Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lessons from our Love Bug

She stole quietly into the pew beside her Grandpa and me, a sweet presence there.  A quick pull of an envelope out of the offering slots and she wanted a pencil or crayon or something to write with. I found a small package of crayons (from one of our forays to a restaurant which handed out three crayons to restless children) and she sat back on the pew and set to work with painstaking effort.

I had an old bulletin in my Bible, and I gave her some pieces to look at and to occupy her while I listened to the sermon.  She tapped my arm once and asked me how to write “don’t open” and I wrote it out on a piece of paper from my church notebook and handed it back to her.  Mollified, she went back to her efforts.

When church was over, she handed me the envelope.  “For you, Grammy!” She beamed happily. “Don’t open it!”

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“Okay,” I tell her, looking into her precious face.  “I’ll wait ’till later!”  That pleased her so much and she ran off to find her friends.

This morning, at least three weeks later, I was cleaning out my purse, and I found the envelope.  I couldn’t remember what it was that she had put into it, so I opened it up and pulled out the three pieces of paper that were inside.

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My first response was a burst of joy as I thought about this girlie who has brought so much into our lives-just by being herself, and how much delight she has in giving “stuff” to people she loves.

And then my heart was suddenly quiet and thoughtful as I realized how often the Love that God puts into our hearts seems to come with a self-made sign that says, “Don’t Open!”  We carry it, hidden in the depths somewhere and forget that it was given to us to open, to share.  I believe it is truly there, but we forget that we have a gift — an incredible gift — given to us freely, but we have to take it, and we have to “open” it.

It will give us incredible joy to share it.

And it will give The Father great delight.

 

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Blood on the Stone . . .

This blog has been on my mind for a number of weeks — and you will see that there are some “old comments.” First written in September, 2010, it is still pertinent.

Delaware Grammy

It was five-thirty.

The radio had come on with its usual BBC broadcast that signaled that it was time to get up. Not that I usually do, but it still was time. Certain Man had left his side of the bed empty an hour earlier when a banging headache had encouraged him to seek some Excedrin and his La-Z-boy. When he is gone, it feels so empty, and I usually stretch myself a little bit over on his side, and take my pillow and lap it up over top of his and sleep a little longer. Our bed is the most comfy bed we could ever ask for, and in those early morning minutes, I often think of how blessed I am, and make a point of being thankful to the LORD for all His benefits towards me.

This morning as I was luxuriating in that half asleep, half awake…

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Oh, No! Not again!

It was bed changing morning at Shady Acres.  Saturday.  It was also the morning that Certain Man, Middle Daughter, Only Granddaughter, and Certain Man’s Wife were planning to get into Certain Man’s pick up, and go to Ohio for the adoption hearings for grandsons;  Simon, Liam and Frankie.

Now we had been planning for this journey for a long time in general terms, but ever since the end of the July, it has been specific:  September 8th @ 9am.  Of course, this is the week when the weather had been very warm on Delmarva and our chickens will be five weeks old by the time when we get back, so Certain Man was concerned about their well-being.  I meandered through the last few weeks with some specific goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish before we had go leave.  It took me a while to connect that nobody accomplishes much while meandering, so I kinda tried to get it in gear before it was too late.  And I pretty much got the major projects finished up and when morning arrived, all that was left was to finish up the packing.  We had even gotten to bed at a reasonable time.

The morning was an immediate flurry of things getting done.  Only Granddaughter had spent the night and she was up early enough that I was able to get an early start.  The beds got stripped and remade, morning meds given, several loads of laundry sorted and the washing machine was purring away.  I had Linda on the potty and was ready to give her her shower when I needed to use the potty that she was sitting on.  That was fine, since she was ready for her shower, so I started the water in her shower and got it regulated.

Then I remembered something.  It was Saturday morning.  Friday night, Our Girl Audrey always cleans her bathroom, using copious amounts of cleaner.  It is not unusual for her to use half of a large can of bathroom cleaner to accomplish this task.  A great percentage of it is used in her shower.  This makes for very, very slippery conditions in the shower.  Even with the mat in place, when Linda steps into the shower, even the mat will slip like it is on ice.  This is especially so if no one tamps the mat down into place, making sure that the suction cups are engaged.  However, even when it has been secured, sometimes the rubber mat still slips, at least until someone picks it up, rinses under it thoroughly and then re-tamps it down securely.

So herein was the dilemma:  I was really in a hurry to get Linda into the shower so that I could use the porcelain convenience.  I hurriedly tamped the mat down with my heavy foot and then actually stepped onto the edge of the mat, hoping it was firmly in place.

What happened next happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think.  I was holding the grab bar with my right hand, but both feet went sliding out from under me in one blinding, unbelievable cataclysmic split second.  I didn’t even have time to register what had happened when I landed outside of the shower, on one dreadfully sickeningly solid left sided bottom thump.  It felt like an electric current jolted through my lower back and my first thought was to make sure my legs worked.  They did.  I hauled myself up and was grateful to note that, not only had I NOT wet myself, I no longer needed to use the potty.

I stood outside the shower with a thousand emotions crashing over my heart.  We were only hours away from leaving on an important, milestone marking trip.  I knew that whatever had happened could have some implications as to the many miles we needed to travel.  I don’t travel very comfortably under the best circumstances, but this weekend was especially a challenge already.  Our Silver Chariot had developed serious issues and was in the shop, being repaired, thankfully under warranty, but still out of commission.  We were planning to take Certain Man’s pick-up, but many of the amenities of the newer vehicle were glaringly lacking. The biggest concern was space to stretch out if I needed to.

Oh, boy!

I needed to get Linda showered.  I picked up the mat from the bottom of the shower and rinsed it thoroughly.  I washed the floor under the mat until it was no longer slippery to my touch, and put the mat back down firmly, making sure the suction cups were not going to move.  Bending over was clearly a problem, but it seemed like it was not as bad as I thought it would be.   I got Linda into the shower and washed her.  As I washed, I started praying while the water ran down and anxiety plied its nasty trade.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  This is no surprise to you, and I bring it before you.  Could you please use this for my good?  Could you somehow work what has happened to the betterment of traveling today instead of complicating things?  Please give me wisdom and endurance and help me to know what is best to do.  Above all else , if there is something really seriously wrong, could you please make that very plain before we leave?”

I finished the shower, aware that both of my feet were experiencing a strange sensation– that of being “almost half-way” asleep.  My toes were tingling in a strange way, and there was definitely some kind of trauma to my lower back.  But it didn’t hurt when I sat down, and it didn’t hurt too much when I stood up.  But getting from sitting to standing, and from standing to sitting was a reminder that something had happened.  And I was not moving as quickly as before.

I decided not to tell my family.  If I could get ready to go and not tell them, I was probably okay to go.  I truly lumbered through the rest of the morning, calling upon Middle Daughter for some assistance.  She helped incredibly much without asking questions.  Sometimes I would go and hide in another room to try to stretch things out and to relieve that ongoing tingling in my toes.  How was I ever going to make and eight hour pick-up ride?

I decided to tell my family.  I went out and started a conversation that I could “lead gently into” the account of the fall, but it never would develop easily.  I decided to not tell them.

We finished packing, got the caregiver for the ladies informed and we were on our way.  I settled into my seat and suddenly realized that, somewhere along the way, my toes had stopped tingling.  That gave me renewed courage and excitement for the miles ahead.  We had a book on CD and we listened to James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small as the miles pleasantly passed.  I was increasingly aware that I had almost no distress or pain.  Whenever we stopped, it was a little hard to walk normally and it was pretty hard to get in and out of the vehicle, but I began to believe that the pick-up was probably the best vehicle for me for this trip.  Yet another provision for me in spite of  all my clumsy misadventures.

And so we came safely to Ohio.  Somewhere on the PA turnpike, I told my family about the fall and how grateful I was that it seemed things were going so well.  Middle Daughter was concerned.  Certain Man was highly indignant that I hadn’t said anything before we left.  However, I was glad that there was no turning back at that point.  It sounded like he would have probably insisted that we delay departure.

And everything truly is okay.  I’m pretty sore, and it still doesn’t go very well to go from standing to sitting and sitting to standing, and my right arm appears to have experienced some sort of wrenching.  But all in all, it is surprisingly insignificant.  I was able to walk a half a mile today, and for the most part, things are good.

The best part is that we are all together at Raph and Gina’s house:

Adoption weekend 003 Adoption weekend 005

Adoption weekend 008

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Just a Song at Twilight . .

The day was getting old.

It had been such a happy day.  Certain Man, home from work for the holiday, invited me to breakfast, and when home again, decided that Labor Day was a good day to put in an outside faucet that would make things easier for me and for Our Girl Audrey.  He worked with a headache, especially after inadvertently running into the underside of the steps going to the upper deck.

In the evening, Beloved Son in Law came in with ribs that he had done to perfection, and we threw on some Sunday Fried Taters and cooked up some frozen peas and ate supper with sweet fellowship and great gratitude.

After supper, Eldest Daughter with her bucket and I with mine headed for the garden.  Eldest Daughter picked the tomatoes and I started on one of my two rows of beans.  Love Bug went with her beloved Grandpa to “help” with the chores, and when the tomatoes were picked and the chores had expended the very last minute they could possibly use up, BSIL took his little family home and it was Certain Man and I, left in the garden in the waning hours of light.

I worked at trying to get over my two rows of beans and Certain Man decided that it was time to take down the cucumber vine that had died on its trellis as well as the butternut squash, also on a trellis.  I had picked the butternut squash a few days ago, and now the dead vine was only taking up space.  He got out the tractor and pulled the posts and trellises out and then mowed part of the garden that was finished.  Conversation was limited to the necessary words: Questions about “putting up” carrots.  Questions about the feasibility of pulling out the unproductive pepper plants and general garden observations.  But the camaraderie was soul quiet and satisfying.

Back in the house, there were dishes to put into the dishwasher, kitchen to clean up, laundry to finish.  Both of us were tired, but it seemed like the evening tasks flew by on the wings of a quiet song that kept echoing in my head.  When I was but a wee girlie, my precious Daddy and my Sweet Mama would put their brood to bed and sometimes in the late evening, they would sing together.  Both of them had good voices and his tenor and her soprano would rise quietly in the night while I listened from my bed in the middle bedroom upstairs.  They sang gospel songs and they sang hymns.  But every now and then they sang a song that has played over and over in my head as an adult, and even more as an mature adult with over forty years of loving the same good man  under my belt.  (At least where my belt used to be! )

“Once in the dear, dead days beyond recall-
When from the world, the mists began to fall
Out of the dream that rose in happy throng
Down to our hearts Love sang an old sweet song.
And in the dust, where fell the firelight gleam
Softly it wove itself into our dream . . .”

The song from my childhood has become so defining of this love story that Certain Man and I are still writing together.  Often when I come to the chorus, I hear my Daddy and Mama’s voices, but they are singing our song!

“Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low
And the flick’ring shadows, softly come and go.
Though the heart be weary, sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight, comes love’s old song.
Comes Love’s old sweet song.”

The heart is often weary.  There’s been some sad, long days.  But when there is the melody of love, playing softly to me, there is something holding me steady, reminding me of what has gone before, smoothing over the rough places, bridging troubled waters.  Sometimes life gets loud and raucous and seems to drown out the song.  At least, I can hardly hear it over the din.  But often, in those evening hours, when the noise that is life is ebbing and the distractions of the day are starting to settle themselves, I hear an old familiar melody and it sings sweetly and quietly to my heart and it is good.

 

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Dancing

Grandsons are pretty wonderful things to have.

One day, while at our house, our youngest grandson, Frankie, wanted to not eat something.  His Mama told him he had to eat them and he decided to call upon his Daddy and appeal his case.  Raph told him, “Frankie, it doesn’t work for you to ask Daddy when Mommy says you have to do something.  Mommy and I are a team and what she says is what I will say.  Eat what Mommy tells you to eat.”Their oldest son, Si, sitting on the floor, already liberated by reason of having finished his plate looked up at his Auntie Rach and said with great confidentiality,  “I know dat don’ work.  I be learnin’!”

And on that note, I’d like to share that we have a court date for the adoption of Simon Mark Yutzy,  Liam K. Yutzy and Franklin L. Yutzy that is in the very near future.  And they have all “been learnin’!”  Still very much little boys, but the agency would like to use Raph and Gina for their “poster family for adoption” once things are finalized, so impressed are they with the progress the boys have made.

Our family gives grateful praise!  There’s been a lot of broken dreams along the way and days when Raph and Gina didn’t know if they were going or coming.  In the beginning, I worried some about our son’s eyes and the desperation that I saw there.  They went from being this carefree couple, doing what they wanted, both working and hoping for one little one — maybe two to foster with the hopes of adopting, but their world was shaken to its core one February night when they were asked to take THREE little boys, ages three, two and one on a day’s notice.

The boys were frightened and confused and so, so wild.  Certain Man would sometimes ask Raph how he was doing, and he would say, “To tell you the truth, Dad.  I’m really overwhelmed.”  I would sometimes try to comfort him when things were especially bad that “not all placements are a good fit.” and that it wasn’t a bad thing to be cautious and wise.  I said to him one night, “You know, Son, our God is so big that he won’t make something right for the boys that is wrong for you.”  He was quiet.  Pensive.

And so the weeks went by, and as the days passed, on the rare times we were together, I noticed a change in our tall son’s demeanor and his way of dealing with his three little boys.  And then, one day, he told me this story:

“One day, Mama, I was in my truck (he was a delivery man for Troyer’s Furniture in Sugar Creek, Ohio) and I sorta’ had like an epiphany.  I was complaining to the LORD and I was saying, ‘God, I can’t do this.  It is just too hard.  I want my life back, I want my wife back.  I want to come home from work and get on the couch and watch T.V. and not have to worry about anything.  It’s just too hard  I can’t do it!”

He said that it was like the presence of the LORD filled that truck and he felt like God said to him, “Raph, I didn’t redeem you for ‘easy.’  This IS hard, and it’s going to be hard.  But I am going to be with you, and if this is what I have for you to do, you CAN do it.”  That may not be word for word, but it is how I remember him telling me, and it has helped him so much — and not only him, but me, too, when things just feel too hard or too deep or too long to press through, I keep hearing, “I didn’t redeem you for ‘easy’!”

And so, our family is planning a celebration.  The boys have been a part of our family for almost 17 months, and very soon, LORD willing, it is scheduled to be made official.  Bring on the bells and whistles!  This family is ready to dance!!!

the boys
Simon, Liam and Frankie

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