Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My very first garden

My very first garden – my husband grew up with gardens, but by his own admission his mother planted the rows, thinned the seedling… it’s satisfying to learn something together. Satisfying for me to see the fruit of our labors—satisfying to get my hands dirty, connect with that primal instinct the world over—a love of dirt, a need for contact with the land.

Discovering for myself the miracle of edible, nutritious, beautiful food emerging out of ridiculously tiny, shriveled seeds. Incredibly easy. Why have I never done this before? Why have never even been interested? Faithfully sprinkle water, easy-soaking the soil, let God’s sunlight warm and expand, pull a few weeds, and in a matter of days it seems, we are eating lettuce salads, fried zucchini, chard in stir-fries, gleefully watching cornstalks grow higher and higher, the ears plump out, the silk spill luxuriously over the husks… mouths watering for August and harvest.

And the colors— blue-green broccoli, limey sunlight-filled cornstalks, kelly green lettuce, bright orange marigolds, huge leafy zucchini…

We watered parched raspberries allowed to run wild these past several years. Now our daily treasure hunt is rewarded with tiny ruby clusters bursting in our mouths… Will and I stop and grin at each other. He holds the bowl, hanging back, tentative of scratching legs; I search and pick, dropping in each jewel, knowing it will hardly land before little fingers find eager mouth.

I walk outside in the cool of the evening, eating a peach (not ours—maybe next year), pulling off each strip of fuzzy skin to lay bare smooth, juicy, golden flesh, feeling juice drip down my elbow, my chin, watching birds flit about feeding in the dusky light… I toss the pit, make a careful circuit of the raspberries, gather a handful to eat eagerly, guiltily (kids in bed), twist off three glossy green zucchini, notice the sherbet-swirled blossoms curled for sleep, ready to wither so more fruit can emerge from their dryness...

Satisfaction pools comfortably in the bottom of my stomach. I cradle my zucchini in one arm as I pull dry towels off the line with the other, spread my bounty like a prize on the kitchen table, look back over my shoulder at my three green promises of more… abundance.

Grow a garden.

It’s green grace every day.

from yesterday

#112 - 123 of the endless gifts

rest days


three hour naps




rocking out to U2 in the kitchen with my two-year-old and our air guitars

boys in the bath

the smell of clean baby

the sound of my husband reading our son the Communion Story

of my husband teaching our son to pray

of my baby’s chuckle—every giggle squeezed out like a bubble of compressed joy

the way my baby grins goodnight at me, open-mouthed, rolls over in his blue waffle blanket, wrapping it around himself, pushing at it with his feet, loving the feel of stretchy comfort, cuddling a corner up to his chin, sucking his thumb… the road to sleep

Why do I feel so much more thankful on rest days? Is it because I finally slow down enough to notice things? Make the time to write them down? Because without busy noise I can finally hear God whispering Goodness?

The challenge: to stave off the static and draw in His Signal loud and clear, despite… life. Despite interruptions. Despite tiredness. To stay thankful regardless.

Tomorrow is another Multitude Monday. Even though it is Monday, within is hidden a Multitude of Grace. Another treasure hunt. A gleeful quest for Goodness.

The breadth of my trove will determine the depth of my joy.

holy experience

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

last Saturday

#58-111 of the endless gifts

cool air


open windows
an extra hour and a half to sleep in

fresh nan
with peanut butter
and a Lipton Chai Latte
brought to me
in bed
with kisses
by my husband
and my son

a sleeping baby

a Generator so we have Power when the rest of the world is Power-less

to play
my piano

a new song
from the Word

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy
set to music on request

J.S. Bach’s Invention No. 9
brilliant musical genius
mirroring God’s genius
which I will spend all eternity comprehending, and never plumb His depths

the sound of my son singing happily to himself
in between making train noises

my husband’s humming
Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable”

a working computer with which to capture
endless gifts

boys eating pickles
peach cherry crisp in the oven
bringing order out of chaos

Kari Jobe
“sweep me away in Your love, where nothing else matters…”

Nicole Hickman
her visit to my heart

The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence),
of the barefoot Carmelites at Paris:
“one who saw God’s glory shining in the commonplace.”

“Lord of all pots and pans and things…
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates!”

“The joy you were created to crave is only found when your life is ordered around seeking the beauty of God.”
–Tom Steller, Missions Paster, Bethlehem Baptist Church (sermon notes bookmark in Brother Lawrence from 2001)

a walk after rain,
in fragrant air

my husband making spaghetti

the feel of my baby on my lap

sleeping sons

a clean kitchen

a rain-washed, rested world

Saturday, July 10, 2010


#12-57 of the endless gifts

Grace to meet each of today’s “interruptions” graciously (on the outside, at least);

the knowledge that “interruptions” are never surprises to Jesus;

six different local friends in my home today, each of whom I pray

had the opportunity to experience

the peace of Christ here;

an extremely rare three-hour nap from Benjamin, which allowed me

to have a nap too!

William waking up happy from his nap, coming in and saying, “I get up?” (onto the bed),

snuggling in with me…

the feel of his little body curled into mine,

the promise of never being too big for mother-love.

Will and Ben playing peek-a-boo over my stomach while I was still drowsily half in my nap…

the sound of their mingled laughter.

A surprise phone call from my mother-in-law,

her good health,

the sweetness of her voice,

hearing all the news from New Zealand, one of our “homes”,

school holidays,

visits from grandchildren,

women in their seventies who adopt families of children without a stable home and expend all the rest of their waning energy looking after them for Jesus.

My sweet tutor

showing up at exactly the right moment

to help Will come in from water play while I was busy on the phone, and get dried off and dressed—

her love for Will and Ben that blesses and buoys me up.

Jesus prying me open to receive inside my home and my reluctant heart

a surprise trio of little-girl guests, ages 10 and under, who showed up at 4:30 “to learn English” (at the house of the little foreign boy with all the neat toys);

(in the midst of pizza-making, Ben-feeding, Will-managing, and summer sweat-dripping—yes, I am thankful for all those things, but sometimes not at the same time!)…

little girls who stayed for a plate of melon (Jesus’ idea)

and a story, given in two languages, about Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes…(also Jesus’ idea)

wide eyes over melon rinds—have they ever heard that story before?

have they ever heard about Jesus?

And tonight when my weary, sweaty brain was saying “I just cannot handle one more thing,” and just at that exact moment the phone rings, and it’s

my sweet tutor inviting me over to make bread with them,

a Russian phrase little Ben has just learned—“Dai ruki, dai!” (“Give hand, give!” shake hands and say hello) – pops into my mind,

and I feel Jesus in my heart,

cheerfully, bracingly, stretching his hand out,

inviting me—me, the little baby—“Dai ruki, dai!” with a smile.

Gratefully, I reached up my hand,

and took His,

and went to make bread.

Jesus being the Bread of Life

for me

for them

for the world.

The chance, through receiving their bread, to offer my Bread to them.

eating hot bread with cold watermelon for the first time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

a rare photo post!

(completely bizarre... this whole blog is functioning normally, and i'm accessing from a non-secure server... a temporary ban-lift? i have no idea. thank you, Lord!)

Pictures from our recent company retreat at a big lake in a neighboring country...

#1-11 of the endless gifts

Thank you, God...

...for summer!

for sandy toes
for boys at the beach
for fresh water big enough to look and sound like salt

for my son's smile, with cheeks that look like mine at age 2 1/2
for genes that pass on into generations and live again in our children's children
for the preciousness of our blood ties

for the Preciousness of His blood tying us to Him and to one another
for rest, freely given and freely received
for blood cleansing sin like sand cleanses toes...
- sometimes rough at first, but leaving a soft soul behind

holy experience

"Yet's Dance!"

This morning, as I greedily check email in a few stolen minutes between breakfast and my other half leaving for work, I hear Will in his bedroom bouncing on the spare mattress, singing gustily, “I’m a pirate! I’m a pirate! I’m a pirate!”

Inspired, I start singing “Zippideedoodah” to Ben, who’s snuggled on my lap staring at my screen and trying to grab the keys. Hearing me burst into song, Will’s feet pound the floor to me quick as lightning: “Yet’s dance, Mommy! Yet’s dance!” And I smile and get up with Ben, and we dance—to nothing? to Zippideedoodah? to nonsensical joy? We dance to Jesus, to Joy that makes sense. On this tired Wednesday morning, when nobody except Ben slept well last night, and the day was stretching interminably before me, my heart is suddenly happy. “Yet’s dance!”

And much later on, when I’m up far later than I should be, and my eyes and brain are begging for sleep, I’m still pecking away at a Word document, saving words and thoughts and images for later when maybe, perhaps, the Internet will work fast enough and free enough to post them online—to free them and fling them out into cyberspace where I pray they encourage just one other heart… someone else who struggles—in the cracks of mothering and living and laundry and dishes and the culture stress of living out of sync with this world—struggles, commits to putting words to reality and making beauty out of mess.

As Ann Voskamp says, “the beauty is the mess.” (And if I lived in an open country and the link button on my blog was empowered instead of blocked, I’d link to www.holyexperience.com so you could enjoy her beautiful mess with me…)

“Time for bed,” my husband says, and goes to turn off the generator that has bought us a few more hours of light tonight in an unreasonably powerless town. (No storm, no wind, what’s the deal?) And I sigh, still feverishly typing, and agree—time for bed. But we danced.

And the house goes suddenly dark and quiet, and with my last few minutes of battery, I push save, and close down my computer to save the battery in case tomorrow has no power and I need an emergency video for Will during Russian lessons. And I obediently get ready to go to bed… and then the lights come back on. James has flipped the fuse, and they’ve turned the power back on. And I think, Power… for the next dance.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Major Technical Difficulties...

...in the form of my hard drive crashing over a month ago, it taking us until last Monday to find a new one, and everything still being absurdly topsy-turvy-- (over 2000 emails in my Inbox because they EACH got imported FOUR times)... can't open my address book... and yes, the quarterly newsletter is overdue, and my monthly report is overdue, and I have hundreds of gorgeous pictures of my boys to share with you, and heaps of stories... and it all just has to wait. I'm learning a lot about waiting. So... thanks for being patient, and thanks for your comments on my jam post :) , and thanks for empathizing and waiting with me from afar! You are all loved and wanted and deeply appreciated... wish I could tell each of you more often and in person.

frustrated but still hopeful,


By the way, it's beautiful green lush gorgeous summer here now, and the winter picture at the top DOES NOT APPLY!

And Ben is 8 months old, not 3--

and William is 2 years and 7 months and officially POTTY TRAINED!!!!! (not at night yet, but big boys pants all day and minimal accidents this week, so we are on our way! Hooray!)