Sunday, July 31, 2011


The day begins after a restless night, a daughter's ear aching and nightmares that keep us up for the better part of the night and even though I was moving in some strange haze today, I found stability in simple, food-oriented activities.  Eating.  Yes, this is one of them.

And because complete sentences require slightly more energy:
More pickles canned.
Herbs hung to dry in the mudroom, the whole place that earthy smell of natural remedies.
Finished the book this morning that has been the focus of my Bible study lately.  Praying to find the right one to follow.
An upside down peach cake like my grandma used to make.

A sidenote to Jaimie:  Ila (eye-lah)--is the woman for whom this house was built back in '49.  She lived here with her husband, raised 3 kids, canned, gardened, and played music until about 4 years ago when she had to move due to health issues.  She's 91 now, and just lost her husband in January.  I've only gotten to know her from living here and visiting her.  She is a sweet, sweet woman and I admire her so much for all the time she spent here and the legacy she left in flowers and fruit trees.  I've been so blessed to be allowed to live here because this house was a gift from her mother in law to her.  So was the piano downstairs.  Her mother in law's name was Ina.  So, the house has been loved by Ina, Ila, Lisa and Nora--all "ah" names--the sound one makes when things are good.  "Ah...."

I missed a Star Belle gig tonight at Utica days, but Nora was able to get to sleep early, and we'll be heading to the doc tomorrow to check on her ear.  School is starting in 3 weeks, I still have a lot to do to finish up the summer term, weeds galore, a dirty house, some laundry, time with a little one to spend, a garden that is about to drop a slew of tomatoes, groceries to grab.  And when I'm feeling overwhelmed, when I let important things slip through the cracks (please forgive me, Laurie), I take it one day, one moment at a time and pray for His help, the help that supplies all I need to do what He has willed from one moment to the next.  This is all that can and should be done.  And what a blessing to have such simple, beautiful things to put my hands into.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's Up at the Farm

1.  Gathering cucumber in the morning.  In July, the weeds grow at a rate that's impossible to stop.  Luckily, so do the fruits and vegetables.  There's another batch of cucumbers soaking in salt and water, and tomorrow, I'll make more pickles.  The tomatoes are starting to turn.  Salsa.  Soon.  Tomorrow I'll pull out the cilantro that's gone to seed, hang it upside down and soon, I'll have coriander.  That's what cilantro seeds are.  Neato, huh?  Leaves = cilantro and seed = coriander.

2.  I'm collecting hot peppers and will pickle them as soon as I have enough in hand.

3.  I'm dragging all sorts of...stuff...out of the house and starting a burn pile.  Every load that goes out feels like freedom.  How does this stuff attach itself to our lives?  I'm embarrassed and stunned that each object I carry out, I actually carried in at some point.  There are chairs I could repair, recover, and paint, and part of me feels guilty for not giving them a second life.  But some things are just broken or they don't mean the same things anymore, and the time it would take to fix them costs too much.  I don't want to worship this stuff.  I want to walk into the house with fewer things in my arms.  And I want to use up what I have doing something God would like.  I just know He loves popsicle birdhouses because that is something Nora and I would do together, you know, for birds.

4.  I stopped by Heartland to see Ila today with some flowers and lavender, all of which she planted.  I mentioned the music in the piano bench, and I could tell her heart skipped.  "Oh, I would really like to have that music again."  I'm going to copy the song I was working on last night and bring the books and hymnals to her right away.  She explained she would visit, but that it's just too hard.  She wishes she was here again.  And I tell her:  I understand.  And I really do.  "Take care of the place for me."  "I will.  The weeds are really hard to keep up with."  "Just do the best you can."  "I will."

5.  And when I fixed a sandwich with pickles and ham and swiss today after working outside, I almost ate in front of the computer, but I suddenly felt invited to eat with Him, so I pulled up a chair and the two of us were together.  That was the best I could.  I hope I can make as many "best I can" decisions in this life as possible.  It's not easy.  I'm pretty lazy, but He's always guiding if I listen.

6.  Thank you Mom and Mike for coming to pick up a truck-load of stuff for the garage sale.  Thank you Et. Cetera for taking 6 bags of clothes and giving them a new home.  Thank you, God, for fire because sometimes it's just the end of the road for that second-hand chair or the painting you did back in college.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Inside the Piano Bench

Ila's piano sits in the basement.  I can

play by ear, but

reading music, I'm slow.

I sometimes forget
this is
here in the house
waiting for someone to make it work
like the jars in the canning room
the roses and iris
and garden bed.

Tonight, I lifted the piano bench and found Ila's music books there.  A Spring band program from 1971.  A note from a brother to a sister:  "You'll do fine."

And I think of Ila getting dressed to see her daughter's program 40 years ago, putting on her perfume (I've found the tiny, empty bottles), and after it was over, placing the program in the piano bench with his note of encouragement.  This is love still happening, one that hasn't stopped even though the lid of the bench has been shut for so many years.

In all these three or four years of living here, I hadn't thought to.  Look here.

There are things in the attic I've never seen.  I've never been up there because in my mind, that is still their space.  And the things in "my own home" that I've never laid eyes on before, they sometimes appear in my dreams, the past still present, here in their home.  Last week I dreamed I went into Ila's attic and some warm, clean glow surrounded the toys and quilts and Christmas decorations.  There is a chain that hangs from the ceiling in the mud room, and I've never pulled it as I've seen Lynn do, never let the stairs slide down, never peaked inside.  But I opened the piano bench.

I find two, Songs of Glory, the other, I can't make out.  So old, and I open

1881.  I have learned her flowers,

but I have never learned her hymns, so I sit there as the sky

darkens through the basement windows learning
the words passed down,
and down
and down
and down until I am grabbing one note and then another

He has waited all thy days.  Why waitest thou?

and the song starts to tell the secret:
Come and trust Him now.

This house is a life still living even though she's not here.

Help me hear her even when she's not here because these are lessons I desperately need, have needed.  God knew this and brought me home.  To my home.  To Ila's home.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Back-Up Plan

The train went through the night without our noticing it had.  These are the quiet night sounds we become accustomed to.  Somewhere around 3 AM, the hard clack of thunder rattles me from sleep, the windows bending in the light.  I hear the generator kick in, the low growl of hard energy.  I think of Lynn, how he is prepared for this kind of thing should the hogs in back be in danger of suffering as fans and cooling systems stop.  The clock in the kitchen will be 30 seconds late now.  This is how quickly his back-up plan commences.

Last night I dreamt I went up to the garden in bare feet and found two large horseshoe prints in the dirt, deep and heavy, and I imagined the size of the horse that would have stood there at the edge of the garden contemplating the edible green world I'd made.  And when I looked up, I realized he'd eaten the garden down to the dirt.  No leaf, no root, no shoot, no fruit.  Dirt.  The grass around the garden remained untouched.  I dropped to my knees and the whole year ahead passed through me without heart red tomato beating, reminding me of this summer world.  In the dream, it was too much.  I think I gave up.

We've heard it so many times, the cliche has dulled the sharp edges of how hard it can sometimes be to believe:  God never gives you more than you can handle.  Everything has passed in front of the Inspector for approval.

And it brings me to my knees, sometimes 5 or 6 times a day.  I go to my bedroom and kneel, and when I get up, the lines in the rug are imprinted there on my legs.

Why do I think going to God is my back-up plan?  

Stubborn, prideful woman.

In Him, the 30 seconds on the kitchen clock are an eternity to consider.

When I told my mom about the dream, I said, "I didn't know what I would do with the garden gone.  What would I do?"

"You'd just do something else."

I didn't tell her that I don't want to do something else.  It fought inside me, the angry "No" of "this isn't what I wanted."

And the prayer I make with my cheek resting on the edge of the bed:  If I don't have the garden to water, then give it to me and let it be the Living Water.  If I am barren, so is the ground, and tonight I am thirsty.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fireside Girl Nora

Nora woke up with the Fireside girls on her mind.  I'm realizing Nora doesn't need time to wake up.  Her eyes pop open, her hands start gesticulating like an air traffic controller, and she's already taking flight.  She has been known to give herself the hiccups.  

"Mommy, I think I need to be a Fireside girl, but I don't have a sash or some badges.  Do you think you could get up and sew a sash for me?  Do you know how to do that?  And then you can make recycled turtles out of plastic jugs but be sure there is no milk in them.  You have to drink the milk first, okay.  And then you have to make them swim.  They have to wiggle like this and then their arms need to move like this and like this.  In five months, you'll know what you were doing saving the jugs.  But be sure the milk is gone.  Okay?..."

After a cup of coffee, I explained that she would have to earn the badges.  She was game, so we got right to work sewing a sash for her.  Today she earned her cooking badge, a recycling badge, worked on her cleaning badge, and her hygiene badge. (Yes, this is a desparate mother's attempt to get her to brush her teeth, comb her hair, and clean the house while I lounge around reading People and eating brownies.  Wow.  Even just typing that made me realize how uninterested I am in that kind of lifestyle.  Anyway...)

Cooking Badge:  From Cookie Monster's official recipe from the original Sesame Street Library collection.

Recycling badge:  She came up with the design for these, and they really float!

Cleaning Badge:  Um, it's a work in process.  

Her first badge!

Bonus:  Chia Pet Update!  Well, they look a little rough.  These aren't the kind of Chia pets you bring home to mama (actually, I have a feeling Mom will love these), but they were still fun to make.   That one on the left has some unusual male pattern baldness going on (for a cyclops, that is.)

Enjoy living!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting Up (with) the Corn

Nora tried to convince me it was day by opening the blinds in my mom's hibernation-dark guest room.
"I don't think it's time to get out of bed yet, Nora."  I know it is.  Nora has been singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider Song" for at least 2 hours now.  I've been pretending it's all a beautiful dream.
"Yes, it is.  The sun is up.  Look."
I'm nearly blinded.
"AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!  Shut the drapes!  No, I'm sure it's still night time.  It feels like night time."
"Get up, Mommy.  It's time to get up."

I stumble out of the cave with one hand over my eyes and another feeling around to see how my hair did last night.  Not good.  I haven't had bangs this tall since the 80's.

"What time is it?" I ask my mom who has already had a cup of coffee.  I can tell because she's smiling.  I'm not smiling.

"We need to get started on that corn.  It's about to get hot out there."  Mom has definitely had a cup of coffee.  She's talking about work already.

I don't even have time to stop myself before I'm talking out loud.  "Okay.  Let me get my bra."  Now, this might be more information than anyone really needs, but this is real life, and all women know that before you do just about anything, you make sure you have a bra on.  That's all I'm saying.

I come out within 30 seconds with a red sweatband around my head singing the theme from Rocky and making corn shucking gestures.  "Let's do this."  Little did I know that six hours later, Mom and I would be sitting on the couch in a corn processing stupor unable to relate to each other in complete sentences.

"That was.  [cough/burp]."
"Did you just cough and burp at the same time?  Is that even possible?  What is happening to us, Mom?"
"Don't speak.  Too challenging.  Feet hurt.  Hate corn."

So what could have driven two demure, polite, gentle women to this point?  Let me show you:

1.  First, there was the corn.  We sat on the deck shucking for about an hour and a half.  It was lovely.  The coffee was kicking in.  The sun was shining through the trees, the lambency of light shimmering over the day's promise of good work.

2.  Nora would bring us pile after pile of corn.  She decided to adopt three ears, which I found tucked away in the playhouse, all three lined up on a chair.  Grandma looks up from the ear she's stripping clean.  "Who's the corn in Veggie Tales, Nora?"  "They don't have corn in Veggie Tales."  "What?!  They don't have corn?!"  (That was me.  I'm outraged.)  "Why wouldn't they have corn?"  "Too corny."  "You're funny, Mom."

3.  After the corn is cleaned up, we drag it into the kitchen and set up shop.  First you drop as many as the pot can hold into water that has reached a rolling boil.  When the corn is dropped in, it will stop boiling.  The trick is to bring it back up to a boil and then pull the corn out.  That's when it's ready.

4.  Submerge the corn in cold water.  And then drop the ears in a Gatorade cooler with ice.  Yes, it has to be Gatorade (copyright).  People have been doing it this way for centuries.

3.  The first half of the day, I used this de-corn-enator.  (For those of you familiar with Phineas and Ferb, that last statement should have been hilarious to you.)  I got it at Et. Cetera for 50 cents.  They're selling them down at the Walmart for 4 bucks.  I suppose it's worth it if you don't mind a little waste.  I mind waste, so I eventually switched to the tried and true knife method.

I was surprised Mom actually let me use a knife today.  I practically have to call her if I'm planning on using scissors out here on the farm.  "What if you cut yourself?  How will you get help?"  "Well, I'd probably go outside and write S.O.S. in my own blood in the hopes that someone passing by overhead will see me and then..."  This is when Mom will turn to Nora and say, "You're mommy is a smarty pants."  Yes.  Yes, I am.

4.  After you get the corn off the ears, you pass it on to your mom who will put four big scoops into Ziploc (copyright) bags and remind you to be careful with the knife, the boiling water, and to not try putting the Ziploc baggies over your head because...

Any of the water left over from cooling the corn, we'd take out to water all the flowers and things around Mom's place.  The whole process takes a lot of water.  I know this because we were able to water everything out there, and there's a lot out there.

5.  So, after you're done, you end up with a lot of cobs and a few bags of the most delicious sweet corn there is.   Proof:  I went to the Pac n' Save and they were selling 5 cans of corn for 2 bucks.  Now, part of me wanted to get down on my knees and weep when I saw the sign.  We ended up with 51 bags of corn.  I'd bet each bag held about 2 cans of corn.  So, we basically made 100 cans of corn.  I could have bought 100 cans of corn for...uh...wait for it.  Let me grab some paper.  40 bucks.  Mom and I saved a total of 20 dollars each today.   Where are my keys?  I'm going back to the Pac N' Save to cry in front of the giant stack of canned corn.

But, and you know this, there's nothing like Nebraska sweet corn straight from the field.  And I love messing up my mom's kitchen, so it was worth every kernel.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Picking Corn is Beautiful

We wake.  We water the beautiful things.  Nora watches the barn swallow nest, and I watch Nora, both of us marveling at God's beautiful things and how we long to understand them or at least be a part of their growing into what they were made to be:  beautiful.  My mom was reminding me of this tonight. I tend to lean on the functional, and a part of this slowness I've been wanting to cultivate relies a lot on beauty.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot that beauty has a function, and the pretty things seemed frivolous.   Somewhere in this heart, the girl who used to live on beauty and a couple packages of ramen a day must have whispered, "Line the journey up and down the stairs with flowers, so every time you come home and each time you leave, you'll remember to look for it everywhere."

The cucumbers and basil were ready to bring in, and with a little slow attention, they became 4 quarts of pickles and a lot of pesto.  Functional.  Beautiful.  

We drive to York where Grandma and Grandpa live.  I listen to more Sufjan Stevens on the way (functional and beautiful), fill the gas tank, drop off some recycling and then we put on hats.  

We drive in Grandpa's pickup through corn-tunneled dirt roads to his brother's place where they've planted a patch of sweet corn big enough to lose yourself in (if you're a mountain girl who is used to seeing something on the horizon other than the horizon.)

And Grandpa and I head out into the field with 5 gallon buckets and Nora and Mom unload the buckets. I'm surprised at how clean the ground is around the corn.  I'm so used to my own garden's messy floor.  Picking corn is: tunnel of green stalks, hand feeling for the ripe ears (some are ready, some not and it's easier to tell with your hand than with your eye), sound of twist and snap, bucket getting heavier, layers of brown, green, blue. 

Nora was born a Georgia peach, and now she's officially a Nebraska cornhusker, too. 

And when we've picked enough for ourselves and a few others, we thank Mike's brother and his wife, drink straight from the garden hose, communally curse the name "bind weed," pet the cocker spaniel and head back to York where we dump the ears like a load of fish on the deck to cool off and I'm thinking about being on a boat and swearing there is nothing to catch and He tells me to try again.  And there it is: some sort of abundant beautiful.

Thank you to Chris and Terry for sharing these gifts with us.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All of Love's Slow Strength

"The main obligations of the gardener are to be mindful of the garden's needs and to be observant each day of what is going on in the garden.  And it compels you to structure your life because there are things you have to do at certain times...some things get overgrown, or die from a hard freeze, or a plant shades out one next to it--these things are ongoing and you have to respond to them as they happen.  And the garden is not deceptive.  The garden lets you know."  -- Stanley Kunitz from The Wild Braid

How do I hear the language of the garden, reaching into scratch and tangle to remove the rotted part below?  The earthy smell of growth and decay anchors me to the moment: life and death happen simultaneously.  I can't seem to live deeply, be present enough to understand the mystery of this.  Nothing is still.  How can I maintain this attention?

When I lean back into the row of cilantro in flower and the pollen stuns the memory of some old hardware store and the seed display in back, hardwood floor, silver metal scale that measures weight of nails purchased, the world comes apart inside me, and I have to close my eyes to see it happen:  The weight of nails and the sacrifice that can not be measured.

My forearms are turning red, tiny bumps emerging.  The work is not always comfortable, and yet:  The soft earth and straw under my knees respond.  I let my hands rest palm up in my lap, looking into the clouds and breathing dirt whisper and it tells me: we are relationship.  We lean into each other, need each other.  Every weed I pulled last summer, a woman removing stitches from her heart after some deep cutting away, a loss too large to address in a single moment, was relationship and negotiation.  One stitch at a time.  Until.  Only the unyielding voice remained:  You will make it.  Keep moving.  Death and life happen simultaneously. This feels like death, but it is also life.  I will always choose life, and life abundant.  

I am stunned by how much it hurts to remove the dead thing.

My life was changing and this is why we are always relationship (verb).  I am not "a person" so much as I am what passes between me and the things I touch, the things that touch me, whatever is exchanged in that space.  Whatever is lost.  And found anew.  These moments are what I leave behind.  I am only here temporarily, and my love doesn't belong to me.  It is His to give.

I was too afraid to take my time.  This must be the case:  We are relationship.  I have been writing and erasing and writing for the last two hours, and what finally breaks through is this.  I would do anything for you:  wave the space between us, strengthen it with a hand that touches, receives, lets go, calls back and finally finds rest open and facing the sky in my lap as I kneel in the garden, stilled because I had been rushing through the work.  I had felt the garden shrink back from me.  So I stopped.

Prayer is a form of slowness and attention.  Love: this takes time.

I've learned what makes love grow.  Do you know what it is, too?  Do you hold it each night?  Do you sing to it?  Do you tend it slowly as if you had nothing else in the world to do but to love it right, love it in wholeness, with every portion given despite the trauma of the past, the fear of the future?  

I think, more than anything, I'm talking about how I want to live.

Be present for this moment, the one that said, that says:  God is love.

Sidenote:  I can't explain the connection, but somehow these song lyrics figured into what was made clearer tonight.

"If there's anything to say, if there's anything to do, 

if there's any other way, I'll do anything for you.

If you had a part of me, will you take your time?

I'll do anything for you." 

--Sufjan Stevens "Widows in Paradise"

"And I am joining all my thoughts to you.  And I'm preparing every part for you."

-Sufjan Stevens "All the Trees of the Field will Clap Their Hands"

Wondered and Wonderful

At 2:18 AM, I am still awake, humming from a gig with my sisters from different misters (but united under one God).

We are a ukulele trio.  I know.  It sounds...dangerous.  And it is.  Dangerous if you want to stay depressed. Dangerous if you're afraid of moving your song out of the kitchen and into the open air.  Dangerous for that thing that keeps us away from community.  Dangerous because this is strong love at work, the kind that reminds us of how obvious the Lord's message is at times, and how we often need Him to be so direct:  Put three moms together in the same hallway and watch them grow into...of all things...a ukulele trio.  I mean, this is Nebraska folks.  It's hard to just find 3 people in the same 10 miles radius let alone 3 people who all play ukulele and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches faster than a four year old can say, "I don't feel like fish sticks."

The beauty of a this whole thing is that we are in it together--not just the three of us, but all those friends and family who are thinking and feeling and working through their own ups and downs sitting there in the audience at a ukulele show.

How strange and wonderful our lives are.  I was wondered, dazzled, dazed, awoken.

Life abundant.  God won't let you sit long in a state of hopelessness.  He just won't.

And maybe there was a line or a song or just something that broke open that wondering/dazzling thing for someone else.  I hope so.

It did in me.


Friday, July 22, 2011

The Grateful List

Sometimes in the late night/very early morning, you've just got to lay it down simple and straight.

Because eventually a tired woman will need to rest after:

New guitar strings placed and tightened and tuned, ready for a song tomorrow.
Songs worked through, wrestled with.
The scarves Nora and I tied around our ukuleles, singing with her, and realizing she knows all the words.
Visiting with two writers, talking over butter and banana bread (emphasis on butter), so comfortable and the joy can't help itself inside me.
Going single to see Harry Potter.  Wishing I could have left with Snape.  (Just kidding!  It's okay.  Really.  I can joke about these things, right?  Mom, you understand.)
Nora's kisses and the orphan dog train she made out of scotch tape and whatever else she could find.
A sleepover with Mom tomorrow night.
Revisiting Job.  Revisiting Jonah.  Watching God work it out for me.
Watching the Backyard Farmer, eating Cuban sandwiches and kettle chips.
Realizing that, with my Kitchenaid mixer, I can make a batch of Grandma Smith's banana bread in about 4 minutes.  Danger zone (comma) highway to the.
The woman at the theater booth asking if I was a student.  After 30, you'll understand what a gift it is to be carded.  Believe me.
Tomorrow morning: early rising and straight to the garden where some serious business needs to take place.  I've got sweet peas dying, an overturned tomato plant, green beans to pick, dill almost ready to be harvested, basil to pick for the pesto I'm going to make and freeze tomorrow, a row of spinach that's gone to seed and needs to be replaced with carrots (it may be too late, but I don't mind baby carrots), squash plants to take on with my vorpal sword.   Weed it and reap.  Read it and weep.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nora and Birds: The Story Continues

"Mom got me a summer job!"  Nora is dancing and talking in the kitchen explaining to Grandma that she'll be the caretaker for a parakeet named "Nacho" who will be in our presence for the next 10 days or so.

"Ten days!  That's almost forever!"  We count it out on our hands, me noticing how wrinkled the skin, how cracked the knuckles of my summer hands as the skin adjusts to water, dirt, weed.  When I was little, my mom would cover my hands in vaseline, wrap them in saran wrap and socks, and I would sleep like that, temporary relief for the dry, cracked hands of childhood eczema.   Nora's hands are soft white bird wings fluttering the number 10, practically forever.

"We should make a list of questions to ask Mrs. B about Nacho."  "Okay.  Okay."  She, dancing on tip-toes, goes to the green box that holds the reused paper cut in four parts, the backs heavy with the words of contracts and old poems, lyrics and flyers from school.  For those of you who have seen Nora in person, you know that she is always on tip-toe, a girl peaking over the edge of the unknown life with some uncontainable joy and curiosity.

1.  What does Nacho eat?
2.  Can he eat our birdseed?
3.  When do you feed her?
4.  How much do you feed her?
5.  I love nacho and I love you, Mrs. B. I will teach her good tricks.  And I love you.
6.  How does she sleep and when?
7.  Is she nocturnal?
8.  Is there anything she likes to play, like "dead" or "roll over" or "tag" or "fly tag" or "phone tag"?
9.  We will leave a note for you.
10.  Where did you get Nacho?
11.  How long does she have to pee and how long are the poos she has?   (I'm just her secretary, folks.)
12.  I love you and lots of kids are born with contacts and most kids grow up needing glasses.
13.  I love you and Nora and my mom wrote this.
14.  If she has a broke wing, we'll fix it and tell her how long she has and make her a paper replacement wing.
15.  I can't wait to take care of Nacho.
16.  Why is her name Nacho?  Nacho or taco?

Oh, my girl.  You are my bird, my gift.  I understand.  I had the same questions about you when I first put my mother hands around your tiny, dancing feet, counting toes.  Ten.  Ten is forever.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To see it, good and glory.

"Lord, let me recognize my life rightly: rightly see, rightly think, rightly thank."  -- Ann Voskamp

1.  When trouble comes a callin' on the kitchen window, a stranger's face or my own face surprising me reflected there as I glance up from dishes, and I must have been choosing some thought to make the brow wrinkle, the face age, the heart cower, the child feel as though she's done something wrong.

2.  She surprises with flowers and with a thought that blooms brighter than bachelor buttons (beautiful though they are): We are God's treasure.

And I read it today: We are His field.  We are the thing He is building.

And I am left with a choice:  To train my thoughts on that which hinders, blinds, freezes, dies, binds, and regrets.

Or to do this:  To simply allow my thoughts to shine, reflecting the perfect sight of His work in me, the work I've found hard to accept as necessary lately.  (But I am asking and praying and reaching for the cup even when I turn my face away afraid to drink what has been poured.) 

3.  I see it in the garden, also His field, the one that reflects to me His wisdom as a process.  Never stagnant.  Never still.  Vibrant.  Living.  Choosing life.  Wisdom as verb.

And this is what I see:  to become ripe, to age, to mature, one must live within, live through the extreme heat and pressure of the elements, of the conditions of one's life.  

The heavy pressure of dirt weighting down the silent, introverted seed who has yet to recognize herself, to name herself through curl of leaf, through blossom and fruit.

The rain that depresses the sun-seeking leaf also encourages the roots to dig deeper, root farther, yearn for that which is stable, firmly established, the fingers of a hand who remembers the dirt from which she came and holds it firmly in rootfingers, absorbing and stretching, pushing downward with a weight equal to the rising hope of the evolving stem, leaf, seed.

And what was in the ground bursts forth as a crown of flowers that firm to seed, released in the breeze that wakes them long enough to fly and live again.  

Monday, July 18, 2011


Nora setting her toad free into its "natural environment"--her butterfly garden.
A movie about a really fast horse.  I love horses.
Mom giving me permission, encouraging.
Three part harmony in the fellowship hall.  Let us unite, and never give up.
The miracle of a tadpole who becomes a frog and the teacher who shows us this.
Words that teach me poetry.
Asking, always asking for a real relationship with Him.  Never giving up because He never does.  He never gives up on me.
Nora swinging in the sprinkler as I pick another grocery bag full of green beans.
The first yellow squash, blossom intact.
Bees in the herb flowers.
The mess of another barn swallow couple building a muddy, miraculous nest above the front door.
A safe home in which to sleep.
Not knowing anything about my future, and asking again and again to live in this not knowing, carried by His promise.
Crying when I need to cry.
Playing with Nora as she goes shopping at "Hallmart" for a "derivity plug" for her "hubber craft."
Dancing, really dancing to the Staple Singers "I'll Take You There."  Remembering I can still swing a thing or two.  Wanting to remember that there's still a lot of life left to live and I don't have to spend it waiting for I don't know what.  I'm already there.

And for those of you who aren't afraid of putting on some headphones and dancing like your life depended on it, try this groove on for size.  I believe it will fit:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bonus Blog!: How to Make Your Own Homemade Chia Pets

I know you've been waiting for this post for a long, long time.  Who doesn't want to make a homemade chia pet?  I mean regular chia pets are SO...unusual, but homemade chia pets?  Unstoppably weird.  And, ladies, don't tell me you haven't been looking for a way to recycle those outdated pantyhose contraptions.  They're just awkward as windsocks, and I know you don't actually wear them, so you might as well make chia pets.

Cut the foot part off--about 4 inches worth.  (Warning:  Make sure you aren't wearing them at this stage.)
Drop a small hand full of grass seed in the bottom and fill the rest with dirt.  (Again, it's best if you aren't wearing them.)
Put a 4 inch "water wick" into the dirt, twist the end and tie it off with a twisty tie.
Cut off the excess pantyhose.
Decorate.  I'll leave this up to you.  This is pretty personal, so I don't want to influence you in the creative process.
Soak the whole thing in water, and put under a cup or whatever you have on hand until it sprouts.
Enjoy.  Or, you know, come to grips with whatever feelings you might have about chia pets.