Monthly Archives: October 2014

Arrangements for Frieda Yoder

I know that my Redeemer lives,

and in the end, He will stand upon the earth.

Even after my skin has been destroyed,
in my flesh I will see God.

I will see Him myself:
I will see Him with my very own eyes.

How my soul wants that to happen . . .

Clint and Frieda

How my soul wants that to happen!!!
~Job 19:25-27 NCV

Arrangements for Frieda Yoder:

Calling Hours 6-8 pm @ New Holland Mennonite Church  –  Thursday Oct 30
          Calling Hours 6-8:30 pm @ Greenwood Mennonite Church – Sat. Nov. 1
          Burial – Greenwood Mennonite Church Cemetery 2 pm Sunday Nov 2
          Service – Greenwood Mennonite School – 3 pm Sunday Nov. 2
     –Viewing will be private for immediate family as Frieda requested.
     –New Holland Mennonite Church is located in New Holland, SC
     –Greenwood Mennonite Church and School are located in                                                  Greenwood, DE

 

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. . . and she is Finally Home!

A call from my brother, and the words:  “Frieda is in Heaven!”

At 5:50 she winged her way Heavenward, easy and quiet, while her loved ones kept watch.  Brave, brave woman.  How very much she will be missed.

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Little miracles on the larger plane of Life

It is no secret that Certain Man and his wife are rather out of date and out of what is cool when it comes to cell phones.  For pity sakes, it seems like only yesterday that there were no cell phones.  When Certain Man got what they called a “bag phone” back in the late eighties, we thought we were really coming up in this world.

 

Now for years, we’ve resisted having any kind of internet on our phones or providing it for the motley crew that is on our family plan.  One by one, The Offspringin’s have gone to their own lines or conspired with each other to have share the costs so that they could indulge their smart phone addictions — I mean, affinities —  to their hearts’ content.  But then, it seemed that college kid, Rachel, needed cell phone access to the internet that was advantageous for grad school and a bit “job related,”  (really, Rach???!!!) and beings she is a poor college kid, we decided that we would make an exception.  This once.

 

But for Certain Man and myself,  we have the same old identical flip phones that we have had for a very long time.  We have the same numbers that we got over a dozen years ago.  Our phones make and receive calls.  They can send and receive texts.  We can even take pictures with them and I can send them to the offspringin’s whether they want them or not and I can get their pictures, too — which is wonderful!  (probably 95% of the time, anyhow.  We will not discuss the other percent.)  The offspringin’s have protested loudly and often saying “You guys need to update your phones!”  Beloved Son in Law even pointed out that “there is not an accumulating financial advantage in waiting four years after you are eligible for an update. They are still going to give you the same kind of deal.” (I think I knew that.)  My rebuttals have been at least as loud and often.

 

Something happened yesterday that almost made me cave.

 

Monday morning.  Laundry morning, and all was well.  Certain Man was home, and I was trying to work around a very constricted muscle in my right shoulder/neck/upper back.  I had a most muddled morning.  Both of my ladies’ buses came early on this morning when I had it in slow gear.  I was padding around in my housecoat, just trying to make sure I wasn’t missing something important when someone called on the house phone.  I was trying to make the best use of my time, so I went into the laundry room to change the washer.  It was time for my “blue load,” so in impulse, I stripped off my blue housecoat that had even blue-er icing it from this past weekend, and threw it into the washer along with the rest of the clothing and put in the detergent and started it up.

 

I continued talking on the phone until suddenly I was aware that there were great “clunking” noises coming from my usually sensible front loading washing washing machine.  Oh! No!   Where’s my phone?  I stopped the machine, waited anxiously for it to unlock, then dug through the wet clothes.  I pulled out my dripping housecoat and searched the pockets.  Nothing.  I frantically started moving things aside in there, and found my phone, minus the battery.  A few more sopping wet things got pushed aside and there was the battery.  I flew to the kitchen and dried everything carefully.  I got down the rice and found a suitably sized container that I could put everything in and quickly covered the phone and the battery.  And sighed.

 

I put the wet clothes back into the washing machine and restarted the cycle.  I found Certain Man and we discussed the fact that maybe this was the time to do some updating.  We decided that we would trek to Dover, come eventide, and search out the possibilities and if we could make some sort of acceptable agreement, maybe we would upgrade to a better phone.  He went back to fixing fence and I went back to laundry.

 

But then, after four hours, it was time for me to visit the chiropractor for this aching neck.  I didn’t want to leave the house without a phone because our ears are always tuned to South Carolina and the saga there, but I didn’t think it would help to take Certain Man’s phone, as any call that would come in would be to mine.  And so I dithered about for a bit while I weighed my options.

 

“Maybe I should just get that phone out of the rice and see if it works . . . but they say to leave it at least twenty four hours . . . if I fire it up now, I might ruin it for good . . . however, if we are going to go get new phones tonight, it won’t matter if this does get ruined . . . on the other hand, I would rather keep this phone than have to get a new one, so I should just leave it in the rice for at least 24 hours . . .but I don’t want to be without a phone right now for any length of time since I might miss Clinton’s phone call . . . maybe I should see about connecting a spare phone . . .  I don’t really have time . . .”

 

I finally decided to power it up and see what happened.  I almost held my breath, but the screen lit up, and as the activation noises began.  It went right into the usual mode and I looked triumphantly at Certain Man.  He returned my look with a very dubious one of his own.  “You’d better call someone,” he said.  “You won’t know for sure until a call actually goes through.”  I dialed his number and we were both delighted to have the call go through and to realize that the little phone was working just fine. In fact, as the hours go by, it seems like it is even better than it was before!

 

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We didn’t go to Dover.  We didn’t upgrade.  The offspringin’s are just going to have wait for a while.  Not saying “no” forever, but just saying that this little phone is enough.  Actually more than enough, and I am quite content.

 

My heart gives grateful praise.

 

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Family Circus Cartoon for Oct/27/2014

 

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Keeping Vigil/Cheering Frieda Home

Sixteen days ago, the voice was lilting and full of joy.  She eagerly looked forward to being in Heaven and was unafraid.  She is still looking forward to Heaven and is unafraid.  But she is very, very sick and that voice is almost non-existent.  She still knows her family and when she can, she has words for them.

The breaths are ragged and disorganized.  They catch my brother’s heart and wrench it.  He tends to her lovingly and tries to pray.  The words stick in his throat, and he feels so helpless.  If a heart breaking could be measured in decibels, the atmosphere would be shattered.

Ah, dear friends, how  very much he needs your prayers.  They all do — Clint, Shana, Doug, Juliana and Steven, Chip, Susan, Hannah and Clinty.  And Frieda.  Pray that her faith will soon be sight; that her suffering could cease; that she would hear the Angels singing and that death could be swallowed up in Victory.   Soon and very soon.

. . . and this for my beloved brother.

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Living with October Grief

Three years ago today, my cousin, Merlin Yoder had a terrible farming accident and passed away two days later.  That October was a terrible time for me, and some days I didn’t know if I would ever be happy again.  In Daniel’s family, we had a suicide early in the month, then my uncle, Vernon Zehr, passed away mid month, and then a week later, Merlin had his accident.

Today is the ninth anniversary of Old Gertrude’s death, also the ninth anniversary of the death of Carolyn Swartzentruber, five year old daughter of friends,  Harvey and Judith.  I went to Old Gertrude’s grave today, as I often do when I have a class at Stockley Center, and the weather was wet, the sky so grey and the wind was whistling through the trees around that graveyard for indigents.  I thought about my sister in law, Frieda, and about the journey we all must make some day, and about how much I love living, but how hard things are sometimes and how knowing Jesus doesn’t make the parting “easy.”  I know that Jesus conquered Death, and that Death is to have lost its sting, but the crossing is still not easy and the unknowns are still so glaring. What we know about Heaven is so intriguingly wonderful.  What we don’t know about the crossing is what we hate so much.

All this pondering made me go back to try to find something that I had written the morning that we got word that Merlin had crossed over, that he was “done with troubles and trials.”  This post says a great deal about what I’m feeling now.  I know from experience that we won’t always be this sad, and that it won’t always hurt this much.  And I know that Clint and his family are not alone, and that the prayers and the love and the concern are helping to hold them steady.  But it is hard.  And time grows short.

Ah, dear friends.  Please pray for us . . .

*******************

I was sitting in my chair, in the corner beside the fire on this chilly Monday morning.  I kept trying to wrap my head around the ache in my heart.  I just could not really believe that Merlin was gone.  He was so vibrant, so healthy, so alive!  The usual things have been said, and I believe, I believe!  He IS more alive than he has ever been.  He IS in the presence of the LORD, and he would never have wanted to stay in that broken body.  I’m sure he has seen The Father, I’m sure he has seen his Dad — and mine.  But it all seems so surreal.

I was working on a letter to my kids when the morning quiet was interrupted by the phone.  It was Certain Man. His quiet strength and understanding have helped to hold me steady in this last week.  Sometimes I see him watching me with a calculating look, sometimes worried.

“I don’t know if you can see it or not, Hon,” he said, “but the sunrise is spectacular this morning.  Go look to see if you can see it.”

Almost four decades with this guy tells me to never ignore such information, and I got up and looked towards the east.  “What do you see, Sweetheart?” I ask, looking at a gray horizon, and seeing nothing of significance.

“I just came across the bridge at the swamp,” he says, “and the sun is hanging over the swamp like a big ball of fire.  You may not be able to see anything because of the trees, but it is simply gorgeous.”

I look and look, and don’t even see a glimmer of the fire.  Just gray horizon with an area that is a bit brighter where the sun will probably appear after a while.  I don’t doubt that he is seeing it — and that it is breath taking, but I just can’t see it.  Yet.

“I’m sorry, Daniel, but it isn’t up far enough yet.  It sounds wonderful, though.”  We exchange a few more bits of conversation and then I am back into the morning routine with my ladies and laundry — busy stuff to keep my hands occupied while my heart weeps.

And then, fixing a cup of coffee, looking listlessly out the side window where the summer flowers escaped frost one more night, I keep thinking about the morning and the sunrise I couldn’t see.  I keep thinking that there is something nagging at edge of my conscious thought.  I keep thinking about Merlin and how they said he often would call one of his brothers in the early morning hours to “go riding.”  He was an accomplished biker, and loved to cycle, too.  I got to thinking about what he might tell us this morning if he could call back.

“Come.  Ride with me!  You can’t see it yet, but the Morning is glorious!  The Son is like a ball of fire, and all the air is alive with His presence.  You can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet . . .”

And the fact that I don’t see it yet — don’t begin to understand it yet, doesn’t change the fact that I believe it is for real, and that someday, The Son will come for all who look for him, and it won’t carry the grief of this day, but rather the promise of a Glorious reunion and an eternity without the pain of separation.

“Ah, Merlin!  The ‘if only’s’ and the sadness of this day crowd out the the things my head wants to say.  We will miss you, and you will always be thought of with good memories in the hearts of so many.  May God grant healing to your family, and may this “seed sown in the mortal body” rise to everlasting life.”

(Lord Jesus, forgive my questioning heart, but WHY did it have to be him????)

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. . . and the sand keeps sliding through the hour glass

We came home last night to the farmhouse at Shady Acres after being gone for about 33 hours.  We crammed a lot of living in those hours, and had a wonderful time tromping through Lancaster, taking in MOSES! at Sight and Sound, visiting some of our favorite shops, and just enjoying some time away.  The only money we spent for food was for tips, as we had gift cards for everything else.  Motel 6 was extremely clean and comfy and we couldn’t have found nicer accommodations for $67.00.  I had such a happy time with that man that I love most.  The colors were beautiful in Lancaster.  When we were traveling up on Monday, it was raining.  I told Daniel that if we had some sun Tuesday, we would see some pretty spectacular trees.  I was right!

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When we came home, it seemed like things had fared pretty well while we were gone.  Laundry was caught up, the kitchen was straightened, my ladies were fed and contented.  But then it was mentioned that our trusty Miele dishwasher was not working, and that the dryer had taken three hours to dry the last towel load.  H-m-m-m-m-m. I need to see about finding myself a repair man, I guess. Oh, and my experienced eyes warned me that Blind Linda didn’t seem to be doing so well.

The illness and the coming Homegoing of my sister in law, Frieda, seem to be ever with me.  Sometimes it almost seems wrong to have happy days and laugh.  But then I remember that she doesn’t want us to be gloomy and it doesn’t help her any for us to mope about.  So I shed my tears and I grieve and pray, but I’ve also had to laugh, had to eagerly anticipate upcoming events, and have kept these hands mostly busy.

The seats we had for the Moses! presentation were up in the upper level.  By the time I had climbed the several flights of stairs, I was wishing that I had taken the elevator.  When we found our seats, there was a rather portly couple on the end by the aisle.  For some reason, they thought it best to stay were they were and just compact themselves together as best they could to let us pass.  This left a narrow ledge for me to manuever my rather portly body past them to my seat.   There was no hand rail, the backs of the next row of seats was somewhere down close to my ankles.

I’m more than a little bit afraid of heights.  I can have a sturdy wall that is up to my waist between me and the Royal Gorge and still have to stand back a few feet to be comfortable.  No leaning on the guard rails for me!  I get this strange sensation in the back of my legs and it feels like the abyss is pulling me to itself with hungry tentacles.  For years I wouldn’t fly because of how terrified I was about getting my feet off the ground, but there came a day when I realized that my fear of flying was affecting my relationship with my husband and I decided that I would fly with him, even if it killed me.  (Which I was pretty certain it would!)  There was much prayer, much shutting of the eyes and just not looking, much faking of enthusiasm when a Certain Man who was in the window seat (always in the window seat!) would exclaim, “Look, Hon!  See how clear it is!  You can see clear down to the ground!  Right there is the Mississippi River, and if you look close, you can see the big gateway arch in St. Lewie.”  Oh, how my stomach would lurch as I dutifully leaned over him and tried to see.  But I’ve done it often enough now that the terror has been replaced by a general dislike, and is at least manageable.  But I digress.  I only went on that rabbit trail to explain how terrified I am of heights, and believe me, the upper deck of the Sight and Sound Auditorium is definitely “heights.”

So, I looked at those seats, five in, and breathed a quick prayer, scrunched myself together and scooted past the couple who were exclaiming things like, “Do you have enough room???  Can you make it???”  while occupying their space, but pulling their ample stomachs in and leaning back.  I wanted to say, “No, I don’t have enough space, but if I could just hang on to your shirt/blouse while I pass by, I could maybe walk across Niagara Falls on this three inch board!”  But I desisted.   Once past them, I could reach my hand out to the backs of the empty seats and steady myself and, more importantly, lean in the direction of not cascading down the interminable mountain of seats in front of me.

Whew!  Settled at last.  With 20 minutes to spare.  I wondered what I was ever going to do if I needed to use the restroom during the presentation.  Age and Lasix and four babies that averaged close to ten pounds apiece make this a consideration of import.  So I prayed that I could safely sit until intermission and immersed myself into the production.  And all was well.  At intermission the couple stood up and stepped out and there was no danger.  They repeated the favor at the end of the intermission and I gratefully returned to my seat.  The production of Moses! was well done end engaging,  and Certain Man and I enjoyed a wonderful time together.

We came home through the deepening Autumn afternoon, noted the clouds that were spotting across the western sky and wondered at the coming storm.  We came into light and home and warmth and family and a beloved Love Bug at the top of the ramp to welcome us.  This morning, the storm has still not broken, and I put on the CD of “Songs my Father Taught Me” by the West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir.  The  kitchen window was cracked open a few inches and I played the song, “No more fear of Dying” twice as I thought about Frieda and her unchanged, eager anticipation of Heaven. She sleeps, talks with her family, sleeps some more.  My heart faltered as I considered the sadness of these waiting days.  Then I heard a wren, outside the window, singing her heart out along with the music that was swirling out into the morning mist.  I thought about Frieda, like a wren, living the praise in the face of dying, yes, but also in the light of Eternity.  The wren’s cheerful song  lifted my heart and made me think about things other than the broken dishwasher, delinquent dryer and even the fever that Blind Linda developed in the morning hours.

Heaven. It’s on my mind.  And thanks to the events of this last week, it isn’t a “heavy” even though parting is a sorrow.  Listen here and be blessed.  My heart gives grateful praise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcQXZOMCNF8

Lyrics:

Jesus has arisen, joy and hope are given
Those who call upon His Name.
He shall be exalted through the endless ages;
Name above all other Names.

No more fear of dying – no more need to doubt.
Every one shall answer, every knee shall bow.

Jesus has ascended,
Not like He descended – in a low and humble way.
He has been victorious, lifted up and glorious
Now He holds His rightful place.

Jesus is returning, joy and hope are burning
In the true believers heart.
King of all creation, come with celebration,
May we never more depart!

No more fear of dying – no more need to doubt.
Every one shall answer, every knee shall bow.

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Hearing Frieda’s Hope

The phone is ringing in my Sweet Mama’s sunny kitchen. She is in her chair, and I am sitting at her table, working on her weekly med planner. It is an ordinary Tuesday and the day is sweet with quiet conversation and peaceful camaraderie. I pick up the call for Mama.

“Hello, Yutzys – I mean, Yoders.”

“Oh, Mary Ann!  You’re there at Mom’s?”

The voice at the other end is lilting and familiar.

“Yep, it’s Tuesday, and I’m here!” I puzzle a bit over the voice, but suddenly realize that it belongs to my sister in law, Frieda. She was hospitalized over the weekend with symptoms that were troubling. She has been fighting an increasingly challenging battle with an especially insidious form of breast cancer that has metastasized.

“Is Mom there?” The voice is joyous, strong. Maybe there is good news here.

I hand the receiver over to Mama, and note with satisfaction that it is on speaker phone. I watch as she cradles the phone to her ear, her face a glad light, and she greets her daughter in law with a note of anticipation in her voice. And then.

“Mom,” says this voice, carrying across the kitchen, every word hanging in the air, held by an incredible thread of joy, “I’m calling to tell you that the tests are all back and I’m going to get to go to Heaven and it looks like it’s going to be really soon.”

My Sweet Mama’s face crumbles into a mask of sorrow. Across the room, I sit frozen as the import of the words settle into my soul with a bleak sorrow that begs to be repudiated. How can this be? My sister in law, part of our family’s fabric for almost fifty years, a beloved wife, dedicated mother and wonderful Mimi to her grandchildren, cannot be leaving us. What will they do? What will we do? The tears begin to slide down my face.

But Frieda isn’t about to let the news lie with one or two sentences. She speaks comfort and peace and hope and joy into the room while Mama and I weep. “Just think of it,” she carols. “I’m going to be in HEAVEN. With Jesus! I’ve lived my life for this! I’m going to this beautiful place and it’s going to be so good! And think of all the people I will get to see! I will meet a grandmother that I never knew here. I’ll see my grandmother that was one of the Godliest, most wonderful woman that I have ever known. I loved her so much! I’ll see Dad and all those Yoder boys that have gone on before! It’s going to be wonderful! And Janice Root! She’s going to be there!”

That gave me pause to consider a bit as I thought of Frieda walking into Heaven. I thought about Janice, there in the presence of the Lord for these long years (for us earth people) and I thought about her great laugh, ringing down the corridors of Heaven and could almost hear her saying, “Frieda! You here already??? Well, welcome home!!!” There could be some joy in that thought . . .

The conversation took many turns, but there was never anything but eager anticipation on Frieda’s part. She discussed the medical issues with the same detachment she might have used for book review. “They found cancer cells in my spinal fluid,” she said nonchalantly. “The cancer has spread to the lining between my brain and my skull. The doctor says that there is nothing more they can do. They say that I will just sleep more and more (and I’m already just sleeping and sleeping) and that I will slip into a coma and then I will go to Heaven! She says that I don’t have months, just weeks. Isn’t it so exciting?” I try to catch her enthusiasm but it just. Isn’t. there.

Oh, Frieda! Wake me up and tell me this is all a bad dream. Tell me that you beat the terrible odds and are going to get better. Tell me that Daniel and I will have a chance to bring Mama to South Carolina and visit you and Clint in your lovely home beside the lake, that we will pick up pecans and watch the season play its changing tunes in the woods and fields. Tell me that you will be back to caring for your patients in your home health care job and that you will rake the leaves and pull the weeds and run off frequently to see those grandbabies of yours. Tell me that you will keep on loving Clint and praying for your children and their spouses and grandkids. Tell me that your inimitable honesty in counsel to them and to us all will go on for years until you are old and gray and you do it from an old hickory rocking chair. Tell me that this is all a big mistake and we really do have another twenty or thirty years. Tell me!!! I beg of you. Tell me!!!

But these are not the words that she has for us. She knows whom she has believed. She knows where she is going. She doesn’t want to prolong it or inconvenience her family. The plans are in place. She is unafraid. She is at peace. She is unfaltering.

Oh, Lord Jesus! How very much we need you now. Shine your Glory into our hearts though her example. We are so sad.

Frieda says to Mama, “Is there anything you want me to tell anyone up there? I can take messages to Heaven for you.” Oh, my! What a precious thought!

Mama is startled, then a torrent of words for the love of her life that she misses every single day. “Tell Daddy that I love him, that we miss him. Tell him I’ll see him soon!”

“I’ll do that,” says this brave lady. “And I know that you would have preferred to hear this from Clint, but he just felt like he couldn’t talk. Maybe he could talk now.” Mama is crying so hard she can barely talk and when Clint comes on the line, his voice chokes and there are no words. It is so hard to talk to a loving parent when our worlds are upside down and bleeding out. I take the phone from Mama and speak what seems to me to be some babbling nonsense to my oldest brother. He regains his composure and is able to talk, and there is much there that is rich and comforting.

“I feel like the Lord has impressed several things on my heart,” he says quietly. “One is, ‘what kind of husband is the best kind of husband for Frieda right now?’ And I intend to be that kind of husband. This is going to be hard. And I’m going to have some really hard times. I’ve already had some really bad times. But, you know, there were times when we lived in Delaware and Frieda would go off alone to visit Shana or Chip and she’d be gone for quite a long time, but I was okay. She would always come back eventually and we’d go back to our usual routines. And now Frieda is going on another journey alone. And she won’t be coming back, but I’ll be going to her. I really don’t know how soon I will see her again, but it may not be all that long. It’s going to be hard. But I know that God will be with me and I know it’s not forever.” His voice is calm, trusting. My tears won’t stop.

“God has been so good to us,” he says. “We’ve enjoyed a tranquil life. Even with Dad going, and that was hard, but even with that, we’ve been so blessed and the lines have fallen to us in such pleasant places. We’ve not seen a lot of tragedy and hard times.”

There was so much more said – and so much left unsaid because there are no words for much of this. The conversations ended with promises to pray, affirmations of love and missions to accomplish.

How can we begin to go back to ordinary after such a brush with the eternal? I couldn’t think, could scarcely remember what the usual tasks were. But I kept thinking about the things that Frieda had said, and how important it was to get on with the living and believing and even being glad for her as she looks forward to Heaven without a flinch, without fear, without regret. She wants us to rejoice. She does not want anything to distract from The Glory of her Homegoing.

I am in awe of her, in awe of my brother, whose responses are nothing but illustrations of God’s incredible Grace. In an almost unbelievable demonstration of God’s intentional love for us individually, something happened several days before this diagnosis was given that reminded me of how up close and personal our God is. A song was requested at our annual church retreat on Sunday morning. Aunt Dottie had asked Dave and Ilva to sing, “Day by day, and with each passing moment . . .” as their special music. Dave had prefaced their singing by dedicating the song to Clint and Frieda, requesting prayer and testifying to the grace that they have found. The words of the song floated through the Crowder Center at the old Denton Wesleyan Camp moving many of us to tears. At about the very same time that Dave and Ilva were singing that song, Clint was leaving church after having taught Sunday School. He was weighed down by the sadness and he turned on the Back to the Bible broadcast on the radio. Immediately across the airwaves, came the very same song.

“That song is for me! It’s right where I am right now,” he thought and went home, looked it up and got a link ready to send to our family google group – not knowing what had happened in the gathering at Denton, MD, that morning.

(Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNVCcph6cnI&list=RDlNVCcph6cnI)

I listen to the words of this old hymn and am comforted and encouraged and even hopeful. We wish that she wouldn’t need to go. Wish for more time, wish for opportunities to say “I surely do love you!” a whole lot more than we’ve said it in the past. But it isn’t a time for wishing. She doesn’t want us to wallow. She wants us to think about going to Heaven as the wonderful adventure we all have before us, looking to Jesus as the Author and Finisher! of our faith.

I pray that we can follow this shining example. There is so much to look forward to. There is JOY set before us.  We will remember.

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And then it was October . . .

The days are classic, the nights are splendid, the trees are turning and the garden is almost done.  Certain Man carried the first bag of pellets into our house yesterday morning and started a fire in the pellet stove.  Twenty-four hours later, it has burned itself out and that is okay for now.  It will feel good again tonight, though.

“We need to get that shelf cleared off at the top of the ramp,” he said yesterday.  I interpreted that to mean, “YOU need to get that shelf cleared off,” though he didn’t say that, and may have not even meant it.  He might have just been thinking out loud.

The shelf at the top of the ramp.  H-m-m-m-m-m.  I guess it could use some clearing off.  At least if we are going to put pellets there anytime soon.  He built it so we could store pellets at an easily accessible place, but in the summer, when the shelf is so empty and inviting, a whole lot of things get put there:  Extra bird suet and seed blocks, plant fertilizer, an amish made wren house in need of repair, insect spray, an extension cord, garden trowels, an oil bottle, a mysterious large yellow liquid fertilizer container that says “Raph” on the side and is some sort of orangish yellow liquid that I have no idea what it is — and the box where I keep old newspapers in an orderly fashion.

“In case someone might need them,” I tell Certain Man when he looks askance at my stack.  Well, you never know!  Someone just might need them!  (By the way, if anyone does, I have two boxes of flat, neatly stacked newspapers that I will give away free if “someone needs them for something!”)  🙂

 

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Oh, yes!  It was quite a mess!

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He looked doubtful when I said that I could maybe get to it, and then he went off to work, and in my more energetic moments, I pondered about adding it to my day.  I decided that I could handle it.  So, I got busy and decided to clean it all off. And I kept after it — doing bits and pieces now and then, in between loads of laundry, going to the wash line, taking Our Girl Audrey for blood work, sorting through tomatoes and making supper.  It wasn’t really all that huge a job, but I had to find places for stuff, recycle some stuff and decide what fell into which category.

But I got it done.  Right after the last load in the dryer sounded its final ding!, I finished the last little bit.  And now, it looks like this–!

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Although he hasn’t acknowledged the transformation, I’m sure he has noted it.  And Certain Man can bring in those bags of pellets and stack them up whenever he gets the notion.  We can light that old pellet stove any time the temperature drops down, and it will be so cozy and good.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Golden Autumn Days and Besetting Sorrow

For the last ten days, I’ve been posting signs of Autumn over there on Facebook.  I’ve searched for the beauty and even the “not so beautiful” things that remind me that summer is waning, and my favorite season has truly begun.

Today was one of those perfect autumn days.  The weather was gorgeous.  The day was sweet.  Certain Man was home today because the big old lard buckets that are our chickens are going out.  How glad we both are for a bit of a break.  It looks like this layover is going to be a “nice” one.  The company is saying that it will be two weeks, but encompassing three weekends.  Today starts our church retreat at Denton, Maryland, and even though we don’t stay over at night because of our ladies, it is nice to not have to worry about chicken house alarms and fans and feeders and lights and ventilation and floods.

The day went well.  I had a big cheesy noodle bake to make for lunch on Sunday at retreat.  That came together well, and it was with a great deal of satisfaction that I got it into the fridge this afternoon all ready for the oven.  I checked the list of other things that I was to take and sighed with relief to realize that everything else was already there, sent with friend Ruby on Wednesday.

So many happy things to enjoy.  The blue jays are busy, the flowers still blooming, the air is cool and there are apples on the counter, crisp and sweet.  The crickets chirping don’t even much annoy me unless I am trying to sleep.

So.  Why the besetting sorrow?

Because six hundred miles away a story is being written of love and faithfulness and faith and an insidious disease and we don’t know how it will turn out.  My brave sister in law says she knows how it will be.  OKAY.  Because she knows Whom she has believed.  She trust her Heavenly Father to do what is best.  She is unafraid.  My Oldest Brother is pensive, even while he holds fast to the promises that remind us of a God who is THERE and who is neither surprised or stymied by the events of these last two years. My heart aches for him and their children and grandchildren and in-laws.

I sometimes think that Clinton has loved Frieda since the day he laid eyes on her.  That would have been back in about 1963.  They’ve loved each other a very long time.  That love and the faith that has marked their lives with adventure and grace and glory holds them steady in these uncertain days.  They cling to a God who has proven that He is to be trusted.  And we pray.  And pray.  And pray.

But on this glorious autumn day, the tears want to spill.  There is so much to ponder.  The sorrow is besetting.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  There are no words to say what is in our hearts . . .”

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