Thursday, May 28, 2020

In broad strokes...

We've been taking lots of bike rides lately
Morning, mid-day, late-afternoon, and early evening
Between e-learning tasks, work calls
Our popular route takes us by a Colonial red brick two-story
built into the side of a gently sloping hill
This time I notice a new landscaping detail
It seems the owner covered all
the special garden 
in copper paint

Every single one

I guess it's easy to categorize
creating a world of uniformity and predictability
consistent evidence of preference, comfort
aligned in harmonious detail

I swipe through my quarantine photos
e-learning assignments I emailed to teachers
Bible verse art
themed front-door decorations
the living room e-learning parlor
bedrooms neatly tended
family room game times
kitchen table Monopoly matches
home-schooling charts hung on the pantry door
lists of our triggers and potential solutions
belly breaths
Grandma laughing on FaceTime
my desk upstairs
its remote project to-do list atop stacks of spiral-bound books 
my laptop with its faded keys
recipes I'd like to try when I have more time
screenshots of Zoom meeting codes, passwords
a sunset
random Timehop memories I've saved again
even though the kids are bigger now
from vacations
seasonal family gatherings
ball games
the consistency

Tonight I drop my elder off at his first baseball practice for this season
Later we're packing to go to my parents' for the weekend
the first time in months
I went to a store on Tuesday
it'd been since mid-March
I sipped on a chai latte from Starbucks
my husband brought it to me today while I worked
because I'm still digging out
from the multi-faceted home/work me

Pandemics aren't so easy to categorize,
to create a memory where there's 
uniformity of emotion, space, or time
mixed with
unending quiet
soft conversations
green grass
new leaves
missing in my photostream 
and exquisite
God's provision
my heart

Minus the copper-colored garden...

Write on,

Thursday, April 30, 2020

In full transparency...


In full transparency, I was upstairs
Just sitting in my grandmother's comfy yet diminutive armchair
Watching the sunlight slip like silk through the bedroom window blinds
and highlight speckled slivers of our floral rug
It was quiet
And separate

In full transparency, I forgot about "the cake" in the oven
He watches "Chopped Sweets" and is empowered to create
Tossing in a variety of ingredients, a little of this, a lot of that
In full confidence that his recipe will be worthy of the prize
At seven years old
"It's cinnamon-forward, Mommy"

I bounded down the stairs to flip open the oven door

In full transparency, I just about lost it
The chocolate batter oozed its way across the oven's floor
Burning around the edges, smoldering like a forest fire expanding its domain
Smoking like one, too
It was both quiet and obnoxious

On the rack above, the covered pan of lasagna simmered...


Out came a cookie sheet to remove "the cake" from the oven
Out came the oven's bottom rack to make more room
Out came a metal spatula to scrape up the smoldering batter

The kitchen door and front door opened to remove the smoke from the kitchen
The burnt, oozing cake scraps disgraced the patio table
And the lasagna returned to its safe simmer

On the stovetop, "the cake" rested 
Adding another layer to our little baking inquiry
What happens when you partially bake an item and 
let the residual heat finish the process

Oh to find out...the triumph; the glory; the utter science of it all

In full transparency, I just want the lasagna...

Write on,

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lost in the dangling conversation...

So, what do you write in the middle of a pandemic?
I mean, really...what?

In school Zoom calls, we always joke, "in our after-pandemic reflection meeting, we'll make sure to note...X, Y, Z, AA, AB, AC, etc." Seriously. It is like designing a license plate scheme for a state - the number of combinations you can come up with to catalog the things we wondered, noticed, learned, had to learn, and didn't even know existed a month ago is a mathematical challenge.

A heart challenge, too. If I'm honest, and you know you always can be in writing -
I want my old life back.

The wait in my car at the drive-thru and the first sip of my chai latte,
that signaled the start of a good day doing good things
for and with kids, teachers, and coaches.

But what about the special people at home
and pouring your heart and soul into them right now?
         You can do that, too.
You can bring peace where there's strife,
growth where there's stubbornness
and smiles after tears.
I've entrusted them to you.
Can you trust Me with the hills and valleys - even if it feels like there are more valleys than hills?
Even if the mundane feels...more than mundane?
And even when no one rushes back to say thank-you?
I know how that feels, too. I can help.

The time by myself in the car, 
that prepared me for the day ahead 
and the evening at home.

But why don't you depend on Me for your peace?
I've come so that you can have it, and
you spend your days thinking about what you should and could be doing
instead of where I've placed you right now.
I'll grant you quiet and space.
Can you quit depending on yourself to provide it?
My burden is light.

The ballgames. Oh, the ballgames. 
The close plays. 
The excitement. 
The stories afterward.

But what about all the extra innings I'm giving you here?
Remember, the time at home that you longed for last spring
when you were running everywhere?
Yes. That.
I'm giving it to you now. Generously.
Use it to love your team well
to grow their hearts
their minds
their can-do spirit.
Their perseverance in the eternal.
You can be their coach, too.
Will you use your own stories to help them grow?
Tell them so they can trust Me and they can trust you, too.

The time at work to 
explore new questions, 
learn new things, and 
grow new ideas.

But what about situating yourself to learn from Me?
Remember I can make a way where it feels like there is no way.
And I can do it again. And again. And, again. And, again.
And, I will.
Will you just let go of controlling the work time already?
(I feel like we've had this talk before...we can have it again.)
(And I run a better meeting - you've told me so.)
I'll provide the content, the opportunities, and the ideas.
I'm sufficient.
You can trust me. 
I give rest to those who trust.

Or, do I? Do I really want it all back?

Or, do I want to listen, learn, and practice these luxurious lessons? In this space and time that defies all reason, I'm leaning toward the latter. It's really the only thing that makes any sense right now and that would feel valuable in my own post-pandemic reflection...

Write on,

P.S. I'm so curious... How are you right now? What are you learning? 

Friday, March 31, 2017

31: For the ages...

 Dad and I were in their garage workshop this week
He updated me on current furniture refinishing projects
and I noticed a new one: this

A showstopper

"What do you plan to do with this mantel?"
I ask before I get too attached
even though I already have designs about 
how it might be sanded, stained, sealed
to allow the piece's beautiful details to shine

How we might revise our current builder-grade mantel with this
what arrangements we'd need to make to start the installation project
support its progress, and see its completion
what materials we might use in the square opening: brick, tile, or shiplap

Even in its roughest form 
I know it is a beauty
a rare find
full of potential

In the hands of someone who knows about
types, characteristics of wood
how to use tools and materials artfully
the time and care it takes to refine roughness into beauty
{someone like my dad}
the piece will become the truest version of itself
one for the ages
for those in the past
and the special people yet to come
to remember them, him, me

Then I started thinking about 
how these special antiques mimic my writing life
March reminds me to get back into the workshop
and notice the beauty in moments, minutes, months
March reminds me
to lovingly refine
and save each one 
as the truest version of itself
to remember
for the ages
for my people
for you

Write on,

Congratulations, fellow writers, on SOLSC 2017! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

30: You

I snuggled into bed with you
early afternoon today
You yawned - I knew it was time
You cradled your blankie and rubbed the tag
while sucking your thumb
Your tell-tale sign

It was time for me, too
I don't remember much
past your yawn
your blankie
your thumb

I made it over the hill...
...and then woke up to you 
tapping my nose and 
finger-combing my hair
and giggling

One more tiny kiss on the hair
"Sleep tight"
"I'll set the timer and you can get up when it goes off"
"Make sure you're quiet enough to hear it..."

And you ran around upstairs instead
while I sat downstairs reading

So I invited you, again, to
"Stay in bed quietly"
"Just five more minutes"
"Be super still..."

And guess what?

You were

For better than three hours


At dinnertime
you bounced downstairs
to notice the cookies on the cooling rack
"I was TIRED, Mommy!"
"That was a goooooood nap!"
fell between cookie one
and cookie two


Sleepy you...
Funny you...
Growing you...

Write on,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

29: Heart check...

Tonight I escaped into the laundry room
to fold the finished clothes and transfer the wet load into the dryer
to find a little peace

I opened the washer
"Moooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmy!  Where ARE you?"
"I'm in the laundry room."

I could hear the elder little's feet 
pad down the stairs and across the wooden floors
until they stopped on the rug beside me
17 seconds.  17 seconds.

"What do you need?"
admittedly sounding more annoyed than charitable

"I just wanted to see if you need any help.  Can I help you?"

{heart check}

"Yes.  Absolutely.  Thank you for thinking of me.  Thank you for being so unselfish and caring to ask.  Your words made my day."

Write on,

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

28: Weighty questions...

After orange chicken and fried rice at Panda Express and dominoes at home on New Year's Eve, the elder little and I prepared for sleep by snuggling up for Elephant and Piggie stories.  I hopped out of bed to flip off the bedroom lights in favor of the dimmer closet light. His still-wet spikes of chocolate brown hair stood tall against the red-and-white-firetruck pillowcase and his eyes were dark pools as I knelt beside the twin bed for prayers.

"When we're in heaven, will I know you?"

That's a good one.  

"Of course, Buddy."

I mean, I can only guess.  But it seems like we would, right?  

Ever the rational one, the elder little made a plan. "Since you'll get there first, do you think you can call me to tell me what it's like in heaven?  You can tell me where you are."

"There are no phones in heaven; we won't need them," I rationalize in return, already anticipating the peacefulness.  I looked over to his soft, sweet cheeks...they were turning red hot.

He paused and then stammered. "But how will I find you?  There will be millions of people there."

The enormity of it all.

The red hot cheeks progressed into a full-blown sob.  He continued.  "And you're just one person."

I slipped underneath the covers next to his little body and covered the right side of his velvety forehead with the tiniest kisses.

"You'll know my heart, right?  In fact, there are only two people who have been nearest to and your brother.  Don't you spend even one second crying about that... We will find each other."

I just know it.  

I turned away to catch a tear or two sliding, hot, across my right cheek. His face, covered by the crimson quilt with ivory stars, hid equally well.

"I love you...always will; whenever...wherever.  Night-nights."

I pulled down the quilt, just a smidge, to kiss his forehead one more time before tiptoeing downstairs.

He had me thinking...

Write on,