Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 26 - He is Home

January 31, 2015
Day 26

The morning has arrived, early morning. Tonight was a relaxing evening spent in front of a blazing coal stove; Nicole, Lynn and I. We read, we ate and we napped. Nicole and her father wearied up to bed. Fergie followed them, too tired to go outside and pee. He hears the howling wind, he is no dummy.

British Blend tea coursed through my blood stream and quickened my senses. Geoff was still out with friends having gone to a play in Lancaster. I was not going to bed until that boy came home. The howling winds, the drifting snow, the black ice all demanded prayer. The theorized calls, the visions of an accident, the listening to a car pull up, "oh, here he is, oh, no he's not" hounded me, kept me awake.

Geoff rushed through the doors at 1: 15 am.  "Sorry mom, we stopped for coffee." The sight of him threw any stern comments to the far corner of my mind.  What a beautiful boy he is. How wonderful to be able to go to sleep and know all is safe.

The problem with six children is the accounting for. The sirens run and your heart stops especially if if a family member has just left the home. The call goes out. "I'm fine" is all I, or any of us, need or want to hear. Most times we do not even say goodbye, we just hang up and sigh. With relief.

I do an accounting for every night. I thank God for life. I praise Him for His mercies. I do know where my children are, even my beloved married ones; Robyn and RJ. I even know where my grandson is, he is snuggied up to his mommy.

Staying up is not the norm for me, at least not this late into early. But every once
in a while I am up and in this early morning hour at 2 am there are no regrets. He is a beautiful boy.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 25 - Branching Out

January 30, 3015
Day 25
Happy Birthday Christopher!

Today I was encouraging a student to let words flow. Get it out, for Pete's sake!  So what would it look like if I did that?

Let's see. I am going to branch out.

My day has ended with the students. Geoff and Jesse burst in the door looking to see Theo. Jesse is going on a Winter Weekend Retreat and he wants to spend his last fifteen minutes with his nephew. Geoff needs to be driven to work but that was not clearly communicated to me. Lynn has tried to call many times but always at the wrong time. I was in meetings when he called. As we leave, Lynn calls to tell me I need to pick something up at the Post Office. He did not know Kathyrn was going to Devon to sample coffee. He will send it with her. I have found myself during our many years of marriage rushing to the bank or the post office for things of this nature. I do it. I would be a jerk not to but I recognize the need for more organization and am not sure how to steer the man in the right direction for that.   He has made amazing strides in the right direction but we still need some tweaking. As I am going to take Jesse to meet the buses for the retreat at 3:30 pm., Geoff lets me know that he needs to be at work and that is why he brought Jesse. This must have been what Lynn had been calling about. We have to reconfigure, the time is not on our side. Geoff goes in to  get Kathryn to run him to work. I have mentioned to Geoff and had actually called Kathryn about the need to get to the post office before 4 pm to retrieve the package. I wait in the car to see what the outcome is, will Kathryn take Geoff or will I have to? Geoff and Kathryn walk out the door and somebody does not look happy! Jesse rolls down the window, it is freezing and calls out to Kathryn, "I love you! Hey, I love you!"  He then says to me, "Does she know I am going away for three days." I reply to him, "Probably not." He says to me, "Then that is why she didn't say, I love you back." Oh. I take Jesse to Action parking lot where two school buses are parked and behind them are the trailers for the luggage. Jesse has brought his new drum. Lynn is worried that it will get broken in the shuffle. He has asked me to mention to them that this is fragile. He is not excited about Jesse bringing this. Jesse reminds us that he has a two year warranty on it. Oh. When they are packing it in the trailers I mention to them that they should put it up high and not in a position to get crushed. The boys who are going greet Jesse with a fun attitude. As soon as the luggage is on the trailer Jesse disappears. He is the son who does not say goodbye. The amount of snuggling we do at home he likes to think is on the sly. I could ruin him bringing it up with his friends. He is the only child that I have who is embarrassed by our family affection. (nothing like the Saturday night live skit) I have no idea where he is and so I leave. I am like him. I can separate really well from people. I love being with them but I do not have to say goodbye. This is definitely a learned trait. I bawled when people left me as a child. Maybe it is my defense mechanism. I try not too think to much about my defense mechanisms... Oh, boy, here I go. My mind is now second guessing why I might not like to think about my defense mechanisms.  I could go round and round and round.  As I drive away I think of the friends Jesse has. I am so grateful. What a great bunch of boys and girls! God has provided for every child of mine a set of people they hang with that I approve of. Of course these kids are not perfect but I like their families, I like their persuasions, I like their spirits and they'll work it out. We are all in process. I give children lots and lots of room and consider it criminal to not! I told Jesse I would miss him and he said he was not going to miss me. I hugged him tighter and thanked him. I consider that a job well done!  Tonight we have to deliver coffee to an Opera Event. Funny that. We will deliver it to a nice home in Wyommissing. I could live in one of them. They are so large and so wonderful. I would love for God to test me with money. I think we would handle money well. Lynn wants to go to Colorado to look at a roaster for sale. He just found out he can stay at someone's Condo. It is on a slope. Nice. This is when my mind wanders to the places I do not have but really would like. I will go home after I leave Robyn's to a modest home with lots of things that need to be fixed. Such is life.

There ends my word flow.  I am not editing it. It's raw.

And that folks is why I edit!  You just simply do not have the time for all this flow.  Branching out requires definite pruning! But look, I have stuff to work with and that was my point to our dear student.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 24 - Seriously? Nah!

January 29
Day 24

Do you know who or what I find really funny? Not jokes, I hardly "get" them. Though the last one my father told me is hilarious but that's rare for me to laugh at jokes. And yes, there are some comedians who make me howl. But who I really find funny, is ME. I just can not take myself seriously.

I tend not to shimmy up to people who take themselves seriously. I can smell them miles away, they do not scare me as much as they annoy me. I just want to say in the words of John Spahr (his advice to Wider Students and how to think about their audience when giving presentations), "c'mon, ease up there, everybody has gas." However, I have learned, though that might be the right thing to THINK it is the wrong thing to SAY. Oh, to know the difference.

A good laugh at myself is better than the best prescriptive medicine on the market. What do I have to prove? Who do I need to impress? A specific time in history enabled me to not take myself seriously. The complete acceptance brought about by someone else's death provided me with a self confidence that does not rest in my accuracy, my amazing schedule, my correct grammar, or my gymnastic moves (I have none).

In fact, I lack. He does not.  And It is all good.

So, like the time we were providing coffee for an Opera event. The deal was we were to provide coffee and they were to provide us with tickets. The night comes and it is a long line and when I get to the window and mention that there should be tickets put aside for me I am given a blank stare. The kind of stare one dreads. Uh-oh.

"Ma'am, who is the person who you know?" the young ticket man inquires of me.  I answer his question and he suggests that I find that person. Wait, what? I am finding this person?  So, I slink away from the window trying to look "purposeful." I find the woman and relay to her the lack of tickets. She doesn't have time for this she is busy.  I do feel bad, but it kinda was the deal.

She says, "Well, we sold out and I put a folding chair in the back for you. So, just go and sit in the back." Now, how, do, I, look "purposeful" walking away from this interaction, this mini dialogue?  I kinda didn't.  She basically gave me a seat in the theater but did not provide me with a ticket to get in the theater. I just followed my tail like a dog and ended up  at the same place, no ticket.

But trust me, I looked "purposeful" going straight out to the parking garage walking right past that ticket booth.  "Hmmmpphh! Who needs music tonight?"

On the way home I called my Dad,  boy did we laugh. He taught me how to do this well.
 Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 23 - Clay Pot

January 28, 2015
Day 23

She's a brick house! or a clay pot. Whichever metaphor is used, it is not flattering.  A clay pot, God? That is what you think of me?  Ok, I get it.  I can work with that, oh wait, that's right, it is not work. It is a belief. I am to believe.

A clay pot does not move. A clay pot is. What does a clay pot "do?" Nothing. Unless it is moved or filled, a clay pot waits until moved upon. Are you thinking what I am thinking? Inertia, right? Well, maybe that is not what you are thinking, but I do know that a clay pot ain't moving unless someone moves it.

I should be doing this and that. I should be going here and there. I should be talking to this person and that person. I lament at the list. I should be doing, doing, doing. Imagine a clay pot moving without someone moving it? Horror story.....possession......I'm out!

I have sat in front of many a pastor laying a guilt trip. Gotta- do, Gotta- be, botta- bing! And it is because they do not get this clay pot analogy. A clay pot rests, energy is acted upon the resting thing. A clay pot moves when moved. A clay pot is filled by the filler.

You know why we have such trouble with this metaphor? Pride. We want to refer to our energy level, our keen insight, our ability to lead, our understanding of what exactly was needed.

This relationship we have with Jesus is so devoid of religion it really grates on us. Rest? Who us? Maybe when we are finished with our "ministry" list for Jesus. But honestly, Rest?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 22 - Snow Days

January 27, 2015
Day 22

Snow. It came and it did not. The forecast was calling for a lot of snow. Today was going to be a snow day, we knew it on Sunday night, or at least we thought we did. Instead, there was school. Remember,  I am not looking for snow days, I anticipate every Wider School day. Oh, I talk too soon, I really do.  Though, today, I really did enjoy myself with the Wider Students.

I anticipated a storm but the storm went out to sea. I was disappointed. But not really.  My impression of snow days is totally false, really out of line. I always see it as a day where I can relax.  However, that is not the case and has not been the case since my children have been walkers. The kids want to play games and they want to do this with me.  They come in from the snow and drip, all over. They want food and I am the resident cook. I begin to read a book and someone is asking me for something. The plans for the snow day went out to sea just like the storm.

Note to self: Work on those expectations. Enjoy the fact that your children want YOU.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 21 - Banana Smoothies

January 26, 2015
Day 21

Over-riped bananas peeled, cut, and thrown in the freezer are the main ingredients for banana smoothies. When I gave up gluten and sugar I began to look for alternatives, healthy ones. A smoothie has become a replacement for ice cream. The banana smoothie has seen me through many a restless night.

To add a little something to the soft-ice-cream-like-smoothie we include "snack." This word, coined by Chris and Brendan Burke during their college days, is used to describe a combination of peanut butter, honey and oatmeal. You can only imagine how it sits in your stomach. I plop "snack" into my smoothie and enjoy the chunks reminiscent of the ones I use to mine in my Dairy Queen Blizzard.

Tonight was a special treat. There were finally enough frozen bananas to make enough smoothie solution for all present in the house tonight. This is where it gets rough. Finding ripe bananas is a hunt and not for the weary. They are a hard commodity to come by. Everybody's doing it.

One day Shady had a number of baskets with over-ripe bananas for $1.25. There was an elderly gentleman looking over my shoulder as I was picking which three baskets of  ripe bananas to purchase. I decided to be kind and offered him one of the baskets. As he, ungratefully, pulled it out of my grasp I knew I had just blessed the wrong guy! Such an ungrateful old man.

Frozen bananas in the freezer means good times.
Pray that my attitude gets a smoothing over! It's so chilly.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 20 - Sundays

January 25,
Day 20

I never know how a Sunday is going to look or feel. That is the fun of it. This house on Route 23 is full of surprises, and I love it! Today it was spent with Dylan and Kathryn playing Dutch Blitz and Pit. Dylan has never played Dutch Blitz before. What a trooper he was playing with three out of four Burkholder women. There is nothing quiet or passive about us, we are loud and obnoxious. And I found out that there is nothing quiet about him either. It is just that he does not even come close to our yelling; he's a hummer and mumbler.

Geoff, Jesse, and Lynn joined the three of us to play PIT. This escalated towards decibels hard to handle. It was hardcore fun. We then took time to visit Grandpa and Grandma Burkholder and there Robyn met us with Theo. When we arrived back home, Chris had returned from Reading and after Theo had his supper and bath (in our kitchen sink) we all sat around the table with sautéed-in-butter leftovers. Life can not get any better than buttered mush.

We ended our night with Settlers of Caton, a game hard to commit to but fun once invested. I begged for mercy as my heavy lids were losing the battle. Geoff was gracious, he "owns" this game. We agreed to play tomorrow in light of the forecasted snow day.

I do not take my life for granted. Thank you God for the blessing of this day. Thank you for the children you have allowed me to be part of and thank you for the family that lives in this home on Route 23. This Sunday had a great look and feel to it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 19 - A Dear Friend

January 24, 2015
Day 19

Words were many. Laughs were present. Tears flowed. Food was eaten. I have loved this girl since she was a newborn. She is full, full, full of life. There are so many memories, many which make me laugh. I have had the privilege of learning to know her as a woman. What a treat. We have spent many hours cleaning, talking, laughing, crying and praying. It does not matter that my daughter, her dear friend is not at home. She is visiting me.  I am so proud of her. I look forward to our next time together. Katie Schwartz is some kind of wonderful.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 18 - Nightly Ritual

January 23, 2015
Day 18

There is a human nighttime ritual that I marvel at; losing control over a seven to eight hour period of time. Every night I silently move out of the land of coherency and into a state where control is not to be had. The moment I slip into bed I choose to lose control and embark on another date.

There is not one night, for the past how ever many nights, that I have not slid into a comatose state (only a few all nighters on my record). Instead, I choose to be unaware and unable to make rational decisions. Humans love to be in control yet we humans need to be out of control every night.

This nightly ritual brings with it my dream life. It has been active since I was a little girl. There are definite and significant dreams that I can relay to you, some with their own meanings attached. There is a geography, a culture, a tone that has been established in my dream world evidenced by the reoccurring places that surface. It is my very own dreamland geography. Some of these dreams have the power to unnerve me. Many had the power to change my course of action. Do you think that, along with refueling and adjusting the body to physically maneuver through another day, God knew He needed a time period for dreams to direct and guide?

I have many dream stories I could share but that would diverge from my main point; the oxymoron of sleep for humans. The fact that I allow this nightly ritual marvels me. I lay down every night to a weakened position, willingly. Generals who adeptly plan strategic attacks even have to lay down.

Do you think God designed us this way to confirm to our body that He is ultimately in control? Do you wonder why a good portion of our time is spent comatose, out of control?   Did I lose you there?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 17 - Togetherness a Good Reason for Dinner

January 22, 2015
Day 17

The conversations around the dinner table from childhood are all I remember, not the food. My dad is a great conversationalist. He loves to get people talking, he really loves the "heavies" but knows how to refrain from them if need be. Many times it was just us four; my dad, my mom, my bro and I. Never was it boring, there was always something to talk about. Though my dad could have transported stories from his social work job, he never did. He always left them at work. When home, he was home.

The meals were typical 60's, 70's meals but the talk was savory. We had so many guests over it was not even funny. I loved every minute of it. There was so much to learn about our guests.  And likewise, Dad's quest was to gain more knowledge about guests than vice versa. I have paid attention to this over the years.

There were never "canned" devotions but talk that patterned the verse from Deuteronomy 6:7 "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." I had been to others' homes with canned devotions, I watched their lives. Freedom is what I experienced, a lack of it is often what played out in their homes. (not always but often)

My mother and father had two children. I have six. Meal time is a bit of a challenge for me, especially if I get caught up thinking the age old question that surfaces about 11 am- "What am I going to have for dinner?" A number of years ago it became apparent that my focus was off. I needed to hover back to my beginnings, where that time was more about togetherness than nutrition.  As I have kept that as the focus the nutrition aspect has, surprisingly, fallen into place.

My push for togetherness, time to laugh and laugh and laugh and maybe talk, has been the positive motivator. This shift came slowly but it is here to stay. The focus on togetherness usurps the need for an amazing array at mealtime.

For the past (almost) three years gluten and sugar have not shown up on our table. Our meals are healthier though far from winning any nutritional trophies. The meals are simple and the conversations are varied, full and filling. But the togetherness is what I am counting on to bring health to our bones.

My dad has not been replaced by my husband. There is no contender for Bobbie Triechler. He wins the conversation game hand's down. But my husband is there, he is home sitting at the head of the table, a silent, warm, inspiring presence. Lynn, my man, comes to the table to eat and talk shop.  I do love this about him.

Having given up the strict "roles" idea of what a wife or husband should be in a marriage is pure freedom (I'm talking fringe roles folks, relax). So, Lynn does not start conversations about the deeper things, I do. I start them but I certainly do not try and facilitate them or wrap them up, they would laugh me out of the house if I tried. The conversations (if that is what you call them) always have a life of their own.

Bobbie set a precedent that dinner was more than eating, it was a time to reconnect, be together. I want to sit around the table with my people tonight and every night. It is this that makes it fun to think about what to eat for dinner tonight. (or what to order)
(Photo Credit: Me, from left to right: Bob, Diane, Doug, Geoff, Jesse, Tyler, Jenna, Nicole, Robyn, RJ, Lynn, Suzanne)

Note to self: the time spent trying to impress with food is better left trying to come up with conversation topics.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 16 - Shopping

January 21, 2015
Day 16

Today I was at Shady Maple grocery store. This store is laid out like a jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing. I have always enjoyed grocery shopping period. But I really love grocery shopping at this place. The fact that Good's is smack dab next to it is the icing on the cake. To walk the aisles of both stores is time travel for me. I feel like I am in a Dick and Jane reader. This area delights me everyday, no joke and Shady Maple has played a big role in my enjoyment of this area.

To think it started as a road side stand seems legendary and somewhat shady all at the same time, c'mon, really?! I have watched some of the metamorphous of this store but definitely not at the time of its inception. I ask this question a lot; how did this man do it?

When I go to this store, I anticipate the vegetable deals. I loved the fact that they use to have for sale Children's Golden books near the meat section. I purchased from Shady a lot of fairytales retold by a husband and wife duo. I enjoyed this couple's remake of stories such as Goldilocks and Henny Penny. I relish in their choices of cheese.  Their tea isle has always called to me and I often go home with a pretty tin. I met Harney and Sons here, I have to exercise moderation in how many tins my kitchen can hold.

I secretly enjoy the time spent between the taking of a number at the different meat sections and the ordering of exactly what I want. When it is blueberry season I can not wait to get two or three beautiful cardboard boxes of blueberries. Shady Maple introduced me to Chicken B-Q sales, who knew?!                                                                                                                                                

To some, shopping is a mundane part of life, but to me it is a moment to enjoy, to anticipate.
I was telling this to Nicole the other day on our way home from Shady.
Her flat response, "It's cause you don't shop much."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 15 - Little Girls Sometimes Know

January 20, 2015
Day 15

There was a little girl who scavenged extra worksheets from school. She would hand them out to her students sitting silently around the dining room table. She had many lectures and scoldings for them. It really gave her delight to carryon in such a manner. She loved the feel of papers, passing them out, collecting them, grading them, passing them out again to the students who never spoke. She did this time and time again. She loved teaching to those students. They paid attention to everything she had to say.This little girl loved to copy words, mindlessly, almost as if she had some kind of "special need." Busy work to her was happy work.

A blackboard meant hardcore playtime. It was endless what she could do on one of those things. Today she is living her dream. As she writes on the whiteboard, hands out papers, and speaks with the students sitting around tables she thinks she is in heaven. A snow day is a sad day. There is one big difference and for this she is surprisingly grateful. These students do talk back!  She is living her dream at her dream job!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 14 - Gregory Porter

January 19
Day 14

Percussive soul music is what races through my blood. From birth to fifty-two the question has always been; how am I Caucasian? I always clap differently, feel the off beat powerfully, and can never listen to music or to a sermon without moving or grunting. I sometimes feel I am with the living dead, for peter's sake!

So, when Chris gave me a Gregory Porter CD, well! Only to tell me I am going to see him! Gots to be kidding? Manhattan? Pinch me!

So, here is a link. Folks, I have not checked him out thoroughly, so you are on your own. Judge on, if you must. But music brings me places even when the creator of the melody was not glorifying God. I am a user of good music, a recycler, if you will,  and I offer it to the Lord!

I have given you a link to hear the dude. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 13 - Icy Deadly Sunday

January 18, 2015
Day 13

The roads in Reading became icy after 7:30 am. Chris and I were already at church. I heard noise sounding like rain. Someone mentioned that the turnpike was closed and there was a pile up on the Schuylkill. I immediately called Lynn hoping he was not on his way. Thankfully he was not. Relief.

However, for Thomas Brennan, Jason Anderson and Eric Blau's families there was no relief. Though I do not know these men personally I do know one thing. Their families, just a few weeks past Christmas, will have a tragedy to remember for the next holiday season. And the next and the next and the next.

There are no words.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 12 - Computer Dependent

January 17, 2015
Day 12

"Kathryn, where is my computer?" I ask.
"Mom, do you need it? Are you ok without it?
I am in Harrisburg. I was going to drop it off but
then I realized I needed it. Is that Ok, mom?"

She is clearly not reading my blog posts.
I thought she would have seen something by now with my shameless postings.
I have things to write. Things to consider. Things to post. I use my computer everyday.

Oh well, you can't ask for much. And I don't.

So, I am using my husband's laptop. And the first thing I wanted to do with his computer was read my fellow 365 challengers' posts. During the day this activity is anticipated with alacrity. I am challenged and encouraged by their writing. But, Kathryn wouldn't know this and hence my computer is in Harrisburg.

Lesson for the day: Never take yourself too seriously. Your kids never do.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 11 - 101 Music with Chris

(Photo Credit: ? And I'm sure that is water in his cup....)
January 16, 2015
Day 11

Tonight I am going to Steele City in Phoenixeville to hear some of my son's latest arrangements with a ten member band he has arranged along with some great sounding vocalists. His latest pieces are a combination of jazz/blues/chris/pop; saucy, free flowing but within a definite framework, and kicking percussion. His music always stretches me to new understandings. He will tell you that I am his biggest fan and his biggest critic. I have always been awed at his affinity, his attentiveness, his dedication and passion to music. His understanding of fame and it's vaporous qualities thrill me. He proves this understanding by his love to help others free themselves to sing, write and perform-he is the fan of all his friends who are musicians.

This was a guy from little on had a guitar in his hand. Music 101 with Chris is what I called our drive sessions. "Mom, can you hear that rift? Cool, Right?" To force him to listen to christian music when I could hardly bear it was, well, not right. I have worshiped to Billy Joel's music. Note, not Billy Joe. We tried, he and I. We went to a local bookstore and listened to all the music just to see if there was something that could replace the Led Zepelin music on his IPOD for his upcoming trip to Canada. We both knew it was inevitable, it was going to have to be Led Zepelin. Hopefully the Mennonite boys and their mothers would understand.

The words he sang with TAPPER, his high school band, were less than desirable, though in high school they were sung till I was blue in the face. But Lynn and I were uncomfortable with a high measure of censorship. Lord, you will protect him, right? Chris was not asked to play for a local church's youth group because the leader did not feel good about the music Chris played. The "LOOK" we decided was not what we were going for, we desired his heart. So we let him play the music with words that today he feels uncomfortable singing. God, you did answer our prayer.

In college we watched him develop his jazz voice. He began to be introduced as the young Frank Sinatra. Yikes, his sisters and I would sit in the crowd drooling, let me tell you, this did not impress him! The entertainment this kid has provided us with his music, let alone his entire family, rivals any concert, television show, or movie. Yes, I am biased. It is such pleasure to listen to this son. 

I have learned so much about music from Chris and continue to do so. I love his willingness to listen to what "Momma" has to say about some of his songs. His christmas present to me is something I am looking forward to with alacrity! February 14, yes, Valentine's Day! he is taking me to Manhattan to dine and then to a Gregory Porter concert;dreamy. I can not even begin to use words to describe my excitement, anticipation, and thrill. 

Tonight, though, we will hop in the car and go forty minutes down the road to listen to good tunes. The Groove Merchants are playing first and I am equally as excited to listen to these college graduates filling the air with groove tunes above and beyond. For someone who never listens to the radio but adores and loves music, especially live, tonight is pure enjoyment.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 10 - Good Morning 3 AM

(Photo Credit: Self and Lynn will mention the distracting light beam off of the top of my head. However, maybe it is fitting.)
January 15, 2015
Day 10

Three a.m. and I find myself awake. So, why not get up? There are things I can check off the list, might as well use my time wisely. Students will arrive at 7:30 a.m. and there are still some things that need to be accomplished. I might as well pull together a blog post. Day ten is early enough in the 365 Day Writing Challenge so there are lots of words at the front door ready to leave. I can also read the other's posts who are writing to the challenge, this gives me such pleasure. I can mull over the assignment from the Tuesday night bible study, John 9. The list continues.

Yes, I will grow weary at 4 pm but by that time the students will have left, I will probably have enough of a dinner idea to pull together and I can sit on the red couch pulled close to the coal stove and snooze. I am already looking forward to it. However, now, I am wide awake click clacking away.

It is a hopeful dark outside. I marvel at the movement of the day into night, the night into day. This consistent mystery is probably what I love most about waking up at 3 am. I am going to be witness to the miracle, again.

His mercies are new every morning and yes He is faithful and it is great!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 9 - X-rays and the Judgement Seat

January 14, 2015
Day 9

Just mull on this:

"A new form of radiation was discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist. He called it X-radiation to denote its unknown nature. This mysterious radiation had the ability to pass through many materials that absorb visible light. X-rays also have the ability to knock electrons loose from atoms. Over the years these exceptional properties have made X-rays useful in many fields, such as medicine and research into the nature of the atom.

Eventually, X-rays were found to be another form of light. Light is the by-product of the constant jiggling, vibrating, hurly-burly of all matter.

Like a frisky puppy, matter cannot be still. The chair you are sitting in may look and feel motionless. But if you could see down to the atomic level you would see atoms and molecules vibrating hundreds of trillions of times a second and bumping into each other, while electrons zip around at speeds of about a million miles per hour.

When charged particles collide--or undergo sudden changes in their motion--they produce bundles of energy called photons that fly away from the scene of the accident at the speed of light. In fact they are light, or electromagnetic radiation, to use the technical term. Since electrons are the lightest known charged particle, they are most fidgety, so they are responsible for most of the photons produced in the universe." (

What's that quote about?

Some of us fret about the judgment seat. We imagine a video streaming of all our bloopers. We shudder. We know this will not rival the "Funniest Home Video" TV show! Instead we imagine people turning towards us with a look of utter disgust. "Did you just see that?" they will say horrified by what we thought no one would ever see.  This is a quintessential living nightmare.

Hence the quote above. 

You do not experience shame when a physician, with your X-Ray in hand, shows you your problem. Instead, now you know what is wrong and consequently you are now able to be helped, fixed. There is no shame in this exchange between you and your doctor. There might be sadness at what is revealed but now the unknown, the problem, can be healed. 

Now, Fast Forward to the hour of Judgment.  Jesus' radiation on that day will pass through the physical and the spiritual. The Illuminator of all illuminators will reveal the condition of our soul; what's what and what's not. We will stand amazed at our justification despite us. We will stand in awe of His grace despite us. His Light will not bring shame, it will bring relief.  

At this moment, the Judgment Day, we will understand the parables in full especially the one where the person is forgiven an immeasurable debt. We will fall at Jesus' knees grateful for His severe mercy. His Light illuminating the extreme difference between us and Him will bring no Shame on that day. His Light will be relief, just like an X-ray to a man who wants to be healed.
(Photo Credit: Me)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 8 - Gluten-Freed

(Photo Credit: Chris Palladino or Greg Nyssen? Corn does not have gluten in it, maybe a poor choice, however, if you have gluten issues you have corn issues as well)

January 13, 2015
Day 8

What is gluten? This is a question I have been asked with eyebrows poised dripping with cynicism. How about this answer from the scientific journal, The New Yorker (work with me):

Gluten, one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth, is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, (that) come into contact and form a bond. When bakers knead dough, that bond creates an elastic membrane, which is what gives bread its chewy texture and permits pizza chefs to toss and twirl the dough into the air. Gluten also traps carbon dioxide, which, as it ferments, adds volume to the loaf.

My daughter, Kathryn, was constantly telling me not to do gluten. She knew she had issues with gluten and could tell I had them as well. I tuned her out for many years (guilty) and finally paid attention. However, I not only stopped gluten, I stopped refined sugar as well. It has made all the difference in the world.

All science aside, here is what I know from the last two years in an anecdotal kind of way. I simply do not feel any aches and pains which I have experienced for most of my life. These pains traveled randomly, their journey has ended. I have a problematic knee that will not be healed by the lack of gluten or sugar. However, this knee is no longer befriended by pain.

I covet not. I do not crave food. My man-appetite is more feminine. I go to events to see people not to eat food. Funny thing, I love food more today than ever. My palate has significantly changed.

I have energy until I go to bed. Sometimes I am awed by my wakefulness. I now have a "good feeling" baseline. There are days I am keenly aware of how good my stomach feels; free, easy, peaceful, not churning. I am likewise now aware of how food affects me. Rice and potatoes make me extremely tired, the resultant sugar from the starch puts me out, I mean out!

I now eat to live.  Food aids me, period. I will never go back and eat gluten or sugar. I do not sit and pine watching my friends eat chocolately desserts oozing with creamy, sugary sauce or lathered with whip cream. In fact I sit there and rejoice that my stomach will not feel bloated, full, stuffed or uneasy.

Hmmm... who knew? The full feeling that I always had after a gluten filled meal of spaghetti and french bread, was actually was not a good feeling. Now, the satisfied feeling minus the full feeling is peace and contentment.

However, I have a confession to make. I did not make this switch because of a mental determination of my will. I did not do this because of the coolest book with the best series of steps leading to health and well being. I did not make the change because my friend and I held each other accountable. At age 52 I am fully aware of my inability to self help myself. I am incapable of change. (calm down those of you motivated by yourselves, I know of what I speak)

Car rides are the best "come to Jesus" venues. I went cold turkey one day only after I did a scream out to God while en route to somewhere on Route 401. Take away this god I yelled. I pleaded, "I can not do this! Please a little help here. Can you not see my desire as well as my inability? Aren't you the One who sees all. WOULD YOU PLEASE HELP!!!!!"

I called, He answered. I was gluten-freed.  The transition from gluten filled, sugary food to gluten-freed, non sugary food was done. God did it. The temptation left.

Those of us who have been gluten-freed speak the same language. A new member, discovered from a Facebook post, has joined the group. Welcome, your life has just changed forever.

Pardon us for our evangelistic tendencies. But those of us gluten-freed have never felt better. We want to share the love.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 7 - Slavery in Vogue

January 12, 2015
Day 7

A number of years ago we went to a house concert. It was my first house concert and it sounded like a good time to me. The musician's name was PW Gopal (tough name to correctly say). He sang ballads with a rich, deep voice weaving stories with his tunes. However, he did a fair amount of talking. As he was talking, specifically about his Young Life experience,  I knew we had people in common but that was a nagging distraction to what PW Gopal was sharing that night. He spoke of slavery, human trafficking, children trapped, killed and replaced by others with no families, no communities to protect them.

At the end PW Gopal asked if there were any questions. His words were banging obnoxiously on my mind's doors. What is he talking about? So, I blurted out with force, 'YES, I have questions! What the heck are you talking about?!"

That was the beginning. The beginning of attending worthwhile documentaries helping me to understand what the heck human trafficking is. The beginning of learning the insidiousness of it. The beginning of understanding that due to its extreme ugliness and its ever present presence in our very own communities we have a hard time talking about it.

Here is a list of randomness involving this subject that over the last couple of years I have culled:
~"slavery is a social phenomenon existing on the far end of a continuum of oppression, where human beings completely dominate and exploit other human beings and this domination results in physical, psychological, and interpersonal trauma; financial and social instability and inequities; and dilution of the fundamental principles of democracy."
~Sunday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day
~Writing about prostitution calls for appropriate words-
~choice is a bad word
~A "john" is a name given to a pathetic individual-why such a nice name?
~Yet a whore is the name given to the woman- oh, the mental image
~Prostitution is really a slavery issue rather than a poor woman's choice to make money
~Young girls between the ages of 13 and 14 enter into this lifestyle desperate for acceptance often from a "daddy", a lover
~The "daddy" has found them on the streets, he has been looking for them
~These girls now have a "daddy" who tells them he loves them and takes care of them
~However, it's a steep price for this "daddy acceptance"-It costs them everything
~These girls fall in love with their abusive "daddy" and find it hard to get out of these sick relationships
~These girls, if given a chance at getting out, are hard to rehabilitate
~Violence is used to keep prostitutes in check, hence human slavery
~Boys are not exempt from being used
~There is no partiality with this business, everyone is free game
~To many sad, desperate and sick individuals, humans are seen as a commodity, livestock, material to be used for their advantage
~Suburbans all over the country harbor perpetrators-it's true
~A loving community is a powerful weapon against human trafficking
~A neighborhood watch, keen on spotting trafficking, is in order-but do we have the guts?
~Going to stores and giving the manager a hot line phone number to put on their storefront windows  is a start-and yes, even in your community
~advertising helps to keep human trafficking alive-the Victoria Secret magazines are the worse
~it is a billion dollar industry by far rivaling the sport's industry
~Super Bowl Sunday, the big day for football is a big day for human trafficking as well- the difference being...there are only losers
~there is money in human trafficking, lots and lots of money, hence the lure
~porn is a gateway
~PW Gopal has a vision of an underground railroad-
"He is the founder of the Hundred Movement-a US movement to rebuild the underground railroad, partnering communities with government and local NGO's/non profits to bring young women and children out of the bondage of human trafficking. He continues to share his passion for human life and dignity from the stage and works diligently to educate the public through forum and seminars on issues of poverty and the modern slave trade. Please email PW at to schedule a seminar series for your church."
~Sunday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day-My husband told me, thank you for reminding me Lynn
~I love my husband
~how as christians do we view women?
~do you treat women as Christ treated all women, take note- he had a few prostitute friends
~long article but a good one, you probably should take the time to read it:
~Lynn saw this article and often the prostitutes who are arrested are in slavery. This is close to home. Are these women trapped, was this their choice? Only God knows
~God sees all, knows all, redeems all and this is not what he intended, simply not, and anyone trying to prove this with their tightly knit theological treaties does not understand, in the depths of their heart, the fathomless love of the Father and His intent in the Garden of Eden

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 6 - Sabbath Week One

January 11, 2015
Day 6

The Sabbath is a day of rest. I like rest. I need to rest. God does not need to rest. Jesus says of His Father and Himself, "My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working."* God does not need rest.

The Sabbath is for me. The Sabbath is not for God. I need to rest because I am not God, my energy is finite. God does not need to rest, His energy is infinite, eternal, endless.

I rest on a Sabbath to contemplate the finite-ness of my energy and likewise to meditate on the infinite-ness of His energy. I love the relationship I have with Jesus and His call to Rest. I love meditating on all the reasons for rest.

We are off to visit a dear friend in the hospital with chest pains. Wait, is this not resting? Oh, yeah it is. Rest doesn't necessarily always look the way we think it should.

*John 5:17

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 5 - Saturday's To Do List

(Photo Credits: No Idea, but it is my ultimate favorite picture)

Saturday January 10, 2015
Day 5

To Do List:
~At least skim the newspaper
~Organize the refrigerator
~Correct students' work
~Contemplate what individual work to give to students
~Work on lesson plans for Tuesday and Thursday
~Prepare for the discussion, planned on Friday with Wider High School students, on whether or not being "connected" in this day and age is a good thing or a bad thing
~Read chapter 3 in the book "On Being a Servant of God"
for the Deacon meeting
~Decide what to wear to the outdoor wedding today
~Prepare a wedding card for the outdoor wedding
~Did I mention outdoor wedding today
~The temperature currently is 14 degrees Fahrenheit
~Clean up the school room
~Organize and fold the laundry
~Read more Peter Pan
~Pray for Michael Kaucher experiencing chest pains in the ER
~Wonder about life
~Enjoy the sharp sun on the white snow
~Clean up the TV/Library/Lynn's office
~Do not fret about the disarray of the TV/Library/Lynn's office room
~Enjoy my To Do List
~Appreciate my health
~Thank God from whom all blessings flow
~Be open for the cold, visible breath conversations at the outdoor wedding
~Be open for the items on my To Do List to either shift, change, or be deleted
~Try to squeeze in a relaxed visit at Terri's homestead before the outdoor wedding (14 degrees Fahrenheit)
~Decide what to do with Jesse while at the outdoor wedding-should have prepared for that sooner
~Pray for Eric and Tess (soon to be) Weaver that their desire to be led by the Holy Spirit to wherever and whatever will never wan but wax.
~Pray for my children
~Go to be bed fretless tonight

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 4 - The Coal Stove

January 9, 2015
Day 4

Oh, the memories the blazing coals send forth with those searching flames. They warm my spirit as well as my flesh. I imagine sitting on top of the brilliant orange coals when the wind brings the arctic blast through this cracked old house. Not to worry, this thought is quickly dismissed as are the thoughts that want me to veer off bridges- "just to see."  I am not suicidal just dangerously curious in my thought-life yet scared as a rabbit in my real life.

Wood stoves heat beyond the need while coal stoves radiate a constant pleasurable heat. I am grateful for this stove that has warmed our children's hands and backsides as they have sought warmth.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 3 - Winter Sun

January 8, 2015
Day 3

The winter sun cleans.
Bright, clear, sharp and brilliant.
The naked branches reveal all.

The blue is a sharp blue in contrast
with the smooth orange summer sun.

The sun shines in the winter and everything
is right. The hidden sun in the winter
affects the heart.

True warmth on a cold
winter day is sitting by a window
sunning in the rays.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 2 - Writing Well

January 7, 2015
Day 2

Writing and singing, I believe, are to everyone like having a mouth and having hands. American Idol, in a profound way, helped me to see this in light of singing. Everyone came out of the woodwork to audition and most of them had decent sounding voices. The world watched and voted.  I never did. By the time the voting was over I would have just figured out the beginning steps of voting- locating my misplaced phone (note to family I've never LOST a phone).

We all know everyone wants to be a writer. The amazing thing is that with both writing and singing there is no need for delay. They are accessible to us instantly. I want to learn to play the clarinet. What is keeping me from learning to play the clarinet today? I do not have a clarinet. I need to find cellos for both Nicky Sue, my thirteen year old, and Jesse, the eleven year old boy. This is a big deterrent to my clarinet career.

However, there is nothing keeping me from writing and singing. I have hands, a pencil and paper and I have a mouth and vocal chords ready to go. Likewise, there is always fragments of time to be had, never believe the person who says there isn't enough time in a day, they're messing with the Big Guy's time frame.

The world began with The Voice using His Words. The sound waves were profound. They created and begetted matter over and over again and again. The kicker is, He created everything out of nothing. You know He was singing. (to my scientific friends: this is my generalization and I so appreciate your science you put to my generalizations-I'm just not smart enough but I know enough to appreciate)

I am suppose to sing (some of my friends are already taking issue with me here, let me clarify, it might not be recordable but you know that when you sing alone you get pleasure from the experience) and I am suppose to write. This is what humans were created to do. Thank you, my fellow friends, humans, for your encouragement. We are to be encouragers and these two innate and very personal human endeavors-singing and writing, need much encouragement.

Feel free to comment in an editing sort of way, so many of you are excellent writers and I could use the assistance. Is there a comma I am missing? Should a sentence be rearranged? Should I use another word? How can I make you taste, hear, smell, feel, and see my thoughts behind my words?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 1 - The Enormous Egg

January 6, 2015
Day 1

I have been looking for a book for a very long time, maybe even forty years. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jones, did not succumb to the hippy era with a flippancy but instead focused on the next generation, she read to us. I loved it when she did. I was searching for this book, the title and the author. I simply could not remember. And I really wanted to remember.

Before Christmas I found it in a Mennonite ReUzit Shoppe in a nearby town. My search was never pointedly intentional, it was a vague search, something that was in the back of my mind, something that kept me company. It's the book! There it was in a floppy, makeshift bookshelf.  All of a I sudden I was sitting in Mrs. Jones reading circle wanting to believe that an enormous egg hatched by an ordinary hen could possibly be a dinosaur. The makeshift bookcase became the finest marble bookshelf. The title is "The Enormous Egg" and the author is Oliver Butterworth and it is illustrated by Louis Darling.

"Jesse! You are going to love this book. We are going to read this together!" My son is the same age I was when Mrs. Jones read this book to me. Providential? Can we go that far? Oh, he delighted in the tale as much as I. He would sneak the book to read when I was not available. With a huge smile on his face, he came with the book in his hand and told me he had finished it, without me. Not cool!

Reading this book, again, affirmed that I have always enjoyed great pieces of literature. Can you imagine how sad it would have been to reread the book and view it how we sometimes do the places from the past as diminutive, lacking the luster they held in our memories. However, the luster remains, in fact it might now be sparkling.  "The Enormous Egg" does not disappoint.  Jesse confirmed the magic when, gazing out the window, he questioned "Mom, do you think this could actually happen?"