Monthly Archives: January 2013

Late night Kitchen Meanderings . . .


I wish that I was sleeping.  But I got a late start on a couple of canners of chicken, and it’s gonna be a while before I get there.  I don’t especially like to can meat, but it is so handy to have on hand, and it is a good and quick dinner when there is unexpected company, or when time runs short to make something for the family.

I have always canned straight white meat — boneless, skinless tenders, straight from the processing plant.  I like using that for chicken salad or even casseroles.  But I married a man who likes dark meat, so I’m trying something different with this chicken.  I am filling my quart jars half full of white meat, and then finishing it off with dark, as in boneless, skinless thighs.  I wonder if it won’t make the meat more moist, and if the flavor won’t be better for quick soups or casseroles.  Maybe even better chicken salad.

I got 40 pounds of dark meat, and 40 pounds of white.  I am selling a ten pound bag out of each case, which leaves me with 60 pounds of meat.  If my calculations hold true, that will give me around 28 quarts of canned chicken.  I think that will last this family for a while.  And I won’t have to worry about a freezer going out.  That is a good feeling, too.

So now, one canner is finished, and the other is in its cooling down stage and 14 quarts are finished for tonight.  A few minutes ago, Certain Man betook himself to his bed, but I have a short wait before I can go.  Hopefully I can get the others done tomorrow.  All is quiet in the old farmhouse at Shady Acres.  I think I am going to go enjoy the solitude for a few more minutes.

Blessings, Dear Friends.  May you all sleep well!



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Today I had an inspection.  If a person is licensed with the state, and provides care for individuals under the Department of Disabilities Services, they must actually endure two yearly inspections.

But I haven’t had my heart in getting ready.  Much.  So “unmuch” so that today, Middle Daughter said to me, “Mom, am I missing something here?  We just aren’t in the usual ‘fantically getting ready’ mode that you usually are.”

I said, “I don’t know, Beebs.  I think I’m just tired of the whole thing.   I decided that they were coming to inspect our house as one of the very first ones and I decided that if I didn’t pass, I would just make them come back.”

We did do some important repair work to get ready.  Last night, Certain Man and I replaced some ceiling tiles in the ladies’ bedroom where there has been a troublesome leak.  We recently got the roof repaired, and thought the leak was (finally!) gone for good.  We think it is taken care of in the bedroom, but back in the closet, we had a wet ceiling tile last night, so there must be something still amiss.  I decided not to bring it up as long as the inspector didn’t say anything.  She didn’t, and I didn’t either, and I passed just fine, so that will give us some time to get it taken care of.

I used to spend weeks dreading the inspection, cleaning to within an inch of its life everything that I remotely thought might fall under the watchful eyes of those who came to find me out.  I remember one time that an inspector backed into the closet of a bedroom upstairs, and shone his ever present flashlight up into the corners all around in that dark place and announced, “There are cobwebs in here!” 

I was trying to stay out of his way, hovering on the stairway, and Certain Man was right behind me.  He wasn’t very happy at the pronouncement of cobwebs and he said, without any quietness to his voice at all, “Take those cobwebs and wrap them around his neck!”

I didn’t pass that inspection.  Wonder why?

But I did pass today, and that is what matters to me.  And I really didn’t do anything extra or special or frantic.  I guess they will allow me to keep my precious ladies for another period of time.  I have been a care provider for the State for over 28 years.  Sometimes I look at my life and how the dimensions have been expanded and enriched and changed and (sometimes) frustrated by the people that God has brought into our family’s life and I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to be a stay at home mama even while serving in a position that is so wrapped up in service to those who are unable to help themselves.  

Back in the early years of my experience, I often found myself at odds with those in authority over me over things such as clothing lists or spending records or medications or whatever.  And I still do not approve of many of the things that are required or encouraged or expected, but somewhere along the line, I came to understand that it was in the best interest of all concerned if I would save the “digging in of the heels” for things that really mattered.  And then, as time passed, I found that there were precious few things that really were worth a fight.

They want to teach Cecilia how to handle money?  Have at it!  (And good luck with that!)

They want Nettie to go on an excursion to Salisbury Zoo?  Fine!  I’ll do all I can to make easy for them to do it.

They want Cecilia to sign her Financial Records each month?  Sure!  Just know that I hold the hand that holds the pen while she blindly scribbles around somewhere in the area of the signature line.

And on and on and on . . .

So much of it is just foolishness, I know.  But so what?  If it gets my ladies what they need, and if it keeps the powers that be from coming in and going over everything with a fine tooth comb, I’m all for it.  I just decided that I wanted to be known for my cooperation and flexibility — while still getting what my ladies need even when it isn’t exactly what I want to do.

It feels good to have this behind me for another while.  During the summer, the state bureau of Licensing will send someone out to do another inspection, and that one has its own challenges.  There is little difference between the two as far as intensity, but my license hangs on that one — my contract on this.

And now, supper is over, and it’s time for some evening chores.  I would sorta’ like to just vegetate but there are things to be done.  My heart is full of so many things tonight, but there is much cause for Grateful Praise. 

And so, I offer here the sacrifice of a thankful heart.


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Eight Brothers, Five Cousins

We come from a family of eight brothers, daughters of five of those brothers.

One of us is the Youngest Child of the Oldest Brother


One of us is the Oldest Child of the Youngest Brother



The Tallest of us is the Daughter of the Tallest Brother.



And the Two of us who are Almost Twins are the Daughters of The Twin Brothers 


We share so much commonality.

-Men we love who are so, well, manly.

-Our bodies are changing on us.  We have aches and pains that remind us that the years have passed while we weren’t watching.  There are troublesome joints, an ankle brace, and three new knees among us.  And we have Gloria, whose healthy, fit example reminds us that we should have done differently, that we could have done differently — if only we WOULD have.

-Kids and grandkids, nieces and nephew, in-laws and family members that we love intensely and with intentional involvement in their lives.  We want to make a difference in the lives of the little people that God has brought into our lives, and we engage with, and bless, and sacrifice for them.  Oh, Lord Jesus, how very much we love these precious gifts in each of our lives.

But the common thing that brought us together this week for two unbelievably golden days in Williamsburg, VA, was our age.  Yepper!  Our age.  All five of us turned or will turn 60 years old within less than ten months of each other.  We had to celebrate.

And memories!  Ah, the memories. 

-Of fathers who loved us.  Daddies and a Papa who loved Jesus and their families and the church with unfailing loyalty and life commitments and service that spoke LIFE to not only their own lives, but ours, as well.  Their example has made the way HOME so plain to us.

-Of happy Childhood memories that make us laugh and make us cry and cause us to sit quiet with faraway looks in our eyes as we realize, humbly and gratefully, with pensive wonder, how very much we’ve been blessed.


We are five cousins.  We’ve rediscovered our friendship, our common life experiences, our ROOTS. 



We looked at the shirts of our fathers, and the other beloved uncles, touched the fabric that once touched our father’s skin.  I smelled long and deeply to see if the smell of my Daddy was there, but it was freshly laundered and there was no remnants of the smell that once spoke Mark Yoder to me.

But the fabric!  Woven fabric, worn thin, with a hint of the pastel green he so often wore.  I tore out the stitches and laid it flat, and it laid flat upon my heart, and I wanted to use it to wipe my tears.


Because of the eight brothers, my Daddy was THE BEST.



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When Mr. Yutzy pulled into the driveway on Tuesday evening, I don’t think home ever looked so good.  

It’s getting a little old, though.  I’ve been here ever since.  I’m inclined to think it is getting a little old for Mr. Yutzy, too. When he kissed me good-bye this morning, I said, “Hopefully only a few more days and I’ll be all better.”

“Well, hopefully,” he said without a shred of hope in that hopeful word.

I laughed at him, and said, “Well, that sounds confident!”

He looked a bit uncomfortable and muttered something about it being “five days that you’ve been sick!”

It has been a rough go round, and I’ve had days (and particularly, nights) when I wondered if I would get better.  In fact, Wednesday night, I was feeling so strange that I almost woke him up to tell him to “put me down cheap,” but then decided that it was the old Yoder Drama working overtime and thought better of it.  I can’t use up all my credibility over something as simple as a norovirus.

Which is what Middle Daughter, Hospice nurse, is sure this is.  I read the description in the newspaper and am inclined to agree.  So I’ve been trying the old tried and true remedies, and trying to stay hydrated, and getting lots of rest and making sure that the bathroom isn’t too far away at any given time.  I know, I know, TMI.

Sitting here in my beloved chair, sometimes skyping with my grandbaby (whom I miss passionately!) and trying to stay out of everybody’s way, I am comforted by an addition to our family room that has been a long time coming.  Those of you who visit often are very acquainted with our old wingback chairs that sit opposite the recliners in the family room.  We bought the two of them probably 20 years ago when Charlie Moore and Gertrude Finnegan were a part of our family.  Purchased through The Country Rest Home, they were supposed to be special geriatric chairs with waterproof, (albeit attractive) upholstery.  Charlie and Gertie were pleased as punch!  But Gertrude was a quiet “picker” and Charlie only knew one way to get into a chair, and that was to lunge and plop.  So, while we tried to discourage such behaviors, it wasn’t long until the fabric was very threadbare on the arms and the springs were in terrible shape.  Then Charlie passed away, and after some years had passed, we decided to reupholster both chairs in a different fabric.  I found an Amish upholsterer who had the perfect color (blue) in the nicest fabric, and he agreed to reupholster both chairs and fix the springs.  And only charge me $400.00 a piece.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why I EVER agreed to this.  I could have purchased new chairs for less than that.  Maybe I was tired of looking, or felt a need for Gertrude to have her “own chair” but whatever the reason, it was the route we took, and the chairs were beautiful.  Gertrude loved sitting in hers by the fire, and it could be said that the enjoyment she got out of her chair may have made it worth it.  

But we had another problem.  Some time after the chairs were reupholstered, a little cat came into our lives and it took only a few times of her slashing her paws over the front of our chairs for the fabric to be ruined.  (And for us to decide that if she was going to be a house cat, she would need to be declawed!)  It wasn’t too bad at first, but as the years passed, the holes got bigger and bigger.  And uglier and uglier.  Gertrude died in 2005, but she loved her chair to the end.  I felt an attachment to the chairs because she loved them so much, and one day, Middle Daughter took it upon herself to mend those chairs.  It turned out surprisingly well. After about a year or so, the first one she did came apart, but she got busy and fixed that and I thought we were set.

But more and more I found them to be uncomfortable and a few weeks ago, I looked over and saw a spring hanging out of the bottom.  “H-m-m-m-m-m,” I thought.  “This might be a problem that Oldest Son, the furniture man, could help me with.”  I mentioned it to him when he was home, and he said, “Just let me know.”  So I suddenly remembered last Friday and I texted him and asked him if there might be a set of chairs in Troyer’s Bargain Basement that would fill the bill.

“I don’t know, but I will look,” he said, “and let you know!”

He called me on Saturday evening with that lilt in his voice that always makes my heart sing!  He had found something!

“I don’t know, Momma, if this something you’ll like or not, but I found two small recliners, blue, in the bargain basement.  I think it would work . . .”

I asked him all about them, and got more and more pleased all the time.  They were the right color, swivel rocker recliners, a matching pair, something they rarely have in the bargain basement.  Of course, there was that important question, “How much–??”

“Well,” he said, and I could almost hear the delight in his voice, “we just ran a sale on recliners, and with my employee discount I can pretty much get you two for the price of one.  They are really good chairs!”

I was so excited.  He took us into the shop after we ate supper than night and I got a look at them.  I was tickled pink!!!  Yes, I did want them.  Very much so! 

Later that evening, I was telling Eldest Daughter, Sweet Mama, (or somebody!) about them and mentioned that they weren’t La-Z-boy.   

“What are they?” Queried the interested listener.

“Southern Comfort,” I said.  “It’s the kind they sell at Troyer’s –“

“Southern MOTION, Mom!”  Interrupted my amused Eldest Son from across the living room.  “Southern Comfort is whiskey, and I promise you aren’t getting that from me!”

“Oh,” I said, into the phone, properly chastised.  “Southern MOTION.”  And then across the room, “And I’m not wanting any whiskey from you!”

We brought them home, set them up, gave the others away to the first person who came and got them (Friend Emma did!) and I am just so happy with these.

 I look forward to lots of great conversations with friends around the fire in days to come.  Just give me a few more days.  I hope to be all better soon!



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Another tale

If you read my post from this afternoon, you know that we were out of electricity this morning.  Just to refresh your memory, here is what I wrote:

Around ten this morning, I heard a “pop” and the electric went off.  Our trusty farm generator started and I figured City of Milford would be along shortly.  At noon, I realized that the generator was still running, so I tried to call, and got all sorts of run around with “please leave a message and we will dispatch a vehicle immediately” sorts of things.  When I told Daniel about it, he wasn’t too pleased, especially after it was an hour later and I still hadn’t heard anything.  I tried again to call and got the same message.  I didn’t leave a message this time.  About 15 minutes later a very apologetic gal called saying that their phones had been all messed up and messages hadn’t been going to the right places, and she was going to send someone right out.  She did, and the electric was back on about 15 minutes later.  I don’t know what the problem was, maybe a transformer or something.  No one else was out in the neighborhood as far as I know.

The thing was, the truck was here an amazingly short time before the lights flickered, signaling that the electric was back on and the generator had entered its cooling down period.  I listened and heard the generator was still running, but in due time, it stopped, and Daniel said that was normal.  That the noise would continue about eight minutes following the return of power.  I was grateful that they fixed it so quickly, but I never did find out where they worked or what they did.

Daniel worked late tonight, but when he did get home and went out to do his chores, it was dark.  I was feeding supper when he came back in and stood in front of me with his hands in his parka pockets and that half grin on his face that tells me something interesting has happened on the farm we both enjoy so much.

“What’s up? I ask, interest piqued in spite of the rumblings in my tummy and my shaky limbs.

“Nobody said anything at all about why our electric was out.”  His sentence was more of a statement than a question.

“No, not a word.  The didn’t come in or leave an order or anything.  Why?”

“Because I found out why the electric was out and why it was just ours!”  His half grin and jutted jaw betrayed his enjoyment of dragging this out.

“What was it?”  I query, always playing into his game.

“It was a turkey buzzard!  Musta’ landed just right on the pole and fried himself.  It’s laying out there on the ground!”


“Yep!  Old turkey buzzard.  I can’t figure it out.  I don’t think I ever saw one sitting on that pole, but this one had to just put both feet at the right place and it was all over.”

“How did that make the electric go out?”

“Oh, it blew a breaker or a fuse or something.  As long as things shorted out up there, it would have done something.”

He went back outside to finish chores and got to thinking about that turkey buzzard lying out there on the ground when he got in for the night, I said, “Did you compost that turkey buzzard yet?”

“Nope.  Still laying out there.  Why?

“Well, I think it’s a good story.  I’d like to get a picture of it.”  He was game for that, so I found my camera, he grabbed his flashlight, and off we went.  

It’s a short distance to the generator shed, and sure enough, there was a black bump lying on the ground at the foot of the electric pole.  Daniel turned him over and suddenly said, “This isn’t a Turkey Buzzard!  It’s a Black Vulture!  Our Turkey Buzzards have a red head, but this one is solid black.  I’ve heard that they are moving into this area, but the closest that I thought I saw one was up near Hartly.”

Sure enough, we came in, got the trusty bird book out and it IS (or WAS) a black vulture.  They aren’t as big as Turkey Buzzards, and actually, not as ugly.  But buzzard or vulture, this one was very dead!

“That sure should be a lesson to him,” said Daniel with a glint in his eye.

“I’m sure you are right,” I agree.  “I really don’t think he will ever try that again!”

And up the pole, there is a new, white, big fuse on the side of the transformer.  I guess it wouldn’t have taken long to change it.

I’m so glad it’s all fixed and working.  They also came and repaired the pellet stove today, so that is working and is comforting and it seems a lot more home-like.

Did I mention that I am just so glad to be home?      



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dichotomy of life

Our trip to Ohio took an unexpected twist when we received word on Saturday morning that our beloved Aunt Lena (Mrs. Homer Beachy) passed away.  It was an incredible blessing to be able to be at both viewings and the funeral, to see friends we haven’t seen in many years — probably some that we haven’t seen since we moved away from Ohio over twenty-nine years ago.

An added blessing was that we were available to help Daniel’s mom, Sue, to attend the viewing on Monday afternoon as well as the funeral on Tuesday.  Sue lives in a nursing home in Columbus, Ohio, and I would like to give a SHOUT OUT to the United Bethel congregation at Plain City, Ohio, for the visits, their ongoing care for her and the way Jonas and Arlou Beachy, along with their children, Jamie and Clint, make Sue’s needs a priority in their lives.  But Arlou happened to be out of state this weekend, and so it was important that someone fill in for her.  Jamie would have done it, but we were there, and it worked out for us to do it.  I was so glad!  

Sue, having cared for her mom and Ralph’s mother at different periods in their lives, must have decided that she was never going to rock the boat when it comes to people caring for her.  As a result, she will almost never give an opinion about what she wants.  This is one thing that drives me crazy!  If she could just say she wants the blue dress instead of the green one — or that she would like the velcro shoes instead of the buckle ones, we could get ready so much faster.  Not being around her, we don’t really know what is best.  

But that is what she will say.  “Whatever you think is best.”  

By Tuesday morning, we found ways to help her state her opinion a little bit more, and she has good taste.  When she was walking out of her room, one of the orderlies paused in his rounds to say, “Sue!  You look really good!  In fact, you look great!”  I hope it pleased her as much as it pleased me.  I thought she really did look nice.  And we marched off to the funeral in style!

There was a most unfortunate happening this weekend, though.  I got sick.  

We had lots of stuff to do, and things went according to plans, but on Sunday night, comfy in the good bed in Raph and Gina’s spare room, I heard this whistling noise with each breath.  I didn’t feel tight, didn’t have the urge to cough, but the wheezing was distressing.  When I got to the store, I got some decongestant and thought it would be better, but I just felt “off” and wondered if I was getting sick.  We went down to Columbus on Monday morning, and went to the nursing home, got Sue dressed and combed and brought her out to the viewing.  We took her back in the late afternoon, hoping that she could get a good night’s rest and be able to enjoy the funeral the next day.  Daniel and I went back to the church for the evening viewing.  It was such a blessing to see the friends and relatives that we rarely (in some cases, NEVER!) get to see.  About the time the viewing ended, we left to meet our Rachel girl for some supper at a truck stop down on interstate 70 where it intersects U.S. Route 42.

I wasn’t feeling so bad when we got there — tired, maybe, and chilly, but halfway through the supper, I began feeling really, really terrible!  Shaky and shivery and achy and cold!  I hated to cut things short with Rachel, but all I could think about was getting home to our sweet bed at Greg and Valarie Chapman’s house in Plain City.  Daniel, bless him!  He was more than accommodating, concerned and encouraging, and we headed back to Plain City while my teeth chattered and the heater hummed.  Valarie made me some good peppermint tea, and it didn’t take me long to crash into my bed.  I lay there, miserable and sad, praying that I could feel better by morning.  I slept quite a bit, actually.  I vaguely remember Daniel coming up to bed and putting extra blankets on my side of the bed, and sleeping on the floor so he wouldn’t disturb me.

I was awake off and on all night, and every time I was awake, I would pray for healing.  I was supposed to share some personal reflections at the funeral, and it wasn’t something I would lightly entrust to someone else to read.  Along about two o’clock, I was sure that there was no way I was going to be able to do it, so I told the LORD that it was okay.  Daniel could read it, or the pastor could read it, but I wasn’t going to push it to be there when I felt so bad.  I went back to sleep, and when I got awake the next time, it was a whole new story.  I felt so much better!  Not completely well, but BETTER!  I decided that if I felt this much better, I could probably go along to get Mom/Sue dressed and be able to do my  responsibility at the funeral.

By the time I got up, I wasn’t feeling quite as good, but I took a shower, got dressed and felt vastly improved.  I wasn’t the least bit hungry, though, and declined any breakfast.  So we went into Columbus, got Mom ready, brought her out and went to the funeral.  I was able to give my reflections, and then, once the last “Amen” was said, we turned Mom over the watchful care of her niece, Alma Detweiler, visited with a few good friends, and we headed for home.

We weren’t on the way very long when I began to feel really rough.  I took my temp and it was 101.6.  It was easy for me to sleep, and Daniel encouraged me to sleep as much as I could. We made good time on the way home — stopping occasionally for short breaks, then back into the car.  We pulled into the driveway at Shady Acres at 8:40 pm.  Daniel set a record for travel in recent years with eight and a half hours.  I may have set a record for how many of those hours I slept. 

And now, today, I’ve set a record for how many things I was supposed to do and didn’t.  The school called.  Did I remember that I was to tell the story at elementary chapel this morning?  “Um. No.”  Dr. Riddle’s office called.  I had an appointment.  Did I forget? That would be “yes.”  I haven’t really been very cognizant of much of anything.  

Around ten this morning, I heard a “pop” and the electric went off.  Our trusty farm generator started and I figured City of Milford would be along shortly.  At noon, I realized that the generator was still running, so I tried to call, and got all sorts of run around with “please leave a message and we will dispatch a vehicle immediately” sorts of things.  When I told Daniel about it, he wasn’t too pleased, especially after it was an hour later and I still hadn’t heard anything.  I tried again to call and got the same message.  I didn’t leave a message this time.  About 15 minutes later a very apologetic gal called saying that their phones had been all messed up and messages hadn’t been going to the right places, and she was going to send someone right out.  She did, and the electric was back on about 15 minutes later.  I don’t know what the problem was, maybe a transformer or something.  No one else was out in the neighborhood as far as I know.

And so, I’ve sat on my chair, read, slept and taken medicine at intervals.  Finally ate a very small bowl of cheerios –which hasn’t come back up, but hasn’t really felt too good in my tummy.  As long as I have medicine in me, I don’t feel too bad, but as soon as it wears off, the fever goes right back up to over a hundred.  Which it is right now, so I am going to get off of here and see about getting something to make me more comfortable.

And I just want to say:  I think this all could have been averted if I hadn’t said that I almost never get sick.  Somehow, every time I feel a need to verbalize about my lack of catching things, I have cause to regret my audacity.

But I am going to try hard to get better.  No Small Group tonight, no Bible Study tomorrow morning, no case manager visit tomorrow afternoon.  We’ve tried to clear the decks of all activity. Rest and fluids and Ibuprofen. Oh, and if you thought you might come visit me?  Don’t.  Nobody needs this.  Even my family is keeping their distance.  I haven’t seen my grandbaby in almost a week, and that feels like serious deprivation.  But later tonight, I might skype with her and that will at least help a little.  

And there is cause for grateful praise.  We were able to go to the funeral.  We were able to help with Daniel’s Mom.  We came safely home.  And we ARE home.  So grateful.  So glad.



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And life goes on . . .

So . . .

Certain Man and I set forth from Shady Acres on a trip with some intentional missions.

The seats had been removed from our van so that we could put some furniture therein for Youngest Daughter’s first real “apartment” living situation in Cedarville.  A bed.  A small bookshelf.  A lamp.  A desk. A bicycle. A wash basket, filled with sundry and diverse useful items.  FOOD.  Blankets.  

And there was a gorgeous, new dress, softly blue and neatly sewn by sister in law, Ruby, for Mom Yutzy, who makes her home in Mayfair Village, a nursing home in Columbus.

And then there was Eldest Son and his Ohio Heart Trob, living in Sugarcreek, who pulled strongly on the heartstrings of Certain Man’s Wife.

So the trip was duly planned, and what a relief it was!  CMW was needing a break from the intensity of living at Shady Acres, which has included a whole lot of heartbreak and even a State Police interview in the last week.  Enough said about that, except to say that CMW eagerly looked forward to the time when she and The Man She Loves The Most could climb into their trusty old mini-van and head for central Ohio.  Plenteous indeed were the reliable people who volunteered to cover the home base and duties there.

It has been a glorious time!  We’ve accomplished most of our missions, and even had some adventures along the way — most of them have been positive.  Others –not so much.

But yesterday morning, heading towards Cedarville, my cell phone rang, and it was Certain Man’s cousin, Alma, with the news that “Homer Lena” (Beachy) had passed away.  “Aunt Lena” to both Certain Man and I, she and Homer, (Mom Yutzy’s oldest brother) had rented a little house to us when we were a young married couple.  In their little “carpenter shop turned house” that was just across the lane from their house, CM and I were first licensed as foster parents, weathered some really rocky times in our young marriage, and learned to know and love this couple who had life experiences that were rich and diverse with practical application and wise advice.  They had married when Homer was 40 and Lena was 36, had three children in fairly short order and were in the business of raising teenagers to be responsible adults when we took up residence in their little house.

Lena sewed and cooked and cleaned and managed to work outside the home some.  Homer worked at the Ranco plant and the kids delivered newspapers worked in the garden and mowed the lawn in the summer and shoveled snow in the winter, and in general were kept busy with little excuse for idleness.  Homer helped with the newspaper routes and put up with the puppies and kept a watchful eye on his kingdom.  The whole family were indulgently involved with our foster children as substitute grandparents and young aunts and an uncle.

How very much I loved Lena!  She mothered me and gave me advice.  She helped me with sewing and gave me tips on cooking and housekeeping.  She was older than my mother by eight years, and sometimes I would look at her and wonder where all the energy came from.  We lived in their side yard for almost two years, and then purchased the home place from CM’s parents in the spring of 1977 and moved our two precious foster children, Joseph and Salena, to a bright and beautiful house on the hill with plenty of room to run and play.  It was definitely a good move for us.  But I stood in that little house of Homer and Lena’s one last time before leaving, wondered at the unexpected tears and was startled when I realized for the first time that there is always grief with dismantling a home, no matter what the situation.  I most hated leaving the family across the drive that had become like our own.

One of the pluses of moving to the larger home was that we could be licensed for more foster children.  As soon as we were settled, Salena began saying to me, “Mommy.  Tell Mimi(our caseworker).  A baby sister that can’t walk yet!”  Over and over again, she would insist that I call call and remind them.  And on Monday, April 18, 1977, her fervent wish was granted when Christina came into our home.  That is a story in it’s own right, but something happened the following Sunday that could have changed the course of the life of our family forever.

Cousins, Robert and Joseph Yoder, along with my Uncle Jesse and Aunt Gladys, and cousin, Naomi, were in a terrible accident in Pennsylvania.  Uncle Jesse, Aunt Gladys and Naomi were seriously injured.  Robert and Joseph were killed instantly.  Numb with shock and disbelief, we made plans to make the trip to Delaware for the funeral.  There were letters to obtain from Child Protective Services for the three foster children, and calls to be made.  

And then came the bombshell.  Because Christina was on an emergency court order, she could not go out of state.  We begged for consideration, and the state felt that we needed to go to the funeral, but they would not budge.   We could take Joseph and Salena, but we could not take Christina along.

“She hasn’t been in your home that long,” said the case worker.  “We will just put her into another foster home.  Kids are resilient, she’ll adjust.  It’s not ideal, but it will be okay.”

OKAY???  No, it wasn’t okay.  We had had an intense six days of bonding with this precious, eight month old girlie, and we were unwilling to have her taken out of our home where she had started to settle and begun to thrive.  We agonized over the possibilities, but nothing seemed satisfactory.

And then Lena called me.  She and Homer already had a strong and loving relationship with Joseph and Salena and had met our newest family member.  I remember that her voice was quiet, determined and business-like, even as her sympathy was evident.

“Mary Ann,” she said, “You and Daniel are going to go to that funeral.  Homer and I have decided that we are going to come to your house and take care of Joseph and Salena and Christina so that you and Daniel can go.  We will come right there, so that the children won’t need to move out of the familiar.  Make your plans.  We are going to do this for you.”

Relief flooded me like a tangible river.  It was perfect.  Back in those days, caregivers for foster children only needed to be trusted family friends, and the state of Ohio was more than amendable to this solution.  I remember that Certain Man and I, Miriam Jantzi, and (Robert and Joseph’s brother) Jonathan’s girlfriend, Dawn Good, and one other person packed into a car one night after Certain Man got off from work, drove all night, went to the funeral, left that evening and drove back to Ohio.  It was a flying trip, packed with emotion, sadness, a sense of irretrievable loss and grief.  But we came home to find that everything was just as calm and orderly at home as it would have been if we had been there ourselves, and a foster placement was intact and thriving that proved to be pivotal in the life of our family.

I have always felt that Lena and Homer’s gift to us that dark day was bigger than any of us will ever know.  We had no way of knowing that Christina would be our forever girlie, that the day would come when she would become a Yutzy and that would literally change the entire tenor that defines our family.  It has been God’s incredible work in incomprehensible ways to countless people, and I am humbled to realize that it could have been so different.  Except for Lena.

There are other things about this couple that are almost as unbelievable.  How many people who marry at 40 and 36 get to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary?  Five years ago, when Homer was 90, we got to join in a celebration with them for this remarkable milestone.  Last year, on December 30th, Homer turned 95.  Lena would have been 92 on her next birthday in March.  Until just a few years ago, they still baked hundreds of loaves of bread a week for a local bakery.  Homer is hard of hearing, and Lena was forgetful, but they were still living in that same house that they had when we lived across the lane, 38 years ago.  Their oldest child and only son, Kevin, has lived with them.  Yesterday morning, it was he who thought she was showing some signs of a stroke, called 911, but before they could get her to the hospital, she was gone.

Once again, this family is making it so convenient for us.  Not intentionally, I know, but we were planning to return to Delaware on Monday.  When we heard of her passing, we wanted so much to stay for the funeral, but wondered when it would be.  We decided that if it wasn’t going to be until Wednesday, we almost couldn’t stay.  Certain Man has a flood in his chicken house, and there are responsibilities and appointments calling me.  But the viewing is tomorrow, the funeral is Tuesday at 10 o’clock in the morning.  We can attend, leave as soon as it is over, and be home on Tuesday evening, Lord willing.  

Add to this the fact that things are covered at home, Middle Daughter is willing for us to come home a day later than we planned and there are friends who offered to help out in whatever way they can.  This means so much to us.  It is special gift to us.  

My heart gives grateful praise.



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New Year’s Day

Tonight, around 6:20 or so, I finished reading my Favorite Book one more time.

Somewhere, as a young adult, I received the challenge to try to read through the Bible every year as a matter of course.  Just do it.

And so, years and years ago, I began to make that a given.  No one thing has been as life changing as that decision.  And most of the time, I’ve done it.  There have been a few years along the way when it didn’t get done, but I try not to get tangled up by what I didn’t get done.  It seemed important to just try again.  I’ve used various translations, various programs, but always, always, I keep an account of my progress. Usually I go into my Women’s Devotional Bible and copy off that schedule and use the empty space at the bottom of the fourth page to put my Bible promise for the year that I’ve been given in our annual Promise exchange at church. I put my reading schedule into the pages and use it for a bookmark.  And then I mark the passages as I read them, and often muse over the verse that becomes my motto for the year.

For the daily Bible readings, I use Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment Daily Bible in the New Century Version. ( NCV just happens to be my favorite version of all.)  It has a brief devotional every day from Max Lucado’s writings, and then has readings from the Old Testament, a brief reading from Psalms, and even briefer reading from Proverbs, and then a reading from the New Testament.  It has been the best schedule for me, and I use a cheap paperback edition and I write in it and put dates in it with significant events that I’ve been inspired to think about by the passages for the day. There is a very old falling apart copy that sits by my chair and a newer one by my bed upstairs and this Word from a Holy God who has chosen to redeem this gal with feet of clay and made me a daughter of the KING, continues to be LIFE and LIGHT and HOPE to me.

2013 stretches ahead with so many exciting possibilities and dismal predictions.  This Book, God’s Word, should be our Center of reference.  

Does anyone want to join me?  



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