Sunday, April 7, 2013


"Mmmm," my face pressed into Joe's cheek, I smell the top of his head. "Mmmmm," I hum, pause. "He actually smells like sweat," I say.

Jack, paper airplane mid-stroke, halts, and gallops over to the black couch, us.

Snuffle-snuff. He sniffs Joe's scraggly mop. "I like that smell," he says, gives Joe's arm a good man-ish shake, and lopes off to launch his plane.

Then it's Friday, and Joe's one -- one whole year old. We call the morning in with Happy Birthday, a big float of gifts and song, we parade in to wake him. And for all the excitement, he cries, big marble tears.

"Here, here," Jack offers, "here, have him open this one first." He flaps a gift bag, speckled green and orange confetti. I capture it, reach in, fish out a lump in the bottom, a bastillion of tape and paper. It's a heavy rock of a fortress. I wrest it open, break open the tape fissures with fingernails.

And inside: a gold medal, Jack's gold wrestling medal.

Joe grasps at my hand, the medal cool between my fingers.

"Give it to him, Momma. Give it to him," Lucy says.

He white knuckles the gold trophy, threshes it against his leg a few times, grins.

"I think he likes it because it's shiny," Jack says.

We all just stand there and stare at the gold medal and Joe, a whole year bunched up around our shoulders.


4314. Jane teaches us how to make paper people.

4315. She makes a Resurrection Day schedule then edits it to accommodate my migraine.

4316. Pancakes, plum sauce.

4317. Resurrection Day dinner.

4318. "Call from UNKNOWN. Call from UNKNOWN," croons the robotic phone voice. "That's a pretty good last name," Jack says.

4319. Ham salad with pecans and cranberries.

4320. Jane tops her oatmeal with raspberry jam. "The raspberry seeds in the jelly feel like pieces of gravel," decides.

4321. "I'm not scared of Daddy's vacuum," Myra announces as Craig rototills the garden.

4322. Craig wrestles that beast of a tiller up and down our mammoth garden, soil all black and soft.

4323. We eat pizza with Dad and Mom, compare notes on work and marriage, laugh, eat brownies.

4324. We potluck down on the farm. Everyone joins in, but the potpie steals the show.

4325. Honeydew melon, sweet, drippy.

4326. Twistable colored pencils.

4327. Rockwood bakery.

4328. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

4329. Friends join us for dinner and a leisure evening. The children pitch in, set the table, clear dishes, serve dessert, and we all turn in for an early night.

4330. Craig plants 96 tomato sees and nestles them in his mom's greenhouse for germination.

4331. The whole troop of family joins us for Joey's birthday party. And in all the carnival of conversation, paper plates, ice cream, chocolate sauce, and strawberries, family happens. The great big event of FAMILY.

4332. I ask Myra what her favorite story is. She pauses. "The Bible of Jesus," she states.

4333. Jane and I linger late into the night while Craig works and children sleep. We giggle over Joey's antics.

4334. Craig awakens the bikes out of hibernation and inflates all the flat tires. The children saddle up and glide up and down the street.

4335. I listen to Tim Keller speak to the employees at Google.

4336. Craig continues to lead us with both strength and humility. At each turn we want to please him more.


  1. Wow. Jack gives his gold medal to Joe. The symbol of the very best he can do, gifted away. So little Joe knows of the heart of his brother.

    Still, Joe does know something of Jack's kindness to him. And every now and then light will glint off that shiny gold and dazzle him anew.

  2. The story of the medal. It just scooped the air right out of my lungs. I read the story to my husband and cried. I see this big brother giving his prized possession, and I think of Father God and how he gave me his most prized possession, not reluctantly, but with eager joy. Somehow this simple story is profoundly significant. Thank you Bethany.

  3. I echo your previous commenters: I almost boo-hooed over the medal. I love your kiddos. The daddy-vacuum made me laugh. :)

  4. Happy belated birthday to "baby" Joe! Time sure flies, but I know you're enjoying every moment. Hugs.