Category archives: Family

The Words My Pa Gave to Me, Before He Died

I wasn't always so great at talking to my Dad. Especially during those teenage years, you know, it was so very awkward. I would have these things I needed to tell him though, some struggles I was going through, and so I would tell my Mom first. And then she'd have me and Dad sit down together in the living room, and somehow, we'd stumble it out. I'd tell him my hard things. And he'd challenge me in some areas where I was stuck.  And give me advice. Good grief, it was excruciating to work through. I hated it. And I loved it. And now, I'm so glad my Mom had us do that. At some point, a few years ago, I decided to call my Dad on Saturdays. Because it was always easy to talk to my Mom. I'd call and we could talk for an hour, no problem. But, I realized after years of this, tha[...]

When My Pa Went to Heaven

My Pa went on to be with Jesus, and I try hard to remember everything. I scratch around for everything I can possibly recall about him, for days. I lay down at night, and search the memories, the colors, the moving pictures, the snapshots in my head, because if I can just remember all the things, then somehow I can hold on to him. There I am again, about 10 or 11. It's Thanksgiving Day and we live down a dusty dirt road. Family is coming over for lunch and my Pa is down at the culvert, trying to clear out the dam that the beavers built, that's making the water flood over the road. My Mom tells me to take Dad coffee, in that plastic cup that we kept from Hardee's. Or was it McDonald's? Either way, I set out down the stretch of road, with a warm cup of coffee for my Pa, and I feel so [...]

In Case You Never Had a Good, Good Daddy

Do you know what Jesus called God? He called Him, "Abba." It means "Daddy, my Daddy." Because that's who God is. He's a close, close Father. Now, maybe you didn't have a good daddy. Maybe your dad wasn't there. Or maybe he was there but he was always mad. Or busy. Or stressed. Or too tired to wrestle or talk. Maybe you always wanted to go on walks with your daddy but you felt like you were "too in the way" to ask. Or maybe your dad wasn't quite safe. God isn't that kind of daddy. All of us here, we're all prodigals. We're all a bit reckless at times. We don't trust our Father's heart. So, we run away. We get lost. But, God is the kind of Daddy who waits out on the front porch at sunrise and at dusk, and strains to catch a glimpse of us coming down that dusty dirt r[...]

A Kind Letter to My Postpartum Self

Dear Self, Yes, you, my love. You, who just carried a baby for nine months and grunted and groaned a lot and tried to be thankful that there was this new little life growing inside. I want to tell you some things. I know how hard it was for you, there at the end. Because you were sick of those pants with the wide, elastic-y middle, that had to be stretched out over your big ol belly, just so they would stay up. I know how much they itched, but aren't you glad for pants? I know your friends are glad that you had them.   : ) And I know how much you worried along the way, even though you tried to trust Jesus as much as you could. How much you wondered if you would make it to the end and if your baby would make it into the world and if she'd be okay once she got here. I saw[...]

Dear Children, If You Could Just Learn This One Thing (This One Really Hard Thing)

Brent and I, we’re raising this little tribe of kids. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever experienced and yet the hardest job I’ve ever had. So much of raising kids is trying to teach them how to live together in love. Seems like God provides a family for us, to learn just that. It’s like He knows that if we can learn to love our family—the little brother who’s always crashing our block towers and pulling our hair when he gets mad-- then we’ll be pretty equipped to love the world out there, hateful as it gets sometimes. The family is the best training ground. At least, that’s how it ought to be. It’s meant to be a community of deep knowing and unconditional love. Because who knows you better than the folks who see you first thing, with the morning breath and the bed-head?[...]

Letter to my Sam

Dear Sam, You didn't know this, but a lot of the time, your momma feels like a failure. Because I haven't been reading books to you and your big brother and sister lately. And I can't seem to keep this place spic and span. (Have you seen the toilet? Yeah, it's not actually supposed to be that color down in the bowl.) I'm not as organized as I want to be. Sometimes the bills get paid late. I get distracted too much on the internet. And I don't know if I'm doing anything right. Sometimes I'm just awfully annoyed with my own self. But, there are these moments. These quiet moments when I go and peek at you while you're sleeping and you make me smile. Or when you're trying to wrestle your brother down to the floor and he's yelling for you to quit and you're not about to budge an[...]

At the Farm

At the farm, we hunt for kitties. And scoop them up any ole way we like. Some kitties are a little more tolerant of our lovins than others. At the farm, we pick peas with Grandma. We walk barefoot through the dirt. We just calm down our hearts a little. And listen to the horse and buggies trotting by. We catch fireflies and wave to the fellas on the tractors. Some of us are a little envious that the Mennonite neighbors get to mow their own lawns at the ripe old age of five. At the farm, we pick blackberries by the fence. Well, some of us pick blackberries. Some of us wait till there's a little bucket full and then we gobble them up when no one's paying us any mind. Then we climb on the fence and let the juice dribble down our chin. Because it's fun to climb [...]

For All the Mommas of the House Wreckers (How to Keep Going, and Keep Loving)

I’ve got this one kid in particular who just happens to be a real house-wrecker. (Well, they’re all house wreckers but this one…he’s just the worst.) He doesn’t mean to be, I don’t think. It’s just they all seem to go through this exploratory stage right about the time they’re two whole feet tall, and they really do need to examine every single content in the Tupperware drawer. And this kid, he gets a strange compulsion to pull every article of clothing out of the chest of drawers, say oh, five times a day to see if that one pair of underwear will fit around his scrawny little head. And then he notices the strangest things. Like that one pile of laundry in the bathroom, that looks an awful lot like that other pile of clothes over there by Daddy’s closet. So I suppose he de[...]

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