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.”

october 11

“Be hopeful, be holy, be fearful, be loving.”

I think that’s what it was, the way my brother summed up 1 Peter 1. And all of those things — they just spring from the reality of a new birth, a new identity, a new home. Because the life of Jesus changes us.

I just think that’s awesome.

Life is full of pressure, moment by moment, wave after wave. And we who know Christ, we have grace in those moments and waves. Salvation doesn’t rescue us from the experience of hardship, but it invites a miracle in the midst of it.

That amazes me.

These and other 1 Peter thoughts are regularly filling my heart, as our church goes through 40 days of study together. The Word of God is life and it is strength.


October is spectacular. You don’t have to go anywhere, either; it’s an art gallery that comes right to your door, if you’ll just stop to notice.

Seriously. No filter, because who needs a filter in NNY in the fall?


This past summer I read Proverbs 31 many times over. I’m always inspired by that passage, and always somehow amused, too. This amazing woman’s life was so… ordinary! But in turn, those verses elevate my ordinary (at best, drudgery if I’m grumbling) to spiritual. I need that sometimes. So on Friday afternoon, when I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a house tidied by somebody else and a meal started by somebody else, I instead looked around and saw virtuous labor happening: clothing my household well, bringing food from afar (isn’t “Afar” so much more exotic than “Aldi”?).

I bet you’re in the middle of virtuous work, too. Don’t despise the laundry piles. Dig in and realize you’re a woman of great worth. It’s not drudgery. It’s the high call of God, and it’s serving the least of these.



They require time.

I know that’s not rocket science or earth shattering revelation. But I read it again in a book last night and it was like a smack to my forehead. DUH. You have a baby, Danica.

There’s this subconscious expectation, I think, that because I’ve been around this baby block a few times, and because I have so many others to care for as well, I’m going to be super efficient this time around. I’ll be multi-tasking like a ninja and barely missing a beat no matter how many eye teeth are popping through.

But it turns out, this is Cecily’s first time around the block, and she’s not really into efficiency. She’s sweet and happy and really not altogether that demanding, but she’s a baby, and babies just need time. Real time. As in, they will eat up moments and hours of a day, and you will never see those moments or hours again.

Do you know how good that is for me? It’s hard enough to slow down and notice, to remember the little details of our days and the special interactions with each of my children. If I was racing through the way I think I’d like to, I would miss the whole thing in a blur of productivity. What a shame! What a grievous thing that would be! But in God’s perfect plan, these delicious babies slow us way down, sometimes to a grinding halt for days on end, and we breathe deeply and see clearly and hear attentively and can actually do our job. We can tend the souls of our children.

This is still a hard one for me on many days, but also something I am so deeply grateful for. God’s ways are so much higher than ours, and perfect. Absolutely perfect.

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



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.


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.

August 2nd

Yesterday while I was out mowing, I decided that’s it — I’m going to post something every single day and get my writing muscles working again.

And now I’m laughing, because I didn’t even last one day into August.

Does anyone else have amazingly grand productive thoughts while showering or mowing or sitting and nursing the baby? You think, look how happy everyone is. As soon as I’m done here, I’ll just slip out and do XYZ. How hard can it be?

I’m trying to just laugh.

And so the summer has slipped by. Day after day of living, woven into the fabric of our lives and into who we’re becoming.

One sentence for each month I’ve missed, and a photo, for brevity’s sake:

June was a month with Daddy — 30 wonderfully full and rich days off from work!

July was quintessential summer, with swim lessons and parades and friends and even a few nights with the Sinclair clan at my parents’ house.

My life lessons have, I’m sure, been many. Mostly feeling the Holy Spirit pry my fingers off [what seems like] the last little bit of control I’ve tried to maintain. Slowly He’s brought me to waters too deep for me to stand, and I’m having to trust that He’ll hold me. It’s messier and crazier and my brain is zanier than what I think should be — but then, is it? Maybe that’s just me, standing by and panicking a bit because I’m not in charge. Not that I would ever do that.

What I know is this: I have a Shepherd who promises to lead me, and these little lambs are the apple of His eye. That is a good place to be.