Love Story

Family Breakfast

We’re living a love story. Me and my family. And I’m not just talking about Luke and Ali, although there’s no doubt about the boy’s smitten. Yesterday he’s on his way home from Colorado, seven buddies in one car and I didn’t even ask the question about how many seatbelts for all that driving. I called him in route to ask about plans and an ETA. He talks about friends and fun and coming back home, and then he says it. It was such a sad morning. I know what he means. I hate good-byes, too. And it’s not just Ali, but a whole season of summers out at Eagle Lake, and things are changing. Always changing, in this story of love.

Yesterday it was just Nils and me at church together, lunch at a drive-through, and a stop at the lake. He’s in between trips with laundry to finish and a nap to take, but we’ve got an hour to waste, and we sit side-by-side, feet in the water, toes in the weeds. He tells about his mission trip and I know because I’ve been there, this look in his eyes. It’s something special. His big brother, Grant, the first time he went, fell in love with Jesus. A few trips later he’d fall, too, for a girl, who is now his wife. And I think for Nils it’s more former than latter. But I know this, too. Love for Jesus and His people is pretty connected.

This morning, early, there were nine on our deck for breakfast together. ALL FIVE OF MY BOYS. In one place at one time. It lasted an hour. One hour between Luke pulling in from Luke & Maisya whole night of driving, an hour of sleep. Nils fresh from the shower, an hour to spare before middle school camp as the worship leader. Grant and Kiana and our sweet little Maisy, eyes open wide to meet one more uncle before heading south to her Iowa home. Tomorrow it’s Felipe taking flight, further south by 3000 miles. So we circle and pray, giving thanks for our family, blessing each one in their coming and going.

All of this love, but it’s not the whole story. No. The story is bigger, and it’s one I’ve been learning since the start of this summer. Truth-be-told I would never have learned it if not for the HARD in this boy mom love. Last night standing there at the kitchen counter, harsh words flying. Too much yelling, not enough listening, one kid stuck in his fight or flight. And I start to say it, but no one hears me, the flesh is offended, but the Spirit is love.

Because this is what I’m learning this summer. Love is impossible, except when it’s not. How can I tell this, still honoring my family? None of us perfect. Each with our struggles. I talked to my boy with our feet in the lake. How our strengths and our weaknesses are often connected. And how do we know what’s sin and what’s not? It’s the work of the Spirit. When it’s Him and not me, His fruit and not mine, I’m becoming His love.

Every day I put this to practice. There’s plenty of spicy to fill up this house, plenty of reason I might be offended. Just a minute ago, I’m sitting outside in my secret office, found out by a boy who’s angry with me. His stuff left out and I tucked it away, and whose fault is it? Put to the test, and I’m seeing a difference. Whose fault doesn’t matter. What matters is love.

Years ago I started to pray it, not sure at the time what it even meant. Increase my love. Increase it. In me. Because I knew even then, there was a bigger story. More than mission trip love, when all of life is its own kind of mission, and I know my limits. More flesh than Spirit. I want my own way, my normal default. When words are flying and tempers are raging my M.O. tends toward FLIGHT – and avoiding the fight. It’s a family trait, I said as much to my brother last week. But this summer, something’s changing. I look in the eye of my would-be offender, surprised to discover. I’m not so offended. Which is not even ME. It’s the life of the Spirit. A miracle, really, this real life story of becoming His Love.

A Post About Nothing

Kyle's Shed

(Since this is a post about little of nothing I thought I would include this photo of the sweet shed Kyle built this summer up at the lake!)

It’s been over a week since the writer’s conference, close to three since I wrote my last post. Which is so ironic. The last post being the one about GOAT, and so far it looks like there won’t be any, at least not this summer. Or maybe not until we’ve tried every other DIY solution and decided we’re desperate. Again. Too expensive. For the moment we’re fine. We’re fine, and my husband thanks you for your concern and advice, and who knew going public with poison ivy could cause such a hubbub? (Quick aside. Just a moment ago I ran inside to grab a flannel, since it’s chilly this morning out on my porch. And there’s this pretty little song coming from my husband’s office, so I paused for a peek to see what he’s doing. He’s watching an ad about wildflowers, his next landscape solution, and I’ll admit they are quite lovely compared to the goats.)

Moving on. I have been writing. Every other day at least, I’ve written something, but never finished. Posts about the lake, and posts about love, one about neighbors and the USA Cup. And this really great opening sequence about waking up early and hearing from God in the words of Bob Goff. Here, let me show you.

Sometimes God’s voice sounds like Bob Goff. At least, this morning it did. He woke me a half hour earlier than usual, and I knew it was Him. God, not Bob. Bob came later. First it was God and me and the birds, and my secret place on the porch, which really isn’t very secret at all… 

Isn’t that nice?!

A week ago last weekend at the writer’s conference I had so much clarity. I’m sure I did. God blessing my efforts – well done, good and faithful – releasing and inspiring a new season of writing. The last breakout session about beautiful prose, and I’m all kinds of eloquent telling my friend, Heather, about this soul-deep love for lovely words. And every since then. I’ve been stuck.

Stuck. I’ll blame my family. This wonderful family, the loves of my life, but good grief almighty, all their coming and going, it keeps my head spinning. I’ll give you taste, and you’ll see what I mean…

Last week, Friday. Grant and Kiana arrived with Maisy. Nils headed out for a mission trip. This week, Thursday, Kyle’s golf trip. Nils home on Saturday. Kyle returns Sunday. Monday – Maisy leaves, Luke comes home, and Nils takes off for camp. Tuesday – The day of the party for my dad’s 75th birthday, Felipe takes flight for Colombia. Again. (Yes, there’s a girl in the picture. Another story for another time.) Thursday, Nils back home. Luke’s birthday on Saturday, he’ll leave on Sunday, when he’ll head to Iowa to find an apartment… Are you getting the picture?

Spinning, I tell you, and it’s really no wonder.

I may as well take a moment for a couple more updates, since there’s really no way to land this plane. Several have asked about a wedding date. I’m asking, too, and the best I can tell you is it’s most likely happening the week after Christmas in Colorado. A smallish wedding, and yes, we’re thinking a late winter reception here in Minnesota, and all I can say is I’ll keep you posted.

And. MAISY. Maisy is great. Still amazing. She’s HERE. Did I tell you? Okay, not right here. She’s staying with her other grandma. I’m learning to SHARE her, and believe me, there’s a whole post in the making about the things I’m discovering when it comes to THAT.

The thing is, it’s been an amazing summer. God has been leading. Really leading, and I’m hearing His voice. And hopefully one day I can tell you those stories.

But for today, that is all.




It was the name of the new playlist Nils created and shared with our family, and it was me who asked it. Why GOAT? I have a history with this particular animal, and I wondered what it could possibly have to do with the worship songs I was enjoying. He explained in a text-message, eye-roll emoji. AH, I see… 

Greatest Of All Time. (Explanation given for any others not cool enough to understand, which most likely includes the first-time Great-Grandmas who are reading this blog.)

It was just a week or two later when it came up again, this time in a conversation at Caribou with Angie. Someday in the not-too-distant future Angie and I are hoping to be neighbors of sorts, living on either side of the same smallish town. The Campbell family moved “up north” a while back, and they’re ahead of the game in taming their own acreage of wild. We have Poison Ivy. I explained to my friend about how our new parcel of paradise has this wee touch of the curse. “You need goats.” She said it without batting an eye. I half-laughed. Not sure if I’d heard her right.

Angie went on to tell me she’d first learned of this solution from Curious George. As in, the monkey. (I realize now as I’m writing this, I may have forgotten to mention this particular detail when sharing the advice with Kyle. Probably good.) I sat there drinking my latte and listening with skepticism as Angie went on to explain about goats being the best solution for invasive plantlife, and maybe you could rent a herd.

For sure.

Like I said, I have a history with goats, going all the way back to junior high, and it isn’t pretty. I told most of the story in a former post, but what I maybe didn’t mention is that we actually raised our own small herd down there in southern Minnesota on our family farm. Gert and Blackie, and a half-dozen or so others, including my own little nanny which I showed in 4H. (Fun fact for the day.)

Unfortunately my memories of these frisky little pets are clouded by a cruel nickname I received in the seventh grade, which followed me right up to graduation. I can still feel the sense of dread in the pit of my stomach when I think about being the only girl eating alfalfa sprout sandwiches at the lunch table, and – You drink what kind of milk?! Well, yes. My mom was something of a health-food nut, which is in vogue now, but not so much in the early 80’s.

Despite these scars, the benefits of drinking goat’s milk were not entirely lost on me. I admitted this to Kiana last week, watching the new mama suckle her tiny girl-baby, my granddaughter, and she’s a good little eater. A miracle to be sure, and I remember again how the newborn’s daddy was NOT. Never quite sure if it was him or me who struggled most to figure it out, but we never got it. Two months of trying every imaginable solution, more conniving than thriving, finally admitting it was time to throw in the towel. My daughter-in-law has heard the story before. So you fed him goat’s milk? That’s right. A year or so of driving weekly from our little Cape Cod in northern Illinois to that big old farmhouse in southern Wisconsin, bringing home milk for the baby. I shake my head now at the memory.

And now. It comes back again, full circle. You need goats. You don’t say.

My husband, as I write this, is at Urgent Care, covered in rashes. Poison Ivy boils oozing up and down his legs. Hives, most likely his body’s response to the prescribed solution, covering most of the rest of him. He is, shall we say, a miserable sight, and desperate. And so, just before leaving, he hands me this scrap of paper, my own handwritten notes. Goat Mitigation. There’s this guy who lives halfway between here and Green Lake, and he says he can help us. I laugh again to myself. You’ve got to be kidding. But what choice do we have? I may as well admit it. The GOAT. Just might be. Greatest Of All Time.