Monday, November 27, 2006

little house in the snowy woods

I am living in a snowglobe. Every handful of minutes, the wind visits the alders and maples and evergreens surrounding our house and sends a shower of white billowing about. Inside this globe, I sit in front of the woodstove and watch the orange glow on the other side of the tempered glass. The sounds of David Lanz's Christmas CD fills the house. To my left, our 15-foot Christmas tree towers. If I had my druthers, the massive fir would be draped head to toe in white lights; for the pleasure of my children, I opted for the green, red, blue and yellow variety.

Fourteen inches of snow presses against the outside walls. Larry is so intrigued with the seldom-seen blanket of white that he keeps insisting I let him go investigate. The dog doesn't own enough dignity to stay on the porch. He doesn't understand that snow is not for lying on--at least not longer than the time it takes to make a snow angel. "Silly pup," I tell him. But he just grins and smacks a trough with his snakey black tail.

If you could enter this snowglobe and sit awhile, I'd offer you a taste of our tradition. Since the year we married, 21 years ago, I've been making homemade cinnamon rolls to celebrate our first snowfall of the season. This year's batch is fresh from the oven (a twin batch just went into the freezer for later baking). The moment I pull the pan from the oven, I slather creamy swirls of cream cheese frosting over the spiraled tops. It melts on contact and drips its sweet, buttery self down between the crevices of cinnamon and sweet dough.

Dave likes a big pat of butter on his, and a glass of ice cold milk on the side. I give him the largest roll; he finishes in a half-dozen bites and heads straight back to the kitchen. From my perch on the couch, I listen for evidence, and when it comes--when I hear the sound of the spatula sliding into my stoneware pan and the clink of the butter dish cover being lifted--I smile. He's waited months for that second helping.

More snow is expected tonight. Maybe we'll have ourselves a repeat of last night. Maybe we'll don our winter gear and walk again along the trail that borders our property. At most any other time, we'd have companions on that trail. Bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, and those on horse-back would share our travels. But last night, we owned the world. In an hour of trekking, with only the brightness of snow at our feet to guide our steps, our only company was the creaking of heavy-bowed trees.

I hear those trees now. Every so often, a white-coated branch gives up the battle and drops to the ground, trailing shivers of dust as it falls. I've spent most of the morning listening, and looking skyward. I'm watching for boughs, but I'm also looking past those massive sentries--and thanking the God who lives beyond. This scene is His gift ... and I'm grateful.

Labels: , , ,


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

those boys

When the two of them began wrestling (and laughing), I was sitting on the couch working on my laptop. A guitar sat perched against the love seat; a violin lay on the floor at my feet. The wood stove, lining the opposite wall, was stoked … and hot.

“Be careful!” I said.

Father and son ignored me.

“I mean it … someone is going to get hurt!”

To that point, they’d been wrestling standing up, circling each other like wary cats—jabbing, grabbing, retreating, wriggling out of each other’s clutches. But just as I gave my dire prediction, Dave pulled a maneuver any 45-year old man would be proud of. He picked up all 152 pounds of Zac, swung him up and over his shoulders, and began spinning them both like a whirling dervish.

My warnings faded as laughter took over. Despite my fears that they’d both land on the guitar, the violin, the wood stove, or me, I couldn’t speak.

When Dave thought they were both sufficiently dizzy, he dropped him down in a wrestling pin and began playfully and repeatedly poking Zac’s thigh with his knuckles.

“Dad!” Zac managed somewhere in all that laughter, “Stop!”

Dave didn’t. He poked again and again. “Charlie wants to play! Charlie wants to play!”

When he finally ended the torture with one last, I’m-still-the-king-of-this-house jab to Zac’s rear end, and walked away, Zac did what any 17 1/2 year old boy would do. He stood up, punched the air, gave a vicious karate kick toward the wall, and said, “I could have taken him if I wanted.”

I laughed.

“Seriously, Mom. I had him by the wrist. I could have spun him around and put him in a choke hold.” He ran through another karate series, defeating a foe seen only by him. “Next time, that’s what I’m going to do.”

He then sauntered toward the kitchen—where Dave was putting the finishing touches on a batch of beef jerky—and began scrounging through the fridge, though dinner was a mere half-hour memory.

And what was I working on? I was midway through an edit for a friend … on a piece she wrote about sending her last child to college.

I’m grateful tonight that my nest is still full.

Labels: , ,


Friday, November 17, 2006


I’ve known her all her life. I held her just hours after her birth, and in the weeks and months that followed, snatched her from her mother every chance I got. I clapped when she took her first steps, squealed over her first words, and laughed when she mastered my name. Even now, I love to hear four-year old Hannah say, “Hello, Shannon.”

Sometimes, when I arrive early at church, I’ll pull my car into a slot near the front door and spot her standing in the foyer, looking out the window. On occasion, she simply waves and shoots me that dimple-speckled grin of hers. I always wave back, and hope that by the time I reach the front door, she’s still standing there so I can get a hug.

Other times, Hannah isn’t content to wave. She bolts out the front door and down the steps, shouting my name as she runs. That was the case yesterday. When Tera and I arrived for our homeschooling co-op meeting, Hannah spied me before I spied her. I heard my name floating across the yard, over and over, “Shannon! Shannon! Shannon!” Hannah flew toward me, pink poncho swinging as she pumped her arms, her long, blonde curls escaping her pony tail and dancing in rhythm. I opened the car door just as she reached me. Her arms were wide … her smile wider. And Hannah clutched me like she hadn’t seen me in a month of Sundays.

How lovely to be loved. How it touches my heart to feel the embrace of those tiny arms, to hear her sigh in contentment that we’re together again. And how much emptier my life would be without the love of that little girl.

Her hello stayed with me all through the meeting. I thought of it again last night, just before I turned out my light. But then I remembered something else. I remembered how hurried I’d been yesterday morning, trying to gather everything I needed for our meeting. I remembered thinking about God, but not taking the time to talk to Him, or to listen.

I remembered that instead of calling His name and running for His embrace … I’d only waved.

Labels: ,


Monday, November 13, 2006


Larry's been at it again. I don't know if it's because he misses his pal, Jake, or because he misses the mistress of Jake's house, but he's taken to high-tailing it back up to the neighbors' house every chance he gets. Forget the shock collar around his neck. He's decided it's worth the zing to gain his freedom.

He doesn't stay long. That's because when we notice his absence, one of us will drive 1/4 mile up the hill and pause at the neighbors' driveway. When I'm the dog-fetcher, I bring the car to a screechy stop at the top of the hill and watch as Larry perks up his ears, stands from his lounging spot on their front porch, and lopes toward me. He knows our routine. He even knows to come to my side of the car, where I'm able to reach back over the seat and snag the back door handle. He hops onto the back seat, tail thwacking the window and driver's seat as he maneuvers himself comfortably. My hand gets a lick. Sometimes, he rests his nose on my shoulder.

Even though I'm usually annoyed that I had to make the trip, I don't scold. In fact, I use my "happy" voice. My words might smack of lecturing ("You belong to me, you silly pup. Not her. I'm your mama.") but Larry only hears love in the babbling.

We head back down the hill and drive together over the nasty wire -- the one that zaps him whenever he makes up his mind to rebel. On that return trip home, Larry feels no sting. And that's by design.

All the hurting, I believe, should happen on the trip out. I want Larry to feel the sting of pain when he leaves our boundaries. But his homecoming? That, in my opinion, should be pain-free and filled with lots of hugs and doggy treats. Because at some point, my desire is that while my dog is sitting on that other porch, it will occur to his little half-pound brain that home is a wonderful place, and it isn't much worth all that howling and hurting just for a chance to have his own way.

Do I even have to point out the spiritual application? Probably not. But let me just encourage you to think about those in your life who have crossed that wire and headed up the hill. Pray that they're miserable while in the wilderness. Pray that they find no satisfaction in their rebellion. Let the Lord deal with them in their desert. He knows how to convict and correct. All you need to do is ready yourself for the homecoming. Prepare yourself to forgive. And when you see that loved one crossing that hill, stretch your arms wide, smile, and remember to use your happy voice.

Homecomings should be joyous.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I think I'm going to live. For awhile there, as one couch-bound day turned into another and there was no end in sight to my ever-present nausea, I wondered. But today, things are different. I had a bite and felt fine. I think it's over.

Thank you for all your prayers and well-wishes. You are faithful friends.

And while I'm thanking people, I want to thank Janice and Susan of 5 Minutes For Mom for taking the time to both review Inconceivable, and also to host an interview about the book. You both blessed me!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Please bear with me, friends. I've had the flu all week. ALL week. And it seems the double whammy of surgery and sickness has stolen all my words.

I'll be back the second I find them again ...