Running the Race

You know when you have a friend drop by, invited or not, a good rule of thumb is to never apologize for how the house looks. Don’t mention the toys all over the floor, if you have kids, she knows why they are there. Don’t mention the dirty windows, the spider webs or the overflowing countertop or she might actually notice them.

The same applies to a blog, I should just scribble out a post and not mention how long it’s been or give 1,000 reasons for my 2-month absence. Actually, I can’t really give a reason other then life happens. I think the stage of life I am in is just crazy-never-ending-busy-full of all the things. Everything from school functions, to running kids hither and yon, to family weddings to cooking, baking and cleaning.

Life feels like a rat race. I can’t stop the turning of the wheel,
but I can either be a happy rat or a crabby one about the race.

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What happens when one holds a fizzing birthday bath bomb a little too long?

My life revolves around school right now. Tieing up all the end of the year things, thinking about field trips, honor rolls, and all that good stuff. The kids are getting antsy to be done also, ready to roll into summer.

And then there are thoughts about the summer. Those thoughts frighten me sometimes and then I think, “Nope, not gonna be like other years. We are going to all get up early, schedule things, work without complaining, whip the place into shape, do the laundry, mow the lawn and then sit on the beach and sip…”
Are you laughing?
Well, you should be because I’m sure it won’t fall into place quite like that since it never happened other years when I planned the very same thing.

What are your summer plans?

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When the ice cream shack opens for the summer… we are there!

Do you have memories of doing things like this? When I was a kid we had a little ice cream spot in town we would visit occasionally. We would stand in the parking lot with ice cream cones dripping on the pavement, licking as fast as we could. Sometimes Wednesday nights we would take the long way home from church and stop for some ice cream.

My kids seem to think this should be an every afternoon occasion. I have vetoed them more often than not but secretly would like to eat ice cream every afternoon too.

 

Mr. Inventor has been working hard. He has a slingshot and wanted to make a holster for it. Cardboard and a lot of duck tape later he had built what he needed.
The other night I heard him talking about this fishing pole. He kept collecting things to finish the project and with a little bit of help from his Dad, he finished it and is now ready for a trip to the creek!
I’m thinking of buying him stock in the Duck Tape company for his birthday.

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Once upon a time, we went on a trip for Spring break and a grand time was had by all. We spent a few days in TN with Eric’s family, eating, swimming, playing games, relaxing, driving go-carts, and enjoying life. Time spent together is not something to be taken for granted.

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Rocky, the infamous dog, continues to cause his share of trouble around the place. Contrary to what one may think when viewing this photo, I do not like actually like him so very well. However, I did agree to take him for a “walk” one day by means of me riding and him running as fast as he could.

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I am currently teaching the youth girls Sunday school class. I told them recently that when I was voted in, I wasn’t altogether thrilled to be doing this. I had not been teaching very many Sundays when I remembered a conversation I had had with God a month or so before. It included a few things about wanting to invest more time and effort in His Word. I am not doubting at all that He took that request seriously and handed me a group of girls to teach each Sunday morning.

The girls have been choosing the subjects we study and challenging me greatly in the process. I always hold my breath just a bit when one starts to describe a subject to discuss and more often than not I am wincing before they are done. That cliché saying about getting your toes stepped on, well yeah, it is real and it really hurts.

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One subject we talked about that really hit home with me was kindness. Now I don’t like to think of myself as unkind, but does anyone? While none of us are truly unkind, how much effort do we put forth to practice genuine and true kindness to others? Do we go the second and third mile? Do we bend over backward in an effort to be kind to someone, especially the special ones who are like sandpaper to us?

The Greek root for kindness, as used in the New Testament, means uprightness or benevolence and describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing our patience.

Kindness draws others toward us, changes people’s hearts, heals broken relationships and makes people feel loved and respected.

You are never too important to be kind to people.
There is no excuse for not being kind.

Kindness is a skill. We can all learn to be kind. Kindness needs practice. Just as a tree doesn’t strengthen its roots the night of the storm, you can’t develop kindness overnight; you’ll need to practice it in the smallest experiences. With practice you’ll become instinctively kind; kindness will become effortless and will no longer require active thought.

 Kindness is a choice.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

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Musings

I stare at this blank page like I stare at the vast empty months that will fill 2019. I know, I know, we have already finished the 987 days of January and are moving along and leaving the words ‘New Year’ behind.
A lot of you love to start a new year, set up goals for the future, and dream of all it will hold. I have realized lately that a new year scares me. I don’t like surprises. at all. The thought alone makes me twitchy. I want to know what is coming, I like to plan, plot and organize things. To look at 12 empty months is too much. I have to do 1 week or 1 month at a time to hold off the panic of the unknown.
I wonder sometimes, was I always this way or have the last few years changed me? Or does this simply come with increasing age? I am not sure. The older I get the more I try to figure myself out and the more I try, the more frustrated I get with the subject I am figuring out!
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Looking back, the holidays were hard months. With God’s grace, we survived. Christmas especially triggers many emotions and we end up enduring December instead of enjoying it.
When Christmas finally arrives, we enjoy time together immensely, but there is always the niggling thought in the back of our minds that he is missing. Along with that thought, we are extremely grateful for every minute we spend together and try not to take it for granted.

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Many December evenings when the dusk started turning dark, I would flip the light switch up and stare at the star hanging on the porch. It was gifted in memory of Tristan and every year I hang it again in his memory. Christmas was his favorite.

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Christmas day was mild and beautiful. We had fun hanging out at the cabin.

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When the sky glows red with the setting sun, you will find us outside watching.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

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“Christmas is the best but it’s not because of presents. It’s because of the birth of Jesus. Then see that cross by the star on my tree? That is for Jesus too.”
-Kennedy

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Philippians 4:14 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
John 15:5 for without me, you can do nothing.
2 Cor. 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you.

  When you face deep waters or deal with a thorn in the flesh, God has two ways to work in the situation. He can either remove the thorn or strengthen your shoulders.

The grace of God is sufficient to help you carry the load he has called you to bear. No matter what you face, no matter what waters God calls you to walk through, you can. Not on your own, sheer willpower will get you nowhere. Recognize your own insufficiency and draw from His. Only He gives the needed strength and sufficient grace.

“Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. If you never feel inward conflicts and sinking of soul, you do not know much of the upholding power of God; but if you go down, down, into the depths of soul-anguish till the deep threatens to shut her mouth upon you, and then the Lord rides upon a cherub and does fly, yea, rides upon the wings of the wind and delivers your soul, and catches you away to the third heaven of delight, then you perceive the majesty of divine grace. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognized, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us.” (Spurgeon)

My grace is sufficient for you.
My: Jesus
Grace: God’s favor and love in action
Is: right now. not later. now.
Sufficient: plentiful. more than enough. more than we can imagine.
for you: Not just Paul writing this. but you. me. everyone.

Thankful

We are all thankful, aren’t we? Especially around Thanksgiving!

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
― William Arthur Ward

I had been keeping an eye on a few thankful lists throughout November and loved seeing what popped up on them. Intrigued, I started a mental list for myself. Halfway through I forgot everything I had on it and started whining. So, I’m making a list of a few things to help me to remember.
Obviously, this was started back then and we’ll just pretend it is still November but who says we can’t be thankful in December.

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  Grandparents who love my kids and in return the kids can’t wait to see them come.
I told my girls I hope my grandkids are just as happy to see me someday. I received the appropriate eye roll for that comment.

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color – sight – fall – beauty
I drove through this tunnel four times a day!

Crispy weather
Warm and cozy never-ending project of a house
kids crowded around the kitchen table
cookies & milk for those kids
a noisy house – my kids are fit and fine
Dentists – because we sure use their services
Health – because when you aren’t…

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coffee, all the coffee, and especially coffee ice cream
all things apple and pumpkin
brunch with family
pretty food plates
I may as well just say food! Give me all the good food!

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memories – What we have without these?
Jesus – Where would we be without him?
grace – In need of this every day!

church | community
Invest in the people around you. Care. Put forth an effort. Love. Reach out. Go the extra mile. Be their servant. Do the little things. Tell them what you appreciate.

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My Mr. Fix-it Handy-man husband
The list of things I cannot, or do not, or will not try to do because I know he will do them is endless.

spilled milk early in the morning = clean floor
electricity – because I hate when it goes off
the smell of fresh bread
Saturday = everyone home
Christmas cards in the mail
warm sweaters & blankets

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Funny nephews
This guy makes me laugh every time I am with him.

A School for my kids – every time I have to help with homework, you can just find me over here whispering, “Thank you, Jesus, for teachers. Bless them real good, would ya please because I need them in my life!”

Friends who turn 40 – So we can get together for good food and conversations
My Sunday school class last year – many good conversations
Teaching the Youth girl’s class this year – I did not want to be thankful for this but it will make me dig into the Bible and hopefully learn new things.
Appliances in my house – because I would not have made a good 1800 woman
A rainy day – because Christmas music, coffee, and candles

Reagan's art

Talents – I love to see an interest take root and a talent develop. God-given for sure because they didn’t get baking and artistic skills from me. Reagan drew this for Grandma to hang in the cabin.

My Children – I am thankful for each one of them. Sometimes I sit and wonder at the fact that this is me with my crew, and when did they get to be this age, and how are we having actual conversations now, and what happened to the babies, and for real, I am not old enough to be at this stage, am I?

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 time at home with my people
remembering Tris

loud and fun conversations in a kid-pack living room
a day spent at my sister’s house – if you live close to your family, you cannot fully appreciate this one. It is a rarity for us.

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Time Together
quiet conversations
A Dad who says “God is good, no matter what!”
Cousins having fun
Photographs
Life
Little things

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 Hope and Heaven someday

Of Spring, Vaction, and Grief

Winter seems to be struggling to allow Spring take over. Like a post I saw, “Winter keeps sticking its head back in the door and yelling, “And one more thing…”
I am not a fan of being cold, but what can I say? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”  He’s taking it away today and hopefully soon it will start warming, but for now, we are surviving this “Sprinter.”

Winter D

I feel like I’ve been struggling too. Winter blues kind of had/has a grip on me and I can’t seem to shake them. I have a myriad of things that are calling my name but I can’t seem to accomplish any of them. Painting. Sewing. Spring cleaning. << whaaat is that?

Confession: That last one, Spring cleaning, my house doesn’t even know what that is anymore.  It seriously does me no good to clean the entire house from top to bottom. By the time I get done with one end, the other end is hosting eight-legged creatures building new webs. It works better to do one room at a time and stretch it out over the entire year. At least I always have at least one clean room this way. maybe. kinda.
So there ya have it. I don’t Spring clean.

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We attended a few Florida sunsets for Spring Break. It was nice to feel warmth when you stepped out the door. Warm being a relative term while we were there. To the Northerners, it was warm but to the natives, it felt coo-oold.

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Life at the beach has changed. It used to be awful. Little kids crying and rubbing sand in their eyes. Carrying a ton of things in while urging a toddler to keep moving. Digging holes in the sand, carrying water, building a castle only to watch them smash it. Someone usually cried from lack of sleep, someone was cold, someone was hot. Food, food, food to drag along, well that one still remains, but for the most part, going to the beach is a lot easier then it used to be.

We take as little as possible. I unload the vehicle and by the time each kid has something to carry, there is very little left for me. Granted, this time we did have my sister and her little tribe along, but it still went very smoothly and I could tolerate a few hours sitting there. I am not a beach lover in case you wondered.

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The days we weren’t at the beach, this guy spent hours here. Toward the end of the week, the weather cooled considerably, but that didn’t stop him. One morning he was swimming and the air temperature was 59 degrees. The water was pretty warm and he claimed as long as he didn’t get out to jump, he was fine. But he still kept getting out to jump…

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It felt so good to spend time with these two ladies in Florida. Yes, we did all the usual kid-care, meal stuff, and laundry while on vacation, but still, to stay in the same house and spend a week together was just good. I value times like this so much.

It wasn’t that we were all there and he was the only one missing, there were others back at home, but still, we all missed Tristan fiercely that week. He would have loved to hear what all was happening, he would have probably been calling in the morning before we were out of bed and just been a big part of the trip, even from home.  It’s time like these that realize you will spend the rest of your life living with this grief. Yes, it changes, it ebbs and flows with different feels, but it will always be there.

My first choice would have been to live life not knowing what this feels like. Since that is not an option, I am glad to carry this weight, to live with this grief, because feeling this means I was privileged to know and love him. I would not trade the years I spent with him to live without this grief.

Grief-love

Live your life so you will long be remembered with love.

Of August

August, the month when we imagine everything will be hot and sticky.
Not so this year, the windows have been open most of the month.

August, the month when moms of all shapes and sizes flip flop back and forth in their brains on any given day, at any given moment.
They go from, “I can.not believe school is starting soon. I don’t want the schedule. I will miss my children!” All the while secretly thinking, “And who will help me work?”
Or at any other given moment, you might find them scrawling notes to the teacher saying, “Thank you thank you thank you for rescuing this child from my hands!!”

August is when you squeeze in one last day of swimming, one last trip to the park and think of all the things you were going to do but didn’t get done.

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August is when all the moms of toddlers think,
“It will be years before my kids are old enough for school.”
(insert loud buzzing noise here) 
Wrong. It will be tomorrow.

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In the photo above, Bryce is holding his ears because I believe in reading a book the way a book should be read. With all the noise and enthusiasm that is portrayed in a book.  He did not care for Bear’s loudness in the library!

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August is when you chop and dice everything in your garden, throw it in the pot and call it good. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, plus a whole lot more from the store!
It’s so pretty I actually wish I liked it.

August is for so many cherry tomatoes that in a fit of rage, you actually rip the plant out and toss it, much to your children’s horror. Hey, there are three more plants too many!

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August is for peaches. Combine angel food cake, a pudding mixture, a peach mixture and you have an amazing combo. Much better than the previous photo.

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August is for squeezing one last vacation in before school starts.

In the name of keeping all things honest and upright here,
no my children do not always appreciate having their photo taken.
Especially the little one.

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When August is as cool and cool can be, you sit by the fire and catch up.

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And when August pulls off a stunning solar eclipse, you tell the kids they will not miss this, they will go outside and take turns watching. And lo and behold, it turns out to be a whole lot more interesting than they thought it might be.
Or maybe it was just cool to use the welding helmet.

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And of course, the number one thing August is known for, school!
All three were ready to go back whether they admit it or not. One may have been slightly more excited than the others and one was very sad to be left behind.
But she and I, we are really doing great.
That thing called silence is just ringing in my ears!

Miss You Tris

August brings back memories,
the last time I saw Tris,
the last time I waved goodbye
and watched him walk away.
If only I had known…

Quote of the day:
“Did you know my Bible said Jesus undied himself?”

And for that, I am very grateful.

My Ohio Family

Growing up in southern Indiana meant traveling to Amish Country Ohio to see my mom’s family. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and of course Grandma and Grandpa Yoder. Growing up in Indiana also meant weekend visitors in the form of all those mentioned. Whether we were in Indiana or Ohio, when we were together we had a fine time that was not soon forgotten.

I have good memories of going to Ohio for weekends. There were always get-togethers in someone’s backyard, a cabin or a park. After much good food, the old(er) ones would sit and talk while the young ones played old gray wolf or kick the can. Cousins were the best playmates and after we had worn ourselves out we would lie in the grass and catch fireflies after dark.

As we got older, married, and moved around, our times together grew less. We got together on occasions, but it was never long enough. Talk kept circling about having an actual reunion, but it just never happened.

And then Tristan died.

Our cousins came through the line at his viewing and said, “We knew him, but we hadn’t seen him much the last few years, we feel like we really didn’t know him well anymore.” I hated that they missed that part of his life after spending so much time together growing up. They missed the years of him with his wife and kids and knowing his big heart and laughing conversations.

So, when I heard talk about getting together for a weekend, I was happy.
And a good weekend it was.

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There was a host of conversations, catching up on life, renewing friendships, amazement at children grown up and new babies to meet.
Lots of memories were discussed and laughed over. Early morning wake up calls with Aunt Irene, sleeping in Grandma’s basement, cookie baking days, visiting Grandpa in the nursing home and much more. We listened to the Aunts and Uncles recall memories from when they were young and all that happened back in their days. The conversations were rich and full of life.

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We have spread around from here to there across the globe so there were immediate families reuniting and much catching up to do. There were only a few missing and miss them we did.

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The children had a blast. Train rides, bounce houses and games galore, they were never lacking for something to do.

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Dave’s children went all out with the games. There was something for everyone and much, much laughter from everyone watching.

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There were two teams and one person from each team competed against each other to see who completed each task the fastest.

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The kids and big kids rolled and bounced around in these things for hours.
I heard tell that it made for some very sore muscles the next few days.

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In between all the activities, there was a constant display of food. If there is one thing I missed from the Yoder gene pool, it would be the love of all things chocolate. Madison made chocolate cupcakes filled with chocolate mousse and frosted with chocolate ganache. They were well received.

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Family, the ones you grow up with, share laughter and sorrow, heart and soul, and a bond of memories. No matter where you live or how long it’s been, when you gather again, the bond is still there.

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Version 3

On Saturday night we scrolled through a huge assortment of photos my cousin Melody put together. It spanned the time from Grandpa at CPS to the youngest of the grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

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It was a great weekend, but we missed Tristan fiercely. He would have loved it, the conversations, the games, reuniting with family and just being a part of it all. He would have been the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night, I am sure. I missed him all weekend.

If you have family, gather them together and spend time with each other.
They are a blessings many do not have.

Summertime Goodness

It’s a cool summery morning. Plenty of birds chirping a song to go with my coffee back in these woods. I sat on the porch for awhile and then opened all the doors to the house. My children don’t appreciate that and crawl under blankets as if it were wintertime.

I love summertime. I like a cool morning but I also like a nice warm day. I know, if I worked outside for 8 hours I might change my mind, but being at home means the option of AC on those nice warm days so I still want them.
I’m also waiting for a summer that is not crazy busy. Maybe one that lasts for at least 6 months and has about 2 days a week with nothing to do but stick my feet in the pool. How long do you think I’ll need to keep waiting?

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This is some of the finest food ever.
Sweet and simple! Summertime at it’s best!

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We went camping once. I’m good with that but my children think otherwise.
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It felt like a 10-day camping trip but actually only covered parts of 5 days. It was full of relaxing, good conversations, floating down the river, campfires at night, some rain, and of course cookies and hot chocolate early in the morning as you can see!

I was expecting to go home with Mt Rushmore of laundry but it wasn’t too bad. It probably helped that Dakota wore his swimming trunks all day long and then would carefully lay them out at night so he could put them on again the next morning.

The perfect s’more consists of a chocolate covered shortbread cookie, peanut butter, and a marshmallow. Try it if you haven’t ever.

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No sooner than camping was over, my sister and her family came to visit and we had a busy weekend with them. Cooking, eating, beaching, bubbles, taking care of kids, settling fightings, talking, cooking, eating and having a good time.

Let’s just say after this trip….
kids &amp; the beach
Yes! Pretty much sums it up! 🙂

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When I was a kid we spent hours riding around on something, bikes, dirt-bikes, 3-wheelers or whatever had wheels… our kids are starting out right.

~~~

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If you know of anyone who likes to play ball, my girls would probably even pay to have you drop them off to play with this kid!

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We pretended to be a tourist the other day.

Now they want goats!

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And then on Sunday, we were at the neighbor’s for lunch and after a trip outside they decided they want goats AND sheep! Their Mother is not cooperating so very well! Running to the neighbor’s for a visit sounds like a good deal to her!

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After not getting her way in the game little one says,
“I wish we had never buyed this game!”

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So, tell me what else is on your to-do list for this summer?

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This morning I read,
“So be careful how you live…
make the most of every opportunity.”
Make today count.