this is the one where I talk about my butt.  

For all the lamenting, belly aching, and general stink I’ve put up about being pregnant on this blog, one would think that a fourth pregnancy would be ripe for the blog topic picking.  It ain’t.  It’s been a lot of things, but it hasn’t made me want to put my experience down into words until now.

Why now? 

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It’s my hump.

This pregnancy finally put a name to my hobbling Quasimodo walk, or as I also called it, my newborn baby deer walk.  Turns out I had inflamed sacroiliac joints!  

Friends, can I tell you the remedy for this malady?  Can you handle it?  It is a butt massage.  A massage where a strange person is in full view of your large (and I can only assume gelatinous) pregnant butt and also butt accoutrement- like- ya butt crack.  I personally try to keep the number of people viewing my buttcrack down to Nick, but at this point in my pregnancy it’s down to – 


I feel like I need to clarify because I just threw down that a strange person was massaging my dereraire and that’s hella shady.  This “stranger” is of course a licensed  physical therapist.  And they’re also a miracle worker because with kinesthtic tape and the directions to never pick anything up again including my own children, and to not push a stroller or walk up hills, my hips are feeling great!  Of course, I need help picking Owen up from school, grocery shopping, going to any store, and wrestling Henry out of the tub.  

This hump situation has led to a great need for humility in asking for help and an extremely greatful heart to those who happily help me every day.  I don’t like asking for help.  

1 Thessalonians says: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

I am thankful when I see God’s provision for me, I am humbled by His providing.  I have felt the prayers of my friends and family.  I have eaten the meals of many and I have fought the guilt that Satan tempts me to feel when others come alongside me to help.  And I even made several jokes about my butt online for my children to discover in 10 years and be immediately struck with mortification when they read them.  

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2016.  

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1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Sent a kid off to Kindergarten.  This really causes you to turn an editing eye on your parenting like when you’re laying in bed reflecting on your day and you think, “I really hope Owen doesn’t talk about his nipples at school tomorrow.”
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
 

Here it is- and I quote:

“Next year I would like to cut down on my sugar intake, because my teeth are turning into jellybeans.”
Spoiler alert:  I didn’t cut down on my sugar.  In fact, if an autopsy is ever made of my body it will beg internists to ask the question- Is this a human body or just a giant gummy bear?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 

Some of my close girlfriends had babies and I lurve it.  Welcome to the club.  The club where you don’t know words anymore because ya tired.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 

Feeling pretty torn up about Alan Thicke. (I’m not)

5. What countries did you visit? 

NorCal.  California.  Monterey.  It feels like a different country.  You’re not allowed to have plastic bags here.  If you forget your reusable tote they’ll charge you monies for a paper bag.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? 

Oh wow.  I mean, if my butt were toned I’d feel like I could do anything!  The world would be my oyster!

So the answer is “toned butt.”

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I can’t remember dates.  My kids are lucky if I remember their birthdays correctly.  “You were born…. mid to late June-ish?”

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
 

Caravaning across the country with all of our children and both our cars in 7 days.  Nick and I only flipped each other off once, and that’s the Grace of God showing up big time.

9. What was your biggest failure? 

Consulted Nick- He thinks all the times I tried to feed our family borderline raw proteins.  But, if it looks cooked on the outside, how is a person supposed to know?!

*Currently Googling ‘Worst Cook in America’ applications*

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

I threw up for 3 months.  Now I have my back taped with PT tape so I can walk because before I was not really able to.  I sort of hobble around like an Igor in maternity tights.

The Lord keeps showing up in my weakness- and showing me how tied up in my own strength I am.

11. What was the best thing you bought this year?  

I want to say the maternity pillow that I found for 2 bucks at a bargain fair.  Yolo!

12. Where did most of your money go? 

Coffee, groceries, children’s clothing.  I kept listing hoping that the list would become less boring, but I guess this is who I am now.

13. What did you get really excited about?

This year, the answer is Jesus.

14. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Ragga bomb- Skrillex

Nick listens to this while he studies and I literally can’t even.  Because you think you know someone and then- Skrillex.

Also-

Africa- Toto

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder?

More content.

– thinner or fatter?

I moved to California- so you’ll never know.  How could you?  I’ll give you a hint though- I failed my gestational diabetes test.

– richer or poorer? samesies
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I had done a YouTube challenge.  Off the top of my head I wish I had dabbed or water bottled or been filmed when I fell in the parking lot at Giant last winter and had that go viral.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? 

Evicerate couples on House Hunters with my quick wit.  Sure, the amount of times she’s mentioned her gluten intolerance is ripe for mockery, but she’s a people too.  #compassion

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Here in Monterey with Nick’s mom and our lil goon squad.  Here was our picture with Santa.


19. What was your favorite TV program?

-American Housewife

– The Crown

– Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

– Game of Thrones (Jon Snow LIVES)

– of course New Girl, Brooklyn 99, and strangely, Bob’s Burgers

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

– Extravagant Grace By Barbara Duguid

-Parenting by Paul David Tripp

-The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

– The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedmen

– This is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Sovereign Grace errything.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

The Lobster

Zoolander 2.  (This is not farcical.  I really thought it was hilarious)

Zootopia.  Good on so many levels.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

(Read as Stefan from SNL)

I nerded out so hard.  Nifflers.  Ariana Dumbledore.  Hufflepuff.  Gellert Grindelwald. A DEMIGUISE?  Erumpent horns.

I caught myself dreamily clutching my hands to my chest thinking the thought “This is SO magical!” Which is something few things can do.  Usually I just think- this movie can eat my farts!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I got Mexican with my family and you could see otters gamboling around the bay.  Oh, and I’m 31.  And pregnant.  With my fourth baby. So you can imagine what kind of wild party that was.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurabley more satisfying?

Do you ever just feel like you want to do Dubsmashes with your friends but your friends live on the opposite coast as you?

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? 


26. What kept you sane? 

I hate being serious- but deleting a lot of apps off of my phone and replacing them with the Bible app.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016? 

The thought “I’m probably not ovulating” is reckless and 100% wrong.

28. Your guilty pleasure?  

Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars.

29. Song lyric that sums up the year:

 


This is how I told Nick I was pregnant.  ( I know it looks like there is one line, but trust.  There are two.)

Why Maisy is wonderful. 


Maisy Jo is a wonderful enigma.  She is a tiny wispy thing with a will of iron.  I have never felt more confident in the name I picked for a child than her- for there is no one who is more “Maisy Jo” than Maisy Jo.


Maisy Jo- what a time to be alive!! Why?  Because you love unicorns and unicorn merch is reaching a fever pitch.  Why is this so wonderful?  Only because you pronounce unicorn as “municorn” which is a mutated form of Maisy-corn.  Maisy knows the difference between horses, zebras, Pegasus, unicorns, and ponies.

Maisy has a wonderful and passionate love for her brothers.  She strives to imitate Owen, but belly laughs with her BFF, Henry Benry(as she calls him).

Maisy jo has never not answered “candy” when asked what she wants for breakfast.

Maisy’s favorite color is pink- and Maisy is committed to choosing a pink crayon/ marker/ pencil for every craft project she must tackle.  She’ll go with purple in a real pinch, but It’s not great.  Just like every time she’s not wearing a dress it’s an uneasy compromise.

Oh.  And Maisy gallops.  Everywhere.

Pizzeria- gallops.

Park- gallops.

Children’s church- gallops.

You see where I’m going.

Maisy is also very into Skrillex.  Or any pop music for that matter.  Owen told me it’s his dream to be in the marching band, but Maisy?  I doubt she’d be caught dead there.  She’ll be starting some sort of cover band in her room.


And that is precisely why Maisy Jo is so wonderful.  

jesus and kaley, bff’s 4ever.

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I’m going to tell you a great little anecdote about the time Jesus and I went to get matching best friend tattoos.  (Okay.  That’s not true.  But He did tell me once that my name was graven on His hands so…..)

You might wonder how Jesus and I have gotten to the point in our friendship where we would consider getting matching tattoos.  I’ll tell you.  Early on, Jesus and I were more loosely acquainted.  I trusted Him and took His advice on a lot of moral issues.  I didn’t want to let Him in on too much of what was going on in my personal life.  It’s just that He was so holy, and I was so… not- despite attempts to remedy my condition.  I kind of thought he’d be mad at me.  Then I began hearing about grace.  One of the first pivotal breakthroughs in our relationship came after I read the book “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller.  Consider the following excerpt:

“In bringing your real self to Jesus, you give him the opportunity to work on the real you, and you will slowly change.  The kingdom will come.  You’ll end up less selfish.

The Kingdom comes when Jesus becomes king of your life.  But it has to be your life.  You can’t create a kingdom that doesn’t exist, where you try to be better than you are.  Jesus calls that hypocrisy- putting on a mask to cover the real you.  Ironically, many attempts to teach people to pray encourage the creation of a split personality.  You’re taught to ‘do it right.’  Instead of the real messy you meeting God, you try to recreate yourself by becoming spiritual.”

You see the real relationship change started when I realized that I could come and talk to Jesus, just as I was.  Like the famous hymn says, “Come ye weary, heavy-laden, Lost and ruined by the fall.  If you tarry till your better, you will never come at all.”  But let’s not just rely on the words of learned theological book writers.  I like when I see biblical hard hitters keeping it real.  It comforts me to see a great cloud of witnesses immortalized in the holy scripture who ride on the struggle bus and have glaring personality flaws.

Look at Jonah.  Jonah was called to preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah- the sworn enemies of Isreal.  He didn’t want to.  He fled across the sea.  And God followed him.  After a short stint inside the belly of a large fish Jonah repents and goes to Ninevah.  But hear what he has to say after his message of repentance is received and the people of Ninevah DO repent.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”      Jonah 3:10-4:4

It was all good when God was offering compassion to Jonah, but when He gave it to his enemies, this Jonah did not like.  It made him so mad that he asked God to kill him.  Jonah was so wrapped up in his rightness that death felt better than believing that God had a better angle.  So God smote him right then and there right?  Clearly Jonah was blaspheming away.  No.  The story of Jonah is a story of mercy.  God wanted to share His heart with Jonah and would not relent until Jonah saw that God was compassionate.  I hope that the story of Jonah draws you in and shows you that even in your sin, God is working to draw us closer to Him, to reveal His glory in us.  That our God is for us, and not against us.  To the ones who belong to Him, He doesn’t throw in the towel.  He pursues us.  We are safe to throw all of our feelings onto Him.  To pray prayers of anger, to admit our sins.  Phillip Yancey says in his book “Disappointment With God”:

One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God.  Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment- he can absorb them all.  As often as not, spiritual giants of the bible are shown contending with God.  They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out.  In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology;  you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them.  God can deal with every human response save one.  he cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively; an attempt to ignore him or treat him as though he does not exist.  That response never once occurred to Job.

Job is another person who chose to engage with God rather than to shut down.  He threw at God all of his questions, his doubts.  God answered Job in a whirlwind and Job came away with a deepened respect, an awe for the Lord.  When we choose to tango with God, He reveals to us His character and we come away closer to Him.

I don’t know if you picked up on this vibe at all through my more recent blogs, but I really didn’t want to move to California.  I prayed that God would let me stay in Virginia.  A snafu in Nick’s orders was a direct message that He could keep me in Norfolk, but that we were being called to California.  I praised God for about a minute and a half until I moved here, got unexpectedly pregnant with my fourth baby and very shortly after, started experiencing debilitating morning sickness.  One day I lost it.  Crying in my bedroom I told him “I’m SO MAD that you made me come to California!  I hate it here.  I don’t know why you did this to me.  It sucks.”  That same day I was invited to attend a bible study.  He heard my cry and I, well, got all kinds of veh-clempt as I listened to the words of this song:

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.

God’s mercy is humbling.  But it’s also humbling when it comes in the form of discipline.  I would never have thought that I would be thankful that the Lord brought me into circumstances where I would lose a cherished friendship or experience loneliness or endure the physical weakness that this pregnancy has bourn.  These circumstances revealed sin in my life, sin I would have never seen if I hadn’t opened all of myself to Jesus.  Jerry Bridges says in his book “Respectable Sins” (by the way- read this.)

Remember also that our God is a forgiving God.  Even our anger toward Him, which I consider a grievous sin, was paid for by Christ in His death on the cross.  So if you have anger in your heart toward God, I invite you- no, I urge you- to come to Him in repentance and experience the cleansing power of the Christ’s blood, shed on the cross for you.

Confidently I can confide in Jesus.  Why?  I rest in Jesus, His perfect record imputed to me.  What love that a just God would plan to include us in His kingdom, we a sinful people, can draw near to him by faith and repentance.  We can’t forget that while His grace saved us from our former lives, it still works to change our hearts now.  Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, the ones who know their need of Him.

This hymn basically is saying everything I said here.  Plus, apparently, Cracker Barrel produced a worship album, so that’s worth noting.

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not forfeit, everything to God in prayer.”

*PS You can’t even know how many times my pregnant brain typed “Johan” instead of Jonah.  So I’m sorry for any typos that didn’t make it through the stern and persistent cloud of pregnancy fog over my brain.

 

 

Why owen is wonderful. 

Well, when reflecting on all of the wonderful things that Owen does and is, the first that comes to mind is that he can buckle his own seat belt.  Every time he does it- everytime- I feel the warm hearth glow of my happiness well up inside of my body and splash out onto my face.

Owen is wonderful because he is so willing and eager to help.  To throw some trash out or grab a diaper, or to put his dishes away.

Owen doesn’t walk.  Owen floats or hops or toe taps or spins.

Owen was born with the glorious self assurance that we all long for. When he picks out his outfit he loves it.  When he sings a song he does it with gusto!  When he imitates a dub stepping teenager on YouTube he might as well yell- Nailed it!! 

Owen also loves his best friend, his stuffed lion Mufasa.  Everyday Owen faithfully packs lion in his backpack to bring to school.  

Owen is sweet and weird and lanky and cuddly and his favorite song is the alphabet song.  

For all those reasons and more- Owen is wonderful.  

are there rodeo clowns in heaven?

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Have you ever felt like a square peg in a round hole?  Paul writes in Galations that  “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”  Here Paul is stating that justification is through faith and that we cannot earn our righteousness by following the law.  But what if I don’t look righteous?  When I google righteous this is what comes up, which feels weird:

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When I imagine a righteous person I like to think that they are meek, gentle, slow to speak, that they comport themselves with a general dignity befitting such a holy person.  They would not, for example, tell a long anecdote about Michelle Duggar’s knees at Bible Study. What might they do instead?  I would expect them to share some piece of knowledge gleaned from an obscure minor prophet that I didn’t even realize was a book of the Bible.

This is the delusion I fight against almost all the time.  That righteous people have one foot inside a monastery and no feet in the “being ridiculous” arena.  But the truth is that when I professed my faith in Christ that His righteousness became my own.  And that His sacrifice covers all my sins past, present, and future. I need to trust that the Holy Spirit will lead my heart in sanctification and repentance.  One could be surprised to know that I spend a good amount of time each week reading the word and assorted theological books.

It’s not that much but for having three children proportionately it is a decent amount of time.  But when I open my mouth to speak, nothing eloquent comes out.  This is where I recall that Moses had a debilitating stutter and God appointed his brother Aaron to publicly speak for him.  Maybe Siri could be my Aaron.  I have not a debilitating speech impediment to get around, but debilitating awkwardness.  Excuse me, I digress.  1 Corinthians says:

“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

And this is where I wonder to myself, at the feast of heaven, will there be a rodeo clown?  Does Jesus need a body part akin to a humorous gag wig?  He made me and he loves me.  He loved Nathaniel and called him right after Nathaniel threw some major shade at Jesus under a fig tree.

Maybe there will be jokes in heaven.  Everyone really loves laughing.  I will remind myself that God’s creation is diverse and wonderful and that he loves monastery people just as much as he loves people who are quirky and awkward.

PS  This is a ringing endorsement for the book “This is Awkward” by Sammy Rhodes.  It’s like if I wrote a book, but a lot better.

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i’m a grown up and i ain’t afraid of no ghost.

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October and I have a tenuous relationship.  Because October is AUTUMN and pumpkins and scarves. But October is also ghoulish Halloween decorations and horror movie trailers on television.  Anne (of Green Gables and later of the House of Dreams) would have been appalled, no matter how much she loved October.  In retrospect this might not be true, because remember how much she hung out in that graveyard in college?

“I don’t know that a graveyard is a very good place to go to get cheered up, but it seems the only get-at-able place where there are trees, and trees I must have. I’ll sit on one of those old slabs and shut my eyes and imagine I’m in the Avonlea woods.”

Anne, that’s creepy.  But I was telling you about October!  In October, my children scare me at night.  My husband is forever jumping out at me from behind doorways and darkened rooms.  Every time I scream.  For every time I don’t, I at least drop a profanity and try to punch him (in self defense).  The rambling point I am making here is that I am easily spooked.  So when I’m on red october alert for goblins- my kids stalking me at night gets scary.

I get scared when Owen stands by my bed, his face inches from mine, and wakes me from a dead sleep.  “AHHH!” I yell.  “What do you need???”  And he replies “I had a bad dream” and I think to myself,  probably your mom screaming in your face didn’t help you to be less scared huh?

I mean, look at these pumpkin faces Owen created.  They are SO FRIENDLY.  Owen comes by his fear honestly.  And I like that he’s into happy pumpkin faces.

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But mostly I get scared of Maisy Jo, for just like her father she is light on her feet and appears silently.  The pale features that make her such a stand out during the day make her appear to be a straight up ghoul at night.  The wispy blonde hair, the large eyes, the skin so alabaster it has an other worldly glow.  Like, I get it.  You have to pee.  But it’s 2 am and could you just rustle your pj’s a lil and give a person a heads up?

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SpOOOOOoooOoooky!

So October- you can take your scary movies, your giant cackling skeletons, and your haunted houses and you can just keep them ok?  Come trick or treat at my scare free house.  I have a “Give Thanks” sign and just so many mini pumpkins.

Now enjoy this scene from New Girl of Nick Miller in a haunted house, who is me and who I think is all of us: