Sunday, March 18, 2018


"Whelp," I say, "I think we are on at least step seven of organizing the hand-me-downs." The words leave my mouth pearled together in a long looping sigh.

The living room a castle of bins, clothes bundled and ordered by age and gender, I sink into the couch. We save meticulously, sometimes too much. A tower of donation items holds down the entryway. Bins on one side, bins on the other, it feels like parting the sea.

"Hmm," Jack says, "step seven of seven hundred." He grins. I shake my head, then nod.

"So true," I say. We laugh and laugh. So many hours wrangling organization out of so much blessing. It's harder than it sounds. I wonder what step eight will be.


6522. Jack adds humor to our days, leafed in, gentle and without expectation of the hilarity that ensues.

6523. Jack and Lucy bake ginger snaps.

6524. A dear friend sends me a wrap to try with chunky fringe.

6524. The kids continue to work hard practicing art lessons.

6523. I learn again the good fruits of forcing myself to do dreaded tasks. Strength, peace, and tidiness appear, guests adored.

6524. The children continue to watch me flounder and then step into strength. So humbling. And yet so good.

6525. I sigh another tired sigh, contentment close on its heels. Sleep, the reward of the weary, I measure its goodness.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Ten Minure Timer

"Ten minute timer," Craig says. He patrols the hallway, rounding up bedtime stragglers for evening prayer. "Jane, you didn't make it," he says.

"No," she says, "I'm ready!" She blubbers around a toothbrush corralled in her cheek. "I'm alllllllmost ready."

"No," he shakes his head, "you're not done."

"But," she wrinkles her forehead, raises her shoulders. Sigh, "Ok."

"She didn't make the timer," Craig calls around the corner to me ten steps later, a bale of laundry now blooming from the dryer into his arms.

"I ALMOST did," Jane says.

"But you didn't," he shakes his head.

"It's because I linger and talk and relish relationships more than just the task." Her face sings.

"Sounds like Mom," Myra lilts. Sprawled on the floor, she passes puffs of post-documentary popcorn to George.

"But," I say, the big popcorn basin in my lap, hulls between my teeth, "what we want you to understand, Jane, is that you need to hurry and get the task done so you CAN get out here and enjoy the relationships."

"Oh," she says.

Oh, that. Finish the task to make room for margin. This is an art I am still learning, and in good company.


6515. A new ruler, a teeny tiny triangle one, like a mini-drafting one with a pencil clip on the side.

6516. Friends invite us to dinner and serve oxtail. Bonanza! And there is so much affection and fellowship in the evening, we stay way, way, way to late but enjoy the camaraderie so much.

6517. Dad's birthday lands on Saturday-pancake-breakfast and in all its maple syrup and whip cream bounty we celebrate. Joe and Myra surprise us by eating 10 pancakes each. Best of all, we linger in stories and laugher.

6518. We celebrate the life of Great-Grammie, 102 years. Family gathered, we remember the irreplaceable riches of a life well lived.

6519. Jack tears out two shrubs and a fence for us, the beginning of another new garden.

6520. The children tend to their 1000+ baby plants.

6521. I land this Sunday more tired than I've been in a very long time. Sleep is such a gift. I can't wait to open it tonight.

Monday, February 26, 2018


"You guys can have the fish sticks sample if you want," I say.

The Costco hustle, Jane, Jack, and I round the back corner. A bag of carrots slides into two bags of celery, the cart barely holding down all four wheels, a bonanza of samples on all the end-caps in sight. I never say yes to samples, but just the three of us, well, ok.

"Oh, OK," they chime. We sidle through line. Without meaning to I calculate the varying sizes of fish stick chunks and, like the three-year-old version of myself, hope they get a big one. All the while I replay in my mind parmesan-and-coconut-milk, parmesan-and-coconut-milk, the last two shopping things.

"Here, have a chimichanga too," I say, one fat sample left, a blob of cheese dripping out a triangle corner. And I scan-scan-scan. Where is the parmesan? I whisper, the sample all but forgotten. I pause and chew the corner of my mouth. Hmm, there. I nudge the cart and pause, Jack in the way, then turn to navigate the other way.

"That was the the most wonderful thing," the sample lady says. And for the surprise and joy in her eyes, I stop and stare, smile blooming over my face.

"Oh," I say riding the wake of bright-hearted happiness. And as I blink-blink the five ticks it takes to make a smile I replay Jack to my left, a glad, "Jane, do want to split it?" and her, "Sure," and the unrehearsed bite that left more than half, the seamless pass-off, the, "Thanks, Jack," and the casualness of kindness as if it were normal.

"Wonderful," she says again.

"Yes," I say, slowed, humbled. I watch her face as we turn to go. "Have a great day," I say. She nods a affection between us, two strangers, but family for a moment.


6507. We rearrange the house to make more room for projects and play. Less stuff means more elbow room. It's perfect.

6508. I continue my routine of weekly soup making. Gallons and gallons of soup ensue.

6509. Jack surprises me Sunday morning with the biggest loaf or challah bread I've ever seen. "I'll plan lunch," he says.

6510. Lucy makes stoneware cornbread browned to crisp golden brown perfection.

6511. We get gifted tickets to a Gonzaga girls' basketball game. We relish it complete with enthusiastic screaming to punctuate a close game and victory.

6512. Mom and I run errands together and share the burdens of life.

6513. Craig's mom gifts the girls with sweaters that Great-Grammie made. What a collection she had.

6514. The full week still a jumble in my mind, so much shoe-hored in and seven pairs of eyes blink-blinking at us, we take it in, offer our best, and lean full-hearted into the provision and goodness of God. Peace ensues.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dinner Guests

"Every time we have people over it's like we clean, clean, clean and organize and everything just spills out into a huge mess," I say.

"Yeah," Jack says.

From the passenger seat, he nods, sunlight skittering off the suburban hood into our eyes, the both of us picturing a blooming spectacle of crumpled laundry, toys and miscellaneous paper, pencils, pennies, socks, and sand pulled from the closets and beneath the beds, a fragile castle of organization toppled out the doorway, down the hall and yawning into the living room.

"It's like we pulllllllll eeeeeeeverything out and it's this gigantic mess and then we bring it up, up, up to a higher level," I say.

"Yup," he says.

"And then we just do it again next time," I say.

"Until one day we are just dusting the furniture before people come," he says.

"Hah," I say, "YES," the mirth of that faraway moment, gut splitting hilarity spilled across the front seat. "Yes," I say, the new Jerusalem of entertaining. Once again the bond of work shared draws us closer.


6498. Dear friends come and surround us with fellowship. Everyone settles into the gentle pace of serving food, mouthfuls of soup swallowed between pulling oceans of conversation, reclining and the leisure of many elbows around a small table. All the while, the tidiness of a home cared for disappears, shrunk down to the simple goodness of air.

6499. A dear friend turns 30. A surprise party, all the children help, prepare cards, decorate. Such nourishing work, our hands made stronger, our friendships deeper.

6500. Thrifting provides new sweaters with tiny holes we sew up and a set of small mason jars, glasses for the children.

6501. Jack flips pancakes for the whole crew Saturday morning so for once Craig can lean an elbow on the island and visit with the children over pancake breakfast.

6502. We stay long after church to play with friends and visit. The goodness of life passes between us.

6503. A simple exchange and we finally have the perfect teapot, the kind that can manage a tiny trickle of water into a pour-over coffee stand.

6504. The children continue to practice their art lessons.

6505. A dear weaver from the US shows me great kindness. I take note of how kindness gives birth to kindness, the momentum always to become how we've been treated, every act a pebble in a pond.

6506. Sunday unfolds as if it were many hours longer that the usual 24 with children slipping into bed early and the week taking flight on the quiet wings of rest.

Monday, February 12, 2018

When We Got There

"And when we got there," Jack says, "he was showing me around the house, even though I've already see it before."

He chomps oatmeal, late night fuel after an evening with friends. I lean on the kitchen island.

"Yeah?" I say.

"I think he was trying to get out of doing the cleaning chores," Jack says, "'cause, yeah."

"Been there, done that?" I say, a grin ticklish at the corner of my mouth.

"Yeah," he smiles, a nod wagging his head.

"Hah," I say.

"It's easiest to see your own problems in someone else," he says.

"Yep," I say. So true. I'm an expert on those ones.


6491. A loom. A hand loom. Wow, what a gift. A dearest friend gifts us a beautiful loom already warped and ready for weaving. Jane spends hours coaxing weft into warp, humbled and filled with resplendent joy at the gift.

6492. Another dear friend passes on a treasure trove of homeschool supplies. She and family drop by one day unannounced, the house asunder with the spindrift of life and school and remodeling, a spectacle.  But everyone just grins and visits and embraces the humanity of it.

6493. A beautiful teapot, the whistling kind with a narrow spout and shiny silver belly sits on our range, queen of the pour over coffee, queen of my morning breakfast.

6494. Craig takes Jane, Lucy, Myra, and Betsy to a father/daughter dance. The boys and I leisure the evening away with another family attending the dance.

6495. Jack greets me Sunday morning, another corner of the house organized and beautified.

6496. I cuddle with Myra before bed this evening, the tiredness of the week melting into the couch.

6497. I picture school with the kids tomorrow and joy fills me. So many small disciplines and I get to share in the formation of them. Like the comforting rhythm of a morning run, I set my heart to their pulse.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Fajita Soup

"Did Dad tell you to buy that?" Joe says.

A four gallon kettle of soup bubbling on the stovetop, I chug-a-lug frozen corn straight from the package into the pot.

"No," I say. "I knew to buy it -- to put in the soup."

"'Cause you have a mind of your own," he says.

"Yup," I say, a chuckle held steady with the corn.

"You DO," he says again.

"Um hm," I pinch off the corn bag to save half for later, then muscle a too short spatula through the gruel, the corn slowly spiraling into the soup.

"But Jane's hair really DOES have a mind of IT'S own," Joe says.

"Hah," I say. "It DOES." I pause to gaze past the kettle's rim. We smile and nod. He rhymes ideas, one thing like another, like another, and another. And I make soup. Thus we build the foundation of so many days.


6485. Jack and Lucy tidy the family room and organize the library before I'm up and out of bed Sunday morning.

6486. We study the habits of tidy people and begin to map out some grounding principles.

6487. Betsy turns THREE. The day unfolds like a gigantic promotion. Every meal, every gift, every hug/smile/kiss, that shiny red birthday plate, her grin spreads as wide as the horizon.

6487. We celebrate Craig's birthday complete with homemade pizza and chocolate bundt cake made by the children, then followed by documentary night. Feature film: Army Ants.

6488. Jack and Lucy read obsessively on gardens, and every tangental topic, preparation for our annual plant sale.

6489. Life takes on the quiet stride of late winter. These are the work days, the gentle repetition of days that spell out the mindset for the year. Habits gestate right beneath our noses and learning gathers into more learning and effortless thought until it is a cornerstone we're standing on instead of some far off goal.

6490. And thus, we're poised to leap, clothed in habits made stronger by practice.

Monday, January 29, 2018


"And then this one girl was talking and talking and talking over all the other girls," Jane says, her girls' small group from the 2nd/3rd grade class fresh in her mind.

"Yeah?" I say. I check the rearview mirror for pedestrians, then nod, sideways glance to her.

"And I was like, Well, the kids who talk the most have to come sit by me so I can hear them better. So you better sit over here."

"Hah!" I say.

"I find it really helps with the over-talkers," she says.

"Yes," I say.

"And she was like, Um, ok," Jane says.

"Um, huh," I scan for more pedestrians as we lumber through the church lot and coast to a stop at the street.

"And then another girl was like, Let's go around and say everyone's favorite color. And I was like, That's a great idea. Let's pray so we can do that."

"Oh, good idea," I say.

"And then they were like, Oh, we don't have anything to pray about. So I said,  I know, that's why we're going to sit here quietly and think."

"Oh, good'," I say.

"And then suddenly they had tons of ideas," she says.

"You're so great at this," I say.

"It's just like I really love them, but I'm not going to let them get away with doing any old thing," she says.

"I know," I say, "That's exactly what I loved about teaching. Sometimes I even found myself really loving the naughty kids the most."

"Yes!" she say.

And in that moment I can picture how this lovely child shall sprout wings and fly. And I shall call to her for the pleasure of friendship. All the leading and guiding and setting of immovable and unpopular boundaries, and yet there it is, the far horizon of friendship. The prize.


6476. Running errands and package mailing with my mom, the joy of lovely company and conversation makes it a date.

6477. I continue the slow twenty-mile-march of organizing and simplifying our home.

6478. Jane and I collaborate with another homeschool family on curriculum ideas. All the way home, nibbling chocolate as we go, we chatter about how much fun we had.

6479. Salted chocolate caramel.

6480. I catch up with a dear, dear friend going through incredible painful trials. We draw strength and encouragement from each other.

6481. Jack figures out which ingredient he has been measuring wrong in his famous berry cobbler.

6482. We enjoy the fruit of many weeks labor doing school work at the wide open kitchen dining area. All the work begins to feel worth it.

6483. We enjoy a double date with friends, the first in more than a decade.

6483. We catch up with our dear small group, friends of twenty years. As always, it feels as if not a day has passed since our last gathering except for all the children grown taller.

6484. We begin to find our stride through the days as if we are by miracle of miracles beginning to trace and match the steps of our beloved Savior. Such peace ensues, I am surprised, speechless.