Monthly Archives: July 2011

I’ve been so homesick for my faraway children these last couple of weeks. 

Youngest Daughter is serving her final days before returning home.  Her ticket has her leaving Thailand on Tuesday, traversing this globe in various hops until she lands in Columbus, OH, on Wednesday night.  Her debriefing lasts through the next week, until Friday, when, Oh Glorious Hope! her daddy and I are to join her for some closing formalities before bringing her home.

Maybe it is the proximity of her return.  Maybe it is that I am finally allowing myself to think about how far away she is and how long it has been.  Maybe it is just that fact that nine months is a long, long time.  But somehow the moments when I find myself in the middle of a longing to see her face and hear her voice, up close and personal are getting greater and closer together.

This morning, I was heading out through the laundry room to the garage for something or other, and I got to thinking about Oldest Son and his wife.  It’s been a long time since we saw them, and I felt this tightness in my throat and such a constriction in my heart that it surprised me.  Stopped me cold.  And I thought about the dynamics of our family, and the things that I miss so much.

There are so many things that I miss.  Actually, though, what I miss the most is what I can never have again — the faces of the children around the supper table; Christina, Deborah, Raph, Lem and Rachel.  I miss the sense of our family as our own little unit, the sounds of our children’s voices at play, at conversation, at prayer . . .

Tonight I remember the conversations at bedtime, words said through fresh-brushed teeth.

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . .”


“Put thoughts of Jesus in my head, and angels all around my bed, and fill my dreams with things that please you . . .

I think of the five of them tonight, and I’m certain they all still brush their teeth before they sleep, and I suspect that they still at least think prayers as some of their last thoughts.

When they come home, the house fills up with the essence that is our kids — and I stir around the kitchen and hear them laugh and talk, and sometimes I wonder at the adults they have become.  Opinions, ideas, and lives that are so independent of their Daddy and me, but people that I love so incredibly much and respect, and enjoy being with.  And they’ve brought good people to our family.  Jesse, Regina and Jessica.  We are so much richer for having these people as part of our family.

In the shadows, on those days when they are all home, I hear the sounds of the children they once were.  Christina still mothers them all and makes us laugh.  Deborah can be counted on for an opinion, and her many acts of service for her siblings often go unnoticed, Raph is still our Saint Bernard puppy of a guy, and he’s the one who plays his guitar and sings to me songs he’s written just for me, and Lem is “the judge” — his sense of justice and integrity still his guiding light, he also sings and plays his guitar almost constantly.  And Rachel —   She’s been our baby, and as such, it’s been easy to love her, but maybe not give her the credibility she deserves.  It’s been so long since she has been here, and I suspect we will be rewriting the rules of her place in the family when once she’s home.

The thing is, I want a chance to to just that.  And if the Lord so wills, and present plans carry, just two weeks from today, they will all be home again.  And I’m no fool.  It won’t be perfect.  I happen to know this Daddy and Momma, and we still make mistakes when it comes to parenting.  I also know these kids.

But they will all be under our roof for a while at the same time, and this Momma can hardly wait!




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I kid you not!

“This old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”

“My get up and go has got up and went.”

I did manage to get my hair combed and my face washed, but very little else.

I feel like my arms and legs weigh at least a hundred pounds a piece.

This is a good day to sit in my chair.

And that is about all I’ve gotten done since my ladies got on their buses.

I think I do better when there is something I have to do.

To be honest, “my” three cataclysmic kids were here last night and behaviors were almost unbelievable.  I’m almost certain that there is a home that is on the brink of disintegration, a young mother who has no clue what to do with her own life, much less the lives and desperate needs of her children, and my heart goes out to her, even though most of the problems are from her own choices.  The thing is, I have no way of speaking discipline to these children that is effective.  The gremlins of their lives are incredibly real to them — and even though they want to go to church, they really don’t want to learn about Jesus.


Last night, because they had misbehaved so much, (the usual, lying, stealing, fighting, pouting, railing against me and the supper provisions — they always want something different — hurting each other, etc.) I finally said that next week, only the oldest one could come.  I was pondering all night what could possibly motivate them to better behavior, and finally had instituted a “best behaved of the night” award with a dollar prize.  Well, that caused me a good ten dollars worth of trouble. For cryin’ out loud!!! (yep, they did that, too!) you would have thought I said that I was giving her a house and a lot!  Great wails and protests and hollering and arguing.  It just got worse and worse until I decided that I really was under no obligation to have them over to play and feed them supper and try to give them a good time, and that the ones who were behaving the worst could just not come.

That must sound like I am heartless and cold, but hear me out here.  The only reason I have ever wanted to be involved with these kids is because I want to speak Jesus into their lives.  From the very beginning, they have been really unwilling to listen to anything spiritual.  I’ve toned back demanding that they listen to Bible stories, and they literally will not cognitively participate in conversations that are steered in the direction of life skills, growing up responsible or any of those things.  Take the following situation:

We are on the golf cart.  The girls are with me on the seat, the boy is in back with the neighbor child, Romy.  We are going down the chicken house lane, towards the pasture, and as we come up on the chicken houses, there is this great, “E-W-W-W-W-W-W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone, cover your nose!!!  Quick, it stinks, E-W-W-W-W-W-W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  

Shirts and tops are pulled up over their faces, great gagging noises are made, and more complaining and fussing is going on, so I say to them, “I have a question for you guys.  Would you be willing to smell chickens if you could get paid for it?”

“No way!!!”


“Not me!!!”

I say, “What if taking care of chickens made it possible for you to have a farm, and have a place that you could live, would it be worth it then?”

“Nope, ain’t no way!”

“I would hate to do chickens.”

“They stink too bad.”

I say, “Well, kids, the thing is, I’m not sure Mr. Daniel LIKES taking care of chickens, but he does it because it is one of his ways of providing for us as a family.  Those chickens paid for this farm.  And that’s what responsible adults do.  They do what needs to be done to provide for their families.”

“Not gonna’ take care of chickens.  Ms. MaryAnn can you make this thing go faster?”

“Oops, I lost my shoe.  It’s back there in the grass!”

“Hee-hee, he lost his shoe.   Ms. MaryAnn, LJ lost his shoe.”

“Gotta’ go back for it, Ms. MaryAnn, Ms. MaryAnn, Ms. MaryAnn–“

So that was the end of that conversation, ending as most of them always do, in the chaos of yet another crisis of loud and disorderly proportions.

I have truly never seen children so taken up with gore and guts and bodily functions and the forces of darkness.  They know about things that I have absolutely no idea what in the world they are talking about, but it must be something, because the oldest will protest, “Ms. MaryAnn, make them stop! They are saying things that make me have bad dreams and things that make me scared.”  And then she will wail at them, “Stop it. Muffy!  Stop it,  LJ!  Stop it!”

And they will gleefully go on saying things like “Candy Man!”  and “Amityville” and something about a Rose car wreck.  And one is shrieking and laughing in a maniacal fashion, one is bouncing off the seat, having shed the seat belt, and one is covering her ears so she won’t hear what they are saying.

And then there is this terrible smell filling the car.

“Ms. MaryAnn, Muffy’s farting!  E-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W!  Muffy’s farting!  Can we open the windows or something?  E-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W!!! Muffie!”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!  No, I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did!!!  Ms. MaryAnn, Muffy’s lyin’!”

“Well, if i have to do it, Ha-ha-ha, I have to do it!”

“Muffy,” I try to say firmly but gently, “When I was a little girl, we weren’t even allowed to use that word.  And besides, a refined lady will try hard to not pass gas in public.”

“Well, my mama says that if I have to do, I have to do it.  Everybody does it.  So there!”

“But Muffy, if a lady can’t control it, she is embarrassed by it, not proud of it.  It isn’t funny.”

“Ms. MaryAnn — Ms. MaryAnn– Ms. MaryAnn —

“What do you want, Muffie?”

“Um, Ms. MaryAnn, um, well, I forgot —LJ, stop that!  Ms. MaryAnn, LJ is —

“Ms. MaryAnn, Muffy hit me!”

“Did not!”

“”Yes you did and she said ‘shut up!'”  And on and on and on and on.

The thing that is interesting to me is how often they use my name.  They all three say it and say it and say it.  It reminds me of the lobby in the old Country Rest Home when Daddy was the administrator.  I came home from Ohio for a visit, and when I stopped in to see him he said to me, “Sometimes I think if I hear ‘Mr. Yoder’ one more time, I’m going to go out of my mind.  It’s everywhere I turn, ‘Mr. Yoder, Mr. Yoder, Mr. Yoder!”  I remember laughing a little to myself, thinking it wouldn’t be all that bad — until I walked with him through the lobby and it was immediately exactly like he said.  And it was overwhelming, to say the least. 

These days, when my name keeps getting said over and over, for no more reason than to just say it, I remember him, but I also think of the third of the Ten Commandments and think of the daily offenses there are with taking The Holy Name of God in vain — and how that must grieve Him.

So, finally, when I took them home, their mama wasn’t there.  She had said to bring them home “Around nine.” 

I had said, “If I’m going to be later than 9:30, do you want me to call?”

“Yeah, if you could.  It’s hard for me to come and get them because I usually put the baby down around then.”

So I got there around ten after nine and there was no one there, and I waited and waited and waited while they fought and yelled and threw things.

“Ms. MaryAnn, Muffy threw her candy at me!”

“Did not!”

“Yes, you did!”

“Did not!”

“Uh, Muffy, yes, you did!” I looked at the guilty party with her half empty candy pouch in her hand.

“I was sharing with her!” (said with a self-righteous little snoot.)

“No, Muffy, you weren’t!  You don’t share.  Please don’t throw candy!”

Then LJ piped up.  “I didn’t get any candy when we left your house, Ms. MaryAnn.  I didn’t get any like the rest!”

“Yes, you did, LJ.  I was there when you chose your candy.  Remember?”

“Yeah, but I lost it.  I didn’t get it.”

“LJ, you DID have it.  I smelled it when you were eating it, just a little bit ago.”

“I know, but it was nasty, so I threw it out the window!”  (This said from the middle seat on our mini-van that doesn’t have a window that opens.)

“LJ, why don’t you just tell me the truth?  You lie to me when you don’t even have to.  Just tell me the truth!”

“I did!”

“Well, Sonny-buck, it is going to have to be your problem.  You had candy.  What you did with it is your problem.”

Yep, most of the time, there was just one thing after another.  When I finally reached their mama, she said that she had to run to Wal-mart and would be home really soon.  It was almost ten o’clock by now, and I had come back to my house to try to find my missing cell phone.   So I turned around again, and went back to their house while I talked to their Mama about the evening and about how we could partner together to try to have a little bit better control and how we could encourage the children to try to behave better.  We settled the thing of who would come the next week, and I addressed a couple of issues that were especially troubling to me (an seven year old having free rein with an inhaler that he used with abandon, the stealing and lying and yelling, etc.).  This mother is literally at her wit’s end.  She has this seven year old son who proclaims that he hates her, that he wants to kill her and she found a knife under his mattress last week.  She is getting him counseling, she says, but the day by day living is so completely overwhelming with him and Muffy that she doesn’t know what to do.

We hung up, and I pulled into their driveway.  I told them the things that their Mama and I had decided.

“I’m glad I’m not going,” said Muffy, meanly, coldly, snuffily.

LJ began to wail. “Just let me come without Muffy,” he pleaded.  “She’s the one who makes me be bad.  I can be good if Muffy’s not there.  Just let me come, just let me come.  I want to come, I want to come, it’s all Muffy’s fault!”

“No,” I said, “LJ, you need to realize that you are the one who decides how LJ is going to behave.  You need to decide to do what is right no matter what Muffy does.  You are responsible for you.  And Jesus wants to help you do what is right, and if you ask him, He will help you!”

And then I turned around to the three of them in the seats behind me.  “In fact, kids,” I said, “I’m going to pray for you right now.  Jesus wants to help you do what you should do.”

“No, No, No!” said LJ, covering his head with both hands, “Let me alone! Let me alone!” and I realized anew the added dimension of this battle.  I began to pray and he slid farther and farther down on his seat and began to sob quietly.  I prayed for their family, for the difficult situation the kids are in, that Jesus would help them to obey and to do right and that they would know that He was with them and wanted to help them. Muffy was perched on the edge of her seat, as was Mya in the back seat, and they were both strangely quiet while LJ sobbed.  I said the Name of Jesus over them and opened my eyes to see their Mama standing outside the car, waiting for them to get out.

I opened the doors, and they went, subdued and silent, into the house.  Their mama stayed out and talked and talked and talked until her youngest child’s daddy insisted she come in because the baby was burning up with fever.

And I came home.  To say that I’ve been exhausted ever since is pretty much an understatement.  Those of you who know me well know that this is never far from my mind.  God has a plan here, I know it!  When you think of this gal who is no longer young, and yet wants so much to hear God’s voice in this situation, and wants to live and breathe the Love of Jesus to these kids, would you please say a prayer for me for wisdom and patience and (especially) vision that includes Hope and a Future? 

And if there are suggestions, please feel free to give those, too.

And pray for Mya, LJ and Muffy.



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The rest of the story . . .

If you managed to read through the previous post (see previous post!) you know I promised the story of “The Storm”  and that is what this post is all about.

We set about on Tuesday morning to “do” 1,500 ears of sweet corn.  The process started with me traversing the miles to the farm of Willard and Tammy Kauffman to pick up the corn.  It wasn’t too hot (yet!) on this morning — there was some cloud cover, and the breezes, coming in the open windows of Certain Man’s air-conditioned-less truck, (affectionately known as “Stinky” to Certain Man’s household) was pleasant enough for me to burst into little made up songs as we puttered on down the road.  The muffler needs fixed, and there was this sense of power (totally without foundation) when the noise of a “bad boy’s car” rumbled through the neighborhood.  Nine year old Romy, on the ripped and stained passenger’s seat, stole more than one puzzled glance in the direction of the driver.

“Who is this crazy lady?” He must have wondered, “and how do I let myself get into these predicaments?”  But then, he’s getting accustomed to Ms. Mary Ann and her (sometimes) unpredictable behaviors.

It was easy to be enthusiastic about our venture.  Certain Man had set everything up for us before leaving for work.  He had run the many hoses, hooked up the cooling system, set up the new corn silker and even hooked up the gas to the two outside cookers.  All we needed to do was to spread out the tarp to catch all the husks and we were ready to get to work.

It was a terribly hot day.  A week ago, when we did 700 ears, it was also extremely hot, but there was a redeeming breeze blowing and it didn’t seem too bad, especially under the pavilion.  Now, this day was almost unbearable, even in the shade, but the optimism I felt over all the wonderful help we had participating was not to be quelled.  There was a small chance of some afternoon showers, and how very much we needed rain. 

“Many hands make light work” the old saying goes, and the husking was over in short order.  Our amazing work crew:  Christina, Deborah, and I from our family, Sarah, Elmer, Maria and Josh from the Slaubaughs, Roxie and Carmen from the Heatwoles, Friend Emma and little Romy from next door along with occasional help from Love Bug.




We wiped out the husking task, finished the silking in a little bit of no time and had the burners going full blast and the cutting was coming along nicely.  We were extremely pleased with our progress.  Middle Daughter was managing the blanching with help from Elmer, and doing a splendid job of things.  The afternoon continued to be oppressively hot, and very little breeze was to be had in the open air pavilion.

Over the course of the afternoon, we noticed that towards the east, there were clouds forming.  Shady Acres rarely gets a storm from the east, and the wind seemed to be coming out of the northwest, so we continued to cook, cook, cook and cut, cut, cut.  Love Bug got a little tired from all her running around, and Christina decided to take her home for a nap.  (This was a “God-thing”  and nothing short of it — not because of her behavior, but because of what happened.)  Beloved Son in Law was able to get off from work to come home and watch over the sleeping Love Bug and Christina came back to lend her help.  The weather continued to look dark and foreboding.  Since we haven’t had much rain (as in NONE in the month of June) we were all hoping for significant rainfall. 

Late in the afternoon, it began to rain, and with the rain came some wind that threatened to blow dust and dirt into the pavilion and into our precious corn.  We debated about a tarp, and the only one I knew of that Certain Man had was the one that we had put the corn husks on, and I distinctly remembered the smell of male cats when I had put it down in the morning.  I did not really want to tangle with that huge old thing, especially in the wind and rain.  Then Friend Emma remembered that she had a tent tarp in her truck.  She didn’t remember why she had it, and the tent was no longer in use, so she went out and fetched it in the middle of a downpour, and with monumental effort, we raised a protective shield against the elements.  And it worked really, really well!


In the meantime, the storm waxed worse and worse. 


The lightening was so close, we could feel it in the air, and the thunder crashed almost as soon as the lightening flashed.  The smarter ones of us took refuge in the house until things settled down, and then we all got back to work again.  The storm had seemingly moved on, and we had corn to finish yet. 

Deborah never left her post, and she and Elmer finished well ahead of us.  (I didn’t get a picture of Elmer!  Or Carmen!  So sorry!)

We had finished all the blanching, but there were three big muck buckets of corn cooling.  The lightening and thunder returned with a vengeance, and all of a sudden, the wind took on a strange feel to it.  I looked up to see that things were starting to fly about, and Sister Sarah said, “I think we need to get in.”  I was thinking that was a good idea,too.

“Get in!” I said.  “We need to go now!”  And then bedlam really broke loose.  Common “corn day stuff” was becoming missiles to be reckoned with. There were three big pots of corn sitting on the table, already cut off, and there were paper plates and cups, dishrags and paper towels, knives and hot pads all over the pavilion.  The whistling wind and the realization that we were in serious circumstances made us all a bit uncertain about what we should do.

“What shall we do with this corn and stuff?”

“What shall we do, what shall we take?”

“Grab whatever you can,” I shouted above the wind, “But just go.  Now!!!”  I reached down to get the big stainless steel bowl of corn that I was packing into plastic bags.  Just as I gathered it up in my arms, I felt the wind literally pick me off the ground.  It was but an instant until I was back down again, and at that moment, something whacked me hard, on the right side of my head, “ka-thunk!”  About then, the tarp came loose from its moorings and wrapped itself around Carmen who struggled mightily to free herself.  The wind was strange and wild and about then, it grabbed the tarp from Carmen and wrapped it around my head.  I was dimly aware of people shouting and Carmen was frantically screaming, “Aunt Mary!  Aunt Mary!”  I reached up and clawed at the tarp that was wrapped around my head and with a mighty effort tore it off.  The elastic bands that served to anchor the tarp somehow tethered themselves around my right ear, and I wrestled with the sheets of rain and mighty wind to get rid of the tarp.  I remember that my sister was beginning to turn around to come and help me, and I knew she needed to get herself in —

“Just get in!!!” I remember shouting, as I finally flung the drenched tarp away from me, nearly tearing off my ear in the process.

“Aunt Mary, Aunt Mary,” Carmen was still wailing.  “Aunt Mary, are you okay?  Oh, Aunt Mary, weren’t you down?  I was sure you were down!”

“Come on, we need to get in,” I insisted almost incoherently.  “I’m fine!”

“Didn’t you fall?” Carmen insisted.

“Nope!  Not at all!”   All this time, we were all dashing for the protection of the garage, up the ramp and into the laundry room where we all stood dripping everywhere, and looking wild and wide eyed as we thought about what could have been.  All of us were soaked to the skin, and my ear felt like it was on fire.

“Aunt Mary, are you SURE you are okay?” Carmen asked again.  “I was sure I saw you down!”

“I’m sure I didn’t fall, Carmen, I promise you, but I did almost get my ear taken off!”  That’s when it got funny, because my hair was as drenched down as a wet rat, my clothes were dripping puddles around my feet, and my ear was as red as a rooster’s comb!  And hurt!  Wowser!  After everything calmed down and the adrenaline wasn’t flowing anymore, I was sure that I had permanent damage to that poor right ear.  I felt all about its parameters carefully to make sure there was no blood, no gaping wounds that needed attention, and it appeared that all was well.  I just couldn’t figure out how it could be so red and hurt so much.  And it took a while to piece together the story of all that really happened.

The one thing certain was that we all needed dry clothing.  So Emma and Sarah put on threads of mine, and the others procured things from the accumulated stash, and Christina found a bag of clean clothes in her car for herself.  We waited out the storm, while rivers of water poured down outside of the sun room and the basement began to take on water.  Middle Daughter and Elmer kept running out and rescuing this or that.  Somewhere in that segment of time, I realized that my glasses were gone, and figured I would probably never see them again, but Elmer went forth and searched about and found them.  They were a bit bent and twisted, and they really don’t fit right, but they are my glasses, and I can at least READ! 

Then my cell phone began to ring, and the fellow on the other end came on with the dire words, “You have a poultry alarm, you have a poultry alarm . . .”   I went out and checked and neither light was on, indicating that both chicken houses were in big trouble.  I called Certain Man, and he said he was almost home, to just not worry about it.  Elmer went out and checked the first house, but his Mama was not very excited about him being out there, so he came back, but hadn’t found anything serious going on out there.  No roofs missing or houses blown down.  Sarah and Elmer decided to go on home about then at the great urging of the younger set, who also insisted that I stay in the house and take care of house things. 

About then, Certain Man came in from the chicken house and said, “Well, that was one expensive storm!”

“What happened in the chicken house?” I asked, tenderly cupping my red, ouchie ear.  (I wondered if it was brilliant enough to light up the entire room, but he didn’t seem to notice.  I must have been a sight, anyhow, with my hair now pulled straight back and bare feet and housecoat. And red ear.  Don’t forget the red ear!)

‘Well, something fried our new computers.  One house entirely and the other has something wrong with it.  I have a call in to the electrician, and he is coming.  I suppose, though, that the one, at least, is a total loss.”  The computers have been in the house for one (1!) flock.  I could tell that he was pretty discouraged just to think of the money it would take to replace even one of them.  But he is a resourceful man, and doesn’t let much get him down, especially when there is a crisis that demands his energy, and soon he, Emma, Christina, Roxie, Carmen and Deborah were back out in the pavilion, finishing up cutting the last of the corn off and cleaning up.  They brought the last corn in for me to package, and Carmen and Roxie stayed to help wash dishes and straighten up the kitchen a little.  And finally, I was at the end.  I could not go any more.

When everyone had gone, I came in to my computer to write the story — and that is where I got a bit sidetracked telling the anniversary story.  What I didn’t tell last night was that Certain Man was on his way to Virginia while I was writing that story, to pick up a new computer for the chicken house.  One was fried, the other was repairable.  I finished writing my story, then went out to check chickens for him before settling in for the night.  I rode the trusty golf cart out and the world was gorgeous.  All washed and shiny and even cooler.  I checked the two houses of chickens and everything was fine.  I was talking to Certain Man on my cell phone and went out to check the rain gauge before heading for the house.  I was having a delightful conversation with him while I headed back to the pavilion on the dark side of the house to park the golf cart when suddenly there was this terrible clattering and noise over head.  I thought that the golf cart must have gone under something that was scraping the top of the cart when suddenly I came to a screeching halt.  I had caught the clothes line with the top of the golf cart and had torn down all three lines.  The one line had hooked between the golf cart’s post and its roof, and I had to stop and unhook the whole mess before I could go forward. 

Certain Man LAUGHED. 

I could have cried. 

Back in the house, though, and through the day today, I’ve been rethinking those terrible minutes in my mind and I realize how very blessed and protected we were in that storm.  Our neighbor right down the road had a big tree literally uprooted in his yard, and heavy limbs fell on his house.  There were branches down and our one Crape Myrtle lost one of its largest branches.  There were so many things flying around, and so many people out in the worst part of the wind and rain, and yet, there were no serious injuries.  I have an interesting bruisey weltish kind of thing on the back of my ear, and it still hurts, but it isn’t going to fall off, and it didn’t need to be reattached, so it isn’t really worth mentioning.  (But I keep mentioning it because, after all, it does still hurt!)

Even with that, this is one grateful gal, believe me!  It truly could have been such a different story told tonight.  And for the angel that God sent to set me back down gently and safely, I am so thankful.  This is a story of protection and provision, and I offer grateful praise.

I’m also grateful for 170 containers of corn, all packaged and in the freezer.

Oh, and the 3.25 inches of rain was wonderful, too.




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I come in from the kitchen.  Clean dishes all around, but not put away.  I’m concerned about the corn, 140 quarts in 170 varied containers, trying to freeze in various freezers.  Mostly in ours.  Certain Man went down earlier this evening and redistributed the various bags and Ziploc© screwtop freezer containers to maximize the cooling process.  When I went to fetch Friend Emma’s corn, her packages were icing over, so it should be okay.  I just always remember the year the corn soured before it froze.

Today was the third day of corn for Shady Acres.  700 ears last Tuesday with some of the Bible Study Gals.  1,500 ears on Saturday with Sister Sarah’s family — and they actually did most of the work, and then 1,500 today — some for our household, some for Sister Alma’s household, some for Sweet Mama, some for Friend Emma, some for Alma’s Son, David’s wife, Roxie.  Things have gone exceptionally well, especially these last two big days.

I have to laugh sometimes at the way Certain Man and I have gone about this Anniversary thing.  I honestly can’t remember the last time he bought a card for our anniversary.  But he never forgets it, and he always is certain to want to celebrate it some way.  We dream dreams of taking the transcontinental railway across Canada for our fortieth, coming up in two years.  We’ve had high plans at other times, too, but something has always gotten in the way.  Three years ago, at our 35th, we had planned to do something BIG, but both of our sons got married that summer, and we built a pavilion instead.  Somehow, it seemed like the pavilion would be more useful to the world in general than us running off on some big and expensive trip.  For our twenty-fifth, we went back to our honeymoon cabin.  That would have been romantic enough, I guess, but we took all five kids along, as well as a young family friend.  Our family had a wonderful time, but it wasn’t romantic.  Oh, and that same year, Certain Man decided that we could do a little private celebrating by going to an MDS meeting that was being held in Calgary, Alberta, CANADA.  That would have suited me fine except for a few things.  One being that it was being held in FEBRUARY.  The other was that we had to FLY to get there.  At that point it had probably been almost 20 years since I had flown anywhere, and I wasn’t inclined to start again.  But I realized that Daniel was going to go, and if I wanted to be with him, I would need to fly.  And so I pleaded for grace to see me through, and bought a heavy, long, woolen black coat and went to Calgary.  Alberta.  CANADA.

If there is one thing that I have learned about Our Father, it is that He cares so much about the things that are important to us.  And behold, he caused a Chinook to blow through out the land of Calgary, Alberta, CANADA, the entire time that we were there, and it was a wonderful, awesome, unforgettable time.  It was warmer there than it was back in Milford, DE.  I had often heard of “Big Sky” country, but had never really considered what that meant.  It was absolutely unbelievable.  I will never, ever, ever take the term “Big Sky” for granted again.  The sky is just so, well, BIG!

This year for our anniversary, we planned to take a trip overnight, just to get away for a little.  We had a hard time deciding where we wanted to go.  There was a lot of “Where do you want to go?”  “I don’t know.  Where do you want to go?”  “I don’t care!  Just choose a place and we’ll go.”  “But don’t you have any idea where you want to go?”  “Just getting away is enough, so you say where and we’ll go!” sort of business, and finally I mentioned that it would be fun to go to Longwood Gardens to see the light display, and that seemed acceptable to Certain Man and so we decided that we would maybe head north.

Then we had the corn day of 700 ears of corn with several of the Bible Study Gals, and it brought into mind what my sister-in-law, Rachel, had told me about a small machine shop up in Ephrata, PA, that had invented a corn silking machine.  She and her extended family had purchased one and they had found it to be exceedingly useful in doing lots and lots of sweet corn.  So whilst I recuperated from the day’s labors on Tuesday night, I said to Certain Man, “How about if we run up to Ephrata on our little trip and see if we could purchase one of those corn silking machines.

And Certain Man, remembering that his sister had praised the merits of said machine to the skies, said, “I would be game for that.  LET’S!”  I  had the telephone number and so I gave them a call and they allowed as they did have some on hand, but he took my name and phone number, just in case, and I said that we hoped to be there on Friday morning. 

Friday morning, we came into Lancaster County and began our search for the company, and we went around and around, down this lane and that lane and eventually came to a gravel road and there was a sign out at the blacktop road that pointed us back the lane to the business that we were looking for.  We got there around noon and many of the workers were breaking for lunch.  A pleasant faced young man came up to us and greeted us and said, “Are you here to buy something, or what?”

“Yes, we are,” I said, “we came to see about purchasing a corn silking machine.”

The fellow looked troubled and said, “What kind are you looking for?”  He reached behind him and came up with a bottle brush looking kind of mechanism and laid it on the table.  “Is this the one you are looking for?”

“No,” I said, “we came for one of the large ones.”

“I was afraid of that,” he said ruefully, “because I’m sold out.”

I couldn’t believe my ears, “I called earlier this week,” I said, feeling the panic rise within me, “and whomever I talked to said that you had quite a few left.”

“Did you talk to someone?” he queried. “Is there any chance that your name got put on one, because we have one of the stainless steel models, and one of the regular models as well, but both of them have names on them.”

“I don’t know if he put my name on them or not,” I said, “but he did ask me for my name and phone number.”

The young man typed a few punches onto his desktop.  “What is your name?”  He asked.

“Yutzy–?” I said, hopefully, watching his face for the slightest glimmer of hope.

“Daniel?” he asks, peering over the top of the desktop into my anxious face.

“That’s IT!” I say, a little louder than is necessary.

“Well,” he says, smiling a little, “It looks like we have one for you.  The regular kind.  Is that what you wanted?”

“It is what I asked for,” I said, “but my husband said that he thought it would be worth the extra $50.00 just to have a machine that didn’t rust.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I only have one of each left and they are both spoken for, so I guess  you’ll just have to stick with the green one.”

I was so glad to have the machine that I probably would have taken it in pink (though it is doubtful that Certain Man would have wanted that kind of corn silker).

Certain Man paid for the machine, and someone brought us a heavy, sturdy box and loaded it into the back of our van for us.  And we left for home.  We stopped in King of Prussia on the way home for a delightful time with Youngest Son and his gal, then came on home.  Certain Man lugged the 70 pound box into the middle of the kitchen and we took off the box.

It was gorgeous.  Shiny, new, really, really heavy duty — and STAINLESS STEEL.

I looked at Certain Man.  “Now what?” I asked miserably.  We had 1,500 ears on schedule for the next day, and we really, really did not want to hand silk all that corn when we had this newfangled contraption sitting in our kitchen.  We were willing to pay the extra $50.00 to keep it, but what about the family that had wanted this model and had to do with the other.  I picked up the phone and called them.  No answer.  I left a detailed message, and went to bed.  I decided that we were just going to use this wondrous machine and if someone wanted to fuss, they could just fuss.  After all, it wasn’t our mistake.

The machine is a wonderful, wonderful labor saving device.  It gets almost all the silk off, to the tune of 18 ears of corn a MINUTE.  And the thing I like best about it is that it is intriguing to the male species.  We have never had the guys silk corn before.  But this is so wondrously mechanical that they actually enjoy it.  And we broke it in but good on Saturday.  1,500 ears of sweet corn from unhusked to in the freezer and everything cleaned up in six and a half hours. 

I am so grateful for this “anniversary gift” that has recently landed at Shady Acres.  It’s so typical of our anniversary “presents” over the years.  Sometimes people will ask me if it is something that bothers me — Don’t I wish for this or that — a cruise, a trip to Europe, a big party, etc., etc., etc..

To be perfectly honest — NO!  It feels to me like this is just another definition of the team that is Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife.  Don’t get me wrong, this team isn’t perfect.  It has been through some tough times — the enemy of our souls is also the enemy of marriage and all that’s good.  But when we step back and look at things and realize how much of what we want from life and what we want to give back to life is similar, it is encouraging and strengthening and so, so sweet.

And even though this corn silker belongs to more than just the two of us it still will always remind me of our 2011 Anniversary.

And it will remind me of the STORM.

But that is another story, for another time and another place.

But if you’ve read this one, and stuck with me until now, you’ll want to read that one, too.



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Thirty-eight years ago, today . . .


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Dear Photograph —


Big Brother and Blueberry Eyes . . .

Twenty years later, he’s in Ohio, she’s in Thailand.
And Dad and Mom, in Delaware, still have the old swing.

for more photos from all over the globe, go to:


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. . .on another note

These four children were here for the
Bible Study Gal’s Brunch on Thursday morning.


(There actually were nine other children here, but I just happened to catch these four!)

To tell the truth, I don’t think a single one of thirteen slept a wink!

And even though that’s not “easy”
it’s still “good.”



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They aren’t so hungry these days.  Mom has a job, and the food stamps got upped, too.

They still want to come, and they want to play, and sometimes they are really off the wall.

They ride the bikes and riding toys that are in the shed around and around, crash into each other, scream and fight and lie and sometimes steal.

They tell tall tales of imagined adventure and conflict.

I look into their beautiful faces and wonder if Jesus will ever be given a chance to make a difference in their lives.

Things were strange last night.  I picked them up around six, and brought them here and they wanted to ride bikes while I got supper on.  I suddenly realized that the six year old was sprawled out on the area rug in the sunroom, just as peaceful as could be, and the ten year old was beside her.  Muffy, the little one, seemed to be enjoying the cool, and since it was so hot outside, I didn’t blame her a single bit.  I went in and talked to her, and she smiled peacefully at me, but didn’t much engage in conversation.  I thought Mya seemed a little over solicitous as she hovered around.  And as the evening progressed, it was apparent that there was something really different about Muffy.  She just wanted to sleep.

Then Mya came out to the kitchen and said, “The reason Muffy is so sleepy is that she was really, really out of control at home, and Mom thought she needed to calm down so she gave her her sleeping medicine before she came.”

I must have looked puzzled because she hastened to explain, “LJ and Muffy both need sleeping medicine so they can sleep.  Mom told her to try not to sleep here, but I guess she can’t help it.”

It was that way all evening.  None of the usual things that interested her could attract her attention.  She slept on the floor, she slept on the wing chair, she slept on my recliner, and she almost slept on the golf cart ride that I made her go on just before I took them home.  I had hoped that the fresh evening air, the excitement of the meadow and the evening sounds and colors would rouse her a bit, but nothing diverted her from that deep, deep need to sleep.

Finally, a little after nine, I packed them all up and took them home.  My “easiest” night with them had quickly turned into my most troubling.  My heart, heavy in my chest became hot tears on the way home.  What is there in these children’s lives that makes it impossible for a six year old and an eight year old to not be able to sleep? 

I asked Muffy in one of the moments I had alone with her if there was something bothering her.  “No,” she said in her little girl voice.  She insisted that she wasn’t having nightmares, didn’t have anything that was making her sad, etc., but something is so amiss.  Medication for ADHD in the morning, medication to sleep at night . . . 

What will this lead to?

Where will it end?

God help the children! 

And we can leave our porch lights on for a murdered child in Florida (and we SHOULD care about this) but we cannot be bothered with the children on our doorsteps.
God help His People to see what we can do to make a difference.

Right here. 

Right now.



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Here We Sit With Our Red Faces . . .

So Certain Man and his wife have been rather running on the smatterings of almost no energy since the departure of Marty and Diane Wenger yesterday morning.  We had had a wonderful July 4th picnic, but the older we get, the longer it takes to recuperate.  There was the usual work for Certain Man, and small mountains of laundry — sheets and towels and regular family laundry to do, as well as getting picnic things washed up and put away.  Yesterday was a day when there was almost NO REST for the weary. 

And today has been a busy day.  Romey, the neighbor boy was here, and Mama needed a prescription, and it was my regular day to go to her house to do bookwork.  I felt all day like I could hardly go another step, but there was always something else that kept me going.  And then, too, all day long I’ve been thinking in terms of Small Group.  Middle Daughter, home for the day, had picked up the living room, straightened the house and worked on the last few loads of laundry left over from yesterday.  Then this afternoon, I realized that my dryer was not behaving, so I got my stick of great length, put  a plastic drum liner down on the ground, and crawled part ways under the deck, and poked around in there for some great expenditure of energy that I didn’t have, trying to get it to shorten its four hour drying cycle into something more acceptable.  Then I got supper over early for a change, and made apple crisp and got the questions ready for the DVD — and nobody came and nobody came and nobody came.

“This is really strange,” I thought.  “I know that our group is often a little tardy in coming, but this is REALLY late, even for them!” 

Certain Man was out and about, fixing a water line in the chicken house, and finally, I decided to check the bulletin.

“Maybe,” I thought, “there was something in there about not having small group since there was a visiting speaker on Sunday, and the picnic on Monday.”  So I went back into my e-mails, and found Sunday’s bulletin, and lo!  And behold!  There WASN’T small group.  Nope.  There was PRAYER MEETING AT CHURCH!!!  In charge of Dave Hertzler.  At 7:00.  Oh, dear.  And it was now 7:30.  I went out and found Certain Man coming in, all confused as to why no one was here yet.

“I kept watching,” he said, “to see if anyone was here, but nobody came.  I couldn’t figure it out!  Finally decided that I better come in and find out what was going on!”

“There’s no small group!”  I told him, and filled in the details.

Talk about embarrassment!  We honestly don’t believe in just “missing” prayer meeting.  Middle Daughter thinks it’s the funniest thing of all time.  She has laughed and laughed at these two “old people.” 

“NOT FUNNY!!!” I tell her.

She is not convinced. 

And now I will tell you what I think.  I think maybe, just MAYBE I needed this quiet evening at home.  I am sorry I missed going to church but maybe that is better than going and sleeping through the service.

Sweet dreams, dear friends.  I’m going to try to make up for some of the sleep I lost.


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Oh, Dear!


I had a comment from @earthmechanic wondering if I hadn’t gotten my Aunt Orpha and My Sweet Mama mixed around when I labeled this picture in my Reunion post.  Lo, and behold!  I HAD!!!  So, just in case some of you were thoroughly confused, and others of you too polite to tell me and (and probably others of you that never even noticed) — HERE is the corrected list with the same picture — and I still think it is the rightest of right pictures.  I fiercely love these eight people — especially the one all the way to the end on the right in the front row, but every single one of the others, for sure.




My Sweet Mama’s siblings are all still living.
In fact, the only one missing from even the spouses is my Daddy.
In the back, from left to right:
Aunt Gladys (Married to Jesse Yoder) Dover, DE
Aunt Alma Jean (Married to Harvey Yoder) Harrisonburg, VA
Aunt Freda (Married to Vernon Zehr) Greenwood, DE
Aunt Ruth Ann (Married to Allan Shirk) Lancaster, PA
Front Row, Same direction:
Uncle Lloyd (Married to Beverly Shriner) Gap, PA
Uncle Harold (Married to Mary Hepner) Lititz, PA
Aunt Orpha (Married to Lloyd Gingrich) Richfield, PA
My Sweet Mama (Married to the late Mark Yoder, Sr.) Greenwood, DE


(Thank you, Merle.  I sincerely appreciate it!)



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