just life: two

Two is:

the number of pretty Eastern Bluebirds that perch on my birdhouse occasionally. Each time I see them, my breath catches at the delicate wonder of them. Perfect hues.

the number of flower-crowned princesses I found playing.

how many dolls are carefully arranged on bed each morning.

the chubby thighs, legs, feet on this doll.

the boys and the girls gathered by fire. School mornings are slow when the fire is warm!

the number of little girls playing on the floor while Mama rested on the couch during last week’s virus.

Two.

christmas time is here

The first week and a half of the much-anticipated Christmas season is already past. A month that is full of “musts”, and yet simultaneously is a blank slate each year, waiting for me, the Mama, to plot a course led by the Holy Spirit for this year. What will be the big rocks for this particular year? What are our hearts especially needing? What opportunities are arising that we are uniquely fitted to engage?

How can I help these little hearts see Jesus?

And so I try to listen to that small whisper, and we dance and celebrate and bake and read and play (and crash and repent) our way through these special days. We bring boughs and lights and most-special ornaments and figures into our rooms, and our everyday home becomes a place of beauty and celebration — and I remember how God Himself comes into the everyday place of my heart and makes it beautiful and heavenly, something altogether amazing.

So far, our month has included decorating, getting a tree, snuggles with Daddy, working on embroidery projects and other things, playing in fresh snow, Christmas concerts, outings, playing piano at a nursing home, and just enjoying candles and “special.”

ode to november

Some really don’t like November. It looks old and worn and cold and bare, I suppose, to some.

But I really really love November. It’s when the skies turn gray, the corn fields are golden stubble, and stark trees wave dark lacy branches. The palette turns soft and subtle. After a month of riotous color, quiet begins to slip in.

And I do love me some quiet.

Before we launch into this new month of celebration, a reflection on November and the fog, snow, super-moons, and beauty I managed to notice these past 30 days:

november 5

Oh, autumn. How I love thee.

This year, in no particular order, some of the moments to remember:


No words.


Finishing her second book


Nightgowns and little rocking chairs, favorite books and blonde ponytails.


The cutest profile ever made


Sudden warm days with favorite people


My favorite little-girl freckles on a sweet face that is getting older every day


A few days with special family


Running in long shadows of a fall evening.


Making wishes.


Two Papas to love


Discovering windows, watching the snow


The year’s first snowflakes


Dress up, always dress up


Our annual trek with these wonderful kiddos


This munchkin is more lovable every day


Making me laugh


One amazing sunrise…


After another.


Winter foods appearing


Gathering close in the dark evenings.


Making memories.

Memories of the special things, but most of all, memories of the everyday. That’s my favorite thing about fall: the memories I have tucked away of school on a blanket, altogether; of days falling into a rhythm of books and work and play; of lighting candles on the table each night just because it’s dark and we like cozy; of life together.

It’s so far from perfect — I am so far from perfect!! — but it is so rich.

october 6: girl’s day

Today was nothing special, really. Except it was.

The girls and I found ourselves alone at home, all of us at one stage or another of fending off or recovering from a cold virus. A bit tired, achy, and without much of a plan once my big boy helpers left!

But I had prayed early this morning, before I even knew exactly how things would unfold, “Lord, help me to just bring joy into this day.” There is always joy in following Jesus, so really, that prayer is simply, “Help me to hear and follow.”

It was just little slivers of sunshine, but it was so special.

The way three girls played and giggled (yes, three; Cecily loves to be in the middle of it all these days!) while I quickly made beds and straightened bedrooms and even organized my own winter clothes.

How Beatrice asked if they could paint, saw the “No,” forming on my face and pleaded, “It’s so easy, Mama! We can just get out a few things, and that’s all!” And so I said yes, and I was so glad I did. It was so easy. And it was in the warm, healing sunshine, surrounded by the rusts and golds and scarlets of autumn, all wrapped with a great big blue sky.

The way God brought autumn to me, despite my disappointment in not being able to go on our planned leaf-peeping excursions, by helping me to see the colors on my own acreage, quieting my heart enough to hear the scores and scores of geese flying overhead, and giving me a day free of obligations where I could just sit and read in that beauty.

How many chances there were to wrap my arms around each daughter, letting their tired heads rest on my shoulder. Feeling the sweet buttery chub of Cecily’s legs as she sits contentedly in my arms, happy to go or do anything with me. Beatrice laying with me on the couch, watching an old Ina Garten episode, and with shining eyes blurting out, “I just knew she was going to put the sausage in that pan!! I love cooking!”

The nudge I felt in that instant to shelf my plans of cereal or pb&j, and cook some dinner with my girls. Watching Beatrice push the chair from one side of the kitchen to the other, and back again, without missing a beat — so eager to be independent and figure this out. Fiona grating cheese (or maybe mostly eating?), while Beatrice cracked 6 eggs perfectly, while I just stood with baby on hip and oversaw and thought, This is perfect. I love this moment.

We lit candles and ate our potato and kale frittata with applesauce and laughed. We cleaned up quickly, and then made lunches for Friday School — all of us, including Cecily (of course) at the counter. Then clothes laid out, and pjs on.

Last, the quiet of Beatrix Potter in the comfort of their pillows and quilts.

Doesn’t that sound perfect?

Funny thing is that I know if you zoomed out a bit, you’d see the piles on the dresser, the peanut butter I probably missed on the counter, hear the squabbles that happen when two girls are too tired, see the laundry and notice I haven’t cleaned my bathroom this week. That was all there, too, today, but somehow there was grace to just focus on my portion for today.

And that is the way to live.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

october 2

October.

October.

Just trying to let that sink in.

Geese, by the dozens, fly in continual Vs overhead, winging their way to warmer climes. I stand and watch, following with my eyes until they are lost in thick gray clouds, and their loud honking gradually fades. Summer is flying away, fading quickly, lost somewhere in the cool mornings and scarlet maples.

Gone.

So, too, fly the moments of my days. Moments I want so desperately to fill with projects and accomplishments: garages emptied of broken sidewalk chalk and stray tire pumps, closets sorted and stocked with wool sweaters and neat oxford shirts, spiders seeking warmth in the corners of my kitchen ceiling given the boot. These are my morning dreams, but they fade, too, lost in the thickening activity and real needs of children and babies.

Funny. We are dream-clingers, aren’t we?

And I remember each day that He gives true joy — if I will just open up those white-knuckled fists of mine, let go of my own little dreams (of fewer dust bunnies, finished laundry, picture frames hung) and let Him fill my hands with His life. His dreams for today look more like hearts nurtured. The gospel shared through real life moments. Smiles, tears, firm looks, gentle hands. Baby carried. All day, carried.

His thoughts are higher than mine, His ways so much better. And this Heavenly Father — He invites me to come and share His dreams, to be a part of bringing them to pass.

Dreams that will not fade. Hope that is secure.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.”

*****

Dramatic autumn skies, perfect baby toes, and moments with these beautiful children: The Lord God made them all.