.

Teaching my daughter "Jesus Loves Me" when I am a bad mother and all I've taught her is the theme from "Happy Days."

Holding the door open for us to leave every Sunday morning and holding my daughters arm so she won't run out into traffic.

All the food. The food you brought to our door when we were sick. The food you left at our door when we were poor.

Wearing yellow roses to my son's funeral.

Never pressuring me to work with kids or babies since they do not like me. At. All.

Allowing me to grow and flourish in what it is I do best.

Letting me write dramas and perform them on extremely special Sundays.

Believing in me enough.

Singing "Jesus Loves Me" as a reminder that He, indeed, does - at Elisha's funeral.

Reminding me that "although it might be dark day, will sing again."

My eyes are full of tears right now as I write these words because I will miss you. Terribly. My sweet church