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?

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.

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.

life at home: seeing increase

As the world is rocked and shaken by lives lost and fingers pointed and political plays or not-plays, I turn my eyes to the life here at my feet, inside my door, and find myself simply blessed. For weeks now I have been living a very simple life with seven people, most of whom can’t reach the top shelf of dishes, and I couldn’t be happier. This home, this atmosphere, is proving to my soul the goodness and faithfulness of God. He calls us to loosen ground, to fertilize, to plant, to water, to weed, to tend, and we do so as faithfully as we can, stumbling many days, aware of how not expert we are as garden-tenders. But we do it with hearts that are looking to Him to bring the increase. We trust that when He says we will reap, it will happen. We don’t always know when, but we know He is not like man, that He should lie. We trust Him.

And this month, as our wings are seriously trimmed and our lives never extend further than a walk down the road, I am seeing fruit. I’m not just seeing it, I am being fed by it. My soul is nourished by the joy, camaraderie, responsibility, servanthood, kindness, laughter, and just plain old enjoyment all around me. These aren’t things that come naturally to us as humans. They are the result of training and discipleship — both in me and in my children. And thirteen years later, as not only I but also my older children set the tone, I am astounded to see genuine and nourishing fruit.

This isn’t to say life is perfect, and that we aren’t continuing every day to water, weed, prune, and stake. We are. We must choose Jesus moment by moment, and sometimes we need a lot of help to get there. But I am saying, Fellow Parents!! Stay the course! Invest by faith! Man your post and allow your weakness to not be an excuse but an invitation for the strength of God! Stay humble and learn! We’ve been commissioned to make disciples, and He will equip us and bring us success.

There are seasons of toil and work and nothing to show for it. But – but! There is that cold spring day when snow has barely cleared the ground, and suddenly you spy with your little eye the faintest trace of pink, pushing through the ground — signs of life! It’s coming! Maybe your garden isn’t producing fruit quite yet, but oh, those leaf buds are so exciting. Notice them. Give thanks for them! And put your gloves on and stay in the game. Sow the Word, invest your life.

And put your trust in Jesus. He will not forsake us.

a culture of celebration

One of the words that Ryan recently used to describe our home culture was celebration. He laughed a bit and looked pointedly at my mom, who can turn anything into a celebration. (I will never forget, when I was around 5 years old, one particular “bedroom blitz” when, at the end of our 15 minutes, we were rewarded with ice cream served in little dishes right at our play kitchen table. I felt very celebrated!)

A culture of celebration is different than just throwing parties because parties are fun. Celebrating requires an object of celebration, and it confers value upon that object — whether it be the value of a person on their birthday, the completion of 13 years of school, or 15 minutes of hard and productive work.

Celebration is part of our home culture, but not just because I love to make my life complicated. Ha! No, celebration is a culture we learn from observing the Heavenly Kingdom. Reading the Old Testament makes clear that God understands the connection between celebration and value. Studying the glimpses we have of heaven reveals that celebration will go on forever!

And so we celebrate as a way to, with time and energy and creativity, point out what’s important.

Celebrations can be ever so simple. They need not require much money. But all celebrations require a bit of sacrifice, because that time and energy and creativity has to come from somewhere, and chances are, you don’t have any of those things lying around in excess. There are some seasons when I have had more of those things to give than others. New babies, fledgling businesses, and sickness all come to mind. There have been times when the weight of life — incredible grief and heaviness of soul — have tempted me to skip the traditions of rejoicing. But those are the times when a culture of celebration bolsters. Celebrating isn’t just having a party; it’s reminding others as well as our own souls of what matters most. (Does grief matter most? Disappointment?) The celebration might be smaller when life is demanding, more creative when managed by a mother in bed with illness or a baby, but it can still exist. It might take unusual twists and turns when we’re, say, sheltering in place, but sometimes those become our most memorable celebrations! No matter the method, our souls need to remember what we’re valuing.

So this week we’ve been celebrating (because really, all the preparations for the celebration are part of it!) We’ve paused the usual school routines and made room for sending cards, making foods, prepping clothes, and special moments as a family. More than any other celebration, this week deserves every communication we can offer of its worth. Jesus, crucified, resurrected, and forever victorious. The Holy Spirit, poured out on us. The Father, inviting us into His presence with arms wide open. This is everything, and so we celebrate.

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.