seeing what happens

So far the deer have stayed away from my plants. We have the stuff to put up a fence if need be, but I don’t want to erect an eyesore if I don’t have to. I like the deer, who’ve got plenty of food and grass around here. One thing I’m looking forward to in the new heavens and the new earth is petting and kissing the face of a deer, like you do right now with a cat, dog, or horse.

The sweet potato slips have been in the ground about a week. They came nearly a week and a half later than I’d planned, and arrived as rootless stems with a handful of wilted, dried out leaves. I wasn’t expecting them to be so bare. I’ve been watching Youtube videos from Deep South Homestead, where Danny grows the slips himself. His slips have roots, are dark green, and full of leaves. These came with a paper describing exactly what I saw and assured me these would grow once they’d been planted, watered, and given time to recover from the trauma of their harvest and travel. It’s been an evening family event to keep them watered these past several days.

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Yesterday we planted the pumpkin patch. It didn’t end up going in the volleyball court, but is off to the side of the two potato fields. I like that everything is all together out there. It makes it fun to visit and tour.

The kids and I also started pulling up radishes. I wish they would eat them, but at least it’s been fun to watch them grow. These are all closer to the house in the raised beds, where I’m also waiting to see if the beets will come up. I moved most of my herbs to the back of the house where they won’t be quite so scorched by the sun. It’s all experimental, but I consider the raised beds to be more educational than practical. Cabbage, flowers, strawberries, and tomatoes, with a row or two of purple green beans. There’s a purple cauliflower and two or three kale seeds that, on the second try, sprouted.

when it rains

This feels like a post where I might end up saying something crass that I shouldn’t. As much as I planned on checking out of the news and earthly plagues for a while, telling myself I’d sit this latest round of media brainwashing out, here I am thinking about what’s going on in the news.

Two and a half months ago they were talking about flattening the curve and celebrating front line health care and grocery store heroes. Christians began discussing whether or not staying home and shutting down churches were ways we ought to be loving our neighbors. After a while people were arguing about whether or not it was right to be protesting stay-at-home orders and closing down people’s businesses and livelihoods. That was keeping us plenty busy until the news threw out a piece of bloody steak.

Now, isn’t it sweet, here we are having heart-to-hearts about racism. It’s not that I don’t care about wrongs, I do. That it’s being talked about isn’t what bothers me. What bothers me is these conversations only seem to happen when the latest video comes out telling us it’s time to start talking about it.

What others meant for evil, God can use for good, that’s fine. Let’s pray for that then, and when we’re praying for justice, we mean that we’re praying not for evil to befall another person, but we’re praying for God to set things right. We need to be seeking God right now, friends. Forces such as the ones at work cannot be quelled by human strength. We’re not going to be able to talk, listen, empathize, understand, or reform our way out of this one.

to be human

The kids and I spent the morning at an outdoor play date. A pastor’s wife invited us over for the morning, and she and I talked while the kids played in the yard. It always amazes me how effortless conversation is between two women on a porch. It seems to come as naturally as breathing.

Much has been written through the years regarding mommy wars. I think even the moms five or so more years behind me had a different and more confusing go of early motherhood than I did. More products. More articles. More die-hard opinions. I don’t know if something has changed again in the culture, but at least in my latest personal experiences, though mothers seem very aware of the threat of potentially divisive topics, no one is interested in hashing things out or dying alone on our hills. We want to respect each other’s hesitations and preferences, and leave room for each of us to do things differently. In other words we want to be supportive of each other.

supportive (adj): providing encouragement or emotional help

support (verb): 1) bear all or part of the weight of; hold up 2) give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act 3) to hold up or give strength

support (noun): a thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright

hold up, bear, carry, keep up, brace, help, aid, assist, pillar, post, prop, underpinning, base, maintenance, keep, sustenance, subsistence

Once we got past the initial “I’m okay, are you okay?” check-in making sure we both understood that realistically there would be no social distancing among the children, we turned them lose in the back yard and settled into our chairs. For two hours neither one of us left our seats, unless it was to fetch a toddler who’d wandered around to the front of the house, and then to be excused to step inside and change a smelly diaper. After about an hour, a mom-talk went out to the bigger kids overflowing from the preschool playgound equipment to watch out for the littler ones under their feet.

One of the trade-offs that’s come with homeschooling is it’s taken away some of the summer sparkle. Two moms I’ve talked to recently have mentioned the learning time and projects they’re doing with their kids since summertime started. I did this too when my kids were in school, and even though we limped along with our school books this week, I could tell it wouldn’t work to not have change with a changing season. I’m not saying this so much to compare myself to those moms, but more to acknowledge the difference now and be thankful for those memories.

It occurred to me also that I don’t really know what’s fueling my mothering life these days. I’m no longer running on the fuel of “raising the next generation”. I don’t need anyone telling me motherhood is “a woman’s highest calling” in order to validate my work or make me feel better for being covered in spit-up. Those words mattered and fueled me then, so in no way am I meaning to discount or discredit them, regardless of whether or not the truth behind those words is misleading or over-glorified. The paradox of “teach them diligently” and “you’re not in control and never were” is too much to try and wrap my head around to formulate a thought.

But where the mind has failed me, the heart makes up for. Love and joy, that’s what fueling me now, with a deep belief that all human years are important. It doesn’t mean I’m not tired. It doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. It doesn’t mean my heart isn’t ever slowly breaking. It does mean I’m becoming more human as a mother, and to be human is to be hungry, exposed, and in need. To be human is to be born, live once, and then die. To be human is to at some point despise your humanity, and if not yours then somebody else’s. To be human is to fall down and to never forget it. To be human is to know even my whole heart is not enough without God’s.

hear his prayer

Places are slowly opening back up. The library called to say they were open for curbside pickup, and that my son’s audio book order from back in March was ready any time. The piano teacher said she got approval from church to begin having lessons in person again with social distancing and sanitizing precautions. The 12 mini-communion services on Sunday will be changing to three separate hour long services with cleaning, social distancing, masks, and no singing. Goodwill is accepting donations again.

The other day while making supper, my phone was playing a livestream of one of the protests. A man was at a microphone and leading the crowd in chanting the name of the deceased. After that man was done another black man took the stage or whatever they were speaking from. He started doing things you don’t see on the news, like praying in the name of Jesus. His prayer went on for what seemed like too long, and even I began to feel strangely uncomfortable, wondering how long they would let this go on.

I wish now I’d paid more attention to the details, because I cannot say with confidence what news station it was (NBC or MSNBC?). I also can’t remember which city he was in. I’d jumped around to several, including Houston and Atlanta. Wherever he was, he prayed to Jesus, believing that Jesus was there where he was. He prayed for justice and acknowledged his anger. He prayed for all who were praying like he was and who were angry like he was, and asked that in their anger they would not forget honor.

Right about the time he started using words like “honor”, his prayer started breaking in and out, and you heard instead that crinkling sound you hear when you’re turning the dial to find an obscure and sensitive radio station. I thought, “Yep, this is it. The demons can’t take it”, and then the black man’s voice came back on the air. He prayed for peace and protection for the cities and as soon as those two words came out, his voice went silent. I looked up from the stove and the moving picture of a crowded street lasted five to ten seconds longer before going black with “This livestream has ended”.

I didn’t get to hear what the rest of his prayer was, but I wasn’t disappointed, and neither was I even the slightest bit surprised. A great mercy took place in the streets of that city.

God had heard his prayer before it ever left his lips.

good old days

I’m gonna be honest for a minute about something silly I’m bitter about. They said reading was supposed to make you better at writing, that the reason writers can write is because writers, the good ones, also read.

Well, I read. And I intentionally read for over a year. I do not, however, feel like it did anything to make me any better at writing. There’s supposed to be a bridge that connects your left brain to your right brain, and for whatever reason, my bridge isn’t there. I can feel the blank space where the connections never formed. The things on the left side cannot organize themselves to make it over to the right side, and the things on the right side have nothing to do but swim around inside there. That didn’t change.

So I’m bitter about it. If I work at something and don’t see results, then I quit–unless I want something else bad enough, then I keep going. I quit reading because not only do I have no desire to read, but I’m actually mad at reading, if that’s possible. I’m completely over it and don’t care anymore.

All of us went down to the lake today. I didn’t bring a book because there’s nothing I’m reading, but I did bring water, a towel, my beach first-aid bag, and a hat to shelter my face from the sun. It felt good to just be us, without Memorial Day swimmers or the kindhearted volunteer fixing the bridge. My husband and I laid out on the raft and talked about camp and what he’d gotten done at work. He asked me if I felt like I’d gotten a lot done, and I told him it didn’t feel like a lot, but it felt like the regular, normal amount.