“But She Doesn’t Know You!”

Today I went to see my maternal Grandma. She has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home. I try to stop in as often as I can when I am in the area. Today I thought about why I even bother.

Someone asked me why I even bother going if she doesn’t know me and this is my answer.

My grandma usually doesn’t know me. Sometimes she doesn’t even know my mom. Today I told her several times that I was getting married, but she doesn’t remember. After I’d been there almost an hour, she remembered my name; but next time I go, she likely won’t. She doesn’t remember what she had for lunch or if she’s having a good day. She forgets that I don’t speak Pennsylvania Dutch and so returns to her mother tongue when talking to me. So we sit together. I ask her questions and she answers. She asks me questions repeatedly, and I answer them. I tell her about my day and what I’m doing. I tease her about keeping the nurses busy, and she tells me that she keeps an eye on everyone. 

The nurses stop by and tell me the latest shenanigans that she’s up too. How she tries to walk or tells them that they need to get busy and do their work. She says she put on her ankle monitor  and the nurses laugh. Even if she doesn’t know them or me, she’s friendly and happy. At times she can be feisty.

So why do I stop in and spend time with her? Because she’s my grandma, my one remaining grandparent. I lost one grandparent to Alzheimer’s already, and I want to experience as many good things as I can with my grandma before it gets worse. I love my grandma and I know her even when she doesn’t know me. She’s my family and always will be. Most of my life I lived 3000 miles away from her, but now I get the chance to be with her more often, and I love it!

Today she told me that she hopes if I have babies that I will tell her about them. I assured her that I will. She also complimented my skirt choice. She appeared restless and a little upset when I arrived, but within a few minutes of my being there, she relaxed and cheered up. 

My grandma is spunky, even at 89 years old with Alzheimer’s. She is an amazing woman who raised 8 children. She can tell me stories about her growing up years. She is determined. And I love seeing where I inherited certain traits from. I inherited her spunkiness, determination, the way she doesn’t let anything stop her, and even the way she sleeps with one hand tucked under her face. 

I love her a lot and want to spend as much time as I can with her. That is why I bother.

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Mosaic Masterpiece

This is something I wrote back in 2013 when I was going thru one of the toughest spots of my life. I recently rediscovered it and decided to share it with you all!

The girl stood looking in dismay at the remains of her shattered vase. 
Once again her bouquet had been tossed on the ground and stomped on. Her vase had been hurled to the ground and smashed into a thousand pieces.

Once again she’d tried to show forth her value, her beauty, and once again it had been smashed into unrecognizable bits.

She sighed. She’d long ago given up shedding tears over it. What did they help? Nothing. No one cared. Why should she care? 

And yet…deep in her heart, she did care. She longed to feel value, to be needed, appreciated.

She turned away, determined this time to never pick it up again. She’d tried so many times before and it never lasted. She’d pick up the pieces, glue them back together, and five minutes later it would be laying in pieces on the ground again, shattered in even more pieces.

It had been patched and glued and put back together and broken so many times it was a most impossible task to put them together the way they were meant to be.

She turned away. She’d given up.

*ahem* She heard someone clear their throat.

Startled, she turned to face this new person. Who dared to intrude on her private burial of her vase, her value?

“Would you give the broken pieces to Me?”

What?! Was this Man crazy?! He wanted the broken pieces?! Why? So He could pick them up and throw them away? “Why?”

“I like broken things. I like to use the pieces in mosaics.”

“Mosaics?!” The girl’s voice was hard and critical, guarding herself. “I HATE mosaics!”

“Why? I love mosaics.”

“Cuz every time I see a mosaic, I see all the broken pieces and think about how painful it must have been to get broken like that!”

“Ah, but I see the whole beautiful picture and joy in the skill that it must have taken to put all those little pieces together into one beautiful masterpiece.”

“You do?” The girl was puzzled.

“Yes, I do. Would you let Me do that for you? With your broken vase?”

“Um…weeelll, I guess You could have them if you really wanted. If that is what would bring honor to You.”

“Yes. I will put the pieces together into a beautiful mosaic masterpiece. It will be done with such skill that people will look at it and wonder who it is that has such skill to make such a beautiful thing out so many ugly, broken, scarred pieces. Then you will be able to answer them and point them to the Artist. Because everyone will know that there was no way YOU could do such a thing. They will be drawn to look to Someone else. That will be how you will be able to point others to Me, and how You will bring me glory.”

The girl bowed her head. “Yes, Abba. I will do that. I am willing to be Your mosaic masterpiece in order to bring glory to You.”

And in that moment, she was given value beyond anything she’d ever imagined.

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Honour Thy Father and Mother

Today I was sitting in a teaching session and the speaker was talking on honouring our parents. Talking about the things that we inherit from our parents, both good and bad, and it got my brain to thinking what are the good things, the blessings that I have received from my parents? So right now I would like to introduce you all to my parents and tell everyone about what I have learned and the ways I have received love from them in my short life time. 

Me with my parents

Let’s start with my dad. My dad’s name is Maurice but to me he was dad, daddy, or papa bear. Here are some of the ways he showed me and my siblings love and some things I learned from him…

…read books to us in the evenings after supper and before bed. He read mostly true books from what I can remember and a lot of missionary stories. Some of the books I can remember are Cry of the Northland, Where the Wind Blows Wild, Flying the North, Bruchko, Peace Child, Lords of the Earth, a book about Jim Elliott, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series.

…we sing together a lot. He even had got a book and taught us some music basics. Now we sing and play instruments together as a family for other people. It’s a lot of fun! 

…my dad always did his best to keep his promises to us. And he tried to not make a promise unless he was sure he could actually keep it.

…taking us out for breakfast on our birthdays. Just us and him, one on one. It still means a lot to me, and I’m almost 25.

…when we were little, he would play “Shark” in the pool with us. My brother would be the shark coming after me and I would quickly go to my dad and get him to protect me. 

…we would go with him to the fire department where he volunteered and spent a lot of time there with him.

…when he worked at Gremco, we would go with him to work on Saturdays or sometimes evenings if he had to go to a customers house and work on a well or something.

…we went on road trips and made many memories that way. We drove to Minnesota, Ontario, Canada; Sonora, Mexico; and Pennsylvania with many adventures along the way.

…even tho my dad was not big into hunting, when we children began expressing our interest and desire to go hunting, he brought out his Winchester .30-30 lever action rifle, took us to Hunter’s safety courses, and took the time to take us out hunting. He was with me when I shot my first deer! 

…he always provided for us. We may not have had the best or most of everything, but we had enough and were content. We always had clean clothes to wear, plenty of food to eat, a roof over our heads, and even fun extras. Even though it was with great shock that we learned when we were teenagers that according to national standards we had been raised far below the poverty level. 😂 

…my dad also encouraged and welcomed our questions. Any and all questions were welcomed by him. I specifically remember one instance where we had gone as a family to the coast for one day and on the way home we had quite the discussion about the book to Revelation in the Bible. My dad did not shy away from our questions no matter how hard or ridiculous they were.

…it’s important to be involved in and serve the community where you find yourself living. My dad showed us this by example. He was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for 26 years or so. And when there was a community event such as a National Night Out or potluck or sing along, we were there.

…obedience to God is the most important thing in life. If we remembered nothing else from what he taught that is what he wanted us to remember.

…differences do not mean division. You can believe different, live different, look different, and it doesn’t matter. We can still get along. 

…family is important and family is family no matter how distant the relation. You support and love family even if you don’t always agree.

…have the courage to pursue your dream Even if they don’t fit into the “normal” Mennonite box and it’s ok for a conservative Mennonite to go to college.

…think for yourself and have your own beliefs and be able to defend them if questioned or challenged.

Now some things about my mom.

My mom’s name is Jane but to me she was always mom or mama. Here are some ways she showed me love and some things I learned from her…

…how to be a homemaker with homemaking skills like cooking, baking, canning, freezing, butchering, gardening, and sewing.

…listen to other’s hearts when they speak and hear the things they aren’t saying. 

…be a welcoming hostess and always have room for visitors or one more person.

…have practical every day faith that God will provide for our needs, especially when dad went back to school to get his nurse’s degree and wasn’t able to work.

…show interest and excitement in the passions and interests of others even if they don’t interest me.

…occasionally my mom would let out her crazy side with us children and we would all spend hours laughing and laughing so much. (My mom is hilarious!)

…my mom is not afraid to being Jesus into any conversation. Even conversations in town with random strangers. I have not yet gotten that courage, but I admire it greatly.

…always be willing and engaging when people want to ask about our headcovering or dresses.

I know I’ve learned a lot more than just these few things from my parents, but I wanted to just take time to bless them and thank them in this very public manner. 

Thank you mom and dad for all that you’ve taught me and the many good memories that you’ve given me.

Love your oldest child, Elizabeth

2015 Adventures

2015. I’m not sure any other year has gone by so incredibly fast before. Is it just me, or is time speeding up? In thinking back over the past year, I can’t even remember what happened. I had to go look at pictures on social media to remember! I’ve had so many interesting things happen. I’d thought I’d give you all just a glimpse of adventures I had.

Jan 1…spent the day having adventures in the snow with cousins. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us, and we’re looking forward to doing it again this year.

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All important 4×4 trucks in the snow

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Beautiful snow!

Jan 10…we had a live burn for my fire academy I was a part of. At first I was terrified, but then I was excited when I figured it out. Tod and Simeon were my academy mates and became two of my best encouragers.

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Getting ready to make entry. I’m at the front in the orange striped gear

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Academy mates attacking the car fire simulator

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Simeon, me, and Tod

February…I fell asleep on my way home from work and crashed my Jetta. I snapped a power pole in half, but was unscathed.

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March…I was part of the E-crew for the Oregon Trail Rally. The Oregon Trail Rally is a three day event in which rally drivers compete for the least accumulative time over the event. It is mostly raced off road in small Subaru cars. I was there to provide medical care in the event of a crash or any other medical emergency that came up.

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The E-crew car I was in for the first day of the event.

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Me and Rachel who were the two new guys in the group so we were given extra large shirts to wear.

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The winning rally car driven by Drew Higgins from Britain.

Other things I did this year…

…hiked Mt. Hood for the first time ever. We started at Government Camp and hiked up to Timberline Lodge.

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…participated in two mock search and rescue missions for training.

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…did standby medical for a half marathon and a two day bike ride.

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…received my CEVO patch. This means I can officially drive an emergency vehicle.

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…went to LBS for the third year in a row.

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…participated in a search on Mt. Hood. We had to call in the National Guard to airlift the injured subject off the top of the mountain. It was a pretty incredible first time search to be on.

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…and just a couple other random pictures to end up this post.

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In my EMT uniform. Yes, I wear a skirt

Until next year!! Stay safe!

 

Who am I, Really?

Something I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the last few days. Who am I? What is my identity? How do I identify myself?

To my dispatchers I am four-three-two-three.

On a search mission I am one-five-five.

To my friends I am Liz.

To my fellow volunteers I am Boss.

To the government I am Jane.

At my school I am the quiet kid in the front row who absorbs information and doesn’t say much.

To my labmates I am the one who loves to explain the inner workings of the heart and ECGs.

My gender is female. My job is transport EMT. I have five siblings. I love adventures. I bore easily. I have big dreams. I’m not afraid to break stereotypes. I love school. I am mostly content with my current life. I occasionally blog about random things. I don’t fit neatly into anyone’s box. I have wounds that have not yet healed. But is that really who I am?

What makes my identity? Is it what I do? Or the names I’m known by? Is it the adventurous side of me? Or the quiet withdrawn one? Is it my love of life? What is my true identity?

Then I take a few moments and God reminds me. My real identity is found in Him. So who does He say I am?

I am loved.

I am His daughter.

I have been given His Holy Spirit.

I am protected.

I am still learning what this actually means. To have these things sink deeply into my heart. Get past the logic of my brain and become part of my core being. Where I can really believe and live out of those things that God says I am. Until then I will continue living life full blast. You’re welcome to join me.

~Until another subject takes over my brain

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The Least of These

Weathered face. Black t-shirt. Digital camo pants. Brown hoodie that was two sizes to big. Standing on a street corner. Holding a sign in his hands. How many of these panhandlers do I pass by in a single day? I see them everywhere. I learn their patterns and smile and wave at them as I pass by.

But this one. He was different. Something about his eyes drew me in. In his hands he held the most artistic ductape sign I have ever seen. With three lines of words. “Marine War Veteran. Down but not out. Anything helps.” Maybe it was the stark contrast of the hopeful words on the sign and the lack of hope in his eyes. Whatever it was, I was suddenly prompted to find something to give him.

As I sat at the red light, I watched him. He was standing there, tears in his eyes, looking up to the sky, silently mouthing the words, “Just one please. Just one.” I reached down into my lunchbox and looked for what I could possibly give him. I found a giant apple, so I picked it up and rolled down my window.

I looked over to him and made eye contact and motioned him over. He came over, and I told him, “I don’t have any cash, but I have an apple if you would like it.” He eagerly took it from my hand, rubbed the apple, and kissed it before putting it in the front pocket of his hoodie. He started to cry and thanked me profusely.

We talked until the light changed and I had to go on to pick up my next patient. He seemed so grateful to be having a conversation with someone. I left him with a smile on his face and maybe a bit of hope in his heart. It stuck with me. I don’t know why I felt so strongly that I needed to give him that but I know I did. I reached out, handed him an apple, gave him a fist bump, and tried to show him that I saw him as a person with value.

It’s so easy to pass by these people and feel like they’re just trying to scam everyone. It’s so easy to forget that they are people just like us and some are truly going thru a rough time. So next time, smile, say hi, and give them an apple if you got one. It might make their day, and it will almost certainly make yours! I know it made mine.

Small Quiet Moments

Today I was looking at pictures. Looking through hundreds of pictures of the yearly adventure known as Lancaster Bible School. This is the third year I’ve helped with it. While last year was incredible and huge in my own life, this year felt quiet in comparison. I realized as I was looking at the pictures and reminiscing that it’s not always the big events that matter. Sometimes it’s the quiet moments that inspire you the most.

It’s the moments of quiet prayer time…

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Wisdom walker praying over a group of boys at the prayer station

It’s the many many piggy-back and shoulder rides, even to those kids who rival your size…

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Aaron carrying Marcos on our way from large tent to the next activity.

It’s the high-fives between tired teachers in the middle of an exhausting day…

It’s the moment the security guy takes over and talks to your boys when they keep insisting on running away…

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Will, Shawn, Marlin, and Merlin…the top security team for LBS. (I think they were pretty much the heroes of all the teachers as well.)

It’s the nurse who takes a moment to just pay attention to the kid in your group who insists on faking an injury…

It’s the wisdom walkers (or “red shirts” as they were called by my boys) who tell you to go take care of yourself when you’re sick to your stomach…

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“Red shirt” helping watch my group of boys while I was out sick for half the day.

It’s the two ladies who hand out hundreds of ice cream cones every day…

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These two beautiful ladies handed out thousands of ice cream cones over the week.

It’s when 500 people prayed that the ice cream machine would work and God honored the prayer…

It’s the pure joy on my boy’s face when he got chosen to guess the attendance and he guessed correctly…

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Jesse guessing the attendance of 446

It’s the powerful dramas presented every night…and watching the kids’ expressions and reactions to what was presented…

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Jesus casting the demons out of the man in the Gadarenes.

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Jesus and the man after being healed

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Raising of Lazarus from the dead

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Jesus at His trial

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Jesus and the thieves at the crucifixion

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Enemy soldiers raiding the Isrealites and capturing a little girl

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The little Israelite girl, “Amy”, with her captors after her example taught them about God and His forgiveness

It’s the moment your little boy concedes defeat and tells the other little boy that it’s useless to run away because “she’s too fast. She’d just catch us again.”…

It’s the fun of watching the little boys’ excitement over having worms, caterpillars, crawdads, and even “daddy long-legs”…

It’s the moment when Jesse sidles up to you and asks, “Are you feeling better now? We prayed for you and blessed you.”

It’s watching another teacher on the bus take charge and lead the children in singing songs enthusiastically…

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Dawson leading the children in an enthusiastic version of “God’s Not Dead”

It’s the sweetness of Habi, the little boy who always shared a seat with me on the bus…

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Habimael

And somehow in the midst of, as a result of, all these little moments…greatness happens.

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Marcos, Jesse, Aaron (my brother), Franklin, me, Jayvon, and Bryant…team 42

*****

Photo credits: LBS photographers, me