Monthly Archives: July 2015

Incredible!SweetCorn, Incredible Sadness

It was two of the kind of days that seldom come at the end of July.  Cool, breezy, and so nice for the jobs at hand.  We worked in the refreshing coolness on Friday, making short work of over 1200 ears of gorgeous Delaware Sweet Corn, named (appropriately) “Incredible!” by some foresightful agriculturalist.

“I don’t remember ever having this nice a day for doing corn,” I said repeatedly to my sometimes skeptical co-workers, members of my family that are suckers for this kind of punishment on an annual basis.  They would look thoughtful.  Some agreed and some did not.  But no one could dispute the fact that it was almost perfect..  We finished in good time and put things aside for the 750 ears that would be coming the next morning.

Saturday.  By 9:30, a familial crew descended upon the grounds of Shady Acres and we got those 750 ears done and all cleaned up by three o’clock.  It was, again, a wonderful day .  The weather was almost as wonderful as the day before, the company was good, and the camaraderie was so sweet. It felt really good to have the year’s supply of corn in the freezer.  Then everyone scattered — taking the freezer bags of corn home to their own freezers.

Certain  Man, who had been working on his sermon, came outside to do the final washing and put the pavilion and driveway back to order.  I carried the clean wash baskets, muck buckets, pans, knives and put them away.  The afternoon sunshine was dappling down through the shade in the side yard and the pavilion’s cement floor was clean and wet.
corn day clean up

There were loose ends in the house to round up, and there were several loads of laundry from the morning still hanging on the line, warm and dry from the long hours it had spent there.  I stirred around in my house, started a bleach load of laundry from the day’s gathering and loaded the dishwasher.  I put away the corn utensils, pots and pans and felt that deep, deep satisfaction of a good day’s work.  I still needed to retrieve my dry laundry and do some Saturday night straightening, but I kept landing on my chair and taking breaks.

A little before seven, the phone rang and it was Eldest Daughter.  “Mom, did you know that Lem and Jess are stopping on their way home from the beach?”

“I had texted him, Chris,” I said, “and asked if they were stopping.  I hadn’t heard back.  I decided they had just gone on home.  I might have missed something, though.  My phone was almost dead and I have it plugged in.  I may not have heard.”

“Well, he said that he told you guys that they were going to be there around eight.”

Certain Man picked up my phone from the phone booth where it was charging and said, “Oh, yes.  There is a message here.”  He read it.  “It says they are going to be here around eight.”

Around the phone receiver, I mouthed to him,”Tell them it will be fine!”  And then went back to Christina and learned that the Alexandria Yutzys were hoping for some burgers on the grill.  That was fine because there was still nothing decided upon for late Saturday Supper.  Eldest Daughter was making some zucchini bread, and we decided that she should bring that on down to the oven at Shady Acres to bake and add to the late night snack.

And so the happy evening passed.  Burgers and fresh tomatoes and lettuce and garden tea and other snacks pulled from the pantry mixed with the smell of baking zucchini bread and a pot of Dolcés Jamaican Me Crazy Coffee.  I looked at this small gathering and was grateful for the gifts of this day.  The conversation and laughter and stories and the smell of good coffee wrapped around me with the love of those gathered there and I counted blessings.

Then, in the middle of it all, the phone rang.  I was surprised to see the phone number of my sister in law, Polly Yoder, appear on the caller I.D., and even more surprised when I answered, and it was my brother, Mark, Jr. on the other end.

“Mary Ann!  How are you this evening?”  It was my brother’s voice, subdued but strong.

“I’m good!” I answered, feeling good to the core.  “How are you guys?”

It was Polly’s voice as well as Mark’s that answered.  “Well–”  “We aren’t so good–”  “We’re feeling kinda’ sad this evening.”  And I heard the tremble in one of the voices.

Bravely, one of them went on.  “We just left Jeremy and Cheryl’s.  They got the results of the testing for Jase.”  I felt my stomach tighten.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  “. . . and Jase is positive for SMA.”

SMA.  Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  Our family already knew enough about this terrible genetic disorder. Jeremy and Cheryl’s sixteen month old daughter had the same disorder and, after brightening our lives for what seemed but a moment, flew home to Heaven one April night in 2014.  It is difficult to put into words how the days that marked her short live affected us all.  She had a smile that could light up a whole room, a deep affinity for her family that was a result of being known and loved and cherished and tenderly cared for all the days of her life.  Her short life spoke joy and value and God to us all.  It was the hardest of times.  But the valley was ablaze with GRACE and GLORY and HOPE.

Jeremy and Cheryl, their two sons, Max and Boaz, and Mark, Jr. and Polly and the rest of their family finished strong.  Their Anchor did not fail them.  And when we heard that there was another baby on the way, we all prayed for a healthy child.  It seemed like it would be the right reward for their faith and for their faithfulness in the storm that would have destroyed so many others. God gives good gifts to his children, doesn’t He?  He’s promised the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him, and delighting themselves in God has been the heart cry of this family.  I cannot erase the sounds of Cheryl’s voice, lifted in unmitigated praise and trustful relinquishment in a small church in Baltimore where we gathered to celebrate Ariel’s life.  There was a small white casket, and this brave young mother exalted a God who could do no wrong, who was worthy of our praise, even when we couldn’t understand.  Surely God would reward/honor that kind of faith.

He should, shouldn’t He?

He would, wouldn’t he?

Jase Marius was born exactly a month after his great grandmother went to Heaven.  July 16, 2015.  9 pounds, 9+ ounces. Beautiful. So incredibly beautiful.  I looked at his pictures, and searched for any clue of SMA.  I prayed that the testing, done once he was born, would come back totally clear.  I thought of all the things that would indicate it was okay. The truth is, SMA isn’t immediately evident, and all the looking to see signs that all is well in the first days of life won’t really reveal anything.  But I really thought it would be.  I thought it had to be.

But now, I couldn’t escape this report, these results.

Mark and Polly and I talked for a little bit.  The conversation around the table had stopped when my side of the conversation had indicated something was terribly wrong.

“Did somebody die?” Hissed Christina anxiously.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a very anxious Charis hovering at my elbow, listening intently.  I shook my head, and tried to reassure them, but they knew that there was some sort of bad news.  My heart ached for Mark and Polly and their family.  My heart ached for this old world where the very state of being human begs for Redemption.  These disorders of genetic nature happen because we are a part of a world where things can go so wrong — Sometimes because of our sin, or because of our wrong choices, but often because we are mortals and subject to the laws and accidents of this natural world.

And now I sat, the reality of what this little guy and his family were facing, crashing over my heart while the tears streamed down my face.  But we have a six year old granddaughter.  She was obviously troubled by my distress.  She sidled up to me and threw her arms around my neck.  I took her on my lap and felt the warmth of her healthy body.

“Grammy — what will happen to the baby?”

“I don’t know, Charis, but I do know this, that his family will love him, and Jesus loves him and He can heal Jase.”  Her eyes were earnestly seeking mine.  “But Charis, if he does go to Heaven, just think about it!  Grandma Yoder will be waiting right there to just snatch him right up and hold him and squeeze him.  And that will be wonderful, too.”  I fought back the catch in my throat as I tried to think of hopeful words for her.

And so the evening passed.  Lem and Jess left for Alexandria, Charis went home with her Daddy and Mommy.  Certain Man went to bed so he could get up and finish his sermon.  I folded laundry, stirred about and thought and thought and thought.  And cried.  Deborah came home from Shakespeare in the Park and helped me clean the kitchen and we talked about life-important things.  Mostly about trusting God when things aren’t the way we want them to be.  About letting Him be God when it feels like everything is out of control.  About knowing that He is ruling and reigning and controlling, even when we hate what is going on.

After midnight, I climbed the steps to bed, took my shower, washed my hair, and finally slept.  The morning was here before I was ready.  I came downstairs to organize the morning, and it felt like a cloud was covering everything I did.  I stood at the counter, methodically counting meds and getting ready to get Nettie and Cecilia up and ready for the day.

“Oh, Lord Jesus!” I was going over the same row for the umpteenth time. “This looks so big, so hard, so overwhelming.”  The tears kept falling and I felt so incredibly sad.  “I thought your promise was that this child would be okay!”  Somehow the words settled into my anxious heart.  “Okay???  Are you saying he isn’t ‘okay?'”  “I know, but we asked for health!  And you could have made it that Jase was born without SMA!”  Then the words from Jeremiah 1:5 kept coming insistently to my head.  They were so strong that I finally went and looked them up.  I heard what God was saying to Jeremiah and I knew that it was true for this much prayed for, much loved, much anticipated Jase Marius.

“Before I formed (Jase) in the womb, I knew (him). Before he was born, I set him apart for my holy purpose.”  Jeremiah 1:5 GW.  God’s purpose for Jeremiah was that he was to be a prophet.  What is God’s purpose for Jase?  I don’t know.  But I do know that God has a purpose for Jase.  And He will show us what that is.

The other verse that was cross referenced from this verse was this one: “I saw (Jase) before (he) was born. Every day of (his) life was recorded in (my) book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16 NLT

God’s eyes are on this family for good.  He is neither surprised nor dismayed; neither stymied nor baffled.  This is hard.  We don’t understand. But He is God!  He has a plan.  He can be trusted. He is worthy of our praise.

And so, today, this heavy heart will choose to give HIM (grateful) praise.


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The Story that is the Song

He took her very heart
into his young care.
And without really planning
or knowing he was doing it
he rewrote the staff and pitch and notes
for the music stirring there.
He encouraged a beautiful Melody,
then added the Tenor.
Their life together was
a (mostly) beautiful song.

And so the years passed.

They added verses and voices
and more harmonies
all carried by the sweet, strong Melody
and the rich, full Tenor.
Somehow they made the rest
of the world sound good.

Then one April day
the Melody faltered.
There were days and days
without a song.
And the Tenor could neither sing nor soar
without the Melody.

Somewhere in our hearts
we still heard the song.
So we stood around her bed
and sang it to her.
We prayed the song would
give her hope.


There came a day when
the eyes recovered the sparkle.
The spirit revived the spunk.
And the song
though tremulous and weak
in her damaged throat
went bravely on in the hearts
of the two we called
Daddy and Mama.

And this new harmony was
so beautiful, so pure, so sweet.
Like nothing we had ever heard before.
Haunting in its tenderness.
Tentative in its joy.
Careful in its hope
But tenacious in that thread of Faith
that defined the rest of life.

And then there came the day
when we stood around his bed
and tried to sing the song to a heart
that was already listening
for the Music of Heaven
He may have heard us.
But the other Music was more compelling.
And he took his full, rich tenor –
And went Home.

What became of the song?
The Melody was still sweet.  Still strong.
But I often saw the faraway look
Like she was listening for something, Someone.
And when we would sing the
Songs of Heaven,
The thoughtful look intensified.
Sometimes it seemed that if
She listened hard enough,
She could hear that familiar voice.
But no.  It was long gone.

But the song — The Song!
It went on and on and on and on.
I heard it in the sounds of the voices.
Of my brothers and sisters.
Our children.
Our grandchildren.
And I heard it still in the heart of
that Sweet Strong Melody.
My Mama.

And then there came the day
when the chords were broken.
We stood again, beside her bed.
And she, with eyes of
quiet intensity,
tried once again to speak
the words of this song
that her heart was
still singing.
We heard the message.
But there was no more music,
no more earth voice
for this song she so desperately wanted to remind us of.

We held her hands,
and sang her the songs of Heaven
while she struggled between
the loved and known,
and the Celestial Unknown.

She didn’t want to go.

But in the end, the Angel’s song won.
She heard the Heavenly music.
She heard, somewhere,
that Rich and Full Tenor.
Already in that Chorus, and
it drew her into the other world.
Suddenly peaceful, suddenly quiet,
she went Home.

These last few years,
She found it hard to sing.
But every day for almost six decades,
She sang a song to my heart.
A Song of Faith;
Of Hope; of Courage; of Love.
Of Heaven.

And I have heard it
so often and so long
that the music sings itself to me.
I hear it on sunshiny days
when the paths seem clear.
I hear it when the rain comes down
and speaks life to the earth.
I hear it when the night is dark
and I cannot find my way.
I hear it in the ice and cold
of winter.

I hear it still.

The harmony is
so beautiful, so pure, so sweet.
Like something I have heard before.
Haunting in its tenderness.
Tentative in its joy.
Careful in its hope.
But tenacious in that thread of Faith
that defines the rest of life.

How I love The Song!

But it will never be the same again
without the Tenor and Soprano.

One of my favorite sympathy cards from these last weeks.
Inside, it simply says, “In Sympathy and Hope.”

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Nine years ago . . .

Yoder Breakfast

On Wednesday mornings, various of the males of the Yoder family get together for breakfast.  Some time ago, our cousin, Joe Bontrager and his fair wife, Gloria, hatched a plan to have us all come to Uncle Eli’s house in celebration of the 88th birthday of both Aunt Ruth (July 16th) and Uncle Eli (July 20th) on the Wednesday that fell between those two days.  Another milestone celebrated in April was their 65th wedding anniversary.

Breakfast --   Mom and Uncle Eli's best

Uncle Eli and Aunt Ruth at the breakfast table, talking to my sweet Mama.

 Breakfast --  Chris, Esther and Ilva

I don’t remember what was funny, but here the second and third generations enjoy a chuckle. (Or is it third and fourth?  Someone help me here!)
Christina Bontrager, Esther Leese, Ilva Hertzler

 Breakfast --  gloria, frieda, chris
For all I know, this could have been the same chuckle, because this was the other side of the table.
Gloria Bontrager, Frieda Yoder, Christina Bontrager

 Breakfast --  Joan
I hate it that Joan had her eyes closed on this picture because she looked so GOOD this morning.
(Oh, well, she still looks good, even with her eyes closed!)
You can just see Esther over there to the left, and Gloria sneaked in here beside her daughter, Sherrie, and then, of course, it’s Joan Mills

 Breakfast --  Joe, Dave, Aunt Dottie
In Uncle Eli’s sunny dining room, left to right was Dave Hertzler in the blue shirt.  Next is Joe Bontrager (Celebrating his birthday, too. 60 years!  I don’t see how anyone who looks so young could be sixty!  It must be Gloria’s good care.) There is an empty chair there beside Aunt Dottie.  Uncle John had just gone into the kitchen to pass on greetings from Uncle David to those congregating there.  And at the end is Aunt Dottie.

 Breakfast --  Kathy, Clint and Mom
Ken’s youthful wife, Kathy, sitting beside my brother, Clint.  Mama was getting ready to leave to go to our house to do CORN (of all things!) so she was saying her goodbyes.  I understand that Clint’s behavior went slightly downhill after she left.  Maybe she should have stayed and kept an eye on him.

Breakfast --  table talk
It is my understanding that that misbehavior was egged on by the young man on your right, Ken Yoder, hisself.  Yes, sir!  He is talking to Uncle Daniel, very sedately and calmly.  But don’t let that fool you. We of the family all know that genial, engaging exterior is but temporary.  But what would we do without Ken???  Smile less, I am sure, but maybe worry less, too.  Beside Uncle Daniel is Uncle Jesse and then Aunt Gladys.

Breakfast --  lucy, joan, ilva
One last picture of the kitchen gals.  I am including this one because I believe it is the only one that captured Lucy.  She looked great, too.  So perky and trim.  Here the cousins, Ilva, Joan and Lucy enjoy the “after breakfast” conversation.  It was a sweet time, and we missed those who couldn’t be there.  Maybe next time???
(I surely hope so!)

        And then it was time to get home and get on that last day of corn.  But the good time gave me energy and the memories made my heart light as I went back home to the job that was waiting.  I am so thankful for my aunts and uncles and cousins and the in laws that have come into our family.  I am thankful for the fourth generation of young people that are coming on, many of them committed Christians, and concerned about living the life of the Lord Jesus to the world around us.
I confess that I missed my Daddy very much that morning.  He loved getting people together for Wednesday morning breakfasts, and he reveled in being in the presence of his brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces.  I came down the road to Shady Acres and cried some tears for what was missing there that day.   But while that almost kept me away, I am glad that I went.  The memories of him are sweet, and being with our family brings them back with new clarity.  And that is a good gift.  Thank-you, my family.

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I found this blog from nine years ago while I was looking for another post. It holds so many dear faces, and I wanted to relive that happy morning — Some of you, at least, will enjoy!

Delaware Grammy

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Golf Cart Rides, Little People, and Evening Praise


The summer evening is perfect.  Certain Man invites Delaware Grammy to go for a ride with him on the golf cart. Our only Granddaughter is chomping at the bit, dancing in eager anticipation.  She knows is fairly certain that she is going along.

There is a little guy here tonight.  He has a new baby brother and his Auntie Chris is babysitting for him while his Daddy is visiting his Mommy.  He had his turn to observe this new blip on his horizon, but he was more troubled by his Mommy being in the hospital bed than he was impressed with the beautiful baby brother.  He is always up for a tussle with Uncle Daniel, and tonight they run around in the way that Certain Man always does with little people.  I love how Certain Man is fully engaged as he tosses and hides around the corner to jump out and tickle and laugh.  He just likes little ones so much!

Charis is pensive.  She sidles up to her Mama and whispers, “I don’t think Grandpa likes me any more because he is being so nice to Jamison!”  I notice the whispering, and Christina tells me what is worrying Charis’ little head.

“What???” Says Grammy, more than a little indignantly. “You KNOW that isn’t true, Charis-girl!  Grandpa loves you just the same.  Besides.  Who is going along on the golf cart ride?”

“I am, but — ”

“Oh, Charis-girlie!  You don’t need to worry.  Grandpa loves you!”

Her little face was a mask of worry, and she shrugged her shoulders, unconvinced.  I heard a deep sigh.

Then Grandpa took matters into his own hands and said, “Are you ready?  Let’s go do the golf cart ride!”

She jumped up, ready to go!  But then little Jamison doesn’t want to be left out!  He begins prancing around, clapping his little hands and saying what sounds like “Me, me, me!”

“Aw, he wants to go, too,” says his Auntie Chris.  Charis looks a bit taken aback, but her cute little cousin wins her over, and she decides that we should take him, too.  She and Grandpa decide who is going to ride where, and we pile on.  Grandpa drives, Jamison is squished between us, and Charis rides in the back, giving directions.


(Not exactly a flattering picture, but oh, well–)

“But don’t go through the woods, Grandpa,” she instructs.  She has lately taken a dislike for the neighboring tree farm, a tangle of undergrowth and vines.  Certain Man has an understanding with the neighbors, and there are quiet paths and a sort of almost sinister beauty among the tall trees.

“Oh, Charis,” says Grandpa emphatically.  “We have to go through the woods!  It isn’t any fun if we don’t go through the woods.”

He heads out across the lawn at a fast clip, and she says, “Grandpa, Grammy’s gonna’ fall off!  Be careful!”

“Oh, she’s okay,” says this Grandpa on a roll.  “She won’t fall off!”

“I’ll hold on to her,” announces a voice behind me and I feel a little hand take a less than secure hold on mine.  I look back and see that she isn’t holding on to anything besides my hand.

“Hang on, Charis!” I tell her.  “Hold on tight!  Grandpa is driving fast!”  We make a sharp turn into the woods and I look back to see a look of dismay on her face.  “Hon–” I speak quietly to the brash navigator.  “Our girlie is worried.”  Then over my shoulder, I ask, “Hey, Charis!  Do you want to come up here with us?”

“Yes, I do,” came the instant reply.

“Just wait until I get up here to the edge of the woods, Charis,” says her Grandpa.  “That way you won’t need to walk on the weeds or through any brush to get around.”  Back out of the woods and into the sunshine, he stops and she clambers to the front.  “Where are you going to sit?” He asks her.

“On Grammy’s lap,” she asserts while doing just that.  And now we are off in the direction of the neighbors sunflower field.  The weeds are growing as thick there as the flowers, but we stop and Charis looks for the “perfect” one to pick for “Auntie Karen.”


We try hard to get Jamison to help find a flower, too, or to even just stand by one that is his size for the sake of a picture, but he wants nothing of it.  He marches right back to the golf card and climbs back in.  He isn’t able to quite get up on the seat, so he plants himself on the floor, ready to ride some more.


Well, that’s okay with the powers that be.  Charis has three flowers and she is ready to go.  Grammy is just along for the ride, so she is okay with going.  Our fearless Chauffeur makes sure we are all in our places and heads out for a few more quick turns and sharp ditch banks, enjoying the protests from his girls with that amused look on his face.  And then it is back to the farmhouse at Shady Acres.  The night is coming in, and Grandpa wants to work in the next  door trailer for a while yet tonight.  Charis is spending the night here at Grandpa and Grammy’s house, and Jamison’s Daddy will be by to pick him up after a while.

Delaware Grammy listens to the evening sounds of a family settling in for the night.  There is a bath in the laundry sink for a little guy, and a sleeping bag spread out for a tired girlie.  Certain Man and Youngest Daughter head out to try to get a little bit of work done at the trailer while the night is still somewhat young. Jamison has a story and devours some fruit snacks and animal crackers.  In the distance, I hear Nettie’s television, probably tuned to Family Feud while she sleeps in her chair.  Cecilia coughs to remind me that she needs to be taken to bed.  Charis is sleeping soundly now, and Caleb comes to pick up his boy, so Christina heads home.  The house is quiet except for the ticking clocks and occasional chime.

So many things to be happy about.  Family, little ones, quiet conversations, adventures that are especially suited for a Grammy as well as the little ones, love, and sweet, sweet memories of other times and other places.

For all of this, and so much more, my heart gives grateful praise.

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Slivers of Soap on the Matrimonial Sea

I dislike soap slivers.  It just isn’t handy to wash with a piece of soap that is almost done, but not quite.  But it also grinds my gears to throw away perfectly good pieces of soap when I know that if they were collected together, you would have the equivalent of a nice new piece.  Over the years, I’ve dealt with this in various ways.  I’ve had those hand-crocheted bags that are supposed to collect them and somehow meld them into one nice large piece.  That didn’t work for me somehow.  It probably wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, but I just didn’t like how it was working.  Most of the time, I try to stick the small piece on top of the larger one and intentionally squish them together until they are imperceptibly joined.  This has enjoyed fairly good success, depending on location.

We are not shower gel or body wash kind of people.  That is, Certain Man and myself.  It just makes the shower too slippery for any kind of safety.  Also,  when we had our knees replaced, the doctor told us that the best soap for bathing/showering was Safeguard.  So almost six years ago, we began using Safeguard exclusively for the master bathroom, and it has been very satisfactory.

I had used expensive body wash for Cecilia, always getting the high moisture kind to keep her skin supple and and moisturized.  A few months ago, she was standing on the bath mat while I was showering her, and proceeded to lean back against the wall.  “Whoosh!”  Out from under her slid the mat and down she went.  The abrasions were impressive.  She didn’t break anything, but she surely did huff and puff indignantly at me.  I was really puzzled.  It was the kind of mat with suction cups under it, and should have stayed put.  When I checked things out, I realized that there was a sort of slippery film under the mat and it was just as slick as all get out.  I immediately took up the mat, and got those stick-on things that give good grip, and stuck them on that floor in a geometric pattern.  And I got rid of that slippery Dove Extra Moisture Body Wash.

I started using that good old Safeguard soap and it wasn’t so bad.  In fact, I began to notice an interesting development.  Cecilia had a significant blackhead right in the middle of her back.  It had resisted all ministrations intended for removal.  It only seemed to grow bigger and bigger.  When I started using Safeguard soap for her shower, that ugly, black pockmark on her back started to shrink.  Yepper.  Just like that!  Until it almost isn’t even there.  I like that!  But I digress.

However, now that Cecilia is also using bar soap, and Daniel, and I, as well, the slivers just seem to add up.  So I’ve been working on trying to combine the slivers into a soap that I can at least use in the sink.  Every now and then, I will notice that the one in the shower is miniscule enough that it will almost not stay in my hand, so I will take the sliver out and replace it with a nice, new cake of soap.  And when Cecilia’s is too small for my liking, I will haul the remnants up to my our bathroom and attempt to join it with the others. I tried for a while to just stick it on the top of the new bar.  In fact, I worked hard at getting it to stay.  I usually thought that I was pretty successful but almost always, I would come to the shower to discover that it was no longer attached.  I gave up on that one and decided to just use the slivers at the sink where I could do a better job of keeping things together.

For the past week or so, I’ve had pretty good success with three slivers, working at getting them to stay together, but then I noticed that the one in the shower was needing replaced, so I grabbed it the other morning, soaked it until it was just a little bit squishy, and stuck it tightly on to the other three.  Success!  I had a very tight fit, and I now had four slivers that almost were equal to a full bar.

But last night, I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed and I looked down at my soap dish and was dismayed to see this:

“I can’t figure this out,” I said to my long suffering spouse.  “I keep trying to stick these things together and they keep coming apart.  I hate to throw away soap slivers, when I can use them, but they just don’t stay together!”

He came to peer over my shoulder at the offending soap.

“I know,” he said, without a trace of remorse.  “I keep prying them apart!  I hate how soap is when it is all stuck together like that.”

“But why???”

“Because it doesn’t fit in your hand right, and it just isn’t right.  I’d a thousand times rather have a little piece of soap than a great big one.”

“But Daniel, these are too small to really work right in the shower.  I just thought I would stick them together and that way the little pieces wouldn’t be wasted.  I had just stuck them to the big piece, but that didn’t seem to work so well –”

“I know!  I REALLY hate that.  I would take those off, too!” He paused as if he was thinking about what he just said, and then he amended, “I mean, they would come off when I was using them and that was irritating, too.  I just don’t like it!”

Alrighty then.  The Man has spoken.  I didn’t know.  I will mend my ways.  I think I will still stick small slivers of soap together for use at the sink, but maybe not more than two at a time.  Maybe I can get by with that.

And that is the news from Shady Acres, where I give grateful praise that the disagreements between Certain Man and his Wife are trivial and clean!


Filed under home living

Of Roses and Rainbows and Promises and Quit Claims

There has been a plethora of emotions almost every day.  And stuff keeps happening so fast I can hardly keep up!  In fact, I’m not trying to keep up.  Just kinda’ going around in my little world, doing my stuff; laundry, cooking, changing beds, taking care of ladies, talking to my husband and kids, loving on my granddaughter, missing the grandsons, and my absent male Offspringin’s and their wives.  Just living!

There is more than enough sadness to go around, to tell you the truth.  It almost seems like my Sweet Mama started some sort of maudlin march that has people joining in right and left.  Yesterday, another beloved and valuable and wonderful man, Herman Kauffman, folded his tent and went away to take possession of his mansion.  That’s all well and good (and GLORIOUS) for him, but what about the people who loved him so intensely that he suddenly left behind?  My heart aches for them and for this old world who needs more people like the four that have gone to Heaven in less than four weeks from our community.  Alene Yoder.  Richard Bender, Eli Bontrager.  And now, Herman Kauffman.

But life goes one.  Tomorrow, Certain Man and I will mark another anniversary.  42 years ago we married in the same church where some of these funerals have been held.  Tonight, I looked up from what I was doing to see Daniel come in with a gorgeous bouquet of yellow roses and baby’s breath and greenery.

“We had yellow carnations at our wedding,” he said.  (We did???) “But I couldn’t get yellow carnations, so I decided to take yellow roses.”  They were so beautiful it almost took my breath away.  And I would have much rather had the yellow roses.  We did have roses at the wedding.  I had worked for Warren Golde’s wife, Jane Ellan, and they had allowed us to come the morning of the wedding and pick roses from their beautiful rose garden for the bridal party to carry.  They were simple as all get out, and unadorned by anything except some narrow ribbon, but they were just fine.  We were still very married.  I looked at this bouquet today and the man that brought them for me and I gave thanks for the here and now and the living and breathing earthly editions of LIFE that I’ve been allowed to love.


The Bouquet sits on the tablecloth that I bought for my Sweet Mama.  She professed to like it when she was talking to me, but when she talked to my siblings, she confessed that she was bothered by the fact that the bugs on it looked so real.  I always loved it, and when she went to Heaven, I brought the tablecloth home and put it on my table.  It makes me laugh, and it makes me pensive and it makes a wellspring of memories spring up within my heart.

And then, tonight, after a supper of fried squash and chicken casserole that didn’t turn out very well, Youngest Daughter went to pick up a few groceries.  She was barely out of the house when she called me, and like her father, implored me to “Go look!!!  There is a gorgeous, complete rainbow out here.  You’ve gotta’ see it!  But you better go quick, or you’ll miss it!”

I took myself out over the slippery side deck where the moss makes navigation treacherous, down the steps, and across the lawn to the edge of the trees.  The rain was lightly falling, but there was this ethereal light around me.  And then, I saw it!  Stretching from one end of the sky to the other.  Perfectly complete.  This summer rainbow of promise.

I don’t profess to understand all this grief.  I know there is a time to be born and a time to die.  I know it is appointed unto man once to die.  And we all will.  But how that will be, or where Heaven is, I don’t know. And sometimes I could “lose my steady” when I ponder and wonder and imagine and think about all the things that I don’t know.

But I do know this:

A God who has always kept His promises is worthy of my trust. 

And here, with a grateful heart, once again, I offer up my quit claim.

The Promises are enough.  I choose to believe


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Profile Pics and Penguins

It was just one of those crazy things on facebook.  “How old do you really look?” asked the headline, bold and insistent.  One of my younger girlfriends had taken the test and it declared her to look like she was 28.  Which she declared to be her actual age.  I’m not gonna’ say what her real age is (I don’t really know, Judi!) but I suspect that she is a few years older than that.

Anyhow, my interest piqued, I decided to take the same test.  I forgot that my flamboyant Coleus was what I was currently using for my profile picture so I plowed ahead with the little procedure.  Imagine my surprise when the results came back that I look 24!  Words were thrown around like “Absolutely Amazing!” “Confidence”  “Vitality” and I was genuinely puzzled.  What in the world was going on?  And then I realized that this was all based on a pretty plant.  Not my sensationally youthful face.

Alrighty then.

I should have known.  I mean, I really am not under any sort of delusions of grandeur when it comes to whether I am young or not.  I think being a Grammy helps me to keep a realistic view of things when it comes to my youth or my lithesome appearance.  I enjoy a relationship with our granddaughter that allows her to say pretty much anything she wants to say to me and this is what she said to me one hot day last week when we were walking together.

“Oh, Grammy!”  She said with a conspiratorial giggle.  “You walk just like a penguin!”


This morning my heart gives grateful praise for a container of “absolutely amazing” coleus, for a 61-year old body that still does what I need it to do, for penguins and for granddaughters who don’t mind walking with one.


Our beloved granddaughter, Charis, reads to her Great-Grandma Yoder’s bird, Pretty Boy.


The infamous coleus profile picture.

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Of Ruins and Hope

A sign sprang up on the front lawn of Laws Mennonite Church last week.  It is strategically placed so that it is seen by traffic at the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Roads.  I looked at the bright red against the clean white siding and thought about how GOOD the outside of our church building has been looking.

Laws Mennonite Church Warfel Sign

Certain Man has been keeping the grass trimmed and has been weed eating and spraying the weeds and trimming the roses that he planted around the church sign last year.  To see the outside of our church, it would be difficult to tell how devastating the destruction was inside.

IMG_1598  IMG_1714I looked at the pictures, and thought that my heart would break.  But it didn’t take too long for people to get in there and get things cleaned up.




The thing was, I didn’t go in for even a casual glance until about a month ago.  We’ve been waiting on insurance and blueprints and approvals and permits until it has seemed like a never ending battle.  And I really didn’t want to see it.  But when our offspringin’s were all home for our stay-cation, we decided to stop by the church one afternoon and see how things were coming along.  I had looked hard at the pictures, imagining how it looked, thinking about our empty church, but nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotion as I stood and looked about the church.  The hardest thing of all was that, as I stood there that day, I felt so strongly in my heart that my Sweet Mama would not live long enough to see things put back to right and it made me almost sick.

It wasn’t the dirt and the smoke and the smell as much as it was just the barren emptiness and the lack of anything familiar.



I stood in the emptiness and wept for all that had been lost and for all that was so uncomfortable.

The other day I was reading in Psalms in my Bible reading and in Psalm 74:3, I was stopped cold by these words:

“Make your way through these old ruins: the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple.”

I felt God nudging at my heart, and I thought about the ruins of my heart, and how completely devastated I’ve been feeling at times.  I thought about how the enemy seeks to steal and to kill and to destroy.  How he seeks to wreck everything in the temple of my heart.  I thought about how it can look like everything is okay on the outside, when inside there is this barren emptiness and ruin.  And so often the ruin of our hearts is not at our instigation or even the intention of others, but rather the enemy of our souls.  Just as the plan to torch our Church had less to do with Joseph Skochelak and Alex Harrington than an insidious master design that has left a lot more in ruins than a building.  Last week was the sentencing for these two young men, and my heart aches for them and their families.

“Oh Lord Jesus!  Make your way through these old ruins:  the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple.  In the ruins of my heart, in the ruins of our church building, in the ruins of the lives of Joey and Alex, may you make order and beauty from the chaos, devastation and destruction.  Even as the sign has gone up on our church property to indicate remodeling and repair, may Hope and Peace and Love and Forgiveness all be the signs upon Your Territory, our hearts, so that those watching may see that you are in the business of walking through ruins and bringing something new and strong and beautiful where there was only ugly emptiness.”

IMG_1634. . . I will not leave you comfortless.  I will come to you.”  John 14:8

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July 4, 1970

45 years ago, on a blistering Saturday in Delaware, a very young Clinton Yoder married an even younger Frieda Mishler.  Pictures of that day show a groom sweating so much that his hair is wet and not even properly in place. The bride is demure in a simple, long white dress There was no air conditioning in Greenwood Mennonite Church at that time.  I don’t remember much about that day except how hot it was.

These years have passed, as years are wont to do.  The young love gave way to carefully pondered choices that made for stability and strength and influence and opportunity.  Rocky at times?  Yes.  He was the proverbial stick in the mud and careful.  She was fire and adventure. But the bond they forged stood the tests of time and one hard day in late October, it finished strong.

Today he remembers.  This past week he has stirred around in his empty house and felt the sorrow heavy as his compounded grief settled hard on his heart.  Last night he went to his daughter’s house where he will be gathered to his family, loved on by the people who are his because of her, and they will talk of a Wife and a Mom and a Mimi whose first absence on this July 4th “Day of Celebration” will be keenly felt.

I don’t know why she had to go so soon.  I feel my brother’s sadness multiplied by the events of these past weeks, and hear a dirge rattling in my head that wants to quell the reminders of victory and joy and eternal life.

It’s not a blistering hot day Delaware today.  There is a promise of rain, and it feels like a good day to weep for losses and to do some serious grieving.  I sit at the counter in my well-lit kitchen, and talk to my sister and write and think and see the flowers outside my window moving in the breeze.  A Blue Jay lights on the woodpecker block and the blackbirds fight at the platform feeder.  I need to get groceries and the household is stirring around me.  Everyday banality in the face of grief that helps to occupy my hands and divert my heart.

There is so much to be grateful for in the mundane.

I will choose to be grateful, too, for the memories that comfort, the promises that sustain, and even the calamitous grief that won’t always hurt this much.  It is penance done for love.  And having someone to love is still a best gift.

My heart gives grateful praise.


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