Sunday, December 11, 2011


there is a place where the sacred is unsafe
the holy burns,
and unsinged we dare to ask if we are secure

we think we purify ourselves
by removing our shoes
never thinking we stand a world apart
between this world and the next
where our clay-frail bodies one day will shatter
like the stars

the dead sloughed off
shines nova-bright, now--

how unsafe it is to be burned down
only to be consumed again by holy fire

we shatter

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Girl Named Fragile, A Parable

this is my first bit of fiction. i'm afraid to share it, yet knowing it is imperfect, i feel emily's is where it belongs for a spell.

once there was a girl who lived in a Dark Wood, only she didn't know it was dark because she'd never seen the light. She came of age and chose to travel--she wanted to know what went beyond the trees. she came upon a forked path, and having never left her little yard, was forced to choose one way. she chose blindly, as one must always do in the Dark. little did she know that one path led further into the wood and the deep dark, and the one she chose led towards Beyond. as she walked and walked, little golden beams sometimes showed through the canopy of branches, and she felt a prickling sensation when she stepped into the little puddles of brightness. she was being introduced to Light, and she felt she loved him. by the time the last tree was behind her, and she walked openly in the well-lit Beyond, Fragile felt she'd known Light all along. in fact, she thought she'd seen glimpses of him even in her Dark Wood; had he not been in the fire where she cooked her meal and warmed herself? had he not been in the stars where she imagined her friends? yes, he'd been quiet and unnamed, but he'd been there. yes, she loved this golden Sun.
But one day, it felt too immense, too surreal--perhaps she was dreaming and it was still Dark. thus, she was introduced to Fear, and he wooed her for some time. Fear introduced her to his friend Anger, and he was so seductive, so beguiling. he made her feel safe and made her forget Fear's cold hands. she also forgot the warmth of the Light she'd loved once. Fragile and Anger journeyed for years together. he taught her the meaning of her name and how to abuse it. little by little, cracks were appearing all over, though Fragile wasn't aware of her changed appearance. what she did know was that she was getting weary, often having no strength for more than a day or two at a time on her journey. Anger became impatient with her, and so she became impatient with herself. the fissures were getting bigger, and now that Fragile saw them, she wondered what was wrong with her-why was she breaking? Anger didn't notice the cracks; in fact, he didn't notice Fragile at all anymore. Depression met them then, and she took Fragile's hands in hers, hugged her tight and whispered lies. "you were happier in the Dark, weren't you? the Light is making you ugly because if you were in the Dark you wouldn't even be able to see them. you deserve the pain you feel and inflict on others-wasn't it you who kept Anger all these years?" Depression's sister Loneliness visited often, and Anger kept his distance but followed still.
Fragile was more tired than ever, and the cracks began to hurt. she wished for Peace. she didn't know who he was, only that she'd dreamt of him long ago when dancing in the sunbeams in the forest. she wondered if Peace could ever find her. she went to sleep that night flanked by Anger, Depression, and Loneliness. She wished she'd never wake up; maybe that way she'd find Peace. In her sleep she dreamed a child named Hope cried. When Fragile asked why she was crying, she merely cried some more. waking up and confused by the dream, it took a moment for Fragile to realize someone was watching her. it was the child Hope. "you! i dreamed you were crying! why would such a beautiful child cry?" the child answered quietly, "i was waiting for you." Hope then introduced Fragile to her companion who came forward, Peace. Fragile looked around for Anger, Depression, and Loneliness, but to her surprise they were gone.
Fragile walked with Hope and Peace and asked what more they could possibly see in the Beyond. they arrived then at a castle ruins, and she was told it was the most precious thing in all the land. "but it's just an old broken castle," Fragile muttered, disappointed. "not, 'just.' it is also the house of the sun, and you are welcome." indeed, the castle was aglow, and from it shined the Light she'd once known so intimately. a tear trickled down her cheek as she whispered, "im sorry i forgot you on the way." upon entering the hall, the castle righted itself and transformed into its glory, and she was asked to bathe in the fountain of life. she did so, half-thinking her cracks would disappear, but when she emerged she was no different. Light took her hand and led her to his great mirror. "what do you see?" he asked. in it, she saw her travels with Fear, Anger, Depression, and Loneliness, and her short time with Peace and Hope, and she said, "i see Fragile." "no, my child, that is not who i see. look again. i see Treasure." she asked Light "why did i have to break, then?" "look again." this time when Fragile looked in the mirror she saw what Peace had seen and called Beauty and what Hope saw and called Worth waiting for. looking into the Sun's mirror, all she could see was the Light shining. she realized if she'd never been broken, she'd never have seen the Light inside her.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On limping and rubies

a date, of sorts. a cafe where we learned of food proclivities and evolving tastes. a car with no carseats and for a limited time, time to do anything. so, the mall for people-viewing and window-shopping. the irony? we both limped. her, because of surgery and a too-long year of not healing properly, and me because of my fall last week. yet the limping seemed physical only: we've limped long and hard on a road to recovery, but a banal trip to the mall was the most normal we've felt in a long time--truly a mother and a daughter grown and time just to enjoy each other's company.
as we meandered haphazardly (i inherited her aptitude for getting lost!), at some point, she lost her necklace. a faux ruby denoting not her birth month but rather an anniversary gift, its importance not in dollar worth but in sentimental value. we retraced some steps, but it was gone. i felt crushed for her, and yet she glanced upwards and said "thank you" in prayer, and shared. we could spend all our time retracing and bemoaning, or we could enjoy our present time and anticipation of tomorrows. she chose joy in losing a prized possession, able to see part of the bigger story.

joining in witness to the Good Father and giver of Good gifts

326. my torta de pollo and
327. authenticity not just in mexican food but in conversation and relationship
328. for the long journey, to treasure the stops along the way, the growth
329. for a saturday afternoon spent with my mom
330. for getting to be a daughter
331. for her losing her necklace, a teaching opportunity
332. and for the enjoying the gift of the present

and unrelated to this weekend, i also want to share an amazing working of the father in my family:
333. choosing to see, like she did, the opportunity to see with eternal eyes: our car got repossessed
334. but just a few days later, a friend of ours GAVE us her suburban.
335. we went from a car that didn't fit our whole family to a car without a car note that has a seat to spare
336. for my beautiful husband, and the chances to pray for him, and the heart i see in him and Him
337. did i mention we can now go to corporate church together again? :)
338. for a visit from a friend a few weeks ago. she was such an encouragement
339. and always, the GRACE that blows me away, that has brought me thus far

Friday, November 4, 2011

An ode to five months

when i want to write and feel wordless, i should remember to always fall back on what i love and know best: those little boys of mine. bear with my mama-heart? :)

my baby is five months, and i think i literally ache at each day older, just wanting him to stay for a while. with all those previous, i was ready to stop bed-sharing, ready for a little "independence," some space, if you will.
(there is no real indictment from me; i know who i used to be. i shiver in remembering. how can there be grace? i shiver in the undoing)

i am not ready for intro-to-solids.
not ready for him to be in his own room, far away in our tiny house.
not ready for him to crawl and get bigger.
i wasn't ready for him to be out-of-womb because of how special that sense of all mine was. i still feel he's just mine in a way, and i could breathe in his soft plumpness for always. he has found his feet (truly, no thing in the world is as cute as a fat baby holding his feet to his own delight, i say!) and found his voice (pterodactyl? squeaky-toy?), and i can already see him running away and telling me no, and i pray he stays little a little longer.
each of my sons has a treasure i love, and i chuckle to think of what i love most about baby owen: he is small and young for a fleeting season. already it is cold when i was fatly pregnant in spring. so as he rolls over onto belly and gets stuck in the bumbo and drinks deeply from mama's breasts, i choose to honor this time with gratitude that he mine to borrow at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How roses encore

i don't know if it's because of the breed (is that the right word?)or because of zone 7/8, but my long-neglected rosebush is blooming again, the brilliant fuchsia oxymoron to the first of november. i'm sure the last petals will fall with the first frost, yet i, too, thought august had drained the final blossoms of my tired bush.
i guess it still burns.


when we met, he told me he'd been wandering the desert for a while, doing anything to shake the lushness of the gospel, choosing to sunburn under atheism, agnosticism, pragmatism, humanism, and logic's prickly harshness. but even then, when vultures watched with hawking cries, he couldn't run away from the Whisperer, the gospel written deeply in his heart even as he ran from familiar doorposts.
i guess it still burned.


do you know how mysteries unravel and solve themselves about 20 pages til the end and you finally see the pattern, begin to know whodunnit? this, an analogy that breaks down in the face of true mystery, the One with mysterious ways, whose thoughts are not our thoughts. Shea's memory verse (chosen oh-so-"randomly" for him; i thought it would be a good lesson for him when really it was a lesson for us): and we know he has worked all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (romans 8:28).

i watched his faith unravel for a season. held my fear so closely i couldn't even share it here. i was too afraid that giving voice would give fervent reality (as if i could create with my voice!!!). then, a warming, a spark, and i was afraid to breathe, afraid to blow it out (as if i could puff out the breath that breathed us out!!!). and then life shattered a bit, and all those worries seemed realized: the bitterness, the fist clenched towards God, the too-easy fall into frustration and despair. i was blessed with eyes to see, but no way to help his vision.

today his knuckles are loosened. his eyes have adjusted (from the mirror, darkly), and he senses the Bigger-than-he-is quotient. i breathe out murmured praise and choose to believe out loud this time, and hold fast. my lover has been woo'd again to the Beloved, and while there will certainly be ravines in the mud, i'm so happy to pray with my husband again, to hear his heart.


it doesn't seem so odd anymore, the blazing pink in the chilly air.
He burns.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


it's funny, isn't it, how depression changes your views? depression doesn't actually change your reality, just how you perceive it.
i can see four boys and hear only chaos and messy home and mid-day baths because they played for hours in the dirt, when there was a time i could see wild love and forgive the mess (sometimes) and be thrilled they played so well together, and baths are wonderlands, too.
i can say i have no words and mean it, but really, it's a way of saying i forgot how to speak somehow, and this grounded in lack of self-worth and self-love. forgetting, too, to listen and reach for love around me.
my real-life looks a lot like a jackson pollock painting and then i stare at white blank pages here (oh how i love mumford and sons) and the glare seems to mute me. walking into the sun after being in the dark.... except i think i'm still in the tunnel squinting at the light ahead, willing it to come closer.
i didn't even consider depression for so long because i was doing so well and my medicine was helping so much, and i still don't know if this is the issue (as it were), only that i feel empty and want to be here and sharing life and just don't have enough leftover to give.

i'm trying.

Monday, September 26, 2011


i can't even begin to express here the storm of uncertainty in my heart. but i need to get it out somehow.
how do you share words that hurt, even when your aim is to protect? how do you write real when you can't forget last night's dreams (the bad kind)? how do you mama-give when you curl fetal?
i know i can't make sense to you. (ambiguous you) i wish you knew i loved you and hurt for you, but i hurt for me, too.
how can there be seasons of certainty and others of mere fragility? days when i'm strong for me and others where i ache for you?
silence lingers these days, and i know neither of us knows what to say. i'm sorry. i'm praying for us. even if you don't know it.

311. breathing out this prayer for all of us involved: when you can't trace His hand, trust His heart.
312. for broken hearts so he can heal
313. for bravery where he allows
314. for the wind that whispers his name and the rocks that cry out, and the faith it takes to believe
315. for grace, daily
316. for the little things that help deflect these cloudy thoughts:
317. such as this gorgeous fall-like weather
318. and owen now 4 months already
319. and homeschooling freedoms to play-learn
320. and little boy haircuts
321. and husband's strongest arms to rock wee babe and tender-wrap me
323. for chocolate chip cookies
324. and coffee shared with friends
325. "for God so loved the world"

linking with the gratitude community as a discipline to share humble thanks even in a hard season right now. thank you for sharing without sharing some of my heart's cries today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When you say nothing at all-Repost

toes push, heels rock, we're swinging
and my legs are metronome to the
heartbeat of a quiet afternoon.
neither of us are talking,
just sitting:

push, rock

the clanking of chain against chain
and screw inside of wood
protesting against our weight,
and we're simply sitting
amid the bird-song and each other:

push, rock

and i think, "we're here on a swing
and there is space between us
and he's just two
and i wonder if he knows
how much i love him?"
so i reach over,
caress his fat-creased thighs
and i whisper,
i love you:

push, rock

we're just sitting
and neither of us is talking
and there's space between us
and still looking forward
he reaches over the space and touches my hand:

push, rock

reposting this for enily's imperfect prose

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The richness of belonging

he scared my 3rd grade self, and he pointed right at me, black fingers waving me over. he said nothing, just started walking, and my heart began thumping out of my ears. i racked brain to see what i'd done; we were standing outside the cafeteria waiting on ms. heitz to take us back to our classroom. "what did i do?" i repeated several times on the verge of tears when i realized we were headed to The Principal's Office, his domain. he must have seen the near-panic in my eyes, and finally knelt down, "you didn't do anything. you were the quietest one in line, and i needed a helper i could trust."
i still don't remember what the task was, but can remember the fear of his huge authority calling me out of line like it was yesterday.

where does this kind of fear come from?

why am i still afraid?
of the police (ok, ok, my tags are expired)
of the cool moms on the playground with hair coiffed and sons in plaid

of God?

i received a summons 3 months ago for an appearance in court, a suit for a debt i knew nothing about.
i felt all the same fear standing so exposed beneath the judge's gaze. husband said i did well, but heart thudded all the same.

i always see myself as rule's exceptions: that God loves others but not me, my sins are the ones unpardonable, that i'm the one grace won't quite cover.

i pray one day i feel the weight of grace from the judge who loves, who has not only summoned, but redeemed. i pray i live today, not in fear, but in the richness of belonging.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How patience is sexy

he told me once how he used to hunker down, ashamed by height and breadth--til the day he held his firstborn and knew his shoulders were meant for this all along.

today he held connor, the one i'd pushed away several times because of the boy whirl-wind and impish antics. the one who trampled nerves already frayed and mamamamamama'd the ears overstimulated.

connor says, "i love you," and i say, "i love you, too, baby," but does he hear without hands?

and daddy just picks him up, full of patience. patience despite all the traits, antics, touch, noise that undoes me.
i fall in love with my green-eyed man holding my blue-eyed boy. this man is patient with me, too, filling in the gaps where i am short, hunkered down in selfish "i can't do this anymore!"

so that when house is quiet (ok, it's not all that quiet, connor's wheezy breathing snoring through walls and pele's collar clanking with itching dream twitches and the muted honking din of city streets)
we collide in grace, parents holding our babies' hearts, lovers holding each others' hands.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The beauty that surrounds

there is a beauty that surrounds me,
(even when i overlook it.)
there are some days i forget to walk outside,
so fail to see how green comes in ten shades, just on ivy road.
or, how smart and wily the backyard birds are,
arrogantly eating the dog's food,
fluttering away with a taunting second to spare.

we return to play, now that heat is not so oppressive.
maybe now that we have more work to do?
the boys are more outside than in,
though the flies are more inside than out;
we dizzy in the middle, hap'ly.

my house has probably never been messier,
but why clean up the forts
and sweep away the dragon's lairs?

owen grows fat on mama's milk;
i blossom in his honey smiles,
us: making liars of canaan's promise.

this home i make in beds unmade
and arms entwined (yes, love is made, too)
surrounds me in beauty
i often overlook, but can't wait to see

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to learn at home

it's been one full week, this new addition to our life, us just trying to find a rhythm. shea and i had our first week of kindergarten, him not sent off with backpack in tow and bright yellow schoolbuses...just another pop-tart on the couch while i nursed owen and the tv was left on a little too long. i always thought i wanted to homeschool, but i was filled with fear and worry that i'd do it badly. i kept saying to myself, "if i'd just get started...."

mama, teach me!
his words, unprompted.
me: fears beginning to quell, heart humbled.
Yes, LORD, teach me, too!

mama, what will we learn about today?

shea is so eager to work every day (he even wanted to work on saturday; i put my foot down on sunday to prepare for the new week!). this is where i must fall to my knees to remember that teaching everything is teaching nothing if not about the Lord. we see skies, we breathe air, we wear our provisions in tummies full and bodies warm, and these are the things i must learn anew, teach fresh: to see rightly the world (fallen) through the lens of Creator-Savior.

teach me, Abba!

too long since i've voiced my gratitude. resuming with the gratitude community:

301. for living in a country that allows me to teach my children at home
302. for the comrade-in-arms i have with brownie, also homeschooling this year
303. for husband willing to support this new adventure
304. for four children, truly a blessing from God
305. for the occasional naps that owen has taken not in my lap so i could get things done
306. for all the naps that owen takes on my lap because this time is so fleeting and i could hold him forever
307. for shea's willing and eagerness to learn with mama
308. that we had a successful first week (and can judge success on our own standards)
309. for learning to let go the things i have less control of (ongoing!)
310. our memory verse: and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your god? micah 6:8

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The miracle of "just"

i knew she had a lump, and neither of us was worried.
after all, mama had cystic breasts, and we figured that would be our normal someday, too.
she scheduled her long-delayed well-woman, expecting to be... well.
and then there was a scare.
the gravity in a doctor's voice and the change in his shoulder stance speaks in undertones heard louder than thunder.
cancer, they think.
this is where i try to remember to breathe. i cry instead, as does she, we crying fear together but across a too-long-distance phone call.
testing done, more images taken, the lump becomes carcinoma in-situ and needs biopsies. these, words we grew up with, surrounded by cancer because our mom worked at a prominent childhood cancer hospital, and now they are language applied not overheard.
she saw the pathologist, and a miracle broke: just a ruptured cyst, they said.
this is where i tried to remember to breathe. i cried instead. we still cling in gratitude for health and prayers heard.

this is obviously the shortened version of a very real scare that my identical sister went through in august (can it just have been 4 weeks ago?). i share it here both to chronicle but also to invite you, always, to share in praise for His hand on her, on us, as we bowed low under fear of breast cancer and even scarier potentials. He is good no matter how He answered us, and i'm eternally grateful that in this instance my sister is cancer-free.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hogging the details

i'm the only one who's given him a bath. i cherish the touch of his butter skin against my mama-worked hands; my palms linger in fat-roll creases like his wrists are smiling, and i grin right back. i test that water tepid and smell that soap lavender, and i just know these are my moments to drink right full.
i wrap him in a big, fluffy towel the way eternity would, because our now is all i have, and i want to remember the tiny holding when he's too big to wash and wear. i tender-wipe off lingering droplets, and tender-coo him into snapping pajamas all warm.
he lies between us at night, but really, he's still all mine-mine to let down milk and mine to curve a "c" around in groggy half-awakes. the world is ours at 3 a.m., though neither of us sees beyond the other. he drifts back into milky sleep, my starry child, and i claim the details exclusively: don't grow up yet.

Monday, August 29, 2011


how many days since i've even typed in that address, the one that declares i'm a fragile urn.
i've felt barren of words and empty at heart-soul in this place--which is not to say i've been unhappy or shut up, just that i was living life there instead of here and the longer i played away the larger the white empty space here filled up, began to feel impenetrable.

the years i turned with birthday just passed, an official forray into third decade, and i didn't feel older at first despite the silver threads that glitter my crown. but somehow, in just 2 weeks, i feel old and shy. i got to spend my birthday with my two womb-mates, beloved sisters, and that alone was magic.

owen's days can be counted in months now, not weeks, and i know i will cry when it's years instead of months, for he is truly last, husband's appointment completed, and this one my baby, so big-small and squishy-round, and mama-loved.

we are planning a shower for another friend expecting first, so she came over to discuss details, but with our babes born days apart, her first, mine fourth, we talked of sizes and sleep schedules and motherhood and callings. she aches to write and i felt a pang of jealousy. i told her i'd never known a calling like motherhood (which is not to say i always knew i wanted to be a mom!), and i wondered if she were a bit jealous of that as well. all that talk of calling and passion stirred me. i drove and saw green leafy summer again. i played song in the car and cried at lyrics. i read a blog post that kindles art out of me, and i begin to hope that words might be here again. it's not so much that i have to write or else--that is how she feels--but i realize i must create and be inside of beauty. i grew four boys beyond compare. i knit and bake for fun because i love to give to others something my hands formed. i cry at art and song and read words from others and sometimes spill out here, too.
and if i'm presumptuous enough to ask if you've missed me, know that i've missed you, too, desperately.
with another year older and baby growing big, and boo-boos to kiss and homeschool to start, i can't promise that i'll be incredibly regular, but i want to write again. patience as i find my groove again?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sabbath calling

i just wanted today to look differently than yesterday, i said as we argued through those leaps and bounds from the original 'complaint.' i wanted lunch to be with four hands, owen held and diapers changed and to feel teamwork once again. tears trickle out their frustration, and i secretly beg him to understand. can a saturday feel like a break for a mama at home all week? she whose job sleeps in her arms at night, suckling through the waning darkness, whose little bosses require multi-tasking and imagination all at the same time? and i know he knows, for he works Out There and comes home to wife all rumpled, cross-legged on couch in pj's, and he swoops in to hold babies and be jungle gym and freely offers bottle and ordered pizza. but our saturdays have rolled in like mondays, just a day older for baby and another one with split shifts and 4 boys all-at-once.

we hug tightly, kiss deeply, our fears and frustrations all mixing with oxygen and apologies, and somehow we know to just keep trying, know that things will even out, and we're going to be okay.

later, scrubbing dishes, white bubbles serving tenure to swish, swish, rinse, i hear His voice: will tomorrow look differently than today?
all my sundays have looked like mondays and wednesdays, and how would anyone ever know there was a sabbath if only watching me? i have not worshipped in a house, have not put down my work to rest, have hardly let prayers leave my lips nor raised hands in silent desperation. oh, i'm saved, a wrecked soul redeemed, but how could sabbath be different for this child?

i still didn't go to church today. there are a million excuses, always. and yes, i know my work of love and home-tending do much to honor Him, yet, i have been alone for a long time. i am reminded of the need for sisters and brothers with fellowship-skin, touch that heals and gives, space to worship out loud and to hear truth. this is a hard season of all kinds of limbos, the will-he-need-to-nurse, the war of anxious child in nursery, the task of getting out-of-doors in one piece let alone with matching socks.....

dishes are done. day is almost done. owen is bouncing. shea and connor are not-sleeping. avery is dreaming by now. and i... i am praying in repentence for forsaking the body so long and grateful that there will be Sabbath.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Inhale their belonging

i sniff deeply behind his tiny ears and i inhale the scent of eight weeks:
johnson and johnson and milk that has dribbled and hair matted from deep baby sleep

my older boys smell of earth and sweat and summer-scraped knees
or, fresh from bath, like lavender whispers.

and his smell is my deep secret--my heaven on earth, for his is marked by
laundry detergent, deodorant, and the breath of kisses

i breathe these men in deeply, inhale their belonging

i hope i smell more than just unshowered and like last night's dinner;
i want tiny ones to sense in me a love that gazes long and prays hard
and i want my beloved to know my scent on the wind, home(where the heart is).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When you say nothing at all

toes push, heels rock, we're swinging
and my legs are metronome to the
heartbeat of a quiet afternoon.
neither of us are talking,
just sitting:

push, rock

the clanking of chain against chain
and screw inside of wood
protesting against our weight,
and we're simply sitting
amid the bird-song and each other:

push, rock

and i think, "we're here on a swing
and there is space between us
and he's just two
and i wonder if he knows
how much i love him?"
so i reach over,
caress his fat-creased thighs
and i whisper,
i love you:

push, rock

we're just sitting
and neither of us is talking
and there's space between us
and still looking forward
he reaches over the space and touches my hand:

push, rock

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How brothers love

when we were in the new to each other stage, we talked of siblings (So we talked about moms and dads /About family pasts /Just getting to know where we came from~lyrics from Blue October's 18th Floor Balcony) and compared our threes: me, one of a set of triplet girls, he, the oldest of three sons. his world was foreign to me, brothers who tussled and punched out their love and how he took care of them just because they were his brothers. how he cares for them still, though values diverged long ago, beckoning 'tough love.'

and now we have four... all those "god bless her souls" in the produce aisle, the "4? oh my words" in the drive-through, and even his own opinion that he'd have been one revered roman senator back then.

when we had shea and our whole hearts swelled even as our world turned over, we couldn't see past our love for him, couldn't have known how that love swells with each growing belly. when connor came, it was "how will shea react?" when avery arrived, how would three interact?

with love, that's how.

shea's almost five and he loves his brothers big. he corrects, he bosses, and he's even been known to hit. but, oh, he tender-kisses owen, invites avery to play, and teaches connor how to do things. and connor loves in his own physical way--the smothering hugs and the hard intensity to be involved. and avery loves uninhibited by anything because he's had two to teach him what that is.

i walk by their room at night, see two boys tucked in to each other like dreams.

i am alone nursing owen on couch (my kingdom), and i hear giggles and tickles.

owen cries out, and three heads rush to shush, offer (not always) helpful advice (he's hungry, mama. he wants up, mama).

it's alchemy, this world of my sons. it's the turning of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails into the men who will always be there for one another.

(see? they can even share sometimes!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where i'm from

I am from sprinklers and Flinstone vitamins and made believe stories, the things that grow a young girl up.

I am from the long yellow house with a wood and small pond

(I dipped my toes in once, rafting,

but never again because the fish liked to nibble)

I am from the garden’s canned tomatoes and peas shucked finger-purple.

I am from the mimosa in her fancy feathers

and the crepe myrtle with her july-bright pinks and purples,

these summer ladies amused at our paper-fan attempts to cool ourselves.

I am from “doodle sauce” and crooked smiles, from rosie and cleo and grandfathers I hardly remember.

I am from the crawfords and russells and I know my father’s name

but not his branch of history.

I am from bunkbeds and sleepovers and stage whispers through walls,

from plump, messy women who hold grudges and love too hard.

I am from mind your manners and don’t count your chickens before they hatch, from the Ten Commandments and faith rugged as old crosses

and red letter editions in a pew held down by sister mary, and I wonder

if she was afraid to witness about jesus like I was?

I am from the South, from biscuits and grits

and fried chicken and greens, though not like how

my mama cooked them for the first time at age 32

and added a whole cup of sugar because when she called his momma for the recipe, she wasn’t too specific.

I am from history in typeface, newspapers

yellowing and fragile on the shelf in her closet,

world events and family obituaries too rich to throw out,

stored along with photo albums of her first marriage and us as babies.

I am from books and history and photos that never tell the full story.


i saw this at suzannah's (and hers is SO beautiful!) and decided to try my own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


the sound of glass shattering has my boys' feet scrambling even as the tears and sorrys drip fast. this is because i'm afraid of the broken things. fragility has long been associated with value, and i've known breaking:
a pottery jar i saved money to buy. the emu egg she gave me. that sweet picture of him when we met.
these have all met a shattered fate, and i cried at each shard thrown away, rebelled against the permanence of broken.
those little eyes knew my displeasure, and i wonder if their hearts didn't break, too, just a bit. should they be careful in the house, our home filled with plenty of fragile things? my worldly self says, "of course!" but i wonder what He would think of that, He who is yet an untamed Lion, and this not the season for lying with lambs.
i've learned that His word says he does not willingly afflict his children and that his compassion is renewed every morning. i think this is precisely because he knows how hard the refining is; He who was broken and rejected breaks us so that He may spill forth.
oh, we are fragile and precious both, for are we not earthen vessels filled with treasure?

my sister is in a time of breaking, and i've prayed hard for her this week. some of what is at stake affects me, too, and i am a little afraid it's my "turn" to face this kind of refining. i know His hand is on both of us. i also know that unlike me with my little trinkets, when i break, he does not get angry and lash... he restores and heals the broken-hearted.

a perfect place to meet imperfect people all somewhere on the journey in being broken--linking with emily and others

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


today is a day-
the last day-
i have four,
all stepped down
one from the other
by a single year.
this is the day so little
but the year in which
they were loved alive.
shea is oldest, still 4
his daddy-broad shoulders
carrying the weight of the world
of little brothers
and wearing his mama-freckles
brightly asking of the world
all whys.
connor is middlest, still 3
with blonde ragamuffin
(i love that grace the best)
and eyes blue as a promise
that impish will and
push back against the grain
the strain of nots.
and avery is today's child, 2
finally out of ones,
and he is all brawn and laughs
and head full of cherub curls
intensity's child, he.
and lastbutnotleast owen is still just one
month (ok, and a half)
and he is quieting extension
of mama, still breast-close in all wonder.
thank you, Father,
for sons a heritage and ours a full house.

happy birthday, beautiful avery!

linking for the first time in ages with emily and others

Monday, June 27, 2011

In which I am filled unexpectedly

owen is 5 weeks. i say this to remind myself this is still a time of crazy. but i've been reminded by nancy and my friend christina that things happen in cycles (oh, Ecclesiastes!), and now i have hope that my words will return, the desire to write again will come, and that while i'm not sharing words here and processing, i am doing a good work at home with my four boys. my house is still a mess--i think i'm giving up in that department!--and meals are whatever can be served hodge-podge because i rarely have two arms at my disposal, but i have three happy older boys and a seemingly pretty content new guy. things are good.
i broke out my mei tai this morning for the first time because i just needed to get SOMETHING done, and owen went right to sleep, happy in that place next to mama's heart. i'd forgotten how glorious it was to have two arms again, and so i stole some moments to read a few blogs i haven't visited in ages. i've been filled again. listening to worship music i am reminded how much i love the Lord. reading words of hope and humor and grace i am reminded how much the Lord loves me. i have not been to church of the brick and mortar sort in months, but today i was filled. He is good.

friends, if you still read, know that i will be back though i don't know when. life is still a bit hectic and i haven't completely gotten it all figured out, but i know i still need this space.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gradual grace

i haven't been to my ladies' bible study group in ages. i miss the connection, the Word, and the fellowship of my sisters. i aimed to go this evening, if for no other selfish reason than to see walls other than my own living room, and so today for the first time in many moons, i picked up both Bible and study guide on Acts. i didn't end up going, but i think He knew what He was doing by kick-starting my cabin fever and nudging me in the direction of this group of women, just so i would pick up his word. He surprises me when it's evident He wants to meet me. what love is this, when i'd just as soon ignore him for seasons at a time?! and there, the words that jumped off the page: sovereign grace is gradual grace and gentle grace....divine grace does not trample...but rather it enables.
john stott is discussing the mercy of saul's damascus road conversion, and yet i see these words as testament in my own journey. from the day freshman year of college i tentatively asked my first bible study leader, "i know i should know the answer, but what IS grace?" to becoming a mom 10 years later, i've seen the gradual work of grace on Self, the kind that leaves me intact but invites His holy hand into my life. gradually and gently indeed.
i wear a sterling band as an outward sign of the inner work of wife-dom: when words are sharp and loosely held, grace reigns. when exhaustion embitters and grumbles, grace swells. when love is stretched 7 years long, sighing for the ease of earlier years, mercy is new every morning.
my belly is stretched and marked and my hair grey showing all my mother-work, and grace renews. there is no wrinkle cream to erase the toll of labor, but there is a wisening that rewards: i no longer have to try to be perfect. i can accept that i mess up (all the time!) and pray for sovereignty to win, and He will.
thanking Him today for His gentle prodding, for His love that is without fail, for His compassion for his children, and for good gifts he willingly bestows. Amazing Grace!

Monday, May 30, 2011


my hair is unwashed, my teeth unbrushed, my toilet unscrubbed, and my milk-drenched shirts unlaundered. in all this physical world, i've never been so tangibly happy.
to have and to hold is marriage-speak, but i vow into this little one's existence as well. owen is here, and we are all in love.
we are in the foggy land of newborn, but it is a sweet, sweet time, and while i won't say it's a breeze, it's also not quite as hard as i expected it to be. i'm unmedicated (having run out) and yet happy to be so: all this love isn't chemical manufacturing, just oxytocin and mama-love dripping rich. he is a gem, and i can't let go of him right now. i think this is the first babe we've had where daddy has had to ask to hold him! this volumes for a mama who gets over-stimulated and out-touched very easily, and i'm so grateful to the Lord for this time of provision.
rickey and i held hands over owen's sleep last night, and i felt our arms had never been long enough til just that moment--the craving to stay connected despite all this external daze and busy. just the small touch, even those trickling hormonal tears, ground me in his home-arms, and though love looks different per season, it's as rich and full as these breasts that nourish the baby (answered prayer again--nursing has gone successfully from the start, and i can't believe we're doing so well!).

he is one week; it stretches long at 4 a.m. and so incredibly short by day! he was born on his due date, the longest i've ever gone and all that fullness is replaced with him-in-arms. did i mention i can't stop holding him? i might write his birth story here, but for now suffice to say welcome owen graham who was 10 lbs 10 oz and 22" long and practically delivered himself! we are tired, and we stretch into this family of now-six, and the Lord is gracious and Good. Rejoice with us!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Iron men

super heroes
equipped with webs
and guns,
(yes, even guns)
and strength hard to believe
yes, these men are in our house
and those little boys' brains
and it makes me smile
that he prefers the ones that
are real,
still human,
just more, somehow
not the ones that are
all hero
or even all villain
(is it natural for all
boys to love a good villan?)
and i think how
his daddy heart is
iron will
and sharpens iron willfulness
times three
and well, four, when i let him sharpen me.
we watch these cartoons
and even i catch my own interest
by surprise
and wonder
at the power of hero worship
and how, some crazy how,
oldest started praying more
out loud
and he believes it
and i humble on the whispers,
cry when he prays for this tired mama
that [baby's name] comes soon
and i think
today i will be iron-strong for them, too

unbelievably i'm still baking this fourth little boy with an iron will to stay inside. i'm in all new territory as i've never gone a day past 38 weeks, and yet here i am past 40 and miserable besides. if i may draw on you to pray: if we make it to my monday OB appointment, i will be induced, and i'm terrified of a repeat c-section. i'm also afraid of a NICU stay for the baby; we will be paying for this birth as we are uninsured, and really, we just need a nice, normal birth if at all possible. could you lift these with us and take our fears to the Father? i'm ready to have him out on the outside, and i'm in denial at how hard it's going to be, that initial stage of newborn!
i am eager, though, to meet him, to be in our next phase, and i can't wait to share him with you. thanks for hanging in there with me, especially as i've been so reticent in this space and yours. i treasure all my friends here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When waiting is thankful

waiting is hard. waiting is wanting wrapped up in the veil of self; my college pastor would ask, "are you living for the dot, or for the line?" and waiting is merely one dot in eternal perspective.

three days. i've been in labor for three days. it feels eternal, but how dare i compare my three days to his where mine kicks and life squeezes anticipatory coming, the hint, and his was death's silence behind a stony wall before hope emerged again?

these contractions stall, but the hope of expectation, of bringing forth this new life does not. my faith fumbles like a stalled labor (now that i know what that is like): i lean hard and breathe deeply during the tightening, and i stumble around and grumble at swollen aching when there is relief. there is grace in waiting, when i can see it.

i came home from walking to her house last night (the mantra: walk, walk, walk: get that baby out!) to find them all piled wide in our bed. little boys anxious and over-tired, so he tucked them in with him. blonde all sprawled and arms high as he gave in full to sleep's overtaking, and oldest snuggled deeply on his side, thumb having fallen from his lips, and daddy stretched as long as king size and his arms reaching over both those little heads. in that moment standing in doorway i was glad we were waiting. i'd have missed all that boy sleep otherwise.

all the joys we get in the waiting for littlest to arrive, counting them as blessings with ann and others in the grace community:

291. a day of celebrating mothers
292. and sharpie-drawn scribbles to say i love you
293. and the tightening: 3, then 5, then 7, then 3 minutes apart. it's all progress, remind me!
294. all the phone calls to ask if he's here yet, the love wrapping me
295. his sympathy and sweet glances, the back rubs, the ordering food for me because at this point i simply refuse to cook anymore
296. the birth of another friend's little boy--she got to hold her first on mother's day
297. because all those little boys were asleep last night and my mind wouldn't shut, i got to watch an hour of uninterrupted food network, the novelty of it!
298. knowing that each day he spends inside he gets stronger
299. my three little outside loves playing games together and kissing big belly and asking when he's going to come
300. for husband love and grace as i grouch, cry, get impatient, and in all other ways experience the end of this pregnancy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The scribbling

it's all in the scribbles, isn't it, this mother-love?

it's waking up, wishing to have newest here, him having planned nothing because we have hinged all hope on meeting tiny one; he's so afraid i'm disappointed, and i am, but only because wee one isn't here. he helped the boys scribble mother's day notes, and i couldn't be happier, couldn't be more excited about the little hands i've helped co-create, those little hands wrapped around sharpie markers, the scribbles of their little lives telling my story of grace to all who have eyes to see.

we scribble in this day-to-day. we scratch our puny efforts, all this mothering with eyes cried dry and arms stretched world-wide-love around these little ones. it's not the majestic hands of adam and God in michelangelo's painting; it's the chubby, dimpled hands of fat crayons making sense of a world perceived in young faith. yes, the lines go 'round and 'round most times, and maybe it's all the same color instead of utilizing vast palette. we can get bored with the monochromatic nonsense, or we can find grace in the intricate shapes that emerge.

and they always do, those shapes... i see the shape of lover's body imprinted into mine, even swollen as i am. i see the shape of my mother's hands who began me years ago. i see the shape of other women in this one-village, the knit-together of souls and geese, the lifting of prayers and laying on of christ-hands. motherhood is nothing but shapes and scribbles, our breathing out the honesty of failure and fruitless effort that imbibed with his grace turns to miracle of Testimony.

i am so thankful to be scribbling these 3-point-nine (!!) baby boys. i pray internal one emerges soon, and pray for my three little outside loves to know the weight of grace.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grace in the grey

i am angry. i don't like angry words in this space, and still my heart struggles to see all His goodness, not because i don't see it, but because i'd rather dwell in flesh-folds of hurt and bitterness. i crunch on ice, and the metal taste of sin doesn't melt away.
nine months is a session of waiting, this i know, take some comfort, even. enjoy the internal flutters and the growing intimacy with this tiny babe in womb and the transformation to kicks that thump against my lover's side at night, a different intimacy to be sure.
i am not mad at the waiting or the discomfort or the fatigue i can't shake.
i'm angry because i can't stop insisting i'm right, and since when do my rights-as-liberties owe themselves to not-wrongs?
birth is natural. it HAS to be--weren't we created for life eternal? then why such a struggle to make normal what is normal? i've been labeled high-risk, the baby might just be large, and i was even asked if i could handle the work of labor because i'm overweight, and all i wanted to do yesterday post-appointment was cry. i carry this gestational diabetes teh fourth time, and this time i've done it well: limited weight gain and perfect post-meal glucose readings. but it's not enough for medical professionals. yes, this baby is large; so, too, my others and well-handled, birthed just fine. and yes, i'm overweight but my body can't stop the war of birth even if i wanted to. i know that primal urge and no "professional" can stop what has to happen.
discouragement is a hard garment to wear. i'm constricted, and it seems a veil covers my eyes, forcing me to see shadows instead of the play of light against dark.
His hand reaches out:
she rang our doorbell last week when i was so tired i couldn't think past the lying on bed, and he comes back to say she'd brought chicken noodle soup and strawberry pie. she rang the doorbell again yesterday after the almost four-hour appointment full of "no's" and "can'ts" and she offered yes and can with His hands cased in wrinkled fingers, meatloaf foil-wrapped and cold by now with apologies because we weren't home when it was hot yet. she didn't know how bare the fridge looked to these angry eyes. or how the giving of bread and nourishment un-worked-for by me was edible grace. she doesn't even know my name, but she asks husband every morning they're off at the same time how i am and if the baby is here yet.
anger begins to dissolve into humility. He is still in control. He has to be: weren't we meant for eternal life?
i watch these three play together this morning on a rain-prison day, and i'm still tired and still waiting and still sad that i have hurdles to jump. but Grace holds me close even in all the grey. there will be encouraging phone calls from precious friends, and fried meatloaf sandwiches for lunch, and this little one is Known. it is enough to stop angry words.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Windows and resurrection

i asked for his help--i could tell he was waiting up for me, and task-oriented, i was trying to hurry through just the next few steps to a "good" quitting point. we laughed at my non-spatially wired brain and the fact that my method had prolonged my measuring and cutting the fabric. i asked if he'd help cut the last few strips with me; two pairs of scissors staring at me ready, and only at the end of the night had i thought to ask for his help. giving instructions to cut on this line, leave that fabric there, we snipped side by side and wordless, til hesitantly i asked, "i hope you don't mind this menial domestic work?" in all his hazel seriousness he replied, "why would i? it gives me a window into your world." it's been almost seven years since we first met, and he still takes my breath away with how profoundly he loves me. when do i take the time to so casually and intensely whisk away the curtains of our everyday to see him so present in his world, too?

on a post-Easter monday, it's so clear to see the Groom analogy for He lived and died so thoroughly in our world so that we might yet live in His. my breath forces exhale in unspent worship at the magnitude of grace, the curtains rent so that we may Live.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When nesting is more than a list

i love lists. i love checking things off those lists. i love post-its and sharpies (colored! fine line! oh my!). i love the rustle of my legal pad with all my to-dos and shopping lists and half-written journal entries. for those like me, there is a sense of wonder and security in being tightly wrapped up in the crossed-off sections of need want do, and in a season of end-of-pregnancy urgency, it could get easy to stay there, between the lines and check marks.
but there is more to a nest than provision.
there is beauty in tangled twigs, each one positioned just-so by a loving parent.
there is moss and down to provide just enough softness for those entering the world from jagged shards.
there is a landing to fly from eventually, and there is shelter in the now.
first-time mamas know the frantic energy to wash baseboards and iron crib sheets, to shop for every little thing the baby might need, and mamas with a little more experience know that preparation is helpful and hard to come by. we may still wash windows, but we also chase older siblings and pine for easy rest.
i know i have been absent here, and i miss it, and all you lovely reader-friends, dearly. my mind is muddy and my energy is non-existent. we've got about three weeks til this little boy comes, and i treasure the time of being his womb-home as it will be last, but i'm also eager to meet him and be in the next season. i've had my moments of cleaning at midnight, and naturally, that's when blog post ideas or thoughts pop in, but then just as quickly, the energy and poetry is gone. but i'm still poet-mama while list-making and diaper changing and fast-food meal-providing. i'm here, and still as much in love with grace as ever. i'm still a broken mama who yells a little too often in this tired, tiring stage, and i'm still bowed low with love from a God who provides just what i need when i need it.
there is joy here in the waiting, i'm just not writing about it that much. i'm eager to share news of his birth with you, if it takes that long to write again, and otherwise i take shelter in this period of interim/enter-Him.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


yesterday we had severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings and had a power outage. this is the blog post i wanted to have up yesterday for counting blessings.
also linking with suzannah today
lt;center>so much shouting, so much  laughter
more grizzly bear than mama bear these last few days (weeks?!) and i tire of grouching all day. there seem a million viable excuses, but i tire of them as well. am i angry? tired? is there a difference in the sight of little boys?

today we have severe storming; our power goes out so we do, too--let someone else prepare our food, fast, and we drive down streets with trees broken and houses splintered. all i could see were people coming home to such damage. my heart wanted to break for lives unknown to me, their stories in books i'll probably never read.

our own street untouched by the wind's rage, though two streets over trees lie on power lines keeping us in dark. not even an upset trash can--this the only evidence today is any different for trash would normally be picked up by now. and inside this house we call it "disaster zone" but no branches gape in my walls...we call those three boys "tornadoes," yet all in one piece and mostly with stormy heart now calmed to see real storm, real damage, wishing to be a peaceful mist in my own home.

grateful for: (283-290)
husband who loves through the grouchy woman invading me; 3 boys who grace me with smiles and gripping hugs; power out-quiet! and respite from tv's noise, also, the invitation to play, be creative in getting along; him home to help and not out driving weathered roads; money enough to buy lunch and getting a break from darkening living room; the One who calms the storm and allows it to rage to calm my internal storm.
prayers for:
those in our neighborhood facing financial and emotional hardship in the days to come; safety for city workers dealing with felled trees and power lines; grace for those continuing without power.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Of soap and sand

it was a stolen moment, a little quiet hiding tucked into the busy of day, those little ones for once just playing together in their room uncaring where we were. we simply lay on covers still unmade from last night and wondered at the simplicity of aloneness, this private cocoon. he grounds me in this nest of arms, and my restless feet statically and rhythmically keep time against his calves. inside the growing one kicks through my belly to his belly, we laughed. he is long and solid like history, and i'm all curves and plump softness (except that tight globe i love so much), and i'm the one leaning on him. i've always been this way. i told him how he makes all of us--three busy boys and even furry loves--feel as if we were the center of his universe. he shrugged; he's always been this way. avery clambers in, finally missing presence, and he reaches over me to grab him up. long brown curls mimic his smile as daddy holds him high and mama snuggles close. shea comes in to tattle, and connor comes in all loud-boy-noise-machine, and the bubble of first-couple is broken just that easily. but like soap, there will always be residue, the tickle of memory from unexpected oasis. so we heave off bed with laughing tickles, our sand in the desert swallowing footprints of the day.

linking with emily and other broken poets along the way

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Towards a spring theology

she played hooky from work yesterday and we talked long and fast, our nature. she wanted to call just to say the bluebonnets are there. i've written of them before, how they helped this lonely soul see Him again. spring always refreshes, and i adore memphis in spring (which is why i missed it so hard!). bradford pears have changed lacy shawl to summer-green and japanese magnolias have dropped their magenta petals. in their wake, the remaining cherries, the dogwoods of easter promises, redbuds, and wisteria so haunting to make me weep. these are gifts i unwrap every errand, every excuse to drive, and i feel that winter thaw again.
we played hooky from bible study this morning, she needing work done, and i just eager to go over later and play. lunches packed and chocolate delivered, and we talk and love each other with skin on, and i think, "home: friends. true spring. my boys singing walkin' to memphis [sic]."
i received excellent news yesterday that has assuaged so many fears and relieved some pressure; good medical reports often do. this wee one inside--so heavy and low!--seems protected from the diabetic complications i had with my last pregnancy. i am still on the diabetic side, but so close as to be borderline. unfortunately, my current OB is still pushing for many extra measures, but i feel confident to deny them safely. it is yet another blessing, this prayer being answered so mightily.

i hate that it's so easy to trust and enjoy when the winds are calm instead of storming. spring is both, though, eh? all this new green and pale palette and then the rains that chase the petals from stems. all this creation sprung from the same hand: my sister and i tightly joined in womb to love across all this distance just to share a flower; the beauty that revives me every spring; the visible answer to prayer to mark His hand this day, and even the storm that raged internal last week and that rained out his soccer game on sunday.

Thank You, Lord, for this hands-on love, this spring of rains and the Eternal water of life.
linking with my lovely friend, suzannah, for her ShoutLaughLove. come along?
lt;center>so much shouting, so much  laughter

Friday, March 25, 2011

All the small things

271-282 counting towards 1000....
my favorite playlist on repeat.
hot, fresh pretzels from the oven (it's true; you must eat one straight away. i don't know what these taste like cooled because we've yet to have any last that long).
coral and gold-tipped tulips still closed but promising to open soon; a friend's perfect gesture to send me into the weekend after a horribly stressful week.
husband home on a friday afternoon, in the other room, but close enough to call out, to reach.
an almost-two-year-old finally weaned from his bottles, and now napping as if he were still an infant and full of mama's milk.
a novel half-read, better than the movie, as they always are.
miami vice on my toenails, an unexpectedly bright and feminine pink instead of my usual.
the last load into the washer from all the laundry accumulated since we moved (we even brought some dirty with us) and didn't have appliances at home. a friend gave us her older set and slowly, and now surely, i've gotten all caught up: linens, towels, clothes.
fresh strawberries and nutella for dipping.
asparagus fresh and slim and perfect eaten just slightly sauteed in butter and a sprinkle of salt.
a check so late in coming (in our time anyway!) but blessing us this week perfectly, an the ability to begin paying people back.

these are the tiny graces i'm so thankful for. i'm so glad that we serve One who can both carry he universe and live in my heart. counting with ann and others to mark His hand in our lives.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


i love the way distressed hardwood floors look, as if they tell a story of a hundred feet in every sinuous grain. in my mind, they are footie-pajama'd children squealing with glee on christmas morning and sliding, back when there was veneer and shine. or, perhaps the swishing of granny slippers and house robe pulled too tight, the wood peeking from beneath the rugs to help keep her warm. yes, weathered wood that has taken a beating, and finally no more splinters to spill.

i sip on coffee hot and au lait colored, and muse over floors. i think i swept our living room three times yesterday. the hardwoods collect dust like i collect memories, and my own children run and leap and slip-slide on these worn wooden planks. one likes to throw especially loud tantrums, arms all flailing til my heart wants to join in, and one is monkey-boy, all blue eyed rambunctiousness, and one is bossy and demanding the others follow the leader. no splinters have wounded their country boy bare feet (bear feet; they all have large feet, like their daddy.)

coffee cools. the cup says, "Her children arise and call her blessed." i wonder if my boys will weather gently like old wood, if they will emerge all grace-worn edges and battered varnish, but smooth as an old proverb.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thankful, when i don't want to be

perspective helps. hard to see, perhaps, but aligning nonetheless.
words soar in my brain, and i chafe all over again.
high risk.
i want to scream, "it's not fair!" i want to ball my fists and stamp my foot, and am reminded by a sweet friend that it's unbecoming.
so i'm choosing to give instead.
give up.
give it over.
refuse to carry that tantrum or the grief any longer.
this little boy inside is already Known, all his days are numbered: Your works are wonderful; i know that full well.
i have birthed three already, and when the time comes, naught but He could stay this one inside! i've complained to those who've listened that i can't enjoy this pregnancy anymore because of the new maternal care and the pushing of "extras," of unwanted medical attention that will cost thousands of dollars out of our pocket (insurance kicks in about a month from now), but with perspective comes the majesty of feeling this boy's movements inside of me. of wondering who he will favor, and what his place as fourth in a line of brothers looks like. it is the awe of a creator who loved enough to die so we might live, both in this frail skin fighting diabetes and in eternal worship.

choosing to give thanks with ann and others even when my nature wishes to complain.
258. that we've been blessed with this, 4th boy
259. for my incredible OB in texas who had faith in my body's ability to birth naturally and healthily, and who was unperturbed my my history of gestational diabetes
260. for the peace that provided me in the first half of my pregnancy
261. that i'm still healthy, that most of my glucose readings have still been reasonably normal, even when i've "cheated"
262. for knowing He is in control and knows the outcome
263. for 2 more months til we meet this little man--i've truly enjoyed myself this time and am reluctant for it to end
264. that it will end, and i'll get to meet him soon anyway!
265. for friends willing to pray and listen to me complain after a morning of talking to doctor's offices
266. maybe the blessing-in-disguise of not having a thousand dollars at my disposal to see the maternal-fetal specialist; maybe this way i can continue to enjoy a stress-free gestation
267. for husband who willingly lets me grab his hand to feel every kick at night...still
268. for Sonic ice. no, i'm not kidding.
269. for medicine still working, and mental health still being GOOD
270. for grace, as always

Thursday, March 10, 2011

As you are going: Worship

i see songs of worship

in a mother's hands, unconsciously pressed on her purple-stretching skin, a responding call to the fluttering thumps below

in milk that leaks nourishing comfort

in the toddling steps of a wee one, shaky on legs but certain in love's fall-breaking

in the fart-jokes as oldest little one grows--there is a letting go, even this young--and the burst of " i do it" as 3 year old insists on independence

in the quotidian click of wedding bands as she hands him the plates for the table, the eyes catching with an old flicker

in hands that fold laundry and reach under tables during grace

in wearing wife role, which looks a lot like red toenails and the two curved bodies asleep before they intended to


i sing worship as i tend this home. sometimes i bake the bread, and sometimes i buy it straight on sale. i raise these three boys and grow another, and sometimes it means avery kisses my bottom because that's as high as he can reach, and sometimes it's the constant yelling to QUIET DOWN. i sweep floors and consider decorations, but we have written on our doorposts to Whom we belong and serve. i remember meg's words: just as you are going. one step at a time.

linking with emily and others for her imperfect prose

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring hymn

i can't get over the japanese magnolias w/ their haughty purple-pink robes.
or the bradford pears in their unfruiting yet flowering privilege.
i am giddy with green (despite sniffles ensuing)
and i don't miss the big texas sky for all the climbing trees here.

we used to sing this song in college, and i find myself singing it again

Awaken The Dawn (by Delirious)

Sing to the Lord with all of your heart
Sing of the glory that's due to his name
Sing to the Lord with all of your soul
Join all of heaven and earth to proclaim

You are the Lord
The Saviour of all
God of creation we praise you
We sing the songs
That awaken the dawn
God of creation we praise you

Sing to the Lord with all of your mind
With understanding give thanks to the King
Sing to the Lord with all of your strength
Living your lives as a praise offering

You are the Lord
The Saviour of all
God of creation we praise you
We sing the songs
That awaken the dawn

God of creation we praise you

Monday, March 7, 2011


the lines on his face tell me a poem,
of the three-before-three trips to emergency:
the gentle dog who bit him
the coffee table collision
the tumbling off railroad tie;
another scar where football scramble
was prayed over, no stitches and healed anyway;
his eyes crinkle like a pleated skirt when he laughs
and i wish i'd carved them all myself.
his dimples drew me in, "hoyuelos" i said on an early date
and i trace them every night in my sleep,
kiss those parenthesis, all mine, gentle scruff scratching me.
those furrowing lines of pressure and worry
no botulism could ever straighten out
and i know he holds us in his thoughts, his
high proud forehead
all the time
and i love him for his lines

(241-256 of counting gifts with Ann and others on this journey)

so grateful for the love of my life.
for his patience as daddy and
ability to be jungle gym
b/cs i can't.
for his patience and grace with me
and holding my hand always
for his worry for our needs
and his strength to carry it all
for his searching heart
even when i don't understand
and his laugh that literally keeps me sane sometimes
for his work and ethic to work
even when he doesn't like his job
for his urgency in providing
for providing all these little boys
for the love we make and share
and the oasis in a difficult time we were able to have this weekend,
no getaways, just staying, and being present
and connecting in a way we haven't in a really long time
and always, always, the Grace of the Beloved
in providing me with the helpest of mates,
knowing exactly what i needed and desired.

Friday, March 4, 2011

this space has been too quiet, the last post taunts me that i haven't been back. and yet, when i think, have tried, my mind draws blankly. i've written on paper with intentions to share, but that notebook was dropped in grease (no, i'm not kidding!). so it goes.
i still mentally count my blessings, wonder if it's enough.
avery, perched on edge of office chair, swings his feet back and forth, he simply enjoys the movement of his body; i smile at his enthusiasm. shea is reminding me every day with every sentence that i can't go wrong with attempting to homeschool him next year, for he's simply too excited to learn every day. connor's joie de vivre is infectious like this spring we're enjoying.
there are grey thoughts under the surface, too: we're here again, but he's so unhappy, and life has been hard. it's hard to stand wife against despair, and all i want is to wrap him up and fix, and both my hands are tied, though heart will never follow suit.
yes, this space has been come-and-go, hit-or-miss. i don't like being sporadic, but i want to be present in life, not just in words thought out. i know there are words to share, lessons to ponder, but i also need balancing with these tasks before me, especially these tiny ones.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


i couldn't sleep, too afraid i'd oversleep. 5:00 and i rarely get along--mornings are too early, and afternoons are that so-called 'witching hour' otherwise known as "please get out of the kitchen while i'm trying to prepare dinner, and stop fussing while you're at it." :)
but that morning i met 5:00, if not eagerly, then at least expectantly.
i walked to her house, smiling: "we're neighbors" still seems surreal.
she, and i, and the others gathered at 6:00, and our purpose was to pray for our husbands, our children, to lift those we love and their needs. i'd never felt so awake.
caffeine helps you maintain.
friendship sustains.
prayer lifts.
i felt, later, as if those prayers were iridescent tentacles enveloping all those near me, binding them to me. i wished they knew and understood how blessed i was by meeting dawn--no, meeting Him with his pink-streaked creation.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dancing gospel

i used to think the wanting was hard: the love that shone carat-colored on fingers, or the full-tight abdomen denied possible by doctor; the pottery barn home (tona's tastes were impeccable), or the desire for beige to stay beige, not mapping toddler discoveries. i still struggle with that wanting--it's all a game of mirrors, isn't it?--but i'm realizing that need is harder. and yet, it's also just the beginning.

to need is to proclaim, "i'm not enough," which begs for a Savior. saving becomes a love that shines through generations, crimson red, and the blessing of life because otherwise i'd never have survived motherhood at all. He is the eternal home which makes me feel this tension, trapped inside mud-skin and dirt-walls; He is the one writing on my own heart and mapping my struggles across redemption's journey. to want is to wait. to need is to Live grace in the already-not yet.

grace has about eaten me alive these last weeks (i don't mean that in the pesky mosquitoes of the south sense; i mean: in the same way i want to devour avery's chubby thighs and ringlets, i've been consuming grace and been completely undone in the process). moving is always hard, even when it's an adventure, and we've been on grace's hinge...waiting for paychecks, waiting for resolutions amidst hard circumstances, waiting for it to "just come together, dammit."

here. boxes are all unpacked. dinner's been managed (like mischief, even) every night. he has been home every night-oh, my love!- and kids have begun to call this home. my friends have danced the gospel fully for my family since we've arrived. mercy-notes wafting in casseroles delivered, in diapers purchased, and laughs-in-person. He weaves in and through us, and the needing has never been stronger. i have needed this love with skin on, this reliance on grace and others. my vision is righted, and i can't help but sing the lovely words:

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

today i join with Ann and the community again for the first time in a long time.

221. pantry stocked with staples upon our arrival
221. pot pie
222. poppy seed chicken
223. chicken chili
224. pizza
225. vegetable soup
226. potato soup
227. all these meals were delivered by loved ones to help our transition into our new home while we unpacked and had no kitchen, also for when he was away for training for a week. i don't think any of these ladies realized we had no money to even buy groceries, so to have these meals provided and hot and ready for us was beyond a blessing.
228. borrowed washing machines and the hours-long fellowship that followed. laundering has never been so fun or worthwhile, and i might be sad when we get our own again (!)
229. she is right.around.the.corner!!!
230. and our children will grow up for a while together. we're very excited to share this journey step by step
231. once a month prayer group
232. his job is going well so far, ropes being learned
233. my "job" seems easier than it has in a long while.
234. our huge backyard
235. and the balmy days we enjoyed last week to spend in it!
236. sleep routines returned to and an easy transition for the oldest two to sleep in their own room now
237. for the $40 here and the kroger gift card there.... they've gotten us through
238. for the humility to accept that he knows exactly where we are, and has provided JUST ENOUGH
239. that He is always enough
240. and His goodness binds my heart back to Him

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Here, and there

has your heart ever been in two places at once?
mine has, and is.
sorry for the continued quiet. i hope to be back soon, but we have had an interesting first week here in memphis, both with the expected bumps and bruises of unpacking and settling-in, as well as a pretty severe gallbladder attack for this tired mama.
resting up, or pretending to while i continue to get things calm here.

can't wait to be back and visiting you all and writing her to calm my heart/brain here as well!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The deepest secret nobody knows

when the world was kaleidoscope under shining tears, she was always there in focus. when laughter cried down freckled cheeks, mouths wide and heads swung back for the joy of it, our arms were linked. when the night sky broke in a million raindrops, and we saw only mirror shards of each other's love, we stood still in the knowing. we can't be without each other. we've only ever known the other's presence, like sun and moon aligned (never eclipsing, we know that now).

we've shared seasons apart--a frozen rhode island i will never know, and georgia peaches that are mine alone. sons have been born without the other to kiss welcome hellos. but still we always breathe one.

we followed her out here to this vast skyland of texas. i missed my poplars and friends and that feel of home. but she became home to me, here. we shared our sons, five of them all stair-stepped and enough crazy to gray us infinitely. we've learned a new knowing as mothers-together. we thought sisters had it best of all, but our womb-sharing with each other only ever taught us to be the women who opened wombs to children of our own, and there is magic in the revelry.

and we leave again. go back "home," and i'm happy and broken in the tearing. love that city with its blues and elvis-stamp, its barbeque and smoky grace, the friends eagerly waiting to love on me (all expanded with my boy group in tow), the city of a thousand churches if i could find one to embrace me.

the world runs together like watercolor and finger paint, all smudge and swirl for tears that know no matter what we'll survive distance, but also know magnetic pull to be one, here, always. my boys need their bebe as much as they need their mama, and she knows it. we both do.

so much new to come: new job for rickey, new hours for me to learn to be wife and mama and teacher, new city/old city (moving always brings new, doesn't it?), new balance of friend-church-rest. and new without her.

(me on the left, her on the right)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
~ e.e. cummings

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"no white, please. i'm far too pale."

she unwraps cello jackets, revealing gems below: champagne, ivory, two-toned, pink.
i evn find a white one i love in a classic misty move. i rebel even against myself sometimes.
one last glance at the crammed rack, and i see a glimpse of an impossible color peeking out. "oh," i breathe. yes. oyster. this would suit you rather well, i think.

i bought my dress 7 months before he asked.
the answer was always yes.

i never considerd being a january bride--we all probably assumed i'd be a barefoot bohemian, and inside i definitely am.

he says i didn't even kiss him with you may now--lips barely brushed his, he insists. i wish i could smother him in a million kisses and start again tomorrow.
i'm terrified of dancing, but we danced anyway, and these hips have since swayed in endless labor and the rocking of babes to sleep. the dancing of a mother is just the fuller dance of newbride.
tears clouded vision with that first Mr&Mrs; now i wear Mrs unblushingly and well. it suits me, too.

my oyster gown hangs on his side of the closet. it's not even protected. i leave it as it is. that indescribable pearly color whispers to me when i hang up clothes, reminding the housewife of the bride she'll always be.

happy anniversary, beloved.

(this is a day early-we celebrate union tomorrow, but i'll be away from my computer for large parts these next few days, so linking with emily and others for imperfect prose)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buried in the dust

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.

this passage in lamentations 3 used to be my "life verse," as it gave me hope i needed to continue reaching out to God when i was hurt and distraught. i thought i'd moved on, found other verses to sustain me, but as i read through an old journal entry and re-read these verses, i realized they are still "mine." i was so full of despair then, and again recently, but i don't think i understood til now the glory in the dust.
yes, i'd lie prone in the dark, tear-stained and heart-heavy.
yes, i'd reach for the heavens and feel nothing but ceiling.
yes, i'd run over and over in my mind what could have been.

but i never knew there would yet be hope. i hoped there would be. but hoping felt empty in a silent bedchamber. little did i know that from dust i was breathed, and from dust would i return some day, and dust, if i could just find Him and bury my face in his dirt, would redeem the hope inside.

i think i am like poor eustace crying as aslan tears his dragon-flesh, replacing gold with grace. i am mud, all washed with Tears and unraveled into pure linen, for there has always been Hope, so great is His unfailing love.

rejoice with me, my beautiful, broken friends. i stand today with fresh eyes and so grateful to be able to look back and see His hand, to see that He stirred in me through dark hours and that indeed, compassion is renewed every single day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The jungle book

i have monkeys who swing hard on furniture and make-believe, and on strong Daddy's shoulders.

i hear a stampede of elephants and wonder how my house can hold them all,
only to find 6 impish eyes staring back at me.

we even have a panther, all bagheera disdain and flicking tail, and his ears get pulled a little too often.

i was once baloo (my nonvirtual friends understand), but now i'm mama bear, less silly (though i have my moments) and more fierce love.

best of all, we have a King here,
not man, not fire, not water, He lives here, reigns here
even in the messy jungle of our hearts and home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


i had a professor in college chide me once, "misty, what are you waiting on? inspiration?" i was. a senior year english major taking 4 upper level lit/writing classes and a "directed inquiry" in the same field left me void of things to say. it was my job, but i constantly felt i had nothing.
sometimes blogging is the same way, which is why it's so important this time to stay true to myself and not set post requirements or feel always obligated to visit my favorite haunts (and i love visiting, it just eats time!). and yet, tonight i sat, wondering if i had anything to say. i mused that when things were so dark i often shared plenty, even if it was just a whispered "pray for me," and in just the looking, inspiration is everywhere.
it is the grace to be warm on this too-cold-for-texas night, the full belly and wonderingly normal blood-sugar readings. it is avery, all tucked in and quiet, and the tip-toes in to check on him before i go to sleep, or the breathing of shea or connor in my room when they finally succumb to their days' adventures turned into dreams. it is my beloved away for work, but the bond that stretches all that long way. the hollow in my bed, waiting for his return, the phone calls late into the night just to hear the other without kid-noises all around. it is last little one unknown yet Known fully, growing hair by hair, making presence known with secret kicks. grace is in the anticipation and hope for tomorrow, whether we have frozen waffles or the last of the Cheerios for breakfast.
there is tenderness in Creation, in the miracle of friend's 28-week delivery of twins, and the miracles being seen day in, night out for these two sweet girls. it is the announcement of a friend's engagement, and all the glowing love. it is the timing of a friend's phone call or the music that makes me close my eyes, the worship in car rides, and the breathy miracle of art. it is modern medicine and my long-waited for bravery to ask for help in tiny yellow pills, and the grace in four bodies holding me up all that time before, holding hands in thankfullness now.
to be uninspired is an extravagant snobbery, i think. there is today, and it is preciously full.

so i'm here, linking with emily, at first afraid i had nothing, and realizing i have everything.

Friday, January 7, 2011

In wonder

breath has been baited in expectation
we wait for you
we wait to know,
we wonder and ask each other
and name a million names
knowing you'll wear all of them, and none of them.
my heart flutters in pink expectations
and i wish to grab his hand late at night
but he can't - not yet, you're still all mine.
we've been waiting to know
who to expect
and dreams and hopes and promises lifted high
and today we
i wish i can grab his hand as i see you
but he's not here,
home with those other three
and i learn you're fourth.

then happiness bursts blue all over
i can't imagine this home
our hearts all intertwined
without these four boys to hold and love.


(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

~ e.e. cummings

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Like oranges in winter

the impossibilities of citrine juices running sticky and sweet catch me off guard. i tear orange skin with my fingernails and zest fills my nostrils. biting into acid brightness, i feel as if i'm eating the sun from inside out. these tiny things, every day things, seem a personal miracle to me. it's a given for our mega marts and box stores to carry these warm weather fruits in rows and bags all full, made possible by modern shipment and genetic engineering perhaps. but every year i wait for the perfect orange, heavy in hand and as sweet as it is tart. like grace. heavy, impossible, divinely sweet, contradiction to this human mind. like oranges in winter.

(photo found here)