Monthly Archives: October 2018

HOME

Daniel and I got home late Sunday night from yet another trip.  This time, we were in the Finger Lakes Region of New York at a VRBO “big house” with Daniel’s siblings in our first ever Yutzy Sibling Gathering of its kind.  Daniel’s sisters, Lena, Rachel, and Ruth were there, as were Rachel’s husband, Ivan, and Ruth’s husband, Andrew.  Daniel’s late brother, Joseph’s widow, Ruby, was also there along with Daniel and me.  Eight of us in the house at Martin Retreat.  (https://www.vrbo.com/916045)

The house was spacious and beautiful and tastefully decorated.  It sported five bathrooms, two gas fireplaces, a huge sunken living room, plus a large kitchen and dining area.  It easily could sleep twenty people, and it also had a large, large room that could serve as a chapel, a banquet hall or a recreation room.  Stashed in a corner storage space were tables and chairs.  We discussed what in the world that room had been before a Horning Mennonite couple bought the property some years ago and renovated it.  (Maybe, we thought, a large swimming pool?)

Martin Retreat Big Room

The grounds were grand, too, with a pond, a gazebo, outdoor picnic area with a grill and grass and trees and flowers and landscaping. It was such a pleasant, restful place to be.  Even though it rained all weekend, we had a relaxing and special time together, and that was what we were hoping for, after all. (But with no Wifi, no TV, and sometimes spotty phone reception?  Yes!  It was peaceful!)

We spent the two days eating, laughing, playing games, looking at pictures, talking, and (of course) eating some more.  Then, on Sunday afternoon, we loaded up, said good-byes, and traveled home.  Daniel drove the whole way, capably bringing us the winding, mountainous roads from Skuse, New York, nearly 400 miles to our familiar, flat, Delaware farm.  It was wonderful to see home again.  We came into the farmhouse at Shady Acres and smelled the familiar smells of our house, saw the faces we love, heard the familiar voices, and we were truly home.

We got a good night’s rest in our own bed and in the early morning pre-alarm slumber, a dream about My Sweet Mama disturbed my peaceful dozing and woke me straight up.  I lay there in the warmth of our bed and realized afresh the wonder of being home.  It isn’t just the familiarity of everything, but the state of being that settles into my heart.  I’m home.  I feel safe here, surrounded by love and the ordinary things of life.  There are exquisite delights here, too.  A fire in the pellet stove, my fading fall flowers outside, and the trees that are losing their leaves, waving happily in the fall breezes, my chair that has long since ceased to be new, shelter, food, my laptop that is finally working right again, our own food in the fridge, our own sheets, towels and blankets.  The people that I love best.

And so, I thought about home and stretched the edges of my soul out to enjoy this moment, this time –!

And just as quickly, I felt that soul tug that reminded me about another HOME.  One that I profess to be looking forward to, and about which I often feel a strange, mystic curiosity.  I was suddenly struck by the whole idea of what it was like to come home Sunday night and wondered about the parallels to my Heavenly HOME.

What will it be like when I step into the place we call “Heaven?”  Will it fill my senses with the familiar?  Will I feel at home?  I so often struggle when I’m in a strange place with feeling out of sorts, not quite right, and that, no matter how wonderful the sights, how good the food, how comfortable the accommodations or how royal the treatment, it isn’t home.  One of the things that makes being away bearable is to at least have people around me that I know and love;  but even that can be as fickle as the insecurities I feel about whether they really know me and still love me.  Or not.  Is it sacrilege for me to hope that, along with seeing my Blessed Redeemer, arriving in Heaven will be more about a sense of coming HOME than anything else?  The sights that bedazzle, all the glories, all the streets of gold and gates of pearl, all that is wondrous to behold, somehow seem less attractive than just being HOME.

HOME – with people I know and love and that I know love me.  HOME – where there are no dark unfamiliar rooms to struggle through (on my way to a strange bathroom in the middle of the night) and where I won’t wake up in the morning wondering where I am.  HOME – where there are familiar sights and scents, where the memories aren’t painful and separation, disappointment, reversal and loss are non-existent.  Where sin, selfishness, divorce or death will not disturb the peace of being HOME.

How I love this earthly place that Daniel and I call home.  Shady Acres.  There really is no place on earth that I would rather be.  But even this place has things that I wish it didn’t.  There are some painful memories.  There have been days of disappointment and misunderstanding and chaos and reversal.  There has been sin and selfishness and grief to mar the landscape of our lives.  But with all of that, it is still home and it is ours and I love it so.  It feels even dearer to me when I’ve been gone awhile and come back to the familiar space that houses far more of my life’s memories than any other place.

I wonder if that is how it will be when I reach that other HOME.  If maybe, perchance, it will feel like I’m getting back from a long journey, and that I will find myself to be exactly where I wanted to be.  The One I Love Best – The One Who Loved Me Enough to Give His Life for Me, will be there to welcome me HOME, not as a guest, not as a stranger, but as a member of The Family.  The people, the sights, the sounds, even the smell of Heaven just might be even more familiar and welcome to this life weary traveler than our beloved Shady Acres could ever be.

I do not have a “death wish.”  I truly do love the people in my life and I love living.  But when I think about Heaven, and that this sometimes restless and often pensive soul of mine will neither fidget nor lament ever again — well, that’s worth pondering.

Take notice, my brothers and sisters.  Think about that HOME!  Think about all the comforts of home here and imagine HOME without any of the negatives and all of the positives and so much more!  Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us.  He’s expecting us.  He wants us there.  Not because we are perfect or even because we are (as most people think they are) “at least marginally good.”  He wants us because we belong to Him.  We are a part of His Family, and He wants us there, with Him.

Revelation 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

This, I believe.

And my heart gives grateful praise.

 

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End of Summer

It was freezing in the bean patch on Monday.  The wind was blowing through the vines, and my stiff fingers scrambled to find ANY beans that would be worth picking or shelling.  As I’ve noted before, beans are precious this year, and it was tempting to pick everything, even the ones that showed as big as a pencil eraser when held against the late October sun.  It was getting colder and colder as the sun slid behind the barn and I finished the last plant, gave the patch a final check and, shivering, picked up my bucket of beans and headed to the house.  I set the bucket in the laundry room, and got the early evening work done.  We were invited to Jesse and Christina’s house for supper. Those beans were going to have to wait.

It was a pleasant evening in the “Big Bontrager House On Shawnee Road.”  Christina had made taco soup and provided all the amenities – chips, sour cream, cheese and the ever present hot sauce for Jesse.  The food was hot and comforting, and the company pleasant.  Charis found a little green inchworm making its way across my blouse and there was some excitement until it was dispatched.  The evening was peaceful, though.  We finished supper, cleared the table and Christina dumped a 500 piece puzzle on the table.  We had a great time trying to piece it all together.  We finished it before leaving for home!

When we got home, all I wanted to do was collapse in my chair, but Certain Man picked up a flat cake pan, pulled the bucket of beans up close to his family room recliner, and set to work, throwing the empty shells into a trash can that he had appropriated for the job.

“Oh, Daniel!’ I said mournfully, looking at that bucket of beans. “I was thinking of just letting those until tomorrow.”

“Might as well get ’em done,” he said, in his best matter of fact tone.  I knew he didn’t feel like shelling beans.  His shoulder hurt from where he had pulled a muscle and then worked it too hard in his chicken house.  The more I demurred, the more determined he became.  “You don’t have to help me,” he said, shelling away.  “I’ll be just fine.”

Yes. I did.

I got my own flat pan and pulled up a chair and set to work.  It was slow, and the beans were mostly little.  Certain Man mentioned the smallness and the difficulty with which he got them out.  “And it’s hard not to break them,” he said, and it was the truth!

We worked our way through that bucket, and I gathered our two pans into a plastic bag and weighed it.  Not quite two pounds from a big bucket.  I sighed, and put them into the fridge to await the final picking of our second patch that is out behind the chicken house.

Tuesday was warmer, and I was itching to get out there into the patch and get my last picking done.  The day was full with shopping for Operation Christmas Child, catching up from all the many things that always go on around here, talking to friends and trying not to fall asleep on my feet.  (It’s been extremely short on sleep around here!)  Finally, around 4 pm, I got out to my back bean patch.  The beans were hanging thick in places, but the story was pretty much the same.  Lots of bean pods, but almost no beans in them. This back patch was an extreme disappointment all summer, but in the last month it perked up, and looked promising.  I kept hoping that a frost would hold off until I got the most I possibly could get, but that train had already left the station!  On two different mornings, Certain Man had gone out and sprayed everything down, but the frost was severe, and the damage was beyond the point of spraying vegetation off before the sun hit it to save them from being killed off by the frost.

However, it was warmer and I was working against a deadline, so I picked away, being somewhat more discretionary about the size of the beans that went into my trusty bucket.  I finished shortly before five o’clock and drove the golf cart and my generous half bucket of beans up to the farmhouse.  Sister in law, Lena, attacked that bucket of beans while I got some supper around, and the evening filled up quickly.  Our granddaughter, Charis, was with us for supper while her parents were looking at some furniture.  Deborah was working a 16 hour shift.  There was a puzzle on the sun room table calling the names of people who shall remain anonymous, and before all was said and done, Certain Man pitched in and helped Lena finish the beans.  She was suffering from some serious back pain that nothing seemed to alleviate, and I was relieved to see that they were finished.  I put the two nights’ worth together in a gallon sized bag and decided to do them after things settled down.

It had been a long day, and I was weary.  I looked at my kitchen that was in a state of minor disarray, and wondered if I should just let everything and do the beans, but knew I needed the counter space to work on as well as the sink areas to cool the beans once they had been blanched.  So I loaded the dishwasher, washed up some stray things that didn’t really fit into the dishwasher, and started in on the beans.  I hauled my big pot from the lazy Susan, and filled it a little over half with water and put it on my “fast boil” burner.  I washed and sorted the beans, and finally had them in my big strainer, ready to dump into my pot of boiling water.

Life just happens sometimes.  And it isn’t always easy or nice, or organized or explicable.  This was one of those times.  I hauled my big strainer up over my rapidly boiling water to dump it in and suddenly, like someone grabbed the tip and sent it flying, my trusty strainer let me down.  I’ve used it all summer without needing to take much notice, but it must have just “had enough” because it somehow reached out and grabbed the edge of that kettle, and the next sound I heard was lima beans, bouncing all over the kitchen floor, rolling in all directions and sounding like a sudden downpour of rain.  I quickly righted the oblong strainer and set it down on its legs.  I looked into the big pot and saw one (1) lonely bean swimming around in the boiling water.  I looked at that floor where lima beans were scattered from Linda’s chair to the laundry room door, under the stove and under the refrigerator, and didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

“Well!  This is a fine kettle of fish,” I said to myself ruefully.  “What in the world am I going to do?”  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was no way that I was ever going to throw them away.  So the only other option was to sweep them up carefully, wash them thoroughly, and go through them with a persnickety look and salvage them.  So I got my trusty Stanley broom and swept everything up into a dustpan, dumped them into a second strainer where I proceeded to wash and wash, and then gave them all a stern looking over, picking over, and finally got them into the kettle and blanched.  I took them out and cooled them and got them into bags for the freezer.  I had three more for my seasonal collection of lima beans.  I wrote, “End of the Season-2018” on the three bags, and looked at the tiny beans inside and wondered how I would use them. Oh, well.  I wrote “3 bags” up on my calendar on October 23rd, and tallied up the seasonal totals. My final count for the summer was 36 bags.  They probably averaged about 16 ounces a piece, and I needed to be content. (I have friends ask, “How many cups does 16 ounces equal?”  I would estimate almost 3 cups.  But not quite.)

I took my tired self to bed and fell fast asleep.  I wouldn’t need to think about picking any more beans this whole season.  No more picking, no more shelling, no more washing, blanching, cooling, packaging or freezing.

On more than one count, my heart gives grateful praise.

 

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Birthday Musings – A Best Gift

It’s been an eventful two weeks in the lives of this Delaware Grammy and her family.  There have been incredible answers to prayer, as well as challenging things to countenance.

Two weeks ago today (Tuesday, October 2nd) we had a mind-boggling answer to prayer when there was a meeting in Ohio regarding the life plans for our foster grandbaby, “BabySweete.”  Five times, she was to be placed in a kinship placement, and five times the plan was changed.  That morning, as I was praying, I felt an incredible sense of peace as I thought about the coming meeting.  (What is there about Tuesday morning prayer times?  If you read my post from September 28th, there was another momentous prayer time when I did NOT feel exactly peaceful!  But this time it was different.)

“Lord Jesus,” I wrote in my prayer journal, “Now it’s Tuesday and I do not feel panic, and for that, I praise you.  You are the God who cares, who knows.  You are the God who sees and oversees.  You are the God who controls and reigns and is the Blessed,  Highest Authority– And you will do what is right, in your way and in your time.  May all of us who love BabySweete hold onto that reality.  We do not know the future — but that doesn’t keep us from loving now!  And so we beg, we entreat, we pray for your Holy Spirit to be present in the room today where strangers to BabySweete will determine her life course.  May we not see it as “strangers” but rather a team of people, gathering with factual information, directed by an Unseen Force.  May we see it as where decisions will be made that will be best for BabySweete, as well as her whole family, Lord Jesus.  Thank you that you are a big enough and wise enough God that what is best for BabySweete will not contradict what is best for everyone concerned.  How very much we need you today!”

The morning passed, and there finally was a text from our daughter in law, Regina. I was in the kitchen, freezing beans or something or other when this text came through:

“They are keeping BabySweete with us and filing for permanent custody!”

What a flood of relief and delight swept over me as I shrieked and laughed and cried and even might have done some dancing!   I was too happy to think straight!  And no, this isn’t the end pf the conflict, but it certainly is a good beginning place for Raph and Gina.  Our collective family continues to PRAY, and that is still a “Best Gift!”

The story grows long, and I’m very sleepy.  I’m going to bed.  So this is segment one of my birthday musings, and I will add more later!

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