Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In Which I Tell You a Story

It's an interesting little story I have to tell, at least I think it's interesting. I'm not sure that it has a dazzling point or any noble truth, but it's interesting just the same. I could possibly say my point is to prove the "good-ness" of the cyber filled world we live in, but I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just telling you for fun. Because it IS fun, and interesting :) Now that I've gotten you interested, let's begin.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago - 14 1/2 years to be exact, I reported for duty at Faith Mission Home in the hills of Virginia. Faith Mission Home (FMH) is a home for mentally handicapped children. Young people from here, there and anywhere come there to help care for, and teach, these children. I worked at FMH for a little over a year, then returned to my home in AR to prepare for my wedding.

Time passed by and an email group called FMH Friends was started which I became a part of. This group included the people I had worked with that year, and also some folks who worked there after me. It was a great way to keep in touch - to find out about dates, marriages, births, deaths and so forth of people you quickly lost track of! It was also a great place to start discussions. Someone would introduce a "hot" topic and the
emails would fly!! Sometimes the debates got a little carried away, but usually they were good, wholesome discussions that made you think.

We soon began to know people by their writing. You know how it is, you soon know who's input is going to be interesting, who's is going to make the most sense, who's is worth reading, who's will make you laugh.... There was one girl whose emails were all of the above! We didn't know her, she had worked at FMH after my time, but we sure enjoyed her input.

About five years ago one day, on a whim (like I do), I sent her a personal email and told her how much we enjoyed and appreciated her input on FMH Friends. She promptly replied and so began an email "friendship"! We exchanged pictures and discussed many and diverse topics - I had forgotten just how many and diverse until I went back in the archives the other night and re-read some of them! She asked us how we met? And so was born the "In Which" series that I later shared here. That was the most fun I ever had at writing! We would write a chapter and she would eagerly ask questions and guess what was coming next! When we were done, she returned the favor and told us her life story. We discovered she was an even more remarkable woman than we thought! We also discovered that the town she called home, Chambersburg, PA,  was the same town where Chris first saw the light of day and lived the first 3 years of his life!

Well, time went on and we would occasionally email back and forth about this and that. Then one day in April 2013, there came an email with some very interesting news! Our friend was embarking on her own "In Which" series and letting us in on the story! We felt privileged to be a part of her story and I like to think maybe we gave her a bit of helpful counsel and encouragement along the way :) One day she told us, "If this story ends in marriage you WILL be invited..." or something like that...and we said to ourselves "And we WILL be there"!

Well, this past Saturday was the Big Day! Chris and I left all of our tribe with Grandpas on Friday and went to Chambersburg, PA. There we renewed aquaintences with the people who had been "grandparents/family" to Chris away back in the day, and we attended the wedding of Glendon Kuhns and Lana Martin and, at last, met her in person!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I am the age you were when I was born. What did you feel like as the busy mother of five - 14, 11, 9, 7, and 4 - welcoming another little one? I wish I could see you back in those days, cause here I am, nearly in your shoes with five - 12, 10, 6, 5, and 1 1/2! Such an odd feeling.

What would the 35 year old you wish to tell the 35 year old me? Would you want to tell me how nice I have it with my automatic washer and my microwave and no chicken house full of chickens to take care of and a husband who doesn't need to go off to teach at CBS or have a week of meetings in another state?

Would you sympathize with me over lack of sleep and the changing times of children growing up? Would you understand and identify with struggling to find time for just you and the Lord?

And your marriage, what was it like back at age 35? Did you have discussions about how many children you should have? Did you have moments of worry wondering how in the world you would cope should something happen to your man? Did you have disagreements when you wondered why you love this man, and then days of bliss when you loved him more than you thought possible?

How did you feel about being 35, I wonder? Did you look at your sagging belly and disappearing hair and feel old and ugly sometimes? Did you discover yourself worrying about things you never used to worry about and lacking the love for adventure and thrill you used to have?

It's hard to imagine you being my age and me the tiny baby in your arms! It's too bad we have to get so old before we really understand what all our parents did for us! I wonder if the 35 year old you felt as young and lacking in maturity and "having it together" as the 35 year old me does? Funny how time changes things. I tend to think of myself as still "young married" and I certainly wouldn't have thought you would have felt that way when I was born, I wonder if you did?

There's a lot of things I wonder, mom, but there's one thing I know. You survived. You mothered six of us, you worked hard, you loved well, you made mistakes and kept going, you accepted the changes that came with the years, you finished with your Faith intact. Thank you mom! I only hope to do the same.

Love, Bethany

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Sympathy Card

Jennifer's classmate lost her grandma last week after a very short battle with cancer. My heart goes out to them. Ever since I heard the news of her cancer, I've tried to imagine what they're going through. How would it feel to know your mother, who you thought was fine, only had weeks to live? Which really is worse, to lose your mother suddenly with no warning, or to know you have a very short time and watch her suffer? That's a question that has no answer. They're both hard.

I mentioned to Jennifer yesterday that she should give her friend a card. At first she couldn't understand why? So I explained that they're called sympathy cards and since Jennifer knows what it's like to have her grandma die, she could understand how her friend might be feeling. Like usual when we talk too much about grandma not being here anymore, Jennifer said "Stop talking about it. It just makes me want to cry when you talk about it!" I let the idea go and said no more about it.

The girls spent all afternoon playing outside after school today. The weather was beautiful and they had so much fun playing school! We've been noticing that some of grandma's marigolds are about ready to gather seeds from them, so I wasn't surprised when they excitedly showed me a whole butter bowl of seeds they'd gathered. I was surprised, however, when Jennifer came to me with shining eyes and said, "Mom, I could make Marla a card - you know, a sympathy card - and tell her that I know how it is to miss my grandma and sometimes you just feel like crying and then we could put some marigold seeds in something to give her and tell her they're from my grandma's flowers!"

Oh, little girl! Yeah. Sometimes you do just feel like crying!

I was thrilled to help her with her card and find a little bag to put seeds in to tuck inside. Even now tears fill my eyes just thinking about her sweet, innocent excitement over her idea. Mom would be so delighted to know her marigolds are being passed along for others to enjoy! Even more, she would be pleased to hear of her grandaughter's idea.

Your love and care for others is living on, Mom!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

*But God*

This morning I sat in church and listened to an interesting devotions. We heard about conjunctions, know what those are? They're little words that connect words or groups of words together in a sentence, like "and" "but" "or".... He said that "but" was an interesting conjunction because it tells you what's coming next is going to contradict what was just said. For example, if he said "I love my wife, and...." nobody would be too interested. If, however, he said "I love my wife, but....." everyone would immediately perk up to hear what was coming next! Then he gave us some interesting verses in the Bible, instances where the phrase "but God" was used -- Gen 50:20 "...ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good..." Eph 2:3-4 "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past.... but God, who is rich in mercy..." are two, and there's many more. His point was, how many "but God" moments happen in our lives? How often do we miss them?

My mind started rolling and I thought it might be fun to go back over my life ...briefly... and check out some "but God" moments. There are so many, many of them if you start considering! And so many, many more that I probably don't even know or realize. Try it sometime!


Once upon a time, there was a husband and a wife with 5 children. They were quite content with their little family... *but God* thought it good to add one more little person to their number, and Bethany Ann was born. The little girl grew and played and learned. She wished for a sister her age - for little girls her age! *But God* surrounded her with little boy playmates in her world. The little girl became school age, and soon would join her siblings in going off to the local public school.... *but God* laid it on the hearts of her parents to switch to a Christian school for her first grade year, and then, to start their own church school where she attended the rest of her school years. The young girl graduated and entered the years of youth and it's activities. She put in her application for Bible school and heard, with dismay, that her name was on the waiting list. The last chance to get in came and went....*but God* arranged an empty bed and an invitation for her to fill it at the last possible minute. Amongst the many to cross her path was a young man from a family of all boys (hmmmm...) He didn't think much of her nor she of him.....*but God* threw them together on the Yearbook staff and the opinions slowly began to change! The two left Bible School and went their ways. Both had dreams of Voluntary Service in VA in their heads... *but God* led the young man to ask a question, the young lady to answer "yes" and only her to end up in VA. Two years passed by and the young lady answered "yes" to another question, an answer that would join the two young people for life. Now the young man was from Ohio, and the girl from Arkansas, so a decision had to be made as to where the young couple would reside. The young man had a job in Ohio, a church in Ohio, a family in Ohio....*but God* moved in his heart to choose Arkansas for their home. The two spent happy years together making a home and a family and a place in their community. They moved from their rented trailer to their own land and their own house that they planned and remodeled and spent hours on together. *But God* also brought hard times. The work dwindled and the bills loomed and the money became tight. The young father worked long days with little time left for his family. There was surgery for a son and a hospital stay for a newborn. There were days of discouragement and despair, days spent learning what it meant to trust completely in the Heavenly Father...... *but God* provided a job offer in Ohio and, hard as it was to pull up roots, the time was right. The young family packed up their belongings, said their goodbyes and headed out for a new start in a new place........

There's much, much more to the story, but just that little slice is enough to make me stop and consider the hand of a sovereign God in the details of my life. Where would you and I be ....*but God*??

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Little Boy Shoes and Faith

My little boy has gone barefoot all summer long. His little feet are tanned and tough as leather - you should see him walk across the gravel! Truth be told he hasn't had a pair of shoes to his name for months now! I have totes full of clothes saved from big brother, but when we moved, the boy shoes were one thing I decided could go.

It's suddenly chilly in Ohio! The days of flip flops and bare feet are dwindling fast, and an outdoor, evening wedding almost certainly called for shoes. So, we went shopping. Nice little boy shoes, whether second hand or new, are not as easily come by as girl's! Maybe I was just too picky. I didn't want to have to buy more than one pair of shoes - something casual, but nice enough to wear for church all in one, ya know....

Do you believe there is a God? Like, do you pray about little boy shoes and such things? Have you ever known someone who's gone sour on prayer? Someone who says, "It probably would have happened anyway, why pray?" We do.

I can't *prove* that there is a God, did you know that? I can't prove it to my children, I can't prove it to the drunk at the bar, I can't prove it to the orphan on the street, I can't prove it to the church boy turned atheist, I can't even prove it to MySeLf! Oh, sure, I can argue til I'm blue in the face and dredge up every speck of evidence I can think of -- the wonders of creation, the birth of a baby, answered prayers, the change from sinner to saint -- but when it comes right down to it, I can't *prove* there is a God. I've never seen Him. I've never heard Him audibly. I've never been able to reach out and actually touch Him. If you're talking about concrete, reach-out-and-touch-it evidence, than no. I can't *prove* a thing.

I've told you before that Chris says I don't think something's a bargain unless it's free. Well, the shoe hunt was getting a little long and frustrating, and he finally told me in exasperation, "You're not gonna find the shoes you're looking for for less than 15 - 20 dollars unless God drops them down from Heaven onto your head in the Goodwill!!" I knew we were both thinking of our prayer-turned-sour friend, so I laughed and said, "And there's no point praying cause they'd be there anyway whether we prayed or not!"

A little prayer went up as we left the shoe store, and as we pulled into a parking space at Walmart I kept up the joke, "I don't know why you're going here, our shoes are over at the Goodwill!" He grinned at me and promptly backed out of the space, "You called it!" and we drove down the shopping center to the Goodwill. I grabbed Charles and my purse and went in.

Joking aside, I believe God cares about little boy shoes. I can't *prove* it; I don't need to. But I believe it. My eyes quickly scanned the shoes in that store...too big, too little, tennis shoes, perfect little girl shoes...nope. I turned away and cast one last glance over the children's section. Ahh, there were a few shoes along the back wall. And there they were! Exact size, not just tennis shoes, not dressy shoes. They weren't the shoes I'd pictured, no. In fact, I wasn't sure that I liked them at all! Still.........I tried them on Charles and looked in vain for a price. Gathering up shoes and boy, I went to the cashier, "How much?" I asked, holding the shoes up. "79 cents," she announced cheerfully! If I had been hesitating over the pictured shoes in my mind, I stopped immediately. Putting the shoes back on the shelf at this point would have been nothing short of sacrilegious! I got in line.

Can I prove to you that God put those shoes there just for me? No. Can I refute the argument that they would have been there anyway, whether I prayed or not? No. The fact is, I DID ask and they WERE there, I really don't have to prove anything about it! That, my friend, is what is meant by Faith.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My All Day Excursion

I am married to the Mastermind of Surprises, the Ultimate Planner of Random Fun Days, the Man With the Ideas ....you get the idea! About a month ago an email showed up in my inbox saying:

Dear Bethany

We are pleased to inform you that we have a delightful activity booked for your enjoyment on the tenth of September. Please be sure to mark your calendar. Also, if you should have any young children we request that you make arrangements for someone to care for them as this is an adults only experience. We look forward to seeing you in September.

Confession - I have blonde moments at times. (Ahem!) Ok, more times than I care to admit. But, seriously, I get so many ridiculous emails saying "Aunt So-and-So died and left you thousands of dollars...." and all this kind of nonsense and I get sick of it! So I did what I do with those emails, I gave it a cursory glance and deleted it. Dumb thing!

Later, Chris made some comment about the email I received. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it suddenly dawned on me that the email I had deleted was from him!! The next day this showed up in my inbox:

We have not received a reply concerning your all expenses paid activity on the above mentioned date. Please respond as soon as possible so we can reserve your spot on this unique opportunity. Failure to respond with enthusiasm could result in the cancellation of your confirmed reservation.

Sincerely, The Reservation Desk

Oh, what a guy! :) I returned a properly sophisticated reply of enthusiastic acceptance and went on to receive the details. Our electric co-op offers a yearly, expenses paid tour of the Cardinal Electric Plant for it's members. Chris has wanted to take advantage of it, so this year he reserved two spots for the tour, which was today!

We departed from our house at 7:15 a.m. (yes, I got up at an unearthly hour to pack lunches, drug the first grader out of bed to comb her hair....) It's times like these when it's well worth living in Grandma's yard! She gladly took over for the day and away we went to meet our bus in Cambridge!

There were about 40 of us on the bus pictured above, and we were privileged to have the gentlemen striding along in the photo as our driver. I wish I had a better picture, he was a "Dandy", as we would say! :) We rode the bus for about an hour, enjoying each other's company and snippets of conversation all around us along the way.

Once through security at the Electric Plant, we all grabbed our gear and looked more or less like the lady pictured second from top for the rest of the day =P (I should have a picture of the lady's hair after the hard hat was removed, but none are available) We split up into groups of 8 and proceeded with our guided tour of the place.

Amazing. Unbelievable. Fantastic! Truth be told, I'm not much into Electric Plants. The statistics and facts flew mostly in one ear and out the other to be honest. It was one of those days when I tried to fathom what it would be like to be a man. To stand there listening to the guide's lingo and actually make perfect sense of it all. And, not only that, have the understanding to form knowledgeable, coherant questions to ask the man! All around me were men who nodded at the answers and promptly tucked information away to bring forth later in the bus to discuss with their seatmates in animated tones. Men are amazing! And, granted, not all women are like me...

I enjoyed the tour. The sheer enormity of the equipment and complexity of the system was enough to amaze and impress whether you understood everything or not! The weather was georgous and the company delightful. It was a fun day.

After the tour, we gathered back under the tent for our choice of snacks and drink while we waited for the rest of our group. Then, it was back on the bus and off to Mehlman's Cafeteria for lunch! After we were all properly filled, (and entertained by waiters and so forth) we climbed aboard the bus once more and enjoyed our ride back to Cambridge.

There, we left the group behind and stopped here and there and ended sitting at the park for the last long while discussing things of interest. Then it was time to head back home and hug little people and talk and hear about each other's days and dole out tylenol and some holding to the little girl who's not feeling good...... Welcome Home!

So, there was my day. I love being married to This Man!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Night "Happys"

* little girl with sparkling eyes and a self chosen gift for her teacher in hand

* little boy who's battle to give a haircut results in funny, buzzed, grown up little look

* big girl making chili soup for supper and loving to help in the kitchen

* Hi Ho Cherry-O and Go Fish with 2 pleased little girlies

* a school birthday party and the realization that the "new-kid-on-the-block" sensation is lower than it used to be

* big kids who clean up supper - clear table, put food away, wash dishes - while I walk away scott free!

* talks with several people recently that were the good, heart-to-heart type

* empty tin can, a bit of ribbon....examining flowers, snipping carefully and tucking bright, cheerful orbs here, there....a bit of green, a smattering of queen ann....lovely, fun bouquets in the simplest of fashion

* children tucked in, quiet stillness in the hush of dark and lamplight

* An All Day Excursion Tomorrow, just Me and Him! :) :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In Correction

I've been informed that the link in my last post doesn't work. Told you I was technically challenged when it came to those! The problem is, I can only post from my phone and I am unable to do all the fancy stuff. Including going in and editing a post that's already published =( So. Here's the corrected link (I hope!)


Happy Birthday Lillian

Happy 5th Birthday to my shy, quiet little Lillian Bethany. Sometimes I'm afraid you get lost in the shuffle, little girl. You like to hide in the shadows and avoid public attention at any cost, it seems to go with the name - I know the feeling well! You have a contagious giggle and, contrary to what others think, you can talk quite a lot once you get started! You still like when mom holds you, even if she doesn't take time to do it nearly often enough. I love you, little lady! I'm so glad God chose to surprise us with daughter number 3 when we least expected it! Hope your 5th year is full of happy times at home before your school days begin.
I had fun with these high heel cupcakes! I copied them shamelessly from Sheri of Confessions of a Woman Learning to Live http://sheri.zooks.us
She said she copied them shamelessly from another source, so I did the same :) I know that link doesn't take you right to her post, I'm technically challenged when it comes to links. But her blog is so good, I'm sure you won't mind reading down through til you get to her post about high heel cupcakes!! :)
And now, there's a mess to clean up and supper to start......

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dear Mom

It's one of those days, Mom. The kind where the longing to pick up the phone and tell you things threatens to overwhelm. The kind where the tears spill if I allow my mind to 'go there'. I miss you so much, Mom!

Every time I spend a day canning it feels incomplete without emailing you the results of my day. When we came back from our FMH Reunion, it felt like something was missing without telling you all about who we saw and what we did. I needed you this morning to ask (again) how much canning salt do you put in Tomato Juice? I missed having you ask "What would Lillian want for her birthday?" And there's so many times when it seems I need to tell you things that I know you would have loved to hear about...

People keep asking me, "How is your dad doing?" Can someone tell me how to answer that question? I never know quite what to say, and added to that is the embarrasing fact that I haven't talked to him for....awhile. Yesterday I made myself pick up the phone and dial...his cell phone. I couldn't quite get myself to call the house.

I hadn't even realized how much I'd been avoiding calling home. See, I never called home to talk to Daddy. Oh, sure, sometimes he answered and I'd chat with him too, it's not that I mind talking to him, but I always called to talk to you, Mom. Now, you're not there, and calling home makes it painfully real. So I just didn't call - I'm not a phone person anyway, I don't call anyone! I text occasionally, and I send an email once a week, and he reads my blog....... but the truth of the matter is, I dreaded the painful reality of calling home.

They say grief comes in stages -- we make jokes about it, "Probably that's just another stage of grief!" when something wacky happens -- I suppose they're right. I'd rather have it all one time and be done but that's just not the way it works. So, here we are, Mom. Stage 6: (or is it 16? Or 60? 600?) Still Missing You.

Love, Bethany

PS. And in case Heaven has any use for blogs, Pic #1: the tomato juice I canned today. 26 jars. Free tomatoes given from Chris' Aunt. Pic #2: Lillian's "playhouse" birthday gift. Made by her daddy. Your marigolds in the foreground. Pic #3: Jennifer and Lillian's own little tea party. Set up on their own. Bonnets and all.