diving back in

Sometimes there’s no sense in trying to catch up.

That weighs on me and the uneasiness settles into a feeling of loss — but no. I was there, they were there. We lived fully, and the individual days, while perhaps now disappearing behind a haze of frail memory, left their lasting etchings on us, shaping minds and hearts and character and talent and our lives’ trajectories.

Always, always, I’m going on about Time and transience, the sense of catching clouds and sand between fingers. But can it be said enough? Can anyone understand and reconcile that these things are so: that no matter how tightly we cling, a moment is over in 60 seconds; that no matter how precious and seemingly a very part of our own living and breathing souls, Death brings an ending that cannot be rewritten here on earth; that the sweet, laughing baby I held onto every day for as long as I could still changed before my eyes into a man, a man about to leave the rhythm of every day togetherness?

These things grip me as I scroll through a sadly scarce collection of pictures taken over the past 6 months. Well, scarce in some ways (photos worth keeping), profuse if you don’t mind 127 blurry close ups of Percival’s pb&j crust or a flattering view of my nostrils as I read out loud to Enid. I will spend a few minutes being amused by those as I delete delete delete.

So while I want to back track and make my foggy memory recreate the details of each event since last spring, that just won’t happen, can’t happen. Here we are, ready or not:

March of 2024 finds me with a baby who is nearing her first birthday. She is absolutely the apple of our collective eye. We have Jameson’s college acceptance letter on the fridge, the symbol of independent resourcefulness and determination that resulted in a successful audition. My grandmother moved in with us in February after losing my grandfather at the end of January. The boys finished a season of basketball — a lot of fun to see them do that together, encouraging each other and giving each other feedback, and making it all the way to the championship game (which they sadly lost!). We all went to the last few games, cheering them on and enjoying their success as a family. The big girls are doing dance again this semester. Friday Enrichment Program has been a success, and Enid excitedly joined the ranks of Dunphey students this year. She’s been a brilliant student at home, cheerful and excited and sharp as a tack. Percival has entertained us all as he has grown in his imagination and love for dress up. He is seldom without his wooden sword or cowboy hat and pistol or a couple of Playmobil knights in his pockets. The girls are taking piano lessons from me, with an occasional advisement from one of our favorite neighbors. The boys are taking lessons from my dad — how lucky are they? William is part of a biology class, Jameson works for Ryan, and there is no shortage of church activities and friends to see. There is continual laundry and cleaning and meal planning and groceries.

Along with a full to overflowing family hive of activity, I have spent more time than ever being Ryan’s helpmeet in his role as business owner. That demand has taken many different shapes over the past year, but suffice to say: there hasn’t been much time for me to write. Or take pictures. Or play piano or read books or clean up my gardens or much extra!

And in the speed and flurry of it all, I want to grip tightly, but I am continually asked by the Holy Spirit to open my hands. The goal is not to keep 8 children for myself; the goal is to live faithfully each day, being discipled and making disciples. Today doesn’t look like yesterday — it can’t. Life changes. I find my faith challenged by that, and come face to face with the fact that maybe there’s a part of me that puts confidence in 30 year old energy, and wavers when that energy is 43 years old. As overwhelmed and exhausted as I was back then, in hindsight it looks “safe.” Comfortable. As though somehow the fruit being borne today has to do with simple and quiet days with just littles, and not with the fact that God showed up in His faithful way.

He’s calling me out again onto deep waters, and I’m having to work hard and show up for the job and creatively problem-solve — but ultimately I have to walk on water because I know none of that is enough. God is at work through ME, yes, but the confidence is that GOD IS AT WORK.

And while I might get caught up with worrying that this newest batch of seedlings doesn’t have the exact same environment as my first batch, God is holding out the first juicy fruit of those initial years of labor, saying, “Taste!! Isn’t it amazing?! Aren’t these young men and women amazing?” Every sign points to His faithfulness, and so I head out further along this path of life, of motherhood, of being a wife, of discipleship, and though the landscape changes and I may sort of wish we could go in familiar circles, there is here and then there the markings of a Faithful God, always ahead of me, knowing the way and pointing the way — and also right beside me.

My confidence is in Him, after all. It was and it yet must be. THAT, after all, is the fruit I want to see.

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