Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joy in the Morning

(Grant was doing a photography assignment today and caught Rose and I reading Teaching the Trivium)

I woke up this morning and put on joy as a garment.

Dave and I were up and down until 4:30AM last night. We were waiting for someone who was coming over, waiting for someone who needed us. I finally fell asleep from 4:30AM to 7:30 AM and awoke groggy and selfish.

But the thing was, as much as I wanted to lay there and grovel....I couldn't. These God-words kept whispering, "a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isa. 61:3) and "the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)

And I put it on, pulled it to me and slipped into it. The joy of the Lord fit perfectly.

All the mornings, of all the days, of all the weeks, of all the months, of this summer and fall, I've sought each morning to turn my eyes to Him first thing, to spend time in His presence immediately. And this morning, when I struggled to gain perspective, He was there, reaching down the hand that I needed, putting out my garment for the day. He found me soul-naked and He dressed me.

The things that greet me today, whether it be my mother screaming into my answering machine that there's a snake in her kitchen "a real one" (as if that pitch could have been obtained through a plastic one), or a note to Santa on my desk asking for a baby because the asker has given up on asking God for one, or another close-call in my tiara, or a drama of sharpie meets Persian rug acted out by Rose, whatever comes.....

I am dressed for the occasion.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Weight

It's startling, really. How little we know when we become parents. Who knew these beautiful, lusty-lunged babies would turn into people?

Who knew that little limbs would stretch and my gumby child become a young woman, a young man?

They grow and I grow, but I'm still not the perfect mom and sometimes I get angry at my children because they make that very apparent.
Today was a normal day for me. I had to be at the church at 7:15AM to sing on worship team. I got sick (stomach) at 6:40AM. I finally ran out the door at 7:05AM, drove like the dickens, and ran into church....leaving the parking lights on. Second service I realized what I'd done and that the battery was now dead. I peeked into Rose's class on the way to find Dave for help, and wondered briefly why her dress was too small and on backwards (Dave dressed her).
Dave said he'd jump the car for me and I stood up on stage third service and sang while the doors were open in the back and my husband was jumping the car right in front of the church. Kinda made worship difficult. I died several small deaths as I saw people stopping to talk to him and I imagined I could hear him saying, "Yeah my wife left the lights on again! At least she didn't put diesel in the gas tank this time."
Then I started thinking about Rose in her backward dress. One time when Dave dressed her for church I picked her up from class and she was wearing hot pink sequined high heels from the dress-up box. When questioned Dave replied, "How was I supposed to know those weren't her shoes?" So all nursery and toddler helpers in the church know that I'm a less than ideal mom.

By the time I got home to mom's house after church I felt like an utter failure. I laid down on her couch and closed my eyes.

One by one my children came. They didn't say much, just laid right on top of me.

There's a story in the Bible, about Elisha I believe, who laid on a dead boy and breathed life back into him. That was how I felt laying there. Like God was breathing His life back into me.

They were heavy and they reminded me that my responsibility is weighty but completely do-able with the help of God.

Under their weight, I fell asleep. A deep, healing sleep, that revived and restored my ability to laugh at myself and my drama.

When I awoke, they had flown, their laughter floated to me through the garden.
I'll never be a perfect mom, but it appears I am loved regardless, and I am so thankful.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


The world revolves, the autumn progresses, and our schedule bulges around the waist familiarly.

This morning the Sunday School classes at church all moved their students to the next grade. Posy moved to 3/4's, Rowan to Preschool, etc. I took Rowan to his new classroom and he was instantly surrounded by teachers, "What's your name?" "Does he have any allergies?" "I think I had him in VBC class." Unfamiliar voices, unfamiliar faces. Rowan silent. Persistent voice with pen in hand, waiting, "What's your first name?" Silence. Rowan turns his head slowly towards me, his face is blank, utterly expressionless, "What's my first name again mommy?"

I say it and break the spell, "Rowan, your name's Rowan."

A smile engulfs his words, "Oh that's right!"

The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Dave's blanked up on me a couple of times. One time was when we passed the Canadian border to attend Mike and Chrissy's wedding. Dave didn't expect to be closely questioned by border patrol, so he was caught off guard, and he went blank. The check-guard asked him who was with him, it was just Avonlea and I in the back seat, and I waited for him to say so. Silence. Finally he turned his head and looked at us with the same face I saw on Rowan, I whispered, "Your wife and your daughter." He smiled and relayed the info. We were told to pull over for further inspection!

As much as Rowan is just like Dave he is also just like me. I never blank about my name or any other answer that I can glibly give, but I blank about who I am in Christ. I'm caught off-guard by a question, a situation, and I'm silent....or not. I give a reaction where a Christ-child should have given compassion, or prayer, or truth. I forget my name and later when the moment has passed, I remember, and I writhe.

Life will inevitably hold those moments, I just pray I learn to look up sooner and soul-whisper, "What's my name again?"

Because when I do, He always breaks the spell with His answer, "You're Annie, and you're a child of Mine."

May my blankness, my lack, be only an opportunity for Him to fill and write His name on me, and through me, on others.

PS Wearing my tiara also helps me remember who I am. It is very difficult to yell at your children with a tiara on. Unfortunately I forgot I had it on last week and I wore it to the library. I kept marveling at how friendly our community was, because everyone was smiling at me! Sigh.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Soul Eyes Blink

I woke my family up at 4am on Friday. On purpose. We had a plane to catch at 6:40am. Anyone who knows me knows by now that I pack last minute and usually forget several necessities, which we manage to live without, proving that they weren't actually necessities. It's part of the fun. Rose wearing Rowan's underwear the whole trip didn't spoil her enjoyment of our time a bit. Avonlea was intensely happy that I forgot the hairbrush (yes, again).

We flew to San Diego because Dave was helping with the Luis Palau Festival there. We drove directly there from the airport so that he could help with set up. I hung out with the kids at the playground, steps from the beach. Even with the four a.m. wake-up, the kids were jubilant and played hard. I tried to look around me and take in the beauty, but it was difficult. I'm used to grey skies and muted colors. Here, was turquoise water, a brilliant blue sky, golden sand, bright, hot sun, emerald grass, and bushes afire with profusions of flowers. The colors blew me away.

The festival the next day drew about 50,000 people. People from all walks of life, all ages. Colorful people. We watched the bmx shows, skateboarding, freestyle motocross, puppet shows, etc. There were games and concerts and everywhere, Jesus preached. Christ proclaimed. The little girls next to us at the puppet show raised their hands to accept Christ. The stage filled with people committing or re-committing their lives after a biker gave his testimony. Churches of all denominations had volunteered to help respond to people and the volunteers were as colorful as the crowd.
The people had the same effect on me as the scenery did the day before. I could barely take it blinkingly in. The beauty of this world, the beauty of God's people. Eye-poppingly different, but never drab.

We were able to spend a day with Capernwray friends. Dave and Mike had been roommates, and they prayed together for their future wives. Chrissy and I had been involved in scandalous doings and pranks together, we prayed we wouldn't get caught.
Our kindred children.

Rosy is now asking me to get her hair like Emma's. Maybe for Christmas?

When the three busy days of festival and friends were over, I turned my gaze back to my own troop and it's captain. Again the sheer vibrancy of their colors took my breath away. These wonderful, witty blessings from God are eye-blinkingly bright.
The second night in our condo on the beach Dave and Avonlea were playing tag. He chased her far down the shore, and as he closed in, she turned and dove into an open sliding glass door, thinking it was ours. It wasn't. Dave was in hysterics on the beach but the laughter subsided in concern when she didn't come back out. Avonlea had run into someone else's living room and found a bald guy watching TV. She proceeded to hang out, wondering what this bald guy was doing in our room. Finally the guy stuck his head out the door and saw Dave, "Is she yours?" he asked. Dave ushered away a little girl colored very red.
We laughed together and saw the brightness of this life. The turquoise of laughter, the brilliant blue of friendship, the golden blessing of family, the bright, hot light of Christ, the emerald jewel of creation, and bushes afire with the goodness of God.
The colors blow me away.

Monday, September 6, 2010


"Nostalgia~that's the autumn,
Dreaming through September
Just a million lovely things
I always will remember."

Jacquiline Bouvier (Kennedy) 1943

So this morning Grant asks me to go on a bike ride with him.
My mind reels off silent excuses. I haven't ridden a bike in a decade. I have 6 loads of laundry to do, plus sheets. School starts tomorrow, last minute planning looms. I don't have a bike that's ride-able. I am wearing a dress.
So, of course, I say yes.
I hopped on Avonlea's bike scorned the offered helmet (I had my hair up) and we took off. The wind blew across our faces as we pumped our legs side by side and I felt this unbelievable sense of camaraderie with my son. As we criss-crossed in the parking lot I threw both hands up high! I got the attention I was hoping for, "Mom I can't believe you can do that!"
It takes the autumn's nostalgia to remind me that life is more than laundry. To remind me that one autumn, long ago, on the day before school started, I pedaled down Alaskan roads. The wind in my face was colder but the euphoria was the same. And where I was lacking a comrade then, I now have a really cute boy by my side.
I am so thankful to be able to embrace another autumn.
God is so kind.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What a week can do

The kids rode their bikes to the park today. I walked, my pace pedestrian matching Rose's training wheel speed. Last week the park was this jumbled mess of people, kids screaming and running, parents chatting, bikes whizzing by, and swimmers spilling out the pool doors chlorinated and damp.
Today, it was just us. We went to the pool and looked at the empty rectangles that were drained of fun and kids and splashing. The five of us, we stood and gaped.
Grant, as usual, commented, "I would have never dove into the deep end if I had known it was that deep!"
Ahhh the grace of oblivion. How many things I would have never attempted had I known how deep the water which I was diving into was.
We walked/rode the park paths and I couldn't help but think that soon the crunch of leaves would be under our feet. The air would smell of apples and the wind fresh scent of summer's rooms blown clean; aired.
I put my hand on Rose's bike seat as we went down the hills. She looked over her shoulder to make sure I'd got her.
"You got me mama?"
"I won't let go until you tell me to Rosy."
Ahhh the grace of being needed. I'll hold on for as long as you'll let me baby. I'll revel in the purpose of my life right now: to steady, to guide, to help.
We head back home, four little hands wave thank-yous to drivers who let us cross.
Ahhh the grace of gratitude. These little ones are learning to appreciate thoughtfulness.
The three older ones get ahead and call back, "Can we go on without you?"
I nod my acquiesce and tarry on snail pace with Rose, and I think, yes go on, just as you've learned, in grace and in gratitude. Pedal hard and fast and fearless. The seasons will change but He will remain changeless. You never need to look over your shoulders, He's there, and He will never let go of you.


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