Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Easter (the day after) April 28, 2014

Filed under: Faith,History lessons — dayna @ 12:00 am

From 4/9/12:
It was the Monday after Easter. With the kitchen finally cleaned up and the lunch dishes stowed away, the girls and I snuggle into the recliner for pre-nap stories. Midway through a little Curious George, the doorbell rings.

I sigh myself up from the chair as the little girls beat me to the door. They peer through the window shutter before I can object.

Two men, one young and one older, stand at our front door.

Stinking solicitors, I think.

As a rule, we don’t give to or buy anything from the people all too frequently ringing our doorbell.

Confident in the safety of our new locked wrought iron security door, I swing the interior door wide.

We’re warmly greeted. Big surprise. The younger man starts talking, introducing himself and the older man. I wait for him to take a breath so I can politely turn them away.

And then I see the familiar logo on their clipboards and binders. I smile and open the security door to be able to make eye contact. The young man continues haltingly to tell me about the program he is in. I listen to him describe this focused program that I know is unlike any other in its intention and duration. This program that actually works.

Speaking more confidently now, he tells me in one glorious sentence how he is new and how he is becoming free.

Excusing myself, I call out to my  little monkeys to quit throwing rocks in the front yard, then turn back to him and grin and try to nod encouragingly.

He continues and tells me, noticeably humbled at the notion, how other people’s gifts have paid his way and that now he asks for this help for others.

I know it is worthy. A whisper. Give.

Moments later, as I write out a check, I ask them both about where they are in the program. They are mere months in, but miles away from where they were. I press for more details. They share humbly and openly about broken families back home and paths of wreckage becoming prayerfully restored. Somehow in the afternoon sun they seem glow just a little. They exude graceful rescue.

Tell them. Encourage them.

And as I hand over the check I look down a bit and gulp.

I tell them that I too am a life so very changed. That I’m constantly amazed and so unworthy of the way He keeps making something beautiful. They grin and breathe out praise. We’re all family now; talking about a treacherous path made solid and new. Of fresh hope and days brimming with wonder.

We talk a bit more about the goodness and their program and their up-coming transitions.

I marvel briefly at the sometimes surreal nature of the suburban dream that I’m now living: a house, a job, a marriage, two little ones, and one more on the way.  It’s bizarre in its normalcy and enormous in good after the muddy darkness from which I was rescued.

They have a future.

As I call in the little girls, we wish each other well. There are blessings and thanks and warm confidence in each others’ prayers.

I close the door and I know that this is Easter. Two walking miracles knocking on my very door.

I give because so many give to me.

Because He gave. Because He came. Because He died. Because He rose.

Because He lives even now.

It’s Easter every single day as He changes lives. As His resurrection makes them brand sparkling new.

dusk towards the light gathering pocket walk sunset







zoo flashback February 22, 2012

Filed under: History lessons,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Lately, fewer things have thrilled me more than observing my girls’ blossoming sister-friendship. Most of the time, they seem to honestly adore each other’s company.

I found myself grinning at this sweetly predictable picture from a trip to our local zoo last month.

And then, an echo in my mind. Childhood memories flooding back.

Sure enough, while visiting my mother recently, she obligingly dug up one of these little gems…

That’s my adorable big sis front and center in the yellow coat, a couple of our cousins, and me on the eagle’s shoulder in the blue hat. Yes, our frequent trips to the National Zoo were usually documented by a similar shot.

Here’s another one from a few years later with other (obviously thrilled) cousins…

Even the eagle looks miserable, doesn’t he?! And yup, that’s me wearing glasses only the early 80’s could love.

Hmm, sharing this family tradition with the next generation could be serious fun;)

How about you? Did your childhood include any regular rides on concrete wildlife?


Postscript: I couldn’t resist adding another one with a friend from just this week…

There’s no creature these girls can’t tame!


Back to Damascus October 27, 2011

Filed under: Faith,History lessons — dayna @ 11:55 pm

It’s been more than fifteen years now since that monsoon night.

The night when I ran wild-eyed, naked, barefoot through the desert. That night I stumbled and flew frantic as the Catalinas lit up from behind with lightning. The desert floor shuddered with thunder. My mind and body racing. Fleeing. A night when every snippet of sound and every colored light meant something.

It took months for the cactus to work its way out of my feet. Embedded and sore as my mind cleared and my spirit calmed; the tiny spines worked their way to the surface.

Now, I find myself asking:

 “Are they there still festering in my soles? In my soul?”

Because fifteen years later, I run through the desert again. Sometimes feeling naked and barefoot even now. Incredulous that I, no longer a girl, still have a heart that rages. That drives me out there.

But it is different now.

I may be restless. I may even look lost.

 But I know I am not, really.

This time, the monsoon desert smells familiar. It smells of sage and creosote and new construction. And the moonlight…illuminates a path.

A path leading to one place, and one place only.

This time, I will collapse in the shadow of a moon crossed.

Dusty, tear-stained and humbled. Broken.

And there is a gentle hand. Cupping my chin. Lifting my face. Wiping my tears.

Flooding my weakness with strength.

The rage settles out to calm.

Peace can be found even in an angry heart.

And I know that I can huddle here until the storm passes.

Until the sun rises.

Sonrise in the desert is the most.beautiful.thing.


A Fourth more fair… July 15, 2011

Filed under: History lessons — dayna @ 12:00 am

So I’m here mulling over the summer which seems to be strangely slipping away. Our school district starts classes up really early, so we tend to do mental “fall” while many long hot Arizona summer days still stretch out before us.

How was your Fourth of July? I’ve got to say, ours was just kind of “ho-hum”. Only ‘kind of’ because thankfully nothing is really “ho-hum” with little people aged 3.5 and 1.5, right? 🙂

I love where I live, don’t get me wrong. This desert place really does sing to my soul. But around that certain holiday every single year, I find myself surprised at my fierce yearning for my old hometown.

You see, my hometown went all out for the Fourth of July. I know I didn’t fully appreciate it in my youth, but now that I have kids of my own, I view it differently. I want to teach about the significance of Independence Day and share in the excitement that points to our nation’s unique origin. I know that the community celebrations and all day festivities there would really help emphasize the day (plus they are a lot of fun!).

It’s not that people out here aren’t patriotic. They really are. They love this country for all the freedom, diversity, and independence she affords.

It’s not Tucson’s fault. There are just some daunting obstacles to that traditional “day and night in the park” experience that I grew up with. There is the geographic metropolitan sprawl, the relative lack of large grassy gathering areas, the slightly more shallow revolutionary roots, and oh yeah- the threat of wildfire that often (rightfully so) warrants cancellation of the fireworks.

This year, I happened to be off work and was determined to show the girls a good time. We loaded our little camp chairs and headed to the convention center to watch the fireworks show on “A- mountain.” After about two hours of trying to keep them safe and nourished in an (expensive) parking lot with many moving vehicles, we did “ooh and ahh” at some far away pyrotechnics. But sadly, the big girl’s sequined crown and sparkly band-aid were the most festive things around.

So I remember Frederick’s Fourth, kicking off in the morning with a 5K fun run. The bands playing all day. The bathtub races in the lake. The face-painting, street vendors, pies, barbecue and chili cook offs. The old streets (some pre-dating the original day) sporting fresh red, white, and blue flags and decorations.

Nostalgia has me thinking of backyard get-togethers. Grandparents and toddlers, teenagers and their parents. I drool remembering large picnic tables covered in newsprint. People gathered around- bashing and picking sweet little Maryland blue crabs. Scents of Old Bay seasoning, swilling beer, and buttery corn on the cob. Kids squealing as they dive on slip and slides, eat watermelon, and rinse off in sprinklers.

And then as the sun dips lower, the people converge downtown with blankets and chairs to claim a prize viewing spot. Together, they enjoy the fireworks show set to the patriotic tunes played by a big brass band.

I remember it all as so magical. It wasn’t perfect, but it was community. I’m dreaming of a year when I share that town with my kids. Hope the reality holds up…

In the meantime, I would love to hear your local recommendations. Maybe we just haven’t found the right spot here in the Old Pueblo… where do you go?


Fathers to daughters June 19, 2011

Filed under: History lessons,Milestones — dayna @ 7:11 am

 These men are fathers to daughters.

They are strong enough to be endlessly tender.

They are determined enough to provide for their girls.

They take their role seriously enough to be silly. Frequently silly.

They are fearless enough to dance, sing, and play “pretend”.

They are smart enough to teach, to guide, to show.

They know to savor story-times, conversations, and sweet questions.

They drink in tinkling laughter, melting hugs, and sleepy breath.

These men know that their little girls have great big dreams and beautiful spirits. And they would give their very lives to protect them.

These men are more than fathers. They are daddies. And they are heroes.

And their girls are all so very lucky to have them.

On this Father’s Day and every single day, we love you both so much.


Couldn’t wait until next year… May 9, 2011

Filed under: History lessons,Milestones — dayna @ 12:00 am

So last week I planned on finishing a predictable inaugural Mother’s Day post. But then, the week and weekend took some unpredictable turns. (Why am I still surprised by this? Seriously!)

Rather than waiting another year to post an “ode to mom,” I’ve decided to go ahead and put it out there today. An unpredictable date for this unpredictable (in all the fun ways) woman seems sort of fitting. So here goes…

I am truly blessed in the mom category. I have an abundance of mother figures who really love my girls and me.

This year though, I’ll tell you about my mommy:

How adorable is she? And yup, I am the seriously un-adorable younger one;)

I purposely didn’t crop this photo so you could take a moment to admire the 70’s decor in all its wood-paneled, olive-green glory.

Some things my mother taught me:

    • She taught me not to blindly follow current practices in motherhood. She went with natural childbirth and breastfeeding in an age of anesthesia and formula-feeding.
    • She taught me that hand-made is often the best made. She was, and still is, a master crafter.
    • She taught me that a vivid imagination is to be encouraged, and that in childhood, it ought to trump terminal tidiness.
    • She taught me what determination and accomplishment look like. She is a marathoner- both literally and figuratively.
    • She taught me that frugality doesn’t mean living with no “treats.” It just makes them more delightful.
    • She taught me that education is important, but that a love of learning is greater. She was never afraid of us missing school to go to events, festivals, or museums.
    • She taught me that giving is essential. And that giving sneakily is fun!
    • She taught me that time spent appreciating the arts, both fine and performing, is rarely time wasted.
    • She taught me that forgiveness and grace are not a sign of weakness. They are greatest strength.
    • She taught me that one should honor their parents, even when they aren’t necessarily honorable.
    • She taught me that prayer is the most powerful thing, even if my heart is the only thing it changes.
    • She taught me to follow my dreams, but that my dreams may change.
    • She taught me to love books, love nature, love people.
    • She still teaches me to find the good in everyone, the beauty in the small things, and the adventure in the ordinary.
    • As a grandmother, she continues to remind me that children are such a blessing.