For my Gramma : my sunshine

17523244_10212709227346055_6307089331585439794_n

written for the day we celebrated her :::

The last real heart visit I had with my Gramma was a little more than a month ago. I knew that it was the last one. In my heart. She was wrapped cozy in bed and scolded me for fidgeting with the blankets and looked at me with what was left of the spunky sparkle in her blue eyes. She wanted to know if we’d been fishing yet and where were the kids and have I talked to Brodie and how dare I leave Maeryn at the house for an hour by herself and I suppose she’s old enough now and what was the weather like outside and how was church and just what is your mother and Dayle talking about out there in the living room and yes, I love you.

I can’t recall here for every one of you what she is to you. I can only tell you what she is to me and then hope that a little piece of that might ring true for you, as well. I struggled with this because I thought I must tell her story from the beginning to now- that I must encapsulate and crystallize her charmed childhood on the canal iceskating and swimming, her hardworking parents and brothers and sisters, her intelligence and beauty, her love for lakes and snow and feeding the birds and playing cards. The way she was stubborn and diligent, the way she was tender and truthful, the way she was unique and poised. How she pushed through 95 years of the most amazing changes and advances in history and technology and life that our world has seen to date. How she married a man she loved, raised a family and saw birth and building up and burning down and growth from ashes and and death and plenty and need. I can’t tell you about 95 years, although I want to, but I can tell you about 95 years of experience that was tightly woven in the gnarled and perfect hand that I held carefully on that last day we visited.

I can, though, tell you about my Gramma.

I can tell you that she made the best chocolate chip cookies that crisped on the edges. I can tell you that she tucked me into bed like a cocoon and rubbed my nose to hers and prayed with me before I fell asleep. I can tell you that she took me outside and made me rake leaves and then she also made me jump in them. I can tell you that she instilled in me a love of words and let me win at Scrabble. I know that now. I can tell you that she loved her family with a fierce and strong- willed love that demanded family dinners around the table and the marking of milestones with celebrations and remembrances. I can tell you that she endured pain and marked it with grace. I can tell you that she insisted on my posture and taught me to dance- try to dance-  the Charleston.  I can tell you that she told me when I was wrong and that she allowed for mistakes. I can tell you I was there on the couch for the ‘86 Mets and man, that was a night. And I can tell you that she let me take her on snowmobile rides because she loved the wind on a warmer Winter day. I can tell you she didn’t mind that I wasn’t as athletic as her, but when she noticed that basketball wasn’t my game, she told me that the poem I had written she framed the other day.  I can tell you that seeing her stabilized me at a moment’s notice and that it’s true, there’s no place like Gramma’s house.  And I can tell you that she  breathed life into my hardest days and made me a root beer float and didn’t say a word.

And this was us- me and Gramma- the thing that replays in my mind. That one day I stopped in after my summer job and we had a long weekend ahead. July 4, I think. One of her favorites. And we were sitting on her deck and talking about how nice it would be to go to Maine. And that was the moment. We looked at one another at four o’clock in the afternoon and said- You wanna go? And that was that. Off we went. Me and Gramma and a road trip. Gramma’s station wagon, Charley Pride on the cassette tape. And yes, we had the windows rolled down and we got an ice cream cone for the road.

And that was my Gramma. The woman who lived a life well- lived. Adventure, pain, love, happiness, hardship, joy and finishing well.

The woman I could come to when I was crying, the woman I would look for in the crowd, the woman that cradled my babies with open arms and arthritic fingers, the woman that encouraged walking tall and playing on the floor. The woman who brought her family to Maine and in turn, gave us the gift of a place to love life, too.

Thinking of her makes me smile. And that’s enough.

And that month or so ago, I thanked the Lord for that visit. The way He had mercy on me and her- giving us time together with sound minds and happy hearts to chat for a bit. She let me rub her nose with mine that day. She held my hand longer than she wanted and she told me she needed a haircut soon. Short and cute like last time. She was tired and I didn’t want to go. I told her to take a rest and yes, I would bring the kids next time, and yes, I would make sure they get outside and play and yes, I would tell Pete she asked about him. I love you, Gramma. I love you, too.

And she let me sing to her, the one I always did. Because it’s true:

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you…”

Spring

13000160_10209233582097096_7134209523104064738_n

There’s a dripping at my windowpane, steady.

and the March wind fill- billows the flag and follows the barest branches

blowing across the bluest sky.

I heard the woodpecker pecking just yesterday in the still morning of the first Spring day

and I hadn’t heard his echo in a while.

The sun-

I told my little ones-

it’s closer now

warmer

they look upward

squinted and thinking

the place near the stones where my first crocus always lies

waiting

– the ground

expectant -like us-

And the white earth is giving way to the dirt tracked in through the backdoor.

Gritty and muddy and messy.

:::: and I think about Spring like this.

It was my birthday when the biggest snow cloaked

and I marveled at the power

immense and all-covering

deep

alabaster

— immaculate

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.   +Isaiah 1:18

but now my boot

finds muck

again

bog-sticking

-begrimed

and I just–

-want to shake it off.

and Spring is like that.

It always is.

The way it wakens the dormant

The way it fractures silence

The way it revels in beginning

again

The way it needs the dirt

-to grow.

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone. +Zechariah 10

and sometimes how this life

-breaks ground again

how the dew rain falls after the Winter’s gone

deep soaking in the soil

and something organic rises

fresh and bold

earthen

and Springtime-

how it compels a looking up and a stretching forth

reaching

and

Today the first robins bounded into the one brown patch

The scarlet::::

stark against snow- wet gray- barked birches

reminding

me quietly

of this Hope I have

the Spring sure of arriving

the way He makes

all :

things :

new :

The time of singing[j] has come…
Arise, my darling.
Come away,

my beautiful one.

+Song of Solomon 2

a bleeding heart

Babies, Babies, Friesens!!!! 079

My heart broke heavy this week.

Not the kind of shattering and eye-squinting jolting and in pieces smashing on the floor.

but the kind of breaking that cracks and splinters quiet

steady and sore and lingering

falling by little by little pieces

for a few weeks now

crumbling and soft to the ground.

I knew it was coming and still I was not

quite prepared.

Slow breaking wandering next to hope.

What a gift that hope is.

How it keeps you moving and thinking and talking and praying and remembering

and looking into forward.

And then it happens. So slow-quick.

This life.

It makes me sit and think and pray- long and hard and humbled

about how

fleeting and vaporous

this earthly life is,

and I can be nothing but still.

And my house spins around me needing tidying and cooking,

and I sit still instead, while the littlest fingers find pages in a book

and kids play outside

and a butterfly hovers near my window.

And that tidying can wait.

I need to soak this in:::

And it’s this:::

this life:::

How I live alongside others that I love

and how I invest in a legacy for those I love that has

{not one thing}

to do with the success of checking off items on a notepad.

But

{everything}

to do with how I spend my God-grace-given time here,

while He gives me breath,

to love those near me.

And that’s how I  remember her.

How she showed me love

and an open home and

an open table and

an open ear and

an open heart.

Love.

How this life is about {that}.

Love like love is meant to be shown. 

Love that overlooked my mistakes,

love that was generous and kind,

love that was stern and honest when it needed to be, 

love that endured seasons of pain and tragedy,

love that was simply happy on a lake in the woods with a fishing pole and a sunset. 

How my fourteen year- old self was awkward and unsure and how she encouraged me.

How she brought a birthday cake to an icy lake on a sunny day in February.

How she introduced me to hot chocolate mixed with coffee on a subzero morning.

How she {loved me enough} to tell me I was wrong.

How she {loved me enough} to celebrate with me.

How she gave my little girl a doll that she still loves.

How flowers made her happy, too.

How she had sons that I love and count as friends for my life.

How she gave me grace and gave me time to make it right.

How she, whether I was 15 years old or 35 years old, didn’t seem to mind that we stayed at her house too long and laughed too much.

How we’d all go fishing on a Summer night on a dirt road and how it made some of my best memories.

and

How her smile comforted me.

and

How, this time, she smiled longer than she could

and

how she reached out to play with my baby when I know she was tired and hurting and aching and

How she

let me kiss her cheek

and how she

still

took time to invite me in and stay a little while.

That’s the kind of love

that lives long

and sweet

and remembered. 

 

 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. +Romans 12:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the gift of the coming of an age

12108799_10207806809308668_5680382409937276276_n

Forty’s coming quickly,

in perhaps a few days from this one.

And it unnerves me deep

a visceral and sudden sweeping in of time and life

wrapped up in blurs of days and years and seasons

and this week past has been just this

silent and not so silent dread mixed with chuckles and tears

and yesterday

in the midst of routine and thankful:::

there was this dawning

beyond the morning

:::::

and, yes, so

this Winter’s been slow

slow to freeze

and slow to snow

slow to arrive

and slow to bear down

:::::

and yesterday the flakes fell floating like dandelion puffs

and I awed

followed them dawdle- drifting

like it was my first time in these almost- 40 years

and Winter in February is my favorite

and I looked to Him and smiled grateful

snow for the big day, I giggled aloud

and

He gives me

this gift

:::::

and friends invited us to dinner last night

to the place where the only thing on the menu is the crab (I think)

and we stayed lingering longer than two hours over cheesecake and Jesus and laughing

and my babes all tucked tight when we returned

and it was quiet and cozy and full of peace

and

He gives me

this gift

:::::

and I stepped downstairs in a rushing flutter of school and chores and list-to-doing

finding books and papers

and she had left on her desk

this secret note of birthday love in- the- making

with newly learned cursive- scrawl letters bound in glitter and perfection

“my mommy, you’re getting old, but I love you…”

oh, my giggling, weeping heart

and

He gives me

this gift

:::::

and I’m thinking this week

almost full of forty,

that time took no rest to get here.

{And what is it exactly that

I am resting in?}

And each of these many days now,

they are really what everyone says,

they are gifts,

and this squabbling heart

I have

that has fillings of these years of learning and living and walking through

is

a

gift

He

gives

me

to 

give

:::::

and all

I’ve been given

is

much.

:::::

Years of growing:::

and flowered blue bicycles

and crying

and Cabbage Patches

and divorce

and the far North traveling

and growing cucumbers

and balloons escaping my hand

and old University halls

and churches on a hill

and this man I love

and scratched knees on gravel driveways

and friends of all these almost 40 years

and those peach and pink sunsets

and babies here and with Him

and bills paid and bills waiting

and books of birds and books of Wisdom

and learning all this time

that this

:::::

best 

gift

of all is

:::::

He

Who preserved me

through

it 

all

:::::

for Himself.

:::::

and this dawning of age

becomes this proverbial

gift

to unwrap

each

and every

day

:::::

as another morning to

open my eyes

and walk 

in Him.

::::

and

That is a Gift that does not flee on wisp of breath

like this world- time escapes us:::

that Gift:::

is a Gift

that

lives

eternal.

Open it.

 

 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  +Col. 3

 

 

 

 

life in the morning

10670234_10204724275487249_4160488826699878205_n

It’s in the quiet now.

When I can hear the pounding of the day in the distance.

a new tooth pushing up

and a garbage truck coming

a pencil sharpening before counting

a phone call reminding

and the microwave beeping warmed- up coffee

a hamper filling and I hadn’t been aware

and the woodfire waning

I can hear it all 

here

in the quiet.

:::

and, first of all, then,

what do I do?

while I wait?

for the silence to day- break open?

after my love leaves through the door

laden down with thoughts of us and a lunch slung over a shoulder?

before those sweet feet tiptoe not so tiptoeing down a hallway?

fore a baby begins whimpering Mama- wondering will he sleep a bit more or is he smiling- ready for a scooping up?

I stand at the counter, wiping bread crumbs into a cupped hand and fumbling spoons and mugs under dim morning light

wishing I had put socks on

::: I sigh

because it is ordinary and 

because it is 

extraordinary…

and always I look out through:::

across where the sun climbs behind the birches

and today

it is from- scratch even yet again

golden orange and full of mercy, fresh and distinct– apart from all the last

{how is that so?}

these everyday full- of- only- grace beginnings?

So, first of all, then,

what do I do?

while I wait?

… And I think

there lies this difference

between what I

desire

to do

and what

I

need 

to do:::

that sweep of space

between waking

and the day filling furious- fast

that belongs–

I think

only

to

me

somehow?

:::

But

what will I say

comes

first?

What–

Who–

will I actually choose

first, then?

And it does not fall easy for me

this life choice

yes, this

life- giving choice

at sunup

as my phone rests facing down on my nightstand and I want to pick it up

as my computer is ready- charged near my morning chair

and dishes I forgot in the go- to- bedtime are stray and crusted

and that stacking up of good books I resolved about two weeks ago

sit still stiff in their bindings

So,

Who

will I choose first?

Me

or

Him?

And what is that desire that lulls in my heart now?

And I examine it

and I keep it keen and mindful:::

:::

I want His

desire for me:::

to choose

Life

first.

The way He made me

to

open it up

and drink it in

and spill it out to

those tiptoes I am starting to hear

{right now}

and to

their Daddy

who woke up early

fighting tired

and

sleeping embers

on a crunching snow morning like this one

So, first, of all, then?

What do I need to do?

:::

Pray.

Pray to choose the life- giving

over the life- draining.

The Word whose water

makes roots grow deep

and dawning suns rise

out of darkness

and mommies and wives and daughters and friends

pour out those fresh- life words:::

In that hushed and soft sun- blushed morning place…

choose

The

Word

of

Life.

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live…”

+Isaiah 55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a song to michael

We’ve been apart now, maybe only three hours,

since that moment you were born.

I don’t know if that is wrong

or if it is right.

but it just is.

and you and me, we’re ok with it.

the doctor, he lifted you and you cried and I wept wow and joy- filled and could not wait to hold you against me.

six months ago now, when the earth was birthing new

and it was the day after

and

we saw a green flicker across the river on barren branches, you and me.

I held you that day while the sun golden- poured through a story 7 window and I marveled at you in the light streams.

A life- movie played in my head long and slow,

snapshots of this journey the Lord used to bring us close to Him.

:::::

I’m writing this in my head as you sleep in the backseat on a long ride from somewhere

and I cannot help but love you.

you are round and full with that wispy hair piled over blue eyes and a nose like your sister’s and that giggle you save for your big brother

and like we all say,

we don’t know what it was like before you.

And saying that makes us all happy.

::::

you were this dream I dreamed a while ago

when I told Him

two were just fine.

our inward boy who prefers holey jeans and a long hug

and our outward girl who likes to give presents and likes to talk and likes to make up knock knock jokes

one of each kind

and both more than I had imagined

on a cold day in January many years ago when my womb went empty and my heart numbed long and heaving breathless air

and He promised me that day

He redeems

He redeems from the darkness and He lifts from the pit and He carries through the valley and no mountain cannot be moved when He speaks

{My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed… +Psalm71}

and so they were

my two

our two

the joy of her that arrived after years of a thirsty heart and a fallow womb

when I fell dull into shadows

oh, but He redeems

and the gift of him that came after a whirl of brokenness

with him there

and me leaving

and the two of us saying we cannot:::

do

any

of

this

:::: anymore

without Him.

oh, He redeems.

{They remembered that God was their Rock, the Most High God their Redeemer. +Psalm78}

and then my love was unsure when I said with a wink

hmmmmm…

um, maybe?

and I dreamed of you then

and laughed knowingly at the notion of just one more

and your strong daddy

true and brave

and full of Him

prayed about you, Michael,

my littlest love…

and I see

where we were then…

when we said

I do

we do

and I see Who He is now

and who we are in Him

and

Michael,

you

are a part of His love showered

on your Daddy and me.

and I want you to know,

my sweet boy,

He redeems.

And I see His redeeming love when I look at you.

and that is a mighty thing.

::::::

You’re crying right now, in that backseat

and I sing you my off-key song:

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are

and you settle a bit and this momma of yours smiles.

I want you to know this, Michael,

that I sing that song over you because it is my prayer for you

even right now,

that He would be first in your heart…

He has good, good things for you, Michael.

And you know what?

It won’t always be what you think you want.

It

will

be

better.

The dream of you is more than I had ever thought would be.

You are our 

better.

He redeemed some of our broken road in the gift of you.

 

You have a broken momma, Michael, who loves you deeply.

and you have a broken daddy, Michael, who adores you faithfully.

Redeemed.

and you have a Father in heaven, Michael, who took these two parents of yours and bound them together through the thick times to arrive at this mundane, everyday, very beautiful day.

This everyday when, you and me, we are riding up the highway and stopping to change diapers and fill up tummies and gas tanks.

This day,

and the hundred more like it, that I pray, I will never take for granted.

This day of you and me driving home to see our family and scoop them up in hugs and kisses and smiles and cuddles and tucking in to our own beds and waking up tomorrow in the same house, thankful for all that was, all that is

and whatever comes next.

Oh, how He redeems.

and when I look at you, Michael, I remember this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit.

IMG_2810

The apples are heaviest now.

Weighing long heaving branches slow and steady.

Closer to the ground.

Ripe for picking:::

picking some

:::slower evenings and cattails

The Summertime

left us quick in one fleeting sundown

and now it is here:

This first day of Falling.

Apples.

and we sit there under the tree when the light in the morning feels more golden and sweet and dripping

The bees busy with honey have settled resting under the sedum flowers

and the sunflower droops quiet petal- leaving and leaning yearning into the slipping light

and we can smell it on the air

with one hand pulling the sweater out of the closet and closer in the breeze

the way it is now

when yesterday it was one last swim in lily- pad water with ducks gathering far

thunderstorms on a dry porch and the sound of the paddle slicing the stream

and today it is tucking away warm memories

to open up

and dust off when the frosty page is turned back to a pumpkin

and this is what it is:::

a picnic quilting grass and lemonade turning to

orange blaze

and a cup steaming heat rising over

the dashboard and a doughnut before an

earliest morning

on a walk in just- awake woods

crackling leaves underfoot

and this is what it is:::

crackling flames searing marshmallows and summer stories turning to

the first fire burning on August sweat- split wood

warming hands and

hearts

when we learn schooling things and life things and God things

and this is what it is:::

when fast has slowed down to watch the sun settle sooner

and

stews simmer sleepy on the stove

and

we take our time to see

old things fade and Fall

with hope for new Springing

just.

over.

there.

and this is what it is:::

the way the blossoms bloomed

white

on a branch

turning to

this rich fruit

laden- down abundant

sweet in season…

waiting

to fall in hoping hands…

oh, what,

oh, what will we do with this harvest?

If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit… +John 15