Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let The Day Begin

It’s 5:00 a.m. when I hear the baby crying.  The house is still dark, with only a hint of light on the horizon. Yet, it is still enough to excite the wood thrush, and I listen for a second as he wakens the world with his flute-like melodies. “Ee-Oo-Lay!” over and over it repeats, music to my ears.  No human has yet achieved what the wood thrush has mastered for centuries, i.e., the ability to produce two sounds at once, creating a duet of harmonies echoing with all their breath through their vocal chambers.  So much music from such a small and fragile creature.

The baby is frightened, of what I do not know.  I cuddle him a bit, change his diaper, and he gazes at me with a grin.  All is well now, and he is ready to play.  But it is still 3 hours from his regular waking time, and I know the consequences it will bring if I let myself be enticed by that playful smile and those eager eyes.  I carry him back to his dark room, lay him gently in his crib, and stroke his forehead.  He whimpers a bit, knowing what is next, but does not fight.  He, too, I think, knows that now is not the time for play.  He closes his eyes and I gently shut the door.

The house is still now, and other than the baby, I am the only one in it. The rest of my family is scattered.  One son at Grandma’s next door, where he spent the night probably staying up too late and eating too much popcorn.  One son 400 miles away, in St. Louis, visiting old friends with his Daddy and having big adventures with his grandparents while Daddy works.  Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will all be reunited again, but for now, it is just me and the morning and the wood thrush.

I head out to the garden, baby monitor in one pocket, pocket knife in the other.  The garden has been neglected for a week and the crab grass and squash bugs now have the advantage.  I open the gas tank on the tiller.  There isn’t much gas in it and I debate whether or not to add more.  However, it is a long walk back to the garage to get the gas can, and so I say a little prayer that there will be just enough, set the choke, and yank the pull cord hard.  The tiller coughs and sputters but finally starts. 

As I work my way down the rows, I get lost in my thoughts.  Seeing the weeds overtaking my row of flowers gives me a story idea.  In many moments of my days, there is a story idea, but I rarely follow their leads.  Perhaps this one will be different. 

The green beans hang from vines, ready to be picked, but not today. Time is running out, the baby will awake again soon.  I shuttle the tiller back to the shed, running on fumes.  One prayer answered already, and the day has just begun.  I close the garden gate and walk through the cobwebs down the wooded path, back to the house.  The spiders waste no time each night rebuilding their walls of web and waiting for an unsuspecting gnat or, in my case, human, to blunder into them.  I pass our little statue of the Blessed Mother and notice that the flowers in the Mason jar have turned brown.  With only a minute to spare, I backtrack to the field, pull out the pocket knife, and pick a hasty bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace and Black-eyed Susans.  Returning to the statue, I tuck the flowers into their jar and tell her good morning.  Her arms, always open, give me a spiritual hug.  I look at the three graves around her, nearly covered with summer-growing vines, and imagine her standing with my three children, arms around them, waiting for me. 

The sun is above the trees now and I can feel the heat of the day pushing hard against the edge of morning. I step up onto the front porch, pull off my boots and look east.  The wood thrush is silent now and will sing no more today.  Let the day begin.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

7 Quick Takes - Joyful June

Coming in just under the wire to get a post up before the month of June fades away into oblivion.  Thank you to Kelly for allowing me to link up with her blog.  Check it out!

Check out my handsome little dude in his First Holy Communion suit.  Oh my, he has grown so fast.  He received his FHC on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Since he was the only child in our church to make their FHC this year (we belong to a very small Catholic mission), we got to pick the date and the Feast of Corpus Christi just seemed appropriate.  He did a wonderful job and it feels like he grew up overnight.  I'm so proud of this little man.  He was ready for this special moment.

The other watershed moment of the month happened on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, when our son met his birthmother for the very first time.  I can't tell you how important and special this moment was that took 7 years to come to fruition.  It's really indescribable.  Let's just say that the Holy Spirit is working miracles and this new relationship we have with his birthmother is simply beautiful. I am so happy for her, for my family, and most especially, for my son, whose smile I think, says it all.  I am so incredibly thankful that the Holy Spirit led us down the path to choose adoption those many years ago. The goodness that came from her selfless decision continues to ripple out to others to this day. My heart is full seeing these two special people in my life getting to know one another now and God is doing wonderful things in his good time.

Springtime brought the usual round of chores.  The garden is off and running and probably the best one I've had yet since moving to Kentucky, most of which is the result of getting up early and working in it for an hour after sunrise a few times a week.  I have loved these quiet, cool mornings in the garden.  We try to grow organic so when the Colorado potato bugs attacked the potatoes, I bribed the boys into picking them off for me by offering them a nickel for each larvae and a dime for each adult bug.  Would you believe they've picked almost 400 bugs off!  I may need to lower my price next year.  However, they decided to use the money they earned to take the family out for lunch, so in a way, it was a win-win for me, and it all came full circle.  The "new potatoes" are ready to eat now and there's nothing much better, cooked up with some fresh green beans and pork.

Counting his tater bugs.

Heat is rapidly replacing spring showers now and our boys are spending a lot of time in the creeks.  I'm not sure about most kids, but my boys cannot resist jumping into a stream during the summertime. Even if they are fully clothed. I used to fret about this kind of thing but have learned that some battles are best left unfought.  It's a good reminder to me that the outdoor world is God's playground for all of us, and nobody probably appreciates that more than a 7 year old little boy.

When not in creeks or picking bugs off the 'taters, John has discovered a new joy in listening to my old collection of vinyl records that he found stashed away.  Doc Watson is his favorite.  Lately, he has been alternating between my Doc Watson vinyl and his father's Dire Straits and Pink Floyd CDs.  He has quite the wide-range in musical taste!

John and his dad also celebrated their patron saint's feast day this month.  If you have read John's birth story, you know that he was named after St. John the Baptist and that the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is a very special day for us. It also happens to be his dad's birthday, as well.  We made the day extra special for them both, with cake and a few gifts.  It was especially nice that the Solemnity fell on a Sunday this year.  The Responsorial Psalm from that day is one of my favorites and a good reminder to all of us just how special we are in the eyes of God.  If you've forgotten it, go look it up.  Psalm 139.

As June ends, I am also finding myself ending six years of voluntary unemployment.  This past week, I accepted a part-time position as a wildlife biologist with a consulting firm.  It's mostly just summertime work, doing biological (bat) surveys and a few reports, so it fits well into our homeschooling routine.  However, it's been a big transition for the family since I have to travel away from home a few days at a time, and they are used to me being with them all. the. time.  I'm so blessed to have a supportive husband who helps make this happen and knows that being a biologist, and not only a wife and mother, is part of what makes me tick.  We'll see how it goes.  And speaking of wildlife, we set up a couple of game cameras on our property to see what's "out there" and I thought I'd share some of the photos we captured here with you.  Looks like my boys aren't the only wild things attracted to creeks (and sardines)!

See you in July!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Better Than Fried Chicken

I have a new story for Peanut Butter & Grace up on their website.  I encourage you to check it out.  Also, please say a prayer for my son, John, who makes his First Holy Communion this Sunday, that he always want to be as close to Jesus as he can get. 

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi!


I was scanning my bag of carrots in the grocery store self-checkout lane when I heard the lady behind me say loudly and enthusiastically, “You should come to our church!”

The words caught my attention, and I looked up to see her chatting with another woman who was obviously a friend of hers.  Their conversation went on.

“Bring your family.  We meet at the park just up the road.  It’s really wonderful, AND WE HAVE FOOD!”

I finished bagging my groceries and headed out the door, but as I loaded my bags into the back of my SUV, the conversation between these two ladies kept playing in my head.  Church?  In a park? Outside? With food?  I was intrigued.  I imagined young families like mine, gathered for prayer and fellowship in the picnic shelter; afterwards, the ladies would be enjoying friendly conversation while the men flipped burgers and played horseshoes and the children played in the playground.  Prayer plus play.  Such a winning combination, I thought.   And the food.  Oh yes, the food.  I’ve been to enough Appalachian potlucks to know what that would be like.  Heavenly.  Fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, biscuits and gravy, deviled eggs and homemade potato salad.  Watermelon, fruit salad, and BBQ potato chips. Three kinds of cobbler, some kind of whipped-topping dessert, lemonade and sweet tea.  I could imagine it all.  {Read the rest here...}