“Sing my song, too,” he requests, scrunching his shoulders and grinning, tiny teeth shining white in the lamplight. “Sing it like Mumma does.”
I lean over his temporary bed — a toddler mattress centered awkwardly on the floor of my boys’ bedroom and piled high with mismatched pillows, borrowed stuffed animals, and a shirt that smells like her. Like home.
You are my sunshine, my little sunshine. . .
Peace sweeps over him like a linen blanket. He relaxes his shoulders and inserts thumb into smiling mouth.
I notice how easy it is now, four weeks in. The calming down. The tucking in. Familiar, sleepy routine of nighttime lullaby rounds.
The first week he was with us, he explained night after night that he was just going to wait up for her. Propped on his pudgy elbow, he’d fight drowsiness for thirty, forty, fifty minutes, head bobbing up and down, quiet snores betraying his ambition.
Beside him on the floor, I lingered, offering a comforting presence and praying the nurture in my heart would be enough to calm his restlessness and allow him to sleep in a room that must have seemed so far from home. A couple of those first nights, he sobbed and thrashed, refusing even to lie down until I lovingly bear-hugged him into submission, whispering through his wails, “I know you miss your mama. You have the best mama. You have the best mama.” Eventually, his resolve wore out and he melted into my chest, accepting a love that was second-best because it was the only love available in that moment.
Last Thursday, my great-grandma turned 96. Months before, we’d planned a birthday bash for her with her three children attending from three states, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Then the coronavirus crept into our region, creating a trickle of closures and cancellations. We altered our plans with the changing recommendations from the CDC.
Plan A: Hold the party in the dining room at her assisted living facility with all of us present.
Plan B: Pick up Nana and transport her to my parents’ house for the party.
Then we learned the entire assisted living facility would be locked down, with no visitors in and no residents out. Time to think creatively.
After a month of a nearly-empty egg basket, the fall moult is complete and the girls are laying again. That speckled egg is the first we’ve seen from our new Welsummer hens. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Keeping livestock adds rhythm to our days. The feeding and watering, the egg collection, the midday check to make sure everyone’s a-okay. Our lives take on the shape of seasonal activities, filling out during busy times like high summer or the season of Advent, and giving way to a bit more elbow room during the dark winter. But animal chores are steady, keeping time for us throughout the months, the years. Counting the chickens with my youngest son as they emerge from the coop each morning. Scratching kitty chins at lunch break. Dropping a fistful of hay in front of each rabbit at dusk. Continue reading →
A sweet friend took me out on the town last night. We dined at the only fancy-ish restaurant in our small city, swooning over Greek Bruschetta and perfectly roasted artichokes before scurrying to the theater to support friends in a local production of Rent.
Another friend met us at the show where our three mouths hung agape over the showcase of local talent. (“Wow, that girl can WAIL! Where do these people COME from? Do they LIVE here?”) After the performance, we chatted in the street beside my friend’s ginormous SUV, wishing there was somewhere we could grab coffee.
“There’s always McDonald’s,” someone offered timidly, more like a question than a suggestion. . .
We rolled into Mickey-D’s at 10:15, settling in between the giggling high school crowd in the back and the cat-vibes lady with the pink sequined scarf up front.
Four hours later, we were still in the booth. Our conversation had rambled through the territories of foster care, intercessory prayer, seasonal depression, religion-based shame, Kindergarten crushes, self-love, gluten farts, and the most absorbent mom-bladder pantyliner. Continue reading →
Yesterday, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and she asked me where I’ve been. I tried replying, but I’m not sure I even knew the answer.
If this post had a subtitle, maybe it would read “That Time I Tried Working Two Part-Time Jobs While Homeschooling My Children, Supporting My Husband Through a Career Change, Becoming Foster-to-Adopt Licensed, and Why Not Throw in a Trip to Disney World Followed Closely by Influenza, a Stomach Virus, and Two Minor Household Floods.” Continue reading →
We’ve heard from one woman who battled cancer and one who said a premature goodbye to her father. A young man whose life course changed within a second, and another who watched his child struggle for years. A mother whose child received a terrifying diagnosis, andanother who had to bury two of her precious babies.
Life unleashes some brutally painful attacks doesn’t it? Most of the time, we never see them coming. There’s no way to prepare. We are subject to our circumstances.
Sometimes, though, the attacks are sneakier. They come from within. The wars we wage are against our own selves. We’re on both sides of the battlefield — and only one side can be victorious.
For my friend Austin Lucas, the attack was a slow advancement –a letting down of his guard. A befriending of the enemy. Before he knew it, he found himself in a full-on raging battle.
It wasn’t until Austin surrendered that he regained his position of strength and fortitude — that he was able to strike back against the forces that had divided himself against himself.
Austin’s story is a compelling reminder that we never have to fight our battles on our own.
We’re never forsaken. We’re never alone. And we’re never too far gone.
As Father’s Day approaches, we’re reminded of all the things a dad should be…
The protector, the provider, the fixer, the giver-of-knowledge.
Lance Ellis willingly embraced all of these roles. He couldn’t wait to teach his kids, help them solve problems, and bring them along on adventures.
He had plans. Plans to be a teacher. Plans to marry his sweetheart, Jill Johnson — to make a home and have two children, maybe even a dog.
But life had different plans for Lance, and he wasn’t able to do those things exactly the way he wanted to. Only when he surrendered his own plans — when he became willing to be shaped by his circumstances, did he arrive at the realization that plans and efforts are not guarantees, and the only thing a father can really provide for his children is unconditional love.
When Jaclynn Kreider was a young girl, her father, Jack Kriegl, was her hero. They enjoyed many of the same things – playing sports, Green Bay Packers football, skiing, hunting, trapping, and spending time outdoors.