september 20

A little humor can go a long way, so I keep this certain image (recalled from a calendar growing up, perhaps?) tucked away. How many times has the late afternoon rolled over me and I can’t quite figure out exactly what we’re doing with this day, and forget the to-do list because somehow I can’t get above diaper changes — and this picture pops into my head, and I just laugh. How did Mary Engelbreit know I would look just like this so very often?

A little humor, a little serious: it never gets more than just “daily”. Sometimes we think it should. We wait for exciting Start Of Our Lives, which never comes. We wonder when that Calling From God is going to elevate our lives to awesome-status, and instead we just wake up every morning with bad breath and bedhead and an empty jar that is supposed to have coffee beans. There’s this one day where we’re just on the cusp, and everything is banging on all cylinders and we’re praying all day and managing the house like a whiz and kids are mastering math problems — but probably maybe definitely the next day you’ll wake up with a headache and have to take it down a notch or ten and remember that life really is just daily, and God likes to draw near to humble, broken people whose lives are no more spectacular than your ordinary Galilean fisherman’s, and this — your real life — is the stage for the glory of God to be shown. He loves to shine through broken earthen vessels. Don’t try to fancy-up the outside; just lean into Jesus and let His grace shine.

And He’s not picky. He’ll shine through on the most daily of days, the most mundane of moments, your weakest point. He’s not above miracles that look like a smile and kiss for the baby who won’t sleep, drawing bony boy shoulders close when frustration would push away, an unexpected wave of energy to greet your husband when you were near collapse. His miracles make daily life beautiful and glorious and redeemed.

Sunrises, babies that scoot, spontaneous happy play moments, neatly made bed + sunshine, pears that match, food that nourishes soul and body, finishing our first phonics book, learning about stars with Papa and his telescope.

september 6: starting school

Yesterday, we jumped back into the full swing of things.

Something about this year has my head swirling, nervous and excited, and I’ll confess that I had a hard time sleeping in anticipation of the First Day. Would it go okay? Did I think it through enough? Would they like it? Would it go hilariously awry or be tragically disastrous? (“Hilariously awry” is a pessimist’s attempt at positivity.)

It was great.

It’s a lot of work, isn’t it? It was after dinner before I caught my breath, and then wondered how on earth I ever fit anything else into life — including basic things like returning text messages! I did, however, get to shower before evening, so I’ll count that a big win for me. Jameson was, of course, excitedly pushing through as many math lessons as possible before I finally noticed he was still awake last night and sent him to bed. William loves a checklist and excitedly crossed almost every item off (I may have some pie-in-the-sky hopes for what we can do in a day. That will get reevaluated this week as we see how our rhythms really flow best.) And Beatrice, of course. “I can’t believe this is really my first day of kindergarten!” Then last night, getting ready for bed: “I can’t believe tomorrow will be my second day of kindergarten!” I wonder how long she’ll be keeping track?

And, in true homeschooling fashion, the boys even spontaneously spent the afternoon helping my dad with a project. Rocking real life is the name of the game, joyfully looking ahead to each day with a willingness to bend and bow and weave learning into the fibers of real moments.

We got to the end of our day, and they all played basketball and frisbee with so much joy for a few minutes before bed, and I felt so soul-satisfied. It is good to work hard, with abandon, at the will of God. One can’t measure success by “soul satisfaction,” of course, but there is fruit. It is deep calling to deep, echoing, “This is right, and this is good.”

Sirens, a rare occurrence in my part of the world, woke me long ago, and so I am up meeting the day, admiring lingering stars, savoring quiet. Maybe some of you are up, too, maybe getting ready to begin school at your house. Send students off for the first time. Or maybe there are no little pupils in your life yet, or anymore. No matter the season, this day is written in His book for you: Seek His face, say yes to His will, and therein find delight and fountains of life.

August 24

Time for change. That’s what fall is, isn’t it?

I step outside early in the morning, hoping to greet the sun as it rises. There is no hot, humid, heaviness as I open the door, only cool stillness. No matter that the forecast predicts nearly 90* this afternoon; for now, it is chilly. My hydrangeas are slowly turning shades of rusty peach, preparing for their autumn display of deep dusty pink. Geese suddenly appear from the horizon, honking their way south. Waves of nostalgia rush over me — sadness at leaving this summer behind, the sadness of countless others summers gone before. But the simultaneous anticipation of a new year beginning: new plans, new routines, new pencils, new charts. New tights and corduroys, new backpacks and lunch bags. Even better, old sweaters and favorite wool socks. This awaits us, and more.

Still, this summer with all of its firsts and adventures and laughter and spontaneous family moments — it is about to be packed away beside all the other treasures of my heart, memories that grow dim and fuzzy with age, but somehow form the fabric of family.

Anyone else slip into deep melancholy as the morning temperatures cool?


Last spring was a school semester spent welcoming a new baby, and it was everything wonderful. There is a time for everything, and the Lord really helped me to embrace a time for slow, a time for together, a time to sit and read. We did lots of our school work gathered together in the music room, just listening to Tom Sawyer, or The Odyssey, or The Bronze Bow. I watched from the window as the four children ran outside to play, having helped each other don winter gear. Math and handwriting and all those basics somehow got well covered, and we happily made our way till the end of the year.

But there were little sparks of ideas for what I would love to do this year, when perhaps our school time wouldn’t be so centered around Mama cuddling a new baby. This summer those ideas have been brewing and percolating, and being prayed over lots. What is the big picture for this year? I try to ask the Lord for His heart each year. Things as pragmatic as “reading out loud every day,” “learning to recite clearly while making eye contact”, etc. But things that go deeper, too (and often those pragmatic goals are just outworking of deeper things, like connecting one-on-one, cultivating confidence, equipping to interact with the world, hiding scripture deep in their hearts.)

This year, my over-arching desire is to tie heart strings.

I have had a picture in my mind’s eye since last winter of a gathering time each afternoon where I am doing something with all three (and maybe four, as Fiona simply won’t be denied!) children. That is their love language: Mama sitting, creating, involved, right alongside them.

My eldest son is growing. There are not so many moments left of me gathering my little chicks all in a row — sooner than I know, it will be time to let them experience independence in new ways. And so I am burdened to tie these heart strings good and strong. To look in their eyes and help their hands and spend time not just downloading information or training in chores, but with them.

So we will have fun. It will not always be easy fun — it just doesn’t work that way in real life. There will be babies crying and flour on the floor, thread tangled and fingers stabbed, messy hands and dinner burning. There will be days when our hearts are out of synch and grumpiness threatens every plan I made. But I am praying for the vision to press through all of that and teach them, in so doing, that opposition doesn’t have be the end of effort, and that they are worth it.


But for now, the last days of summer beckon. We’ll tie heart strings making chalk art, eating lunch outside, and taking spontaneous walks to the river.

August 15

That weekend sort of killed my daily writing thing.

But today is feeling all sorts of fresh week and new day-ish. Maybe because the first thing I saw was the chubby baby in bed next to me wide awake and beaming at me with so much love and joy — that’s a hard start to beat.

The weekend was:

— a few new bouquets from my (meager this year) August flowers — and such things used to be as “daily” as brushing my teeth, but this summer, remembering to cut flowers is suddenly an event to be celebrated!

— food, of course, including my new obsession: banana with salted cashews and unsweetened coconut. It’s almost as good as Kettle Cover salted caramel ice cream. (I’m such a liar, I know. But I’m pretending, okay?)

— an oldest son deciding to build the hand-me-down playmobil castle, which meant gluing pieces, finding directions online, and getting creative when pieces were missing. He literally spent all day working on it, and it was the best rainy summer day thing to do. It was all set up, at last, at nearly 10pm, and he was proud.

— being absolutely smitten by a delicious baby who is suddenly so old (for instance, sitting and playing in the family room all morning without any need for me!)

— being thrilled to see the rain clouds moving in, watering the thirsty earth. But catching some lovely sunshine here and there, too.

— deciding to just do it: empty the incredibly awful corner of chaos formerly known as the school cupboard, and start sorting. Three (3!!!!) huge trash bags later, we’re starting to make some progress toward an orderly beginning to a school year. (How do you just, you know, have three bags-worth of garbage just hanging out in your house??)

Okay. Photos are dumped; back to my regularly scheduled writing tomorrow.

an overview

The snow is long gone, though lingering days of cold have made the spring feel slow. No surprise, then, that I can’t quite wrap my mind around May. Well into the fifth month of this year that I thought just started.

Even more shocking is to look recently for a blog post I wrote a little while ago — only to realize it was 2.5 years ago already. And reading it over to realize, sure enough, there’s been a significant shift in this little [growing] family of ours: a shift from all littles to most definitely young men. Sleeves are still rolled, and I’m up to my elbows in the very real work of shaping young lives, but already there are glimpses of what will rise from these foundational years. I am, in very real and very practical ways, enjoying the fruit of days and days of digging in dirt. It’s happening: they’re growing up. Not just getting bigger — although oh my, the length of those legs and size of those feet! — but shoulders are broadening and starting to carry weight. Hearts are awakening and needing shepherding in deeper, slower, tender, firm ways. We have five children. Five! We are moving ahead. I think part of me always thinks life will settle back down and we’ll get back to “norma” — where my boys are forever little, stuffing pockets with who-knows-what and imagining themselves to be heroic explorers as they head off with a big stick and tri-corn hats. Where Beatrice never outgrows missing Rs and little girl cuddles.

We’re not going back to that. We’re not.

I could cry buckets about that. Knowing it goes fast, treasuring the moments, doesn’t slow life down. And it doesn’t mean you’re not sad to know those moments are gone.

But the path of the righteous shines brighter. We look ahead, not because it’s the only way to look, but because that’s where our hope lies. The morning sun dawns, and there is for that day an amazing promise of the presence of a faithful God. He leads us on paths of righteousness that are going somewhere. We live on this spinning planet, watching folly after folly unfold, knowing with King Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun — and yet, we are rescued from cynicism and fatalism by the Savior who has come to redeem. Now, tomorrow, and then. He is redeeming and making beautiful.

I see it in my growing sons. I see their minds growing and their words forming, their hearts widening and softening. I see it in my Beatrice who catches herself mid-sin and chooses to repent and turn — all on her own, because the Holy Spirit is her Shepherd, too. I see it in our marriage, blending us and tethering us and already forging something that could never be separated to the two parts we were ten years ago when we began. I see it in our lives, not because every day is easier (ha!), but because the light that leads us into the gathering dusk of this Age becomes more steady, more brilliant, more sure.


It’s always easier for me to look out and see redemption than it is for me to look in. If I catch a glimpse of my soul, I am quick to say, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And this will be a mountain I’m sure to circle again, a familiar foe. But becoming equally familiar are the truths the Holy Spirit equips me with to fight the good fight. Is it a coincidence that Philippians 1:6 was a favorite verse in my early childhood? No.

And He continues to pour truth into my soul.


We are running outside, soaking in life-giving green and the vast blue above. We are squealing at daffodils, celebrating bleeding hearts, dancing through dandelions. We are wearing sundresses and wool sweaters.

School books are nearly done, to be gladly replaced by more trail-blazing and swamp-searching, Huck Finn-reading, and Four Square-playing. (All that diligence in February pays off in the spring!)

Family came, playgrounds were visited, bagels consumed.

Meals have expanded beyond the early postpartum options of Main Dish Salad, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Repeat. Bread is made! –even if it is just the quick cheat kind, more often than not.

Colds are nursed, fevers tended to. Laundry is continually washed and dried, although less often folded and put away (got to figure out a better system for that.) Books are read, perhaps not on the couch cuddled under an afghan (as my idealistic self requires), perhaps while little girls sit in the tub, or while pb&j is being consumed. Correction is given, obedience required, kindness cultivated, anger and malice put aside. (Mine and theirs.)

And all the while, wrinkles appear on my face. Is it possible I’m this old? I’ve been too busy to have time to get older, but I guess that’s one thing that happens with no effort or intent on our part. Suddenly noticing that my hands don’t look 18 anymore — a quick reminder that life is short. Carpe diem. Give it all. This is my only chance to live, and give, today.


It’s November.

This blog-turned-family-journal is woefully behind. I thought once a month was bad. This once a quarter thing is really bad! Before a new baby comes and life takes turns that I can’t fully predict, some catching up:

September was warm and beautiful.

It was peaches and apples.

It was babies really starting to grow.

It was school! Rediscovering the magic of books, loving new math programs, discovering a whole new world called Ancient Egypt.

And it was Jameson turning nine. Nine.

A special shopping trip for taco fixings and ice cream cake ingredients and even lemonade. Lobbying to invite three friends instead of the customary two, and why not? Waking up with so much thankfulness for a day of forecasted sunshine. And finally, a yard full of running and laughing and ambushing and nerf-dart-shooting, light-saber-wielding boys and little sisters. Kind, happy, thoughtful young men.

We celebrated this boy who sits politely and listens intently as we share things we appreciate most about him. A boy who can think of nothing better than to share his candy with each birthday guest, even Mama and Daddy. Who bursts when he opens a sling shot and brand new fleece. Who stays up late poring over new books about Most Famous War Campaigns and How to Tie Knots and Severn Wonders and Famous Explorers.

He sings and hums his way through life. He cheerfully does any job asked of him and is growing to be not just a contributor, but a reliable and needed piece of this family puzzle. His eyes show love and concern for me, and the deepest of admiration for his daddy. He just likes to be with us and finding out he can go to work with Dad is the best news ever.

He’s playing piano and banging away on a new-to-us drum set (can you imagine how exciting it was to open those boxes??), reading the books I borrow from the library faster than I can pay the late fees to get more. He loves his soft and worn sweats and chamois shirt at home, and a tie and sports coat every chance he gets. His favorite outdoor activity is football, of course, because it’s football season and that’s how he rolls. Hands-on projects are his favorite, and sewing buttons is his newest skill set. He’s inquisitive, he’s sensitive, he’s loving and loves life.

More and more I truly mean that sharing life with him is a treat. I can’t believe I get to live all these years under the same roof with someone so great. Maybe the next 9 years will slow down a bit? Somehow I don’t think that’s at all how it works. So, fleeting as they may be, I will invest in these days together, by the grace of God.

I love this boy of mine.