Sunday, September 25, 2011


"Why do they do worship?" Jack whispers full-voice into my ear.

The lady next to us, all red lilies and black dress, looks straight ahead. I lean in, "It's a way to tell Jesus how much we appreciate him dying for us. Sort of like how we sing Happy Birthday to you to appreciate you." The congregation all on our feet, he stands on the chair next to me, crosses his arms.

"How long do they usually do worship?" he asks in shout-whisper. He washed me white as snow, the melody encircles the sanctuary. We sing.

"Oh, for a very long time," I whisper.

"Oh." He straightens up, wraps an arm around my shoulders. Another song unfurls. He rubs my back. His spine straight, shoulders broad, he's the silhouette of Craig, the gesture of a man. Though he taps out the songs' rhythms on my arm, lays his head on my shoulder, all I see is that flash of man.

For a moment I wonder why people want their sons socialized by peers.


1379. Lulie, fresh garden tomato in hand, "I picked it because I thought it would be fweet."

1380. Jack's determination that yellow tomatoes float and red ones don't when he floods the sink to wash his tomatoes.

1381. Jane's response when I bumble over a bumpy parking lot, "We're special to God. I know he will take care of us."

1382. How Rosie flutters her eyelashes when I run my fingers through her red curls.

1383. Jane's question when I grumble over clothes left out, again, "Do you feel like I don't understand because I'm not like, 'ERRRRR!'" And how she adds, "I'm just calm when things happen."

1384. Her confession, "Wanna know why I ask you things two times sometimes? Because the second time you give me more details."

1385. How when I grouse and complain that she takes forever to get ready for bed she asks, "Can you ever brush your teeth too much?"

1386. Lulie's determination, "Mommy, I thought everyday we would wipe my face off," as I rush around to clear dinner.

1387. All the children shored up in green quilts and pillows listening to old time radio with Craig.

1388. Jane at the dinner table, "Jack, your ears are fabulously dirty. There's a lot of wax in there. It's yellow."

1389. And her cordial, "Before I go to lay down in bed, I just have to tell you one thing: You guys are such a blessing," as Craig and I smile, elbow deep canning pineapple salsa and plum jam.

1390. How Craig and I stop for plum toast, mozzarella cheese, and Greek olives, a late dinner amid laundry piles and mason jars.

1391. How Janie keeps asking how many pound of gas we put in the car because she can't remember gallons.

1392. How Jack feeds Rosie oatmeal with a toothpick.

1393. How Cerissa says, "Oh, that was nothing," when she watches my kids so I can exchange a vacuum.

1394. Picking plums in the orchard and how we have to outsmart the bees, and a sting.

1395. Five of us squeezed on Grampa's four-wheeler for the lumbering crawl up the mountain to the plums.

1396. Salmon grilled to balsamic and soy sauce perfection. And the midget watermelons and cantaloupe Craig's mom serves straight from the garden.

1397. How Lulie recites The Tiger by William Blake three times on the drive home from the farm.

1398. How I finally realize I should be intolerant of Rosie's sour attitude when I tell her NO.

1399. How much happier she is!

1400. How she signs SORRY and squeezes our faces together for a hug.

1401. How I stumble into a clearance sale on stylish jeans for the kids and me.

1402. How I made almost everything from scratch this week.

1403. How I tell the kids, "I love it when you guys come to church with me." And Lulie's matter-of-fact, "I know," she says, "You are a special girl, Mom."

1404. Realizing that this next season I will work harder than I ever have before and fall breathless and spent into bed each night -- and love it.

1405. The nugget of wisdom from our pastor this morning, "It takes no effort at all to be selfish or greedy or hypocritical."

1406. The handicapped man who hugs my hand and kisses it when I push his wheelchair out of church for him.

1407. Lulie's realization that she can't save plums under her pillow because they will get 'mooshed.

1408. How Jack offers me a plum he picked himself and grins as I take a bite, "Stout but good, huh?"

1409. Lulie's sing-songy lilt, "Jack is so fweet because he picked this for me." the plum in her hand.

1410. How Lucy picks a bowl of mint for Grammie and insists she wrap it up and take it home.

1411. Yellow cake with lime and powdered sugar.

1412. How Jack fishes out the sweetest pieces of caramel corn for Rosie.

1413. The Joy of Mathematics, a college course from Harvey Mudd that the sisters-in-law and Mom and I watch while we knit and shhhhh the children.

1414. How the kids sit and watch the first ten minutes before they shooo off to play.

1415. Jacks suggestion that if the baby's a girl we name her Laura, and if the baby's a boy we name him Hook.

1416. Dinner at a friends' house, taco soup and gray skies, and how a whole afternoon slips away in just a moment.

1417. Boston baked black bean with molasses and bacon.

1418. Psalm 95 in unison with the kids, O come let us sing to the LORD...

1419. Learning that discipline leads to freedom.

holy     experience

Sunday, September 18, 2011


"I was really glad I had my flash light," Jane bobs into the bedroom, plaid nightgown and wide grin.

"Oh," I grimace, elbow deep in the nightly diaper change. "Why is that?" Rosie squirms. I frown for her to stay still.

"'Cause I couldn't see in the chicken house without it." She sways with her grin.

"What did you do when you looked in there?"

"We just looked in at them, " she continues, "Then we prayed."

"Oh." I snap Rosie's diaper and give her behind a little swat. She smiles. "What did you pray about?"

"Jesus please help these chickens have a good night," she says. "We love you. Amen," she lilts in sing-song voice.

"Alright," I gather the soiled diaper and miscellaneous wipes. "Well, good."

Later, bedtime prayers, and she adds, "Please, help the chickens to love you. And please, help them to start laying soon. Amen"

Amen. The little things, they all add up.


"My act of service was that I moved the high chair over to the table for Momma," Janie smiles then presses the top bun on her hamburger.

"Oh, you did!" A night spun crazy, harsh words on both sides, I never noticed.

"And my words of love are for Momma," she catches my eye from the opposite corner of the table. "I love how she teaches us school and makes us work hard so we can have that good feeling inside."

Good feeling. I lean on an elbow, the food blurred to bokeh. All that driving will to work them hard, and she sees it, the good feeling at the end. It all adds up. Suddenly every burden is feather-light.


1342. Craig engrossed in a book, reading away all hours of the night and day.

1343. How the children spend an hour on GO FISH and self-mediation.

1344. How Lulie shouts, "OH, my baby POOPED," and all the kids rush to help with the pretend poop.

1345. Finding a fistful of garden beans someone socked away for later in the freezer.

1346. Lulie's prayer, "Please help we to have LOVE. In Jesus name, amen,

1347. Jane's valiant prayer that we will have a thousand babies (!) and Lulie's serious nod, "Then we will be able to play with a thousand babies."

1348. A quart of hummus blended fresh from simmered chickpeas and garlic.

1349. Trying to draw seashells with Mom and sisters-in-law, while the cousins bluster and gallivant and make all manner of fun.

1350. Egg salad sandwiches made with sweet curry and Mom's secret alchemy of spices.

1351. Plain salty potato chips.

1352. Dark chocolate passed around while we laugh over our seashell drawings.

1353. How Lucy puts her own patch on her eye each morning.

1354. The way one orange zinnia can suck down a whole vase of water in just a few days.

1355. How Jane fetches her Cinderella wash cloth for me when I run out of rags in the kitchen.

1356. How Rosie covers her eyes and prays, "Jesus, Jesus."

1357. Jack's assessment, "Mom, you're the Muffin Man that lives on Dreary Lane," when I make oatmeal yam muffins.

1358. How Craig's mom offers to make whatever we want for dinner. (Fried chicken, the full meal!) And chimes, "It's nothing I wouldn't do for anyone," when I gush all over with gratitude.

1359. Great-Grammie's cherry pie with toasted coconut on top.

1360. Jane's explanation, "No there aren't any chickens in these eggs because they take away the rooster so the chickens can't snuggle with him and have babies."

1361. Lulie's matter-of-fact, "Well, I will take care of him!" when I tell her Jack isn't old enough to volunteer in her class by himself. "Like if someone tries to punch him, I will tell a teacher," she adds.

1362. Learning the new normal of being pregnant this season.

1363. How the people at church take care of each other, a glut of generosity so big I cry.

1364. Sitting next to a dear friend at church.

1365. Salted almonds, dry roasted.

1366. Plum jam.

1367. How Jack prays almost every day that we will have just GREAT food. And how we try to get him to pray for other things, but all the while God does make our food just really, really, GREAT.

1368. A day at the fair with friends, all five walking hours of it.

1369. How Jack puts his hand on my shoulder and rubs my ear when he talks to me.

1370. Jane's plea, "Just remember, I'll be a big help," as Daddy gets ready to leave for the evening service. And how she turns to me, "Last time it was a no. Now it is a maybe, so it's getting a little warmer. I think maybe it's 50/50 now."

1371. And how as Craig grabs his keys to go he ask what I think. All I think of is how some of my favorite memories are when my dad took me to work with him.

1372. How he calls for Jane to get her shoes and climb in the car. Jack too.

1373. The girls' hair coiled in ringlets.

1374. How Rosie makes her eyes round as pennies and blows kisses when she really likes something.

1375. Craig's announcement, "Well, I found the source of the fruit flies. Lucy put a banana peel in the bathroom stool."

1376. Dishwasher emptied, loaded, and running. A gift from Craig.

1377. Another bucket of golden plums.

1378. Another week with my husband and children.

holy     experience

Sunday, September 11, 2011


"Little one, come here." I motion to Lucy, fresh as dew, up from her nap. She thumpity-thumps over golden hardwoods, plops in my lap. "You are such a pleasure," I whisper in her ear.

We rock, shoulder to shoulder. Her small voice mimes each swell, "Pleas-ure, pleas-ure..." She calls in the afternoon.

Later I blow a kiss to Jane. She catches it, her smile curving, and blows back a handful. The cogs of the day turn in tandem. Children and studies interweave; chore and play entwine.

"You children are such a pleasure," I call to them, each immeshed in the trailings of afternoon.

Jane smiles from the hearth, catches my eye, "Uh huh," she nods. "I bet."

And the day revolves on, one moment built on the next.


1305. How Lucy loads a sack full of hand-towels to pack for a day of swimming.

1306. Friends who make a whole afternoon of burgers and their pool. And how with all the salads and peach pie we settle in to friendships gone back for years.

1307. Jane's growing understanding, "Jesus, thank-you for dying on the cross and making a bridge so we can come to you. Amen."

1308. Her logic, "Jesus, help Momma to get pregnant more often, so we can have a better family."

1309. How Jack furrows his brow and wrinkles his forehead on how to start a gratitude journal and then decides, "I'm really just actually thankful that you are my mom."

1310. How Lucy holds her baby while she does school work.

1311. Jane's assessment of the chickens, "At night I try to be gentle to unwind them, like ok, it's time to go to bed." She pauses, tilts her head. "They're basically just like kids," she adds.

1312. How Jack trots in from the hen house, "That one isn't mine," he reports, "'cause I checked before I gave it a HUG."

1313. Lulie's prayer, "And when Dad is gone help us to be grateful and not yell for him to come back."

1314. How Jane cries for half-an-hour when all plans to visit my mom and sis-in-laws fall through. And how she's not sour and petulant, just sad, completely sad.

1315. Thick autumn heat and how Jane and I linger on the swings out back. And how she tells me, as far as she's concerned, with babies, the more the better.

1316. More than two gallons of boiled apples Lynn brings up from the orchard and the pints and pints of apple butter, cinnamon everywhere, not a drop wasted.

1317. A whole bag of fresh corn on the cob, ears of all sizes.

1318. How it pops fresh off the cob.

1319. Fresh green beans snapped and ready to simmer.

1320. A bag of pink plums all rolling and bumbling sweet.

1321. Great-Grammie's shining face when Jane recites the first two stanzas of The Tiger by William Blake.

1322. Apple butter on buttery toast, orange overtones clear as bells.

1323. Scrambled eggs with mustard and parmesan.

1324. How Jane and I wrestle out big math ideas. "This is a hard thing to understand," I finally add. And she nods, "Uh-huh. I know 'cause I'm doing it."

1325. Reading a recent pregnancy magazine and concluding I just see the world totally different than they do.

1326. How Lucy says fweet instead of sweet.

1327. All the men and women who gave their lives to rescue people from the twin towers a decade now ago.

1328. Our whole family stilled in Sunday naps.

1329. A 23 quart pressure cooker Craig surprises me with and a recipe book of 400 recipes.

1330. How he makes me laugh until I can't even breath, breathless on all the mirth.

1331. How he prays, out loud , arm around me, when things get hard. And how a cloud always lifts as thick and invisible as my anger.

1332. The profound feeling of being protected.

1333. Making dinner with Craig's mom. How it's like standing on a grown-up's feet learning to dance.

1334. How we all rise early and volunteer as a family this morning, all six of us in the two-year-olds.

1335. How even Lucy, barely three, rises to the occasion.

1336. Golden plums, a whole bucketful. How Craig and Jane and Jack ride four-wheeler up the mountain to pick them in the old orchard. The red plums Lynn adds on top.

1337. How Rosie brushes her hair with Jane's big purple comb and fires Jack's pop-gun.

1338. Buckets and buckets of tomatoes hauled in from our garden.

1339. New Baby all of one inch, heart still beating. And how my tiny baby moves there on the ultrasound monitor. A miracle.

1340. How Craig and I visit over bowls towered with watermelon cubes, backs leaned against kitchen cupboards.

1341. How even the long parts of the day feel easy in those moments.

holy     experience

Sunday, September 4, 2011


"Momma, can I whisper something in your ear?" The hustle and bustle of Winn Co. Foods whirls at our elbows. Jane tugs on the shopping cart.

"Sure." I lean down, her warm breath in my ear.

"Those girls back there," she motions to a pair of junior high girls, one in red and black flannel pajama bottoms. The black haired one pokes her friend's hips and comments that they stick out more than hers. "Those girls have some very bad manners," Jane whispers.

"Yup," I nod. "I noticed that too."

I nudge the cart forward, and she continues in talk-whisper, "I would feel bad if I did that." She wrinkles her brow, "I think they need some attitude training."

Our evening errands spinning back to speed, I smile. She sees it, attitude. "Yup. I think so too," I say.


1276. Lucy's announcement that her baby's name is Glory-To-God-In-The-Highest, and that actually both babies are named Glory-To-God-In-The-Highest.

1277. Jack's prayer, "Jesus please help New Baby grow just strong and mighty and whole. Strong. Mighty. Whole. Amen.

1278. Gallons of peaches sis-in-law and I can together.

1279. Lucy's announcement, "I dropped a cherry pit through there," as she points to a whole in the wall where the doorknob hits.

1280. Jack's conclusion that he's pretty sure it's gonna be a hundred years until he's my age.

1281. Jane's gratitude, "Thank-you for making this possible," to Craig. And how he sends both of us off for a girls' date out.

1282. Her observation, "Momma, Jack and Lucy have had such a little tiny bite of life. Like if there was a whole banana, it would just be a teeny tiny seed of it."

1283. Three new shirts.

1284. Egg salad sandwiches and a feast of salads and desert and company.

1285. How the children crowd on the couch around Grandad. How they cross their legs and fold their arms, lean in, copy him, watch for every detail.

1286. How Lucy is the spitting image of my gramma.

1287. How my momma and I spoon brown sugar peaches into glass saucers, top with whip cream, a puff of cinnamon, and conversation.

1288. My grampa with a clean bill of health. And how he beelines it to his cabin tucked in the Bitterroot Mountains. The wake of family that follows.

1289. How when Craig stops by to see his brother, he's out playing with his kids and the neighbors and their kids. How his brother takes the underdog's side.

1290. Great-Grammie home from the hospital. And how while she was there in the hospital she pressed the CALL NURSE button when visitors came so she could introduce the fine nurses to her granddaughter-in-law and great-granddaughter.

1291. Four gallons of apple sauce and how they are a whole afternoon of boiling and straining and visiting over apples with Craig's mom.

1292. How we picked them straight from the tree up in her orchard, a bustle of kids gathering bucketfuls.

1293. Craig leaned against a corner in the kitchen reading while I can the applesauce.

1294. How his mom makes whatever I add to a meal seem like the perfect thing.

1295. Corn on the cob. Butter. Salt.

1296. The flood of sadness when I realize the couple parked next to us at church is snorting cocaine in the parking lot before they go into church.

1297. How suddenly the freedom in knowing Christ is so deep and wide and full in comparison.

1298. Janie's full heart as she divides rainbow colored Gummy Sprees between siblings and cousins. How she hides Jack's and Lulie's on their pillows for them to find.

1299. How Jack gallops on one foot to wash his hands after he captures a moth in the house.

1300. The chatter of children's voices all evening long.

1301. How they trot in and don rain boots at the slightest hint of chill.

1302. A Sunday nap in a pool of sun. And how I linger long enough to stretch and doze and breathe slow and long.

1303. How when I want to shoo away the chaos and clatter of children I draw them close. And how each breath stacked on another teaches me that I do love this after all and once again endurance sets in, joy.

1304. Worth it -- the theme of my life. And how in the end every single sacrifice Christ asks me to make is so completely worth it.

holy     experience