"Momma, that's a verse I wish I had memorized first." Jane leans an elbow on the dryer, flaps a tattered paper as if it were a wing.
I negotiate coffee in one hand, saturated diaper in the other. "Uh, here," I flop the dipe on the top of the washer, pluck up the streamer-thin paper. "Why is that?"
"Because," she says, "it would probably be deeper in my mind by now, and I like that verse."
I uncurl the paper, pull it flat between my fingers. "That's true. That's good. Ok, why don't you say it."
She tilts her head, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," she totters her head back and forth, stands on one foot, "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Not lacking anything. I force myself to slow, slow down. A whole rushing river of a day -- we pause. Trials. Joy. I listen to the hymn of her voice.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God," she continues, "who gives generously to all without finding fault." She grins. I hold on to her gaze. Without finding fault. Perseverance. I match cadence with the words.
A full deep breath and a silent boom lowers. The day blitzes on.
Perseverance, the crown jewel. I hold on tight.
"More, more, more," Myra chimes.
I glance up from our dinner prayer. I wrinkle my forehead, "You want to thank Jesus for more?"
"Yeah," she nods, punctuates with wide eyes and long blink.
"What do you want to thank Jesus for?"
She shuffles her shoulders, garbles, "Tus."
I blink, try to iron the word out in my mind, "Tus?"
I turn it over a couple more times, "Us?"
"Jesus, thank-you for US. Amen."
"That sunflower is so BIG," Jack tussles over the lawn, a yipping puppy at my heels.
"Yeah, that sunflower IS big. When they're big, they're big," Janie says.
"When they're big they're big," I chuckle.
"I though it was sort of funny I had to clarify that." She giggles. Jack slaps his knee, shakes his head.
"So how's it been, Jane?" For the afternoon, we leap-frog from summer sale to summer sale, stock up on kids' clothes. Jane and I, we swing our arms, hold hands. We weave conversation as we go.
"It's been," she pauses. I peer at her in the rearview mirror, "good." I smile, wait, let the words work their way out. "It's been -- normal," she finally says. "But it's good. I really like the normal."
She nods. We let silence wash in, warm and soft.
The normal, me too. Perseverance, it makes a way for normal to be good.
3383. I show the kids Auntie Rosie's blog. "Yeah, that looks like her," Jane says. "It looks like how she would do it."
3384. Lucy tries to persuade Jack, "Jack, it's nice to let ladies go first, you know."
3385. We backyard-picnic with families from our church, the ones we do life with. We compare notes and spur each other on. We rise to this grand occasion of raising children and leading our family.
3386. I tell Myra she's a crack-up. "No, you crack-up," she pounces back.
3387. We take a long afternoon with salad and lawn chairs. Rose, Lib, Mom, and I linger in the shade of a big tree at Mom's.
3388. Rockie blows bubbles in the pool, then demonstrates how her daddy does push-ups.
3389. "Jane, I'll tell you my best present at my party," Jack smiles, "my best present every year: people coming to my party."
3390. "Mommy," he says to me on his birthday, "maybe we can go to coffee together when we go on a date. I want to go to that place that has mints." And we do.
3391. Myra holds my face between her hands, kisses me on the lips.
3392. Jack turns 6.
3393. Lucy scrubs cucumbers at the kitchen sink. I interrupt the work to make coffee. "I just was being sweet 'cause I wanted to," she says.
3394. Joe smiles wide, splits the morning open. "Don't you like it when they look at you like, you are so AWESOME?" Jane asks and smiles at me as I beam at Joe.
3395. Myra kisses my toes while I nurse baby Joe.
3396. Lucy wraps up the evening, "Thank-you that Jane gots the baby that she wants. And thank-you that we won't obey the Devil. Amen."
3397. I sip coffee with Mom and exchange whole spools of conversation. We marvel at how pride motivates almost every bad decision.
3398. Toenail polish, cherry red.
3399. A new shirt, stripes and modern.
3400. We celebrate Jack with the big family barbecue. After a round-robin exhortation, Jack meets the eye of each guest and thanks them.
3401. Myra poops and pees in the toilet. Cerissa and I potty train Zeke and Myra side by side. Oh, how much lighter the work.
3402. Jane comments on Gramma, "She's one of those people that can read your mind before you even think it."
3403. Lucy punctuates the birthday season. "I like it that God's at my birthday every time."
3404. "He knows everything you do. He knows everything you do. He knows everything you do..." Lucy sings Jesus-songs while she delivers fresh folded laundry.
3405. Joe hums while he nurses.
3406. I serve mismatched burritos and sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, black rice salad, a mosaic of leftovers and almost-meals. "Mom, you make dinner so well," Lucy says.
3407. We explain the passover to the children. "The lamb saved them," Janie exclaims, "and Jesus is sometimes called the Lamb of God. It all just sort of fits together like a puzzle."
3408. Jack prays before bed, "Help Great-Grampa turn to you. And thank-you that Great-Grampa never tells lies."
3409. We zip to church Sunday morning. "Mom, is it hard to stay in the lines when you are driving?" he says from the back seat.
3410. We talk about how sometimes bad people prosper, how sometimes doing wicked things can get you ahead for a while. But in the end you always lose. As we sit on the edge of my bed, Jane nods, "It's like, you may be ahead on points, but you're gonna get pinned here in a couple of minutes."
3411. Pinned. When you're pinned being ahead doesn't matter. Every moment matters. I'm grateful and sobered.