Wednesday, December 30, 2009

His Fingerprints

My dad died three and a half years ago and my grief has ebbed and flowed as the tide. As time passes the tide stays out more often, and I'm okay with that. Last night however it came in with flood force. I was moving in to my almost done dining room. I put dad's clock up on my new mantle. It doesn't work, hasn't worked since the day he died. I opened it up to try the keys once again and accidentally opened the book of memory as well. The morning he died I was sitting with him at his house. He was agitated. He kept glancing up at the clock; muttering. So I asked, knowing the response "Dad do you need me to wind the clock?" He seemed to look me over. Please, I thought, I'm 32 I'm capable, let me help you. No go. He struggled to his feet shuffled over with his cane and wound it up. He left for the doctors a few minutes later not knowing he'd never come home. His last words to me were jest. He drove to his death and I stood there laughing. It was part of him, to always leave me with a laugh.
Memories pages fell forward a few days and I saw my brother going through dad's coin collection. The funeral was over. My brother was jubilant to get the long desired collection. I saw his excitement turn to preoccupation over the days and I asked why. He answered "I always wanted to share this with dad in life, but he never let me."
I was back in 2009 staring at the clock, staring at dad's smeared fingerprints all over the glass of it, the fingerprints I could never bear to wipe off. And suddenly I was angry. Angry that he never shared his clocks with me. Angry that he never shared his coin collection with Mike. Angry that he was selfish and left me with a clock that didn't work, a clock wound too tight. In a spatula-throwing burst of anger I grabbed the Windex and sprayed his fingerprints. I wiped them clean. Then I cried and went to find my husband.
Dave and I stood and looked out at the falling snow. I told him what I loved best about snow was that it covered everything. The dirty, the ugly, everything was tucked under it, made lovely. The verse I'd been saying over and over to the kids this week came to mind "love covers a multitude of sins." I loved my dad. My anger and dad's selfishness were buried under a deep blanket of God's forgiveness. I felt the peace of it flutter down.
We went to bed only to be waken abruptly at 1 am by a horrendous crash. Dave ran down. I laid in the dark; chilled. Dave's scared voice "Annie. Annie you need to come here." I came trembling down the stairs. Dave was holding a clock in his hands. "Annie your dad is mad at you for wiping off his fingerprints. I found his clock on the floor." Think of any expression you've ever read to describe a terrified person and I'd pretty much fit the bill. I looked closer at the clock in Dave's hand. I looked up at the mantle. I replied, "Geez Dave that's not dad's clock, that's your grandpa's clock. What've you been doing to him?!"
Dave and I went to bed laughing. That was dad's gift to always leave me with a laugh. I guess I haven't wiped his fingerprints off after all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just a note (no pun intended)

There's been a piano in my kitchen for two weeks. I'm not complaining, just stating an interesting fact. Maybe I'll miss it when it's gone. It's blocking two doors which means I have to go the long way around to put anything away. Which means I'm getting more exercise and will probably shed a few pounds of fudge before I know it. But if I still have a piano in my kitchen I also have a new Asian teapot, all blue and white and waiting. So just for those of you who felt you couldn't go through the day without knowing whether or not the piano was still in the kitchen, it is. Live in the relief of resolved curiosity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If we had only known.........

I am in bed at 7:46 pm for two reasons. The first being our house is freezing the second being I wrenched my back.

The floor guy looked at me today with eyes full of compassion and fear and informed me that we won't be able to be in our house for Christmas. If we had only known before we started redecorating TWO MONTHS ago that everything possible that could go wrong, would, we wouldn't have started. I am cold because we've had the heat off and all the windows open for three days because they're sanding the lead paint off the floor. Good thing I grew up in Alaska.
If we had known that overnight our house would become X-rated we would not have attempted to breed cats. I stir soup while cats mate at my feet. Cats mate under the school table while we chant presidents. Avonlea asks "Is this what you don't let me watch on TV?" My back is wrenched because I was moving a heavy chair to clean up cat spray and I twisted it. I try to think kittens.

Dave looks at me, as I moan, and asks the age old question, "What did you expect?"

I expected the house to be done cheerfully and without glitch in four weeks and I expected the cats to be discreet and rendezvous in the back of a dark closet, ONCE.

How many things in life would we never have attempted if we only knew how far from our ideals they would end up. Marriage? Children? So it's grace that keeps us optimistic. Grace that keeps the wounds clean. Grace that allows us the desire to try again. Grace that gives me a warm bed and lots of creative explanations of what the cats are doing. Just grace. Grace that allows and grace that sustains. Grace that lifts and fills and heals when life doesn't turn out the way we expected.
So we will enjoy the hospitality of our friends and we will have a Christmas we will certainly never forget. We will try to remember that Jesus did know the outcome of His coming before He came and HE CAME ANYWAY. And I'm pretty sure that in about two months I'll be talking about redecorating Rose's room and breeding the dog. Because grace is alive and active in my life.

Monday, December 14, 2009


This fall has been a hard one in various ways. Relational serpents deceive. Fallen deceived, mourn. The sin ripples spread, through family, friends. I medicate myself with decorating and tea. Only to come broke and bladder full on my knees at last. I come to the God who's comfort is free and decaffeinated. The God who never medicates, only heals. The healer of souls.

Sunday in service, Brian prayed, and one of his God pictures resonated. He prayed, reveling in the fact that God "never loses control." My mind flashed back to earlier that week when Avonlea's bad judgement on the use of her limbs intermingled with the dinner I had just pulled out of the oven and sent it sprawling with a juicy, lip-smackin splat, on the kitchen floor. I didn't say anything other than "are you okay?" but I picked up the spatula and hurled it across the kitchen. Ahhh, yes that's what I need to cling to, my God who never loses control.

And so my husband and I pray for sisters, and nieces, and friends, and circumstances that are utterly beyond our power or influence. We pray and release them fully to a completely competent Father.

The other night Grant looked at me with the love of the ages in his eyes and said "You should have been Jesus' mother." I smiled my wan smile and said "I don't think Jesus's mother would throw spatulas." Grant replied "Oh anyone could have done that!" I laughed, yes anyone could, most of us have, but God never will.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Rose with her thorns apparent

So small and naughty. I know, I know, that face is funny now but won't be at 16. Or 34....Hmmm....

Sunday, November 29, 2009


"The heavens declare the glory of God at every hour, but sometimes, in these cracks between day and night, they shout. The sight is so intense it threatens to spill over to ears, nose, fingertips, - what we see is a blast, a ringing chord that hangs in the air for a glorious moment and begins to fade so imperceptibly we don't notice at first.
A beautiful sunrise can be explained scientifically, but what explains the leap of our hearts when we see it?" Janie Cheaney

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Rose's Sunday School teacher informed me upon pick-up, "We were learning about Saul being mean to David today. Rose kept interrupting, saying 'Ro-Ro mean'." Sigh. Of course she'd say that on the weekend that he decided to give her a haircut. He was so proud of his handful of blond silk.
When Rowan was born Grant looked at him and asked, "Is he going to be a somebody?" I remember that as I watch them become the "somebody's" God created them to be. It's not always the "somebody" I want them to be. But that's kinda the point. I learn and they learn to pull together, to delight in the differences instead of just tolerate them. We make light of it, training laughter instead of anger. I hear Avonlea laugh, "Oh Grant, everything about us is opposite, it's amazing!" They learn who they are by learning who their siblings are. We encourage them to love eachother, yes, but more than that to like eachother.
So the teacher's words bring a sigh but also a smile. We are not conflict free but we are not laughter free either. Thank God.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Decorating with Dave

Let me tell you something you may not know about my husband. He has opinions. Yes...opinions about...wallpaper. I somehow stumbled into the mess of redecorating our living room and dining room. Somewhere in the chaos I decided to order wallpaper samples instead of just ordering the whole batch. Bad idea. Windows of red and green and beige stamp the walls and give us a peek into our future home. Lovely, really, a glimpse of things to come. One problem, Dave likes one glimpse I like another.

On many occasions Dave is putty in my hands. He loves me, he wants to please me, decorating is not usually on his list of passions. So I was a bit surprised to find this wallpaper resistance. He liked the red. I liked the green. I told him the red was too dark and we don't have a chandelier in that room so it would be a bloody tomb (or something like that). He punched a hole in the 100 year old ceiling and found wires and annihilated my light argument. "Red is victorian, red is regal, red is passionate." As much as I appreciated this burst of unusual eloquence, I liked the green.

Finally after 5 long hours he said, "Okay, you're the one who's home all the time, you're the decorator, get the green." I breathed a sigh of relief. As an afterthought he added, "I'll just hate it." Hhmm. I went into the parlor and ordered 20 rolls of red wallpaper. Who wants their husband to hate the living room?

Thus ended the wallpaper saga. We are now beginning the upholstery saga, for it seems my husband has a preference for what material will look best with his red room. I find it extremely diverting that my big, strong, utterly manly husband likes decorating. And really, I'm glad he cares. Even if he cares in red.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random Joy

All of my pumpkins.

Grant's face after he found a frog.

My little Beka (who I nannied when she was two) and her Mommy came for a surprise visit!

Page, my Alaskan psuedo-sister came for a talk-as-fast-and-as-much-as-you-can-in-24-hours visit.

Rowan and his side-kick love to dance with guns. (At least they're well rounded).
October was a month of friends and family. I grab a handful of the beautifully hued blessings falling from the trees right now and wax paper press them here. Many more litter the lawn and I lament that I am unable to capture them all! Thank God for bounty!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The hunters and the hunted...

So my husband announced his intention of going hunting (deer/gun) this year.........and bringing our seven year old son with him. Okay. I trust my husband with Grant, but more than that, I trust my God with my husband and son. He justified my trust last weekend.

I had my own share of adventure during the two days they were gone. My dear friend was moving and I wanted to help, my best friend from Alaska was visiting, etc. I prayed for my boys whenever I thought of them which was often, even in the night.

They returned safe and sound and I rejoiced. I knew that they were up about 45 minutes north of town and that they were sleeping in Dave's van. Apparently I wasn't the only one who figured this out. On Saturday night Dave woke up at about 2:30 in the morning and heard people talking outside the van. There were several (a car-ful) of men trying the doors, banging on the windows, etc. Dave realized that it was pitch dark, he had no idea where his weapon was, and it wasn't loaded. Grant slept peacefully. Dave's pulse raced as he peeked out the windows trying to decide what to do. Suddenly, one of the guys gave a yelp and took off full speed for their car, they all followed suit and jumped in, peeled out, and took off. Perhaps they didn't know there was anyone in the car, perhaps they saw an angel. Either way, God was absolutely taking care of them Saturday night and Sunday morning....

Hiking up they came across a pool of fresh blood and a dead bird. They stopped to check it out because it seemed odd that just the head (all but the beak) had been eaten and not the body. They kept hiking for about 15 minutes then turned around. When they got back to the bird there was only some bones and intestine left. Dave thinks a cougar hid when it heard them coming and then came back out and finished it's meal.

And God was here when my two "R"s got a hold of red lipstick and the white cat on Tuesday and I had to cut chunks of lipstick out of Ivanhoe. I know God was here because Rowan and Rose are still alive and that is supernatural in itself.........

Anyway, my boys are out again and my prayers flow freely. Will you add yours?

Monday, October 5, 2009


I marvel at people who tell me to enjoy these baby years "because they go so fast". Fast? Are they serious? The endless days out at sea with only diapers and jars of baby food. The flu that turns into an ear infection. The diaper rash that sticks closer than a brother. The nights I stumble out of bed for the fourth time trying to remember what room the crying child is in. The days of holding and wiping and kissing and laughing and crying and repeat cycle....forever. Or so it seemed.

Today Rowan turned four. Rowan, who didn't talk for the first three years of his life. Rowan, who caused me more tears and stress than I care to admit. Rowan, who taught me how to fervantly pray for my children. Rowan, who now calls me "mommy daaaarrling" and tells me he's going to marry me when he grows up.

And now I hold his sturdy four-year old body in my arms and I realize that the baby years are fading.......and they went too fast.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Girls

Two females rule this roost with me,
Posy-Rose and Avonlea
Beguile and amuse
As they choose
And with feminine charm
My levity, disarm
The Queenship is a ruse
I but a puppet, mouth what they muse
And should they demand the worship of the doll,
God help us all!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


The young woman that played hide-and-seek with my little girl emerged victorious. The hair that's been rarely trimmed and has grown for nine and a half years was cut last Tuesday. The ripe wheat heaped high on the floor and I thought of the fuzzy headed baby with laughing brown eyes and jack-o-lantern grin.

My sister Lisa was mortified when our mother cried over Lisa's first major haircut; so I sat dry-eyed, the tears unformed.

As we walked out Avonlea commented, "I didn't know hair weighed anything. I didn't realize it was so heavy until it was gone." Swish. Swish.

Shorn and sophisticated she's spent the last two days furiously writing poetry. She reads the poems to me dramatically, her hair swishes in all the right places and her brown eyes laugh. The conclusion brings a jack-o-lantern grin (she's getting adult teeth). The young lady is relentlessly emerging but the little girl still peeks out now and then. This slender elf, this bursting rose bud, this dancing, doodling, reading, writing, knitting wonder is my daughter. I'm so grateful for Avonlea.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The beach and kittens

Two very random completely incompatible things. The only thing they have in common is that our family loves them both!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am not afraid...really...

The school year looms.................

And there is much I anticipate......

I am not afraid of boredom...........
Or disorder....

Or lack of creativity..

The students, however, scare me to death!

Your prayers are always welcomed!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Orchard

To the city bred an orchard is a world in itself. The perfect symmetry of space balanced by the individuality of the trees. The bending branch. The tempting fruit. The sunlight pouring through the colander of leaves. The white towels haunting the corner. The music of little voices, some of the pipes still untuned. "Duck, duck..........GOOSH!"

School starts in two weeks and our grassy sprawls and finger slivers and bike races will be a memory of this beautiful summer and an anticipation of next years bounty. But today it is NOW. HERE. PRESENT. I simply bask in the dappled orchard light of today. I live it, breathe it, laugh it, and yes occasionally weep it, (did she really wet her pants again? Really?). I count my blessings as fast as they come and thank my God who gives them so generously. The orchard fruit will be harvested, the leaves will fall when the cold wind blows, but God's grace will remain.....forever.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly
lights, who does not change like shifting shadows....."

James 1:17

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things Rowan says...........

Rowan is my talkative lovable three year old. He's very funny, to put it mildly. Here's a few of his witicisms from the last few days.

Mommy "I love you Rowan."
Rowan (sigh) "Then obey me, okay?"

Rowan: "I have four favorite animals mommy. Frogs, toads, sheeps, and your hair."

Rowan: (sigh) "Some day you'll be nice to me mommy."

Rowan: "I haven't seen any fairies lately...."

I love to laugh so keep them coming baby!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The ball of yarn.........

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech:
night after night they display knowledge.
Psalms 19:1-2

Our lives roll along, a virtual ball of yarn, covering all that came before but changing shape nonetheless. A pulsating, passionate life. Or maybe not so much. Perhaps just a life that limps. Gathering strength like a cat crouched, mustering faith to pounce on tomorrow.

So I remember dusk. That time sacred to mingling of strength and weakness. Light and dark. Volume and silence. Dusk is balance illustrated. Sketched by the hand of God. Taught in a way that only God could teach it.

I want to bask in my sunshine moments of daylight and trust in the moonlit moments but I want to live my days in dusk. At one time I believed I was to choose whether I'd live the heights and depths kind of life or the middle ground play-it-safe kind of life. But living has shown me that the heights and depths just come. We have very little say over it. Very little choice. What we can choose is who we turn to in those moments, who we acknowledge them to have come from. Whose hand is holding the pencil.

Lord, give me the peace of dusk....................


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