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.

Monday, January 22, 2018


"Mom," Betsy says.

She nudges a metal stool next to mine and climbs up. I sip coffee. She pushes a saucer to the side. Crumbs capsize the edge. I purse my lips, smile subterraneous.

"Hi, Mom," she says.

"Hi." We share elbow room. I read my Bible. She nibbles crumbs.

Then she's down, and I'm turning through my Bible.

"Mom," she says again, ascending the metal stool.

"Hmm," I say, trying to finish one more sentence. She's up, a gold package in hand, much tape used in wrapping.

"Mom, can you write on this?" she says.

"What do you want me to write?" I peel my eyes away.

"For BETSY," she says.

"Oh," I say. We stare at the package, bigger than an egg, smaller than a teapot. "Hmm," I say.

"It's mine," she says.

"Oh," I say. Conversations spelling out her soon birthday play fast forward through my mind. "Ohhhh," I say. "Hmm, I see."

Felicity blooms across her face. And I scrawl BETSY across the top of the gold package.


6467. Fresh measuring cups.

6468. Spices and fancy Hawaiian salt.

6469. A visiting baby wrap made of silk and sparkles.

6470. Betsy sidles up to me at breakfast, pets my well worn sweater and fondles one of the many "pills" on it. "I like the bugs on this," she says.

6470. Craig organizes our closet and room.

6471. A teapot big enough to boil water for many.

6472. Puritan prayers, a book of them. I read them like manna from heaven. No words can describe their nourishment.

6473. The children continue to learn and grow together.

6474. We continue to organize our home.

6475. Sunday finds me stilled with peace.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


"I already ate all my bananas," Joe says. Jammie clad minus the t-shirt, bare chested boy lopes into the living room and drapes himself over an arm of the couch.

"A-all of them?" I say, the ones he bought himself.

"Yeah," he says. I wipe a dried coffee spot off the counter.

"How many where there?" I say.


"Eight? Since yesterday?"

"In TWO days," he says.

"In 12 hours," I say, washcloth slack.

"Yeah," he says.

"Well, how do you feel?" I say.

"Great." He grins, now sitting upright on the faded red couch arm.

"Very nourished," I say.

"Yeah," he says. "I just need two more dollars."

"To buy more bananas?" I say,  my eyebrows rounding upward,

"Yeah," he nods, the responsible accountant nod.

"Wow," I say.

And so it is nonchalance and small talk unfold in gargantuan swaths.


6460. Joe continues to unfold in full blown boyhood.

6461. Betsy demands a stool in front of the stove. Jack rebuffs then refuses. "Betsy is as stubborn as Balaam's donkey," Jack whispers under his breath. And yet the two find a duet of sorts as Jack prepares dinner.

6462. My new devotionals for this new year arrive. I promptly sit down and read to catch up. Nourishment fills my soul.

6463. I plan an overnight with Jane. We whisk away to house sit for a night and fill the time with chatting, the leisure discussion that unfolds between a woman and her almost woman daughter. This is a pleasure I had not fully pictured. So. Good.

6464. Jane steps into the role of no-longer-child with so much grace.

6465. Jack continues to prep and prepare meals and desserts. I feel like I live with a chef.

6466. Craig replaces the bathroom toilet when plunging, snaking, and heaven forbid, reaching his arm down the mouth of the toilet, can no longer cure its ills. He replaces it with a champion promising to flush up to 18 golfballs at once, should we ever have the need. Brilliant.

6466. I continue to teach myself to reach for contentment. Projects linger and progress at the slow steady rate of things that actually get finished. I let this be music to my ears and harmonize with its strains.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


"Whelp, it's the 22nd of December, huh," I say.

"Yep," Jane nods, the two of us planted on a stool and a five gallon bucket, kitchen island under our elbows.

"Wow," I say. "What a hard year."

"Yeah," she says.

"Huh." We stare across the long swath of kitchen now finished, almost. A camaraderie of burdens shared, we watch, detached fascination between us. Lucy and Myra pour flour into the breadmaker. Strains of Peace on earth, good will toward men waft up the stairs. Twenty seventeen unfurls like a sigh dissipating, leaving us pulling for the fresh air of a new year to our lungs.

"But," Jane says, "we can stand to meet 2018."

"Yep," I say. "Huh."

And so it is. We stand.

May the love of Christ carry you like an ark through the waters of this new year.