Poetry

Life Here Is Not Only Madness

For whatever reason after I finally posted, A Mother in Warfare, I could not write any new words. Not really. I read through old work and edited an old poem making it better. But truly new words? New ideas? Not a thing. Perhaps due to a few things. Who can really tell? I have my suspicions. No one thing the sole culprit.

You can push through writer’s block fine enough, but this particular time (these days in general) didn’t seem like a time for pushing through. It seemed like a time for waiting. Just letting that absence of creativity lie dormant. Of not forcing beautiful words on a page. I had none, anyway. I was blank space.

But then my husband and I were in the garden with our son. He turns two this August and I’m already getting excited. I’ve been thinking of his birthday since I was early pregnant with our daughter. Birthdays light up my soul, I suppose.

And his is so special.

I can remember the anticipation I felt leading up to his birth. I can feel those long days of labor. Picking zinnias before going to the hospital (the first time, heheee). The laughter. How he felt on my chest in those first minutes. Bringing him home to sunflowers and our first walks in the garden holding him tiny in my arms. I was thrown into this kind of magic that hasn’t stopped. I’m getting carried away. Like I said. . .birthdays.

And more specifically the birthdays belonging to my children.

Well, anyhow, he’s almost two and that evening in the garden, we picked him a snow pea and showed him he could actually eat it. I hope I never forget his face. It will always be one of the sweetest things I’ve experienced earth-side. A moment so small and so big and beautiful. . .his realization that some things grown in the garden can be picked and eaten too.

And for me? I felt I could write again after that. I didn’t know what the words would be just then, but they would come soon. The following poem feels like a way forward after my latest, Even Mothers, Even Here.

So here we go. . .the words that came that evening after June snow peas in the garden.

Snow in June

after too much death

much too soon,

after wrestling with the words,

after all the words ran out,

after the Psalms ran on audio,

after nursing my daughter in

the dark of morning

afraid of lights out, life out,

of bad news down like

lightening,

I’m in the garden with my son.

he’s standing, loved, between us.

and he’s full smiling, hint of grinning,

we’re picking snow peas in June.

now height of morning light in evening

watching him taste and see

the fruit of our hope,

that this fruit even exists

that it can be for him. . .

not untouchable like the roses

not to save like the daisies

not to spare like the pink blossoms

. . .but to pick and eat,

its beauty in the tasting

its joy in the process.

eyes alight, its snow in June,

us right there with him.

fresh delight and nightfall soon. . .

life here is not only madness.

for I have also tasted,

and I have also seen.

the Lord, indeed, is good.

I’m not sure what I’ll write next or when. . .?

I’m in the days I can’t really explain.

I can imagine a mixture of postpartum, mothering two, shifting into a new camp season, wrestling with my fear of loss, trusting God with my whole being, and experiencing my faith deepen has life demanding my full attention without margin or capacity to write. I may be a solid two months past giving birth to my bright-eyed, wonderful Heidi, but I’m only a solid two months past. So there’s a lot still happening.

But Shasta is on his Y Bike in the bathroom batting his toddler hand at the dust particles floating in the morning sunlight.

And Psalms 16:8-9 upholds me in the night.

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

Heidi smiles at the drop of a hat.

Words will come again. The days sure do. I’m grateful for every single one.

So while I wait, grow, heal, learn, deepen and surrender, I think I’ll enjoy another snow pea in the garden this evening.

motherhood

A Mother in Warfare

My son kept looking back at me. A grin that reached his young soul. “Do you see this too, Mom? Do you see it? A whole lake! That boy over there could be my friend!”

I do see, son.

In this minute, like you, I only see the lake, the good things coming. I wish I only ever saw the lake. It is magnificent. I breathe for real. A deep one long held in.

But I see more.

How could I not? Headlines crush. Tragedies feel like tally marks. And that’s tragedy in itself. Again. Again. Again. And is it condolences, really? Or just everyone’s hot take? I look away. Not to stick my head in the stand. And maybe I do want my head in the sand when it comes to everyone’s opinions, everyone’s thoughts and prayers. . .

I’m praying too.

But my soul can’t take the noise. It wasn’t meant to. The burden is enough, and it’s too much. Was I meant to know it? I pray to God for healing, redemption. I surrender all I cannot carry. Which is all.

And I look at the lake.

Lean into life. . .this life from God.

My son grins. Laughs. He can’t get enough. Neither can I. I see God’s goodness here. I believe Him.

My daughter sleeps peacefully. I take in the beauty. Their dog runs. They hold their babies and walk into the water. And my own splashes in yellow boots. Waves from boats crash in. Not all waves mean storms.

Still I have no words for the world. I grieve it. And sometimes I don’t grieve as I should or weep with those who weep. God forgive me!

Life here is brutal.

But I look at the lake.

Because there is still life here too.

And I pray as though it’s an act of war. It is.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

I lean into all that is good and right, lovely and well. That’s war too.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

And I live. There are things to do. This is war.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

And I write. Because I need a Lullaby in all this madness.

Even Mothers, Even Here

I’m a beggar

and a mother,

interchangeable.

spare these hearts of mine!

spare these hearts of mine!

these hearts outside of me,

spare them please!

but I know it,

have lived it.

they won’t escape

pain, tragedies

by the tens or hundreds.

but let them be,

let them breathe,

let them laugh and love,

be healed, be held,

be fearlessly here

for all the days of their life.

and bear them up

when they grieve,

or ask questions like,

“but where was God when. . .?”

and give them peace

to face, endure

whatever will hollow

their hearts.

and help them laugh again,

themselves freely to it

when happiness

lifts their spirit.

and God, let us know,

let the mothers know!

even when

they aren’t safe here,

even when

they can’t escape,

our children

. . .our very heartbeats,

are ever safe with You.

but we are weeping, asking for

spines tall, strong with hope,

minds built in the truth,

eyes fixed on You.

and here You remind us

we can fall apart,

we can fracture, shatter

because even mothers,

even here,

are safe with You

too.

I grin back at my son.

It reaches my soul. And there the grin finds my soul well.

I look at the lake.

I see it, son.

I do.

Life at the Blue House

They Gave a Backbone to Happiness // words for our 7th Anniversary

Our garden tells the story. Our bright yellow shed. The way we approach each new spring. How we laugh together.

It’s been seven years of marriage.

We wear our ugly crocs and go out in the garden in the evening after our children go to bed. He waters. I trim roses. We admire our tiny bursting sunflowers every day. In awe at how they’ve grown.

We walk on the garden path of stones, almost completed. I pick up our little boy’s toys all over the garden. Our two plastic hand-me-down chairs sit side by side tilted on the grassy hillside. We make plans for the rose bed. Note the new growth on our daughter’s rose bush. It’s a story we’re living in exploding color.

And I celebrate seven years with the poem I wrote for Hope Gives a Eulogy. Because this story which the garden tells and our laughter accompanies, began years ago when in our earlier youth we stumbled through the graveyard, harsh reality nipping at our heels.

From the grave the garden grew and our love deeper with it.

Backbone

Happy people live here.

Bright yellow, light blue,

Big parties, belly laughter,

And year-round Christmas lights.

Happy people live here

Even after the music box

Abruptly changed its tune.

Happy people live here.

Making up magic and merriness,

Composing a new anthem

For easily missed things

Too big to fit in a box.

Happy people, the happiest

They gave a backbone to 

Happiness.

While harsh realities nipped at our heels we cultivated life with our fingertips. Side by side. Until the bright yellow on the walls became the bright yellow in our laughter and the music box got swallowed by the music of a garden that keeps on growing.

We pass through the garden gate made of splintered scraps of wood, and close it for the night. We walk by the sunflowers, step into our home, children sleeping soundly.

Indeed, it has been happy.

A grave. A garden. A dying, living, growing thing.

Indeed, it is us wrapped in seven years of love.

A story hard-won.

motherhood

It Was You The Whole Time

It was you the whole time.

Before I knew I was pregnant. When two lines showed up even though that second one was faint. When I texted our midwife with the happy news even though it was early.

But see,

I’ve learned there’s no such thing as “early.”

Just you!

You the whole time.

And when you were smaller than you “should” have been, it was you fully there. You the whole time. Your strong heartbeat the best sound in your mother’s world.

You.

You.

You.

The whole time.

There was a night I thought I might be losing you. I was scared out of my mind. Desperate, “I WANT THIS BABY!”

And that baby was you.

You the whole time.

And praise God, you were well! Strong. And all of you there, here with me, the whole time.

Conception. Week 7. Week 13. Week 20. Week 35. Last of summer, all of fall and winter, early spring, 39 Weeks, 5 Days. . .

it was you the whole time.

And now I get to hold you in my arms, see your face, treasure every bigger-than-life smile, calm your cries, run my thumb gentle across your forehead. There is wonder in finally holding the reality of you after carrying you for so long. You who has been you the whole time. Since before I knew! Since before I saw. Before I heard. Before I felt. Before I held.

It’s just always been you.

You!

Growing.

Living.

Being.

Heidi.

The whole time.

You.

No such thing as early. Just wonderful, radiant, miraculous you.

You the whole time.

Hi there, I’m your mom.

And don’t you worry,

I’ve been here the whole time, too.