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Thursday, January 9, 2014


I spend a lot of time thinking up brilliant things. Seriously. Stop laughing.

I have thought to myself more than once, "self, you should really be a millionaire by now with all of your fantastic dreams and visions and ideas and inventions." Then I realize (thanks, mainly, to Google searches) that I will not be a millionaire from said ideas. Because someone else already is. I missed my corner on the market by thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat much.


I swear I invented the Sham-wow. Long ago I thought to myself, "self, wouldn't it be fabulous if there was a cloth SO absorbent that it could clean up virtually any mess and leave behind no residue?" Then, lo and behold, during my HGTV marathon one evening many years back, the Sham-wow graced my television screen, leaving me speechless (and some other dude mega-rich).

I am also pretty sure I invented the spork when I was four. I remember wanting to tape my spoon and my fork together to make something my mother had cooked easier to eat. Genius! Not long after that my family visited a local Kentucky Fried Chicken and what did they include with our meal but this:

Jerks. And, for the record, I would have totally called it a foon. It's shorter and more to the point(s).

I feel the need to pause for moment to offer a brief disclaimer. Things I did not invent (whether in my mind or in reality), for the sake of my reputation, are the following:

I wonder if they make a boxer variety...?

For all those times when regular water makes you fat.

Isn't this what foggy glass is for?

If you're too lazy to make a fresh PB&J, well, I'm just speechless. There are no words.

This is a Kitty Wig. It's available online for people who want to 
achieve the maximum level of weirdness as cat owners.

The Shake Weight. Why? Just...why?

I think before I ever invented anything, I would have to ask myself, "self, is this product something that could ever be the subject of a parody on Saturday Night Live?" If the answer is yes, the idea will be 100% disregarded. If the answer is no, then it's probably already invented and someone else is filthy rich.

Ok, silliness aside, I must make a confession. If I could have invented anything in the world, anything at all (besides cures for AIDS and cancer, and free ways to purify water globally, and a robot to do all of my housecleaning), I would have created Spanx. You know what I'm talking about. You probably have a pair of them in your undergarments drawer, right next to your Handerpants (see above). They are, simply put, the greatest of all inventions, ever.

With Spanx, clothes fit differently. Lumps are replaced with perfect and soft feminine curves. A woman feels confident and empowered when she wears Spanx because she knows that no one is going to be staring at her granny-panty line. They cover every flaw and allow women to appear virtually perfect.

I have three kids and they were all born within three and a half years of each other. Spanx are sometimes literally the only way I can fit in my clothes. If you'll look below, you'll see the amazing magic of Spanx:

(before Spanx)
(after Spanx)

See what I mean?! Even Kim K. wears them.

There's something to the idea of smoothing over our flaws, though, isn't there? As women in the 21st century, it has become completely unacceptable to be imperfect. We must all fit like gloves in our designer jeans, must look put together even when we've "just thrown on" our perfectly-color-coordinated fitness gear, must actually then exercise and be fit, must be on every PTA board and party-planning committee to show that we are the picture-perfect and uber-involved mom, must have life-changing ministry oozing from our fingertips...I think you get the picture.

Don't get me wrong - every woman I know, myself included, is quick to point out her shortcomings. The funny thing is, though, that even our shortcomings have been created and then smoothed over to appear "acceptable."
"Oh, I'm just too overcommitted! I keep telling myself that I have to learn to say no to some things, but I always end up scheduling myself crazy," says the mom with a frantic pace of life (translation: I'm too busy but also extremely needed)
"I have got to start back on Weight Watchers. Christmas totally did me in," says the 120-pound mom with a knock-out body. (translation: I let myself each a slice of pie on Christmas)
"I am not a public speaker; I have no idea why they let me teach a Bible study!" (translation: I teach a Bible study)
We allow ourselves to share our inadequacies so we appear vulnerable, yet oftentimes our inadequacies are nothing more than our boastings covered up in humble words, which means we are nowhere near truly being vulnerable. We allow ourselves to appear just imperfect enough to be human, and then we reign it back in and throw some Spanx on our lives so we appear smoothed out in all the right places.

I. Hate. This.

I am looking for real. I am looking for vulnerable. I am looking for messy, for lumpy, for the granny-panty lines in life. I want to shout it from the rooftops that you're not, that I'm not, fooling anyone with the so-slightly-imperfect-that-we're-clearly-perfect facades. I want to go deep with women who know me. Not just know about me, but know me. I want to know them. I want to know that they don't have all their junk together, because I sure don't, and that we can be messy together.

I am not looking for people who have Spanx for every day of the week. I am looking for this:

I want to celebrate the things I do right and I want to share the things I do wrong, all in hopes that by doing life in a real way with real women, I will grow. I want to be better. I want to be refined, to look more like Jesus. How can I learn to look more like Him if I pretend like I already do?

I want to be spurred on toward holiness by women who understand what it means to be unholy. I want to run to the foot of the cross with women who understand the desperate need we all have for a merciful, forgiving Savior, a God who meets us where we are and as we are, not as we should be. 

Community for Christian women must begin with women who are willing to be real. 

I'll go first.

I overeat. I shouldn't, but I do, and now I am paying for it with my "baby weight (2 years post-baby)." I am prone to gossiping. I try to guard my tongue but there are moments when it just doesn't happen. I can be super-selfish when it comes to my husband and children. Sometimes I really don't care what they want because all that matters to me in the moment is what I want.

I can go on and on, trust me. I hate those things about myself. Yet I need to share those things with women who care for me so that they can know me and so that we can walk this Christian life together. We weren't meant to walk alone, but neither were we meant to walk wearing spiritual Spanx.

I love what 1 John 1 says about this:
"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
These verses are an invitation - no, an admonishment - to grab the nearest pair of scissors and go to town cutting up our spiritual Spanx! Fellowship, with our Heavenly Father and with each other, comes by walking in the light. Confessing our brokenness. Sharing our failures. Rejoicing in our weaknesses as reminders of our desperate need for a Savior.

This is the kind of fellowship, the kind of woman, I want to do life with.

So...will you go grab your scissors and join me?

One more thing, while you're cutting. I also wish I had invented this (if you don't understand why, you can refer to the previous blog post):

Joke or no joke, whoever invented this onesie should be a millionaire.

Feel free to laugh!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Not Expired Yet

So, I could pretend right now that I am super-excited about 2014. That I started it with a bang. That I, as so many of my friends on social media appear to have done, went to the gym, restocked my kitchen, paid my bills, and cleaned my house with a toothbrush, and all before noon! I could pretend that I am giddy over another year of 365 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to prepare, and at least 2000 invigorating opportunities to sweep my kitchen floor. That I'm not worried about our family finances in the least, and that I haven't been out of work for the past several months. I could pretend that I'm feeling uber-self-disciplined, that I'm oh-so-positive that I will FINALLY lose the 25...scratch that...35 pounds of baby weight that I've been carrying around for the last couple of years. *side note: can I still refer to it as "baby weight" when my baby is two-and-a-half?*

I could pretend.

But I'm not going to pretend, because to pretend would be to put on that life is always perfect, always pretty, always manageable, always fun. And it's not.

I'm not trying to be a Debby-Downer here, but if your life looks exactly as I described above, then:
a: you're in for a sad reality check
b: you're delusional
c: you're some crazy cross-breed of Martha Stewart, Jillian Michaels, and Mrs. Brady (and that means you're probably pretty offense, just stating the obvious)
My day today, January 1, 2014, looked something like this:

8:00am - I woke up to my six-year-old poking me in the face with her finger, asking me to get up and get her some juice. Let me count my blessings by acknowledging that I slept in. Now, let me explain the rage that fills my soul when someone wakes me up by poking me in the face. 

8:05am - I stumbled to the kitchen to prepare juice for my precious little ones, only to find that we were all out, very probably because I haven't been to the grocery store in nine days. Commence the weeping and moaning over the lack of juice and the outrage over being served WATER in their sippy cups (this is what we refer to as a first-world problem).

8:30am - I swept the kitchen floor.

9:00am - I started the first of 9 loads of laundry. Yes, nine. I have been putting it off for a couple of days. Now I'm regretting that decision.

9:05am - I swept the kitchen floor.

10:00am - I tried to get my kids to go play outside in the 35-degree weather because "it'll be fun!" Translation: please go outside and play so I can hear myself think for 5 minutes. This began the process of kids running in and out and in and out and in and out and leaving the back door wide open. every. single. time.

10:30am - I swept the kitchen floor.

10:35am - My children declared themselves "STARVING" and needed a snack. Reminder: I haven't been to the grocery store in nine days. I come up with some stale crackers and Peter Pan peanut butter, so I make crackers. They inhale most of them, and the rest fall as crumbs guessed it...the kitchen floor!

10:40am - I swept the kitchen floor.

10:45am - I change the laundry over.

11:30am - The kids were ready for lunch (you'd think they look like Jabba the Hut with how much they eat, but they don't). I made them the only thing I could scrounge up...frozen chicken nuggets and tater tots. They eat the nuggets and then say they don't like tater tots. I think the earth stood still in that moment. Who on God's green earth DOESN'T LIKE TOTS?

12:00pm - I swept the kitchen floor.

And so on, and so forth. 

And now here it is, 6:45pm, and I sit in Starbucks listening to Jazz music and venting about my frustrating start to 2014. 

This is reality. And yet, I didn't expect anything more. Because this is life. Some days are grand. Some days I feel like I can move mountains. Some days I think I can conquer the world, parenting, the gym, and the devil himself, all at one time. Other days, I find myself exhausted by the monotony of motherhood, wondering if this is my new normal. Some days I feel like my best days are ahead of me. Other days, I feel old. 

Some days I am inspired. Other days I feel expired.

Good thing God's plans for my life and His sovereignty isn't based upon how I FEEL. At any given moment I can experience a myriad of emotions. Some ups, some downs. Sometimes I'm encouraged, other times I'm depressed. But God never changes. And He's still writing the beautiful story of my life, every day, page by page, whether I "feel" like He is or not. 

The same is true for you.

If we lived our lives based on how we feel, we'd be in a sad state, wouldn't we? We're emotional, irrational creatures, especially those of us who are moms. My hormones are so jacked up I don't know if they'll ever be back to normal (thank you, children). We run on little sleep and hectic schedules. We don't always feel like we're living a storybook life.

But we are, because HE is writing our stories. HE is the author of our beautiful dramas, highlighted by touches of comedy and the most passionate love story ever conceived. He sees beauty in the ordinary, and He knows what's coming in the chapters ahead. He's not finished writing. 

Even when we feel old, we're still fresh to Him. Even when we feel used up, He sees new adventures coming our way. Even when we feel frumpy, He finds us beautiful. 

He is not finished. He's just not.

So today, I'm not going to pretend that it's been a fabulous day. I'm not going to pretend that I have all my ducks in a row, that I'm supermom, that I have all my junk together. I don't. 

Instead, I am going to cling to Him. I am going to hold Him to His word, that my steps are ordered by the One who made me (Psalm 37:23). I am going to trust that I will hear Him speak and direct me, even when life seems overwhelmingly noisy (Isaiah 30:21). I am going to believe Him for the wisdom He's offered to me (James 1:5). I am going to hold to Him as my Rock and my Fortress, in the good times and in the bad (Psalm 31:3).

And all the while, I will be sweeping my kitchen. Again, and again, and again, and...well, you get it. Because no matter how often I feel like it, I'm not expired yet.