Friday, September 25, 2015


We ate our pumpkin french toast, warm and sweet and fresh from the crockpot. We packed up lunches and filled water bottles and went on our merry way to explore a new piece of Colorado. The aspen colors are peaking right now and the juxtaposition of bright yellow aspen to deep green evergreen tree gets me every darn time.

Tonight I read the chapter where Charlotte and Wilbur meet. Not the one where she says they'll be friends and ends on a total cliff hanger that drove my 7-year-year bonkers, but the one where Charlotte shouts her salutations and Wilbur wrestles with the idea of being friends with a kind and pretty predator. We are reading the book now because it took this long for my arachnophobic son to be okay reading a book about a spider. He hangs on every word. The silly goose stuttering her responses and the nervous Wilbur shouting for his friend and the gentle Charlotte making the first move toward friendship. Goodness, I love those quiet moments with Elliot. We prayed, working on memorizing The Lord's Prayer, and his hand grazed mine and he picked his cuticle and I just felt life and love so big in that one nothing moment. Somehow I get to be here with them doing this. All of this.

It is hard. It is obviously not walk five miles to carry putrid water home to a small hut hard. That is a hard I cannot fathom. It is obviously not flee my home country, risking my life with each passing step hard. That is a hard I don't remotely understand.

It is still hard. There is not enough of me to go around. I want to do right by them. I want to raise them to love and honor and cherish this world, to laugh gut busting laughs, to reach a hand out to a friend in need, to ask for help, to find the silly in everything, to dance when the need arises, as it is known to do, to love, to sit in their hurts and grow from them.

I guess I just want them to see all of the best and the worst this life has to offer because, good gracious, it sure is filled to the brim with both, and to celebrate the party and to hold someone's hand and wipe tears at the funeral.

And every day I hope I do more to help them down that road, than to steer them in another direction.

Today was described as "magical," "B.H.E." (translated to best hike ever for those of you that weren't in our car on the way home), and "I keep thinking I'll wake up and this will be a dream." Those are high praises and right on target.

I just feel so small here on this big earth. I stare at these trees and these mountains and these little sticky toddler hands and these growing so big kids and I try to understand my little space in all of this.

Today: hike, eat fudge, give baths, feed children and animal, correct math, take the dog out, sing all the highest notes along with the Phantom of the Opera CD, read books before bed. On paper, this is not important stuff. It means nothing.

It didn't feel like nothing. It felt like a piece of life that I want to relive over and over again.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Washing hair and nine and fourth grade

I washed Audrey's hair tonight. She is still at that stage where she prefers baths, but will take a shower if we're running late on bedtime or, in tonight's case, plumbing issues make the bathtub unusable. That's always fun. She got the water turned to the right temperature then came to find me. "Mama, could you come in in a few minutes to wash my hair?" "Certainly," I replied.

How long will she need or want this help? How many times have I told her she could do it herself so I could get something else done? For some reason, it felt important tonight. Helping her wash her hair felt like the most important place I could be. Maybe it's because she's growing up so quickly. Maybe it's because we've been talking a bit about the horrors of the world. Maybe it's because the evenings are getting dark and cool, the crickets are chirping their last chirps and the elk are bugling their fall reveille, reminding me of the eternal passage of time.

She will start fourth grade in the morning. Impossible, but true. She is nine and the math people in the world know that nine plus nine equals 18, which means she's halfway to adult. I will never have enough days with her. I will never share enough books with her. I will never hear her lovingly care for her youngest brother or play the piano just so or write a note just to tell me she loves me enough. I just won't.

This time I have with her is precious. Not perfect because neither of us are, but precious. Of all the girls in all the world, God chose me to be Audrey's mama and for that I could not possibly be more thankful.

Church. Life. Pain. Love. Action.

The sky here is an overwhelming shade of surreal blue that never ceases to fill me with wonder. Add in the majestic white clouds and I could spend days looking up at the sky, but then I'd miss the mountains. It's a tough problem to have.
photo courtesy of Evergreen Neighbors and Friends FB Page

Yesterday we went to church and it was in Agape Chapel, which is a lovely way of saying it was outside. We have an area carved into a small hill with rustic seating, rocks, a cross, and nature. Oh, and barking dogs since there is a doggie hotel very close by.

On Sunday, the sun was shining, but up here in the mountains the days start brisk. We start our day in autumn, spend our day in August, and end it back in October again. Perfection might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. The sky was doing its glorious clouds on blue magic. Asher was going back and forth between Jim and I with plenty of pitstops to sift rocks through his fingers and climb on four small boulders that were just his size for "rock hike," as he put it when he saw them. Isaac and Audrey were sitting on the bench, old enough to mostly listen and engage for the entire church service. Elliot had his head in my lap, looking up at the sky. Our pastoral intern was preaching, which is pretty obvious since it's his job, but Elliot was preaching, too. He'd whisper up to me, "mama, look at the clouds." "Mama, it looks like bobcat tracks." "Now it's the ocean's waves." I'd lean down and whisper, "I see swirling sand at the beach." He grabbed my hand and put it on his head to shield the sun. Then he put it on his chest. He fiddled with my hair.
loving on Bear
Back in the day, turning 5

My cookie helper

Celebrating 7 with nana and babu

I listened to the pastor. He asked where we'd seen God in our world that week. I looked at the beautiful boy in my lap. The one who, church clothes and all, I had stand in my dry shower so I could trim his hair less than five minutes before we headed out the door to church. I thought of the clouds passing over our heads and his awareness of them and their majesty. The way nature points to God.

I thought of all the ways that the world kicked my butt this week and all the ways that God reminded me that there is beauty and good and love. Beauty, good, and love within me and around me, from me and for me.

It's not always easy to see. Good grief, is that the understatement of the century? Syria. Tumors. Job loss. Anger. Heart disease. Disappointment. Miscarriage. Loss. ISIS. Car wrecks. Rape. That list could go on and on and all too often it is on repeat in my brain. 

But the list of beauty can go on and on, too, and we can add to that list with our words, our actions, our lives. We can look up at the sky, marvel our little place in this grand world, and make this little patch of grass better. Make one person's day brighter. 

I highly recommend reading this, but more than simply reading, may we all ACT with as much love and money and compassion as we can possibly muster up. 

Will you join me in trying to brighten up your little patch of grass and one person's day? If you have ideas on how to help with the huge issues we are facing right now, Syria and ISIS come to mind first, please share in the links below. Thanks for reading and loving and acting in love.