together is better

two boys. one ball. total chaos

my guys are outside playing basketball.

thing 1 is trying to teach thing 2 how to shoot.

it’s complete chaos.  there is a clear breakdown of communication, and the entire lesson lasts less than 2 minutes.

the basketball lesson morphs into a sing along of,  “toot tooty tooty, that’s what my baby says, toot tooty tooty” —  a nonsensical song full of toot sounds, silly dance moves, and genuine boy giggles.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-- these feet mean b-ball business

the song and dance break lasts another 2 minutes.  this stops long enough for the boys to grab their monster feet slippers — clearly, basketball is better in monster feet.

thing 1 tries to get back to business with a lesson on pivots and dribbling.

i hear thing 1 saying things like, “dribble, dribble, dribble, pivot, jump, and score.”  while thing 2 dances around and asks big brother to try to hit the frisbee he’s holding as a shield in front of his face.  obviously, thing 2 is a pro in the making.

but, then, something sweet happens… they start playing TOGETHER.

i get to watch thing 1 let baby brother “steal” the ball, drive to the basket, and shoot as many times as it takes for him to make 2 points.  then the hubs and i hear thing 2‘s little voice cry out, “I’M THE WINNER!  I GET THE TROPHY!” he’s got huge grin on his face waving his trophy in the air–  which is just the frisbee used a few minutes ago as a shield.  big brother is singing, “go, bear, go!!!”

SOOOOOOOO.great.for.my.heart.

i’m writing this brief, insignificant moment down, so i remember.  when this moment passes, and the boys begin to bicker over who’s fastest, who’s smarter, who can jump farther– i’ll remember on a random, sunday afternoon, the stars aligned, and the boys dropped being competitive and just played TOGETHER.

i hope remembering this moment will get me through the silly fights they’re sure to have, the snippy remarks they’re sure to say, and will keep me focused on the prize i pray for night and day.

i pray for two boys living, sharing, celebrating life TOGETHER.

because at the end of all the boyhood battles- being TOGETHER really is better.

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so limited

sweet haiti

it’s been two weeks since i went to haiti and it might as well be two years.

i miss it.

i miss the closeness i felt with God.  i miss waking up everyday knowing i would have no regrets when my head hit the pillow, because every fiber of my being was focused on seeking God’s will.  i miss the people of haiti and feeling a part of God’s bigger picture.

boy, do i miss it.

i can’t remember any other experience in my life that has stripped me so completely in such a short amount of time.  every day i was there God showed up in amazing ways.  He taught me a lot about myself and how He has made me–  uniquely flawed.  i feel like a kaleidoscope–  clear and able to take in God’s light, but my faults somehow shatter it.  the great thing is, God still makes rainbows out of my messiness.

before going to haiti i was lost.

motherhood had become an overwhelming task i couldn’t seem to get my hands around.  i was operating out of fear, instead of celebrating the opportunity to love these two great boys.  there was a day when i cried out to the Lord.  it was raw and desperate.

i couldn’t stand my own voice and behavior– so critical, so condescending.  i was so afraid i was “breaking” them.  i even started going to therapy again.  i was hoping this would help me understand the boys’ personalities–  if i could just understand them, i would be better.  ha!

i was quickly told i needed to search my heart and re-evaluate myself, before putting any of the pressure on my boys.  ouch.  that’s sounds about right.

i had to admit i was uncomfortable showing love to my guys.  i was totally able to fill their basic needs, but i was really limited when it came to filling their hearts.  i was so focused on correction, i was losing the joy in being a mom– their mom.

then, God sent me to haiti.

the first full day we were there we went to church, and then we went to the school area we’d be serving all week.  there were children around, and we had a chance to start building relationships.

i was uncomfortable.

so.  i prayed.

Lord, where should i start?  what do i have to offer?  what is my purpose here?

i’m usually very outgoing and feel comfortable around new people.  but this was different.

i couldn’t use my natural ability to make connection–  talking.  

surprise.  i like to talk.

but, the language barrier took me out of my comfort zone.

i felt limited.

so, i looked for ways to fit in.

negative to soccer, 'skillets

the first thing i spotted was a pick up game of soccer– uhmmmmmmmm yeah.  that would have just been wrong.  (me + any type of sporting equipment =  tears)

then one of the guys pulled out marbles and jacks for the kids to play with–  the kids grabbed the marbles, as fast as they could, and stuffed them in their pockets, as fast as they could.

they have nothing, and they’re not willing to share.  the need they live in every day has taught them to grab first and fast.   so, playing a game of jacks or marbles wasn’t going to happen.

too much to share

i felt limited.

how can i help or make a difference when all they know is survival?

i felt God saying–  love like ME.  seek MY will.  respond like ME.

but, i didn’t know how to love like Christ.

i’m the one struggling to show love, remember Lord!!??  what can i do?

hands and hearts-- connecting

then the girls started playing patty-cake games– wow.  there was contact!  to watch a simple thing like patty-cake break down barriers is amazing.  simple acts make a big impact.   watching our girls playing with the children showed me the heart is seen very clearly when you let your guard down, look into someone’s eyes, and purposefully spend time with them.

again, i felt uncomfortable.

i felt my physical limitations—  because of my cerebral palsy, i have limited use of my right hand.

i can’t play patty-cake.

i felt limited.

so limited.

could God use me at all?  was i even needed on this trip?

i didn’t know, so i pulled back and watched.

and i felt God saying,

“you don’t have to be in the action to be changed by me.  it’s okay to be on the sidelines and be taught how to love.  that’s your purpose here–  learn how to love better.  watch.  really see how a simple touch can make a huge difference.  look at the joy in the eyes of a child when you really spend time looking at them.  learn from those with you, that love easily and well.  you are mine and i want you to see.”

simply. love.

and, just like that, homeskillets–  God’s light poured into me, and i knew His love COULD be reflected through my flaws.  i just had to be willing to be teachable.  to be changed. 

the ahhhhh-mazing teenagers on this trip opened my eyes.  they were my teachers.  they lived out love.  and, i thank them for that.

i also thank the LORD.

“thank you for knowing me, creating me, orchestrating this trip for me to see love.  thank you for showing me every detail of my life has a purpose.  i am meant to walk in this good work — for my family, for the hearts of my boys.  and, to see how much YOU love me.”

i am grateful God allowed me to see love lived out.   i am grateful i am limited.

the day of turkey and pumpkin pie is upon us…

 

here's the word-- tom's a bird!!!!

and with said day about a week away i feel it’s appropriate to make a list of some of the things i’m thankful for:

  1. we are all made for a certain time and purpose.

    i am thankful for vacuums, washing machines, in-door plumbing, and central heat and air.  i took a bible study last summer on the book of Esther and i came away KNOWING each of us is born at the appropriate time to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in our world–  still not sure what my role for Christ looks like, but God knew i’d need some plumbing and air conditioning to get the job done.  pioneer woman i am not.  can i get a HOLLA??!!

  2. i am thankful for random moments of clarity during my stint as a mommy.  most of the time i have no idea what i’m doing and i’m amazed that i’ve kept 2 helpless humans alive for 7 and 3 1/2 year respectively (with the help of a wonderful wingman, of course)–  but, there are brief moments when God clears away my self-centered fog and shows me HOW BLESSED i am.  He has allowed me the opportunity to encourage and love 2 awesome boys, and He covers my mistakes by reminding me i’m not suppose to do this thing called “motherhood” exactly right— because if i did my boys wouldn’t need HIM.
  3. worth the pain

    i am thankful for running, super-fit ‘skillets, mile markers, stinky shoes, weird trail people, and a finish line.  i completed a half marathon in october, and i am so glad i did!  it was the most taxing thing i’ve ever willingly put my body through–  i mean i VOLUNTARILY ran a very long way for a t-shirt.  that.ain’t.right. but, i learned so much just by getting up and putting one foot in front of the other– i learned  i am only as strong as i believe i am,  i’m only as capable as i believe i am, and the Lord is always with me cheering me on.  i also learned i’m a very, very, very slooooooow ‘skilletHOLLA!!

  4. i am thankful for a super bad haircut–  a haircut SOOOOOOO bad  it sent me into a funk.  that’s right.  the hairs on my head were cut into an unflattering fashion recently–  and, this upset my delicate nature.  that’s how deep i am.  jealous? here’s the thing–  bad haircuts have happened in the past, but this one really got to me.  i thought i clearly communicated the hair style  i wanted, but walked out of the salon looking

    picture these bangs with a carol brady flip... awesome.

    like a cross between jim carrey in dumb and dumber and carol brady from the brady bunch—  surprisingly, not a good look for me.  i left  feeling unattractive–  and, more importantly out of control that scared me.   i realized i have control over nothing—  not even the hairs on my head.   i say i get this.   i say i believe and trust in The One who knows the number of hairs on my head and holds me in the palm of His hand–  but, it took an unfortunate mullet to make me understand there are areas in my life  I haven’t fully given over to Christ. clearly, this homeskillet has a lot to learn–   i’m very thankful my teacher is patient!

this is only a test…

raise your hand! raise your hand -if you're sure..

this week has been a series of tests, and i feel i’m still waiting to see if i passed. i should feel confident, confident, dry and secure– sure– i should.  but i don’t.  not yet.

my little guy is full of life.  he’s loving, happy, silly, and unfocused at times.  he has trouble making eye contact and gets easily frustrated when he’s overstimulated.  he’s three and big for his age.  i’ve been approached by a well meaning individual and encouraged to get thing 2 evaluated.  evaluated for what — i have no idea.

(ain’t that a kick in the head, homeskillets?!)

what do i do?? cha cha cha!!

since that awesome encounter–  i’ve been on a wild goose chase waiting to hear life-changing news.   this journey started a few weeks back– and, the entire time i’ve been dancing the fear-filled cha-cha.

one moment–  stepping up — thinking,  “let it go! how dare this woman!”– the next moment–  stepping back — thinking, “but, what if there’s something that needs attention!  i can’t ignore it!”

yuck-filled thoughts= fearful homeskillet

each and every day i’ve gotten clear, tangible proof my fear is unfounded.  but, here i am.  still unsettled.  still jittery with worry.  two tests.  two positive, encouraging results.  numerous friends lifting us up in prayer and saying they SEE our family and have faith God has made our boy exactly right.  exactly who he should be.

so i ask, when is reassurance ENOUGH to move on?  how do i stop worrying.  i know at this point my fear is a huge insult to God.

( i picture Him with a thick, new york accent– godfather-style— saying things like “you’re breaking my heart, fredo”.  “leave the worry, take the cannoli.” )

so, why am i hanging on?  why am i not comforted by the fact that my baby boy is a normal 3 year old?  because if there’s nothing wrong–  if he’s “normal”  then maybe my guy is falling short because of me.  maybe i haven’t given him all he needs to succeed on his own.  maybe my limitations as a mom or my past bad choices have hindered my sweet boy’s present.  ouch. every action, choice, thought has a consequence– and, as a parent my stuff affects the innocent babies i’ve been blessed with.  ouch.

how do i say, “i’m sorry?”  how do i make it right?  how do i move forward without worry?

stop. drop the worry- yo.

i stop.

i stop trying to move through this alone  and confess my fears and doubt.

i pray.

“Lord.  i’m scared.  i’m afraid i’ve failed my son.  i love him so much and i love his sweet heart.  i don’t know if i’ve done enough, and i fear he’s missing something because of me.  i pray that you’ll give him ears to listen and focus his eyes on what is important, and true.  please cover all my missteps with Your grace and keep my feet moving forward– away from fear– towards rest and peace in You.”

sweet peace....

life. moments.

a few days ago i made a play list of songs that mean something to me.  the music i picked wasn’t the hippest– but, each song on the list puts me in a space.  a place in my heart, or in my past, or a place where God has taken me– to grow me and show me life is about RIGHT NOW.

too cool for school

one song on the list — STUCK IN A MOMENT– by the awesome mr. bono   takes me back to the first days of mommyhood.

i remember how broken i felt.  i was feeling stretched and invisible and used up.

i was a straight.up.mess.

this is a good day-- totally rockin' clothes

motherhood did not come naturally to me.  i kept wondering why people kept congratulating me– were they crazy? congratulations!  you are sleep deprived!  congratulations!  you have no clue what you’re doing!  congratulations!  you are totally responsible for another human being– good luck with that!

oh, and by the way.  life is NOT all about YOU!

i could not get over the dreams i’d had for myself–  the plans i was so sure would make me complete and happy.  this whole baby thing was not what i had in mind.  and, i was angry.  i was angry at myself for letting this happen to me.  i was a smart girl.  i knew the consequences of meeting the perfect guy–  falling in love– saying “yes”.  but, here i was.  career done.  just as it was getting started.

bam! life just got kicked up a notch

i was angry at my hubby– because let’s face it– i couldn’t have done this alone.  i was mad at him for loving me– wooing me– marrying me.

the first week was great.  then life totally threw me an emerill, “BAM”.   i’m pregnant–  a honeymoon baby.  really? really.

just call me fertile myrtle.

i remember running on a treadmill trying to regain my pre-marriage, pre-baby body (ha!) listening to bono sing,  “i never thought you were a fool… but, darling look at you… ooh… you gotta stand up straight… carry your own weight…  these tears are goin’ nowhere baby… you got yourself stuck in a moment and now you can’t get out of it.”

big, fat cry baby on a treadmill-- attractive

i literally started crying.  i was hanging on to the treadmill– staring at myself  in the mirror– and crying through this entire song.  WHAT WAS I DOING?

i was missing out on the first, sweet moments of being a mommy and wife because i wanted my life to stick  at 28.

i wanted to control my fate, my future, my path.  and, these were the first moments God began to whisper, “you’re mine.  your path is mine.  your future is mine.  your fate I decided long ago.  you’re mine.”

i didn’t understand what He was saying at first.  i struggled with leaving my career behind.  i struggled with a new baby,  with new responsibilities, with a new body.  (i know the body image thing may seem superficial, but i’m not too proud to admit i did not like what i saw in the mirror.  i pushed my hubby away because i did not feel attractive AT ALL.)

when God moves-- go with it

i was overwhelmed by each and every part of this new version of me– that’s when God began to move.  He closed down old relationships and brought in new ones with women brave enough to say they were not as great as they pretended to be.  He moved through my marriage and gave my hubs the strength to listen to my junk and not try to fix me.  my sweet iron skillet (he’s requested this nickname)  heard what i said and admitted he did not know what i needed–  he simply loved me through my stuff.  God also took away things i thought i needed to live– approval, security,  false idols that did nothing but distract me from realizing what life is really all about.

i realize now what the congratulations were for.  congratulations!  you’ll realize you can never make yourself happy through a career, pay check, or title!  congratulations!  you will not be able to fully rely on yourself to get through life! congratulations!  you’ll get to see God’s handprint on each and every day of your life from here on out.

the Lord gave me the huge honor of being a mom to not one baby boy– but two strapping jones boys.   thing 1 and thing 2 keep me grounded.  they humble me through my mistakes, show me grace despite my sins, and love me JUST BECAUSE .  the Lord has held me up during my on the job training with these wonderful guys.  i say,  “thank God!”–  for shaking up my life and sticking me in this moment and keeping my eyes wide open because i know this too shall pass.

homeskillet playlist

here’s my homeskillet playlist:

1.  your hands “i have unanswered prayers… i have trouble i wish  wasn’t there” no truer words were ever spoken…. love my Lord and i pray for growth through pain.
2.  beauty from pain — this helps me when i’m sad or missing my boo bah.
3.  hallelujah — this song gives me faith heaven WILL have an awesome soundtrack.
4.  popular — kristen chenoweth.  i’ve covered my love for all things

SAH-weeeeet tunage

chenoweth.   i secretly want to sing this song on stage– with the goofy dance break OF COURSE.

5.  defying gravity — because WICKED is AWESOMENESS to the extreme.  don’t get me started… don’t even get me started about my sad attempt to see this show at the orpheum.
6.  poker face (gleeked out to the max) — LOVE, LOVE, loooooooooove GLEE.  sue sylvester.  will shuster.  SAH-weeeeet song and dance numbers.  nuf’ said.
7.  wasting time —  jack johnson reminds me of the dreamiest time of my life– the beginning of my life as mrs. jones— riding around san francisco with my new hubby in a blue convertible.
8.  lucky — i feel this way EVERY DAY.  jason jones rocks!!!!!
9.  let me sign — a tribute to all things twilight….. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
10.  stuck in the moment — this song sums up certain times in my life.  i really connected to this song when i first became a mom.  i kinda struggled for a while with my new “super-hero” identity as mom and wife.
11.  get back up — life’s gonna knock me down.  GET BACK UP!!!  that’s all i can do.
12.  ocean size love — i love the thought of seeing God in the sun or where the ocean meets the shore.
13.  my idea of heaven — my hubs.  my boys.  my homeskillets.  my Lord.  this is my idea of heaven. HOLLA!!!

dynamic duo

it’s noon and we’re stuck inside because it’s soooooo hot.  the boys still have bed head–  one is sporting a spider-man costume and the other is rockin’ a pair of blue grippers (to protect the innocent–  i’ll let you guess which is which).

my boys love being super heroes– one minute they’re spider-man trying to climb up walls, the next they’re batman and robin tracking down the joker–  who always seems to be wherever i’m cleaning.

maybe it’s my flair for drama– but, i enjoy seeing my boys running around, dressed up in costumes.  right now, thing 1 and thing 2 are playing in the living room– and, every once in awhile i catch bits and pieces of their conversations.. “help me!  i’m trapped!”… “come and get me mr. spider-man!”

the jones' boys are soooooooo much cooler

listening to their sweet voices makes me  hope they never forget how to be super.

i hope they are always SUPER open with each other–  no shame, no inhibitions– just two boys sharing their time and their lives.

i hope they have SUPER knock-down fights–  worthy of spider-man and venom– so they learn to say,  “i’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness.

i hope they grow up with SUPER strong character– so they can lift each other up and help shoulder the burden for one another when life goes upside down.

i hope they see themselves as a dynamic duo MUCH cooler than batman and robin (the first line of business– nix the tights).

and, when they’re all grown up and the costumes are too small– i hope they know they are loved.  i hope they know that even on a dull day like this they make life better (harder and crazier– but much, much better).  i hope they know i feel SUPER blessed to be their mom.

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