Can you believe the incredible total over at MckMama’s blog? Over $10,000 has been raised to benefit String of Pearls, the ELISON project and No Hands But Ours. Incredible. And there is one more week to go, the fundraiser ends December 14 so if you haven’t ventured over there to see what all the hoopla is about, you should 🙂
In light of all the amazing things going on over a MckMama’s site, I thought it would be appropriate if I joined in on her Not Me Monday, you know, cuz there might be a thing or two that I haven’t done lately. Things I’m really glad I didn’t do. Unfortunately this weekend was full of things I DID do. And wished I hadn’t. So onto my list of things I DID do. All done yesterday.
It was one of those days. Right out of the starting gate. Shortly after we moved here, we found what we thought to be our ‘church home’. In the process of becoming members, we attended their ‘101’ class… a get to know your church kind of thing, I guess. Well, good thing we attended, because we realized shortly into our free pizza dinner that we, that is my husband and I, and this particular church differ greatly on one topic: salvation. And there is no way we can go from here to there on that one. No way. So we had to pull up roots and move on. That’s where the tough stuff comes in, our kids were loving this church. So were we. But we just can’t make ‘comfort’ and ‘ease’ ahead of what we truly believe. So church hopping has begun in earnest. Well, not in earnest… let’s face it, it’s no fun going to new churches week after week unless you have the personality of, well, my mom. And I definitely do not. For me, it comes a close second to listening to Shepherd shriek when his brother steals his favorite toy. Then add our kiddos to the mix (we keep them with us in the service unless we know we’ll be actually attending a church… don’t want to burn any bridges before we even get started) and I would honestly rather listen to Shepherd’s screech.
This particular church we visited looked great on the website. GREAT. We were excited to check it out, even though it was a solid 30 minutes from home. And 30 minutes away = getting up and going 30 minutes earlier. But we all managed to be dressed, fed and decent looking in time to arrive right when the music started at the crack of 10:45. For their version of the contemporary service. Well, disillusionment ensued as soon as we walked into the sanctuary. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I just have a sense about these things. Or at least I think I do. Nothing against this particular church, it was a perfectly lovely church full of what I am sure were perfectly lovely people, all praising the King. But finding a church that you truly want to join is like finding a piece of a puzzle. And this didn’t feel like a match.
Since we’d read such great things about this church and we’d driven all this way and we’d brought all these snacks… we had to stay. Chris on one end of the pew and me on the other. And a whole lot of potential public humiliation in between. Add to this the fact that the service was on the long side. And that our snacks were on the inadequate side. So about halfway through, things began to go south. Quickly. If I had to draw one more rendition of Thom@s the Train, I was going to scream. By the time the service was over, I was ready to get in the car and drive far, far away. By myself.
As is tradition on Sunday, we headed to lunch after church. This Sunday it was my choice and I picked a favorite spot for providing comfort food, perfectly appropriate after the hour and a half I’d endured shushing and bribing and threatening my children to keep it down to a level of appropriate noisemaking in a sanctuary. If there is such a thing. Even with Jude in my grill the entire meal (it’s pretty hard to fit a crew our size into an oversized booth), a burger and fries definitely took the edge off.
Then it was on to our next adventure, the Christmas tree farm! I’d done my internet research on this subject and felt confident that I’d found the place to not only supply our Christmas tree, but to make some wonderful Christmas-time memories for our kids. And of course, the place to capture those memories on film. As in: a perfect family photo for our Christmas cards. I even called, just to make sure that 1) it was still open and 2) they actually had trees. Yes on both counts. And my eagle scout husband wrote out directions so we wouldn’t get lost, because, well, we never get lost on family outings. Once on the way to the farm we realized that those directions had somehow been misplaced… huh, wonder how that happened? That something, written on a scrap of paper, might somehow be gobbled up in the sea of ‘stuff’ we travel around with in our overloaded minivan for “just in case”? Surprising. Initially, this wasn’t a huge concern since we still felt that we knew where said tree farm was and we felt like we were headed in the right direction. 10 minutes later with no tree farm in sight, I began to search for that little scrap of paper. In earnest. No directions. About the time Chris decided to turn around, we happened upon the tree farm… an oasis in the desert! All was not lost, our 30 minutes in the car were not in vain! The kids started jumping up and down in their seats… we were going to get our tree! And make beautiful memories in the process!
Our excitement was dampened a tiny bit as soon as we opened to car door. The wind was blasting. Like we were, well, in the mid west. And it was significantly colder out on the open plain than in the city. And I forgot coats. But we pressed on, undaunted. We went into the tiny office and got the rundown on the trees available, and even caught a glimpse of a sadly unkempt Santa. You know, one of those Santas with the clearly misplaced fake beard, in an ill fitting cheap Santa suit. The kind who just makes believing in the ‘magic’ of Christmas that. much. harder. The kids were pleased to get a candy cane and if I’d have known how hard it was going to be to get a picture of those little buggers, I’d have filled my pockets with that red and white striped bribery- on- a- stick. Asher got to carry the saw for our potential tree and we all set out, determined to come home with the most beautiful tree ever.
Once we rounded the bend, it became evident that no perfectly rounded 8+ footer was going to be coming home with us. In fact, nothing more than a lowly Charlie Brown tree was available for the trimming. We did manage to get a bit of a walk in and upon noticing the large cows and single bull on the property next door, Sophie exclaimed, “Look at those bears!” Yes, my love. Look at those bears. You city girl, you.
We moved on to the next order of business: the pictures of the memories we were making. Who needs a Christmas tree to make beautiful memories?? I had the fam gather around in a cove of trees, placed them just so and then backed up to take this picture of Christmas-time glee. All I saw through the viewfinder was 2 irritated and cranky 2 year olds, 1 stomach baring 4 year old, 1 extremely distracted almost 5 year old year old and a defeated 7 and 9 year old. No memories- in- the- making were noted. So I snapped a few (which were almost all soon deleted) and we moved on to the sleigh on the property that I hoped would contain the perfect Christmas picture. With bribes of candy abounding and daddy doing his silliest daddy dance, we managed to get a few pictures of the kids actually smiling. You know, acting like they were having fun. But nothing worthy of a Christmas card. We all piled back in the van and headed home.
At least we’re all already laughing about our day – gone – bad.
I think we’ll be heading to Home Depot for our next Christmas tree hunt.
a Tonggu Momma says
We church hopped for over a year until we finally landed somewhere. I will pray for y’all.
Miss Anna B says
Oh my goodness! SO SO glad you were all laughing about it. I could feel my stress level going up with your descriptions.
Even with some cranky, some disappointed and some belly-baring kiddos…..they are still cute pictures 🙂
Mom To Six says
Those cuties are adorable in any mood they’re in.
Lisa Cairney says
Great pix, Stef.
Rebecca of "China, Baby!" says
Oh my goodness. I am wiping tears off my cheeks from laughing so hard… that was therapeutic (and a great workout for my abs, I must say). Your day sounds a bit like my day at the pumpkin farm… so much for memory-making!!! 🙂 We try don’t we?
Mom to my China Posse says
Yes I do think we have those days where the expectations sometimes out weighs our reality. lol….but you did get some great pictures. We did visit Santa yesterday and had a similiar experince when the one we always go to see was booked for the day. lol…. I blogged about it but forgot to emntion I had a sick kid on the way home who peppered us all with Throw up! Amazingly though it was a very good day to that point! Merry Christmas and good luck with finding a new Church. Were in a smiliar sitution.
ADORABLE photos, despite what it took to get them! 😉
I really enjoyed reading this post, Stef! Good luck on finding "the church"…it took me awhile too & let me tell ya…it is SLIM pickins in this here city! 😉
Salvation….yeah, there’s no gray area on that one. Your experience makes me so glad to have a wonderful church at which to worship. Before my mom passed, I was looking for a church for her to attend in her hometown….so I just googled and then read the “what we believe” sections for each church’s websites. I was able to cut out a lot of them right at my computer. Hope you find a church home soon!
You have such a gift for putting into words what life is like with many children. What I really love is the humor you capture! You describe many of our days and family adventures.
For a season we were looking for a church and just decided to have church at home. We were so blessed by our time seeking Him together. We had just finished with a very busy time in our lives and it just felt good to rest. Praying for your direction.
I am sorry about the Church….I love the family pictures!!! Those kids are so stinkin cute I can’t stand it!!!!!!!
Boy, oh boy, can I relate to this post!!!
First of all: Church. This summer we moved from Franklin, Tennessee, the Christian music capital of the world. Going to our mega church was like going to a Christian concert every weekend with occasional appearances from Micheal W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and Sean White (the last two were members of the church)I knew we wouldn’t find that here but could I at least find a church that has at least SOME contemporary music and that the congregation SINGS??? I’ve tried my mother’s church and feel like I’m singing solo- with people looking at me! Then the babies, I DON’T put them in nursery because it has to be THE church before I do that, they would freak out otherwise. Have you tried taking a 16 month old, a 2 1/2 year old, a 5 year old and have the limited support of an 11 year old? Yeah, fun times. Boy I sure miss church…
The second: the Christmas tree farm. Mine was the Pumpkin Patch in October with the hope of photos too. It was pumpkins in a parking lot. Guess “patch” means parking lot here. Next time I go to Target I’ll mention my car in The Patch to the cashier and see if she knows what I mean.
AHHHHHHHHH! the memories that were made!!! We opted for the “Lowe’s” Tree farm this year, walked right in and pointed to a tree and said yep! that’s the one. It is now beautifully decorated in the corner of our dining room where it has been touched at least one thousand times!! The picture in our mind never matches the true picture!!
love the pictures.
Miss Ashley says
Wow! Crazy day. I can’t imagine hoe crazy your life must be sometimes. Although they were not Christms Card wortyh photos, they definately were Blog worthy photos. It is nice hearing about your family again, it seemed like its been a while since you shared any antedotes.
Just wanted to say that it struck me that Shepard and Dalton looked so alike in the last photo. Is that just me?
Well put…why is that the most well-planned out family events always seem to turn out like that???
Can you email me…you’d think I’d save your email by now…good grief! email@example.com
hahahaha! jude has a sassy “oh no you didn’t!” face going on in the second pic. cracking me up.
love you guys!
If you ever get the church thing figured out let me know. We just moved a month ago. I found a church for us that I thought we might like. Well our 13 year old hated it. UGH! We tried a new one this weekend. She liked it better as did my husband. I guess we will wait and see now.
Young Creations says
Wow what an exciting day. And I thought my day of watching tv on the couch was exciting. Nope, i would have much rather been with you all.
Bless your sweet heart.
I still thought all of the little Christmas trees were beautiful.
I use to beg my mom for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree because I did not want it to be sad because no one would buy it.
Yeah, I do need therapy.
I hope you find your church, soon.
You will know it because it will feel like home.
So happy that you got the BURGER! Did you put Ketchup, salt AND pepper on the fires?! That’s when people know I have had a bad day!
The pics are GREAT!
I admire your courage to go looking for a REAL tree with all the fam! We opted for artificial a long time ago, but they are a lot of trouble too. The pre-lit lights work for about two seasons and then you either get a new one or string lights anyway.
Your pictures are PRICELESS though!
3 Peanuts says
Oh Stefanie!!!! I know those kind of days and I am so sorry. Here’s hoping for a much better SUnday this weekend:)
I’m laughing soooo hard, because, well, it’s just so real–and this time it’s happening to a mom besides me. Love it. And best wishes in finding a church family that fits…yeah, salvation is not negotiable.
The pics are great, and the “Christmas Vacation-y” story to remind you of the reality behind the photos is priceless. 😀