Gossip

I keep finding myself wanting to vent.  Just to have another person validate my feelings.  I want to share and talk and share some more all over one simple issue.  And yet, I feel perhaps the tug of wisdom say to me, “Yes Rebekah, you have been wronged.  Yes.  Forgive and leave it.”  But that’s not enough, for some reason I want to call at least ten of my friends and have them all stand next to me and say, “Yes, that is crappy, I can’t believe so-and-so DID that!”  I especially want to contact a number of my twin-friend moms, because it’s over a twin thing and sometimes moms of other twins just get it.  Twin moms understand twin stuff like we are of one mind.  There is a silent bond of mutual, precise understanding among twin moms that’s incredible.  And I SOOO bad want to call five of my twin mom friends and tell them all about it.  To have them empathize with me, to console me, to tell me it was unfair and unjust.

But I haven’t.  I only called one friend.  And that was probably unnecessary, but I forwarded our conversation with, “Please talk me down to rationality.”

She did, and it wasn’t a gossip fest, it was more of a plan to set in motion for working things out, and I felt slightly better after we spoke, but I still have this desire to call more people, until I feel better – until I hear what?

What I want to hear?

I want someone to validate everything I’m feeling, and tell me I’m right.

That I’ve never failed, never missed something and I’m not, not getting it right.

I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me, and the person pulling it, I think just got their foot stuck in the rug and has continued walking, with NO IDEA about what they’ve just done to my little world.  Yes, MY little world.  I really believe they have no clue, and they have just unintentionally hurt me.

But we don’t live in MY little world do we?  We live in God’s BIG, expansive, all forgiving, grace filled world.

And in that reality, there is no room for condemnation, or even offense.  In His world there is only loving others and forgiving others for their mistakes or misunderstandings.

In his world, I go to the person and say, “Hey, you just pulled the rug out from under me.  I’m sure the rug was just stuck to your shoe somehow, and it was an honest mistake.  Can we talk about it?  I’m kinda in pain here on the floor.”

And I will, and I want to, but I can’t until a certain number of days for various complicated reasons, so until then I what?

I wait.

Aggggggghhhhhh.

I HATE waiting.  I want it all fixed now so I don’t have to further resist the temptation to seek validation for my feelings from others who have NOTHING to do with this situation.

Is this where the character of Christ is built?  I’m not sure, but it FEELS painful.

Also, ignoring all the devil’s taunts is like super aggravating.  I know I should just tell him to shut it, but sometimes the stuff sounds so close to the truth.  I know it’s a lie, and if it were a point-blank clear lie, it would be so much easier to swat away, but no, the enemy knows my weak spots, the places where it hurts.  When he shoots, he doesn’t aimlessly fire, no, he sniper styles right in on my weak points, trying to take me down to the ground of misery and despair, instead of standing on the rock of hope.

“Maybe you did fail as a mother, no one’s perfect.”

“You have too many children, that’s why this happened.  If you’d just had one at a time like normal people, maybe ALL your kids needs would be met, all the time and they would never have any difficulties in life, ever.”  – to which I argue, “THAT wasn’t even my choice!  I asked God for ONE kid the first go around, it’s not my fault he thought we could handle TWO!  At least they are best friends!  Maybe I should trust him?”

“How can you be having ANOTHER baby, when you haven’t even figured out what you’re doing with these three?  Are you insane?  Are you trying to ruin more people’s lives by bad mothering?”

I can say these arguments are foolish, but that doesn’t take away from the doubt in my mind that I didn’t miss something somewhere.  That I’m worried I’ve been blind somewhere in my parenting and now my kids will suffer in some way just because I didn’t have my act together.

Some days I feel proud that there is food on the table and no one is fighting.  Success!!

Other days, like today I am proud of my kids, but not because of anything Davin and I have done.  All three of my kids by their own free will decided to help me clean up after dinner.  I think they could tell I was stressing about something and wanted to help.  Dani had a broom, Eli had a sponge and squirt bottle, and Ellie was putting things away.  What did I do to deserve such thoughtful kids?

Earlier this morning, when Eli was too sick to go to school, Dani responded, “But Eli HAS to go to school!  He’s my best friend in the whole WORLD!”  She even prayed on the car ride to class for Eli to feel better and for daddy to drive him to school.  She was devastated not to have her, “best friend in the whole wide world”, right by her side.

I didn’t form that bond.  They did.  They love each other, play together and look out for one another.  They also tattle on each other and try to compete against each other, but I take the good with the not-my-favorite.

As I finish this post, all has been resolved.  The person accidentally sending me to the floor never did it intentionally, and I didn’t even end up telling the person what was done to hurt me.  I just prayed, (A TON) and then forgave, and left the details at Jesus’ feet.  Then before I met with the person, I prayed some more asking Jesus to keep me from bringing up any of my hurt, and to be able to have a genuine no-offense conversation.

Guys, it totally worked.  Jesus is SUPER good at taking care of offenses, and when he says to forgive, he’s not doing it for his own benefit, he’s requiring it for ours.  Can I just tell you how nice it feels to truly forgive someone even when they don’t even know what they’ve done wrong?  I’m not saying this is going to be my life theme, sometimes grievances need to be shared; you know the whole “go to the person who has hurt you” kind of thing.  BUT, in this case, after I prayed, I really did feel like the Lord led me to just leave it.  And I did by his grace and it TOTALLY worked!

I feel so un-offended, so free and so happy.

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I feel like this.

AND, I feel like the Lord gave me insight and freedom from some of the enemie’s sneaky lies.  I can’t believe the night and day difference that forgiveness makes.

Also, I think this little exercise in forgiveness is working because just the other day, I was checking out at “Bed, Bath and Beyond” (buying sheets, so exciting) and the sweet high school girl at the register said to me (with my whole family around), “WOW!  you’re SO BIG!!!  Are you pregnant?”  I’m serious.  I was thinking in my mind, this little dear has never been pregnant, and since I’m only 22 weeks, she must not see many full term pregnant women, because, yes, there’s a baby in my tummy, but we’re nowhere close to BIG yet honey!  I also considered sharing the little social nugget that it’s not polite to tell any woman, ever, that she looks “SO BIG”, but I refrained, and decided I’d let her stay in her sweet bubble of high school observations and attempts at personal register conversation by smiling and saying, “Oh yes, I’m 22 weeks.”  She really did mean well if you can believe me.

Either way, I’m hoping all this will be a reminder to me the next time I am offended, and hopefully I will be instant-quick to forgive.  Because let’s be honest, offenses ARE going to happen, it’s what I do with them that will determine my character and probably my level of contentment in life.  If I would just trust Jesus enough to actually do what he says, there’s a strong possibility that my life may be a lot easier.

So if you’ve been wronged and you want to join me in my forgiveness campaign, you can just pray these super spiritual words ;-), “Lord, I’m SUPER offended, so-and-so did such-and-such!  Can you believe it?  The WORST!  Please help me to forgive, to let it go and give me wisdom on how to move forward, as well as the self-control and discipline to actually follow through with your advice.  Amen”.  Then, wait.  He will TOTALLY show up and blast your grouchy feelings away… in his timing of course, because some offenses can be more involved than others, but I am always pleasantly surprised at his grace, sweetness and gentleness to move me from where I am at (miserable) and unable to help myself to where he says I can be, in his perfect peace.  It’s not just a bunch of words on some paper; it’s like real and true life.

Good luck my friends!!!

And since I needed at least ONE photo for this post so it wasn’t boring… I give you, twin mom life: a photo collage of twin memories;-)

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Tots. I titled this one, “risky business”.IMG_1483 IMG_6569

Who needs wrapping paper when we can just put bags over there heads?  Happy 3rd Birthday!IMG_4936 IMG_8377 IMG_5583 IMG_5939

Dressin’ ourselfs.IMG_6193

Helping mom in the kitchen.IMG_6662 TheAnthonyFamily (169 of 330) IMG_6121 IMG_6360Best Friends. (they like each other most of the time;-)

As always, thanks for reading.

childhood

Maybe it’s because I’m feeling maternal and pregnant and all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting which has led me to reflect a decent amount on my own childhood. I’ve discovered that while no one has a perfect childhood, mine was actually pretty good. Sure, I got my feelings hurt, my brother and I occasionally yelled at each other, some of my friends were scared to come over to my house because my mom was so strict that if I was grounded at home, she would follow me around at church (the only outing I was permitted to attend), telling other people not to speak to me because I was grounded… yes, those days also contained a small amount of embarrassment, but overall it was not a bad experience.

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9th grade glory

My mom let us play non-violent videogames, eat Dorito’s (full of msg) drink soda and run around the neighborhood unattended. We were allowed to climb high trees, catch frogs and shoot bb guns. She only made me wear a dress on Christmas, Easter and if we were flying. We always had a family dinner at home each night, even IF it WAS beef stroganoff (so gross! at the time), but often it was something yummy like chicken tacos or breakfast for dinner. I still LOVE breakfast for dinner, I keep trying to get Davin on board, he thinks it’s lazy (pshhaa, it’s amazing). As kids, my dad had an air horn he’d blow off that we could hear almost a mile away. We were supposto come home when the streetlights came on, but in the summer, when the sun stayed up late, we’d listen for the dinner air horn. Can you imagine if your neighbor blew off an air horn each night around dinner time? Ha! Despite what I’d think today, I genuinely believe our neighbors appreciated it, because then all their kids came home too.  I think I’m going to need an airhorn in a few years.

We used to have a homemade go-kart. It was wooden with tires and real breaks. The steering was a rope, and the engine was all us kids giving it a good push until whatever lucky kid was in the drivers seat soared down the hill we lived on. We always had a lookout to make sure no cars were coming, we’d wave them on and then shout to BREAK if we saw anyone coming around the corner. No one ever got run over.

When I think back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I was. My parents didn’t yell all the time like the kids parents a few doors down. Our dad was nice and smiled, and played games with us. My mom let us have GIANT sleepovers and make messes and eat all the food. I always had a special birthday party with my friends and felt important.

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For my 10th birthday I requested a Huckleberry Finn themed birthday party in the fields. We got to have a mud fight at the end. #bestbirthdayever #Englishmajorinthemaking

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My 12th birthday was a formal dress up birthday party. That is PINK satin with lace… yes it is.

I did have to memorize boring spelling words each week, and I was miserable at cursive. And I once got locked out of the house after school.  I told both my parents in all seriousness that I knew what it was like to be homeless and not well cared for.  Clearly they were entertained and took my picture.

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Fake Homeless (and very annoyed) pre-teen Bek. I can just see myself saying, “HowCouldYou!”

I still print to this day. I refuse to leave my pen stuck to my paper and make hideous curls with my letters. My brother and I have almost the exact same handwriting. Occasionally, I’ll see something he’s written, and I’ll have to examine it more closely to see who’s handwriting it really is. It’s usually some sticky note with directions or a label on it, either way, it reminds me how much we can be like our family without even trying.

My brother is four years younger than I am. Most of my memories are of us playing and going places together.

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On vacation in Hawaii, an extra fancy dinner.

We got along fairly well for a brother and sister.  He’s pretty mellow, so it made it easy. I feel like siblings are a gift. I know at the time they can drive you nuts, but the experience is worth it. I remember my brother getting his monster truck stuck in my hair, booby-trapping my room so I couldn’t come out my door in the morning and “accidentally” chucking a spicy chicken wing INTO my eye. But all in all, totally worth the hassle of a sibling.

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I buried my brother in sand at Lake Tahoe. I asked him to make an “I’m scared” face. At least that’s how I remember the story… Nailed it.

We made up so many games as kids. We used to play this game called, fishing, where one of us would get a bunch of toys and put them at on the bottom level of the house. Then the other kid would sit upstairs in the loft with the fishing pole we had made out of a yardstick and some rope and we’d fish for toys. The other kid would tie on a special toy to catch. We would get so excited by whatever toy we caught! How that game never got old I don’t know. I feel like we used to play it for hours.

Once, in 7th grade my parents arranged for us to visit the State Capitol and meet some person of political influence.  My mom dressed me, as you can see below… a giant straw hat and a Flags of the Universe sweater.  Thank goodness she let me dress myself the rest of my life.

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I’m pretty sure that outfit would have given me street cred’ around the White House.

My brother obviously took this event to heart and treated it with great reverence and respect.  I think that face was in protest of my outfit.  Thanks Aaron!

Another game we used to play, much more dangerous was, Burrito! Burrito! I still can’t believe our parents even let us play it. We’d put one kid on my brothers bed, on the middle of the comforter, then we’d FILL the thing with pillows, stuffed animals, whatever soft items we could find. Then we’d wrap them up, and SHOVE them off the bed yelling, “BURRITO! BURRITO!”. Then they’d hit the ground on their face with a thump and all the soft stuff around them. No one ever got hurt in that game either, which is surprising because my brother had a captains bed and that thing was high. We also used to climb to the top of our closets and drop toys on each other when we walked in, pretending to be ambushed by surprise. Amazing. One time we rigged another booby-trap (we were obsessed with booby-traps) to chuck a ketchup hot dog onto the sad kid who walked into our backyard after we’d called them into the back. I’m not saying we were nice to everyone. I once put a kid into a decent headlock and punched him in the head. Right on the top of his head. I did not know how to fight, just that if someone messed with my little brother, I was going to try my darnedest to kick his butt if he didn’t knock it off after being sufficiently warned. For the record, he ran off crying, and we were in the same grade, so I’d call that a success.

My dad used to make me mow the lawn with our electric mower.  I always thought how sorry they’d feel if I actually mowed over the cord and electrocuted myself to death, but I never did.  Here’s my best friend Luke and I having a go at the back yard.  He was a good buddy.  I think I must have Tom Sawyer’d him into helping me;-)

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Headband? Check. Retainer? Check. High waisted floral shorts? Double Check!

Tonight, I drove to Taco Bell for my own family. We’ve actually never had it for dinner in our house because it’s technically not that healthy and the idea would normally stress me out but I’m pregnant and if the pregnant lady wants two bean burritos, the pregnant lady gets two bean burritos and then some for the kids. Guess who loves Taco Bell? All of my kids. We are related. Davin was even a sport and had some, even though his Taco Bell dinner table memories take him to a different, say smaller room in the house;-) As I was driving, I reflected back on how many times I’d driven to Taco Bell with my mom in our Toyota Tercel Hatchback to get some dinner. Since we weren’t exactly the richest family on the block, my dad being a minister and all, Taco Bell was a treat! We’d feel so special getting to pick two things on the 59 cent menu. Those were the days.

And as I reflect, I think about my own parenting and just how much I worry that I’m getting it wrong. And, I probably am in some ways, but hopefully I’m getting it MOSTLY right. I know my kids are still little, and easily forgive me, but if I think about my imperfect, perfect childhood, and that even in the messed up stuff how God was still there, and took care of me – then I can trust that very same God to parent and take care of my kids too.

We never did an organized family bible study growing up. Christmas was mostly about presents, I had to wait till I was ten to get baptized because my parents wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing. I remember my mom was so mad at me over it, she thought I should wait till I was older, but dad gave me the go and my best friend, Luke and I got baptized on the same day. I remember it vividly because I totally peed in the pool. I never said I was a responsible ten year old, just ten and very nervous… apparently.

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Davin’s only question after he read this, “Who had to get baptized AFTER you?” Hopefully no one. But I’m sure someone did.

You’re welcome internet for that little gem.

I knew what I was doing with the whole baptism idea, I already was serving in my church as the official overhead song mover during worship;-) And I definitely knew who Jesus was because I saw him in my house growing up in my parents. I was raised in church but my mom and dad were the exact same people they were on Sunday that they were on any other day of the week. My parents never pretended anything. That’s how I knew christianity could be real. It was never some performance. My parents trusted God enough to trust us to him, and not pretend to be perfect. I remember if my dad ever messed up somehow, he’d come in and apologize to us, saying, it wasn’t right for him to get upset or whatever and he’d ask myself or my brother and I for forgiveness. I always respected that about my dad, he was the real deal, not perfect, but kinda perfect in my eyes. If I think about it, my parents seemed like they were just themselves, not attempting to be the most-pinterest-ee-blog-ee-facebook-ee best parents on the block. They were just dad and mom and didn’t seem too stressed about getting everything perfect.

When I actually sat down and wrote out my goals as a mother, I was a little surprised they weren’t more spiritual. I guess I expected them to sound more serious and fancy, like “teach the children about God in all the little moments by pointing out that God made the sun to warm our hands annnnd our hearts;-)” Instead we just go on family bike rides and I’ll point to the field full of evening chirping birds and say, “this is my favorite spot, because I like to hear all the birds.” At night we tuck them in, and we say prayers, taking turns sharing our favorite moments of the day and thanking God.  When they get scared or feel sick, we pray together, but it’s not a constant bible study all up in here. It’s more like Taco Bell for dinner and Eli and Davin kicking the ball in the house while the girls play dress up. It even includes like threats, “if you get out of bed one more time to go potty, you’re going to loose your favorite blanket!” – stern voice!

Here were my goals when I quick wrote them out:

-To be the mom who encourages her kids dreams, to fully become who God destined them to be, not who I think they should be. (Even if it’s a career in Motocross!)
-To provide a safe, loving peaceful memory-making environment that when my children reflect back on, they have fond memories of home.
-Create memories and traditions, especially outdoors (hiking, beaches, day trips in the woods – we live in a cool place, so this is totally possible.)

Basically I want the home that when my kids come visit from college or life, they come through the door, smell the yummy food in the kitchen and all the peaceful, hilarious and fun memories come back to them from their childhood. That when they lay down on the couch waiting for dinner to be done (because they are so tired from studying in school or riding motocross;), they remember that they are loved, important and valuable in our family and always will be. I want our home to be the number one place where our kids feel encouraged with truth and supported with love (and apparently delicious food). Where they feel safe enough to be honest with their struggles and come to us with questions about life, knowing we will love them no matter what they say, who they are or what they have done.

I guess those are HUGE goals, but I felt that way when I would go home, so maybe it’s possible my kids will feel the same.

A Quick Trader Joe’s Review & Tasty Recipe

Sometimes I see pre-made meals at Trader Joe’s and I’m like, “Hmmmm, I wonder if that’s any good?”  But I am usually so cheap that I don’t want to risk it.

Now that I’m pregnant and eating every two hours, I need all the food I can get all up in here, especially if it’s fast.  So Ima’ bout’s to risk it.  And I did.  So you don’t have to. I’ve got two little gems for you.

You’re welcome.

One is a quick pre-made meal, the other is an ingredient you may not know existed in this store.

First, the Trader Joe’s Garlic Rice Noodle Soup Bowl

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I love blurry pictures.

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Pros:

  • It does pretty much look like the picture, especially if you transfer it to a real bowl (highly recommend for heat related reasons).
  • Cooks in under 3 minutes.
  • Tastes very much as you’d expect, flavorful and the noodle consistency was perfect, not too firm, not to soggy – just be sure to stir the bottom where some of the seasoning can hang out.
  • Reminiscent of a better version of Top-Ramen sans the MSG (see more on that below)
  • It was cheap.

Cons:

  • When I pulled the plastic bowl out of the microwave and hastily ripped of the lid, I got burned and spilled Garlic Rice Noodle Soup Bowl on my counter and hand;-(  TJ’s can’t really be blamed for that.
  • There’s a decent amount of sodium in this meal.

All in all, I am 100% buying this again and will eat it.  Yumm-o’s.

Here is me trying to use the chopsticks ACCORDING to the directions…

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I love that it says “try to pick up the food”, no vote of confidence here.IMG_5465

Index and middle finger… psha!IMG_5464

All done with that.

Item number two with a recipe:  Trader (Giotto’s) Balsamic Glaze

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Why do we care about this?  Isn’t glaze the same as regular balsamic?  No my friends. A balsamic glaze is balsamic reduced by heat for quite awhile.  It tastes sweeter and is a thicker consistency.  It is not as tart.  Glaze can be made on the stove in about twenty minutes with great attention or purchased in about 20 seconds.

Here is a recipe that includes this glaze, should you desire it’s company in your cupboard.

Chef Keeli’s Caprese Salad

I was introduced to this delicious little meal while visiting my husband’s family in Arizona.  I was lying on Keeli’s couch very hungry and tired and pregnant, but doing little about it, I think a game was on.  Keeli could tell I wasn’t looking my best.  She jumped to her feet and asked if she could make me this little treat.  She is an amazing human being who deserves an award for her kindness and attention to others.  This meal deserves an award because it is quick, healthy and tasty.  And it looks much better in person than in my photos;-)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of Mozzarella (I got mine at the Costco for about $10) visual below
  • 1/2 an Avacado
  • 10-12 Mini Herlioom Tomatos
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Himalayan Salt

Directions:

  • Dice mozarella, avacado and tomatos.  Toss into bowl, season with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze.  Done-zos.
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In case you wanted a visual on the tasty and fairly inexpensive mozzarella from Costco.

I have eaten this at least three times this week, it’s am amazing snack or tiny meal;-) Thanks Keeli!!!

Did you know?  MSG is still in most of Campbell’s soups, Doritos, Pringles (it’s actually why you can’t eat just one, the chemicals make sure of that) and many Rice a Roni and Pasta Roni’s (which makes me sad, because their Rice Pilaf is so delicious:-(  It’s in a TON of other food items as well, and you’d never guess it.  MSG is typically listed as Monosodium Glutamate on food labels.  MSG turns off the signal in your brain that tells you that you’re full.  It also makes your brain think the food tastes better than it really does (chemical flavor enhancer). Many people are allergic to MSG and don’t know it.  It gives me headaches, a dry mouth and keeps me awake at night.   Next time you have a really dry mouth, think about what you ate a few hours ago to see if had MSG in it;-)  The-more-you-know-by-deviantart-StathisNHX1“The more you know” – shooting star with an 80’s celebrity ;-)

 

 

Thanks for reading!

So I went to Chicago all by my onesies

You all might think part of this story sounds kind of, “out there”.

But it honestly scared the crap out of me to write it out, so that probably means I should. Besides, I can never let this stuff go once it’s in my head, so there.

I recently went to Chicago.  All alone.  Like by myself.  I haven’t gone anywhere by myself to a place where I physically know not a soul since college.  I’ve grown accustomed to having Davin, or the kids or friends around all the time.  Apparently I like being surrounded by people.

I flew to Chicago to attend the Storyline Conference and Writer’s Workshop.

When I was 24 and lying by my parents pool one summer day with my best friend Jen, I read Donald Miller’s book, Blue Like Jazz in pretty much one sitting.  I remember telling the Lord that there were lots of authors I would love to meet, but that most of them were already dead, however, Donald Miller was still alive and if I could meet any author, it would be him.  That was over ten years ago, before authors were on facebook and twitter and were accessible.  For all I knew he was in a cabin in the woods and I had as likely chance of meeting him face to face as I did meeting a mermaid (yet another dream of mine).

So then Storyline comes up, like it did last year, except this time it’s different.  It includes a writer’s workshop – with Donald Miller as the main speaker.

One of my favorite authors is going to share his secrets on how he writes books and I could potentially meet him.

I was in anguish.  See, I’m not a hired writer, no one pays me, this isn’t a real job.  How in the world could I justify spending a bunch of money to fly to Chicago, pay for a conference, hotel and rental car, AND leave my kids for five days over Halloween when my actual main job is to be the stay at home, take care of the day-to-day life mom?  Writing at this point is just a hobby. This was crazy.  But there was a part of my heart that wanted it so bad.

Then I saw this talk by Shauna Niequest.

And I voxed two of my praying friends in tears.

“Why am I crying right now?  I’m literally crying over a video on the internet (and I wasn’t even pregnant then).  Why am I crying?”

Shauna had said something in her video that hit me deep to the core.  I’ll summarize as best as I can, although it’s worth watching the video if you have any dreams.

She essentially talked about what she’d learned from her mom who raised all the kids while her husband did full time ministry.  She dedicated everything to it, setting all her other dreams to the side, assuming she’d just pick them up when all the kids were grown.  They grew and she realized she didn’t know who she was anymore.  It took her two years to discover who she was again. ( I started crying at this point because I felt like I was on that path and it didn’t look so good for me come 20 years from now).

So, just because you’re a mom, doesn’t mean you have to let all of your dreams die or put them on hold for 25 years.  Dreams need to be kept alive, even if it’s just one hour a week because they are a part of who you are meant to be.  You’re not only a mom, a wife and a homemaker, you are a human whose other gifts are meant to bless the world.  Letting your dreams die will slowly kill you inside.

That was her message.

I took a brave breath and prayed.

Jesus, if I am meant be at this conference please make me not afraid to dream and pray about it.  I don’t want to scrape up my dead dreams at 50.  I want to live my whole life fully alive, even if it’s currently harder than letting my dreams die.

So I prayed.  For a while.

Then I got a little more brave and I straight cold asked God.  What happens if I go, and what happens if I don’t?  And that’s a little crazy to some of you but I really do ask God questions like that and I really do feel like he gives me answers sometimes.

I felt like He gave me two word pictures.  They were both long allegories, so I won’t tell them both.  In the first one, I go to the conference.  In the second one I don’t, and I wander for quite a long time before anything happens.  It was a little boring until the end.

I preferred the first one because of how I felt at the end of it.  In the second one, I end up in a dark cave full of riches, like Aladdin, but the road there was long and lonely and I had to meet a grumpy lady who didn’t like me.  57099205Meah.

Here is the first word picture, summed up.  I am outside of a huge warehouse, it’s night.  I go in the back door.  I wander through a long twisted hallway.   The kind where you walk and walk and think, where is this going?  Where is the end?  I finally get to another doorway.  It is blocked by two huge bodyguards.  They don’t want to let me in.  Inside is a dance club, a big party. Somehow, I get in, after a bit, past the bodyguards.  There is a table there for me, with my name on it, but the person who was scheduled to meet me there never shows up.  So I leave the table.  No one notices me.  I feel a bit lost.  Everyone is socializing and talking and I am just watching people.  I feel alone.  I walk to the dance floor and because I don’t know anyone there, I look down at the ground and see a coin.  It’s shiny.  A few people above on the second floor see me pick it up and are jealous because they didn’t find it.  All the sudden a giant chandelier drops down out of the ceiling and I can stand on it, it takes me up to the roof outside on the top of the building.  It is still night.  On top, the man who is in charge of the whole conference tells me all that I need to know about writing.  He shows me the entire landscape of the land. Every direction.  At this point I am overwhelmed with excitement.  I am bursting.  It’s as though I just learned everything I’ll ever need to know about writing, to finally just write without feeling like I’m missing something.  It is an amazing feeling.  I could explode.  Then all the sudden, I am somewhere else, like an Alice in Wonderland type of maze, except it’s morning now.  I walk through the landscaped walls and find myself at a dead end, with a boat to one side and a small stream.  It is set up for a party.  Creatures come and serve me a tea party.  It’s nice.  Then just like that it’s over, I get into the gondola next to me and sit in the stream for only a few seconds as it takes me past the dead end.  Then I get out.  It is still morning, so although I was deterred for a short bit, haven’t really lost any time.  I’m now out of the maze and completely free.  It’s totally open, the whole landscape.  Hills, trees, a sunrise the whole landscape is open for me to explore and I feel a complete sense of peace, satisfaction and capability to go anywhere.  It is like a crazy exhilarating feeling.

I wanted that feeling.  I wanted that end.

To me, that represented the feeling I would have in writing if I attended the conference.

So I talked to Davin and I’m pretty sure in the end we were both the bodyguards.  It was hard to justify leaving my kids.  It was hard not to feel selfish for taking a trip like this.  It’s not like we’re super loaded and can just drop two grand on a spur of the moment trip.  We researched, we prayed, I debated, I prayed.  I finally sorta-kinda committed.  I signed up for the conference.  I kept telling myself I could always back out if I needed to.  Then I reserved a hotel room.  All things I could still back out of.  Then two different rental cars.  We didn’t buy my flights until it was almost too late.  Now I couldn’t back out.

In the end, I knew I had to go.  Even though I was six weeks pregnant and beginning to feel the sharp pangs of morning (see: all day) sickness, and excessive sleepiness.  I told Jesus that he was going to have to help me A LOT on this trip.  When I travel, Davin takes care of everything.  He checks flights, carries my bags, drives the car.  All I have to do is walk next to him.  I’m like five years old in responsibility world when we travel together.  Now I had to do it all, with a preggo brain and uneasy stomach.  I put on my very tight big-girl pants and got on the plane.  I just took it one step at a time.

The conference was amazing.  I did walk away feeling like I’d finally gained the insight needed to just write confidently, not worrying that I’d be missing some obvious skill or rule that all the other writers knew.  I do feel more free to just write.  But I don’t think the whole process is complete yet.

My head was filled with so many good ideas and inspiration over those four days that I came home in a bit of a daze.  I’m still sorta in that daze.

One speaker told us to say yes to almost everything, just for the experience.  Some speakers told us to say no to almost everything, so we could say yes to only what was best.  I resonated with Shauna Niequist the most when she spoke about being very good at efficiency – getting everything done, while in the process only allotting a specific short amount of times for silly-play or fun with her family.  She shared how she’s become very good at managing everything and everyone in her life but not really living it.  I could have cried.  I know that person oh so well.  I’ve been working this past year and a half of blogging, to NOT be that person anymore. To slow down, to do less, to savor and enjoy the simple little moments more.  She talked about how we are always going to disappoint somebody, we just need to choose who.  This struck me. How many times have I chosen the wrong person to disappoint?  She also said, “only do as much as you can do in love.”  I’m not operating in love when I am rushing, getting to the next thing, or charging through a to-do list.  Shauna was inspiring and honest.

The way I’m going to apply what I’ve learned from Shauna is to start my days with Jesus.  I usually do this anyway, but I’m going to be a little more intentional about it.  Not just reading my bible like I’m pretty religious about, I want to also then spend time just talking to God.  I don’t mean praying to ask him for things which is still important, I mean praying to ask him his opinion about things, like what should my pace be today God, what’s on your heart today God? Maybe it will look more like me sitting and staring at the oaks in the field across our street and just thanking him for the beauty of the day, just resting in his creation.

In the writer’s workshop they talked all about using words, and only a few words, and only the best words… it all made me a bit intimidated to ever put a sentence on a page again.  They talked about how writing is a horrible, painful process.  By the end of it I was thinking to myself, “Why the heck do I want to be a writer?  This sounds miserable!”  But, these speakers do it for a living, and I get the pleasure of only doing it when I want, as a hobby.  So, I decided that it was okay that I still loved writing, and maybe that didn’t mean I was doing it wrong, maybe I just am just going to have the pleasure of loving it?  Let’s hope so:-)

And lastly, my favorite concept that I took from the entire conference was this: we are all telling a story with our lives, and your story matters.  They said we all have God given gifts and talents in us, and that if we are fully operating in those, we will be telling a meaningful story.  They had so many examples of people living their dreams, and changing the world in the process.  They were all unique, just a person pursuing their passion, and in the process doing something huge to help others.

So, along with me, let’s ask ourselves what truly lights us up?  What do we daydream about? Donald Miller said he daydreamed about making trails in his backyard.  He said he thought that was dumb until the life coach he was speaking to said that was exactly what J.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would do as they came up with ideas for Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

So, what do you daydream about?  It just may be the thing that helps you change the world.

Here are some obligatory photos from my trip (most of them were taken to send to Davin, and I have to say, I feel totally ridiculous taking selfies, by MYSELF.  It’s really awkward and embarrassing.  I had to keep myself from telling others around me, “these are for my husband, I’m not just in love with myself…”

Here is Portillo’s and the “meatless choices” they offer: halibut and tuna.  Not exactly what I’d call “meatless” ha!

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This idea actually makes me nervous… how do they get the food to stay fresh?IMG_4731

Full on pregnant lady meal.  A chocolate cake shake.  They literally blend chocolate cake INTO the shake.IMG_4732

The best view I actually had of Chicago – didn’t really get that close.

IMG_4746View of Shaumburg, where I was most of the time.

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Willow Creek is more like a campus, less like a church building.  Pretty cool concept.IMG_4670

Definitely sneaking pictures of Donald Miller and two directors… not really all that sneaky!
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The writer’s conference.IMG_4715

The only shot with Donald Miller, of course, it’s blurry;-)  Whateve’s I didn’t want to take up his time.  He had a looooong line of people waiting to talk to him.  Had there been time, I might have said, “Snap!  You are an amazing writer – thank you for introducing me to a type of writing that I actually felt like was a voice similar to mine.  I love your raw honesty and your writing has inspired me to write myself.  Thank you.”IMG_4734

Photo of Chicago taken in the rental car office.  IMG_4653

I love Coke slurpee’s!  At the film festival.IMG_4660

The toilets here have extremely high handles… maybe it has something to do with the cold?  It mystified me.  TMI?  Perhaps.IMG_4661Airplane ride!  I survived!!!  
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The end!

Thanks for reading!

What Really Matters

Today I came across a card I’ve had for years.  I love cards, and I collect them.  Mostly to give away, but this one I’ve kept because it has a glamorous picture of Grace Kelly on the front, and it was like over six bucks.  For years, I’ve always looked at it and thought of how she was such a beautiful woman, and how wise and gracious she always seemed.  Every time I’ve looked at the card, I’ve looked at her as though she were older and wiser than myself.

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Today I looked at it and realized she wasn’t older anymore.

When I looked at the card, closely, I realized that I am now older than the Grace Kelly on my card.  When did that happen?

I’m not in my twenties anymore.

I always thought once I was older, I would actually FEEL older, more confident of the decisions I made, more sure of myself, that I would know how to live my life and not mess up.  I would feel the way Grace Kelly looks on the front of this card.  Fully put together and wise, never letting an ungracious word come from my mouth.  Now, I know that no one is perfect, but this is just what I’ve thought.  I really believed that I’d reach an age where I finally didn’t feel like a little kid just trying to learn what I’m doing.

But I haven’t.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and wonder where the parents are in our house.  And then I realize that Davin and I are the parents.

I have another card, it’s from Hawaii.  I bought it because it reminded me of one of my best friends, mostly because there is a beautiful brown Hawaiian girl and a cute little blond girl on the cover, and whenever Jen and I take photos, I feel like we look like that, beautiful brown and pale precious blond together.

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When I looked into the eyes of the little girls, so sweet and young, hopeful, I realized something else.

We are still young.

We are so much like those little girls on the front of the Hawaiian card.  We don’t have all the answers, she and I make mistakes.  We try to cook dinners like my kids do in their pretend kitchen, we invent games to make life fun and try and go camping and have baby showers, and we have best friends that we look forward to seeing.  We are really just like children trying at life.  Especially in the areas of marriage and motherhood.

(Andrew Belle, Sister)

 

I think often times, Jesus looks less on us like adults who should have their lives together, and more like kids who are just playing at life, trying to learn and grow and explore.  I don’t think he throws up his hands in exasperation every time we do something wrong, like when I say the wrong words in a moment of frustration, or choose impatience when I should be stopping to rest in Him.  I think he sees that we are still learning and is gracious.  I think he loves that we are trying.

I think he loves that we are trying.

And when we don’t get it perfect, I think he still loves us with the same love that he always has and always will.

We don’t love our kids more when they win an award, we love them because we spend our days with them, because they are our children.  We are happy to see them succeed, mostly because it’s fun to see your own kid feel successful, but I love my kids because they are there with me in all the little moments of life, the dinners, the swim lessons, the getting ready for bed baths and brushing teeth.  We do life together, and just being around them makes them so very, very lovable.  I love them just the same at the end of the night whether they have made a million good choices or twenty bad ones.  I may be more tired or frustrated, feeling like I may have missed something or be failing them, but I never feel like I don’t love them with all of my heart.  And, since Jesus already knows how to do his job perfectly, he doesn’t get frustrated, wondering how he could possibly do it better.  Nope.  He just continues to love and chase after us with his fierce, unrelenting love.  I don’t think he’s he’s worried that he’ll loose us.

I think I beat myself up too much.  I give myself a hard time every time I don’t do something perfect.  And I imagine Jesus is thinking the same.  When really, instead of looking at myself and my mess-ups, I’d do better just to look at Christ, and see his deep love for me reflected in his eyes, in his real life actions towards me.  In the sunset he made to say, “I love you and I want you to have beautiful moments” in the surprise part of the day when my son comes running into the kitchen while I’m cleaning up breakfast and says, “Mama, I love you” and then gives me a kiss for no reason.  When I find myself with my head against my husband’s chest and his arms wrapped around me tight, thinking, this is how much God loves me, he loves me like this.  Or even in the quiet moments when I can hear him say to me, “Peace, be at peace.  You don’t need to rush in this life.”

When my toddler brings me a toy kitchen pan with a pretend apple in it and says with all the enthusiasm IN THE WOLRD, “MOMMY!!!!  I MAKE YOU A WOOSIE!!!! (smoothie), I don’t think to myself, “shoot, this girl doesn’t know an apple from a frozen beverage!”  No, she’s just trying, she’s playing and pretending.  It’s not the end of the world.

I think Jesus knows the whole picture.  I think he trusted us enough to give us free will, to get it wrong sometimes, but I think he knows that we are going to choose him.

One time I had a dream.  It was years and years ago.  I was at a point in my twenties where I felt like my life was a waste because I had everything physically that I wanted, but not relationally.  I wanted a husband and a family.  I had the house, the job, the car, the friends, but not what my heart truly, truly wanted and there was nothing I could see that I could do to make it happen.  I was so frustrated at God for not giving me what I thought was so important in that moment.

In my dream, I found myself in a completely white place.  It was nothing of this world that I have ever seen, the basic rules of science and gravity on earth did not exist in this place.  Every being was under God and his authority.  I couldn’t see him, but he was in front of me.  I was suspended in the air, and nothing looked familiar.  I knew that I knew, there was no way I could lie, or get around what was the ultimate authority in front of me.  I wasn’t getting out of anything here.  Everyone and everything was in agreement that God was the authority, and I felt very, very small.  He then called me into question, “What do you have to say for yourself?”

I thought of my whole life on earth.  Everything I’d ever done, good, attempts at good, any of it.

It all amounted to nothing in the place where I was.  NUUAAHHH-THING.

It was if I was the defending lawyer in the case of the century, the whole world involved, and I brought kindergarden coloring scribbles.  I was like, “Here, this is my evidence.”  That would be absurd.  It wouldn’t even begin to be close to anything even remotely helpful in my position as a defending lawyer.  I’d be laughed at.

That was what ALL of my life amounted to in front of God, kindergarden scribbles.

Then, I could feel someone standing behind me.  I recognized him.  It was Jesus.  I said, “He knows me!  He knows me!”  That’s all I could say of any value in that place.  He was the ONLY reason that I was allowed to continue standing where I was.  Because I knew Jesus.  I knew him well enough to recognize him standing behind me.

I say all this to remind myself about what truly matters in this whole life of menu planning, diets, exercise, sleep schedules, ironing clothes, sweeping the floor and trying to do everything right according to this world and Pinterest and Facebook and Martha Stewart and Pottery Barn catalogues.  And no, my house is not decorated for fall, and that’s okay.

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I still don’t even have a coffee table for our upstairs media room, for over two and a half years, we have held our cups and popcorn while watching movies.  We have unending projects and sometimes I just don’t want to cook dinner or sweep the floor, and I’m pretty sure I found a spider under the kitchen cabinets who’s been living there for the last four months.  My life is so messy, and it doesn’t really, really matter on the big scale of things.

But what really matters?

That I know the One who really matters.

Romans 12:2 The Message (MSG)

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

As always, thanks for reading.

It’s our Anniversary

So I was recently with a friend, and she was sharing her wedding scrapbook.  It was the best, because I didn’t know them back then, and I’d never seen their “baby” wedding pictures or heard the stories.  I was so grateful she dug them out and told her story.  It was so much fun.

So, as we are now celebrating our 7th year of marriage, and some of you didn’t know us back then, I thought I’d do a post with photos.  Because I can, it’s fun, and reminiscing makes me happy.  Our wedding was beautiful and it was before Pinterest and we still rocked it.

Davin and I met in January of 2007 and were married in September of 2007.  I remember at one point, I had this feeling that he was my husband before we even started dating.  It made no sense, because I wasn’t even trying to date him.  I just have this vivid memory of being in his house for a Super Bowl party, and looking over at him thinking, hey that’s my husband, and this is my house.  I can’t explain it, I just had this feeling.  I thought it was a pretty crazy-random thought and dismissed it as one of those things where I figured I’d just see what happened in our lives to decide if it was true or not.

90 % sure this was from the Super Bowl party

The weekend before he told me he liked me, I was in my classroom on a Friday afternoon briefly prepping for the week ahead.  I had this strong feeling that I should make sub plans for the following week.  It’s something I’d never do, unless I knew I was going to be absent.  I’m more of a teach off the cuff kind of teacher anyway, so I didn’t typically super detail out my lesson plans, I’d just prep, overview and go with it.  But it was such a strong feeling, that I completely wrote out the next weeks lessons as though someone else was going to do it for me.  I actually wondered if I was going to be in the hospital or something.

Thank goodness, because the following night, Davin told me he liked me.  We went on our first date the next day and he kissed me that night.  I was a complete basket case the whole next week, and I was so grateful for my “sub plans” to help me actually teach.

God knew what was up, the Holy Spirit totally helped me out and I didn’t even know what was going on!

After dating two weeks, we both knew we were in it for reals.  It was like I had known him my whole life.  I can’t think of any other experience that has been like that, it’s like time couldn’t hold back the truth, that we’d already spent our lives together, even though we were just starting out.

Sounds crazy, I know.

We dated four months before we got engaged, and were married three months later.

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Tainted Love concert

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Tahoe weekend with my parents. Separate beds of course! I will confess, I contemplated sneaking into his room to snuggle him and thought, “it’s not worth it! It’s not worth it, you’ll be married soon enough!” Waiting was SOOOOOO hard.

bek & davin winery

Napa with his family

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One of our professional engagement photos.

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Santa Cruz engagement photos taken by my dad.

Then we did it!  The sky was cloudy and it rained earlier in the day.  It was my kind of perfect day.

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Handsome dude.

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Davin’s sister, Keeli with grandpa Irvin.  Keeli is one of the most generous and giving people I know, it makes sense that she’s a nurse, her husband Jake is pretty rad too.  They make a great pair.

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Davin said he knew I’d still be hot when I was older because my mom was so beautiful.  Thanks mom!

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GG, and the cousins! Taylor and Tanner.

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My gramma Jo is the reason I’ve always wanted to be a good cook and have a large family. My grandpa is one of the reasons I knew I could go to college. When I was in elementary school, he’d have academic conversations with me over coffee. I ended up living with them while attending Cal, full circle people, full circle.  Love you gramps, see you in awhile.

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My gramma D has always been a portrait of regal grace and beauty. My grandpa Jack knew how to enjoy life. I try to apply all this in my own life in different ways. Plus, my grandpa always smelled good, I even stole one of his t-shirts and still wear it. I miss you gramps, see you in heaven.

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My in-law’s have the biggest hearts. They LOVE their family. It’s something I’ve always admired about Davin. Thanks mom and dad for letting me marry your son even though you’d only met me twice!!!  My father-in-law really, really loves his girls (Pam and Keeli), I knew Davin would be a loving, generous and kind husband after I’d gotten to know his dad;-)  Thanks Ivan!

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Of course I love this picture. My brother did the opening prayer.

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I will say, some days I wake up and don’t feel all that beautiful. In this moment, I felt perfectly beautiful.

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My dad performed the ceremony.  He’s a minister, so it was legit;-)

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I still adore each one of these girls. I feel pretty blessed that they are all still in my life. (sorry Keeli that you’re out of the shot, I would crop you in but my photoshop skills are seriously lacking).

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Often, when geese fly over our house, I remember how they flew over our ceremony at the perfect time. I felt like it was just another way God was showing us, “Hey, I love you guys!  It’s going to be a good marriage.”

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Probably my favorite shot of our wedding. I love that my dad is in it. He’s been pretty instrumental in Davin and I’s walk together. Being a minister, he’s got some really good advice;-) I have Davin’s ring on my right hand, because during our ceremony we exchanged promise rings. I’m so glad we kept that promise, one of the best gifts ever.

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Moving on to the reception inside.

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My brother is still one of my favorite people. To say that I trust him or love him is an understatement. He was my best friend growing up. We used to sing/yell at the top of our lungs when my parents were out of the house and we could harmonize with the vacuum. We used to listen to Michael Bolten when we fell asleep (my parents cassette tape collection was limited;-). We would knock on the wall four times to say, “I love you” when it was past bedtime and we were not suppos-to talk. When he didn’t finish eating his brussels sprouts and my mom set the timer, I’d run the garbage disposal while doing the dishes just to give him a few extra minutes. I took him and his friends to concerts and skate parks and loved being the big sister. We played worship music together and served in our church. Now he’s a husband, father and my neighbor. And, nobody ever messes with him, because he fully lives up to his nickname, Bear;-)

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I used to hide army men all over my friends rooms when they were gone. They repaid the favor;-)

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Davin looks so young in this one.

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This one is because I wanted to show off my beautiful dress. I still put it on and walk/dance around the house every year on my birthday, because why not?

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We were like, “we get to spend the night together tonight!!! FINALLY!”

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My brother and his friends fully enacted the Thriller dance including a fight. It was fantastic.

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Gettin’ down!

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This was his theme to life. Just enjoying it.

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They were like Davin’s little brothers growing up.

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So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

We go into marriage, thinking it will be like this, and it is.

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But other times it’s like this

R & D 0858 I’m glad to say that I’m still married to my best friend.

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“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham

Our marriage isn’t perfect, because there is no such thing as a perfect marriage.  It’s just a marriage that is full of love and forgiveness, because we’ve put Christ at the center of it.  And he’s been the one to hold us together.

I’d say 97% of our days have been really fun, and 3% have been kinda crappy.  And those aren’t too bad of stats.

Davin, if I get to live out my days with you by my side, I will be one blessed girl.

All of your pieces.

I have some embarrassing news.

I’ve been doing this thing, (well up until God revealed it to me this weekend while praying with Davin), that when things were getting stressful, I’d imagine I was somewhere else.  I did this for like, weeks.

Now, I know that sounds harmless enough, but assure you, it’s not.

It was killing my life.  Like, my real one.  Because when my real one was getting to stressful I’d imagine I was just… somewhere else.  Anywhere.  A beach, a spa.  A desert.  I didn’t care, as long as in my imagination, I was alone.  And it was silent.  And no one needed anything from me in my imaginary world.  It could be a foreign country where I don’t even know the language and that seemed easier in my mind than wherever I was at the moment.  I was just gone in my mind.  Because it seemed easier than facing my real emotions on what was really happening.  It seemed safer.

Sometimes I hate that I have emotions at all.  I just wish I didn’t feel stressed or angry or anything.  I’ve told God more than once, “why did you give me emotions if I can’t even handle them properly?”  I know, what a whiner.

Instead of praying, I’d just sigh a sigh of discontentment and then imagine myself away.  It didn’t really make me happy, it just seemed easier than really accepting that I completely fail and that I still need God.  I don’t like that I still need God.  I wan’t to be perfect on my own.

Here is a first world problem example from last Thursday of a time when I mentally tried to escape, if you don’t feel like hearing a negative parenting experience, read on past the italics. Here’s the scene: Last week, we arrived to swim lessons 20 minutes early because we had to pay for lessons on new credit card because the old one was hacked.  Swim is stressful because everyone has to go potty before they swim, and there is a fine line between on time and too early.  Too much time sitting and waiting with three small persons in bathing suits can create mutiny.  So, I took the kids potty and had something like fourteen minuets left.  More than enough time to handle the payment, I am such a responsible mother who has her act together.  Not so. We waited in line behind ONE person for like over twelve minutes because they had a thousand good questions and were brand new, but didn’t want to be on a schedule, just pick a day once in a while and come… so they are looking at calendars and I am trying not to say negative things in my mind about people who can’t just make a decision and pick a day!  After this person who has no lessons scheduled gets a full tour of the facility, the receptionist comes back in a leisurely manner.  I then attempt to pay as quickly as possible and it still takes over five minutes to figure it out because computers are confusing and her’s was unfortunately from the 1990’s, then… wait for it, Ellie poops her swim diaper.  Perfect.  Once we finish, I rush the kids to pick up the mess on the floor, rush them back to the bathroom, attempt to put Ellie in a new swim diaper (at least I had an extra), and we are now LATE for swim.  I accept absurd defeat.  We are now wasting money on swim lessons that aren’t happening.  This should not have happened like this.  I tried so hard to be responsible. And now the older two kids are looking under the stall at some other woman and her child (I’ve told them NOT to do this a million times), then they are touching bathroom floor, Ellie’s poop falls onto a bench and I’ve about lost it.  We are late to lessons even though we were here TWENTY minuets early!  There is poop on a bench, a toddler is laughing, and my kids faces are near the bathroom floors!!! AGGGGHHH!  All I said was, “SIT DOWN NOW.” and then point my finger to a space on a bench.  It not only put fear into my children, who quickly acquiesced, but I believe also into the poor woman and her daughter who probably thought I was the most stressed, frazzled and grumpy woman to ever parent children.  She cowered out of the stall and went on her way.  When we finally made it to the pool, we were late and I was not smiling.

As I hashed and rehashed how in twenty short minutes I went from relaxed and happy to stress-case, I told God all about how all satan has to do is get me in a bathroom alone with three small children and I will loose my mind all up in he-ah! But that doesn’t matter.  God is bigger than bathrooms, and late swim lessons.  But in my mind, I wasn’t even giving him the chance to be.

I just sighed, told God again that I obviously wasn’t fit for this job and he should just retire me and send me somewhere that doesn’t involve me being perfect.

I didn’t take the time to hear him tell me that he hasn’t called me to perfection.

I was already gone.  In my mind I was just in some trees, staring.  It was quiet and I was alone.  And at least there I wasn’t ruining little peoples lives by not being able to handle my emotions in public bathrooms.

My kids were happy swimming.  I was watching them and wishing I was a perfect parent who never made mistakes.  I was disqualifying myself again, telling myself how I should have done better.

So, this is bad for a number of reasons, I get that.  And giving myself a mental lobotomy/vacation is not the answer.  Going away in my mind didn’t even make me feel any better, it just made me feel nothing, which is the gateway to apathy.  Scary.

Over the last few weeks, I had been slowly detaching myself, and my emotions from my own life.  From my children, from my marriage, from anything that made me feel something negative.  And it was beginning to affect my actual life, at least on my end.  Fortunately, it quickly caught up to me and God revealed the problem.

I would never in a million years actually leave my family, not physically.  But I was doing it.  In my mind.  In my spirit, I was basically checking out.  They were all there, yelling, touching bathroom floors, doing whatever was too much, and I was just like, “I can’t even handle this anymore, I want an imaginary life where I don’t feel frustrated.”

After a weekend of feeling down and restless, the Lord revealed in prayer to both Davin and I that mentally checking out was not helping us.  It was detaching us from our family.  From each other.  After we prayed, we committed to holding each other accountable, by texting or calling when we felt like mentally escaping, and instead just asking for prayer and then waiting for God to show up.

Here’s how my week has been.  Besides amazing.

And here’s a song for you to listen while you read, if you’re into that kind of thing.  It’s called Pieces by Andrew Belle.

So, I currently have a horrific cold, the kind where your entire face is leaking.  I took medicine to help and I haven’t taken cold medicine in like over three years, because normally I just deal.  So, I felt pretty hideous, but here is Dani.  I spent some one-on-one time with her in her room.  She put her crown on me and said,

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“You look like a beautiful mommy.

You look better than anything.” 

I had to stop and take a picture, and then type out what she said, because I wanted to remember that moment forever, and share it with her when she was grown, to remind her of who she is.

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Here’s Ellie this morning during our date (the twins were in preschool) and she’s wearing my old baby bonnet.

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Here is Dani kissing my leg this afternoon because I don’t feel good.

We read this in a book last week and started saving our boxes for a town…

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We made the town today

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It was messy and chaotic, but we all enjoyed ourselves.

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I asked Ellie what she wanted her store to be called, she said, “green.”

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I made a streetlamp.

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My church slogan was inspired by Kid President’s post, An Open Letter to Moms.

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I feel it’s also necessary to share that I made a hair boutique with a drawing of a poodle and an glorious old woman with big white hair, and a slogan that says, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.”  I plan to have very big hair when I am older.  It will be the biggest.

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When I asked Dani what her store was called, she said, “a hand store, where if your hand is hurting, they make it better.”  I feel like she might be in a nurse or a surgeon when she grows up.

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This firehouse is an ode to my Grandpa Jack.  He was a fireman in Alameda, CA.  He once did a safety demonstration of how to jump off a building onto one of those fireman catcher things.

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It’s called a life net.  He jumped down three stories and landed wrong, breaking his leg.  He never let the crowd know, he just jumped up smiled and walked off on a broken leg, everyone left feeling safe thinking that life nets were probably a good option and not to be afraid of them.

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“Home of the Famous Jumping Jack Reason”

I saw the film, The Giver a few weekends ago.  It was perfect timing.  I was really down and not sure why I was so despondent over life.  It wasn’t until the end of a day by myself that I realized I was still mourning the loss of our baby.  I was driving home in the car, and I started singing.  It was a love song.  I started crying, singing it to my baby in heaven.  Then I knew.  I knew why I was feeling everything I was.

I came home to an empty house and cried over and over to God,

“I just wanted that baby.”

“I just wanted that baby.”

“I just want MY baby.”

I accused God of taking him or her because I wasn’t a good enough mom. That if I had just made better dinners and didn’t get angry, then maybe he would have let me keep this precious, precious baby.  I knew it wasn’t really true when I said it all out loud.  But that didn’t keep me from feeling it.

I told him everything I felt, even though I knew it wasn’t all quite true.

Then I felt his peace wash over me.  A peace that maybe this baby wasn’t healthy and whole enough to be born.  A peace that maybe it wasn’t all my fault.  A peace that this baby was in heaven and that every time I kissed one of my babies on earth, maybe this baby in heaven could know and feel how loved he or she was too.

Watching The Giver reminded me why God gives us emotions in the first place.  So many times, I’d rather do without them.  Or at least that’s what I think.  Because it’s no fun to feel these types of emotions.  They are like a storm at sea.

A wise friend recently told me to ride the waves.  Not to stand there and fight them, letting them overtake me and drown me, but to ride them out and know that they will take me somewhere.

So, it’s okay to mourn.

It’s okay that I feel sad.

It’s okay to feel angry.

It doesn’t mean I make all of my decisions on my emotions, or justify acting in anger.  It just means that I’m human, and I can ask God to meet me there, in the middle of my storm, and calm my seas.  And wait for him to say, “It’s okay about all the mess ups.”

And know that I don’t have to be perfect.

And it’s better that I need him.

Anyway, this film reminded me of the beautiful messiness of life.  And how sometimes it’s a perfect mess.  I recommend it.  You should see it.

As always, thank you for reading.