Monthly Archives: January 2016

Taster’s Choice® Coffee

It all started when I opened a fresh jar of Tasters Choice® Coffee and made the first cup.  It didn’t taste right.  It had an extra flavor of Vanilla or Hazelnut or . . . something!

At first, I thought it must have been something in my cup, or something that I had eaten before drinking that cup of coffee that flavored my perception of goodness.  But then I had another cup and another cup and another cup (over the ensuing days) and I was finally convinced that it wasn’t my taste buds, but rather something else.  “What if Nestlé® is messing with my “tried and faithful” brew?  What if they are improving it?  Oh, dear!  What am I going to do???”

Well, for one thing, I wasn’t going to just let it go quietly.  So I sent a generally undemanding letter of disappointment to Customer Service and was astounded to receive a very prompt, courteous reply, promising to look into it, and to compensate me for my disappointment.  Sure enough, it wasn’t long until I received coupons in the mail for cents off as well as one free jar of Taster’s Choice® coffee, my choice.  I was amazed at the speed with which this all transpired, grateful for the kindness of the people that I spoke with and the generosity of the company.  I mean, I’m not their biggest customer by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m just this common, ordinary Delaware Grammy, who decided to speak up for once, and I hadn’t been at all forceful in my telling of my disappointment.  But, hey!  Free coffee is free coffee.  I tucked the coupons into the side pocket of my purse to use the next time I needed to purchase coffee.  The thing was, the more I drank that coffee that wasn’t quite right, the better it tasted.  I have a feeling that there was somehow a layer of flavored coffee that somehow got right on the top of the jar and once I got through that, it wasn’t half bad.  And I really cannot bear to just throw coffee away.  I was really grateful for their generosity, but actually felt guilty about accepting the free coupons when I was drinking the coffee that I had complained about.

When all this was finished, Nestlé®, the parent company of Taster’s Choice®, sent me a e-mail, inviting me “to participate in a survey evaluating your experience when e-mailing us regarding Nescafé® Taster‘s Choice® Instant Coffee.”  I was delighted to do that, and promptly filled it out and returned it.  That was right after Christmas.  And I’ve not heard anything from them since.

Until today.

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And so, tonight I wrote Nescafé Beverage another letter:

Okay, you guys!  You really surprised this Delaware Grammy!  

When a big box showed up on my doorstep, I thought it was just a shop part that I ordered for my husband’s table saw, so I didn’t pay much attention.  When my daughter brought it in and set it on the dining room table, I thought,  “That’s funny.  That’s a really big box, and it says, ‘fragile’ and it says ‘This side up!’  I wonder why they are giving so much attention to a metal mitre saw guide!”  But then it was too lightweight to be anything metal, and I was really confused.  So I got me a knife and I slit off the tape.  I looked in that box, and thought my husband had gotten really creative (and EARLY!) this year for Valentine’s Day.  There was this beautiful basket with a wonderful bow, all surrounded by packaging pieces.  I started rummaging through and couldn’t believe my eyes!  There were coffees of every kind and description and pretty mugs, all wrapped together in this big wonderful basket.  What an astonishing  gift — and so extravagant.  You all just might convince me that complaining is lucrative.

No, seriously, I don’t usually complain about things, and I was somewhat remorseful when I thought over my reaction and ensuing complaint about my one (ONE!) jar of Taster’s Choice® Coffee that didn’t taste like I had expected.  How many times have I opened a fresh jar of Taster’s Choice® and smelled deep breaths of its fresh, warm, comforting essence and never bothered to tell you how superbly pleasant it was?  I don’t remember any!  (And I’ve been drinking Taster’s Choice® for close to forty years.)

So I am telling you now!  I’m telling you that I have to exercise self control to not open a new jar before the old one is finished because of how much I love that “just opened” smell. I’m telling you that I just fixed a cup of “Grammy Coffee” for my six year old granddaughter, who loves drinking coffee with me, exactly how I make it!  (Lots of cream and sugar)  (And since it is after school, I did make it decaf, but on a regular day, I just let her have regular.)  I’m telling you that I’m so satisfied with Taster’s Choice® that when it’s not available and I decide to try anything else, I’m sorely disappointed. 

And I’m telling you “Thank-you!”

Thank you for a coffee that my 86 year old Mama drank until she wasn’t drinking anything but water.  In her last illness, I would make it in my kitchen, put it into a pretty mug and take it to her hospital room, just to see her take a deep swallow, close her eyes and say, “Oh, Mary Ann! That’s so good!”

Thank you for hearing me when I complained that my new jar didn’t quite meet my expectations.  Thank you for sending me coupons for free product to compensate and a survey to see how you did.  (You did GOOD!)

And thank you for a most unexpected surprise basket in the mail today that included pretty mugs and an incredible array and display and variety of coffee.  I’m overwhelmed.

However,  I can never drink this much coffee, so the coffee bar at our country church in Felton, DE, thanks you, too.  Our oldest daughter stocks the supplies there, and it will be a wonderful addition to the Sunday Morning hot drink spread.  It’s just plain amazing!

Thank you!  I’m truly overwhelmed!

Gratefully yours,
~Mary Ann Yutzy

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Filed under My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW, Uncategorized

Snowy days and Doughnuts

“If it’s going to snow tomorrow,” said Certain Man to his wife last evening, “are we going to fry doughnuts?”

CMW, remembering the last time when the only help she had was his, and it was a bigger job than she wanted, said, ‘”Not if it it’s just you and me! I need more help!”

He looked a little hurt and CMW hastened to add that he had helped well, but it’s such a big job!  And between mixing and rolling and cutting and frying and dipping and such, it was really a big expenditure of energy. He said no more and she said no more and that was that.

Today, local family came and over the Shanghai game, the subject of frying doughnuts came up again. “Mom, are you going to make doughnuts on this snowy day?”  Said one of the offspringin’s.

Before CMW could say a single word, Certain Man uttered a very terse statement.  “I asked the same thing and was told that my help wasn’t good enough.  So I figured, ‘Oh, well!'”

Great was the general indignant outcry concerning the availability of help and the insistence that we should make doughnuts and how we NEEDED to make doughnuts.  I mean, it’s snowing, for pity sakes, doesn’t EVERYONE make doughnuts when it snows?  (Sue Kauffman, do you see what you started?!?!?!?  Honestly!!!)

So now there is doughnut dough rising, and CMW needs to go and get it rolled out and ready to fry.  Doughnuts sound really good to her, but how she wishes there were a way to get them without everything getting into disarray in her clean kitchen, and especially, she wishes there was a way to eat as many as she wanted without getting a pain in her gall bladder, and the lubs (lbs.) on her “Lubber!”

Wish us fair sailing, fine friends.  CMW is off to make doughnuts!

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The Train Goes Round and Round the Track, and Mama’s Canary Sings.

Whenever there is noise that covers the immediate area, Mama’s bird, Pretty Boy, turns on the trills and chops until it pulls my heart towards the memories of another room, sunny and comforting, with a familiar form in the recliner.  Mama is listening to that same canary, and there is a smile around her thin lips.

“I love to hear him sing,” she would say.  “He doesn’t sing so much, unless there’s some kind of noise, like water running or certain music.”

This week I needed to go out to Country Rest Home.  I parked in the front lot, facing the window where Sweet Mama spent her last days, took her last breaths, and from where her spirit took flight to Heaven.  I tried not to look at her house, tried not to think, but I knew, I knew that I was going to go over to the house that was first my parents’ home,  and where Sweet Mama lived for almost ten years alone.

I finished my errand at Country Rest, and sat in my car for a bit.  And then, when I was pretty sure that no one would follow me and that I would be alone in my journey, I parked my van in front of the familiar front porch and looked at the curtains and blinds in the windows and bushes and (now wintering) plants that look just about the same as they always have.  Except that there was no light inside.  Mama almost always had light.

I stopped at the mailbox and retrieved some mail, and then went in through the front door as I always did.  It smelled just like my Mama’s house.  Her smell was there.  I felt my heart quicken just a bit with the recognition of the sweet, identifiable scent of Alene Yoder’s house. I was home!

I came around the corner, into the living room and it was then that the import of her absence hit me full.  The house was empty.  From where I stood at the opening into the living room, there was a broad expanse, with almost nothing to break up the space.  All the way at the other end, a lone folding chair sat at one table space, and a hickory rocker was pulled up to another.  A small, rickety bookcase, that had served as her bedside table for as long as I can remember, was against a far wall, and two recliners were snuggled together inside the short wall to my right like Daddy and Mama were using them when they shared their nightly devotions together.  The silence was a roaring noise in my ears.  It felt like I should be able to call, “Hey, Mama!  I’m finally here!” the way I must have done a thousand times over the last ten years, and hear her respond from the next room, “I’m here, come on in!”

I began the trek across the big living room, into the dining room, my footsteps muted on the carpet in the deserted house.  And then I heard the sound of weeping.  A whimpering noise was coming from somewhere in my throat, spilling into the empty house, running rivers down my face and dripping off my wobbly chin.  The sound in my ears made me only cry harder, and I stood helpless against the onslaught of grief, suddenly fresh and raw and anything but reasonable and restrained.  I plodded into the deserted study, hovered at the door of her bedroom where she took her last, catastrophic tumble.  The floors were swept clean, and there was no vestige of my Mama there.  “Oh, Mama, Mama!  You are so gone!  I miss you so much.  I miss you so much!”  I stood where her recliner always sat and wrapped my arms around the empty space and brought them tight against myself as if I could somehow hug the place where she always was, but I came up with nothing.

It was probably in that moment that some things began to sink into my fur brain.  I realized that I was never again going to feel my Sweet Mama’s presence in that empty house.  I would have memories, and as long as the smell was there, and the shell of the house was largely unchanged, I would remember her, and think of her, and feel the familiarity of this place that held so many good times, but I wouldn’t be able to feel like she was there somewhere, lurking just around the corner.  And that was a big enough thought that I decided to not stay any longer.

I picked up the rickety little bookcase and thought I would take it home and see if Certain Man could sturdy it up and maybe it could be useful somewhere in the house.  And I got into my van and headed for Milford.  Home was waiting, and the afternoon was gray and chilly.  I came around the corner at 36 and 16 and considered stopping at Mama’s grave.  When all was quiet at Greenwood Mennonite Church and there were no cars in the parking lot, I pulled in and parked beside the brick steps going into the country cemetery, and walked over to the granite marker where we laid her body to rest.

I was crying again, and I traced the letters on the stone.  “Why???” I asked aloud.  “Why???”

And that was when I felt like I was held gently by my Heavenly Father.  “Are you asking why she went to where she is happy, healthy, and free?  Do you think she is worse off now than she was when she was with you here?”  I looked at the grass, almost totally grown back over the grave, and thought about Daddy’s body, now there for ten years, and thought about why the grief was so unmanageable on this January day. I thought about her there, in Heaven with Jesus and Daddy, with her parents and many, many friends.  I thought about what it was like up there, and wondered again just how it would be.

“There’s a city of light mid the stars we are told,
Where they know not a sorrow or care.
And the gates are of pearl and the streets are of gold
And the building exceedingly fair.”

The song rose unbidden in my heart and the next thing I knew, I was singing it in a shaky voice to the falling light.  The cemetery was quiet, and the notes were anything but beautiful, but I grew stronger as I plowed on.

“Let us pray for each other, not faint by the way,
In this sad world of sorrow and woe.
For that home is so bright
And is almost in sight,
And I trust in my heart, you’ll go there.

Heaven.  Our someday Home.  Her present Home.  I cannot begin to understand what was waiting for Mama that June night when she left this all behind and stepped into GLORY and LIGHT and PEACE and PRESENCE and ETERNAL LIFE.  But this I do know.  It wasn’t empty.  It wasn’t quiet.  It wasn’t full of any memories that made her weep.  Mama was Home, and I believe it somehow smelled and looked and felt familiar, but still so far beyond her wildest expectations that it’s unfathomable to us mortals.

I turned away.  Homefolk were going to soon be worried.  It was time I headed on out to Shady Acres where my life still is, and where the people I love still gather.  My tears were over for now.  There will be more, and there will be days when the grief feels fresh and raw and unmanageable.  I’ve come to know that it’s all part of the process.  I don’t like it, but I’m trying to make it my friend. There are valuable life lessons to be learned here, and I don’t want to miss them.

And so, tonight, for the process of letting go, for the part that empty houses and tears and gravestones fill in that process, and for the hope of Heaven and for Jesus, who made it all possible; for this and so much more:

My heart gives grateful praise.

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The Bear Speaks Hope

It was the picture of the bear that made me cry.

After the fire in our church building, a child’s teddy bear was found on a grimy window sill, abandoned, its face turned away in the soot.  I looked at that picture and it felt like that was the picture that best represented the darker emotions of my heart in the weeks and months after the fire:  Defenseless.  Violated.  Sad.  Very much in need of being cleaned.

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My life was so caught up, even from the time of the fire, with my Sweet Mama’s health.  From early December, until her death in June, I mostly dealt with my feelings about the burned out Church house by, a) not going there, and b) not thinking about it any more than I had to.  I believed that God was going to do a good work in spite of the devastation, and I believed that He wasn’t surprised or sleeping when arsonists crept into our meeting house and set it ablaze.  But mostly I didn’t think!

I was unprepared for the emotions that came crashing in over the weeks following my Sweet Mama’s funeral, as I worked at cleaning out her house, and found that the emptiness of that house, the stripping of the stuff that was my Mama’s, translated into another very real emotion of loss when I thought about the church house being totally stripped and remade.  It was so difficult for me that I could barely enjoy the first Sunday back, as it felt like yet another dear, familiar face was gone, and had been replaced by something that was, obviously, better and more beautiful — but it wasn’t “mine.”  And it wasn’t what I wanted.

So I’ve wrestled with the whole thing of “What’s wrong with me???”  This is a new start for our little congregation, a new beginning, a fresh opportunity to redefine ourselves.  It’s way more comfortable, way more convenient, way more esthetic than our old auditorium.  And the Sunday School room for The Littles is beyond anything that I have ever had as a teacher.  Beautiful and light and airy and equipped and spacious.  It’s a dream come true.  And it is definitely a whole lot better than the office at our temporary meeting place where we were surrounded by baking supplies and freezers and equipment, where we set up a table every week and did our best to make the room cheery and inviting.

And so, over the last few weeks, I’ve reminded myself that, at least for this Delaware Grammy, everything takes time.  And I’ve decided to not voice my discontent, that I would throw myself into lessons and Christmas preparations in my classroom, that I would do all I could to support and enjoy this new place and ignore my heart’s rebel thoughts that pushed themselves, unbidden, to the surface over the slightest little things that weren’t quite right.

One of the things I’ve always said to my children is “Grumbling is contagious.”  And I’m so aware that just one person voicing one negative thought can turn a tide in a minute.  There’s always something that we can complain about.  However, over these last few weeks, I’ve also learned that Grace extended is contagious as well.  And never was this more real to me than in something that has happened over these last few weeks.

I have a friend.  Loretta Miller, who (with her husband) has been a janitor  at our church for several decades.  I’ve watched (and listened) to her over this last year as she dealt with negative emotions following the arson, put her attention to cleaning our temporary gathering place with wisdom and discernment, spoke encouragement to our church family by seeing the positives that were coming out of the things we were going through, and also dealt with the death of two siblings during the months that we were out of our church building.  She has extended grace in tangible ways despite personal disappointment and challenges that could perplex.  Not too long ago, she told me that she feels so much peace and a sense of worship in our new sanctuary, and that it is something that she is enjoying so very much. That gave me pause to consider.  What was I holding on to that was preventing me from entering into this good gift from Our Father?

Then one day, a week or so ago, she said to me, “You know that teddy bear that was left on the window sill after the fire?  I found it among the things that had been cleaned, and I put it back up on the window sill in your classroom where it had been found.  I thought it might be kinda’ nice.  Maybe it would mean something . . .”

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It’s just a little teddy bear, and it isn’t even all that pretty.  But I looked at it sitting upright on renovated window sill in front of the new and sparkling window and it did this wistful heart good.  It spoke of all the things that were still surviving– that were strong and right:  Things like forgiveness, redemption, restoration, hope and a future.

My conflict isn’t over.   I’m not called “an old stick in the mud” for no reason.  But neither am I blind to the fact that God has often used very commonplace things to redirect this stubborn will and to remind me that I can’t go forward when I’m holding on to the past.  And if humans can take a picture as forlorn and sad as the first one, and with time and effort, make a tableau as peaceful and hopeful as the second one, think what God can do with a restless heart that feels bleak and troubled and discouraged.

“Make your way through these old ruins: the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple.”  (Psalm 74:3)  Once again the verse is echoing through my brain, except with this repeat, there is hope.  If Jesus is making His way through these old ruins of my heart, the enemy can wreak his havoc no more.  There is hope and a future, and I do not need to resist the unfamiliar.  God is already in the tomorrows of my life, and He will be with me in things just don’t seem “right.”  And just to think on these things gives my heart joy.

For a bear on the windowsill, for a friend who extends much grace, for God’s Word, repeating God’s Words to me in my head and my heart, for this sunshiney day and the blessings of life, for these and so much more:  My heart gives grateful praise.

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Words to Live By

There’s been a lot of talk in my circles about claiming a word from the Lord for the year ahead.  I see a lot of value in doing this exercise, and I am thinking about throwing a couple of possibilities into a hat and just pulling one out — sometimes deciding what is “mine” has about as much rational thought as that particular way of choosing.  I’m not saying that I don’t pray and ask God for guidance, or that He doesn’t give me insight into such matters, but I often wish for a soul impression so strong and so compelling that I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is MY WORD FROM THE LORD.

Over the last couple of weeks, however, (perhaps due to a couple of situations that I’ve been in or been spectator to) there has been a passage of scripture that has impressed upon my heart in ways that I cannot ignore.  I came across them in my Bible reading and was so convicted and compelled that I wrote them down for ready reference and intend to put them up where I can see them every single day:

“When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need — words that will help others become stronger . . . Do not be bitter or angry or mad.  Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others.  Never do anything evil.  Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other — Just as God forgave you in Christ.”  Ephesians 4:29a, 31,32

This, I’ve discovered, is hardest for me with my everyday living.  I need it when I am losing patience with Audrey and Linda.  I need it when relationships within my family get uncomfortable for me.  I need it with that Man That I Love Most, in the daily movements of life when there are sometimes things that irritate or make my selfish heart want to use my words to get what I want.

Words.  For me, they are the things about which I need to be most careful.  There was a time, many years ago, when Certain Man said to me, “When we get into an argument, I feel like I have a BB gun and you have a cannon.”

(OUCH!)

That was pivotal for me.  Maybe more than pivotal.  It actually hit me like a ton of bricks.  By profession, (and confession) I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and I understand much of His Teaching to be a call to love, to lay down my life for others, to be a peacemaker.  And yet I was using my words as a weapon against the man that I profess to love the most.   Not just a weapon, but a mighty weapon that left him feeling defenseless and wounded.  The realization made me heartsick.  Was this really how I wanted to use my gift?  Absolutely not!

But old habits die hard, and natural inclinations tend to rear their ugly heads in those situations we haven’t anticipated or when our reserves are running low because of our humanity.  However, the statement my husband made  was stamped firmly on my heart as well as my psyche, and I purposed that I would do things differently.

God has been faithful, my husband has been patient, but I’ve needed reminders and admonition more times than I can count.

And one of those times is now, so this is the scripture that I’m claiming for the year ahead.  I may still receive a word that I consider from the Lord (like silence, maybe??? Oh, HELP!!!)  But for now, I’m taking these verses.  Putting these words into practice will be a big enough challenge for this Delaware Grammy.

This morning my heart gives grateful praise for one more Bible promise:
” . . . My Grace is sufficient for you, for my Power is perfected in weakness . . .”     (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Without this promise, nothing is ever going to change.

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