Laughing over spilled Milk.

My family has a strange sense if humor. Most of the time when we tell our funniest stories, people don’t think they’re funny somehow. 

Like the story about the man who combed his hair with a green comb. Bert told the story every couple months for years and only our family saw the humor.

And then there was the time Sharon and I were on the way home from kingsport when we noticed the guy in the car beside us. He was truly just an ordinary guy in an ordinary car going about his ordinary life but somehow that struck us funny and we howled.

Or just last Sunday when another unsuspecting man gave us our humor for the day. Again he had done nothing to provoke the outburst of mirth. And yet the whole truck shook with our laughter.

There are a hundred good stories resting in our family lore. Someday I’ll write them all. Hopefully my descendents will have the same warped sense of humor and understand.

But then there’s the story of Saturday. I was not having a good day. It was actually a really bad day.  We had to get some school stuff in Middlesboro and since mom and dad were gone, we just all went. That is, everyone who is at home , which was bert, Sharon, katurah,Loren, and I. 

We discovered friends there too. When you meet friends on rainy Saturdays it means coffee sure enough.

We ordered our drinks quickly casting uncertain glances at the guy making our drinks decked out in striped shorts and on overall style apron which made a horrific combination. 

We settled into the back room of the coffee shop to watch the rain come down and wish our drinks had already come. We watched the striped short guy passing out drinks while saying things like “stwawbeerry baanonoa!” in a sing song voice. 

The room slowly filled up. Our drinks came eventually. Our friends had their little sister along too. We were probably a bit plenty loud. Also a bit overly rambunctious. And kara really DID want her sip cup. It was simply asking too much to ask her to drink chocolate milk from a regular plastic cup.

I honestly don’t know how it happened but all of a sudden that whole cup of chocolate milk was across the table, across the floor and dripping from everything. There was a mad scramble away from the table. Everyone grabbed their own drinks. Sharon went to find paper towels, Bert stacked the remaning cups on another table. Mr Rainbow striped shorts came rushing to help. “I’ll go get the moppa!” he sang.

We had all been edgy laughing already (because you know, there’s no use crying over spilled milk) but bert totally lost it now and the rest of us joined heartily. The people all around us looked uncertain and attempted to mind their own business.

We calmed down and cleaned up the milk. Our rainbow friend mopped the floor and we settled down to finish our drinks. We had just sat down when Katurah pulled her chair forward. It was caught on the table behind her. The table that bert had stacked the drinks on. 

You can guess what happened next. All of us girls shook with laughter. Our unknown friends in tables all around forgot themselves and laughed with us. Bert grabbed for cups and napkins and got down in the doorway to clean up the floor.

I looked up just in time to see Mr rainbow come around the corner with a tray of food. He stopped short and his eyes twinkled. He grinned. I’m pretty sure, in spite of everything, we were his favorite customers. 

If you ever meet a young man with blond hair and rainbow shorts who’s working at a coffee shop, ask him about that rainy Saturdays when a crew of Mennonite teenagers crashed his day.

I think you’ll grin just to see the smile that spreads across his face.


Puddle Jumping

Today was a beautiful glorious amazing day. If you closed your eyes you could imagine it to be spring. The first crocus was blooming in the flower bed. We played extra long at recess. We were having a good old fashioned dare base game and it was going beautifully. I had been running quite a bit but not a lot more than usual I don’t think. But finally it really was time to go in and get some science some yet. So we gathered on the porch for story time. When I opened my book to start reading I suddenly realized that my eyes aren’t focusing. I couldn’t see. I asked Emily if she’d mind reading but then Renita volunteered so we let her read the story. I expected my eyes to clear up soon but they didn’t. 

The older ones began to work on a science quiz and the younger ones were finishing up random assignments. I tried to help with what they were doing or answer questions but I couldn’t concentrate and my head was starting to hurt more and more and my stomach started aching. I started to realize that this isn’t just going to go away. I’m going to have to do something about it. 

I left. School wasn’t even dismissed. The kids were all there yet and I just went home. I suddenly got scared that pretty soon o wouldn’t be able to drive home anymore and I’d better get there before I feel any worse. As I started home my mouth started to feel numb and prickly, sort of like when your foot or arm falls asleep. 

By the time I got home I felt so terrible I went straight into the house, up the stairs, and collapsed on my bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to get under the covers or look for pain pills or anything. I just collapsed. 

A while later Sharon came by with ibuprofen and water and I took them and climbed under the covers. I think I dozed off several times but never really slept. My head just hurt too much. After the ibuprofen kicked in, Sharon and Bert held a consultation and decided I’d better go to the chiropractor at least so I did. Sharon took me in spite of not really having time to go before kids club. 

Well he said my neck was out and after the second try he got it back in place again. I’ll admit I felt quite a bit better pretty quickly but I still don’t feel right. Especially if I bend over it feels like there’s a lot of pressure in my head. 

I went or kids club tonight. I couldn’t quite miss it even if I wasn’t feeling the greatest. We had 22 kids. The most we’ve ever had. I hate taking the kids home afterwards. None of them want to leave and the little ones cry and I feel so sorry for them. So many of them go back to filthy dirty houses and parents who don’t have time for them.

I wish I could just keep all of them. Impossible I know, but still… 

We walk with them to their door and then say good bye. “Can we come again tomorrow? they ask.

“Not till next monday”

“No I want to come tomorrow!”

I’m sorry, child, so sorry that life isn’t fair.

My current stress reliever is puddle jumping. I hope that’s not too immature.

On Saturday when it again just rained and rained and rained and I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown or something I asked Loren if he wants to go running with me.

It was still raining but never mind that. We went down the road. There were puddles everywhere and I just couldn’t resist. I took a running leap into the middle of the puddle.

Loren looked amazed “Why did you do that?” he asked. 

I just grinned, thinking how horrified some of my proper Mennonite friends would be if they saw me now with my sopping wet dress splattered with mud, stringy hair and soggy shoes. 

I don’t care

 I think jumping in puddles is a good way to enjoy life. 

It’s the little things, after all.

Afraid of what?

When I was just a wee little thing, we were still part of the Amish church. That means we didn’t have a car. We did have a tractor though, and an old gray/blue trailer that had formerly been the bed of a pickup truck. Except for Sundays, when we hitched up our horse and buggy, this was our main mode of transportation. Dad would drove the tractor and mom and us kids piled onto the trailer with some blankets to keep us warm, and away we went. 
Now I have a good mom and she believes in reading stories to her children. She’s also a huge fan of Laura Ingalls. That means that we grew up with Laura and her little house in the big woods. We lived those stories in our imaginations, and felt very much like anything that happened in those stories could also happen to us. 

Now Grandpa’s lived not very far away and it was all small country roads. On one stretch of road there was a loooong hill and the road wound downhill through the forest. Many nights we would come home from grandpa’s after dark and I would huddle in my blankets and look up at the trees silhouetted against the sky, tense, waiting for the moment when the panther would jump down from those tree and land on our speeding trailer.

Of course there were no Panthers. Never had been any panthers in that area at all, but later my siblings all confessed to having the exact same fear of that exact same stretch of road. 

I’m not afraid of panthers anymore but I wonder sometimes, when I take an honest look at my fears today, if they look as irrational to God, as my fear of panthers looks to me now.

I don’t think I’m afraid of a lot of things. I hate to be high up but I don’t think I’m irrationally afraid of heights. I’m afraid that something will happen to someone in my family, (especially when dad does things like ride motos in Haiti) and sometimes I’m afraid of being lonely.

But I think my biggest fear is simply becoming a mediocre person. I am terrified of becoming satisfied  with my life. I fear living a “good enough” life, a “normal” life, a boring life.

I’m afraid I’ll stop having adventures. I’m afraid I’ll stop noticing the every day adventures. I’m afraid of becoming old and jaded and cynical. 

Surely I won’t.

But I’ve seen it happen to other people and it makes me afraid.

I’m not sure how it happens so I don’t know how to avoid it. The worst part is that people never seem to realize what happened and just accept that as an inevitable part of their lives.

I pray about it sometimes. Like I said before, I believe truly following Jesus is an adventure. So I think the solution is to simply follow Jesus. 

At least it’s the best one I’ve come up with. If you have any other solutions you can let me know.

The sad Demise of my poor little Car.

I said good bye to my car tonight. My dear little car was loaded onto a wrecker and hauled away to some lonely car graveyard who knows where.

At least that’s how it is in my imagination. I really don’t know where they took it. There’s a card in my wallet somewhere that says I think, but I’m not even sure where my wallet is right now.

It was a very normal Sunday afternoon. I got a lot accomplished. I finished painting a picture for Art class next week and printed a whole stack of things in preparation for the program. I loaded a bunch of stuff into the back of my car to return to people. Then I went and got ready to go to the singing tonight. I was waiting on Matt and Paul to leave and working on editing a story for Larry when Matt rushed in and was trying to make copies but the copier didn’t work so he was like “get in the car, we’re leaving”. We were already almost late, so I dashed out through the rain and slid into the passenger seat and Matt hopped into the back. Paul was driving.

It was raining, just like it has every day recently. Everything was normal. We came to the road to turn in to the church house. A snow plow was coming the other way, and we waited to turn. I started to ask “is it supposed to snow or what?” When there was a loud crash

“What was that?” I asked 

I turned to look at Matt who was brushing glass out if his hair.

“We just got read ended,” he said. 

I just said “oh”

That’s literally how it went. We just had a nice calm conversation. 

I stopped breathing for a minute as we headed straight for the snow plow but just in time Paul turned and we went into the ditch instead. 

The snow plow kept going. Paul hit the 4-ways and all three of us leaped out if the car. We ran back toward the truck that hit us but they didn’t get out or open the window or anything so we just stood there a bit uncertainly. None of us had ever been in an accident before and none of us had any idea what to do.

I noticed the bumper of my car laying in the middle of the road and ran out to pull it off. By that time another car had stopped. It was a nurse who talked to the people in the truck and made sure everyone was ok. By that time the family started to show up. Sharon and Dv had been walking into church and saw it happen. They got mom and dad and cam flying down. Leon and Lena showed up a minute later. It was still pouring rain and Lena helped me gather all the stuff in my car that was getting wet and load it into their vehicle. 

Leon was like, “just get in until it stops raining.” So we did. Probably 5 minutes later the rain stopped and we clambered back out. Joey had showed up at some point and was directing traffic. Dad and the nurse had both called 911. My poor car was still there in the ditch. Half on the road and half off. 

About this time I realized I wasn’t wearing my glasses so I went looking for them. They were laying in the floor if the car, apparently having flown off my face. The back of my seat was also broken from Matt slamming into it. My guess is he’ll be a bit sore tomorrow


People began to congregate in the normal southern way. It was dark and wet and chilly but there were at least 10 vehicles stopped and probably 30 people standing around in groups. We waited for at least 30 minutes before the police showed up. It took another hour or so before they were done with all the paper work and had my car loaded up on the wrecker. By this time the singing was long over and groups of church people were showing up to stand with us. I didn’t cry when it happened but as I stood and watched them load up the car, I wanted to cry. My car had been a good friend. We’ve made a lot of good memories together and had many adventures. 

I didn’t cry though. There were too many people around and I don’t like sympathy. They sympathized anyhow. Sharon knows me too well and asked me if I’m feeling sad. So I had to admit that I was. I looked for the sticker I had on the back window thinking I could maybe salvage that but I didn’t find it. 

I also forgot to get the little cross that hangs in the front of my car. I wish I wouldn’t have. I don’t want to go get it because I’m pretty sure if I did see my car again now I would cry.

But anyhow. I’m at home in my bed. My back feels a little weird and my neck hurts. Matt and Paul are sore but safe. We have so much to be thankful for. 

I feel a bit adrift and a bit lonely. Like I just lost another friend. But also a bit unsettled like maybe it wasn’t very nice of me to let that happen to my car

 The poor thing.

The situation called for some tea and toast. I needed something to help me relax.😁

I have a headache.

Rain and Hope

It’s rained an awful lot lately. The yard squishes when I walk across it.The creek across the road is swollen to overflowing. There are flood warnings. 

My life seems a but rainy lately as well. Muddy and mushy, wet and dreary. Gray skies. 

But tonight I walked out in the dark and the wet and I thought This much rain must bring an awful lot of flowers. This much water must bring forth much new life 

I pray it’s the same in my life. That out of  days of rain would grow something beautiful.

25 Books Every Girl Should Read.

This was going to be 50 books. That was the goal I started with. But 50 books EVERY girls should read? I could come up with a thousand books that some girls should read. But the truth is that there are some girls who shouldn’t read some books so my list was cut back to 25.

  1. Stepping Heavenward   This book is my most recommended book. It’s a story all girls can identify with. I’m not a big fan of diary style books but Elizabeth Prentiss pulls this off masterfully and we become Katherine.
  2. From Anna  Set in Germany at the beginning of World War II, but from the perspective of a little girl who already feels as though she’s not good enough. This book makes me cry every time I read it and I’ve read it probably a dozen times. You will come away with a greater sympathy for children and a realization of how easily they can be misunderstood.
  3. Shepherd of the Hills. I can’t speak highly enough of this book. My sister read it several times and she never reads books more than once. I don’t think you’ll find a better picture of true femininity anywhere than what we find in Sammy Lane. Nor will you find a better representation of manhood than what we see in young Matt.
  4. Shelter me Safe. This book is unique in it’s honesty. I don’t know if it’s a true story or not but I was impressed by the family life in this story. Before I was a Christian I identified strongly with Ruth and I believe God used this story to push me a little closer to Him.
  5.  One Day of Beauty  I’m sorry if you don’t like Pathway books but this one is a winner. I feel like very few books give an honest picture of what the average woman’s life is like but this one scores. 
  6. Language of my heart This is another diary style book published by Pathway. It is a true story and one that I think all girls can identify with

  7. Little women This classic has stood the test of time. Not only is the story fun and interesting but we also learn a lot from No, Beth, Amy, and Meg and of course there is also Laurie, the neighbor boy.
  8. The Lost Art of True Beauty Of all of Leslie Ludy’ s books this is my favorite and also probably the only one I would say EVERY girl should read. I’ve read nearly all of her books and esteem them highly but, as an Anabaptist, I feel like her books were written for a different audience than my culture represents
  9. Pride and Prejudice This comes close to being my favorite book. I read it every now and then just for amusement. When my sister started dating recently I read it again just so I could quote things like this to her “I give you leave to like him, you’ve liked many a stupider person.” I applaud Elizabeth Bennet for quite possibly being the most sarcastic person in classic literature.
  10. Their Yesterdays This is another one by Harold Bell Wright. Please Excuse me, he really is my favorite author. I have learned more from this book than from any single other book I’ve read. Written in a very unique style that I was certain about at first but the storyline won me over soon enough.
  11. The Endless Steppe This is the story of young Ruth, a Jewish girl who was exiled to Siberia during World War II. She’d been raised in a prominent family and the indignity of the life of a political prisoner in exile becomes very real as you read this story.
  12. Unspoken Love Christmas Carol Kuaffman is probably the most famous Mennonite author in recent history. Her stories are always action packed and fascinating. Based on a true story of a young man who left his home and his faith to fight in the war and of the girl who loved him.
  13. Hind’s feet in High Places An allegory of the Christian life that is at times hard to follow and yet somehow in the end makes so much sense that you want to hug it.
  14. Hearts of Fire If you think persecution is a thing of the past, read this. After reading the stories of the eight women in this book, I am ashamed of my life and of how little I have done for the Jesus who has done so much for me.
  15. Anne of Green Gables This is just plain a good story. Anne is full of fun and imagination and just enough trouble to keep her real. 
  16. Girl of the Limberlost This book is so old fashioned and unique it’s like stepping into a whole other era just to read it. Seriously, a girl who pays her own way through school by selling collections of butterflies?
  17. Caddie Woodlawn Caddie reminds me so much of myself as a child. Reading this let’s me relive my childhood for a couple hours.
  18. Rosanna of the Amish Even though I was born into an Amish family and both my parents grew up Amish, there was a lot in this book I didn’t know. Amish culture aside, this book is a fascinating read in it’s own right.
  19. Unplanned I don’t like to identify as anti anything. I prefer to be known as pro-life. This book makes me cry and gives me hope that as pro-life people we can unite in love and hope instead of resorting to hate and anger.
  20. In His Steps This book is a must read for any follower of Jesus, in my opinion. It makes you stop and think about what it means to be a Christian and to live like Jesus
  21. Why I Jumped Mental illness is so misunderstood. Reading honest stories like this one will help our while culture learn better ways of coping and better ways of helping.
  22. A Life that says Welcome Hospitality is a subject close to my heart. This book is the best.
  23. No Crying He Makes This book is so strange and weird and fascinating. It is also very real and honest. A true story by a foster mom.
  24. One Thousand Gifts  Life too easily turns mediocre for us all. Ann calls us to be intentional about noticing the gifts in the every day ordinary things around us.
  25. The Mystifying Twins Im truly not sure why I added this to the list. Mostly I think because when I was in my early teens I absolutely loved it and because just recently another young girl told me about how she loves it.

    Are there books you think should have been on this list? I know I haven’t read all the books out there and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    I tried to keep it with stories for the most part but I did add The Lost Art of True Beauty  and   A life that says Welcome  because I feel like they have a very important message. I feel like any girl who has read all the books on this list is well on the way to a full life with a broad world view and a realization that all girls, the world around and throughout history are still girls. We are shapes by our cultures, it is true but we were created to be true women. 

    Blogging and Bible School

    Meg  and I are known for a lot of things. Thinking ahead probably isn’t one of them.  In our justification, we started the blogging challenge when she had been turned down from Bible School. But then she got in after all. And as bible school came closer, she realized that there’s no way she can blog and be at Bible School at the same time. 

    If you’ve been to bible school you’ll understand.

    That doesn’t neccessarily mean I won’t be blogging for the next ten days, but it does mean that the blogging challenge is on hold until she gets back.

    Which is kind of a bummer but kind of nice too, as I have a bunch of things I should be catching up on. School stuff. Kids club stuff. And umm, cleaning my room. I cleaned my closet the other day and threw a heap of stuff out onto my bedroom floor. It’s still there. So yeah, I should probably do something about that.

    I’m also halfway through Emily of New Moon. I’m not sure how I managed to get this far in life without reading it but I’m glad I did, really. I’m enjoying it now.

    Oh, The Places You’ll Go

    If you know of one of those jobs, where you get to travel from country to country and are sometimes stuck in one country or another for several weeks at a time for whatever reason, please let me know. I’d like to apply.

    It’s almost seven years ago now that my dad loaded up his nine children and twenty suitcases and headed for the Nashville airport. It was the first time flying for all of us except him and the first time out of the country for all of us kids. Thanks to air miles and some scrimping and saving, we were headed for Nicaragua.

    In spite of the flier miles, from a financial point of view, it was not one of his better decisions. He had to shut down his business for 2 weeks in order to make that trip. You can’t exactly take a family of eleven on an international trip cheaply.

    But those 2 weeks changed the course of our lives, I believe, by simply broadening our minds. We loved it. We went to Waslala and Selva Negra. We spent the night at Omatepe Island and an afternoon at the beach. We ate piles of mangoes and loved the whole fried fish. We were amazed by the beauty and horrified by the poverty.

    It was our introduction to international travel. We have never been the same.

    We have been infected by wanderlust.

    When I was 15 and at that awkward age between school and youth group, My aunt was planning to visit Haiti. I distinctly remember, one day as I was washing dishes, saying casually to mom “I should go with her”. I didn’t have the slightest hope of actually getting to go. I really wasn’t serious. But mom simply said, “Well maybe you could”. 

    Several months later I was in the airport again. This time by myself. I met the rest of the group in Miami and we had a lovely week in Haiti. Haiti is a step beyond Nicaragua in just plain poverty and I went a step farther in my understanding of the ways of the world.

    I’ve been hooked ever since. If I have a chance to go somewhere and I can afford it (read: there’s enough money in my savings account to pay the ticket, or I manage to borrow the money from one of my numerous brothers) I go. I’ll say that travel is one place that I probably spend my money a bit recklessly. I can always make more. 

    If there’s a chance to teach bible school in Belize, here I am. My awesome friend is working at a kids home in El Salvador? Please let me go. Twice. 2 years ago I got to go to Haiti again. This time with 3 of my siblings and a cousin. 

    That’s not even very many places. I’ve still never been to Europe, or Asia, or Africa, or Australia, or South America. I don’t think I’ll attempt Antartica. That’s going a little far even for me. But I’d really like to see the dikes in Holland. I’d want to see the “Redeemer” in Brazil, Sydney harbour in Astralia and Tiananmen square in China. 

    So yeah, I’m keeping an eye open for that job. Do people really get paid to travel or is that just an urban myth? Because I haven’t had any job offers like that, and neither has anyone I know. But you can always hope.

    Of Bread and Biscuits

    Rarely, rarely is a movie better than the book, very rare indeed. It is even rare that there is a single scene better than the book. Not that I watch a lot of movies, but I have seen a few in my day and most of them fell flat compared to the book.

    But there is one scene in Christy that my friends and I have quoted, ever since we watched it that night in El Salvador.  It’s the night of the big storm  (which is all wrong by the way, you should read the book) and Ruby Mae comes up to Christy and says “Could you please make us some biscuits, ma’am ? I think we wouldn’t be so afeared iffen we just had some biscuits”

    At the time we nearly split, laughing, and it’s become our personal motto for stressful situations – “Please ma’am, could I have a biscuit?” We say. And it’s code for “I need some moral support right now.”

    Which, come to think of it, I shouldn’t be telling you.

    It’s an interesting psychology study. Why do we turn to food for comfort? Why does it make us feel better to eat a biscuit? Because it absolutely does, at least for a little.

    I can always tell when my oldest brother, Larry has some extra stress in his life because when he walks in the door, he heads straight for the cupboard in the corner where the peanut butter resides. Sharon, on the other hand, keeps a personal stash of brownies in some unknown part of the freezer where they’re always available for emergencies. I don’t know how she does it. You’d think someone would find them but no, it’s just her, there in the corner all of a sudden, eating her brownie.

    But for me it’s absolutely biscuits. Biscuits and bread. Toast to be exact. I love, love,love a good piece of toast with honey and a cup of tea. At night. Right before I go to bed.

    I know, I know, no wonder I’m such a plump old maid.

    I promise I don’t do it very often but every now and then it’s nine o’clock and time for a piece of toast.

    It’s the moments, after all, that make up our lives and some moments are meant to be savoured. It’s easier when you have a biscuit

    My Collection 

    Collect experiences not things. I had an argument with a certain friend about this awhile back. “You can’t do anything with experiences,” he argued. “They’re over and then that’s it.” 
    “What can you do with your things?” I asked, “at the end of your life, what good will they have done you?”

    I insist. Experiences are more valuable. Our family has a phrase that we use to describe those times when we realize we are in the midst of an adventure. “This is experiencing the experience” we say, and we are so happy our faces hurt from smiling. 

    Out discussion went on and he said “Well, if that’s how you’re going to think, why don’t you go experience being homeless?”

    I said, “Have you read Under the Overpass?”

    I loaned him the book. I haven’t heard anything since.

    Some people collect rocks, some people collect mugs, and some people collect ugly Christmas sweaters. I like to think I collect experiences.

    And books.  If you walked into my room right now you would see that my bookcase is overflowing, there’s a stack of books on my desk, another on my nightstand. Plus a rack of books on my dresser and a shelf full above my bed.

    And I hate to admit this but there’s a package of books that should come tomorrow.

    But I’m not really sorry.

    One can’t possibly personally experience every experience. There’s no way I can literally sail the cape of good hope with Nathaniel Bowditch. There’s no way I can teach 80 kids in a one room schoolhouse in the tennesee mountains. There’s no way I can ride a covered wagon across the empty prairie for days or be one of the throng of immigrants on Ellis Island.

    But thanks to books I can feel like I’ve experienced those things.

    Nor will I ever be the child who is beaten randomly for trivial things, or the child that is passed from foster home to foster home, or the child who can’t see properly but no one realizes that so they think she’s just dumb. 

    But thanks to books I can imagine what it would be like to be them.

    I feel a deep compassion for people who claim they don’t like to read. Their life must be so narrow and sad. Actually I pretty much refuse to believe that people truly don’t like to read. They simply haven’t read the right books yet.