the girl and the Genius

the girlMy firstborn, with a shoulder sunburn and radiating roses on his face, is not well acquainted with pain, so his big cousin coaches him with his thoughts.

Sophia is nine. She has known multiple hospital beds, scary chest sounds, needles and nurses, so she says, “Isaac, when you hurt, all you have to do is think of your mother’s smile. When I’m with my daddy and I hurt, I think of my mother’s smile. When I’m at my mom’s, I think of my dad’s smile. It works.”

Then she flits off like a dove.

I watch her all weekend, her unaffected art, the lack of desire for new clothes or a hair-brushing, the freckled beauty of a long, lanky child, and I turn my head more than once for what of her is lost in me. I behold her joy. 

Most people carry their souls in a deep pocket at the pit of their stomachs, but Sophia lets hers slip out to her fingertips. Hers rides on easy lips and feathers out from her shoulders to fan air at the disappointed. It is innocence and how it shirks this world, how pain is transformed to beauty. 

Maybe it’s the knowledge that her straight body will shortly turn to curve and that her imagination won’t so easily delve to the floor in character play that makes me awe at her on the cusp. Sophia’s arms reach at first guess, and she offers an honest smile to the sun. She sits with paper and draws, snuggled generously with my boys.

We say goodbye to the family, and as our hearts try to pull their hooks out, I look for Sophia and want to tell her how God is a genius in her. I want to hold her face and memorize it. I want to take pictures of her feet on tiptoes and of her hair in knots, how her face is already aiming sharp for envy, and there I find her at the door to the back-porch with her hands full.

She says, “Look! A bird!” And there she cups its heart-throbbing body until it calms in the bed of her hands.

My mouth wants to say “healer,” but instead I laugh deep from the pit of my stomach until it peels through my mouth, and my back, and my hands. Like children, we arch over and study the bird, reviving and forgetting ourselves in such a sacred moment.

About me


When We All Speak a Foreign Language
January 20, 2017
What do you taste?
November 08, 2016
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
The Myrrh Bearer, the Message Bearer, and Me
July 25, 2015
The Barbarian’s Heart
February 11, 2015
Be the child, then revolution.
June 02, 2014
It is My Passion That You Know This
January 08, 2014
The Woo
September 25, 2013
Nameless Woman: An Abstraction on the Spirit
March 27, 2013


Reply July 6, 2009

Are you getting tired of me saying "wow" every time I comment? You have captured the childlike so beautifully here. Can I sit next to you in heaven?

Jo@Mylestones’s last blog post..And a Parade To Boot!

Sarah Markley
Reply July 6, 2009

beautiful. absolutely.

Sarah Markley’s last blog post..Explosions of Grace

Reply July 6, 2009

Am I allowed to second a comment? If I am, I second Jo@Mylestones.

brittney’s last blog post..Would You do this?

Sugar Jones
Reply July 6, 2009

Sophia sounds like the sweetest of all angels. How fortunate your family is to have her in your life.

Sugar Jones’s last blog post..Jones Family Camping Trip: Part 1

Reply July 6, 2009

Oh she's beautiful and amazing and spiritual, I can see her through your post.

Reply July 6, 2009

What a beautiful post

Amy’s last blog post..Non-novel First Reaction

Reply July 6, 2009

Amber -

"We say goodbye to the family, and as our hearts try to pull their hooks out, "

Lines like that are why you're my favorite.
To read.
And re-read.
And read again.

Debra’s last blog post..Ellie + Stella

Reply July 6, 2009

what to say eludes me

    Reply July 6, 2009

    Sugar, Cindy, Debra and Amy, you guys should see Seth's family. They really are inspiring.

    Deb, I love it when you leave comments even when your comments don't say anything. Thank you.

Ann Kroeker
Reply July 6, 2009

You take us there, standing next to you, watching, noting each freckle. The power of a poet's eye.

Ann Kroeker’s last blog post..Make-Do Mondays: Watch Band Clasp

Kelly @ Wisdom Begun
Reply July 6, 2009

This is an absolutely beautiful post. Can I be you when I grow up?

Seriously, though. Absolutely beautiful.

Kelly @ Wisdom Begun’s last blog post..Five Ways to Help Out a Young Mother

Reply July 6, 2009

My son is a kid with medical challenges - lots of them. He's had surgeries, been to the ER in the middle of many a dark night, had shots, IV's, tests, scopes, probes, and travelled halfway across the world - as well as halfway across the country - to be treated by doctors who are the best at what they do.

Know what's the most remarkable about this kid? His utter - unshakable - trust that God is HERE. That God holds him when it hurts (and it hurts a lot). That without God - it would be impossible to bear.

There are days when I think my heart will literally break into a million pieces over the things this 12-year-old has had to endure. But then he'll come to me with a smile and say something hilarious and joy will radiate from every pore on his ever loving face.

What a blessing!

Sounds like my boy and your Sophia will be good pals in eternity!

dina’s last blog post..My Husband, The Genius

Reply July 6, 2009

Aw, this was beautiful. Like a glass of ice water on a sweltering day. It felt so good to read your words.

BlueCastle’s last blog post..Under Construction

Reply July 6, 2009

i third jo's comment. (looks like you'll have a whole section in heaven sitting with you! :)
what a beautiful child.. thanks for sharing her.

patty’s last blog one another

Reply July 6, 2009

oh my throat is welled up! it's like i know this little girl. somehow i feel like that was us 20 yrs ago. running on rocks and never feeling the pain. where did that little girl go inside me? amber this post is beyond brilliant. i LOVE seeing her face, and hearing your interpretation, which is always uniquely perfect. thank you.

Reply July 7, 2009

"Most people carry their souls in a deep pocket at the pit of their stomachs, but Sophia lets hers slip out to her fingertips. Hers rides on easy lips and feathers out from her shoulders to fan air at the disappointed. It is innocence and how it shirks this world, how pain is transformed to beauty. "

What an incredible description... I want to meet her; I want to *be* her. Thanks for sharing her...

Kelly’s last blog post..Imagine

Reply July 7, 2009

Beautiful Amber, I think of the color of your name--all golden and deep, catching the sun and holding it for a moment. You do this for us with your words...inviting us into another world not like this one...a world where He lives and we breathe again.
Thank you.

Holley’s last blog post..All that glitters...

Reply July 10, 2009

What a beautiful description of a graceful, gorgeous girl.

Sophia’s last blog post..The Wishing Tree

Reply July 10, 2009

She sounds amazing, and you've captured her spirit so clearly. Thank you for sharing.

NTE’s last blog post.."That's the way to catch a beau..."

Reply July 22, 2009

I do love my godchild Sophia... and you for writing this. It amazes me how you can articulate the way I feel in a way I can not:)

Reply November 6, 2009

Stunning and painfully real all at once. Gorgeous.

Reply February 7, 2010

I cried. Violently sharp images. Like I was watching her myself. Lovely! You are very much missed.

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