a morning in January.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

It’s early. The horizon is just now turning pink, the dark canopy overhead fading to a moody blue-gray that is reflected on snowy field. Fire is noisily burning while oldest son occupies the choice seat on its hearth, reading Acts by the light of flicker and flame.

I sit with my journal, Bible, planner, and the laptop that gives me instant access to Naves and Strongs and countless translations. This is my routine, and while it is disrupted now and again, it’s the baseline I return to. I dump the noisy nagging of my brain onto planner and push it away — no more, be done, time for still. I open my journal and awkwardly pen “2022.” It’ll take approximately 11 more months for that to feel normal, just in time for “2023” to make its entrance. My journal has been woefully ignored this last year, and I am determined to recover that habit. I love to flip through the pages and be reminded of the prayers I prayed, the struggles large and small, the testimonies to accompany those. And so I write.

A head cold that passed quickly: thankful.
William’s knee, still sore and swollen: praying, asking.
Another regular school day dawning, the third in a row!: testimony

I am, of late, studying “peace” in the Bible. Today landed me in Romans 14, and so I read verses 17-19, read the chapter, check the Greek, read it in other translations. And I mull it over, deeply aware that whatever this all means, it’s attainable only through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The kingdom of heaven is never about what I bring, but about the supernatural move of God in my heart. I am struck by this. Yes, righteousness and peace and joy work themselves out through my doing and my decisions and my convictions, but those doings and decisions and convictions are not THE kingdom of God, but rather its outworking. The wellspring of life bubbling up within — that’s the precious thing. Lean into that. Guard that. Oh, for more and more of that!

Baby cries, little girls wake, and clock says it’s time for breakfast preparations. We will honor the Lord today in what we do, eating and drinking and working as unto Him, but with hearts that are hungry for His Kingdom come: Righteousness, peace, and joy in abundance.

my seven wonders.

There’s this idea in my head that I need to write more, as writing is such a large part of my life processing. But something about my current reality — the one where the limited time I have to my own musings is mostly consumed with Bible reading and prayer, and tackling actual life management strategies — comes crashing in to burst such bubbles.

Still. I wish I was keeping a better record here of words and pictures. There’s so much to make me smile and sigh and be thankful.

Today, as the cold nips my nose with the furnace cranked and fire blazing, a quick oldest-to-youngest sort of glance at the month so far. Perhaps when I’m finished, I will have mustered the courage to greet the sub-zero air head on for a brisk walk.

The boys and Ryan skied a new mountain this week, and I got this amazing photo from them. Ryan kept exclaiming to me that it was too amazing to even seem real, the stunning beauty all around them. Last night they arrived home late after four solid days of exertion, and they were a laughing, talking, inside-joking trio off MAN that made me smile. Life at home with the five younger ones had been simple and special, quiet and full of conversation relevant to my girls, but we missed these tall, loud, leave a wake wherever they go boys of ours.

Of course, they left the week we finally got real snow, and so I spent quite a few hours shoveling. Beatrice poked her head out the door: “Can I help you, Mom?” And so we shoveled together in the gathering dusk, watching the white snow turn to blue, pausing for conversation now and then, suddenly not minding how long the task was at all. I love her so.

And having left them home one evening, I returned to find this vignette: a girl and her baby. He’d been hysterical and she patiently held him minute after long minute until at last, he surrendered and slept. What a capacity this girl has for leading and caring with understanding. And so tender — ready to burst into tears when I got home because his sadness had broken her heart.

Cecily is growing before my eyes. Helpful, aware, conscientious, and the biggest eyes and ears as she takes in the world. She loves to get a laugh out of us and is generally successful in her humor. And oh my, she loves babies at a whole new level. Everywhere we go, she finds a baby to hold and love.

And this one? There are no words. She is non-stop, independent, always thinking hard and would prefer you to NOT get in her way. She sleds and plays as hard as any of them, tumbles and spills her way through life without skipping a beat. She’s sweet and sincere and so thoughtful, despite how impetuous she seems.

My baby and me. I don’t know who took this picture, or when, but I love seeing us together from someone else’s perspective. He runs now, and his top speed makes us just laugh and laugh. He loves his siblings and is another happy, loves-to-laugh kid in a long line of them. He’s losing his crazy chub but still is so fun to hold, when he allows that. Fortunately, although he’ll eat bowls and bowls of curry and rice, he mostly just loves to nurse, so for now… he’s my baby. We adore him.

book list in review!

I’m wrapping up the year in fits and spurts, and part of that, for me, is creating a new book list for 2022. I can’t wait to add titles and welcome any recommendations!

This past year I read:


Letters to the Church, 9/10


7 Men, 7/10


No Surrender, 8/10


Enchanted Air, 8/10


Bruchko, 10/10


First We Have Coffee (many-times-re-read!), 10/10


Wild Swans, 10/10 — BOOK OF THE YEAR


The Daughter of Time, 7/10


Life Not by Lies, 9/10


The Queen of Palmyra, 10/10


Fair and Tender Ladies, 9/10


Rebecca, 10/10


The Meaning of Marriage, 10/10


No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 1, 9/10


A Gentleman in Moscow, 7/10


God and the Transgender Debate, 9/10


Mama Bear Apologetics, 8/10


You Who (in progress — so far 9/10)

listening

It is early and yet dark.

The rooms are heavy in silence and I, the mistress, tiptoe as if intruder, hoping to pass through unnoticed, preserving the unbroken sound of nothing.

I raise light with an unspoken apology to Sleeping House, sliding dimmer slowly, barely, silently begging just enough glow to do my usual things.

Candles lit and set by the tree, Bible raised to their light so I might see the red letters waiting on page.

Still silent.

Glow of tree, flicker of flame.

And then, from deep within House, a stirring. Furnace moves air, warming this winter morning, wrapping my sleeping Babes in comfort, guarding between us and frozen chill.

That bulk of ancient metal parts, somehow it speaks poetry in the morning. I hear its low hum and swell with gratitude. I am cared for. I am covered. I am sheltered. I am warm. My soul fills with mercy of provision, gladness of thanks.

Listening, not merely hearing, and a soul catches Word spoken. Eternal wave of sound, echoing Life through the ages, if we would but still. Low hum stills my heart this morn, and in tender moment I cry silently: Oh, to hear the Word and catch it gladly, receive it readily, treasure it forever.

Percival is O N E

Percival Robert.

A whole year with you has passed, and again, I am in awe. How can twelve short months, a string of days, bring about so much growth in a baby? And how is it that you’ve only been here for a year — haven’t you always been a part of who we are? It certainly feels like that.

In the last six weeks you’ve figured out walking — from figuring out how to pick your feet up while standing (that was a big moment!) to walking as quickly as your bow-legged stance can handle. And it’s the cutest thing to see you suddenly arrive around the corner, fists up in the air for balance, wobbling at every turn. But I’ll admit, seeing the rolls on your arms and legs melt away with all of that walking made me sad. You’re growing — and growing up.

I loved this year with you, Percival. How many times did I just laugh over your rolls! And how delightful to see every one of your siblings immediately and completely fall in love with you. You still wake up each morning and from every nap to exclamations of your name as everyone pauses to smile in your direction. For many months, your morning routine was to want to be wrapped snug and tight, held with your head snuggled in my neck, while I walked and bounced around my room — and you’d quietly and quickly drift off to sleep. Oh, so sweet, and a moment in each day when it was just you and me. I cherish that.

Happy, smiling, already working so hard to get a laugh from your adoring fans. I think God’s idea of family is so amazing, as I see you confidently take your place in our world, knowing from the very start that you belong here, you are loved here, and all that we have is yours.

In another calendar change, you’ll be 2 — you’ll spend a few more months wrecking Enid’s play before you figure out how to constructively engage. You’ll figure out how to say “Mama” on purpose, and probably a good hearty “no”, too. We’ll freshen up our matchbox collection and maybe you’ll rediscover Jameson’s beloved trains. Whatever it may be, I’ll be here, soaking it up, wishing it could slow down, smiling at the simple fact that you are.

off and running!

Two weeks since the first day of school? How can that be! Surely it’s been months — or at the least, months’ worth of living!

Oh my, how we dove right into the fall: school books, new and old instruments, cooking lessons, birthdays, lunch dates, dinner guests, apple picking, Eisenhower Locks, dance classes, and special church events. Fortunately all to the tune of gorgeous weather, so at least I haven’t had to add “seasonal clothing switch” to the list quite yet!