Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Promise Keeper

Have you ever had someone make you a promise and then not follow through?

I admit I've made lots of promises and not followed through with them. Some were inconsequential and probably didn't harm anyone, but I know some have caused people a lot of pain. For example I remember forgetting to return a phone call from a friend (who I had promised "I'll call you back soon!")... only to weeks later find out she had been walking through a dark season and had been incredibly hurt that I hadn't reached out to her like I said I would.

In the midst of a world full of broken promises, there is a truth that never ceases to amaze me - that when God makes a promise he always, completely, and perfectly follows through with that promise. And to make it even more incredible He gave us an entire book full of His promises.

Why on earth would the Creator of the universe promise us anything? He doesn't owe us that. We certainly don't deserve it from Him. But somehow it glorifies Him to lavish love upon us and to draw us into right relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ.

There have been many situations in my life where God's promises have brought me comfort, have redirected my waywardness, or have reminded me of truth I'd forgotten. But it is through my three pregnancies that God's promises have been spoken into the deepest reaches of my heart - securing me in situations where I would have easily been swept away in fear, doubt, despair and grief.

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My first pregnancy was with Rufflebum. Everything was going along great until our 20 week appointment. Mr. San Antonio and I were excited for the ultrasound that would count fingers and toes and would expose the gender of our first born! After the ultrasound I told him to go ahead and return to work - I would just be a few extra minutes with my doctor and then I'd go back to work too.

The "quick" meeting with the doctor ended up very long... as she sat me down to explain that the ultrasound revealed some problems. Our baby had (what appeared to be) calcification in her abdomen. My doctor had never seen it before, was quite concerned and called a specialist right away. 


For the remainder of the pregnancy we saw a specialist almost every week. Over time they finally determined that the mass we were seeing was scar tissue on her intestine where there had been a hole or a rupture that had been healed. But they were very concerned about potential genetic disorders that had caused the hole and were worried about her irregular heart beat. They weren't sure if she would be born with an obstruction of her intestine or if she'd need surgery on her heart... there were a lot of unknowns, a lot of doctors, and a lot of fear for the safety of our child.

(I only got to hold her less than a minute before she was taken for tests)

Early in this process I cried out to God and asked for a scripture - a promise - that I could cling to for the duration of the pregnancy. Immediately Jeremiah 1:9 was laid on my heart, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be terrified and do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

God wasn't promising that everything would turn out ok. But He was promising to be with me through the process and He was calling me to be brave and to not lose heart.

He also reminded me that he had healed sweet Rufflebum's intestine (hence the scar tissue we saw in the ultrasound) BEFORE we even knew there was a problem. We hadn't even had time to pray for healing - God knew her, he was knitting her together, and he fixed something before the best doctors in town could even detect that there was a problem.

He continued to knit her together and when she was born they determined that her intestine was fine and that the hole in her heart is too small to cause her any issues.

(She is almost two in these photos)

Our second pregnancy was similar. At our 12 week appointment the ultrasound found significant fluid surrounding Burrow's spine especially around her neck. Again we were sent to specialists and in her case were given even more serious news. The amount of fluid was a high indicator of having one of several genetic conditions - all with serious health complications and some with very high probabilities of death before birth.

(Burrow at birth)

Again we went home with heavy hearts prone toward fear and despair. Once again I cried out to God for a promise. A couple nights later I woke up at 4am crying. The words "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear" came to my mind. I was not familiar with those words and had no idea where they were in the Bible, but I felt peace and fell back to sleep. In the morning I looked them up and sure enough it is a promise in the Bible found in Isaiah 65:24.

(Burrow a couple weeks old)

I clung to that verse for the next several weeks as we waited for test results and asked close friends and family to pray for a miracle. About a month later all the tests came back normal and the fluid had disappeared. Once again God had gone before us. He kept his promise - working to answer our prayers before we had even uttered them.

(Rufflebum kissing Burrow)

So that brings me to pregnancy three. The first couple of months everything was going well. Our first ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and my all day morning sickness was a great sign. Then one day I started getting very anxious. I began to fear going through another stressful pregnancy... and doubted if I could handle the emotions of that again. I asked God to give me a verse - a promise - that I could cling to for this pregnancy. I expected another encouraging verse about how everything was going to be ok. But instead this is the verse I was given: Psalm 86:13 "For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol."

This is a verse where David was crying out to God and thanking God for saving him from despair. And in that moment God told me - I would experience a lot of hard emotions, but he will not leave me there.

Because of Jesus I can't be left there.

Jesus took on all our sin, all our brokenness, all our sadness, and all our despair when he died on the cross for us. But the story doesn't end with his death - He rose again. He returned from the depths of Sheol (hell). And because Jesus returned from the depths, we also have already been delivered from those depths. Not - we will be delivered, or we may be delivered - but we have already been delivered (past tense!).

It was two weeks later that we found out we had lost the baby.

And this past month has been full of a lot of hard emotions - exactly as God told me there would be. But in them all I have his promise. He has delivered me from the depths - for great is his steadfast love toward me. These emotions are real, they are hard, but I know I won't be here forever. I can have hope and joy (partially in the present - and fully in the future when Christ returns) even in sadness and grief.

If you've never looked at God's promises for you, I encourage you to do so. Start with the book of John. And just ask God to speak to you. He will - He's made that promise:

-Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
-John 1:12 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Lots of love,
The Pampered Bird

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tis The Season...

For lights, and Christmas trees, and warm clothes, and gingerbread houses, and too much sugar and too much excitement....!!!!
 
The day after Thanksgiving Mr. SA got all our lights up outside. The girls loved "helping" him. Which mostly meant they yelled at each other, climbed up the ladder when we weren't looking, and demanded more snacks. 
 

 
That night we made plans to go to a Christmas event with friends. It was soooo humid that day and was predicted to rain, but I thought we could still enjoy the outdoor event and that surely it wouldn't rain too hard...
 
Well we ended up looking like crazy people sprinting through a downpour with two double strollers, only one umbrella, one person in shorts, another in flip flops... and the temperature dropped 20 degrees while we were there! The event ended up being cancelled - and we holed up in a gas station restaurant eating bbq and letting the kids run off some energy.
 
The next day - was soooo cold and wet but we always get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving so we bundled everyone up and braved the weather.

 
Here is our picture from last year - we were wearing shorts!
 

Burrow was not interested in posing in front of the measuring stick this year...

 
Here's the same photo from last year!
 
 
We came home and got the inside of the house decorated. It was cold enough for a fire which was so much fun!
 
The girls looked at Christmas books in front of the fire. It was so peaceful... until I pulled out their toy nativity... which they fought over very loudly! 

 
This time of year is so fun because everywhere you go is decorated for the season! Grandmommy joined us at the botanical gardens one afternoon to see all the winter flowers.

 
And another day I took the girls to the zoo for a bit to see some of the decorations there (and the new giraffes!)

 
Another night we surprised the girls - after bath time and getting into jammies we put them in the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights. All that driving makes one hungry so Mr. SA suggested we stop for ice cream. :) 

 
Mimi and Yaya brought over a gingerbread house kit one morning. Rufflebum was very serious about her decorating and wanted to do as much as she could all by herself.


 
Yaya kept Burrow occupied so she would stop climbing on the table and shoving handfuls of gumdrops into her mouth.



 
And now having looked through all these pictures it appears we accomplished every possible Christmas activity in one weeks time! Ha! I guess we need to space things out a bit better these next few weeks. :)
 
I hope you're having fun making memories this season too!
The Pampered Bird

Friday, December 4, 2015

Life Lately

Today I just have some pictures of our life lately...
 
The weather has been perfect so the girls and I have spent a lot of time outside. Mr. San Antonio got me a hammock last mother's day and it instantly became a family favorite.
 

The cooler weather also makes we want to bake - like all the time! I've jumped back into making sandwich bread, rolls, muffins, pizza dough, etc. The girls are asking for cinnamon rolls so pretty soon I'm going to need to make that happen too. Rufflebum really likes helping me. She especially likes kneading the dough. :)

 
This picture makes my heart so happy. One night we had four little girls at our house - think jammies, sleeping bags, blankets, dolls, giggles, snuggles... it was the absolute best!  
 
Mr. San Antonio has been smoking meat lately (he smoked our turkey for Thanksgiving!) - and since I've been taking a boot camp class and have gotten so strong (ha!) he knew I was the right person to load up the minivan with wood. ;)  
 
Mr. SA got to perform with a band at a legal conference in town a couple weeks ago. (Sounds totally nerdy right!?!) The conference is very strict on who can attend the events, but I got to walk up and say, "I'm with the band" and got full access! Haha!
 
Of course he did an awesome job - and it was a rare moment for me to get to see him play guitar in front of people other than our girls!  
 
Here they are back in the hammock... yes Rufflebum is wearing the same shirt as above. That's because if the shirt is clean she changes into it every.single.day at home after her rest time.



I love this picture of the girls. Rufflebum is telling me a story. Burrow is trying to climb up the way she saw her sister climb a few minutes before. You can't see it in the picture but the right side of Burrow's face is covered in scrapes and bruises because that girl falls, tumbles, trips, and rolls all the time as she tries to keep up with Rufflebum.

 
Next time I'll post pictures of our Christmas decorations!
 
Have a great weekend!
 
The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Recommendation

Hello! So I found this post in my "draft" section the other day and realized I had never clicked "post"... whoops. I wrote it at the end of summer... and it is a book recommendation and my thoughts on it - so here you go!

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Wow - I think this past summer was my favorite summer ever. We did a lot of really fun things, but the theme that God kept showing me was "rest". And I truly embraced that this summer in a way I haven't in a long time. It meant restructuring my days, it meant simplifying, and it meant accomplishing my "to-do list" in creative ways so that I could actually be still for part of the day. And oh was it so worth it. The best thing is that a lot of those patterns have rolled over into this fall season! Yay for naps and time to read and opportunities to just sit and enjoy my girls!

(Rufflebum is "reading" to Burrow... girl has memorized most of her books so she actually "reads" it accurately... ha!)

(If you think only boys wrestle.... please come to my house.... especially around 5:00pm when the wrestling matches start up every day)

Alright - so last post I mentioned that I had read a book that has been very thought provoking and that I would highly recommend any American or Western Christian to read. I say American/Western Christian because the questions the author poses are about Christian living, and regard some of the habits and customs that Westerners take for granted.

The book was written several years ago and it's called "7-an experimental mutiny against excess", by Jen Hatmaker. (link takes you to Amazon)

Basically she goes on an unconventional fast - choosing seven areas of her life to simplify and spending about a month on each area. The book is her edited journal that she kept during the process. She shares candidly what it is like to only eat 7 foods for a month, only wear 7 articles of clothing for a month, only purchase things from 7 places for a month, etc. Her fast is a simplifying of life - creating awareness of things she takes for granted and assumes are necessary or even beneficial.

Mr. San Antonio was asking me about my thoughts on the book and I rambled on and on, and then he summarized what I was saying with this:

"So... the overarching question posed by the book is 'just because we can do something, should we do that something?"

And that is the book in a nut shell. Just because I can buy that 10th pair of jeans, or watch this show, or buy the bigger house, or eat this food, or say "yes" to that 15th activity.... should I make that choice? How do these seemingly harmless choices really impact those around me, and those far away from me? Where is my heart on these issues? How much of my time, energy, thoughts, words, actions revolve around ME? What does Jesus really mean when he says, "love your neighbor as yourself"?

For full disclosure - there were parts of the book that felt a little "preachy" or "political" to me - and I skimmed/skipped those parts. She quotes a lot of outside sources that she was researching and processing but I wasn't interested in checking her sources so I just stuck to her personal experiences with her journey and focused on the meta-questions the book posed, rather than the nitty-gritty details that some of her research dealt with. If you read the book hopefully that will make sense.

Another thing I appreciated about the book was that even though at times it felt "preachy"... she is very honest and realistic in her final conclusions. She doesn't end up selling everything she has and living in a tent in the backyard. She simply starts asking questions that she never bothered asking before.

By simplifying, she creates space in her heart and mind to let Jesus speak truths to her. The book is very convicting... and eye opening... and thought provoking. I'm not going to give you all my personal take-aways from it, because I think the book will resonate with each person in different ways. Just know that it is worth reading.

And be ready at the end to be uncomfortable with your comfortable life.

That's all I have for today. Thanks as always for reading! And if you pick up the book I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!
The Pampered Bird

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fall Review - Post 3 - On joy and thankfulness

Hello! Welcome to "The Pampered Bird"!
 
Today's post is my final "fall review". To start here are a few pictures of the girls being themselves... goofy(!!!): 
Making "silly faces"...

And rolling around in their princess tent.
 
As I was looking through my fall pictures I found several of Burrow being Burrow... cuddling, patting, and enjoying being very very very close to people...

I'm pretty sure I took this picture after Mr. San Antonio successfully removed a sleeping Burrow from the car and she was very happy to keep sleeping on daddy!

Rufflebum has her arm around Burrow - love them!!!

Patting while watching a show.

Morning sister snuggles. 

And afternoon sister snuggles. So much love these girls have for each other. Don't get me wrong they hit and fight and yell at each other too - but mostly they are kind and compassionate and loving toward each other - I just pray that continues for the rest of their lives!
 
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Most of our fall was really wonderful. We made lots of memories and played outside as much as we could. But I am not one to pretend that our life is perfect. And I have always intended for this little blog to be an honest glimpse into our family. So I would be remiss if I skipped over the hard stuff and just jumped right into picturesque photos of our family cutting down our Christmas tree and transitioning into the holiday season.
 
In the midst of all the memory making we did this fall, there was one week in early November that was really hard. At 13 weeks we learned we had miscarried. And then, in the midst of trying to process that, and grieve, and heal physically - both of the girls got really sick (think high fevers, head to toe rashes, ear infections, no one was sleeping, coughing fits, etc.).
 
We. Were. A. Mess.
 
 We were at our limit physically and emotionally that week. But even in the midst of a difficult time there were still so many things to be thankful for and to celebrate.
 
Like the friends who immediately stepped in to bring us food and sent flowers and cards and cookies.
 
Like the people who stopped by just to give us a hug.
 
Like the simple "I'm so sorry" texts and emails.
 
Like the family who sat with us, cried with us, and were simply present.
 
Like the conversations we got to have with Rufflebum (who was devastated at the loss and was full of hard questions about death, and heaven and why God hadn't answered our prayers to keep our baby safe). 
 
Like a Grandmommy who read and read and read as many books as two sick little girls wanted...
 
And an Auntie who buys out the craft section so she can be hostess/auntie/sister extraordinaire - distracting two sick girls and their parents who didn't have the energy to distract them by ourselves. 


I am so thankful for my sister and her husband who welcomed us into their home at a time when we really had nothing to give to them. That is true service and love, they expected nothing from us - they just gave and gave and gave.
 
We were loved and served and cared for so deeply by friends and family that week. I am so thankful that God met us right where we were and showed us grace and mercy and infinite kindness in the middle of sorrow and sickness and exhaustion.
 
And then, that week, in the midst of grief, I got to witness the joy and beauty and hope of my godson's baptism:


Isn't he adorable?!?
 
This fall was beautiful, and messy. It was difficult, but not without purpose. It saw laughter and tears. It was full of the richness of God's presence - and the gift of joy in the midst of heartache. This fall was another season in the story of our family, and I can honestly say I am thankful.
 
The Pampered Bird

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fall Review - Post 2

We helped host my nephew while my brother and sister in law went on an anniversary trip - and we had a blast! Rufflebum and Burrow love their cousins (they have three boy cousins!) and any time they get to play with them they are on cloud nine!
 
We started by meeting up with Jack and my parents at the Pearl to see the ducks, eat breakfast and get wiggles out! 
Um... note about the man in the middle... he's really wonderful. The season we're going through right now has been proving again and again what a treasure he is to me and our girls.

There was a lot of hand holding during the visit.

We took Jack to the botanical gardens to see the pumpkins! Rufflebum led the way through the paths as we searched for all the scarecrows on the list!

This picture. I love it. It's got chubby toddler legs and sweet little boy hands and big girl hairdos that she personally requested.

We also took him to kiddie park! It has airplanes and cars and boats and horses and all sorts of wonderful things for the kids to ride on!

I promise she had more fun than this!

The bun! I love that she makes hair requests every day. I'm currently perfecting the French braid on her fine, shoulder length hair... some days are better than others!

One of our favorite fall traditions is to go to Love Creek Orchard where they have a petting zoo, live music, hay rides, pumpkin painting and more!
 
Here are Mimi and Yaya with their three grandbabies!

This beautiful girl is growing up so much. She is definitely a leader. She knows her mind and articulates her thoughts, feelings, and wishes. She asks deep questions and really thinks about things. She loves imaginative play. She wants to be a princess when she grows up and also a mommy - in both cases she wants to wear purple glitter boots. She loves to serve others and tells the best stories.
 
 
Not our best family photo - but I'll take any picture with all four of us in the same shot! I am so so so thankful for my little family!

And this girl... she is a lover. Physical touch is still her love language - she gives the best hugs, pats, and kisses. She is compassionate and empathetic - she gets sad when she sees someone cry and will try to console them with a hug or a gift. She has an infectious laugh. She is brave and loves to do whatever big sister is doing. Her current game is to peek out at you from behind something and say "I see you!" 

Here they are at Halloween. Rufflebum tried desperately to put Burrow in a princess costume but Burrow would have none of it. I tricked her into wearing a ballerina outfit. But truthfully she would have been adorable wearing a brown bag.

My heart. I am so thankful that God knitted these two babies together and that I get to be their mom. And to be that man's wife is a true gift. Love them.
 
Alright, enough gushing! -The Pampered Bird


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