Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Seat

"Her hand did get kind of caught in the seat," Jack says.

It's 8:45 pm, the children tumbled from dinner table to bed, toothbrushes scuttled through the nightly round.

Betsy won't nurse. She cries and cries. And cries. I think her arm feels weird.

"Did one of you try to pick Betsy up and have her get hurt?" I say. I roust children one at a time, groggy and bleary eyed.

"It was when I was folding down the seat in the car," Jack sobs. He's a cataract of tears. "I just thought she was ok," he says.

"Oh, no," I say.

Inconsolable. Jack. Betsy.

So we trounce to the ER -- nurses with kind faces, doctors with concerned eyes. We wait, and wait. And wait. Betsy gives startling and robust protest to the doctor exam. And we wait. And wait. An x-ray. And wait.

And then, nothing. There, in a black plastic chair, Betsy flaps and flaps that arm. She flaps like bird and grins. The arm is perfect. The doctor comes back.

"No fracture," she says.

"Nope," I say.

So we drive home. Home.

"I love you, Jack," I say. "Even if something terrible did happen to Betsy, I'd still. love. you."

Tears squeeze out of his eyes. He holds me in a bear hug.

"I love you no. matter. what."

Motherhood shatters in complexity. Danger and security hold hands. Immovable and moving mountains, there we stand. The universe parts around us.


5674. Betsy's arm is whole and strong.

5675. Craig ferries us through the ER with the ease of a pilot.

5676. We find many of the people there go to our church.

5677. I revisit the truth: I affect nothing. God affects everything. My dependence on him nourishes me.

5678. I work to ease my ebbing stress and subsequent headache.

5679. We endure a storm with hurricane force gusts. We lose power for 18 hours, but none of our food spoils. We stay warm by the fireplace.

5680. The storm passes, and I witness the destruction. Neighbors along my morning run have left houses crushed by fallen trees. Other pines lean wildly over power lines. Some completely block roads. Traffic lights don't work.

5681. People come together. Camaraderie ensues. More than 60% of the area without power three days later, we come together. We offer and open our homes. We talk. A special bond of shared pain brings us closer than ever. Even strangers are neighbors in a new way.

5682. My in-laws come for lunch. Even though I burn the soup, everyone eats it.

5683. Even in adversity, we find hope right there beside us -- especially, in adversity.

5684. Thanksgiving awaits. A grateful heart. We make this our treasure, our goal, our reality.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


"You can't force people," Jane says. Her long curls shawled around thin shoulders, she sketches.

Exercises. Each child practices. Jane and Jack sketch. Lucy pounds scales. Myra holds Betsy. Joe recites fragments of Ozymandias as he balances breakfast dishes to the kitchen. Enveloped in morning work, world politics intersect conversation. A presidential debate, and Jane's tracing free will beyond beyond chores, beyond theology.

We review the contenders, but her main question: Why don't people DO what's right?

You can't force people.

"It's like a lot of things with Christ," I say, "he just presents the truth and lets us choose." I sip my coffee. "He never forces us." I say. The washer lud-thuds in the background. Jane zigs a few zags on bumpy line of  zigzags. Encircled in the navy stripes of her shirt, she chews the idea.

"It's like truthfulness is it's own defense," she says.

"Huh, yup," I say. She hardly looks up. Three quarter length sleeves and navy stripes, I watch her

Truthfulness is it's own defense. And it's own antidote. Speak it at any time and freedom will follow.

We slip the idea into our pocket like a smooth stone and carry on.


5660. "If you want to play Trouble, Momma, I will," Joe says, "Do you want to play Trouble?" he says. Yes. Yes, I do.

5661. "Just a minute," I say. "One minute is like A THOUSAND minutes," he says.

5662. I discover migraines are a possible side effect of the vein procedure I had. At least I'm not so worried about the headaches I've been having.

5663. Thrift store finds, clothes for Jane, the backing for a quilt.

5664. Fresh shampoo, vitamins, and medicine.

5665. A new belt for Craig, black, simple, perfect.

5666. We learn to make pizza as a family and make it every night for a week.

5667. "Why does our conscience lead us with fear?" Jane asks me. "Because it is afraid of what we might lose." I say. "It steers us from evil, but it's God's goodness that draws us to him."

5668. Betsy starts calling me MOMMA, loud, clear, and with expressive eyebrows.

5669. "Mom, look how big of muscles I have," Joe says, his arms contorted in an almost flex.

5670. I make a new counter cleaner that smells just like a lemon San Pelligrino.

5671. I finally throw out the last garden bouquet, dried to a crisp, brownish on the countertop.

5672. Joe accidentally crushes half a carton of eggs in an unfortunate fall "helping" Myra make eggs for me.

5673. We find baby blue cowboy boots second hand. Jane and I share them.

5674. I continue to turn to the great grace and mercy in Christ. Perfect love -- this miracle encircles me.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


"I hope I marry a farmer," Lucy says. "I just really hope I marry a farmer." There in my peripheral, I look up.

"Yeah?" I say. My feet propped, post-varicose vein procedure, I peer at her over my toes. She sits on the sunroom step.

"I just hope I get to be a farmer's wife," she says.

"Why is that?" I say.

"I think it would be fun to learn to make lots of things out of one ingredient," she says, "like milk." I let the sway of her words lull me, milk elongated into a whole mouthful.

"Oh," I say.

"Like you can make ice cream and cream and butter," She tilts her head as if perusing an invisible list in her mind. "Stuff like that. I just think it would be so. fun."

She speaks with the constant motion of a conductor's hand. I find the gait as pleasing as her words. She dreams in gentle 6/8 time, all things triple and soft.


5642. Lucy plays me endless board games as my leg recovers. Win or lose, affection beats quiet time between us.

5643. Craig and Jane make homemade pizza as I convalesce -- and that after he made pancakes for breakfast.

5644. Craig washes the sheets and remakes our bed.

5645. He has the children clean the house and tidy up their school boxes.

5646. He finds me red patent leather shoes at a thrift shop.

5647. We find reasons to laugh together; more of a special bond ensues.

5648. Almond flavored homemade ice cream.

5649. Fresh sweet potato fries.

5650. I read more of His Utmost For His Highest and find true gems of contentment.

5651. Mom comes and visits with me as I rest.

5652. A friend blesses us with a good deal on a couch. The old red couch of many years, and many, many holes, finally gets replaced. Celebration!

5653. Betsy starts pulling herself up on things.

5654. She loves hugs and leans in to snuggle.

5655. Jack gets ready for church early so that he can double check if I need anything before he leaves.

5656. Knitting and more knitting, I continue to get great enjoyment out of the simple knitted project.

5657. Joey finally gets to go to church and help in Craig's class. "I just can't wait," he keeps saying all. weekend.

5658. Jack works to clear the garden of harvest debris.

5659. I still my heart to look into the eyes of my children and my husband and see them. This is true pleasure. I try not to miss a moment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just Think

"Just think of Sodom and Gomorrah," Jane says. Tuesday and we're traveling together. "It doesn't take very many good people for God to save a lot of bad people," she says.

Blue sky and intermittent clouds, we glide down the highway to Grammie's, our drive the usual hothouse of conversation.

"Yep," I say. For the sake of ten good men God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah. Would have.

"And God still did save the good people," she says.

"Yep," I say.

"Ya just have to make sure you're on the right side," she says. She directs the conversation with full arm gestures from the very back seat. "The right side in God's eyes," she says. Children chatter tangents on her words. They lace ideas, one looped around the next and the next.

As politics spiral, as the narrative of Revelation reads easier and easier each day, one thing is clear: persecution will come. Every ilk will find it. Ya just have to make sure you're on the right side.

I pray righteousness finds us, that we grab on with both hands, fall on our knees, and devote ourselves to the one thing, the one Person, that will make every struggle worth it. Jesus.


5627. Spices. New spices and herb blends for the simple kitchen. We bake a promised land of food from the simplest ingredients.  The pantry brims with fresh stores.

5628. I knit three quarters of a new pair of pants for Betsy.

5629. Coral peach yarn, I plan an Easter sweater for her.

5630. A knitting book of prayer shawls.

5631. New jars for the pantry spices.

5632. "I lied," Joe confesses. Slowly by slowly he grabs on to truth.      

5633. We play Settlers of Catan again and again. Symptoms of good sportsmanship emerge.

5634. I meet a friend via e-mail who has a daughter with the same name. Myra. Such a pretty name. We exchange knitting stories, our lives parallel from different sides of the country.

5635. We work to grow the children in kindness, kindness in adversity, kindness to the ungrateful. Siblings provide the perfect lab.

5636. The children bake apple crisp for Craig and me.

5637. Jane begins to learn Come Thou Fount. Lucy starts Holy, Holy, Holy.

5638. We receive TWO letters from George. Jane started writing the sponsor letters, and we received TWO in response.

5639. Betsy starts army crawling. The turn of one night, and suddenly she is into ev. ery. thing. Bits of dust, curls of hair, scraps of paper, snips of yarn, corners of furniture, everything makes it to her mouth.

5638. I try to slow the moments and enjoy each one. Each stubborn interruption a triumphant marker of the great responsibility God has entrusted to me. I marvel at this fine gem.

5641. At each turn I find Craig. There he is, doing the last thing I needed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


"I like sitting here snuggling you," I whisper, "even though I can't talk right now." Myra smiles. Adult conversation swirls around us. She's folded up like a map of the universe under my arm. She nods. I lean closer.

"I'm just trying to get a booger out of my nose," she whispers in full voice.

"Oh," I say from the corner of my mouth. I peek to see her cleaning her fingernails. Surrounded by a labyrinth of plaid, the old red couch engulfs us. It's a micro-universe.

"I got it," she says.

"Ok," I say.

Conversation splays in front of me. Craig and I talk principles and worldview. I try to listen more than I talk, but all the while this other universe unfolds just below the surface. Counterpoint. Many melodies at once, the chords interlock.


5616. Cerissa gives birth to a new life. Baby Theo arrives safe and perfect. Life resplendent greets us.

5617. "I cannot believe how sweet that baby is." Lucy whispers. She utters it absent minded as if still up that hospital room holding him.

5618. We have dinner on the farm and pick two boxes of apples, then swing from the rope up in the barn.

5619. I make a pan of lemon/lime bars from scratch.

5620. We start soup season with a stockpot brimming with chicken stock.

5621. Craig takes me on a date of thrifting, fast becoming a pastime of pleasure for us.

5622. Cerissa and Dan's kids while away the hours waiting for baby Theo at our house. Cousins, what joy.

5623. Mom and I have coffee and a morning of fall together. We gather groceries and run errands, laugh and speak life to each other.

5624. I start reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost For His Highest. What a gem of a book.

5625. I finish knitting a bootie and hat set for Betsy.

5626. We thank the Lord for another week together. Character and love grows between us.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


"You are going to get very BIG," Myra says.

"Yeah," Joe says.

"'Cause people about your size get VERY big," she says. They nod, a collection of facts lolling between them.


"So if you forgive someone, does that mean they don't have to DO anything? Anything at all? Everything just goes back to normal?"

"Well, surely they have respond in SOME-way."

"But if they have to respond are you really forgiving them?"

"If you expect anything, is it really forgiveness?"

A debate. Theology circles our dinner table. Pizza and salad, brownies, pie, leftover dessert, we weigh and flex scripture against experience. Conversation flits like a flock of birds. Murmuration ensues.

"Surely they have to do something," someone says. "What if I punch you in the nose, and you forgive me, but I still say you deserved it? What then? Ya can't just go back to normal. Can you?"

"But God forgives us before we even ask," someone else says. "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

"But some people DO still go to Hell," someone else says, "even though he forgave them."

We turn it over again and again like a coin with two sides.

"When you forgive someone they don't have to DO anything," Jane pipes up. Childish candor becomes her; she speaks in step. "But in order to RESTORE the relationship they have to acknowledge it in SOME way," she says. Acknowledge. Restore.

The room hushes around her words. As if gathered from the four corners of the room, she synthesizes air down to a single breath. Forgiveness. Restoration. They form a bag of waters around us, sustain us and hold us, give us our first breath.


5606. Myra and Joe make me breakfast.

5607. Jack and Joe debone a chicken for me.

5608. Betsy continues to roll all over the house, pulling stuffing out of a hole in the couch, chewing on rogue flip-flops, biting up bits of paper, and calling whole conversations of Hi there.

5609. We wait with anticipation for the birth of my nephew, the children one big hoorah of excitement.

5610. We attend a funeral in Craig's hometown, his aunt laid to rest.

5611. New yarn.

5612. A polkadot headband for Betsy.

5613. Guacamole, we develop a signature recipe.

5614. We continue to pray for the fruit of the Spirit and watch our lives conform to the particular challenges that cultivate character.

5615. Each night rings in another victory: life together laid one brick at a time. We build castles of affection.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Wedding

"I think Aunt Laura is an interesting person to visit with," Jane says.

"Me too," I say.

The reception hall a splay of jubilee, Jane and I thread our way back to our table. Relatives and strawberry shortcake, music and dancing, a fall storm held off just long enough to complete an outdoor ceremony, my cousin got married.

Something happened there in the squirreling wind and sprinkling rain, an act of God: marriage. Corey and Olivia became a new unit of family. We watched and beheld the glory. A holiday of love, merriment ensued.

And in a small moment between Aunt Laura and the cousins I rarely see, I turn. There is Jane out on the dance floor. Flip-flops lost under a folding chair, twinkle lights holding the room, she breaks into dance. We all step into a new season.


5594. Corey and Olivia get married.

5595. Spur of the moment, I invite a neighbor to dinner. He accepts. And he brings three pies!

5596. I discover I love pumpkin pie. (?!)

5597. I lose my phone and then find it when the small diner next to the grocery store calls with it.

5598. A friend stops by out of the blue.

5599. I get hammered by a migraine and rise again.

5600. I discover how to knit a bonnet by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

5601. Craig surprises me with a date to a local pizza shop.

5602. We settle into the arms of autumn enjoying warm afternoons and brisk nights.

5603. I make one of the best lentil soups in years.

5604. Craig prints new family photos for our living room.

5605. We tumble into Sunday evening exhausted, spent, and full.