Archive for April, 2014

Celebrating Ariel’s Life

Ariel Joy Yoder

December 27, 2012 – April 25, 2014


The death of a loved one stops us in our tracks and makes us think about our own mortality.  But there is something extra sobering about the death of a child. They are not suppose to die before they have had a chance to live life to its fullest.

Yesterday we celebrated the short life of Ariel Joy who died from SMA-Type 1  (Werdnig-Hoffman Disease).  In 16 months she  had shyly charmed her way into many hearts. She couldn’t speak except to utter a few noises but she could smile.  Her huge brown eyes would connect with the person talking to her for a few seconds as she flashed a big, wide smile.  Then very quickly she would drop her gaze as she glanced to the side. It was sweet, demure, bashful and charming.  If you wanted one of those precious smiles you had to drop to her level and look her in the eye.


Ariel and Grandma Yoder


She left behind no wealth, no words of wisdom, and no achievements.  She never said a bad word, fed herself, or learned to walk. She was never able to approach people, they had to come to her.  She left her legacy: joy in the form of  her smiles, lot of smiles, and the quiet presence of a life she struggled to live.

Ariel was loved.  Her two brothers adorned their little sister and her parents faithfully and without any complaint attended to her every need.  Ariel went to church and she was told about Jesus and His love for her. She was prayed for by her family, extended family, church family, friends and friends of friends who fervently hoped and longed for a miracle of healing.

Ariel lost her fight to live on earth but she gained heaven’s victory. SMA is a cruel disease rubbing the body of the ability to move and grow. At 16 months she weighed a mere 10-1/2 lbs. But now she is fully and wholly free and perfectly healed.  She can sing and dance, run and jump. She is celebrating life to the fullest in the presence of Jesus.

And so it causes me once again to pause and think. I think about life and what it means, I think about the finality of death and infinity of eternity.  I think about choices and our ability to choose in life where we will spend eternity. At the moment of death there is no second chance, no coming back, no opportunity to change my mind. Regardless of the allotted years, I will have had my chance at life.

The last weeks had become an increasing struggle for Ariel. Breathing and eating became more difficult and she had several choking episodes. She started running a fever and about 1:30 on Friday morning Cheryl got her and put her between them in bed. At six when they awoke she was gone.  We don’t know all that happens at death but God’s Word gives us nuggets of information, treasures that bring peace to our minds and understanding to our hearts.  Sometimes the veil between earth and heaven is briefly lifted for someone who comes back from death and we have their testimony of life on the other side.

We know that we have guardian angels and that they do the bidding of our Heavenly Father. (Psalms 91:11) We know they come at the time of death and carry us to heaven (Luke 16:22). I envision excitement in heaven as the order was given to go and get little Ariel.  Heaven paid a visit to 7300 Kathydale Rd. The angels knew exactly where to go and went with haste. Did they lovingly caress Jeremy and Cheryl as they slept and kiss them on the cheek as they gently cradled Ariel’s spirit to take her home to Jesus?  Were six little cousins* and other extended family members summoned to the pearly gates to welcome her home?

Psalms 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”   As we laid to rest little Ariel we celebrated her short, sweet, innocent life not only with tears of loss and sorrow but also with tears of joy and release.

At the close of the memorial service the rafters in the Church of Baltimore rang as we sang with passion “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” by Jessie B. Pounds.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.


I know, I know, that Jesus liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know, I know, that life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

I know His promise never faileth,
The Word He speaks, it cannot die;
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth,
Yet I shall see Him by and by.


I know my mansion He prepareth,
That where He is there I may be;
O wondrous thought, for me He careth,
And He at last will come for me.


*Note: There have been numerous miscarriages in the family and Ariel’s little cousin Truman died two years ago from the same disease. Someday I will write about our two children who also died of the same disease.

Ariel Joy (About her struggle to live in the last weeks)

The Life of Truman

How Truman Touched Our Lives 


Peanut Butter Dessert

All afternoon I have been thinking about this wonderful, yummy dessert in the refrigerator at home. I checked it out at lunch and there were 3 servings left. Finally about 4 PM I finally decided to go partake.  And there it was, the empty dish on the counter-not a bite was left, just crumbs.  I won’t call any names but someone ate all the dessert!

We love this dessert. It is one of our favorites.  The original recipe can be found on the Taste of Home website and it is called Triple Treat Torte.  I modified it some and now it is a very healthy, good for you, low calorie, irresistible dessert!!!  Well, maybe I just helped it a little.

Triple Treat Torte

Here is how I make it.


1/2 cup cold butter or margarine

1 c. All-Purpose flour

2/3 c. chopped pecans

Cut together until crumbly. Press into bottom of greased 13″x9″ pan (I use Pam). Bake at 350 degrees for 16-30 minutes or until it just started to brown.  Cool.

Layer 1:

1 c. confectioner sugar

1 cream cheese, softened (8 oz)- I use 1/3 lower fat kind

2/3 c. smooth peanut butter

1 carton sugar-free Cool Whip (8 ounce) thawed -use half and reserve the other half for layer 3.

Beat together in mixing bowl until smooth. Spread over cooled crust.

Layer 2:

2 packages 1 oz. sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix

2 packages 1 oz. sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

5 cups milk

Beat together on low speed for 2 minutes. Spread over layer 1.

Layer 3:

Use the reserved Cool Whip and spread over pudding mix and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Note: I have found that I like to use a little more than half of the Cool Whip in layer 1 and it takes a little more than the half for layer 3. I use probably a total of 1-1/2 containers.

Yield: 15-20 servings.





A Very Tiny Baby Calf

Over the weekend we had a very tiny baby calf born.  It smaller in size than our border collie was but with longer legs. It probably doesn’t weigh more than 30 lbs.  The calf is struggling to live and Gene is having to bottle feed it.  It does not want to suck the bottle and he is having to work to get milk into the calf.  The calf can’t seem to get up on its own but when Gene helps it up it can stand on its feet.  Gene took a calf hutch out to the field as protection for the calf. Fortunately it is not nasty weather.


The calf looks bigger in this picture than what it actually is.


A calf like this is difficult to save but you have to try.  It did not get its mom’s colostrum so he is feeding a substitute colostrum milk replacer. It will only drink about a cup of milk. A normal calf will drink a quart.  This first week is very crucial to its survival.







This afternoon the mama was out grazing in the pasture when we went to feed the calf. Gene had the calf fed before she spied us messing with her precious baby and across the field she came in a brisk run.  The mama is very concerned about her baby and keeps a close eye on it even when she is across the pasture grazing.




Gene is moving a safe distance away as she comes to her baby.


First she checks on her calf.


Then she looks to see where Gene is at.



After she settled down, Gene eased back over and tilted the hutch up so that she could nuzzle her baby.

Then she spied me standing off to the side taking pictures and that did not make her happy.  It wasn’t long till I decided I needed to made a dash back to the gate with her trotting hot on my heels!  I love gates!  See the hutch all the way in the back behind the barn. That is where I came from!!!!


Yesterday Gene had to park the pickup in front of the hutch door to protect himself from her while he fed the calf.  These mamas are very protective of their babies and you don’t want to get caught in between them.


Working Cattle


This past week the guys rounded up a batch of mama cows with their calves to move to another field.  But first they all had to be wormed, tagged, vaccinated and the males castrated.


This is a “calf table” with a squeeze chute to work the calves.




 Pushing the calf into the head catch at the front of the chute.


 The chute tilts over on its side making it safe and easy to work on the calves.


This calf was not happy about being caught and was letting its displeasure be known.



The tools of the trade!


Just a quick snap and she is sporting her new identifying ear tag.


Worming by pouring Ivomec on the back.


Pen of young ones done and waiting on their mamas to be wormed and tagged.


Mama Cow.


The cows and calves were moved to another farm location for pasture rotation.


Lush pasture for them to eat.


Contented mamas and babies.


Gene was sitting in the grass, quietly talking to his girls and one almost came up to him.  She thought about it long and hard.




We have one Holstein looking calf in the group. We don’t know where those genetics came from!

Ariel Joy


December 2103-3

Ariel Joy

(Hebrew name meaning Lion of God)

A little over two years ago I posted several blogs about my nephew Micah’s son, Truman, who passed away from SMA Type I or Werdnig Hoffman disease. SMA is a severe genetic disease attacking the nerve and muscle systems.  Children born with this disease are known as “floppy” babies.  As the nerves quit functioning that control the muscle movement from the spinal cord they lose the ability to move. It eventually affects their breathing and swallowing.  We also had two children with the same disease in 1977 and 1982.

Fifteen months ago this cruel disease surfaced in the Heatwole family again. My niece Cheryl has a little girl, Ariel Joy, who is fighting for her life.  It is very unusual for it to show up in a family this many times as both parents have to carry the genetic markers for the disease.  Just to understand the family connection…Micah and Cheryl are brother and sister and their dad, Richard, is my brother.

September 2013

Ariel has huge, imploring eyes and an angelic smile. She has never rolled over or taken a step. She can’t turn her head but she can turn her eyes. She is very aware of her surroundings. She loves her family and feels very insecure when others try to touch or hold her.

Brithday-December 2013

Here she is celebrating her one-year birthday-December 26, 2013.

December 2013


December 2013-2

Time is running out for Ariel unless God performs a miracle.  Her parents, along with family and friends, have diligently and persistently implored God for a miracle to heal their little sweetheart.  It truly is amazing she has made it this far. Normally they do not get to celebrate their first birthday.

April 2014

Ariel is very tiny, weighing a mere eleven pounds. She is a fighter and several times has had a very close call.  Her swallowing is now being affected which makes it very difficult to even eat pureed food.  I quote from Jeremy and Cheryl’s March 23 facebook page….

“Well friends, it would be impossible for us to make up the kind of hope that we are experiencing right now. Two days ago Ariel choked on a bottle, stopped breathing, became blue and we thought we had lost her. But she came back! The last two weeks or so, she’s been borderline sick and “on the edge” health-wise. The choking event wiped her out and yesterday we truly felt we were looking at the end. We kissed her last night and put her to bed feeling like we had said “goodbye”. But this morning…. ! She woke up early and took some water. I was just trying to make her comfortable but she liked it and wanted more. Then she wanted breakfast. She polished that off, gave us tiny smiles and was interacting some, looking around with bright eyes…more herself than she has been in days. She has been sleeping, now, all morning. We are so encouraged and are, like I said, hopeful. I have to admit that my soul has been suspicious of such hope. After all, I feel I’ve been looking death in the face. But I have said to my soul, “Bless God! To Him belong escapes from death. Hope in God! Rest and receive hope.” What if we have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death and we’re actually, like He said, walking THROUGH. Please continue praying! (We cannot express how grateful we are!) We are so dependent on His presence, protection and touch.”
It was 37 years ago today that we laid our own little Karla to rest.  I remember and my mind is very much on little Ariel and her struggle to breathe, eat and live. I think of Jeremy and Cheryl and their struggle to cling to the threads of hope. Hope, that just maybe, they will be granted a much desired miracle.
I am reminded of my Heavenly Father’s deep love for his children. I am reminded of His presence, His peace and His comfort. Maybe He will yet miraculously choose to heal little Ariel in this life. But if He doesn’t we know that she will be perfectly and fully healed in her new life with Him.  God tells us to bring our sorrows, our desires, our needs, our petitions, our joys and our worship to Him.  And so we enter the throne room of heaven and ask for a miracle for little Ariel.  God hears.  Regardless of the outcome I will praise His name and thank Him for His goodness. I can trust Him.

When a Farmer Loses His Dog

This has not been a good week. It is always hard when you lose a family pet.  But when a farmer loses his dog, he has lost not only his buddy but also his constant companion and helper.


Katie was killed this week in a farm accident.  She died doing what she loved most, herding the forklift.   The only time she chased the forklift was when Gene was on it.  She would run backwards at the front prongs, barking at it as if she wanted to herd it backwards. They had their little routine. He would beep the horn at her and holler at her to stop and she would keep at it.

Katie was a registered border collie, one of the most useful breed of dogs for on the farm. They are known for their intelligence and herding ability.  If a border collie thought a fence post would move they would herd it.  Gene has had border collies all his life and he loves them.  The dogs and I tolerate each other at a distance. In other words I am not a dog lover but I have learned it just comes with the territory.


Katie was Gene’s dog. Her eyes were on him alone. She never endeared herself to the rest of the family. Sometimes it seemed her faults out weighed her charm but she was Katie and Gene seemed to understand her.  If she was told to sit, it lasted only until she got her coveted biscuit. She would listen to me only if Gene was not around.

She was the only dog who ever rode on the tractor with Gene.  She would ride for hours while he baled hay or fed the cows.


She loved to help move cattle and would go until she literally dropped.  She could quickly get herself in a predicament with a protective mama cow as she didn’t have much fear. Nothing stopped her; briers, mud, snow, or heat. When the job was done she would lay on the patio and clean the burrs from her fur and give herself a lick bath. Whatever Gene did, wherever Gene went, she was there. If Gene came in the house she would sit on the patio and watch through the door to see what he was going to do next. If he went into the laundry room, she would beeline for the back door as she knew he was coming back out.  If he went into the living room, she would go curl up in one of her favorite napping spots.





Often in the summer  Gene and I will ride the fields on the golf cart or snapper checking the hay or cattle.  Katie always went along, most of the time running ahead, just in front of the front wheels.  No amount of hollering, fussing or scolding would change her obnoxious  habit. Gene said he never hollered “no” at a dog more than he did her. Occasionally she would hop on for a ride but soon would be off to run and explore.

One of her very annoying habit was “tree biting”.  There were certain sounds (the weed trimmer or the treadmill in the house-she could hear it outside) she could not stand and it would drive her to “tree biting”.  She would go to a tree, jump at it over and over and bite at the bark as high as she could reach. Other noises such as a lawn mower or tag-a-long trailer coming in the driveway would send her scurrying for cover in her dog house.

We kept her penned up during the day because of all the traffic coming in our drive and we didn’t want her to start chasing cars. Her pen was situated so that she could see all directions on the farm; the cattle to the south, the house to the north, the driveway to the west and the store to the east.


Each morning, every day of her life. Gene would give her a drink of water by the patio. Then she would plop down on her belly and he would have to literally drag her by the collar to the dog pen 50 feet away. She would resist the whole way, gagging at the collar choking her until they got to the door and then she would go obediently into her house where she would sit most of the day just watching the day’s activities. She was content to be there with her head out the door as long as Gene didn’t get on the tractor or chase a cow.


She would not eat or drink in her pen. She was a picky eater and preferred a torn bag of monkey biscuits to dog food.  She was very protective of her food and if you touched her while she was eating she would respond with a snarl and vicious snap. The grandchildren all learned this the hard way.

She would often sit like a sentential watching over the farm. Occasionally she would corner a coon or groundhog. We always knew when she had one cornered with her intense, excited yelping as if to say, “Come, help me. I got one for you.”  Gene would grab his ball bat and quickly make a hit on the head of the victim.  Instantly, as if on cue, Katie would jump in for the kill. She was swift and the varmint did not escape.


When Gene would leave for a few days, she moped.  She would gaze out the drive or lay in her house watching for his return.


Katie was almost 13 years old. She was starting to show her age. Several years ago she tangled with the golf cart wheels and her back leg was never quite right after that accident.  In the past few months and weeks we had noticed it seemed to be bothering her more as she could no longer jump into the tractor by herself and had a more pronounced limp.

 Rest in peace



June 29, 2001 – April 1, 2014

An Oops Kind of Day!

This afternoon Gene came into the store and said “come out here and take a look.” That that the sound that something was wrong.


That is not the way the forklift is suppose to come off the dock.  By the time I got my camera he had already hooked the tractor to it to stabilize it and blocks under the wheels on this side.  It was very unstable and wobbly.  I thought it was going to turn over.  Gene had just unloaded a trailer load of hay and apparently didn’t get it out of gear when he got off.

I wanted to watch but of course at that very moment it got very busy in the store. The phone started ringing and customers apparently had lined up to pull in all together!


All is well that ends well.  Nothing was bent or broken, no vehicles were in the way, and no one was hurt. It was hard to believe the prongs weren’t bent the way they dug into the driveway. But it also probably kept it from turning over. I guess it is good is was somewhat soft from all the rain.