Wednesday, September 30, 2015


It was time for the Powner family children to have their annual well-child check-ups. Actually, it was somewhat PAST time, but hey...we get in when we get in. I scheduled all three kids at the same time so we could get it over with.

My boys were old pros. Standing on the scale to be weighed? Having your heart-rate checked? No problem. Following the light with your eyes? Sitting still for the ear examination? Easy peasy.

My daughter, however, was not quite as familiar with such bizarre rituals. What on earth are we doing here? her face seemed to say. These people are crazy.

After carefully watching her big brothers go through the motions, she bravely stepped up to take her turn, not understanding why but accepting that she must.

"Me too?" she said. I nodded and gently prodded her forward.

The usual procedures were performed on her without a hitch. Well, technically there was one small hitch. If you know her, you can understand why her hair presented a bit of an obstacle to getting measured against the wall. But other than that, things progressed nicely.

Then the LPN, Mary Beth Adams (one of the most wonderful people on the face of the earth) came in with a nurse practitioner student who was doing a "ride along" if you will. This student was very pretty and had the cutest little mini-basketball-shaped baby bump I'd ever seen.

My daughter stared at this student's adorable little bulging belly with curiosity and suspicion. I guess she hadn't seen many pregnant women up close before. I could see Little Miss Sassy Pants's mind racing at 100 miles per hour as she tried to process this unusual sight. I could see she had a burning question in her mind.

Finally, she couldn't contain herself any longer. She just had to know.

She pointed her finger at the pretty student and demanded: "You got an apple in there?"

Monday, September 28, 2015


Yesterday, during the worship service at MBC, a man I know and respect shared a story about his late mother, Loretta. The story he shared touched my heart and brought to mind other memories of her. That is when I knew what I wanted to write about today.


by Katie Powner

I didn't know her when her skin was smooth as satin
When her arms still held strength for every chore
I would've loved her then
but in the winter of her life
I don't know if I could've loved her more

The sparkle in her eye was more than mischief
and the smile on her face more than a tease
They were the steadfast joy
of living for her Savior
Whom she found sweeter than an August breeze

She showed me what "through thick and thin" should look like
She taught me purity and peace until
Her form was but a shell, a weakened vessel
then she kept on teaching faith and patience still

"Praise the Lord," she said. "Praise the Lord!"
Even as the light was fading from her eyes
Even as her voice was shrinking to a whisper
She said, "The lights of glory soon are mine."
She said, "Not my will, O Lord, but Thine."

I miss you, Loretta. Thanks for everything.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Something bigger

You know that feeling when everything you need to do starts weighing on you, squeezing your heart and gnawing at your guts? And you don't know how you'll ever meet all those expectations? I call this feeling hyperinternilating, which is a mash-up of "internally hyperventilating." Which is what it feels like.

This morning I woke up hyperinternilating. An ugly mound of things loomed over me like a tsunami and I cowered in its shadow, certain it would crash down on me at any moment and I would drown.

The big blob was made up of a variety of things, including but not limited to: things I thought I needed to get done, conflict in my own spirit over choices I'd made, anxiety over external circumstances, a handful of relationship difficulties, and just parenting in general. Also some (a lot of) self-doubt, four impending deadlines, and a large, painful sore on my forehead caused by I-shudder-to-think-what-kind-of-creature biting me during the night. It was a big blob.

Luckily, I discovered the antidote to hyperinternilating several years ago and was able to administer it right away. Actually, I had to administer it several times throughout the day in large doses. For me, the only antidote to this uncomfortable condition is prayer.

Why does prayer help me when I'm hyperinternilating? It's all about size. The only thing BIGGER than the tsunami I thought would drown me is God. And prayer helps me remember the BIGGER picture, which apparently is not all about me. It's about something else. Something BIGGER.

So the next time you find yourself hyperinternilating, try some prayer. It's free, you can't overdose, and it works every time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

On the bleachers

My daughter and I walked into the gym on Saturday afternoon, our eyes adjusting to the artificial light. The volleyball game was already in full swing so we scurried into our usual corner and climbed the bleachers to the very top row to watch.

A man well on in years sat on that same row, several scoots away. In a white t-shirt and outback hat, he watched with interest as we took our seats. I didn't know him.

It wasn't five minutes before he scooted over to us with a big smile on his face.

"Where on earth did that beautiful young lady come from?" he asked. "She is just pretty as a picture."

I gave him an answer and assured him that I was well aware of how adorable my daughter is and he scooted back to his place, carefully moving his legs around the garbage can strategically placed in the aisle of the bleachers. Less than five minutes later, he was back.

"She's just got to be the cutest girl I've ever seen," he said. "By the way, which one of the players is your daughter?"

He was old enough and eccentric enough that I wasn't insulted, even though I'm not nearly old enough to have a daughter in high school, am I? I'm only 32, by golly! Anyway, he narrowly avoided the garbage can and again scooted back to his place, but as you can probably guess he started back toward me in no time.

In his eagerness to ask me yet another question, he forgot to be careful around the garbage can this time. As he scooted closer, his orthopedic-shoed feet swung right into the can and knocked it loose. With a sharp, knocking sound it tipped and fell down the bleachers one step at a time...thump, thump, thump, all the way to the gym floor. We watched it happen but were both powerless to stop it.

"Oh," the man said, concern and surprise covering his face in equal amounts. "Looks like I kicked the bucket."

Friday, September 18, 2015


I'm glad to see the sun back out today. The last few dreary days have been a little uncomfortable. I mean, who wears sunglasses when it's cloudy? When it's raining?

I put my shades back on this morning with a sigh of relief. Finally, I can cover half my face again with tinted lenses and oversized frames so no one can see the bags under my eyes. No one can see what I really mean when they ask, "How's it going?" and I say, "Good."

My sunglasses protect me from giving too much away. They protect me when someone is passing by whom I don't have the strength to converse with and I pretend I didn't see them. They'll never know for sure. My eyes were hidden, after all.

Disbelief, amusement, concern, lack of concern, irritation, desperation. These can all be disguised by a good pair of sunglasses. Yes indeed, I'm glad to see the sun! Cloudy days are just too darn honest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Looking back

Today we completed the (sort of) final step in our daughter's adoption: the Montana state "re"-adoption and legal name change. The hearing went off without a hitch this afternoon and we hurried home for naptime.

At home afterwards, I pondered life before Little Miss Sassy Pants came along. Most of the time it seems like she's always been here. Can't imagine life without her you know. But I found myself thinking back to when having only two children seemed like more than I could ever survive. Now we have three and hey, no sweat, right?

But there was a time when I was riding the river of Motherhood in a leaking raft, taking on water fast. I wrote a poem during that time about my family that I thought I'd share today in honor of how far we've come.

An Afternoon At Home
by Katie Powner

the baby wakes up way too soon and she
wonders why he didn't sleep for long
his older brother's jumping on the bed
he never even fell asleep at all

the baby screams with fervor but the clock
says clearly it's not time to nurse him yet
his brother wants a snack
but when she pulls the raisins out
he whines, "what can I have instead?"

she takes her oldest boy to the bathroom
wishing he'd work harder on his aim
then takes the baby to the changing table
and her wish for him ends up being the same

there's spit up on her shoulder, spit up on her shoe
and it's time to try to put dinner together
everything takes longer
with a baby on your hip
she tries to put him down but he won't let her

she ignores the phone when it calls to her
no one would hear her over all the noise
on the verge of tears
she sings a desperate song
hoping it will calm her little boys

finally she gets something in the oven
and gets her oldest to look at a book a while
her baby coos content
as she plops on the couch to nurse
then daddy walks in the door with a big smile

'what a pleasant little life she leads,' he thinks
as he gives hugs and sloppy kisses all around
I guess he'll never know
that ten minutes ago
the whole world was about to topple down

I like to think those kinds of days are behind me but...who am I kidding? The chaos might look different now but it's still chaos. And I love it.

Can anyone relate?

Monday, September 14, 2015

On a Monday evening

An elderly man lives near me who no doubt cut an impressive figure in his day. He has since shrunken to the size of his ever diminishing function. Which is small. But when I see him driving around town, with a restricted license prohibiting highway driving, he still seems larger than life to me.

In a long-sleeved flannel shirt and jeans whether it's 9 degrees or 90, he peers with sharp, blue eyes from under an ancient ball cap, giving careful consideration to each house, each lawn, each child he passes. His gray truck rumbles slowly down the alley, rifle mounted on the rack in his cab, and I catch a glimpse of his weathered skin and smile at the white stubble on his face.

When I bring him a small plate of zucchini muffins or half a dozen eggs, he unfailingly shows me his seashell collection. Alternating between telling me the far-fetched yet undoubtedly true story behind each shell and cursing at his loudly blaring TV, his frail voice wobbles like a newborn foal. I stare at the sepia photo on the wall of a strapping young man in uniform, ready to save the world. As a member of The Greatest Generation, I guess you could say he did.

He makes me wonder about life, and time, and age. At ninety-some years old, will I be all alone? Will my world be shrunken down to the size of the TV in my front room and a restricted license? Will my life...matter?

Maybe I'm not asking the right questions. My second son was less than two weeks old when I heard a gentle knock on my door. There he was, my diminutive, old neighbor, with a soft, blue blanket in his hands.

"It's fer the baby," he said, the creak in his voice similar to the one in my hardwood floor. "I made it."

I was touched down to my very soul. "Thank you," I responded, with a certain amount of reverence. He looked down at his feet, embarrassed.

"Hell, it ain't nuthin'," he said.

Then he shuffled away, the bow in his legs undisguised by his blue jeans. I'll never forget that. And I'm still pondering what exactly I could or should learn from such a man. From someone with eyes keen enough to spot an interesting shell on a Philippine beach and a young woman across the alley whose enormous belly was suddenly replaced by a baby boy. Will I be ninety-some years old before I know?

It was my son's favorite blanket.