forty.

40.

It feels like just a number, it feels like “the new 30,” it feels like I was just 20 and I still think I am. But the Psalmist says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Wisdom is to look that number right in the face and recognize: my years on earth are numbered, and they are fleeting. How will I live them?

This morning I ponder that, and my heart is stirred by the favorite scriptures that shaped me so many years ago, gave direction to my steps and fire to my soul. The grace of God in my early life looked like amazing men and women, among whom my parents stand out as chief, who lived and spoke these truths with zeal in their eyes and passion in their hearts. That living Word was passed on to me as treasure and life.

And so I share these today — a few passages and a song — because I am challenged again to live in the fear of the Lord, laying hold of wisdom for the next leg of my race. Maybe they will stir you afresh, too.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3)

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12)

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3)

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing You, Jesus
Knowing You
There is no greater thing
You’re my all, You’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love You, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know You more
To be found in You and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Knowing You, Jesus
Knowing You
There is no greater thing
You’re my all, You’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love You, Lord

Oh, to know the power of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like You in Your death, my Lord
So with You to live and never die
(All I Once Held Dear, Robin Mark)

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.”

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.

fruitful vines


Impressive grape vine, thick as trees, deep in our woods.

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house…”

This is a word picture that has gotten so stuck in my head over the years. An image that draws me, inspires me, stirs desire in me. There are short phrases peppered throughout scripture that reveal so much of what God has for us, and some mulling over and meditation can result in the discovery of untold depths.

Here I see the desire and design of God for a woman to be deeply planted, roots reaching sources of life unseen from the surface, allowing the life to bring fruit to her branches, and not just life and fruit, but the calling to be a constant source of life and fruit deep in the heart of the place she is called. From the inside out, the sphere of her calling is transformed and nourished and fed by her presence. She brings Jesus to the world.

(I am freshly meditating on this, as the call to abide was laid on my heart for this coming year. John 15 has been my passage of study, and the word “abide” traced throughout Scripture. What does it mean? How do I do it? So many thoughts…)

The best thing about this calling is that it’s not circumstantial. It has nothing to do with where you are or who you’re with or how life’s working out. In fact, if your sense of fruitfulness is dependent on any of those things, there is a deeper source of life you’re invited to tap into. And what does “fruitful” mean to you? I’m Type A. I’m hardwired to assume fruitfulness means my to-do list was impressive and all crossed off. But fruitful in the Kingdom means “I have accomplished the work which You have given me to do.” (John 17:4) The fruit that no circumstance can prohibit you from bearing, the life that you can bring to the very heart of your situation, most often looks like love joy peace long-suffering kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness self-control.

Oh, there are so many trails of Scripture this opens up, but today I just encourage you, as I strengthen myself in the Lord: Let the Holy Spirit make you a fruitful vine in the heart of your home. Let your roots find Jesus, and then bring Him to the world.

measuring time

“How long was God before He created the earth?” Beatrice asked the other day, and then answered her own question: “Oh! Ha! He never started, so how could you measure?” Time belongs to this Age and Era, a measurement that someday will be swallowed up in Eternity.

Here and now, we measure. We are finite. We wait, we dread, we long for, we hurry through, we wistfully recall. Time.

We have beginnings and ends. Right now, we are counting the weeks since #7’s beginning: twelve. I am counting down the days till the end of nausea, and maybe a bit more energy? We are tracking the growth of fingers and toes, amazed at the difference a week can make in that secret place. I am having to be creative in getting dressed each morning. The online counter says, “You may notice a thickening of your waist,” and I laugh. I passed that moment long ago. I am officially bridging the gap between high-waisted-jeans-that-were-comfy-but-aren’t and full fledged maternity options. Sometimes, measuring time happens right before our eyes. Crocuses burst, tummies grow.

And longer measures, too: a gold band that, nearly fifteen years later, is taking the shape of a man’s finger. No longer exactly round, but a unique circle that represents days and days of covenant growth. Words spoken from a black book that have slowly taken the shape of our unique lives, blended through joys and pains, agreements and not-agreements, and day after day of never looking back. I am his and he is mine, that band says, and fifteen years later the lines between us two are growing blurry. It’s a miracle that happened in a moment at an altar, but that is happening as we live it out. Measuring time. Things take time.