Friday, November 24, 2017

A Winner + A Few Random Pics

I had such fun reading all the things y'all have been saying 'yes' to! I always have this compulsion to answer every comment on my blog. This time I disciplined myself and stayed out of the comment section so it would be easier to choose a winner but I read every one and enjoyed them immensely.

My eight year old's contribution to
 my wall decor; her thankful list.

And now, what you've been waiting for: the winner of  "Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy" is comment number 30. "Fixing a special snack for the children to eat outside on this lovely day. Rosa"

Congratulations, Rosa! I will be in contact soon and get your book sent your way.

It's a beautiful, sunshiny day in Ohio. I have piles of laundry and a messy, dirty house to attend to. Most of my help went off to the tire shop this morning to help with their busy black Friday, so I'm preparing to tackle the mess myself. The sunshine is helping.

Happy weekend to you and yours. When you feel like you should be doing more, being more, accomplishing more, remember that the key is being willing to serve. May you find joy in even the smallest opportunities to say yes to serving ...for Him!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Deep in my heart I've felt restless, wondering what my purpose is right here, right now. In the midst of it all, God's been silent. Well, maybe not exactly silent but He's been awfully, awfully quiet. Or, maybe if I'm really honest it's more that He keeps insisting on speaking a language that I don't want to hear. Multiple times in the past several months He has impressed on me that His big picture is so much bigger and different than mine.

Still, I find myself turning right around and looking at my life through my tiny little magnifying glass, seeing only the ugly little spot that it magnifies. Actually, maybe it's not even so much ugly, as it is boring.

"What do you want me to be doing these days, God?" I keep asking. "It feels like we're just sitting here, waiting for something. What is it?"

In the vast silence that follows, life goes on -- Dirty laundry piles up, hungry people expect food, bathrooms don't stay clean, sign up sheets at church need my name on them, obligations keep us busy.... and I offer to do things, like write a book review on my blog.

I am well known for saying I will do things and bemoaning the fact later. In the moment I always think of every reason to say yes. Incidentally, most of those reasons revolve around the idea that I should, more than that I want to. That is another subject for another day. Let's just say it is a trait that can be both good and detrimental.

So, anyway. A while back I offered to write a book review and host a giveaway on my blog for Dorcas Smucker's new book "Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy". I've written reviews for her last two books and giveaways are always fun, plus - I get a free book in the process, why not? But there is something about being in a funk that affects every other area of your life! The closer the time came to write the review, the less I felt like doing it.

Part of the problem was that I didn't actually have the book in my hand. Due to shipping complications, the books wouldn't be arriving until shortly before my day to post; I had a PDF copy to read but it's just different then holding a book in your hand. Added to that is the fact that this book is being reviewed by a whole line of bloggers on a "blog tour" and I am way down the line, which means every day I'm reading everyone else's creative descriptions of Dorcas Smucker's wonderful writing abilities. I like to be creative and original and there just wasn't much of that left.

The biggest part of the problem, though, was the whole God being so quiet thing. Why wasn't He talking to me lately? Or was He talking and I just wasn't hearing? Why did I keep coming back around to this same frustration when I had seen so clearly how He works in big pictures? And of all things, why had I agreed to write this crazy book review? Such a dumb little thing but oh, how it bugged me.

Wednesday I shook myself out of my funk and cleaned my bathroom, made granola and straightened up the house. Before it was time to pick up school children, I carried the trash out and made the trek down the hill to check the mail. There, lo and behold, was my package of books; one for me, one for my giveaway and one for me to do what I liked with.

I hurried back up the hill and checked my granola. With one eye on the clock, I flipped a book open and scanned down quickly over the page. I ended up reading the whole chapter and then I stood there with tears welling up in my eyes.

"... our kids have learned that you can have all kinds of new experiences, learn things you never knew, and even get a taste of wildness right where you are, in your daily dutiful life.

The key is in being willing to serve.

... you don't have to go to the corners of the world for interesting things to happen. Sometimes they're right in front of you and you don't realize it...

.... If you open your life to opportunities to serve, you never stop learning, and you never know what will happen next."

The whole chapter was basically God underlining exactly what He had been saying all along.

Tears spilled down my cheeks as I turned off the oven and grabbed my keys. Pausing in my dash out the door to grab my jacket and four year old son, my heart sobbed, "How do you do that, God? How do line everything up in an instant and speak straight to my heart in the most unexpected ways? Thank you, thank you!"

It's an odd book review, if you can even call it that, but God insists on speaking in ways that I never thought of so I think I'll go with taking a page out of His book this time.

Dorcas Smucker is a Mennonite pastor's wife and a mother of six who lives in a farmhouse in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She has written a newspaper column for 17 years and is the author of six books. In each chapter of these books you will find a monthly slice from Dorcas' life, originally published in the Eugene, Oregon 'Register-Guard'.

Dorcas' writing is always an inspiration. She has a unique ability to not only take note of the stories in the daily-ness of life, but to turn them into colorful, relatable life lessons. I love her descriptions and her candid, honest take on life.

"Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy" can be ordered directly through Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, Oregon 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. It is also available on Amazon. If you have questions, contact Dorcas at

Before you run off an order yourself a copy, there's a chance you could get one for free (without even writing a review!) All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what small opportunity to serve you have said yes to lately. It doesn't have to be anything big or fancy -- it can be as simple as a yes to your toddler who begged for a story in the middle of your busy day. Mine would be saying yes to the idea of giving away a couple plates of cookies one day this week.

One week from today, November 24, I will draw a winner and send them their autographed copy of "Fragrant Whiffs Of Joy".

Ready, set, go........

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Tale Of The New Girl On The Block

To Whom It May Concern: This story has no great moral or lesson. It is written love in heart and twinkle in eye.

Carry On.


There once was a girl born in the hills and the sticks of the South. Her world was a happy, secure one, full of family and friends and close community.

The girl resided in a modest, two-story white house; the only home she knew. Her family attended a small, country church where the fellowship was rich and the sense of belonging strong. Her parents were pioneers in the little mission church; forerunners in it's history, position and story. She knew everyone, everyone knew her.

This was her world.

Years passed and the girl grew up. Opportunities came along the way to gain glimpses outside of her world -- attending Bible school, a year in voluntary service... Always, there was the safety of home to return to.

In the process of time, the young lady met and married a young man. This man chose to join her in her close knit world and they lived happily there, starting their own family and finding their own niche. Time had a way of bringing changes to the woman's community but it was still home; she knew and was known by the history and life of the place.

More years passed and the circumstances in life pointed the little family in a different direction. The woman now found herself in the hills and the sticks of the North (contrary to popular thought, there is such a thing), surrounded by the people and the places that were once her husband's world.

The people were friendly and kind and welcoming. The woman was not a complete stranger but here, there was no history; here, she was Christopher's Wife. Where once the activities of community were as natural as breathing, here they were a constant reminder of not knowing....

Here, you didn't take care of your own food for the fellowship dinner.

Here, there was no quilting on the first Thursday of the month but The Sewing on the second Tuesday.

Here, the ministers had an Opening before the message and Took Counsel at member's meetings.

Here, you heard what people said and had no history to filter it through.

Here, you did not know and you were not known by the history and life of the place.

Here, you joined Christmas program practice and learned all new songs while the rest brushed up on the fruits of years of practice.....

So it was, that six years later the woman found herself standing, once again, amidst this group of singers one night thinking sarcastic thoughts and feeling as foreign as the day she had entered this world. A wave of sadness washed over her as she stood amongst the friendly, smiling people who told her they were happy she was there.

You see, she knew what it was like to be them; the fun, secure place it was to be -- to know all the memories, to share all the history, for all of it to be as familiar as the air you breathe. While the sarcastic thoughts danced through her mind, in her heart she could hold no resentment towards these people; reality is simply a part of life.

Could they have stopped to think a little more what it was like for the newer people in their group? Probably. Was there really anything they could do to erase her wave of sadness? No. Had she done the same thing to countless people in her own life? Definitely. Was it worth being sarcastic and annoyed and never coming back? Doubtful.

So, the woman went her way, pondering these things. And when she had filled her husband's ears and he had laughed heartily (as she knew he would) and said things like "Dose of your own medicine" and "I told you so" (as she knew he would), she picked up her music folder and changed the subject.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Down Memory Lane: Quilting, Hymn Sings and Nostalgia

In my experience, quilting is a sure time for the mind to wander; at least if you're quilting alone. If there is more than one of you on the job, quilting is a sure time for chatting. Or, it can be a great time to go through the old tape closet and listen to every single cassette down the long line. I have great memories of doing that with my sister on cozy afternoons by the quilt -- singing along; starting on the next song before it came on because we knew them all by heart; shputting the wanna be bass (the dutch "shputting" sounds nicer somehow than "making fun").

Today I was sitting at my quilt alone, no sister to go through the old tapes -- although, goodness knows, we have quite a few. My little school time buddy was spending the day at grandpa's because he's spoiled (and I'm spoiled and grandpa's are spoiled), so I'd been spending the day in delicious, selfish projects: finishing a book, practicing choir music and now, quilting.

Coming to the quilt straight from practicing music had me in a singing mood and I was happily belting out songs in my quiet basement, with the dehumidifier for accompaniment. I grew up in a family of singers and have loved music for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I sat by my mom on the hard, wooden benches in our tiny country church with its cement floor and block walls and lovely acoustics. She had a beautiful voice and I joined her singing alto at a very young age, I want to say before I ever went to school.

When I was young, our church hosted their mid-week Wednesday evening service in each other's homes. Packed in our brown, VW van or crammed into the old Reliant, our family would sing. Someone would start a song and then another and another. I can think of a whole list of songs we used to sing on those Wednesday night drives -- "Some glad day my soul will fly, way up high, in the sky..." I loved the rhymes in that one. "Once I wandered alone, in blackness of night..." We never had a good, strong soprano but songs with alto lead? Those were our best. "You have heard of little Moses in the bullrush..." Some of those songs I've never heard sung anywhere else.

The first Sunday night of every month was "Hymn Sing" at Shady Lawn. On those nights, out would come the stacks of old, green songbooks stored inside the pulpit. These were doled out carefully, a few to each pew, and the evening would commence. It was a sad day when the stack of green songbooks no longer reached around and a different book had to be chosen as the old, 'Select Church Songs' were no longer in print.

I did a google search today, and there it was, in all its nostalgic beauty. Although, I don't remember the day that ours looked that nice.

The song that got me started down memory lane today, all alone at the quilt, was this - "Soon we'll come to the end of life's journey, and perhaps we'll never meet anymore......" Suddenly I was transported back, back to that little girl on the hard church pew with the voices ringing out around me. "If we never meet again, this side of heaven...." Me, with my little girl voice joining mom's rich alto and Elsie's soprano joined by Wilma's, crazy how you can be transported back in time and just hear those voices!

That old, green songbook held many favorites. Some of the best were the songs by Albert E Brumley. "I'll Fly Away", "Jesus Hold My Hand", "If We Never Meet Again", "The Sweetest Song I Know"..... I would love to page through that old book again. That pretty one pictured above is on Amazon for 70 some dollars; I think I'll settle for hunting up mom's old copy when we're home for a visit.

The trip down memory lane led to looking up Albert E Brumley songs and listening to different ones. The deeper the nostalgia went, the stronger became the urge to forget the quilting and write it all down. Looking back those days seem perfect; full of love and old songs and memories. I'm sure that is the perspective of a child and there were just as many cares and worries and responsibilities as there are today but it was a fun trip, and I'm glad I took it.

One thing I will never forget and that is this: When the moderator announced "We'll sing one more after this", for a perfect ending to a monthly hymn sing, the song needed to be "When All Of God's Singers Get Home". It made the evening complete.