Sunday, December 30, 2012


"I want to go home to our real home." Jane's voice glides on alto wings, soft in the coal black night.

Still, in the hush of a long drive home, I smile. "Ya mean not our fake home?" I banter. Craig chuckles. I stretch my smile long and feel the pleasant tug fill my face.

"Yeah," she counters. The rolling marbles of mirth settle. Street lights, apricot orange in the soot black sky, whisk past.

"Where's our fake home?" Craig probes.

"It's where we're going now." Her face an open peony, she glances at Joey, strapped into the carseat at her elbow. She plucks up the slumber-limp hand, wraps his tiny fingers around her thumb.

"Where's our real home?" he returns.

"Heaven." She waves Joe's hand then glances at Craig in the rearview mirror. She looks away; he glances at her; I watch them both. The ordinary moves of conversation unfold.

"I pray for Jesus to come back," I add and look away before they see me spying.

"You mean before--" her words enfold in the strum of Joy To The World full and acoustic in the suburban.

"What?" I turn to face her, capture her words.

"You mean before a loaf of bread costs more than a day's pay?" she says audible now above joyous strum of guitar.

As she replies, I replay the words, press them flat in my mind. Revelation 6. "Yeah," I say. A loaf of bread for a day's wage. I let the long view of the world fill my mind as we sail on home.


4001. "I got all my Christmas wrapping done before," Jane sing-songs, Christmas Eve just begun, "so I could be like, ok, let's just enjoy the Christmas Recess."

4002. We celebrate the birth of Jesus with family, exchange gifts, enjoy the camaraderie of people we love.

4003. "Momma, watch this," Myra chirps. "I'm walking on my tip-toes. Yeah," she nods at the cool-ness of it.

4004. "Mom, what's gonna be for lunch?" Jack asks. "I hope it's just nutmeg logs," he dreams.

4005. Myra promenades past Joe and me shored up on the couch. She stops, observes him nursing. "Momma, Joe's trying to get milk out of there," she concludes.

4006. I meet up with my mom, and we chatter a morning away -- grocery shopping and coffee the perfect backdrop.

4007. Fennel. Ginger root. Peanut sauce. Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. Great spices make beans delicious.

4008. We make more peppermint bark popcorn.

4009. "Mom, we're gonna play Narnia today," Lucy announces. "And I've got a gun, and Jack's got a bow and arrow."

4010. Friends invite the whole lot of us to dinner. Italian beef on ciabatta rolls, angel food and berries-n-cream, coffee, conversation that weaves and encircles the belly-laughs of our children, the night blesses us.

4011. I confess to the kids that back in ancient Egypt the children actually didn't wear clothes. "Do you think they still do that from tome to time in Egypt today?" Jack wants to know.

4012. Myra dog-piles Craig, wallops Jack in the ear. "Oh, watch out!" I call. "What do you say when you accidentally kick someone in the head?" She straightens up. "Thank-you," she says.

4013. We continue our talk of heaven. "Then I can see Corrie ten Boom," Janie says, "and Uncle Kevin and Ronald Reagan."

4014. We come to rest after a month of celebration and find strength for the new year has gathered and grown, a secret underneath our feet.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


"Mom, I made a picture of the angels appearing to the shepherds." Jack corners me at the bottle-neck end of the kitchen, "and the shepherds and the sheep." He flaps the the paper like an eagle's wing.

The afternoon spins a pirouette under my feet. I stop, let the details skitter on. "Here, let me see."

He teeter-totters the pencil sketch, creased and curled corners. I wobble my head to catch the images. He, a marionette of motion, I capture his wrist and steady the paper.

Shepherd, angels, a bright star and lumpy sheep, and there, scrawled across the sky: MOMMY. He put my name with the angels.

Later we pray our thanksgiving for Christmas. "Can I pray first?" Jack fidgets, his knees gangly as we sit cross-legged.

"Sure," I say and glance over the children as they nestle into prayer.

"Jesus," he starts, "thanks for being born in a barn. And thanks that you died and rose again. Thanks for saving us. Amen."

A stone skittered on glassy pond, his prayer skirrs and scatters ripples. The other children pray, but I'm encircled by that old barn and the child inside. Died and rose again. What a miracle.


3881. "You can pick ONE person to help you," I referee as the children beg to help Jack launder Joe's diapers.

3882. "In a verse it says the devil seeks to devour us," Lucy offers as we wrap up gifts for Christmas.

3883. "I can make practically anything that doesn't use the oven," Janie says as we frost nutmeg logs.

3884. Jack and Jane wear goggles as we chop onions for stew and listen to Joy To The World 49 time on auto repeat.

3885. I notice stripes of soot on Jack's hands. "What's that on your hand?" I ask. "Ash," he says, "from the fireplace, of course."

3886. I settle in to nurse Joe. "Are you nursing a piglet?" Myra chirps.

3887. We pop cookies out of my pastry press. I turn my back and Lucy fires it at Jack.

3888. "I like FROSTING, Mom," Myra announces as I come in the kitchen. "Mmmm, that is GOOD."

3889. Myra tears a strip of wrapping paper. "That is FUN," she says.

3890. I ask Jane if she likes Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. "Yeah," she says, "you should totally read it. It's just totally you." Then she narrates how pristinely strict Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is and we both giggle.

3891. As we frost more cookies, I tell Jane she is not thinking about leading the other kids in a very grown up way. She pauses and then pipes up, "When you see that, I'd like you to tell me." And suddenly it seems grown up after all.

3892. Joe belches. Myra nods. "GOOD boy," she exhorts.

3893. We traipse off caroling at my parent's house, 18 of us slip-sliding on ice crusted earth, 300-plus candy canes to hand out to neighbors.

3894. The children tote the candy cane bag and shatter whole passel of candy canes as they slip behind-first on the ice again and again.

3895. Peppermint bark popcorn.

3896. I visit with niece and nephews and love every single one of them, the person each is becoming.

3897. We exchange gifts on my side and draw the morning and two days out long and sweet.

3898. The children build a mammoth snowman.

3899. We continue to engage the children, each at their points of need, and watch them become more poignant versions of themselves.

4000. I reflect again on my Savior, Jesus Christ, and my heart bows in gratitude.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Wonder what this is?" Lucy flops a mishmash of Christmas wrap like a leather strap over one knee.

"I don't know," I say.  She creases it in half, edges uneven then lopes around the ottoman.

"It's my card I made for Joey," she says. She clatters onto the black couch, plops next to me. "See? I made it for Joey."

She rests still for a moment, leans a cheek on my shoulder. I pause and jot in my journal. She scampers away, returns with an old bank ledger and black pen. She opens to the first page and forms a few letters.

"Can you write JOEY right here?" She points to the end of the letters. "It says: I love JOEY," she lilts. So I write JOEY. She captures the pen again. "Now, I'm gonna write: I love MYRA," she says and weaves the pen through more curls and curves.


"Momma, I can't wait for Christmas." Jane lingers, last at the lunch table. Propped on an elbow, cottage cheese long forgotten, she nudges the spoon.

"Uh-huh," I mumble, scurry a cranberry on to my fork. "Why is that?"

"'Cause I want to see Jack open his present." She leans in, clanks the spoon sideways, and ever so slightly, I lean in too. "I got him a blue one," she whispers. "He thought there was only one, and it was for me, but I have another."

She sits back scoops the cottage cheese again, cinnamon speckled, then idles it on the bowl's white edge. Like a kite string loose in the wind, she chatters. She flutters anticipation. "I also got Jack an H-A-T and a lollipop." Gifts unspool. She's a bobbin ribbon loose in the Christmas air.

We chase the last morsels around our dishes and dream about the gifts we will give.


Photo from  Urban Rose.

3861. My husband builds a new blog for the family {WELCOME}. He builds it for me. {LOVE}

3862. And my sis-in-law makes the header. 

3863. "Why do you not like port-a-potties?" Lucy wants to know. "I like 'em when we're fishing and need to go," she says.

3864. "I'm trusting Myra not to break my fort," Lucy announces and trots upstairs for school.

3865. "When you hear me reading aloud that means I'm reading to YOU," Jack says as he practices his lessons.

3866. "Mom I store conversations in here," Jane holds up an empty lead container, mechanical pencil in hand.

3867. We meet up at mom's and eat lentil soup. The week-to-week friendship grows sweeter with time.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3868. I make an attempt at a joke. "It's surprising when Mommy makes a joke," Jane says, "'cause she doesn't make them very often."

3869. "Wherever you go it's not nowhere," Lucy philosophizes.

3870. "I kinda like this," Jane comments on an outfit she picked out herself. "I think it might actually be sort of in style."

3871. Lentil soup, a bouquet of winter spices, nutmeg log cookies, and company. We treasure the time with my parents.

3872. We serve up leftover soup. "You should take two scoops, Daddy, 'cause you're still growing," Jack offers.

3873. Myra lays next to Joey on the floor. They hold hands and snuggle. Myra falls asleep.

3874. I sip coffee in the snow and go Christmas shopping with Mom. We trace the work of God in our lives and memorize the shape.

3875. I hide Christmas outfits for the kids.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3876. We indulge in drinking-chocolate at the monthly gallery meeting.

3877. Winter jacket: green, down, basically a big hug.

3878. Myra finds Jack asleep after nightly prayers, and before we can stop her, she slaps him awake for a hug.

3879. We have dinner and an afternoon on the farm. Good food, coffee and dessert, football and cards, the afternoon encircles us.

3880. Another week wound tightly around us, I thank the Lord for every moment. In light of the terrible CT shooting, I am struck again how every single moment is a gift. Even the hard moments, gifts from above. I pray to treasure every one.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eight Dollars

Photo from  Urban Rose.

"That's at least eight dollars." Jack arches his brow, pokes at a lump in my hand.

There, like a freshly hatched egg, a tangle of coins and bills, a snarl, curled, rumpled, pressed and softened, the money, he had hunted it out of the four corners of his drawer.

"That's at least eight dollars," he says again, voice resplendent. I unfurl my fingers, count it with my eyes: a five, two ones, change. Lucy peeks around Jack's shoulder. "For Lucy's pants," he adds, "that she wrecked." She gazes at my face. He holds his eyebrows in that perfect arc.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

I trace the crumpled bills, the linen-y green crushed around dimes and nickels, a penny, a quarter. I pull my eyes from the small heap in my palm, and there, Jack, face radiant, eyes splendorous blue.

In that split second of lucent blue, I see it. And then again in the shrug of his weightless shoulders when I say, "But don't you want to buy something with this?" Hope, hope unbending, the confidence of a man, all his boyish features hung on blink-less sacrifice. Love.

And so I look into his azure eyes and nod before he scampers off, Lucy in tow, adventure wild around their ankles. What could I do? I took the money. I tucked it away and memorized the resplendent resolve of his sacrifice.

Photo from  Urban Rose.


3834. "Mom," Lucy trills, "can alligators run faster than people?"

3835. "I want to jump into your arms, Daddy," she chimes.

3836. Craig finally solves the mystery: our dishwasher is leaking.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3837. He rearranges the kitchen, tears up floor boards, peels back linoleum, opens the bowels of the dishwasher and does triage on the leak.

3838. He rearranges our world to hopefully salvage the soggy subfloor.

3839. "I tooted, big one toot," Myra reports. "I want to SEE big one toot."

3840. "Thank-you that Daddy's tall enough to put the star on the tree," Jane prays after we dress the tree.

3841. "I really like that one star," Myra narrates.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3842. We snuff out all the lights and then illuminate the tree. "OOooooooh. Do it again, ok?" she says.

3843. "I taked this off my foot," she hands me a small brown bead. "It's a mole," she asseses.

3844. Picture, printed pictures, yay! Thanks, Rosie.

3845. Strawberry, raspberry tart.

3846. "It might be illegal for Myra to be a pirate," Jane oversees, "because you never hear about pirates in America. I mean it might have been ok a long time ago when Indians lived here, but not now."

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3847. "Where's HOLA?" Myra queries. "I want to do HOLA." Spanish. "When you're four you can do Spanish," I answer. "I'm FOUR," she says. "Mommy, I'm FOUR."

3848. Books, glorious book-finds. A whole stack of art and history, literature, science.

3849. When the kitchen goes sideways, Craig takes a day off and I end up getting to see my mom.

3850. "Mommy, make me safe," Lucy calls as she gallops into the kitchen and interrupts a game of tag to hug my legs.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3851. Craig's mom drops by with pears for the kids.

3852. We carol at a nursing home in town. Amid the ancient tunes and well worn faces, Christmas becomes real.

3853. I gift shop with Jane. She gives strong opinions about what people will like. We take up the art of gift giving.

3854. Joey gobbles up leftover sweet-taders, lunges at the spoon for more.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3855. I ask Myra to listen carefully, "I want you to go find some --," I pause. "CANDY," she nods. "Socks," I say.

3856. "Jane, can I scrub my hair myself?" Myra asks as we suit up for baths. "Yeeeessss," Jane concedes. "Your breath stinks," she adds.

3857. When I tuck Lucy in I find a length of toilet paper folded in to a kleenex in her bed. "I got toilet paper too," Myra calls from the bottom bunk, "in my tummy."

3858. A Christmas card, a family Christmas card.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

3859. The kids and I arrive on time to two events this week and almost on time to a third.

3860. Craig continues to anchor our family in confidence and character. I rest easy that he makes our burdens light.

Photo from  Urban Rose.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


"Wouldn't it be funny if the antichrist came to our house, " Lucy wrests the back door open, trots in from the henhouse, "and couldn't find anybody 'cause Jesus had snatched us up?" She grins, see-saws a buff egg in each hand.

She clomps a navy rain boot from each foot, lobs it onto a black tray masquerading as shoe mat. An egg cradled in each palm, her center of gravity recaptured, she presses one egg to her cheek. "Warm. Mom, it's still warm."

Myra bucks through the door. Lucy bobbles over the lip of the sunroom, "Myra, noooo. Watch out." 

Lucy sidles past the lawyer desk, then stops, snuffles the egg, sniffs it again, whiffs and snuffs. "If you smell eggs they smell like chickens," she chirps. Trifle-sniff-snuff. "This one smells like poopy," she adds. Then gentle between fingertips, she delivers it to Craig. 

All pluck and good cheer she trit-trots after Myra.

Trit-trot, trit-trot. Expectant, sanguine, the afternoon trails behind her in a wake.


3817. "Do you need one and a half cloves of butter for that?" Jack oversees the apple crisp recipe.

3818. I explain that women wear brassieres. "You wear unders on your ---," Lucy trails off, speechless. 

3819. The Tuesday-girls decide to all take personality tests and compare.

3820. "She cried a little bit, not very loud, so I sang Jesus Loves Me. And she said, MY LEG HURT. so I rubbed her leg." Jane says when I ask if Myra woke up in the night.

3821. "How-yoo-ya. How-yoo-ya. How-yoo-ya," Myra belts out in Christmas bliss.

3822. I get to go running with Cerissa and my Dad on vacation, always a pleasure.

3823. A dear friend calls and we spur each other on in the promise-land of motherhood.

3824. "I'm really trying to think of it as a high and holy calling, not just a mundane task," she says, and I tuck it away like a banner to pull out later.

3825. The girls and I paint our fingernails and toes, 80 in all.

3826. We celebrate Thanksgiving with Craig's side of the family. Buoyant cheer, merrymaking, and joy, peace, kindness, sweet potatoes and blackberry pie. Unmerited grace.

3827. Running shoes. I find my favorite running shoes on a special sale. Love!

3828. I skip-de-doo past the arms of more sale racks and head straight home.

3829. "Even when I give you bad news I'm still building trust," Lucy concludes on telling the truth.

3830. PENPAL letters.

3831. Crockpot chickpeas.

3832. Crockpot black beans.

3833. As the tides of morality ebb and flow in this country, our Savior ever remains the same. Constant. Sure. Purity himself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


"Mommy, I think I might know why this is such a rain storm," Lucy tweedles from the very back seat of the suburban.

Like a burst bag of M & M's on hardwood floor, rain droplets pummel the windshield, wipers feeble antennae in the deluge.

"The clouds maybe are exploding," she trills.

The squeak-squeak of wipers and the willowy curve of the road ahead, the children giddy, on we drive straightway to the ocean.

"What if God dressed up like you, and played tag," Jack grins to Jane, the corner of his mouth a toing-ing spring. "And then," Jack says, "He disappeared when you tried to touch Him?" He shakes his head as if a tree full of apples. They titter and guffaw.

"Mom, do you know what number infinium is?" Lucy chortles, grown-up knowledge all big inside of her. "Means it goes on forever," she lilts.

Forever. Infinium. I gather the moments like agates in the sand and tuck them in next to infinium.


3802. Voilent bluster of a storm, trees down, power out, we sleep a night in the crisp sheets of a fancy hotel, then to the beach house, to family.

3802. We walk the long salty beach.

3803. Rain and hail pelt our faces. We slosh our boots through puddles.

3804. Myra capsizes in the waves. Grandad carries her home.

3805. We line our pockets with agates.

3806. Air hockey, Banana Grams, Canasta, Gobblet, radio theatre, The Silver Chair, The Horse And His Boy, tall and fat mugs of coffee, pots of soup, late night pecan pie.

3807. Bowls of chocolates.

3808. The children gambol and hurrah with cousins, every staircase another winding adventure from which to leap.

3809. We visit the Newport Aquarium and the gaggle of us on field trip together.

3809. We slip into the hot tub, the children in bed. We chat and laugh and weave the bonds of friendship.

3810. Next day, we bring the ship-ful of children, all cheer and clamor, in the hot tub too.

3810. Thanksgiving dinner. 21 of us and a table long, long enough to seat this ocean of family, we eat together, high tide of loyalty and love thick at our elbows.

3811. A gull devours a crab out on the front drive. The children blink their amazement. "I wonder if gulls just don't have a way of cooking their food," Jack wonders.

3812. "Your spirit," Lucy announces, "how you feed your spirit is read your Bible. How you feed your tummy is eat regular food."

3813. "I'm thankful for Uncle James and Aunt Janey's hospitality," Jane says as we circle up for nightly prayer. Me too, and for the whole promenade of family gathered together.

3814. Craig drives the whole long trip to the ocean and back.

3815. "I love Joe's fit," Myra narrates on the way home.

3815. "Should I sit in the backseat for a little while," I offer later. Jane grins. "Then you can do damage control," she chirps, "'cause the kids don't necessarily always obey me, but they always obey you."

3816. Obey. Lord help me always obey You.