And then there are my girls. I have so much I could say, and will another time. But for now, their days together are so perfectly summed up in this little video I managed to snatch the other day. Oh, it made me smile to walk in and find them making music together! The little girl-tribe, finding joy and friendship in one another each day. Their hearts find fullness, yes, but aren’t the rest of us the blessed ones, to be living around the bubbling-over fount of joy?
There’s this idea in my head that I need to write more, as writing is such a large part of my life processing. But something about my current reality — the one where the limited time I have to my own musings is mostly consumed with Bible reading and prayer, and tackling actual life management strategies — comes crashing in to burst such bubbles.
Still. I wish I was keeping a better record here of words and pictures. There’s so much to make me smile and sigh and be thankful.
Today, as the cold nips my nose with the furnace cranked and fire blazing, a quick oldest-to-youngest sort of glance at the month so far. Perhaps when I’m finished, I will have mustered the courage to greet the sub-zero air head on for a brisk walk.
The boys and Ryan skied a new mountain this week, and I got this amazing photo from them. Ryan kept exclaiming to me that it was too amazing to even seem real, the stunning beauty all around them. Last night they arrived home late after four solid days of exertion, and they were a laughing, talking, inside-joking trio off MAN that made me smile. Life at home with the five younger ones had been simple and special, quiet and full of conversation relevant to my girls, but we missed these tall, loud, leave a wake wherever they go boys of ours.
Of course, they left the week we finally got real snow, and so I spent quite a few hours shoveling. Beatrice poked her head out the door: “Can I help you, Mom?” And so we shoveled together in the gathering dusk, watching the white snow turn to blue, pausing for conversation now and then, suddenly not minding how long the task was at all. I love her so.
And having left them home one evening, I returned to find this vignette: a girl and her baby. He’d been hysterical and she patiently held him minute after long minute until at last, he surrendered and slept. What a capacity this girl has for leading and caring with understanding. And so tender — ready to burst into tears when I got home because his sadness had broken her heart.
Cecily is growing before my eyes. Helpful, aware, conscientious, and the biggest eyes and ears as she takes in the world. She loves to get a laugh out of us and is generally successful in her humor. And oh my, she loves babies at a whole new level. Everywhere we go, she finds a baby to hold and love.
And this one? There are no words. She is non-stop, independent, always thinking hard and would prefer you to NOT get in her way. She sleds and plays as hard as any of them, tumbles and spills her way through life without skipping a beat. She’s sweet and sincere and so thoughtful, despite how impetuous she seems.
My baby and me. I don’t know who took this picture, or when, but I love seeing us together from someone else’s perspective. He runs now, and his top speed makes us just laugh and laugh. He loves his siblings and is another happy, loves-to-laugh kid in a long line of them. He’s losing his crazy chub but still is so fun to hold, when he allows that. Fortunately, although he’ll eat bowls and bowls of curry and rice, he mostly just loves to nurse, so for now… he’s my baby. We adore him.
The sun keeps rising and setting, the earth spinning over and over again. Seasons repeat in their familiar pattern, life in its age-old way. You could certainly say, There is nothing new under the sun.
And yet, there is: the mercies of God, fresh, clean, enough, every morning. God is a God of faithfulness, unchanging and certain. And yet, He is a God of new — and one day He will make all things new, but for now, we delight in the glimpses of that “new”. We could miss it, dismiss it, be bored and tired and uncaring, or we can notice and delight and be refreshed.
New: the theme I couldn’t help but see in the recent weeks’ photos.
New bathroom, so close to done.
New shoes needed, and the sweetest note.
New opportunities for a new generation of worshippers.
New babies to love.
New discovery in our backyard of new birds.
New bows made by friends.
New treasures for Mama.
8:00, Sunday morning. Ryan and I are sipping coffee and eating breakfast by lamplight as rain pours down. Kids are all asleep, and I’m wondering how long I can let this quiet continue before we risk being late for church. Good for now, I decide.
We were both awake early. Enid came into our bed at some point and always nestles right up against me — or maybe she’s trying to oust me and take over my spot. She talked in her sleep, and I tried to ignore her and find my way back to slumber, but this belly and restless legs and a baby kicking me from the inside while another pushed against me from the outside… And a million things racing through my brain. Calls to return. Projects to move forward on. Curriculum to buy. Birthdays to prep for. One more week till school. Growing children to make room for, spread banquets for, lay hold of Jesus for. And so I tiptoed to the kitchen in pitch black, lit candles and brewed coffee, and did a brain dump.
Sunday. What has been one of the most predictable days of the week my entire life has this year become a roller coaster of phases and mandates, with my thoughts and emotions following right alone. I miss being all together. Some people I haven’t seen in nearly 6 months. The ones I see now are half hidden by masks, our conversations cut short by kids who wander and need to be re-masked. It’s been strange, for sure. But the rumbling thought in the back of my mind is the solid promise of God: I will build My Church. This isn’t a social club we’re desperately trying to hold together. It’s not a government program we’re hoping will survive. It’s a move of God that has continued for over two thousand years, regardless of persecution or war or famine or peril, no matter which kingdoms rise and fall.
And so this morning, even as we rally ourselves for another strange Sunday, I am reminded that where two or more are gathered, He promises to be. He dwells in the praises of His people. He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, filling out sons and daughters. And I can be glad, very glad, when they say to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord today.”
Lastly, some pictures, because August has been full:
Last week, there were long days of hot sun, just perfect for a week away at the lake. Today, I wake to cool air and rain, the sound of geese filling the sky, and a sunrise that is growing tardier by the day. Everyone I talk to says the same thing: What a strange year, and how can it be the end of summer already? Somehow, in the midst of Phase 1-4 and canceled festivals and family vacations gone awry and summer camps 6′ apart or not at all, Time kept moving. July is July, I guess, whether we travel as usual or not. Summer happens, with or without swimming lessons. School must resume, even if it seems that wasn’t quite the break we had planned. Strange or not, this is the year we are living. And I know I sound like a broken record, but isn’t it awfully good to realize that while a sense of normalcy may be tethered to Maine and theater camp, God is not? Nothing surprises Him, nothing deters Him. Plan A is still being executed: He will dwell in our midst, and His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Period.
And so, feelings aside, I set my hands to school preparations, tying up the loose ends of summer and thinking ahead, at least a bit. (Who can think ahead too far? This hasn’t been the year for such things.)
But I can’t help, as the sound of coffee grinding fills my kitchen early this morning, reminiscing about coffee made and enjoyed on the lake, the summer days we were given, and already wishing to go back.
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.