Sunday, February 28, 2010
I keep happening upon various windowsills, bookshelves, and dining chairs to discover plastic people or Fisher Price farm animals arranged in long, snaky lines. The smaller and more intricate the items the better. When she caught me eying her in the midst of one such design Audrey declared, "I have to do my work!"
Was she begrudging my interruption? Or does she feel an innate desire to justify her actions and be understood? I wonder.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I found this old title at a used bookstore in Ashbury Heights... Wonderful story; gorgeous cover. They just don't make them like they used to! I have it laying on my desk as it reminds me there are places still wrapped up in winter. I sigh a little, pining for snow.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I found this perfectly formed tuft of moss poking up out of a snow patch near Bass Lake. I was struck first by its color - an almost iridescent shade of green - and then by its form and texture - like soft coral escaped from the sea. The stone I found nestling in the sand on the shore of the lake. I love holding it in my hand because it is soft - so soft! - and smooth. Almost egg-shaped; almost perfect.
With these treasures hidden in my pockets I jogged up and down the windy, wintry beach, indifferent to the cold water soaking my legs and the small stones working their way into my shoes... In the space of twenty minutes my imagination had been set ablaze.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The highlight of our weekend was by far the unexpected privilege of hosting Uncle Everett for dinner... I dressed up some leftovers and we enjoyed one meal in three courses: a primi consisting of spaghetti alla carbonara followed by baked shrimp scampi, steak, and caesar salad. We told Audrey it was all our birthdays and had cake with candles just for the joy of it.
Friday, February 19, 2010
We were getting packed into the car, on our way to a nearby outdoor shopping center with lovely ambience – little squares of green grass where Evie can crawl and Aud and I can stretch out with a cinnamon roll and coffee – when I noticed a mourning dove swoop into our garage, a broken twig clasped in its beak.
“Audrey,” I said, “watch my finger. Do you see where it’s pointing? A mommy birdie is building her nest right up there in the corner below the rafter.”
Audrey craned her neck. The bird dove into the corner, fluttering and flapping, and disappeared. “Where?” she said, “I can’t see.”
“Follow my finger.” Still flapping and fluttering, the bird reappeared. “There it is!” I shouted.
Audrey was incredulous: “He’s makin’ a nest?! In - in – in – here?”
I clambered around to the driver’s door but when I turned to buckle my seatbelt Audrey’s mouth was open and her eyes were filled with a mischievous twinkle. “Mom!” she said, “Wanna have a picnic, Mom? In the garage? Wanna do it?”
My mouth went suddenly dry. I was all for picnics. But… well, with my Wordsworthian tree still in the forefront of my mind, these seemed… less than optimal conditions.
“We can have crackers and cheese,” Audrey went on (seriously), nodding her head in profusions of delight. “Wanna do it, Mom? Wanna do it right now?”
To my mind, a garage – even the word is ugly! - is naught but a necessary portal one must temporarily pass through in order to get in and out of one’s car. I risked a glance at the hung ladders and tools, the uneven shelves stuffed with dusty old boxes … and shuddered.
But looking back at Audrey’s irresistible expression of joy and wonder, I forced myself to let go of all my ideals. "Okay," I said. "Let's do it."
Once I had spread Dutch’s old blanket over the oil stains on the concrete floor and brought out a wood tray of cheese and crackers and old Valentine’s candy… it really wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was rather wonderful.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Yesterday I did not treat others as I should. Not as spiritual beings, but objects to meet my needs. Hating myself, I lamented that I had let go of His hand, that the opportunity to love was not only spoiled - it was gone forever.
I wanted to shrink into a hole and hide myself, like Eve, once she had realized she was naked.
Then I looked up and noticed the title of a book on my shelf which I've never read, and which I only purchased because of its compelling title: "Paid in Full." A shock of thrill went through me... and my self-condemning thoughts were scattered like a flock of birds.
You are right, Heather, I thought, You can never get the moment back. But let the realization that you are a sinner through and through enlarge your humility without eroding your confidence. Let it inspire you to hide yourself in Him rather than the corner closet! After all, it is His broken flesh and spilt blood that have bridged the gap between you and God! It is because of Him that you can lift your head and go on into irresistible future, leaving the past behind.
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." ~Jude 1.24-25
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
We spotted this tree south of San Fran...I thought it looked like the kind of tree Wordsworth would have mused under so naturally I had to introduce myself. Sadly its mood was rather taciturn. ...Had I remembered to pack my red and white checked tablecloth we at least could've picnicked... as it was, I thought I'd prove you're never too old for climbing.
**Photos courtesy of MommaLove**
Sunday, February 14, 2010
A Valentine's Day filled with delight... started out with browsing for half-price books at the library sale. Hooray! And went on (extravagently) to include tickets to Mary Poppins. I suppose - compliment of compliments - I must bear a slight resemblance to Ms. Poppins because every time she went offstage Audrey put her lips to my ear and whispered hoarsely, "Oh! Where'd you go, Mom? Where'd you go?"
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Another belated birthday gift arrived today by post: a set of matching mother-daughter aprons from my mother's friend who has not a clue about all these happenings. I fabricate nothing, but stand in awe of it all.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Something extraordinary happened to me in the days surrounding my birthday... so extraordinary that I must put it to pen and "peter" (computer in Aud-speak).
The month of January had Dutch working day and night, with hardly a moment's rest. Fourteen uninterrupted days of morning, afternoon and bedtime routines left me deflated. I felt a bit like a hamster on a wheel, running my legs off with no hint of a change in scenery.
Four days before my birthday, I was dragging my body around, simply waiting for naptime to arrive. But when it did, and I had the opportunity to sit down and write, I was too tired... So instead I read a few pages out of Kenneth Grahame's charming book, "The Wind in the Willows." Inspired, I went back to my writing - a children's story about a mother bunny and her daughter - but once again my lids began to droop.
This time I tried to lie down but I couldn't sleep so instead I went to the Lord and simply poured my heart out to Him, asking why He gave me such a longing to write when I can spend so little time, practically, doing it.
And do you know what He did? He is so good. He showed me something from the story of Abraham that I had never seen before. Bear with me as I attempt to relay it:
Soon after Abraham receives the call to leave family and country and enter the land of Canaan, the Lord speaks to him.
God tells Abraham, who possesses no land of his own, to look north and south, east and west, for "All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever." Not only so, God promises Abraham, who at this late time in his life is still childless, that his offspring will be as numerous as the dust of the earth.
"Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land," the Lord says, "for I am giving it to you." Immediately I thought of Dutch, how he loves to walk the length of our land, envisioning the house he will build and the views he will be able to take in from every nook and corner. I imagined that Abraham, too, must have harbored a deep longing to take possession of the land; that he may have looked out upon it and imagined watching his children run and shriek with laughter as they played along the dusty, desert hills.
But Abraham did not take possession of the land immediately. Instead, much time and difficulty was to spring up between God's promise and its fulfillment.
A war developed between the kings of the land - four kings and their armies went to battle against five. In this great upheaval Abram's nephew Lot was seized; and Abraham went, with 318 of his men, to rescue Lot, along with his household and possessions.
Soon after this time of instability the word of the Lord comes to Abraham in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram," the Lord says, "I am your shield, your very great Reward."
As I read through this passage I sensed the whispering voice of the Spirit saying, "Heather, you long to 'take possession of the land' - to write and express yourself - but I want you to understand that I am your reward. I am your treasure. I have given you the desire to write - but that is not where your hope is to be: Your hope and satisfaction are to be in ME."
As I began to meditate on this truth I found my mind wandering back to my little story about the mother bunny and her daughter. In my mind's eye I began to see the mother bunny working busily in her kitchen. Yes, I decided, she loves to cook and bake and she is compiling all her recipes to put into a book but she never has time to finish the book because she is always interrupted by someone - child, neighbor, or friend - who is hungry.
I suddenly realized how the story should end; and the thought occurred to me that the ending might also be God's message to me for this phase of my life. "Now is not the time to 'finish compiling your recipes,'" I sensed Him saying, "It is not the time to type them up perfectly, package them up and ship them off. Now is the time to test them. And - listen closely, now - the process of testing the recipes is more important than the actual book. What is more, the people who get to enjoy the meals, and you who have the opportunity to be trained by them, are infinitely more important than anything you might have to say about them afterward."
All the next day - through dishes and diapers, frenzied errands and combing out tangles - I kept reminding myself, whenever a hint of discouragement crept into my brain: "Heather, now is the time to test your recipes, and to find your satisfaction in Christ. He is your treasure, your very great Reward."
When I arrived home I found a package on my doorstep - a birthday box from my dear sister, come a few days early.
I brought it inside and put it on the table, thinking I would save it for my birthday. But each time I walked by, something kept whispering to me, "Wait until naptime and then open it. Open it. Open it!"
The moment the girls' heads were on their pillows I sat down with a cup of coffee and a day-old croissant... And after I had lifted the tissue paper and unfolded the wrapping...what did I find? A gorgeous toile apron with a beautiful robin's egg blue velvet ribbon cut across the waist...but what is more I found a tangible confirmation of the message God had given me - to embrace that fact that this time in my life is to be spent primarily serving others, "testing recipes," so to speak, that is, living out the lessons He is teaching me in order to prepare me to better write about them.
I almost couldn't believe it, almost wouldn't believe it - until, over the proceeding seven days, I received two more packages - each from a dear friend who said, "I found this before Christmas and instantly thought of you."
Each package contained yet another... gorgeous... apron.
Coincidence? Some might say. But I don't think so.
And as Dutch reminded me, with tears in his eyes, as I held up my third apron with a look of absolute and total incredulity, "Whenever God wants to emphasize something he says it three times: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty."
I most humbly agreed.
I once dreamed of spending my 30th birthday repining on a hillside in the south of France. Instead, I got to spend it with you and Daddy in the hills outside of Yosemite: a reality so much more beautiful than my dream.
You were such an angel and spent most of those three days tucked into your Daddy's jacket, your large brown eyes scrolling up and down at the beautiful green grass, the tall trees, the deer darting in and out of the forest.
I especially loved taking you to the Palace of Fine Arts and sitting you on the sprawling root bed of that great oak tree. I'm sorry that you toppled over, though, and I hope that the memory will be wiped away by all the kisses we gave you afterward.
I am so grateful for you, Evie. You are truly one of the two best things I have to show for my thirty years on this earth. Not that I can take one bit of credit.
With Love Forever,
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
We were driving around town, looking for ways to stave off boredom and avoid a suspected meltdown when Nanny, who was in for a visit, began coaxing Audrey in teasing tones about who we would invite to my birthday party.
"Shall we invite Daddy-kins?" she asked.
"Yes, yes, Daddykins can come."
"What about Mommykins?"
"Of course, Mommykins."
"And Audreykins?" The laundry list continued..
When we got to baby sister, Audrey interjected, "How 'bout E-banjo-lin-kins?" She sounded the word out slowly and with precision.
"Wow," I piped in, "that is a mouthful."
"Yes," said Audrey, with a heaving sigh, "E-banjo-lin-kins. It's too much! I can't do it!"
I couldn't either.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Dutch outdid himself by whisking me away for a few days to San Francisco and surrounds. An alphabet list of highlights included the Palace of Fine Arts, being named "Dutch-ess," collecting moss, glorious moss (!), and following a deer path through the forest surrounding Bass Lake.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Dear Seeing the Everyday,
How shall I say it? I kind of... love you.
But not only because you have graciously seen fit to publish something I’ve written (though that is enough reason all its own). I love you for what you do, who you are.
In the foreword to Maud Hard Lovelace’s timeless children’s classic, Betsy-Tacy, and Tib, which chronicles the ‘everday’ goings-on of three friends, Ann M. Martin says, "These were small stories, things that could happen to anyone, but when Maud Hart Lovelace told small stories she made them seem big.”
This, in effect, is what you do for your readers; this is what you do for me.
Rather than making an endless stream of direct attacks on the things in our culture that are flimsy and degrading, things which assault and drag down the soul, you focus your narrative lens on the “poetry in the prosaic” – the small, ordinary moments between a parent and child that seem forgettable, and which often are forgettable, but which emblazon a life lesson onto the heart of a child.
You do just what you say: you help me ‘see’ how much the small, everday moments are the big moments.
Thank you, thank you. A million times.