Three weeks ago, on a crystal clear snow-cover morning, a beautiful white dog came bounding across our yard and into our hearts.  She had long mane-like hair, a shiny black nose, and lively blue eyes that seemed to beg, “Be my friend.”  She looked like something crafted straight from the snow herself.  Our five children donned their winter boots and jumped into the snow banks with her forming an immediate bond.

This dog rolled straight to her back when approached by the kids. She kicked her legs up and let them rub her belly while she closed her eyese in seeming bliss.  As the day wore on, we fed her the only food fit for an animal in our house: a large bowl of cheerios with milk.  As she lapped up her meal, Charlotte, our 3 year old, rubbed her head with her stubby mittened hands.  The boys said, “Let’s call her Cheerio.”  And the name stuck.

Surprisingly, this sweet natured dog stayed with us all day and nestled on our door stoop that night.  However, the next morning, just like most of the snow, she had disappeared.  Oh well, I thought, at least we didn’t get attached.  But I was wrong. We had.

Two days later as the children were watching Spongebob and eating their poptarts, Jeff announced, “Cheerio’s back.”  We all dropped everything, ran outside, and re-united with the dog we call ours.  We rubbed her, we fed her, we begged her to stay, but at the end of the day she gave us one sad look and began walking south across a barren rice field.  We literally watched until this dog became a tiny dot dragging its way into the setting sun.

But, much to our pleasure, the next day, Cheerio came bounding back.  Head held high, paws prancing up, she seemed to smile as she waltzed back into our lives.  This time, we were prepared. We were determined to woo this animal into our home forever.  Jaden, our 12 year old, mixed Gravy Train with warm water and filled a large basin with the meaty grub.  “It smells real good, Mom,” he told me as he watched her gobble it up through the kitchen window.  “I bet she’ll stay.”

Louis John, our 9 year old began handing out the dog treats made with real chicken, periodically that day. Even Josh, our 13 year old made great effort to rub her, play with her, and convince her we were family.  The girls danced with her until the sun began to fade.  We held our breath and silently came in for dinner.  As we washed up and made our plates, our family dog left again.

This routine has been replaying for over three weeks now. Cheerio comes to our home and loves us dearly. But then she leaves and goes Elsewhere for a day or two on her own  She always returns with matted hair and a thin middle. She is exhausted after her journey and she revels in our adoration.  But then she still leaves again.  She can’t commit to our love. She doesn’t understand how we want to be her only home.

Aren’t we all a little like this dog?  Don’t we, too, roam from the One who can provide all we need?  Don’t we leave Him after He’s blessed us, as we think we can do just fine on our own. And when we’re tired, hungry, and completely beaten by the world, don’t we come back, in hopes for a little more love?

I want to be committed to Christ through all of life’s journey.  I want to stay with Him and forsake myself and the pleasures of this world.  I don’t want to come to him tired and disappointed in what I’ve done on my own.  He is waiting for us, day in and day out, looking for His children who have strayed in their pride.  His mercies are new each day for those who have wandered, but how long will we in our ignorance roam?  Real joy is with Him.  Apart from Him there is only pain.

My children, each day, still scan the horizon for their dog.  Will she return?  Maybe.  Will I return?  Each and every day.

My Valentine Poem..

I have to confess.  I haven’t bought Jeff a card in probably 12 years.  I know, it sounds bad, but please, hear me out.  One day, over a decade ago, I was perusing the card store for the perfect anniversary card, but I just couldn’t find the right one.  Frustrated, I left the card aisle and began meandering through the store.  A small hardback book caught my eye because of its colorful, yet manly cover.  I thought it might be a book of poems that I could give Jeff, but to my disappointment, the book was empy.  Blank.  It was a journal.  Too bad, I thought.  It would make a pretty gift book.

Suddenly, I realized that since I do love writing, why in the world should I pay money for a card that can’t begin to say what I am feeling in my heart for the man of my dreams.  I snatched up that journal, and for our anniversary, I wrote an entry.  Now, almost every holiday, I pull the same journal out and add more to it.  Jeff has a collection of my writing, just for him, that I hope he will treasure all his life. 

Not too long ago, I began actually writing poems for Jeff’s journal.  I have NEVER been a poet.  Writing lines of verse really is an excruciating process for me… but the results have been awesome.  I have been able to come really close to giving Jeff a true picture of my love for him.  I haven’t yet found all the right words, but I sometimes think the right words haven’t yet been invented, and maybe one day, I’ll coin them.  But for now, each holiday, I write Jeff a poem from my heart.  I think I would like to share my Valentine poem with you.  This one isn’t all that serious, but I think it’s cute.  We can’t be serious all the time. 

A Year of Love for You

I love you in March like a loud untamed lion:

          A heart racing wild like the wind our kites fly in.

In April I love you with showers of green:

          With blossoms of kisses, a love garden unseen.

In May I love you like long rays of sun,

          My arms warm and ready for your early return.

I love you in June like the moon on the sand:

          Gentle yet striking, following earth’s command.

My love in July is hot, fire-cracking:

          With barbeque kisses that are oh so lip-smacking!

In August my love is like long afternoon shade

          It’s refreshing and lingering, like sweet lemonade.

My love in September sings out like a school bell:

          It’s time to learn more and on you only to dwell.

My love in October shines bright white like the cotton:

          The hard work you do is never forgotten.

In November I love you with a full-harvest heart:

          I’m stuffed with emotion, full of the joy you impart.

My love in December is soft and mild

          as our hearts are reminded of the love brought by a Child.

In January I love you like everything’s new

          Pure as snow, clear as ice, I am frozen with you.

But in February I love you with a red heart and  big kiss:

          My Valentine Sweetheart, you’ve brought me a full life of bliss.

Happy Valentine’s Day

K.A.  2010


Who doesn’t love a great game of basketball?  Ten solid athletes working as one well-oiled machine intent on sending a  leather sphere swishing through a harsh rim suspended 10 feet upinto the air.  The players have spent many more hours practicing their movements and designing difficult plays than they will ever spend in a game.  Yet they work like horses: stretching beyond their limits both horizontally and vertically.  The falls they’ll take, the bodies they’ll bump, the floor they will eagerly bite, all to get their hands on the leather, to save it, steal it, toss it, alley oop it, slam it, tip it, tie it up, or flip it out… they’ll fly through the air and land on wood to keep it alive. Basketball is about discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, and victory.  Hmmm, sounds little like something else I love.  My church.

My church is a place where people work as a team.  Many solid Christians working as one well-tuned body intent on sending the word of God out into a thirsty world in need of drink.  We spend many hours in our disciplines: reading the Word, memorizing the Word, translating the Word, praying the Word, outlining the Word, studying the Word, meditiating on the Word, all to keep the Word alive.   We work like a colony of ants stretching beyond our limtis both outward and heavenward.  We may stumble, even fall, but we do this as a team.  We grieve as a team, we rejoice as team.  When one is in pain, we all feel stunned. When one meets adversary, we all fight the spiritual battle.  Churchwork is about discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, and victory.  About present pain and future trophies.   Hmmm, sounds even better than a heated game of roundball.  And you gotta love the head coach!

Snow Day Again

Here we start our 4th day of cohabitating in our extra-warm house while the outside world sits silent in drifted snow.  A pink sunrise is edging over the horizon illuminating diamond chips on the winter white ground.  What to do? What to do?  We’ve eaten more meals at home in four days than previously eaten at home in a month. We’ve played games, watched movies, downloaded apps, cleaned our rooms, tidied our laundry, thrown snowballs, eaten snow cream, gathered round the piano, fought over the computers, planned summer vacations.  We’ve bundled and unbundled, only to bundle again.  And in the end, know what I think?  I think we miss school.  We miss guitar lessons, and dance class and basketball practice for sure.  But we miss whispering with friends when the teacher’s back’s turned.  We miss the cafeteria mess followed by recess chaos.  We miss working on a new lesson, getting a good grade, reading another chapter in a book we forgot how much we loved.  We miss routine.  We miss consistency.  Again, the words come hard, but I think we miss school.

Yes, a snow day is fine. But when it turns to a snow week, the Lammers Family turns a little sour.  Thank God the sun is warming, even now, to restore the lives we so long to live.

Hello world!

What a morning.  Jeff is searching frantically for “marshamallow cereal” so the smallest member of our household can have breakfast without tears.  Although he awoke early to make cinnamon rolls, his daughters prefer cold cereal.  It’s only 8:20, so I have 40 solid minutes to pen my thoughts, take a shower, get ready for church, and then get the 5 children presentable as well.  With 5 inches of snow and ice covering the county, I doubt many parishoners will trek out on this beautiful wintry morn, but without question, our family will be there.  With hairbows and neckties.  (Who am I kidding?  I’ll be lucky if the boys aren’t in t shirts!)

So, good morning world.  The Lammers Family will be out in full force in just minutes, ready to impact, impress, imprint, but probably mostly destroy something.