Monthly Archives: July 2008

Some posts back, I was lamenting about the fact that we had gotten a rather poor chicken check.  (This post is a long time coming, and some of the local folk have heard me talking about this, so just skip it if you don’t want to hear about it, okay??)

Anyhow—  We got our chicken check on July 3rd.  It was quite a tough time for these old chicken growers.  And I didn’t say much to Certain Man because it is against my “br-r-r-inzibles” (principles) to fuss about stuff when he is riled up.  I try hard to keep my head level and cool because I just might need him to be level and cool for me when situations might call for it.

But I did some earnest talking (alright, COMPLAINING!!!) to my Heavenly Father.  “What are we going to do?  How will we ever manage?  You know all about this, but if there is some way to FIX IT, then please do.”  And I juggled finances in my head, wondered if there were something of value in this house that I could sell, thought of all sorts of alternatives, etc., etc., etc..

I’ve been reading some in Oswald Chamber’s book, My Utmost For His Highest, and when I came to the reading for July 4th the title was “One of God’s Great Don’ts.”   I felt the words burn into my soul as I marched my way determinedly through it.  It began by saying;

“Fretting means getting out at elbows mentally or spiritually.  It is one thing to say “Fret not,” but a very different thing to have such a disposition that you find yourself able not to fret.” H-m-m-m-m.  “Oh, boy!  Why do these topics always come up at such “opportune times?”

It went on to say, “Fussing always ends in sin . . .Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God”  “Lord, isn’t this a little harsh, I mean, I know it isn’t right to complain, but sin?  Anyhow, Oswald Chambers isn’t the Bible.”

And then this:  “Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God?

I couldn’t very well read this and not know that it applied pretty well to the situation I was in.  But my nose was out of joint.  I said to Youngest Daughter, “I’m gonna’ go get Daily Guideposts and read that for a while.  I don’t think they’ve ever said anything about a ‘stupid soul’ and they make me feel a whole lot better about myself.”

And so, I did!  But I still keep coming back to Oswald Chambers for the challenge he gives to my mind and the thoughts that he makes me think, and the way he shakes me out of my comfort zone.  I can’t say that I’ve ever read the whole book — it seems like I read it for a while, and then it gets “uncomfortable” enough that I put it away for a while.  It is so radical.  So incredibly deep.  So very demanding.

But isn’t that the definition of being a disciple?  Radical.  In a relationship with a person that is deep.  That by definition demands our all?  I am reminded tonight of a quote that was given to us by our teaching director at Community Bible Study.  “Salvation is free.”  She said to us in her quiet, intense way.  “But it takes everything to be a disciple.”

“Lord Jesus, I want to be a disciple!”

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

“The steel belts are showing on my pickup tires!” Announced Certain Man cheerfully this morning.  “Do you think you or someone could take them over to Cook’s for a pair of used ones for me this morning if I took someone else’s car to work?”

Certain Man’s Chevy S-10 pickup has almost 200,000 miles on it.  The air conditioning doesn’t work, and it is quite dirty from all the farm work it is pressed into.  The daughters of Certain Man refer to it as “Stinky” and the name has stuck.  “Do I have to take Stinky?” they will say and sigh when the need for wheels presents itself and there is no other alternative.  The thing is, Stinky has automatic transmission, so two of the three daughters have to take Stinky if they need a spare vehicle and the choice is between a stick shift and Dad’s pickup.  Certain Man is partial to his pickup.  He roars up and down the road to work and manfully sports the bumps and oddities presented by the aging vehicle and proclaims the usefulness and virtue of the little machine when it comes to the gas prices.  And, of course, it is paid for, so that makes it even more attractive.

Since everyone headed out except Middle Daughter who has been home with some sort of a bug for over a week, Certain Man’s Wife decided that she could run the truck to Cook’s for the tires as soon as Our Girl Audrey got on the bus.  So she headed out and came into the Fair Town (pun intended, Delaware folk) of Harrington.  The technicians said it would be 20-25 minutes, so CMW decided to cross the street and visit a little shop that has seen quite alot of change over the past ten years.  It had housed the Harrington Pharmacy for many a year, then was a gift shop, then was a teacher supply store and now is a combination gift shop/health foods store/teacher depot/deli/coffee house/restaurant kind of thing.  She browsed among the little things that were here and there, and found quite a number of country sayings and interesting items. 

And then, in the middle of the muddle there was this plain wooden plaque:

my find 001

CMW felt this jolt somewhere in her chest, and she could hear her Grandpa Yoder’s voice, telling her Daddy about being invited for Sunday dinner to a friend’s house.

“We been invited to Renzie’s (Lorenzo and Polly Schlabach’s) to eat bread!” he said delightedly in his familiar crackly voice.  It was how he often spoke of eating a meal with friends — either at home or in a place to which they had been invited.  Always with joy.  Always with anticipation. 

Certain Man’s Wife snatched the little board up and held it in her hand and felt a strong desire to put this somewhere in the big old house at Shady Acres to remember his words.  She turned it over.  $2.50.  That was affordable.  So she paid her money and brought it home to sit on the blue kitchen counter.

“Eat Bread.”  What a familial way to speak of sharing food with people we care about.

Come on over.  We’ll break (and eat) some bread.

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s been a nice day at Shady Acres.  The whole family, minus Oldest Son’s Ohio Heart Throb, was here for lunch.  The Very Marrieds, the Newly Marrieds, and even my Sweet Mama. 

We were celebrating the birthday of Oldest Son, who will be 26 tomorrow.

000 Raph

 He got to choose the menu.

Steaks on the grill

Cheesy potatoes
Homegrown lima beans
Corn
Tossed Salad
Peanut butter pie
Sweet Tea. 

I’ve been trying not to think about the passing of the days.  I have two more weeks to pack lunches for this Oldest Son.  Two more weeks to do his laundry.  Two more weeks of stumbling over his huge shoes that somehow won’t stay under the little coffee table by the fireplace. Two more weeks to hear him say, “Thanks for the lunch, Momma.  Love you!” as he goes out the door to work.

I remember with clarity the day he was born.  It was a Wednesday, and Certain Man had taken me in to Mt. Carmel Hospital in downtown Columbus (Ohio) sometime mid morning.  They almost sent me home, then decided to keep me.  It was the days of Lamaze, no invasive monitoring, nothing for pain, and the day wore on and on.  Along about three o’clock in the afternoon, when the doctor said that I was still only 3 cm’s dilated, I had had just about enough, and asked (shocking!) for an epidural.  They were ready to do that, but wanted to put an internal monitor on the head of our unborn baby before giving me the epidural.  To do that, they needed to rupture the membranes.  Certain Man asked if things were to go fast following that if I would have to have an epidural.  I didn’t even want him to ask that.  I wanted it before they did anything else!!! 

To make a long story short, our 9 pound, 12 ounce baby was born ten minutes after they ruptured the membranes (without the coveted epidural) in the labor room bed, and at great cost to his mama, but it probably saved his life.  For sure it saved his cognitive skills.  He had a triple cord wind — twice around his neck, and then going around his chest, under both arms.  He tried to cry, but he turned blue immediately.  I didn’t know a baby could be that blue and still live.  I wanted to hold him.  The attending doctors said, “Just a quick hug, Mom.  We need to get him to the newborn ICU.  He’s in a little trouble.”

I don’t remember really believing that anything was wrong with my beautiful baby.  He was fat.  He looked pretty good immediately after birth, even though he went downhill pretty fast.  Besides, we had picked a name full of hope and promise:  Raphael:  The Lord has healed.

I was probably just not thinking.  For sure I was euphoric.

They took him to the NICU, and they took me to the Delivery room to attempt some much needed repair work.  Certain Man trotted back and forth between the NICU and my room.  His eyes were worried, and it didn’t take long for a prayer chain to get activated at our church.  The hospital called the pediatrician from across town. There was rush hour traffic and she had trouble getting there.

She walked down to my room after assessing him and said, “I couldn’t believe they had brought me all the way across town for this fat beautiful baby!  I said to them, ‘What is the emergency?  This baby looks great!’ but then they took the oxygen off him, and he immediately started to turn blue.”  She reassured me that she thought he was going to be alright, but that he would need to have some cultures run, and that they would need to watch him closely for three days.  She thought he may have ingested some amniotic fluid, but also allowed that the “precipitous birth” had kept the air passages from being cleared like they should have.

And he was just fine.  He had some urgent emergency room visits before he finally got grown up (skull fracture at five weeks, pitchfork stab and infection at five years, tubes in his ears, a deep cut to his wrist that narrowly missed the artery) but he is pretty healthy for the most part, and I certainly haven’t seen him that color since those minutes right after he was born.  I used to refer to him as my “Saint Bernard Puppy” when he was younger because he was always laid back, gentle and comfortable to have around.  And now he is all grown up and getting married.  He is still laid back, gentle and comfortable to have around.  I know we’ve had him longer than many people get to keep their sons, and so I am grateful for every day we’ve had, even while wanting to stay the days until he’s gone. 

The thing is, the days can’t go fast enough for him.  In a strange way, that comforts me, too.  It’s time, I guess, and his Daddy and I have known all along that the time we have with our children is an inestimable gift, and one that we cannot take for granted. 

So here’s to your 27th year, Son.  It is my prayer that it will truly be the best year yet.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunshine and Saltwater on a Summer Day
My hands have been busy these past several weeks.  Last evening, plodding around in my kitchen, trying to finish up a few things before the midnight hour, I had some time to mull over the things that were tugging at my heart while my head was too occupied with other things to take much notice.

Summer makes me miss our Daddy so much.

Daddy
 
If there was a season that defined him, Summer was that season.  My earliest, sharpest memories of him are of hot summer days.  I’ve often mentioned the pole limas that he was so fond of, and that he spent countless hours planting, hoeing, picking, shelling and helping to get into the freezer.  Certain Man planted my row earlier this summer, and last night, upon inspection, I had just a few to pick and shell:

001 Summer days

Then I cooked them in my little pan:

002 Summer days
(This looks like a big pan, but there are only about a cup of lima beans in there)

And then I tried to divide them evenly so that I could share them with Certain Man:

003 Summer days

And I ate my part of them with great enjoyment.  They were splendid! 
I could almost see my Daddy’s smile, as the taste of fresh, tender lima beans filled my mouth and my heart with the kind of thing that nourishes and encourages me on days when it just doesn’t seem possible that he is really gone.

That got me thinking about some other summer things.  On my counter was a round, fat, red-fleshed watermelon.  Middle Sister had stopped and picked it up for me at a local produce stand.  I had sliced it open, and needed to finish getting it out of the rind and into the fridge. 
006 Summer days

On hot summer days, Daddy would float a watermelon in the old milk cooler.  (This was the days before the bulk tanks.)  On a late summer afternoon, some time before the milking and evening chores called his name, he would bring it and Mama’s big butcher knife to the back yard under the big maple and would call us to come.  Mama didn’t like watermelon, so she usually wasn’t there, but his children would gather around him with great anticipation.  I can still remember that ripping, splitting sound as he cut the watermelon in half.  He would let us have pretty much as much as we wanted until it was gone.  It was cold and sweet.
What a sticky mess we must have been!
What a wonderful time we had!

Also, yesterday, Certain Man came into the kitchen, carrying a cardboard box with a goodly amount of fresh peaches from another roadside stand. “They’re seconds,” he announced triumphantly.  “I only paid $7.00 for the whole box!  I thought I might get something made from them.” 

004 Summer days

Friend Karen helped me peel those who were getting too soft and I made them into peach pie filling to use with various and sundry things:

005 Summer days

Today, Youngest Daughter took part of the pie filling and made “Delaware Dessert” which is Certain Man’s favorite dessert.  It is a cake type batter that has a layer of pie filling between two layers of batter.  It has a thin icing and is delicious when served warm with ice cream.

Peaches were something else that  Daddy was intense about.  I remember him heading off for the orchard, bringing back baskets and baskets of peaches.  We would stop everything else and can peaches.  He was proud of our Mama and her ability to can quality fruits and vegetables, and he would help with peeling or whatever needed doing.  This is where I also miss my Grandma Yoder.  Long after her mind was gone, she could still peel peaches.  I remember her sitting with a cake pan on her lap, peeling perfect peach halves in one long beautiful pare.  She peeled so thin that when she was done, even the tiny little protrusion at the base of the peach half was perfectly there.  We found this picture of her at our recent reunion, and most of the grandchildren who were my age agreed that this is how we remember her:

Black and White Reprint two
Here she is making a stack of chicken sandwiches.
She was a brilliant and resouceful person.

Late last night, a storm went through.  Our little farm got an inch and a quarter of wonderful rain.
It was a blessed and welcome relief to the hot, dry days that we’ve endured.  

008 Summer days

It was a gentle summer rain.  It started out looking like it was really going to hammer us.  Our Girl Audrey and I flew to the deck after one of my boxes went crashing down and put everything down from the deck railing.  The wind was fierce and the clouds menacing, but then things settled down and most of the rain fell during the quiet night hours.  I awoke this morning to a world that was washed, and my flowers looked like they appreciated the Heavenly watering.  Our Girl Audrey has been doing a wonderful job, but there is nothing like good old rain.

I remember our Daddy praying for rain.  In those hot, summer days when it seemed like day after day would go by and the corn would shrivel up and the Delaware summer was so hot we thought we would die.  We didn’t have air conditioning.  At nights, we would stick an old (and dangerous) fan into our window and try to move some air.  After we were sleeping, Daddy would often come up and unplug it.  In the mornings, on our hard linoleum floor, he would gather us around and he would pray.  He prayed long prayers, and sometimes it seemed like he would pray around the world and back again.  He would pray for people he loved who weren’t believers, and his voice would sometimes break over the words.  He would pray for his aging parents “in the declining years of their lives”.   He would pray  for his “dear companion” which we knew was our Sweet Mama, and for each of his children by name.  He would pray that we “would all come safely home without the loss of one.”  He would pray for neighbors, for his brother’s family, who were a missionaries in far away Ethiopia.  He would pray for the ministers and for the church and for the school.  And he would offer grateful praise for the day that had been given, and for “the country place that we call home.”  He would humbly ask for the rain which was so needful for the farm’s ongoing operations.  He would thank God for Jesus and for the price that was paid for our redemption.  He would ask for forgiveness for sin and “where he had failed and come short of God’s will.”  By the time he got to this point, we knew he was almost done, and that our boney knees would soon get some relief.

I was riding this morning with our Sweet Mama.  Suddenly, out of the blue she said, “Do you know what song has been going over and over in my head?  Of course I had no idea.  Then in a strong, determined voice she began that old song, “If I could hear my mother pray again,” except she changed the words to “If I could hear my husband pray again . . .”  I listened as she plowed through the chorus, not missing a word, but her voice clouding over with tears as she progressed on through.  She finished bravely, quaveringly, as the tears spilled over onto my cheeks, and then there was quiet in the car.  I thought about those prayers of our Daddy’s and how the memory of them comforts me.  I thought about how it must be for her to have prayed with him pretty much every single night that they were together for 56 years, and what an emptiness that leaves in her heart and home.  

I am so comforted by the fact that we serve a God who is not bound by time.  I believe those prayers of our Daddy are still circling the throne of God for us — and for many of you who read this.  He prayed on down the corridor of time as he prayed for the futures of people he cared about.  He prayed for the church to prosper, for the school to be successful.  He prayed that we would be faithful, that we would come safely home without the loss of one.  He “prayed ahead” so to speak, and that gives me renewed courage and hope in these hot, summer days when the memories of him are everywhere around me.  
It’s not so far to Heaven, Dear Friends.  Let’s all get safely home “without the loss of one.”

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

It always happens, that is, if the rains come in a timely fashion, that the daughters of Mark Yoder, Sr. get just a little bit obsessed with getting their sweet corn done.  Last year there was not enough to go around.  One of us got none.  The other two got far less than they had hoped.

Now, granted, the families are shrinking (at an alarming rate in all three households, to be honest!) But to put a proper Sunday lunch together, a Yoder gal needs home-frozen yellow sweet corn.  So this year, there has been proper attention paid to where it could be procured, and, sure enough, this week was the week for it.

Now Certain Man’s Wife likes to do some up for the very married, newly married and nearly married in her family.  And Middle Sister likes to have a goodly supply for her family, and the two nearly marrieds in her family, so CMW, in a mode of thinking ahead, remembered that there was a time when 6,000 ears were done by the family and she settled upon a figure of 3,000 ears for the family.  But when the price was a bit steeper than she anticipated and Youngest Brother’s patch held some promise of later corn, she changed the amount to 2,000 and Middle Sister added her 750 ears to that, and they decided that, bright and early on Monday morning, they would set to it. 

Certain Man took his truck and trailer to the property of the esteemed Corn Grower and left it there overnight so that the corn could be picked directly into the said convenience, and there wouldn’t be as much hauling and transferring in the morning.  Certain Man also took a vacation day from work so that he could be home to help.  CMW felt in her heart that this would prove to be the most important blessing of the day, and she was RIGHT!

The corn arrived and the hands that were available set about to husk.  And husk.  And husk.  Certain Man’s Wife looked at the pile when it arrived and thought it would not take too much time to do that corn.  But the hands worked steady for hours and hours before it was finally finished.  The gals got busy around the “cow” and washed and silked the husked ears in a continuous fashion   (also for hours and hours).  The help was phenomenal.   Sweet Mama was there.  Middle Sister came and brought her three youngest offspringin’s.  Youngest Sister was there from the start to the finish.  All five of Certain Man’s children and the two spouses helped at various times during the day.  Youngest Son’s Mother in Law came for a while and two young friends showed up and helped for a great many hours.  And so the day went on and on.

Sweet Mama baked a chocolate sheet cake and also brought some oreos.  Middle Sister brought garden tea, Youngest Daughter brought meatballs in a barbecue sauce, Certain Man’s wife had egg salad and chicken salad and a casserole of chicken and dressing and gravy.  Once the cookers got fired up, there was hot corn with butter and salt to grab in between all the many jobs and the day wore on.

Along about two or three o’clock, a sense of something not being quite right began to tug at Certain Man’s Wife’s subconscious thought.  Things were just not getting done like they should.  Where was all this corn coming from?  She kept mulling it over and over in her head.  “I know that we did 6,000 ears one year,” she contemplated.  “Where is all this coming from?  We aren’t going to be done here for hours and hours.  I just don’t understand it.”  There were a few good natured comments about how the corn was multiplying rapidly, but people were good natured about it, and the hands kept on moving. 

“How many ears did you say we got?” was a frequent question, and Certain Man’s Wife tried to reassure people with logic.  “We ordered 2,750 with Aunt Sarah’s.  Kauffman’s sent us an extra 75 ears, so we should have around 2,825 or so.  One year we did 6,000, so we should be able to wrap this up pretty well.” 

In a reflective moment, CMW began to go over the year of 6,000 ears, and a slow, sickening realization began to creep into her very soul.  Oh, dear!  There was a year that 6,000 ears of corn were processed, but that was in one week, not one day.  Oh, dear!  What should she say?  How should she comfort all these hard workers? 

“You know what, guys?” she said in the most contrite voice that she could muster.  “I’ve been thinking about those 6,000 ears of corn.  And I am ashamed to say this, but that was the total for a week, not a day!”

“I wondered!” said Youngest Sister.  “I was sure we never did this much corn, and we don’t have the help that we did back then.”

“I did seem like alot,” said Sweet Mama, who stayed until the last ear was silked.  “This seemed like a terrible lot of corn to me.”

And various and sundry others added their opinions.  But it was too late to do anything about it.  The corn was picked, the corn was husked, it had to be processed.  And so, the faithful labored on.  Automatically filling the cookers, cooling, draining, cutting it off the cob, packaging it, getting it to the freezer.  Over and over again.

And it came to pass, that Beloved Son in Law and Eldest Son pulled the last two loads out of the cookers to the sound of great cheers around 10 pm and the weary cutter-off-ers got the last ears finished and Certain Man carried the last bags to the freezer, and the major job was done.  Some scurried off to their abodes, some stayed and helped to clean up, but finally, the wash baskets were clean, the muck buckets washed and upside down on the lawn, the tables washed off, the corn cobs taken to the pasture, and the cookers disconnected and put away and the floor sprayed down and the towels and hot pads hung on the wash line.  Some very, very tired, but some very, very pleased people were finally done.

Each of the four Newly/Nearly Married couples had 25 “pints” of corn.  Eldest Daughter had 50.  Middle Sister had 80 “almost quarts” and Certain Man’s Wife had 100 of the same.   Next week we will do some for Youngest Sister, Lord willing, probably some for Sweet Mama, and if there is extra in Youngest Brother’s patch after his wife and children do what they need, we will add to the coffers of whoever wants to have more.

It is so nice to have corn in the freezer again.  Now and again, Certain Man will make muttering noises about how CMW should just buy frozen corn from the store and “doctor” it up.  He thinks she could make it taste almost as good.  But then he goes out of his way to help in any way possible for her and her sisters to freeze whatever amount they feel is necessary, and when it is finally done, oh, how sweet it is!

And that is the News from Shady Acres.  Certain Man is suffering greatly today from an old shoulder injury that was aggravated by all his hard work yesterday.  Certain Man’s Wife is not getting much done in the way of homemaking duties, and the children have proven once again that days like yesterday wouldn’t get done without their stellar help.

Corn Days 02
Alma is fixing a corn cutter

Corn Days 03
Sarah is busy cutting off with a knife.  You have to hold your mouth
just right to do this efficiently

Corn Days 01
I’ve had questions about the “cow.”  
This white spigot thingy in the middle of the picture is the COW.
Certain Man made it so we can silk our corn under running water
while sitting here together.  It is a great invention.  
It has helped us solve a great many of the worlds problems.
Why is it called a “cow?”  
Because it contains four liquid producing ports.

Corn Days 04
Elmer (in the foreground) and Edie (in the back) are the two youngest cousins.
They are called upon to assist with the corn days without the benefit that many
of their cousins enjoyed — the main one being a huge amount of cousins all
in the same predicament — forced into child labor by over zealous mamas.
They helped alot yesterday, but it would have been easier for them
had they had some fellow sufferers.  
It is high time for some of the great grands to join the fracas.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

This afternoon we had a small shower
for Raph’s Ohio Heart Throb.
Somehow it is easy to love the girls who love my sons!

Regina

The wedding is less than four weeks away.
The days grow short, my lists grow long.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I caught our Newlyweds in a pensive moment the other night . . .

AA Newlyweds

I love the picture.

But I love the young adults
 even more!

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized