"Who were you talking to when I came out here?" Suited up in pink sunflower jammies, Lucy starts at my voice. I spy her perched at the top of the basement stairs.
"The Lord," she drawls and tucks her chin. We let the word roll out like a marble across the floor.
"What were you saying?" I step around our three tiered fruit basket, and the room opens up. Hardwood floors, an old beast of a desk shackled down with paper piles, the kitchen three steps away, and us, we meet.
She drops a shoulder, teeter-totters her head. "Please help me not be scared down here," she points down the stairs. A prayer. A tether to hold. She forgot baby Katherine downstairs in the dark.
"Good for you, Lucy."
"Mom, I'm trying to bless Joe." Lucy rifles through a tiny bank ledger no bigger than an envelope. She traces the empty lines with her index finger.
"What?" I frown at the booklet.
"I'm trying to bless, Joe." In red letters I read, The Bank of Baker, on the front of her book. She opens it to the middle, bends it back and forward.
"What do you mean?" I say.
"I'm trying to find money for him," she says, "'cause I know it would bless him." She clips a sharpie pen on the front half of the booklet and hands it to me. "Can you write I LOVE JOE in here for me," she says.
"What's that?" I flex the booklet, turn it over.
"My little booklet," she says.
"What's it for?"
"Stuff I'm thankful for." She pokes the cover, "I want you to write I LIKE THAT HE SMILES too." She cocks her head, blinks, "And I want you to write, I LIKE THAT HE ALMOST LAUGHS."
And so it is, in the book that's supposed to measure out our money, I write the things she loves about her little brother.
At bedtime, plopped like anchors around the room, we gather for prayer.
"Thank-you for George, Emmanuel, and Regina," Lucy tolls. "I pray they will wake up refreshed and healthy and have enough food to eat," she swells like surf. "And I pray all the people who know you, will know you more." She billows like a sail, her drawl slow and full. I nod in time to the words. "And," she says, "I pray you will help me to swing better. Amen"
The seesaw and sway of prayer gently rocks us to harbor.
"I love you," I whisper to Jack, his arms a tangle around my neck.
"I love you too." He jaunts back. "Will you whisper a prayer in my ear like you sometimes do?"
"Jesus thank-you for this boy you are growing into a man," I say, "I pray you will fill him with your Spirit. We love you. Amen." I break tether to go, smooth still his tawny arms.
I step around that great shoulder of a bunk bed. "And your hair smells good," he calls after me, a canzonette set to the wind.
3436. Myra props herself in Craig's brown recliner, Jane's old Bible upside down in her lap, "Momma, read Bible, you," she says. "You're reading your Bible like me?" I ask. "Yeah," she grins like a shoelace untied.
3437. Jane learns to make bread.
3438. The kids shine a mag-light into the bread maker to watch.
3439. Jack tries the bread. "Jane, you're a good cook," he decides.
3440. "It's just a pain to waste food," Lucy comments at dinner. Jane shakes her head. "I remember those days when I would never get full," she says.
3441. The Tuesday Girls gather again over at Mom's. We eat pineapple basil bleu salad and pray out on the lawn.
3442. I go to slip my flip flops on, and find Lucy's lined up next to mine.
3443. Myra frowns at birds in the garden, "Oh, no, BIRDS!" she shouts, "Jack SHOOT GUN."
3444. We talk about the consequences of lying. Lucy nods. "And trust," she says, "you break trust."
3445. "When God gets here," she tells me, "I'm gonna hug him."
3446. I push through a hard day, and it turns out to be a good day. Patience gives way to peace.
3447. Lucy puts on work gloves to fold laundry.
3448. We make fun at another barbecue with families from church.
3449. "Are you alright, Myra?" Jane chimes to her sis, wilted on the floor. "You learned a lesson that you don't hang on the dishwasher."
3450. "See Joe? See?" Myra points to the rows of pine trees as we walk home from the pool, her and Joe wedged together in the stroller.
3451. Myra traces my eyelashes when I tuck her in.
3452. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
3453. Life of Fred Math.
3454. "I like your singing," I answer to Lucy's morning aria, and she plants a kiss right on my hip.
3455. Craig pokes fun of my morning antics. "She's is on a rampage," he chortles, "Quick, hide the men and children." I laugh myself to tears.
3456. Jane and I putter in the kitchen. I ask if she wants to listen to one of our favorite Bible commentators. "Yeah," she says, "He isn't like I'll come back to that because it's HARD; or we don't want to do THAT. He's like OK, let's do it NOW."
3457. Yes, let's do it now. Another week, and we step into the challenge.