Friday, December 19, 2008


I did not decorate much for Christmas this year. That is OK because we have up the things we like best. The Poinsettia carries so many memories. We did not have a tree as I was growing up because the Mennonite Church was strongly against them. How I longed as a child to have one. To this day that rule makes no sense to me. But we did have Poinsettia plants and so that says grandma's house, the Aunties home and my home and brings back fun holiday memories. When I moved to Florida as a newly married gal at 19 I remember with wonder the beauty of huge Poinsettia plants growing outside homes. I managed to grow a nice large one outside and I enjoyed it a lot. If dad was where we lived he would buy one for me and so that makes this small one remember him with a lot of love.
The Nativity is my very favorite symbol of Christmas. Before we lost all our things in Florida due to the toxic mold I have a set for each room. My favorite was my Fontanni Set that I had added to whenever I could. My goal was to be able to set up the Bethlehem and all. But that was not to be and I say these things are "gone with the mold". I love these because I could allow the kids and grand kids play with them and act out the story as often as they wanted. I have a set I did paint out of ceramics for mom and dad as a Christmas gift 25+ years ago. They decided not to use it anymore 3 years ago. I do put it out but in this last move the stable was broken and so I decided it will come out next year and will create one during this year. So the one you see was John's mothers set. (She was crazy about the 3 Wisemen). I had given this to mother to use but she decided she did not want it last year so that is on the mantle. Foe fun I suggest you read this page. It tells how to set up a Nativity set.
Than our tree. It is a love tree. When we lost all out things email buddies sent me what is on the tree. I can sit and look and remember who gave me what and I love each one. A box of ornaments I made were at moms and so I do have some from 35 years ago and they remind me of the kids and the fun we had at Christmas. A tree to me is really a memory tree. I have never wanted to go out and but the latest fad for trees or the "new" colors. I always hoped it was one the kids, friends,the grand kids, John and myself could look at and remember the times we spent together. If I could so one from scratch I would want it to have white lights to remind me Jesus is the Light f the World, Stars that tell us the Wise men followed the star, gold to remind me Heaven is paved with gold and Crystal for the light to bounce off of and that reminds me that Jesus is the Light but we must reflect Him in our lives,,and ornaments that represent Jesus. I want to create Chrismons.
Ideas to make them:
Than I would add the Jesse Tree ornaments.
the above is for kids
this one is also printable:
I think I will try to create mine from felt and embellish them some.....Maybe I will begin as soon as a paycheck happens. I love to work with felt.
Remember Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Today depression hit me so hard. This is not a feeling I am used to at all. I was not even sure I wanted to get out of bed. I knew I had to “take the bull by the horns” and call it what it is. I prayed and got up for that hot cup of coffee. It was quiet and so I reflected on this week. When we had a urgent bill to pay a check came from a precious Aunt and Uncle and it was paid and I went to the Discount Grocery Store and picked up a few essentials. Now that is a blessing! I heard from a few friends that lifted my spirits. That is worth more than gold. I sold a few cards and that was a blessing. John received 2 possible job emails that were personal and not automated. Maybe…
The depression started to lesson but as many of you know the devil likes to show us the other side. How I fought that. Nature does so much for me and so I decided to take Sparky for a walk. He likes to visit the row of trees to do his business and he went a bit crazy…it looked like some fur I thought that worked him all up…but no it had roots. So I finished walking him and got my camera. It was too dark to take a picture where it was so I pulled it up…brought it to John and he was amazed…it is delicate. Sparkles, has black dots on it and is so dainty. We looked it up but found nothing…. so here is the picture maybe one of you can identify it.
The back yard was calling me and soon I stumbled on this pretty and bright fungus. I brightened too because I simply love nature. John thinks something eats these because there are some out there that look nibbled on.
I stopped to sit on the outside brick fireplace and just watched the pond. I had taken some stale bread along and the fish were feeding on it and the birds were singing. To me it is way too warm today for the season but I have to admit it is nice. A hawk soared over me and all of a sudden it was quiet. The small birds dove into the bushes by the feeder. That made me pause. They saw or heard danger and they hid. That is survival. Maybe there is a lesson in this for me too. I will think about it more.

As I headed back to the house I saw these full heads of dandelion seeds. I love them because they remind me of my childhood. Do you remember picking them and than blowing on them? I do and I giggled at the memories. As a child it was a wonder or fun to us but I guess our parents did not like all those dandelion seeds on the pretty yard. But as a mother or grandma I remember the delight on the face of my children and grandchildren as they handed me the treasure they had just picked…a bouquet of Dandelion flowers.

I sat on the chairs on our patio/carport and adjusted my attitude. We are among many families that are out of work with no job in sight. There are many of us without no presents under the tree for our kids and grandkids. There are many of us that have been told the panty shelves are empty in the food closets. I looked at the panic in the eyes of a family there and knew they have children to feed and we do not. They told me the only agency here in town that helps with electric bills is out of funds. This town of mill workers has been hit so hard with lay-offs. The huge carpet company here handed pink slips to those 45 or older. There are many that do not have the faith that knows God will supply our needs. We may question how and when and I believe that is a normal emotion but we can never doubt His power. He does know our breaking point.

I have resented having to once again giving up what God supplied us with after the lass of all our things. But if I am honest I will say I allowed myself to be once again attached to things and I was determined not to do that again. I know the things we have He gave us for a reason and to hang on to “things” is not a very good way to say thanks to Him. So I prayed and told Him I am willing to do whatever is required of me.

What are gifts under the tree? Usually they are fun to select for our families. It gives a mom pleasure to find that perfect gift for her children. It gives a grandma great pleasure to find the right toy or game for our grandkids. I had such plans…not for big gifts but thoughtful gifts for each one. But that is not to be. I gave this hurt to Jesus to. It will have to be up to Him if He sees fit to grant me this pleasure.

I do have what I need to bake brownies for my oldest daughter for the party at the Police Dept. I made them some time ago and her guys want more. I make them and that melt chocolate as a icing. I am looking forward to doing this for her. I was so happy she asked me.

I was able to set us a Pay-Pal account to sell my cards and some things I have stitched and that gives me encouragement to know maybe I can help us some as job spends all day and way into th night searching for that job. I hope to go now and create more to sell.

As I close this let me tell you the depression has lifted. God is faithful in giving us strength for the hard times, in giving us joy in nature if we chose to take the time to enjoy them.. He is faithful in taking away the resentment when we repent. He allows us to be open and transparent with Him and meets us where we are…even if the depths of depression. He is indeed a good and faithful Father.

The challenge I leave with you is this…if you need your attitude adjusted go to Him. Look around you and see a neighbor that needs encouragement and be that to them. He will give you the words to say, the actions he wants you to take and the needs they may have you can give to them. Remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Do what He does for you!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Waiting for a job is not easy when you are living on a dime. We have made the hard decision to sell household items so we have a roof over our head one more month…hoping for a job.

I love Christmas and always have. I will admit in past years I “just had” to have gifts for those I love. It was expected and I delivered. We never put Christmas on a credit card but I did pressure my DH for money to get Christmas. This year it has changed. Yes, I would love to be able to give the grandkids a gift but it is out of the question. I gave the Lord my desire to gift them with “things” and he gave me the desire to give them the gift of time.
He helped me see I can look ahead and He will help me make their birthdays a special day. I am Ok with that.

Now back to Christmas…. what is Christmas to you? Is it the giving and receiving…is it the tree and tinsel…is it the carols and caroling…is it the baking and the turkey…is it the wonder in the eyes of your kids and grandkids…is it family and friends…is it serving or being served…is it Santa or seasons greetings?

I have searched my heart and see that in years past it was somewhat in the toys I gave, the goodies I baked and the parties I had. These things are OK when kept in the proper prospective and are part of the season for us. But it hit me this season that Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas. That is the bottom line. We read a lot about the miracle of the birth of Jesus in the Bible. It is a story we teach the kids and they love playing with the Nativity and being in Christmas pageants at church. But I am afraid as we grow up the commercial part of the holidays becomes part of our lives. Did you ever wonder what we could do with the money we spend on new ornaments for our trees to keep them up to date? What about the money we spend to wrap what we buy? Beside the money we need to think of all of this going to a landfill and the harm to our environment. I have a friend that wraps in tea towels, bath towels, and fabric or she uses baskets…anything the receiver can really use. The gifts are always attractive and are appreciated. Why does it take glitter and bright objects to get us into the mood we want in the season? I have heard so many folks mention since the tree is up they feel Christmas or when 10 types of cookies and candy are made it smells and feels like Christmas. Is it because we have really lost the wonder of a virgin having a baby and His name is Jesus?

Think of this with me… are a virgin and are carrying a baby and betrothed to a man that still marries you. Can you really feel the fear at first and that the wonder of this miracle? Can you travel with Mary and Joseph to pay their taxes and you have to ride on a donkey? I can’t because I have rode on a donkey at Camp Hebron and it is not a comfortable ride at all. Than she is carrying a child…now that is a tough ride. Think about her attitude when there was no room in the Inn and they had to go to the stable and there birth her child? The miracle of the birth of Jesus brings tears to my eyes.

Can you imagine being a shepherd and all of a sudden seeing angels that are singing and announcing the birth of Jesus? If they came and told us would we label them as delusional? Would you believe them and follow the star? Can you even imagine how they felt when they saw that new born baby? I think they “knew” it was the promised Messiah.
The Wise men are really a story by them selves and I did a word study on them for my journal time. I started at this sight and suggest you do also.

You will see why this indeed a part of the miracle of the birth of Jesus.
I believe if each of you reading this blog were to get up early one morning and study this miracle or stay up after all are gone to bed and ask the Lord to take away the commercial out of Christmas and instill the miracle of His Birth and why He came to earth you will energized and your family will slow down and see Jesus. Why we run to and fro and get so frazzled is beyond me. Maybe instead of a huge Christmas dinner we need to have a simple meal and share what we might have spent with a family that needs food. Not only will you be blessed but your waist line will be blessed too.

Why did it take a stressful time in my life for me to really see Jesus in Christmas? I think it is because my pride has been stripped, my holiday planning needs no planning, I need no extra gas to shop for what someone may not use and I feel peace…real peace in this season.

Back to no job and no income and all our 401k money used….I read in a book that is getting worn called “Wisdom for the way, Wise Words for Busy People” by Charles Swindoll. He has a way of speaking a book in one page and it points you to Jesus. The verse was Psalm 27:14: (Amplified Bible)
“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
He says wait is Hebrew verb (kah-wah) and means to “twist, stretch” and noun for “line, thread or cord”. That brings a picture of the making of a strong and powerful rope. He says “…and weaving ourselves so tightly around the Lord that our weakness and frail characteristics are replaced by His power and unparallel strength. It describes very literally the truth of what has been termed the ‘exchanged life’…
The last line hit me and I praise the Lord for it!
“Strength and courage are developed ‘during’ a trial, not after it is over.”

Mary and Joseph must have been perplexed by the twists and turns in their life but I believe they knew the Lord was in control. I believe they became strong in these circumstances and this is a lesson for you and I during this season. The economy is awful for many, the unemployment is high, groceries are up but all of this can twist us into a strong rope that gives us the strength of the Lord… we also will have the strength to help others struggling. How can you help another today?
Yes, Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Today was the big 60 for me. It was the first time I dreaded a birthday. I wrote this last night.

“Might it be because I still have so much I want to do? Could it be I want to be able to bless others more? Could it be because we always thought 60 was old? I think it is a lot of the first 2 for me. I still want to see the Swiss Alps, I want to spend time with my family in Pa. I want to see Skyler graduate from college, Adam, Will and Zoe from high school. I have so much I want to share with them.....stories, memories but mostly listen to them and I mean really listen. I have the time now. I want to finish my book or books....I have 2 started and just got stuck. I want to be able to walk on the Beach or hike up a mountain again.

Those all are dreams and some will come to pass. But mostly I want to enjoy each minute right the look on Zoe's face when she saw me walk into their house and the squeals of delight and the words, "Nana, I love you and missed you" along with a tight hug and yes I picked her up and cried.....we had such a delightful afternoon drinking our tea, reading a book, playing with toys and laughing.....the fun I heard in Ryan's voice as he teased me about becoming a senior citizen that can get him a discount....big chance!
I so enjoyed watching a hawk on the way DH pulled off the road so I could enjoy him and than the owl watching us as we came home. Sparky was one happy dog to see us and he just put on a show and laid with each of us for a bit......or this morning as I looked out to the pond and saw the Great Blue Heron catch a fish and what fun to see him swallow it! The Cardinals sang and the Purple Finches flutter about......Yes, it was all simple things but ones I will remember this week.

God has given me a many die before they reach this age and you know I believe each of them had dreams too. My dad at 88 had some.....but his biggest wish was to go and be with the Lord. He said many times he was ready and as I type this I did wipe a tear but mostly I am comforted by the love he gave me every minute he was alive. One thing I learned was he too had fears and he too was down at times but he always shook them off with his strong faith.

Birthdays are funny....they do something to you no other day does except Maybe New Years stop and reflect. It is kinda like the word "selah" at the end of a means stop and reflect......the goodness of God, the gifts he has given us, the family we have and yes these storms in life that take us to the brink of despair for really it is there that you see the strength the Lord gives you. I seldom think of that strength until I think I am going over the edge and than you see the break in the skies and you know God is still with you. You feel that love like you did as a child when you climbed up into your fathers arms and knew you were safe and loved. Yes, God gives us that strength because He says that what is His is ours....take a minute and reflect on that.

I have a wonderful husband that would move mountains for me if he could. He also gives me strength as I see him struggle to be "normal" whatever that is......His love gives me what it takes to love him more and more.”

I awoke with joy this morning. It was great to be alive. I watched the birds and drank my coffee. John wished me Happy Birthday. It seemed like the depression I have bee feeling lifted. I know that was because of the prayers of those that care. The girls called and Ryan also. That was nice.
John pulled out the Christmas tree, which surprised me because I did not plan to get it out this year. Ryan’s girlfriend was here and she helped me decorate while John made a hamburger for us and Ryan along with French fries. It was so good. A meal we seldom make but what we could afford. The fact John made it was the important thing. I love that man of mine!

Gifts were not bought but that was fine. When there is no job store bought gifts are not important at all. It is family and their love that gets you through. It is one’s faith I God and knowing He is in control. It is learning from the tough times and gaining strength day by day.

Than I had a wonderful surprise in a phone call from a neighbor from childhood and I believe we chatted for close to an hour. It is funny how God sends the right people at the time you need them. Thanks Ruby for taking the time to surprise me with a call. God Bless you.

Let me end with some things I am grateful for:

Another year to serve the Lord

My darling husband

Family and friends that care.

The job God will give John

I am feeling creative again

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A Week ago I brought the last blooms in from my hydrangea bush because we were to have freezing temperatures the next morning. The bush is sheltered but I knew if I want to enjoy them I needed to bring them in. I have always loved these flowers. They take me back to my childhood.

A wonderful thing happened last night to me. I have been a bit down in the dumps the last few weeks. John still has not found a job and things are worse than tight for us. What we had put back will be gone with this rent payment and fear crept in. I guess fear cripples me and makes me feel alone in this battle. The phone rang and I was so happy to see it was my Uncle Ben and Aunt Miriam. (This is dad’s brother) Now for you to understand the happiness this brought me you will need to walk down memory with me.

As a child I loved and looked up to Aunt Miriam. She was never tied up with the legalistic dress code of the strict Mennonite church and so she always looked like a real “lady’ to me because she was always as neat as a pin (whatever that means) but it was her loving personality was what drew me to her. When I got a hug from her I felt so loved and so safe. She and Uncle Ben had 3 kids and the memories I have with them would take too many posts to tell. Just know they had and have real character and compassion and a deep love for the Lord today.

To go to Aunt Miriam’s’ house was to go into a “House Beautiful” photo. I remember the farmhouse they lived in and there was a ball diamond by their house that afforded a lot of fun to me. Than they build a new house and if I closed my eyes I could give you details of each room…how I loved that piano and th art in the living room. The kitchen and dinning room drew you to them. If it was a family dinner her table was set to perfection and that beautiful cranberry glassware put it over the top! The meal was always perfect and it was here I took lessons on how to be a perfect hostess.

It was a comfort to me to go there and stay when I had to attend my grandma’s funeral. Crystal and I were treated like royalty and let me tell you about that breakfast…my favorite and one of her specialties…chipped beef on English muffins.

With these few examples I know you understand why I brightened when I saw their names on the caller ID last night. When I heard Uncle Ben’s voice I was so comforted because he sounds so much like my dad. When he laughed I felt a healing for a broken heart begin to heal. His laughter took me to many times I heard that hearty laugh from my dad. We talked about good times and bad times but again their understanding and love was a healing balm to me. You see because of our hardships I so want to talk to dad. He was my rock here on earth. His faith was unshakable and taking to Uncle Ben I heard that same deep belief in a powerful and loving God. I have found it very easy the last years to share some of the hurts I felt growing up with them and it has helped me to see they were not hurts in my imagination but some they saw too. My adoption often made me feel a bit outside with some family members but with them I never felt a bit different. I never once felt I did not belong to the family in their presence.

Don is their oldest and I have had to call on him several times in his profession to get just a bit of help with hardships John faces. He too has that wonderful compassion and deep love for the Lord that draws you to him. We have seldom seen each other over the years but 3 years ago he brought his dad to see my dad and we had wonderful visits together. He also has that hearty Kraybill laugh that just warms the soul. I see both his parents in him and know his children also have the wonderful values he was brought up with.

This October at Dad’s memorial in Harrisonburg, Va. I had the privilege to spend some precious time with their daughter Joy and her husband and again I was simply astounded that she too is a wonderful bled of her parents bit surely a woman in her own right. Her husband Wayne is just as loving. I know I sure do not want to lose contact with her again.

So on this Thanksgiving Week I want to share how thankful I am for Uncle Ben and Aunt Miriam for their love and support all these years. I think we seldom know how we touch each other’s lives. I also think we seldom remember to thank those that gave us the moments of sanctuary and genuine love we needed. So today I look at the flowers I brought in and the call from them last night and I feel loved and my heart is singing a song of praise to the Lord for the family he gives to us.

Thank you Uncle Ben and Aunt Miriam for the gift of time you gave me last night!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!

Maybe you to need to write or call a family member this week and let them know you love them. I tell you it makes a difference!

Monday, October 6, 2008


I have been working on a poster for Dad's memorial service in Harrisonburg, Va on October 11.
Of course I wanted to make it special because dad was special. After a lot of thought I decided I would make it a 3-D poster. I knew it would be a lot of work but committed to doing it. In the middle of working on it we had to make that unexpected move and I seemed swamped but I would not give in and I am glad I stuck it out.

The pictures do not really capture it very well. It seems alive when you look at it. I started with his grandparents and finished with color pictures of more recent shots.

It was a bittersweet times as I cut the tears flowed other times I found myself singing hymns dad loved. Dad loved the songs "To God Be the Glory" or "How Great Thou Art" and the Chorus "Heaven is a wonderful place". He had a clear tenor voice and sang in many Mennonite men's music groups and late as his 82 birthday and his voice did not crack at all. I also used the hours involved in this process to pray for my mom. She is not doing well at all. I try to understand how it must feel to have your husband die after 65 years of marriage. He was my dad for 59 years and I feel the whole in my heart....but that is not the same as 65 adult years together. If you think of her say a prayer.

We will be leaving here on Friday. There will be a short service when we place his ashes in the vault for the family and than the Memorial service at 2. His brother and family as well as sister and family will be there and mom's brother and family are coming also. It is the University's homecoming for what was EMS(Eastern Mennonite School) at the time mom and dad graduated from there and so more of their friends will be attending that come down for the services.

We ask you to pray for us as we travel for for peace and joy as we celebrate dad's life.

You can see my 3 "Aunties" on the beach and that is in Ocean Grove, NJ. That was a favorite place to go every summer for me as a child too.
Dad had courage and if you look at the bottom you will see him standing with the brace he had to wear after his hard time with polio. Dad never complained and never talked much about the pain and fight back. I think he was handsome in his Graduation picture at the top.
The top pictures are family. The first is 3 cousins and dad's sister Rachel, Dad and his brother Ben. Since than 2 of the cousins have passed away. The next is his family. My Uncle Luke passed away recently. (He is the middle Uncle.)

I hope you all enjoy a peek into my family. God has blessed me with a rich and Christian foundation.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I am so proud of a young man that is a good friend of my oldest daughter. They went to school together, played together and still are in contact with each other. Over a month ago Crystal told me to check out a web site. Hat I found gave me a walk down memory lane. Benji grew up in a very creative family. His parents had the local florist and gift shop. They had flair with arranging and being creative. If memory serves me correctly they started the “Little Miss Harvest Festive” pageant. Crystal was in that pageant and quite a few more. Benny and Bernadette have the gift of organizing, carrying through and making it fun. By the way they named their 3 kids with their name beginning with “B”. The Flower business is called the “B-Hive “. How about that for creativity?

We all did love to cook in Immokalee…. most of us anyway and if you did not like to cook you liked to eat! The First Baptist Church had its share of carry-in meals and it was a feast to say the least. I can remember our pastor at the time; Brother Babb (Adams) loved good food and loved to remind us what his favorites were. He did not like green peas! He made sure Harold Thomas knew he was looking forward to a big pot of swamp cabbage. Now that is a treat for any true “Southerner” and one I had to develop. We were reminded he loved Southern chicken and dumplings and really any kind of good food. Bernadette was one of those great cooks that brought just the right thing to those meals.

Here is a site that tells you about making Swamp Cabbage. I never tried to cook this because I never had the urge to go and chop down a cabbage palm tree just for the heart.

This one is from Native Tech.

Now to the site I started to tell you about…
I am going to quote the “about” the author of this site.
“Over the years, I have been told that my love of food would qualify me to write restaurant reviews. Finally, I am writing about good food!
Plain and simple, my name is Ben Starling, I was raised in Immokalee, Florida and blessed with a family that cooked in the good times, in the bad times, and all the times in between. Being Southern Baptist, we did not drink, but we did eat!
My mother is one of the finest cooks on the face of the earth. She can taste something at a restaurant and come home and produce it. Some people play the piano by ear, my mother cooks by tongue (or rather taste)! No recipes, no need to labor measuring and certainly no need to rely on anything frozen.
I suppose this site is dedicated to my Mom because she loves good food and taught me the importance of taking pride in my cooking.”

I have added a few recipes to his site and will continue to. I love the reviews he does and if you travel you will sure see some places you will want try. The products he suggests are the best and I know if he thinks they are good than they are!

Benji, thanks for doing this site. I am proud of the young man you have become and want you to know that.Keep it up……know I love you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


There are times in life when things come at you that you did not see coming. This is one of them.

My husband was let go just over 2 weeks ago. In the apartment business you face having to move in 10 days. So you lose your job as well as the home. We were faced with what seemed impossible. These questions went through our mind.....where do we go, what will John do, how do we decide this in a few days and than get moved?
We felt we needed to move back to LaGrange where we have 2 kids and their families. On the day the packers were at the house we still had no about a panic! John was in LaGrange looking and a friend and I were in Atlanta......Early in the afternoon he secured a wonderful little house in city limits but really in a country setting. When the movers and Jane and I pulled into the driveway it felt like home!
I failed to mention the company he worked for paid for the packing and move because they had our apartment rented before we were out. They did not get all the packing done the first day and had to bring a load the next day. I stayed home to unpack and John went to let them in.....
God provided just what we needed......I love nature and as you can see on the first picture we are on a pond and have an acre yard. I have watched a Kingfisher drive in for a fish and bring it out.
Soft shell turtles sun bathe on the logs as ducks swim by checking them out. we have a Little Green Heron fish as a Great White Heron is at the other end of the pond. Song birds are all around us. What a treat to wake up to nature!

This is the front of the house that overlooks the pond.
You enter through the side door into the office or through the sliding glass doors from off the carport that lead into the dinning room.

I love my country kitchen.......can't wait to get cooking in it. As of now there are only a few boxes left and I will have that all cleaned out by the end of the day. John has been going room by room and decorated and arranged furniture so all could fit in. I will take pictures when we are finished.
We still have no real leads on a job. With my husbands narcolepsy and still learning what his limitations are we ask that you all pray for us and for a job that is less stressful for him. I feel we are in a place to heal and for him to sharpen his photography skills. God is good and I know he knows just what we need.

Friday, August 15, 2008


by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
This was my fathers favorite poem but I just found that out. This is where the "Journal Jar" comes into play. Several years ago I gave my parents a journal jar for part of their Christmas gift and along with that a journal to write down the answers. I had mom write on the right hand page and dad the other. They used scotch tape to tape the one they pulled each day on the top of Dad's page. I told them to take their time and now I have it. One of the questions was "What is your favorite poem? Please write it here." Mom said dad wrote his from memory.
As I read the pages I learned so many new things about mom and dad and their memories, favorite things and favorite people. I think I really gave this gift to myself and my children and they will pass it on. Dad is gone but I have this precious journal in his handwriting I encourage each of you to do this so the legacy of your parents will be passed on. I found the ones that seemed to fit them.
LDS sites are great for these. I respect the way they make history alive to their kids and keep passing it on from generation to generation.
Here are some sites to get prompts:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Tribute to my Father

My Father, Arthur Kraybill went to be with the Lord on August 4, 2008 around 9PM.

I have struggled what I need to share and have written several posts that I have not posted. The reason I did not was it just did not seem to honor him at all. My dad loved the Lord with all of his heart and he never wavered from the faith he had in the Lord. If God said it to him that settled it and he never questioned it. I really admired him for that. I, on the other hand question so much. I decided to really look at what dad taught me and begin to accept God's Word as is. Maybe that is the best tribute I can give him. He leaves some big shoes for me to fit into!
He and my mother were married for 65 years in Feb. He told folks they were married because he allowed her to always be right. He sure did that! Dad was 88 in March 10Th, 1920.

I decided I would share with you all what I said at the Memorial service. Normally I could not get up in such a time like his service and share but I felt compelled to make him alive to all.
His Memorial was held at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Fla. on August 9Th at 11: PM. We will take him to Harrisonburg to be placed there in October and have another memorial serice.

"It was a long ride on Monday night from Atlanta to Sarasota. When John was not entertaining me I would wonder just what words would describe my dad. The first one that came to my mind was courage. It took courage when his father died when dad was 6 and he and his brother Ben went to live with their grandpa and grandma Kraybill and the 3 Aunties. He missed his mother and sister Rachel but he made the best of it.

It took courage for him to leave the safe haven of the Aunties home and go to Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He had to dorm and learn rules that were for the dorm and not his home. He adjusted and thrived at school.

It took courage to adopt a child when Mennonites did not always accept this. He wanted a little girl and he got me. My dad sat up with me day and night when I was sick. He listened to me and he became my safe place.

It took courage when he had polio. I remember that ambulance coming to pick him up and I figured people went to the hospital to die and I was scared. He had to fight to gain his muscle strength and he did it and went from a full brace to a knee one and than no brace. He struggled through the pain and experienced the victory of healing. I thought my dad was the greatest!

Than the word dependable came to my mind. If dad said he was going to do something he did it! It did not matter if it cost him time. When the Mennonite Church asked him to help in a struggling Mission in Harrisburg, Pa. he answered the call with a clear yes, I will go. Hamilton Street Mennonite Church was over an hours drive and we made it Sunday morning and Sunday night, Wednesday night and all 2 weeks for Bible School and revival meetings. He soon became a "father figure" to the young men and he would bring them to the farm.

Dad loved....he loved mother and me. He loved his Aunties and siblings and their families. Mom fussed at times but dad never had a ugly word to say about any family member. He loved his grand kids. One memory I have is both girls combing his hair and making pony tails and many barrettes in his hair.....he would sit there and encourage them. Crystal caught her first fish in the lake behind them in Sarasota and dad cleaned it and mom fried it. He was so proud. He would play games with them over and over. They could use his desk and he would play real estate with them.(He sold real estate for many years)

Dad had a habit we had a lot of fun with....his files. He cut things out and filed them, he kept record of our calls and filed them. Every talk he gave at church was filed,(now I have them and have learned to know him better than before.) Mom tried time to time to get him to get those files cleaned out and he resisted much to her horror. Guess what....he gave them to me and I weeded down what I loved and yes, I have them filed too.

My dad read the Word of God each day. This memory was refreshed when we had to move in with them a few years back...each morning I awoke to see him by the window reading his Bible.

He treasured these times with the Lord. He prayed for each of us that he loved and I already miss those prayers.

When dad was living with us in Atlanta he developed some fears. That was something I never had seen in him. One day I called him and he was down.....I asked him if he took his Vit. C. He
was faithful taking his vitamins and he seemed stumped. I said the Vit. C that Aunt Emily taught me. I told him to look up Deut. 1:6. "

Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes before you: he will never leave you nor forsake you."
He said that helped and he would read that everyday.

Dad loved me. This is what I will miss:
"Daddy, I love you"
and he would answer:
"Honey dear I love you too-more than you will ever know."

I will miss him and that wonderful smile......Daddy, I love you! Thank You.

My gratitude is for:

13.My dad...

14. His testimony that never changed.

15. His love for his brother Ben, his sister Rachel

16. His gratitude for the Aunties who loved him and Uncle Ben and taught them so much.

17. His service to the Mennonite Church and to people that needed love.

18. His prayer life.

19. To the Lord for blessing this little baby that needed a home. I needed him too!

20. That I know he is in Heaven with the Lord and I will see him again.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Dinner Party

I so wanted to have pictures to post with this but nature played a part in not getting that done.

Let me start in the beginning...
John asked me about 2 weeks ago if I was up to having a party for Staff here at the apartments.
It is quite a small staff (5)but we had never gotten together after work since the property was bought a year ago. I felt my knee is well enough and I have been able to stand up cooking for a morning(it's been years since I could do that) so I agreed. I asked John to chose the menu. As usual he did a good job with it and I added. This is it...

Antipasto Dip served in Belgium Endive along with crackers
Mexican Chip Dip and chips
Meat and cheese tray with crackers

That for the Dinner:

7 Layer Salad
Seafood Newburg in Puff Pastry
Beef Tenderloin cook on the George Foreman (John does this)
Green beans
Saffron Rice
Baked Potatoes with all the toppings
2 kinds of bread from Trader Joe's

Banana Pudding
Fruit Pizza

I did the antipasto dip, banana pudding, and 7 layer salad Friday plus shopping in 3 stores which I have not been able to do for 2 years and it felt good!

I set the table Sat. morning with a beautiful gold tablecloth. I used my antique Wedgwood white service for the plates we needed and antique wine glasses and I used my moms damask napkins.(They were her wedding gift 65 years ago) I used one of John's plats as a simple centerpiece

By 6:30 all was made and we were ready. We knew several would be late and so that was fine.
By the time they came I had the shrimp cooked and a good start on the sauce just having put in the bay scallops.....a storm was coming and the lights flickered. I put the Pastry Shells in the oven and the lights were gone with all the electricity......John had put the tenderloins on whole and they had cooked pretty good.....That threw the guests in a tizzy because they were hungry....of course the elevators quit and it was a mess. So the men went out to make the emergency measures they needed to make while I sat and chatted with the ladies. I refused to get upset knowing we could pull it off! hour later John and I felt we could serve....the heat had cooked the scallops....the beef was medium rare and well done...we would just serve the Newburg and they could put it on the bread slices or rice. We brought in the lanterns we use on the balcony and had great light. They all were pleased and we were just less than half through when the lights came back on. The food was a hit and it really was good.....They all wanted the recipes and I am preparing them a small cookbook for the 3 ladies. I made enough for a crowd and they all took some home and we had some today and will have enough for tomorrow. They left about 11:30...I was tired but so pleased I was almost back to my old self. I have missed having guests. John helped me too and he is a great cook so we have fun doing this.

I thought I would share the recipes. I used all of these when I catered and have altered them all. I do not have the original or know the source anymore.

This is good with meat also.
Antipasto Dip
1-14 ounce can artichoke hears, drained and chopped
2-4 ounce cans sliced mushrooms drained and finely chopped
1-4 ounce diced pimento, drained
1 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 cup celery, shopped finely
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup white vinegar
2-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine first 6 ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil in pan over medium heat and add onions and garlic, cook stirring constantly until tender. Add vinegar and nest 4 ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over vegetables, cover and refrigerate 8 hours but best overnight. To serve place Belgium Endive leaves on platter and fill with a nice amount of the dip. I also place crackers there because it is good on them.

I have added fresh mozzarella cheese finely chopped
pepperoncini salad peppers
salami finely cubed
Dash of hot pepper or red pepper flakes.
7 Layer Salad
This makes 2 large glass bowls
Layer in this order.

2 bags fresh spinach torn
2 or 3 heads of Romaine lettuce torn
thinly sliced purple onion
1 pound cubed turkey or ham or salad shrimps
bag of thawed and drained frozen green peas
2 cups grated carrots
sliced water chestnuts

3 cups mayonnaise
2 cups sour cream
3 packs Dry Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh
2 Tablespoons sugar
Mix and frost each salad making sure the whole top is covered with the dressing. Seal Good with plastic wrap.
When you serve it decorate it with halved cherry tomatoes and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and topped with crumbled bacon.

You can add other vegetables but tomatoes and cucumbers in the salad do not work good at all.
a layer of fresh mushrooms is great!
This doubles great!
Seafood Newburg
6- servings

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg...NOT an option
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese
1 good tablespoon Italian herbs
Garlic powder or minced garlic to taste
1 pound medium sized shrimp
1 pound sea scallops..I use bay because they are smaller and cook tender
2 tablespoons dry sherry...I use white wine

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly add half and half, stirring constantly. Add salt, nutmeg,pepper, Italian seasonings.Parmesan cheese and garlic, cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add shrimp, scallops, sherry or wine until shrimp are pink and sauce is barely simmering...about 6 minutes. Serve over puff pastry shells.

**I often cook my shrimp in boiling water and drain and than add them. If you use large scallops you need to cut them in half horizontally before cooking them.

I make my Saffron Rice in a rice cooker using Balsamic rice. I add a good pinch of saffron to a bit of boiling water in a custard cup and let it set 10 minutes and add that to the water you add.
You can add green stuffed olives, 2 tablespoons the olive juice, a can of washed black beans and some garlic. Last night I made it plain.
I think this comes from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk in the 70's
1-14 ounce can of Eagle Brand condensed Milk
1-1/2 cups cold water
1- 4 serving size packaged instant pudding and jello mix
2 cups-(1 pint) whipping cream, whipped
Vanilla Wafers
3-4 bananas sliced and dipped in lemon juice

In large bowl combine can of condensed milk and water. Add pudding mix and beat well. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon 1 cup pudding mix in a 2-1/2 quart dish. Top with layer of wafers, bananas and pudding and do it 2 more times, ending with pudding mix. Cover and chill several hours. Remember to refrigerate if you have leftovers!

Monday, July 21, 2008


It is a very hot beginning to a hot Atlanta day…

It has been a busy week. All week I was going to update the blog but things happened. John worked at a sister property all week and so Sparky and I had the apartment to ourselves. One great thing was for the first since my surgery I walked him and did fine.
My gait walking is so much better and I walk much faster. The massages are really helping and each week I gain a bit more range of motion. That is an answer to prayer.

On Friday Sparky and I went with him to work. Since we had lived in that area I wanted to do a bit of shopping in that area. There was a furnished apartment empty and we had all the comforts of home. I did get a few craft items, had lunch with John and my precious friend Kim (his co-worker there) and as we were eating out came a capped tooth. My dentist is 5 minutes away and they had a slot at four and cemented it back. We were glad I had gone along or that tooth would have been out all weekend.

In my gratitude list we will add:
13. I am walking so much better and have better range of motion. I am thankful for Sara who does my massages.

14. My dentist. They sure do have a gift of making our mouths more comfortable and our smile great.

15. About a month ago I noticed a Cardinal would come and sit on the rail of our balcony and sing as if she was asking for something. I got some birdseed and placed it in a crystal dish on the cafĂ© table on the balcony. Sure enough she found it and so she has visited me many times a day. Bless her heart…. she is molting and is rather unattractive with 2 feathers sticking straight up on the top of her head. I felt she was feeding babies because she filled her beak with seed and fly away. That is after she had her fill. This morning I heard not a song but a rather nervous sound coming from her and sure enough soon a young Cardinal was encouraged to come to the dish. The mother used her wing to flap on the young one’s head as if to say, “Eat”. After about 3 times the young one did that and than the mother sang. It was a tender moment to watch. It was like a time of teaching her baby and than praising her for learning. Cardinal moms are not much different than we human mothers are. I am sure grateful for my gift of nature in the middle of a city!

I really enjoy watching “The View”. I sure do not agree with a lot but the dialogue they have really make me think, pray and dig into facts. I have a passion for foster care. I have had 23 in my home over the years and I loved each one as if the were mine. Some stayed for a while and some were with us until a court date. I am adopted and we have adopted. Now what does this have to do with the view? Woopie got to talking about foster care and said that in the US everyday there are 50,000 children waiting for homes…these are foster kids. That number really struck me hard. I understand why some folks may want to make international adoptions but what happens to these kids in the US? Why are they not cared for? This has always been a puzzle to me.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27 (NIV)

“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4 NASB).”

Tome this is very plain and again is not a suggestion but a command. I am not saying all of us can open our homes to foster care but we sure can support those that do! Most of my foster kids were teen girls that were on a quick path to state school. (Really a lock down institution) People in the church were afraid of these girls. That shocked me. In school they disliked them. I was called to the principal’s office for one of the 15-year-old girls and he had the nerve to tell me in front of her that all foster kids should be shipped to an island and kept there. I was mad! She had come such along way by that time but simply hated algebra and fooled around in that class. She begged our counselor to allow her to quit and get her GID at a community school. He allowed her to and in 6 months she had her diploma and was enrolled in classes for landscaping. One year later she had her own small business. We sure took her diploma back to that principal and he was in shock but did not say he had been wrong. All but one of these young ladies with the exception of one has wonderful families and are doing good. That is thank you enough for me.

I am telling you all this because we need to show love for those that need us. Kids are in danger and every time I see a foster child died I cringe knowing maybe I could have made a difference. There are things we all can do. We are commanded to pray for the fatherless and I believe foster children fall into this. We can mentor those children that need it. Both of these take our time. I tithe my time as I do money. Some of us can give foster parents in our church or community a weekend off and stay with the kids. Or we can open our homes. The time I had with foster teens were the best in spite of all the tears lost in my bedroom. For the time there were in our home they were mine and I know I made a difference in their lives.

I was talking to a young homeless man a week ago as I was walking for my massage. This is his story…. He said after his mother told a judge she didn't want him when he was 13, he lived in 12 foster homes. At 18, he moved to a homeless shelter. Now he is between that shelter and the street. He graduated in the 5% of his high school but when he left foster care he was lost because all of a sudden he was on his own with little help. His goal is to go to college. He proudly showed me his diploma and last grades. You see people rarely hire a person without an address. I have a list of resources for him if I see him again.

Below this is a picture of a little girl and a beautiful young woman. I never got to meet this person. You see that precious child and young woman is my natural mother. She made a hard choice o give me away. The doctor that delivered me told me after my birth she lost it and was in a mental ward for a few months. After that she barely coped with life. My brother and sister told me I was the lucky one to be placed in an orphanage. I am close now to my brother and he gave me these photos. My mom and dad went to that orphanage and chose me as a baby. I am so thankful my natural mother gave me life and did not abort me. I am glad my son’s mother chose life for him and we have been blessed to have him in our lives. This is why I do not believe in abortion. But let me challenge you with this…do you just rant and rave about abortion or do you do something to change a life. Are you praying for children in danger that need a home? Are you giving time to mentor a child in need? Can you help a foster family? Can you open your home to a child from the US that needs you today? I can tell you that you will be blessed beyond messure!

Statistics You Should Be Aware Of:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

COOKING WITH NANA (My Mother-in-Love)

This is Nana and her husband Bruce. They only had a bit more than two years together but they were so very happy!

Lunch at Nana's was most often a sandwich,chips,relish items such as
celery sticks, pickles and olives......sweet iced tea with thin lemon slices
and fresh fruit and cookies.......often her Watergate you all
remember this one? (I added it at the very end)

A sandwich at her house was not just any sandwich! It was a work of was tasty and it took time to prepare. She would keep sliced ham
for a quick one but that was not her favorite.

I am going to share a few......The Hawaiian Ham Croissant was one she
clipped for her daily local paper.She loved cream cheese and pineapple and
ham and so this was really a perfect one for her. She did like a jello salad
with this one......
She loved grilled cheese sandwiches but again she added.....they were good
even though she had to have Velveeta cheese in them!
I never had a fried green tomato until I moved to the south and I never had
a fried green tomato sandwich until I met Uncle Joe and Nana. They loved
them. It really does make a good summer meal!
Spam was only used in her house for a Uncle Joe it was
junk......but he admitted he too liked a spread or fried spam for a
sandwich.....I still have not acquired a taste for it but cannot say I could
not eat one with Nana. The one thing she did different from the recipe was
she baked it first and got out the grease...she would set it on her small
roasting rack in a casserole dish and bake it about 30 minutes and than make
the spread. They both enjoyed a crispy fried spam sandwich too!
The next one was her a comfort food...She like Waldorf
anything! Like a can of Spam Underwood Chunky Chicken Spread was in that
pantry always too.
The last sandwich was one Elvis made famous but she and Uncle Joe swore they had them long before he was born. Each time we made these the debate would go on.....that was the fun part of eating with Uncle Joe and Nana. He was a local Country Club cook and she a "proper Southern Lady" that knew the way she fixed it was always the best. Now that they are both gone I will tell you that I liked Uncle Joe's "everyday" meals and her "tea party" food.
Enjoy these recipes.....I think most are from the 1950's or like the fried
green tomato one....just passed down.
Hawaiian Ham Croissant
4 oz whipped cream cheese
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
4 croissants, split
8-1/4-inch slices ham
Combine cream cheese and pineapple in a small bowl. Spread 1 Tbsp of
pineapple-cream cheese filling on each cut surface of croissants.
To assemble sandwich, layer bottom portion with ham slice, 1 Tbsp of
filling, another ham slice and croissant top.
Nana would take 2 pieces of bread...she loved a good wheat bread....Add
slices of Velveeta cheese and sprinkle the cheese with sweet Hungarian
paprika. For 4 sandwiches, mix 1 teaspoon minced onion with 1/4 cup soft
Spread on top and bottom of sandwiches. Brown in skillet.
Special Fried Green Tomato Sandwich
For the best Fried Green Tomato sandwiches be sure to use the larger, center
slices of the tomatoes, and use the strained bacon grease for frying the
green tomatoes.

8 slices, thick-cut bacon...Uncle Joe had to have thick cut pepper bacon
3/4 C all-purpose flour (This meant Lily White to Nana...she used it all the time)
1/4 C cornmeal (here they differed again....he liked yellow cornmeal and she wanted white)
Salt to taste
Black Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1 C milk
1/4 C bacon grease
3 or 4 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick (Uncle Joe almost measured
them and fussed if a maid did not get it just right!)
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 T prepared chili sauce
8 slices lightly toasted bread
lettuce...she like Romaine and he wanted Butter lettuce or Boston

cook bacon over medium heat until just browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels; reserve.
Strain the bacon grease into a cup and wipe the skillet with a paper towel.
Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
Add the milk and stir well. The mixture should resemble pancake batter.
Add olive oil to the cleaned skillet along with the strained bacon
grease. Place skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, dip the
green tomato slices in the batter, letting any excess drip back into the
bowl, then fry until golden brown. Add more olive oil to the pan if necessary.
Drain the fried green tomato slices on paper towels.
Combine the mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl; spread about 1
1/2 teaspoons of the mayonnaise mixture on one side of each slice of toast.
Lay 2 slices of bacon over each of 4 slices of toast, then top each with 2
fried green tomato slices and lettuce. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of
toast, mayonnaise-side down. Cut the fried green tomato sandwiches in half
and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
SPAM Spread
1 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 sm. onion
3 raw carrots
1 can Spam
6 hard cooked eggs, boiled
1 sm. green pepper
Grind Spam, eggs, carrots, onion and green pepper. Use coarse grater or
grinder. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Good on Ritz crackers or as a
sandwich spread.
you have to cut it very thin.......that I learned the first time she had me
help her make these.....she would sprinkle the slices with flour and put
them in a bit of oil and let them get crispy! Than they were ready to put on
bread with a tomato slice and lettuce.....sometimes she would melt a thin
slice of Velveeta Cheese on top of them too.
Waldorf Chicken Sandwich
1 can Underwood Chunky Chicken Spread (4 1/2 oz)
1 pack Cream cheese, softened (3oz)
1/2 medium Apple, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Raisins
1 Celery stalk, finely chopped
6 slices wheat bread
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover and
refrigerate 1 hour. Serve on whole grain bread.
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 to 3 ripe bananas
8 slices white bread

In a frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Make sure butter does not burn. In a small bowl mix together the peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon. Slice the bananas into 1/4-inch thick slices. Spread the peanut butter mixture on 4 slices of bread and cover with banana slices. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Spread the remaining butter on both sides of the sandwiches. Grill the sandwiches in the frying pan until each side is golden brown.
1 package (4 serving) Jello Pistachio Instant Pudding and Pie filling
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 half cup pecans (Nana liked to toast them first)
1-3/4 cups Cool Whipped Topping
Mix pudding mix, pineapple, marshmallows and pecans in large bowl until well
blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Cover
and refrigerate for several hours......

Friday, July 4, 2008


Happy Fourth of July…It is a beautiful day here in Atlanta, Ga.
There is a soft breeze and the French doors are open to our balcony. John’s plants are so beautiful and green and this week we were given 3 pots of herbs. The gentleman will be traveling for a month and ask John if I would like them. So now I have several kinds of mint, chives, fresh basil (which I love), parsley, cilantro and several other wonderful things.
No. 8 … I am thankful for fresh herbs and for people that do not throw away what another can use. We are a wasteful nation and I am trying so hard to make full use of all I have.

No. 9…Talking about what people throw away…look at these 2 cabinets. I see my stitching stuff finding a home in these. They have hardly been used. I did not take a picture of the beautiful counter spice rack full of fresh herbs and spices that someone no longer cared for. I lost mind with the mold mess several years ago and this is just a wonderful blessing!

No 10 is the book you see on top of the cabinets. I have wanted this cookbook for so long but $30.00 was way too high for me. I love Jan Karon’s series about Mitford. The characters are so real and what they cook always seemed to go along with their personalities. Last week John took me to Border’s and on a one-day sale for that store was a $ 3.00 table and there was one of these cookbooks. You can rest assured I picked it up and so now it belongs to my very small cookbook collection. I had over 100 cookbooks before the mold gobbled them up and now I have close to 15. To be honest I get a lot of recipes off the net because I can look at 3 and come up with ideas from all of them and create one we will like. I am thankful for authors that bring alive the characters they write about and for the cooks that publish their creations. Both take us on an adventure. I have always looked at cooking as a adventure and love to cook.

No. 11 is our country. I grew up Mennonite and church and state never met. Mennonites are peace loving folks and always against war. When I was a teen going into the armed forces was a test of membership. I had a dear friend that went to Viet Nam when we graduated in 1966 and he was no longer a member of his church and I was ashamed of the church in general. I always was the rebel in the group that questioned things we were taught. We did not pledge our allegiance to the flag either and I was in 11Th grade and at a local football game with our neighbor girl and when she stood up to Pledge the Allegiance to the flag I did for the first time. I had tears streaming down my face because I knew it was the right thing to do and because I had wanted to do it for the longest time. I will never forget that night and to this day it brings tears when I salute the flag with pride. I did get in trouble for doing it that night because a busy body told my parents.

I am not proud of all we do in America but I am so grateful for the freedoms we have. I am thankful we live in a democracy. I vote with pride (to this day my parents have never voted). I do not really like to debate politics but I do read all about each candidate and look at their voting record. That makes me a Independent…gasp…I am glad I have the choice to vote how I feel the Lord leading me. But far more important than voting is our mandate to pray for our leaders.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1.FIRST OF all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men,
2.For kings and all who are in positions of authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way.

No. 12… I was about to post this when we received a call that our son and his girlfriend were coming up to see us. Since it was her birthday this past week and they have been together for over 2 years and most of all that she has been a strong influence on our son to clean his act up…we decided to make it special. They love our Mellow Mushroom and we took them there and than to Borders Books to spoil her a bit more. I sent a grocery bag full of food home for them, some new clothes someone had thrown away that were very expensive and the leftover food from Mellow Mushroom. They just left very happy with their treasures. It is good to see them since they live 1 and ½ hours south of here.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I thought I would post using the “One Thousand Gift’s” challenge.I still am thinking about Tasha Tudor and her life and how it made me stop and think. To see nature we have to do that. It really is like the poem that tells us to stop and smell the roses.

No 7 in my list …. I am so very thankful for the love instilled in me by my family to stop and enjoy NATURE.

I remember my Aunt Emily singing as we traveled past pastures with cattle.

“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,The wealth in every mine;

He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,The sun and stars that shine.

Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -He is my Father so they're mine as well;

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -I know that He will care for me.”

Did you know that comes from Psalm 50:10? Look it up…

Or she would sing as we went to Camp Hebron or the mountains “ Fairest Lord Jesus”

To see the words go here:

How I love that song!

Grandma used to love to watch birds and that instilled in me the love for our feathered friends.I can still watch them in the city and have a Cardinal that comes and sings for me each morning on my balcony.

Streams, rivers and lakes became so real to me through poetry or books I read. I was fascinated by the words used to describe these bodies of water. I used to love when we were in the mountains and I could find a large rock or log to sit on and read or write in my journal. That was some of the best times I remember and I still thrill going to Helen, Ga and doing the very same. I am at peace with myself and feel God so very close.Yes, nature means the world to me!



All this beauty is created by our mighty God. Celebrate nature with me! God is good to us to give us so much beauty and how do we thank him? We must care for the earth He made. I believe He requires that of us as His sons and daughters.
(The pictures are taken by my husband. They are in in Florida at a State Park by Sorrento. The "Bambi" is taken several in Duluth, Ga where my husband made a nature trail by the Chattahoochee River. The one on the top is in Oregon where we married.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Tasha Tudor Passed away this week. I will miss her because knowing she was enjoying her simple life gave me a warm feeling. I knew she was caring for her piece of heaven in Vermont with love and in her simplistic way.

I first “met” this author as a senior when I was working at our hometown library. I was asked to do a bulletin board display for Tasha Tudor’s book, “Becky’s Birthday”. The Librarian told me to look up all I could about Tasha Tudor and go from there. I was amazed to see she illustrated “The Secret Garden”. All I really remember doing for that bulletin board was the pin ribbon that was the border and it looked like the dust jacket of the book. From that day on I was hooked on the talented woman.

As a single mom I picked up one of her book and she became my hero again. She too was a single mom and she did it without electricity and plumbing. Having grown up in “Amish Country” I understood what this meant and I marveled because I had all the conveniences and struggled to get through the day. It was about that time that I began to search to see what simplicity was all about.

I could write a lot but decided the best I can do is share some quotes from the book I have about her called “The Private World of Tasha Tudor”. Her love for gardens and flowers came from her mother and grandmother who were “passionate gardeners. She talks about the name of flowers and how she likes to use their common names because “ The sound of ‘foxglove’ is so much pleasanter than ‘digitalis’ “. (page 41)

I may not agree with her feelings about snakes but loved this paragraph.
“My garden is built in levels with lots of stone walls. The snakes think my walls are Ritz-Carltons. There’s a lovely tame one, which lives in the largest wall just before the house. He was injured when he was tiny. I brought him inside and made a nest of moss and raised him up until he was a foot long. Than I had to let him go because he was getting too big. He would sit curled up in my hand at night when I read. Snakes love warmth, and he would make a perfect circle in my palm. Have you ever studied a snake’s face?-how optimistic they look. They have an eternal smile. I think they’re laughing at man’s folly.” (page 56)
Now I can promise I will never bring a snake in my house and become that intimate with it but it was right for her and so consistent with her life. That is a trait I admire.

On dress…remember she collected vintage clothing and wore them.
“Why do women want to dress like men when they are fortunate enough to be women? Why lose our femininity which is one of our greatest charms? We get much more accomplished by being charming than we would by flaunting around in pants and smoking. I’m very fond of men. I think they are wonderful creatures. I love them dearly. But I don’t want to look like them.
When women gave up their long skirts, they made a grave error. Things half seen are so much more mysterious and delightful; Remember the term “a neatly turned ankle”? Think of the thrill that gentlemen used to get if they caught even a glimpse of one. Now women go around in their union suits. And what a multitude of sins you could cover up with a long skirt if you had piano legs.” (page 63)
I see her wisdom here. Again I look at her with admiration because she did what she believed and did it with great grace. To me she was what a lady is to be….strong but yet gentle.

On life:
“ The past wasn’t as romantic as people seem to think. There were many hardships, especially for women. They usually had families of six to eight; they were pregnant most of the time or nursing when they weren’t. Think of all the spinning and knitting and sewing and cooking and wood gathering. It was constant. No wonder that saying, “Men may work from sun to sun/ but a woman’s work is never done.”
I don’t say they were unhappy, but I think they were tired most of the time. I was tired most of my younger life, with no electricity until my youngest was five, hauling water with a shoulder yoke, and heating irons on the woodstove. But I didn’t know anything different, so it didn’t seem like a hardship to me.” (page 88)

I think that last sentence sums it up for me. We could try to go back in time but all of us know the easy conveniences electricity gives us and to go and live like she did would seem like a hardship in the long run.

The last paragraphs in the book sum her up in a wonderful way.
“ I’m perfectly content. I have no other desires than to live right here with my dogs and my goats and my birds.
I think I’ve done a good job of life, but I have no message to give anyone. If I have a philosophy, it is best expressed by Henry David Thoreau: “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” That is my credo. It is absolutely true. It is my whole life summed up.”

She died at 92 in her home surrounded by her family and all she loved. She lived life and although she may not have known it she showed us how we are to care for the earth and all God has given us. She cared for all of God’s creation and set a wonderful example of how to do it. It inspires me to do my part in keeping our earth a wonderful clean and beautiful place to be.
I miss knowing she is not in Vermont caring for all she loved. But she taught me a lot by her books and I will be forever grateful!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


No matter what you think living in the city there is beauty all around you. I really did not want to move down here but the transfer for my husband was not an option. I decided to treat the move like a adventure or a treasure hunt. It worked and within a week this was home!

This is the view I see everyday from my living room. I really never studied architecture with the exception of Frank Lloyd Wright who I find so fascinating. But moving down in Midtown, Atlanta I soon was drawn to the buildings around our building. Just study it a bit on the daytime and night pictures.

We see this building from the swimming pool and at night it is so beautiful and graceful.

This one is beautiful at night also and it glistens in the sun….

We have this one directly in the center of the balcony and at night there is magic in the lighting.

This is next to us and when we moved here a year ago it was a Sheraton but the transformation to the “W” has been fun to watch. It draws in stars and famous people.

I think about the talent that God has given us and I marvel. A child likes to draw and that that grows into drafting and the talent God gave them may turn them into an architect. Another child loved to build with Lego blocks and that turns into interest to be a builder and now we have the above two working to build a beautiful building. To finish you need construction workers that are skilled and crane operators that I sit here and marvel at their talent as I watch them build floor by floor. It takes interior designers to make the inside as beautiful as the outside and than landscapers to add the touch of nature. God is indeed good to us in giving all of us what it takes to fulfill our jobs and passions. I think so often we forget how He has much He has helped us sharpen the abilities we have.
Number 4 in my "One Thousand Gifts" is our talent.

5. I am so grateful for plants and my husband gift to take plants others have thrown away and bring them back to life. Notice I even have some herbs growing in out container garden. We did not buy a single plant here just rescued them.

Look at the courtyard I see every day and how I love to hear that fountain running.
John helps keep it in tip top shape too.
6. Old friends…. Really she was my first babysitter. Lorraine Murphy is the oldest daughter of my favorite schoolteacher at Kraybill’s Mennonite School. This family was a special family and all four kids worked for my dad on our farm. During Asparagus season
They were there at 5:30 AM to pick the three acres. The youngest boy was John and we were close friends through school. Lorraine is a very talented opera singer and I am going to quote the Sarasota Paper telling about her.

“Lorraine Murphy has toured the former Soviet Union,
Poland, Germany, Ireland, and France and has sung on
four tours to Scotland and England. She has concertized
throughout the U.S. and has sung principal opera roles
for the Harrisburg and Lancaster, PA opera companies.
She is a frequent soloist with Key Chorale and Gloria
Musicae. Ms. Murphy will be accompanied by pianist
Lurray Myers. Harpist Bonnie Caplan is very much in
demand in Southwest Florida. She has performed with
such entertainers as Steve Lawrence & Edyie Gorme,
Marvin Hamlisch, Barry Manilow, Roberta Flack,
Manhattan Transfer, Michael Bolton, Johnny Mathis,
Beach Boys, Peter Cetera, Oliva Newton John, and

I called mom today and Lorraine had called them and and making plans for her to visit them soon. Dad told me they will talk of "the good old days".I am thankful for her talent. It is good to remember precious friends. This lady lives life to the fullest and I know her mom is looking down from Heaven and thankful for the fact she uses her talent.