Saturday, July 31, 2010

learning faith

"faith is atonement," said Abraham.
then he planted a tabernacle,
altar bloody and veil thick,
to teach us to yearn for Greater.

"faith is life," said Habakkuk.
then he planted fear in his heart,
knowledge of the Holy,
to teach us humility.

"faith is a Branch," said Yaweh.
then He planted the God-Man,
walking divinity,
to teach us how to walk straight.

"faith is a seed," said Jesus.
then He planted miracle-seeds,
deeds we could not do,
to teach us Whom to trust.

"faith is sacrifice," said Jesus.
then He planted Himself upon a cross,
the Lamb slain,
to teach us the sting of sin.

"faith is resurrection," said an angel.
then he planted himself upon a stone,
a useless, unsealed stone,
to teach us how to hope.

"faith is adoption," said Paul.
then he planted a thread,
from body of death to Spirit of life,
to teach us to cry, "Abba! Father!"

"faith is patient," said James.
then he planted perseverance,
amid trials and popular opinion,
to teach us loyalty to his Brother-Master.

that faith will lead us Home.

Friday, July 30, 2010

smelling sweetness

i just stepped onto this old, rented porch,
just to put something away --
and it caught me:

that old-porch smell.

wood stained gray
by years gone by,
fresh air filtering through
childhood excitement...

it grabbed my feet,
planted them.
it welled up in my throat --
i exhaled deep, anticipating
another sweet, smoky pull
on that old-porch smell...

leaving our Ontario driveway in morning darkness;
Doobie Brothers,
Loggins and Messina,
Paul and Linda,
early-evening arrivals at New York;
staring out van windows so as not to miss that Maple-lined road:

Grampa Ben's Farm.

soft Gramma Violet's lap,
aunt-kisses and uncle-tickles,
kitchen-stool Maple-buttered toast.

elbow-leaning between pillar candles melting spice,
lining up with cousins behind ice cream churn,
playing dress-up in Spare Oom.

loving/hating Christmas-new footed pajamas,
wiggling in double bed beside little sister,
wondering at the Sugar Shack.

Grampa Ben rests in maple shade, now.

Uncle Lee collects sap,
distills syrup -- thick and sweet like memories
of my mother's childhood home.
Aunt Kim divines treats in her Cakery
and in Gramma's kitchen,
sweetening the visits of brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.

i hope to take my family to that dear old porch,
come spring.

and here,
a little girl-in-footed-pajamas-turned-mom
will try,
on this old, rented porch,
to collect and distill sweet memories
into treats
for her three sons.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

pondering Matthew 7

i've been


finding specks,
missing logs

flaunting pearls,
wallowing in mud

waiting and waiting and waiting
for a door to open,
for an answer to shout,
for heaven to drip milk and honey.

i've been all wrong.

"If you then, who are evil..."
(that's me; i'm evil)

"...know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things
to those who ask Him!"

so all i have to do is ask?
really. just. ask?

yes, it's true,
but please don't miss the analogy, bethany.

my Father who is in heaven
made me,
nurtured me,
felt me desert Him,
saw me fall on my face,
picked me up,
reclaimed me,
and now expects something of me:

that i act as His daughter.

trust His judgment.
judge Him to be trustworthy.

ask Him, and wait on His answer, and take it.

and then remove the log,
get out of the mud,

and save my pearls for Home.

to read Matthew 7, click:

for more ponderings, visit:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

finding a home

"home is where you feel safest," trent read to emily.
"i feel safest with you. you are home," emily answered trent.

now it's my turn to answer:
my turn to tribute the man who is
my home.

i remember patchy green grass lit sideways by sun setting on the East.
back then, home was still sun-bright West
and i wasn't there.
but in that New Brunswick softball field,
some clown hung between heaven and earth, horizontal
like his life depended on catching that ball.

secretly, i was impressed.

then it was my turn to clown around outfield,
for i knew nothing of the sport
and nobody had fulfilled their vows to teach me.
i felt uncomfortable,
far from home,
and now, i was without a glove.
some clown with grass stains on his shirt
handed me his glove -- worn in all the right places.

secretly, i was very impressed.

softball clown became after-class chit-chat clown,
dining hall newspaper-lingering clown,
chapel side-sitting clown.

and i was his fool,
and i found home.

today, his grass-stained shirt has baby boogers on it, too.
that glove sits in the basement --
it will be handed to a new generation of softball-divers.

today, the man who is my home
hangs between heaven and earth, striving
like his life depended on fulfilling his vows.
he loves me with every little self-sacrificing decision,
until his mind is blown
and his back is busted
and his eyes droop shut.

then, his hands -- worn in all the right places --
scoop me up
and we fall asleep
and the sun sets
on our home away from Home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

getting mindful

i read in a magazine yesterday that i need to start Thinking Mindfully.
i got tips on Walking Meditation
(focusing on one aspect of walking, such as
my feet touching the ground,
whilst walking in slow circles),

Body Meditation
(focusing on the sensations in my toes,
right on up to my head, and
imagining my breath reaching in to each part
and then out my nose,
whilst lying down)

and even Raisin Meditation
(observing a raisin,
and everything it causes me to feel,
before and while tasting, chewing;
making a conscious decision when to swallow).

these, the article claimed, will help me to alleviate stress,
improve my immune response,
avoid over-eating,
bring Balance,
and generally Improve the Quality of My Life.

now. being a Comfortably Christian Girl, i must admit that a part of me
automatically rejects anything marked "Meditation".
still, the article had a point.
if we were all Mindful about the way we walked,
talked, moved, felt, ate,
we would all be Better People.

so, tonight as i did my little Broom Dance,
i thought and thought.
that word, "Meditation", was sticking to something in my heart.

"In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word."
Psalm 119:14-16

God wants me to meditate, all right -- but raisins are just peanuts!

"I am speaking the truth in Christ --
I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit --
that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
- Paul, Romans 9:1-3

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
James 1:27

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1,2

Jesus: Temple-cleanser.
Jesus: leper-lover.
Jesus: sinner-sitter.
Jesus: Man of Sorrows.

can we really be a bunch of stress-free, toe-sensation-focusing people?
maybe -- but hopefully not at the price of an outward focus.

i'm not sure that Balance is the first thing Jesus is asking me to strive for.

because i'm not Home yet.

Monday, July 26, 2010

catching magic

this afternoon,
before supper,
our boy pushed the loveseat in front of the couch
to make a boat-bed
with a door on the side,
topped it with pillows, blankets, brothers,
and magic,
filled sippy cups with fresh water,
and called us adults over.
he wanted to have a party.

there we sat,
for just a few moments,
until suppertime,
when we all left the room,
each needing to prepare something or other.
i returned and tidied up,
removed the magic.
he returned and cried.
he wanted to have a party.

there we sat,
on the very un-magical couch,
and i comforted and encouraged
while he blinked and sniffed.
i'm sorry, i said,
we can fix this.
we will have a party after supper.
and that little magic spark started to catch.
he wanted to have a party,
and now, so did i.

this evening,
after supper,
we pushed the loveseat back in front of the couch.
there we sat,
watched him drink from his sippy cup,
prevented his baby brother from jumping off the back of the loveseat,
and had a party.
it wasn't much,
but it was full of magic.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

living in-between

we wake to a faint cry
push off the heavy duvet we sleep under
in the thick of summer
filtered through air conditioning

and i sigh at our circumstance

little one grabs his fuzzy blanket
i hoist him onto the change pad
which has lasted through three babies
thanks to a layer of duct tape

and i chuckle at my ingenuity

i fix good, hot mush for breakfast
stir in blueberries from the freezer
shake dinosaur sprinkles on top
so the boys will love it

and i smile at their luck

the boys become super heroes
in our toy-filled living room
learn the alphabet electronically
grab the sky on their trampoline

and i wish every child had it this good

i flip on the basement light
dodge cobwebs, wires and pipes
stuff clean laundry into the dryer
without dropping any onto the dirty floor

and i am struck by the contrast

and there's more:

shiny laptop screen
to rippled, single-pane windows
dressed in made-over curtains

stainless steel fridge
and imitation leather couch set
to lifting tiles and bowing hardwood

shiny red minivan
and hammock swings
to weedful lawn...

it's funny, this spot our family occupies
on a rung that hovers in-between:
a decadent poverty, if you will.

in a lot of ways, it's easier:
not having to maintain straight hedges
or dustless windowsills...
knowing there will never be a reflection
on my rented floors...
it frees up time and energy for other things.

and a lot of the time, it makes me think:
about North America,
its sacrifices and its ideals...
about the third world, about developing nations,
their sacrifices and their ideals...

about hurting people everywhere:
those who keenly feel it
and those too rich to know they're in pain.

it's where we live,
here in-between.
our home is always open.

because we're not Home yet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

summer walking

sidewalk slapping underneath flip-flop feet,
toes brown on top and pink on bottom --

buggy bumping over chalk pictures,
ice cream painting chins and elbows --

air swirling moist around bare knees,
sun heating white sky without shadows --

head bobbing heavy as soother flutters,
salt licking lips as front door opens --

baby sprawled across cool blankets,
big girls sipping watermelon slush --

Friday, July 23, 2010


to rebecca:
blue eyes beholding what can't be seen,
teacher hands scooping up hope
so many can drink,
just to wander your summers --
just to wrap yourself in happy friends --
thank you.

to jen:
blue eyes seeing every tiny wrinkle,
mother hands fixing every manner of hurt
for two honey heads,
while planning for tomorrow --
while hoping for sunshine and family --
thank you.

to carly:
brown eyes dreaming candles and white,
missionary hands building a future home
for two ragamuffins,
full of faraway heart-calls --
full of music and light --
thank you.

to leah:
blue eyes watching life become real,
girlish hands striving and reaching out
to family and friends,
so genuinely alive --
so gifted with beauty and praise --
thank you.

to rhonda:
gray eyes filled with scars and stars,
purple-nailpolished hands
speaking love,
for glimpses into a world of watchers --
for blue blanket hugs and every precious memory --
thank you.

to emily:
blue eyes surveying a world of cares,
artist hands finding holes
to fill with grace,
weaving life-stories into triumph --
weaving canola fields into a home --
thank you.

to kristy:
blue eyes studying depth,
teacher hands marking the way
that must be followed,
still feeling baby softness in your prayers --
still waiting for that blessed hope --
thank you.

to virginia:
green eyes gazing down new roads,
counsellor hands itching to create
a life that satisfies,
making me remember --
making me watch and pray --
thank you.

to sherri:
brown eyes glancing at precious faces,
wife hands holding a daughter
and learning the balance,
always innocently loving --
always gifting this world with mercy --
thank you.

to dayna:
brown eyes seeking wisdom,
potter hands smoothing ugliness into beauty
for the love of your sons,
speaking truth that doesn't fade --
speaking grace and laughing faith --
thank you.

to lisa:
blue eyes seeing purpose and order,
chef hands spinning sugar into memories
that boast of love,
sharing time and strength --
sharing your most precious gift with me --
thank you.

to amanda:
brown eyes wishing for simplicity,
frugal hands sewing love
into your children's very being,
never is the road too steep --
never have you faltered long --
thank you.

to jessica:
hazel eyes cutting through the haze,
sister hands holding and knowing
without a doubt,
singing songs of childhood light --
singing to rid your world of fear --
thank you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

searching the Face

You spoke in times past through the fathers.

You gasped newborn breath --
cried at the pain of using lungs --
suckled, slept
...through a baby boy.

You learned to roll over,
learned to crawl,
learned to walk --
tiny toes roughening with every step
...through a toddler.

who taught You to walk?
on water and into sickrooms,
beside funeral pyres and through deserts --
You stank of everything that soils a human's flesh
because You walked
...through a man.

and yet You changed everything:
water into meeting-ground,
sickrooms into holy ground.
funeral pyres emptied, deserts filled --
even human flesh is now different.
even glorified.

because of You,
the God-Man.

i have met You in Your Word,
in Your world,
in Your people --

You have begun the change in me --

how i long to meet You
face to face.

for more wonderings, visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ten o'clock waiting

it is ten o' clock.

my eyes blink hard with haze of hours.
my back aches tight from arms of children.
my mouth tastes old of decaf coffee.
my neck creaks stiff with bend of concentration.
my cheeks flush red with stare of sun,
with stare of heart-eyes.

they've been here,
asking and scrunching faces
and waiting and scrunching hearts

and i've been
and waiting
and writing
and hoping
and pleading heart-sick

for the Answer.

and i blush
and i believe
and i need to go to bed,
and i, i...

i'm not Home yet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


it is night.
three beds --
top bunk, bottom bunk, and a twin --
are all laid over with sleeping boys.

i step softly into the hallway
and listen for the nothingness
that tells me it's time.

time to pick up my broom
and begin my night dance.

not a dance of romance or passion, this,
but a dance of rhythm, yes,
and of order.

i start in that hallway at the bottom of the stairs
and carefully, so as not to dislodge more paint from the trim,
and quietly -- well, as quietly as possible on this floor --
the dance begins.

now i am sweeping tramped-in outdoor dirt.
next i am in the living room,
removing snacky remnants from the edges,
breakfasty runaways from the trail worn through the middle.
then comes the dining room,
and the kitchen,
then the art room,
that green landing,
and finally, the back steps.

it's the same every night.
i could sweep this pattern in the dark --
to be honest, i often have.

"good job," dan says as i finish.
and, if he doesn't say it, i know he'll be thinking it sometime soon
as he surveys his humble kingdom:
rolling on the floor with a prince or three,
throwing impromptu feasts,
entertaining dignitaries.

he loves me, his cinderella,
and his love inspires me to dance

with a broom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

introducing Five-Year-Old

this morning, i made breakfast for my three boys:
fruit smoothies
and peanut butter sandwiches topped with whipped cream.
that's right: Whipped Cream.

Five-Year-Old, arms crossed, scowled at his sandwich:
"there's no banana on it!"

this morning, we picked up our three boys from child minding:
a room full of babies
and little girls playing with pink toys.
that's right: Pink Toys.

Five-Year-Old, wrapped around us, pleaded to return:
"the puppets need us!"

this morning, we took our three boys to the park:
five Davidsons
clamouring to fill one teeter-totter.
that's right: All Five.

Five-Year-Old, holding tight to the sky, beamed:
"i'm loving this!"

this afternoon, we divvied up lunch into bowls for our three boys:
omelet, cottage cheese
and a spinach leaf.
that's right: Green Stuff.

Five-Year-Old, open-mouthed, watched a cartoon duck:
chewed and swallowed the vegetable without a word.

this afternoon, i tidied up while my three boys played:
filled the space behind the loveseat
with every toy and blanket they could find.
that's right: Every One.

Five-Year-Old, button-shirt stuck around neck, streamed tears:
"i was trying to have a pajama party!"

this evening, we tucked our three boys into bed:
softies, sippy cups, books
and freshly-shaken flashlights.
that's right: Battery-Free.

Five-Year-Old, all set for sleep, grinned a whisper:
"i could use a cuddle."

and, do you know what else?

yesterday, i sat at the table with my three boys:
they wanted to see pictures
of the aftermath in Haiti.
that's right: They Remembered.

Five-Year-Old, mind made up, informed me:
"you know that ten dollars i have in my jar? i want to send it to those people."

so, we'll make that happen,
and it will cause ten dollars' worth of change in this world,
and no one in Haiti will know who sent it.
but now you do.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

living our part

my toddler is in time-out
for smacking a boy on the head.
the boy adds "bbrr" power to a truck
while big sister hides behind the comfy chair
where mommy nurses baby.
another baby naps.
it's Church in a nursery.

my voice is starting to crack
for singing to the hard-of-hearing.
my husband hands a song book
to an old friend who enters the room
where another old friend is rising to speak.
one gentleman naps.
it's Church in a nursing home.

my bottom is hurting
for sitting on a jagged walnut hull.
by brother-in-law plays the guitar he built
so we can sing a few choruses
and then have prayer time.
do ants even nap?
it's Church in the back yard.

my vision is blurry
for squinting at the contact lens in my palm.
dan talks around his toothbrush
of conversations with friends
and our prayers and God's answers.
our three boys nap.
it's Church in the bathroom.

everywhere, in every way, those who claim the Name
are the Church.

because we're not Home yet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

family in a farmhouse

family in a farmhouse
watching soy grow,
listening to quietness
with auntie jo jo.

family in a farmhouse
watching boys grow,
drinking purple jungle juice
and slurping green jello.

family in a farmhouse
watching shadows grow,
laughing at each other -- oops --
i meant "with", you know.

holding onto memories,
letting mercy flow:
family in a farmhouse
watching love grow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

loving my neighbour

i don't walk past boxes --
recycled homes

i don't keep my gaze up --
poverty staring

i don't step around feet --
wandering hopelessness

i live in a small town --
neat, quiet, tree-lined --
the prettiest in Canada!

but i cannot escape the reality
of men, de-humanized.
of women, brutalized.
of children, raped.
of people, chained.

they live in pretty towns, too.

their stories can barely be told.
their past cannot be erased.
their bodies can hardly be salvaged.

but their pain can be shared.
their burden, eased.
their voices, heard.

and this is what we're called to:

"Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them... But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:31,35

for real? "give to everyone who begs from you"? no provisos, no qualifiers, no loopholes?

Heaven help us.

we're not Home yet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


air laughing,
table laden,
floor scurrying with children --
our children!
children who've sung
and given
and prayed
and listened
as we told the stories...

stories of Truth.

of the void
and of darkness,
of water
and of Light.

of fathers who walked hard
and of sons laid to rest,
of daughters who clave hard
and of mothers who laughed.

of water and of wine,
of fish and of bread.
of tables and of crumbs,
of grapes and of vines.

of temples and of whips.
of crowds and of stones.
of friends and of kisses.
of hills and of crosses.

torn veil!

people who died
for what they had seen,

stories of Truth.

we fill our bellies,
we pass the time.
we scoop up our children,
we drive them home.

how we long for Home.

we're not Home yet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



the string that tugs at my brow.
knots a lump inside my throat.
draws my back to ache.

it's not stress; it's


the string that is wrapped tightly around my heart.
pulls every thought self-ward.
clenches fists against service.

hardens my husband's questions into blows.
sharpens my children's curiosity into intrusion.
speeds up the clock,
lengthens my to-do list,
shortens my attention span.

enthrones Me, crowns Me with tears.

i close the dishwasher.
lie down on the kitchen floor. it is cool.
my boys have laid out their best blankets. they are soft.
my fingers brush past dust and crumbs, which twinkle away
as a little voice calls,

"mom? hi."
"forgive me."

we smile, hug.
the string unravels.

i'm not Home yet.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


i wake late.

dreams finished, linens twisted, sunshine calling.
breathe, roll, blink, stand.
eyes crusty, throat parched, back stiff.

it's a sad kind of magic, this sleep-in.

out my window, a stooped old woman in pressed slacks prunes shrubs.
down the highway, transports roar by, shake the foundation of this old house.
somewhere, my boys tumble into another adventure together, older.

paintings unpainted, groceries unpurchased, table unwiped.
but i have tasted needful rest, and i feel it:

i'm not Home yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

learning to walk

i just found out that a believer-artist-friend and her family are moving away. we bumped into her husband on our way to her pottery booth on the square. and he announced the news. the second time this year i've heard such news.

i walked away and sobbed under a tree. the sausage man brought me a milk crate to sit on.

i cried for my sons, my husband, myself. we are all saying good-bye to loved friends.

it's baffling. i just don't know God. i know Him, but i don't Really Know Him. His will is clear, but so cryptic and strange. the trail of our wanderings looks so random sometimes. why did God bring me such wonderful friends, so close, so recently? and why are they so far away now? i have no complaints. but sometimes i have tears.

from what i can see, i'm coming up to one of those times when God removes His hand. it was there, and i was grasping it, and it was pulling me gently along, and now it's moving ahead. not far, not harsh, but not here. and if i'm to follow it, if i'm to catch hold of it again, i'm going to have to take a step on my own.

i'm not Home yet.