Sunday, August 13, 2017


"I'm gonna tell you something that motivates me," Jack says.

Across the tiny kitchen, I look up from a bowl half filled with fried oatmeal, scissors and a dried banana paused in my hands, teapot bubbling at my elbow, tug-tugging my immovable attention toward a poised pour-over coffee filter awaiting the water.

"Oh?" I say.

"Us working side by side," he says. His eyes squint reflexively, affection drawn up in the apples of his cheeks.

"Yeah?" I say. He nods, a half smile pulled gently from the corners of his mouth. "Hmmm. Me too," I say.

We nod, a half nod, a quiet acknowledgement like a stone rolled gently into the pond so as not to break the glassy surface. Then, we work, that special bond of creating order out of disorder. It's more like dancing, like playing piano with both hands than the 1-2-3-4 daily grind of chores.


"Wow, it just feels like we are drowning in all this," I find myself saying.

Now in the Niagara Falls of a kitchen remodel, whole walls torn down, floors peeled back, cupboards splintered and removed, dust-drywall-and-insulation mixed with crumbs from the toaster the kids hauled back into the kitchen for breakfast -- there I stand, hard deadlines a police state upheaving the whole house.

There at the front door, just heading home, a long day trailing after us, Daniel nods.

I nod. "Thanks so much for your help," I say. He and the whole extended family, the big rescuing army had been pouring over plans, wielding coils of wire, outlet plates, hammers, tool belts, saws, a shop vac, sledge hammers, nails, screws, drills, I'm speechless. Thank-you, thank-you, thank...

"Yup," he says. "You bet." He nods again, that same smile drawn up in happy nonchalance. "You're in good hands with Craig," he says.

Hmmm, good hands. Yes. And the simple statement frames the whole day, frames the whole house, laces through the walls like wiring. Fishes and loaves multiply before my eyes, provision arrives when we most need it and can least supply it. Speechless gratitude, humble adoration of Christ ensues.

It's a lozenge of hope, soothes the throat, the heart, and drips glucose into the blood.


6246. Family comes to help us tear apart and re-mantle our home.

6247. Betsy sprains her ankle; Jack gets pink eye; Lucy gets food poisoning; and still, somewhere, strength appears to carry us through.

6248. Then lunch arrives. Yup, un-beckoned, it appears in picnic form. All the fixin's, lunch jests at block party, then everyone returns to the work.

6249. Each time we almost catch our breath something else happens, something else lunges through the fray and grabs us by the neck and squeezes. Then somehow, even so, we take a deep breath and step through to the other side.

6250. The house is a cacophony of miscellaneous demo, reconstruction, supplies, tools, and regular life. The kids begin wearing safety glasses and earplugs like stocking caps and gloves in the winter.

6251. In the middle of it all, the post office looses a package I mailed to Mexico. Then, as if by miracle, PayPal offers a refund to replace the missing package.

6252. We attend a conference at church. Each day Mom and I pool resources to make a yummy grown-up lunch then discuss the pros and cons of each session in detail. The children listen and join in.

6253. Salted chocolate.

6254. Betsy's supposed to get her splint off tomorrow.

6255. I resolve to enjoy this season. So many permanent memories concentrated in one season, I set my mind to make them good -- not tidy, or easy, or maybe even fun, but good.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


"Feels weird being served first," Jane says. Jack's birthday and a tower of pancakes circles the table, Jane first.

"Well, that's probably good," I say. "It should feel weird."

"I usually just shoot for the middle," she says.

Off to her left and just louder than an evening breeze, "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first," Jack says.

"Well, you'll be in the middle in heaven then," I laugh.

"Even if I'm last, at least I'll be in heaven," she lilts.

"Haha, so true," I say.

So it is, joking and banter takes on new nuance. Subtlety weaves the fabric of days.


6237. The kitchen remodel begins. Demolition starts. And we sell the old big desk. A lovely couple from Switzerland takes it. Such sweet people I don't mind seeing it go, much.

6238. A neighbor brings us homemade banana bread cupcakes to celebrate the summer birthdays in our family.

6239. Family and neighbors stop by to contribute brawn and/or expertise to the remodel.

6240. The children while away hot summer hours flying kites with cousins, riding bikes, and splashing down the slip 'n slide. Finally the afternoons feel sufficiently long, like real summer days.

6241. The children continue to impress me with their ability to cook for themselves while we are busy working hard. Jane proves her stripes on the grill barbecuing burgers for the family.

6242. Joe recovers from a bee sting.

6243. I work through a bout of mastitis. Misery. Finally gone.

6244. I finish the autobiography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My abhorrence of evil and earth shattering adoration of Christ and his goodness ensues.

6245. At each turn God brings people into our path who love Him. Even the most unlikely places find us surrounded by those who carry His Spirit. I find this a great kindness.