Thursday, March 28, 2013

My 3 Best Reads

Let me start by saying that I am failing miserably in this attempt to do a solid 30 Day Blog-A-Thon. I'm pretty sure that ya'll forgive me, but I'm just going to apoligize anyway. I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that I have 65 days until we move to Nicaragua. SIXTY-FIVE, people. I'm just a little-sorta-a-lot freaking out right about now, because I have yet to sell or pack a SINGLE item yet. Procrastination at it's finest. It's a gift, I tell ya. With that said, I will get all 30 days out to you eventually. Not to worry.

Today's prompt is "Your three favorite books". This is a hard one for me because I am SUCH a bookworm,  but I have had to put that hobby on hold for some time now. I've read about 3 books in the last 6 months, and usually in that time, I've knocked out about 20. I heart reading. Everything about it. But mainly getting lost in the lives of someone completely different. Fiction will always be my love, but I've dabbled some more in theology and christian inspiration as of late too. The three books I've chosen as My 3 Best Reads are ones that I recommend wholeheartedly for anyone. Male or female. I'll give you a brief synopsis of each, but really you should just run down the road to the nearest Barnes and Noble and snag them for yourselves. Like, yesterday, because that's how good they are.

Radical by David Platt

If you never listen to another word I ever say, please listen to this. READ. THIS. BOOK. NOW.
I'm not even exaggerating when I say that it is one of the most life-altering, spiritually motivating books I've ever read to date. I just wanted to highlight the entire thing. David Platt is a pastor of a mega-church and his perspective on "taking back your faith from the American Dream" will inspire you in a big way. I read it in it's entirety in a matter of hours.

The Stonewycke Trilogy 
by M. Phillips & J. Pella

Do you enjoy trilogies?? Who doesn't, right? This is all three books in one and I would recommend reading them just that way. When you finish one, immediately start the other. They are truly amazing. It is the saga of forbidden love with a special twist. Generations of one family in search for what's most important in life. Very moving!

Thurston House by Danielle Steel

Thurston House is the fictional tale of a family legacy with deep, dark secrets. It's full of passion, romance, mystery, generational curses, and one house who sees it all. I just ADORE generational sagas and this is one of my all-time favorites. It's a thicker read, but so worth it. You truly fall in love with this family.

There you have it. I have sooooooo many more that I could recommend to you. And I will, because it's my blog and I don't have to limit myself to only three, so I will leave you with a few more "runner's up", if you will. :)


What are YOUR 3 Best Reads??

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Things That Make Me LOL

Today's prompt is "What Makes You Laugh?". This is a tough one to narrow down because I do a lot of laughing on a normal basis. Besides the obvious things that my little monster's say on the daily, there are things that I find online that crack me the heck up on the norm as well. I'm providing examples below of just a few things that have made me LOL lately. If you value sarcasm (as I most certainly do!) and love to giggle, please check out the links that I'm providing and add these characters to your roster of hilariousness. You will thank me later!

"Mommy, why do you and Daddy get to stay up later?" 
"Well, we need quiet, grown-up time to sit in separate rooms and Facebook each other."

Me: "No, you are NOT putting 'Naked pillow fight' on your List of Fun Things to Do Today." Kids: "We'll wear socks!" Me: *SIGH*

I am high as hell on Sudafed. Just in time to get in the minivan and terrorize other motorists. Who said carpool line can't be thrilling?

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." This is especially true if you farted.

Kids are cute until they start asking for seconds of birthday cake before I've had a slice. Forks down and back away from the Funfetti, shorties.

My body is currently twisted into something similar to an ampersand as I have squeezed myself to fit in a toddler bed with one of the girls. Per her request.

Not sure which is more comical: the fact that I came back from taking out the trash to find the 3 yo standing naked on the front steps or the fact that I didn't even bat an eyelash.

DD (my 3-yr-old daughter): "Daddy, wipe my bum!"
Me: "Why can't you wipe your own bum?"
DD: "Ewww. I don't want to touch my poo."

Just brought the fish bowl upstairs to bed because I was afraid he was too cold downstairs. Related: I'm losing my mind.

And in related LOL news, here are just a few of the moments throughout my own week with family that have cracked me up. The hilarity abounds here in the Banana Pants household:

One second I'm all, "He's getting so big and so smart," and the next second he's shooting himself in the face with the spray-on Febreeze.

"Moooom, I love you but I really just need some space right now." My 6-year-old is delusional.

Fact: Married people cut their toenails less frequently than their single counterparts as to have weapons during blanket-stealing warfare.

"Mom, school's so's taking up so much of my day it doesn't leave any time for me to play XBox....maybe I should stop going." 
"Bud, the things that are most important take up the most of your day. School is more important than XBox."
Noah sighs heavily. "Who decided on that? They must be really boring."

Shed some light on what makes YOU LOL?? I would love to add some more moments of hilarity to my day! Happy Tuesday, amigos/as!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Day in the Life. . .

1.  8:00 AM- Morning coffee and devotional. I do this every morning (given the monsters don't wake up before me). I think it's important to focus my day on what's most important to me. :)

2.  9:00 AM- This little lady entertains me every morning with her constant persistings to get me outside. Aren't her little bows adorable?!

3.  10:00 AM- I am really tired of this little coffee smuggler stealing my goodness in the morning, so today, he got his own. 1/2 coffee, 1/2 milk. :)

4.  11:00 AM- Getting out snuggle on as we watch some Dora. 

5.  NOON- Feeding the fish. We have a bunch of community fish and we've named them all: Ibaka, Merida, Goldie Hahn, Bob, Roger, Gnat 1, Gnat 2, Gnat 3, Tiny, Teeny, Itty, & Bitty. 

6.  1:00 PM- Watching the littles take-over the YMCA splash park. Spring Break water fun, even though it's a chilly 40 degrees here in Oklahoma. 

7.  2:00 PM- When I really need to catch up on some Facebooking, I let the addicts at their obsession. A little XBox Lego Batman always does the trick!

8.  3:00 PM- There's a perk to Daddy working at home. We get some graphic design classes! 
9.  5:00 PM- Sunset on my way to the grocery store. 

10.  6:00 PM- Wresting with Daddy before dinner time. Our house is never more loud than it is when all three boys turn the tv off and get in "attack mode". I try to stay out of it as much as possible. :)

11.  7:00 PM- DINNERTIME! Black beans, rice, guacamole, and cheese burritos!

12.  8:00 PM- Bedtime for the monsters! We like to do "Favorites" as we crawl into bed at night before we say prayers. Both boys like reciting what their favorite moments of the day are. . ."My favorite part was when I splashed you in your clothes!" says Micah. Yes, dude. that was surely my favorite part too. 
13.  9:00 PM- This is the part where I check back in with them and make sure they are not becoming insomniacs like their parents. Thankfully, tonight, they actually look peaceful. 

14.  10:00 PM- Time to settle in and get a little blogging done. 

15.  11:00 PM- A little self-portrait. Without a mustache. Shocker, I know. :)

16.  MIDNIGHT- Forgot to lock the car, so I stepped back outside. I have a thing about observing the moon. . .definitely one of the most "romantic" moments of each day. 

There you have it. My day in photos. Let's see yours??

Friday, March 22, 2013

Where Does Inspiration Come From??


Tell me if you have not found this to be true. We speak, we behave, we produce, we write out of abundance. Whatever is stirring around inside us and decides to overflow.

I can say that there have been many times in my life that I have gotten my inspiration out of an abundance of negativity. There have been phases of pessimism, depression, drama, and anxiety in my life and my writing has reflected that. So many of the best songs written out there have been written out of an abundance of heartbreak and loss. (Just ask Taylor Swift!)  There have been amazing novels and songs and poems throughout history that have been written from an abundance of feelings of love and devotion and romance. I think it's safe to say that if you have no abundance, you come up rather dry when you try to write, speak, or produce something inspired. We operate out of an overflow.

". . .For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (or thinks, or writes, or acts, etc)" Luke 6:45

For me, though I have been through many moments of heartache and depression, (and have definitely written about them), for the most part, the abundance that my inspiration comes from nowadays takes on a very new shape. I write and speak out of an overflow of love and grace and sympathy. That's the hand that I've been dealt as of late, and all are emotions that spill  out into the things that I produce (as well as sarcasm and humor, of course!). I've had to learn how to create that abundance in my life and there have been times when that hasn't been easy. In the same way that drama begets more drama; joy produces more joy. I'm learning this. The process is a conscious decision every day.

I'm not saying that inspiration shouldn't ever come from moments of darkness and depression; that negativity cannot ever be used for change. I know that the moments in my life that have dark undertones remind me and others that life has many phases. Expression from places of heartache and anxiety and stress can make us "relate-able" and spur change and growth in other people. Every moment of our lives can be used to inspire and encourage others.

As I ramble this post out, just know that it comes from an abundance of freedom and growth. This blog has evolved from merely a place for me to vent about the happenings of living a life with two toddler boys, into something a whole lot more special to me. It's a place where I write out of an abundance of understanding for other parent's and their struggles on the same journey as me. I'm full of love for my little people, full of an appreciation for all that God has brought our little family through in the last year, and full of joy that though this parenting road is hard, there's hope and help along the way. There are others out there who can inspire us when we feel like our wells are drying up. I know there have been many moments in life that I have needed that connection and I hope that I can write out of an overflow of relateability and understanding. God has helped me out of a deep pit. In parenting and life. He's spoken words of restoration and grace and sympathy and He's encouraged me to use the abundance of those gifts to share here. If you enjoy a bit of humor and sarcasm, great. I've got an abundance of that for you! If you need encouragement and a tad more joy in your life, I'm operating on an overflow of that as well! Experience and an abundance of love and life. That's where my inspiration comes from.

What about you??  Where does your inspiration come from??

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Best Things In Life. . .Aren't Free

Rather, I think they involve a lot of UMPH! and hard work. I've learned this lesson the hard way time and time again, and I'm learning it as we speak.

In health for example, I'm learning that the best things in life come with a lot of self-control and determination. I've devoted my last 74 days in the USA to remedying my health, which has been on a downhill spiral for years. Having kids has done some definite damage to my natural stamina! I haven't been in the gym on a consistent basis in years. Now 30 pounds overweight, I'm trying to undo the addiction to laziness I've acquired. It's no fun! I look at all these skinny chicas at the gym with envy. . .these mom's of four who run around in their size 2 pants and teach cheerleading and dance and zumba and eat organic crock pot meals every night. I'm exhausted just watching them! But I know that they have probably worn themselves out and put in a TON of hard work and they have finally reached the pay-off. I'm hoping to be there one day. For now, I strap on my New Balance sneakers once a day and hop on the elliptical. I down another protein shake instead of stopping at the drive-through, and trust that the "best bods" in life aren't free. . .but acquired slowly. I'll get there someday.

In relationships, the best things in life require a continuous investment as well. I've learned this lesson most in my marriage. For those of you who have been around lately, you are aware that my now AMAZING marriage was once in desperate ruin. You can read all about the past and how we came out of a life of infidelity HERE (Our Story: Coming Clean).  We spent the better part of 7 years not investing time, energy, and attention in what should have been the most important relationship in our life. The results were devastating. We've come a long way and we certainly don't have it all figured out, but we are finally in a place where we understand that "the best marriages" in life are hard work. They don't just happen by chance. Like anything else that thrives, they are nurtured, planned, and attended to on a regular basis. I would encourage all of my friends and acquaintances to do maintenance on their marriage daily. The pay-off is worth more than you can imagine!

I know that this phrase "The Best Things In Life. . .Aren't Free" is true in so many instances. In careers, in hobbies and developed skills, in love, in spiritual growth, in almost every area of life, it rings true. I wish it didn't take me 31 years to finally accept this truth, but I'm glad I finally figured it out! What about you?? Are the best things in life FREE. . .or costly?? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

30 Random Facts About Miss Banana Pants

1.  I love lists. Truly. I could make this 100 Random Facts About Tennis Shoes and get way into it. Lists are fun.

2.  The blog name "Miss Banana Pants" came from my son's very first attempt at joke-telling. It's always been a phrase in our house that cracks us up and makes us smile.

3.  Though I threaten weekly to sell them both on ebay, I absolutely love everything about being a mom. Except for the poop. I could totally do without the poop.

4.  We have a dog named Pepper Potts (after Iron Man's girlfriend), but I'm actually more of a cat lover. They aren't usually "lickers" and I absolutely DESPISE "lickers".

5.  I could eat Mexican food every single day for the rest of my life and be happy. It's all about the queso, really.

6.  We are moving to a third-world country in 76 days. I am BEYOND pumped and extremely scared at the same time. We will be full-time missionaries in Nicaragua starting May 31st.

7.  I love to put syrup on my scrambled eggs. Weird, I know. There was this one time at IHOP when my pancake syrup drenched my eggs by accident. I fell in love and never went back.

8.  From the time I was in 3rd grade to the time I was in 12th grade, I read 100+ books a year. I have the trophies to prove it. I've always been an enormous bookworm.

9.  I am friends with two of my husband's ex-girlfriends. Is that strange?? I just really think they are awesome chicks.

10.  I have an extreme aversion to deli meat. I can't eat any of it that has "edges". Weirds me the heck out.

11.  I believe I love superhero movies (Avengers, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, etc) more than my sons. And anyone that knows them, knows how unbelievable that is.

12.  When the hubs and I get an evening to ourselves, you know what we like to do more than anything?? NAP. We nap so hard.

13.  I'm addicted to reality television. Don't judge.

14.  I've always wanted to go into the family business. My dad is a hairstylist (a straight one, though that's rare.). Once, he even cut Jon Bon Jovi's hair.

15.  I'm a recovering shop-a-holic. I cannot be left to my own devices in a mall. It's too much pressure.

16.  I've been known to curl up on the couch when the children are not even home and watch a few episodes of Phineas and Ferb or iCarly.

17.  I'm a member of the first graduating class of the year 2000. I'm glad I took kindergarten twice.

18.  I'm currently reading through the Bible chronologically. I never knew how much of a soap opera it was until now. Brothers killing each other, stealing inheritances, prostitutes turning into spies, widows marrying family members. It's like Bachelor meets Dallas meets Duck Dynasty over here. I'm hooked.

19.  I've taken up running and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment when I finish, but I ABHOR everything else about it. It's hard. I don't like "hard".

20.  I'm NOT a neat freak. My poor husband had no idea when he married me just how horrible of a housewife he was getting. I'm pretty sure I haven't cleaned my back bathroom in a year.

21.  "I love Jesus, but I drink a little." (If anyone can tell me where that quote is from, you're my new favorite person. But it's true of me too.)

22.  I'm the oldest of three children. I definitely suffer from oldest child syndrome. I'm bossy and independant and controlling. My little sis and bro have never appreciated these attributes. I love them anyway.

23.  I wait until we have no clean towels before I do laundry. And I'd honestly rather just go to Wal-Mart and buy new towels.

24.  I'm a sucker for social experiments. Hence the 30 Day Blog-A-Thon. And you can click above on the tab "Simplifying Life" for another one.

25.  In trying to talk my now husband into a first kiss, I believe I used the words, "I'll make you a deal. . .". He had no idea what he was signing up for.

26.  I have a handfull of friends who I've known for almost 15 years. They are like sisters to me. No matter the distance, we will always be close.

27.  I can throw a football better than most men.

28.  My mom is my best friend. I've always wanted a daughter to carry on the legacy. We're still working on the husband for that one.

29.  I've written two children's books that I have yet to publish. I need to get right on that already.

30.  I take naps almost every day. I'm pretty sure every time I lay down with my youngest, I'm out cold way before he is. I've GOT to stop staying up until 2 a.m. every night. .  .

There you have it. 30 Random Facts About Me. Is anything surprising to you? I'd love to hear your feedback or read YOUR post of random facts. Link up in the comments below! The world is a better place because of all of our quirks and differences! Share some of yours. . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

As If I'm Not Honest Enough Already. . .

I sat down yesterday and went back over some of Miss Banana Pant's "Most Popular Blog Posts", I realized something. People really love transparency. It seems the things people appreciate most are the more "in-the-trenches-of-life" stuff.  I focus so much on parenting and life lessons, and I think they are valuable. Everyone needs a little humor and sarcasm to get us through the struggles of parenthood. There is so much more "behind-the-blogger", so-to-speak that I've never revealed. The next 30 days, I intend to remedy that little problem. I'm diving into the magical world of "blogging challenges". I'm rather impulsive like that. I've seen this little project on other blogs before and thought to myself, Why not? I've not attempted this before, and may royally screw it up, but it's worth it to me to reveal some other facets of my personality and get some things off my chest. Because I'm not very good at following directions (and I'm a bit of a control freak), I've made up my own list of blog post topics for the next 30 days. I would LOVE it if some of you would follow suit and take up this challenge as well! We can reveal our quirks together! Here is the list of prompts for the 30-Day Blog-A-Thon:

1. 30 Random Facts About Yourself. 
2. The Best Things in Life Are. . .
3. Where Does Inspiration Come From?
4. A Day in The Life. . .In Photos
5. What Makes You Laugh?
6. 3 Favorite Books 
7. A Few Pet Peeves
8. If I Were to Write a Book. . .
9. 3 Vivid Childhood Memories
10. My Bucket List
11. A Family Portrait
12. Quotes That Mean A Lot to Me
13. What Would Be My Dream Job?
14. What I Ate Today
15. What Makes You Cry?
16. Top 3 Strengths and Weaknesses
17. Something You Miss
18. Top 5 Hobbies
19. A Turning Point in Your Life
20. They Taught Me About. . .(Influential People)
21. A Letter to a Friend
22. On Health, Wealth, and Happiness. . .
23. On Marriage. . .
24. If You Lived in My House. . .
25. 10 Current Obsessions
26. When Life Hands You Lemons. . .(On Hardship)
27. 3 People You Admire
28. What Parenting Has Taught Me Most
29. These Are My Confessions. . .
30. I'm Most Passionate About. . .

I'm really excited to get started tomorrow! I hope that by the end of this all, you won't run screaming for the hills. :)  I also hope you'll share some of your answers in the comments. I adore hearing your feedback and encouragement! Let's get this party started, shall we?? Who's in??

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Liar, Liar. . .Pants On Fire

As I looked my kindergartner in the face and asked him if he had any homework for the third time since we'd walked in the house after school, he stared back at me with a face I'd seen all too often. Blank, shocked, and searching. . ."Nope." he replied and I hung my head in disappointment. He KNEW he had homework. He KNEW he was lying. He KNEW there would be consequences, but he did it anyway.

The last time I'd seen that look was in the mirror. I stood in the bathroom, brushing my teeth as my husband casually asked if we'd paid the phone bill yet. There was the face! Blank, shocked, and searching. . ."Yep." I replied, thinking I've GOT to pay that today!  I knew I hadn't done it yet. I knew I was lying, but I did it anyway.

How often do we demonstrate the kind of honesty that we demand from our kids? How many times have we "fibbed" to our spouse about how much we've spent at the store, to the officer who stopped us speeding on the highway, to our pastor, mother, aunt, best friend about how we are really doing?  It's a good thing that liars pants really don't catch on fire, because we'd all be walking around in flames!

I've had to come clean with my little man about the generational curse of lying and how it affects all of us. The only thing that has impacted his tendency for "fibbing" is the understanding that it is also something that mommy and daddy struggle with as well. We are all prone to protect our reputations, giving a good impression, and living lives that are laden with silly,petty untruths because our biggest flaw in life since the beginning of time is the need to be successful. We hate for anyone to know that we've failed. . .so we lie. We cover up all the blemishes and behaviors that we don't like about ourselves in hopes that people will only see what we want them to see. The problem is, God sees the dirt.

We are slowly learning in our family that honesty really is the best policy. Even when it's not pretty. Even if it means that we didn't do our homework and we completely forgot to pay the phone bill. My bet is that all kids learn best when they can see OUR mistakes. Admitting when we failed, when we forgot, when we've lied. When we as parents live transparently, we send the message to our children that it's okay to not be perfect. There's no need to hide. There's no need to lie. But there is a definite need for TRUTH.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dump and Flush

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that most of us are not big fans of public restrooms.  There’s the whole ick factor of a peed- upon seat or a toilet bowl full of skid marks, and there’s also the embarrassment that goes along with doing your business in the presence of others.  Sometimes you get the little old lady playing a symphony of farts in the stall next to you, and sometimes you don’t realize the lock is broken on your stall door until someone barges right in on you mid-stream.  However, none of this quite compares to the awkwardness that can result from a single person restroom.

I’m sure y’all know just what I mean too.  You’re waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting to get into the loo, and when the person in there FINALLY emerges, he/she has dropped a MASSIVE stink bomb in the joint.  We’re talkin’ a poo delivery so big that it would likely result in a poop coma afterwards and require all future bathroom visitors to wear a gas mask upon entering.  It is then that you’re forced to decide if you can hold your breath and get in and out of there as fast as humanly possible or if you should just cross your legs and wait for a less polluted peeing environment.

And if you do decide to bite the bullet and enter at your own risk, you then take the chance of someone waiting for you to get out and automatically assuming that YOU are the one responsible for the stench of death.  Then what do you do?  Do you try like heck not to make eye contact and beeline outta there?  Or do you address the elephant in the room and defend yourself?

I was faced with this very same dilemma just this week.  It was during one of the bi-weekly visits to Mother's Day Out in which I was early (shocking, I know) and confronted with the prospect of taking time to go pee before I picked up the little monster.  Upon my arrival, I noticed someone before me had completely tainted any bit of clean air that had once existed in the single person restroom.  I somehow managed to choke my way through a rather unpleasant situation, only to find someone else waiting to use the same contaminated potty that I’d just been tortured to use.  However, I was not about to be blamed for it, so I just came right out and said, “I am NOT the one responsible for the smell of booty in there.“  Of course I’ll never know whether or not the other mom actually believed me, but I felt that I owed it to my reputation to at least try to stick up for myself.

So what have we learned from this little rant here today?  1. It’s important to practice holding your breath for long periods of time.  2. Carry room deodorizer with you at all times.  3. If you absolutely MUST make a deposit to a public porcelain bank, dump and flush repeatedly!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the encouragement and comforting words that have been spoken about our "coming out" with Our Story of brokenness and redemption that we shared just weeks ago. We knew that the subject of infidelity was one that not many talked about, but so many have experienced in some form or another. I've been overwhelmed by the emails and text messages and voicemails left by friends and family members confessing that they too have walked a similar difficult road. The fact that they were so moved by God's miracle in our life makes the decision to come clean with the public so much more rewarding. We knew it could bring God glory, and that's what made us decide to finally share. We are so thankful for the ways in which your words have ministered to our hearts since Our Story published. We pray that we will continue to be a walking testimony to the love and grace that God can give to people who hold nothing back from Him.

We are still, to this day being mended by His Hands.

Have you ever taken a pottery class? It's something I've wanted to do ever since I saw the movie "Ghost" with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. Okay, aside from the romantic and steamy moments that the pottery scene highlighted, there has always been something inside of me that desired to make a jar or vase with my own hands. Like an artist, slowly and meticulously forming a piece that is perfect in every way, to the potter alone. I'd love to do this while listening to "Jars of Clay" on repeat. Maybe that would make the moment even more magical. Or maybe that would just make me cheesy. . .Either way, I love looking at life through the eyes of an artist and his masterpiece. Jeremiah 18:2-6 paints such a glorious picture of this exact scenario:

"Arise, and do down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words." So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, working at his wheel.  And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.  Then the word of the Lord came to me: "O house of Isreal, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declaires the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Isreal." 

I'm reminded again, and I feel compelled to remind each one of you that we are all that vessel. God reworks us, even though we are spoiled, into a new vessel, one that He can use for His purposes. Sometimes we need some "reworking" and revamping and sifting. We've all had times in our lives when we have had to be reformed back into the image of Christ because we have spoiled His plans for us by our own selfish choices.

If you're anything like Bryan and I, you have also felt, at some time or another that your jar has not only "spoiled", but rather been completely and utterly shattered. We lay in ruins on the concrete with way too many pieces to ever be put back together again. A year ago, this is exactly how we felt. This may be how you feel. I pray that you can recognize that God can and will be able to use any and every jar that desires to be used. He can put back together the shattered pieces of a broken marriage, a fractured relationship with a family member, a crushed dream for the future. He can take all those shawrds and glue them back together and use a vessel with as many cracks as we have dealt Him. No situation, no bad decision, no poor judgement call, or no all-out rebellious lifestyle can keep Him from mending a jar we have determined to destroy. In fact, I truly believe, He likes us better with cracks.

You see, you fill a jar up that is laden with cracks and holes and God's love seems to seep out so much more efficiently. He designed us vessels this way. To pour out His glory on in everything we do. We may not be able to use the spout any longer, but He can use each and every crack to shine through, to leak out His message of grace and redemption. Broken jars like us still have a purpose. We may get mad at all the little imperfections, all the years wasted on things that didn't matter, all the gaping holes where we should be smooth.  I hope you can realize today what took me years to resolve. God accepts us just as we are. He loves the gaps that we're ashamed of, and He adores the cracks that we've allowed Him to mend. . .It's in those cracks that lies the potential for more of Himself to be revealed in us. We are whole and valuable vessels. Beautifully flawed and leaking His glory.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Next to THAT Mom, I Think I'm Doing Pretty Well. . .

Just look at her. . .hair perfectly colored and styled, high heels on at 7:30 a.m. . .nails french-manicured, expresso in hand, and EARLY to drop her equally perfect daughter off in the daycare line. How in the world does she do it?! I can barely throw my hair in a ponytail, rush out the door without make-up and in the same oversized sweatshirt I probably wore yesterday to carpool. . .when will I have a life like HERS?! When will I have it all together, God?!

So many of us struggle in this area. Constant Comparisons. Theodore Roosevelt said it best, "Comparison is the theif of joy".  Isn't it though?! It causes us to feel awkward, unworthy, and simply "not enough". For some reason, we just can't help comparing ourselves to other parents who look like they have it more "all together" than we feel that we do. Why do we do this to ourselves?!

If I were to be really honest, I would tell you that in the above description, I have been BOTH of those moms. The one who felt less-than-adequate next to Miss Perfect Parent in the carpool line, disheveled and exhausted (and looking the part, I assure you!). This is the mom that I find myself being on a fairly regular basis nowadays. I stay at home with a three-year-old escape artist while the kindergartner is in school. I bake cookies for the class parties, only to rush in late, poorly dressed, and feeling like I'm not bringing as much to the "mothering table" as the fellow moms at the party. The truth is, I've spent the better part of my day child-wrangling, house-cleaning, and tackling laundry while dancing around the kitchen braless to praise music with my toddler. But in moments out, moments when I'm in contact with the "Perfect-Parents-Who-Have-It-All-Together", I feel like I'm missing something. . .Like I should have my shiz a bit more together. Little do we know that Miss Perfect Parent has their own insecurities.

You see, I've been the "Perfect-Parent-Who-Has-It-All-Together" before too. And boy, were looks decieving! While I donned my high heels at drop-off, smiled a perfectly whitened smile, and looked like I had all my ducks in a row, my life was crumbling around me. I had a marriage in shambles, a job of two years that had landed me in unemployment land, and kids who would JUST NOT cooperate with my need for "quiet time" in months. Yet every morning, "dressing" as if I had it all-together was the ONLY THING that was holding me together. I looked at the mom with a smile on her face in the carpool line, with sweat pants on and kids looking "less-than-perfect" and wished for once that I'd have the confidence to be "real" with everyone someday.

We never know the struggles someone else is facing. We never know what kind of life the world has dealt a person. The only thing we can be sure of is that God is the Provider of Joy and it's only in Him that we can "be enough" when we feel as if we don't measure up. He sees past the 2-day-worn sweatshirt or hot pink high heels and Chanel sunglasses and deems us WORTHY. There's only ONE "Perfect Parent" and it's not any of us. He's invested daily in helping us become the best parents that we can be with His help. We may not look the way we envisioned and we may struggle with comparing ourselves to the parent next door, but we can have confidence in the fact that as long as we are honest with God and honest with others, we are doing the best job possible. Parenting doesn't always LOOK a certain way. It's messy and exhausting and joyful and confusing and and frustrating and overwhelmingly rewarding. Depending on the moment, your hair may be styled or disheveled, that doesn't reflect how much or how little God is using your ministry of parenthood to raise the next generation. Let's smile and nod in appreciation at the nearest mom or dad and let them know we see them, acknowledge their hard work, and are all in this business of parenting together.