If you don’t watch out…

For Halloween, I thought it might be fun to change things up a little and post a poem written by one of Indiana’s most adored poets, James Whitcomb Riley. I remember memorizing many of his poems for school projects, and this one, Little Orphant Annie, was a favorite spooky one shared by many a grade school teacher. Here it is, as it appears in Complete Works. James Whitcomb Riley. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916.

Little Orphant Annie
by: James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)

To all the little children: — The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones — Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.
ITTLE Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Ef you
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,–
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all!
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout:–
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you
An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,–
You better mind yer parunts, an’ yer teachurs fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you
Ef you


rest, dear mama. rest.

As the days shorten, the to-do list of a mama lengthens, and we are, so many of us, worn plum out.

See, mama love and mama tasks don’t end with a check mark next to an item on a to-do list.

By mid-October, the gimp sets in, our psyches sulking and spent from back to school and the start of school, first report cards and first dances, car pool lines and school bus bullies, IEPs and 504s, SATs and endless school fees…

…but may I whisper something to you? Something that was whispered to me? I heard it the other day as the sun shone down and lifted the morning fog from the fields…

…be still.

God’s got it.

God’s got your kids.

He loves them more than you do, remember?

And God’s got YOU, mama.

His strength is made perfect in weakness, in our inability to do and be everything to our kiddos and husband and bosses, to teachers and PTA leaders and The Jones’.

Rest in Him and let Him take the reins blistering our worn out hands.

Rest in Him and know that after you’ve kissed your kiddos goodnight, He’s still with them, always.

And He’s with you, too, in the unforced rhythms of grace.



Pottery. A poem.

Pottery. A poem.

The starting from a lump of dirt, I always understood that part. I mean, pretty obvious, the soft, unformed places, inside and out. The shaping, molding, pulling, not so much. After all, who can imagine what a piece of nothing … Continue reading

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