"What do you like about the book so far?" A bag bulged with blue swimsuits rests on the passenger seat. In a hollow of the afternoon Jane and I set out to return swimsuits. A receipt in my wallet secures a school book for us to pick up.
"Hmm," she says. I wait. The yellow air of late summer swirls past the car heavy with wheat dust and forest fire smoke. A chapter and a half in, I wonder what she thinks of The Hiding Place. "Hmm, I think," she nods, "I like how they are so trusting in God."
I nod, sip my black coffee. Trusting in God, I trace the wideness of her remark. Holland 1937, immanent invasion, occupation. Hitler. Concentration camps.
"I didn't expect you to say that," I finally say, "but I think that's what I like about it too." A hundred and fifty pages deeper in the story, I eddie at my bookmark. Trusting God, it still encircles the story.
We lull. The skein of conversation runs slack. I ease into the far left lane and round the corner. Autumn golden at the edge of the day, I pluck sunglasses off the top of my head, slide them on.
"One of the things I liked about William Tell," Jane tugs the thread of conversation, loops it through another story, another hero, "is how Walter was so trusting in God to let his dad shoot the apple off his head."
The Apple and the Arrow, I nod again. A feat of trust. Courage encircles injustice. We map this strange anatomy, memorize its bones, muscles. We let it sit between us, a spectacle, a masterpiece.
Our words slow, the golden air enfolds around us. Strands of words slow and turn, weave and interlace. I hold them light, reins that lead with the slightest touch.
3458. Lucy trots out of the sun room. "This would be a good picture: letting God go first on something," she says.
3459. A new nephew, Maxwell Jesse, arrives safely in this world. Eight pounds, one ounce, and a whole chorus of Hallelujah and amen.
3460. We celebrate Craig's dad's birthday with pie: pizza pie, peach pie, and blackberry pie.
3461. I find Jack asleep in bed with blue work gloves on.
3462. The kids roost at the head of our bed to watch Craig mow the lawn out a tiny window in the bedroom. When I go to bed a find an old red stool next to my pillow.
3463. "Bluey has sticky hands," Myra comments on her blankie.
3464. I eat Calamata pasta salad at Mom's. We ruminated on being prompt, how it's like a muscle and grows with use.
3466. Peanut flour.
3467. "I'm gonna have hotdogs tonight," Janie says. "'Cause I'm sitting by Grandad tonight, and he really likes that I have mustard just like him."
3468. Hamburgers and pineapple salsa outback with Dad and Mom on the coattails of summer.
3469. I ask Jane to make peace in the car while children squabble and posture, poke and prod. "That's gonna be hard," she says. Still, I exhort her, press on anyway. "Yep," she finally says, "that's the way we are in our family."
3470. Lamb chops and garden beans, tortellini and couscous, brownies, ice cream, strawberries and a wide open prairie walk: dear friends graft us into their family for a night.
3471. My dad's company invites us to the annual staff picnic. We spin the afternoon long in swimming and fellowship, barbecue from the local butcher, salads and sweets, pie and cookies, and a window into the lives behind their work.
3472. My youngest brother joins us for a night of cards. We laugh and laugh, humor effortless and unrolling at every turn.
3473. Furrowed brow and half-skip, Lucy jumps off the diving board for the very first time. "Jesus, thank-you that I was able to jump off the diving board," she says. "And I pray that I will be able to do a belly-flop. Amen."
3474. "Wow, it feels kind of weird to be organized," Jane comments on school the new year.
3475. "I have three blackberries," she sing-songs, homework finally finished up at the blackberry patch, "I'm gonna see if Great-Grammie wants them."
3476. We find Great-Grammie making zucchini bars, red carton of raisins in hand, her face a beacon of love.
3477. We scrape past thorny limbs of branches to pick buckets of blackberries down on the farm.
3478. "Dad, do you think Great-Grampa can fly 'cause he's in heaven?" Jack asks as we head home. "I think so," Craig tells him. "'Cause in the Bible," Janie adds, "it says something to the effect that our body will be like Jesus's, and he can fly." She shrugs. Jack nods. "Nothing is impossible for God," he says.
3479. Farm fresh honey.
3480. Corn on the cob.
3481. Jane finishes The Apple and the Arrow.
3482. My cousins, identical twins who played the flower girls in our wedding, head to college this week, just minutes from our house.
3483. I find a little rocking chair wedged in the pantry door when I tell the kids to get out a fresh pack of gum.
3484. Again and again I rein in the impulse to be too harsh on the kids this past full, full to bursting week.
3485. I encounter James 1:12, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. I think on how steadfastness is a marker of love. Simple but true.
3486. As life bursts up against my rough edges, I think on James and face the challenges as if I were made for that moment.