Thursday, April 10, 2014

warmth of air, warmth of spirit

I'm so thankful Spring is here. Although, I remember when I was younger, probably a sullen teenager, that I dreaded warmer weather. I loved to be inside, reading books, and I knew when it was sunny and warm that I would be expected to go outside. Moreover, I would be expected to mow. I still remember the dread of waking on a Saturday morning and preparing to go into the "shed," full of hanging spiders and darting wasps, to get the grass cutter. I'd mow for hours, while the sun poured down, the insects fought back, and the stifling breeze blew the chaff back into my face as I made another turn around the field.

Ahem. But things are different now. I have a husband who mows, or pays someone else to do it. I have a garden that I am anxious to see grow and provide food for us. And I have two rambunctious little boys that need to play in the dirt and the grass and the open air.

There will be a time, soon, that I will think back fondly to winter. I imagine it will be in the middle of July, when wasps, roaches, and gnats are everywhere, and the caterpillars are devouring my swiss chard. It will be too hot to go out after 9 a.m., and I will walk at night with arms outstretched and swinging wildly to try to avoid putting my face into another inappropriately placed spiderweb.

But for now, I'm so happy. My boys and I are so happy. We are taking walks, and meeting friends at the park, and digging through the garden beds for plump worms to study. We are having picnics at Daddy's work. We happy to be out in nature again, thankful for its spiritual balm. It was a long winter.

"It is in such moments as these that the soul becomes conscious of her native dignity: we seem to be brought nearer to the Deity; we feel the sense of his sacred presence; the low-minded cares of the earth vanish; we view all nature beaming with benignity, and with beauty; and we repose with divine confidence on him, who has thus embellished his creation." 
--Helen Maria William, Julia

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Another cold snap, bare branches, whistling winds cutting through too-light spring jackets, foolishly chosen for the date instead of the temperature.

I have been patient, you guys. I have kept quiet. I have silently brooded over my failing seedlings, baby plants reaching for a sunlight and warmth that just isn't there. I have watched more Pixar than I dare admit, trying to keep these boys busy with anything I can.

I'm so ready. I'm ready for new life peeking through damp earth. Ready for buds on our trees, for boys in mud, for fresh air coming through windows. Ready for new life in me.

God has been cultivating the soil of my heart this winter. He's been overturning old habits, planting new ideas, and completely turning my spiritual world upside down. It's. Been. So. Good.
Hard, too.

I'm hoping for a big summer, where I see God move in ways I've been praying for all winter long.

p.s. read this

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

something I saw--

I was looking at GAP reviews (for leggings--don't laugh!) and I saw this 5 star rating review:

"I got these for my daughter to giver her a fall season lift; she's a young mother and needs comfy stuff to wear around home. She loved them."

Isn't that the sweetest?? I'm so happy that there are other young mommies out there, caring nonstop for their babes, and still being cared for by their own moms, because oh-my-goodness do we need it.

Whenever someone holds the door open for me and my small brood, or smiles indulgently at my sour puss baby in the checkout lane, or gives us a date night out, I am overcome by gratitude, gratitude for their love for my boys and for their love for me. I never knew how much I would need it.

This motherhood thing is consistently harder than I could have ever imagined. In spite of a nagging feeling that I should be able to do this on my own, I'm so thankful for help. And for my own mom, who has done the exact same thing as this lovely woman did for her daughter. Thanks, mom. And thanks to the other lovely people out there, extending a hand to the young mommy who needs it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

listen again

close your eyes-- listen again
to crispy leaves falling in the autumn wind,
a boy and his father hard at play,
another little one amazed by fast moving clouds,
planes, birds, squirrels
anything outside his sphere of his usual
tucked up place in the house.

keep listening
don't get up to finish dinner
--hot dogs, broccoli, pureed squash--
don't check Twitter
for heaven's sake
don't get up to write this poem.

let dinner burn
for it will all burn anyway
time and effort and lists and
or especially
these words.

what will be left
are these little voices
exclaiming in the now dark evening
sweet, blurry images to fill your memory
of moments full of life
your life their life our life together.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Christmas gut-check

I should've expected it, I guess. I was skipping toward Advent season, enjoying my Christmas Swing station (on my TuneIn Radio app), using up turkey leftovers (making my way through this list), and generally feeling merry and somewhat proud of myself for getting myself in order for gift-giving in advance.

Cue reality. Jeremy and I had a chat about Christmas gifts that we're giving, a written list that's was longer and more expensive than the one I had in my head. Then we agreed to not get each other gifts (my idea).

The next day (which just so happened to be December 1st) I was feeling sensitive about that decision, and how quickly he had acquiesced. I started feeling pretty down about it, really. Josiah had a horrible day with teething, and I couldn't find the Christmas decorations (found out later that they're in the garage). We weren't able to do the first night of Advent. A Christmas tree has to wait until payday. A trip to St. Louis for Christmas [window] shopping, etc., becomes a question on if we can afford the gas to get there. Suddenly, the Christmas music felt hollow, and the house felt cold. So did my heart.

Praying about it today, I think God is really testing me on my cliched thoughts about a homemade Christmas, about less is more, about the true meaning of the holiday season. I want so much for the boys to grow up anticipating Jesus' birth instead of a morning filled with presents. But how can they have that experience when that's still my heart? When I judge our Christmas on what I'm getting (like from Jeremy), or even what I'm able to give, then how can the boys do anything but that too? How can Jeremy enjoy the season when it feels like his wife is saying that what he has to offer isn't enough?

I'm not saying that gift-giving is wrong, obviously. There are a few gifts that I'm excited to give, even if I still have to let go of pride because they weren't expensive. But there are lots of times in a year when we can give presents to each other; Christmas has to be about the birth of Jesus, before anything else. At least for me.

Do you have the Bible app on your smartphone? I do, and every day there is a Verse of the Day; it's basically the equivalent of randomly opening your Bible to see if God will speak to you. Today He did. I admit to breaking down and crying when I read this; the Lord knew what my Spirit needed to hear.

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" (1 John 5 ESV).

No, I don't think it's necessarily in his will to ask for presents :) But I think it is in His will to ask for enough. To ask that He would truly change my heart to rejoice in His enough. To ask for his peace in being okay with giving what I have to the people I love, to trust that what I have to offer is enough for them. To ask that this Christmas would be full of joy and peace and excitement in celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, for my whole family. To ask that Elias would be enamored by the story of that sweet young savior's birth in a dark, dingy stable underneath a bright sky full of rejoicing angels.

Monday, November 25, 2013

as I look up

I am grateful for a Father who taps me on the shoulder
as I look up through tear-blurred eyes from a morning's ruins
to remind me that He is present with me in the chaos
and that His peace is mine
before I even to think to ask for it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gearing up

We are firmly in November now, folks. I can't believe it. It's cold enough in the house that if I sit too long I get shivery (thanks a lot, gorgeous high ceilings). Jeremy's and my birthday is next week. Soon, all this talk about beautiful leaves and pumpkin lattes is going to feel like a dream.

Christmas has been on my radar more this year than ever before. I think the reason is, is that I have been doing a lot of work this summer and fall in the kitchen, canning fruits and veggies (and sauces and jams and, and, and) for Christmas gifts. We haven't got the whole Christmas club thing down (will we ever grow up?), and that, among other financial woes, makes each Christmas feels very lean. It can take all the fun out of it. And, might I mention, the heart of it.

Sidenote: I really, really hope this planning and work making gifts comes through in the end. So many times I feel like it's not expensive enough (although in matters of time, it certainly was), that I end up wanting to supplement with something that we actually buy. That really won't be an option this year, so I'm just going to have to be okay with it. I put so much of myself into the process, so I'm hoping that the gift in their hand feels valuable.

Anyway, I've been seeking after God in this build up to Christmas and the Advent season, even now in orange and pumpkin filled November. What a holy, miraculous, breath-taking time it is, leading up to the miracle (and joy, and wonder) of Christ's birth. I hope I can share that with my family, and usher the worship of Jesus into our home this season, in the midst of (the sometimes distracting) candies and trees and presents.

Anyone else feeling the call to the Advent season yet? It's still early...there are many pumpkin pies to traverse before we get to cookies and fudge and peppermint hot chocolate and candy canes and...

p.s. I think I'm going to buy this book. The writer is fantastic, and I'm wondering if it might be really, really good.