Five Minute Friday: Summer won't sit still

Summer won't sit still. She's wild and beautiful and worse than a springer spaniel chasing a tennis ball into the surf. Her tail couldn't stop wagging if she tried. She bounds from one morning to another, and even her evenings pile high with heat and fireflies and promises. (And she isn't exactly the sort who's content to curl up next to my feet while I stretch tired across a patio chair.)

And I want to believe she'll last forever. I want to believe we have all the time in the world for all the world to be ours. Summer, please tell me we do. Please! Come back here and tell me!
Lie if you must.


Linked up with The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.


How to make the most of summer in 12 easy steps

First, take off your shoes. Sink your feet into summer.

Don't be afraid to get wet.

Stoop low if you must, to really see.
Squint into the setting sun.
Eat more blueberries than you put in the pail.
Ask your Dad to play just one more game of Uno. The worst he can say is no.
Search the sky for amazement. Find it.
Tell your mom you'll fly upside down someday, that it's not a bit scary, then look for her arms when you wake to thunder.
Cheer when barriers break. Cover your ears and smile and wonder how.

Swing at everything.
Then run. Run like autumn's right behind you.
Stay on pace with summer.
Touch every base until you reach home.


In which we are easily entertained


Will you remember?

Sometimes I wonder, will this make the list? Will you remember in 20 years? Will you be driving a country road, turn to your wife and say, "This reminds me of once, when I was six. My parents took me to the Amish country. I rode a ferris wheel all by myself, waved to my Dad and pretended I was flying."?

Will you tell her also about the way you cried when it was time to go, your heart so set on staying with Sami to catch lightning bugs? Will you think of that full moon, still yellow from having sun in its eyes, how you and your sister were sure it was chasing you, how you giggled at the thought of the moon playing peekaboo?

Will you laugh at the way you assumed every buggy must be Abe's? Will you smile at the thought of the baby goat that kept jumping the fence, remembering how your little sister yelled "He's a jumper! We've got a jumper!"?

Will you remember that sticky first taste of cotton candy, the way we teased about offering it only every six years, how you did the math and decided you couldn't wait until 12, how you made the case for 8?

And even if none of this makes the list, even if it all fades by the age of 8 such that you even forget to take up the case for your biannual allowance of cotton candy, I hope you'll carry this general feeling with you forever--the unshakable feeling that when you were young, you were so very happy about so very many things, that life was so very simple, so very good, that you were so very loved.


Can we stop pretending?

We walked the whole length of Westminster Bridge just to see the sun set behind the Abbey, to catch Big Ben wearing pink. I want to say it was worth the walk, but I remember so little about that sunset.

What I remember is the darkness. How quickly the sun disappeared and January blew across the Thames in cruel bursts. We had argued earlier, not disagreeing so much as missing each other entirely. Five inches and a world apart, we stared across the river like this foreign city's silhouette might break the icy spell if only she'd look our way.

But we never caught her eye.

Those tears, the ones I stifled with squints and swallows, they made it only as far as my right sleeve.
I wonder whether it is worse to have warning--to see the condition of the thread by which you hang, to anticipate the free fall. I don't honestly know. But I saw the thread that night on a London bridge, and the fear, it looped itself like myelin sheath round every nerve, such that even years after the tears dried, I could still feel the fear in my fingertips.


Those of us who have trusted the story of the empty tomb since the age of six, the ones with dog-eared pages in our margin-scribbled bibles, our marriages aren't supposed to dangle halfway off the cliff. Our newborn babies aren't supposed to spend most of their waking hours in daycare, and our careers aren't supposed to hold the hours hostage with gray-vs-gray decisions, the only-in-it-for-the-paycheck barrel pressed hard against our temple.  We aren't supposed to fall apart from the inside out.

But we do, and to pretend otherwise is to look grace straight in the face and lie. And doesn't this constant cradling of image tire us out? Don't our arms grow heavy with the weight of holding it all together? So much of ourselves we exert just to hold up the mask so that even if we were brave enough, we'd probably be too spent to smile with our own lips or tremble with our own tears or look with our own faces.

It's been six years since I stood at the bank of the Thames and felt the edges of my perfectly scripted Christian life begin to crumble. It's easy to admit it now--to share how I used to struggle, to admit how precariously close I came several years ago to destroying my marriage, to confess a former habit of worrying more about how things appeared than about how they actually were.
But in the middle, when we need each other most, we tend to hide how bad it is. From others, from ourselves, even from our God, we hide. 

I desperately want to do away with the hiding. Can we stop pretending we're okay when we aren't? And while we're at it, let's lose the spiritual caveats we use to diminish how deeply we hurt. Let's find a way to be honest, to mean it when we say, "but for the grace of God, there go I..."

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Galations 6:1-3, The Message


No explanation needed

"Why is it," he began, "I mean, why when I'm near the ocean, does it feel like I'm more closer to heaven? And then when we're just at home or in the forest or something, the clouds and the sky feel like they are higher up than before?"

"You must have read that sign at the beach house, huh Bud? The one that said, heaven's a little closer in a house by the beach?" I asked, attributing the musings of my six year old to those painted words on wood.

"Well, I did read it, but that's not it. It just got me thinking. And I think heaven does feel closer, like if I just look up, I could almost see it. And like God is just, I don't know, like when I'm at the beach, I can feel Him more in my heart. And I was just wondering about it, like how do I even explain it?"

I don't know how to explain it either, little man. But I know what you mean. I know exactly what you mean.


I Don't Have to Dig Anymore

I don't have to dig anymore.

I started the digging here, the panning for gold, when my children were very small. Most days, more often than not, I felt as though I was slogging through sludge.

Through no-nap-nap-times, sludge.
Through mashed squash feedings, slog.
Through inexplicable tantrums (theirs, not mine), slog.
Through diaper changes, sludge (in a far too literal way).

Even trips to the beach or walks in the park felt like more effort than reward. I spent far more time packing to leave the house and de-sanding little bodies than building castles and splashing in waves.

But I knew the time was fleeting, precious. I knew mothers who would trade their right arm and all hope of hot coffee for a chance to be home more with their children. (And I was one of them.) I knew I couldn't waste this gift, that I had to see beyond the daily slogging through sludge.

So at the end of the day, at the end of the slogging, I would dig. I would write until I found a cherished moment, until I could cry or laugh, until I could feel something other than weary.

But in these past few weeks, be it at home or in Maine, during my two-week solo-parenting stint or my three-day family reunion, I haven't slogged, not a single step. Galloped, skipped, sprinted, danced, yes. But no slogging. And no sludge.

I don't have to dig anymore!

The treasure pools at the surface, and I'm up to my neck in it such that I don't even have to bend to pick it up. It spills everywhere, and it feels more natural to say thank you than to complain.

I didn't once have to lecture myself to "be in the moment" when we were in Maine. I just was. Even in the ridiculously long car ride, there were as many sweet moments (Caed reading The Boxcar Children to Dani) as there were awful ones (incessant fighting over the truth of Dani's most inane and irrelevant assertions). This is miraculous. Miraculous, I tell you!

Now, I know this "easy" stage won't last forever. I know hardship isn't forever banned from my life. But for now? I know beauty when I see it. I know blessing when I feel it. And I know treasure when I find it.

And these days, even without the aid of a shovel or a pen, I'm finding it everywhere. I don't have to dig anymore.


I met a sweet writer/momma friend for lunch this week, and as we talked about our reasons for writing, as I assured her that it does get easier, it dawned on me that I no longer rely on writing as a way to find and name the good in my life. Because it's suddenly right here, obvious, and I see it without straining.

What stage do you find yourself in? I want to encourage you, if you are in the slog and sludge stage, to keep hunting for reasons to say thanks, and to keep treasuring the moments you can. But I also want to tell you that it really does get easier, that there is treasure ahead, and to keep looking.


The Most Amazing Day I Ever Had Yet

Warning: This post may contain excessive levels of shameless bragging and unbridled parental pride. Potential side effects include nausea, excessive eye rolling, and a sudden urge to click away. Should you experience any of these symptoms, please consult your browser for less inflammatory content.  

How is it that winter plods at marathon pace and summer feels like an all-out sprint? I feel like I'm shoving a seven-course meal into my mouth in the same amount of time it takes to eat a PB&J. I'm so very full. All delicious things, and it's impossible to say no to another bite.

On Monday morning, we woke the kids up at 6:30 a.m. to head out for Caed's first race. That's right. We woke the kids up. Have we lost our minds? Quite possibly.

But our little guy really wanted to participate in a local fun run/ 1-miler, and had proved his determination in a "training run" with me on Friday. And, seeing as I planned to run alongside him as his designated "trainer",  I was admittedly just as excited as he was.  Maybe more so.

The last time Caed and I ran together, he kicked his legs against the stroller's foot rest and shoveled goldfish into his two-year old tummy for the entire three miles. And now would you look at him?

Four years of fitness makes quite a difference, eh? I don't know if this will be a landmark memory for him. But as his mother? This race was unforgettable. 

And did I mention he won 2nd place in his age group? And that he ran the mile in 9:05? And that I am so stinking proud of him I just might explode?
He ran his heart out, and took mine along with him.

But the day wasn't over. Not even close. (This post, however, might have to be, as the kids just woke up--not by my doing this time--and the day is about to get crazy again.)

Later that afternoon, when we met up with the cousins to watch a parade, Auntie 'Chelle bought everyone snow cones--a first for both my children. And within a few bites, Caed's second loose tooth came wiggling out.
On the way back from the parade, Caed reflected on the last several hours. "Second place in my first race, a snow cone, and a lost tooth! It's like the most amazing day I've ever had yet."

Yes, big guy, and the fireworks are still to come.


A Word From Mary Oliver's Dog

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life (Ten)

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

-Mary Oliver
From The Truro Bear and Other Adventures


What do you say when it's all just too much?

We've been home a few days now. I lost my blogging rhythm in Maine, lost my running rhythm during the schlep home, and lost my housekeeping rhythm somewhere in the piles of suitcase-crushed clothing that exploded in the moments following our arrival. Okay, okay. I never really had a "housekeeping rhythm", but it's true about the other two things. My mileage is way down, and my words are few.

Every time I sit down to write, I gaze for a few minutes at the photos I took in Maine. Which is a surefire path to verbal paralysis. You'd think that with a thousand pictures (yes. really. that many.) valued at a thousand words a piece, I'd have more than enough to share. But no. Instead I sigh laconically, smile, whisper only one word prayers: wow, thank-you, beautiful, wow.

And it doesn't help that I can barely find 15 minutes a day to write. And that it takes me at least that long to choose just a picture or two to post. I wish I could just jump back in, ya know?

So what to do? Oh, I know! How about I use the precious 15 minutes I found to write about why I can't seem to write anymore? I'm sure it will be just riveting for everyone involved!  Or not....

I don't know. Perhaps the only way back to words is to share a few thousand the old fashioned way.

When it's all just too much (and it is, oh, it is), I don't know what to say.
Except to whisper these one-word prayers.
Thank you.

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