August 6

It’s been many years since I’ve visited here.  It is a quiet place with gently rolling hills and old trees bending over the names.  Each name is a life.  Each life laid to rest in a mingling of earth and tears.  I remind myself that each life is ordained.  Each breath held in His hand. 

I look at the monuments.  Some of them are grand and reflect a life of earthly accolades.  There are flags flying to honor the flying brothers; Orville and Wilbur Wright are buried here.  But there are also unreadable names carved in ancient stones, the engraving long lost in years of erosion.  And in the end, there is no distinction.  We all have the same appointment.

DSC_0700My daughters wanted to come and see my grandmother’s grave.  How I adored her, and my heart swells with the memories of a childhood held in her love.  The memories run scattershot across my mind . . . playing Candyland, bedtime backrubs, the way she was a bouquet of powder and lipstick.  The sum of her comes rushing back, even her phone number.

It was hard to let her go.  I was in college.  It was February.  I had been with her, weeping and singing hymns in the last days.  Then I couldn’t be with her any more.

The letting go is never easy.  A remnant of the curse.  We were made for eternal community, and losing her was such a bitter interruption.  But we do not grieve has those who have no hope.  Ours is not a hollow hope or an abstract anchor in a shallow shoal.  We have One who has gone before us and entered the inner sanctuary on our behalf.  Only His blood could atone, and He offers it to us.  What extravagant grace!  This is the anchor we have for our souls, firm and secure, even when the diagnosis is grim.

We lay her rings on the granite, a makeshift memorial to a woman my daughters will never know this side of heaven.

DSC_0689-1It is time to go, and I take one last lingering look at her name etched in stone.  I still miss her.  But I long for the day when with glad hearts, we will rejoice together around the throne of grace.

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The Last Night

Thursday August 1

It is night.  Our last night together.  The week has been full of making memories.  Fish have been caught.  Birthday candles have been blown out.  Skits have been performed.  We have laughed and played and tried to pin a sense of permanence to a quickly fleeting week.

995972_1407231209489230_1402883786_nMy brother is sitting on a rough hewn bench, playing a guitar.  I am sprawled on the floor, listening to the strings ringing with truth.  Be Thou My Vision.  The Doxology.
Amazing Grace.  Those hands that frame a porch and rebuild a transmission can coax a dulcet melody.

This week has been a gift.  A sweeter gift than I could have imagined.  All the planning and packing and dreaming and driving have joined together in these few days of togetherness.  My two dear parents have grown to twenty.  The score of us are far flung all over this continent.  Even so, the ties that bind us are cords of love which cannot be broken by miles or years.  Happy anniversary to my parents–what a blessing it is to call you Mom and Dad!


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I’ve been away from my computer.  No wifi.  No internet.  It’s been a good vacation.  So I’ve been with my good old pen and paper, thinking and writing.  Over the next few days, I thought I’d share the overflow of my heart from the last few weeks.

July 30

I walk in a fresh dawn, long shadows gathering in the infant light.  It is my birthday and I am in Ohio.  I’ve returned to my place of beginnings.

DSC_0377My lungs fill with the goodness of farm raised air.  I breathe deep and long.  It is good to be alive.

Drops of morning glass are strung on every blade of grass.  Mist rolls on distant hills.  Geese rise in the eastern sky.

DSC_0388I walk on the gravel road and I study the incongruities.  The fragile beauty of Queen Anne’s lace unfolds alongside a raw and rugged path.  A verdant meadow is framed by a rusted gate and sharp barbs on a wire.  Life is like this–a weaving together of golden moments along a rocky road.

DSC_0373Yes, it is my birthday.  And it is a family reunion filled with cousins laughing, uncles golfing and my husband managing the kitchen.

DSC_0210_edited-1Yet on this day, back home in Vermont, my dear friends are walking through a dark valley.  They are laying a beloved son and brother into the Everlasting Arms.  The barbs of sorrow pierce deep into soul’s skin.

My heart is in two places at once.  I cannot be there to share in the grief.  In this way, I feel lonely.  I am enfeebled by miles between us.  Yet in another way, in the mystery of grace, I know that the Spirit of God can redeem my tears and prayers.  He can shape them into lavish love poured upon the farm on Cilley Hill.

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Birthday Girl

It is commonly thought, when our children are peeking into adulthood, that perhaps we didn’t enjoy them as much as we should have.  Perhaps if we knew then what we know now–that time passes quickly–we would have treasured more dearly even the long and tedious days of the early years.

DSC_0081_edited-1Yet here on the morning of Emma’s seventeenth birthday, I am not filled with that regret.  Instead, my heart finds joy.  I have loved my daughter fully and deeply.  I have cherished the sum of all the memories:  the daily searching for “Dolly,” the curls around the nape of her neck, the fondness for avocados.  I love her “ways”:  The way she doesn’t like parties, but she loves holidays.  The way she takes care of Anna when the thunder rolls at night.  The way she waits with giddy anticipation for winter’s first snowflake or the first beach day of the summer.

DSC_0090_edited-1-1DSC_0105And she is like a summer day.  All warm and beautiful and full of light.  Each day with her is a golden gift.  My first girl brought with her all the charms of loveliness, and I am thankful to be her mother.  Happy Birthday, Emma Love!

Posted in Daughters | 3 Comments

No Fear

It’s the sound no mother wants to hear.

I was standing at the kitchen window, caught in the doing of the dishes, turning David’s poetry over in my mind.  It was a typical noontime on a (finally!) perfect summer day.  The kids were outside riding bikes when the air was cut sharp with the cry of a child.

My mind raced through the possibilities.  “Which child?  What’s wrong?  How fast can I get these dishwashing gloves off my fingers?”

My littlest one ran in, the red trailing behind her, pouring from her, while terror trembled in her eight year old voice.  She opened a swelling, quivering mouth, and revealed a little white shard where a whole tooth had been.

I grabbed wads of paper towel with one hand and called the dentist with the other, answering their queries in my “everything’s gonna be okay” voice.

“Yes, it’s a permanent tooth.  No, I can’t find the missing piece.  Yes, I can be there in fifteen minutes.”

The miles slipped down the road and she sobbed in the back seat.  “I’m so scared.  I’m not pretty anymore.  I don’t think they can fix it.  Are you scared too?”

I rehearsed the answers that I believe with all my heart, speaking truth to her swaying faith:  “Anna, this is not what we expected today, but it was not a surprise to God.  He is with us.  He longs to take care of you and carry you close in His arms.  You can trust Him.  You can trust me and Daddy because we love you so much.  And you’ll always be beautiful to us.”

Just two days ago, this sweet girl wanted to decorate a shirt with “Bible things.”  She wanted the cross.  The trinity.  Words from her two favorite verses:  “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  And this:  “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  Yesterday she wore her promises.  Today she had to walk in them.

DSC_0016The Lord’s kindness was revealed in a gathering of graces, from the gentle hands of a gifted dentist to a silly, swollen kiss for Daddy.  In Anna’s little world, this was a great, big thing.  And in the end, I think she got a glimpse of her great, big God.

Posted in Daughters, Grace Gifts | 4 Comments

The Simple Gift Series — {Today’s Garden}

Once again I forgot to put frames around the peonies.  Perhaps I am propping up so many other things that the heavy flowers are destined to a life bent low.  I can only do so much.

But here are the rescued ones, and my house smells of the sweetness of spring.

DSC_0032 DSC_0034 DSC_0045_edited-1It is all rather like a joyful hymn:  “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.”  In the unfolding there is a receiving and a becoming and a conferring of certain beauty wrought by the Hand of God.

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Chalkboard Art 1.0

I’ve been intrigued by all the chalkboard art I’ve seen on Pinterest, and I’ve always enjoyed “lettering,” so here is my first meager and humble attempt:

DSC_0002-2I love this verse.  In my mind’s eye, I can picture the Levites, ministering in the temple and standing before the Lord, morning and evening, to offer thanks and praise.  Indeed even now, the Lord is the One who makes all of His children able to stand in His presence. 

This little project required a bit of planning.  First I bought a frame, then went to Lowe’s to have a board cut to size.  I painted it with chalkboard paint and then planned how I wanted the verse to look.  I wanted “Praise and Glorify” to flow freely, just like our praise should.  The Lord is our Rock and our Fortress, so I wanted the lettering for His Name to be strong and majestic.  “Every morning and every evening” follows the circadian rhythm of praise, a simple and even font.

I wrote this out on graph paper with pencil, then chalked all over the back of it, using a pencil to transfer the words onto the chalkboard.  Then I used wet-erase chalk ink markers to write the words on the chalkboard.  Ta-Da!

May we all find many reasons to stand before our Lord today, thanking and praising Him for His greatness. 


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A gift from the sea — {Dining Room}

So here’s our dining room.  It is truly the gathering place.  It is where we behold God, and eat and drink (Exodus 24:11)–and it lends a sweet foretaste of eating and drinking at His table (Luke 22:30).  We had this table built five feet square to get the most mileage out of a small space.

DSC_0020We have a votive candle holder on our dining room table which I enjoy filling with seasonal treasures.  The candle holder was made from reclaimed Vermont barn wood, so it’s right at home here.  As I just returned from a little excursion to the beach (yay!), I added some shells to the tray.  Ahhh–summertime.  I am hoping to make a ruffled table runner this summer.

DSC_0008 DSC_0002Our prints are from a trip to Quebec City, a favorite place!  The prints are made from copper etchings and they capture the charm of the old walled city.  The were purchased at an open air art market on the Rue de Tresor–a must-see destination for anyone traveling to this richly historical city.

DSC_0019 The last picture shows a diminutive set of pewter salt and pepper shakers on a little tray.  It was found on a “birthday antiquing outing” with my friend, and I love it!  It has been fun to incorporate a few antiques into my house here and there.  DSC_0021

“They beheld God, and ate and drank.”  Exodus 24:11

paint:  Benjamin Moore bone white, table:  Pompanoosuc Mills

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All Things New

I walk the yard in the once-again spring, the season I dare to believe in during the unconvincing brown and gray of March.  The season always surprises me, unfolding slowly yet suddenly.  The ground softens, the rivers swell, the ferns unfold, the frogs sing and there is all. this. life.  I am recklessly hungry for it after the long, cold days of winter.

It seems every flower has a word for me today.  Lily of the valley.  It’s been a “valley” sort of year.  Just putting one foot in front of the other.  Navigating unfamiliar roads of unintended wounds both given and received.  Yet I know there are lessons for me here.  And here, in the valley, there are lilies.  They are white and small, bent low and hiding—each little bell a beacon of beauty and fragrant hope.

DSC_0240Then there are the bleeding hearts.  In this world where bombs are exploding and children are shot and refugees cry in the dark, there are so many bleeding hearts.  And here in my own corner I’ve felt caught in a difficult place.  I so often fall short of my own expectations and the weight of my own sin can feel too heavy in the balance.

DSC_0246But here He meets me with His own bleeding heart, and it becomes a thing of beauty.  He bears my burden gladly, takes away my sin and gives me life.

This is what God does.  He brings life.  He makes new things.  He makes things new.  

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Evening Gift — {Moonrise in Vermont}

The lesser light was great last night, governing the dark with unusual glory.  I pulled off the road to watch it rise, deep and full and heavy.  Others followed, trying to capture the weight of the moment.  There we were, three cars deep on the side of the road, caught in an evanescent moonrise.


I remembered words written by John Piper:  “Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God.”


Did we pull of the road to gaze at ourselves?  Oh, no.  We saw splendor.  Suddenly, that moment was all we had.  Never again will we see that moon, the way it looked with the slender leafless branches silhouetted in the foreground, the way it lit up all the earth in its path, the way that it reflected the glory of its Creator.

But in the end, even April’s “pink moon” will not do.  We were made to worship the moon Maker, the One Who breathed a world into existence, the One who is light. 

Moon - 4Photo credits:  Joanne Delabruere (my little cell phone camera just didn’t do it justice!).

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