Faint Not Mom

Be Encouraged. Be Creative. Be Yourself.

This is a blog by Joanna Appel about living a life of faith as a mother and an artist. Following Jesus in the midst of crazy, messy, life is hard.  We all need people to come alongside us, to inspire and encourage us.  Faint Not, World!  You are not alone!

Here's To You

A Birthday Toast to The Appel Twins


We have developed a strange ritual in our family. We like to ‘cheers’ with each other. In the morning, we give our boys their sippy-cups full of milk and Tom and I have our coffees, and we go from crib to crib to crib, ‘cheers’-ing with each other. We have had to train the boys, mind you, not to use full force when they hit our cups of coffee, since Tom and I do not drink from sippy cups. We also cheers with our food sometimes as a motivational tool to get a boy over the hump of eating something new. “Reuben, try some mashed potatoes.” “I don’t want to.” “Come on, try some. I’ll cheers with you…” “Ok!”. I think it is a part of us saying to each other, “Hey, we are in this together. I want to connect with you. I want to celebrate you. (AND your food already).”

Today, my twin sons turn three. And I want to raise my virtual glass, cup of coffee, or I guess my computer, to give them a birthday toast. When someone gives a toast at a wedding, an awards dinner or some sort of celebratory event, it gives a wide audience a glimpse into just some of the things that make that person special and worth all the attention that a toast requires. You get to have just such a glimpse today for Reuben and Eleazar. So get out your mugs, steins and stemware and raise a glass with me to the Appel Twins.

Here’s to you, Reuben! You are a boy who knows who you are. Even in the womb, you found where you wanted to be—which happened to be the firstborn position—and you stayed there, peaceful and steady. No matter how much Eli kicked and spun, you held your ground. You have so much confidence in your decisions that it is difficult even to convince myself that you need to do something different once you have made up your mind (eg. breastfeeding, potty training, eating vegetables). You aren’t afraid to sing ‘Jesus, Loves Me!” at the top of your lungs as we walk through Home Depot, despite the stares and giggles of passersby. You just know how awesome you are and don’t mind being yourself anywhere.

You are steady, strong and full of life. It is your voice that we ALL hear first thing in the morning, shouting with joy, “Wake up, guys! The sun is up!” while the rest of us roll over and wish that it wasn’t (because it is only 6am). You also have a heart of gold. You are sweet and caring, the ideal older brother. You make sure that everyone is ok and that no one is left behind.

You are a daddy’s boy. He lights up your life. There have been multiple times when you have cried for 45 minutes plus, causing me to be beside myself with concern, only to find that you simply miss your father. You have a bond that is unique and I know your Dad cherishes it too.

You are a Sweed. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, square-headed, sturdy little Swedish man. You like to build and do puzzles and one of your early words was ‘lingonberry’. You fit so well with your heritage, I think you should be a poster child for 4th generation immigration.

You are my beloved son, who prays everytime we see an ambulance or a firetruck. You are a funny guy who tells ‘dad jokes’ at age two. You are the son I dreamt of, the boy who filled the hole in my heart that I didn’t even know was there. I love you, I’m proud of you, and as long as I live, this will be true. To my Roo!

Here’s to you, Eleazar! You are a joy and a delight. You danced inside my belly, flipped and pushed. You fought to survive from the very beginning. You are a natural leader even though you were the second born. It was because of you that you guys were born on this day in the first place, being just four pounds and four ounces, almost two pounds behind your brother. I didn’t even see you until you were 12 hours old and the nurse told us that you would be going into the NICU. But you, strong and eager little man, you made it through that first night and got to go home with us just two days later. You were so small but so determined from the very beginning.

One thing that makes you so special is your beaming smile and your incredible laugh. It is the kind of belly laugh that I wish I could have all the time. To be able to feel and express such pure and sweet joy without hindrance is absolutely amazing.

You aren’t afraid to explore or try new things. You lead your brothers in a gentle and natural way. Sometimes you just start doing something and everyone else will start doing it simply because leadership exudes from who you are.

You look a little like me around the eyes but a lot like your Grandpa Appel. I think you have a bit of his personality too. He is a bit of a stinker and you can be a tad mischievous as well, if I’m honest. You are a pretty clever little man and you get yourself and your brothers into all kinds of interesting scenarios. But because of that, you stretch us all into greater creativity and patience. AND laughter.

I love how you take care of me. You check on me, you watch me and you claim me as “Your Mommy”. I really appreciate how you make me feel accepted as a part of your little group.

Just like Jesus says about you, you are a gift. A treasure to me. You captured my heart from the beginning and have blessed me beyond what I can express. I love you, I’m proud of you, as long as I live, this will be true. To my Eli!

Thanks for joining me in this birthday toast to my littles. I really want you to know them better because they are so awesome. I get the unique privilege as their Mom to see them at their best (and their worst). There are many times that I would like to break out my camera and Instagram or YouTube the sweet moments that happen all day long, but I don’t. Because those are mine and I get to keep them as a treasure for when I am old, grey, and drooling. What I do share is just a snippet, a small slice of an enormous pie. Thanks for sharing in their lives with me, all of you out there.

If you don’t know them yet, welcome to our party and read a couple other stories that can tell you a bit more about their unique personalities.

If you do know these boys, and you would like to share a birthday toast for Reuben or Eli, please do so in the comments below. It’s kind of like a viral birthday party where we can all raise our glasses!