Not Yet, Spring

As I was out with my children yesterday, I noticed the trees in bud along the road beginning to blossom. Half-open pinks and whites heralded the awakening of spring and new life. Joy and beauty bloomed before my eyes. But my heart wasn’t ready to see it. With a pang I thought, “No! Not yet! It’s not time!” The reaction startled me. Every winter I long for spring and I rejoice with the green and gold and dappled things. But it’s mid-February—these things are out of season. And my heart is grieving. Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound. Proverbs 25:20, NLT The […]

Harsh Light

I normally love the bright glow of the late afternoon sun as it falls pleasantly over the countryside and streams through my windows, but today I noticed a harsh reality: the same golden light that brightens the goodness outside also highlights how dirty my kitchen is. I was shocked and appalled to see smudges, smears, and streaks covering the front of my oven, refrigerator, and two cabinets. So appalled, in fact, that I dropped what I was doing and immediately set to work washing off the grime. I knew if I let the moment pass, the light would fade and I’d grow complacent again with the dirt I would no longer see. I wanted to make use of that moment […]

The Kingdom Work of Restoration

I remember the first time I walked into our latest real estate project. My buddy Scott found a good deal and wanted me to see it. The enormous dead tree lying in the front yard was just a prelude to what we’d find inside.   Standing in the kitchen, we felt squeezed by the dark, dirty, depressing space. Most people would have taken one look and passed on this old house, despite the great location in a quiet neighborhood. No appeal was visible to the naked eye. Scott and I, however, saw potential. Yes, potential for profits, but also potential to use our God-given abilities to take something damaged and make it beautiful again. Scott imagined stripping the kitchen, knocking down […]

Mom Guilt

Mom guilt. I can’t shake it. It’s there every time I turn around. What my kids eat. What I eat. What we should be eating that we don’t. Organic? GMOs? Antibiotics and growth hormones? Stress. Some days I just want Oreos. Milestones and growth charts. Do we vaccinate or not? Babywearing. Sleep habits. Breastfeeding. Bottle feeding. Stress. I should be savoring these moments, right? Some days I just want to sleep. Looks from other moms at the playground. Judgment from older folks at a restaurant. Advice from a lady with three dogs and no kids. Stress. Some days I just want to hide at home. (But then I feel lonely.) Laundry piles. I’m so behind. To-do lists and should-do lists. […]

Can I See His Face?

I’m always amazed at the way our small children can teach us deep truths about God.  When our third son was born, his older brothers were eager to meet him. They each got to hold him, kiss him, and love on him. Even after we were home from the hospital, they couldn’t get enough of the new baby, always wanting to see and touch him.  After a great many holdings and kisses and too-strong hugs, I began to weary of their enthusiasm. It took a lot of energy to oversee their boyish love on a newborn, so frequently I’d only allow them to look on while I held the baby. They were fairly happy with this arrangement, except when he […]

Picture Day Fail

It started before the sun came up. I dragged my weary body out of bed. Before I could mentally process the fact that I felt physically unwell, one of my children was already calling for me. I got dressed and carried the baby with me to wake up her brothers for school. As they slowly began to move, I headed downstairs to nurse my little one. That’s when I remembered it: today was picture day. When my oldest came down with hair askew, I asked him to help with breakfast while I fed the baby. He prepared only his own breakfast and was soon engrossed in last year’s yearbook—because today was picture day. His brother came down the stairs asking […]

What Seeing the Total Eclipse Taught Me about Myself

We descended like a swarm of bees upon the city—hovering, crawling, buzzing. Our family had arisen before dawn to make the journey into the heart of totality, and our arrival was swift and direct. We chatted with other devotees on the same pilgrimage. We unlocked little boxes to compare astrological charts and maps to choose a suitable location. We invited others to join us. Another flock welcomed our company into their fold for the day. We waited in sweltering heat with children and ants and anticipation. We shared shade and water and moments. We knew the times and the seasons, but we all secretly longed for something more than what we knew. We wanted to feel it. The change began […]

Do I Want My Children to Be Careful or Take Risks?

“Be careful!” I yelled toward my two oldest boys as they traipsed out the back and slammed the door behind them. They were off to play with their cousins around the family greenhouse that adjoins our property. Even as the instinctive words left my mouth, I caught myself. Is this really what I want for my boys? To be careful? Granted, my boys can be reckless and impulsive, but as they mature, do I really want them to remember that their mother’s greatest concern for them was that they’d be careful? I’m well aware that we live in a safety-oriented culture. (Think car seats, insurance, cabinet locks, extended warranties, and outlet covers.) I’m aware that my upbringing has conditioned me to […]

On Our 14th Anniversary

Marriage is like turning a marathon into a 3-legged race. I’m running along at my own pace, eyes fixed on the goal, when I sense someone running beside me. I look over and see you running toward the same goal at about the same pace. We fall in step and decide that running this race is better as a team, so we stop and bind ourselves to one another hand and foot. At first we’re just happy for the companionship, and even though we’re bumbling along trying to find a new stride, the challenges are fun. But then the binds grow tight and chafe, cutting deep into the flesh. Indeed, the binds have fused our flesh together so it’s impossible […]

Making Mounds

Our garden continues to teach me about life. This week Mick and I had the rare opportunity to work in the garden together. We tilled up the rows that flooded and prepared to mound them like the rows of mounds that not only survived the heavy rains, but thrived in them. We decided to do three rows of alternating mounds with the center row offset from the other two. Mick and I began working simultaneously. I envisioned us working side by side in rhythm down the length of the garden, but I quickly became frustrated. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my mounds in the right place or to the right size. I seemed to be […]