Working full time with kids…it’s a whole new summer

What a difference!

We are 5+ weeks in with a few weeks to go and this summer has been very different from the last 10 “summers with kids.”
10 years ago, we were “in the throws” with a newborn baby boy- our Bakri. A very sweet time, really. Rocking chairs, cradles, cuddles, nursing and sleep deprived.
As we were blessed with more babies, a lot of things became a lot easier.
For example, with more children I had less time to focus on one child.
For me, that meant I was a lot less neurotic with the addition of more children. (Sorry, Bakri!)
But, that has just been my personal experience.

I am sure there are parents of single children that have it all figured out. I, however, believe that I’ve improved with each child. 🙂 Thankfully, for them.  I’m pretty chill with them.
So, El summers have been pretty low-key. And, we have been blessed to travel a little: to California, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Illinois and also places within Texas.
I began working part time before Maddux, our second son was born.
As the kids got old enough, we would fill our summers with VBS at various churches where we either visited or knew people well and lots of YMCA time. I even had a couple of ‘theme week’ summers which the kids really loved. For an example of a theme week, click here http://elmomma.blogspot.com/2013/08/su-mmerweek-5-theme-week-performance.html?m=1 I loved theme weeks too. I especially loved it when we had guest camp leaders and extra campers. That always made it extra fun for all.
Now that I am working full time, albeit with a very flexible family-friendly schedule, I worked hard to plan out our summer a couple of months before it began. I looked at all the fliers that were sent home from school, considered the VBS camps we had done in the past and asked other parents what they were doing with their children. We also did swim team for the first time. More about that later, but I’ll just say we loved swim team! So far, our summer rhythm feels really good. The ELs seem really happy too. Some things they are doing together and some things are based on their own interests. 
How do you and your kids spend your summer?
Hope it’s a happy summer, friends! Enjoy your loved ones.
Xoxo,
El Momma 

Ninjago camp 

Swim team finals 

Disney Musical Theater Camp

Waiting for the other ELs at swim practice

Almost Five

Every day for the last week, he wakes up and asks, “How Many days until my birthday?” The answer today was “3 days!” He is so very excited to turn five. 
Can you imagine waking up this happy nearly every day and to top it off, you are wearing a top hat on your head? What a character!

We have lots of names for this child. 

Our fourth.
His name is Leeland. 
Lee for my dad, Jimmie Lee, and it was close to Leo, a family name on my mother-in-law’s side. After we named him, we found out that Leland was also a family name on her side too. 
We call him Leeland.
Lee.
Lee Lee.
Leebug 
Big baby (he was over 10 lbs at birth!)
😉
And, this week Big Baby turns five years old. He’s not a baby anymore.
Happy almost birthday, Leebug! Next time you awake, the answer will be “2 days!”
Love you forever.
-Momma 

Sad Day

This morning we found out that our dear friend and teacher’s baby went to heaven today.

He lived to be 5 months old. He was born full term at a healthy weight.
Looking perfect in every way. 
But, he couldn’t move.
He was later diagnosed with type 0 SMA. SMA is the number one killer of infants. 
How do I know that?
I know it because of super Cooper!
Because of his little life, we can make a difference by spreading awareness and stopping SMA.
His type of SMA is the worst kind and the hope to be able to take him home from the hospital one day was small. But, there was hope. And prayers. Lots of prayers.
And, he did go home.
In fact, he went many places: a bbq benefit, walks with mommy and daddy. He even went for a swim last week with mommy.
His little life is an inspiration. We now know more about SMA and we can spread awareness to stop SMA. 
More about SMA From CureSMA.org

About SMA

SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) is a disease that robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe. It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants. 
SMA is caused by a mutation in the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1). In a healthy person, this gene produces a protein that is critical to the function of the nerves that control our muscles. Without it, those nerve cells cannot properly function and eventually die, leading to debilitating and often fatal muscle weakness. 
SMA affects approximately 1 in 10,000 babies, and about 1 in every 50 Americans is a genetic carrier. SMA can affect any race or gender.
There are four primary types of SMA—I, II, III, and IV—based on age of onset and highest physical milestone achieved.
Individuals with SMA have difficulty performing the basic functions of life, like breathing and swallowing. However, SMA does not affect a person’s ability to think, learn, and build relationships with others.
Though there is currently no approved treatment for SMA, there’s great reason for hope. We know what causes SMA and what we need to do to develop effective therapies, and we’re on the verge of major breakthroughs that will strengthen our children’s bodies, extend life, and eventually lead to a cure.

More about Cooper and more info on how to donate:

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy Fourth of July, Y’ALL!
We hope you have a wonderful day. 
We hope you will enjoy celebrating with family and friends.
We hope you will be safe.
Don’t get too close to fireworks.
And, uber if you have anything to drink.
Enjoy the best freedoms that being American brings.
For our family, the best freedoms are the ones that allow us to be together. 
To be safe together.
To pray openly together.
To eat ribs and gluten free pizza together (because we can). 
To love each other. 
To be unique.
To be American.
Let Freedom Ring!

2013

2014
2011

Escaping to the Lake…one of our best escapes yet.

I dedicate this post to last summer.

To dreams coming true.
To Dave Trout and Under the Radar for playing unknown music on the radio.
To Christiaan Snedeker and Dave Trout for imagining a retreat where artists (and their families) can come together, break bread together, worship together and enjoy great music under the stars.
To Under the Radar for inviting me and my entire family to Williams Bay, WI to participate in such an amazing retreat and experience.
To Chicago.
Less than 24 hours and you became one of my favorite cities I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit, even if it was only for a few moments.
To my family.
Making music is a dream come true.
Making music with you is everything I was made to do and more.
I love your support.
I love that you would pile in a minivan and head up north on an adventure with me so that I can connect with more musicians who love Christ and who just want to make art and music for the Kingdom.
And, to all of you who are lucky enough to be at Escape to the Lake 15 right now (#ETTL15) , savor every moment.
Love your families.
Love your new friends.
Love the Church. (the Church is with you there!)
Love God.
Love being close to nature and close with each other.
Have great conversations.
Have hard conversations.
Have conversations.
And, make some amazing music and art together for the Glory of the one who made you.
Be blessed, y’all.
Hope to see you at the next one.
-Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam
and the Els

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



A New Season

We’ve been at Church of the Apostles Houston about seven months now…is that right? Time as flown by. We had our first Advent in the church on 14th street, we opened to the public, had our first Christmas Eve service, Ash Wednesday service, and first Lent. Our first Palm Sunday service was held at 14th street, first Holy Week- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Wow.
A lot. Of. Firsts.
A lot of hope. A lot of love. A lot of sacrifice.

Being at Apostles (Church of the Apostles Houston) has been a life changing experience for me. It’s the first time I have worked FULL TIME (outside the home) since birthing these four precious children of ours.  I came into this job carrying with me my experiences from our previous churches. That’s, of course, a very natural thing to do. But, God changed me and altered my expectations for a church and a job at a church that is still in the church planting stage. He has been changing my heart and my responses along the way. And, I have been incredibly blessed while leading and waiting on God’s timing.
Day to day, I am in and out of the office and still able to volunteer and be with my children. But, I also work very hard. God has blessed us with a band made up completely of members of our congregation. No paid musicians, no paid “sound guy”. Just a team of lovely hearts who happen to be very gifted. 

The weeks seem to go by even faster than before now. And, I am grateful for time. 
I am grateful for my family. 
Without much protest at all, just as Advent was approaching, we moved churches. Church families. Our church home. It is a big deal. And these sweet people and my DH 

have jumped in wholeheartedly. It’s made the transition so easy and full of blessings. 

I wanted to share this with you as we are entering summer and as I continue to write new music. Would you pray with me? That I will follow the Holy Spirit’s leading when planning how to spend my time. And that God will begin to show me how and when I should finish songs. There are many and time with God and music is so critical to my songwriting process. Please pray that the time gets intentionally carved out and that God will bless that time. And, please pray for our church family at Apostles. Church planting is a very special time. 

Ecclesiastes 3 (ESV)

” For everything there is a season, and <span class="crossreference" data-link="(A)” data-cr=”#cen-ESV-17361A” style=”-webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0); font-family: ‘Helvetica Neue Light’, HelveticaNeue-Light, helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px; box-sizing: border-box; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>a time for every matter under heaven” 

Getting Caught in the Rain

I think I could start every blog the same. It might get a little boring. But it would go like this “Today was a crazy day!” 

So, I’ll start this one this way and think of something new next time. 
Today was a crazy day! Our alarm clocks were out of sorts this morning and we all barely made it to church on time. I go early to rehearse with the band. I made it, but was barely on time because I stopped for a latte. I needed it more today than usual!
The Els ate chocolate gluten free cupcakes for breakfast. I didn’t see them, but I saw the evidence on an empty plate after church.
I made a pretty big lunch for us. Not unusual, but I was really tired and found it hard to stand in the kitchen. By lunchtime I was ready for a nap. And I laid down on the couch and took one. I took a nap! That’s very unusual!
After my naptime, Trinity had prepared a performance for us complete with props and original songs. Bakri watched with us and Maddux and Leeland joined in to entertain us. 

Next, we had break time so I could start laundry. Then, we walked to a neighborhood block party. This is where it gets interesting and, no, I don’t have pictures. 
It began to lightly rain. 
We had no umbrella and decided we should go home. 
It rained.
It poured.
And poured.
All the way home. 2 longish blocks. 
We got completely and totally soaked.
We sang. We danced. We splashed. We laughed. It was fun. Really fun. A family first for us. 
It reminds me of our sermon at Apostles this morning. We talked a little about missing moments. This was one we didn’t set out to experience. But, in our crazy busy lives, it is one that I’m so glad we didn’t miss today. 

A Day of Love with the Els

Around here, we love love. So, celebrating a day that is supposed to be all about love is a day that we can’t pass up. The last few years my sister in law and I have enjoyed planning these little “parties” together either at her house or mine. It’s really for our 8 kids but we always end up enjoying these kid friendly celebrations. 

The Els helped decorate. We made valentine chains and hung them as decoration throughout the house.

My sil made valentine themed chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered strawberries. We placed them in cute tins from last year and they made very cute table decorations.

The kid table 

Pizza and kids 

My first attempt at making homemade lasagna was a success. There was none left!

My mom made large heart shaped cookies for the kids to decorate.

And eat 

All done! That was fun. Hope you all had a sweet Valentine’s! Till next year, love a lot! Love, ElMomma 

Finding the sky

Today, the sun came out. And, we could see it. We could feel it. It warmed the day. It brightened our hearts and apparently it inspired a lot of drivers to get on the road and drive somewhere. So, traffic was a bit of a bear.
Luckily for me, I got to see the sun a lot. Unfortunately, I was in my car.

If you are familiar with Houston, then you will get a kick out of where my GPS traveled today:

start: Montrose
to: Bellaire
to: Montrose
to: Bellaire
to: Montrose
to: downtown
to: the Heights
to: Bellaire
to: Montrose
to: Bellaire
to: River Oaks
to: Montrose

If it sounds depressing, it can be. But, I was struck with a thought as I took a walk on the River Oaks stop (a 3 minute walk, but a walk, no less).
I am blessed. So very blessed.
I have a vehicle that is safe and comfortable to drive my four children around in.
I have four children. They are getting great educations and have wonderful, enriching activities to participate in.
I am loved.
I love.
I am blessed.
Yep, I sometimes drive a lot in what seems like a constant circle. But, it’s so great to have a family to drive around, a wonderful job to get to, a husband that needs my help, and the sun shining down on me.

Blue sky and a winter tree 🙂