This morning I finally said it out loud, the words of heresy I didn’t know were in me, words torn from my heart of hearts.

I am tired of being a puppet in a story I don’t understand. I am tired of explaining for God.

I felt the words scream out from me, felt the ripples shudder across the gray-green barren land for miles, though I said them soft and broken at my kitchen table.

Some tears are gentle and heal the heart. Some scald and sear and rip as they fall. My only sister, oh my sister… her miracle baby given and taken away. Why did He do that?

Please do not stop being Good just because I doubt you.


Move me closer to the Child

The past year has taught me to be shy of newborn hope, though I hold it still against the heart. I stand near the holy Baby with my drum, and throb to Him my pain and my anger as worship. This is my Christmas offering.


Confession: I was up so late last night, three hundred and forty-two miles from home, that my brain is buzzing and my husband said to me “Are our phones goofing up? You sent me a text that apparently came in at x:xx. Were you really texting at that hour?”

And I said “Yes.”

In the strictest sense of the word it was no longer “last night” but we are not discussing that in this forum.

scarves on us

I want to stand up and say what the Lord Jesus did for me in the last week. It is so complex a sequence I can only get a hold of it in bullet points.

  • Several weeks ago, my mom asked if I would like to join in a surprise visit to my sister in Virginia for her 30th birthday. Joy! We got it all planned… how long we’d be gone, when we’d leave, who would go along.
  • Three days before departure, Jesus gave us an answer to prayer: a foster son. Yes, yes, absolutely yes!!
  • Could I still swing the weekend plans? Should I give them up? We decided to hold them with an open hand and see what turned out.
  • As K (our foster son) adjusted and adapted, Ryan said “I really think I can do this. Go ahead and plan to go. You’ll have Kelly; I’ll have the boys.”
  • Then we found out that K’s court date was set for half an hour after our estimated time of departure. I told my mom I wanted to stay for it if she was game—could we leave an hour later than planned? She was more than gracious, and we went to court.
  • In the hallway outside the courtroom, we found out that a kinship option had suddenly materialized and K was going to leave us. That day.
  • And then I said, “Oh thank you Jesus thank you.” That I got to meet this small person and love on him for three days. That I didn’t cancel my weekend plans and miss the trip to Virginia by one hour. Most of all, that I didn’t leave before the court date, and miss the chance to say goodbye to a child I thought we’d have for weeks and weeks.

When I release a foster child I think how lucky I was to meet him. All the training and waiting seems so worth it because in this short slice of time I became part of an amazing person’s life—I got to hold him and love him and find out his favorite things and give him one toy to keep and kiss him and make him giggle and pray over his sleeping head.

And the trip?

To die for.

My mom, my sister, my daughter. I am most blessed.

the four of us

kelly and jean

kelly and i

There are several things I will never understand:

  • How three people can laugh so much alike, over and over again: our forms bent double and no sound except desperate gasps for air.
  • How you can talk and talk and talk all weekend and still have to stay up till the wee hours of the last night, to get it all said.
  • How there can be so much beauty and color in the world.


  • How Jesus can answer my child’s earnest wish for “a balloon that goes up without me running.” She clutched her dollar and begged, as we drove the six hours and as we walked the pedestrian mall. “Honey, I’m sure we will find one!” I said over and over. We did, in Hallmark—and the white-haired shop owner made her laugh and played pranks with her and taught her math facts and then—gave her the gift of helium, for free.

kelly with balloon

This right here was the low point:

kelly with hydrant

Hot, tired, waiting, missing Daddy. We sat on the street because in Kelly’s emotional condition I could not bring myself to navigate the toy store where my mom and sis were shopping.

lying in the street

We sat there like the homeless and the poor, wishing and fearing that someone would come drop money in our bag. To cheer ourselves up we passed the time acting.



sad – (she can do the suffering sheep look better than anyone I know)




There is a final thing I do not understand:

  • How we could have agonized in this city, a year and a half ago, with my sister so weak we thought we might lose her. Stem cell transplant; and a woman so drained she had to start all over again. Learn to eat, to laugh, to run, to care for herself. Now she stays up late with us and she eats what she wants. She sasses me back and she runs a lap around the hotel and she dresses cute and she finalizes plans to move to Israel in January. And when we visit the hospital room where she lay, so that we can draw that painful circle closed, she is strong–

jean in UVA

and she walks out on her own two feet.

walking out of uva

I want to stand up and say what the Lord Jesus did for me in the last week.


Confession: I’ve never met so many beautiful, polite, and tastefully-dressed people in my life.

Charlottesville is a lovely town.

downtown mall 1

This is me and me mum having caramel Café Au Lait on the Downtown Mall. I called it caffe ow late, but the barista never blinked.

me and mom

In my town I say sir and ma’am when the need arises, but these guys sneak it into a corner of every sentence. My sentences don’t even have that many corners. Delightful.

They walk slower here, speak softer; their manners are pleasant and gentle and modulated. The men wear dress shirts everywhere, the women such charming spring dresses. I think it sweet of them to collect so many of my favorite things into one adorable area, pave it with brick, pop up umbrellas, and tumble cafés and coffee shops into the street. It’s clean and quiet, warm and green.

downtown mall 2

My sis is out of the hospital now, and two doors down from us in a suite. We’re grilling chicken on the deck tonight. I’m going to wear my souvenir—a turquoise scarf wrapped gently around my shoulders by the lady who sold it to me on the street.


I’m eating grits and soaking up sunshine, wearing sandals or less on my feet. So tell me–why don’t I live farther south?

Out and about

You’ll never guess where I am right now.

me n my sis

me n my sis

Yes ma’am. Down Virginia way.

The unbelievable mercy of Jesus, that’s what I call it—

  • That she is well enough to sit up, to eat fried chicken, to laugh at my jokes.
  • That I was provided with a complimentary ride to Virginia on Monday, and a complimentary ride home on Thursday.
  • That church women offered to help babysit my children before I ever made plans to leave.
  • That my husband—my guy Rye—he is willing to fill in; to comb hair and shuttle to school; to attend the meetings I miss; to bake the freezer pizzas; to care for our three children.
  • That my mom offered me half of her beautiful private suite. She also shot this picture, which some would take as an explanation of why it’s so blurry, but don’t tell her I said so… Oh hi mom. You are reading this? Yes, I was just telling them of your generosity. #themovie late last night was awesome.
  • That I am here.

Oh, bless Jesus. I am allowed to be here.

Light brown hair

Her world is receding, shrinking into a pale aqua cube with bright lights, lots of cords, an IV drip for every need, and a trio of inhabitants: herself, her husband, and her mother. The hospital staff are waiters and butlers, serving IV’s, checking the cords, and bowing themselves out.

She is receding too. Like a babe in arms she sleeps away her days, needs to burp, eats tiny bites of soft food off a spoon held to her lips, takes trembling steps.

My only sister oh my sister.

IMG_6994She is an angel of wishes, hands clasped, patient face. I am a loving angel–except angel. My magic is gone with my wings; shorn of power to shield.

I never liked it that her hair was lighter than mine, that she was the Mary with golden and I the Laura with brown. No one serenades plain brown hair. Except once when we were small I found in a folk book a song called How I Long for Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair. I hated that, then.

Now she has none.

And I would give—oh worlds


Jesus, my sister.