Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Thankful Wall continues to fill up.
We keep it up until Christmas, and it will get a few more signatures.
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Here are some pictures from our day today. . .

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Papa carved the turk.

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Christina and Grandma put together the date pudding.
(They were just a little frustrated because the Cool Whip© was still frozen.)

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Youngest Daughter is putting the three kernels of Indian Corn on each plate.

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The table.  Notice the three kernels of corn.
It is a family tradition to go around the table and say three things that we are thankful for from the year that is just passed.  It is worth the food getting cold to hear what is said in that quiet time.

Faces of the afternoon:

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Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in Law

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Friend Maegan and her precious little Izzy

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Carving that turkey really wears a man out!

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We got to have the kids for lunch —
and then they were going to Jessica’s family for another Thanksgiving dinner.

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Jeremy and Maegan and Isabella Yoder

And then, it’s time to begin the Christmas Village:

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The window sills need to be cleared off.

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I collect all the pilgrims and put them away.

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Certain Man begins to move the furniture out of east end of the family room in preparation for the two big tables that will hold the village.

Middle Daughter climbed up onto the shelf above the basement stairs and helped to hand down the boxes.  When Youngest Daughter got called down from an afternoon nap, Middle Daughter got the brilliant idea to hide behind the boxes.

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Boo!!!  She jumped out and surprised a very disgruntled little sister who was busy complaining about her precarious position on a ladder that was over the basement stairs.

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“If I had fallen, you would have been sorry!!!” says a very tired Rachel.  “And you can be glad you were out of reach.  I probably would have smacked you!!!.”  The job at hand was very distasteful to her.  “I want to take a nap!  This is the part of Thanksgiving that I hate.  It’s no fun to carry boxes!”

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I have news for you, girlie.  There are a few things about this day that I don’t particularly like, either. 

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And all this uproar and disarray is no fun.
At all  But . . .

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. . . eventually, things will take shape and all the boxes will be empty, and the Christmas Village will be up and we will enjoy it so very much.
As of tonight, the major thing that is finished is that the tables are up, the boxes are down, the train is out and the family is ready to call it a night!  It is a good time to take it a little bit easy.
Certain Man will be working on this the next few days and I am so anxious to see the finished product.  He has been given some new buildings and accessories, and he is making some changes to his layout, so it will be very interesting to see the finished product.

Stay tuned for updates!


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All the kids were home home for soup for lunch.
It was a sweet family interlude.

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Where there are Yutzy kids, there is bound to be a computer!
Here, Deborah, Raph and Jessica find something to their liking.

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Lem didn’t lose much time to get upstairs and find his blue guitar.

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Regina finds diversion in a Calvin and Hobbs book.

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Today is Jessica’s birthday.  She and Lem have had to divide time between two houses, but this family was glad for some time with them.

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Regina and Raph took a few hours out of a very busy day to be with us, then left for Ohio in the late afternoon.
At the other end, her family is waiting.  We will miss them, but I cannot help but be glad for her family that will have some time together.

(And yes, he said he KNOWS he needs a haircut!)

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When Jessica went to take a nap, Lem took the opportunity to sign our Thankful Wall.
The top is pretty much full, but there is plenty of room at the bottom.
So he got himself comfortable, and wrote quite a missive.
It was a wonderful time together, but too soon gone.
Now it is “forward to the fray.”
I need to get some food done ahead for tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.


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Guess what I’ve been doing!

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Baking bread for Thanksgiving Boxes, Yep, yep!

And now that this little project is done, and the boxes are packed, it is time to get on with the business of the Holidays!

This is so exciting!  For just a few hours, we have all our children in the same state.


I’m just a little bit tickled out of my wits!



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Today is the Birthday of Middle Daughter.
Happy Birthday, Beeba!
She was born on my Daddy’s 50th birthday.

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This picture was taken on their last birthday together.  Our family had gotten together At Cannon Mennonite Church’s Fellowship Hall for Thanksgiving dinner in 2005, and nearly everyone was there.  Daddy got very tired about mid afternoon, so he and Mama went back to their house.  My nephew, Mike wanted some four generation pictures with Grandpa, and Deborah wanted a birthday picture, so they went back to the house and had a mini photo shoot.
Less than a month later, Daddy went Home to Heaven.

Grandpa's and Mike's
Mike, Grandma holding Jadon, Grandpa holding Lauren, and Heather, pregnant with Colin.

The pictures did not turn out very well, and I promise you that the only thing my Sweet Mama will like about this picture is that she is beside her Beloved Mark, but this is what I remember most about that day.
And this day brings it to remembrance.

Today is the birthday of my Daddy’s twin, Luke.  He and is family are being trampled by what he calls “an Unwelcome Visitor.”  He calls him “Lou” and we hear beneath the humor a vicious and heartbreaking struggle as the family adjusts to the diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  “Living with Lou” is what he calls it, and I often weep when I read the accounts of the inroads that “Lou” makes into the life of this much loved Uncle.

This is a bitter sweet day for our family.  I told my Sweet Mama’s side of the family that depending on what we focus on, it could be more bitter than sweet.  But my Xanga friends have often heard me call this season “The Season Of Grateful Praise” and I believe that we are called to give thanks especially when it is a sacrifice to do so.

And so, I choose, once again, a grateful heart.
And in that choosing,
there is found one of the best blessings of all.

I can choose to be grateful.


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Sunday Midnight

Tonight I used up a calling card and a half talking to our Precious Little Latin Lupe Lu!  She had called the other day when I wasn’t home, so I decided that this evening would be a good time to catch up.  What a splendid time we had.  She says that she and her husband are doing good.  She is six months pregnant and doing very well in her pregnancy.  I was so pleased to see this picture of her.  There was a time, a few months back, when she was so sick and so dehydrated that she weighed all of 78 pounds.

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Guatemala is a land of deep spiritual darkness, and our “almost a daughter” is in the middle of an extended family that is steeped in superstition and even witchcraft.  She confesses with her mouth the Lord Jesus, claims the power and blood of our Lord Jesus, and sings in the darkest nights, but things are often hard for her and many times confusing.  Please pray for her.   She is there without anybody in her family, and she is so vulnerable.  Pray especially for a safe delivery and a healthy, happy baby.  The area where she has come under the most pressure has been in the superstitions surrounding pregnancy.  She has steadfastly refused to be party to the darkness, and I feel an urgency to pray for protection for both her and her unborn child.

Once again tonight, I choose to believe that the Loving Hands of our Heavenly Father can reach where mine cannot, and that this love I have for her is minute compared to His. 

Ah, my precious Lupe. . .
“The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
be gracious unto you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give
you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26


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Do you ever wish that you could stop and listen in on conversations that you just catch a snatch of?

Today, in a doctor’s office in Christiana, I was on my way to move my car that was parked on the wrong side of the building, and I came upon this old couple, standing in the hall, talking.  Just as I got about past them, I heard the following exchange.

“You know,” said the old geezer plaintively, “When you lose your clothes, you’re really sunk.”

“It’s so true,” said the old lady sadly.  She heaved a big sigh.  “And that’s just what happened to my sister. . . “

I’ve been pondering this all day.  Could someone shed some light on this?  Are there people out there sinking without their clothes???

This is entirely too much for my imagination.


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Another Story

I said good-bye to an old friend on Saturday.

When I was about eleven years old, My auntie offered me the old piano that had been at their house for years and years. I wanted to learn to play piano. My desire was to get as good as my cousin, Bonnie, who could play for crowds while they sang, and it looked so wonderful. I was probably just looking for the attention, more than anything else, but when my Aunt Freda said that I could have their old one, I was elated.

It rode from Wilmington to Greenwood on the back of a truck. Not an easy or gentle ride. It was big and black and ugly, but it played, and the tuner said that it was a “diamond in the rough” and that was enough for me. Especially after my Sweet Mama and Oldest Brother spent a day with paint remover and uncovered a beautiful piece of furniture under all that black paint.


I tried to learn to play it. I took lessons from old Ami Hamstead, and I think I was a sore trial to his orderly soul. I early learned to play by ear almost anything that I knew well. The melody line was usually accurate and the harmony wasn’t the notes, but more like the chords. Oh, and I never figured out many complicated chords. I found my twelve bass accordion an accommodating friend as well, and I spent many hours squalling away on that or plinking my own versions of familiar songs on the piano. I spared poor Mr. Hamstead some anxiety by quitting the lessons after about a year. And the years passed.

Then I got married and moved to Ohio. The heavy old piano had stayed at the old home place, and been relegated to the closed in porch. Through the heat of many a summer and the cold of many a winter, it was pretty much just a space occupier. But then Youngest Sister and her husband bought the home place and by that time, Certain Man and I were back in Delaware.

“Mary Ann,” said my little sister one day (probably in 1985), “If you want that old piano, you had better get it.  If you don’t want it, I’m getting rid of it.  It can go to the dump for all I care.”’

I was alarmed.  Not my piano!  “No, don’t do that,” I told her.  “I want it.”

“Well, if you want it, you had better get it.  I want it out of here!”  

And so I went to my patient and loving husband and prevailed upon him to line up some help to move the heavy old piano from Youngest Sister’s house to our house.  It was just a short trip – maybe two miles.  Again they brought it on the back of a pickup truck, and heaved and groaned and shoved and pulled until they had it almost into our big green room.  And then it happened.  Don’t ask me how, because I truly don’t know, but some how, Certain Man managed to set it down on his toe.

This piano weighed 560 pounds.  Setting it down on a toe is not advisable, either in consideration of the toe or the disposition of the one to whom the toe is attached.  Certain Man writhed in pain and made great unhappy noises.  If he hadn’t been in the company of watchful beings, the piano may have suffered bodily injury as well.  I have often said that Certain Man had a grudge against that piano from that moment on.   This is a subject which comes up frequently in the discussions about the piano.  But the piano was in the house by the time the toe was injured, so it stayed.  And when we moved from Andrewsville Road in 1989, Certain Man looked at it darkly, hinted that this might be a good time to get rid of it, but he and his trusty helpers eventually loaded it up on the back of a really big truck and took it 15 miles to Milford, where it was unloaded into the living room at Shady Acres.  It has been here ever since.

We have a great many happy memories surrounding the old piano.  We used it for many a year for the inspirational and energetic singing that our small group loved to do together.  Friend Karen has made the old piano do things that made some pretty pitiful sounding people sound (actually) pretty good.  The families from Certain Man’s office have come every Christmas for almost seven years and one of the things we always do is sing the songs of Christmas with the glorious music that Karen was able to produce out of the century old instrument.

In the last few years, the tuner has been warning me that the days were numbered.  He would sigh and try to once again get it into some resemblance of tune to see us at least through the holidays.  Last week, he came out to the kitchen where I was making a pot of soup and told me that it was just useless.  

“If you gave me $10,000.00 and told me to fix it,” he said sadly, “I couldn’t do it.   There is just nothing left.  The hammers are moth eaten and the screws won’t stay tight.  I’m so sorry, but I cannot conscientiously charge you to tune this piano when I know it isn’t any use.  What it needs is an international prayer chain for its healing, but I’m afraid that even that isn’t going to do much good.”

I reasoned with him, reminded him of its wonderful tone, its gorgeous woodwork, and the memories that we have.  He was very understanding, and he offered to try to get it through the holidays again, but he said that it really wasn’t a good investment of time and money.

“What should we do with it?” I asked him.  I thought that maybe there was a place just looking for old pianos like this.  I mean, I loved it so much, I could hardly bear to think of it not being worth something.

“I can tell you the place,” he said firmly.  “It’s down at Hardscrabble (an actual place in Delaware where our most famous landfill is located).  It’s called the DUMP.  It’s the best place for it.  Yes, it’s a beautiful piece of furniture, but it is useless as a piano.  And old pianos are a dime a dozen.  There are so many of them around, and there just is no use for them.”

I like my old piano tuner.  He is a little like my piano.  Old and worn out, but precious because of a rich history, and because someone loves him.  And he is a person.  Not a thing, and as a person with a great deal of earnest emotion, he told me these things in the presence of the Man with the injured toe.  And it didn’t take Certain Man very long to decide that if the piano was really not worth repairing, that the best time to get rid of it was NOW.

So, once again, he rallied his troops around him, and called up the swarthy forces that involve Beloved Son in Law, Eldest Son, and friend Joel, and they showed up on Saturday around noon and they took that old piano out of here.  For good.   Before they all descended upon the house, I went in and sat at the old piano one more time.  I looked at its intricate woodwork, and played a few of my familiar old songs.  I thought about the need that it filled in my life, and the memories that are so full of warmth and hope and laughter and music.  And I cried some silly tears.

They dismantled part of it to try to make it a little easier to load, and I rescued the intricately carved front piece/hymnal holder.  Middle Daughter has a strong artistic imagination, I was certain that she could think of something that would be an interesting  use for that almost perfect piece of antique wood.

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I couldn’t bear to watch as they slid it out of the living room and onto the waiting pickup.  Yes.  It rode out on the back of yet another pickup.  “Aw, Mom,” said Oldest Son tenderly.  “You really feel bad, don’t you?”  He hugged me against his strong chest and patted my shoulder.  “You’ll be okay, Mom.  But I know it is hard.”  That made me cry some more.

I felt like I was betraying a friend, and it tugged at my heart more than I ever dreamed that it would.   I kept telling myself it was all so silly.   After all, It was just a piano.  All over this world, there are far greater losses than an old piano that isn’t worth fixing.  And that causes me to think about what is really important to me.  What are the things that cause me to bend the proverbial knee of my carnal heart?  Why can’t I recognize those behaviors and things that make me want more when so many people in this world have so little?

I don’t think it is wrong to enjoy things that make memories, bring us pleasure, allow us to share, etc.  But this old piano has made me do a lot of thinking about holding things dear to our hearts that aren’t eternal.  What we’ve been given can become so important to us when in fact, it is a tool, entrusted to us for the sake of the Kingdom.  And it is right to use things to make memories, draw people in, share with them the good news of Salvation.  But things should be a means to an end, not the stuff we hang our hearts on..

“You can get another one,” say the soothsayers.

“No, I can’t,” is my standard answer to that.  “There isn’t any other piano that is worth the money when it doesn’t have the history, the memories that this one did.”  Maybe I need to rethink that.  I don’t know.  That old piano isn’t somewhere feeling rejected.  It isn’t troubled by the way Certain Man felt about it or the decision to get rid of it.  It bothers me, but it doesn’t bother the piano.  It won’t shed a single silly tear if we decide to replace it.  And the things we always used it for are still a part of our lives, of our plans for the future.

I guess there is a place for another piano at our house.  I just don’t know if there is space.


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Last Week, I while reading a blog:


I came across a recipe that she had posted for making cinnamon/applesauce ornaments.

Today, after our Thursday morning Bible study, a few of the gals stayed and we mixed up two batches.

I was quite pleased with the results, and this little garland was one of the products of the afternoon:

I was just so pleased with it!
Thank you, homesteadingtess!
I enjoy your recipes so very much!

And the other day, I went to pick up Youngest Daughter at school
And whom should I see, but
 in her bus.
You can’t see MandMgreen, but she is driving that first big bus.
I certainly don’t envy her that job, but I’m glad that she does it.
Thanks, Erica


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Uncle David and Uncle Luke
This picture was taken today at my Uncle Luke’s house.
Uncle Luke, on the right, is my late father’s twin.
The oldest brother of Daddy and Uncle Luke is Uncle David (on the left)
NurseEd , one of Uncle David’s Grandsons,
made it possible for these two brothers to have some time together.
Thank you, Ed.
This is a best gift!

Our hearts are heavy tonight with the diagnosis that Uncle Luke has received.
ALS — Lou Gehrig’s Disease

I’m so proud of my cousins — his family.
They are united, committed, loving and wise.
I wish so much that the outlook would be brighter,
But they know the God of their father,
And they know where to go for comfort.

And even though this is a terrible, terrible thing,
It isn’t bigger than our incredible God.

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you.
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
You will not be burned;
The Flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD you God,
The Holy one of Israel,
Your Savior. . . ” 
Isaiah 43:2,3a


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We went home to Mama’s house last night.  The usual first Sunday get together had been postponed because of communion last week at our church.  It was one of the smallest times together ever, and we keenly miss those of our family circle who couldn’t make it — but it was still so precious.  I still cannot call it “Mama’s House” without pang when I think of it. 

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At one corner, Chris, Jess and Josh

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Mark and Polly

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Raph and Regina

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Daniel and Mary Ann

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Frieda and Clint

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Our Sweet Mama

As a family, we are dealing with grief in a “familial” sort of way.  Our Daddy’s twin brother, Luke, is struggling with a strange muscular disorder that has changed life for him so drastically.  (If tears about this could fix it, believe me, it certainly would be improved!)   His brother, Dan, has been in the hospital and rehab for a couple of weeks, and deals with pain on a daily basis.  His sister, Ruth, and her husband, Eli, have been dealing with serious age-related issues for a couple of years.  His brother, Amos, is in Landis Homes, needing twenty four hour supervision because of Alzheimers disease. . .

Sometimes I think about my Aunts and Uncles and realize that the days are running out.  The ten oldest children were born in a little over 13 years.  They really are not so far apart in age.  Aunt Ruth, the oldest, is now 90.  Uncle Jesse, the youngest of those ten, is now 77.  (Aunt Miriam is 71) That’s not exactly what you would call a “young bunch” I guess.  But they are my aunts and uncles.  And most of the grandchildren are not so much younger.  The days for us are going just as fast.

This morning, I’ve got Heaven on my mind.  There is this scent to the air I breathe, this gorgeous autumn that compels me to think about  how glorious can be the ending, this thought about my Daddy — already there.  Yesterday morning, Middle Daughter made some comment about how excited Grandpa is to be watching over the edge of Heaven and realizing that it probably won’t be long . . .

I said, “Oh, Deborah!  It probably seems but an hour to Grandpa since he got there.  He has barely had time to turn around. . .”

She said, “Maybe, but maybe it seems like a thousand years.  Maybe he’s had time to learn all sorts of things and explore all manner of stuff that he just can’t wait to share with the people he loves!  It’s so exciting for me to think about!”

It did not comfort me much at that point.  I was crying copious tears over my beloved Uncle Luke.  But it has settled into my heart and made me think so much about that place that will someday be my home.  I guess it already is my home, I’m just not there yet.

And when I get together down here for a evening of sitting around the table with people that I love it makes me think about getting together over there — We can sit and talk forever and a day, and no one will have to leave, and the food won’t make us fat, and we won’t run out of the favorite stuff, and there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears.

But what I pray most is that no one will be missing.


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