Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another 31 Days Series

Well friends, I have decided - over much cappaccino, apples and peanut butter, cheese sticks, crackers, and such like - to take up another 31 Day writing challenge. Actually, it was more over a word in my ear and much thought and prayer, but I thought the picture looked cool :)

So, yes. I think I mentioned the idea awhile back, and here we are at the beginning of January and I've put my hand to the plow and I shan't look back! Actually, I have a pretty good idea that I will look back, but I promise I won't turn back, how's that? Its another subject that, I've decided, needs to be written out for my own personal benefit more than anyone else's. Its something that has been turning and evolving and developing in my mind over the past 3 years or so, and, hopefully, in writing it out I can sort through and understand what I believe in my own heart.

You are more than welcome to listen in these next 31 days. I invite your input, your questions, your arguments, your opinions.... I doubt that this is a subject we are all going to agree on perfectly, and that's ok!

Several things I might mention: I am not going to be posting links on facebook every day. I don't know if I can explain all the "why" of that but that's what I've decided. Mostly, I guess, I don't want you to read along just because it's something that shows up in front of your face every day. If you want to read it, you can find it - fair enough? :) Also, I might choose to post every other day, or some other version of "writing for a whole month", we'll see.

Please pray for me. I'm excited about sorting out and making sense of my thoughts and ideas but I'm feeling very vulnerable and scared as well. I am titling this series --- 31 Days: What Makes a Mennonite a Mennonite?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

God is Light, and God is Love

It was at a place called Faith Mission Home, down in the dungeon of a basement in the little hole in the wall called "C School" where the words in the simple, old, black song book suddenly spoke their truth. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I sat down there every day, you see, at my round table with the chair in the "teacher" position. All but one of the children who entered the door and sat across from me were unable to speak, thus my day often passed without a lot of verbal conversation.

So it was, that I took to looking through the old, black song book in my spare moments. I loved to sing, and that dear old song book, The Christian Hymnal, held a link to home, as that was the song book we used at the church I attended from little up. I would flip through the pages, pencil in hand, and check off every number I knew from Sunday after Sunday spent singing from the faithful, old, black book.

One day a little song suddenly grabbed my attention. Number 86 it was, and it only took up half the page. The words had never really penetrated my consciousness before, but suddenly, there in that little classroom, they seemed to glow with depth and meaning:

God is love, His mercy brightens
All the paths in which we move;
Bliss He forms, and woe He lightens;
God is light, and God is love.

Chance and change are busy ever;
Worlds decay, and ages move;
But His mercy waneth never;
God is light, and God is love.

E'en the hour that darkest seemeth
Will His changeless goodness prove;
From the mist His brightness streameth;
God is light, and God is love.

He with earthly cares entwineth
Hope and comfort from above;
Everywhere His glory shineth;
God is light, and God is love.

Yesterday morning in church I held another song book. It was black in color, yes, but not the same dear old book I grew up with. It's pages are not as familiar to me, it doesn't hold all the old, familiar songs of my childhood. But, there it was - that song! As the voices around me sang out the familiar words, I sat and soaked up the glorious beauty and let the tears trickle down my face, and I remembered C School and the day those words broke through to my consciousness ...... Take a moment. Read them again. They are beautiful!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Prayer That Never Fails

Wouldn't it be fun to play God sometimes? I wonder how different the year 2014 would look for me if God would have handed the power from His hands to mine? I'm pretty certain I wouldn't have done everything the way He did, that's for sure!

I dare say there'd be at least two people still with us here on earth, instead of in His presence. And I would certainly have worked several miracles in order to bring at least two others into His Kingdom, instead of wandering around in darkness. I'm pretty sure I would have saved myself a lot of grief and anger and mistakes and drama. I might have even dropped a new house into my lap, who knows?

Sometimes I want to just wring God's arm to *make* some things happen! And sometimes I wonder why I bother to even ask at all. Sometimes my heart aches over the things that are completely out of my hands; the things that must simply be left in His sovereign ones. And sometimes my heart grows weary over the things that I should be doing something about; the ones that take action on my part.

Did you know there is a prayer that never fails? I know it, but I forget sometimes. It's very simple - only four words. But in those four words lies the answer to all the prayers in the world:

Thy Will Be Done.

No more arm twisting, no more despair, no more anger, no more demanding, no more struggling.

Thy Will Be Done.

Not a nonchalant, who cares, do whatever you want, I give up - "thywillbedone", but a trusting, expectant, hand open, heart willing - "Thy Will Be Done."

It never fails. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

It doesn't "feel" like Christmas around here. There's no big plans, no traveling, no hubub of excitement. I feel a little tired and a little sad. My throat is determined to have a lump in it and my eyes seem to produce wetness without notice. It's not that we've ever been big Christmas celebrators - we don't usually do gifts and our decorations and fanfare are modest to non existent. Still, Christmas evokes warm memories that invariably include family and this year there is a gaping hole in the family circle.

We have no big plans for these two weeks of vacation. In spite of that, I'm determined to make warm memories for our children to someday look back on happily. So far, there's been a leisurely trip to the library, lots of table games, a little candy making, an "art class" which produced the paper poinsettias, plates of goodies for random snacks, stories read aloud, "fancy" table settings and decorations by little girlies......little things that I hope will someday be included in the fuzzy haze of warm Christmas / Vacation memories.

Thank you, my readers, for sharing the joys and sorrows of this year with me. Your input and encouragement have been a blessing in my life! Wishing His joy and peace to each one of you these last weeks of 2014 and many blessings in the New Year!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Cookies Revolutionized

Thanks to Shaunda at http://growingingrace2gether.blogspot.com I am about to change your life forever in the Christmas cookie department! :) Thanks to her inspiration, decorating 12 dozen sugar cookies turned out to be a breeze and they looked cute too!

Making Christmas cut outs wasn't something we did at home. I think I've done them once with my children and not only were we sick of frosting and sprinkles by the time we were done, I think we were all rather grouchy too. Not that that had anything to do with the mom's attitude or anything, but we won't go there! I did find a recipe I like for sugar cookies that you drop by tablespoon instead of rolling and cutting, but the frosting and sprinkles were still a trial!

Enter Shaunda and her great idea, just when I had signed up to make 8 dozen sugar cookies for the men in prison ---- All you need to do is take a freezer bag (or decorator bag), fill with frosting, twist closed, snip off the end and start making squiggles! Easy peasy and looks so much nicer than the crooked, smeary mess made with knives in children's hands. They went so well I made another batch just for us! :) The squiggles look just as cute on cut out cookies...

So, quit dreading the "Christmas cookie project" and have some fun with your littles! Oh, and don't know what to do with the leftover frosting? Open wide! :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giveaway Winner!

You lovely people made my weekend! You really did. To be honest I was a little afraid that nobody would comment and my idea would fall flat cause, well, would anybody really want this stuff?? So it was such fun to have a new comment pop up every so often through out the weekend!

Seventeen ladies commented (either here or elsewhere) and told me something their mom likes. It was very interesting to see names of people I don't know at all and some that I recognize but had no idea were readers here! You ladies who don't like to leave comments in public, I am impressed that you stepped out and honored me with a comment. You deserve a prize just for that! I briefly considered splitting up the goodies between all of you but I didn't think that would be quite fair :)

So, anyway, the winner: Sharon Mast!! :) Sharon and her husband and family spent many years going to the same church in AR as my family did, so this is rather special! Email me your address at christopherbethany@juno.com and I'll get your package sent your way very soon, Sharon :) Or, if you want to do what my cousin aimed to do if she won - give it to her mom - you can get me your mom's address and I'll send it to her!

Thanks again all of you. I think I should do a giveaway once a month just to cheer me up! You should start a blog just to try it yourself someday ....or you could always just give something away to a friend or something :) Blessings on your week...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom! **Giveaway**

Today would have been my Mom's 71st birthday... In honor of her, I decided to do a little giveaway here today! I'd like to say I've been planning this for weeks, carefully selecting the perfect items in her memory and having so much fun planning it all... Truth is, I got the idea *cough cough* yesterday.

Yesterday was not a good day. Charles slept terrible the night before (and the night before that...) and I was so tired! It was a dreary, cold day and I hate being cold. Life felt really messy and hard and a long talk a couple days before had left me with too much worry on my mind. Tears felt just under the surface all day and any little thing threatened to send me over the edge. I've been unable to write lately, and was thinking about blogging and Mom's birthday being today. In the middle of that, this idea popped into my head -- "I should do a giveaway for mom's birthday tomorrow!!" Uh, yeah. Great idea! But give what??

I looked around my house...a book? Hmmm...nothing. It needs to be something mom would have liked. The extra "Little Lavina" paper doll I have? Kinda neat, but who would want it? I texted my sister with my blues and she came up with an idea (knew she would!). How about a "Care Package" with things that Mom liked?

Perfect! So, here you are. In honor of my Mom and the fact that I'm missing her today on her birthday, leave me a comment telling me something Your Mom especially loves and I'll enter you in my giveaway! Come Monday night, December 15, I'll pick a comment and send the package to you!

Wanna know what you're getting? In A Wire Basket - Mom loved baskets of any kind - you will find: Mint tea - Mom loved hot tea and mint was her favorite. A mug - for the tea, of course! Fuzzy Socks - Mom often wore slippers, but the last several years she always wore fuzzy socks around the house in the winter time. Note Cards - Mom loved note cards of any kind, there was always a selection of them in her drawer, and she used many, many a pack in her life time!! A Candy Bar - Mom always loved chocolate. In the last number of years she cut out most of her sugar, but I remember well as child gathering in our evening circle before bed and Mom mysteriously producing candy bars and letting us each choose one!! Candy was a special treat in my day!

Wouldn't you like to have a box of treats show up in your mail one day soon? :) Just leave me a comment and tell me something Your mom especially loves and it just might be your lucky day! And, if you knew my mom, you can pause today and remember her life and testimony and say a prayer for her family and join me in celebrating Her today.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear Mom

I stood in the long, long line today, Mom, and the memories came rushing back over my senses. Soon the lump in the throat followed and the tears spilled and the urge to rush out of the room and let them come in torrents. I sucked it down (the urge) and gave the hugs and said the meager words and offered the warm handshake and sympathetic smile.

"You know what it's like," some of them said. "You've been there," said others, "Only for you you had no time to say good bye! I can't imagine." "How is your dad making out?" some wondered, "How has this year of adjustment been for you?" one person asked.

It's times like these when I still can't quite grasp that I am *that* person - the one who has been there, who knows what it's like, who's dad is alone, who's dealt with grief.... Sometimes it still seems completely unreal; not me at all!

There are those times, of course, when it hits hard that this is, most certainly, real! I suppose, like everyone says, the Holidays are a prime time for those feelings to crop up. Over Thanksgiving time I found myself mourning the loss of ever eating your cornbread dressing again and chiding myself for never asking the details on how to make it myself. And how I would love to have your chicken and biscuits again.... such little things, but they make it all so very real that you are no longer here!

Mostly though I continue to miss being able to tell you things, Mom. So many, many little details of life that just seem meant to be shared with you! Take the viewing we went to today - definitely one of those things I would have been telling you about, making the connections with the people you knew - "You know, Chester Mast's wife. Yes, you know her parents are from here, Cal and Sadie Troyer. They would have been Marvin's neighbors when Chris was young, their children rode to school together." And you would have filled me in on how you knew Chester's parents and all the other pertinent information involved.

I don't even know why I'm writing this tonight, Mom. It's not that I'm really so sad or wish you were here so much. I guess I realized several things today. One is, like I've decided before, there's really no "easier" way. There are pros and cons, yes, but easier? I don't really think so. Also, the more viewings I go to and funerals I attend, the nearer Heaven becomes. I think God intended it to be that way. And that question about my dad and how he's doing that I always dread and never know how to answer? I discovered a good answer today - "He is amazing." I like it. I think I'll keep using it. Because he is!

Friday, December 5, 2014

On Brokenness and Hope

This ol world is so broken. I don't think I used to know that. Does that mean I'm getting old?

Seriously, brokenness is such a part of life and will continue to be so as long as we're breathing earth's polluted air. "It never ends, does it?" Someone said to me recently upon hearing more sad news. No, it doesn't. It seems to grow by leaps and bounds with no end in sight. And it seems to get closer and closer home the older you get!

Yesterday, I got news of yet another death (someone who's relatives go to our church) and the sobs suddenly overcame me without warning. Grief and pain and heartache are real and sometimes unexplainable! How do you live with all the brokenness, I wondered? The older you get the more things you are going to see, the more people you are going to need to say good bye to. How does it not just consume your life and overcome you?

I had to think of my mom and all the many friends she said good bye to over the years. I know she lost more than one really dear friend, but I can't remember her ever sitting around grieving! I'm sure there was grief, I'm sure there was deep sadness and loneliness but never despair. The simple answer is Hope. She had Hope! I have Hope.

Today my heart is heavy over an entirely different kind of brokenness - the agony of knowing that someone has lost hope; someone who's faith is hanging by a thread; someone who is standing at the crossroads and I don't know which way they will choose. And suddenly my heart has been seared with this truth: This, THIS is what really deserves my tears and my grief and my agony! This is what deserves to consume me and overcome my very being!

It's ok to grieve the pain around us, don't get me wrong - the loss of loved ones, the trauma of those suffering from illness, the good byes that are so hard no matter what the circumstances..... God understands that, He wept over loss as well! But oh, people. Let it not consume me! May the cry of the hopeless overcome me and move me out of my selfish cocoon into some sort of action! Because to be without hope is, without doubt, the most broken place of all.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When You Have No Words

Try Pictures ......I guess!

I don't even know how to explain how I've been feeling, so I won't try.

Picures: #1. Games and more games the week of Thanksgiving

#2. Chris' nephew, Pascal, and Charles - so fun to watch them together!

#3. Lillian went off to Kindergarten on Tuesday!! How can these things be??

#4. My lonely little buddy 3 days a week...

#5. Enjoying friends last night at our house

#6. The grey, grey days of Ohio.......... Maybe that explains it all!

Cheers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He Gives Me Joy

This song has been running through my mind. Just hearing it takes me back to the side of my Mom's grave where my sister had copies of it passed amongst the crowd so we could surprise my dad and sing it because she knew it was a favorite of his. It speaks to me of my Dad's unshakeable Faith in a God who is Good no matter what. And it speaks to me of the beauty for ashes that God promises to bring.......


He gives me Joy --- Joy --- Joy
He gives me Peace --- Peace --- Peace
I sing His praise and a hundred
Million angels start singing.
He talks to me and the freedom bells
Of my soul start to ringing.
He gives me Joy
In the morning.
And gentle Peace
In the evening.
I sing His praise and all Heaven
Plays a sweet orchestration.
He speaks to me and my heart strings
Play a song of jubilation.
He gives me Joy
In the morning.
And gentle Peace
In the evening.
He gives me Joy like I never knew,
He's been my friend,
He is always true.
He's been my strength,
He helps me make it through,
He gives me Joy.
He gives me Joy
In the morning.
And gentle Peace
In the evening.
He gives me Joy --- Joy --- Joy
He gives me Peace --- Peace --- Peace
He gives me Joy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rest In Peace

It's one of those mornings when it feels impossible to start my day without writing. But when I sit down and try to string words together, it feels impossible to write.

Simply put, I am in Ohio; I want to be in Arkansas. There is someone staying at my house this week, there is Thanksgiving to plan for and more company coming this week; I want to be hugging my family members and being a part of the graveside service for my baby niece.

Saturday morning my brother, Mark, and I left for Arkansas with plans to meet our sister, Lisa, in Columbus. Before we reached Columbus, we hit dangerously icy roads! After sitting in stopped traffic and debating our options, we finally turned around and went back home without ever meeting up with each other. An hour after we were home, we got the call that baby Rosanna had passed away. There were too many conflicts in schedules to climb back in the car and try again, and it seemed clear that home was the place to be.....until yesterday morning, when it would have been easy to doubt the clearness....

So, here I am.

I have no tidy ending. No special inspirations or explanations or declarations. But I guess that's what Faith is, and without Faith it is impossible to please Him. So I guess He has me right where He wants me!

Rest In Peace Baby Rosanna.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Winner....and A Surprise!

Giveaways are so much fun! The most fun for this writer, of course, is seeing comment after comment come flying in :) I explained the whole deal to my oldest daughter and she joined in the fun - "How many do you have now, mom??"

I ended up with 49 in the drawing, which means there will be 48 disappointed people today. But, sadly, that's the way giveaways are! You're always more than welcome to check out Amazon or send a check to Dorcas Smucker and get a book for yourself, of course :)

Jasmine drew the lucky number this morning which was commenter # 19 -- joyfully83@yahoo.com Congratulations! I'll send you an email and you can get me your mailing info and your copy of Footprints On The Ceiling will be on it's merry way!

And now for the surprise..... I'm always a little amazed at how many people come out of the woodwork for a giveaway (granted, I know not nearly all of you read my blog regularly). Still, I happen to be able to check statistics a bit and I know very well that only a tiny margin of my readers comment! I tell myself that's ok, that's not why I write - I write because a) I told the Lord I would use the gift He gave me and b) Its the way I process life. I know many people say "I don't want to comment and who knows who all will read it!!" I'm tempted to tell them "Oh my goodness!! I never thought of that! I think I'll stop blogging pronto." But since I'm not the mean kind, instead I'd like to tell all of you who don't want the world to see -- email me personally any time!! You have no idea how encouraging it is to hear what people thought when they read something you wrote! Ok, I got a bit carried away there :) If you don't feel led to comment or send an email I'll love you anyway....and keep on writing. Don't think I could stop if I tried, actually!

That wasn't the surprise, by the way. The surprise is this: I'm going to give away another copy of Footprints On The Ceiling to a certain group of people! I went through the comments and took out all the people who have ever commented on my blog. I wrote all 8 names on slips of paper, folded them up, put them in a cup and drew out ........ Tina!!!!! Which is fitting. She is one of my most faithful commenters and I appreciate that so very much! (Oh, and she has a Birthday coming up :) )

Thank you to all of you for making this so much fun! Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dear Baby Rosanna,

Monday morning, November 17, as you were sleeping peacefully, tucked in the safe cocoon inside your mamma, I looked at the chalkboard on my wall and wondered, "What shall I write on it?" A phrase from a Bible verse came to my mind, so I decided to write it down. "There is no fear in Love" I wrote, carefully shading the word 'fear' in block letters and scrolling out the word 'Love' in graceful curves.

I had been waiting to hear news of your birth for 2 1/2 long weeks past your due date, Baby dear, and I read your mamma's email that day and breathed a prayer yet again when I heard they would be going to the Dr for an ultrasound to see if everything was ok in your safe haven. When the phone call came from Kristine saying the Dr wanted you born by C-section because of your sideways position, I was happy to hear that at least the waiting would be over soon and you would be here at last!

Then came the text Monday evening letting us know you were here, and those words that sent the fear shooting into our hearts, "the baby is stable but there are some abnormalities."

Oh Sweet Baby! It felt like a mean trick coming on the heels of a hard summer dealing with the adjustments of your Grandma passing away! I lay in bed that night, fighting the questions and the fear. Wouldn't a sweet, new baby have been such a healing thing for everyone? Why? What could possibly be good about this, yet too?

Tuesday morning my chalkboard stared at me as I went about my work, "There is no fear in love....there is no fear in love...." If someone is Love, Rosanna, there can't really be anything to fear in them, can there? Did I believe God was Love? I thought I did! But this? How could this be Love?

Babies are miracles, did you know that Rosanna? "At conception 23 chromosomes from the father combine with 23 chromosomes from the mother to create a baby with a set of 46 chromosomes in each cell". Amazing. That sounds like Love to me! Such intricate, detailed, careful design to form a perfect, sweet little baby. That sounds like the work of a Creator Father who is Love.

But what if that isn't the only way Love looks? Is Love only Love when it looks the way I think it should?

I looked at my chalkboard last night, Sweet Baby. "There is no fear in love" it said, and I made a choice. I chose to believe that God *IS* Love. With that choice came the realization that a baby carefully chosen to have 3 #18 chromosomes in each cell instead of the normal 2 is just as intricately and delicately designed in every detail as one who has the usual number. This, too, is the work of a Creator Father who is Love.

Dear Sweet Little Rosanna, I don't pretend to understand why God chose you to be this particular version of His Love. I freely admit it isn't the version your mamma and daddy and siblings...or any of us...would have chosen. But there isn't a doubt in my mind that you were carefully and delicately designed to be just who you are just for us and I lift my hands to a Creator Father who *IS* Love!

I don't know how many days you will have here, Sweet Baby. I saw your picture yesterday and all I could think was "She is Precious!" I know that none of us really knows what Heaven is like and that a lot of our imaginings are probably not the way it will really be. Still, it makes me smile to imagine both of your Grandmas waiting for you up there, just aching to get their hands on you as you come through those pearly gates! So, whether I meet you here or over there, know that you are loved by many and Created special by a Father who is Love.

With Love,
Auntie Bethany

Please pray for my brother, Carl, his wife, Joy, and their 5 children as they bring their baby home today and journey through these first...and last...days with baby Rosanna. Thank you friends!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Mystery Supper

I am like my mom in many ways, one of them being this: I get these big, creative brainstorms and then, for one reason or another, they never get carried out.

It all started with the School Auction. We have one here every year, see, and this year I was determined to contribute more than just food for the bake sale. (We won't go into the reasons behind that, that's another subject entirely!) A hot item at the auction in years past has been suppers - Thai Suppers, Hog Roasts, Barn Parties.....you name it!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I am not a cook. Cooking, especially for other people, gives me a bellyache. It stresses me, haunts me, torments me and makes me change my mind everytime I think we should have someone over. I wish I wasn't like that. I dream of being the spontanious, jolly, relaxed hostess, but there it is. I am not a cook.

So, sell a supper at the school auction? Out of the question. Period.

But, I have this creative, brainstorming mind that comes up with ideas and says them and gets me into impossible situations. See, what they should do is get the school children involved more in this stuff for the school auction. In fact, you know what would be really great? Sell a supper and have some of the children help serve it.... a Daffy supper or a Mystery supper...there you go! There's 6 girls in Jasmine's grade, we should have them help us serve a mystery supper! The idea flew out of my mouth and that's what got me in trouble - Chris got a hold of it, and *liked* it.

Not only did Chris latch on to the idea, he built on it - what we really should do is TWO Mystery suppers. One with the 5th grade girls and one with the 7th grade boys! I listened with alarm to his ideas and, in typical "Bethany" fashion, started back pedaling as hard as I could. No way! Are you crazy? Do you know how much work that would be?? Sell 24 tickets for each supper, are you out of your mind???

I'll spare you the details, but at the last possible minute the phone calls got made and the information given to the auction committee and we were committed: One Mystery Supper for 24 served by the 5th grade girls; One Mystery Supper for 24 served by the 7th grade boys served back to back evenings in November. The man in charge said it better than I could have when we told him, "Either you're really brave or a little bit crazy!"

I'll skip the gory details - the nights laying in bed going over details in my mind, the lists and lists, the frustration between husband and wife that may or may not have had something to do with my recent "10 things I know about marriage" post....... Wait. I said I would skip that part (trust me, that's a drop in the bucket)!

We ended up selling only half of the tickets, so we decided to combine the two suppers and do it all one evening. Thankfully, it suited everyone for Saturday, November 15 so Saturday, November 15 it was! And, guess what? We survived! It was even actually kinda...how can I say this.... I would have to say, if I'm honest, that I'm glad we did it and yes, it was actually kinda fun!

Chris was the Chef, I was the decorator. I made some of the food, yes, but he was in charge of all that. We did a slight twist on the Mystery Supper idea and mixed two different meals on our menu - a picnic meal and a formal meal. They had to choose between two clues for each item and the goal was to try to see how close they could get to a whole meal from one menu.

We used the church basement and had all 12 students come for the afternoon to help set up, decorate and play. They also planned two skits to do, one by the boys and one by the girls. If you've ever helped with a Mystery Supper, you know it got a little wild in the kitchen with 12 servers ages 10-12!! But we got it done and I think they all had fun doing it.

We all crashed into chairs when we got home Saturday night, exhausted, relieved and too tired to lift a finger. Except me. I proved that I'm like mom in yet one more way - I put practically everything away before crashing!

And that is the end of the story. Except the part about having a terrible sore throat and a stiff shoulder/neck and Charles keeping me awake for nearly 3 hours during the night which resulted in Chris waking me up at 10 til 9 Sunday morning and me and the littles staying home from church...where they were having communion, no less.....but we won't go into that, y'all don't have to know everything!!

PS. I'm curious how many of you noticed the mis-spelled word in the picture? Saturday night, after I finally crashed into a chair, I was showing pictures to Jennifer and Lillian and I suddenly noticed it!! All I could do was laugh. One of the girls had strung my banner for me and I never noticed and no one said anything about it!! Oh well. All's well that ends well.

The End

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Book Review and a Giveaway!

Some of you may remember that back in June I asked several people to share their "How We Met" stories on my blog. One of those people who shared their story was Dorcas Smucker. It just so happened, that June was also the month Dorcas was in the process of compiling articles from her monthly column in their local paper, "The Register-Guard", into a new book. One day on her blog she requested assistance in coming up with a book title. She received a number of creative comments with title ideas. Several days later, she linked to the "How We Met" story I was sharing on my blog and a reader commented, "I enjoyed your story! You must share it in your next book so that you can use the title 'In the Warehouse there are Footprints on the Ceiling'...."

I guess I wasn't the only one who loved that idea, because here I am, ready to tell you all about Dorcas' latest book "Footprints On The Ceiling" and to offer you a chance at a free, signed copy!

I consider Dorcas to be a master in the art of story telling. I have enjoyed reading her blog Life In The Shoe for quite some time, and thoroughly enjoyed my copy of her book "Tea and Trouble Brewing" which I reviewed two years ago on my blog. Recently I purchased her other 3 books - "Ordinary Days", "Upstairs the Pheasants are Revolting", and "Downstairs the Queen is Knitting". As I read them, I marvelled at all the hilarious and fascinating things her children did and said. "How can so many things all happen to one family" I wondered?! In the days that followed, as I went about my activities and listened to my own children, the secret suddenly dawned on me - it wasn't that so many more interesting things happened to Dorcas and her family. No, the secret was that Dorcas has a gift for taking notice!

"Footprints on the Ceiling" is another delightful book full of all the little happenings Dorcas stopped and took notice of as her children became young adults and she entered her 50s. While many of us would know we love to pick blackberries, only those with a gift for "noticing" would realize how this simple activity brought out all the traits of our mother in us! Many of us might also find ourselves in the situation of frantically trying to fix our teen-agers mistakes, but not all of us would take note of the lessons God might be teaching us on trust and quietness.

One of the unique things for me about "Footprints on the Ceiling" was the fact that, because I follow Dorcas' blog, I had already read a number of the chapter in her new book. This fact didn't take away from my enjoyment of the stories. In fact, I have to say, my favorite chapter "The Right Way to Tell a Story" brought just as many smiles and chuckles the second time around and "Writing the Family Stories" produced the same lump in the throat and misty eyes as it did before!

Footprints on the Ceiling is available for $15 per book, postage included. You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. US addresses only. To send a copy to Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at dorcassmucker@gmail.com. The book is also available on Amazon here. OR, leave me a comment either here, on facebook or via email and you just might get a free, signed copy! One week from today I will compile the comments and randomly draw a winner, so please leave your name and email address so I can contact you and send you your book!

Dorcas' stories have inspired me to take notice of the everyday happening in my own life. Sometimes motherhood feels hectic and busy or mundane and boring! In truth, it's a special job full of happenings just waiting to inspire, amuse, teach and humble us, and maybe even others, if we take the time to stop and take note.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

10 Things I Know About Marriage

1) It is quite possible to write about submission for 31 days and months later suddenly realize you are completely missing the point!

2) No matter how wonderful your relationship might be, there are places along the way when love is simply a choice one makes.

3) Selfish people cannot have a happy marriage.

4) Were it not for Jesus, all marriages would almost certainly end in divorce!

5) If the enemy can destroy your marriage, he pretty well has your kids wrapped up too. This isn't about the tangible, this is spiritual warfare. Get mad in the right direction!

6) Sometimes having a friend you can confide in who shoots straight with you, yet totally understand, is truly Jesus in skin!

7) There is no "he is the bad one / I am the bad one", we are both sinners, saved by grace, trying to make life work.

8) If you focus on all the negatives, they grow!

9) Whether your spouse is in the wrong or not, you can't change them. But you can make both of you miserable trying!

10) You can change yourself and your attitude. It's not about "fair", hard as that is to accept.

What do you know about marriage?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Family Ties

When Chris called me Monday at noon and wondered if I could be ready to go by 3:00 I wasn't sure how I felt. We'd been throwing ideas around about going to IN for my Aunt's funeral, but suddenly I wasn't so sure I really wanted to be gone for two days and nights all by myself! "I think you should," he said. "That way you don't have to worry about anyone else. You can just enjoy being with everyone and talking to people you haven't seen for years."

So, I went! I scrambled around finishing up laundry, packing my bags, writing down things for Jasmine to remember/do....my school children had no idea mom would be gone when they came home that evening! Chris and I met my dad halfway between OH and IN and I left my mom/wife life behind and entered single/daughter mode as we drove along toward IN and two days away from my family.

Have I mentioned before that I am married to a very wise man? I am. It was amazing to spend time with my sisters and dad and relatives without needing to worry about anybody else! I went off to brunch with cousins and shopping with sisters and standing around talking at the viewing and late night ice cream without needing to think about a.n.y.b.o.d.y. but me. Only you moms can understand how very strange that felt! No tired, cranky little children or bored big children. No feeling guilty about the husband who was tired of meeting strangers and keeping track of children an hour ago. No trying to settle babies in strange beds and allowing enough time to get everyone dressed in the morning.....

My mom and dad both grew up in IN. When their oldest was 3 and their second born only a couple of months old, they moved to a tiny mission church in AR. I grew up far, far away from grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins, and back when I was little, making a trip to IN was a lot bigger thing than it is now. Often, our family would spend a week there in the summer time, not because we were taking a fancy vacation, but so my dad could work while we were there to pay for the trip! So, while I have good memories with cousins and family, I never felt like I knew many of them well and as we grew up and married our connections became even looser.

There's something about getting older that makes you look at those family ties in a different light. Something that makes you want them a little more, appreciate them a little more, value them a little more deeply. Tuesday night after the viewing all of the girl cousins and in-law ladies congregated in the back room at "Honey's", a little ice cream shop with more flavors and toppings than you can imagine. We all drew up chairs and talked and laughed and ate ice cream. We went around the circle and each shared a little about our lives. There was a wide variety of ladies in that circle - nurses, teachers, stay-at-home moms, work-a-day-job moms, home-school moms, curriculum writers and more. We looked different from each other, we grew up in different settings, we liked different things, held to different ideas...we were about as varied as the many ice cream toppings we had just debated over! But as we sat in the circle and talked and laughed and nodded and asked questions, the differences shrank into the background and we shared the common thread of women living normal lives all with a tie to the Mose and Katie Gingerich gene pool.

Wednesday as I sat in the funeral service and stood at the gravesite I felt that strong, family tie again. Not so very long ago it was the grandparents in the front row, laying their spouse to rest. Now, our parents are the front row and we cousins are standing in back with our youngsters. Life is so short! Not so long ago Aunt Fran was a woman like us in that circle Tuesday night. As I sat in the service, with tears streaming down, I was convinced once again that there is a God, and He does make a difference! If Aunt Fran could live with the reality of M.S. for 25 years and leave behind the testimony of acceptance and cheer and strength that she did, there is a God, and she knew Him. Not only that, but life is short - all of us are swiftly moving up to that front line! Am I gonna let God make a difference for me?

It's good to be home, to hug little people and catch up on the news and crawl into my very own bed and return to mom/wife mode. But I'm glad I had the chance to view the family ties in a new light, to feel that deep appreciation and value for what was and, with God's help, to pass it on to the row coming behind!


Ps I discovered I have a crowd of lurking relatives who read my stuff! I thought maybe a picture might jar them out of the shadows :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dear Mom

I'm thinking of you tonight, mom. Actually, it's not too often that thoughts of you aren't hovering somewhere in the back of my mind! I think of you most often when I'm doing things I would have usually told you about - things like baking for the school auction, making apple pie filling, washing windows and cleaning lights, advice on the child's hurt toe and children's quotes and escapades......

Then there's the fact that daddy is coming next week. I can't wait to have him around! To see him have a chance to interact with my little people, a chance to get to know them better and be a part of their lives and a chance to have him check out my ailing sewing machine and anything else I can think of that needs fixing! ;) Everytime I stop and think about it too much though, a painful lump fills my throat. You won't be here, mom, and how I would love to have you!

Daddy could go off and work on the car Mark wants him to help with and we would sit here and talk and talk and talk. You would wash my dishes and read stories and play games with Lillian and get to know Charles...... how you would love to hear him sing! You would want to hear Jasmine play the piano and ask Isaac about his memory work for the Quiz Team and listen to Jennifer read. Yes, how I would love to have you here!

But there's another reason I'm thinking about you tonight, mom. Somewhere tonight there's an Aunt of mine who is breathing her last breaths - or, at best, living her last days. After years and years of battling an incurable disease that slowly but surely left her able to do less and less for herself, her battle is reaching it's close. A month ago we thought it was time, and now here her family is again gathering around and waiting.

I know she was an inspiration to you, mom. I know you admired the grace with which she accepted the changes that continued to come her way. I think it was partly because of her that you found the courage to accept your own "handicaps" with grace.

And so, tonight, as I think about it all, I can't help but be glad that God spared you the slow, painful process of losing your abilities. I can't help but recognize the beauty in the quiet, peaceful way He chose to call you Home. I miss you, mom. And, while I would love to have you here next week, I have to remember that I am so glad I know you are There!

Love, Bethany

Monday, October 27, 2014

That Row of Socks

Socks. Sixty-six of them to be exact. (Amazing, right? An even number!) There's seven pairs of feet in this house, and this is what school time and cool weather means - socks, socks, and more socks!

I love hanging my laundry outdoors. I always dread winter with it's dreary, freezing no-laundry-line days! I like to separate my pile - socks at this end of the basket, underware at the other and hang them all in a neat, orderly row. I'm not as fanatical about my laundry hanging as my MIL who's known to re-pin her towels intil they are all not only in color order, but in perfect order by size from largest to smallest! I must admit, however, I have my own little system.

The big Daddy socks always come first. Worn from days and days spent on feet encased in work boots, they hang long and strong reminding me there's a faithful man at my house who works hard to provide for me and mine.

Next come the Big Boy socks which aren't so much smaller than the Daddy socks these days. Several times lately the Daddy socks and Big Boy socks have gotten into the wrong drawers, in fact! Their stretched out tops are proof that, like his dad, he likes his socks pulled up loooong and tiiiight. God grant that someday he follows in his Dad's footsteps in many other ways too!

Marching along behind Big Boy socks are the First Grader socks. She too has acquired her dad and big brother's genes and wants no part of socks that barely peek over her shoe tops! Her row always boast more "all white" socks than colored toe ones because those are the ones she likes best.

The Littlest Girl socks come right behind, overlapping with the First Grader socks, in fact. They wear the same socks most of the time, except that Littlest Girl has a love for short, colorful socks and insists on wearing them even when they're becoming too small for her growing feet!

Next come the Big Girl socks. She, unlike her dad, likes her socks the shorter the better! With socks that are bigger than her mom's these days, it's sometimes hard for me to remember that this woman child is really just that - a child - and deserves to be treated as such.

Then there's the mom socks. Practical, grey-toed, short socks that look like they could possibly belong to the little, immature girl she often feels like she is, rather than the mature, heading-toward-fourty mother-of-five she is supposed to be!

A few colorful Littlest Girl socks slip in before we reach the end of the row and the Little Man's line up of little, grey toed socks. The multiple pairs might mean the little guy pulled them off and deposited them in the laundry immediately upon arriving home from taking children to school, or that possibly stray pairs were discovered in obscure places when cleaning up the house!

Sixty-six socks. Seven pairs of busy, healthy feet. That row of socks this morning reminds me that I am, indeed, of all women most blessed!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

About My Father's Business

Words don't come easily these days. I ache to write. I start and I stop and I delete. The words and ideas, the feelings and thoughts and questions, they tangle themselves up somewhere between mind and keyboard, they refuse to march out in neat, tidy rows. Then too, I've been busy. Every time I think I'll catch a minute and untangle my brain, the minute passes before I've hardly begun.

So, what is going around in your mind, you ask? Lots of things. Little things. Big things. Things I feel uncertain about putting out there for the world to see. Things like "Why don't we mothers view our 'job' the same way our men view theirs?" Things like "There's got to be some way to beat this everlasting what's-for-supper? question every night!" Things like "What have we Mennonites done to our definition of 'church' and what is God's definition?" Things like "Why do I always say I'll do things and despair over them later?" Things like "What do we Anabaptists mean by saying we believe in living simply?" ...........lots and lots of things......

You may remember that on two different occasions I've taken up the challenge to write on one subject for a whole month? Well, I think I heard the Lord saying I should do it again. I think I even heard Him giving me a subject. It all feels very muddled and unfocused and the easiest thing in the world for me would be to wonder if I made it all up - to push it aside and say I just can't figure it out!

But, I know what happens when I don't listen to that voice. So, I'm trying to keep an open hand and rest and wait patiently and trust that if He wants me to write it, He will untangle it and make it crystal clear. And while I wait I'll make cookies and cinnamon rolls and pies and help with the school Auction. I'll listen to little girls laborously reading their first grade reader and answering Math flashcards. I'll try to be understanding with disappointing things on report cards, yet somehow encourage growth and development of character. I'll relish little boy hugs and two little people holding songbooks and singing lustily. I'll encourage talks with my big girl and make sure my husband knows how important and loved he is. I'll cook and clean and wash and do it all over again and again.

In short, I'll go on being About My Father's Business and we shall see what we shall see.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Adventure to be Remembered

It was a months-ago-planned adventure, a brain child of the Master Planner of Adventures at this house, complete with jobs for the two oldest to do to earn their fare. The jobs had been completed long ago, the money tucked away safely for the big day, and Uncle Mark invited in on the action. Plans had been made to leave Charles with Grandma for the day and here it was, the night before, and suddenly I was struck with symptoms I'd never experienced before - "frequent urination; burning/pain when urinating". I've never had a urinary tract infection before and, believe me, I never want to have one again!
The symptoms seemed to show up Bam! out of nowhere and increased as the evening went by. My mind was instantly in a turmoil - "What about tomorrow? What will we do? What *should* we do?" I drank water. And more water. The rest went to bed figuring tomorrow would end up being an adventure without mom. Meanwhile, I literally sat in the bathroom reading a book until after midnight. It was the only halfway comfortable thing to do! Finally I slept.
I am a "why-would-God-do-this, if-I-make-this-decision-and-this-happens-I-probably-should-have..." kind of girl. We won't go into that. We'll just say waking up in the morning and feeling much better but needing to make a decision before 6 a.m. wasn't easy! I wanted Chris to just tell me what to do. He didn't want to. Finally he kindly explained, "If I was you, I would go. If I felt horrible later on, then I would feel horrible and make the best of it. If you go and feel horrible later on, the whole day will be ruined because you'll be sure you did the wrong thing."
I went.
It turned out to be about the worst possible day to choose for a train ride at Cass Railroad. It was cool and rainy when we left, but the forecast promised clearing by noon. Well, it didn't clear. And the mom of the family had been so immersed in her decision and then frantically getting out the door on time that she failed to consider the possiblities and everyone had worn.....jackets. Her daughters had grabbed two throw blankets to use in the van (cause when you leave the house at 6:15 you feel like wrapping up!) but winter coats and gloves and leggings and boots wouldn't have felt......stuffy, if you know what I mean!
There are two choices of train rides at Cass, one is a longer trip all the way to the top, the other is a shorter ride to the halfway point. We bought tickets for the 4 hour trip all the way to the top and back down again. The puffing clouds of smoke and the long, sad whistle and the creaking, clacking cars were awesome. The scenery was fantastic and we were entertained and taken care of by fellow passengers who shared their big, warm blanket. But it got colder. And then it started misting. Four hours in chilly, damp weather with jackets and two throw blankets is just a really long time, people!
The train made several stops, one mid-way and one at the top. The views at the top were blocked out by fog and rain and I think we would have all been fine had the Engineer decided to turn right around and head straight back down! Someone told us the temperature can drop by 10-15 degrees from the bottom to the top and, supposedly, it was 35 degrees at the top that day! Jackets anybody? We were more than happy to be on the downward trip and to discover the train traveled a bit faster down than up. Our happines was cut short, however, when we made the midway stop and they announced it would be a TWENTY-FIVE minute stop!!
Now at this mid-way point another train was stopped, the one taking the shorter ride to the halfway point. The men in our group decided at this point that a ticket was a ticket and when, about 15 minutes after we arrrived, the train for the shorter ride blew it's whistle announcing it's departure back down the mountain, we quietly climbed aboard! We didn't quite fit in with these people who were still looking at the scenery and the train with awed expressions after only 1/2 an hour on board, but we didn't quite care at that point. We had to wonder if our blanket sharing seat mates did a search for the lost Mennonite group when departure time came but we didn't care too much about that either! :)
All in all it was quite an adventure. It will certainly be remembered and talked about, possibly more than any sun-shiny, beautiful day might have been!

* I should add that my infection didn't miraculously go away. I have now been to the Dr. and am on the road to recovery with the help of an antibiotic!






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Mini Musician and Other Stuff

We have a mini musician at our house. This child loooooves music! He's bounced/danced to it since, day one I think! Ever since he could get around, the minute he would hear Jasmine playing the keyboard in her room, he'd be making a beeline for her side. He seems to have an ear for certain songs and if he chooses one as a favorite, you can expect him to be begging to listen to it over and over and over!!

He's repeating everything he hears these days and this child already has a host of songs in his head! I think he's been memorizing them since day one and can finally get them out by way of mouth and I'm only partly kidding. He doesn't say every word clearly and his tunes aren't all perfect, but I've never heard another 18 month old "sing" the ABC song start to finish! Granted, it takes some imagination, but there's enough syllables there for every single letter and there's no mistaking the ending "...sing with me"!

The other day he was standing by the chair with a songbook and I realized he's singing "Jesus Loves Me" over and over. So absolutely cute! "God's Not Dead" is another fun one to get him going with and there's "Running Over" and "Keep Me Jesus" and "Building Up the Temple".....

On our trip this summer we watched a Musical in Mansfield, MO. The pianist was a super friendly lady who came around at break time and talked to people. When I mentioned something about Jasmine taking piano lessons, she promptly said, "Come with me!" She took her back to the gift stands and gave Jasmine a CD with all the songs from the Musical!! Charles loves that CD. One night he was laying in bed 'going to sleep' and I suddenly realized he's singing "Oh Farmer Boy" off of that CD!

The two in the bottom picture have been playing and playing together this morning. Yes, its worth mentioning! Big sister has a slight tendency towards bossing the little man and the little man has a slight tendency for not putting up with it... At the moment she is laying him on the couch and covering him up - with 2 blankets, no less. He's going along with the game and waits while she tip toes away, waits 3 seconds, then "Cock-a-doodle-doo!!" And with a big grin he pops up! :)

Love it.

And here sits the mother who should be busily working while the two are happily playing...... instead she's leaving wet laundry sit in the basket (cause she dreads the ordeal of dragging the two along outside to hang it up) and ignoring all manner of other things that need to be done (because she's TiReD sake a two pathetic nights in a row with the charming Mini Musician)......

Okay. The 'cover me up' game is losing it's appeal. "Cock-a-doodle-doo!!" Time to drag everybody outside.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dear Mom

The other day I was working on a project, mom. There was cloth and scissors and pins and as I lined up edges and pinned and snipped, I suddenly felt so much like you I could hardly ....... I don't know. I can't explain it!

Some of my earliest memories are probably of you working with quilts, mom. I can't remember a time when I didn't know how a quilt went into a frame! You hated measuring and figuring and the very thought of piecing a quilt would have ruined your day but how you loved to quilt! I inherited those genes.

It wasn't that you couldn't measure and figure or piece a quilt, mom, you could. You just hated doing it! You had an uncanny knack for "eyeballing" things, as you would say. You'd trim the edge for your lining or batting, and rather than go to all the hassle of measuring and figuring, more often than not you'd "just eyeball it" and end up with a line very nearly as straight as any meticulous measuring or figuring would have produced! I inherited those genes too.

You worked with all kinds of quilts, mom - perfect, uniform ones, and imperfect, crooked ones! You would fudge a little here and tuck a little there and we learned that most of those bubbles would "quilt out" and many a person would "go from here to New York and never notice" those crooked lines. You loved the people and the stories behind the quilts so much more than perfection! I hope I've inherited those genes too.

Someday maybe I'll quilt for others like you did, mom. For now, when I smooth and pin and "eyeball" and cut and my girls look on and say, "How can you cut straight like that?" and "What are you doing that for?" I'll think of you and treasure the memories!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Reply to Winter's Coming (By a Lovable Scamp)



In the air there’s something different,
From the way it’s been before.
Creeping in and slowly pushing,
Out the summer heat we bore.

I have positively loved it,
for the summer I abhorred.
And with open arms embraced it,
What a blessing from the Lord!

Seeing leaves around me falling,
Makes me want to skip and dance.
Though the silent march of autumn,
From my wife, elicits rants.

Give me chilly days of autumn,
Not the scorching summer heat.
Trade my sunburn for some goose bumps,
And my only thought is: SWEET!

Gone the sunburned arms and faces,
Gone the sweat drenched piles of clothes.
Gone lawn mowing and weed eating,
Gone the garden’s work by rows.

In come balmy days and windy,
In come rains the earth to wash.
In come all the crops of harvest,
Orange pumpkins yellow squash.

Walls around us do protect us,
From Jack Frost and all his chill.
See the pictures that he left us,
On the mornings cold and still.

Some complain about the clothing,
Boots and mittens, coats and more.
That must decorate their figures
‘Fore they make it out the door.

But to me it is refreshing,
Jump from bed the day to meet.
Of the seasons I have lived in,
Autumn simply can’t be beat!

Do you say that I am looney?
My wife does. She calls me mad.
But I only say, “Be thankful”,
And, “Come on! It’s not THAT bad”.

After all, you have these four walls,
And a roof over your head.
You have food and heat and family,
And no outhouse I might add!

And besides I can’t deny it
As the cool of autumn starts,
Summer’s gone and I am HAPPY,
Welcome autumn to these parts!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Winter's Coming

There's this feeling that is coming,
It's been threatening me sore.
Creeping in around the corners,
Peering in through tight shut doors.

I have positively snubbed it,
It's been pointedly ignored.
I have turned my coldest shoulder,
It must know it's not adored!

Still, it's coming resolutely,
There's no stopping it's advance.
Seems nobody can withstand it,
Even me with all my rants.

In it comes with chilling fingers,
Forcing shoes upon my feet.
Causing goose bumps, chills and shivers,
Bringing thoughts I can't repeat!

Gone the days of flapping washlines,
Gone the sunbleached towels and clothes.
Gone the flip flops and the sandals,
Gone the freedom summer knows.

In come rain drenched piles of laundry,
In come make shift lines for wash.
In come muddy boots and jackets,
In come four walls that will squash.

Walls that daily draw us closer,
As the air grows colder still.
Walls that threaten to engulf us,
Keeping us against our will.

How this feeling shrinks our quarters,
With it's pile of coats galore.
Stacks of shoes, then boots and mittens,
Scarves and hats .... need I say more?

Mornings call for cups of warmness,
Night time brings those chilly sheets!
And that unforgiving shudder
When one's skin the toilet meets!

You may say that I'm complaining,
You may say it's not so bad.
You may say I should be thankful,
Count my blessings just a tad.

After all, I have these four walls,
And a roof over my head.
I have food and heat and family,
And no outhouse in a shed!

Still, I can't deny this feeling,
This sharp sinking of my heart,
As the winter comes a creeping,
And I see the warmth depart!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be Flexible or Be Miserable

The other week, when Chris and I went on our little adventure to a wedding in PA, we were sitting with our host and hostess chatting happily. The two men were deep in the story of how the host had made the switch in occupation from farming to cheese making. Meanwhile, I was listening eagerly to the hostess recount the stories of her grandaughter's premature birth and the birth of her own daughter in their car! I picked up snatches of the men's talk here and there but suddenly I heard the host say, "Yup, be flexible or be miserable, that's what I always say!" Chris grinned appreciatively and flashed a glance at me. I rolled my eyes.

You've heard the saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness"? I may have mentioned this fact before, I don't remember, but I'm married to a man who probably thinks the saying should be "Flexiblity is next to Godliness"!! If there's anything I've learned in our 13 years of marriage, it's a thing or three about being flexible!

He's pretty wise, my husband. Even though I grumble at the lessons in learning to be flexible and wonder if there isn't such a thing as taking a good thing to extremes, I know that a flexible person is a much happier, relaxed person. I knew immediately that the phrase "Be flexible or be miserable" would be heard often around our house!

I haven't heard it this week, not out loud anyway, but it's been going around and around in my mind. See, there's several things I really want right now. There's a couple projects I would like to get done that require some help from more than just myself - preferably my husband! But when that will happen? I don't know. Maybe last Saturday, maybe this Saturday, maybe I should just do it myself, maybe I should ask someone else...... In other words wait.and.see.for.now. Then there's a women's seminar I thought of trying to attend. Maybe, maybe not, if this happens, if that doesn't........ In other words wait.and.see.for.now. Oh, and suddenly, should we go to VA this weekend? Uhhh.... I guess we could maybe? Wait.and.see.for.now.

Me and the Lord had a talk last night. I said, "Ok God. I don't want to be miserable." Cause, honestly, that's what I was being. "I put ______________ in Your hand. If it's important for me to do that, than I trust You to work it out. If not, that's fine too." All down through my list of wait.and.see.for.now things.

It's not easy to be flexible, to hold things with an open hand when I want to demand them *now*. It's hard to let go of knowing how it will all work out and that strong desire for control! But those things do make one miserable, no question at all there, and who wants to be miserable? Not I. So flexible it must be, right up there next to Godliness!