Monthly Archives: February 2007

Last night, Certain Man came home from the office carrying a Wal-mart bag.


friendship bread 2

In the bag was a gallon size ziplock bag, containing a yellowish, creamy looking substance.


friendship bread

And also in the bag was a page of instructions.


friendship bread 3



 A dear nurse friend of mine from the Department of Health


friendship bread 4

has sent me



(Drum Roll here, please!!!)
Starter for a batch of Friendship Bread!!!


Now, as some of you good folks out there in Xanga-land know, this is an exceptional blessing that can be a sore trial after the third or fouth gifting.  But this is my first in many years, so I am quite delighted, indeed.  If any of you have a hankering for Friendship bread, just message me and let me know, and I will certainly keep you in mind when it comes time to hand it out.

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The Refiner’s Fire


There burns a fire with sacred heat, white hot with Holy Flame;

And all who dare pass through it’s blaze will not emerge the same.
Some as bronze, some as silver, and some as gold; there with great skill;
All are hammered by their sufferings on the anvil of His will.

 

The Refiner’s Fire
Has now become my soul’s desire;
Purged and cleansed and purified,
That the Lord be glorified!
He is consuming my soul;
Refining me, making me whole.
No matter what I may lose
I choose

The Refiner’s Fire!

 

I’m learning now to trust His touch, to crave the Fire’s embrace;

For though my past with sin was etched, His mercies did erase.

Each time His purging cleanses deeper, I’m not sure I will survive;

Yet the strength in growing weaker keeps my hungry soul alive.

 

The Refiner’s Fire
Has now become my soul’s desire;
Purged and cleansed and purified,
That the Lord be glorified!
He is consuming my soul;
Refining me, making me whole.
No matter what I may lose
I choose

The Refiner’s Fire!

~Randall Dennis

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 This has been a most eventful day


I picked up Mama soon after 7:00am to go to Dorchester General Hospital in Cambridge, MD.  This was the day that she was to have an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) to determine the progress she has made since her esophagal cancer two years ago.


“I’m dreading this,” she confided in me as we were driving over.  “I just wish it was over.”


“I don’t blame you, Mama,” I said.  “I don’t like it either, and they aren’t even doing it to me.”  I did keep her mind somewhat distracted, though, on the way there, because I was in dire need of a ladies room and there seemed to be none with the amenities that appealed to ladies of our upbringing on that long, long road between Bridgeville and Hurlock.  I was getting more and more concerned as the miles passed, and even began to look appraisingly at some of the roadside factories and wonder what proximity their ladies rooms might be with the front door.


Just when I thought that there would surely be a catastrophe, we came into the town of Hurlock, and there, right on the edge of town was this ramshackle beer joint/grocery store/ truck stop sort of thing.  It looked like it could possibly at least have restrooms (at this point, this was all that mattered) and I hurriedly pulled Mama’s sweet car up in front of it and threw it into park.  I did not even bother to turn off the key, and jumped out.  As I hastily shut the car door, I tried to ignore the two bedraggled looking black men lounging around an upside down fifty gallon drum, nursing a brown bag and eyeing me with bleary eyes.  I hurried down the sidewalk and to the front door.  Almost every available window space was covered with homemade white paper banners heralding COORS 12 PACK $—–, BUDWEISER $ —- and BUDWEISER LITE $ —- and PAPST BLUE RIBBON $—–. (and lots of others that I forget!).  I tried not to look at them as I sailed through the door.  Once inside, I was pleasantly surprised to find an atmosphere not unlike a slightly rumpled gas station shop.  There was everything there — except a sign indicating where the restrooms were.  My heart sank as I saw a brown door at the back of the store that had a passage lock and a sign that said:


NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS


BY ORDER OF THE MANAGER


POSITIVELY NO EXCEPTIONS!!!


Except that from where I stood, all I could see was the “No public restrooms” part of the sign.  (And my state inspector husband has told me over and over again that no business in Delaware can deny a customer the use of a restroom.  It is against the law.)  So I sidled up to the checkout counter and looked the ruggedly handsome young Iranian in the eye.


“Sir, I’m sorry.  I know your sign says ‘No public restrooms, but I am in desperate need of —”  Before I could finish my sentence, he had turned and picked up a key behind him and dropped it into my hand.  I was so thankful!  I made my way to the back of the store and then I saw the rest of the sign.  YIKES!  If I had seen it before, I would never have had the courage to ask.   (I don’t know what I would have done, but I promise you, it would not have been pretty!)  I unlocked the door and pushed it open, wondering what to expect.  It was not at all filthy (except some of the inscriptions on the walls) and it smelled of disinfect and soap.  It was rather dark, but it was adequate, and all I could think of was how grateful I was for it.  I came out, locked the door behind me, made my way back up to the checkout counter and returned the key.


“Thank you,” I said to the young man, wondering how I could delicately express my gratitude.  To my surprise, his eyes were cold and contemptuous.  I managed another weak attempt at thanks and fled.  Through the front doors, past the two men, still lounging by their barrel, and into the safety of Mama’s presence.    She did not scold or criticize but she looked somewhat askance. 


“I can’t believe you went in there,” she said.


“I almost can’t either,” I said, “but it was necessary!”  (It really, really was!)


We made short work of the distance between Hurlock and Cambridge and came safely and on time to the hospital.  We were scarcely in when they called Mama to go back to change into the hospital garb, and then they told me to wait in the waiting room until they had the IV started.  After about a half an hour, I inquired about whether they had put the IV in yet, and it was another 10 minutes until they let me go back.  And then in about ten more minutes they sent me out again because they were ready to take her to surgery.


In a relatively short time, Dr. Murand poked his cheerful, youthful face around the corner and asked for Mrs. Yoder’s family.  He waved me out into the hall, and his eyes were so delighted and kind.  “Everything went great,” he told me.  He waved two pages of repulsive pictures under my nose that he was treating like a delightful Rembrandt painting.  “If you look right here, you can see how smooth and healed this is.  We  have some inflammation here-” (he pointed to a disgusting looking blob of something labeled “Antrum”) “but it isn’t anything to worry about.  She looks so good.  I didn’t even find anything to biopsy.  She is good to go for a year!”


One of the things that Mama was concerned about was that she might need to have the stricture stretched again, so I asked Dr. Murand if he had done that.


“Nope, I didn’t see that as being necessary!” he said.  “She is doing so well.  There is just this peace about her.  I knew the minute I saw her that she was doing good.  She was glowing.  I think it is her faith and her supportive family (YEAH, US!!!).  Everything is just fine!”


“We think our Mama is pretty impressive,” I told him.  “She has an incredible will to live, and she just marches on.!”


Then he told me something that was just so special to hear.  “You know,” he said, “we have a few people who have come through what she did, and are healthy — at least somewhat healthy.  But your mother is far and away the healthiest person we have ever had come through this.  She is just amazing!”   A person can go on that kind of good news for a very long time!


And then I came flying home and finished up just a few loose ends on my tax records and did a few loads of laundry.  Around 3:30,  I went to pick up Certain Man (Who had so kindly and graciously gone late to work so that he could get my ladies to their respective centers) and we scrambled to Smyrna to talk to our accountant and give him our paper work.  On the way home, we stopped for supper, just the two of us.  It has been a very long time since that has happened, and it was just so sweet.  Then we came home to discover that Middle Daughter had fed Audrey and Linda, (inspite of a rather discouraging day at clinicals) and Youngest Daughter had already left for her quarter final basketball game.


Oh, joy!  She was allowed to play tonight.  And made 7 points and retrieved 13 rebounds.  It would be hard to find a happier girlie tonight in all our fair land.


And so ends this busy, eventful day.  Tomorrow, I make soup for quiz meet, and somehow procure two dozen individually wrapped baked goods for them to sell.  But I won’t have to worry about getting my taxes together.  What a blessed relief that is!


 

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I found a good way
to help a tax payer
pay attention.


Make an appointment
with the accountant,
and determine
to be done the day before.


(I wonder if this tactic will be effective . . .)


 

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Raph's Team 1


This is Raph’s Team


In the back, left to right is Caleb Ivanitsky and Derrick Wagler
In front, left to right is Laura Fisher, Karen and Daryl Enns, Mac Mullet and Raph Yutzy


(It seems forever since I’ve seen our Eldest Son’s face . . .)


 

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OLD GERTRUDE AND YOUNGEST SON

Eldest Daughter fussed — she wanted me to post the story that had been requested concerning Youngest Son and Old Gertrude.  This is a very old story — I think Youngest Son was about 15.


OLD GERTRUDE AND YOUNGEST SON


Now, it is no secret that Old Gertrude is not particularly attractive. She is old and stoop-shouldered, has a prominent nose, wears coke bottle glasses, has hair that is just a mess to do anything with, and has these teeth that somewhat defy description. They are protruding. And brown. And sorta’ falling out, like. They are the things you notice first about her. (If you don’t notice her breath). The fame of her looks is such that there was a time when CMW was trying to convince her youngest sister of something and Youngest Sister protested vehemently, “If that’s true, then Gertrude is beautiful!!!”


But anyone who really knows Old Gertrude knows that she thinks quite the opposite. She enjoys her looks. She’s young. Her teeth are white. Her hair is perfect. Don’t say nothin’ about her glasses. Sometimes when CMW comes in to give her a shower, she is standing in front of the mirror, stark naked, admiring the scenery, and murmuring appreciation to herself.


All of this has not been lost on adolescent Youngest Son, Lemuel. It has been a source of amusement, yes, but there has also been an element of concern over the integrity of the situation. If it isn’t true, why does she persist in believing it? CMW hasn’t really been aware of just how much this situation has been being mulled over in the young man’s mind until last week. After all, Old Gertrude has been a part of the family since Youngest Son was five weeks old, and she has always believed in her great beauty. It just isn’t a new or seldom mentioned issue. But this week, Youngest Son came up with something that set CMW back on her heels and caused her mother’s heart to do much pondering.


In the middle of a perfectly ordinary day, he said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about Gertrude and you know how she thinks she so beautiful? Well, I’ve been thinking. Maybe she sees herself the way God sees her.”


CMW’s puzzlement must have shown on her face, because he continued. “You know, her mind is like a child, and wouldn’t it be neat if her faith was just childlike enough that when she looks at herself, she actually sees what God sees. There really is no one who has a sweeter spirit, and who has a more childlike faith than she does, and I was just thinkin’ that it would be neat if she had a faith that caused her to actually see herself like God does and that would be beautiful.”


CMW looked at this tall man-child that she loves so fiercely and who sometimes causes her great consternation. She said, “That’s a beautiful thought, Lemuel. It just might be so…” and she tucked it away in her heart to bring out when the rappin’ and the jammin’ and the tappin’ threaten to drive her to distraction.


But she has continued to think about his words this whole week. What would happen if we had enough faith the see other people the way God does? What would happen to our hearts, our relationships, our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches? And how do we develop that mindset?


One of the ways we work on it is to be reminded that things aren’t always the way they seem, and if we can take the reminders on ordinary days from unexpected sources and ask God to birth an awareness in our hearts, it can begin to happen.


 

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CM & CMW and A Valentine’s Story


Now it came to pass that on Valentine’s Day, thirty some years ago, there was a Certain Young Man who was taking a Certain Young Woman upon a date. This was a first date for that particular seventeen year old damsel, though the Certain Young Man was on his fourth first date. (Uh-huh!!!)


CYW was not altogether sure of this CYM, having eluded his pursuit for a great many months with careful tactics that involved hiding behind the seats of cars, ducking into convenient doorways and declining proffered friendship with calculated coolness.


However, when the Heavenly Father set out to impress upon her heart the need to at least give the young man a chance, she obeyed — albeit with reservation.


On this particular Sunday in 1971, they set forth to hear the Gospel Echoes team sing at the Plain City Elementary School Auditorium. It was term break from Rosedale Bible Institute, and special permission had been given by Willard Mayer, the principal, no less, for a single date. The age of both mandated that it should have been a double, but Brother Mayer, bless his heart, was an old romantic, and he was willing to allow that since it was between terms, he would bend the rules and permit a single date (this once).


CYW  had found a new pair of shoes for this occasion, classy leather Hush Puppy heels, and she felt quite well dressed for the occasion. It had snowed over the weekend, and it was cold. CYM had a Ford Fairlane of antique origin that had a habit of stalling in the middle of intersections. It had a console in the middle that kept young people a respectable distance apart. This was not a problem, though, since both young people were very well aware of protocol. They arrived safely at the meeting place.


The program went well. (There was that one situation when the emcee called for all the men in the auditorium to reach over and take the hand of that loved one by their side. CYM looked in one direction very intently whilst CYW  looked in the other, but otherwise, it was good).


And when it was over, the crowd pressed out of the building. The parking lot had lots of glare ice, and it was quite treacherous. CYW  was finding that the soles of her new shoes were extremely slippery. Visions of crashing down in great disarray and disgrace began to float through her mind. Weighing the options carefully in her mind, she decided that it would be proper to take CYM’s arm that was so conveniently beside her. So she steadied herself with a hand lightly on his suited elbow, and they continued on their trek across the parking lot. She stole a sideways glance at CYM and was surprised to see a perplexed look on his face.


Then he spoke, “Uh, Mary Ann. Now if one of us falls, we both will!”


Well, she could take a hint. She laughed, let go of his arm, and continued her journey.  And made it to the car, unscathed.


She did ask him one morning if he was avoiding bodily injury that day or temptation. He thought that was a terribly dumb question. Of course he was worried that they both would fall.


Oh, well. Self preservation really is the strongest instinct (I guess).


And that is the Valentine Memory from Shady Acres, where CM has often steadied CMW in treacherous places (both real and imagined) and the thirty plus years have been well worth the journey.

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Last week, I had a call, requesting that I post an old story about Youngest Son and Old Gertrude.  The funny thing is, Old Gertrude has been on my mind so very much over the past few weeks.


Gertrude Birthday


She loved Rachel with all her heart.  She loved birthdays and presents and all of us with a fierce and undying loyalty.


Gertrude Sews


She had a chair by the toy box, and she would take a big old sheet of plastic canvas and she would stitch and stitch, then take it out and start over again.  


“Mom,” she would say to me, “I’m gonna’ do my latch!”


She was an incongruity of disability and ability.  She could actually crochet a chain, tie her shoes, make her bed in her better days. 
She could see my heart.
One morning, while my Sweet Mama was so desperately ill in a Baltimore hospital, I had come home for the night, and was doing the morning showers for Old Gertrude and Blind Linda.  I had been so careful not to cry in the presence of my Mama, and had tried to keep a brave front before my children.  But as I washed Old Gertrude that morning, the tears were spilling down my cheeks in copious amounts.  She reached out her wrinkled old hand and touched my face.


“Oh, Mom.  What’s wrong?”  Her faded blue eyes were intently on my face.


“I’m just sad, Gertrude.  My Mama is so sick, and I don’t know what is going to happen . . .”


She wiped a tear off my face.  “It will be okay,” she said gently.  “He’s (this was always ‘God’ to her) takin’ care of you.  It’s gonna be okay.”


I was so blessed by her concern, so touched by her love for me, so encouraged by her words.


Today, I was eating jelly beans.  (Yep, there is something wrong with me.  I love them!)  Eating Jelly Beans brought back some strong and compelling memories.  Old Gertrude didn’t like alot of candy.  Pure Hershey’s chocolate most of the time and Jelly Beans (if they were the right kind).


YELLOW ONES and BLACK ONES.


Once a year, her family would bring bring her an Easter basket, and Old Gertrude would take out the stuffed animal then go through and eat out the chocolate and the black and yellow Jelly beans.  I would come into her room and she would have chocolate smeared from ear to ear and black and yellow jelly bean remnants stuck in those horrible teeth.  And she would be as happy as she could be.  One thing that rarely happened was that the children asked to share her Easter Candy.  She would caress each piece, and examine it while she licked her fingers and separated out what she wanted.  Nope, that Easter Basket was her property.


Gertrude by the fire


As the years passed, she was more and more content to sit by the fire and keep warm.  When we installed our pellet stove, she was tickled pink.  She would sit in her chair and watch the flame dance and flicker.  “I’m watching television” she would sometimes say when something like this would catch her attention. 


She made us laugh, she was always in our cheering section.  She loved to sing.  Some days I think about all the things we are without since she went to Heaven, and it feels like we are poor, indeed.  But she is rich.  She loved the Lord Jesus and trusted Him to bring her safely home.


And when all was said and done, that was enough.


 


 


 

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A couple of weeks ago, I said to Certain Man, “I went to the mailbox this morning and found pornography in there!”


He looked positively askance, and said “What in the world?  Who would have sent such a thing to us?”


I said, “It came from Papaleo, Rosen, Chelf and Pinder’s office.  It was our tax planner!”


He looked sort of bewildered and said, “Why would you call that pornography?”


“Because it is so offensive to me,” I wailed.  “I almost cannot bear to look at it!”  


. . . And, to be honest, I haven’t even broken the seal on that pornography.  But today, I delve into its offensive contents and break out the ledgers and files and try to make some order of the past year and all its many financial trials.


This is a most repulsive exercise.

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This has been a most interesting week.  Lots has been accomplished, just showing me how much more needs doing.  Why do I put off the things that need doing — especially reports to the State of Delaware that are due monthly for my two handicapped ladies?  Over the past couple of years, things have increased when it comes to paper work.  I asked them last week if they wanted me to take care of my ladies, or if they wanted me to write reports.  I did not receive a satisfactory answer.


The State LOVES a paper trail.


I need to account for every penny of their money with receipts and dates and reasons for purchase.  These must be signed and dated.  (For years, they wanted Linda’s “signature” on the back of each of her reports, even sending them back if something wasn’t there.  I would drag a hard surfaced book to her lap, position the report on it, close her fingers around an ink pen, put it to the paper and make a scribble of some sort that would satisfy them.  I finally reneged at this senseless operation, and was granted permission to sign her name.)  


I have to account for every prescription drug they are on, every OTC med they are on, and every time I give them something from their Standing Medical Orders.  I have to write down when I got the prescriptions refilled.  I have to write down how many refills are left on each one.  This doesn’t sound daunting until you figure out that Audrey is on 13 Prescription drugs and one of those is filled weekly, plus two over the counter drugs.  Linda is on 12 prescription drugs and three over the counter.  I figured out that, in a given month, I dispense almost 1,300 medication doses.  That is to be with NO ERRORS.  It is overwhelming!  It takes about 4 pages each to report.


I have to get a paper filled out and signed by every doctor I see with them.  As you might guess from the amounts of prescriptions, there are lots of doctors.  Family practice, Neurologists, Orthopedic specialists, surgeons, eye doctors, ear doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, gastroenterologists.  And Audrey is on a medication that dictates weekly blood work which needs documentation.


Then, there is a report that needs to go in every month concerning whether all the objectives were reached in their individual life plans.  With that, a report of all the activities they may have participated in during the months time.  And whether there are any concerns.  And whether there were any extra noteworthy achievements.  (This is all on one page, with the individual “must haves” set down in a chart with a blank spot at the bottom for the rest of the report.


My precious blind Linda.  Non Verbal.  Many behavior problems.  She hates the uncertainties of a store.  She is quite a trip.  This month, I got into trouble because the powers that be, somewhere up in the state, did an audit of her entire life account.  They wanted to haul me in for an all day in service to inform me of the proper procedures for filling out the spending money accounts.  One month, Linda had shingles, and Audrey had just come to live with us, and I didn’t get to the bank before the end of the month.  I pretty much didn’t go anywhere except where I had to.  So I requested permission to put some expenditures from August down on September’s account when I had withdrawn the money.  The team agreed.  They knew how intense those months were.  But it didn’t set well with the higher ups.  They also wanted “the provider to include Linda in a more direct way as to how her money is spent” (ha!) so they got all up in a heaval and instructed my case manager to make an appointment.  How blessed I have been with my case manager and staff nurse.  They were livid at this mandate.  They collaborated on a terse note to the perpetrators of said note and more or less informed them of the situation, that they were NOT going to make this 20+ year provider come in for an in-service and promised to “instruct provider” themselves.  There was a short note that came down the line agreeing to this “modest proposal” with instructions that “if there were any more problems, the provider needed to attend an in-service.”  I was pretty much going along without any knowledge of all this until yesterday when my case manager came out and gently informed me of what they had been through all on my account. 


All I can say is that my Heavenly Father knew that I had all that I could bear over these last few months, and He tempered the wind that blew against me.  I could not be more grateful for His loving care over me and my two ladies.  I am even more grateful that His Protection came through the direct line of authority over me.  Through His grace, I had the trust of my case manager and nurse.  If they were suspicious of my motives, my actions or even uncertain about the care that Audrey and Linda have in our home, they would have had ample opportunity to bring me down. 


Lord Jesus, once again I offer grateful praise!

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