Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29-Dec. 5, 2010

Mon.-Pretty wiped out from yesterday's W.Va. Mt. experience. Could sleep and sleep. Did a bit of wash, paperwork, and cooking. Called and talked to Anne for awhile. Good to hear about her life and the baby on the way. Phil and the boys working on barn to prepare for more cattle. Raising some for a friend and will split the profit. David called to check on me and told me how much they enjoyed our kids and what a good job we're doing with them. So nice to hear that from a sibling. Going to bed early.
Philip went to Olive Garden with Christi.
Thankful that Phil picked up Susan from school.
Thankful for phone call from my brother.
Thankful for his hopes of our return and talk about sledding down his hills in the winter.

Tues.-Would have stayed in bed if I could but needed to be at school for practice. It was good to go and be busy even if I still felt sick. Dr. H. called me "Sparky" because of our fire. We practiced for the program this Sunday and it's a good thing that we have two more practices. Some of the older children stand up front and look like..., well, to quote Dr. H. again, he said, "The mortician did such a fine job; they look so life like." So, in class, I divided the groups and had half of them sing while the other group observed them and then gave them some helpful 'criticism'. They sounded and looked so much better after they realized that they looked like someone was about to shoot them. We talked about being nervous and how it is part of the human experience and I told them to embrace their nervousness instead of trying to get away from it; that it was part of what makes them human and if they weren't nervous, they would be bored, etc. etc. I told them that perfect love casts out fear and that if they can look out at the people and sing for someone they love, that will really help them. The 9-12 graders worked so hard and needed a break so I brought them back to my room and let them play with play dough as they listened to classical guitar. They got real quiet and settled in to being childlike. Several of them thanked me when they left the room. Select Choir sounded really good and we went through all of the congregational songs as well as their songs and they had great fun using the microphones on stage. We came home and it was almost dark at 5 and Phil had had a good day with the adjuster and now he has to figure out how old each piece of machinery, equipment, tool was in order to get any reimbursement. Andy Stoltzfus called Phil tonight and he has been through fire several times. I don't think people realize how devastating it is until they've experienced it. We sure didn't. People might think, "Well, it's only a fire," but it's not 'only a fire.' Unless you see the raging flames and feel it's heat and hear explosions, and have oodles of firemen running here and there, etc. and see emergency vehicles on every piece of one's lawn, you don't really understand what it is like, and I am glad you don't. I hope you never do. We do have so much to be thankful for and we are thankful. I am thankful that insurance will cover the rebuilding and some of the loss. I am thankful for the people who let us know that they care. I am thankful, that as we consider what others are going through, we so often have been saying, 'What they are experiencing is so much worse than this.' I wonder if they know that we care. I guess they don't unless we let them know that we do. It is has been a real wake up call to me. If we don't care, we should not pretend that we do. But if we do care, and if we are praying, it is good to let people know. I don't think I have done that so very well in the past. People can't read my thoughts. Most of the time, I don't know what to say, so I don't say anything. But it's better if we talk to people and say, "I don't know what to say," rather than just not saying anything at all. O God, help me not forget this lesson. Tonight, the song, "Does Jesus care...oh, yes, He cares. I know He cares. His heart is touched with my grief..." has been singing in my spirit. I hear it being sung in my mother's beautiful voice. "Though the days grow weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares..."

Wed.-The night was wild and windy. I've always loved that sound. But last night, it sounded like we were surrounded by the winds of fire. I got up several times to make sure it was just wind. I've been thinking about the human experience. I've never experienced a fire like that before. If we hadn't had a fire, I wouldn't have this particular human experience. I wouldn't know how it feels to wonder what I should take from the house if it would have caught on fire. All I could think of was packing up underwear and toothpaste and toothbrushes. I would have missed the family photos if I had only a minute to leave the premises. I am embracing this experience, this loss, and the fear that comes with it. Because on the other side of the Railroad track, across from fear, is trust. If I didn't fear, I wouldn't learn to trust. If we didn't have ashes, we wouldn't have the hope of the beauty that will come from them. I think I am learning not to be afraid to embrace everything about being human and I am glad. It helps me accept all of my life and not just the good and the beautiful parts of it. I am learning to be as alive when I feel depressed as I am when I feel great.

We had a good day at school. People told us they saw the smoke of the fire from Appomattox. Went to the chiropractor after school to get some help with a stiff neck and spine. She also checked Susan's finger which had been chumped by the back jaw of a calf last night and it was throbbing and numb. Fortunately, it is not broken. We dropped some milk off with Micah and Janelle. Her car won't be ready until Friday. We saw Jeanne walking Shadow along the road. It was nice to chat with her a bit. Susan and I watched 2 Christmas movies tonight before hitting the sack. Phil is at the livestock auction, buying some cattle for a friend. Michael is with some friends. I think Philip is at Bible Study with Christi but I'm not sure.
I am thankful that Dianna's little grandbaby boy arrived safely today!
I am thankful for a warm house and popcorn and Christmas movies.
I am thankful for the email from my mother.
It was nearly 60 this morning but it dropped 20 degrees by the time school was over. The kids who were bringing in the flag wanted me to feel their ears.

Thurs.-Another practice at school. I had my Christmas moment today when The Shorter Family sang their song. I could hardly pull myself back together. Isn't it strange, how you can experience difficulties, and you hang tough, but then someone sweet sings in a pure alto voice about Mary, and Jesus, and you hear little voices singing, 'O Come Let us Adore Him,' and all your walls that are holding you together come tumbling down because of that precious baby in the manger and the music that tells of Him. In art, the little K/1 girls finished their sheep. Second grade decorated little wooden tree ornaments with glitter glue, sequins, stickers, and ribbon. I found a little note from Noah. He drew a picture of himself and wrote, "You are the best art teacher ever." Just the boost I needed. Shopped for dress shoes for Susan and found them at Walmart. Bought her first pair of pantyhose. She loves converse style sneakers and ankle socks. Came home and cleaned up house. Phil is working on fire related paper work. The story of the fire was on the front page of the Times Virginian. There was a picture there of the firemen and the burned up shop. Can't sleep so decided to get up and write. Have slept very little this week.

I am thankful for the scriptures read by young children during the Lessons and Carols practice and how I felt like I was hearing them for the first time.
I am thankful that one of the young men in high school agreed to play his classical guitar music for the prelude.
I am thankful that obedience is better than sacrifice and that doing something for someone to honor them in a good attitude is better than obeying with a bad attitude.

Fri.-Went into school to practice for the program and then did a bit of shopping. Came home and did some wash and made cheddar potato soup, homemade rolls and sloppy jo meat. Watched a Christmas movie. Phil took Janelle to get her car in App. and picked up Susan and took her hunting at Rich's. Phil doing paperwork for fire. We are looking at things differently, and I do mean 'things.' Phil grieves that things were burned in the fire that other people could have been using. He has the tools he was using for a job in a storage trailer and those are unharmed. He wishes he had given to others the the things that have been burned. I am wanting to get rid of things that I am not using that would just add fuel to a fire if we had another one. What do I have that I really would be sad to lose? What things do I need? Keep those things and give the others away.. Now I need time and energy. Janelle sent me an article. One man in Lanc. City determined to get rid of 100 things in 100 days. Nice things. He sold them and gave the proceeds to MDS-Mennonite Disaster Service.
I am thankful that the process of preparing for the program has been as meaningful as I think the program will be. I am thankful that little children teach me about what is important in life. Love. Acceptance. And Reading. One could live on those things. I am thankful for the renewed desire to get rid of stuff and simplify.

Sat.-Slept for 8 hours straight. Wow! Don't know when I've ever done that. Got rid of 30 things today. Cleaned house and made a lemon sour cream pound cake. The chickens are suddenly laying oodles of eggs after being on strike all summer. Phil, Philip, and Mike are cleaning up metal and trash in the pile of shop remains. Susan is helping me clean the house and set up the Christmas tree. I put up the white manger scene on our old reddish table and it looks stark and lonely and holy and makes me cry. The little sheep have their heads and noses turned towards baby Jesus like they are checking Him out. Made a quiche with the boys homemade venison sausage and potatoes in order to use up more eggs. Watched Christmas movies with Susan and later, all 5 of us watched 'The most Wonderful time of the Year.' They enjoyed seeing 'The Fonz' in his later years. It's snowing and has been for several hours. It's making beauty out of ashes and the charred junk laying around. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. I am thankful for the crazy doings of Philip and Michael as they wrastled with each other on the floor. I am not sure whether to laugh or to scold as they yelp, pinch, and smack each other in brotherly friendship. I just stay out of the way all curled up safe on my easy chair. I did intervene when one of them yelled for help. I am thankful for the memories that Christmas ornaments evoke. I love my Sammy Jo ornament and the purple bulb with 'Redeemer' etched in gold on its side. I love all of Aunt Annie's homemade ornaments she has made for each of the children through the years. I must remember to give Freeman his. I am thankful that the love of God gathers people and does not push them away. We are so afraid to risk being hurt by others so we withhold who we are and what we have to give. Not so with God. Give us your heart, oh God, that gives to all what you have with no holding back.

Sun.-Went to Christ Church this morning. I played the piano for the four hymns. Dr. Hubler preached a good sermon on the truth of God's Word and how we can trust it because it is true. The promises God gave for a Messiah to come out of Jesse's stump all came true. If God's specific promises regarding Christ have come true, we can trust His promises in His Word for our lives. All of the Bible is here for us to learn from and the end of our learning is Hope. The purpose of the Word is to learn hope. Hope is about reality. We should be so heavenly minded that we are immensely beneficial to earthly good. Hope is having confidence and trust in God's happy ending. We, as Christian people, should be a people of God's Word because God is a God of His Word. Jesus was the Word. Scripture is God breathed just as creation was God breathed and God spoken. The power of the Word of God is its Truth. It is true. He tells the truth about what's happened and what is and what will be. We must use the Word of God to experience it's power. ~~~~I loved the prayer in the program. "BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Thy Holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. " I also loved the communion service. One low voice intertwined with another low voice as they offered us precious gifts. "This is my body...."This is my blood"..."broken for you"..."poured out for you"... I felt an awful homesickness for heaven and an overwhelming sense of rapture...someday soon, we will hear His low voice, and we will drink from the cup in His hand and be fed from His fingers the bread of life. The next time Jesus partakes of the bread and the wine, it will be with me. It will be with you. ~~~~~~~~~
Most of the church had lunch together in the art room. We ate different homemade soups and homemade rolls and homemade sausage and cookies, etc. This church likes to cook. As we ate, Christmas saxophone music accompanied our conversation. It was nice. ~~~~
Lessons and Carols started at 1:45 with a prelude of guitar music-Thank you Sam!-piano music-thank you Alyssa, Cameron, and Lauren; and the band's first performance and Jingle Bells to boot! The children entered the 'sanctuary' to the words and music of "Once in Royal David's City" and joined in singing as they found their seats. It was a really nice program. There were meaningful Scriptures read by students and adults regarding the promise of a Savior and His coming to earth. In between those 'Lessons', the congregation sang hymns and the children sang their special songs. I loved hearing the Shorter Family sing. Select Choir sang an 'African Noel' and actually moved a bit to the rhythm as they sang. I played guitar for three songs for the younger children. It was interesting to sit with them on their level and look out at all those people and see them from a child's perspective. It's not so easy to sing to 200 people and only know a few, especially if it's the first time you've done it. I think, but I am not certain, that Mrs. Jones was dancing in the back for the song, "Sing Aloud". The children had those kind of grins on their faces that give that sort of activity away. The 3/4 graders sang a song about 'Busy Little Bethlehem..won't you let your Savior in...everything you've waited for is standing here outside your door." The 2-4 sang 'The Shepherd's Song. The shepherd in the song is sad because he has nothing of importance to give Jesus so he gives him his hands, feet, lips, and heart and Jesus says back to him, that what little he gives is not little at all. The 7-12 graders sang in three part harmony as did the Select choir.('Angels we have Heard on High', 'What child is This', 'How great our Joy', and 'African Noel'-respectively-two each.) Susan and Graham sang 'Silent Night' together. It was sweet. The whole school went on stage at the end and sang 'You are Holy' and then 'Adeste Fidelis'. There was a reception afterwards. I was proud of all of the children and appreciated the way all of the teacher's worked together to make it a success.
We came home and watched a Clint Eastwood movie and ate leftover soup, popcorn, and candy canes.
I am thankful for people who openly communicate and say what they mean to say. I am thankful for the little girl who came up and snuggled close to me when it was her group's turn to sing. It helped me be a bit less nervous. (I am not a great guitarist and my hands were cold and shaky.) I am thankful that Select Choir got ahold of the concept of honoring another's request and that they came through their song well and in rhythm.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Railroad Tracks

When I was young in the country, we often took walks on Sunday afternoons.
We'd walk through the fields until we reached the railroad tracks and then we would balance ourselves on the rails as if we were walking on a balance beam. Sometimes, we'd stop in at our Amish neighbors. I remember how cool and dark it was inside their house. I remember how it smelled.

I read something recently written by a man who has had huge spiritual and financial success.
His wife has cancer. She's not doing well. He said that life is like railroad tracks. I've been thinking about what he said.

On one track, we are experiencing the good things in life.
On the other track, we are experiencing the difficult things in life.
The tracks travel together.
We can't go anywhere without both tracks being side by side.

In any given day, we may be experiencing the joy of love and laughter.
A few minutes later, life may have taken a drastic turn and given us sorrow.

But both tracks are part of our lives.
Even in joy and laughter, there is sorrow and death.
And even in sorrow and death, there is joy and laughter.

We are on the tracks and we don't know where they are going today
but we know our destined end.

And we laugh and we cry.
We cry and we laugh.
But mostly, we live.

We live deeply and fully
and walk the balance beam
on both railroad tracks of life.

Out of the Ashes

On Wednesday, November 24, 2010, our shop burned to the ground. In it were years of accumulation of tools, business equipment, hobby materials, and farm machinery odds and ends. Thousands of dollars gone in 20 minutes. Gone, also, the convenience of having a place to go to get anything we needed for the farm, home, or business.

Later in the day, after the fire was settled down, Mickey and Mitch, our neighbors, came down to see the damage. She put her head on Phil's shoulder and cried. Mitch was very comforting. He said to Phil, "It wasn't your fault." He quickly added, "It wasn't my fault either." Mitch is 37 and has the benefit and the challenge of being labeled as Down's' syndrome. He is wonderful.

He wanted to walk in the rubble. He put his hands in the ashes and looked for treasures. He wiped his blackened hands on Phil's pants because Phil told him to.

Someday, I hope to comfort people the way Mitch comforted my husband.
I want to put my hands in the ashes of their loss and find treasures hidden there.
I want to touch what caused them pain and wipe the residue on borrowed jeans.
I want my eyes to tear and my nose to run.

Someday, I hope to be just like Mitch.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hertzler Doings-Nov.22-28, 2010

Mon.-Took Susan to school and went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. Still feeling lousy. Took a nap, finished paperwork, picked up Susan, made pumpkin ice cream, took Susan to Christi's-Impact Girls, and hope to get a good night's sleep.

I am thankful that Michael is home after a day in Richmond. I am thankful that only half of Susan's face was painted blue when she got into the car after school. I am thankful that I don't have to figure out ways to use bear meat since no one in the Lucky 13 Camp or in their son's camp even saw a bear this year which was really unusual. I wonder what's with that?

Tues.-Went to school. Had chapel and then split into groups and served the community. We raked leaves, visited and sang for some older folks, worked at Gleaning for the World, rang bells at Kroger and Walmart for Salvation Army, and I am sure I am missing something. I took Jane, Olivia, and Susan to Salvation Army and we cleaned and priced items, straightened clothing, washed shelves, and took lots of funny pictures. Sharon, the boss, said that the girls were wonderful and that she was going to tell people about our school. Around 11:30, we went back to CCA and had pizza and ice cream. Little Tasha asked me to come sit with her for lunch again. As soon as I sat down she confessed, "I'm afraid of heights." "I am, too," I said. Ethan queried, "What's that mean?" "Heights?" "Yes." "It means you are afraid of being up high." "Oh," he said. "I'm afraid of the dark." Then we finished out our day at A.J.'s Skating Rink and that was really great fun. Janelle had called earlier and wanted to meet us at Baine's after school since Micah had a field trip to see the court house. We met around 3 and had tea and conversation and it was good to have some time together. I've been busy at school and at home and have had little time for anything else. I'm feeling lonely for my family and friends. (Micah wanted to show me their very nice white rental car. A deer hit their car on the way to church on Sunday. It put a big dent on the driver's side so the car is being repaired.) Susan and I went to Walmart to get our final Thanksgiving items. Michael is not feeling well-sore throat and exhaustion just like Philip and I had.

I am thankful for the kindness the teacher's show the children at school.
I am thankful that Susan really enjoyed skating. There are generations of skaters that have come before her on my mother's side. We used to skate on the ponds back on the farm. We'd build a fire on the edge of the pond and my aunt and uncle would make big kettles of real hot chocolate to warm us up while we skated.
I am thankful for Philip's kind words to Susan tonight-"You are so beautiful. You are getting more beautiful all the time."
I am thankful that I found a boxed Hess truck at Salvation Army that I am going to resell on Ebay.
I am thankful for the two new shirts I found for Michael while I was there and that he likes them very much. We also found a froggie suit for one of our new nieces or nephews that will be joining the Hertzler clan someday soon!

Wed.-Day off of school. Finally decided to call the Dr. Had an appt. for 12:40, and as I was in the bathroom getting ready to leave I heard and felt a loud boom. Susan soon came running into the house and told me to call 911 because the shop was on fire. She had already moved two of the trucks out of harms way. Phil and Michael were racing around with a hose, wetting down the milk barn, garden shed, and our house. Boom! Bang! Flames everywhere! The back door of the house was hot. The siding melted in the heat. Within 15 min., fire trucks arrived from Pamplin, Prospect, and Appomattox. There were at least 10 of them here as well as I think two ambulances. Neighbors came and strangers came and Judy and Sammy Jo came and that was best of all. We are so thankful that no one was hurt. We are thankful that the wind was blowing in the right direction. We are so thankful that we were home. Susan says she is thankful for Thanksgiving because if we weren't home, we would have lost so much more. We are thankful for the friend who called who has experienced fire himself and he said to remember that it is only stuff and to not give it another thought and he offered other help as well.

I went to the doctor later in the day and he put me on some hefty antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine. Fun. Fun. Philip had bought us pizzas for supper and Erik and April came over later in the eve.
I am thankful for our neighbor, Mickey, who had to cry for us when she saw the shop.
I am thankful for her son, Mitch, who told Phil. "It's not your fault.
He also said,"It's not mine either." They are both so precious to us.
I am thankful Phil called his parents and my mother to let them know what happened before they found out from someone else.
I am thankful that people care about us.

Thurs.-Happy Thanksgiving! Prepared house and food for company today. Janelle and Micah and her parents, Marcia and Carl came for an evening meal. I made venison with gravy, turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, pumpkin parfait, and Susan made French blueberry pie. Alli brought her delicious sweet potato casserole. Janelle brought homemade bread and broccoli/cauliflower salad. Marcia and Carl brought green beans, cranberry salad, and punch. We played Apples to Apples, Uno, and watched The Three Stooges. Christi came for supper as well, and Jordan came later in the evening. We couldn't convince him to eat any dessert from our table. Too full from his own.

Today, Phil cleaned up the aluminum and other scraps from the fire, burning what needed to be burned, sorting through the rubble. Michael and Philip helped between doing their other Thanksgiving activities. So much of our activity in the day includes something we get from the shop, whether it be work gloves, drill guns, or wheelbarrows. It's been a harder day for Phil. He is working now at the table, writing on a black smudged yellow pad, trying to inventory what was in the shop.
I am thankful that after 24 hours after being on an antibiotic, I feel so very much better. I am thankful for the game 'Apples to Apples' and the things I learned about my children as we played it. I am thankful that Susan made the blueberry pie all by herself and that it was a bigger hit than my dessert. I am thankful for the email from my mother and the phone call from Phil's mother this morning. I am thankful that Phil thanked me for always being there, for being present during the fire and not being hysterical, for bringing him water and for being the peace of God to him. I am thankful for the song in the night and the song in the day that's been singing in my head, "Out of the ashes we rise...there's no one like You...none like You."

Fri.-Another day of keeping on going while feeling numb, especially for Phil. He continues to make lists of things that were in the shop. Guys hunting and running errands. Dianna came to be with me. The Bate's came later and it's always a fun challenge to see if I can get Archer to like me. He did let me hold him for a minute or two. I gave him a baby doll and he kissed her head. Susan and I made Christmas plates for gifts. We ate leftovers all day. Watched Willy Wonka. Rosalee called to let me know they are praying. Michael and Philip started on antibiotics for same gunk I have. Michael went to Belks and bought the black woolen overcoat he's been longing for. Philip shopping with Christi. Freeman was his dad's best friend today. Making coffee, helping with list, running to Powatan to buy a chain saw. Phil, Susan, and I went to Janelle's tonight to play 'Apples to Apples' with her and her parents. On the way there, Susan told us how great it was to have parents who remained calm in a crisis and how that helped her remain calm as well. I think that meant more to me than anything-to have her say that to us.
I am thankful for my husband and family and how dear and close each one is to me especially during this time. I am thankful that the fire burned away my dullness of spirit. I am thankful for those who call and have reached out to us in visible ways, and I am thankful for those who are caring in invisible ways as well. I feel broken and carried, humbled and peaceful, uncertain and sure, and close to His heart because He is here.

Sat.-Washed, tidied the house, made scrapple, finished plates, and made a huge container of spaghetti and meat balls. Philip and Susan hunted for most of the day. Freeman helped Phil here and there and Michael and Phil cleaned up. Whatever can be burned is being burned today. We are in throw out mode and want to clean up trash that would get in our way of simplifying our lives. We are asking the question, "What do you want me to do with my life?"

We are thankful for family and friends who call and check in on how we are doing. I am thankful for time to rest this afternoon. I am thankful for Christmas movies and for the spiritual treasure in each of them, even the Santa ones.

Sun.-Woke up early and drove to my brother's cabin in W.Va. Got lost so it took us an extra 1 1/2 hours through winding mountains up and down to get there. Rosalee and Jim, Annika and Stew were there, as well as Chloe and Charlie and Daisy, David and Margaret's dear dogs. I was so sick when we arrived and Chloe stayed right with me until I got some color back into my face. They served us a huge breakfast (which I did not eat) and also lunch before we left. We sat around and talked and played 'Apples to Apples'. Philip, Michael, and Susan were talking about childhood memories on the way there. They have many good ones. I found out some things I didn't know about. It was so nice to be with my family. On the way home, I got really sick again. It was good to get home and lay down on a still bed.
I am thankful for the typed diary notes from my mother. Rosalee gave me the next edition. It is so great to read about the things we said and did as we were growing up. When I was six, I was reading everything. Mother was amazed. I also liked to dress up my little brother in girl's clothes. I don't think it did him any harm. I am thankful for the peace and beauty in the W. Va. countryside. I am thankful for solid ground.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Looking at you

I am reading a most wonderful book by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D., entitled, "Living, Loving, and Learning." It is a collection of his lectures that were delivered worldwide between 1970 and 1981. I am sipping it slowly like a hot cup of mocha. It is just that good.

I read something in it a few weeks ago that has been life changing for me. It's changed how I look at my family and the children at school and others I come in contact with. He was talking about death and what it teaches us. This is what he said.

"Death isn't a spooky thing. Death teaches us the value of time. We realize how precious it is. We realize we don't have forever! Death teaches us to look and to see... and that the people we love aren't going to be the same all the time."

"We don't even look at each other any more! We're so busy doing things that we don't stop to look at each other."

He said more on the subject but because of his words, I realized how little I really look at the people around me. Susan is getting a bit weirded out when I just gaze at her so I have to be sneaky about it. Sometimes I lose track of what people are saying because I am so intent on just looking at their precious faces, but soon, I will learn how to look and listen at the same time.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have some questions that I've been asking myself and others.

"Why does the 'world' dislike 'the church'?

"Why did sinners like being with Jesus?"

"Why did Jesus take issue with the Pharisees?"

"Does the world not like the church for the same reason that Jesus
didn't like the Pharisees?"

"If the church was like Jesus, would the world like being with the church?"

Not only am I asking these questions,
I am troubled by these questions
and the answers that are taking shape.

Hertzler Doings-Nov. 15-21, 2010

Mon.-Such a nice day at home, washing clothes, cleaning, blogging, studying, cooking. When Phil brought Susan home from school, they went hunting right away, but it began to rain and they didn't see anything. Made venison meatloaf, mashed potatoes, succotash, and salad for supper and Janelle and Micah came over to enjoy it with us. Buddy came along to visit with Roxy especially and Micah gave us a blow by blow account of the goings on.

I am thankful for the pit-a-pat of the warm autumn rain.
I am thankful for the smell of wood smoke in the damp evening air.
I am thankful for a sit down supper and lots of leftovers for tomorrow.
I am thankful for the promised plane ticket and the smile it brought to Susan's face.

Tues.-I loved today. It was dark, rainy and windy outside, but the smiles and warmth inside the school were like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove. When every class came into my room I thought, "This is my favorite group." I went through piano withdrawal this weekend. I kept looking for a piano in our guest's home even though I knew they didn't have one. They are hoping to get one soon. So today, I played piano during some free time as I often do, but it was sweeter since my piano bank was a bit empty, although I played for awhile at home yesterday. Mrs. Jones gave my 5/6th class some good advice. I had split them in groups of two and while one group sang, the other group watched them for areas they could improve as well as areas they were doing well. After one criticism that was a bit harsh, she made the suggestion that when we give constructive criticism, we should give some encouragement first, and then make a helpful suggestion about a way they could improve. I really liked that and wanted them to grasp that concept as a life lesson. I would love to have a select choir for grades 2-6. There are some beautiful voices in those grades and no one's voice has changed. After school we had a pep rally and I learned a little dance. We are doing well on our fund raiser and are about 4/5ths of the way to our goal. Susan's class earned an ice cream party. Select choir practiced their two songs and we will sing them for the school tomorrow after chapel. Susan and I went to Walmart afterwards where I choked for the second time today and could hardly stop coughing long enough to breathe. It was a bit scary both times but the people at the meat counter came over to me and gave me water and were most sympathetic. Susan and I lost each other for awhile and she was getting worried when she couldn't find me because she was worried that I would be worried about her. When we got home, Michael was here, and it was nice to hear about his time at Niagara Falls with Cutco. He had a framed letter that will do wonders for his resume. He took lots of pictures and videos of the Cutco Factory. Jordan came and hung out here for the eve. Philip has a bad sore throat. It got dark so early tonight and the leaves were blowing all over the place. I hope to go to bed early tonight so I can listen to the wind without any other distractions.

I am thankful for the gift of sanity after feeling a bit whacked out last week.
I am thankful for Michael's desire to comfort Philip who is sorrowing over the same news that broke Susan's heart the other day.
I am thankful for popcorn and family and wet stormy evenings.

Wed.-Good day at school. The children were rather rowdy. One class was especially rowdy and I asked, 'What did you just eat?' and they said, 'Candy Apples.' But then the next class was rowdy too. Maybe it's full moon. Maybe a storm system is coming in and the barometric pressure is dropping. We are working on our Christmas songs. I get so attached to these children. One family moved recently and it was really tough to see those children go. Today, I had to ask myself some difficult questions. If I were the only Christ an individual would ever come in contact with, would he/she want to know Him? If whatever we do to the least of these is how we treat Jesus, how are we treating Him?
Went to church tonight. Took Missi to Applebee's for a belated 40th birthday supper. Susan was at Vertical Edge. She always shares the sermon notes with me on the way home. She takes notes on her ipod. Then she sang worship songs and other songs the rest of the way home. She had a good talk with her dad before going to bed.
I am thankful that Michael gave us such a good deal on two new Cutco skillets that should last me the rest of my life and then some.
I am thankful that Jesus said we should pray instead of fret and He is helping me do that.
I am thankful for my little singer and her beautiful voice.
I am thankful that she understands justice and loyalty.
I am thankful that tomorrow is another day to hope to see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

Thurs.-Today after chapel, we ran through the students songs for Lessons and Carols and they did rather well. For art, I had the children cut out cloud like shapes and 'glue' them onto a white piece of paper with water. I had wrapped yarn around cardboard and we dipped that in green paint and tapped that onto the paper to make grass over the whole sheet. Then we took off the shapes and white blobs (sheep) were left. When the paper dried, we painted on black faces, ears, and legs. They dipped their finger in bright pink paint and made flowers with 3,4,or 5 petals. After that was dried in the dehydrator (which I use to dry many art projects in a hurry), they painted white eyes on the black faces, and little black dots on the white after the white was dried. I am mounting them on a purple background and they are really very cute. I want to put up verses around them when I display them. "All we like sheep have gone astray..." " While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night", etc. Mrs. Jones liked them so much she is going to help her 2 year old granddaughter make the project. Graham and Susan helped clean up the room and then he and his mother joined us at Dairy Queen for some ice cream.

In chapel today, we heard about a missionary and talked about serving people around us. I thought about how the school is my mission field. I could be sitting beside a child who needs to know the gospel of salvation. I am either drawing people to Him or pushing them away. I have a short time to influence each child. Years from now, what will they think about God when they think about me?

Yesterday I read something about alternatives in Leo Buscaglia's book. He said, "Find alternatives. The patterns that you are in are only one possibility. There are thousands of possibilities for everything...I am beginning to believe that maybe the truly mentally healthy individual is the one who has the most alternatives, the most viable alternatives. A person who can say, "If this doesn't happen, what else and what else and what else, is possible?" " ~~~~~

I am thankful for the littlest reader in the school who wanted me to sit and have lunch with her. She saw my cucumbers and said hungrily, "I love cucumbers." She wolfed it down.
I am thankful for good friends and good conversations.
I am thankful that Freeman and Philip stopped in at Dairy Queen at the same time we were there. It was nice to see them.
I am thankful that Phil found his 'lost' hunting clothes in a storage vehicle. We had taken all of his stuff out of the office in the old house when they were working on it and put it in the white van and he couldn't figure out where everything was. Thanks to Philip for his good idea.
I am thankful for alternatives and hope and freedom.

Fri.-Throat very sore. Body achey but no fever. Met some friends in Farmville for lunch. Alli picked up Susan at school and they stopped at the red box and got two movies-"Letters to Juliet" and "Sherlock Holmes." We ate pizza and watched movies. Alli's spending the night since Freeman is going bear hunting with Phil. I am thankful for a hot bath, clean sheets, and a warm house. I am thankful for Judy's invitation to be part of her family's Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow. I am thankful for Phil's sweet words this morning before he left. He said he thanks God every day that I am his wife and friend.

Sat.-Throat not as sore but still feel feverish. Day of mostly rest. Watched all three 'Back to the Future' movies with Susan and did lots of wash and cleaning up, cooking, etc. on the commercials. Jordan, Philip, and Michael went to pick up office furniture in Richmond for Michael for future Cutco office. Played the piano. I try to play something I've never played before several times a week to keep my brain keen. I think it is somewhat like reading a new concept and thinking about it. My mother reads difficult books. My grandmother won Scrabble games and ate fish. I join them by doing some deliberate activities in an effort to keep my mind keen. When the children were young, I had a hard time completing a thought or finishing a sentence. I am trying to break out of that habit of disrupted thought and uncertainty in speaking by writing what I think since I still feel rather clutzy in my speech. I hope it is helping me.

I am thankful for how much I really miss Phil. I am thankful that Alli was here until nearly noon and that she is so easy to be around. She and Susan snuggle like sisters on the sofa. I am thankful that the promise of a future and a hope helps us get through present day difficulties.

Sun.-Susan went to church with Philip and Alli brought her home. I stayed in my chair and watched Christmas movies all day. Still feel lousy. I can't remember what else happened this day since I'm writing this on Monday and cold meds make me feel so disconnected with reality. I am thankful for a day of rest and for the wonderful movie about forgiveness. I am thankful that Phil's mom didn't mind that we called her a few days later than her actual birthday. I am thankful that Phil is home.

Cutting off Ears

Peter was upset.
He was asleep and Jesus woke him up...again.
Then, the soldiers and the mob came and grabbed Jesus.
They were like animals wanting to kill.

Peter took his sword and went for a head.
Oops. He got only an ear.
Jesus took the ear and put it back on.
What the world?!
What was He saying?
"Put your sword away.
Don't you know I could call thousands of angels
to come and deliver me?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled,
that things must happen this way?"Matthew 26
The Psalmist said that all our days are written in a book.

I wonder how many times I try to prevent
the things that are written there?
I say, "I will not allow my child to go through this.
I will not go through this myself."

I take out my sword and go for some heads,
but Jesus fixes what I've destroyed in the process
of refusal,
and says,
"This is what is written in your book.
This is what you must go through.
This is what you must learn.
This is your cross, your death, your resurrection.

Don't miss it for anything
and don't read ahead.

And remember, I am with you always,
to the end of your book and beyond."
I haven't quite put my sword away.
I've thought about laying it down
but that would mean that I fully trust Him
and He and I know better than to pretend
that that's true.

But someday soon,
I hope to lay it down,
and it will be melted by His fire
and shaped into a plow.

And instead of lopping off the
ears of perceived enemies,
I will be feeding them
the produce
from my garden.

Kept By a Song

Matthew says that after Jesus and His disciples
shared their last supper together,
they sang a hymn.

In spite of knowing what was ahead, He sang.

I wonder if the memory
of the melodic male music
helped keep His sanity
as He travailed in the garden.

I wonder if He heard the echoes
over the cries of "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!"

I wonder if He heard them singing
when the nails went in.

If He could sing even though He knew
what was about to happen,
then I can sing too.

I don't know what's ahead,
but He does,
and He still sings.

Speaking for Myself

The deeper my ears are hearing,
the quieter I become.
The quieter I am,
the more I am present.
My depth of silence equals
my depth of absorption
of the truths I am hearing.

Never fear,
I am here.
I am quiet,
but I am here.

What if we Fought Obstacles instead of Each Other?

We had to let our newly just-about-adopted German Shepherd, Roco, go to another home. He was more than we could handle. Our female dogs are in mourning. Susan went to comfort them. "Poor things," she said. "You were sad when he came and now you're sad when he's gone. You can't live with him and you can't live without him."

Sometimes, if we imagine life without a person with whom we are having a hard time, it gives us a bit more grace to live life with them. Our perspective changes and we realize how much they mean to us.

A friend shared something with me years ago. She and her brother-in-law did not get along. She said, "But, I am sure, that if we were in a concentration camp, and caught a glimpse of each other's faces, we would crawl between people's legs just to get to one another."

Perhaps we are in an enemy's camp when we are at odds with each other. I wonder what would happen, if instead of keeping our distance, we would 'crawl between people's legs' just to get to one another. What if we fought obstacles instead of each other? What if we used our energy to stay together rather to stay apart? What if we worked together to build good walls to keep out the enemy rather than building walls to keep each other away?

I am thinking about these things.
I am thinking about being proud and being right.
I am thinking about being humble and not needing to win.
I am thinking about these things.


Psalm 17:6b~"Incline Your ear to me..."

I was sitting at my desk,
watching Angel as she rested with Roxy on our front yard.

Phil walked from one room to the other inside the house.
Angel's ears perked up and she waited
hopefully for his appearance at the door.
Roxy belongs to another
and she didn't hear the footsteps of Angel's master.

I've been hearing the footsteps of God.
My ears are perked up
and I wait hopefully for His appearing.
I belong to Him
and I know the way He walks.

My eyes long to see Him whom I hear.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hertzler Doings~Nov.1-7, 2010

Mon.-Spent the day in Farmville after dropping car off at Davis Pontiac. Lindsay came and got me and we home schooled Emma and Adi together. They learned their S's and worked on a sea animal booklet. Lindsay is a natural teacher and the girls learning process continues during nap time. I heard Adi saying, "Two S's, Three S's, Four S's" as she counted on her fingers while resting in bed. We took an excursion into town and dropped off chairs at The Grind, looked at the Christmas decorations inside the shops, and ate fries at Walker's Diner. I stayed with the girls and watched Tinkerbelle while Gil and Lindsay went on campus to meet with students. Phil picked up Susan since I didn't get the car until after 4:30.
I am thankful for the beautiful artistry and creativity in the Tinkerbelle movie.
I am thankful for the nifty craft ideas I got while visiting the shops in town.
I am thankful that Michael is home this week.

Tues.-Good day in school. Select Choir keeps getting better. In one song, "The African Noel", seven people are singing 5 different parts. Really beautiful. Went to Walmart and the library to drop off books after school. Made pumpkin pie for us and pumpkin bars for teachers meal tomorrow this eve.
I am thankful for caring teachers. I am thankful that God will make a way when there seems to be no way. I am thankful for the Thanksgivingy fragrance of pumpkin and cinnamon which makes me feel all Christmassy inside. I am thankful, because of the songs we've been practicing for the Christmas program, that by the time Christmas comes around, I will have been thinking about Jesus in a manger, shepherds, wisemen, and glorias for at least three months.

Wed.-School. In the eve., I walked around Longwood Campus before small group, praying and feeling bold and invisible. I am thankful that God's invitation to peace, reconciliation, and friendship is based on the premise of truth and trust and forgiveness.
I am thankful that He said, "Cast all of your cares upon me."

Thurs.-Susan and Graham sang 'Silent Night' in chapel. It was sweet and peaceful. We've been practicing the different classroom songs at the end of chapel. I met Lisa H. at Baine's and as always, she helps me, and I am so thankful for this friendship. A little boy came into art class with a tear streaked face and I took his adorable little face in my hands and said, "Jesus loves you. Mrs. Hertzler loves you." And he gulped back more tears and got ahold of the love of God. I watched it happen. Guss said, "Mrs. Hertzler loves everybody in the whole school," and I said, "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. I'm going to have to write that down." The other little boys said, "I love you, Mrs. Hertzler. Are you going to write that down?" And I said, "Yes," and here it is. We made little owl pictures and they are just so cute. I worked on another origami project with the second graders. We made clackers, snappers or poppers. I forget what they are actually called. We folded big paper a certain way and then snapped them down and they made a wonderful loud sound. For some reason, I found it exhilarating. One little girl got into it with her body, facial expression, and flying hair and I got her to perform with her popper for Mrs. Jones. Susan and I went to get our weekly ice cream and came home to find Alli braving the role of hunter's wife as she vacuumed packed raw meat. I am busy doing wash and packing. I'm meeting Naomi in Harrisonburg tomorrow morning and I can't wait. My throat, foot, back, neck, and heart is sore and I dearly need a new perspective. I am thankful for dear little boys. I am thankful for second grade. I am thankful for Susan's happiness. I am thankful for peacemakers.

Fri.-Rough night I was thinking too much and the dogs were barking too much and I was having difficulty breathing. Drove to Bridgewater after dropping Susan off at school. I had about 2 1/2 hours to myself before Naomi could get there so I spent some time at the Dayton Farmer's Market. I bought a few things-a book -"When God Weeps" by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes-(Steve would walk on Park Road and I'd see him sometimes as I looked out our house window. He is just an ordinary guy with an inordinate amount of humility which makes him great in the eyes of God. Susan was a baby when this book came out); some bulk food including gummy sunny side up eggs, and a very sour freshly squeezed lemonade. I saw a group of Mennonites having some sort of meeting at the lunch table and 'The Mennonite Weekly' was sitting there between them and I so badly wanted to flip it open and point out the article on Janelle and say, "That's my sister in law and my daughter took that picture!" I wasn't sure what they would think about that and lost my nerve somewhere on the pathway towards proper behavior. I went back into Bridgewater and parked at our meeting place. When I saw Naomi's car driving into the back street I jumped out of the car and waved my arms and then the guy kept driving and turned towards the bank and I sheepishly acted like I was looking beyond him at someone else when there was really no one there at all. Oh, the silliness of pride and I've got it. It was wonderful to see Naomi when she did get there. After I got into her car, she handed me an invitation to her parent's 50th wedding anniversary. I scanned it and asked, 'Did you print these already?" because I caught a typo right away. She knew about it and that's why she had handed it to me. "We would like you invite you.." she said in her nasally high pitched horrified dutchified voice. She had sealed all of the invitations before she caught it although several people had proofread it and everything. It became one of our jokes for the weekend. "We would like you invite you.." we said over and over again. Later, her brother Sammy suggested that they give a prize to the person at the party who could write down the typing if they tried to make it that way. Oh my. So much laughing. We drove to Krissy's apartment and put some groceries in her fridge. Krissy ended up going to see Zack this weekend instead of hanging out with us but it worked out fine. Naomi and I walked by the river and talked and cried and talked some more.
We went to 'Taste of Thai' for supper and I was in my glory with a platter of Chicken Cashew with Rice. Our server was an oriental man. As he was getting our order, a waitress behind him dropped her tray which resulted in a terrific noise, broken plates, and flying food. He jumped and looked behind him and then rolled his eyes and shook his head. Naomi thought maybe this wasn't the first time this had happened for this waitress and she was quite a pro at sweeping up the mess with a broom and dust pan and brush. I asked our waiter if he was from Thailand and he said he was from Loas and had spent some time in the camps and then moved to Thailand and then to the states. He wondered what part of Thailand I had been in and why and when I told him that my brother in law and his wife were missionaries in Thailand and that he had been killed in Thailand, etc. he said with great compassion, "A drunk driver? So sorry." And he stood there and was quiet for a second and I felt comforted. After supper, we went to the Oriental grocery store right behind the restaurant, and I bought some sticky rice and fish sauce. Now I need a good cashew chicken recipe and this is what I will eat breakfast, lunch, and supper for the rest of my life.

Susan called. She was happy. Philip had joined her for lunch at school. Mrs. Loy had taken good care of him. Freeman picked her up from school. She was wondering where the yeast was because she wanted to make a homemade pizza since Michael had eaten the one she was planning on making for supper. I suggested she make a pizza using Bisquick crust and she was off and running.

Naomi and I made our home base at Sammy and Marta's. Her brother and his wife have three children, ages 15, 11, and 7. They built their lovely home on top of a knoll in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley and mountains. Every window in their house is a picture of serenity and beauty.

(Sammy told this funny story about his and Naomi's dad. Their dad has a hook for a hand due to a farming accident. (Which is another story all on its own, fraught with humor in the midst of the tragedy.) One day, he took the hand of a manikin up to the store clerk and said that he wanted to buy it. So after we stopped laughing, I told how Phil asked a waitress if the restaurant had any scruples and she said, "I'll go back and check." She wasn't overly excited about coming back to our table.)

We watched a movie, 'A walk in the Clouds', and because we kept falling asleep, we watched it again on Sat.

I am thankful for people who make you feel like family just because you are with their family or maybe just because it is the way they are. I am thankful that I finally found the house plan of my dreams and I drew it out for Phil. I am thankful for friendships that last through the years and that when you get together, no time has lapsed, and you pick up where you left off. I am thankful for our dear husbands who are happy that we have a chance to get together with our dearest friends.

Sat.-Took it easy in the morning. Drank lots of tea and coffee. We were getting ready to go shopping at the mall and Naomi was drying her hair so I stood in the doorway (about 12 inches from her face) to watch her and her eyes were closed and her lips were pursed and she was humming a little tune that I memorized by the time she was done. I kept expecting her to open her eyes and see me and sometimes she did open her eyes but she was watching herself in the mirror and didn't see me. Well, this whole thing just had me laughing so hard I could hardly stand upright and of course she couldn't hear me because of the noise and when she finally did see me, I really scared her, which set me off to laughing even harder and the kids came running because they thought we were crying and that something was wrong and I told them that about once a year I have a nervous breakdown while laughing and that I was due for one. All this while I was in hysterics to the point of tears and I finally went into the other bathroom and then Naomi was looking for me and she asked Jacob-7, where I was and he said, "She's probably in the bathroom having her nose is broke down," whereupon, Lucas, 11, corrected him by saying, "Nervous breakdown" and Jacob, who has trouble with saying his r's, said, "Noivous breakdown." Which gave us another whole wonderful experience to laugh about.

So, Naomi and I went shopping at Penney's because they had fantastic 50% off sales plus door buster sales, plus a scratch off card, and we inherited a 30% off card so I was buying $44.00 dress pants for $13.00 and we just had the time of our lives. We ate lunch at Country Cooking halfway through our shopping excursion and headed for home close to dusk and had chili and celery with cheese and popcorn for supper while we rewatched our movie. Marta and Emma joined us after they came home from their Mystery Supper.

I am thankful that Naomi said she was able to sleep in spite of the fact that I snored. I am thankful for the great buys and the way Naomi can put things together since I have no idea how to dress myself properly. I am thankful that I am not worried about my family because Susan and Phil are in charge taking care of things. I found out later that she got to go hunting today. Michael is at Niagara Falls with Cutco. Freeman and Alli are in D.C. with Chi Alpha.

Sun.-Nice leisurely morning. Tidied up our things and their's before leaving a bit before noon while they were in church. Went to Francesca's for lunch and had delicious homemade rolls, salad, and manicotti and cannoli's and a raspberry creme cake for dessert. We took our leftovers back to Krissy's for her to enjoy and took another walk by the river before parting ways around 3 and this time, I had to cry. I made it home before 5. Later in the eve, a friend called with some tough news for Susan and it was almost too much for both teller and hearer to bear. I can't talk about it.
Watched some of a 007 movie with Phil after I put most of my stuff away. Susan texted Makenzie. I am thankful for them both. I am thankful for the way Phil just watches me and smiles and for his kind words, "I missed you every minute of every day. I am so glad you are home." I am thankful for my big tub and a new book to read.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I finished reading my favorite Old Testament book recently.

When I read 'Isaiah,' I think, "This is for me.
I am part of spiritual Israel.
Zion is where His Temple dwells
and I am His Temple,
fit together with other temples of God
to make a living tabernacle in which He can dwell."

I am not sure if any other book lays open the
heart of God towards His own as Isaiah does.

I take His words and eat them and they are to me
the joy and rejoicing of my heart,
for I am called by His name.

I want everyone to read these words
and know His love,
so I post verses on face book,
hoping, praying,
for a hungry soul to grasp the intensity
of His love for them,
and once in awhile,
I can see that they do.

Isaiah's words burn like fire in my bones
and I feel God's passion to reveal
Himself to His children
as Almighty God,
full of loving kindness and truth,
willing to do what it takes
to draw a wayward people back to Himself,
so He can lead them into righteousness
to make for Himself a glorious name.
There are so many wonderful verses in Isaiah,
loaded with actual and spiritual meaning.
Here are just a few.

10:27-"It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil."

(Bondage will be broken and destroyed with the anointing oil. Reveal in our lives the truth of these words. )

11:2-"The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD."

(He was prophesying about Jesus. This is the same Spirit that rests and abides in us!)

25:7,8-"And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken."

(I can't wait.)

Isaiah is a book to read and reread.

I think what moves me the most is the fact that God wants a relationship with His children so much, that even though they turn from Him and He chastises them, He brings them back to Himself, and gives them another chance to love Him. Meanwhile, His heart breaks at the devastation of their sin and the pain His rebuke causes them.

I can't read Isaiah without weeping.
I weep for God and His naked heart.
I weep for His heartache and mercy.

Heartbroken, Merciful God.

Hertzler Doings~November 1-7,2010

Mon.-Washing, Cleaning, Cooking turkey, succotash, baked potato salad, and tossed salad. Picked up Susan from school and headed for Lynchburg to buy the dear growing child some clothing. Found great deals at Penney's. On the way home, just out of Lynchburg on 460, Susan began saying, "Deer, deer, DEER! DEER!.." and I suddenly realized she meant 'Watch out for the DEER!" Crossing the left lane, a huge buck lumbered slowly across 460, and I slammed my brakes hard, just missing him I don't know how. We kept thanking God and our hearts were pounding for quite some time. Then we got silly and it was too cold to put the windows down. We were doing some stand up comedy sitting down in the car. Susan said the buck was suicidal. I thought he was just confused.

I am thankful that the goodness of God's character does not change and if we were killed tonight, it would not have changed His goodness and I am thankful that life's circumstances were good to us tonight, and for those around us who would surely have been injured as well.
I am thankful for a warm house and as much hot water as we need.
I am thankful that Phil is giving Susan a chance to train Roco instead of giving him away like he thought he was going to do.

Tues.-Good day at school although I found myself being a bit short on fun and patience due to fretting over the fact that we only have two more classes after today to learn our Christmas songs and one of the classes were not settling down and getting to work. Up to this point, it's been fun and games but now we need to get down to business. There was a pep rally at the end of school for the Servathon. Select Choir practiced their two songs and Susan and Graham practiced 'Silent Night' with Graham playing the guitar. Susan and I went to Millie's to look for a jacket for her and then she went to Baine's to buy a smoothie with a gift certificate that someone had passed on to her. They had just won it at the pep rally but never went to Baine's so Susan jokingly said, "Can I have it?" and he said, "Sure." We went to vote at the fire hall. I was number 645. There was 1 1/2 hours left to vote and more than half of the registered voters had voted by the time I got there. It was the busiest I've ever seen it. We came home and put away the groceries I had bought in the morning and made some sausage and egg sandwiches for supper. Phil went over to Freeman, wherever he was, and helped him load his buck on the truck. Freeman butchered it here. Michael is in Richmond. Philip went to vote and trap. Susan was busy with her bunnies and Roco, chores, and homework. Just found out the Hurt won by a close margin. I did wash and cleaned up a bit and am hoping to hit the sack before 10.

I am thankful for strength for the day.
I am thankful that although my neck hurts from last nights braking, it was helped with some pain meds. I am thankful for the responses I got on face book when I told them I was drinking tea out of my mug that says, "Things could be worse...we could be trying on swim suits." I asked them what their favorite mug said and I got many responses. I felt like I had a cup of tea/coffee with all those who responded.

Wed.-Good day at school. Susan is undertaking Roco's discipline at home. So far this week, he has killed a rabbit and a chicken and he's considered taking down a cow or two. So far today, he's left his mark all over the place in the boy's entry room and scratched up Philip's truck and chased a little dog that has yet to return to it's owners. We think he might need to go to a better home. He reminds me of a preadolescent who is good natured but doesn't know his boundaries. He welcomes discipline. He just doesn't know any better but he's learning fast.
In the eve., Missi and I went to Judy's. Judy was mending PLou's jacket and I sewed a few things of my own and played with Sammy Jo. It was a great time and I haven't laughed like that for awhile.
I am thankful that Dr. F. saw me tonight and explained how I slammed on the brakes with both feet and that is why my ankle is twisted and my wrists are so sore and my neck is a mess, etc. I've been getting achier each day. I am thankful for the way my second graders gathered around me and sang their song while I played the guitar. We decided to do it that way for the program. I am thankful for a warm house and the warm smiles my husband gives me. I am thankful for two more deer for the freezer.

Thurs.-Practiced some Christmas songs in chapel. For art, we made little owl scene using construction paper, paint, and googly eyes. They turned out beautifully and are hanging in the hallway. One of the K4's told me that she didn't like music but she likes art. I was a bit uptight yesterday because they weren't getting their song so I kept making them sing it over and over. I don't have many practices left before the program. I realized after she said that, that music should be fun for little kids her age, and I am going to lighten up and not worry so much if they get it together. I'll go in their room and practice with them several times a week for a minute or two instead of making them sing the same song 5 times in a row and expecting them to remember it from one week to the next. My foot really bothered me today. Need to make about 30 bake sale calls tonight and tomorrow. Michael was home tonight. He's going out for a Cutco demonstration and then will leave for Liberty for a Weekend later tonight. Phil and Philip are out hunting.
I am thankful for leftovers. I am thankful for my friends at school. I am thankful for chapel and liturgy and the comfort of familiar words. I am thankful for my brother-in-law, Johnny, who would have turned 41 today. I am so thankful that I knew him from the time he was 12 until he was 36. He really was the one who gave me my gray hair. I noticed them first the morning after the Thai benefit banquet and then more after I emceed at their wedding reception, etc. I missed him today. I spent a good half hour in the chapel playing songs about heaven. I tried to sing them but couldn't very well. I love and miss you Johnny.

Fri.-When Phil and I woke up this morning, Philip had a story to tell. Michael, Travis, and Jordan were headed to Liberty For a Weekend last night. It was raining. They were on 633, not far from our place. Michael warned Travis to slow down at a particularly bad corner. Travis did. Suddenly, his steering gave out and they went off the road, taking down a mailbox and a sign, and bouncing through a ditch and coming to a stop at a stone wall. They were all wearing their seat belts. Michael couldn't get out his passenger side and had to crawl out Travis's door. He called Philip before he even tried getting out. So Philip went to be with them. He arrived a few seconds before the police, and the ambulance and firetruck came shortly afterwards. Pizza and Dr. Pepper were all over the car. Michael picked up a piece of pizza. One of the firemen told him that there were probably shards of glass all over it and Michael blew on it and proceeded to eat it. The windows were shattered but they were still in place. Travis's car is totalled. His dad came and got him last night and Jordan came here. Michael was planning to go to Liberty tomorrow but he's gotten increasingly sore all day. He bumped his head on the sunroof and that is tender but his back muscles are bothering him the most. The road was slick where they had the accident and there have been other accidents there. I saw a car on its roof mid day one time. I am so thankful that they are alive and basically well. Thank you, Thank you, God. It seems we have had a lot of close calls lately and I thought about the verse, 'When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord raises up a standard against him,' and I began to thank Him for that standard that He has raised.

I made some chocolate dipped pretzel rods and caramel corn for the bake sale. Also made chili with macaroni for Chi Alpha and chicken tortilla mix and venison tortilla mix and we should have food for a day or two. Made 20 some calls for the bake sale to remind people about what they wanted to bring and to tell them where they should bring it. Have iced my foot several times today. Susan had a good day at school. Michael went to Jordan's and now they are back here for the night. Freeman shot a big doe with his flint lock this evening. I'm ready to call it quits and hit the sack and it's not quite 7:30. Guess I'll watch Monk for awhile.

I am thankful that although I felt worried about the boys going off last night in the rain, I decided not to worry, and I realize that worrying wouldn't have helped at all even if the worry proved to be valid, and instead, I felt the grace of God when I heard the news, and I felt thankful through and through. I am thankful that Susan understands that it would be better for Roco to go to a new home. And I am thankful that his new owners are coming tonight to pick him up. She brought him into the house a minute ago and he put his legs on my lap and read my blog for a second. He really is so likable in a larger than life sort of way.

Sat.-Busy cleaning up outside and inside, getting ready for Chi Alpha group coming from Longwood. About 20 of them showed up around 3:45. The first thing they saw was Philip, Travis, Michael, and Jordan butchering Philip's deer. Last time, I think he was butchering a beaver. Phil took them on a hay ride around the farm. Adi wanted to stay with me so we made play dough per her request. Two of the girls came in to fill up the water container. When I came back into the house they said, 'You have a beautiful house. We like all of the verses you have posted all over your kitchen.' I thought about how frustrated I had been today with my lack of housekeeping skills and how I seem to have passed that lack on to my children. I don't notice this particular lack until we are getting ready for company and then I get uptight. But they told me my house was beautiful and when they went out the door, one of them smiled back at me and said, "God loves you, Annette." I was deeply moved because I know God loves me, but it was overwhelming to hear it said from someone I didn't know. I knew she was saying what she was hearing. I knew that God had just told me He loved me. We had a fun night. They had a soap carving contest. They carved a bar of Ivory with plastic knives and I saw an acorn, cross, cow, Christmas Tree, XA, and something else...I forget. We roasted hot dogs and extra large marshmallows. I set up a table outside so Adi and Emma could play with play dough and toys outside. At one point in the evening they took out my exercise mat and laid out my weights and stretching equipment on the front lawn. Philip said that they said, "Just one more and we'll be done." Back and forth they went on their mission. I read 'The Little Engine That Could' to Adi outside by the fire in the dark with a flashlight and I think some of the college students listened in. The Bantons stayed for awhile with us in the house after everyone else left and Philip entertained us all with his antics with the little girls. Michael, Travis, Chace, and Jordan went to Red Lobster for Travis's birthday supper. It's a yearly tradition. Earlier I had made a hot fudge sundae cake with ice cream for Travis' birthday. They liked that.
I am thankful for friends.
I am thankful for friends who are like family.
I am thankful for the beautiful sunset tonight. I was holding Emma and telling her how God was painting the sky with some sponge brushes and she said, "No, it's from the fire." And I said, "Oh, that's interesting. Is the sky pink from the fire?" "Yes." "That's nice. I didn't know that."

Sun.-Nice long time to study this morning due to change in time. Set up bake sale at church. Was in and out of church but I'll tell you my sermon for today. A father and daughter were interviewed by Pastor Rob. They had gone on a missions trip together to South Dakota. Chelsea is probably 11 years old or so. PR asked her what her most meaningful experience was. She said that she met a boy and his shoes were falling apart and she gave him some duct tape to tape them back together. It makes me cry again, just writing it. She gave him what she had. Duct tape with peace signs. If she would have given him money, it would have never gone for shoes. If she had bought him shoes, someone would have stolen them or he would have gotten hurt from an envious peer. But she gave him what she had and that's all we can do. Then, at the bake sale, I saw a young man empty his pockets of coins and put them into the gallon container that held our money. He, too, gave what he could. All in all, we made something like $820.13. Every penny will go towards helping a child to be less hungry. We think it's not that much. They'll just be hungry tomorrow. But if you were hungry today, wouldn't you like to have a dollar to buy a hamburger? It's hard to see beyond today when you are truly hungry.

After church, Amy took Susan and I to the Daily Grind and we helped Dianna and her get ready for Laurel's shower. That was fun. Laurel got alot of nice things for Baby Ivan who is due to arrive sometime this month. The food, punch, and cake was delicious. I was in my glory because I finally got to hold baby Isaac. I've been wanting to hold him for awhile now, but when his daddy holds him in church, I think I should just let him hold him, because I think he is a busy man and doesn't get to just hold his son as often as he'd like. Phil came and got us around 3 and we came home and watched a movie and I also read a book about Mozart's sister. The guys are at Travis's birthday party at his parents house. Susan is hanging out with us and texting Makenzie.

I am thankful that Roco is doing well in his new home.
I am thankful for answered prayer.
I am thankful that we got over twice as much as what I was hoping to make in the bake sale.
I am thankful for generous hearts that share duct tape and generous pockets emptied of change.