I LOVE having my family come to visit. I love spending time with them. I love hearing them talk and laugh and tease each other. I love cooking for them and sitting around the table with them. However, I am also an introvert, and when my guests leave I need time to recover.


This afternoon I took a mini-vacation. I had to get up early to meet someone at the door at 7:30 this morning, and then I had to go to Aldi by myself and do my shopping while listening to crying babies the whole time. By the time I got back home, I needed some time to myself.

So I spent most of the afternoon hibernating. I took a luxurious nap and a luxurious bath. I did some reading. I did not emerge from my room until I was feeling a little more human, and because I was feeling somewhat invigorated, I actually got a lot of paper work done as I continue my task of excavating my desk. It is actually usable now!

Walter, Lina, and Mercy were out working most of the day, finishing most of the work on the holiday contracts. The last little bit of re-setting will happen on Sunday.

Lina got to meet a friend for supper and the rest of us had a quiet evening at home. Tomorrow we are going to a much-anticipated wedding.

Last Family Day

Today got off to a concerning start. I got a phone call from my dad saying my mom had fallen during the night and injured her elbows and back. She was in a lot of pain and as a result, they didn’t make it over here until lunch time.

So, our final day with my parents was not what any of us would have hoped for. My mom rested all afternoon and when she got up, she was so miserable she just wanted to leave. We had a snack together and then said goodbye to them before supper. Tomorrow they’ll be getting up very early for the long drive home. I sure hope my mom is feeling a little better by then.

Walter took Lina and Mercy and Jasper with him to push Mercy’s car up onto the lift so he could work on it. We are really hoping to get her car on the road so she can drive it back to Colorado next week.

Meanwhile, I got a bunch of paperwork done and managed to cause an invisible paper jam in my new printer, so it won’t print anything at the moment. I have looked and looked for any sign of a jammed piece of paper, but I can’t find it.

We made a great big pizza for supper, which was a nice change from all the holiday food we’ve been having. (Not that I had pizza, mind you, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it!)

I’m trying not to think about tomorrow morning and the inevitable trip to Aldi.

Parting Shot:


A photo I got of all 8 kids before Flynn left on Monday.

Another Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to Mary and Jordan, who had to leave for Chattanooga to spend time with Jordan’s family. It was said to watch them drive away, but at least they were able to stay for a whole week. It was so good to have them here.

My parents arrived with donuts before Mary and Jordan left, and Mary and I had the leftover GF hot cross buns. The holidays are winding down . . .

Meanwhile, Walter was out working before Mary and Jordan even woke up. Today was his day to lay wax on two different properties. It is a slow and tedious job, but at least he was able to come home and have lunch with us.

We made a good supper with no leftovers at all–pork chops, roasted Brussels sprouts, fried potatoes, salad, and mincemeat pie (my parents’ favorite). We’re back down to nine around the table now.

Tomorrow is our last day with my parents, so I hope we can make it enjoyable. The last week or so we’ve been so blessed with family. I love my family.

Big Breakfast

Today got off to a special start as Mercy took it upon herself to make us a big fancy breakfast like the ones she made at the bed and breakfast last summer. My parents came over and we all enjoyed Eggs Benedict, fruit salad, yogurt and granola.

Then Walter and Lina and Mercy left to work again and I had the day to visit with my parents. I worked on downloading some books my mom wanted on her new Kindle. I got some knitting done. We talked a lot! I received a couple of very heartwarming notes. I made a huge batch of my special turkey salad for lunch and then while my parents napped, I was able to address and mail some newsletters and run a couple other errands.

The work crew returned just as we were gathering for a supper of excellent Christmas leftovers. It was good to have 11 of us around the table! It was our last dinner with Mary and Jordan, as they are leaving tomorrow. It sure has been wonderful to have them here.

This morning my sister-in-law texted my husband to let him know that our nephew’s memorial service is tomorrow afternoon. There is no hope of Walter going, especially on such short notice, but our prayers will be with the family as they gather and I’m sure they’d appreciate your prayers too.


A Departure & An Arrival

Today it was back to work for Walter and three of the kids, working on a cleaning project. I was up and out the door earlier than I wanted to be because we needed bread and a few other essential items!

After Flynn got here, the kids all went out for one final coffee run and Mary managed to fit them all into a selfie:


Flynn packed up after lunch and we all went out into the driveway to say goodbye. He was only here for two days! It was hard to say goodbye.

While the work crew was gone this afternoon I got a few things done and then drove over to my friends Jim and Joan’s house to get it open and ready for my parents, who pulled in at about 6:00. They’ll be staying there until Friday and spending the days with us.

My parents made it over to have supper with us–turkey soup made from broth that simmered for some 18 hours. We had a nice time visiting afterwards and I was very impressed by my parents’ stamina. They got up at 4:00 this morning and were still sentient at 10:00 tonight! Looking forward to spending some time with them over the next few days.

One More Sleep . . .

Don’t have much to say today. Flynn arrived last night and we all stayed up too late visiting. Today was a day of visiting and cooking and gift wrapping.

I had asked a friend to do us a huge favor, so after lunch we all assembled on campus and got a family photo taken. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity on these two days when we are all together. Mary has spent much of the evening editing the photos.

We had our Christmas Eve fondue dinner a little early so that we could go to Mercy’s church for the Christmas Eve service. It was a nice, simple service and fortunately for me it ended before my back gave out. We found out we know a lot of people who go to that church.

After getting back from church, we watched Muppet Christmas Carol and had our customary eggnog and special goodies for dessert. I also brought out some old family photos I recently unearthed and we had a lot of fun looking at them.

The final official activity of the day was letting each family member open one gift. That also was a lot of fun. Too bad we were sitting under a ceiling fan because it is so warm and muggy!

Share the Light; Be the Light

This past week has been incredibly hard for me personally and also for my family. A dear friend tried to take her own life and came close to succeeding. Another friend’s son was killed. And our nephew ended his life, leaving the whole family blindsided by shock and grief.

How do you process so much sadness? How do you get through to the other side? And most of all, how can you keep someone from making that irreversible choice?

Mary had some things to say about it on Facebook, so I can’t link to it here.

And so did Lucy:

One thing that I keep coming back to is the innumerable times I have heard of someone who came perilously close to taking his/her own life, and what stopped them? Someone else being kind to them. Just that. Did the other person know that the recipient of their kindness was suicidal? No. In some cases, the two people barely knew each other. Often, the truth doesn’t come out till years later, if at all, but do you realize what that means?

What it means is that if you are consistently kind to the people in your life, you may be shining a light into a dark place you don’t even know is there. You may never know. To me, this is wonderful news! As I like to tell people, kindness is free! It doesn’t cost you anything.

If you are young and you know a girl at school who sits by herself, why not be her self-appointed guardian angel? Be kind to her. Talk to her and show interest in her life. Of course, you should be kind to everyone, but go to special effort for those who don’t seem to have a support system in place. What if they try to push you away? Just remember that often the people who need love the most work hardest at pushing it away. Don’t let them prove their belief that no one cares by letting them be successful in pushing you away. Don’t give up on them.

Last night at our Christmas party, one of my friends showed up with a teenage girl who was a total stranger to me. I was a little puzzled until my friend had a chance to tell me her story. She (my friend) had signed up for a mentorship program to benefit kids from difficult backgrounds. This girl was her “mentee.” She lives with her grandmother (her mom’s not in the picture) and her father recently got out of jail. They spent the afternoon baking cookies to bring to the party. This sweet young girl had never made cookies before. She had also never been to a party, never got to sing Christmas carols like we did last night. I am SO glad my friend brought her. To everyone else there, it was one enjoyable party among many. To that girl, it was the only party of her life. My friend’s kindness is making a huge difference in that young life—maybe the difference between life and death, someday. It takes so little effort to shine the light of kindness into another person’s life. So little.

What if you’re the one contemplating a final escape from your seemingly endless misery? That is a tougher situation, for sure. I almost never mention this, but I walked right up to that line once in my youth. I stood there for hours, and obviously ended up stepping back. Two things stopped me. One was that I chose to spend my final hours listening to my favorite hymns. Listening for hours to various assurances of God’s love and care for me definitely had an impact. The other factor was my realization that my mother would most likely be the one to find me, and I found I was unwilling to do that to her.

For me, that was a one-time decision. I wrestled with whether or not to follow through all night, and when I made the choice to live, it was made for all time. When morning came, I felt like my life had been handed back to me. I went through some very deep waters after that, but I always hung on to my certainty that God loved me and would not let me go. I never had to go through that particular struggle again–but some people do. Over and over and over.

To some of them, no assurance of God’s love and care is going to seem real enough. They need to interact with someone who has skin on. That might be you. If you’re the one who feels that the only way out is all the way out, please reach out and talk to someone. Call a suicide hotline, your pastor, a sympathetic relative, anyone. Fight to stay alive. If talking to one person doesn’t help, try someone else. No valley, no matter how deep, is permanent. It’s hard to remember that when you’re there, so you have to fight to get out. Please fight. Reach out to someone else who is struggling and help them in their own fight. Don’t give up. Get help. Fight to get help if you have to.

That same friend who brought her young mentee to the party last night once tried to take her own life too. Once she had been stabilized physically, she had to fight to stay alive. She checked herself into a mental health facility and got some help. Please, if you need help, do whatever it takes to get it. Don’t give up. Promise me you won’t give up. If you know me personally, call me. Call someone.


Sorrow and Celebration

Today was a day of extremes. We had this party to get ready for. Then before most of the kids were even up, I got a phone call from Walter with horrific news. Our nephew Nathan died last night. He took his own life. We’re still reeling from the shock. This young man was Spencer’s age, and the only cousin that Spencer was close to. It’s so hard to understand how a smart young man with his whole life ahead of him could make this choice. It was especially hard to take, coming so soon after one of my own friends tried to kill herself and a young man my kids grew up with was killed. All in one week. I admit, we’re struggling at the moment.

Meanwhile, we had a party to get ready for. My kids were wonderful. Jordan and Jasper did most of the outside setting-up. Lina and Mary and I did the rest of the baking. I also made a run to Sam’s for last minute supplies and stopped by to pick up my music stand from the church, where I normally leave it. Mercy was a one-woman cleaning machine.

One of my jobs was to put together little booklets with the words to some favorite Christmas carols so everyone would be able to sing along. I have a long-reach stapler that I planned to use to staple the booklets in the middle so the pages would stay together. The only problem was that I couldn’t get the stapler to work, even after cleaning it out and putting in new staples. So I took my stack of 30 booklets and sewed down the middle of each one with my sewing machine. It worked pretty well! I used an old needle that was already dull so I didn’t even ruin a good needle. I also spent some time practicing the carols. I had wanted Mary to play with me, and we did practice together a little, but we ran out of time to get more practice in so we could sound more coordinated, so in the end I played by myself.

Jordan and Jasper did such a good job of making the back yard look pretty. They even put lanterns on a wagon and our wheelbarrow! They also lit and set out the 40+ glass jar candles I had been accumulating since September. Some of our friends and neighbors came over and as usual, I found I had planned for way more than enough food! We passed out the carol booklets and sang through all eight of the songs I had chosen. I tried to pick ones that are popular and very well known. I really enjoyed hearing everyone singing together. By the time we finished with “Silent Night,” my fingers were tired and almost numb from the cold. I had to go get a jacket and my special cashmere and angora gauntlets so I could warm up.

Our guests didn’t stay long, but it sure was good to see everyone and spend some time together celebrating the birth of Christ. The evening ended on a disappointing note when we found out Flynn missed his flight and now won’t be arriving till tomorrow evening, which means he’ll only be here two days instead of three. We’ll have to make the most of every hour!

Tradition, Tradition!

We are having a party tomorrow, so Lina and Mary were very busy helping me with preparations. The food stockpile is growing!

I had to get up early and head to Walmart, because my husband volunteered me to provide a big pan of corn pudding for his workplace Christmas lunch, and I forgot to go shopping for the ingredients yesterday. I had to rush back and get it into my roaster oven by 8:00 this morning. By the time I got it mixed and in the oven, I was tired! I do not do well with early morning activity.

Corn pudding has become a tradition. Every time Walter has a meal at work, all they want from me is a triple batch of corn pudding. There is never any left over!

I made shortbread (gluten free) and Lina made gluten free cheese straws and sausage rolls and a lemon meringue pie.

Late in the afternoon Lina left to go to a visitation. The younger brother of her high school friend Rebekah died on the weekend, and the funeral is tomorrow. What a horrible time to be dealing with loss.

At lunchtime, we had a debate over what to have for supper, and hot dogs won out because that is another tradition. You see, when we got back from Africa in 1994, we stayed at various places before finding a house to rent, and the first night in the new house with our four young children, I heated up some hot dogs on the stove because it was quick and easy.

Therefore, when we bought this house eight years later, the kids insisted that we had to have hot dogs as our first meal. It was 15 years ago today that we moved into this house and had our hot dog supper. So naturally, we had to eat hot dogs again to commemorate the event! Mary and Jordan also had hot dogs when they moved into their first apartment, and I think Flynn has also followed the tradition.

Mercy arrived back home this evening after having to sit in a stopped train for over two hours. Only one more left to arrive–Flynn!