it’s christmas time, y’all!

holla!  it’s time to deck the halls and celebrate baby Jesus.  ooooooooo OOOOOO!

in honor of tiny, little baby Jesus sleeping in the animal food bowl, i thought i’d create a list dedicated to what He’s taught me this year– homeskillet style.

1.  my ways are not his ways, yo.

i’ve learned i do not naturally love like Christ, think like Christ, act like Christ.  i wish i did, but i don’t.  i mess up so much just because i over think, i don’t listen, or i get scared.  super glad this year i finally accepted my limitations and asked for guidance.  i’m totally still a super big mess.  i will be until the day i die, but i pray when that day comes my nature looks more like tiny baby Jesus.

2.  love means i say i’m sorry, word.

remember the movie with ryan o’neal and ali mcgraw called “love story”??  there’s this classic scene where o’neal’s character has royally screwed up, and ali, with her perfect ’70’s hair, says, “love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

what is THAT all about???  seriously.  that’s alllllllllllllllll love is about.

it’s about putting the other person first, and i can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s NOT  how i roll most of the time.  i can be selfish, pushy, impatient, critical, and downright mean.

what would my marriage look like, how would my boys feel, how many true friendships would i have, if i NEVER said i was sorry for not loving well???

i pray i own my mistakes and tell the ‘skillets  i love “I’M SORRY”— because those are some powerful words.

3.  obedience is scary, fo’ realz.

last night i met with a new ‘skillet, and as we began to share our stories,  we kept coming back to the same thought– we don’t want to miss what God wants to do with us, through us, for us.  we looked at each other all excited and said, “we just don’t want to miss it!”

how do we do that?  i think it’s a moment to moment decision to seek God’s will.  now, that’s a tall order.  just thinking about how many times i haven’t lived that way makes me wonder how many times i’ll fail in the future.  dude.  that thought alone can paralyze me.  obedience, all the time, forever and ever, is a scary proposition.  but, here’s the thing, i don’t have to eat the elephant all at once.  i just have to be willing to seek God, be willing to wait for a clear direction, and then be brave enough to move my feet.  i pray i have a lifetime of  “don’t miss it” moments.

4.  my home is my mission, holla.

this one shakes me down.  my knees get all weak, and i feel light-headed.  my boys and my husband are IT.

i am not equipped, there’s no clear checklist, and if i fail THEY will suffer.

i clearly need help, encouragement–  and, from time to time, a couple of cupcakes to make this reality go down a little easier.

i’m sooooooooooooooooooooo thankful God has given me an army of women to help me battle my own insecurities and fears when it comes to how i be these things called “wife” and “mother”.  God started putting my army together as early as elementary school.  He added forces through high school, college, and through my time in memphis i gained wonderful sisters for life and, now, in the ‘boro i am finding awesome ‘skillets to share my story.

each and every woman makes me better.  each word of advice helps my children and my fella.  each word of love helps me to stop the critical voice inside my head–  and, each cupcake keeps my sugar level just high enough to make it through the day.

5.  God loves me deeply, dude.

i have felt this more and more as this year has passed.  i’m grateful to feel down to my bones that there is nothing i can do to drive God away.

i can not look like Him, and He loves me anyway.  i can take too long to say, “I’M SORRY” and he loves me anyway.  i can be disobedient or just miss His direction completely, and He loves me anyway.  i can feel inadequate and not enough for my boys and my guy, and He loves me anyway.

He loves me so much He sent His only son to die for me. 

seriously.  baby Jesus ROCKS y’all.

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.

i heart vampire diaries

elena and the boys

okay.  i have a slight love for a couple of brothers–  damon and stefan salvatore.  they are the awesome vampire duo from ‘the vampire diaries’.    these two guys have a hold on me fo’ sho’.  they’re cool, passionate, and fully devoted to the girl of their dreams, elena.

i know, i know–  VAMPIRES, again?!!  what is it with me and these guys?

i’ve been asking myself the same question.  a lot.

and, here’s where my thoughts have gone…

the salvatore brothers are tied to this world with no hope for anything more.  because they are vampires they’ve lost their souls–  drinking blood and avoiding the sun is as good as it’s gonna get.   the idea of living day in and day out, for centuries, with the only constant being that everything will change, drives most vampires on this show to switch their emotions off and just give in to the monsters they’ve become– but not my brothers.  they’re different.

they’re different because they’ve found something worth living for,  worth dying for, worth changing their entire lives for– LOVE.

both damon and stefan love elena gilbert with their entire being, but their response to that love is completely different.

stefan loves elena enough to deny his nature.   and this is HUGE.  he has super powers for heaven’s sake!!  he’s stronger, he’s faster, he can manipulate people’s thoughts–  he could easily swoop in and save the day at any moment, but he doesn’t.   instead he filters every thought and action through elena’s trust and love for him.  stefan has even said, “because elena trusted me first i choose to trust her. ”   this choice forces stefan to stand back and NOT immediately react when elena finds herself in danger.  this choice moves stefan to confide in her, to seek a relationship with her based on honesty.   ultimately, stefan’s decision to live a life denying his self draws he and elena closer and closer.

then there’s sweet, dysfunctional damon.  poor, poor boy LOVES his brother’s girl–  truly he does.  but, he responds to this love purely out of the fear of losing elena.  the thought is sooooooooooo heartbreaking for him he acts first and apologizes later.  his life is one emotionally-driven mistake after another.  damon can’t imagine a life without elena, but the way he pursues a relationship with her is filled with selfishness, manipulation, and a battle for control.  he knows elena deserves the best of him, but his emotions and fear continue to keep a true relationship with the girl he loves at arm’s length.  he moves two steps forward, two steps back all because he can’t surrender himself and trust.

and here, homeskillets, is why i love this show– these brothers, this love story, and how they pursue the thing worth living for reminds me of my walk with Christ.  i think vampire diaries is a beautiful, twisted picture of my sanctification.

i, just like my beloved salvatore brothers, have found someone worth living for, worth dying for, worth changing my life for.  i love my God with all my heart,  i long for a closer relationship with Him every day, and i can say, “because Christ loved me first, i love Him.”

now, here is where i wish i could write the words ‘i’m just like stefan’. 

i wish i could say the moment i gave my life to Christ i totally let go of my self and began filtering every thought and action through the ONLY relationship worthy of my surrender.  i wish i could say my life reflects the peace that comes from choosing NOT to live according to my nature.

of course, during my walk with the Lord there have been definite moments, days, weeks of beautiful surrender.

but on the whole……

uhmmmmmmmm.  yeah.  not.so.much.

poor, poor, dysfunctional ‘skillet. 

love worth changing for....

i love the Lord with all my heart– but, i’m a little more on the damon side of things most of the time.  i react out of my emotions INSTEAD out of the trust i have in Christ,  i definitely act first and apologize later (uhmmmm, crazy eyes anyone?), and most of the time–   my fear of losing control leads to making one mistake after another.

if this were it, i’d say i was in BIG trouble.  thankfully, my love story is not a fantasy based on mythical creatures.  my love story is fully based on Christ’s love for me– and He’s given me the gift of this life  to grow into a woman that reflects His love– which is DEFINITELY worth living, dying, and changing for.

love dare

i’m ready to move towards Christ a little more.

i’m ready for Him to change my heart and soul.

so this is what i’m gonna do–  i’m gonna give myself a thirty day challenge.

i’m gonna challenge myself to LOVE like Christ.

i’m asking the Lord to help me insert my name, my thoughts, my actions, my choices into this verse for one month.

at the end, i hope for a marked change–  in my heart, my mind, my spirit, my marriage, my home, my boys, my relationships–  that can only come from surrendering to the Lord.

please Lord, teach me your ways...

please pray, homeskillets.  i’ll need it! 

but, i TRULY trust the Lord to make my love dare AMAZING.

you’re a people, i’m a people

soooooooooooooo surprise, surprise–  life is hard.

and, i’ve finally figured out what makes it so hard– PEOPLE.

i am realizing more and more i have no control over the response of others.  i can not make ANYONE do ANYTHING.

darn it!

why won't anyone let me lead?!

this totally bugs me to no end because i think i’d make an awesome cruise director– like julie on the love boat.

i’d be all– “here are directions to the lido deck where you’ll find rest, relaxation, and scott baio making out with kristy mcnichol, but to get there you really need to walk through your junk first.  i know some excellent activities that can get you started such as, admitting you need help, communication, and being open to change– of course, most of these take place on the poop deck.”

are you ready to be a better passenger and enjoy your trip?   are you?   ARE YOU??  well then,  just listen to me okay… OKAY??!

(insert me in an awesome 80’s ensemble with a white-knuckle grip on my clipboard and crazy eyes)

me. with crazy eyes. holla.

i believe i can fix EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY–  i want to take action,  move toward change,  address messy issues head on.  unfortunately, PEOPLE get in my way.

darn it!

when this happens i’m left with frustration, anger, and out-of-control crazy eyes.

clearly, there is something wrong with this picture.  clearly, being in charge is not a good plan for me.  clearly.

i have to say–   God gave me an awesome set of crazy eyes as a clear indicator of my limited power.   whenever i get to feeling a little too big for my britches those eyes seem to pop out like a done turkey dinner.   HOLLA!

the most recent set of crazy eyes actually happened during my visit with boobah.  i was hoping for a certain type of visit.  i guess after a year of letters and missing her i had a few expectations some i was conscious of– and, some i had no clue i was feeling until the crazy eyes popped out and captain stubing was standing beside me welcoming the latest celebrity guest.

the obvious expectations were the tears that came as i rolled into marysville and saw the prison for the first time.  wow.  it’s a real place.  in the middle of nowhere.  and boobah is there–  with no freedom.

another feeling i expected was nervousness–  when we went through security and talked to the guard i said “yes, sir/ sorry, sir” like 3 million times in 2 minutes.

he finally said, “what are you sorry for?”

and, i was all, “i don’t know!  i’m just nervous and i want to get in there to her.”

(insert me in a slightly cool “mom”ensemble with fidgety hands and just a touch of crazy eyes)

note:  this behavior is NOT the best when entering the prison system– i’m pretty sure they flagged me and kept a close eye on me the entire visit.

i also knew i was gonna be excited to see boobah– i mean come on, it’s been a year– this is a no brainer.  i actually squeaked when she walked in.  i let out a loud, high-pitched squeak, and kinda did a spastic dance in my chair, and then we got to hug– it didn’t last nearly long enough.  ahhhhhhhhhh…. so good to see her face.

but, what came next really brought out my cruise director tendencies, and i truly didn’t see it coming.  boobah started talking about her hopes for her future–  where she would like to live once her time is served,  who she wants to be with, what she would like to do.  and, none of it looked like i wanted.

not.one.bit.

that’s when my insides started getting all antsy-like.  i could actually feel my, julie, cruise director, self start pulling out the clipboard.

clearly, boobah was WAY off track.

this was totally in my head

in my head the love boat theme started to play, and i was convinced she needed my guidance.  she just needed to listen to my directions and stay on my course and all would be right with the world.

i know.  i’m slightly not right.

i admit it was a HUGE internal struggle NOT to cruise direct.  i just listened and probably looked completely miserable, but i got through the visit just saying i wanted nothing but the absolute best for her future and i was here and committed to help her any way she needed.

this would be a happy ending IF i wasn’t so inclined to pull out the crazy eyes.

that’s right homeskillets, i blame it all on the eye balls–  i got home and wrote not 1, not 2 but 3 letters explaining how boobah should live her life the way i see it.  I KNOW — total crazy. complete loony.

thankfully God is FULL of grace and is working on my crazy-eyed, cruise directing ways, and i have sent apology letters and cards– i am nothing if not thorough in my nuttiness.

the beautiful thing about growing up in Christ is these fits don’t last quite as long as they used to, and i am quick to admit that the clipboard is just too much power for this ‘skillet.

seriously, who am i kidding?

once my crazy eyes have gone back to their natural state,  i UNDERSTAND boobah is in God’s hands– not mine.  i UNDERSTAND He has a plan that i cannot see.  i UNDERSTAND the Lord loves her more than i ever could.

I UNDERSTAND God is the ultimate cruise director.

sometimes i just forget– because i happen to be a PEOPLE too.

darn it!

resolutions — a list of MORE — for 2011

here i am watching conan the barbarian with the hubs.  i’m drinking a glass of white wine, contemplating a second piece of red velvet cake, and as i take stock of 2010 one last time —  i realize — i’m ready for more.

more love

Psalm 70:4 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.”

more trust

Psalm 50:11 I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.

more God

Psalm 18:30 As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.


more letters

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus…


more laughter

Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”


more smiles

Peace begins with a smile.  ~Mother Teresa


more dance parties

Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another.  ~anonymous

more lessons

Psalm 25:4 Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.

i pray God will always keep me reaching for more.  happy new year,  homeskillets!!!