Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I'm struggling.
I am living a lonelier life than what suits me right now. My husband has been blessed with a change in his job that is very good but, for the near future, consuming. Some of the people who understand me best are busy or far away or just not accessible. Because my husband is mentally AWOL a lot, my kids need me more. And I have a lot of them. And even though there are 15 people living in my house, my heart feels alone.

Alone in my struggles. Alone in my fast and fight to be faithful to the Lord and honor Him with my eating and body; alone in my parenting journey, potty training and providing therapy for the Hormone Squad, and alone in my grieving for the oldest ones growing up. I am alone in the overwhelmedness of doing what I do.

I recently wrote a song, written to order by my worship leader/friend. The song is about joy. Here are some of the words:

There are no good days or bad days
There are only days of grace
Sometimes grace to endure
Sometimes grace to enjoy
But there's always joy

It's a stupid song and it makes me angry, because I don't remember ever in my life being so discouraged as I have been since I wrote that dumb thing. Now I'm not saying it shouldn't be true. But for me, in this season, it ain't.

I have moments of joy and sweetness and cuteness and awe. But I'm also really in a battle to maintain my hold on that grace. I am mostly trying to endure.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm more than 20 or so weeks pregnant is obsess about labor, how the last one went, my best and worst, other people's, how I want this one to go. And this is what I want for this labor. I want to get in there, and after all the fanfare of getting in my room and checked and all monitored up, I want to get down to business, turn the lights down, music on, and just commune with the Lord for every contraction. I don't want anything in my heart but the Lord, my husband and my baby. I don't want to worry about how long or how many or when or if the doctor will get there. I just want to give all my focus to Jesus.

And I think this whole pregnancy and that stupid song and my battle right now is maybe practice. Maybe I'm supposed to be practicing clinging to the Lord when it is hard. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. At least that's what I'm thinking.

Monday, August 26, 2013

They that mourn

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I have been thinking about the comfort of parents this morning.

My friend died. My lifelong friend, before whose friendship I remember very little. 3 and a half decades. I remember her sweetness and comfort and encouragement through all the bumps of growing up, asthma, church camp, fallen leaders, our weddings, I could write pages of memories. She was 3 years older than me. And she is gone.

Tragically. Suddenly. Wrongfully gone.

My heart is ripped.

And today I go to join the other mourners and to be with my parents, whose sole thought, I am sure, is to comfort me, their daughter.

And I am aware that my Father is longing and waiting to comfort me as well. To hold me close.

My second youngest came into my room this morning and climbed up into my lap and I immediately knew, as mamas do, that he had a fever. And if my mama sense couldn't feel the hotness with my face and arms and hands, my experience would have told me that he didn't feel well based on how long and still he was on my lap. He's a very busy 2 year old and he has a lot to do today. He has to flood the bathroom, dump the dog's water into his food, torment his 'twin', take his diaper off and bring it to me . . . a very, very busy boy. He doesn't have time to just sit and 'uggle' his mommy.

Except when he has a fever. Or is sick. Or is hurting.

I don't want my son to be sick. But I love holding him when he is. I don't want him to be hurt. But I cherish the moments he is still enough for me to comfort him.

Children remember that comfort with their hearts beyond their understanding long into adulthood. Don't we all want our mommies when we're sick?

My parents are not glad for the grief. But they will be glad to have me near. I don't normally just leave my 13 kids with their daddy and drive across 2 states to be with my mom and dad alone for a couple days. They wouldn't wish this, but they will be glad to have me near.

My Father does not wish pain in my life. He doesn't desire my tears. But He longs to comfort me, to hold me near, to build in my heart the foundation of trust that He will never leave me, will always care for me, that He has everything I need, that He waits on high to show compassion on me.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Blessed are the merciful

For they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy. I want it. I need it. I gotta give it.

I know what it feels like to be judged. It hurts. I don't like it.

If you are as old as I am you remember the line from Karate Kid that the bad sansei taught the mean kids, "Mercy is for the weak." I think Syndrome also called mercy a weakness in The Incredibles.

They're right. In a way. I am merciful because I am weak and I need others to be merciful to me. Now God is not merciful because He is weak. He isn't. But He is merciful because we are weak.

We are. We are weak creatures who can only see and perceive from our vantage point, our senses, our memories and experiences, our knowledge base. I read or hear what someone says and I can't help but interpret it through my own understanding, my pain, my history. But God.

God is my translator. He is my filter. He heals me. He can turn pain and discomfort and bumps and bruises and misunderstandings into mercy and compassion and love and intercession.

And sometimes I can look at a situation and think, like Esther, what if I'm here for such a time as this? What if God is allowing me to see this person in a weak state so I can step up and pray them through? What if this current awkwardness is really a commissioning and an invitation to partner with Him in the work He's doing?

And sometimes I flunk and eat another cookie and stomp around feeling crappy. Just sayin'.

Mercy says this: I stand before the same throne of grace as you, armed with nothing but Jesus' blood to defend me, same as you. My righteousness is the same as yours, nasty rags. I got nothin' on you. I can love you, I can forgive you, I can lift you up. That's all I got. Mercy. I can't fix you. I can't fix me! But I can bless you.

I am thankful to receive mercy. When I do. And when I don't receive mercy from other weak human beings (like myself), I am thankful that God is rich in mercy, and lavishes it on us.

What a Redeemer He is! I was reading again about Lot's creepy daughters that got their dad drunk, raped him, and got pregnant by him. Ew. And I'm thinking, why didn't God just wipe them out with Sodom? But the elder daughter's son was Moab, father of the Moabites, one of whom was Ruth, of the book of Ruth, ancester of David and Jesus. For the price of God's mercy on a couple nasty, impatient, ungrateful teenage girls, we get a GREAT book and picture of our Kinsman-redeemer, and the bloodline of the great king and the King of kings. God just knows better than we do.

I was also noticing again that the only women mentioned in Matthew's account of Jesus' lineage were the ones who you'd be embarrassed to have there. Rahab the prostitute, Bathsheba the adulteress, Tamar the "temple prostitute", Ruth the Moabitess, not a great list. They didn't have to be included. No other women were. They're there because He wants us to know He's a Redeemer. He is our Redeemer, making all things new.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ordinary every day miracles

I think we take miracles for granted sometimes. Like flying. When people first flew in a plane, I bet they thought it was a miracle. Now some people fly every week and don't think anything about it. (I, on the other hand, don't do it that often, so I still geek out over every take off and pray through every landing.)

When our grandparents first saw The Wizard of Oz, they were blown away by seeing color in a movie for the first time. But I doubt anyone in America was impressed tonight by the spectrum of color on the commercials they watched on the private tv screen in their living room/bedroom/kitchen/or phone.

I wonder if people who do heart surgery and brain surgery and emergency appendix operations think of them as miracles. Even the now demonized vaccinations were once miracles that did and still do save lives.

We don't think of these things as miracles because we are used to them. There are probably lots of better examples. Miracles that happen all the time, so we don't see them as amazing or incredible or beautiful. We're used to them.

I just want to say here that just because something happens with some predictability doesn't mean it is predictable, and just because something happens often doesn't make it less exceptional, and if something is truly spectacular and stunning and perfect, then it is still marvelous even if something similar has happened once or twice or a dozen or so other times.

How do I share something so sacred, so holy, so unique in a way that the information doesn't get lost in the fact that no one is surprised? Would it help to say that I was surprised? I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. Even though I have been so very blessed, I do not assume the miraculous will be repeated. I hope and pray for more miracles. But I don't take it for granted that it will happen. I'm 42. The statistical odds are quite low. But God . . .

In the middle of the miracle of the holy love of a man and his wife, in the most sacred of ways, God the Creator, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit has glorified Himself again, just as He did in a garden thousands of years ago, and has made something, someone entirely new. Weeks ago, He began knitting, without our knowledge but with our heartfelt desire and prayer that He would, an altogether unique, never before conceived human spirit, complete with soul and body. He who made the sun, moon and stars, the oceans, fish and whales, the octopus and elephant and ostrich, the passion flower and bird of paradise, the microscopic and the gigantic, the volcano and glacier, Who formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, is making a baby. In me.

And if the world around us has the understandable response of some positive form of 'again' or some negative form of 'why?' or 'don't you know how this happens?', I just want to say that my response is awe and wonder, stunned silence and joyful dancing, and heaps and tall mountains of gratitude. He doesn't have to do this. It is a miracle. God is making someone fantastic without whom, He knows, the world would be incomplete.

Have you ever heard anything so wonderful in your whole life? ("Yes," someone might say, "I've heard it from you a dozen times"). Ah, no. This is completely different. He has never made anything like this before. It is simply marvelous. It is special. It is sacred. It is a miracle.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eating healthy on a cruise

Or not.

Turned out to be not. I debated long and hard and in the end decided (or just failed to decide the other way) to just eat whatever I wanted the whole time. So here is a list of things I did right and things I did, well, LESS right. And then we will all understand why I weigh about 6 lbs more than I did pre cruise.

1. Eat bread. They brought copious amounts of bread with every meal. At breakfast it was pastries, Danishes, bran muffins, slices of banana bread, at dinner it was just rolls, nothing special. I would have not missed out on life if I'd passed on the whole deal. But I didn't. Pass, that is. I ate some Danish type things, some days. I especially ate rolls when I had soup. With lots of butter. My version of self control was saving my bread and butter till I got my soup. (Bad)

2. Exercise. I did lots. I actually did a 5K or 2 nearly every day, and a couple times I ran (read: jogged slower than most people walked) 2 of them. I swam laps, did the elliptical thingy (in a somewhat spastic fashion, not pretty), and walked and walked and walked. And stairs! We were on deck 5. We never took the elevator. Going for a cookie meant going up 8 flights of stairs. So it didn't happen that often. But when it did, or when we went up there for other reasons, we took the stairs. (Good)

3. Sugar and caffeine. I had them. I took a break from my fast and ate stuff with sugar and caffeine. The chocolate desserts were not good, but chocolate ice cream was worthy. So was the creme brûlée. Which is my favorite. Which was available every day. And I had some. Nearly every day. And coffee. Lots of coffee. (Bad)

4. Other indulgences. I had hot chocolate a few mornings, shrimp cocktail most evenings (it was only 5 small shrimp), and a couple days got an extra entrée. I got a snicker bar in Denali and frozen yogurt in Anchorage. I had fish and chips several times. The best was at Humpy's in Anchorage. All pretty much worth it, I'd say. But I was very full after nearly every meal. (Bad)

5. Frugality. I think I did pretty well as far as not overdoing stuff that cost extra. I took stuff to make oatmeal for all the breakfasts off the boat. I had stuff to do lunch also, but we were always checking out and transporting, so that didn't work. We took Starbucks Via instant coffee also, so the one trip to Cafe Artigiano in Vancouver was the only coffee purchase. We were pretty conservative about our souvenirs, too, as conservative as you can be and buy for 13 kids. (Good)

My favorite parts were: seeing whales, running around the deck surrounded by ocean every day and mountains many days, walking and talking with my husband after many meals, frequent naps, eating yummy food without cooking or doing dishes, reading a whole book, hearing an Athabascan woman tell her story and sing her song, watching my friend paint the mountain, finding a piano when I needed it most, getting off the beaten path, writing postcards to my children and talking to them on the phone, swimming in an indoor outdoor pool in Vancouver, buying presents for my babies, meeting people on the cruise and hearing their stories (including an older couple who won the trip and a man who defected from Poland in his teens), and seeing my children again.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

First born

A long time ago, at a hospital not far away, we walked in as Two and came out as Three, he a father, I a mother, she a daughter. Our firstborn. The first stunning gem on our many faceted crown as parents.

I remember being confused when the medical staff kept calling me Mom. Now I'm so used to the title that on our cruise, our steward called us sir and ma'am, but it seemed to me he was also calling me Mom, endearing. But on that first day as a mother, I kept wondering who they were talking about.

I was also somewhat bewildered when they all referred to the tiny person they kept handing me by the name we had chosen for her. This was a cherished thing, this name we had thought and talked and debated about and finally landed on, only newly bestowed, and here they were throwing it around like it was a foregone conclusion that that's who she was. But was she? Did it fit her? Did we choose well? Would she like it? Would it suit the person she would become? We didn't know.

So much emotion those first moments and days and months. And life is truly never the same. I read a quote when I was pregnant with her, "The decision to become a parent is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." There has been a lot of growing up in the last year, mostly on my part. I don't fall apart nearly as bad when she takes my heart and drives to the other side of town. I am even ok with the idea of her going on a mission trip to the other side of the world. Though I'll likely need drugs to get through it.

The most amazing and delightful thing happens somewhere along the line, when a baby who literally sucks their life out of you becomes a daughter, a person, a sister in faith, and a true friend, one of my best friends. How wealthy I will be someday when all my little life suckers are friends?!

I am the wealthiest woman I know. I know this. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I have gotten to name and bring home 13 treasures, and I get to be with them every day. The uniqueness of each gem in my crown is part of what motivates me to have as many of them as God will give me. And while many have called me mom, she is the one who made me a mom. Happy birthday to my eldest daughter and the delight of my eyes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My apologies

I'm sorry I haven't written lately. I don't feel like I have very much to say, certainly nothing I haven't said before.

My days are filled with emotion:

Joy at the sight of each face in the morning or when little people dance and sing or when children work or play together kindly.

Frustration when a two year old insists on requesting a diaper change by sticking poop covered fingers in my face or when teenagers insist on maintaining their just cause rather than repent and win a brother or sister or when I walk in the family closet to find the floor covered in clothing because the toddlers and small people play hide and seek behind the clothes and the 4 yr old changes clothes multiple times a day.

I have longings in my heart that are not unique to me or to today, the desire for more fruit born in my life, the need to be heard and understood, the hope that I am still a mystery to my husband worth pursuing. It is, somehow, sometimes a lonely place to be, in a crowd of people.

I am challenged to raise my children up and send them out wherever God calls them, even to the ends of the earth, but I whine and bellyache so pitifully when they merely are gone a few hours for a class on the other side of town.

I am disgusted with myself when I withstand temptation for days on end, only to blow it on spaghetti and potato salad, which I don't even like! I wonder if I'll ever be thin.

The restless, overwhelmed, frustrated me just wants to eat away the pain, not that that works, but it provides momentary relief. And who doesn't want relief?

Jesus, would you meet me here, on Monday morning. I need Your help. Even though I love my life I find myself running away to food and Facebook when it doesn't feel good to be me. Fill me with You again.

P.S. While I wrote this the toddlers played in the sugar, ate it and put it in their hair.

Monday, April 08, 2013

I get to do this

The other night as my alarm went off to wake me for my 3:00 a.m. shift on the Moravian Night Watch prayer chain that I hold each night, every other week, I remembered something that I sometimes forget, not just about the night watch, but about many other things, in fact, most things that are hard in my life right now.

I get to do this.

I am not on the night watch for any other reason than this. I want to talk to God sometimes, and the middle of the night is a good tome for that. I don't have much else going on. I get a text from a friend when I start and a text from a different friend when I'm done. It helps me do what I want to do, which helps me be who I want to be. No one is making me. I get to do it.

I get to be my kids' mom. I get to break up fights, clean up messes, wipe tears and snotty noses and poopy butts and vomit soaked carpets. I get to hold a baby or two or three, get my lip biffed and hair pulled and toes stepped on. I get to listen to speeches and critique papers and help with memory verses and multiplication problems. I have the privilege of helping daughters work through emotional moments and helping angry sons find peace again.

I have the pleasure of being married to a wonderful man who has a job, works hard, and needs an ironed shirt every day. It is something I get to do. He also needs quiet when he works from home. He has late night phone calls sometimes, and emails to read, and leaves me to fend for myself with millions of children almost every day. We get to do this.

I get to eat healthy, wholesome food that makes my body stronger and better equipped to handle life, hopefully including another pregnancy or two, if I am afforded that luxury.

These blessings I sometimes mistake for burdens. I sometimes grumble, get weary, complain. But truly, almost everything I would complain about is actually something I get to do and am grateful for, if I really think about it.

So, Monday morning, I start the day low on sleep, because I had the joy of getting up at 3:10 a.m. to pray with my MNW brothers and sisters. I have big things I'd like to get done, laundry caught up, sew a couple blankets, clean out the basement. But maybe all I will get through today is not getting any further behind. That's ok. That's a gift too.

Thank You Jesus for my blessings. Help me remember to thank You for them.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Quote from school today

"He doesn't love because I am awesome. He loves me because He is awesome."

My best day doesn't impress Him. My worst day doesn't discourage Him.

He gives me His righteousness.

I can't make Him love me more by being good. I can't make Him love me less by being bad.

With all the discussion about gay marriage going around, I just want to say that Jesus has way more trouble with the "pride" part of gay pride than the "gay" part. Don't get me wrong, He doesn't like homosexuality, but He doesn't like gluttony, lust, fornication, adultery, greed, or course jesting either. But there are not 'fat pride' or 'porn pride' parades that I am aware of (Mardi Gras?). And if there were, He'd be opposed to them too. He is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

I would hope that our churches would embrace any repentant person, regardless of what sin they're struggling with, so long as they're not trying to get the supreme court or a legislature to officially recognize their sin as equal to something ordained by God. But I'm sure we, as the church, have screwed this up plenty. That doesn't make us right, and it doesn't make homosexuality right.

It's like there are 2 conversations we need to have. 1) Has the church done a good job of having compassion on repentant or not yet repentant sinners? Not always, for sure. Totally separate question: 2) Should the government officially protect (and therefore endorse) certain folks in a specific sinful lifestyle? No. They shouldn't outlaw the sinful activity, but to sanction it (you know, like we do abortion) is to defy the law of God our country is founded on. Historically, God does judge nations. He does.

1) and 2) have nothing to do with each other. Christians should both love people struggling with sin and stand for what is right on a governmental level. Not wanting the government to protect gay marriage is not equal to being a hater. I can have compassion on people in that lifestyle, whether they're trying to get out or defending it, and still want the government to make righteous choices.

I am trying to understand/comprehend God's love for me. I think if I can grasp it in some measure, I could both receive love from others in greater measure, and share His love with others in greater measure. Up close, I'm not all that impressive, and God's love for me is hard to fathom. The most encouraging thing to me is the fact that my very best isn't good enough to impress Him, let alone my normal. But He has blessed me with every spiritual blessing, redemption, adoption, power, the revelation of His mystery, and the pledge of His Holy Spirit, all for me, from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1)

Why? Because I'm great? No. To the praise of the glory of His grace. Not just for me, of course. For the drug addict, the compulsive gambler, and the shop-a-holic. For the gamer and the player. For the gangsta and the e-trader. For the people making bad movies and the people watching bad movies. For those performing abortions, those contemplating one, those recovering from one and those dressed up in horrific constumes defending the right to get one. For the L and the G and the B and the T. For the unmarried couple living together and the married couple just separated.

Don't you see? It is our wicked, wicked pride that wants so badly to say, 'My sin is better than your sin.' Silly, silly human. There is none righteous. No, not one. Well, there was this One Guy, but they killed Him.

God waits to show compassion on ANYBODY who repents. He had mercy on Ahab, for crying out loud. Who are we to withhold mercy.

And it is also true that our nation cannot continue to make choices that are contrary to the Word of God without suffering the consequences. We can't. Thanks God for mercy. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. I need it. I was conceived a sinner. It's in my DNA, and I will struggle against my natural desire for sin all my life. But His grace is sufficient for me. For you.

He doesn't love me because I'm good. He loves me because He is.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Battle of the Secret Ingredient Cakes

Or, www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com's cauliflower cake vs. www.healthyindulgences.net's black bean cake

Both looked fabulous in pictures, and had gushy reviews, so we gave them a shot and had a taste test, before handing out the blood red velvet not healthy at all cake for my 3rd son's birthday. In a survey of 10 voting children and 2 voting parents, the bean cake won 11 to 1.

Sorry to say for Katie, we threw most of her's away. It is possible I didn't add enough stevia, so it was pretty dark, but it just honestly never stopped tasting or smelling like cauliflower. She said her boyfriend said it was the best chocolate cake he'd ever eaten, but I'm thinking it must have been a new boyfriend, or something. Normally, I really love the stuff on her website. (Homemade larabars!!)

H.I.'s bean cake was good, it's half gone. However, it is a case in point of the concept that not everything called 'healthy' is equally healthy. Katie's cake contains spelt flour, cauliflower, flax, and xylitol, frosted with almond butter and pure maple syrup primarily. Although too much nut butter has a lot of fat, it also has protein and therefore some nutritional value. H.I.'s cake had, in addition to the black beans, 5 eggs and 6 tbs coconut oil, with a STICK of butter in the frosting! Not something you can really feel good about eating. Katie says 'healthy' and means vegan and of nutritional value, H.I. says 'healthy' and means low carb and gluten free. For the long run of life, I know Katie's cake is healthier. But it's cake, and cake has to taste good.

I've been trying lots of healthy foods. Some you eat because they're good for you. Some you eat because you're hungry. But cake has to be something you eat because it's delicious. I might try Katie's frosting on the bean cake sometime, because it was finger-lickin' good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hobbit

A review from a homeschooling housewife who almost never watches movies

My children have forgotten that this is the day they've been waiting for, the day The Hobbit comes out on DVD, and I will forget to remind them until such time as we have a good opportunity to do something about it. For my part, I am also excited to see it and have it, because I never really enjoy any movie the first time, perhaps even less one that undertakes to represent a beloved book.

Granted, I should have written this review when I first saw it, or I should wait till I see it again, but hopefully my memory holds from the impressions I had then but neglected to write.

In so many ways, The Hobbit was the second cup of tea from a very good bag. Still delicious, but not nearly as much as the first. We have the same wonderful scenery, many of the same actors, some similar musical themes, the same feel. This also shoots us in the foot a little, since some of the players, notably Gandalf, have aged in real life. That cannot be hidden. But I don't think any of us could imagine another Gandalf.

Bilbo, on the other hand, I think we accept almost seamlessly. He is Bilbo. He doesn't like surprises or adventures and did they leave without me?? I don't like the trifling with his motivations, why he did what he did, with the whole, going so the dwarves have a home business. Whatever. They went for the treasure, for pride, for greed. Let's don't try to redeem it. Bilbo didn't go to give the dwarves a home. He went because something rose up in him to be more than he had been, to see if he could be more, or die trying. It was about him, not them.

I didn't care for Agent Smith (from The Matrix) as Elrond in any of the movies. Hugo Weaving is NOT the master of 'The Last Homely House' pictured in the hobbit, nor is it necessary to forever pound on the Elves vs. Dwarves theme at every opportunity. We get it. Dwarves and Elves have issues. K. Thanks. Move along.

I know we need Galadriel to visit because there has to be at least one girl action figure to sell, but, I, yeah, what? Nah.

I loved the trolls, even if they did it without Gandalf throwing his voice.

Main beef, main problem, big deal: in the book, Bilbo happens upon the ring before knowing Gollum exists. In the movie, he is truly a thief. The problem is that Gandalf says later that the reason Bilbo (and later Frodo) is able to give the ring up is because he did not come by it deceitfully. Here, Bilbo does knowingly take what belongs to someone else. That's a big deal.

Who? Jabba the Hutt? In Middle Earth? I know we have to create a series of villians to justify the 3 movies, and have to develop them enough to hate and fear them and wish their demise, but this goblin king was not my fave. I guess I think of the Hobbit's goblins as dirtier, battier, more demonic dark sooty things that would get you inky and dirty if you touched them. These fat white albino goblins with big eyes are just weird.

I love the variety among dwarves. They are not all the same after all. I was surprised to really like a too young Thorin and a too old Balin. But Bombur was not believable, and many of the dwarves cutesy hair was too, too much.

The 'battle' scenes felt like a video game and the whole thing was geared for the 3D glasses I didn't wear. In short, I think the market being pursued was the younger, gaming crowd that hasn't read the book and wasn't old enough to see the trilogy in theatres, knowing that all the rest of us suckers will show up because Middle Earth feels like home to us and Gandalf reminds us of our old Gaffer.

It was ok. Not great. But ok, and I get it. They're making money, that's why. That is why hollywood exists, afterall. It was a good piggyback. My hopes are low for the second and 3rd installment of the piggyback, but I can't wait to see what they do with Beorn, and I look forward to more of Radagast - what fun!

And that is my review of the Hobbit, 3 months or so overdue.

Schmoopy and springing forwarder

I am awake, at 6:24 a.m., courtesy of my son, who decided today to spring even further forward and get up at the nearly magical hour of 4:46. Nearly magical, because if it would have been 4:44, it would have been a neat reminder of Isaiah 44:4 and how I belong to the Lord and crap like that. But it wasn't. (Though, in his defense, and His, I'm sure the baby was, in fact, awake at 4:44. I was just hoping he'd go back to sleep. He didn't.) And now, I predict he will go back to sleep right about the time the other babies' internal alarm is set to begin their conquest and destruction of the planet.

I'm pondering, of all things, the whole grace/law mystery. Is it possible that God, and Jesus, and let's throw the Holy Spirit in there too, is it possible that He/They really like/love/accept/see me the same, at the end of the day, the same if I am good as if I am bad? That whether I read my whole Youversion Bible allotment and am kind to my children and they get all their stuff done and I make homemade soup and bread and walk the dog and he actually poops and I use cloth diapers (on the babies, that is) and rinse them right away and make my bed and run on the treadmill and lose 60 lbs, or I'm a slacker and don't do any of those things, He likes and loves me the same?

Because I trip on the verses that say things like (and I'm honestly quoting an old Petra song here, not the actual Bible, but THEY were quoting the Bible, so that's almost the same) how can (how can) we who are dead to sin live any longer therein. The real verses are in Romans. I grew up hating Romans. I don't get it. Or when I do, it's for a fleeting moment. Then it's gone. This is obviously not one of those moments, now, is it? No.

I've always, I think, been addicted. So happens I'm addicted to eating now. At least I think I am. I have these triggers. When I eat one of them, sweet things or bread mostly, I forget completely that I ever wanted to eat healthy or be thin or strong or a good example to my children, and all I want to do is eat everything in the world, or at least within walking distance. Hence the fatness.

And I really do think it's a spiritual issue. I am supposed to be dead to sin, but I'm walking therein! There are lots of verses, Old and New Testament, about the appetite and the god of our bellies, (end of Phil. 3), and I believe I have heard abundantly clearly from God to KNOCK IT OFF, stay away from the triggers, and eat healthy and glorify Him with my body. If I don't do that, it's sin, right? If He tells me what to do and I don't do it, I'm pretty sure that's sin.

So how can He like me?

(the baby is back asleep, other babies still asleep, but hubs is up now, opportunity for snuggles is gone, besides, I'm in the middle of a ponder here)

My sin continues to separate me, although I know and He knows and you know He already done died on the cross for it. I know (we all know) that it's me that does the separatin'.

I just can't understand how He can like me!!! I can't. I don't. Why does He want to be with me when I screw up every day all the time? Why does He want to be my friend? I wouldn't.

I am reading the book Wild Love by my friend Chris DuPre. (He really is my friend, not just on Facebook). He says, roughly, that our capacity to love cannot go beyond how much we perceive God's love for us. I think maybe I perceive His love. It's His 'like' that I struggle with.

And so I struggle with everyone else's like as well. My husband, my friends, whoever. I don't like me, I don't know why God would like me, why the heck would you?

I think you find what you look for in people, and that may be the key here. It is possible that when He looks at me, He is not looking for the sin. It's there. It's just not what He's after. What I imagine He is after is my heart. Funny, we sing that to Him, "I am after Your heart, I'm after You." It's like that old (stupid) Seinfeld episode (which, maybe I didn't see but only heard about) where Jerry has met his match, Jeanine with-the-long-last-name-like-Galapogos-turtle-but-that's-not-it, and they make googoo eyes and have mock arguements about who loves who the most, saying over and over to everyone's annoyance, "You're schmoopy, no you're schmoopy."

I am after His heart, only to find He's after mine. It's a mystery. A big fat schmoopy mystery.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Already waiting

I have this in my heart for a family who recently lost their baby boy, and so many others who have lost their little ones during this season. I'm not saying I know how it feels. This is just part of my heart's response to the grief I feel for them and imagine for my own son.

My son you will never know hunger
My son you will never know pain
My son you will never be lonely for anyone in
The beauty of the Lamb

My son you will never know sorrow
My son you will never feel shame
My son you will never be addicted to anything but
The light of Jesus' face

And though it breaks my heart each day
Since you left my empty arms
Still it would be worse to have to face eternity without you
I know that I'll see your face
Forever when I come home
You'll already be waiting there

My child so many things I wish for you
Now will never ever happen
But the thing I wish for you more than anything else
That thing you already have

And though it breaks my heart each day
Since you left my empty heart
Still it would be worse to have to face eternity without you
I know that I'll see your face
Forever when I come home
You'll already be waiting there

How great is the loss, having had you in my womb, my heart, my hands
All empty now without you
How desperate my sadness, if any that I have here breathing with me
Live lives full of years but empty of their Savior

My son, I am jealous for your laughter
My son, I am aching for your smile
My son, I am lonely to hold you in my arms but I know I will
I just have to wait a little while

And though it breaks my heart each day
Since you left my empty heart
Still it would be worse to have to face eternity without you
I know that I'll see your face
Forever when I come home
You'll already be waiting there
Until then
You're already waiting there

Friday, March 15, 2013

Super hard week

It began last Thursday. No, Wednesday. Wednesday night, Dad painted the kitchen in preparation for the new floor in the kitchen and dining room. Our dining room is really our school room. Every child has a cubby and a shelf where they keep all their school books and things. We moved everything from the kitchen and dining room to the living room, including the fridge and the first floor toilet, and moved to the attic for a couple days.

The next thing that happened is that people started to get sick. In particular, the three big kids were sick and all had a paper to write from the same reading material and a test to take and speeches to give. There were places to go or not, decisions to make (in some cases I made the wrong one).

But then there were the particulars of what kind of sick everyone was. There were fevers, there was coughing, there were people laying around everywhere. And then the smallest of people had the kind of sickness that requires diaper and pants to be changed every few minutes. 3 people, non stop liquid nasty down the leg.

So no one can find anything, everyone laying around coughing, some puking, fevering, down the legging, and then the dad got sick. And he's pretty much dead with fever. Completely incapacitated. And then the dishwasher broke. Again.

Did I mention that I ordered the wrong amount of flooring in the smallish not enough kind of way? Linear footage or something. So it didn't get done, and all the upside downishness never got undone. I still have a fridge and toilet in the living room.

I am desperately clinging to my health. There are only 2 of us, out of 15, who have not been sick yet. If I can just hold on till the dad and big kids feel all better, that will be a win for our team. And if we can get through the Awana games without giving our horrible sickness to our teammates. And it is so hard to eat any thing like healthy when all the helpful people are sick and all the stuff we can't find and the nasty gross diapers to change and the mostly dead hubby to care for. I am absolutely certain that a pbj or a cookie would solve all these problems. Ok, that isn't true. But it is truly hard to eat right on a hard day, or for a week full of hard days.

Bright spot: one of my sons says, "Mom, how can I help you?" Don't be impressed. It is on his chore chart to ask that. I say, "Can you get a towel and dry off these pans and put them away." I forgot to say DISH towel. I also forgot to say CLEAN towel. Oh well. So I washed them again. :)


Today is a special day for me.

I am celebrating a child's birthday. My second son. This is the day I became the mother of sons. Boys. I remember sitting on the couch in sheer ecstacy, watching March Madness WITH MY SONS. (I'm from Indiana. That means basketball. I rarely get to, but always enjoy watching college hoop in the early spring.)

But it goes way beyond that. Today I celebrate the beginning of trusting. The beginning of letting go. The beginning of knowing that what God wants and has for me far supercedes anything I could have imagined.

It is in the Word of God, so I don't know why it surprised me: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think ...

Anyway. I had a plan. The number of kids, the spacing. This child's arrival put the final nail in the coffin of my carefully thought out plan for the future. In a good way. In the best possible way.

In the movie, Hook, there is a line that I like to quote when I think about my children and family planning: What would the world be like without Captain Hook?

What would the world be like without this boy? This expressive, funny, thoughtful, know-it-all boy. This fantastic treasure of blue-eyed, freckled, boy-becoming-man full of passion and thought and opinion and strength and heart. He is simply magnificent in every way. What if I had said no? What if I had had my way and skipped that particular batch of sperm and waited until a less overwhelmed season of life? I would have missed this amazing human, this beautiful soul.

Am I saying people should just throw 'caution' to the wind?

Yes! If you have faith for it. If your body isn't broken. If you are willing to take God at His Word, call every child a blessing, (if you are MARRIED), if you are willing to work hard and let go of what the world values for the sake of what God calls good.

Because this is what I celebrate on March 15th. I have in my world a spectacular son that I would have chosen not to have, and God gave him to me anyway, and I could not be more thankful. And we have received in the years since then, 10 such extravagant bestowments, 10 more wonderful gifts.

I know what you are saying, or at least I could guess.
"You must really love children."
"You have more patience than I do."
"I don't have enough money."
"I wouldn't be able to be a good enough parent for more kids."

I do love MY children. Who doesn't?
My patience has increased, by the grace of God, with each child's arrival. The person I was 10 years ago would not have made it through this past week.
I don't have enough money to do everything I want, but God provides everything I NEED.
Again, I would say, if you say yes to the Lord, every day, He gives you everything you need to do everything He gives you to do.

I know it is a crazy idea. But for evidence, I present to you this day, my second son, my lefty, my stunning, handsome, bellicose, cocky, wreckless, crazy, compassionate, eavesdropping, nibnosing, worshiping, writing, dancing, drumming, constantly learning and fact spouting son.

I could go on for days about this boy. About each of them. Because he is so unique, so special. But so are the other 12.

Will we have more? Oh, I hope so. More of this exquisite deliciousness. More of this brilliance. Because I don't know what I would be missing if I were ever to say no to the Giver of gifts, and He does know. I can trust Him.

Happy Birthday 3rd Blessing.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


I weighed less this morning than I have in more than 17 years. It's still not that impressive. I am still, I think, considered morbidly obese. Just over five feet tall and just under two hundred pounds is nothing to brag about, to be sure. But better is good. Less is better than staying the same and WAY better than gaining. Do I feel good? Yes, but I'm still really overweight. It's ok. But I am.

It is hard to imagine thin, hard to picture me that way. I study myself in the mirror now, marveling at my collar bones, trying to find the rest of my neck. The good news is that kids are already used to the nearly 60 pounds less version of me. Old (fat) pictures of me already look wrong to them. That's cool, because maybe the littles won't remember a fat mom at all.

I have ideas about what I'll do when... One thing I want to do is have a "Hundred Pounds" party, and invite everybody I know to come and bring a healthy food to share. But that's still 42 lbs away. In the mean time, I'm about to passing another milestone and I'm not sure how to celebrate. An extra smoothie, perhaps? I don't like shopping, so buying new clothes is more punishment than reward.

I am celebrating with thankfulness, that's for sure. Thankful for my sisters, encouraging me, friends supporting me, husband and older children putting up with my moods and inconsistencies, and especially the steadfast love of the Lord, which never ceases.

So here's to another quart jar of green slime, another bowl full of cold vegetables on a chilly winter day, a comforting bowl of soup that hits the spot that used to be hit by a cheeseburger, a cup of tea that smells better than it tastes, and a piece of thawed out carrot cake that really is completely good for me, and is also completely delicious. Thanks God for good food to eat, the money to buy it, the time to make it, and the good it's doing my body. Help me lean on You more tomorrow than I did today. Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What I ate to live today:

So I have had like 3 successful days in a row, therefore I'm feeling cocky enough to pretend like I know something about this Eat To Live journey that somebody might want to read. Here's what I ate today:

For breakfast I had a smoothie, and I admit I'm in a rut with this. 3/4 c unsweetened almond milk (Trader Joe's is the cheapest), 3/4 cup pomegranate plum juice (on sale at Aldi), half a bag (5 oz) spinach, 2 cups frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mixed, whatever), and a banana. I'm out of flax, or I would put that in as well. It's ugly, it's green, it's huge and I eat the whole thing.

For lunch, I had a bowl of my Montreal (cuz I use Montreal Steak seasoning) vegetable beef soup, minus the beef. Green beans, black beans, corn, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, your basic clean-the-fridge, never the same pot twice kind of soup. I also ate a full bowl of Eldest's version of Broccoli Raisin salad, which isn't NEARLY as good without the bacon.

For a snack I had grape nuts with strawberries, blueberries, hemp seed and sliced almonds, and unsweetened almond milk. Yum.

And for supper, it's a Southwestish kind of salad: a huge bowl of romaine, pinto beans (with cayenne and garlic powder), black olives, orange bell pepper, and dressing made with rotel, onion and avocado. Pretty spectacular, huh.

About half the things I make don't work very well and either have to be adjusted, suffered through, or pitched. I hate to throw away healthy, expensive food. I am working out the kinks. But the more I do it right, the better it tastes and feels.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Terrible Two

Today my sixth son is 2. He goes by many variations on his name, but mostly I call him Buddy. He has straight blond hair, "moonblinked" blue eyes (from the owl Guardians movie which I have not seen) and today, bright pink cheeks to go with his birthday fever.

His favorite song, the only one he sings, is Happy Birthday. He just sings, "Happy, happy, happy." So it's good that today it really is his birthday. We have had a big snow storm here and were not able to get the presents we waited till the last minute to buy, so sometime today I'll send some big kids scrounging to the attic with the goal of finding some toys he would like but hasn't noticed yet.

And I now have 2 two year olds. They've been 2 for a while, for all practucal purposes, due to the monkeyseemonkeydo factor. And it dawned on me yesterday, again, that concept that has risen to the surface a number of times over the years: if I want to get pregnant again and have more children (and I do) I really ought to stop complaining about the ones I have. Even more, if I honestly want the Lord to give me twins in my old age (and I do) I should stop whining about my 2 Twos.

So this is my rejoicing over the screaming, furniture-markering, diaper-removing, fighting, compulsive-dancing, food-throwing, knee-deep-in-cuteness existence of my too terribly 2 Twos.

Happy, happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sick babies, big kids

Sick babies

Big kids

The greatness and agony of my life right now lies in the straddling of these two parallel universes. The small, sick, sad, needy and the big, nervous, emotional needy. The middle kids don't need as much. In fact, they'd just as soon be left alone, so they can play chess or clay or put a half cup of sugar in their tea, avoiding school and chores like the plague, brandishing wooden swords and light sabers and nerf guns with no ammo but still deemed effective because they make that cool poof! sound when you pull the trigger. But the smalls want held and the bigs want to practice their speeches. Little cries and long stories both claim my ears and brain cells. And I don't mind. There's nowhere I'd rather be, nothing I'd rather do. Except maybe fold laundry.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On feeling inadequate

Ways I feel inadequate today:

My oldest child has a broken toe, I'm pretty sure.  She didn't want to go in when the youngest had a checkup yesterday, and I didn't make her.  The doctor said you don't have to bring her in unless the toe is crooked.  Well, it is.  It is also purplish gray an inch into her foot.  But the same toe on the other foot is crooked too, I think the same way.  I feel inadequate because I don't know if I should take her in and because I'm pretty sure they can't do anything to fix it.

My youngest daughter ate a cough drop tonight, but for a few frightening moments I was afraid she had drunk half a bottle of benedryl.  She came to me with a cough medicine smell on her breath and a sticky hand with the same smell.  Scary.  I'm imagining ipicac and stomach pumping and trying to keep her awake.  S'ok, just a cough drop.  But that's where I went.

I feel like my babies' skin does better with disposables, plus I'm about a decade behind on laundry, so I have a whole supply of cloth diapers I'm just storing right now.  And I feel bad about that, inadequate.

My children have been listening to Adventures in Odyssey and my husband has been Netflixing The West Wing, both of which (along with ALL television/movies/radio drama/plays/commercials) I cannot handle the suspense of, so I feel emotionally manipulated and not myself.  I know it is all made up, but tv stresses me out.

I did about a B- job of eating the way I want to today.  There are just honestly moments that I want comfort from food, and even though my comfort is in the Lord, sometimes I forget.  And sometimes I make poor choices.  It is especially hard to resist the healthyish but not completely beneficial to me food that I make for my kids, things like chocolate whole wheat chia seed zucchini bread and chocolatecoveredkatie.com's totally addictive cornbread. 

My baby did not gain the weight my doc and I thought he should since his last check up.  This hasn't happened to me in about 7 kids, and even though I've learned a lot since then, part of me just wants to give up and do the bottle thing.  On the other hand, if he is the last baby I have, I'd hate to have quit nursing early without a fight.

Fifth daughter has a cough I can't help with, the kind a 3 yr old gets that would be so much better if she just knew how to cough and wasn't afraid to do it, but instead just keeps coughing and puking because she doesn't know how yet.  I wish I could cough for her. 

Little physical things wear down a mom's confidence, her feeling of 'all's well'.  Little character things, lack of discipline, fights between siblings, unforgiveness, do the same. 

And I'm back in that place of mistaken identity where I think being a good mom (or wife or human) is about how healthy or diligent or kind my kids are or how organized or thin I am, when in reality, my value is something calculated in the eyes of the One who formed me. 

That He can love me and cherish me in that Psalm 139 kind of way, having searched me and known me, my down sitting and my uprising, being intimately acquainted with all my ways, knowing my words, thoughts, actions, and days before there is yet one of them, that escapes me.  I spend my life trying desperately to earn love and acceptance THAT I ALREADY HAVE.

I have laughingly considered (laughing because of how very angry it would make my mother) getting a tattoo across the knuckles of my right hand, in Hebrew, "Belonging to the Lord".  Isaiah 44 - poplars that spring up like grass, with resiliance, saying belonging to the Lord, written on their hands. 

Ok, I'm not getting a tattoo on my hand.  But I wish it was written there, to help me remember that before and after and in the midst of everything else, I am His. 

What I say, what I do, what I eat and drink and feel.  He is intimately acquainted with all my ways.  My soul knows it very well.

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blesses Savior
I surrender all

Friday, February 15, 2013

For the record,

I have never wanted to be pregnant more. It's that whole biological clock ticking thing, I guess, knowing that all women eventually stop getting pregnant. And being near as some of my dearest friends have lost or are losing babies. And saying goodbye to a friend who finished her race. Life seems so precious and fragile and incredibly desirable/priceless/indescribably wanted - having trouble really saying what I mean to say.

Because I still cherish the 'yes' and the 'no'. If I never conceive again, or if I never give birth again, I am completely and entirely thankful and content and so glad He has been in charge, without contest, for much of my fertile life. I have obviously nothing to complain of.

I just want to go on record as saying that if there is ever to be another person for us sometime, that would be even more wonderful, if that's possible, than all the previous 13, because, I don't know. Because He doesn't HAVE to. He doesn't have to give me anything. He doesn't have to bless me anymore. And if He did, does, would, if, well, yeah, I'm just saying that would be indescribably marvelous.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

To err is human, to forgive is . . .

a really, really good idea.

Here's why. When you do not forgive, it's like saying to the enemy (and there is one) please come in and mess up my heart really bad. You give the enemy a foothold. Picture a rock climbing wall. The little knobby things you step on - those are footholds. How hard would it be to climb the wall if those weren't there? Hard. If someone were trying to come in the back door and it was closed and locked, it would be hard to come in, right? But if the door was open and someone had their foot in it, a foothold, how much easier would it be? Way easier, right?

We have a real enemy who comes to steal and kill and destroy. The enemy seeks to divide us and drag us off (in unforgiveness) and make us feel depressed and alone. The enemy wants us to take sad or hard things that happen to us, accidentally or on purpose, and dwell on them, and rehearse them, and believe they represent how people and God have and always will let us down.

When we get hurt, and we do, and we will, and if you haven't, let me be the first to warn you that it will happen, we have an opportunity to choose what to do with that pain. We can say, "Jesus, this hurts. Will You please heal me and help me forgive and flood this pain with Your great love for me?" (and then He says YES! every time) OR we can think on it and practice what we would have said and what we will say next time and notice the similarity between this pain and that other pain I felt the last 37 times something sort of similar to this happened and carefully close off the part of heart that got messed up so it WILL NOT GET HURT THAT WAY AGAIN. Not saying don't have boundaries or use wisdom or cross the street with eyes closed carrying lucky cricket. Not saying that. But we have a choice. And when we choose to hold on to the pain instead of asking and letting God help us forgive, we issue an open invitation to the enemy of Jesus and us to come and make himself quite comfortable in our lives. And it just goes downhill from there.

I had a conversation like the above one with my most emotional kids this morning, when they were already at each others' throats before 8:30 a.m. on VALENTINE'S DAY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. It stemmed from another conversation I had with a friend about where so&so was and how so&so is doing and realizing how many so&so's go away hurt, and thinking, geez, what is it we (the church/body of Christ) are doing, hurting so many people so bad? Well we bump into each other a lot. That's true. But we are just a bunch of redeemed sinners, we're bound to bump into each other. And when I look at some of what we did, hurting each other, I'm not so sure I'd have the wisdom to do it differently if I was walking through it again.

Anyway, I am trying to train my humans to forgive. To have mercy. To bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. To keep no record of wrongs. Crap like that. Kindness. Kindness is on her tongue. (me, the proverbs 31 woman) I try, from birth, to build love into their relationships with each other.

And I realized, in the aforementioned conversation (it was a great talk), that this marvelous life we have that we did not initially choose (remember my initial plan of 4 kids spaced 3 years apart?) is wonderful in a way I don't think I had figured. Our children have a great fall back system for when things get tough in relationships in the future. Duh, right? My friend explained to me that for him, with just one sister, when his friends made unwise decisions, and he had to take a stand, it was just him - he was alone in it. But my children have each other. Not only for accountability, but also for support. They watch out for each other and stand watch over each other. They guard and buffer.

That is, if I can teach them not to accuse and kill each other.


In other news.
I went to the OB today, for that followup checkup that is supposed to happen when baby is 6 weeks old, 'cept that he's 6 months old. I mostly went because I think I broke or fractured or injured my tailbone giving birth, and needed to have him confirm that yeah I probably did and there isn't a dang thing he can do about it. That was confirmed. We also chatted about how statistically I'm past the age of getting pregnant easily, but that God can do anything, look at Sarah and Elizabeth. They were glad to see me and are cheering for me, hoping I'll be back again soon. And I was oh so close to being under the 200 lb weight on the scale. If only my appointment had been in the morning. Or if I had pooped first.


I have been pondering, again, getting off the fence in my feeble compromised Nazarite fast and really giving the Lord what I think He wants. I don't want to make a rash vow, like King Saul, "nobody gets any food till we win this battle". Yeah, that was a great idea. I don't want to do that. I don't want to promise something I can't deliver. And the line is really hard to draw. Caffeine, is, well it is pretty simple. Sort of. Not hard coffee. But what about decaf? What about white tea or green tea or chai? What about chocolate - like come cocoa powder in my smoothie? Then there's sugar. Okay, not white sugar. Or brown. But how about honey or pure maple syrup? What about artificial sweeteners? How about agave? Do I eat fruit sweetened things? Fruit juice? You see what I mean? It simply isn't as simple as smoking or not smoking, drinking or not drinking.

But this is what I think God wants, and therefore what I want. I want to not eat the things that are addictive for me. The things that I cannot stop eating once I start. But I have really struggled with how to make that work, from a health perspective, and from a coping perspective. Those are things like: bread, waffles, pancakes, white rice, anything chocolate, most dairy, anything with sugar or artificial sweetener.

I am excited about that Eat to Live book because I feel there is wisdom from God for me in it. It seems to me that the Lord is saying to me, like He said to Adam and Eve, "Here I am giving you all these things to eat, just don't eat from this tree." He has given me all the same things He gave them. He even says, in Proverbs, if you find honey, don't eat too much of it. But I can eat as much as I want of fruits, veggies, beans, and some nuts and seeds and grains (brown rice and steel cut oats are cool). There is freedom in that way of eating, and that way is also, according to all kinds of studies (describe in Fuhrman's book) the very healthiest way to eat. It makes sense - that is what they ate in the garden, and that is the way that studies have shown best prevents the diseases people in wealthy countries die from. In poorer places, people die because their water is not clean or they don't have adequate medical care or enough to eat. But they are eating the right stuff, so they don't die of the stuff that kills us. In wealthier places, we choose to eat what isn't as good for us because it tastes good, is more convenient and we can afford it. We don't die of the stuff that kills them because we have clean water and good medical care. But if we ate the stuff they eat, fruits and veggies and plant products, we could have the best of both worlds, clean water, good medical care, AND healthy food and bodies.

Today is Valentine's Day. I made monkey bread for my kids for breakfast. I had a smoothie (soy milk, pomegranate juice, half a bag spinach, 2 cups frozen fruit, an apple somebody took a couple bites out of and left for dead, a tbs cocoa powder in honor of Saint Valentine, and some vanilla). For lunch I had a gynormous salad (3 kinds of lettuce, kidney beans, walnuts, almonds, yellow bell pepper, shredded carrot (which sort of reminds me of cheese), celery, tomato, broccoli, and Trader Joe's greek dressing). And for dinner we went to my favorite Indian restaurant, where I had chai, veggie palak on rice and naan. And then I shared a sugar free (Simply Lite) chocolate bar from Trader Joe's (in my opinion the best sugar free chocolate) with my valentine.

There were some Valentine style splurges there. But mostly I'll be doing the smoothie, soup, and salad existence. I won't be hungry. I will be satisfied with Jesus and with the food He has given me.


This is some of the stuff I haven't been writing about. Sorry for slacking. I just haven't had time. One of my dishwashers is busted (just a couple weeks past the one year warranty - they said I could extend it for $250, OR I CAN BUY ANOTHER DISHWASHER) and my Laundry Pure croaked, still under warranty, so we're washing clothes with soap and hot water again, and guess what?! The clothes are not cleaner, they just smell like soap now. The Laundry Pure really does a better job, I am convinced of it now. I think mine died because of being a refurb. Or maybe because we do a normal family's decade's worth of laundry in 6 months. Anyway, they were very gracious, and I look forward to having it back.

Also, my washer has been on the fritz, stopping half way through a load, and then my 8 and 9 year old laundry helpers put a load of dripping wet clothes and blankets in the dryer and it takes 3 cycles of dryer time to get those dry and ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, we're grotesquely behind on laundry. Wretched. And I'm still not unpacked completely from two road trips ago.

Another thing taking up a lot of time is all this salad making and cooking I'm trying to do. Making oatmeal and pancakes and homemade stuff takes so much more time than cereal and chicken nuggets. But, I think it's worth it.


Okay, I'm feeling somewhat caught up. Do you feel better? I'll try to keep up a little better. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fitness journey update - Eat To Live

Disclaimer: this is premature glory. I have lost a whole pound, not anything to write home or a blog about. Acknowledged.

Okay. I went to a beloved friend's house (She has long red hair and 10 kids, for those of you who know me personally and need to know exactly who I'm talking about) with the intention of asking while there about her tricks for feeding a lot of children breakfast on a healthy dime. I knew she would have wisdom. Boy did she!

Within a few minutes of being there, I asked my first question (it had been too long since the last visit and we both had lots of questions:) and she hit me in the face with this - "We are no longer eating meat or dairy."

What?! What are you eating then? (I knew she was staying away from sugar and limiting carbs) What else is there?

So we chatted about that, she gave me some recipes, but several of the recipes she had that I wanted were in the book she kept referring to, Eat to Live. For whatever reason, and I'm not sure what it was honestly, I ordered the book when I got home. I really was skeptical.

I'm not now. I think the guy makes a profoundly convincing case for needing to have the vast majority of our diets be made up of, in this order, green leafy veggies, other green veggies, colorful non-starch veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, with a smaller amount of starchy veggies, and almost no animal products. For weight, for heart, for disease fighting, it all seems pretty clear.

So I am experimenting. I'm not following his advice and cutting out all salt, though I think I'm using less of it. But I'm eating weird stuff. My breakfast was a smoothie made of a half bag of spinach, a banana, a cup of frozen blueberries, a cup of other frozen fruit, a half cup almond milk, a half cup pomegranate juice, a beet and a tablespoon of ground flax.

For supper last night I actually ate a salad without meat or cheese. It was ok. I'm learning. Some of the things I make are duds. I made a veggie soup and had to add quinoa and tortellini to make it worth eating. I did a veggie chili (beans and bell peppers) and had to add seasoning I don't normally think of as chili seasoning (cloves??). But I'm doing ok.

My treats are things I find on www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com - especially the no sugar cookie dough dip. I don't add the chocolate chips, but it's good anyway. To me.

I am trying to feed my kids healthier too - and that's harder. I'm trying to keep a veggie tray stocked and on the counter right before meals, when they're all starting to nibble on each other. I am trying to do more whole grain things, bread, pancakes, waffles, breakfast breads. We're only doing cereal once or twice a week. I am actually making breakfast most days. And I'm talking to them about eating more veggies, and why.

We have a ridiculously long way to go. And I am certainly at the beginning. But I'm excited about this for the following reasons. #1 I am not hungry. #2 Pretty much everything I am eating is good for me. #3 I think I am doing what my body needs and eventually what my kids' bodies need.

I will keep you posted. Unless I completely fall off the wagon. Then I probably won't mention it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


But I'm not. I'm not a slacker. I'm working hard. Honest. I'm nursing a baby right now. I cut hair, I helped make bread, took down Christmas decorations.

Well, I'm writing now. I'm trying to get inspired. I think the hubby and I and some great friends are going to try to go on a cruise next summer for our anniversary. 20 years. And I am researching that some.

I'm trying to get motivated for the next leg of my fitness journey. It's hard. Especially on hard days. I'm pretty sure the thinner I get the nastier I'll look. An old wrinkled nasty bag of skin. The saggy, baggy elephant. Not looking forward to living life in too-big skin.

And hard days are, well, hard. Comfort food is comforting. And time. There simply isn't enough time.

My dad always says you will make time for what matters the most to you. And that is true. But for me, that means neglecting something else I should be doing. For example, there is a pile of clothes in my laundry room that always accumulates of garments that don't fit anyone who lives here right now but that are perfectly good and will, within a few hours, fit someone just fine. They need to be put away. And even though I have an ideal storage system, it still has to actually be done.

Cloth diapers have to be washed and stuffed. People insist on eating every day and that means dishes have to be washed.

And I'm doing this crazy thing of trying to cook more of the foods that fill people up and cost less and are, you know, healthier. Do you know how much more time it takes to make real oatmeal (doesn't come in envelopes) than letting people get their own cereal??

Today I tried an experiment - and those only work about 30% of the time, but I was desperate) - and made breakfast burritos. Doesn't sound that scary, but I decided to make some filler, since we didn't have 3 dozen eggs. I cooked up some potatoes and onion. I thought it was too delicious (scrapping my plan to have an egg day and drop a little of my bloat) and ate 2, but half my clan took one bite and decided to fast.

Sometimes trying at all is the most overwhelming part. And even though I suspect I will at some point put on my A-game and give it my best, count the dumb calories and the stupid carbs and drink the horribly cold January water and run on the stinking treadmill, right now I just want to sit down with a steamer and play solitaire.

Ok. I am a slacker. Or a slacker wannabe.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Wasting time

Today my husband is taking our 7 oldest children to see The Hobbit. They are hugely excited. I am also excited to see it, but that will have to wait until a day I am willing to leave the baby - I don't want him to have a bottle every day, and he had one yesterday (oops). So I'll go sometime. But they're all there, and I am here. I am here with the 6 youngest. 6 under 7.

Now the mountain of laundry is still there, there are dishes waiting to be unloaded and others waiting to be loaded. We cleaned and then messed up again the kitchen table. And I got 2 babies down for naps and thought, is it possible that I might get something done?

Well it all depends. Because Daughter Number Four had the Wee Sing Christmas Songbook in hand. We sang Jingle Bells, all three verses, several times. We sang through the Little Drummer Boy numerous times. Then we just started at the front and worked our way through, singing all the verses listed for each song.

Not too long after that, the baby woke up, and the window of possible efficiency closed again.

Did I get laundry done? The dishes? No. But we sang with gusto, we sang with passion, and my younger children now know how "Must Be Santa" goes. I'm calling that time well spent.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Starting Over

Part of why we make and need New Year's Resolutions is because we have behaved so poorly and been so irresponsible and negligent in honor of Jesus' birthday, because that is how we show we love Him, that it is going to take some serious resolve just to begin life again as we knew it before the hurricane known as The Holidays struck.

I need a fresh start. I know, most of you fresh started on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Me, I'm procrastinating. My brother, niece and nephew fly home tomorrow. Then I've got about 36 hours to pull it together, make a plan, and gear up before the First Real Monday of 2013 launches.

Monday morning, school resumes. Monday morning Eldest Daughter and I will start a new fitness journal/plan together. Monday is the beginning of the week in which all the activities and classes that paused for The Holidays unpause. Monday, Monday, can't love that day.

Frankly, I'm nervous. But ready. One cannot live in holiday mode forever. My children's brains are melting. My pants are getting tight again. The laundry mountain is growing (no one has been doing chores around here, and there has been travel, and cleaning, both of which produce more laundry, somehow) and someone, Someone, I say, someone is going to have to undertake to climb it. That Someone is likely to be me. We could lose a child in there, I tell you.

We are not in as bad of shape on dishes, in part because, well, we have to eat. And, for one of my first amazing and super acts of the new year, I bought more spoons (**applause**). But my refrigerator is a collection of various shapes and sizes of storage containers filled with generations of food-that-once-was-but-is-now-growing-whoknowswhat. And my countertop has 15 empty stockings and 15 almost empty holiday tins from Grandma, containing only candy no one really wanted, necco wafers and such, all taking up space we normally reserve for whatever objects we take away from the toddlers.

Anyway (or any-who, depending on where you're from), I'm just grateful for this whole fresh start New Year's Resolution thing, to give us a pass for whatever lies behind and an official encouragement to look to what lies ahead and press on toward the mark of the high calling of what we were supposed to be doing before we got so distracted celebrating.

Ready, set, go.

(I'm not really ready yet, but, like I told you, I'm starting Monday.)