Monthly Archives: January 2010

Thought maybe you would be interested in this note that came tonight — Certain Man and I are so glad to finally hear!
Hey Mom, we are here safe and sound. We should have access tomorrow, but not today. (sunday is the problem) DONT WRITE BACK TO THIS EMAIL ADDRESS!!!!!!! She lives downstairs and is letting us use her account.
We got here on time, no major problems with the airlines. The guy at the airport didnät want to let me keep my bags, but the workers here were able to convince him to let me take them (without a bribe even).
Um, I still have the remains of the cold, so please pray that that goes away asap.
Pray that our team remains cohesive and alert as we start teaching the kids tomorrow at 800.
Also, my two toddlers are reminiscent of Daniel Garthwaites first days of Sunday School, so pray that I can win them over and that they have a wonderful time.
Gotta go, I only get 3-5 min on the computer.
Love you lots and lots. Please let everyone know, since I cant get on facebook.




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Silly Old Myself today
Want to cry instead of pray.
Middle Daughter packing now
For regions far beyond my know.
A baby lies in desperate straits
While his family prays and waits.
Haitian millions starve and weep–
No shelter there for health or sleep
While war and famine, flood and quake
Their daily tolls of lifeblood take.
And I, who woke to this bright day
With health and strength to light my way,
Still want to cry –but need to pray.



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It is quiet at Shady Acres.  I have finished the deposit for church, and Middle Daughter took it to the night deposit box on her way to Oldest Daughter’s house.  She is leaving on Wednesday for Chad, Africa, for a short term mission trip with Wycliffe as a teacher for their “VBS for Missionary Kids” program.  She will be teaching the toddler class.  I love to see her so excited.  She honestly feeds and thrives on the travel, the unknown, the opportunities, even the possible dangers.  And she loves little kids.

Middle Daughter has always been so careful with her money.  Whenever things like this come up, she looks at her savings and estimates whether she can possibly do this without asking anyone for anything.  That can be good in terms of running off all the time, but it can be terrible when it comes to accountability.  Somehow when you go off with just your own funds, there seems to be a sort of independence that I am not sure is good.  So when this came up, we encouraged her to not just “do it myself” but to inform the Brotherhood, and invite them to help.

This morning at church, friends brought independent offerings to be put towards her trip.  Cash, tucked in a sweet, sweet card.  Checks, given quietly on the side and representing sacrifice, and words of encouragement and promises to pray.  I’m not always sure that young people heading out realize just what this represents in terms of the home church.  It is a sign that they are willing to invest in, believe in, and pray for this person, and are willing for this person to represent the home church in the situation to which they are heading.

Which reminds me of how Jesus trusts all of us to represent HIM in the places we find ourselves.  That gives me reason to wonder why He trusts me, a fallible human, to be Jesus in the world around me.  And do I take it seriously enough?  And will I be faithful by His Grace to this call on my life?  I enjoy living so very much, but I confess that I am almost never excited about travel, the unknowns, and the possible dangers.  Just give me the opportunities, and please make them be right out my back door, and I’ll do my best to– well, do my best.

Okay, I’m an old “stick in the mud”.  I know it.  My family (for sure!) knows this.  And I suspect that God knows it, too.  He really rattles my cage sometimes.  But more often, He gives me more opportunities out my back door than I can really believe, and gives me such joy on the journey.  It’s funny.  As the days pass and I’m feeling better and better, and the fog of pain medication is drifting away, I am remembering the JOY!  That old excitement for what God might be doing next in the chapters of my life is returning.  I still have one more knee to do, and I can’t say that I’m altogether excited about that, but I am excited for the opportunities He is going to give me through and beyond that. 

Even seeing our girlie head off to Chad gives me joy.  We will miss her, and we will be so glad to see her come back, but I love to see our kids being faithful to God’s call on their lives, and it is a reminder that these wonderful people that have come from the love that Certain Man and I have for each other, have never really belonged to us.  They’ve only been entrusted for a time.  How I handle “letting go” can be a real measure of my trust in the Heavenly Father. 

Sometimes I wish I had the connection the angel, Clarence Odbody,  had in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where I could just look up and say, “How’m I doin’, Father?” and could get an instant answer.   Doesn’t seem to work that way, does it?  Sometimes it seems like there is a lot of “muddling” in the business of parenting, and I’ve made more than my share of mistakes in these thirty some years. 

This is where I come back to the fact that God loves my kids more than I do.  His interest in seeing them safely Home is even more than mine, and while I need to do my part, there is part that I can’t do, part that even God won’t do — unless they let Him.  And so, I pray they let Him.  I pray that the road I leave behind, though sometimes crooked, and sometimes broken, will still be light on their road to Jesus, and consequently, Heaven.

Lord Jesus.  May it be so. 



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Yesterday, after the prodding of our friend, Lifebidder, (see comments on previous post)  I called the offices of the state to talk to my good friend there who I thought could maybe help me with the dissatisfaction I have concerning the wrong information on Gertrude’s tombstone.  She wasn’t in, so I left a long, detailed message, voicing some of sadness I felt at the discrepancies.

Today I came home to a message from her and she was upbeat and cheerful and has already talked to the memorial company to see what it would take to get things corrected!  I am so excited!!!  It may not even cost anything.  She promised to call me back next week after someone got back to her.  What a wonderful turn of events!

Thanks, Lifebidder, for your willingness to encourage me to do something about it.  I will try to keep you posted.



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Today I had another class to retain my license.  It is the annual medication recertification class.  They are fussy about time — if you are 15 minutes late, they will not let you in.  The instructor that we had today, we’ve had before, and she isn’t often one to let us out early.  The schedule was for 9:30-3:30, and the class was at Stockley Center.  I looked at the schedule and wondered if we would have a break, and if I could go to the graveyard.  I try to get to Gertrude’s grave at least once or twice a year.

This class got over in record time.  It was done by 1:00 with hardly any breaks, and no lunch breaks.  We Shared Living Providers are a hearty bunch.  We like to get DONE, and since most of us are there, year after year, and they haven’t even changed the test from last year, it was pretty simple.

So it was bright and sunny, a perfect January afternoon as I drove back the long dirt lane to the graveyard at Stockley Center.



There is an arch, and the saying on the arch (in case you can’t read it) says, “OF ALL GOD’S CHILDREN, THESE ARE THE MOST INNOCENT”.  I always get a strange feeling as I pull up and park.  A deep sadness, a kind of quietness, and a longing for something that I can’t quite identify.


Looking out across the cemetery, there is little there that is noteworthy.  There are lots of small, low to the ground stones in the middle part. 


This area was opened in the 1980’s and this is where (until the present and ongoing) they have buried the indigent disabled people who were wards of the state that resided in lower Delaware.

There is an area off to the side that has this monument:


This represents the names of people who have been buried here — probably in the years after Stockley came into existence (in the early 1930’s if my research is correct) before they deemed it necessary to have a separate marker for each person.  This was not a “mass grave” but rather this one monument names the people who were buried in this area of the graveyard. 

Even further away, in the right hand corner, is a very old graveyard.  There are so many stones there that give me cause for wonderment.  This part of the cemetery is not identified in any way, but it almost appears to be a place for people who may have died at the “poor house” or some similar place.  There does seem to be some family connections in some of the graves, but this one really stood out to me.  (There were no other graves like it, and I couldn’t find any names that corresponded to it either, although this name did appear on the larger marker.)


MARCH 19, 1889
JUNE 28, 1938

Also, in this section is a totally blank stone.  Sitting there in the middle of all the others with neither name or anything to identify it.  It is weathered somewhat, so it has been there a while.  What stories would it tell?



But I am really here to see one particular gravestone.  I stand by the plain marker, and sing a song for Gertrude and for me and think about Heaven and what it is like there for her.


I have such mixed feelings everytime I see this marker. 

One thing that bothers me so much is that they don’t have her last name spelled right and they don’t have the right date of her death.  I have asked if it could be changed, and I guess it would cost too much money.  But her name was spelled FINNEGAN and she didn’t die on October 7th.  She died on October 22nd.  (If you go back on my Xanga posts to the dates from about October 1st to November 4, 2005, the whole story is there.)   And I know it doesn’t matter a fiddle to her now, but it matters to me that a person like Gertrude could be buried in an indigent grave and the one thing that is granted her isn’t even correct in the information.  I know that God knows her name and He knows when she was carried home.  And I know.  But it seems somehow like an injustice or another symbol of how often people with disabilities are treated as unimportant

Another thing that I dislike is that Gertrude hated Stockley Center with a fierce and unrelenting passion.  In the early years of her placement with us, she would have to go there for dentist appointments, and she would get agitated everytime we got on the road towards the establishment.  It almost seemed like she would see the distinctive water tower while still on the main road, and it caused anxiety to rise in her heart.  She would be restless on the seat, and I would wonder what she was thinking.  Sometimes she would say, “I’m not gonna’ go there.” and if someone brought up “the colony” (which is what she knew it as) she would shush them in her determined way, and refuse to discuss anything of it. 

I didn’t want her to be buried there.  We had put money into an account at one point from her savings so that she could have a chance at a better burial, but it was minimal, and in the true fashion of bureaucracy, it seemed to get lost somewhere.  So when the time came, her family was in no position to help, and she was buried here, on the grounds of the place that she disliked so much.  Her funeral was a precious gathering of friends and family, and the undertaker for these sorts of burials all over Delaware, was surprised and pleased.  “You can’t imagine,” he said to Certain Man, “how often it is me, and a parson at these graves.”  My Daddy was there that day.  I remember him standing at the grave, doing the graveside service.  I thought he looked so good , but he was much more ill than we realized, and in less than two months, my Uncle Jesse would do for Daddy what Daddy did for Gertrude that day . . .  

I walk around among the graves there in the same section with Gertrude, look at the ones who belong to people I knew.  Some of them would be known by some of you, and so I am putting a few of those stones here at the end of this post to remind us — These people lived.  They touched our lives.  They are remembered.






May they rest in peace




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It’s Sunday morning.  I feel the weather in my bones before I see it out the window.  I turn over in my bed, careful of the new knee and find that my husband is missing.  I remember that he was having trouble sleeping in the night, and he must have gone down to his recliner.  I hate it when he can’t sleep, but we both are better off when he goes downstairs instead of rolling and tossing, but I miss him. 

WOW! Do I ever feel ragged around the edges.  My knee is swollen, and it hurts.  My head aches, as do most of the bones in my body.  Sunday morning comin’ down.

So I pick up the things I need to comb my hair and pull on my favorite robe.  I traverse the mountain that is the steps to the bottom floor.  I have been going up and down them every day with forced optimism, believing that it is good therapy for me to put one step over the other, one step over the other, and trying to be brave and joyful.  This morning, I put one down, plop down the other to the same step, put the first one down another step, plop the second one down.  I hear the unreplaced knee complain.  I decide that I am neither optimistic or brave, and the tears brim in my eyes.  Mostly I am tired of trying so hard.

I come into the kitchen, and rustle for some air-borne, and some yogurt and some coffee and some vitamins and some pain meds.  I take the little group of things over to my favorite chair and sit there and think about the day.  And cry tears of self-pity.  I need to think about the day.  My thoughts automatically turn to needing to get ladies up, needing to get around in time for church and I look at the kitchen, still in shambles from the day yesterday and decide that I am going to stay home.  I justify myself saying that no one will really blame me.  And I tell my Heavenly Father all my troubles.  And then I remember that He hates grumbling. 

So I begin to thank Him for the blessings I have, and I begin to think of my brothers and sisters at Laws Mennonite Church.  One by one, their faces come into my mind, and I think about how very much I love them, how I need them to help me keep my balance, how they have been so supportive and helpful and encouraging.  I know that some of them won’t be there this morning, and that our group, already so small, will be even smaller, and I know that if I were there, I would miss the ones that weren’t there.  Acutely.  I think about how we just celebrated together last night in an adoption celebration — and how much fun we have together.  I think, too, about how we’ve weathered so much as a church family, how we continue to weather things that make us sad, and the knowledge that I really need to be with them today begins to creep into the edges of my soul. 

Besides, I am starting to feel a little better. Middle Daughter had sneaked in to bed after working all night and some of the ones that will be missing at church are the little people who make up her little class of pre-schoolers, so she elects to stay home and sleep after two nights of work.  This simplifies things as she will be here so that Cecilia, and Nettie won’t need to be drug out in the rainy morning.  I go to wake up Cecilia so that I can give her the early morning medication before her shower.  She sits on the potty while I make her bed, get her clothes around, and turn on the morning news for Nettie.  After Cecilia is showered, and back in her room, it is time to spray and powder, and dress and comb her for the day, the routine for this morning is the same as every morning.

I am half listening to the news on the television behind me, thinking of the devastation of Haiti and wondering just how all this was going to play out over the months ahead when my attention is suddenly arrested by an announcer saying, “There are still people in Haiti who hold on to hope, even in the midst of all this terrible destruction and chaos.”  And then I hear it:  Haitian Christians.  Singing.  Their voices are joyful, and I recognize the tune:

“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.
No not one.  No, not one.
None else can heal all our soul’s diseases.
No, not one.  No, not one.
Jesus knows all about our struggles.
He will guide ’till the day is done.
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.
No, not one.  No, not one.”

The words run through my head in English as the tune goes through my head as the Haitians sing it in a local dialect.  I stop, my hands still, suddenly so ashamed of myself and so aware of how self centered I am.  Even the pain that I have been through the last six weeks is because of a wonderful gift — that of a new knee, and a new lease on life.  I’ve seen so much devastation and loss, people who have no recourse, no hope for recovery, and who have lost everyone and everything they needed for life and happiness, and there they are singing!  And here I am, sitting on my comfy chair, complaining.  Thinking of not going to church. 

Oh, Lord Jesus, forgive me.  Once again, I pray that you will conform me to the image of Your Son.  There is no other hope for this selfish, selfish heart. 


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Praise the LORD!!!

Martha’s sister, Bonnie Yoder Montgomery, just posted this on her Facebook account:

Martha is OK! PTL!! Just found out the whole team is ok and they are working to stabalize the walls of the church there, which means they must be in good health. Thanks for all your prayers . . .

There are still many to pray for!  Thank God for the Good News, and there has been lots of that.  There is so much desperation and desolation and hopelessness in Haiti, even without something like this.  Let’s continue to pray for the whole nation  — and allow God to stir our hearts with individual stories.
Thanks so much for praying!


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Please Pray:

Years ago, a young woman from Plain City, Ohio, Betty Helmuth, came to Greenwood to teach school.  Some years later, her sister, Martha, also taught school here.  Betty’s husband Steve Kaetterhenry, and Martha and her husband, Terry Major were all three in Haiti at the time of the quake on a missions trip.  The guys, Steve and Terry, are both fine.  There has been no word on Martha.

Please pray for Martha and for the rest of the team (people I don’t know) that are still unaccounted for, as well as the millions of other desperate people.



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Lookee my new profile pic!

Thank-you, Eldest Daughter




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I have a license with the state of Delaware to care for adults with disabilities.

I think I got my first license in 1984 or ’85.   This one thing has defined our lives as a family in ways nothing else would have.  It has changed us, softened us, sometimes frustrated us, and sometimes, I confess that there were times when I have prayed for strength, courage, compassion and a new work of grace.  There were times when I didn’t want to hear, see, or smell anything that was a result of a disability.

But I’ve also stood on Holy Ground, over and over again, as I have realized (with shame and with sorrow) that my “retardation” before my Heavenly Father is of far greater proportion than ANY human being’s disability is in comparison to my own.  And yet, He provides for me.  He protects me.  He cares for me.  Most of all, He loves me.  I do not begin to understand.

Sometimes, in the morning, I come down to yet another mess — where there are brown stains on the bed, and a nightgown lying on the floor with copious amounts of fecal matter upon it, or Cecelia is lying in a very wet spot, or has had projectile vomiting — and I don my gloves and wash things out or get Cecelia to the shower, and change the bed and get it clean and warm for her, and put her back in.  Sometimes I think about the bed I just left, and the day that has started too early, and wish that there would be a way that what it has cost me could somehow be appreciated — just a little bit!

And then I think about my Heavenly Father, and how often He finds me with far more offensive things in my life, but he doesn’t hold back, He looks at me and sees the blood of Jesus, and it washes whiter than snow, and I am clean, and warm and acceptable to Him, and I enjoy the blessing of being part of His Family — and I really have no comprehension of what it cost Him.

Today, I have to go to class.  And I don’t want to.  I really don’t think I need another four hour class on first aid and CPR.  But if I don’t take it, they won’t give me a license this year.  They also are making every adult in the family get a drug test this year — at our own expense, and I’m not happy about that.  Next week I have to take a six hour medication recertification — My most unfavorite of all.

But this is my job, and this is what I have to do so that I can keep on doing what I truly love most — making a safe place for Nettie and Cecelia, yes, but even more, with the help of those I love the most, making them part of a HOME.


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