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From the Editor -
Corinne Smelker
Heaven Bound
Featured Article
HeavenContentment and Munchies
By Corinne Smelker

Stillness. All is calm, too calm.

I rove through the living room, to the kitchen - no sticky juice stains on the counter or the floor - onto the kidís side of the house. Thereís evidence of their habitation, clothes tried on and discarded in favour of something more hip; forlorn toys that are left to the mercy of the dog who, bored with his, may come searching for new prey.

Softly, I close the doors to the bedrooms, and meander back into the silence. As I pass the couch, my hand absently reaches out to ruffle a tousled head Ė a head that isnít there. I draw back startled.

Itís August, and for the first time in my life I donít have kids crowding me, hounding me, "Mom, may I have juice please?" "Mom, is it snack time yet?" "Can we go to the pool now, please?"
All Things Through Christ
By S. Megan Payne

CRASH! Thud.

The bike skidded across the pavement and my butt hit the asphalt. Pain shot through my right leg; I could feel the hot tears trying to well up. Mocking laughter floated through the air toward me.

"Címon, loser! Go on and cry, you little loser!" Sam taunted me.

I wonít cry. I wonít cry, I told myself. Not with big Danny Taylor from next door and his loud-mouthed bully buddy Sam Taud staring at me over their shiny silver bikes and laughing at me. Theyíd never let me live it down.

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Can it be that I almost miss the refrain of, "Mom, she took my toy!"?
"Did not!"
"Did too!"
"Well, you pulled my hair!"
"Yeah, but you stood on my hand first."

No more playing referee, coach, cheerleader, doctor, nurse, chief chef, bottlewasher, taxi service, head swim coach, teacher of the two wheeler, eternal dispenser of snacks, juice and quarters for the concession stand at the community pool, kisser of boo-boos.

Absentmindedly, I pick up the dishrag and clean an already spotless table. I should get working; I have clients clamouring for work to be done, clients with checkbook in hand, eager, ready and willing to pay me, if only I can get to my computer and actually do something.

I walk over to the TV and radio, perhaps some music will help, but my finger stops just short of the button. The solitude may be disquieting, but it is somehow welcome. After all the tumultuous years, and four children who are often mistaken for two sets of twins, the silence embraces me.

Focus, Cori, focus. I command my brain, but it is not willing to comply. Like a video, I replay the days leading to the new school year. It was old hat to my oldest four, but a new experience for my youngest, and for me.

"Iím ready for school Mommy. Do you like my backpack?" His clear, high voice greeted me two days before the main event. Tears welled in his eyes when I told him he still had to get through the weekend. No weeping and hanging onto Mamaís legs for this boy. Heíd heard about the wonders of the classroom from the sibs, and was ready to join the fray.

On Monday morning, bright and early, we walk through the gates of the school, hugging old friends, greeting new ones. Moms and Dads of all shapes and sizes stood clustered with their precious gems by their sides. Tears flowed freely, more from the parents than from the kids.

Oh, I have anticipated this moment, savoured this moment for so long! I work from home, have done for seven years, ever since our second one was born. I remember clearly telling my friends I look forward to the day that all my kids are in school for at least part of the day. Why then, does it feel so hollow?

Is the wanting better than the having, or is my identity so wrapped up being so-and-soís mom? The first time I was referred to as "Warrickís mom" I knew my life had changed forever. I donít think I knew how deep Ďforeverí ran. It affected every part of me.

Lord, help me to focus. I breathe as I walk from kitchen to office.

The ringing of the phone pulls me back to reality. Then I realize I have to answer it, the lone teenager isnít here! Hey, miracle of miracles, it might even be for me!

"Good morning, Corinne Smelker here."
"Hi honey," itís my husband.
We talk about getting the kids to school, and what work I have planned, if only I can get my brain to focus!
"Well, enjoy your bon-bons and The Learning Channel," he jokingly ends the call. It is a long-standing joke between us, but we both know better.

I had dreamt of this day for so long, had even made plans on how I would spend it. I would sit down at the computer and pump out major work for my clients, and then set about writing the next great American/British/South African novel! Good grief, yet here I am staring unseeingly at my screen! It wasnít meant to be that way!

As I open my Word files, my mind settles down, and focuses on the task at hand. My phone rings again, this time it is one of my clients with some changes. Another call, another client, they know itís last minute but could I possiblyÖand so the day goes, my only interruption the phone, and the dog demanding attention. Snack time goes by unnoticed, the sun doesnít beckon me to the pool with the five kidlings, the TV is neglected, and juice is not spilt all over the counter, the floor and the fridge.

Suddenly the silence is ruptured. The front door pops open. Four little ones come tumbling in, carrying with them the scent of the outdoors, and the classroom. "Mom, mom! I made a new friend!" "Mom, can you believe I have homework and itís only the first day," "Mom, is it snack time?"

I grab them together, hold them tight and chivvy them to the clean table, "Let me get the snacks, and you can all tell me about your day, one at a time."

As I chop apples, and prepare the crackers I hear, "Iím gonna go first, Iím the oldest."
"No youíre not, Iím talking first Ďcos I got to the door first!"
"Well, it was my first day at school, I wanna go first."
"M-o-o-m! Sheís being mean!"

A smile of contentment crosses my lips. The solitude was so welcome, I got so much done, but this is where I belong.