Friday, July 24, 2009


Need I say more? Heaven help me when she turns thirteen if she's giving me looks like this at two.
A few things I've noticed now that I have a two year old again: the irresistible adorable-ness peaks at this age. She's in this tiny window right between baby and little girl, dainty, determined, soft and fitful. Her fury also peaks at this age and she can turn every head in the grocery store with her back arching rants til I'm blushing with embarrassment. At two they're trying to figure a few things out like, "does she really mean it when she says not to stand up in the grocery cart? hmm, is she serious about not chewing through the packaging of the cracker box?" "Maybe she's kidding about not going in the big pool with out a flotation device, maybe I should try jumping in anyway." Another observation is that she saves all of her angst for me, and is as sweet, compliant and cuddly as ever with all my friends. Two can make me absolutely furious at one moment and melt me the next because everything she says is in her impossibly cute language, that only the mama understands every word of. At two, I'm getting to see more of this fiery, independent spirit in my girl and am loving seeing more of this little person God has given me. I found a picture and realized that she looks so much like me but has such a different temperament. Even in the exhausting moments, I'm in no hurry for her to grow out of two. Despite some sanity lost, she brings me so much joy every day. It all happens fast enough.

The other day I was chatting over tea and hummus with some friends and they reminded me of this passage:

"Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever."
Psalm 131:2-3

It's amazing how my spirit lifts and I feel built up when I'm around my girlfriends. There's something that feels so safe about being understood. I've been thinking on these verses all week. The picture is so very powerful to me since it is a bond I know so well. A little child that isn't disturbed by hunger, but satisfied and content, at peace to be in the arms of the one who loves her the most. The other day I had a really difficult day with Naya. But that evening when she was done struggling and asserting her will she just rested in my arms as I sang to her. She was still, content and there was grace between us. She sat up and put her hands on both my cheeks and just starred at me. I marveled at her intensely dark eyes. I could feel my heart growing in places I didn't know I had with love for her. It had nothing to do with how awful or sweet she was that day. It was just that she is mine.
I am awed that my Father loves me this way. This has long been one of my favorite verses:
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

It's been put to music and I can barely sing it as my voice grows faint at the sheer magnitude of this truth to which I cling for life.
At one point in my life I spent a lot of time trying to earn God's love, so ridden with guilt that I simply could not wrap my head or my heart around the idea that he could ever love me. Don't we sometimes feel so ragged, bruised and weak... so fully unloveable? It's easy to think, if we could just get it together and clean ourselves up, then we could go to Jesus. What freedom comes in knowing he loves us in our brokenness. So when I think on verses like the above, it blows me away. How I want to be a child that has been fed so completely on His word and His life that I am content to be held in that place against His heartbeat, quiet and listening. Waiting for that soft breeze of the holy spirit to touch and envelope me. Not to keep exerting my own will and struggling against him but just to rest in the grace that is between us. To keep going back to Him to be cleansed and wrapped in his love.

Monday, July 20, 2009

red shoe days

This happy family of sun flowers greets me from my garden each day. I love their proud thick stalks and delicate sunshiny petals. Already lots of their heads are drooping. Sometimes I sit and watch them bow and sway in the wind like those few tipsy dancers that linger in the bar when the show is over. I like how E.E Cummings said, "The earth laughs in flowers."

I love finding perfect summer cottony dresses at the thrift store for the girls.

I love how happy these hand-me-down, two sizes too big red shoes make my girl. Most days, she rubs sleep from her eyes, still in her night gown and immediately slips her feet into the soft worn leather. She's ready to start her day now that her feet are in her favorite red shoes.

I had a few days of being in a bit of slump. Feeling a bit slapped around by goals unmet, lists of things undone, and piles of clutter that I should have organized growing bigger. Anyway when I saw these little red slippers for under ten bucks I couldn't resist. I think my girl just might have something with her red shoe fetish, I feel just a little bit brighter in mine.

Lately I've been listening to this and this School of the Seven Bells song over and over. Every note moves me and I wish when I sang it sounded like this.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

vacation days

The past three years we've had this amazing hook-up with a free beach-front condo. The kids keep asking when we're going and I miss the ocean so much I can smell it. It seems that planning our own vacation isn't in the cards or the budget. But it's summer and there are lots of adventures to discover right around us. So we take one day a week and we take our own little vacations. Today, for the first time ever we went to Lake Winnie, our town's very own amusement park. I'd never gone before because amusement parks weird me out a little. I think that scene from Pinocchio left me jaded as a kid. You know, the scene where all the gaudy, over-stimulation goes awry and suddenly all the boys are donkeys. Anyway,when I was little, my mom used to occasionally take us to Clementon Park in New Jersey. I remember all the lights and sparkly plastic, the smell of chlorine and funnel cake, those were heavenly summer nights. So we went and the kids loved it and we enjoyed watching them take it all in. I loved sitting with my boy watching his eyes grow wide as our cart crested the peak of the ferris wheel just as the sun was going down. Ella informed me at the end of the evening that she would like to live there.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

and um

There is nothing like having a few kids to strengthen ones' resolve in the belief of total depravity. You discover very quickly from these angelic looking creatures that no one needs to teach them to lie, fight,hit or disobey. It comes very naturally. And at times you stare blankly at your husband across the table wondering how these horrid little misbehaving people came from you. In a sense, we are wired to be destructive to our own happiness and well-being and destructive in how we relate.
Kindness, self-control, generosity, truthfulness and a sense of justice are things that need to be modeled and taught. It's a harrowing responsibility, not so much the saying but the living part of it. I've been pondering how I can teach my children to be compassionate in a time when so many kids grow up thinking the world is centered around them. I'm looking forward to starting this book just given to me by my thoughtful mom-in-law. As parents, we spend hours of time and energy taking our kids to dance and sports and encouraging social, athletic, and academic success. It's good to pursue growth in these things but how much time do we spend teaching our kids to be mindful of the needs of others and how to serve? We are immensely blessed to have so much freedom and abundance and responsibility comes with that privilege. So I talk to Juden, mostly, as he is the most inquisitive, about what is going on in our world. He overhears the news, our prayers and my conversations anyway, why not try to put it on his level? I told him how in some countries followers of Jesus are not allowed to pray and worship freely. I tell him that in some places in the world there are children and mommies and daddies without enough to eat,things painful to see much less to live. But I also tell him about hope and that there are little ways to help. The interesting result has been his prayers. The boy loves to pray and his prayers especially before dinner go on and on with lots of, "and,um and um's" between requests. His prayers are simple and heartfelt and have, on more than one occasion, brought tears to my eyes. He prays for Nana's legs to walk without a cane, for all the children in the world to be healthy, for people not to get in trouble for praying,that people won't fight, that he can go to Mimi's pool and on and on, you get the picture. Then one night after a somewhat exasperated stream of "and um's" he said, "and um, I just can't stop loving you."

Sometimes, along the way, you start to see these little signs that the seeds that were planted are beginning to bloom. It's a beautiful thing and glimmer of God's love that I want to remember. I am seeing the Holy Spirit stirring inside my boy and it makes me so thankful. The other day I sat with Juden at the table as he slowly picked at his food, unusual for my ravenous boy. And then he said, " Mom, if I just eat a little of my breakfast can we send the rest of it to Wogayehu?" He has looked at his picture many times and prayed for him. Pictured is a small-framed Ethiopian boy. He is not smiling and his feet are breaking out of his torn shoes. He has no mother and father, lives with a grandmother and is one of the thousands of kids that depend on being sponsored in order to go to school and have enough food. I told Juden how kind that was and then explained that we couldn't box up his scrambled eggs and sausage and send it half way around the world. But we could send him some money, letters and our prayers. There are tangible ways we can get involved that can also help our kids become more mindful of those around them. Here are a just a few, Compassion, Mocha Club, Shoes for Orphan Souls. I'm thinking the last one will be particularly fun for my shoe-loving girls. You don't have to have lots of extra money to give, you just have to be open-handed with what God has given you. It's not based on momentary bleeding heart emotions, though admittedly for me those are often there. We give in love for the One who has given us everything we have including our very breath.
The other morning I paused on the trail I was running on to pray and instead of thinking about it too hard I thought of Juden's prayer and the sweet aroma it must have been to God. I wondered what my life would look like if that was the cry of my heart.
"Papa, I can't stop loving you."
And it was enough.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

what the day holds

I love these long summer days of never knowing what the day will hold. We are stretching our days into the night so that maybe we can pull the reigns on summer and make her slow down a little. Here are few things that have made me smile lately:
the smell of linseed oil and paint as I watch him quietly work,

outside concerts with balloons and dancing kids and water ice,

downtown fountains all to ourselves,

pool days,watching stars,and playing on hay bales,

this song,

and this song that will make you smile and move.

how does your garden grow?

Whats for dinner? um, salad.

I need to do a little catch up in blogs. There have been a few things I wanted to record and no time to write. My first experience with growing food was a good one. We had more lettuce and spinach than we could possibly keep up with, sugar snap peas, green beans and a few herbs. The kids loved being part of the garden and it was so satisfying to have a large part of our dinners from what we'd grown. They loved snipping and washing to help me prepare supper. It is fascinating watching things grow from seed and the relationship God created between the earth and our bodies' need for sustenance. What I had not figured out was how to keep things growing in this southern heat. So last week the blazing heat squeezed much of the life out of what had been so lush. I ripped out much of it to the kids dismay, except the beans which like the heat and I'm working on some hot weather things like peppers and tomatoes and a pumpkin that should be ready in the Fall.