we make apple juice, 28 jars, and the pulp settles pink. it’s midnight, and my mother in law is here, and she teaches me more than apples. she washes dishes and pours me a coffee and her forehead wrinkles when i cough. her three caesarean scars have long healed but she opens herself daily to love.

marge teaches me family, for “they are ministry,” she tells me as she rocks her grand-babies, and there is always another plate, another chair, another minute to sit and talk and another person who could use a hug.

and this farmer’s wife takes your face in her hands and she kisses your cheeks and it makes you cry.

then she tells you about the lump in her breast, a malignant lump and it’s no bigger than a dime but it’s big enough to change her life.

for a minute her lip trembles and i see a girl in there, a girl who once did barrel-racing, a girl now facing chemo. and she talks about how this world isn’t home. about how God says he’s our shepherd and she quotes psalm 23 and how we don’t need to be scared of dying for it’s all a part of living.

the pulp settles pink, apple juice in glass jars, and i think of life sifting: of it becoming more about God and less about us. about my mother in law and the way she is heaven on earth, and this, maybe then, why it’s so hard. because who wants to watch heaven go through hell?

“even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous…
surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
they will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” (psalm 112: 4-7)

(thank you, for prayers, for trent and his mom and this hurting… having watched my own mum battle cancer, it’s even harder… you are gift, friends. truly.)

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