<< my week in review 1/25-31

Whup, here it is.

I came home to this cutie and her cupcake action on Friday.

Sarah had called me several times while I was at work:

"Mom, where do I find a recipe for cupcakes? I can't find it in the red and white cookbook."
"Hmmm. How about you go to allrecipes dot come and search for 'cupcakes.'"

"Mom, where is the unsweetened cocoa?"
"In the very back of the baking cabinet because I never use it."

"Mom, how do I do 1/8 teaspoon when we don't have one?"
"You know what? How about if you wait until I come home and I can help you?"

"Never mind, I figured it out."
"How did you figure it out?"
"I just watched the video and saw how much it was and put in that much."

She was making cupcakes for the American Heart Association.
At school they're doing a Jump Rope for Heart pledge drive,
but she wanted to raise even more money with a bake sale.

1 cupcake made me happy!
I love brownies! You will love it too!

I helped her make some peanut butter frosting and then she frosted the cupcakes.
Notice that look of concentration.

Also, notice the Netflix screen in the background. 
The kids think that screen is off.
"Did you turn the TV off?" I ask.
"Yes!" they'll reply.
"Um. No. That is not off."

As soon as she was done frosting the cupcakes, she called Oma.
(...who is fasting from sweets for 40 days along with Opa & Aunt Betty...)
"Oma, the bake sale has started... At our house.... They're $1 each..... Right now.... Okay, bye."

She ran to the front window and waited for them to come.
After several anxious minutes of looking out the window, 
I offered to drive her and her cupcakes over to Oma and Opa's and Betty's.

"Who would have thought that a cupcake could help save a life?" 
she said amazed at the thought. 
And I, trying so hard not to take the turns too fast or step on the brakes too hard (as I am told I tend to do) had to agree with her.
She, with the plate of cupcakes on her lap, beamed.

Love is: 
buying cupcakes from your granddaughter & niece when you have sworn off sweets.
Oma, Opa & Bethany are the BEST!

It blesses me beyond description to see her want so much to help people.

My mom's sister happened to be visiting the next day and asked Sarah where she got such a heart to help people.
Besides just being a God-given desire, I think that the fact that we have sponsored kids through Compassion International has something to do with it.

We sponsor three children, one for each of our kids.
When each of our children turned 4 years old (which is the age that children can be sponsored with Compassion) we chose a child for them to sponsor that matched their ages and genders.
This week they wrote them letters and sent them photos.

It's something small, but it's something.

When we were visiting Oma and her sister, Oma was so excited to show us "A Small Act" on Netflix. A documentary about a man who was sponsored by a woman in Sweden (not through Compassion) and how that impacted his life. 
It is so humbling to see what we take for granted is so precious to others.

Kaitlin's iPod broke! 
[very sad face]
So she borrowed my iPod to check Instagram and post photos.
I found a bunch of her photos on my camera roll. 
[very duck face]

 So I decided to try my hand at Kaitlin's duck face/peace sign pose.

 Monday night was the area sports banquet.
FCA had a table, but couldn't fill it, so you know what that means...
...I don't have to cook dinner!

Shannon Miller was the main speaker before the awards were handed out.
When I heard that Shannon Miller was speaking, I was like, "hmm, name sounds familiar, who is she?"
When I found out that she was an Olympic gymnast, I was like, "Oh, cool! I totally remember who she is. I can't wait to hear her."

At the banquet, when she was talking about the Magnificent Seven and Béla Károlyi and how long ago she competed and how things have changed since she competed... I was thinking about Mary Lou Retton... I was kind of thinking they were on the same team... And then I realized that Mary Lou was 1984... And Shannon Miller was 1996. It all blurs together in my mind.
And then I felt really old.
But I am not really old.
Not really.

[bonus feature:]

In '84 I thought the women's gymnastics was interesting, but I was all about the men's gymnastics.
Mary Lou was great and all that,
but I had the biggest crush on Bart Conner and Mitch Gaylord.

[end bonus feature]

I love bedtime. 
I love talking to them while saying goodnight.
I love listening to Sarah read me James 1 from her bible.

Parts of my week were sad.
I felt weak.

 I love this boy. Even when he won't pose for my pictures.

I love this girl, too. She's so fun.

(Also, if I don't point out my double chin, you won't notice it.)

I ran on the treadmill this week, for the first time ever.
I did it by accident.
I've been scared to run because I thought I would fly off the end of the treadmill like a bad cartoon.
But I didn't fly off the end, so I kept running.
I'm pretty proud of myself.

How was your week?

I'm @annebickle linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


When Weakness is Good News

Sometimes I feel very weak. And in those times, if I choose to focus on God and not myself, I am so thankful for His strength that sustains me.

Yesterday, I made that graphic at the top of this post because this song from my youth kept going through my head:

Jesus loves me this I know 
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong; 
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me. 
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

His grace sustains us in our weakness. His power is made perfect in our weakness. The Bible tells us so. When I feel weak, it's an opportunity for God's strength to be revealed in me. And that is way better than anything I could do in my own strength (which is not much) (okay, it's nothing). That's good news. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
A Royal Daughter


My Dad Is Beautiful - or - I Feel Bad When My Daughters Think I Think I'm Fat

I've been thinking about beauty and weight loss lately. Maybe it's the new year with new resolutions. Maybe it was my last doctor's appointment. Maybe it's the phase of the moon or the time of the month. Or something.

A few years ago we went through a marriage crisis and I kind of let myself go. In some ways I was probably punishing myself for some mistakes I'd made. But I think I also wanted to be loved for more than what I looked like in a Facebook photo. I wanted to love myself for more than what I looked like or what I did. I had been "fake me" now I wanted to be "real me." I wore less make-up, dyed my hair to match my roots, and wore bobby pins (to get in touch with my inner little girl -- it made sense to me at the time). I also got my tattoo while getting in touch with my real self, because I guess deep down inside I am a biker chic. And I gained weight. I didn't do it on purpose, I just did.

These days, when I go down the stairs I am reminded that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. My sister has been giving me her hand me downs because they are too big for her. I am happy to get them because my clothes are too small for me now. We're swapping sizes and clothes. I don't feel bad about it because I have a better grasp on my identity now and I know that my identity is not in my pant size.

What I do feel bad about is my daughter's mistaken impression that I think I'm fat. The other night I was putting my youngest daughter to bed and I don't even remember what I did or said, but she told me as if to reassure me, "you're not fat, mama." It caught me off guard because I know don't have a problem with my weight. Why did she feel the need to tell me that?

I also feel bad when my older daughter gets upset when I say that she can wear my clothes. Personally I think it's pretty cool that she is growing up and becoming a woman. "My daughter and I share clothes now," I'll say proudly. But I'm realizing that twelve year olds don't think it's very cool to share clothes with their moms because it means that they are bigger than all the other little twelve year olds who still shop in the girl's section. Her undeveloped friends can still swap clothes with each other, not their moms. What I think is a compliment (she's growing up!) is anything but (she's getting big!).

"Mom!" she says, "think how it makes me feel when you say you need to lose weight." I do need to lose the weight I gained when I learned to love myself "as is." I need to exercise and be healthy. But she has misunderstood me if she thinks that I think my size is too large.

At my grandparents' anniversary celebration, May 9, 1981.
I am really concerned about these misunderstandings that my daughters have. When I was little I misunderstood something and it affected how I viewed myself for a very long time. That's probably why this subject has been on my mind.

It's amazing how people can say one thing, but you can hear something else entirely. No one told me that I wasn't beautiful in so many words, but that's what I heard and what I believed.

I grew up hearing how much I look like my dad. I had a hard time understanding why anyone would think I looked like a man. I mean, my dad had a mustache! I didn't want to look like a man. It was a little bit disconcerting to me.

Additionally, more than a few times I heard people say that my mom looked like Cheryl Tiegs, a popular model at the time. I thought that was pretty cool. But the thing was, I didn't look like my mom, I looked like my dad. I wanted to be beautiful like my mom and Cheryl Tiegs.

People didn't say it in the same sentence. Or maybe not even the same conversation. But my little tape recorder in my head replayed this back to me:

"Your mom is beautiful; too bad you look like your dad."

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized my dad is beautiful. I mean, he would be beautiful if he was a woman. In fact, I look a lot like his sister, and I think my aunt is very pretty. There are many different kinds of beautiful.

I remember these thoughts I had when I was little, my misunderstanding of what was being said, hearing it through my own filter. And then I think about my daughters. They also look like their dad. They have my blue eyes and my fair skin, but other than that, they are all Bickle.

Which is really to say, they are all Beautiful. My husband, if he were a woman, would be very beautiful. I know this because his sisters are both beautiful. One of his sisters passed away this last year from breast cancer. Chemotherapy took her hair but not her spirit. She was beautiful right up until the day she died.

I firmly believe that I can never tell my daughters too many times how beautiful I think they are. I hope that whatever misunderstandings they might have, they grow up confident that they are beautiful. I hope they take care of their beauty well, but that they pursue the beauty that lasts, a quality possessed that can transform what is seen. I hope they grow up knowing that there are many different kinds of beautiful and that there is beauty everywhere if we just look for it. 

I hope they grow up knowing that their dad is beautiful.


<< my week in review: 1/18-24

The story behind the pictures.

Brrrrrr-ing it!

My little basketball player started basketball this week.

I was up way to early on Sunday. 
But I did get to see this, so it wasn't all bad.

I had to be there early because it was my week to work in the A/V booth. 
It was a two travelling coffee mug kind of morning.

Oh my goodness, it got cold this week.

Ugh! If +32 degrees is freezing, what is -32 degrees?
Crazy, that's what.
It's like ice, ice baby.... stop! collaborate...

But the summers (both months) are totally worth it.
That's what we tell ourselves.

Bring it, Cold Temps!
You don't scare me and my scarf of many colors.
This has been my standard uniform this week.

It's cold in our house, but I'm nice and warm.
Yeah, that's right. I'm wearing three sweaters. 
I'm starting a trend.
I'm too hot to handle, too cold to hold... wait...

 Like I've always said:
 "if I had to choose, I'd rather pick cold because you can always put more layers on."
Although I confess, taking layers off because I'm too hot sounds really good to me right about now.

It's been sub zero temps here in Minnesota this last week.
Sometimes we wonder why we moved back here and dream of moving somewhere warm.
Or at least vacationing somewhere warm... especially in January/February.

But I try to put a positive spin on things whenever I can,
so I sent the following email to my husband this week:

Reasons to love living in cold weather:
1. The two car refrigerator.   
2. No need to brush hair - just wear a stocking hat.   
3. It's invigorating.   
4. More snuggling to stay warm. Promotes healthy relationships.
5. Candles. 
6. Fires in the fireplace.   
7. Blankets!   
8. Hot beverages. 
Care to join me in finding good reasons?

To which he replied:

1. I need to eat less, not more.
2. Beach bums obviously have no problems either.
3. A drink on the beach when its 80 where you are, and -5 where others are, is pretty invigorating too.
4. [censored] 
5. Torches on the beach.
6. Bonfires on the beach
7. Spread out on the beach
8. Coffee over the cool ocean breezes isn’t bad either.  ! 

Consequently, during the month of February, we are accepting invitations to visit anyone who lives in tropical temperatures.

It was a good exercise for me and brought about some good conversations with my honey.
It was a little bit scary to write out my dreams because I hadn't ever really done it before.
I think I avoided it because I didn't want to feel like a failure.
(That's my discouraged perfectionist coming out.)

I also wrote about the time when I really did forget to wear a shirt to work.
Some people dream about it, I actually did it.

This week's topic in the study I'm doing with my friend is Patience.
I couldn't wait to get to it!

Patience in circumstances is tied to endurance which is tied to hope.
Patience with people is tied to mercy.
The mercy/patience is the fruit of the Spirit kind.
It's good stuff.

So, that was my week.
How was your week?

I'm @annebickle, linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


Dreams I Dream [Collecting My Story]

Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his "I have a dream" speech.
August 28, 1963 source
I thought it fitting to write about dreams on MLK, Jr. Day. For the first time in a long time I read his speech. Look at what he said! 

"...I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
"This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.' [...]
"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

He had eternity on his heart! His dream was ultimately eternal freedom. He knew that it is faith that transforms and brings freedom! Freedom here on earth from slavery and discrimination and bullying and addicting substances. And perfect everlasting freedom when we get to Heaven. Can you just picture that last paragraph? I can't wait.

Dreaming sweet dreams.

I have a dream. A recurring one. I don't remember the last time I had it, so maybe I should make that past tense. I had a dream. For many years after I graduated from college, I had some sort of version of the following dream:
I've been a college student for (pick one: ... one... four... ten...) year(s).
I suddenly realize that I haven't checked my CPO (college post office, pronounced 'see-po') box for (pick one: ... a day... a week... the whole year!)
I can't remember where (pick one: ... my key... my CPO box... the CPO building...) is.
When I finally open my CPO box, 
(pick one: ... it's empty... it's full of all the assignments I should have been doing... it's full of notices of events I wanted to go to, but have now missed.)

I suppose someone could psychoanalyze that, but the important thing to know is that I haven't had that dream for a very long time, so whatever feelings I had about missing out on something in college have subsided.

I must have gone to CPO at least five times a day when I was in college. There's no way this dream could have happened in reality. And, yeah, I went to college before email and texting and Facetime. CPO was the old Facebook homepage and the Student Union message board was where it was at.

Another recurring dream I've had is a common dream that many people have: I get to school/work and realize I forgot to wear an article of clothing. Except this dream did happen to me. For real:
I was working as an office manager at a psychological office. It was my first real job out of college that wasn't waitressing or retail. I decided I needed some professional looking clothes. I've never really been confident with fashion styles or comfortable with spending money on clothes. Not a good combination if you are 23, need to look professional, and don't know what you're doing.

Fortunately I had the Victoria's Secret catalog. Since I had given them a lot of business the previous year when I got married, I automatically got put on their mailing list. The catalog, unlike the stores, had clothes in addition to lingerie. Shopping the Victoria's Secret catalog was great because I didn't have to be around people, which is nice if you don't feel confident about your style. I poured over that catalog like a college text book, trying to figure out the best value. They were having a sale.
I decided that all I had to do, since I didn't know how to put outfits together very well, was to look at what the models were wearing and order the same outfit. If it looked good on them, then it must be a good outfit. I settled on a light brown linen skirt and blazer that looked great on the model.
No, it never entered my mind that the models were better endowed than I was, or that the outfits that they put together were not an appropriate wordrobe for a psychological office manager.
I got dressed that morning feeling pretty good about myself. Once at work, I noticed that not many people who came into my office to get a cup of coffee stayed to chat with me like they usually did. Except for Susan. 
She poured herself a cup of coffee and rested against the table opposite my desk. She small talked a little while before she said, "Anne, that's a nice outfit you have on today."
"Thanks," I said.
"Maybe next time you could wear a blouse under the blazer." She said it so deftly, I thought she was making a suggestion like "have you ever thought of wearing it with gold instead of silver? It would bring out the warm tones." It took me a minute to realize what she actually said was, "you forgot to wear a shirt."

In my defense, the model in the Victoria's Secret catalog had forgotten to wear a shirt, too.

I have lots of dreams:

I like to dream about what projects I can do next... painting, claying, knitting, soap-making, beading, photography, organizing my email inbox... I dream about someday having a space in our house where I can do those projects without having to put everything away in order to have dinner.

I dream about different projects around the house that involve tearing down walls and pulling up carpets... I like to dream these dreams with an IKEA catalog in my hands. 

I dream of one day becoming a deep cleaner... or of having a maid who is a deep cleaner. (Neither of those dreams is very likely to come true.)

I dream about writing a book someday. I don't know what it would be about. I don't know who would read it. But I dream about writing and someday even getting paid for it. That's one of the reasons I started this blog, so that I could practice my writing and maybe even find out what I want to write about. Someday. Maybe.

I dream of someday not feeling like I have to have an asterisk after my admission of being an art major. (I don't feel like I'm a real artist because...) I dream of filling my home with my own art... of overcoming my artistic fears... of hanging out with artsy people and feeling like I belong... of getting my creativity back.

I dream of vacationing in exotic places that I have never been. Of all inclusive resorts that I have only heard about. Of relaxing on a beach or on a mountainside, with a book and a drink and not a care in the world.

I dream of travelling to third world countries to see firsthand the cares of the world that I can only imagine. I dream of helping in any and every way I can. 

I dream of paying for marriage counselling for everyone who has the courage to ask me for the name of our marriage counselor.

I dream of someday talking in public without hyperventilating and developing bright red blotches on my neck.

I dream of opening a fair-trade/local-made boutique... or an art center... or both. Sometimes I dream of opening it in the downtown of a big city. Other times I dream of opening it in a picturesque village.

I dream of going green... of learning to garden... of not killing every single plant in my house.

I dream of my kids knowing God's love for them... of my husband knowing in the center of his heart the depth of my love for him. 

I dream of this blog-space being a place where I can encourage others, and be encouraged. Where I can find community.

I dream of not being afraid to reach out and find community in the community that I live in... of reaching out and creating community even when it feels uncomfortable.

I dream of being at home when my kids get home from school... and having popcorn popped for them, or warm chocolate chip cookies.

I dream of being a catalyst for good.

I dream of someday hearing Jesus say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Those are a few of the dreams I dream.

I have so many dreams that I don't have a single defining dream. If somebody asked me, "do you have a dream?" I wouldn't know what to say. I'd probably say, "I don't know... not really." Because that's easier than admitting I have so many dreams that I feel aimless.

That's why one of my words for this year is clarity. It's like right now I'm looking at my life with a wide angle lens and the subject of the photo is unclear because there are so many things vying for my attention. I want to focus in on one thing -- or two or three things. But to focus on just those three (or four) things and clarify what it is I am doing with my time right now. More importantly, what does God want me to focus on right now? 

I want to prioritize and be purposeful, intentional. Not to give up any of those other dreams, or any of the dreams that I didn't even list, but to realize that it's okay to not do everything all at once. There's a season for everything. And then, when I focus, maybe some of those dreams can become reality. 

But not in a "you forgot to wear your shirt" type of way. More like in a "free at last!" type of way.


<< my week in review: 1/11-17


This shout out from Jeannett last week made my day.

I spent all Saturday morning sitting on these (hard) wooden bleachers.

Watching this.

Sarah was in a dance team clinic on Friday and they performed at the intermission of the local competition on Saturday.
I tried to take a video of her, but there wasn't enough memory in my iPod.
I'm bummed that I didn't get a picture. 
Their routine was done before I could switch from video to camera.

Every time I see this sign I think:
"I want to apply... just to see if I'm awesome."

Saturday night game of Sequence.

Sometimes we'll give Reggie the empty containers to lick.
This one got stuck on his nose.
Yes, we have fun at his expense.

That's Kaitiln serving.
Sundays are volleyball tournament days.
They are also church days and small group days and youth group days.
Which makes our Sundays very full days.
Thankfully all of her tournaments are local.

Sarah got 20 brown envelopes in the mail on Monday.
One for each of the $50 shares of a house that she raised money for at Christmas time.
So glad for her heart to help others.
So glad for those of you who donated money to the cause.

I started collecting my story on the blog, starting with the story of my birth.

This is my view at work.
On Tuesday one of my 86 year old tenants was sitting on that couch and started having a seizure. 
I called 911 right away and sat with her until help came.
It was a little bit scary. I felt so helpless.
They took her to the hospital and she's okay now.
Turns out she just fainted, but you never know.

It made me think about life and how fleeting it is. 
Even 86 years is nothing.
And in the end, it won't matter if we are in low income housing or a dream retirement villa.
We all have the same end.

I came home from work to this one day this week.
The kids had found a bunch of videos from 2008.
There was very much laughing going on.
Oh my goodness! How did I keep a straight face back then?

Watch for yourself...

When I was working from home, I let them entertain themselves by making videos.
I'm so glad I did.
It was like finding a gold mine, seeing those videos again.
I had downloaded them to the computer and never did anything with them.
I think I'll need to be making some home movies.

Seeing them made me just a little bit sad to think how fast it goes.
Just four or five years.
They've changed so much since then.

I've started meeting with a young woman at church in sort of a mentor role.
She was in my small group and one of her prayer requests was for someone to pour into her.
So I volunteered.
We are going through a study on the fruits of the Spirit.
This week we're reading about peace.

God's peace is countercultural.
It defies our human understanding.
It guards our hearts and minds.
He is our peace when we trust Him.

That was my week in blurry Instagram photos.
How was your week?

I'm @annebickle on Instagram.
Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

life rearranged


The Very Beginning

Me, days old.
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." - Julie Andrews, in The Sound of Music

I'm not sure when it became a tradition in our house, but for as long as I can remember, when it's your birthday you can expect to be told the story of your birth. So I've heard the story of my birth many times. My husband and I have carried the tradition on with our kids. They protest profusely, but I am convinced they secretly love hearing their story, just like I did.

Here's my story.


Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ, was speaking at a nearby church that Sunday night. My parents had felt a pull on their hearts to help the church in communist countries since they had read God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew together, right after they were married. The book had been a gift for their wedding two years previous. Now they were excited for the opportunity to hear Richard Wurmbrand speak on a topic so close to their hearts. My dad was hoping to get some Q&A time with Wurmbrand, but sometime during the meeting my mom leaned over and whispered in his ear, "I think I'm having contractions."

She wasn't sure because she had just been to the doctor a couple days before. The doctor had assured her that the baby looked to be right on track for the November 3rd due date and would not be arriving early. So that evening on October 24th, she didn't think much of the pain she felt in her back. Until she realized the pain was coming and going at regular intervals.

When she told my dad her suspicion, he insisted they go to their own church, which was also having a Sunday night meeting, to get some prayer before the baby came. Their church was in the opposite direction of their home and hospital, but it was their first child and they wanted prayer. After the leaders of the church prayed for the labor and delivery, mom and dad went home and timed the contractions. Early on the morning of October 25th, around 2:00 am, they headed to the hospital for the big event.

When they got there, my dad was able to be with mom during the labor, but as she was taken to the delivery room, he was told that he could not be in the delivery room with her, which surprised them both. At the time it was not common for men to be in the delivery rooms. This doctor, however, had indicated to them that she was open to it. Disappointed he waited in the hallway. After some complications with the delivery, my mother yelled out in frustration, "I want my husband!" The doctor relented and let my dad in the delivery room.

I was coming out the wrong way, with my face turned up, chin first. They gave my mom some gas as the doctor got ready to reach in and turn me around. Being familiar with hospitals and surgery and anesthetic gasses, having assisted in many surgeries as a surgical technician, my mom knew that they don't give the mother gas unless there was something very wrong. As they put the gas mask over her nose, she felt a sense of dread. "Oh no!" she said just before she lost consciousness.

Dad stood there, helpless, watching, trying his best to comfort his wife even though he was afraid he might lose her. Mom came back to consciousness just in time to deliver the baby and felt a great sense of relief seeing her husband there in the delivery room with her. When I was born at 6:29 am, my dad didn't recognize that I was the baby at first, because I came out such a dark blue. Is the baby dead? he wondered.

It was uncomfortably silent in the delivery room. By giving my mother gas, the doctor had lowered the oxygen content in her blood, which in turn lowered the oxygen content flowing to the baby inside of her. That's why I was so blue when I was born, I didn't have enough oxygen.

The Apgar Score is a method of assessing the health of a newborn baby based on five criteria, zero being dead, ten being perfectly healthy. My initial Apgar score was one. They went to work right away trying to revive me. In fact, they didn't even tell my parents if I was a boy or girl. They only knew I was a girl because they heard the nurses  referring to "her" and "she." The first minutes after I was born were filled with anxiety, not celebration, although they were happy that at least I was alive. After a few minutes the anxiety subsided. My next Apgar score was nine. 

My dad, however, was still concerned. I looked deformed when I was born, not at all what he was expecting. My head was lopsided and my left eye was so scrunched that he had to look twice to make sure that it was even there, then asked the pediatrician to check it to make sure it was okay.

When they wheeled my mom to the recovery room, my dad went to the nursery. The nurses wheeled me over to the window so that he could have a better look. I looked to the left, to the right, then right at him and smiled. He felt such a great sense of relief and so much emotion that he hurried out to his car where he could be alone and weep for joy. He wept so hard that he hyperventilated and his jaw locked.

And, I think, he's probably been weeping ever since... for joy, of course.


Knowing this story of my birth has at times made me feel pretty special. I remember one time specifically. I was walking down my grandparents' wooden basement stairs and I slipped, but I caught myself and didn't get hurt. I remember thinking, "I could have died. Just like I almost died when I was born. God must have a special purpose for my life." I think I was probably eight years old at the time and a little over dramatic. I'm still wondering what that special purpose is that God has for me. I've decided that it was to bring my own children into the world.

Interestingly, knowing this story of my birth impacted my feelings about the whole process of giving birth. When I was pregnant with my first child, as the due date approached, I realized that I was very fearful of labor and delivery. I lived with the fear until it grew into a somewhat consuming thing. I finally worked up the courage to verbalize my fear and mentioned it to my mom. As I talked to her, I realized that the source of my fear was my own birth story. I knew that my own delivery had been difficult and I'd heard that often the birthing experiences are similar to your own mothers' experience.

"Oh, Anne! My labor with you was easy. Well, as easy as labor can be anyways. If you hadn't been turned the wrong direction, the delivery would have been an entirely different story, I'm sure. My other two labor and deliveries were fast. You really have no reason to fear. Embrace the pain." Her advice to embrace the pain has stuck with me. I even wrote one of my first posts about it

And so, the story of my birth is somewhat traumatic and painful. And yet at the same time full of joy and hope. Giving me a sense of God's hand on me throughout my life, even from the beginning. I used to think that meant that I had to do something special. Now I think it just means that God thinks I'm special, and that is good enough for me.


<< my week in review: 1/4-10

Where am I?

This dog.
In my bed, under my covers like a big hairy person. 
It caused me to scream a little bit.
Then my scream caused JD to giggle quite a bit lot.
He had snuck Reggie under my covers while I was getting ready for bed, 
completely oblivious to their scheming.
I didn't see him for a very long time, he was so lazy still.
When I finally found Reggie I was very surprised.
Real funny.

I had fun this week playing "where am I?" on Instagram.
It didn't matter what the picture was, John always left the following guess: 
HyVee (our local grocery store).

Where am I? 
(The athletic club.)
I've been here three times in one week.
Will miracles never cease?

Where am I? 
(The National Volleyball Center)
This is where I'll be spending a good many Sundays for a while.

Kaitlin's volleyball season has started.
Her team's name is "Apples"
I mean, really. Who named these teams?
It just feels funny to cheer for the Apples. You can't really shout it out and sound fiercely competitive.
"Go Apples!"
If our team has to be a fruit, I wish it were Bananas.
"Go Bananas!"

How do you like them Apples?
Between her games (or are they sets? or matches?) I got this picture.
All her besties on the same team.
I don't think they are going to have any fun this year.... do you?
Oma successfully photo-bombed the picture. 
John wasn't quite as successful in avoiding it.

One of my words for 2013 was clarify.
Among other things that I want to clarify, I want to clarify why I'm blogging.
There are so many good things out there to blog about, so many connections to be made.
But instead of aimlessly blogging about good things, 
I want to focus on one of the primary reasons I started this blog in the first place... collect my life stories.
So I started a series to keep myself accountable about collecting them.

John had a science class presentation this week on an experiment he conducted involving ice.
Remember the steak that Reggie ate last week?
It was while we ran to the store to get the presentation board and stuff.
This week I helped him cut out all the photos of the melting ice.

Where am I? 
(In line waiting for the drive-thru window, making the rent deposit for work.)

JD helped me figure out a schedule for working out, squeezed between my chauffeuring duties.
Except that on this particular night I was in my workout groove and completely forgot that I needed to pick up Kaitlin and her three friends from volleyball practice.
(sorry Kaitlin's friends' moms!)

Where am I? 
(Locked out of my office, that's where.)
I had to call the police to come let me in.

Sarah drew this.
I love it.
"Anyone can be a super modle!" 
"That's awesome, Sarah.... do you want to be a super model?"
"No, I just think that everyone is beautiful."
[my heart swells 10x it's normal size]

And Sarah made this little clay beagle while she was supposed to be getting ready for school.
"It's Buddy (Aunt Betty's dog)," she said, showing me.
"I just kinda made the head by accident, and then I thought, well, what if I make some ears? Then I made some legs. And... it's Buddy!"
I was too impressed with her creativity to be upset about her dillydallying.

God knows my heart. Even better than I do.
Not just the what is in there, but the why it's there.
I can't hide from Him. I tried to once. It didn't work.
He is so good and faithful and gracious to me.
Why would I want to hide from Him?

I'm @annebickle on Instagram.
Linking up with @jeannett for InstaFriday.

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