Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santa vs. Jesus

Santa vs. Jesus

The topic is hardly important enough to be an issue and yet I see it all over social networks.  Pro Santa people, vs.  No Santa people.  I hope we spend less time discussing this with our brothers and sisters and more time encouraging each other toward love and unity.  Paul's letters to the early church are plastered with the theme of unity.  Jesus said, "By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." 

Love characterizes Jesus' followers --we can't forget that.

Matt Walsh has an article circulating titled "Who needs Santa when you've got Jesus?"

You can read it here  or don't if it is going to make you mad.  :-)

I want to share an excerpt from his article as I feel he makes a good point.

 Santa makes Christmas magical. If you take Santa away from your kid, you’ve taken all the fun out of the holiday.

Santa makes Christmas magical? SANTA?
Well, you know, there’s still Jesus. The Messiah. The Son of Man. Jesus Christ is better than magical. He offers something far greater than toys. He doesn’t have flying deer, but he has armies of angels. He doesn’t live in a cabin up in the North Pole, but He does live in a dimension that transcends time and space, and He invites us to join Him there in unending bliss. He doesn’t visit every house on Christmas night, but He’s always present, everywhere, all the time, because He is an omniscient deity.

In other words, Jesus is WAY cooler than Santa. This is a message that is, I think, tragically lost on many children. Let’s be honest: Christmas ain’t big enough for the both of them. Santa, the fun fictional character? Sure. Santa, the silly game of make believe? Yeah, he can join the festivities without overshadowing the Man of the Hour. But Santa, the actual real person who gives out toys made by elves? THAT Santa, being a man of considerable girth, tends to crowd Jesus out of the hearts of many kids. Yeah, Jesus is the Messiah, but Santa has TOYS. Who comes out on top in that scenario when you’re 4 years old?

Jesus is cooler than Santa: the message is tragically lost on many children.

How true it is that the allure of toys and candy can distract children from learning and understanding the most AMAZING story ever told.

May we realize the struggle in the hearts of our children and work hard to teach our children that Jesus is who we are celebrating.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Black Friday Blunder

So it was Thanksgiving night and we were doing what we did every year --pouring over the mountain of black Friday ads.

Eight households had a representative located somewhere between the living room and the kitchen.  I was at the table seriously studying the Lowes, Sears and Home Depot ad.  This was to be the year I finally get a miter saw.  [squeal!!!]   A couple of siblings were about to make a run to Staples so I had to quickly check out that ad to see whether or not we would get internet security free after rebate --we did.  I was circling the items I wanted them to pick up for me when Ty notices:

"Mom, what are you doing?"

"I'm circling the things I want to get."

"Oh!  Can I do it?"

"Yeah, sure, whatever."  I hardly glance up.  (Yes, I feel bad about it)

I set the Staples ad down and Ty immediately picks it up.  He begins circling every other laptop on the page.  Now when I say circling.... well... not to be rude here, but it's not so much of a cicle and more of a... well a bad circle. 

It's sloppy.

And this is THE ad.

The ad that 8 households have to share.  You don't mess with the ad.  One year people took the ads apart and left them lying all over the table or living room and then when the shopper came to gather it --at 4 in the morning, she had to scramble through the 300 pieces of shiny paper all over the house to get the marked up (circled) ad.

Needless to say she wasn't very happy.

"Ty!  Don't circle all that!"

"But I want all this."

"Ty, you only mark the stuff you want to PAY for.  You can't mark this cause you don't have any money."

"Yes I do, in my bank."

"Well... You shouldn't spend it, and it's not enough to buy a computer.  Here, look at these ads."

I hand him Dollar General and some other ads that no one is going to use.  Austin overheard the entire conversation and eagerly picked up a marker to "circle" his favorites.

A few minutes later Ty says: "Mom!  Can I have this?"  I look up to see him holding the Walgreens ad.  "Sure" I say, then I zone out.

Next day....

Ty comes up to me with an envelope and a pen.  "Mom, can you write our address on here?" I take the envelope and ask him why he wants his address written.  "Because I want to mail this to us."  He holds up a torn-out section of the Walgreens ad.  It was an inflatable snowman.  It was this:

I found out later he didn't tear it out, nor did he cut it out, he punched it out with a pen --this will seem sad later on in the story.

I thought it a little odd that he didn't just take the snowman picture home with him in his pocket.  Maybe he just wanted to get some mail.  The boy enjoys mail.  Kinda sad, that he has to wait till he leaves home to get some out of town mail.  So I went along with it.  I sloppily write out our address, as if I don't really care.  (Yes, I feel bad about that too.) 

I asked Dad if we could have a stamp.  He got us one.  I pointed to the correct corner upon which Ty stuck the sticker.  That was the last I knew of that.  It was going to surprise me if he was able to stay focused long enough to get that letter into the mailbox. 

Turns out he did.

Today I checked mail before picking up the kids from school.  This was in it:

In pen it says: "Return on Sunday" then in marker:  "Ellis at Gigi and Pop"  I'm guessing this was his return address?

I set the letter on the kitchen counter and wonder a little why it was so important to Ty to mail this picture to himself.

3:00 came and it was time to pick up the school kids.  We are driving home and talking about our days Ty says:

 "Oh!  I hope my snowman comes in the mail today!"

"It did Ty!"  I respond, trying to sound excited for him.  I mean, if the ad is important to him, it's important to me.

"Yaaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!  I can't wait to see my snowman!!!!"


  I know some of you are reading this and thinking, "Becca!  You are so dumb!  He thinks the snowman inflatable is coming, not the ad!!!"

Well, I'll have you know it was at this exact moment when I started thinking:  "I'll bet he thinks the snowman inflatable is coming, not the ad."

"Ty.  You KNOW that you mailed the piece of paper to our address, not the real snowman."

"No Mom, I ordered it.  I told them to send it to our house.  You and Dad said I could have it."  (remember the scene where he held up the Walgreens ad, but I was too concerned about myself to notice what he had "circled")  Yes.  I feel bad about that too.

Oh boy.

I explain best I can the process of ordering an item from a company.  I told him how you can call, go to the store or get on the internet, but you must first PAY for the item.  I explained that he simply sent the paper to our address and that the snowman isn't coming.  I might as well have told him "Santa doesn't care."

sigh.  It was sad.

We got home and as we pulled into the driveway I see that a package has come.  I very inconsiderately announce:  "Look we have a package on the front porch!"  (Yes, IFBATT)  Didn't occur to me that he was still holding out hope.  As soon as I pull into the garage Ty bursts out and runs to the front door.

I get Brady out then head over there as well.

"Ty what is it?"

A very small, disappointed voice answers me:  "It's just a saw."

We go into the house where his sadness was momentarily disturbed upon seeing the Christmas decorations I had spent the day putting up.

This boy just loves Christmas.  More than any of my other children, he loves the warmth and joy the season brings.  Twice today he told me:  "Mom, do you know what Christmas is really about?  It's about Jesus being born!"  I really don't think it's all about the things.  I think it's about what the things represent to him.

He walks into the kitchen, sets down his lunch box and sees the letter.  After tearing it open he stares at the paper and says: 

"Yep.  You were right.  It's just the paper."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Merely reading the word I just typed causes me to tense.  No one is without regret.  Decisions made could negatively affect the rest of our lives.  Sometimes it isn't till years later that we look back at a decision and wish we could change it.

Such was the case at 6:24 this evening.  Tonight I remembered back to a Sunday night about 4 years ago.  I was at Albertsons.  Mike was home with the two big boys and a baby who would instinctively start screaming the moment I pulled out of the driveway and didn't quit until I had returned home and had him in my arms.  I was at Albertsons taking advantage of a strange sale they had going on.  If you bought three McCormick spices a coupon would print out at the register for three dollars off your next purchase.  If you took that coupon and used it to purchase three more spices valued at or around $1 each, then you got them essentially for free.  So I did.  I had about 15 transactions of spices, three at a time.  Besides the spices you could also purchase McCormick's food coloring package.  I'm remembering now how I studied the package: "Should I stick to the classic colors?  Or should I buy the package of NEON colors?" 

Classic or Neon? 

Classic or Neon?

Why Becca?  Why did you get them?   Why couldn't you have just stuck to chili powder or cumin?  Or even curry for crying out loud?


And now, just like Pilate, I can't wash this off my hands.

No really.  I can't wash this off my hands.  I've washed them probably... (and realistically) 10 times since this happened.  And I've showered --believe it!  Mike's deployed AND I've showered.  All is not a loss.

This food coloring I bought (and I did end up purchasing some neon colors even though I only had male children at the time) was what made me shake my head this evening.

In a fit of brilliance I invited three of my favorite little people over for dinner.  Why?  Because I love their mama and wanted her to have dinner alone with just their daddy.  And because these are sweet kids and because my children love and miss seeing their playmates.

So I've got seven kids at the house.  All is going well.  So well that I decide to copy an idea one of my friends (a fun mom) recently did with her children.  You are all familiar with the "fun mom."  I knew several growing up, Wendy Wagley and Julie Robinson immediately come to mind.  Those are the moms that don't just have you over to play with their kids, but actually come up with creative things to do while you are there --and usually do them with you.

My friend, Rachel, hereafter referred to as "Fun Mom," sent me these pictures a couple days ago:

Those are pancakes.  The first picture displays the first initial of her first child.

 The second picture is of dinosaur eggs (one's cracked) Awesome? Yes. 

The third?  You guessed it: brains.

Sit down Fun Mom.  You're making the rest of us look bad. 

When Fun Mom reads this she is going to be really upset with me for not telling the whole story.  She actually wasn't feeling "fun" when she decided to do this.  In fact, she decided to do this because she wasn't feeling very fun.  Here are some excerpts from our text conversation that morning:

"I've never been hung over... Wonder if it feels something like having a kid that doesn't sleep through the night yet... Boys are watching a show... S and I are in bed."

"I'm hungry and nobody is there making breakfast."

"I went and bought delicious cereal so my kids would be so excited about breakfast on the mornings I don't cook.. That's lame huh?"

"Here's the plan for breakfast: 3 squeeze bottles with pancake batter and different colors of food coloring  We gonna make swirled and tie-dyed pancakes. (think they'll even care?)  Maybe we'll do it for lunch... When I wake up --dang I've got to teach J how to push play."

So there's the rest of the story.  Everyone stop feeling bad about yourself.

I want to be like Fun Mom so tonight with my 7 children 7 and under I'm going to get out the food coloring and Krusteaz and whip up some awesome pancakes.

I mix up the batter, add a few drops of green and a few drops of blue as I hum a happy little working song.

I set the food coloring on the edge of the counter and...

(everyone inhale) turn my back.

dum. dum. duuuummm....

There it is again:


Two sweet little children were in watching me cook and upon seeing the opportunity reached up onto the counter --anyone wonder why God gave two-year-olds arms longer than six inches?  I do.

Presently I turn back around to see four very blue hands and many drops of green and blue all over the floor.

"Ahh!"  I shriek.  "Don't move!"  My voice might have gotten a little loud, I think this because within a matter of moments 8 semi-alarmed people were standing in my kitchen.

"Stop!!  Nobody come any closer!!"

"Jack!  Go to the bathroom and bring me a washcloth from the top drawer.  And get it wet!"

"Ty!  Get me some wipes!"

"Austin get out of the kitchen!"

"Brady don't move."

Brady starts to run.  I grab his hand as he unhappily collapses to the floor smearing food coloring all over the floor with his loose hand.  Jack returns with a wad of soaking wet toilet paper the size of a ping pong ball.  "Jack!  A washcloth!"  I yell.  He turns to head up the stairs.  "No Jack!  The top drawer, the upstairs bathroom doesn't have any drawers!  That must mean I want you to go to the downstairs bathroom." 

Ty returns with a wipe.  I turn to our guest also covered in food coloring and hand her a wipe.  She just stands there.  "Ty, wipe off N's hands."  Jack returns with a box of panty liners in his hand.  "Is this it?"  "No!"  "This was all that was in the top drawer!"  He defends himself.  Both of us getting a little frustrated at this point.  (I'm still wrestling Brady)   "Then look in the other drawers!"  He leaves again.  Meanwhile, another curious child walks over to the discarded bottle of food coloring, picks it up and holds it out toward me.  "No!  Don't touch that!" 

Too late.

It was all over his hands and his feet.

"I was trying to pick it up for you."  The poor frightened child explains.

"You're right.  I'm sorry.  Thanks for trying to help."  I quiet down my voice in order to try to minimize the panic.  "Ty, get me more wipes."  He returns with a stack two inches high --brilliant child. 

The funny thing about food coloring is the more you wipe it, the more it smears.  It's almost as if, when mixed with any type of moisture, was designed to expand and intensify.   ha ha ha.

I start to laugh.  This is just too amazing to not laugh.

I wipe and more appears. 

I wipe and more appears.

Well, unless you wipe hands.  When you wipe hands it just smears around the first couple times then you wipe 10 more times only to remove a tiny amount --just enough to convince you it will still get all over everything if you quit. 

I pick up Brady, turn to the sink and start rinsing his hands.

Oh I forgot to mention that a few days ago Mike bought me a new dishwasher (love you babe!!).  When I installed it, I did something funny with the water and now the water pressure at our kitchen sink is at about 20%.  I need to look into that tomorrow.

So.. I'm holding a smurf child whose arms --although long enough to reach the countertop aren't long enough to reach the trickling water.   This isn't working.  I put him down and use the wipes.  Finally we get enough off that I'm convinced I can turn him loose without forfeiting my furniture.  I direct my attention to the drips all over the floor.  Each small drop required at least three wipes as the stuff spreads out as you wipe.

One of our guests, whom I haven't mentioned yet, is a normally smiley little girl who just turned a year old.  She didn't like any of the dinners I fed her and I think was getting a little hungry and tired.  Poor thing.  She was fastened into the high chair during all of this and was getting a bit bored of her surroundings.  She began to cry.

I laugh --not at her, at the situation.

No one else says a word.

Finally Jack asks me: "Mom, are you laughing or crying?"

"I'm laughing.  It was hilarious to think getting out food coloring was a good idea." 

I finally get all the drips wiped up.  I wipe up our little girl friend then turn to her older brother who had tried to help earlier.  With two feet to go we are down to three wipes.  We use them all, but I'm still concerned we might have left more than just the stains on his feet.  I send someone after socks for him.  No problem finding those, at any given moment there are probably 6 kids socks scattered across the first level.

I unbuckle the baby, and set her on the floor with a sippy.  She continues to cry.  I pick her  up.  She stops.  No problem.  I'm here for you baby.  I will hold you. 

One-handed I flip pancakes, pour glasses of milk and serve the kids dinner.  The pancakes, turn out pretty cool looking and thank goodness no one is grossed out by the fact that they are eating green pancakes.  (Who's the fun mom now?)

And yes, that is Mario from "THE Mario Brothers" eating dinner with the kids.  I know, I know, I should have told you, I just didn't want to be a name-dropper.

Dinner ended and the play continued.  I cleaned up best I could so that when my friend got here she wouldn't be any the wiser to the nights events.  I wanted her to go to bed feeling happy about getting to greet her husband at home with a clean house and no little ones to vie for her attention.  Sometimes we moms are spread so thin we don't get to focus solely on anyone or anything.  She told me later it was great to get to cook dinner and talk to her husband without anyone interrupting or needing anything.  That made me really happy to hear.

I know it may seem like I've got enough on my plate with the deployment and all, but getting to serve someone else (although a little work) is amazingly refreshing.  I was thankful for the chance to get to serve someone outside my immediate family as right now I have very few opportunities.

So, although we had a bit of a rough patch tonight, when it comes to having those sweet kids over and hopefully blessing their mom and dad, I have,

no regrets.


Monday, October 14, 2013

"Oh... nothin much"

I pick up Austin from his class at church Sunday night.

He looks up at me and says: "Did you have a good time mom?"

I look down, surprised by his concern for me and answer: "Yes, did you?"

Austin replies: "Yes."

"What did you do?" I probe.

"Oh... I played with puzzles and colored with God."

I'm not sure what curriculum they are doing up there but I'm a fan. 

Corn maze

This year, for the first time in my life, I was to attempt a corn maze. 
Yes, that statement was meant to sound dramatic.   I mean really, the thought of taking four little boys --who can without a moments notice need to poop, nap or eat, into a situation where you are expected to become disoriented, lost and confused is a scary scary thing. 
That's why I didn't do it alone.  I called my friend, Becky, and said, "When you come up here in October, I want to go to a corn maze."  "Sounds good" was her response.  She's always up for anything.
We planned it for Friday.  Early nap for the little ones then we packed up snacks, water, first aid gear and some extra diapers then ran up to school to grab the big boys an hour before school let out.  Listen, going to a corn maze may not seem, to you, like a good excuse to miss school but if that meant we had an extra hour before nightfall to find our way out of the corn purgatory, then it was worth the hour not devoted to education.  I wasn't going to risk it. 
It's a good thing we got an early start, because we were lost before we ever arrived at the farm.  My phone told me "we had arrived" but my eyes told me we were in the middle of nowhere next to fields of dirt and some sort of quarry.  Becky called the farm.  The lady who answered had a thick accent and asked: "Did you use some sorta GPS thingy?"  "Yes."  "Girl don't do that, it'll get ya lost."
Thank you.  Thank you for noting that on your website.
She proceeded to give us directions like something you would read in a Berenstain bear book:  "Just keep going.  You'll come to a bridge, go over it.  Then you'll see a pumpkin patch.  We're right after that."
I was expecting to take a right at an oak tree or a left just past the holler log.
We continued.  Eventually we came to the bridge (and yes, we went over it).  As soon as we did, we look over to see a field with a barn, playground equipment, tractors, car lot flags and tons of minivans parked in rows. 
"Ahh!  We made it!"
I park, pack up the backpack, lock the car and take a deep breath. 
"Hope we don't need a tent and a lantern" I think.
The kids happily scatter all over the playground equipment.  Becky hangs on to Brady and I go to buy the tickets.
I walk up to a lady who looks like she works there and announce:  "We'd like to do the corn maze."  She laughs and says, "Well, you'll need to go over there"  Then she points to a "yonder" field of corn.  "Just git back on the road and drive around the corner." 
"Ok.  Thanks."
We'd just let the kids out after an hour in the car.  We let them play for a bit. 
And play they did:

And fight over fresh squeezed lemonade. 

We got back in the car after a good 45 minutes of play and a concession stand dinner.  I highly recommend the corn dog.  I'm serious.  Jack ordered it and it was the best corn dog I have ever tasted in my whole life.  I might just drive back out there this fall solely to get anther taste of carny heaven.
Back to the car and around to the corn maze.  I vigilantly kept up with the map.  Turned out the maze wasn't that scary and there wasn't just one way that would lead you to the end.  In fact, we took a calculated wrong turn in order to reach the cool bridge.

Brady was allowed out near the end.  I think he enjoyed it, but was still a little mad about having to ride in the wagon. 

If you pay for the "Corn maze and hayride"  be aware that this is not it.  This is the train and it is very, VERY bumpy.  And be careful who you sit in front of, you never know who might think it's hilarious to throw corn at the back of your head.

This is the hayride:

And it was A-MAZE-ING.  My favorite part, without question.  Scratch that.  The corn dog might have been my favorite part.... I'm going to put food and entertainment in separate categories.  BOTH were my favorite.

We stayed over an hour longer than we had planned and enjoyed every minute.  Although I have nothing from which to compare, I highly recommend Schaefer's Corn Maze.  Texas people who are considering a trip up here: come in October next year and I'll bring you here.


Where did the time go?  My first post in three months.  Well, I'll tell ya.  It was a hard three months.  Probably hardest in my life.  Hard as a result of hard circumstances (nothing more than any of you go through) and a struggle with the Lord over who was in control and who could handle it.  God has been graciously (and painfully) teaching me that I will only find contentment and joy through complete surrender to His will.  He's also been teaching me through my weakness that it is not my strength I should be counting on.  I'm pretty sure this is one of those lessons He's taught over and over, deployment after deployment.  He taught it gently, but I didn't get it.  It hasn't been till this summer that He's mad it clear that we need to make some major progress in some areas.   I'm thankful that He didn't quit on me.  I'm thankful that He loves me (the Lord disciplines those He loves).  I'm thankful He refuses to let me cling to sin but will take me through whatever is necessary in order for me to see it and see my need for Him.  It's been hard.  It's been a good hard.  I'm not sure we're done with it.  We'll see. 
To update everyone, Mike is deployed, has been for a little over a month.  He'll be back mid-January.  The first three weeks were hard on the boys, but they are now settled into a routine.  I'm working hard to make sure all of them get some individual attention.  I'm also trying to find some fun things for us to do so that we feel like we are living life and not just sitting around waiting for Mike to get home.  This afternoon I got a sitter and Ty and I went to Home Depot and ask if they'd give us a kit to take home and build. Ty has been wanting to build something.  I have a project going on in the garage and he's been taking my scraps and trying to create.  Following a good dental checkup he was led to the treasure box for a treat.  He dug around for a moment then looked up at the hygienist and asked: "Do you have anything I can build?"  She found him a foam airplane.  Today at Home Depot a kind employee took us back to his stash of extra kits and offered Ty a Home Depot truck as well as a car with a couple of minions in it (Despicable Me 2 promo).  Ty happily accepted both.  Next we cashed in a free ice cream cone card at McDonalds (complements of the dentist).   Then home to build.  Ty told me 5 or 6 times: "I'm so excited."  We sat in the garage while the other children stayed with the sitter and built a toy truck.  He loved it.  As I blessed our dinner of macaroni and cheese and canned fruit I thanked God for getting to go out with Ty.  He interrupted me mid-sentence and insisted I thank God for "The best day ever."  I did. 
I've heard that a lot from Ty.  "This is the best day ever." I've seen it in Austin.  He got to spend a week with Gigi and Pop and Aunt Lulu and Chrissy and Joe. For a week he got to be the star of the show, not just the third kid.  He came home filled to the brim, totally content, feeling completely loved.   I'm so very thankful that God allows so many fun days even with Dad gone.  They miss him, but God again, is proving to us that He is all we really need.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes

Like I said a couple posts ago, I've got a couple more people around here (all the time) now...

And, I'll be real with ya'll for a moment. 

It's throwing off my groove.

This happens every time Mike gets back from deployment. 


I'm used to being the boss.  I've got my schedule, my way of doing things and then next thing you know somebody who out ranks me gets transferred back home and... it's just... it's just hard.

It's hard to give up my way.

One moment you think you're soooo selfless.  You watch the kids alone, for months on end.  You keep the home fires burning.  You patch up knees and hold the bowl while a little one throws up. 

As far as giving of yourself goes, you are pretty much on the same level as Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie.  The song "I Give You my All" could have been written with you in mind.  Come to think of it, it probably was. 

Service is your thing.  No one gives like you give. 

You think this is the end of the story until one morning you wake up, trip over a pair of size 10 sneakers and everything hits the fan.  "WHY ARE THESE HERE!?!?"  or maybe  "CAN NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE REPLACE THE TOILET PAPER ROLL!"   You're instantly in a bad mood that could potentially last for days.  The most random things upset you.  It's not plesant.

"If Mama ain't happy, nobodies happy."  And that's where we've been.

That's where I've been.

It's not pretty.  I've been easily irritated and just plain rude.  I'll say something and then think, "Why did I just say that?  That was so rude."

It's pathetic really.

You realized just how bad it's gotten when you have a conversation with your child that goes like this:

Setting:  Dad is driving in the Ozarks and decides to switch the van into a lower gear.

Ty:  "Mom, What's a gear?"

Me:  "It's a... how fast the engine goes in a car, or something like that.  The lower gears are better for driving in hills and when you drive slow. (pause)  Ty, one day you will probably know more about it then I do, then you can teach me."

Ty:  "But Mom, you will be in heaven by then."

Mike and I chuckle at how old he must think we are about the same time as Jack leans over and whispers to Ty: 

"Or she could be in hell."

Friday, June 14, 2013

First day of school, last day of school

First day of school --EVER for the Ellis family

Last day of school 2013
Only 18 more to go.