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”

The Grit

Summer. And I can’t seem to write about anything but parenting. Mothering is large and constant. Kids take up more space in my world. Little else is loud enough to compete with all this life and energy I share home with. And even if it is a season that makes me yearn for quiet, it is a season to treasure and use wisely.

Yet today has been more failure than wisdom. A child or two did with good spirit what was asked of them, when it was asked. And a child or two bucked and brayed their way through this day, a discouragement that seeps deep in my bones. It makes me grumpy and short tempered. I react, pursed lips. I rebuke, resentfully doling out the consequences — loss of this, extra work, laps around the neighborhood on bikes. Continue reading “The Grit”

Sermon Art

I never know what I’ll see my kids doodling during the sermon while we sit quietly in rows, mostly looking forward. With a notebook in her lap, my six-year-old usually draws hearts and flowers with big skies and suns that consume the corner of the paper, with straight lines for the sun rays. My eight-year-old boy, on the other hand, usually draws elaborate scenes of stick figures falling into the mouth of a great shark that protrudes from the bottom margin; from the top margin dangle army helicopters with stick figures who are descending on lines, elaborate assault rifles in hand. And then further down the row sits the pre-teen on whose lap are anime-style portraits of girls with gargantuan eyes and skinny necks. Next to her is the teen who no longer doodles but listens, one leg crossed over the other, foot swinging restlessly back and forth. It’s quite a juxtaposition, this art displayed on laps spanning the row beside me. Continue reading “Sermon Art”

Enough of a Good Thing

Rain, rain, rain. Sometimes you can have enough of a good thing. It’s been raining for days. And though our state has desperately needed a good, long rain, the flash floods seem to be saying, “Enough!” Sometimes, like with the rain, I feel myself growing weary of myself. Even at my best moments, when I want my life to reflect God’s glory, I catch myself thinking about myself and how God might change me. I think of how I could be more winsome, more gregarious, more fun. And it gets a little like that feeling you’d have if you swallowed a spoonful of butter. You can have too much of a good thing, and too much self can easily turn into a flood whose current takes me places I’d rather not go. Continue reading “Enough of a Good Thing”

Summer Cooking Camp

I love to cook. As a kid, I stirred dough, cut vegetables and washed dishes daily (not necessarily as a volunteer; I was drafted by my mom). My mom believed in equipping me with the ability to care for myself. So she gave me as many chores and responsibilities as possible (though I suspect that her teaching me to care for myself was as much about employing me and my siblings to help her survive the mothering of five kids as it was equipping me for adulthood). I was small when my mom announced it was time for me to do my own laundry. When my friends’ moms were loading up their dresser drawers with neatly folded, clean clothes, I was dragging my wrinkled clothes out of the dryer and schlepping them upstairs to my drawers all on my own. My mom made sure I could sew on my own buttons, patch my own pants and clean all parts of a house long before I ever hit my teens. She taught me how to follow recipes, cook rice and bake cakes. She taught me single and double crochet stitches, the whip stitch for hemming and how to embroider. I can’t say I loved any of it except for the cooking (and maybe the cleaning). Cooking was the one thing that really stuck. Continue reading “Summer Cooking Camp”

Roatan Journal: Day 8

It’s time to go home. We say our farewells to Enrique, Henry and Francis outside the airport where we first arrived with clean clothes and balanced intestines. We board our plane and settle in seats. Bailey and I are together, but Mike is seated in another row, too far forward to see. Bailey and I talk about what we’re looking forward to once we get off the plane. We’re excited about flushing toilet paper in the robust sewer systems of the States. We can’t wait to drink water out of the tap. We’re hopeful our digestive systems will calm down once we’re home. And we can’t wait to get back to Claire, Will and Ellie. We’ve missed them. It’s hard to be away for a week without talking with them. I wonder how they are, how tired Grandma and Grandpa might be after caring for them all week. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 8”

Roatan Journal: Day 7

Day 7. We rise to smells of Elmer’s coffee and a light salted breeze from the ocean. Our team is playful, having grown easy with one another over the course of seven days. Today we won’t be going to la Colonia. Our work, for this trip at least, is complete. Instead we’ll spend the day enjoying the island before we have to board our plane for home tomorrow. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 7”

Roatan Journal: Day 6

Day 6. It’s handprint day. Brightly colored paints wait in containers at the newly whitewashed wall. I’m not sure the kids quite know what to make of it, the dipping of hands into the thick, drippy paint. Our Spanish is lame, and we communicate mostly in sign and gesture and badly pronounced vocabulary. But the kids get the hang of it soon enough. The wall quickly fills with sets of hands that we identify by name with a black marker. They’re leaving their mark on this wall, on this community. “I am here,” the handprints seem to say, “and I matter.” Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 6”

Roatan Journal: Day 5

A few posts ago, I was sharing journal entries from a trip to Roatan, Honduras last summer. I never got past Day 4. Out of the blue though, I got an email from a friend considering moving there, and it brought back a flood of memories and feelings. I decided to go back to Roatan by way of those journal entries and pick up the story.

Day 5. Our intestines are rebelling. Half the team is sick, but the work is still getting done. The pump house is beginning to take shape with the laying of block for the walls. Mike has had the kids in the Colonia whitewashing a wall across from the play yard where we’ve been gathering them for stories and games. It will take three coats by the end of the day, but tomorrow we’ll get all their hand prints on that white wall. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 5”