Once upon a time, a little girl thought life somewhere as natural and wild as her oddly curled hair would make her happy.


So she explored barefoot and hatless, feeling all that she could feel from the Louisiana sun hot on the top of her head, the sun and forests and pastures of Germany warm around her body, to some Ohio mud cold and slimy between her toes, to Virginia and Carolina and all the way to Montana.

DSC_9729-11.jpgBut still she wanted more.

Someone to explore with would make her happy, she thought.

DSC_9732-14So she married a man from Appalachia who was dark and ruddy, like an American gypsy.

DSC_9730-12He moved her all around like one too, loved her sweetly, and gave her blue-eyed baby girls, and she loved them and all the new places they would go.

But even together, still she wanted more.

DSC_9734-16So she prayed and searched for some brown-eyed boys, and the ones she found didn’t come home with her but two perfect ones did.

And she named them and loved them, but still…

DSC_9741-23she just had to have more.

It was like hunger, constantly whetted, but never filled.





more of something.

DSC_9743-25It wasn’t more land, more house, more critters, more people, more food, more skinny, more coffee, more time, more wild, more beautiful, more need, more calm.

DSC_9745-27She only had more,

when she had enough.

DSC_9744-26The day she realized she has enough

laid her flat and curled her tight and made her cry like something new was being born from a place deeper than her heart, mind, or gut knew was even there.

She has enough, and she is blessed among women for it.



His Birthday and Her

When my daughters had their birthdays just four short days apart last May, I remembered like I do once a year every year, vividly, the day they were born.

I remember the feelings, the pain, the dark room, my husband’s presence, the mystery, the profound knowledge that very soon our lives would never be the same. I remember the blood, the dizzy, the terrifying pain, and a warm little person on my bare chest. I remember the exhaustion, selfishness that was being shredded from my skin as if my skin itself was being torn off, that moment the labor pains began in a process that might not end until that sticky selfishness is all gone or until I die, and I suspect the latter will come first.

I remember the sunshine, our family, our slightly larger family, the spring irises and peonies in bloom, old house smells and the new cribs bought with love by my in-laws. Waiting for sunrise, rocking to the warmth of a life in my arms, packing lunch for a weary husband before the sun showed itself, pulling covers over my head with her cry and crying just as hard as she was because all that pushing and carrying and stripping off of self is hard on a body.

Two birthdays out of the year I remember all of that and I smile. My girls are tall, beautiful, happy, smart, and they both want to take communion at church now because they believe that Jesus is real and that His shed blood gives them new life.


And then there’s that day in November. I remember that birth just as well as the other two, but differently. I don’t think of blood or pain, no dizzy, no black vortex of labor and babies coming out with joy and the hardest physical work of my life. I just remember the black smartphone, ringing early and me waking to my husband’s voice. Walking into the bathroom from our bed and not able to even see the light because I knew that we had been given a son.


I remember waiting, half hope, half terror, and waiting and waiting and waiting some more. Waiting as my husband talked on the phone to the person unexpectedly brokering this gift, waiting on the longest mile car-ride in the world, waiting in the elevator, waiting behind the nurses station. I twisted back and forth in my spinning chair and tried to hold on to at least one of the million thoughts swirling around in my head like glitter in a water globe. My husband sat still with his jaw set but his eyes just barely shined with hope.

And I will never, ever forget walking into a barely-lit hospital room to meet her. I sat by her bed, close to her face, with my back turned to the door. She was beautiful like all women are after they’ve given birth. She was a fellow mother, and she wanted to do right by her son. There was a look of certainty, pure beauty, and pain on her face all at the same time.

And so she signed some papers, and I spent the next day with our new baby boy. We named him Jonathan after the courageous, God-loving man in the Bible, and Haven, after his daddy and his daddy’s daddy and his daddy’s daddy’s daddy’s uncle.

Three years later, I think of her every so often, but especially on the day she gave birth to my son. I pray that one day we can meet, just one more time, so I can thank her and tell her how much we love her.

She gave my family the greatest gift one human can give to another- the gift of a life. And every birthday of his I get to remember, and the thought of him, and of her, makes me bow my head a little, and smile.

When You Want to Do This Right

When there is a planner with days scribbled on and scratched out and circled

And something to go in the oven, and stirred on the stove, bought at the grocery store, a list to be completed,


A suburban, full plus one, to drive to school in the gray and snow, a little one in the front seat blinking hard to keep the tears in,

Only an already-gone moment to discern whether to speak, or be quiet and listen


To do or to simply be available.


When the shoe shelf turns into a heap of strings and colors, all different sizes jumbled into one

And time moves closer to later than you want it to be

A kitchen crowded with five humans and a dog, each one with stories from a day with people

Only one supper’s length to share it all in words and smiles


To give, with hope that God really will provide what you need.


When you just want to do this right


And nice words from days already gone spread thin and dry up, so you sip at your coffee and find something to tidy but what you really want to do is tidy your soul, but you can’t, so you want to escape it all instead and buy a ticket to Tahiti.

You read Nehamiah, “the joy of the LORD is your strength“, and realize that the sorrows of the world are not your strength- who knew?

And sing “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” as loud as you can over the toddler boys dumping and stuttering and laughing and needing.


When you just want to do this thing right


And no one walks in your front door to tell you, with authority, that, in fact, you are.


Take heart, dear sister or brother, that we are not home yet.


And if anyone tells you that home is here and you can find it,

shut the door gently in their face.

And get back to circling, writing, cleaning, driving, speaking, cooking, listening, and loving.


For your strength does not lie in the filling the needs that crowd around you, not much unlike those chickens when they see you carrying that bucket of feed-


your strength lies in Yaweh- The LORD.


The joy of the LORD is your strength.

More Pictures, Real Quick

I don’t have anything to say (ha! Okay so I always have something to say…), but here are some pictures real quick before I pick up my oldest girlie from school on this clear & cold Montana afternoon:

We flew in and out of Appalachia in a weekend. It had just rained inches before we got there and wasn’t too cold, so it felt more like Spring than almost Christmas.

This sweet little boy was the biggest reason we loaded us all up and sprinted back and forth like crazy people.  He was born last month and we had to see him!

My brother-in-law graciously took several hours off of studying for exams so we could crash their house and cuddle with the new baby.

Punkersnoodle here helped feed the cows.

He also whacked the flight attendant on the rear when she parked the beverage cart beside our seat and turned to serve drinks.

My oldest helped Papa feed the calves.

We got to see family.

And more family (which is turning into… more… and more family).

There was time to play in the mud a bit and it felt good to sit in Doc’s old Xterra (with a not-so-big lift anymore).

He dug out a Mongolian garb that someone made for him in Mongolia (who goes to Mongolia anyway?) and after wearing it for an hour, I’m ready to move there.

And can I brag on my middle child a bit? She took this picture (above) and I think it’s a great composition! Even if the subject does look a little bit ridiculous…

We pulled off the road at the corner of Callaway and Bethlehem because there’s this old building I’ve eyeballed for the past eight years that we’ve driven by it, and I finally got a picture.

Okay so maybe I had plenty to say.

If I didn’t have to drive over to the school now to pick up my oldest, you’d be subjected to even more =) But my Middle Child is mixing water and milk and old flower stems she carried in from the front yard in the sink as we speak… so…. it’s time for me to go be responsible for a little while and act like I’m in charge….

Not Going It Alone Anymore

When you’re small enough to need somebody to hold your hand for a good while still, but there’s no one to do it anymore, you either make yourself go it alone, or you fall apart where you are and never, ever move forward.

Here’s someone who made it through alright and can still smile after it all over half a century later.

He reunited with his siblings and some cousins for the first time in decades last weekend.

Dad and his youngest brother have the same shape eyeglasses and both shift their weight from foot to foot when they’re talking. Dad’s sister gave everyone instructions during pictures because while she’s the smallest by inches and inches, she’s still the oldest, and they all listened because there are some things that miles and years and lost childhoods can’t do apart.

My cousin put together a beautiful family tree and a book full of documents and photos, most of them I didn’t even know existed. I saw how the War morphed Dad’s family from midwest farmers into world-traveled young men who picked up wives somewhere else, and after all that they had seen and been through, they never could quite go back home to the farm.

Dad jumped almost straight from the orphanage to the military, and I grew up moving. I was never tied to a town on the map or the names of grandparents to give me a place; but even so, I never felt like I “belonged” in Louisiana, or Germany, or even Ohio, although I lived there the longest. I didn’t wish I belonged because I didn’t know any better, I just knew that I didn’t.

By contrast, my husband was born and raised in the same part of Virginia that his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc, etc, etc, were born and raised in and so his moving away after high school was a big deal. I fell in love with all of his family when we got married, he seemed related to absolutely everybody there, and I think in retrospect it was because he belonged somewhere like I didn’t, and all of the sudden I saw what I had been missing and was so glad for him to not know what it was like to go it alone.

But after spending ten hours last weekend in a house with a bunch of people that had common parents and grandparents, and passing photos of family cemeteries in Middle Of Nowhere, South Dakota that held the life stories of people with the last name I was born to; I felt, for the first time in years, like I actually belonged somewhere. Like I could someday drive into this little town in South Dakota and tell them I’m a Will, just like my husband can do in certain towns in Virginia, and be accepted because I’m really family and my great-great grandparents moved here, raised more Wills here, and died here and now their name is left on granite and it’s a name I’ve had, too.

There have been Wills that were birthed and Wills that were adopted, but Wills all the same. Now they hold down almost all four corners of this country. We had folks in from California, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Florida, Ohio and Michigan. I had to leave after just a day but they were just getting the party started and it was wonderful to watch.

I left with my Baby Dinosaur on my lap on the plane, and a picture of my dad and his brothers in a row on the couch, completely unaware how they jutted their chins out just the same while they concentrated on their camera screens. I have a warm memory of the food everyone brought, and the laughter and shared memories between siblings and cousins after so many years of going it alone. It’s not that way for him anymore, I was glad to realize. And that’s a privilege that I’m glad I can share in.

The Nice Thing About Living Near Things

Is that you get to show off cool things like a local. Because you are one.Even if you have only lived there for a few months!

My in-laws came to town and we all drove around Yellowstone over the weekend. It was nice to see them again and have an excuse to leave town for a few days.

If you haven’t been, I’m offering you a free place to stay so you can go visit (if you’ll take me and the munchkins along, that is). Yellowstone has some wild stuff that every American needs to see.

Deeda and the girls found some cuddly little animals to play with. Who knew?

I got a gloriously large latte every morning on our way out of West Yellowstone and we had the luxury of free time to just stop and watch anything interesting we happened to see.
What a wild place! You’ll be driving happily along through mountains and herds of huge animals, you’ll see beautiful rivers and thousands of acres of pine forests, then you’ll come around a bend and see something totally random like this (the above photo, that is).

Papa took a liking to my oldest Girlie’s doll. She let him carry it around for a while :)

We packed sandwiches in a cooler and even got to do a little adventuring.

My oldest girlie is on a boardwalk over some hot springs. There’s no way to describe the bizarreness of this place. It’s no wonder folks back east didn’t believe the stories of Yellowstone from the earliest white explorers.

No grizzlies but we did see a huge black bear.

It was the first time I’ve seen Old Faithful and it made me cry.

But I’ll venture that I’m not the first person who felt that way the first time they saw it :)

We saw so many places where water boiled up over the ground from who-knows-where. In some places it made pools like this one.

In other places it oozed through the dirt and the wind blew its clouds of sulphur-steam over the boardwalks.And in other places, the water doesn’t move, it just turns colors.

I like the democracy of being in a national park.

I dislike the magnificent lenses half the people there whip out and how it causes you, who were perfectly delighted with your nice SLR camera and handy little prime lens, to feel like yours is all of the sudden too, too small.

I love how visiting national parks is a good excuse to bundle your kids and the people that you love into one vehicle together and get into some beautiful creation.

Home Again, Home Again

When Doc asked me to marry him, it was understood that the package included moving with him to Virginia and leaving Dayton behind for a (long) while.

I remember the first time I went back home after I married Doc- I missed it.

And the whole time I was there visiting, I pined for my new home.

How confusing!

But I think anyone who has grown up and established their home where their husband is feels the same way the first time or two they go back home.

Nothing has changed and everything has changed. Magical evening light still pours through the kitchen window next to the back door where dogs are always scratching their paws on the metal to be let inside.

Same sounds, different dogs.

Same light, different blonde braids, same squeaking stairs as different little girls run up as fast as they can holding the same wobbling handrail, different carpet, and it feels nice under my feet.

We still play in the backyard, Bop still shoots the basketball just like she did when time was too opaque for four girls to understand that the only Present we knew was just a Chapter in a life that had so many more Chapters ahead.

It’s funny how time moves, isn’t it?

It has a way of getting you lost in it, especially when you’re very young.

Leaving home to visit home is a happy time, life experience having taught you by now that it’s only a Chapter, full of stories of the past.

The juxtaposition of your new family invading that old space is what throws you. Is what keeps you leaving home to come back home, missing home, going back home.

How confusing!

It’s still confusing.

My Sisters

Sisters are wonderful.

You can’t imagine sleeping by yourself at night without the sounds of their breathing in the bed next to you when you’re little, you wish you could own just one freaking piece of clothing that none of your sisters would borrow without asking when you’re a teenager, and you would give her the shirt off your back in a heartbeat once you break twenty.

I didn’t want girls. I was supposed to have boys.

I was terrified and thrilled when I had my second girl.

They would adore each other and make each other cry.

They would laugh until their stomachs ached and storm angrily out of the room.

Their eyes would shine to watch the other succeed and would battle for attention and the upper hand.

I should know, I have a bunch of sisters and went through seasons of loving, adoring, idolizing, wishing we weren’t related, reconciling, missing, then loving, then adoring them again.

I don’t think there’s a picture of the four of us since the day I married Doc. That was almost seven years ago! We’re kind of scattered everywhere- one in Phoenix, one in Michigan, one in Ohio, and me in the South.  I miss them and I’m so proud of them.

I’ve picked up another sister along the way-

She’s the pretty one in the white dress (and I stole the photo from my MIL’s facebook page… Thanks Deeda!).  I’m the first one she’s ever had but I’ve never busted her chin, thank goodness.

Anyway, seeing these pictures of my girlies got me all sentimental. I had to share.

I love my sisters.

So, so much!