start off. a proverbial poem for parents.

start off with

the only thing more awkward than a classroom full of middle schoolers

is a classroom full of their parents.

knees knocking

under squashed desks

anxious feelings of their own,

ancient and sometimes tragic inadequacies clashing

with the hopeful success and aspirations of their goofy, lanky, gawkish kids.

back to school.

meet the teacher.

who stands before us and says his oldest–a preschooler–started school today, too.


this teacher-parent says,

he knows how we must feel.


he asks

does it ever get better?

do the tears ever separate from the release?

and I shake my head.


the release never gets better.

never an ease about letting a child go.

no matter how big and brawny

solid and sure

he becomes.

all that love

and time

and reddened droplets of fervent prayers

may grow lonely

or transform into

the springtime of another generation

trained up

but never released

from the prayers of those from whom they turn.

 “Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

~Proverbs 22:6~


Pursue the wonder

I have the back-to-school crazies.

If you have school-aged kids, you might know what I’m talking about.

The noise of commercials, piles of junk adds, and onslaught of school-bus-yellow stuff in the front aisles of every grocery, super store and department store I enter is all enough to careen me head first into the valley of distraught and fanatical mothers. You’d think after seven years of it, I’d have found a way to cope.

But I haven’t.

Year after year, I fail miserably at deflecting the gimmies and I-wannas, feeling like a loser mom if I can’t (or just plain won’t) buy my kid a new backback when their one from last year is barely broken in; or that I recycle school supplies; or that I don’t buy all the latest-and-greatest locker outfitting trinkets from the teen catalogs barging into my home.

Yet I want to be different. I want to be content. I want to be at peace with the conservative decisions I make, and I want to leave a legacy of contentment to my kids, teaching them to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Because after school is said and done, life isn’t about what’s in your locker or on your back. It’s about making the most out of what you have; about leaning on God and not over laptops; about being joyful in all circumstances, even when your off-label jeans hang wrong in all the wrong places.

But the pressure lurks.



And I feel the knot of wanna-gimmie-need-it-now twisting inside.

Until I make myself stop and listen and wait for the One who tells me to be still. Waiting long enough, standing still in one place, the goodness–the plenty–comes into focus. And I realize, at once ashamed and relieved, that I am blessed; that my kids have enough if they have a soft place to lay their head and a mama to hold them at night; that the sound of a trumpet vine is louder than any gotta-have commercial ever made, and a butterfly’s wings on our back patio is enough to silence the incessant, materialistic madness.

It’s hard to be different in a world that screams at us to all be alike.

But in that difference lies true contentment.

How about you?

Where do you find contentment during this crazy time of year? How do you avoid  or tune out the suffocating thrust of materialism, and how do you find and rest in God?

Here are a few pictures Middle Son and I took on the back patio this week. Consider the lillies . . . pursue the wonder . . . and the truth that God and His grace are enough.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
       that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~Psalm 90:14




“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough . . . Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith . . .” ~I Timothy 6:6-8. 11-12 (The Message)

*Also posted this today over at Chatting at the Sky’s Tuesdays Unwrapped–a great place to find joy in the simple things.