the blur of July

What a month this has been, with one more packed week planned! My body is exhausted, my brain on overload, and my soul on the wild ride of so many emotions related to pregnancy, being a mother, being a friend, being a sister and daughter, being a citizen. Every aspect of my identity has been touched by joy and sadness (and several waves of anger and frustration, too), and I find these morning times of quiet and eye-fixing are, again, an anchor.

“…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

“…nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

I am a one day at a time kind of girl. And each morning, as I’ve listed priorities and remembered commitments, sifted through decisions and been fully aware that there is more to the day than I can handle, I am refreshed in the simple truths of daily bread and Jesus’ presence. He is good.


The Fourth: No parade, but nonetheless, celebrated. It’s always a good time to discuss history, culture, and worldview, but probably this year is a “more than ever” time.


Spontaneous picnic on a Sunday with no meal plan. Ryan can be counted on for summertime excursions that leave everyone happy and loved.


A week away from home while renovation progress happened. Rest, focus, play, togetherness.


May and June’s labors paying off with still-green gardens moving into the next phase of blooms. Perennials are just such a great picture of “invest now, enjoy later.”


Meals continue, made cheerier with two antique bowls now in my possession.


A decade came to an end: our neighbors, who moved in only months after we moved here, bought a larger house and moved away. What a gift those ten years were!


Trying, in the midst of topsy-turvy days, to not miss the fleeting pleasures of summertime.


Weeks and weeks of kids sleeping on the floor, on mattresses, on couches. This little one, reading quietly to her dolls and animals, is the sweetest.

This weekend, two out of three bedrooms [nearly] finished and moved into, thanks to hard-working sons, baby-sitting daughters, happy-to-eat-pb&j husband, and hours of “The Chicks”, Dolly Parton, Shania, and Hamilton. Boys are so blessed to have a thoughtful, finished room. Cecily was inspired to actually fold her clothes without me asking. Kids love a clean, organized, pretty space — that’s one thing I learned from my mother and it’s absolutely true. It’s also true that they all knew to interpret my months of effort collecting and planning and executing on these as love and care for them. I love that!– because it’s true. One more bedroom and a complete bathroom reno, coming right up. And then there will be a place for everyone, and also everything will be in its place (and yes, there is a massive purge happening as we go. Kids can be such hoarders!)

But we will pause at this point for now, and enjoy a few days with my family — days that were meant to include two out-of-town sisters, whose presence was suddenly made impossible due to government mandate. Picking up the pieces of disappointed hopes and expectations, we will spend a few days in eating, playing, singing, and just being.

“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You
Through it all, it is well with my soul.”

a tent-living God

Oh my, what a plate-spinning summer this has turned out to be! In the midst of a strange year, there continues to be no shortage of decisions to make and ground to take. I am, not surprisingly, more cut out for the quarantine kind of living than I am the crazy that summer has brought, but I am grounded by this amazing truth: He never changes! And because He never changes, His ultimate call on my life never changes, either. Regardless of the shape any given day may take, there are certain things that stay the same: Called to know Him and love Him with all that I am. Called to serve and love others as myself. Called to nurture my children and teach them of the love of God as we walk, talk, and carry on with whatever life may look like. And that calling is possible each day. Nothing separates me from my ability to do those things, because the grace of God equips me. My times are in His hands.

I read today about David’s desire to build a permanent residence for the ark of the covenant, and God’s answer was kind along the lines of, “Hey, have I ever complained about tent-living?” Why a tent, I thought? Why, indeed, except to convey this message: My Kingdom and My glory are not contained or limited to a place, or a system, or a routine, or a favorite and familiar morning pattern. My desire is to be among you, in the midst of each day, each season, available and near.

He doesn’t live in fully-attended Sunday morning services. His presence isn’t unlocked by coffee in a certain mug at a specific time and only if all the children are sleeping. His wisdom led you yesterday, but it’s available today, too, when suddenly the path takes a sharp twist that you never saw coming. When every week of July and August are something different on the family calendar, and the kids are all sleeping on the floor because their bedrooms are torn apart with renovation, and the bathroom is nothing but studs and exposed electrical, and a seventh baby is growing and sapping strength (or is it that I’m nearing 40, and that is a reality my body isn’t accustomed to?), and an oldest boy is heading into high school and I’ve never done that before — He hasn’t changed, the high call of God in Christ Jesus is still the same, and His grace is sufficient for every need I didn’t even know existed until it hit me.

Will schools open? Will the economy recover? Will we all be okay? Can someone tell me what next week will hold?

Good news: No matter what the answer to those questions and so many others may be, He will walk with us. His presence will be in the midst. He will overcome and He can make us stand. We can be not just unafraid, but confident.

No wonder Proverbs 31 Lady can laugh at the future: She walks with her God, and knows that the unknown future is held by a known God.

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.

home, and that’s okay.

There isn’t much in my planner that needs to be crossed off at this point. After a couple weeks of frantic canceling, the little white squares just stopped filling up with places to go, and zoom calls took their place. But tonight still says, “Academy Night,” the end of the year spring concert and presentation for our homeschool group. And the next 2+ weeks have a big long arrow through them with large letters that say, “EUROPE!”

I thought that by today, my bedroom would house two carefully packed, correctly sized carry-ons, filled with clothing appropriate for the weather in Paris, Florence, and London. I thought that in two days, we would leave our little clan with my parents and fly away, just Ryan and me, a “real” vacation for the first time in…well, ever. The first “for fun” travel I would ever do. It was too good to be true, and so the glass-half-empty me has to laugh a little. But the grounded in Jesus me smiles and says, it’s okay. My cup overflows. OVERFLOWS.

being present

Saw this today. Thought, YES. A thousand times, YES.

We read a lot about being present. Showing up for our own life. Setting down the phone and looking into someone’s eyes. Pausing the housework for long enough to notice your baby before they’re walking out the door to their first job.

Be present.

Trouble is, we want to be present in a world that isn’t real. We want to show up for a dream life that doesn’t exist.

I want being present to always look like reading a favorite book with a sweet child nestled in my lap. I want it to be taking a walk while we hold hands. I want there to be candles and joyful laughter but quiet when I’m tired. I want us to listen to classical music while we study paintings together and have a deep conversation. Movie nights and board games and make-your-own-pizza in a perpetually clean kitchen.

What it really looks like is putting the laundry down to help with a shoe. Inviting the toddler to pull up a chair even though dinner is already late. Stopping your racing brain to realize your son is telling you about all the nicknames for Japanese fighter jets and it matters to him. Setting a timer for 5 minutes and all chipping into pull the house together, and then sharing a deep sigh and some high fives. And over and over, more times than you can count, it’s not ignoring the tantrum or eye roll or sibling bickering, but pressing in and dealing with it, no matter how much you want to pretend you can’t hear it from the laundry room.

Welcome to the real world. The best part about this world is that it’s the one Jesus came to save, and it’s where His Spirit is moving. He’s not so much into instagram fantasies. But this one — the one with noses that run and math that needs a mom and 4-square that sure could use a fourth man — this one He’s all in for.