Monthly Archives: August 2011

My body is not ruined.

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My body is not ruined.

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As fall approaches, and Charlotte gets closer to her first birthday (just 4 more months!) I am getting more and more frustrated by my body. I still look pregnant. People still ask me if I am pregnant. My legs are thin again, my arms are on their way… my stomach is huge. What the heck?! I look at myself in the mirror and I think destructive thoughts like “my body is ruined.”

But it isn’t! From now on I am going to be kind to my body because my body is awesome. I successfully carried two (count them – 2) babies over 11 pounds back to back in this awesome body. I nursed my son while pregnant with my daughter in this body. I delivered both of my enormous children naturally with this body. This body is a safe haven. This body is nourishment. This body totally rocks.

So, I think I can handle the stretch marks that go from eyebrows to 7 inches into the ground of wherever I stand, and the stomach whose muscle walls are torn and need time to repair, and even the dreaded “are you pregnant?” from strangers and acquaintances alike. It’s ok, I’ll be fine. This isn’t cancer or some other terrible disease that really does try to ruin the body. This is leftovers. And I can handle it.

*p.s. In case you were wondering, no I’m not pregnant.

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Janet Patricia’s (My mama) cinnamon rolls

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2 things about my mom that you should know: her cinnamon rolls are out of this world and she can do the funky chicken. If you live in MD and know my mother, please ask her to do the funky chicken, it is a thing of beauty. If you live in NC and know me, please ask me to make you these cinnamon rolls, because they are gorgeous as well. I was a little nervous about making these for the first time because I was afraid they wouldn’t turn out as well as hers. Mine are different, it’s true, but I think they are every bit as good. I brought them to a girl friends house last night and they were a hit. Hope you try them at home as well!

To make the dough, add these ingredients to your bread maker, select the dough cycle. This should take about an hour to make:

1 cup water

2 Tablespoons softened butter

1 egg

3 1/3 cups Better for Bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons bread machine yeast/ quick-acting active dry yeast

When the dough is done grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Flatten dough with hands or rolling-pin into about 18 x 9 inch rectangle on lightly floured surface.

Spread with 2 Tablespoons softened butter and then sprinkle with 2 Teaspoons ground and 1/3 cup sugar mixed together.

Roll up tightly.Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Cut rolls into 1 inch slices and put them in your greased 13 x 9 pan.

Cover them with a towel and let them rise in warm place for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until they double in size.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

While they are cooling, mix together:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp milk

4 oz cream cheese

If this consistency isn’t right to you, play with the numbers a bit. I made my own variation last night and didn’t measure anything, so do what looks and tastes right to you.

And there you have it! My mom’s awesome cinnamon rolls with my own yummy twist on them! Now you just need to learn how to do the funky chicken. xo

I think I may survive

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Today I was recounting to Matt some of the sweet things that the kids did and it hit me – I survived! We’ve had a rocky year or so but it’s just getting better all the time. The end of my pregnancy with Charlotte was tough because Jack was just starting to walk and I was just chasing that kid all over the place while being pregnant with a big old baby and I was EXHAUSTED. Charlotte had reflux and was colicky her first three months and Jack was just wild so I was EXHAUSTED. After Charley hit 3 months I felt like I was doing better but I was still really tired all the time, just able to function. Then when Charley hit 6 months I realized I was even better. A bona-fide member of society that could contribute to other people’s lives. At 7 months, I could regularly go out by myself with both kids without losing my mind. And now, here we are at 8 months and I feel like we are fine. I feel like myself.

Jack is almost 2 and will be starting a 3 day preschool program in  a week. He is still wild, but he is listening so much better. He is becoming gentler. He is so smart and he absolutely adores doing art work. He has original thoughts, tells jokes that no one else can understand but he finds hilarious, and loves to kiss and cuddle in between playing fireman. He is full of joy and fun to be around. Jack just really loves life.

Charlotte Jane is nearly 8 months. She is sitting steadily on her own, and loves to play independently. She is a world-class snuggler and loves to be held close and gives sloppy kisses. She thinks everything that her brother does is the best. She eats food voraciously and nurses intently. When she smiles her big brown eyes crinkle up and your heart drip melts. She is so sweet, and when she is around everything in affected by her sweetness.

I see these two beautiful beings, and I am just so freaking grateful that they are a part of my family. I am so grateful that the immobilizing exhaustion seems to have passed. I am so grateful for the fact that they are so close together and that I don’t have to do that again. I made it!!!*

*until they are teenagers at the same time.

Who am I?

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One of the things that I love about my Pastor is that he is vulnerable with us when he preaches. He is a man of incredible confidence in his work, a man who is not afraid to say who he is and what he is called to do, but who will let us into his heart and let us see the process that led up to his confidence. Tonight he read us a letter titled “I am a Preacher” that he wrote during a time when he had so much swirling through his brain and just needed to release it and organize his thoughts. It was truly beautiful. What I loved the most about it is that he pointed out the things that he does that he wished he didn’t, the things that he is unapologetically called to and the things that he hopes for.

The letter has gotten me to thinking about who I am. I know the things that I am good at and the things that I am striving for but if I had to put a name on myself, a title… what would it be? My hats are many and varied. Some of them have easy titles: Mother. Wife. Friend. Some of them are hard to define: I love people well. I pray often. I listen to people. I set pretty good boundaries. I facilitate community. I feed people, and I do it with my whole heart. I love kids. All of these things are swirling around in my head, and none of them have a clear title, like “Preacher” that I can define myself as. “Lover” is the closest that I can find, but even that seems too abstract, after all, we are all called to love… so who am I specifically? I plan to spend some time thinking about this, praying about this, and asking God for a title. Once I have one, I am going to write a letter like Jonathan’s, a letter to remind myself and confirm to myself who I am and what it is that I do. To sharpen my vision. And I am so stoked about it.

Have you ever thought about who you are? A title for yourself? I am not talking about a prestigious title, after all… who cares? We’re all a part of the same Body, and none are more important to God than the other. I just mean a title for yourself. So that you can sharpen your natural skill set and hone the ones that are forming gradually. I will let you know when I have found mine.

 

p.s. Read my pastor’s beautiful letter here

Communion

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Communion

Today is communion bread baking day. I love and treasure this day every month. I count it as sacred, as holy.

When I first started baking the communion bread for Renovatus I kept it a secret from pretty much everyone. I felt like the magic that turns grain to sacrament was way too holy to be made in my kitchen, I questioned the sacredness of this bread if it was going to be made by me. I wondered if I needed to pray over this bread in a certain way. While this secret of where our communion bread came from remained in me, I felt like I was safe to work these things out.  And then one day, quite unexpectedly, I got called out by my pastor’s wife Amanda during a beautiful sermon that she gave on the act of taking communion. I felt bare, exposed. I was wondering if people were going to make a huge deal out of it and I’d have to struggle with my pride or if people were going to be shocked and appalled that the bread for this most sacred ritual was made by me. I sweated it out for a couple of days and then… nothing. A few people thanked me, a few people teased me, but no one got out their pitch fork or their foot washing serum. I was just Meghan Murray, serving the Body in the same way that they all do.

Now, I enjoy the beauty of preparing this magical meal for my Family. I know that the holiness doesn’t come from the one who bakes the bread, but rather from the one who is the Bread. I know that I am serving the Body in the same capacity as our nursery workers, as our welcome team, our cleaning team, our pastors. That we all have a job to do in this Body. Some are done on stage, some in an office, some in a kitchen. All are valuable. All are beautiful. All are for the benefit of the body.

Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people. Colossians 3:23

Matthew F.N. Murray

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I have told precisely 3 people about this blog now and I am already feeling pressure. Pressure to write something good, but not to heavy, not too light. I am completely and udderly ridiculous. I know this. I have decided to just write about what I love today, and the first thing that popped into my head is Matt. (And chocolate.) So, if you have a sensitive gag reflex, please skip this post.

I love:

Your long eyelashes*Your sense of humor*The joy that being a father gives you*How rough you and Jack play*How gentle you are with Charlotte Jane*How much you appreciate my cooking*How you get sad if it’s been a few days since I made bread*That if I text you in the middle of the day to say it’s a hard one, you do whatever it takes at home to make my day easier* Your level head* Your wisdom* That you are a runner* That you always accidentally buy me dead flowers and never have any idea* That you randomly but regularly buy me greeting cards* That you are determined to provide for us* That you are supportive* That you are quick to apologize when you are wrong (usually)* That you love Renovatus as much as me, and are dedicated to her* That you love the Yancey’s as much as me, and are dedicated to them* That you understand how important Megan T is to me and never mind our long phone conversations* How all babies love you, instantly* That you kind of look like Joe from Blue’s Clues* How encouraging you are* What a strong work ethic you have* The way that you say “come ooooon” when I am being ridiculous* You deep voice* How you can’t really tell a difference when I get my hair cut or dyed but you pretend that you can* How you can quote almost any movie, especially dumb ones* The vast array of book subjects that you devour on a daily basis* When you imitate my voice* The way you tease me* The way you love me*

You are a gentleman and a scholar, Matt Murray, and I love you for it.

No words today

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Today, I have no words. A 3-year-old drowned in my town. A 3-year-old boy whose family I know and I love. He was with his grandmother, he was being well taken care of and just in an instant he found his way outside to the baby pool and lost his life. I don’t know how to work this out in my head. His grandmother is such a strong and loving woman. She watched children in her home for a living until recently and yet a life was lost in her home today, and it was the one that probably mattered most to her.

Today all of my heart and my prayers are focused on this family who has suffered what no one should ever have to suffer.