Monthly Archives: March 2006


      I was reading over on “Gracegivens” web site about her sweet little Sarah and her bug situation, and it sounds to me like another little girl I know.  Eldest Daughter has never outgrown her aversion to crawly things.  We have some priceless stories about this peculiarity, believe me.
       But it also brought back a bittersweet memory of something that happened at our house a long time ago.   It was summer.  We had just adopted Eldest Daughter, we had two foster children, and I was pregnant with Middle Daughter.  I had alot to learn.  And I was, unfortunately, a very determined woman. 
       One Sunday afternoon our foster daughter, Anna, who was 11, came out of her bedroom, very upset and insisting that I come and kill a brown spider for her.  I was napping, I think, and I told her to take the flyswatter in there and kill it.  It was no big deal. 
      She said, “But Mom, it is so big!” 
      I said, “Anna, for pity sakes, just go kill it!”  She cried, protested mightily, and finally I decided that I would go in there and “help” her kill it even if I had to hold her hand over the flyswatter to do it.  Back the hall we went, loaded for bear. 
      “Where’s this spider, Anna?”  She looked around.  
      “It was there, on the bed,” she whimpered.  I marched the two of us over there, and lo and behold, there was the biggest spider I had ever seen.  It was humongous.  It really took me aback!  To be honest, it was formidable. But then, I had a dilemma on my hands.  What should I do?  I had said that she had to help me kill it.  I was determined that she would.  So while she closed her eyes and pulled back, I held onto her hand that was on the handle of the flyswatter, and we began flailing away.  What a sight we must have been!!!  She was wailing, and of course, our aim was off, and the last thing I saw of that spider, it was disappearing between the bed and the wall into some mysterious crack somewhere, never to be seen again.  
     Then I really had a dilemma on my hands.  Guess who didn’t want to sleep in her bed???  And guess who was starting to feel really sympathetic about that strong preference?   It took some working through, believe me.  But eventually, we did get it settled to everyone’s apparent satisfaction.
     You know what?  I learned alot about myself as a Mama from that experience.  First of all, in matters of spiders and crawly things and such, which are neither “right” nor “wrong” it is best to err on the side of mercy.  I have wished a thousand times that I would have just gone back there, killed that spider for my Anna girl and been done with it.  I wanted to teach her courage and I wanted her to have the confidence that she could take care of herself.  My intentions were not necessarily bad.
      But I believe that what she saw was a Mama who needed more to be “right” and “the boss” than one who cared about her deepest fears.  I have always been so sorry.  And this was one child that I haven’t had the chance to make it up to over the years.  She was adopted to another family and we lost touch with her. 
      Sometimes I wonder about what she remembers of the sixteen months that she spent in our home.  I hope she remembers riding behind Certain Man in the wagon part of the lawn mower while he mowed lawns.  I hope that she remembers that, for those months at least, she had a Daddy who was never inconvenienced by her, allowed her to tag along in whatever he was doing, whether gardening, building something, or just cleaning up the yard, and always treated her with respect and love.  I hope that she remembers bedtime prayers, new clothes for school, hugs and family trips.  She may.  But I bet she remembers a big brown spider that got away, and a Mama who really didn’t understand what was in her heart.
       Anna-girl, wherever you are today, and where ever life has taken you, I wish you love.  I hope that there is someone who kills spiders for you and understands why you are so afraid of them.  I hope that you have a little girl that looks just like you with freckles and red hair and that she has a Daddy who loves her and loves you and is never inconvenienced by you.  I pray that you remember that you gave your heart to Jesus, and in all the paths your life has taken, I pray that you have never let go of this One Friend who will always understand you, never leave you, never forsake you.  Today, you are a woman of 36, but to us, you will forever be 11 years old, sitting in our hearts in that Anna-shaped hole.  Ah, girlie, what we wouldn’t give to see you again! 



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    Yesterday afternoon was anything but a day of rest for a crowd of people that gathered at the Riehl/Sharp farm to clean up.  It was, at the very least, a most memorable time, but the word that came up over and over again was “Fun!”  
     How could a tragedy like this take on the proportions of “fun?”  I don’t know, but there was such a spirit of brotherhood, so many good conversations and enjoyable joking between the men as they worked so hard to get things under cover before dark, so much good fellowship between the wives and daughters as they got food ready, all that can be said was that it really was a most enjoyable time together.
     Some of you may have heard that there was going to be a clean-up frolic there on Tuesday evening for whoever could come to work until dark, but this morning the insurance adjuster made some changes in the plans.  Clean-up cannot begin until the Fire Marshal determines cause of fire, and it is uncertain when he can be there.  So the clean-up plans are on hold until the Fire Marshal gets there.  I will post a notice here of when that will be.
    In the meantime, thank God for the closed in greenhouses, for systems, although somewhat primitive that are up and running to feed the tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.  Also, even though the greenhouses are up and running, there has been significant loss to the crops — particularly the tomatoes.  Pray that Calvin and Kathy, in counsel with Menno and Lydia, will know what is the best course of action.  Pray for quick replacement of the things they need to keep operating.  Pray that God will bless this family.  It has been heartwarming to hear the positive attitudes and gratefulness expressed when it would be easy to be downhearted and discouraged.


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Urgent prayer request

      Late last night, the family who moved yesterday, Calvin and Kathy Sharp, suffered a fire in the supply room and sales area of their greenhouses.  The damage was limited, thankfully, mostly to those areas, and the greenhouses were not significantly damaged.  The greatest financial loss involved the supply room with the necessary fertilizers and supplies so integral to this large operation.  The sales room is pretty much a total loss.  The cause of the fire is not known at this time, but it would appear that it had to do with the wood stove that is used to heat the greenhouses.  Menno and Lydia came down to do what they can to help, but there will probably be opportunity for the community to help out with clean up and such.  Please pray for Calvin and Kathy and their family.  As you can imagine, this is a most difficult set-back. 


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     What a perfect day!  A family from church was moving today, and what a great day to move!  Just sunshine and perfect temperatures and many wonderful helping hands to make the things move smoothly. 
     Riding down the road beside niece Maria, on the way to the new house and lunch, Maria says, “I wonder what people do when they have to move and don’t have a church family.”
     “They hire a moving company.” says I, “and look what they miss!”
     It was such a nice day.  I am so tired tonight, but I keep thinking about the faces of the people who were helping, straining to move furniture, gathering to eat soup and sandwiches in the noontime sunshine, the boxes that were emptied and stuff that was put away.  I remember Young Emily, helping with all her might and main to do anything that her hands could find to do.  She unwrapped kitchen stuff, put away spices, and trundled load after load of trash.  She carted the huge, flattened cardboard boxes to her Aunt Hilda’s van for recycling, and just was the greatest help.  The teenagers were busy setting up bedrooms and getting the beds together so the family could sleep tonight.  What a great thing to belong to a group of people that love to help each other.  And it wasn’t just our little church, but many others joined to make the day a great success.
      And then, tonight Certain Man planted his early vegetable garden.  He has been itchy these past few days, thinking it is warm enough to get in there and plant.  He worked up the patch a few weeks ago, and has kept running the tiller over and over it.  So today, he sent Middle Daughter to the feed store while the rest of us were helping with the move (she was taking care of Blind Linda, working on school and trying to get over this upper respiratory bug that has been going around) and carefully instructed her as to what to purchase.  So tonight he planted his red potatoes, his radishes, onions and even a row of peas.  It looks wonderful now, and he will plant other things later.  Funny how Spring always makes us both so optimistic about the garden. 
      He also put the Purple Martin pole up.  We are trying the gourds for the first time this year, and he is moving the location of the pole.  We have never had a bit of success with Martins, and he hopes to change that.  When I was a little girl, my Sweet Mama wanted Martins so badly.  She would get Daddy to put the houses up and she would stand out there and call, “Come, Martins, Come Martins!”  And it seemed to work, because she always got lots of Martins.  (I may need to try that!)
     And now it is after 6:30 and I have oodles to do to get ready for tomorrow.  Have a blessed, restful Sunday, all of you.  And remember — the best way to spend Sunday Morning is with God’s people in God’s House.  If you at all can, go to Church!


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       Did I hear someone knocking???
       Well, yes, I have been up since 5:30.  I find that if I don’t get up and get my morning’s work done before going downstairs it just doesn’t get done.  And I HATE going to my room at night and finding the bed unmade.  Certain Man laughs at me because I will make it before I get into it because those rumpled covers just BOTHER me.  Yes, well, we all have our idiosyncrasies.  Another one I have is that the closet door must be SHUT before I can really sleep.  I started that early in our marriage because I thought it bothered Certain Man.  Found out later that he shut it because he thought it bothered me. Now we are both crazy together and have to have it closed before we can really sleep.  It must be TRADITION, I guess.  (I’m pretty sure that it has nothing with obsessive/compulsive disorder.)
       But the real question of the hour — Did the change in the bed covers aid the sleep process?  Absolutely!   I slept like a rock.  (Of course, the fact that my tooth did not hurt, that I had a day when I hardly had time to think, and a later than anticipated bedtime probably figured into it.)  However, I had a much better feeling inside whenever I thought of those familiar blankets and the good rest that awaited me.  So there you have it, gals.  Half the sleep problems in the world would be fixed if people would just haul out their old blankets and bedspreads and be content.
      And on that note, I leave you to get on with a day that promises to be beautiful.  I heard on NPR this morning that they expect Delaware to hit the 60’s today, temp wise.  What was that old saying about March “In like a lamb, out like a lion?”  We may have some reckoning to do yet. 
       Blessings for a wonderful day!


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CM and CMW and the Quilt

     Now it came to pass that Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife have been married for nearly 33 years.  And in that time, there have been relatively few squabbles over small things like blankets and who got their fair share.  There has been peaceable agreement over such things as room temperature, how many blankets and even the firmness and size of the mattress and pillows. 
    Several years ago (nearly ten, to be exact) a Hispanic friend who worked in a local stitching factory gave CMW a large flowery bedspread that has been the covering of choice and that, coupled with a sheet in the summer and a very large fuzzy blanket in the winter, has been all that was needed for warmth most of these years.
     However, within the last year there have been several things that have marred the peace at the Church of the Inner Spring.  Mental Pause with its heat flashes and irritability and sleep disturbances has made some minor inroads into the established patterns. Aching joints and changing schedules and adult children have also made for some differences in sleep habits. And then something else came along that further upset the balance.  The QUILT.
     CMW is not a quilter.  In fact, in her cedar chest there resides a very old quilt top that was given to her by an old friend, Mary Belle Hostetler, for a wedding gift that has never been quilted.  Once upon a time, CM and CMW were given a beautiful friendship quilt by the church they were leaving when they moved from Ohio to Delaware, but it was loved and used into great disarray and finally put on the shelf.  Other than that, not one solitary homemade quilt has ever been in CMW’s possession. 
      The interest in quilts and the desirability of quilts has not been lost on CMW.  She was not consumed by a longing for one, but thought it might be nice to own just one.  So when she was visiting her friend, Bev, a few years ago, and Friend Bev’s Mother had numerous quilt tops that she was working on, it was arranged to purchase a very nice looking non-descript sort of quilt and Friend Bev’s Mother agreed to quilt it for CMW.  Nearly two years ago, this project was finished, and the quilt duly sent and it resided in the closet for about a year until CMW had the urge to put it on her bed one day, and it looked very nice there, indeed.  It actually was perfect in color and size for the summer months, and when winter finally came, the weather was so mild that an occasional blanket thrown over all was enough to keep CM and CMW in comfort.
       Then Certain Man took it upon himself to lose a few pounds.  This always is accompanied by a shift in body temperature for him.  He feels like he is freezing alot of the time.  So, CMW took it upon herself to find a velux blanket that was adequate to cover the bed, but did not stick out below the quilt.  This did not lend itself well to one of the parties wrapping it all around themselves in an attempt to keep warm, but usually it did not matter too much as the other party was usually affected by the aforementioned “mental pause” and had no interest in wrapping up in a thick velux blanket. 
      However, in the mornings, there was evidence of struggle with quilt and blanket on one side of the bed and sheet gathered morosely on the other.  When CMW made the bed in the morning, she pondered about whether two people with such disarray of blankets and sheets could have slept well.  She had a vague, disquieted feeling that maybe neither party was getting enough rest.
     Then CMW developed an abscess on a molar that she had been trying to get her dentist to do something about for several months.  No longer could it be a “wait and see” proposition.  This thing was hurting with a vengeance, causing much nocturnal pain and wakefulness, and making CMW tearful over many things.  And it came to pass that one of the things that was troubling her very much was that there were great snatchings going on over the blankets at night.  And it was being done under the great cover (excuse the pun) of sleep, and she was as guilty as the second party of being disruptive.  Certain Man would turn over in his sleep and hitch the quilt and blanket around his strong shoulder and it would conveniently leave Certain Man’s Wife and snuggle onto his back while she lay out in the cold, clutching the sheet.  Now if she had been sleeping in her usual deep way, she would never have even noticed, but most of the time, she was half way between sleep and misery and thinking that she was almost asleep when the covers would whoosh off of her that would only make her more miserable.  So she got to holding onto the edge of the blanket and quilt with a firm grasp and in her half-sleep, would hang on for dear life when the covers started to move and that would actually pull her over sideways when her bed partner would decide it was time to turn over.  Now CMW did not BLAME him, as it is no fun to turn over and have cold air blasting down your back, but these narrow blankets were obviously causing a problem between two usually agreeable bed partners.  It was making them tired and irritable and the tooth and medication and freezing man and blanket grabbing woman were all being aggravated beyond what was necessary.
     This morning, Certain Woman looked at her bleary image in the mirror and pondered the options.  Suddenly, it looked very simple.  Where were the big old fuzzy blanket and the big flowery bedspread?  Right there in the closet.  It was time for a change.  In a great burst of inspiration, she took the offending blanket and quilt off  and replaced it with the familiar generous coverings of last winter.  It looked so familiar that Certain Man, in from the chicken house and dressing for the office never even noticed.  Certain Man’s Wife looks forward to a good night’s rest and behold, peace hath returned to the Church of the Inner Spring.


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How can a day as golden as this one be so full of tears?
With little boys that laugh and play and dance upon the floor.
Beloved Eldest Daughter to share morning hours with.
Crocus flowers pushing bravely through the cold soil,
Making splashes of color against the grey landscape.
And hope. (I wonder how the tulips are doing, hidden as they are.)
Good friends to share conversation with, and answered prayer.
So, then, why the tears?
Lord Jesus, would it help to say the things that spill from my heart
In saltwater down my cheeks and drip off my chin?
Would it help?  I think not. 
So let me now, as here indulged,
Be stronger, and more free to let it go.
Some days will be like this, I’ve come to know.
And tomorrow, brighter, washed clean by this day’s tears.


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