Sunday, May 8, 2016

Saved Through Childbearing

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

The tears ran freely when this hymn was sung in church this morning.  It was the same hymn that caused me to stop singing one Sunday nine years ago as I digested the words.  Singing that I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands was like having vinegar in my mouth and I knew I had to swallow it.  My house had just been taken from my grasp a second time in three years.  I had no land to call my own.  The One whom I’d believed in had given and taken away, taken away more than I could bear. 

Possessions were lost.
Bridges had been burned.
I felt abandoned by God, unworthy of His love.
I did not want to be alive.
I turned to scripture for hope.

“…weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

I kept looking for my morning.  When was the sun going to rise on new joy and hope? 

Life never turns out how you expect and God does have a sense of humor. 

I was praying for money and a new home, but what I got was a positive pregnancy test.  It would only make sense to panic in a situation like mine.  God knew what I wanted, instead he gave me what I needed.  I was desperate for something to call my own.  A new baby was the answer.

I felt a new sense of purpose and hope for the future.  My day started with motivation to move forward (after I got sick of course), and I was headed in the right direction.   

I somehow knew this child within me was a boy and months before he was born his name was determined.  The name Jason means “healer”.  That’s what he was to me before I ever held him in my arms.  Tomorrow he celebrates his 8th birthday.  Oh how I love him!    

Jason, age 8.
“But women will be saved
through childbearing
—if they continue in faith,
love and holiness
with propriety. 
I Timothy 2:15

Jason saved me from negative thoughts, hopelessness and depression.  He was my joy in the morning – born on May 9, 2008 at 6:13 am.
Immediately after Jason was born.
I don't know what you're battling today. 
But know that God sees all of our hurts and He cares for you! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Let it Shine 'til Jesus Comes

At a recent gathering my husband was accused of forming his opinion based upon a certain news station.  I nonchalantly replied for him – “Oh we haven’t turned our TV on in three years, we only watch DVDs.  The conversation then took a different direction.

It was three years ago that the monstrous details of the Sandy Hook shooting left a first grade classroom in Connecticut and poured into our homes.  The age of the victims, the fact that I had just given birth and buried a close friend just put me over the edge.  I remember crying as I drove to church that Sunday; unable to pull myself together.  It was then that I decided that I needed to put limits on my knowledge of current events, so the TV stayed off after that.

“Do not fret because of those who are evil…
Do not fret – it only causes harm.”   
Psalm 37:1,8
“And do not fear those who kill the body,
but cannot kill the soul…” 
Matthew 28:10

But how do we process what is going on in the world without burdening ourselves with stress?  Psalm 37 goes on to say that we should trust and delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart.  It is my desire to have peace of mind despite the evil that has been ignited in recent years and especially these past few months.  It is possible to have peace but we must set boundaries for our concerns.  We must follow the Lord’s leading when we pray, serve and let our light shine; keeping in mind that Christ didn’t heal everyone during his earthly ministry.  He could have circled the globe, but he concentrated his efforts to a specific location and He would often withdraw to lonely places to pray.  (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:15)

"The most loving human to ever walk the

planet didn't say yes to everyone

and at times had to leave the crowds behind. 

And do you think that Jesus didn't have a lot to do? 

You try being the Savior of the world.  Oh, wait! 

That's part of the problem, isn't it? 

Some of us are trying to be a savior,

and that is why we are so busy. 

We are trying to be someone we are not." 

-Doug Fields

Putting a ribbon on the tree for #sandyhook . So every year we
remember to pray for the families & community of #newtown .
My friend Mindy felt led to make a reminder to keep the Sandy Hook tragedy in prayer each year by making a special ornament for her Christmas tree.  She inspirers me with her servant’s heart.

We move on after these tragedies, but prayers are still needed years later.  Do you pray for the families forever impacted beyond the day you hear about them?

The scene of the Amish Schoolhouse shooting is just down the road from where I live.  My errands and journeys take me through Nickel Mines at least once a week.  While the world may forget what happened there, the people of my community will always remember.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Marie Monville speak at a Ladies Christmas Brunch.  The name is likely not familiar to you; but she is the widow of the man responsible for the evil of that October day.  The date of the brunch fell on my birthday and I hesitated to go for fear of reliving the details of nine years ago.  But I felt the Lord wanted me there, so I signed up to attend. 

I couldn't put into words why it was good to stand in the light of this forgotten woman, until I was driving home and saw this church sign. 

Food to feed our doubts is easily accessible. However, the nourishment that our faith is starving for mush be eagerly sought after if we are to thrive in this sin cursed world. 

Many have a soapbox and an agenda after a mass shooting.  Fingers are pointed, laws are proposed and hatred seems to multiply.  Everyone has an opinion but few can see the whole picture and see the hand of God in it all. 

Five years after her world was turned upside down, Marie realized the importance of sharing her story with the world.  She is letting her light shine after Satan seemed to do everything to blow it out.   

"No matter how tragic your circumstances,

your life is not a tragedy. 
It is a love story. 
And in your love story,
when you think all the lights have gone out,
one light still shines."

-Marie Monville 

Despite all that has happened to Marie she never blames
the weapon found in the hand but the evil found in the heart. 
The promise of redemption is the theme of her life.
Not only does she speak publically but has written a book entitled “One Light Still Shines”.  I picked up a copy for myself and already have several sentences of encouragement underlined.  This woman has many reasons to be forever broken and defeated yet her God is there to freely give redemption and restoration that only He can provide. 

Marie shares how she has found “grace in the wilderness” (Jeremiah 31:2).  Her circumstances have given her the eyes to see losses in the lives of others and the capacity to speak life and joy.  The promise of redemption is now her theme as she moves forward with the plans the Lord has for her (Jeremiah 29:11) .

I am challenged to continue my walk with the Lord and the plans he has for me after learning more about the last chapters of this story that  first unfolded nine years ago.  May my path be lit by the lamp of God's Word and not by the glow of the of a TV screen with news from around the world.   

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Strawberry Patch Granola

Strawberry season comes and goes so quickly, especially this year.  We had some great weather, but not enough rain, followed by extreme heat.  So the strawberry crop could have been better, but I'm still grateful for our little harvest.  I went overboard making jam last year during a nesting phase of pregnancy, so I tried something different with our strawberries this year- dehydrating. 

Dried strawberries are surprisingly delicious.  I wasn’t sure what to do with them besides add them to my salad; until it came to me that they would be a delicious addition to granola.  So here is my recipe.  I had a bag of Maca Powder in the kitchen that I hadn’t used in awhile so I threw that in.  While typing up the recipe I was going to link the Maca ingredient to where I purchased it online.  To my surprise the price more than tripled since the last time I purchased it.  It seems that the people of China have fallen in love with this super food too, driving up the price.  If you like chocolate, simply add cocoa or carob powder in place of the Maca.    

This recipe also uses Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil.  Cinnamon was more valuable than gold in the ancient world.  In the past it has been used not only to enhance the flavor of foods but to enhance well being.  The list of cinnamon's health benefits are long, including promoting healthy blood sugar to boosting the immune system.  Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil tastes fabulous in hot tea.  Be sure just to use one drop and stir well to disperse through out the entire cup of tea.   

Strawberry Patch Granola

6 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup Maca Powder
½ cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup honey
1 cup safflower oil
½ cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil

½ cup white chocolate chips
1 handful dehydrated strawberries

Combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients together.  Bake at 250° for 60 minutes in a 13x9 or larger dish.  Stir every 15 minutes.  Add chips and strawberries when baking is complete.  Store in an airtight contain once cool.     

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Darling Darren

As 2014 came to an end so too did my time as an expecting Mother.  Just minutes before our fourth child was born on December 29th I heard the midwife Suzanne say, "I don't think she'll be pregnant much longer" to a nurse in the room.  I don't recall exactly why she said it, but I know it encouraged me as those final moments were filled with fear and excruciating pain.  I recall whispering a prayer of "Father help me" a few times that morning and He did.  There is no other explanation of how a woman my size gave birth to such a large baby.
At 6:27 am we welcomed an 8lb. 12 oz. and 22 1/4 in. Darren Thomas into our family.  The words "It's a boy" are familiar in the delivery room as Darren is our fourth son.  The big brothers were hoping for a sister, but they expressed no disappointment upon meeting Darren.  

This was my third time delivering at Birth Care in Georgetown.  After bringing my firstborn into the world at a hospital I knew I wanted a different experience for my future births.  Birth Care provides a Home Birth atmosphere while being equipped with medical equipment in case of emergency.  Just before Darren was born I heard the staff in the room talking about giving me some oxygen.  In that moment I wasn't able to comprehend why such a request was being made, but I knew that something must be wrong.  I later found out that the baby's heart rate had dropped.  Fortunately with the help of everyone in the room I was repositioned, breathing better and the baby's heart rate returned to normal.

Darren and I were surrounded by many when he took his first breath.  My husband had a front row seat to each contraction, push and scream that brought Darren into the world.  Two weeks later my arms are still sore from squeezing Jeremy's arms and upper body during those early morning hours.  His presence, help and words of encouragement meant more than he'll ever know.
Did you know that the active presence of a husband or support person often result in shorter and less complicated labors?  For me personally, I know that Psychological Support has a huge impact on my labor & delivery experience.
I was very certain that our baby would be born on December 28th after four hours of intense contractions early that morning.  But when our three boys jumped out of bed that morning, my thoughts shifted from "Let's have a baby today" to "I need to get these boys packed up and out the door".  The contractions basically stopped - I was so disappointed that I would be pregnant yet another day!  Knowing that my labors always start in the middle of the night, the boys spent the night with friends so that if labor started again I could focus on the task before me.  
As predicted, labor started again around 1:00 am on the 29th.  I quietly got out of bed and readied myself for what I hoped would just take a few hours.  I turned on the Crock Pot that I had already filled with towels dampened with water and Young Living™ Essential Oils- Peppermint and Lavender.  These warm towels would greatly reduce the pain of back labor for me when applied during a contraction.  The Peppermint Essential Oil creates a cooling sensation that can cause the baby to turn away from a painful position like against a Mom's spine.  The Lavender has a calming and relaxing effect that is oh so welcomed.  I also turned on my diffuser that was filled with Frankincense - that mysterious oil you hear about at Christmas time.  This too can have a calming effect. 
I then called Sherry, my Doula, so she could start making her way to my house.  Doula is Greek for "a woman who serves".  She is there not only to support me in any way possible, but my husband as well.  There are many reasons why Dads Need Doulas.  I really like that it takes the pressure off of my husband to know exactly what to do during this unpredictable time.  The original plan was to once again have my Doula, Mary Ann by my side to bring my little one into the world, but things don't always go as planned when you have a baby around Christmas.  So Sherry graciously agreed to take her place just the week before.
As my husband got ready and Sherry walked in the door my mind was able to focus all it's attention on one thing - the baby.  Contractions didn't hold back after that.  The car was packed and we quickly got down the road, arriving at Birth Care in just a few minutes. 
Suzanne, the midwife, greeted us at the Birth Care entrance and was enthusiastic about getting the baby out.  After a few minutes in triage I was given my choice of birthing rooms.  Once I saw those rooms labor intensified again and I quickly sat in a rocking chair to prepare for the next contraction. 
Frankincense was diffusing, Christmas music was playing and lights dimly lit the room like candles.  I shed my winter clothing so that all remained was a comfortable black smocked summer dress.  Peaceful surroundings were now in place for not only me, but all who entered to be with me.  Many commented on the wonderful aroma as they entered the room.  One nurse loved it when Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" played softly in the background.

The memory of the next few hours is blurry.  Some women report feeling empowered, overjoyed and peaceful after giving birth and holding their new baby.  I felt like I just got hit by a car TRAIN.  I was holding the baby for a few minutes when someone told me to talk to him since he was crying.  I wasn't fully aware of his presence laying on top of me.  I wasn't cold, yet I was shaking.  Questions were asked yet the words couldn't quite come to my mouth to answer them.  I think I was in a state of shock.  Just moments before I was afraid that I couldn't get the baby out.  8lb. 12 oz. babies don't have small frames - it took everything I had to release my child into the world.  My lips went numb and I felt like they must be turning blue.  Then his shoulders were stuck, he had to be turned.  My fears didn't diminish in the minutes, hours or even days after his birth.  It was a traumatic experience that replayed in my head a few times before I was able to fully enjoy my newest son.  He was "The Incredible Hulk" until his name was finalized later that day. 

Soon after birth, Sherry anointed Darren with Frankincense.  This essential oil was chosen to promote bonding and strengthen the immune system.  Once home I applied Myrrh to Darren's umbilical cord to hasten healing.  As I child I recall hearing that the gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh given to Mary by the Magi were probably just sold for needed funds (because oils were such an impractical gift).  The oils of the Bible are often misunderstood and dismissed.  But I have no doubt that Mary treasured the gifts for their many uses.  Perhaps they were used when Jesus scraped his knee as a toddler or when he felt sick?   
Another joyous occasion for many new Moms is nursing.  But this was not the case for Darren's first feeding.  Just like his big brother Daniel, Darren had strong suction abilities that I couldn't handle.  By New Year's Eve I was in tears when it came time for Darren to eat.  Oh it hurt so bad!  Fortunately I had experience with this, so I contacted Dawn Wachter, L.M.T. Craniosacral Therapist and Reflexologist, right away for an appointment to relieve possible tension in Darren's jaw and an appointment for my aches and pains as well.  (To find out more about Daniel's feeding issues head over to my blog post from October 2012 - Craniosacral Miracles)
So at just four days old Darren received his first treatment.  Dawn discovered that his spine was twisted with tension up into his right shoulder and neck.  She worked on him as long as she could but Darren kept spitting up his breakfast and was clearly becoming hungry again.  Darren had spit up a lot since birth, which meant I had to feed him more, which meant more pain.  I was anxious to notice a difference when I fed him next.  But it was another feeding when I bit my lips and held my breath. 
Once Darren was finished eating I gingerly laid down for my own treatment.  There were few body parts that didn't hurt.  There were the obvious aches and pains along with my arms, legs, feet and especially my back.  The weight of the baby had been pulling on my back for several months and now it was trying to recover from back labor.  Dawn worked on restrictions and tension on my right side, uterus and colon.  My chest area into my neck and head were also tight.  I felt like Jello at the end of the treatment.  Oftentimes after a treatment I feel the need to lay flat on my back when sleeping.  (This is so unusual since I always sleep on my side or belly.)  As I lay there facing the ceiling my back will hurt yet feel good at the same time as my body realigns back to normal.  Two days later I felt significant improvement in my whole body, especially my back.            
Before Dawn left that morning she suggested having Daren's mouth checked for possible Tongue Tie.  So the waiting game continued over the weekend until I could get an appointment to have his tongue checked and possibly corrected.  In the days that followed I noticed a significant difference in Darren's spitting.  He went from spitting up most of his meal and needing a new outfit to just some slight spitting that could easily be cleaned.  Perhaps his tension wasn't allowing him to keep his food down? 
On Monday, Rita Rhodes, founder of Birth Care, confirmed that Darren was in fact Tongue Tied and she preformed a tongue frenectomy.  The procedure was painless but my baby boy was not happy about being strapped down for the five minutes that it took to complete.  
The next feeding was not without pain, because I was still so sore from the past week, but the procedure did make a difference.  Since then I've allowed Darren to feed longer and I've been able to enjoy my newest son a lot more.  
Just this past weekend I had the privilege of sipping some hot chocolate with both Mary Ann and Sherry at the Corner Coffee Shop in Intercourse.  Mary Ann just felt terrible about missing Darren's birth and had offered to come to my home for the day and help out.  But since I was starting to feel better I felt that some conversation with other woman was a greater need than a cleaner house.  We chatted for several hours about babies, essential oils and relationships.  It was time well spent, time that I will always treasure.  Some journeys are meant to be traveled alone - Motherhood is not one of them.  I am so thankful for these special women in my life. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Simple Celebration

 Is God glorified in the chaos of December?  Do your children need to be involved in every available Christmas Pageant, Christmas Caroling and Christmas Cookie activity in order to grasp the true meaning of the holiday? Gifts may not leave a lasting impression, but the mood of the season will.  You can make it joyous or traumatic.  Last year I recall my boys asking..."Mommy, can we just stay home and play with our new toys?"  Oh, that broke my heart.  It was January and they had barely an opportunity to enjoy their presents.      
I've started too many Januarys frazzled, sick and feeling most unsociable after "celebrating" Christmas.  My kids always get less sleep and more sugar during December, which kills the immune system.  All of this in the name of Baby Jesus?  
When I found out that I was expecting our fourth child in December I felt very justified in keeping our calendar clear for the entire month.  What a blessing that has been! 
Less cooking, less driving and less meltdowns. 
More naps, move home movies and more smiles.  
So far our Christmas has been simple and I LOVE IT.  It has freed me to do some meaningful activities with the boys, wrapping presents has been fun and I don't dread the few activities that are coming up.  Here is what we've been up to...
Let's start with the decorations.  Some find enjoyment in spending an entire Saturday picking out the perfect tree, strapping it to the top of their vehicle, getting it through the door of their house, maneuvering it within the confines of a tree stand, then adding water, lights and ornaments!
This year I opted for the modest Norfolk Island Pine available at Home Depot this year for $9.98!  It is adorned with a 10 ft. set of lights that costs $2.50 and I covered the base with a yard of burlap and some ribbon.  It sits on a corner table surrounded by gifts.  I didn't have to rearrange furniture and the gifts are less tempting for the two year old to touch.  Simple yet lovely!
Moving on to the gift wrapping.  I've gone from six rolls of Christmas Wrapping Paper to one large roll of Pacon Black Kraft Paper.  Packages are adored with Regency Baker's Twine and family artwork with Oil Pastels and a White Sharpie® Poster-Paint Marker.  (All available from Amazon) The best part about this method of wrapping is that my boys were able to be involved with touching any scissors or tape!  The two, six and ten year old all enjoyed the chance to create their own artwork for the gifts.     
And guess what kind of wrapping paper I'll be using for birthdays from now on?  That's right- black paper.  No more buying overpriced Birthday, Wedding & Baby Shower Paper for me.  I'm going to make this paper work for every occasion, because I'm not a fan of clutter.     
Adoring the Baby of Christmas is a top priority for our family.  I collected ideas on my Pinterest Board entitled Keeping Christ in Christmas and used many of them this past month.  The boys and I have been practicing a puppet show to present to their Daddy on Christmas Eve that tells of the birth of Jesus using Popscicle Stick Puppets.  To print your own Puppets, head over to Bible Fun for Kids.
Our boys are ready to burst with excitement on Christmas Eve so each year we allow them to open one gift.  I typically pick a random gift under the tree, but this year I purchased specific gifts for the evening. 
The gifts include a Nativity Stained Glass Coloring Book, Crayola Washable Super Tip Markers and a movie for the evening - Spunky's First Christmas.  I've never seen the movie before, but I've read the book to the children many times.  It tells a tale of an adopted dog who learns the concept of having a loving master.
I've already made Cheddar Topped Shepherd's Pie for Christmas Eve dinner and tucked it away in the freezer.  If I pull out the paper plates I'll have NO cooking or dishes that night!    
So now we wait.  Baby #4 should be here soon.  We have a lot to look forward to (without the stress) in the days ahead.  If you're in the midst of a hectic Christmas keep in mind that it is OK to say "No" to the constant opportunity to "celebrate".  Don't take it personal if an invitation is declined.  December is not the only month to arrange gatherings and activities.  There are many winter days ahead of us...may we have less snow than last year!   
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

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Friday, October 24, 2014

In Lieu of Flowers

Today marks the second anniversary since my sister in Christ and precious friend Ruth was laid to rest after she most unexpectedly left this world and entered her heavenly home.  After she was gone I recall how difficult it was to stop calling the quaint ranch down the road “Ruth’s House”.  But the moment her heart stopped was the moment her address changed.  It was a permanent move.  She didn’t have to pack, organize or stress over this relocation – it just happened.  It happens to us all.  Many hope that they know where there will spend eternity but few know for sure.  Ruth knew where she was going, she just didn’t know when.  This confident knowledge came not from the power of her positive thinking or her good works, which were many.  It came because she acknowledged what the masses ignore – her own sinful, hopeless state.  She confessed to the Creator of the Universe that she would never be good enough to grace the streets of gold.  She believed in the Lord Jesus and she was saved!  (Acts 16:31)

October 20th is a reminder that death is a guarantee.  That reality should cause us all to examine what we are doing here on this earth ‘til our time comes.  While Ruth called this world her home she was actively pouring her time and energy into others. 

Death is a guarantee for us all –
Life is not for far too many.

With this reality in mind, Ruth dedicated a chapter of her life to helping the unborn in her community by volunteering at Brephos Pregnancy Center.  She had a heart for single moms and enjoyed serving them.  Today we know this organization as Cornerstone Pregnancy Care Services
 in Gap, Pennsylvania.  Ruth was not one to brag, so I never knew of her involvement in this humble charity until I read her obituary. 
In lieu of flowers
contributions may be made to
Cornerstone Pregnancy Care Services…

Last month I learned that the CPCS would be hosting a 25th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on the 20thof October.  I knew right away that I needed to be there focusing on the needs of others instead of replaying the events of two years ago in my mind. 
I was so challenged and encouraged by the Keynote Speaker John Ensor, President of PassionLife, to embrace life.  The thoughts he shared are woven throughout the paragraphs below.  Despite the fact that I’m in the final weeks of carrying my fourth child, I find that my attitude toward life is not always the same as God’s.  When I found out that I was expecting again last spring my first reactions were overwhelming panic at the sickness and discomfort to come.  I am regularly frazzled by the three sons that I already have, what if I have another high energy little boy!?!  My first three children were all about 4 years apart – this was too soon! 
My fears dull in comparison to the women who walk through the doors of an abortion clinic or pregnancy center.  What these organizations do with a woman's fear means life or death for the unborn.  An organization like CPCS will strive to lower the fear and save the baby.  But the local Planned Parenthood seeks to raise the fear for the vulnerable mother to be, that way they can sell more abortions.
Why should this be your problem or mine?

Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. 
Proverbs 24:11 NKJV
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 82:4 NIV
God is calling us to a graphic rescue.  What is required of us is nothing new, it is just our turn.  The midwives of Egypt had a similar calling thousands of years ago when  gendercide was ordered by the Pharaoh.  Countless stories have surfaced from the time when the Nazis sought to devour the Jewish people of Europe.   If you feel insignificant in the fight for life than I would read one of these books:

Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed:
The Story of the Village of Le Chambon
and How Goodness Happened There
By:  Philip P. Hallie

Conscience and Courage:
Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust
By:  Eva Fogelman 

Answering The Call
Saving Innocent Lives One Woman At A Time
By:  John Ensor

Stand for Life:
Answering the Call, Making the Case, Saving Lives
By:  John Ensor and Scott Klusendorf
Love requires more than passively ignoring evil.  The Good Samaritan made the problems of a hurt stranger his problems.  As you walk along your path in life what will you do when you see a woman off to the side who is alone, hurting and needs your help?  Will you hold up a Pro-Life Protester Sign or will you bend down to meet the practical needs of the one before you? 

On October 27, 2012, Ruth and her husband planned to host a table at  the CPCS annual banquet.  She was excited to invite her friends and family.  Her season of life did not permit her to serve hands-on at Cornerstone, but she knew that her financial involvement could have an impact.  Her chair sat empty that evening.  Just days before God called her home.  I hope and pray that by writing this her life will still have an impact on such a vital ministry in our community.  Abortion is a global problem that lurks in every small town across our nation.  

If you would like to Make a Difference at CPCS or your local Crisis Pregnancy Center than the time to act is now.  The services provided at these centers are free of charge so your involvement is critical to their future survival.     

In Loving Memory of a devoted Mother.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Down Home

As this past winter dragged on and on I found myself filling more of my summer schedule with fun things to do.  It didn't make the snow melt any faster but it gave me some adventures to look forward to. 
So this past spring, while my husband drove a few hours north for his annual military training, I drove many, many hours south down home to North Carolina.  I never lived there, only spent some childhood summers there, but it is still a place to call home, even if I hadn't been there since 1998.  A lot has changed since then - three sons to be exact.  Only a crazy person would take three young kids over 500 miles away on their own - I am that crazy woman!  

To break up the hours in my little Honda we stopped at Luray Caverns in Virginia.  The caverns are 64 acres of beauty that were discovered in 1878. Pictures don't do it justice (especially with my camera).  My boys were in awe of the enormous formations that surrounded them.    
After spending the night in Staunton, VA we continued on our way.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment when we finally came up the Ashe County sign - I was home!  

While most kids grew up with their Grandparents across the street or even "over the river and through the woods", I had to cross mountains to see my Great Grandmothers - Granny Annie and Granny Ada.  How I wish they were still here on earth to chat with.  I can still see Granny Annie's hands covered in flour as she made us biscuits and I remember what it felt like to get a hug from my skinny Granny Ada.  My Grannies have been gone for many years but I still have some cousins who I hadn't seen in years and those mountains were calling me.   
Our first stop after crossing the state line was Shatley Springs in Crumpler.   Daniel wasted no time tidying up the porch of our cabin - he was so happy to be out of the car!  This humble dwelling would be our home.   

Shatley Springs is an enchanting place worthy of it's very own blog post (if only I had the time).  It has a rich history going back to 1890 when Martin Shatley was miraculously cured of a skin disease after dipping his hands and face into a cool stream that is now known as Shatley's Springs.  For the full story head over to... 

If you're ever in the area and want to stop in for a visit - expect amazing food, an abundance of meaningful conversations void of WiFi, TV Screens, music and ringing cell phones.   

After settling in at our little cabin we soon met up with the cousins...  
My cousin Sheryl
and her Mom Jo.

Daniel and his cousin Gage
just a few weeks older than him.
My Cousin Brian & I.

Granny Ada and I.

One place that had really been on my mind to visit was Granny's Ada's home.  Today folks talk about being poor, but it dulls in comparison to the memories I have of Granny's Ada's home.  It was an old shack with electric but no indoor plumbing.  The walls were covered in newspaper and you had to risk meeting a snake if you wanted to use the outhouse.  That is where my Grandfather was raised and I wanted my boys to see this place. 

I was unable to get inside but I managed to stick my arm through the back door to get some pictures of the past.  Things were as I remembered them, except for the collection of trophies that were along one wall.  This puzzled others in the family too, so we assumed that someone simply stored them there after Granny Ada's death, and forgot about them. 



We also spent some time over at Granny Annie's old place.  The house is currently being fixed up by my cousin Barb and is being used for storage.  My memories of Granny Annie include Biscuits, Raggedy Ann Dolls (she made several of them for me) and Bread & Butter Pickles.  Perhaps I knew this, but obviously I forgot...Granny Annie once made all the biscuits and cobblers in the kitchen of Shatley Springs.  When I mentioned to Lee McMillan (the owner of Shatley Springs) whose Granddaughter I was he smiled of spoke fondly of Annie and what a wonderful cook she was so many years ago.
Granny Annie and I with my parents, brother and Uncle Steve.
Granny Annie's House

It is safe to say that I returned to Pennsylvania more grateful for my own house than when I left.  I hope my children feel the same.  May they never feel sorry for themselves because they don't everything they want.  If only more people could go back in time like we did to see how many folks in this country used to live - not because they were lazy or going through a difficult time but because it was just the way things were back then.  

I look forward to returning one day...