Sunday, November 29, 2015


"Oswald Chanbers says that obedience is what makes scripture make sense," I say. The night cold, ink black, we drive to Grammie's house. Thanksgiving. Fog hovers around the car. And we talk.

"Yeah," Craig says.

"Chambers says sometimes you read a scripture 365 times, but it's not until that 366th time that because of some obedience in your life, the meaning unlocks, and it makes sense to you," I say.

"Sometimes it makes sense to me the first time," Jane says from the seat behind me. Rum steamer in hand she cups the mug to her mouth, sips.

"Or maybe," I say, "your conscience is so sharpened to direct you to obedience that it makes sense the first time." A tray of sweet potatoes slides on the console between Craig and me. I steady it with my hand.

"Like if I do something wrong," Jane says, "I can't BEAR to listen to Revelation."

"Yeah," I say.

"So we should put that on every night?" Craig laughs.

"You can," Jane says. We snicker. She softens.

"That's a good thing, Jane," I say, "a very good thing."

A troubled conscience is a very good thing. How much worse to be comfortable with evil?

We read some things in the Bible three hundred and sixty-five times and they mean nothing to us, then all of a sudden we see what God means, because in some particular we have obeyed God, and instantly His nature is opened up. ~Oswald Chambers


5685. We gather with family for Thanksgiving. We each labor in our arenas of responsibility. Progress by small marks takes shape, another year gone by. We each share what we are thankful for. Universes of thought unfold.

5686. We find small moments of laughter in the midst of a messy house.

5687. We share treats, desserts and hors d'oeuvres, relationships weave between shared blessings.

5688. We continue to challenge our children to show grace to each other. We continue to flesh out gravity defying grace, love totally divorced from performance. It's like walking on water.

5689. We make peppermint patties from scratch.

5670. Craig gives me a package of gourmet hot chocolate.

5671. We invent an hors d'oeuvres: sharp cheddar, mashed sweet potato, and a dilly bean stacked on a cracker.

5672. We find contentment a welcome guest sitting there on our door step, down our hallways, stretched over the walls, and beneath the rugs, slipped snug between the sheets. The more we sacrifice, the more we love each other.

5673. We nearly finish a pot of burned soup, when I relent and throw out the last bit. The new pot of chicken soup tastes sweeter and saltier and richer than ever before.

5674. We pull each of the children a little closer and enjoy their shining faces.

5675. We prepare our hearts for the Christmas season.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Seat

"Her hand did get kind of caught in the seat," Jack says.

It's 8:45 pm, the children tumbled from dinner table to bed, toothbrushes scuttled through the nightly round.

Betsy won't nurse. She cries and cries. And cries. I think her arm feels weird.

"Did one of you try to pick Betsy up and have her get hurt?" I say. I roust children one at a time, groggy and bleary eyed.

"It was when I was folding down the seat in the car," Jack sobs. He's a cataract of tears. "I just thought she was ok," he says.

"Oh, no," I say.

Inconsolable. Jack. Betsy.

So we trounce to the ER -- nurses with kind faces, doctors with concerned eyes. We wait, and wait. And wait. Betsy gives startling and robust protest to the doctor exam. And we wait. And wait. An x-ray. And wait.

And then, nothing. There, in a black plastic chair, Betsy flaps and flaps that arm. She flaps like bird and grins. The arm is perfect. The doctor comes back.

"No fracture," she says.

"Nope," I say.

So we drive home. Home.

"I love you, Jack," I say. "Even if something terrible did happen to Betsy, I'd still. love. you."

Tears squeeze out of his eyes. He holds me in a bear hug.

"I love you no. matter. what."

Motherhood shatters in complexity. Danger and security hold hands. Immovable and moving mountains, there we stand. The universe parts around us.


5674. Betsy's arm is whole and strong.

5675. Craig ferries us through the ER with the ease of a pilot.

5676. We find many of the people there go to our church.

5677. I revisit the truth: I affect nothing. God affects everything. My dependence on him nourishes me.

5678. I work to ease my ebbing stress and subsequent headache.

5679. We endure a storm with hurricane force gusts. We lose power for 18 hours, but none of our food spoils. We stay warm by the fireplace.

5680. The storm passes, and I witness the destruction. Neighbors along my morning run have left houses crushed by fallen trees. Other pines lean wildly over power lines. Some completely block roads. Traffic lights don't work.

5681. People come together. Camaraderie ensues. More than 60% of the area without power three days later, we come together. We offer and open our homes. We talk. A special bond of shared pain brings us closer than ever. Even strangers are neighbors in a new way.

5682. My in-laws come for lunch. Even though I burn the soup, everyone eats it.

5683. Even in adversity, we find hope right there beside us -- especially, in adversity.

5684. Thanksgiving awaits. A grateful heart. We make this our treasure, our goal, our reality.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


"You can't force people," Jane says. Her long curls shawled around thin shoulders, she sketches.

Exercises. Each child practices. Jane and Jack sketch. Lucy pounds scales. Myra holds Betsy. Joe recites fragments of Ozymandias as he balances breakfast dishes to the kitchen. Enveloped in morning work, world politics intersect conversation. A presidential debate, and Jane's tracing free will beyond beyond chores, beyond theology.

We review the contenders, but her main question: Why don't people DO what's right?

You can't force people.

"It's like a lot of things with Christ," I say, "he just presents the truth and lets us choose." I sip my coffee. "He never forces us." I say. The washer lud-thuds in the background. Jane zigs a few zags on bumpy line of  zigzags. Encircled in the navy stripes of her shirt, she chews the idea.

"It's like truthfulness is it's own defense," she says.

"Huh, yup," I say. She hardly looks up. Three quarter length sleeves and navy stripes, I watch her

Truthfulness is it's own defense. And it's own antidote. Speak it at any time and freedom will follow.

We slip the idea into our pocket like a smooth stone and carry on.


5660. "If you want to play Trouble, Momma, I will," Joe says, "Do you want to play Trouble?" he says. Yes. Yes, I do.

5661. "Just a minute," I say. "One minute is like A THOUSAND minutes," he says.

5662. I discover migraines are a possible side effect of the vein procedure I had. At least I'm not so worried about the headaches I've been having.

5663. Thrift store finds, clothes for Jane, the backing for a quilt.

5664. Fresh shampoo, vitamins, and medicine.

5665. A new belt for Craig, black, simple, perfect.

5666. We learn to make pizza as a family and make it every night for a week.

5667. "Why does our conscience lead us with fear?" Jane asks me. "Because it is afraid of what we might lose." I say. "It steers us from evil, but it's God's goodness that draws us to him."

5668. Betsy starts calling me MOMMA, loud, clear, and with expressive eyebrows.

5669. "Mom, look how big of muscles I have," Joe says, his arms contorted in an almost flex.

5670. I make a new counter cleaner that smells just like a lemon San Pelligrino.

5671. I finally throw out the last garden bouquet, dried to a crisp, brownish on the countertop.

5672. Joe accidentally crushes half a carton of eggs in an unfortunate fall "helping" Myra make eggs for me.

5673. We find baby blue cowboy boots second hand. Jane and I share them.

5674. I continue to turn to the great grace and mercy in Christ. Perfect love -- this miracle encircles me.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


"I hope I marry a farmer," Lucy says. "I just really hope I marry a farmer." There in my peripheral, I look up.

"Yeah?" I say. My feet propped, post-varicose vein procedure, I peer at her over my toes. She sits on the sunroom step.

"I just hope I get to be a farmer's wife," she says.

"Why is that?" I say.

"I think it would be fun to learn to make lots of things out of one ingredient," she says, "like milk." I let the sway of her words lull me, milk elongated into a whole mouthful.

"Oh," I say.

"Like you can make ice cream and cream and butter," She tilts her head as if perusing an invisible list in her mind. "Stuff like that. I just think it would be so. fun."

She speaks with the constant motion of a conductor's hand. I find the gait as pleasing as her words. She dreams in gentle 6/8 time, all things triple and soft.


5642. Lucy plays me endless board games as my leg recovers. Win or lose, affection beats quiet time between us.

5643. Craig and Jane make homemade pizza as I convalesce -- and that after he made pancakes for breakfast.

5644. Craig washes the sheets and remakes our bed.

5645. He has the children clean the house and tidy up their school boxes.

5646. He finds me red patent leather shoes at a thrift shop.

5647. We find reasons to laugh together; more of a special bond ensues.

5648. Almond flavored homemade ice cream.

5649. Fresh sweet potato fries.

5650. I read more of His Utmost For His Highest and find true gems of contentment.

5651. Mom comes and visits with me as I rest.

5652. A friend blesses us with a good deal on a couch. The old red couch of many years, and many, many holes, finally gets replaced. Celebration!

5653. Betsy starts pulling herself up on things.

5654. She loves hugs and leans in to snuggle.

5655. Jack gets ready for church early so that he can double check if I need anything before he leaves.

5656. Knitting and more knitting, I continue to get great enjoyment out of the simple knitted project.

5657. Joey finally gets to go to church and help in Craig's class. "I just can't wait," he keeps saying all. weekend.

5658. Jack works to clear the garden of harvest debris.

5659. I still my heart to look into the eyes of my children and my husband and see them. This is true pleasure. I try not to miss a moment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just Think

"Just think of Sodom and Gomorrah," Jane says. Tuesday and we're traveling together. "It doesn't take very many good people for God to save a lot of bad people," she says.

Blue sky and intermittent clouds, we glide down the highway to Grammie's, our drive the usual hothouse of conversation.

"Yep," I say. For the sake of ten good men God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah. Would have.

"And God still did save the good people," she says.

"Yep," I say.

"Ya just have to make sure you're on the right side," she says. She directs the conversation with full arm gestures from the very back seat. "The right side in God's eyes," she says. Children chatter tangents on her words. They lace ideas, one looped around the next and the next.

As politics spiral, as the narrative of Revelation reads easier and easier each day, one thing is clear: persecution will come. Every ilk will find it. Ya just have to make sure you're on the right side.

I pray righteousness finds us, that we grab on with both hands, fall on our knees, and devote ourselves to the one thing, the one Person, that will make every struggle worth it. Jesus.


5627. Spices. New spices and herb blends for the simple kitchen. We bake a promised land of food from the simplest ingredients.  The pantry brims with fresh stores.

5628. I knit three quarters of a new pair of pants for Betsy.

5629. Coral peach yarn, I plan an Easter sweater for her.

5630. A knitting book of prayer shawls.

5631. New jars for the pantry spices.

5632. "I lied," Joe confesses. Slowly by slowly he grabs on to truth.      

5633. We play Settlers of Catan again and again. Symptoms of good sportsmanship emerge.

5634. I meet a friend via e-mail who has a daughter with the same name. Myra. Such a pretty name. We exchange knitting stories, our lives parallel from different sides of the country.

5635. We work to grow the children in kindness, kindness in adversity, kindness to the ungrateful. Siblings provide the perfect lab.

5636. The children bake apple crisp for Craig and me.

5637. Jane begins to learn Come Thou Fount. Lucy starts Holy, Holy, Holy.

5638. We receive TWO letters from George. Jane started writing the sponsor letters, and we received TWO in response.

5639. Betsy starts army crawling. The turn of one night, and suddenly she is into ev. ery. thing. Bits of dust, curls of hair, scraps of paper, snips of yarn, corners of furniture, everything makes it to her mouth.

5638. I try to slow the moments and enjoy each one. Each stubborn interruption a triumphant marker of the great responsibility God has entrusted to me. I marvel at this fine gem.

5641. At each turn I find Craig. There he is, doing the last thing I needed.