Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Way Of A Baby With A World

The room was packed as we inched our way forward in the long procession of people headed for the tables of food. Rows and rows of tables and chairs covered every available space in the room, leaving only narrow aisles for our line to squeeze through. My husband and I are avid people watchers and we found plenty of entertainment amongst the wide variety who had gathered. Perhaps, after all, it was the tiniest person attending who received the most attention. I noticed her first, down by my feet to the right. She was tucked comfortably into her car seat, one fist in her mouth and her blanket slipping down to nearly cover one eye.

"Aww, look at her," I nudged my husband and nodded toward the baby. "Isn't she cute?" Even he, who likes to remark on the fact that no child is as ugly as one who's not your own, agreed.

We exchanged a few words with the little miss's mom who was busily enjoying her food while keeping one eye on her baby and smiling at everyone who passed and took note of the little charmer. Babies have a way of doing that, you know. Without even trying, they somehow manage to capture people's attention and melt hearts just a little.

If you've ever had a baby of your own, you know the phenomenon of suddenly attracting attention wherever you go. At the grocery store, the restaurant, the church, the parking lot, you name it; wherever you go you are showered with smiles and comments and attention. People who would have never given you a second look otherwise, suddenly smile at you with warmth in their eyes and stop to hold your door or pick up the quarter you dropped. I remember an occasion where we were having lunch with friends at a restaurant, along with our three young children. The baby, especially, was drawing lots of attention. As a friendly lady paused beside our table to inquire and gush over each child's name, our friend spoke up mischievously, "My name is Billy!" Somehow no one had thought to ask him.

Babies seem to bring out the best in everyone, from children to old, weathered men. I remember another occasion when our oldest was small and upon leaving a restaurant, we discovered our bill had been paid by some kind gentleman who had admired our sweet, little boy.

There is a baby in our church right now who is just absolutely the sweetest thing ever. Dark eyes, lots of dark hair, perfect complexion, squishable cheeks and chubby little arms and legs. She'll look at you with the most solemn expression that practically begs to be cajoled into a smile. If you are successful, her grins are enough to turn the hardest heart into mush.

A while back I began noticing the reactions to this child at our church. From the young girls who fight for the chance to hold every baby in sight; to the mothers, busy with young ones of their own; to the husbands like mine who think the cutest child is their own; to the older men, who rarely hold a baby since their own are grown, the reactions are all the same -- complete and total adoration.

I've seen grown men ask to hold her during church; all manner of faces and contortions to coax a smile; softened eyes and gentle smiles every time.

This particular baby is the foster child of our pastor and his wife. It's as if the heartbreaking reality of all the brokenness in this world shines forth from that one sweet, little face and all of us soften and step forward to somehow ease the ache. That such purity and innocence should encounter the harshness of humanity is almost more than anyone with a heart can bear. The very sight of her prompts us all to pour forth the love we so long to see heal this broken world. On more than one occasion, as I've watched some grown man trying to coax a smile during church or noticed a grandpa jiggling her on his knee, I've felt a quick lump in my throat and blinked back a tear.

In this Christmas season, as the story of the Messiah's coming is told and retold in the programs and carols and sermons, my mind keeps going to that sweet baby at our church. Remembering the way she has captured our hearts and affection, one question keeps repeating itself in my mind.

Is it any wonder Jesus was sent to us as a baby?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

And The Winner Is...

I realize that I failed to put an end date on my 'honoring my mom' giveaway. Since I generally leave a giveaway open for a week, I sat down last night and read back through all the comments to count them up and choose a winner.

There are a lot of wise mothers out there. Would you like to hear what our mothers have taught us?

My Mother Taught Me ----

* The importance of prayer

* To treat others how you want to be treated

* Honesty

* Forgiveness is a choice, not based on feelings

* The importance and meaning of the word "No"

* To always talk kindly about others

* How to be hospitable

* To love people even when they are unlovable

* To reach out to the neighbors

* How to sew

* Respect for school teachers

* To fold laundry neatly

* It is better to give than to receive

* Be a friend to everyone even if they don't look "cool"

* To write thank you notes

* How to clean house

* To give credit to others

* To enjoy books and poetry

* "If you don't have anything good to say about someone, be quiet."

* I can depend on God in every situation

* To care for others even if things aren't perfect

* How to spoil my husband

* "Get at it and do it"

* To apologize when I've done wrong as a parent

* Life skills - and if she didn't know how, she had someone else teach me

* To reach out to those who are hurting

* To accept life as it comes without complaint

Thank you so much for sharing with me, I loved reading through all your comments!

My mom taught me many things, as well. As a mom myself now, I often think of mom's actions that spoke louder than words. Many were the times she let us play with something that might end up broken or lost or ruined. I didn't think much of it then, when I was begging to play with baby clothes from her cedar chest, but I think of it now. While she could have taught us to be harder workers instead of washing those dishes so we could play a game, she was showing us by her actions that we were more important than the things she owned or all the work that got accomplished. She loved nothing more than seeing us having fun and using our imaginations.

Last night, as I read through your comments and counted up what number to feed into, I mentioned to Chris that I needed to choose a winner.

"How many names do you have?" He wondered.

I told him the number I had come up with.

"Why don't you give them all a book?"

I'm sure my eyes got as big as saucers because he laughed and said, "Why not? It would be fun!"

And so, all you lovely people who blessed my day by leaving a comment, please email your address to It will take a little time to get all the details situated but thanks to my generous husband (and Dorcas Smucker herself, who was also very generous) eventually each and every one of you will be receiving a copy of "Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy"!

You heard that correctly.

Now isn't that a nice Christmas surprise?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, and A Giveaway!

Today my mom would be 74.

I was all set to come here this morning and write lots of sentimental stuff about what she taught me and do a giveaway in her honor, like I've done the last three years since her death. I say I was all set -- I actually wasn't in the mood. I have way too many other things that need to be done today and the words just weren't really coming. Then I discovered that some kind friend had publicly commented on Facebook about the Christmas letter I sent with my cards this year and now she had everyone curious....

After I crawled back out from under the bed, I decided - Why not?

So, here's my Christmas letter and photo for all you fine friends who didn't receive one in your mailbox. Stick around til the end, because I'm also doing a giveaway in honor of my mom's birthday today. (I'm not even gonna try to tie this all together with a pretty bow!)


Twas weeks before Christmas at
The House On The Hill,
When the mom of the bunch there
Sat down with a will.
The pictures had come
That she ordered with care,
"They didn't turn out!"
She was heard to despair.
"They're flimsy as flimsy,
And, oh how absurd,
The top line they nearly
Chopped off those two words!"

The husband advised her,
"Just cut off that line."
Her daughter assured her,
"Oh, they will be fine!"
The mom of the bunch there
Could hardly decide,
At last she decided
To swallow her pride.
"I'll send them, I'll send them,"
She bitterly said.
"They'll soon all be stuck in
A box 'neath the bed!"

The envelopes then were
Addressed with a flair,
Each name on the long list
Was written with care.
But then came an issue
Much worse than the first --
A card with no letter
Was really the worst! 
Supposing she skipped it?
But that would not do.
A card that was flimsy,
And no letter too?

So, shrugging her shoulders,
She picked up her pen
And sat down to write all
The news once again.
"The children are growing,
My husband is great.
This year we have traveled 
To this and that state.
We've moved to our new house,
We're happy and gay.
The Lord has sure blessed us,
What more shall I say?"

The pen hit the table,
And made a great clatter.
But no one was there to ask
What was the matter.
"Oh what a great letter.
I guess it is true,
But such a bland missive,
It just will not do!
The truth is, we're blessed, yes.
But we're also broken;
We fail and need Jesus
And I am not jokin'."

Who cares about houses,
How much the kids grew?
Who cares where we've traveled
And what all we do?
While husbands are great,
Who cares about mine?
It's really enough that
He makes MY eyes shine.
Who cares whether pictures
Are really just right,
And letters are written 
All cheery and bright?

In all of the gloss and
The glare of this season,
Don't ever forget that
He came for one reason.
To a world that is broken, 
He came to restore.
To bind and redeem
And give life evermore.
Perfect cards, gifts and letters
All take second place,
To the best gift of all --
Sinners, saved by Grace.

Then the mom of the bunch there,
She laid down her pen.
And she sighed a great sigh
As she took it again --
"Flimsy pictures aside,
May your day be quite bright.
Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a goodnight!"

(This proves that the words weren't almost cut off on the original pic! ☺)

And now, the giveaway. Several weeks ago I did a review for Dorcas Smucker's newest book, 'Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy'. I still have a copy left to give away! If you'd like to join me in remembering my mom, leave a comment telling me one thing your mother taught you and your name will be entered to win 'Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy' and, depending what mood I'm in, any other goodies I can stuff in the envelope 😉

Saturday, December 9, 2017

In Which Bethany Is Interviewed And We Peek Into Her Week

Good morning to you all on this sunny, Saturday morning in Ohio! About My Father's Business here, reporting on Bethany Eicher's week. Hi Bethany, we're all waiting to hear about your week, how did it go? Did you find it impossible to be cranky if you were actively trying to make others happy?

B: Good morning! Wellllll, I would say there is a lot of truth to the statement but I don't know if I accomplished it completely last week.

AMFB: So you're saying you still had some cranky moments?

B: I'm not going to comment on that, except to say I did find that what you're focusing on really does make a difference.

AMFB: And how did you come to that conclusion?

B: Well, I would say it really did make a difference in my week to have the idea of making others happy at the front of my mind. Even when I wasn't necessarily doing something specific for someone else, my focus was different.

AMFB: Interesting. So did you do a lot of specific things for other people last week?

B: Yes and no.

AMFB: Yes and no? Can we get a little more specific with that?

B: Well, it was a very ordinary week. I didn't do a lot of specific things for people outside my four walls at home. I guess I kinda decided if this is going to change me it's going to have to work at home, you know what I mean? I can't just be coming up with a bunch of unusual projects for other people, if that makes sense.

AMFB: Yes it does, I like that. So you're saying you chose to focus on the people closest to you? How did that look?

B: Pretty normal, actually.

AMFB: Ok, so not a lot of fancy tea parties or special activities? What did you do exactly?

B: Well, I read more stories; I played some games. We had some special snacks - like I made cinnamon rolls one day, just for anyhow (which is very unusual!) We got out the ice cream and chocolate syrup one night for a snack before bed, little stuff like that. 

AMFB: So maybe you could say it was more paying attention to the little things than it was actually doing lots of extra specific things to make people happy?

B: Yes, exactly! I found myself viewing everything I did in a different light. Like I looked at the things I needed to do as doing them to make my family happy, instead of just jobs that had to be done - poor me. Two of my girls needed dresses for programs, I let the children choose the supper menus for the week, baking cookies for lunches... things that needed to be done but I looked at them as ways to make my people happy, and it made such a difference in my focus!

AMFB: So basically you're saying that you didn't look for all kinds of extra things to do to make people happy, you just focused on how the things you needed to do would make people happy and that changed your attitude in the process?

B: Yes! Yes, I would say that is what happened.

AMFB: That's awesome! Did that carry over into things you needed to do for people outside your family, as well?

B: Yes, I would say so. We had the opportunity to host my son's friend for several days last week while his parents were gone, umm, I helped give two Christmas programs with our church choir - one at a church on Sunday evening and one at a hospice Christmas service another evening, I worked on Christmas mail, we invited friends over one evening. I know I looked at all those things differently because I was thinking about 'actively making other people happy'.

AMFB: Made it 'impossible to be cranky', hu?

B: Ha ha, I guess you could say that. I didn't do it perfectly, of course, but there's no question that it made a difference!

AMFB: That's great! I really love the idea that it's not about doing all kinds of extra big things for others - cause, I mean, we can't always be doing that! But that it was more looking at the daily things in a different light.

B: Right. Of course, it always helps to throw in a few extra things just purely because you know it will make people happy...

AMFB: Sure! That keeps it exciting.

B: Exactly. But that's not really what's going to hold you up through the long haul. I mean there's a lot of daily-ness that just has to be done every week; no amount of coming up with exciting ways to make people happy is going to change that! 

AMFB: Yes! That's why changing our focus on those things is so key!

B: Absolutely. 

AMFB: Thank you so much for sharing, Bethany! This has been very interesting and, hopefully, helpful for someone else out there today. 

That's all we have to share today! As always, we'd love to hear what you're thinking or maybe you have something to share about your week of actively making others happy? Feel free to tell us in the comments! 

Have a great weekend.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Some Fun For January

I feel like I've been doing a lot of whining on here lately. How about we talk about something a little more fun for a change?

For the past several years I have done a series of posts in the month of January. If you're new here, you can find a list of them on the upper left hand side of my blog. This year I have not felt led to do a series. I kept waiting and listening but I just never felt anything laid on my heart.

This morning I was baking cookies and my mind was wandering hither and yon. I really wanted to do something fun/different in January and this brainstorm suddenly popped into my head: What if I would do Q & A posts in the month of January? Does that sound weird?

It sounds a little weird to me, too, but maybe kind of fun?

The questions could be anything from a list of random things you'd like to know about me to a question about my faith. You could ask for a tutorial for anything from sewing to making our favorite cookies. You could ask for a post about a certain topic or a story from my past. If your question is too hard, I'll do my best or than be honest and say I don't know. If there's too many on theology, I'll have Chris do a lot of guest posts ☺


If I don't get any questions, I'll take the month of January off. Wait, did that sound like a threat?

So. Anything you've ever wanted to know about me or hear about, send an email my way at I'm not sure if I'm being brave or crazy but let's have fun. The more creative, the better.


PS. Can I count this for actively making others happy?

Friday, December 1, 2017

I Am A Woman

I'm pretending to be sitting in my room folding this pile of laundry.

The laundry is a good ploy. It keeps people from bothering me - they don't want to take the risk of getting put to work, see. Rather clever of me.

What I'm really doing in here, is trying to decide whether I should bother with a blog post this week. And, if I do, should I take the easy route and grab some pictures and some chatter and call it an update? Or should I try to come up with some insight into something that would encourage and inspire? I wonder, is there something somewhere between the two of those? Because neither one of them is really grabbing me.

If you are ever near Cambridge, Ohio during the Christmas season, check it out. It's worth it.

I am an odd woman.

Some days my husband looks at me, with humor in his eyes, and says, "Are you sure you're really a woman?" I mean, what real woman never had big dreams for her wedding day, has to be told to spend money when she shops, has zero bottles of perfume (I was going to lie and say 'has one old bottle of perfume' but I felt convicted), and likes to pack as little as possible for trips?

Finding boxes of old pictures 
is so entertaining!

Other days he looks at me and rolls his eyes and says, "You're a woman."

Those are the days when I am in an impossible funk. The days when everything weighs me down and there's not even a good reason. When I hold my husband at arms length and snap at my children and I'm tired and probably I'm depressed. What if I am? What if, really, I need help? What if I'm going off the deep end and I never even realize it but just keep plodding along in this hopeless, everlasting, pointless life? Probably, after all, it's because I should pray more. People who read their Bible every day probably don't ever feel this way and really, I wonder if I am even a Christian and, oh my goodness, what IS wrong with me? Probably it's some deep, dark, something from my past that I've never dealt with. Supposing it is?

On just such a day as this, when I felt sure that my marriage needed fixing (although three days prior I was sure I had the best marriage in the world) and I couldn't think of anything to make for supper (again) and I didn't even feel like going out to eat with my husband (sure sign of deep problems). On just such a day as that, I got told what my problem was.

This picture makes me smile,
every time.

Have you ever had someone shoot straight with you and tell you what your problem is? I wonder if you liked it? Did you say sweetly, "Why yes Dear, you are right! Thank you so much for telling me."?

I confess, I did not. I confess that I said instead, "I don't think I want to go out to eat with you."

But then a funny thing happened. After some thought I realized something, and this is what I said, "I'm actually relieved to be told my problem. I was sure it was something much more complicated and hard to understand. I think I might actually be able to deal with this 😉" You wanna know what my problem was - according to my straight shooter? 

"Focusing on Bethany Eicher."

And he (It was Chris. You had no idea, right?) added to that this nugget: "It's impossible to be cranky if you are actively trying to make others happy."


I think God was actively trying to make me happy this morning with His
beautiful handiwork!

So, here's the deal. This next week I'm going to focus on actively trying to make others happy. Next Friday I'm going to report back how it went. Anybody else have my problem and want to work on this with me? It's always better to work on things together.

And now, the laundry.


Excuse the over use of parenthesis in this post. And please, don't get all concerned that I really might be going off the deep end, because I'm quite sure I'm not (today, anyway). (I mean, today I'm quite sure.) Bother. Also, you do know you are responsible to keep me accountable this next week, correct?

That is all.