Sunday, January 30, 2011


"I wasn't licking her."

I peer over my book at Lulie. She leans on an elbow next to Rose.

"What?" I raise my eyebrows.

"I wasn't lickin' her." She blinks.

"What were you doing?"

"I wasn't lickin' anybody," she says and stands up.


She swings her arms, "Yeah."


Later I sprawl in bed, headache-engulfed. I squeeze eyes shut, just breathe. I hold still, perfectly still. Children cavort down the hall.

"Shhhh. Momma has a headache, come on." Jane encircles me with her words. "Come on, you guys, lets go downstairs." Their voices grow faint. I breathe.

Time tumbles, jumbles. I wake up. Squint, the door open a crack.

"What do ya need?" I whisper.

Her hand soft on my tummy, "I made a birdie for you, Momma." Jane nestles soft on me.


She slips out, pads down the hall.

Dusk cradles me.

"I love you." Jack. He pokes a head in, "I love you, Momma." He whispers.

"I love you too."

He softens the door shut, calls to Jane and Lulie, "Guys! I just gave Momma some love and she gave me some back."

I stretch, wiggle toes. Breathe.

"Momma," Jane whispers, "It's 6:10. Can you get up and get me something to eat? We're really hungry." She pauses, slips out.

I press my spine back, curl my shoulders, sit up. Tender as a newborn, I move. Down the hall, I walk as if the whole word were made of water. Sleep falls away in layers. The tide of pain washed out, I crack eggs for dinner.

Children trundle up the stairs.

"Oh, thank you, Momma!" Jack eddies at my elbow.

"We made sure to pray that your headache got better and then came up here to say, THANK-YOU!" Jane chatters.

The evening snaps to motion, but everything is pleasant and soft. I'm baptized with gratitude.


559. Headache gone.

560. Children making play while I rested.

561. The color-checkered bag Jane sewed for Jack's matchbox cars -- green ribboned drawstring and white label and all.

562. Lulie's prayer, "Please die for my sins so I don't have to go to Hell," and her follow-up comment to her prayer partner, "Here, smell my feet."

563. I blow up over coffee splashed on the carpet and sewing projects, I mean really freak out. A round of forgiveness and I tell the kids I'd go to Hell for that sort of display if it weren't for Jesus. Then Lulie wants to know all about Heaven and Hell. Grace.

564. Laying in bed with Luli, she whispers in my ear, "I like bunk beds," and tells me all about the warm side and the cold side of her blankie.

565. Learning coupons.

566. Peach pie.

567. Boxes of pizza. Garlic breadsticks. Gifts.

holy     experience

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Dinner. We pass around a skillet of eggs, a bowl of olives. The children put olives on all their fingers.

"Let's play Acts of Service/Words of Love," someone says, and we volley around the table. One child emptied the dishwasher; another put their laundry away. Daddy made dinner.

"My words of love," Jane says, "are for Momma." She tilts her head, "I love that she takes care of us even when it's really hard." She carves off a corner of egg, but forgets to eat it, waves her fork at me, "Okay Momma, it's your turn."

She smiles. I lean on an elbow, let the moment run long. ...even when it's hard. Suddenly none of it's hard.

The evening laces up into jammies and toothbrushes, bean bags, a game of Sequence. We grab each strand and weave. Such a good life.


528. A book of research on sleep and praise and lying.

529. Flowers from a friend. Orange, red, yellow. Chocolate, a card.

530. A borrowed pattern, and Libby's gentle strength in adversity.

531. Snaps, plastic snaps. Who knew they were such fun?!

532. Husband who insists on buying me snaps.

533. Little boy who hangs on my shoulders and tangles his fingers in my hair.

534. An all wool blazer, size 16, shrunk and felted to boy-size.

535. Wool soakers for the big kids instead of pull-ups, and Lucy's insistence that she'll wear hers all day long.

546. How Jack hums in my ear.

547. "I like that scarf with your shirt," husband says. "The orange and the blue look so nice together." Being seen.

548. "I want on your lap," Lulie curled like a cat when I read.

549. Jane and Math. "Don't use up all your free time between the problems," I say. How she still makes it down for story time.

550. Occam's Razor - all things equal, the theory with the least assumptions is the most correct. Elegant.

551. Lucy's blankie loved to a scruffy wad.

552. Cooks Illustrated hand-me-downs and a steak dinner on the farm, homemade french fries, crisp salad, cherry pie, blackberry pie.

553. Pete and Rosie, taco soup, brownies, a few rounds of Would You Rather.

554. How Craig putters away at trim and door jambs to make the house look finished.

555. A new phrase, "Think about the kind of person you want to be." And how even the littlest things make a big difference.

556. A fixed tooth.

557. Knitting with Momma.

558. Blue sky today.

holy     experience

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dog Hair

"Ugh. I'm so not a dog person," the words whip off my tongue. I wipe tufts of dog hair out of the washer. It clumps, sticks to the door window.

Jane hovers at my elbow, peers around me. I scrub the rubber seal and grumble. Jack and Lulie peek around the corner.

I slop wet dog-towels into the dryer, flop the door shut. "Yuck."

Jane raises her eyebrows, blinks, "Is it because you don't want to take care of them?" she says. I pick dog hair from between my fingers, try to deflate my frown. She stares.

I sigh. "No, I just don't want the washer full of hair."


The morning tumbles to motion with showers and apple cinnamon oatmeal. I diaper Rosie and make ponytails in the girls' hair. Lucy eats beans for breakfast, the ones she wouldn't eat for last night's dinner.

We even get to church early.

When I stand and sing, Jane's words come back to me. ...because you don't want to take care of them? The dogs. I pause, hang my head. Take care of them. It wasn't just dog hair; it was an invite, an opening to give and serve and make every trial small for my children's wide eyes. An opening. Too bad.

I pray for rivulets of grace.


506. Lucy unfazed by a dog bite.

507. Knitting small striped pants for Rosie. Apple red - soft yellow - turquoise - sage.

508. A new book of stamps and letters to write.

509. Extra candy canes saved up for homemade marshmallows.

510. How a water main burst and sop-soaked carpet and still my mother-in-law is the bright sun of optimism.

511. Grammie's hearing gradually better.

512. That we live in a country where colonoscopies are really considered no big deal. (?!)

513. Janie's careful observance of the cloth diapers and attempt at adult conversation, "So Momma, how is the cloth going?"

514. How stinkin' cute little Rosie's bum is all diapered up.

515. Pop-guns and hunting bears and lions in the basement with cousins.

516. Clear roads for morning runs even if the wind nearly rips you to ribbons.

517. My mom coming at o'dark hundred to watch the kids while we go to the doc.

518. Sewing with Jane.

519. A scarf with pockets and heart buttons that she made all herself.

520. Tuesday afternoons with my mom.

521. New dishes, white.

522. A night out. A date. A booth with high backs. Pop-overs. Fish. Coconut cake.

523. That after 10 years I like Craig more than when we met.

524. Nine bananas in the fruit basket, black for bread.

525. Influence with my children.

526. Lord, cover my imperfection.

527. Another week. Another try. More dog hair and trials and wide child-eyes.

holy     experience

On In Around button

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just Plain Life

"You're always pretty, Momma," Jane announces one morning. "Even if you were uglier than ugly, you're still pretty," she says.

I catch Daddy's grin, "Aw, thanks," I say.

Later, Jack jangles down the hallway. "I saw happiness in her eyes," he says, "and I knew she was grinning at me," he cries. He points to Rosie, hops with both feet onto the living room rug.

"I feel the bump on your tummy," Jane adds. "It always just seems to be there, even a year later, and even when you're not pregnant," she hugs me around the waist. I smooth her hair.

Later, bedtime and prayers, we collect in the bedroom. "Jesus," Janie prays, "help us to love you more tomorrow. One reason." She pauses, rubs folded hands on her forehead, "You made us," she says. "And we love you. Amen."

They cuddle into blankets. I swing into bottom bunk. "I like the boy you are growing into," I say and snug my arms around Jack.

He clicks the flashlight off, "I like the girl you're growing into," he says. I kiss his forehead and smoosh my cheek against his. The moment fades and the night wisps away like a puff of air.

And so, another week, here it is. May the moments greet us pretty and full of love.

After all, he made us.


487. Sister-in-laws, three. And how they've eased me into cloth diapering. Yes, I never thought I would do this.

488. The astounding number of diaper related things you can actually MAKE.

489. And that I like it.

490. A big dinner of fried chicken and fixin's at Grampa and Gramma's house. Football and cheering and knitting.

491. Friends that my kids say are so easy to have around, ones whose daddy grew up in Kenya and momma came from Minnesota, but they live here now.

492. Hand-me-downs, the kind with bright colors and nice lines.

493. A wood stove with a belly full of wood.

494. Family dates where we pass m&m's around the car and wheel around town making errands.

495. Clam dip.

496. Curtains made of canvas drop cloths.

497. Kids' shoes mostly put away.

498. Jane's new game where Saturday night we brainstorm ideas on how to be on time Sunday for church.

499. Monday Night Game Night.

500. Old Maid and how Lulie tries to get the Old Maid and holds on to her real tight if you start to draw that card.

501. The wild ruckus of cousins and how Janie is learning to look out for her brother.

502. How Logan tells everyone he and Jack are on the WATER TEAM since they both had water at dinner.

503. And how Lulie screams every time Thad pretends to be a wild elephant that bites people.

504. A pair of striped pants I'm knitting for Rosie.

505. The hope that every day we're a little more the people God wants us to be.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Right Here

"Momma, why were you just standing there?" Jane asks.

I pull shut the driver's door, "Oh," I say, "it's just so pretty out. I was standing there thinking maybe Jesus would come back just right then." I snap my seatbelt, ease the car into reverse, "But, he didn't so I just thought, Ok. Well, he's with me right here anyway. Then I got in the car." We back up and wheel out out into ice and blue sky. Trees droop with snow.

"God's in the car with us," Jack pipes from the back.

He smiles in the rear-view mirror, "How did you know?" I say, " Did you see him?"

He shakes his head, "I knew," he says "because he is in our hearts."

Janie shakes her head, "I knew, not because anyone told me," she says, "but because HE told me."

I spin out on the snow pack, steady our wheels down the road. HE told me. We settle into the quiet.

Moments flutter by. I hardly take notice. Sunday whittles down bedtime and prayers. "God, thank-you for making Jesus," Jack whispers on bottom bunk, "Actually, thank-you for making Mary so Jesus could be born," he says. "And thank-you for making me and our whole family. Help us grow strong, and healthy, and whole. In Jesus name, AMEN."

Prayer circles around the room. I stop, breathe slow, and try to be still.


470. Orange and green boy hat, knit in the round.

471. Blue bean bags for Craig and me and the kids piled on top.

472. New floor. New floor that takes four days instead of one to install.

473. Husband's unflappable spirit that spends four days on it.

474. Brother-in-law who helps.

475. Sister-in-law, niece, and nephew who juggle children and bins to organize our kids room for me.

476. Working side by side with people we love.

477. Soaking in the art of service from geniuses.

478. New boots, the kind you shouldn't have even tried on, but did, the kind you wished you didn't even known about until you get them as a gift.

479. A mother who shows me every day the dignity and grace of being a woman, how every moment is her best.

480. A miracle, the one we're praying will happen, the one where God heals little Rockie Amelia's hip whole and perfect.

481. That Great-Grammie was ok when the doctor checked the ear that had blood coming out of it. An infection. Antibiotics.

482. Our tree folded down and tucked away for next year.

483. Only one more broken red ball in the process.

484. Blue sky, white snow, dry crisp cold.

485. A new year.

486. Eye contact. My dogged determination to make eye contact with the children. My realization: I must to stop and look at them when they talk. Look. At. Them. So simple. So huge.

holy     experience