Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dear Mom,

Your marigolds are growing, mom. I believe every little seed came up! The girls were so excited to see the tiny green shoots coming up through the ground. They argued over who got the privilege of watering the little plants, and exclaimed every time they noticed how much they are growing!

We hoed up the ground behind them to make a little "garden". It was late, but I did it for you; I knew you would be proud. Our three tomato plants are growing strong (although the rain nearly washed one away and I had to move it. We'll see if it survives!) We planted two hills of squash - for me, because you taught me to love them (it looks like a deer tromped on one last night, but that's ok too) - and four of cucumbers. We've had so much fun watching them grow! I would love to put Jennifer on the phone with you, and let her tell you all about it :)

Along the back we planted a row of zinnias. A "garden" wouldn't be complete without them! I can just see the zinnias in your garden, Mom. Always zinnias. Many, many a bouquet was picked and enjoyed from that row of cheery colorfulness! They didn't come up the best, but there's enough there to give us some cheery color one of these days...if nothing eats them off...

From as far back as I can remember, you always enjoyed your garden. Oh, you would be so ready to have it all cleaned off in the fall so you could forget about it, and come spring we knew that until the seeds were safely planted there would be no peace :) but you loved your garden!

I miss you, Mom. Some days I almost forget, and others that's all I can think about. It's on those days that all I can think of is the fact that I wasn't done! I wasn't done learning from you, wasn't done telling you things, wasn't done having you interact with my children, wasn't done being remembered in your prayers, wasn't done telling you what's happening at our house, wasn't done telling you about my terrible days, wasn't done having your emails show up in my inbox, wasn't done hearing your stories of bygone days...... I just wasn't done yet!

I want to ask how you made this? And will it work if I? And what would you do if? And what was that spray you used on tomatoes? I want to tell you how Charles can say the sounds for the animals in the book you gave for his birthday...and don't remind me that's the only birthday gift he'll ever get from you.... I want to tell you that Jasmine asked You into her heart at camp. I want to tell you what Jennifer and Lillian said when they were playing and how Isaac is working on his Bible memory for next year's quizzing. I think I miss your emails the most! My inbox remains empty most days.
I know of several other mothers who are still here in body, but the real "them" is gone and I'm so glad you were fully here until it was time to go! I have no regrets, and that, too, I am glad for. I'm glad you are experiencing bliss, I am. I am glad, as Jennifer said today, that "at least we still have pictures of Grandma!" I'm glad ......except...... I just wasn't done yet. But then, who ever is?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Story #4

 One of the fun/amazing things about blogging, is occasionally receiving emails from total strangers or people with vague connections to your world. The other day such an email showed up in my inbox. Imagine my surprise to find a "How we met" story from someone I knew by name only; someone my brother and his family worked with in Nicaragua years ago! I am delighted to share the story of how Timo and his wife, Joanna, met. I am also privileged to let you know how to find out the rest of the story.................

                                  In Which the Plain Guy Meets the Flowered Dresses

“Here she comes” quipped one of my seven married co-workers as he shoved a piece of sheeting up through the rafters. I jumped up and said: “Where? Where?” The other six men looked at me as if I had lost my mind.

“What do you mean, ‘where’?”

“Well” I answered, “he said: ‘here she comes’ and I thought it was an answer to prayer!” They about rolled off the roof…

Long ago I had found that if you get teased about girls, the best way to handle it was to just go right along with it. In my experience I found that the two normal reactions for boys, denial or stammering, just made things worse.

But that still didn’t totally keep them from giving the only single guy on the crew a rough time. They knew I was soon to go to Farmington, NM for a term of voluntary service at Lamp & Light Publishers, working as the Spanish Correspondence Director. They insisted that the only reason I was going was for the flowered dresses.

And behold, I arrived in Farmington and saw many flowered dresses. In all the colors and sizes of the rainbow… but I still had my eyes set on a plain girl that used to smile at me every time the youth group sang “Life Without Thee Would be Dreary”. She was a shy girl of few words, but with a certain zip that gave her an interesting twist. And lest you think her coquettish, I will hasten to assure you she was not. She was a nice girl! Our relationship never went far on the visible side, and I never smiled back. So she couldn’t even have parroted the quote of another famous character, “We never met. We just smiled.”

But change was in the air. The girls working at the Gingerich Home, just across from Lamp & Light’s offices, were a bit short on work. Lamp & Light offices needed cleaning, so it seemed like a good way to put excess energy to work.

Two girls descended on the offices with all manner of cleaning supplies. A week or so later, it was all done. But one of the girls left praying for herself, even if she didn’t know it at the time.

During the cleaning, Joey found a picture I had managed to acquire through shrewd measures. It was a beautiful photo of a girl that was smiling that “special” smile.

Joey, being the praying girl she was, interceded before her Father for Timo and his future wife.

The smiling girl’s father told me “no” soon after. I was devastated and confused. How could I know the Lord’s will? And the girl had given me all indications that she liked me!!!

The Lord continued working on me and continued turning my heart towards a girl that now was gone. Gone because her brother and sister died. She was needed at home again.

So it happened, that some months later, Joey got a thin letter with a Bloomfield, NM return address, with no outside indication of the sender’s name. She opened the letter… and the rest is history.

You can read the letter, the reaction and the conclusion in Joey’s Story.

God is Love. He loves love stories!!!


Thank you so much, Timo, for sharing your story with us! It sounds like a story I'd like to read more about :) Maybe the rest of you would too?  The book is available from Christian Light Publications or Amazon. Or it just might be on someone’s shelf near you…
If you are a devoted reader of the Life in the Shoe you might also be one of the lucky ones to get a free book once Dorcas Smucker posts her book review there.

Last Week

Last Monday my two "bigs" left for a week of camp with their uncle, Ryan, and his girlfriend. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to the week! Jasmine got talked into going at the last minute, and I was not impressed with the prospect of spending the week entertaining the 3 little ones left behind. I had had big plans for things to do while it was just me and my girls all week and now, with my 6 year old already moaning that "It will be booooring with Jasmine gone!!" I anticipated spending all my time keeping little people happy.

But, I knew in my heart it would be good for my oldest girl to face her fears of homesickness and having no mom to comb her stubborn hair, so I put a smile on my face and sent them on their way. I shed a couple of tears (mostly selfish ones) and set my mind to enjoying the week!

Surprise! We had a great week. Granted, we did some extra special things to help the fun along, but it turned out it wasn't so boooring without Jasmine after all! The girls played and played at their imaginary games, leaving huge messes in their wake.... and learning they were the only ones to do the clean up jobs! :) There were no big ones to look on with scorn at their pillow houses and silly dress up. Nobody to tease and giggle at the made up conversations and ideas that a 6 and 4 year old can concoct. And I even got a few of the projects I'd hoped to accomplish done - a dress for me and a dress for Jasmine!

The 2 "bigs" had the time of their lives as well!! I still haven't heard all their stories. They came home Saturday and crashed several hours later! Not sure if they've caught up on their sleep yet, but it's good to have them back .....even if the noise and chaos and fusses have increased....

The pictures show some of the "extras" we did last week: splashing in water, an evening at Tuscora Park, a Mother/Daughter evening with church ladies where the little girls had the time of their lives trying out the dress up clothes, and the promised Gingerbread cookies from the recipe that came with their "Little Lavina" paper dolls.

And now it's back to real life....

PS Story time isn't quite over yet! I have one more story to share......or, who knows? Maybe more if I get another surprise email?!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Story #3

My third story is from a friend I have yet to meet! A little over 2 years ago, I stumbled across Dorcas Smucker's blog and loved her writing instantly! She never fails to make me chuckle or agree wholeheartedly or give a matter some extra thought. I may have had an ulterior motive in asking her to share her story this month - I knew it would be a good one! :) I was right............


I was the sort of girl that guys looked through instead of at.
This isn't an easy thing, to have your big brother tell your sister that all his friends couldn't wait until she was old enough to date.
And me?  Oh. Well, my name didn't really come up.
I coped by throwing my energies into schoolwork and pretending that I was above such fluffy things as romance.  I was going to be a doctor, or a linguist.  I would consider marriage at maybe age 35.
Girls who married young and had babies were throwing their lives away.  So dumb.
I did not consult God about my plans.
My dad thought I should teach at church schools for a few years before I went to college.  First I taught for a year sixty miles from home, back in my home state of Minnesota.
I took a few weeks off in the middle of the year and went to Bible school.  There I got my first taste of the Yoder Curse.  This is an odd phenomenon that has dogged my sisters and me, and even our daughters and nieces, so steadily that we gave it a name.  Thanks to my mom, it is embedded in our souls to be nice to the outcasts.  So we chat up the greasy-haired guy with acne and high-water pants, and we are kind to the awkward stammering guy in a roomful of cool.
And then these guys fall in love with us, because finally, finally, a girl has been kind to them.
So the Yoder Curse hit me at Bible school.  "I did not MEAN it that way," I pleaded.  "I was just being KIND."  And then I was gazed at for the rest of the term with long basset-hound faces.
Meanwhile, the cool guys who were funny and intellectual and cute looked right past me at the cute sashaying Pennsylvania girls who had that mysterious something that I did not possess.
I left as cynical about romance as ever, even as longings for romance boiled in my soul.
An older student from Oregon happened to be there that year, and he also happened to be on the board of a Mennonite school.  After Bible school, he contacted me and asked if I'd consider teaching in Oregon.
I said yes.
I lived with an amazing family who modeled healthy marriage and family life in a way I had never seen it before.  They also mentored me in ways I desperately needed.
Among my students was fiery little Rosie Smucker in the fourth grade.  Gradually, I got to know her family, especially her sister Barb.  They were different from anyone I had ever known, outspoken, curious, and utterly oblivious to what anyone thought of them, which was so different from me that I was endlessly intrigued.
Barb and I got to be good friends.
They had an older brother, Paul, who taught at a school two hours away.  He came home on weekends at times and attended church and youth group activities.  I was completely smitten.  He was tall and blond and smart, with that family trait of calm confidence that was not arrogance or bravado.
He looked past me too.
I stayed in Oregon over the summer after my first year of teaching there, and I'd concoct excuses to spend time with Barb at her house, hoping to see Paul.  But he worked nights and somehow was never around when I was.
It was desperately frustrating.
This was when I finally began to seek the Lord, realizing that my conniving might not be His design for me.
But--panic--the summer was almost over and then Paul would go away again and -- wail-- I would hardly ever see him!  And what if God never did anything??
One night I knelt by my bed for a serious fight with God.  Could I trust Him with this, or not?  I was tired of scheming.  But I also wanted Paul in my life really badly, and God hadn't made it happen.
A poster above my bed said, "Sleep in peace.  God is awake."
It spoke to me of trust.  "Ok," I said, "I am done with scheming.  I am not going to pursue him.  I will not go to Barb's unless she invites me.  I will not connive to spend time with Paul."
And then I slept in peace.
One evening soon after, Barb called and suggested we go on a walk.  I said yes, happy that this was her idea and, since it wasn't at their home, I would not be chasing Paul.
We walked down the road.  Barb said, "Let's go to our warehouse."  So we walked down the dusty lane in the evening light.
We went inside the cavernous warehouse and there was Paul, sacking seed under a big funnel-like hopper.  He looked at us and smiled.  He looked dusty and handsome.
Barb showed me around and then she showed me that on the ceiling just above the hopper there were painted initials of bygone seedsackers.  There was even a footprint.
I said I thought the footprint was very clever.
Barb wondered if I would like my footprint up there.
I said yes.
She told Paul to go into the office until this operation was completed, and then she handed me the inky blacking-brush used for stenciling bags.  I took off my sandals and sat on a pallet on the forklift.  Barb started the forklift and hoisted me up and I inked my foot and printed it on the ceiling and put my initials beside it.
I knew this was not the sashaying charm that attracted guys, but I didn't care so much about that at the moment.  I just wanted to have fun.
We let Paul out of the office and he went back to sacking.
Later I found out that the footprint on the ceiling was the jolt that made him look at me instead of past me.  "She is not like other girls," he thought.
That October he called me and asked if I'd consider a date with him on the 30th.  In the wild nervousness of the moment, I said the most idiotic thing, which was "Well, if I'm not out trick-or-treating."
And then I said yes.
And later, since he astonishingly kept asking,  I said more yeses.
Today we own that warehouse and that footprint is still on the ceiling.  Paul is still full of calm confidence.  He still looks at me and not past me.  I have changed my ideas about romance.  I have learned a lot about trusting God.
I hope I will always say yes to Paul.
And to God.

Thank you so much, Dorcas, for sharing your story! Wishing you many more years of saying yes to God and Paul!! #end

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Story #2 Chapter 2

This is the second Chapter in our second "How we met" story, brought to us by Jolene Dueck...........


Leo writing,
I had grown up in Costa Rica, Central America. I never really imagined myself marrying outside of Costa Rica or much less living in USA. The latin culture and Spanish language were a part of who I was and am. Russian Mennonite background and spoke the Plat Duetsch at home, picked up Spanish interacting with my neighbors and got my third language (English) at school. It was only after I had gone to SMBI in PA at the age of 24 that I made some life long friends that became very important to me as they journeyed with me through the loss of my parents. Marcus Yoder being one of these friends and since they lived in Ohio I would come here often and also go to the same church. (MVDOH) I would first become aquainted with the Eicher family in 2008. Her brother Jason would become a close friend after that. I would meet Jolene during different occasions.My friend Olger said to me one day, Leo I think Jolene and you would be the perfect couple. I smiled and said, I will think about it. Planning to dismiss it from my mind ASAP. (one of my requirements was the my wife be shorter than me and I thought she was taller then I, which ended up not being so :) sigh ) I am older by this time and also having gone through some extensive struggles I started questioning God and his purposes for my life. I still believed that God existed. I wanted that relationship with Him but it always felt like something I had to pursue, something I had to work for, it seemed like I was never good enough, I never quite attained what I should. My view of God was like a Father that was either absent or waiting for a chance to knock me onto my knees again, take away anything I cherished, anything I loved would be taken from me. The dating relationships never worked, I would do everything the right way and it was never good enough. I lost my father and mother and then a relationship didn't work out, I lost my oldest sister and by now I am struggling with intense anger. In 2008 I told God that if He exists and He wants to have a relationship with me it will have to be Him pursuing me, Him finding me. I can't pretend I have life when I feel like I don't.  I walked away from God and left the church I had always been a part of in Costa Rica. Meanwhile I am still in contact with Marcus. The church of MVDOH and many others are praying for me.  Jason, Brian Miller and myself went on a trip to South America, one of the best ones of my life, and it was a time of being and asking questions. I went through some very difficult times and it felt dark and hopeless. The tunnel seemed to have no end and the wilderness seemed to extend as far as I could see. I came to the point where I gave up hope. All this time I would always maintain a minimal contact with the MVDOH church group and even though I knew that by now there was not a chance that Jolene and me would ever date I could never quite get her out of my head. In beginning of 2010 I was completely exhausted and tired of life. I wished God would just let me die. This is when Marcus told me to just come to Ohio for a while. I got my ticket, don't remember how I got to the airport, just remember arriving and being given permission to board at Ezra Wengerds for 6 weeks and we decided to take it one day at a time. I remember working in Marcus's woods with tears rolling down my face. The grace that I so longed to experince was washing me clean and the need to perform and be good enough was gone. I was not good enough and would never be but for Jesus. I wept the tears that had been kept inside for the last few years and I fould a safe place express them and just be. During this time Jolene is going to Canada which couldn't happen soon enough because every time I saw her I was more attracted to her. She understood me like no one ever had before. I also knew that it could never happen. She finally left and that left an ache inside of me but at the same time I knew it was for the better. This was April and May. All this time I am praying and asking God to allow me to forget her and focus on my own life. In August Jolene's aunt Sara passed away and she came home for the funeral. I told God that if He didn't stop me I would tell Jolene that I like her and would like to start a relationship with her. God didn't stop me and so she found out that I wanted her to start a relationship with me. Well the next 2 years seemed like the longest 2 years of my life but also ended being what we both needed.
Jolene again- When he became part of our youth group at Mohican Valley, I was the older single that avoided too much interaction with him because I was sure everyone would get ideas and I was pretty sure I wasn't interested. You see, I was on the early stages of my journey and a relationship like this was just riskier business than I was willing to take on. We overlapped a month at the same church. I moved to Canada to be secretary at Beaver Lake Camp which is God's code position for, "serious renovation of the heart".� Be aware, that when God calls you into service, he plans to do the greatest work in your own heart.
We started dating ½ a year into my 2 year term of service. I have to tell you all I wasn't a piece of cake at this point either. But as the time moved on and God moved people into my life to help me to trust again and Leo won my heart and trust over and over in those days as he still does today.
I don't see our story as a glamorous Romeo and Juliette story...and yet as time rolls on... I do. I've been a tough cookie to crack. A rose bud refusing to trust, open and bloom... It's taken a lot of sweat and blood on Leo's part as well as on the part of his prayer warriors...constantly pouring love...reassuring love...calling to trust. Calling out. That's how Jesus loves us. O there were serious times of stretching. When Leo asked me to marry him... that was a serious call to trust. I didn't think I was ready. I don't know if I'd ever have felt ready.

Thank you, Jolene, for sharing your heart and your story with us! Many blessings to you and Leo as you anticipate starting a new chapter in your lives as Parents in just a few months!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Story #2 Chapter 1

My second story comes to us from my husband's cousin, Jolene Dueck. Jolene and Chris were big friends growing up - Chris always says that growing up in a family of all boys, Jolene sort of filled in as his "sister", teaching him all the things a boy needs to know about girls! I've always felt rather indebted to Jolene :) Here's the story of how she and her husband, Leo, met.......


How we met. Do you want the long story, the short story or the deeper story? Well, since I didn't get married until I was 33 I guess it'll have to be the long story and since I'm not the type to just live life without asking questions and struggling and journeying to find answers it'll have to be the deep version.  I wonder how many cups of chai it'll take to get through it.
Maybe I'll start with something I wrote that came out of a midnight epiphany. Does that ever happen to you? I woke up in the middle of the night, not thinking of anything in particular and it struck me. It was like getting a hug from God and I said thank you. I could really work on the grateful thing but in one of these moments I smile, €look up and say, Thank you. I love you.
In a nutshell, I felt God taking me back to a moment of intense struggle- my prayer- His answer.  I was dating a nice guy from a nice church but my heart was dead- incapable of love or experiencing love. So, my question for God was, does one just move on into marriage because the nice guy presented himself and it's the thing to do, the very reason I was born for? Is there a time for healing? Is there such a thing as inner healing? Did it matter that my heart was cut, broken and bleeding? Did it matter that everywhere I turned there were shattered relationships? Did it matter that I wasn't "birthed" into womanhood? I chose to wait. I found that it did matter to my Heavenly Father. He moved in powerful ways to move me into a journey. A way made straight, smoothed for a child's feet to walk into womanhood. Do I feel I've "arrived"? Never. I am more certain than ever that Christianity is a lifelong journey rather than a place to arrive at. God showed me that I'm worth finding when I had given up on even calling for help. He showed me that my story matters, and as the painful is redeemed it is actually the pedestal I stand on and minister out of... in fact Jesus not only died for my sins but He died to bear my grief and carry my sorrows. In finding a love like this, I could move on with hope. People offered tools that help equip me for this journey I've embarked on. Jesus gave life, but those who put the grave clothes on Lazarus had to remove them and so God is using people to remove the grave clothes that keep me bound.
That's my story, but it doesn't really say how Leo and I met. So as I was on this intense journey, though we had known of each other through mutual friends...we hadn't really met until 2007. He began attending the same church I was... we did a short term mission trip to Mexico... but God still had a great work to do in our lives so He moved me to Canada...while Leo moved from his home in Costa Rica to my home church and area.
An interesting note, a friend of mine had been at SMBI years before Leo and I met, she just mentioned the difference his interaction had made in her life and I thought, "I want to marry a guy like that one day."
Enough about me for the moment, Leo was on a journey all his own. Leo is the "never has a bad day- never met a stranger" "appears" to waltz through life, kind of guy. On the other hand he is one who wrestles and struggles deeply as well. God just knew we'd drive each other bonkers if he didn't mix Leo's humor into the batch.......

.................more to come........................

Friday, June 13, 2014

Story # 1 Chapter 3

This is Chapter 3 in our first "How We Met" story written by my friend, Tabitha.........


We wrote each other every week; fairly long letters about our everyday lives, our likes and dislikes and preferences, our families, our work. We wrote about God and the things we had learned in our spiritual lives, and asked each other lots of questions. Letter by letter, we began sharing our lives, and bit by bit, our hearts.
In October, a Canadian boy was marrying a girl from Ohio. And, since they had met at Faith Mission Home, dozens of people were heading from Virginia to Ohio for the wedding, and scores if not hundreds of people were coming from Canada to Ohio. All converging in Holmes County. Peter was coming too.
I atttended the wedding alone, and who should I see when I walked into the foyer but Peter. I bravely went over and talked to him, friendly and casual in case anyone was watching. Remember, this was still a "secret."

After the reception, Peter introduced me to his parents and his sister. Oddly enough, I hadn't been expecting this ordeal. Immediately afterwards I fled to the restroom and was mortified to see that my face was as brilliantly red as it felt. Just as I was bemoaning this embarrassment to a friend in the know, Peter's mom walked in! She smiled kindly and didn't act like she had seen or heard anything odd, though I knew she had to have caught on.

After the wedding, Peter and I went out for coffee, even though it was definitely before my New Year's deadline. We had a nice time. He came in and talked to my family for a bit and they seemed to approve. They had learned not to tease or push me -- I didn't like it. So they were cautiously positive.

But the secret wasn't secret any more. The news of our relationship did make quite a sensation, especially to those who knew us both. One of the girls from Peter's church who worked with me at FMH was excited about us as a couple, but, "where will they go to CHURCH?" It was certainly a conundrum. Another mutual friend just couldn't get over the fact that the two of us were actually dating, so to speak. But he was pleased. So far, no one was upset about it, at least!

When the FMHers met at our house on Monday to travel home together in the big maxi van, they were also happy and excited. And that was one of the hard moments for me. I still wasn't head-over-heels in love. In fact, I felt cautious, reserved, and in trial mode with this relationship. I tried not to let on how tentative I felt about it all, while not pretending to be too excited either.
But soon after that, we started calling. The first time Peter called, we talked for an hour. And I didn't do all the talking, either! I found myself looking forward to his phone calls.
We had a hard time in November. I was at a point where the relationship was more work than pleasure, and I admitted this to Peter one evening. The next time we talked, he admitted this had given him a hard weekend. But I wasn't ready to break up, and neither was he. Our willingness to slog through this tough time (and several others) is what saved our relationship. It could so easily have ended right there, if even one of us hadn't been willing to keep trying. But we knew this relationship had a chance, and if we just stuck it out . . .
As I grew to know Peter, I realized that every letter and phone call and revelation from him was a gift, just for me. He was entrusting me with himself, and I knew he didn't do that lightly. This was a precious thing he was doing, risking this kind of sharing with me in spite of my caution. And I knew, if we ever did get married, Peter would be more "mine" than an outgoing, transparent kind of man would ever be. This was the flip-side of his quietness -- it wasn't all a negative. Not at all.

At Christmas, I went home to spend the holiday with my family. And guess who else came for Christmas?

Indeed he did! He showed up with a lovely red rose (I still love single red roses). We had our first date at Olive Garden. He spent Christmas day with us, and it was-- good! Really. My fears had been unfounded once more.

My attraction to Peter was growing. I was becoming all right with the idea of falling in love with him.

He started visiting me at FMH. Once his best friend and his best friend's girlfriend came too, and the four of us drove over to another of their friends who was married and living about an hour from Mission Home. We had a hilarious time over Sunday dinner while the men reminisced about their school days, and we laughed until we almost cried.

I visited him in Canada in February, and was enthralled with the beautiful landscape, snow-covered under brilliant blue skies, bare trees lining the straight, white roads. He arranged a sleigh ride for me with his family, and an Amish neighbor took us on an sleigh wagon ride behind a team of horses, in the moonlit woods and fields of the farming country Peter grew up in.

That weekend I fell the rest of the way in love with Peter. After our date that weekend, I spent most of the night lying awake and reliving the evening, savoring every word and look and nuance and implication.
Our relationship after that was more "normal," if there is such a thing. We did have several more rough spots after that, the worst of those just before I left FMH for home in summer 2001. But by the grace of God and the patience of Peter we came through stronger in our love. We had some high spots too, the ones that make a relationship fun and rewarding, and that do their own bright work in strengthening love.

In September of 2001, Peter proposed and I said yes! We made plans for a spring wedding, slogged through all the paperwork required for him to cross the border to get married, and enjoyed being engaged! On a rainy April morning in 2002, we spoke our vows in front of hundreds of our loved ones. Twelve years later, we have two precious daughters, ages 9 and 7; a happy home; and a bouncy puppy. Today, we love and understand each other more deeply and fully than ever before.

Ours is a story of love grown through time and patience. For us, perhaps unlike other couples, the romance came after the work, not before. But we were willing to work for it because of our confidence that God was leading us this way. Today, it still takes work and romance to keep our marriage happy. We are in this for life, and God has given us far more than we could ask for.

Thank God He gave Peter the courage to send that first letter, nearly 14 years ago! Thank God He gave me the courage to say yes!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Thank you so much for sharing, Tabitha!!! May God Bless you and Peter with many more years of work and romance and a happy marriage!!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Story # 1 Chapter 2

This is Chapter 2 in our first story of "How We Met" written by my friend, Tabitha..........


To be honest, my first, inner response was "Oh, no. I'll have to say 'no'." I just couldn't imagine it. He was very nice, but so quiet. He was from Canada. He was from "that" church. He didn't seem like my type, if you'll pardon the cliche.

I don't remember much of the next few hours, except for waiting until Dennis Eash came back to work for the afternoon. Dennis was the administrator at the Home, and he was the go-to man for all the staff. The two of us also worked together in making out the weekly staff schedule, and he and his wife Wanda were my good friends. They knew me quite well, the good and the bad, and were always gracious and forthright. I always knew where I stood with Dennis.

Finding Dennis in his office, I asked if we could talk. I sat down in one of the chairs facing his desk, and said, "You'll never believe who I got a letter from today." He waited. "Peter Schmidt," I announced.

I don't know what I expected, but not what I got. He NODDED. "I know," he said.


"Peter wrote me about you a while back," Dennis explained, quite calmly. "He asked about you, and if you were dating anyone." (Well. That would have been awkward.)

"What did you tell him?"

"I said you were a nice girl and we think a lot of you." (I honestly can't remember what he said he told Peter -- but they were good things.)

"Did you tell him the bad things about me?" I asked, almost hopefully.

"No." Dennis chuckled. "I thought he could find those out for himself."
My sister in Pennsylvania had a baby that same day, and my mom was traveling from Ohio to see her. I arranged to travel with another staff girl to meet Mom in Harrisburg, then travel with her to my sister's place. I told Mom then, and of course my sister. Peter had already asked (and received) Dad's permission to write me, but Mom and Dad hadn't breathed a word.

The next week I talked to Wanda Eash, and after talking with her I felt my heart beginning to change. Talking to Dad made a big difference too. We hadn't been close over the years and I seldom had a deeply personal conversation with him, though I had a high respect for him and loved him a lot. But one night we talked about me and Peter, and he was so encouraging. He's quiet, and my mom isn't so much, so I asked him about that. "Don't you mind that Mom talks more than you do?" I wondered. "No," he replied, "it's kind of nice!" That made me laugh, but it also helped me realize that my dread of being like Check and Sussann was perhaps unfounded. Check and Sussann were our elderly Amish neighbors while I was growing up, and they were a study in opposites. Check was shy, awkward, quiet, smiling. Susann was voluble, voluble, voluble. They were dear people and wonderful neighbors, but I didn't want to be like them.

And our names! Peter! No one I knew was named Peter. And I wasn't sure about his last name, either. Would I really have to give up Beachy for Schmidt? (I meant, of course, if I were to say yes and if we were to get married.) And, too, Peter the apostle was the one who raised Tabitha the seamstress from the dead in Acts 9. I didn't think of this right then, but it was certainly brought to my attention later. Really. What were the odds?

I talked to a few more friends that week, and God kept on changing my heart through their wise words. Many of the things holding me back were unfounded fears.
In mid-September I wrote Peter back and told him "yes!"

But! I had some conditions. (Nervy.) I just wanted to write at first. No phone calls or dates, yet. Maybe after Christmas we could actually start dating. The idea of going out with a-- well, not a stranger, but, well, anyway, there you are. And Christmas? Peter coming to our house for Christmas? during my precious vacation time with my beloved family? Noooo.

But we could write letters. And it was still a secret. Except, of course, to the people who knew.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Story # 1 Chapter 1

I chose my "story tellers" quite randomly.......Tabitha is a friend of mine from my days of working at Faith Mission Home. I really knew very little about her "how we met" story but knew that she's had some experience in editing and therefore might possibly be ok with writing a story for me :) I'm so glad I did! I've taken the liberty to share her story by chapters, so here you go with the first installment.........


Our Story
Peter and Tabitha (Beachy) Schmidt

At the turn of the century, in 2000, I was living in the lovely mountains of Virginia, on my second year as Girls' Training Supervisor at Faith Mission Home and loving it. I had a fulfilling job, plenty of social life on and off duty, and enough seniority to be able skip some of the myriad evening activities when I wanted. I was part of an amazing chorus committee, worked with a superb team of "office girls," as we called ourselves, and had dozens of meaningful friendships both with staff and others scattered abroad.

Life was really, really good. I was a happy, content 29-year-old. I dreamed of being married, yes. Sometimes I faced private disappointments (at least, I hoped they were private!) when yet another man I hadn't been able to help noticing started dating someone else. As a single, one of the hardest things to face was the fear that I was still unmarried because I was deeply flawed in some way.

(As a married woman, one of my biggest fears is still of being so deeply flawed that I can never be the wife or mother or friend I should be. I have learned it is not a fear unique to singlehood.)

One September day I entered the mailroom, where most of us gathered before lunch break to check for mail. (This was way back in the day, before FMH had email.) This day I found an envelope in my mailbox, minus a return address, addressed in unfamiliar handwriting. "Well!" I declared to the mailroom in general, "this looks interesting!" and sat down right there to read my intriguing letter. As I opened the envelope, I noticed another envelope inside, addressed to the sender. And I knew, without a doubt, that this letter was not to be read in the mailroom, surrounded by staff with a keen interest in each other's love lives or potential romances. I glanced carefully around the room and realized with relief that no one was paying me any attention. I fled.

In the safety of my office, I closed the door and sat at my desk, missive in hand. Funny. My heart is pounding right now, just remembering.

The letter was from a gentleman in Canada, named Peter Schmidt. I knew him slightly. He had worked at FMH in 1994, right after my first term ended. I met him when I went back to visit my sister and friends, and we had seen each other several times since then. The last time I had seen him was in June, when he came for the "big" reunion held at the Home every three years. A group of us former and present staff from the same era got together one evening during the reunion, reminiscing and catching up . Peter and I had been the only unattached ones there, but beyond serving him a glass of water (with a smile, he says), we hadn't talked at all.

In his letter, Peter asked if I would be interested in starting a relationship with him. This wasn't a whim of his -- he'd given it much thought and prayer.

------------------------- And there you can hang in suspense until next time! :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

In Which We Have Story Time

Over the last couple of months I've been trying to encourage a bit more reader interaction. It's been fun to get a little more feed back and to find out who's listening to my blather :) For the month of June, I had planned to do something a little different. June is our anniversary month, so I thought it would be fun to share our story with you and then, as a way to interact with you readers, ask a few of you to share your "How we met" stories! Well, the beginning of June (and our Anniversary) have come and gone and I'm finally getting my act together here!

Two years ago I shared the story of how we met in a series of blog posts I called the "In Which Series". You can go back to the beginning and check them out here. And if you normally get this via email, maybe you'll have to go to the library and do some reading! :) It's a pretty good little tale, one that's fun to remember and re-count. In fact, I'd advise any of you married folks to sit down together and document your story! It does something for you to remember those days, and just exactly why you are where you are might even learn a few things about your story you didn't know before! :)

Our "In Which Series" came about in a rather strange way. We were emailing a friend we'd never met and she wondered how the two of us met? This launched a continued story from us where we would send chapters and she would comment and ask questions. It was so much fun to re-live those memories that we were almost as sorry to have the series end as she was! :)

I have three ladies lined up to share their "How we met" stories with you all and I'll be doing that through out the rest of June. If anyone else wants to volunteer, I'll be glad to include your story in the telling! Just send it to me at :) :) I think you are in for a treat with these three! Enjoy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Day After


Well, it's the day after....... all the bags are (mostly) unpacked, the washer is busily doing it's job, the house is strewn with treasures acquired and tired people. The visitors are all gone, the tearful goodbyes said and the hugs given.

Your prayers sustained us - Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!

We laughed and cried, played and relaxed, cooked and ate, shared "remember when's" and "I wonder what next's", read stories and acted out stories and created new stories, watched the next generation play and create and imagine...and settled a few squabbles. We shared our insides and our outsides, enjoyed the sunshine and the rain, the light and the darkness, and slept a little.

We didn't answer all the questions, or cry all the tears, or solve all the problems, but we loved. We planned and we worked and we journeyed. We stumbled and we wavered and not everything was perfect. But at the end of the day, we looked at all He had done, and it was Good.

*at Mom's funeral, my Aunt Mary showed us a sweet treasure she had found - Little Lavina Paper Dolls! My sisters got their heads together and bought one for each of the grandaughters. My oldest nieces carried on my mom's tradition, and made a Treasure Hunt for the youngest grandchildren while we were together, with paper dolls for the girls and balls for the boys as the treasure.