Friday, August 28, 2009

Post Script to Extreme Home Makeover

This Article was in the local newspaper for the Archbold, Ohio area. I thought it described what happened at my dad's house so much better than I was able to do, so I wanted to include it here. This was a column by Jack Palmer, and he titled it "In Three Days Walt's House Rose Again"

Jack Palmer
August 27, 2009

God's miracles still happen, even here in rural northwest Ohio.

The latest example took place over the past three days on the former Walt Gisel family farm at the edge of Archbold.

Gisel, who died last year, was known as a humble man whose first loves were his family and his faith. After retiring from farming, the families of Cork and Jim Rufenacht farmed his land. In later years, Gisel moved into town and his house became a rental property.

The Rufenachts purchased the Gisel farm at the estate auction held this spring, but had little use for the home. Their initial thought was to demolish the structure to create more tillable acreage.

That's when the Lord took over.

Prior to moving ahead with demolition, the Rufenachts called Cecily Rohrs, known in the Archbold area as "the woman who makes things happen."
One of her many hats is founder and president of Shepherd's Circle, a grass-roots, all-volunteer organization established to help individuals and families make better decisions for day-to-day living.

"They called me and asked if I had an idea for the use of the home," Rohrs said Wednesday. "That was six weeks ago."

Of course, she had an idea. Cecily always has an idea. The inner workings of her brain processes ideas 24/7, ideas she usually turns into action.
Anyone who knows her is aware of her dynamism.

She wanted to turn the Gisel farm house into a home for men in need of a new setting and new relationships. They would be required to have daily contact with a "shepherd," but could garner a fresh start in life without the rest of the world judging them.

"The house needed care and attention, but it was livable," said Rohrs. "My initial thought was that as men moved in, they could each paint, scrub floors or fix windows according to their talents."

Last weekend, an overnight inspiration prompted her into a new plan of action. Rohrs, a member of St. Martin Lutheran Church, began calling friends at several other churches to ask for help in fixing up the house.

One of those calls went to Lilli Radabaugh, a member of St. Peter Catholic Church.
"Most people in town know that when Cecily calls, you listen," Radabaugh said. "When she makes a request, you know she has done her homework."
After meeting Rohrs at the Gisel house on Sunday, Radabaugh agreed to recruit volunteers from her parish to clean, paint and furnish the bathroom.

Over the next few hours, members from eight more churches plus her own promised Rohrs they would take one room each. Those involved were St. John Lutheran Church (at the corner of U.S. 6 and Ohio 66), St. John Christian Church, Archbold Evangelical Church, Central Mennonite Church, Lockport Mennonite Church, West Clinton Mennonite Church, Zion Mennonite Church, St. Peter Catholic Church, Archbold United Methodist and St. Martin Lutheran Church.

By Monday morning, they were all at work.
"When we left Monday night, we didn't want to go home," said Radabaugh. "It was just a great feeling to be involved in such a project."
The goal was to prepare the house for its first occupant by Wednesday night. Rohrs expects him to arrive as early as today.

"The floors were scrubbed, the walls were painted and new paneling was installed where needed," said Rohrs. "The people brought in silverware, bedding and toiletries. It was unbelievable."

Even more unbelievable was that everything was accomplished in only three days without a single committee meeting or pre-determined times to work. With nine different churches involved, that was a miracle itself.

"All that was needed was an empty house and a band of volunteers willing to drop everything to give hope to other people, people they didn't even know," said Rohrs.
The resurrected home has been aptly named "Walt's House."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover--Community effort!

My sister Brenda recently posted a blog about Walt's House"," the home we grew up in as kids.

Our dad passsed away in June 2008 and we sold the farm (with the house) in May of this year. You can read Brenda's blog for a better understanding, but basically the farmers who bought the farm are allowing the house to be used for people who need a second chance in life. The first resident will be moving in on Wednesday, so it became necessary to get the house ready for him very quickly. Cecily, the wonderful lady in charge of this project, got many of the local churches involved; several of them "adopted" a room to renovate.

I was privileged to go help for a few hours today, and to see first hand christian love in action. The above picture is Cecily (sorry, it's a little dark). This is the dining room table that was donated.

Cecily thought she had a clothes dryer donated, but discovered it was gas, and they needed one that was electric. She got on the phone, and within 3o minutes, some of the men had gone and picked up a washer and dryer.

While I was there, I saw people working in various rooms from all different churches. The Catholic church was doing the bathroom; Archbold Evangelical were in the kitchen; Central Mennonite were doing the sunroom, dining room and entry way. West Clinton Mennonite were doing 2 rooms upstairs, and the Methodist church was doing the 3rd bedroom upstairs. The St. John United Church of Christ was going to be working in the downstairs bedroom tonight, putting in paneling on the walls.

It was just amazing to see all of these people working so well together. This has truly been a wonderful example of love in action and the "body of Christ" working together. These churches didn't know about this project until Saturday or Sunday, and it needs to be done by Wednesday!

They are washing windows and walls, and painting in almost every room except the kitchen. It had been painted more recently.

All of the rooms are being furnished with donations from various sources. I was just so amazed to watch how much was being accomplished in such a short period of time. Not only are they getting the work done in short order, but with such community involvement, they will be invested in the lives of the men who will live here. (There will be either 3 or 4 men living here soon).

As I was leaving, I took a picture of the "parking lot". You can't see them all, but I counted 13 cars at that time. There had been people coming and going all afternoon and evening.

Ephesians 4:2, 4-6 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I have truly seen this spirit of love and unity as this community has come together to provide a home and a second chance for these men.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life on the Farm--Bees, Beauty, and Deer

On November 5, 2005, I married a wonderful man, a farmer at heart (an engineer by trade) and moved from the city to the farm. I had lived on a farm while growing up, but had spent 19 years in Oklahoma City and then a few months in Ft. Wayne, prior to getting married. There are many things about the country that I enjoy. It's fairly quiet, and I can enjoy beautiful sunsets and sunrises. We have a large garden (which has been a blessing, but I'm currently ready to plough it under!)--but that's another story! In so many ways I've been blessed.

This afternoon, my hubby came in from outside and said, "Donna, get your camara and come and get a great blog picture! (As you can see, I have him trained to look for photo op's!) I went outside with him, and he walked me around to our pear tree. Up in the branches was a big bee's nest--I mean, to me it looked huge! So, yes indeed, I proceeded to get a picture. (I'm hoping you will be able to click on it and enlarge it if you want). I can't imagine why they chose this spot for their nest. Lynn called a "bee-keeper" friend of his who came right over. The bees are, as we speak, making their way into a new home in his hive. He will come probably in the evening tomorrow to retrieve his hive and take it to his place. But it was a rather exciting moment for us. Fortunately for me, it's not a regular occurence here, as bees still make me a little nervous, even though I've been somewhat educated about them by my bee-keeper sister and brother-in-law.
While I was out with my camara, I couldn't resist taking a few pics of my flowers. They have really bloomed well this year and have been a pretty addition to my back yard.

Even my hubby, Lynn, has commented on what a beautiful flower bed we have this year.

Also, the other night, right across from our house, in the wheat field, We saw 3 baby deer just frolicking there. Lynn drove very slowly and stopped, and so did the baby deer--they just stopped and looked to see what we were going to do. It was long enough for me to grab my camara and get a quick pic before they took off running.

I just thought I would share a little of my "county life", as it has played out this last week.

A couple of verses came to mind as I was posting this.
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Psalm 145:21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever. (I think that definitely includes bees).

Old-fashioned Fun, Food and Friends

Last night the "Potter's Clay" Flock (S.S. Class) had the opportunity to mingle with our Amish neighbors, and enjoyed a fun evening. We started out at the church and took the church bus to the "Essen haus" Restaurant in Antwerp, Ohio. (I know! we live in Indiana, but we are only about 8 miles from the Ohio line). They had a seafood buffet and of course, I ate too much!

We had been cordially invited to the home of one of our members, Burnell & Ruth Bender, after our dinner. They live across the road from an Amish family that they have become friends with, and the Amish neighbor had agreed to take us on a wagon ride. Now, you will have to use your imagination here, as once again I found myself without my camara! How does this happen? (Guess I need to get myself a camara phone, like my friend Rebecca, as I almost always have my phone with me.) But I digress!

This wagon is very similar to the one we rode in, but it had a frame built up and then had a covering just on the top; so we could still see out the sides. There were padded benches along each side. There were 22 of us so we also had a few chairs down the middle. It was a beautiful evening--clear with a little breeze, just the right temperature to be comfortable. We took quite a long ride around the countryside, waving at passers-by and folks outside at their homes. Our wagon was pulled by 3 horses, instead of just 2. It was a good thing, as I estimated we probably had about 3500-4000 pounds in the wagon! Actually the one horse, named Judy, got very tired and needed lots of encouragement at the end to make it back.

Back at the Benders, we had wonderful homemade ice cream with lots of choices of toppings, cookies and soft drinks or coffee. And of course, throughout the evening, lots of fellowship and laughter.

Ok, I'm telling the truth! My bowl wasn't quite this big! However, as a courtesy to our hostesses, I had to have a small second helping, as they didn't want anything left over. Did I mention , I'm supposed to be on a diet? Well, let's just say, I'm apparently taking a break from my diet routine. I hadn't had homemade ice cream in a very long time, and it tasted so good! Yum, Yum, (as they would say on Hee-Haw). Wow, I guess now I'm really showing my age!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life is Precious--A Gift from God

Sometimes the best laid plans of ours can go awry. Lynn and I were planning to go out for supper on Saturday night; then on Sunday we had been invited to visit friends at their home on Lake Wawasee. We were really looking forward to it, as we hadn't been there for a long time.

Speaking of looking forward, Lynn's sister-in-law, Jan, has a terminal lung disease and is on oxygen 24/7. She was approved for the lung transplant list a few months ago, and was first on the list in Indiana. So she and her family have been waiting for a phone call to go to Indianapolis for her lung transplant. She had asked me a few weeks ago about helping to take care of their severely handicapped child when she goes for her surgery. She said, "We have home health care, and our regular person has said she would watch Cassie around the clock if needed. But when we get the call, we will have to leave in 30"; could you fill in, if necessary, until a care giver gets here. It would probably only be a couple of hours at the most?" I assured her I would.

Saturday, at 2:00 pm, they got a call. They had lungs available, and she needed to get to Indy immediately. Since it was the weekend, there were no regular care givers scheduled. Also, the regular care giver, who had said she would work around the clock, is on vacation this week. Jan called and said her kids were with Cassie, but that they were going to leave when Benji got off work at 6 pm to go to Indy to be with her. Could I possibly take care of Cassie Saturday from 6 pm through Monday morning, if I was needed that long. (She said they were trying to get a care giver for Sunday day shift, but didn't have anyone yet). Of course, I told her I would be happy to do that.

However, I was very disappointed that I would most likely miss out on going to the lake. I called Lynn and told him what I was doing, and that he should go to the lake without me. (We were planning to go early Sunday, about 7 am).

After I got to Jan's home on Sat. evening, I got a call from the Home health agency; they would have an aide there to take care of Cassie on Sunday from 9 am till 7 pm. So, I called Lynn and we decided we could still go to the lake; I would just have to be back by 7 pm to take care of Cassie during the night on Sunday.

(this isn't really lake Wawasee but once again I forgot my camara)

As it turned out, we had a wonderful day at the lake. Our friends have a pontoon boat, and the 6 of us--3 couples, spent a lot of time on the water, and did some swimming. Even though it was 92 degrees, the water was cold at first! But it was really refreshing and relaxing. What a nice time with friends, as well as 'getting away' for a little while.

I got back home at 7:30 this morning after staying with Cassie all night. We also got great news from Indy! Jan's surgery went well and by early afternoon on Sunday she was off the ventilator, breathing on her own, awake and talking to them.

This will still be a long recovery period for Jan. But what a great gift, to be given a second chance at having healthy lungs and a good quality of life again!

They are still working out a care giver schedule, hoping to get 24-hour coverage; but I may be back there tonight as well. I found these quotes and Bible verses this morning and thought they were applicable to this whole situation.

"One of the wonders of life is just that--the wonder of life!

"Sympathy says 'I'm sorry'; compassion says, 'Ill help'.

"Learn the joy of giving, for when you only receive you miss much of life".

Our Lord is the giver of life.

John 10:10,11 I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His own life for the sheep.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Memories of Sara

Sara with her brother Tim

(The most recent pictures I have of Sara are from my wedding)

I wrote this tribute to Sara one year ago, and decided I couldn’t improve on it, but I wanted to post it in my blog today. She went to be with the Lord on August 2, 2006.

I have been thinking about my daughter, Sara, this week. Three years ago today the Lord took her home to be with Him. When someone close to you is gone, you tend to remember the good memories. I know Sara wasn’t perfect by any means, and she had some very hard times in her brief life. But what I remember are the wonderful qualities she had.

From the time she was small, Sara did not know a stranger. I used to worry about her, because she would make friends with everyone! When she was taken from us she had so many friends. This was very evident at the memorial service we had for her in Oklahoma City. There were so many young people in her age group in that service. We talked to some of her friends, and these are the comments they made:

“She was my best friend”, “We were like sisters”, “she was so nice and kind”, “I don’t have one bad memory of Sara”, “she knew how to make us laugh”, “she gave backrubs”, “Sara never held grudges”. Her brother said, “she was springy, she was peppy; she had no volume control! She believed in God.”

As her mother, I remember her sweet spirit. She was always much more concerned about other people and tried to encourage them. As young as kindergarten, she would be going around the room helping the other kids.

After my first husband, her dad, died, Sara was the one that would remember special days—his birthday, our anniversary, the anniversary of his death. I remember once on my birthday she came over to spend the evening with me; we watched a movie and had popcorn. I remember telling her, “you don’t have to hang out with me.” Her comment was “now that dad’s gone, someone has to take care of you.”

After Sara’s funeral, when we were cleaning out her apartment, I found a piece of paper way back in the corner of a closet. It was a letter she had started to write to my current husband, Lynn. She said, “I hope you are enjying being married to my wonderful mom. I am sure she is taking good care of you ‘cause she is great at that; and in return I hope you are giving her a hard time, because someone needs to, and that was always my department.”

I miss Sara’s laughter—she had a great smile and a great laugh. I miss her calling me and saying “Hey, mama, wha’s up?” She used to call at least once a week.

Sara gave her heart to the Lord at a young age. Although she strayed away from Him for a while, she had come back to her personal relationship with the Lord. When I would ask her about it she would always say, “Yes mom, I know I’m saved. I know I’ll be with dad when I die.”

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to have Sara as a part of my life for 28 years. She was a sweetheart and brought much joy into our lives.

We thought of you today, but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday, and the days before that too.
We think of you in silence, we often speak your name,
Now all we have are memories, and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is a keepsake with which we’ll never part;
God has you in His keeping, we have you in our heart.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Eveyone Loves A Parade!

I started out on a little adventure this morning, to go to a neighboring town, Harlan, and watch the Harlan Days parade with my friend Rebecca and her family and friends on her porch. Alas!! Though I can't believe it happened, I forgot to take my camara! So I decided I might have to get a little creative--not an easy task for me!
OK,OK! You are right--and very observant. It wasn't quite on the same scale as the Rose Bowl parade. (But you must admit, this is a beautiful float.)

Right again! It also wasn't Macy's--in fact, I don't think we saw even one flying balloon. (I don't even remember seeing a child with a balloon.)

It was, however, a small town parade--which was the name of this picture. It was apparently taken through the window of a vehicle or something. I thought it was an interesting picture--however, this wasn't Harlan!

We DID have several police cars and fire trucks (I think!). There were also lots of tractors, and different cars in the parade.

We also DID have people that were in the parade throwing out candy and goodies for the kids--and adults! Although I know no one in the above picture, I thought it looked like they were having fun reaching for candy.

For the real pictures of our fun morning in Harlan check out Rebecca's blog--I linked to it above. I really did have a good time. Rebecca's husband, Gary, had recently painted their lovely porch. Their home is right on main street so we had a great view of the parade.

We also had cookies and home-made zucchini bread to keep us fortified for all the activity. It wouldn't be a parade without snacks.

It was great to meet some of her grandchildren, who are adorable! Rachel, a little redhead with beautiful eyes (about 2 y/o?) is just precious. Then after the parade, Rebecca and I walked with Abby and Titus, 2 of her grandkids, to the park to look at the rides (grandpa will take them later) and we also walked through the merchant and craft tent, where the kids got free kazoo's. They thoroughly entertained us on our walk home by playing "Jesus Loves Me" and other renditions, pretty much non-stop, on their kazoos. Rebecca wanted to know if, since they were free, would they break easily? I guess we can only hope!

It was a beautiful day, with good company, an all-american parade, snacks and kazoos. Who could possibly ask for more? It was truly a fun morning.