Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today I remember.
Gray-blue eyes like my sisters, like my son's.
Laughter that gave and filled and joined.
A man wearing an imaginary coonskin cap and heading west.
A boy trapped inside a large man's body.
The eager pursuit of Indians and animals.
A man cutting the lawn with the scissors.
My dad, as I first knew him, sitting at a campsite in Alaska, white t-shirt, blue jeans, crew cut.

We walked to the cemetery and left an odd assortment. The kids decorated the stone with flowers, weeds, gravel, roses tied with a blue ribbon. We walked out of the cemetery singing, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." Hands held, Grant's fingers entwined with mine. Rowan and Posy skipped ahead, hands clasped and swinging, joy personified.
The day grew dusky and ripe.
Dave joined me and asked the four-year old question: "Are you sad?"
I replied, "I'm trying to be."
But really, there's no mourning, only remembering.
Remembering and Laughing and Praising.
Thank you God for my dad!

Friday, May 28, 2010


I wish it were always this easy.
Avonlea and Grant had state testing yesterday and today for their appropriate grade levels.
They went into a room full of other home schooled children, whipped out their pencils and scrap paper, and tried their best.
I, with about 40 other harassed women, corrected their papers at the end today. I put a transparent sheet with the correct answers on top of their paper and marked the ones that didn't match up. So simple.
The tests showed what I already knew; sometimes the wrong answer looks like the right one.

Sometimes I wish the multiple choice questions of life had less options. Sometimes I wish I had the answer key and I could follow the pattern and adjust the mistakes. Sometimes I wish I could just go Home and not answer anymore questions. Sometimes I wish that I knew, what I know now, when I was in second grade (I'd show them).
Sometimes I think of life in this scenario. God, heavy ink pen in hand, leaving a Holy blot where the correct answer should have been. Filling in my percentile, "Annie is better than 33% of other Christians." Jotting my grade level, "She completed the test for a 35 year old but tested at about 27." Commenting, "Retake gentleness and self-control. Do a refresher in perseverance. Scores in loving were so low she better just forget it, no one can do everything!"

No wonder our nation's philosophy on education is dancing to the mantra of "There are no wrong answers!"

Reading through Job this week in school has brought testing to the forefront of our minds. Watching my children sweat and squirm and doubt themselves has looked all too familiar to me. My own words haunt, "This is not the accumulation of who you are." Because in a sense, the tests/trials we go through ARE an accumulation of who we are and who we will become.
So I pray for grace in the days of testing. Peace over the problem-solving. Wisdom, to live what God's Word has said. Perseverance, to dig deeper into God's word. Faith, to know that God forgives and He grades on the curve of Jesus. Hope, to finish with joy.

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth with a 100%"
Job 23:10

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psalm 23 and Porcupines

I thought I didn't understand what she was saying. It's a common occurrence when conversing with a three year old.
"Jake? Is his name Jake?" I asked tentatively as Rose pointed at a picture of a man.
"NO! HIS NAME'S SAKE!" Exasperation peered at me out of big grey eyes.
Okay, who do we know named Sake? Is she just making up a random name for this random man's picture? Ahhh, it clicked.
"Oh Rosy do you mean 'He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake?!'"
"Yeah," she points at the picture again, "His name is Sake."
I laughed and hugged her and thought, okay that was random. But it wasn't.
It happened again a few days later. She was sitting at the kitchen table telling me about something she had done with Rowan.
"He's such a good brother to you isn't he?" I prompted praise.
"Yeah, he leads me beside still water."

In science this week we are studying insectivores. A hedge hog belongs in this class. One difference between a hedge hog and a porcupine is that a hedge hog's quills are needle-like and a porcupine's quills are barbed.

I'm am reading two very good books right now, A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming and Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. I would highly recommend both. They jab me with quills of beauty and hope and shame and desire. But, the quills are hedge hog quills, they sear for a moment but for the most part heal quickly.

The Bible is a porcupine. It's words, quill-like, pierce and then stay there under the skin, reeking havoc. They demand response. Every movement I make jostles these God words and I can't get away from them. I don't want to (generally).

So the Word of God makes the wound. But it doesn't leave us wounded. It heals and restores and enlightens and delivers. So I read. So it works it's way deep. And I writhe at the nerves it touches. I grieve that it must still pierce so much. But I am unutterably thankful to God for giving us His Word.

In the words of God and Rose, "Me cup runs over."

James 1:25
"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."
Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of god is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Monday, May 17, 2010


Ever since I was young I knew that being a queen was not a coveted goal. I read about Marie Antoinette and said, "no thanks, I'd rather be a princess." You get a crown, pretty dresses, royal stuff, but not the responsibility of state decisions and intrigues. I liked that. I've kept by that decision pretty well. I'm not usually the one in charge calling the shots, I'm hovering moth-like in the background.
Motherhood kinda threw me into the queenship. Queen Anne became more than just a brand of chocolate covered cherries and morphed into my role in my home. Moth-like doesn't work in parenting. So, I call the shots and spank the bottoms and I sometimes writhe at this responsibility of state. Princess beckons.
So we went on vacation and I stepped off the throne. I stayed in a tree house with my children and husband for three days and really these tree houses were not conducive to queens anyway. I was jungle Jane. We explored a marble cave, rode a zip line, swung on a 50 foot swing, and hung out fireside roasting marshmallows the size of scepters.
Then we headed up to the drive-through wild animal safari. I was arm's reach away from a huge bear and tons of other wild wonderful animals. We discovered that Avonlea speaks Cheetah. They had an extensive conversation. (My mother tells me that this is possible because she's seen it on God TV).
Then we headed to the beach for four days. A beach covered in rocks and caves and tunnels and mystery. At this point no royalty would have claimed me because in my packing haste I forgot some essentials. Like shampoo. And clothes. And a hairbrush. And...TEA. I wore the same shirt for four days. So bush-headed and smelly we frolicked for hours each day on the beach. We rode horse back. We hit another wild animal park, this one a walk through. And we laughed and squealed as we fed deer from our hands and petted a snow leopard.
And I held these babies each night and narrated their story. What has been, and what in faith, is to come. I was the court story-teller, the dream weaver, the visionary. The God whisperer. The mother.
We came home to showers with shampoo and clean clothes and comfortable beds that fit our kinks. We have pictures of our adventures and a bit more life story written out. I scrambled back on the throne with a priceless jewel, "time together" in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Here sparrows build upon the trees,
And stockdove hides her nest;
The leaves are winnowed by the breeze
Into a calmer rest;
The black-cap's song was very sweet,
That used the rose to kiss;
It made the Paradise complete:
My early home was this.
The red-breast from the sweetbriar bush
Dropt down to pick the worm;
On the horse-chestnut sang the thrush,
O'er the house where I was born;
The moonlight, like a shower of pearls,
Fell o'er this "bower of bliss,"
And on the bench sat boys and girls:
My early home was this.
The old house stooped just like a cave,
Thatched o'er with mosses green;
Winter around the walls would rave,
But all was calm within;
The bees are here all green agen,
Here bees and flowers still kiss,
But flowers and trees seemed sweeter then:
My early home was this.
John Clare

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crippled and Blind

Fold the laundry and down to school. The day is moving in it's usual rhythmic motion.
Bible first. Malachi. Okay quick read through it so we can get to grammar. You know, the important stuff. The stuff that's going to get them through life. Verbs, prepositional phrases, whoa what did she just read?
"When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong?" (Mal 1:8)
My little Pharisees jump in to condemn.
"They sacrificed blind and crippled animals? Who would do that?"
"They knew that was wrong! That was naughty!"
My throat is tight because I know upstairs in my Bible this verse is underlined and I remember why. I try to articulate it in a vague way, no details. "Some times God asks us to sacrifice something to Him and we don't bring Him the best we have. Not animal sacrifices but oth, other things. Things that it hurts us to let go of. Things that hurt us to be."
"You'd never do that mommy!" This from the son who claimed I should have been Jesus' mother.
"I do it every day."
"Well, I prayed for a husband and children and a home and God gave me those things. And He wants me to serve and minister in the place where He put me. And I complain. I mutter. I look past my neighbors eyes and see the mess spilling around them. I see the rings on the toilet and the rice milk and the runny nose. I sacrifice a crippled blind lamb."
Self accusation silences.
Avonlea, "But we don't have to make sacrifices anymore because of Jesus."
Ahh, there in the depths my child reminds me of Jesus. I will never bring a spotless animal or perfect deeds on my own. I can't. Because of this sin disease everything I touch cripples. But there's Jesus, the perfect lamb, the once and for all, the living sacrifice. And I'm seen through Him. And He's still working in me.
On to grammar, which matters not a bit.


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