"Why does God LET us lie?" Jane snaps her head from side to side. She frowns and wrinkles her brow, eyes puffy and red.
I sit next to her, planted on the edge of my bed. "Because," I say, and she stares into my eyes, "if he controlled us and MADE it so we couldn't lie, we wouldn't be able to love." She holds my gaze, her face all splotches and swollen. "We can only love if we CHOOSE not to lie. Love happens when we choose." I tuck my chin and smile into her blue oceans of eyes. She blinks. I sigh.
"Momma,"she says, "will you forgive me for lying?"
I let our gaze hold, long like a bass note. I sigh. "Yeah. Jane, I forgive you." I put my arm around her then pull her back to arm's length. "I forgive you completely," I say and before she looks away, "I can do that because Jesus forgave my sins. All of them. Completely."
"Oh," she says and we pause as if the moment were a comma.
"Kinda makes you see how even good people are wicked inside and need Jesus to forgive their sins, huh?"
"Yeah," she sags her shoulders, "even I need Jesus to forgive me."
"Even you need Jesus to forgive your sins, and I need Jesus to forgive mine."
I encircle her in my arms. She rests her head on my shoulder, my cheek on her curly mop. And for the longest time we just we sit and let that soak in.
Later we all bunch up on the little black couch. I nurse Joe. They perch on the arms and take turns squeezed in next to me. Myra, a shifting sea of knees and elbows, washes up around Joe and me like high tide.
"Did you know I think you're great?" I say and grin at Jack balanced on the sofa arm.
"Did you know I think your eyes are pretty?" he spikes back, chin tucked and eyes bright.
"Your shirt is pretty," Lulie adds and pokes a black flower on my tummy.
"You're pretty all over, Momma," Jane slides off the kitchen bench all tall and shoulders square.
"I think your eyes are pretty," Jack chimes again at my elbow.
"I love you," Jane adds, "I don't love you 'cause you're pretty. I love you cause you're you." She smiles. We all do and let the moment roll by like leaves falling in autumn as if there were a thousand more to come.
3267. "Mommy," Lucy peals, "I have practiced swimming so much I can BARELY swim."
3268. Myra nuzzles my shoulder while I nurse Joe. "Can I nurse 'im?" she asks.
3269. "Daddy, thanks for working so hard," Jane greets Craig when he gets home. He catches her eye across the room. "Aw, I love to work hard to take care of you guys," he says.
3270. "I watered some worms," Lucy announces, "so they will grow longer and we can use them we we go fishing."
3271. "Everyday is beautiful," Jane tells me, "'cause it's a day that the Lord has made."
3272. Craig works long hours all week and my mom stops by to help me cut the backing for a quilt I started eight years ago.
3273. She listens while I tell her again and again all I love about each of the children, and I glean the fields of her wisdom.
3274. Two ferns that look like wings.
3275. Drop in company between Rose Show events from Craig's mom.
3276. Jane practices the writing process. She writes about worms and colors and bike rides -- starts to memorize the moves.
3277. Lucy trounces in from out back. "There's a yellow ant on me," she says, "It already fell off. Do you think they can bite?"
3278. I begin to rise early and start a new morning routine.
3279. Bean soup with corn salsa and parmesan.
3280. The kids and I make a picnic with Jimmy John's day old bread and whole milk Greek yogurt.
3281. Lulie tries to play Uno with Myra. "When I win, Myra, we're gonna stop this game."
3281. I see again how the key to discipline is resolve, and then marvel at how these sweet children sense even the slightest waver in steadfast resolve.