We shall walk through the valley in peace

It’s Thanksgiving Day in Canada, a white one here in our much-loved North.  A few golden trees are shining through the snow, kind of like hope.  I keep thinking of poetry about October’s bright blue weather and wondering where it is.

Dan took Andre hunting this morning.  Liesl woke up early and snuggled on the couch with me.  She was “stouving”, so she warmed up some leftover baked oatmeal.  When the hunters got back, she raced out to meet them, hoping they’d brought “fresh venison for dinner.”  I think that comes from Little House in the Big Woods, of which she is a current avid fan.

While we ate bacon and eggs, I wondered aloud about what people in hurricane-riddled Haiti are eating today. The ache of need there and in so many other places can make us feel affluence guilt on a daily basis.  Is that healthy, do you think?  How do you deal with it?

As we speak, the Trump/Clinton race for the election rages on.  My facebook page is full of my (many & mostly conservative) friends’ take on the subject, angry or stony faces of both nominees filling the newsfeed.  This morning I keep thinking of that song, “If Jesus Himself will be our leader, we will walk through the valley in peace.”  I wish He was here to walk with us, to touch us and give us that peace.  But maybe we’d miss Him, like so many did 2000 years ago.

The last six weeks have been difficult ones at our house, difficult by first-world standards anyway.  Besides rutted fields from fall rains and getting back into school schedule and a weird, unnamed stomach bug that put almost everyone on the couch with varying degrees of discomfort, we are facing some hard life issues that I can’t even really talk about because they’re too personal and painful and uncertain.  Being quiet in difficulty is not my strong point, but I’m learning.  I’m also learning that it’s easy to think you’re kind of learning to be strong when things are just a little bit hard, but then they get harder and you realize how much you need faith and others and Jesus because your strength is no match for Harder.

You can pray for our family if you think of it, unspoken prayer requests here.  I have always kind of hated those things, but now I know why people give them.

This post about beauty is so good.  It’s just where I find myself.  Sometimes thanks seems impossible, but always there is beauty.  And when you identify the beauty, the thanks usually follows.

I rescued these three pretties before it snowed too hard.


And since the Inspirations journal that my friend Luci Miller gave me is full, I get to start this purple ($4) Dollarama beauty.


Scarf sisters.


And there’s always humour too.  Dan and the boys were guffawing over this meme this morning while Tori and I rolled our eyes.


About the last post I wrote?  I wrote it in overstatement.  Our 12 year old boys do smile at us.  My 14 year old hugged me on the way into the grocery store on Tuesday evening.  We talk a lot, discuss the world and people, have many.good.times here.  We love our teens and they love us.  Just to get that straight.  But I’m not minimizing the hard times, the estranged times, the we-did-something-really-wrong-here moments.  That’s what I was writing about.  The mean old comparison thief can make it look like everyone else’s families are  put together Just So and mine is floundering horridly.  I like to tell the kids that we probably look like that on the outside too. But that’s not really what we’re here to do, show you only the best and hide the ugly.  Not that the opposite is beautiful either. Balance in all things, folks.  Balance.  I’ll tell you when I’ve achieved it.

Here’s to peace in the storm,

Jesus as Leader,

and the final Triumph of Love over Evil.

Love you all.

He Smiled First

You might look on at our family and think we have it made. Three handsome sons and three pretty daughters, a decent business and a modest home, a dad who loves to take his family out for dinner and a mom who grows green beans and flowers.

Twenty years ago Dan and I entered holy matrimony, buoyed by love, sights soaring as high as the Rockies.

We both came from strong families; strong but flawed.

Since we loved God and each other and were moderately intelligent, we hoped we’d have a family a cut above the mediocre ones in which we’d grown up. Not that our parents didn’t fit that same criteria.  But nowadays there was good literature out there about how not to be passive dads and controlling moms, about avoiding iron-grip discipline and over-protectiveness, about giving more time to our children and teaching them the reasons instead of just saying no.  We’d both been teachers and we both loved children. Surely if we followed the Ezzo’s Raising Kids God’s Way formula and practiced healthy communication and read good stories and taught them to pray, things would turn out well.

I don’t think we were more naive than most 22-year old-Mennonite couples. We were happy and hopeful and maybe a little unlearned. But it didn’t matter.

Our six brown-eyed bundles of joy came pretty quickly, some of them planned and others surprises.  We cried with intense feeling at their births, worked our hearts out for their first smiles, smacked their bottoms when they threw fits, and read lots of Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss.

There were a lot of other moments too, hard ones and happy ones, funny ones and terrible ones.

Then all of a sudden the boys turn about nine and they don’t smile at us anymore.

Andre is our youngest boy and he’s tall and sturdy for his age. He has a wide face and a big smile. He has a slower, easier nature than some of his intense siblings and he gives us big hugs when he tells us goodbye, even in front of his peers.  He’s my baby boy and I’ve probably enjoyed him more than I did the others, knowing that soon he won’t make popsicle stick plane messes and create huge farms on the downstairs carpet, using masking tape to mark fields and roads.

But now he’s nine and after a skirmish with his sisters on the way to church (something to do with who sat where in the suburban and his dad’s reprimand about how he was acting) he got grouchy and sullen. I came into church a few minutes after he did.  He was sitting there with his dad and I smiled at him.  No response.

Oh come on, I groaned inwardly. Not again, not my Andre. I thought maybe we’d bypass this stage with him. He’s always adored me and I’m not ready for this.  I guess we just go wrong somewhere. What do you have to say for yourselves, Mr. Ezzo and Dr. Dobson? 

It actually hurts not to have your smile returned. Especially when it comes from the same little people that you taught how to smile in the first place.

Later on that no-smile Sunday, we had choir practice at church. Alec is our oldest son and at 18 his bass voice is so beautiful that it can make me cry if I let it. We were standing in our choir circle, facing the other parts. Between songs, I looked at Alec, standing tall in his hipster jeans and new, dark-framed glasses.  He smiled at me.

Mom, I think you’re actually pretty nice. I like you and I’m proud to be your son.

Those first months you work your heart out for that baby of yours, pouring, pouring, pouring into them.  You store up their baby smiles and photograph them and frame them.  You go tingly with joy over their first laugh.

If you’re flawed parents like us, you miss things along the way and before you know it, you feel them draw away and it makes your heart ache a little. Or sometimes a lot.

Remember what’s been poured into your life and who poured it in! you want to scream some days.

Then somehow miracles dawn and they reach back out to you. Along the way, they start to say thank you, sometimes more with actions than words.  The smiles you coaxed out of those one-month-olds come back to you.  And they fill you up like you wouldn’t believe.


incredible daughters, springtime, and judgmental humans

Written Monday, May 2nd.

It’s been such a good day.  Any day that is Green and Spring is good.  These precious days when we enjoy good health and good food and relative peace are good days.  I had to add “relative” to the peace part because we seem to be having an especially bad round of fighting at our house.  I am not the pro-active mother that I could be and sometimes I just wring my hands in despair and roll my eyes and pray that we’ll somehow make it through without being consumed one of another because of all the biting and devouring that’s going on. (Paul knew what he was talking about in Galatians 5.) Maybe when they’re 30 they’ll love each other.

Dan is much better at handling things.  “Okay you two.   I want you each to think of something to do that will make the other person happy.”

It works!  They think.  Liesl gets shiny eyed and goes to put away the silverware for Andre.  Andre gets thoughtful and goes downstairs for the bottle of bubbles he never uses.  They go outside and blow them together.  Dan says, “See? Isn’t that so much better? You’re actually smiling now.”

I took Victoria to the airport in Grande Prairie today and she flew to Lethbridge for a week to be with my mom.  This is our girl who finished her schoolwork early for the spring, graduating with the CLE academic diploma in eleven years instead of twelve.

Here she is with her friend Sandra, who also graduates this year.


I imagine that when God was growing Victoria inside me, he said to Himself,  Ok.  This lady Luci cries easily and overthinks life and tends to negativism.  I’ll give her a break in life.  I’m going to give her a daughter with her Dad’s calm and steady disposition and his mathematical mind and musical abilities.  I’ll give her her Grandma Martin’s grace and her Grandma Peachey’s efficiency and organization.  She’ll have her  Auntie Monica’s perfectionism and her Aunt Michele’s thick dark hair and almost black eyes.  She’ll be poised and disciplined like her Aunt Linda.

And He created her and said that she was very good.


(I’m not sure what part of me He gave to Victoria.  Maybe my love of Beverly Cleary and long walks on sunny days?)

But seriously, she’s such a good daughter.  She’s not perfect and she wishes she could express herself like her witty Smucker cousins and she wants to be more socially adept and not so bossy with her siblings.  She finds fault with her dad and mom like I did when I was 16. And other things.

But if I told you her grade average I might be bragging.  And she is a girl with a Sense. A sense of appropriateness, a sense of otherness, a sense of Jesus.

I love her and am so proud to call her mine.  I know that God gave us a beautiful gift when He gave her to us.

We shopped a little yesterday, more rushed than we’d hoped to be.  I wanted to take her to eat at The Chopped Leaf. But there were taxes to sign and we didn’t have time for too many extras after spending too long trying on sweaters at Value Village. It’s fun to be able to swap shoes and sweaters with my girl.

I hugged her goodbye and left her, happy to know I can trust her and happy to think of her spending time with grandma and her aunt and cousins. I miss her when she goes, but I know I have to gradually get used to doing without my right-hand girl.


She dreams of Faith Builders in Pennsylvania, Jungle Breezes mission in Guatemala, Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute, IGO in Thailand, Maranatha in Minnesota, going back to serve at the place in Belize where we spent two happy years when she was little, Zimbabwe, teaching at the Russian school in Hudson’s Hope, working in a Dawson Creek coffee shop.  It is good to be 16 and full of dreams.  I hope we can keep her close for at least the next school year.  Seventeen seems too young to go very far for very long.

I drove home in the May heat, the farm suburban air conditioning out of order, windows rolled down.  I so seldom drive alone and when I do, I daydream about just driving and driving.  Ending up in Fort Nelson by nightfall, heading on up to the Yukon and maybe Alaska. Who knows on a summer-like day?

I thought about the stony-faced Mennonite lady I saw in the Walmart checkout line and wondered what made her face so dark.

I thought about this meme someone posted on facebook.


I passed an abandoned camper and wondered about its story.  Had someone made love there? Died?  Left it for a double wide?  Maybe I could write fiction, I thought. The idea was quickly discarded.  I don’t even read fiction much anymore.  Chalk it up to being over 40, I guess.  Real life means so much more to me than it ever used to.

I thought about the new shoes I’d found for Natalia, those Converse style she’s been dying for. Teal and shiny to boot. (They didn’t fit and need to be returned to Payless, which is a hard realization for a 10 year old.  Maybe they won’t have the right size by the next time we get to Grande Prairie.)

I saw a jet stream in the blue and marveled (again!) at all things green and warm.

I thought about the balance of mercy and judgment and how hard those calls are to make and where God stands in all of this.

I prayed about church problems and family stuff and so many hard things in life.

I laughed again at how in my last blog post I called myself a judgmental human and later in the day I read a post by someone who isn’t my personal friend, but is a friend of a lot of my friends and she’d written her post about 5 hours before mine and used that very term.  And I was sure that our mutual friends would be sure that I was copying her because I used her very words.  But I was innocently naïve to the fact that she’d used that term when I wrote my post.   I felt at the time like I needed to clear myself immediately of plagiarism.  But then I thought better of it and realized how driven I am by what people think.  And usually people are thinking of us so much less than we imagine them to be anyway!

(But here I am, still clearing myself in the event that someone may have read both posts who happens to also care about reading this!! Ugh. The fear of man bringeth a snare.)

I thought about how someone told me after our choir program the other night that I look So Sad.  And I know they meant well and were being sensitive, but it made me feel bad.

Number 1:  I wasn’t actually feeling sad, I was actually quite happy and at peace.

Number 2:  I realized that do the same thing in my attempt to care for others.

Life Lesson for me:  Do not tell people they look tired.  Or sad.  Unless you know they are, maybe?  Or maybe ask them if everything is ok instead?  But then that can get on my nerves too.  When things ARE ok and somehow I don’t look like they are, I wonder what is wrong with me that I look troubled.  But sometimes it’s the question I need and it gets to my heart and I am ready to talk about the sadness or the tiredness.

Sigh.  Conversation is dicey.   Aptness is a gift.

I didn’t finish this post on Monday and it’s now Tuesday and the 3rd of May.

I need to plant beans transplant tomatoes plan supper change a load of laundry bring in laundry clean the perennial beds wash the windows and buy a new loveseat.

Not all happening today, obviously.

Happy Spring, wherever you are.


From Starbucks

I’m feeling as refined  as I’ll ever feel, sitting here at Starbucks in Dawson Creek, looking out at Shoppers Drug Mart’s red and grey front with white lettering, having just eaten a chicken chipotle panini and an Almond Coconut Cashew Chai fruit and nut bar. I am drinking a caramelized honey latte and wearing a circus red scarf, a gift from my sister-in-law Kim. I don’t really do Starbucks, but then again I guess I do once in a while. I planned to spend the day at home, putting sheets through the washer, sitting in the big chair and actually remembering my dad, calling Mom, catching up on my diary, folding jeans and towels if I felt like it.  But Dan had cheques to deposit and bills to pay and I knew that my help would help to make up for the day he took off yesterday to take Bryant to an auction.  So I went to the bank and gift shopped for Hannah, my niece (I’m so excited about my find for her at Faking Sanity, the used bookstore.  But I’d better not say what it is because she might read this.) I ran into my friend Carol at Safeway when I stopped there to get Nabob coffee on sale for 9.99.  And being at Safeway, I grabbed a plant with orange flowers and a card in honour of the newest Peachey baby. I got to see the new little guy for just a minute…and his precious young parents so brave and proud.

Life has been such an overwhelming muddle of death and birth and marriage and death and lovely music and death and engagement announcements.  I feel breathless from trying to keep up, tired from being stetched thin washing clothes and packing and preparing and planning and crying and scrubbing mud boots and singing in the choir and making floor beds and flying to Portland.

To try to write of the last month feels insane, narcissistic, a veritable marathon of events that could make us appear super human, which we definitely aren’t.  Just ask our children, whom I lost my temper on the other night-the first night there finally wasn’t something that had to be done-for the simple reason that I get tired of them Always Having to Have a Bedtime Snack.

And if we’re comparing hard things, my life is a breeze compared to Job, my sister Twila, or  the young woman whose cancer journey I read last night on Caringbridge. To name just a few of the people my addled brain can think of. Nothing heroic or super human here. Just a lot of grace and kind support of friends and family.

I guess if you read only here and not on Facebook, I should insert into this muddle that my dad passed away on March 29.   He is Home and at peace. The chain of events since then are only part of this defective world the rest of us still call home.

I’ve been wishing to write again, to write real things. But I don’t know where to start.  This quote by E.M. Forster guides me:  “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” 

It also makes me laugh, describing the many long conversations Dan and I had while driving the road between here and Edmonton.  At one point he looked at me and said, “Did you know you talk too much?”  But talking  or writing is my way of thinking. It’s an annoying habit, I’m sure, one that needs to be seasoned with a sense of otherness.

One thing that I want to say is this:  I have been a judgmental human a lot of my life.  I have often been judgmental of people and their words, especially as expressed to people who are grieving.  I remember when my brother Kevin died at age 27 that I felt like laughing bitterly when people said, “I know how you feel.  We lost our baby after she lived for only two days.”  Or:  “I know what you’re going through.  We buried my grandma a year ago.”

Kevin was in the prime of life and it was taken.  There is no comparison,  I felt like saying.  But there is, actually.  Death hits us all deep and hard.  It causes guilt if we don’t love the person who left us like we know we should have.  It causes loneliness and deep holes and weird emotions and unexplainable aches.

And planning funerals is Just Hard Work.  With a wedding, you plan in anticipation for three or six months, taking care to honour the people you care most about with important positions, thinking about flowers and colours and time honoured traditions.  Funerals give you about five days in a state of blurred shock or unseeing tear-filled eyes to try to bring together something just as beautiful and meaningful and honouring to the people the person who died cared most about.

I am starting to cry here in Starbucks just thinking about all of these things again.  Don’t look at me, man with the white cell phone case  and grey sweatshirt and black bill cap.

I have become a stuck CD it seems, speaking so often of the beauty of life in the midst of pain.  But the last month truly made that real again to me.  So I guess you get to keep hearing it if you bother reading here.

We had a wedding that Dan officiated at and we sang at on the Saturday after Dad passed away. It was pretty, simple, and happy.

After the whirlwind of viewing and funeral for Dad down south, memorial service up here in the Peace Country he loved so well, burial at the little cemetery just down the road beside Kevin, hugs, songs, cards, flowers, friends, family I-love-you’s said…. After that Dan and I went to Oregon to support my sister Twila and her family at another funeral.  Twila’s husband Brian lost his father and stepmother to a fatal accident.  So Twila’s five girls lost both grandfathers in four day’s time and then their grandma on the day they buried their Grandpa Peachey.  The grandma was taken off of life support (as per wishes in her will) and died shortly after.  Twila and Brian’s daughter Hannah lives with us this school year, teaching special ed at our church school.  It was fun to walk in and surprise them on that sad day.  And I got to meet Dorcas Smucker.  She is tiny.  I was wearing heels that day and I’m average height, but when I hugged her, I felt like I was overwhelming her. She has kind eyes.

Oregon in springtime is delicious, full of wild color and gentle green.  I saw so many good friends in our brief stay there.  And made a few new ones. And I started to eat again.  Poor Dan, having to pay for airport food for his ravenous wife.  Everything tasted SO good, starting with the fajita bowl at Chili’s in Denver. Zesty Ranch snack mix on United Airlines, heuvo ranchero (eggs, taco chips, zesty beans, salsa) in Portland airport on the way home,  fruit crepes at Elmer’s across from our Portland hotel, Asian cashew chicken cabbage salad, cheeseburger soup at the funeral, a parfait in San Francisco, Wendy’s Asian cashew chicken salad, bacon cheese baked potato, and frosties in Whitecourt, Alberta.  Everything Tastes Good again. My legs feel strong again.

After we were home, we got ready for SMBI (Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute) from the hills of Pennsylvania, who graced us by coming north to sing for us.  We slept ten girls in our basement and it was so much fun.  Black and green choir dresses hung all over the house that night, drying after their midnight washing.  And the music?  Awesome and beautiful.

The day SMBI left, our little Peace River Community Choir sang at one more celebration of life for a well-respected man we didn’t know well, but who was very well loved and honoured by all who knew him. I tell you, funeraled out as we were, it was a privilege to sing there and all the memories touched us in deeper ways than we knew existed because of fresh grief of our own.

I might write about being with Dad when he left this world, of our messed up family and the ways death brings us closer, of Mom in her quiet house, going through Dad’s footwear.

Or maybe I’ll just write about other things.  Like Natalia saying, “Grown up ladies always say, (insert prissy voice) “Oh my! It’s already 2016.  And it’s already the fourth month.  And we’re already halfway through it.”  And they say things like “My!  You’ve grown so much!”

Ain’t that the truth, said Luci cliché-ly.

I must get home to my children and towel folding! Tomorrow there is another wedding to attend! Life goes on!!!

Said Luci like her expressive friend Sharon whose letters are adorned with exclamations.  Life is really full of them, isn’t it?

I am publishing this without proofreading.  Because it’s 4:01 and I said I’d be home by 4:00 and it’s a 15 minute drive home.😦

It’s majorly haphazard

My dad has stage 4 cancer of the pancreas and liver and for people who want details (mostly boring ones), you can go here.

I’ve written quite a bit about my feelings on the whole deal on facebook too. I know there are a few of you who read here who don’t read there….but I so badly don’t want to belabor the issue. It’s big and it’s real and it hurts.  But long medical explanations quickly become monotonous for some of us.  And he’s 79 and has lived a joyful and generous life.  The family is rallying around him and the neighbors are offering products for healing and bringing in food and flowers and songs.  He is back and forth between wanting to get strong enough to take some chemo for prolonged life and telling Mom who he wants to preach his funeral message.  I cry sometimes, walk around in a daze sometimes, hug my kids extra tight, and stare out at the northern landscape pondering life and death.

I was able to spend about four days with Dad and Mom last week and it was precious to rub Dad’s feet and back and tummy and bring him another pillow to make him more comfortable.  We weren’t a family with a lot of physical affection growing up, so it seems extra poignant now.  Time softens and widens us, doesn’t it? Dad feels like his body is a prison and I long to see him soar free. But of course it hurts like crazy to think of letting him go.

I need some lightheartedness today. We’ve all been in a funk after a Very Long Flu and the news about Grandpa and the coming of muddy March, which is almost more than my weak constitution (weather-wise) can bear.

So I’m going to post photos of my children (and their classmates), taken by their cousin Veronica at school.




Speaking of children. We’ve got some tough things going on here with growing up and yesterday I spent the day in town with Bryant. Occasionally we all need a break from the grind of life–maybe especially when we’re 13.  We ate lunch at The Chopped Leaf (it’s new to Dawson Creek) and went grocery shopping and finished out the day at Starbucks. He didn’t want me to take a selfie (or technically”usie”…that’s actually a thing) of us with our lunch, but he let me snap a coolish-for-me shot of him at Starbucks with his mocha and their very Starbucks-ish wall mosaic behind him. (Not that I know much about Starbucks.  I don’t go there much and it’s relatively new to our town too.) When we got home,  I wrote up a goodish-for-me description of teenage life…and unfurling personalities…and becoming…and I posted it on facebook with the picture of him.  Knowing the touchy nature of teenagers, I posted it and then quickly went to okay it with him.  What I’d written was okay, but there was absolutely no way that I was allowed to post the picture.  None, zip, zero. I didn’t even plead very long, deleted the whole thing, nursed my wounded heart, and thought wryly to myself that that in a nutshell is what life with teens is like, that delicate balance between making them face reality and suck it up and grow strong–and the need to respect them as people with big feelings and preferences and deep longings for identity and power. Ok….I sound like I’m trying to be a therapist here and I’m not a very good one.

This is a quote from Alec the other day, “Mom, DON’T let Dad become a grumpy, conservative old bishop.”

Dan isn’t a bishop and doesn’t hope to be one.  And grumpy is not a word that would ever describe him.

But I take these warnings to heart.

I have to add when it comes to teenagers that it is just wonderful to come home after being gone for over a week to a clean house and a baked potato dish in the fridge for Sunday dinner and little children bathed and people relatively sane and happy.  A big, big shout out to Victoria.  She did it with the help of her cousin Hannah–and I know the big boys and other kids pitched in too.  She runs a house better than I do.  Sorry to brag.  She has her limitations too, of course.  But I’m so thankful for her.

My brother Kevin’s funeral was 8 years ago this past Monday.  He died on the 7th of March and I think his funeral was exactly a week later.  I miss him.❤ He seems closer lately, somehow.

kevin p

This morning my neighbor Linda Funk was here for coffee and I told her I’m fasting today and would try to especially remember her brother in law who’s so sick with cancer in prayer-especially when I got hunger pangs.  Then I felt bad because Jesus talks about not letting other people know you’re fasting and going on with life as usual.  They have their reward on earth, those people who want to look righteous. Anyway.  At lunch time I was writing about Dad being sick and wanting to get better and also wanting to go home to Jesus. And I was hungry and thought about this rye bread I got for 50 percent off at No Frills.  I got hungry enough that I thought maybe God would be gentle with me breaking my fast because my Dad is dying and so I ate two slices with lots of butter and cream cheese.  My weakness is very strong today.

I thought I had so much to write today. Then I wrote about Dad on caringbridge.  And a little of this and that here.  And now I’ve already run out of all the excellent things that were pounding on my brain and I’m remembering the messy fridges, the tomato seeds that need to be started, and the lunch table that isn’t cleared yet.



How I Found a Remedy for SAD

I share a guest post for you today, a treat from a girl named Luci-spelled-with-an-i…just like mine.  The reason for the i is because her full name is Lucinda…just like mine.  Often when I read her blog, I feel the strangest rush of kinship and I think I have a twin-a pretty, younger twin-who lives in Wisconsin.  She is a twin who writes oftener and more articulately than me. But she is a small-church Mennonite like me.  Like me, she cares too much and thinks too much sometimes.  And in February she is often SAD.  We have our differences too, of course. 

But this isn’t about Luci and Luci.  It’s about a guest post by Lucinda Miller, about wishing you could swear and nursing home singing and  joy.

Luci in Wisconsin writes:

Some peculiar malady often falls across me in February. Dreary skies stretch on to dreary skies. The weather makes me sneeze. And snow lies on the ground, all crunchy and crusted and dirty, its December sparkle long gone.

Around this time of year, my bed grows strangely comfortable–so much so that I have trouble getting out of it in the mornings. Life takes on a gray tint like the surface of the snow outside and, with the panicky feeling that if I stop moving I will melt into a muddy puddle, I pack my time with activities and tasks that absolutely must be done.

I used to call this malady the winter blues until just this winter when a friend clued me in to the fact that its proper name is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

SAD. Sure, that’s fitting. While I doubt my feelings of listlessness are prolonged enough or immobilizing enough to be classified as medical depression, there is no doubt the seasons affect me.


Last Sunday, I woke up SAD. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep and my head held tired at its back. I decorated Valentine’s cookies for the carry-in at church and, when the decorating took twice as long as planned, grew grouchy enough to swear. There are times when I wish my conscience allowed me that–not actually to take the Lord’s name in vain, but a few short and effective four-letter words. It would be a great satisfaction.

But I rushed around and managed, without swearing, to get ready on time and out to my  car.

And my steering wheel was locked.

I sat in the bitter below zero cold; pushing, turning, jamming my key into the steering column; little flecks of yellow leather from my gloves grinding off onto the key ring because I was  trying so hard. Nothing happened. That steering wheel was locked up tight. Maybe it had frozen.

I wanted to cry.

I went with my brother to church and walked in late with tears just below the surface.

After church and after the carry-in meal in the basement, while the others talked and cleaned up dishes, I snuck away to the baby room. I curled up on one of the toddler-sized crib bunks, made with slatted sides that slid up and down to keep the baby inside, and tried to take a cat nap. And lying there, staring at nothing in the dimness, not the curtains, not the bright sheeted cribs, not the toys overflowing their tote or the wooden rocking chair, I saw only my unhappiness, my deep tired.

“I figured out that you might be religious,” a non-Christian friend told me recently, “but your everyday life is just as stress-filled as mine.” Her words bothered me quite a bit. I worried that it meant I had been a bad witness, that I had portrayed nothing to her but words and emptiness, that my relationship with Jesus was nothing but ritual and she could tell it. That worry became part of my SAD week, my failure as a Christian, my lack of a devotional life lately.

I stared at the curtain empty and prayed that God would give me joy again.

And then it was time for church people to climb into vehicles and drive uptown to sing at the nursing home, and I forgot about my prayer.

I forgot myself in trying to make the old people happy. I watched their sad sleepy faces–the lady with the neck brace, Norma with the bright smile and stiff arm, the mumblers and the nodders and the sleepers–and put my whole spirit into the words and the music. Smiling, trying to wake up the sleeping ones, shaking hands afterwards down the long row of tired faces. Theirs is a permanent SAD, I think, caught in the longest season of winter.

When it was over I felt as though I had been taken from my body for a while, a liberating sensation.

At home, I went upstairs, changed into pajamas, and napped.

When I woke, I felt…joy.

I lay in bed marveling at it. It was the old joy, the genuine overflowing from God and in God that I can never imagine beforehand nor manufacture on my own. Heart like lightning bolts, if lightning bolts could be peaceful and gentle.

It had been so long since I had felt this way, and why now?

And then I remembered my prayer.

Truly God is good. He’s never failed a prayer of mine yet.

Oh, and by the way, the locked steering wheel that caused me grief? Turns out I had been using the wrong key. My brother’s looks almost the same.




Lucinda J. Miller writes from Rusk County, Wisconsin, where she lives with her parents and siblings on a small dairy farm and teaches the tiny school held in the basement of the Mennonite church just down the road. She is learning, little by little, how to put to practice Christ’s words: “Abide in me,” and finding the joy that comes with that. Lucinda blogs at Properties of Light and would love to hear from you there.


If you’re looking for some spice

It’s just me here in the quiet house again this afternoon.  Because I function best with the pressure of have-to dangling over my head, these quiet days (though I love them) have a way of making me feel a little lost and alone.  In the busiest years of our lives, I got used to learning to ignore the things I wished I could get to and learned that life actually goes on with a messy pantry and an unpainted basement.  Now the day has come when I should be attacking all those things with Force and Vigor.  But I don’t have the heart, somehow.

(I DO clean my pantry.  It’s just that it needs to be cleaned again and there’s no excuse for not doing it but lack of initiative.  Maybe tomorrow.)

Of course now there should also be lots of time to pursue writing.  But guess what? Lack of initiative.  Also: 1) Too many blogs out there already 2) More questions than answers about how to have a happy family 3) I feel boring lately.

Since I feel kind of blah today, I thought I could share some happy stuff with you from others.

Two wonderful foods that I’ve learned to love in the past year are:

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Pots de Crème.

They are both courtesy of Ree Drummond, the famous Pioneer Woman.  The soup was one my sister ate at her sister-in-law Pearl’s place in Raymond, Alberta.  She came home and told me about it and one day she wanted me to message Pearl on facebook for the recipe.  Naturally I tried it too.  Listen to Ms. Drummond.   The toppings really are what make the soup.  Try them all! At once! That’s what I do.  The only thing I do differently than the recipe?   I have no clue what Rotel tomatoes are, so I just use diced canned tomatoes and a can of green chilies.  And I just use bouillon instead of chicken broth.  (Do you know how many times in my life I have looked up how to spell chicken bouillon?  The other day I tried to memorize it, but had to look it up again just now.  My mind is not as sharp as it was in grade 8.  Spelling was always one of my favorite subjects in school.) We also eat this soup with corn chips (the little Frito type are best, but regular taco chips are fine too) instead of corn tortillas.  The crunch adds a lot.

The fancy pots de crème?  Pronounce it Poh da Krehm.  And make your helpings tiny. It is very rich.  Our niece Hannah is living with us this year and she introduced us to this delectable, indulgent dessert that has raw eggs in it.

And listen to Hoziana if you don’t do anything else today.  Be transported into heavenly realms.  And read the words too.

Here’s another one.

There are days when I think God made a mistake when He made me with white skin and started me out in a Mennonite community. 🙂

I’ve been talking to God about purpose and what He has for me in this stage of life.  Foster parenting? Volunteering somewhere?  Just catching up after the years of operating in the pressure of the urgent?

Soon the children will burst through the door and I won’t be wondering about what I want to be when I’m mature.

Here’s a picture of Monday morning’s dish stack, a testament to good food and new friends the night before.  We even ate with paper plates, but that didn’t take care of the reality of mountains of dishes.  Those are the kinds of dish stacks that make me happy, though.  A sticky crockpot that held taco dip, cheesecake pans, popcorn bowls. Bryant started them before school and I finished them after the children left.


I’m reading a good book called Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp:  People in need of change helping people in need of change.  I love that.  I really want to help and listen and give good advice, but my own neediness often screams loudly and I feel inadequate.

Thanks for reading this.