being 37 wks pregnant has left me a few things…irritable, sore, impatient & unwilling to stand on my feet for hours in the kitchen. thanks to the last 2 endearing characteristics, i have become quite the short-cutter in the cooking/baking dept. a friend turned me on to the cheap betty crocker bag cookie mixes a few months ago. life-saver when i feel like ransacking the neighborhood to squelch my chocolate attacks – kind of how i felt about 30 mins ago. then i remember the walnut chocolate chip cookie mix in the pantry…hello betty!
trouble w/me though is i can’t follow box recipes. something in me refuses. ridiculous habit i know & sometimes i ruin things for it, but not today. i did what i always do – i stared at the picture on the front for a minute, flipped and read the instructions/ingredients…then comes the weirdo in me…i read ALL the fine print & any recipes included at the bottom for inspirations or ideas as to how best sabotage the easy-to-follow steps above.
i try to steer clear of butter – ava’s dairy problems leads to butter rationing & elimination from most recipes – so i consider my alternatives there first. last time (w/the oatmeal choc chip) i stuck w/good ole applesauce, but they made the cookies more like an oatmeal bake – too healthy for the kind of day i’m having. so, i spotted the veg oil substitution – 1/4 c oil, 1 egg & 1 tbsp of water. a-ha! there it was! anytime anything calls for water i revolt. depending on the recipe, i use coffee, juice – anything but water. why not take the opportunity to add a little zing or extra flavor to something?
so my brain starts piecing it all together & i’m reminded of an amazing greek choc chip cookie i had years ago that had the slightest hint of lemon & cinnamon. it’s seriously to the day the best choc chip cookie i’ve ever eaten & have failed to replicate.
this awesome cookie led to this…1 bag of walnut chocolate chip cookie mix from miss betty, 1 egg, 1 tsp of vanilla (i always add vanilla to everything – why not?!), 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsbp of ORANGE JUICE, hello!, & finally, that sinister tbsp of oil.
i slabbed it all in a square non-stick brownie pan & baked it @350 for 15 minutes & it didn’t last 10 seconds out of the oven before i devoured a chunk of it. soooo good. you’ve got to try it. i could taste the hint of citrus & cinnamon. the greek grandma who made my complimentary cookie still takes the cake, but this will do!
yes…yes, this was the size of the piece i ate just now…don’t judge! 🙂
any other short cuts you love? i’d love to hear about them!
as you’ve probably read from time to time already…i have three children. i have been blessed with ava bean, the joy of my life, my isla rae, who is coming soon, soon, soon, & my “heaven baby,” baby “ej.” we lost baby “ej” in august of last year, & based upon some recent events in some very sweet friends’ lives, i think it’s time to open my box & let you in on my experience & what i believe God has tried to show me through our tragedy…hopefully, it will help someone.
i remember the morning i discovered i was pregnant again very clearly. i took the test; it was positive; i was shocked – panicked really. ava was only 7 mos old at the time & money’s always tight, you know. we were just getting our bearings it seemed. i wasn’t quite sure how the hubby would react. so i did what any chicken-livered preggo would do & i put a big bow on the test & left it next to the coffee pot (it was very early). then i sat & waited… “shut up! shut up! seriously?!” was the response that came shortly after. imagine my hubby sounding like a high school valley girl – ha! w/out the high-pitched tone of course. he was also shocked, but totally calm & happy, not the reaction i was expecting, but all was well w/the world.
fast forward almost 2 mos. everything goes downhill… it was a friday. we see the baby’s heart beat via early ultrasound. (having nursed, my body never regained “normalcy,” so we weren’t sure just how far along things were…) 6 weeks. heart beating fast & steady. baby fluttering around like a little mexican jumping bean w/limbs. beautiful. life. six quick days later…it’s thursday…the beginning of the end. i’ll never forget lying in the er ultrasound room, the tech doing her thing, & hubby standing behind her. his face was all i watched. he stood stiff, staring at the monitor (which i couldn’t see), hand on his mouth in serious concentration, never shifting. he looked at me once. his expression didn’t change. i knew what he was telling me before she did. no heart beat. i still wonder sometimes what he saw while he stared. he just said it didn’t look the same. six days was actually one day. our baby died just one day after we watched him/her bounce around like the happiest little being on the planet. no reason. no explanation. just over. when she left us in the room alone to have a minute, a sound came from my being that i never even imagine existed. i wailed. from the innermost parts of my heart i wailed. it’s a horrible sound.
they wanted me to have a d&c the very next morning, but i refused, b/c honestly i still hadn’t accepted it yet. i was scared, in denial, numb…all kinds of things. i wanted to do things privately, alone w/my unborn child & husband. i bought myself until monday morning. 9pm sunday night, it happened…labor. i know this, b/c i labored once already. contractions & all. it hit hard & there i was alone w/my husband, my body trying to expel our child while our little girl slept in the next room. by midnight it was over. that was hell. i still had to have the procedure for reasons i won’t go into, but i share this b/c i didn’t realize that you actually give birth. yes, i knew it would be painful. yes, i figured it wouldn’t be easy, but labor? then it hit me that so many women have to experience this form of labor as their first time. i had been blessed w/a previous healthy pregnancy & a labor that was hard, but followed by such joy it was worth it. but this? this was labor w/out victory. this was pain w/out the blessing. this was just cruel.
over the course of the days & weeks to come, my husband & i came to a place of closeness through this experience that i believe would not have been attained otherwise. i have come to learn that tragedy can either destroy you or make you stronger. i chose to use the brokenness & adversity to make me stronger & to help me cling harder to God.
i never blamed God for this. i know God is love & all things pure & just & good. a loving God does not kill a baby. we are fallen. we are flawed. we are imperfect. we have an enemy. our enemy comes to steal, kill & destroy. these are the reasons why i lost our baby. i knew this, but i still needed help w/the emotions. you love your baby before you ever know them – this is true. i loved that baby from the second that line turned pink. we had baby books already started, ultrasound pics on the fridge & smattered on facebook. this baby was already expected & plans were being made daily in preparation for our expanding family. we even had names. so, i needed help letting go of those thoughts & emotions in a healthy way… i was led to a book called “I’ll Hold You in Heaven” by jack hayford. i had been searching & searching for someone to speak some wisdom & comfort into my soul again in a way that i could receive it, & this book did just that. it ministered to me. the Holy Spirit ministered to my heart through it. if you’re looking for a short book to help spark a miracle in your heart, please invest in this one. it will help.
mr. hayford confirmed for me through the Word that my baby is in heaven. my baby is real, fully formed, healthy & very much alive. upon my arrival in heaven, my child will know me & i him/her, as if not a single moment of life was missed between us. that’s the miracle of heaven. “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. now I know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i am fully known.” ~1 corinthians 13:12. i got the response a lot, “there must have been something wrong with the baby,” & “this is God’s/nature’s way of taking care of things…” well, first of all, please stay away from saying those things to a woman experiencing the loss of a child. i know those comments come w/pure intentions, but the best response is often a genuine hug & an “i’m sorry you had to experience this.” at least it was for me. second, it doesn’t matter if something was wrong, b/c my baby is perfect now. God’s blueprint for my child has been executed & my baby is just as God intended him/her to be…perfection. (psalm 139) my body may have failed us both, but it’s just a body. it’s going to fail. all the more reason to depend on God & long for heaven.
not only did baby “ej” bring my marriage healing in a very real way, but he/she also opened the door for me to talk to so many women & friends who had endured this kind of experience as well. there are so many of us. not just speaking of miscarriages now, but the loss of a child. the loss of a miracle. the loss of “what should have been.” there are so, so many of us. while i wanted to clam up & deny my thoughts & pains some days, there was some serious therapy taking place when i connected w/other friends who knew what i was going through. there is a time & place for every discussion & discernement & wisdom need to lead the way, but trust me, it may do your heart good to open up & talk about what you’re going through.
i know i’ve written a novel here & blogs are meant to be succinct, but i’ll finish w/just a couple things i believe God has spoken to my heart regarding this ordeal…
1 – your child is in fact a real, living person…still…right now. it’s ok to grieve them. it’s ok to miss them. it’s ok to acknowledge their existence. currently, i have an earth baby, a womb baby & a heaven baby. period. weird? that’s ok. while mourning the loss of my baby, i got the idea to create a box for him/her. i went to michael’s, bought a little wooden box w/a glass top, painted it, decorated it & filled it w/all of the momentos i had gathered during the pregnancy…even the hospital bracelets. these are the baby’s things. they are meaningful, & this way, they can remain w/me in honor of the life that was created in love & the little person we will meet one day. i won’t get the opportunity to pour myself into “ej’s” life, but this was a something of “ej’s” i could pour myself into on his/her behalf instead.
2 – i could be a mom of 2 right now, but i am blessed to be a mom to 3 babies. i haven’t lost a child; i’ve gained a child. isla would not even exist at this moment if circumstances had been different. God has a purpose for isla on this earth. for a long time, i was emotionally hardened in this pregnancy. hemorrhaging twice, pains, sickness…i was anticipating another defeat, but she’s still here kicking & bouncing around in this very pregnant belly. she’s an additional life that would not have been. God is good & kind & He has brought restoration to this faltering body through her. i am that much more thankful for my children thanks to ej.
3 – the name. “ej.” for those of you that know me, you may know how intense i get about names. i would’ve fit right in w/those old testament parents in name-giving business… i struggled a lot w/this baby’s lack of name. i didn’t even know the sex. i asked my husband repeatedly, “what will we do w/the next baby? how can we reuse name choices?” it just didn’t feel right to me. God knew. i believe He speaks to me in my dreams from time to time…probably b/c my mind & mouth are never quiet enough at the same time to hear Him elsewhere…but weeks after & still struggling w/this issue, i dreamt of a little girl, & in the dream He gave me a name that starts w/j. it is a name that i think is beautiful, but it never crossed our minds when trying to think of names. this name was new & i believe from God. i woke up & told my hubby about this dream. he then blurted out a boy’s name that began w/the letter e. it was like lightening struck. why? the original names we had picked out also started w/the letters e & j. the only difference was they were switched. the girl’s was an e & the boy’s was a j. God had taken the burden away & given our child a name – “ej.” doesn’t matter if we have a son or daughter – ej suits each. finally, peace. point to that story? take it to God in prayer. whatever it is you are struggling w/He wants to help. He wants to lift the burden off of you & restore peace to your heart & mind. i still have rough days & moments, but He sees me through…
well, i’m not a writer, so forgive my long story, but it’s my testimony to God’s love & faithfulness. hope deferred does make the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. He is able to fulfill our longings & He really can turn sorrow into joy, despair into faith. He’s the best shoulder to cry on & if you need an extra shoulder, there are so many of us who know just what you’re going through. don’t be afraid to be transparent sometimes…
“…when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than i. for you have been a shelter for me, & a strong tower from the enemy.” ~psalm 61
follow-up post can be found here
so it’s been a little while…haven’t really been up to blogging lately. so much going on in my life at the moment, i think i’m just overwhelmed & uninspired. hope it’s temporary.
one thing i did want to share though is some slight progress in isla’s room…
my mom gifted us her old buffet. it was in need of some tlc. since i’m preggo of course, hubby sanded it down, painted it this charcoal gray & added new hardware. it’s absolutely perfect for housing linens & the top drawer has been designated isla’s shoe drawer for the time-being.
i love the turnout. i may switch out the hardware though. not completely digging the brightness. any suggestions?
here are a few before pics…
unbeknownst to me my husband had downloaded this sermon on april 3rd…directly correlates to what i posted yesterday…he knew what i needed to hear before i did…thank you.
“christians are NOT supposed to be mean, angry people…”
“forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you’ve got someone to forgive…” – c.s. lewis
“love like you’ve never been hurt…” – leroy robert “satchel” paige
ephesians chapter 4
ephesians 4:31 get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. but if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
luke chapter 6
but to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. if someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. if someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. do to others as you would like them to do to you.
if you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? even sinners love those who love them! and if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? even sinners do that much! and if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
love your enemies! Do good to them. lend to them without expecting to be repaid. then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. you must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
do not judge others, and you will not be judged. do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. forgive others, and you will be forgiven. give, and you will receive. your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. the amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
so i’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about apologies… i’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate, considering nearly all of us have been wronged or have wronged someone else at least a few times in our lives thus far. first of all though, i need to say – don’t read too into this & convince yourself i’m talking about you! i’m talking about life in general & myself included on this issue. furthermore, when i talk about offenses – i mean of ALL kinds. small remarks that manage to cut you to the core w/out it even being someone’s intention to total rifts in relationships that stem from heavy-duty issues…the whole spectrum…
sometimes i still feel i am “owed” apologies & some i’ve received have seemed far less than genuine. discernment tells me so! right? 🙂 so, thinking about that got me thinking about that “owed” stuff… are we really owed any apologies? well, i sure feel like it… especially when you see the person & it’s like nothing ever happened on their end, but your left with these thorns in your side & every time you see them or think about it, it’s like that sting returns. you know what i mean? how can some people just go about their lives like any pain they caused you is just no biggie? everything gets swept under the rug…
well, then i think about offenses, which leads to thinking about forgiveness, which leads straight to thinking about Jesus. then i’m hit full-circle w/that issue of entitlement. do you think b/c i still feel i’m “owed” that apology or that the one i received should have been more genuine or earnest, that’s an indicator that i truly don’t forgive them? i say i do. most of the time i seem to think i do. but do i? what if Jesus held me to that same standard…
colossians 3:13 “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” making allowances – that’s where i’m seriously falling short. make room for people to let you down. tolerance. acceptance. not lower standards…just a mature understanding that people are going to hurt you. i think of Jesus loving peter & judas…loving all people…knowing ahead of time the rejection, the letdowns, the betrayals… i’d love to be more like that.
ok – so here’s a gross analogy, so don’t read on if you’re grossed out by the whole birthing process…actually, if you are not female – just stop here period.
ok – so i asked the doc at my last appt if i’d have to have another episiotomy w/this baby. her response was that even if the baby didn’t require me to have one (supposedly i’m carrying a petite girl b/c we’re a couple wks under in measurements), i’d prob still get one b/c “the scarring is less forgiving.” pretty interesting statement. the scarring is less forgiving. it is tough. it’s less flexible. it’s a scar….damaged skin…a mark left forever…the replacement of “normal” tissue. after doing a little reading about scars i found these simple & common-sense comments much more meaningful… “nearly every wound results in some degree of scarring.” “it’s a natural part of the healing process.”
see the correlation? i feel God gives us reflections of our spirit man in our physical man in many cases so that we can better understand ourselves & His ways. a scar is less forgiving… chew on that one for a minute.
anyway, so that’s what i’ll be praying more about this week & doing some in depth reading of what He has to say about the way i’ve been feeling. i know w/my head what it is i need to feel, but i need some more scriptures & prayer to speak to my heart. after all, as it clearly states in proverbs 4:23 “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” everything flows from it…thoughts, speech, actions, motives…everything. so i need true forgiveness in my heart to forget about offenses – really, truly forget them. the way God forgives & forgets mine…
so i briefly caught a blurp on the today show this morning. they were talking about facebooking, blogging, tweeting…all that good stuff… the topic was moms who blog/post about their pregnancies. these women posted you tube videos of themselves finding out they were pregnant. anyway, one view of course from the moms was that they were doing it out of pride & excitement. basically, they wanted to share their good news & didn’t care how public it was. another brought up the point that they wanted their child to be able to see one day how excited they were for his/her coming arrival & existence. all good points in my opinion. but “the expert” got me thinking too…she stated that we as a society are all about instant gratification, so by posting these details of our lives, be it videos, updates, etc., we aim to receive that instantaneous “like” & congrats. it’s all about the feelings. we want others to share our good news & happy times & congratulate us, because it brings us all those happy feelings. instant gratification. what do you think? made me question my motives a bit. i’m thinking it’s a little of all the above…
btw – a happy “birthday” to my sweet Heaven Baby today. wanted to post a little something about miscarriage & some things i feel God has shown me throughout my experience & the experiences of some of my friends, but not really up for typing it all right now. soon maybe…
this is the “Daily Blessing” i received today in my email. it pretty much says what i was trying to illustrate w/my last blog on peace. mr. stanley says it much better, so i’d like to share. hope you get something from it. i have.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. – Psalm 25:8-9
Are you living thoughtfully and intentionally—or automatically? It’s so easy to get up each morning, do our work, enjoy some relaxation or entertainment, and fall into bed each night without giving any thought to God’s involvement in our lives. But to be ignorant of how He has blessed, guided, protected, and warned us is a foolish way to live. Just consider the benefits of keeping our spiritual eyes and ears open throughout the day.
Those who are aware of the Lord’s presence during their daily activities enjoy the peace of knowing that He is always in control and working to accomplish His good purposes. Every day’s experiences with Him teach them to know and love Him more.
When we learn to see God’s footprints in our days, we will become aware of the scope of His involvement in our lives. Maybe He strengthened you for a task or opened a door of opportunity. Perhaps He guided your decisions or helped you respond in a godly way to a difficult person.
If our ears are open to the Lord’s warnings and instructions, we won’t repeat the same mistakes again and again. But those who are deaf to His voice will continue in unhealthy thought patterns, negative emotions, and foolish responses.
Each night before you go to sleep, take some time to reflect on the day’s activities. The Lord is constantly with you, guarding and guiding your way. He wants you to see Him in everything and understand life from His perspective as you rely on His wisdom and power to face any challenge.
so , i’ll let you in on a little secret…for nearly 4 months i had been a law-breaking citizen! eek! yep, for 4 whole months… i realized around january that my car inspection had expired in november! not good. so, i did what any christian lady would go & do…i got home from running errands in my illegal car & hollered at my husband! debate ensued…”where are the registration cards?! where is my insurance card?! this one isn’t current! you handle the mail! no, you didn’t give it to me!” get the picture?
well, we figured we’d just keep breaking the law until my registration was up as well, since that card was mia…& so for 3 whole months i drove around feeling like a fugitive. every single day i’d think through the scenarios of being pulled over. what do i say? i don’t want to lie! but it’s totally unacceptable to knowingly drive around for 3 additional months in an “illegal” car! shame on me! i’d pray & sweat every time i passed a cop car. please don’t pull me over, please don’t pull me over…whew! the next trip…repeat. it was AGONIZING to drive! i know some of you may think this is just dorky, but it’s true. i hated driving b/c i felt so uneasy all the time. i didn’t realize it though until this past weekend when we finally got those shiny new inspection stickers… i drove off that parking lot w/pride in those stickers! haha those little pieces of paper carried so much meaning…so much PEACE. finally, i was following the rules again & it brought me so much peace. that’s when it hit me – this is a lot like living w/out Jesus…
when we live w/out Jesus as our Lord, we’re often living our lives breaking the rules & there’s no peace in a life like that. i’m not just talking about the “major” ones – the commandments & so forth, but also the “rules” we often overlook. do i gossip? do i bend the truth? do i curse my enemies rather than bless them? do i retaliate for wrongs & offenses – even in passive agressive ways? do i really seek God’s path for my day & my choices or do i follow my own plans?
i’m reminded of this scripture in proverbs 6…”there are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
all of those things we may or may not do throughout our daily living & they have a direct connection to the amount of peace we experience as we go about our day. some things may seem worse than others, but they’re all wrong in God’s book, so i really need to try harder to live righteously, pleasing Him w/my life in every thought, word & deed.
anyway – random thoughts as usual, but that’s me. Jesus, please let me hear your voice, so that i may follow your ways. let your thoughts be my thoughts & your ways be my ways, so that i may truly live experiencing your peace. i ask these things in your name, amen.
here is a scripture regarding peace i thought i’d share…
John 14:7 “peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
this one doesn’t really relate to my story, but it’s beautiful, powerful & life-changing…
Isaiah 53:5 “but he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” thank you, Jesus.
so i guess i’m in a blogging kind of mood today. ava needs to get up from her nap & hubby’s in the garage & dinner has 20 mins left in the oven, so maybe i’m just feeling talkative, lonely & bored! 🙂
you know how people say the things that drive you nuts about the person you love are usually the same things you love about them? i know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now that i’ve typed it probably, but some of you may know what i’m talking about. well, i think the same goes for life & in tonight’s case – preparing dinner. sometimes i look at the pantry & fridge & just get so frustrated i could throw a can of petite diced tomatoes at the wall – we always seem to have a can of those around for some reason… coming up with dinners either frustrates me to no end, or, like in tonight’s case, brings me so much pleasure. i guess it depends on how much energy i have or how creative i feel like being. like tonight…my sister-in-law gave me this great recipe for chicken pot pie a while ago, but i didn’t have all the ingredients. some nights that would bug me, but tonight, after some major improvisions (like veg broth in lieu of chicken, a bag of random mixed veggies, a ton of potatoes & some interesting combo of spices like sage & paprika to name a few) i must say i’m pretty pleased. oh – also i had 2 pie shells, so i just let them thaw & flipped the one over the other like a lid. worked out perfectly. hopefully the fam enjoys it too. ava gets the non-dairy version of course…
so here it is – the final product…ever wanna talk food, i’m always interested!