"Hey. GUYS," Jane shouts. I slip out of the kitchen and sidle past the table, laundry in one arm, coffee in the other. "GUYS," she says, "there is NO way we can be on time now. No. Way. Everyone just come on and TRY." She slouches, sits on the ottoman, shoulders sagged at the end of a long sigh.
I make a break for the hallway. Jane addressed the kids, but there I am still in my pajamas, time expired and ticking out our lateness. I reach the corner of the piano, escape from scrutiny half a stride away. I stop, turn back to her.
"Jane, thank-you so much," I say. "I'm having a hard time managing my time and all with adding the baby in too." I smile, my forehead wrinkled up in apology. "I know we're late, but you have to understand that this is 15 minutes earlier than I was last week. Thank-you, honey, I'm so grateful for your help."
"Oh," she softens. "Here, do you want me to get shoes for Betsy?" she says.
"Yes," I say, my eyes pools of gratitude as I turn to scamper down the hall.
A cross between circus and the cogs of a clock, we soon trundle out the door, keys, coffee, and a water glass all in orbit, baby slung over one arm. I snap babe in the backseat and circle back to lock the front door.
"I think Dad will actually be really proud of you," Jane says as I double back again to close a backseat car door.
"So I guess I won't be quite as much a repulsive idiot as I was before," I say, the words out of my mouth before I can reel them in.
"What?" she says. I freeze.
"Oh," I say. "I actually am really ashamed of being late," I say.
"Oh," she says. "It's ok," she says.
I sigh another long breath, and she and I fold into the suburban with everyone else finally ready to chariot on to church.
"How about I drop you guys off this time," I say. "Jane, would you and Jack mind running upstairs with Joe? 'Cause it's going to take me a bit to unload George and Betsy." We're rounding the last turns, blue sky arresting and huge. I swallow lukewarm tea, golfball sized gulps, and plunk the mug back in a cupholder puddle.
"Wellll," Jane says, "I think actually, have Jack take Joe, and I'll stay here to help you with George and Betsy." Crinkles of relief at the corners of my eyes, I smile.
"Oh Jane," I say, "that would be great. Thank-you so much. Jack," I glance in the rearview mirror, "are you okay with that?"
"Yeah," he says. "Yeah, sure."
"Thank-you," I say. "Thank-you guys so. Much."
I feel the flex of something between us, tender tissues, the flesh of kindness. Loyalty like air, I breathe in, something stronger than being lovable: love.
"Ok," I say, "let's go."
And we do. Confidence finds us like earth beneath our feet. Relegated to the peripheral, confidence solidifies just in time for each step.
6238. "Jesus, please help us to communicate the Truth to people," Lucy prays. "And please help Donald Trump to be a good president."
6239. Betsy turns TWO.
6240. My brother helps us draw up a kitchen remodel plan since replacing the oven will require cutting into the cabinets on either side.
6241. "My garden will be pretty fertile when I grow up," Jack says.
6242. George starts smiling and smiling, his face awash with recognition each time. "Mom," his adoring eyes call out.
6243. I get to catch up with a friend, an afternoon visiting, berry crumble and tea included.
6244. I get to talk theology with a group of friends. Theology, so rarely the topic of discussion, and yet it undergirds everything. I note it's invisibility and yet importance.
6245. Jane and I have a strange experience shopping together. Another customer at one store is chatty and overly and weirdly interested in us. We both feel uncomfortable. In the car we pray about it, pray for safety and deliverance. Immediately we both feel completely different. It's almost as if something evil were punctured and disarmed. "Wow," Jane says, "Jesus really is the ONLY way."
6246. Craig's dad falls and breaks his leg. Surgery and rehab should fix the problem.
6247. Life gradually eases into a predictable and familiar rhythm. Old and cherished routines re-emerge. The perennials of life, I embrace them. Like my favorite peonies coming up each year, they fill my life with happiness.