Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rest, Heaviness and Grace

i'm still in recovery mode from last week's birthday party planning
there was a lot of staying up and prep work leading up to it 
but it was so worth it to see the looks on those girlies faces,
to hear their squeals of delight and laughter ringing through the house
to share those moments with loving friends and family... :)

but i've definitely been trying to keep it low key since then
just until i catch up on some sleep (fully catching up will have to wait till the kids move out!)
also because we've got family flying in this week and i want to be rested up for them
i haven't even looked through pictures from the birthday party yet...that's really saying something!

for me, this is what "low key" has looked like:
spending time with the girlies and their daddy,
a laid back afternoon with our best friends,
time alone; often in a dark/quiet room - sounds weird, but it's actually really soothing
(a BIG thank you to my loving husband for occupying the kids so that i can have said time alone)

one of the things i like to do when i'm on my own is mindlessly flip through my instagram feed
which is how i ran into this post a earlier this week and then this one a couple days after that
warning:  you'll likely cry...her mama's battling cancer and it's not looking so hopeful right now

i don't even know kristen 
(we have a lot of mutual friends and aquaintances, which is how i found her feed)
but my heart just aches for her and her family
and i'm inspired by her strength and her faith.
i've been thinking of and praying for them lots over the past couple of days
(if you think of it, i'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers too!)
as i read kristen's updates, i am amazed by grace i see through the heaviness
here's an excerpt from her most recent blog post:

Our home is a sacred, weighty, alive place right now.  It's holy ground, filled with the tears of grown men and little children.  We're in the parking lot of heaven, preparing to drop off our dear mother.  We're able to see some of it's light from here.  We wish we could see it all.  We wish she wasn't going without us.  We wish that maybe this is a dream and we'll wake up to her making coffee in the kitchen. However, the rays from Home are warm sun to our hearts.  We're not ready to lose her, but we're ready for her to dance on the clouds, run to her mother who she has deeply missed for over a decade now, and join her voice in the triumphant choir to the Father King.  Thank you for every single word or thought of care for us.  Every single "Dear Jesus." Every single offer to help.  Every single communication.  Every drop of love.  We're swimming in a deep, beautiful sea.  And our mama is sailing to the shore.

only through Jesus can a situation like this produce joy
and as hard as it is to read those words (infinitely harder, i'm sure, to write them)
there is hope
there is hope and grace in Jesus Christ

thank you, kristen, for sharing your journey with us
thank you Jesus, our ultimate comforter, for grace and redemption
for taking our heaviness and giving us garments of praise instead
for your goodness and your sovereignty
thank you for searching us and knowing us 
and sending your Spirit to help each of us grasp all the good things you have prepared for us, 
as well as the things that break our hearts

But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? 
So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


dear babies / birthday girls,

today you turned two.  where has all the time gone?  how on earth has it only been two years?  i know, i know - those two questions don't make much sense back to back, but it's how i feel...i'm pretty sure it's how every mother feels.  and although i've had two years to wrap my brain around it, i still can't believe i have twins...two beautiful little people, each with her own personality and quirks and likes and dislikes, etc who were once in my womb. unbelievable...truly miraculous.

two is an age i think i'm really going to enjoy with you.  we already have the best conversations ever.  we have inside jokes and make up our own little games.  you help me cook by measuring ingredients and stirring.  you invite me to impromptu tea/dance parties.  we make huge messes then we pick them up...sometimes.  we practice new words and phrases all the time.  (case in point:  you learned how to say "happy birthday" yesterday just so you could repeat the words to teta ["grandma" in arabic] when she got home from work.  there's so much learning going on, in a super fun way, of course.

you love animals, but especially horses, birds and dogs.  we "bird watch" from the window every morning and talk about how each bird walks across the lawn, what kinds of things he might be eating and where he's flying off to next.  you also love pretending to cook and then eating and sharing all your yummy creations.  speaking of cooking and yummy creations, your favorite foods right now are apples, cheese sandwiches, rice, eggs, pizza, green smoothies and avocados - you really are a blend of daddy and me.  oh, and let's not forget your love of jewelry, purses and shoes.  i always say you're two-going-on-twenty, it's true.  you're funny and confident and have the most infectious smiles.  please don't ever change, baby girls.

but more than all of those things put together, you love spending time with daddy.  (i don't blame you, he's a loveable guy  ;) )  you three could come up with crazy games and chase each other around all day long.  you could also snuggle all day long.  and i melt into a puddle every.single.time you do it.  i melt when it hits me that you three, my three favorite people in the whole wide world are mine.  

girlies, when they told me i was having twins, when i first laid eyes on four little feet kicking around on that ultrasound screen, i literally pinched myself.  and i continue to pinch myself every day - how did i end up so blessed?  we really are blessed to have each other.  and it's not a coincidence.  God planned it that way.  because we all need each other, in order to become who He has intended for us to be and do good works that He has prepared in advance for us to do, all for His glory.  how cool is that?  

anyway, i know i asked you not to change earlier, but don't lose sleep over it - i know you will, you do it every single day.  and that's ok.  i'll just focus on savoring each moment we get together.  girlies, your first two years were full of so much awesomeness, and i'm looking forward to what the coming year holds for you.  daddy and i love you so very much and pray for you all the time.  happy birthday, baby girls.  

your mama  

p.s. we had an awesome day together today.  you picked fried eggs and cheerios with craisins for breakfast then we got all gussied up to go for a walk (i was so happy the weather held out, it's rained every day for the past week or so, but today was nice and dry and you were thrilled to be outside for some of it).  next came naptime and after that we visited with friends and family for a while.  just before daddy came home from work, we ran out to the back yard to catch the last few rays of sunshine, play, and snap a few pictures of my two big girls.  when daddy got home, we skyped with grandma and grandpa then did dinner and measured each of your heights (on the big rulers daddy made for you) before beginning our bedtime routine.  it was great to celebrate you in the little things today...and you're going to flip when you see all the fun things we've got planned for your birthday party on saturday - bananas in pyjamas themed, because you wouldn't have it any other way!  :)  i can hardly wait.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

fact: peppermint hot chocolate makes being sick better

it's cold season x2 around here
as in, it's cold outside + it seems like everyone is catching a cold
and our family is no exception, unfortunately

we've been fighting a nasty cold for just over a week now
i keep thinking that we've got to be near the end of it, 
and yet, it lingers

the girlies are too young for cold meds
and i can't have them, since i'm still nursing the kiddos
(random nursing tip:  meds that dry up runny noses also dry up your milk supply!)
...yep, we're that strange family

anyway, one thing that has helped, 
is my homemade version of a peppermint hot chocolate
it's easy to make, very lightly sweetened and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand
because, let's be honest, nobody with a cold wants to get out of their bathrobe,
let alone their house 
just to pick up random ingredients

all you need is:
* 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
* hot water
* 1 peppermint tea bag
* maple syrup, to taste (i probably used 1/2 a tsp or so - the peppermint helps sweeten it up naturally)
* unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice), optional  

- place the cocoa powder in your favorite mug
- add a tiny bit of water and stir to make a paste and stir until smooth 
(this is the trick to getting non-clumpy homemade hot chocolate, by the way!)
- once smooth, add the rest of your hot water then steep the teabag in your cocoa-water
- add maple syrup, to taste
- top with some almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer) if you'd like a creamier hot cocoa
(i added a small splash)
- drink up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

hello, 2014!

well, it's the first monday of 2014
2014 !!!
is it just me, or does it feel like that whole Y2K fiasco was just yesterday?
and yet, here we are, 14 new years later...
the holidays are behind us, kids are back in school and we're all officially back to "real life"

but before jump into the new year, lets talk about the holidays
ours were wonderful
i got to experience my second Christmas as a parent,
which, let me tell you, is so much more exciting than Christmas before kids! 
our girlies were totally spoiled, and we felt incredibly blessed

then came new years
we spent ours with our best friends
we had a lovely evening including cheese fondue + lots of laughter
and as if that wasn't refreshing enough,
the kiddos actually went to sleep without too much fussing (miracle of miracles!),
which allowed us to have some much needed adult-time
...not that we did anything crazy, but sometimes it's nice to give someone my undivided attention, you know?

speaking of new years, this is the time of year to make new years resolutions!
...except, i've never been too keen on them
i know, lame
what i have done the past couple years
is identify a theme for my spiritual / prayer life
it's not something that i actually ever planned on doing
it just sort of...happened

2012 was a tough year for me
i was a first-time mother of twins who weren't too keen on sleeping
and had a pretty rough bout of post partum depression
we had to move unexpectedly in the first few months of the girlies' lives
i was unable to maintain basic things like friendships, a healthy diet or anything regular, really
my life had suddenly shifted from one that was independent and in control
to a totally chaotic life that had me leaning on others for just about everything
it was an exhausting, difficult and humbling year,
which actually lead me to more time reading my Bible and praying that probably ever before
and through it all, there was a clear theme that the Lord kept pressing on my heart:
turn your eyes upon Jesus
and so i did,
and every time i was discouraged or having a hard time, i would repeat those words to myself,
refocus on Jesus,
and trade my sorrows and heaviness
for peace, joy and intense gratitude for the work the Lord was doing in my life and in my heart
i began to realize just how blessed i am

2013 was much less intense, thankfully
but it was still insanely busy and stressful
i started a business
i continued this crazy journey called parenting
i returned to many pre-baby tasks that had been on hold
(simple things, like making dinner and regular cleaning...i wasn't kidding when i said 2012 left me dependant on everyone around me - thankfully, i have loving family and friends who graciously served me)
i worked through some personal struggles
i made a point to reach out to and connect with other new mothers / homemakers
(for a while there, the girlies and i were out for around three "dates" per week!)
i spent a chunk of time in prayer and discussion with Daniel about deciding to undergo a big job-change
i spent at least one day a week with an extra toddler in tow

...needless to say, my plate was very full
making sure i was regularly reading my Bible and spending time with the Lord became difficult
but the times that i did, i often felt the Lord direct me to Matthew 6, verse 33:
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you."
so, my theme for 2013 became that verse
i found it especially helpful when i felt overwhelmed by all the "busy" around me
it was almost like a reset button that helped me refocus on what was truly important

it's early yet in 2014, but i've already noticed a prominent theme in my prayer life for the year:

trust in the Lord

we're not even a week into 2014,
and i've already repeated those words to myself countless times

 we've got some big decisions ahead of us this year
plus the little decisions we make in everyday life
and i want to train my heart to put it all in the Lord's hands
instead of letting my thoughts lead me to a place of anxiety,
which is not only miserable, but also fruitless

so far, it has been incredibly rewarding
to be intentional about practically applying these verses to my life
and enjoy the Lord's peace more fully than i ever have before
i can honestly say, i am so looking forward to trusting Him more this year

now it's your turn to talk!
how are you approaching the year ahead?
did you make any resolutions?
how about resolutions that apply specifically to your spiritual life?

feel free to join the conversation in the comments,
i'd love to hear from you!
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