Through the Fire

We crowded against the window mesmerized by the action on the floor below us. The intense heat rose up and up. It ooozed through the glass, making it impossible for the AC to keep up, and threatened to stifle us. I took my hard hat off and tried to create a bit of air movement for me. But I still couldn’t tear myself away.

We were touring the Caterpillar Foundery in Mapleton, IL. Our enthusiastic guide explained thoroughly the entire process of creating engine blocks, etc (thanks to him for the pics of this tour) So here it goes to the best of my memory/understanding (both of which can be pretty limited 🤔)

We watched each step carefully: Recycled metal is dumped into a giant furnace and heated to a red hot lava (it’s much more scientific than that 😏). The giant oven opens and pours out the red hot lava into a container.

Slowly- a giant hook lowers from the crane above and lifts the container carrying tons of liquid metal into the sky and moves purposely towards the next stop- the bright red/ heat reflects on the operators face as he moves along the ceiling of the building. The next oven opens and the liquid is poured in. From there the temp is maintained in these “waiting ovens” as the large batch is divided into smaller batches (four blocks/pour)

Just like clockwork- a smaller batch is poured into a smaller container. It moves on a track to where workers check the temp (2645°F) the slag is drawn off and then- another crane operator carries it over and meticulously pours the next 4 molds. These new molds/blocks move to the next stage, and the process repeats.

As I referenced- it was uncomfortably warm, but still I stayed. My mind raced- I thought about the familiar Bible story where the King demanded his subjects worship him instead of God. When Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refused, the King heated the furnace so hot that it killed the people standing around outside. He threw the men inside and was shocked by the fact that there were suddenly 4 men in the fire, walking around. Long story short- an angel joined the men and protected them so that they didn’t even have a hair singed.

As the fire continued- I kept thinking about the verse that’s talking about eternal punishment “where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” and it hurt my heart to think of someone deliberately making choices against God that would lead to suffering in hell forever and ever and ever.

And then I thought of another facet of fire: difficult experiences. It’s incredible how the metals are all thrown into the fire and purged- the junk slag is lifted off and in the end- they come out beautifully. But that’s not the end. After the refining process, and the proper degassing time, the newly formed piece of metal again enters the oven to be retempered- making sure that it’s ready for work. The return to the heat removes any weaknesses and eliminates future issues.

I don’t know what fire your story includes. I don’t know if you’re in the initial refining fire, or if you’re in the recurring heat treatment. But I’m currently studying the life of Joseph and I’m so challenged with his response during his conversation with his brothers as he reflected on the unfair events of his life (being sold as a teenager, being imprisoned, but finally being promoted to grain manager during a terrible drought in Eygpt) “God did send me” (Gen 45.) Life includes tough times. But if God is in control- the end results can be a blessing.

May God give you a glimpse of the ministry the furnace times are preparing you for.

Blessings,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

A few more pics from our travels last week.

Lake Superior where the water is cold, but the view is beautiful.

Enjoyed visiting a Hutterite Colony in Minnesota. These people were very gracious with allowing us a glimpse into their lives. I brought home a recipe in case you were wishing to bake cookies for a crowd:

We found some of my mom’s family scattered here and there.

Beautiful countryside

As always so thankful for protection along the way on each adventure. Glad to explore, but so glad to be home 💞

Quick Photo Tour of Canada

I don’t know if you’ve noticed- but my posts follow a definite pattern: travel, harvest, travel, harvest…

Wheat harvest was a wonderful flurry of busy days, late nights, grain trucks, and wheat dust. And in typical form- I was looking in my rearview mirror as the dust settled and the little soybeans popped out of the ground in beautiful green rows.

I jumped out of the combine, grabbed my passport and spent the last 13 days touring the Northland. So here goes: a quick photo tour of my favorites from Canada 🇨🇦

Reportedly the water levels at the Great Lakes are feet above normal. The green waters RUSHED over Niagara Falls and it was something to see.

Totally enamored by the little carts at the end of everybody’s lanes where you could buy anything from firewood to butter tarts to fresh cut bouquets.

Enjoyed watching a wide range of farming activities:

Pretty impressed with the goat dairy- not even kidding 😆

Saw more lakes and trees than you could possibly count. Even took a kayak out to chase a loon.

Stayed up late enough to watch the sunset.

Watched a polar bear swim after his moose rib breakfast.

Got a new understanding of the Canada Shield ( super hard rock outcroppings all over the northern part of Canada- pictures directly behind the cattle)

Even made up a few lame jokes- Did you know that in Massey, ON they occasionally write the town name on the side of their tractors? 🤷🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

But most outstanding were the acres and acres of Lupine we saw in the ditches along the way.

I love the reminder that if God tends the flowers along the way- how MUCH more does He care for you and me?

And that, my friends, is a 90 second tour of Canada minus summer sausage and Tim Hortons coffee. Added bonus of no mosquitoes or black flies.

Be Blessed, eh?

Kendra

God Promises to Care for His Children

Me: I think I’m going to blog

My mom: do you think throwing your voice into the frenzy will make a difference?

Me: I’ll feel better


My first introduction to Christian Aid Ministries was in the mid 90s. My dad took tractor and trailer loads of used clothes to CAM clothing center in Shipshewana, Indiana. Annoyingly, we girls had to take turns going with him, but the adventure was always worth it. We’d return home and compare notes on who had spotted the most barges on the rivers between here and there, what food (or lack of it -because my dad forgets to eat when he’s busy🙄) had been consumed, and all the latest stories from Felty the Amishman. I remember wandering up and down the aisles in the sorting room and staring at the big posters on the walls. The dark eyes of innocent children in a far away land burned themselves into my heart.

And CAM continues to touch my heart as they reach out to the world around them.

And I find them everywhere. I’ve spent countless days in their warehouses in PA sorting clothes and packing food (thanks in part to my job as a van driver). I watched the ladies at sewing circle spending hours assembling layette kits, and new clothing kits.

I’ve spent a number of nights at their base in Nicaragua, and appreciated the carefully organized boxes preparing to head into the mountains to provide for the less fortunate.

I even found them in the boondocks of Cambodia surrounded by water buffalo- helping establish safe water sources for people in desperate need.

If there’s a flood, a fire, or a refugee crisis-you can count on them being among the first responders. I love being a part of being “the hands and feet of Jesus” by supporting this Ministry.

And then all the blogs and posts started filtering into my life. Someone somewhere let the organization down. Satan is leading a huge attack on the work of the church and people are reacting. Sometimes I hate social media. The comments run wild and I finally quit reading. Sin is not ok. This is not an accurate representation of “conservative Anabaptists” or “CAM” as the accusations indicate. None of us would support the heinous things that happened. Trust has been broken.

This makes me so sad.

“This has potential to be big” everyone says, and my heart sinks as I think about the millions of lives touched that would be affected if “BIG” is indeed the foreboding dark cloud on the horizon.

But as I’m praying over the situation, God starts reminding me “don’t you remember my promises to the widows and the fatherless? What about “once I was young, but now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.” I care more about the people affected by this then you do. Trust me. I will provide.”

And so I just want to stop for a moment on this beautiful Monday morning to praise our Amazing Heavenly Father for His goodness and grace, and the fact that He holds His Children in the palm of His Almighty Hand.

He will provide 💞

Praise Him,

Kendra

Bonus Adventures

Have you ever stopped in the middle of something random that’s entered your life and just laughed and thought “I have no idea how I got into this, except God…”

Just when I thought our Jordan adventure was as full of adventure as it possibly could be, the plot thickened: it’s called an 8 hour layover en route.

We landed in Rome at 7 am and thanks to the hours we’d spent previously surfing the web, reading up on how to catch a train from the airport to downtown- it wasn’t long until we were boarded and traveling again.

Our adventure was amazing. We spent €3 on a map that did a decent job of getting us to where we were going. (I discovered later that the map was in Spanish 🤔 maybe that explains why things began to unravel towards the end of our visit🤷🏻‍♀️)

Our main goal was to see the Colosseum and as much ancient history as possible- so we set out, stopping occasionally to take pics of narrow streets and beautiful window boxes.

This is a beautiful City.

And the Colosseum is impressive. We didn’t have time for a tour- and judging from the masses of people who were standing in line waiting for the place to open, I’m glad we weren’t counting on it.

Every thing went off flawlessly until I uttered the infamous words “hey we are near the Trevi Fountain, want to go see that while we are here?” So we took a side road following our supposed trusty map and circled and asked store owners with varying degrees of English and stopped by McDonalds and tried to get info using their WiFi as the battery on my phone dipped down below 10%. 🤔 In the end, we walked around the block at McD’s and met a tour group. We jumped in behind them, following them to the right spot, and joined the throngs attempting to throw coins into the fountain. Not worth it.

So there we were at the Fountain with a Spanish map that had failed. By this time it had been tooo long since any of us had slept, and tooo many miles since anybody had eaten. We would finally find a street name and then guess at what direction we needed to be heading.

I’ve always heard “when you’re in Rome you do like the Romans” so we swung in for Gelato for breakfast while we planned our next attack (don’t judge).

I guess the sugar kicked in because it wasn’t long before we’d made the right connections and were headed back to the trainstation as fast as our shoes would take us.

And some 7.5 miles later, we made our train with about 3 minutes to spare. Why was I worried?

*note for next time: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can it be explored in a day- but it was well worth the adventure.


We learned a lot from round one: so we went back to the drawing board for the grand finale. I downloaded ENGLISH maps for the event. We again hit up google, and asked lots of questions from those who’d visited before. The reports varied: “not enough time” ” you’ll be fine!” “The train is super confusing” “most people speak English, but are stingy with it, preferring for you to speak their language” hmmm

So with a combined amount of trepidation, exhaustion, and excitement- we entered the custom lines in Paris.

In a lot of ways this stop was less stressful than Rome, other than when we almost crashed and burned switching trains near Notre Dame ( why would they list all the stops the train makes excluding the ones on the map🤷🏻‍♀️) but we found an angel who spoke English and pointed us in the right direction.

We were early- like 7 am and the clouds threatened and only the gardeners were out. It was beautiful!

We hiked along the Seine River trying not to get run over by the super ambitious bikers and runners out getting in their morning exercise. There is to much culture along the river.

We checked on the rebuilding efforts at Notre Dame and decided that they really didn’t need our help, and caught the train back to the airport. Thankfully we managed to catch the express train- so in no time, we were back in line at customs, reviewing the pics on our phones to verify that we’d actually been there. This was an easy day- we didn’t even walk 7 miles. But no sleep/ no food/ it felt good to be back in time for the flight. 😅

These ladies are the best adventures. 💞 (this pic is from Wadi Rum because the selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower is not worthy to be posted)

So thankful for God’s blessing on a sense of adventure. I know that He was there carefully supervising as we put each piece into our gigantic travel puzzle.

Only regrets- didn’t have time for Pizza in Rome, or crepes in Paris. Next time?

I hope you can sense God’s input in your adventure too.

Blessings,

Kendra

Cultural Experiences in Jordan 🇯🇴

I have never visited any of the countries in the Middle East. I love learning about other cultures, and this trip did not disappoint. In fact the learning hit as soon as we stepped out of the airport. Groups of men in their flowing white robes stood there greeting each other with multiple kisses. “This is going to be rich” I thought to myself. And it was.

*Because of different courtesies/guidelines my pics here will not include my friends- but hopefully you can still get a feel for the different experiences regardless. 🙂

We turned off the main road, drove thru miles of junk yard. Turned right beside the herd of camels, and wound our way up the hill to the new mosque and the long line of apartment buildings. Partway along the buildings, we stopped and started the hike up the multiple stairs until we came the right door. (Rach led with confidence- how she picked the right building out of a long kind of identical buildings is beyond me- but I didn’t question, only followed.)

The family’s handicapped son opened the door for us and we were ushered in to sit on mats in the living room. The mom kept up a constant chatter while the daughters came in and out answering WhatsApp video calls, and offering us drink. I focused on not having a heat stroke, keeping my feet tucked properly to the side, and not falling asleep; while Rach kindly interpreted this lady’s story of fleeing her hometown in the middle of the night, carrying her daughters; of her lament over their house being bombed and burnt after their departure; and the change from the lush green of her homeland to the dry brown of Jordan. She showed us pics of her grandchildren and talked excitedly about her desire to see them. Rach disappeared into the kitchen to help with meal prep and she kept up a string of Arabic that had my travel companions and I totally lost.

We sat on the floor to eat and although my feet wanted nothing more than to be pointed straight out in front of me- in a culturally offensive way- my heart was happy. “This is rich” I thought to myself

We arrived in Jordan over the ending of Ramadan (30 days of no food/water during sunlight hours) This brought a unique set of challenges since it’s actually illegal to eat or drink in public. But it also provided lots of educational opportunities for this brief culture study. Every morning at 2:30 the drummer would come by waking the neighborhood, encouraging everyone to eat before the sunrise. we stood out on the porch the one morning as he hurried up the street, and he stopped right beside us to sing. The poor guy’s voice sounded shot.

The ending of Ramadan called for a celebration (called Eid) The Park at the end of our street was buzzing with activity as people hurried to pray in the early morning. The chant went on and on for 2 hours creating so much noise and a basic “no sleep zone” for some of us.

The man paused in his careful layering of tiny stone pieces to show us his work. He is a professional with the Mosaic artwork- a tedious masterpiece that is beautiful when finished. I notice the yellow letter on his shirt (same letter as the 2 wooden pieces on the bottom right of this pic) It’s the sign that was painted on the houses of the Christians in his hometown. When the radicals returned, this sign meant his family was either heavily taxed, or the men killed and the ladies abused. Seeing these people working to pull together the pieces of their broken lives was really heart wrenching.

Our hostess was beautiful and gracious and she spoke English. (Also she had an available brother or cousin to offer for each of our group- but we’ll leave that there.) She was breaking fast to feed us a meal, and was so excited to have foreigners visiting her home. Her family kept calling and asking us to stay for Iftar (the meal after sundown) and she was sure we needed to spend the night… Her husband took us to the Wadi after his evening prayer and we waded in the water and enjoyed drinking in the green surrounding the small creek. She promised to take us to her family farm the next visit. I’m planning to remember that 🙂

The sunset threw some pink hues into the sky and the prayer call echoed all over Amman. I sat up on the roof in the refreshing evening breezes watching the lights turn on all over the city, enjoying the chatter of energetic boys, and the companionship of good friends, while savoring the best grilled hotdogs and French fries I’d had in awhile. “Yes, this is rich” I told myself

A few more random snapshots of life in Jordan:

The Jordan people are Bedouin which means that originally they were nomads living in tents, tending their flocks and herds. There is still a lot of that going on today. And KH felt compelled to comment on every.single.one she saw. Bless the patient ladies who traveled with her.

As we traveled along, and I caught snatches of shepherds sitting in the sun watching their animals. I was amazed at what a boring job that would be. It’s no wonder that David wrote music and became skilled with his sling shot.

It’s wheat harvest in Jordan and I was hoping for a chance to see it firsthand. We traveled to the northern part of the country and missed a road and there it was- in all of its New Holland glory. Rach asked the old farmers sitting under the shade tree if it was ok for me to enter the field and take a pic. They welcomed me. Apparently the wheat is bagged at the clean grain elevator instead of being loaded into the grain bin. Then several workers hoists the big sacks onto the back of a truck and they head for the elevator.

It was also interesting to see the long line of cabover Mercedes loading grain onto a ship at Aqaba. Worlds away from my life in VA, yet so similar to my family’s line of work 🙂

Thank you, people of Jordan for opening your homes to us and for helping me gain a better understanding of your way of life. I pray that the Light within you shines brighter and brighter.

And I hope I get to visit again soon.

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

Random foods at the open air market.

This man wrote my name on a piece of rice. “You have a very long name” he said. I thought he could just be glad that it was Kendra who hired him instead of Jennifer or Rebecca, but I held my peace 😂

Jordan 🇯🇴

“And another thing I’m discovering about life- is to expect the unexpected” the sound of my voice droning on and on combined with the road noise had both backseat passengers nodding off. The driver- my beautiful friend Rach was nodding too- but I think more in agreement than from sleepiness. The road stretched on and on through the most desolate desert I’d ever seen, and as our little rental car buzzed along- I was listing a series of points that life has taught me. (This point was not the most original- but for the sake of time I’ll spare you the rest of the sermon) The honest truth is- the last week and a half was unexpected for me. I expected to fly to Jordan with 2 friends and catch a glimpse of life there. But the entire experience was so much more than I was expecting. So anyhow- you can expect that I’m trying to be concise here- but chances of me sharing piles of pics are pretty good 🙈 So I present to you- the sightseeing side of Jordan. Proceed at your own risk 🙂

* I overuse desolate and expected in this post. But it’s 3 am and I’m dealing with time change realities so please overlook this 😂

Amman was our home base. This amphitheater was built between 131-161 AD. Our entire trip included so many visits to remains of the ancient world.

Like this citadel that’s visible from Rach’s house. Crazy to stand in the same area where Uriah the Hittite was killed…

Or to stand on Mt Nebo looking out into the Promised Land, where Moses stood and looked before he died and God buried him. Wow. Looking at this place of desolation gave me an entire new understanding of the Children of Israel and the challenges they faced.

The Jordan River where John the Baptist arrived from the wilderness and preached repentance. Jesus came too and was baptized here. While we sat on the shore with our toes in the muddy water- we watched the throngs of people on the Israeli side self baptizing (is that even a term?). And I noted the sound of insects (Locust maybe?) and a white dove flew past. (Rach said they are common here- but it seemed appropriate ref Matt 3:16)

The Dead Sea. Wow- such a fun stop. (Notice the streams of minerals) I was not expecting the Dead Sea to be so beautiful. The rich blue in the water surprised me. I guess I was expecting the Dead Sea to be brown- doesn’t that sound more like a death color? Anyhow- it was beautiful. I think the only thing that I remember from 4th grade Social Studies Class was the pic of a guy floating in the Dead Sea reading a book… so if CLP is looking for a new model for their next Social Studies Project… 💃🏻

The unexpected from this memorable stop was the alternating layers of mud and salt on the bottom of the lake. The mud was rich and smooth and felt like it would cost an arm and a leg if you were buying it as a spa treatment. The salt was rugged and sharp and I pulled a centimeter long shard out of my heel. 😬

The Red Sea. Wooooow. I thought the Dead Sea was beautiful- and it was! But nothing prepared me for the Red Sea’s deep blue and turquoise. We spent hours at this clear water: snorkeling, finding the cutest mini shells, dodging purple jelly fish, and solving the worlds problems.

One evening we took a glass bottom boat out over the corral reef and enjoyed seeing the desolate mountains running into the deep blue Sea from an off shore perspective. The unexpected here was the dry heat. It was like being blasted by a gigantic hair dryer. No humidity- just the most friendly warm you can imagine.

Wadi Rum is a national Park in Jordan. And the desert there goes on unendingly. The only thing that breaks up the vastness is the herds of camels, goats, and sightseeing tourists on the backs of pickups. Our visit there was spectacular.

Here I am trudging through the desert on the back of a camel. The camel kneels down to load and unload passengers and it has to be the funniest thing to watch facial expressions as the mount rocks back and forth lowering his bulk to the ground. (Did you know that a camel has what appears to be both a knee and an elbow on each leg?)

Sunset in the desert is the most beautiful thing. 💞

And then came another of my favorite parts of this visit- staying in a Bedouin camp. The food was good, the stars were amazing and our fellow campers were quite comfortable. I was not expecting the quiet. It woke me up at sunrise and I wandered a little ways from camp and just sat and listened to the stillness- other than one fly buzzing past and a camel chewing sage brush the silence was so loud it made my ears ring. Wow.

And last but not least- Petra. We followed through the narrow rock channel until it opened up and we beheld the grandeur of this ancient city. Buildings were carved out of the rock and its believed that this city housed the Wisemen as they headed to visit the Christ child.

Can I just say that I was not expecting to come across so much Bible history on our adventure? I know everyone says that if you visit the Holy Lands it changes your view of the Bible- I can see how that is so true.

The unexpected from this visit was the miles and miles we hiked (9 according to the Fitbit wearers among us) I kept wishing I had a better understanding of the people who had once called this place home. But the mystery remains (partly because I wasn’t curious enough to hire a tour guide 🤷🏻‍♀️)

And because I can’t help myself- do you know what happens when you forget sunscreen in these parts? You get Petrafried 😂😂

And so there it is- a brief rundown of the touristy stops on our stay in Jordan. But is that it? Nope- you don’t get off with only one blog post on this adventure 😉 Expect another post in the near future.

Be blessed,

Kendra

May Daze 💞

As if on the strong, silent wings of an eagle, my spring has glided past. I told Mother that my heart is drinking these days in like a parched desert rain. Maybe I’ve just forgotten. Or maybe this spring is more beautiful than most. Regardless my days have been filled to the brim with my favorites: family and farming. These are the best days and while I’m not spending a pile of time regaling them on the blog, it doesn’t mean I’m not savoring them to the very last drop. So without further ado- here’s a few of my favorite pics from this spring:

Something about that first burst of sunshine the morning after a rain is breathtaking.💞

And the sun setting on the harvest crew is equally as beautiful…

And a storm rolling past while the planter flies through the field… I guess the challenges from ’18 taught me what a gift sunny weather is… so thankful to have the planter parked in the shed until after wheat harvest.. 😅

Let’s just say that one of us was a lot more excited about our meeting than the other 😉 Em and I found this Mama Killdeer during rock picking shenanigans…

And my pond project… I’m so excited with the progress that’s happening at our pond… stay tuned for more info.

And finally… these dumb dogs 😂 insist on traveling along… but get all stressed when I use the back of their pickup to haul anything other than them. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Apparently they are feeling a little crowded today 😂

Yes these are the days. I’m celebrating Thanksgiving in May this year.

Gratefully,

Kendra

Inspiration for the Workday Blues

My dad called me last week, as I sat in a motel room watching the snowflakes hit the Mississippi River. “I’ve got something to read you, Ken” he stated. “Do you have a minute?”

I actually had more than a minute. I was in the middle of a 3 day wait in La Crosse, WI, while my passengers attended a dairy conference, and I welcomed any diversion.

I love the random adventures that my job as a taxi driver brings. But honestly, there are days that really aren’t that much of an adventure, when I question why I so willing head out for a grueling day on the road, and if this is really where I’m supposed to be. Recently, I’ve been verbalizing my questions quite frequently. (My family is the real MVPs for putting up with the roller coaster over here…)

So I guess that was what proceeded my dad’s phone call. Years ago, someone gifted us “The Old Country News” a monthly magazine that has been a standard of my dad’s reading material ever since. And so he read:

“MY WORK    -Author Unknown

Today this is my work. No special skill, no talent great is needed. No mountain-shaking task is mine, so small it seems, so very insignificant, yet let me feel that it is heaven-sent.

Oh, may I be calm and kind! May my irritation be replaced with assurance that I am an instrument through which God’s hand may move, His voice may speak. Perhaps my task is humble, but the way I do it may inspire some other one to do his well- a task that’s greater far than mine.

Or, I may greet a man or woman, boy or girl, who yearns for just a word of hope, a smile of cheer. These may I offer as I hurry by. Just one am I, but one of millions strong.

May what I do reach out and touch the good of them until in unity we stand, arms linked around the world. In my small niche may I love and serve well- through this, my work. ”

(Wisconsin has really missed the memo that April=springtime)

I don’t know what line of work you’re called to- whether you’ve secured your dream job, or not. But when the glamour wears off and your assignment threatens to be an overwhelming taskmaster- may you join me in finding Peace in the niche where God’s led you. After all, we are MILLIONS strong, being faithful to share God’s love with those in our world.

 Blessings,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

The evening before the snow, I strolled along the flooded waters of the Big Muddy, watching a lone eagle soar up and down the river. A frequent train whistle split the silence, as soft sunset colors lit the horizon, and my heart was at peace with the world.

Wisconsin might be confused about which season we are in-but they sure know what’s up when it comes to cheese.

I enjoyed a tour of Organic Valley’s Distribution Center and one of their processing centers during one of my free days.

Also Organic People’s idea of a snack takes an entirely different way of thinking. 🙈

And finally- finished off my week with a tour of the CNHi Racine Plant. Who am I anymore? 😂

A Farmer’s Daughter’s Calling

The couple in the corner watched as the parents in my group herded their children through the welcoming doors of Chick-fil-A. We smiled and nodded as I took note of the man’s trimmed beard and the lady’s neatly folded black veiling- instantly I had a conclusion on their church affiliation. I’m sure they ran a mental checklist on me too. And since we were north of the Mason Dixon Line, I figured that we would both return to our waffle fries and that would be the end of our exchange.

With all due respect to my friends in PA- y’all are great, but the friendly, chatty, “hey where are y’all from” southern hospitality conversations rarely happen this far north. I don’t know why- culture, I suppose. Plus if you took time to interview every Mennonite you see… I guess there’s just not enough hours in a day! So I was surprised when the friendly man and his wife came over and started chatting with our group. His wife’s cousin was a feed salesman somebody knew, and knee replacements and last names were another conversation piece. And then he looked at me “So are you family to this group too?”

“No” I laughed “I’m the driver”

“Really? So you drive for a living?”

“Well, part time. The rest of the time, I’m a farmer”

This news seemed to startle him. “You farm?!”

“That’s right. I grew up on a dairy farm, and we are crop farmers, as well as do some custom harvesting”

Still startled “You run equipment?”

“Yeh some”

“So you work with your husband?”

Again I laughed “Oh no, I’m single- I help my dad.”

And then it was my turn to look startled with his next comment “Well, we know that ladies can do many things as well as men, but we also know that is not their calling. Yes it certainly is not a lady’s calling.”

My eyes probably bulged as I picked my chin up off the floor and rapidly mumbled out an excuse about God leading my life and feeling certain that if His calling on my life is something different, that He will open that door.

In my minds eye, I was seeing headlines in the Public Opinion “Mennonite Woman and Bearded Man Get into Heated Argument at Local Chick-fil-A.” Thankfully (maybe I’m learning 🙏🏼) I didn’t tell him exactly what I had to say. The conversation went back to knee replacements, and I breathed a sigh of relief.


My parents did a wonderful job at recognizing/accepting God’s perfect plan for our family as giving them only daughters. My dad has had nerves of steel when it comes to trusting his daughters with his equipment, and sooo much patience. And my mom has sacrificed continually by having her daughters in the field, instead of in the house. While I understand it may not be completely the cultural norm, it’s worked just fine for us. And furthermore, I know/respect a lot of hardworking ladies in agriculture- our family is definitely not alone in this.

So I came away from that conversation with a reminder of a valuable lesson: Extend Grace.

I am so thankful for the beautiful people in my life who laugh and roll their eyes and love me just the same when I’m more comfortable talking about travel itineraries than canning secrets, or tons per acre and yield maps than dress patterns.

Archives photo from 2013

But mostly, I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who pays attention to every detail- including the welfare of sparrows- and who continues to patiently lead my life one step at a time.

I don’t know why He placed me here, but I’ll tell you what I do know, Mr Beardy Man. I KNOW that my calling is to continue to faithfully walk through open doors as the Lord puts them in front of me, and for now that means farming with my family, and enjoying every minute.

Prov 3:5,6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

A life of faith and trust in God’s leading- isn’t that the calling of each of us?

Kendra

Bonus Pic:

I spent more of my week in PA than I did in the Valley. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the farmers in the fields of Lancaster Co.

It is Well

We probably sounded like a group of excited school children as we trooped down the hill to the excavation site. School kids or a flock of clamoring magpies. Either way, there was no silence in our approach. Questions fired back and forth. And slowly we pieced the few facts we knew together.

Shortly after my grandparents moved onto their farm in Cooks Creek (approx 1963), my 11 year old uncle commented that a cow had stepped into a sinkhole in the pasture. Further investigation discovered a hand dug well, so a neighbor brought a tractor and pulled a huge piece of concrete into position over the hole. The site was covered with dirt and soon became a fertile truck patch for the Rhodes family.

Somehow my cousin Ellis (who rents the farm) learned about the well and took the initiative to uncover it. Grandmother, with her keen 90 year old mind, helped him to find it on the first attempt.

And there it was.

20 feet to the water’s surface , and probably 20 feet of water to the floor. Huge limestone rocks lining the complete hole.

We cautiously peered over the edge until our faces reflected in the pool of water below. There was no end to the words of cation. Everyone was convinced that someone or at least a dog was going to slip and disappear into a watery grave. The constant shower of dirt being kicked over the edge did nothing to ease the fears.

Then we started the fun of surmising. Who was responsible for digging this well in the rocky terrain? How had the rocks been lain in this deep, massive hole especially after the hole started filling with water? Was it the well or the huge hill that was responsible for saving the bank barn during the Valley’s burning of the Civil War? Why did they quit using this well? Is it possible that it’s only full of water thanks to last years excessive rain?

Again we all stared into the reflections in the bottom of the well, as if expecting answers. . But all was silent.

I’m reminded of another battery of questions that took place around a well. This time the questions weren’t centered around the one responsible for digging the well ( our father Jacob gave us this well, and drank this water with his family, and all of his flocks and herds)

Instead the conversation was about the source of water.

Jesus met a lady at the well and after asking for a drink, told her about His gift- a spring of water overflowing that leads to eternal life. Could she believe that He was who he said He was?

The lady hurried away and returns bringing her people and after Jesus spends 2 days with them, they say “NOW we believe, not just because of your story, but we’ve heard him ourselves. This is indeed Christ, the Savior of the World!”

I love the response of the crowd. This suddenly went from being her story, to being personal for each one who met Jesus that day.

How personal is my encounter with Jesus? Do I take other peoples word for what is truth? Or do I pursue it for myself?

I hope the water in my well holds a clear reflection of my Savior- the one who gave His life for me.

Blessings,

Kendra

Bonus Pic:

Spring is the most optimistic time of year ☺️ super thankful for every sunny day