Monday, August 1, 2011

On My Birthday

"Is that a horse track?" Lulie points out the window, her pointer finger up by her cheek. Wide green lawn swoops by: the cemetery.

"No." I glance at the grid of marble headstones. "It's a cemetery. It's where they bury dead people." I rest my hands on the top of the steering wheel, "The whole ground is just full of dead people under the grass," I say.


I slow for a light at the corner. "Do you know what happens when you die?"

"No." She stares out the window, then grins at me.

"Your body gets so broken," I say, "that your spirit, the part that makes you, you, leaves. If you've asked Jesus to forgive your sins and live in your heart, he takes you home to heaven." I glance at the hot summer sky, "And you get a new body that can fly and do other things, because it will be like Jesus."


I glance both ways for traffic, and round the corner. "If you don't have Jesus, you go to Hell and burn in fire forever."

She furrows her brow, "We don't like that."

"Nope." I glance at her round face in the rearview mirror. "Do you want me to pull over, so we can pray that Jesus will forgive your sins and live in your heart?" I ask.

"Yeah," she nods.

I accelerate to the next block. "When will we stop?" she chirps as I round the corner and ease in next to an overgrown shrub.

"There." I lean into the door and hop out, pull Lulie's door open and grab her pudgy hands.

I find her eyes. "If you pray and ask Jesus," I say, "he will forgive all your sins. Do you want to?"

She bows her head, pulls her hands up by her cheeks. "Please forgive me my sins. Amen."

She looks up. "When they nailed Jesus on the cross," I raise my eyebrows, "it was like he was getting all the spankings in the world."

She arches her brow, "Jesus got spankings?"

"No. It hurt worse than spankings," I stare into her eyes. "They nailed him on the cross." She demonstrates where they pierced his hands and feet. She knows the story. "He was getting in trouble for you," I say, "so when you die you don't have to go to Hell. You can go to Heaven if you've had Jesus forgive you!"


"If you ask him, he'll come and live in your heart." I watch her face. "Do you want to ask him to live in your heart?"

Again she bows her head and tucks her hands at her cheek, "Jesus, please come live in my heart. Amen."

She looks up. We meet eyes. "Now," I say, "he's living in your heart!" I smile into her eyes. "All the angels in heaven are having a party because you get to live with them when you die!"

She blinks. "And they're having a party?"


I finally notice the summer hot blacktop radiating up my legs. We smile, and I hop back in front seat, whirl off. Errands suddenly small, I chauffeur a new citizen around in my back seat.

"So how does it feel," I query from the front, "to have Jesus in your heart?"

"She watches the houses skim by. "Just, just good," she answers. We let the moment stretch long. "All those dead people under the grass," she adds, "they went to Jesus and had a party wiff him."

I grin. "Only if they had Jesus forgive their sins," I add. Capitularies of belief snake through new muscle and pulse.

She nods. "Yeah."

And so it is, a new child born into the Kingdom. Faith and understanding grow each day.


1136. Lulie's prayer for salvation.

1137. Her sing-songy, "You are hugging me, and I am hugging you. I am holding you, and you are holding me."

1138. Jane's date with my mom and how when Jane peppers her with questions about make-up, my mom explains it perfectly: Some women wear make-up so people will notice them, but we wear it as a way of showing respect, like dressing up.

1139. Uncle Peter and Auntie Rosie home safe from Ireland.

1140. Jack's observation, "Jane, if you put your head out the window and close your eyes while we're driving, it feels awesome."

1141. How when Lulie tries to snip baby Rosie's fingers off to see what would happen, it doesn't work.

1142. Yellow Clematis, dug fresh on the farm and hand delivered.

1143. Lulie's comment on setting the table, "I'm moving all the plates to enough room for the elbows we'll have.

1144. Jane's prayer, "Help us all to be long-suffering -- except for Dady because he already is long suffering and single-minded too. Amen."

1145. Morning runs with Jane. And her commentary on jogging, "It's kind of like I get a date with you every morning."

1146. How we pour over the race rag in search of a new race to run together.

1147. New running shoes for me!

1148. Pineapple upside-down cake, caramelized around the edges.

1149. Qdoba queso burrito, steak and mango salsa -- birthday lunch, knee to knee with husband, children at each elbow.

1150. How Jack dead-heads my marigolds and feeds them to the chickens, then pulls handfuls of yellow clover for them.

1151. A roof on the hen house. How Craig shingles it until a migraine hushes his labor and he rests.

1152. How Jack wants to call all the chickens Marigold. Or Poppy.

1153. Birthday cards, phone calls, and messages.

1154. Homemade Thai peanut sauce.

1155. How even though Rosie pukes all over the car seat two blocks from the chocolate store, nothing can stop Craig. He dashes in and emerges with 4 bars -- for my birthday. We drive home windows down and hope no one else smells the stench.

1156. The privilege of bathing and dressing Rose all fresh.

1157. How Craig fields the car seat.

1158. Coffee and chocolate, burnt sugar caramel chocolate, the kind that drips caramel down your fingers.

1159. Sleep.

1160. The foreign feeling of a whole week of full nights sleep. The obvious increase in my intelligence.

1161. Our children's prayers for drought relief in Kenya. How they don't understand when I say people will be dead by Christmas if no one helps. And so they pray.

1162. More sketches and drawing class, daisies and lilies splayed bold.

1163. A visit from my cousin and her four children. How she practically brings a whole farmer's market with her. Deep bedrock kindness, unmistakable, unquenchable.

1164. Pictures from Pete and Rose's wedding.

1165. How we settle and linger and tease the moments out long with family.

1166. How I learn what good, good men my brother are from spending time with their wives.

1167. My sis-in-law's new blog.

1168. How Jane carries a tiny bottle of water when we run in case she gets thirsty.

1169. How Craig's brother is a teacher so they conspire on chicken coop plans and projects all summer.

1170. Cards from my children, letters scrawled out like works of art.

1171. How I stumble across an old note jotted to myself two years ago. I ask Jane how she is going to change the world. "Have kids," she says as if it were as obvious as the sun in the sky.

1172. Me too. My greatest footprint in this next generation is with her. And Jack, and Lulie, and Rose. Influence untold, it's almost too big to see.

holy     experience


Southern Gal said...

Such a sweet way to record and remember her "birthday" into the family. Happy Birthday to you!

Daniel and Cerissa said...

Happy "birth" day to Lucy lou!
My boys are always fascinated by that cemetery as well... I think in America we are all about keeping real life "secret"... death, sin, even normal bodily functions.. everything done behind closed and locked door. It is so refreshing to just say it like it is. Dead, broken bodies. It's part of life that just will keep happening, and what will you do with that reality? Sorry, I'm probably not making much sense here... just rambling and thinking out loud :)
Happy Birthday, my sweet sister!

Goat said...

1171 & 1172. I call it the Main Event in Life.

And to think how easy it would have been to keep on driving....


Oh the things we have missed,brushed over in our hurry or dropped off for others.

You live intentionally, alert for opportunity.Listening to the Holy Spirit. You don't make it look easy, you make it look possible, a decision made before hand rather than debate in the midst of rushing around. Love you.

And Cerissa--love your comment.

Craig and Bethany said...

Bless your heart, Ceris! I totally agree.

And the decision made before hand, you taught me that, Momma.

Thanks for the Birthday wishes, ladies!

Melissa Ann said...

Breathtaking. Welcome to the family, Lulie! I hope to be such a light to my daughters as you obviously are to your kiddos.

Stephani said...

Praise the Lord!

Rachelle said...

I was wondering how your b-day went! What an awesome, awesome, birthday present!! You truly know how to sieze the moments - I love that about you.

Anonymous said... are such an AWESOME Momma. Happy Birthday to such a wonderful person. Love reading your blog.
Pam M.

Anonymous said...

What a great ride in the car! Love these sweet pictures of your babies.

emily wierenga said...

oh friend... this is what it's all about. this, what parenting is about. ushering our children into the kingdom of heaven... i love your beautiful heart. i love how you described Jesus as getting all the spankings in the world--brilliant. and you share my birthday! happy birthday dear sister.

Amy Bowman said...

I just love your lists..

Keisha Valentina said...

Oh, oh OH!

I am crying and laughing all at the same time.

Oh my goodness...

Happy new birth Lulie!
Happy Birthday to you my dear and treasure friend...

Pig Woman said...

Happy belated, Bethany! Love you! Tell Jack I think Poppy and Marigold are AWESOME names for chickens!!! Well worth using more than once.

Goat said...

PLEEEEASE and one be Gladiola. And one Goldilocks--which is what Grandad calls Marigolds..... :)

Craig and Bethany said...


Marigold, Poppy, Gladiola, and Goldilocks -- two more to go.

EP Hemingweigh said...

I prefer fried and alfredo

Pig Woman said...

You Scoundrel, EP! Do we get photos of your newly roofed coop?

Gladiola and Goldilocks. Perfect! I can hardly wait to meet the girls.

Adina said...

Thanks for the chuckle about the obvious increase in your intelligence.

About Lulie's scissor incident--how on earth did that get into her sweet head? And how was crisis averted?

The pictures are wonderful. Elasta-face-girl.

Craig and Bethany said...

Well, lets just say, praise the Lord that Rosie's a squirmer and Lulie's got terrible aim. I think Lulie was just wondering what would happen if she snipped a finger. Oh, my!