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 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 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!