Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: family moments (page 1 of 5)

Christmas in the Family

We watch the world go by at speed limit, all in two rows, shoulder to shoulder as if we were connected there. Because we are connected there. And hearts glow like the stars outside, and mouths move and out comes one joy, then another.

Youngest sister dodges sleep; little head leaning light, little hand on my arm. Pretty as the ice-coated night. The rest discuss the favored Soprano during Messiah, (the first one in red, please) the old Tenor who stoops more than he did last year– and we hope he has many more years in the Methodist choir. (He, our general favorite.) 
We giggle re-dwelling the funniest antics on the rink, discuss the performance of the less experienced (stellar), decide whether or not to spend the balance of the evening making bagels in the classic country kitchen warm as summer. That is, if the power is actually on at home…
We stop where the wires are down across the road, turn around to find another way home. Shout “Thank YOU” out open car window to the utility men who’ll be here wrangling icy copper until daybreak and beyond.
And once again, the holy joy that makes a day a holiday is wound around this beautiful gift, family. 

We don’t deserve it. Them. But here we are, loved, loving…
– – –
And right into the middle of this warm-heartedness this word sinks like a cold dagger– 
And not that He was… (He was.)

But that He did.

That He walked away from the adoring, from everything and everyone familiar… That He left companionship. That comfy spot between beloved shoulders… The little hand on His arm, the little head, the perfect sleepy face, the warm chatter, the laughter at the end of an unblemished day, He left it. 
He told them to scoot in to fill the gap, to be the pillow He’d been. Stood up and walked to the gate, swung it open, waited for the click, walked way into the universe to spend His first Christmas all alone.
So we could have Christmas at all.


It’s the morning after Thanksgiving.
I miss it already.

So I’m going to keep it going another day, another week, another month…

We compare notes around the hearth and it turns out we’re all thankful for more than circumstances…
We’re thankful for the sunshine. And we’re thankful for the shadows, which always prove that there is a sun up there.
We’re thankful for happiness. And we’re thankful for strength, gained at the cost of ease.
We’re thankful for uncomplicated communion, and for friendship tempered by tears.
We’re thankful for sympathy, a gift best given by a heart that knows what it is to hurt…

We’re thankful that He sees beyond this moment and hands us what we’d choose had we His eyes, His heart. We’re thankful that He condescends to suffer humanity to share His joy, His tears. We’re humbled at the confidence he bestows upon erring mortals when he gives us His Name, His reputation…

Let the chime stay in the kitchen another day, a reminder to express Gratitude.
And let Thanksgiving never end.

Bound to the Altar

See how his hand trembles, this giant of a man. 

See how it fumbles with soft leather strap, almost inept.
Hear broken sobs, from the given heart.
Watch him blink away tears so he can see what he’s doing–
See to bind his son. His promised son.

By some reflex my head turns in real life, eyes squinted shut. As if to say “I don’t want to watch this happen.”

Amazing love.
But you know what I find almost more amazing?
See how his hand takes those straps, steady and strong.
See how he binds himself, soothes the broken, himself blinking away tears.
This strong son. The promised one.

Amazing love.

–  –  –  –  –

I pull out a second card. Because sometimes on sister’s birthday one card won’t say it all.

Four words– This morning I pondered with tears what it must take to stand like a rock, on a breaker out in the tide while the waves crash over. Like lighthouses do… 

Because you, I, we… We’re out there, and the sandy shore from whence we’ve come is washing out, getting ever more distant. Carried away by churning foam while the water around gets deeper. 

I mean, there’s the clinging, the scratching, the white-kunckled hold. But anemones and starfish have many more hands than we do. And none of them are permanent fixtures. 

So it must be, that to stand rock-like, we need nothing less than to be bound to that rock by a power outside of our own. Greater than our own. Bound so firmly that neither fear nor fatigue can ever make us ask for release of reprieve.  

Because it’s in the midst of the worst storms that the world most needs lighthouses…
Prisoner on the rock. to the Rock. 

Bind yourself there. 

               Love you forever.

Up And Away

Sunrise already finds me far from home, in an unfamiliar hub, bound for an unfamiliar continent.
But this feeling is familiar… This “it-never-gets-old” sense we always get when we’re perched on the edge of some new territory. Together.

Off we go. And not for a week or two, but for a month. Not sure if this trip goes by the label of ministry or mission… Probably some of both.

Pray for us in Bolivia, speaking first, then spending time in orphanages in the mountains. Pray we’ll have an over-abundance of love to give away in a land where the concept of family has been almost entirely destroyed.
And while you’re at it, pray we’ll find enough internet to post a photo or two between now and the middle of March. 🙂

My Word of Honor

Sometimes my most lucid moments emerge from the calm of profound exhaustion. Not sure why.

Happy tired. Listening from the back seat to the cheerful chatter of people I just love, my head against the window…
“Ketchup please.”
“Lime or strawberry?”
“Did you get your fifth?” 
Rubber purrs on pavement and we whistle along. Ski slopes behind, home before. Backdrop of sunset and rolling hills covered with a fir coat of pine.
“What page were we on?”
The book opens and the story goes on. An old fashioned tale of a century ago, alive with meaning and simple joy. I listen, but only with half of my head. Because forthwith I’m snagged by this old-fashioned story, and an old-fashioned concept that shouldn’t be remarkable, but is.

His word of honor
Used to be, a fellow was slow to make a promise, because a promise meant something
Mhm, mhm, yes. Doesn’t it still?
I don’t know. You tell me. 
When I say a thing, can the world set their clocks by it, and keep good time?
When I say I’ll ____, do I actually deliver, or do I just try?
  I’ll pray for you. 
     I’ll be there at 6.
        I’ll remember.
           Sure mum, can do.
              I will. 
                 I won’t.
                    I promise. 

Darkness gathers over the high country. I pulse this resolve.
To treat every “Sure, I’ll…” like an old-fashioned promise.
My word of honor.

Determined Nation

di-ˌtər-mə-ˈnā-shən: firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end…

Around the tree he goes. All business.
I stop to watch with mild amusement; my mind on other things.

Whether or not I can sense it, (I can’t) something was there. And his sense is strong enough that he won’t be easily put off. So he leaps and claws, and sniffs with this furious intensity, so excited he’s almost blind to his own opportunity…

I smell nothing, but I can see what he cannot.

“Listen, son.”

I have his attention.
“You might be able to actually get up there. But you’d have to start from here. See?”

I point to a new spot on the ground, then tap anchor points up the tree to well above my eye level.

“Then here, here, and here.”

I frankly don’t expect him to try. But I underestimate his determination.
He runs to where my finger started; whirls around. He doesn’t even pause to assess the viability of my suggestion.

He makes this scrambling charge, and he climbs.

He climbs to the point of no return, and just when I am thinking I should have thought this through better before making the suggestion, he flies out of the tree, squirrel-like.
And then he does it again. The whole thing. Nose working overtime.

He does it four times. Until his own nose and I finally convince him that what was there isn’t any more.
Crazy dog.
Or is he?

We turn to go. He, on to the next conquest.
I, to my thoughts in the quiet woods.

“Determination: firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end…”

Intention fueled by the recognition of a reality the rest of the world totally missed.

What if we were like that?
I mean, the holy nation. The peculiar people…
Fueled by a recognition of a reality the rest of the world totally missed…

Who says the impossible is… impossible?
Dogs can climb trees. Especially if someone points out the way.
I can prove it.

Thanksgiving [Because I Belong.]

It occurs to me that without a few key gifts in this life, all others are rendered meaningless.

The eve of Thanksgiving. I flop into bed with Romans 8 on my heart, fresh from neighborhood youth Bible study.
And as I ponder, as I set to counting blessings once again, I suddenly see how this one gift makes all others worth counting…

You’ve read the stories– Joe Wheeler style.
You know, the ones where some little orphan waits for Christmas, wants nothing more than someone to belong to. Someone to want them.

I’ve always read them with somewhat of an “awwww!, poor kid.” reaction.

But you know, I’ve recently found out that that poor kid is me. 

– – –

I look up from my Bible and my friend’s lip trembles, and I catch it in an instant, because my heart does the same.
It’s this word– “Debtor.” 

I’m a debtor. Romans says so. (and my heart tells me the same.)
I’ve never seen more selfishness in the mirror in my life. Nor foolishness. Nor pettiness. Nor pride.
It’s awful.
A debtor I am.

But right on the heels of this word with such weight, on this eve of Thanksgiving, comes this other word–


I’m adopted.

I’m a debtor, not because I’ve sinned, but because I belong.

– – –

My head finds the pillow. My tears join my friend’s.
I shake my head in silence, and though orphaned I should rightly be, I fly again at open arms.
And my Thanksgiving prayer is simple:

Thank You for wanting me.

– – –

Thanksgiving tradition: All kids in the kitchen. At once.
feast for the eyes
pilgrim zone
best ever: sharing the all-American holiday with Australian friends and sweet neighbors
no indians this year…

Life is a Vapor

Merciful sleep.
Merciful blackness, the backdrop for a million galaxies.

“Stars. You see them best on the darkest night.” 

I turn over, sleep, to see in my dreams the strength of arms, and wills, and hearts… of friends that wouldn’t let go. That poured sweat, and poured out sobs with us on a cold night under open heavens.

There’s something familiar about this feeling.
We’ll dig another grave tomorrow.
For another one of our best friends.

We’ll say another round of goodbyes.
That’s three times by open graves, once by our open door, since June.

But as night turns into day, then turns to night again, one thing hits me harder even than the loss of another cherished treasure. It’s how I cherish the ones that are left.

Because life is a vapor.
I’ll always be glad I stopped mid-stride, retraced two steps to the kitchen trash and fished out my apple core after lunch. Just because I knew she’d like it.

It is the last thing she would ever eat.

But what of the rest?

While visions of a twisting, straining, struggling animal, and of brave friends fighting through hot tears for a chance at life pass before sleepless eyes, I wonder:

These treasures, I mean the ones I have left, do they know how much I love them?

Morning comes and it’s still black. I awaken slowly, pause to feel my heart beat its steady 45.
But I’m by no means the first. Someone else has been up, waiting for the morning to start.
He’s pretty polite. Doesn’t usually awaken me before my time. But neither does he wait long after my eyelids first flutter.

The cold nose finds its way to a tear-stained face, pushes a time or two, and retreats to take up racquetball, sock, or whatever else can pass for a toy at 4 am. And he stands there, and his beady eyes beam. He’s happy to see me. And every morning he tells me the same. He stands there, wags his tail until he can’t take it any more. Prances and dances, and makes a fuss, as if we’d been separated by months and miles, rather than short hours since last night.
Just because he loves…

But wouldn’t I wish I’d done the same, made a ruckus when I’d first seen my sister, brother, mother, father in the morning? Wouldn’t I wish I had, if one morning they were gone?

I have news for you. For me.

That could happen any morning.

Life is a vapor.

Fight for it. Cherish it.
And not just when it’s hanging by a thread…

Sleep, Diamond baby. Sleep.

Relentless Pursuit

We waste hours and days in pursuit of answers from God.

When the answer to every question is to be found in the pursuit of God.

That’s what I learned this morning.

– – –

Memories from the past week, compliments of Instagram (seannebblett)

The sight sister and brother-in-law will see from their balcony in Oklahoma farm country

Reunion of 8 out of 10 sibs.

Stick up to the knee wall, post and beam from there.

Andrew working his chain saw art

balancing act, on a wobbly floor joist, with an iPhone

fabricating things most people buy from the hardware store

sparklers at Chantée and Luke’s Oklahoma reception

uncomplicated. little ones. (love)

And off they go!

Love Gives

Ten days out. Long days of school, a trip to the east coast for a funeral, late nights, early mornings, (over and over again) and emails and work and volunteering piling up unmercifully–

Joy is still on the throne.

I can’t explain it. Why we trip down the road at twilight the five of us that remain, and laugh instead of cry.

I can’t explain it except to say that our joy is unutterably full.
And it doesn’t even seem like they’re gone.
They aren’t really… They’re closer than they were when she slept upstairs.
Even if we only exchange maybe one email a week.

The joy of giving far outshines the joy of having.

I can’t explain it.
I feel no need to try.

Almost every table and windowsill in the house boasts their faces in some form.
And almost every conversation includes references to “Lukey and Chantée.”

Something tells me that for some time, that’s how it’ll stay.

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