Category Archives: Emma

December Rose

She’s holding on fiercely through wind, rain, snow, ice.  Clinging to the vine that climbs wildly around the railing of our wrap-around porch.  She’s a beauty, though.  A spot of crimson against the dreary landscape.  A little bit of hope, a reminder of warmer, sunnier, brighter days.  December rose…

And then there’s this December Rose…

And she is so lovely.  Her bright eyes, warm smile.  Her tender heart, her generous spirit.  10 Decembers ago, I held her in my arms, wondering how I would mother such a wonder.  Would I teach her well?  Would I know how to help her grow into the woman God means for her to be?

And now I know…it is she who is teaching me well.  It is she who is showing me how to be the mother God means for me to be.  It is she (and her sisters and brother) who challenge what I know about love and grace and forgiveness and compassion.

Today, I held her in my arms (all nearly five feet of her!) and wondered still at the marvel of who she is.  Her beauty, her gifts, her spirit.  Beautiful.  I see now that the baby, toddler and little girl I have loved is just a preview of what is to become…who she is becoming.  It…she…takes my breath away.

December Rose…


My “Perfect” Kids

First, let me say that I love my kids.  They are each unique, wonderful individuals and I am so blessed to me their mama.  That God would choose me….well, I can’t begin to understand His goodness in that department.

Having said that, these wonderful, unique individuals are also…little sinners (just like me, just like you.)  One of the best pieces of parenting advice I received after our oldest was born was to always see her as a sinner.  A sinner worth loving, a sinner worth saving, a sinner with a God-designed plan for life.  But, a sinner, nonetheless.  I think adopting that viewpoint from the beginning has helped prevent me from worshipping my children or placing unusually high expectations on them.  It’s also helped me maintain a spiritual, eternal mindset as I mother them.

Anyway, twice in the last week I’ve been asked questions about parenting and both times, the other mothers mentioned something to the effect that my children are “perfect” or that I am mothering them “perfectly.”  I laughed both times and was quick to tell them that two of my daughters lied to me in one day and I was so tired one night that I let the kids eat Funyuns, Skittles, peaches, and gummy worms for dinner.  Really.  I did.

It’s so easy to look at another family and think, “Wow.  They really have it together.  Their kids are well-behaved, their marriage is so solid.”  And then we look at our own messy marriage or willful children and feel discouraged.  We can feel like failures or feel as if there is no hope for things to improve.  What we don’t see are the inward workings of others’ hearts.

But, God does.  And He sees your heart, too.  He knows your struggles, your mistakes, your challenges…and He sees the victory, the redemption, the peace on the other side.

No mother is perfect.  No child is perfect.  God gives us perfect gifts in one another and through one another.  We can choose to be a good and perfectly pleasing gift, but we ourselves are not perfect and neither are our children.

So, back to my own children…I love them.  Most days, I like them, too.  They are far from perfect, highly entertaining, eternally rewarding, messy, difficult, energetic.  And I am so blessed to know them!

Louis Braille

Why am I so surprised that one of my children would enjoy writing as much as I do?  I do think she will probably eclipse me in talent, but I am wonderfully okay with that.  Her book report for English…she chose Louis Braille because she had read a story about him last year and wanted to know how a blind person could lead other blind people to read and learn.  Tonight she said that his blindness was a gift…”if he had been able to see, he wouldn’t really have been able to ‘see’ that blind people needed to be able to read.” 

(Have I mentioned already that my daughter amazes me?)

Louis Braille

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 in Coupvray, France. Louis was born very red and wrinkly. His brothers and sisters loved him very much. One day Louis was helping his father with a saddle. His father knew what he was thinking. “Louis,” his father said, “don’t even think about it!” “I won’t,” Louis said. “Then, promise,” said his father. “I promise,” Louis said. “Good,” his father said. Louis’ eyes were fixed on his father’s awl. He knew that he should not touch it, so he tried to help his mom, but he was sent away. He went back to the workshop and decided to use his father’s awl. It was fun until the awl slipped, sprang into the air and flew into Louis’ eye. “Ouch!” he screamed. Soon after, Louis became blind.

 Luckily, a preacher named Father Pauly came to Louis’ town. He offered to give Louis lessons in school. However, he had very little time to teach Louis. He decided to send Louis to a blind institute. The institute was very hard. It was difficult to get around. At first, Louis was very shy, but soon he got the hang of it. Louis graduated and was invited to be a teacher at the institute. He took the job and learned to teach geography, science, music, and spelling.

 As a teacher, Louis noticed that the reading books they had were very short and there weren’t very many of them. It was hard to put lots of words on each page because the words were made of stones in the shape of the alphabet. Louis met with other people who had thought of different ways to write the alphabet for the blind. One of them had the idea of putting sharp pins in the shapes of letters. Louis thought it was a good idea, but was concerned that it would hurt everybody. Next, someone else had an idea that certain raised dots on a page would stand for a sound. Louis thought that was also a good idea, but it would be hard to remember all the words made by dots. Finally, a third person had an idea of also putting raised dots on pages, but the dots were much bigger than the printed alphabet.

 Louis had his own idea! He would make his own alphabet. Every night, he punched out little tiny dots that were just the right size. Soon Louis had made his first book! It was quite a success. He taught others how to read the dots.

 One day, Louis felt terribly sick. The doctor said that there was no cure for the disease that Louis had. On January 6, 1852 Louis’ eyes closed for the last time. Louis Braille wasn’t a well-known person because his death wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper. What we can learn from him is that we should always try again and again. We should be careful what we do, and always obey our parents. The number of books that Louis Braille made in his life time was 100 books. One dot at a time, they all came together and that’s how the Braille system was created. It is still used today and is named in honor of all that Louis Braille did.



She stands in the twilight of eight…about to enter her last single digit year…words flows from her heart to her her pen onto paper into my heart to treasure.  She laid this on my pillow for me to find this morning.  A kindred writing spirit.  I grudgingly share this beautiful girl with you, dear Reader.  How she delights…


It could be just today.

It could be tomorrow.

It could last for one day.

It could last forever.

It could be

….for Jesus.

Pumpkin Patch (no edits)

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Fall 2010


Another rite of passage marked in my mother-memory.  They awoke this morning with glistening gems adorning their ears  They were excited.  Brave.  Nervous.  Joyful.  Please with the end result.  Couldn’t wait to show their friends and teachers at school.  I had carefully prepared for the event.  Close enough to Christmas that they could receive jewelry as gifts, far enough from birthdays that it could be “because I love you and you are a neat kid” event.  I also prayed for wisdom about their ages.  I knew they needed to be old enough to choose, young enough to be obedient…

Watching them twirl their earrings absent-mindedly, I thought about another piercing that is taking place in them.  They are being pierced by the Word these days.  Remembering the details of preschool Bible stories and wanting to read–for themselves–more details, more facts…more.  They are making His Word their own.  It is beginning to change their hearts. 

I hear them in the evenings, spy on them from the hallway, the soft glow of their reading lamps casting long shadows about them.  I hear them reading to each other from their Bibles, talking about Samuel and what it would be like to hear God calling to them in the night.  And one sister shares that she thinks that once she did hear God calling, the other sister encouraging her to listen and obey.  They talk about Jesus and what it will be like to see His face and know that He knows them.  They talk about memorizing scripture and what they’re working on and who they want to pray for.

And I know I am listening to holy.  I know the Light that is within them will cast long shadows in this world and my mama-heart is pierced to the core.  That I would be allowed to know them, love them, help them…truly, I am pierced.

Father, Thank You for these gifts, these children, that they have been pierced by Your Word.  May every plan You have for them come to fullness.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

the art of photography

I’m a remedial student.  Beginner.  Novice.  But, I’ve learned a few things so far:

1.  It’s all about the Light, not the subject.  Anything looks good with the right kind of Light…

2.  Steady hands make clear pictures.  Shaky, fumbling hands distort the image.

3.  Good editing–clearing out the parts that don’t make the picture say anything or lend to the story you are trying to tell–is 75% of photography.

4.  Sometimes, it’s jsut God’s grace that makes the shot work.

5.  Photography puts you in the position of observing life.  It’s important to put the camera down sometimes and get into the picture.

And that’s the sum total of what I know about photography right now.  The ultimate Picture-Maker is trying to tell me something, I think…



Letters to My Family…

Dear Children,

You have exasperated me today.  Truly, you have.  Many, many times other mothers have commented that they don’t think they could handle four children.  I never know what to say to that comment.  Today, I would say, “I don’t think I can handle them either.”  Most days go so smoothly.  Most days you are all such a joy to be around. 

Not today.

You have all had issues today.  Back-talking.  Nit-picking.  Tantrum-throwing.  Noise-making.  Incessant jabbering.  Belligerence.  Disrespectful eye rolls.  Disobedient sighing.  Name-calling.  Whining.  Crying.  Cat-fighting.  Hitting.  Stomping.  Yelling.  Did I mention crying, because it happened more than once…

I tried to be patient.  That was probably my first mistake.  I should have just turned to God.  But instead, I made every effort to be patient instead of be made patient.  See kids, I really don’t know everything….but you’re getting that idea already, aren’t you?  Failing at being patient, I tried tolerating.  That lasted about 20 minutes or until the mud appeared in the kitchen, I don’t know which.  Then I blew a gasket.  It’s a short walk from tolerance to crazy. 

Then I apologized, but it was couched in a lecture.

Then I had to apologize again.

Then we ate chocolate on the swing and everything was okay for 3 minutes.

Then the nit-picking resumed and my antiperspirant began to stop.  And we all just hung on for the rest of the day.  I have to say, I was happy to see you all go to bed.  I know that sounds mean and like I don’t love you.  I do love you.  Each of you.  Dearly.  But children, you have been exasperating.  I am Alexander and this has been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

While you drifted off to dreamland, I have prayed for each of you.  I have asked God to give me wisdom.  I have asked for forgiveness.  I have asked for grace.

I have also asked that this sort of day never, ever happen again.

I love you all.  I will try to be more like Jesus tomorrow.


Your Mother

Dear Husband,

Today was not a good day.  I didn’t feel appreciated by our children.

Thank you for coming home with a smile, taking out the trash, weeding the garden, putting the toilet seat down, sweeping the floor, picking up toys, smiling at me in the middle of a messy, difficult dinner, bringing me caffeine, and (most especially) letting me take a nap after dinner.

I can’t promise tomorrow will be any better…but I promise I will still love you.


Your Wife

PS  We need milk in the morning.

Spring 2010