Photo Update

We took baby bump photos this morning in our backyard because it was WAY too hot to go anywhere far from air conditioning;-)  IMG_0023IMG_9877

All my babies.
IMG_9879IMG_9898 IMG_9914 IMG_9929 IMG_9936I’m around 38 weeks, so could be any day now that we get to meet the Littlest Anthony.  We have three names in the running, we’re going to see when she’s born which name is a fit.  Eli wanted to name her Doughnut, Dani voted for Princess and they all agreed on Cute Baby, so we’ve got some extra options in addition to the ones Davin and I chose.

Tonight Davin and I went on a date – we tried walking the mall and I had like only two contractions.  Boo-skies.  However, we ended our date at a place that makes ice cream filled doughnuts.  Yes, together.  Amazing.  Here’s some awesome iphone photos of our excursion.  And other random life.

Convincing Davin he should get these awesome Ray Bans.  He makes good arm candy, I think I’ll keep him;-)

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So yummy right now.
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A good sport joining me on my pregnant food journey.
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Crazy good.  Probably 1 million calories.  Whatevs.IMG_8631Also, the other day, Davin carved out a watermelon and made a hat with the leftovers.  The kids loved it.  (please notice there IS a Krispy Kream box on my counter.  I only ate ONE, for reals.  #pregnancyisreal
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Annnd, one of our earliest garden tomatoes, a Super Fantastic is actually a Pinocchio Tomato.  IMG_8632

It’s going to taste delicious.  Possible video or tutorial on how to have the summer’s most delicious sandwich ever…

And the girls were playing in my bathtub while I finished my hair, there is nothing so sweet as little sisters together.
IMG_8601More updates to come with the Littlest Anthony!

Also, this post was brought to you by… Tacos.

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Tacos of all kinds.  It’s what is currently fueling me, for the most part.  Tacos and doughnuts… and ice cream.

Thanks for reading!

Red Solo Cup

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Today I write out of obedience.

I’ve felt the Lord call me to sit down and write over the past few days.  I think not because I really have anything to offer, but perhaps because he wants to speak to me.  And sadly, sometimes the only way to get me to listen is to give me inspiration to write.  You all probably thought I was writing this blog to inspire you and partner with you in our walks of life, and I do LOVE sharing life with you, but honestly, I’m learning so much in the process.

Three days ago, a super quiet nudge.  “Write.”

“I can’t.  The babies room isn’t done yet, and I have to sort through all those bins of baby clothes.”

Two days ago, “Sit down and write.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, do you see the amount of work to be done here?  I’ll write after everything is done, that’s my FUN hobby.  No time for fun.  Besides, that’s probably not even you saying, “Write”, it’s probably my inner self or something I ate because writing right now seems absurd.”

Yesterday, a pretty clear, “Write.”

“I need to just finish all these chores, have you SEEN our kitchen floor?!?  It has transformed into the bottom of  a hamster cage.”

This morning, while attempting to put fresh sheets on the kid’s beds, and finish their laundry with a to-do list still fairly long (the baby’s coming after all!) I hear the Lord say to me a quiet yet interrupting, “Write.”

“I’m literally in the middle of putting sheets on my son’s bed.  Just let me finish all the kid’s beds, then make a grocery list, go grocery shopping, get the kids from school, take them to the doctors for their booster shot, feed the kids lunch, clean up, unload groceries, clean the fridge, wipe down the cupboards, fold all the kid’s laundry and then if there’s time put on some makeup to get ready for a birthday date tonight, I’ll do that, AND THEN, if there’s any time left, and no one needs anything from me, then I will write.  So Lord, maybe in a different season of life, like when all my kids are all in college.”

A quiet response, “Write.”

“Have you seen our fruit bowl?  It has two lemons in it… that’s all.  We’re bare-bones’n it over here.”

“Write, I have something to say to you.”

“Don’t make me cry God, you know how it cuts right to my heart that you’d actually speak to me, and have anything to say, especially when I feel ZERO percent inspired to type a thing.”

“I will speak to you, write.”

“Okay, I’ll go against the very grain of my being and leave these un-done sheets right here on the bed, as an offering of obedience.”  That part was physically painful, I didn’t know whether to cover them up with the comforter or just leave it all.  I just left it, it looked miserable.  I had to walk out of the room with my eyes closed.  I gave my littlest a snack and put on an educational show.  “I’ll give you thirty minutes, even though I really should be making  a grocery list.  I’m going to have to trust you on this one, and let go of my perfectionist desires to power through my to-do list… I will stop for you.”

If you’d had the ability to be around me any amount of time in the past few weeks, you’d see that the countdown to baby arrival has put me into task mode 2013.  That’s when I started writing this blog, and the Lord showed me the hot dog stand word picture, gently reminding me that this life isn’t about perfection, best efforts and a to-do list, it’s about the gentle rhythms of the Holy Spirit and not stressing about little stuff that doesn’t matter.  It’s about truly living each day with him by my side, not pushed to the side.

I’ve made progress, I really have (insert convincing voice to myself).  But I clearly haven’t learned to fully resist the temptation of a thick to-do list and shiny stars of accomplishment over obedience to the quiet voice of the Lord.

Dang.

And it’s not even good for me.  God’s ways are SO good for me, and when I hear his voice to slow down and chill, and I ignore it (because it’s gentle and quiet), I get more and more wound up, and then eventually I snap.  And the snap is never ever pretty.  It usually involves me wearing a grouchy face, my oldest daughter saying to me, “Mommy, I don’t like the sound of your voice.” and my husband giving me that look, like I need to be sent out of the house for a few hours… to release the Kraken somewhere else.  At worst, it involves tears and yelling about why life has to be so stinkin’ hard.

Maybe the Lord is trying to teach me that It doesn’t have to be THAT hard.

Circumstances don’t actually make us happy or unhappy.  The bible clearly says that joy can be found in any and all circumstances, the easy and fun, the miserable and challenging.  We are offered joy, but it’s a choice.  And not the simple kind like, “yea, I think I’ll have an iced tea.”  It’s a painful choice of self-surrender.  It is no simple and done, easy choice.  We have to choose joy.

And when I actually make that tough choice to walk with the Lord and listen to his voice, even when things are a challenge, I don’t stress.  It’s amazing, like non-human awesome.

But the trick is, I have to listen.  I have to actually lean into the Lord.  I have to be IN the Word, GO to him in prayer, seek him and ask him to be near.  It doesn’t just magically happen because I’m a Christian, and a mostly nice person and think Jesus died on the cross for my sins. It’s all choosing.

I have to intentionally seek him.

Still.

Even though I’ve sought him before, read the bible before and prayed before, and had amazing moments of deep inspiration and worship with Jesus before.

Each day is a new day that I desperately need to deliberately seek him.

It doesn’t just happen.

I once asked God about this, saying, “If I know you and I believe in you, how come I can only last a few days on my own?  It’s pathetic.”  He showed me this word picture of a red solo cup, with a few holes poked on the bottom.  Here’s the message I took from it.  It was like the Lord was saying, this is you, your cup is full because you’ve met with me, but after a few days it’s drained and empty again.  You need a refill.  You can’t last long without checking in with me, because you have holes in your cup.  You aren’t designed to just hold stagnant water.  You are designed to use what I pour into you, for yourself and for others.  I pour it in, you pour it out, repeat. You are not self sufficient.

I have to go to him when I’m empty, and probably shouldn’t be all too surprised by that since that is how he designed me; to be in a relationship with God.

He doesn’t force me to action either like my toddler does at seven 6:23 am in the morning, yelling from the bathroom, “MOMMY!!!  I’M AWAKE!!!!!!  I WENT POOP IN THE TOILET!!!!” (any dear parent of a newly potty-trained kid knows one now has to RUN to the toilet in hopes that the arrival was swift enough to save the floor/bathroom/house/world from any… thing messy (ahem).

No, no dramatic urgency, forcing me to run.  He’s just there, waiting for me, when I’m ready to talk to him.  Waiting for me to ask for some more of Him.

And sometimes it’s so easy to think I can do it on my own, and just ignore the re-fill aspect of our relationship.  I think I’m the water source, and am always quickly shocked at how dry my own well is.  I just want to do it on my own, but at the same time I want God helping me, so why the double-mindedness?

Makes me question who the fake mob-bosses are in my life, and why I let them run and schedule my day instead of doing what I know I should.  I think I’ve named them “pretend-righteous obligations, and they are big and have fake guns.”

And where are they rooted?  In fear?  In desire for approval from others?  In the fear of failure, disappointing others, being useless, not being worthy of love.

There we are.  Not worthy of love.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt unworthy of Christ’s love, showers of blessing and just being in his general presence, but I have.

I think the Lord is trying to present a truth to me that my heart currently has no space for, because I have filled its spot with a fake mob-boss lie.

The truth is, “I am valuable, because Christ loves me.”  That’s it.  That’s where all of my identity should come from.

The lie I believe is, “I am valuable because I accomplish things for Christ and others.  I am a valuable member of this world because I contribute and work hard, and get things done.  I EARN this love.”

How, oh how do I root out this lie?  It’s thick on me like a tough jerky or the bark on a tree.  It covers me and shapes me, but what if that’s not the way God wants my tree to look?  When he peels of the bark of lies, I’m just there, exposed for what I am… it’s like uncomfortable.

But what if it could be beautiful?

The uncomfortable truth is that I have value, simply because Christ loves me.  That’s what the bible says.

That is beautiful indeed.

My value rests solely on the truth that HE LOVES ME, and that’s it.  He puts his arm around me in a big crowd and says, “THIS, this is MY girl.”  And even if others look on and say to themselves, “why would he choose HER?  Look at that scraggly hair, bad manners and she’s not even wearing shoes!”  Jesus is none-the-less proud of me, because HE sees me as made new, even when the enemy or the world doesn’t.  And as we walk together I begin to see that I look more and more like Christ, (Galatians 3, highlight on vs. 27) perhaps he gives me shoes, and I actually choose to wear them.  Maybe comb my hair.  You get the idea.

The truth is, we all come to Jesus looking a little (or a lot) scraggled (Romans 3:9-31).  The bible tells us that.  But once we come to him, we are made new, and beautiful, and the temptation is real to feel out of place, to go back to seeing ourselves like the scraggled kid and try to work so hard for the love we’ve already been given.

Instead, we need to look into the mirror or faith to remember our value.

Thankfully, he is gracious and doesn’t hold it against me that I try to find value all by myself. He just waits for me to remember to go to him.  And even though I come to him dry as a bone, he manages to fill my cup right back up to the top, and within moments I’m left full of life, hope and love for others again.  It’s like taking a nap and waking up refreshed, only better.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mother’s Day

IMG_8127This afternoon, I was folding my son’s laundry.  He and his sister Dani just turned five this past week.  We typically use birthdays as an opportunity to give them the next season of clothes as gifts, since it lines up well.  After I had finished washing his old clothes from this week, mixed in with his new ones I started to get sentimental.  The old Thomas the Train shirt is getting a little small as well as faded blue Lightining McQueen.

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Is it strange that I’m trying to savor and hold on to the days where my son would rather wear a cartoon character on his shirt than something a little more grown up?  When his bright red hand-me-down Mickey Mouse sweatshirt is the number one pick in his closet?  I know the days are coming, when he wouldn’t want to be seen in a Lightening McQueen, and that’s fine, I’m sure I’ll love and adore him just as much then as I do now.  However, I’m sensing that this phase is passing and short, and just so sweet.  I’m not quite ready to give it up yet – and thankfully I don’t have to.

The fact that he picked out all superhero t-shirts, especially the over-the-top Superman one with a cape, tells me he is still my little boy.

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The new lineup, a little bit more grown up, but not too much.

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The cape… I’m thinking this should NOT be worn to school, I’m concerned it may introduce a little TOO much superhero spirit into class.

I see him growing and changing into a mature young man by the questions he asks, but his zest for life and fun is still ever present and dominant.

I can still hear his giggle and laughter in my mind as he was chasing his daddy and sister through the halls before nap time.  After lunch, my husband picked up our youngest, Ellie who’s three and ran around the house, hiding from the older two.  Ellie cries if Davin doesn’t carry her, because she’s not fast enough to ever catch him.  So, he carries her even though she slows him down and gives away all his hiding places by yelling, “I”M RIGHT HERE!!!!”  The older two laugh and run and giggle as they attempt to chase down Daddy and Ellie.

Maybe it’s because we think we are having our last child in a few weeks, and we know it’s a girl which means none of Eli’s old clothes will be worn again in our house.

Maybe it’s because I know that I’ll never get these moments back, because even IF we had another little boy, he wouldn’t be my Eli.  He would be his own little person.

God has created something special between a boy and his Mama.  Eli holds a unique piece of my heart that no one else has, and it’s been that way since he was a tiny squishy baby.

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Seriously? Does it get any more adorable than this?

We get each other.  He reads me well and and I can understand him.  It’s just so easy most of the time for the two of us to get along.

I can wrestle him and tickle him, push him over and fake punch him in ways I’d never do to the girls.  He’s rough and rowdy, but also so very deep and insightful.  Over the past few days he’s asked me different questions that have me thinking he’s going a lot deeper in his mind than super hero t-shirts and games of chase.

“God made the world, and everything in it, and us, but who made God?”

As I pondered how to answer this question in a way that a five year old would understand, I had a hard time concentrating because I was so amazed that he even thought to ask that question.  To be fair, Dani asks equally as astounding questions, but since I’m getting sappy over Eli, we’ll keep the topic on him this time.

I had to go with scripture, hoping God would fill in any gaps.  “Well buddy, the bible just says that God always was, always is and always will be.  Kinda crazy right?  It’s hard for us to understand, because everything in our world right now has a beginning and an end.  But not God.”

He nodded and thought it through.  It seemed to satisfy his theology for the moment.  He’s just now five and he seems to be reaching beyond his years in reasoning and questions.

He’s always listening to the conversations between Davin and I.  We’ve had to start spelling things, if we don’t want him to know or ask any leading questions.

Often, Eli will come up and start helping me with whatever task I am working at if he wants to hang out.  Or if he picks up on the fact that I’m getting drained, he comes in and says, “What can I do to help you Mama?”   His peppy little spirit usually helps me pick it back up and finish the job with a smile.

I’m not saying I’m the only mother in the world with amazing kids, I’m just saying that I’m amazed God would love me so much, to give me such a sweet, intelligent, and capable little son like Eli.  I have my girls and could and I’m sure will write entire blogs about them as well, but for some reason, this Mother’s Day, my little boy has come to the forefront of my mind, and I’m just so grateful for him and that he’s still mostly in the superhero t-shirt stage of life.

Maybe it’s because he’s so much like his daddy, and I love his daddy.

Maybe it’s because he’s hilarious and loves to enjoy life and he’s organized and methodical in his leadership skills;-)

Maybe it’s because I see him take care of his sisters even when they play, making sure everyone has a fort built for them, everyone has the pillow for sliding down the grass, and everyone is included and has what they need.  I watch this leadership in a five year old boy and wonder where the Lord will place him one day.

I pray for his wife.  That she adores him and loves him and is beautiful inside and out.  That she loves Jesus deeply and prays for her husband daily.  That when they get married and she gets to be the one to kiss him goodnight, that he feels loved, cared for beyond grateful have his best friend by his side.  I know those beautiful days will come, and I hope for now, as I get to be his Mama growing up, that I  can set an example of the kind of woman he will search for and find one day.  The way I treat him now will be the way he’s accustomed to being treated by a woman as an adult, and I want him to strike GOLD in his wife, because he is gold, (gold that is being refined in the Father’s fire, but gold nonetheless.)

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My little dude.

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Giving his sweet little friend the drivers seat… even if she’s too tiny to take them anywhere;-)

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Hanging with the girls.

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Entertaining his little cousin.

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Teaching Ellie how to “fix a bike” and letting her help.

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Loves his papa AND motorcycles.

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Not only did he offer to do all the breakfast dishes, but he then trained Ellie in proper loading technique.

It’s normal for a Mama to think she has one of the best son’s in the world right?

As always, thanks for reading.

When things don’t seem to go as they should

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A little song for you as you read:

As we are approaching Good Friday (the day Jesus was crucified on the cross) and Easter (his resurrection), I am astounded by what the actual story looks like to me at this point in my life.

It’s funny how we filter stories in the bible with our own life experiences. We see them in different and new lenses as our lives shift and change.  I don’t think is actually a bad thing, as long as we keep the truth in front of us.

When Jesus was taken to the cross, his 12 disciples scattered.  One had already betrayed him in the garden of Gethsemane, and the rest ran in fear for their lives.  Jesus was mistreated, given a sham trial with fake witnesses in the night and the Roman officials couldn’t even find any real charges against him.  Pontious Pilate even tried to release him back to the Jews and they would not have it.  Jesus was betrayed and crucified by his own people.  The very men and teachers who walked around saying they loved God and were the most holy were the ones to nail him to the cross.  Well that’s lame.  Religious people for the win.  Nope.

Jesus was beaten and mocked with a crown of thorns.  He was forced after all that, to carry his cross to the hill called, Golgotha to die.  Placed between two criminals, he was then pierced for our transgressions.  With his mother present, and a handful of those he loved, he let out his last breath.  As a mom, I can’t even begin to think what Mary must have felt, but that’s a post for another time.  Here’s a link to the whole story, the bible version of course.

In all this chaos, injustice and pain, it seems as though the devil has won, and good has lost the battle. It must have appeared that way to anyone who loved and cared for Jesus, his ministry or even just had a hope that God was really walking among them.

Their Christ was dead.

Their hope was gone.

And they were alone.

Alone to cry in their grief, with no Jesus to comfort them, to guide them, to speak truth to them the way he had over the last three years.  As they wrapped his pierced body I’m sure they covered it with tears, feeling like all they had believed in, must have been a lie.  How could it have turned out like this?  In death?  Such disillusionment they must have felt.  How was any of this God’s will?  What kind of God would send his son, just to die?  How is this a Kings burial?

How they must have questioned, yelled, cried and cursed.  It all looked lost and hopeless.

And then, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead.

There was a bigger plan all along.

He showed up to his disciples, he showed up to the women who had loved and followed him. Many saw him after his resurrection.  He then sent his Holy Spirit to guide and direct those who believed in him.  They became alive as well.

All of this.  What a tragic, gut wrenching, soul ripping story.

And I think, when has a similar thread played out in my own life?  When have I had hopes that didn’t turn out the way I’d believed they would?  When did I doubt God’s goodness and his love because things weren’t going my way?  When did I doubt that God was really at the wheel of this ship steering it in a good direction?

There are things in my own life right now that don’t make sense.  Nothing close to the story of Christ’s death and how hopeless it must have looked, but in seeing this thread, I am reminded that even when things look like chaos, look like the enemy has won, look like God has turned his back and walked away, He hasn’t.

He just has a better story.

I believe there’s a resurrection of life somewhere in my story and I just haven’t reached that chapter yet.

The truth about the enemy is that he comes to steal, kill and destroy.

The truth about God is that he breaths life and hope into everything he touches.

Every time Jesus is put into a situation, wether it be a dying marriage, a damaged friendship, a rebellious child – he brings hope and life.  Just try it.  I promise it freaken’ works.  You just say, “Jesus, I’m not even sure I know you’re good, I’m not even positive your real or loving or anything that you say you are, but if you are indeed real, would you come into this situation and bring life that I might see that you are real?”  It may be slow and grow like a tree from winter to spring, but it always begins with a promise of hope, and always ends in life.  If you invite him into any part of your life, you will most certainly see it change for the better.

He is King of resurrecting the very things that sin has killed.

It’s like his deal.

And so I look at some of the situations in my own life, where I had a set of expectations, a list of words strung together as prayers that I believe God heard, and yet even though something different has occurred, I can’t help but think the battle is not over.  That there’s something else, something better than what I could see coming around the corner.

I’m sure the disciples plan for Jesus was not the cross.  I don’t doubt it.  Anyone who’d spent five seconds with Christ and knew him would never dare to imagine he would or could be crucified. And yet, that was God’s redemptive plan.

His plan to save us.

What is it in your life that God wants to resurrect?

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As always, thanks for reading.

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!