Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolution

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to blog about this for a while, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I can share this, but only if you promise not to think well of me. I really want to highlight the work the Lord has done in my heart, because, trust me, if left to my own devices, I am uncontrollably selfish. Before I press on, here’s my scriptural reminder:

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4

Since it's New Years Eve and the "R word" is on everyone's mind, I want to tell you about a resolution I made last year. It wasn’t my New Years resolution (which, if you recall, was to wear more striped socks). I’m not sure when I made this resolution, but I guess it was about a year ago. My resolution was to “give” whenever asked. The scripture that called me to this conclusion was Matthew 5:42:

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Of course, there are also other scriptural references on giving, like 2 Corinthians 8:11, Matthew 5:40, Proverbs 14:31, James 1:27, 1 John 3:17, Matthew 19:21, Proverbs 22:16, and of course, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which cuts through the chase and gets right to the heart of my problem:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.


In our family, Dirt handles the finances. This means that he pays all the bills, he worries about interest rates, remortgaging, gas prices, and our family’s giving. I have always rested in the fact that Dirt is a cheerful giver. Mainly because I haven’t been. I used to challenge him about giving too much and I would roll my eyes when he made statements like, “the more we make, the more we can give”. Seriously, that statement worked my nerves, cause I was always thinking, “the more we make, the more we can buy (for ourselves)!”.

Whenever I would hear “God loves a cheerful giver”, I’d just sort of latch onto Dirt; clearly if I’m married to someone who cheerfully gives my our money away, that has to count, right?

So let’s circle back to my resolution. My self-imposed rules were simple: I would give whenever asked, it could be a quarter, a dollar, it didn’t matter. There was no specific dollar amount or percentage of income associated with my giving. I didn’t even have to be cheerful about it. Hey, it's important to set the bar low sometimes.

Editorial side note: I should mention that while my resolution was specifically focused on financial giving, there are many other ways to give. Giving your time or prayer to someone or something is probably even more important than financial giving.

Initially I was anxious to try out my new giving strategy, “initially”, like as in “on the first day”. After that I may’ve tried to avoid situations where I would encounter requests (like tossing out a few of those mailers without opening them; cause if you don’t open the mail from Samaritan’s Purse, then they can’t actually ask you for anything). Then there were giving situations that I wrestled with, like the dirty guy on the side of the road playing guitar with his guitar case open – was that officially a request?

But then I got into the habit of giving, and something strange happened…I began to enjoy it. I started seeking out ways to give, I became interested in the plight of others, and I even started reminding cashiers to ask me if I wanted to contribute to whatever the checkout charity was! The Lord transformed me into a cheerful giver!

I’m not suggesting that you need to do this, I’m just saying that if you did, you might find it to be an awesome experience. Saying “yes”, I learned, is actually easier than saying “no, sorry, I don’t have any cash on me” and it feels so much better.

I can’t say that there aren’t days where that stupid Salvation Army bucket has sucked the last dollar out of my purse and caused me to go without my afternoon soda, but in the big scheme of things, Nutrasweet isn’t good for me anyway. Plus I remember the story of the widow, and that makes me feel all warm and self-righteous inside.

Oh, and Dirt…he couldn’t be happier about this transformation. Stinkin’ Dirt.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Your Favorite Christmas Gift?

Remember when you were 10 and you couldn't wait to get on the horn with your friends to compare notes about Christmas gifts?

Let's be 10 today.




No theology allowed today, let's just be worldy for a minute and talk straight about our favorite Christmas presents.

These boots are Amelle's favorite Christmas gift. When she opened them she might have believed, if even for a split second, that she had died and gone to Heaven, cause we all know that only Heaven has 2-inch heeled size two boots, which a certain mother has repeatedly said are too high for 7 year olds. ...and which a certain 7 year old has cried over, in the middle of Target because her mother is the meanest in all the land.


Did you follow that?





What I didn't realize about these boots is that they gave birth to a whole new look for Amelle. Upon receiving them she immediately suggested that I probably wanted her to dress up for Christmas, since it was Jesus' birthday and all, and then disappeared to her room, only to emerge ten minutes later in some funky Punky Brewster ensemble that apparently "went" with the boots.

The following day we found ourselves shopping at the Limited Too, for additional outfits that would be worthy of the boots.





Avery's favorite gift was the XBox 360. Ironically, he received the Xbox 360 last year and traded it in for the Wii (against his father's sage advice). Within the first 24 hours of receiving this gift, he had already used it more than the Wii (which he has now had for an entire year). I have only seen Avery twice since he received this gift a week ago. I'm thinking that we might need to implement some sort of time-allotment system, otherwise, he may grow up into one of those freaky video game people who live in an alternate reality.





Dirt's favorite gift was also the XBox 360. It's installed in our bedroom "for now", Dirt promises to move it to the playroom at some point (probably after we buy a new HD TV). Men are just large boys. Or are boys just small men?


Maya's favorite gift was the laptop that her grandmom bought for Avery and Amelle. She has commandeered it and already mastered all games on Playhouse Disney and Nick Jr. And yes, that's a small plastic hot dog in front of her. There are lots of fake food items lingering around the house these days. I keep picking them up and tossing them into the playroom, but they continue to reappear in my zones. I'm one step away from believing that I may actually have to eat them in order to get them to disappear forever.

So, tell me what your favorite gift was..

..or if you don't have one, tell me about a gift that you gave that turned out to be really special to someone else...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One Little Bear

Last week, during lunch with 3 of my female co-workers, the topic of "affairs" came up. One of my co-workers was telling us about two of her friends who are going through marital strife due to extra-marital affairs.
That's when I opened my big trap, "Dirt could never get away with having an affair, he's too careless. I can always tell what he's up to because he leaves tracks everywhere he goes. In fact, he can't even hide Christmas presents. Last week I took his truck during the snow storm and saw a little bear in Maya's car seat that said 'JARED, Galleria of Jewelry' on it. Duh, why would he give that to Maya to play with right before Christmas? Obviously I'm getting jewelry for Christmas".
"...And if I don't, then I'm going to have some questions!"

My girlfriends laughed and shook their heads at my husband's carelessness. Way to ruin a good surprise.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. Dirt gave me some great gifts, all the things I wanted. Then I spotted it, the small wrapped box. I smiled to myself and quietly pondered whether I should act totally surprised or fess up about the bear. I decided that I'd give him a good Christmas surprise reaction, but then tell him about the bear later.


I peeled back the paper on the neatly wrapped box and found myself staring at a Barnes and Noble gift card. Okaaaay. I looked back under the tree, in search of another small box. Nope. I smiled at Dirt, he smiled back. "Do you like everything", he asked. "Yup, you?", I smiled. "Yup".

"Um...where's my jewelry?" I asked.

Dirt looked utterly perplexed. "What do you mean?"

Then I told him about the bear and he laughed heartily at my ignorance. "Maya brought that bear home from daycare last week. I didn't know she had it in her hand when I picked her up, I saw it when I went to take her out of the truck. Did you even look at it? ..it's all raggedy - you can tell that thing isn't new. And do you really think that if I did get you jewelry, I would've given that bear to Maya?"

"Um, yeah.", I weakly smiled. "I didn't inspect the thing, I didn't want to see it at all to begin with." (How was I suppose to know about the pilled t-shirt, the loose threads, or the blue ink on the right paw?) .
"So....now you have to go buy me some jewelry so that my co-workers don't think that you're cheating on me. It doesn't have to be anything expensive, a silver chain or something."
That's not going to happen.



Friday, December 26, 2008

The Best Christmas Gift of All...

is Jesus.


Apparently, second best, is money...


My mother has 7 grandchildren who range in age from 11 years to 10 months. This puts her in a bit of a quagmire at Christmastime. Trying to find a way to give 7 kids "equal" gifts is a real challenge. Let's also remember that kids view "equality" differently than adults do. They take extraneous factors into consideration such as: the size of the box, number items in the box, monetary value, number of batteries needed to work it, the number of pieces of tape used to wrap it, mileage from home to the store where it was purchased...


...but this year, she outsmarted the system and found the perfect, one size fits all gift...


One stop shopping.

No Black Friday Sales. No coupons. No lines. No receipts. No returns.

...and the gift seem to satisfy everyone. Especially, particularly, even the parents.


Down deep I thought Christmas Eve would be a little bit of a bust since the kids weren't going to enjoy playing with new toys, but in fact, it was the exact opposite.

You would've thought someone hit the lottery, the way they were screaming and carrying on. The money was actually surprisingly fun and entertaining, the kids enjoyed counting it, rolling it, fanning themselves with it, sniffing it, and recounting it. It freed the parents up from having to untwist the 47 ultra-firm, finger grinding, scissor-defying, twist ties that hold toys in their packaging. And, we were able to move on into a fun family game of Pictionary...

...well, most of us were able to move on...some of the kids were still a bit preoccupied with counting money...


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours

a very

Merry Christmas

With much love,

the 5 moores

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I wanna know...

There are a few questions that I'd really like to know the answer to.




1. What's the one (not so obvious) thing, you know for sure is in your kitchen junk drawer?


2. What's the right number of presents for a kid to have under the tree?

3. Who do you like better, Run or DMC?

4. Why do e-cards stink so bad? The sentiment is there, and some of them are really cute....but something about receiving one leaves me feeling empty. Am I alone here?

5. (For church goers) When you're in church, and the pastor tells you to turn to a passage, do you secretly race the people around you to get to the page first, as sort of a silent sign of your bible prowess? 'cause I sure don't, I was just wondering if you did.

Alternate #5 (for the non-church goers): What do you think hell is going to feel like? No, no, I'm just kidding. Here's my real question: Do the elves at Santa's workshop make electronics and technology gifts, like ipods and laptops, or do they only make simplistic toys like dolls and trains?



Monday, December 22, 2008

Feelin' the Love

Christmas definitely brings out the best behaviors in children.

It hasn't gone unnoticed that the kids have been especially sweet to each other since Thanksgiving.

This year I made an interesting discovery: the more Christmas music I play, the better the kids behave. I'm not sure if the music gets them in the mood, or if it acts as a reminder that "the jolly one" is watching.

I wish the same would hold true with The Real Deal. The kids seem more reverent towards "the one who gives gifts", than "the One who gives Life".

Dirt and I have so much work to do.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Big Sisters and Red Noses

I wasn't blessed with an older sister growing up, but if I had been, I hope that she would've been just like Amelle.

Today we had our second snow storm in as many days. The kids were outside early. Sledding is all the rage in December...by March, not so much. It was COLD out, maybe 15 degrees, which meant that I watched from the back window. I suppose a better mother would've gotten bundled up and gone out there with her baby, but I think we've already established that I'm not "a better mother".

I couldn't hear exactly what was going on, but I do know my kids and I can tell you how this sequence of events unfolded:


Amelle tries to get on the sled with Maya so that they can go down the hill together. The boys could care less about the girls, they're trying to race.
.
Maya throws Amelle off the sled and tells her to go fly a kite, while she sleds "all by herself" (three year olds are famous for the "all by myself" routine). Can you see Maya trying to push Amelle off the sled?

Amelle obediently gets off the sled and then kindly gives Maya a push down the hill. Maya instinctively implements and up-side-down luge technique and tucks her head down for optimum speed.

When she reaches the bottom of the hill she waits for a moment, to ensure that the ride has indeed ended, and she pops her head up to see how far she's gone.

She rolls over and looks up the long hill. It's "Heartbreak hill" on a cold, snowy day. She begins to sob.

Big sister hears the distress..


...and rushes to the scene. (mother continues taking pictures from inside warm house)


She carries Maya's sled and holds her hand through the knee-deep snow, up Heartbreak Hill. The boys consider the girls an obstacle for their sledding enjoyment, and giggle as they swerve to "just miss" them.

Once the girls arrive at the top of the hill, the sequence repeats until cheeks get too red, or something becomes numb on somebody.

As I type, it's still snowing heavily and it's not expected to stop any time soon. This storm may yield 8-20 inches, on top of the 12 we got on Friday.

A white Christmas looks to be imminent.


Friday, December 19, 2008

D

In the spirit of fun (and blog boredom), I'm participating in Pocklock's meme. This is a very simple meme, not a lot of complex rules of engagement, which is good for me, cause I'm simple like that.


The rules: Write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter and post it on your blog. When people comment on your list, you assign them a letter, and so on.

I was assigned letter D.


1. Dirt. Easy. My beloved husband. My MIL doesn't really care for the fact that I've renamed her son "Dirt", but the name is biblical in origin. Plus, her son is proudly dirty and she doesn't have to live with it, I do, so....

2. Dad. My earthly dad, who passed away 4 years ago. I love him and I miss him so, so much. And of course, my Heavenly Dad, my Abba Father, who I love, love, love. Without either of them, I can honestly say that I wouldn't exist.

3. Drums. Especially the kind that are played by hand, I don't know what they're called, but they make me go weak in the knees. I love 'em so.


4. Disciples - I love Jesus' 12 disciples. The are so regular. ...Not the kind of guys who were careful about wearing pressed slacks to Church on Sunday - I can relate to that. Also, all of them (with the exception of John) died horrific deaths. Horrific, like being burnt, boiled and crucified up-side-down - some nasty stuff. Not something you'd do for Santa Claus, but for the real deal.

5. Dunkin Donuts - I was going to hone in and say "Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee" - cause that's what I fancy, but I love Dunkin Donuts for more than just the Iced Coffee. I love it for Dirt, cause I am quite certain that Dunkin Donunts is his life blood. I love Dunkin Donuts for giving Winchester a munchkin last summer when Seth and Nancy came up to visit. I love Dunkin Donuts because my kids think I'm the best mom in the world if I stop there before school and get them egg & cheese on crossaints. I love them because the people who go there aren't trying to be all shee shee, they just like coffee. I love them because ever since they switch to non-trans fat, I am no longer tempted to eat their donuts (see #7). I love them because they make my MIL happy, and they give her seven of those little cream things for her small black coffee with no questions asked.

6. Dough. Especially cookie dough, but I'll lick the spoon on almost any kind of dough. In most cases, I'd prefer to eat the dough than the finished (baked) product, it's true. It's truly a miracle that I haven't contracted salmonella.


7. Dimples - who doesn't? Dimpled cheeks, Jon Travolta's chin, I especially like the dimples on little babies' butts. Not so fond of the dimples on adult butts, though.


8. Dairy products - see #7.

9. Dollar dollar bills y'all. Okay if you want to split hairs, I actually like dollar bills the least of all the bill denominations, if I'm honest, I'd rather have a pocket full of hundred dollar bills (which I would use to feed orphans in Africa, of course), but my letter was D not H, so let's just go with it.

10. "Dum Dum, you give me Gum Gum" from Night at the Museum. I love that line and I constantly have to refrain from using it with my kids, 'cause I can't in good conscience call them "dumb dumbs". In all reality, I probably like it so much because it reminds me of the way Maya talks to me [head hung in shame].


So...if you're up for the challenge and want to participate, you must leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. C'mon, it's the Friday before Christmas, you know you're not doing anything at work this week.


Ready, set, go!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Concert

I'm not complaining about my schedule, I'm just sayin'...

When I checked my voicemail at 9am and heard the school admin say, "Amelle asked me to give you a call to let you know that her Christmas concert is at 1:30 today", I was in a bit of a pickle.

You see, I still struggle with the whole "organization of child events/assignments/activities" thing. I thought (and had planned for) a 6:30pm concert. 1:30 didn't look like it was going to happen.

Until "mommy guilt" kicked in. "Your daughter had the school call you to tell you to come - you HAVE to go. Amelle never wants you to watch her and today she does, this is your big opportunity - don't blow it! Work will always be there. Go ahead, you can rearrange your schedule. Squeeze in a couple of those afternoon meetings this morning, just talk fast. You can do it. Do it for Amelle. Oh you are a terrible mother, just look at you - you care more about work than your own kids? You make me sick! You should be tarred and feathered. You really should be. If I wasn't just the voice of guilt, I would seriously spit on you. Yes I would, and I would even do one of those nose snorts so that the spit would be really disgusting, cause that's what you deserve."

So I went at it. Cancelling meetings, rescheduling meetings, talking fast. I put in for a half vacation day and zipped out of the office at 11:45, stopped at home to pick up the Christmas dress (and my camera - of course) and planned to arrive before the start of the show to help Amelle change into her dress and smooth down her hair. My plan came together seemlessly - I was outside of her classroom with dress in hand at 1:10.

However, instead of being greeted with a "worlds best mom smile" - she began to cry. We stepped out of the classroom and melted into my arms, "I can't do this, I can't do this".

I was stunned. "..but look, I brought your dress so you can be dressed up like all the other girls.."

She cried harder.

"Okay, you don't have to wear the dress, but you have to do your concert"

"I'll only do it if you don't watch me. You can wait out in the car".

She was dead serious and I knew it. Amelle isn't big on the whole on stage thing, and seems to find it easier to do what she has to do without the pressure, er..support of her loving parents.

"Well then why did you have Mrs. Chick call me and tell me about the concert?"

"Cause I wanted you to take me home right after the concert"

...so essentially she wanted me there so that she could enjoy "early dismissal" after the concert, a whole 25 minutes earlier than her normal dismissal time.

I tried one last time to get her to put on the dress before I walked away, camara around neck, dress in hand, sorrow in heart. All the other girls were dressed up, but that didn't matter to Amelle. She wasn't having it. No dress. She was going on stage with her school clothes on.

I sat in the lobby so that she could see me when she passed through to the auditorium, I wanted her to have confidence that I didn't sneak in to watch her. She smiled and waved at me as she passed by. Her eyes were still red.

Here's the one photograph I took of the concert....oh, what's that, you can't see the concert? ...that's cause it was going on inside the gymnasium, where I wasn't allowed.

...and here's the girl who made this post possible. My quirky little girl who I love love love.