Sunday, April 24, 2011

Popcorn Prayer

"And Jesus, I just thank-you so much for how I see Janie trying to be like you and trying to serve others." I nod as I pray. "Please just help us all to serve you like that including me." I bow my head over folded hands.

Popcorn prayer. Our children pop in and pray one after another, no special order. We just pray as it comes. I used to peek to make sure. Now I just wait.

"And Jesus," Jane prays, "help everyone to be more like me," she says, "and help me to be more like you. Amen."

From across the room, "Jack, your turn," Lulie belts, and he pops in, prays his turn, thanks Jesus for us all.

Prayer circles, and I picture my dad. My brothers and me, all fidgets and closed eyes, we prayed each night before bed. Dad sat still, eyes closed. And still, I hear his whisper, "Lord, help me be more like you." His invisible faith in invisible God pulsed like a heartbeat. It still does.

Now, encircled by his grandchildren we pray out that pulse, every night a new circle. As we linger, I hear it in Jane's words: Jesus, help everyone to be more like me, and help me to be more like you. Yes, that's it. Follow me; Follow me as I follow Christ. The burden of love.


797. Ragged cough almost gone.

798. A bouquet of snap barrettes and butterflies and pink headbands.

799. Coffee with new sis-in-law and how she made the dinner eggs for me.

800. How my brother rushed follow when Rose Emily had to leave early.

801. How we linger long enough to piece a whole puzzle.

802. Family banter over baked ham and sweet potatoes and savory melon salad.

803. How husband helped the boy in the wheel chair at church.

804. The gradual steps each day to not speak annoyed to the children.

805. A birthday party for 13 year old niece, the wild flower cake her little brother decorated especially for her, and the grape hyacinth he plucked from the garden and poked in the side of the cake.

806. That Craig's parents showed up late, not dead. Being that we've never seen them ever even once be late, death was the only thing we could think of. Thank the Lord for a mix-up on times!

807. That 13 year old niece makes junior high look way easier than I remember it.

808. How the cousins play and play and play until finally dinner.

809. Silver cookie scoop Janie finds and buys at an estate sale for two quarters and four pennies.

810. How the kids and I gather to watch the washer fill up with suds.

811. How when we have company Jane sets the table and fills the glasses with water while I chop salad.

812. How Jack hugs my waist, nuzzles me with his face while we watch the blender whirl up almond milk.

813. Soup at mom's with sisters-in-law.

814. Baby oranges, yellow bananas.

815. How Lulie tells me she's named one of her babies Rockie, "the one with the giant eyes," she says.

816. And how she lifts up a dolly and says, "See, this one's big," as she bounces the babe, "his legs almost touch the ground," she says.

817. How cousin Rockie gets a fresh body cast tomorrow for the second six weeks.

818. A giant jar of red tomato sauce.

819. How Rosie flaps her arms anytime Craig comes near.

820. That for all my imperfection I am not condemned to Hell but healed and made whole.

821. That Jesus suffered the cross for me.

holy     experience

Sunday, April 17, 2011


"Momma, I have a secret that I've been hiding that I just have to tell you." Jane blurts it out, fidgets, turns her head to me. Her mop of curls flop over one shoulder.


"I have a secret, and I'm just like I have to tell Momma." She looks up at the ceiling. We lay side by side on the bunk bed.

"Ok. What is it?" I lean on an elbow.

She turns to the wall, scrambles aside a pink tasseled fleece. "I've been coloring on the wall here." She frames it with her hands, but it's invisible in the dark. "I've been trying to hide it from you."

"Oh." I pause. "Well, you'll have to clean that up in the morning."

"With what?"

"What kind of a marker was it?" She details the sharpie marker and swoops and scribbles of a couple large decorative E's. We parse out how to scrub a wall.

Then she hugs me all elbows and knees, chin poked into my shoulder. We lay in the lull. Secret whispered away, we lock elbows, stare at the ceiling.

"I thought I would get in lots of trouble if I told you," she says.

"Yeah?" I squeeze her arm.

"I just thought I would do it anyway this once," she says, "just to see what would happen if I did."

"What'd you think?"

She pauses, "I think," she says, "I might do it again sometime." She squeezes my arm.

"I hope you always tell me your secrets," I say, "so we can fix things and make them better."

She giggles. Then her voice drops serious, "I hope I don't start doing lots of bad things," she says, "so I can have secrets and tell you." Secrets. A reciprocal sling shot of intimacy between us, it's magnetic, pulls us together.

"You don't have to have secrets to be close to me." We fall quiet. "You know, I tell my friends, no, a lot so I can be here with you anytime. You can be close to be anytime." She answers in a gangly hug strung up tight as a ball of yarn.

"Like how do you tell them, no?"

Another idea begins to take orbit. I say, no, to say, yes. In a small cavern carved out by her secret we step closer together. And for a moment she sees the trusses and facia, the drywall boundaries of my life that say, YES to her.


778. School with the children.

779. Checkered gingham, yellow and white smocking on baby Rose.

780. A night out -- coconut curried chicken, couscous with dried fruit and mint, eggplant, asparagus, cucumber salad, gourmet chef friend.

781. How we laughed until we cried and finished birthday celebration with pirouettes and sorbet, coconut, mango.

782. How my friend and her gourmet chef sister teach me how sisters become friends, and I how try to memorize all the moves so I can show my own children.

783. How as we drive away, husband and I shake our heads that we haven't gone out laughing into the night like that for so so very long. And how the next time we fight, we stop and stumble into goodwill, an unexpected destination between us.

784. A new gallery proposal. How the artist spills tears agains his will.

785. Jane with her piggy bank of tootsie rolls and how she doles them out until Jack and Lulie grin chocolate and sticky.

786. A deal on Rosetta Stone Spanish and how the children laugh giddy when I speak my broken Spanish to them.

787. How it all comes back, broken and all, as the program peddles out phrases. And how suddenly I'm back in there Aguascalientes shooing a lizard and trying to calm a classroom of children with only present-tense Spanish.

788. How Rosie rolls instead of crawls.

789. New patches for Lulie and how she almost patches on her day off all excited.

790. Earrings: paper cranes, thumbnail small, folded shiny red.

791. My cousins who fold 4 sets of the birds for sister-in-laws and me.

792. The gift of being noticed by them.

793. How my parents help us tuck the children in on Wednesday and we pray and I hear it again, just like when I was a kid, my dad's humble brokenness before God, humble and bold.

794. Manners -- how the children gradually take on manners the more we invite dinner guests.

795. How we all play tag in the yard and Craig always tries to tag me, and how even though he's the fastest, he lets Lulie tag him again and again.

796. How after the wild tag chase and after I turn my ankle and after we all trundle inside, I realize Craig's right, we don't always have to talk to feel close.

holy     experience

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Smaller Piece

"Remember Momma, 'bout what we talked about on our walk," Jack says. "Remember, Momma," he calls.

Craig and I balance a banana plant between us. Roots upturned and leaves laid sideways, it flops on the dining table. "Remember, Momma," Jack repeats.

I unfurl a plastic trash bag. We guide muss of root ball into bag, sigh at the dirt dust on our toes. "Oh, I do," I nod to red-headed boy.

"Remember, Momma," he whispers. He yoinks his eyebrows, wrinkles his forehead, and mouths the words: OUR DATE.

I nod, balance gangly banana leaf arms, and mouth back: I KNOW.

We smile.

Then it's lemon bread and black coffee, a red arm chair and a wooden coffee table. He holds the door and holds my hand. He asks the barista for peppermints from the big red bowl. We settle in.

"We're gonna play I Cut You Choose," I say. "That means whoever cuts the treat, the other person gets to choose the piece they want."

"I want you to cut."


"I'm gonna take the littler piece," he says off hand and then squints and studies and measures to find the littler one. We scoot the pieces into place.

"Grammie's getting taken care of by God," Jack says. He maneuvers a plum-sized chunk of lemon bread into his mouth.

"That's true," I say. "What do you mean?"

He licks a yellow crumb off his lip. "Grammie's getting taken care of by God when no one's there," he says his cheeks round with lemon. He licks at more crumble stuck around his mouth.

I carve my slice into bites. They squish soft in my mouth. He crumbles more lemon onto the jute rug.

"Did you know God's watching over you when no one's there, just like Grammie," I say.

He scoops up more lemon, his fork awkward and full. "Uh-huh," he nods, slurps chocolate milk.

We nibble down to the plate, wash down the dregs of coffee and milk. "So what makes today good for you?" I say.

He slurps, pauses, "Just goin' on a date with you."


761. More avocados.

762. Black shell peeled back, pit smooth as stone, we eat the green flesh, carve it out with salted tortilla chips and talk on into the afternoon, nourished.

763. Outside recess with the kids and cousins in the whipping wind and mid-day sun.

764. Rosy cheeks, cold fingers, children out of breath on dirt hills and a sideways piece of culvert.

765. Soft cheeks on afternoon pillows -- warmth and sleep encased.

766. Momma's blog.

767. A new friend.

768. New friends for my children.

769. How Janie practices saying sorry to a friend and it's not so hard and I don't supervise or make sure it happens, just ask her later, and we talk.

710. 51 tomato seedlings repotted in paper pots with mother-in-law's careful tutelage.

771. Lunch AND dinner on the farm and her sincere, "What you have to remember Bethany, is that it's not imposing. You're FAMILY."

772. Lulie's earache healed.

773. A date with husband for yogurt and coffee and grocery isle wandering.

774. How he speaks kindly to me.

775. How he never complains -- even when his back hurts a whole week straight.

776. Almond milk homemade in the blender with vanilla and dates for sweetness.

777. Good advice to eat lots of plants and I'll feel better.

holy     experience

Monday, April 4, 2011


"Jack use your sense of color," Jane demands.

The floor, a scatter of puzzle pieces, Jack reaches for one with half a leopard half a rhino. "I got a sense of color," he says, "I do, I do." He jabs at a partially assembled jungle.

"He's putting a leopard print on a bird," Jane flabbergasts.

He sighs, turns the piece, pops it in place. "See, I got a sense of color back in," he says.

47 pieces of jungle tumble on to the living room rug. They work the pieces one by one. Their hands flip them, rotate them, line them straight and scoop them back to box and cabinet. Between the segments they weave their world.

Lulie hums. An out-loud, drum of a hum, I suddenly realize it has words.

"The name of the Lord of me," she says, "the name of the Lord of me's YES SIR." She rotates the red feathers of a toucan. "The name of the Lord of me," she lilts. And "YES SIR." She blinks grown up and tilts her head, captures another piece.

The puzzle materializes again, that same 48th piece missing still. They don't mind.

And more, small puzzles occur all 'round the house. Little squarish and rectangular notes, they appear, markers of conversation pieced together.


744. A gun lesson from Daddy.

745. Their jaw-dropped, dumbfounded, "Wow! It shoots through WALLS!" when Daddy crafts a faux wall and shoots it.

746. A healthy fear and respect of guns coupled with their daddy's confidence.

747. Husband with his dad.

748. Jack's comment, "I saw a camel with a really little hump," and how we howl and laugh and call all the horses camels-with-really-little-humps.

749. Laundry soap that smells like honey and spring.

750. How husband volunteer-creates a newsletter for Spring of Hope in his off hours.

751. Avocado sliced on tortilla chips.

752. An afternoon with freckled cousin and how the children all make compasses and follow them who knows where naming every direction.

753. How husband caricatures me after a selfish day and we laugh nearly to tears.

754. Diligent attention to attitude and tone of voice as much as behavior.

755. Dutch butter cookies.

756. A bunch of good diaper deals this week.

757. How Jack jumps extra far off the monkey bars to impress me when I volunteer in his class at church.

758. Soup and red licorice at mom's.

759. Lulie's comment, eyebrows all serious, "If you pray and ask God, he will come into your tummy."

760. Another week fuller than the last of all the important things.

holy     experience