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Terrified at Night – My Psalm 91 Story

Like many moms with little kids, my days were often routine and so were my nights. By the time evening rolled around, I was so tired…so, so tired. After a long day of chasing 4  little kids, feeding them, changing diapers and homeschooling, I was ready to call it a day. Simultaneously, I looked forward to the end of the day and dreaded it at the same time. My husband worked third shift so the bedtime scramble was all on me and then there were the hours of being alone at home at night. After putting the kids to bed, I would crash on the couch and flip on the TV to watch one of my favorite crime shows. I knew I should go to bed…tomorrow required energy and I didn’t have any left. It was so dark outside. On warm summer evenings with the windows open, through the thick muggy darkness echoed all kinds of sounds…cars humming along on the nearby highway mixed with engine decompressions from big rigs, crickets singing, our neighbors’s donkeys braying and stray cats fighting in the yard. It was its own whitenoise of summer. Finally after a show or two, I would think about going to bed myself.

Having just watched some crime show where a horrible crime or murder was commited,  just the thought of going to bed struck fear. After all, if I was asleep, I was not awake, and something could happen to my kids. Still, I knew I needed to go to bed, so I would quickly walk through the house carefully locking all the windows, checking to make sure the kid’s windows were locked tightly shut despite the warm mugginess, bolting doors, and turning off lights. Then after double checking again, I would go to my room. There, I would brush my teeth, wash my face, get out my 12 inch hunting knife, find my cell phone and crawl into bed. In the slight dip in the bed where my husband usually slept, I would tuck the knife and the phone and anxiously lay in the dark listening to the house creak. Often, a creak or two might sound like a footstep so I needed to get up to check again and again to make sure the kids were safe. Eventually, I would fall asleep. I had my knife…I had my phone…if someone tried to break in, I hoped it would be enough.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with fear. I was afraid of sickness, people, new situations, and pretty much all unknown situations. I managed by carefully controlling what I could and by staying so busy there wasn’t time to dwell on the underlying anxiety. Even though the Bible says “Fear not” 365 times, it did not translate to me- I had no idea what it looked like to”fear not.” Fear seemed logical and wise. After all, the world is full of danger and unknowns are everywhere. Making choices based on fear seemed safe and good.

In 2011, the Lord  brought Psalm 91 into my life and changed my life forever. I’m not sure where my mom got a copy of the book, Psalm 91-God’s Promise of Protection by Peggy Joyce Ruth. But when she did, she gave me a copy and said, “You have to read this book!” I’m not even sure why reading it appealed to me…or why I cracked it open because reading about a Psalm was not that interesting to me.

By the point she gave me that book, I was pretty cynical about the Bible. After years of listening to Bible teaching, sermons, Christian school & Christian college, I thought I had heard it all…and there was a lot that did not add up in my mind. I didn’t know what to believe. I didn’t know who to believe and I would barely touch a Bible because it seemed confusing and largely inapplicable to me. I had no idea what part of the Bible was for me.  I no longer knew what I believed- I knew that Jesus loved me and that He had died for my sins but nothing more. After all, the Bible was written by 40 authors over a couple thousand years to different groups. There were 2 covenants and something had shifted and I had no idea where I fell in the mix. What part of the Bible was for me? I had no idea! My take away from years of Bible school was that you needed to apply very specific study principals to know if the section you were reading was for you, for the Old Testament Jews, for the early church etc. That had brought me to a place where I just didn’t touch it because I didn’t know how to read it…or really even want to. All that is a story for another time…the point is…I wasn’t really interested in reading about a Psalm.

Anyway, I remember opening that book and starting to read. And of course Psalm 91 is printed right there in the first few pages. I started reading:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

As my eyes slid further down the page and settled on the words:

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,

Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

… and further down

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

In a nutshell, my biggest fears were there…captured in black and white and somehow this was saying, I didn’t need to be afraid. Somehow this was saying I could rest…something I really truly wanted but could never have.

As I looked over that Psalm, so many words jumped off the page. I wasn’t sure what they meant or if it was really for me. But I wanted it. I wanted it for me. I wanted protection from pestilence (disease) and from terror, destruction, evil and plagues. I wanted all of that. I wanted to believe again that God would actually do all of those things. I wanted to be able to trust Him. 

And in that time…of reading and thinking and praying…hope was born!

As I read this book about Psalm 91, I was struck by the fact that the author had a similar background to myself and had struggled with all the same fears and questions. Her testimony of being set free from fear and learning to trust the Lord motivated me to keep reading and searching. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I knew that if He did it before…He could do it again…and that was enough to begin a journey that indeed this Bible was for me.

Over the next few months, this passage became the only passage of Scripture that I read over and over. I studied, memorized it and quoted it regularly. In the evening, I started to change my habits…reading and watching uplifting things and quoting Psalm 91 when I was anxious before bed. As my mind became more peaceful, I didn’t need that knife next to me as I slept and sometimes the windows were left open. The cell phone was nearby but not necessarily right next to me. When my kids would ask to do something fun…but had potential dangers…I was able to let them do things without it always being an automatic “no.” And more than anything, that knot in my stomach dissolved. I have by no means perfected trust…but this was the beginning…hope that the promises of God were still true for me today. These habits have continued for nearly 10 years. When I am faced with a situation…something fearful or scary…I will automatically begin to quote Psalm 91 and actively hand it over to God in my mind. And when I do that…really hand it over despite my fear and the unknowns of the present…peace returns.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust!”

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper

And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions,

And under His wings you may seek refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,

Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side

And ten thousand at your right hand,

But it shall not approach you.

You will only look on with your eyes

And see the recompense of the wicked.

For you have made the Lord, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

 

My hope and plan is to take each verse and break down what it means. I so love this passage of the Word…it never gets old for me. It was like a life vest in the days when I was drowning and its one I’ve chosen to never take off. In future day and weeks, I will take verses and look at some of the Hebrew words, and the context…so we can see how good God really is and how much He loves us.

Get Real Life

Dr. Mom and The Alligator Forceps

On Saturday morning, April 10, 2020, several of our younger boys ages 9, 10 and 11 came running out of their room yelling, “Mom, Bob has a bean in his ear! He put a bean in his ear!” Five year old Bob came trailing after them, crying and a bit shakey holding a cupped hand to his ear. He was clearly in pain based on his short bursts of crying. I grabbed my cell phone off the counter and flipped the flash light on to peer into his ear. There, lodged deep inside, was a small red bean wedged perfectly in his narrow ear canal. I had no idea what to do and when a child is crying in pain it tends to scramble my thinking. All the thoughts came through my mind. “What should I do? Can I get the bean out with tweezers? What if I can’t.” My brain was trying to tell me that this was not worth stressing out over but the urgent cares are all closed and the crying in the background made it hard to think straight. “ Do people go to ER’s for this? I don’t want to go to the ER right now.  Would they even let me come in with him? Is this event an emergency? I hate that I don’t know what to do.”  Thoughts flew through my mind a mile a minute. So while I tried to gather my thoughts, I prayed for Bob that this bean would come out and that there would be no problems.

Thankfully my husband was home. Having a nurse in the family is handy, but he wasn’t quite sure what we should do. In our area, all doctor offices and urgent cares had been ordered to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors were conducting office visits via Facetime and people were urged to stay at home for all but the most serious emergencies. I knew for certain that no remote doctor visits were going to solve this problem. 

Mike & I decided to gather any tools that might be useful to try to remove the bean. So we gathered various assorted tweezers and a very thin dental irrigator and water. After several attempts to grab the bean with tweezers, it was clear it was wedged too far in and too tightly. Any attempts to remove it were painful. Next I tried to slip the thin wire dental irrigator behind the been to flush it with water. No luck. Nothing happened. Bob just cried more. This was not working.

We have been teaching Julia, age 2, to pray for people when they are in pain or need healing. So we went to go find Julia so she could pray over Bob. At the time she had just had a bath, so she only wore a diaper as she ran around the house. After asking her to pray, Julia put her dimply hands on Bob’s head and said in a small sweet voice… “All pain go now.” 

A few minutes later, Bob put his head on a warm heating pad and promptly fell asleep.

Meanwhile, I decided to try and reach my uncle Tom who is doctor. After sending him a text for advice, I also made a quick call to the Children’s Hospital nurse’s line while I waited for him to call me.  I explained the situation and they redirected my call over to the Akron Childrens ER where I spoke to Nurse Ratchet. I told her the situation and asked her what she thought my options were. In a nasally voice, she replied “Well, the first thing you need to do is call your doctor. I really can’t tell you what to do…” “Ok; I replied, “But can you tell me if this is the sort of thing you usually handle in the ER or is this something that they handle in a doctor’s office?” (Nine kids and this is the first and hopefully last one to put something in their ear.” 

“Well” said Nurse Ratchet with a slight rasp through her nose,” I really can’t tell you what to do. You can bring him down here into all this craziness if you want.”

“Ok then, thank you for your time”

CLICK-CALL ENDED

Thankfully Uncle Tom called me back a few minutes later and was much more helpful than the nurse. He informed me about a few handy doctor tools that are not available in the drug stores. The one that seemed most interesting and probably the most helpful for the bean was allligator forceps to remove things from the ear. He assured me that this  bean in the ear was not an emergency despite what Dr. Google and my active imagination said.

So off to Amazon I went hoping that I could get some delivered in a couple days. Initially I had no such luck and started to panic. It was April 10 and every pair of alligator forceps said they could not be delivered until May 2 due to prioritized shipments for essential items. Three weeks…would Bob be o.k. with a bean in the ear for 3 weeks? This felt essential to me! A bean in the ear for 3 weeks could not be healthy! Thankfully, after a bit of searching, I found one pair of rainbow metal alligator forceps that could arrive in 4 days. Despite Google’s warning that beans should be removed immediately and could swell or cause infection, we were going to have to wait 4 days and just believe he would be fine. 

As I tried to figure out what to do, Bob took his nap. When he woke up, he kind of bounced up and hopped off the couch. All  the pain was gone! Praise the Lord!. Over the next several days, I would continue to check on the bean. The pain never returned and Bob didn’t have any discomfort either. 

On Tuesday evening, one of the kids realized that a small manila padded envelope had arrived with the mail. The alligator forceps had arrived early! Minutes after the package arrived, we were ready for extraction. The little tool looked something like a cross between scissors and pliers with a bend in the handle. I called for Bob to come so we could get that bean out. My poor kids, I do not tune in to anxiety well. But as soon as Bob saw the tool, he started shrieking at the top of his lungs and sobbing.  Despite our assurances that this would not hurt, he did not calm down. Mike held Bobs head still and in a completely anti climatic moment, the little forceps took 2 seconds to grab the red bean glistening with earwax. Bob was still whimpering when the bean was out… and it changed to a nervous laugh of relief. I should have grabbed a camera to snap a picture of the moment of victory but it didn’t happen. Instead I just thanked the Lord…for the nurse that lives in my house, a praying little girl, a doctor uncle to talk me through and Amazon’s quick delivery.

In hindsight, the bean drama showed me that when I encounter a situation with a lot of unknowns, that is when I feel a disproportionate amount of stress. It was easy to slip into fear and it seemed more significant (at least initially) than it should have.  Unknowns are around the corner every day of our lives. Life is like shifting sand sometimes and without an anchor, even the stable ground can move from beneath my feet. I love the verse, “Those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed.” I Peter 2:6. It has become an easy baseline for me to remember to gauge if I am trusting or if I’m fearing…and has helped me move from fear to trust many many times.

Blog · Get Real Life

The Spiral Staircase

The big rambling beach house stands in the second row from the beach. Its tall ceilings and huge rooms are the perfect place to relax. We are staying here for a few days to get away from the Ohio cold. It’s lovely and has been such a nice retreat as we recharge. On one side are two giant sun porches…one on the 1st floor and another on the 2nd floor. Both have several sets of double doors leading inside the house. Both are connected to each other by a tight white metal spiral staircase in the corner. I love spiral staircases. They are unique, fun and more adventurous than regular old stairs. They are also another thing to worry about with young children!

Our two year old is very adverturous. Normally, she is up for anything and runs full speed into anything interesting. She jumps first and thinks later. She is quite a handful and keeps all 8 of her siblings busy keeping tabs on her. But this staircase, she has not been so adventurous about. We have been here for several days and she will walk up to the stairs and peek up through the spirals. She might climb a stair or two before cautiously backing down again. Strangely, we have not had to blockade the stairs or be super vigilant. She has been more than careful.

This morning, she found me sitting in the upper sun porch reading. She sat with me for a minute listening to a book and sipping my flavored water. But before the book was over, she was up walking toward the stairs in corner.

“Do you want to go down there Julia? Do you want me to help you?” I moved over to the stairs hoping to get there before her. She can get places so fast. As we stood at the top of the stairs, I held her hand and tried to lead her down and hold her hand as she stepped forward in front of me as I followed. She pulled back and took a few steps away clearly not quite ready. So we switched places and I faced her and backed down the stairs in front of her while holding her hand. So step by step we went down the stairs. She held my hand with one of hers and the railing with the other. And as we made a slow descent, she looked me in the face and was completely happy to go down one step at a time. There was no fear.

And as she looked at me, I thought of my heavenly Father who does this for me. He goes before me and leads the way through situations that feel uncertain or fearful. If I keep my eyes on Him, there is no reason to be afraid. He is right there and I peacefully do what He asks me to do and know that He will keep me safe.

Isaiah 26: 3 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Blog

How To Make a Contract With Your Foster Child

Several months ago, I made a “contract” with my teenage foster daughter. After she had been here about a month, it became apparent that there were some serious issues that nearly caused a placement disruption.  We were dealing with issues common to kids in foster care like stealing, lying and deception. Initially I handled the situation badly but after using emergency respite for the weekend for she and I to cool off, I asked a social worker to come to our home so we could talk over one possible way I would agree to talk about a way the placement might work. The tool we plan to use is called a “contract.” This is nothing new of course; we all use these in our daily lives. But for kids coming into a new home, they can be an important tool to keep everyone on the same page. Every home operates differently and has different expectations. Kids coming from disfunctional homes may find that any kind of structure feels oppressive and overwhelming. In order to help them feel in control and help the foster parents feel sane, a contract can be used to spell out the expectations and consequences (positive and negative) of abiding by or breaking the contract. I did quick search on Google trying to find a template for such a contract because I’d rather not recreate the wheel, but was unable to find one so I wrote our own. Below is a description of the four parts of our contract, a sample of our contract, and the template I came up with.

Part 1: Basic Information

The first part of the contract is simply a basic outline of who the contract participants are, what the nature is of the relationship, and the length of the contract.

Part 2: The Agreement

The second part of the contract is the terms of your agreement.

In our case, first I chose to outline state required rules of foster parents that were of specific importance to our foster daughter in order to build trust. I didn’t feel the need to outline all of them because that is a lot of rules and we are already obligated to do/not do those things by virtue of our contracts with Children’s Services. What I was trying to do was demonstrate to the child that we are REQUIRED to do certain things that the adults in her life did not do or did only occasionally. I used this as a tool between us and our foster daughter but also with the social worker and counselor. I asked these other adults to act as 3rd party to make sure we are all keeping our part of the deal. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but were hoping to build trust and teach her about boundaries in healthy relationships.

Next I outlined the house rules and specific expectations that pertained to this foster child. I don’t think a blanket contract would work for every foster child as every one of them will have special issues that they need help and confidence to overcome. I think some parts of the contract can be the same for every child but some definitely need to be customized

Part 3: How They Get Their Wants Met

Third, is our agreement on how to meet the specific needs of this foster child. For example, some kids to participate in extracurricular activites. Others want to talk on the phone or be able to make the choice to buy new clothes over second hand. Some kids want to have their own money to spend or have a chance to go participate in some special activity. With my own bio and adopted kids, I verbally tell them how they can have the opportunity to do the things they want or earn money, but in this case, it is being written down to be a reminder and to build trust between the child, foster parents, social worker and counselor.

Part 4: Consequences of Breaking the Contract

Lastly, our agreement spelled out consequences of either party not keeping their part of the bargain. In this category, we kept the consequences general because we wanted to have the freedom to adjust easily. However, wanted the child to know that she was not being held here against her will. If we weren’t treating her with respect and keeping our word, we want her to know that she could talk to the worker or counselor to help mediate or in a worst case scenario, ask to go to another house. Kids in foster care often feel powerless. Giving them the opportunity to feel a part of the process can help them feel more stable and learn healthy relationship skills.

Below I’ve copied the contract we chose to use. In the end, we did review it with her in the presence of the social worker so that she could verify that we were in fact obligated to do certain things for her and we would do so knowing that we would be held accountable. We did not end up signing it. In the past 5 months, we’ve never needed to review it…not once. Most of the issues we were having disappeared when we put in place this contract so that she knew she had a way to have her needs met and that they would not be rejected.

Contract

This contract is entered into between (foster parents/first party) and (foster child/second party).

The term of this Agreement will become effective on (today’s date) and will continue until (foster child) leaves foster care in the (foster family) home. (specific date or time frame)

The Specific Terms of this Agreement are as follows:

1. Foster Parent Requirements – As licensed foster parents, (names of foster parents) are required to do many things. Their first priority is your safety. In addition to that, they are required to make sure that you have food (3 meals a day and snacks), a bed to sleep in, and enough clothing (see the checklist), toiletries and school supplies. On top of this, they must make arrangements for doctor, dental and eye doctor appointments and provide transportation. When needed, they must arrange counseling as well.

2. House Rules & Special Rules for that Child –We do require that everyone be respectful (in how they speak and how they act toward others), be kind and be pleasant. In keeping with those rules, ask before taking or borrowing items. If you need or want something, please say so. If we do something that offends you, please say so.

3. How Needs and Wants are Met– Children’s Services give (foster parents) money every month to meet the needs of the child. Foster parents have a lot of discretion in how that money is used to meet those needs, but $60 every month is allocated toward meeting your clothing needs (see checklist). We agree that whatever money is left at the end of the month after meeting your required needs will be given to you to spend on extra things you might want. (snacks, makeup, etc). When possible, we will give you the choice to buy the required clothing new or second hand so that you can maximize the amount you have left at the end of the month if you choose.

If you have items that you want to buy that go beyond your current budget, the proper step is to ask (foster parents). If the item is permissible, some steps to obtain it may be to do a job to earn it or save money available after clothing purchases.

If there are activities you want to participate in, please ask. Foster parents cannot read minds but do try to help you achieve your own personal goals.

**This part of the contract really only addressed the areas where we were having an issue. Therefore we did not address meeting needs like food or shelter because those were not areas we were having problems with.This could easily be customized per kid.

4. Consequences of Either Party Not Maintaining the Contract – Being in foster care can be tough. Many decisions are made for you that you may not agree with or get to participate in making. However, in this home, if (foster parents) do not keep the agreement, the following steps should be taken: (foster child) should talk to (foster parents) – somethings things are overlooked accidentally or not done correctly and they would like the opportunity to fix the problem.  If that does not resolve the problem, talk to your social worker and counselor. They both have copies of this agreement and have agreed to mediate disagreements.  Lastly, if no agreement can be reached and the problem cannot be resolved, (foster child) may ask her social worker to find her a new home.

If (foster child) does not keep her part of this agreement, (foster parents) will talk to (foster child) about the problem. If the problem is not resolved, they will talk to her counselor and social worker. If it cannot be resolved, they may ask (foster child) to leave and go to another home.

In consideration of the agreement detailed above, the (foster parents) agree that they shall provide the agreed upon care and will respond as described in resolving problems.

In consideration of the agreement detailed above, (foster child) agrees that she shall understands the foster parent’s responsibilities and the behavior expected of her as well as her options in resolving problems.

This contract can be modified in writing if the need arises.

It is agreed. By signing below, the Parties agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement.

 

Signature of (foster mom)

 

 

Signature of (foster dad)

 

 

Signature of (foster child)

 

Date: _______________, 20__

 

A Final Note: We are not legal experts and if you are concerned about that should consult with your local Children’s Services. They might want you to amend what you include or how you offer it to the child. Our foster daughter’s next option was a group home and she knew it so they were fine with us giving this a shot. Like I said, we didn’t end up signing anything but verbally going over it was a huge stride in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog · Family10 · Favorite Places in Ohio

12 Cheap Places For Groceries & Goods in Amish Country (Ohio)

12 Cheap (1)


When you have a large family and limited budget, you have a variety of options for keeping your wallet intact. Most of them involve shopping at discount grocery stores and/or using coupons. But when you live near Ohio’s Amish, you definitely want to consider the discount options available there especially if you like to cook from scratch and are willing to buy in bulk.

For us a typical day of visiting Amish Country is all about the food. I don’t really enjoy most shopping and prefer to buy online to limit trips to the store. But I do love my trips to Amish Country. If you live in the area, you know that there are several larger towns in Holmes County. Our family is part of a dairy herdshare in Holmes County. (This is the legal way to obtain raw milk in Ohio). It is our turn to pick up the milk about every 6 weeks, so that is about how often we go to Amish Country.

My friends frequently ask where I shop down there and I tend to groan. (I know…I’m nice.) The problem is, things aren’t on neatly marked streets. GPS doesn’t work down there sometimes and cellphone reception can be sketchy…although it does seem to be improving. Explaining where to find things often involves more general directions like: Go through the 2nd stop sign past the 3rd pine tree and turn left at the second entrance of the white house with the curve around driveway. Great right! It’s not really that bad but its hard to explain in quick conversation. So,  I tried to take pictures of my favorite stops because some of these stops don’t have great signage or your might pass them if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Anyway, my visits to Amish Country start in Kidron Ohio on Kidron Rd. The following are my favorite stops. Most are food related, but some I just like!

MCC Thrift Store  –visit their website here

MCC Thrift Store Kidron Ohio

Growing up, my mom was a hardcore thrift store shopper, and I had a love/hate relationship with the whole experience. Some thrift stores are dirty or the merchandise is poorly displayed. Some thrift stores have piles of donations/garbage out by the dumpster making you question what exactly they warrant keeping and if your donations are ending up on the trash heap too. What I love about this shop first is that it is neat and tidy inside. Carpetted floors make it quieter inside and the display racks are neatly organized. Most items are fairly priced although like everything, prices tend to creep up here too. In addition to clothes, they have tons of books, magazines organized by title, homeschool curriculum, household goods, craft and sewing supplies, and more. I know that when I give things like curriculum

Favorite spot to donate and shop
Favorite spot to donate and shop for clothing and household goods.

craft supplies, it will be appreciated by someone else and not thrown into a hodge podge box of random items. I also like that when you buy games and puzzles here, they actually take the time to see if pieces are missing and clearly mark the box to indicate if anything is missing.

MCC Thrift Store, 4080 Kidron Rd, Kidron, OH, (330) 857-7802

Cash, check or credit accepted

Lehman’s Hardware – visit their website here

Lehman's Hardware
Lehman's Hardware

Lehman’s Hardware is a favorite stop for that perfect step back in time right alongside modern amenities. Whether you want to find quality tools and seeds for your garden, cooking supplies galore, classic children’s games and toys, nostalgique old time candies and beautiful woodstoves, this place is worth the stop just to browse. If I don’t have my kids with me, I could spend hours in here. With kids, it is more challenging as they want to touch and explore all the cool things in this place. Definitely stop here if you have never been.

Lehman’s Hardware, 4779 Kidron Rd, Dalton, OH 44618 , (888) 438-5346

Cash, check or credit accepted

L.E. Sommer’s Grainery

DSC03562

A number of years ago, our family decided to start raising chickens for eggs. It was a big endeavor for us non-farmers, but we wanted to try it. One of the things we quickly learned is that chicken feed can be expensive!! In our area, a 50lb bag is nearly $20 but at L.E. Sommer’s, the price for 100lb  usually ranges between $16 and $20. Their feed is not organic, although they may sell that. They do have feed for all kinds of animals, so if you have farm animals or pets, definitely check this place out.

L.E. Sommers, 13363 Jericho Rd, Dalton, OH 44618, (330) 857-2031

Cash, check or credit accepted. Discount for paying with cash or check.

Kidron Road Greenhouse

Kidron Road Greenhouse is a small family owned operation that is open year round selling produce and flowers. My favorite time of year to stop here in the spring for flats of flowers and veggies. Their prices are usually much better than nurseries local to us and they usually sell things like onion and sweet potato starts which are less common at other nurseries.

7478 Kidron Road
Apple Creek OH 44606-8807

Cash or check accepted

Country Salvage Scratch and Dent

9420 Kidron Road, Applecreek, Ohio 44606

cash or check accepted

I’m going to need to get a better picture of their sign for you. The day I took this, I was driving alone and had my arm hanging out of the car snapping random pictures hoping something would work! This stop is awesome…wonderful…a must stop if you have never been. Scratch and dent grocery stores are in various parts of Amish country and exist in other places as well, but this is one of the closest for us. These stores buy bulk goods from suppliers that have damaged packaging or are outdated on their “best buy” date. Most of the time they are very recently expired but not always. Every time you go, the selection is different, so if you find something good for a price you can’t beat, buy it all! Prices are usually 50-90% off retail. Things you might find inside are canned goods, juices, cereals, crackers, cookies, candy, rices and grains, coffee, tea and any number of other things from a grocery store.  Often there are organic or gluten free items as well. I would caution that if you are unsure of something and are planning to buy a lot, open one to taste and buy there in the store. If it is “off” then you will have saved yourself from purchasing a lot of something unsalvageable. There are no returns, so there is a slight learning curve to buying groceries this way. I’ve been shopping here for years and have only had a few things over that time that were unsuitable but I am more careful now. My personal tip is that canola oil does seem to taste rancid after the sell by date, so I tend to avoid that as an ingredient if possible.

Ashery Country Store – visit their website here

The Ashery Country Store is a bulk food store. I remember stopping here when I was a kid and loving the bulk candy selection as soon as you come in the store. From chocolates to gummies and jelly beans, there is something here for every sweet tooth. But the reason I come here is for the healthy bulk stuff, much to my children’s chagrin. They have a fantastic selection of spices at great prices, bulk grains and flours (I usually buy in 50lb bags for a 20% discount), nut butters, cheeses, crackers, cookies, ice cream, honey and maple syrup and all kinds of baked goods. As with anything, not everything here is a great deal, but I do have my regular items that work well for our family. Of course, this is a fun place to stop for all the samples too. If you come to here and Heini’s you’ll probably need to hold off on lunch for awhile!

Ashery Country Store

8922 Ohio 241, Fredericksburg, OH 44627
(330) 359-5615

cash, check and credit accepted

Stutzman Farms

If you are looking for the best place to buy organic grains and cereals, Stutzman Farms is the place you need to stop. Much of their grain is grown right here on the farm and they specialize in organic and non GMO. I recommend trying their honey sweetened puffed corn or spelt…it is amazing! Often they have fresh baked bread available too.!

6197 Township Road 605, Millersburg, OH 44654, Voicemail 330-674-1289

cash or checks accepted

Heinis Cheese Chalet- visit their website here

Heini’s Cheese Chalet is an alpine treasure filled with amazing cheeses of all different kinds. Made right here in the same building from Amish sourced milk, they sell all different flavors of cheese and fudge. The best part is all the samples of cheese, fudge and dips! They also have an amazing selection of cookie cutters and sprinkles galore in every shape, color and texture imaginable. When you are leaving, if you drive around the back of the building to exit, you’ll see all the milk cans used for transporting the milk from the Amish farmers.

6005 County Highway 77, Millersburg, OH 44654, (800) 253-6636

cash, check and credit accepted

Troyer’s Country Market – visit their website here

Troyer’s Country Market is a blend between a traditional grocery store with bulk foods as well. They have a bunch of samples to try too! They sell Troyer’s pies with are delicious and have a little cafe area inside.

5201 County Road 77, Millersburg, OH 44654, (330) 893-3786

Zinck’s Fabric Outlet – visit their website here

DSC03588

If you love to sew, be sure to stop at Zinck’s Fabric Outlet. This huge warehouse is filled with fabric, notions and sewing delights galore. You can find some super deals on fabric here. Some of their fabrics have misprints or damage on the bolts so be sure to look over your precut lengths or bolts carefully to make their any flaws won’t make the piece unuseable. My mom regularly goes here if she needs to make a bunch of table cloths, curtains, or pjs for grandkids!

4663 U.S. 62, Berlin, OH 44610
(330) 893-7225

Sunny Slope Orchard – visit their website here

One of our favorite stops in the fall is Sunny Slope Orchard for a huge selection of apples. They also sell pumpkins, squash and depending on the season…sweet corn, peaches, concord grapes and various other produce. Open year round, they sell Florida citrus in the winter and baked goods year round. Their cider is delicious too! The best deal here is their 1/2 bushel bags of seconds. The apples might be small or have some bruises, but most of them are fine. They are usually around $6 for a huge half bushel bag. Last year they had seconds even in February so it is worth checking even past the fall.

14960 Millersburg Rd SW, Navarre OH 44662, 330-833-9415

cash, check or credit accepted

Well, I hope this was helpful. I have a few more stops that I need to add into this loop of favorites, but in the mean time, I encourage you to visit these places if you get a chance to visit the Kidron/Berlin area. Let me know if there are any must visit food stops I should add in!

 Google Map Part 1 (MCC Connection to Troyer’s Market)

Google Map Part 2 (Troyers Market to Sunny Slope)


Blog · Get Real Life

Get Real Friday…Scary Laundry!

Have you ever seen those pictures of the perfect laundry rooms?  Maybe your facebook friend remodeled or maybe you are just flipping through the latest home and garden magazine for inspiration. Well, I’m here to let you know that has never been my reality. In fact, very little of my life is pinterest perfect. Actually none really, if I’m telling the truth! So here is an honest peak into my house. I didn’t pick up before snapping my messy house pictures. These are for real! Welcome to my messy life!

My very real, very unpolished laundry room
My very real, very unpolished laundry room

In our last house, we actually had a separate laundry room. Well sort of… It was a room in the basement with no door that had a toilet in the corner, with a shower spigot next to it and the washer and dryer next to that. It was classy. You know…brick walls, no door. If you wanted to leisurely read on the toilet, you could do so while keeping the laundry running. Multi tasking at its best. We did upgrade the room eventually. We added tile floors and painted the walls white so they were no longer dingy and stained, but that room never became Pinterest perfect or achieved facebook bragging rights.

After living in that 750 square foot house for 5 years, we upgraded to a bigger house on 3 acres. The main floor needed a complete remodel. We borrowed and penny pinched our way through $50,000 in renovations, but unfortunately, we never touched the basement. Yet again, my laundry room is in the basement. Only now, we have 8 children instead of 2.

Here is a fun fact about having lots of children. You would think it would cost a fortune to clothe them. But, it doesn’t, because once you have a bunch of kiddos, you are the target of every generous heart out there willing to give you second hand (and new) clothes. The dillema is, they come in trash bags…often multiple bags at a time. The Lord has been good and usually there are some great items in those bags. I take what I need and then probably a few more (because little boys think clothes are disposable and manage to destroy good clothes on a regular basis). So back to my dilemma…there are bags of clothes leftover. Clearly I need to improve my method for passing along these items because they end up sitting in my basement for a couple of months before I send them to the thrift store. This is of course on top of the mountain of clothes we have that we are keeping.

Laundry 2

Some people wonder how we keep our clothes organized. Years ago, I decided that dressers were a bad idea. Little kids like to pull out the drawers and dump them or change their outfits 5 times a day. I’m not a terrible housekeeper but I’m not great either and who has time to constantly refill drawers or do the sniff test to sort out the clean from dirty on the bedroom floor. Not me! So, I decided to defer to the method of using a family laundry closet. It is brilliant after all…you don’t haul laundry baskets up stairs only to have them dumped all over. You don’t have unsorted baskets left in the livingroom to become dress up clothes for the little kids. If they are unsorted, they stay out of sight and keep the rest of the house from looking like a wreck. Clearly I had a problem getting laundry folded in the past, because that really was part of my thinking. Fast forward to today having lived in this house for 9 years. Somehow, we have never remodeled that basement.

Laundry 3

We have cubby type shelves lining one wall with a long rod above it to hand shirts on. Seems like it should work. As it turns out though, even this method has it’s challenges. The first problem is that kids still go in that room and pull clothes out that end up on the floor. Only now, they are spread on the yucky basement floor instead of a bedroom floor. If they spend much time on that floor they smell musty and need rewashed anyway. The second problem is related to having everyone’s clothes in the same area. Gonna take a shower and need to grab clothes…better check them twice or you might get underwear that are too small or pants that are too long if your sister put them away on the wrong shelf. Clothes get mixed up and put away wrong and as it turns out, cubbies don’t hold clothes in place the way a drawer does. I still prefer this method to a dressers in the bedroom but full disclosure…it isn’t perfect.

On the day this was taken, most of the laundry was done and most of it folded, but it still looks messy. Maybe someday I’ll have a tidy laundry room…probably when my kids are grown…but until then, get real!

Adoption · Blog · Fostering

Our Double Adoption Story – Idealism Meets Reality-Part 2

Continued from Part 1 of When God Whispers – Our Adoption Story

Idealism Meets Reality – The part where fostering is so much harder than we could have imagined.

We said “yes”…and they came. The social worker arrived first followed shortly by Sadie and Abel with their grandparents, and aunt. The social worker, Dawn, explained the logistics of what this placement looked like. We were not licensed foster parents yet. We had only completed classes but not gone through the rest of the licensing process. Because we knew their family, they could stay with us as a kinship placement. Normally that is reserved for family members, but it can also be used by friends or acquaintances who take children in.  When you foster children, there are requirements about how many kids can be in a room, the ages and genders of kids that can share a room and endless number of other requirement.  At the time, four of our kids slept in one bedroom. Elliott (the baby) slept in our room and the only other room was used as a playroom. It did not meet the requirements for foster care. It had an unfinished bathroom, with no door and exposed wiring (don’t worry…it was on the ceiling). It was halfway done but definitely unfinished.  Now, with kinship care, the rules aren’t quite as strict as regular foster care, but we did not have any way to arrange the bedrooms at that time to accommodate the gender requirements. Sadie had spent a great deal of time off and on with our neighbors through the years. They were her second family, and she loved them dearly. In the end, they agreed to have Sadie come live with them, and Abel would stay with us. The courts agreed to “separate” these two kids only because they would live next door to each other. Normally, the courts prefer to keep siblings together.

Continue reading “Our Double Adoption Story – Idealism Meets Reality-Part 2”
Adoption · Blog · Fostering

Our Double Adoption Story – When God Whispers – Part 1

Like many stories, ours does not have a concrete beginning. I think I have wanted to adopt since I was a child. But, this adoption…the one where we add two blessings to our family, began in early 2006. By God’s grace, we had found a buyer for our  small bungalow house right before the market crashed. Even better, the house I had always dreamed of buying was empty. Its owners were in a retirement home.  My brother was a house-flipper and title agent at the time, so he negotiated with the family for us to buy this new house. In so many ways, it was an answer to prayer because at the time, it was really more than we could afford. The mortgage was fine but the $50,000 in improvements was a bit out of our range. But bit by bit, even that worked itself out.

Continue reading “Our Double Adoption Story – When God Whispers – Part 1”
Homeschooling

The Importance of Your Learning Style

A number of years ago, our family jumped into homeschooling with limited success. Sometimes our oldest son would understand the materials and sometimes our lessons would end in a fit of tears. He cried a lot over school. I had no frame of reference. I assumed the crying was just a stage. He would get over it.

After homeschooling for a couple of years, I attended a homeschool support group meeting one evening. There, the leader passed around some resources designed to help parents or other adults figure out a child’s learning style. It turns out, this was a huge breakthrough for us. By this time, our second was beginning to learn to read and if there was any other noise in the room, he would quickly get overwhelmed and start crying and covering his ears. It was by examing resources like this one that I realized my kids had ways they learned best. We actually used several different assessments, but the results were surprisingly helpful. It turns out my oldest son learns very visually. Having me tell him things verbally is overwhelming. He prefers to have things written down and is quite good at using a planner. My second son is very auditory. He loves audio books and learning by talking and hearing as well as doing. This has transformed how we homeschool. If a books comes on audio, I’ll get it for my 2nd son over making him read. He reads very slowly but enjoys listening to audio books while he does other things. My auditory son also gets overwhelmed by too much sound…his brain can’t process all that input which is why he used to scream when it was noisy (our house is almost noisy with 8 kids) and he was trying to focus. Thankfully that delightful habit has diminished significantly.

In addition to these two sons, the rest of my kids clearly fall into prefered learning styles which makes is a bit easier to tailor their learning so they can retain the most possible. Having focused on my kids learning styles, a year or two ago I started paying attention to how I learn. I did relatively well in school but I remember very little of what I learned. On the other hand, my husband struggled in school but remembers so much more. Moving forward, I want to do better…to obtain and retain learning in a style that suits me best. So I started thinking back to different contexts growing up in which learning occurred for me. Here are a few examples and what I observed about me:

1. Welcome to School – I did well in school but my form of learning looked something like this. I would take verbatum notes in class…you got it…every word. Then when the test came, I would reread my notes over and over and then spit that info back out on the test. I aced the essays. The teachers and professors probably didn’t realize I was giving their words back to them nearly word for word. If it was another kind of test like spelling, I either wrote them over and over or read them over and over for practice. Again…very good grades. Even so, my retention was relatively poor unless there was a hands on project involved. To this day, those assignments that involved meaningful or fun projects are what I remember and retained.

2. Welcome to Church – I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about this one because other than Sunday School with the flannel graphs, I remember very little of what I heard there. I’m sure I’ll share about my crisis of faith another time but as part of looking at my time in church, I realized it was a highly auditory experience. In our church, they handed out bulletins with outlines on them and blanks to fill in. So I actually wrote very little…and remembered almost nothing. On the other hand, we did do service projects and go on mission trips. That hands on serving and learning has provided part of the framework for how I view the world. It definitely made a huge impression.

3. Welcome to my Room – Growing up I had a bookshelf in my room. My dad made it and it was a prized possesion…partly because he made it and partly because it held my favorite thing ever….books. One Christmas, all I received was books…17 of them, which included a new Bible. By the end of the week, I had read them all cover to cover (except my Bible…I didn’t read it all in one week). I loved books and if I ever wanted to learn something, I would get a book to learn it. However, many times I did not recall what I read because I did not do anything with it. Novels that I enjoyed, I would keep on the shelf and reread every few months because I didn’t remember it well enough to make it boring the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time around.

4. Welcome to my Craft Table (yes I know it looked like a diningroom table but I assure you, that 10 foot beauty was better put to use for all my crafty goodness.) After learning how to do something (usually by reading or watching), I would do it…make it..sew it…or occasionally cook it. I loved crafting. I think my mom was secretly relieved when I moved out because she could have her table back.

After doing the assessment for myself and observing myself in daily life, I realized that I am a very visual/kinesthetic learner. I can’t process voices very well and have been known to be rather awkward in conversation.  I find myself easily frustrated when more than one person is talking to me. I process auditory slowly and will often have a large delay answering a question because it takes awhile for me to process. As an adult, if I want to learn something, I either read or watch videos. But in general I prefer reading because I can follow the steps at my own pace and write in the books if I want. If its is something truly meaningful, I then take than information and do something with it. For me that looks like trying a new cooking method or herbal remedies. It might look like writing a book review or memorizing a Bible passage. If I don’t do something with it, I probably won’t retain much of it.

The reason I feel this topic is valuable for mom’s and dad’s is that when we have little kids, many times our own enjoyment or “me time” gets pushed aside. We are busy working, doing activities with the kids and running a house. My knowing how I learn best (which is also how I enjoy entertainment /relaxation best) narrows down the potential activities I will pick from when I do have some time alone. For example, because I am visual/kinestetic, some things I really enjoy are reading, watching movies, learning how to do a new thing. Some things I do not enjoy are music concerts, listening to speakers or in many cases…eating in noisy restaurants. I rarely participate in noisy entertainment because I don’t enjoy it, and can’t process it well. This may not sound like an amazing discovery but by the time a  break arrives, I am usually numb and can’t even remember what I like so I feel depressed and don’t do anything. (nice right).

So, my encouragement to you is…figure out your learning style. Most people have a dominant and minor learning style. One you do that, make a list of potential activities/entertainment you are interested and use that learning style to help you screen your list. For me it helps me narrow down my options considerably. Additionally, I encourage you to never stop learning. Looking at your learning style and pick something new to learn that will help you accomplish a dream or benefit you and your family.

Fostering

Foster Care “Bounce” In and Out Again

Foster Bounce

My husband and I have been foster parents for 4 years now but the first 3 years were just fostering our 2 children that we adopted. It turns out…that isn’t the norm. Recently though, we experienced a heartbreaking “bounceback” with a more recent foster son…we’ll call him Clint (not his real name). Clint, age 5, lived with our family for 2 months. He had been in foster care for over a year and a half  but had been staying with us for just 2 of those months after a move from his previous placement. He was a tough little boy….cute…but really tough. If he didn’t get his way, he would drop to the floor in a ball, scream a piercing scream or on a truly delightful day…go pee on another child’s bed or toy. He was in rough shape despite our best attempts and despite a weekly visit with a counselor. We knew that with his impending move home, there was nothing we could really do to stabalize him.   We were thrilled when the phone call came…Clint was going home with his mom, her new husband and his siblings. Things were looking up for this little boy!

After Clint went home. We fell into an easier routine. I would think of him often hoping he was happy.

Fast forward 2 months.

The phone rings Friday evening (it’s always a Friday evening with us…no idea why). The worker on the end of the line is someone I know from way back. She knew my parents when I was in middle school. An upbeat lady, I immediately start chatting…until she cuts in and lets me know this is not a social call. “I’m calling about your foster son.” My eyes immediately glance over at the sweet little blonde 2 year old cherub living with us right now. I expect this call is to tell me that he is finally moving in with a family member. “Remember Clint” I’m jolted back as a sickening sensation hits my stomach. I know what she is going to say. ” He needs a place to stay this weekend. His mom decided she couldn’t do this and she is placing all the kids (5 of them) back in care. We are calling all their previous placements to see if they can stay for the weekend until we figure out what to do next week.”

My eyes locked with our adopted daughter. She was listening to my half of the phone call. Her eyes grew wide as she figured out that Clint was coming back under such heart breaking circumstances. I knew this would bring up painful memories of when she too arrived home from school to find police and social workers on the scene that would soon lead her to a new home. Part of me wanted to tell this worker “no” he couldn’t come. He had been a particularly difficult placement and my husband wasn’t home so I could run it by him. Also, when Children’s Services says “Can they come for the weekend,” you know it will be longer. It takes several days at least to get things in order and that is if they move fast. Sometimes it takes weeks or months.  But of course, I couldn’t say no…not to this little boy.  He was the first foster child we had to “catch and release.” At the time I thought that meant he would stay and go home. But now he was coming back and we needed to “catch” him again.

When the worker pulled in, it was after 9pm. Clint was in the back of a minivan clutching the strap of his seat belt. The worker tried to coax him out. I tried to talk to him and then he started wailing. “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home….” We coaxed. He cried. Eventually we had to carry him in the house together. The exhausted social worker brought in his small bag of belongings and left. Clint stood and moved rather mechanically.  He hadn’t eaten since lunch so he had some leftovers from dinner warmed up. He seemed like he was in a bit of a daze so we got him ready for bed and I tucked him in and said his prayers.

Feeling exhausted, I sank into the couch. Only a few minutes passed before the small little boy came walking out, dragging his blanket with tears streaming down his face. He climbed up on the couch next to me and just cried.

He did only stay with us a few days until he could be placed with a sibling in his old school district.  I felt a sense of loss when he left but even more a sense of the long road ahead of him. These kids…the ones that land in the system, are often such transient little people expected to move at a moments notice. I pray that the little things we do will let them know they are loved even while their world stands on its head.