Friday, August 11, 2017

Benji's Words

A while back I was trying to figure out what I should do in a situation that really matters to me, 
and I was thinking aloud about it with Benji. 
He was patiently listening to me, as he has so many times on this particular topic.

And then he said something I've thought about again and again and again in the time since:

"Your best weapon is love, Mom."

And what else, really, is there to say?
Because it's true.
Love is what makes the difference.
Love is what brings peace.
 Love is what heals us. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


On Saturday morning, I woke from a dream.
I had been working as a field hand picking cherries.
From inside a building there, I heard someone playing my dad's arrangement of
"God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again," and went inside to hear
it. It's one of his arrangements that isn't recorded.
I think it was my mother playing and she was piecing some things
together, kind of a variation of the hymn and then playing a verse of dad's that we had.
My sister Susan was standing there, too.
As Mom started to play it again, I was washed in emotion as I thought about my dad
and felt, again, that deep pang of missing.
Susan came and stood by me, we hugged each other,
and in a moment, we were both sobbing.
And I woke up.

Kind of funny, because I spent Friday night cleaning my house.
It was driving me crazy.
Folded all the laundry.
Vacuumed the entire house.
Scrubbed bathrooms.
Mopped all the floors.
Soaped out my kitchen sink.
And as I stood there at the sink in the late-night quiet, I was thinking about him.

Sometimes I think about my grandparents, and how it wasn't that long ago that they were in the busy stages of life that I'm in.
They were raising kids and pursuing careers.
They were chatting with neighbors and laughing in kitchens.
They were involved and vibrant in their communities.
And now?
All but one of them has gone on--in almost just a moment, really.

Reminds me of another dream I had years ago that left an impression on me. I had just died, and my spirit literally went up through the ceiling of the room where my body was laying. And as I went through the ceiling, I went into a room of people and immediately found my father and aunt. They were laughing and happy and talking.
It was just as real there as life here and I was struck by how familiar it felt, as though nothing had changed.
But I remember feeling distressed because I was thinking of my little sister, still here. I knew she was crying because I'd died and I wanted to comfort her.

The older I get, the more I realize that our time here is short,
what we do here matters, and we will go on sooner than we think.
And I realize that the things my ancestors gave me--
their strength, their convictions, their examples, and their love--
are just as active through the veil that separates us as they were when they were here in the flesh.
I can feel those things, even though I can't see them, 
and it's strong--
especially from my father.
Someday I will see him again, and I'll run.
And when I get to him, I'll hug him and hold on.
And I'll thank him for hovering over my life.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Faves

Yesterday, Mia had a dentist appointment. 
On the way home, we got into a deep conversation about gay rights, gay marriage, feminism, motherhood, the gifts women have. 
And you know what? 
I felt like I was legitimately having a conversation with an adult as I tried to articulate my feelings and opinions on the aspects of these topics that we were discussing.
And she was responding by asserting her own opinions, what she thought, and why.
And you know what?
It was so cool, and the highlight of my day.
I kind of sit in wonder at the thoughtful and articulate person that she is, and really? 
I just feel grateful. 
She's so awesome.

And since I just shared my favorite moment from yesterday, I'm going to share some other faves and give a shout out to the work of others that I've appreciated lately.

I've liked this group for quite a while, 
but recently heard this particular song for the first time. 
I am stirred by the simplicity of its message, and I couldn't agree more: 
love, love, and love.

And while we're on that same topic, 
let's talk about showing up for others in pain. 
I love Brené Brown's work, and this short clip does a great job explaining the difference between sympathy and empathy. The kids and I love this (we still quote it and laugh). I shared it with them the same night I had them listen to Drew's song (referenced above).

Third thing? 
The more I learn, the more ignorant I feel.
And I LOVE! that.
I'm inspired by research and passionate people and grateful to benefit from their knowledge.
Things like this make me want to be a more conscientious person.
(I am also totally in awe at God's beautiful world and amazed at how it's integrated and systematically connected--layer upon layer upon layer. It blows my mind.)

We are eating! from the garden now (best!), and so I'm gonna give a plug for one of our favorite story books in the last few years. 
I love books, and that includes children's books. 
They are so delightful and deep, insightful and clever, funny, 
and they express emotion in such beautiful ways.
No matter how old I get, I'll probably always have 
a collection of favorites on hand for my heart.
I've never gotten too old for them.
Give this one a read.

And three final faves?

Hikes with my people. 
We've been going and doing a lot this summer 
and I have loved every minute. 

This week and last, I got to snuggle a newborn baby, and not just for a few minutes.
If you know me at all, you know I've got a mama heart, and soaking him up was 500% delightful and just so...lovely. 

And last, for now?
This kid's hair.
(And I kind of like him, too.)

Friday, July 07, 2017

Playing in the Woods

"We need the tonic of wilderness. We can never have enough of nature."
(Henry David Thoreau)

Today we drove almost an hour south of our home to hike in a canyon we'd never spent time in before. 

 It makes me happy that the boys are in their element there, exploring in the woods. 

I loved watching Bruce pick up huge sticks and admiring how handsome he is when you call his name and he looks at you and his ears rotate forward and he looks, all at once, noble and majestic and friendly with those kind eyes of his.

I don't know what it is but Claire has theeeeee cutest little bum and legs right now, and watching her in her new little hiking kicks made me happy. She's getting so big. And she'll tell you: "I'm the baby of the family, but I'm not a baby. That means I'm the youngest."

I loved watching my sister and Claire and Bella and Bruce up ahead on the trail. 
I loved cold river water on my feet.

I loved the beauty of the canyon, the sideways slabs of stone, the mix of trees, the rushing water, the fact that it felt as though we were all alone in it.
That moment with my sister under the falls. 
It was cold, we were laughing, and I love that we grabbed each other's hands. 
I loved a few quiet minutes with Mia, 
talking as we strolled along together.
I loved talking with Christa about the wonder of life--from the incredible detail in a single cell, to how amazing bees are and the intricate order and precision of all natural things--and the witness these things are, to both of us, over and over, of the existence of God.
And no matter where we go, I swear we always come home with more sticks. Cuz...Benji. 
Love these boys.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Summer Night Wonder

You take perfect when you can get it,
and I caught it and held on tight tonight.
We went for a walk at dusk.
The western sky was gorgeous: pink and golden and dappled, and there was a breeze.
My oldest son has been loving on me lately, and tonight he grabbed my hand when we started to walk and he didn't let go.

I looked at Claire's cute outfit and watched her cute little bum as she walked in typical determined fashion in front of us.
Mia wore the shirt she made recently and sparkly shoes.
The boys were barefoot.

We were sharing some of our favorite memories, and we ran through a whole stretch of sprinklers a few blocks from our house.
(See the sprinkles of water on my shirt and Claire's?)

And then.

We walked a half mile to the river and the boys were commenting on how much lower the water is compared to in the spring. 
All of us walked over to see, and Isaiah and I saw it at the same time.

A beaver!

We've lived 5 blocks from the river for almost 8 years, and I honestly couldn't tell you how many times we've walked this exact stretch of road. 

But we've never seen a beaver before!

We watched him paddle around in the water and Claire, upon seeing him, exclaimed, 

"Oh my gosh, he's gigantic!" 

He settled in on the opposite bank with a stick. And even over the water we could hear him chewing it as we watched him, facing us, holding it in his hands, nibbling away. 

We stood there for a long time 
in complete wonder, admiring.
(Curses! that I couldn't get a good shot of him.)

And then, we walked home, resolving to drop in at his house tomorrow for another look. 
Claire requested we hit the sprinklers another time and we did.

The sky was stunning, and my son grabbed my hand again and held it all the way home.
Summer, I am loving you.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Morning Work

Yesterday morning I went outside and unwound the hose in the front to water the hydrangea, geraniums, the hanging basket and pots by the door, my daisies (remember You've Got Mail: "Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?"), and our bed of happy petunias. 
Then to the backyard, watering pots of geraniums, a hanging basket with purple flowers, and the herb planter with basil, rosemary, and lemon thyme. 
I went to put the sprinkler in the garden, and pretty soon all four kids were out there with me. We were talking about this and that as we pulled some weeds.

There were bell peppers, 
baby jalapeños (we talked about making salsa!),
spaghetti squash, 
happy onions, 
zucchini (we picked a big one!), 
cucumbers (this is one that was picked last week), 
tomatoes (turn red!), 
beans and beets and carrots,
corn as tall as me, 
and bees in the squash flowers. 
Those minutes made my whole morning.
I love time with my people,
and this green space is going to give us lots of yummy food. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Whole Gamut

A few weeks ago the kids and I were sitting out on the deck around noon.
Isaiah asked me a really. good. question
It had to do with eternal purpose and growth---a deep thinking question. His query was something I've never thought about, 
and I didn't have an answer. 
I still find myself thinking about it.
We ended up in a discussion about difficulty, opposition, and growth. We were also talking about the possibility of upcoming changes and voicing how we are feeling about them. 
We were all on the fence, a mixture of emotions. 
Definitely some sadness, a little bit of anxiety, 
and a lot bit of uncertainty.
I began a sentence by saying, "We just have to accept..."--- and was going to continue by saying something about how living means experiencing the ups and the downs. But then Mia interjected one word and said it all.

So, replay.

I said,
"I guess we just have to accept..."

And she said, 


Her response was so simple and profound, 
and I've thought about it ever since.

That IS life, right?

It's the paradox of constant change, and it's full of things happy and sad, beautiful and hard, part sorrow and grief and part joy.

It's the whole gamut, the complete experience.

The scope of that---its depth and meaning, 
its sharp pain and fierce joy---takes my breath away.

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