Nov 122011
 





I’m tired this morning. Not weary tired . . . peaceful tired. I did my best tired.

Our Holiday Hands project is winding down. I made an announcement that I wasn’t taking any more requests a week ago, and God giggled. The requests continued to pour in, and every single time I thought we were out of offerings, an email arrived in my inbox or a check appeared in my mailbox. By the way . . . how do all you people know where I live??? Maybe you enter “Beyonce” into your GPS. Say hi to my girl.



As of today, we’ve had over two hundred Monkees participate in our Love Project. Actually, the number is so much bigger than that. Many have spun off their own Love Projects, or held vigils at the website . . . praying for me and for all the givers and receivers. Every single Monkee has been a giver and a receiver in his or her own way. I continue to be completely astounded by the generosity and courage and trust and love that has been offered with no strings attached. I don’t know how much money has changed Monkee hands, don’t think it really matters. But I’d guess it’s been more than twelve thousand dollars. And maybe a million pounds of toys and clothes and gift cards and love. I’m not the best estimator of poundage though.

A single mama in Atlanta who has six children that sleep on two dirty mattresses is receiving seven brand new beds and mattresses this week. Three special Monkee babies received ipads to help their big brains. Friends nominated struggling friends who don’t even know about our Monkee family, and those shocked friends received boxes full of love and goodies and money . . . out of the clear blue. One woman wrote to me and said,

“I’ve prayed every night for the past week for a miracle for our family, and one bigger than I could have imagined arrived in the mail yesterday. It was like it came straight from God.”

Well, yep, of course it did.

When we believe in love enough to trust and give and open, God uses us as miracles for each other. And the world, quite literally, becomes a more miraculous place. Heavenly. On Earth as it is in heaven. So many of you gave even though you barely had enough for yourselves this year. That is faith. That is knowing that when we pray, give us this day our daily bread, God will always provide. He may not give us enough for the year . . . as a matter of fact, if He does, it’s probably not ours to keep. Money, love, energy, they’re like the manna from heaven that rained down on the Israelites each day during their forty years in the desert. We are to use up today’s portion and leave the rest, trusting that todays portion will arrive right on time again tomorrow. If we get scared and save too much, if we hoard our manna, it begins to rot. Because it shows that we do not believe. We do not believe that we serve a loving God who will provide for our needs, one day at a time. And who offers us the honor of providing for the needs of others. We are free to give our extra, because tomorrow we will be provided for again. We can live without fear.

Suze Orman would probably really, really hate that whole paragraph, but whatever.

When I started this project, I was a little nervous, because Craig and I were only offering $600, and I knew the needs would far exceed that amount. But look what happened. We offered what we could, and our offering multiplied. It was loaves and fishes, people. God took our little offering and made it enough, more than enough, through you. Thank you for being a part of our loaves and fishes miracle.

I plan to write down the stories that came out of this Love Project. Trust me, there are many miracles that are screaming to be documented. I’ll get them to you, promise. For now, if you’d like to write a message about how this experience affected you or your family . . . please tell us about it in the comments here. Instead of writing a thank you letter to the folks who sent your gifts – write it here. Because the love of all of Monkeedom was behind every gift. And because there is a lot of ugly in the world right now and it is our responsibility to keep testifying to the light. To encourage people not to lose hope, to prove that STILL, EVEN SO . . . Love Wins.

“Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable . . . but lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” We must not spend too much time in front of CNN becoming more and more jaded. We must yell louder about love and listen harder for it. Love is all around us. There are two dogs in this human fight …the dark one and the light one. The fearful one and the brave one. The evil one and the good one. The winner inside each of us will be the one we decide to feed. Feed your Love and Hope and Joy Dog. Let the other one wither away.

NOOOWWW….

This is going to be my last post until the New Year. It’s time for me to get back to my family and friends and start preparing my heart for the holiday season.

By prepare, I don’t mean shop, I mean get quiet and pay attention.

I’m actually finished with my Christmas shopping. My friends and I decided to start an “I’m Dreaming of a Green Holiday” Facebook Group for our neighborhood. Everyone went through her toys and took pictures of the gently used toys that her kids’ had grown out of. Then each person posted those pictures on the FB page and we basically traded toys. I found three things that each of my kids will love, just sitting in the basements and garages of my friends’ homes. It’s been an amazing way to help the environment and the wallet. Too much waste at the holiday. Too much time at the mall. And I’ve gotten to know my neighbors better. Passing on my kids’ toys has felt like loving them. Highly recommend.

I’m done with Craig’s gift, too…because my gift to him is going to be this: for the month of December, we are going to make out three times per week.

This might not seem like a big deal to some of you – but it’s CRAZY talk to me. I decided, though, that some physical lovin’ is what we really need more than anything else. I’m quite interested to see what this Love Project does for our relationship. Don’t tell him though- it’s a surprise. He’ll never read this- he usually quits after the first two paragraphs and then tells me how amazing the whole essay is. I know this because he ONLY uses examples from the first two paragraphs.

The reason I’m prepared to make this sexy commitment that I have some energy back. For the past three weeks I’ve been on a “cleanse.” Basically, it’s meant that I have eaten no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no wheat, no gluten, nothing artificial, and no caffeine for three weeks. All I’ve eaten is fresh vegetable juices and smoothies and salads and beans and nuts. And quinoa. Pounds of quinoa. So much so that Sister has started referring to me as “Quinoa Tifa.”

Tragically, the cleanse has seemed to work. I’ve got more energy than I’ve had since I was diagnosed with Lyme. And so, as of today, I’m accidentally a vegan. I have to be, but I think when people ask me why I’m a vegan, I’ll say, “because I love animals.” Just seems more noble than: I had no other choice.

Another Melton happening is that we’re considering taking permanent action to make sure there are no future Melton babies. We have discussed, at length, the logical reasons for this. Like: we have our HANDS FULL already – my health is not great now – by the time I’d be healthy enough to even consider getting pregnant again I’ll likely be 37 – an accidental pregnancy would be tough while battling Lyme . . . and on and on. On paper, it’s a no brainer. But I’m having such a hard time with it. Why do I have such a hard time with this? Am I addicted to babies? I don’t even like pregnancy. I hate it, actually. So is it normal to be so illogically ambivalent . . . when all the signs point to – YOU ARE DONE, LADY. BE GRATEFUL AND ENJOY. DON’T PUSH IT. I don’t know. I just get confused and sad.


Anyway.


I read this quote this other day that said; “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In light of recent news stories, this idea seemed timely, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what my main thing is. My main thing has been harder than I thought it would be to identify. It seemed like my main thing should be something that couldn’t be taken from me, that wasn’t related to any particular phase of my life . . . something that could remain my main thing forever, no matter what happened.

I eventually decided that my main thing is loving God, myself, and others. Maintaining balance between those three vocations. Each day and through the years.

I want to spend enough quiet time to hear from God about how to serve myself and others. Then I want to ask for the energy and wisdom to carry out what He requests of me in the quiet. And I want to be open and present enough to receive love from my husband and children and family and friends and strangers and neighbors. And I want to always, always, care for myself first. I want to feed myself good food and breathe in fresh air and stretch and rest and explore my passions and dreams so I can maintain gratitude for the opportunity of living this beautiful life.


I shall try to keep this main thing my main thing.


You won’t hear from me on the blog until after the New Year, but I’ll still be working hard for you behind the scenes. We’re re-launching the blog on Word Press in January, because Blogger refuses to let many of you comment, (including Adrianne) and this is unacceptable. Each Monkee needs to be heard. I know some of you are freaking out right now because MONKEES DON’T LIKE CHANGE. I promise to work with a web designer to make sure that the site looks almost EXACTLY the same as it does now. Okey doke? No fancy stuff. If you have any ideas for bettering the site, let me know in the comments, please. I need you. This is OUR blog, not mine.


Also, Sister and I are working on a big idea. We are considering self-publishing a Momastery book next year. I’m scared . . . which makes me think it might be the right idea. Scared/sacred. Close. What do you think?


2012 is going to be our Most Magical Monkee Year ever. I have so many ideas for us, and I hope you are planning and plotting, too.


It’s going to be a long month and a half without you. But we must take time to rest and reflect and gather energy. And every once in a while, we must look away from the screen long enough to look inside and outside.


I LOVE YOU. Thank you for being a miracle. If you can take the time to share your thoughts about the million questions I’ve asked in this post, I’d love it. I really want – need – to hear from you. This is your special place, and I am so honored to be your host. And so grateful that I don’t have to feed you.

Love Wins,

G




Nov 212011
 





Craig: Wait…what are you doing?

Me: Nothing. Nothing at all. Go away.

Craig: You’re writing a post! You’re writing a post, aren’t you?

Me: No. I’m writing a grocery list.

Craig: Okay. If you’re gonna lie, you should say something believable.

Me: Fine. I’m writing a post.

Craig: What? You told everyone you quit for the holidays. You are the worst quitter ever.

Me: Hm. Well. Maybe I’m the BEST quitter ever. Ever think of that? Maybe I’m such an incredible quitter that I even QUIT quitting. Done. Just like that. I EVEN Quit Quitting. Who does that? I’ll tell you who. Me and only me. Yeah. Blows your mind, doesn’t it? That’s what I’m talkin’ bout. Don’t call it a comeback, buddy, I been here for years.

Craig: (gone. watching football)


Anyway.

I’m back because I had an important conversation with my friend, Ashley, that I had to share with you.

Ashley and I were talking about Christmas, and all the presents, and the hustle bustle business and consumerism and excess of it all . . . and the parts we love about that and the parts that leave us feeling exhausted and guilty and a little silly, even. Like maybe we’re missing out on something important. It’s almost like somebody’s purposefully trying to distract us from something happening that is of great, huge significance – and we’re allowing ourselves to be dazzled away. And we’re left….wanting. It’s like with all the stuff to decorate and do and buy and wrap and hide and deliver, there’s no room left at the Inn.

Then Ashley told me her plan to prepare her family’s hearts for Christmas this year. How she’s planned to make room in her life and her home for Christmas. For real Christmas. For the celebration of God, who is LOVE, coming to Earth to be with us.

Cause it’s a big deal, when you think about Christmas in terms of THAT, instead of just in terms of Kohls Cash and Black Friday deals and turkeys and where the hell is the scotch tape???? I mean, if you’re a Christian, you believe that GOD came to EARTH. And if you’re not a Christian, I can totally understand how you’d think we’re a little wacky because WOW. I mean, that’s WILD. GOD, as a BABY. On EARTH. IN A BARN. But I am. I am a Christian and totally obsessed with Jesus, and so Christmas is a big deal for me. A really big deal. I mean when I stop shopping long enough to think about it.

Anyway I found Ashley’s Love idea so do-able and so beautiful that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We prepare our homes for guests, usually. And Ashley found a way to prepare her home for God’s arrival.

Monkees, Meet Ashley.


A Mini Mission to Spread a Little Joy…



Every Christmas, my boys and I donate cans, coats, take an “angel” or two from the tree at church, but it somehow hasn’t been enough for my blessed boys to truly make the compassion connection. What I needed was a way to drive home the message in a variety of ways in the hope that something will stick. I’ve heard that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit…so Advent should at least be a start, right?

When my oldest was a baby, my Mother-in-Law gave us a beautiful wooden Advent cabinet with 25 tiny doors. This year, along with the gifties that Granny sends, there will be a note with an act of kindness to be carried out that day. Some will be strategically placed…like on the 10th when we’ll be joining my husband’s Rotary group to lay wreaths on gravesites at Arlington Cemetery. Or, on the 20th when we’ll be volunteering as a family to organize donations at the Salvation Army warehouse. But, others will be less grand…like picking up litter anytime you see it throughout the day. Or, feeding the birds

And there you have it— a simple plan for 25 days of serving, giving, and helping others. A fun way to experience the true MAGIC and JOY Christmas first-hand. My hope is that they get it…and maybe even want to continue beyond Advent season.


Love, Ashley


***************


You know, we all want the same things for our kids during the holiday season. We want them to experience great joy. So we ask them what they want and they think of stuff that maybe they want, or maybe the TV just told them to want. And we buy them as much of what they maybe want as we possibly can. We put ourselves in debt, even. Because we want them to be full of joy.

But we know what bring US the most joy. It’s not stuff. It’s connection. It’s love. It’s finding out how powerful we are by discovering what a difference our little selves can make in the life of another little self. It’s in emptying ourselves out that we feel full. It’s the only way to feel full, I think. Offering yourself. Your insides. Showing up and pouring out.

Pour it all out –and feel full. So weird.

And so we know what we know. And even though we know what we know, we still try to fill ourselves and our kids up with stuff. I do, anyway. But this season, I think I’ll take my own advice and Step back, Slow down, and Focus up. Because maybe more stuff isn’t what will bring my Littles the most joy. Maybe Ashley’s right.

Maybe what brings me joy would also bring them joy. Maybe my kids don’t need more plastic crap. I mean, I’ll buy some anyway. But maybe they really need to discover the magic and power that’s inside them. The magic and power that is just kindness. The magic kindness inside each of them that could change the world. Maybe I just need to show them how to pour themselves out.

Sounds like a good way to prepare for God to come.

I think our kids will decide what Christmas is about by watching what we decide it’s about.

If we spend December at the mall, they will learn that Christmas is about stuff. If we spend it gathering gratitude and scattering joy….well, then.


We should also spend it resting. Lots and lots of rest.

Resting, Gathering, Resting, Scattering. Like that.


I am so thankful for you.


Love, G