Thursday, November 20, 2008

bright spots

Some things that have made me smile lately:
watching Josh and Juden at their easels side by side, painting away a sunny afternoon,

my kids endless fascination with Fall and finding the remnants of their treasure baskets everywhere, Ella's teapot filled with acorns, leaves in the couch and stuck in the windows,

watching the fire leaves fade to warm browns as Autumn starts to breath its last and the stark branches spread like veins through the twilight sky,

chasing daylight but finding more time to curl up and read in front of the fire,

cozy Wednesday breakfasts at Niedlov's watching the city wake up through foggy windows,
my niece, "sweet Sophia" as Juden calls her

finding this lovely scarf in my mailbox, made by a thoughtful friend,

I love the bright spots.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Painting

So, it's not looking hopeful, at this point, that we will have the cd completed by Christmas. It is a time consuming project but one that I have so enjoyed. We've spent many nights in the attic studio. Sometimes I call it the nest because it is so high all you can see from the windows are the tree tops; a good place to create away from everyday distractions. We've spent many hours thinking through ideas and weaving together sounds and pieces of melodies and watching songs take shape like a mosaic with tiny specks of bright colors that finally form an image. Some nights we sip cheap wine and inspiration flows more quickly than we can bottle it, the music comes easily and the hours are swept away in the pleasant outflow of ideas. Other nights it is technical and tedious and hard to focus, but mostly incredibly fulfilling especially to be able to do this with Josh.
I thought I'd share a song from the cd which is almost done. It still needs an intro and some strings but it is mostly done. It is called The Painting. It is dear to me mostly because it ends with words my dad spoke to me almost every night before I went to sleep. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Autumn is my favorite season but it also seems that my mind goes involuntarily back to the last days I spent with my dad while he was dying. Our last conversations, the last thing I fed him, the last songs I sang for him,the last time I heard him laugh, his sadness, his worship and the rapid disintegration of his dignity. I don't really want to go back to those end days so I try to not let myself.

There is so much I love about the Fall only intensified by my desire to share it with my children. So we spend our days outside, on walks, collecting treasure, throwing rocks in the water, we try to take our work and play outside to soak up every last drop of the fleeting daylight. There has been healing and these Autumn days have been quite magical really. Do you ever pass a place where the golden light is so surreal you just want to lie there all day?

Today however I knew it would be hard not to remember that four years ago today I held his hand and watched him die. I wanted to be outside with my family on this pristine day, much like that day four years ago. So we drove a little ways to a mountain to hike and escape for awhile. As we drove I watched the trees, their colors as thick as oil paint and the notes of this song penetrating my soul.Definitely worth taking a minute to listen. Suddenly the way the leaves spun and swirled across the road from the truck in front of us like sunlit sparks from a fire seemed to be in unison with the lilting melody and the memories of him. I was overwhelmed with how purely glorious the sights and sounds of aliveness are. I let the quiet tears fall into the reflection in the window and let myself go back there for a few moments.

The other day I was walking with the kids at the Nature Center and Juden was asking all sorts of questions like why we were always outside lately and what happens in the Fall. I told him that Autumn would go by quickly and that once it gets cold the leaves turn colors and they die and the trees are all bare. He looked very sad and said, "mommy, I don't want the leaves to die and turn back into soil." So I tried to explain the natural process of life and death in nature and that the leaves die and replenish the earth to make room for new life in the Spring. But they get to turn all the colors of flames and shine their brightest before they die, the best I could do in four year old terms. I looked around at the sun shining through deep yellows and red and thought of how my dad seemed renewed and like the truest version of himself right before his journey ended.
I have a little matchbox which reads,"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible..." G.B. Shaw
My dad made his life shine brightly in a million ways and I like to think I am continuing some small aspect of the burning.

Grief can take on so many faces. There is the grief which causes momentary sighs of melancholy and there is the grief that torments your dreams at night and wakes you sweating and gasping for air, grief that makes you wonder when you will have a tearless day. I have experienced both, and once you have stood alongside a grave where your loved one lies, you are never really the same. But four years later I can testify to God's power of healing. There is a void that can not be filled at holidays and in family pictures and in all of our hearts but I can see now, God's tender mercies and I trust in His perfect plan.

Friday, November 07, 2008

the boy

Perhaps I feel this way about every new phase my kids enter but I am really loving four lately. I remember anticipating how cool it would be when I could communicate better with my kids. Well, it's here and it is so lovely to hear his innocent questions, to watch his exuberance over the tiniest of things. If you are a friend of ours or Juden's, you know that the moment he lays eyes on you his whole face lights up and his volume goes up ten notches with excitement to see you. Wouldn't it be nice if such genuine joy was apparent when people greeted you; wouldn't it just make your whole day brighter? I am amazed at how much I can learn from a child. There is so little cynicism which allows such a spirit of trust and wonder. And I think about how our God tells us we must become like a child.

He's like his mama in his intensity and passion for things. Some days I feel so inadequate to be disciplining and shaping Juden but most of the time I walk through my days with his hand in mine and his little head on my shoulder and I wonder what I did to deserve the gift of holding his tender heart in my hands. So I carefully answer his endless questions, and he makes me laugh like crazy and I thank God for these days and hope that the day is not too near when his wonder and excitement wanes.

Juden goes in these all or nothing phases and right now it is all about drawing. I feel like I'm living with a mad artist in the making. He will spend hours perfectly silent just drawing on anything he can get his hands on. So if you notice any graffiti in our house it is probably Juden's handiwork. Talk about intensity , we are taking out forests over here.
It is such a privilege and high calling , this thing of mothering. I find that the more I am able to talk and reason with Juden the more conscious I am of figuring out how to reach his heart not just modify his behavior. I am seeing fruit in the soft-conscience that is growing in Juden. He seems increasingly aware of the need for truth, kindness, and self-control. He's a feisty little guy and he definitely has his moments but I am thankful to see the stirrings of his heart. Another thing I try to remember is to affirm him but not to reward him for good behavior to the point that he equates being good with being loved. And yet another picture of how being a mother has taught me of my Father's love. There really is nothing he could do or not do to make me love him less.

To my brown eyed little boy who has befriended and named all the ladybugs that are taking over our house, the knight who rescues Ella, the storyteller, the mad artist, the early morning snuggler, the clean house destroyer, and one of the only people I know who gets as excited as me at the moon and the setting sun sky and the leaves, I love you just a little.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

star wars kids

Well, that is enough weightiness for the moment, on to the documenting of the Star Wars tricker-treaters.

For Juden everyday is a good day to be a hero in his super Juden cape, or a pirate or a cowboy or lately, anything Star Wars. He's got a little Star Wars schizophrenia, so if you ask him what he was he will list the names of every character he can remember. A day where little people stroll the streets in costume is a dream come true for Juden, add candy into the mix, and he is one excited little boy.
Princess Leia exercising the force-

Ewok Naya with little monkey Nora.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

God shed your grace

My vote is in, and I think I will be a little relieved when the racket of this whole election settles a bit. Within my close circle there is a pretty equal split down the middle this go round. I respect the well-informed and thoughtful opinions on both sides. I care deeply about the issues surrounding this election. I want a leader with heart-felt convictions for justice,wisdom concerning our earth and it's resources, truth, mercy, and the sanctity of all life. Sometimes the greed, corruption and lack of integrity within our government makes me cringe. At the same time I live my days in the light of such blessing, abundance and freedom that many people in the world could only hope for. I don't deserve these things anymore than millions around the world that live in fear and poverty and hopelessness. This leaves me humbled, and prayerful and grateful.
One thing that has been disappointing about this election is how tense and divisive it has become. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of people being so quick to be arrogant and judgemental they took the time to listen and understand despite disagreements. Why do people act like if you don't agree with them politically, you haven't reached their level of enlightenment? Isn't it our right to educate ourselves and vote according to our convictions? There are deeply personal and gut-wrenching issues at hand; poverty, warfare, women in desperate situations, the lives of unborn babies, the list goes on and on. But something tells me that tomorrow, a new day will dawn with a new man in charge and those struggles and tragedies that are part of our humanness will still be with us. So before I hang my hopes on a man who is that, just a man, I take comfort in the fact that before I am an American, a democrat, a republican or anything in between, I am child made in God's image. He alone is my hope for change and salvation. So that is how I voted and how I try to live, true to my calling and my convictions.
He has shown you,O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8