“Is the wood stove going?” That’s about the first question that greets me every morning when I emerge from my downstairs bedroom.
“Ish” is usually the reply, because unless I get up in the middle of the night and throw another log on, my little stove is usually down to ashes and a few bright coals.
“Running a wood stove is a lot of work” I commented as I poured myself a cup of coffee. “I’m going down to encourage it”
My mom brought her coffee and joined me. “It’s not work, it’s a lesson in diligence” she said
This got my brain rolling… a wood stove does teach all sorts of life lessons. Here’s what we came up with, I’d love to hear from you if you care to add to the list:
Spread warmth and cheer equally to everyone near by. This wood stove isn’t partial- its happy to share with anyone and everyone.
Take the time to savor. My stove was a gift from my parents and it has a glass door. I love nothing more than watching the flames dance on a cold morning. In fact, my mom got out of bed to drink a cup of coffee with me before I left for Lancaster earlier this week. We chatted and watched the flames before I had to rush off. Isn’t that what everyone does at 3:30 in the morning? 😂 (she’s a rare gem, also there’s a reason I still live at home😉❤️)
A little honest dirt never hurt anybody. (Continually fighting the ashes and dust over here.)
Where there’s smoke, there could be fire- proceed with caution. I wonder how often the winds of gossip fan a smoldering situation into full blown flames. Oh God, forgive us.
Play with fire/ wind up burnt. When the nephews come to visit, we try to protect them from this reality. The stove is forbidden territory-stay away.
Embrace each season. Winter is my least favorite season, but I’m learning to enjoy the beauty here. (Especially from my easy chair beside my wood stove.)
If you need me, I don’t plan to roam far from this spot 😂🥶
May our eyes be opened to see deeper truths in the mundane of the everyday.
My Ben friend conned me into leaving my beloved wood stove for a bit of winter exploration.
We found plenty of winter on Skyline Drive.
Em and I and River took to the ice a bit ahead of what was sensible just because it’s supposed to snow like mad and it’s been years since Em enjoyed a surgery free winter and was able to ice skate. PtL for healing ❤️
And finally… the change in the air temp created a beautiful eventide a few days ago.
[Jesus] said “ Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
For the past week, Em and I have been savoring some sister time and following that verse to the max.
A friend posted some cheap travel deals on Facebook and we waded in not knowing what to expect.
We purchased an all inclusive 7 night stay at the Ventus at Marina El Cid; Puerto Morelos, Mexico and what a treat it was.
I’d never been to an all inclusive resort before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but the cleanliness of the place; the dedicated, hardworking staff; and the perfect climate made this an adventure I won’t soon forget.
There was plenty to do on the resort, but I’m in a complete glee that we got to join a bike riding tour that took us into town to souvenir shop at the market. I just love market shopping.
At one point our guide had us riding in the middle of a dirt road. “Make a line!” She shouted “Stay in the middle of the road!”
And an older gentleman on the bike ride quipped “In the middle of the road?! Confucius said ‘He who rides bike in the middle of the road gets hit by cars going both ways’!” 😂😂 Thankfully we survived.
I really enjoyed the large variety of cuisine the resort offered. We mostly ate seafood and more seafood.
The weather all week was a mild mid 70s and the resort had pools that ranged in temp for the optimum swimming pleasure. And the Gulf water was gorgeous
Also I love this little sis of mine ❤️ She’s the perfect addition to any adventure.
Also huge thanks to the family who not only consented to us going, but pushed us to do so. If I remember right the exact quote was “that is a crazy deal, why have you not left yet?!” ❤️
But most of all, Praise to our Heavenly Father, who spoke life into this gorgeous creation and who speaks life into our hearts at the best time. This time away from the strain of the everyday life was a good refocus for us.
God knows no limits. Whatever you’re up against, He will provide. It might not always be in the form of a trip to Cancun, but it will always be the appropriate provisions.
Isaiah 61: 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
Yesterday I went to the concordance to see what Scripture said about sprouts. Isaiah 61 spoke to my heart in more ways than about my sprout project. If you need a reminder of where the Lord stands on Justice, read the entire chapter. I’m so thankful that He is in control and that even when our world seems to be in chaos, nothing surprises God and He’s already working ahead of the situation to provide for His Children. Praise Him!
But back to my sprout project: over Christmas when the Rohrer Fam got together, I was supposed to bring toppings for a salad bar. I remembered my mom‘s little container of organic alfalfa sprouts seeds sitting in a forgotten spot in the cupboard. So we did a little bit of research to resurrect the art and I’ve been growing sprouts 1000 mile an hour ever since. 😂
It’s super simple.
Soak a Tablespoon of seeds in a glass jar of cold water for about 8 hours. (Cover the jar with something breathable/drainable like cheese cloth)
Drain and place jar on its side in a cool, dark spot. (Or sit it on the cabinet with a tea towel over it)
Rinse with warmish water multiple times a day. 2 times is good, 4 or 5 times is best. Drain after each rinse.
Several days later (like 4 or 5) once the sprouts have reached desired length, place them in the sunshine for the chlorophyll process to take place. Or if you don’t mind eating washed out sprouts just use them as is.
Store them in the fridge in an air tight container.
But seriously, we’ve been enjoying them on salads and Sweet Lebanon Bologna sandwiches and everything in between.
Em: cute outfits, where are they from?
Jul: I ordered them online for the boys to wear on their first Sunday to church when they were newborn. All I know is that Chinese must have big babies.
Deb is back at Berea teaching school 2 afternoons a week, so Mother and I have been enjoying the chance to hang out with Sweet Baby A. He’s a young sprout, but not a very little one 😂 it won’t be long until he’s caught up with Uriah ❤️
I don’t know if it was because of the slower pace last year, or what, but Christmas 2020 ended up being a lot about handmade gifts.
Some I knew plenty about:
Like this quilt that I made for Ben.
Years ago, I had the patches half done when a number of unfortunate events resulted in water spilled on a few of the unfinished patches and magically erased the blue marking on them. So I shelved them in despair.
Long story short, my mom encouraged me to pull them out and with a few hours of concentration, I was back in business, with the deadline of Christmas 2020 looming ahead.
A neighbor machine quilted it for me, and I was pretty excited about Christmas.
Grammy made the boys each an activity book. She spent hours creating each page with love.
It was fun to watch their reactions. It’s definitely a little over their heads now, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they are “reading” away.
Aunt Jul gave Alexander one of her famous handmade bears. She puts a music box inside him, so he sings. I know Baby A will love it.
Another project I was slightly involved with is Ben’s railroad spike project.
I spent a fair amount of time on an old abandoned railroad last summer in quest of discarded spikes.
Pretty tickled the end results of his surprise for his nieces and nephews too 🥰
And the handmade gift that I knew nothing about:
Julia had my name in our family exchange and she made me a wood box out of a wooden bed. I’m so pleased with it 🥰
I’m also pleased with the little beavers inside the box, but I’m not allowed to keep them 😂
I love how handmade gifts reflect unique talents. And it’s pretty neat how much of that came out in Christmas 2020.
Wishing you the deep calm assurance that God is working ahead of us in 2021.
One of Emily’s friends is overseas for the holidays and her support team asked Em to come up with something for one of the 12 days of Christmas. We kicked a number of ideas around, but eventually settled on an attempt at a nativity scene-babies and puppies included.
What a joke!
We barely were able to get my dad out of the combine seat in time for the pics, so Joseph is a little unsure about his role in all this.
Juls German Shepherd, Dora was frantic that her puppies were in inside the house without her and she kept jumping on the front door, so the German Shepherds were protesting loudly.
The American Shepherds had no idea what was going on, so the one sat in stunned silence while the redhead added his voice to the din-ready to tell the world what he was experiencing.
The angel flitted here and there and the wisewomen rushed back and forth bearing gifts and roadmaps.
The onlookers (aka photographer and videographer) tried to give helpful advice.
And thru it all Mary and Baby Jesus stayed calm and serene.
In the mayhem, I just shook my head.
But then it hit me. There are so many points in our little family skit that made this real to life. Here we are- made up of drama and brokenness and uncertainty; distracted occasionally by the wolf at the door; but still earnestly seeking to capture that Perfect Peace.
What a reason to celebrate that precious gift ❤️ THE Prince of Peace
She’d always liked the quiet mornings before the sun came up. The world was still mostly asleep and it felt like she could do her best thinking then.
She shook her head as she pondered the events of her last year. The beautiful proposal, the famous engagement party/ all things a girl dreams about. Her fiancé was a good man and she was so excited about her future. And thankful- only God could have brought them together.
But then there was a dramatic change of events. Suddenly everything she’d stood for was in question. Her family knew first. She would never forget the shocked look for hurt and betrayal that passed between her parents “wait, what? Didn’t we teach you better than that?” Her mom had cried over how the family reputation would be marred and although she’d tried to explain there was no use. Her current condition spoke for itself.
Talking it over with her fiancé had been far worse. The look in his eyes and the wall that instantly went up left no question what this was doing to his heart. He left quickly after mumbling that he needed “to sleep on this.” She hadn’t slept at all wondering what would become of her. Would he hand her over to the local authorities? The law was clear what was to happen to a single girl in her condition. She wept with relief when he came the next day and promised to love and protect her regardless. She could tell by his face-he knew and believed the truth.
But the rest of the world didn’t know. And everywhere she went she could feel the rumors and accusations. Her peers growing up, the elders at the town square, the neighbor ladies down the street all assumed they knew the truth. Her ears burned when the conversation died as she approached. What should’ve been the most anticipated year of her life flew past in a muddle of pain. Who believed that it was possible to be “with child” before your wedding without committing sin?
Now here they were-far from home in cave outside of town with a perfect baby boy. Sheltered away from it all. She knew she couldn’t change what had happened. She knew she couldn’t fight the stories. She knew she couldn’t dwell on things that were out of her control. So she chose to lay that down and focus on her blessings at hand.
Suddenly her reverie was interrupted by the sound of men approaching. “Honey!” She said with a feeling of alarm “I think there’s someone at the gate”
He hurried to meet the band of men approaching and she watched intently. What would he say? Would he try to explain/justify their current situation?
But he didn’t. He just opened the gate and they came straight in.
They surrounded the manger and she couldn’t believe it as those weathered farmers reverently stroked the face of her Son. “The Messiah our Lord. The Promised One” they said over and over. Finally her fiancé spoke “How did you know? How did you find us?”
Immediately they all talked over each other telling the story of the angel’s visit. A lone angel announced the Christ-child’s birth and then an entire chorus filled the sky praising God. It sounded frightening and yet magnificent.
And with that visit something changed.
She noticed the change immediately the next time they went into town for supplies. Gone was the dark looks of judgment. In its place were looks of curiosity and longing. Could this Child be the Key to the Deliverance everyone wished for? Those farmers had told the details of the angels visit far and wide. She didn’t need to defend her reputation. The Truth won.
Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart.
Mary’s case was unique in that she wasn’t guilty. She hadn’t made a mistake. God sending His Son to the world thru her was a miracle and the events surrounding Jesus’s birth was surreal.
And yet I think there’s a bit of Mary in each of our experiences: less than ideal circumstances create opportunities for the rumor mill to fly. The truth is silent and pain level is high.
I’m challenged by that this Christmas season. Live above the rumors. The truth wins in the end.
I came across this quote from Matthew Henry after a robbery and it challenges me:
“Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
Be encouraged-no matter how tough things are-when you find yourself on the wrong side of community news: truth wins in the end.
Recently there was a German Christmas Market at a farm outside our sleepy town. I’ve been missing all the Christmas get-togethers this year, so it was extra fun.
Mother said it really felt like a German experience. The day we visited the weather was damp and overcast. All the children were bundled up like Eskimos.
Although we had varied ideas of what the “authentic German Brats and sauerkraut” would be- the experience will definitely be one for the books. Also the fact that the truck was run by a deaf man added to the uniqueness of the environment.
Last weekend’s meteor shower was another one for the books. A number of my cousins brought their families and we enjoyed catching up out-of-doors since there will be no large family gathering this Christmas. And the meteors were exquisite.
And last but not least- every photo session of my nephews from here until who knows when:
Good thing Alexander is “tough like Daddy” 🥰 my little guys 💙
It’s me again, Detroit Snapbarker Mendoza. Have you missed me? It’s been forever since I’ve written. In fact- the last time you heard from me was when I received a Purple Heart during harvest by getting several toes amputated. Read that dramatic tale here Dog Tales: Part 2- Literally Chewed Up 🐾 Ugh that was a low point. Sorry to leave you wondering how I was surviving for so long.
Well anyhow I’m here to report that I am. Surviving that is. And busier than usual. And to be honest now that I’m minus on the toes, it takes the joy out of writing. You ought to try typing one time without all of your fingers. Miz.er.able!
It’s no small job to be in charge of border patrol at our farm in Singers Glen. No sir. My assistant Rolo and I take our job very seriously and stage ingenious barking attacks on every farmer who.even.considers to work in the fields bordering our farm. Day and night we are vigilant with our surveillance duties.
Anyhow. So obviously the family around here didn’t think that was enough responsibility. Because next thing I knew- they were working down at the pond. I’d slide down to check on progress, take my daily swim and nose around a bit.
Fascinating. I must say that it was only because of my perseverance that this place finally got up and running. They are quite excited about “Pondside Paradise” as they call it. More on that here Legit cabin fever
And it has been a lot of fun. But guess what happens whenever they host a pond party? Somebody has to do the sniff test on every single vehicle. And do you think the family even thought of that? Rolo and I have a pretty good system worked out. But man it’s tough.
And then they opened this thing up on AirBnB. I have no idea what that stands for. Because I haven’t seen anybody arriving in the air. They just drive in the lane. But my assistant and I have the BnB part down to a science (Bark n Bark).
Again we had to develop a careful strategy on the deal but I think we’re getting it perfected. It goes like this:
Just kidding. Did you really think I was going to divulge our battle plan on a public space?
I will say this: we’ve loved our Airbnb guests. The family doesn’t often meet them, so it’s up to the assistant and I to represent the whole 9 yards and we take this very seriously. We don’t stay long, but just long enough to get bragged on and our ears scratched.
We’ve witnessed some pretty cool stuff: families watching the stars by the campfire; people enjoying a break from busy city life. One couple even came from the U.K. and caught a fish “straightway” they said in the funniest accent. Also got in on this: (I guess they noticed my missing toes and didn’t trust me to take pics of this big event 🤷🏻♀️)
See the little glow to the left of the pic? This couple brought their own lights along. It looked great and made us fit into our neighborhood a bit better 😅😂
And it jump started the Christmas spirit.
We had so much fun bringing some Christmas cheer to the place. But you know what they say?
“But the prettiest sight to see is the Holly that will be on your own front door.”
I’ve never been called “Holly” before but that’s the song I heard playing as I supervised the festivities right outside the front door 💁🏻♀️
Come see us when you get the chance. I promise to go easy on my interrogations.
“Holly” Seasonal code name for Detroit Snappenbarker Mendoza, Head of the Singers Glen Security Division
But he’s more than just a best friend. He’s my boss, occasional partner in crime. He’s the constant that I can always count on to listen and give me sound advice.
His random sense of humor keeps life interesting. His unending energy and work drive keeps me scrambling. He’s shown me by example of what it means to be a godly man.
My father. My hero
For his birthday this year, we ran down the pics from his home on the Mason Dixon Line. I transferred them into a photo book and we waited expectantly til he got home from trucking to open the mysterious package.
Someone did a really good job at capturing life on their farm and family in the 60s.
My dad was the youngest of 4-the only boy. The captions in this family album made me chuckle.
Apparently he got a new hat when he was 3 which merited a photo shoot. Such a cutie. I’m reminded again of how much he and Em look alike.
Today we celebrate you FP (short for Father Precious as Jul calls him) I’m so thankful you were born.
I’ve been humming this song written by Adelaide Procture all week. Crazy how something penned in the 1850s can apply to 2020 so perfectly and so it’s my Thanksgiving challenge to myself. I thought I’d share it with you too:
My God, I thank Thee, who hast made The earth so bright, So full of splendor and of joy, Beauty and light; So many glorious things are here, Noble and right.
I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made Joy to abound; So many gentle thoughts and deeds Circling us round, That in the darkest spot of earth Some love is found.
I thank Thee more that all our joy Is touched with pain, That shadows fall on brightest hours, That thorns remain; So that earth’s bliss may be our guide, And not our chain.
I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept The best in store; We have enough, yet not too much To long for more: A yearning for a deeper peace Not known before.
I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls Though amply blessed, Can never find, although they seek A perfect rest; Nor ever shall, until they lean On Jesus’ breast.
I’ve traveled past this church all my life, but Sunday afternoon was my first chance to actually peek inside a bit. So many questions about the families who worshipped here and when and why this church was abandoned and changed over into a hay shed… Thanks Ben for being my travel agent ❤️ (I’d say tour guide, but someone had already been inside the building enough times dropping off bales, that he didn’t see the need to leave the comforts of his truck, thus leaving his gf to her own explorations 😂)