Sunday, April 26, 2009

Warm Winds Blew

and boys ran

soft-soled, uncalloused,

under watchful eyes and an early sun,

to waters from a winter now passed

Diary of a Garden; Help from Charlotte

"The first time I ate a potato right from the ground I cried," Charlotte said as she helped me plant some runners.

We talked about compost and putting up a fence while barefoot children ran beneath the orange, setting sun.

"My mother-in-law's carrots are as big as my fist," she said clenching her dirty fingers and shaking it through the cool night.

"My mother-in-law's tomatoes are known to make grown men weep," I countered.

I mentioned seeking out rotten horse manure and she did a little dance.

"Mix it in real good," she said, bending over to turn an imaginary shovel, "Real good."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mother Teresa, Pray for Us

We are at Jesus' disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that's all right, everything is all right. We must say, "I belong to you. You can do whatever you like." And this our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.

-- Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I love these words of Mother Teresa's so much that after a rough weekend (dreams of fun dashed by moods and vomit -- except for the part when Lady Charlotte brought me strawberry plants -- but that's another post) I'm adding a few of my own. Here goes:

I am at Jesus' disposal.

If he wants me me to put up with my husband's crabby mood & his short-comings, focusing on his better side just as I'd like him to focus on mine, that's all right.

If he wants me to take care of my children with a thankful spirit, even when I have days that are monotonous, boring and insanely isolating, that's all right.

If he wants me to be pleasant, or at least polite, even when the work of mothering seems overwhelming, exhausting and unfair, that's all right.

I will say, " I belong to you. You can do whatever you like." And this is my strength. And this is my joy in the Lord.

And while I'd like to think I'd work with all my heart for the Lord if he had called me to a life of service like the one Mother Teresa had -- literally, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry ...

Oh wait -- I do that!

Well, maybe I'm not in the slums of India -- but I certainly dress my share of nude little bodies.

It just seems like if I was wearing a habit and literally scraping maggots off lepers, rather than crusty, mystery food off highchairs, I'd recognize the nobility of my calling quicker. Quicker. So much quicker.

Mother Teresa, Pray for Us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

He Lives

Psalm 95:6

Come, let us worship and bow down
Let us kneel before the Lord our God our maker.

For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture
And the Sheep of His hand.

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection, circa 1898

Artist: Eugene Burnand

We Know the End of the Story

We know the end of the story, but the Saints who attended knew only this.

Regardless of their faith in what He said was to come, I bet they were sad.

I bet they were just so sad.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The King of Every Nation Was Hung Upon a Tree

An old hymn for Good Friday:

O Sacred Head

O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!

Thy beauty, long-desirèd,
hath vanished from our sight;
thy power is all expirèd,
and quenched the light of light.
Ah me! for whom thou diest,
hide not so far thy grace:
show me, O Love most highest,
the brightness of thy face.

I pray thee, Jesus, own me,
me, Shepherd good, for thine;
who to thy fold hast won me,
and fed with truth divine.
Me guilty, me refuse not,
incline thy face to me,
this comfort that I lose not,
on earth to comfort thee.

In thy most bitter passion
my heart to share doth cry,
with thee for my salvation
upon the cross to die.
Ah, keep my heart thus moved
to stand thy cross beneath,
to mourn thee, well-beloved,
yet thank thee for thy death.

My days are few, O fail not,
with thine immortal power,
to hold me that I quail not
in death's most fearful hour;
that I may fight befriended,
and see in my last strife
to me thine arms extended
upon the cross of life.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quick Question, Deep Thought, Brain Hiccup, You Decide ...

Per my preschoolers new obsession with dinosaurs, I gander:

Why did Scientist Biologist So-and-So have to name the prehistoric creatures such complicated names ("anatosaurus, ankylosaurus, pteranodon," etc., etc.)?

I realize "c-a-t" and "d-o-g" were already taken but what's wrong with "y-a-r-f" or "l-o-p" or "m-i-g?"

Tell Me?!

Do you know how much easier my life would be if while stirring a steaming pot with a baby tucked under my arm I could answer my son's "What's that?" with a:

"Dup" and a pat on the head.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Diary of a Garden; Part 2: The Pleasure of Digging

It rained for days and today it snowed.

And so I take back all I said about digging.

I'd gladly take it up even if tomorrow promised no squash [BTW: Does anybody really like squash? I mean really like squash?].

My Child Refuses to Pray at Supper Because

He's a snake.


Snakes Don't Have Hands.

[Note: Both feet in a sock with the baby's rattle tucked in the bottom; genius!]
[Note Note: I'm forcing him to pray anyway.]

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Here's my latest column at Blue Mountain Moments. I also pasted it below. Enjoy!

[note: Mary and Martha did their best posing for the above shot; as always, Martha's a bit ticked]


How a Neighbor Helped Welcome my Special Needs Son

Around this time last year, when March was skipping out like a lamb, the stork dropped a bundle in my arms. I remember catching my third son and my breath at the same time – overwhelmed by his newborn perfection. So you can imagine my pause when doctors pointed out that Simeon had “indicators of a genetic syndrome” – low-set ears, down-slanting eyes and a short neck.

I brought my baby home and while I was joyous in those early days, I was still “pausing” -- as if I had suddenly found myself on a ship for mothers with special needs children but had yet to grow sea legs. It was in those early days a kind-hearted man stopped my way to help unload my groceries. This good soul, who I later came to know as Michael, also has low-set ears, down-slanting eyes, a short neck … and a smile like the summer’s sun.

I remember taking note of Michael’s features the day he offered to not only carry my groceries but to paint my fence and to take out my trash – he’s a handyman by trade, he said, but he wouldn’t charge me because I just had a baby. You see, Michael’s heart is pure goodness, but before I talk more about him, let me tell you about my son.

In addition to being perfect, I soon learned Simeon was born with Noonan Syndrome – a condition consisting of the physical symptoms I already mentioned as well as short stature, a heart defect and, oftentimes, slight mental retardation. While I had no prenatal warnings that Simeon would have such challenges, I spent the early days of his life in the state of “pause” I mentioned -- grappling with the idea of raising a child who would be “different.” The acquaintance of Michael helped shape my heart on the matter.

Shortly after I met Michael, I saw him and his mom at the market. He’s about forty and she must be in her sixties. They were laughing and discussing what to have for supper. I remember glancing down at Simeon in his car seat then back up at them. Simeon’s cheeks had the same flush as Michael’s mom’s – hot pink and full of life. The cashier let Michael fill the bags, and his mom walked behind as he steered the cart out the double glass doors.

Since then, I’ve seen Michael around town. He’s always on errands. He talks to me with boasting pride about his work as a handyman and asks if I’d like him to mow my lawn or help plant tomatoes. I keep meaning to take him up on the offers.

You see, when I consider Michael, when I think about his mother’s glow that day in the market, I am filled with hope. I look to a future where raising a child with special needs is not burdensome but a joy. I still hear the echo of his mother’s laughter in the freezer section, playfully arguing with the son who never flew from her nest. I still see the pride in her eyes as she watched Michael bag the groceries – not because he was accomplishing something extraordinary, but simply because he was her son.

And while I plan to raise my Simeon with every advantage possible and refuse to label him less than his abilities, I have peace about raising a child who’s “different.” So many factors contribute to this peace – my faith and my family’s support are, of course, pillars. But Michael, a kind-hearted soul with a knack for helping out, has quite unknowingly, given my peace wings.

To learn more about Noonan Syndrome, visit http://

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Diary of a Garden: Part 1, Breaking Ground

There is work

There is play

And as shovel cuts sod, I see what's to come

Better days and tomatoes,
pumpkins and a glass half-full

Of at least 300 zucchini, acorn squash and melon
with black seeds and flesh pink
all the way to the rind

Half-full or better,
better or brimming

Brimming or buckets spilling down to the floor
and running down streets and sticking to ceilings
like the mud firmly crusted on my knees

I dream of bounty --
a bumper crop of butter

or I'd drop this shovel
and cease to dig

Because Crocodiles Don't Go To Mass

But why can't I wear my tail to Mass?