Sunday, September 30, 2012


"Here, let me see," I hold my hand out to Jane. She nabs her journal, jaunts around the coffee table. I shimmy out of the deep black couch, see-saw Joe's drowsy head in the crook of my arm. She flops the notebook open, thrusts it toward me.

"Joseph loved his father," I read.

She points to the looping gray. "If you love, you have a good result," she says and pokes the sentence next to O for Observation.

"That's true." I nod, sway Joe at the corner of my elbow. He nuzzles close.

Jane lowers the tatter cornered journal. Myra cockles from the bedroom, but that notebook between us, that bass note of a notebook humming, reverberating, we let the moment elongate and stretch. I nod again, the perpetual motion a sway of newborn comfort.

"Almost anything," Jane finally says, "if you love, you have a good result." She dips her head, "If you love and you don't keep any secrets, you have a good result." She nods in that grown-up way. I furrow my brow, and we bob our heads.

"Huh," I say. "That's true."

Love, and have no secrets. The moment skitters back to motion and we carry on, the secret inside: Love, no secrets.


3609. "We all have different ways we hug you," Lucy says as I make the rounds to hug each child.

3610. "I want to hug Momma more," Jane announces.

3611. And, "Jack," she says, "stop fighting against Mother. You'll never win."

3612. I stumble upon another quote, "The impatient Christian is a weapon in Satan's hand."   ~C. Missler.

3613. "Orangoutangs are the most intelligent animal," I say, "I didn't know that." The children look at each other. "Even more than chickens?!" Jane says.

3614. Myra spits at the dinner table. When we frown and gasp. She panics and licks it up.

3615. Creamy soup with rice and lemon, we share it at Mom's.

3616. We carry on in Revelation. Even the children want to know about it.

3617. Jack crunches an apple and reads to Joey. Joe studies his face, watches Jack's mouth.

3618. "You guys don't get elephant skin, I don't think," Lu remarks. "I got elephant skin. Like Uncle Dan."

3619. Baby melons on the counter, love from the farm, we eat them, juice dripped down our chins and on the floor.

3620. The phone rings during dinner. "I'm not going to answer that," I say. "Mom, toll free," Myra shouts.

3621. The kids and I have Writer's Workshop.

3622. Pesto chicken, crockpot special, invented from what we had.

3623. Jane reads her Bible, a dolly slung up on her shoulder.

3624. Lucy tries to rehydrate a black marker on the way to Grandad and Grammie's. I bust up laughing at her jet black lips.

3625. We make celebration of the August and September birthdays with a party, swirling bliss of children and adults, a carnival of family.

3626. Virtue. We name our favorite things about the birthday girls and boy this past year and replay before our eyes, virtue.  Whatever is good, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. And so we do.

3627. New clothes for fall, a birthday gift, the felicity of feeling pretty.

3627. "I stepped in some bear poop in the orchard," Janie announces, "and it had plum pits in it."

3628. We pick 12 gallons of plums in the snarled old orchard.

3629. We can plums late into the night, the first five gallons a grid of purply red quart jars.

3630. Craig and I pause to crunch rice krispy bars and stare at the old hand-me-down bin still half full of plums. "Ya know," Craig blurts between bites, "that is a lot of plums." He sets me to giggles. We shake our heads, smiles wide, laughs full.

3631. Myra blisses out over piles of plums. One here, a handful there, it's hard to say how many she ate. And so contrite when everything turned terribly stinky and messy, she hopped in the bath and covered herself head to toe in conditioner.

3632. Jack confesses to growing his fingernails long to try to grow claws.

3633. The children awake from Sunday naps. "Change into dirty clothes and you can dig worms," I say, "as long as you fill in the holes." They whoop and holler and, rapturous, tumble out the back door.

3634. Myra bites off little bits of plum and stuffs them in her dolly's mouth.

3635. "Are you trying to make it look like actually you?" Jack asks as I process a photo.

3636. Actually me. Another good week.

Monday, September 24, 2012


"Do you know what is my favorite part?" Lucy scritch-scratches colors on a sheet of paper. She peels the cerulean blue a bit more.

"What?" I say.

"The part that is burning that God made for the Devil," she says. Sprawled tummy-down on the rug, a shoebox of crayons sidled up next to her, Lu rubs blues and reds into the lumpy soft paper, a smudge of yellow, a swipe of orange.

"Hell?" I frown. Settled into the old black couch, Joe under an arm, feet propped on the coffee table, I watch Lucy.

"Yeah." She scruffs out more flaxen yellow, scarlet, tangerine. They warble and twist, a collision of hues. I wonder about her bad dreams, the scary people that say they will cut off her toes, the ones that chase her until she wakes up and comes to me in the middle of the night -- to pray.

"I hope Great-Grampa turns to Jesus before we all go dead," she blurts. "Because when we die, Jesus will check our hearts to see if we love God, and if we don't, we are on the Devil's team."

I watch her stroke more blue onto that paper. "Yep." I wonder if she's remembering how I had said Hell is made for the Devil and his angels.

She pauses, glances at me from the corner of her eye. "Can you not be loud for a minute?"

Lost in my thoughts, I draw Joe a little closer, gaze at Lu. She tucks her chin, squeezes shut her eyes. Seconds unroll.

"Ok. You can be loud now. I was praying for someone to turn to God." She smooths on more cerulean. "For Great-Grampa." She bobbles her head, raises her brows, "Maybe God is talking to Great-Grampa. Right. Now."

I nod, picture Grampa back in Montana, middle of the morning, that big library of a house.

The soft rustle of crayons on paper on carpet lulls with each stroke. Shush-shush. Lucy holds the crayon all wrong, brushes on more apricot and golden sand yellow.  Shush-shush-shush. She cocks her head, chews her lip.

"Do you think I should cut out this part that is God and hug him?" She jab a corner of the paper.

Hug him. "Sure."

"Or the Bible?" she says and pokes another corner. She looks up, contemplates out the picture window, the miles of green, staccatos of orange zinnia, an old gray fence.

"You might hug the Bible," I say.

"Yeah." She nods, brushes her finger over the crayon wax. "Buh-Buh-Bible," she says and fiddles on more cerise.

Bible, God, Hell, it all weaves together. And so we talk theology and try to figure out how to hug God.


3586. "Is there anything else I can do to please you now that I cleared the table?" Jane rings in the new week.

3587. "When you're done do you want to study the grasshopper?" Jack asks at breakfast.

3588. "My next grasshopper I want to call Grass Gordon," Jack chatters. "They're real eaters. They're mostly eating all the time. Lucy, what's 1 + 2? I need you to know 'cause that's how many grasshoppers we have."

3589. "I just like to feed them and hold them and take care of them," he says.

3590. "I have slepten with one of the grasshoppers," he confesses. "I just put him under the covers. That's how much I like them."

3591. Craig takes an afternoon golfing with my dad.

3592. A grasshopper escapes in the house. "I was just trying to hold him," Lucy explains.

3593. "Mom, are you an optimist or a pessimist?" Jack asks.

3594. "Wobber, wobber, I see the wobber," Myra shouts at a cat in the garden,"by the 'matoes."

3595. Tuesday at Mom's. The weekly rhythm. Taco soup and cheddar cheese, prayer. A fermata. We miss the girls that can't come.

3596. "Mommy, wanna know what we do?" Lucy asks. "We tell the truth, that's what we do."

3597. Lucy watches me put on mascara, "What does that do? Make your eyes smell good?"

3598. "Ugh. Myra spilled my coffee," I grouse. "Well, that will take the pee smell out of the house," Jane consoles.

3599. We gather in prayer for a dear friend in unending pain, a medical mystery. Craig prays. The children watch and copy, make paper airplane notes, and carry in their hearts the image of their father on bended knee.

3600. We enjoy the treat of family pictures. Up in the woods amongst vintage furniture, antique trunks, couches, an old pick-up truck, quilts, glassy pond, love unfurls, the life of our party. Rose captures the love.

3601. We carpool on the mini-roadtrip to our photo shoot. Chit-chat, pizza, Pepsi, and every seat of the suburban filled.

3602. Buckets in hand we plod home from the plum orchard, laden.

3603. Dinner on the farm topped off with swatsbin pie all anise sweet.

3604. I practice more lessons on patience -- poorly. I compare notes with Mom. We zero in on the antidote: prayer. Pray for more patience. So simple. And since love is patient, it's really like praying for love.

3605. "Laugh," Myra commands. "Mom, laugh. Ha-ha-ha," she demonstrates, "Mom laugh. Watch me." Joe stops nursing to watch the spectacle.

3606. Craig's brother brings over fresh deer sausage to share with us.

3607. "Since my grasshopper wasn't even moving at nap time today, that probably means he was napping," Lucy fills me in. "My little child, my grasshopper child," she says.

3608. My little child. I pray to nourish my little children this week. And I pray to bless and serve my husband.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


"Jane come here, I caught a grasshopper," Jack bellows down the lane.

Jane, feet jammed into Lucy's black flip-flops, toes curled over the front, heel off the back, breaks into a run.

"It sounds like popcorn when it hops," he whoops and holds an old cookie bucket above his head. "It sounds like popcorn!"

Jane lopes up to the clear pail. Puffing for breath, she leans her face down, peers around an old cookie label. Eye to eye with the hopper, "Wow."

"I might draw it when I get home." he says.

We nod, trot home.

Mighty, he names the grasshopper Mighty and gives him a fresh handful of grass every morning. The little pail migrates from table to coffee table, kitchen counter, bedroom dresser.

"Mom, I think grasshoppers have only one big jumping leg," he announces as I nestle onto the old black couch and gather Joe up to nurse.

"Here, let me see." I hold the old cookie bucket above my head. Huh, Mighty's only got one back leg.

"Mom, wanna hold my grasshopper?" he blusters. "It's actually kind of fun having a grasshopper." He plops a rust-red footstool next to the couch. Elbows on his knees, he raises his eyebrows, "Mighty was the only name I really wanted." He nods, tilts his head.

"Is he mighty?" I say.

"Yeah, like I am mighty." He flexes his arms for me, then taps the lid. "I made three little breathing holes for him. I just used a pencil." He holds the bucket up to his face. "He's actually kind of fun to hold," he offers again.

I smile. Craig ambles into the living room. "What do you have to say for yourself?" he jaunts.

"Are you talking about Mighty?" Jack twists sideways on the stool. "Looks like Mighty's eating. I'll set him down." Little boy settles Mighty on a stack of books atop the coffee table, "He can still eat when I'm holding him," Jack adds, "but," he shrugs and pops up off the stool, bends down face to face with Mighty. "He's trying to climb the wall. He usually gets up a little way and then he falls."

We furrow our brows and watch little Mighty.

Nod and shrug, shrug and nod, Jack fills the night with commentary. Mostly I gaze at his blue eyes. Matter-of-fact and blinking in time with each detail, I watch him memorize the little hopper.

Memory. We memorize what we love.


3552. Jane helps me make lunch. "I hear them out there," she nods to Jack, Lu, and Myra out on the back lawn, "and I think, 'Oh, no, now what mischief are they into?'"

3553. Lucy canters inside. "Wanna know what that SHOT noise out there was?" she says and holds up a ziploc bag. "I popped this bag."

3554. My cousin comes to dinner. We make egg salad sandwiches together, sip coffee, and visit the night away in long strings of conversation. Craig and I tell her our love story and sigh at how it's still so good.

3555. Lucy scuffs out to wave at Craig, grass fragments already snarled in her pigtails.

3556. Salad and prayer and the hot afternoon sun, we linger around Mom's kitchen table.

3557. Dear friends and I wade another few chapters deeper in Revelation. We marvel at how it ripples all through the rest of the Bible.

3558. We forget Myra's blankie at Dad and Mom's. When we drive back, Dad fires it through the open window like a rocket. The children chortle.

3559. Myra squishes my face between her hands, kisses the top of my nose. "Mom, I love you hair," she says.

3560. Myra peels an orange herself and carries it dripping out to wave at Craig.

3561. Jack rambles around the house, his giraffe pillow-pet on a leash at his side.

3562. "Jesus, thank-you Daddy funny. Amen," Myra prays.

3563. I stir flour into bread. "Did you put the EAST in," Jack asks.

3564. We take an afternoon walk, "Stop, stop," Myra insists. "My bawtum stuck." She tries to explain and rearranges her unders.

3565. Egg salad, cucumber salad, green leaf cranberry salad, basil tomatoes, and little smokies, Dad and Mom join us for dinner.

3566. Jane props a baby doll in her lap while she eats breakfast.

3567. She writes a paragraph on how she loves her toy pony so much that the pony seems REAL.

3568. Burgers, brownies, tag, hide-n-seek, and miles of conversation, friends come for dinner.

3569. "Guess who is my favorite," Lucy says as we clean up lunch. "Jesus?" I say. "God," she answers, "'Cause he made Jesus alive again, so I think he is the strongest."

3570. Jane finishes her schoolwork before the whole day has wasted away. "I finally realized: there's no way around it," she says, "you have to do your schoolwork. Playing hooky doesn't really work."

3571. We take a trip to the county fair with dear friends, a whole troop of kids between us. We land home the middle of the afternoon and nap. Oh bliss.

3572. We read more Tales of the Kingdom. I try to explain how Jesus gives us each different gifts, special things we are good at. "I know what mine is," Janie says, "READING." I explain that Jesus's gifts are much bigger and sweeter even than reading and at the same time marvel at what a gift it is to be so rich in reading.

3573. Mom and I pray for revival in this land starting the only place revivals can start: our own hearts.

3574. Craig and the kids pick two buckets of yellow plums on the farm.

3575. We harvest sweet corn and carrots from the garden.

3576. I start Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.

3577. An answer to prayer: I find an earring I lost pressed into the rug by my bed.

3578. Craig's mom sends home a hand knitted blue blanket for Joey.

3579. A fresh pack of moleskin journals, black this time.

3580. Myra keeps calling Jack's grasshopper, Froggy.

3581. I hear a quote by C. Missler. "The secret to a happy life is to learn to delight in duty... Work is a form of prayer."

3582. Lucy lingers in the kitchen as I spread peanut butter for sandwiches. "You're nice," she blurts.

3583. She runs her fingers over my shoulders as she skips in from outside.

3584. I force myself to slow down and look into the eyes of each of our children, memorize that infinitesimal pause before they speak.

3585. I remember again how much I enjoy them. We dillydally and lallygag, saunter and dawdle, let gladness grow up between us. Mighty. We memorize it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


"You could pray that I don't have any bad dreams any more." Lucy lulls. She sits in the backseat, seatbelt squared across her torso.

I click the key off and rest my wrists on the steering wheel. "That's a great idea, Lucy." I fumble for a rumpled brown journal

"Wanna hear about one of the best dreams that I've had," she lilts.

"Yeah." I pop the cap off my pen. Scribble about her bad dreams.

"That Jesus is holding me in his arms," she says. Her words sway. My breath matches time to the rhythm. "He just holded me in his arms all night," she says, "and protected me." I hold still, feel His arms there with us, trace the glasslike surface of her dream.

"He does that," I blurt, the words like pebbles in my mouth.

"He can hear you even if you pray quietly." She looks out the window. A pyrex dish of chocolate chips  lies empty at her knee. Smudges on her forehead and eyelid match chocolate blots in the bowl. "One time I prayed quietly to myself when Jack was praying at night," she carries on.

I nod. Secrets float by like dandelion umbrellas. We let them drift and glide. They hang in the air like a breath of wind. "Jesus always hears us," I breathe. We share the words, then grab hands and skip into the bookshop for the rest of our date.


3520. "Mommy," Myra chirps from the jog stroller shoehorned in next to baby brother, "I kiss Joe."

3521. We load up the whole herd of bikes and take a family bike ride at the park.

3522. The night gets hectic and Lucy walks around with a stethoscope in her ears.

3523. New earrings, silver arc, blue green dew drop suspended midair.

3524. Splitting headache ebbs and vanishes.

3525. I delve into Revelation with two friends. We let the awe of it wash over us.

3526. Tuesday at Mom's, coconut curry chicken, prayer, friendship, the sweetness of letting my guard flutter down like a discarded scarf.

3527. "Myra pooped in the big one potty," Myra trumpets from the bathroom. "I wipe self!" she says.

3528. I come across an old chip of terra cotta, the words worth it scrawled over the front.

3529. Joey squirms under Myra's hug.

3530. "There's slobber on you." Jane pats my shoulder.

3531. The circus of us rolls to motion as we prepare brats and salad and set the table for dinner.

3532. The children practice using checklists and set the hearth with folders and books for school.

3533. "The plum is kind of soft," Lucy confesses at plum picking, "because I had it in my pocket. Aw Mom, I squished a plum in my pocket." Jane squints, frowns and adds, "Mom, there's a squished plum in Lucy's pocket that she can't get out."

3534. "One of our best presidents," Jane says as we drive home from the farm, "is the guy that died the year I was born." I think back. "Ronald Reagan?" I say. "Yeah. He had a lot of money but was respectful and tried to use it for good."

3535. "A good thing to do," Janie tells me, "is to be respectful and try to get into authority and then guide people to Jesus."

3536. We pick more blackberries and yellow plums on the farm.

3537. We feast on stew and corn on the cob, fresh chopped cucumbers and peppers, fist-sized tomatoes, and blackberry crisp.

3538. We play tag in the car coming home from blackberry picking. I join in just to thumb my nose at a sour attitude inside of me.

3539. Craig does reconstructive surgery when Lu busts a lamp over our bed.

3540. We watch a documentary on butterflies. "Do caterpillars really turn into butterflies for REALS?" Lucy wants to know. I nod. "For REALS?" she squeals again. "Yeah!"

3541. As the movie wraps up, Jane adds matter-of-fact, "They must not believe in God 'cause they're not saying anything about him," as if God's design were obvious.

3542. After an enthusiastic conclusion to plum picking, Craig makes a discovery, "We have established that I should not have salad and plums for a meal."

3543. Craig takes Jane on a date during naps. Jack nuzzles up to my elbow. "We could play a game if you want," he says. And then offers, "Want me to make you a palm tree?"

3545. Craig brings home heavy whipping cream for ice cream. "I like that kind of milk," Lucy says.

3546. "Me and Thad and Jack like boogers," she confesses when I scold Myra for eating them.

3547. I unwrap and put away a whole set of glass serving dishes with snap on lids. They clank into perfect stacks and leave the cupboard as quickly as they are put away.

3548. I replay the spun out frustrations of the week for my mom to listen, and she tells me true: persevere, keep on, do not give up, press ahead. So I do.

3549. Tales of the Kingdom.

3550. A whole Sunday evening to linger with my dear, dear cousin encircling each other in prayer and love and dinner and a stroll in the garden. Perfection.

3551. That bedrock peace that strings one day to the next.