when time slips through your fingers

Butterfly party

In July of 2011, Tessa Jo was born and our band became a permanent Party of 4. And now suddenly it all makes sense why people call their sixteen-old the "baby of the family" or say their "baby got married" or next year their "baby leaves for college."

My baby just turned three. If you talk to her for five minutes, she'll tell you all about where she travelled this summer and where her cousins live and how her nay-vors have chickens and the sad tale of our cats and why the tomatoes aren't growing this year.

She needs budspray and sunscream before she goes outside. 

She's been so excited to turn fwee so she can go to ballet class. 

She belts out Let It Go as she rides in the van.

She hates it when people call her little because, gosh darn it, she is BIG with a BIG girl bed and a froggy potty seat (that is more of an ideal than a reality) and little girls do not do BIG things like her. 

And all I can do is shake my head as I watch her troop out the back door with her siblings. 

All I can do is smile as I look out my small kitchen window and watch her carrying a chicken across the yard. 

All I can do is wonder where the days are going, worry that I might be missing them, and then tell myself that all I can really do is smile at these littles as the moments pass by. 

There is no way to freeze time, no way to have days back. And would I really want those days back? I don't know. But I can't help feel like something is lost, gone, slipped away, and if I could enjoy it one more time, I would. 

But here we are, heading into a school year with kids in 4th grade, second grade, kindergarten, and preschool. The baby items are disappearing but the days are ever busy. They need me less- they can put on their shoes (though not on the right feet, ahem, my daughters!) and spoon their own cereal and brush their teeth. They can function a whole morning, lost in the delight of the back yard. 

But in some ways they need me more. They ask, "Why should I obey?" and "Where is heaven?" and "What is inside electricity?" and "Why don't you get a job?" and "Why can't the sky just stay sunset forever?" And they ask about kindness and their own design and the shape of their fears comes trickling out. They sense that we're walking to our own drum, that they aren't getting on a school bus or going to a church building or living a life that matches what they see on bits of TV. 

And they wonder and I wonder and I try not to worry or chase time or hoard moments. 

I try to be. Here. With them. Be here in the moments that truly are our good 'ol days. 

It's been a bumpy summer for me, friends. I've drifted, not in some sort of profound drifting away from ideals, but more of life on a raft instead of life on a motor boat. I like to think I generally have direction, a little bit of power, an ability to steer my life against the waves. But this summer has left me feeling I got nothing. 

"I think I'm broken," I told my husband this morning. 

"Good," he said, smiling sleepy at me, "that's a good place to start."

This time slipping by, it reminds me afresh of my smallness, of my inability to hold on and hold in and hold out. Moments are passing, and I don't need to control them or cement them or even do anything crazy to make them better. I can only cherish them, watch them slip by, smile sleepy from my own brokenness, choose to be present in it all. 

So here we are. The baby who's not a baby. The summer that isn't much of a summer left. The school year upon us and the fall approaching and a long list of "Things I'll Get to This Summer" that I can just reuse for next year.  Time is both my friend and my enemy, my ally and my nemesis. 

But we're still here, and it's still barely summer, and we'll try to watch these last summer evenings linger. 

Happy Birthday, Tessa Jo. 


my latest book love: 1000 beautiful things

"When we are collecting books, we are collecting  happiness." - Vincent Starrett

On a recent afternoon out, I found myself wandering in a thrift store (cue The Thrift Store Song!) The book section at this store is a particular weakness of mine, featuring all titles for a quarter (a quarter! Just a measly quarter and you have a new book!) I picked up a John Grisham novel, two Newberry Award winners to add to the kids' shelf, and a cool looking old book that I thought would look good with the oldish books on my piano. 

I headed home with my little pile of books and ended up cracking this one open to find it was an anthology of poems, stories, and quotes. 

Now I've never been a big poetry person. I can appreciate a line here and there, admire a well phrased verse or flowing rhyme, but I don't really read it. Until this book. 

1000 Beautiful Things 
Compiled by Marjorie Barrows

And it really is a book of beautiful things. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Favorite poem...

by Karle WIlson Baker

Some days my thoughts are just cocoons- all cold, and dull, and blind,
They hang from dripping branches in the grey woods of my mind. 

And other days they drift and shine- such free and flying things!
I find the gold dust in my hair, left by their brushing wings. 

Favorite line...

Opening line of the poem "Good Company", by Karle Wilson Baker

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees...

...or the chickens. Whichever. 

Favorite quotes...

"No legacy is so rich as honesty." -Shakespeare

"You have greatly ventured, but all must do so, who would greatly win." -Byron

"A task without a vision is drudgery; a vision without a task is a dream; a task with a vision is victory." - Anonymous

"I hope that I shall never tire
Of watching colors in the fire..."- Mildred Bowers Armstrong, "I Hope"

"Happy he who dares courageously to defend what he loves."- Ovid

I'm not sure what it is about this particular summer, but it has robbed me of my mental energy. I can't seem to stick with meaty books, engage non-fiction, or even crack the classics that I so enjoy. But maybe summer is a time for poems, a time for words to rhyme and flow and linger long, like the sunsets in July. 

Or maybe our souls are more in tune with what we need, and maybe there are seasons where souls can override our habits, can cry out for something that will sustain us differently. 

So as for me, I'm downing the occasional novel (like this and this and this) but taking the reading easy. School's coming fast, kids are sprouting quick, and the long days of summer will not last long. 

Here's to finding what works for you in this season of your own summer. 

I'll leave you with one last poem. 

Richard Watson Gilder

Not from the whole wide world I chose thee,
Sweetheart, light of the land and sea!
The wide, wide world could not inclose thee,
For thou art the whole wide world to me. 


snapshots of summer

I love this picture right here. I try to remind myself often that this view won't always be here, that these two won't always sit touching shoulders, that their crazy little girl hair won't always be crazy-little-girl-hair. 

Something about the last few days has me all Carpe Diem-ish. Maybe it's the 4th of July. Maybe it's the renewed energy that comes from not travelling for a few weeks. Or maybe it's just a timely reminder that these are the good old days, and that they are indeed good. Here's a few snapshots of our summer so far. 

Ella at Reptile Gardens, having a Jungle Book moment

Drew and the SD blue sky

Isaac and his rubber band gun

Cowgirl Tessa

We spent a long weekend in South Dakota and, as always, I left with the impression of how beautiful it is there. Seriously. I mean, really beautiful. Look at the sky in those pictures. Lovely.

In other news, the neighbors built a chicken coop. And when you tear down the fence between yards and declare it all to be one yard (as we did two years ago), this means we have chickens. The kids love it. 

In other other news, the tarantula molted. I realize that most of you don't want to hear about the tarantula, don't want to think about the fact that these creatures actually inhabit the earth and people willingly place them to live in their living room. 

There was a twelve hour period where this crazy creature was actually laying on it's back, those nasty hairy legs all stuck up in the air. We were pretty sure it was dead, and something inside me was happy at this idea. (When we ordered it on the internet, it was tiny and the website said that the odds of normal people keeping a spider alive from that size was not good. Meaning we- who can keep nothing alive besides our children who are very hearty- should not be able to sustain a delicate spiderling. But alas, three years later and it is the size of my palm. Not that I know that for sure as we DO NOT hold it. Ugh.) 

Anyways, I was almost happy about this development except that a certain gangly nine year old was crushed by the idea that his spider might be dead. He (the nine year old) sighed a lot, and swallowed before he talked, and then he yelled with excitement when it turned out the tarantula was shedding its skin and not dying. And I felt relieved, and sure that motherhood does crazy things to a person when you are glad that the tarantula lives on. 

Because an awesome summer updo is no laughing matter

This picture of Ella is funny to me because we are at the splash park and she has on a necklace. It is as if her life's goal is to accessorize at all times. Me, being more of a minimalist and not liking to keep track of everyone's stuff when we are on outings, tend to discourage the bringing of stuff with us. However, all I need do is yell "Get your shoes on!" and this sassy lady is filling a purse. And when I say filling, I mean filling.  

Where did my baby go???

And this lady will be three in three weeks. Three years old, folks. 

And what more shall I say? I've got a post sorta written about our latest reads, a post kind of brewing about the brutality of submitting your book to agents so that they can send you rejection letters, and a post I want to write about homeschool hope. So maybe those will happen.

Or maybe not. Either way, thanks for stopping in. Hope your summer is lazy and lingering and leaving you full. 


4,380 days...and counting

Twelve years ago today I got married. That statement in itself is its own thing; a beginning, middle, and end all unto itself. 

Sometimes I can't remember what it was like to not be married. To not have him next to me. To think in terms of 'me' and not 'us'.

Sometimes I marvel at the guts it takes to get married. I mean, really, you are pledging the rest of your life to this one person who you hope to God you can really trust. It's nuts. It's insane. It's more than a bit of a crap shoot; it's an all out gamble. 

And so we're twelve years in, four kids added, about to make our way out of the Decade of Diapers (cue Hallelujah Chorus). The newborn fog has cleared, the newlywed phase has long past, and now we are in a season of learning to love deeply, day in and day out. 

There's so much I could say. I could talk about our journey in learning to fight well and fight often, the struggle to communicate (who would have thought that would be So. Much. Work.), the ways we've learned about ourselves and come to truly understand each other. I could talk about how parenthood forges you, ministry flattens you, Jesus picks you up, and life keeps plowing forward at a speed that is both exhilarating and exhausting. 

I could talk about community; sweet, precious, priceless community that we've come to love so much in our time together. 

But today, all I can really think is the same thing I thought when I stood next to him twelve years ago: I'm so glad he picked me. 

My husband is irreverently funny, unfailingly loyal, maddeningly analytical. The strength of his will is a true force of nature, as is the depth of his forgiveness and the wide reach of his compassion. He is direct and intentional and purposeful in how he lives and moves out into the world. And I still say, just as I said when we started dating, that he is the most honest person I have ever met. Brutally honest. Terrifyingly honest. Beautifully honest. 

And all those things about him are shaping my forever, are molding our four crazies, are changing the world around us. 

I'm so glad he picked me. 

Here's to you, Garrett Paul. 

I'm not sure who is crazier- him or the girl who signed up to follow him. But I am so thankful for today, for twelve years, for this wonderful life we've found amidst the life that happens to you and the Life that Christ offers. 

Happy Anniversary indeed.

*Pictures by Kameron Bayne Images


road trip rambles

For the last few summers, the kids and I have made a yearly trek out to Colorado to participate in Kids camp, an annual event at Ponderosa. This year's trip seemed to come on the end of a string of weeks that left me tired and a little bit breathless and just plain 'ol foggy. 

But still we packed and planned and headed out. And I'm so glad we did. 

One of the (many) myths I fight in my head is this idea that my life should be effortless, that I should always feel up to whatever faces me each morning. But reality is I don't have to feel up to it- I just have to step up to it. There's a big difference. 

And in the stepping up to it, many things are gained. The chance to walk by faith. The chance to receive help from others. The opportunity for my kids to see me live out of my own brokenness. Why do I hide that from them when instead I could invite them into it?

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what I need to remind me that there is life outside my piled up kitchen. 

And now we're home, with road trip fatigue and happy hearts, settling back into that piled up kitchen that somehow piled up more while I was away. But it is so sweet, this life we live together, these trips we take that are the good 'ol days happening in real time, these snapshots in their childhood that will be the best of memories.