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Too Soon to Say Good-bye

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These past six weeks have been difficult ones for my family.  On September 16th, my thirty-six year old nephew died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, plunging our family into sadness like we’ve never known before.

Chad leaves behind his parents, a nine-year-old daughter, a six-year-old son, a sister, two nieces, and a lot of other family members and friends who will never stop missing him.  Our family has experienced loss before, but this time, it’s different.  And it’s different because Chad was what we all consider to be too young to die.  It was just too soon to say good-bye.

I know that life doesn’t come with guarantees, and young people die everyday.  Just the same, I fully expected Chad to be around at least another thirty-six years.  I wanted thirty-six more years of his goofy grins, his funny stories, his presence in our lives and at our family functions.

We all expected Chad to be here to enjoy hunting season with his father and his son, to take one more beach vacation with the whole family in tow, to teach his kids to drive, to help his sister choose his parents’ nursing home, and to walk his daughter down the aisle.  And so we grieve.  We grieve for missed opportunities.  We cry for all those things that might have been, but now will never be.

Our only comfort is in knowing that it is God in his sovereign wisdom who numbers our days. It is God who gave us thirty-six years to know Chad and to love him.  Why only thirty-six years?  I don’t know.  But I know the One who knows the reason why, and I trust Him.


These past six weeks have been dark ones, especially for Chad’s immediate family.  I don’t exactly know what it must be like to pick up the pieces of your life after the death of your son, your brother, or your daddy.  It’s heartbreaking to see their pain and to know that my own pain is just a shadow of theirs.

I’d like to tell Chad that I was proud of him.  He was a hard worker, a great guy, an awesome dad!  It’s too soon to say good-bye, so I’ll just say, “See you later!”



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Springtime in the Country

Nothing says springtime in the country like green grass, blossoming trees, and the fragrant smell of …… an open septic tank.

We live in a beautiful rural area, and sometimes people are envious of our location.  We love our country home, but I thought I should clear up any misconceptions that country life is all sunshine and flowers.

Here at Grandma’s house, we recently received a letter from our local township office informing us that it is time for an inspection of our septic system.  We are required to pay a $75 inspection fee every five years for the privilege of having our  septic system checked out by an expert septic system inspector (talk about a dream job!).

Had it been five years already since Grandpa uncovered our massive septic tank?  Time flies when you’re busy flushing!

As soon as we mailed off our $75 fee, Grandpa commenced digging.  It was hard work, but thanks to Grandpa’s ingenious use of logs five years ago to displace some of the earth, it didn’t take as long as it did last time.

Finally, it was time for the inspector to inspect.  We knew this because he called us yesterday at 6:36 AM to confirm his appointment.   He arrived at our house in the afternoon with his assistant who is pictured below.

While his assistant waited in the truck, the inspector jumped right in and started inspecting.


If you’ve never had the joy of standing outside on a warm, sunny day staring down into a septic tank, then you haven’t experienced country life to the fullest!  The verdict is that our septic system looks good, at least as good as a septic system can look.   We passed the inspection!

Whew!  That’s over for another five years.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of country life.  In spite of our septic system, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

City life or country life, what’s your preference? 

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A Biker’s Lesson on Friendship

My experience with motorcycles and the people who love to ride them has been, for the most part, limited to what I’d observed by vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland, during Bike Week.  And I wasn’t there with a bike.  I was just another vacationer surrounded by the motorcycles, their riders, and the noise.  I was not especially impressed.

A couple of years ago, my nephew Chad was going through a rough patch in his life.  He found himself with time on his hands and an ache in his heart.  He made a decision to get himself a Harley and enjoy the sunshine on his shoulders and the wind in his face.  Even then, I was indifferent to the whole motorcycle culture.  All I knew was that Chad really enjoyed his time on the road and his time with his friends.

When the worst scenario imaginable played out last September–Chad’s motorcycle accident and his passing as a result of injuries sustained in that accident–I learned a whole lot more than I ever expected to know about bikers and the ties that bind them to each other.  Chad’s friends showed up during the hours following the accident and during those early days of grief to express their love to our family.

Last Saturday, July 25, 2015, they did it again! They held the First Annual Chad Miller Memorial Ride–a benefit ride organized by bikers and friends who knew and loved Chad.  The purpose of the ride was to honor Chad’s memory and to raise money for Chad’s two children.  The money raised will be a blessing, but I believe the bigger blessing was the show of support from Chad’s fellow bikers to his family.  These men and women showed our family and community that when the chips are down, it’s good to have some bikers by your side.

The day of the ride dawned bright and clear, and just before noon, all heads bowed, and my sister–Chad’s mother–prayed.  She asked God for safety and blessings in the name of Jesus for the bikers who gathered to ride their more than 100 motorcycles on a thirty mile course in memory of Chad. 

At noon, the bikers were off!  My sister and my niece gave the sign, and they left the parking lot in a cloud of dust and an ear-blasting roar of their engines.  The last biker out of the lot was riding Chad’s Harley which the new owner had restored to its original beauty. 


It was an emotional ride for Chad’s friends who visited a few of his favorite places.  The course even included a solemn ride past the accident site.  Those of us who weren’t participating in the actual ride were waiting at a local park.  Approximately two hours after the ride began, the bikers began to roll in.

Saturday was a beautiful day for honoring and remembering Chad.  The camaraderie of the bikers, their love for Chad, and their genuine concern for his family were truly heart-warming.  Chad’s family members were overwhelmed by the generosity of those who attended.  They shared old memories and made new memories.  They laughed and cried.  It was quite a day!

One of the women who helped with the event jokingly asked me if I ever expected to be attending a bikers’ party.  No, as a matter of fact, I never did, but I was glad for the opportunity to attend this one.  This time, surrounded by bikes and bikers, dust and noise, I was very impressed!

To those who participated and to those who will never forget what a great guy Chad was, I say, “Thank you…. and ride on!”



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Room For One More

On Thursday, April 9th, the world’s population increased by one when we welcomed into our family our first great-grandson, Jayden Michael.  We praise the Lord for a beautiful, healthy boy and a safe delivery for his mama.  Isn’t it amazing that just when you think your heart is full, God multiplies your love and makes room for one more?

While Jayden and his parents were taking care of business at the hospital–taking selfies, having surgery, cutting umbilical cords, taking a first breath, and the like–Jack and I were enjoying the company of the Big Sister.  It was our privilege to take Aaliyah to the hospital to meet her baby brother for the first time ever.  I think she was relieved to find that this little man-child her parents had been warning her about for months was NOT just a figment of their imaginations.

It was a special time for all of us, and we look forward to getting to know Jayden and being a part of his life.  What a blessing he is to our family!Just look at him sleeping in my arms!  I’m pretty sure he’s dreaming about coming to Grammy and Pappy’s house for truck rides, campfires, picnics, and dirt!  Thank you, Jesus, for this sweet boy and for making room in our lives for {at least} one more!


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Coffee Talk

My husband Jack and I have a morning routine that includes spending the first part of most days having coffee together in the living room.  I make the coffee–organic Fair Trade with a splash of half & half and some French vanilla creamer–while Jack checks the morning paper online.  We convene in the living room, he in his easy chair and me in my wooden rocking chair beside him.  This is my favorite time of the day.

We both value this early morning hour before the telephone starts ringing, before the sewing room beckons, before the grass is dry enough to mow or the wood box needs filling.  These are moments to be treasured, to be cherished. Sometimes we are tempted to use this time for more “productive” pursuits, but we both look forward to this quiet start to our day and refuse to let other things interfere.

This hour that we spend together each morning has done more to bind our hearts and lives together than a hundred marriage seminars or weekend getaways.  This is a time for us to laugh, to discuss finances, to update our calendars, to make plans, and to dream dreams.  By spending time together without the distraction of TV, computers, or phones, we can simply enjoy each other’s company.  And good coffee, too, of course.

I’ve shared marriage advice here on my blog before.  Today, I’m going to pass on another bit of marital counseling, and that is to make time for your own “coffee hour” with  your spouse.

Communication is believed by many to be the most important aspect of a successful relationship, yet time alone together for a husband and wife to talk to each other is one of the things that seems to get crowded out first when life gets hectic.

Not everyone can set aside an hour each morning for quality time with a spouse.  After nearly thirty-five years of happy marriage, Jack and I are blessed to be at home together most days with fewer distractions than many couples. Work schedules, children, and a hundred other things might make early mornings hectic at your house.  But it’s not the time of day that makes meaningful communication possible.  It’s not even the coffee that is of paramount importance.  The important thing is to make spending time with your spouse a priority.  It just might end up being your favorite part of the day, too!

How do you or how would you like to begin to make time each day to nurture the relationships in your life? 














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The Sisters Visit Big Valley

This summer is flying by at lighting speed, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I usually enjoy summer.  One reason for that is the cooler temperatures we’ve had this summer in Central Pennsylvania.  Another reason that this summer has been a great one is that I’ve gotten to spend time with lots of people I love.  My three sisters, Lois, Joyce, and Mary Lou are among those ones that I love. Every now and then, we like to get together and spend a day together.  Tuesday was one of those days.  For our sister outing, we decided to head over the mountain to the Big Valley–one of the most beautiful areas within driving distance from my house.  Big Valley is famous for its fertile farmland, quaint shops, and slow and easy pace.



We’ve had plenty of rain in Pennsylvania this summer, and the result of that is a plentiful harvest of fresh summer produce.  We filled the trunk of my car with cantaloupe, corn on the cob, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, potatoes, and peaches fresh from the farm to our tables.


Aren’t those the cutest little cantaloupes you’ve ever seen?  We didn’t buy any of those.  By the time we got to that farm, the trunk was full.

I mentioned that we’ve had an abundance of rain this summer.  This field of corn is proof of that.  Look at the height of that corn!  I’m nearly six feet tall, and that corn is three feet taller than I am!  This has been an extraordinary growing season in Pennsylvania.

My sisters and I loved all of that farm produce, but what we really wanted to find on Tuesday was peaches!  We determined not to leave the valley without peaches for everyone!  Can you believe that we paid just $5 for these two boxes of peaches?  These peaches are considered “seconds” because of their small size and some minimal bruising on some of the peaches.  We didn’t care about the small size of the peaches or the bit of bruising, so we shared this box of peaches among us.  What a great deal!
These peaches weren’t the only great deal I got that day.  One of our favorite stops in Big Valley is the thrift store.
On Tuesday, the thrift store was having a bag sale.  The clerk packed the bag at the checkout counter, and whatever she could fit in one bag cost us just $5.  Three of us came out with $5 bags of clothes from the thrift store.  I was particularly excited because plus size clothes are not typically found in abundance in thrift stores, but today was my lucky day!
My bag is packed full of clothing for me.  I bought eleven items, and one of them is a brand new swimsuit!  For $5!  Yee-haw!

Our next stop was the White Hall Store, a quaint, old-fashioned kind of store that sells bulk food items, home-baked goodies, and lots of other good stuff.
A day with my sisters is never complete until we have dined together.  Today in Big Valley, we opted to dine al fresco on hoagies made fresh at the White Hall store.  These hoagies are serious sandwiches, so big that we had to share two of them among the four of us.
What a blessing to spend a day with three of my favorite people in the whole world in one of the most beautiful places in our state!






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Rodent Removal Is Man’s Work

At our house, we don’t have hard fast rules about division of duties.  Jack sometimes washes dishes and hangs out laundry, and I sometimes shovel snow and take out the trash.  We both, however, have our lines that we refuse to cross.  Jack doesn’t cook, and I don’t remove dead squirrels from the living room floor.
Our dog Mocha has a lot of stuffed toys that we’ve bought for her at yard sales.  Her toys are often scattered on the living room floor.  I suppose that’s why I didn’t notice the dead squirrel lying on our living room rug until 11:00 last night.

That’s a mistake anyone could make, right?  I’ll admit, I was pretty freaked out last night when I discovered this.  The idea that a dead squirrel had quite possibly been sharing our living space for an evening was making me more than a little uncomfortable.

As soon as I realized that this squirrel was not, in fact, a toy, I knew it had to be removed from our home.  And I knew just the man to do it.

While Jack was scrambling for a plastic Walmart bag and an empty Velveeta cheese box with which he would scoop and toss that poor dead squirrel, I contemplated why it is that HE has to do the dirty work while I stand at a distance and photograph the event.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  Jack didn’t want to turn his attention from the Cubs and Cardinals to Rodent Removal, but he did it because he’s THE MAN.

This sounds and is incredibly sexist, I know.  But I don’t care.  Rodent removal is man’s work, and last night even more than most nights, I was grateful to have a man in the house.

We still don’t know if this squirrel wandered in our doggie door of its own accord and keeled over in our living room when it heard John Kruk singing, or if Mocha killed it and carried it inside.  We do know that Mocha has never killed a squirrel before.  We don’t know why Mocha didn’t tear it apart, or why she was asleep in bed while the squirrel was lying in repose on our living room rug.

We do know that from now on, the doggie door will be closed at night.  From now on, we will be monitoring the movements of our mighty hunter.  Even the man of this house is ready to draw the line at rodent removal!
Mocha, the mighty hunter

What would you do if you found a dead squirrel on your living room floor? 

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Why I Love Snow

Snow Storm

Complaining about the weather is a popular pastime in the northeastern United States.  With record cold temperatures and more than our usual amount of wintry precipitation this year, these complaints are growing louder and angrier as we trudge through February searching for April.

It’s gotten so bad that announcing a love for snow is like being a Notre Dame fan at a PSU football game.  I’m going to risk sharing my thoughts about winter here and tell you why I love snow.

1.  The Anticipation of a Storm

One of the best things about winter is the anticipation of a winter storm.  As soon as any weatherman utters the “S” word, rumors begin to fly faster than snowflakes in a blizzard.  When will it start?  Will it miss us this time?  How much are we going to get here?  Will school be cancelled?  

It’s impossible to go anywhere without people asking if you’re ready for the snow.  And we nor’easterners do know how to get ready for snow!  We go to the grocery stores and clog the aisles at Walmart buying bread and milk and toilet paper and tortilla chips and salsa.  We tune into weather reports every hour on the hour and post Facebook statuses about what is reportedly headed our way.  We buy rock salt and wood pellets and snow blowers and brownie mixes.  It’s crazy the amount of preparations required for a snow day!

2.  The Beauty of White Covering Dark

I especially love a snow storm that occurs during the daylight hours so that I can watch the snow falling outside while I’m cozy and warm in the house.  When our stark gray-brown landscape is covered with fresh white snow, the beauty is indescribable!  Is it any wonder that God Himself used snow to make clear to us His complete forgiveness of sin available for all who repent and turn to Jesus?

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

White covering dark, outside just like inside my heart.

3.  A Break from Routine

A snow day is like a holiday!  Even though I work part-time at home, on a snow day, I don’t feel pressure to be productive like I do other days.  A snow day is a day for reading books, drinking hot cocoa, and working jigsaw puzzles, or like today, re-organizing my sewing room and making chili in the crock pot.

Of course, I realize that not everyone can stay home during a snow storm and enjoy the beauty.  Some people have to go to work, and others have to clean up the snow which is no small job.  Not everyone has a warm and cozy home to enjoy during the storm.  Others have children home from school, cooped up inside or begging to go outside, and their constant wrangling takes the shine off a snow day.  I get that.
I didn’t write this post to shame the snow haters.  If I had to drive in the snow, shovel all the snow by myself, and referee sibling rivalries, I might hate snow, too.
But since there’s not a darn thing I can do to stop the snow even if I wanted to, I’ve learned to appreciate it.
“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

How do you feel about snow? 

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Highlights From My Florida Trip

My idea to blog my way to Florida and back didn’t turn out exactly as I’d expected.  I found that once I was on vacation, I had little time to actually post on my blog.  I know I promised frugal travel tips and other updates, but I was just so busy having fun that I didn’t get those blog posts written.

Even though I didn’t update my blog as often as I’d hoped to while I was in Florida, I thought I’d share a few highlights from my Florida trip today.  I had a lot of fun on this vacation, and I liked Florida better than I ever expected.  We met so many friendly, welcoming people that I almost hated to leave.  If Jack had been there with me, I could have stayed until spring!

Here’s the highlights, the things that I enjoyed most about my trip:

1.  The 19.5 hour road trip



We all thought we would hate driving that distance all in one day, but it ended up being a lot of fun.  In spite of our taking turns driving, we still didn’t get much sleep.  We were too excited, I guess!

2.  Beautiful scenery in sunny Florida



The area where we stayed in central Florida was beautiful!  I loved the palm trees, the unusual birds, and the Spanish moss.

3.  Having devotions every morning with my sisters

We tried to start off each day with Bible reading and prayer.  I also read us a selection from 31 Days of Encouragement as We Grow Older by Ruth Myers.  This devotional was a freebie that I downloaded to my Kindle a long time ago, and I’m glad I did.  We all enjoyed it, and the day’s selection was often applicable to our lives.  Above all that, there’s just something special about having siblings who know Jesus and love Him, too.

4.  Good food

From fresh strawberries to baby back ribs, we had some good food while we were on vacation!  I think we may have had a little too much good food.  I heard a couple of people complaining about their jeans being tighter at the end of our vacation than they were when we left home.

5.  Swimming outside in January!

The pool and hot tub were hands down my favorite part about our vacation.  The setting of the pool was gorgeous, and the water was warm even when it was chilly outside.  When I was lying beside the pool reading a book, I felt as if I were at a resort.

6.  Old friends and new friends

At church, we met up with one of our high school teachers and his wife.  We got together with them several times during our stay, and it was great to reconnect with them.

We also made some new friends.  Some of the new friends are other local snowbirds, and some of the people we got to know are from other parts of the United States and Canada.

7.  Flying home


While we enjoyed the road trip down to Florida, I was very thankful that we were able to fly home in just two hours.
Even though we had a great vacation, I was happy to be heading home to Pennsylvania.


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What I’ll Be Doing on New Year’s Day

Road Trip

It’s almost January.  Time for a blog post listing all of my goals for 2014, right?  WRONG!

It’s time to tell you what I’ll be doing on New Year’s Day 2014.  I’ve got a super exciting announcement to make, and here it is:

I’m ringing in the new year with a road trip to Florida!  

Considering that I really don’t like to travel, and I’m a homebody at heart, I’m surprised at how excited I am to be taking a two week trip to Florida with two of my sisters in January 2014.   I’m going to be a snowbird.  That’s the good news. 

The bad news is that Grandpa is not coming along.  He is going to keep the home fires burning while I go flitting off to Florida with the sisters.  I’ve never been away from Jack for two weeks, and I know I’ll get homesick, but I’m going to go anyway.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz.

My sisters and I will be driving down and staying at my sister’s home in Florida.  While we are there, we will be taking advantage of some of the activities for snowbirds in her community.  Our plans also include one or two days at Disney!  I’d never expected to go to Disney, so I’m pretty excited about that.

My sisters are loads of fun, and my plan is to share our adventures with lots of pictures right here on the blog.  I will also share our strategies for frugal travel as well as some handy tips on how to get along with your sisters while spending seventeen days together without a break.  You won’t want to miss it!

In order to ensure that you don’t miss a single post, why not sign up for my email list?  Just add your email address in the top right section on this page.  You’ll receive a confirmation email, and then each blog post will be delivered to your inbox.

Fasten your seat belts.  It’s going to be an exciting trip!

image source: dan/