These Bugs Around Here 🦠 😷🤒💖

I know, I know. Basically the only thing to do these days is to sit at home and read about viruses and sickness and social distancing.

And here I am joining the mayhem.

But the truth of the matter is, we’ve had a fair amount of sickness.

Julia woke up with the flu, and so we are enjoying adorable pics that filter in on our sister chat, while maintaining a safe distance. All except our angel Mother who braved the bug to rock babies and support the situation as best she can

Em also came down with a fever this week. With her recent surgery, we were highly concerned about how rapidly it spiked. But thankfully she kicked it in about a day.

Again we’ve been trying to maintain a healthy distance (except our Angel Mother) so I escaped outside to work on my next Fisher Price book, and Em’s little blonde sidekick was sure I needed help. Thanks, Riv, but this isn’t the type of help I was needing.

Nate took care of any type of homesickness by fleeing to his Rocky Mountains for a week. Cheap flights and time off of school- made this a fairly easy decision… I sent him this meme as he braved the airlines 😂

“Don’t be afraid to go into the mist. Be excited because you don’t know where you will end up.”
-Sophie Madden

And I’ve kinda been bit by a bug myself this winter 😉 I’ve been terribly shy about posting this relationship on social media, but I’m finally getting up the nerve to introduce you to my friend Ben ❤️

At the risk of sounding like a gushy girlfriend- I’m counting my sisters getting over their sicknesses- but me… ?? 😉❤️

Say a prayer for us, if you think about it- that God will continue to lead and guide us as we seek Him ❤️

Social Distancing/ cheap gas prices combined to give us a chance to explore last weekend. The frozen fog at the top of the mountain was beautiful!

It’s definitely spring in the Valley.

Judging from the first Snow Glories in my neighbors yard, we are about 2 weeks ahead of last year.

Anyhow that’s enough from me. May you have a Happy, Healthy Day ❤️ (or find joy and peace in the midst of sickness😉)

Blessings,

Kendra

March’s Mini Morsels (quick photo tour of recent highlights)

To our friends scattered to and fro,

Hello from the middle of Missouri. I’ve been on the road a bit more this week, and since I’m currently spending several days waiting, I thought I’d jump on here and share a few pics.

I’m staying in the cutest little guesthouse. It’s really fun to just be able to entertain myself for a few days.

I went to downtown Versailles and almost got arrested. Well, not really. Those of you who know me well, know that I love to have a project on the back burner. My current project is sharing my travels via postcard with a friend who was recently paralyzed. So as I wandered around the town square, I was on a mission to find a postcard. I saw a little sign pointing towards a “Museum Store” so I followed it and found the store looking rather desolate, but the door opened, so I went in and found my sought after postcard. But try as I might, I couldn’t find anyone to take my money. So I went back out and up the street to the Chamber of Commerce and found several helpful ladies who nearly heart attacked when I told them I’d been in the museum store roaming around. Long story short, they sold me the postcard I’d found, and with a hearty “thank you for reporting this” we parted ways. But I still can’t decide- was I breaking and entering? Or was I a good citizen supporting the neighborhood watch program. I don’t know, but I got my postcard, and that’s what counts. 😂


Monday I was privileged to attend the funeral of Lydia Stoltzfus. Technically I just attended the grave service, because as the driver, sleep took priority to a German church service. She was buried beside her son Amos who worked part time on our farm until his death in July, 2007. Crazy how many memories this brought back. Same white fence, same blue sky… There is no singing at Amish funerals, and I was just amazed again at how silent and solemn the minutes were as they filled the grave. I’m pretty sure even the birds quit singing. One of Amos’s nieces referenced the joyful reunion that she imagined taking place in Heaven… “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”


Em had another knee surgery on Tuesday. She remembered pics from October, 2017… She’s just as cute as she was then, but there’s been definite improvements made in her babysitting charges ❤️

2017
2020

And since I’m sure you wanted to see more pics of my nephews 😂 such roly poly little miracles ❤️ 📷 credit: Ryder Photography


And finally- my sisters are lucky. I mean, for real. My Instagram notifications stay swamped because Em and Deb are always entering giveaways by tagging me. And I don’t mind. And they win. A lot. Jul isn’t on social media, but she still enters drawings and comes away with the prize. Unbelievable.

Dressed Up Threads was hosting a photo contest, where requirements were: wear a dress made from their fabric and post a pic of you doing something with your plant babies or greenhouse related and tag #springfeverwithdressedupthreads The winner receives a Shenandoah dress from Dressed Up Threads. Anyhow as the contest drew towards a close, I mentioned it one more time, and Jul and Mother got on board with brainstorming.

So this is what we came up with for my post.

“We can BEARly wait to come out of hibernation” says Mama Bear “but I know this season of rocking babies and dreaming about springtime will soon be passed”

And would you believe that we were selected as winners? I can’t wait to see Mama Bear in her new dress!

Ok, I’ve rambled on quite long enough.

Blessings on your weekend,

Kendra

No Hablo Espanol- a major regret

I’m not sure how old I was when “no regrets” became one of my life goals, but I set out to seize every opportunity for what it’s worth. I wasn’t going to look back at days gone past and think “if only I had taken that opportunity” I was going to walk through open doors with confidence.

Ah ambitious youth.

In the month of February I spent one entire week of it regretting.

I followed my brave sister Deb all over the land that she loves watching as she flew up and down the streets of Leòn, Nicaragua.

I waited patiently while she bartered for every single purchase I made at the charming Central Cathedral.

I love all the culture that happens in Central…
We came across this street show different times. Who says men can’t multitask? 🤷🏻‍♀️😘

Or at market:

Anybody interested in lightly chewed onions?
Can you spy the guard of the Plantain booth?

Or at the umpteen unique cultural things we came across that I wasn’t sure if a pic was ok or not. And so she’d ask politely, while I stood there mute.

The local leather shop
Fresh Tortillas coming up

I sat through hours of visiting, chugging bottle after bottle of Coke. Sometimes following a bit of the conversation, sometimes not. Sometimes pretending that I understood was was going on with the “Kendra” followed by a stream of words. Sometimes ignoring my name in the conversation and entertaining myself by counting the geckos living on the ceiling.

The walk to visit our friends was super scenic

Sometimes I hid behind my phone and pretended not to hear that my name was being tossed back and forth frantically inside the van as we traveled along.

Or I studied the delicious fried Buñuelos (Yuca thats been grated and fried and drowned in a sweet syrup) while the conversation flowed as I regretted again and again.

Today as I relived our recent travels, my regret surfaced again and I found myself consoling me.

“It’s ok,” I said “everyone has things they wish they could do differently. If you regret that you didn’t study Spanish enough, it is what it is. You know enough to follow a bit of conversation. Quit overthinking it, accept the facts and move on.”

My Spanish journey (or the lack of it) started my freshman year. Somehow I came down with Mono partway through the year and missed 78 days of school. Because Spanish was a classroom credit, I had to drop out halfway through.

The next stop of my Spanish lament was in Guatemala where I was privileged to spend several months in the beautiful Petén. I had the option of arriving a week early and attending language school with them, but opted instead to stay home and milk cows for a week longer- horrible mistake.

So here I am, with a passport full of stamps from Latino countries and barely a one year old’s grasp of the language. Not cool.

And then as I consoled myself with my lecture, I remembered that not only is my brave little Deborah darling being my patient translator/tour guide during our latest adventure; she’s also a teacher at Berea. A SPANISH Teacher. And if I’m truly as regretful about my lack of vocabulary as I claim to be, I’m gonna apply myself to kicking this regret out of the park.

So I don’t know, Deb, can you teach an old dog new tricks and an old brain a new language?

Maybe we should try, but if it’s gonna happen anymore this winter, we’re gonna have to speak quietly- cause we don’t wanna disturb the niños.

Con amor,

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

I didn’t need an interpreter for this part of our adventure:

Our little beachside getaway included air conditioning AND a hot shower
Tajadas con ensaladas

Breakfast with a view 💞

Nicaragua, our short but sweet visit inside your borders was truly delightful. Thank you. Or in my faltering, deeply accented way- “Gracias”

Grow Little Chickens Grow, Grow!!

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this- but I enjoy helping Em with her chickens.

📸 credit: Kerry

If you remember, I have had a longtime phobia of poultry (complete story here ) so the fact that I’m able to wade through 60,000 birds at a time without heart-attacking is shocking in itself.

And the fact that I actually am enjoying it- will miracles ever cease?!

The Weavers got birds earlier this week, so in the early mornings you’ll catch me in my chicken boots, walking through the flock- keeping an eye out for birds who are sick, or injured, or that have passed away.

(Farmer Em here tending her flock)

As I amble along, I beat on a bucket to keep the little rascals out from under my feet. Or I shout encouraging things to get them to move (“Outa my way, chicken nuggets!” seems to get the desired results) and occasionally I’ll burst forth in song- that really makes them scatter.


Years ago we had a 6 year old Fresh Air boy from NYC and my parents taught him this inspirational children’s song:

Sing little children, Sing, Sing

Sing little children, Sing!

God is good- He cares for you,

Sing little children, Sing!

(Damon and I in 1987)

Apparently Damon really got into this song and before they knew what had happened he even wrote his own verses “Burp little children Burp, Burp- God is good, He cares for you…”


Today, as I was marching along, my mind was racing as I prayed over different things that have been on my heart recently and suddenly I did like my friend Damon and my own verse to this song popped into my head:

“Grow Little Chickens, Grow, Grow!

Grow Little Chickens, Grow!

God is good He cares for You

Grow Little Chickens, Grow!”

And the lightbulb clicked on in my brain.

“Are not five [chickens] sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many [chickens].” Luke 12:6-7

I don’t know what’s heavy on your heart today- but I do know- the same God who watches and provides for the millions and millions of fowl around here, cares about me so specially He even number the hairs on my head.

I am chosen. I am loved. I am cared for.

God is good, He cares for ME!

Sing, Little Children, Sing!!!

Kendra

Bonus Pics:

A continued sore throat has kept me away from my little friends- but at least my pic feed is adorable these days 💞 💞

I call this one “Mess with my Brother, and I’ll mess with your face” 😂😂💞💞:

Home

The big hospital doors swung open, and Big Papa strolled confidently through. Carrying a 4 lb 14 ozish package in each hand. (📸 credit: Julia)

The future awaits.

These days are filled with baby snuggles for those of us who haven’t succumbed to the flu.

We love that Isaiah Stan (on the left) favors his great Grandad Stanley Horst. And Uriah Ray (on the right) is a little Sherman Ray II.

The boys are doing well- hungry little beavers, who are growing to be mighty men.

This super excited Grandfather is trying to break them in slowly- he only scheduled one business call for them to sit in on for yesterday’s visit. He’s been exploring their preferences as far as trucks go, and who wants to run the cutter, or the combine. But so far- he doesn’t have a work commitment from them. They just watch him with big solemn eyes.

Grandmother Rhodes at 91 is exciting meet her second set of Great-Grands. (📸 credit: Sherman)

Mother found a verse in Psalms while thinking about these little blessings and what their future will be. A promise to all of us: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulnescontinues through all generations. Ps 100:5

Our hearts (and hands) are full.

Thank you, Jesus!

Aunt Ken

The Wait is Over

“Our family Christmas is December 23 this year” my mom announced.

“Who has Christmas Day?” I wasn’t trying to challenge the game plan, but I’m learning that special holidays have to be shared with the increase of in-laws and conflicting schedules.

“Nobody” mother said “but Julia’s been thinking all along that she’s going to be in the hospital by Christmas. In fact Sherm is convinced the twins are coming on December 25. So Jul requested that if she’s still at home on Monday, that we celebrate early.”

Monday night was a wonderful time. The guys provided crab legs for the feast and other than Em discovering that her shrimp allergy now includes crab legs (😭) the meal was relaxed and wonderful. We enjoyed uninterrupted time of family.

We moved downstairs to the family room and relaxed around the fire for our gift exchange. I love these people. Soon Nate had his brand new record player clicking and whirling and Sherm had his bear hide that Em had tanned to surprise him spread out over the floor. I sat my coffee cup on the cedar end table that Jul had made me and smiled at the chaos. I thought about the changes we’ll be facing soon as we thoughtlessly discarded wrapping paper on the floor in our haste to discover what the package contained (clearly not worried about who was going to chew on potentially harmful plastic bags) Ah yes, Family time is precious.

And yet in the back of all of our minds was a feeling of suspense. Like an intense waiting game. Sherm thought for a game we should all write down guesses- twin genders, names, DOB “AND” he suggested proudly “whoever is closest gets the first call” This game idea got lost in the chaos but not before Father declared he “couldn’t wait to take his twin granddaughters trucking”

But the wait continued.


As I read the Christmas story this year, I understand the waiting a bit differently. The world was waiting and had been for years. They knew the promises- had them memorized probably from childhood. But when would the Promised Savior come? What would He look like? What if they missed Him? I’m sure the buzz came and went as generations expected Christ to come. But the waiting continued.

Suddenly things changed. There were angelic visits. Joseph and Mary’s relationship endured all kinds of trauma as the accusations of unfaithfulness and sin floated around. They somehow made an 80 mile trek to Bethlehem before the birth. So many random events leading up to Christ’s coming “that it might be fulfilled.”

I even understand the Shepherds differently this year, as I pull my barn boots out of the cobwebs and make that familiar trek to the barn. One commentator that I read mentioned the fact that it’s possible the Shepherds were watching the lambs used for sacrifices in the temple. So when the angels arrived announcing that THE Sacrificial Lamb- the One who would take away the sins of the World- had been born, basically they were given the gift of retirement. “Your replacement has arrived. Your job will soon be over”


Christmas Evening, the hired men were off, so I was scheduled to help Sherm milk. “Well, not sure you’re gonna get Christmas babies” I commented in passing

“Yeh,” he said “just a few more hours”

About 16 cows later Sherm informs me “It ain’t over yet” and next thing I knew I was milking alone while reinforcements in the form of Mother and Em were sailing my direction to help with the remaining chores.

Christmas Evening, our family was given the most exciting gifts.

Uriah Ray (middle name of both Sherman and his Papa) weighed 3 lbs 12 oz. Uriah “God is my light”

And Isaiah Stan (my dads first name is Stanley) weighed 3 lbs 15 oz Isaiah “the Lord is my salvation”

Aunt Sharon suggested “the Lord is my light, is my light and my salvation” as a family theme song.

And I love that

Uriah is so excited to meet the aunties.

Isaiah sleeps through the first of many selfies

(Will not admit how many trips to the local hospital per day my family is averaging 🤷🏻‍♀️😂😂)

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27:1

May you grow to understand this verse fully, my little men. Welcome to this beautiful world. We are so glad you’re here.

Ok, gotta run, there’s a few chores I gotta see to until my replacements grow enough to take over for me

Aunt Ken

God keeps His Promises 🌈 and uses the Ark Encounter and a wreck as reminders

If you get a chance to visit the Ark Encounter is Kentucky- do it!

If you get a chance to visit the Ark Encounter during Christmas time with all the incredible light shows- by all means- do it!

If you get a chance to visit the Ark Encounter during Christmas time when God’s Bible School and College is putting on their Christmas performance- oh my- don’t just stand there- pack your suitcase and rush that way!!

Several weekends ago, my dad took a bus load of people to Kentucky for the weekend, and I was privileged to be included on the adventure.

Archive pic from a previous, more summery visit

I’ve visited the Ark different times, but I’ve never spent most of the day there.

I enjoyed the relaxed day of wandering through the grounds- exploring the ark in detail, eating a leisure lunch at Emzara’s buffet, meeting the variety of animals out in the petting zoo. It was a good day.

I love the reminders of Gods faithfulness, His provision, and His plan to provide a way of escape for those who worship Him. God keeps His promises- the Ark does a wonderful job of making that fact clear.

Mid afternoon we made our way to the Answers Center where God’s Bible School and College where sharing their Christmas musical.

For the next 2 hours, my heart swelled with praise and worship as the choir started in the Beginning of Time as Adam and Eve were led away from the garden after sin has entered the world; visited Abraham as God told him of things to come. Elizabeth rejoiced when she got a visit from Mary and they celebrated the upcoming birth of the Promised Child. The Shepherds excitement over the announcement of Christ’s birth was thrilling. But my favorite was the reaction of the man born paralyzed, the woman taken in adultery, and the man born blind when Jesus touched their life and offered them grace.

“Yes!” I thought “it’s so clear- all along God promises that a Messiah would come. For years people waited and waited. And then He came and conquered death so extensively, offering a way of escape for all of us even however many 1000 years later. What a difference Jesus makes in lives today. This is beautiful. God keeps His promises!”

As I stepped out of the auditorium, night had fallen, but the entire Ark Encounter grounds had turned into a rainbow forest. Everywhere were the beautiful array of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Reminding me again- God keeps His promises.

What I didn’t know, as I rejoiced in the beauty and wonder of my worship service- back in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, God was at work.

My darling sister Em left a birthday party for a nephew, and was heading down an unfamiliar road after dark in typical Em fashion (hammerdown). A brief moment of inattention at a bend in the road, and Em’s car shot up a bank and sailed through the air. Luke Duke would’ve been proud as she went airborne.

We went to see her as soon as we got home from KY. “I hit a tree about 10 feet in the air and then fell forever. They say that when an accident happens- it goes so fast- you don’t even know what happened, well that’s fake news- I knew exactly what was happening the entire way, but I was powerless to stop it.”

When her car finally stopped at the bottom of a 20-30 foot ravine, the emergency worker in Em immediately took over as she discovered A. She was still alive and B. After a head to toe assessment, she wasn’t even hurt.

The impact was great enough that her rearview mirror was ripped off the windshield even though no glass was broken. And other than major whiplash and some issues from the seatbelt- she walked away rejoicing.

R.I.P. little blue Dart

When the pics started arriving and we pieced the story together- Mother and I both cried at the reality of Gods protection over Em. God does keep His promises.

I don’t know what battles you’re facing. And I know that the fact is- Gods promises don’t always protect us from tragedy. I also know, that He is Faithful and whatever difficult thing might be next, He will provide what we need in that moment.

Take a minute in this busy week to recognize what He’s providing in Your World.

And if you see Em around, give her a fist bump or shake her hand (or hug her gingerly- because sore ribs don’t leave overnight) and thank God for allowing us one more Christmas season with her 💞

Praise Him,

Kendra

Winter Wonderland on the Oregon Trail

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!” -Thomas Wentworth Higginson

My most recent adventure found me looking winter fully in the face, and honestly/shockingly, loving every single minute of it. Lol

I don’t like winter. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the drab. I just plain down don’t like winter.

But when a friend mentioned the need for someone to drive a car across the continent this December- I jumped at the chance. My friend Ben agreed to help me tackle the challenge. And away we went.

We left the Valley as a freezing rain settled in. With thankful hearts we watched it in the rearview as we motored our way west.

Snow flurries in Nebraska

And although we didn’t get into a full blown wrestling match, Winter kept nudging us along the entire trail. And really, it added so much beauty to the journey.

Admittedly when I agreed to the trip, I immediately remembered all the stories I’d heard about snowstorms in the Rockies. “Winter travel is no joke” they said “a storm will come up and they shut down the interstates immediately.”

“Wow” I thought ” Can we do this?” So we committed our journey to God, and watched as He took care of us. Time and again and again.

A beautiful-9°F sunrise in Wyoming

I kept pretending that I was exploring the Antartica or at least was an ice trucker- 🥶😂 can’t imagine their view is much different from this.

Utah felt a little bit less like a wilderness. But still beautiful.

We grabbed a delicious meal at Jakers in Twin Falls, Idaho. The fact that they serve mainly food raised in the northwest added a local flare that was perfect. We walked out on the bridge spanning the Snake River and watched several guys jumping/parachuting the 486 feet to the bottom of the canyon. It was a bit above the temps we’d encountered in WY, but still a very chilly descent.

And Oregon 💞 I have never experienced such a glorious wintery sunrise as I did the first morning in Oregon. The fog froze onto everything in the 0° temps and the world was a magical kingdom.

Praise the Lord.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,

    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;

    his understanding has no limit.

He spreads the snow like wool

    and scatters the frost like ashes.

He sends his word and melts them;  he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Praise the Lord.

Excerpts from Psalms 147

As we traveled along, we drank in the vastness of the open road, the complete solitude of the eastern part of the state, and enjoyed the ride.

2,770 miles into our trip, found us delivering the car to its new family with super thankful hearts. Praise God for watching over our journey.

And because I had scheduled in a bit of extra time before our flights home (in case Winter stopped us in our tracks) the adventure wasn’t quite over. ☺️

Crater Lake:

The West Coast:

This finds me back home again, curled up beside my wood stove, reliving the journey. But mostly, just thanking God. The unique variety in His creation is wonderful. And the opportunity to experience so many good things just leaves my heart overwhelmed. He is such a good God. 💞

Praise Him,

Kendra

👶🏼👶🏼 Baby Shower builds anticipation

This weekend, several of Julia’s friends hosted a baby shower in honor of her and the 2 little Showalters we are so anxious to meet. Julia’s nursery is decorated in forest animal theme, and the shower carried the same idea.

Julia carefully selected a date for the celebration when all of Sherman’s sisters were in town. The nieces were super fun to watch. (And listen to lol)

“I always thought showers would be BORING but this is TERRIBLY MUCH FUN”

“I sure hope I have twins because you get WAYYYYYY more gifts.”

This gift came anonymously with name tags “Miriam” (Sherman’s grandmother) and “Margaret”(Julia’s grandmother) pinned on the front of their sleepers.

So thankful for a Heavenly Father who answers prayers liberally.

Baby A and Baby B we are getting closer and closer to ready for your arrival 😍

Aunt Ken

Bonus Pic:

Sneak Peak of Julia’s nursery. Mother made the wall hanging. Emily made the pillow. Another friend made the blanket… these babies have no idea how loved they are already 💞

Wistful

I always feel this way in November. The gray clouds billow across the sky, the cold seeps under the door , crosses the room and engulfs my heart.

If you’re missing your swans- they came here

I try to analyze my feelings as I hurry to help get the last of the crops into storage before the snow flies. I give myself a stern talking to: “ ok, KH what’s up?! We’ve had a wonderful year- God has blessed us with a strong growing season, and a safe harvest-the grain bins are all slam full. Your health is the best it’s been in awhile. You’ve got some exciting things coming up. Why the wistful feelings?”

Photo credit: Emily

But I know the answer: Winter.

Don’t get me wrong- I love a good snow. I love the ice skating parties that happen occasionally. I really do enjoy the slower pace.

But somehow the winter blues always hit me the month of thanksgiving. I look back at the beauty of seasons past and I look at the empty calendar days ahead and I wonder…

My 91 year old Grandmother is well past the fall season of her life and yet I get the same feeling of wistfulness from her too.

She looks back at the beauty in seasons that she’s experienced and looks at the bleak winter ahead of her. And she wonders…

My mom recently found a sweet poem written by my Great Grandmother Stella Good about her feelings about my Great Grandfather. Her wistfulness is quite obvious.

To my Husband

Honest, dependable, kind and true

These are fitting words for you,

Working hard from morn till night

To make anothers burden light

Lifes hard struggles, but endears

And love grows stronger through the years

 

Years have gone by, more than a few

Since these lines were penned to you

And vast the changes we have seen

In the long years that intervene

And our Infinite God has planned

Much that we cannot understand.

 

He knows why sorrow strikes us all

Sad partings come and teardrops fall.

For more then two and sixty years

We’ve share each other’s smiles and tears

But the time has come that we must part.

And I am left with a sorrowing heart.

 

Now my beloved, you have gone.

But memories sweet and love live on

You cannot return to me ‘tis true

But praise God, I can come to you

O the blessed hope, of Eternal years

With no more partings and no more tears.

May the winters ahead be gentle on us all, as we live our lives carefully, looking forward to the Eternal Years where the seasons never change

Be Blessed,

Kendra

Bonus Pic:

Recently Em helped me drive all night to get a family home for a funeral. We stopped by Gatlinburg, TN after we had our passengers delivered and Em insisted that I walk the 600 foot swinging bridge with her. I’m still not a big fan of heights, but I didn’t die this round- so that’s positive 😂 super thankful for her flexibility and willingness to travel with me and turn a big job into an adventure