Monthly Archives: December 2009


Today this precious little girl became our legal grandbaby.
Jesse and Christina were in court today for the finalization of the adoption.
They invited family and a few special friends to attend — and there was quite a representation
Great Grandpa Bontrager
Great Grandma Yoder
Grandpa and Achi Bontrager
Uncle Joel
Uncle Caleb
Auntie Abi
Jeremy, Maegan and Izzy Yoder
Grandpa and Grammy Yutzy
Auntie Beebs
Uncle Lem and Auntie Jess
Auntie Rach
Friend Lynn Lee
Friend John Love
And adding the happy family, we had 21 people there.
I remember the day that we went to court to finalize Christina’s adoption, and this day was an incredibly stirring day.  We had the best judge, who presided over the court with a smile that was effervescent.  He had taken time to read over the case thoroughly and he prepared a homily to give to those of us who congregated there.  Following the proceedings, he gave Charis’s parents a beautiful copy of what he had written to put with her baby book.  He affirmed Jesse and Christina as the “perfect match” as parents for this baby and he was incredibly personable and involved.  How I thank God for His goodness to us to give such an extraordinarily approachable presiding official for this momentous occasion.  It was truly a gift.

Tonight we give grateful praise for the precious gift of a child.



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Just in case anyone is wondering — there WILL BE a Christmas letter and picture from this family —

I just didn’t get it done –yet!  So hold on!  I still am planning on a Christmas mailing — I have the photo cards, I have the stamps, and almost have the letter done, and almost have the cards addressed.

24 days ago, as I came out of anesthesia, I wondered about a whole lot of things, and wondered if I would be able to do the things I need to do for Christmas.  And the truth is, I haven’t (aren’t you surprised???!!!???)

The thing I most wanted to do was cinnamon rolls for my neighbors.  And up until yesterday, I really thought that I needed to let it go this year.  But yesterday, there was a box of candy and a Christmas card from one of my neighbors.  It was signed by a single name.  My heart felt like it was breaking.  She has weathered yet another storm.  Apparently the man she was supposed to marry has gone.  She lives in the house that had been her grandma’s.  Her Grandma was my friend, and she died in January of this year.  At that time, this girlie was living with a guy, planning to marry him.  Obviously, something has changed.  The box of candy what what her grandma gave us every single year that we lived here for as long as I can remember.  It’s a tradition!

And so, this morning, I decided that I had to bake cinnamon rolls.  It was part of the tradition for our neighbors, and I didn’t want that to change.  For some reason, I have always needed to know my neighbors, longed for relationships with them, and wanted to be a part of a community where people helped eachother.  This neighborhood has been that for me.  We’ve been through alot together, these neighbors and us, and if a plate of cinnamon rolls at Christmas can help keep doors open, then I am willing to do what I can to get them made.

Guess what!  I did it.  I got up this morning, made 20 pans of cinnamon rolls, got them iced, and even wrapped in plastic wrap.  And I’m so glad I did.  Already there are three less than when I finished.  My one neighbor stopped about an hour ago with cranberry bread that he always brings me, and said, “Why did you think I brought the bread?  So I could get a pan of the cinnamon rolls!”  Another fellow stopped who always gets at least two pans, and Daniel had told him there could only be one this year because I didn’t make as many.  He looked bewildered at the other nineteen pans, but took his pan and went on his way.  Our Blind Linda’s mother and her sister stopped to bring Linda presents and they always bring a big box of Boscov’s chocolates for the family, and so another pan went with them.  Now the rest will sit here until Certain Man comes home from work and will take them to the various neighbors.

And I am going to go to my chair.  I think I will take a sweet nap and then we will get busy on some shrimp chowder for Christmas eve supper.  I’m expecting Youngest Son and his wife any time, and there will be helping hands for all the chopping.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.


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Four years ago today, my Daddy went home to Heaven.  It has been a bittersweet week on almost every count.  Therapy has gone well, I’m healing well (actually, it has been surprising to my therapists and myself!) and we’ve worked on our family’s calendar which necessitates lots of family togetherness, lots of going through pictures and of course the ensuing memories.

Today was my third physical therapy session.  Yesterday, I had a “late in the day” appointment, and they were gentle, even though they were thorough.  My Sweet Mama drove me and waited in the winter afternoon until I was done, and then we came home to the warmth and cheerfulness of the old farmhouse at Shady Acres.  We worked on the family calendar until fairly late, and I was feeling pretty good, so I actually cleaned up the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher.

This morning, I lay in my bed and realized that I was going to pay.  I did some stretching exercises, and thought about the hours until today’s session.  I tried to arrange the pain meds to maximize their presence in my system.  Friend Ruby was coming to clean, and Middle Daughter had big plans for today.  Certain Man was going to come home early so he could take me to PT, and I came downstairs and curled up in my chair and hoped that I might miraculously be able to stretch the rest of the way out before therapy.  And talked to my Sweet Mama.  She was going to Dover with Sister Sarah, and I thought that was a delightful diversion.  It sometimes seem that all those who grieve can’t help but follow some sort of unwritten code, and we mark the anniversaries in our hearts and we remember . . .

And then I had a call from Physical Therapy asking if I could come in at 9:30 this morning.  I had stated that I preferred a female therapist and there were none available when I scheduled — however, there had been a cancelation, and so they wanted me to come in at 9:30.  I did some quick calculations, remembered that I needed to go out anyhow to get some lab work done and decided that I would take the earlier appointment.

I was feeling pretty brave, so I actually drove myself.  Pulled into the parking lot, parked and went in.  It was a tough, tough session.  Maybe there wasn’t enough time between the two days, maybe it was the impending snow storm, but it wasn’t easy at all today.  My therapist is a Christian gal, and we chatted and enjoyed our conversation very much.  She spoke of her father, and how they weren’t close.  He had opposed her initial commitment to the Lord Jesus, and she spoke of her love for him, her prayers for him, and the tears stood in her beautiful eyes.  I was going to tell her about my precious Daddy going home to Heaven four years ago today, but it felt like my treasure of a Daddy should not be flaunted in the face of such a painful deficit.  Her hands were ice cold, but gentle, and she finished the pulling and bending part of the therapy and my knee felt like it was on fire.

“Okay, girlie,” she said kindly.  “Let’s get you on the bike.”

The bike.  My favorite part of therapy.  They’ve been astounded at my ability to actually get the pedals in a full circle, but it has actually been easier than I expected and the ten minutes of slow and easy pedaling is comforting to me.  I walked across the room to where it was standing and got myself arranged on it.

Ouch!!  It didn’t go as easy today.  I held my offending leg and eased it around the circle a few times until it was loosened up a bit, and then I began the slow and easy pedaling.  The noise and the colors of the therapy room faded as I closed my eyes and imagined myself as a little girl on a hot summer afternoon.

It’s late in the afternoon, and I see our family’s black Bel-Aire Chevrolet rounding Closser’s corner as my Daddy makes his way home from town.  I watch as it comes down the road and it seems like the back trunk is up a little.  I race through the pantry and into the garage and he parks the car and gets out.  I walk with him to the back of the car where a large flat cardboard box is protruding from under the tied down lid.

“What is it, Daddy?” I ask.  My daddy always provided for our needs, and he brought clothes and shoes and food and such, but he was never one to bring unexpected gifts.

“What do you think it is?”  His smiley crinkles are chasing themselves around his brown eyes.

“I have no idea!  Let’s open it up!”  He has no objections, so we get the box out of the back of the car and open it.  It is the most gorgeous blue girls’ bike that I have ever seen.  I cannot believe my eyes.  “For me?” I squeal.

“Who else?” He says.

My Daddy always loved bikes — he taught us all how to ride when we were little shavers, he bought old bikes and fixed them up for my brothers, and he knew that I loved riding bike.  But he didn’t like his little girl riding the boys’ bikes.  He was a fanatic about modesty, and it didn’t seem right to him when he saw little girls straddling the high bar on a boys’ bike.  I suspect he tried to find a used one, but finally decided to get me a new one.

I was ecstatic.  I wore that bike out.  I would spend many an afternoon, making the same circle.  Starting in the garage, I would pull out before thousands of imaginary, adoring spectators, making sure that my speed was even, my form perfect.  I would ride to the end of the driveway, make a short dash on the chip and tar road to the other driveway and then ride full speed ahead for the barn, make the wide circle, head back for the garage, go in the side door, and sidle up to the big garage door, ready to make my grand entrance again where the fans never tired of my monotonous routine, and no one ever competed for my space on the marquee.

And I shut my eyes on the exercise bike, and I imagine that I am nine years old and flying around that old homeplace circle.  My pigtails are flying out behind me, my bare feet are pumping the pedals, my legs are strong and my Daddy is watching and smiling . . .

And then the tears begin to fall.  I take deep breaths and try to not think about it.  I realize, too late, that this kind of imagining today is not a help to me.  I am suddenly not able to imagine myself in that long ago memory.  I am old and tired and my knee hurts like crazy and I suddenly miss my daddy with a sharp, unrelenting sorrow.  I try to keep the tears from sliding down, and when they do, I try to be unobtrusive about wiping them away.  The time is suddenly run out on the timer, and the assistant PT tech comes to get me off. 

Immediately concerned, she says, “Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I manage.  “Really!  I am!”

“The pain’s that bad?” she asks solicitously.

I can’t answer.   I get off the bike and follow the kind assistant across the room.  I still have the ice and stim part of my therapy to do, and they are fixing me up with royal treatment today.  The room is suddenly quiet and the several clients kindly avert their eyes. The Physical Therapist comes over, alarmed at the tears, and tries to assess what has gone so wrong.

“No, no,”  I manage to get out between sobs.  “It’s not the pain, though it is pretty bad today.  It’s that bike!”  Now they are really looking at me funny.  Finally I manage to say, “My Daddy died four years ago today. He almost never bought us gifts just for the anyhow of it, but one time he bought me a bike, and every time I get on that bike it brings back all the memories.  Especially today . . . I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to cry . . .It really doesn’t hurt that bad!”  (Sob, sob, sob.)

And then kind hands were arranging the knee and putting a bolster under it.  Someone else was putting the ice into a pillow case and setting up the stim and arranging the knee just so.  And the assistant was murmuring comforting words about how blessed I am to have had that sort of a daddy, and that my Mama was a wonderful Mama and I still had her and that she knew I had wonderful parents because she had met my Mama, and with a Mama like that, I had to have had a wonderful childhood.  I listened to her gentle mammy-like crooning and felt the tears settle back into their place again.  Kind hands brought me a tissue, and the same kind hands brought a cup of cold water, and gradually the crisis of the morning was resolved.  I sat on my comfortable perch and dried my tears.  Eventually I was cheerful enough to ask for the Ladies Home Journal that was across the room, and I finished my session by reading an article on a “Seven Day plan for a more positive outlook” and realized again that life was really pretty good. 

And now I am home in my chair.  There is a winter storm warning about and Certain Man is battening down the hatches in preparation for the expected onslaught.  The house is clean, and there are candles burning.  Middle Daughter is sleeping because she has to work tonight.  Somewhere out there, Youngest Daughter is on her way to visit friends in New York and then she will be home on Monday, Lord willing.  A friend from church just called and they are bringing supper for our family in just a little bit, and that is cheery.  It has really been a wonderful day.

So blessed, so blessed are we!

(Now if I can just get my Christmas letter finished, I will really feel better!)



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I am such a happy girl tonight!

Today, my cousins stopped for a visit and both of my sisters were here to work on our family calendar.  We haven’t seen Daniel for a long time, and it was wonderful to see him.  He and Julia were here to move their daddy, my Uncle Elmer Hostetler, to an extended care facility.  We got this picture, and I think it is priceless!!!




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My Sweet Mama came out today and drove me to my first outpatient physical therapy appointment.  I’ve been trying to be brave, and doing therapy at home and telling myself that maybe it won’t be too bad —  And then crying sometimes at night when the pain is bad and I’m discouraged and visions of MEAN people forcing my leg into positions unthought of by me for many a year –.

And I sat on my chair this morning, feeling like I was getting ready for the guillotine, listening to Christmas music, and weeping.

“Mary, did you know that your baby boy, will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod
When you kiss you little baby, then you’ve kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect lamb?
This child that you are holding, is the Great I AM!
~Mark Lowry, Buddy Greene

I thought about the promises in that baby — that He would save our sons and daughters, that he is Lord of all Creation, and then those powerful things that I want so much, “the lame will LEAP, (that’s me!) the dumb will speak (that’s my blind Linda) the dead will live again (that’s my precious daddy) and that business of giving sight to a blind and calming a storm with his hand — how many times have I needed sight for this soul which is often so blinded?  And the storms of this rebel heart have been often calmed by the touch of the Man who had once been Mary’s Baby Boy.

And then, to remember that this baby became the Savior of the world and will one day rule the nations — especially in these days of such unrest and uncertainty.  Where there is war and starvation and deprivation and depravity and so much to decry in the world at large — and I have trouble with the world that is my heart.  How can I expect the rulers of our land and the leaders in the world today to manage their countries in a right way when I can’t manage the patch of ground that is my heart? 

And then I went off to therapy.  I was feeling so teary that I asked my friend, Emma, to please pray that I wouldn’t cry.  She comforted me by saying that physical therapists were trained to work people harder when they cry.  Whoops!  Okay, she really needed to pray that I wouldn’t cry.

Maybe physical therapy has changed, maybe not.  In any case, all the prayers worked.  I had a tough time at physical therapy physically, but I had a grand old time emotionally and even spiritually.  It was work, but I can see how the work I’ve already done has paid off, and I am so excited about the progress I am making.  There’s a long way to go, and I’ve been comforted so greatly about how to manage my time up and my time down.  And I am reminded that, just as in this life, there is no way to get through it except to GO THROUGH IT, so I have to do this now, and even when it makes the tears stand in my eyes, and even when I think I just can’t, when I think of the joy set before me — and think of how God is building His Image through this, it gives me courage to hang on just a little longer.

And when I remember that last desperate week before surgery, when I could scarcely walk, and I dreaded going up and down the steps and I wondered if it would ever be better, then I am really grateful, because I am already walking way better than I did then, and the steps hurt less now than they did then, and there are so many things that are already improved.

“For the Joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. . . “

 “Lord Jesus, this is so small in comparison.  Let me be faithful  in small things.”



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For a wonderful close up view of Daniel’s village go here:

She found details I’ve missed, and it was so much fun to look at it through the lens of her wonderful camera.

And we had a wonderful time together on Sunday.  She documented that, too, in a post that is dated Sunday night.

I’ve been blessed again with so many happy moments.  What a joyful season this is!



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NYAH-NEE, NYAH-NEE,  BOO-BOO! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !


If you aren’t jealous, you ought to be!!!  Or, well, let’s just say, I would be “jealous” if someone else was getting this company! 

Cerwin and Doris High ( plan to drive down after church tomorrow to visit, see the village and even take some pictures!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it!!!  Tickled pink!  

It is such a blessing to have friends, and you have all been so terrific during this “out of commission time”. Each has added dimension and flavor and fellowship and faith to my life.  I’d be so miserable without my friends. 

If any of you get a hankering to see Cerwin and Doris  and would like to come by tomorrow afternoon, you are welcome to call us and drop in while they are here.  Just remember the “call” part, please — (or message me here.  That will work, too.)



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