Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cherishing the Days of Tantrums and Poop Stains

I came across this quote today on Facebook:
“You will never have this day with your children again, tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today.  This day is a gift, breathe and notice, smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today, mama.  It will be over before you know it." – Jen Hatmaker
Now, I understand that this is supposed to be inspiring and motivate me to enjoy and appreciate each moment with my children, but what it really does is cause me extreme anxiety and incite a bit of a panic attack.  Does it make me a bad mom if I anxiously count down the minutes until bedtime so I can finally have a bit of peace and quiet?  Am I really supposed to relish the charms of the present when the present is full of cleaning up the ridiculously adult sized bodily functions of a tiny human being?  Or staying up all night, doing 16 loads of laundry, and shampooing the carpets when the stomach flu hits our house?  For the 3rd time in one year???  Am I a terrible person if I am not cherishing all these moments??
I know as well as anyone that babies grow up and before you know it, your two year old cherub who tantrums, wets the bed, and calls you the meanest mommy in the world will, in the blink of an eye, be the eight year old angel who tantrums, wets the bed, and calls you the meanest mom in the world.   I am as sentimental as the next mommy about wishing my children could stay small, and thinking fondly of their younger years.  And wishing I didn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars each season when they put on their jeans and find they are 2 inches shorter than they were yesterday.  And, while I do make a conscious effort to live in the moment and appreciate the time I have with my children….some days it is more difficult than others.
A few weeks ago, I remember sitting in a booth with my oldest little monster and there was a lady was with her teenage daughter in the booth behind us.  As my son was rambling on about his iPod Angry Birds game, I was eavesdropping on their conversation about the girl getting asked to the Homecoming dance by a boy who left a note in her backpack and the mom asking if she liked the boy and the girl responding that it was “awkward to talk about with her mom” and I was thinking that it was awkward to listen to and also “OH MY GAH!!!! In a few short years I will be this mom and my sweet 5 year old cutie pie will be paying attention to other females besides me!  And I will be just like this mom, trying to remain calm and cool, but on the inside FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!”
Then I read this quote this morning and thought “Geez, you loser, you should have been enjoying your son’s story about which birds have which special abilities and ‘relishing the charms of the present’ instead of spying on the people next to you”.  But, wow, homecoming conversations are so much more interesting to me than Angry Birds.
Reading quotes like the one above just causes me to worry that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not enjoying  my children enough, that I’m not enough.  And then I start to bite my fingernails as I fret and I frown, which causes wrinkles, and then I am not only a bad mom, but an ugly one at that.

James 4:13-16 reads, Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend this and that", you do not know what tomorrow will hold (or if you are even granted tomorrow).

Clearly I don't want to waste one single moment of these precious years of childhood worrying. I am intent on seizing these moments and squeezing every last ounce of goodness out of them.  So, for all the parents out there like me who are doing their darn best, who panic when they think of how quickly their children are growing, and who often feel guilt when they aren’t enjoying every moment, I offer this advice:
When you are struggling with your children, remember that bedtime will come soon.  Just because you don’t enjoy every single second of parenting doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy being a parent.  You love your children more than the world, and you will enjoy every stage of life that you experience together (minus the tantrums and poop stains), even though they’re not always going to be pretty.  Just do your best, breathe, and take each day as it comes.  Oh, and chocolate and small amounts of "mommy juice" always help. (wink.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let Your Gratitude Be Contagious

Our kids will only be as thankful as they’ve seen us be.
Let that thought soak in. So much of the time it is easy for us to gripe about the sense of entitlement that the next generation is exhibiting and wonder what we can do to change their perspective on life. We gasp at their constant desire for more stuff, more convenience, more things handed to them on a silver platter and can almost become embittered by their attitudes when we are far more responsible for this tragedy than we’d like to take credit for.  Who did they learn this behavior from?  We’d like to think that it’s all the stuff they picked up on television, from their ungrateful little friends at school, or from technology.  More often than not, we can find the answer to the question when we look in the mirror.
“I’m a thankful person!” you are saying to yourself.  That very well may be true. But it may not be the truth that you are displaying to your children.   As a mom of two young boys, it’s hard to look at the “glass half-full” every moment of every day. So much of the time, I find myself counting down the hours until bedtime, so that I can finally bask in a few moments of peace a quiet. I cherish the fact that I get to stay at home with them every day, and I hope that they understand that. I hope that they feel how much of my life is positively impacted just by merely being able to share it with them.  The truth is, however, there are days and weeks that go by sometimes when my behavior and attitude reflects more annoyance and inconvenience than gratitude. How easy it is to lose our perspective.
Little ones especially have such a hard time concentrating their little minds OUT instead of INWARD.  They are selfish by nature, and must learn to find patience and self-control and a sense of gratitude for the little things.  They learn this best by watching us.
Something that my husband started doing with our boys has begun the process of them seeing their cups “half-full” on a regular basis. Every night when we go to tuck them in and say prayers, we ask them what their favorite part of the day was.  We wait while they think about this and come up with answers like, “I liked eating ice cream cones,” or “My favorite part was reading a book with daddy”. At first, this exercise was one of struggle. They were a little ticked that they had to go to bed and were looking at their cups as “half-empty”, so it was difficult to change directions at that time and force them to think about the positive instead of the negative. Some nights go better than others, but we are hopefully instilling in them even at age 5 and 3 that we MUST look for things to be thankful for.
I believe the area of thankfulness will continuously be a struggle for the younger generation to grasp. It’s especially hard when they see their parents get aggravated over the silliest things, get annoyed when things do not go exactly as planned, and when our demeanor’s are laden with negativity and frustration. Gaining a new perspective of our own is the first step in the process of finding victory in the area of thankfulness in our families. If we can change our hearts, our kids, who so frequently wish to be just like us, will effortlessly follow suit. Today, let’s focus on the one’s in the mirror. Let us reflect a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness to God for our kids and every silly inconvenience that parenthood brings with it. Let the state of our grateful hearts be contagious.
Do you find yourself looking at the glass as “half-empty or half-full”?  Are you a pessimist or an optimist?  How can your sense of gratitude be affected by this perspective?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Living Passionately

The following is a guest post from one of my new favorite people! She hails from Australia and is passionate about investing in ourselves to better our parenting. I am THRILLED she agreed to introduce herself and share her heart with us today.  Please welcome her with lots of love and comments!
Yesterday I went for my first surf in 3 years.   It was a long time coming.  Even longer if you could understand how big a part of my life surfing was before having my beautiful children. 
 As mothers we devote ourselves to our children and families.  It happens the moment we give birth (or fall pregnant), and it happens so quickly and naturally that we don't always notice our former-self slipping away.  Over time we think of the person we once were and the things we once enjoyed, but we are so thankful for the beautiful blessings of our children and family that we don't dare let ourselves miss it too much.  If your anything like me then you might have thought about trying to find ways of doing some of those things that you previously enjoyed - but then you felt guilty for wanting to do anything that takes you away from spending time with your children.  It's the plight of a mother - trying to find the balance between your life as a mother and your life as a woman. 
 Before having my wonderful children my life was very active.  I was a keen surfer and snowboarder and spent most of my free time doing those two things.  They were more than just sports to me.  They were my way of life.  I loved the sport, the culture and the outdoors.  I always felt closer to God when I was out in the mountains or in the ocean.  It centered me.  It gave me immense joy and peace.  And I'm so sure that being outdoors and appreciating our Lord's beautiful creation brings Him joy.
 When my children were born I quickly learned that it was not as easy as I thought to get back to doing those things I loved.  Physically I was able, but we now had naps and feeds to work around, my husband had his own sports, and my family were not always available.  I started to think it might not happen.  Or maybe I would just have to wait until the kids are older.  I tried to make peace with it and tell myself that I didn't miss it - that I was happy to devote myself 100% to my family without thinking about my own needs.  But slowly, I began to notice that my personality was changing and I was beginning to feel like I didn't really know myself anymore.  I missed the old me and I wondered whether my husband missed the old me.
 Our stress levels were growing.  Our children were used to being the center of our universe and our lives revolved around them. We began to notice that this was making things difficult whenever we did try and do something for ourselves - they would not understand, wouldn't know how to behave and weren't able to handle the change well.  I wanted our children to be well-adjusted and to be able to to see and respect Mummy and Daddy as people, not just their parents.
I decided I needed to make a change.  I began to realize that I was not going to be the best mother and partner I could be unless I began taking care of myself and looking after my own well-being.  Deep down I knew that I was a great mother who invested a lot of time into her children.  It was going to have to be okay that they learn to let me invest a little bit of time into myself as well.  I made a commitment to myself to start looking after myself again.  To get fit and active, and to find a way to do some of those things that I loved to do.  I made a commitment to find 'me' again.
This commitment was nearly three months ago, and although it hasn't always been easy,  I've managed to get fit again.  I've learned to spend some time on me, learned to rest and not feel guilty about it, and I've started a blog to share and encourage other mothers who are in a similar place.  But until yesterday I hadn't managed to go for a surf.  
Yesterday I had the opportunity to go surfing but I nearly let it slip away.  It was getting late in the day and it seemed like a huge mission to get the kids into the car, down to the beach and home by dinner.  I decided it was going to be too hard, but thankfully my husband and father had the sense to encourage me.   Without them I would have taken the easy route.  The familiar route.  But they encouraged me and helped make it happen.  As I paddled out into the surf I knew we had done the right thing, and as I jumped up on my first wave something inside me stirred.  A passion.  A zest for life I'd been missing for quite a while.  A forgotten joy.
I'm writing this post because I want to encourage you.  It is so easy to forget ourselves while looking after our families.  I truly believe that if we want it bad enough we can find a way to be the loving wife and mother we want to be while still maintaining our own identity and taking care of ourselves.  I can't emphasize enough how important it is to look after ourselves, get the exercise that we need, and do the things that we truly love.  Its not always easy to find the time (I struggle with it constantly).   But try to find a balance.  I really believe finding that balance will allow me to be a better wife and a better mother.  By watching us live and enjoy life, our children will learn to live their lives to the fullest.  They will learn to find things they love and get wonderful enjoyment out of them.  They might even find they enjoy the same things as you - and what a blessing it would be to enjoy them together.  Today HJ (3 years old) watched his Mommy getting ready to go for a surf.  He asked if he could come.  I promised we would let him have a turn.  HJ hasn't always been confident trying new things so watching him get on a surfboard for the first time and paddle around with his Daddy warmed my heart.  He was so proud of himself.  He had been brave, tried something new and had an awesome time.  What a wonderful experience for a little guy to have.
Doing the things you love and looking after yourself will make a difference to your life.  You're children will see and feel your joy and it can't help but rub off on them.
Don't let lack of time, circumstances or obstacles stop you from doing the things that you love.  Keep trying, keep looking for ways, keep making it a priority.  You will find a way that works for you and your family.
Be kind to yourself.  Don't be afraid to be the wonderful woman you know you are.  Make a commitment to yourself today. Find 'you'.
Aanika xo
If you enjoyed my post today then come and follow over at where I blog about fitness, parenting and finding ways to look after our health and well-being.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unlikely Missionaries (Our Story, Part 3)

Whoever says God doesn’t answer prayers should follow us around for awhile. We can’t seem to go very far without God confirming our calling again and again. So much of the time, you hear people use the phrase, “God is calling us there.” And so much of the time we think, Really? Did God send you an email? Did he call you at home? Did you see a burning bush or hear an angel audibly speak your “calling” into existence? We were some of those skeptics as well, but we’re realizing that it’s extremely hard to understand how God works, leads, calls and confirms in a person’s life unless you ARE that person. We are so excited to share a small selection of the crazy, providential ways in which He got our attention this last year and brought us to a place of hearing “Go HERE.” We are even more excited about answering that call in 2013.
Last summer, we were still hurting and healing from the pain of the previous 7 months, but we’d finally reached a point of resolution. God was rebuilding and restoring our marriage with a LOT of hard work, counseling, and quality time. We were finally, consistently seeking Him together and realizing all over again why God brought us together in first place. It certainly wasn’t because we had SO much in common! We will always be polar opposites in the personality department. We don’t share common interests or hobbies and this has always been a cause for a disconnection between us. So, we began seeking the Lord and asking Him specifically to give us common ground, something that we could share and do together. In our heads, we were thinking something more along the lines of “rock-climbing” or “marathon-training.” Mission work never entered our minds. . .Until one late August evening, amidst a hectic travel schedule, we plopped down on the couch for a brief rest, and a little “veg time.” After fumbling through a few channels of news, reality shows, and romantic comedies, we finally settled on the Travel Channel. Finally something that we both agreed on. . .House Hunters International!
We watched as a couple from Chicago moved their family of 6 to the third-world country of Nicaragua to simplify life and teach their children a little something about “giving back.” The husband worked remotely from home and could take his business anywhere there was an Internet connection. The stay-at-home-mom of four had a huge heart for orphans and those stuck in the cycle of poverty. They left everything behind to find something that they could invest in as a family. We recorded it and watched it again. The whole episode gave us this weird “Twilight Zone” feeling. As it ended, we just smiled at each other, realizing that God was stirring something in both of us for the first time in many years. He was answering our prayers and planting some new desires inside our hearts.
We began researching the needs in Nicaragua and the culture. Coincidentally, we had both taken Spanish in school and had a love for the language. (Plus, we could both eat our weight in Mexican food, so that was a bonus!) We were overwhelmed at the level of poverty in this Central American, third-world country. Most of the population lived on less than $2 per day! A staggering 58% of the population is under the age of 18. We were looking at a country, roughly the size of New York State, made up primarily of CHILDREN. Children who were hungry and neglected and uneducated and desperate for change. The more we read, the more we felt in our hearts that we were supposed to go to Nicaragua. We started looking for dates for a short-term, week-long mission trip. We didn’t realize that God would ultimately ask us for WAY more than one week.
As a blogger, I (Michelle) had a nice network of other mothers from around the world that shared my passion for parenting, faith, and writing. I stumbled upon two blogs that really stood out to me. One mom-blogger, named Sarah, just HAPPENED to live and work in Nicaragua. The other, Kelly, and her family were missionaries finishing up their stay in the same area. I hit it off immediately with both of them as they filled me in about the culture and best times to travel. Both women, in separate conversations, suggested we visit during one certain week in November. They were excited to meet us, and both suggested that we speak to a mutual friend, Julie, about getting involved in the humanitarian efforts in the area. BOTH women separately mentioned this “Julie” person and gave me her personal email. I laughed at the coincidence to Bryan. It must be REALLY important that I get in touch with Julie! That night I emailed “this Julie chick” and told her about our upcoming trip. I received an email in return in a matter of 30 minutes! She was excited to help me plan some mission work during our upcoming visit, possibly meet in person, and was also interested in the fact that I, too, was a “mom blogger.” We shared a lot of common interests and enjoyed communication through email a few more times that evening. She had a parenting website herself and left me the address at the end of her last email. As I settled in to bed, I decided to look up Julie’s website, and what I saw totally blew my mind. In Julie’s “about me section,” there was a beautiful picture of her family in Nicaragua on the beach. As I showed the photo to Bryan, we both stared in astonishment. Julie. . .the Julie that BOTH new friends referred me to. . . was the woman from House Hunters! God was so hilarious! This new friend of mine was the very one that played a part in our desire to pursue Nicaragua in the first place! I couldn’t have sought out and found this woman if I TRIED. But in a moment of providence, God was confirming to us that yes, we were walking in the right direction.
We had dates, but no money. We knew God was calling us to go on a mission trip together to Nicaragua, but we had no way of funding it with this “perfect week to visit” quickly approaching. I’ll never forget one morning, as we sat on the porch drinking coffee before starting the day’s activities, we started brainstorming ideas on how we could earn some extra money to fund this trip. We thought of babysitting, canceling cable TV & gym memberships, etc. We were willing to make this work however we could. Bryan, in a defeated tone concluded, “I have NO idea how we’re going to get the money this fast. Maybe I could find someone who needed some extra graphic work done; but I don’t do freelance work anymore, so I don’t even know where a job would come from.” Then, after a thoughtful pause, he added, “I guess if it’s really God that wants us to go, He will provide something.” We sipped coffee and thought about this for a moment, when suddenly Bryan’s phone rang. He answered, chatted business with someone, then hung up and looked at me, stunned. “You are not going to believe this,” he said. “A complete stranger, who got my name through another complete stranger, needs some freelance work done.” I just stared. When God answers prayers so blatantly, you can’t explain them away. They are signs. Plain and simple. And God was going to continue to show up in miraculous ways!
Fast-forward a few weeks. Our “perfect week to travel to Nicaragua” was growing closer and closer, and we were STILL about $1000 short for our journey. We’d prayed, we’d re-budgeted, we’d downsized our Nica lodging expenses, and had still come out short. That $1000 number loomed overhead and the closer we got to “the week,” the more we worried about how God was going to pull it off. We still (tried to) have faith that, for some reason unbeknown to us, God had big things to show us in Nicaragua. There were just too many signs and too many coincidences. In the meantime, we tried not to panic. Then, with very little time and no extra cash flow, we got a call from our landlord, out of the blue. When Bryan hung up a moment later, he rushed into the room with a stunned expression on his face. What in the world?! He just sat there for a moment before I begged him to spit it out. “How much do we lack to go to Nicaragua, again?” he asked. When I repeated, for the hundredth time, that we lacked $1000, he smiled and replied, “The landlord is going out of town, so she just asked us NOT to pay rent this month.” Our rent, my friends, is exactly $1000 a month! Tell me. Someone PLEASE tell me that our God no longer works miracles.
We were funded! From the moment we landed in Nicaragua until the day we left, we were in awe of how God was in control of the entire journey. There were moments, especially while driving through the countryside at midnight with no idea where we were headed, and a cab driver than didn’t speak a word of English, that we DID think to ourselves, What have we done?!? We knew, though, that all of this was not OUR doing. We had not made ANY part of this adventure happen on our own and we were merely along for an amazing ride. Every single evening of our 7 day trip, we went to bed with a sense that God was doing something BIGGER than we ever anticipated Him doing. We felt strangely attached to the community of people we’d only met a few days before. We were blown away by the confirmations that seemed to jump out of nowhere and convince us that this week wasn’t just another mission trip. This week was a preview.
We met Julie and Sarah and Kelly and so many other amazing people. We explored the little fishing village on the bay and accompanied our new friends to do some mission work in a nearby area. What we experienced at Bethel Mission in Rivas was life-changing for us. The connection that we made to a woman named Anita confirmed a stirring in us that we’d felt since our arrival. We had come for THESE people; to help, to give back, to invest, and to share the hope that we had been given in over the last year. What was even more miraculous is that two people, as different as night and day, had fallen in love with the same place and the same thing. We knew as we went back to the hotel that evening that Bethel Mission was an answer to a prayer for us. (We would find out much later that WE were an answer to Bethel Mission’s prayer!)
Our last night in Nicaragua was supernatural. As it was, Kelly and her family were spending their last week in Nicaragua, as their two-year mission had come to a close. We were invited to their “going away” party and debated whether we should accept the invitation or not. How thankful I am that we decided to go that night. What we experienced at that party was one of the MAIN reasons why God brought us to Nicaragua entirely. We sat around people from all walks of life who were there to celebrate the impact that ONE family made on an entire community. Their mission work had helped so many, but what was most inspiring about this family is that they RADIATED the love of Jesus. Person after person raised their glass in heartfelt toasts to the encouragement this family had given to them personally. “I’m closer to God because of YOU.” There were some moments that Bryan and I felt like we were intruding on one of the most intimate moments of someone’s life. We both sat there realizing that THIS was what life was all about. Living in such a way that even those that aren’t believers feel closer to God because of the way we live out love everyday. Kelly and her husband sat down and poured wisdom into our lives that night, explaining that, if God was calling us, then He would provide and equip us, and that we needed to be ready. God could possibly use our story to share the love of Jesus. We left that night, sat on the beach, and made the decision. This is what God was calling us to do. It was scary and exciting and overwhelming and intimidating, but it would definitely be the most fulfilling. God was calling us to full-time missions.
I wish we could say the rest is history and that when we arrived home, everything fell into place. We’ve had a few obstacles to overcome, but God has been closing doors that we would have liked to use as “escape routes” and opening new doors for us to pursue this exciting new adventure. We are trusting in His plan everyday. We feel so unworthy of such a calling. We know we are “unlikely missionaries.” We are real people with a real history who have made real big mistakes in life. We’re reassured by the fact that God tends to use jacked up people to do extraordinary things. Those who are weak, as we sometimes are, get to watch God be strong in their lives. God doesn’t like to share the glory, and with people on His team that simply couldn’t have made it without His help, He doesn’t have to. We are so unworthy to be a part of His amazing story, but He’s chosen to use us anyway. We feel so honored and blessed. We hope our story can be an encouragement to anyone who wonders if God can use them after the past that they’ve experienced. Can I just answer with a resounding YES! Trust us, if He can use US, He can use anyone!
(We hope that God used our story to encourage or inspire you! We do know that there may be some of you that are in various stages of infidelity and trying to restore a broken marriage. We DO NOT have all the answers, but we feel God calling us to step out and help others that may find themselves in this heartbreaking and desperate situation. If there are any of you experiencing similar circumstances, know that you are not alone. If you ever need to talk with someone who has “been there,” please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can set up a time to connect in whichever way you are comfortable – via email, Skype, etc. Connect with us HERE.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From The Eyes of The Deceived, (Our Story, Part 2)

(*The following post was written by my husband.)
I’m not sure if words exist that can adequately describe how it feels to suddenly discover that everything you believed about your marriage is a lie. If they do, I certainly do not possess them. The conflicting swirl of emotions that bombarded me as Michelle sat on the floor of my office, shattering my life with her confessions, didn’t relent for months. It was almost impossible to discern the difference between anger, pain, humiliation, sadness, and then – for some reason – moments of compassion for her. I felt angry at her for making me love her. I felt an unbearable humiliation at the knowledge that friends had known, and had kept the secret from me. I felt resentment that consumed my thoughts. There was no way, in my mind, that I could continue in a life with this woman.
Looking back at the events of that month, I can see the first seeds of a pretty incredible story, though they were impossible to see at the time. A couple of months before, I had run into an old acquaintance, a fellow worship leader named Charlie Hall, whom I hadn’t seen for years. He had asked me to start playing in his band at church. I had always respected Charlie greatly, so I happily agreed. The first date that we scheduled to play together turned out to be just three days after Michelle’s confession.
The message I heard that week at church, quite literally, changed the course of my life.
That morning, our lead pastor, Josh Kouri, delivered one of the most powerful, inspired, messages on the gospel that I’ve ever heard (you can listen to it here). He spoke of the demon-possessed man in Mark 5 –  a naked, deranged outcast who spent his time roaming a cemetery, and whom no one would dare approach. No one except Jesus. From this story, he painted a striking picture of the depravity of us all, and the beauty in the grace of the one who sees through our ugliness, and who loves us anyway. As I listened, I became painfully aware of my own failures in all of life, and especially as husband.
I had been distant, and there is no doubt that I neglected my wife. I worked late all the time, and when I wasn’t working late I did something else. Truthfully, I didn’t want to be living the “married life.”  I had my own selfish ambitions, and I saw marriage and parenthood as a hindrance. I wanted big things, and thought that they were more important than coming home at night. I was wrong. I had no idea how much a marriage needed to be cared for, and cultivated. I didn’t know how fragile it was. So, my wife sat alone at night. I don’t know how many times she cried in her loneliness, or how many times she cursed me for leaving her by herself. None of these things would excuse her decisions, but they reminded me that she wasn’t the only one who needed to be forgiven.
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Ps 130:3
So, I decided not to leave, yet – if for no other reason than as a response to God’s mercy toward me. On the third day following the death of our marriage, God had breathed a spark of life back into it.
Unfortunately, though, that decision didn’t put an end to the pain I felt. For six full months, I wrestled with the betrayal. We worked hard, through counseling and prayer, to fix what we had ruined, but it was barely enough. Michelle was more broken and repentant than anyone I’d ever seen, but I was still plagued with difficult memories. Our surroundings – our house, our friends, our city – were full of reminders, and the smallest things would trigger outrage.  Over time, I began to lose the battle, and the bitterness consumed me. I started to question my decision to stay; and, eventually, what I believed about God. I tried to push through, but after a long, downward spiral I finally reached the end of my strength.
From a moment that I will never forget, I cried out to God in the most honest, heart-wrenching prayer I’ve ever prayed. It was full of anger and doubt, but it was real. I had gone as far as I could in my own power, and I needed Him to step in. I needed to know that He was really there. I pleaded with Him, asking for something extraordinary – something that would give me the strength to keep going, and keep believing. I could no longer muster up the faith I needed on my own.
“I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea…” Lam 3:55
I was finally, completely broken – absolutely aware of my inability to continue on my own; and I now believe that it was exactly what I needed. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be in a place of one-hundred percent, total dependence on God, which is where He wants us all. I’m convinced that He was waiting for me to experience that revelation, so that I would be ready to receive and fully appreciate what He had in store.
What happened in the months that followed was nothing short of a miraculous answer to that prayer. Through a series of uncanny “coincidences,” revelations, and direct answers to prayer (we’ll share a few of these in the next post), He has shown himself to Michelle and me in ways that we’ll never fully be able to describe, but will never be able to doubt. He has supernaturally restored us, both individually and as a couple, and has proven that He still has plans for the marriage that we almost destroyed. Our only plausible response is one of the utmost gratitude, and it’s what has led us to the unexpected path we’re on today: a path of total surrender.
Exactly one year ago, I heard the sermon that changed the course of my life. As we listen to the same message again today, a different piece of Josh’s message jumps out – one that I missed the first time. After Jesus freed the man in the cemetery from the evil spirit, He gave the man a mission: Go and tell how much the Lord has done for you. I’m immediately impacted by how perfectly that describes where we are today, and I can’t help but get a chill down my spine when Josh puts it this way: “You have a story! You have a story because you’ve encountered me, and you’re not to wait…” 
God has done so much for our family that we simply cannot resist the desire to go and tell our story.
(Don't miss the final post in this series. Part 3: "Our Story", Unlikely Missionaries will publish tomorrow!) 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From "Adulterer" to "Missionary" (Our Story: Part One)

The chime on my phone beeped from across the room and I raced to grab it. Adrenaline rushing, I looked down at the words in the text message. “I wish you were here with me right now.”  My cheeks grew flushed and butterflies danced around my stomach. He always seemed to know the right thing to say. I sat for a moment and remembered the first time that we’d met. Everything was so new and exciting. We were both one big jumble of emotions, and every time I received a little text, all those addictive feelings came rushing back. I leaned over to type him back, smiling from ear to ear. “Me too.” Immediately, I felt a little twinge of guilt steal the excitement away. I tried as I might to brush away the conviction and focus on basking in his love for me and how much I adored being “adored.” How could I not enjoy the constant attention and constant messages of affection and encouragement? I’d gone so much of my life without those things. I hated the little pulls of guilt that crept up every so often to steal this new found happiness away from me. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t shake it. The moments of happiness and momentary bliss were always immediately followed by shame. Shame from emotions that I wasn’t meant to have and wasn’t meant to share. Another message vibrated in my hands, and my heart sank as I read the words. “I love you.” The words that would normally make a woman dance around her living room to cheesy love ballads and dream of wedding bells and white picket fences, left me feeling “buried”. Deep in a pit I had dug on my own and could not climb out of by myself. I adored this man. I truly did. Yet I hated the fact that my feelings for him were this strong. I couldn’t wait to talk to him again. I wanted to tell him every little thing about myself. Yet I knew that as soon as I did, I would leave with a regret so deep that it would change me forever. I was stuck living a double life. Newness and excitement on one side, pain and regret on the other. For this man, the one who made my heart race and put butterflies in my stomach. . . who loved me with all of his heart had no idea that I loved another. This man. . . was not my husband. 

The one thing that I would never want to do is glamorize infidelity or give anything glory, besides what is due to God for saving me from myself just one year ago. The above excerpt is merely a way for others, possibly in a similar situation at this very minute, to have a point of reference. A place to relate to feelings and emotions that can plague someone engulfed in the horrible, heartbreaking lifestyle that is Adultery. This is a place that I never thought I would be, and a place I am CONVINCED (by the blood of Jesus) to never visit again.
Someone once told me that you can never know a person, really know them, unless you know where they’ve been. Their past. As we embark upon this amazing new adventure as a family, one that will seek to glorify God using our past, present, and future, we felt compelled to lay everything down before our friends and family and allow the worst of our failures to bring about new purpose and ministry. God can and will use even this to change hearts.
I can honestly say that I never thought that this would happen to US. I never set out in my marriage to lie and cheat and deceive. I never meant to hurt so many by my actions. One never realizes the gravity of their decisions as they make them. Some decisions seem so small and insignificant. One look. One email. One text. One conversation. One frivolous thought of selfishness and entitlement can change the course of one’s very future. That’s all it took for me. As I lay awake texting a new friend online from across the ocean, I thought to myself countless times, How is this wrong? It’s just conversation. And maybe it was in the beginning. But how we devalue the weight of communication. We need it; we crave it. It’s the very thing that God put inside us to bring us closer to each other and closer to him. Yet when it’s abused, neglected, or used in excess, it can bring about horrible consequences. It was neglected in my marriage relationship for such a long time. Couples can get to a point where they are merely “roommates.” That’s exactly what we were. Bryan is an introvert, and valued his solitude. I am an extrovert and crave communication more than most people. We suffered from a severe disconnect for years which left me feeling abandoned and lonely, and him feeling suffocated and resentful of my need for attention. In turn, I found a place of bitterness and took up residency. I was upset at his lack of concern for our disconnection. Our problems became less about resolution and more about my getting a sense of fulfillment from others. It was then that I learned some lessons in abusing communication.
I found a new way to curb my need for Bryan’s dissolving affections for me. Months would pass with little to no intimacy and I would find solace in “going out.” I had new friends to share new experiences with, and in the meantime, Bryan got his solitude. I thought for awhile that this was a win/win. How easy it is to justify our behavior when we feel entitled to happiness. So easy, that when the opportunities presented themselves to cross the line even farther, from conversation to physical affection, I continued to make excuses for myself.  I thought over and over, I deserve to be happy. I deserve someone who WANTS to talk to me and enjoy my company. It’s not wrong for me to want those things. And to a certain degree, for those of you who share the same perspective, you are correct. It is, however, never okay to gain that happiness at the expense of your vows to God. I was never justified in spending way too much time in conversation, baring my soul to others, sharing emotional bonds with another, and relying on someone else other that God to fulfill my need for relationship. So many of us fall into this trap. Every few weeks, I would try to reach out to Bryan again. Maybe he’s had enough of working and busying himself in solitary hobbies. Maybe, with enough distance, he would crave the marriage relationship that we once had. Though we had moments of joy and momentary closeness, we let go of the one thing that held us together as a couple. We let go of the resolution that God had brought us together for a reason. We simply stopped seeking that reason as a couple.
Years went by and, two kids later, we had learned how to better mask our feelings of unhappiness. The kiddos became our only sense of joint entertainment. We’d grown apart in every other way. I had continued to fill my time “chatting” online with other people, all fairly platonic relationships, with underlying bouts of “harmless flirting”. (NO flirting is harmless, by the way.) He became obsessed with his career and I felt stuck raising two kids seemingly by myself, while he put in long hours at the office and then even longer hours with his band. I desperately wanted him to wake up one day and “miss us.” This was a very dark and lonely time for me. When I should have hit my knees and pleaded with God to bring my husband’s heart back to me, I focused on myself again. I’m lonely. I’m hurt. deserve someone who loves me, or even NOTICES me once in awhile.
I’ll never forget the very beginning of that “harmless” conversation that changed everything. It was one online photo swap, one comment, one response, one compliment, one question, one lie, one more word of encouragement, one realization that someone truly saw me. . . and I was hooked. Once I extinguished the conviction a time or two, my feelings of guilt were replaced with complete entitlement. I only pray that those that are in a place of walking this very thin line between friendship and adultery can hear me. This was NOT something that I went looking for. This was simply a decision made in the wrong frame of mind; one that was not craving the life God had for me and one that was looking at things from a victim’s perspective. Emotions run high, excitement sets in with the fulfillment of significance, and someone else takes God’s rightful place in your life as the giver of joy and happiness. I got completely sucked in. I was in such a place of desperation for relationship that I became addicted very easily. I looked forward to my talks with this man. Conversations turned to emotions and those emotions led to even bigger mistakes. I had the flattery that I so craved, someone genuinely interested in me, and not just as a “mom.” I had someone to share my daily life with, and that’s exactly what I did for over a year. He flew to see me and I habitually lied to those closest to me in order to make time to see him in person. What was once only communication changed almost effortlessly to a more personal and physical relationship. I had a husband, but I also had a boyfriend. The conviction and twinges of guilt would subside for a time and return every once in awhile. I became so used to living this double life that I was numb inside. I was obsessed with the attention and the affection of someone who traveled halfway around the world to see me, but in the same breath, I still would have rather it been the efforts of the one with whom I shared a silent living room every night. Bryan was oblivious. Until one night, when almost by providence, I left an open conversation with this man up on my phone and Bryan stumbled upon the entire relationship.
What followed was HELL. There is no other way to describe what my actions put my family through. After fits of panic and sobbing and pleading with Bryan that it was all a mistake, that it wasn’t what he thought, I finally relented. I had spent the last days denying, praying, trying to manipulate, and all out lying about a stolen identity. As Bryan stood across the room from me one evening with a dead look in his eye saying “I’m done,” I knew that I had hit rock bottom. I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know what to do.
We spoke to a pastor at church that next night, who “coincidentally” had walked this exact same road of infidelity. He and his wife were far along the journey to restoration. Every word that came out of his mouth in that 30-minute session was my lifeline. I will never forget him looking me in the eye and telling me, “Without full disclosure, you will never move past this. You must be honest with yourself, with God, and then with Bryan. There can no longer be any secrets.”
I wrestled with God that night more than I ever had in my life. I knew what He was asking me to do, and I did not want to do it. He was demanding full surrender to the truth and I knew it might kill me. It would definitely kill the marriage that I had tried unsuccessfully to sustain for 7 years. This was about my coming clean before God, and learning to sacrifice everything to get my relationship with Him right once and for all. This impossible situation, the heartbreak and lies that had shattered my dreams of a “family” would never be mended unless I valued my relationship with the Lord MORE than my marriage.  So when I woke up that morning, I resolved to dying. I knew I had to come clean about everything. Not just to God, but to everyone. Bryan especially. I owed him the truth even though it would ruin my life.
I never thought I would make it through that conversation on January 12th, 2012. It was quite literally the worst day of my life. It was the day I broke my husband’s heart in two and it was the day I finally gave up control of my life. I lay there on my knees in Bryan’s office, baring my soul and being completely transparent for the first time in years. The heartbreak that my honesty brought with it was the deepest sorrow I have ever felt.  And I wept because I knew it was the end of our marriage. I was doing what God asked of me for the the first time in years and sacrificing to the point of dying. And that’s just what it felt like. I purged the lies until I could purge no more, and sat in the floor in a wet heap in Bryan’s office while I shattered his heart.
And he held me.
Bryan held me.  But not in his own strength.  I know that for a fact.  There is no way that a person can be as crushed as he was, and still be able to hold the person that ruined his life.
The only explanation that I can give is that God showed up in that little room in our house. This single moment was the beginning of the biggest real-life miracle that either one of us has ever experienced.  This was the moment when God showed up in the flesh to me. As we clung to each other out of sheer emotional pain, I truly felt the tangible love that God had for me. Loving in spite of my mistakes. Comforting in the midst of my sin. I don’t think I will ever feel God as real to me as the day that I felt him through the arms of my broken husband. A husband undeserving of such betrayal, but yet still willing to love me with what he had left.
I hope and pray no one has to make the mistakes that I made. But I pray each and every one of you experience the love of a God who waits, sometimes with a broken heart, to save us from ourselves. He lives to be our knight in shining armor and bring us to places we NEVER thought possible through redemption. He delights in allowing his “difficult children” to be the bearers of good news to those who are just like themselves. When I realize that He’s brought me from “adulterer” to “missionary” in one year, I’m overwhelmed with feelings of freedom and incomparable joy! That is the kind of God I serve!

(Please return tomorrow for Part 2 of "Our Story" written by my husband! You won't want to miss just how big of a miracle God worked in our marriage in just one year!) 

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013. . .The Year We Moved To a Third-World Country

We've waited and waited to tell everyone our exciting news and the time has finally come!! Our little family of four will be making some BIG changes in 2013 and we are so excited for the next year of our lives! You may remember that me and the hubs took a trip awhile back to Nicaragua that impacted us greatly. It stirred something up inside of us that we just could not shake. After lots of prayer and seeking guidance, we have decided to leave suburbia behind and pursue full-time mission work in Rivas, Nicaragua. We are stepping out in faith, knowing that God is leading us to be a blessing to other people because of the way he has blessed our lives All this week, I will be heading up a new series of posts entitled "OUR STORY", beginning tomorrow! I plan to reveal a whole new side of Miss Banana Pants! I will be sharing some pretty personal things that our little family has endured over the last year that has brought us to a place of making such a life-altering decision. I'm excited and nervous about "coming out" and giving my readers a new perspective of me. Speaking of "perspective", with new adventures come new projects! The sarcasm and parenting humor will continue to abound here on "Miss Banana Pants", but we will be documenting our upcoming journey on a new blog that we would LOVE you to follow. Visit us at Abroad Perspective and read all about our vision for the people of Nicaragua and how you can get involved!  Here's what we will be up to in just a few short months:

We are THRILLED to partner with Bethel Mission in Rivas to enhance their feeding program and found an education program for impoverished kids in and around a garbage dump area. Bethel Mission-Rivas was founded by a 28-year-old Nicaraguan girl by the name of Anita. On a morning run one morning, she stumbled upon a local garbage dump and her heart broke as she watched children digging through the trash for something to eat or sell. So much poverty, so much need, right in her hometown. She resolved to do something. The next day, instead of running, she returned to the local dump with food. Feeding 10-20 children that day, and realizing that this was the only meal that they had had all day, she felt compelled to return. The next day. And the next day. And the day after that. Today, Anita feeds 80-100 children dinner every night at a local building that was donated to her just one mile away from the dump area. They play games, sing songs, learn scripture, and pray and thank God for the blessing of food where it seems so scarce.  Many nights, she does this all by herself. We hope to change that. We pray that we can fill the gaps in this amazing ministry!

We hope to aid in her feeding program by providing the funds to bring more nutritious meals to these children, who most assuredly would not eat a full meal a day if it weren't for Bethel Mission.
 We hope to start an education program that will enable these children to break the cycle of poverty in their families. Most of the children in this area have little to no schooling due to their lack of public school tuition. They spend their days with their parents in the local dump, scavenging for anything that can be sold to earn money to eat. Most don't have proper shelter and parents who neglect their basic needs. Founding an education program or school would empower them with the knowledge and skills to find jobs, go to college, and escape the devastation that generational poverty has brought to their families. Education is KEY to CHANGE for these children. The financial support that we raise will be used on a school building, curriculum, books, and supplies needed to provide these kids the basic education that they need to graduate.

As well, we feel it is our mission to help the parents of these children be the best parents they can be. Many do not work, as they have no education themselves. Anita has already begun a women's ministry that reaches out to the mothers, teaching them the Word of God and helping to teach them a trade skill. The women have been very excited to start a local bakery and begin the process of "earning" money instead of scavenging through trash as a means to support their family. We plan to invest in the spiritual lives of these women, as well as start a men's ministry that focuses on the same things.

We know that Jesus Christ is the only one who can restore, redeem, and rescue and it is our heart's desire to bring our story and that great news to the people of Nicaragua. As we partner with Bethel Mission and other community organizations, we pray that we can reflect the love of Christ by becoming His hands and feet in the lives of so many.

If you or someone you know may be interested in the work that we will be doing and the lives we will be investing in and feel compelled to help, please go to to donate. We would love for you to become a part of our team of support!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Mama's Desperate Plea

Dear God,

Obviously, I love my kids with every little fiber of my being, but I swear to, well……you, actually, that they’re involved in some sort of conspiracy theory to drive me straight to the loony bin.  Seriously, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think they’d bought stock in Crazy Town, which is clearly where I’ll be residing soon enough.  Any potential moment of silence is abruptly interrupted with noises that would make even a deaf man cringe.

Is this some sort of a challenge you’ve assigned to them to see just how much Mommy can take?  Cause I can only imagine that’s why they continue to think that 9 PM is an appropriate time to come into the living room and ask for a drink every friggin’ night.  Have you not heard me screaming “Oh, heck to the NO!!!!” in my Whitney Houston voice every time they come whining down the hall night after night?  I’m kinda at my breaking point here, Big Man.

So if there’s any possible way you would consider diving deep into your backpack of divine interventions, I could seriously use one this week.  My thinking cap is at the dry cleaner’s, my patience is out to lunch, and my sanity went into hiding about five years ago.  Mama needs a break, yo.

May peace be with you (and also with ME!!!!!),

Tell me I'm not the only one praying desperate prayers day after day!? Parenthood can be the most exhausting (and glorious) thing on this earth.  Though we wouldn't trade it in a heart beat, it's okay to be honest with God about how you feel and exactly what kind of help you desire from him. Do you need rest? A mentor? A twenty-minute nap? An extra pair of hands? A babysitter with mad, multi-tasking skills? Someone to encourage you? A moment to PEE in private? ASK GOD.  In my experience, He may not always answer right away, and sometimes not the way that I would like Him to, but He hears every one of our desperate pleas for help. He's there to help you parent in His strength and not yours. This is such a relief! Lord knows that I could never do this parenting gig in my own strength! None of us can.

John 15:5 assures us of this: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

This amazing ministry of parenting is meant to be a partnership.  It's not a solo gig. Let God help you in even the mundane tasks. And in those moments of desperation, know that He hears you.  Now if you'll excuse me, God and I are off to search the house for a missing pacifier. Only HE knows where it could possibly be. . .

How long has it been since you brought God your daily prayers of parenting desperation?  What can you ask Him for help with today?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pause. . .and Rewind

I was laughing yesterday about a status that my cousin had posted on Facebook. It went a little something like this:

"It finally happened tonight. You see posts on facebook, hear people tell stories, but you never really believe it will happen to you, until it does. Tonight, our niece asked us, "What's a cassette?""

Most of the time, I don't quite feel old enough to be a parent. Other times, like this one, I realize that 31 is NOT the new 18 and I have officially been "dated". I remember cassettes. I had about a dozen mixed tapes lining the bookshelf in my room. I used to sit on my bunk bed, writing in my Lisa Frank trapper keeper journal waiting patiently for my favorite song to come on the boom box radio so that I could quickly hit "RECORD". Hours and hours would waste away while I waited and then. . .there it was! I'd hit that record button and dance around my bedroom to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", all the while mimicking the dance moves I had seen on t.v. Over and over and over I could listen to it now that I had my own version on cassette. Ever so often, I'd catch myself getting the choreography all wrong. I'd hit "Pause. . .and Rewind". Needless to say, the "moves" got better and better the second, third, and millionth time around. It was quite a scene. I wish you could all have been there. Really. 

As many times as I've wished that parenthood had a "Pause. . .and Rewind" feature, it's sad to say, I've had to scramble along without one. I would love a "do-over" every once in awhile when my temper and patience is less than stellar. It's because of this, that I've decided to start giving my toddlers a chance to "Pause. . .and Rewind" on almost a daily basis.  Let me set the stage for you:

It's late in the Banana Pants household. I have two sleepy, grumpy little trolls who have somehow prolonged their curfews by 30 minutes. We've had bath times, story times, snack times, and bedtime prayers. "It's time for bed, boys. Let's go."  As I start for the bedroom, one little stinker follows me without argument, blankie in hand, ready to claim his favorite spot on the bunk bed. My oldest little monster stays firmly planted on the couch, hands on his hips, eyebrows furrowed in determination and replies, "NO. IT'S NOT TIME FOR BED. I'M NOT GOING!" Good gracious, the will on this one! Normally, I would have broken out Cruella Deville right about now and given him "what-for" about who was in charge, but instead I say, "Pause. . . .and Rewind what just happened. Let's try again. What did you want to say?"  Somehow, this always makes him smile. "Um. . .", he'll say, realizing he gets a "do-over", "I don't want to go to bed yet." Of course it doesn't change my mind, but somehow it changes our moods and I eventually talk the little grouch into bed. 

The main thing I'm learning in the whole "Pause. . .and Rewind" scenario is that it puts both of us back on the same team. I don't want to compete with him for control every single step of the way. I also want him to understand that everyone needs second chances and that we all make mistakes. Don't get me wrong, this hasn't worked in every situation, but it's really been a good way for me to show my toddlers how much power we have over our words. If you've got a "mouth" at home like my little guy, maybe you should give it a shot!

What are some experiments that you've tried with your little ones that have proven successful? I'd love to hear them!

**This post is a part of a blog-hop link-up shinanigan! Come by and visit my friend Helene In Between to join us!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Your Dreams, Mom!

I always wanted to be a parent. Scratch that. Let me start over.  I always wanted to be an awesome parent; an "epic parent", if you will. I envisioned myself with a houseful of happy kids. We would spend our days playing games together: kickball, Monopoly, charades. We'd have picturesque picnics and host sleepovers and go on epic family vacations we would remember and talk about for the rest of our lives. I would hang on their every words, never sighing or moaning about how much work it was or how much it cost to raise them. I'd try to be as unconventional as possible (unlike the stifled upbringing I thought I suffered from). I'd let them paint murals on their bedroom walls.  I'd say an emphatic "Yes" when they asked to bring any and every kind of pet home. (You want a Saint Bernard? Of course! An iguana? Why not?  A long-haired Clydesdale horse? How exquisite!) The sky would be the limit for my children.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I was determined to do things exponentially different than all the other parents I knew who were doing it so wrong. When I actually became a parent though, I realized real quick that the kind of parenting that I thought I would accomplish was somewhat of a mystical idea. There is no "Perfect Parenting". All these notions I had of raising perfect little humans flew out the window the very first time my three-year-old told me  "In your dreams, Mommy!" when I asked him to give me a nice smile for the camera for the 453rd time on his birthday.  I couldn't expect a picture-perfect three-year-old just like I couldn't expect perfection in parenting.  This realization was a major emotional bummer for me.

In becoming parents, we find that the disappointments, sleep deprivation, and the the basic demands of--you know--being adults tug at the neat seam of our resolve until we find ourselves saying things to our kids that we swore we'd never say.  We do the things we promised we'd never do.  We get caught up in moments of "Go clean your room!" or "How many times have I told you not to wipe poop on the bathroom walls?!" We hold our heads in our hands in disbelief at the amount of times we realize that we've turned completely into our own mothers! (At that point, either we laugh at ourselves and realize there's nothing wrong with that, or we pick up the phone and call a therapist.  Both are perfectly reasonable responses.) The farther into it I go, the more of a mess of it I make. Parenting is difficult. It's a dirty business (especially in my house in the potty-training phase)! It's a constant source of joy, grace, and yes, moments of real exasperation in my life.  Long gone are the dreams of parenting perfection.  But I'm learning the "reality" of parenthood is so much better than anything I could have dreamed up on my own. And lucky me, I'm just getting started.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


We are at war in our house. This time in our family history will someday affectionately be named The Battle of the Wills. Mr. Grouchy Pants is a rather "strong-willed child".  This is a somewhat polite way of saying that he's a bossy, demanding, sometimes exhausting pain in my butt and we are in an almost daily battle for control of our household. As much as I adore him, almost every morning like clockwork we begin another round. You see, Mr. Grouch is a natural born leader and began practicing his skills on our family almost immediately from birth. We are continuously having to reestablish who is boss.

When I'm lucky, my little cutie remains within acceptable boundaries.  His slightly presumptuous personality is rather endearing and often hilarious, then gradually begins his next couple of attempts to rule the roost.  It starts with a little attitude.  Left alone, the attitude morphs into full-blown audacity that leads to the inevitable blow-up--usually mine.

The explosion usually comes with a variation of the same words and resolved emotion:  "Listen to ME, child.  I am your mother. I AM THE BOSS. Not YOU. GOT THAT?!" He will puff out his lip, glare at me with the fiery darts of hell, tell his Daddy on me (who later laughs at our continuous struggle,) sleep on it, and awaken the next morning as gentle as a lamb.  Okay--maybe more like a goat--but the cutest goat you've ever seen.  And we start all over.

My children would probably be glad to know I've had a taste of my own medicine a time or two.  You see, on a far smaller scale, I've been on the other side of the conflict for control.  There are many times in my life that I have forgotten that God is God.  Like Job, in Chapter 38, God has to sometimes give us a fresh reality check when I become a little too presumptuous myself.  He carefully, and sometimes rather sarcastically reestablishes our roles.

Job 38:2, 4, 12, and 21, "Who is this that darkens my plans with words without knowledge?. . .Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand. . .Have YOU ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn it's place?. . .Surely you know, for you were already born!  You have lived so many years!"

If that's not God getting a few jabs in and putting us in our place, I don't know what is!!  God experiences a similar tug-of-war with us as we do with our kids.  He loves us with all of His heart and finds us extremely endearing (attitudes and all).  I'm sure He finds us quite hilarious at times too.  But then our attitudes turn into a struggle to take over control over our own life, God has to say something like, "Who is this that darkens my plans with words without knowledge?"  In other words, he states, "You don't know what you're talking about! I AM THE BOSS."  We can be certain that if our attitudes turn to audacity, He will deal with us the same way that He expects us to deal with our kids, as a loving parent, intent on rearing a respectful child.

I'm trying hard to release control over my little life.  When God asserts his "God-ness" to pull me back into proper bounds, I try not to get my feelings hurt and throw a big fit, but I'll admit, it has happened. Apparently we now know where Mr. Grouchy Pants gets it! I think I'll try a bit harder to return to Him with a fresh meekness, sleep on it, and awaken gentle as a lamb--or maybe a goat--but a really cute one.