Monthly Archives: August 2013

Exercise for a Reluctant Heart

This morning in the bean patch, it was easy to feel like complaining.  It was muggy, and the flies were biting and leaving blotches of blood on my ankles.  I searched about the leaves and on the vines and the pickins were slim in comparison to other years.  The stink bugs had laid eggs on some of the beans and the wasps and the bumblebees droned about.

Sometimes when I’m in the bean patch, I find it helps to sing, and often, because I cannot think of what to sing next, I start with the alphabet and try to sing a song for each letter.

A — All Thing Bright and Beautiful

B — Be Still and Know

C — Come, Ye Disconsolate

D — Dare to be a Daniel

E — Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before

F — Follow the Path of Jesus

G — Going Down for the Last Time (That’s how you found me, Lord)

H — Heaven will surely be worth it all

I — I Owe the Lord a Morning Song.

And “I” always gets me.  If there is any song that I remember us singing as a family in family worship, it was this song.  So much so that I remember every word of every verse and am able to sing it (if the tears don’t choke it out, that is).  I think it must have been one of my Daddy’s favorite songs, his strong tenor would swoop and soar over our childish voices and Mama’s clear soprano.  When I look at when it was written, and by whom, I realize that it was one of the “newer songs” of the church in my Daddy’s youth, written by a Mennonite minister, Amos Forrer Herr, one Sunday morning when the snow was too deep for his horse to make it to church.

It’s a good song for the bean patch on a morning in August when you are running a race against the rain.  It makes the memories brighter, the load lighter, the job seem shorter, and the heart glad.

The next time you have a job that you don’t feel like doing, try this little exercise — with your own songs, of course.

It will help.  I promise.  Almost every single thing except maybe those biting flies.

You can use insect repellent for that,

The songs are good for the rest of what ails you.

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August 29, 2013 · 3:19 am

” . . . That shadows fall on Brightest Hours”

This weekend was the kind of stuff that the best of memories are made of.  All the offspringin’s home, and the four grandchildren.  This Mama/Grammy was at the height of happiness.

Before the light dawned on Friday morning, everyone was in Delaware.  There were twelve bodies sleeping in the nooks and crannies of the old farmhouse.  Middle Daughter had offered to make English Breakfast for the family and I slept solidly for the four hours that I was able to snatch after the last conversation was done and Cecilia and Nettie needed to get up for center.

There are always so many things that demand attention when a family is together, but this Grammy has been looking forward for many a day to having all four of the grandchildren together and going outside to play.  It didn’t take too long on this gorgeous Friday morning to gather them up and take them out to the blacktop circle where they could ride their trikes and various wheeled toys to their hearts’ content.  We took a long golf cart ride, and looked at all sorts of things around the back pasture.  Four children, age four and under, are wonderful companions for a grammy on a nature ride on a cool morning in August in Delaware, and the conversations were to be cherished.

We came back up to the house, and the boys and Charis were busily riding around and around the circle.  We have some specific rules in place at this house, and the one that I am not in the habit of bending (ever!) is that they may not go beyond the front walk in the driveway.  However, for these children, ages 4, 3, 2, and 1, the rule was different.  They had to stay in the circle area.  I was keeper of the lane and watcher of the children.  We were having a wonderful time.

But then I noticed that Liam, the two year old, had started to stray towards the lane.  I was probably twenty feet away and I said in a calm voice, “Liam-honey, stay here with Grammy.  You can’t go to the road.  You might get hurt.”

He put it in high gear and headed straight for the road.  I started in his direction.

“Liam!  Stop!  You cannot go to the road.”  I might as well have been talking to a post.  This little guy really put it into gear.  He was riding a very free wheeling little tractor that was powered by pushing off the ground with his feet.  He was exactly the right size.  With each push of his powerful little legs, the toy was traveling an unbelievable distance.  I started to run.  It became obvious that he was not going to stop.  I began screaming at the top of my lungs.

“Liam!!!  Stop!!!  You are going to get killed!!!  Stop!!!  Liam!!!  Stop NOW!!!”  I screamed and ran and screamed and ran.  Every time I almost got a grasp on him, he gave another shove and flew another ten feet.  There were no appendages on this little toy to grab.  Down the lane we went, little guy laughing like it was a big joke.  Grammy desperate and frantic and so, so scared, running as fast as her two replaced knees and almost 60 year old body could manage.

He never broke his stride for a second, out past the end of the fence,  and straight onto the road.  A car passed on the other side just as he got to the road, and he plowed on.  I was so traumatized I couldn’t think straight.  The way our lane is ordered, people coming down the road cannot see anything coming out until they are beyond the fence with the rose hedge going out to the road.  I barely even looked to see if anything was coming, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a car at our neighbor’s house two doors down with two more cars behind it.  I dashed out onto the road and grabbed the little guy and tried to pull him and the toy off the road.  He started to resist, and I picked his sturdy little body up, threw it under one arm grabbed the toy with the other and flew out of harm’s way.

I was so distraught and upset that I didn’t even look to see who had brought their car to a complete stop on the road.  I couldn’t bear to look at them.  I have wished a thousand times since that I would have gone and hugged them and thanked them and offered to do something for them in sincere gratitude, but I just couldn’t think.  My knees would scarcely function, and my heart was going two hundred beats a minute.  I carried him rather unceremoniously under my arm like a sack of wheat until we got to the edge of the garage.  I think it was then that I realized that Charis had followed me out, adding her voice to the fracas.  She was also more than a little worried.

“Come on, kids,” said this very trembly Grammy.  “We are going in.”

“Not want go in,” said a determined little voice from under my arm.

I pulled him into an upright position and said in a tired but convincing voice, “We are going in.  We need to tell Daddy and Mommy that you got onto the road.  Grammy cannot watch you if you do not listen.  You could have gotten hit out there and been killed.”  He squirmed and fussed and tried to get down.  It would have taken a much stronger guy than he was to pry him loose.

Si and Frankie began to protest as well, and Grammy put on her terrible voice.  “We are going in.  NOW.  All of you.  Maybe you can come back out later, but we need to go in now!”  For some reason, there was no more protest.  I herded the other three and carried Liam into the kitchen that was milling about with people.  Our house is so tight that no one had even heard the terrified screaming outside.

“We almost had a disaster,” I announced.  Everyone was instantly to attention, and I retold the tale, out of breath, still almost unable to keep from shaking violently and still scared spitless.  Liam’s parents were immediately on it, and I left him to them and their wisdom.  I found me a chair and sat down.  I felt so terrible, and all the “what if’s, and “might have been’s” and horrible scenarios went crashing through my brain.  I  have such a crazy imagination, and when I closed my eyes, I could see a crumpled and broken little boy body flying through the air after being hit by a vehicle.  Our road is so busy, and the possibility was so real.  I wanted to weep and weep and weep.

“Mama,” said Eldest Son gently after things had settled down with the parental admonition.  “You are hating it, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” I said tearily.  “It could have been so terrible.”

“Mom,”  he said a bit firmly, “you are going to have to let it go.  It didn’t happen.  That’s what matters.  It didn’t happen.”

“I know, but–” (I just had to say it–) “I could not have borne it it if something had happened to him while I was supposed to be watching him.  And it so easily could have!”

“I know, Mama,” he said, ” and I think about it, too.  It would have been terrible for something to happen to him, and I don’t know what we would have done, legally and all, (since the boys are still under Ohio’s Foster Care System) but the truth is, it didn’t.   And we have to think about that.”

I was comforted some, but it didn’t help much, to be honest.  My knees felt like jelly for the whole rest of the day.  My heart was given to strange accelerations whenever certain reminders popped up,  and my whole body felt like it had run a marathon.  Well, maybe a hundred foot dash.

He tried it again, later that day when his Mommy and Daddy were there.  They are younger than me, Eldest Son has a more terrible voice and longer legs and he got stopped before he got too far.  We parked a car in the driveway at the front door then, so there would at least be an obstacle.  And continued to keep close watch.

This weekend was a wonderful time.  We saw so many people that we love, and had just the best time ever!  I don’t think our wedding reception was as much fun as this party.  (But then, I don’t remember much of that wedding reception, to tell you the truth!)  And our offspringin’s did themselves proud.  I cannot find fault with a thing.

But there was an understanding that made its quiet spot in my heart through all the festivities — the knowledge that all of this could have been changed in a single split second.  The realization that every single minute of happiness that we enjoy is truly a gift from God, and that He is to be praised for His watchful care and generous provision for us.  Does that mean that if Liam had gotten hit on the road that God wasn’t on His job?  No.  It means that God is God, and that for whatever reason, He protected and provided and allowed us to have a wonderful time with friends and family instead of grieving a terrible accident.

And Lord Jesus, Master of the Wind, Maker of the Waves, Blessed Controller of All Things, my Savior and Lord, I love you.

My heart gives grateful praise.


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First Day of Marketing

So tonight Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in Law got a whole lot of books ready for shipping tomorrow.  I wanted to help.  I wanted to write the addresses.  I wanted to rejoice over every single order.  I wanted to laugh and exclaim and do all sorts of celebrating.

But I couldn’t.


I was too busy immersing my left hand into a two gallon pitcher of ice water.


You see, on this gloriously happy day, I steamed more than grapes.


My trusty steamer betrayed me and sprayed scalding juice on my left hand, seriously burning my index finger.
(There are actually other blisters that aren’t visible here.  This is the impressive one.)

It’s been really painful, but it is now almost five hours later and I think I just might live.

The laundry is done, but my kitchen is a disaster.


(It looks pretty bad, I know, but it would look even worse if it weren’t for the faithful ministrations of Eldest Daughter who took care of seriously necessary things and helped in a dozen integral ways (I love you, Christina!) and Beloved Son in Law who helped fill some of the jars with juice when I couldn’t think straight for the pain.  Besides, If I just go in there and close some cupboard doors and load the dishwasher and put some pans in to soak, it will look even more better!

Tomorrow is another day.  I have so much to be grateful for tonight.  I have my van back and it is beautiful and it is running.  Youngest Daughter made her trip to Cedarville, Ohio with many delays but no accident, though she saw such along the way.  The washer and dryer worked faithfully and well, and the laundry is pretty much done except for folding towels — which Middle Daughter always does for me.

And so, even though I can scarcely bend this finger, and even though I may have trouble getting to sleep tonight, I will count my blessings and smile when I try to sleep, and pray when I can’t.

I love you all out there who have come, called, e-mailed and messaged me to get a copy of the book on this first marketing day.  It really, really surprises me — and humbles me, and makes me glad that I listened to Beloved Son in Law and ordered more than a hundred for our first run.  I Love you, Jesse.  THANKS.

And Lord Jesus, Master of the Wind, Maker of the Waves, and Blessed Controller of All Things, I love you, too. My heart gives grateful praise.

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So you think you want a book?

My book is ready to sell.  

If you want one, you can email us at or call 302-422-5952 (My phone) or 302-382-6170 (Christina’s phone) and we’ll either mail one out or set one aside for you.  

The cost is $14.00 each if you get it this weekend at the Anniversary Celebration or pick it up at our house.

 If you want it mailed, shipping and handling is 2.50 for the first book and if you order more than one, each additional one is an extra .50 for shipping.  

You are welcome to pick them up at my house.  Or you can order and we will mail and invoice once we have your address and order.

Eldest Daughter is my partner in this sales endeavor, so it is fine to contact either of us.  

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Sunday Musings

I always thought that my Daddy would live a long, long time.  I thought he would be one of these wizened old men, running around, working and gardening and visiting and traveling.  I thought that he would continue to have things to say for our church and that he would be a wellspring of counsel and encouragement to people in general, his family in particular.

I don’t know why he had to die at 76.  Maybe it was the exposure to the insecticides and pesticides that he used on the farm that turned his skin yellow in the summer breezes when he sprayed his fields.  They didn’t have the restrictions and warnings and even the protection then that they do now.  He didn’t like to farm.  The work was hard and so often things were unpredictable in the un-irrigated acres that were Fair Hope Farm.  I suspect that he welcomed the chemicals that seemed to make life easier.  It’s hard to farm with a two bottom plow and a two row cultivator.  It was far easier than the horses that his Papa used to work the same fields through the Great Depression and the decades following, but the work was non-stop and even with the “modern conveniences” it was a grind.

When Daddy went to work at the Country Rest Home in the early 70’s, he was still a young man in his early 40’s.  As a family, we were uncertain as to how this would work out and we actually tried to talk him out of it.  He said that he would follow our wishes, but we knew that he desperately wanted something different than the farm.  In the end, Daddy did what he wanted to do.  (As he usually did!)  There were challenges there, and he wasn’t always happy, but he had a dream, and he held on and he expanded his life beyond the confines of his business and he did well.  Not only with the vision that made the Country Rest Home what it is today, but in things that involved relationships, church planting, people business and especially his six children, their spouses and his 27 grandchildren.  He lived to see eight of those grandchildren married, and to hold some of his great grandchildren.

Yesterday, as I was contemplating where my life is now, and the fact that I have a book that we are ready to market, that Daniel and I are ready to celebrate 40 years together, the offspringin’s are coming home, and I turn 60 in two short months –it seemed like my mind is unable to shake thoughts of my Daddy.

What would he think?

What would he say?

Would he be proud of his girl?

He was such an encourager, and he often gave me reason to think thoughts way bigger than myself.  I think he would be pleased.  He wouldn’t know quite what to think about some of the stories.  He would be surprised to find himself in some.

I don’t know what he would say, or think or do.

But I wish I did.

I wish I did.

I just never thought that one of the by products of this dream come true would be fresh grief over a loss that is 2799 days old.

Can he really be so long gone?

It feels so new.

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Ordinary Days with a twist of God . . .

Thursday morning started entirely too soon.  On Wednesday night, we had gathered at our country church to clean.  There were helping hands and willing hearts and we moved a BUNCH of dirt.  We’ve been in the process of remodeling and painting, moving church benches around, getting rid of a large number of benches (does anybody want some, cheap?) and the basement really needed attention.  When this illustrious event happened to fall on the fourteenth of August, the wife of Certain Man thought it well pleasing to celebrate Certain Man’s 60th birthday.  (What with it actually being the exact day.)  So there were people called, a cake arranged for, and other refreshments planned and when the work was mostly done, friends helped to celebrate.

But the hour got late, and CMW needed to stop by the store on the way home to buy some sausage.  Certain Man’s office had planned a breakfast and he had promised to bring sausage gravy.  By the time CMW got to bed that night it was quite late, indeed.  And then, come morning, it was “up and at’m” pretty early so that the gravy could be finished before Certain Man left for work at seven.

Everything got accomplished in fairly good timing. Cecilia and Nettie got on their buses, and CMW was getting on with her day, when she remembered something important.  Nettie’s wallet.

CMW carries two wallets in her pocketbook that belong to the individuals who make their home at Shady Acres. Cecilia’s is white.  Nettie’s is an electric purple.  They are the modern hard cased, hard to open things that contain the many cards and identification items that CMW needs for them from time to time.  They are probably the most important item in the lives of these two ladies because it holds their access to health care, savings accounts and family information.  CMW never treats them lightly.

However, on Tuesday night while CMW was taking friend Torre for some items for school, she had stopped at the bank to withdraw some much needed funds for Nettie just before taking Torre home.  CMW had enjoyed a great time with Torre, and the buys they had found were beyond good (actually, incredible!) but the hour was quite late.  CMW told stories about ATM’s and people coming out of the bushes when Certain Man was depositing the church’s offerings, and there was much exclaiming and shivering while CMW searched frantically through her purse, trying to find Nettie’s wallet.  She finally discovered that it had slipped through a rip that was behind a zippered compartment in her purse and was floating around in the darkness beneath the lining.  Once she found it, there was a hasty withdrawal, and a stuffing of receipt and money into the wallet, and the two gals headed home.  It was 10:15 until Torre was home and her mom talked to and then CMW headed home.

Some time during the day on Wednesday, while CMW was out and about with her Sweet Mama, she realized that Nettie’s wallet was missing again.

“It probably slid down through that rip again,” thought CMW.  “I really need to do something about fixing that.”  And she put it towards the back of her mind.  But then she would think about it and wonder if it really was there.  She made a few perfunctory passes through the purse and didn’t see it, but her purse is notoriously unorganized and so she thought she just must be missing it somehow.  She finally decided that she really needed to look for it in earnest.  That would have been Thursday morning. In her (ahem!) spare time.

The thing was, it was the last day for Youngest Daughter to have the three kids that have been part of her summer job.  They were heading out for some fun things to do.  CMW was hoping to take her rental van home that morning because she was sick of it.  Well, actually, sick of paying for it and homesick for her own van that was to be finished by Friday. There were deposits that needed to go to two different banks and several canning and household chores clamoring for attention.  And the man at Enterprise said the van needed to be back by 11 o’clock to avoid being charged for another day.

But then she remembered that she hadn’t found Nettie’s wallet yet and it just might (probably was!) somewhere in that van.  She had to find that wallet before she took the van back.  So she first dumped all the contents of her purse out on the counter and methodically went through them.  This was an exercise in futility.  There was no bright purple wallet. Not even slipped down under the lining.  Then she went out and went through the van.  She carefully looked and looked.  Nothing.

She came back into the house and spoke sad words with Youngest Daughter.

“Boy, Mom,” said Youngest Daughter sympathetically, “you’ve not been having the best of times with your ladies the last few weeks, have you?”

CMW murmured assent, but thought ruefully that she hadn’t been having the best of times with a number of integral parts of her life the last few weeks.  And grumbling didn’t help.  She went back out to the van and looked again, including places that just weren’t likely.  Then she came in and called Sweet Mama.

“Mama, is there any chance that I inadvertently dropped Nettie’s wallet into your pocket book yesterday when we were in Lewes? ”  she asked hopefully.

“I don’t know,” said Sweet Mama, “let me look.”  She returned to the phone with another negative answer.

“Do you remember seeing it?”

“No.  Not at all,” replied Sweet Mama.  “It is something I think I would have noticed because it is so unusual.  I don’t recall seeing it all day.”

CMW returned to the van and looked some more.  The situation was looking more and more hopeless to her.  How in the world would she ever recreate all the information that was in there?  And since the medication error of a few weeks ago, she has tried really, really hard not to draw any attention to herself in any way whatsoever when it came to her ladies and the State of Delaware.  There was over a hundred dollars in there, too, as well as two very important receipts.  She had been murmuring some desperate prayers as she muddled about, but it was time for some serious praying.  So pray, she did!

The one thing that kept nagging at the back of her mind was whether it had maybe fallen out on the back alley at Torre’s house.  She knew that Torre would never have taken it, but since she hadn’t seen it since that night, she began to wonder if she may have dropped it somehow when she and Torre were unloading the car.  However, the last thing she wanted Torre to think was that she was suspecting her.  The dilemma about whether or not to call Torre waged for quite a while, but as the morning passed, she decided that she should at least check and see.

“No,” said a surprised Torre, “I didn’t see anything out there on the drive at all.”  I wasn’t surprised.  That alley is a pretty busy place and if a brilliant purple wallet had been lying there, it would have been eye catching.  CMW began to resign herself to the fact that it was gone for good.

Unknown to her, Youngest Daughter was busily entreating Heaven on behalf of her troubled mama.  CMW noticed that she was unusually busy around the kitchen and unusually quiet, but was too besot with her own troubles to wonder.

And then CMW decided to look through the van one more time.  It seemed futile, because she had opened every compartment, looked under every seat, opened every door and snooped through places she didn’t even know were there.  She had cleaned out all the trash in preparation for returning the rented vehicle, and collected all the things that had accumulated over the course of the nine days that the family had the vehicle.  There really was no where else to look, but an almost compelling force drew her back out.  Discouraged, she opened the door, and there, right on the passenger seat lay the familiar purple wallet.

To say that there was great astonishment would be an understatement.  To say that there was great rejoicing would also be an understatement.

Dancing on a garage floor,
Hands raised to my Father.
Tears of relief.
Giddy with grateful joy.

Mystery of mysteries.
How could this be so?

I do not know why
The God of the Universe
Concerns Himself with me —
Careless, unobservant, and human.

I don’t know why.

But this I know.
A miracle came today
Out of the blue
In the color of purple.

And my heart gives Grateful Praise.

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My Book is Printed . . .

book front cover      Book Back

We are still working on the marketing strategy and have a few things that need ironed out —

But I held the very first copy in my hands this afternoon and still cannot believe it is real.

There are mistakes, as I’ve already found.  But I expected that.

I will be posting how to get one once the big order gets here and I know a little more what I am doing.


Now I need to come back down from my “high” and go clean my refrigerator.

And steam some grapes for juice.

And blanch some lima beans for freezing.

And cook some tomatoes for pizza sauce.

How’s that for a dose of reality on this Glorious Delaware Afternoon?


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August 5, 2013 · 10:16 pm



Love Bug had a big day.  Blue Play Doh (Who’da thunk that Grammy could make play doh???) and weeding in the garden with Grandpa.  Riding the Golf cart and cutting and pasting and coloring.  Watching the movie “Madeline” for the first time, and “Milo and Otis” twice in one weekend.  Taking a bath and making a glorious mess with the colors for the bath and the tablets to make the water a funny color.  A story and a prayer and the songs from Mommy’s childhood, “You’re Something Special” and “Jesus, I heard you had a Big House” and “Good-night, My Father, Put Thoughts of Jesus in My Head.” Torre, here to spend the night, listened from her mattress on the floor, while Grammy prayed that the words would sink into her hungry heart and take root.  Love Bug was asleep before the last song was done, and Torre turned her light out soon.  Two girlies, both so precious.

Oh, Lord Jesus.  “Put Angels all around all our beds.”

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