Monthly Archives: March 2015

I just get that same old feeling . . .

There is a feeling I get, heading up Canterbury Road, that I’ve come to realize is a joy-mixed longing, accompanied by a familiarity. It has caused me to want to stop (in years past) at the white church on the corner of Canterbury and Carpenter Bridge, to unlock that front door and step inside, to sometimes pray a little, think a lot, and to drink in the smells and sights that are the physical embodiment of the building that houses our church. I’ve written on here before about how I miss our church building and how homesick I have been for that place of worship.

Earlier this week, I was caught flat-footed by that same feeling. Excepting that I wasn’t anywhere near Felton, DE. Nope, I was rounding that corner from Woodyard Road onto U.S. 13 South on my way to my Sweet Mama’s house, when I had this warm and sweet familiar feeling, and an urge to turn into the Nanticoke Business Park Drive. It startled me, as my mind was far away from this temporary gathering place that we’ve been using the last three and a half months.

“What in the World???” I thought as I kept my van on the forward mode. It was so strong that it jolted my thinking about this group of believers that I call my church family. I realized with a start that we are making warm and good memories in this “Place of Grace.” It has been an adequate, full of light and comfortable place of worship for us, and more than that, we’ve been the recipients of such open handed generosity that it blows my mind. The congregation that owns the facility has been so unselfish with everything and gone the second mile with their kindness. We’ve been free to be ourselves and we’ve been encouraged to “do church” with as many familiar routines as possible.

When the fire was lit on December 2nd, the intention was to hurt and to destroy. But as the old building is being renovated and restored, something stronger and more serviceable and beautiful is rising from the ashes. And the things that hold us together as a church family were impacted, but strengthened in the time since that unsettling morning. Especially encouraging has been how the people of the broader church family have rallied around us, prayed for us, given gifts of time, expertise, and money. It isn’t “too good to be true,” because it is true! And these responses come as a God of Truth moves on the hearts of ordinary men.

What I felt when I rounded that corner was just a feeling. And we all know that feelings are not to be trusted. But may I just say that feeling a sense of delight when I am near to the place where our church family meets, even though it is temporary — well, that’s the kind of thing that I call a bonus gift. Something extra special that God does for His child in situations that challenge, reminding me of His care over, not only our church family as a body, but over His daughter and the emotions of my heart.

And this daughter’s heart gave grateful praise.

2 Comments

Filed under Laws Mennonite Church, Praise

One Left Behind

Our chickens went out today.  It has been a mess, to be honest.  They were scheduled for yesterday, and Certain Man had asked for the day off.  Then, as things are wont to do, things got messed up at the plant, and so they were delayed a day.  Certain Man had a mandatory seminar today from 8-4, and even though he could “run home” at lunch, nothing makes up for the farmer being on the property.  Of course, everything went wrong.

For one thing, the wife of Certain Man has not had much experience with raising the water lines in preparation for the catch.  And the water lines are the things that are left down until the last minute.  Certain Man instructed her in the things that needed to be done in case he wasn’t home, and she duly noted everything — except she failed to notice that there are EIGHT sections per house that need to go up.  I still do not know how this was missed.  If she looked down the row and there were still water lines to go up, she should have know to put them up!  Right!  Well, I didn’t.  I was thinking that there were four feed lines that usually go up — (they were already up) and I took that Milwaukee Hole Hog that almost shook my teelh loose, and ran those drinker lines right up, being careful not to bend the stand pipes.  I checked things carefully, turned off the water as instructed, and took the drill and put it away, because we have had catching crews that took things and we really didn’t want that to happen.  And then I went back to the house.

When Certain Man got home, he found a very disgruntled crew leader.  It seems that they had to roll up four lines of drinkers without the benefit of the electrical appliance.  Certain Man apologized for his wife’s oversight, but then found two manual cranks in the litter by a wall.  And they weren’t his cranks.  They were the old style cranks that often have a nail replacing a bolt near the handle.  Certain Man, some years back, ran one of those vicious nails into his hand, causing great damage.  It also caused him to go forth and purchase cranks that were steel, one piece, all good quality, that would not inadvertently damage him.  Someone had taken his good cranks and replaced them with these old cranks.  One was even badly bent.  He was more than a little upset.

“These are not my cranks!” he said to the crew leader.

“I got them in your chicken house,” the man said.  “I got one over there and one over here.”

“I tell you, these are not my cranks!  Mine are fairly new, all one piece, going down so there is no nail in them.”

The man was unmoved.  “They are yours,” he said again.  “I got them in your house.”

“They are NOT MINE.  And somebody had better give me back my cranks before they leave here today.”

Of course, they didn’t.

And then there were so many big beautiful chickens just lying dead.  Over sixty in each house, for no apparent reason.  Certain Man’s birds are big.  Probably close to nine pounds a piece.  I saw the wheels turning in his head as he calculated his losses.  “That is half a ton of chicken,” he sad to me sadly.  “And that can make a bunch of difference.”

He went back out to chicken house to finish up for the night.  Around nine o’clock he came in.  He was walking slow, the weariness pulling him back on his heels, his eyes were grey and tired behind the chicken house dust.

“There’s one big beautiful chicken out there that is alive,” he said.  “I don’t suppose you want to do anything with it.”

“Sure, I want it,” I said.  “I’ll just go and quick butcher it and it can soak in salt water overnight.”

“Well, if you are going to do it, you’re going to have to do it alone.  I am just too tired.  I’ll go get it for you, but I don’t think I can do any more.”

“That will be fine,” I said.  “I’ll get some water started, and if you go get it, that’s all I need from you.”  He helped me get the big pot down from the high shelf and then went out.  I got the water started and then went out to see how things were going.  He already had the hapless victim hanging from the twine hangers on the side of our old garage.  The chicken appeared to be calmly surveying the surroundings, oblivious to the fact that time was fast running out for him.

“I want the water hot before I kill it,” I say to my spouse.  He looks relieved.  Butchering chickens is not his department — especially the part where the head leaves the body.  “I think we will just let it hang for a bit and I’ll get the water and come back out.”

“Then if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go get a shower and call it a day.”

“That’s fine, Daniel.  It’ll be okay.”

My knife was sharpened to a fine, cold flint.  I do not like to kill chickens, and I especially do not like it when they look at me just before I cut their heads off.  It was dark tonight, and I usually find the space in the neck and make a quick sharp draw and it is over.  And because I do it more by feel that by eyeballing it, I often shut my eyes once the knife is in place.  Which I did tonight — right after I caught the beady eye of my victim looking at me.  I shut my eyes and with one swift slice, the head was off, and on the ground and I was out of the way.  It made me feel so sick.  But there is always the next thing to do, so once he stopped moving, I took the headless chicken off the twine hanger and plunged him into the boiling water.  I got a good scald on him, hung him back up, and the feathers came off relatively easily.  And then I took him down again, rinsed him off, dumped my bucket of water, severed his feet and carried him into the kitchen.

Middle Daughter came home from a Hospice call about that time and when she heard I was going to butcher a chicken, she was daft enough to want to be involved.  She is a game helper (pun intended) in this situation, and once the pin feathers were off, she went to it.  Conversation was lively, and it wasn’t too long before the neck, liver, heart and gizzard were submerged in a sink  of iced salt water along side a fat, beautiful chicken.

“What are you going to do with it? asked Certain Man, on his way through the kitchen to get something to drink.

“I think I’m going to have it for Sunday dinner,” I say.  We are expecting company and it is a fairly large group.

Certain Man looked down at that chicken and his eyes clouded over.  “I wouldn’t think that would be enough to feed everybody,” he said dubiously.

“I did think of roasting it and having stuffing,” I said, “but I think I will just cook it and take it off the bones and have chicken-etti.”

That pleased him, as this particular casserole is an old family favorite that can feed a crowd.  I finished putting some stuff away, and decided it was time for me to get some shut-eye, too.  It’s been a busy week at Shady Acres, and tomorrow!  Ah, tomorrow, I am going away (just overnight) for a Beth Moore conference with some of my favorite people.

I can hardly wait!

My heart gives grateful praise.

3 Comments

Filed under Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Letting Jesus Out

Lent caught me flat footed this year.  I was in the produce aisle at Wal-Mart, looking for onions when I noticed the heavy ash cross on the forehead of another shopper.

“What???  It’s Ash Wednesday already???” I wondered.  “That means that Lent starts today and I’ve not even thought much about it!”

Honestly, I am not given to great observances on the Christian calendar, but the season of Lent carries an introspective, self-denial that has been meaningful to me in the past.  I try to prepare my heart in a special way for Easter during the weeks leading up to this “Best of All Holy Days Day.”

This year has been so different.  Our household, never “normal” by any standard, has been crazy, so “un-normal” even for us, that I’ve heard myself asking The Father if He could please bless us with an “ordinary” day.  One that is unmarked by weather and sickness.  It has been over two weeks since the schedule at our house has been right.

I find it so hard when I cannot count on a schedule to practice the disciplines I need for sanity and Godliness. It isn’t that I lose my Salvation, as much as it is that I feel very vulnerable to wrong attitudes; jealousy, suspicion, impatience, indifference, sadness and self pity rear their ugly heads and wreak havoc with my head and heart.  Faith seems like a slippery slope and it is so easy to see all the places where Christians are unloving, unreliable, unthinking, or just plain rude.

And so, I came to the season of Lent with some very late resolves.  It dawned on my fur brain tonight that Easter is 30 days away.  For about 5 days, Youngest Daughter and I have been trying to observe a Lenten fast from candy, cookies, cakes and pies.  I’ve been saying during these last five days that we were going to do this the last 30 days of Lent, not realizing that we actually had 35 days left.  But I’ve messed up in these last two days. with Doughnuts for the snow day, and Apple Dumplings for the Quiz Team Fundraiser today. (I mean, it wouldn’t be supportive not to at least eat one in honor of all their hard work, now would it???)  And I thought about how easily I make excuses and think that this once won’t matter, and so, the days slip on by.

Some years back, I purchased an advent/lent wooden “path” (with appropriate markers and extensions for the journeys) from Author Ann Voskamp’s son, Caleb.  We’ve used it often in the seasons since, and this year, I’ve staked the days with candles that I bought from the Jewish section of the grocery store.  I started at the outside edge and was working my way to the inside.  The figure of Jesus, carrying his cross, made its way steadily along the path that was getting narrower and narrower.  And then Middle Daughter,  looking at my Lenten Journey display, made this observation.

“You know Mama, I wonder what would happen if we started Jesus on his journey at the center of the wreath and walked him out to the outside.  It wouldn’t be so crowded and difficult to get around in the center that way.  After all, Jesus did go “out” when he was carrying his cross.”

That really impacted me..  For one thing, this business of denying self and taking up our cross, while it is something that we are commanded to do, it is not supposed to be introspective.  Too often, I do this for me.  It’s supposed to be all about Jesus.  All about Him being so big and good and Holy that we disregard what we think we want, to focus more on Him, to “get him out” of the boxes we’ve put Him in, out of the confines of our little circles to a world that needs the hope of a Savior who loved them enough to die.  The thing is, when we, for whatever reason, or by whatever means, think we need to keep Jesus in our little world, we are really missing out on seeing Him, knowing Him, honoring Him.

IMG_0777

30 days left until Easter.  How can those days be used to break the strongholds in my life that “hold Jesus in?”

“Oh, Lord Jesus!  Change our focus and direction.  Live your life and resurrection power in and through us. your people, in ways and through days that are anything but ordinary.”

Leave a comment

Filed under home living

Going through life on a slippery path

She came after church, hugged me and spoke encouraging words.  She had no idea how desperately I needed to hear the very words she said.  It made me cry, but it put a song in my heart that lasted through lunch and cleanup and filling bird feeders and now to my chair.

Through this week, as we’ve dealt with weather, Our Gal Audrey’s medical procedures, stomach viruses, concern over Blind Linda’s ongoing health issues, another fall of Sweet Mama’s, relationship issues, and disappointment over the choices of people we love, I’ve needed (many times over) to sing this song from our renewal meetings:

“If He hung the moon,
I KNOW He will help (me).
And if He holds the sparrow in flight,
He’ll hold (me), too.
Consider the lilies of the field —
How much more He loves (me).
In the beginning of time, (I) was on His mind —
When He hung the moon.

This afternoon, the ice is hanging from the leaves of the Magnolia tree, and trailing from the bird feeders, encasing the branches with a brittle sheen and making it very unattractive to do anything but stay inside.  But I sit here in my chair beside the fire, and there are so many blessings to count.

IMG_0748

*Three little people in my Sunday School Class who make me laugh, inspire me to prepare, and cause my heart to swell with love whenever I think about them.

*That good, good husband of mine who has looked after the affairs of not only our own house and land, but that of others as well this past week.  This morning he gave me a compliment on an outfit that I’ve been insecure about ever since my Sweet Mama told me that it didn’t “do much for you.”  He also called someone to fill in for him at church duties so he could stay home with the sick and afflicted and I would have a chance to get out and to teach my littles and be with our church family.  How very much I needed that!

*This afternoon, for the first time since MONDAY, Blind Linda picked up her own spoon, fed herself, cleaned up her plate and drank her sweet tea by herself and kept everything down.  This is a blessing of monumental proportions.

*Because Certain Man stayed home this morning, his friend Gary rode to church with me.  The roads were precarious driving home. I was slow.  Gary spoke not a single murmuring word.  He acted glad that I was going slow.  All the way home, I wondered how in the world Gary was going to motor up the walk to his house with the slippery conditions, his cane and his Bible, and I was trying to think how I could assist our tall friend into the safety of his front door.  I dreaded the cold  and ice and being responsible for his safety, because if the truth be told, this old gal is a vain thing for her own safety under such conditions.  We pulled up to his back walk and I looked at the expanse betwixt the van and the door and my heart sank.

“Gary, how are you going to get in there?”  I asked with great reservation.

“Oh, I’ll be alright.  Just let me off here, and then you can go on out there and turn around and go.”

“I know, but Gary, it’s slippery.  I don’t think you should walk that alone!”

He opened the door and started to unfold his lanky self.  “I’ll be okay,” he reiterated.  “If I can just get myself out of here–” He struggled with getting his feet over the edge of the door because the knee he had replaced just doesn’t work right.  “I’ll be careful!”

He got himself out and collected his Bible, and planted his feet firmly in the snow, supporting himself with the dependable cane.  I held my breath as he took one baby step after another.  I could just see him crashing down in the wet, cold snow.  How would I explain to Elaine?  He inched his way along and finally made it to the front door.  Relief swept over me as I saw him grasp the handrail on the steps leading into the house.  He struggled a bit with the knob, but then it opened.  Whew!  He made it!  This also made my heart sing!

So there are ample reasons on this wet, cold, dark evenig to offer grateful praise.

So this, then, I will chose.

A grateful heart.

2 Comments

Filed under Praise, Uncategorized