Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fruit





"Lord, thank you that we had lots of opportunities to show love today," Jack prays. "And I pray that we will have lots of opportunities tomorrow. We love you. Amen."

"Jesus," Lucy says, "thank you that we had lots of opportunities to show love tonight at dinner. And thank-you that we can see you working. Amen."







See you working. Prayer circles. One by one we practice; we worship. Let's pray for the fruit of the spirit, Craig had said. So we start with love.

Like the laying out of cobblestones, roads appear before us.







***

"Did you know that this morning at church when I was worshipping, Daddy was looking at me?" Myra says. "And I was looking at Daddy?" Daddy the teacher, Myra the student. Earnest eyes on rollicking shoulders, she lifts her arms.

"That's sweet" I say.

"That was when I was up by the stage," she says, her arms up, up to the sky.

A father's love. She watches Daddy to see Jesus. We all do.











Gratitude:

5501. Daisy fabric for baby trousers and blanket. Yellow-yellow daisies.

5502. A lap quilt for Joe in a patchwork of blues.

5503. Pins! Fresh, sharp, unbent straight pins -- luxury.







5504. Lucy lays out her pinwheel quilt. Craig helps her find the perfect arrangement.

5505. Craig bleaches the sink while marshaling an all out cleaning effort with the kids.

5506. I resume running, a beloved old friend.

5507. Betsy makes rolling over a regular habit, her body all muscled and limber.







5508. Every day, multiple times Jack peppers me with the same exact question: Wanna go look at the garden with me, Mom? It just changes so much every single day. He cultivates those plants like the souls of people.

5509. Barbecued burgers and hotdogs. Pickles, dill pickles. Potato chips and salad. Summer treats.

5510. We grow another week in our love for the Lord. Worship, it's the one thing we really want to get right. And everything, isn't everything worship?



Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Ring





"Mom, is there ANY way that you can show me my ring tonight?" Jane says. I slip-slip-knit a stitch on my blanket then look up at her. Miscellaneous dinner dishes out, she's paused, the kitchen rag flopped over one hand.

"I don't know," I say. "We'll have to see." My feet elevated from the surgery, I watch her from a perch on the couch. She swallows, dips her chin, wraps disappointment in cheerfulness.

"I mean," she continues, "I could get the stuff out at the table and help you, and just do whatever. I just was wondering if there's ANY way."

"Hmmm," I say. I watch the journal of her face. "What made you so excited?" I say.







"Oh, I don't know. It just seems so fancy," she says. Fancy slides off her tongue with uncharacteristic ease. Flashes of unworn clothes pushed to the very back of the drawer, tights and cardigans strangely divorced from this newly formed fancy.

"I didn't know you cared about that," I say. "I mean I like that, but I didn't know you did."

"Hmm, how do I say it?" she says, "I used to see girls who just care about being fancy and are crazy about it. And I was like I would do anything to not be like that. I would rather just look like a bag than to be like that. But now I realize you can be fancy and not really be that way." Ribbons of ideas settle around us, new ideas. The feminine mind circles and settles.

"Huh. You're right," I say. "You're getting older. I like the way your mind works. I never really liked girls like that either.  I just never was that way."

"I mean, I try not to despise it," she says.







"That's true," I say.

"Yeah, when Logan and I are talking and we talk about those girls we call them the kissy-girls," she says.

I nod, a grin around my shoulders, another language forming up between us with words like fancy and kissy-girls and not despising. "That's a pretty good name," I say.

"Yeah, oh, those are the kissy-girls, we say." She shrugs, "It's just a name."

Just a name. Words encircle us, reshape our horizons. Fancy. We compare them like agates on a beach, then scoop them up, smooth stones in our palm, smooth agates of ideas.

We take her ring out and look at it. It's an agate all its own.








Gratitude:


5498. "No, no eggs," Craig says for the eighteenth time to Joe. "No. Eggs." Joe sighs. "But Dada, maybe we can make EGGS," he tries again. "Shhhhh," Craig says, "shhhhhh, shhh. What did I JUST say?!" Craig arches his brows. They both pause. "Shhhhhh?" Joe says. We notice symptoms that Joe is listening.

5499. Jane turns 11. Sweet girl. Craig and I go with her to get her ears pierced.

5500. I take note of her growing mind and treasure every minute.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Convalescing From Surgery





"Mom," Myra says, "if you let Betsy have your hair, she's gonna be like ripping it out of your head." She blinks all seriousness. "She does that to my big hair," she strokes a red puff of hair then grins headlong into my eyes.

***

"If the plants die, Momma" Joey says, "they turn into tomatoes." He nods with that same assumptive air, then tilts hie head and nods sideways.

***





"Grrr," I groan. "Grr," I fumble with a water glass and try to smoosh an ant loping just above the couch edge. "Grr, it ran away."

"Yeah," Joe nods. "That is so sad. I was gonna smash it for you." He inhales and forms a sigh that he releases in protective fashion.

"When it comes back up you can get it," I say.







"Yeah, I will squish it really hard," He pinches his fingers together. "Or put it in a web," he says.

"Oh," I say.

"Right over here," he says. He points to a remote corner by the back door.

"Ah," I say. Relegated to the couch, I nod. Recovery is slow, but couch life is a constant drip of intel. I listen and watch and take it all in: our life, our good, good life.









Gratitude:

5484. The second surgery, though more painful, seems to be a success.

5485. I learn how truly grateful I am for work. Being still is almost agonizing. The world slows unimaginably.

5486. Myra brings me her blankie.

5487. "I could snuggle with you forever," Jack says.

5487. Lucy kisses my cheek. "I love you," she whispers.







5488. The children move to my beck and call (mostly). They move to fill the gaps. From the microscope of the couch I note children's attitudes that we address and fine tune.

5489. Fresh raspberries.

5490. Browned butter shortbread.

5491. Pizza and salad.

5492. The Dishman Hills Bookclub.







5493. I note a nearly invisible flaw in the blanket I'm knitting and resolve myself to love it anyway.

5494. The garden burgeons with growth despite my absence from it's rows.

5495. I bow my head in gratitude that I get to have this surgery.

5496. I learn to see my children through a new lens. Their personalities crystallize under observation.

5497. We arise in a new week ever more aware that God is GOOD.



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Books





"If you read one particular book a lot of times," Lucy says, "it seems like it's shorter than all the other ones." She smiles, leans her head toward me. She quints her eyes. We nod.

CS Lewis said you only know the true essence of surprise and satisfaction after you've read a story many times, many many times, traced the silhouette until it's memorized. So it is, we memorize the stories, silhouettes of surprise.









Gratitude:

5473. I make it through the first vein surgery. Serendipitously, I find the surgeon a fellow Christian and philosopher.

5474. Craig and the children wait on me hand and foot.

5475. I knit up a storm to pass the recovery time.

5476. Craig plays me countless games of Chess.







5477. Jane accepts my offer of Kitchen Manager for two weeks (modest salary included).

5478. Craig shows up with a salted caramel chocolate bar. For me.

5479. Joey tries to wash chicken poop off his flip-flop in the kitchen sink only to be discovered and shooed out.







5480. "I know there are sharks in that water," Myra says about a river in town. "That's why I'm not gonna swim in there."

5481. The Fourth of July comes and goes. I pray our country doesn't relinquish our freedom in the name of "safety".

5482. I listen to a sermon my brother preached, then listen to it again with Jane. Why do the wicked prosper? He answers this question.

5483. When I am able to do less, the love of my family means even more. Unconditional affection, this is a true marvel. I am so rich.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Garden





"Hey Mom, maybe when we get home can we go look at the garden together?" Jack says.

"Maybe," I say. "We'll see." Craig gone all week, Jane there with him, Arts Camp, long trailing ends of exhaustion whisp through the car. The showcase opening tonight, we all previewed it. Jane toured us. She glowed with satisfaction, bubbled really as if carbonated. Some indivisible quality of her surfaced, an immovable cornerstone, confidence a symptom of it.

Jack had carried my bag, tagged along, swept in the gap when I needed help, waited while I visited, made conversation himself. Foreman of the minutia, he was just there when I needed him.







"Okay," Jack says. "I just really want to."

Oh yeah, the garden. The garden. Even as I sigh, an engulfing sigh that seems to go on and on and on,  I hear the invitation in his voice. Together, he says.

"Well, Betsy, peed out of her clothes," I say, "and there is food to be made, but maybe. We'll see. I do love looking at the garden."







"I know," he says. "It just always changes. Even over half a day it seem like a plant has moved." He memorizes the plants like faces in a classroom.

"I know," I say. "I know what you mean." I picture the sprawling garden, rolling-green over green over forest-green. Jack the gardener knows every leaf, every turn of a petal, every reach and strive of stem. He bunches the earth up and pulls it open and smooths it flat. He cultivates a showcase of his own.

He takes me to his gallery.









Gratitude:

5464. Friends invite us to dinner. We show up on the wrong day, ten minutes late, and unannounced. Still, they invite us in, the eight of us, and encircle us with hospitality. The evening lingers on their back porch, drawn out slow and delicious.

5465. Kefir water. I try something new. Jack and Lucy help me brew it.







5466. Jane spends a week at work with Craig. The tight cords of their bond grow thicker.

5467. A live and huge basil plant to replace the ones I forgot to plant this spring.

5468. I prepare for varicose vein surgery later this week. A little more grace than usual finds its way to me.







5469. I almost beat Craig in chess, then lose badly the next many games. I try to remind myself that this is the way you get better.

5470. I do the budget. Something of a scowl takes over my face. "Mom, you're doing a good job managing the house," Jane says hand on my shoulder. I smile the scowl smooth.







5471. "Hey Mom," Jack says, "I'm reading my Bible over by Betsy, and I whisper the good verses to her, and she tugs on my ear."

5472. And I whisper the good verses to her, I take this in and hold it like a deep breath. The good verses, they give us life. Let us bow and worship before our King.



Monday, June 22, 2015

Out And About





"For once I found a really good restaurant to go to," Jack says.

The two of us on a date, he recounts the end of school. Final test, then Craig had taken Jane and him to a Mexican place.

"Uh-hum," I say. I navigate traffic. Yellow swaths of sunlight, the sapphire sky, Jack's face fresh as a green-tufted field, the day unfolds in metered time.

"'Cause I haven't really found restaurants to be that good," he says.

That good. I smile.

"I mean like compared to some of your soups," he says.

"I know what you mean."

All those passes of sunlight there on us, we slip through the afternoon. Jack and those clear blue eyes, I memorize that perfect iris. Something quite the opposite of fear traces each line of his face.

Confidence unbidden grows up in the soils of discipline. I watch and marvel.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Candy





"It woooould be kind of nice to break the burden of candy," Jane says.

There at the kitchen table, I lean on an elbow. One child pounds piano scales; another sketches flowers; Joe brushes crumbles of brown sugar from tabletop to palm; Myra leans around his shoulder; but I stare directly at Jane. Those blue eyes, that white face, I just look right at her.

"What do you mean?" I say.







"Oh," she says, "like when you have candy, just thinking and thinking, I hope, I hope I get CANDY. I just want CANDY." She moves her head opposite each shoulder as if marking time. "And you think, Let's try to be nice to each other so we can have CANDY. Wait, you're making me mad: PUNCH." She pops an air-punch at an imaginary person.

"I know what you mean," I chuckle, candy, the siren allure.

"It's kind of nice to just share it and be done with it," she says. A pleasant smile, she's stilled her bobbing head. The whole world a tide around us, we smile, soft and happy into each other's eyes.







"Yeah, it is." I say. There like stones in a river, we part the water's of time, force it to move around us. I take in her face. She takes in mine, all the while searching for something. Someone pulls my elbow for attention, but I look just a moment longer. Tiny crinkles form at the corners of her eyes. Loyalty and affection weave a net around us.









Gratitude:

5949. Shampoo, new shampoo!

5450. We trim Lucy's hair.







5451. A fresh mascara waiting in the wings.

5452. Dinner with Craig's parents.

5453. Hairpins, new ones that haven't swiveled-sideways.







5454. Mom brushes my hair out. Luxury.

5454. Jack and I plant cucumber plants together.

5455. We attend another gallery opening as a family. The children spot the elements of art in the work.







5456. I accidentally sleep in when Betsy wakes up late. An extra hour of sleep fuels me with inexplicable energy.

5457. "These pawns are actually powerful," Myra says as she holds a pawn up for us to see.

5458. "I see a move," she says. Sure enough. "Dada, can take you with his rook," she says to me.







5459. Jane learns how to run the espresso machine.

5460. Our small group starts summer barbecues.

5461. Lucy's contact falls out twice, and we rescue it both times.







5462. I mark the beginning of summertime fun by running through the sprinkler with the kids.

5463. As another week draws to a close, I find myself taking longer to enjoy the moments. A whole world of demands, but I find myself living deliberately.