Apple Cake

October 20, 2015

Apple Cake | ROSEMARY WILD-1-5Apple Cake | ROSEMARY WILD-1-2I was sitting in our church home group listening to someone read a Psalm and thinking about God’s promises and answered prayer and years that are bitter and years that are sweet. This time last year I was giving birth to our fourth baby and moving further south after a year of upheaval and uncertainty and sometimes I think things hit you unexpectedly and in a whole new way. Seasons change, people change, but God. He is the same.

Apple Cake | ROSEMARY WILD-1-4I look around me this fall and feel grateful for this place I am in. For our health and our happiness and our babies that make us smile. For answered prayer that long went unanswered and for hard things that make us beautiful. I remember my friend telling me over a long-distance phone call that we need to stack answered prayer up like stones on a mountaintop and I’ve never let that picture out of my mind. It is important to make apple cake for friends and sit around the table counting our blessings.

Stacking our dishes like promises kept and prayers answered.

Apple Cake | ROSEMARY WILD-1-3 //GRANDMA’S APPLE CAKE

from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez

Makes one 8″

Unsalted butter, for the pan
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium-sized tart apples such as granny smith, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter or spray an 8″ round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar in a medium bowl. In another bowl whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the apples. Use a rubber spatula to fold all the ingredients together until combined. (The batter will be very thick.) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread until level, and place in the middle of the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before inverting and then cooling completely. This cake is best the day after it’s been baked. Wrap well in plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight.

To My Baby…You Changed Me

September 23, 2015

1443007890066  1443007731994  If you would have known me as a little girl growing up in the cornfields of Delaware, constructing houses out of scrap wood and branches in the woods, sewing clothes for doll babies, and checking out thick biographies on Princess Dianna at the library, you would know that I always wanted to be a mother. Since I can remember I have been surrounded by children. I taught piano lessons in my teenage years…nannied four children to pay for a year of college courses…and treated every one of the 12 siblings younger than me like they were my own.

1443007717369I got married at 19 and (almost) seamlessly we started our family really young. I have spent most of my twenties grappling with my identity. Who I am as a woman, but who I am as a mother. The two intertwine and weave together like threads on a quilt and I’ve been sewn into colors and patterns I would have never seen had I not experienced birth and death and rebirth in the last 8 years.

1443007700968I often wonder who I would be had I reversed the order of my life. Had there not been an Emma, a Shiloh, a Keller, and a Hugh, but a degree hung on the walls, pant suits and espressos at 8am meetings. I look back for some kind of plan to point to and marvel that each child has been born into vastly different time periods of my life. The afterbirth of my grandfather’s passing and the spoon-feeding of my grandmother in the nursing home. The house with the dirt crawl space in the living room and the blizzard in Oklahoma. I wonder if there are degrees for surviving loss and staying married and changing 2,459 diapers?

1443007543287My baby turns one today and although it feels like a huge milestone for our family and me in particular, I know that in time it will blend in with our story quilt like all of the other birthdays, and wake-up-in-heaven-days, and new places with new people and new stories. That this ebb and flow of life is actually our living being spent. And we spend every. single. day. on what we choose.1443007762845

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Untitled designI am no different than any other woman who has ever given birth to a child, but I am different because I gave birth to a baby Hugh in a Spartanburg hospital on a rainy Tuesday with my husband by my side after a long and hard 9 months. That his first cry was the floodgate to a year’s worth of tears and that my own personal doctorate had been accomplished in the school of life, whether I had the paper in my hand to wave or not. Hugh’s brand new, slow-blinking eyes reflected a different woman after that pregnancy and a different mother because God intertwines our stitches and our stories.

1443007680410While we celebrate Hugh’s little life today with Starbucks cake pops and 3 proud older siblings, we also celebrate the goodness of God in keeping us. In teaching us. In promises, truth, and sanctification. We celebrate the people we become when our lives are changed by another’s.

1443007482611That’s you, baby Hugh.

And we love you.

Feminism For A Christian

August 24, 2015
11233180_10152989271319633_1293603114880605861_nThe term feminism was often used in my house growing up as a dirty word that signified a period in our history where women stopped cooking dinner at night and no longer wanted to have children. Overly simplified, drastically understated. I spent my early twenties teeter tottering between the idea that women were just as capable as men and the idea that I had missed out. On opportunities. On a career. On the chance to make a difference in the world.

I married young (at 19) and we somewhat unexpectedly began a family right away. I found myself in the throws of marriage and mothering as a 20-year-old, while simultaneously figuring out life and how we were going to put food on the table. We got pregnant four times in the span of two-and-half years and sometimes we survived solely on the generosity of others who left groceries at our doorstep or lent us a vehicle when ours broke down. My husband worked three jobs trying to make ends meet and finish college and I spent most of my days at home alone with no vehicle and two young babies to care for. I delivered our third baby at almost thirteen weeks in the stall of a public bathroom.

The house we had bought and lived in was an absolute dump and we intended to fix it up with any spare change we saved. There was no floor in the living room and for several weeks we stared at the dirt of the crawl space. Winter came and because the house was old and not insulated well our electric bill arrived at over $600. Because we couldn’t afford that, we put the heat to the lowest setting we thought it could go without the pumps freezing over – about 55 degrees – and bought a space heater. For the rest of the winter all four of us lived in one of the bedrooms downstairs with a bathroom attached, only leaving to go get food out of the refrigerator or brush our teeth in the working kitchen sink. Meanwhile, I was pregnant again.

Until now, I have never felt the need to broadcast our humble beginnings. It seemed to me that my minor experiences of suffering were not of any comparison to the images I had seen in books of war-torn countries and the mass graves of the Jews during World War II or the slaves hung by rope on plantations. The way I saw things, if I had needed to call an ambulance to transport me while my husband worked with our only vehicle, I could. If I needed a drink, there was a working sink with uncontaminated water available in my kitchen. I could even pull ice out of the freezer.

Poverty, to me, is often perspective.

My views on feminism were being shaped during this time in my early twenties and I began relating to women who loved mothering but also felt called to shape the world with their ideas. I read anything I could get my hands on that related to business and writing and education. I was especially inspired by courageous women who saw needs in the world and addressed them. Women who knew their God-given gifts and used them not only on their families, but on the communities around them. My husband began noticing a spark and for the first time in our marriage I think he knew I was thriving. He helped me procure my LLC and I began my own photo-journalism business. I often woke up at 4am so that I could work while the kids were sleeping and stay at home with them during the day. I made mistakes and fell flat on my face plenty of times but I was learning, growing, writing, and turning into a grown woman. It felt amazing to be heard.

Fast forward to 2015. I dressed my four children to attend a Protest Planned Parenthood event in Marietta, GA and drew up signs while I explained to my older girls where we were going and what we were doing. “We’re going to stand and make a statement, girls. We’re going to tell the world that it is not okay for doctors to kill babies in their mother’s bellies. And I want you to remember something – it is important to use your voice, in whatever way you can, to stand for what is right.” 

We stood there together for over an hour and Emma looked at our baby Hugh and said, “Mommy, I’m glad the doctors didn’t kill our baby.” I thought about the long trail of women before me who have stood for what is right. The Susan B. Anthony’s and the Florence Nightingales and the Mother Teresa’s who used their voices to protect humanity, not destroy.

I thought about the Margaret Sangers and the President Obama’s who have lobbied “for women’s rights” and passed laws legalizing the death of thousands upon thousands of innocent babies. (Our President has even supported the right of doctors to pull a baby out, all but the head, and then suck the brains out, and deliver the child dead, so it can be called an abortion, and not infanticide.)

I thought about the bravery of the people who took the secret videos of Planned Parenthood joking about purchasing Lamborghini’s with the money made from arms and legs and heads of aborted infants. I thought of the woman who described the moment she decided she could no longer work for PP when her colleague said,

“’Holly, come over here. I want you to see something kinda cool.’ So Holly (speaking on the video) goes over and sees a fully intact, manifestly human, baby, delivered by abortion. And the technician says to Holly, “Okay, I want to show you something.’ So she taps the heart with one of her instruments, and the heart starts beating.”

“Kinda cool.”*


Do you hear the facts? Have you forced yourself to watch the videos?

Fellow women, you have been duped with claims of mammograms and birth control and maternal care. You have been lied to over and over again and told that it is your well-being that an organization like Planned Parenthood exists. When will you sift through the carefully calculated lies that prove we, as women, are stupidly shut down with a color-coded pie chart, a friendly website, and a pamphlet in hand?

Organizations like Planned Parenthood exist not to protect you, but to make money off of you.

To the women who want to say something or do something, but are afraid they will get told they’ve never experienced poverty or rape or incest so they can’t possibly understand, WAKE UP. Do not hide behind you husbands, your pastors, your law makers and tell yourselves, “They will make change happen.”

You make change happen. Do not quiet your voices and suppress your opinions, but speak out with courage and conviction.

We live in an age where the road has been paved before us with many women willing to be used by God to make a difference in the world. You do not have to have a career, a degree, or a “right” to identify with those considering abortions. Simply use your voice, right where you are, to love mercifully as Jesus did, and stand for truth.

That is a feminism I can stand behind.

  1. *Excerpt from Desiring God.

SOCCER MOM

July 20, 2015

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1437414802659 1437414848263 1437414936397 1437414987170Steven and I are so not the sporty types, but we are working on giving our children a well-rounded scope of life. Thus, soccer this past spring. It took all of three weeks for my competitive juices to kick in and I couldn’t sit idly by while three and four-year-olds wandered off the field. If you can picture a mum with a baby on her hip yelling out instructions during practices, much to no one’s embarrassment because the girls were off in a field picking flowers and all the mums were talking respectively behind the sidelines, then you’ve got me pegged. (Oddly enough, Steven never wanted to meet me on the fields and the coaches never looked in my direction.)

It took 6 games before Keller realized it is okay to steal the ball from the other team, and we maaaaaay have bribed him with ice cream to get that far, but on the last game of the season that we were in town for, he SCORED. While in the middle of jumping up and down and yelling it totally hit me.

I am a soccer mom.

HUGH ELLIOTT

July 12, 2015

ANC_4299ANC_4286ANC_4386 ANC_4390ANC_4364I ANC_4362I ANC_4355I ANC_4348 ANC_4332 ANC_4315 ANC_4309Untitled designHugh Elliott was born September 23rd in a warm and cozy South Carolina hospital on a cold and rainy day. He came into this world after a long and hard year for our family and his birth will always signify to me that God is good, even in the midst of the storm. Although he is now 9 months old, I look back through these photographs and can’t help but smile. There was an unmistakeable joy that radiated in the room when we welcomed this much-anticipated little one into our family of six. We had been waiting and planning and praying so hard for his arrival and we were beside ourselves with happiness. With discharge papers in hand, we moved from SC to the suburbs of Atlanta, GA, stopping midway to feed our new bundle. My sister made the drive with us and when we finally made it to our new home I think we all sighed a big sigh of relief. We had made it! And although I was in the worst shape I’ve ever been in in my life, I felt like I had just run a marathon. Over the next few weeks we finished unpacking our boxes and my sweet sister took care of the older three so that Hugh and I could rest. I laid in bed and soaked up the newborn smell and and the tiny little clothes and the soft, downy skin. Hard things do indeed come to an end and the respite is oh so sweet.

Baby Hugh, you have been such a light in my life. Thank you for being my sweet bébé. I pray all of the time that God would help me be the mother I need to be for you. You have been the comfort and joy to my heart in the last few months and I will forever be grateful God wrote you into our story.