Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26

I woke up this morning on the bottom bunk. We go through this routine still every few weeks, they all want a turn to sleep with me. I will miss this of course. When I woke my first view was of the backyard and it surprised me, how pretty it is in the summer morning light, how ordered and green.

Last summer it was this:

and this:

Last summer was mud everywhere, and before that a forest of overgrown shrubs and a drainage problem. I didn't want to even look out the window for a year. It seemed like such a terribly long process but little by little it's improved. We fixed the drainage problem, put in a patio, added some landscaping and swings, and a dog.

There is still a corner that's a mess, waiting for a shed. Some days all I can think about is that corner and miss all of the beauty and progress.

Working retail is a perspective on how fixated the United States is with this, perfection. I see how hard people work to achieve some impossible perfecting of their homes or bodies, missing the great delight of life in the pursuit. It makes me more grateful for our simple life and little home and small improvements. It makes me want to stay small and quiet and ordinary.

Today is one of our first full days at home of the summer. I love waking up and knowing we don't have to go anywhere. I am a bit anxious that summer is passing and I'm not summering. You know, summering- to putter, to dawdle, to loll. Today is for lolling. 

Annie is listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio. Sam is downstairs playing lego. Josie is pestering me for ways to earn money. I am giving her a dollar to not ask me anymore questions for a few minutes. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21

I am claiming some space for writing in the morning, Lucy our puppy curled up beside me on the sofa. This is not as idyllic as it sounds. Lucy, of course, is not permited to be on the sofa, but after dragging her off so many times and trying to write, I give up. It is the one place she will sit calmly for two minutes and not be chewing on chords or furniture or causing me to jump every five seconds . . . (I just jumped). Having a puppy is a lot like having a toddler but more . . . ambiguous. All day long I am wondering does Lucy need exercise, is she bored, does she feel included, does she feel loved? Is Lucy hot? Is she cold? Was I too harsh with her? And then she pees in my shoes. 

We spent the weekend visiting friends. What a dull sentence, how loaded with life! I met these friends years ago when we lived and worked together in Haiti. Surely it wasn't a perfect community but my memory claims it was. No, better than perfect; for a time. It will never happen again I'm sure. Life doesn't go on, it just grows taller and broader with people we've loved. 

It was so good to be together and to remember . . . remember the way we could talk and talk, remember the smoky air, remember the breezes. Life was just beginning, I believed in everything. I was utterly selfish, I was utterly hopeful. 

I can't stay up nearly so late now. I've learned to be quite responsible, much more afraid. Sometimes you need to reach deep, deep down into your life and remember what is real, what you wanted after all. 

I've been thinking about the fields white unto harvest and how we are called always to the present, always to what is growing right beside us. But things grow from what is planted, the past lives on and I think we get to choose, to a large extent, what grows. I can't go back to Haiti but I can write, I can teach my kids, I can love people here. There is so much living to be done.

Summer is blowing past and I'm soaking up the moments. It is the best time of the year. 

"She conceived of life as a road down which one traveled, an easy enough road through a broad country, and that one's destination was there from the very beginning, a measured distance away, standing in the ordinary light like some plain house where one went in and was greeted by respectable people and was shown to a room where everything one had ever lost or put aside was gathered together, waiting.” Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

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.