an actual example of grace, like… in real life

Here’s an interesting story. The other day, I sat outside in our beautiful backyard, enjoying the sunshine as my older daughter swam in the pool, and my youngest daughter jumped in the trampoline.

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Notice the trampoline in the background.  Mind blowing photography.

My son and husband had just left to get semi-matching father/son haircuts (which I think is adorable).

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When styled, it looks like his dad’s. But that only happens on church days 😉
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Thanks for posing for me babe!

Back to the yard.  As I’m flipping through a magazine, I glance over at my youngest who was moments ago was happily bouncing on the trampoline in just a diaper.

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Pre-jump attire, boots and all!

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And here is where the story goes from happy everyday to miraculous.  But it’s a rough go, so give it a chance.

As I look now, to my horror, I watch my 18 month old bounce high in the trampoline, somehow, right through the open zipper part of the netting, and land DIRECTLY on her head (no hands, no feet to “help” in this fall) and then make a second BOUNCE right into the pool, face down, straight into the shallow (18 inch shelf) part of the water.

She missed the stair.

My heart leaps out of my throat.

She is face down, arms out, legs out in the shallow water.

At this point I am already running across the shelf to get to her. She’s been facedown in the water for maybe three to four seconds.  I knew as I was about to grab her that it wasn’t too long to be facedown in the water.  I knew when she gasped for air as I picked up her body that she wasn’t drowning.

As her wet, shaky body soaked my shirt, I just held her while she cried.  I held her against my body and began to pray.  I prayed fervently, in the Spirit, I prayed and prayed.  I didn’t have real words.  I just said things out loud in a hurried whisper to the Lord, asking Him to intervene.

She stopped crying after maybe 12 seconds.  She’s cried longer over us not letting her put on her shoes.

My older daughter decides she ready to get out of the pool.  I pull back my youngest to examine her head.  I notice a purple bump starting to form.  I am familiar with this type of bump that shoots out immediately, my son had one awhile back and it was shocking how fast that part of his head could make a mini black and blue golf ball appear out of his skull.

I realize I need to get something cold on her head immediately.  I get my older daughter into a towel and head inside, hoping I have some frozen vegetables in the freezer.

That was a huge fall. Not only did she fall OUT of the trampoline (at least a good two feet), she then took a second and bounced off the concrete INTO the pool hard enough to miss the stair.

HOW does that happen?  WHY does this happen?

I get a bag of peas.  I try to lay her down and put the peas on her head.  She starts to scream, she is not having any of it. I get a second frozen bag of vegetables, and let her play with the cold corn while she sits in my lap.  She lets me put the peas on her head for maybe five or ten seconds before swatting the away.  I continue to pray.

I send my oldest upstairs to go play trains by herself.  She protests a bit.  It is only at this point she realizes I’m serious, and her eyes get big for a second.  It registers.  Mom is not joking.

I give the baby a few more minuets of frozen peas intervals until she decides she’s done with that.  I take her upstairs to get dressed, at least she needs some clothes.  As I lay her down to examine her head again, the bump looks smaller, and less purple, and more pink.  I question if I’m imagining things.  I decide I’m not and continue praying.

I check her pupil dilation, I look for any sign of distress, anything that is not normal.  She decides she wants to play with her older sister.  I let her, and continue to keep a hand on her (as much as she will let me) and pray.  I pray and pray.

I ask God to please make up for my huge failings as a mother, to intervene on my behalf, for my baby.  I remind the Lord that He loves her.  That He loves her more than I do.  I begin to calm down internally, a bit.  I remember that He loves her more then I do.

The scriptures in Matthew about sparrows and the number of hairs on our head rush through my mind.  I mix them into one in confusion:

Matthew 10:29-31″What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

So, God knows when the sparrow falls, He knows when my youngest falls.  He knows the hairs on my daughters head… she is valuable.

6:26-27 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

She is valuable to God.  He will intercede for her if it is in accordance with His will.  I beg Him that it is His will.

We go downstairs.

She eats a huge dinner.

She belches loudly with satisfaction after throwing some food on the ground.

This is my typical youngest. I sigh a momentarily sigh of relief.

I keep checking her head.  The bump resembles a bump you’d have after a fall a few days prior.  It looks light, and although there is still a bit of blue hue to the center, there is a tinge of green and then pink around that.  It is almost completely flat.  I am in wonder and still a bit of confusion.

My husband comes home.  He looks at me like I’ve seen a ghost.  I am emotionally unavailable. I’m still in shock that the entire thing happened.  He looks at Ellie and can’t even find the bump the first time he checks.  I make him look again and point it out.  He’s too relaxed about the whole incident.  I recount all the details, with “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED?”

He can.  He said kids fall all the time.  He said I prayed and God listened, and healed her. Simple enough.

I am still in shock.  I want to hold my baby, but she will have none of it.  She wants to run around and play.  After awhile, we put her to bed.  I check on her hourly.

In all fairness, I feel like we deserve to be in an emergency room.  I feel like I live in some other reality where things are not as they should be. I am confused and am trying to find myself in a place of extreme grace.  A place of close calls.  A place with sighs of relief.

I’m trying to get a grip on what actually happened.

What actually happened is that my youngest hit her head very hard, she then went under water.  What happened is I was right there to grab her out of the water.  What happened is that her head did not swell up, like it probably should have.  What happened is that was almost a week ago, and she is still her complete self, her small bruise is gone.

The laws of physics say my daughter should have had a serious head injury.  Possibly something worse.  The laws of physics say a lot of things that don’t match up with the bible. Sometimes God operates outside of the laws of physics.  Outside the laws of man. Sometimes He does things through us that we cannot do on our own.

All of this occurred a few days before the end of our 40 day fast.  A few days before the worship, prayer and healing night at our church.  Both my husband and I had volunteered to go and pray for others that night, to pray for healing; the spiritual, emotional and even physical kind. I was a firm believer of the first two, but a little bit skeptical of the last.  I knew God could heal people with Jesus in the old times bible days, but today?  In America?  Maaaaaybe.

I witnessed a miracle right before my very own eyes. When I prayed, I did believe He could heal her.  I had been talking to God so much during the fast, that I knew He could hear me, I didn’t doubt that.  I also knew that He could heal her if it was in His will, so I prayed very much that it would be.

I say all of this to remind myself, that sometimes God does miracles.  He does them in the suburbs of America, with a stay at home mom and baby, and a crappy (my fault) set up of trampoline next to pool catastrophe.

He gives us miracles we don’t deserve because He loves us, and doing so will bring us closer to knowing more of Him.  Doing so will tell another beautiful part of the Greater Story going on.

Sometimes He allows us to go through difficult times, and says no, or not yet to a miracle, because He loves us and doing so will benefit us in the long run and will be another beautiful detail in Greater Story going on.

All of this reminds me that although I am but a very, very, very small piece of sand in this huge coastline of life, my requests are still important.

I am still important.

I am still important to the One who is the MOST Important.

And you are too.

He loves you.

Thanks for reading.

an old Italian resturant and a Krispy Kream doughnut

I’m currently reading, Anthony Doeer’s, Four Seasons in Rome.  It’s put me back on vacation in Rome, only this time with twins.  But it’s astonishingly relaxing, because my twins aren’t babies anymore, and I’m past that stage of joy and struggle.  Hence, I’m enjoying this  book, plus  the guy appreciates nature and life’s beauty.  If you’ve been to Rome, wanted to visit Rome or had children, you’d probably enjoy it.

Anyway, I also was not surprised when my husband and I were praying for our children and the Lord gave me a word regarding our youngest, who is around 18 months old and it had something to do with Italy, which is where I still was a bit in my mind 😉

Let me preface my heart of prayer with this:

When the twins were the age of my youngest, people would say things to me like, “better put on your running shoes!” or “Oh, you’re going to be a busy mama” (as though I hadn’t already been busy shlepping babies around and being pregs with our youngest;-)  They were well intended, but it was like getting stabbed with a sharp thistle in the bottom of my shoe, an uncomfortable reminder of truth.

This is the age that for six consecutive weeks, I told my husband every night before bed that I might retire my mama running shoes and call the whole thing off in the morning (as if I could – the idea was at least helpful, pretending to have control over a situation I had no control over).  I was EXHAUSTED.  We did the whole, train your child young thing – so no locks on any of the non-poison cupboards, we’d say, “uh oh” and then redirect.  One thousand times a day, times two.

So as our youngest is approaching this special age.  I am hesitant.  I am fearful.  I am a little panicked, because I remember.  I remember what it was like with two.  And even one hardly sounds easy at this point.  Besides, she has two siblings to chase.

So as we approach the Lord in prayer for our youngest the Lord starts to form a word picture in my anxious mind while my husband prays:

There is a little Italian restaurant, squished between buildings in a busy city, cars sloshing by in the rain.  The door of the restaurant opens and I’m greeted with the smell of dough, mixed with a slight must.  In this word picture, I was expecting a fine dining experience, so I’m a little off put by the decor and less then fancy atmosphere.  I think, “Why did my husband bring me here?”  It’s dated, it’s classic American Italian, red checked tablecloths, old oil candle lamps, fake foliage, Christmas lights, a small plastered bust of a Roman.  The married couple behind the open kitchen window have owned the place for years, and it shows.  The tables are a little crooked and they’ve used to-go pizza folds of cardboard to prop them up from wobbling.  We sit down at a booth, vinyl cracked and splitting in formidable sections.  It’s cozy.  It is not a Michelin Star restaurant, and it doesn’t pretend to be either.  I am overdressed.  These were not my expectations.  We sit down and flip though the sticky menu.  I can’t take my eyes off the peeling paint, off the crumbs on the ground.  As I pull back a strand of hair from my face, my bracelets tinkle together and I wonder, “How did this place get such raving reviews?  How?”

The word picture jumps to the end of our meal.  When I discover why I am here.

It’s the food.  The food is amazing.  Everything about every bite I eat is AH-Maze-ING.  Every single bite.  The bread.  The antipasti (appetizers), the insalate (salads), the farinacei (pasta), even the formaggi.  It’s all delicious.

And, once I took my eyes off the peeling paint and crumbs on the floor, once I got over myself and my Michelin Star appearance expectations, I actually began to enjoy myself.  A lot.  I laughed, I felt emotionally connected to my family, it suddenly became one of those nights that you look back on and wonder what exactly made it so perfect, but you can’t put your finger on it (aside from the food perhaps, I’m sure that added to the wonderfulness), because nothing about it was perfect in the neat and tidy sense of it.  It was messy, it was human, there were even mistakes.  And yet, it was marvelous and made an evening full of wonderful memories.

So there’s THAT beautiful word picture – and here’s what it means for me, and perhaps you, if you and I have something in common with me like being a parent, or liking fancy restaurants in your life, so to speak;-)

Parenting my youngest is like going to this restaurant.  There literally ARE crumbs on my kitchen floor, and I stare at them, and occasionally scowl at them, and sometimes sweep them.  However, this girl is one of the greatest delights of my life.  She IS the delicious food in this word picture, she is the doughy bread I bite into and savor.  I think of her chubby little legs when I think of the delicious perfect dough.  This restaurant isn’t perfect, it is messy and it’s not a pretentious fancy-pantsy place that makes me feel fancy-pantsy.  Nothing about parenting ever makes me feel fancy-pantsy.  There are cracks in the vinyl, she cries when she’s tired (like every child).  She yells a lot because we don’t always understand her heartfelt attempts at English – so she yells, and when we don’t get it, she looks at us and yells louder (and it’s kinda cute).  She wants to snuggle when I’m trying to wipe down the counters.  When I finally stop focusing on the my own negatives, when I get over my expectations of perfection and clean and just let it be what it is, I enjoy myself and most importantly I enjoy HER, so VERY, VERY much.  And in those moments, I think to myself, “Ohhhh, this is the blessing that God intended when he invented parenting!  I wish I could feel like this all the time!”

And I think, as parents for the most part, we are meant to.

Apparently the Lord is very patient.  He has given me this reminder before, but in a different way.  It was when my youngest was learning to crawl – everywhere.  I had three days of stress mom times, trying to baby-proof the house and still make it accessible to twin toddlers learning to use the potty.  I came to the Lord in a tangled yarn ball of stress and he gave me the quickest, shortest, most genius word picture ever.

It was when I was vegan, like super vegan, as in 100% nothing in my mouth that is not vegan.

The Lord showed me a glazed Krispy Kream doughnut.  Those are not vegan, not in the least.  It looked delicious.

I asked the Lord why He was showing me a delicious doughnut that I could not have but wanted so very badly. (It’s slowly becoming clear how much I love food)

He said, “Your youngest is a glazed, Krispy Kream doughnut.  Enjoy her like you would a glazed Krispy Kream doughnut.  Savor every bite.”

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Snap.

At that time, only God knew in my heart how much I still loved those non-vegan doughnuts.  He and I have jokes sometimes, where He makes fun of me trying to be in control of anything, by giving me an extreme abundance of grace and love when I least deserve it, and showing me doughnuts.

I’ve shared that word before with other’s in hopes that it can be a good reminder in our heads that our kids are meant to be enjoyed and savored, delighted in and treated as a special treat.  Because they are a special treat.

Here’s to savoring every bite!

Thanks for reading.

fast food. (this one is ACTUALLY about food!)

Sometimes, I think I’m like Oprah, and that everyone wants to know my favorite things.

I personally, think my favorite things are awesome – hence their title.

So today, dear reader, I give you – a (*mostly) vegan fast food recipe, that you put together yourself in about ten minutes.

It’s not made from scratch, in fact it’s not even 100% plant strong super duper healthy times.  But I’d say it’s pretty  healthy (by which I mean it’s better for you then a fast food burger or something) and it tastes AMAZING.  We (meaning my husband and I) eat this a few times a week for lunch.  Now that you’ve all recognized that I’m obviously a nutritionalist… on to the recipe!

Fancy iphone photos included!

Garlic Naan Wraps with Cold Green Grapes

(serves 2)  (baby/toddler version on bottom)

try not to be jealous of my awesome photography skills in capturing the deliciousness of this entire meal.
Try not to be jealous of my awesome photography skills in capturing the deliciousness of this entire meal.

(you don’t have to be super familiar with Naan to try this one – I promise, it sounds super foreign, but it’s not that crazy)

What you’ll need: (veggies can be added to or interchanged at your will)

  • 2 Garlic Naan (they sell this frozen at TJ’s, or fresh at Whole Foods) among MANY places (we freeze the wf kind) *THE NOT COMPLETELY VEGAN PART)
  • 4 generous tablespoons of Hummus (I use basil pesto hummus, my husband likes garlic hummus)
  • 1/2 a diced avocado
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 or 2 diced green onion (remove root looking part – I know, I’m a chef with that specific direction)
  • 1/4 cucumber or zucchini (about 3 inches)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (yellow, orange or red for the sweetness)
  • baby kale mix (or other green leafy vegetable)
  • 1 smallish tomato
  • 1 Morning Star, Grillers Vegan
  • Few shakes of salt (optional)
  • bunch of COLD green grapes from the fridge (if you put these in the fridge when you get home from buying them at the store, they might be cold when you make this the next day or whatever).
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Award winning photography.

Instructions: if you want the quick version because you’re very hungry, just read the bold, if you want to hear commentary and tips, read all of it.

Toast two garlic naan in toaster oven, flat side towards toaster heating apparatus, or on the driveway if you live in Dasht-e Lut, Iran (the hottest place on earth).  Chop your veggies.  Just don’t forget about your naan – set the timer or something.

Dice your avocado by slicing it in half, ninja chop the seed (carefully!) and then turn it clockwise out with your knife, it will come right out.  Do not do this if it doesn’t feel safe, do not.  Leave the fruit inside and slice it horizontally, then vertically, use spoon to scrape it out.  Save the other half by putting the seed back in it’s placing and plastic bag it (try to get all the air out), refrigerate.

Slice your green onion.  Make baby triangles out of your cucumber or zucchini.  Slice the whole bell pepper and slice the other half of bell pepper into long pieces for a snack to dip into hummus later.  For some reason if my veggies are already cut in the fridge, I’m more likely to eat them for a snack.

I even chop the greens, because I don’t think I look particularly cute pulling a giant piece of lettuce into my mouth with my tongue like a giraffe, just sayin’.

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She’s cute though, she can get away with it.  She hail’s from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

Dice your tomato.

Cook your single Morning Star, Grillers Vegan as directed on the box. (assuming you did not buy it on the vegan black market and not get the box), once cooked, dice it up.

Bust out that hummus and plaster the those naan on the non-toasted side.  Add 1/2 your ingredients down the center of one naan, then repeat with the second.  Leave the avocado and tomato for the top so you can salt it a bit (optional)

Chomp chomp!  Done.

Baby/Toddler version:

Some kiddos are more likely to eat something if they’ve picked it out.  I pull out the reusable cupcake liners (amazon has fancy colors) and let the kids fill three or four with their choice of veggies.  I typically put out: cherry tomatoes, sliced raw zucchini, sliced raw cucumber, sliced carrots, diced avocado and green onion and bell pepper.  Then I put a spoonful of their hummus of choice in a cupcake liner and let them dip their veggies.  Once they’ve eaten a decent amount of veggies, (or in one of my children’s cases, eaten the hummus by dipping all four fingers and scooping it into his or her mouth like a giant human hand spoon), I give them 1/2 a slice of toasted garlic naan and some grapes.

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This child was the ONLY one who enjoyed the roasted beets and carrots I made a few weeks ago. It was NOT-delicious.  It was NOT.

For the baby, I chop the veggies up SUPER small, and drop them onto a plastic plate already smeared in hummus on the bottom, (kinda like it’s a pizza), as she picks them up, she gets both veggie and hummus.  I then hold my breath and hope she eats some more of them.  I also put strips of garlic naan out for her.  My kids even as babies liked lots of different flavors, so I never did the “no seasonings” thing.  Slice grapes into millions of pieces, and only feed them to baby’s who have all of their teeth, and then some more, and can pronounce the word, “especially” with ease and perfection.  Totally kidding, but grapes can be SUPER dangerous choking hazards if your kiddo is little, so seriously, dice and dice – it takes tons of hours and it 100% worth it to keep your baby safe 😉

This advice is useless however if you have kids who drop food on the floor, and then the baby goes for second breakfast hobbit style and finds them wholly in tact.  That’s why I always keep these links handy, and have printed versions for my baby-sitter binder in case I freeze up in a panic and forget what to do.

The Mayo Clinic on Choking

Heimlich on Child

Heimlich on an Infant

Thanks for reading!

Letting Go of Control

My kids started preschool today.

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She’s a natural with the camera, what can I say?

That doesn’t sound like a big deal being a teacher, until it’s your own kids.

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He looks really sure of this whole ordeal… Crayon to the face.

I feel like my heart could burst in thankfulness to the Lord for everything He is doing and has done in my life since the beginning of this summer.  When God promised me (while in prayer) that I’d really enjoy this fall, I believed Him.  It’s already happening.  The youngest is napping and my house is quiet.  Like completely.  This is a rare moment.  No one is sneaking out of beds to go potty for the fourth time during afternoon naps… I’m not holding my breath waiting to tell someone to go back to bed.  I feel so peaceful.

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Eli bonked his head on the wall and is wincing from his camera crazy antics. Dani is attempting to follow directions. This is typical. Look out Pinterest, this perfect “first day of preschool” photo is about to go viral.

Of course I was sad a little that my twin babies aren’t babies anymore.  That I didn’t get their blankees and put them down for a morning nap in a crib with their favorite paci like I used to, two years ago.  But I have the youngest for that.  I held her extra close and cuddled her extra long and thanked the Lord that I still had a baby to fawn over, to protect, to hold close and cuddle and get to provide almost everything she needs on this earth for now.

With the baby.
My third little blessing.

The Lord totally knew my heart would have probably broken this morning without her.  God is so good at giving us what we need when we don’t know we need it.  Sometimes it’s a rough spot in our marriage that looks hopeless and then turns into a beauty and depth we never knew existed.  Other times it’s an unexpected pregnancy that ensures a baby in my arms when I drop my first two babies off for preschool.  We just never know why some things happen, but when they do, and we give control over to God, we know we can trust Him to make it good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

God is so good, and I’m so glad that I am not in control.

Proud dad.
Happy dad, happy kids.  Hot dogs served with a smile.

So far my hot dog stand lady fast has been peaceful.  I’ve played with my kids more, I’ve laughed more, I’ve relaxed more.  I’ve enjoyed life more.
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I let my kids run in the ocean with all of their clothes on because we hadn’t packed for the beach.

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My son walked back to the car in his Buzz Lightyear undies and strangers smiled and chuckled.

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“Ellie, look at the camera for mommy!”

We dried clothes out the car windows as we drove the windy roads back to the city.

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I didn’t care that it wasn’t organized or planned or pretty.

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Crying because she fell into the water face first. We convinced her it was fun.

We got sand in the car and dirt in our fingernails.

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We ate hamburgers even though I’ve been trying to coerce my family into eating vegan the past year and a half.

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Fries on fries.
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She is spoiled by her Dada.

I’m letting go of control.  And so far, I’m kinda liking it.IMG_4658

Annnnnd – just because I think there should be SOME form of humor in every post, I give you:

Side of the road bathroom break:

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This should be a “welcome to parenting” greeting card.

Yes, we were too lazy to find a gas station.

No she never did go potty as she stated she needed to do.  Just sat there, in his arms for a very long time, enjoying the experience;-)  He was delighted as you can see.

Thanks for reading.