Monday, March 28, 2011


"Jesus," Jane prays, "help us to be generous. Help us to just give and give until we have nothing."

The children clatter on. I catch my breath.

Our Bible lesson, it said, bring in the tithe, and, test me in this, and floodgates of heaven. But I didn't realize she'd offer him everything.


723. Squeals and clatter, the children with friends.

724, New history and math studies.

725. Laps we pound with the children 'round an old horse track down the road.

726. A conference and the uninterrupted cadence of adult talk.

727. How Rockie's cast looks just like a cute pair of purple pants.

728. Lulie's comment, "Horses don't WIPE," as she gestures to a pile of meadow muffins and points out there's no toilet paper in the barn.

729. Jane's confession about snooping at Grammie's and how she says, "I'm glad you made me tell Grammie. It made everything right."

730. How husband and kids rake out the garden, fill the green garden bin, and then change Rosie's poopy diapers for a whole day while I'm gone.

731. Left over tortellini, olives, peas and conversation -- dinner after the kids are in bed.

732. Husband's daily confidence for God's provision.

733. Fresh strawberries, black grapes, whip cream.

734. Awkward little honest-truths that slip out in conversation, little markers of truth-telling.

735. Resolve to be honest in all things.

736. Recent advice: make radical decisions based on your faith and live them out in front of your kids. Infect them with your faith.

737. How Jack peeks over my shoulder to see a "silent E" when I explain them to Janie.

738. How Lucy says, "No, you're a carrot!" when I call her a parrot.

739. How Rosie finally signs please, coy head tilt, and wide smile included.

740. Tomato seeds sprouted.

741. Impromptu day off with Craig and the kids and wind and sun and Gramma and Grampa and Great-Grammie.

742. My numb heart still afraid I'll have to give everything.

743. How faith seeps in.

holy     experience

Sunday, March 20, 2011


"Hey, are you guys praying?" Jane pokes her head around the Jack's bed post.

"No. We're just snuggling." I squeeze Jack. He pats my hands.

"I gotta tell you something." Janie's cheeks round with grin, "I just brushed my teeth with SOAP." Grin unleashes.

"Oh, no." I chortle in Jack's hair, "How was it?"

Mile-wide grin, "FUN." Her bottom lip flaps as she says, fun. We titter and tehee, split, peal, and giggle. Soap. Fun.

We settle: stories. Egyptian slaves, the escape, the Red Sea, Pharaoh's army, quail, manna, Mt. Sanai. Our evening weaves. The saga unrolls.

We eddy over Moses' tabernacle, the sacrifices. The blood. Blood. Everywhere. A stinky, sticky, ensanguined, mess. Butchered animals. All day long.

The children snug down under fleece covers. I remember how Jane once asked if we would have to sacrifice our dog if we were naughty back then.

"What kind of an animal would you have to kill if you lied?" Jane queries from top bunk.

I pause. "I don't know." We let that set.

"Was it a camel?" I can hear her furrowed brow even in the dark.

"No. I don't know what it was."

"Oh." We mull this over. Cogitate. Steep. We never see anything die these days.

Our story twines and twists. Then it's the cross and Jesus. They picture the details: how they whipped the skin off his back; how they jammed the wreath of thorns on his head; how they nailed through the wrist and ankle; how pinned there, splayed by pain, he suffocated. And still, his last breath, "TETELESTAI." It is FINISHED. Paid in FULL. Finished.

They take it in.

A small detail. A soldier pierces Jesus' side -- makes sure he's dead.

"When he stabbed Jesus on the cross," Jane wants to know, "how did he not get blood on the handle?" And there it is again, the blood, all that blood.

As I tell the stories, I wonder how I ever missed all that blood. I musta just been reading the words.


700. Lulie washes her hands with soap and a pebble-sixed blob of toothpaste, just to make sure.

701. Momma's suggestion, "Try thyme," and how baked potato soup bloomed creamy and salty and twang.

702. Tuesday with Ceris and Libby and Momma.

703. How Jane reads to the gaggle of cousins and comments, "Logan is a good listener. He just sat by me the whole time and asked questions on every page."

704. Lands' End winter clearance -- fall wardrobe for the Jane and Jack.

705. A laundry accident with borax and bleach and powdered white detergent, only one thing ruined. I think.

706. Wet bag I sewed myself (thanks Ceris) in spring green and ocean blue.

707. Mason jar with dark chocolate chunks.

708. How when I dumped half the jar in Sears, Jane and I plopped all the pieces back in the jar before the 10 sec. rule wore off.

709. How I shared my favorite olives and sourdough cheese crackers at dinner just to practice sharing. And how it was hard and exhilarating.

710. Salted chocolate. The kind that has little crunches of salt. The kind that husband brings home when you have a bad day.

711. First week of Rockie's cast half over.

712. Spaghetti and pumpkin pie birthday on the farm for freckled nephew.

713. Wrestling match we all tromp off to and how nephew wins two out of three.

714. How Jack pops up after praying at lunch, "I was bowing down," he says.

715. How they listen to the stories of Daniel over and over and OVER again.

716. Jane's grin and missing teeth when she gets a dinosaur out of the Goodie Basket for Jack.

717. Selling stuff, so liberating. And money for next year's school books.

718. Jane reading Dick and Jane for fun.

719. Endurance. And the will to go on. The will to finish.

720. How husband tells me, "Think of who you want to be, then decide what you should do."

721. How he hugs me when I'm angry, and I decide I don't want to be that angry person.

722. TETELESTAI. Salvation.

holy     experience

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ice Cream

"I think, Great-grandad and Kevin," Janie says. She furrows her brow, "And, you and Daddy and Rosie."

I pull around onto Sunset Boulevard. "Really? That's who you'd like to meet out of everyone in the whole world alive or dead?"

She nods. "Yeah." Two in heaven, three on Earth.

"Ok. What if you could have any question answered and know for sure that the answer was TRUE."

She tilts her head, squints, "Hmm." We pull under an overpass. Afternoon sun swells at our back. "This is gonna sound sort of funny," she says, "but I really want to know when," she annunciates with her lips, "they make the donuts." She waves the air, "Do they just use the donuts from the day before? Or do they come in 'bout the middle of the night to make them?"

"Well, that's a good question." I sail us over Paradise Valley, little black pick-up our chariot. "Maybe someday we'll figure it out." We linger in black pick-up's warm belly, then walk in step to the gallery meeting. Full of heaven and donuts and words shared like communion, another moment spins, plunks into a reservoir between us.


677. Almost gone ice cream carton, six sticky fingers.

678. New soaker pants, bright polka-dot and chocolate brown.

679. Fat green grapes.

680. C.S. Lewis' assessment that pride is ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration on the self.

681. Keller's counterpoint that humility isn't thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.

682. Rosie asleep on my back in orange backpack.

683. Another gallop around the block and Jane's assessment, "I think you're gonna be forced to use that backpack a lot more."

684. Peanut-butter and jelly picnic at the park. Brisk wind, flushed cheeks.

685. Jane's small hand in mine when we caper up the gallery stairs to fetch a paper for the meeting.

686. Her insistance that she sit in the meeting, not leave to meet Sidney the soft black puppy.

687. A dozen ropes of red licorice we share.

688. House at Pooh Corner and how the children giggle over the heffalump and Pooh's songs.

689. How Lulie wads the bathroom rug, jams it in the washer to cure a smudge that musta been poo.

690. How she scrubs it with disinfectant wipes first and then thoughtfully stuffs them back in the package.

691. How Jack clips his own fingernails.

692. How he hands me snaps one at a time as I plier them on to the new soakers.

693. Cousin birthday party and how Jane moves a mountain of school work to come.

694. The gathering of family, BIG family, and the devotion we feel to each person.

695. Tall girl cousin who whisks the children away for an hour of bliss and pretend.

696. Another breakfast with Grandad and how Jane has me re-tie her shoes to make sure they are extra tight.

697. Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, from thrift store shelf, and Janie's plea, "I just can't wait for you to read more of that."

698. Husband who wipes the table and counters smooth and fresh for morning, shines them up like love.

699. His unflappable, deliberate moves to serve me and bless me and give and give and how my pride bows checkmate to his ways.

holy     experience

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


"A bouncy ball." Lulie pokes a mole below my collar bone. "A bouncy ball."

"Don't." I shoo her chubby finger.

Poke. "A tiny bouncy ball."

"Honey don't, that hurts."

"A bouncy ball," she chimes, finger pointed.

I cover the nubby, "Lucy."

"When I be a woman," she says, "I will have a bouncy ball too."

And like the long sigh, the nervous hum, the occasional sniff, my children gather my flaws and call them perfect.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


"Momma, I have a question that I'm not gonna ask you 'til we get there." Jack cocks his head, "I can remember it for like a hundred days." He rests his elbow on the passenger window.

I wrestle little black pick-up into gear. "Ok. What is it?"

He raises both eyebrows, dips his head, "I'm not gonna ask you 'til we get to Star-a-bucks."


I tangle with clutch and second gear, wheel us down toward 16th. Sun warms our faces. He makes conversation. Value Village, puzzles, books, and grapes, "I'm gonna use my two five dollars to buy you and Daddy and Janie and Lucy grapes," he says.

I pull around an orange traffic cone. We slow, ease past parked cars, squeeze in next to an old snow bank. We scuffle doors shut. I click-clack in red shoes.

"Wanna hold my hand?" He cradles my fingers.

"You're already a good protector." I say

"Here," he grapples the bistro back door, props it with his shoe. Then he finds my hand again.

Before we sidle up to the pastry case, his cheek in my side, a whisper, "My question. Can we get something for Jane and Lulie?" He tussles through his green coat for wallet with green stripe.

After we pay, he asks for a plastic knife to chop the pumpkin scone in half.

"Do you like it?" I ask.

He smiles, all crumbs, "Yeah."

"What do you like?"

"Being here with you."

We make conversation, pick our favorite part of the parlor, the day, everything, and always he says, "You, Momma." You, Momma. Everything, you. And crumbs, crumbs everywhere.

He saws a last rectangle of scone into crumbled chunks, plops them in brown tissue bag. He folds the top over. "There."

He walks me through back bistro door, over black parking lot to black truck. We hold hands.


653. Little boy who holds my hand.

654. How he watches for cars, and struggles doors open and never watches for people to notice.

655. How he reminds me to forget myself and see instead of be seen.

656. Teal wool sweater and red shoes.

657. Orange backpack.

658. Sisterly advice from brother's wife and brother's wife's sister.

659. Jane's surprise when I say, "You're one of my favorite people to be with," and how she says it back again and again and I poke her in the ribs and she pokes me back.

660. Another bunk bed.

661. And how Craig muscles the whole big box home, just him and physics. And how he unpacks, repacks, and heaves bunk bed bones back to store when I declare, "It doesn't match."

662. How he buys a new one and assembles Lulie's dream come true.

663. A feast of beans and bacon and potatoes, carrots, brownies and caramel, and family. Family. And how before we know it, we stay way too late.

664. The wild raucous of cousins. "I like playing with my cousins so we can be better friends," Janie says.

665. A family date to a deli. Tuna and pickles, chips. And cookies. Cookies the size of a man's hand.

666. Dime-sized crumbles the children break off and pass me, "We're doubling you up, Momma. We're doubling you up with cookies," they say. Jack passes the most.

667. Coffee and a mostly clean house with sis-in-law. How she doesn't notice the crumbs and tells Lulu, "Rockie's lucky to have a cousin like you."

668. Body casts for babies. And how it means no surgery, we hope. And how Jesse and Libby just trust God, and trust God, and trust God.

669. Lulie's confident, "I'm bigger today," when Grandad takes her to breakfast.

670. Dinner on the farm. Soup, triple berry crisp, ice cream, leftovers sent home.

671. Peter for dinner and how he refuses tortilla chips but scoops clam dip with Ruffles, pops them in his mouth just like Dad, just exactly like Dad.

672. How he opens his eyes all wide, "Yeah." he says when I say, "Sure a lot to planning a wedding, huh?"

673. How he almost interrupts dinner to call Rose Emily 'cause he's crazy with love, the wedding way off in June and all.

672. Baked potato soup, full strength, in mason jar, irresistible like her friendship.

673. Jane in pink shirt and curls and her comment this morning, "Let's just pretend like it didn't happen," to fix the milk spilled on everyone.

674. How we rehabilitate Sunday clothes and traipse to church, mostly dry by the time we get there.

675. Rosie over diarrhea and on to coos and laughs and color books, pages dismantled.

676. Craig fresh shaven and smooth.

holy     experience

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"But we thought the mud would be warm."

A puddle forms between blizzards, swallows up the yard and bare feet.

"When we got in the mud, we had to take a BLACK bath," Lulie opens her eyes wide.

"I gotta get more lotion for Lulie's feet," Jack thumppity-thumps up the back stairs.

"Was she out in that puddle again?" Daddy calls.


"Where is she?"

"Down on the couch."

Downstairs, Daddy stokes the fire. Lucy watches, toes propped on coffee table.

"Did you go in that puddle so Jack would put lotion on your feet?"

"Yeah," she bobs her head, "because it smell good."

Jack drubs down the wooden stairs, pink baby lotion under elbow. "She wanted us to take care of her like a kid," he says, slaps his knee.

Later, steel cut oats, Jack propped at stove, tip-toe on red wooden stool. He rakes metal spatula with the grace of an ax.

"Wave extra for me," he shouts to the front door. Daddy backs little black pick-up down the driveway. Off to work. I wave with both hands.

Another day. Another good day.