Of Ambitions And Reality

Who’s wadded up over their New Year’s goals? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not.

For years I never got a bang out of setting goals or making resolutions. The reason? Simply because I despise a broken track record. I like perfection; whatever the goal, I don’t want it messed up. Not one day missed or forgotten. No exceptions. When I mess up I get a mental black mark. I hate black marks.

So pessimistic me (I’d like to say practical me) predicts I’ll mess up months before another year ends. My goal is to save stress; don’t set New Year’s goals.

I have changed in this area to a certain extent. I acknowledge it’s a perfect time to analyze one’s life. Especially our spiritual life. Asking ourselves questions such as, “Am I growing stronger in my trust in God? Are there relationships I should be doing more to build up? Am I taking time to teach my children about God? What can I do to enhance our marriage?”

And it’s perfectly good and well to set some goals for the year ahead, be it physical or spiritual. If it pleases you, go right ahead and spell out your plans. Or, as some like to do, figure out your word for the year.

Diet and exercise plans are great ambitions for many. Putting organization dreams into action is a noteworthy goal. Limiting/disciplining ourselves on social media use is a very wise goal as well. Overall I lean more towards evaluating my spiritual life and looking at ways to grow. Yet at the same time, I don’t like to have such mountainous ambitions that it feels kin to impossible.

It’s also good to reflect on our past year, if we can reflect in a positive way. Don’t commiserate on how rough you’ve had it- it’s easier to do that but it’s not edifying. Focus on God’s faithfulness in supplying daily grace. When we felt we couldn’t take another step, God provided. When we prayed long and hard, God eventually answered. He gave us wisdom for that hard decision. Quietly, faithfully, He whispers grace upon our days. Reflect on that and know He will be there next year too.

The last number of years I’ve endeavored very small goals. About 4 years ago I aspired to memorize a small portion of scripture each month. The last 2 months of that year I spent refreshing myself on the earlier passages. (So I didn’t attain my goal 100% but at least I tried!) Since that year, some of those passages have become extra special to me.

This last year I went even smaller and tried one verse a week. For easy memorization, I posted it at my kitchen sink. Here again, I attained about 85 to 90% of the time. Maybe the mark is gray instead of black.

On this next year, I’m still swirling ideas. I’m late with the program I know; the New Year is already upon us! But December was just flat out hectic for me so I haven’t wrote up anything. Just thoughts to discuss with myself or my husband. I’m planning to do some of both. Perhaps next year I can fill you in on my goals. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t!

Most importantly, let’s be committed to stay strong in the Lord. Small, daily choices and duties make up our lives. It’s quite unlikely I’ll make groundbreaking headlines in the news this year. Can I be quietly steadfast in the mundane?

Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

In a small saucepan, throw in 4 or 5 cinnamon sticks and those orange peelings from your breakfast citrus. Fill with water, and simmer on your stove all day. The aroma will fill your house with a spicy, cozy scent as you welcome the Year ahead!

Cinnamon Rolls And Coughy

Yes you read right. Coffee??? Is my spelling that bad? No. No? We’re not talking about coffee! I’ll explain in a moment; just hang on while I finish my mocha- I don’t drink coffee!

The sunshine spilling through the windshield, a white chocolate mocha in my hand and a quiet drive without my offspring interprets a rare day. I’ve taken the opportunity to type in silence while my husband drives. We’re headed to Kansas City for an appointment and a bit of shopping. We have a 2.5 hour drive one way, so that gives me plenty time to ramble.

This week I’m consumed with baking cinnamon rolls. There’s a Big Iron sales representative that asked me to bake approximately 120 8×8 pans of cinnamon rolls to give his customers for Christmas. I have a “from scratch” recipe that uses unique ingredients such as potato flakes, instant vanilla pudding and milk, resulting in a soft, scrumptious roll! This recipe is tops! One massive batch makes 23 pans. I made one batch yesterday and hope to make 2 batches tomorrow. It’s a mountainous undertaking to mix, roll, slice, bake and frost nearly 50 pans in a day’s time. In about a week’s time I’ll need to make six batches, so if I don’t get much else done, you know why. And you can also guess why it’s taking me so long to get this post ready- I’m now way past last Tuesday when I started it!

This was the last day’s double batch…. Josie loved helping!

I might add that this Big Iron Rep seems to like me and went with me shopping for cinnamon roll groceries. He also hung out with me now and then lending a hand where he could, plus I joined him one day when he delivered rolls to customers. Ain’t that romantic?! I do all this to support his business, because supporting a husband’s business is part of being a wife.

As much as I enjoy making cinnamon rolls, I was thrilled to finish up those last two batches, get my floor cleaned, and the kitchen in its usual order! I’m still basking in the feeling of satisfaction both of a job completed and my orderly kitchen.

What Jerald’s truck looks like when he delivers cinnamon rolls
Jerald in business

This farmer, Kevin Compton, that’s shaking hands with Jerald is retiring and selling all his equipment with BigIron. Some weeks ago when Jerald was listing his equipment he noticed an old runner sled in one of his sheds. Jerald knew I was wanting one so he asked Kevin if he would sell it. Kevin wasn’t sure as he had bought it around 1980 for his children and he wanted to check first with them if they wanted it. And can you believe it they did not?! So on the day I rode with Jerald, I met Kevin and he wanted to give me that sled! I was pleased as punch!! I’ve always thought an old sled would be perfect for porch decor but the price? Not so perfect. And now I’m simply given one!! That very evening I washed it up, trimmed the trees, gathered sticks and…. oh joy! I love it! Fresh cut greens are simply perfect for making large outdoor bouquets. I fixed three of them before I said “enough”. Tuck in some broken branches, a few pine cones and you have pretty decor that didn’t cost a penny. I rebuked myself for not garnishing my porch with greens weeks ago. Simple but beautiful! Especially with a free sled!!

Ok back to the coughy. Has your family been coughing this winter yet? These days any bug that flies is more than a potato bug. According to the news, it seems any kind of bug must be some sort of strain akin to Mr. Corona. I’m just sayin’ but I’m not sayin’ if I agree or not! 😝

I feel blessed that my children have been in good health! Reece and Josie both had a cough season maybe two months ago but have been doing good. I praise God for that! But currently the stomach flu is sailing to and fro in our community. My children haven’t got it but I’m holding my breath. I’m dosing them up aplenty but still. Watch them get sick the moment I post. Just because, well, you know what I just said.

I’ve known for years that red raspberry leaf tea is beneficial for flu, hormones, pregnancy or general immune boosting. I drank this tea in both of my pregnancies. But it was only this Fall that I realized just how good it truly is for coughy spells!

After hearing a testimony of how it calms down a cough, I decided I must try it out. I had plenty on hand anyway. I was amazed at the results! Josie had been hacking around and sounding rather croupy one evening. I had her drink some at supper and then had more by her bed overnight. And what do ya know! She didn’t cough the whole night! I know it sounds like a windy tale but it’s not windy! It’s calming!

My in laws visited us in November. He seemingly has this perpetual cough. I promptly offered him a glass full of this tea I had in the fridge. And what do ya know! He barely coughed the rest of the evening! The remaining time they were at our house he drank a glass full whenever he got a spell. It’s not a joke or a hoax; it calms those croaks!

Reece drinks the tea too and I was amazed at how it even seemed to help loosen up the cough as well! Since then it’s one of my go to’s at the onset of any coughy situation! This tea and good old smelly garlic salve rubbed on the chest and feet through out the day often does wonders!

Reece drinking his tea 😍

Garlic salve is another subject to which some are strongly sensitive. I’m not here to argue. I know it stinks. I mean, who wouldn’t know that?! But this is my philosophy: Garlic salve works. It works amazing. If it keeps me and my children from getting very sick, sparing a trip to the Dr or perhaps out of the hospital, then I mean, get over the smell!! What is smell compared to that?! The hospital stinks too by the way.

All that said, I am not here to make anyone feel bad if your child has needed the hospital for croup or RSV or the like!! You’re the parent and must do what you think is best. If you feel your needing the ER, or a Dr appointment, then by all means go! Sometimes in spite of our best efforts at home remedies, professional help is needed.

Steeping my red raspberry brew

The tea I make is a mix of red raspberry, nettles and alfalfa. It’s called pregnancy tea but I call it red raspberry brew. Certain individuals may hoot about drinking pregnancy tea! But the scoop is, is that it’s for heaps more than pregnancy so just call it brew. Or a tea mix. I think if your drinking tea anyway why not drink a mix of teas/herbs and get added benefits?! Both nettles and alfalfa are rich in nutrients, besides the pop of nutrition in the raspberry leaves.

Here is how I make my red raspberry brew for that coughy spell!

Boil 1 quart water. Remove from heat and add 1/3 cup tea mix. Let it steep for 25-30 minutes or more. It’s not picky on time. Strain the tea and sweeten with stevia or honey. I just add stevia till it tastes good. I like a mix of the END stevia and Now stevia glycerite. Then I add a Tablespoon of baobab powder for extra vitamin C which is optional. It has a bit of a fruity twang which gives the tea a good flavor! Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants. I stir it in when it’s warm so it dissolves better. Then add in a slice or two of fresh lemon and ice cubes to chill. Or you can drink it warm if you prefer but we drink ours cold and keep it refrigerated after making it.

I love my tea strainer that fits perfectly on a glass or jar for efficiency in tea straining!

This tea would be great to drink anytime just as an immune booster. Even for stomach flu or whatever ails you. I don’t think it would hurt anyone! But for sure, make it for your family who’s got a coughy spell!! And drink a glassful or more a day. Not just a sip or two because that won’t do.

My beloved red raspberry brew ready for drinking!

The most affordable place I have found to purchase raspberry tea leaves is Ann’s Naturals. You can contact her at (270)-524-4680 and be sure to ask for a catalog. She has the best prices I’ve found! She offers the straight raspberry or you can get the Pregnancy Mix which has alfalfa and nettles added; this is the mix I usually get. You can get 1 pound of this mix for only $9! I love Ann’s other products too and buy most of my herbal tinctures from her. She also carries the garlic salve I love and has lots of options for children’s tinctures. You can buy this tea elsewhere too. Most herb/health catalogs or health food stores would carry it.

So there you have it! Slather on the garlic and drink the tea. My sophisticated and unsolicited advice.

Autumn Meditations

Brilliant in splendor!- Leaves clutter the ground,

Morning’s crisp chill creeps in around.

Harvested fields are looking forlorn-

Acres now emptied of beans and corn.

Ominous clouds; then bursts of sunlight-

Make dancing shadows a simple delight.

We snuggle inside- all cozy together

No worrisome thoughts of frosty weather.

There’s slower days and creamy lattes,

Blue, blue skies and fresh pumpkin pies.

Chilling hayrides and warming firesides.

A season of sweetness and sadness I find-

A season of sweetness and sadness combined….

There’s many in hunger, starving unfed –

Who am I that I’m given bread?

There’s many alone, in worrisome fear

Who am I- gifted with loved ones near?

There’s many poor souls yet searching and lost

Unknown or untouched by Christ’s work on the Cross.

And who am I to know Him as my Savior?!

Abundance of gifts!!- My heart brims with gladness

But for those not blessed as I, there’s achings of sadness.

-Violet Rhodes

Hayride last evening with our church youth
Finishing up the evening with hot drinks, pumpkin roll, and pumpkin pie around the fire.

Backyard Addition!

We have a new addition in our backyard- a grain bin gazebo! Some years ago when my husband suggested it, I was skeptical. I thought we had plenty in our backyard already without placing yet another object back there! But this has turned out really pretty and we are looking forward to using it for many parties to come! In this post Jerald details the construction of this, so if you’re interested in erecting one, read on!

They’re everywhere. Grain bins that is. At least here in Nebraska. You’re bound to see one on every farmstead. They’re part of the landscape. An integral part of agriculture. And over the decades there they have stood on the Great Plains marking each homestead. They each have a story to tell. Of the bountiful years with their timely rains causing the farmer to work late at night in the light of the Harvest Moon to bring in the copious amounts of grain before the first skiffs of snow feather the landscape. And of the paltry years where the corn was flattened by derechos and the beans were consumed by the locusts for a mid-day snack and the sorghum was stripped by the hail in a mere 60 seconds. There they’ve stood braving the strong thunderstorms and the occasional tornado, providing a safe haven for the trillions of harvested kernels. But alas with time they become weathered and worn and by and by they are replaced with a new shiny bin that is larger to accommodate the growing farmstead. Left alone in the corner of the farm yard they become mere icons of the days gone by and eventually are surrounded with trees or find a new home in the local scrap yard. Except for the few who are fortunate enough to be repurposed!

I’ve dreamed of having a grain bin gazebo for a long time. This fall it finally became a reality! So I decided to document the process and hopefully inspire someone else to save a relic from the past.

The first step of course would be to locate a bin. While there are scores of them around I had some criteria to meet. Most older bins are repainted with an aluminum looking paint. While this extends the life of the bin it causes it to lose it’s original look. I wanted a bin that was original and so that knocked out a lot bins. However when you do find an original bin they can often be totally rusted out. So that narrows the list even more. And then you have to find someone who is willing to part with theirs. Often if they are in good shape they are still in use but with the size of the average farm increasing the smaller bins will be easier to acquire as they become inconvenient to use. Bins come in a variety of sizes and the diameters are generally in increments of 3′. The smallest bins are 12′ and go up in size from there- 15′, 18′, 21′, 24′ and so on. The size of bin you need will vary based on the available space in your yard and the size of crowd you want to accommodate. I had decided to go with an 18′ and this has proved to be a good choice for us. An 18′ bin has a circumference of 56′. We have discovered this will comfortably seat around 15 people around the perimeter of the bin. A 15′ bin will have a circumference of 47′ and a 21′ bin will have a circumference of 66′. Suit yourself.

So after looking for several years for the perfect bin I was able to locate one that met all my criteria and was about 35 miles from us. The best part of it was that it was free! You can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$1,000 for a bin so I was thrilled to be able to get this one at no cost. I noticed the bin earlier this summer on one of my clients farms. After inquiring he told me it was coming down this fall and that if I would agree to have it completely removed by this winter I could have it for the taking!

The bin that I was able to get for the taking.

Now that I knew I could get a bin I started prepping for it in our backyard. We already have one nice structure back there, Violet’s Cabin, and we decided to erect it right beside the cabin. You will need to decide what type of base/floor you will want for you gazebo. Some options are sod, gravel, concrete, or pavers. I went with the concrete option as I wanted a nice level place that would be easy to keep clean. Pavers would have worked too but would’ve been more time consuming and would’ve cost more. So after figuring out the location I drove a stake in the center and then pulled from there in all directions to create a nice circle. I put a stake about every 3-4′ around the perimeter and then used 4″ steel forms to create a nice circle. I made the pad a 19′ circle which gives 6″ extra all the way around. If I would do it over I would make it a tad bigger as the way it’s setting right now the roof drip hits just outside the pad. And of course this could vary with the bin you get depending on how much overhang the roof has. We put a light broom finish on the concrete. Other options would be to use colored concrete and stamp it but this will increase the cost of project.

Formed for concrete with 4” steel forms that were about an 1/8” thick.
Freshly poured

After pouring the concrete I then mounted my posts. I chose 5X5 (true 5X5) Eastern Red Cedar as my posts and was able to source them from native trees here in Nebraska. I have seen some designs that use 6X6 posts and that gives a nice look as well however that comes with an increased cost. I do not recommend going with anything smaller than 5X5. A smaller post is probably fine structurally as a bin is not that heavy but it doesn’t provide the aesthetics that a 5X5 or 6X6 would give. Another option would be to use steel posts but I think the cedar gives a nice accent.

Next you will want to determine how many posts you would like to have. As I already mentioned a bin is not that heavy however they are a bit flimsy so you don’t want to have to big of a span between your posts. I decided on 6 posts which gives a span of just over 9′ between each post (on an 18′ bin). This worked but if I would do it over I would probably go with 7 posts which would give a span of 8′. One thing I did that makes placement of the posts easier was to cut the concrete according to the number of posts I was going to use. So since I was going with 6 posts we wanted to have 6 cuts from the center to the perimeter. After the pad was poured we pulled a tape around the perimeter and divided the measurement by six and marked each of the six points. With six points around a circle every third one will match with the point on the opposite side. We then chalked 3 lines across the pad which resulted in all three lines crossing exactly in the center providing a center point. This will work with an even number of posts but if you go with an odd number of posts you will first have to find the center and then chalk lines from there out to the perimeter.

The three cuts provided a center point.

I purchased the cedar posts from Sunshine Cedar Co., a family owned business located here in Nebraska. I wanted to have one ring around the gazebo with about 90″ of headroom under that. Each ring will measure about 34″ so this required 10′ posts. The post were rough cut so after getting them home I sanded them with 60 grit sandpaper. This did a nice job of removing the roughness and splinters but still gave somewhat of an authentic look. I then gave them 2 coats of Cabot Clear Exterior Weather Protector. I was hoping this would retain some of the pink/purple strands in the wood but they did fade after several days of sunlight. However this did give it just a bit of sheen. And of course with cedar you could always leave it alone as it is naturally resistant to rot.

There are several ways to fasten your posts down. If you go with a gravel pad or with pavers you could just get longer posts and put them in the ground. And you could also do this with a concrete pad but then you would have to pour around the posts creating a little more work when finishing the concrete. I chose to go with mounting brackets on top of the pad. I wanted a nice clean look so I went with brackets that use a hidden fastener system. One thing I discovered after having my posts ordered was that it’s hard to locate a bracket that’s designed for true 5X5’s. I finally sourced some from Menards but they had to be special ordered and they didn’t have any photo’s of them so I took a shot in the dark and ordered them. They turned out to be a bit flimsier than I anticipated which resulted in some movement within the bracket. Going with an exposed fastener bracket with the feet out on all sides of the posts would’ve provided a stronger mount but then you have to contend with bolt heads sticking up that someone might trip over. That being said I would probably consider this type of bracket if I were to do it again as I feel it would give a stronger mounting point.

The brackets I used.

Determining where to mount the posts was very easy. Enter the cut concrete. I put a pin in the center of the pad where the cuts crossed and then pulled from there on each cut. You will need to measure the interior of your bin to determine where to mount the posts. The bin I was getting was exactly 18′ on the interior. I wanted to make sure it would slide easily down over the post so I positioned my posts a 1/2″ under. This proved to be a perfect match for the bin.

Fastening the posts fully to the brackets allowed them to stand on their own but I wanted to tie them all together. So I put a center mark on the inside of each post down at the floor. I then measured from center to center between each posts and cut a 2X4 that length to mount on the top of the post. The 2X4’s needed to be cut on an angle. To determine the angle I simply divided the circle (360 degrees) by six which results in 60 degrees. Subtract that from 90 degrees and you come up with 30 degrees which is what I cut on the 2X4’s. (The measurement at the bottom inside of the posts that you use will be the short of the 30 degree angle that you put on each end of the 2X4.) I also put a 2X4 across the pad at the top tying each post together that sit opposite of each other. I cut these a 1/2″ under 18′ to match the bottom. I had put all the perimeter 2X4’s up first and then the cross pieces. Since the post were rough cut they weren’t all exactly 5X5 so a few of the angle cuts had to be revisited and shortened. Next time I would probably put up the 3 cross pieces since they are what determine the circumference of your bin and then put in the perimeter 2X4’s. After I had all the posts tied together I leveled the entire structure and put in some braces to hold it in place until the bin was mounted.

All braced and ready for the bin.

The next step was to formulate a removal plan for the bin. There are 2 ways to move a bin. You can completely disassemble it which requires a set of bin jacks. The bin jacks allow you to lift up the entire bin and to remove each panel starting from the bottom and working your way up to the roof. The entire bin can be lowered after each round is removed so you’ll always be working down on the ground. Another method is to use a crane or telehandler and lift up the bin and move it in one piece. This is the method I chose to use. Depending where you live an 18′ bin may not be feasible to move down the road. Around here the roads are fairly wide and traffic is minimal. The bin was located 35 miles from our place and we were able to travel all back roads except for about 2 miles where we had to use the highway. I think we met a total of 3 vehicles in the 35 miles so it was a pretty low stress move.

I was able to solicit some help from Bender Farms (Merlyn and Tyler) who are church friends to help with moving the bin. They had moved various bins in the past so their help was invaluable. They had a lowboy trailer that was 9′ wide that we decided to use to haul the bin. While I only wanted one ring on the bin for the finished product we decided to retain 2 rings on the bin for moving to help keep it more stable. I was able to locate a crane service that was based 5 miles from the bin site to lift the bin and set it on the trailer. To prepare for the lift we had to remove the door of the bin and then removed a majority of the bolts between the 2nd and 3rd ring. We then took a tire mounted on a rim that was similar in size to the roof hole at the top. We put a strap through the center of the rim and wrapped it around a 2″ pipe that ran parallel with the tire. The crane lowered his cable through the roof hole and we attached it to the strap going through the tire. He then lifted the tire up to the hole and put just a bit of pressure on it and held it there. We quickly removed the remaining bolts between the 2nd and 3rd rings. The upper section of the bin that we wanted was now loose and was swung over onto the trailer. We then chained the bin at the 4 points where the perimeter of the bin met the edge of the trailer and we were ready to roll! As was required in the deal we had to dismantle the remaining 2 rings and the drying floor before leaving. With 4 fellows the entire tear down and removal took a little over 2 hours. The remaining rings and drying floor I loaded up later and hauled home, using more of the rings for the finished product and selling the drying floor on BigIron. The remaining miscellaneous pieces will be hauled off for scrap.

The crane putting some tension on the lift so we could finish removing the bolts.
The bin top loose and ready to load.
Loading onto the lowboy.

Moving the bin home 35 miles was pretty much uneventful. The trailer was pulled by Bender’s Challenger tractor that could do 33 MPH and we ran an escort in front (escort was provided by a Bender Farms employee, Seth Steria.) The trip home took a little over an hour.

Ready to roll!
Headed out!
Most Nebraska county roads are wide which made the trek very easy.

Upon arriving here at home I had a telehandler onsite to lift off the bin. For this phase of the project I had the help again of Fred Halteman and his employee Chris Charlton. We used the same tire/rim setup to help lift off the bin. We then removed the 2nd ring and set it up on the posts. The bin slid fairly easily over the posts. We then got it leveled and used three 1/2″ bolts spaced symmetrically on each post.

Setting the bin in place with a telehandler.

My original plan was to only use the top ring and leave the bottom entirely open. However after removing the external bracing the structure was a bit shaky. I decided then to run panels down to the ground on 2 sections of posts (around 18′). This firmed things up quite a bit however on the opposite side it is still a bit shaky so I may put in some more permanent bracing. I think if I would have used a stronger post bracket would’ve helped this problem.

While the gazebo turned out a bit differently than planned (somewhat closed in instead of entirely open) I actually like the finished product better than my original plan. So, scout out your neighborhood, find a grain bin, and erect it in your back yard!

This blog post was written by my husband Jerald. He can be reached directly at acountrycouple@gmail.com.


It may be something to do with the way my brain is wired, but I have always hated flies for as long as I can remember. Their annoying, buzzing sound irritates me to substantial degrees. When there’s a few that manage to get in my house, I hound them until they’re dead or gone. If they’re buzzing like mad by a window, I’ll crank open the window real fast like, just to get them out of my hair. I use my swatter, but am also able to kill flies with my bare hand when needed. Or crunch them dead against a window.

Saturday night two grand daddies managed to land in my house at bedtime. They follow the light. As we entered the bedroom to retire, there they were, buzzing like wild. It seemed they were saying, “haha, you were gonna go to bed but we’re here to make more work for you. We know you won’t rest as long as we’re here!” While my man lay blissfully in bed, unruffled by the bothersome creatures, I marched right out for my trusty fly swatter and war began. I normally notify them of their coming death as they swirl around me. “Say your last words; your gonna die!” If you can’t get them to sit long enough to swat, just swat to derail them out of the air; you can finish them off on the floor when they’re still stumbling in a stooper. There’s a satisfactory crunch at the end. And peace reigns!

Many years ago when I was just a young girl I wrote this poem in Pennsylvania Dutch. It rhymes superbly well in Dutch and I’m very sorry for those of you who can’t read it. While I am fluent in speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, I never learned to write it, so the following words are written as they would sound. I will then translate it to English the best I can but the humor will be missing because it simply doesn’t flow and rhyme! Raise your hand if you despise flies with me!!


Aw, ih hos anihi mookuh room
Si sin all soo shrecklih doom!
Si fleu doo un fleu dot.
Ih hof si fleu atsvoo fot
Uddu bassu noh- si vaddu doot
Un kendu net fleu do oos broot!
Van si sih mul anlih anu hawcku
Noo shwat ih dih doomih mookuh!
Si acttu van si minuh si sin shmat
Novuh su mih sin si gwah nix vat!
Alzumul is shee shtil in maa shtoop,
Noo al ooh un mul haddih un mook!
Ih shtee mul ooh un shwat sting hot
Bin soo frohu us ahs nihmih dot!
Aw, ih hos annihi sot mookuh
Ih hos even vee si gooku!
Si rilli sin un drooval su mih

Sin sih net aw un drooval su dih?

Violet Rhodes


Aw, ih hos anihi mookuh room
Oh, I hate any flies around

Si sin all soo shrecklih doom!

They are all so terrible dumb!

Si fleu doo un fleu dot.

They fly here and they fly there.

Ih hof si fleu atsvoo fot

I hope they fly somewhere away

Uddu bassu noh- si vaddu doot

Or better yet- they would be dead

Un kendu net fleu do oos broot.

And couldn’t fly here on the bread

Van si sih mul anlih anu hawcku

When they finally sit themselves down

Noo shwat ih dih doomih mookuh!

Then I swat those dumb flies!

Si acttu van si minuh si sin shmat

They act like they think they’re smart

Novuh su mih sin si gwah nix vat!

But to me they are not worth a thing!

Alzumul is shee shtil in maa shtoop,

Sometimes it’s nice and quiet in my room,

Noo al ooh un mul haddih un mook!

Then all of a sudden I hear a fly!

Ih shtee mul ooh un shwat sting hot

I stand right up and swat that thing hard

Bin soo frohu us ahs nihmih dot!

I’m so glad he’s not there anymore!

Aw, ih hos annihi sot mookuh

Oh, I hate any kind of flies

Ih hos even vee si gooku.

I hate even how they look.

Si rilli sin un drooval su mih

They really are a trouble to me

Sin sih net aw un drooval su dih?
Are they not also a trouble to you?

Don’t they just look annoying?!

Travel Tips

First, a big thank you to those ladies who took time to share their tips on traveling with children!! I thought there were some good ideas! Some of these may overlap but it was easier to include the responses in their entirety, than to weed out parts of each one. Lastly, I’ll include my own.

* We do not take toys along on trips. (Ohhh, that sounds mean! But let me explain) We have already let the boys take a little bag of farm toys, and within a very short time, they were dumped all over and never looked at or asked for again….. same with an abundance of books. They take one or maybe two per person, and I try to stay very vigilant that they stay picked up and not tromped on! I like to put them in a book bag or backpack. Traveling is hard on books. Again, same with school books. We would much rather have them work ahead as much as possible, and then just do catch-up work with whatever didn’t get done before, rather than take it along. For one thing, they can’t write neatly while we’re driving, and then there’s the thing of the books getting wrinkled, rumpled, torn…. It’s been a few years since we had a girl that was in doll-stage. That would seem to be ok because it’s one bigger thing-not a bunch of little things. Snacks…. again, we don’t do just a lot. I sometimes make burritos or simple sandwiches. Fresh fruit, granola bars, go-gurt. For sure, have napkins and wet-wipes.

We have a “Cabela’s bag” with various pockets, that I like to keep under my seat, with essentials: squirt bottle, comb, meds, floss-picks, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, passports if needed… The covering bucket goes under the first bench seat in the van. To pack our clothes, we’ve gone almost exclusively to duffle bags. They can squish and fit in a lot easier. Our dresses get hung by the waist over hangers. One thing we do occasionally, that I learned from my grandma, is to pass out life savers or some other hard candy, one per person. Then we see who can keep it in their mouth the longest. It kinda quiets things down for awhile.

Another huge everybody-ought-to-know tip is: story CDs! Or something on audio! It keeps our family of 10 quiet and happy for many-a-mile!!! We’ve enjoyed Little Britches and also various Adventures in Odessy, or children’s dramatized Bible stories. Oh! And absolutely No Popcorn!! It is yummy and fun, but oh my! What a mess! A friend gave us one of those tins with 3 different kinds of popcorn, right before we left on a trip, so we took it along… and yes, we did enjoy it, but…..!

We also limit drinks to water. Especially for the Littles. Older ones can decide for themselves, but it helps a lot with potty breaks! Even though you can get the cutest little “Bug Juice” and other cute drinks…. And I’m still learning to keep calm and travel on! It’s not “the end of the world” if there are crumbs and stray trash to pick up. Enjoy the ride, and enjoy your little people! They grow up so fast! -Janelle Sensenig. Texas.

* I don’t have a lot of ideas since I’m usually not very organized but something I do to organize activities in our van is to put them in a 3-drawer stacker (11” W x 9.5” H), like this,

and set it on the seat between two people. This way they can easily get to it and put their toys away again when they’re finished. The books we usually put in a box on the floor. That means they need to be handed out but that’s not very hard to do. I also take several cookie sheets along that work for trays for anything from silly putty and tractors to small puzzles. It gives them a solid surface to play on and also has sides to keep small pieces from sliding off. Note: Depending on the type of carseat, if it has handles sticking up or not, and age of child can make it a little bit challenging to balance it on there but usually it works fairly well. – Gloria Mast. Kansas.

* As far as packing for little ones… on several trips where we were gone for close to a week and most nights at a different place, I put each child’s clothes into clear Ziplock bags and labeled each one for each day. That way we only had to grab the bags for that day and haul in 1 suitcase instead of 3. That helped out tremendously! Remember to add small snacks into a baggie somewhere. Without fail, we would get to our room and they would all be hungry from being too nervous to eat at a strange person’s house for supper.
If you have room in the vehicle, packing a small backpack for each child with age-appropriate games and toys can keep them entertained for a long time. Also, a trashcan is a lifesaver!
We do not have all little ones anymore with our 5 children ranging from ages 6 – 17 so taking food along for a trip looks different now than when they were all little. When you are barely keeping after with your daily duties, to make food for a trip yet besides getting all the suitcases packed can sometimes feel like too much. Just relax, and buy your food, especially if that is an area your husband does not mind helping you out with.
But the more we took food along, the more frustrated I would be when we would stop to get a bite to eat. All the time we spent in the restaurant or even the drive through could’ve easily been spent at home throwing together a few snack baggies or sandwiches!
Also, each family’s traveling style is different. My husband likes to get on the road and mostly stay there until we get to our destination. Other husbands and families prefer stopping for a ½ hour break every 2 hours and enjoying the journey as they go. So, each wife needs to just work with what her husband enjoys.
So, here are some food ideas that work for our family:
For road trips—
Breakfast burritos. We often leave early in the morning, so it is nice to have egg burritos put together the night before and then just reheat then in the oven or microwave the next morning before you head out the door.
Egg casserole. You can also assemble an egg casserole the night before and let it bake while you are loading the last of your things. This is actually not as messy as it sounds. Pass out paper bowls and distribute to everyone.
Baked oatmeal. Prepare this the night before and bake in the morning, so this also is easy, although a little messier if you add milk to the mixture and not at all handy for little ones.
All of the above, I put into an insulated casserole bag and it will stay hot for a good hour. The initial investment is well worth it when you think of all the money you are saving!
For other meals, we will often pack cold sandwiches or wraps or just chunks of meat and cheese, kept cold in an ice chest. In the summer, it is a high light to stop off at a rest area or picnic area of a state park and enjoy our lunch there. While we often spend as much time there as at a restaurant, we all think the trade off of fresh air and the ability to run around makes up for the simple fare.
Or, if time is short, we will stop for $1 sandwiches or a bucket of KFC chicken (although this is messy in a vehicle) and then just enjoy the other food I packed along.
Fresh veggies and fruit always taste good on the road. Baggies for each child can make sure they are getting their allotted amount. We also freeze-dry fruit, so that makes a very handy, mess-free snack.
Protein balls are often in our vehicle and a treat we all enjoy.
Cheese sticks and nuts help to tide hungry people over until the next meal. (or just to stave off the boredom of traveling)
If we pack a complete lunch, I like to stick in a bought treat that we normally do not have at home – small bags of chips, gummies, chocolate candies, lollipops, etc. It also helps out with not having to make everything.
With a family our size, we all have our own personal water bottle, then we can just buy a gallon (or 4!) of water and refill as needed. A squirt container of water flavoring (Stur, etc.) adds spice to the humdrum of ‘boring’ water.
For flying –
Frozen water bottles… this one has been a life-saver for our family of 7. I freeze the water bottles at home, put them in an insulated bag for the 2 hour drive to the airport, then either take that as a carry on or put it over into a back pack. They do allow frozen water bottles through security and each time we guzzle ‘free’ water; I think of the $2.50 per can we are saving.
Also, any jerky, beef sticks, veggies and fruit, cheese sticks, crackers … any food you take along will save you from the exorbitant prices in the airport. Although snacking all day can make you feel blah, so we often end up buying one meal of more solid food or just something warm and nourishing to fill in.

As a young mom, you will probably look at the list and think, “Nope, not doable” … and it might not be! Just give it a few years and you will be surprised at how the children change their tune about McDonalds. Most of ours groan and say, “Mom, didn’t you pack our sandwiches? Those cheeseburgers give me a belly ache!” So, that has been an incentive as well!
And as far as the crumbs, well, we’ve just resigned ourselves that it is part of having a family! The stress of trying to keep the vehicle clean was too much, so we just try to clean it well once we get home…. but that doesn’t always happen either! -Krystal Shirk. Ohio.

* I like to do laundry 2 days before a trip. That way when I am packing the day before we leave, I actually have something to pack. If we will be staying at a place for 1 night before we get to our destination I like to pack a separate bag of 1 set of clothes for each person and 1 set of pajamas and what diapers etc I’ll need.
Always keep a nightlight in your travel cosmetic bag. I never forget it that way, and I am always so grateful for it!
I am a nursing mom so when we travel I find myself sitting in the back a lot. It has surprised me at how the temperature can be either too warm or too cool. So being aware of the temperature for my littles can make a big difference on their traveling comfort and behavior and the best way to know what that is is to sit back there!
When we flew to Kenya (think 21 hrs of flying time alone one way) my baby was 11 months old. He liked to go to sleep with music playing. We bought a child’s fleece headband headset and connected it to my phone with some music he was used to. Instead of putting it on him like a headband, what worked for him was to just lightly hold the speaker part of the headphone lightly against his exposed ear as I fed him and as he slept! It was $12 well spent for us. He could sleep through the unusual noises and pilot’s announcements etc. – Mim Gingerich. Arkansas.

* It takes me a long time to pack, so I like to start 2 days before. If I feel rushed, I feel like hunkering down to a turtle’s pace because it looks too hopeless to get everything done in fast track. And I definitely make lists! Then as I get that particular bag packed, I cross it off the list. There are some things I just keep in the suitcase- a night light, a Bible, a phone charger, and my homemade ‘dirty clothes’ bag.

I also make a list of the refrigerated /frozen items I’ll need to grab the next morning. In case you’ve not tried it, lists bring peace to the mind that’s bouncing in 5 directions all day long!

The pills/herbs bag, the snack box (non refrigerated items) and miscellaneous items I may be taking, are all bags I like to pack 2 days before if possible. I may have gifts for someone or maybe I’m helping with food at our destination etc. Gathering all I can 2 days before helps! Then the day before we leave, I wash clothes and pack bags. We’re blessed with a garage so we usually load up the evening before. That helps so much!

In the bathroom bag I keep toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body wash, contact supplies, a comb, hand mirror, a soap pump, (yes, because I can’t stand to use antibacterial soaps for a whole weekend, so I take my own Castile soap!) and a few more things. There’s not a lot more to add yet when I’m preparing for travel. Keeping another set of bathroom supplies is definitely worth it and I’ve found it sooo helpful! You can go on and finish up packing and don’t have to wait to finish the bathroom bag, till you’ve brushed your teeth just before you head out the door!

As far as food for us. We usually leave early morning with hopes the children go back to sleep for awhile! I pack Juice Pus shakes, or yogurt parfaits, muffins, protein balls, cheese sticks, fruits and such like for our breakfast and snacks. I pack some salties, but not too much because of the junk factor. I’d rather have more real foods like fruits/veggies and nuts along. We do like the veggie crisps that I find at Walmart. It’s like chips made out of rice flour, beans and veggies. The brand is Off The Eaten Path. I like to keep small disposable cups in with the snacks then dish out snacks in the cups. It’s much easier for little hands to hold.

Jerald likes to drive with plans to get there! No ambling around. So when we make our potty or food stops, we try to be prepared before we stop. Get shoes/jackets on, clear out your present clutter, books or whatever you were doing, and be ready to jump out. For lunch we love Chipotle for a delicious, healthy, ‘fast food!’ I always get a bowl, and the children love their quesadillas and mini oranges. They have good sized portions too! We might do Subway or Wendy’s sometimes. I like to target places with taste worthy salads. We don’t eat McDonald’s. Greasy junk food and traveling just aren’t a good combo if you ask me! Unless we need breakfast, sometimes we’ll get their oatmeal bowls or yogurt parfaits.

We take some books, coloring books and crayons, Josie’s doll, and a few blankets and pillows. I keep their books/toys in a basket. It sounds organized but the truth is it doesn’t stay like that. It never fails that we have things strewn around and stuff gets piled on top of the basket!

We each have our water bottles by our seats, which, again, sounds ideal but honestly, Reece likes to throw his sipper cup down on the dirty floor. Why is it so fun to do that?! But of course, I haven’t tried doing that myself so am I missing a simple joy?? 🤔

We have also found audio books to be an asset for more peace and joy while driving. Even Reece and Mom seem to do better!

I’ve also learned I must watch my attitude or we all have a bad day traveling! Trips are high stress for me and I dislike them. It’s nice to see family and friends and enjoy the occasions but all that’s involved in the from here to there, and there to here, is not so enjoyable! If I complain, the children will be grouchy too. Josie was even starting to say she hates trips too, so I knew I had to improve!! Praying and asking God for strength and patience is so very important! We also usually ask for God’s protection at the beginning of a trip but do we remember to stop and thank Him for that safety at the end of a trip?!

Happy Travels!

Guest Post- The Barren Womb

The following post is written by a cousin of Jerald, namely Luanne Mast. I have been inspired by her cheerful spirit and acceptance of her disappointments in life. I asked her to write on this subject so we who have families can learn to be more sensitive and compassionate to those who long for a brood of their own.

“Happy Birthday, dear Kylie…” rang thru the house filled with uncles, aunts, and grandparents. She smiled shyly as she opened the gifts for her 3rd birthday. Her auntie had helped sing to her, eat cake, and gave a gift. But her mind was far away. Her heart was hurting. She felt a deep pain which almost felt physical. “What’s wrong with me? Why would this feeling come in the middle of a birthday party?”

Then it hit me. My firstborn could be right beside her cousin tonight having a joint birthday party. She was due 2 weeks before Kylie. They would have had so much fun together. Where was my child? My mind pictured the mound of dirt on the edge of the lawn. Then the streets of heaven. So different from Kylie’s life. “God, You know how much we long for a child to call our own. This dream to be fulfilled.”

   That night my heart was sad. Very sad. Aching. Times like those seem to come at the most unexpected times. At times when I am not even worried I will lose my composure. Infertility. 4 miscarriages. DEATH. Grief. Acceptance. Losing heart to EVER dream about anything. Crying to God to not let you be hurdled to the depths of despair. Loneliness ripping at the fringes of another day at home alone. Fear of your husband being the next one He will ask you to give back to Him. Church family standing by praying and also saying so. Seeing the sunshine of a new morning and knowing God has a plan in our lives and is still good just like my friends told me. Being surprised at actually being able to thank God for the journey and grief He has allowed. Is life fair? NO! God never intended that I try to be like everyone else. He created me for his glory. Not mine. I cannot expect to grow if I continue comparing my life with others. “Be you. Not them.” Does that take the pain, the desire, the left-behind-feeling away? No. It is a reality. It is what God is asking me to go through.

   Maybe you, my friend, are reading this and understand the pain. Maybe you have a sister who is going thru this while you feel continuously exhausted with your 3 little blessings. Maybe you are reading this just out of a caring heart. Bless each of you. This can be a sensitive subject. We are all such different makes and models, but all have the desire to be the same person – Mothers for God!

~To those of you who are experiencing barrenness of the womb

You are at the very place God has allowed you to be. How you relate to it may or may not be the response God desires. There is nothing wrong in desiring children. Some people cannot figure out why you can’t just accept and be content with being childless. (They have never been there.) If you have not allowed bitterness to settle in, can reach out to folks whether they have children or not, and find your little place to serve God – you have accepted your place in life. Does it take your desires away? No. My favorite verse – “Four things say not, It is enough. The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.” I went thru a time when I felt like I had to let people know what this felt like. I was setting myself up for hurt. Not everyone will understand. Not everyone who actually asks you how it is going will understand. Let go of the feeling of needing to help them understand. You soon learn who you can share with and when to just reply “I’m doing good.” Then ask about their life.

Remember you may be hurting. So often hurting people hurt others. After the burying of different of our babies I know I did not respond right to people who tried to show us they cared. I took some of their comments wrong (and sometimes still do). I was suspicious of others. We are hurting. We are grieving lost dreams. Dreams for that specific child or the dream of never having children. They are lost dreams. Ask God to continue to heal and for a compassion for what others are going thru. Pray for that before going to a tea party, to church, or to any where you know you could respond wrongly.

   We each have different bodies. What works for me, may not work for you. Feel free to share that thought with the person that brings to you the next thing to try that worked for so and so. I long for this writing to be encouraging to those who feel so alone in this journey. I wish I would have known so many of the things I know now, back at the beginning of this journey. It took close to a year to get pregnant the first time, but lost the baby in a week. After losing 2 babies we went the medical route. Many visits with a gynecologist ruled out things that actually left me feeling reassured. After a surgery for endometriosis and a bicornate uterus we were encouraged, and told we most likely will be fine. Am I sad we went the medical route? Not a chance. I feel like a different person—pain- free. But alongside all that, here’s a few things I wish I would have known 6 years ago. Research them and learn for yourself.

    Do bloodwork/saliva testing for your hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone), thyroid, Vitamin D, and adrenals. Find a midwife who can send you for lab work, read the results, and prescribe the needed supplements or progesterone (pills, vaginal suppositories or shots). Progesterone (bioidentical, not synthetic) seems to play an important part in conceiving or carrying a baby. Some midwives find it helpful if you chart your cycles. (Taking Charge of your Fertility book). A methylated form of vitamin B in the Smarty Pants or Meleluca’s multivitamin is more absorbable by some bodies. These are just a few things I am learning. Have I attained? No. Have I carried a baby full term? No. We decided to give my body time to heal and just work on my overall health. Amidst learning about my body and all the doctor visits, I still find rest in knowing there is a reason God has allowed this. Don’t get so wrapped up in all the things that might be wrong that you miss enjoying the things that are right…actually perfect. Your husband. Your duties and blessings as a wife.

   I tend to get so involved in my day or projects that I don’t stop for lunch. That is not good self-care at all. Eat lunch. Sit outside in the sunshine. Read a book. Just zone out for a half hour or more. And enjoy it without feeling guilty. God didn’t intend for you to do everything for everybody because you have nobody around and then end up being so exhausted that you can’t enjoy the 1 loved one he did give you!

Let’s try to remember that we are just as prone to make snide or selfish comments. Saying to someone who has lost a 2 year- old child, “Least you had one to lose” is not from a compassionate spirit. Find things to do and ways to reach out and children to love. Sitting at home all the time wallowing in self pity will not give you purpose in life or many friends. Thinking NO ONE understands or cares is selfish. Let’s not be sensitive or easily offended. Deep down in they do care about us.

   For those of you who have tried for years to conceive or have lost babies and are working thru that grief, please don’t compare griefs. Please talk to someone. Find someone who has been there. But also find ones who haven’t been there. There are always caring people as long as we don’t push them away.  Just because you have only lost one and I have lost four doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to relate or do not want to talk with you. It doesn’t mean I have it figured out or feel like I have reached some plateau. It doesn’t mean I have had life so much harder than you. We each have times of suffering and are at different places in our journey, but we can be there for each other. I think the grief of lost dreams of having a baby or losing a baby thru miscarriage can teach each of us to be more compassionate and caring for others around us no matter what they are going thru if we allow it to make us better instead of becoming bitter like Satan would wish for. To each of you my friends….I know….It’s hard…I care. Let’s remember who created us this way. He has a plan. A beautiful plan. “He hath made everything beautiful in His time.”

 ~To the sister or friend of one with empty arms…

   You play such an important role in her life and well-being. My sisters and mom have been such confidantes for me. I know I can tell them exactly how I am when they ask and they won’t tell every Ruth, Sarah, and Anna. Confidence is a huge thing for those of us in this. We feel like so much of our lives are already exposed. Don’t betray them. Don’t tell others details from their doctor visits or whether you know if they are trying to conceive or are taking a break. If others ask you about them because you are a good friend or sister, just encourage them to go talk to them themselves and that you don’ t want to betray her confidence in you as a friend.  If they hear you repeating things that were told you, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear more from them when you talk again with them.

   Ask them how they are really doing. And listen. They don’t want advise. They just need to talk somedays. They often already know the pat answers and phrases that they should be doing and thinking. They are most likely trying to come to grips with everything yet. Please don’t take it personal or judge her for not coming to see your newborn baby the first week or the first time to church. She may not even be up to bringing a baby meal either. Don’t just exclude her from a shopping trip with your friends because you are baby shopping and think it would be too hard for her. Tell her ahead of time what you are doing and that she is invited. Be willing to accept whatever she decides. Ask her throughout the trip if she is doing okay or if this is too much for her. She will feel your care.

   Foresight is better than hindsight for us folks. It means the world to me when my sisters or friends tell me they are pregnant before they announce it to their other friends. Then I don’t have to be surprised right in front of everyone and try to digest all the feelings in front of others. Some of my friends have even done that when switching to maternity dresses, too. A text saying “Hey just letting you know I am planning to go into my maternity dresses this Sunday.” has melted my heart so many times.

   Sometimes I come upon a group of ladies conversing. The conversation stops. I feel like a big intruder. Later I find out they were talking about births or pregnancy. Don’t just stop. Include us in your pregnancy and story too. It is harder to relate to you if you don’t tell us anything when we ask you how it is going. We know you tell others details about it. Just because we have never been there doesn’t automatically mean we do not care. But to continue on in that sort of conversation for a long time will not appeal either. Bring the conversation around to something she can join in with. She may walk away from a group that is just continuing on with such subjects. A text that night telling her you are sorry you didn’t think of her in that conversation goes a long way.

   Be careful about making careless remarks about family planning, being “done” having children, or statements that take for granted you will have future pregnancies. Those comments can send daggers of pain through a woman’s heart that has learned she has no control over her fertility.

   Be sensitive with blanket statements about ladies who dealt with infertility and then were gifted the miracle of pregnancy and birth. Comments like, “Well you know she went on the Reliv program, that must have been what finally did it” or “It was the Juice Plus vitamins she was taking” or “Wow they must have finally just relaxed and forgot about it and it happened!” or “You know she told me they surrendered and prayed to God like they never had before and they got pregnant.” Statements like that cause deep pain to your infertile friend and make her question her faith.  Only she knows the desperate prayers she and her husband have prayed night after night, year after year, crying out to God to open her womb. Only she knows the surrendering of her will over and over and over again. Only she knows the handfuls of pills and vitamins she swallowed, the “miracle” shakes she forced down day after day, the ovulation kits they bought and tried, the progesterone cream she rubbed on, the crazy positions they attempted all at the “perfect” time…only to have their dreams crash again and again, month after wearying month.

   Care. Truly care. Don’t just care to settle your curiosity. Invite her and her husband out for supper some evening to your favorite restaurant. Leave the children behind for a double date or take them along. Invite them to your house for supper and invite them to stay for family worship. They miss relating to children and their lives. Evenings can get long for a childless couple. Take an interest in their lives and what they do. Don’t just assume they don’t have much going. Sometimes they are so busy because so many folks assume they are getting bored or have the time to do this or that. They can be exhausted too. Please talk about your life, family, or a funny thing your child did that day to them…just don’t complain. If you have accepted where you are in life, she will sense that. I love when ladies include me in their lives. I find it hard to relate to the ones who share nothing about their lives because they are scared it will hurt me. That’s not relationship. Maybe ask her if you wonder if it is hard for her to hear you talk about whatever.

~Things to do for those struggling with infertility:

* Be aware of days that might be extra hard for her. Send her a text or a card, and let her know you’re thinking of her when there’s a new baby in the congregation and all the extra buzz surrounding it — birthing stories, baby meal schedules, and baby-looks-just-like-mom discussions. It’s easy for her to feel like everyone else is being handed miracles and she is left sitting on the sidelines year after year after year. It doesn’t change her situation but sometimes knowing someone cares makes the day a little brighter.

* Share your babies. Each person is different on this. Please ask them beforehand instead of just assuming they would love if you handed them your baby in church.

* Talk about it. Don’t let it be a huge white elephant in the room. Ask questions if you’re not sure how to relate. Ask if there’s anything you can do to make her feel more accepted and connected in the circle of ladies you’re a part of. Ask what discussions are painful for her to find herself in. Ask her how she’s coping on this journey she’s traveling. Ask if it makes it easier or harder to be offered babies to hold. Ask instead of just assuming. Ask questions that give you better knowledge on how to relate and care for her heart, not nosy questions that give you information to feed the gossip chain.

    * Tell them early when you are pregnant, etc. Before she has time to overhear discussions on morning sickness and smock patterns and get suspicious. Her mind and ears are probably on high alert to those subjects and it’s painful when she realizes she’s been left out of the loop.

   * Drop off a meal or breakfast casserole just because. She has never received baby meals and most likely has made lots for others while tears slid down her cheeks. Remember her with flowers or food or chocolate sometimes “just because.” And try to remember her on her birthday. She has very few times in her life that she is pampered by her friends. It’s easy for her to feel she’s the one that’s always giving, always serving, with no morning sickness, baby bump, or colicky newborn as a “reason” to sit back and take it easy.

   * Include them in your family life. Invite them for supper, to join on a camping trip or another trip somewhere.

* Be intentional about subjects and conversations you can connect on outside of motherhood talk. Do you have a hobby in common? Invite her to sew or scrapbook or bake at your house. Go shopping together and purposely stay out of the baby department and off of those topics. Instead look at fabric or furniture or browse the book sections at the second-hand store. Sit and sip coffee together and ask her about her life, her hobbies and her interests. You have plenty of friends to talk baby stuff over with; this time focus on subjects that connect with her heart.

   * Invite them in to join you in the nursery. We can’t help but notice you are in there with your babies and talking, but it’s just not our place.

   * Have your little children give them gifts or cards. It means the world to get a brand- new children’s book handed to you from the hands of your friend’s two- year- old.

   * Pray for her and let her know that at times. Love her and accept her just as she is. There will be times she puzzles you, times she hurts you with her seeming lack of interest in your life and your babies. Remember her grief is a private one – a grief that usually isn’t tangible. If she never buried babies there are no dates to remember, no graves to visit and lay flowers on, no photo book to look at, no memory corner filled with treasures in her living room… just an empty nothingness that stretches on and on without a beginning and an end. It’s difficult to find closure to a grief like that.   

~ Things to do for those who have a miscarriage:

  • Order in a supper for them or take them a meal. A week of meals means so much after losing a baby.
  • Order a bouquet of flowers online or take her some.
  • My mom drove four hours decked with lavender scented lotion and a flannel sheet and gave me a full body massage. So comforting.
  • Give them a gift certificate for a massage.
  • Order Chocolate covered strawberries online thru Sherri’s Berries or make a plate of them
  • Invite her to a tea party the day of her due date along with 1-2 other friends. She’s dreading that day, but will not get anything around most likely. It is just therapy to get out of the quiet, lonely house. Make sure she does not spend the day alone!
  • Give a gift in memory of the baby they lost- a gray flannel Blanket, white teddy bear, a plaque, a book
  • Make a picnic basket for them to take on a picnic the day of her due date or close to it. This could also be done for your friend who has no children…just to show you care.
  • A sunshine basket from the church ladies

~Things not to say (that I have heard):

    Relax. Maybe you are trying too hard to conceive.

    Just hang in there. You will have a baby. (Are you God?)

    You can have my children for practice tonight.

    You can just do anything whenever you want! (Actually, we are very normal and have jobs and things to do just like you.)

    At least you haven’t waited as long as so and so yet. (Who’s to say we won’t’?)

    Are you staying busy with anything? (You can feel like they think you sit around every day.)

    Maybe your baby was deformed. Then this is better.

    It has to be easier to deal with the grief of losing a baby than to have a son run away from home like so and so had last week. (I can hardly process all that right now. I’m just trying to get thru my own grief.)

    It is very common for ladies to miscarry at least once in their lifetime. The next one will probably be fine. (Are you God?)

    “At least…” Any comment beginning with at least is not usually comforting to the grieving.

    At least you know you can get pregnant.

    At least there are no other children to take care of while you heal.

    Having another child or adopting will probably help you forget. (No! No child will take the place of the one we lost.)

    Why don’t you try to figure out more what’s wrong with your body and give it a rest before you try again? (We definitely have.)

     At least it’s not like you have given birth and have all the pains of that. (Obviously you have never felt the pain of a miscarriage. The upheaval of hormones. The confused body. The terrible labor and then in the end a dead baby with 10 little toes and fingers just perfect as can be that you need to bury and let go. I can’t process how it compares or doesn’t to a full- term birth right now.)

Things you can say… 

   I care and am praying for you.

   I can’t imagine what you are going thru, but I care.

   How are you really doing?

   Would this and this be too hard for you or would you enjoy it?

   We appreciate the place you and your husband fill here. No one else can take your place.

   We really admire the way you have accepted your journey and what God has called you to go thru. We don’t understand, but imagine it can’t be easy. We pray for you.

Just a simple, caring attitude will be felt with very few words. Acting like what they are going thru is nothing new or you’ve been there and done that and know of others who have had it way worse etc. will not reach their hearts. Compassion. Care. Prayer.

Luanne Mast lives in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies with her husband Lynford. She enjoys the outdoors, the view of the mountains, a clean house, cooking, and relationships (especially serving coffee or tea to her husband or friends while catching up on life). They both come from large families and enjoy all the company that brings. They have been working at an adoption from Columbia since December 2019 and are waiting to be matched. If you wish to reach out to her, she would love to hear from you. 91luanne@gmail.com

Help Wanted

We have been abundantly busy this month, working on a remodel project in our home. We had mold in our master bedroom and bath to irradicate. The remodeling makes a depressing mess and disturbs the whole house. But now with it restored to a fresh, new look and orderliness, makes one sigh with satisfaction.

Our new master bathroom

I have also not been feeling well these past months. Next to zero energy levels spins ordinary work into looming mountains. We’re still trying to navigate roads leading to what might be the cause. I would like a device to attach to myself that would spell out the exact issues- like reading a temperature device. (If you know of someone who invents these, let me know.) The idea of mold being a culprit, at least in part, is quite likely.

And so your thinking, “ahh she needs help with her housework, or another remodel project or cooking or some other thing.” I could definitely use help especially in the cooking department. We’re only a family of four but I continue to be amazed at the effort it takes to keep a supply of decent food around. Dietary restrictions and lack of inspiration can sometimes make cooking feel more joblike than joyful. Then there’s all the ordinary effort it takes to keep a household running moderately smooth. But no, I’m not asking for help in these areas. “What, is she even trying to say”?!

I’ve been struggling to get blogs out like I would like to or that I feel are chipper enough. I’ve felt like some of my recent ones bordered on lame but I sent them anyway and hoped somebody was inspired. I’m working on another but it’s a vast subject and requires more details and gathering information than I’ve had time. So I pushed it off again and kept thinking “what could I send out? Nothing really clicked or worked to write about presently. So I decided to do this one to ask for your help.

Awhile back I had a reader request tips on traveling with children/toddlers. We probably all have our own ways of doing things to make traveling more smooth. If y’all chip in and share your tips, I’ll compile them and make a later post and we can all enjoy the tidbits of other’s advice!

So what are your tips on how to stay organized when you travel with your children? Do you pack or load a certain way? How do you organize their books, toys, blankets, and pillows? How do those of you with scholars organize and work at their school work? (if you take that along.) How do you do snacks without the vehicle looking like it’s not been swept in 2 1/2 years, after the first go around of snacks? Do you make particular homemade snacks that are non messy? Do you make some healthy, homemade foods in an effort to help guard against not getting sick as quickly? How do you keep everyone’s hands at least halfways sanitary? (This particular one really has been a huge one for me to deal with, with my children because I’m way too germaphobia. I’ve had to back down ALOT from my phobias!) Share your healthy snack/food recipes too, if possible. Tips for traveling by air are welcome too because I know some of my reader’s most common form of traveling is by flight. If you have other traveling tips outside of what I mentioned here, feel free to share those too!

You may email your tips to me at jeraldsflower@gmail.com (do not reply to this blog post) Having them to me by February 8 would be appreciated. Thank you for your help!

365 New Days

A brand New Year ahead of me-

What it will hold I cannot see.

Let it NOT be the year of a turning away,

From the LOVE of Christ to seek the world’s way.

For this MAY be the year of our Lord’s return-

“Is my heart ready?” Should be our concern.

Or this COULD be the year that’s the last one for me-

Eternity’s ahead, let’s live carefully!

Regardless what comes, let’s do Christ’s commands

We surely can TRUST our lives in His hands!

-Violet Rhodes

Cranberries And Christmas

Isn’t the month of December such a unique month?! Always filled to the brim with all the holiday excitements of special baking, shopping, gift wrapping, food making, Christmas suppers, programs and get togethers….

We are probably too quick to take a lot for granted…. At least I am. There’s so many in this world who are extra lonely and sad right now, because they know it’s a time for families to get together and they have none. (Or maybe aren’t allowed to get together!) And worst of all, many do not know the real meaning of Christmas! They’ve never experienced the Joy of Jesus in their hearts and thus knowing the real meaning of the coming of Jesus as a baby so many years ago! Are we compassionate and showing the love of Jesus to others wherever we can?!

Recently I read a story of a family who enjoyed visiting a live nativity at a church. When the children peeped in to see “baby Jesus”, there was nothing but a few rolled up blankets! What disappointment! A lesson for us, let’s be very conscious of the fact that people are watching us as Christians and are they seeing Jesus in us or will they be disappointed too?! Are we ministering to the needy around us and thus showing Jesus?

Here’s a different twist to add to your holiday snacks…. I was super pleased when I tried this out!

Cranberry Salsa

1 12 oz. package cranberries, fresh or frozen, chopped

1 c. sugar

1 jalapeño seeded and chopped

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

a bit of chopped onions

Mix the chopped cranberries and sugar until well mixed, then stir in the remainder of ingredients. I think 1 cup sugar is plenty but I know cranberries are sour. But feel free to experiment with less or using a sugar substitute! This gets juicy after it sets a bit. Serve with cream cheese and crackers. Yum!!

Cranberry Salsa

Here’s another recipe I just got and made very recently. Thanks to a new friend I “met” recently on a WhatsApp chat, namely, Rachel Weirich, who was so kind in allowing me to share on here!!

Cranberry Nut Cookies

2 c. almond flour (not packed)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. simple sweet or sweetner of choice

2 eggs

1/2 t. vanilla

1/4 c. melted coconut oil or butter

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1 c. fresh or frozen chopped cranberries

Mix dry ingredients together then add in remaining ingredients and stir well. Drop on to greased cookie and flatten with fork. Bake at 350* for about 10-12 minutes. Once cooled, drizzle with melted dark chocolate. I couldn’t drizzle the chocolate in a beautifying fashion so I ended up just spreading the chocolate over top!😜

Cranberry Nut Cookies

I was happy to have another yummy gluten free cookie recipe to add to my collection and especially a pretty and healthy Christmas cookie at that!

Cranberries and Popcorn String

Thread a needle, knot the end, and let your children have fun stringing together cranberries and big popcorn for simple holiday decor!

May you and yours enjoy a blessed Christmas and New year! How thankful I am for the assurance that we have the Lord to walk beside us every step of the unknown year ahead! He will not forsake his own and is so worthy of our trust!

Jerald & Violet Josie Kate- 5 Reece Edison- 16 months