Monthly Archives: July 2010

Obituary for Naomi Yoder

Naomi Caroline Yoder Yoder, age 88, passed away peacefully at her home in Blountstown on Thursday, July 29th, after a brief illness.
 A native of Greenwood, Delaware, Naomi was one of ten children born to David and Savilla Yoder.

Naomi and her husband Monroe Yoder, who preceded her in death, moved to Blountstown in 1953 and raised eight children on their family dairy farm.  She was a homemaker and was devoted to her husband, family, and her faith in God.  “Miz Naomi” was well known for her gracious hospitality and wonderful cooking, especially her homemade bread and angel food cakes.  

Naomi is survived by seven children and their spouses: Dan Yoder (Rhoda),  Ben Yoder, (Carol), and Esther Stoltzfus (Elam) of Blountstown, Carol Stutzman (Paul) of Arthur, Illinois, Sharon Krabill (Arlen) of Brownsville, Oregon, Mary Lou Wesselhoeft (Paul) of Grand Ridge, Fl,  and Lois Ulrich (Steve) of Roanoke, Illinois.  Survivors also include daughter-in-law Carolyn Yoder of Altha,  brothers David, Amos, Daniel, Paul, and Jesse Yoder, and a sister Miriam Hull.  Naomi is also survived by thirty grandchildren, forty-seven great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, and friends.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Monroe, two children, Rhoda and Steve, and siblings Ruth, John, Luke and Mark.

Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM, CST, at Rivertown Community Church, Blountstown.  The family will receive friends Saturday from 5:30-8 PM, CST at Rivertown Community Church Life Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Christian Aid Ministries, P. O. Box 360, Berlin, Ohio, 44610. 

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Adams Funeral Home.
Aunt Naomi was my Daddy’s sister.  She was seven years old when her twin brothers were born, and she seldom spoke of the one of them without the other of them.  They both beat her home to Heaven.  She loved all her brothers so very much, and she mothered them and watched over them and was interested in them and their children and their children’s children.  I will never forget that when our youngest son, Lem, was going into REACH for a year of mission work stateside, she and her husband, Uncle Monnie, sent him a generous contribution, along with a rather lengthy letter, admonishing him to be strong, to be faithful, to mind God.  They had met Lem when he flew to Florida with Deborah for the wedding of their granddaughter, Jenny to Chad Graber.  I think they deduced (and rightly so) that Lem could use some instruction.  The letter was full of love, but concern, and so honest in the things they said.  It was typical of my aunt and uncle.
Earlier this week, I sent the following post to our family e-group:

I was going through papers on my desk today, and found a card from Aunt Naomi.  It was written in her familiar handwriting, and it had the usual reminders of faith and hope and caring.  I thought of her, now, as the people she loves are gathering in and wondered at what she must be feeling.  She could get better from this.  I guess so, anyhow.  But if she doesn’t, it is a wonderful thing for the family to be there, sharing time together while she is still alert and able to talk to them, able to enjoy those people she loves “best of all”.

The week has been so full of remembering.  She loved her brothers and sisters intently, and I often said that the boys would go to Aunt Naomi when they needed mothering.  She has her papa’s loving heart and their Mama’s efficiency.  She learned through the years to trust her Heavenly Father, and though it was born out of some desperately hard times, it is a faith of pure gold, solid quality, tried in the fires of life.  I’ve so often wanted to be just like her.  And then I would think about what it has cost her and my heart would shrink back.  “Do I want it enough???”

 The memories are so precious.  I remember a particular phone call when my Daddy was first ill. She called to see how he was, and to encourage me.  She was a bit pensive, but not downtrodden.  Then she said, “You know, Mary Ann, your daddy has always thought that every one else was ‘picked first’ — for whatever activity people were picking sides for – sports, academic exercises, whatever.”  She said, “One time he said to me that just once, he would like to be picked first.”   She paused, her voice heavy with emotion, then plowed bravely on.  “You know, Mary Ann, I just have a feeling that this is one time your daddy might get picked first.  I have a feeling that he’s going to be the first one of us siblings to go on to Heaven.”   And he was. It’s funny how simple statements can comfort us, but that was something that comforted me over and over again.  My Daddy.  Home free, safe and sound.  Grandpa and Grandma to himself for one split second of eternity.

There was another time when she gave me a life principle to live by.  Aunt Mary Lois was so ill.  Uncle Daniel was keeping watch, Uncle Monnies had come to Delaware, and the Yoder brothers and sisters that could make it had come to Shady Acres with their spouses for supper.  After supper, the family gathered in the living room to sing out of the old Church and Sunday School Hymnals.  Uncle Eli and Aunt Ruth’s daughter in law, Karen, had come and was playing the old piano.  The songs were of Heaven, of traveling through this world of sorrow, of being faithful and looking forward to Heaven.  A call was made to Aunt Mary Lois and a song was sung for her.  A call to Uncle Luke and I think one to Uncle Paul and the Aunts and Uncles sang for each of them, some of the voices getting reedy and old, but on key and still beautiful.

Aunt Naomi was quiet that night.  I was startled to realize that emotion was thickening her throat and making it hard for her to sing. We sat later, talking.  She always made me feel like I was the only one on her radar screen when we were conversing.  She looked into my eyes, she often held my hand.  Our conversation turned to her beloved son, Steve, and she said something that, not only will I always remember, but it has helped me over the years in countless ways.  This is what she said:

“You know, Mary Ann, I am so glad that I can  count on God to do what is just and right and fair,  If people were to judge Steve, there are probably some of them that will be too hard on him.  And if I were to judge him, I might be too lenient, but I can trust God to do what is right, and I can leave it there and rest in that.”  She cried that night, something I almost never saw her do, but I appreciated that, too.  Always so full of joy, but honest in her grief, too, for brief windows of time.

Another thing that I respected her for her was her love for Uncle Monnie.  I know from being the wife of a good man that sometimes the best of men are easy to get impatient with, or to find the flaws.  I know that a man as determined as Uncle Monnie couldn’t have been easy.  Not all the time.  But she made it look easy.  Her loyalty, her unfailing smiley lines, her faith in him and her faith in God was an example that was safe to follow, and I can’t tell you how often I thought of her and what she would do if she were in my shoes.  And took courage.  When they were with a crowd, invariably, I would find them off by themselves somewhere, chatting quietly.  Sitting on a couch, or two folding chairs, away from the rest, Uncle Monnie would be talking and she would be listening attentively.  I would see the two of them and think about the fact that what they had between them was something that the young and aspiring call “Good Communication” but so often have no idea what it really is.

I hate to think that she might be leaving us.  I know she has fought a good fight, I know she wants to be with Jesus and with Uncle Monnie.  I know she has a whole passel of loved ones over there that she is longing to see.  But I hate to not have her here.  I don’t want her to suffer.  I don’t want her to be confined and restricted and unable to be “Aunt Naomi” as she has enjoyed being all these years.  But I still hate to think about us without her.  She really does make us all think  finer thoughts, love more unconditionally, and live with that hope that we know is so real to her — and it makes it more real to us.  What will we do without her? 

And so this morning, when I think of how it feels to me, I multiply that in the face of what the family must be feeling, and think of you all, gathering home for what must feel like the last time like this, and my heart aches for you.  I know all about the grace that holds you steady.  I know about the supernatural strength that sees you through these days, tucking all the memories away for the days when all you have are the memories, and I know about that waiting that puts you into a holding pattern of uncertainty, and I know that God is there — with you, and in you and over you and under you, and that is the greatest comfort of all.  May you experience the unity and peace that makes days like these shine with glory and gives your sweet Mama comfort.

Last evening, around 8:30, she slipped away.  This morning, again on our family e-group, her oldest son, Dan, posted a comforting and faith filled missive.  At the end of that posting, he had this little snippet:

In the final hours of her life yesterday after her ability to recognize those around her had faded, the following two quotes came from her that I share with you.

“Tell the people God is sufficient to meet their needs”

“Tell the people it is worth it.  If they have any doubt, tell them it is real.”

I cannot begin to tell you the spring of joy that welled up in my heart!  This is Holy Ground.  And now she is safely home.

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”


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It has been a full week.  We’ve done corn and done laundry and babysat the boys and — well  — it’s just plain been tiring!

This afternoon, while my grandbaby played on the floor, I slipped down off my chair where I was trying to regroup a little and I thought I would play with her on the floor!  Whew!  My knees are not ready for crawling around on the floor yet — Almost thought I had done some permanent damage for a minute, but then it settled down and I got myself back up on my feet and flexed things around for a while and all seems well.  I’ll think twice before I do that again.

This is my favorite picture from the week:



On another note — there has been a pondering running around in my mind all day — ever since Middle Daughter read an excerpt from Dear Abby where someone had written in to complain about being at a wedding reception that served dinner five hours after the reception started because “the bride preferred to dance on an empty stomach”.  She proceeded to say that she and her husband (and a dozen others) left their gift and took their empty stomachs to a restaurant while the bride danced merrily on.

It may seem like a bit of a “stretch”, but somehow several things that have happened recently caused me to get a mental picture of the Church, the Bride of our beloved Redeemer.  People have come, people are hungry but instead of feeding them, instead of meeting their honest needs, we are dancing merrily to the music of prosperity, the music of popularity, the music of success, even the music of bitter rivalries and jealousy.  Our own stomachs are empty, but we think we “dance better” with empty stomachs.  How many people are walking out because they aren’t finding the soul satisfaction that Jesus promised?

There is so much to celebrate.  But our celebrating should draw in the hungry and give them something to satisfy their souls.  They shouldn’t have to wait with empty hearts while we dance.


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Silly kids and Family weekends



Three silly kids!  Charis loves Carson and Nevin intensely.  Whenever she sees a picture of herself with them, she makes this little happy noise somewhere down in her throat and grins her widest grin.  I am so happy these three cousins have the opportunity to play together this summer.  The boys are so tender with her, often laying aside their own grievances to be sure she is safe and happy.  It is an incredible blessing to watch!

I babysat for our Love Bug but this week, and on a whim, put her up by me on the side of the kitchen sink.  She was perfectly content.  She reminds me so much of her Mama.  When Christina was a little girl, she could entertain herself for hours, pouring water from one container into another and back again, getting herself as wet as possible in the process.  When I watch this smidgen of a girl, I am transported back thirty years to another girlie with brown eyes and soft brown hair, and the memories are oh, so sweet!!!


Of course we had to wash her hands!  And that called for foaming soap which made for some nice bubbles.

Bubbles.  One of the words she says.


The family was together this weekend–

The boys were home with their sweet wives.

Raph and Gina.
{It seems like forever since they moved to Ohio.} 
It was wonderful to have you home again, to see the love you have for each other and life in general
Ah, Raph and Gina — if I didn’t believe with all my heart that God called you to Ohio,
I think my heart would break from missing you so much!


Lem and Jess
{Reeling (but recovering!) from a major disappointment, when the house they felt certain was to be theirs, wasn’t.}
I watch the two of you working out the everyday living of marriage with a sweet, sweet love and the kind of commitment that isn’t based on everything going just “right” and know that God continues to work in your hearts and He will complete that work as you cooperate with him.  I miss you two, too, and am glad that you are close enough for a quick trip now and then.


Uncle Lem reads to Charis.  This is one of her favorite books —

The Little Mouse, The Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.


Too soon, it was time to go.  Some Sugar for Uncle Raph–


And a squeeze for Auntie Gina .


And suddenly, everyone is gone and everything is too quiet again.

We miss both couples intensely, but having them home sure is like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day!
(Now what would I know about that?!?!?!?)

Thank you so much for coming!




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After midnight ponderings . . .

One thing that I really, really, REALLY dislike is when people allude to things on public forums and then don’t tell you what is going on.  And so I try to not do that — which has resulted in some very lonely, very private grieving for me over the last year.  And I still don’t know what to do with some of the “stuff” — but so often the things that weigh me down involve the people that I love deeply, and their stories, though so very much a part of my heart and my life, aren’t mine to tell.

My life is so interesting.  I truly am never bored.  I’ve already said that I would at least like the opportunity to be bored, but I almost think that I probably have had the opportunity, but didn’t recognize it because of the many diversions looking me in the face.  I recently read the book, Vera’s Journey, (by Judy Yoder, ©Vision Publishers, 2010) and was challenged, moved and blessed by it.  If you get a chance, read it!  It made me aware of how often people have had tragedy, life disappointments, even handicaps (deafness at 38) and still have lived long (102 years!) happy and fruitful lives.  I am ashamed of the way I so often am stymied by such insignificant things.  I am ashamed of how often my sadness over other people’s choices arises out of selfishness, too.  i.e. “What will people think?”  “It makes me feel so sad!”  “I’m so disappointed!”  And often I think, “If I were the kind of wife, (daughter, parent, sister, friend) that I should be, somehow they would love/respect/defer to me, or even be the person I think they ought or could and even (maybe especially) should be.” 

One of the things that I have found myself doing is making excuses for the people I love, trying frantically to provide logical explanations for what they said, did, or thought so that other people wouldn’t be upset with them.  Quite honestly, I often can see where people are coming from in the decisions they make and the things they do, even when I don’t exactly agree with them.  Sometimes even when I violently disagree with them.   I usually am able to see where they are coming from, and desperately want everyone else to understand them, too.  I am never quite sure why people come to me about people and things that I really have no control over, either.   I will say this, though.  The things that cause you concern in the lives of my husband, my children, my mother, my siblings, my friends, are (for sure!) causing me concern, too,  But this morning, when I had spent some time crying, some time thinking and praying about my response to a particular incident, I was particularly praying that God would help me see things from His view point, that my responses would be bathed in His love, that my sorrow would be Godly, not selfish, and that relationships could be stronger, more honest, more transparent, and that the people I meet up with would be drawn to Jesus instead of feeling cut off from grace.

And then I picked up “Our Daily Bread” and read the reading for today.  This is what I found!

July 16, 2010 — by David H. Roper

When Jesus commanded, “Judge not,” He was not implying that we should be naïve or imprudent. Of course we need to think critically and analytically in this world where we are often confronted with error and wrongdoing. Instead, He meant that we should not be condemning or accusing, a point Paul made eloquently: “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5).

Poet Robert Burns made a similar point, writing of those whose actions are in doubt: “One point must still be greatly dark—the [motive]. Why they do it.” No one knows another’s motives. God alone can bring to light what is hidden in darkness; He alone can expose the intentions of the heart.

Jesus knows the latent forces that motivate others: the cruel beginnings, the fear, the disappointment, the broken heart, the sin that is resisted. Moreover, He is working in every submissive heart to bring it to maturity. Thus in the end—quite often contrary to our expectations—He will bring praise to those He has brought to completion.

The Lord alone can try the heart. Until He returns, let’s ask Him to help us examine our own.

“Condemn not, judge not”—not to man
Is given his brother’s faults to scan;
One task is yours, and one alone—
To search out and subdue your own. —Elliott

Be slow to judge others, but quick to judge yourself.

How is that for hitting the nail on the head?!? Once again, I was humbled by the timeliness of this devotional.  It is just amazing to me how God knows what I need.  He knows how quickly my heart can go from concerned to critical, from caring to selfish, from accepting to condemning.  It was so important for me today, and I am so grateful to God for sending it my way. 

What has God done for you this week?

Oh, yes, one more thing.  There really are six batches of Cinnamon Roll dough in the fridge awaiting the morning.  If you want to buy some freshly baked cinnamon rolls, come on down to the fundraiser yard sale that we are having to help raise money for Rachel’s Mission Trip to Thailand.  We plan to sell homemade lemonade and sweet tea, too.  There will be prices on stuff, but if you want to make a donation to her trip and get a tax receipt, that will be available, too.  It’s going to be a scorcher of a day, so we don’t want to stay out too long.

There will be a few other people setting up tables, too — so come on down!  (Or up!  Or in!  Or Over!  Or Out!)  We hope to set up around six or so, but cinnamon rolls probably won’t be ready until 7 or so.  (Not even then if I don’t get to bed.  So here I go!)

G’night, All!


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Youngest Daughter, Thailand, and Yard Sales

Youngest Daughter has been accepted in the REACH program.  It looks very much like she will be going to Thailand.  At least that is what she has been accepted for.  Those of us who are REACH parents know that this could change.  Things might, or it might not, go how she plans.

My heart is more than a little bit on “hold” these days.  She will be working with children and women who have been rescued from the human trafficking trade that is so prevalent (but so abominable!).  I guess my main concern is that I don’t want her heart to be hardened by the sin that is in this old world, and I wonder how to deal with her being gone, essentially a full year.  I am sure that she has been guided by her Heavenly Father in the choices she has made concerning this, and God has gone out of His way to confirm and bring people into her life when she has been at the very lowest emotionally– second guessing her decision, trying to make sense of everything, and trying to determine how she is going to cope with an all girls team in a foreign conuntry.  It has just been incredible to this old Mama.  God remains the biggest source of reassurance and comfort that holds me (and her) steady.  Most of the time, she is working hard, saving her money, trying her best to be as mature about this as possible.  Most of the time, I am choosing to not think about it.

One of the ways that she is raising money for this project is that she is having a yard sale here at Shady Acres this Saturday.  It is a very unwell kept secret that Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife are not big fans of Yard/garage Sales.  However, this is the week that I am going through many, many things and getting things organized to put out on the garage sale.  Profits from our part of the sale will go to Rachel’s REACH fund.  (I am considering selling homemade lemonade and MAYBE Cinnamon Rolls.  I have to see how things go this week.)

Anyone else that wants to set up a table for their own purposes — Come on down!  We’ll be glad to give you yard space.  Certain Man only requests that you are responsible to bring your own tables and set up your own section.  This morning he said that if it rains, we will set things up in the pavilion — as long as it isn’t windy. And just so we are clear, here.  YOUR sale is YOUR SALE.  Not for Rachel’s REACH fund.

Hope to see some of you!


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One year ago today

A year ago today, (Well, actually yesterday now because of the time!) I put the following message from my cousin, Jon Yoder, on my blog.  It was the culmination of two very intense days, beginning with the news that his beautiful wife, Dawn, had been struck by lightning, and the outlook was very grim.

Dawn, our amazing mother, wife, daughter has been declared brain dead by 2 doctors, with her EEG showing no activity.  We believe that she entered heaven instantaneously 2 days ago, but we are now as a family turning her body over to the organ donation center of Alabama, so that she may share her life with others.  That is typical of the life she lived, and it is so much like her.  We will miss her, but we know she is in God’s protective care, and we want to praise Him for his faithfulness.  I write with this tears in my eyes, but with joy in my heart as Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.  And she definitely received “Well done, thou faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.  She is free at last!  
-Jon, Robert, Kristin, Amber, and Stephen and all the family

Today, Jon and his family are preparing for the weekend wedding of Jon and Dawn’s oldest son, Robert.  Robert is marrying a wonderful girlie, Michelle Schrock, whose inner beauty shines out of lovely eyes in an equally beautiful face.  Robert’s Mama would be so happy for him, so welcoming of Michelle.  Dawn would be the one to keep everything running smoothly in the Groom’s department, and she would handle the company, the details, the food with her usual quiet confidence and energy and flair for elegance, partnering as usual with the man who was not only her husband, but also her soul mate and best friend.

But she isn’t there.  At least they can’t see her.  I’ve been listening to my cousin, Jon, as he handles these days, and I read his blog ( and have struggled with the tears that keep surprising me.  Tonight I was thinking about how Dawn is influencing these days even though she isn’t physically here.  It was impressed on my heart that it is another case where a woman did her life’s work “right” all the years that she was granted and now it is paying off.  Jon and the children are doing things that are the way the family has consistently done things, and how they would do things if she were here.  She would be seeing the things that need to be done and either quietly doing them herself, or finding someone who would.  She would be proud of them, she would be contentedly watchful, she would be the glue that held everything steady.

You know what?  In a very real sense, she still is.  The influence of Dawn Yoder didn’t die when her heart ceased its beating.  And at times like this, when her family misses her so intently, it seems like she is alive in the choices they make and the things they do and the stories they tell and the way they are.  Their very lives honor her.  They are choosing, once again, to Not Waste Her Life!

I am so proud of them.  So challenged by them.  So incredibly blessed and encouraged by them.  I still wish that she wouldn’t have had to leave them so prematurely.  But this family’s trust in the Heavenly Father through it all, their confidence that God wasn’t absent on that Alabama morning, that He still has a plan for them, and their courage in the face of their raw, unrelenting grief and unfathomable loss, has given me hope and comfort.

And while that doesn’t make it “worth it” (I’m convinced that there is precious little this side of Heaven that will make it “worth it”) still it sits in my heart with a calm that can only be Our Father’s doings.  I don’t feel like I have to know “why”.  I no longer feel a need to rush in with a platitude or a spiritual law or even a diversion.  The grief is real.  It’s unavoidable.  It’s incredibly hard.  But Jesus is there.  He was there.  He will be there.  He promised.  He also promised that He will be enough. 

And that is where I’ve decided to anchor my little boat.

Blessings to you, Jon, and to your family in these exciting days.  “May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest and abide with each of you until you meet again.”

I surely do love you!


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Our picnic!


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Glorious Mornings in July

The last two mornings have been so beautiful!  Temps in the low 60’s early in the mornings, breezes and sunshine, low humidity and NO Air Conditioning needed!

Youngest Daughter had her babysitting charges here today, and Christina brought Charis down to play for a little while.  What is more fun than three kids and a wagon?  (Especially when a big strong cousin pedals the trike that totes the wagon on behind!)

He is so strong, he can even drive over the bumpy grass!

And swing me in the swing! 

The boys like to climb trees, too.

And Charis likes to snuggle with Auntie Rach.

This day hasn’t turned out like I had planned — Easter Seals called me to come get Cecilia because “she was crying.”  I decided that if it was serious enough to go and get her, it was serious enough to take her to the doctor.  He had an opening at 10:45, so the timing was exactly right.  She really isn’t sick, but I’m sure she must not be quite feeling good — So I have her sitting in her chair, and I am feeling rough enough my self to go and rest a little.  I hate this business of getting old.  I especially hate it when all around me is the energy of youth, accomplishing great things while I seem to barely be able to function.  It makes me feel lazy, but I am learning that I can never really compete with the energy of Youngest Daughter.  I guess there was a time when I could, but, I kid you not — my “get up and go” has certainly “got up and WENT!” and I’m not sure where to find it!


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