Monthly Archives: September 2010

Windy Delaware Day

There is a wild wind blowing in Delaware today.  I watch the leaves go scuttling across the lawn and wonder if there will be any left for the paint brush of Autumn.  A limb came out of our willow tree and landed across the driveway.  Certain Man, home for lunch, said he would move it before he left.  I love days like today.  People look at me strange when I say that I love rainy days and Mondays, but I really, really do.  And when it is windy and rainy, I love to stand outside my garage and smell the rain and watch the wind toss the branches of our tall hybrid willow tree like a big washing machine.  It makes me laugh — something inside is so unencumbered and full of joy and awe.

Outside the family room window, a strong young man is building a deck out from the door of our sun room.  He hangs his parka on one of the square posts and it blows straight out, the sleeves full of air, then crashes down against to post, only to be caught again and tossed up in a playful, dancing motion.  The wind seems to invigorate him.  Sometimes I hear him sing small snatches of song.  Yesterday, he worked in the rain, and I felt sorry for him.  It was miserable and he dug big holes with only his shovel and post hole digger, chopping through the roots that infest that area from Certain Man’s many trees. He worked hard, and by evening, even with the promise of heavy rain today, he smiled at what he had accomplished and went home to his wife and new baby with a spring in his step.

I am glad that Certain Man decided that he would put a deck in this area.  I had only asked for front steps so that I would have easier access to the front yard, but Certain Man, always the one to see ahead, said that we should put a deck there.  I look out at the progress that is being made and think again that it is wonderful that God gave one of us the ability to see things how they will be.  I only begin to visualize things once they actually have shape and substance.  Oh, and some defining color.  Let’s not forget color.  After living with Certain Man all these years, the color of rough lumber is one of the most exciting colors there is.

The rain was supposed to come during the night.  Then at six this morning.  Then it was to be sometime this morning.  Now it is almost three o’clock in the afternoon, and there is finally some raindrops on the windows.  I said to Certain Man that I was going to put this away and do something profitable.  It is Visitors Weekend at Youngest Daughter’s Training Center and we want to leave tomorrow for Ohio.  I have lots of things to do before we go, but somehow, my chair, a cheery lamp or two and the wind whistling so noisily along with some raindrops spattering now and then, call my name with an urgency that is beguiling.  The house itself is quiet.  Middle Daughter got called into work early, Certain Man is long gone from lunch, Our Girl Audrey and Blind Linda aren’t home yet, and now even Davey has capitulated to the increasing rain and packed up his tools and left.

The overcast light outside reminds me that time is moving on, and that this plodder had better get to plodding if she is going to be ready to go.  Maybe an afternoon cup of coffee and my current favorite classical CD will get me moving. 

I think I’ll at least give it a good try. 

As my Sweet Mama would sometimes say, “There’s no time like the present to start!” 

(I’m going, I’m going!)


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Blood on the Stone . . .

This blog has been on my mind for a number of weeks — and you will see that there are some “old comments.” First written in September, 2010, it is still pertinent.

It was five-thirty.

The radio had come on with its usual BBC broadcast that signaled that it was time to get up.  Not that I usually do, but it still was time.  Certain Man had left his side of the bed empty an hour earlier when a banging headache had encouraged him to seek some Excedrin and his La-Z-boy.    When he is gone, it feels so empty, and I usually stretch myself a little bit over on his side, and take my pillow and lap it up over top of his and sleep a little longer.  Our bed is the most comfy bed we could ever ask for, and in those early morning minutes, I often think of how blessed I am, and make a point of being thankful to the LORD for all His benefits towards me.

This morning as I was luxuriating in that half asleep, half awake place that always pulls me in two directions at once, an interview on the BBC caught my attention.  They were talking to a man who has done research on “Blood Diamonds” and it was a rather lengthy interview.  Being neither an owner or connoisseur of fine jewelry (actually, not a single piece — not even a wedding band!) I had never really understood why a diamond would be called a “Blood Diamond” until this broadcast caught my ear — and really set my mind to spinning.  I looked up “Blood Diamonds” on Google, and what I read there was not easy to see or read.  It is unbelievable!  (Except for the fact that we live in a world where nothing is unbelievable any more when it comes to the injustices man commits against his fellow man–). 

The one thing that caught my attention was something this researcher said.  He had hunted down a dealer, and had gone to talk to him about the diamonds and the part that he played in this sordid mess.  When questioned about whether he felt any sort of concern or regret about the fact that these diamonds were “Blood Diamonds”, the dealer replied matter of factly, “The blood washes off.”

It gripped my heart. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve been bought with His Blood.  My redemption cost Him His life.  I got to thinking about hearts that have been washed in the Blood of Jesus, and how he promises to wash these sinful hearts as white as snow.  I thought about hearts, and how hearts may appear incredibly beautiful, but are as hard as diamonds.  And then I thought about that statement, “The blood washes off. . .” and realized that for many of us, that statement is apropos.

You see, those Blood Diamonds cost the people who mined them so incredibly much.  And people go to great lengths to divert attention from that fact.  “The blood washes off” and the diamonds, beautifully cut and polished, look like the product of some carefully monitored legal business.  But it doesn’t change the fact that someone, somewhere paid dearly for the diamond and intrinsic to the value of that diamond is the value of that person.  Just because it doesn’t “show” doesn’t change the truth.

I thought about my heart, and how so often I want to be priceless in the eyes of the world.  I want to be valuable for my qualities  — whatever I might perceive them to be, and in my attention to such insignificant things, my heart becomes hard — so hard, in fact, that “The blood washes off” and I scarcely even notice.  It doesn’t change what it cost Jesus, and it doesn’t change the value of my heart — but it changes everything that’s important.  Because if I am ever going to look on the face of a Holy God and know that I’m forgiven, He needs to see the Blood of Jesus, covering my sinful heart. 

Not washed off!!!

 

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Making Sunday Lunch

 

We almost always have a big Sunday lunch — And I try to plan ahead so that I don’t come up too much amiss at the last minute.

A few weeks ago, we stopped at our son’s home for a short visit after taking Rachel to Ohio.  Raph and Gina had been gone to a meeting, but insisted that they wanted to feed us supper.  We had the best enchilada dish and I knew it was something pretty speedy because they had made it after they came home from the meeting, and slipped it into the oven just as we got there.  Then it only took about 20 minutes to bake.  It was some kind of GOOD!

Daughter in Law Gina said that she had gotten it out of the Simple and Delicious magazine.  That pleased me right muchly, too, as I have given subscriptions to that magazine to my daughter and to my Sons’ wives, and I love it that they actually are useful to them.

So I came home and looked it up.

 

And made it once — now I’ve made it again for lunch tomorrow:

Almost done . . .

 

 

And finished!!!

What a good feeling!  Now to bake a few pies and throw together a salad, and the meal will be ready as soon as we get home from church!

THANKS, Reiman Publications, for your Simple and Delicious Magazine!!!

 

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Audrey’s Flowers

I just want to say that there really is nothing like the ladies at Laws Mennonite Church.

After my post last evening, there were so many expressions of caring for Audrey from our local Church family.
Today, I answered the door to find a delivery from a local florist.
The arrangement was gorgeous!

 

Of course, I thought that maybe my sweet husband was sending me flowers for no reason at all — like he does sometimes, but NO!  These were for Audrey!  Just because they knew she was feeling so sad about Tatters and (what she felt was) her unfair, malicious demise.

Here she is, enjoying the flowers, trying hard not to smile, but I sneaked up on her (a little bit)!

Thank you, gals, for being so kind. understanding and inclusive of Our Girl Audrey.
It means so very much to me, but we cannot begin to measure what it means to Audrey.
What an incredibly thoughtful thing to do.
THANKS, AGAIN!!!

 

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I am very, very sad.

Today we had Tatters put to sleep.

She’s been a part of our family for ten years.

An absolute mess for most of that time,

But we (at least the females of the household) loved her.

If anyone hears wailing coming from Shawnee Road,

It’s Our Girl Audrey, mourning like I’ve never seen her mourn before.

Would you say a prayer for Audrey? 

She feels like it’s her fault because Tatters started biting her and about a month ago, a bite on her foot got badly infected and she had to have medical care for it and antibiotics.  Although that was the pivotal incident that made us know it was time for Tatters to go, there were many, many other reasons. But all Audrey can think is that it was somehow, mostly her fault.
  Audrey’s pain makes me even sadder.

 

 

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Sunday School Snippets II

Sunday School in the basement, at Laws Mennonite Church.  An extra kid this morning.  Kaleb — who has been one of my favorite people ever since he was born.  I remember teaching him back when he was in Kindergarten at Vacation Bible School (back in 2006, I think!).


Kaleb is the one in the middle — flanked by two more of the children who made that class not only memorable, but enjoyable.  I REALLY loved these kids!  We had a blast!  He brought life and laughter to our class, and in doing so, he made my job so much easier way back then.  It felt so good to have him in class again this morning.  He has matured, and his life is stretching him away from us.  If plans carry, he and his mom will be moving to Tennessee.  I hate to see it happen.  It feels like our church (and especially our class) needs Kaleb.

 And then we have Sarah.  She feels like one of my own grandkids, to be honest. Her Mama has been a part of a Thursday morning Bible study that met at our house pretty much ever since before Sarah was born.  I love this picture of her — taken a long time ago when the Bible Study Gals took their kids to a park for a picnic.


Okay, all you people that belong to our church family.  Don’t even try to tell me that this is Victoria instead of Sarah!!! Actually, I wouldn’t believe that it was Sarah if it weren’t for the fact that pictures taken that day have the following picture of Daniel (and a picture of that Victoria girlie in an infant seat)!  This really is SARAH!!!  Sarah is my student that knows all the answers, and is able to keep a step ahead of everyone else.  I can’t really do prizes for the one with the most answers right because she has an unfair advantage!!!  I’m about to make her my personal assistant.   She is an incredible asset to our class.  I am so glad to have her there.

And then there’s my little man, Daniel.  He has grown up so much over the last couple of years   He has a chuckle that makes the rest of the class laugh.  We love to hear him laugh.  He usually sits on my left, and when I have something for God to say to Jonah or whatever, it is so nice to lay my hand on his shoulder and get down on his level and say something really deep and serious and have him look first surprised and then break into his infamous laugh.  For some reason, whenever I use him as a story prop, he finds it funny!  I love it that he laughs instead of crying.

  Like he was doing here.  Probably because I was taking his picture.  Back then, getting his picture taken was one of his most unfavorite things to do.  Ah, my Daniel-boy!  He’s another one in my class that I would very much hate to be without.  We need him for the many insightful comments he makes and the quiet way he contributes to the discussions with the unexpected.

 

And then there is our Emmy-girl.  Emily really is one of those youngsters that belongs to the whole church family.  She loves to help, and she has keen eyes that never miss anything.  This morning in class, she was the first to volunteer to pray.  Her mama was sick, and she was so worried about her.  Her sister and brother in law have a new baby, and her sister has been having a rough time health wise since the baby’s birth.  Emmy worries and worries about the people she loves, and her prayer this morning was a fervent plea that God would help her mom and her sister, and it warmed my heart so much.  Emmy is the fourth one in the class that I have been privileged to know since she was very small, and I am so thankful for her presence in our class.  She is a willing helper and adds a dimension that is reality for this class when it comes to courage and love and acceptance.  Emily knows no strangers and she jumps in with both feet when other people would probably feel a sense of restraint.

Case in point:

There really aren’t very many of us who would take it upon ourselves to push Dave Hertzler around on one of these gizmoes.  We love Dave to death, and appreciate his contributions as part of our church’s Leadership team, but even when I was Emily’s age (at the time of this picture) and he was my highly regarded fifth grade teacher, I can promise you that I wouldn’t have been brave enough to push him down the hall of Greenwood Mennonite School on a “seater scooter” (or whatever it is that you call this thing!)  Emily lives every moment to the fullest, and in that living, she is granted  a whole lot of experiences the rest of us are too reserved to try.

And then there is Bethany. 


Here she is, running a water relay at the church’s fourth of July picnic.

She is the one who is always making me feel like I am doing something really important.  She acts like she thinks I’m a good teacher.  She answers questions, and tries so hard to figure things out.  She wants to give the right answer, and she has a beautiful voice that gets hesitant when she wants so much to answer but isn’t quite sure of herself.  It has been a broken road that has led her to our church family, but she has hope and enthusiasm and a future. She has people who love her, and are making sure that she is safe.   She doesn’t know the Bible stories, and it is fun to tell the old, old stories and see them through the eyes of someone who isn’t dulled by their often telling.  She loves her fellow classmates, and is tender with them.  She was the one who did the “class report” for the congregation this morning without being coerced or begged.  She is willing to try almost anything.  At least once.  And she has a tender heart, even towards people who have wronged her.

This morning we had the second half of the story of Jonah.  We talked about caring for people who have been mean to us.  We talked about how God wants us to treat people who have mistreated us, or people we love.  We had a map of Iraq, and we looked up the city that is closest to the place where Ninevah was.  The lesson plan called for a snack that would have been “Middle Eastern” in nature, and even though I wasn’t sure that the class would be up to it, I decided to at least try.  The teacher’s book promised that if they could make their own snacks, they would be inclined to eat it.  I wondered about that, but plowed ahead.

I bought the flat bread.  I bought raisins.  I thought that maybe it would be better to have them in the little snack packs so everyone would get the same amount.  I had a package of cream cheese, and a honey bear full of honey.  Certain Man looked at my collection a little dubiously, but we got everything packed into the little playmate cooler, and off to church we went. 

When the lesson was winding down, I informed the kids that our snack today was just a little unusual.  They were immediately at attention while I began upacking the cooler.  I explained that they wouldn’t have bread quite like this if they were in the Middle East, and that the cheese would probably be made from goat’s milk, but the raisins and the honey were pretty authentic, and so we got to work.  We took the Pepperidge Farms whole wheat flat bread and cut each round disc in half.  The kids were interested and actually anxious to make this.  They each had a table knife to spread the cheese with, and they slathered the cream cheese on each side of the bread.  Then they drizzled honey over that, and then put raisins on top of that, and put the top layer on.  I tasted my own little sandwich that I had created while I was instructing them and was pleasantly surprised.  It was very, very good!  One by one they finished putting theirs together and began to tentatively taste their unusual snack.  They LOVED it!!!  All of them ate every morsel.  Kaleb went and fetched napkins for us, and I had apple juice to go with it, and they finished up just as the last bell rang.  We made a mad scramble to clean up our mess, but the kids had been exceptionally neat.  In fact, I had a bigger sticky spot than any of them where the honey had run down.  A damp rag from the kitchen and all was clean and back to normal. 

And then it was up the steps and back to the assembly of the Saints.  I listened to some of the reports from the various Sunday School classes, and considered the fact that, even though I miss that adult interaction so very much, the payoff is phenomenal. I’m so enriched by these little people.  And my heart is full.

 

 

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Days of Joy, Days of Opportunity

 

 

One of the wonderful things about being a grammy is that I get to babysit my grandbaby once in a great while.  Today, I got to bring her home from breakfast, and we read stories and had ourselves a grand old time.

We took rides in the wagon, had a shoulder ride out to see Grandpa’s baby chickens.  We went into the garden and got little yellow tomatoes and she ate them as fast as I could give them to her.  We found ground cherries in their little parchment packages, and when I got them out for her, she ate those, too.  I am so surprised at her tastes.  Given the choice between a cherry tomato and a piece of candy, she will almost always choose the fruit. 

I have been thinking a lot about what makes for successful grandparenting, and I have to say that the grandparents I most admire are those who are willing to be inconvenienced for and by their grandchildren.  (The scary part is, I’m old enough to see how those relationships turned out over the long haul, and I am not talking out of my hat!).  The neat thing is that we have the opportunity to be able to be in a relationship with this younger generation, effectual, impacting relationships, even if it is costly.

When Youngest Son was going through probably the most difficult time of his life when it came to matters of faith and practice, he came home from Discipleship training for Thanksgiving (and early Christmas) before leaving on assignment.  My Daddy was ill, (though we didn’t realize that he had less than a month left to live).  My Precious Daddy and My Sweet Mama always joined our family for Christmas Eve supper of Shrimp chowder and so we invited them for what was to be our Christmas eve supper that year in 2005.  We had a memorable evening together, but Daddy wasn’t feeling very well, plus Mama was still recovering from her esophageal cancer, so shortly after our gift exchange, they decided to leave.

Lem followed him out, and they stood together in the laundry room for what would be their last good-bye.  There was a hug–something my daddy was famous for, and then Daddy turned to leave.  At the door, he hesitated, then turned back.  Six words:  “Be a man.  Do what’s right,” he said with his gentle but intense way.  And then he was gone.  It was the last time that Lem saw him alive.  But if you were to ask Lem what has impacted his life for responsible, Godly behavior, those six words will be one of the first things he recounts.

My Daddy bought the right to say that to Lem with nineteen years of consistent, loving interest.  And I will go to my grave thankful for those six words and the man who loved his grandchildren with all the inconvenienced love a man could possibly have, not only in his heart, but in his very life.

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