Monthly Archives: May 2008

It’s been anything but a quiet weekend at Shady Acres.
Certain Man has been in a fit of getting things done around here.  On Saturday morning, he propped a ladder up against a rather precarious limb to trim several other limbs from the Thornless Honey Locust Tree that were getting too long.  While he had the ladder out, he propped it up against the side of the house to fix the topmost gable end of the house where a tree had bumped against the soffit and pulled up the roof and damaged the siding.  He scares Certain Man’s Wife spitless when he does these things.  CMW is very uncomfortable with a man on a ladder perched anywhere that is higher than her head.  She was in the middle of doing the usual Saturday “catch-up” laundry and baking bread, so she didn’t stand out there and hold the ladder or holler.  She didn’t figure there was too much that she could do, anyhow, with a ladder that is 30 feet long and a full grown man on the other end.  I guess she sorta’ thought that if it was gonna’ go, it was gonna’ go and she didn’t want to be there to see it happen.
He came down, then, eventually, with his mission accomplished and asked CMW if she had any more of the “Mr. Clean Erasers®” that have been found to be very effective in washing off siding.  Certain Man’s Wife happened to have a whole box of them from Sam’s Club, and he proceeded to inform her that since he had the big ladder up on the deck anyhow, he was going to wash the upper part of the house where the moss and green deposits had built up.  CMW got him a bucket of warm water and the dozen or so Mr. Clean Erasers®, he got himself a hook to hang that bucket upon and he set out to clean the house. Certain Man’s Wife went back to her bread.
In the middle of CMW’s periodic checking on Certain Man’s progress, the family cat, Tatters, who has been a part of the family for almost nine years, made a mad dash for the slightly opened door and disappeared under the deck.  This did not trouble CMW inordinately since she sometimes does get out, and seriously heads back inside at almost her first chance.
After a time, Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter returned from the Festival at Central Christian School and the Hospital Fair at the Hospital where Middle Daughter works and set about to help their beleaguered parents.  Middle Daughter got up on the ledge of the roof and helped to wash the siding and Youngest Daughter helped CMW in the house.  No mention was made of the missing cat.
In the afternoon, Certain Man’s family headed out for the wedding of Eldest Son’s friend, Matt and his girl Dorothy.  It was a lovely wedding.  The bride was beautiful, the groom’s eyes were so full of love and happiness, The sermon was well done, the vows were traditional and sweet, there was not an unduly long wait between the wedding and the reception, and the food was excellent.
Certain Man’s Wife’s Sweet Mama sat with Our Girl Nettie and Cecilia whilst the family was gone, and when they returned, the almost first words were, “Have you seen the cat?”
Sweet Mama said, “No, I haven’t seen her at all.  She has been nowhere around.”
This was when Youngest Daughter realized that Tatters was missing.  “She’s gone for good,” she stated emphatically.  “I know that she is.  She will never come back!”  This was followed by a great treatise on people who didn’t watch properly, didn’t care whether the cat was out or not, and a great trembling of the lip.
Certain Man’s Wife didn’t share this view.  “She has always come back.  Don’t worry, Rachel.  She gets out alot, whether you know it or not, and she always comes back”
“But she comes back right away.  If she’s been gone all day, she will not come back.  She’s probably dead somewhere.”
Then the whole family got involved in the looking.  They looked in the basement, in all the bedrooms, in the side “dungeon” space.  No Tatters.   Middle Daughter, who is, by far, the most involved with this capricious animal, went up and down the road, calling and looking.  She got down and looked under the deck.  She went out and looked in the dog pen.  (We have an Australian Red Heeler, and he has killed many a cat that has ventured into his domain.)  No Tatters.  She and Certain Man went out to the barn where there are myriads of cats that have been dumped off here over the years.  There is a barn cat that looks like our Tatters, but when it ran away as fast as it could go, they knew it wasn’t her.
Certain Man’s Wife’s heart got increasingly heavy.  Usually, when Tatters has been gone for some time, CMW can go to the sliding glass doors and call her, and she will dive for the open doorway and slither past like a banshee is after her.  Though there were numerous callings made at all the doors, there was no sign of Tatters.  Midway through the evening, there was this thunderous descent from the upstairs by Middle Daughter.  She bolted through the family room and through the kitchen, past Certain Man’s Wife.
“Deborah!   Whatever is –”
“Sheppie is barking and I heard a cat scream!”  She threw over her shoulder as she pounded through the laundry room and out the back door. This set off a whole new round of looking for the cat;  Searching through the dog pen, getting down to look inside the dog house to see if the body of the unfortunate beast had been drug into the dark confines of the canine abode.  NOTHING!!!
And so the evening passed with no sign of the missing cat.  Just before going to bed, Certain Man’s Wife stood again at the darkness of the sliding glass doors and called for the furry little beast that has lightened many a heavy heart over the last nine years.  “Lord, there are so many things out there that are heavy and sad.  People are dying without a Savior and there is earthquake and war and famine and cyclone.  A lost cat is pretty inconsequential in light of all the terrible things going on.  But could you watch over our Tatters tonight?  And if it is your will, could you bring her back to us?   But if she is hurt or suffering, could you just allow her to go quickly?  And would you comfort the hearts of Youngest and Middle Daughters?”
Morning came, bringing with it drizzle and cold.  “If anything will bring her back,” said Middle Daughter hopefully, “it is the rain.  She HATES being out in the cold and rain.”  But there was no sign of the missing cat.
“I just want some closure,” said Middle Daughter for the fourth time.  “We need to call the neighbors and see if they have seen her.  Maybe one of the barn tomcats chased her away.  She doesn’t have any claws so it would be difficult for her to defend herself.”
“Do cats fight to the death?” wondered CMW aloud.
“Not usually,” said Middle Daughter, “but usually if there is a fight, one of them will run away.  And if Tatters ran away, the tom could be keeping her from coming back.  She might have just gone to a friendly house and stayed.”
When Certain Man came in from the morning chores, CMW looked at him questioningly.  He shook his head.  “Nope, I didn’t see anything of her,” he said softly to CMW.
“Do you think she will come back?” Queried CMW.
“Nope.  I think she is gone for good.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of, too.”  Said CMW sadly.  “I think if she could come back, she would have by now.  I suspect that she is dead somewhere, or at least severely injured.”  CMW began to think about a cuddly little kitty or a cat that would be more friendly and less independent.
“NO!” Said Youngest Daughter.  “Tatters was the kind of cat I like.  She wasn’t so “needy” as some cats are.”
“NO!” Said Our Girl Nettie.  “I don’t want another cat.  I think it’s better not to have a pet in the house.”
“Alrighty then!” Thought Certain Man’s Wife.  She wasn’t going to ask Certain Man.  Back when Tatters had first appeared on the doorstep, he had been thoroughly against her staying.
“If you keep that worthless bunch of fur,” he was heard to say on more than one occasion, “you will have to call it ‘Daddy’ ’cause both of us can’t live in the same house.”
The pleas of his children, and their offer to help pay for some of the cat “needs” finally won him over, however, and he and Tatters entered into a guardedly peaceful co-existence, though “affection” would not be descriptive of their relationship.  In fact, CMW heard the words “Worthless bunch of fur” and “ugly fleabag” thrown about with random indignation.
Sunday morning was filled with the usual last minute church preparations, getting lunch into the oven, checking family schedules and such, and then it was off to church — but not without CMW looking intently one more time around the perimeter of the garage and flower gardens to see if maybe there was the familiar furry friend.
And so Sunday passed.  CMW took a nap while Certain Man prepared the sermon for the Communion Service in the evening.  And she dreamed mixed up dreams of cats that looked like Tatters in the dumpster with wild claws and teeth, and of injured cats in the grass.  And since she overslept there was a mad rush to get everything done before leaving for evening church.  She did call at the basement steps and the sliding glass one or two times, but was chided by family members.  “Mom, she’s gone.  You might just as well accept it . . . ”
There is nothing quite like communion at Laws Mennonite Church.  It is warm and personal and encouraging and strengthening.  There are always a number who hang around late and talk and fellowship long after the meeting is over.  Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter went home fairly soon, but since Certain Man has a creed (The 11th commandment:  “Thou shalt not leave the church parking lot until there are only two cars remaining, one of which is thine own.”) it was over an hour before Certain Man and his wife had finished talking to good friends, cleaned up the communion remnants, and headed home.
As they pulled into the driveway, CMW commented about the number of cars parked around the circle and on the grass.  “It looks like the boys have some company,” she observed.  Youngest Son’s Girl had come home from college, and several of their friends had come to rejoice with them.
CM and CMW unloaded the van, and came into the house to be greeted with the words, “The cat is back!”
“What?”  “How?”  “Is she alright???”
Here Middle Daughter took up the story.  It seems that Youngest Son came into the back door to find her waiting patiently on the floor inside the entryway to get into the laundry room.  And of course there was no explanation for her whereabouts for the past 36 hours.  Youngest Son was mad because all the emotional energy had been wasted when she was “just in the basement.”  But Certain Man and his wife think she may have found a way to get from the crawl space to the outside, or that she may have eaten something when she was out and didn’t feel good for a while and just slept it off.  She seems a little subdued, maybe less energetic, but we cannot find any cuts or scratches or such.  Whatever happened, and where ever she has been, she has been welcomed with a great deal of affection and relief.  I am so glad that she isn’t somewhere injured or dying with no one to watch over her.

And then it occurs to me that there are plenty of humans out there tonight in that very circumstance —  dying.  With no one to watch over or care.

Do I seek them with the same heavy heart that I had when I was looking for my errant cat?

Do you?

Does anyone care?


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This e-mail came in a round about way to our family forum from someone with connections in China.  What an incredible answer to prayer for the many of us who have been praying!  Continue to keep this family in your prayers.

Chad called me from
Wenchuan a few minutes ago and wanted me to let you know that all is well with
them. They are living in a tent on the soccer field of the college there because
their building is damaged. Their house is still in good enough shape that he has
been able to go into it every day to sort of go through things and start packing
things up. They are basically just waiting till the road gets opened enough to
get a ride out…Chad said someone told him maybe 3 or 4 days but it could be
longer than that. Army trucks were able to get in through that road recently but
yesterday I heard that it had been closed again because of slides caused by
strong aftershocks. They have water and the basic things that they need, Chad
said it is sort of like they are living in a big refugee camp. He said that
everything is quite orderly around there with lots of army guys around making
sure people stay calm etc. Chad said it is very dusty around there because there
were major rock slides all around the area. He said it did rain some the first
evening and then all of the second day but since then it has been sunny.



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There is word on the

Praying for Chad, Jenny, Matthew, & Baby 
Facebook account

that there has been word from Chad and Jenny and that they
are okay. 

Lord Jesus, may it be so!


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China Earthquake

Could my Xanga Friends please pray for family members in the town of Wenchuan in the province of China that was hard hit by the earthquake?

Chad and Jenny Graber, and their little son, Matthew, are there. Chad is teaching at a college there, Jenny is expecting their second baby.  Their town is very devastated.  There has been no word from this little family.

Pray for their safety, yes, but pray more that they would be a source of hope and comfort to those around them.

And pray for my cousin, Ben, and his wife Carol, and the rest of their family as they wait for news from Jenny (their daughter) and her sweet family.

And as members of the Family of God, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters who have been affected by this disaster.  May we not sin by “ceasing to pray” for our troubled old world.


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Remember that terrible bread????

Just so you know, it is all gone from my freezer.

It became the stellar seasoned croutons
on a beautiful tossed salad
on the second course
of the main meal
last night
at the Jr. Senior banquet.

I cannot claim credit for their wonderful flavor.

One accomplished young cook,
namely Carmen Horne,
took that cubed up bread
and seasoned it
and toasted it
to perfection.

I promise you.
It did not
taste like donuts
when she was finished.

And my conscience is not fretting over the wasting of almost perfectly good bread.

What a wonderful solution to my problem.

Thank-you, Carmen and the Banquet Crew.


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Our Baby Girl is all grown up and going to Banquet!

AAA Banquet Tim and Rach 2
Her cousin, Tim, invited her many weeks ago, and she has been eagerly anticipating this night.

But then she got sick, and for a few days, it was a big question about whether she could even go or not.

But she recovered, and she was resplendent in her pretty dress:
AAA Banquet Tim and Rach
She is slouching here just a tiny bit so she isn’t taller than her escort —
(but he doesn’t care, and she shouldn’t either!)

I was already out at the school, working on supper,
and didn’t get to see the great goings on that involved betting ready..

Deborah did her hair, and it turned out nicely.
AAA Banquet The hair 3
(Although at this point, they both may have been wondering!)
Rachel has beautiful, long, long hair.  They decided to pin it up and then did the fall in curls.

It’s hard to worry too much when you are so looking forward to an evening.

AAA Banquet The hair 4
By this time, she seemed pretty sure it would turn out okay.

AAA Banquet Rachel and her daddy 2
Here she is with her daddy, just before leaving for the Banquet.
He is so proud of his girlie.
From the time when she was a toddler, and he would crawl around on the floor,
hiding behind the cupboards to leap out at her,
they have been best buds. 
If I didn’t know that it is so good for a teenager to be good friends with her dad,
I would be jealous!
(As it is, I am so very grateful.)

Shortly after this, he came to the school too,
and lent a much appreciated hand to the labor intensive evening.

Oh, boy!  Am I glad that is done!!!  I feel like my legs are made of stumps.
But then, we were the oldest parents there. Even though many of the junior class seem to be “youngest children”  Certain Man and I were the oldest working in the kitchen tonight by at least two years.
I think that made me feel even more tired than I was before I realized it.
So it is off to the land of slumber for me.
I am very, very, very, very tired.


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Youngest Son had a birthday this week.  He turned 22 on Cinco de Mayo.  What a ride these years with him have been.  And I am eternally grateful for God’s incredible grace in our lives as a family, and in his life in particular.

This Momma’s heart has had its pensive moments in these last few days — we’ve been dealing with an especially vicious bug.  Youngest Daughter has been sporting a fever of over 103 the last two mornings.  I took her to Dr. Lehman’s office yesterday, and they tested for strep and said she didn’t have it.  They started her on a five day antibiotic.  “Somethings wrong,” they said, comfortingly.  “She will be better soon.  Probably won’t even have fever by morning.”  She really isn’t too much improved yet today, but it has only been 24 hours since she started the medicine.  She had hoped for a full recovery by this morning and when the thermometer read 103.2, the tears were insistent in their attack.  This girlie feels everything entirely too intensely.  I guess it is part of being 17.

Blind Linda’s cough was turning into a bark by yesterday morning, so I trucked her in to Dr. Wilson’s yesterday afternoon, and after checking her over, and diagnosing her with acute sinusitis, he trucked his little wheeley chair over and listened to my lungs and checked out my ears and throat and nose.  The result:  A prescription for both Certain Man and me to try to stamp out this thing that has been hanging around over a week.  The cough is the worst of all.  I get a tickle that just won’t stop, and it feels like I’m going to throw up before I finally get it stopped.

It occurs to me that we are on our final approach to life as we have known it for the nine years since Eldest Daughter got married.  I am happy for our sons, and I am looking forward to having two sweet daughters in love.  I am amazed, though, at how quickly these years have suddenly come to an end.  I am not resentful of the new homes being established, and I have every confidence that these are homes where Jesus will be honored, and that is a good thing in this old sin-crazed world.

But it is both of my sons.  Leaving in the space of eight weeks.  They are so optimistic, so happy, so eager to get on with their lives, and I look at their eyes and see their Daddy’s eyes and remember a young husband who was full of dreams and plans and who worked so hard to bring those dreams to pass.  He has exceeded my wildest expectations.  I’m so thankful for Certain Man and the way he has sacrificed for our lives together as a family.  I pray these sons of ours have learned their lessons well.  They won’t go wrong if they follow his example.  How very much I pray that they will be husbands who lead their families with a sacrificial love.  I pray that they will be the kinds of leaders who will inspire confidence and respect in their wives and families, and that they will never forget the important things about being a family.  That they will work hard, laugh much, love intensely.

And it occurs to me that if they don’t know it by now, a crash course won’t do much good.  Some things just aren’t gotten by emergency education.  So, as I make my way through these last few weeks, planting flowers, making pie crusts, doing normal household things, I keep remembering that my best hope is what has already been taught, and my lifeline to my Heavenly Father who holds the Master Plan for families, and, in fact, already has one in place for them.  I can trust Him for that — He is still the best teacher.  And I need to let go of these young men.  They will make mistakes.  They already have, and they will make some more.  But their hearts are to do this right, and with that, my heart can be at peace.


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