"Do you think God's worried about if you're happy?" I ask.
Jane perches on the hearth arms breath away. Joe bobbles his legs there on the ottoman. He slaps his thighs, waves and wobbles. I lunge for a wet wipe, flick a rumpled half-sheet of paper from his eager hands. I scoop his feet up by the ankles. He grins.
Jane watches, plucks up the paper and smoothes it flat. "He's worried about if it's good in the end," she says, "not if it's fun now." She cocks her head. Hair knotted up and speared with hair sticks, a cockle of curls blooms out the side and frames her face. "Like in school," she adds, "sometimes it's not fun learning, but it's fun knowing how to do stuff."
I picture the hours bend over that floppy blue reading book, unyielding rigid hours that unfurled in wings wide as the horizon.
Such wings. And such practice. It's true: those who persevere are the ones we say are blessed.
3487. "Look," Myra exclaims, dolly perched up on her feet, "my baby flying."
3488. I find an old pleather recorder case with a whole deck of Crazy 8's inside. Myra doles the cards out like money. Later I find two cards and an old straw on Joe.
3489. Mom and Jane disappear downstairs to quilt together.
3490. I find Joe fast asleep with arms sprawled wide.
3491. Kitchen apron and latex gloves, a whole river of lye and a sewer snake, Craig unclogs our kitchen sink. I overflow with love for him.
3492. We barbecue with friends up north. In the dusty air and setting sun, tables sag with brats and salads and chips and brownies. We pause in all the riches to really see each other.
3493. I go to eat bbq leftovers and see the words Love you! scrawled on the ziplock bag.
3494. Jack, breathless from the run inside, bursts with, "Mom, Mom, I'll show you what we are doing for Lucy's monkey bar lessons."
3495. I spy Myra, toothpaste in hand. "You weren't gonna just eat that right out of there were ya?" She nods, "Yeah."
3496. "Momma," Jane chirps, "you're just fun to be with and to visit with."
3497. Lucy gets in trouble then comments, "I'm just sad because you told me that Lady Macbeth made Macbeth want to kill the king."
3498. Mom and Dad come for dinner. We share fried eggs and brownies, garden bounty, cucumbers, black grapes, and an evening, the best part.
3499. We swim for a whole afternoon out in the country. The pool feels like it is on the edge of the world.
3500. We play Canasta late into the night with my little brother and his spunky wife.
3501. I pray for Joey when I tuck him in. I cup his face. He hugs my arm.
3502. All the monkey bar training and Jane pulls a muscle in her stomach. "Jesus, please help Jane not feel that way," Jack prays, "because I love her a lot. We love you. Amen."
3503. Friday night, a week of hard work, and we celebrate: salted brown butter rice crispy treats.
3504. An amphitheater of children surround me as we brown butter and melt marshmallows.
3505. Jane cuddles with Craig. "Daddy, I love you," she whispers.
3506. I eat the first two squares of a Godiva chocolate bar.
3507. The children gobble up cinnamon clove zucchini bread fresh from the garden.
3508. Cerissa and I talk school and weave the excitement of another new year.
3509. Not even two weeks in and Libby makes mothering a newborn and toddler look simple and easy, the work of an artist.
3510. Craig labors half a day over more grilled pineapple salsa.
3511. A dear friend goes in and out of surgery and all looks good.
3512. Joe loves to nurse, rolls his eyes in satisfaction.
3513. Salmon and lemon zucchini bread down on the farm, the cadence of family in each week.
3514. The children pick a bucket full of cherry tomatoes.
3515. I tuck Myra in for her nap and fall asleep myself.
3516. Extended family filter in and out on the farm, the afternoon a revolving door of familiarity.
3517. We study the family homework for Sunday church. "God loves it when you do good to others," Jane comments.
3518. My brother tells me that 1 Peter and 2 Peter were written to the persecute church and are still beloved by persecuted christians all over the world. I begin to re-read them with a new lens.
3519. Another Sunday night and I remind myself: be faithful with what I have been given. Be faithful.