Is That God?

Church on the Move (COTM) is an amazing place.  There, I said it.  They have a whole creative team that comes up with their ideas and videos and skits.  And it shows.  Last night we went to the Christmas Service called Celebrate With Family and it was far from disappointing.  So much music (my favorite part) and a poignant reading from Pastor George at the end.  So far, near 17,000 people watched the service and there are two more shows to go tonight.  The pics in this post are from services past.

The shows kicks off with Andy Chrisman singing The Little Drummer Boy and, wow...between Andy's voice and the drums beating in the background, it was very, very good.  Then came the Grinch.  Yes, COTM incorporated the Grinch into their Christmas Service.  Beyond that...they incorporated the music from Thriller into the scene.  There was a rap performed while the Grinch played his 20ft tall organ about his being mean and evil and how he should grow his heart or go away (I think, honestly, I'm too old for rap).  Then, there were zombie like creatures that came out (not sure of the link there, either) - they weren't scary, just walking zombie like and they lined up with the Grinch and did the Thriller dance!  E and Z LOVED IT!  Q was on my lap and amazed!  They also sang some songs about Santa and Jesus...beautifully incorporating both aspects of the holiday into the service.

Then Pastor George comes out and reads The Christmas Story while a cello (maybe) is playing softly in the background.  He reads about the prophecy's written 700 years before Jesus' birth and reads about the birth, itself and how Jesus was to settle in Nazareth.  Chills.  Throughout his reading, Q kept pointing at him and asking me if he was God.  I kept saying no, but he kept saying, 'yes-uh...that God'.

At the end, I asked E what his favorite part was and it was the Grinch.  He said, the first two songs almost made him cry...but he 'man'd up' and 'pushed them back' and didn't cry.  I said....well I cried.  And he hugged me.

Life is good.  Christmas is awesome.  Family is inspiring.  Kids are a gift.  I love my life.


The Ultimate Gift -- Jim Stovall

<deep breath> Before I begin my 'book report', of sorts...I just need to compose myself.  You see, I just read this book....correction, I read this book in less than the time it takes to drive from Tulsa to Joplin (about 75 minutes).  I'm so thankful to Eric for suggesting the read.

Jim Stovall is, in a word, brilliant.  I could go on and on about this man's gift - finding joy in his problems, motivating others to greatness, and I love how he writes.  I encourage you to read up on him and what other's are saying about him.

The Ultimate Gift is remarkable.  I've read books that have inspired me, challenged me, made me cry, made me think...but never at this magnitude, never at this depth, never for this long.  There is a sentence in this book that, when I think back, hits my heart in a way that I cannot describe....and yes, I remember the exact sentence ("I have to meet a special friend in front of the swing set at the park.").

Without giving too much away...this is a story about a trust fund baby and his uncle giving him the experience of a lifetime...in hopes of enriching his life.  In order to receive his inheritance, he has to 'pass' a series of monthly tests over the course of a year.  In short, the uncle is hoping to open the eyes of a loved one to the great life that can be had.  I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away the intricately embedded jewels or the 'ah ha' that should be discovered while reading this story.

This book will be required reading in our household.


I am a mom, no wait, an employee, no wait, a wife, no wait....

I remember when the question, 'What do you do?' was simple.  Not that I have memories of anyone asking me that question when I was a child, but I can imagine my response would be something like, 'I annoy my sister' or 'I take naps' or 'What do I do? What do you mean? I don't do anything.'

Time passed...

The answer could have been more detailed, as my life got more detailed.  Blessings for everyone around that I was shy and absolutely not comfortable talking about myself.  So my answer, at that time, would be something like, 'homework' or 'I play volleyball/basketball' or 'What do you mean? I don't do anything.'

Time passed...

Kids were born.  I still worked outside the home.  Thankfully, my employer LOVES family and I was able to take both E and Q to work with me.  I work for a small company, so there was lots of 'help' if I had a conference call or if clients were in the office.  Two grandmother's (one biological, one non-biological?) made my job easier.  When asked, at that point, my answer was more like 'I'm a working mom' or 'I dream of sleep' or 'What do you mean? I do everything!'  I felt like I was burning both ends, but doing a fairly good job.

Time passed...

This year, we added Ben.  I still work (from home).  B, like E and Q, stays at home with me, while I work.  Let me clarify...while I attempt to work.  I live in a larger home than ever before - totally NOT bragging here - I'm saying there's so much more work to put into keeping the house.  I am married to the best man I've ever known (excluding my Papa from that list, of course) and I find myself wanting to be a good wife, too.  So the answer now is more like, 'I am Melissa...I do a lot, but nothing 100% well.'

I'm at a crossroads here.  Do I continue to attempt to be the cookie-baking, lunch-making, note-in-the-backpack-sneaking, quality-time-spending, story-telling momma?  Do I continue to attempt to be the dinner-ready-at-5, laundry-pressing (who am I kidding?), lunch-making, love-note-on-the-mirror-leaving, attentive wife?  Do I continue to attempt to be the 8-5-working, 100%-productive, on-top-of-my-game, save-the-day employee?  Do I even attempt to be all of those things AT ONCE???

Or...do I just be 'Melissa'?  Who happens to be (today anyway) a food-preparing, kisses-before-bed, hugs-anytime, attentive-listener, back-rubber, milk-producer, customer-biller, idea-provider, God-loving, floor-sweeping, Christmas-tree-decorating woman of the not-100%-clean house.  Amen to that.


It's just a package....

Everyone has their little 'things'; small nuances that make up the person they have become.  In the last few years, I've found that what some people have called 'pickyness', I prefer to call my quirks. And I like having quirks.

Christmas brings out one of my quirks.  I'm not the wife/mother/woman that decorates the whole house.  You will likely NEVER see a Santa's village or picturesque township of any kind in my home near Christmas.  You will probably not even see lights decorating the outside of our home; unless Eric does that.  This lack of decoration does not lend itself solely to Christmas.  My home doesn't have Easter clothes, Fall clothes, Christmas clothes, or Halloween clothes.  It's just not my style.

However...the packages and tree are a different story.  I guess it started the year I somewhat boycotted Christmas.  I was still expected, of course, to give Christmas presents; even though I was not in a cheerful or giving mood.  So I complied.  And everyone got their packaged wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.  As I was begrudgingly wrapping gifts....I realized that I was giving people 'brown paper packages tied up with string' and that was a few of MY favorite things!  Ever since then...oh boy.

Those who know me, also know that I have a 'quirk' against play doh, modeling clay, glitter...ya know, stuff that makes a huge mess no matter how careful you are.  And E and Q are not careful - so, much bigger mess. Those items are, in fact, banned from my home.  Well last year I was feeling quite festive and decided that my packages would be wrapped in black paper with white whimsical designs OR white paper with black whimsical designs...and all bows/ribbon would be red.  Classy.  I was proud.  It only took wrapping the first gift and looking at my hands to realize, these beautiful, whimsical patterns were designed out of g.l.i.t.t.e.r.  Oy.  Not only on the packages, but the new ornaments that E and I picked out (which were pink and blue)...covered, I mean COVERED in glitter.  It was like a snowglobe threw up in my house.

I still have some of that paper and I used it for our Thankmas wrappings (sorry, Mitch and Grant).  This year, my mind is a whirlwind of ideas.  The tree is still pink and blue ornaments with white and blue lights.  The only ornament that is out of the theme is my sock monkey because he's always on my tree.  But the wrapping...oh the wrapping...it will be different this year.

Will I wrap in all white, with different colored bows for each person?  Will I wrap in a particular paper for each child?  Will there be name tags or will the kids have to guess which paper is their's?  Will I revisit the brown paper packages?  Decisions, decisions, decisions....


I said what?

Together, Eric and I have 6 kiddos and we've decided that is a good number.  I decided to have a quick procedure, although permanent, that would ensure no more babies for us.  The womb is closed forever.  Pregnancy, for me, is not easy or enjoyable.  It's filled with medications, first to keep the baby, then to make sure he/she doesn't grow ginormous in utero.  All in all...there are very good reasons for us not to have any more children.  Besides, if we DID have another child, we'd have to draw straws as to who stays behind on trips since we wouldn't fit in our car...or this could be out family car.

Even though this was not a 'real' surgery, they sure do make sure it's not unpleasant.  Personally, I think they could have given me a Tylenol PM and gone about the procedure...but no, I had to fill two narcotic prescriptions (they needed my driver's license for this....what list did I just add my name to??).  When I filled those scripts, I knew....this was going to be a memorable day...but not for me, entirely.

The coolest thing about this procedure is that I got to watch it on TV while drugged up.  This, I confess, leads to an enjoyable time had by all since I cannot filter my words under those conditions.  The things I remember include telling the 3 nurses (while tears are appearing) that I 'preciate them for helping me; asking if the image on the screen is really me; concluding aloud that I am a freak at seeing what appeared to be an 'extra' fallopian tube; and (this is the most embarrassing to me) softly, but audibly saying 'wooooooo' like a ghost while they were trying to calculate inventory used.  And I swear I remember hearing something come out of my mouth about a balloon, an elephant, and a reindeer.  I don't know, don't ask.

Ahhhh, the joys of being receptive to medication.


dum, dum, DUM....the list

Years ago, some friends of mine started this list idea.  1001 days to complete 101 tasks.  I thought, woohoo for them...I have too much going on to do that nonsense (sorry guys).  Most days, at the end of the day, I feel something like this...and something tells me she didn't have half the stuff going on in her life that I have in mine (course, I don't wear those darn heels to clean the house or cook dinner, supper, food).

So I'm taking the challenge...biting the proverbial bullet.  I'm going to start my list on January 1, 2011.  So many things will happen during my list's life - the kids will be 15, 14, 10, 10, 7, and 3 (and apparently, we will have NO food in the house, pray for us).  Hopefully, my participating in this list will be an example to the littles and will make an impression.  Who knows.

I'm still trying to come up 101 things...I'm at 57 right now and could use some suggestions.  So feel free to message me, comment here, write on my wall, Facebook message, email, text, or a give me a call to let me know what you think.  Holy moly...really?  Is it THAT necessary to be THAT available?  Hmmmm.....


Don't Feel Bad

We just spent a few days at Eric's sister's house with most of the family celebrating Thankmas (combo Thanksgiving and Christmas).  It was the first time in many years that a baby was around and there was much anticipation to snuggling the new wee one.

Aunt Shawnda with Ben
One particular evening, Ben was a bit fussy.  I had been nursing for, I'm sure, 13 hours...and just needed a break from His Majesty.  Eric took Ben and started the long proven 'bounce/jiggle' that tends to calm little ones.  And, of course, it worked!  I was enjoying a quiet moment without a baby attached to me.  Zoe was sitting on the floor near my chair and looked at her daddy, then looked at me.  She said with such empathy, "Ya know, I think my dad just has more experience...because, ya know, we were babies before."

I paused.  I stared at her big, doe-like eyes.  I contemplated how to respond.  Didn't this little girl know I have been responsible for two babies before Ben?  Didn't this innocent, small human know that a mother's instinct can be stronger than any life-experience?  What about MY experience??  What about the hundreds of times over the last 12 weeks that I have calmed this particular, little baby??  What about the hours I spent in the middle of the night while everyone slept, except Ben and I?  Where was her uber-experienced daddy then??  Every sentence I formed in my mind, I thankfully realized, could have resulted in diminishing her awe of her daddy.  I just couldn't do that to either of them.  So I paused longer.  I asked her, "Zo...did you know that Ethan and Quinn were babies once, too?"  Her response was a soft, "yeah"...and if to say, "oh sweety...yes, but that's not the same" or maybe "awwww, you think you're experienced...how cute."  My mouth dropped open, but there was really nothing that could be said, at that point.

And that's when it hit me.  There's really nothing that could be said, at that point.  See, she is still at that beautiful stage where she truly believes that her father can do a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g!  Her dad can answer any question -- and be RIGHT.  Her dad can solve any problem and resolve any dispute.  Her dad can kiss away tears and his embrace can soothe hurt feelings.  Her dad can battle imaginary monsters and squash real bugs.  With a brush of his strong hand against her delicate cheek, she knows everything will be all right.  She can trust it.  Her dad is the best protector and can rescue anyone without even riding a horse!  She will measure all men against her dad...and rightly so.  Her dad has, in fact, hung the very moon.

As I sit here, Eric is playing Mannheim Steamroller (I mentioned a few days ago how much I love them) because he knows I've just had a rough couple hours....yeah, I guess he does know a thing or two.


Is Santa Real?

Tis the Season, right?  Wrong.  While a lot of parents get ready for the Christmas season with zeal and utter delight (ha), I always have a small amount of dread that rides the yuletide wave into town.  See, for me, the dread is not about the shopping (I have amazon.com for that), the decorating (a fake tree and plenty of ornaments), the family visits (family doesn't visit enough, so any family visit is a good family visit), or the cooking (I LOVE cooking).  This mother's dread comes from my 7 year old who has long since known that Santa is not real...at least not the Santa in the mall that brings you toys on Christmas morning.

I brought it on myself, I know.  I don't like lying to my kids, even if it's to make a childhood belief last longer.  So when my nephew told my young son that Santa wasn't real and he came up to me for validation, or maybe hoping I would squelch the lies coming forth from my nephew's blasphemous mouth....I did what any parent might do...I said, "Well, what do YOU think?"  To which my little man replied, "I don't know...I don't think so."  We let that sit a bit and a few days later he asked again, this time...it seems...hoping I would validate HIS feelings that it wasn't real and only kids believed it.  Oy.

I told him the story of Saint Nicholas and how he was a real man, etc, etc...but yes, the Santa in the mall is just a man dressed up...and his JOB is to try to keep the magic alive for little boys and girls.  We talked about how Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday (which sparked our tradition of baking Jesus a birthday cake at Christmas....'cause, well, it's his birthday, DUH!).

So my dread comes when any other little child shows innocent exuberance at the sight, nay, mention of his glorious name....Santa.  All of the magic and wonder and excitement can be smashed in a single, tear-inducing statement..."You know, he's not real."  Images of little boys and girls in tears and utter dismay at hearing those words would fall on my shoulders as the 'mother of the little boy that ruined Christmas for my family'.  Any time we're walking by and a 'Santa' is out passing out free smiles and warm handshakes...I must quietly and quickly remind the eldest-belief-smasher that we do NOT tell anyone that Santa is not real.  We let them have their magic for as long as they can hold onto it.  He silently nods as we continue to walk, but he is eyeballing the kids, with their glossed-over eyes and crack-your-face smiles...and I know what he's thinking.

But bless his heart....he stays silent and manages to keep the secret alive.

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