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Karma

Caleb has no chill when it comes to having babies.

NO CHILL.

We’ve had a lot of well-meaning people say to us “Oh I hope it’s boys. You need more sons! Caleb deserves more boys!”

Well let me tell something to you.

If there’s one thing in the whole wide world my husband deserves, it’s daughters.

I love him, and he’s a changed man, but he was a player for far too long, and a scoundrel one too many times, and it’s come back to bite him right in the freakin’ face.

This man deserves all the girls.

Karma is not a bitch; she’s a pretty little freckle-faced ninth-grader who just figured out boys exist.

Karma is a psycho 3-year-old with wild blond curls and ice blue eyes, who wants to drink cranberry juice from a Minnie Mouse cup on the way to the ballpark in a ballerina tutu.

Karma is a delightfully adorable, smiley, sparkly-eyed little baby who snuggles her daddy’s scratchy chin and coos and kisses and basically reigns supreme and gets everything she wants with her sweetness.

Karma is also a 38-year old woman who can’t stomach her coffee because she’s pregnant with twins. (So, maybe Karma is a little bit of a Krusty Krab.)

Caleb deserves to be there for every heartbreak, for every victory, for every single solitary daughter-unique issue that may crop up over the course of the next forever. I love watching him with our children. He’s a good dad to girls.

Plus we do have a son–and if that’s the only son we ever have, Merrick’s the best of the bunch.

And if God so wills it for our family, we will have babies who arrive alive; whether they are sons or daughters is not something I’m so concerned with. I will be so happy to welcome any combination of kiddos, and if it happens to be a set of daughters, we all know why.

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the day my head exploded

Well. I tried. I tried so hard to not say anything. I really did.

You guys I’m all about government officials creating foreign policy based on what they believe is in the country’s best interest. I’m not saying I always agree with it, but I can at least try to respect a decision made for honest reasons. (Unless the decision is completely evil, like separating children and parents and locking people in cages.) Also?

DON’T👏🏻USE👏🏻THE👏🏻BIBLE👏🏻TO👏🏻SUPPORT👏🏻THINGS👏🏻JESUS👏🏻WOULD👏🏻NEVER👏🏻EVER👏🏻HAVE👏🏻US👏🏻DO.👏🏻

Not a fan of Sarah Sanders and the Trump administration’s claims that they’re separating families at the US/Mexico border because its “very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.” Or Jeff Sessions’ little chestnut from the book of Romans about government officials being ordained by God for the purpose of order.

Ohhhh Kill me. DEAD.

I cannot with White House folk quoting scripture and falling back on “Christian principals” in order to defend the cruelty of the policies they created.

2 things: God gave us the words in the Bible. But because words just couldn’t cover everything, he gave us the Word Made Flesh: Jesus Christ. And that guy? Would not be too pleased about children and parents being treated the way our country is treating them. Cause, you know, that whole thing about every person being made in the image of God (however illegal). And the story of the Good Samaritan. And also the Beatitudes, plus the entire Sermon on the mount.

A god that condones the separation of children from their parents, or a god who turns away thousands of people fleeing their homes who are desperate to escape the tyranny and danger of their own country?

Is not my God.

Come to think of it, there’s not a verse in the Bible where Jesus says “Treat people like animals if that’s what the law requires, because Caesar is Lord over Me plus it’s in the OT. Why am I even here again?Geez, it’s almost like you guys need Me to show you a different way to live.”

And if we can’t take Jesus’s word for it, let’s reflect on the book of James. Chapter 1 verse 27 says “Pure and undefined religion in the sight of God is this: to look after orphans and widows in their time of need, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

“To look after orphans and widows”–I think it goes without saying that we’re meant to take care of all people in distress, no matter where they come from. I definitely don’t need the government to measure my obedience to Christ based on whether or not I agree with their heinous laws and practices.

And let’s talk about about James 2:13: “Judgement will be merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.”

MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGEMENT.

The Bible is super convenient when we can quote a verse that suits our purposes. But what about the really hard verses that tell us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us? The chapters upon chapters and books upon books speaking out against injustice and against the satanic forces at work through the super powers of the day and age? What about lessons on forgiveness, and of turning the other cheek?

If we’re quoting the Bible for any reason, we can’t forget that Jesus was the embodiment of God’s loving grace and mercy. We must realize that we are the Romans, wielding our weapons and flaunting our power and sacrificing our humanity in the name of national security.

We must always remember that Jesus’s death on the cross points us to a newand better way: love.


Shoot People Say When You Have 2000 Children

It has been an interesting summer vacation so far. Not only did we find out we will be welcoming another McNugget into the family, we found out we were welcoming 2! This is as exciting as it gets around here, minus the time I thought we had killer bees in the attic. Twins! It’s a shocking thing, for anybody. I’ve discovered that people don’t always know what to say, which is fine since I myself don’t know quite what to even think most of the time.

Here are some of the most common conversation topics I’ve covered with loved ones, friends, and vague acquaintances over the past couple weeks.

•”You know what causes that, right?” –I think the answer to this extremely original question is clear: I know exactly what causes that, and I am obviously more than skilled at it. I don’t know how else to go about answering this question, and if you think the majority of people ask it jokingly or rhetorically, you’d be wrong.

•”Did you mean to have twins? Were you doing any fertility treatments?” –…I just have to smile and shake my head “no”. Because there are way too many of my friends who have sought medical assistance to conceive children, and I would hate to disrespect their journeys by writing this question off as absurd or thoughtless.

•”6 kids is too many.” –this person is right. I wonder what they’d say about seven kids.

•”I think more education and travel would solve your dilemma.” –Rude and hurtful statement made by a childless someone who clearly knows very little about me. Also, my children are not dilemmas. They are awesome and no amount of education or travel will make me change my mind about that.

•”How are you going to afford six kids?” –This is the question of the century and it is actually a very valid one. I don’t have a solid plan on paper yet (other than our detailed, non-negotiable family budget). I imagine I will not be buying anyone the latest iPhone, or IPad or tablet or laptop or PsXBox560D, or sending them all off to multiple sports camps throughout the summer. I hope they’ll survive those hardships because they’ll also have to worry about not getting a brand new Nike wardrobe upon the changing of every season. My hope is that by simply providing a loving home, and meeting their physical needs, and–this is a long shot, but what the hey–connecting with them rather than buying them all the things–they will grow up to be emotionally fulfilled, intelligent, Jesus-loving human beings who contribute positively to society. Fingers crossed.

•”But…Food?” –I know. I know. My kids are half-locust, so the grocery bill is a concern. So, while their friends snarf Sonic and Subway eighty times a week, nutritious home cooked meals is a disadvantage we will all have to live with. I am sad to report that Lunchables have never been a thing in our family and we haven’t starved yet, though my children have had to suffer through life with the brown-bag standard of peanut butter-on whole wheat sandwiches plus an apple for lunch everyday. We got eggs and bananas? We got ourselves breakfast. If we can afford Dr. Pepper and Chips Ahoy, we can afford carrots and broccoli. Plus I make a ridonk spaghetti-and-tomato sauce from scratch.

•”You’re just gonna send them off to fend for themselves after high school? What about college? It’s expensive!”: —I hear you amigo. Community Colleges, scholarships, and student loans exist for a reason; I know this because Caleb and I had the exquisite privilege of paying for our own continuing education, and we are better for the hard work we put in. They are welcome and encouraged to live at home to save money while they work and go to school. Of course, we want to help a little when we can, but that help will not come in the form of a free ride. Ever.

•”What about the baby stuff?”: –Poor Lucy never even had a stroller that went with her infant carrier. I can’t speak of it without tearing up. I’m just kidding, she was carried everywhere and she loves her life and so does everyone else. Breastfeeding is free and super fun. Ditto for cloth diapering and hand-me-downs. The crib she sleeps in is the same crib Cheyenne, Mia Merrick, and Arbor slept in: bought at a garage sale in 1996 for $50. Talk about bang for your buck! I hope this deprived babyhood didn’t make any of them feel feel neglected or unloved.

•”Hey Toni, I’m just concerned about your health. Pregnancy has not traditionally been easy on your body.” –YOU, my friend, are an absolute gem and I love you. This is quite possibly the only concern that needs to be voiced as far as adding to my family goes; and I appreciate the fact that you care enough to bring it up. Pregnancy has sucked in the past. I wasn’t sure I was up for it one more time around…and yet here we are, entering the second trimester without so much as one visit to the ER; I only just two weeks ago saw my own regular doctor for pregnancy stuff for the very first time. I consider this a blessing and there isn’t one day that goes by that I’m not thankful in the depths of my heart for the miracles in my belly, and for the physical ease of carrying those lives. God be praised.

•”Twins! What are you gonna name them?” –I mean, yeah it’s still pretty early on in the game to assume I’ve got anything nailed down yet. And since I’m petty, I just don’t share names this soon. Let me just say that our boy choices have always tended to lean toward the vaguely Scottish with a hint of Science-fiction/Fantasy; our taste in girls’ names are literally all over the board, but default to old-fashioned, obscure spiritual hippy.

Well, that’s the pregnancy update for week 12-13 (I left the doctor’s office in such a daze that I forgot to ask when my actual due date was.)


Breathing again

I’ve recovered.

Just kidding, I’m still totally in shock; but I have finally realized that I’m not going to wake up and have it be Wednesday again, and my whole doctor’s appointment/ultrasound was real, and there are two babies in my tummy.

Twins–as far as I know–don’t run in my family. But then again, I don’t know anything because I’m adopted and my biological mother who I know very little about (medically) was also adopted, sooooo…

These little yahoos are conveniently separated in their own little pouches with their own little nutrient packs; I assume that means fraternal twins but I’m new to the twin game so I could be wrong.

And I think I’m just old, y’all. I’m almost 38 and I be droppin’ eggs like it’s goin’ outta style. I should have seen this coming back when Caleb sweet talked me into trying for just one more (“I just love being a parent with you, I just love the children we make, I just love having a big famileeeee.”) I figured we could just see what happens over a short, 2-month span of time; in all honesty and likelihood, a baby shouldn’t have been something my body was up for–so sure of this “fact” was I, I went ahead and committed to a half marathon in November. And, on the off-chance I did get pregnant? Well, that was future Toni’s problem.

Note:I have always spent far too little time worrying about future Toni.

Future Toni is here and she is sick and fatigued like she’s never been before. She’s cranky, and emotional, too. Today she literally cried because someone ate all the croutons. What the actual?

The kids are over the moon excited. Caleb is so ridiculously thrilled that it almost makes me mad; I feel like there should be an element of fear in this. How am I the only one in my family to recognize that? Do they not remember what a gem I was at nine months pregnant? Does anyone else realize we will have 4 kids under 5 years old, plus two older ones playing all the ball? How do women with more than one small child manage to brush their teeth and get dressed? The day-to-day logistics of newborn twins plus an 18-month-old plus Cat 5 Hurricane Arbor are a nightmare.

I can’t with this.

I mean, I can, but I’m scared as hell and it is warranted.

This is 11-12 weeks with twins: Dang kids be eating all my croutons. Just straight out the bag like chips, not even on a salad. I’m tryna be healthy and feed some babies some freakin’ lettuce and I can’t even do it now without gagging. Yeah I ate that salad, but it was gross.

On the bright side I’ve had a really good time coming up with twin names.


Lucky 7

Well…the rumors are true. And since my family has told literally everyone they can think of in the past hour alone, I may as well come clean.

I am not getting the stilts I wanted for my birthday. No birthday stilts y’all. It sucks. But…

I’m pregnant.

Yes, on purpose.

I know what causes that.

I know how to prevent it.

And we were prepared. We even got the new car that we’ve been needing since we had Lucy.

I can tote a neighborhood now.

I’m pumped. We’re 10-ish weeks in and I’ve been pleasantly problem-free. I even killed a 6-mile leg of a marathon and broke my record time during a particular section of pregnancy that has not historically been easy for me; Bed Rest Toni usually reigns over the first trimester, but this time? I’ve been running and hiking and swimming and lifting ALL the things without so much as a cautionary call to the doctor. In fact, my doctor has been refreshingly unconcerned with my non-high-risk self and I haven’t had to see her one bit.

Until today.

I’m starving and exhausted and intensely nauseas; this morning I spotted ever so slightly so I got a complimentary early ultrasound (jk, it was mos def NOT complimentary) at my doctor’s visit.

And.

I’m at a complete loss for words.

Because, twins.


At All Times

Yesterday my daughter was involved in an incident at school. Without going into detail, she was rightfully ashamed of the part she played in it, and my whole family learned a hard lesson of how hurtful gossiping always is.

The situation surprisingly zoomed me into a headspace I haven’t occupied since I was fifteen and pregnant, and suddenly it was flashback Friday except on a Monday, and I was walking down the halls at high school with a bulging belly; hearing the whispers, pretending to ignore the sneers from people who didn’t even know me. Everyone seemed to have one inaccurate version or another of my story. Except for one true friend, I felt alone. I was never outright bullied, but I felt judged, scared and ashamed everyday for the next three years–because of what some people considered “harmless” gossip.

I know my daughter, and I know that the thought of being the person that brings pain upon anyone else is greatly upsetting to her–as it should be–and yet here we are. A word of wisdom to young girls: the cattiness never ends. I know grown women who find so much satisfaction in talking about other people’s problems. The truth is that there is no such thing as harmless gossip. What might start out as meaningless conversation about something-not-yer-business can quickly become a passionate discussion (usually filled with non-facts) which can then escalate into bullying in the blink of an eye. And yes–grownup bullies exist.

It’s ridiculous.

I could quote verses in the Bible that say “don’t be a jerk” or “God is displeased with petty gossip” or “y’all all better stop with talking about people behind they backs”, but instead,

Because a true friend does love at all times.

Loving someone does not involve whispering about them as they walk down the hallway, nor does it intentionally set out to make them feel horrible about themselves for any reason.

“But I’m not friends with that girl so who cares?” I’m not shocked to report that most people don’t consider gossip to be a big deal whatsoever especially when it’s about people they don’t care about. But that’s like saying “Who cares if I fire this gun as long as the bullet isn’t hitting someone I know?”

Something I’ve learned about gossip from my own experiences (from being gossiped about and from gossiping about others–shame on me) is that to participate in it, you actively devalue and dehumanize the person you’re talking about. Their feelings? Don’t matter. Their side of the story? Doesn’t matter. After a time, the actual truth doesn’t even matter. All of this is wrong considering that each of us was literally made by God in God’s image.

That 15-year-old pregnant girl who you just called a stupid whore who’s desperate to keep her boyfriend? Is a straight-A student who had sex one time with the boyfriend who she’s in a committed relationship with, and she’s holding back tears every single day on the back of the bus, and crying into her pillow after school because her own father can’t even look her in the eye anymore. And words hurt. And people are mean. And a smile from one kind person can make her terrible day just a little better.

Gossiping is always personal.

I’m embarrassed to admit how often I find myself in the middle of drama I shouldn’t be remotely involved in. It happens less and less with age and maturity, but I’m not dead yet so I will always understand the struggle.

It’s our duty to protect those who are smaller and weaker than us. It is our job to stand up for those who can’t defend themselves. It is not okay to purposefully to hurt someone, physically or emotionally, or any other -ally.

You will never regret being kind, but cruelty damages your own heart as well as the hearts around you.

Girls, we belong to each other. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone messes up. Sometimes we do or say the wrong thing. Nobody is perfect. Show grace. Take care of each other. Be the friend that loves.


The Pearl-Clutching Confessions of a Baptist Catholic

I’m a godmother. And this is legitness:

I mean.

Caleb has indeed been walking around demanding we kiss his ring but no one really respects him without a twirly chair and a cat, so we are left without all the god-parenting bells and whistles to contemplate the actual spiritual guiding of a small child’s soul.

Already I am concerned on a number of levels for this kid because his parents chose us, of all people.

I know that just by saying that I’m a godparent to my Catholic nephew, I’m opening up a scandalous can of blasphemin’ worms among certain church folk. But here’s a fun thing that’s guaranteed to get me expelled from the fellowship hall forever: I don’t actually believe anything different about Jesus now than I did when I was 16 years old and eyeballs-deep in Roman Catholicism.

I loved Him then and I love Him today; I know He died for me and that apart from Him I am lost, no matter my good works and intentions. I do not know another true believer of any denomination that doesn’t grasp these basic concepts, though I do know plenty of posers in churches of all kinds.

This needs to be said: not all Christians are of the Oklahomus white evangelicalus variety.

Now, personally, I have been blessed to experience God’s undeniable power and presence within a Baptist community. For me, this environment has been spiritually conducive to the strengthening of my faith. I’ve learned so much more about the Bible, and the history of The Church, and the miracles of Jesus (both past and present), in the past ten years than I did in the first quarter of my life; I’ve been intentionally and lovingly discipled by some of the most faithful people I’ve ever had the blessing to know. I’ve been so, so grateful for the teaching and the mentorship I’ve received within the walls of my church. And I’m even more grateful for the way God continues to reveal Himself through the relationships that have developed there.

Can I admit, though, that I have attended, at times, both Catholic masses and Baptist services with the wrong heart? There have been so many Sundays where I have walked in the door of a church and walked out unchanged, or worse–hardened.

Because it is not Southern Baptist theology that saves me, any more than Catholicism did not. It isn’t any pastor or priest or Sunday school teacher or small groups’ leader that determines whether or not I am in right-standing with God; it is Jesus and Jesus alone that saves me, day in and day out, in this world and in the next.

Jesus, only Jesus.

At the end of the day, when all the books have been read and the verses have been memorized, the sacraments have been received and the people have prayed and the casseroles done been ate…I hope I am filled with a love for Jesus rather than a love for the comfort of what I’m used to.

I hope I am filled with an excitement for Jesus Himself rather than chasing a spiritual high through the next novel idea or latest book.

I hope I help people in my community to discover a love for Him and for His church (you know, the big fat bride of Christ that spans the globe, faithfully worshiping in their own unique but God-honoring, Christ-exalting way.)

I hope that I seek to see people as God sees them–I hope my heart breaks over their pain and leaps with their joy.

I hope I can communicate even a small fraction of how much He loves them.

I hope my sweet nephew grows up in the sort of faith-nurturing environment I’ve been able to experience. I hope we are both forever learning lessons of love. I hope God inspires him and guides him and builds him, and I hope I can be a worthy part of his journey.

Happy…Baptism(?) Little Easton. Here’s to the beginning of a life marked with the love of Christ. May God bless you and keep you.


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