Monthly Archives: November 2012

Yesterday, the mom of some of our kids asked for money to pay the electric bill.

“Can u help us with elec till the 3rd will pay bck” she texted.  “i will sighn that i will pay bck. Please.”

There has been two years of paying bills for this family.  Some out of our church’s Benevolence fund, some personal.  Certain Man has asked me not to give her any more money, church or personal.  I’ve been telling her this for at least three months.  She keeps asking.  There are always extenuating circumstances.  But there are also things that trouble me exceedingly — several new tattoos, expensive “lie” magazines in the grocery bags that she borrowed money to pay for with the promise of paying back — but she never did.  That “signing” bit was something I decided to do the last time when I loaned her $100.00 from the church and $70 of my own.  She signed to return the churches money and paid it back.  She never pretended that she was going to pay back the $70.

Next month is Christmas.  She is already trying to borrow money for last month’s electric bill.  I know she won’t have the money for next month’s bill.  And Christmas is coming up.  The chances of her paying back anything she borrows is zilch.  I know.  I’ve been there. 

And so, I prayed and thought, talked to Certain Man and prayed some more.  I felt strongly that God wanted me to be a woman of my word.  I had told her there would be no more money.  It was time for me to be steadfast here and honor my word.  I sent back a text, tried to word things gently, but said “no.”

She never responded with a single word.

It’s cold in Delaware this morning.  The kind of damp that goes right through you.  Drizzle is making things seem even more dismal.  

Yesterday was the day for turning off electricity.  

I wonder if “my kids” are okay this morning.  

I wonder if it is dark and cold at their house.  

I wonder if they wonder why Ms. Mary Ann and Mr. Daniel didn’t come through for them.  

I wonder if I did the right thing.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  When I’ve done the best I know, and it still feels so wrong, could you please bring good into the lives of this family that will be for eternal gain?  Soften hearts, bring responsibility and discipline into the lives of these parents before it is forever too late.  May Jesus be given His place in this family, yes, but especially in the hearts of those who love you and seek to be Jesus to this situation.  How desperately I need wisdom!  How small my boat, how large and turbulent the sea!  Speak peace to these waves that drench my soul with sadness.  And please, protect the children.  May your presence be a guiding light in the darkness with which they are forced to live.”

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  The children!”



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And the WINNER is . . .

Entry # 14 — From sep1:

Tea and trouble brewing….
I know I could relate……
If my name is not the one chosen,
for the copy of the book,
I shall search the local library,
(hopefully finding the book!?)
then nestle in a nook, 

and then all cozied up….with my tea,
I shall enjoy my “date”.

This gal happens to be my second cousin, (though we’ve not done much connecting from that connection surprised).
 My grandma, Savilla Bender Yoder, (1889 – 1968)
was Val and Caroline(Gingerich) Bender’s oldest child.  
Sherry’s grandma, Pauline Bender Beachy (1909-1969)
was their youngest biological child that lived.  
The picture shows Sherry and her husband, Shawn,
at my nephew’s wedding
(when Tim Yoder married Diana Geiser–HAPPY DAY!!!).

Congratulations, Sherry!  
I’m sure that you will enjoy the read!   

And for this, the 26th day of November,
I sure am thankful for an Oregon Mama who has written a book that inspires and comforts us and has provided this fun, fun way of connecting with so many people!  This is a thank you to Dorcas Smucker and her blog tour for an exciting four-day adventure.

And to the rest of you — Better luck next time!


 – Because I liked this giveaway.  I just might do it again.



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It was back in the late 1970’s when a group of young women were meeting for a weekly Bible study/support group that I first got the inkling that there was a whole lot more to tea than meets the tongue. Marilyn Showalter put a battered old teapot in the middle of the kitchen table and slapped a yellow, strange, sleeve-looking thing down over it.  At my questioning look she said, “That’s a tea ‘cozy.’  It helps to keep the tea warm.  Everybody in Red Lake uses them.”  That teapot with its cozy became very familiar to the little group as we slugged through the challenges of marriage, motherhood, and life as it was for young Mennonite women in Central Ohio in those days.

Dorcas Smucker had her own education about cozies and teapots and methods while living as a young married woman among the Native Americans in Canada.  She traces the history of her love affair with the “perfect” cup of tea in the pages of her latest book, Tea and Trouble Brewing.

Dorcas Smucker.  This is the fourth book that she has written, and it is another well written, delightfully honest, and captivating collection of stories from the farmhouse in Rural Oregon where a Mennonite Mama seeks to maintain her sanity while she raises six intelligent, energetic, diverse and impulsively creative offspring.  She is never silent about the steadying role that her husband plays in this ongoing drama of life’s commonality — love, work, education, humor (and trouble — let’s not forget Trouble!) and the team that is “Paul and Dorcas” gives me hope and courage because of how candidly Dorcas relates the tales of family living.

When I was telling a friend that I was going to review this book as part of a “Blog Tour” she encouraged me to not read any of the other entries before writing my own.  “That way,” she said wisely, “you won’t be influenced by what other people say!”  That sounded like solid advice, and I would have followed it — if I could have.  And I did hold out until last night, then I frantically went to every site to see what other people had written.  It helped me so much from a number of stand points.

For one thing, it showed the diversity of appeal that Dorcas has.  I’m a Mennonite Mama — I’ve LIVED these stories in many forms over almost four decades of marriage.  I laughed and cried and sat quiet in my chair with memories falling all around my heart in both shining and broken pieces while I read Dorcas’ stories.  But reading the reviews reminded me that it isn’t the “Mennonite” or the “Mama” that makes this book so interesting to me.  It’s the transparency that Dorcas offers us, inviting us to walk with her through the everyday unexpected and the unwanted bumps in the road; the less than perfect responses and the relentless call to something better; the exquisite joys and equally cutting disappointments of relationships and family living and pets and finances.

I also realized that there is only so many ways on a blog to do a giveaway.  So we will make this simple.  If you want to win a copy of Dorcas’ book, Tea and Trouble Brewing, leave me a comment, and on Monday, I will pick someone (probably by a totally unbiased method) and send that particular person a SIGNED copy of the same.

(I also found out something else:  SUE BEACHY KAUFFMAN,  don’t even THINK I’m going to give you a book if you win.  You already won one.  So there!)

Of course, if you are like me, and almost never win anything in giveaways such as this and you want to circumvent chance, you can purchase the book directly from Dorcas by mailing her a check for $15 per book, which includes postage.  The address is:

31148 Substation Drive
Harrisburg, OR 97446

Or, if you prefer, on Amazon by credit card on the following link:

Dorcas’ other three books; Ordinary Days, Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting; and Downstairs the Queen is Knitting, are also available for some great entertainment with your perfect cup of tea. Read all about it in this particular blog of Dorcas’.



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More Daily Thanks . . .

For November 17th —     a great group of young people who fairly demolished that 29 pound turkey, ate mashed potatoes, gravy, lima beans, corn, tossed salad, peanut butter pie, vanilla crumb pie, ice cream, homemade bread, butter and jam with gusto and much complimenting.  Ah, me.  Is there anything as wonderful as appreciative guest around a big old table, eating like they enjoy every minute.

And that turkey!  Oh, that turkey.  It proved good on its reputation and turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself.  The only problem is.  I happen to like traditional tasting turkey and this just wasn’t quite that way — more like a smoked turkey, and it WAS really good.  Just not traditional.  And for an old stick in the mud like me, that matters!

Anyhow, here are some pictures from the carving, and these are the only pictures I have from the day:



How good it was!


Since Daniel does the carving at this house, (and does it well!!!) the following poem is not one that really applies.  However, Sweet Mama’s youngest brother, Lloyd Wert, would regal us with this poem when we were youngsters and we LOVED it.  I have wanted a copy for years, and finally found it tonight.  It is priceless.  Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did all those many years ago.


When Father Carved the Turk

Ma always did the carving in the old days on the farm
When roasted bird at meals occurred she’d slice it to a charm;
But last Thanksgiving Father said, when Ma was carving ducks,
Her cooking, though ’twas passable, she couldn’t carve for shucks.
Dad said agen, he noticed when a chicken came on deck,
Though all the rest got legs or breast, he always got the neck;
Henceforth he’d wield the knife himself, and now I’ll go to work,
Events I’ll trace, tell what took place when Father carved the “turk.”

Christmas mighty soon rolled round, and Dick and me and Sue
Had fixed a little game on Pop, and Ma was in it, too – 
We had a turkey on the farm, I’d heard Dad oft remark
He’d pledge his word that very bird came out of Noah’s ark.
We chloroformed the gobbler, and though for hours we tried,
No ax or gun (we tried a ton) would penetrate his hide. 
When in the oven birdie went Mom whispered, with a smirk,
There’ll be some fun for every one when Father carves the “turk.”

‘Twas Christmas day, the table gay with fixings for the feast,
And ev’ry guest dressed in his best, a score of them at least; 
A hungry horde sat round the board as Dad took up his knife,
All sharpened like a razor, for the battle of his life. 
Hushed was the din as Ma brought in the gobbler, brown and slick-
Mom winked at me, I winked at Sue and Sue she winked at Dick;
All bowed their heads as grace was said by Reverend Joseph Burke,
Then still as death we held our breath while Father carved the “turk.”

Dad shed his coat and bared his throat, and then he butted in,
The gobbler’s hide to cut he tried, but couldn’t pierce the skin ;
Its breast he jabbed, its neck he stabbed, and gave it such a slap
It went right swish clean off the dish and flopped in Sal Smith’s lap.
‘Twas soon put back, again Dad hacked; oh, things were going some!
When Dad’s knife slipped and off it whipped the top of Father’s thumb;
Dad stomped the floor, and strange oaths swore, while Reverend Mr. Burke
Begged Heaven, in prayer, our lives to spare while Father carved the “turk.”

We fixed the old man’s damaged thumb, then Dad, sad to relate,
Upon the table knelt and chased the turkey round the plate;
One knee was on the gobbler’s breast, the other in the pie,
While gravy flew on me and Sue and hit the ceiling high,
We ducked beneath the table, ’twas the safest place to go,
While Pop was wrestling up on deck we breathed a prayer below;
Then came a crash, an awful smash; in my brain long ’twill lurk;
That deafening roar, when on the floor, went Father and the “turk.”

We scrambled out and picked Dad up; you should have seen him prance –
The carving knife lodged in his shoe, the fork stuck in his pants,
His face was smeared with grease, his beard and whiskers full of pie,
Ere he could see Ma dug out three potatoes from his eye.
Then old “Doc” Jupp patched father up, and said ’twas very plain
He’d turkeyitis of the pants and gravy on the brain-
Another gobbler soon was cooked and each one went to work,
And ate, you bet, but don’t forget ’twas Mother carved the “turk.”



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Miles driven, Forgiveness, Thursday blessings, Migraines and Cracker Barrel

For November 14th — So very grateful for a safe trip to Baltimore with our Sweet Mama. Daniel drove, and I don’t know what I would have ever done if I had needed to drive to Union Memorial Hospital during rush hour traffic. I am just so thankful that Daniel took the day off from work, and cheerfully put up with all the whims and wishes of his wife and mother in law.

Also for the 14th — I am grateful for forgiveness granted when I so desperately needed it. And I am grateful for a Bible Study lesson that did not let me off the hook with my many excuses for why I did what I did. (Oh, Lord Jesus! Will I ever learn to button my lip when I am tired, irritated or just plain giving in to my sinful heart?)

15th — I am grateful for the gals who gather on Thursday morning. They love Jesus, their husbands, their kids, each other (and some days not in that order!) but want to be women who make a difference in their world. I look into their faces and am more than a little in awe of the differing worlds in which they operate, their extended circles of influence and thank God for the opportunity I have to know each one of them. I love you gals! And each one of the children have their own special place in my heart. What incredible gifts!

16th — I woke up with a migraine this morning. It’s probably been three years since I’ve had a headache like this one. I shuffled downstairs at 5:30 to a husband who was putting away a table that we had used for crafts for the kids in Bible Study yesterday. He insisted that I take some medicine and spend some time on my chair before trying to start the day. This may seem trivial to some of you, but having that big table out of my kitchen was a big relief to me. His kindness and care for me comforted me even as I struggled to keep head up and tummy down. And then a half hour later, the meds were helping enough to get Blind Linda up and showered and dressed and fed, and Our Girl Audrey up and out the door for blood work. And then my beloved sisters, Alma, Sarah, and our Sweet Mama, and SIL, Polly and I went to Cracker Barrel for lunch in honor of Polly’s birthday this week, and my birthday last month. It was a special, special time. I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened, and it was like a breath of fresh air to my heart — that is carrying some heavy burdens right now on a number of fronts. And then I came home and my good friend, Ruby Donophan was finishing up some windows that desperately needed washing, and everything was so clean and bright.

And so, tonight I give thanks for a husband who provides, forgives, encourages, understands, and loves me. For my sisters and my Sweet Mama, and my sister in law. For Cracker Barrel, and their wonderful half-price sales. For sparkling clean windows, clean, starched and ironed curtains, back where they belong. For people who understand when there are things I cannot say, and for a place to go with the things that trouble me; to know that there is a place of quiet rest.

My heart gives grateful praise.



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Tender Quick, big fat turkeys and the Land of “Somebody help the poor girl!”

It’s all Ruthie’s fault. And Christina’s.

We were at Certain Man’s sister, Ruth and her husband, Andrew’s house almost two months ago.  On Sunday morning, while we were getting ready for church, their youngest daughter, Charity, was responsible for lunch preparations.  Ruthie sent her out to the garage refrigerator for “the chicken” that was to be put into the oven.  Charity brought in the most naked chicken you would ever want to see.  It was all big and white and just plain ordinary.  She put it into a roaster that just a little bit bigger than the chicken was, and then Ruthie said, “Put a half a cup of water on it, put the lid on it and put it into the oven until we go at 350 and then turn it back to 275 for while we are in church.”

Now I was watching out of the corner of my eye to see what else they were going to do with it.  And that was exactly NOTHING.  Charity poured a half a cup of water on that chicken, plopped the lid on top and shoved it into the oven.  No seasoning, no nothing.  Just that naked chicken in a pot.  I felt sorry for it.  Well, maybe I felt sorry for US.  Sure did wonder what was going to happen when we got home.

We went to church, had the usual service for that area of the country, visited with old friends, talked to some new ones, and then it was time to come home.  We walked into the back door at Andrew’s house to the most unbelievably delectable smell you could imagine.  It smelled just plain wonderful!  We all helped to set the table and the food around, and that chicken– THAT CHICKEN!!! It was falling off the bone, tender, juicy, and tasted like it had been tenderly smoked over a hickory fire for hours.  There were ten of us around that table and that one roaster chicken fed us all, not only adequately, but thoroughly.

Sitting around the table we got to talking about the chicken, and somehow, there mention made of a “brine” or of a recipe, or of a particular Farmhouse Cookbook that every cook should have, and eventually, someone got around to mentioning that this wonderful chicken that we had all enjoyed had been soaked in a brine that was made from a recipe in this particular cookbook.  Ruthie said that they had put it into the brine on Wednesday, drained it off on Saturday, threw it all solitary into the pot and cooked it on Sunday.  I was all ears.  And all about obtaining this recipe.  And all about finding out where I could buy the cookbook.  I was really, (really!) interested in trying this method at my own house on some hapless victims.

And so, before leaving New York, I went to a store owned by a group of Horning Mennonites close to where another one of Certain Man’s sisters lives (Rachel), and found a Farmhouse Cookbook.  Finding the right recipe was an exercise in wit and wonders, but finally I found the right one and discovered that the magic ingredient was something called “Tender Quick” that is manufactured by Morton.  Only I had not ever seen any before. (Not that I had any occasion to want to see any before, but I digress.)  However, I did think that if this store sold the Farmhouse Cookbook, it just MIGHT sell the Tender Quick.  I hunted up and down the aisle until I spied it.  They really did have it!  So I bought a bag that weighed a pound and and I bought the cookbook, and almost couldn’t wait to try it.

Life goes on, I’ve come to notice, and there just didn’t seem to be a good opportunity to try out my wonderful recipe.  There were several times when I thought that if I had only thawed out a roaster, it would be a good choice for a meal, but it never materialized.  Suddenly, the holiday season was almost upon us, and I still hadn’t tried it.

But then it came to pass that I was going to have some people for lunch later this week, and I thought and thought about what to fix.  Eldest Daughter was complaining that the fact that there was a surplus of turkeys in her freezer, so the other day, I broached with her the subject about maybe using one of her turkeys and trying out this new procedure.  Now these turkeys were gifts from Burris Foods to their employees for faithful service, given out at holidays and I had heard Jesse saying that he had rummaged through the pile for one of the smaller ones.  So, since this wasn’t to be that big a meal, I wondered aloud to Christina if she thought we could use one of those turkeys.  She was eager to donate to the cause.  I asked her to get it out at the end of last week so it would have a chance to thaw safely, and she and Beloved Son in Law were agreeable to it.  However, because of some shortage of refrigerator space, they asked on Saturday if they could bring it down to our garage fridge.  BSIL and Love Bug came in here on Saturday afternoon toting a turkey so big I did a double take.

“What in the world?!?!  That is some turkey!” I finally managed to say.

“Yep, it’s a big one,” said Jesse as he struggled to lift it up onto the cupboard.  I noticed that it was no easy feat.

“How much does it weigh?”  I queried, dubiously

“I don’t know,” said Jesse cheerfully.  “I tried to find out, but it doesn’t seem to be on there anywhere.”

I got ahold of neck of the big mesh bag then, and drug it over to the scales in the laundry room, plopped it down on top and steadied it.  A whopping 29 pounds of frozen turkey.

What am I going to do with a 29 pound turkey???

Well, I got it thawed, and I mixed the brine and I put it into it tonight.  I’m supposed to go out there every day and turn the turkey.  But now, after doing all this, and having things moving, I’m reading all sorts of information, and it sounds like I maybe shouldn’t marinate it in the brine for more than 24 hours.  Ruthie said 72.  It sounds like I could have gotten by with a lot less Tenderquick, but I made things the way the recipe in the Farmhouse Cookbook says to make it.  One of the sites says to be careful how much tenderquick you put in, or it might be too salty.  I put in three cups of tenderquick for at least 40 cups of water.  I think what the recipe calls for is 1 cup of tenderquick to 10 cups of water.

I am really feeling a bit anxious here.  What if the brine is too salty?  Or not salty enough?  What it the turkey shouldn’t be in the brine for three days?  What if 24 hours is all it should be?  What if my company doesn’t like it?  What if it doesn’t taste the same and I don’t like it?

And for pity’s sake!  What am I gonna do with all them thar leftovers???

Well, for one thing, on this, day 13 of being thankful, here is something for which I am truly thankful.  I’m thankful for the high-carb diets that some of my family are on right now and their promise to take the leftover turkey off my hands.  

And I’m glad for Certain Man’s strong arms that have helped to lug that lummox of a turkey in its salty brine to the garage refrigerator to await the roasting pan.

Keep tuned for the next chapter.  

But if this doesn’t turn out okay, it’s all Ruthie’s fault.  For making this all sound so simple, and serving that wonderful chicken.

And Christina’s.  For sending me that big old gobbler.

And yet, my heart gives grateful praise. 



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pie crusts and laundry and a grandbaby’s visit

Day 12–

It was a long and busy day.  It started with oversleeping to the point that Blind Linda didn’t have time for her morning routine before the bus.    Flying around here and then making the DART bus wait just didn’t seem feasible.  So I rather figuratively hid out in the house and Certain Man told the bus driver that the trip had been cancelled.  I will hear about it tomorrow, but that’s okay.  I told the truth.  I overslept.  And that felt so good!

Monday has its routines at Shady Acres, and this day held the usual laundry and digging out from the weekend.  I always need a day to catch up, and to get my routines somewhat back in order.  That is what good Mennonite homemakers do, I guess.  Certain Man was home because of Veterans Day, as was Our Girl Audrey, but Linda could have gone to Center if I had, well, you know.  Gotten up in time.

Certain Man got out his leaf blower and moved a monumental amount of leaves — from off the driveway, the decks, and even part of the lawn.  He is talking about hiring someone to do the rest of the leaf removal, but we haven’t reached an agreement on that yet.  I just know that it is too big a job for him, and because of the amount of leaves, it really should be done.  We shall see.

This evening, Charis came to brighten my evening for a time.  She was in rare form, with some busy fingers and a lively little discussion going.  We decided that we were going to mix up and roll out some pie crust for the freezer for the busy weeks ahead.  I had a little more “help” than was beneficial at times, but we did accomplish our mission and there are seven pie crusts in the freezer tonight in anticipation of the coming holidays.  I always feel better when there is a “pie crust cushion” stashed away ahead of time.  Our Grandbaby’s  Daddy and Mama came to pick her and she squalled and protested and wept, but they prevailed and toted her home amidst great noise.  

And then I finished up the laundry, put ladies to bed, cleaned up the kitchen and swept the floor, and thought about the fact that I hadn’t posted my grateful praise for this twelfth day of November.  So here goes:

I’m thankful for the ability to interact with my grandbaby.  When Charis was a newborn, my knees were so bad that I couldn’t stand up while holding her.  It took both of my arms to push off the chairs of a given seat if I were to stand up.  I remember saying, “I don’t want to just be a sit on the chair and read stories grandma.  I want to do be able to do things with her, to run a little bit if I need to, to be interested and active and even throw a ball or chase her.”  God has so graciously answered that prayer.

My husband had a meeting today that he was dreading on the poultry industry front.  He desperately wanted to stay home, but was very much “encouraged” to attend.  He came home, glad that he went, having won a nice jacket as a door prize, having learned some helpful things, and having some positive exchanges with some of the powers that be and even getting two credits towards his ongoing Nutrient Management education requirements.  A man who has a better than expected time at such gatherings is a a lot more fun than one who comes home feeling like it was a waste of time.  My heart gives more grateful praise.

For a good day, for pie crusts in the freezer, for laundry done, for appointments kept.  Lord Jesus, for these I am truly grateful.



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