"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lo, the Winter Is Past

You know that feeling when you first come out of a cave? How that bright sunlight that didn’t seem so bright before but, in comparison to the darkness, almost hurts your eyes? And you know how after you’ve had an especially cold and snowy winter, it feels so good to see rain and green grass, and you dig out your Capri pants and sandals, and you know that the earth has tilted toward a new season?

I’ll never forget our first spring in Montana. We had just suffered through our first frigid, bleak winter in the North. Easter was in March that year, and nothing had bloomed yet…The day itself was overcast and brown, and as we drove home from church to our lonely newlywed dinner of processed ham, I swallowed back my tears. I knew that 2,000 miles away my parents were enjoying a warm, sunny day in Oklahoma, amidst pink azaleas and happy friends and life. I longed for life. It didn’t seem right to “celebrate” Jesus’ resurrection in such a miserable, dead setting.  I wondered, drearily, if Montana even had a spring. But as the weeks passed, I remember being so completely aware of every blade of grass turning bright green, of the world bending towards the sun, ever so gradually. I watched with wonder as everything came alive at last, and I knew that in the aftermath of a hard winter I had never loved spring more than I did that year.

A friend recently wrote on her blog that you can’t grasp hope unless you have fully experienced hopelessness. That’s exactly how I feel right now. The spring I feel in my heart is so full and blossoming, and I treasure every single bit of it because it is night and day from the sinking depression I felt a couple of months ago. Every time I open my mouth, I rejoice that my voice actually comes out. Every time I walk into our home, my heart is filled with gratitude that we have our house back, better and more beautiful than before.

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.” – Song of Solomon 2:11-13

My eyes are blinded by the daylight. I feel like dancing in fields of flowers. I fully understand the beauty of spring because I remember what it was like to feel the winter.


It starts when I’m still down the street, two roundabouts away. I can’t wait to see my girl, and I feel myself pushing the gas pedal down in anticipation. I never really know what I’m going to get…a bouncing ponytail and sparkling green eyes? Or maybe tears and a sigh of relief to be with Mom at last after an especially hard day? The days of the bouncing ponytail outweigh the ones with tears streaking down her freckled cheeks, though sometimes there is great weeping and gnashing of teeth because, “What’s for dinner? I’m STARVING!” ;-) I’ll take her any way I get her, and I always look forward to picking up my chatty companion, who’s full of quirks and stories and lively plans for the evening hours.

Ryan and I joke that the song “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” is a perfect representation of our daughter:

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Ryley?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!
How do you make her stay and listen to all you say?
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Ryley?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

She is eating us out of house and home. There was a day a few weeks ago that she literally ate half of a large pizza. When I cook, I have to plan for her to eat about double or triple what she used to. She’s not heavy at all; she’s just growing like a weed. She measured 5’ 2” at the museum, but we measured her at only 5’ at home. Either way, she’s destined to be tall.

“Daddy, I might be a big girl now, but there is still a little girl inside.”

Obviously, since she spent tonight flitting about in full dress-up, declaring herself queen of Ryleyland, bouncing in and out of the house, interrupting every conversation with a ceremonial entrance until I finally had to remind her that not everything is all about her. She laughed, agreed, and flitted off to another part of her kingdom.

The other day we stopped and bought a couple of doughnuts on our way to school. When I picked her up at the end of school, she said, “Oh, it was so funny…I was in the middle of math class, and I noticed I still had doughnut glaze on the top of my hand! And I thought to myself, ‘Oh, a little snack time for Ryley!’ and I licked it off!” ;-)

I couldn’t stop laughing. She cracks us up!



Her laugh is gorgeous; she laughs from her core, and there’s nothing better than hearing her find something funny. She has an amazing sense of humor right now, and Ryan especially likes to make her laugh.

I am constantly amazed at the clutter I find stuffed in my purse:

  • Acorns
  • Brochures to interesting landmarks
  • Coins she’s earned at Sunday School
  • Half-eaten poptarts or bagels
  • Doodads she’s won with a quarter in a vending machine
  • Napkins
  • A kazoo
  • Rainbow loom bracelets
  • Gum packets
  • Various earrings and necklaces
  • Her iPod

I asked her why she throws things in my purse, and she said it’s because she knows it’s a safe place to keep things when we’re out and about. I think I’d be honored if she did that forever. :-)

It’s not all fun and games. Ryley is a world-class arguer, and she will argue semantics until she’s blue in the face. That part of her comes from her daddy’s side of the family, and I’m not even joking. She’s probably the most stubborn person I know. And, if we give her the promise of a reward (we will stop for a doughnut if you are ready for school early), she thinks it’s owed to her automatically, regardless of whether or not she earns it. That has been a real struggle. She hears “promise” instead of “goal to work toward.”

Sometimes she gets what I call “stuck.” She will read the same book or series over and over, listen to the same song, watch the same movie. When she likes something (I mean really likes something) she goes whole hog. She becomes obsessed. Is “I Love Lucy” funny? Sure. But do we really need to have a six-hour marathon? Is the “Percy Jackson” series entertaining? Yes. But sometimes Mom and Dad need to ban the series for a few weeks so she’ll read something new and different. We’ve had to talk about the dangers of anything in excess – the importance of balance.

She can be utterly exhausting sometimes. She belts out “Let It Go” at the top of her lungs while pretending to be Elsa from “Frozen.” She talks incessantly, and the other day we made her take a time-out in her room just so she could rest her mouth and we could rest our ears. Tonight she has pulled four or five harmless April Fools’ Day pranks on us (in response to us pranking her this morning). We forget that she’s only 10… Her sense of humor and intellect are a few years ahead of her maturity level, and we need to let her be 10 while she’s 10. :-)


Her mind is constantly working, her body constantly moving, her mouth constantly making noise, and I just want her to sit still. But how do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you keep a wave upon the sand? :-)

Parenting is so much more complicated than I ever thought it would be, but it’s also so much more thrilling – the most amazing experience in the world. We love that little girl to pieces and are so incredibly thankful God entrusted her precious life to us.


Ryan turned 36 on Friday, and as part of his weekend celebration, he wanted to go snow-tubing! Ryley and I had never been before, and we had an absolute blast. It was definitely a different experience, a different crowd, and tons of fun!!







I know it’s crazy (us being in Colorado and all), but Ryley didn’t have snow boots (she routinely borrows mine), and none of us had a matching set of gloves. So we spent Friday night hopping from store to store trying to find snow gear on clearance during the last weekend in March. It was exhausting. You’d think gloves and boots would be easy to find, but no. We did find some, and you know what? It was warm enough in Keystone the next day (like 30 degrees?) that only Ryley wore the gloves! I even took my coat off after awhile, but that’s kind of typical of me anyway. ;-)





And just look at these mountains! Spring hasn’t quite hit them yet. So lovely and creamy and perfect!!! Untouched by human hands.

Happy birthday, Ryan! We had such a lovely weekend as a family.


I have started a new adventure as a copywriter for a Denver-based company that sells home products online. The timing of it was just perfect, and I am so grateful for the opportunity and experience I am getting! I applied for the position back in October and didn’t hear anything until February, but since we were dealing with home stuff and I couldn’t talk anyway, I hadn’t followed up and had actually forgotten I’d applied. So I was surprised and delighted to hear from them just as our lives were getting back to normal!

I am not dropping any other responsibilities at this time…just trying to squeeze in an extra 15-25 hours a week at home, writing about charming and attractive high-end vases and clocks and canisters and candleholders. I am LOVING it. I am learning so much.

So on that note, I’m off to do some writing, and I leave you with pictures of a perfect spring activity. It’s been so windy here recently; one of our aspen trees fell down yesterday. But it’s just right for kite-flying!





“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come!”