Thursday, April 21, 2016

The way things begin, again

It is Spring Break for Spring Cleaning here this week. Projects which have been staring at me for a year and a half I'm finally tackling, flower beds need digging, don't even look at my windows. Seasons are changing and I am claiming some space for change too, space for thought, for order and beauty and loud music while cleaning out the closets.

Our co-op, Classical Conversations, finished last week which brings some change to our homeschool and space to my brain. We will continue through the summer, but at a much more relaxed pace. We all are looking forward to restful learning.

It was seven months or so without pause, every hour planned, and it was good for a season. Like running a race, knowing there is a finish line, and finishing feels really good now too. Being overcommitted can be clarifying, it makes you realize what you need and want, and what is distraction. I learned this year that while I don't mind a fast pace, I don't want to do it for long. It crowds out things which to me are more necessary, like books, conversation, home.

Beautiful things happened in the evenings while I was at work this year. Jim and the girls, the Lord knit them together. They had good conversations. The girls all prayed to receive Christ this winter while I was working, and I don't regret not being there. I needed to be away, this was his time with them.

This Sunday we got to see Sam and Annie be baptized, Jim with them, our friends and family all around.

The girls baptism on Sunday feels like a chapter ending and beginning, in several ways. The babies we are raising have their own Shepherd now. Our work now is to help them hear His voice, to learn to follow Him for themselves. It is the beginning of their own story with Christ, the story they have to tell. There is much more I would like to say here, but not today.

The girls' friends are coming for the day. Friends they've grown up with, friends they do not remember not having. Six years of friendship is a long time when you're six, eight, and ten. In a month these friends are moving a state away. I don't know yet how we will cope, how next year, or this summer, will look. It is the beginning of a new story, a hard beginning.

Isn't this the way all stories begin; with beauty, and loss.
To be lost, and eventually, found.
Buried in the likeness of His death, raised to walk in newness of life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


The top of her purple hat peeks just above the snowball she is trying to push. I watch her try with all her might, first fists, then turn and lean her back into the the thing. It is too big dear, but she doesn't stop. She runs for help, her sister appears and then the neighbor boys, together now. The mound takes on more snow and heaves a foot or two. It has become a neighborhood effort, this giant snow thing, sky darkens, they lose their hats, porch lights turn on, they heave, again and again, without why or what for? Never pausing to calculate the distance or find a lever long enough but just keep on, moving the world, down the sidewalk.

So much of life is just getting on, again, the small thing, again and again. Repetition repetition.

The girls have been out in the snow daily, five times a day. They finish their math and race out the door, I drag them back in for piano, out again. It is 7:00 am and Josie just came to me in her pajamas, please can we go outside? Have they noticed it freezing out there? 8 o'clock. Wait til 8.

I hold my mug at the window and watch them, thinking about these habits of an ordinary life. They gather themselves, become eventually more than they are. My grandmother lives on in my kitchen not for the way she baked bread but because she baked bread ten thousand times, because she lived a life of love and flour, water, salt.

Bread is a good habit, it makes a good life. Books are a good habit. Helping, listening. Beauty is necessary, and patience, prayer. I would like to make a habit of quiet, a habit of hugging, a habit of noticing the good, however thorny it may be.

Today is an ordinary Tuesday in January. We will practice piano, repeat repeat, recite our history facts and math, again, again again. We will read a little, form letters, sip tea. We will take a walk.

Outside the kids are packing snowballs, light and round, full of force.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

what will you do with your one wild and precious life? what I'm doing today.

For seven and a half years here, in fits and starts, I have thought about and ruminated over and over-shared about the question of what to do with your one wild and precious life. It has always been a central question to me, one I stand on the brink of and stare into with fear and curiosity and a bit of wander-lust.

I like living, and I like all of its complicated parts. I like the humanness of each of us, as painful as it may be, and I like the questions. I like what will you do? and wild and precious. And I especially like tell me about it.

Over the course of this blog I have exposed a lot of my self-doubt. I began the blog as we were leaving ministry in the vocational sense, and I spent a long time grappling with that. I began to write and then I began writing a novel, and I wanted this sorely and flailed mightily and kept blogging about it. Along the way I was a mother; joyfully, imperfectly.

A year ago I was restless. The novel I was writing felt stuck. And more than that. I was stuck. I couldn't put a finger on it at the time, but something wasn't working.

I read the book The Call, by Os Guiness, which was profoundly liberating. The book changed my thinking about calling, away from calling as a career. We are called by the voice of our Good Shepherd. My call is to follow Christ.

Next came a significant, personal decision. I needed to surrender my ideas of significance.

I set at the Lord's feet my ambitions. My fears of living an insignificant life. I gave up my understanding of success. I surrendered my ideals and idealism.

And I needed to get a job. We moved into a house that needs some love, and I needed to work to help pay for improvements. I'll spare all the details, but I felt the Lord very directly open the door for a part time job working retail.

I sell luxury home goods. I dress up and talk about leather. I fluff sofas.

But this is what I have discovered I love more than my ideals . .. even more than any humanitarian/ ministerial/ artistic calling . . . I love people. I love the people I work with, I think they are beautiful. I pray for them, and I pray for the people I am selling furniture to, and as I steam sofas and vacuum rugs I pray.

And I love being a mom and homeschooling my kids, and I love the little co-op we are a part of, and teaching writing and grammar to some of the brightest, kindest ten year olds you will ever meet.

I used to think knowing what to do with my one life was necessary and important. I used think, just this year I thought it; well, this morning I thought it once before getting out of bed, just for a breath- that living well is meant to be hard or original or sacrificial, some holy calling, some untraveled path.

Now I wake up and pray, I thank you God for most this amazing day. And thank you for the work you have called me to do today. Help me to do it well.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Life is very full right now. I may have bitten off more than I can chew. All good things, all things I would not choose to give up.

But every season loses something to begin something, and the thing I feel I'm losing is art. Solitude. Reading and writing. Me, I guess. The person I thought was me.

Some days I think this is okay for now. And some days feel as though I am missing a limb.

No, not a limb. More like the core of me, at the center. I wonder where I am inside.

I tend to remember everything as better than it was. This week I found my way back to old blog posts from several years ago. And I found myself nostalgic, thinking what good years they were. The kids were so small and precious, the days simpler and sweet and I felt fruitful and passionate. Everything is golden, in memory.

But they were good and terrible years. Events which I never wrote about shook me so profoundly that it was like being uprooted, like the ground falling away beneath me.

Funny how memory sifts things.

I miss writing. I miss the days when words came too quickly to get them all down, when I was sleepless and centered. I carried notebooks in the diaper bags.

But the truth is that art begins in the dark. Where we are most desperate, most lost, unearthed- art- faith- comes from the black loose soil.

It wasn't easy to find my way then,  and it isn't easy now. It is never easy. But it is necessary. To find your nourishment and cling desperately to it. It is your life.

Now let no charitable hope
Confuse my mind with images
Of eagle and of antelope:
I am in nature none of these.
I was, being human, born alone;
I am, being woman, hard beset;
I live by squeezing from a stone
The little nourishment I get.
In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The girls and I left Thursday after swimming lessons to drive to my parents' in Sugarcreek. I forgot to pack lunches (or just didn't feel like it ;-) and so to avoid fast food or save money or something (?) we ran into Target to grab something for lunch, which took sixty-seven minutes and cost three times the fast food. We emerged with three bags of school supplies and two world maps which means that school is in fact going to happen again, somehow, though I am doing a grand job at ignoring reality.

(Also: three processed kid lunches contained within about sixty yards of packaging. My kids got to make their own turkey sandwiches with fake cheese in the car and this was the bestlunchever! and for about ten minutes I was the bestmomever!)

Friday I went to an event to celebrate the The Budget's 125th Anniversary. I write an article for the local section. But there is a second section which is made up of letters sent from 900 Amish communities all over the Americas. The letters share details of their community- the crops and weather, who is visiting, who is sick, etc. It is a way for communities to keep in touch with one another- an original facebook. I just love this paper, and community. I am so glad to be a part of it.

We drove home late Friday evening and I worked all day Saturday. Just enough time to unpack the car, and pack it back up again Sunday morning. Jim had to work Sunday, the girls and I headed to Mohican state park to camp with my family. Stop at the mall to buy my mom a birthday gift. Stop at Wal-mart for prepackaged boxed lunches all over again. (Tell me one quick lunch that is not guilt-inducing? I'm all out of ideas). Stop to buy a birthday cake. Stop for the bathroom. We can make this drive last allllll day.

We got to float down a river and eat burnt marshmallows and do all the summer things within about twenty-four hours. Home again last night, to no groceries and a week's worth of laundry and soggy towels and muddy shoes.

And a broken washer.

That was four trips in the car and one child who has a really difficult time in the car, which makes it really difficult for the rest of us. Four times packing and unpacking, a bazillion soggy towels and a dirty van and too much sugar. Maybe this weekend was all I needed to be almost, just a little bit ready for Summer's end. Almost.