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.
Pin It

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...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sugar Free Mornings

Daniel wakes up early to watch his breakfast bake.

Most Monday mornings start with a new batch of Granola in our home.  Sometimes that batch doesn't last the week and I'm making another to get us through the weekend.  It's safe to say that we're addicted to it-from the oldest to the youngest in the house.  We usually enjoy our Granola with homemade Almond Milk, but it also goes great with yogurt or ice cream. 
I've been stocking Granola in our cabinets for years, but it wasn't until recently that I took the time to write the recipes down.  I like to take a bag of this breakfast treat when I'm taking a meal to someone, and that always comes with a recipe request.  So here you go-my three favorite recipes.  But be warned - it is Addictive!  Did I mention that these recipes contain no sugar? 
Chocolate Protein Granola
Chocolate Protein Granola
6 Cups Rolled Oats
2 Cups Flour (I use whole spelt)
½ Cup Almond Meal
½ Cup Finely Shredded Coconut
½ Cup Carob Powder
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
1 Cup Honey

½ Cup Peanut Butter
½ Cup Oil (I use Safflower)
½ Cup Warm Water
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Raisins
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Combine wet & dry ingredients and pour into a 13x9 or larger dish.  Bake at
250° for 1 hour.  Stir 3-4 times while it cooks.  Add raisins.  Store in an air tight container after it has cooled completely.   
Banana Walnut Granola
Banana Walnut Granola
6 Cups Rolled Oats
2 Cups Flour (I use whole spelt)
½ Cup Flax Meal
½ Cup Finely Shredded Coconut
1 Cup Finely Ground Walnuts
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Honey
1 Ripe Banana, mashed
½ Cup Oil (I use Safflower)*(you might need a little more, see instructions)
½ Cup Warm Water
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the mashed banana and enough oil to measure 1 Cup of total liquid.  Whisk the wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Combine wet & dry ingredients and pour into a 13x9 or larger dish.  Bake at
250° for 1 hour.  Stir 3-4 times while it cooks.  Store in an air tight container after it has cooled completely. 
Winter Harvest Granola
Winter Harvest Granola
6 Cups Rolled Oats
2 Cups Flour (I use whole spelt)
½ Cup Almond Meal
½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds
½ Cup Finely Shredded Coconut
1 Cup Sliced Almonds
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Honey
1 Cup Oil (I use Safflower)
½ Cup Warm Water
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
½ Cup White Chocolate Chips
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk the wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Combine wet & dry ingredients and pour into a 13x9 or larger dish.  Bake at
250° for 1 hour.(I have found it necessary to cook this particular Granola at a higher temperature for the last few minutes because I'm using fresh Almond Meal, which makes the mixture a little wetter.)  Stir 3-4 times while it cooks.  Add Cranberries and White Chocolate Chips (omit the chips to keep it sugar free).  Store in an air tight container after it has cooled completely. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

13 Slices of Pie

Martha Stewart was recently interviewed and had this to say...

“Who are these bloggers? They're not trained editors at Vogue magazine. I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren't tested, that aren't necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts. And we have to understand that.”  (Emphasis added)

She took a lot of heat for her comments from the blogging community.  Someone is out of touch with reality. Generations have thrived without chefs in white hats and food labs in New York City.  You haven't really cooked until you've made Whoopie Pies with a baby attached to your leg, kneaded bread to relieve the stress of the day or GASP...let you kids lick the brownie batter off the spatula. 
Before the "experts" told us how to birth our babies, raise our children and feed our husbands there were Mothers, Aunts and Grandmothers.  Both my maternal and paternal Grandmothers left this world before I entered it.  All I can cling to are pictures, old recipes and the memories of those who knew them.  But it recently occurred to me that I didn't have any of those things for my paternal grandparents.  So for the past few months I've been accumulating treasures and tidbits about Anna Elizabeth Devonshire (born 1908) and her husband Theodore Roosevelt Dunfee (born 1904).  I originally thought this would be a simple post with some pictures and a recipe.  However, searching for a pumpkin pie recipe and confirming some dates led to more information than I expected.

I'll do my best to paint an accurate picture of the Dunfee family in this post.  The canvas may look like it came from the easel of Norman Rockwell.  The painting clearly depicts some interesting characters but their motivations, the sounds of the scene and what lies beyond the edge of the frame is left to your imagination.

Before the Duggars there were the Dunfees.  Thirteen children in all, with nine boys and four girls.  My dear Grandmother had six sons before her first daughter - oh sigh.   No one turned their head when a Mom had a dozen children or more back in those days.  Pictured below you'll see...(listed in birth order)

Thirteen children of Theodore & Anna Dunfee.
Photo courtesy of Ruth Dunfee Taylor.











I am the daughter of David (1931), his fifth child from his second marriage (my half sister Joy used to joke that I was from his second litter).  He is pictured at the far left in a suit and tie.  He has always taken great care and pride in his appearance.  Now that I see these old pictures of my Grandfather (below), I'm guessing he learned that from his Dad.

This Pennsylvania family lived in the Oxford and Cochranville areas before moving to Delaware in 1950.  They weren't rich but they always had plenty to eat.  Mom Mom Dunfee baked her own bread, made Squirrel Pot Pie and cooked up turnips and poke for supper.  (I know all about the turnips and poke because my Dad brought those things to our dinner table too.) 
My Dad managed to stay warm at night by wrapping up a cast iron clothes iron (handles were removable) in newspaper and taking it to bed with him.  Not in his own bed and certainly not in his own room.  Their house had three bedrooms - one for the parents, one for the boys and one for the girls. 

Bare feet were fashionable in the summertime for the Dunfee clan.   That is...they didn't have the money to shoe the children until school started.  One school that the children attended was the Highland Township Consolidated School in the village of Gum Tree just outside of Cochranville, better known today as the Highland Township Building.  At one time this was also where the congregation of Highland Baptist Church met.  My parents are charter members of that church and I recall my Dad being so tickled that he got to return to his school to attend Sunday Services.  Before our church could call the building home it would need a lot of renovations.  I spent many chilly Saturdays in that old building while my Dad did things like construct a stage and install Double Dutch doors for the nurseries.  
Like my Grandfather, all the Dunfee boys became carpenters.  All but one worked for The Carpenter's Union Local 626 of New Castle, Delaware.  The Delaware Memorial Bridge, Concord Mall and Interstate 95 were made with Dunfee hands.  Some of my earliest memories are of "going down to the Local" with my Dad when he was out of work.  In a back room full of cigarette smoke the brothers and other carpenters would play cards - probably Rummy.  One day while they were in the middle of a game I went behind a freestanding chalkboard to cut some paper with my new red scissors and eventually my hair.  Dad never noticed but Mom sure did when we got home.

Anna & Theodore at Brandywine Park (year unknown). 
Photo courtesy of Ruth Dunfee Taylor.
Mothers do notice everything.  I wonder what my grandmother noticed as she raised her thirteen children.  Did she have the time and energy to act upon all she noticed? When the boys required discipline, the girls wanted affection or the husband longed for admiration, did she push forward and continually give of herself or did she at times grow weary of all that was demanded of her?

Anna Dunfee with her half brother Warren Smith.
Photo courtesy of Ruth Dunfee Taylor. 
I don't have answers to these questions.  Mom Mom Dunfee died of heart failure on Thanksgiving Day in 1960.  Long before I was born and when many of my cousins were just learning to walk, she was gone.  Tombstones and genealogies don't tell the personal stories of those that have gone before us.  So besides these few pictures and a pumpkin pie recipe you'll see at the bottom of this post...this is all I have of her.
On several occasions I recall my father talking about Aunt Jennie and how she was so kind to him and the rest of the family.  All these years I assumed she was an Aunt, but her name is not found in the Dunfee Family Tree.  After a little digging I unearthed some stories that shed some light on why Jennie McDonald  was apart of the family and how the actions of her and some other kind souls forever changed the life of Theodore and his little brother James.

My Grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt Dunfee was born to Harry Henry & Jennie Lilley Dunfee in 1904.  He was welcomed by five older siblings - Edwin (1894), Mary (1896), Ruth (1897), Chester (1898) and Henrietta (1902).  No doubt he was named after the man of the same name who was nominated by the Republican Party to run for President that same year.  

In 1906 my Great-Grandmother Jennie gave birth to a seventh child named James.  Sadly, she was only able to celebrate one birthday with her son before Tuberculosis took her life on September 28, 1907.  Just over a year later on October 1, 1908 Harry remarried Clara Thawley and they had six more children together.  

I am puzzled by what took place in that year between losing one wife and marrying another.  Harry gave up the children from his first marriage to foster care (or to the orphanage, where Mary was sent) because he could not care for them properly.  Only Henrietta "Etta" remained with him. 
Theodore and James stayed together but were separated from their four older siblings and moved from the Philadelphia area to the Oxford area.  There they were raised as foster children by Dr. Donald & Jennie McDonald, who had two daughters Emily and Jenny and one son named Clyde. (Sources also say that their names were Dr. David & Isabella McDonald, with five children.  Nicknames make family research very difficult) Theodore and James retained the Dunfee last name because at that time no one over the age of 40 was permitted to adopt children.

The Reed family were close friends with the McDonalds and had some involvement in the upbringing of the Dunfee brothers.  Both families attended Oxford Presbyterian Church.  Sarah Reed and her friend Mabel Cummings, lived with Sarah's father.  They were all "society" families in Oxford.  Jennie McDonald even wrote for the society column for the Oxford paper.  Sarah Reed has been credited with designing the "new" Navy uniform which was created between World War I and World War II.       
Over the years searches were made by the older siblings to locate Theodore and James, but they were unsuccessful.  But in 1950 a connection was made.  These orphans now had children and grandchildren of their own and they were finally able to be reunited with their childhood.  The event was recorded in the Coatesville Record newspaper on March 30, 1950. 

I made a copy of the original newspaper clipping at the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  According to my Aunt Mary, the reunion was actually held at the Dunfee farm in Cochranville and the middle name of James was Harvey, not Darlymple (which is a last name associated with the Dunfees, but I'm not sure why is showed up here). 

Left to Right: Mary, Theodore, Ruth, & Henrietta
Photo Courtesy of Ruth Dunfee Taylor

Oxford, March 30 - After a separation of 42 years, a family of eight was finally united on Sunday, March 26, during a family reunion held at Camden, N.J.  Theodore Roosevelt Dunfee , of Cochranville, and James Darlymple Dunfee, of Oxford, were two of the seven sisters and brothers who met for the occasion.  Their father, Henry Dunfee, of Stony Creek, N.J., is still living, but all the members of the family were split up following the death of the mother while all were quite young.  This reunion marked the first occasion the entire family had been together since that time. 

Uncle Art & Aunt Doris in 1958 with
(left to right)
Ruth, Howard, Marie and Arthur Jr.
As promised, here is Mom Mom Dunfee's recipe for Pumpkin Pie.  It has been tested by generations and as far as I'm concerned, if you give birth to 13 children you are an expert at many things.  I had a hard time tracking it down, but my cousin Ruth (Arthur's daughter) graciously passed it along to me.  It was originally preserved by Aunt Ruth (Dunfee Berry) who went to heaven just a few years ago. (Yes, we have a lot of Ruths in the family)   A big thanks to my cousins Ruth and Arthur Jr. "Bubby" who were the backbone of this blog post.  Bubby especially has devoted a lot of time to Dunfee Family History.  My Aunt Mary (Elizabeth Dunfee Nickloy and known as "Peg") of Overland Park, Kansas and Aunt Mabel (Mrs. Willard Dunfee) of Elsmere, Delaware were also a huge help in piecing this story together.

If you're one of the many Dunfee cousins (and there must be hundreds), I would love to hear your own stories about our family before they are lost.  Any clarifications or corrections are also welcomed.  It would be fun to write a Part II with more information about our Grandmother Anna Elizabeth. 

A gooseneck pumpkin growing in my garden.
Dunfee Pumpkin Pie
2 cups of steamed pumpkin
    (1 gooseneck pumpkin)
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
Slice, remove seeds, bake at
350° for 1 hour, then puree.
1/8 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt

1 slightly beaten egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1 cup milk

1.  Get gooseneck pumpkin.  Peel and cut in to squares.
2.  Cook until done.  Add about 1½ cups of water to steam pumpkin.  Cook and put through ricer or food processor. 
3.  Blend until smooth - puree.
4.  Add ingredients and bake in pie shell at 450° for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350° and bake for 45 minutes.
 Serves 12 (or 13 if that's how many kids you have)

(As you can see in the pictures, I process 
my pumpkins a little differently because 
I find it impossible to peel pumpkins.)
Pie Shell
2 cups of sifted flour
2/3 cup Crisco
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Blend, then add 6 Tablespoons of cold water.
I put foil around my crust just until the last ten minutes of baking.
I tested this recipe three times to perfect the directions.  It melted in my mouth (especially with a scoop of Turkey Hill Vanilla Ice Cream) every time, but the pie spilt when I pulled it out of the oven.  While I did use fresh pumpkin, I drain mine to the consistency of canned pumpkin, so I found it necessary to reduce the cooking time by 20 minutes or more to prevent splitting.  If you're using fresh pumpkin that's a little runny, then this cook time will work great.   

Pin It



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ruth's Garden

It has been said that "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger".  But I think it would be more accurate to say that "what doesn't kill you will make you numb, weak or broken".  It's been 365 days since that autumn afternoon when I discovered that three Littles didn't have a Mommy anymore.  It's been 52 weeks since I stood there helpless telling the 911 operator that I didn't think my friend was alive.  I've had 12 months to take it all in and become stronger because of it.  But 1 year later I still fight tears during the Sunday worship service, become panicky  when my husband goes away for the weekend and I just become unglued when a thunderstorm rolls in on a Friday night and the electric starts to blink.  It doesn't take much to trigger emotions these days. 

I am not stronger, I am broken. 

I miss my friend.     
What was it about Ruth Leatherman that had such a deep impact upon me?  It wasn't her death, it was her life.  For five years she shared her life with me - her ups, her downs and everything in between.  She was genuine without complaining.  She accepted difficulties as a season in life that soon would pass.  I loved our talks.  I'm not a talkative person but the two of us always managed to keep quite the conversation going. 
With Daniel in my arms on Friday night I told Ruth of my bizarre experience just moments after his birth.  I was exhausted, I was delirious and for a moment I saw Ruth standing in the doorway.    I knew she was camping that weekend, but she was in the room with me.  Ruth had been on my mind.  She had called me while I was in labor but things were too intense for a conversation.  Jeremy spoke with her briefly to update her on my status.  Ruth liked to know what was going on.  In realty the person standing in the doorway was my Doula, Mary Ann - a distant cousin of Ruth. 
"Have you ever met her Ruth?"  I asked. 
She said she had not, so I quickly offered to invite them both over one day to meet. 
Then Ruth told of her experience after the birth of each of her children.  She was overwhelmed by it all and the joy of seeing her baby brought her to tears every time.  She told how she just cried and cried after each birth.  She was so happy to bring a life into the world to love and care for.
Two Bible verses come to mind when I think about Ruth:
"...your care for others
is the measure of your greatness." 
Luke 9:48 (TLB)
"...through love be servants one to another."
Galatians 5:13 (ASV)  
Ruth was a servant.  She wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty or be inconvenienced.  Her example has inspired me to reach out to others more in the past year.  I sent care packages when I didn't have the time, took meals when I didn't have the energy and made connections with people during their time of need.
 Ruth did a lot of planting in her 31 years.  She always had a vegetable garden in the back yard.  It was hard work but she enjoyed it.  In an effort to minimize the impact of her loss, Ruth's mother Sarah planted and tended Ruth's garden this past summer. To see the children running through the rows brought such joy.   
Just weeks before Ruth went to heaven she purchased some chicks that now provide eggs for the family.  The kids really enjoy them - but those poor chickens!  On several occasions my Jason and Esther locked themselves in the hen house to play Doctor with the chickens - that's what they said.  Like I said, those poor chickens! 
But the planting didn't stop there...
Ruth planted a lot of fruit in her garden -a different garden with eternal value.  She planted the Fruits of the Spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.  This garden has blossomed with surreal beauty since last October. Because Ruth gave so much of herself while here on this earth an army of people have given of their time, resources and prayers for the Leatherman family. 
Within minutes (yes minutes) of the sad news that Ruth was gone, a neighbor offered some breast milk for Ruby that was in his freezer.  I was still in a state of shock so I don't remember the man's name or why he had breast milk in his freezer but that was just the beginning...breast milk was provided for baby Ruby from three different sources for the next several months.
Within a few hours the food started pouring in.  It started with trays of sandwiches and bottles of water.  Before long the refrigerator was overflowing and stayed that way for months.  God's people really stepped up and took care of the physical needs of the Leatherman family.
Without hesitation Ruth's sister in-law volunteered to homeschool the children for the remainder of the school year.  No easy task, believe me I know. 
Ruth's young neighbor felt led by God to put school on hold for a while and offered to fill in as a Nanny for the children.  She displayed such maturity in the most difficult of circumstances.
The grandmothers went above and beyond this past year.  Nanna and Mom-Mom wiped many tears while drying their own.  The strength of Sarah and Carol could only have come from God.  They selflessly served Mark in his distress.  They reached out to me numerous times and have become close friends.  It is no wonder why Ruth regularly displayed servanthood in her life -she had some great examples.
Before Ruth was taken from her home I asked to see her one last time.  I knelt down on the floor beside her, gently kissed her forehead and said "We'll take care of your babies."  As a mother it was all I could think about and I mourn Ruth's loss of not seeing her children grow.  It was a tremendous effort to fill the huge void that this wife and mother left behind.  If Ruth could see all that has taken place in the past year she would be so grateful to the countless people who held her family together when they felt so broken. 

I read an old devotional book called Streams in the Desert 
that belonged to my Grandmother.  God knows what we
need when we need it.  This is what I meditated on just a
few days ago.  May it bring comfort to all who are broken.


October 15
"By reason of breakings they purify themselves" (Job 41:25).
God uses most for His glory those people and things which are most perfectly broken. The sacrifices He accepts are broken and contrite hearts. It was the breaking down of Jacob's natural strength at Peniel that got him where God could clothe him with spiritual power. It was breaking the surface of the rock at Horeb, by the stroke of Moses' rod that let out the cool waters to thirsty people.
It was when the 300 elect soldiers under Gideon broke their pitchers, a type of breaking themselves, that the hidden lights shone forth to the consternation of their adversaries. It was when the poor widow broke the seal of the little pot of oil, and poured it forth, that God multiplied it to pay her debts and supply means of support.
It was when Esther risked her life and broke through the rigid etiquette of a heathen court, that she obtained favor to rescue her people from death. It was when Jesus took the five loaves and broke them, that the bread was multiplied in the very act of breaking, sufficient to feed five thousand. It was when Mary broke her beautiful alabaster box, rendering it henceforth useless, that the pent-up perfume filled the house. It was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken to pieces by thorns and nails and spear, that His inner life was poured out, like a crystal ocean, for thirsty sinners to drink and live.
It is when a beautiful grain of corn is broken up in the earth by DEATH, that its inner heart sprouts forth and bears hundreds of other grains. And thus, on and on, through all history, and all biography, and all vegetation, and all spiritual life, God must have BROKEN THINGS.
Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals, and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their affections, and broken ofttimes in health; those who are despised and seem utterly forlorn and helpless, the Holy Ghost is seizing upon, and using for God's glory. "The lame take the prey," Isaiah tells us.
O break my heart; but break it as a field
Is by the plough up-broken for the corn;
O break it as the buds, by green leaf seated,
Are, to unloose the golden blossom, torn;
Love would I offer unto Love's great Master,
Set free the odor, break the alabaster.
O break my heart; break it victorious God,
That life's eternal well may flash abroad;
O let it break as when the captive trees,
Breaking cold bonds, regain their liberties;
And as thought's sacred grove to life is springing,
Be joys, like birds, their hope, Thy victory singing.
-Thomas Toke Bunch