December 11, 2013

  • Salmon Soup and Family Memories

    I was looking for a quick and warm supper for tonight.  As my mind was floundering about, I suddenly remembered that I had bought a can of salmon some time ago and put it on the shelf for such a time as this.

    Salmon Soup.

    Many was the Saturday night after a long day of cleaning and shopping and such that our tired Mama would bring out a can of salmon, warm the milk and add a few of her own touches along with a can of salmon and feed her six hungry children and husband on that can of salmon and milk from the bulk tank.  The melted butter floated in the top and the salty crackers broken up in it made a warm and nourishing soup.  She flaked the salmon small and we savored every morsel of salmon that sank in our soup bowls while we all sat around the kitchen table, and had bread with King Syrup on it to serve as an accessory to the simple meal.  Daddy probably had home canned peaches to finish things off.

    Just about the time I had made up my mind to make Salmon Soup for supper, the phone rang.  It was my Sweet Mama.  She has been spending some time with my brother, Nel, and his wife, Rose.  She gets such good care there and I’m always glad for her sake when she can go.  However, she has been sick and still sounds tight and wheezy in her voice.  Her good doctor prescribed antibiotics for her as well as an expectorant, but I’ve had some anxious thoughts since she has been gone.  Not that she would get better care if she were home, but she seems so far away.

    “What are you doing?” Her familiar voice rang cheerily over the phone line.  It is her typical question.  (There have been times when she asked that question and I didn’t want to answer and I would scramble for something to do quick so that I could answer something that would meet with her approval or that I would feel comfortable telling her I was doing.)

    This time I could tell her what I was doing for most of the day.  ”I’ve been working on my Christmas letter,” I told her.  ”And I saw the dentist this morning for an appliance for those front teeth that are hurting, and I’ve been home.  It’s been cold and snowing.  I’m getting ready to make some supper.”

    I paused and then said, “How did you make your Salmon Soup back when we were children?  I would like to make some for supper, and I’m not sure I remember what all you put into it.”

    She went over the simple steps, asked Sister in Law, Rose, how she did it and we had quite a discussion.  Suddenly, I was filled with a deep and pensive longing.

    “Oh, Mama,” I said.  ”What I wouldn’t give to be a little girl again tonight. To pull my chair up to that kitchen table with you and Daddy and all my brothers and sisters and have a bowl of your Salmon Soup.  To not have any responsibilities except to be a part of our family as a little girl . . . ”  I couldn’t go on.  The tears were clouding my voice.

    She was quiet for scarcely a second, and then she said gently, “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

    And then we were on to other things, but the longing had been stirred and it followed me the whole evening.  Certain Man and I, sitting at the counter with our bowls of Salmon Soup, were enjoying some quiet moments together, and I was still pensive.

    “Sweetheart,” I finally said, tentatively, “do you ever feel homesick to be back with all the family around the table again?”

    He looked at me puzzled and said, “Well, it would be nice, I guess, but they are all scattered, I mean, they DO come home, but I guess it’s not the same –”

    “Oh, I didn’t mean OUR children,” I hastily interrupted.  ”What I meant was when you were children.  Do you ever wish to be back around the table with your sisters and brother and Dad and Mom –”

    His eyes were suddenly guarded and he shook his head so slightly.

    “Don’t you have any good memories about being together for supper or having fun around the table–?”  My voice hung in the air, and he turned his head away.

    “Not that I can remember,” he said tightly.

    This time, my tears were not selfish.

    There are far worse things than wishing you could somehow be back in the happy, warm, embracing, comforting, encouraging memories of long ago.

    One of them is to remember your childhood and to never wish to be back there.

November 22, 2013

  • November 22, 1963 Fifty Years ago today.

    So, for those of us who can remember– Where were you and what were you doing when you heard the news that John Kennedy had been assassinated? I was a fifth grader at Greenwood Mennonite School. Carolyn West Mast was conducting art class when there a a knock on the door. She answered it, and was immediately distraught but would not tell us what had happened except to say that “Something terrible has happened.” These were the days of the Cuban Crisis, and air raid drills and I don’t know about the rest of the class, but I was sure that someone had dropped an atomic bomb on our fair land somewhere.

    Dave Hertzler was our home room teacher, and he came into the room and had us get ready for an early dismissal. We stood beside our desks, with our chairs all up on top they way we always had to before leaving and he announced in a tight and sad voice, “President Kennedy has been assassinated.” Which was the proper way to tell us except that a lot of us slower lower Delaware Mennonite elementary students didn’t know what that big word meant.

    “What??? He’s been what???”

    “Assassinated. Killed. He’s been shot.”

    Talk about terror settling into the heart of a child. I was sure the Russians were gonna’ get us for sure. But they didn’t. And the country pulled together in the next drama filled days to say Good-bye to the youngest president we had ever had. We know now that he wasn’t a good man by any moral measure, but the country loved the First Lady and the young children and the man who said, “My Fellow Americans. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

    “And the lights went out all over Camelot.”

November 21, 2013

  • Searching for a Meaningful Christmas

    He is only eleven, but he looks fifteen.  He reminds me so much of our first foster child, and when I look at him I wish that we could fill his heart as easily as we can the stomach as he shovels down his second bowl of cheddar cheese chowder, polishes off a piece of homemade bread with butter and homemade strawberry jam, then downs some ice cream.  He helped me make the chowder, following my directions with precision and energy when time was short before church the other night.  I just love him so much.

    He has been loved.  He knows he is loved, and when he writes his thankful list he always lists, “I’m thankful for my loveful family.”  He has been bullied in school, though, and he can go from calm and reasonable to rowdy and, well, “eleven year old boy” in about three seconds flat, depending on what happens.

    I’ve been searching for something suitable for my class to do for the Christmas program.  I know he can sing.  Last night, as he rattled around the sun room, waiting for us to be ready to leave for church, I was listening to the MennoniteHour Singer’s Christmas Album.  I enjoy it greatly, and that is an understatement.  The songs bring back a thousand memories and there are times when I feel like a little girl in the living room of a house that still stands on Greenwood Road, listening to the old stereo, a boxy thing on four legs, while the rich, full music of four part harmony spills over and around.  It is my childhood Christmas and all is right with the world.

    So I listen to the old, old songs of Christmas and ponder ways to work them into something that would be doable for my class.  And then the sound of a male voice comes out of my kitchen CD player.

    Sweet little Jesus boy
    They made you be born in a manger
    Sweet little holy child
    We didn’t know who you were
    Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord
    To take our sins away
    Our eyes were blind, we could not see
    We didn’t know who you were

    Long time ago
    You were born 
    Born in a manger Lord
    Sweet little Jesus boy
    The world treats you mean Lord
    Treats me mean too
    But that’s how things are down here
    We don’t know who you are

    You have told us how
    We are trying
    Master you have shown us how
    Even when you were dying
    Just seems like we can’t do right
    Look how we treated you
    But please Sir forgive us Lord
    We didn’t know it was you

    Sweet little Jesus boy
    Born a long time ago
    Sweet little holy child
    We didn’t know who you were

    Suddenly, I got this sweet, sweet picture.  This eleven year old prince is standing in the candlelight at the Christmas program of our little country church, and he is singing this song.  Someone is accompanying him on a quiet guitar, and the congregation is moved. It is a holy moment.

    I was so excited.  I thought about it, got more excited, and then called him out to the kitchen.

    “Do you like to sing?”  ( I thought he did.  I mean, he sings in church . . .)

    “Not really.”

    “Oh, come on.  Can you sing?”

    “Um.  Not really.  Not very good.”

    “Would you want to sing something for the Christmas program?  I mean, if someone would help you learn it and help you practice?”

    “Um.  I don’t know.  I don’t really think so.  Maybe.”

    “Listen to this song –”  I back up the track and the music fills the room again.  I can tell he isn’t impressed.  At all.  ”Just listen!  Here.  Where it talks about ‘the world treat you mean, Lord.  Treat me mean, too.’  That is something you can kinda identify with –”

    I can tell I’ve lost him.  We scurry around, getting ready for church and then get off.  Later, on the way home, the kids are talking about the Christmas program and what they would like to do.

    “Ms. Mary Ann wants me to sing this old slow song,” I hear him tell the others. And then they are off!

    The dreams of old songs by candlelight die quickly as they talk of writing their own rap for the program.  I hear “manger” and “danger” and some pretty creative ideas floating around and I look again at this sixty year old heart that has a hard time letting go and wonder when I will learn.

    Isn’t it far better for them to write about Jesus in ways that are meaningful to them, with songs they can “stand” and that spark interest in their hearts and start their creative juices going than for me to get my picture perfect cameo in the Christmas program?

    I suppose so, young prince.  That’s why I gave you and your friends permission to try to see what you can come up with.  God help me to keep my wits about me!  I’m just not a jammin’ and a tappin’ and a rappin’ woman.  Ask Youngest Son.  He knows what happens to this mama when there is just too much of a hip-de-do-dah thing agoin’.

    And with that, I leave you with this final tip of the hat to what I saw in my head for a few brief minutes:

October 20, 2013

  • Colossian 4 makes its inroads in my comfort

    5 Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. 6 When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.

    Being kind has always been so important to me.  My Daddy often said, “It’s always right to be kind,” and he proved it over and over again by the way he lived and the way he dealt with people.

    Yesterday morning in my quiet time, this verse popped out at me, impressing itself enough upon me that I stopped and wrote it off and stuck it up to my cupboard door.  My intentions were good.

    We had our annual bonfire and hayride last night.  I have been looking forward to it for so long, and I really wanted everyone to have a great time.  But a family showed up an hour and fifteen minutes early with an extra four kids in tow in addition to their own four and you know what?  I kinda blew my good intentions.

    It could be said that the children broke every trike on the place except one.  It could be said that the mother had been asked to not bring extra children, but had said that if she did, she would watch them  – and didn’t.  It could be said that they went through the line first, took an inordinate amount of food as well as a lions share of the best desserts and this after bringing nothing to the potluck.  It could be said that the mother, instead of watching the kids was in the house trying to convince me to buy her a new phone and put minutes on it.  And it could be said that when it came time for the hay ride, both parents went and hid in the car and sent seven of the eight children on the hay ride unsupervised.  At least by them.

    But it could also be said that my heart was very wrong.  I did not even think of my Bible verses for the day.  I was able to respond with kindness to the four extra children.  They were sweet, respectful and grateful.  But I chafed.  Oh, how I chafed at being so inconvenienced by the early arrival and the intensity of the whole evening.

    You could say that the lights went out in my heart.  And I am not at all sure that my words were kind.  The thing is, God said that I should make the most of every opportunity.  Why?  So that I, as a believer, will be able to speak hopeto the people who are without hope.

    “It’s always right to be kind.”

    Last night, I got it wrong.

October 15, 2013

  • Thoughts on this October Day

    I turned 60 today.

    I don’t quite know how I got this old this quickly.  I don’t understand how this person who feels like myself is trapped in this body that the calendar says is 60.  I’ve never minded the passing of years, to be honest with you.  But maybe I just never took time to think about the sand in the hourglass and how it would, some day, run out.  I look at the years that lie behind me and realize, with the proverbial jolt, that the years ahead are far, far less than all those happy years that I’ve already lived.

    Today has been such a happy day.  Each one of my siblings wished me a happy birthday.  My far away Oldest Brother and Middle Brother called, as did Youngest Brother.  I saw Youngest Sister at Sweet Mama’s this morning and talked to Middle Sister on the phone this afternoon.  And all the offspringin’s and the ones they love have called or texted or visited.  I have a little grandson in Ohio who shares my birthday, and I even talked to him on the phone tonight.  It has been a glorious day.

    I’ve done some thinking this week about many things.  It’s been a season of missing my Daddy rather intensely.  I cannot always say why things sit heavy on our hearts at particular times, but it seems to me, after what is now the eighth summer without him, that the one thing that triggers it for me is putting the garden to rest for the season.  Certain Man has been taking down “them thar tomato thingies” and mowing off the spent vegetable plants.  I gathered the peppers and green tomatoes last week and made hot dog relish.  The few ripe tomatoes got put into a few last quarts of juice.

    But the pole limas are still standing.  Yesterday, I picked what I am pretty certain is my last big picking from the twenty three plants that made it through this summer.  They have done exceptionally well this year.  When I finished the last bags for the freezer last night, I realized that I have seventy 3-cup bags in the freezer from this summer.  I’ve done them along, four bags here, six bags there, and a time or two there has been ten.  Wonderfully tender, vibrant green, and so, so good.  I am so grateful for the way the bags have added up this summer.

    It is the eighth summer without our Dad.  When Daddy died in December of 2005, there were so many things that were the essence of him that we knew we could never replicate, never replace.  The man he was, and his influence on our lives.  His prayers.  His vibrant interest in each of us, and his steady encouragement.  We really can do nothing to fill in these spaces that were left when God called him home to Heaven.

    But there were other things that we could do.  I could grow lima beans.  At least I thought I could.  I honestly didn’t know very much about it, seriously had no idea how much WORK was involved, but decided that it would be one way that I could maybe feel close to this man who was so HUGE in my life and was suddenly so gone.  Maybe I was somehow trying to capture a tangible part of Mark Yoder, Sr., and make it my own.  Certain Man was more than willing for me to try, and in the summer of 2006, at my request, he built the pole, wire and twine lattices for two rows of beans.  He asked for advice and got healthy plants from the experts.  He did the planting and the weeding and slowly the plants grew and blossomed and began growing beans.

    I was impatient for beans.  The first ones I picked made barely a cup in the smallest pan I had.  They were so good, and Certain Man and I shared them, delighted with the first fruits of our labor.  Then I checked and rechecked and finally decided that I could actually do a real picking.  I think I got a basket.  They were little and piddly and wonderful flavor, but clearly not ready.  I’ve thought so much about that summer as I’ve picked big, full pods of limas off of my plants this year.  The truth was, when I barely got anything in those first pickings, I grew more and more discouraged.  My grief was so deep and terrible, and when I was in the bean patch, I missed Daddy with an ache that often had me wiping tears on my sleeves as I searched for the beans.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I had to feel each bean to see if it was ready, and the task seemed interminable.  I found myself more and more just staying out of the patch, not thinking about the passing of the days.

    And then we had a hard, killing frost.  The leaves on the bean vines shriveled and died and the pods that I had never picked hung brown on the vines.  It looked like thousands of pods; good, good lima beans that had gone to waste.  I hated the sight so much.  Certain Man finally took them down, put the garden to rest, and I didn’t have to look at them anymore.  I didn’t know if I could even try to raise limas again.

    Certain Man is not a man who allows me to wallow.  He understands grief.  He’s certainly had his share, and honest emotions are treated with gentle kindness.  But he dislikes moping almost as much as he likes lima beans.  And he had built those really good supports and I’m not sure he even asked me the next year if I wanted to have pole limas or not.  Had he asked, though, I probably would have said “yes.”  Spring always does that to me, and there is a hope and a deep belief that this year things will go better than they ever have, that the garden will stay weed-free, that there will be not produce left go to waste, and that no one will resent anything that might grow there.  Anyhow, Certain Man planted limas again in the summer of 2007 and things went a whole lot better.

    Each year I think I’ve gotten more comfortable with our patch of beans.  I often think of Daddy while I’m out there picking, but I seldom need my sleeve for more than wiping sweat off my face.  The memories are warm and good and they often make me smile when I remember the man who probably picked thousands of bushels of lima beans in his time.  I remember his eyes and the laugh lines around them.  I remember the way he would sit on his chair and shell beans with drive and attention.  I think about how he liked to get a pan for the grandchildren and rope them into helping.  I remember his delight in a pot of lima beans, made by Sweet Mama, exactly the way he liked them, and the way he could put them away at a meal.

    There are life lessons here, I know, and over the summer, there have been many life applications for this old gal that came from the bean patch.  But on this night, of the milestone birthday and realizing that Dad only had 16 years left when he was my age, and thinking about being faithful in small things and leaving memories behind us, and how, no matter how much people may want us to stay and think they need us, we don’t really have a choice as to when God calls us home– all these things somehow feel like they really have to do with the lessons I’ve learned in two rows of pole limas in a small garden patch on a Delaware Poultry farm.

    Common, ordinary days that are touched with Heaven.

August 28, 2013

  • This morning in the bean patch, it was easy to feel like complaining.  It was muggy, and the flies were biting and leaving blotches of blood on my ankles.  I searched about the leaves and on the vines and the pickins were slim in comparison to other years.  The stink bugs had laid eggs on some of the beans and the wasps and the bumblebees droned about.

    Sometimes when I’m in the bean patch, I find it helps to sing, and often, because I cannot think of what to sing next, I start with the alphabet and try to sing a song for each letter.

    A — All Thing Bright and Beautiful

    B — Be Still and Know 

    C — Come, Ye Disconsolate

    D — Dare to be a Daniel

    E — Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before

    F — Follow the Path of Jesus

    G — Going Down for the Last Time (That’s how you found me, Lord)

    H — Heaven will surely be worth it all

    I — I Owe the Lord a Morning Song.

    And “I” always gets me.  If there is any song that I remember us singing as a family in family worship, it was this song.  So much so that I remember every word of every verse and am able to sing it (if the tears don’t choke it out, that is).  I think it must have been one of my Daddy’s favorite songs, his strong tenor would swoop and soar over our childish voices and Mama’s clear soprano.  When I look at when it was written, and by whom, I realize that it was one of the “newer songs” of the church in my Daddy’s youth, written by a Mennonite minister, Amos Forrer Herr, one Sunday morning when the snow was too deep for his horse to make it to church.

    It’s a good song for the bean patch on a morning in August when you are running a race against the rain.  It makes the memories brighter, the load lighter, the job seem shorter, and the heart glad.

    The next time you have a job that you don’t feel like doing, try this little exercise — with your own songs, of course.

    It will help.  I promise.  Almost every single thing except maybe those biting flies.  

    You can use insect repellent for that,

    The songs are good for the rest of what ails you.



August 27, 2013

  • “. . . That Shadows fall on Brightest hours –”

    This weekend was the kind of stuff that the best of memories are made of.  All the offspringin’s home, and the four grandchildren.  This Mama/Grammy was at the height of happiness.

    Before the light dawned on Friday morning, everyone was in Delaware.  There were twelve bodies sleeping in the nooks and crannies of the old farmhouse.  Middle Daughter had offered to make English Breakfast for the family and I slept solidly for the four hours that I was able to snatch after the last conversation was done and Blind Linda and Our Girl Audrey needed to get up for center.

    There are always so many things that demand attention when a family is together, but this Grammy has been looking forward for many a day to having all four of the grandchildren together and going outside to play.  It didn’t take too long on this gorgeous Friday morning to gather them up and take them out to the blacktop circle where they could ride their trikes and various wheeled toys to their hearts’ content.  We took a long golf cart ride, and looked at all sorts of things around the back pasture.  Four children, age four and under, are wonderful companions for a grammy on a nature ride on a cool morning in August in Delaware, and the conversations were to be cherished.

    We came back up to the house, and the boys and Charis were busily riding around and around the circle.  We have some specific rules in place at this house, and the one that I am not in the habit of bending (ever!) is that they may not go beyond the front walk in the driveway.  However, for these children, ages 4, 3, 2, and 1, the rule was different.  They had to stay in the circle area.  I was keeper of the lane and watcher of the children.  We were having a wonderful time.

    But then I noticed that K, the two year old, had started to stray towards the lane.  I was probably twenty feet away and I said in a calm voice, “K-honey, stay here with Grammy.  You can’t go to the road.  You might get hurt.”

    He put it in high gear and headed straight for the road.  I started in his direction.

    “K!  Stop!  You cannot go to the road.”  I might as well have been talking to a post.  This little guy really put it into gear.  He was riding a very free wheeling little tractor that was powered by pushing off the ground with his feet.  He was exactly the right size.  With each push of his powerful little legs, the toy was traveling an unbelievable distance.  I started to run.  It became obvious that he was not going to stop.  I began screaming at the top of my lungs.

    “K!!!  Stop!!!  You are going to get killed!!!  Stop!!!  K!!!  Stop NOW!!!”  I screamed and ran and screamed and ran.  Every time I almost got a grasp on him, he gave another shove and flew another ten feet.  There were no appendages on this little toy to grab.  Down the lane we went, little guy laughing like it was a big joke.  Grammy desperate and frantic and so, so scared, running as fast as her two replaced knees and almost 60 year old body could manage.

    He never broke his stride for a second, out past the end of the fence,  and straight onto the road.  A car passed on the other side just as he got to the road, and he plowed on.  I was so traumatized I couldn’t think straight.  The way our lane is ordered, people coming down the road cannot see anything coming out until they are beyond the fence with the rose hedge going out to the road.  I barely even looked to see if anything was coming, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a car at our neighbor’s house two doors down with two more cars behind it.  I dashed out onto the road and grabbed the little guy and tried to pull him and the toy off the road.  He started to resist, and I picked his sturdy little body up, threw it under one arm grabbed the toy with the other and flew out of harm’s way.

    I was so distraught and upset that I didn’t even look to see who had brought their car to a complete stop on the road.  I couldn’t bear to look at them.  I have wished a thousand times since that I would have gone and hugged them and thanked them and offered to do something for them in sincere gratitude, but I just couldn’t think.  My knees would scarcely function, and my heart was going two hundred beats a minute.  I carried him rather unceremoniously under my arm like a sack of wheat until we got to the edge of the garage.  I think it was then that I realized that Charis had followed me out, adding her voice to the fracas.  She was also more than a little worried. 

    “Come on, kids,” said this very trembly Grammy.  ”We are going in.”

    “Not want go in,” said a determined little voice from under my arm.  

    I pulled him into an upright position and said in a tired but convincing voice, “We are going in.  We need to tell Daddy and Mommy that you got onto the road.  Grammy cannot watch you if you do not listen.  You could have gotten hit out there and been killed.”  He squirmed and fussed and tried to get down.  It would have taken a much stronger guy than he was to pry him loose.

    S and L began to protest as well, and Grammy put on her terrible voice.  ”We are going in.  NOW.  All of you.  Maybe you can come back out later, but we need to go in now!”  For some reason, there was no more protest.  I herded the other three and carried K into the kitchen that was milling about with people.  Our house is so tight that no one had even heard the terrified screaming outside.

    “We almost had a disaster,” I announced.  Everyone was instantly to attention, and I retold the tale, out of breath, still almost unable to keep from shaking violently and still scared spitless.  K’s parents were immediately on it, and I left him to them and their wisdom.  I found me a chair and sat down.  I felt so terrible, and all the “what if’s, and “might have been’s” and horrible scenarios went crashing through my brain.  I  have such a crazy imagination, and when I closed my eyes, I could see a crumpled and broken little boy body flying through the air after being hit by a vehicle.  Our road is so busy, and the possibility was so real.  I wanted to weep and weep and weep.

    “Mama,” said Eldest Son gently after things had settled down with the parental admonition.  ”You are hating it, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, I am,” I said tearily.  ”It could have been so terrible.”

    “Mom,” he said a bit firmly, “you are going to have to let it go.  It didn’t happen.  That’s what matters.  It didn’t happen.”

    “I know, but–” (I just had to say it–) “I could not have borne it it if something had happened to him while I was supposed to be watching him.  And it so easily could have!”

    “I know, Mama,” he said, ” and I think about it, too.  It would have been terrible for something to happen to him, and I don’t know what we would have done, legally and all, (since the boys are still under Ohio’s Foster Care System) but the truth is, it didn’t.   And we have to think about that.

    I was comforted some, but it didn’t help much, to be honest.  My knees felt like jelly for the whole rest of the day.  My heart was given to strange accelerations whenever certain reminders popped up,  and my whole body felt like it had run a marathon.  Well, maybe a hundred foot dash.

    He tried it again, later that day when his Mommy and Daddy were there.  They are younger than me, Eldest Son has a more terrible voice and longer legs and he got stopped before he got too far.  We parked a car in the driveway at the front door then, so there would at least be an obstacle.  And continued to keep close watch.

    This weekend was a wonderful time.  We saw so many people that we love, and had just the best time ever!  I don’t think our wedding reception was as much fun as this party.  (But then, I don’t remember much of that wedding reception, to tell you the truth!)  And our offspringin’s did themselves proud.  I cannot find fault with a thing.

    But there was an understanding that made its quiet spot in my heart through all the festivities — the knowledge that all of this could have been changed in a single split second.  The realization that every single minute of happiness that we enjoy is truly a gift from God, and that He is to be praised for His watchful care and generous provision for us.  Does that mean that if K had gotten hit on the road that God wasn’t on His job?  No.  It means that God is God, and that for whatever reason, He protected and provided and allowed us to have a wonderful time with friends and family instead of grieving a terrible accident.

    And Lord Jesus, Master of the Wind, Maker of the Waves, Blessed Controller of All Things, my Savior and Lord, I love you. 

    My heart gives grateful praise.

August 19, 2013


    So tonight Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in Law got a whole lot of books ready for shipping tomorrow.  I wanted to help.  I wanted to write the addresses.  I wanted to rejoice over every single order.  I wanted to laugh and exclaim and do all sorts of celebrating.

    But I couldn’t.


    I was too busy immersing my left hand into a two gallon pitcher of ice water.


    You see, on this gloriously happy day, I steamed more than grapes.


    My trusty steamer betrayed me and sprayed scalding juice on my left hand, seriously burning my index finger.
    (There are actually other blisters that aren’t visible here.  This is the impressive one.)

    It’s been really painful, but it is now almost five hours later and I think I just might live.

    The laundry is done, but my kitchen is a disaster.


    (It looks pretty bad, I know, but it would look even worse if it weren’t for the faithful ministrations of Eldest Daughter who took care of seriously necessary things and helped in a dozen integral ways (I love you, Christina!) and Beloved Son in Law who helped fill some of the jars with juice when I couldn’t think straight for the pain.  Besides, If I just go in there and close some cupboard doors and load the dishwasher and put some pans in to soak, it will look even more better!  

    Tomorrow is another day.  I have so much to be grateful for tonight.  I have my van back and it is beautiful and it is running.  Youngest Daughter made her trip to Cedarville, Ohio with many delays but no accident, though she saw such along the way.  The washer and dryer worked faithfully and well, and the laundry is pretty much done except for folding towels — which Middle Daughter always does for me.

    And so, even though I can scarcely bend this finger, and even though I may have trouble getting to sleep tonight, I will count my blessings and smile when I try to sleep, and pray when I can’t.

    I love you all out there who have come, called, e-mailed and messaged me to get a copy of the book on this first marketing day.  It really, really surprises me — and humbles me, and makes me glad that I listened to Beloved Son in Law and ordered more than a hundred for our first run.  I Love you, Jesse.  THANKS.

    And Lord Jesus, Master of the Wind, Maker of the Waves, and Blessed Controller of All Things, I love you, too. My heart gives grateful praise.




August 18, 2013

  • So you think you want a book?

    book front       Book Back

    My book is ready to sell.  

    If you want one, you can email us at or message me here and we’ll either mail one out or set one aside for you.  

    The cost is $14.00 each if you get it this weekend at the Anniversary Celebration or pick it up at our house.

    If you want it mailed, shipping and handling is 2.50 for the first book and if you order more than one, each additional one is an extra .50 for shipping.  

    You are welcome to pick them up at my house.  Or you can order and we will mail and invoice once we have your address and order.


  • Sunday Musings

    I always thought that my Daddy would live a long, long time.  I thought he would be one of these wizened old men, running around, working and gardening and visiting and traveling.  I thought that he would continue to have things to say for our church and that he would be a wellspring of counsel and encouragement to people in general, his family in particular.

    I don’t know why he had to die at 76.  Maybe it was the exposure to the insecticides and pesticides that he used on the farm that turned his skin yellow in the summer breezes when he sprayed his fields.  They didn’t have the restrictions and warnings and even the protection then that they do now.  He didn’t like to farm.  The work was hard and so often things were unpredictable in the un-irrigated acres that were Fair Hope Farm.  I suspect that he welcomed the chemicals that seemed to make life easier.  It’s hard to farm with a two bottom plow and a two row cultivator.  It was far easier than the horses that his Papa used to work the same fields through the Great Depression and the decades following, but the work was non-stop and even with the “modern conveniences” it was a grind.  

    When Daddy went to work at the Country Rest Home in the early 70′s, he was still a young man in his early 40′s.  As a family, we were uncertain as to how this would work out and we actually tried to talk him out of it.  He said that he would follow our wishes, but we knew that he desperately wanted something different than the farm.  In the end, Daddy did what he wanted to do.  (As he usually did!)  There were challenges there, and he wasn’t always happy, but he had a dream, and he held on and he expanded his life beyond the confines of his business and he did well.  Not only with the vision that made the Country Rest Home what it is today, but in things that involved relationships, church planting, people business and especially his six children, their spouses and his 27 grandchildren.  He lived to see eight of those grandchildren married, and to hold some of his great grandchildren.

    Yesterday, as I was contemplating where my life is now, and the fact that I have a book that we are ready to market, that Daniel and I are ready to celebrate 40 years together, the offspringin’s are coming home, and I turn 60 in two short months — it seemed like my mind is unable to shake thoughts of my Daddy.  

    What would he think?  

    What would he say?  

    Would he be proud of his girl?  

    He was such an encourager, and he often gave me reason to think thoughts way bigger than myself.  I think he would be pleased.  He wouldn’t know quite what to think about some of the stories.  He would be surprised to find himself in some. 

    I don’t know what he would say, or think or do.

    But I wish I did.

    I wish I did.

    I just never thought that one of the by products of this dream come true would be fresh grief over a loss that is 2799 days old.

    Can he really be so long gone?

    It feels so new.