5 Things I like about Winter

I feel very brave writing this. As my friends know, I have never liked winter. However in an effort to be more positive, I have come up with 5 good things about Winter.

  1.  Snow is pretty. I’m not going to be ridiculous and claim it isn’t. When my mountain is snow-covered and the sun sends glittering rays down upon it, it can only be described as spectacular.
  2. Boots. I really like wearing boots. And I don’t really wear boots in the  summer. I like wearing flip-flops better, but boots are nice too. Mom gave me a pair of awesomely warm ones for my birthday and I have this conflict of wanting to wear them every day and not wanting them to wear out. 
  3. Soup. I love soup. Most of it anyhow and I especially like trying new kinds of soup.  And it seems like we eat a lot of soup during the winter.
  4. Cups of tea. Tea and toast in the evenings or just a cup of good hot tea. We drink it like it’s going out of style. I have a cup of it on my desk full time and I’m not quite sure if I’d survive winter without it.
  5. Long evenings. To be honest, I’m kinda tired of these. I’m ready for evenings working in the garden or going with my brothers to check on thier cows. But by the end of summer I’m always ready for some evenings when the family can just be in the living room, reading or putting puzzles together or whatever. Those evenings have been a bit hard to come by lately but they do happen occasionally.

    So those are my thoughts today. I can’t say they were my thoughts exactly when I looked out my window this morning and saw a snow-covered yard but…  It seems like March can’t decide what to be this year. One day it’s sunny and warm and everyone wants to go barefoot and the next day we’re making snowmen. I wouldn’t mind it so much in January but March is supposed to be spring. The daffodils were already blooming. I feel sorry for them now, all covered in snow.


    Called to Serve

    We had a special service tonight. It was dark outside and raindrops fell lazily buy inside the Spirit of God moved and worked and blessed. 

    On the front bench sat a family we love. Part way through the service Brother Joey stood to answer yes to the questions that would make him a deacon in our congregation. Then his family knelt with him as we prayed first for him, then his wife and then his children. 

    And then Bishop Raymond asked dad to stand with him and Joey to have a prayer with him. They stood in a circle in front of the church, their arms around each other and they prayed. 

    I didn’t hear the prayer. I cried. 

    I don’t think anyone can really comprehend what this means to our family. I’ve seen my dad be a pastor by himself, off and on, for years. I’ve seen how hard this is for him. He doesn’t complain or even talk about it but we live with him. We can see that it’s hard. 

    And tonight I am thankful. For him. And for me too, because I like seeing my dad happy. I like when he’s not so weighed down. Of course it’s easier with two than with one. 

    Nothing really changed for them. They are still the same people today that they were yesterday. We are all called to minister and build the kingdom of God. We are simply called in different ways. Each person in our church fills a vital and important role. I cannot imagine my life without any one of them. 

    I’m thankful for my church tonight. For every person in it. I love each and every one of them and I am incredibly thankful for all they have done for me.

    I think sometimes of people who don’t have a church. Who don’t have a group of 30 or 50 or 100 or however many people who help them in the hard parts of thier lives. And I think about how lost I would feel if I didn’t have these people in my life. 

    I cannot imagine. 

    So tonight I say thank you. Thank you to my church family. Thank you to each person who has blessed me in my life. Thank you for loving me even when I make so many mistakes. When I’m not what I should be, considering all the blessings I have.

    They’re only words, I know.

    But I mean them with all my heart.

    Thank you

    10 signs you might be the pastor’s kid

    1. You go to every church activity. Every. Single. Church. Activity. It doesn’t matter if no one else goes. It doesn’t matter how unimportant it seems. It doesn’t matter how little you feel like going. It doesn’t matter how many other things you could do or want to do. It really doesn’t even matter if you’re  sick. Not unless you’re so sick that you literally can’t stand up without fainting. One does not simply stay home from prayer meeting or church or bible study or even the volleyball game. It doesn’t even enter your mind that it would be an option. You know that if there is a church activity, you will be there. Every time.
    2. You never get to judge anyone. Seriously. You’ve heard both sides of too many stories. It’s not like you stop believing people, it’s just that you always realize there’s another side to this story. This is very annoying to people who are not PK’s. Especially when they are close friends with us. They tell us a story and since they’ve become a good friend, we risk opening our mouths and saying “I wonder what the other side of that story is” and most people are simply not used to it. You also know too many people who are judged ruthlessly by people who have no idea what their story is, and you know the story and you know how strong they’ve been and how hard they’ve climbed to get to here and you just wanna punch those people. But you don’t, because you’re a PK and PK’s don’t do that.
    3. You don’t even blink at criticism. This is probably a bad thing but it’s true nevertheless. We live with criticism. I don’t know if there is any decision, choice, or action that was done by our family that wasn’t criticised by someone or other. That’s ok, we normally just blink and shrug and keep going. Probably we should sometimes take it more seriously. No doubt there are things we should change but it’s a sad fact that when some one or other will criticise the decision no matter which way you decide, you simply stop caring. Life must be lived. If we stopped to cry every time someone disagreed with us or criticised us for something, we’d drown in a river of tears.
    4. You somehow simultaneously know more and less than everyone thinks you do. I don’t quite understand how this works even though I’ve lived it. I can’t count the amount of times people have started talking to me about something, assuming that as a PK, I would know about it when in all reality I didn’t know a thing about the situation. At the same time, it has also happened that people told me things confidentially that I definitely already knew. Like I said I’m not sure how this works but I guess basically, we find out different things than most people assume we do.
    5. You can pick up on who the preachers kids are, everywhere you go. Preachers kids actually do not discuss being a preacher’s kid with other preachers kids. I’m not sure why but that’s just not an acceptable thing to do. It’s also not acceptable to ask someone if they’re a PK but we don’t have to anyhow because we know. I don’t know how we know but we do.
    6. You never had the opportunity to be irresponsible. I count this as a blessing of being a PK. We never have a chance to be takers who contribute nothing. A lot is expected from us at a very young age and we have no choice but dig in and help. We grow up with better life skills, I think, and also a better shot at being happy people because we learn young that it is better to give…
    7. You knew more about church doctrine at 12 years old than a lot of people learn in their lifetime. Seriously. I’m shocked sometimes at what people don’t know. Often people know very little even about their own beliefs, much less anyone else’s. I’m thankful for the education I got in this. It’s helped me win a lot of arguments and what’s more, it’s helped me stand strong in my faith.
    8. You have no friends and at the same time you’re everyone’s friend. Really everyone in church is your friend. You can’t be partial. People might get jealous. And you really do like everyone. Sometimes you just wish you could have a best friend too like everyone else seems to. But there’s a part of your life, a huge part of it, that most people will never understand and that doesn’t work well with best friends.
    9. You can keep a secret. A lot of secrets. Sometimes for a long time. And they’re not the happy fun kind of secrets. They’re troubling secrets. Ones you wish you didn’t need to know and have no desire to tell.
    10. You don’t understand why being a preacher’s kid would be a big deal. This is your life. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t affect you that much. You don’t understand why it’s a taboo subject or why it has to affect your personal relationships but you accept it. It’s life. And it’s a good life.

      Disclaimer: I speak for myself. Not for the thousands of other PK’s out there. Your experience might be different. I don’t judge you (remember PK’s don’t judge). I speak from the perspective of someone who never knew anything different. If you became a PK later in life you may disagree with me on a lot of these. I really don’t know, because like I said, this is my life and has always been my life.

      I also am not saying that these things apply only to pks. Many of the things on this list may apply to you even if you’re not a PK. I’m simply writing about my life. I realize i have written only one side of the story here. It’s the side I have lived. I know there is another side to the story too.

      We are human. We make many mistakes. I make many mistakes. There are many things in my life I wish I could go back and change. It is my prayer that I could live with grace and simply follow Jesus.


      He Comes like Rain

      I have a love/hate relationship with Rain. It comes in so may ways. light and drizzly, or in strong gusts, warm and refreshing or bone-chilling. 
      I love it in all it’s forms. Sometimes. I hate it in all it’s forms too. 

      It brings life.

      It can also destroy life.

      It all depends.

      On what, I’m not sure.

      Why is the rain sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrible?

      Or is it even?

      Maybe it’s not the rain at all but the way we see the rain. Maybe it’s not in the raindrops but in our perception of those raindrops.

      He Comes to us like Rain. 

      He can be beautiful.

      He can be terrible.

      It has nothing to do with who God really is. Only with our perception of him. 

      Our God is a life-giver.

      Sometimes He also takes away.

      This does not change the character of God but too often it changes our perception of Him.

      He is God. 

      We can trust that even when He Comes in stormy ways, His goal is life. Eternal life for us.


      For love of the Children

      I’m never more happy than when I’m at kids club. I always spend at least half my evening in bursts of laughter. Here are some of my favorite moments from tonight.

      Meg: (In class time, after the story of Joseph) (Very calmly with no hint of surprise in her voice)”No they didn’t put koolaid on his coat because they didn’t have koolaid back then”.

      Haley: “Please please go get markers! every room I go into, there’s a marker board and no markers! That ain’t right!”

      Pickle: “My name is charles, my dad’s name is charles, and our birthdays are on the same day!

      James: “There was this man who died for a little bit and he said he didn’t see God but I think he just wasn’t dead long enough.”

      Hailey: ” My sister said you’re her favorite Mennonite but you and the other one who look just like you are my favorite.”

      Also Hailey: I just want to see what it is! I promise if it’s spaghetti I’ll stay out!

      Audi: “Are you the ice cream man?” Dv:(looking surprised and slightly confused) I guess I must be.”

      A loud yell: “Come quick! there’s ice cream on the wall!”

      A child: (pointing at Bert) “you know him, the one that drives the church van”

      If you have a moment tonight, pray for my kids. Those are the funny moments but we hear sad stories too. We laugh a lot but sometimes we want to cry too. Like when the littlest boy says “I don’t want to go home, I want to go home with you”.  Or when a little girl says “I wish I could come every night. I wish I wouldn’t get home until this time every evening”. Or when a weary mother tells about her child who was expelled from school and is on who knows how many medications to calm him. 

      And then there are the more creepy times like when one boy says to another. “I don’t like staying at your house. Last time I was there I was freaked out!” And the second boy says “Yeah it’s creaky. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there late at night playing video games and all of a sudden the door will open for no reason.
      We’re in a battle, folks. Please join us in prayer. If God is for us, who can be against us?

      We are on His side.

      The winning side. 

      Let’s not forget.


      Let me Hear your Voice

      I love how reading books takes you to places and experiences you could never ever go. Places where you wouldn’t neccessarily want to go even, but where you learn so much.
      Let me Hear your Voice is like that. I’m glad I didn’t have to live through that. I’m thankful I don’t have to walk in those shoes. But I am grateful for what I learned from their experience.

      It was the first book I had ever read about autism. I had of course heard of autism before but I didn’t know a whole lot about it. And I had certainly never realized how intensive and life-changing therapy is, nor had I realized that children truly can recover from autism.

      Now I know that therapy methods have changed over the years and autism is a controversial subject. I really don’t have opinions about that. I simply stand in admiration of the families as they stand with their children. I honor them for whichever way they choose to love thier children. 

      I enjoy the book for it’s historical value and it’s educational value. I don’t really have an opinion about it beyond that. It’s a good read. I learned a lot from it.

      I stand in awe of the mother in the story. she has more courage and bravery then most people I know. She had the strength and the foresight to do hard things in the present so that life could be good in the future. She saw beyond the now. It’s a rare talent that so few people possess. 

      I think that’s why I love it. I love the raw courage, the gritty strength, I love the feeling of victory at the end. 


      Experiencing the Experience

      Mom and dad just got back from a week in Haiti, My brother Bert and cousin Titus were there the week before that. We’ve been enjoying their stories and looking at pictures. It brings back a flood of memories of my trip to Haiti several years ago and the most epic experience in my life so far. 
      I’ve mentioned it before but now I think it’s time to tell the whole story. 

      It was one of the last days of our trip. Sujet had promises to take us to see one of his friends. Not knowing Sujet as well as we do now, we were a bit uncertain but being adventurous sort of folk (ok except for Matt and Josh) We got ready to go. 

      And then we waited.

      And waited.

      We had more or less given up since it was getting a bit late when Sujet appeared, ready to go.

      A friend of his came with a truck and we all piled on to the back. We flew through dusty streets at top speeds, horns honking and dust flying. Slowly we started climbing. The road got smaller and more narrow. We went from town to countryside. It became cooler as the sun sank lower and we climbed higher into the hills.

      And then abruptly our driver stopped. We looked around confusedly. The road had come to an end.

      Sujet bounded cheerfully out of the truck. We climbed uncertainty off the bank and looked around for the friends house but Sujet had already started off determinedly down the path. We followed. Down below us we could see a marsh with a boat filled canal through the center. We headed down. As we came closer, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The canal wasn’t deep. Nor was it terribly long but the boats…

      Looking back, I don’t think I’d be as surprised now but I had simply never thought of doing such a thing before. In fact, I had never imagined such a place before. 

      We simply did what Sujet told us to do. The boys stepped gingerly into one boat and Sharon, Mary, Sujet and I got into the next. The men took their huge poles and pushed us off. 

      There were too many of us and we were too heavy. Our pole man was a small shriveled up man who told us he’s been doing this all his life. Over 40 years if I remember correctly. Another younger man leaped from his boat to ours and helped to pole us across. 

      It was beautiful. The most beautiful part of Haiti I’ve seen. There were some kind of flowers blooming in the marsh and the sun was setting over the hills. It was silent except for the splashing of the poles and the occasional chatter of the men. 

      On the other side the path continued and we walked. And walked.  We came to a village. We walked through the village and kept going. The path went through a fort. We kept walking. It became dark. Still we walked.

      Finally we came to a small cluster of cottages. Sujet’s friend came out to meet us with a big smile, welcoming us to his home. He went to buy drinks for us and then set out the food. 

      I don’t know if I was just really hungry or if the food that evening really was spectacular. All I know is that we thoroughly enjoyed supper that evening. There were no plates, no silverware, but no one seemed to mind. We simply dug in. It was delicious. 

      I don’t remember much about the way home. I suspect I was pretty much asleep for most of it. I do remember the way the stars hung low in the sky. So close I imagined I could touch them. 

      I looked up in to those stars and I could see how much my God loves Haiti. He must love it a lot to be so close. To be so obvious. It’s easy to miss Him here sometimes, in the rush and the crazy and the loud. But there in the darkness and the silence, He was very near.

      If you’re ever on Haiti, find your spot of silence where the stars hang low. You’ll find yourself truly alive. Maybe for the first time.


      On Needing Reminders

      We used to have this dark green dish towel in our cupboard. It wasn’t overly nice. I’m not terribly fond of dark green. And then it had a little red strawberry appliqued onto the end with a little green vine growing off of it.
      I don’t know why but that green dish towel always made me think of my friend Emma. As far as I know she’s never had one like that or even kind of like that. Nor does she have a special liking for dark green. In fact I’ll venture to guess she doesn’t like dark green at all. 

      It became a sort of joke. I called it Emma’s towel and sometimes when I used it I would pray for her, thinking maybe God used it to bring her to mind. I told her about it once and she was a bit horrified, I think, that the ugly green dish towel was what made me think of her but I grew to be quite fond of that thing because it connected me to her.

      Things are only as important as how much they connect us to God or to his people. I believe God uses things as connectors and even softener as reminders for us to pray for those he brings to our minds.

      Sometimes I need to be intentional about that. Deliberately choose to let this remind me to pray for someone. I have one friend I pray for every time I shampoo my hair. I’m not sure why, but that’s a time when I always think of her and so I pray. I often use the time when I’m folding laundry to pray for my family. It makes sense to pray as I think of them.

      This got me started thinking. Maybe I should choose some more times to set apart to pray for things. Maybe the times when I’m driving alone would be good times to speak with Jesus about that struggling friend. Maybe when I can’t sleep in the evenings would be the time to pray for all my friends who don’t know Jesus. Maybe when I’m washing dishes I could be praying for my kids at the kids club.

      It’s not so much what I’m doing as it is being intentional about placing reminders. Maybe for you it works better to put a sticky note on your mirror or in your car. Maybe you don’t need reminders to remember to pray but we are all called to be prayer warriors. Pray without ceasing. And for most of us that takes some effort and some intentionality. 

      This was supposed to be about things, not about prayer but I guess you can see what God has been speaking to me about.

      Let us pray for each other.


      10 Things I’ve learned Lately 

      1. February is a long month. I probably shouldn’t start out with a discouraging things but that’s been my feeling lately. I know it’s literally the shortest month but every year I barely survive it.
      2. I like to paint. Not like paint houses but like pictures. I’m not very good at it and I think I’d like it more if I’d invest in some better paints and brushes but it’s kind of a cool hobby.
      3. If I don’t take B-12 vitamins I’m not a happy person. For years I had a problem with my hands and feet “going to sleep” the minute I sit down and hold still. It affected my sleep since I could only sleep on certain positions. I lived with it for years before I did a little research and found that B-12 was the answer. It’s a big deal in the winter. Big enough that I’ll make a special trip to Wal-Mart to buy it and I don’t know of really anything else I’ll do that for.
      4. Kids are amazing. They are so resilient and durable. Yes, I know that kids have life long affects from childhood things and yet I’m constantly amazed by how much they live through and still survive and smile and have fun with simple small things.
      5. I need to be learning something. I get bored with life when I’m not studying something. I don’t really have a criteria on what to learn about. It might be how atomic bombs are built  or it might be psychology or it might be the Montessori method. But it’s always something. I feel restless and unsettled between pursuits and can’t be comfortable until I find something new to study.
      6. It’s the little things that mean the most. Leon read my blog post about forgetting to get the cross in my car. He stopped to get it for me, and also gathered up all the rest of the things in there. On Valentine’s day, Larry stopped at school with a rose for each of the girls. We were delighted. 
      7. It’s good to have the family all back together again. It’s been a literal month since all of us are at home. It’s taken it’s toll on all of us. Texting conversations are great but they’re still not the same in the end.
      8. Sometimes I need an adult to talk to. I’m at school with kids all day. If Emily leaves right after school than we never really get a chance to talk (Since neither of us are really into talking in the mornings). Of course there are days when I spend my evenings with crews of kids too and I love  it, I really do. But occasionally there comes a day when I really feel like I need to have a conversation with someone who pushes me to think beyond kickball games and settling petty quarrels.
      9. Walking in the rain can be beautiful. I know I’ve written that before but please please try it! Especially if it’s one of those slow summer rains that drizzled down.
      10. There’s nothing quite like grace. Amazing Grace. If I could only recognize and hold on to the grace in each moment, the grace in each ordinary gift sent from heaven. If only I could. 

      What’s in a Name

      My name means graceful. That’s not why my parents chose it, I was named after my grandmother, but that is what it means. 
      When I was younger I imagined the time when I would grow into my name and be the graceful person I was meant to be.

       It hasn’t happened. 

      I was born awkward. All the pictures of me as a little girl show me with over sized feet and hair askew. I’ve learned some acting skills over the years but I still usually have the messy hair look and dribble food into my lap when I’m eating.

      So yeah. I don’t see graceful happening.

      My second plan is to be graceful as in full of grace. I wonder if, since I can’t be graceful, maybe I could live graceful.

      I’d like to.

      Somehow I have more hope of Jesus living grace in me than I have of ever becoming “graceful”.

      I’d like to learn grace. To be the person who extends grace, the person who lives grace.  To be the person who understands grace.

      If it can be understood at all.

      Which I doubt, but maybe it doesn’t need to be understood to be lived. Maybe just like in so many other things, all we really need is Jesus and an open heart.

      I have Jesus. I pray I have an open heart.

      Maybe someday I’ll really live my name after all.