Monthly Archives: October 2008


    There was wind whistling through the cracks and crevices in Virginia’s mountain house.  “Shack” would have been a more apt description of the place she called home.  The house was clean, but there was little else positive to say about it. The plaster was falling from the ceiling  and walls, the roof leaked, and she shivered in the dark and cold that was a part of her everyday existence.
    But the holes in her heart were even larger.  She was a “war rat” – an unwanted, unloved, and ignored child.  When her mother’s husband came home from the war and found his wife had borne a baby girl to his brother in his absence, he isolated the child and eventually sent her to live with a grandmother.  As the years passed, she walked the tight rope of life with little to balance her and even less to cushion her many falls.  Marriage, children, divorce, remarriage, his children, her children, their children until the numbers were in the double digits, and in it all, poverty that colored her life and the life of her family with a desperation that is as familiar to the poor as living and breathing.
    In the little town where she lived there was a small Mennonite church.  The kindly pastor and his wife also ran the local general store.  Virginia often stopped to chat and found a friendly welcome with the family who ran the store.  But her husband was unequivocally opposed to church.  He was the proverbial Mountain man who tore through the town, engine at full throttle, to disrupt prayer meeting or whatever meeting that was going on at the little mountain church.
    And then the little church found itself in the middle of the hardest thing that can happen to a church.  There was a painful split and they found themselves with hardly any members and reeling from the pain and confusion that always happens when there is discord in the family of God.  The church house, newly remodeled and beautiful was useless unless it had people to fill it.
    Slowly, in the hearts of Faith, the pastor’s wife, and Rose, the fine wife of my brother Nelson, a dream began to form.  They longed to touch the lives of the many women in their small town for Jesus, and they believed that there should be some way of learning to know them better, earning the right to speak to their lives, share in their sorrows and joys.  They struggled against the temptation to turn inward and purposed that they would reach out in any way that was appropriate for Christian women in their situation.
    So they began to meet on Thursday mornings in the colorful fellowship hall of their church.  They posted some notices, spread the word by mouth and prayed.  They had material for comforts, they had quilt frames that could be used, they encouraged ladies to bring their hand work and crafts and they made a cozy and comfortable and a safe place for women to get together and talk and sew and laugh and cry.  They served a hot lunch to the women and demanded nothing in return.  And it was into such a gathering as this, that Virginia (now in her late 50’s) crept one morning, trusting that an invitation from the pastor’s wife meant that she just might be welcome there.
    Nothing could have prepared her for what happened to her in the months that followed.  She was prayed for, she was loved, she was accepted, her work had value to the friends that she made in “Women’s Group” as together they put together “ugly blankets” used by the local homeless shelter, and pieced and knotted comforts for the needy in the area.  But most importantly, a spark of Faith lying dormant in her heart began to be fanned into a holy fire, and the time came when she became a member of the church
    Her house was still cold, dark and inadequate, but the light of the Lord Jesus was shining in her heart and it began to make a difference in how she related to her husband and to the many children they shared.  And she enjoyed so much the time in the sunny and warm fellowship hall at the church.  Virginia had a generous and giving heart and she longed to give back to the people who had taken her into the circle of friendship that defined her life.
    On Thursdays, she often asked if she could please do the dishes after the meal that was served.  The leaders of the group would usually say, “No, Virginia, we can do the dishes.  You just go on and enjoy the sewing.” but she kept on asking until the day when they decided to let her do them.  There is a large opening between the kitchen and the fellowship hall in their church and it soon became evident that Virginia was having a really good time in there doing dishes.  She was bouncing around, singing and getting dishes done at an unusual speed.
    Rose went into the kitchen and said, “Wow, Virginia!  You surely act like you are happy to be doing dishes!”
    She stopped and turned her face to Rose.  “You don’t understand,” she said with a huge smile.  “I’m doing dishes in my dream kitchen.  All my life I’ve dreamed of doing dishes in a kitchen as nice as this one, and today, I’m living my dream!”
    As the ladies listened to her life story, heard the incredible work of grace in her life and learned to love her, they pondered how they could help somehow with the living situation she found herself in.  As a church, they began to discuss what they could do for her.  And then there was a fire.  In most houses, a chimney fire is reason for concern, but in an old, already falling down house, it is catastrophic.  The house didn’t burn down, but the damage made living in it even more unsuitable.  However, the family had no where to go, so they continued their meager existence in the shack on the side of the mountain.
    But then the church, motivated by the Women’s Group, really felt strongly that they needed to something to help, and they hatched up a plan to replace the shack with a newer, brighter house trailer parked higher on the mountain.  It was an endeavor blessed by the Lord on almost every hand.  They found a trailer – not anything extra fancy, but in good condition, and they moved it in and began the seemingly endless task of getting things hooked up.
    Down in the shack, Virginia watched longingly as the details worked themselves out.  She could hardly believe that this wondrous place was going to be hers.  Some days she would climb the hill behind her house to where the trailer was parked and she would sit in the sunny trailer and dream of the day when it would be her home.  It took some doings, but that day finally came, and Virginia and her husband and some of their sundry children moved in.
    If you meet Virginia, you would see a mountain woman, old before her time.  She has plucky smile that belies the heartache she feels about the husband and the children that she has loved so long, but she is a woman with purpose.  She knows where to go with her concerns and problems, she brings them to the Father, and she tells her friends that she made at church and encourages them to pray.  She is a part of the body of Christ and she is needed and loved and appreciated.  And that ornery mountain man, still not willing to come to church, has become softer and friendlier and even quieter towards the people his wife has taken into her heart.
    The one thing that my sister in law says that hits me every time I hear it is this: “Sewing Circle (or whatever we want to call it) is not nearly as much about sewing as it is about building relationships.”  Ladies, think for a minute about our calling.  And why it is important that we form relationships.  As women, it is so important that we are involved in things that have eternal value.  That we affirm each other and validate each other, that we encourage each other that we “sharpen” each other.  All of this happens, quite frankly, in the context of relationships.  And we should, for that very reason, nurture relationships with people around us who don’t know Jesus.  What is it that we have in our hands?  Is it a needle and thread?  Is it the ingredients for supper for someone?  Is it a Bible study lesson?  Is it a mop and a broom?  Is it a love for children?  Is it a pen and paper? Is it a computer?  Is it a job that brings us into contact with people who are hurting?  Any of these things can be the seed for a harvest of friendships.  Friendships that we can (and should)  use as an avenue for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A relationship provides a tool, a vehicle if you will, for the good news of salvation, and anytime we are blessed with the opportunity, we ought not let it slip.
~As told to Mary Ann Yutzy 10/30/08



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The gals
Me and My Gals (minus Jessica)
 at Youngest Daughter’s 18th Birthday Party.

Gina, Chris, Me, Rach and Beeba
Oh, what a night it was!


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Another Week Has Passed . . .

Last Monday was a gorgeous day.  The skies were spectacular, and it was warm.  Certain Man had a brush pile to burn, and we had invited the church for a hot dog roast and a hay ride.  There were some extra friends who joined us, and we had a great time.  It was almost full moon and it was a perfect night for a hay ride.  The slide show is from that night.  It was not such a perfect night for pictures, but what I’m posting what I took.

Tuesday, the ladies of our church were invited to help clean a trailer for an elderly lady in our church.  That was a most rewarding day.

Wednesday — My Birthday!!!  I am now 55.  I can legally join our local senior center (with restricted benefits, but Hey!  It’s a wonderful Senior Center, and I just might join when I can get a full year for a year’s dues.  I spent that day making applesauce.  We got the nicest Jona-gold apples from Pennsylvania.  Out of 3½ bushels we got over 90 quarts of applesauce!  The troops were really out that day!  Sister Sarah, Elmer and Edi, Eldest Daughter, Friend Lynn Lee and Friend Ada Lee.  It was a wonderful time.

Thursday.  More Apples.  This day, we made apple pie filling for Sister Sarah,  Eldest Daughter and some even for me.   (I had done some previously, so I didn’t need so much). Eldest Son’s Fair Spouse joined us and was a most welcome addition to
the other busy hands of Sister Sarah, Elmer and Edi, Eldest and Middle
Daughters and myself.   This day we got over 64 quarts of apple pie filling from 2 bushel, and I have another ½ bushel to use.  So I made some up into apple dumplings, but we have some left to use up somehow.  In the evening was a chorus program at Youngest Daughter’s school, and a very nice program it was.  Those youngun’s are GOOD!

Friday — Certain Man wasn’t feeling good, and he took a sick day.  I ran some errands for him, and had an exchange that just might lead to a secretary/receptionist job for Oldest Son’s Fair Spouse.  It was a day of catching up and putting away and there was one very tired gal by evening.  Oh, and My Sweet Mama came home from Pennsylvania.  It’s so good to have her home.

Saturday — This was the day to cook all day.  We were co-ordinating food for the memorial service for our neighbor and I was cooking stuff for that.  I had good help for it, and everything went well.

Sunday — Church and then we flew home to get ready for the Memorial Service.  It was a warm and special time and I loved hearing all the stories about our friend and neighbor, Mr. Willey.  Again, there was a great helper in the form of Lisa Marieder who lightened my load and gave incredible assistance at the house where we fed probably 50 people.  I came home, found my kitchen all cleaned up by my daughters, fed my ladies and crashed.  Then, in the evening, we had some company to play games and finally, it was time to call it a night.  I slept like a rock and feel so much better this morning.  But now it is off to the dentist and another full week.   I haven’t been able to be as active as I would like on here, but as you can see, there really were some valid reasons.


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Go on over to
and see some pictures
of some people that I love!
Thanks, Cerwindoris!


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Sunday Evening

Roland and Lillian 1

When Certain Man and I moved to the farm that we call Shady Acres, there were some neighbors up the road from us whose farm bordered ours.  They were wary of us.  They didn’t particularly like chicken farmers.  There was a long history of chicken catchers getting on their property, and there was a rickety barbed wire fence that was of particular concern to them.  It seemed like there was a history of every time a flock of chickens went out, the fence was damaged. 

Certain Man had been duly warned.  We talked about it carefully and he decided that he would take fastidious watch over the fence the first time our chickens went out, and if there was any damage, we would repair it or pay to have it repaired.  The neighbor man, fussy and out of sorts, sat at the end of the driveway and kept watch over his fence.  The chicken catchers caught out of the end of the houses closest to his property.  The skid loader got into the fence and damaged it.  Certain Man told me about it the next morning and said that he was going to fix it as soon as possible.

It must have been mid-morning when the phone rang.  It was Mrs. W.  “Is Mr. Yutzy there?” she asked politely.

“I’m sorry, he isn’t here.  This is his wife.  May I ask who is calling?”

“This is Mrs. W, down the street.  If you could have him call us as soon as possible, please.”

“Ah, Mrs. W!  Is there a problem?”

“Well, yes, there is.  The chicken catchers damaged our fence, and we cannot have things like this going on.”

“I am so sorry, Ma’am.  Daniel said that they had gotten into it and he is going to fix it as soon as possible.  We regret that it happened, and Daniel wants to see if maybe they would consider catching out the other ends so they don’t get into the fence the next time.  But it was damaged by our chicken catchers and it is right for us to take care of the repair.”


“Is there anything else?  I’ll have Daniel call when he gets back in, but if there is something else . . .”

“No, No.  He doesn’t have to call.  I mean, if he is going to fix the fence, there is no need to call . . .”  She seemed quite relieved and a wee bit flustered.

“Mrs. W., if there is something we can do to keep the feelings good between us, we would really like to do it.  It is not much fun for neighbors to live side by side and there to be hard feelings between them.  So if there is something that is troubling you, please don’t hesitate to say it.”

She thanked me and hung up.  Certain Man made sure he fixed the fence and he worked hard over the next few years to do all he could to win the trust of our next door neighbor.  And by the blessing of our Heavenly Father and a few instances that were almost miraculous in the eyes of Certain Man’s Wary Wife, a solid friendship and mutuality was born that has been a source of great joy.  In the nineteen years that Certain Man’s Family has lived at Shady Acres, there have been some incredibly happy/funny/poignant memories made between the two families.

But Mr. W was ill.  He had a chronic lung disease that made breathing difficult and sometimes it seemed almost impossible for him to live much longer.  Somehow he always rallied — never coming quite back to where he was, but still coming back enough to laugh and chat when the rare time was that someone stopped in.   It seemed that especially over the last year, things had deteriorated rapidly to the point that Mr. W was always on oxygen and never left the house.

And I worried.  You see, there had never been a time when I had talked to him about Heaven and how to get there.  He was such a nice man, and it seemed as if I should be able to make time somehow.  There was a day last summer, in the middle of the weddings and such that he had called about something and I asked him if I could come up and talk to him about the way to Heaven and how to be sure he was going there and he had replied that he would be glad for me to do that.  He wanted his wife to be there, too, but he would appreciate that.

And the days went by.  There were always things that interfered.  Even when plans were laid, things would come up that seemed to shut out the opportunity to go and spend time.  I would pray for the right time and the right place and I would pray that his heart would be soft, and yet, it seemed like I just couldn’t get there.

Then last Monday night, on the way home from another viewing, we got a call from Mr. W.’s son who said that Mr. W had been taken to the hospital and they didn’t expect him to last the night.  There was nothing that would stop me then.  “We have to go,” I said to my willing husband.  “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about Jesus and how to get to Heaven.”   And so we went straight to the ICU of our local hospital.  His family was congregated in the waiting room and only his beloved wife of almost 60 years was with him.  He opened his eyes and he knew us, and I shared briefly with him the age old story of salvation and asked if he wanted me to pray for him.  He nodded an emphatic “Yes.”  I asked him to squeeze my hand if he understood and if he wanted to make sure of Heaven, and he did.  But things were so garbled because of his EPAP mask and I couldn’t be sure if he really understood.  I prayed for him, and he seemed glad.  I prayed the best I knew for forgiveness and salvation, but it just didn’t seem right not to hear him say the words.  He had lots of visitors that day, and I asked Mrs. W if any one had talked to them about the way to Heaven and she said, “No.  Not one.”

I prayed for another chance.  I told him that night that I wanted him to come home and that I wanted another chance to have him for our neighbor.  He was so tired, but he smiled and he seemed alert and thought again of how precious he has become to us.

And so, it was with joy that I heard they were bringing him home.  They warned me that it was with hospice, that they didn’t think he would last long, but when they brought him home late on Friday afternoon, I thought that I would get through the weekend and then I was going to go up there and I was going to make sure that he knew the way to Heaven.  That He believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Only Way to Heaven.  I wanted so badly to know for sure where this dear friend would spend eternity.

Yesterday, (Saturday) I was cleaning my study.  It needed it.  I’m not lying.  Certain Man was studying for a sermon.  He said that he was going to go see Mr. W. Sunday afternoon, after his sermon, after small group lunch.  When things quieted down.  I planned to go along.

But they called this morning (Sunday) soon after nine o’clock and said that he had slipped away during the night.  We went to the house and Mrs. W. cried in my arms.  She felt so small and frail.  “I’ve been so selfish,” she said, her words all trembly and broken.  “My daughter has been telling me for a while now that I needed to tell him that it was alright for him to go, but I wanted to keep him here.  But last night, I finally told him and-”  She broke down and struggled to get out the last few words, “– and I guess he must have heard me.”  She slept beside him on a couch and has had very little sleep this last week.  She and her daughter had taken care of meds and getting him settled and he had seemed pretty much the same as usual, but when she got up to check on him around three o’clock, she found him long gone.

And I am struggling so much tonight with the “might have’s”  “could have’s”  “ought’a have’s”  I wonder about life holding us so tightly in its grip that we cannot find time to do what is most important.  I was talking to one of my other neighbors this morning and wept as I confessed what feels like an almost unforgivable failure on my part.  She struggled greatly to comfort me, and I love her for her kindness, but I said to her, “You know, M.J., if one of my neighbor’s houses was burning, I wouldn’t stand outside and say, ‘If I have time, I’ll get in there and warn them.’ or “If it’s okay with them, I’ll try to get them out.’  NO!!!  I’d be flying in there, hammering down the doors —  anything to warn them.  And this is so much more important.”  The sad thing is, I think she understands, but I am not certain of her destiny.  I think I have noted on this forum before that I have so many neighbors right now that are terribly ill and it feels like there is a great opportunity before us for ministry and caring and sharing the gospel — and never enough time.  Something has got to change.  And I hardly know where to start.

But I need to start somewhere.  This is too important to ignore.  And the consequences and the heaviness in my very soul call to me with an urgency that I pray will motivate and energize and revolutionize the way I look at life and people.   

I know.  It isn’t about me.  It isn’t about working hard enough, saying the right things, or even about loving people in the right way.  It is about JESUS and OBEDIENCE.  And any time that I think it is all up to me, I am so wrong.  And so, tonight, I grieve for the friend and neighbor that I’ve lost and I grieve for the opportunities I let slip through my fingers.  And I also purpose to start with seeking to be more obedient to this Jesus whom I call “LORD” 

He is the only way the Heaven, and there is nothing else that matters more.


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We were in Pennsylvania last weekend.  The leaves are already turning.  It was so pretty.  I love the property that my brother and his sweet wife have bought.  There are mountains all around, and they live up a mountain and down an gravel road.

N&R  Fall Colors 1

This is the field beside their house.  It is almost like a plateau up there.

This is the entrance to their house.  I love these Blue Spruce.
N&R  The entrance

Their house is up around the corner.
  Nel and Rose are working on an addition to their house,
 so I am not going to show a progress picture.
It will be lovely when it is done.

I do not envy people as a rule.  I’ve been so blessed.  But I do struggle sometimes to not envy all of my brothers for one specific thing.  Each of them has grandbabies.
N&R  Nel and Sophia
Here is Nel with his youngest grandaughter, Sophia

N&R  Isabella

This is Isabella.  She is a precocious, precious little girlie. 
I sincerely enjoy talking to her.

And this is my lovely Sister in Love, Rose,
in her busy kitchen.
N&R  Rose in her kitchen

On Saturday, we canned applesauce for Isabella and Sophia’s family.  Nel and Rose’s son, Myron, and his beautiful wife, Abby, came and we had a wonderful time together.  The trip was a much needed break for this gal.  Certain Man and I enjoyed it immensely.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It’s been another busy week at Shady Acres. 
One of the high points of the week
was a bridal shower for this lovely lady:

Linda's Shower 1
Lord willing, On November 8th, Linda Wilson Wright will become Mrs. J.R. Campbell.

And guess what else????
I’m cleaning my study . . . again.
 Somebody, please, pity me!



I’m done!!!
Yippee, Yippee, Yay, Yay, Yay!!!
(and nobody even pitied me . . . oh, well!)


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