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.

photo 1

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.

photo 2

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.41.40 PM

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.

Tainted Love 029

Tainted Love concert

April 008

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

IMG_6978

One of our professional engagement photos.

Dad's Camera - July 055

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.

R & D 0457

Handsome dude.

R & D 0499

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.

R & D 0294

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

R & D 0505

GG, and the cousins! Taylor and Tanner.

R & D 0508

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.

R & D 0509

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.

R & D 0514

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!

R & D 0515

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

R & D 0542

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

R & D 0320 R & D 0322 R & D 0532 R & D 0537

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

R & D 0631

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).

R & D 0637

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.”

R & D 0674

R & D 0697

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.

R & D 0786 R & D 0787 R & D 0798

Moving on to the reception inside.

R & D 0852

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;-)

R & D 0854

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

R & D 0945

Davin looks so young in this one.

R & D 0951

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?

R & D 0958

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

R & D 1084

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

R & D 1008

Gettin’ down!

R & D 1085

This was his theme to life. Just enjoying it.

R & D 1097

They were like Davin’s little brothers growing up.

R & D 1131

So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

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

R & D 0804

But other times it’s like this

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

TheAnthonyFamily (255 of 330) TheAnthonyFamily (245 of 330)

“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,

IMG_3273

“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.

IMG_3269

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

IMG_3315

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…

IMG_3292

We made the town today

IMG_3288 IMG_3287

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

IMG_3330

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

IMG_3318 IMG_3317

IMG_3311

I made a streetlamp.

IMG_3306

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

IMG_3303

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.

IMG_3301

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.

IMG_3300

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.

life_net

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.

IMG_3298

“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.

Cornerstone

How’s it going?

This is a pretty normal question that lots of people ask me on a regular basis.  My answer is usually, “things are going pretty good, it’s been a nice summer…”

However, if I’m in a moment where I’m thinking about the baby we lost, I might say something more like, “Things are getting better.”  Sometimes I forget who I’m talking to, and if they knew or not.

Then I remember that not everyone reads my blog or knows what happened.

It’s strange to experience such a great loss, and realize that the whole world didn’t stop.

After the loss, we went to church a few days later on a Saturday night.  It happened to be celebration weekend at our church.  We were celebrating everything God had done and was doing for our church.  Lots of people were really happy.  There was an air of joy in the building.

I didn’t feel like I belonged there.

I wanted to leave and not ruin the party.

I didn’t feel like celebrating anything.

But I felt something in me tell me to stay, and decided that it was okay if I was sad and everyone else was happy.  It was still my church, and these people loved me weather I was smiling or not.  I was safe here.

During worship, we sang the song, Cornerstone by Hillsong.

Here are some of the words:

Christ alone, cornerstone
Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

My husband sat on my left and held my hand, and my dear friend sat on my right and held my other hand as I sat and cried/ attempted to sing.

“This is the hardest part” she said.

She would know.  She’s had three miscarriages.

She knows my pain.  She’s cried these tears.

She held my hand as I sang all the words as full as I could with a lump in my throat.

My eyes were blurry with tears, knowing the words were true.

She was right.  This was the hardest part.  Believing that Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.

But I was choosing to believe it.  Right there, right then.  In that very difficult moment.  I knew God had not abandoned me, and his love for me pierced something deep in my heart.

After a while, I felt God speak to me.  He said, “the angels are singing over your baby.”

I started crying, sobbing.

My baby was safe.  My baby was with Jesus.

I tried to sing again, and asked if maybe the baby could hear my voice too.  I sang as best I could, crying and cracking and singing, imagining that my baby could hear his or her Mama’s voice praising God among the angels.  I sang the words over my baby,

Then He shall come with trumpets sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless, stand before the throne

I will not sit in sorrow, refusing to believe what is good about God.  I will not let my sadness drag me into a place of misery, believing lies that God doesn’t care.  I will choose to take God at his word.  He’s been there for me before, he will be here with me now, he will never leave or forsake me.  Not ever.

I am His.

My Favorite Smoothie/Shake-ish of ALL TIME.

That is a tall order.

I drink this smoothie almost every single day.

It’s that good.

Now that I’ve talked it up, probably WAY to much, here’s the recipe with photos:

The Harry Belafonte 

photo 1

1 1/2 cups milk (I use TJ’s Almond Beverage, Original)

1 to 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coco powder

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla (no alcohol fake kind, gross-ee, as Ellie would say)

1 to 2 handfuls of frozen* spinach (depending on your spinach mood)

1 to 1 1/2 frozen chopped spotted to brown bananas**

photo 2

Put everything into your blender in that order, and then blend.  You’re all set for a great way to start out your day.  Or if it’s evening and you’re craving a milkshake, leave out the spinach, and add in a little extra chocolate and vanilla.  It’s a pretty decent substitute to a thousand calorie shake.  Now listen to this song… 

photo 4

photo 5

*Spinach doesn’t have to be frozen, it just keeps MUCH longer that way, so I always keep a few bags in my freezer.

**I buy around 36 bananas at a time, let them brown, then chop and freeze them all in ziplock bags.  Then I’m set for a few weeks.  If you keep the bag thin enough, you can break off banana chunk sections and toss into your smoothie, guessing on the amount.  So far this is the easiest way of freezing, storing and using frozen bananas. Be prepared for the checker to make a joke about how many bananas you are buying.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

Bora Bora

What up y’all?

IMG_6503

Obligatory beach vacation photo.

I am fully embracing summer.  It’s like 100 million degrees here in sunny California, and I’ve decided to just go with it.  Should you come by my house at any unexpected moment, you might just find me in our pool, near our pool or making dinner while the kids are in the pool with Davin.  Bora Bora has taught me something, and that is: I take myself way too seriously, and I just need to chill.

Is the sun out?  Yes.

Am I at home with kids all day?  Yes.

Should I take my naps outside in the pool (while my kids are napping) and get a tan without feeling guilty that part of my everyday summer parenting experience includes me lounging in the pool every day for a half an hour to sleep and tan?  Yes I should.

I have brought Bora Bora home.  Also, my laptop might overheat because I am currently typing outside by the pool.  In fact, it just got sprayed by the pool cleaner thing.  Whateve’s I don’t even care it’s all good.

Here is my very best 4th Grade State Report summary of Bora Bora.  If that didn’t just get you way excited, I don’t know what could.  Also, I feel like when people take vacations, and don’t give me a play-by-play, I am deprived.  I want photos and stories.  I want to hear it all because I am vicariously enjoying your vacation.  Yes I am.  So, when you come home from Disneyland, Europe, Alaska, Weed… wherever, I want to hear ALL about it, because it’s fun.

BORA BORA!!!  Let’s go together through pictures!

Bora Bora is amazing.  And it takes like almost a full day to get there from the West Coast – but that matters not once you are there.  It actually felt short to us, but that is because we are parents of young children, and for me, the trip literally started the moment we walked through the airport doors.  I looked around and smiled, and then slipped into cruise control. Which actually looked more like me just staring and smiling and looking at everything.  A few times Davin had to say, “Are you okay? You’re so distracted.”  I was like, “Huh, what?  I actually get to look around someplace and just watch people… this never happens.  No one NEEDS anything from me.”  That in itself was amazing.  Visiting the airport.  Also, if your ever in the International Airport in LAX, hit up Ink Sack it’s delicious, then grab some wine in the wine bar next door, they will let you bring your samiches’ over.

IMG_1600

This photo says, “I have no children under my direct care right now.”

IMG_1599

Best airport food to date.

IMG_1601

Date night at the airport

Back to Bora Bora.  Here’s an ariel view, that is not pretend.  This is real life.  You get here after leaving LA, landing on Papeete, then taking a small (see: exciting turbulence) to this island.  If you sit on the left side of the plane, you are treated with a view similar to this.

Then you get a boat ride all the way around the main island to your resort.  So for us it was Airplane ride #1,2,3 and Boat ride #1.  22 hours of travel = that was nothin’.  When we arrived, they played us a song on a ukulele, blew a conch and gave us leis and coconuts to drink from. It was like lifestyles of the Rich and Famous all up in here.

IMG_6213

The song was called, “I’ve had no sleep and I don’t even care!”

IMG_1612

Free breakfast the first day? YES please!

IMG_1613

This was only my first plate. There were also crepes and other delights. That is fresh swordfish. Mmmmmmm.

IMG_1616

The water is a million different shades of blue and turquoise.  Every time the sky changes, the water does as well.  It’s like a constantly shifting piece of art.  There are also no bugs or animals that will kill you on the island.  I saw that as a natural plus.

IMG_1648

Sunrise in Bora Bora

IMG_6227

Waking up in Bora Bora

IMG_6271 IMG_6228

I am partially convinced it was like a sneaky visit to heaven, like a preview of what it’s going to be like.  We were told it was once a volcano that collapsed on itself and made this amazing motu/reef surrounding it which makes the water almost lake like some days.

The air.  I have to talk about it, because it was amazing.

On our resort’s island, the air was a perfect mix of warm and humid but not too sticky.  The main island occasionally lacks the breeze, but out on the ocean we stayed nice and cool.

IMG_6215

Side view of our hut.

Once we realized there were no bugs, we slept all night with our windows and slider open.

IMG_1652

Romance in Bora Bora

IMG_1679

Drinks! We made our own most of the time.  Drink recipe below ~  you’re welcome.

IMG_1655

Behind our island is the Corral Gardens.  It’s one of the better spots for snorkeling with fish in Bora Bora.

Davin and I did a 4×4 tour one day, which happened to be private, only because no one else had booked it.  I totally recommend it, as we were able to see the whole island and get a lot of history in about three hours.  It was like serious Indiana Jone’s style though.  In ten days, Hawaii gets as many visitors as Bora Bora does in a year.  It’s a great place to be if you want to run into like 5 people and that’s it.

IMG_1683

Roadside coconut stand. Delish.

IMG_1694

Indy!

IMG_1709

View from the main island.

IMG_1628

These trees are so fun.

IMG_6306 IMG_1707

And we went to a luau…

IMG_6342

Super fun luau. They all seemed like family and friends, and would laugh at each other while they performed, and make jokes.

IMG_1724

To quote the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, “Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool”

IMG_6390

Night in Bora Bora.  Davin’s amazing photography.

IMG_6408

Night from the top of our island.

IMG_1809

This is after I smashed my face into a boat prop while chasing a lemon shark.  I am in pain but still happy in this photo.  See how swollen the right side of my face is?  See that scrape on my nose?  Owwww.

IMG_1824

This was the view from our bungalow, sitting in our lounge chairs.  It made me feel better.

IMG_1943

Drinks in the resort lounge.  “I’m SO FANCY! You already know!” – Iggy Azalea

IMG_1839

These are our RAD friends we met on our trip. We had them over for drinks. They kayaked over to our island because they are bad-A’s.

IMG_1735

Lastly we took a lot of photos and chilled.  The chilling was my favorite part.  Sometimes we’d wake up early to watch the sunrise on the top of the island, and other nights we’d hike to to the top to see the sunset.  It was just. So. Beautiful.  And I want to go back.  Someday.

To sum it up.  Sprinkle all of your magical dreams of a tropical vacation onto a sparkly unicorn, hop into the saddle and watch it gallop you over a rainbow and fly off into the sky.  That is Bora Bora.

Thanks for reading!

Bora Bora Beach Drink Recipe (stir fast with ice) - an accidentally modified version from the one I was taught by a fancy underground barkeep

2 oz. Rum (I prefer light, but either would work, we used Bacardi)

4 oz. Juice (mango, oj, sprite, your choice)

3/4 oz. Cointreau (& we tossed in 3/4 St. Germain bc I confused the recipe;-)

1 oz. Pineapple Juice (they sell this non-concentrate at TJ’s BTW)

Serve in a collins glass with a cup full of ice.  Enjoy~

our baby’s in heaven

IMG_4538A while back, I felt like I should take a break from writing.  We had a lot going on with birthdays, vacations and the end of the school year.  I felt the Lord whisper to, “take a break and just rest”.  Funny, a week after I decided to listen, we found out we were pregnant… with our fourth.  We were excited and a bit overwhelmed at the idea of four kids, but mostly just stoked.  I was really wanting another baby… and so was Davin.

These last few months have been gloriously free from most social media, blogging and all the “writing thoughts” that go on in my mind during the day.  I took a step back from all that I was engaged in and just rested with my family.  I played with my family, took naps and ate snacks.  Not much to worry about except what I should eat.  Pregnant ladies get really, really hungry… all day long.  It’s a serious business, that eating.

A week ago, we discovered that our baby had gone to heaven… with… out… our permission.  He or she most likely went to heaven around nine and a half weeks, because that’s what the ultra sound showed the growth rate at the day before our miscarriage, information we didn’t have until the following day.  I was fortunate enough to have a natural miscarriage, without any medical procedures.  Since we had never experienced one, and still didn’t have the news from our doctor that the baby had stopped growing, we at first were still hopeful that maybe the baby was okay even with the spotting, since it can be normal in pregnancy.  (Warning: the rest of this paragraph may be TMI for you… warning… warning!)  By 2:30 am when my water broke, we were pretty sure things weren’t okay.  By 4:30 am, after much bleeding and contractions we knew I was miscarrying our baby.  By 8:30 that morning, my contractions stopped, and the bleeding subsided, our baby was in heaven.

We cried when it was happening.  We cried when we realized our hopes for our little Dude or Lady in January were crashed.  We cried to think of the sweet child that we would never get to know on earth.  We cried just thinking about telling our kids that the baby they loved in Mommy’s tummy was in heaven.

It was sad.  But you know what else?  It was inexplicably covered in peace.  Literally just how the scripture that says in Philippians 4:7,  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  A peace really did come over us and that transcended ALL understanding.  

I know it’s early in the process, and I’m sure there is more grieving to be done.  I am not minimizing that.  I am just saying that in the midst of physically experiencing a miscarriage and not realizing what was going on right away, in the midst of understanding the truth that our baby wasn’t with us anymore, in the midst of grieving the loss – I still felt surrounded by peace.  If that doesn’t transcend all understanding, I don’t know what does.

Worldly logic says I shouldn’t be able to feel any peace in the midst of this sorrow.

Here’s something else.  The day before when I was getting the silent ultra sound, (I say that because the tech only asked me three questions, then never spoke again…) the tech finished and went to see if the radiologist wanted to share any information with me, which he did not. While I waited, I stood there thinking, hmmm, this wasn’t like all my other ultra sounds where the sweet lady says, “ohhhh, here’s the baby’s heartbeat!  Here’s the hands!” it was just some weird dude saying not a word.  Thoughts started to cross my mind that the spotting might have actually meant that something was wrong.  When I started to panic and get sad, I heard the Nat King Cole song, “Smile” on the speakers in the hallway.  It’s a pretty tragic song guys, if you start playing it while you read this, you might just cry.  So only do that if you want a good cry.  Once I heard the sound of Nat’s voice, I felt this crazy peace rush over me and I was back at my grandparents’ house, as a kid, listening to their records.  My grandpa is already in heaven and I felt like that was God’s way of saying, “Yea, this is rough, but it’s going to be okay.  We go way back, I was there with you then, and I’ll be here for you now.”

Guys, I didn’t walk through this miscarriage alone.

God surrounded me with his presence in so many ways.  Jesus showed up in Davin as he sat near me the entire night, holding my hand, taking care of my every need, being unbelievably supportive, loving, amazing and strong.  He showed up in the love and support of my family and friends through texts, muffins, flowers, cards and a friend watching our three kids so Davin could go with me to the doctors to make sure I was healthy the next day.  God was gracious to take the baby to heaven earlier in my pregnancy, when it wasn’t as difficult to miscarry naturally.  He timed it so we’d still have space to heal before we go on the crazy awesome tropical kid-free vacation we’d planned for this summer.  I even still get to  look forward to and celebrate a baby right around Christmas, since my brother and his wife will be having their second then (#babyfix)!  And, I felt his grace when I held my three kids the next morning in the kitchen, thinking that some women experience a miscarriage, and don’t yet have a child to hold and thank him for.

I keep thinking of all the ways that he was so gracious to me, even in the midst of this sorrow. And, it doesn’t make me not sad that my sweet baby is in heaven.  That I’ll never hear this kid laugh or see he or she smile on this earth.  But seeing God show up in so many different ways made me feel like there must be something bigger going on than my plans and purposes. Because those weren’t my plans and purposes.

God is sovereign.

Does that mean he wanted my baby to die and my pregnancy to end in a miscarriage?  No. Not at all.

We live in a non-Eden world.  It’s not a perfect heaven just yet.  God’s given us the power of free will, making our world a messy, sin-filled, sometimes crappy place that we get to bring light into through Christ’s love.

God is sovereign means that he has a bigger plan that he is working out in spite of sin’s effects on this world, making room for his love in the tough stuff.  And because he sent his Son to die for our sins, we know that his whole plan is motivated around his love for us.  Even when it doesn’t look like it.  Even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

We toss the word love around like it’s whatever, but when you really, really think about it – God loves ultimately, fully, completely and perfectly, each one of us.  And somehow, I think that truth resonates with you, somewhere deep, deep down in your heart.  And if you want him in your life, you don’t have to be perfect, it’s as simple as this prayer,

“Jesus, please forgive me for all the stuff I’ve done that didn’t honor you.  I’m sorry.  Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  Please come into my life and begin to make stuff right.  I want to see you transform my life into something beautiful.  Please be Lord of my life.  Amen.”

That’s kinda a, “Jesus Take the Wheel” type of thing, giving your life over to him;-)  It’s sorta a big deal, so If you did pray that for the first time, you should find someone who reads their bible and let them know so they can help you find a church.  Walking with Jesus is never an orphan experience, you need a big family around you, reminding you about God’s love and truth in word and action.  And, some churches are awesome and some are not, or can be super old-school and if that’s not your thing, keep looking until you find the one that feels like home.

And, like I told Davin after we’d finished crying, “Hey, that’s the BEST kid we ever raised!  That baby is in heaven!  SUCESS!”  God can bring good out of anything.  We high-fived with tears still running down our faces, knowing that there was still joy in our future.

Now I am a mom of four (actually maybe five, we thought we were pregnant before this one and then weren’t after a few days, so maybe number four has a sibling in heaven).  Either way, I have three little ones on earth to raise-up to know the Jesus that their little sibling or siblings are hanging out with right now.

And that’s a huge job.

Thanks for reading.

And for those of you who just love to cry… I give you

“Smile” by Nat King Cole

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile