River thoughts.


It was forty degrees and we were baking, so I took Solo and Isaac to the river.

Don’t forget this, I whispered to myself.

The river was warm, shallow, and full of algae in the late hot season. I trusted in our well developed immune systems. Flowers from nearby trees floated along, and the only other people there were a bunch of kids; the children of parents who work at the guesthouses along the river.

I was there with my boys, who took turns curling into me while I sat on the floor of the river. Every so often I climbed the bank and ran over to the garden to move the sprinklers. (I burned the bottoms of my feet on the hot pavement, not discovering this until later when I found it hard to walk.)

The river, the boys. Isaac attempting to skip rocks. Solo floating and diving down. These are the stories we will tell about our lives. I drive the chariot through town, we walk along swaying bridges. A man walks along the river with a snorkel mask and a spear gun, looking for his dinner.

Back at home, I went to the afternoon market and picked up some chopped pumpkin and made what we call Pumpkin The Egg, after a Thai menu board we saw ages ago. I made carrot juice and we were all tired after too much sun. Isaac lost his first tooth. After dinner, Solo practiced trumpet with Chinua and I practiced my neglected clarinet. Isaac tried to play the clarinet for a while, he’s fascinated with it.

We read together and then prayed for our friends, near and far. Every single thing we did was interrupted. Every thing I planned was edited with some other need. My teenagers are going through hard times. (Not Leafy! Ah, hormones come for all.)

Every time I tried to read or pray, Isaac would suddenly have a thought and HAVE to share it and it drove me crazy. Solo had a rough day in many ways.

But the river, the long hot afternoon, reminiscent of so many hot season afternoons through the years, the little tiny beautiful moments. The sun finally bright again after the smoke. The hope of rain. Change on the horizon. It is such a beautiful life, more intense with joy because it is so fleeting.

One night in December.


Last night was dinner and Bible circle at my house. I made bread, starting it in the morning. Prepared veggie broth the day before. I make it in big batches and freeze it, for our gut and immune health. Soup, bread, salad. It feels like a December meal, though it hasn’t gone much lower than 18 degrees Celcius here this year. (For us it feels cold.)

My long time friend Heidi arrived, and we talked as I cooked, catching up with life from the past thirteen years or so. She sat on the curb of my outdoor kitchen, while I danced around the kitchen making the meal. I forgot to get her a chair, but I remembered a cup of tea. Then other friends trickled in, and they brought the dishes and food to the table while I finished dressing the salad. It was a collection of friends who made a beautiful evening. A new friend that we just met on Monday. An Israeli friend who has been here for a few months, and brings delight to my soul whenever he’s around. My dear friend Scion, who is like family. Christy and the girls. Rowan Tree of my heart. And two other new friends who are strong and smart and caring women.

Kai is home for Christmas, so I pulled him in for a minute and showed him off. “This is my oldest son. He is wonderful and I think he has grown another inch.” Then I let him go because he can’t really do crowds. Leafy dodged in and out, wearing headphones. Kenya stuck around for the whole evening, sitting with her best friend, Tayna. They sit stuck together on the couch, no need for space. Upstairs, the younger kids watched a show, and it seemed from the sounds from overhead, that occasionally they did circus acts. Or maybe just fell off the bed.

The talking piece was a stone, big enough to fill the palm, small enough that you could close your hand around it.

The verses were the ones at the end of John 3, where John the Baptist says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We read it in the NIV, the Message, and Scion read it for us in the Hawaiian Pidgin translation. Then we passed the stone and talked.

We talked about faith, certainty, and knowing. That faith comes when there is a lack of certainty, but there is also some knowing. Avraham said, “Yes, if someone came and offered something that he said was from God but was actually evil, you would know it, and you would say, “This is evil. Not for me.”

“Not for me” became a theme of the night then, one that made us laugh many times. I don’t want to forget this warm-lit night, the soup and bread and kind conversation, the tears or the laughter.

Sinking in

We’re in the wind up to a new year.

I love new years. I think I just love markers of any kind, but a new calendar year is certainly a good kind of marker.

I’m a bit repetitive. This year I just want joy. Wild joy.

One way to find joy is to sink into the joy that is here right now. To bat my eyelashes open and see.

I see last night. Sitting with the boys on Isaac’s bed, reading for Advent, with Isaac leaning on my shoulder. Praying for me, whispering, “I love you, Mama,” under his breath. I see raising a boy like Leafy. A broad-shouldered, kind and quirky boy.

A couple weeks ago, I needed to send them to a Christmas party with baking. Sometimes Leafy and Kenya board a bus (with a few other friends) to go three hours away to Chiang Mai, for youth events. When they are there, they stay with the family Kai stays with. They eat dinner, go to a youth group evening, and get back on the bus the next morning. This is how we cobble things together for them.

Anyway, it happened on a Saturday because of the party, and baking was required, but I was exhausted because of our benefit concert the night before. So I said, “Okay, let’s do this,” with a rather obvious slump to my spine. And Leafy said, “Oh, I can make the cookies.” And proceeded to do so. Joy.

Or the other day, I was teaching a group of kids about writing, and one of them rather dreamily asked me, “Are you a genius?” He asks non sequiturs often.

“No,” I said. “That’s a whole other thing. I’m smart, though.”

And Leafy got offended. “Of course you are!” he said, very seriously.

Rare shining moments. Often, mothering is being overwhelmed by the pants you need to buy. (For me anyway, easily overwhelmed by things like this.) Breaking up fights. (Least favorite thing in the world. Why can’t people just be civil?) Inching forward with education.

And then there are the evenings where you sit and cuddle, where your kids stand up and help without being asked, when they offer kindnesses.

And this is wild joy. Almost as good as ice skating, roller coasters, or dancing under the sky. Love and joy and being together. I want more.