Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday

video
Okay so he's not the most musical child. But he's cute and he just lost his other front tooth today, 6 days before Christmas. Gotta love it.

Avonlea lost TWO teeth today. My day was spent mixing salt water and cleaning blood splattered sinks. Really....three teeth in one day...the tooth fairy needs a raise.

Speaking of fairies, we (Dave, I, and our gum gnashing clan) went to the Nutcracker tonight.
Rose was in ballerina heaven. Grant endured until intermission when he asked loudly, "Is it half time?" We are obviously lacking culture....
During the aforesaid intermission Rowan pointed out a blond girl sitting in front of us to the right. She was maybe 13.
"I think she's beautiful. I like her shiny gold head."
I give a scared smile, nod weakly.
"I bet she's nice, too. Although," he pauses long enough to give me a shwed glance, "just because they're beautiful, doesn't mean they're nice."
I find my tongue, "NO, it does not."
"Do you think I could hang from the balcony by two fingers?"
He changes the subject and I breath freely once more.

Really with laundry, Rose throwing up on the kitchen floor, three teeth extracted, people calling to get the kittens, the Nutcracker and beautiful girls, the tooth fairy is exausted and a little stunned.

Good night.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas?

I wrote this post last year and took it off after a couple of days because I got some flack from readers. However, this anti-Christmas attitude is growing and people are trying to dodge consumerism and "pagan celebrations" by not celebrating at all. Not celebrating Christmas and consumerism are two sides of the same coin. If Satan can't get us to celebrate the wrong thing, isn't it just as good to make us not celebrate at all? So I'm reposting my thoughts on this issue....


I run with an interesting crowd. My friends bake their own bread, nay even grind the wheat to bake their own bread. Most of them home school and use eco-friendly cleaning products. Some wear jumpers. Grain soaking is popular and so is classical education. Children toting instruments is not uncommon.
I can comment on this because I am a part of this group (minus jumpers). Rather than criticizing, I usually say, "teach me!" (I failed at Keefir 101. Do you bury cultures that you murdered?) There has been talk on the fringes, however, that puzzles me more than grain-sprouting does. I'm hearing anti-Christmas talk. Now, I absolutely know that commercialism is a big no-no. I realize that Christ's coming is the goal for first place in most Christian homes, the coveted center stage. However, I've been involved in some interesting conversations about the reasons not to celebrate Christmas. Instead of enthusiastically jumping on board I hesitate.
I've found myself in situations where I assume that everyone is excited for Christmas. And they aren't. Christmas has turned into a consumer nightmare.
Jesus wasn't really born on December 25th and many of our rituals connected with Christmas are pagan.
These are some reasons that I've heard for snubbing Christmas.
I don't have a controversial bone in my body. I hate to debate. I hate to argue. I can almost always see another's viewpoint and put myself in their shoes. Empathy makes me very hesitant to ever take sides.
Watch my split personality.
By all means celebrate Christmas! Celebrate the forerunner event of our salvation. Celebrate a chance to lavish and bless others even if you must be creative to do so. Jump at the opportunities for good-will and charity that present themselves at this time, and do it in His name, for His sake. Light a candle with your family at night and read an advent reading. Make His coming real! Make His coming joyous! Put up a tree, look at it often, and remember what it stands for, that the limbs will be hewed off at Easter and the trunk formed into a cross. Let your babies play with the Nativity pieces until they are familiar in their hands, cupped promises tangible. Give your children good gifts and remember that God is the ultimate gift giver. Hang up lights and remember that He came to be the light of the world. Revel in the reminders everywhere of the reality of Jesus. When the cashier says "Happy Holidays" smile and reply "Merry Christmas!" Because.....

If the Christians don't celebrate for the right reason.......who will?

Celebrate! Rejoice! Sing!

Forgive me if you don't agree. Tell me about it and I'll be empathetic.

I have to go soak my oats and teach my children Latin.

PS I should emphatically state that almost all of my friends celebrate true Christmas. This is my reaction to whispers I have heard and conversations I have had that left me dissatisfied.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Way Through

It was an odd thing to be on the beach in December. It felt like the time I traipsed through a Christmas tree farm in August. The timing and location somehow grated.

But I was indeed on the beach last weekend, skirting waves with my family. I have no pictures to prove it because I forgot the camera. Last time I forgot underwear. I'd rather deal with the lack of camera, hands down. Anyway. Saturday morning, Dave and I talked long. Our kids played games and we discussed the challenges our family are currently facing. We talked in circles. Or rather, we would have talked in circles if we didn't keep slamming into an obstacle that resembled a stone mountains in it's strength. Impassible. We gazed up at this awe-inspiring edifice of frustration and could determine no ledges, no toe holds....how were we to get over this thing?

We shrugged our shoulders and started our day. It was lovely and odd, as only the beach in December could be. We traipsed along a crescent shaped beach toward another crescent shaped beach separated from each other by a mountain of stone. The stone edifice jetted into the incoming tide. Dave would have risked a toss into the rock in an attempt to get around. I would not. We got closer to the rock and spotted a cave. A hole in the rock. We started into it, all together. Avonlea was in front and soon I could see her sweet head silhouetted by a light at the other end. We were in a tunnel.

We ended up on the other beach.
I found coral and other treasures there.
There was a way through, I just didn't see it at first.
There was a way through a mountain of stone.
A tunnel of hope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rose

My blog's purpose is two fold.
The first purpose is to bring glory to God.
The second is to record the history of my family.

This story falls under the umbrella of both. I'm writing it because I want to remember. I'm writing it because I'm sad tonight and I want to laugh. I'm writing it because I want to always see her at 4, blond and lisping, utterly kissable and dear.

As Rose and I read through her children's Bible, I glean insight into her personality. She was beside herself when I read about Jacob and Esau, teary-eyed and mournful of the family rupture. Chapters later when Jacob was returning home, laden with wealth and wives and children, Rose was apprehensive.
"Esau won't forgive him Mommy."
Jacob kept sending gifts and Rose fidgeted, got up and sat back down, nervous. Finally they came face to face and Esau embraced his brother and she was incredulous.
And then, "Mommy, God could never forgive me like Esau forgave Jacob."
"Oh but He can baby."
And my Rose accepted Christ.

A month later saw us meandering through the desert with the Israelites. She was scornful.
"Oh not again! Are they still in the desert?"
But a hero emerged.  Joshua. He had a two page colored picture where he was holding out one hand to stop an orange sun and holding out another hand to stop a yellow moon. He had sandals laced up to God-only-knows-where. He was bronzed and armored.
Her hands clasped together and she lisped, "Oh Jothua! I love him!"
We were extremely excited for Bible everyday to see what Jothua would do next.

Then last week in the car she dropped the bomb.
"Mommy will you get me a Jothua?"
"Wh, wh, what do you mean?"
"To marry. I want to marry a Jothua."
We agreed to pray a Joshua in for her when Avonlea piped up,
"Who are you going to pray for, for me?"
"I'll pray for a David for you Avonlea. Someone who's passionate and has a heart after God."
Rowan was silent, he had his eyes on several little girls in Sunday School and Friday School and really didn't need my assistance.
Grant, however, spoke thoughtfully, "I don't really care who you pray for me to marry, just not that lady that looked back and turned to salt. Anyone but her."
He's never been fond of salt.

We are moving on now to the Judges of Israel. Rose thinks Samson is ridiculous and covers the pictures when I read about him. She has personality oozing out of her little lithe body and I am getting to know her by walking with her through the Bible. I am watching the Word of God change a 4 year old and it is amazing....and really funny!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kittens and Harps

I was incredibly nervous yesterday. Nail-gnawing, leg itching nervous. Avonlea was to play her harp at the antique store downtown last night. I was nervous for her.
Fact: I am not nervous when I get up to sing, or speak, or dance, or recite. I've always loved being on stage and could only look in wonder at people who got stage fright.
But for some crazy, sick reason, I was nervous for her.
I didn't need to be, she played beautifully and she looked sweet.

She played for an hour and had a good crowd inside and out.
When she was done performing, she came to me and said, "I love it!"
She wondered wide-eyed at my nervousness.
And I couldn't help but think, "Wait, my girl, till you have a daughter! May she bring you as many moments of nail gnawing delight!"

We came home and  celebrated with ice cream and the movie "White Christmas." We all snuggled on the futon and each child had a kitten in their lap. Dave and I met eyes over the tops of four little heads and I said to him, "I never want this moment to end. The kittens and kids and harps and us."
I'm pretty sure the kittens didn't share my sentiments.
To be honest, I didn't share them either in about 20 minutes. Bedtime.
Isn't it amazing how many emotions we can journey in a day?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Masterpiece

I see it at a glance and groan.
This had been Avonlea's art project. Under those vibrant pinks and purples, was a well thought out, perfectly centered and arranged, cluster of people in vintage clothing. Avonlea's specialty.

I called my girls to me to reconcile this offense. One big girl, one little girl. One dark, one light. One poetic, one prosaic. Sisters by birth, opposites by nature.

Avonlea's jaw dropped at the sight of the desecration. Rose hid her face. I was angry because something beautiful was ruined. I was angry because I hated to see hard work wasted. I was angry because....this situation felt all too familiar.

I lay my plans, work them out diligently. I make a sketch of tomorrow, perfectly centered and arranged. It's my specialty.
God has a specialty also, and it often resembles the vibrant crayon which annihilates my etchings.
Sometimes, in my humanness, this makes me angry.

As I talked to the girls I saw something emerge. Avonlea acknowledged, even in her disappointment, that her sister is more important than a drawing. Rose apologized sincerely, Avonlea forgave. More was gained than lost from the interaction. 

The plans of mine that lay lifeless....are more gain than loss. I don't see that now it it's fullness, but I'll tell you what I do see.
I see the signature of God on my picture.
Doesn't that alone make it a masterpiece?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Resurrection

Mom was here the other day fussing over Dave.
She asked, "Have you been taking your ALIVE vitamins?"
Dave replied, "No, I'm taking something better now."
Not being able to resist, I teased, "Yeah, he's taking RESURRECTION vitamins now."
Mom rolled her eyes and went home.

One of the best books that I've read this year is Lilith by George McDonald.
Everything in it has metaphorical meaning (oh delight). Truth, wrapped in many layers of imagery and beauty. One of my favorite themes throughout the book is the idea of sleeping vs. death. The protagonist, Mr. Vane, is brought into a mortuary-like room where corpse-like people are supposedly not dead, but asleep. He is shown his slab and told to lie down and sleep his sleep so that he could get up and do his work. He hesitates.

"But these are all dead, and I am alive!" I objected, shuddering.

"Not much," rejoined the sexton with a smile, "--not nearly enough!
Blessed be the true life that the pauses between its throbs are not
death!"

"The place is too cold to let one sleep!" I said.

"Do these find it so?" he returned. "They sleep well--or will soon. Of
cold they feel not a breath: it heals their wounds.--Do not be a coward,
Mr. Vane. Turn your back on fear, and your face to whatever may come.
Give yourself up to the night, and you will rest indeed. Harm will not
come to you, but a good you cannot foreknow."

Page and her husband came for a brief visit this weekend. She's been my dearest friend for over twenty years. We sat in front of the fire on Sunday and talked, laughter sitting in the seat beside us. At one point she mentioned her wedding and the picture of us at it. Then she mentioned how weird it was that I was even at her wedding because we hadn't really talked for almost two years before it.

After being inseparable in high school we went our own ways for college. We lost touch and somewhat lost sympathy with each other. I got married and she wasn't at my wedding. After I had been married about a year I decided to try and get in touch with her. I did and her news was that she was getting married. I told her I was coming.

Our friendship laid down, went to sleep, and I didn't know if it was even going to wake up. But it did, and a good came of it that I could not foreknow.

I think God asks this of our friendships sometimes. I think He asks it of our talents. I think He asks it of our dreams, hopes, ambitions.
Can you lay this down and trust that I will resurrect it in My time?

There are times when I say "this place is too cold to let one sleep" and I run from the shadows of the mortuary. But I seem to always come back eventually and I have seen much resurrected. Sleep is not death, but sleep mirrors death in it's complete submission to the unknown. Sleep is the consent to sail uncharted waters. Sleep is faith.

On Sunday afternoon, as Page and I lounged in front of the fire, Avonlea played the harp. Talking soon ceased and breathing deepened and we traded out conversation for slumber. Somehow, those moments of repose meant more than thousands of words could have. Because we've learned that sleep is not death and that resurrection is joy and that He is in control of all the laying downs and rising ups and that the cold will heal wounds.

Resurrection comes to all who lay down.
There is something better than just being alive.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Shining Barrier


Sheldon Vanauken, in his book A Severe Mercy, called it "creeping separateness." It, being the inevitable pull of life and responsibilities that gradually dissolve intimacy. Sheldon and his wife Davy noted that however much in love a couple starts out, there is a marked drift after five years....ten years. Couples drift and families rupture and creeping separateness is a force as subtle as Satan and as strong as gravity.
But it doesn't have to be like that.
Sheldon and Davy built what they called the "shining barrier" around their love. Like a sapling, their love was protected by a metaphorical fence. Anything that wanted to approach the sapling had to pass the question, "What is best for our love?"
While engaged, Dave and I noted the wisdom in this and built our own shining barrier around our vulnerable new love. Our question did not appeal so much as to what was best for our love, but what was God's will for our love.
So we got married, our shining barrier grew strong and secure, our sapling gained strength. But, as the years rolled into decades, creeping separateness took it's toll. Long work days, four kids, allergies, numerous other trials, and our barrier showed signs of wear. Crafty serpents slid through barely perceptible cracks and infiltrated the sacred area called family. Almost before I understood what was happening, my life had turned into a whirlwind.
I'm busy. Dave's really busy. Even the kids are busy.
Barrier control slid down the priority list.



Last weekend was our first time to stay all weekend at the Parkdale house. As Dave and I spent time together, and with the children, I thought about something. The main flaw in the idea of the shining barrier is the assumption that all evils have to penetrate the wall in order to enter. No matter how diligently we guard our sapling, predators can still mutilate. Mold, fungus, disease, can cut short the life of a tree. Selfishness, greed, pride can attack from inside the fence.
I watched this weekend as our family put our arms out toward each other. We offered a hand to grasp, to steady wavering steps. Struggles were so much more perceptible with out the noisy, busy background to distract. Against the beauty of God's earth, the gaps in the wall and the fungus within grew very clear and obvious.

We know for our family tree to benefit others it must grow strong and healthy. In order to shade and shelter, it must branch out in confidence. It must bloom out in beauty to encourage and inspire. It must grow tall, to make people look up.
So we call a retreat.
To slay creeping separateness.
To mend the shining barrier.
To protect our family tree.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Super Dave

"Super Dave!" Jon, Dave's brother, shouted it down the hall at Benson high school.
Dave was a freshmen peon entering high school and Jon was a Senior with status.
There are many names a boy can give his brother. Pest. Loser. But Jon chose to call Dave super, and his friends followed suit.

I thought about this in the last 24 hours. I thought about it on Tuesday night when I told Dave I needed a new dryer. The heating element had been dying a slow death, but it was officially, legally, dead.
Dave looked up at me, a stack of book work on his lap, and said, "Let me see if I can fix it for you."
He set his work aside, looked up the problem on the Internet, and fixed the dryer.

The next night, he came home early to tackle that book work, and after making some headway, went out with the kids and raked leaves and helped Grant mow the lawn.





After we got the kids to bed he wanted to help me can applesauce. 14 quarts of applesauce. 45 pounds of apples. So I watched as he peeled and peeled and peeled, and on the second pot, it happened. Guinevere went into labor (our cat).


We stayed up all night and delivered kittens. At one point we dozed off and Dave jumped up and yelled, "We've got kittens!"
 She had two in a row and left them to die in their birthing sacs. Before I could even sit up Dave had the sacs ripped off. "You take that one, I'll take this one."
I rubbed the little lifeless thing a few times and it started breathing, gasping in air. Dave's was still limp.
"It's dead Dave, it's dead!" He spoke to it, urging it to life, rubbing it again and again with the towel. Long minutes later it sucked in air and spewed out fluid from it's nose and mouth. It lived.

I watched this man who does everything with such vigor. I thought about the tree house he built in the yard that has two stories and 3 skylights and four windows. I thought about sending him to the store for ice cream and him coming home with 19 half gallons. I thought about him dancing with me in the kitchen and laughing with me in the leaves. I thought about him reaching out to others in prayer and his generous spirit that is never done giving.

Once again, I'm reminded that our words echo. Jon named his brother, and the name still shouts down the halls of his life.
So this husband of mine in a 24 hour period, put my needs first, taught his kids to care for our home, helped me store up food, and doggedly willed life into a kitten.
Yes, he was named well.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Base

My children were playing tag inside last week while I made tea.
I poured myself a cup and sat down to watch their antics.
I know better than this.
But for some odd reason I forgot that I am base.
So the minute I sat down I saw Rowan and Rose flying toward me with Grant in close pursuit.
Their mouths were open and yelling, "Mommy's base! Mommy's safety!"
I lifted my teacup up high right before they pounced onto my lap. Tea trickled lightly like an anointing over us.
I laughed and screamed at the same time.
They kissed me and were off up the back staircase.
Now, the reason I did not yell at them, is not because I am naturally angelic. I am not.
I didn't yell at them, because I want to be base.
This wasn't the first time I been flown at, climbed up, engulfed. It's happened many times. While I'm on the phone, in the bathtub, in bed, talking to a friend, etc.
For as long as I can remember, when they play tag, if I'm in the vicinity, I'm base.
The amount of things I've spilled on myself being base, is legion. The times I've held a conversation while being shimmied up by little bodies, is many.
But I'm okay with that. Because I believe that what we teach our children, even in play, is transferable.
So they learn that I'm safety. That nothing can get them when they are in my arms. There is a haven to fly to when they are pursued.
They grow up. They learn that God is base. They don't fit on Mommy's lap anymore, but they will never out grow God's. Nothing can get them when they are in His arms, nothing that He doesn't allow. They understand that there is always a haven to fly to when they are pursued.
Even better, they will never catch Him in the bath or with a cup of hot tea.
I got up as they raced off and disposed of my tea cup,
because I knew they would be back,
and they will always need a base.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Echoes

On Saturday mornings Avonlea and I clean.
We are usually able to whip out the bathrooms and the floors in under an hour.
All this productivity hinges, however, on Dave watching the other children.
Last Saturday Dave worked.
This left me with a to-do list a mile long, Avonlea who was recovering from a cold, and three other children all in good spirits (a.k.a. hyper). I sent the boys up to clean their room, occupied Rose, and got busy with Avonlea.
Things went slowly, to understate the situation, and an hour and a half later I was frantically steam-mopping the basement floor. I knew that my time was running out. The boys would be done soon and I needed to make lunch. I pushed the mop with such vigor that I resembled Puff the Magic Dragon in his cave doing a jig.
Then it happened.
Rose came down to the main floor and told Avonlea that the boys were fighting.
Avonlea stood on the basement stairs and yelled to me, over the steam, that the boys were fighting.
And I, sweet loving mother that I am, yelled back, "I don't care!"
Then I heard it, my words echoing through the house, as Avonlea yelled them to Rose, "She doesn't care!"
And Rose yelled them upstairs to the boys, "Mommy doesn't care!"
And the boys yelled them in triumph, "Mommy doesn't care!" and proceeded to slug each other.
As you can imagine, the echo sobered me, and inadvertently, I remembered something.

In my college graduating class, there was an older woman. She had raised two children and was a grandma. She told me that when her children were little she didn't want to be bothered by them. She would hide out in the barn for hours reading so that she wouldn't have to deal with them. Eventually, her marriage fell apart and her children left home to pursue their own lives that naturally didn't include her. Five or six years later, her daughter came to see her and left her two children with their grandma. This grandma looked at me with despair and told me that her daughter had said, "I don't want to be bothered by them anymore, you take them."
And I walked away from that conversation with this, "Our words echo."

On Saturday, I remembered, that my words echo.
We are "but a vapor" but we leave a residue on the people that are exposed to us.
My home can resound with life or with apathy.

I want to be bothered.
I want to care.
Sometimes it just takes an echo to remind me,
that I've got work to do,
and my time's running out.











Pictures from the farm and the apple festival.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Dressed

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Col. 3:12

I hear him come into my room this morning. He's always the first one in. He wakes up at 5:30 am and goes down to school. He finishes up in a couple of hours and stops by my bed on the way to chores.
This morning I ask him to hop in with me. We need to have a heart to heart.
We lay facing each other, our up-turned twin noses almost touching.
I love him with all my heart, this first born son of mine. Yet I need to hurt him. So in love, I open my mouth, and I correct.

The night before as I laid in front of the fire I heard a conversation.
Dave was teaching the boys how to put together kits for a lighting project he's working on.
Grant wanted to put them together his own way. It was a painfully slower way.
"Grant, would you please just do it how I asked you to."
"I like the way I'm doing it, it's just as good."
"No, it's not. It takes longer that way. I need these done tonight. Would you please listen to me."
"Look Dad, I'm just putting the wires here instead. What difference does it make if I want to do it like this?"
"I know what I'm doing Grant. Do you think you know better than I do?"
"Sometimes."

I writhed as I laid there and listened. Pride is never pretty.

And now, I lay nose to nose with this son and I tell him that he not only inherited the nose, but the pride of his mama. The fruit doesn't fall far, but it has fallen long through countless generations of sinners.
I show him pride for what it is; setting ourselves in defiance to God. The grasping elevation of Satan. Disobedience. A pitiful rag trying to cover the gaping insecurity.
And it hurts to have it pulled off. Sin is painful, especially when exposed. I see this son ashamed, sorry, embarrassed. It's embarrassing to be stripped naked in front of others, yet it's my job to strip. I take off the soiled garments and show them for what they are. I hold them up to the light. "Do you really want to wear that?" I wash him in prayer and dress him in righteousness.
We talk about clothing ourselves with kindness, gentleness, humility. What does kindness do? What does humility say? What does it look like to wear compassion?
He understands and smiles. He tells me loves me and kisses me and leaves.
And this is my job description, I strip and I clothe. I know that filth left on rots the flesh and so I try to stop and attend no matter how disagreeable it is to do so. The hard part is to remember to not just let them run off naked to try and cover themselves with garments of their own devising. But to take the time to wipe them clean, and dress them lovingly in God's best. To replace what I took away, only with much much better materials.
I know how to do this because this is what God does for me.
Daily.
Grant inherited my nose and many of my faults, but so much more importantly, he inherited his Father's wardrobe. I'm teaching him how to get dressed.

"I delight greatly in the LORD:
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with
garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of
righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like
a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with
her jewels."
Isaiah 61:10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Following

I suppose it all started this summer when we said "yes" to God.
I suppose that's the way all true adventures start.
We said yes to a summer of "church in the woods" where we spent Sunday morning out in nature. We'd hike for a mile or so, plant ourselves by a stream or waterfall and read God's Word and pray together. It was different, but it was good.
We used the theme of "learn to follow God's trail" and expanded on that every week. We had planned to explore lots of different areas but we got hooked on the Columbia Gorge. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We took many amazing hikes there and saw many incredible waterfalls and had lots of time to talk about walking with the Lord.
On our last Sunday, as we walked away from Bridal Veil Falls, one of the boys asked me a question.
"Mom can we take this trail down to the water to play?"
I shrugged and said, "Sure, lets go."
Another little voice replied, "But Mom, you told us to always stay on the path."
Hmmm...I looked at the wide, well traveled path stretched out before us."Well, I told you to always stay on God's path. Sometimes, God's path may look a little different then we think it should. Just because the path isn't what you expected, don't assume it's not God's path."
We traipsed down the side trail and I had no idea that we were about to live the words I had just spoken.

On Dave's birthday in August we decided to go up to Mt. Hood. We thought, while we were up there we'd take a look at some property. Dave and I are house people. We love looking at houses, exploring houses, redecorating houses. We had looked for a year or so at houses on Mt. Hood but hadn't seen anything we liked. So we thought maybe we should look at property that we could someday build on. We contacted a realtor and gave him our requirements: at least 5 acres, stream, mountain view. I think he might have laughed.
Dave asked me what kind of a house I would like to build if we decided to go that route.
I thought for a bit and then said, "I'd like to build an English cottage. With rock around the bottom of it. Something in the way of a Thomas Kincade painting." I think he might have laughed.
So we went and it was a weekend full of magic. The realtor showed us the land and we weren't even vaguely interested. But he had something else to show us. A farm. A pear orchard to be exact. We pulled in the driveway and saw this.


Then we saw this.




Then this.



We also walked down to a creek. A lovely curvy murmuring thing of beauty.

I walked around the property in a daze. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of peace and silence like almost nothing I'd ever known. A feeling of being right where I was supposed to be.

We came home from that weekend and held a pow wow. We put numbers down on paper and Dave looked at me sadly and shook his head.
"There's absolutely no way we can afford it. I'm sorry."
"If we're supposed to have it, it'll happen. If not, then that's that."

Dave called the next day full of excitement. "We can refinance. We can get a lower interest rate and use the money we'll save to pay for the house as a second home. God just put this in my mind. We can do it!"

We didn't, but He did.

It was a long six weeks of working on it. But we moved in on Saturday. And the peace was stifling.
We met our neighbors. Christians.
We met the tenants who will be farming the pears for us. Christians.
We explored and marveled and praised.

Last week we were reading in Acts for school. We read the story of how God had to show Peter the vision of the clean/unclean animals three times before he understood that salvation was to be offered to the gentiles as well as the Jews. Cornelius the gentile, had a vision and right away obeyed.
Avonlea looked at me and said, "I love that. It seems in the Bible that the people who think they know God best are most surprised by what He does. It's the people that don't know Him that just do what He says."
I scribbled it down like this in my open prayer journal, "It's those of us who think we know what God is doing who are the most surprised by what He does."

We are still on His path it just looks completely different than we thought it was going to look.
We are following and we are right where we are supposed to be.
We are laughing at grace.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Open Drawer

I do book work with Dave tonight. Compute numbers and scratch my pencil down a page of percentages that I only vaguely comprehend. This kind of work benumbs me. My fingers switch to automatic and my mind roams free. Out of the corner of my eye I see a drawer open. There are pictures spilling out of it. Ancient pictures that were not taken with digital cameras. Pictures we actually got developed.
My pencil suspends. Should I?
Urge indulged.
I cease my work and pick up a stack.
Oh my babies! The first picture is of Grant and I. My belly big as I stand sideways, and a little Grant puts his hand on the bulge of brother.
The next is a little Rowan in a snow cap grinning so big you can make out tonsils. I'm holding him on the porch. My pink lipstick is very pink and my eyes seem full of the wonder of three.
Ouch. My dad holding Grant. He's gone now and to my kids he's only the memory of hearty laughter.
Ouch. Great Grandma and Grandpa with a pretty little Avonlea between them. Grandpa's gone now also and Grandma comes to birthday celebrations with Ma and Pa.
Four little ballerinas in my living room. My first ballet class nine years ago. Two of those four are now in Jr. High. The other two, the two wearing diapers in the picture, will be in Jr. High next year. I take this one to Dave and show him these girls that we've watched grow up. He looks at me in wonder, was it really that long ago? Yes, it was.
Dave on the floor wrestling with a four year old boy.
Visits with Page.
Visits with my Capernwray girls.
Decades and death and devotion all tucked away in a random drawer. All laid out of sight while we pursue our busy lives and lively schedules, living in the vortex of now.
One of the last pictures is of Avonlea and Grant and I on the beach. They look like they were about to sprint forward and I grabbed them around the waist and pulled them back for a quick picture. They smiled, movement suspended, and I caught the moment before they bolted. I caught it.
I go back to my calculations sobered. I thank God for every moment that I have with these sprinting children, this wrestling husband, these cherished friends, this loving circle of family. I take no gathering lightly, for time is precious. So precious.
Time races off if we don't grab it firmly round the middle and hold on.
God give me the grace to catch this day, this hour, this minute.
To catch it and to let it go. To watch it sprint away, with gratitude, for the memory.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Relentless Rowan

Rowan's God-father came up to me in church one Sunday, three long years ago. He asked me, "How can we pray for Rowan?" I looked at him with weary, dreary eyes and replied, "We call him Relentless Rowan." He, being a father, understood this answer.


 I admit, my prayers back then, were merely begging God to allow Rowan to STOP being Relentless. He was up 4-5 times a night until he was 3 1/2.  His daytime hours were filled with naughtiness that no threats or pleading would subdue. At this point, I thought I was going to crack wide open. I was morbidly tired. I did the only thing I could under those circumstances, I prayed, hard.
Fast forward several years. Rowan turned 6 this week. I'm happy to say that he's still Relentless. He's Relentlessly sweet. He's Relentlessly helpful. He's Relentlessly loving. How did this change take place?
When Rowan was almost 4, he came down from a nap and told me that he wanted to go to Heaven when he died. I went over salvation with him, made sure he understood everything; he did. He wanted to pray. So Rowan and I, we prayed right there in the kitchen. When we finished, he looked up bright eyed, and yelled, "I can die now!" Blessed Assurance.
But there was more assurance to come. He began slowly, to change. He began to think of others before he thought of himself. He learned to say, "I'm sorry." And he learned to forgive. Dave and I watched this metamorphis with joy, with thanksgiving. And while Jesus changed his heart, He didn't change his personality. He's still Relentless Rowan.
But he came face to face with a God who beats even Rowan for being Relentless.
And now....he's learning from the best!


*So many thanks to the family, friends, and God-parents who prayed for our little man. God alone knows the impact you've had on his life. Bless you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Is How We Know


The song has been singing through my brain since May.
"This is how we know, this is how we know what love is, just one look at the cross."

Day in and day out, like a 24 hour breath, I try to live this song, live this kind of love. The kind of love that sacrifices simply because it loves.

Today I sat down to Romans 5 and read, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us." This is how we know, this is how we know what love is...
Everywhere I turn in the Bible, I see it, the love of God....giving.

The truth is, when I look at the cross, my love in comparison is a faint reflection. It's the difference between the moon in the sky and the moon mirrored on a lake prone to pebbled interruptions.
Weak tea.
Carob.
But as an artist looks intently at what he draws, I look deliberately at the cross. I read and note and try to feel the holes where the nails pierced His love. And I try to reproduce what I see.

These thoughts evolve into a goal, a heart-frame. More than anything, I want to know what love is, this wonderful love that God demonstrates.
So there are words that need to be spoken and actions that need to wake up, because these are the 24 hour breath of love.
The cross is a verb.
I look at it and I imitate love.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tunnel of Faith

There are analogies that pursue me. They slide through mundane situations with a determination to make me open my eyes to the deeper meaning of life.

There are stories that weave themselves out of the plain cotton fabric of normalcy. I discover an elaborate garment of rich color and texture where I expected to see a coarse cut cotton covering.

I discover this, because I pick the thing up and examine it. I see the analogy, because I look for it, note it's shadow on the wall.

Life is lived on these varying levels of comprehension. There are days when I simply forget to put on my glasses and I am near-sighted and the shadows and fabrics are lost on me.

Then there are days when my perceptions are sharpened to a degree of intensity that is almost painful. That is painful.

Tonight my eyes were dim with tears. Sorrow dripping slowly. As I traced the circuit in my mind of this sorrow, I could only see it's beginning and middle, the end was shrouded and undefinable. But I saw the shadow lope beside it. An impression of something I once knew. Lived.

A tunnel in Alaska. A long, dark, tunnel that ended above the ocean. This tunnel was my personal analogy of faith. I would stand alone at the front of it, doubtful, and leery of bats. And then I would run, and run, until it ended and I caught myself before I went headlong into the sea. I called it my "tunnel of faith" because I had to believe, even in the darkest, scariest middle, I had to believe it would end. I had to believe that the end would be worth it.

A few years ago when we went up to visit Page, I took Avonlea and Grant with me to the tunnel. They were scared as they looked into it's darkness. I started to run and they joined with shrieks. When we came to the end, into the eye-blinking blue of sky and sea, we saw a truly spectacular sight. A beluga whale breached right in front of us. Mere yards away. We stood breathless. That's faith.

So tonight, while I'm still somewhere in the middle of darkness, fearing bats, I remember that the tunnel will end. That the end will be worth the frustration, the doubt, even the tears. That the tunnel will end in awe and praise to God. That's faith, or what I can see of it tonight.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harvest

The fall season has hit. Work wise, Dave is running busy, running fast.
I get left in the dust as he charges ahead.
I gear myself up for labor. The birthing of another school year, another round of seasons and growing kids.
I stay home with them all day every day and I wage a war to keep my focus on the Lord, and on these kids.
Busyness beckons and I say no. I want to be here. This home that God has given us for this space of time. Here, as much as possible.

So on Saturday when the urge to escape to the zoo, or the mall, or OMSI yells, when the mouth of mundane yawns and the tonsils of boredom wiggle, I pray.
Not audibly, just a soul yearning upward, as only a soul that has just played hide and seek, Uno, Skippo, and puzzles in quick succession, can do.

I get up and sit at the piano. Fingers move over keys I once knew intimately, mind reaches backward to remember songs I once sang. I start to play. There are some songs that I knew well, and they assert themselves. And I remember that there is joy in creating music. There is joy in creating.
Posy wriggled onto my lap and sat content. And then she did it.
She took her hands and placed them on top of mine. Her little voice blended, followed my pitch.

Again, and again, I'm reminded, they will do what I do. They feel life by putting their hands on top of mine.
There are enough busy people in the world.
The world does not need me or mine to boost it's numbers.
We mamas and daddies are doing something so much more than entertaining.
We are creating.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

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