Christmas Concerts

This year, we are looking forward to seeing the Sound of Music, go to a Christmas Circus, and attend the Nutcracker – but another big highlight for me is getting to be on the other side of the scene – it’s been a very special and honored privilege to take part in putting on a couple of Christmas Concerts. And not just that, these are concerts with a purpose.

DSC01654

The purpose has been two-fold: to support a group called Kainos, and to provide those who would attend in support of that Human Trafficking Awareness organization with lovely, relaxing, and meaningful Christmas music.

Continue reading

The Christmas Tree and Memories

The Christmas Tree.DSC01646

I really don’t know why it’s such a special part of our Christmas celebrating. Maybe because it’s the largest visible item to mark the season? I’m not sure if that’s the reason, but I can say a part of the significance of it comes from all the good memories that surround the Christmas Tree. They come back to me as I sit and look at the lovely decorations collected over the years, my now-5 year old popcorn string (yes, it does keep! I don’t have to string it every year, and my son even stopped snacking on it at least 3 years ago, haha!) So here is my walk down memory lane, if you care to snoop, after we decorated the tree last night:

December 4, around midnight….I’m sitting here watching my sleeping children whom I allowed to drift off as they looked at our job well done on the Christmas tree this year. I’ll carry them to bed later. But now, I’m thinking about our Christmases past, at least the memories that the Tree reminds me of. I laugh about the one year we went and cut trees together with my husband’s family – my mom in law ended up picking the most sparce Charlie Brown Tree you’d ever seen. It was funny. But looked comically great once sprinkled with tinsel and covered in her various decorations. I also remember before that the year my husband was in Afghanistan for Christmas: the kids and I went with his family to cut a tree – with our boxer, Betsy, too. I fell asleep on the way home on my brother-in-law’s shoulder – a bit embarrassed about that when we got home and I’d left a little drool on his shirt.

I remember another year that my husband was home and we’d (well, I had, I guess) picked a ridiculously huge tree – it took up 1/4 of our living room. And my husband even had to cut the branches down in the back so it would sit near the wall enough. And when it came time to take that one down, he opted to saw it up inside the house to make removal easier. Then I also remember the tiny tree we put up in Florida at the vacation home that special Christmas with my mom and dad – and on Christmas day, we all went over to the assisted living for my last year to celebrate the season with my grandparents. Mom and I made lasagna to bake there at the home for a special dinner with them. Grandma talked about that day even up until she passed away in July this past year. She’d still say the same thing whenever it came to her mind: “you remember, Melissa, when you and your mom cooked that wonderful lasagna dinner for Christmas for us in Florida? Those people would pass through the hallway there and smell that good food and just get so jealous of us.” And then she’d smile and laugh. It’s still not come to my heart the full realization that I won’t see them again on this earth. But these memories certainly help.

I remember another year, I think it was last year or the year before, when we had just finished decorating the tree, and it made me think about Jesus’ proclamation that He is the light of the world. The beauty of the tree all glowing and inviting reminded me that Jesus called people to come to His light. So when the decorating was over, we sat together and read that account from the Bible.

I hope this Christmas tradition will continue to draw my children and myself closer together, and closer to the Lord. As I watch them sleeping (I feel I could watch them all night) I also feel the weight and responsibility to raise children who understand the meaning of Christmas and the love of Jesus. And my prayer is that God can use many of these tangible traditions they love to bring life to God’s truths.

So – if you took the time to read this and it reminded you of great Christmas Tree memories, share them with me please!

Memorial Day, again

Hey, folks. I guess I tend to follow holidays and special days. They give us landmarks in our lives that keep the days from slipping one into the other without distinction, I think. And as Memorial Day comes around again, I realize a few things: first, the year has gone by so quickly! And secondly, this for me personally is one of the more serious and important holidays that I solemnly want to be sure to recognize….and give back what I can. So first, read this re-blog. Then, help me do something special this weekend:

(original post, here) MAY 26, 2014

Have a Memorial Day…

                                Remember the Fallen…

                                                                                Remember their Families…

I was speaking with my dad at the end of the day; my husband, kids, and I had finished our day with a few tribute videos, standing to the National Anthem, and praying for the families who have lost loved ones. My husband can number friends among those fallen in the recent years, as can I. My dad almost said “Happy Memorial Day” then said, no that is not fitting. We talked about how it should be said: Respectful Memorial Day, Appreciate Memorial Day, Consider Memorial Day… and then we came to a thought at the same time. Have a Memorial Day. If you took time to consider the fallen, show respect for those who gave all, and made your gratitude and appreciation visible by either wearing a patriotic symbol, having a moment of silence, saying a prayer, or visiting a cemetery, you did just that….

Don’t ever stop standing. And thank you to the men and women who continue to do just that.

(present day)

So I had shared some other thoughts last year about the political temperature and how our media and even government seem to forget the importance of the men and women who give all. But this year I have a different focus, and I’m asking for your help.

soldiers-memoriesThere is a song I’ve written called SOLDIER’S MEMORIES. Here’s what you can do: over the weekend, every sale of this single on iTunes I will donate to The Green Beret Foundation. Also if you are a veteran who has lost dear friends or a family member, I want to give you the song for free. Just send me an email letting me know, and I’ll send you a free download. click HERE to email me directly for that. For everyone else, click HERE to purchase the song. And to all included, have a Memorial Day. God bless.

April Fool’s, weather-style

Last year, I did some fun April Fool’s jokes on my kids that I found from the internet. This year, I had nothing planned – it kind of took me by surprise. But not as surprised as German weather’s own April fooling…here’s a little video I made very quickly this morning:

 

 

And it continued all day too! Sun…no, snow! ….. no, rain…. no more sun…. no, actually snow, at 6.5 Celsius?? Strange, foolish weather 🙂

A Tie, Some Scissors, and a Bank

How on earth does that go together? I’ll tell you, and it just happened today to me for the first time. I mean, it’s not everyday you walk into a bank and a total stranger offers you his tie and a pair of scissors to add to the chunks happily cut out by various females behind the counter and elsewhere.

At this point in time, you are probably as confused as I was when I watched the teller take scissors to a perfectly good tie while attached to the gentleman in the business suit. And they were conversing as if this was perfectly usual! My curious sideways glances invited me in on what was happening however: as I finished my own much more boring transaction, the man walked up to me and offered some scissors to participate in this fun, destructive act. He then explained that this childish cutting is part of a German tradition on the first day of a commonly celebrated holiday: Fasching. Here’s a little video so you can get a small picture of the events going on over the next week around here:

While this particular holiday may not make it to a permanent location on our family calendar, it’s always fun to see different celebrations from another culture. Encyclopedia Britannica has a nice little blip on the history of events: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/202177/Fasching.

As a military spouse, I cherish these impromptu events in my life. It’s unplanned, unexpected, and sometimes utterly necessary. The fun and humor in getting to experience diverse cultural events, especially when they come at me in funny forms like chopped-up menswear, balance out all the challenges that come with trying to learn a new language, figuring out where to buy groceries, and overcoming the other various challenges with being stationed overseas.