Monday, October 25, 2010

Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more

Christmas 1992 was memorable for me. It was the year that when mom and dad told us to make our "wish list" that I couldn't find that one i-have-to-have-that-gift-please-please-please gift. I remember going through the Macy's toy catalog that we were sent and thumbing through each page with ease and care in hopes that something would scream at me. But it didn't.

 So I started my list. I wrote a random troll down (yes, I collected trolls), a couple of games, and a mickey mouse watch.. I gave it to mom to "deliver" to Santa.. and that was it. Looking back, I'm not sure what time of the year it was, but I am guessing it was sometime early December. after giving mom that gift list, I forgot all about it.

UNTIL...Several weeks later as Christmas was approaching (literally 2 days away) I happen to be at my grandma's going through the mail on the table and then I saw it, it was an add for the newest Cabbage Patch Kid. I had that moment of "I need it I need it I need it!"And that was it. My heart was committed to this gift.  That evening I was so excited to deliver the news to mom that I had finally found that one gift that would complete me!  I went to my mom  waving the add in hand and said "I want to change my list for Santa. To this! the newest cabbage patch kid! I want her to have blonde hair and blue eyes and..." Mom stops me,  looks at me "well, you can't. Christmas is 2 days away. It's too late, Amber. And Santa couldn't find that gift he wanted to at this time in the season. "In almost a condescending tone I replied "yes he can! Santa will do it!!!"  I remember mom bending down to make eye contact, looking at me very seriously and saying "Amber, do not get your hopes up. you will not see that doll under the tree on Christmas."

But I wasn't accustomed to being turned down. Especially when it came to Christmas gifts. In my heart of hearts I felt like I would wake up and see my little blond haired blue eyed Cabbage Patch Kid, and I would say to mom "but you said..!" and then she would say "well, Santa must have got the message." or something along those lines.

The evening before Christmas I went to bed excited and filled with anticipation over the gift. I knew 'Santa' would come through. I knew it. . So, you can imagine my surprise when I woke up on Christmas morning and  ran like a cheetah toward to tree to find  the troll, a couple of games, and even  the Mickey mouse watch..but  no Cabbage Patch. I continued to digg. and dig. and dig. But there was no use.. My heart sunk. I cried.

it was a traumatic Christmas for me.
Looking back.. I wonder what could have prevented this. Mom told me that it was not going to be there. It was clear on her part- but  did I have this unwavering faith in the magic of Santa, or the spirit of Christmas? Or was it that I knew that gifts were important enough to my family, that I knew that somehow I'd get THAT gift because I had always got THAT gift? I think it was probably a healthy combination of the two. especially being that gifts were a HUGE part of the Christmas family tradition.

Now that we have a mini-Mac (AKA the Aveman, ave, or Avery) traditions for me are all the more important. I love the idea of carving pumpkins, going to a pumpkin patch, dressing up for trunk or treat, decorating the tree, and yes, even giving gifts etc. And at the same time, I want so badly to instill traditions that are going to point him and his little heart in the right direction with the right mindset. I want Christmas for us to be a time to focus on Jesus, our family, and by family yes, we can give a gift or two. But not to the point that it's all consuming!   I am really stuggling with the fact that the HUGE amount of what Christmas brings is stress financially because of the all ever popular idea that Christmas is about the gifts! With Christmas being right around the corner, I can't help but wonder what we as a family need to do to deter from our society's version of Christmas traditions where we are pressured into beliving that all it's about is the gifts, and flashiness of it all.

One of my favorite lines out of Dr. Seuss's "How the Grinch stole Christmas" is:

" It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages boxes, or bags!
 And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."

Maybe Christmas perhaps, DOES mean more.  Although it's October and still a few months away, lets go outside the box and focus on Christmas in a different light this year. Thats my goal. What's yours?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Ohio Benefit Bank

Ok. this is going to be a super boring blog to some, but it's something that I am excited about, so I will still share.
Here at the church we have realized recently that there is a huge need in our county and surrounding counties. We have a food pantry and clothing pantry that has grew to one of the largest benevolence helps to the families in this county... So needless to say, being the 'phone-answerer' here at the church I am talking to these families on a daily basis. Lately it's been really encouraging to see some of them make decisions to accept the Lord into their lives....
But the one thing that I  and many others have realized is that the churches funds can only be stretched so far in the benevolence ministry. And there really is nothing more difficult for me than to tell a family "sorry, we don't have the means to help you."
So with all that said, it seems there was a real God-send this past week.
Our church was invited to 'The Ohio Benefit's Bank" luncheon. When we received the invite, honestly, I had no clue what it was. It advertised this "benefit bank" as a system that would offer us FREE online access to their benevolence database. So, Pastor Bennett was interested enough to take me, and one other person to the luncheon.
When we got there what we found out was pretty cool. Basically the program was offering to train counselors (at no expense to us) to help families in their time of need by assisting them in receiving funds (49 billion unclaimed funds)  in programs like :
-Food Assistance Program
-Health Care Program
-Ohio's best RX (prescription program)
-The Golden Buckeye Program (senior citizens)
-Extra Help for Medicare Part D (low income)
- The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) (electric help)
- Child care assistance
-USDA Child Nutrition Programs (free reduced price lunch for low income families)
-FAFSA applications
- tax preparation (for free)
Everyday I talk to families who have no idea where to turn for help when they find themselves in desperate situations. Whether they found themselves in a financially detrimental place recently or over the course of a time. Many don't even know that these programs exist! And for the few that do know about them, many times they find themselves in 50 different offices filling out 50 different applications...
So in short- our church is agreeing to be a "OBB site" where families can come to a "one stop shop" and be able to fill out all of these applications (as long as they meet the government  requirements).
To me, this is exciting. It's the church actually being the hands and feet of Christ- which is awesome. Instead of giving a pat on that back saying a prayer (although I am not saying that prayer is not a powerful tool) we are actually helping feed and clothe the homeless and the financially destitute in tangible ways! 
So next week, me and two other ladies are going to venture to Cincinnati and take our first counselor training course for the OBB! Very exciting! I can't wait to see how God uses this ministry
P.S If you think that YOU or your church/ business could also be a part of this, check out the website for more info:


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear 11-year old me,

Dear 11-year-old Amber,

First off, your going to live to 26 (at least). You know how you think that 26 is old? Well, it's really not. And do you know how you think that you will be a cool meteorologist that lives in New York and has a huge studio apartment?. Well, you aren't, don't and don't. Good news, Mom and Dad are still alive and kicking. But Pepper 'ran away'.. At least that's what mom and dad still says.

You actually live through those really awkward years.. You know, the ones that your in right now? Yeah. You get through it in one piece. Oh, and can you do me a favor and wear something other than that blue flannel next year. seriously. I know the 'grunge' thing will be the style, but you can still have variety. But in any case, you make it through these years, so don't worry.

FYI- when you are 26, the phrases "Cha Ching" and "What's the dealllio?" aren't cool anymore. Oh, and Reba McIntyre never writes you back. So you can quit checking the mail.

Anyway , couple things-you worry too much- geez, just calm down. You freak out over everything. Every little B+. It's OK!! You can have a few of those (trust me, you will). You will be an extreme spaz if you don't lighten up! Don't stress about missing your first dance either. I know it sucks, but you need to go to that game for your sister. Speaking of siblings, you are hard on them. If you don't quit taunting them, they will haunt you with the torture stories that you put them through. No more making Ashley eat grass, Anetta eat mud, or making Alysia believe that you are possessed.. wait- I mean, Don't make Alysia believe that you are possessed in a couple years. Just don't do it! It will mess with her head for years to come! And quit making Nick hit himself with his own fists. Believe it or not, Nick actually gets to be bigger than you. And he is stronger than you. So just stop.

Do I sound like mom? Well, i probably do because you are a mom at 26. Yes, you have a little boy. His name is Avery- like papaw. He's preetty wonderful.. Speaking of grandpa, enjoy your time with him. You will look back and want that time with him. Just sit with him. Let him watch 'The Price is Right' without crying over your shows. When he is sitting out back fiddling with his knife, go out and sit with him without asking for a "my little pony".

Enjoy this time. I know you sit at home dreaming of your future, but don't wish it away. Don't. Your future will come. Your time with family and friends now are important.

Oh- and you have a nephew, Ace, and a future niece Addisyn.You have a pretty awesome husband. You know how you would write in your journal at night about the perfect guy? You would dream and think of all of the amazing movie-like moments that you will have. Well... He doesn't exist.


He really does. Actually, you will wonder sometimes how lucky you are to have someone that you had assumed was 'out of your league.' But he loves you and you love him. I won't tell you his name- you will figure that out with time. But do me a favor, don't settle. Don't date just anyone. All of your friends are going to date and have heartache, and you will too. But just know, your time will come..

By the way- your a little young for "the talk", but just remember that true love waits. Don't do what your friends do. You will be happy that you waited.

You will like going to church. At 11 years old, I know you find that hard to believe. Especially since grandma and grandpa have to drag you out of bed on Sunday morning. But you will actually be thankful for those Sunday mornings with grandma and papaw. Trust me on this one. Actually when you read this at the ripe age of 11 you have no clue what big choice you will make in a 2 and a half years. But it's a pretty cool one. It will change your life. Your dreams. Who you marry. Everything basically. But don't be scared. You won't regret it. 'He' will guide you.. Who's 'He'? Well- you'll find that out.

Oh- and don't expect to have it all figured out after high school, or college, or even at 26. Your still figuring things out, and that's OK! 'He' will guide you. (I know your wondering 'who the heck is 'He', right?) You actually know that there are some big things that are still awaiting at 26. big things. lots of change. and that's great. Everything will come with time- just trust.


26 year-old-Amber


Friday, October 08, 2010

sister wives??

So my newest guitly time sucker is the new show on TLC, called Sister Wives. If you haven't heard about it, it's a reality show that follows the crazy life of a polygamist family. The husband currently has 3 wives and 1 girlfriend. TLC has always been one of my favorite programs so its on frequently, so I was awestruck when I was sitting on my couch half watching one of my favorite shows "19 kids and counting", and half feeding the baby and playing with him when this show started. It's kind of like a train wreck that you want to look away from, but at the same time you have this urge to gawk... so I did.. and wow.

Still a little speechless.

Justin asked me why I was watching it, and I honestly had no good reason other than it was intriguing. It was intriging because I can't imagine as a wife, where you are one of the three or four. As a person who studied counsling once upon a time, I have to wonder what an emotionally drained and jealous world that they live in. And I am also curious how a family with a bizillion kids and 4 wives function... Anyway- thats no real excuse why I wasted my time watching it...

Anyway- the whole show got me to thinking. How awesome would it be to have like 3 other wives in my house?! seriously. I have it all figured out. The other sister wives would work all of the time, at least 60 hours a week, for 7 days a week., and when they were home they would be on cleaning duty, and they would have to be really really ugly..... And they would NEVER I mean never ever touch MY husband or MY baby..ever... or I would pull out a can whooppie..All three would stay in my guest room with bunk beds and could only come out if I gave them permission ..And then I would stay home all day long with Justin and Avery,soaking up sun and taking long vacations, and long walks, and eating fried food, ...???????

wishful thinking? perhaps.

ok. maybe not. I like being a single wife. No siblings needed here. Thanks.


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