It’s February, which means it’s the month of love, at least around here. We love to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This year, we took it a step further and transformed our Christmas tree into a Valentine’s Tree.
When the Els were little, we would host parties and decorate cookies and eat pizza or some other yummy dish. As they’ve gotten older, we often have conflicting activities on Valentine’s Day. So, I like to make the whole month about love with a focus on our love for family and each other.
While working on our Valentine’s Day gift guide, I wanted to get into the spirit early with these adorable Valentine’s Day themed tops. You can shop these looks at this commissionable link.
Our lives and my birthday changed forever in 2017. In 2017, I was the happiest I had ever been in my 40 years on earth. I wasn’t the least bit upset to be turning forty. I was pregnant with our second daughter and fifth child. Life for us was in the highest of highs.
The following month, at my 18 week appointment I learned that our daughter had unexpectedly suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage and her heart had stopped beating. We would go on to deliver her and hold her and deeply grieve and be changed F O R E V E R.
I’ve heard people make comments and say “she should be over it.” “At least she has living children.” “She didn’t even know that baby.” And there are people who are so uncomfortable with me sharing about our walk through grief that they question my mental health. Do you really think that I share everything on social media? No. No, I don’t. But, by me sharing my heart and my experience, I have helped a lot of women who have lost their babies in pregnancy through miscarriage and stillbirth and others who have experienced early infant loss. And, by God’s Grace we have a safe space for all, no matter where you may be in your grief journey, your fertility or infertility journey or your mental health condition. This is and always will be a safe space for you. I am here to listen, to share and to be there for other mommas and hopeful mommas.
That brings me to this year. This year, I am turning 44. There is a different level of joy from my 40th birthday, as we have waded the depths of grief and celebrated on the highest mountain tops since that day. One of our greatest joys came in May of 2019, when God blessed us earth side with our son, Jimmie.
This year, at my birthday dinner, Jimmie was so much fun. He’s learning to keep his cup down when he is drinking from a straw. And in between sips and telling me how he’s supposed to hold his cup, he would remind me of why we were at dinner, sweetly saying “happy birthday, momma.”
I cried. Our lives look so different than what we would have anticipated them looking like just four years ago. We’ve experienced the loss of our daughter, who would be 3 years old right now. We’ve experienced the joy of having our precious Jimmie (age 2). Expecting him, being together for his birth and being home together for much of his first year and second year of life. We are incredibly blessed and thankful. Our big Els wanted to know why I was crying and Moustapha said this “God didn’t have to give us Jimmie.”
That is so true. Jimmie doesn’t replace our baby who died. But, we know we would be in a very different place right now, if we were still waiting on baby Jimmie. Thankfully, God made a way where we did not see the way. It was not easy and we are incredibly thankful.
My birthday will always be a reminder that we are missing Mary-Linda and that we are blessed with our Jimmie, Leeland, Trinity, Maddux and Bakri. A reminder that we are not promised tomorrow and to be grateful for our blessings today.
One of the lessons I learned this past year, is that I can accomplish so much more from home than I ever thought possible…BUT, I absolutely can’t do it alone!
If I ever thought that we don’t need community or one another, I certainly wouldn’t think that now. I’ve always been one who thrives in small groups and one-on-one interactions. That makes a year like 2020 and some of 2021 particularly challenging. I desire to be close with my loved ones and don’t want to be in big crowds. I never liked big crowds to begin with. Sporting events- especially outdoors are a whole different ballgame. Love those and never stopped going to those. My favorite sports were the ones that kept going, especially kid sports that involved the Els!
Back to what I’ve learned and how sharing deals and finds on the blog is a part of this. When everything shut down in Texas in March of 2020, my part time job also ended. I was working at a preschool and Jimmie was attending. Once all the Els were sent home from public elementary, middle and high school I had no choice but to stay home with all five of them. Like most people, our life rhythm completely changed. It was just us all the time and I no longer contributed to any income for our family of seven (eight with my momma staying with us part of the time.)
I started focusing on growing my Instagram account, as it looked like there was potential there to have brands pay what they call “influencers,” but as a SAG-AFTRA card holding member for 20 years, I think of it as a spokesperson type model. Less acting, and more storytelling. Love it? Like it? Hate it? Honest feedback on a product or experience. That’s what people want. And if you can do that and get paid, even better!
On Black Friday, I found a deal for liquid collagen and decided to give that a try. I was blown away by the results. I see myself every day and it was not overnight! This was a huge difference in a month and a half, and more as time as gone on. The liquid Biocell is the product I use and love. If you use this link, it will show Moustapha as the one who referred you and I will receive credit for your purchase. You will also receive $10 off your purchase too! Win! Win!
So, that brings me to my most recent sharing of my @rebekahmemusic like to know it account!And, my Amazon influencer account. These are places where I can share things I find and love and if you shop my links, I will receive a small commission. So, if you are thinking of buying something I have shared, would you consider buying through my links?
When I say “small commission,” it’s completely dependent on the company. Some pay much better percentages than others. But, for now, I am sharing the best links and products I find. And I’m sharing things I use and believe in.
If you don’t want to purchase something, that’s fine too. Another way you can support me is by sharing my posts, commenting on Instagram and here. Pinterest is also a great place where your views and saves help posts be seen by others.
If you’ve read this far, thank you! I’m still figuring this whole thing out. But, I do love being able to create and write and stay home with Jimmie. Thank you for your support. From the bottom of my El Momma heart, “Thank you!”
Just by googling it, I found a couple of definitions that struck a chord with me.
Miracle– a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
Miracle–a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
Have you experienced a miracle?
In your own life or in the life of someone you know? I believe that I have. I experienced a miracle through music. Let’s go back in time, about 30 years or so. To the time when I would take weekly piano lessons with Mrs. Wolff. She was a woman who taught piano lessons in her home. I believe she was already retired at the time as she had grown children and grandchildren. I started off around age 5 and she didn’t teach children that young, so I was in a lesson with another girl my age. I stuck with it through that time and eventually I took individual lessons. I don’t remember taking lessons through intermediate school (5th and 6th grade), but I believe I stayed with it through 4th grade. I have very vivid memories of my lessons. Sitting in her very beautiful, very pristine living room at the piano. I also remember my time after the lessons. The few minutes when my lesson was finished and another student had arrived for their lesson and I would wait for my mom to pick me up in the front yard. There was a huge pine tree surrounded by a flowerbed bordered by large wooden pieces on the ground. Hanging from the tree was a wooden sign that said “The Wolffs.” It was a magical place for a young imagination. I would walk carefully around the flowerbed, balancing myself on the wood border, traveling from land to land. Watching out for ‘The Wolffs” and going on a wonderful adventure. I remember my piano lesson experience as magical, but that is where my piano lessons ended and my life lessons picked up. As I grew up, I would often sit at the piano in my parents’ home and play familiar pieces I had learned in years past. Eventually, I no longer had a piano nearby, so I stopped playing. When Moustapha and I were married (nearly 12 years ago) we returned to Houston where both of our parents had pianos at the time. So, when visiting, I would sit and play songs I remembered and I began to play a new melody (one that would eventually become the song Radiant You) When I began to sing again, and be part of the worship team at our church in Houston, songwriting became an essential part of my growth and life. This was 9 years ago or so. I still wasn’t playing the piano regularly. When I was called as a worship leader at St. Andrew’s Pres, nearly 7 years ago, I began to write a ton and tinker around more on the piano with my original songs. I also started leading the Youth Praise Band at our church and I would accompany them on the piano in practice. I would look at the chord charts and just play. Nothing “special” but I would get better week to week. Meanwhile, as I was writing more, singing more, playing more for fun, we finished and recorded the album Radiant You in Nashville. As a pianist, I wasn’t one. Really. I had an amazing pianist play piano on the record. His name is Tim Lauer and he is amazing! A wonder, really. Back in Houston, the also uber talented, Jeremy Martin Weber was the pianist for our worship band. He was and is amazing. I think just hearing and watching him play and work every week, influenced this next chapter of my life. Jeremy and his family moved out of state sometime after Radiant You was released in late 2012. Before they moved, he left the worship band. So, we had a huge void to fill. It started slow for me. I would play piano on a few songs during worship, starting in the key of C. Eventually leading to me playing the entire service from the piano, while singing. So much so, that the church invested in a keyboard just before Advent season in 2013. This allowed me to be able to play with the band (right next to and with them) and be able to see the congregation while leading them in worship. By the time we felt called to join Church of the Apostles as Worship Pastor, I had been leading from the keyboard 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off for nearly a year. Up until this point, this was the most growth I experienced as a player and as a worship leader/pastor. I believe the true “miracle” or “highly improvable event or development” has happened in this last 12 months. I now play in nearly every key. Mostly by ear and reading chord charts. I do believe that we become accomplished by hours and hours and hours of work and practice. I am doing that. And, I know God is honoring that time and devotion. And yet, there is still a miracle for me. It’s a personal miracle that allows me to provide for my family, to worship God with my gifts and talents, to be a worship pastor in a loving community that knows and seeks the Holy Spirit. I know that when God calls me to make another album, it will be a very different experience for me, as I am a much different musician than I was 3 years ago. I feel extremely blessed. Playing the keyboard and piano is a gift that the Lord keeps on giving me. I am so thankful for those lessons many years ago and the life lessons I am still receiving. I am thankful for memories. For something “sticking” with me all these years. I am thankful for my miracle.
We would love to have you join us for worship if you are ever in the Houston area on a Sunday. Worship services are at 10am. Visit Apostles online for more information.
“My Miracle” is the 6th Blogpost in the Series #ElMomma31 Where El Momma blogs every day in the month of July. Follow the hashtag ElMomma31 for daily blogposts. www.elmomma.com
We plan big and most of the time it’s great. We keep our kids busy or they keep us busy, rather. We work, we play, we laugh, we cry, we sing, we dance. Sometimes we forget to slow down. But, when we do slow down, that’s when the magic happens.
It happened this summer.
Nearly every day. We have taken this summer slowly.
No theme weeks. (I know. Those were fun and really they weren’t super hard to pull together.)
No stressful activities or over-planned days.
In fact, we’ve been on vacation twice this summer. The first one was less vacation-y for the adults -me and the hubs because we did a lot of driving and work was part of the trip. We ended up having several day-cations in that one vacation, but the second one- to Florida was definitely a vacation. We stayed in a huge house with my parents, sister, brother, sister-in-law and 8 kids (the 4 els and 4 of their cousins.)
We cooked. We played. We ran. We swam. We played tag and watched movies.
We made sandcastles on the beach and swam in the ocean.
My favorite moments were the little ones. The moments when all 8 kids (4 of ours and 4 of our nephews and niece) sat in the sand building or digging together.
When we laughed and played in the pool.
When I had morning coffee and worked on song lyrics sitting in the kitchen by myself before anyone was awake. (no photo of that!)
So much of what we are made to do is just about being in community. Being together. Enjoying each other and loving one another. I remember precious moments with my cousins when I was growing up. Learning to roller skate in my aunt’s driveway. Singing along as my mom played guitar for all of us. I adore my cousins. They are some of my favorite people in the world who I rarely get to see. But, I love them and cherish them all the same. I believe my sweet Els are growing up feeling the exact same way about their dear cousins.
I am feeling pretty thankful as we head in to a new year of school. A new year of friends. A new year of memories, challenges, hopes, dreams, tears, love, laughter and promises. This summer has left my heart feeling full and ready for the year ahead. Let’s get out there and dream big. Love your kids and your teachers and enjoy the little things.
Yesterday we piled into a rented minivan- And headed on a big road trip. Our goal departure time was 5am. We left at 7am. Destination: lake Geneva, Wisconsin for Escape to the Lake 2014. We drove and drove and drove all the way to Wildwood, Missouri. We grabbed a quick dinner upon arrival and headed to bed.
We’ve had our not so good moments and we’ve had great ones. Let me pause to brag on the ELs for a minute. These kids are amazing travELers. Seriously amazing. They hardly ever complain and as I write this they’ve spent approximately 17 hours in the car over the last two days. We didn’t plan to watch movies. But, we lucked out with our car rental. I can’t complain. It’s worked out great and Three out of the four Els have slept a lot. And El Dad has done all of the driving. Not that I don’t want to drive. He seems to like it and I’m a great passenger.
We will arrive at ETTL in the next hour in the final minutes of registration. Oh how I hope our cabin/ room is ready for this family to do a quick change before the first session and dinner. So far, it’s been a great experience. Seeing America like this is inspiring. PS. I think I’m in love with Missouri…
We’re two weeks in and I’m tired. Any other mommas and dads with me? Summers and vacations are times when I find my rhythm. Who doesn’t love relaxing and taking a break from the norm to refresh. But, even so, I love structure. I love knowing what’s next, scheduling myself silly until I just fall over at the end of each day. It’s part of the reason we plan weekly themes in the summers. It helps me to make a plan. A plan that still allows all of us to sleep in on summer days.
And, that is the reason I’m so tired. Every school day I wake up by 6am. I am NOT an early riser. I’m a sleeper and a dreamer. I’m also a Momma, so I convince myself if I just get up now, I can take a nap once all of the Els are at school/work. That’s just me lying to myself. I’ll never stop to take a nap. But, the thought is nice.
So, we’re off. In the rhythm of school and work and practices and lessons and choirs and teaching and rehearsals and total chaos. We’re in our rhythm. We’re happy and good, but tired. How are you doing with the kids back in school?
About El Momma: Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam is a worship leader and songwriter from Houston, Texas. Her debut album, Radiant You received 4.5 stars from NewReleaseTuesday and was produced by Marshall Altman. A 6 song sampler is available for free on Noisetrade Free Noisetrade Download and the entire album is available for purchase on iTunes
Our oldest son is turning eight tomorrow. He wanted to celebrate with his entire class. I don’t know about you, but birthday parties can get really expensive. And, with at least four parties a year for our children’s birthdays (one each!) that can get pricey really fast. Birthdays are important. My family always made our birthdays special growing up and my husband and I both feel it’s really important for our children to have this special day each year. Does it have to break the bank? No. Let’s look at options.
We have tons of kid friendly birthday themed places to choose from in our city- Houston. But, again, price is an issue. Most places charge per child and inviting an entire class full of kids is a lot. We also like to include siblings, mainly because our kids have so many siblings and it’s always nice (but not necessary) when they are included too.
How about a party at home? They are fun and the kids always really have a great time. I opted “no” on this option this time, because it is a lot of work for me personally and I kind of have a lot already on my plate at the moment.
So, we thought about the park down the street from our house and our son’s school. We could have a party right after school on a Friday afternoon. We went for this option.
Here are the details: Invite all of the class via evite.com or other web service Our class list is posted for our class only on our own website run by our classroom mom I just retrieved the emails from there and pasted them into the evite Party time: immediately after school on a Friday for 1.5 hours Serve Pizza (kid choices and parent options) – I ordered locally and asked that it be delivered to the park 15 minutes after the party start time Pick up cupcakes (we purchased ours from Sam’s Club 30 total -15 vanilla and 15 chocolate)
What to bring:
paper towels (in case it is windy, napkins will fly)
one cooler filled with ice, water bottles & juice bags/boxes
pizza cutter to make the pieces smaller if necessary
trash bags (I had these, but they weren’t necessary)
FUN! This was a really fun party for the kids and it was super simple for the parents.
Happy birthday to our very great eight year old boy! We love you!
It’s (a little) cooler this morning in Houston, Texas. Almost feels like it could be October, but not quite. We’re doing great.
Leeland is two and happier than ever.
Maddux started Kindergarten and Bakri is in second grade. I am spending more time at both of their schools. So far, we are having a great school year.
My debut album was released on September 18.
It’s really exciting and stressful just to try to get the music out there. But, when people hear it, they are moved and they tell me about it. I am very blessed.
If you know what to search (ie. my name), you can find me almost anywhere….iTunes, amazon, cdbaby, zune, bandcamp, noisetrade, etc. And, even next to Sandi Patty, at times. 🙂
This was my look of shock and relief the day the album was released….ah
And, now, me and the family are headed to churches and events on my off weeks to spread the music to more churches and communities. Last week, we went to Crosspoint Church in Bellaire and I had the joy of leading along side of my friend and amazing talent, Aaron Senseman and the great worship team at Crosspoint. I am very grateful to be able to share the music in this way. Could I come to your church? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for booking information.
Trinity turned four and we celebrated with a family party at our church. We made homemade pizzas, danced and enjoyed celebrating Miss Trinity. She is becoming quite the little lady.
Leeland had his first haircut. Momma cut off the longest curls in the back, but I’m not ready to go short yet. He still has some baby curls.
Grandma (Moustapha’s mom) loves to buy the kids halloween costumes. This year the Els had requests: Mario themed costumes! Toad! Princess Peach! Luigi! and Mario! We are waiting until Halloween to put on the mustaches.