Category Archives: My Life

Designs on the Resolve

It had been a long day.  And as it got later and later, I felt some dismay creep into my soul.  I took a quick appraisal and decided that there were still some things that needed to be done before I climbed the mountain to my sweet, sweet rest. Middle daughter was home, but working, Certain Man’s day had been physically and emotionally taxing and the two of them were out of sight for the duration of the evening it seemed. Certain Man was within shouting distance, but Middle Daughter was documenting a complicated Hospice admission that she had just visited, and that rendered her pretty much oblivious to the goings on down in the main floor.

I sighed a bit (since Certain Man was NOT within sighing distance) and looked at the kitchen that I had just straightened a few hours earlier.  Since then, I had made a coffee cake for Certain Man, fed my ladies, picked and brought in some garden tea, and the kitchen was in disarray.  Over 50 containers of strawberry jam sat on the counter, ready to be taken to the basement and the tea hadn’t been made, so there was a small, green mountain on the cupboard where there were some small beasties crawling around.  There was still laundry to be sorted for the morning washing, and I was really tired.

There is only one thing to do in these situations, and that is to get busy QUICKLY and do what needs to be done.  But I’ve found that, while the sighs don’t help, and neither does feeling sorry for myself, it does help to look for things to be happy about. So I got busy and sorted some laundry.  Certain Man had already fetched the laundry from our side of the upstairs and brought it down to the laundry room.  (He’s always done that for me, ever since our children were little, and it is a big help!)  Our Girl Audrey had also gotten hers and Blind Linda’s into a big basket and pulled it out to the laundry room, which was another gift to be counted.  And Middle Daughter would bring hers down later.  In case you’re wondering, my angst was not at any of them.  It was just that this needed to be done and there was no motivation on the part of the one who needed to do it!  Uh-huh!

So.  Since I felt like I was supposed to stop sighing and be cheerful about things, I turned on one of my favorite CD’s and sorted the laundry that was available.  That was easy enough.  I like sorting laundry.  Especially to music.  And then I looked at one of those yet unappropriated laundry baskets and decided to use it to carry the strawberry jam to the basement.  I would need to make a couple of trips, but not FIVE.  So I started some water for the tea and then loaded my first sturdy basket with thirty jars of jam and headed on down to unload it.  The freezer needed some rearranging, but it wasn’t too bad, so I smiled at it and resolved to be cheerful and did what needed doing and got my first layer of jam jars into the freezer and then went back for more.  The water was boiling and I had managed to strip the leaves off of enough tea for a gallon, so I got that steeping, and then took the second load of strawberry jam to the basement and got it arranged where it belonged.  Wow!  That was satisfying!

Upstairs again, I found that Certain Man was off his chair and winding his clocks.  He was working his way around the family room, living room and then into the sun room.  I stirred about in the kitchen, finishing the tea and getting it into the fridge.  Then Certain Man said something about thinking it was time to go to bed.  Which suited me just fine.  He came out into the kitchen to see how things were progressing, while I finished arranging things in the laundry room for the morning’s chore of laundry.  He was saying something to me, and I was replying in my cheerfullest, brightest voice while I stacked some wash baskets around the corner from him when–!

Ker-thunk!!!

Down came a heavy wash basket right on my toe!  Right on my big toe.  Right on my toe that I had done surgery on to remove an ingrown toenail two nights ago!  It hurt so much that I couldn’t see straight, much less talk in a cheerful, bright tone.  I kinda’ stopped everything in that split second and didn’t say anything out loud.  (And NO! I wasn’t saying any bad words!)  But in my swirling head where all the stars were milling about I was saying, “REALLY???  (Oh ouch!!!)  All this concerted effort to not feel sorry for myself, (Oh ouch!!!) to count the gifts and to be cheerful, and this happens to me???(Oh ouch!!!)”  And of course, I had to say to my Heavenly Father, with my face all scrunched up and water standing in my eyes, “I just don’t get it! (Oh ouch!!!)  And why is this hurting so much?  REALLY much!!!  (Oh ouch!!!)  What sort of unholy design is there upon my honorable resolve???)  Thankfully, I was around the corner from Certain Man and he was sleepy enough that he never noticed the abrupt (long) pause in my cheerful, bright conversation.

After awhile he said, “You ’bout ready to go up?”

I took a deep breath, and discovered I was not going to die of toe-itis-meyeomia and decided to go for it.  “Yup!”  I said in my cheerfullest brightest voice while my poor toe throbbed and I gave thanks he couldn’t see my face, “I’m just finished.  Let’s go get some sleep!”

And so, we did!

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

Sunday Morning with The LITTLES

They came into the classroom, full of joy and smiles and LIFE. I looked into their eager faces and mentally reviewed my morning. It was going to be busy, to say the least. And lately, they’ve been so talkative. (Which I absolutely cannot resist. No matter how hard I try to stay on the subject, if I think there might be something one of them needs to say, or some sort of childish wisdom or insight, I cannot bear to shut it down.)

We gathered around the table, and sorted out the chairs and who got which one.  There was an extra again this morning, so the routine of “who sits where and on which color chair” was disrupted a bit, but finally, everyone was settled and ready.  A few months ago, as I was considering the whys and wherefores of Sunday School for these children, I realized that what was most important was that they have a sense of GOD in THIS PLACE, and so we’ve been talking about the fact that “God is here, in this classroom!  He sees us and He loves us.  He is our friend!”  And we follow that by singing the old song that my first and second grade teacher, Sadie Bissey, taught us so long ago:

Into our class
Into our class
Come into our class, Lord Jesus
Come in today
Come in to stay
Come into our class, Lord Jesus

So, this morning, as we were sitting around the table, I asked them the question that I’ve been asking them over the last few months.  “Who is here in our class this morning?” I asked them.  “Who is right here with us today?”

“Jesus!”  “God!”  The answers chorused around the table.

“That’s right,” I smiled at them.  “God is right here with us today.”

He was sitting at the end in his usual spot, and he looked around curiously.  “He’s not here today!” He said with a note of disappointment.

“Ah, but He is!” I told him.  “He’s right here with us!  Even when you can’t see Him, God is with you.  He’s here.  He’s with you when you are in trouble.  He’s with you when you have work to do and helps you.”

“We did lots of work,” he told me earnestly.  “We had to to do really hard work pickin’ up stuff in the yard.  And God didn’t help us at all!”  He shook his little head sadly.  He obviously had some feelings about this.

I pondered a bit and then suggested, “Maybe He did!  Maybe you just didn’t realize –”

“Nope,” he said decisively.  “He didn’t.  We did it all by ourselves!”

Oh, Lord Jesus!  How often have I been so sure that I was alone trying to do jobs that seemed big and hard?  And when I got done, I was sure I had done it “all by myself” when, in fact, I was under the protective oversight of a loving parent, who enabled and gave strength and tempered the job to my abilities.  Thank you for the reminder through one of my LITTLES that we don’t know the half of how your presence surrounds and enables and LOVES us in our “hard work” and never leaves us until the job is done.

Hebrews 13:5b-6a (NCV) “. . . God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’  So we can be sure when we say, ‘I will not be afraid because the LORD is my helper’. . .”

For this promise, for my LITTLES, for shelter on this stormy Delaware evening (and so much more!) my heart gives grateful praise.

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Filed under Laws Mennonite Church, My Life, Praise, The LITTLES Sunday School Class, Uncategorized

Another Part of my Heart

One year ago, Hortencia Mancilla and I were cooking together.

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In a facebook post, Middle Daughter, Deborah, noted that this picture is of “The mothers making the dishes they are famous for: fried chicken and mashed potatoes and chorizo y huevos.”  And she tagged Youngest Daughter, Rachel, and our “almost a daughter,” Yajaira.  Hortencia is Yajaira’s Mama.

What this post didn’t show was two breaking hearts, for it wouldn’t be too long until Hortencia and her husband would be moving from our rental trailer and flying to Guatemala to be with their 27 year old daughter, Yajaira, their son in law, Ervin, (whom they hadn’t seen in over seven years) and their two grandchildren, Nichole and Joshua (whom they had never seen).  On the night this picture was taken, Hortencia had come to our house, bringing the ingredients for one of Rachel’s favorite Mexican dishes, chorizo y huevos.  (We call it “eggs and pork,” but I don’t know if that’s literal or not.)  It isn’t something I enjoy, but it was eaten that night by Youngest daughter with big blue eyes bright with tears that wanted to spill over, and memories of happier times when it seemed like life could just go on like it was — forever.

And then there came the day that Hortencia and her husband came to tell us a final “good-bye.” The next morning, they would be leaving. It was an incredibly  difficult time in my life.  My Sweet Mama had already fallen and was in very poor condition. My heart was torn in a thousand directions. I could scarcely assimilate the pain that was crashing around my heart. Once again, prevented from saying what was truly on our hearts because of the ever present language barrier, Hortencia and I spoke heart language in hugs and tears and gestures.  Then finally, reluctantly, they began their last trek across the yard to their trailer home. I stood at the door of our garage, watching them go, tears flowing down my cheeks as I realized that the time of having them as our neighbors was coming to an end. And then I heard a sound that still wrings my heart and brings tears. I heard this little Hispanic Mama, sobbing huge wracking sobs as she picked her way across the lawn that we had shared for over twenty years.  America had been home to her for most of those twenty years, but her own homeland was calling.  She had children and grandchildren here.  Family in Mexico.  Her youngest girlie, in Guatemala.  Somewhat broken in health and saddened by life, she was heading towards a lot of unknowns.

I could not bear the sound.  Hortencia is feisty and loyal and determined.  She has been strong when I would have crumbled, resourceful when it looked like there was really no way through.  She held on to a marriage and made it work when lesser women would have given up.  And she has almost never allowed me to see her cry.  But that night, as I listened to the noise of her grief as she made her way through the twilight to a trailer that had already been pretty completely emptied except for boxes that were to be shipped, my heart ached with the sisterhood of motherhood and loving and losing and change and farewell.

She is often in my thoughts, even now.  And I realize that I am probably going to be judged for my stand on this whole thing.  I know that there are people who come into this country and live here illegally and collect undeserved benefits.  But I’m going to say it again.  Illegal immigration looks so different when it has a face that you’ve learned to love.  Illegal immigration tastes totally different in your mouth when it’s chorizo y huevos, made by people who feel like family.  Illegal immigration sounds totally different in your ears when it’s the laughter of a baby that seems like one of your grandchildren.  Illegal immigration is easy to dismiss unless you put faces, voices, fiber and family stories to the issue.

I didn’t do it on purpose.  I would probably been far more comfortable for these last twenty plus years if I had never rented my trailer to a family on a dark night when they came knocking on the door, asking for a place to live.  I didn’t realize how things were.  By the time I did, it was too late to undo my heart.

Tonight, this family I love is no longer in the USA.  Yajaira is in Guatemala with her husband and two children.  She is expecting her third.  She has made a life for herself and is happy.  Hortencia and her husband, Christino, are in Mexico.  Are they happy?  I don’t know.  I hope so.

Part of my heart is, and will always be with them and Yajaira.  And even though seeing pictures like this hurts, I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I have loved and I’ve been loved back.

And that is good.

 

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Filed under Family, Immigration, My Life, Uncategorized

It’s Called . . .LIFE IN APRIL

TAXES NEED DOING

WIND IN CRAZY AMOUNTS

BRANCHES DOWN, TABLES BLOWN AROUND, CUSHIONS ON THEIR WAY TO THE NEIGHBORS

NEIGHBORS WITH TREES DOWN

TAXES STILL NOT DONE

OGA’S LOST HEARING AID

HOURS UPON HOURS OF SEARCHING FOR SAID HEARING AID  (STILL MISSING!!!)

INTERRUPTION AFTER INTERRUPTION AFTER INTERRUPTION

TAXES STILL NOT DONE

BROKEN DISHWASHER 

HAND WASHING TWO DAYS WORTH OF STINKY DISHES FROM SAID DISHWASHER

HOURS OF RESEARCH AND EFFORT TO FIX SAID DISHWASHER MYSELF 

YIPPEE!  IT’S WORKING AGAIN!!!

TAXES STILL NOT DONE

AN IMPORTANT FAMILY DAY THAT GOT FORGOTTEN UNTIL THE NEXT DAY

REMORSE AND REGRET AND TEARS

FORGIVENESS FROM ELDEST DAUGHTER FOR FORGETTING HER “GLAD I GOTCHA DAY”

SUPPER AT RUBY TUESDAY’S TO CELEBRATE A DAY LATE

PLEASANT COMPANY, LAUGHTER, CONVERSATION AND GOOD FOOD

PROGRESS MADE ON TAXES.  STILL NOT DONE

DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT TAKING UP A MORNING

MANY DIVERSIONS, MANY SIDE TRIPS FOR RECEIPTS, MANY INTERRUPTIONS

UNDERSTANDING HUSBAND.  KIND.  SUPPORTIVE.  ENCOURAGING

TAXES STILL NOT DONE

ONLY ONE CATEGORY LEFT.  FARM/CHICKENS.  BIGGEST ONE OF ALL.  UGH

ACCOUNTANT APPOINTMENT IN 48 HOURS

BETTER GO GET BUSY BECAUSE TAXES STILL NOT DONE

LOOKING FOR REASONS FOR GRATEFUL PRAISE BUT HEART ISN’T RIGHT

DESPERATELY NEED A BREAK

(I THINK I JUST TOOK IT)

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Pickled Eggs and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I bought a five dozen case of eggs last week.  It’s getting on towards spring, and I like to make pickled (red beet) eggs.  I always do this with an eye towards the man of the house.  Certain Man does not like this particular delicacy.  In fact, I noted in a post back in 2008 that I had to endure persecution when I would “stink of the house”  making pickled eggs.  (You can read about that here; https://maryannyutzy.wordpress.com/2008/12/29/706/, as well as see a picture of a very young Lem and Jessica Yutzy, get the recipe for red beet eggs, as well as one for Graham Streusel Coffee Cake).

To be honest, not much has changed.

However, that beloved Eldest Brother, Clint Yoder, came to Delaware for a very fast trip this weekend, and he loves pickled eggs, so I weighed my options carefully and decided to make a batch on Tuesday.  I usually only make one batch a year, but some years I need more.  I suspected that without my Sweet Mama, I wouldn’t need more than one this year, though.  She was one who always loved them as well.  Perhaps that is one of the reason I make them  When the smell of beets and vinegar and cloves and cinnamon is “stinking up the house” it feels like I’m a little girl again, and it is almost Easter and my Sweet Mama is making up a batch of pickled eggs.  She always stored them in a big glass gallon jar, and the deep richness shone ruby-red through the refrigerator light at the back of our big old farmhouse fridge.  Something about that familiar jar with the same gold lid and the taste of pickled beets say “home.”  And so, probably for that reason more than any other, I feel compelled to make them.

Tuesday morning, the morning I decided that they needed to be made, was the same morning that Middle Daughter decided that she needed to replenish the supply of chocolate chip cookies in the freezer.  She baked over a hundred cookies while I moved around her and put together the beets. the  spices and hardboiled the eggs.  The eggs boiled and the beets simmered (well, in this case, pretty much boiled furiously) with the spices and Middle Daughter complained some about the fact that one of the smells that her Daddy hated the most was mingling with one of his favorite smells, that of Chocolate Chip Cookies.

“I know,” I said, trying to comfort her, “but by the time your Daddy gets home, the smell will be somewhat abated, and he will see that you made chocolate chip cookies and that will make him not fuss so much about the pickled eggs. I plan to have them out of sight by then, anyhow.”

We both know that he loves cookies or cake or baked anything with his breakfast.  His favorite thing is to put chocolate chip cookies into hot oatmeal and have the chips melt just a bit and then eat everything all together.  This is a Yutzy Family thing to do, although I suspect it may have its roots in their Amish heritage.  No matter what the baked good is, it is better with milk poured over it, maybe some fruit on top of that, depending on the baked good, but at least milk!  Yes, it’s a soggy mess, and yes, it can look pretty mixed up and disgusting, but that’s the way he likes it, and I’ve noticed when I’m with his family, that he’s not the only one that is of this persuasion.  I haven’t tried to change him.  It really doesn’t hurt anything.  And if a man can’t eat what he wants, the way he wants it, and when he wants it, in his own house, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs, if you ask me.  So Middle Daughter helps to maintain the supply and he eats chocolate chip cookies with his oatmeal and we are all content.  And he doesn’t eat pickled eggs, no matter what the supply, and as long as he isn’t called upon to defend his position, or smell them too long, or have anything to do with them, we are still all content.

And so the morning passed, both cooks accomplished their endeavors and by afternoon, the eggs were in the garage, cooling for the garage refrigerator, and the cookies were baked, packaged in morning breakfast bags of three each and in the freezer, and a plate for munching was sitting on the counter.

Mr. Yutzy was quite pleased with the beautiful cookies.  So much so that he didn’t say much about the pickled eggs.

But then there were several occasions to haul them out.  My Bible study gals and their children had some after Bible study on Thursday.  I had put two dozen eggs in that big gallon jug and I thought there was plenty to share.  The eggs and beets were exclaimed over and eaten and the jar went down considerably.  I checked my supply and knew that there were still plenty for today’s lunch, but not a whole lot more.  Maybe this was one year when I would be able to justify making a second batch!

Today’s lunch was another one of those wonderfully miraculous provisions for me.  Eldest Daughter has made Sunday lunch for us twice in the last few weeks, and the Sunday morning difference has been really special.  And this week at Bible Study, one of my gals said that she wanted to bring lasagna for lunch today, would it be okay?  Do we eat lasagna?  I was so excited, I hardly knew how to contain myself!  “Yes, we eat lasagna!  Yes, it would be okay!  Yes, please!  Yes, please!”  And so it was agreed upon.

She brought the lasagna, baked and ready to reheat, last evening.  And with it, a tray of homemade cream puffs.

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Wow!  What a treat!  With all the stuff that I  bake, these are something I don’t dabble with.  These looked absolutely delectable.

And so, at lunch today we had lasagna, a lovely tossed salad, the making of which was overseen by Middle Daughter, Deborah, Delaware Lima Beans, cooked the way we like them, and what was left of the pickled eggs.  Oh, and those cream puffs!  It was a wonderful dinner, shared by family and friends.  Oldest Brother, Clint Yoder, Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son In Law, along with our granddaughter, and Nephew Josh with his lovely wife, Lawina.  We had sweet conversation, enjoyed a dinner that was mostly donated, and got things cleared away in record time.  The company was delightful, the food was good, and one of the best parts of all was that the pickled egg jar was depleted of the last egg, and (almost) the last beet.

I looked at my almost empty jar and thought, “Wow!  This is one year I get to make another batch.  Maybe tomorrow I should get started on that, since Certain Man will be at work, and I can get it done early enough so as to not cause (too much) havoc.

So wish me the best, dear friends.  In this house of very little tolerance for the existence of pickled red beet eggs, I’m planning to courageously move forward and see if I can replenish my supply.  Easter is still three weeks off.  I might even have time for two more batches.  Especially is some of you would show up to help eat them.

Pickled Red Beet Egg Eaters Unite!  We are just as good as the others!  It’s time to let our preferences be heard!  Here’s to the glass gallon jar with the ruby red goodness shining through!  Here’s to the ones who eat them with relish!  May the tribe increase!

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Family living, home living, My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW, Uncategorized

The Perpetuity of Joy

It comes to me in the quiet of the gray of February.  Sometimes I want to push it away, to savor the sadness for a while longer.  But it insists on having a say.

And it whispers in the warmth of a pellet stove’s comforting flame.  I feed yet another bag of fuel into the waiting hopper and think about how happy it makes me to have this source of heat in a farmhouse that is drafty around the edges.

It talks to me in the voices of friends and family, and I hear the love and sense the care.  I can almost touch the intangible when I see their help, freely given.  A clean house, an encouraging note, an errand run, an understanding word, a listening ear, pellets brought into the garage before I had to ask, trash taken to the road . . . The list is endless.

I smell it in the warming scent of chicken cooking on my kitchen range.  The celery and onion combine with the smell of chicken and it makes me laugh to think that I got to the store at the right time to get two chickens for $.75 a pound just in time to make a big pot of soup on this gray day.  When I go to the freezer, there is corn just waiting to be put into the big pot of broth.  And I remember hot summer days and so much corn I wondered what in the world we were going to do with it all.  And then I remember the helping hands and the conversation and the incredible results with more than enough corn for everyone.  I rummage in the freezer and find the Lima Beans that  are carefully stashed from last summer as well.  I remember long hours in the bean patch, with the biting flies and  wasps and stink bugs.  The memories of having bean plants that good friends gave us, picking fat Delaware Limas that my strong husband planted and weeded and tended so carefully, along with the memories of the sweet yellow corn, make me happy down to my toes.  The green limas look vibrant, and I know will taste wonderful.  I drop them into the soup along with with the corn, shred two long orange carrots and put those in for some color.  The lid of my big kettle pops a merry tune while the soup simmers.  It makes me so happy to be able to make soup, enough for us and to share.

On a busy Saturday, my neighbor stops by to get some of that soup.  I’ve not known her long, but she is kind and she offers friendship and smiles and diversion.  We visit together while I fold my laundry and it’s an interlude of shared life and the joy finds me and reminds me how good it is to have new friends and neighbors that are friendly.

The days have been the strange mixture that I’ve learned is normal for February and also for this season of my life.  The sadness wants to crop up, unexpected and unbidden, to drip onto the counter where I’ve turned to try to hide the fact that, once again, I’m crying. And I think about the losses, and  I miss my Sweet Mama, and I want to just stay there in the sadness for a while.  I want to sit on my chair and think  about, well, stuff.  But often, when I go there, there is this little bird that chirps a greeting, and often sings a chop and a trill of joy.  He’s a grey canary, and he lived with my Sweet Mama for the last years of her earthly life.  On days when I’m missing her the most, I’ll stand by his cage and ask him, “Pretty Bird, do you miss her, too?’  He’s often very quiet while I weep.

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But sometimes, he sings.  He sings a song that speaks hope and Heaven to my heart.  He sings of contentment and he sings joy.  I listen to his song and think about another bird, no longer caged, but truly home and free and alive and singing.  I know she’s singing!

And through the sorrow, I know the perpetuity of joy.  It seeks me out, it will not let me go.  I will always miss her, and this life will always hold sorrow of some kind, some how (and usually, today!).  But it gives all of life a different color to have glimpses of joy where ever I look and in whatever I see.  Sometimes it’s so fleeting I’m not sure it’s there.  But usually (usually!) I can find it if I look for it.  And so, I will look.

And for this gift of constant joy, my heart gives grateful praise.

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“Classic Injustice Collectors”

It was an ordinary Friday Morning, January 22, 2016, to be exact.  I was straightening up my kitchen, doing meds and trying to make some resemblance of order on the counter where everything gets stashed, when a story came on NPR’s Morning Edition.  I was half listening, half off in another world when something caught my ear. For real!

The announcer was talking about acts of violence that were blamed on ISIS, when there  is no verifiable connection between the perpetrator(s) and the ISIS organization.  The phrase that caught my attention was this:  “The attacks dubbed as ISIS-inspired in this country have tended to be the work of what law enforcement officials call ‘classic injustice collectors.'”  (Dina Temple-Raston) (*See link at the end of this post if you wish to read the entire story) The commentator went on to say that these are people who have been nursing various resentments for years, and when someone or something happens to push them too far, they “re-invent themselves, using whatever cause will give them a greater sense of purpose as well as . . . publicity.”

“Classic Injustice Collectors.”  That phrase stuck in my mind as I reviewed some events that I’ve been spectator and party to over the last months, and with a pang I realized that it is that business of “injustice collecting” that often plays havoc in my life and in the lives of people I love.  As people of principle, it’s easy for us to accumulate the injustices of our world and the circles in which we move, and to have a sense of being called to bring justice. Especially if it is people we love.

Let me hasten to add that there are injustices of the world that we ought to address.  The poor, the prisoner, the alien, the defenseless and enslaved.  We should never hold back from doing what God has moved on our hearts to do.  But there are many other things that I’m reminded of with vivid (and regrettable) clarity.  There have been so many situations where I have chosen to let my feelings run away with me (“I’d rather be mad!”) or wanted my own way enough to withdraw (“If you don’t play my way, I’ll just take my ball and go home!).  Over and over again, it’s easy to think that people are being insensitive or intentionally hurtful when in fact they are just unaware of how a particular thing might be looking to us and might be unaware of what it is that we desperately want or need.

And yes, that can be hurtful, too.  To think that people don’t care enough to find out what it is that we need, or how we feel or where we are vulnerable can really add to our sense of inadequacy, unimportance or injury.  And so, we collect the injustices like it’s our job, tallying them up, holding them seethingly in our hearts and then, one day when no one, (maybe/probably not even ourselves) is expecting it, it all comes pouring out in the name of a cause that it somehow felt right for us to align ourselves with.  And people are surprised at our venom, confused by our alleged motives, frightened by our rampage and bewildered in the aftermath.  (Where did that come from, and why?)

I find this especially hurtful in the Family of God, but I’m suggesting it is nearly as prevalent here as in general society.  We are “Classic Injustice Collectors” with a spiritual twist.  And sometimes it’s so easy for me to justify what I am feeling with a Biblical injunction or instruction.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a part of a church family.  About how easy it is to carry a grudge quietly or to be so thin skinned that almost anything can set the wrong way with me.  And this morning, again, I was thinking about the words of Jesus when He said that we are to go the second mile, turn the other cheek, bless when we are cursed, pray for the ones who persecute us.  And the words in Corinthians when we are instructed to give up our rights for our brothers and sisters and that we are to forgive.

Forgive.  That’s the word right there.  The only way to living free of the bondage of having to collect is to forgive.  Where else in all the world is there a word that encapsulates a loosening of chains like this one?  I looked up synonyms for this word and some of them are extravagantly descriptive.  (“dismiss from mind”  “bear no malice”  “wipe slate clean”  “allow for”  “bear with”)  Words that would change the state of my heart as well as my outlook if I were to just live there!

I honestly believe that it’s impossible on our own.  And when I say, “that’s what GRACE is for,” I know it sounds trite, overused and simplistic.  But it’s still Truth.  God’s GRACE, extended so freely to us, is the means by which we extend grace to others, offer forgiveness, live in forgiveness, and empty out that collection of offenses.

We all have things that we feel we have to have, or we want deeply.  I really like it when I can feel understood.  Even if someone doesn’t agree with me, if they understand where I’m coming from, that feels good.  There are a few other areas that are very important to me, and I’ve written and re-written this paragraph as I’ve tried to defend myself against past charges.  It suddenly occurred to me that I was collecting offenses again, as I thought about complaints that have troubled me that I wish I could somehow straighten and disagreements over petty things that I’ve allowed to fester in this old heart.  Some of these are as old as our marriage.  Some are a recent as this week.  Will I never learn?

And so, tonight, once again, I turn a heart that knows the darkness of the suffocating blanket of offense to the light of God’s truth and the blaze of His Holiness.  May He shed light and truth and peace into those corners where old affronts and injuries (real or imagined) cower, awaiting the chance to rear their unseemly heads.  And may the freedom wrought by their dispersal be that which will lead more than this Delaware Grammy Home.

I’m not able to do this.  But I know the One who is.

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

 

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/22/463861480/what-does-it-mean-if-an-attack-is-isis-inspired

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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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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 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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