Love & Marriage...And the CHURCH?!

The topic of marriage has been all over the radar for the McCall's lately...a several-week series at church, deep discussions at home, talks with the kids, and capped off with a covenant renewal service at church later this morning. But also with the topic of marriage has come the topic of whether or not Christians "have to" attend church - or better yet whether or not Christians "have to" attend church to be Christians or to be saved or to "guarantee" their salvation. The answer is "no" - they (we) don't "have to." We should "want to" - and here's why:

A change takes place in a person's life when they accept Christ as their "personal" savior. It means they are no longer lord of their own life but allow Him to be Lord. Their attitude, actions, thoughts, and heart all shift toward the likeness of Christ. We aim to serve like Christ, act like Christ, live like Christ, and dare I say think like Christ...unless!...well, unless that means going to church, right? Truth: Christ is for the church. That's an understatement.  Not just FOR the church - Christ loved the church (us) SO deeply that He gave His life for her and commanded that we model that love in our own marriages. 

Read this:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:25-33).

Now, picture this:
If we were to model our own marriage (husband and wife) around the way we view the church, we would be leaving each other left and right because we offended one another or didn't get our way or didn't like the leadership of one another or weren't comfortable with our roles. We would essentially be "marriage-hoppers" much like the way we have become "church-hoppers".

Now, go further:
What if Christ treated us the same way we treat the church? What if His commitment level to us went only as far as our commitment to the church? Ouch. I know for me personally through the years, this puts me to shame because there have been MANY times that I have wanted to abandon ship - and have.

The good news is:
Like it or not, we ARE the church. And our marriages with each other go hand in hand with our marriage to the church. Christ is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride ("Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has madder herself ready." Revelation 19:7). The good news is that Christ IS devoted to us. He IS committed to us. He DOES love us. He DOES cherish us...no matter what!

The point?
As Christians (followers of Christ) we should want to love Him in this same way, with this same level of commitment. Not because we have to. Not because our Sunday School teacher from when we were in 1st grade put the ever-loving fear in us if we didn't. Not because our parents made us. But because we cherish His word and we live to love and serve Him. You can't have a fulfilling marriage with your spouse without commitment. Otherwise, it's not a marriage - it's a prostitution. It's the same with the church. What message are we (the bride) sending Christ (the bridegroom) when we say "I'm only going to commit "this" much or only "these" days. How hurtful would that be to hear from your own spouse? 

In closing...
It's not 100% our fault that we don't "get" the whole church thing. I know that when I was baptized at a young age no one explained to me the magnitude of the covenant I was making. I was giving my life to Christ - not just for a season or for a brief period in my life. I was entering into a covenant with my savior to love him and serve him the rest of my life. I haven't fully understood that until the last few years, months, weeks, and even days. I'm thankful to a church that is sending out the truth and helping to mend broken relationships between man and wife, man and church, and man and Christ. 

This post was written to you who are believers - who have at some point in your life stood in front of others, was baptized, confessed that He is Lord of your life and promised to commit your life and all in it to Him. I write this to encourage you to find your way back to church. It is full of sinful and crazy people, people who fail daily, who say things they shouldn't, who act like children at times...but people who love the Lord, who forgive easily, who seek to follow Christ, and who are willing to call you family. Churches are full of people (I know, shocker, right?)...but Christ loves the church and calls them together for His purpose. 


To Maddie on Your 4th Birthday...

My sweet Maddie, 

You are four year's old now! Wow! Time has gone by so quickly! Before I start forgetting all the wonderful little details of this precious age I wanted to share them with you in a letter. I hope to do this every year in hopes that you will know what a joy you are in my life! 

There are a few characteristics that most everyone knows about you. For example, your hair is forever in a disarray-no matter how often we brush, braid, or fix it the next time we see you it will be full of tangles, sand, wood chips or food. I love this about you. You are never afraid to have fun and let that hair fall in your face! you don't really wear bows or rubber bands. You're a headband girl and have a ton! 

 You also have a huge affection for kitties! Any size, shape or form-including a little pink dog that you think is a kitty. We don't have a real kitty but you have enough stuffed ones to make up for it. Every chance you get you are "playing kitty" with family and friends. You also love when we sing "Soft Kitty" which is actually from a funny show mommy and daddy watch called The Big Bang Theory. The song goes: "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, pur, pur, pur". You love it! 

 Your bedtime routine hasn't changed much over the years. You rarely sleep under the covers, you don't like anything in the bed with you, you talk in your sleep, and move around in so many positions throughout the night. You don't have a favorite stuffed animal or kitty but you love three blankets: Lovey, Bumpy, and Stripe. If they are lucky you choose to let them stay with you at night. Oh, and you will only sleep in long sleeves and long pants regardless of the season or weather-probably because you're not under the covers. Anything else is unacceptable. 

 Your best time of the day is first thing in the morning. You wake up bright-eyed and crazy-haired, ready for hugs and kisses. Hearing "good morning, mommy" is my favorite part of the day. You still take naps and go to bed around 7:30. You must have your beauty sleep. 

 You will probably be a singer like your daddy because you are always singing and making up songs and most Disney movies make you very happy...especially The Little Mermaid and Tangled. You have a necklace that plays the Ariel song and you say that it makes you happy to hear it. You pressed that necklace button during your entire 4th birthday party! 

 You love to eat ANYTHING...especially broccoli (yes, broccoli). You would eat all day if I let you. You are a very emotional young lady-happy, sad, mad-you never hold back a tear, smile, or silly face. You love your brother very much and you always try to hug and kiss him any chance you get. You also love your daddy very much. He is the one you go to when you don't feel well and he's the one you like to do silly things with before bed. Your latest thing is balling up your little fist and shoving it in his neck. You think it chokes him and tickles him and you think it's hilarious! When you play before bed you get a crazy look in your eyes and we laugh because we really can't guess your next move. Your laugh is so cute and funny because it's almost a low creepy growl, unless you're being tickled-then its a high pitch squeal! Either way, I love those sounds! 

 And of course, you are a mommy's girl to the core! You have always preferred mommy over most (which is fine by me) and I hope that you will always want to hug, kiss, and snuggle as much as you do now. You are such a blessing and I pray over you and for you throughout every day. You're beginning to understand more about Jesus, although I'm pretty sure you think there's a physical miniature Jesus living in your heart. My true joy will come in seeing you one day accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior. I hope to show you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as we grow together. 

 I love you with all my heart! Or, as you so often say: I love you fifty twenty two eight nineteen zero! (wow, that's a lot!) 



Glamping? I don't think so...

So, we leave today for our "couples camping trip" - twelve of us to be exact. Jared and Dorothy are picking us up shortly and have told us that they are carrying ONE bag between the two of them. So, I told Matt last night that we need to try and fit all of our things in one bag, too. Can you imagine how our three hours of packing went?! Between the two of us, I'm pretty sure we went over every "outfit" possibility - tried on every article of clothing - cried a bit when we didn't match - mourned over lost articles of clothing (Matt thinks he is under a curse where his favorite clothes disappear) - unpacked - repacked - unpacked again - reconfigured outfits - and eventually shoved everything into ONE very large bag. We may have no underwear when we get there but, by golly, we are packed!

Our first stop is Moonshine Creek in NC where I'm told we will be sleeping in a cabin with a mattress. I've packed a set of flannel sheets and will be sleeping in cuddly penguin and hearts for the next two nights (sorry, Matt). I asked Matt if I should prepare activities for us and the Winter's - cards or fun question games or something - he said no. Sonny Holmes will understand me on this one because we both share the strength of "woo" - which basically means we want a party around us all the time and want to make sure everyone within 20 feet of us is happy and comfortable and having a great time! I'm told we'll be sitting by a camp fire or exploring places nearby. At least there is a restroom at this facility and showers.

On Friday morning we are scheduled to go on a canopy zip line tour at Navitat in Asheville. I have had one other experience with a zip line at Look Up Lodge - it didn't go very well. I never made it off the platform. Twenty minutes after I was hooked up and after leaving everyone around me agitated, I was allowed to climb down. I was told that I am doing this - no matter what. So, I've pretty much dismissed the idea until this morning. God may be sick of hearing from me at this point because I've been praying pretty hard - not really for safety or for the poor souls who have to listen to me whine and pout and cry and try and talk them out of hooking me to the cables...but for courage so that I will enjoy myself and open my eyes while I'm gliding past the amazing scenery. If I can do this, this will be a big break through for me!

Saturday we begin a FIVE MILE hike up Mt. LaConte - I have a "big girl" pack with a "bladder" (that still cracks me up) so I will have everything a good hiking girl needs - water, clothes, rain gear, my little hot pink forehead light, campers toilet paper, bug spray, first aid stuff, and even the pink rice krispie treats I made for the occasion. I didn't listen to Jared who said I should have began prepping my body for this trip weeks ago. He wrote out an exercise plan but I didn't follow it. I better start practicing my fake "I'm ok" face now because I'm sure my pride will be too huge on Sunday to admit I can't move! There's no shower at the top of the mountain - not even a bathroom really - just an out house (or "long drop" as Matt calls it - ew)...

I can't wait to see my babies and have had a hard last few days - especially after Sammy has reminded me of every possible fatality I may encounter! I'm very excited about this trip and am thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my husband and friends (thanks Carlile's and Luttrell's!). Please pray for our journey these next few days. You know I'll have 800 pictures posted within an hour of our return on Sunday! Ha! Wish us well - Happy Glamping!


Desperate Housewives?

Just needs an 11x14 frame
So, my friend Dorothy and I are always planning: grocery lists, meal plans, cleaning schedules, financial goals, birthday party themes...If you can plan it, we're on it!

One of the charts I found at Dorothy's house was her cleaning schedule (I'm sure you've seen versions of them on Pinterest). While some of you are already rolling your eyes at this idea, stop and think about it. If you're like me, you're either CONSTANTLY cleaning or CONSTANTLY overwhelmed with the feeling you've been defeated YET AGAIN by your messy house. So, I decided to follow Dorothy on this one and made myself a chore chart.

I made it to measure an 11x14 frame (that hopefully I can find at Goodwill or something - love a good deal!). I used regular scrapbook materials and made it to match my kitchen where I'll probably hang it. I made Tuesdays and Thursdays my "off" days since I work 9-10 hour days on them.
And, of course, Sunday we rest! Enjoy!


My Addiction...

Addictions are hard. How do I know this? Because I have an addiction (two actually, if you include regular spending at Ross). In all seriousness, I am addicted to food. Some of you are laughing as you read this. Others are nodding your head and saying, “yes, girl, I know what you mean.” For those of you who are on the same page as me you know that the thought of food can consume your mind. Someone mentions the weather: “It’s chilly out” and you’re thinking about a crockpot full of chili with shredded cheese and sour cream and those little Frito scoops and…(see!). Or you go to work and see someone else’s lunch and wonder to yourself if they will really notice if a little bit is missing…addicted.

I started a new diet on February 13th which basically cuts out all carbs, sugars, starches, etc. So basically I eat unlimited protein & veggies and eat a minimal amount of probiotics (yogurt, etc) and low-carb fruit. I know that I have an addiction to food now because I have thought of nothing else!

Yesterday, there were two low points:
The first was when I actually said aloud to myself as I drove home from work, “well, now I can’t have a good day. How am I supposed to be happy now?” (this was after I thought about how I missed my friend “the spaghetti”). Yes, a very low point. I realized that food was my driving force for happiness! What?! And, yet I sing praise songs about how Jesus is all I need. Pathetic, right? Well, this is one area that I’m going to work on. The second low point was when my husband had to chase (yes, chase!) me around the house because I had one of the kids’ Totinos pizza rolls in my mouth and I was threatening to eat it! Thank God my husband is committed to our marriage because surely he should have left me due to this psychotic behavior!

Anyway, I say all of this to tell you all that I believe with all my heart that Satan will use whatever area of life he can (even our love of cream cheese and garlic bread and mexicorn casserole and…(agh! Stop it!)) to take control of us. Anything to get our focus off of our Lord. So, at least I’m not in denial anymore, right?! Today is Day 3 and already I want to reach for the cookies I’ve hidden in the office break room. But, I’m going to “pray myself through it” and suck down a lot of coffee! I’d also like to ask for any of you to help keep me accountable – if you see me with sugary stuff or anything that’s not a vegetable or lean protein just walk right up to me and smack it out of my hand! Yep, you have my permission! Thanks for reading…


Happy 30th Birthday, Old Man!

Every day I grow to love my husband more. From the day we met in high school chorus to almost twelve years later, I am still able to add new items to the list of reasons I love him.

So, since tomorrow is Matt's 30th birthday (which is totally weird because I still see him as my 18-year-old boyfriend with hoop earrings and shaggy blonde hair - yep, you heard me - earringS), I decided to list 30 things about Matt that either surprise me daily, make me laugh, or knock me off me feet (in a good way)...

Why Matt is so awesome...
1. He loves the Lord with ALL his heart, all his mind, and all his strength
2. He makes good decisions - I can trust that his solution is always in my best interest
3. He can do the voice of Elmer Fudd from Bugs Bunny
4. He pulled off the "capri pant" in high school
5. For our first Valentine's Day, he bought me a stuffed animal, made a floral bouquet out of tissue paper, and baked a giant heart-shaped cookie cake (and even spritzed the floral bouquet with his cologne)
6. He is good at everything - snow boarding (check), sports (check), fixing stuff (check), driving (check)
7. He has a heart for his children - he was in tears over their framed pictures a few Christmases ago
8. He is humble
9. He always has well-coifed hair - not one strand out of place :)
10. He is great to watch movies with because he HAS to watch it in its entirety and he doesn't allow talking throughout (he's also very good at explaining the plot to me)
11. He is always ready to accept blame and "take the hit" - while this can easily be taken advantage of - he genuinely wants to reconcile a situation rather than be right
12. He is very good at math and drawing, which is good, because I am not
13. Oddly enough (and this is going to embarrass him but I'll add it anyway), Matt's arm pits NEVER smell - deodorant - no deodorant - sweaty - not sweaty - no smell
14. He is a hard worker - he's not done until it's done right
15. He is creative
16. He puts up with me! God love him!
17. His top love language is "Gifts" so he is a very thoughtful gift-giver (and VERY hard to shop for!)
18. He has owned a LONG line of vehicles (1985 Chevy Cavalier, 1986 Chrysler Reliant, 1988 Toyota Pick-up, B-4000 Mazda, 2003 Ford Explorer, 2006 Toyota Tundra)...I have seen 4 of these in person.
19. He is the most handsome man I know and I am more and more attracted to him every day - even while moving into his thirties :)
20. He makes beautiful children
21. He writes music every day - yet I have never seen a SINGLE lyric sheet (silent creative type)
22. He is a protector - he'll look after you even if you don't want him to or even know that he is!
23. He dances fairly well - I'm glad to see the improvement from what I saw at prom in 2000
24. He will sing the entire "Moulin Rouge" medley with me if I ask him to
25. He cracks me up - sometimes I'll agree he's not very funny - but other times - hilarious!
26. He is a true best friend - someone that loves at all times, is there no matter what and doesn't care what you look like without makeup
27. He dreams big and goes for his goal - on the road to becoming a doctor of worship
28. His smile has been nick-named the "joker" - I love his smile
29. He is so talented and I can say that because I'm his wife - his voice floors me - so thankful he's using it for God's glory
30. Chuck Norris believes Matt is cool, so I do too...

Ok, seriously, Matt, you are awesome and I love you and I hope you have a wonderful 30th birthday!


Ode to Walmart by Crystal

Oh Walmart...how I loathe thee 
Oh Sam, what has your store become? 
You have twenty-seven registers
Yet you only open one! 
Your stores, oh so crowded
The aisles, a three-cart pile up
What is that liquid on the floor?
Please, someone, aisle four needs a clean-up!
The kids, how they whine
The babies, how they scream
Every mom that you pass
Looks very, very mean!
Every time I enter I'm welcomed by a greeter
"Welcome to Walmart," she says
But as I leave she changes demeanor
And I'm seen as a theif instead.
The people - they scare me
And parking - not a chance!
There's germs on my buggy
Is that person even wearing pants?!
But oh how you beat any other store's prices
Your stinking yellow smiley signs
You can't do coupon math like other stores
But your savings, no where else, can I find.
So I will visit you every week
Even though you know I won't like it
But sacrifices I must make
To have more dough end up in my pocket...
by Crystal McCall


Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Sammy's Latest
Sammy and I have an after-school routine. We come home, get a snack, and do homework. While I was opening his book bag, I noticed there were HUGE slashes taken out of the fabric between the front and middle zipper part (see pic to the right). So, I asked him what happened...And do you know what my sweet, innocent, beautiful baby boy did? He came up with a genius lie. He told me that another boy in his class was being mean to him and cut a huge hole in his book bag (he knew this would break my heart and send me into a fury - of course diverting the attention away from him - but I was on to him). So, I looked at him again and asked, "Sammy, are you telling Mommy the truth?" Of course, the SECOND answer was the truth. He cut his book bag. To him, he was simply making an easier route into his book bag so he wouldn't have to use the zippers if he wanted to get to his folder.

So, two topics were discussed that night: laziness and lying. Not many things will result in a spanking for Sammy. But us McCall's take lying very seriously (because God takes it very seriously according to the Bible - see proverbs 12:22 and others). Sammy got a warning over the cuts in the book bag since this was his first time mutilizing (mutilating?) something he owns. And, this time, for some reason, I didn't feel I should spank him over the lie. I felt like we needed to have a deeper discussion over this.

For those who have heard me pray, you know I usually end my prayer with "forgive us of our sins. amen." After I said a goodnight prayer with Sammy, I asked him if he thought he sinned that day. He glanced to the side, made a teeter motion with his hand, and nonshalantly said, "eh, maybe a little." I asked him to be specific and he agreed that lying was a sin. So, I asked him to confess his sin to God. I really expected a half-hearted prayer or a rebuttal or a plea for me to do it for him. But he immediately closed his eyes, got into "prayer position" like the Precious Moments dolls with their prayer hands held tightly to their chin, and quietly BEGGED the Lord to forgive him. It went something like, "PLEASE, forgive me, Jesus. PLEASE, forgive me, Jesus." I asked him if he meant it with all his heart. He said he did. And we both knew that he was forgiven. He smiled and turned over and went to sleep. (talk about a heart breaker - what a kid)

Listen, moms and dads. I know your precious angels can do no wrong. After all, they are born innocent, right? WRONG! The Bible says that we are sinners from childhood. In Genesis 8: 21 God tells Noah that "the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth." I believe this is true because you don't have to teach a child to lie or be hurtful or disobedient. Look at Adam and Eve's example - they certainly didn't have an example of disobedience to follow - they walked with God! But, we have are born into an evil world and possess evil in our hearts from childhood, which is why it's so important to "train up a child" according to the Bible. Boy, is it hard! Boy, does it expose MY sin daily! But, boy is it rewarding when I see my six-year-old begging for Jesus' forgiveness over lying about cutting his book bag and I have probably broken Jesus' heart in far worse ways and far many more times that day. Wow - the lessons learned each day during "Hugs, Kisses, and Prayers."

About Me

My photo
I am a local Charlestonian, born and raised in good 'ol South Carolina. I have only been to other surrounding states within a days drive since I refuse to fly in an airplane - so let's see - that includes NC, GA, FL, and I think I may have crossed the border into VA at some point. I've been to the Bahamas 3 times (since you can get there by cruise ship) but one day I hope to visit Mexico. After my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the second love of my life is my high school sweetheart, Matt. We were married at ages 19 and 21 (I'm the younger one) and in the past 8 years have acquired two amazing kids - Sammy and Maddie. We have a fairly new member of the family, Casey, who is a black lab/shepherd/pit bull mix and is very lazy. We "McCall's" have a family motto: "McCall's never give up" (for some reason this has stuck with us all). We all have a passion for music and treasure our family time. Every moment is a gift...