Sunday, February 28, 2016


"God knows how to dig a hole to China," Joe says. He's on the potty. I'm waiting for him.

"What?" I say.

"God knows how to DIG a HOLE to China," he says.

"Oh," I say.

"Yeah," he says. ""Cause God knows EVERYTHING."

"Yep," I say.

"Bad guys CAN'T kill God," he says.

"Yeah?" I say.

"'Yeah, cause God is STRONGER than everyone," he says.

"Yup. Hurry up," I say. "We gotta go. Church has already started."

"Ooo-kay." We clip-clop into church a little late but right on topic.


"Mom and me are the only ones that can take care of Betsy," Joe tells Jane. "Not you or Jack or Lucy or Myra. Just ME and MOM."

"Oh," Jane says. A grin wiggles at the corner of her mouth. "Mom, Joe says you and him are the only ones that can take care of Betsy," she says.

"Oh," I say. His eyes serious and round, I smile into them. "Well, I guess when you babysit for me that's true," I say. Something of mirth softens around his eyes.

"Yeah," he says. Me-and-you-you-and-me, I can almost hear him say. We smile the special grin of inside knowledge.


"Hey Joe, go put these away," I say. The rest of us immersed in chores, I hand him a purple and a blue colored pencil. "They're NOT yours. Find out WHOSE they are."

"Oh. Okay." He trip-trops off in his boots.

"Are these yours?" He thrusts the pencils toward Jane.

"Yeah, thanks." She sets a trapezoidal rendering of Jack's pants on a leaning stack of laundry, then retrieves the pencils.

"Ohhhhhhh," Joe says. "YOU were lost-ing them. Whelp, Mom found them for you."

Bare chested, sweater and button-down shirt piled somewhere southwest of the kitchen, he's down to cowboy boots and jeans. It's almost confidence, or maybe that he hasn't yet learned to look over his own shoulder but, whatever it is, radiates from his bones, effortless.

I think of two burn marks on the utensil drawer where he figured out how to use a lighter all on his own. Two perfect black circles -- Craig was sure one of the big kids made them. O-kay, show us how, Craig had said. Not this one, not this on. Here, Joe had held up the navy blue bbq lighter. then struck it so we all could see.

He makes a mark everywhere he goes. We all do, little perfect circles of permanent marks.


5782. I find the perfect teacup with custom fit tea strainer. It has a lid and everything. A special treat.

5783. Mason jars, the really, really short ones with the big wide mouth.

5784. Fresh coconut oil.

5785. Our small group of almost 20 years now meets for our monthly dinner. Fellowship, there is no substitute.

5786. Fajita taco soup.

6787. Fried chicken and time on the farm.

5788. Jack and I spend a morning running intervals. Competition is gas in his engine. We laugh together.

5789. "God thanks that we got to go to church today and volunteer," Jack prays. "And please help us not to be tired tomorrow and even if we aren't, help us not act like it. Amen."

5790. "I could just hug you for hours," he says and hugs me tight.

5791. Hours. The days spin by a kaleidoscope of moments. By deliberation we treasure them all.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


"Though I wander, though I wander," Joe hum-sings as he slogs a knife in the peanut butter jar. "Bind my wandering heart to thee. Though I wander, though I wander..." Three-year-old falsetto warps loops in the kitchen.

"Joe, don't use that peanut butter," I bungle. "It's Daddy's mousetrap peanut butter."

"Oh," he holds up the knife. "See?"

"Yeah." A glob blops to the floor. "Clean it up," I say.

"Oh." He clackety-clacks cowboy boots around the drip, nabs a paper towel and circles back.


"Christ the Lord is risen today," the radio blares. The sun lemon-yellow and warm for February, we travel, the all us on errands with Craig. It took half the day to get gone, but here we are hymns blaring, children fresh and joyous.

Heading straight into the sun, we turn, glide to a stop at the frozen yogurt store.

"We just have four more verses," Lucy pants. "Can we just wait?" A-----lle--lu-u-ia flows out of the radio tidal and full.

Craig turns to me. "Just four more," he says. He shrugs, a grin ribboned across his face.

I laugh. His grin breaks into a chuckle.

"Ok," I say.

"Ok," he says.

Music settles like dew in afternoon sun. We leave the car, faces alighted with the unmistakable and invisible: goodwill. We sing together and something happens. Christ is there with us. Small moments of adoration make us who we are.


5769. A neighbor couple invites us to dinner. We spend an evening fellowshipping. Warm bonds form between us. They send us home with two bags of homemade pumpkin cookies. Watermelon, Joe calls them.

5770. The three older kids take turns joining my morning run. Three and a half miles, they keep up just fine.

5771. I injure my hip from turning to jabber with the kids so much during our runs. An easy weekend and I make a full recovery.

5772. The kids make Saturday pancakes.

5773. Cousins and Cerissa come for an afternoon of play. Coffee, tea, and play, I wonder why we don't do this more often.

5774. Joe finds a pencil grippie that works for him.

5775. My new tea pot comes. It works perfectly. Not even a tiny bit of loose tea escapes the mesh barrier.

5776. A warm bathrobe.

5777. I turn around to find Betsy standing in the highchair. Though previously buckled and secure, she has found a way around.

5778. We begin to teach the kids the value of money. We charge $0.05 rent on anything they leave laying out. Craig promises to take me out for dessert with any earnings.

5779. Jack starts planting his spring garden: multitudinous, rows of lettuce.

5780. After tracking mud in the house equally multitudinous times we arrange for all dirt transgressors to clean all floors on the main floor.

5781. We come to land in a new week with hope and goodwill growing up between us. Hard earned in both discipline and constant choice, we gradually reap the benefits. We like each other.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


"Joe, would you clear off the table for me," I say.

"But I wanted to play you chess," he says.

"Well," I say, "just put everything else away."


I settle into auto pilot, check the girls dialing back a disagreement in the bedroom, then eat the remnants my lunch still beach on the pull-out cutting board.

"Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne," Joe sings. He lines up chess pieces and sings. "Hark how the hea-ven-ly anthem drowns all music buuuut its own." He's up on the table, crouched over the chess board. He fishes a full set from the big black bowl.

"King," he says. He pauses, the black king. He gives it a shake and sets it in its square. "The king is in his castle," he says. "The KING is in his castle." He places piece by piece. Absent-minded, song effuses from him the scent of fresh cut grass.

"There," he sets the last white pawn. "This game is so good. I'm gonna be WHITE," he says.

He piles the other chess boards and the big black bowl, balances, then lumbers toward the stairs.

"Muscles," he says as he goes by. "SEE," he says. "Do you SEE my muscles?" he says. He wobbles and bobbles the Dr. Seusian stack, pauses. "Mom, can you carry this down?" he says.

"Just do it one at a time," I say. "Here," I pluck the bowl off the top.

"Um, ok."

He tritt-trots downstairs and back, then clucks his tongue as he waits in the sunroom for me to finish my work. He dives into a pile of decorative pillows shored up in the corner.

"Mom, Jonah is dead," he says. "Mom, did you know Jonah is dead?"


"How did Jonah get dead?" he says.

"He just got old."

"Oh, or MAYBE the fish..." he trails on. Sprites of commentary flit in every direction.


"Here, put this on." I nudge pj's across the floor to Joe. "And then," I start.

"And then I can have MILK?" he blusters.

"And then you can have some milk," I say. "I said you could so you can."

"Yeah," he says, "'cause you CAN'T change your mind."

"Well, I could change my mind," I say.

"But," he nods, raises one shoulder, "your 'yes' shall be 'yes' and your 'no' shall be 'no'."

"Yeah, I guess that's true." He scoops up the jammies, trots off. "Don't forget your pants," I call after him.

Your 'yes' shall be 'yes' and your 'no' shall be 'no'. He plucks it out of thin air. But, there it was the whole time, theology ever-present, the empty nothing holding all the air in the room.


5760. Green tea. Chai tea. Craig and I get each other tea for Valentine's Day.

5762. Fleece lined leggings. They buffer the wet cold of almost-spring.

5763. Spaghetti noodles. They fill in the cracks in meal planning.

5764. World Magazine. I discover a late Christmas gift, perfect for election year.

5765. Jack wraps up one wrestling league to participate in another.

5766. Jane, Jack, and Lu but heads in conflict. They finally distill the solution: start the morning with Bible reading and prayer and return to it if necessary.

5767. The slow plod of winter-almost-over, Jack and I dream of our spring garden.

5768. As days gradually grow longer we set our minds to be diligent in the small things.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lucy's Ball

"Lucy's ball got broken." Between thumb and forefinger Joe displays a green bouncy ball. A jagged rip now plied together with tape, he rotates his work.

"Oh," I say. "Who taped it?"

"It just got bounced so hard it went splat," he says. He wrinkles his forehead, blink-blink.

"Who taped it?" I say.

"Well," he lulls. "Uh, hm... it got bit." He hangs his chin, nods, droops the corner of his mouth down, down, down toward his chin. He flaps a hand as if conducting orchestra.

"Who taped it?" I say. "Did you?"

"Yeah." He talks in kid-bass, wells disappointment.

"Did you bite it?" I say.


"Was it you?"

"Yeah." The truth culled out, he deflates to repentant puppy, his peripheral vision fixed on my eyes. Something like relief, like a long, long exhale, comes lose, unravels, a whole skein piled there between us.

"Ah," I say. He waits. I let him. He squirms. "Go potty," I finally say. "We'll talk about this more when you get back."

"Okay," he bursts all symphony and trumpets. All that tape and he couldn't stop himself. The truth whiled itself out, as if a creature all it's own. It's tenacious that way, big enough to fill the sky, small enough to slip in my pocket. It's the third party in every conversation just waiting to be a skein of relieve between us.


5749. A Call To Prayer by J.C. Ryle. I'm halfway through it. It's the best book on prayer I've ever read.

5750. Popcorn and ginger ale.

5751. We celebrate Craig's birthday at home with board games and snacks.

5752. Noodles Alfredo, salad, open-faced corned beef sandwiches, family dinner takes a delicious turn. The best part is just being together.

5753. Friends invite us over for salmon. The whole big crew of us, but the night slips away effortless like water. Ten o'clock we head home full of joy.

5754. Dinner on the farm is always good. We enjoy Saturday lunch with Craig's family. The slow pace refreshes.

5755. Joey figures out how to fry eggs all on his own. Mirth unbridled, he cooks four panfuls before I realize and reign him in.

5756. We watch the Super Bowl together. Joe betrays our love of politics when he keeps calling the big game The Debate.

5757. Betsy continues to cruise along furniture and finagle her way to just about anywhere. Her use of sigh language explodes.

5758. Craig and I finally see the new Star Wars movie.

5759. The weather gradually changes, a little less bitter cold, less dank, more rain, less snow. We set our sights on a spring garden and our hearts on the future.