October 2013

Happy Halloween! And welcome, Great Pumpkin!

I thought about giving this post a cooler title, but with the original intentions of it really being more like a newsletter from the East Tennessee Clyde Crew, I figured a simple date would suffice.

Matt & the minions

In a nutshell: Matt and the minions are doing gloriously! I am HUGE!

After only a week of being out of work, Matt landed a new job with Rengo Design and to say that he is in his element doesn’t even do it justice. He loves the challenges that come his way, working in the corporate world. A night doesn’t go by where he isn’t rattling off with full enthusiasm about what he accomplished that day at work, or what is in the works for the following weeks. I love seeing him so happy with what he does. And apparently he’s good at what he does. That makes me even happier. He’s able to apply so much of what he’s learning in his Masters program and there is such a massive satisfaction in that. And speaking of school, Matt has consistently been pulling A’s (and maybe once a B) in his classes – even when life was hectic and a bit overwhelming. This man truly impresses me with the amount of responsibility he carries.

MattMatt has joined the Cumberland Worship Center’s Men’s Bible Study and is thoroughly enjoying it – gaining new insight and utilizing it daily. We really enjoy the worship and messages this church consistently puts out there. The spirit is definitely moving at CWC and we’re so excited to see what God has in store for this church. We’re also so blessed that we may possibly be a part of that!!

The minions are beyond thrilled to be back at their old school with their friends for yet another year as opposed to readjusting to city life in Murfreesboro. So far all looks great on the academic front, of course report cards aren’t due out until next Friday, but I haven’t been informed of any issues so “no news is good news”. Their homework appears to be hitting high marks and that’s enough for me rest easy at night.

EthanEthan (minion #2) turned 8 this month!! I can’t believe how time has flown! He was enrolled in guitar classes for a month before he decided to take matters into his own hands. *sigh* What can I say? He’s like his mom. Slowly but surely, he’s learning chords so he will be able sing and play the songs he wants to. Matt and I tried to assure him that if he really wanted to play a mean guitar he was going to have give in to lessons eventually. (I don’t play a mean guitar. Case in point.) He’s now hoping to direct his focus on basketball. Matt and I will sign him up in about two weeks for that – we love basketball, so that should be fun to watch every week anyway. Besides, the kid (an 8 year old) is the height of a 10 year old. Tall and skinny. If he can handle the ball well, this may be a niche for him.

AidanAidan (minion #1) is holding out for saxophone lessons…still. He’s been obsessed with this idea for about two years now. Hopefully, someday, we will be able to not only find a teacher but afford the actual instrument. In the meantime, Aidan continues to search for the perfect extra-curricular activity that will not only keep his attention (aside from sax lessons), but also cater to his quirkiness. He is, however, gearing up for his second round of being “big brother” as he impatiently awaits minion #3’s arrival. I’ve never seen him so excited – nothing against Ethan’s arrival, for Aidan was only 2 then. Actually, Ethan is excited, too. He’s moving on up from “baby” to “big brother” – though I admit a tad bit of concern over middle child syndrome he may encounter.

Minion #3Minion #3, tentatively named Liam, is clearly doing wonderful, because I am physically miserable. (haha!) In all seriousness though, we all can’t wait to meet this little guy – possibly in 10 weeks. We’re hoping to see his cute little face before the turn of 2014. Not only will it be great for tax season – ha! – but Matt will be doing his last week of residency in Missouri at Evangel University for his Master’s program from the New Year until days before I’m due. Like the other two boys, Liam will be delivered by cesarean to avoid risk of uterine rupture, so his birth date will be planned in advance to prevent going into labor. I don’t care how I have him as long as he’s healthy. He’s going to be a hoot, that’s for certain!

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThough it may not seem like exciting news to you, for me and the minions, this takes cake: Back in January, on our return drive from Joplin, MO when they met Matt’s family, we all agreed to start reading the Harry Potter series. *gasp* Yes, I know. Some of you are either offended that we haven’t read them before or your offended that we’re reading them at all. We had never even watched the movies so we were seriously flying in the dark on these books. All I knew was that I had heard so many awesome things about this series and because it was so popular, I was determined not to give it platform – probably because I’m a natural born snob. (At least I am aware of this. Right?) Anyway, we agreed to start these books when we returned to Tennessee and from the get go, we were HOOKED! After every book we finished, we set up a “Harry Potter Movie Night” that Matt swiftly became involved in. There were times even that he would harrass me to “hurry up and finish that book so we can watch the movie!” Due to custody rights with their dad, I get the boys every other week so this series has stretched out from January until this week! Alas, we will finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in no more than two nights, making Wednesday night (October 23rd) our last “Harry Potter Movie Night”!!! Perfect for Halloween! And I must say, these books have been far more enjoyable than almost any other book or series I have ever read. The hype was legit! My only regret (as well as Matt’s) is that we didn’t read them earlier enough to take part in the big screen debuts of the movies. Still, it’s been a fun journey this year and I’m slightly disappointed to see this series end… and no, I have NO IDEA how it’s going to end. As far as the books being “evil”? I’m not going to waste my breath on explaining one Christian’s different journey and conviction from another’s. I’m saving that chat for my official website “Grace and Glass Houses” that I plan to launch in 2014. But I will say that the books were awesome and just downright fun and I found nothing but positive results in sharing these treasures with my minions. Someday, I hope they take the time to read these books to their kids. Our next literature conquest – starting in November – will be “Lord of the Flies” then after that I’ll let my mom and Matt duke it out over what our next book should be. Mom says “Treasure Island”. Matt says “Huckleberry Finn” or “Tom Sawyer”.

NickabobWith Halloween upon us our annual Nickabob wars are in full swing! Back story: Three years ago my sister and her husband moved into a new home where the previous owners left a lot of their junk in the garage. Among this junk, my mother saw an eerie sight – a scarecrow. No, not one of those happy and friendly Hobby Lobby scarecrows. I’m talking about something homemade and…well, quite frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it walks around at midnight eating children. Just kidding – haha! Anyway, as a family tradition – when we made friendly scarecrows in the past – we always named them Icabod. So “Icabod” it was! Icabod was strategically placed around the house that first Halloween at my parents and by the end of the season Ethan begged for us to put him in the garage, calling him Nickabob (his best attempt at “Icabod”). He watched with the strongest distrust you could imagine at several paces away, my dad retiring Nickabob that year – placing him in the garage with the other seasonal decor. Nickabob returned the following year and this time the minions strategically placed him to scare me as well. It became a game for sure and this year Matt is part of the game. Our family may seem sick and twisted, but we definitely have fun with this game and it has bonded us for sure. Besides, while I’m preggers, haunted houses and corn mazes are O-U-T. (Next year will totally be a different story.) I’ve been regularly posting updates on Nickabob through Instagram and Facebook, so feel free to follow me. And yes,he has his own hashtag. #Nickabob

Maybe someday he will have his own Facebook fan page where people across the grid can post pics of their own “Nickabobs” in action. 😛

As I have mentioned, I have been moved to begin a website called Grace and Glass Houses, inspired by a combination of things I have learned while obtaining my counseling degree, basic human observations, and judgments that we as Christians cast onto to one another as well as non-Christians. Even judgments cast upon God’s children. (It’s all wrong.) Originally, I was going to debut it in September, but I have chosen to give myself some healing time before I start. Although life for us is finally settling after our move to Crossville from Murfreesboro and it was clearly in God’s plan, the move itself was far from our plans and involuntary to say the least. He really does all thing for our good though and it has taken this transition to really brand that into me. Our lives today are better for this move – happier, healthier – and for that I am ever so thankful, but please don’t assume that how it all transpired didn’t hurt emotionally or even financially. In fact, if I can be transparent for a small bit here, I am still very hurt with it all and even angry at times. Yeah, yeah… I know; we’re supposed to “forgive and move on”. This is often easier said than done, especially for a Melancholy – we have a tendency to keep score. However, I have been diligent in my prayers not to just forgive but to let go. I’m asking my friends out there to keep me in your prayers over this matter as well. It’s the very root of what has prevented me from being capable to launch Grace and Glass Houses without the fear of being hurtful in any of my posts – that’s not my intention at all. This website is supposed to promote and inspire healthy relationships among the church, outside of the church, and within our families and right now, I find myself focusing more on the very unhealthy behaviors I see within churches as opposed to the good. This hurt/anger has also kept me from wanting to fully plug into our new church – out of plain and simple fear of being hurt again. So until this matter is dealt with in a healthy manner – between myself and God – I have not only put off the launch of Grace and Glass Houses, but I have actively made the decision not to take part on a worship team yet – which is clearly what God continues to push me into. It just doesn’t resonate with my spirit to drive forward when I have a few things I need to work on. It’s much like the song by For King and Country when they say, “If I sing but don’t have love I waste my breath with every song. I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise. If I speak with a silver tongue, convince a crowd but don’t have love I leave a bitter taste with every word I say.” When I am finally able to look beyond this hurt, leaving it with Christ, and look with eyes of pure love, then I know God will place the opportunity again before me and I truly look forward to that time. But I want to do it right.

“If I sing but don’t have love I waste my breath with every song. I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise. If I speak with a silver tongue, convince a crowd but don’t have love I leave a bitter taste with every word I say.”

Until then, while healing, I’m focusing my efforts (not just on healing) but on writing – books and music. I’m also in full preparation mode for Liam. My mom and sisters are throwing a co-ed baby shower for me and Matt on November 9th and I am so grateful. I haven’t one single baby thing left from Ethan – 8 years ago – so we are seriously starting from scratch. I never thought I’d be doing this again at 36. It’s definitely not as easy as it was in my twenties, but it’s still been fun. An adventure. Liam is an active little twerp that enjoys long walks on the beach, moonlit nights, margaritas, and dancing on my bladder. I’m a frequent visitor of the bathroom because of this…the precious angel.  Also, the numbers are in, for the first time in my LIFE I weigh about 190 lbs!! What the Heck!? I’m not devastated yet, but I probably will be after Liam is born. Matt has already promised to put me through “zombie apocalypse training” this winter…he’s holding out for a smokin’ hot wife, clearly. Other than that, I’m still redheaded, still drinking my favorite coffees, and plan to finish this short hiatus from school soon and jump back into my Master’s program in Christian Counseling. Matt is clearly going to beat me to the finish line this time.

IMG_2145 (2)To wrap up this update: Married life is hilarious. Not that we’re being flippant about our “adventure” together, but Matt keeps me laughing. Never in my life have I laughed on such a consistent basis and sometimes starting first thing in the morning – which is HUGE for this chick who hates mornings. Sure, much of his humor is either inappropriate or an inside joke, but nevertheless he will leave my stomach hurting from laughing so hard. We have fun together and are still discovering how much more we have in common – as well as things we don’t have in common. Daily, I am reminded how thankful I am that we have found each other. We’re hoping that maybe – a big maybe – sometime next year after Liam is born we can start working on music together again. He’s got the itch to drum as I have the itch to play keys and sing again and who better to do that with than your soulmate!

Not to Shop PledgeI hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather and ready for Halloween! The holidays are just around the corner and the Clyde Crew is excited to be spending our first holidays together as a family while we await for the arrival of baby Liam!! Start your layaways if you haven’t already done so and I’m asking that everyone, no matter how tempting the sales may be, to take the pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving Day. I know it may be asking a lot, but while others are asking you to save the pit bulls or to protest Obamacare, I’m asking you to not shop on a holiday. Because if you’re shopping, someone else is working and not spending time with their family. Just give it a consideration…Black Friday is still Open Season in my book though!

I’ll post again next month – turkeys, family, and “Catching Fire”! Until then, be blessed and be thankful! And don’t forget to pay homage to the Great Pumpkin!

It's the Great Pumpkin!

The World Didn’t Come to an End

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A “do over” wouldn’t be a do over without change. For those of you who have followed me on my journey of My Mid-Life Do Over, you’ve seen everything from broken-heartedness, revelation, frustration, excitement, as well as a marriage (and pregnancy!) come about in my public do over. There can be happy as well as sad times. It can be challenging and sometimes downright terrifying. The trick through all of it is finding peace whether that be from God, family, or even a new hobby – though I encourage seeking peace through God.

My changes and transitions have been anything but smooth. I’m a clumsy person by nature so therefor I don’t handle change gracefully. It usually consists of me kicking and screaming, or has been known to keep me in bed with the lights down low, shedding a river of tears for quite a length of time. I’m a Melancholy. Change, whether it is voluntary or involuntary, bad or good, is never accepted well on my end. That is one of my many weaknesses and I am okay with that. At least I am aware of my responses and behaviors. This allows me an opportunity to turn my weaknesses into strengths which in the case of my temperament, means I have to find that particular strength in Christ.

Picture-5For most of my life I have referred to myself as the proverbial “Charlie Brown”. I say this not to feel sorry for myself or to gain sympathy from others. It’s merely to point out to readers that when I’m regularly not met with poor luck, I am usually met instead with some crazy obstacle. That’s okay. In the past few years I’ve come to the understanding that this is either a season of strengthening and learning or God’s way of saying, “Yo, chick! Listen up! You’re going the wrong way!” And of course, I naturally respond to Him with self-pity followed by reluctant acceptance or – if I want to be real honest with you (and I think that’s best in most cases) – blatant rebellion accompanied with the middle finger. What can I say? I’m human. I’m stubborn. I will speak as though the world is out to get me or the sky is falling only to to find in the end that I have grown, become better, and that He still does all things for my good – even if I gave Him that finger gesture. That’s life. It continually moves on with or without our consent and it’s how we respond that ignites growth and maturity (human AND spiritual). This is when I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes of all time which can be found being delivered near the end of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” by Linus Van Pelt.
Thank God, I married my Linus Van Pelt.

“I suppose you feel you let everyone down, and you made a fool of yourself and everything. But did you notice something, Charlie Brown? The world didn’t come to an end.”

Charlie Brown kite 2

Married life with Matt has been wonderful – from what we’ve experienced so far. We had a fun wedding. A short reception. A honeymoon. And then reality hit us square in the nose. After we allowed our eyes to water a bit and realized that our “nose” was not broken we were reminded that long before the exchanging of vows and even the popping of the question we spoke of how, if we were to marry someday, that we’d dedicate our lives and our family to do God’s work. I meant it at the time. I mean it now. However, I know that unless God reminds me in a way that only I will take heed to, I won’t follow through. Call it a lack of motivation or a diversion of life. It happens.

Last Christmas, without a promise of marriage, I knew that I wanted to be closer to Matt. The decision was made and I began to follow through. I was moving to Murfreesboro. Since January, I have been beyond diligent in sending out resumes and spending hours upon hours filling out applications online for a job in the Murfreesboro/Nashville area. I knew competition for job openings would be stiff and that it possibly wouldn’t be until May when I’d finally get a breakthrough. PERFECT! The boys would be out of school and by then I would have graduated with my degree in Counseling! God was going to provide that perfect job for me on His timing (aka, MY timing).  I had a few phone and person to person interviews but nothing fully materialized before May. But I knew I was on the right path because on March 31st, the man I loved and wanted to share my life with asked me to be his wife. That had to be a sign, right? May came, I graduated, the boys got out of school with nothing but honor roll year ’round. Things really started looking up… and then I was t-boned with the revelation that I was pregnant. Rolling with the punches, we made our apologies and moved on to utter excitement. I could actually get pregnant still! Not exactly the order in which God calls for, but nonetheless, He was blessing our soon-to-be union with a baby! Our plans continued forward. We were going to even buy a house. I mean, why pay near $900 a month for an apartment that our family could fit into when we could pay $700 a month to own a home of our own of the same size plus a yard?

Anxiety Charlie BrownBy the end of June, our plans began to fall through the cracks no matter how hard we tried to salvage them. I was ordered on bed rest due to a “vanishing twin” and other issues. (By the way, bed rest sucks.) I no longer had the option to work and be a financial team player with Matt. Well, I did have the option but at the risk of losing my surviving baby which is not an option in my book. We were able to re-prioritize our budget and move forward on the house that we had chosen. Granted, things were going to be tight on one income, but it was doable. Sacrifices: no more Starbucks, no more Bare Minerals, excessive driving was to be cut back, no more movies, no more going out to eat (I was going to learn how to cook).

July. The month of our wedding. The last month before God re-established himself as a clear focus in our lives. The financial stress of my lack of employment fell upon my parents unfortunately. I hated that. The inexpensive wedding that Matt and I were paying for became my parents burden instead (though they’ll swear it wasn’t a burden). This was my second wedding and call me “old school”, but I didn’t feel like this one was their responsibility. They paid for the first one. But they provided the most fun and amazing wedding anyway and for that I am beyond thankful! And let’s be honest, they did this not just because they love me, but mainly because they love Matt – probably more. *wink* I was served court papers that prevented me from moving my boys to Murfreesboro. This in no way is bashing their father. He’s actually an awesome dad. Since the divorce we have shared custody because he lives close by. I get the boys one week, he gets them the other. The boys love it like this. In my move to Murfreesboro, their father would no longer get them every other week and I wasn’t willing to relinquish every weekend to him due to our religious differences. So, he did what any  loving parent would do – he fought for his children. I hold absolutely NO grudges against him for this. But this was just another obstacle that I would have to hurdle, an obstacle I could very well lose.

Charlie Brown. I told you.

We had a wonderful wedding. I officially became Melissa Ellis-Clyde on July 20th on a hot, sweaty Saturday evening in the dead of summer. Maybe I was so sweaty because I was pregnant? Go figure.

Football FumbleDuring our honeymoon we were faced with an obstacle of not closing in time. Matt was due out of his apartment at the end of the month. That gave us three days after we returned from the honeymoon to move him out, into a storage unit, and clean. Stressful doesn’t even cover it. We agreed that I would remain in Crossville while Matt continued working in Murfreesboro. Matt would commute to see me when he could until we would finally be able to close on the house. So, our married life wasn’t different at all from our dating relationship. Not exactly a picture-perfect start to a marriage, but we agreed to refer to our marriage as an “adventure”, allowing obstacles and risks without any prior expectations.

If you look back, starting at my “Last Christmas” paragraph, you’ll see where we never once seeked God for His will in our lives. We made a plan and ran with it – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but sometimes He requires us to look beyond ourselves and our own selfish goals and to look to Him and what He has in store for us. In the long run, He always proves that His way is better anyway. On August 1st, God made himself very clear after months of giving us clues. Without any details to be given (because quite honestly, it’s really nobody’s business but our own), we were shown that Matt’s time in Murfreesboro was done and mine was never to come. This decision didn’t come lightly and quite frankly, we’re kicking and screaming. But we’re submitting.

It was devastating at first, but as we spent more time reflecting on not only all the signs/obstacles we kept facing but also how we felt led at times, how our heart strings were tugged in certain directions in the last year, we found peace. I never have peace, so that’s proof enough that this is God. All the obstacles we faced in the past few months, those were all God’s whispers. It took a scream in the face for us to listen. So in the last two weeks we have abandoned all plans of our own and are listening for His voice in our next destination. In this we ask that our friends, family, and readers to pray for us and with us that breakthrough in this somewhat scary transition is just on the horizon. It hasn’t not been easy on me, Matt, or the boys.

pitcher Charlie BrownFor the time being, our home is in Crossville. The one town I have tried moving mountains to get out of, on and off, since the age of 12. (Why do I keep ending up back here?) Maybe we were meant to be here all along? Maybe God will bring us right back to Murfreesboro and is just giving us a season to seek Him for a deeper intimacy? Matt is looking for employment, not just in Crossville, but between the Knoxville-Nashville stretch of interstate to keep a wide variety of options open. The boys are, however, thrilled that they have been able to return to their previous school with their friends that they have established in the last three years. That makes any mom’s heart swell.

And we are in search of our new church “home” where we can step into the ministries we were called to. Matt and I were never meant to be “bench-warmers”. None of us are. It’s exciting to know that God is working through us, bringing us to place of destiny. Our hope is to continue healthy and loving relations with our prior “home church”. With that being said, we ask that others refrain from accusations, assumptions, and gossip during this transition. We are leaving our church family with love, grace, and yet a broken heart.

The peace that has now infiltrated this transition has led us already to some amazing rebirths and simplicities. Matt and I are getting a crash course on marriage obstacles and so far, we’re just thankful to be going through this with each other, God in the center. Where I thought I would have to pull out of my plans for a Master’s Degree recently, I have been given a greater revelation that I am to move forward in my education of Christian Counseling. It may take slower than I desire, but it will be accomplished. I have felt for a long time that I was called into this ministry, focusing on relationships whether it be family, marriage, or even within a church. This education will solidify and intensify the wisdom I hope to provide for others. Bringing me to this…

In September, I plan to unveil my new blog, “Grace and Glass Houses”. It’s my hope to utilize this blogsite to inspire, motivate, and educate the Christian community (and beyond) in our relationships with one another. I hope to have many guest-bloggers and plan to do a lot of hard work in each blog – i.e. research, study, and heartfelt prayer. That blog will be less personal than this one, but still with insight to my own personal revelations – my own glass house. The whole point of the blog is to embrace and love others. To throw grace instead of stones.

In closing, I’d like to  reaffirm that though I worked hard, putting things in play and struggling to keep them together, and feeling as though I let everyone down when the bottom dropped out, and made a fool of myself and everything – did you notice something? The world didn’t come to an end.

On the contrary. All is right with the world.

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