Month: August 2009

  • Daddy and Baby.


    We had an unexpected afternoon – Zoe wanted to go home with Grandpa and Grandma after church! So after stopping by our house on the way out for an extra change of clothes, her bunny and paccy (yes, she *does* still have that… there’s only so much you can change in a little girl’s life at one time! :) ), off she went! And delighted she was. Just a-grinning away in the back seat. Thanks, Mama Yoder!

    So Ben and I had the afternoon to ourselves! Well, almost. Baby Leah was still here, but it was a sweet time of actually *talking* over the BLT’s we had for lunch. Been a while since that happened!

    But we both missed her. Funny how that happens. You get a little break, and then you start crying cuz you realize what it would be like if something would happen to your precious little girl, how empty it would feel.

    Our thoughts were stirred that way through the sermon this morning, and our pastor sharing how they lost one of their little girls just around her first birthday in a car accident. Wow. I cannot imagine. Hearing things like that make me just want to treasure these days with all of my heart!

    I had been wanting a few snapshots of Daddy and Leah, and it just wasn’t happening. Today, while the bacon was frying in the oven, I saw the light was coming in just right through the kitchen window so I grabbed my camera and took a few of Ben and Her Tinyness…

    some black and white…



    and some color


    I’m just in awe of the size difference between their hands. Her little fingers can’t even wrap around his thumb!


    I love these next two, despite Leah’s inability to look at the camera.



    What a wonderful Daddy this little girl has…


  • The Little Bitty Fairy Princess


    The Little One got her pictures taken too. :)

    12 Weeks Old. Unbelieveable!

    She has a default look: mad. Oh, she can smile, and I tease her that she’ll fall in her dimples because she smiles so big and her dimples get so deep! But smiles were not a thing on her agenda this morning. So, just so you know, she really isn’t mad, although she may look it. Full and satisfied. Really! :)

    Little Miss Bright Eyes. She *loves* to look you right in the eye. When I nurse her, I have to cover her eyes with a blanket because she’ll get too distracted with me and won’t eat – she just wants to coo and smile!


    Still very tiny, but is growing out of newborn clothes now! Her Tinyness just tickles me!



    I just can’t resist Tiny Toes…



    She hated this pose, so that’s why there’s only one like it. Wasn’t my original idea anyway, that’s probably why she hated it. :)


    Practicing her push-ups. :)


    Yes, the grass really is green here! Amazing, I know! ‘Course editing can make it look a little greener…

    I love this picture – Zoe just came up and was loving on her.






    Go away, bad kitty! BOO! (and there you have a view of my photo prop :) )


    “Hi-ya there, mommy. Are we done yet?”

    I think this is one of my favorites…


    Lovely Olivia… You are so precious.


  • The Fairy Princess


    You know those moments with your child when you think, “Stop! Freeze! Let time be still! Let me hold this moment in my heart forever!” ? Yeah. I ‘ve had quite a few of those lately.

    It feels like we have settled in a routine with our new little person, and life is just so, well, sweet, right now.

    Kids were happy, so we ran out the door this morning and took some quick snapshots.

    Zoe, age two.

    The Fairy Princess.

    She’s all into the “princess” thing lately. On her birthday I told her she was a princess. When Ben had a birthday a week and a half later, she told me, “Daddy a princess!” :) So this morning, I told her she is a princess, and she really liked that. Perhaps that’s why she allowed me to take pictures, instead of just running away giggling like she normally does… We actually had fun this time, unlike some photo shoots…

    [these first ones are my personal favorites]













    IMG_8224       IMG_8215    IMG_8217






    Her hair is really rather straight, but when she’s outside or in humidity, it’ll do this little curl thing on the bottom…


    IMG_8212 IMG_8202 IMG_8182



    With her precious “titty tats”. She will play outside with them for hours at a time!




    Feedback desired. These will be her 2-Year Old Pictures, I think…


  • Living Worship


    Not sure how to title this post. This was the best thing I could come up with, in a short nutshell.

    This is something I do not feel qualified to write about, but it’s been so huge to me the past month and a half, and I felt that I should share it. This is something I’ve been thinking about as I go throughout my days, and it has brought a new meaning to my life and my world. At the same time, I feel that I have so much growth to do in this area, and many times throughout the day I cry out to God to “Help me! I’m failing again!”

    This “something” is a newer concept to me that I sum up as “Living Worship.”

    I’ve always struggled to know what “worship” really is. Is it that time inbetween Sunday School and the main service called “worship”? Is it personal quiet time and Bible reading? Is it gazing at nature and being in awe of God’s creation?

    Yes, to all the above. But I’m seeing that it’s so much more as well.

    I was introduced to this concept by two different sources at about the same time. One, a sermon I heard while we were in PA in June. And two, a little book my mom gave me to read entitled The Invisible Woman.

    It’s based on the verse in Romans 12:1, where Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

    I’ve heard that verse a hundred times, and it just never really “clicked” with me until recently.

    It’s the idea of our bodies worshipping God. Not just our emotions [although God wants that too]. Not just our minds [although God wants our intelligence].

    In the book I mentioned, it was said that at the time the grand European cathedrals were built, many of the builders and workers were townspeople. But there were monks who also helping to build. These monks did it not just as physical labor itself, but they viewed manual labor as a form of prayer.

    Wow. I had to reread that several times in the book. What an amazing concept!

    To quote the book, “In other words, they decided it might actually be holy to get their hands dirty for God. They prayed with their tools and skills…

    “One particularly moving story told of a prominent man who went to visit a cathedral that was being built. He stopped to watch one of the workers, perhaps a monk. He saw the worker carving a tiny bird into the inside of a beam that would eventually be covered over by the stone roof. The man asked the worker why he was spending so much time and giving so much attention to something that no one would ever see. The builder never looked up. He never stopped carving as he replied, “Because God sees.”

    “…Years later, Martin Luther urged ordinary people – not just the clergy – to find the same perspective. He told the world that it was not the nature of the work that made it holy. Milking a cow was no less holy than giving an offering. Luther believed that a housewife had as great a calling as a high priest, and that both should perform his or her work as though God alone were watching. Holiness comes from God and from the heart of the person doing the work, not from the work itself…” [end of quote]

    In another book by Sheila Walsh, A Love So Big, she says, “The significant key to living a life that is not consumed by fear is to see all of life as worship. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We take steps with God and at every step offer our lives as worship. In the process of worshipping God He communicates His Spirit to us. ” If we viewed every moment as an act of worshipping God, how would it change the landscape of our minds and souls?” [end of quote]

    My days are filled with manual labor, physically caring for my family in so many different ways… Gone are the days when I could spend hours reading the Word, praying, and doing “spiritual things.” I’ve sometimes felt guilty that I am not able to do that anymore. But this concept is so FREEING to me, because I now see that what I’m doing now, as a wife and mother, is no less spiritual! For all day long, I am worshipping God with my body as I serve my family, and my life is a prayer as I train and love on our children, cook meals for my family, try to keep a clean house and a sense of order, try to be an attractive and loving wife to my husband… What a freeing truth!

    There is still that important time of quietness with God, alone. Just Him and me. I feel like I need that more than ever since I have two children. But I’m seeing more than ever before that that is just the beginning of my day with Him!

    I paraphrased the beginning of Romans 12:1 and put it by my kitchen sink: “Dedicate your bodies, your physical and manual labor, as a living sacrifice – as worship to God!”

    I think of this so much throughout my day…

    … as I get up in the morning, give breakfast to my children, start a load of laundry, tidy up the house – this is worship to God!

    … as I use the gifts He’s given me to  bless my family – this is worship to God!

    … when I feel frustrated and angry with my daughter, and cry out to God to help ME so I can help her attitudes – this is worship to God!

    … when I make meals for my family – this is worship to God!

    … when I willingly give gifts to others and find pleasure in seeing them delighted – this is worship to God!

    … when I pull weeds, mow the yard, etc. etc. etc…….

    There are SO MANY more things I could list, but YOU fill them in in your mind! What have you found to be worship in your daily lives?

     I’ve love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this! I hope this will encourage someone like it has encouraged me! And that this truth will change your daily lives from hum-drum to being filled with purpose and meaning!

    Be blessed today – as you worship God with your lives, wherever God has placed you this day!



  • Three Years in the South.


    Wow. Three years.

    … since we sold our city row home, packed all our earthly belongings, and moved south. Moved into a house I had never seen before, on a dirt road, and back in the trees so far we can’t see our neighbors. That was quite an adjustment from living in the city and having our front yard be the sidewalk, where hundreds of people walk just inches from our front windows every day.

    …since I left the rolling farm land of Lancaster County and moved to the flatlands of Georgia, where the only thing that grows is pine trees (just kidding. Well, sort of. J )

    …since I left the tame farmyard animals of cows and horses to go to the native animals of armadillos, alligators, wild pigs, and snakes.

    … since I moved away from everyone I had known and moved to a place where I knew Ben’s family and that was it.




    We live only about 10 miles from the nearest town, which is about 30 miles away from the next-nearest town, which is… J So Walmart is nearby, and Kmart, and well, a few little shops in the one-block downtown area and a few more scattered around town, but that’s about it. I was used to having any kind of shopping desirable within 15 miles.

    I felt c.u.l.t.u.r.e. s.h.o.c.k. the first few months that I lived here. That was something I was not expecting. I mean, this is still the United States, right?

    I remember one of the first times I was running errands in town. I went into the bank to make a transaction, and the teller found out who I was. “Ooooh, ah know Bee-yun!” she gushed, because Ben had worked at his dad’s car wash in town several years before we got married, and learned to know quite a few local people through that. We talked for a bit, and before I left I asked her name. “Tay-nuh” she told me. “Okay, nice to meet you, Tayna!” I said. “No, it’s TAY-nuh,” she said. “Okay, Tayna!” I happened to glance at the name tag that was sitting at her desk. Too late I realized I didn’t even understand when someone told me that her name was Tina. I remember wondering if I have to learn a new language to live here!!

    The drawl was only one of the new things about living in the south. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was in another country and totally didn’t fit in! That is probably why I learned to pick up the drawl, if I need to, just so I didn’t feel like such an odd ball every time I went into town! And I used to make such fun of people that move to the south and start talking like that… J

    It’s been quite an adventure living here. It’s funny, because now, as I write this, I have to really think about what is so different. I’m much more adjusted to it than I realized I was! I’ve been thinking about this 3 Year Anniversary for a little while though, and thought of a few highlights/experiences/new things about living in the Deep South.




    - For a true Southerner, most everything is fried. Fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried chicken… And smothered in butter. Paula Deen is the epitome of true Southern soul food – I‘ve never eaten at her restaurant but from looking at pictures and her recipes I know that! I can’t say that I’ve adopted this style of cooking, although I enjoy eating it once in a great while!

    - For excitement if you’re a teenager: there is “The Strip” [a particular section of a particular road on a particular side of town] where you drive your car, I mean truck, and wave at all the cute girls also riding their cars, I mean trucks. Really!! This actually happened in Ben’s day! I will not say whether or not her participated… J

    - Other areas of excitement: mud-bogging, tractor and truck pulls, beauty pageants. I must say something about beauty pageants. I have never, never in all my life, seen so many pageants! There is at least one contest for every age girl from very newborn to Miss America age. Honestly!! The majority of Southern women care very much about their appearance, and the appearance of their too-little-to-care daughters.

    - The local newspaper has mainly two sections: news and sports. And no news outside of the county. Read that: county, not country. Oh, except an entire page dedicated to Nascar! Go figure!

    - There are Rednecks that are proud as can be about being redneck. Even will differentiate between themselves [who they call classy Redneck] and other “lower-class” redneck. I was wide-eyed when I first heard this from a proud Redneck himself! These Rednecks do not say their “TH’s” and thus words become “dis, der,” and “dat” [this, there, and that].

    - Men do not drive cars here. Rarely, rarely, will you see a man behind the wheel of a car. It is just not cool to drive a car! A truck. Yes, a very very big truck. The bigger, the better. And the hugest tires you ever, ever have seen. Some of them look like you need a ladder to climb up into them. Seriously!!



    - I think it is safe to say that the majority of people in this town have not traveled south farther than Florida, and north farther than one or two states (this is what Ben tells me). They simply have no reason to travel, because all or most of their family and friends are within several miles of them, right here. Thus, they think they are in Paradise, not realizing there is a whole world to be seen that is not one bit like their town!

    - It is very, very rude to answer/address  a person without saying, “Ma’am” or “Sir.” This is something children are taught from the time they start talking. And last names are not used when addressing someone. Instead of “Mrs Yoder” I am “Ms. Clarita” and my husband is “Mr. Ben.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone being called by their last name.

    - I learned to water ski in a lake known to have gators in it! No, I did not see any while we were there, but I know people that have. I was semi-okay being in the water as long as I was rapidly moving. But very very nervous when I was down in the water waiting for the boat to pick me up!!!

    - There are two seasons: Summer, and January/February/March. J No, not really. But summertime comes early and lasts late; normally, May through October are really hot months. In the intense heat of June/July/August/September, it’s gets up to 90-100 almost daily, with high humidity. So much humidity that you’ll start sweating at 7:30 in the morning, just from stepping outside the house.

    - Most of the local radio stations are Country. There is no classical station to be found. Only one Christian station accessible here. But many Country. Did I mention there are a lot of Country stations here?

    -Gardening is very difficult. We have to plan 4 times the amount of fertile northern gardens to get barely a quarter of what they do… So much sand where we’re at. Our driveway is natural sand.

    - “Proper” takes on a whole new meaning here. I was in a local salon one day, talking somewhat but mostly listening, very fascinated, to the locals talk. One of the very preppy ladies suddenly announced to everyone there that she “had to tinkle!” Ohhhh, I could just see my mother blush had she been there!!


    - Everybody is a friend. Some you’re met, some you haven’t! When I go back north I wonder what everyone’s problem is – they’re just not friendly! Of course the people you know up north are friendly, but here the general public is just nice to each other. Here, there is a lot of “shmooze” – not all of which is sincere I’ve found – but the general idea is to make everyone feel as good as you can! It’s like there is an invisible contest to see who can make each other feel the best about themselves. J It’s quite interesting! Here, if you meet someone’s eye, they will at least acknowledge you with a smile or nod, and it’s not uncommon to chit-chat with a total stranger you meet on the street or in the grocery isle.

    But sometimes it’s not as nice as you might hope. I had an experience a little while ago at a shop in town where I was looking at a go-away bag for Zoe. The lady gave me a price about something, all the while gushing and calling me “sweetie” and “darlin’” and all sorts of things, and told me that she is waaayyyy cheaper than another store where she buys them from (and named that store in TN). Little did she know I was going to that very area of TN the next weekend, and that was why I needed a bag! I ended up buying the bag simply because I needed one, but checked out that store when I was in TN. I was chagrined to see a much cheaper price than what I had bought for! And very chagrined to realized she had straight-out lied to me! In the north, there is not so much gush and goo, but my experiences there were that people were at least honest and straight-forward.

    - These Southern women can. gush. over. babies like you have never seen! In the north, you’ll often be met by a friendly, “Ohhhh, how sweet!” Down here, it’s a, “Looooook at the baybay! Her is sooooo precious! Yes, her is! Her is so SWATE!! [sweet]” and on and on, using terrible grammar reserved only for talking to babies. J Oh, and after being indignant several times over my baby being called this particular thing, I learned that it is actually a compliment (!!) for a baby to be called a “buggar”. Yes, really!

    - I think the Civil War is still going on down here. I don’t like to tell people I’m a Yankee. J Confederate flags still fly freely, and there is still a a lot of racism going on…

    -There is some Southern lingo that I had to learn when I first met Ben. I remember once when he was visiting when we were dating, and my whole family was seated at the dinner table. Ben was talking and started with, “One time when I was coming up…” and proceeded to tell the story. My whole family, including me, was lost. “Coming up where??” someone finally asked, because he never said his destination. Ben burst out laughing, and said that “coming up” is a term used in the south meaning, “growing up.” It doesn’t mean you’re going north somewhere!

    Another time I heard someone describe a person as a “sorry man.” I thought that meant the man was apologetic. I learned later that really means that a man is a pathetic case, or without much character to show for!

    Another term used frequently is “along and along.” Up north we would say “little by little” or “as we can.” Example: Mr. Smith is fixing up his house along and along.

    Your ego could grow pretty fast here! Everyone calls each other “sweetheart” and “darling” and “baby” and “doll” – even if you don’t know each other. The cashier at the grocery store will call an old gentleman “sweetheart” and he’ll respond back by calling her “baby” or some such thing. This was a NEW thing for me down here, and I was not sure how to respond to all these gushy people! Older men in particular can be very “sweet on you”.


    Sooo, three years later, I find myself feeling rather at home in the midst of all this! Yes, it’s taken a while, and Pennsylvania still feels like home to me too. But this has been quite an adventure, a rich experience to live here. I feel that I am bettered for it, and I am privileged to call many people true friends… I can laugh at some of my experiences rather than feel frustrated and out of place. I feel that I am still learning, because there are still some things that amaze me, but I think (most times!) I can take it with humor now instead of a bug-eyed where-am-I feeling!

    How to end a post like this? Not sure. Except to say that no matter where life takes me, I will be grateful for this experience…

     Y’all!  have a great day J