Saturday, February 28, 2009

Being Thankful...Feeling Content

As I've gotten older, I've realized that I'm spending more time in thinking about being thankful. And I'm beginning to know that being thankful is tied to being content. I don't like the restless feeling of wondering if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Instead, I'd like to become more AWARE of times through the day that I can say, "Thanks for that blessing, God. I am happy with it."

I have the notion that mindless cruising through the mid-years of my life will mean I'll miss good, but little things, along the way. The often frantic, little-boy-raising years are in the past. The decisions of young adulthood (getting married, buying a house, finding the right job) are also in the past. So now the excitement of those early years has given way to a more settled and calm life of just plain living. There are still crisis moments, but they're farther between and not as angst-ridden since I've discovered that hand-wringing just makes me tired!

What does God have to say about this part of my life? Is He happy with my cruising through these mid years? Has He planned any more adventures for me, or should I be content with this smooth sailing that is going on now? One thing I know for sure: He wanted me to pick up my pen and start writing again and He was perfectly happy to nudge me into it the year I turned fifty! That gives me a sense that He does have adventurous plans for me yet; that the excitement and happiness of new things is not totally over in my life. And I also feel Him drawing me to Him in a closer and more personal way. His love for me is closely tailor-made for this aspect of my life. I want to trust that His plans for me are also tailor-made and will come about just as He wants them His time...His suit my life the best in these mid years.

And that ties into my feelings that I need to be aware to be thankful; to feel content for what is here and now and what He has already brought into my life. My prayer is that I will open my eyes wide to see His provision and love for me, and with even greater clarity, to sharpen my focus on His blessings today and soften my focus on what is still to come. I want to live fully right now and with all the fervor that I usually save for dreams of the future.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." I Timothy 6:6-7

'Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

"Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us'.” John 14:8

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fiction: Sylby Abides

Today's Friday Fiction is being hosted by Beth at Laughing at the Days. Be sure to stop by and read the wonderful fiction available there!

Sylby Abides

By Dee Yoder

The men stood with their hands in their pockets, their necks uncomfortably ringed with seldom worn ties. Women, their hands loaded with casseroles and hot pots, meandered in and out of the front screen door, letting it slap shut with a bang each time. One of the men in the group nearest the steps turned and shaded his eyes as he saw me approaching.

“Well, here now! Is that you, Peggy?” He walked toward me, his hand extended in welcome and a smile across his face.

“Yes, I’m Peggy…and you’re…?”

“Paul. Brad’s boy.”

Ah…so you’re my second cousin.” I didn’t remember him, but I recognized his dad’s name as my father’s cousin.

“Yes. How’s your dad?” Paul asked.

“I’m afraid he can’t travel anymore. His health won’t allow it.”

“Well, we’re all getting older. Sorry to hear he’s not well.”

“Thanks. Is…Grandma Virgie in there?” I pointed to the screen door and Paul looked toward the house.

“Yes. She wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what her kin have always done…so…” Paul shrugged.

I nodded politely. “I suppose I’d better go in. Is Aunt Sylby-?”

“Yeah. She won’t let anyone take her away from Grandma. I know it’s not right to speak ill of the dead, but I don’t understand how Sylby can be so sorry to see her mama go…Grandma Vergie was…well…everyone knows what she did to Aunt Sylby.”

I shook my head and solemnly headed to the porch. Inside, the house was dim and smelled of stale wood smoke, fried bacon, and “Evening in Paris” perfume one of the women was wearing. A lady hurried across the room, wrapped her arms around my neck, and pulled me close.

“Peggy! It’s good to see you! Oh, my. I miss your dad, I surely do. I wish things were different…it’d be so good to see he’s well and whole. We’ll all just have to wait for our Heavenly bodies, I suppose, to know those day again.” My dad’s oldest sister, Aunt Claire, held me tightly, tears glittering her eyes.

“Do you think Aunt Sylby will recognize me?”

“Well…you know how she is…I kind of doubt she’ll even notice you, Peggy. She took it hard, though we all know Mama Vergie didn’t deserve her devotion. My, my, my.” Aunt Claire shook her head, wiping her tears with her apron. I glanced around the room and noticed the open door to Grandma Vergie’s bedroom. Aunt Claire nodded at my questioning look.

Aunt Sylby turned to me as I entered the room. Her face held the na├»ve innocence I’d always known, but the recent scar that Grandma Vergie had been responsible for raised a red, irritated welt under her right eye. Tears tracked both cheeks and she wrung her hands repeatedly.

“Mama’s not waking up…Mama won’t talk to me…can you make Mama wake up?” I looked beyond Sylby’s shoulder and saw Grandma Vergie stretched out on her bed as though she were taking an afternoon nap. Her profile remained sharp and hawk-like, the predatory visage not a bit softened by death.

I felt a bitter childhood memory press forward of Grandma Vergie slapping Aunt Sylby all over her head and ears while Sylby threw her scrawny hands out to fend off the vicious blows. “Stupid Girl, stupid and dumb and ugly…why the Lord ever let you be born is beyond me!” Had I imagined the sly look of satisfaction in Grandma’s curled lip as she pummeled her frustrations out on poor Sylby?

I shivered at the awful memory. Aunt Sylby took my hand and pressed a kiss on my palm. She seemed to have suddenly forgotten her pitiful questions and was looking at me with adoration lighting her face.

“Jesus loves me…this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Aunt Sylby sang quietly, while her weak and lisping words exposed her advanced age.

“Yes, Aunt Sylby. Jesus loves you…this I know…”

She giggled and twisted away, her gaze once again finding the body of her mother. She gasped.

“Mama? Are you going to wake up now?”

“Aunt Sylby? Won’t you please come and have a bite to eat?” I cajoled.

She slowly turned her eye to mine, grabbed my hand, and smiled, the red scar hiding in the wrinkles of her face.

“Jesus loves me…this I know…for the Bible tells me so…” she sang again.

I hugged her to me, and led her away from her mama for the last time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writing Trivia

I love trivia and I've been thinking lately about writing trivia. Weird questions like: Who wrote the very first book? What is the most expensive pen in the world? And, who first made paper?

Well, here's a useless blog filled with writing trivia. Hope you have fun reading about things you never knew you wanted to know!


1. What is the most expensive pen in the world?

Aurora’s Diamante! It contains over 30 carats of diamonds. The maker only creates one pen a year! The price is not made public, but it is estimated to cost about $1.28million. My!

2. What was the first book ever written down (not including the Bible, of course!)?

Most scholars say it is the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is said to one of the first novel-like stories. It was written as a Sumerian book of poetry. The surviving version was written on clay tablets in the 7th century BC.

3. Who made the first paper?

A courtier named Ts'ai-Lun, from Lei-yang in China, was the inventor of paper around 105 AD. Notice: it is not papyrus, which was made from sliced flower stems of the papyrus plant. Paper is made of cellulose fibers from wood, cotton, or flax. Its name did come from the word papyrus.

4. When was the first pencil used?

The first pencil may have been a Roman stylus. It was a thin metal stick, made of lead and used for scratching on papyrus. The word pencil comes from the Latin word pencillus. It means "little tail."

5. When was the first home computer marketed?

The first home computers entered the market in 1977. The names of these first machines were the RadioShack TRS-80, the Commodore PET, and the Apple II.

6. When was the first book printed or published?

The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed with movable type. It was printed at Johann Gutenberg's shop in Mainz, Germany in 1454 or 1455.

7. What was the first book published in America?

The First American book was The Bay Psalm Book. It was printed by Stephen Daye, at Cambridge in New England, in 1640.

8. When was the first laptop computer sold in America?

The I.B.M. 5100 was the first commercially available "portable" computer. It appeared in September 1975. It cost $20,000!

9. What was the most expensive book ever sold at auction?

According to The Most Expensive Journal web site: "Shakespeare’s “First Folio,” a first edition collection of the Bard’s plays was the most expensive book sold at auction in 2006, bringing $5.1 million USD. The book was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death and contains a dozen plays that have never been reprinted as well as many that are considered classics today."

10. How many books has Harper Lee written (the author of To Kill a Mockingbird)?

Harper Lee's famous book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. She was 34 years old when it was published and it is her ONLY novel. (I'd take that book as MY only novel!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Lovely Blog Award!

I received a lovely blog award from Sherri Ward at A Candid Thought. Thank you Sherri!

The rules of this award are as follows: Confess 5 things I am addicted to and then pass on the award to 5 other sisters. OK. Here's my list:

1. My laptop-it contains a world of possibilities for me and God used it to open up and expand my universe during my "jubilee" year when I turned 50! He loves me, and He proves it by letting me blossom into what He already knew I could become.

2. My family-I have lost a loved one early in my adult years and that loss has taught me that there is nothing more precious than my son and husband. My days sing with them in my life! God loves me, and He proves it by allowing me to share my life with Arlen and Joseph.

3. My friends-cyber and "real"! I could never get through difficult or trying days without my friends! They are the spice and salt of my life. God loves me, and He proves it by bringing amazing and talented people into my corner of the world!

4. My home-I'm very much a "nest" person and there is no greater security for me as when I lay down at night and feel the walls of my home wrap around me in calm and peace. When I was a new widow, I was very afraid of being alone, until I read a scripture about angels sitting on the rooftops of God's children's houses to protect them. That security began to envelope me and give me strength to face whatever came my way! God loves me, and He proves it by blessing me with a lovely and warm home to protect me and my family.

5. God-I don't ever remember a time that I was not aware of Him. He has been a part of my every waking moment as far back as I can think! His comfort and love has encompassed me over and over again--in good times and in bad times. God loves me, and He proved it by giving me His only Son.

Here are five sisters whose blogs touch my heart:

1. Laury Hubrich's In My Daddy's Arms. Laury is honest and not afraid to share her inner thoughts. She inspires me! She never fails to offer an accepting heart to anyone who needs her.

2. Marita Thelander's Mari Flower . Mari has a way of injecting humor and transparency into each post. She offers a viewpoint I rarely get to read anywhere else.

3. Beth LaBuff's Laughing at the Days. Beth has a wonderful and clever way with words! Her kindness and positive attitude are infectious, and reading her superior poetry always puts a smile on my face.

4. Dara's Tales From the Writing Front. Dara is youthful and excited about her writings and her life! Her blog is a writer's dream: resources and inspiration abound. She is a true author-in-the-making!

5. Sunny has a private blog that is a succint treasure! Her writings can be funny, as well as serious, and never boring! With a few words, Sunny manages to draw word pictures that stay in my head and have me thinking long after I've read them.

Eye-Popping Quotes From the World of Politics

While reading through the news articles on Fox today, there were so many sentences and quotes that caught my attention, I couldn't choose any one subject to write about! So here's a list of quotes and comments from or about our politicians and their escapades on our behalf in Washington DC this week. The quoted headlines are in BOLD and any subsequent quote to explain the headline is in italics. My own little commentary on these headlines follows in regular print...often permeated with exclamation marks.

Read this with a soothing cup of coffee nearby and don't forget to hone your sense of humor, too. It will help alleviate the disbelief and disdain that is bound to overcome you as you read.

1. After Passing $787B Stimulus Bill, Congress Still Has $410B Spending Bill on Agenda: That's right. They still have to decide what to spend on their REGULAR budget to keep the government running. "When lawmakers return Monday from a weeklong Presidents Day recess, they will have only two weeks to pass a $410 billion spending bill designed to keep most of the federal government operating for the rest of the fiscal year.Lawmakers delayed voting on spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 because then-President Bush indicated that he would veto most of them."

Bring back Bush!! Enough said.

2. When lawmakers return Monday from a weeklong Presidents Day recess... I had to bring that sentence to the forefront. Read it again: congress got a whole WEEK to celebrate President's Day! My husband didn't even get one day. What in the world did they need a week to celebrate President's Day for?! OK. Gotta swig some joe...the temperature's rising...where's my sense of humor going already?!

3. Help Wanted in Interior to Spend Stimulus Funds: "The Interior Department intends to hire a stimulus czar to oversee spending of the agency's portion of the $787 billion economic recovery package, raising speculation that other departments will follow suit. The new position -- which will not be paid with stimulus money -- will likely be the first new job to be created by the department in its efforts to jumpstart the economy. When asked how much the position would pay, an Interior spokesman told it had not been decided yet."

Ahem. They make a point of saying that the new position will not be paid with stimulus money. Anyone else find that hilarious? Like, there is money other than tax-payer money to pay for these "new" czar positions? Oh man. I need a Twinkie. A cup o' coffee just ain't enough. Aaccckkk.

4.Obama Considers Lifting Federal Ban on Stem Cell Funding: "Under President George W. Bush, federal money for research on human embryonic stems cells was limited to those stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001."

Again: Bring back Bush! This one really frosts me considering that adult stem cells are the only cells that have shown they can be trusted to grow or develop the results needed or necessary for a specific outcome. And adults can give permission for their stem cells to be used for their own health needs. Isn't it enough that we literally slaughter thousands of innocent "embryos" already for birth control, product use, and other silly and selfish reasons? It's as though those of us who have made it past the embryonic stage of development and have been blessed to be BORN, can't wait to turn around and cannibalize our future citizens to suit our own immediate needs. Ugh. I need an antacid tablet. Quick.

5. U.S. State Department Issues Travel Alert for Mexico: "The alert does not recommend staying away from the country or any particular part of it, but advises American to stay away from prostitution and drug-dealing areas."

Consider yourselves warned, any of you sterling American citizens who plan to go to Mexico for your drugs or prostitution needs. (Can you hear me guffawing?!) Slllluuurrrrppp. Ahhh. I needed that sip. Now where's my tissue so I can wipe these tears of laughter from my eyes...whoo boy. (And by the way, I copied that little bit exactly--I didn't leave the "s" off of "American".)

6. U.S. Officials Outraged at U.N. Over Hamas Letter to Obama: "U.S. officials are furious with the United Nations for its role in Hamas' attempt to enlist U.S. Sen John Kerry to transfer a letter from the Palestinian militant group to President Obama during Kerry's trip to the Middle East, an official source told FOX News. The incident also has raised security concerns over how much Hamas knew about Kerry's travel plans." mean, the UN might have an agenda that does NOT match the agenda of the United States? Wow. That just floors What news! (Insert sounds of dripping sarcasm here--maybe a gag or two.)

"In addition, a U.S. official said there were security issues with the letter. The official who spoke to FOX News said there is concern that Hamas had advance notice that Kerry was visiting, which may raise issues of trust with the U.N. on future diplomatic trips."

Duh. Please, somebody stop my eyeballs from being permanently rolled backward. I don't know how many more headlines I can take!

7. Handful of Governors May Refuse Federal Unemployment Benefits: "Some GOP governors say new rules on unemployment benefits would hurt their states so they aren't going to accept a portion of the $787 billion recovery and reinvestment act signed into law this week."

"The unemployment insurance reform, if you will, would require the state to pay people who are not willing to take a full-time job," Barbour told FOX News, saying his state is not going to expand benefits to part-time workers. "We're not going to change that. ... We're going to give up about $50 million of federal money." (Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour)

There's so much in this article, that you're just gonna have to break down and go read it for yourself, but here's a particularly telling comment from a govenor who disagrees with Barbour and other govenors who expressed this same problem:

"But Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, said she'll be happy to take whatever cash Sanford and others reject. Also in line with an open hand are Republican Govs. Charlie Crist of Florida and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California."

And how about this nice comment:

"On Saturday, Democrats claimed that governors who turn down money from are "fringe" politicians eager to score political points. 'All of us are committed to working with President Obama to pull our nation's economy out of the ditch that George W. Bush ran it into,' Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said at the Democratic Governors Association press conference on Saturday. 'If some of the fringe governors don't want to do that, they need to step aside and not stand in the way of the nation's interests.'"

Here's a concept: How about just letting them govern their states the way they see fit, Mr. O'Malley?! Some people have a lot of nerve. SLURP. SLURP. SLURP.

Sheesh. I need a new pot of coffee...and where is that box of Twinkies...must be in the cupboard somewhere...I wonder if the Obama administration has some money put aside in their "stimulus package" for antacids to help us poor citizen's digest their stimulating antics each morning?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fiction: Gott Liebe Dich...Vertrauen Ihm

Welcome to Friday Fiction! Yvonne Blake is hosting Friday Fiction at her blog: My Back Door.

Gott Liebt Dich...Vertrauen Ihm

By Dee Yoder

We are tooling along on the Autobahn, driving the rental car for all it’s worth, but the German drivers are speeding around us as though we’re sitting still. I’ve got the map on my lap, and Darren is counting on me to get us to Ramstein with no detours. My hands are shaking though because my stomach is doing cartwheels again. The speed we’re going is making me a nervous wreck.

It doesn’t help that the lunch we ate two hours ago made me nauseous. Plus, when the waitress brought our food, she leaned past me to give Darren his jagerschitzel, and I got more than a glimpse of her hairy armpit. Ohhh. My tummy was already a bit queasy from the halb hunerfleisch that she’d put in front of me. It literally LOOKED like a chicken-chopped right in half, lengthwise, including part of the neck and one foot. All that was missing was the head.

I force myself to stop thinking about the chicken and look closely at the map again as we speed past the exits.

“Did you see that?” Darren asks me suddenly.

“No, of course not! I’m too busy trying to figure out this dumb map.” I angrily shake the map at him and settle back again against the seat. I am grumpy. Big time.

“It was a sign about the base…it said something about so many kilometers, I think.” He slides his eyes cautiously toward me, checking out my mood. He decides not to press his luck and doesn’t say another word.

“Oh, that’s just great!” I pull the map closer to my face and try to focus on the numbers and foreign words I see. I sigh. It’s no use; I just can’t figure out where the right exit is. I can’t understand the words at all. I lean my head back and shut my eyes for awhile. I try to concentrate on the future…our baby…but all I can think about is the past.

It was not in my plans to move halfway around the world when Darren and I got married three years ago. I knew he was planning to join the Air Force, but it didn’t occur to me that it might mean we’d end up living in Germany, not to mention that we just found out three months ago that our first child is on the way.

It still brings tears to my eyes to think that my child will be born away from home, away from grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles and all the other people who mean so much to Darren and me. I shake my head and open my eyes just in time to glimpse a sign that says something about Ramstein AFB…I think it said 20 miles…or would that be 20 kilometers? I am not ready for this.

Finally, we spot a huge sign that even I can’t miss and take the exit toward the base. The scenery changes from concrete expressway to rolling hills and gentle pastures. The roads are narrower and the villages, quaint.

We slow down to pass through a small town, and I watch an old lady carefully take her wet laundry from a basket and hang it on a line. She sees me and smiles and waves. I shyly wave back. We drive a few more miles, and along the way I watch the people going about their work, shopping and laughing and greeting one another. When they see us, they wave and smile.

Hmm. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. When we stop at a red light, I spot an elderly minister putting the title for his Sunday sermon on the message board in front of his church. I squint to concentrate on the words as he slowly spells them out: Gott Liebt Dich…Vertrauern Ihm. He then begins to add the English translation at the bottom: God Loves You…Trust Him

I blink back tears as we pull away and turn my head to read the board again. The minister looks right at me and then smiles as he points skyward. A peace and calm that I haven’t felt since we landed in Germany this morning envelopes me. I smile.

I lean over and kiss Darren on the cheek. He smiles back at me and I see his shoulders relax for the first time today. As I concentrate on our future, I suddenly know that whatever God has planned for us, it will be an awesome adventure.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Review: Cardan's Pod

I just finished reading Cardan's Pod by Rick Higginson. Usually, I'm not a fan of fantasy or science fiction, but this book stands out on my list of sci-fi reads.

It appeals to me because there is a dash of fantasy which spices up a typical modern environment. There is most definitely a moment when suspension of logical thought is required, as is true with all sci-fi, but it is wrapped in such a package of normalcy, that the reader begins to fully accept the fantasy creations quite quickly. And the author acknowledges the ordinary skepticism that any person would feel if fantasy figures such as these were encountered in real life. The reader perceives the sci-fi aspect, but doesn't feel like the entire story line is other-worldly.

My favorite part of this book is the relationship that develops between the main character, Josh, and the main fantasy character, Marta. Rick does an excellent job of keeping the reader intrigued with the plot developments between these two, but I have to say that I enjoyed the peripheral characters, also. They were fleshed out nicely for their parts and enough time was spent with each individually that I felt quite comfortable coming back to them as the story line carried through the book.

There is something for everyone in this book: mystery, intrigue, romance, and a "splash" (had to throw that word in) of sci-fi/fantasy. This book will satisfy fans of many genres.

I recommend "Cardan's Pod" to anyone who enjoys a good and satisfying story. It's not just for sci-fi readers only!

New Place; Same Sweet Dad

As we rounded the corner into his new room at the nursing facility, I peeked at his bed and saw him lying there: still. But his eyes were open and he was looking around. The lights were off and twilight was making a headway into his part of the world, so it was dim. There is no TV for him yet, and no pictures on his section of the wall for him to look at. It made me sad that he was simply...looking. I flipped the switch and warm light flooded his room. His eyes turned to the source.

As we entered, he slowly focused on us and in an instant, I saw a spark of life leap into his face. Yes. He still recognized his family and he still felt that thread that ties our hearts to his. I went immediately and sat on the edge of his bed. His eyes followed my movements like a thirsty traveler would follow a trickle of water in a desert. And in way, that's all that I felt I was offering him: just a trickle of life.

I made sure my eyes stayed locked on his for several seconds, and as has always been true, his brain finally caught up to the image he was seeing and he slowly...ever so slowly...began to smile. My grin got wider as his grew brighter. His cheeks flushed and he tried to talk to me. His excitement increased as his effort to communicate through words eluded him. I put out my hand and softly stroked his white hair, and his frustration ebbed away. His smile remained.

"Dad," I said laughingly, "Today you look just like a little bird! With your bright eyes and curious expression...and your soft, fluffy look just like a new-born chick." He grinned. Then, with great effort, he looked past me... lifted his head to see around my shoulders and again began to smile. He had spotted his grandson and his happiness expanded.

My dad has always loved his kids and grandkids and he holds nothing back when he sees them. My son came to stand close to the bed and Dad lifted his eyes to look at his tall grandson and laughed.

My husband came back into the room with a magazine and proceeded to show Dad all the pictures in the hunting periodical that he had found. Slowly, they made their way through the hunting fields of America and on into the exotic lands of Africa. Dad's eyes rarely left the pages, except when he would lift them to meet my husband's eyes...sharing the visual image with him in the only way he could; with a glance.

There are many ways to communicate...many ways to share...many ways to enjoy love and life and each other. And I am grateful that Dad still loves to share it with us, however subtle or reserved it now has to be.

We stayed with him until his eyes grew heavy and his breathing evened into sleep. And as I sat and watched him for a few moments, I wondered if his Alzheimer's-damaged brain was being set free in slumber. In his dreams, was he running again? Was he bending over his garden, stroking the baby plants with tender care? Was he driving down a super highway on the hunt, with his family along for the ride, for another vacation adventure--sure of his path and whistling his merry tunes? I hoped so!

We left a soft light glowing over his bed and said quiet good-byes to his sleeping form. His tufts of spiky white hair moved ever so slightly in a barely perceptible breeze, and I lightly swept my hand through it one more time. "Goodnight, Dad," I whispered. "I love you."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

I have two simple questions for my elected officials about the stimulus package:

1. If ALL the money in the US Treasury comes from its citizens to start with, why should we be impressed that you are going to bring "new" money through this stimulus package to our areas? Isn't it just coming from our own pockets already? It's like water: there is no more or no less water on earth than there was from the beginning (we live in an enclosed atmosphere--water is recycled--not disposed of permanently). So aren't you simply playing an expensive shell game with the citizens? That strikes me as MORE political balderdash and dishonesty.

2. If the reason we were thrown into this terrible economic disaster is because banks loaned money to people who could not repay their loans, then why do you want to give the banks more money to lend to people who can't repay their loans?! Um. Isn't that doing the same thing--AGAIN?

Two simple questions. From a simple person who managed to pay taxes correctly and on time--without the pressure of possible "vetting" poking me to do it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Other Side of the Road

My contribution this week to Friday Fiction is a story that I entered in the "Truth or Dare" topic of the Faithwriter's Weekly Writing Challenge. It is a predecessor of the novel I am writing about an Old Order Amish girl who decides to leave the Amish. For more great fiction, go to Julie's blog at The Surrendered Scribe

The Other Side of the Road
By Dee Yoder

The road the two girls are walking along is dusty and dry. The ripe corn is rustling like taffeta in the breeze. A car approaches the two from behind, honks an irritated little toot, and then speeds around them. The girls keep their heads down with their eyes focused on their tennis shoes. Their white kapps cover their hair, and their dark skirts swish around their ankles.

“Katie, do you think we’re doing the right thing? Daet and Maem will be furious when they find out where we’re going.”

Daet will be furious that we even know about this meeting, Rachel. We may as well get in trouble for going as for knowing.”

The sun has brought bright red spots out on their cheeks. They each push wisps of languid hair out of their eyes, and Katie sighs as she thinks about the changes they’re thinking of making in their lives. Rachel puts a hand out to stop her older sister.

“Wait. I think this may be the spot where the Troyer family said they’d meet us.”

The two girls stand uncertainly, watching both ways to see if a car is approaching. The sounds of cicadas and the crows remind them that summer is passing, and autumn is not far away. Their days are numbered to make a decision. For Katie, time is swiftly ticking down…she’ll reach her eighteenth birthday soon. Already her Daet has pressed her to make a decision to join the church. In her heart, she knows that she can’t join. She has accepted the Lord as her Savior, and the grace and freedom His gift has given her makes it impossible for her to live under the Ordnung. And Rachel…she turns seventeen next year.

On a small hill crest in the distance, a gray minivan appears. The girls face the sun and the car and wait for the family that will take them to the meeting.

The smiling face of the driver encourages Katie, and she smiles in return as he rolls down his window when the vehicle nears them.

Wie gehts?” he asks jovially.

Gut.” Rachel answers quietly.

The girls get into the car and are greeted by the man’s smiling wife. She speaks to them in Deutch, and they grow silent as the car picks up speed. The meeting place driveway is filled with cars and trucks and vans, and the girls are surprised to see so many young people milling about in the front yard.

Before long, the meeting is called to order, and the Bible study begins with the leader offering a prayer.

“Lord, we thank you that we have new ones to come and study your Word with us tonight. We thank you that Katie and Rachel have been brave enough to take this first step in learning about You. We are especially grateful that they have received Your gift of salvation. We pray that they are strengthened in their resolve to live for You…and You only. Bring a miraculous touch of the Holy Spirit to their lives as they learn to live without fear of retribution and in freedom from the Ordnung. If it be Your will that these two are the instruments to their family’s knowledge of the Truth that is in You alone, I pray that You may equip them for the challenge. Let them dare to pursue You…dare to bring true grace to their families. In Your name we ask these things. Amen.”

Katie clears her throat and wipes her eyes. A girl on her left pats her back and says softly, “My family watches me pass from the other side of the road…they don’t speak to me or greet me, and it hurts. But I know the truth, and I can’t go back to what I know is not right for me. The Lord drew me out and gave me His gift, so I also know that He will give me the words to bring His peace to my family someday. He will do the same for you…you’ll see. In the meantime, we’re here to help you start over.”

Katie lifts her chin and smiles at the group surrounding her. Tonight, she will tell her Daet what she has found. She will tell him her decision. Tomorrow, she may not be so strong, but tonight, with the strength of these who have also dared to face their futures, shunned and without their families, she can dare.

“Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31, The Holy Bible, NIV

Author’s Note: Mission To Amish People (MAP) is dedicated to bringing the life-giving gospel of Christ to the Amish and to provide support for those who choose not to stay in the Amish lifestyle.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The SonLight Club

I am involved with a group who ministers to, and presents the gospel to, the Amish. If you're interested in the Amish at all, then you know that they are a peace-loving, hard-working, and very religious group of Americans. So, why, you may ask, should there be a group who calls themselves Mission to Amish People, and what is their purpose? Don't the Amish already know the gospel? Why do they need missionaries sent to them?

The surprising answer is that, even though many groups of Amish profess the gospel, a few of them rarely, if ever, present the gospel and the life-saving message of Jesus Christ, to their people!

Many Amish speak Pennsylvania-Dutch as their everyday language. They learn English at an early age and practice using it in their dealings with the English that do business with them and surround them. So, since their most understood language is Pennsylvania-Dutch, followed by English, why is their Bible written in High (Formal) German? German is their "religious" language and of all three languages, the LEAST understood by them. Make sense?

The Old Order and Swartzentruber Amish are especially caught up in the religion of their sect. The gospel is seldom presented and much emphasis is placed on obeying the Ordnung (List of rules they live by) and the local bishop. According to Joe and Esther Keim, the founders and directors of Mission to Amish People, fear is the overwhelming factor in "practicing" the Amish religion among the Old Order and Swartzentruber sects. Fear of displeasing the bishop. Fear of not obeying all the rules. Fear of disobeying parents. Fear of everything, but wait a minute....didn't Jesus say the perfect love cast out all fear? So where is the love of Jesus in this practice of religion?

My Amish in-laws are not Old Order or Swartzentruber Amish, and right from the beginning of my relationship with them, they presented the gospel. An uncle of my ( at the time) soon-to-be-husband, asked if I knew the Lord. So, it came as a complete surprise to me, years later, to discover that there are Amish who are as far removed from the saving grace of Jesus as any group of people can get!

It is to these groups of Amish that Mission to Amish People is directed. One of the ways in Joe and Esther, and their team at MAP Ministries presents the gospel and the true knowledge of the Bible is through the SonLight Club.

The SonLight Club is a collection of materials that presents lessons from the Bible to the Amish through mail. It involves lessons for children and adults. Many Amish receive these lessons, complete the work, and send them back to MAP for grading and rewards. This has been a very successful and well-received way to send the gospel to the Amish communities.

Lately, however, something is happening that the lessons are being returned less and less often. Joe and his team are concerned. They have asked that Bible-believing Christians join them in prayer for this particular ministry. They need guidance on what to do next, wisdom to discover the reason for this down-turn, and financial support to take the ministry of the SonLight Club in a new direction if it needs to be changed to continue to reach these communities for Christ.

If you have an interest in the Amish and in helping to present the gospel to many of the Amish communities that are in need of the Message of Grace, please go to Mission to Amish People and explore the many ways in which you can get involved with this wonderful and loving ministry. Be sure to listen to Joe's testimony, and read the Keim's testimonies of their own experience in meeting the Lord and how it changed their lives and their connections to their families and friends. This website is chock full of information and stories of the Amish.

The Amish are Joe and Esther's people, and their heart for them never looses focus: that all Amish come to know the Goodness and Grace of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Praise and Worship Music

My plan is to post a Praise and Worship Music blog each Sunday. I don't want to keep the music on continuously, however, so I will post the music, let it play on Sunday, and then set a switch to turn the player off the rest of the week. If you'd like to listen and sing along to the music through the week, just bring up the blog and turn the music player on.

Thanks for listening, and I hope God blesses you as you listen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Faithwriters Conference 2007

Faithwriters Writing Conference

Two years ago I attended the Faithwriters Writing Conference in Livonia, Michigan. It was a wonderful experience. The conference is being planned for this August 7-8! If you're looking for an affordable, Christian-oriented conference, this is it. I will be adding more information about the conference as plans are solidified, but in the mean time, here is a slide-show from the conference two years ago!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Worship Sunday: Praise Music

I'm posting the words to the list of praise and worship songs playing on my blog today. If you'd like to take a few minutes to worship, be my guest! Enjoy the music and let the holiness and awesomeness of God refresh your soul.

"I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you." (Psalms 63:4-5)

#1 You Are Holy
Sung by The Lee University Campus Choir

I saw the Lord; seated on the throne.
And He was clothed in glory and exalted high.
And the train of His robe fills the temple,
and angels gather round Him and cry:

"You are holy!
Oh so holy!
You are holy, Lord of all!"

And woe is me, for I am unclean.
For my eyes have seen the Holy King!
And He cleansed my lips; right before my eyes.
And the pillars shook as the angels cried:

"You are holy!
Oh so holy!
You are holy, Lord of all!"

#2 Shout to The Lord

Words and Music by Darlene Zschech
Sung by Amy Grant

My Jesus, my Savior, Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength;
Let ev'ry breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.


Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

#3 Blessed Be Your Name
by Matt Redman
Sung by The Pentecostals of Alexandria

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

#4 (12) Who Is This?
Vineyard Music

Who is this that appears
like the dawn
Fairer than the moon
brighter than the sun
You're the lover of my soul
Draw me into you,
draw me into you

Who is this that beckons me to come close
Beauty beyond words
surrounds me
when you're near
You're the lover of my soul
Draw me into you,
draw me into you

We will run, we will fly,
We will be together
We will laugh, we will cry, We will be together

Who is this that wipes the tears
From my eyes
Just one glimpse of you Steals my heart away
You're the lover of my soul
Draw me into you,
Draw me into you

Draw me into you
Draw me into you
Draw me into you
Draw me into you

#5 Revelation Song

Worthy is the lamb who was slain. Holy, holy is He.
Sing a new song to Him who sits on Heaven's mercy seat. (x2)

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come.
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings.
You are my everything and I will adore You.
I will adore you.

Clothed in rainbows of living color.
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder.
Blessings and Honor,
Strength and Glory and Power be to You the only wise King.


Filled with wonder
Awestruck wonder at the mention of your name.
Jesus your name is Power, Breath, and Living Water.
Such a marvelous mystery

(Chorus Repeated)

#6 We Fall Down
by Chris Tomlin
Sung by Matt Redman

We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus

The greatness of
Mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus

We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus

The greatness of
Mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus

We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

My Jesus, I love you
I know thou are mine
To thee all the follies of sin I resent
My gracious redeemer
My savior, art thou
If ever I'll love you
My Jesus tis now

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fiction: Grohs Haus und Daughty Haus: Moving day for Leah

My Friday Fiction contribution received an Editor's Choice in the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. It reflects the life style of my in-laws, the Amish of Holmes County, Ohio. For more great fiction, go to Sherri Ward's A Candid Thought blog.

Grohs Haus und Daughty Haus: Moving Day for Leah

Leah looked around at the bare living room. Memories of everyday moments passed quickly through her mind, and she sighed as she reached out to clean the stain of a jelly-fingered streak from the doorjamb.

Was ist letz?” Matthew questioned as he came in the door.

“I’m thinking of the days when we first brought the kinna home after they were born. It seems like yesterday.” Leah smiled and Matthew reached out to tuck her hair back into her cap.

Ja…the days have passed quickly,” he said. “Maem and Daet seem too young to be moving to the daughty haus yet.”

“I know. But your Daet can’t work the farm the way he used to, and they know how much we’ll appreciate the grohs haus after being crammed in this little box. Still…I’ll miss our tiny house.”

“Me, too. Ja, well, we’d better be going.”

Leah lingered on the porch and looked out over the valley. The sun glimmered on the tops of the hay rolls that were hunkered in rows in the neighbor’s fields. Cerulean blues, mustard yellows, and summer greens were the colors that painted the meadows and sky, and she felt another twinge of sadness that she would not see this familiar view after today.

The horse twitched his ears as they approached the buggy. He stamped his feet in greeting and snuffled Leah’s apron pocket as she prepared to climb the step to the seat.

“Sorry, Stormy, no apfels for you today, silly gaul,” she said as she scratched his ears.

The way to the grohs haus was not long, and when the children saw them turn into the drive, they came running. Leah grinned and waved at her bunch. The kinna’s bright cheeks and sweet smiles warmed her heart, and the sight of the big farmer’s house filled her with sudden excitement.

Matthew’s parents had already moved their things to the smaller daughty haus that sat between the barn and the main house. Matthew and Leah would take over running the farm now, and Leah would be the one to cook the meals for the farmhands and plant the big garden that stretched just outside the kitchen door. She’d spent many summers helping her schwie-mutter, Sarah, pick the vegetables and prepare to can the produce they gleaned from that rich soil, and, somehow, it didn’t seem right that it belonged to her now. She wondered if Sarah was feeling sad, too. The move was a big change for Matthew’s folks, also. Leah glanced at the daughty haus just as her in-laws came out to greet them.

“Well, Son, everything ship shape and tied up at the old haus?” Matthew’s Daet asked.

Ja. All is clean and ready for the next family.”

Gut. Your Maem and I have got things settled in the daughty haus, and Maem has made a big batch of her chicken stew. Why don’t you get the kinna washed and ready for sobah while we bring the stew and brot over to you?”

Maem turned and pointed to the side porch of the grohs haus. “Leah, there’s plenty of tomatoes still ripening on the sill. Slice how ever many you think the kinna will eat, and we’ll be right back with the food.”

As she watched her mother-in-law walk slowly toward the daughty haus, Leah imagined she saw a little slump in the older lady’s shoulders. She thought of all of the years Sarah must have loved this old house. She jumped from the buggy and called out Sarah’s name.

“Sarah…Maem…please, wait a minute.”

Sarah stopped and glanced over her shoulder, her eyebrows rising in question as Leah approached.

“I…I just wanted to thank you, Maem. For the house and all. You kept it neat and tidy and…well…it will be a joy for us to live here.”

Sarah sniffed and pulled her daughter-in-law into a tight hug. She wiped her eyes and smiled at Leah.

“It’s been a gut haus, Leah. You and Matthew and the sweet kinna are welcome to love it and live in it as much as we once did.” Then she grinned. “Ja, well. Mind the windows in the kitchen, though. They stick on humid days.”

While Sarah went to fetch the meal, Leah walked to the side porch and carefully selected three of the ripest, reddest tomatoes. She turned and looked out over the rolling fields surrounding the house; the view here was beautiful, too. She smiled as she called her hungry kinna to supper.

Pennsylvania Deitch translations:
Was ist letz: What’s wrong?
kinna: children
daughty haus: smaller grandparent’s house (next door or attached to the main house)
apfel: apple
gaul: horse
schwie-mutter: mother-in-law
sobah: supper
brot: bread

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Look!

I finally did it! I finally changed the look of my blog. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long, long, time. There are some glitches, though. For some reason, my archives gadget is stuck in 2006, so none of my back posts (except the ones I allow to appear on the page) are being listed. They are still in my blog, but there seems to be no way to change the settings on the Blog archive gadget--at least, I don't know what else to do to "jog" it back to action! (If anyone has any notions about that "bug", I'd sure appreciate the advice.)

I gave up some things and have already decided to tweak some of the buttons on the side links, but all in all, I like this cheerier and more whimsical look. It suits me.

I had several moments of shear terror, however, when my archive seemed to disappear, but other than that, it wasn't such a bad thing after all.