Thursday, January 29, 2009


Janie hates it.

I have a cut on my forehead. Nice red scab, prominent placement.

She STARES at the cut, squinches up her nose, "I don't like that cut. Momma."

I keep knitting. "Momma, I just really don't like that cut." Pause. Knit-knit. Now louder, "I don't like your cut, Mom."

Sigh, squint, "Honey, how would you like it if I said, 'I don't like your face'?"

She stares. "What if I said, 'Janie, I just REALLY don't like your face. I don't like it. Eww, yuck!' How would that make you feel?"

Pause. Grin. "I would just say, 'Well don't look at it.'" No bite, pure solution, glad she can help.

And there I am the silly one thinking that a cut or any such thing could make someone not pretty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Cathedral

Janie leans in close. Her breath is all warm dew in my ear. "I love you, God."

And then later she whispers, "Hi, God," to me.

"Oh, honey, I'm not God."

Sideways look, "No, God is inside of you."

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Day in Pieces

Jack leaves piles all over the house. Sometimes it is orange peels other times mismatched socks. Then there is the occasional Cheerio-blankie-pillow tower or train-track-Leggo-fruit salad. We seem to have finally ousted the rouge cheese cube. I hope.

"I give Lulu meat. Lulu want meat." Well, he's nothing if not generous. I turn my back for a second and Jack gently shovels new flavors into Lucy's mouth. Lentil sausage soups is a big hit.

Janie is helpful. "I know what customers are. It's a thing that looks like a person, but it's just a fake thing that they killed." Ha-ha, ever feel that way?

This morning she mentioned, "When I think people aren't watching me I think, 'It's a good idea to disobey because then they won't spank me.'" Well, no sense in mincing words.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Church Day

Janie brought chap stick to bed last night. She moisturized her entire face with it. Jack covered both hands and patches of the sheets, probably parts of his jammies too. It's surprising how far one of those little tubes will go. Daddy took it away, but ours still had lots of life left in it.

This morning before church Jack rubbed lotion on his shirt. Then after procuring a new red sweater, promptly got his head stuck under the wardrobe. Enter Jaws-of-Life-Momma. He only cried a little during the extraction rescue. Then he was covered in lint. No problem, brush it off.

Next, Lulie had apparently started her own lint collection in the folds of her chin. Oh, horror of horrors, it was STINKY. Yes, given the right contidions sweet little Lulie's neck can actually transform into a science experiment. Ugh!

After four or five tries, a bath, a large pile of clothes, at least one child in a winter coat, shoes and matching sock on all, milk mustaches still intact, the children and I leave for church. It's only been maybe 90 minutes of hard-core getting ready. I smudged the milk off their faces in the car, and I think everyone had clean clothes on, but lets not look too closely.

It's a wonderful life.

Friday, January 23, 2009


"When you sin does your body change a little bit?" she wants to know. Janie likes to hear the forbidden fruit story. Adam, Eve, the serpent, the fruit - over and over and over.

And then, "Mommy, the flood that God sent, did it touch the sky?" Every detail, exact, precise, weighed and measured and touching the sky. There she is picturing it all. I'm sure the tallest ladder or biggest building could surely touch the sky. Maybe even standing up on our roof we could reach that high.

She slurps milk and soggy cereal, from a Snoopy bowl. Dribbles collect on her chin. "God loves me," she announces, "because he wanted a person like me." It's almost presumption. I watch her suck down the dregs. She tilts her head, grins, doesn't seem to be posing for her mind's eye. She's probably wondering how big God actually is. For her it's just so normal the milk dribbles, the grin, the flood that touches the sky, a God that wants her, a creator that made her just to like her. Simple.

And then, "God's teaching me not to lie. He's saying 'Janie, I'm gonna give you treasure in heaven, but I'm first gonna teach you not to lie.'"

So, I keep asking, "What's he teaching you now?"

She says, "I can't tell until I read my Bible and have my special drink and listen for a bit."



Thursday, January 22, 2009


Lucy watches Jack.

"God made me, la-la-la. God made me, la-lala..." Head tilted, eyes closed. He sings.

Lucy stares.

Jack squints.

Lucy stares.

"Lala-lu-lala, Momma, momma, tru-la-la, my momma, um-ta-dum, de-ti-da, laaala..." He opens his eyes, "Like that song?"

Lucy stares. Blink. Grin.

His mouth tilts, "I lub you."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sweeten Up

Mostly Janie answers when I call. Sometimes not.

Then the other day I asked, "Why didn't you answer?"

"Well, I was trying to sweeten myself up first."

I love praying with her. She doesn't shrink God down to manageable the way that I do. She'll up and say, "In the name of the LORD God of the angel armies, ready or not, just make us how you want us to be!" I couldn't say that without trying to be gutsy. She acts like it's as common sense as setting the table. Maybe she's right.

'Course she's not perfect, but oh, to fail and fall into grace. She'll say, "Jesus is cleaning my heart. I can't believe it feels so GOOD!" I used to think she wasn't sorry when she'd disobey. But now I see a small quarter turn toward joy, toward being made better, as if regret is a mere formality in the work of repentance. The whole moment of failure gets swallowed up, and there I am wondering why I can't fail so well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

If You Like Candy Canes...

This morning Jack came out wearing only a diaper. His shoulder was sticky white and after further examination, very minty. "Have you been eating toothpaste?"


"Oh, don't do that!"

"We brush teeth! Emma eating toothpaste too."

Huh. On further reflection, a couple of days ago I buttered his toothbrush only to be warned, "Don't eat that, Momma," as he turned his back for a second. Little did I know I was holding his dessert. And, if we are confessing, I must admit I do have fond memories of eating yummy bubble gum flavored toothpaste in a convenient upright pump as a kid. MmmmMMmm!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Didn't Think He Would Fit

First, it's the night Lucy's tooth almost pushes through - she cries and cries. She won't hardly nurse - just cry.

Then, it's Janie calling loudly from across the way, a bed change and me bleary eyed. I freak out, then, hold, cuddle, snuggle, it's okay, it's okay.

Somewhere between her wad of covers stuffed in the washer and fresh jammies fumbled from her drawers, Jack is on the bottom bunk blowing me kisses. One, two, three, kiss-kiss-kiss. He's just laying there on his side kissing the air. He rolls over, goes back to sleep.

I stop, hold Janie.

"I hope you know how much I love you, honey."

Pause, "I don't"

"Maybe you never will because it is so much."

"I think I will because God is really big and he is living my my heart. I didn't think he would even fit. His hand is bigger than the sky." But he did.

Friday, January 16, 2009

As Big as the Sky

My children seem to begin each day with a trumpet shout, a blink and stare pause at the big surprise: here we all are again!

There you are, and me too. They grin, Janie and Jack, and stumble into bed with me, their cold toes and rolling covers. Janie says to me over and over, "I love you, little woman." Jack brings us baggies of Cheerios. Then they take turns flopping and tumbling on the bed over and over - and over, until Jack has a bloody nose. "I love you as deep as the ocean and big as the sky and as many as the stars all stuck together, Momma."

And so the day begins.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Recently, Janie wanted to know about wearing goggles if she was baptized. Then, she wondered why they didn't just chop down the tree of knowledge of good and evil back in Eden. A few days later she asked how God and Jesus talk to each other if they are all in one. She never questions the character of God, only her understanding of him - only her own smallness.

Ever since she found out that God rewards what is done in secret, she keeps asking, "Can I do something to earn secret treasure? I want my treasure to be in heaven." She dumped a dirty diaper for me the other day, even swallowed a gag as she did it. She said she did it for Jesus. A smile twiggled at the corner of her mouth - pleasure!

Sometimes she reads stories to the nativity baby Jesus. "He is the one that I worship," she says.

In her words, "The best thing about the Bible is just God." Yes, maybe that's it. Maybe that's what we're supposed to get from the whole long saga of salvation.

Monday, January 12, 2009


There we are sitting in a nice restaurant making civilized conversation. I glance at Jack and he has tired of the finer graces. Not only is he stretched out on his tummy but actually face first on the carpet and grinning. I am pretending like I didn't just see him lick the floor. Yes, I had said, "Don't be wild," in my very SERIOUS voice, but somehow pictured he would sit politely in his chair. Never a dull moment.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Make Your Mark

He marches into the bathroom, "I eat butter!" Clearly pleased with his new sophisticated self, Jack walks past a large and permanent rendering of sister's name on our mirror and informs Daddy he need not worry, Jack can now take care of himself, "I eat butter!" I tell you he is practically a man. Our butter dish is now slick, smooth, and very buttery all over, yet miraculously not broken.

Then, there are the almost dozen graffiti tags on our walls that testify to this new found independence. He delights in the smudgy squish of new markers on smooth walls, the scritch-scratch of a fresh pencil on painted-over wood paneling, and in the back of his mind, the power of making a mark. Don't we all just want to make our mark? I dole out compelling consequences and the draw is still there.

The draw is there at bedtime when we thump-thump-thump race down the hallway, run and plop into the nightly ritual: laugh-pray-sing, kiss-and-hug, good-night-sleep-tight. We whisk out of their room. We sink down into an old green couch with arms enough for Craig and me. Sit, breathe, rest. We joke. And our children long to make their mark. At first it's only one shout. Then a yell and another. Before long it is the full-throated bawl of children whooping it up. And strangely in all their gusto they are shouting with voices like trumpets, "Worship the Lord! Worship only the Lord! Everybody only worship the Lord!"

Then there we are like permanent marker on our walls. Like great students of humanity, they pick the one phrase we can't hardly disagree with and shout it with great might. And once again we see, this craft of growing our children is really more art than vocation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

She Believes

Craig holds Janie and I see why she believes in God.

She thinks he's just like her daddy.

Perhaps we all see some version of Dad as we try to imagine the creator of all that is good. The personality of complete security and outrageous fun, the starting point of devotion - a job description like that and suddenly in the image of God begins to make sense.

The scaffolding of love.


Lulu cried a long time falling asleep. She keeps pulling the patch off. She sucks on it like a gauze flavored lozenge and, of course, can't tell me how much precious eye development she has she's frittered away. The drool and smiles almost make up for it - for now... I put her in a real long sleeved sweater that covers her hands. Poor baby, can't suck thumbie now. She makes her lip all wide and pouty, cries like the pope died.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Good Life

Tonight Craig shoveled thigh-deep snow off our roof.
It took awhile.
We missed him.

Our accomplishments?

~I stepped on a tube of lotion and squeezed hand cream on the carpet.
~Lulu attempted to eat her eye patch half a dozen times.
~The children served her and themselves Cheerios on the kitchen floor.
~I kicked down an ill place Leggo tower.
~Janie prayed that Jesus will help our world go well.
~I wrestled a crumbly potpie crust in place after 45 minutes.
~The kids had a dance contest.
~Lulu and I busted moves across the living room until we were dizzy and giggling.
~Finally, we had dinner at bedtime and Daddy came inside.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Silly Question

The kids drew pictures of our family. "Why is that one so big, honey?"

"That's you, Momma. I made you really big because you ARE really big!"

As my Gramma always said, "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer."