What's Growing

monthly garden pic
The following edibles are currently growing in the garden:

Brussels sprouts
Swiss chard

There are also some mystery greens. I had a couple packets of old seeds that I sprinkled off the side of the deck into the dirt below, and that section is full of sprouts!

The crop of rudbeckia was gorgeous this summer but then was overtaken by an unknown condition. Fortunately it reseeded, and a slightly sunnier location is peppered with young plants. It's almost as if they revolted about the damp shade and walked over to a more favorable location. I dug up all the ones that sprouted on the gravel path. The ultimate goal is to spread the flower love all over the yard. I'm a fan of wild flowers that seem to multiply and migrate on their own.

One of the newest additions is also doing well. I relocated some autumn ferns growing under the knockout rose and replaced them with a small maidenhair fern that had a rough summer but seems happy in the cold. The leaves are delicate and seem to compete less with the rose leaves in the space and color department.

maidenhair fern

red onions 

Christmas Heavy

Around Christmas every year, I feel heaviness -- not from Thanksgiving feasting -- but an emotional heaviness. I'd like to explain it away by the change in weather or that the seasonal glitz and magic of the holidays have dulled as the years wear on, but I can't ever shake that there is a shadow over my heart.

It's been a heavier year than ever. There have been enormous losses and beautiful gifts of new life, and the collision of the the two feels a little like that time Joe and I went sailing and ran into a bridge we failed to see before we could get the mast down -- surrounded by beauty but fumbling to untie knots and ending up showered in dirt-dauber nests and cobwebs. But that image doesn't nearly do it justice, and I don't know how to do justice to losing my spouse's father. I don't know how to clean that up. I can't make it right. That time we sailed into the bridge we yelled at each other and laughed about it years later. That time we lost Papa, we leaned in close and held the ones we loved.

We received a new niece this year and learned there will be another new niece on the other side of the family just after the new year, and the sadness and love and joy remind us that life must be more than our frail frames, the morning routines, the glass of wine at dinner. It's forever longer than that first gasp of air as a mother gives her final push to the final breath that ushers our spirits from this realm. Love enters into our souls and lifts the heaviness while also assuring us that the heaviness is part of living for now, that it's okay to feel and hurt and let the tears fall -- it's the part that makes us hunger and thirst and cry out for redemption.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. -  2 Corinthians 4:6-12
Love to all the family and friends who have been the arms of Jesus this year. You bring in the light.

Chocolate Milk and Anger

I was upstairs scrubbing my jawline with acne cleanser (thank you, mid-30s hormones and anxiety for bad skin), and I'm listening to the boys making their chocolate milk. They've learned to dump instant breakfast packets in a glass, pour the milk and stir. It's their favorite drink (favorite breakfast as well) and it was a big deal that the youngest earned permission to make his own. They do it on their own most mornings.

I overheard angry accusations that the oldest used up the last of the milk. I had bought two new gallons the day before, but it's hard for the youngest to take the seal off and pour a new jug without spilling.

There were sounds of tussling followed by the impact of a glass on the table and then "MOOOOOOOOOOMMM!"

I lost my shit.

"Clean it ALL UP! You guys are such jerks to each other!" I knew this wasn't just an accidental spill.

I lorded over the cleaning process demanding not a drop of chocolate milk should touch the floor voicing my disappointment in a steady barrage of words intended to prick little hearts. I chucked the dry things over into the living room and rinsed off the dripping Lego blocks and the bagged warranty for the new leaf blower (high-five to the Ace Hardware lady who put that in a zip-loc), all while yelling at them about each following action that set my fires ablaze - tug of war over who moved the trashcan next to the table, stand-off over who would clean up the last of the soaked bits from the hundred pieces of sticky notes they had just torn up all over the table this morning.

"Why did you call us stupid?"

"I didn't call you stupid. I called you jerks. Jerks are people who only think about themselves. You guys showed unkindness towards each other. I want you to think about what you could have done to be kinder and helpful to each other."

I bagged up the remaining packets of instant breakfast and declared a ban on chocolate milk for the next month.

In the car, they were quiet. It was heavy. We'd all been our ugliest.

"You are two of my most favorite people in the world, and it makes me so sad when you hate each other."

Silence. Usually there are arguments of defense.

"You chose to show hate. I don't think that's the love that Jesus put in your hearts."

"You know, I don't care so much about the mess as I care about how you felt about each other in your hearts. Messes can be cleaned, but hate that isn't given to Jesus will only grow. I think you should apologize for the unkindness, because you are both responsible for that."

It was delayed, but the reconciliation came.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry."

"I really appreciate you apologizing. I'm sorry I yelled so loudly."

They are now at school, and I'm still not proud of myself. It's been a long week coming off one of the ugliest political battles I've ever witnessed, and I think my heart has been heavily burdened as I watch the world around me --  the words and attitudes, the anger and hurt, the sadness and disappointment, the gloating, the fear, the fights, the accusations, the apathy, the unknown ... I mean it's just all swirling.

And then I see in my own boys that the intensity of everything the adults are feeling over adult things are felt by them over a glass of chocolate milk. Chocolate milk and anger - in the abundance of blessing and privilege, efforts to undermine the other.

Lord, take our hate and replace it with Love.
Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.


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