Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

As we get ready for service, I think, “The mother who can get her little children to a Christmas program WITHOUT yelling is a superwoman.” And most definitely not me. The too-big socks, all white, the belts missing because you were hitting each other with them yesterday, the too-short pants, and the ever-loving other SHOE… and the baby with the too-short nap who is too grumpy even for Jesus’ birthday cake, already telling me he is NOT singing, clinging to my leg… and THEN, the one crying “I don’t want to be a sheep!” and the other child saying “You HAVE to be a sheep, Eldon,” which leads to an all-out screaming-crying-on-the-floor FIT, and after I "handle it," I tell all children that nobody is allowed to say the word “SHEEP” for the rest of the night.

But with a little help from Grammy Pammy (ok, a lot), we leave on time. Five kids in dress clothes, and one dressed as the Virgin Mary.  I notice the nervous smiles on the older children, so I give a quick encouraging hug.

Somehow between the elbows and the threats and the craning to see,
I was given moments,
moments on each of their sweet faces with more depth than I could ever catch on camera.  

Aggie's looking for me, in her green dress, while she sings and I can her her sweet voice over all the others. Finally she finds me, and when her eyes meet mine, she smiles into her song, and it gets louder, happier.  She sings to make me smile and I am smiling my "glorias" up to the sky.

Lorraine, nearly eleven, not wearing her glasses because the real Mary would not have worn glasses. I wonder if her friends teased her about the boy. She was nervous about that, more so than her performance as Mary.  The blue shawl is draped over her head, and her brown eyes sparkle as she sits by the manger with the boy she most certainly would not have chosen to be Joseph, and she smiles shyly as she holds the baby. 

Seth is wearing a tie tonight, and he's up on the highest riser. This child, who is uncomfortable in large crowds, who spent our first year at this church hiding behind my leg; he is determined, serious. I don't know if he sees me, but it's almost time for him to take the microphone. He reads, clearly, confidently, and the moment is over. But the second he finishes, he looks right at me, and he sees my proud smile. He gives a subtle nod, receiving my message, and gives his shoes a tiny, satisfied smile. And I am suddenly overwhelmed with joy, with the privelage of being the one he looks for, the one whose approval goes right down into his heart and makes him smile like that.

The chaos is too much for Peter. He held me tightly, and when it is time to go up front, his wide eyes fill with tears and he says (lies) "My tummy hurts I need you to snuggle me!" (for the millionth time this month.)  He refuses to go up front, so we watch his peers from the front row.  

We watch Eldon stand proudly in his suit, sneaking peeks at me watching him and smiling whenever he caught my eye. And Marcus, in the front row, stands with his arms crossed and back to me. He turns to scowl at me and I take a picture of his dirty look. His scowl deepens.

Later, we pray, and I've had enough managing the pokey, wiggly, crazy boys to the left and right of me, on top of me, everywhere. Threatening whispers, firm squeezes, even mild mommy pinches do not slow the train barreling towards utter chaos.  

But then, I hear it: the tiny Eldon voice, praying along with the Lord's prayer, just as he should! That deserves a smile and a "good job," and I give it to him immediately.  He smiles back he puts his feet up on the back of the pew in front of us. For a second, he sits like a hammock with a proud smile, then his shoes slip and CRASH right on his behind.  It must have hurt, but his eyes showed only shock and fear (of me), but then he sees my smirk and it spreads to his face, and though I try to stay serious and keep praying with him, we just barely hold back guffaws.  

And the child in the front row is taking off his cowboy boots.  And Peter will not stop touching my face and feeding me my necklace. And finally, we sing the last song and we go. 

Merry, Merry Christmas, everyone.

God is with us, for us, in the chaos, in the darkness, right here.

Come, let us adore him!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


How our eyes open, and our perspective shifts when we spend time in God's Word...

"Very often when I leave a place of worship, the first impression I have of the so-called "outside world" is how small it is - how puny its politics, paltry its appetites, squint-eyed its interests. I have just spent an hour or so with friends reorienting myself in the realities of the world - the huge sweep of salvation and the minute particularities of holiness - and I blink my eyes in disbelief that so many are willing to live in such reduced and cramped conditions. But after a few hours or days, I find myself getting used to it and going along with its assumptions, since most of the politicians and journalists, artists and entertainers, stockbrokers and shoppers seem to assume that it's the real world. And then some pastor or priest calls me back to reality with "Let us worship God," and I get it straight again, see it whole." 

(Eugene H. Peterson, "Take and Read")

Grant that our attentions may not be swept away by little things.  Grand that we may be immersed in Your Word, swept up by Your salvation story-- the story of all of history, that has become our story by the grace of Christ.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

open, eyes!

I don't know if it's the busyness of the season, or just a season for me personally, but my eyes are having trouble staying open to grace lately.  I'm finding myself overwhelmed, stressed, and resentful far too often.

I've been writing less. I would I could honestly say I've been listening more, but that is not necessarily true. I've just been doing more, doing other things.  And napping. That's important too, of course.


One day, I was napping, and someone somewhere was too loud, so I got up to rebuke.  I tiptoed in the living room (so as not to wake daddy and the younger two), hissing rebuke on my lips... "WHO is making that noise?" wide-eyed Lorraine and Marcus met me, quickly telling me it must be Aggie making a tent in the basement.

But my hissing melted away before I had completed that sentence. For they were in dress up clothes: Lorraine and Marcus. Lorraine, in a flowing vintage dress, and Marcus, in his best suit, too small, but still adorable. He called it his "Batman suit" when he wore it last Easter, and he refuses to hand it down. "We're putting on a play," they said, when they noticed me noticing, noticed my hiss turned to silly grin.

After they promised to show me the play later, I went back to bed. Our bedroom was warm from the electric heater and it smelled like the Yankee Christmas candle burning.

Daddy, asleep, and two little boys on the floor, finally asleep after too much tossing and turning.  So much warmth in that room. I lay down under the warmth, without covers. I thought of the boy in his suit, the shining grace of that one moment: brother and sister, playing, creating, imagining, and the grace that opened my eyes and allowed me to see them as more than just noise, nap-interrupters.

Oh Lord, open my eyes,
that they may behold your goodness in this place,
in the waiting,
and in Jesus, come to be with us.

Grant me the faith to know that the world will not stop if I do,
that it is OK to nap,
that it will be OK even if it doesn't all get done,
and that I am your dear child, welcomed into Your rest,
because of Your great mercy

Thursday, December 12, 2013

reach for it

How strong a cord seems —until your life slips off the edge of a cliff and you lunge for something to hold on to. One braid of fibers enough to hold you —that’s your literal only hope. You know it with startling clarity in that moment —how there’s only a singular cord in this knotted mess of a world worth reaching for. It’s dangling right there from our impossible tangle, and it’s the one hope you need to reach for this Advent. 

That scarlet lifeline of Christ.

Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


"God teaches us to pray by sending needy people to make demands on us." Kleinig (And snow days.)

Between snow days and sickness, I've had little time for writing this week.  

Drinking with the Dead: Country Music and the Communion of Saints
On the ache for lost loved ones, and the foretaste

The Uncivilized
A call into the wilderness

Familiarity Breeds Comprehension: What a trail taught me about the liturgy
yet one more profound writing by Chad L. Bird.

A note from Chad:
If you enjoy my writings, please consider purchasing my newly published book, The Infant Priest:  Hymns and Poems.  This poetry gives voice to the InfantPriestfrontcovertriumphs and tragedies of life in a broken world.  Whether you weep, rejoice, struggle, or hope, through these hymns and poems you can speak to God with honesty and fidelity.  By buying a copy, you will also aid mission work, for 25% of the proceeds from book sales go to benefit Lutherans in Africa.  Click here to purchase your copy.  (Also on Amazon)

No good thing
Words from Ann Voskamp

For fun: 
How to make ice cream from snow 
A glimpse into my mess (on the family blog)
Glass candy: Easy and good!
Dancing with and Ipod in Public

Must listen- you will be swept up!
Angels we have heard (Piano Guys)
Little Drummer Boy
Charlie Brown Medley (at the old folks home! so sweet!)

Happy Advent!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


The gigantic secret gift that He gives and we unwrap that we never stop unwrapping--- we who were barren now graced with teh Child who lets us laugh with relief for all eternity.

  There is nothing left to want. There is nothing left to fear: "All fear is but the notion that God's love ends."  And his for you never will. 

So loosen up, because the chains have been loosed, and laugh the laughter of the freed.  

Laugheter-- it's all oxygenated grace.

-- Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Ultimate (imaginary) Christmas Wish List for moms

What do I want for Christmas? My mother keeps asking me. I’d like to tell her something good, something that would really make my everyday life easier. But so far, I have not found any of these items on Amazon.  But, still, a girl can dream...

A nagging parrot
Trained to say, at appropriate times of day, “Did you brush your teeth? Make the bed? Zip your zippers? Practice the piano? What’s 3 x 5? Do you have any homework?)

A BS Indicator light
A tiny lie-detector to be worn by the children. A red light flashes when child is faking a tummy ache, an injury, innocence, etc. If BS does not dissapate after 5 minutes, the BS alarm wails until child assumes humble position in designated time-out location.

An encouraging parrot
“Yes, I see your picture, mmm hmmm, good job honey, that’s a great trick on the monkey bars…” Oh, and it should be able to spell, too.

Sleep dust
Self explanatory. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be allowed have this because I would overuse it.

A cone of silence
For big mommy fits, or, just for… silence. Ahhhhhhh…

A Pause Button for Life
So I can dwell in those sweet lovey blankie snuggle sigh blessedly blessed moments and so that I can control a runaway temper. Maybe I could take a quick run on the treadmill while the children are “paused” instead of yelling at them. Or I could go sit by the pond. Or have a beer. Or put my feet up. Shoot, I’d overuse this one too, obviously.

Lifeline- phone a friend
I can phone a friend now, I know, but this magical lifeline would allow me to phone a friend AND keep the kids quiet and out of trouble for the duration of the phone call.

A personal force field
For those days when I just need a little space. I wouldn’t wear the force field every day, I promise. And the outside of it doesn’t HAVE to shock intruders. It just has to keep them out of my personal space, by any means necessary.

A drain in the middle of my dining room floor
(And a high-powered hose.) After dinner clean up made simple.

Portable, adjustable, invisible fence for children
Small range at the grocery store, then a larger range of play at the park… All the safety without the trouble of a “leash.”

Wireless turn-taking system
Because I just can’t keep track of it all.

Library books with voices
Trained so that, two days before they are due, they start hollering reminders at me from under beds, behind dressers, and in backpacks. (Important: must have an “off” switch.)

Magnetic Shoe Locating system
When mom turns the switch “on,” each child’s feet and shoes are paired perfectly, even if the shoes were downstairs under the couch. (Be sure doors are open before you turn the switch “on!” Some parents have reported finding their child stuck to a door with his shoe on the other side!)

Air hooks and air shelves

Keep things out of their reach, anytime, anywhere.

Whine spray
An air modification tool, designed to teach children to take long, slow, calm breaths and use quiet, calm words. Those who do not adapt sneeze and/or hiccup uncontrollably until they do.

A backup team
When it’s really out of control- a child throwing up, another on my leg, another running towards the road, another with hurt feelings, another laughing at everybody, and the dog attacking the UPS man— push a button, and certified childcare providers climb in the windows and repel from the celiling.

Which of these would you choose?
Anything to add to my list?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bored? Restless? (A Book Review: Boring by Michael Kelley)

Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary LifeBoring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are wonders all around me, and yet I find myself bored, restless. Why is this? Is it simply the hardness of my heart? Can I blame the extra caffeine for my apparent inability to sit with a child, to do a puzzle, to watch the light of learning dance in his eyes? Why, sometimes, do I find myself unable to rejoice in this small thing?

Some days I can write beautifully about motherhood because I can see the beauty in it; in the children God has made, in my hands, being His hands, used to care for them. We make up pretend names, we smile, we pretend and play until the day ends and we are tired but happy.

And yet some days, my soul seems to have grown old. Old and boring. Old and bored. As if the miracle of the soul happening in front of me-- the little boy, sharing cheerfully with the other little boy-- is something I’ve seen a hundred times, something not worth celebrating, something as boring as one little blade of grass in my front yard.

It was on a day like this that I received Michael Kelly’s book. It was good medicine for my soul.

In it, he argues, “We find ourselves bored in life not because of the absence of the extraordinary but because of our paralyzing lack of vision.” (40)

Michael Kelley addresses his newest book to the average person, the one who feels ordinary, small, and perhaps, bored. He implores us to open our eyes, to see God working in and through our lives, in the major life events, in the kitchen, and in the morning commute. His book helps pry those eyes open.

My favorite part of this book is the concept of “chasing donkeys.” The author retells the story of Saul, and points out how God was in control, leading Saul right into His plan, even in the midst of the most mundane even frustrating daily chores, like chasing donkeys. If God works all things for our good (ie, to make us more like Jesus and draw us closer to Him), does this not include the broken dishwasher in my kitchen? The toddler who needs extra attention?

It does, and Kelley encourages me to see my daily chores with God’s ends in view. Marriage, children, finances; all of these can be seen in a new light, and in general, I thought the author’s insights into these specific areas were helpful. His chapter on church, however, I found lacking. Community and service are important elements of church life, but I wish he would have spoken of those without neglecting the most important reason for church: our need for spiritual nourishment, and reception from God through His Word and Sacraments.

After reading this book, I find myself more content with my station in life, and filled with wonder at the work of God around me and in me.

Some are called to a radical life, to be a bright star streaking through the sky. Most of us, however, are simply called to shine in our own little corners, living daily acts of faithfulness, loving God, loving neighbor, giving off a slow, steady, dependable light. And as we do this, we are the hands and feet of an extraordinary God who provides for His people.

I recommend this book to the bored, the restless, and those who long for meaning in the mundane.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 1, 2013

To earth He came

Sitting next to my kindergartener in church is not always my favorite thing. But I do like it when he draws, when I see him inspired by the banners and the Word and the grace around him.

I remember this day, when he wrote words I really, truly needed to hear.

Baptized into thy name most holy- we are, even MOM is. The frazzled mom who can't get the kids lined up in the pew without losing her patience, with the daughter with tangled hair, with her own tangled heart.

Sitting in the sanctary, words and images swirl around us, Words, and we take them in, breathe them in, let them forgive, renew, and lead us.  And the brother kicks the other brother, and I force a patient-looking smile, hoping it covers up my clenched fist of a heart. 

And even that heart recieves a shower of grace and mercy through the Word.

And I pick up the little one, and we begin to pray together. And just as gratitude begins to melt my heart, he tries to feed me my own hair while I am speaking.  

And mama spits in church.

This God, he lifts up my head, but he does not lift me up out of the struggles of this life.  Instead, He comes here, with us, in the earthly, normal, frustrating things. He's here in the gray areas, here in the daily exasperation, here in the mama heart that wants to rest but has so much to do she doesn't know where to start.  

The sanctuary is a holy place, but He is with us in all places.
And so the little boy's mind wanders, and he stops drawing the church banners.  And he draws this:

That's a turkey.  And daddy is shooting the turkey... while he's smoking his pipe.

Daddy is actually up in the pulpit at the moment, but this little boy knows his father does other things when he's not preaching. 

And though it seems so out of place, I smile, because God is there, too.

God is God with us, and more importantly- thanks be to Jesus'- He is God FOR us.
God around us and in us, before and behind us, covering us with HIS righteousness and mercy.

And so what is there left for us to do but this?

Live in God's grace. 

In the woods, in the kitchen, in the sactuary, by the bedside, at the mall. 

Live in God's grace
in the knowledge of His presence
for us.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

aching for slowness

It is almost Thanksgiving, almost Advent, almost Christmas, and there is much to do.. yet I ache for slowness, for rest.  

And it seems impossible, because my list-- it is filled to overflowing, filled with good things, important things, works of love to be poured out on those around me. Giving and doing: these things are important, and I cannot cross them off the list simply because I am overwhelmed, because life is moving too fast, because I can't seem to find time to breathe and just be with so much to do.  If only there were a pause button, so that I could freeze moments, stare at them, dwell in them and enjoy them without feeling like I am simply falling more behind.

The list of good things can drive me like a slave if I let it.  It can consume me and break me. And I know from experience that a mama consumed, a mama broken is not able to serve her family with love.

A welcoming home, and a welcoming lap- can I not have both of these things?

Not in my own strength I can't. I only know how to be a goat, to barrel through, and keep my head down and my feet moving. But feet that never stop-- they step on little toes.  And eyes that look only to the next thing to be done-- they miss the beauty of the falling snow, and the gifts of God outpoured day after day after day, from His heavens.

I don't want to stampede through the holidays. I don't want to miss Him.

So here's hoping for some slowness, for some rest. No, more than hoping- here's praying. Join me, won't you?

The busy season is upon us again, and it is so easy for us to become slaves to the things of this world. Slow down our pace, Lord, even if only for brief moments each day.  Teach us to rest in You, to dwell with you.  Fill our ears with Your Word, open our eyes to Your presence with us.  Jesus, our refuge from sin and death, be also our refuge from busyness and anxiety.  Dwell in our homes, in our families, in our mealtimes, our parties, and our days of travel.  And by Your grace, help us to see you, God with us, and welcome you in faith and love.  Amen

Recommended reading, for those who desire slowness, and rest in Jesus

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Her poetic writing style invites thoughtfulness, rest, and meditation.
Plus, this book includes an optional Jesse tree activity for the children.

The Infant Priest by Chad L. Bird
A collection of powerful poetry and hymns- with vivid (and sometimes shocking) imagery.
I am reading this one slowly and enjoying it thoroughly.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Sparkle Box

The Sparkle BoxThe Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A child is excited for Christmas and all the toys he will receive. Weeks before Christmas, the boy notices a special sparkly box. His parents do not tell him what is in it. As Christmas approaches, the family performs various acts of kindness. Finally, on Christmas day, the boy is allowed to open the sparkle box. In it are slips of paper detailing those kind acts, and the mother explains, “these are our gifts to Jesus.”

The central message: God delights in our gifts to others, and counts them as gifts to Him. In other words, “as you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

Do I recommend this book?
Yes, with certain qualifications. I believe the message is a good one, but must be taught in the context of the full gospel. (We are sinners, saved by grace through Christ, who then learn to give in joyful response to God’s love first received.)

How it could go wrong:
In the book, Jesus is not mentioned until the very end, and then, He is the one receiving the gifts given by the family. If this book is the entire lesson a child receives about Jesus, they will be taught that He is simply someone who expects sacrifice from us, not the One Who made His very life a sacrifice for us.

Further, there is a danger in making lists of good works. If not done carefully, it could lead to self-righteousness, one upmanship, comparing, and all kinds of other problems. Good works ought not to be recorded as if we are trying to keep score.

That said, I do not think either of these errors are intrinsic to the book if it is taught in the proper, Christ-centered context.

Why I like this book:
When the Christmas season comes, I always find myself longing to fight materialism and encourage generosity in my children. And often when I try to do this, I find the children become swept away in the joy of giving, and often, their generosity exceeds my own. I rejoice deeply in this-- this work of God in my children-- and I believe God does as well.

The things I do and teach as a mother help define the word “good” for my children. The sparkle box activity is an excellent opportunity to spell out what is good, what generosity looks like. It encourages the children to see themselves as God’s hands of mercy to the people around them.

My children do not know this, but I have started adding to our own sparkle box. (A cute little box comes with the purchase of this book!) I’ve noted how one child gave sacrificially to a friend in need, and how another simply let his sister have the last piece of garlic bread. I’m watching for acts of kindness both inside and outside this house, and I am getting excited to share these insights with my children.
In this home, the weeks before Christmas will be focused on Jesus: He comes, He seeks, He finds, He dies, He rises, He loves, He protects us. We will bask in His gifts to us and practice receiving His daily help and encouragement in His Word. We will learn and relearn of the new life He has given us, and the ways He helps us overcome sin and love and serve those around us. We will pray that He uses our hands to be a blessing to others, and to glorify Him.

And finally, we will open the sparkle box, and we will rejoice.

In Christ and through Christ, God blesses the works of our hands, our small and imperfect works, and He delights in those works. And (grace upon grace!) He delights in us.

Praise be to Jesus!

View all my reviews

Do you have a favorite Christmas book for children?  
What do you think of the sparkle box idea?

Sunday Rest

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone,
my hope comes from Him
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:5-8

Friday, November 22, 2013


Five minute friday: Fly

It's naptime, and I'm trying to fill myself up in a hurry before round two starts, when they wake up. No, make that round 2, 345, 222.  There is always a sense of urgency about this filling-up, and there should be, I think.  This mommy job is not easy.  It wears on me, drains me, exhausts me. It is urgent, essential, necessary to the health of my family and probably the fate of the world, that I take my resting time seriously.

So I grab a book, and a cup of coffee, and my l laptop, and I set my mind to soul-filling, resting, breathing in.

And a fly lands on my leg. Two flies. It's November, why the flies? Can I not sit for five minutes without being pestered?

I want to flail my arms and fight against all that pesters.

And the flies make me feel itchy, and I look up and see that my living room is messy, and I should probably be cleaning the house. The cat looks at me, shedding on my couch, probably knowing how much I hate that.

The universe seems to conspire to interrupt my rest.

But I shoo it away, try to block out the buzzing, and the shedding, and the books on the floor, and the orange peels in the kitchen, and the sticky dining room table.  It can wait, it can all wait.

And I read a Psalm, and God is my shield, against the foe, and even, for a moment, against the constant calls of the urgent little tasks.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

recommended posts

Boring men and the women who live with them
This post made me want to pull my husband close and rejoice in our little life together, one more time.

Glory vs. the Cross
on living realistically.

Finding God in the middle of pain
and the voice of God thunders through my kitchen...

How to give yourself grace
struggling with the hard truth that you are still a sinner?

How to raise a pagan kid in a Christian home
Are you making the Veggie Tales mistake?

A few on a topic that is high-priority in my mind at the moment: Teaching kids about Sex
A parent's guide... (Book coming soon.)
"I want my children to have great sex."  Do you agree?
Don't give plutonium to a preschooler
Focus on the Family: Talking to Kids about Sex
How do I start? And why is this so hard?

And because not even THAT issue can make us totally "mature" and serious in this house...
some fun.

Has Dinovember spread to your home yet?
I LOVE how my boys are now jumping out of bed, excited, running around the house to figure out what the dinosaurs did in the night!

And finally, just some wonderful posts.  I enjoyed looking at each of these with my kids.
God's creation is wonderful.
Cheap Camera, Amazing photos
Twins born but don't seem to notice
50perfectly timed photos
Mirror photos 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My heart song

My friend Amy just made this wonderful sign for me!  

I am so excited to hang these words that have become my heart song in my home!

(Would you like one of these, or another custom sign? Contact Amy at Blue Sky Originals!)

Monday, November 18, 2013

ten minute glimpse inside my brain

Ten minute freewrite, just because.

This running around, is it ever going to stop? And yet I have not found time to run in days.  I am waiting for the bread to rise, and I should probably clean, or sort through that pile of paperwork with school notes, but the papers will just put more things on my list, and I just need to hide from the lists for a moment.

It’s November, and the leaves have fallen. Yet when I think I know what to expect-- snow, quiet, hibernation-- God sends 70 degrees, and tornado warnings. So we hide in the basement for a few hours, and I laugh at the sweet kids who insist that we gather the dog, the cats, and the birds.  We are spared, and I am not surprised, though perhaps I should be.

Bedtime followed soon after that, and one child could not sleep. He was sure the weatherman was wrong, that the storms had not passed, that a tornado would sweep him away in his sleep.  He begged to sleep in the basement. I prayed with him, yet he continued to cry. I assured him of the alert system, told him mom and dad are always on duty, that we would keep watch even while he slept.

We will always keep you safe, or at least, we would if we could, I thought. And I remembered the talk with my daughter about big girl things, about the birds and the bees, and the strange facts of growing up.  I’m not ready for this sort of thing, I thought, to the music of Counting Crows, and I remembered how those very words played in my head when I learned to love and risk with the man who would become my husband.

During the storms yesterday, wind blew through a window in the basement, and as I gathered leaves and tried to fight back the wind, I discovered an old box of keepsakes. My drawing pad from high school, and a few pieces of art from college.  “Mommy!” they exclaimed, “You did these things? Why don’t you draw anymore?” and we got out the pencils and the pastels.  But it was much more difficult than I remembered, to make art, and it requires time I no longer have, not when a family needs to eat dinner. Maybe someday, or maybe not.  But it is fun to remember, and wonderful to watch children, inspired, even if I just feed them.

And in that box was another box of keepsakes, movie tickets, and letters from a young man at war, serving in Kosovo, writing to his college girlfriend. He teased, spoke of marriage, begged for marriage.  He made promises and plans, he prayed, he flirted.  And as I read those words from long ago, I looked at the man in the living room next to me.  It was so wonderful to be pursued like that, I told him. And he smiled, “I am a good hunter, aren’t I?” and though he has yet to bring me home a deer this year, I agreed.  Those giddy college kids now sit in a calm, comfortable love, in a house filled with life and love spilled over.  Promises kept, fulfilled, and lived-in; the work of God, making two sinners strong in love, making them one.

Next morning, the scared boy woke up safe, and when I gave thanks about that, he shrugged, trying to pretend his fears had never happened.  The girl, my first baby, my young woman, woke up with more wide-eyed questions that she whispered to me while I taught her how to pop a pimple. And she calls her younger sister “cute,” though there are only 20 months between them.  That younger sister joins us in the bathroom, runs a quick brush through her hair, and declares, “I wish I had long pointy ears like Peter Pan.” She starts as we laugh, as if she were surprised she said that out loud.  She is cute.

Big ones go off to school, and the littlest one has unexplainable crying fits. We snuggle, and that turns into sleep.  I ignore the lists and forget the meat in the oven.  I will catch up later. After I sort those papers and reply to those emails, and run on the treadmill, and read, and pray, and create, and give thanks.

Or I won’t.  The bread has risen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

and without words...

Off to bed, boys, and quickly. I have plans for naptime.

There are words to read, words to write.  There is coffee to drink in silence. Mama has a soul that needs to be fed, a brain that wants to be exercised.  Can’t you see I’m bored, boys? I’ve done my time with matchbox cars, wooden puzzles, baby stuff.  I need to exercise my grown-up muscles. I need to think big thoughts, say big things… and I need you little people out of my way so I can do that.

But the youngest one cries, and he begs for snuggles, again.

I lay with them both, pretend I will stay.  They’ll fall asleep faster this way. I set a silent alarm for 20 minutes.

And the older boy reaches for my hand.  The younger one sighs, curls up close, and puts his hand on my cheek.  The tear streaks on his face slowly dry.  My feet slowly warm, and my muscles slowly unclench.

In this big bed with these small people, I see something I have missed all day long:

It is not my word that sustains the world.

But it is my arm in this gray sweatshirt that sustains his little world.

I turn off my alarm.
Two hours. No words. And we are refreshed.

Links recommended

Why creative people sometimes make no sense
I relate to many of these things!

Flesh of my Flesh
must read.

Kissing the Bride through the Veil

Why you should get up close and personal.

wedding sermon
theologically rich and lovely!

A husband took these photos...
love and loss- so moving.

The truth about boring men and the women who live with them.
God grand me this rich, boring kind of love.

It doesn’t feel like we are fighting for the future of our country as we drive strollers with one elbow so we can hold one fat defiant hand while sloshing coffee on ourselves with the other.
But His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He loves the obedience of the widows mite – the offering of the littlest thing that is our everything.
Finally, for fun
Public Radio Interviews his Daughters after One Gives the Other Worst Haircut Ever

Sunday, November 10, 2013

“What happens when God makes art? We do. We happen.” (Book Review: A Million Little Ways)

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to LiveA Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God’s grace is multi-colored, says John Kleinig: He gives Himself always through His Word, but also He relates in specific ways to specific people, as we have been created to receive Him. This book celebrates the beauty of those multiple colors, graces, gifts received by God’s children, and then shared with the world through art.

“I don’t believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare his glory with my life.”

In her new book, Emily P. Freeman gives a gift you will want to receive: she gives herself. She shares her honest struggles and joys in her life as an artist, as a child of God. “What happens when God makes art? We do. We happen.” We are God’s poem, and like God, we create, each in our own way. She walks with her reader through the fear, the glory-grabbing, the sin, the anxiety we feel as we consider what this means for our lives. She entreats the musicians, the bankers, the mothers of this world, helping us all to see our vocations as God’s creative work in and through us.

The message of this book is one I will carry with me. A summary (my words, not hers):

Know who you are, Christian- a child of God, saved by grace, fully known and loved by Him. Live in His presence, and let your dreams and desires hang out in front of Him. Know that He made you, and He will use you to bless the people around you, where you are. You are His poem; His living art. Sink into Him, let Him fill you, and pour yourself out generously for others.

Recommended for everyone.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 9, 2013

sipping truth

Five minute friday. (on Saturday)


I'm trying to start my days with coffee and truth, and today, for once, I'm actually caught up on the daily assigned reading. I sip my coffee and sit in truth.

"Deliver us from evil," I read and pray, and "stay awake, for you do not know the hour."  I look out  my window and the nearly-bear tree and I know the hour is coming. I welcome it, or at least, that small, faith-filled part of me does.  Deliver us, Lord, into Your hands, Your kingdom.

I sip my rich Saturday coffee again, and suddenly I notice the sounds in this place. Boys downstairs, on bikes, pretending, yelling, and for the moment, not fighting. A girl in the bathroom, singing loudly, off-key.  And that country song that brought me to tears yesterday comes into my head again. "It won't be like this for long."

All of my babies, healthy, and here: truly this is a moment to treasure. I listen to the sounds, and I give thanks for them one by one as they pass me by.

The rush of time does not stop, but it seems to slow as I pause in gratitude, in noticing. And when I slow I notice Him who holds my time and eternity.  God gives God, to me, His presence, Himself, for me.

I sip my coffee, and I rest with Truth.


This post was written in just five minutes with no editing.
Part of five minute friday, where we write like we used to run-- with abandon.

Friday, November 8, 2013

That was weird

We came home from town today, and this little fella was in my kitchen.

I got him (gently) before the kitty did, and set him free.
The little ones were quite excited about the whole thing, of course.

What an odd interruption.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

reccommended posts

Worth your time...

Let the slaughter begin and On the Flipside
Do older children wear you out, too?

The Measuring Stick Principle
Poetic, Wise words on comparison from Ann

The Hard Work of Rest
How do you find rest during this season of your life?

Replacing Sunday Mornings
From a woman who left the church, and what she found in her searching.

In sickness and In Health
A few words, powerful words, that will inspire you to love and pray.

Marraige isn't for you
The post that went viral... and don't miss this great reply

Celebrate Harvest with your kids with these hilarious videos!
What does the Farmer Say?
The Peterson Farm Brothers

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bless the Lord

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

(Psalm 103 read the whole psalm here)

For these words of praise to God,
echoing down through the centuries
reverberating in my soul today,
praise the Lord!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recommended: Cherry coffee, and good reads.

Today, I present to you, dear reader:
Miscellaneous thoughts from this week, and articles I have enjoyed from around the web.

I discovered a new favorite coffee recipe:

Chocolate Cherry Creamy Heaven
Michigan Cherry Coffee
Cream, cocoa, and sweetener
(coconut oil if you like)

YUM! (Use a nutribullet if you want to make it creamy and perfect!)

Sometimes, I drink it while I look out my window at a scene like this:

Indeed, I am blessed. And especially blessed this week, as I've had a little time to browse around the web and read for fun. This is quite a luxury, these days.  Here are some articles I found interesting for one reason or another, in no particular order.

Except for the first one. That one was my favorite. But the rest are random.

Gel Pen Faith
If you read only one post, read this one! Love it!

Encouragement for "just" mothers
We can't quantify it, but it matters.

Grateful for Grace: an abortion recovery story
please remember to pray for those who carry this burden.

Aging gracefully
a must-read for those getting old... ish.

The seasons change
lovely photography and devotional thoughts

On being sucked dry
Do you feel sucked completely dry at the end of the day? Here's what you're doing wrong....

Justification by faith alone is still the issue
Does the reformation matter today?  Yep.

It's time to end the stigma of infanticide.
I mean, why not?

Encouragement for single folks out there...

What is the great struggle of the day?
It's closer than you think.

Higher Things: The Gospel of Halloween
What to do with this day?  Nice thoughts here.

And finally, just for fun, here's what my husband and I look like right now, through the eyes of our six-year-old.

Pretty accurate, I'd say.

Have you read anything interesting lately? Feel free to leave links.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In the light

I did not teach them this.
We’ve read no books on the topic. Not one lecture given. Not once have I told them, encouraged them, commanded them.

Yet they know.
It is good to rest in the sun.

Bodies cooled by the water lay still, grateful; getting warm slowly, deliciously.

And I consider how these moments age like wine, how stillness in the vacation sun is treasured more deeply by me now that I have felt the stuffiness of an office building, of a schedule, of the daily grind.  The stillness-- the chance to breathe, to just be--  it is a blessed spot of time, objectively lovely, worth savoring.

My dear children know little of darkness yet, and so they do not appreciate the sun deeply yet, but they do appreciate.  They receive, rest, rejoice, as children.

And this mother who watches them, she rejoices too, but as an adult.  And she ponders these things in her heart.

I consider God, who spoke light into existence, Jesus, the light of the world; His Word, a light unto my path.  I consider the darkness in my heart, the ridiculous way I fight Him, asking to stay in the stuffy office building of my own creation, pretending to prefer the oppressive hot air of my own “righteousness” instead of the free and sweet air of His grace.

I consider the odd and amazing invitation given to me to live in the light, to walk in the light, as He is in the light.  

I breathe in, and pray for a heart open like my hands, for life and light to fill me, for Jesus to scatter my darkness.

The contrast increases as we age, does it not?  As does the threat or darkness, the shadow of death, the horrors we hide in our own closets: darkness oppresses, tries to suffocate, to strangle us.

Do we shut our eyes and pretend it is not happening? Or do we flee for refuge to the only place we can- to God’s infinite mercy, seeking and imploring His grace for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord?

Jesus, scatter the darkness.

I look at my dear babies, soft limbs still playing in the sun.  I would not dream of forbidding them this pleasure.  May they be surrounded with His Word as generously as the sunshine, that they may grow up in the light of Christ.

The light of Christ brings life and sight, warmth and energy with it. Just as the light of the sun produces physical life, sight, warmth, and energy in our world, so also God’s Word brings life to our dying souls, vision to our dark minds, warmth to our cold hearts, and energy to our weak bodies.  Through His Word the triune God comes to us, makes His home with us, and fills us with His presence (cf. John 14:23) (Kleinig, Grace Upon Grace, p 116)

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