Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dear Sam

You sleep long this afternoon, fever breaking beneath pink fleece. Your forehead is still warm to the touch. I sit next to you and watch you for some time, then I kiss your cheek. You are so small. So beautiful.


I walk circles in the kitchen, wondering what to do with myself. The boys are napping, your sisters are entertained downstairs. l need to rinse all those muddy shoes from this morning and put clothes into the washer. The dishwasher needs emptying. I need to look at the week, remember what's happening, return phone calls, vacuum the floor from lunch.

I spin. Going nowhere.

And then I see it. The book I've been marking for you. God's words and my words, mixed.

You are my third-born. So yours is the third book I have marked. I've scratched notes into the margins, run my yellow pencil across phrases that whisper they are for you, tried to think what might be important to your sixteen-year-old self all those years from now when the world has changed but the Word hasn't. And He is all the more mindful of you, and so am I.


I open your book. Knowing I need something living and full of light - something to bring me back to what matters. I am tired of the bickering today, the needling and poking, the ruckus that knocked a favorite piece off the mantel and burst it into shards, the pinching while we tried to read a story on the couch. There was disrespect. There was lack of love. Maybe it was just an off-day. But I am feeling it too. Less love.

So I open to Nephi, after he has written all those marvelous prophecies from the poet Isaiah. And this phrase at the top of the page stops me quick.

"It is by grace that we are saved"

I've read those words before. So many times. But never alone. Not bare like that, without anything before or after. And all of a sudden I am bent like the sinner. Bent. Because I am a sinner. And it seems that no one needs saving more than me. Everything I do today is a failing.

Ann Voskamp wrote, "Stress isn't only a joy stealer. The way we respond to it can be sin." I underlined her words. Maybe they sound dramatic. But I know she is right. I am making the same mistakes, stumbling over the same issues, counting messes instead of counting gifts.

I want to be a good mother - see gratitude in all the moments we share, even the hard ones. But I need His grace to do it. I need saving. And dear one, I am so glad there is One who can.

I slip your bookmark in between the pages and pause over your art. The yellow sun you drew for me flames wild against a blue sky. Your name is written backwards in red pencil and I cherish what it tells me about you. Where you are now.

Sami, Age Four.


Clearing a path through the toys, I return to you, slide your blanket higher, check your skin as you smack dry lips and flutter lashes. Your little body, so limp and contrite, makes me realize I need to go lower, be smaller - like you - accept the gifts as they come, find a way to live more of the joy.

It seems the smaller we are, the larger the joy.

Over the weekend, as we were walking atop a mountain ridge, you asked me if I liked to feel the wind touch my face. I squeezed your hand and said "Yes, I do."

You looked up at me and grinned. "So do I."


I love you Samantha. You are the pure heart I want to have. You are the grace I needed today. And it's funny - l am your mother, but we are both the child. Waiting for wind.

So I touch your face. And He touches mine.


  1. I am learning that I need a box of kleenex around whenever I read one of your posts! Time and time again, you express what is in my own heart and soul.

  2. Oh Cath- I so needed this today. We were feeling exactly the same way. I'm so grateful you were given the gift to write this is quite amazing! I learn so much from you and your perspective. Here is to a new day.

  3. What great ideas and thoughts. It is humbling.

    I sometimes feel like I get an emotional fever. It seems like you felt one come on this day, too. Everything rises until a headache comes and that just makes all other pressure rise. And then it spikes. After today I'll think of how you turned to the scriptures and then changed your behavior.

  4. Oh, please print this out to go with her book!

    Gorgeous, Cath. So gorgeous.

  5. Oh, Cath, I come back from vacation and get to read one of your most beautiful blog posts ever. Thank you! "It seems the smaller we are, the larger the joy." How true that is. Your soul is one of the purest and sweetest. How I wish I could have met up with you this last week! I hope your girl is feeling better soon.

  6. oh Catherine. Thank you. I love you and I'm so thankful for you.

  7. Tricia - I was surprised to hear you'd moved. I hope things are going well as you transition into a new home and surroundings. Are you still in VA?

    Michelle - "Here's to a new day." Oh yes. Start again, redirect, reinvent, reapply knowledge. Such a process isn't it? Always good to know I'm not the only ones struggling. Can't wait to see you Saturday. xo

    Liz - "emotional fever" - clever and so true. A fever I could do without. Trying to "treat it before it spikes" - that's the trick. I'm finding daily time in the scriptures is a necessity for me. Love you and hope your family is well.

    Kelly - I wish I had a book for my children! That's a must-do on my list. Maybe this will be the year. You're so dear to read. I appreciate your comment so much. xo

    Anne Marie - I felt your absence. Anxious to hear of your travels and experiences. I hope you had a lovely trip. We ended up coming home early Monday afternoon. Sent Eliza on to Lagoon with her cousins, Ali had fevered the day before. Tuesday it was Sami and the boys. Everyone is fine now. But I do wish we could have gotten together. Your thoughts always bless my day. "Real time" would have been a true gift. Next time, yes?

    Kristen - So thankful for you too. Praying for you my sister.

  8. I love this post! I love Sami! I love sweet. You are such an amazing Mom and I learn from you every day!

  9. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    I think the part that hit me was how I feel about days like yours when I reach for the scriptures - "Knowing I need something living and full of light - something to bring me back to what matters." That's what they do for me, too.

  10. Cath, this post has been on my mind all week. Thank you for writing it. It is beautiful. I love that you have a book marked for each of your children. I have to know more about this. I need answers beyond my own limited wisdom for some mothering conundrums I'm facing. I think this idea is pushing me in the right direction. Thank you for this inspiration.

  11. Catherine, do you know how inspiring you are? I love your honesty and humility and the beautiful words you choose to articulate your world. I LOVE the idea to mark scriptures for your kids to give to them later-- what an incredible mother. Wow.

  12. Deb - your text meant so much to me. Love you.

    Heather - I'm pretty sure you're a kindred soul. Thanks for your continuing kindness.

    Saydi - I hear you. I'm feeling like I need greater guidance with respect to a few issues as well. My Mom gave me Wilcox's book, What the Scriptures teach us about Raising A Child. I've been meaning to get to it for months. Maybe now's the time. I'm always inspired by you. Wish we had time to chat in person about all our mothering questions. I love you.

    Stephanie- We got your sweet thank you card in the mail with the girls' colorings. So darling. I need to email you. I think we have their baby giraffe. :)

  13. Beautiful words. You know just how to say it.

  14. You are so gifted! Thank you for being able to say what just gets muddled in the rest of our heads. Love you, Cath!

  15. You are a beautiful writer! I don't know if you remember me or not, but I was one of the guides at the RLDS sites in Nauvoo back in the summer of 1997 (my maiden name is Heather Schipper.) I have such fond memories of that summer and the time we spent together. You came on one of my tours and stood up for me when of the people on the tour started giving me a hard time. I hope you are doing well.

    1. Heather - oh my, how wonderful to hear from you! Of course I remember you! I can see your face and your beautiful red hair clear as day. How are you doing?? I'd love to get an update on your life, where you are, what you are doing. Please email me, if you have the time. Contact in the nav bar. I remember very well that day you took us on a tour. It was an honor to defend you and your faith. Sending you much love.


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