Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dear Mom

It happened today, Mom. I'm not sure why I chose to let it happen this way but it just seemed the most natural, so I did.

Sometimes I almost forget that Charles never knew you, Mom. Forget that he was only a year old when the call came. Forget that you only ever saw him twice. Forget that the name "Grandma Gingerich" means nothing to him.

We've often looked at pictures together, Charles and I, and it always makes me smile to see his face brighten in recognition at the sight of "Grandpa Gingerich!" He's never asked about the lady with the wavy, white hair and I've left it at that. It never seemed necessary to me to try to explain about a grandma who isn't here anymore. Seemed like it would be so confusing for a little mind.

Lately Charles has been spending lots of time looking at pictures with his Grandpa Eicher who lives up the hill. Grandpa explains every picture in detail, and Charles comes home telling us how Daddy fixed the shop and now we live in it. "It had a garage door," he tells us, "Then daddy put in windows!"

Today we were looking at pictures, just Charles and I. "What are we doing?" he kept asking, and "There's Jasmine and daddy and..." as he pointed out who he knew.

I watched with interest as he started on this one. "There's daddy, and Jasmine, and that's Grandpa Gingerich!" His little finger wavered and there was a long pause. Then he pointed to the lady with the wavy, white hair and asked in a puzzled voice, "Who's that, Mamma?"

There's no way to tell a three year old all that you wish he knew. No way to explain how special that lady is and how much she loved him. No way to magically instill memories that you know he'll never have. No way to fill all the gaps and tell all the stories you hope he'll someday know. No way to stop the lump in the throat and the tightening in the chest...

"That's Grandma Gingerich," I tell him softly. "She died and now we can't see her anymore but that's Grandma Gingerich." Simple, matter of fact, basic. "Uh huh," he nods, then pauses to look again and accepts my explanation without further question.

Someday he'll hear all the stories, Mom. Along the way we'll rehearse memories and stories and remember whens. Little by little he'll pick up the history of the lady with the wavy, white hair. It won't be the same as knowing you, Mom, it can't. But we'll pass on the legacy of who you were. Around the lumps in our throats and through the tears in our eyes we'll give the next tidbit as the opportunity arises.

We saw another picture in our time together today and again the little eyes lit up in recognition and then the little finger wavered.

"Do you remember who that is, Charles? Do you remember Sara?" He nods. "That's Grandma Sara," I tell him and he smiles happily and moves on. Trusting, accepting little child heart! No wonder Jesus told us to become like children.

My heart is full, and humbled, and touched. I think you would be glad, Mom.

Love, Bethany

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On Time Gone

Facebook has this nifty little feature that brings up memories from years past. For example, last Friday, August 19, this picture popped up to remind me that on this day three years ago we were having one last fling before school started.

The really interesting part is that this past Monday, August 22, we did the same thing!

 Sadly, I didn't think to take a picture while Isaac was around so I don't have a perfect comparison.

I know I am not alone in marveling over the way time disappears. The end of July marked five years that we've lived in Ohio. It seems impossible to realize that many years have passed by. On the other hand, when I think back to life before Ohio, the ten years we lived in Arkansas seem like another life time ago! Funny how that works.

It's also funny how one little bunny trail of thought leads to another. This whole subject of time and how it marches on brought to mind a poem I remember my mom using on old scrapbook sheets. Mom liked to collect poems and sayings. I can just see the the thin, brown notebook she wrote them in with it's pages full of her fine, even cursive. I'm not sure why I remember this one but it came to mind today --

When as a babe I ate and slept, 
        Time crept.
When as a boy I laughed and talked, 
        Time walked.
When I became a full grown man,
        Time ran.
When older still I daily grew,
        Time flew.
Soon I shall find in passing on,
        Time gone.

That last line makes my mind go round and round.

It kind of makes the tears and struggles of five years ago (or two or ten) seem silly. Time will soon be gone anyway, why bother stressing? We won't always be spending our time keeping the three miles hot between this house and the new one with all the constant working on projects. We won't always be washing paint off our hands and staining trim and picking out flooring and cringing at the bill. Enjoy the moment!

It also makes me realize how important it is to focus on the important things. My children likely won't remember how quickly the spiderwebs reproduced in this house or how full the corners were or how little space there was to maneuver in the bathroom. Now they might, if their mom constantly fusses about it!

Otherwise, they're a lot more likely to remember fondly the house where you could get what you needed from the fridge without getting up from the table. Or the ease of dirty laundry, washer/dryer and all the clothes hanging on hangers in the same room. Or giggling and singing and talking while sleeping four in a room, three on one mattress....

I'm rambling, I know. It's hard to pull the "round and round" of my mind together into one coherant thought.

What I'm trying to say is this - My lens is so small. Through it, I see only today ...or last week or last year... with all it's cares and tears and fears and heartaches. If I'm not careful, the here and now will consume me and I'll fail to see the beautiful picture I could have enjoyed had I accepted a wider lens to look through. Time will be gone.

I'll close with one last reminder thanks to Facebook.

Five years ago yesterday these two headed off to a new school full of new students with new teachers who taught a new curriculum. I remember how hard that was on this Mom's heart. I felt so cruel leaving them there to fend for themselves! But they loved it.

And here we are five years later.

We do not know what tomorrow will hold, but we know Who holds tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Busy Days, A Recipe, And A Happy Weekend To You!

Life has been full and busy lately. One thing tumbles upon another and it feels like we're in a race to fill up all the tiny crevices before school starts and then maybe we'll come to a screeching halt and take a deep breath.

Or maybe we won't.

Sometime back at the beginning of this thing called summer vacation I actually felt like there was hardly anything to do. So I got the wild idea that we should make quilts for the girls room in the new house.

I looked up quilt ideas and found the most lovely chevron pattern that was so easy. Not only was it easy, the way you put it together was so cool. With great enthusiasm we went out shopping and made long, deliberated choices over yellows and greys. We brought the stacks home and tucked them in the corner and..... as far as I know, they are still there.

I am making no bets on whether the stack will ever turn into a quilt.

But anyway, the last two weeks have been busy. Last week Chris took off work several days and worked at the house. He and Isaac turned stacks of lumber into neat piles of cut, sanded and stained trim. We also finished painting on the main floor and felt a kinship to The Color Kittens with all our mixing of colors.

In between helping at the house, we helped grandma do corn and filled our freezer with peaches.

Not everyone was thrilled with the idea of needing to help but they sure will be happy when those same peaches show up in their lunch box at school!

This week we did more corn, for us this time, and now our freezer can't hold another thing! Someday we may have to give in and buy a bigger one but so far I always manage to squeeze everything in again and it makes me feel all accomplished somehow. In a few weeks we'll be able to buy ice cream again, for now we'll just look at all the bounty and count our blessings.

Cooking is not my thing, as you all know by now, and summer time does nothing to help that shortcoming. When we're busy and it's hot, it's so easy to not cook anything worth speaking of. Please don't ask my children to list what they've eaten lately, you might be horrified. I know I would be!

Gina, over at Home Joys, has been sharing summer meal ideas - you might remember her from my "How We Met" stories in June. Unfortunately her ideas didn't help me out much because I have a family who isn't impressed with anything unusual or different (i.e. pizza loaded with fresh veggies, etc) but you might find it interesting!

Just for anyhow I'll share my pizza and breadstick recipe, since I managed to accomplish making more than hotdogs or leftovers for once. The recipe for the dough happens to be one I got from Gina's blog.


2 Cups Warm Water
2 T Yeast
2 tsp Sugar

Combine in mixer bowl, mix. Let set until it starts to bubble. 

1/3 Cup Oil
2 tsp Salt
3-4 tsp Italian Seasoning
5-6 Cups Flour

Add oil and seasonings, mix. Add flour one cup at a time until dough is soft and pliable.

Place dough in greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise 30-60 min.

Divide dough in two pieces. Roll one piece for pizza crust; place on pan and prick with a fork. Allow to rise.

Roll remaining piece and place in pan; score lines for breadsticks. Allow to rise.

Heat oven to 425. Pre-bake pizza crust 10-12 min.

Prepare Breadsticks:

Brush with 3 T Melted Butter and sprinkle with following mixture:

2 T Parmesan Cheese
1/4 T Garlic Powder
1/2 T Garlic Salt
1/2 T Onion Powder
1/2 T Oregano
1/2 T Parsley Flakes

Bake @ 425 for 15 min. 

Meanwhile spread sauce on pizza and add toppings; return to oven for 5-6 min. Enjoy! 

When there's pizza, we use paper plates. Not sure how that tradition started!

That looks long and complicated but it's not really. The breadsticks are absolutely scrumptious, in my humble opinion.

Happy Weekend

Take time to admire the spiderwebs!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Good Mom (by Shannan Martin)

If you are a mom, this is for you. I am an avid reader of all things written by Shannan. I like to pretend we are real life, sit-at-the-table-with-a-cup-of-tea friends. In reality, I only know her through what she writes and a few random messages and emails. Today I'm sharing one of her blog posts with you. Enjoy!


I stood in my kitchen, dragging a soapy rag across the counter-top in the stillness of a frosty morning, listening in through the tiny speaker of my phone as two women I've never met gabbed. I nodded along and laughed with them. I learned from them. They made doing the dishes a more companionable endeavor. 

"Everyone does motherhood differently. There's no one right way. At the end of the day, my kids are all serving the Lord, so I'm obviously doing something right. That's how I know I'm a good mom."

I rinsed the skillet, drained the sink, and turned her words over and over.
I went about my day, and they went with with me.

I've probably spoken similar things, though not recently. There was a time, earlier in motherhood, when I clung to the cute prayers my toddlers would whisper in the fade of dusk, all their s's filed down with a lisp. I remember "praying the prayer" with a pre-schooler and believing I had fulfilled my life's work.

I penned entire volumes on yellow legal pads to my son sitting in prison and felt closer to the Lord than I'd ever been. And when his responses landed like a song in my mail box, stacked with questions about God, loopy script devoid of punctuation but pulled hard toward possibility, I had never been more certain of His love for me. Robert found God apart from us, and I knew nothing of the jailhouse Jesus. The only Jesus I knew was the one who cannot be outrun. He's the one who sniffs people out in dark corners where they're positioned to listen. I know this from experience.

Yet all around were Christians who found themselves incapable of holding a steady gaze when I glowed about the redemption of my newest son. Their skepticism showed its face in the single arch of an eyebrow and I burned with unholiness. Others dove straight into the deep end of my hallelujah, and I worried I hadn't given them the full story.

The truth is, opinions had no bearing on the gravity of the miracle. Wait, was it a miracle? Or was I just naive? I became vigilant about Robert's spiritual health, constantly taking his pulse, checking his vitals, looking past his pain in search of fire. I was a good mom, after all. My status hinged on it staying lit.

Over time, I quietly grew satisfied with just a few curls of smoke. You know what they say about smoke, that somewhere, something smolders. All it takes is one strong whip of wind... 

He moved in, and the roots of our love pulled us equally under, anchoring us as a family. He moved toward us, and away from God. He sat in the dark - we sat there with him - and he said he wanted us forever, but not our faith. 

The longer I'm a mom, the less I really know. I'm probably not alone in this. 

But here are a few things I do know. I know the church has allowed us to believe our job is to raise children of God, or maybe it's soldiers for Christ or Jesus Freaks or some other cliche that feeds our hunger for independence and pride. It's half true at most, and the distinction is important. We are tasked with leading our children well, pointing them to the cross while bearing the unique weight of not owning another's soul. Nothing more. 

I know our kids who look us straight in the eye and say they don't want God might be the very people God uses to remind us of His unflagging affection and authority. 

I know when we default to boring, blanket statements about whether or not we're getting things "right", it's only because we know there are so many glaring things we're getting wrong. We are all hard-wired to self-soothe. We want so badly to sleep at night. I get it. But we are not fooled by our own words. These platitudes do not strengthen the kingdom. 


I am learning to count grace where I find it, often in the most unlikely places. Two nights ago I wrestled for it in the dark. Where was it? 

The wrenching truth is, I pray for the salvation of all my children (and you know I use "children" loosely) but I can do nothing to secure it. There are moms who have "heard from the Lord" that their children will all come to serve Christ. I am not her.

I do hear from the Lord. Our talks are unfancy treasure, infusing the air around me. They are my feet on the pavement, my hand on my child's cheek, the water beating down on my shoulders in the morning, the closed fists of blossoms making promises they will keep. He loves me. He adores you. He created R in His image, with intention. I can be sure of this. 

Our job is not to lasso our kids' hearts for God then hand Him the rope. We cannot tie our goodness to an outcome that was never ours to to create.We've gotten this all wrong. Our job is to reflect His goodness while we are here in the land of the fumbling, wrecking-ball living. 

It's time to reshape this narrative. 

When I walk in my limitations, I am a good mom. When I remember my cupboards are bare of power and sovereignty, I am a good mom. 
When I have the courage to look at my screw-ups and past theirs, I am a good mom. 
When I am willing to see myself in their thin places, I am a good mom. 
When I pull my wanderer into a tight hug and promise there is no end to my love, I am a good mom. 
When I speak the truth, pray, and hold up my light with shaking arms because it's all I know to do, I am a good mom. 

When I never stop hoping, I am a good mom. 

God holds us in his palm. We can only feel the ground under our own two feet. But it's bright here. It's warm. We radiate the goodness of our safe place. It's impossible to know who might be moving toward the light on our faces. 

Maybe that's the whole point and perhaps it is exactly enough.

-- Shannan Martin


If you enjoyed this, you might also like to know that Shannan has a book coming out in September! You can pre-order it here.

Blessings on your weekend.

You are a Good Mom.

Monday, August 8, 2016

10 Things A Mom Might Discover

1. Laundry multiplies on it's own overnight. I am convinced.

2. Keeping track of ten fingernails and ten toenails is nothing. It's when you have eighty + individual nails you are responsible for that you might end up with a handful that looks like this --

          Sorry. That was gross but real.

3. If you own a couch and have little people in the house for any number of years, you cannot even begin to imagine what all gets down into said couch. Let's just say removing the bottom of your old couch before you burn it might reveal things you never thought you would see again .... not to mention plenty of things you never wanted to see again. Don't ask me how I know.

4. There is nothing sweeter than having your three year old crawl up beside you, snuggle in close and say, "I like you Mamma!"

5. Children who only have to dry any dishes that won't fit in the drainer or on the towel are some of the world's best stackers.

6. Trash also multiplies overnight. Seriously, how DO the trash cans get full so fast??? I will tell you this - it is not because people put things in the trash cans because....

7. I will never understand why it is so much easier to leave the papers, wrappers, Kleenex, what-have-you, right where they fall. What do they think trash cans are for, I wonder?

Not to mention stray cups and bowls...

8. Dusting and cleaning the cobwebs out of every nook and cranny is way overrated. You can easily have a decent looking house just by straightening everything up. Not sure if you learn this from your children or because you have children?

9. Light switches are so much easier to switch on than off. Apparently once they are in the "up" position it takes the strength of mom's arm to get them back down. What other explanation could there be??

10. There is no feeling like that of sitting around the table or living room with your offspring and discussing Big Questions or re-telling family stories or arguing the meaning of words and realizing how much you love these people - fingernails, never-ending laundry and wayward trash notwithstanding.

Monday, August 1, 2016

"It is Good"

   "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells toll; it tolls for thee."

                             -- John Donne

You readers are special to me.
Did you know?
You are a
'piece of my continent'.

You have laughed with me,
cried with me,
encouraged me,
disagreed with me,
prayed for me,
advised me,
and taught me many things.

Some of you have taken the time to leave me comments or write me emails;
You have blessed me.

Some of you have come to me in person 
and said things like,
 "I love reading your blog!"
I always squirm and blush 
and don't know what to say,
but you have blessed me too!

Saturday was a beautiful, special day.
Your prayers were a part of that,
and I thank you.

Yes, there were emotions
of every kind.

But at the end of the day,
my heart felt happy
and I could say with sincerity,
"It is good."

I think they agree with me! 😊