Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Deep Waters

I've long been enthralled with the sea, the ocean, the beach, the waves crashing, tides rising and falling, and the hidden things of deep.

Today is no different, and yet it is.  The sun is setting, sinking lower in a cotton candy colored sky and I watch and listen to these that are mineMy husband.  My son.  My daughters.

I sit in the soft, wet sand with a baby on my lap or sometimes at my side.  She's one now, not yet walking, but exploring constantly.  She digs fingers and toes into the sand and splashes as waves bring briny water over my legs and into her lap.  She watches as her big brother digs for tiny clams.  When he offers her one for examination it goes straight to her mouth and immediately back out.  She looks curiously and digs her fat baby fingers into sand, searching for a treasure of her own. 

 The waves toss white foam and the older three make their own discoveries. 

Nicholas, now 7, battles the waves valiantly, charging into surf, no longer needing a grown up hand to feel confident.  He jumps, he punches, he crashes into them as they crash into him.  When he's knocked down, he comes up tugging at trunks that have slipped a bit below modest, wiping salty sting from his eyes, and turns to meet the next challenge.  He's becoming stronger and more independent right before my eyes.  He calls back warnings to younger sisters, and occasionally takes one by the hand, leading her into the adventure.

 Mackenzie is 5 and she loves to do whatever her big brother does.  Where she once was fearless, because she simply didn't know to be afraid, she has learned to be a bit more cautious.  She wants to go deeper, but she wants Daddy with her.  She holds a hand or sits comfortably on his hip, arms wrapped securely around his neck, and they move into the waves.  She runs along the edge of the water and points our her favorite pinks and purples in the setting sun.

Annie grins as she "tip-toes" along to try to catch a bird.  She's content in the soft sand and may occasionally venture onto the packed wet portion, just to wet her toes, but she doesn't care much for the waves right now.  She's collecting...pieces of seaweed, driftwood, rocks, piles of sand, some shells. 

These that are mine, they are each so exquisite in the magical light of the setting sun.  Water glimmers and wet skin reflects and they're brilliant.  And I realize that they are also deep waters. 

This man, who fathered these children of mine, who is a safe place when waves roll round, that even as I know him and am known by him, has such depth that I may never fully know.
This boy child, the first to swim in the salty fluid places of my womb, growing by bits and pieces toward manhood. 

The first girl, the one that doesn't speak unless she's very comfortable, she runs with grace and has a tenderness in her touch. 

The second girl, with giggles and grins, with silly dances and always something to entertain her self.

This little one, with squishy arms and legs, with curious eyes, with a little voice that sounds so sweet with a few words, the one who makes demands that are sometimes incomprehensible, this one that changes daily as she learns new skills.

I see just this tiny coastal view of who they are now and who they'll be farther from me and there's so much more over the horizon that I can't even begin to know. 

My heart is full and my own salty waters spill over lashes and down cheeks to mix in the sands with this ocean.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


They punish prisoners by isolating them, placing them in solitary confinement.

I fear that we live in a culture that isolates.  It sells us the idea that we can be more connected sitting in front of a computer screen or tapping buttons on our phone than we can be looking into our children's eyes, sitting quietly on the couch with our spouse, or taking a walk through our neighborhood.  We have so many opportunities for virtual community and interactions that we often miss out on reality and authentic interactions available to us. 

Solitaire is a game, or a set of games, that you can play alone.  The way I learned it as a child was by shuffling cards, then laying them out in a pattern, turning them over and trying to create a sequence to get through the entire deck and "win".  Now there are a variety of computer based Solitaire games that can be played with the touch of buttons or click of a mouse in front of a glowing screen. 

As the name implies, only one player is required.  It's you versus the deck, the tiles, the pegs, the clock, any number of things.  There could be some strategy involved, but ultimately it's just you and the game. 

These leisurely games are great for a brain break, mindless shuffling and playing, dealing and re-dealing, sorting and re-sorting.  I've noticed that for me, sometimes the game becomes consuming.  The challenge of beating my last high score (or more likely my husband's), "just a few more minutes," and "let me finish this level" slowly erode minutes then hours and probably even days from my life. 

I wasn't made for "alone" as comfortable and easy at it can sometimes feel.  I was made for relationship and family and community and there's nothing easy or mindless about it.  Relationships are messy, in an ugly-beautiful kind of way.  Relationships don't show me how messed up others are, but show me the glaring reality of my own faults.  Relationships can bring out the best and the worst of me and that's not always easy to reconcile.

Some would say that it's better to avoid the hurt, disappointment, and pain of relationships.  But then we miss out on the healing, restored faith, and comfort that relationships can bring.

Generations ago people often spent their entire lives in the same community.  People that lived and worked together experienced the unedited version of family, friends, and neighbors. 

Now we are physically more mobile and virtually we can span the globe in seconds.  We offer to others the most flattering pictures we can find on Facebook and voice our opinions on Twitter to those who follow and will most likely agree with us. 

We insulate ourselves and if we aren't careful we will isolate ourselves.  The games that we've played will eventually play out and we'll find that we've been playing alone and then we've won nothing. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"A Good Country Woman"

My Papa would often talk about finding "a good country woman" for my younger brother to marry, or as a solution to most any household problem one might encounter.

You see, by his description, a good country woman could cook well, sew on buttons, repair zippers, hem pants, and mend coveralls. She was likely easy on the eyes, too. She probably was up before the sun, because he most definitely was. And she most certainly didn't complain about anything.

I don't personally know any woman that could do all those things on a daily basis, but the last couple of days, I've been channeling my own "good country woman" and putting up a bit of blackberry jam.

And I must admit, it's kind of nice to have done something with immediately tangible and semi-permanent results, unlike the character training, educating, household maintaining that fills most of my days.

I'll be able to look at those jelly jars for a few months and think, "I did that."

(*It should be noted that my mother-in-law spent hours picking blackberries around the neighborhood on undeveloped lots. I couldn't manage that with my 6 and under entourage.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Struggle

Today I'm guest blogging for my friend, Jill @ Living Interrupted.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


We incubated eggs. 

A friend of the family sent us 30 eggs (27 after the car ride), of different varieties and a small incubator.  We set it up on the dining room buffet, because let's be honest, it doesn't often get used for dinner parties.  Then for three weeks we waited.  We checked the temperature and kept water in the reservoir for humidity, and waited.  We made a tally mark for each day that passed and waited. 

The kids made predictions about what the chicks would look like when they hatched.  Would the blue egg make a blue chick?  Were the chicks in the light brown and dark brown eggs the same or different? 

Then on a Thursday, just after ballet, a day earlier than we expected, Grandpa called to say an egg had hatched!  We went home quickly, and then waited.

Seven eggs eventually hatched and the we were all amazed at the process.  It was a little smelly and a little messy and a little noisy to have chicks "cheeping" in the dining room, but a lot of fun. 

And that's kind of the way life is at our house these days, a little smelly, a little a lot messy, a little noisy, but a lot of fun.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Reflections on Holy Week

The moon shines brightly in the night sky and I sit in awe.  All week my mind has been swirling with words, phrases, and thoughts about light and darkness.

The first recorded words of God were, "Let there be light.".  Jesus said that he, himself, is "the light of the world". 

And my brain turns flips and my soul flutters to think that this One who is light would choose darkness.

That He who is light would choose to confine himself to the darkness of a fragile woman's womb.  When most babies leave the darkness of the womb and cry into the light of the world, by some miracle that I'll never fully comprehend with my finite mind, this babe left the darkness of the womb and brought light into the world.  His first cries resounded in a world that had not heard the voice of God for hundreds of years. 

Then, as He grew, He illuminated the darkness with the full spectrum of His being.  He brought understanding where there had been confusion.  He opened the eyes of the blind.  And like the light of an x-ray He revealed the things that were broken within and offered healing. 

This light, this amazing, unwavering, life-giving, world-changing, light spread as He said, "you are the light of the world" and "you may become children of light".

I can hardly believe it is true and I marvel at the grace lavished upon me as I know well my own darkness.

And yet, He who is light, chose again darkness for my sake...for our sakes...for His glory.  He suffered, and died, and went to the darkness of the tomb.  But the story doesn't end there.  Because the dark places are just waiting for the Light to shine and so after three days, He rose!  He lived again!

So I remember, as I go through my days, that shadows do no exist where there is no light.  When troubles come, when darkness creeps close, I know that there is Light.  By some great miracle, I can be in this light, and this light can be in me and the burden of the most difficult day is somehow easier, lighter.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Seasons change

Tonight I had a few extra moments with three of my four children at bedtime.  I'm glad I didn't rush through it, as I normally would.

They had been in bed for about half an hour and I actually thought they all might be sleeping as I finished cleaning up the kitchen, but I heard Annie on the stairs.  I dried my hands and walked upstairs with her, then followed her onto the bottom bunk bed.  We whispered in the glow of a princess night-light.  Then I rubbed the back of her hand, still soft and round in the early months after her third birthday.  I thought about how quickly that toddler hand will lose the dimples and bony knuckles will appear.  It won't be long until she'll be dressing, brushing teeth, and even fixing her hair independently (she already does give these tasks her best effort).  In the darkness she held her "Toddler Mulan" doll close and I smiled to see her dark curls mix with the doll's curls across her cheek. 

This season, when the helpless outnumber the helpful, will soon pass.  Prayerfully, I'll treasure these moments in my heart, and be content in all these seasons of mothering my brood.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Sometimes it's the six-year-old that doesn't want to go to his sister's ballet practice.

Sometimes it's the three-year-old that isn't quite ready for bed.

Sometimes it's the almost five-year-old that just wants to play a little bit longer.

Sometimes it's the baby that has spent too much time in the car seat for one day.

And sometimes it's their mommy.

We cry out with fatigue and frustration and our voices float through the air and we hope that they will land on attentive ears.  We hope someone will hear, recognize, acknowledge, validate, and act on our behalf.

It is often so very difficult when we feel like we're just being moved along by someone else and the choices they've made.  We want control.  We want to be the agent of change.  We want our words to have power.

And they do.

We are a reflection of our Creator, the One who spoke the world into being (Genesis 1), the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1), and we have His words which can do more to sustain us than bread.  We also have the promise that we have a God who hears when no one else seems to be listening.

Psalm 145:17-19

New International Version (NIV)
 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
   and faithful in all he does.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
   he hears their cry and saves them.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

For the bunny rabbit gentleman and his friends

One of the books we've been reading for school this year is Uncle Wiggily's Story Book by Howard R. Garis.  It's full of wonderful stories of how Uncle Wiggily Longears, the bunny rabbit gentleman, and many of his animal friends help "real boys and girls" with various problems they encounter.

Since we've been having wonderful weather, one morning I took the kids for a walk in the woods to collect things that we could make into tools, toys, or even a picnic for Uncle Wiggily and his friends.  (The six-year-old worked with great concentration, but said, as we set things up outside, "They're not real.  They won't come."  The four-year-old replied, "I think they'll like it so much, they'll tell other animal friends to come, too!")

Here are our creations for our animal friends:

 "for chopping stuff"
 The picnic table with stone benches

 Setting the table and preparing the "feast"

 "A cradle, with soft moss for the baby to lay on and a birch bark blanket"
 Sail boat with berries for a snack

Broken, Cut Down

There was a tree in our backyard when we moved into our house. You could tell that it wasn't completely healthy, be we left it alone for a few years. Sparse patches of green would pop out in spring, but in winter we would wonder if it might fall with a "snap" and take part of our home with it.

A few weeks ago the tree was cut down, sawed and carried away, piece by piece. Some sections of the trunk were hollow and rotten inside, dark and ugly, eating away from the core outward.

Now the wood from the tree is stacked at the side of my yard. It sits as a silent reminder; my own temporary alter that calls me to worship God, who alone shines light into darkness.

He is exposing years of inner sickness that has been growing beneath the surface. I recognized the threat, that as it grew within, dark and ugly, it would only be a matter of time before it came crashing down. It was threatening my home. So now, I'm getting rid of it, cutting it off at the source, and taking it away--piece by piece.