Two Lauras

I should count myself blessed
to live eighty-nine and one-half years
and find myself sitting
in a far-away house
holding tight to my namesake
who shares my blood, the life of my life,
the passing on of my heart,
the handing down of the things that matter to me.
That matter to God.

I should count myself blessed
to arrive here and see
my own eyes in a young girl’s face.
Touching my cheek to hers,
as close as can be,
making invisible the lines
of nine decades of simple living,
of questions and tears, 
of wondering how it all ends
and praying on bare knees
and handling the here and now while always,
always looking to the future.

But here is the future:
time gathered together,
bound tight into the only moment that matters-
The very special space of

To sit with that future
held to my chest,
where two hearts beat together,
hammering the rhythm of life,
of dancing days.
Even now,
as her locks flow down
and small hands reach up
asking for love, giving love,
struggling to say:

here in the only real space
we can love each other,
are the answers to the questions,
to tears
and to prayers
and the wondering how it all ends.

For it ends with a beginning.


taming the beast

My home skills have been very slow to evolve, despite the fact that I’ve had domestic independence for twenty years.  The tasks that make my list of “High Dislike” include cooking (very unfortunate for my family), emptying the dishwasher, weeding, and cleaning grimy glass shower doors.  But there is one constant task that reaches the defcom level of "Simply Despise": the laundry.  

Now you may think this is because I have six people churning through several outfits a day, but you are wrong.  My laundry woes date back to the newlywed era when I finally had to take some responsibility to keep the two of us out of dirty wrinkly clothes so that we could both keep our professional lives intact.   I asked around a lot about this particular topic (some might call it complained constantly), and I vividly recall begging an unsuspecting older woman in my bible study to help me solve my laundry conundrum, as if I could tap into some special magical powers to get the piles processed without dominating my life.

Things devolved as kids were added to the point that I was pretty grumpy about any mention of laundry, and the kids were pretty grateful when their favorite nightgown happened to show up in their drawer.   This summer we started what I optimistically dubbed the “Laundry Sing-Along”, which involved a weekly gathering of clean laundry into one big pile – more like a mountain really, inevitably becoming a mosh pit for the kids – and singing together as we all sorted and folded each person’s clothes into enormous bins.  Success rate: moderate but grueling.

I am happy to report a complete revolution has overthrown the laundry dictatorship, and I want to tell you how (because I know you are simply dying to see more pictures of my unkempt laundry).  I devote this solution in its entirety to a woman I would aspire to clean shower doors for indefinitely out of sheer gratitude for her suggestions:  Debbie Pittman.  She is a hilarious blogger/mom of many/organizational consultant/laundry mastermind who not only wrote about her approach for her 11 kids (yup, eleven!), but spent valuable personal time emailing me back and forth on how I, too, could tame the laundry beast.

I will let you read the eloquent details here, but her main points are:

• Do a load every single day
• Put away your load every single day

• Every. Single. Day.

I know, I know, it seems so simple.  But somehow it’s taken me 20 years to get to this solution. So, just for kicks, here are my cute little baskets from the dollar store, tagged with the strategic title “Team Roberts,” along with nicknames and pictures for my non-readers.  The kids are responsible for taking the baskets and putting everything away in their proper drawers.  Even at 2, 4, 7, and 9, they are perfectly capable of taking this one for the team.  Dad was alarmed at their small size, but it’s helped me know that I’ve gotten behind if my mini-baskets are brimming.  Call it portion size for the laundry, if you will.  So take that, you beast you.


the sum of today

Walking on the beach, it is chilly and gusty but the sun is pleasant and warms us as we stroll along.  The children are animated, invigorated by the cold and brave enough to splash along the ocean’s edge.  They look for shells and chase birds as I hold the little one’s hand.  The waves frighten him just enough to stay close.  The beach is vast and desolate, we have it almost to ourselves.


My feet sink in the damp white sand as I reflect on the happenings of this single day, reviewing them one by one.
Today I ran my first half-marathon.
Today my grandmother, estranged to me, was buried.
Today my children found four starfish.
Today I found out that a relative is terminally ill.

I marvel that these sentences can be strung together in a single script, the easy statements next to the heartbreaking ones. What is the sum of each day, the sum of a life?  How can wonder and accomplishment and death and illness all hover side by side until they crash into one, a heavy white wave that hits hard and knocks the wind from me, leaving me staggering and stunned and in need of saving? 

It’s the radical extremes that hurt, the warm sun and the jolting ocean chill, the satisfaction of raising up this young family and the witnessing of another part of it dying. Just as much as I savor the joys, I want to accept the hard sentences, the facts both difficult and unavoidable. 

I walk under an unending blue sky and feel so small and humbled by how meager my ability is to understand life. 

I can only think that all of these things, the blessings and the sufferings, I must take to the cross, deliberately, carefully, unquestionably. For at the cross, the Lord faithfully performs the miracle of transformation, taking every single heartbreak and weakness that I bring and returning it to me as a gift.  At that place, where the blood and pain of God’s very son was transformed into the ultimate gift - neverending grace for the world - I find hope.

“In His death Jesus Christ gave us life.  The willingness of the Son of God to commit Himself into the hands of criminals became the greatest gift ever given - the Bread of the world, in mercy broken. Thus the worst thing that ever happened became the best thing that ever happened.  It can happen with us.  At the Cross of Jesus our crosses are changed into gifts.”  (Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness)

I look down at the little one, still grasping my hand.  He sees his father very far off down the sandy beach, so far ahead that we seem forgotten.  I walk with confidence because I know where I am going but he feels lost and scared and cries out in a panic:  “Daddy, Daddy, wait for me, wait for me, it’s Reidy!”  

He calls the name of the father.

“It’s okay,” I lean over to say.  “You don’t need to worry.  I’m right here holding your hand.  I’ll walk with you all the way home and never let go.”

My reply hovers in the sun-soaked air, is caught up by the wind and swept towards the heavens.