The Ants Go Marching, II

My favorite ants went off to school last week, and the dog days of summer seem now a Polaroid faded by time. Ah it was a lovely summer! I thoroughly enjoyed its spaciousness, and I’m sad that it is over so soon. But such is the nature of rest (and vacation). It’s a lovely and needful thing, refreshing body and soul. But if we were to stay in it always, never to leave it, something beautiful and refreshing would soon deteriorate into something disfiguring and life-draining. “Too much of a good thing,” the saying goes, and it’s mostly true.

I am thoroughly caught up in the transition from rest to work. Schedule has marched us forward with the constant beat of a ticking clock. And it’s suddenly necessary to watch the clock again because something or someone important will surely be slighted otherwise. I’m not entirely in the groove yet. I’m running to catch up to the schedule like someone late for her train. When back-to-school descends upon us, it comes into the station like a bat out of hell. And I’m still not the step ahead I need to be. So this morning I rushed into my second cup of coffee, sat down at the computer, determined to knock out a new item on a swelling to-do list. I’d started the day behind; I’d hit the “snooze” button three times this morning and set off a falling-domino frenzy. It has not been the prettiest of mornings.

But as I sat down to work, my spirit was unsettled. Soundlessly, my name was being called. I’d reacted to the demands and work at hand as if my season of rest were gone forever. But it’s not gone. The taste of summer still lingers, faint though it is. And there’s Sunday, the day our family turns off electronics (kind of consistently), wakes up to daylight instead of alarms, and goes off to worship the God that transcends all this frenzy. And then there’s this quiet part of the morning I’m having right now. Even if I did hit snooze too many times, I still have this precious moment of quiet once my four little ants are safely at their desks.

How quickly I forget the graces of God, brush them away in my determination not to fall behind. In this lifetime, my work will never be done. And I need this daily moment of rest, if only for a small number of minutes, to listen to the sweet call of my name. Our God desires to meet with us, to settle our spirits and gently call us into the real work of each and every day. The emails, the phone calls, the paperwork and the laundry can wait a few more minutes so they can be transformed from the pesky nips at my heel to a kind of work that is somehow connected to the life and service of Christ. What could be oppressive can sparkle with the signs of Christ and become instead a labor of love, when we can stop and rest in Him. My friend wrote about just this thing recently, and it took me back six years to a time when I was pondering the same ideas, reading the book you see pictured above (and so you can witness personally just how quickly I forget the graces of God!).

Four little ants are at their desks now, in clothes that adhere to dress code, finished homework papers, and miraculously, a packed lunch. Their breakfasts were odd, but they will get them by ’til lunch. My work is yet ahead of me, but it holds more potential now. God has touched me and it, and I am ready to follow Him into it. It’s a much better way to do life. Perhaps the rest of summer is not gone forever. There is a rest for the people of God, the scriptures say. And I believe it can happen in small ways even now, in the busyness of this day, in the labors of my work. It is clearly a different kind of rest than summer, but it is a rest, a pause, a deep breath, a looking above rather than just in front.

This ant is marching in, but thankfully not on her own and hopefully not for herself. And I’m so grateful for a God who calls my name.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)



My first grader finished an assignment on Harriet Tubman last night. She did all the work herself with the exception of finding the photograph online (her big sister helped with that while I was playing taxi for my other kids). She was beaming, a smile spread wide across her face when I walked in the door. “Look what I did, Mommy,” she said, and I looked over her shoebox lid with the pictures pasted on purple construction paper, careful cuts around each one, the words “Harriet Tubman” written in marker across the top. When I read over the finished project and I saw all the “inventive” spelling, I wondered if I should have her correct the spelling before turning it in. But I just couldn’t. It was just too heart warming. Pencilvanya? Oh I LOVED it! I love that word and the “anportant” person Harriet Tubman was and the “varry anportant” person this little first grader is, one who warms her mother’s heart with what she makes with such pleasure. Continue reading “Pencilvanya”

Clearing the Creative Logjam

Ah, hello! It’s been a while. I’ve been distracted, but I’m feeling pulled back. Thanks to actor/writer/Lutheran Susan Isaacs for her post about how she cleared her creative logjam, I took a nice long walk today and reflected on all the questions she asked. So while I’m clearing my creative logjam, I highly recommend you visit her words as well as another friend’s timely post. A similar thread binds them. Happy Monday, friends.


Making Straight

Pictured left is my blue-eyed first born, my “trainer baby” (the one on whom I’d practice motherhood). I witnessed with awe and excitement every nuance of this kid’s growth, including the cutting of the first tooth. From the first one at 6 months to the many more that followed, those baby teeth erupted out of her sweet baby gums in neat rows of shiny white. Her smile was perfect. She was in first grade when she lost the first baby tooth. More followed suit, and as she grew, that little smile kept changing. Teeth came loose one by one, making room for new ones. Continue reading “Making Straight”

Night Slips Gently

The day’s events parade across the streets of my mind as sun slips behind trees; the day is coming to an end. On a ticket in the kitchen of the restaurant where I sit is my order for glazed salmon. I am wrapping up a day that has been spent mostly alone, away from home. I’m midway through my return home now, watching out the restaurant window as the curtain falls on a day I have fully savored. Continue reading “Night Slips Gently”

Lessons on an Airplane

I spent much of last weekend in airport terminals and on planes, traveling to and from Los Angeles. One of my travel buddies talked to the gate agent about changing our seats. The transaction went well, and my friend thanked her for being so helpful. “We try,” the gate agent answered. “We really do always try to make our customers happy. And when they’re cooperative and friendly about it, it makes a difference.” Continue reading “Lessons on an Airplane”

I’m a Junkie

My i-phone started dying last week. Maybe I should have recognized its feeble cries for help, the apps that looked as though they were trying to open only to fade back to a confused menu screen. First it was Google. Then it was Instagram. Then Reader. One by one its apps were closing their eyes to me. Then two nights ago, with a newly charged battery coursing through its electronic veins, it powered itself down for good. Continue reading “I’m a Junkie”

A Lazy Vigil

They’ve wrapped a water wing round the black spool used to hold nylon rope. It’s the little girl’s bait to catch her seven-year-old brother, a very large fish. Under a big blue sky in the round pool of a house we’re borrowing, they make the sing-song sounds of summer, their high voices bouncing off pool water to canal to house next door. Continue reading “A Lazy Vigil”