autumn: a list

(For Tea and Poetry this afternoon, I read a couple of poems but then had the school-aged kids make lists of words describing autumn. Here’s Jameson’s.)

bright
cool
crisp
colorful
big sky
brown
crunch
clouds
contrast
orange
leaves
football
pigskin
ears so cold
early nights
hunting
candy
tricks
treats
walks
school stress
chili
pie
apple
pumpkin
warm clothes
fires
cornbread
spice cake
snow
breakin’ my back shoveling
TV
coffee
thanks

the march of time

I drove him to the town office, where he knew all the answers and had all his paperwork, and I simply stood by, wondering when he got old enough to manage so well on his own. I walked beside him, aware of his height and confident stride, as he showed me the hunting blind he and my dad worked so hard at preparing. I heard the shot that belonged to him, and took the phone call minutes later when his deep voice proudly let me know, “I got a deer, Mom.” Just yesterday he was a baby. My baby.

She came out crying, clearly upset and needing Mama. Ryan gave up his spot, and she quieted right down in my bed. I could have stared at her little lips, her little nose, all night. Her sweet hands, her quiet breath. The littlest one, with so much energy and personality, who has captivated all of us for over two years. About to become an older one, the baby no longer. How did that happen so fast?

Sunday reflections

8:00, Sunday morning. Ryan and I are sipping coffee and eating breakfast by lamplight as rain pours down. Kids are all asleep, and I’m wondering how long I can let this quiet continue before we risk being late for church. Good for now, I decide.

We were both awake early. Enid came into our bed at some point and always nestles right up against me — or maybe she’s trying to oust me and take over my spot. She talked in her sleep, and I tried to ignore her and find my way back to slumber, but this belly and restless legs and a baby kicking me from the inside while another pushed against me from the outside… And a million things racing through my brain. Calls to return. Projects to move forward on. Curriculum to buy. Birthdays to prep for. One more week till school. Growing children to make room for, spread banquets for, lay hold of Jesus for. And so I tiptoed to the kitchen in pitch black, lit candles and brewed coffee, and did a brain dump.

Sunday. What has been one of the most predictable days of the week my entire life has this year become a roller coaster of phases and mandates, with my thoughts and emotions following right alone. I miss being all together. Some people I haven’t seen in nearly 6 months. The ones I see now are half hidden by masks, our conversations cut short by kids who wander and need to be re-masked. It’s been strange, for sure. But the rumbling thought in the back of my mind is the solid promise of God: I will build My Church. This isn’t a social club we’re desperately trying to hold together. It’s not a government program we’re hoping will survive. It’s a move of God that has continued for over two thousand years, regardless of persecution or war or famine or peril, no matter which kingdoms rise and fall.

And so this morning, even as we rally ourselves for another strange Sunday, I am reminded that where two or more are gathered, He promises to be. He dwells in the praises of His people. He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, filling out sons and daughters. And I can be glad, very glad, when they say to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord today.”

Lastly, some pictures, because August has been full:

a week away

Last week, there were long days of hot sun, just perfect for a week away at the lake. Today, I wake to cool air and rain, the sound of geese filling the sky, and a sunrise that is growing tardier by the day. Everyone I talk to says the same thing: What a strange year, and how can it be the end of summer already? Somehow, in the midst of Phase 1-4 and canceled festivals and family vacations gone awry and summer camps 6′ apart or not at all, Time kept moving. July is July, I guess, whether we travel as usual or not. Summer happens, with or without swimming lessons. School must resume, even if it seems that wasn’t quite the break we had planned. Strange or not, this is the year we are living. And I know I sound like a broken record, but isn’t it awfully good to realize that while a sense of normalcy may be tethered to Maine and theater camp, God is not? Nothing surprises Him, nothing deters Him. Plan A is still being executed: He will dwell in our midst, and His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Period.

And so, feelings aside, I set my hands to school preparations, tying up the loose ends of summer and thinking ahead, at least a bit. (Who can think ahead too far? This hasn’t been the year for such things.)

But I can’t help, as the sound of coffee grinding fills my kitchen early this morning, reminiscing about coffee made and enjoyed on the lake, the summer days we were given, and already wishing to go back.

June is bustin’ out all over

Every year, I swoon over June. How could you not? The brown and bare earth breaks out into shades of brilliant emerald. Dainty buds of promise suddenly erupt into blooms of deep purple, golden yellow, delicate pink, rich magenta. Skies are high and blue. The sun’s brilliance lights up the early morning and late evening and invites you to live the day full and strong. Books begin to close and and kids run free. Screen doors slam and sunscreen is slathered. Bikes and chalk and basketballs and sprinklers. The intermittent cool day that (if I’m honest) becomes the highlight of my week because I can garden and work without the full heat of summer.

June doesn’t hold back. Halfway through, and I already can barely recall the beginning. So many full days: house projects continue. A new niece to welcome. Finishing an intense sprint of store redesign and renovation. Church opening back up, a bit at a time. Visits from out of town sister. Zoom piano recital. New perennial bed turned and planted. Three meals every day, eight sets of clothes (at least) to launder every morning, the never-ending list of little homemaking tasks that wait for school’s end.

Children growing by inches, literally, before my eyes. Pressing into Jesus together, knowing we need Him so very much. Praying with young men who have become humble wisdom-seekers. Answering the four year old who wants to know, through tears, “how can I ever do nothing wrong?” and assuring her that’s exactly why Jesus came. Feeling my human limitations when trying to keep up with the two-year-old’s training, tired and stretched and knowing that there is grace for me to lay hold of. Heading into summer’s carefree days and knowing that freedom is the power to do what one ought, not simple slipping into lazy waste of days, and praying for wisdom to lead my brood into restful joy and growth.

Bustin’ out all over. In me, too? I pray yes. Pray that all of this showing up every morning, asking for help moment by moment, praying through national issues too big for me to even understand and dealing with little hearts too deep for me to plumb will result in growth in me, too.

May’s end

Oh so cold for oh so long, and suddenly, pass the lemonade and I’ll be at the pool: this is North Country weather, and it keeps us on our toes.

Wrapping up regular days of school, getting things crossed off, watching the calendar slowly morph into the beckoning adventure of summer living.

Weeding and mulching the tiniest signs of life, and within weeks, seeing those empty spaces filled with unfurling leaves, spring’s flowers, and June’s buds.

Every day somehow so very busy with the next thing for so many projects — in the house, in the yard, in the business. What’s next? I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, somewhere.

Slowly loosening up. Seeing a few familiar faces and itching for carefree gatherings, for stores with doors open, for a haircut and soon a summer pedicure? Praying we can all rebound.

Watching space shuttles launch and buildings collapse in flames all on the same day, the kids’ eyes large and trying to understand. Confusion and tears and sweet innocence wondering how these bad things happen? How easy it is to wonder, except, of course, an honest look into our own hearts, knowing there is none righteous, not one, and our violent, hateful, screaming, rioting, weeping world needs Jesus.


watching Jon, a favorite activity




She turned two!



A little history display night, and these kids did such a wonderful job.





So much sister-life, all the time. Brothers, too, but harder to catch on camera!


A strange Memorial Day with no ceremony, but still a pause.


Watching the green appear on my morning walks.


This girl, growing so tall and seeing young lady begin to appear.


May’s flowers, inside all the time.



Living that bagel life.


William mowed a maze in the field, and if you squint, you’ll see kids everywhere, running and laughing.




New gardens, old gardens, I love gardens.