Would You Consider Making a Difference?

Are you busy this summer? I’ve got a mission trip for you.. Well a project anyways.. The cost is basically nothing  just a little extra food, and some time. It’s guaranteed to be an eye opening experience and if you see that it not something you can handle there are chair people who can help bail you out. Dates are flexible. AND you don’t even have to leave the comforts of your home..
Fresh Air Fund is looking for volunteers. Host families and we need you! Every summer, they send children into all parts of the country. And are always looking for volunteers to make the difference in the life of a child.
My parents have been involved with this ministry for years. They recall that there used to be multiple busloads of children coming into the area. While the number of host families has increased in our area in the last number of years the need is still tremendous.


Several years ago, Mother escorted a bus down from the city. Apparently they over book the number of children leaving from the city in case someone doesn’t show, and as the bus pulled away from the station, there stood a handful of little guys, solemn black eyes, suitcase in hand, no place to go.. Heart breaking. Last year 900 children applied that there were not host families for.. I was trying to think how many children that is.. More than all the private schools in our area combined? Can we change that number?
Why host a Fresh Air Child? My parents started in the mid 80s before I was born, so it’s been a childhood project for me. I remember how Damon would harass me by stealing my favorite blanket and taking it out and loading it in our car trunk and claiming it was going to NYC with him. I’d be so mad! I’d cry and report to Mother and thought I couldn’t wait for him to leave. But then the morning that he’d head out and for a while afterwards I’d cry.. I like having a big brother.

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Way back when.. These old photos are not excellent quality..

Looking back, it was also priceless bridging culture and race issues. I learned so much. Not everyone was like me, and I knew that always, thanks to my exposure to the FAF. Mother says often that she thought that hosting a child would make a big difference to that child.. And it does.. But it also opens our eyes to what we have.. Beautiful countryside and a loving home.. The world is ours.
We’ve had 5 different children since Damon first came in ’84 . I’m not sure what percentage of Fresh Air children come from a 2 parent home, but it’s not very high. It’s interesting to notice how they gravitate toward the parent that is missing in their life. We have the opportunity to show them that life is not only as they experience it. We have contact with 3 of them.. Damon brought his son for a visit, sends pictures at Christmas, calls frequently and texts my dad “Happy Father’s Day”. Gladys showed up for a visit last summer YEARS after we had lost contact with her. We look forward to seeing Karen again this July..
Last night was a Host Family banquet and a number of families shared why they host year after year.. And the common heart cry was the opportunity to share the gospel with these children.. Name one other way that you can take an impressible inner city child and spend 10 days each summer breathing truth into.. In the comforts of you home. I love it. It’s like the “Great  Commission” in reverse. You don’t need to go into all the world when you can bring children from Asia, Africa, Puerto Rico, America, the Philippines, etc into your house! 🙂

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They aren’t hard to entertain. They are just children needing some Tender Loving Care, and we can all spare a little.. Blowing bubbles, swimming, the stars in the night sky, the feeling of grass beneath bare feet.. The need to be loved and hugged and appreciated for the special child that God has created.. Things that I grew up with every day, but things that these children and their “trying to make ends meet, working two job” parents never have the time, or opportunity..

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We are so blessed, can you afford to share a little? Please join us in making a difference for eternity! Contact you local Fresh Air Chairperson

Bonus Pic:


Quality time with Kalila


Emily’s scrap quilt “Farmers Daughter” has finally made it to the one piece stage..:)


This week found me-in Kentucky.. Tobacco Farm area.. This was a mural painted on a “sea wall’ along the Ohio River

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We visited an Amish bird feeder making factory.. It was amazing.. Sorry my stealth photography attempts are low quality. They hire girls because they are faster with the staple guns. Each feeder is made up of 34 pieces, and it took 3 minutes for one to make it down the assembly line. It was very interesting to watch in action. Every hour they switch stations, and were hoping to beat the record of  504 a day.. I turned the label over and saw a little horse and buggy and read “Made by Amish sold only by Pennington..” So if you are at Wal-Mart purchasing a bird feed and notice where it was built-I may have seen that happen.. 🙂


Of Spring Seeding, Swans, and Such..

“So where are your swans this spring?” The seemingly innocent question floated up from the back of my van.. Quickly the lady riding shotgun filled me in on the background.. 9 years ago, they purchased a pair of swans. Now swans are lifetime partners, but this couple have had their share of marriage problems. Spring time makes it worse.. During the spring they roam all over the neighborhood living on one body of water after the next. Several years ago they had a complete divorce and the drake moved down onto a neighbor’s pond and live in solitude for a number of months. I wonder what made them decide to try again, but they are working out their differences, and living together in peace.. But still moving from pond to pond.. Their owner lamented that they weren’t as docile as the Silver Lake swans who have lived out their life happily patrolling the shining waters, smiling sweetly whenever a wedding party happens to show up.. And he finished the tale with this.. “I have made the statement that I will not go and try to corral those wayward swans home from any other ponds.. I am done.. But I am currently trying to talk my wife into doing the honors..”

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The glamorous swans at Silver Lake

I was in OH this past weekend, and upon arrival, I noticed right away outlaws must be a real problem out there..


Apparently the bluebird nests are under attack from the Starlings, and so this sneaky hunter was using his buggy for a blind.. Some of my passengers thought it would be awesome to lift the weapon, so it disappeared as the owners were away gather sap from the forest. I spent the night there and wasn’t expecting the Man of the House to start in on the fact that thievery had really picked up since the vanload of Virginians had arrived, and I attempted lamely to pass it off by wondering what he was talking about and outlaws and non-resistance.. I reported to my crew that they had been discovered and so while he was absent-they tied the .22 to his bird house and hoisted it in the air. Fortunately due to a tip from an anonymous source, he retrieved the gun in front of the pending snowstorm.. The next day, as we were preparing to leave the area, we stopped by his house for some maple syrup and saw the buggy blind and .22 back in position. We were very tempted to harass him a little more, but as we were nearing the buggy we realized the hunter was included.. OOoops, so we meekly went on our way, laughing.. Harmless fun.. (Since no one got shot..)

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Emily got the favorite daughter status by helping Mother plant garden. The next day it snowed and snowed, and I remembered one year when Grandpappy  planted his peas and it was a blizzard the following week. We called Pappy to see how his peas were. His smart remark: “When I look at my garden, I see white-They must be blooming..”


Julia and Sherman up at Shenandoah Family Farms, touring the Plant.. Cool outfits 😉

Life tends to be a roller coaster.. Sometimes things go really good, sometimes not so well.. Sometimes things happen that make me incredibly happy, sometimes I’m really sad.. Sometimes sunshine, sometimes snow.. I’m so thankful for a God who’s love is constant no matter where I am on the journey.. This week I experienced that journey in the form of a snow storm the first of the week, and kayaking this weekend.. It was so much fun to feel the warmth in the sun! But I’ll have to confess to praying frantically to not tip during certain whitewater stretches.. No denying the water had not experienced the warmth I was feeling from the sun..

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Please Sweet Summertime and the warmth of happiness-Hurry a little.. 🙂



And Yet, I Cry..

To the little boy who’s funeral I took passengers to on Monday:

Precious Little One,

As I sat in my van watching all the buggies and vanloads and a bus roll in, I was impressed.. For 2 short months, you were a gift to this earth. That’s not very long.. You didn’t manage to do anything spectacular .. In fact you hardly were able to do anything.. Sleep, cry.. Open your eyes and observe the people around you.. Yet somehow your life brought people from Illinois, New York, Virginia, and all over PA to remember you..


As I watched the group at the grave.. I cried.. It’s really not fair.. You missed out on so much.. When we were at your home, a big black lab stood beside the barn, head cocked slightly wondering what the huge crowd was about-you will never experience the joy of owning your own dog-teaching him to fetch, romping with him in the yard-at least not in this life.. You will never enjoy the delicious feeling of a good swim on a hot summer day, or an invigorating snowball fight.. You will never know how amazing a cup of coffee and a home cooked meal can be after coming in from chores.. You will never play ball with your peers, or square dance like the people in your area are known for..

Yet my tears puzzle me.. You will never ever be tempted.. No disappointments, No pain.. You’ve made it.. Safe in the arms of Jesus.. Forever.. No big decisions.. No misunderstandings.. You’ve already accomplished what I hope I will some day.. Safe at Home..

Maybe part of the reason for tears is because of the unfairness of life.. As I watched the crowd, I thought of how many thousands of children had their lives taken from them before they have a chance.. And the only thing left is a feeling of relief from the ones who were supposed to love them.. This battle goes on alone.. Your family is left with such a support.. What a blessing.. You, nor they, have any choice.. You didn’t pick your family. You-like me-did nothing to deserve a loving family.. It just happened.. And to so many – that’s foreign.. It’s not fair..

And so, Little One – who’s name I never did catch.. I cry..  Not for you and your comrades who have safely reached Heaven.. But for us still here making our way on this earth.. Life is hard.. It teaches hard lessons.. And some glorious day, I hope I can become acquainted with you, as we surround the Throne, Praising our Loving Heavenly Father..

But until then.. Rest In Peace, Little One,


Bonus Pics: (Credit To Emily and Deborah)

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With the brief reprieve of Winter, Emily spent the day fishing.. But since she fished all day and caught only one fish.. Her friend, Kerry fired up the grill.. Delicious, Mr W.. 😉


Sunset at Dry River..





The Sugar Shack

Years ago, Mother left her very unsure oldest daughter in charge of making lunch with a detailed description on the proper way to cook peas, ending with “be sure to go easy on the salt..” So you can bet I did.. I served them with fear and trepidation.. And asked my family what they thought.. Father’s comment was.. “Well these taste like they are from a neighboring county.. Bland County..” Lol We all laughed at that.. Pass the salt, please..

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Last Wed, I thought of that a lot, as I had opportunity to visit that neighboring county.. I had a day trip to a sugar camp. What a great experience! I enjoyed the entire process from the sitting in the cabin, eating fresh pancakes covered with maple syrup, tasting the maple sugar, drinking coffee with maple syrup.. To entering the sugar shack..


That was incredible.. The sap was kept in an old bulk tank outside and entered the building to a warming tank.. From there it went to a trough where it was thoroughly heated and the impurities were constantly being lifted off.. Eventually it went to the final trough were the boiling continued.. The air was filled with steam and wood smoke, and it had such a delightful sweet scent to it.. I could’ve just stood there sniffing for hours.. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one of syrup, so all that water has been evaporated off.. It was interesting to observe that the boiling point was a different temperature due to the altitude of this “neighboring county”.. Once the syrup has been boiled down to a certain point, it is ran thru a filter, and put on a gas burner where it is heated to “red line” and then packaged away for the next pancake supper..


Sap only runs during warmer days, so we waited until afternoon to check the trees.. That was a fun muddy experience.. My decision to buy rubber mats for my van was again reaffirmed.. And yes, Somehow I did get stuck.. March Mud.. It was really good to be out enjoying the sunshine, stomping over the hills and fording streams, visiting maple trees that had been tapped, emptying the 5 gallon buckets of clear, slightly sweet liquid into the transport buckets and carrying them back to the big tanks to return to camp.. What a splendid day! Beautiful Spring time!


My travel companions were a group of young people this time, and I enjoyed watching their energy.. They split wood for  hours, trekked happily through the woods on a tour, made short work out of collecting the sap, pushed my van out by hand, and put in a 20 hour travel day like it was nothing .. “And Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..” Col 3:23


And so, I smiled as I drove in Paradise Lane, with my fresh bottle of syrup.. My heart is full.. What an educational, enjoyable day..

Bonus Pics:


This was something very unusual that I wish someone would have an explanation for.. It was ice crystals growing out of the ground.. Someone described them as looking like mushrooms.. Someone else said stalagmites, But it was big patches of 2-3 inch tall little ice columns coming up out of the ground.. Creation is Marvelous!!


Note from Head of Ranch Security: You sure can’t get good help these days.. This is getting ridiculous.. I finally about have that worthless Rolo trained to being a half decent assistant, Then Julia shows up with the boyfriend, ends up marrying him, AND brings in this worthless little rug rat to the barn everyday.. Ok, so she is kinda cute, and may have a little potential.. But a German Shepherd?! And she has SO much energy.. And I can tell that she’s trying upstage me.. I’m just not convinced.. Will report later.. As always -Detroit

From the editor: Introducing: Kaleela Ivy or Kalila Margarete (not sure which)

The Long Winter

To our friends scattered to and fro,

Hello from the Beautiful Shenandoah Valley.. One evening recently, Mother and I were out attempting to deal with the fact that all the water in our calf house was frozen and there were 25 babies expecting warm milk sooner rather than later.. Finally I’d had it.. And I proceeded to explain exactly how cold I was and how miserable this is and how SICK I am of winter.. And Mother- in her calm wisdom had two points to make.. #1: Kendra is the only one in the entire state that has had to deal with cold weather.. #2: it’s only been like this since the first of Nov.. We are all sick of it..

The forecast looks rather foreboding..  Not sure how it’s gonna mix with the fact that we have a number of plans to travel this week..


We tried to keep the dogs from knowing that ANOTHER snowstorm is headed our way.. But somehow Detroit must have discovered.. “I know, ol boy.. Kinda feel the same way myself..”

I was really concerned I was going to cry at Julia’s wedding.. We obviously all were, because Emily googled “tips to not cry”. Google has wisdom for everything.. They suggested looking at the ceiling, focus on your breathing, doing multiplication in your head.. Basically think about something other than what is at hand.. So before she walked up the aisle, she turned and whispered to me “What is 284 x 7..”  So I guess I’m using the same idea to combat being fed up with cold, wet, drab time at hand.. I need to focus on something else.. On things to come.. Times of warmth and sunshine and beauty..

And so I went to Scripture.. Here’s a few thoughts that blessed me.. And -of course- Paul’s testimony: “I have learned, in whatsoever state (or season) I am, therewith to be content..” Still working on that one..

For lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing of the birds is come. And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green leaves, And the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one and come away.. Song of Solomon 2:11-13

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O sing unto the Lord a new song; Sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name.. Declare His glory.. The Lord is great.. For all the gods of the nations are idols, But the Lord made the heavens.. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary..Give unto the Lord glory due unto his name.. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; Fear before Him all the earth.. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.. Before the Lord, for He cometh..to judge the world, with righteousness and his truth..  portions of Ps 96

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Hang on there, my friend.. Warmer days are coming!! Blessings, Kendra

Bonus tales:

We were on the way home from a wedding last night that was 2 hrs south of here. Julia and Sherman took our GPS because Father knew the way.. So we started out following them, and Father said “Give Sherman a call and tell him that I have never travelled through here without seeing radar.. Sherman should, maybe, watch his speed..” So I relayed the message.. Within about 20 minutes, we were coming down a hill into a construction area and before we had even entered, we saw the lights come on and knew we were nailed.. Ah.. Father did his typical-jump out of the car, and apologize and confess and all the other things that I hadn’t seen for a long time since we don’t travel together as much, and he hasn’t met up with that type of authority in an impressively long time.. From our perch in the back of the van, Deborah commented that it looked like this State Trooper was Asian or something.. The cop was very kind and asked what we were travelling from and let my dear dad off with a much lesser fine.. And we went on our way-pondering how Sherman had skated on through, how many of the people from the wedding had passed by, as we sat in front of the blue lights,  grateful the cop had been kind, but a little frustrated because we try to be law abiding.. Probably not 15 minutes later, Father’s phone rang and it was one of his friends.. “So you met a little Chinese fellow just a little bit ago?” To make a long story a little more brief- Our cop friend had discovered another speeding minivan, and had asked “Are you coming from a wedding? You have the same accent as the last guy I stopped..” Business was really booming.. And the Treasurer of the State of VA smiles as those yellow tickets return with cash in hand..

Julia and Sherman have been so blessed by generous people.. One of the last gifts they received made them smile.. Sherman was exclaiming over how neat it was, and Julia called to his attention that it was the exact gift he had selected for that couple at their wedding almost a year ago.. 🙂 what a coincidence.. Another instance of “what goes around comes around,” I suppose..