Sunday, October 30, 2011


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


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?"

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.
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
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


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

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.
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.


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