October 26, 2011

Sibling Portraits, Oil on Wood.

I have two amazing older brothers.

My oldest brother, Jared, is a man of intellect and integrity. He recently applied to medical school after many years of working as a civil engineer. This courage of his speaks loudly to me... makes me remember that our days on this earth are short, and why not live them bold?

My middle brother, Jaxon, is a man of generosity and passion. He does things with paint that don't seem humanly possible. His humility and kindness towards everyone, no matter their stature in this world, make me want to be a better person.

I love these two men dearly. Recently, my mom commissioned Jaxon to paint us three siblings so she could hang the portraits in her home. They are oil on wood, and stunning...

If you or anyone you know ever want a portrait done, I KNOW A GUY.

October 7, 2011

Feasting on Crow.

It was there when I woke up this morning, this contemptuous weight lodged in my chest that had me angry even before my feet had time to hit the floor.

Watch out, everyone. Mama's awake.

Ezra bore the brunt of it. He was whiny and snively and I had not an ounce of patience to my name. I was snapping angry and stomping before the sun even had a chance to peek over the neighbor's rooftop.

My husband tried to infuse some peace into the battlefield, but when Ezra left for school I was still fuming- cleaning random objects and sighing until there was almost no oxygen left in the house for anyone else to breathe. My day was already looking quite bleak and dreary- Myer started to whine and my eyes searched hungry for the clock.

It was only 8:00 in the morning.

I felt the mother-guilt creep in like a blanket of fog.

A painful hour and a half later, I was standing in a room at my church with a large group of women- mothers, all. The fact that so many of us had made it, had stumbled through the doors with small children hanging off of every limb, in spite of nap times and potty breaks and accidents and twisted car seat straps and dropped pacifiers, was in and of itself a miracle.

We sang. "Tune my heart to sing thy grace." The mother-guilt tried to sing louder. Why had I been so angry at my six-year-old child this morning? Why had I woken up and felt that someone needed to pay?

A woman from my church spoke about knowing your child's specific strengths and weaknesses, and how we need to be building our children up rather than tearing them down with our words.

The mother-guilt was screaming. It was so loud in my ears, I was sure the whole room could hear it.

By the time the morning was over, there were only two options for me:

1. go home and limp through the rest of my day, hoping it would all blow over and be forgotten by 5:00 so we could eat dinner and get the kids to bed and hope for a better outcome of tomorrow... or

2. go eat crow. Meaning- stop by Ezra's school on the way home, unload the two littlest boys, make my way to the school office and then to Ezra's classroom, pull him out into the hallway, get down on my knees so I could see straight into his deep clear green eyes, and tell the boy I was sorry for being a grumpy jerk to him earlier.

I debated with myself the whole way home. Myer needed to eat, Truman needed to nap. I needed to clean bathrooms during the ONLY spare moment I would have that day- and that moment would only happen IF I could manage to get Truman and Myer to nap at the same time. My whole day was at stake! My to-do list was at stake! My dirty toilets were at stake!

It was obvious what needed to be done. I made up my mind, turned into the school, and prayed that God would give me the right words to say to my child. With every step I took toward my son's classroom, I felt chunks of burden sloughing off of me to the floor.

By the time I found the sweet boy, I was beaming.

I dropped down to his level- in front of the whole cafeteria full of kids and teachers- feeling a million eyes on my face, and I ate crow. I feasted on crow. I asked him to forgive me and apologized for my poor attitude. I told him I was proud of him and I watched gratefully as his face broke into that big goofy grin and he hugged my neck and told me he forgave me, absolutely.

As I loaded the little boys back into the car in the parking lot, I was a new woman.

Feeling forgiven has a way of doing that to a person, yes? Making them feel new, I mean.

And when we got home? No one napped. Myer hardly ate. It took me all afternoon to clean the bathrooms because I had to keep both my eyes on the boys. And we all ate hot dogs for dinner.

HOT DOGS! The horror!!!

But you know what? It was a GREAT day. Not because it was squeaky-clean and well executed... oh no no no. It was a hot mess of chaos, mostly. But my heart sang free in the midst of the tumult and I found myself truly grateful for fresh starts (always only one decision away!) and quick, toothy-grinned forgiveness.

I had no idea crow could taste so good.

October 2, 2011

For You are Good.

The older boys are out back and I've got the door flung open wide. The baby naps and I can hear their mini shovels sounding against the hard dirt in the backyard. It was a long, hot, dry Summer. The very earth seems to cry out sharp when you try to break it up, let it breathe.

The breeze synchronizes their blond hair and matching Superman capes and a dog barks distant. I breathe deep and close my eyes.

We skipped church this morning because of Ezra's cough that has turned his voice into gravel, but even in this I am thankful. This morning as the sun grew warm we all worked in the front yard together, pruning the bushes and raking up leaves and sweeping the walk. As Ezra clipped at the dense leaves, bringing shape back to the hedge, we talked about how letting go of things can be hard- painful lopping off- but it always allows room for new growth. Stronger growth. Greener growth.

As I scooped up the clippings and pressed them down into the bucket, I got lost in the wonder. Again, the kingdom stands on its head and logic can't grasp it. Chop in order to grow. Clip back in order to spring forth. I find awe in my front yard.


The peace of this moment shatters. It never lasts, it never sticks. Dirt flies through the air. Myer growls angry. Shovel now flies through the air. Ezra yelps pain. I storm out heavy onto the deck, scoop up the dirt covered two-year-old and hiss in his ear that it is never okay to throw shovels. His dirt clings to me as I strip him down to bring him inside. He kicks at me, screams, yells "Go way!" in my face.

Now baby screams, awoken much too early by his older brothers, for the second time today.

I burn hot.


This is par for the course these days... me limping along upon moments of high and low. The highs are the highest they've ever been, the lows come more quickly than ever before. How am I, ragged mother, to stand straight and tall before God in the throes of these days? I can almost see the word 'Pharisee' scrawled upon a banner above my head. One moment I am praising Him for his gifts, this day, these boys, this house, this job! The very next I am cursing- literally cursing- under my breath and throwing barbed words around hoping they will stick somewhere, to someone, and relieve the pressure in my chest.


Chris comes home from a long morning of playing music at two back-to-back church services. I feel the desire to lash out at him... somehow stick the morning I've had to his shirt and walk away from it. It's touch and go for a moment, he softens me with his eyes.

We talk of the big things coming up on the horizon. My heart starts to beat life again. I wash dishes in the soapy sink and I sing as loud as the napping children's closed doors will allow.

"Oh Lord, my rock,
my strength in weakness...
come rescue me,
Oh Lord..."

As I move my sponge in circles over the caked-on cinnamon roll frosting, I smile because I somehow sang joy into this mess of a day and the floor in front of my kitchen sink is suddenly holy ground. I feel God's pleasure rise up all around me and I see in my mind a picture of a little blonde tossled-haired girl sitting on her trampoline in the dusk staring up at the mountains that seem to spring up from the edge of her backyard and it's me! And He's there! I knew it then and I know it now and I feel Him say, bold:

"I am so proud of the woman you have become."

My tears mix with the dish water and I sing it back soft:

"You are my hope,
and Your promise never fails me.
For you are good,
for you are good,
for you are good
to me."