Sunday, May 29, 2011


"Hi sun," Lulie presses her lips to the window screen. "How are you today?" she stands tip-toe, leans her elbows deep into the couch back. "Good?" she chirps, "Good. Bye-bye." She slides down all in one motion and bumbles bare feet thumpty-thump through the kitchen.

The neighbor's cherry tree litters our yard with white petals. The wind sweeps and kicks drifts of them over the grass. A few moments and Lulie trundles in, a petal soft between thumb and forefinger.

"Look, mom," she says, "look what I found outside." She turns fingertips up. "That," she says, almost a whisper, "that might be from a bird." She raises both eyebrows, pets it soft, blinks. And then with a sigh, skitters off to more play.

The day swirls on. Concentric rings of play surround me. I order and reorder an army of dishes into sink and dishwasher, crunch dark chocolate like a low trumbling drum between my teeth. Tides of laundry, garden planting, school papers, they roll in and settle like surf around my ankles.

I brew coffee. And watch husband wrestle our rumpus rototiller. His broad shoulders will it in wide swaths deep into the garden and press it end to end. Black dirt unrolls, unfurls. I press my toes in the grass, Rosie piggy-back, white coffee mug in hand. He reigns the thrum-drum of that wild beast of a tiller and muscles it out of the garden. I watch him make great tiresome tasks, small like a communion wafer.

"Sorry, I've been sort of Sour Sal today," I blurt. "Will you forgive me?"

"Yup," he chimes, pauses and then heaves that roto on to the lawn. I sigh, smile.

Off to the side, Janie pipes in, "I know he still loves you," she says, and then lobs a stray chunk of sod into the green bin.

Children trail Craig. He edges the garden, and they pull and pull long snakes of sod away. The sod pops and breaks and tussles dirt everywhere. Still, we work, dirt dusted in our hair and clothes, smudged black on our hands. We work until sun sets and do the only thing we know to do, copy -- we copy Craig.

Love slips in, the smell of fresh turned dirt.


896. How Rosie smiles at the sound of my voice before she even opens her eyes.

897. Homemade Thai peanut sauce, limes squeezed with my own two hands, garlic crushed.

898. Big wings of lettuce and crisp tortilla chips dipped in it.

899. Two friends navigating the world of schooling their children.

900. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches shared.

901. Mason jar refilled with chocolate chips.

902. Friend who organizes my storage room into neat stacks as easy as riding a bike. How she turns work into art.

903. Pizza with big blots of sausage and wheels of onion, peels of pepperoni, cheese.

904. How Jane and Jack sneak out of bed and dress for church while Daddy's in the shower and then beg to go with him at 6:20 in the morning.

905. How he takes them with him.

906. Tortas de Aciete, essence of anise.

907. Two well child doctor visits. Clean bills of health.

908. Jane and Jack bobbing at my elbow, sweet and patient the whole doctor visit.

909. Rachelle's baby settled in a spica cast and how sister-in-law stops by to make it less scary with baby Rockie happy in hers.

910. A family outing to a play.

911. A visit over pizza and time spent with volunteers, the exchange of wisdom.

912. How we pray together.

913. The gradual accumulation of doing the right thing each day, how it adds up, how it compounds.

914. How Lulie keeps asking when we will brush off after I tell her we need to rush off to church.

915. How even when the wind fogs up her contact, she never complains.

916. Great-Grammie, now 96 years old, the weight and glory of almost a century.

917. How when the pastor says to thank the Lord for the ones that have been salt and light to you, I see my Dad and Mom in a million memories., Jesus.

918. Little friend who wants to come over for lunch, the tenderness of friendship.

919. How I'm learning to do small things with great love.

920. A garden drawn up and ready to plant.

921. How mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly.

922. Janie's prayer, "Jesus, help us to just pour out the blessings you've given us on other people. Help us to give them everything they need. Like if they need silverware, help us to give them that, or whatever they need help us to give that and bless others." Yes. May it be so.

holy     experience

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Their bare feet pound in, a chorus of drums -- thump-thump, thump-bump. Wrinkled leaves in palms, they heap the first harvest of mint up on my cutting board. I mince it down, pile it onto our salad.

Craig barbecues. I unfurl green fists of salad in white bowls, set places. We encircle the table and say grace, eat. The mint, the smoky meat, greek olives, cucumber, a kaleidoscope of summer, we visit enswirled in smells.

I pass ketchup and mustard down the line, blop jalapeno yogurt on my plate. "Mmmm."

"Mmmm," Janie echoes, "having mint on my salad reminds me of summer."

"Mmm. Me too." I swallow in big mouthfuls. "So good."

We grin. Mint. Summer. And in a small skip of a moment, it dawns on me: she's big, grown, old enough for a smell to evoke a whole season. A mile post, another chink in the path, and then before I can even swallow time skips on.


874. Lulie's eye doctor and how she scored perfect on the eye test.

875. Long drive to the big city and how we play Would You Rather, Kids' Edition.

876. The zoo! A whole half a day wandering the zoo. And how we all loved different animals.

877. Tea cookies. Lemon ginger creams.

878. Green grass, billowing rhubarb.

879. Honey yogurt.

880. Dried mangos.

881. How Jack suggests we do Sunday laundry after church and then does it.

882. Lulie's prayer, "And thank-you that you not stop loving us. Amen."

883. How Jane picks up after Jack and Lulie quiet and unnoticed, just for kindness.

884. How Rosie flaps her arms to the other kids when I get her up each morning.

885. A mountain of paper pots turned into six and a half flats of plants that husband hauls out to the sun every morning and back in at night.

886. The promise of a garden.

887. Momma e-mailin' to see how I'm doing.

888. A whole watermelon gobbled up save one small wedge.

889. Jack and Craig in new shirts -- wild plaid.

890. Fried chicken and spoiling-your-socks-off love on the farm.

891. A big bag of spinach.

892. Singing at the top of our lungs when we drive and how Lulie shouts, "HEY!" on all the wrong beat.

893. How my children melt under soft words of encouragement.

894. How Rosie folds her one-year-old hands when we pray.

895. Craig's cheerful advice, "Well if you want to be a better mom, just be a better wife." And how even though we giggle and laugh, it's so true.

Thanks, Momma, for the photo.

holy     experience

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birthday Party

"That Dana and Susan, mmmm, their special," she says. Her voice rattles. The wrinkles at the corners of her eyes smile. "Mmmm, that Dana, he always talks to me," Great-Grammie squints when she smiles. "And Susan, she held the baby for you."

The living room splayed in tissue wrap and dust from the feet of family, Craig's Grammie and I squint our eyes and take in the last moments, ride out the coattails of the evening. Another birthday and our whole big family gathers. Conversation spins like a giant ferris wheel. I marvel at the love between us.

"And, I told him I will pray for him," she nods.

"Oh, thank-you, Grammie, thank-you." I pat her arm.

Everyday she prays down her prayer list, stair steps into the day on angel wings. I watch her white hair all curls and wisp. She talks on with love for my parents, and as she weaves the words, I feel it, the underpinnings of love: the strength one generation passes to the next.


856. A pink dress, white flowers and ruffles for Peter and Rose's wedding.

857. Silver flip-flops to match.

858. A bouquet of pretty clothes for girls.

859. Jack and Craig off fishing like men.

860. Myra Rose nuzzled into my neck.

861. A family date at the Costco deli and how we all share my almond rolled chocolate ice cream bar.

862. A wedding shower and how us sister-in-laws gather like friends.

863. How niece and nephew come early when they ride to church with us and dress the baby and feed the children and add many hands to our morning routine.

864. How we all trundle into church early for once.

865. Slow rain that drenches deep.

866. Rotisserie chicken, caesar salad, wild rice with caramelized onions, and dinner rolls: birthday dinner.

867. The salutation: you're the people who care about these kids the most, I'm so glad you could be here. Family.

868. Bare feet, fresh swept hardwood floors.

869. How Jane and I spend away a whole afternoon folding paper pots and sipping coffee and sweet-milk.

870. Lulie's declaration," I'm a WOMAN now because I'm BIGGER," eyebrows raised, chin tucked.

871. The gush of love I feel for my parents when Great-Grammie speaks such affection for them.

872. How husband rolls up the big living room rug and shines the floors for the party. And how he leaves our big dining table moored out in the living room just for a change, for me.

873. His strong arms and steady pace.

holy     experience

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Well, I just won't buy you nice clothes, if you get stuff on them like that.

My words circle back to me. Jane, there on the hearth, she tries to rub jelly off her shirt. It embeds, a purple blot on peony pink. I huff.

Across the room, Craig's eyes ensnare me, a snag run down the middle of my anger. I look away and sigh.

At night we pray, again. We circle up and encircle each other with our prayers.

"Please forgive me." I say, "for letting my temper get away from me. I know that's wrong. I don't want to be that way. Jesus, please forgive me." I sag, eyes closed, stoop in confession.

As quiet rests between us, Jane prays. "Please help us to love people," she says, "because I know when we love people really we're loving you." It's a salve. "Even though it's hard, help us to love people."

As the others pray, I'm still. I breathe in her words. They loop and repeat. I marvel: beyond me, she sees him, Jesus.


835. Queso burrito slathered in beans and corn salsa, and how husband bought one for each of us, a date at home.

836. Sugar cookies made with almond extract and how husband and I finish the whole frozen bag of them.

837. How the children let me sleep until 8:19 today.

838. How they whirled away at homemade cards and shared the colored pencils, the ones still sharp enough to color.

839. Honeydew mellon chopped in chunks.

840. It's cool sweet juice.

841. How husband bought me all that spinach, fresh pineapple, and limes after I tried the frothy green smoothie sample at Costco.

842. How my mom and I exchanged Mother's Day cards.

843. Her etching card and words of love and gift all tucked inside.

844. Each of our children now gradually back to their same pre-sick selves.

845. How all six of us pick up and volunteer at church tonight together as a family -- a new way of being together.

846. Jack's quiet, "What else can I do to help, Momma?" And how he picks up all the leggos, stows away the play dishes, and scoops all the girls' hair bow up and into bathroom drawers.

847. Mother/Daughter Tea for all the girls in husband's hometown, and how my girls and I join the ranks to complete four generations (four!), and the distinct weight of that honor.

848. Wild stripey pants knit three quarters the way to completion.

849. Little Rosie Posie now officially one year old.

850. How Lulie lugs the her baby cradle across the room from Rosie. "I don't want her to choke on this," she reports and chunks the big cradle down with a thud.

851. Zinnias, marigolds and basil sprouted.

852. A utility sink at a smashing deal -- only a couple of cracks to glue and clamp down to perfection.

853. A nugget of wisdom: It's not that hard to figure out what you want to do; it's hard to figure out what you will quit doing so you can do what you want to do.

854. The gradual realization that I have of a small, narrow window of time to pour myself into our children, and the obvious, that it will close completely, chink shut like a gate, never be opened with such ease again.

855. The thrill of this assignment. The high stakes. The pressure. The complete demand of my intellect and endurance. A grand endeavor. Wow. How many grand endeavors do we really get offered? I embrace it. May my faith grow to fill these shoes. Thank-you Jesus.

holy     experience

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Small Stuff

"I couldn't reach the bucket, 'cause I left it on my bed," Jack warbles, sobs. And then the realization hits: There's puke in the bedroom. The laundry basket caught half, then the leggos and carpet.

Now that I'm an official cleaner upper of both diarrhea in a bed and vomit down my shirt in a public place, you would think Jack's statement would not take us off guard. Indeed. Even so, Craig, bless his heart, managed to procure an new pair of running shoes for me while I hid in the car. The small things, right?

"Jesus," Jane prays, "thank-you for all of us. And help us to be the meek more often."

The meek. Indeed, may it be so.


822. How Lulie and I sit in the sun on the old navy lawn chair and crunch graham crackers for 20 minutes before we realize our behinds are all wet.

823. How I try to tell Craig, I do poo he does puke, but we both help each other anyway.

824. That my parents brave the sick ward to join us for dinner.

825. That Rosie's up and coughing instead of listless.

826. Jane's appeal, "Momma, I have something I really want you to do, but you don't have to. I would just really appreciate it," when she wants me to get her baby bear out of the car.

827. A couple of extra hours with Craig this morning and how he piles the dining table with neat stacks of coupons clipped from the Sunday ads.

828. How Jack sacks out on the bathroom floor in case he gets sick again tonight.

829. A clean tidy laundry station.

830. Mason jars of laundry soap.

831. Children that cuddle like chickies under my wings.

832. That we're the ones to care for these children.

833. How Craig leads without micro-managing.

834. Learning to follow.

holy     experience