Apr. 28

One last smooch on a chubby little neck. One last wave of dimpled little hand. Four days Pops and Nana were stand-in parents while the real ones photographed a wedding in Cancun. “She’s the happiest baby in the whole wide world. But even so, I don’t know how you do it.” They returned late last night, just in time for Kiana’s birthday. And their little girl is all smiles this morning, her Mama and Dada are back. Both parents rise early, sun-kissed and sleepy, and I say it again, “I don’t know how you accomplish so much.”

Like blogging. Kiana blogs weddings, and I blog Boy Mom, and let’s just say, I tried to do it. Every day. A few sentences written during nap time. After cleaning the kitchen, and making the bed. Showering, maybe. A quick load of laundry. Computer open. Brain muddled. Add bananas to the shopping list. Type a few scattered thoughts, hit save for later. And it’s time to prep the next bottle for lunch…

She wakes every morning at a quarter-past six, my auto setting for phone alarm and perfect timing. I heat up a bottle while brewing the coffee, Maisy wondering what’s taking so long. She looks at me worried, and I know what she’s thinking. You’re not my mama – like a line from a favorite picture book. “Your mommy says you usually snooze for another hour,” I tell her quiet, bottle empty, nookie and blankies back into crib. But this is not normal, and Maisy knows it. She howls and I think, “What can it hurt?” So Nana and baby hammock-snuggle those few extra minutes, my hand on her chest, her chubby fingers wrapped around mine. Wispy blond hair, tall and tickling my neck. We rock while she dozes, me praying and savoring priceless devotion. I think of Kiana, and other young mamas, and how this might be the extent of those Daily Devotions. A quick Word, maybe, while cuddling baby. The women will be saved through childbearing… it makes perfect sense, somehow, just now.

So much joy and so much life. Every day our little girl greets us, sunshine smile sporting new bottom teeth. She’s crawling now, a world to explore. Busy like her Dad is Pops’ prediction. We once dubbed Grant our Energizer Bunny, a name likely suited for our daughter-in-law, too. A quick text message sent to Grammy Ruf, all us Grands agreeing, it’s a good thing God gives babes to the young parents.

Maisy’s all smiles as she watches for doggy, scooches close to grab a tail, Maple responding with a lick on the cheek. Neither quite knows what to do with the other, curious and cautious. But later at highchair their friendship is sealed, sticky hand meeting eager tongue. Kyle takes the leash and I’ve got the stroller for our afternoon outing, a walk to the park. There at the playground two little girls spot baby and puppy, seeking approval from their own mom and dad. “What a sweet little addition,” polite young parents comment without asking. We’re Grandma and Grandpa. I’m quick to set that record straight.

Evening comes and we’ve got two more hours until final bottle and time for sleeping. We pull out toys on the living room rug, read two more stories. Cat the Cat (this book is lame) – and Pout-Pout Fish (Oh, this one’s clever.) Maisy practices her crawling, climbing on and off Nana’s lap. We tickle-tickle, and whisper secrets, baby chuckles, the bestest ever.

Tired of playtime, we curl up with Pops on the comfy sofa. Turn on TV, scroll through Netflix, land on recordings of Planet Earth. Scrunched in close, baby between us, enthralled by the miracle of all this life. Wow, God. I say it in my head, over and over. Mouth hanging open, and how in the world did You think of all that?

All that, and this baby. And now it’s over. Now three with Maple, heading back up north to Minnesota. I keep thinking she’s with us. I say it to Kyle. I can sense her breathing. Hear her making that sound with her cute little tongue. Even at the restaurant where we meet up with the Great-Grands for a bit of lunch. I feel like she’s here.  

Back home now. A text from Kiana, looking for keys and the baby wipes. I unpack bags, check on Jimmy, in bed with a fever. Kyle’s at the computer, trying to stay caught up during his busiest season. A call from our realtor, wondering if we’d like to show our house next week?! Prom this weekend, then graduation, and life keeps moving. But I’ll try to remember. Remember to savor. Those sweetest-kind-of-busy days with our precious baby Maisy.

Crazy Hope

Crazy Hope

Anika and her friend, Kirsten, puff-painted the t-shirt for me. CRAZY HOPE. It was crazy night at AWANA and I was the teacher. Agents of Hope. Bookend messages, the first time I taught last fall, I shared my story, and it was Hope then, too. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). One of my favorites, quoted both nights.

It’s April now, just two more Tuesdays and AWANA will be over, taking a break for summer vacation. Here in Minnesota, you’ll know I say this tongue-in-cheek. School being online today, with blizzard conditions. Two years in a row approaching my husband’s tax-day birthday, the landscape white.

WEATHER, it would seem, is a new hot topic. Right up there with bearing arms and Armageddon for stirring lively conversation. Just this week I’ve heard it said, and more than once, how we are doomed. And I remember a comment from Andy Stanley, right around the time of our last election. He was talking to the grown-ups, sternly chiding, “Knock it off. You’re scaring the children.”

So it’s the children I’m teaching this week at AWANA and I’m telling them what I’d like to say to their grown-ups, too – how this story of DOOM is not our story. Because ours is a story of CRAZY HOPE! I review the timeline. A perfect garden. A cycle of sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection. (Easter happened.) Heaven someday. “But kids, don’t miss this! Between sins forgiven and Heaven someday there’s a whole big life you get to live!” I say it over and over, how Jesus came to change their story, and theirs is a story of crazy hope.

All week long it’s this HOPE repeated. MOMs at church watching a video, Christine Caine, Greek-Australian and full of passion. Our LIGHT is meant to dispel the darkness. “And I’m still old-school enough to believe Jesus is REALLY the Hope of the world!”

We are agents of hope. I say this to kids who might just believe it. There’s a whole world desperate for this Good News message. Jesus changed my story, and He can change yours, too. “You are Love. You are Joy. You are full of courage. Because following Jesus means He’s living IN YOU.” I tell these kids how life can be crazy – but the CRAZY in us trumps any other. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord!”

From Prophets, to Gospels, to Revelation. Our sermons at church are repeating this message. It’s not a secret code to unravel, but a HOPE to be lived! To God be the Glory, this Story is His.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: 

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

 THESE are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:6-10


Pepsi Box

I’ve been CLEANING. Not so much spring cleaning, as season-of-life-cleaning. This move thing is getting real, twenty-three years of accumulation, and I’ve never been accused of being a hoarder, but still. The weird thing is how much I enjoy it. Reminiscing and purging somehow add up to real satisfaction for this mom turning nana.

A couple of weeks back it was the school stuff in the kitchen cabinet. Lately where Jimmy’s been tucking his half-used notebooks, and I’ve had a stash of assorted artwork from Legacy classes. A watercolor spider and a chameleon, too – not signed by the artists, but if I remember correctly, Jimmy painted one and Felipe the other, their first year here in Minnesota. Childlike projects, and as I look back at scrapbook photos, it’s true they were hardly more than kids. The days are long, but the years are short – is what we say to moms of toddlers, and I’d guess it’s true for teenagers, too. Long days of endless winters, short years to becoming young men.

There were crayons in that cabinet, marked with G’s – in my handwriting at young Grant’s request. He liked his Crayolas tidy and sharp, didn’t want them mixing and breaking in the mess of his brothers’. All these years later I’m sorting through them, keeping the best ones, imagining a future farmhouse table, side-by-side coloring with little-girl Maisy. This G was your dad’s. Sharpie markers and colored pencils thinned out and organized into an antique Pepsi-Cola box, longtime fixture of our kitchen classroom, now just enough supplies for future grand-artists.

Books of origami, all Luke’s – the preferred craft of an intellect. And Nils’ assortment of pencil sketches in various notebooks, his best work stored away in binders and boxes in the storage room downstairs. The cabinets easy compared to that project looming later this weekend.

Saturday last it was the kitchen table. Dented deep from years of homework, Luke’s name stamped into yellowed wood. Dark brown ring from a Sterno can fire, close-call memory from Christmas past. Kyle and I carried the old treasure curbside with its three surviving chairs, and a homemade bench, prone to tipping. FREE, and by noon the whole thing loaded into a pickup by a mom and daughter, shouting their thanks.

Sons and wives, I give you fair warning. Between trips to Goodwill and curbside freebies, I’ll probably fill up a few special boxes to deliver to you. Some old school papers and a bit of memorabilia, too precious for my dumpster, but permission granted if it ends up in yours. Just NOT the scrapbooks. Those you keep. Even if your wife is a professional, and Creative Memories are no longer cool, and I am willing to admit, they are not. But those scrapbooks are love gifts and someday your kiddos will absolutely devour adorable pictures of little-boy daddy in his cowboy hat.

I read someplace recently, about Millennials, and how, as a whole, they are not sentimental. The opposite, I suppose, of our Boomer parents. And me, an Xer, somewhere between. Tomorrow morning I’ll tackle storage, Home Depot Bagster ready for loading. I’ll surprise myself at things I’ll throw, and things I’d never. No question keeping a Ziploc baggie full of Shrinky-dink sports heroes, endless hours Nils spent at said-kitchen-table. Luke’s history timeline, miniature reductions of homeschool projects. (We’ll rock-paper-scissors to see who keeps that.) Kyle’s got dibs on the Blackfoot model from Camp Nathanael, and where-in-the-world are we going to store it? Someplace alongside the red wooden barn, and the Advent quilt with its twenty-four pockets. Oh, and several shelves of favorite books. (I’ve cleaned the library two-times-over. The rest we’re keeping. Don’t even ask.)

Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Psalm 71:17-18