Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Bonfire and a Prayer Request

We had our annual Bonfire and Hayride at Shady Acres last night.  Daniel asked me how long we’ve been doing this, and I said that I thought probably about ten years.  Last night was one of the most memorable yet because of the perfect weather, the gorgeous moon, and the wonderful people who came to share with us.  “Our kids” that come to Sunday School were all here — with one set of parents and the one Dad, and the kids were pretty wild.  Half way through the evening someone came into the house and dialed 911 and hung up.  I came into the house 20 minutes later to get something, and got a phone call from the State Police asking if everything was alright, wondering if they needed to dispatch someone out here.  Of course I was totally in the dark, but promised to investigate.  And (of course!) NO ONE knew anything at all and the evening went on.  I went back to see if 911 had, in fact, been dialed from the house phone and sure enough, there it was.  We can always surmise and suspect and wonder, but there were so many people here last night, not just the children, who could have done it, I guess, but I found other things amiss — lots of trash, just thrown down, a broken flower pot on the deck, overturned stands, etc., that make me wonder just what all happened under the cover of darkness.  
It reminds me again of how much we’ve been given in the training we’ve had, and the examples that we’ve had before us of being stewards of what is entrusted into our care — but it also reminds me of the fact that when we are called to a mission, when we feel strongly that God has asked us to be involved in lives that are messy or noisy or angry or broken, we can expect that it comes with a cost to our comfort and complacency and even (maybe especially) our treasures.  The flower pot that was broken last night was a gift from one of my cousins when I had surgery last spring.  It was a spikey geranium that has been incredibly beautiful all summer, and I had plans of wintering it over because it just wouldn’t stop blooming.  
I especially loved the big round bellied pot that she had it in, and I looked at that broken pot, strewn across the deck and wanted to cry.  I picked up the flower, found it surprisingly intact and repotted it in a handy, white plastic container, brought it into the sun room and hoped for the best.  Time will tell.
On another note, back just before Rachel left for Uganda, there had been an outbreak of the Ebola Virus — which was quickly contained, and travel was not restricted.  However, we received an e-mail this morning from the home office of her sending organization, Uganda Studies Program, informing us that there has been an outbreak of Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (of the same family of viruses as Ebola) in western Uganda.   Not only is it close to “home” for this team, but one of the University Professors at Uganda Christian University (THEIR UNIVERSITY) has died.  The students of the team are with host families in Eastern Uganda this week (So Grateful!!!) but are scheduled to return tomorrow to the university.  Steps have been taken to isolate anyone who had contact with the professor, and everything has been done to insure the safety of the students that physically can be.  If you could just pray for Rachel, her Cedarville friend, Anna, who is in Uganda with her, and the rest of the team, I would certainly appreciate it.  
They are all in the hands of The Father, and it is a good time for me to trust HIM with another of my “Precious Treasures.” 


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Annual Bonfire and Hayride

Just like there isn’t anything else going on
this weekend in our community,

Tonight is the Annual Autumn Bonfire and Hayride at Shady Acres.

Bring potluck picnic foods,
your own hotdogs and hotdog buns.

Roasting sticks

Anything you need for making s’mores.

It isn’t as cold as it sometimes is,

But you still might want some
jackets and blankets for the Hayride.

If you have some kiddos
and you want to bring some riding toys,
feel free.

Looking forward to seeing (some of) you HERE!





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Happiness is an early morning call from the “Middle of nowhere, Uganda” Birthday Girl, where things are going much better than she had anticipated (dreaded!) including primitive bathroom facilities, and a friend to share the experience.  (She was sure that it would be her lot to have a lack of both important elements)  Yesterday she helped to “slaughter a chicken” — (Yeah, Rachel!) but is finding that life in the bush is far more leisurely paced than anything she has experienced so far.  She and her friend are living with a man and his wife who have one child still at home.  (I think she said “daughter” but I’m not sure.  Kinda’ hope so!)  happy  She sounded happy, relaxed, rested and very, very far away.

A great happiness in this Delaware Farmhouse this morning.

Happy Birthday, Rachel.  Daddy and I are so glad that God sent you to our house!


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Remembering Old Gertrude . . .





She went to sleep one night, Never here to awake again, 

But everything was alright, Between her and Him, 

So she awoke in Heaven’s courtyard, 

Free from pain within, The angels gathered around her, 

And took her by the hand. 

Serenaded by angels, Up to the throne, 
Serenaded by angels, Finally at home, 
Surrounded by praises, To the King, 
Welcome to Paradise, The angels did sing. 

Now, I close my eyes at night, And I try to imagine, 

That city of brilliant light, Waiting for me, 

But my mind can not conceive, So I’ll continue to dream, 

Till I’m transported there, Then I will be. . .

Serenaded by angels, Up to the throne, 
Serenaded by angels, Finally at home, 
Surrounded by praises, To the King, 
Welcome to Paradise, The angels did sing. 

Words & Music by Kirk Talley

Gertrude Finnegan

Home Free

October 22, 2005



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Our trusty mini van has been in the shop.  Two weeks ago, on the way home from somewhere, it started to put out great volumes of cold air on the passenger’s side, while putting very warm air on driver’s side.  Unfortunately, the passenger was Our Girl Nettie, who is never quite warm enough, and the driver was none other than Yours Truly, who is always roasting in the car.  

Listen.  I tried.  I truly, truly did.  But the more I tried to aim the flow of air from my side towards OGN’s side, the colder she got and the warmer I got.  So I betook myself home with my slightly disgruntled passenger, and called our trusty repair shop.  They said to bring it in, they would work on it pretty much right away.  So, with the help of Certain Man, we got the van into the shop and when I asked how long it might be, they thought it would be simple.  Maybe a day or so.  Perhaps two or three.

They called me the next day and told me that it needed an $84.00 part, and that they had ordered it.  When it got there, they would get it on and it should be ready to go.

They called me a couple of days later to say that the part they thought they needed was part of a bigger part — a heating and cooling module that was all one piece.  When I heard “Cooling” and “Module” used in the same sentence, my heart sank down to my toes.  “That sounds expensive!”  I said.

“Um, yeah, well, it is a little pricey.”

“Like how much?”  

“It looks like it is going to be over $900.00,” he said, sadly.  “These things don’t come cheap.”

“Well, I need to talk to Mr. Yutzy,” I said.  “He’s been wanting to get a different van and with around 265,000 miles on it, I’m not sure he will want to put that kind of money into it.  Do you notice any other problems?”

“Nope!  She runs like a top.  She’s a good car!”  (Why are cars always a “she” and not a “He?”)

“Well, I’ll call Mr. Yutzy and someone will let you know.”

I got off the phone and called Certain Man.  He was not happy.  At all.

“Should’a bought that van that was beside the road up here at Frederica,” he said.  “Now it’s too late.  The guy just sold it.  We could have had it cheap.”  This was a very nice Town and Country van that had sat for months beside the road, and Daniel had watched the price come down and down and down.  Just when he was ready to swoop in and make a deal, someone bought it out from under him.  

“I was praying about that van, Daniel,” I said now.  “And I really do believe that if it was supposed to be ours, it would have not been sold.  God has something else for us, I’m sure.”

“Hon, I’m not convinced that you are right about that.  If people procrastinate and procrastinate and lose something because they waited too long, that’s not God’s fault.  That’s what happens when you don’t get on the ball and do what you ought to do.”  He was a little irritated.

I decided not to say anything else.  I was pretty sure that it must not have been for us or it would have waited.  I’ve seen God do that over and over for us, and it seems trifling to me to stop trusting him now. But I wasn’t the husband in this situation, and I wasn’t feeling the brunt of the reality of an old van with lots of miles needing almost a thousand dollars in repairs.

“So what are you going to do?”  I finally asked him.

“I’m gonna’ do what I have to do,” he said fiercely.  “I’m gonna’ fix it!  I can’t get anything for it if I don’t fix it, and we need it right now with the Sunday school kids and such.  I am going to get it fixed and then we can decide from there.”

So he called them and told them to order the part.  That was last Thursday.  They thought the part might come in on Friday and that we could certainly have the van back at least by Monday.  Well, Monday came and went.  As did Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Certain Man finally called to see what was happening, and they said they were expecting it any time now, and if we wanted to take the van, we could do that, and just bring it back.  This wasn’t quite acceptable to us because of the changes in the weather.

Friday.  I wasn’t feeling very charitable towards anyone.  I had been out of a van for almost two weeks and it didn’t seem look very hopeful.  But then midway through the day, a technician called and said that our van was finished, didn’t we want to come and get it?  Did we ever!  Certain Man had some errands to run, so he left me out at the door at Walls Service Center, and I went to pay.  Daniel left, and I exchanged some pleasantries, paid my bill, and then I was done.

I went out and got into the van.  I decided to run it straight through the car wash first thing because no one had even dusted it off.  It looked kinda messy on the inside, but at least it would look better on the outside for a few days.  As I headed off down the street, I leaned over and turned on the Air Conditioner.  This Autumn morning was gorgeous and the sun had made it really warm in the car.  I hadn’t gone a block until I noticed that the unit was not cooling.  A bit.  I turned it off, I turned it on.  I turned on the circulating fan.  I turned it off again.  I turned on the fan full blast, and adjusted where the air was coming out.  Nothing worked at all.  I drove another block and then decided that I should just go back and insist that they fix my “module” right.  I couldn’t stand the thought of some of my family feeling that they were going to freeze to death, and the rest of the car load being so warm they couldn’t see straight.

I looked for a good place to turn around, formulating in my mind what I was going to say to them — Not in a scolding way, but in a way that they would know I wasn’t happy that they hadn’t fixed my van correctly the first time.  I started to pull my van off to the side of the road.

. . . And then I saw it.  The temperature control was turned all the way to “HOT” and man, oh, man, was it ever working!  I quickly slid the controls back to the “blue” part of the gauge and Oh!  Sweet relief.  The air that was pouring out of the vents was pure and cool and so refreshing.  I decided that I didn’t need to go back, after all.  I ran the van through the car wash and headed down the road.

I was one happy gal.  It doesn’t matter that my van is old, it’s still my favorite vehicle to drive.  Now that it has been repaired, I’m hoping not to hear any more words that have to do with replacing “Old Faithful!”

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Autumn Leaves at Grandpa and Grammy’s house

The trees are turning around Shady Acres:



The Leaves are falling down.  Some of them are so pretty.



Tonight, Grammy was busy raking leaves.


I took lots of pictures of her raking the leaves.



Into a big pile.



For me.



For me to jump in!



Oh, how I love these lovely Autumn Days!




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Torre has been coming to Sunday school for probably seven months.  She first came as a tag along with two other children, Markie and Jasmine, but quickly got to be a regular in her own right.  She sometimes will speak up in sharing period, and knows no strangers.  She speaks of a deep and abiding interest in following Jesus.

She comes from a single parent family.  She lives with her dad, who loves her but doesn’t really know what to do with her.  Mostly he lets her do whatever she wants as long as she can get it for herself, or he can provide it.  He is THE ONLY parent among the three families whose children come to Sunday school who who is gainfully employed, and he is tho only parent who has ever provided transportation to church for a child who wanted to come.  He has even attended.  Once.

Beyond that “normalcy” Torre has almost no claims to any of the things that are so important to girlies who are about to turn 13.  My heart often aches for her, but I am also often amazed at her resiliency, her creativity and her open, generous heart.  I should add that her father has never asked for a single thing from the church. Not for food, not for heating fuel, not for clothing for Torre, not for money for electric, not for gas, not for school supplies, not for rides to appointments.  Nothing.  And Torre would literally give the shirt off her back if she thought someone needed it.  She is kind and does not retaliate, even when girls are mean, broadcasting her bed-wetting problem to relative strangers and not including her in activities.  

Saturday night, my phone rang.  It was Torre.  “Ms. Mary Ann, are you going to pick me up for church tomorrow?”

“Someone is coming for you, Torre.  I’m just not sure who because our van is in the shop.  Probably Mr. Daniel will be there.”

“Okay, that’s good.  I want to come.  I made something for you for your birthday!”

“You did?!?!  Oh, Torre, that’s exciting!”

“Yep, I made it all by myself and it is amazing!”

“Really!  That is wonderful!  All by yourself?”

“Yep, all by myself!”  She was so tickled with herself that she could hardly keep from telling all.

“I’ll look forward to that, Torre!”  We exchanged a few other small details that involved the other kids and who was coming and then we hung up.

Sunday morning, Torre showed up at church, proudly and carefully carrying her gift across the stones in our parking lot.  It was the nicest African scene, fashioned out of modeling clay, cardboard, paint and poster board.  She must have worked hours and hours on it.  She carefully detailed what each thing was, and told me something about what this was and why it was here, and this old lady, who has very little “crafty” in her bones was duly impressed.  

This doesn’t do it justice, but maybe you can get an idea.  Torre did everything herself, and I think it is really special.  I told Daniel that night that I really wonder what Torre could do with a manger scene if she had some modeling clay and someone encouraging her to try her hand at it.  I think I will see if she might try.  I could use another Manger scene, handmade by an exceptionally fine young lady that I am proud to call my friend.




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Muffy writes Ms. Mary Ann a note

When the kids first started to come to Sunday School, the sermon was almost more than they could sit through without disaster.  This was, I think the most difficult sacrifice for me.  I like to listen to the sermon.  I like to take notes.  I like to focus and internalize and I really don’t like to miss carefully crafted points.  A bench full of wiggly children, while I was so happy to have them, was a big change from our quiet pew.  To tell the truth, I guess I hadn’t thought about it carefully and I looked at this perpetual motion machine that was once our quiet bench and knew I had to do something.

So I hit upon the idea of “church boxes”  which are small portfolio-like containers that I put quiet things in — crayons, silly putty, stickers, notepads, Bible coloring books, and sometimes tape or a glue stick.  The boxes have evolved over the months — I used to put a church snack in there, but the rustling got to some of the other parishioners  so I stopped that.  And I took out the scissors at the request of our janitors.  (Both of these were valid points.  No angst on my part, for sure.)  One of the things the kids do is color pictures for Ms. MaryAnn, and they often write me notes.  Muffy, the seven year old, especially likes to write me notes because she knows that I will usually respond.  Yesterday in church, I got the following missive from her:


Dear ms. Mary ann
you look happy
today!  You look
nice today  You
are the best  you
are a Sinful
prsion   I have
a question for
You  When are you
going to do my
hair.  I love you 
Ms. Mary ann
  See you soon!
     to: Ms. Maryann
    from:  muffy


I know that I’m a sinful person, and I know my own wicked tendencies, but I wondered what brought this on.  She looked up at me with shining eyes, and I knew that she thought she had paid me a high compliment.  I smiled into her big brown eyes and she snuggled close beside me.  I took a piece of paper and quickly wrote a short answer to the hair issue, but avoided the sin question.

After church, I went to her Sunday School teacher with the note because I was almost certain there was something said in Sunday School that prompted this note.  I knew that Ilva ( hadn’t specifically called anyone “sinful” but I wondered what had  been said. 

After having a good chuckle together over it, Ilva turned thoughtful.  “Well,” she said, “Our lesson was about God being the only one who doesn’t sin.  We talked about the fact that everyone in the whole world sins, so that means we are all sinful . . .  I wonder if that is what she has reference to.”

I’m sure that is where she got the bright idea to write it in her note.  This morning, looking back, rereading her note, thinking again about being a “sinful prsion.”  And honestly, part of me wants to rise up in protest.  

But most of me knows that the only response of my heart (that is right) is to fall on my face before the one who paid the price for that sin, clothes me with His Righteousness, and washes this sinful heart as white as snow.

Sinful person?  Yes!  

But by the Grace of God, FORGIVEN.


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Church Camp and the Haunted Dorm

“This place is haunted, Ms. MaryAnn,” the children chorused as I went out to search for them after lunch on Sunday at Church Retreat.

“No, it isn’t,” I said indulgently.  “This is a church camp.  Jesus lives here.  This place is not haunted.”

I often wonder what sort of Boogey-man trash these children are fed because they are, every single one of them, pre-occupied with Leprechauns, Ghosts, Goblins and Haunted houses.

“Nuh-uh, Ms. MaryAnn, we were in that dorm and it’s for sure haunted!  We heard voices in there.”

“You weren’t supposed to be in the dorm, kids.  Why were you in the dorm?”  I looked at my troop, two boys and three girls as they tromped across the playground.  There was a scattering and a scurrying at that question, as the boys headed off quickly in another direction.

“But Ms. MaryAnn,” insisted one of the girls.  “It IS haunted!  Something terrible happened in there.  L.J. found a bloody knife on one of the beds!”

“No, he didn’t,” I asserted with great certainty.  “I know L.J., and I KNOW he didn’t find a bloody knife on one of the beds.”

“Ms. MaryAnn!  YES, HE DID!  He told me he did.  He threw it into the lake!”

“No, he did not!  I know L.J. and I know he didn’t find a bloody knife on the bed.”

“Yes, he did!” (This from several of the children.  And then I heard one or two say they had seen it.)

“Kids, listen to me.  L.J. did not find a bloody knife and throw it into the pond.  I know L.J..  If L.J. had found a bloody knife on the bed, he would have high-tailed it for one of us to show us his great find.  I know that he did not throw it into the pond.  It would have been too exciting for him to keep a secret.  He would have had to show it off.”

“Ms. MaryAnn, L.J. threw the knife in the lake because he was afraid that someone would think he had done something–“

“Yeah, he didn’t want to get into trouble — “

By now it was getting so funny, I could hardly keep from laughing.  All during this time, L.J. said NOTHING.  (Another really tell-tale sign of his guilt!)

“No, kids.  L.J. didn’t find a bloody knife on the bed and he didn’t throw it into the lake.  I KNOW he didn’t”

About now, his big sister had just about had enough.  “Ms. MaryAnn, L.J. DID see the knife and got rid of it.  Didn’t you, L.J.?”

“Um–” He looked about as if hoping some brilliant answer would rise up from the dry ground of the playground.  “Um– Uh– no.  I didn’t.”

Oh, boy, then they all acted like they were terribly mad with him for lying to them, hurling accusations and scuffing up leaves in his direction.  As it turned out, they all pretty much knew.  At least I got the “rest of the story.”

There (apparently) was a knife.  A butter knife, lying somewhere in the empty boys dorm at the Wesleyan Camp in Denton.

And it DID have something on it.

Yes, indeed.

And it WAS red(ish).

A little bit of rust.

And Ms. MaryAnn didn’t hear any more about the Haunted Boy’s Dorm.



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quiet days

This day hasn’t been at all the way I thought it would be.  I was supposed to take Nettie for a doctor’s appointment and then for blood work.  Monday is always laundry day, and there was a bed to wash and remake, lots of family laundry from the week and then the weekend at Church Camp, and stuff was still sitting around from where I had dropped it when I got in from Denton.  We had some company last evening, and I had gone to bed without unloading and reloading the dishwasher.  Cups and glasses and plates and bowls and containers of all sorts sat around on the cupboards.  It was a mess.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning.  My alarm had gone off around 5:15 and I luxuriated in the comfort of my smooth sheets and quilt before realizing that time was fast slipping away.  I gathered my stuff and came on downstairs to where Certain Man already had his cup of tea and was snoozing away on his recliner.  I shuffled around, feeling like a sloth, and changed the first load of laundry into the dryer, read my Bible, and finally got Cecilia up and on the potty while I made the bed and laid out her clothes.  Everything felt like a monumental effort.  I showered Cecilia and by then, Nettie was up and at’em.  Finally, Cecilia was dressed and at the breakfast table.

Then Certain Man came flying in from the chicken house, muttering about cross augers that weren’t working and tossing back over his shoulder, “Can you make me a sammich or something that I can eat on the way?  I’m outta’ time!”

So I pulled out my trusty iron skillet, made a scrambled egg and cheese sandwich and poured a tall glass of orange juice.  When he kissed me good-bye, he stopped abruptly.  “You don’t feel good, do you?” he asked, concern clouding his eyes.  That made me want to cry for sure, unfortunately. 

“No, I don’t,” I said, feeling suddenly worse.

“What do you have to do today?”  He asked.

“Well, I need to take Nettie to Dr. Coveleski’s by 8:30, then she needs blood work.  I have laundry, and this house needs my attention.  I’m just so tired and my tummy feels a little bit upset . . .  I’ll be alright.”

He was running really late, so he left then, and I began to think how I could simplify this day.  As soon as the doctor’s office was open, I called to see if I could reschedule Nettie’s appointment.  They acted happy to do that, and didn’t charge her any late cancellation fee.  Her blood work could safely wait a few more days and when her bus came, she happily got on and went to First State Senior Center.  Cecilia had left 45 minutes earlier, so I was finally alone.  I changed a washer again and climbed into my La-Z-Girl recliner and went fast asleep.  I dreamed strange and troubling dreams about shopping at Amish stores and having to go to the bathroom and not being able to climb the stairs out of the basements at Amish houses to get to the bathrooms.  It was incredibly frustrating.  Finally, I got awake and realized that I did, indeed, have to visit the restroom, so I got up, flew to the bathroom, then changed the washer again, folded and hung up the finished dryer load and got back on my chair.

I kept replaying the day before in my mind, thinking about my kids and wondering why I didn’t have more patience?  Why hadn’t I been more cheerful?  Why hadn’t I engaged them more in conversation individually?  Why hadn’t I planned more carefully?.  I had this lingering sad feeling and I just felt draggy and thick and colorless.  And my kitchen wasn’t cleaning itself, either, from the looks of things!

Then Friend Emma called and said that she was coming over.  I looked at this despicable house, and decided that I should at least work on my kitchen while we chatted.  I was still padding about in my house coat and  I decided that I was just going to stay that way.  If I didn’t have to go out, I was going to be comfortable.

While Emma was here with her sympathetic ear and loyal friendship, I stopped feeling quite so sad.  I made some headway on the kitchen, and kept after the laundry.  I stayed in my housecoat, though and just did what had to be done.  Before Emma headed out, she went upstairs with me and helped me to make up the bed, from the mattress up, and things always go better when there are two hands making beds!

And now, It’s evening.  The laundry is almost done, OGN and Cecilia had left over Chicken Corn Noodle soup for supper, things are settling down in the household.  I am still in my housecoat, still extremely sleepy, but I feel so thankful for this glorious, stay at home day.  I baked a butternut squash this afternoon, and methinks I just might make some pie.  It’s the season for pie.  Certain Man came in from the chilly outside and made a fire in the pellet stove and it is steadily burning.  

I’m so grateful for hearth and home.  For quiet days and Autumn scents.  For God’s mercy to me when I’m so undeserving and for the forgiveness of the people who love me.

T’is the season of Grateful Praise.  He is worthy.


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