“Aunt Ken?! You, you feel bedder?” My nephews ask me this almost every time they see me. And every time they manage to sneak Mama’s phone and send a WhatsApp message.
It melts me and breaks my heart at the same time. Highs and Lows. I love it that they care, I hate it that I’m still limping along.
My writings feel like they’re kind of in the same slump- rotating around the next doctors report. Waiting for something to change. Lows because I’m not very patient and want to snap my fingers and be moved past this part of my story. Highs- because God is in His mercy has gifted me so much.
Today as I meandered in our little lane, it hit me all over again, what a gift this life is. I’ve spent a lot of time the last little while just trying to get my head above the waters. Today I want to give you a brief photo tour of the current highs and lows I’m processing 🙂
Today marks Day 13 since our Main Farmer left the Farm in my underskilled care. I was pretty nervous about this, but I’m having a blast. (Don’t tell Ben though, because I do hope he comes home soon.)
The birds are growing like crazy and it’s an incredible process to watch. They love to perch wherever they can. (Highs)
I’m not alone on this process. Em got out of bed early every single day while she didn’t have birds to come and help me. Mother’s filled in different times too. Ben’s brother Clarence swings by the farm often to double check my ventilation settings, etc. (Highs)
Basically as soon as Ben walked out the door, an intruder snuck in through a passage in the cinder block footers, and we lost a few birds to the varmit. So here’s Em and a can of Great Stuff securing the boundaries. (Lows) But it’s definitely slowed him down so I’m very thankful. (High-ish)
I managed a trip to Horseshoe Curve! It’s been months since I felt up to traveling, so a day trip was definitely a High.
Other highs include hearing from my hunter… High on the mountainside in Gibbonsville, Idaho.
Big temperature change but the locals say that’s great for getting animals to move. (low temps and a higher chance of an elk encounter) 🙏🏼
And I’ve enjoyed a number of unique social opportunities during my time as a hunters widow… The annual barn party was a definite HIGHlight
A Ladies Lunch hosted by my cousin Kate while her husband was out of town… in Idaho… hunting elk… Food that was as beautiful as it was delicious ❤️ Another high.
A backyard bonfire with cousins…
Quality Harvest time with two of my favorite little farming enthusiasts.
In a crazy sort of way, triaging my camera roll is good for me. Life doesn’t need to focus only on the things we wish we could change. There’s so much more here. Blessing upon Blessings.
Thank you Jesus, for being constant in the highs and lows of life ❤️
Random travel nugget: I found the History of Horseshoe Curve and WWII very fascinating. There was an attack planned on this main east to west trade route. Hitler sent eight saboteurs to “blend in and, when the opportunity presented itself, to wreak havoc on key industrial sites.” But 2 of the 8 turned on the others and went to the FBI before anything was carried out. 😅
I thiiiiiiiiink this is the last garden update for ‘22…. This zucchini plant produced from the first of July until last week. It sure was worth the money… especially since Julia started it in her greenhouse and gifted it to me 😂💪🏼
My phone rang. The ID announced it was a friend I hadn’t heard from in awhile. “Kendra! How are you? I keep checking your blog, but you haven’t updated.”
It’s true. I’ve been silent for over a month. Basically because there’s not much to say.
“Well at least post and tell us you’re ok!”
Two Sundays ago, our pastor had a last minute change of plans, so the morning service was spent in the Word. Anybody who wanted to could read whatever passage they felt like sharing. Admittedly I cried at the reading of Psalms 103:
2Bless the LORD, my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits;3Who pardons all your guilt, Who heals all your diseases;
A beautiful sunset rainbow reminded me again “God keeps His Promises!”
Anyhow I guess the reality that I’m still waiting on God to touch my body with healing has kept me from posting. There’s not much more to report other than that. My travel calendar has been replaced with doctor appointments and that’s not nearly as fun to write (or read) about. Lol
Recently I went on a radical diet and felt good enough to actually get in on some good Ol living. It’s crazy how quickly things change, so I savored the moments while they lasted. Here’s a few highlights:
I actually got out in the fields for several afternoons. The twins showed up and warmed my heart and filled the cab with their energetic stories. “Aunt Ken! Me riding Unca Ben, jake break ON! BAAAAAA! It hurt my ears!” And they couldn’t wait to head out with the truck again. 😂
We got chickens last week, and I thought I’d surprise the chicken dumping crew with fresh pizza. I accidentally ordered mediums instead of larges. I was feeling really stupid until the manager at Dominoes asked me if I could use more pizza. A large order had just canceled- so at $5/pizza I took them all. 7 pizzas total 🙈 I had great fun farming out pizza the entire lunch hour.
Baby Gideon 💙 Julia curls his hair and he melts my heart.
Another example of heart melt: Julia grew carnations this year and Isaiah came marching up to me with a fistful of these beauties “Parnations!” He announced 🥰
And lastly, Ben left this morning on an Idaho elk hunt and I fixed a “snackle box” for the journey. It needed a punny “hugs and fishes” or “you’re my favorite catch” note with it, but I didn’t want to embarrass him. So I’ll just tell y’all about it lol
Here they are: 1 day and 10 hours of travel ahead of them according to Google Maps. Counting on Ben not being like me with the “no news” month of silence stuff. Safe travels, guys!
To Summarize my thought: It’s hard to “Bless the Lord” when things aren’t going as planned. Admittedly I’m not doing that great at it. I’m convicted about this.
May our hearts be drawn to Bless God this season. He is Able. And He is Enough.
Em was able to go surprise Deb for Alexander’s 2nd birthday. All week long I got pics like this gem. ❤️ Happy Birthday Zanderman!
“I need to plant more green beans” I commented to Mother in early July.
“Actually, just take scissors and chop back the patch that’s done producing” she said “I cut mine at the first joint, and dusted and fertilized it good, and depending on the year, they’ll regrow and yield again.”
So I bravely chopped and chewed thru my greenbean patch. I felt bad. They were my friends. Eagerly I’d watched them grow and we’d collected bountifully off of their first fruits. The canning shelves in the basement spoke loudly of this.
But I hardened my heart and pruned away. Leaving a very sad looking state of affairs in my wake, I moved on to other aspects of my garden.
Last week, as I was doing garden inventory, I noticed my green beans. Closer inspection verified that I was asleep at the wheel, and had almost let my beans get ahead of me.
What a blessing those pruned green beans are! Regardless of the challenging season they experienced, they got right back to producing bountifully.
But the pruning season is hard.
I have not been the most gracious recently. The harvest crew hit the fields without me and my brain thinks I need to be putting the hammerdown, while my body cries for rest and my list of injustices is fairly lengthy.
Until in a God Moment, a friend gave me a “get well” bag of goodies, which contained a little plaque “always grateful.”
Suddenly I’m seeing how short I’ve fallen in the grateful department. Always Grateful? Not really 😬🥺
So I’m looking at life differently: I’m alive. Each day, I’m gaining ground. I’ve got a job with the flexibility to take off until I’m better (bless my husband and family for covering for me and making this possible.) The mailbox full of medical bills means that I received incredible care. We’re part of a sharing group that will help offset those costs. My freezer is full of meals thanks to the most caring community… Blessing upon blessings…
Why was I grouchy, again?
Even Walmart knew I needed a lesson in expressing gratefulness. I ordered a box of 50 thank you cards, and they shipped me 12 boxes by mistake.
Oh God, forgive me for resisting this season of pruning.
There’s so much to be thankful for.
Em put an old canoe in her front flowerbed and it’s something to see!
I saw these pop bottle turtles on line and the boys were very impressed with this surprise. Also 2 year olds attempting to say “turtle” is my new favorite thing 😂❤️
Labor Day weekend brought the best company ❤️
If our family get-togethers could be summed up in one pic… 😂❤️
Miss Maria and Baby Gid… crazy what a 3 month age difference can look like 😂❤️
The 3 musketeers and the bearded uncles… and a snack of carrot sticks and chips leftover from a harvest lunch 😂 quality family time
We sit down for a meal “Me prayer” says Isaiah “apple tree, pear tree”
At this point, Julia has to interpret. Somewhere along the line, the boys were with cousins who taught them the Johnny Appleseed prayer song. And they’ve wanted to sing it for every meal since.
I remember their mama being super fascinated by Johnny Appleseed as well, so you might say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree- lol.
John Chapman was born in 1774 in New England and became known as “Johnny Appleseed” after he took a canoe full of seeds that he’d picked up at a cider mill and headed west to sell them to settlers trying to tame western PA, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Ontario and West Virginia. He ended up doing more trading than selling, and often planted trees along the way, so that people coming later would have orchards already started.
He wore a tin can hat, coffee-sack cloak, and no shoes. And was very proactive in reading scripture to whatever settlers he came across.
One song that he supposedly sang is the Swedenborgian hymn. And many sing the first verse before meals to as a prayer. (Especially when the twins are there.)
The Johnny Appleseed song
Oh, the Lord’s been good to me. And so I thank the Lord For giving me the things I need: The sun, the rain and the appleseed; Oh, the Lord’s been good to me. Oh, and every seed I sow Will grow into a tree. And someday there’ll be apples there For everyone in the world to share. Oh, the Lord is good to me. Oh, here I am ‘neath the blue, blue sky Doing as I please. Singing with my feathered friends Humming with the bees. I wake up every day, As happy as can be, Because I know that with His care My apple trees, they will still be there. The Lord’s been good to me. I wake up every day As happy as can be, Because I know the Lord is there Watchin’ over all my friends and me The Lord is good to me.
I love zinnias. They give me all the cheery summertime feels. They’re perfect for a quick bouquet, they’re perfect in the garden. Everywhere they add just little more sunshine.
Last winter, when I was on a quest for a small favor for our wedding, I came across seed packets. Perfect for a March wedding. Aaaaand if I filled them myself, it wouldn’t break the bank. But what flower is the best option? It was a no brainer: zinnias 🥰
“Let Love Grow”
Since then, I’ve absolutely loved watching to see where these little beauties show up.
The row in my garden was partly started by Julia, and the rest were a gift from my 93 year old grandmother. The butterflies love them.
My aunt took me to her garden to show me hers. Perfection.
My sweet friend, Lucy sent me weekly snaps updating the zinnia progress.
The twins caught the bouquet bug and insisted they have multiple bouquets on their little work table.
But then last week, zinnia bouquets rolled in from all over. I received 5 of them to be exact. Ben’s Aunt handed me one “Let Love Grow” she said with a chuckle. If this wasn’t an example of Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.
I have no plans of filling a canoe with zinnia seeds and heading west. I’m not going to start wearing a tin hat so that I can cook out of it if needs be, I’m definitely not going to go barefoot. But I do hope that my life scatters a zinnia fields worth of sunshine. 🙏🏼 If the past several weeks have reminded me of anything- it’s that I need to make today count- life really is fragile/uncertain.
Let Love Grow!
My favorite kind of recovery support team.
Em found a pile of leatherback mushrooms in the mountain last week, so we spent some time making/canning mushroom soup at the recommendation of a friend. VERY excited about this project.
And last but not least- found this one from the Baby Gid Photoshoot and it melts my heart 💙
Wednesday, August 17, was a beautiful morning. Admittedly my memories are a bit hazy because of the health crisis I detailed last post.
But my angel mother arrived on the scene to before 7, and spent the first part of the morning caring for me.
“I’m supposed to watch the twins at 11, because Julia has a doctors appointment or something.” she said “If we tell them that Aunt Ken is sick and they aren’t allowed to do the ‘flying squirrel’ on you, I think you’d be fine to come with me. It’s not a great idea for you to be home by yourself in this shape.”
*Side note- the “Flying Squirrel” is a move created by certain 2 year olds where you get on the couch and run; launching yourself horizontally into whichever unsuspecting victim is sitting closest. Line your launch up to where even if they don’t see you coming, they take most of the impact, leaving you to scamper off and prepare for another round. Apparently it’s a blast 🧐
So I was slowly, painfully making my way to the car, when Mother’s phone rang: I could only pick up snippets of the conversation, but I caught “Boy” instantly I was on high alert.
“We have a little boy, Gideon Swope Showalter.”
What a precious gift. 💙
Gideon means “great warrior.” Swope was my Pappy Reuben’s middle name, same as HIS Granddads. so it’s been a family name for generations.
I was trying to find a verse for my new little buddy and I found it- direct words that the Angel spoke to Gideon in Judges 6. “When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
Stand for truth, show mercy, live uprightly, and the Lord will be with you, and you will be mighty, Littlest bud 💙 I’m praying this for you.
As soon as I was discharged from the hospital, we headed out to meet him. The newborn stage is so precious.
So this is where I’m spending a lot of time resting; the best medicine.
Aunt Em came and we attempted to get a few pics before we blink twice and Mr Gid is running with the wild Indians…
Julia is such a beautiful boy mom 💙💙💙
Welcome to the family, Little Buddy. You are so loved 💙💙💙
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
Today’s verse of the day was just the reminder I needed.
The truth is, I’ve been anticipating this week for a long time. I mean to be fair- I wasn’t sure that this week was going to be this week, but I’ve been preparing for it.
I cleared my schedule for the last part of August.
I tried to pump up the twins about it. “Isaiah, tell Ms Rachel what’s going to happen when Mama has her baby and you spend the night at Aunt Ken’s house, what are we going to eat for breakfast ?”
And Isaiah with huge blue eyes said “coooookies”
No buddy- PANCAKES!
Regardless- whenever- Aunt Ken was ready.
Monday morning found me at my mom’s happily canning some sort of delicious jalapeños goodness that a friend highly recommended. The air was filled with spice. Mother would sneeze whenever she walked past to answer another of my 100 questions, but it didn’t seem to phase me. I got done in decent time. After lunch and the kitchen was returned to it’s former splendor- I noticed that my left lung was painful. Oh well, maybe I’d slipped a rib or something.
I headed home to check in on the chickens and my breath was really short by the time I got to the house. Strange. I called my favorite chiropractor and set up an early morning alignment.
Somewhere along the line I chatted on the phone with Ben and then with my dad and apparently Father hit the panic button. Because suddenly my phone was ringing off the hook.
Ben: You can’t breathe- I think we need to get you checked out.
Another call waiting Em- What’s going on? I think you should go to town.
Another call waiting Father- KP! Are you ok? I’m terribly worried about you.
Anyhow long story short, Mother was summoned and she arrived on the scene the same time as Ben squealed home on two wheels from trucking. The vote was unanimous that I needed to head for town. Ben even created an instant poem in his hour of great concern “Without breath, you can’t have life; and without life- I don’t have a wife!!”
So I went, grudgingly because all that was going to happen was a bunch of expensive tests and then they would send me back home. (I know, priorities 🙄🤦🏻♀️)
To cut out a bunch of unnecessary details, the doctor at Med Express wasn’t comfortable with what he was seeing, so we went to the Emergency Room (whether we needed to or not, I thought) and before too long, I was admitted to the Hospital with a medium sized pulmonary embolism aka blood clot.
We were so relieved to have answers.
The next morning, I was feeling okish. The doctor talked of discharging me and I was ready to leave-I thought. They gave me a prescription for blood thinner and sent me on my way. But as I went to leave I got up and realized how horrid I actually felt. Mother bravely loaded me up and we sailed for her house.
And thus began the next 30 hours of intense pain.
I’ll spare all the details of Ben patiently carrying my pillow palace from recliner to recliner at our house trying to find SOMEWHERE that I was comfortable enough to doze off…
Or the fact that I took 8 showers while in my mom’s care on Wednesday trying to ease the intense lung pain.
Finally Wednesday evening, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and Em’s friends at the local rescue squad came and loaded my miserable self up and drug what was left of me back to the ER.
Thanks Em for snapping this moment of Ben living out his “in sickness and in health” promise.
And that’s where I’ve been since. They added pneumonia and sepsis to my list of diagnoses. And I’ve been appreciating every single drop of meds they’ve sent my way.
Trying to see how high they can get my incentive spirometer… I haven’t gotten it to 500 yet… Ben made it to 3500 😏
Today, I think I’ve turned the corner. Hallelujah. There’s been a lot of Hero’s in my story- Ben for patiently and willingly staying with me. Em for using her medical expertise/connections to get me where I needed to be at the right time. My mom for juggling babysitting the twins and caring for her sick daughter. The rest of our families who’ve carried us as best they could in various ways.
So many people have let us know how much they are praying. They’ve sent flowers and food, and stopped by to visit. They’ve walked our chickens, and cleaned the Airbnb and we feel so humbled and loved and supported. This has been a journey and one that I’m afraid won’t go away as quickly as it arrived.
But verses like the one at the top of the post give me courage. “Filled with joy and peace… overflowing with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit” I want that to be my testimony.
And I left out one small detail. Wednesday night the hospital was filled and overflowing and I couldn’t get a room upstairs so they kept me in the ER. Considering the shape I was in, I wasn’t very good at jokes. But I asked if they could just move me up to my sisters room and give us a family discount. Yep that’s right- there’s a new little Showalter that I’ll introduce you to as soon as I meet the baby myself 😉 so anyhow I guess Isaiah was right after all- if he stays with Aunt Ken probably the only that she could feed him for breakfast right now is cookies- that some sweet friend blessed her with.
Thankful for the gift of life and for such a supportive community.
As a child, I always remember that “Hamburg Sunday” meant that most of my friends would be missing from church.
“We went the year that you were a baby. It’s really hot there in August” my parents would say. And that’s where the conversation would end.
Our little town of Singers Glen is rich in musical history. Around 1835 Joseph Funk wrote and published a songbook called “Harmonia Sacra” Eventually he opened a printing press along Main Street and at some point the town went from being named “Mountain Valley” to “Singers Glen” because of his musical presence.
Anyhow this songbook uses shapes notes and four part harmony and has been sung out of ever since. Some of the songs are very familiar. Some are not. Some are incredibly encouraging and beautiful. Others are-well depressing- like the song with about 20 verses that describes in great detail how individuals react to the stream of death. A lot is screaming and plunging at the end of every verse until you get to the last verse “To me, O death! thou hast no dread; Savior I come! Spread, but Thine arms on yonder shore, I see, Ye waters, bear me o’er, There is my home.”
So that’s a quick history on the songbook. My mom grew up singing and loving all parts of the culture/experience. My dad- a Pennsylvania native was unfamiliar with the songbook and every time the book is brought out, no less than 2 hours of warbling ensues, and his tolerance/appreciation of the art is not quite as high.
And their daughters fall somewhere in between their parents on love for Harmonia Sacra Singings.
Which brings us to the “Mauck’s Meeting House” part of the story. Built in the mid 1770s, this little church in the tiny town of Hamburg, holds a Harmonia Sacra singing every first Sunday in August.
Somehow I’m always on the road this weekend, but not this year. So it was a great chance to scratch “singing at Hamburg” off the bucket list when someone requested my van driving services.
Our group arrived at the church grounds in plenty of time, so I helped myself to a tour. This church was built with actually slave quarters upstairs. And a very sketchy chimney setup.
The best part of the entire day was my enthusiastic singing partner. I love her.
As expected, the service lasted for 2 hours. As the temperature climbed, my singing zeal waned. But I hung on valiantly until the potluck lunch in the shade.
Beautiful, heartfelt worship; rich history; good food; friendly people- what more could you wish for on a 95° August day?
My sisters and I send each other food ideas almost daily. The percentage of recipes that we actually end up trying is surprisingly few-but that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm for sharing them.
A year ago, one of us found a pic of the nacho table. Basically the entire table was covered with a huge taco salad. Yum!
I knew I wanted to try this, but I spun out trying to figure out how to not waste a half of a table full of nachos.
Ben’s family had their annual lake trip and we each were in charge of different meals. So I decided it was time to give the taco table a whirl.
Taco ‘bout fun!
We brought a cheap disposable tablecloth and everyone built their nachos right on the table.
Tortilla Wraps Dorito and white corn chips Meat mixture from Hope’s Table Cookbook Rice Cheese sauce Corn salsa Guacamole Sour cream Lettuce Ranch Dressing
We definitely gave it a run for the money 😅
My family has always usually been on board with my random ideas and as I watched my in laws digging into their nachos with gusto- I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed to have gained a whole new family that’s not afraid of an off-the-wall Kendra situation. ❤️ Family is the best.
It definitely won’t be another year, before I host a taco table again 🙂
Have a spec-taco-ler day,
Ben found an jon boat that needed some tlc. He spent a lot of hours adding a floor, storage compartment, new seats etc. This past week was its maiden voyage under a new captain. The beginning of many voyages- I hope 🥰
And while the boat was out- Em joined us over on the Shenandoah River.
Ben had mentioned in passing that sometime he wanted a tailgate charcoal grill, so when his yardsaling obsessed wife happened across the dream grill for $2, she made the huge purchase.
Honestly how have I lived successfully without one of these in my world?
Not the most peaceful mountain lunch spot ever but it was easy to get to, and man the food was tops 😂
Have you ever been struggling to find the right words to express how you’re feeling, and suddenly a song pops into your mind that says everything perfectly? That happened to me last week:
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.
The garden is producing! Admittedly I can’t believe that I’m successful growing/harvesting/preserving food and absolutely loving it. My family probably all rolls their eyes when they receive ANOTHER garden update from KR- but I can’t help myself 🙈 also my $1 gathering basket from a July 4 yardsale is another item on my excited list.
I thank thee, Lord, 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.
A lot of days I can hardly believe my current life. Blessings upon blessings upon blessings.
I thank thee, too, 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.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Wow I’m convicted.
This verse is actually why I’ve been singing this song. My health has really hit a rough spot recently again. Ah, ulcerative colitis-the unwelcome guest. I won’t bother with a pic of all the pill bottles lined up on my kitchen windowsill… Hopefully we’re turning the corner, but I’m reminded again of how urgent it is to be thankful for the good days and how important the rough days are to drive me back to my loving Heavenly Father. Also, bless Ben for being so patient with me. Apparently I’m slightly needy when I’m not feeling great 😬🙈😂
I thank thee, Lord, that here our souls, Though amply blest, Can never find, although they seek, A perfect rest, Nor ever shall, until they lean On Jesus’ breast. Amen.
We just finished wheat harvest and what a year it was! Record yields and record price. But at the same time, my aunt forwarded me an email from a lady in Ukraine who wrote about the beautiful wheat fields; the lack of fuel to harvest and haul; the destruction of ports for exports; and the hidden land mines in those innocent looking fields. My heart breaks for those innocent people.
Joy, difficult things, the quest for peace… I’m guessing your current life might look a little different from mine, and yet these are the underlying tones of everyday of the human experience.
Looking forward to that day of Perfection with Jesus! Stay focused, friends ❤️
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying cooking from the garden-next year I think I’ll only plant one zucchini and one squash 😂
The twins approved of my $1 July 4th yardsale find for them too- a shovel and a rake. We were heading to the field and Uriah came carrying his “tools”. Thankfully they weren’t needed 😂
And finally- I’m in Lancaster on a van run this weekend and we visited the art studio of a man who was born without the use of his hands. This was one of the many masterpieces that he painted using his mouth. That in the darkest spot on earth, some love is found.