Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Dr. Snow. His name doesn't capture the years of schooling, research, and excellence of his practice. He speaks with the precision of a scalpel. I respect the formal manner. The room is all gray and clean.

"Yes. It's a cataract," long pause and unbroken gaze into the portal of Lucy's eye. He doesn't flinch, "A partial." Emotionless and grounded all at once, he looks up, "It's nothing you could have done."

The next weeks littered with appointments and smudged with fear, his words echo back to me, nothing you could've done, a small mercy. I could also mention how he stilled the busy office to offer a prayer for us, but then it might seem God was only there for a moment.

In a few minutes now we head to another appointment far from home. Lucy sucks her thumb with the devotion of a practiced athlete and I wonder if it will be enough. Devotion is like that thumb never offering strength until the very moment we need it. I wonder what we will need today.

The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Congenital Cataract

Those first four months she seemed so normal. She cooed; she smiled. Her big blue eyes made my heart swim.

Then the tear ducts were blocked for weeks until one September day they spontaneously burst and unplugged. A swamp of goo the color of sprouted wheat disappeared from all around Lucy's eyes. I wanted to sing and kiss the morning air. I jogged instead for miles crisp and fresh as an apple. Each wrangled tree branch tightened into focus as I ran and sucked in smoky tangles of fall air.

October, I almost didn't go. The appointment was to examine her plugged ducts. No slime or swampy fluids pooled up around her lakes of eyes any more. Cured I thought.

Somehow though, I went to the appointment anyway. No reason, I just went. And then there it was: the cataract. A smudge the shape of a sail warbled over the tiny lens of her eye. Congenital, there from birth.

We patched it, the good eye that is. They call it ocular seclusion. It forces the brain to strengthen neurons associated with the bad eye.

So, there we are last October waiting to see if our baby will need eye surgery. It's not the sort of thing you plan for really. You know, wondering if they will give her a plastic implant or just go with contacts on a five month old, well, after ultrasonically shattering her original lens and sucking it out through an itty bitty straw. Eye surgery?!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


In protest of forty degrees and rain, one sunny afternoon.


1/4 c. Joy dishsoap
1 c. warm water
1 sunny afternoon

Gently mix and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Africa Pt. 5

Africa - The Journey Begins.

I open my mouth, and nothing. Sigh. I've stared at the fire until the warbled flames blur into orange fuzz. "Honey, I think you should go." The words tumble out like pebbles in the surf. The air almost fizzes, "Kenya."

Craig, fallen asleep in the warm sigh of our fireplace, stirs, a throw pillow munched into his stubbly cheek. He groans and sucks in a mile of air. Tides of sleep ebb.

"Hi, Bethany," his eyes squeeze shut.

Then in another wave of courage I blurt it out, full voice, "I think you should go."

He stretches. A long spool of breath unrolls.

Courage, isn't that the unsteady peek around a dark alley when you're already afraid? So there, surrounded by wood paneling and old burber carpet, I jab my toe into his sleep softened side, "Hey, Kenya."

It sounds like a pretend word and an imaginary place. Now suddenly I am sending my husband far over the rainbow to Kenya. So marks the beginning and end of me.

Even so, fear is a beacon in the sifting sand of emotion. It's a megaphone calling out, Now! This is it, GO! Now is the moment you've waited for. Be BRAVE. Everything matters in that one moment. The world is clear, concise, simple.


Fear is a radio active dye setting my whole circulatory system a glow. For a moment I see who I really am. Sweat on my brow, heart pounding, a tight balled up breath in my chest, the persistent nudge of fear reminds me, stand a little taller, step a little closer, and look him square in the eyes. "Yeah, go."

Far and away, half around the world Craig will simply go. It's such a small word. It doesn't capture the half liter of air that catches in the back of my throat. I marvel at the audacity of God. Africa really? Without me? Really? Yup.

My husband receives arsenals of vaccines, sends for a passport, calculates a budget, and I wonder, how many times have I missed this astonishing ride on the coat tails of God Almighty. I keep thinking of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia - he is a very good lion, but not necessarily a safe lion. That sums it up.

Besides, safety is only what you see looking back when you haven't yet died. It is the stubbornly persistent illusion that we are in control at all. What great adventures and wild depths of God's glory have I missed holed up all these years in the safety of my salvation.

So terrified? Fully and not at all, but what's eternal salvation if you don't take it out for a spin or two.

Yes God, we're game. Count us in.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Fun Run

I bundled up three little runners for the St. Paddy's Day Fun Run. Here is the moment before I realize my keys are lost. Then I find them only to get lost looking for the race location, turn around twice, ask directions twice and then arrive late with no umbrella to a rain slicked track and lots of wind. Ahh, it's a wonderful life.

When we pulled up into a gravely wide spot in the road and parked, Janie blurted, "Oh, is this the half-marathon?!" My heart was racing so hard at the thought of missing the Fun Run after all her hard training it felt like a half-marathon. We piled out of the car, squinted against the rain and RAN all of us around the track.

Half-marathon, here we come!

Daddy met us there.

All her diligent training, we bought her a shirt which she then insisted on wearing for three days straight, even slept in it. Finally, I coaxed it into the laundry.

Oh, everyone got ribbons!

Friday, March 20, 2009


And so, in we plunge.

Landed now on the far side of sensibility, I sigh. I laugh. I wait even yet to see God's next move. All the average-ness in me wells up into something more.

Yes. Go, Craig. Go to the ends of the Earth in obedience to God. And really, would I want you any other way? You defy the gravity of sensibility and become the man I want our son to be.

Oh that not a day would go by without stumbling into fissures of God's plan. I am in uncharted territory. And, somehow it is freeing and obvious that I am not the author of its success. What hilarious grace that God even bestows us with the honor of coming along in His work.

Africa - The Journey Begins.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Africa Pt. 4

Click here for Part 1.

Click here for Part 2.

Click here for Part 3.

I wait. Little grains of time brush over my face.


And Craig all the while continues life as if he never knew of a trip to Kenya, as if God hadn't closed the door because of me. I am jealous. His burden is light. He laughs easily.

And I wait.


A weight inside of me, now porous and rough, has rubbed angry spots smooth. Pumice. Bit by bit, a cavern of desire grows inside me all around the fear of him going to Africa. Somehow the wearing away has made a space inside larger. Still I wait. I release the extra lung full of air I've held in reserve. I breathe, awed at the deference God has given me.

I wait. Weightless.

Now, I see my move. It is an offering.

Child, do you want your name on something great?


Click here for Part 5.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Africa Pt. 3

Click here for Part 1.

Click here for Part 2

Then there is God's response. Oh, I twist and turn, one minute, yes, then, no. Then maybe. Always angry. The furnace of my fury is relentless and delicious. At least it's not the dull shadow of despair. And all the while Craig is fully unruffled by the fireworks. Calm as the day is long, his stare could last a lifetime. "Well, if God wants me to go, he'll change your heart."

And then to my unimpressed stare he declares, "I won't go unless you send me." Blink. "Really, I truly feel that God has said not to go if you are not okay with it." The silence that followed was flat and full like a wide open sky. He had made his move. Now he waited.

How many times are we actually eye to eye with God? The terrific, expectant gaze waits. I catch my breath at the complete submission to wait, and wait, and wait. I still even now feel honor and terror. God wouldn't mow me over. Some corner of the universe may actually hinge on a response from me, and he patiently waited. He wouldn't force my hand.

Be still and know that I am God. Oh, God. Still. Wait.

Is this the point where pride falls away, anger crumples up, and I stand from the tips of my toes into honor and humility all at once? He waits. Is this what submission means? He waits? I thought submission was to become less, to be tossed aside, forgotten, worse than nothing.

He waits. My move.

Click here for Pt 4.


Click here for Part 5.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Africa Pt. 2

Click here for Part 1.

Unblinking blue eyes, he blurts it out, "I really think He's TELLING me, 'GO to Africa,' on the Kenya trip." What? I know the one he means, the well drilling in Adiedio. Our church is sponsoring it. But, are you crazy?! I want to shout, We NEED you, Craig. Can't you SEE that?! Frown. "You can't jump up and go to Kenya for half a month." Can't this just be a general feeling of us having so much we better give a little back? I was thinking we could sponsor a Compassion child from Africa or something sensible. Now, God's up and telling him, "GO." Is he supposed to be Abraham or Moses? What in the world?

Prayer, the quiet, unimpressive beginning, the starting point, the space in a sentence before a word like terminal, unresponsive, or maybe, Africa. I pull the full girth of my prayers out of calm hibernation, the simplicity suddenly inadequate. I awaken to the possibility: Thy will be done, might not include my will at ALL.

No, thank-you very much.

And then there is the whole issue of flat refusing God. Can you do that? Can you just say, no, I don't want what you have to offer? And, then what? Does he still take care of you? Are you at war? Truce? He sort of does have the bigger guns. Plus, who does that make me if I tell God, "NO."? Unsettling.

Click here for Part 3.

Click here for Pt 4.


Click here for Part 5.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Africa Pt.1

There we are, nine years ago about to get married. I suppose it really all started then when I picked Craig, said the proverbial, "Yes." But let's jump to the middle of the story.

"Africa?" I laughed, "YOU going to Africa?" If not for his earnest blue eyes and direct gaze I'd have chortled. It was a warm Monday in April or May. The afternoon sun all orange made me squint. Africa, how silly. A smile twiggled the corner of my lips.

I only prayed about it out of obligation. What a ridiculous idea. Three little children at home, one a baby, you don't just up and go to Africa. We are depending on him. People DIE over there. Plus, how expensive!

Ridiculous, yes, like the night I met Craig for the first time and prayed, almost in passing, "Dear God, don't ever let me marry a guy like him." Him, Craig, my life-long friend and love. Oh how God must have laughed.

Laughed and waited. It's all a game of Chess, really, each of us moving, waiting, studying the board, God gracing us with dignity at each turn. So there I am saying the occasional prayer, "What do ya think, God?" There. Then I'd be able to tell Craig Africa wasn't a good idea.

But what to do? I neatly separate Africa into a small box in the back of my mind the kind you use to move and then never actually unpack for months maybe years. Then I pray and pray for Craig to hear God's voice, really solidly know God's will for our family. Like asking for good health, I whisper this prayer again and again. I offer it like the strains of Old McDonald or Twinkle, Twinkle woven into the background static of normal days. How simple and hilarious, "Lord, SPEAK!" as if it were plain and elementary like brushing dirt off my children's feet. Each installment of prayer was so small, so insignificant. So un-erasable.

And so it begins.

Click here for Part 2.

Click here for Part 3.

Click here for Part 4.


Click here for Part 5.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Soul Food

My friend Lori mentioned a favorite speaker of mine in yesterday's comments: Andy Stanley. You can listen or watch right on his site. Spunky and honest, more concerned with what's right than what's popular, yet very compelling. Thinking of being the very best version of yourself even in great adversity? I definitely recommend Andy Stanley.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Summer, Genesis, Africa

Anyone else LONGING for summer? Day lilies, my favorite.

For the inevitable gray days between now and then, a friend of mine turned me on to a really great site. It's Ken Ortiz's study of the book of Genesis. Challenging, elegant, and brainy all at once. Refreshing. I'm about halfway through. If you've got mountains of laundry and piles of dishes like me, you can listen right there online. Until I learn to clean and read at the same time (wouldn't my house be so tidy) this is my solution.

Okay, one last thing, a little plug for a series on Africa coming up this next week. For a while now, Jane has been praying, "God please let Daddy have more days off." About every day she begs him to stay home. LOVE that Daddy. Today she said something new, "Mom, can Daddy just work every day, every day, EVERY every day and get RICH so we can send money to the people in Africa?" Aw, sweetie.

Africa, coming up...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


1. My four year old can make sandwiches.

2. Apparently, I have a really nice forehead, and my bread is "Pertaculous!"

3. If you want to win an argument try: "I not bad boy, you bad boy!"

4. "What kind of animal lays cheese?" You know the grated kind you put on pizza.

5. The children confessed they found bees' nests in the backyard. Wisely, "We put them in the dog run."

6. Staring at palm, "When are we gonna SEE germs?"

7. In reference to my beauty parlor, "Are you painting your eyes?!" Stare. "That's probably painting."

8. "Hey Momma, I just want you to know that I love you and that's why I cleaned for you," the WHOLE upstairs while I was sacked out on the plaid couch!

9. Out of breath, rosy cheeked, tumbling through the back door, flurry of coats, hats, boots, mittens, melted puddles, sigh, "We were playing Sera and Bedo the WHOLE time." (Sera and Bedo, our friends adopted out of Africa, another post).

10. Dinner hour, hands covering ears: "Can you hear me? MOMMA, can you HEAR me?!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Taking a moment to marvel at the extravagant kindness of God, we welcome my nephew, Jude Dana, into this world. 8 lb. 14 oz., Monday, March 9, 2009. I'm sure Cerissa will share the richness of this boy and his brothers in the coming days here.

Love and kisses to all and also baby Gabe, Jude's new cousin, born just a few days before him. What lavish blessing.

For all you mommas out there, Janie wants to know: Is it really LOUD when babies POP out?

Please do tell!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Apple a Day

Snack time, a commentary on life at our house.

Apple #2, yes the nubby on the right, is Jack's. All forms of toothpaste, boogers, peels, cores, floss, accidentally frozen, defrosted, now floppy-soft vegetables from the crisper, and cereal from the very back BACK of the cupboard (I don't think there are weevils in it) are welcome in his kitchen. Hardy constitution, excellent appetite. A frequently heard phrase: Oh honey, you didn't eat that did you?!

Apple #1 is Janie's. Sweet, crisp, and appley as ever, Jane never was one to hurry through a meal. In fact, if a girl can embody the art of lingering and conversation she is the life long mascot. Multiple nominations for president of Enjoy the Moment Club. Motto: When in doubt, just relax and apply ranch (note: is miraculously convinced that a small bowl of vinegar also counts as "ranch"). Was apparently distracted by fabulous conversation at snack time which probably included the "big sister" vernacular of Jack-you-do-this. Either that or she had no ranch for the apple.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ode to an "O"

Well, a month ago now Jack had the first official lesson on "sinking a Cheerio".

It's a little hit and miss (haha) with going in the potty, yet I am happy to report bulls-eye shots both at home and at church. Can I also add, he pooped twice IN the toilet totally on is own today?! Yes, we wisely promised a trip to Mike's Donuts for this Herculean feat. He also thinks that pull-ups are 'bout as special as donuts. Oh, the joys of a two-year-old. "My a BIG boy now."

(I think this is the part where we have a parade or fireworks or a good old fashioned hoe down or somethin'!)

Any potty stories while we're on the topic?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cleaning Tip

You'll be happy to know Jack valiantly squooooshed his first bug. See the little smudge between ring finger and baby finger? Look out spiders, I have me an exterminator!

Later he passed on an important cleaning tip. "Jack, don't pick your nose." Surprised once again at the many rules attached to this favorite finger pocket, he freezes. "Just leave the boogers in there, buddy."

"Oh." He lowers the offending finger trying hard not to look at a booger stuck to his fingernail. What to do with the green bumble? He sees I've noticed.

"Put back," he blurts. Yes, turns out even boogers can be put back. So, there you have it, weather Leggos, laundry - or boogers - when it doubt, put it back. Finger and booger exchange goods before a better answer comes to mind.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Little Cup of Goodness


Isn't it great how kids blissfully overlook the scary long night - coaxing Lulu to breathe, the juggle from steamy bathroom to cold morning air out on the driveway in rumpled pajamas, all a tangle of baby and blankie and hoarse gasps now not so short and alarming, the slippers tossed on at the last second, a small defense against sharp rocks on the driveway - how they sort of peer over the rim of a new day to spy toes to tickle and cheeks that need a hundred kisses? A little cup of goodness.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blue Shoes

Blue, that was the problem. Janie's shoes pinched her feet because they had no blue on them. If you are going to have a favorite color there is no sense in being half devoted to it. The running shoes had to be BLUE.

I showed her the entry form for the St. Paddie's Day Five. Her eyes got big. The race included a 300 m kids run! Janie squinched up her nose, raised both shoulders. Hooray! Her 1.2 miles an hour on the treadmill were going to pay off.

Then, there they were sky blue and soft like the leather of an old purse. The shoes practically climbed off the shelf and onto her feet. Laced up like a sigh cradling her foot, they were the slipper kind of the running shoe. Once conceived baby blue permanently adhered to the memory.

This is why at half past five on a Tuesday night we scrapped plans for dinner and headed across town to the shoe store. In our love affair with baby blue I had purchased the wrong size!

This is also why I was performing radio theater David and Goliath for the um-teenth time. We are always telling, acting, becoming stories as we go places.

"And he said, 'GOLIATH, you come at me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come at you in the name of the LORD God of the angel armies,' and he put one of the smooth stones in his sling and he began to RUN toward Goliath." I'm pumping my arms, pump-pump-pump, "RUN."

Jack interjects his usual, "Don't scream momma."

"I won't scream. And he's running, RUNNING TOWARD Goliath." I can just picture it, he's wearing baby blue shepherd sneakers and sprinting over the dusty ground, puff, puff, puff. "He's whirling his sling and...SWISH...the stone explodes out straight for Goliath, POW!" I slam my hand down on the console, a couple of receipts and a pencil fall between the seats, "POW, RIGHT between the eyes." I'm pointing to my forehead now. No one says a word. I hear them breathing in the back seat. "Goliath is DEAD."

Craig turns left into the parking garage. "The moral of the story is," I whisper, "if God asks you to do something HARD you should always do it," I pause, "even if it means fighting a giant or doing something dangerous because God will take care of you."

A click-click of the blinker and we're almost parked. I sigh into the quiet eddie left behind by our story. Jane stares at her reflection in the window, "I would be like David," she says. "I would just do it anyway even if it meant I would die because I have Jesus living in my heart. I would just real quick say, 'Jesus, will you live in my heart?' and then I would do it." And all at once the blue shoes are so abundantly frivolous and yet precisely right.