Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Home In You

My lips don’t always find the right words,
Please listen and know my heart.
Whether dreams are reality,
Or plans fall apart,
All my wishes came true,
When I found you.

Be everything I am and all I know.
Love everything I’m not and help me grow.
Take my trust and run the show.
Wherever you lead, I will go.
Your faith and hope carry me through.
Your strength, I cling to,
As the Lord, you pursue.
I have found my home in you.

No more can I make myself less,
Since you came along and made me whole.
Wild at heart and strong in mind,
You set me above and defend my soul,
Bold but tender, you examine each step,
Your eyes set on the One in control.

Can’t see everything in view.
Roads untraveled and journeys brand new.
Unsure, unknown. But then I see you,
Your faith and hope carry me through.
Your strength, I cling to,
As the Lord, you pursue.
I have found my home in you.

Comfort covers me,
Since I am yours forever.
His Word says,
His uniting love,
Will bind us together.
A cord of three strands,
No man can sever.
And leaving or forsaking,
Our God will never.

Life will bring change,
My promise stays the same.
My commitment, covenant and love,
I always will claim.
Your faith and hope carry me through.
Your strength, I cling to,
As the Lord, you pursue.
I have found my home in you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

65 Lessons Learned From Being a McNatt

I spent way too many hours yesterday trying to figure out how many places I have to change my last name and address - school, church, bank, work, the gym...not to mention my driver's lisense, pasport, social security card, voter registration information, etc. You would think they would just let you fill out one form and be done!

The more I began to think about it, the more I realized how difficult that adjustment will be. I'll have to turn off my auto-pilot to concentrate to write Michelle Myers instead of Michelle McNatt. I think I'll get really good at turning c's into y's.

But I've learned a lot in my 23 years and 4 months as a McNatt. Here are the highlights...

From My Dad…

1. There aren’t many conversations that don’t have an appropriate Andy Griffith line.
2. Dad has first rights to the recliner, the remote, and the thermostat.
3. It’s okay to cheat at Putt-Putt. And bowling. And cards.
4. Making a joyful noise refers to the Lord, not to your Pastor of Worship and Music.
5. An appropriate way to answer the phone is always, “Yankee Stadium, Second Base.”
6. After your 6-year-old child sings "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" imitating an old man at church, it's pretty much impossible to sing this hymn again with a straight face.
7. Coffee is not hot enough right out of the pot. Stick it in the microwave for another 30 seconds.

From My Mom…

8. Your mom knows you better than anyone. If she tells you when you’re six years old that you’re going to be a writer, you probably will be.
9. You know your mother is a master fund-raiser when she can sell enough Kroger bucks to send you both to Europe for 10 days – with $300 spending money each.
10. This also probably means she loves you more than she loves herself.
11. Keeping a positive attitude in all situations really does have an impact.
12. Brush your teeth.
13. 15 miles per hour is for experienced drivers only.
14. Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance. Just two drops, and you’ll feel better.
15. The seat belt is not enough for your child. When you brake, throw your right arm out so hard that you almost knock the wind out of your child.

About Food…

16. Cereal is an acceptable meal – no matter what time of day it is.
17. Don’t put funnel cakes in front of your car air conditioner vents unless you plan to decorate your car with powdered sugar.
18. If you have extra napkins at the table, someone will spill something.
19. Peanut butter makes almost everything taste better.

About Moving…

20. You really haven’t lived until you’ve shared a bathroom with your mom, your dad, your sister, and two cats.
21. When your sister tries to persuade you to want the smaller room that shares a wall with your parents by telling you it has two closets, don’t fall for it. You will not get a new wardrobe to fill the second closet, no matter what she says.
22. Don’t move to Texas and accidentally leave your phone on silent for 24 hours. It results in gray hairs and unnecessary panic.
23. Moving down the street is just as time consuming as moving across the state.

About Holidays…

24. Don’t get Melody socks for Christmas.
25. You can’t listen to Christmas music until after you get home from Thanksgiving dinner. Unless you’re Terry McNatt. Then, you begin fa-la-la-ing on your summer vacation.
26. You don’t get coal in your stocking if you’re bad. You get army boots.
27. On Christmas morning, you can’t come downstairs until dad has made coffee, mom has a cup of it in her hands, and the video camera is set on the tripod to capture you flying in the room.
28. Boiled custard is better than eggnog.
29. When you stop believing in Santa Clause, he stops coming. Just a personal testimony – flying reindeer, big red suit, comes down the chimney…I believe.
30. Wake your parents up on Christmas morning after you've made your bed. That way, when they want to go back to sleep, you can say, "But I've already made my bed!"

About Family Vacation…

31. If your father randomly busts out “Joy to the World” on the beach, you have the right to move down in front of the next hotel and alert tourists to check out the “weirdo” Christmas caroling ahead. Conducting. Wearing headphones. With a briefcase.
32. When your sister has just gotten engaged, watching Father of the Bride is a bad idea. Your entire family will end up in tears and sitting in the same chair.
33. When you make a bathroom or food stop while traveling, make sure you get back on the Interstate going the right direction.
34. When your child says, "I don't want to ride that," they probably mean it. Examples - Melody's chair lift experience in Gatlinburg or Michelle's Alien Encounter at MGM Studios.

About Pets...
35. If you buy a hamster, make sure their cage has a plastic water bottle. If it’s metal, she will eat it and die.
36. When your hamster dies, your dad and your sister will have a fake funeral in your presence, when in reality, they’ve already thrown her in the garbage can.
37. No matter what he says, there are no sheep dogs eight feet tall.
38. You cannot sneak your bunnies in the house. They leave a poop trail.
39. When your parents are tired of cleaning up such a trail and they give your rabbits away, but tell you that you can visit them every week, you will never see them again.
40. Fish in the McNatt household have a less than 24-hour life span.
41. If you want to buy a cat, buy two or none at all. Also, the best place to buy cats is a trailer park.

About Survival…

42. If the VOLS win, wear orange to church on Sunday.
43. If the VOLS lose, wear orange to church on Sunday.
44. Always lock the door. Yes, that includes locking your car inside the garage with the door down.
45. It really is good to have people who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong.
46. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, pretend you do. Most of the time, you will have them so confused when you’re done talking, they will think you’re the expert.
47. When you mess up, ‘fess up. They probably already know what you did anyway.
48. If you’re on time, you’re late.
49. Talent is hard work and determination in disguise.
50. Always hug people good-bye. If you have just gotten back from the gym, saying “I love you” works just as well. (Side note: This rule applies in all situations – whether going out of town, heading to work, or simply leaving a room.)

About Problem Solving…

51. There’s not much duct tape won’t fix – except if you kick your foot through a door. That requires Crazy Glue.
52. If you drive up an icy hill in a van without four-wheel drive, you will slide back down backwards. Opening the door and trying to stop the vehicle from spinning with your foot does not work.
53. If the alarm goes off at your new condo, don’t call the police. Get up, lock yourself in a room, and call your Daddy.
54. When you twist your ankle, you have two options: The doctor tells you to go to the emergency room, but Terry McNatt says, “Go swim it off.”
55. If wasps make a nest inside your basketball goal and you try to play anyway, one of them will sting you. In the eye.

About Growing Up…

56. Don’t leave a child in a room with scissors. She will cut her hair.
57. When you turn 10, you no longer get a second chance in HORSE or Around the World. You’re playing with the big boys now.
58. The things you make fun of your mother for are the habits you will take with you, such as spending hours cutting coupons, researching grocery store sales, shopping at three difference stores, and saving receipts just to show your fiancé how much you saved.
59. If your sister always wants to play house, she will make a great mom someday.
60. If you always wanted to play rock star, pray for your parenting abilities daily.
61. You know your parents truly want to be a part of everything you do when they join Facebook.
62. If you go over on your cell phone bill, don’t tell your parents you’re pregnant to reduce the shock value of the $300 bill. Reverse psychology does not work in this case.
63. Work with your sister to make sure life’s big events occur at the same time. For example, you should compete in the Miss Tennessee pageant when she graduates college. And you should graduate college the summer your sister gets married. Get engaged the week after she tells your parents she’s pregnant. Then, three months after they become grandparents, schedule your wedding. Parents love stuff like that.
64. Barbie’s do not have bones in their feet. Melody and I came to this conclusion after extensive bathroom research.
65. Make sure you are close enough to your family that if you need their advice and can’t contact them, you can hear their voices in your head.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bringing Back the Bride

The flower girl sits down in the middle of the aisle during the processional. One bridesmaid insists on flip-flops instead of heels. The florist shows up – one centerpiece short. Whatever will the bride do? Her perfect day is ruined. At the end of the ceremony, the bride is absolutely ______________.

Hysterical? Devastated? Maybe. But what is she absolutely? Married. Period. No matter what goes wrong, two things are left: the marriage and the pictures. But somehow over the years, society has turned “every little girl’s dream” into everyone else’s nightmare.

Every wedding has a groom, but his spouse’s title varies. If he is marrying a relentless woman in getting what she (and only she) wants, who focuses so much on the wedding that she becomes unbelievably obnoxious and difficult, he’s dealing with Bridezilla. Juggling a Jeckyll and Hyde routine between a traditional bride and Godzilla, she considers herself and her wedding to be more important than anything, including her fiancé, finances, family and friendships.

Reality TV glorifies “bridezillas” who throw tantrums, put their families’ lives on hold, and force their parents to spend more money on a 20 minute ceremony than they spent on her college education. This behavior is not only accepted, but it’s expected.

There’s also the anti-bride – the woman who wants a ceremony that completely shatters society’s preconceived concept of brides and weddings. Goodbye bridal teas, white dresses, and unity candles. Hello whatever random she picks.

The average cost of an American wedding is $28,800 – not including the rings, honeymoon, or wedding planner. (Another point for another article…but I can’t imagine paying for another opinion. I have plenty.) Is this an investment? Perhaps. But Dr. Scott Stanley, author of The Power of Commitment, says 40-50% of young couples who marry will divorce.

As a bride 18 days shy of our (not my) big day, I can clear up the confusion: Too much focus on the wedding. Too little focus on the marriage. For example, Webster’s Dictionary defines a bride as a “newly married woman or a woman about to be married.” Finally – a definition that refers to MARRIAGE!

We’re not the only ones to blame, brides. Daily, we’re asked, “How’s the wedding planning?” But when was the last time someone asked about your preparations for marriage? No wonder we spend more time talking about the font for the invitations than how we will handle finances.

Here’s the bottom line: Divorce is not an option for me. Neither is valuing the wedding over the marriage. So here’s my plan to bring back the bride.

I won’t spend more time dreaming, obsessing, and planning for the wedding than preparing for the marriage. Do I want a wedding or a marriage? Being married is work, and if I’m not willing to put in the effort, I should throw a big party because that’s all I want anyway.

I won’t be the groom. If I trust him to take care of me for the rest of my life, he needs practice. He can pick out the ring, plan a honeymoon, and choose his groomsmen. And if his parents are paying for the rehearsal dinner, it’s up to them.

I won’t be a control freak. I picked a venue, set the date, and put it on my calendar. I selected a florist, chose the flowers, and paid the bill. In other words, I will do my part, delegate, and check it off my list.

I won’t repeat other’s mistakes. I hate paying too much money for an ugly dress I will never wear again. I will choose a color and let my bridesmaids choose a dress they can afford and feel comfortable in.

I will say thank you. And send thank you notes. This is practice for putting someone else above me. Plus, the more grateful I am, the easier I am to work with, and the more others will be willing to help me. I recognize I can’t plan a wedding alone.

I will seek advice from others. I will schedule pre-marital counseling sessions, ask questions of those who have marriages I respect, and read any marriage materials recommended.

I will expect imperfection. Something will go wrong. Guaranteed. The only thing you can control is how you will respond. I can cry and make my mascara run, or I can smile, knowing I will laugh about it eventually.

I will eat, rest, and enjoy. Crash diets, lack of sleep, and stress will leave me unhealthy and unhappy. This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I can’t be a good wife if I’m sick and worn out.

I realize keeping these guidelines will ruin my chances of being a reality TV star. America won’t be captivated by my fits or my dad’s checkbook. No one will fidget impatiently through a commercial break to see if my fiancé follows through with his threat to call off the wedding. I won’t get the satisfaction of the shock factor when I walk down the aisle in a cowboy hat instead of a veil. But I guarantee that I will cherish my marriage ‘til death do us part.

Take that, Bridezilla. You too, Anti-Bride.