Monday, March 30, 2009

from the mouth of babes

This morning I sat Juden on my lap to play him a song. My kids love music. They want it on all the time and we often play this game where we have to name all the instruments we hear and they are surprisingly accurate most of the time. Juden has pretty broad tastes in music and likes to pretend he is the conductor when classical is on. So I scooped him onto my lap and told him to listen. I told him the man singing was blind, to which he replied,"What is blind?" I told him that his eyes didn't work and that it was always dark to him. I hadn't really thought about this aspect of sharing the song, but his expression immediately fell and he seemed really sad and said, "Oh, the poor man, why did God give him eyes that don't work?" Wow, we mommies are supposed to have the answers. I thought a minute about how to explain something so difficult and said that there are lots of things that are broken in the world and lots of sick or otherwise impaired people, and that made Jesus sad too and that's why He came and made a way to set things right. Still a rather weighty issue for a five year-old mind. I could see that he was still sad, so I told him to see how the man loved to sing and that he wasn't sad even though his eyes didn't work. I told him that we would close our eyes while we listened to see how he felt. He scrunched up his little face and sqeezed his eyes shut tight and we listened...
I looked at him with his eyes still shut, rocking his head slowly to the music until the song ended. His face lit up a little and he said,"Ohh, so since he can't see any pretty things, he just sings'em."
Simply put.
I love being his mommy and seeing things the way he sees them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the baby girl

Who would think that someone who looks like this would have the capacity to wreak such havoc on my mental state? Naya has recently entered a stage that I remember well having gone through it with Juden. I am finding that Naya has the same iron will as her big brother and has been unleashing it quite a bit lately. Every child has a different temperament and personality and the discipline that is most effective with one child may not work with another child. For instance, I barely have to take a stern tone before Ella's bottom lip begins to quiver. She is just a laid-back sensitive little girl so I deal with her in light of that. Thankfully once Juden's communication skills increased, questioning, talking through and praying about behavior problems has proved very effective. I so prefer this reaching the heart of my children than purely modifying the behavior. But Naya is frustrated and can't understand reason yet. I am in this crucially important phase of making clear that she has to follow my lead and that there are boundaries and rules and not obeying them will always result in a consequence and discipline. It is just very exhausting, especially when it's the fifth or sixth temper tantrum and it's not even lunch time yet. She looks up at me with a face that says, "Why mommy, Why can't I get out of stroller and walk next to the very busy road, why can't I throw the bath water all over the floor and draw with markers on the wall?" Be not deceived by her angelic little face, she will contort herself, arch her back and scream till she's blue in the face and until I'm about to crumple on the floor. Then there are moments of grace like yesterday when almost as if she was aware of how perfectly horrid she'd been, she covered me with hugs and flashed me those brown eyes saying "I yuv you,"over and over. I love this little girl to pieces and pray for the grace to help shape her independence and strong spirit.

So in usual fashion, here are some of the brights spots as of late.

1)Juden and Ella's drawings which litter my whole house and this one which reminded me of a Shel Silverstein book.

2)My first vegetable garden is sprouting beautifully, the therapy of hands in the dirt.
3)Living somewhere with waterfalls. Skipping stones and driftwood as smooth as a bone.
4)Sundays which consist of worship, picnics, playing in the park,napping babies, getting absolutely nothing done but soaking up every last drop of sun.
5)A much needed night out at Rembrandt's with the girlies last night and meeting a precious four-day-old Juniper Mae. Ohh, I think I need another itty-bitty one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

red rover

Spring is here and what was cold and dull is breaking into life and green. Oh, it feels good. We spent a rainy Saturday in Atlanta (seemed like more fun than staying inside and cleaning our house). We popped in a few places and drove past our old apartment near Piedmont Park, went to Ikea and finished the day stocking up at Trader Joe's. Amidst the rain, the kids also kind of redecorated the house with a crafting and creating overload which I almost don't have the heart to take down. We enjoyed the rain armed with rain boots and umbrella's and plenty of art supplies. Yesterday the sun returned and I anxiously set out purging the garden of that which was dead and placing fresh soil and seeds in hopes that Foxgloves and Sweet Peas and Cypress vine will soon emerge. I watered and dug to the sound of my kids laughing and playing all around me, the glow of the last rays of sun on their dirty little faces. With the kids all scrubbed and tucked in I finally sat down in the quiet of my house and listened to this song.

Maybe my heart becomes less guarded when the sun goes down. I don't what it was but hearing this song sent me into such a sense of longing and nostalgia. I know I'm hopeless, I can't apologize for it, this is just how God made me. Thankfully my husband looks at me knowingly with love when I get teary. All of the sudden I remembered being little. The screech of the school bus pulling up to my New Jersey neighborhood. Coming home to my mom's warm smile, blond hair tucked under her bandanna, polyester shirt with windmills on it and her soft neck that smelled like tea rose perfume and lily of the valley. We'd play together on the warm grass until the lightening bugs came out, red rover, mother may I and hide and seek. All the while my dad puttering around the garden seeing what was growing, gently tending, and admiring, to the sound of our play. I couldn't help but long for just a moment for that time of innocence when the hours rolled by slowly and my family was intact and happy.

me,Scott and Amy

My dad was a strange blend of virtues. His hands spoke of strength, rough and tan with veins that bulged from work. He lived at a different time of less abundance, one that bred in him a desire to be resourceful to grow that which he could use. But he was also an artist that hungered to find beauty; an Englishman through and through. I miss him lately. As the earth breaks into new life, a time that he drank in with child-like wonder at the sight of each new snow bell... I remember. I remember how he told me right before he died in the Fall that we would all go back to England one last time in the Spring; I nodded hoping. That Spring, bulbs bloomed on his grave. It waxes and wanes, this thing called missing that never fully goes away. In this week of feeling the void more than usual, I stumbled onto a picture I thought I had lost. One of my favorites and gift from God to find it when I did. I looked at the paintings and wondered whose houses they hung in now and marveled at how looking at him was like looking at both of my brothers combined. Yet another gift, having brothers that with a glance or phrase or mannerism make me feel like he is right there.
I thought of my evening and realized how much I am like him. I am now the parent helping things grow, waiting for something beautiful to lift its head out of the dirt, while my children play all around me. I know that one day you wake up and the innocence and care-freeness that is there for a tiny window of your childhood is gone. For some this time is more brief than others and for some children, that break my heart, not there at all. Something happens that shakes your world and suddenly you are aware that the world is full of grief and heartache and loneliness. Once that line of personal pain is crossed,there is no going back to the un-knowing innocence. I look around at my children who have not left that safe place yet that is protected and happy and unknowing and I treasure it in all of its fragile preciousness. The way they paint without hesitation or inhibitions about what anyone will think, the way they openly proclaim their love, their laughter, their trueness... I drink it in and learn from it. I tuck it away in my heart, I take pictures, I string words together to try to remember. Nothing can capture it as much as living fully in the moment, but I still try. I will end with these pictures of Ella that come pretty close to capturing her spirit. My Ella is a giggler. When she gets going, the face turns red, the veins pop out and there is no stopping it. It is adorably contagious and I don't think it's possible to witness one of her laughing fits without ending up in one yourself. I thank God for childhood in all its unadulterated joy and loveliness and for my parents who made mine enchanting and for my three loves whom I can't get enough of.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

her hands

This is Trish, the girlfriend of my little bro. She is a potter and sculptor and does beautiful work in a little studio downtown where she works. I dropped in last weekend to watch her work and do some throwing. The feel and smell of the wet clay brought back some good memories and I think I could have stayed there all day. It had been so long and I was pretty rusty, but it felt really good just the same.

"We're like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in the world is not the failure of God's love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial, is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet."

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?”
~Kahlil Gibran~

Friday, March 06, 2009

i'm loving...

1) Watching the soft snow drift past the brand new pear blossoms on the first day of March and by the end of the week feeling the most intoxicating warm breezes and sun.
2) My little brother Keith (aka Uncle Keefers) living in our attic studio and the occasional date night it allows, and we really like him a bunch too.

3)Discovering the sounds of Alela Diane and Treelight Room.
4)Finding pictures like this that breath of Spring.

5)The fabulous Soule Mama posting this video.

Can I just say how much I love, love that song and the dash to the watercolors that ensued.

6)Hands bearing these tiny wild violets and the promise of Spring.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


"In worship, God imparts himself to us."

photo by codswallop58 on flickr
photo by ...jade at flickr

photo by Arashi-San.

Sometimes there are thoughts that start to gestate in your head and your heart.If they linger long enough, I start to wonder if God has put them there and what He is trying to teach me. In addition to the concept of community,the act of prayer has been taking up space in my mind this week. Prayer means different things to different people groups. To some it is wishing, to some it's a ritual that can not be broken, to some it is a life-line. Some people inscribe their prayers on brightly colored cloth and wait for the wind to carry them off. Some people write them on little papers and tuck them between stones in the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem because it is said to be the last remnant of the Holy temple. Some lay prostrate and others just talk to God like he is their papa or an old friend. For me prayer is communion between me and Jesus. It is both talking to my loving Father and bowing humbly before my Savior King. It is worship, it is surrender, it is opening my heart like David to be washed in His grace and forgiveness, and it is a pouring out, like Mary anointing His feet, of all the love and devotion I can muster. It is an act of faith and humility like she dried His feet with her hair. It is more about the attitude of my heart than anything spoken by my lips.It is the Spirit interceding, it is a crying out in words and it is silent, listening.

I want to remember the ways God speaks to me and so for that reason I write this. Last week I was the parent helper at my kids wednesday morning pre-K at New City Fellowship. There is a time that the kids sit in a circle on little mats and sing songs and then the teacher takes prayer requests. They ask God for everything from wanting someone sick to get better, to asking God to help their brother and sister stop fighting, to asking God to make their mosquito bite stop itching. It is hard not to laugh at some of the things they think of. After everyone had shared their requests they started to pray. Suddenly every one of them bowed down, some of them prostate on the floor. A heap of little bodies all folded over their legs, faces down and heads together and all touching. As I stood there staring at this flower of children praying, I was struck with the picture of unity. God used this physical scene to speak to my heart about what I could learn from them, and how they did not hesitate to bow down together and revel in this communal act. I am not implying that these little ones understood fully the connection of the act of bowing down and the submission and adoration which it is meant to show. I was touched though, by their uninhibited enjoyment of togetherness. Unlike some other faiths that have rigorous habits of communal prayer and bowing down it seems that many of us who follow Jesus forget the power of prayer. We may speak to God throughout the day or when we need something. But how many of us disrupt our schedules and are disciplined about carving out time to talk and listen to God, and to do it with others? God used these little ones to remind me of the reverence and love I need to approach Him with, to make more time in my days to get on my knees and commune with Him both alone and with others.
this photo by Marc_p98 on flickrphoto by davidchoiii at flickr

"If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour will be very well employed."
~ St.Francis de Sales