A Chocolate Infused Puzzle

This week I made a mess, a frustrating mess and I can not blame it on anyone but myself!!!! I had a cup of steaming hot chocolate and sat it down by the puzzle I was working on. I intended to work on it while a drank the chocolate. I knocked over the almost full cup on the puzzle. It ran off the back and sides of the table, down the wall and on the floor. About a third of my 1000 piece puzzle was instantly soaking wet. Cardboard puzzles act like a sponge and soak up the moisture immediatly.

The whole right side is soaking wet. I am surprised the picture looks so good!

I quickly dabbed up the mess with a dry tea towel. I put all the wet loose pieces upside down on a plate to dry. Fortunately I didn’t have many on the table. As carefully as I could, I lifted up corners of the puzzle and wiped underneathe. The wet pieces had already swelled so they stuck together amazingly well. Then I cleaned up the floor and wall and set a cookie sheet and plate over the wet puzzle as the pieces were starttng to buckle. I let the puzzle rest overnight.

The next morning the pieces were still damp but the tray had pressed them flat. I removed the tray and let them finish drying. Amazingly, the puzzle is not harmed or discolored. Tonight I finished the puzzle. It is beautiful with just a whiff of chocolate!

Puzzles-2022

I have been having so much fun with putting together jigsaw puzzles, it has become quite addicting! My love or addiction for puzzles started in 2020 when Covid hit and the ladies at church started a puzzle table. We all brought puzzles to share. After a while it was time to get rid of the puzzles so I decided to take the puzzles and start a puzzle library. This year I put together a whopping 70 puzzles while recouping from all our health issues including my torn ham string and broken ankle. I had to have something to do! One little interesting tidbit I learned this fall was that Queen Elizabeth loved to do puzzles. She and I could have had a lot of fun together!

This is a little rabbit trail, but my mention of Queen Elizabeth reminded me of another unique encounter of sorts with her. In July of 2004, Gene and I flew into Salt Lake City and drove north through Utah, Idaho, Montana to Calgary in Alberta, Canada to visit a processing facility that we were buying our compressed hay from. It was very interesting. After watched the slicing, compressing, and packing process, our salesman took us out to the huge warehouses where they stored large square bales of hay and told us to pick which stack we wanted. After considerable evaluation, Gene picked out his hay. The salesman said, “You can’t have that stack, it belongs to the Queen of England for her horses”. We touched the hay, paid our homage and took a picture!!!!

Now back to the puzzles…. all the following puzzles are in my puzzle library in our store for check out, just like you would a library book. To date, I have 156 puzzles in inventory; 300, 500, 550,750, 1000 and even one 48 (pieces are huge) and one 1500 piece. Someone recently added about 25 to my collection but before that I could say I had put together most of them. In counting this post, I did 75 puzzles this year. I had no idea I had done that many!!!

“Christmas in the Cabin” (a wooden puzzle by Mosaic Puzzles)-1000 piece, January 2022

This was a very challenging puzzle and you had to have patience and think differently. The worse part was the pieces did not connect together tight (from looking at them you would have thought they did) and I was constantly bumping them and having to fix the issue. When I first started it, I was overwhelmed. My sister-in-law was helping me and she was intrigued and kept saying we could do it. By the time she left she had done the left chair and I was working on the right one. I kept plugging and did it. It felt like quite an accompolishment and I didn’t want to take the puzzle down. And no, I do not have room to glue them together and hang on my walls/

This is a sample of the pieces to the wooden mosaic puzzle. They were all kinds of shapes. There is no need to do the edge first as you can’t tell what the edge pieces are! They just happen as you go.
“Home Sweet Home”-300 piece, January 2022
“Lakeside Cottage”-300 piece, January 2022
Amazing Natures “Hidden Birds”-1000 piece, January 2022
“Library”-1000 piece, January 2022
“Summer House”-500 piece, January 2022
“The Candy Store”-500 piece, January 2022
“Farm Scene with Round Bales of Hay”-500 piece-January 2022 (missing 2 pieces) by Golden Guild
“Mom’s Pantry”-1000 piece, January 2022

“Pasture With Horses”-300 piece, January 2022 (missing 1 piece) by Golden Guild
United States- 1000 piece, Janaury 2022, by Master Pieces
Snow-Deer-Bird Feeder-500 piece, January 2022, by Bits and Pieces
“Yoga Cats”-1000 piece, January 2022
“Cobble Walk Cottage”-500 piece, February 2022, by Eurographics Puzzles
Assorted Wild Birds-500 piece, February 2022, by Springbok
“Lures Fishing Tackle”-1000 piece, February 2022, by Charles Wysocki
“Beautiful Butterfly”-500 piece, February 2022, by Mega Puzzles. This one was not as hard as it might look. The two sides are mirror images. Usually if I found one piece, I would find the matching one also.
“Millside Picnic”-1000 piece, February 2022, Hometown Collection by Bonnie White
“Songbirds”-1000 piece-February 2022. This one was challenging. Almost gave up and then a burst of determination got me going again.
“Songbirds”-750 piece, February 2022, by Hautman Brothers Collection
“Frederick the Literate Cate”-750 piece, March 2022, by Charles Wysocki. Also have in 300 piece size.
“Country Meadow”-300 piece, March 2022, by Hautman Brothers
“Old Pumpkin Farm”-300 piece, March 2022, by Eurographics Puzzles
“Three Sisters”-500 piece, March 2022, by Charles Wysocki
“Rule the Rooster”-1000 piece, March 2022, by Lori Schory. I loved this puzzle. It is the onlyp puzzle I bought.
“Chickens”-1000 piece, April 2022
“Home is My Sailor”-300 piece, April 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“Lichtenstein Castle”-300 pieces-April 2022, by MB Puzzles
“Mountain Lake Lighthouse”-300 piece, April 2022, by MB Puzzles
“Prairie Wind Flowers”-300 peice-April 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“Tea By The Sea”-300 peice-April 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“Volkswagons”-1000 piece, April 2022 by Muchos Pieces.
“Morning Deliveries”-300 piece, April 2022, by Master Pieces.
“Old Cape Cod”-300 piece, April 2022, by Charles Wysocki
“Family of Owls”-1000 piece round puzzle, April 2022, by Lori Schory.
“Weekend Market”-1000 piece, April 2022, by Master Puzzles.
“1856 Country Store”-500 piece, May 2022, by Puzzle Bug.
“Old Store”-500 piece, June 2022, by Puzzle Bug
“A Day Out At the Farm”-1000 piece, July 2022
“Castle Country”-1000 piece, August 2022, by Hometown Collections.
“Dog Days”-750 pieces, August 2022,
“Dream Day First HOme”-1000 piece, August 2022
“Fireside Companions”-1000 piece, August 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“French Estate with Vineyards”-1000 piece, August 2022
“Union Square”-1000 piece, August 2022, by Hometown Collections.
“Sunset on the Farm”-1000 piece, August 2022. (Borrowed from a friend. Not in my library collection).
“Quilts”-1000 piece, September 2022, by Arlette Gosieski at Ceaco Puzzles.
“Spring Fawn”-1000 piece-September 2022
“San Francisco Conservatory”-1000 piece, September 2022, by Hometown Collections.
“Spring Mill”-1000 piece, September 2022, by Abraham Hunter.
“Toadstool Cottage”-1000 pieces-September 2022, by TCG Toys.
“Wooden You Like A Ride”-1000 piece-October 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“Family Pride”-500 piece, October 2022, by TCG Toys.
“Small Town Christmas”-1000 pieces, October 2022, by Charles Wysocki.
“Winter Treats”-500 piece, October 2022, by Bits and Pieces.
“Beauty and the Beast Falling In Love”-1000 piece, November 2022, by Thomas Kinkade.
“Cabin In the Woods”-1000 piece, November 2022, By David Maclean.
“Spring Patio”-1000 piece, November 2022, by TCG Toys.
“Sasha Salutes the Flag”-1000 piece, November 2022, by Linda Nelson.
“Summer Afternoon on the Farm”-500 piece, November 2022
“Toyland”-1000 piece, November 2022, by Master Pieces.
“The Bluebirds Song”-1000 piece, November 2022, by Country Life Puzzles.
“Sempione Italy”-1000 piece-December 2022, by Springbok.
“Labor Day”-1000 piece, December 2022
“Carpathian Mountains, Europe”-1000 piece, December 2022, by Mind Blogglers.
“Christmas Traffic Jam” (Corkboad back & scalloped edge)-500 piece, December 2022.
“Christmas Train”-300 piece, December 2022, by Gift Craft.
“Winter Barn”-1000 piece, December 2022, by Susan Winget.
“Rooster” (Mosaic Wooden), December 2022, by Mosaic Wooden Puzzles.
“Glow in the Dark-Family 8 Traditions”-300 piece, December 2022. If you expose this puzzle to 20 minutes of bright light it will glow in the dark. I forgot to try it!

And now for the fun gag gift this Christmas…..

My dear friends, Donna and Sheila, gave this to me as a fun gag gift. They designed and made even the packaging. They knew I would get a big kick out of it and I did! I was tempted to open it and try to put it together but decided to keep it instead. There are three canes in the package.

Puzzles 2020-21: I did 36 puzzles.

Christmas 2022

I love Christmas. I love the family time together, the special holiday baking and all the traditions that go along with it. But I try to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Every year we put a star on the barn as a reminder to the community of the wise men that followed the star and found him. Are you following and searching for the true Light of the World? His name is Jesus, the Son of God who took on human flesh and lived among us to show us the way to God.

Following are some of our family Christmas pictures.

We put three different puzzles together.
This puzzle was a Christmas present.
Pat and Ryan playing Splendor, a family favorite.
Emily and Ryan
Two games going at once: Azul and Eurorails
Christmas lunch.
Grandkid craziness. They called it yoga-ninja.
Jill told me Ryan wanted to learn to make bread. So he and I had a bread-baking afternoon.
Finished loaf of wonderful smelling, hot, soft bread. Good job Ryan.
My recipe
Obe rode with Gene to feed hay to the cows.
Gotta watch some football! Emily held down the fort while Gene fed his cows.
Family tradition: We have to listen to Peter, Paul and Mary’s Christmas Special every year.

We also watched “I Heard the Bells,” the inspiring story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the author of the beloved Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and produced by Sight and Sound. It was really good.

Two very short video clips of our crazy grandkids. They were a hoot. We really do enjoy our time together. We were missing Keith, Susan and Noah this year.

Christmas Craziness-Video 1 (Lauren won)

Christmas Craziness-Video 2 (Karla won)

His Name Was Gus

It was the last day of November, and I got a call from my sister, Ev. It was her birthday and I had planned to call her. But she had something pressing on her mind that turned out to be very, very interesting to me and my extended family. She had turned on the TV that morning to listen to the weather. She is not a TV person, so this was not something she normally did. They were airing a story about an adopted girl who was searching for her parents. She found her mom and had a relationship with her for about twenty years. But her mom took an important secret to her grave that left her daughter with a deep unfilled void in her life. She refused to tell her daughter, Deanna, her daddy’s name. Her mother did reveal two crucial tidbits of information; he lived in Richmond and was a Greek. It became an intense desire of Deanna to try and find her dad. One day while praying, God revealed to her his name was Gus. After years of searching, she found her dad. The story that was aired is “Woman adopted as a baby is caring for her biological father after lifelong searach for him: It’s the most incredible miracle.”

Ev found the story very interesting and amazing. Later in the morning she was mulling over the story and suddenly it hit her; Richmond, Greek, Gus. Could this possibly be the Gus that we knew, the long-time friend of our Aunt Ruth? She called me. My husband and I live on a farm about 30 miles west of Richmond and our Aunt Ruth had lived on the west side of Richmond. Ev knew we had a fair amount of contact with both of them. She started telling me the story and I was stunned. The only thing that raised a doubt was Gus being a ballroom dance instructor. I had never heard that, nor could I visualize him as one. We called a sister of Ruth, and she confirmed that yes, that was true and had taught Aunt Ruth how to ballroom dance. Oh me, oh, my! I immediately had to hear the story! This was too coincidental for it not to be the Gus we knew! I goggled and came up with the story. As soon as I saw the picture, I knew it was him. We very quickly learned some things about Gus that we never knew; a history that had never been revealed, a life he had kept secret. Did Aunt Ruth know? My suspicions are she did since a nephew on Gus’s side of the family knew where to point Deanna when DNA testing linked them together. Aunt Ruth passed away in March 2016 so we will probably never know for sure.

The story of Deanna that was aired, is not the story of our family except for the fact that Aunt Ruth was a friend of Gus Nicholas for many years, probably going back to the early 70’s. Living close to Richmond and being close to her, Gus became a part of our lives in special ways. To learn this story about him has intrigued us and made us reflect on the man we knew but didn’t know.

Gene and I were married in 1972. Aunt Ruth was a single aunt who never married. She was next to the oldest in a family of twelve children. She got her nursing degree and in February 1966 moved to Richmond to further her education at VCU and worked at MCV Hospital. She was an excellent nurse and nursing instructor, and her specialty was the cardio-vascular unit, helping with some of the first heart transplants in Virginia. Another aunt who was a younger sister of Ruth, Carolyn Reed, her husband John, and their two children Doug and Cathy, moved to Richmond in 1974. It was really special for me to have two aunts so close by. I will always treasure the times spent in their homes and the special family friendships we developed.

I don’t remember when I first learned about Gus. Ruth and Gus frequently came out to our farm to target shoot their pistols. Ruth always drove as Gus had an eye issue and did not have good eye sight. He loved to shoot but he was never as good as Ruth. She could hit the mark! On one of their excursions to the farm we were getting ready to feed the baby calves and invited them to help. Our daughter Jill was really little, probably around 3, and she wanted to carry the calf bottle. It was almost too big and heavy for her, but she hugged it to her chest and waddled down the hill to the calf barn. Gus thought she was the cutest thing and giggled and giggled at her. Once he started giggling, he couldn’t stop! He snickered and giggled like a little girl while feeding the calves. He had never done such a thing and it struck him so funny. For Aunt Ruth it brought back memories of when she was a little girl on her father’s dairy farm.

This was in the early 1980’s.

Usually after they were done shooting, we would sit around the kitchen table, chatting and eating a snack while catching up on our lives. Gus was always friendly, chatty and fun to visit with.

I don’t know what attracted Ruth to Gus or how they met. They were so different in their family heritage and traditions, faith, lifestyle, ethnic background and education. But they found in each other a friendship that lasted forty or more years. There were times of frustration for Ruth and along the way there were several other opportunities that blossomed but never bloomed. Did she know his sorted past and wondering eye? They never shared the strong bond of a common faith and she never wanted to marry him. He was a friend and they enjoyed doing things together and the companionship it provided.

Gus’s favorite hat; the one he always wore. When I saw this on the video link at the top of the page I said, “Yes, that was his hat-the one he always wore.”

In her later years, Aunt Ruth moved to a retirement home in Harrisonburg. Gus took the move hard; he needed and depended on her, but Ruth’s mind was made up. After her death, I called Gus and told him of her passing. I made arrangements to pick him up and take him with me to the funeral. At the last minute, he backed out. He was not getting around well anymore and felt it was too much for him. I lost contact with him soon after that.

I realize we never really knew much about his personal life except his name was Gus and he was Aunt Ruth’s friend. I thought I had lots of memories of him but when I started to write I discovered time had stored the specifics of them on the unretrievable files of my mind. I will treasure the few I have.

Gus passed away on December 6, one week after the story broke. I was able to contact Deanna the following day and she told me the news. I asked if he had made peace with God and accepted Jesus as his Savior before he died and she said yes. Gus’s story is not about us or even Aunt Ruth but a daughter who found her dad and was able to make peace with her heritage, her past, and her dad at just the right time. It is an amazing miraculous story for Deanna and Gus. Their story was especially fascinating to us because Gus had touched our lives through Aunt Ruth.

We simply knew his name was Gus and accepted him for who he was, Aunt Ruth’s friend.

Other memories…..

My cousin, Doug Reed, who was Uncle John and Aunt Carolyn’s son writes the following memories of Gus.

I don’t remember the first time I met Gus. He was just so present in my life for my formative years. Our family moved back to Richmond, VA when I was about seven, and we spent quite a lot of time with my Mom’s sister Ruth. Gus was Aunt Ruth’s companion. In a family where respect for elders was strictly enforced, we were forbidden to address our Aunts and Uncles by first name only – “Aunt Ruth” always had to have the “Aunt” in front of it, despite the fact that she was such a familiar presence in our home. Gus was an exception. He was never “Uncle” Gus – he was pretty much the only adult we could address on a first name basis.

I remember him as a raconteur, telling stories around the dinner table – often hilariously off-color for our straight-laced household. He always included me in conversations, making my young self feel included in the foreign world of the adult’s table. I remember him sneaking me away from the dinner table and heading down to the basement for games of ping-pong. Gus had sharp reflexes, and I usually lost. Gus showed me how to put spin on the ball, twisting my wrist instead of just smacking the ball head-on. My ping-pong game improved after that, but he still usually beat me. He was a constant in our home for many years, coming to all of our Thanksgivings and Easter dinners. As a kid who enjoyed irreverent humor, I saw in Gus a kindred spirit. He was a man of good humor, with a smile for everyone he met. I am glad to have known him, and happy he found family and a home at the end of his life. 

On December 27, 2022 there was a Celebration of Life for Gus by youtube. Below is the link posted by Deanna Shrodes.

Celebration of Life Service for Gus Nick Nickolas

My Journey With Healing

The doctor almost bounced into the room today. As he felt my ankle he said, “Does it hurt?” I said, “No”. Then he said, “There has been significant change in your ankle.” I felt a surge of panic as I thought the negative and then he said, “Let me show you the x-rays. Look at them!” I studied them for a minute but failed to see what he was so excited about. When he pointed out the difference I could hardly contain myself. I responded with how much I had been praying for healing.

In the picture on the left (taken in September), see the open gap to the left of the screws? That is my bone that had not healed. In the picture on the right (taken today, November 29), notice that the gap has almost totally filled in. That is an incredible amount of healing in a five-week period of time.

In September when he ordered the bone stimulator for me, he caution that it would take time, could be six weeks or more before we see any difference. Today we are just over five weeks. All I can say is God has been gracious and He is knitting my bone back together. Numerous times when I have been lying in bed or sitting in my lazy boy, I have felt my ankle suddenly start to throb. Not hurt, just throb like a rapid heart throb. At first I was concerned but then I thought, maybe that is God knitting my bone together. The bone stimulator promotes blood flow to the area so that it can jump start healing. That is blood throbbing! Whenever I feel that, I always said, “Thank you Jesus for healing my bone.”

People have been asking me this month whether I can feel any difference in my ankle. I couldn’t. I could not tell that it had not healed and I could not tell if it had. I had no way to know if God was working in the secret place! Numerous times I thought about Psalms 139 where it talks about God knitting out bodies together in secret in our mother’s womb. It is a beautiful description of how our Creator God works. My ankle did not hurt and I could walk on it just fine because it was screwed together. However, I felt very vulnerable when walking outside or on the gravel driveway.

This Thanksgiving season I had to struggle some to not worry. My accident happened on Mother’s Day which was over 8 months ago. I could hardly bear to think of going through surgery again if my bone didn’t heal. It seemed like everything I picked up to read (several different books, facebook posts, devotions and even our Sunday School lesson on Sunday) was about experiencing God in our struggles, disappointments, suffering, trials and hurts. It is usually in our “difficult times” that we seek God and open ourselves to His work and divine power in our lives.

One book (Dying Outloud) I read was the story of a missionary couple to an unreached people group in a very remote area of the middle east. They lived among the village people for numerous years and learned to love them, pray with and for them and became a part of their life and culture. But they could not seem to reach them to trust in Jesus for salvation. They started praying for supernatural miracles so that the people would see the true God at work. A blind man received his sight and an almost dead person regained health. It was exciting and wonderful and the people were grateful. But then God revealed to the couple through a series of visions that something tragic was going to happen. That tragedy would break the glass ceiling preventing the people hearts from understanding the true God. How we live and how we deal with tragedy often speaks louder and clearer than a miracle. The challenge was to thank God for our difficult times along with our blessings. I began to wonder if God was preparing me for what laid ahead. I admit I began to mentally preparing myself for bad news but I resolved to praise God even if it was not what I wanted to hear.

This has been a rough year, all year long. Gene developed Covid in January and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. He is still dealing with long-term Covid affects. (That will be another post). Then my journey began in mid-March when I slipped and fell in the rain on wet grass and torn my ham string and calf muscle. That was barely healed when I fell down two steps on Mother’s Day and broke my ankle. From there it was emergency care, doctor’s visits, surgery, a cast, no weight bearing for two months, a walking boot, therapy, therapy and more therapy and then the realization in September that my ankle was not healing, not at all! It was the screws that allowed me to walk without pain.

I admit I began to feel battered and worn. The sea of life was feeling rather rough. In many ways I feel like Gene and I both visibly aged this year. But at the same time, we received many blessings and words of encouragement and prayers from family, church family, friends, employees, customers and even good ole Facebook friends! Yeah for Facebook! It was humbling to be so dependent on others to help with my basic heath care, clean the house, cook meals, do the laundry and the list goes on and on. It was so hard for independent me to say, “I can’t do it”, “Can you do this for me”.

To everyone I say thank-you. I am seeing light at the end of my tunnel and I am chugging towards it. There is a new lightness to my step this evening. God has been faithful and I have felt His presence, His peace and His care. I am grateful for this blessing of healing and praise God for His mercy. Thank you Jesus for granting me healing.

Other posts about my ankle:

A number of people asked about the book I referenced. It can be found on goggle. “Dying Outloud: No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death” by Shawn Smucker.

This was copied from “Second Sale” website: Dying Out Loud is the story of Stan, his wife, Ann, their children Elle and Stanley, and their dedication to following God no matter what the cost. They traded the comforts of suburban southern California for the crowded cobblestone streets of the Middle East. They explored remote areas and they befriended nomadic tribes people, courageously bringing a message of hope and freedom to those needing to hear it. But none of those adventures would compare to where God led them next: a journey of visions, revelations, and sorrow. A journey into stage-four cancer, and a journey that beckoned them to walk the shrouded path through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Yet even there they discovered peace, grace, and a new hope for the lost around them.

Thanksgiving-2022

I love national holidays that set a day aside for spiritual reflection and and special family time. We bake special traditional foods appropriate for the day, and take time off from our work and jobs. It is also a day to give thanks. I feel sad when people refer to it as “Friendsgiving”. It tells me they have forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about and join the crowd in twisting the truth of our spiritual heritage in setting aside a special day to thank God for all his bountiful care and blessings. A celebration of Thanksgiving goes all the way back to the children of Israel who celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days. (Leviticus 23). We remind our young children to say thank you when they are given a gift or someone does something special or kind. Thanksgiving is a reminder to us to say thank you to God, our Heavenly Father.

We had a wonderful day as a family eating together, playing games, putting together a puzzle, taking a walk and just enjoying time together. We went around the table and each said something they were grateful for. Some of the family couldn’t be here and we missed them.

Just a few pictures from our day.

Our family enjoys playing games which sometimes get quite lively and putting together puzzles.
A game of Settlers
Put together a 1000 piece puzzle
“Weekend Market” 1000 piece
We call these two the “Wonder Twins”. They really aren’t twins but have so much fun together. They played lively games of ping pong on the micro board. It is lots of fun and suitable for inside the house.
See these crazy “Wonder Twins” trying to play with their feet. I’ll just say it didn’t last very long!
The only picture of food was my “Luscious Pumpkin Torte”
Taking a walk.
The horses watched us coming and then ran to walk with us!
Ryan loves soccer and he kicked and dribbled the ball and the way out the lane and across the front field and back.
Cousin time – Karla and Lauren.
We had to stop by the horse stable to pet the friendly dogs.
And of course Karla had to love on the kittens.
These two kittens were some of Pickles babies.
Our star performer, Lauren, entertaining us with her original “Green Bean Casserole”!!! In case you didn’t get the message, she loves green bean casserole/

Olive Green Egg Yolk

A customer called today and described the egg yolk his wife had broken into a bowl. I had him send me a picture. I have never in my life…..!!!

The yolk is olive green and the white is crystal clear. I must say it looks disgusting!!!! He was quick to tell me he did not buy the hens from me!!! He has an assorted flock of Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and I think he said Ameraucanas (Easter Eggers). I have seen a few things in my years; blood in the yolk and even a worm one time, but never anything like this.

We went to our friend “google” and typed in “olive green egg yolk”. The results were very interesting.

An olive yolk in a raw egg seems to be caused by diet. There were several articles and one said green grass or alfalfa. But that does not make sense to me. Free range chickens eat a heavy diet of grass and their eggs are not olive green. We have found that chlorophyll that makes grass green, makes egg yolks a deep rich yellowish orange. Another article said acorns, some weeds or herbs such as Shepherd’s Purse will make the yolk olive. Shepherd’s Purse contains an alkaloid (bursing), tannin, and some sulphur.

I know if you hard boil an egg too long the yolk has a dark green edge around it. This is from the minerals and sulfur in the yolk that you destroyed by overcooking. It makes sense to me that Shepherd’s Purse could be the culprit and apparently it is common in our area.

I have never identified Shepherd’s Purse in my yard, but here is a picture of it.

Shepherd’s Purse

If anyone else has any expertise or experience with this I would love to hear from you.

Nothing Is Too Hard For God!

My broken ankle is not healing properly. Well actually it has not healed at all. This is difficult news after five long months of supposed recovery after breaking my ankle on Mother’s Day; surgery to insert screws, weeks in a non-weight bearing cast, wheelchair, crutches, walker, walking boot, months of therapy and trying to be very, very careful. I followed the doctor’s orders precisely.

When an x-ray was done after the cast came off, the doctor commented that it hasn’t totally healed yet. He put me in a walking boot. A follow-up appointment and x-ray still revealed the same diagnosis. At the last appointment he ordered a CT scan to see better what was happening. The news was not what I wanted to hear.

My ankle has not healed. It is hard to believe and frankly, rather discouraging. He said there are three reasons this can happen.

  • Sloppy surgery. He said this is not the case. He did the surgery well and the x-rays and CT scan show the screws properly placed and tight. It looks just as it is supposed to.
  • The use of drugs, smoking, alcohol, walking on foot during early stage of no weightbearing and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil) which prohibits bone growth. I did none of the above! The first part of the list has no place in my life and I was very, very careful to not let my foot touch the floor. He had warned me about Advil so I knew not to take that.
  • Genetics and biology of the body.

The options:

We are first trying a hefty calcium and Vitamin D routine along with wearing a bone stimulator three hours a day to see if it jump starts bone healing. The stimulator promotes blood flow to the affected area which encourages healing.

Bone Stimulator-reminds me of a home arrest monitor! The person who delivered the stimulator said this is a big issue with ankles-I am not alone and all ages, even 22 year old athletes, can have this problem.

It this regiment doesn’t work, then it may be necessary to redo the original surgery. He didn’t give all the details but mentioned bone graft and inserting stem cells. My mind was racing and anxiously I asked a question, “Does this mean you rebreak my ankle”? He said, “No, the ankle has not healed, there is nothing to rebreak”. That was rather stunning to me. Not healed? Not healed at all? How am I walking? His answer, “Because there are screws in the bone.” Gene said, “I guess that is like using screws to hold boards together to build a strong barn.” Don’t you just love the practical thinking of my country man!

Fortunately my ankle does not hurt, there is no pain. It was tender when the doctor felt it. There is still a bruised looking area above the screws. But it does make me feel very vulnerable to be walking on an unhealed ankle held together with two screws!

In my daily devotions this week I read Jeremiah 32. Jeremiah was in a tough situation. He was in prison for speaking judgment and warning from God to King Zedekiah. God had told Jeremiah that Hanamel, his uncle’s son, was going to come to the prison and offer him his field as Jeremiah had the first right to buy it as the next kinsman-redeemer to keep the land in the family line of Benjamin. Jeremiah had been prophesying gloom and doom, as the people had turned away from God and were worshipping idols along with many other very wicked practices. God had told him that if the people did not repent they would be taken captive by the king of Babylon but his life would be spared. In seventy years, the people would once again return home to possess the land and build houses and plant vineyards. This seemed like a very difficult and impossible situation. But then Jeremiah reminded himself of the God he knew and said, “Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” Those words resonated with me.

It was not long until Hanamel arrived at the prison with the request and Jeremiah knew without a doubt that God had spoken clearly to him. Jeremiah knew that he knew that if God by his power could create the earth and heavens, there was nothing, no detail in his life, that was impossible.

I went to see my Pastor last week and told him what I was dealing with. He asked if they could have special prayer for me on Sunday. I said yes, in fact, I would like to be anointed. This is a biblical (spiritual) practice that is laid out in James 5:14. “If anyone is sick (suffering), they should call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him in the name of the Lord”.

This is a very special time of laying your need before the Lord, asking for his healing, and letting the church join you in prayer and support. This past week I realized it is so easy to go to the doctor when we have a problem and just trust them to heal us. Yes I had said a few prayers, but basically I had relied on the doctor and his skills and expertise. I am not demeaning his role at all but ultimately God is the healer. So now I am asking God more intentionally to heal me. I will admit I can hardly bear the thought of having to go through the past five months again. Does this guarantee healing? No, this is not a magic formula for healing but it does align myself with God’s will and power. And it is asking God in a very specific way for divine healing. I say with Jeremiah “nothing is too difficult for God”. I know this is a small thing for God and I am praying for his divine intervention. Nothing, nothing is too difficult for God!

My ankle story: When Life Throws A Curveball

Karla’s Birthday Weekend

This girl always does things in a big way. Nineteen years ago she entered this world on the eve of Hurricane Isabel. We hightailed it to Harrisonburg to see this new granddaughter before the storm hit. She was so cute with a head of black hair. After loving on this gift from God, we hurried back home as the ferocious, destructive hurricane began its approach. This bundle of joy has been living life to the fullest ever since.

Karla had a big weekend and it was a joy to share it with her. She is a setter on the EMU Royal’s volleyball team and they had a double tournament playing Lancaster Bible and Mary Baldwin Colleges. They won both sets.

#3 is our girl!

Ryan also had a double tournament soccer match-at the same times. We scurried to his field to watch some of his game also. Note: The pictures below were not of his actual game, but another game, as he did not get to play while we were there and the pictures were too far away.

Number 24 is our boy!!!

Karla has an amazing group of nine girl friends at EMU and they are all on the same dorm floor. They are making a lot of good memories sharing life together and are such encouragers and supporters of each other. They surprised Karla with an evening of food and games at Ruby’s Arcade and then came out to her home for dessert; chocolate peanut butter brownies and raspberry/blackberry cobbler made by her mother with ice-cream. It was a fun evening.

Sunday morning Karla was asked to bring the message at Weavers Mennonite Church. She did an intern there this summer and it was a great experience for her to be a part of all that happens in a church behind the scenes. Her final assignment was to preach. She did an amazing job and if I can brag on her, she had good eye contact with the audience, good illustrations, good delivery and most importantly, a challenging, inspiring message. Good job Karla.

A bit of history taken from the Weavers website…….WEAVERS MENNONITE CHURCH goes back to 1825 when a congregation began meeting in the home of Peter Burkholder.  This home at 491 Garbers Church Rd. doubles today as a dwelling and a Bed & Breakfast.    
      In 1827, the congregation built a log meetinghouse located across the road from the present site of 2501 Rawley Pike, and later took the name “Weavers” from the caretaker.  When Virginia Mennonite Conference was organized in 1835, the meeting was held in this church.  A larger frame building was build in 1881 to replace the original structure.  The present limestone building was dedicated on January 31, 1943.

Just a side note….This was the church Gene and I were married at.

Before the service started, Karla served coffee in the “coffee house” behind the church. The building is a neat, quaint, old building that has a lot of history attached to it. I think it goes back close to the beginning or almost the beginning of Weavers. I remember it as the ladies sewing cottage. If my memory serves me correctly, Weavers was one of the first Mennonite Churches in the valley.

Lighthouse Coffee Shop
The grandparents; Darrel & Sherill Hostetter, Gene & Pat Hertzler enjoying time together before the service.
I love this picture as it shows the support of her college friends. They are there for each other!

Sermon: Run With Active Faith (20 minute)

Karla’s family, Obe, Ryan and Jill. I love their expressions.

It was a good, fun-filled busy weekend and a blessing to be with and enjoy family. God bless you Karla as you journey through life. You have a heart for service and may you continue to bless many with your joy for life, your gift of writing and now we know, your gift of speaking!!!

Sign of God’s Eternal Covenant: The Rainbow

Photo by Luanne Johnson

It was a beautiful evening. Late afternoon storm clouds darkened the sky to the west and north over the James River. The gentle breeze that blew all day became brisk and the yellowing leaves on the birch trees fluttered to the ground. A gentle rain watered the earth.

Just before dusk, the sun burst through the clouds and the sunlight glistened off the still falling raindrops creating a stunning huge, tall, full rainbow in the east. There actually was a double rainbow although the second one was not as brilliant. I didn’t see it at first as I was more focused on the sun reflecting on the roofs of the silos.

If you look closely you can see the faint rainbow to the right of the brilliant one.

I remembered God’s promise and the sign he gave us a reminder. I said aloud, “God I remember”.

Genesis 6-9 tells the story of Noah and the great flood that destroyed every living creature and all humans on earth except for Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives. Why would God do such a drastic, awful thing? It was judgement for the violent, evil, and godless culture that had turned against him. Noah and his family were saved because they were righteous, the only ones in the whole earth. It took them one hundred years, but they built an ark with God’s direction and they along with two of every kind of animal that God brought to the ark were saved. It is a fascinating true story.

One hundred and fifty days later, the flood had subsided and the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. Noah and his family along with all the animals came out of the ark into the clean, fresh earth bursting with lush green plants and trees. Noah immediately built an alter and worshipped God. God set a brilliant rainbow in the sky-probably the first ever seen. God told Noah that he was establishing a covenant with him and all future generations and living creatures. Never again would the earth be totally destroyed by a flood. God gave the rainbow as a sign of the covenant. And God said, “When I see the bow, I will remember my covenant.” The rainbow is not only a reminder for our benefit but also for God to see and remember.

I turned to walk back into the house and behind me the west was also blazing with God’s glory of a different hue, the stunning beauty of the setting sun.

Several years ago we visited the Ark, a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark in Williamstown, Kentucky. It was an incredible experience to see, feel and think about what it really was like for Noah. I highly recommend this adventure.

Noah’s Ark

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