Friday, September 28, 2007


I often hear the term "season" tossed about. When I declined a request to teach a class at church because homeschooling is a higher priority, I was told by an empty-nest mom, "You're in a different season now." At my age I'm in a child-rearing season. Amazing.

A Bobby Goldsboro song was popular when I was a teenager, "Autumn of My Life." It was a sad, man-loses-wife song that touched my romantic heart back then when I was in the spring of my life. He sang, "In the autumn of my years I noticed the tears and I knew that our life was in the past..." Maybe I'm in the autumn of my years now but seasons of life are circular, not linear. I've been through many seasons, alternating between children and career, turmoil and peace, tears and joy. The wisdom of Solomon tells us, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Ecclesiastes 3.

I just finished reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. What a beautiful, thought-provoking book about nineteenth century women in China. I highly recommend it. You will never forget these characters and you will think hard about your role as daughter, mother, and friend to other women. A reviewer described the book as "heartbreakingly lovely" and that it is.

It was especially fascinating how the author described seasons of life in the book. First there are Daughter Days, the carefree days of childhood, until the terrible torture of footbinding ended a girl's innocence and confined her indoors, crippled forever. Chinese culture at the time demanded that women have impossibly tiny feet to attract a man and a good marriage. Then came Hair-Pinning Days when a teenage girl was prepared to be a wife, learning homemaking skills and obedience to a prescribed family ranking system. Next were Rice and Salt Days, the years of raising children and caring for the needs of a husband and mother-in-law. Last was Sitting Quietly, when a woman became a widow, "too old to cook or weave or embroider." She was referred to as "one who has not died."

In China in those days a woman had defining roles, roles that were as restrictive socially as they were physically by the footbinding. I was wondering how I might be limiting my daughters and binding them into my own expectations for them. How can I raise them to ignore our cultural demands to attain some physical perfection or professional attainment? (In doing this I have to examine my own attitudes and how I am enticed by the world.)
Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32. I must not shackle Arielle and Liana with my own ideas and plans. Jesus also said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10. He's got big plans for these Chinese girls he brought into our family from so far away. They broke free from their own culture and must not be bound by ours. I pray I will never stand in the way of what God desires for their lives.
This September the weather has been perfect--sunny and warm. The sadness of losing summer is erased as the beauty of the new season unfolds. The stifling humidity has retreated and we sleep tonight under a full moon and cool breezes. Autumn again. The same trees will release their brilliant leaves once again, and these two sisters, bigger now, will still delight in them. How blessed I am to have another season of Milk and Salt days!
Fred ordered two cords of wood and the girls and I will soon be stacking it next to the dying tomato plants in the garden. Another summer gone, time for pumpkins and apples. We will hibernate in winter and long for spring once again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The girls and I have been studying Japan and we found a great book of haiku poetry, Cool Melons--Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub. Issa was a revered haiku master who was born in Japan, and in his lifetime wrote more than 2,500 poems between 1763 and 1827. We thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful book illustrated with watercolor paintings. We were inspired to try our own hand at writing haiku. Haiku is said to be a quick line sketch describing a single moment in nature. It should call to mind life's passing details. Almost all traditional haiku suggests a season. In Japanese, a haiku must contain exactly 17 syllables in 3 different lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second 7, and the last 5 again. (For some reason this blog site will not let me put the lines under each other, so I wrote them in one long line.)

I captured this moment above with a picture, but here are the words to go with it.

Warm September waves...Sharp wind of salt and seaweed...Drowns our sad farewell.

Liana was very excited about the idea of writing a poem when I said I would publish it on this blog. She had a hard time keeping up with her brain as she breathlessly told me her thoughts. Her first was called "Wonder."

Flowers are singing...Colorful butterflies soar...Across the blue sky.

Liana then asked to go on-line so she could see pictures of rice paddies. She wrote this, called "China."

Ducks in pure water...Fat buffaloes in rice fields...Chinese girls planting.

We had a little talk this morning about the tragedy 6 years ago. Liana was then inspired to write this, called "9/11."

Cold rain is pouring...The sky is black and crying...Oh so sad that day.

Arielle had a little more difficult time coming up with a topic, but then decided to write about two different thoughts of summer. The first is "Early Summer" and then, "Late Summer."

Baby robins nest...In our pretty lilac tree...Leave broken blue eggs.

Rose of Sharon bloom...Bees collecting pollen on...Sweet scarlet petals.

Give it a shot and write one of your own in this ancient literary form! Of course, send it to me to read!

Does scripture say anything about poetry? Ephesian 2:10 says, "We are God's work of art..." The word used for "work of art" is the Greek word poiema. And that's where we get the English word poem. God is creating sacred poems out of flawed humans like you and me!