Question: How to Encouraging the Grieving

    There is something I have been thinking about for a number of months and I have finally decided to take a chance and put my question out there for you. It is concerning grief and those walking that long, lonely road.
Grief is a private journey in some ways, there are so many emotions to work through and you and you alone are the only one who can do that for yourself. Then in other ways, there is so much that can be done to help someone bear that burden. So, how do we help, encourage, carry some of their load and walk this road with them?

To those of you who know this walk of grief, I have some questions.

“What were the best things someone has done or is still doing for you on this journey?
What were the kindest words said to you, the ones you still remember?”

It doesn’t matter if your journey started long ago or just recently, think about those portraying Jesus and walking along the side of you. What are some things that have been done for you that have blessed you?

Another question.

What are some things you wish had been done for you over the time of your journey? What were some things you wish someone had said or not said to you?”

Is there something that you longed for someone to pick up on? It may have been a small thing or a large project, but just something you wished a friend would notice and come along side of you and helped? Or something said that hurt deep down inside but you knew your friend had no idea what they were saying?

    To those of you who have not walked this road of grief, but have a close friend or relative walking it, I also have a question for you.

“What have you done, or seen someone do, for a grief-walker in your life that you know has been Jesus to them?”

How have you poured into the lives of the grieving and hurting around you? What was it you did that you know was a nudge from Jesus to help and encourage?

    I want to compile a post of ideas and things that will help friends bear the burden of those walking this long, lonely road. I will list ideas and comments in any particular order with no names attached. I want it to be something you can come back to, look over and pick something to do for a friend who is hurting.

    Write a comment and tell me how you have been blessed or been a blessing in a time of grief. If you wish to remain anonymous, send me a private message on facebook or email me at ericshan26@ymail.com
These ideas will by no means take away the stinging pain of losing a loved one, but in tangible ways, we can be Jesus to someone when it happens.

Share this post or ask your friends and family for their thoughts.

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Kicking January Blues …

… along with other nonsense.

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The month of snow, when there is very little of the white fluff.
I am quite okay with that, though.

We are currently staying home a lot and I am happy with that. That is the one thing I love about winter time. There is a constant stream of projects and jobs to be done around here, most of which I seem to never even start.

But January is whipping my tail and I’m not sure what to do about it. Usually, the sunless days and endless clouds don’t bother me, but this year it is. At the risk of offending a winter lover, I will say that I am thankful for the bits of warmer weather we have been having. The cold and I do not get on well.

Maybe the answer to my problem would be to start listening like my Dad does. At 60 some odd years of age, he is a guru of the mp3 world. He has an iPod and ear buds that are ever present. At first glance, one might think he is a teenager that needs his constant music, but no, he listens to messages from God’s Word. I do the downloading for him and one of us loads the player and he is set for a few weeks. It doesn’t take him long to consume an inordinate amount of sermons.

This just might be the answer to my winter blues … start listening. Eric would probably tell me to start with, “Likewise ye wives, be in subjection” that is downloading as we speak.

On the listening note, if you are a Mom of littles, how do you do it? There is constant noise and needs around here. I’m pretty sure I could never concentrate on what was being said, or wear ear buds for that matter! Because, horrors, what if Mom couldn’t hear the many, many questions being asked of her?

~~~~

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In other news, we have recently introduced ourselves to a new food item, not that it’s new to anyone else, we had just never made it before. Crepes, we have come to find, are quite delicious.

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Not a new food item, but one that this boy loves.
Madison loves to bake but she sure wishes that her Dad and brother liked to eat something besides plain old, boring, chocolate chip cookies.

~~~~

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Anyone else out there with a first grader in the house? His teacher is keeping track of how many books they read. Oh, the stress of sounding out all those words just to get one more book on his list.

My big question of the day is this:
Why does listening to a first grader read make you so sleepy and in need of a nap?

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Others in our house have no such problem with sounding out the words and will willingly read all the time. Day or night, whether there are jobs to do or not, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or hiding in a closet, ever present is their book. If the youngest two take after the oldest two, in a few years we shall have a quiet and peaceful house. (but only after a trip to the library)

~~~~

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Mom made this for me when I was her size.
It may or may not have taken a hefty bribe to get her to put it on and take a picture.

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If she isn’t plastered to my side, I might want to check around for her.
This day she bathed her cloth baby doll. A little time spent hanging by the wood stove solved the problem.

~~~~~

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This!
“Christ was the home of his thoughts.
Whenever his mind was free from other matters
it would turn to Christ.”

~~~

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Use your words. They are powerful.
Most often you have no idea how much your words are worth to someone.
To know that you care, that you are thinking about them, to know that you took the time to say something or write a note, even the smallest gesture holds worth.

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Use your words!
(even if you are just encouraging a cousin
who has been in the bathroom a really long time)

Be powerful with your words today and that might help kick your winter blues!

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Christmas ’16

Christmas this year bounces around in my brain as having hit every emotion in the playbook. There are sometimes in life that words cannot accurately describe and this is one of them.  So, it shall stay like that for you and continue bouncing around in my brain until I get it figured out.

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The grandkid status at Mom’s hangs heavy in the 3-7 year range and they are often B-O-R-E-D! We talked Madison into playing a game with a few of them.

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Mr. Jaxon was happy to eat instead of play!

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He is at a fun age right now and Dakota got a kick out of playing with him.

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These two goobers, they found my grandma’s old glasses and tried them on.

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Waiting. Maybe patiently, maybe not.

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A new Jeep shirt! We’re all about Jeeps around here.

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We had Katelyn’s name and about the time we started searching for the perfect gift, Sarita told me she had Reagan’s name and she had just bought her a vest. So with Reagan’s help, we “came across” this vest that was almost too wonderful to behold.  We bought it for Katelyn and when it came in the mail, she was just beside herself in love. We were all grinning when we watched her open her own gift to find a matching vest.

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Sometimes people open their mouths and say a lot of things and then get mysterious packages with no name attached. 🙂

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Tristan’s favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross” and this song came true for him when he exchanged the cross for a crown.

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There were two oddly wrapped boxes with Sarita’s and my names on them. One was heavy and one was light. We had our guessing game going and found out that almost everyone (but us) knew what was in these boxes. In a weak moment, due to some well-asked questions, Nick opened his mouth to tell me but Max shut him off just in time. 🙂

Tys went above and beyond and made both of us something special. A camera for me and a little tricycle for Sarita! He is a welder by trade and it carries over into his hobbies. He turns out some pretty cool things from his imagination.

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The wheels roll, pedals turn and it’s just as cute as can be.

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The lens turns for a little manual focus and the front has a jeep grill and a cross in memory of Tris.

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The chain around the edge comes from a dirt bike and he listed all the other parts and where they came from, but I can’t remember. The flash on top pops up also.

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I don’t know what it’s called, but the round thing inside on the right rolls with a little push. I guess it’s a modern/antique and you use that to wind up your film roll.

Stop in sometime and I’ll let you touch it. 🙂

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I had Tyson’s name and wanted to buy him something in memory of Tris. Anyone who knew Tris knew that Jeeps were his hobby. He often roared around in an old red Willy Jeep, usually loaded with kids. I looked for a little jeep like this everywhere on the www. Everything was either over my price range or not very nice. I was almost ready to give up when this one popped up on eBay at just the right time and price. It felt like God had gifted me with this and in the end, it meant more to me than if I had found it as soon as I started looking.

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Later we all took a splat to the face with a little pie face game.
Well, maybe not quite all of us. 🙂

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We inhaled much good food, had lots of good conversations and all the while dealt with kiddos that kept passing the stomach flu around.
We talked about Tris, retold his favorite stories and missed him so very much!

~~~

My thoughts for 2017 …
“With God’s daily supply of grace, I am able.”

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Our Silent Companion, Grief

Things are different now. We are missing a family member, one has gone before us leaving an empty spot in our home and hearts. Yet, we have gained an extra member, one that we are not so excited about having along side us for the rest of life. Our new family member’s name is Grief.

Grief likes to reside in the corners and at the most unexpected moments, he will tap you on the shoulder to make sure you know he is still around. He is not a friendly sort of fellow and he chooses the least appropriate times to show up. He likes to come along to church and torment you in public. Sometimes it’s the oddest places, when you pass a certain vehicle on the road or when you see an item in the grocery aisle. He is especially bad when you think you are home alone and in his quiet little way he will usually come around. Grief follows our footprints everywhere we go, at home or abroad.

With the changing of seasons, Grief always comes to life. Christmas is just around the corner and you can expect that he will appear for that too. When we pull out the boxes stuffed with decorations and lights, Grief will sneak up behind us and remind us of the one we are missing who loved Christmas so much. Grief digs up the memories of years gone by, reminding us that Christmas will never be the same again.

When the carols start playing, bells begin ringing and a quiet Silent Night is heard, Grief begins to play his own tune in our hearts. He stirs in the soul reminding us of the love of singing and carols. A tear makes its way down our cheek because singing just isn’t the same anymore, the carols have lost their sweet chime.

The names have been exchanged and we are off to do shopping, but sure enough, he sneaks along for the ride. Sometimes we could almost forget that he‘s there, then we glance at our list and wonder, “Why are there not enough names?” And there is Grief, tapping our shoulders to make sure we remember there is nothing to buy them this year, all of our gifts for them have been given.

We cook and we bake and all the while we are thinking about which person likes these desserts and who likes those sweets. Pretty soon Grief starts stirring and our minds go to those special cookies, the ones he loved so well, and the desire to bake anything just disappears.

Members of different families gather and happy chatter fills the room, people calling hello and catching up. We look around and wonder who is missing and suddenly Grief reminds us, it will always be this way, there will always be someone missing.

We call our family together, the children rustle and squirm in their seats. We look around the circle and each one is there, save one empty chair. Grief wails loudly, bringing attention to the spot, the one who is missing, yet forever in our hearts.

This member called Grief is like a needy child, constantly wanting our attention, crying to be heard and acknowledged. At times he hangs out in the background, quietly allowing some peace, but relentlessly he will surface, unable to let much time pass without a reminder. We can refuse to listen to him when he starts calling, or tell him to be quiet, but he will eventually become persistent enough that we have no choice but to acknowledge him.

Grief is now our ever-present companion, always tagging along. Not only is he with us over the Holidays, but we will live with him for the rest of time. Each time the season changes, every birthday and each beautiful fall day, he will be there. With time, we will get used to having him around but we will always carry Grief’s weight. Carrying him is the price of love, all because someone we loved so very much is missing from our life.

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Of Cranky Dryers

So let’s talk about that square box the good wife throws wet clothing into and it magically comes out dry.

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Once upon a day, the good wife’s dryer began making funny noises, and at the end of each cycle the clothes were a little LESS dry than the time before, and it took more and more minutes to dry each load, but she didn’t panic. She went ahead and used up the entire day trying to dry only a few loads of clothing, while furiously googling all things dryer.

The next day, she only did 1 load of laundry, but after 60 minutes of whirling, finally give up and hung it out on the line in 30-degree wind and rain while pitying the poor pioneer women and praying for the Amish women. She brought it in many hours later and it was placed all about the house in its very damp glory.

Then, she went away for 2 days.
While gone, the good wife thought about what was wrong with the dryer
and how much laundry will have stacked up until it gets fixed?
They discussed what might be wrong with said dryer.
She wondered how long it would take to get the parts needed for fixing.
She thought about the fact that she will either have to go to the laundry mat
or go naked if these dryer issues were not resolved in a timely manner.

Upon arriving home, the good wife kicks the dryer on the way past. After much time passes, the handy husband asks if he should look into that dryer. She smiled sweetly and said “Yes, please!”

Now know in advance, that the moving of this dryer is beyond natural human abilities. With the placement of it in a very small closet, the gas pipes, the venting and all that good stuff, once moved, it will never return to the exact correct spot just as it should.

So the handy husband pulled it out and began to dismantle it. After much beeping and bleeping of an electrical gadget, it was determined that no part or piece of this machine appeared to be broken. Therefore You-Tube was consulted and after much watching thereof, while sitting on the floor behind the dryer, more dismantling began to take place by the husband. A long, large metal piece with multiple holes was taken off the back and handed to the good wife. After a quick check, it was discovered that 14 years of “stuff” had been piling up inside. There were things of every nature, earth and sand, coins and treasures, stuffing and fluff, and even a few wires piled into inches and inches of dirt. The amount was astounding and the condition appalling.

The good wife then left the house for a short amount of time. Upon her return and to her utter amazement, there was nothing left of her square dryer, except the round circle that the clothing is placed into. Pieces and parts were everywhere, nuts, bolts, and screwdrivers lay all around. The sweeper was then pulled out and much suctioning began to take place. It was with amazement that the good wife saw how many dust bunnies had overtaken her dryer, no, not bunnies to be sure, but rather full grow rabbits.

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All the parts and pieces were then reassembled and the power reconnected. And with the punch of a button, the now square dryer started and to the unbelief of them all, it had been completely healed of its illness.

Moral of the story: Sometimes it doesn’t even need a new part, a good cleaning will do the job.

Second moral of the story: Sometimes helping fix said dryer will throw the good wife’s 8th rib out of place and cause her much pain. So as she sits with an ice pack, she wonders if dryers are really worth all they claim to be. She then remembers hanging up clothing in 30-degree weather and decides she’ll just have to deal with the rib.

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Of Thanksgiving and more…

 

When you were a kid, going to Grandma’s house was a highlight. I remember many trips to Ohio to see Grandma Yoder and we always had the best weekends in there. We also loved going to Grandpa Stoll’s house with Dad any chance we could get. There was always a piece of candy waiting for you from the corner cabinet before you would leave.

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Now my kids love to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s too. The last year we have spent more time out in IN than normal and so far I haven’t heard any of the kids complaining. Grandpa just added a cherry to the top of the weekends when he bought a little cabin for the grandkids. I declare the last weekend we were there was the absolute quietest Saturday we have had out there in years. We actually had to go get the kids for meals, otherwise, they were cabin dwellers all day.

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I thought Reagan might just move in permanently. There were so many things to do, see, and so much to explore. She is wishing and hoping it will be warm enough to play at the cabin when we go out the next time.

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Grandma and Grandpa stopped in for a chat. Anyone who went for a visit came back smelling like a smokestack. The kids had the fire going all day and I thought they might cook some food for themselves, but they didn’t catch anything to grill. They did inquire about snacks and some hot chocolate a time or two between meals. Delivery service was requested.

As with everything new we do, it brings an ache. Tris isn’t here to see the changes, to enjoy watching the kids grow, to make dumb jokes about the oddest things. He would have been moving and shaking things to get this cabin into place, full of big ideas and plans for what all we could do back there. Sometimes we still look up and expect his jeep to come rolling in the lane.

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Mini Mouse wasn’t in the smiling mood. She so badly wanted to stay at the cabin but it was just a little too chilly for her little size.

~~~

My brain feels like it is suffering from an overdose of too much food and sugary goodness over Thanksgiving. Not that I have ever given up all things sugary like some {strong} people, no I just keep tormenting myself and sneaking little bites thinking they won’t add up as quickly as one large plateful. I have no idea where I am going with this, as I said, my brain… it is rather muchly on overload right now.

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Madison doesn’t help the problem by making things like this. I wasn’t tempted with more than a taste or two since I am not a true lover of chocolate.

~~~~

Speaking of Thanksgiving…

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Some of Eric’s extended family was around here for a few days.
They are the game players, I am the roaming one that watches all the games, but plays none. I feel a rash coming on at the thought of being pinned to a seat playing a game for an hour or three. Say the word game and my legs start twitching and I have to get up and move around. I’m glad not everyone is like me and they enjoy a good game!

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Bethany did crafts with the kids. It was most lovely of her to spend her time doing this, although I’m pretty sure she made all my kids an extra big project with an extra lot of extra glitter.

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And more game playing, see what I said!

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This game was called, “See how many guys can fit in the same spot!” 🙂
Not really. It is just that the closer you sit, the better you can hear the other conversations around you.

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This used to be the wild and wooly little gang doing donuts around the room. When did they get this big that they sit quietly and play games?

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“Let’s reconstruct the tower of Babel!” they said.
“Everyone else holds really still!” they said.

And like the tower, all good things must come to an end
and Thanksgiving vacation was over entirely too soon.

~~~

From my Instagram:

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The Amish schoolhouse that I sneakily take pictures of when I see the kids out. One day I was not so stealthy and the little girls held their hands over their faces. It embarrassed my kids which made it totally worth it.

~~~

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Y’all have yourselves a very merry weekend!

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A Tribute to Grandpa Miller

On October 5, Eric’s grandpa passed away due to failing health.
Today is the first anniversary Grandma will spend alone in 61 years.

In the days before his funeral, I asked his children and grandchildren for their memories and compiled them into a tribute to him.  

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A Tribute to the Father of the Millers

A Husband, a Father, a Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, a Brother, and Uncle was he.
He answered to Emanuel, Manuel, Dad, Dawdy, Candy Dawdy,
Grandpa, Candy Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and Crist Joe Ale‘s Manuel.

A farmer by trade for years of his life, corn, hay, his fields and the price of beans.
Dairy and milking, silage and cows, his boys kept him company while he worked.
A daughter or two, by his side in the barn, laughing and singing with the cows.
With a son on the tractor, another in the barn, one working the hay,
and a few out back in the woods, he managed and called and directed them all.
Out through the window, his wife called his name and he gathered the boys for a meal.
Around the old kitchen table, they clambered and fought for good food,
stories of the day, laughter, and chatter all part of the meal.
After they had eaten he would pick up his Bible, in a voice filled with care,
he read from the Word, directing the hearts of his young.
A good game of softball in the soft evening light,
out by the flower garden spot, completed the day.

His children grew up and blessed him with grandchildren aplenty running ‘round.
They came down to the farm for visits, some food, and a story while he sat in his chair.
He would pull out pink candy from a pocket or two, and sneak it to little hands waiting.
Always the same kind, soon the candy was renamed after him,
affectionately known as “Dawdy Candy” which in turn named him, Candy-Dawdy.
On auction day, he would pick up excited grandchildren and take them along to the Mt. Hope sale barn. There was always time for a stop for lunch
at Mrs. Yoder’s or Boyd & Wurthmann in hopes of meeting a friend or relative.
He set the grandchildren to work, driving through fields and picking up rocks,
plenty of help for his hands. When milking time came, they followed along,
sipping milk from the bulk tank and shoveling feed for the cows.
The highlight of his week was a trip to the ball field on Monday nights.
He loved to watch his sons and grandsons swing for the fence.
When the grandchildren grew up, he enjoyed their visits anew.
Reminiscing of old was a favorite of his, those stories that he told and retold.

The day finally came that the cows had to go, other odd jobs took their place.
He would climb in his car and putter on down to host at Miller’s Essenplatz.
He visited with and seated all the people, while he chuckled and nodded replies.
When they smiled and waved on their way out the door, he would turn and reply
in his signature Dutch-accented call, “Thank-You-ah!
After everyone was gone and things quieted down, off to the back he would sneak
for his late night bowl of ice-cream, much to his wife’s dismay.

As life slowed him down, the cold Ohio winters drove him down to sunny Pinecraft.
It was months of vacation, lots of friends, a chat and a meal,
a run to the park in hopes of a friendly face to visit with.
Genealogy was his love and he knew people from far and wide,
he also knew exactly how everyone was related and to whom.
If he happened to come across a new face or two, get ready for the questions to fly.
“Now who did you say was your Dad? And your Mom’s maiden name was what?”
Before any time passed, he had them figured out and most likely they were related
to him, or at least to someone he knew.
Grandma would make donuts and coffee on cool southern mornings
and all the people would come. He chatted and reminisced, told old stories anew,
but all the while kept an eye on those donuts
and knew exactly how many were consumed and by whom.
Out for a meal in the evening with family, was something he loved to do.
His Florida favorite was Mi Tierra with fish on his platter, eyes staring back at him.
Spring would roll around and soon the North beckoned,
family and friends and his farm ground awaited him there.

Camping in the fall was a love of his with his family gathered ‘round.
He loved to sit and watch all the action, and then sternly call some command.
A crowd was usually gathered around his boys,
listening to them rehearse the old stories while everyone laughed.
He would smile and chuckle and try to add his own thoughts.
When the telling got tall with the stories of his, when all the things he had said
grew larger and funnier with time, he would silently laugh and say, “Help mich, Clarie!”
Little help she was while she giggled and shook, loving every memory she heard.
When late night fires blazed hot, guitars would start strumming
and the people would gather around singing songs of old he so loved.
In a voice all quivering with tears, he would hold up his hand and try to speak
the things that were deep in his heart.

As time moved on, age took its toll, his back stooped, bent by years of labor.
His hands were worn by the toil of the land, his eyesight slowly fading,
and his feet in a shuffle as he walked, life was coming to a close.
Yet, he had a heart full of love and a smile on his face for his wife, family, and friends.
Though his mind not as sharp the last years, that first love he had, still remained.
Holding his well-worn Bible near, with a tear-filled voice he stood often in church,
thanking his Jesus for all He had done.

While we miss him here, we rejoice with joy that He walks on streets of pure gold.
He is singing his songs and praising His Savior, perfectly healed today.
He leaves behind a legacy, a heritage, not soon forgotten, rich in love, family, and Jesus.

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This was last year at their anniversary celebration,
a few more have been added since.

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