Be still and Hold on, friends

Be still

🌟 When the world feels too heavy and impossible, there is One who knows our burdens and wants to bear them.

🌟 When our daughter died at 18 weeks gestation, so much changed about our family. We were now a family with a daughter and sibling in heaven. We were faced with many awkward questions about how many kids we have and how it feels to only have one girl. (We are blessed with one living daughter and 4 living sons) Jokes about being outnumbered and feeling sorry for our living daughter for being the only girl. It goes on and on.

🌟But, the one constant was and is Jesus. Were we angry with the Lord? Yes. Did we question Him? Yes. Where was He when He was supposed to be “knitting Mary-Linda together” in her mother’s womb? We serve a Big God and He can not only handle our anger, questions and pain, but He wants to bear it for us.

🌟Remember that today and always. When things seem dark, know that the light is near. Hold tight. You are loved.

What a day. What a month. What a year!

It’s only February of 2021 and it’s already been a doozy.

But, who can keep track at this point? In the latest crazy events, we got snow, sleet, ice and deep freeze temps across Texas that lasted for a few days. That, in and of itself was unusual as it occurred across ALL of TEXAS. It was very cold here on Monday, February 15 and while we were experiencing record breaking low temps across Texas approximately 60percent of us were without power. No electricity. No heat. A lot of our friends and family were without power the entire first day. We lost power in the evening around 5pm and were powerless for the following 39 hours. Around 7pm that first night, we also lost water. Not water pressure, but more like someone turned off the water for our entire block and much of the city at the same time. Yesterday morning, power was restored for 6 hours and then off again for 8.

So, here’s a few things we did and what we are continuing to do to try to weather this very strange time and storm. Please comment with somethings that you forgot or that you did that helped you weather this storm!

No water. No heat. No electricity. No problem.

  • Check and replace batteries. Charge everything while you can. Use your laptop or car to charge your cell phone. (Don’t run your vehicle inside your garage for risk of carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Keep bottled water, beverages and snacks handy
  • Love coffee? Have coffee grounds set aside, if you don’t have a hand-grinder. Make French press coffee. It’s better anyway!
  • Have physical copies of your favorite inspirational books to read. My current faves: the Bible, Scripture and the Skeptic by Eric Huffman and Night Night, Little One by Stacey Donovan. When the internet is down, what will you consume?
  • Play family games that you create yourself!
    • We play a game where everyone thinks of 3-5 celebrities, historic figures or famous characters and writes them down on small pieces of paper
    • we split into two teams. Momma and Dad are team captains and we rotate Els on our teams
    • Each team gets one minute to try to get their teammates to guess as many celebrities as possible
    • Round 1: you can say anything (except for the name) and make any motions
    • Round 2: you can say one word and make any motions
    • Round 3: you can’t make any sounds. You can make any motions
    • Remember momma keeps score in her head and it’s always a tie
  • Finally, blankets and cuddles are required to keep warm and cozy

Hope you are all safe and able to get any damage repaired soon. We had one pipe burst in our garage and are working to have that repaired now, so we can take showers! Cleaning with baby wipes is just not acceptable for 3 days straight! Also, I won’t even begin to share about how bonded we are as a family, because of our new knowledge of everyone’s bathroom schedule and potty habits. The things you learn and go through when you don’t have running water!

Cuddles with baby Jimmie, 20 months old
Enjoying day one, before the electricity and water were no more

THE BEST HUMMUS EVER! El Momma’s Classic Lebanese hummus recipe

El Momma’s Best Hummus Ever

Traditional Lebanese Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (save the juice from the can for later)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • [1] tsp salt 
  • [1/2] cup fresh lemon juice
  • [1/2] tsp Citric acid (optional)
  • [1] cup tahini paste
  • 4 TB. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Rinse, drain and remove some of the skins of the chickpeas by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. See video here for how to reduce your amount of chickpea skin in a couple of easy steps!

In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, blend chickpeas, garlic, salt, lemon juice, (and optional citric acid), tahini and extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes or until smooth. 

If not creamy enough, you can add some of the reserved juice from the chick pea can. Blend for 1 minute or until creamy and well combined.

I know how annoying it can be, when you just want a recipe and the blogger goes on and on….so, I was super nice and gave you the recipe at the top.

Now, for the video…..where I talk a lot. And, Baby Jimmie screams.

Easy Steps : How To Make the Best Hummus Ever!

Celebrating my sister in heaven

On Wednesday night we celebrated my older sister’s 51st birthday. It was her first birthday since she went to heaven. My momma, brother, and all of our families gathered in the front yard and had a “socially distanced” gathering with 🎈,🍕 and 🎂 as we talked about our Melinda. It’s really hard to lose a sibling. We talked about this with our families that night. Your sister/ whom you’ve known and loved your entire life. Your family. Your first best friend. Your biggest fan. Your everything. Your comedic relief. Your demanding sidekick. Your love.  It’s hard. We know she’s happy and she’s with so many loved ones. I never met another soul who would tell you they wanted to go to heaven more than Melinda. She had some of her favorite people go before her. I sometimes wonder about the effects of losing my dad 11 months before she died. They were so close. And her grief was deep. It took her a long time to admit that my dad had gone to heaven. But, she finally did and I know she wanted to go and be with him. On Valentine’s Day, after having a stroke, Melinda went to heaven 💗💗 she was literally surrounded by some of the people on earth that she loved most 💗💗 And, she went to be with Jesus. It was Incredibly peaceful. We know know know that she is in a better place. BUT, it sure is hard to be without her here.

Baby Jimmie Josiah

A story of our rainbow baby’s birth in 2019

*warning*this post does discuss loss and contains photos of birth

On the evening of May 21st, 2019, we headed to the hospital to begin the induction of labor for our 6th baby- our rainbow baby boy, Jimmie. I was 38 weeks pregnant.This is Jimmie’s birth story.

After we experienced a second trimester stillbirth with our fifth baby- our daughter, Mary-Linda less than 2 years earlier, I was considered high risk. On top of that, I was already 41 years old (which is seriously old lady time aka geriatric for a pregnant mama!). We decided with both of our doctors, that we would induce labor, if necessary and deliver Jimmie at 38 weeks. What should have been a quick labor- since I had already birthed 4 full term babies, and 2 of them without an epidural, was not a quick labor at all. But, (SPOILER ALERT) this birth story does end well!

Almost a year after Mary-Linda died, we learned that I had an antibody in my blood that was detected early in my pregnancy with her and could cause harm to a baby. Since the cause of Mary-Linda’s death was determined to be fetal maternal hemorrhage, we had something to watch for throughout our entire pregnancy with Jimmie. Every ultrasound was always completed with a check for any sign of anemia in the baby. M-L’s anemia went undetected and therefore untreated. We were going to do everything we could do to get this baby here and in our arms, alive. We started the induction shortly after arriving to the hospital on that May Tuesday evening. Our village of friends and family caring for our older Els and making sure they would be at the hospital the next day.

We were told that it was possible I could have the baby very quickly OR we would add induction methods in the morning. We wanted our older children to be present, so I was hopeful that we wouldn’t have Jimmie until the next morning. I labored ALL NIGHT LONG. It was impossible to sleep. I thought I must have made some progress and by morning time, my cervix had changed and opened a little. We were hopeful that starting pitocin would mean that baby Jimmie would be here before lunch time. My doctor even said “the baby will be here around lunchtime.” I remember, because my other children kept reciting this quote as the day continued on into the night!

But, Jimmie wasn’t here by lunchtime and by lunchtime there wasn’t much progress. In fact, we began increasing pitocin and things were getting unbearable. I bounced on the ball. I walked the halls. I moved around. But, it was so painful and not enough was happening. After more than 24 hours of labor, with the last few being extremely intense, I asked for an epidural. I felt broken. Defeated. I had experienced two full-term labors with no epidurals. I knew my body could do this. Neither of those labors needed pitocin. Why couldn’t I relax and allow my body to progress and birth this baby? I was a failure. After more than thirty minutes, (and likely a transition to the next stage of labor) the anesthesiologist arrived. It felt like forever. My contractions were INTENSE at this time and were coming 3 minutes apart with little break in between. But, again, the work without progress feels futile. My mom and children and husband left the room for the epidural to be administered. The rest of the labor story felt familiar. Things began to progress and my pain was gone. I also couldn’t feel my legs, but that was okay! My children became so comfortable as the day went on. Fighting over what we were watching on the television. As the baby’s heartrate began to show signs of distress and I needed to change positions, my older children seemed focused on other things. They seemed honestly shocked when my doctor announced it was time for Jimmie to be born.
And, with one push, Jimmie was out. As my doctor turned him to face me, he immediately began to pee as he cried loudly. The kids were over the moon and the rest of us were completely overwhelmed and grateful that this miracle baby was here, earthside. 
This birth experience, although not perfect, ended in the most perfect way imaginable. 
May 23, 2019 I wrote this: “Yesterday we experienced a glimpse of heaven on earth. Our miracle, prayed for, hoped for, dreamed of, little boy joined our family in dramatic style. He came when he was ready. Momma and baby are both doing well. And all the Els are over the moon for their baby brother. I know Mary-Linda and grandfather are together in heaven rejoicing for us.
 Introducing Jimmie Josiah El-Hakam. Born May 22, 2019. 9:33pm. 7 lbs 5 oz 20 1/4 in long  We love you so much, Jimmie 💙💙”

For Mary-Linda’s birth story, click here (Mary-Linda was born sleeping in 2017)
For Leeland’s birth story, click here (Leeland was born in 2010)

For Trinity’s birth story, click here (Trinity was born in 2008)
For Bakri and Maddux’s birth story, click ….just kidding. I started blogging in 2008. Some day I will sit down and transfer their stories from their baby books. 

No AC…a Houston Summer gone wrong

Does my hydrangea look hot and droopy?
Well, that’s because she is hot and droopy.
I am also hot and droopy because at this point we have been without AC for one night, going on two. 
In Houston.
In the middle of July.
What in the world!
Count your blessings, Rebekah.
You can afford to have a hot and droopy hydrangea. (Although there is often a debate on whether or not you buy yourself too many flowers)
You have a house. (A hot house, but a house)
You have a house full of children. (hot children, but children that aren’t even cranky)
You have a room with a wall unit with floor space for 4-5 people. (that’s almost your whole family!)
Tonight, I will sleep on the floor and that is a blessing.
I have a floor in a cool room to sleep on and I will go to sleep praying that the AC repairman will return tomorrow (Saturday) able to fix my AC.
Until then, I will count my blessings and get out of this (blessed) house as early as possible tomorrow.

Surviving the Storms. Think on This.


Over Memorial Day weekend, Texas was hit hard with storms. There were families literally swept away inside river homes in Wimberley. Precious lives lost. 
Many Houston families’ homes were flooded with inches to 2 feet of water. Neighbors and friends of ours were awakened to rising waters inside their homes and they are still out of their houses.
Only five days later we were hit with another storm with less rainfall, but more lightning and a funnel cloud. We lost shingles on our roof and our ceiling leaked in our bedroom. We had trees on our street ripped up.  The transformer in our backyard went crazy, sparking and sounding like it was blowing. It was minor compared to all that others were going through and are still going through.
But, nonetheless, it was traumatic for our kids.
I saw that last night.
Huddled up on the kitchen floor during yesterday’s thunder and lightning storm and flash flood warning.
We prayed.
And prayed.
And we made butterflies with our legs and pretended to fly while singing a newly made up song:

“fly little butterfly fly
fly little butterfly fly
with your wings up and down
up and down
up and down
fly little butterfly fly”

We sang.
And we giggled. 

But, something has changed. 
I know that my kids are anxious.
I don’t believe that they are naturally anxious beings.
I believe these particular circumstances all within a short period of time have made them anxious.
My job as a parent is to not leave them in that anxious place.
That place that will shape them into someone who is anxious with every lightning strike, every thunder roar, every rain storm or flood watch.
It is okay to be cautious. To be aware. To know where there are dangers and to avoid them.
But, in Philippians 4:4-9 God’s Word tells us:  
<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29430G" data-link="(G)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29431H" data-link="(H)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29432J" data-link="(J)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>but in everything by prayer and supplication <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29432K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29433L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the peace of God, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29433M" data-link="(M)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29435N" data-link="(N)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>received and heard and seen <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29435O" data-link="(O)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>in me—practice these things, and <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-29435P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the God of peace will be with you.”


I believe this to be true. 
So, as we were praying and flapping our butterfly leg-wings and making up silly songs, we were living out Philippians 4. 
Focusing on loveliness, goodness, truth…and God gave us His peace.


#elmomma31



We Change, but He doesn’t. Thankful for that…

It’s happening. Change. Lots of change. And, transition. I’m transitioning. My family is transitioning. We are all in a state of transition. And, it’s not the change that really bothers me. It’s the leaving. The “leaving” part of this change is the hard part.

The going. The arriving. The being. The working. Being welcomed in ALL of that. It is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. It’s encouraging. It’s affirming. It’s right.

You see, I’m changing jobs. And, by changing jobs, we’re changing churches. It’s a BIG change. I’ve been working as a full time mom for the last six years. Meanwhile, I’ve been a part time worship leader at our church (2 weeks on 2 weeks off) also for six years. I’ve been the Youth Praise Band leader, also part time. Currently, I am the preschool music teacher, part time. And, volunteer lots at my kiddos’ schools. I also put out my first album during this stretch of time and spend a little time promoting that where I can. It may sound like a hodgepodge of jobs that don’t amount to much, but to me it’s been my life. I’ve been happy, but perhaps a little overworked. And then, I get offered this amazing FULL TIME job at a church plant in the heights. What is a church plant? It’s basically a brand new church that is being planted. Planted means that it isn’t affiliated by another church, but starting from the ground up. Ours is an Anglican Church called Church of the Apostles. We became  involved just as the church launch team was ready to officially launch the church- meaning “invite people to visit” last Sunday. We’re off and running and it’s a beautiful thing. There is hardly a moment of rest to take in the meaning of leaving and how that feels, because we are so busy with the planting.

As part of our transition, we were able to take part in a special “Ten Years of Service” church service honoring the pastor of St. Andrew’s and his family. That was our last Sunday with St. Andrew’s and during that service our family was commissioned and prayed over alongside new members. It was beautiful to see the church welcoming in and sending out at the same time. We have been truly blessed to be part of this church family and we are blessed to be sent out and welcomed in to another church family.

So, as we transition, we feel thankful. Thankful for the last few years and thankful for how God is providing for our family. It is hard to leave, but our hearts know that we are part of the big Church. God’s people. It’s not restricted to a building or a denomination. We are God’s people and we are part of His Church. Thank you, God, that although we experience change, You Never Change! You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Reflecting on the beautiful chaos of VBS, posted today from my RebekahMe.WordPress.com blog

Loved last week so very much…leading and teaching Children an expression of worship through music, movement and fist pumping was a true joy at my home church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I remember learning these same lessons as a young girl in musicals at my church growing up, Champion Forest Baptist Church. My hope and prayer is that, like me, this is just the beginning for our VBS campers. Worshiping the One true God can become a lifestyle and change your everything always. This is my prayer for you, children of God. That you will take the music and the movements and the scriptures and the songs and all of the God messages and that they will find their way deep into your soul becoming a part of you. Becoming your everything.  ‪#‎thisismyprayer‬ ‪#‎worship‬

Reflecting on the beautiful chaos of VBS

Loved last week so very much…leading and teaching Children an expression of worship through music, movement and fist pumping was a true joy at my home church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I remember learning these same lessons as a young girl in musicals at my church growing up, Champion Forest Baptist Church. My hope and prayer is that, like me, this is just the beginning for our VBS campers. Worshiping the One true God can become a lifestyle and change your everything always. This is my prayer for you, children of God. That you will take the music and the movements and the scriptures and the songs and all of the God messages and that they will find their way deep into your soul becoming a part of you. Becoming your everything.  ‪#‎thisismyprayer‬ ‪#‎worship‬