Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elaine's Pumpkin Pie

The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever!

2 - 9inch pie crusts

3 1/2 C. pumpkin puree (29 oz)  - I used fresh pumpkin
1 1/2c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
4 eggs well beaten
3 TBS melted butter
2 TBS molasses
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice*
1 1/4 teas salt
1 1/2c rich milk or evaporated milk undiluted
1 TBS flour

Bake 450 degrees for 10 min.
Reduce to 325 degrees for 50 min.

*no pumpkin pie spice? Try this:

Spices for two pies

   4 teas ground cinnamon
   2 teas. ground ginger
   1 teas. ground cloves



I Shared this recipe at Our Growing Edge

Monday, November 21, 2016

Congealed Salad

Lime Congealed Salad

1 large package lime jello
1 - 20 can crushed pineapple
1 - 8oz bar cream cheese - softened
3 TBS mayonnaise
1/2 to1 c. chopped pecans
1 large Cool Whip

  1. Mix jello with 2 cups boiling water.
  2. Add cream cheese to jello.
  3. Drain pineapple, saving the both.
  4. Add water to juice to equal 2 cups
  5. Add liquids to jello. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add mayo, pineapples, and chopped nuts
  7. Add Cool Whip. Mix well.
  8. Chill until set.

Note: I find that the pineapples and nuts tend to settle to the bottom. My suggestion is to stir salad after set and place in serving dish when ready to serve.

Candy Apple Jello

Need something red on the table? Try Mom's apple jello.

Mom's  (Elaine's) Jello 
1 large package of Dark Cherry Jello
2 C. boiling water
1/2 c. red heart cinnamon candies
2 c. applesauce  (cinnamon flavored is good)

Melt the cinnamon hearts in the boiling water.
Add jello mix and stir until blended.
Add applesauce.
Pour into mold and refrigerate.

Mandy's Variation

2 C. boiling water
4 Apple Cinnamon tea bags
1 large package of Dark Cherry Jello
2 c. applesauce  (cinnamon flavored is good)

Steep tea bags in boiling water for 7 minutes.
Add jello mix and stir until blended.
Add applesauce.
Pour into mold and refrigerate.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Miguel Comes to the Farm

After I posted Pedro's story, his brother, Miguel offered to share a little of his experience also. What a blessing to hear these stories again!



Summer of '72

Miguel at about 14

In 1972 as I finished the 6th grade I was excited for summer to begin. Little did I know that THIS summer would change my entire life.

My older brother, Pedro, had been working on this farm in Louisville, Ohio for about a year. My mom and dad decided that I, too, should go and work on this farm. {See Pedro's story here}

When I found out I was very upset and angry that I had to work all summer. I was almost 13 years old and I didn’t realize that “A farmer's work is never done.” 

Once I accepted the fact that I had to go I thought, 
Surely I can work a few hours a day and get by.” 

Miguel around 17
But oh no! The work on the farm was seven days a week from 4am ‘till the cows came home. I mean until milking time, which was about 5:00-5:30pm, if I remember correctly. The work on the farm was hard,  but bailing hay had to be the hardest work for a 13-year-old. 

But on Sunday we could only milk the cows in the morning and the evening; no other work was done. The owner and his family were Christian, and at the time I didn’t know what a Christian was. I was brought up being Catholic and that’s all that I knew.  On Sundays, we would always go to church (a Methodist church).

My day on the farm would begin at 4am. I would get up to bring the cows in for milking. I remember that it would be cold or cool that early in the morning, so when a cow would get up from the ground I would lay down where it had been laying and man, was it nice and warm. The cows would basically walk in by themselves, they all knew the routine. All I did was walk behind them and close the gate. 

By the time all the cows were in, Mr. Dawson would be up and ready to start milking. While the cows were being milked, I would bed down and feed the other calves and the bull that were in the other barn. By the time I was done, the milking would also be done so I would help my brother, Pedro, clean and hose down the milk house. By the time we were done, it would be breakfast time and, man, breakfast was always good.

At breakfast, we would get our daily instructions. There was always something that needed to be done. With all the work and not much else to do, my only escape was to daydream.


 One day I can’t really remember, but in my mind, I remember Mr. Dawson asking me if I wanted to go to a Christian camp. To me, going to a Christian camp was the farthest thing on my mind. I’m not sure if Mr. Dawson told me or if I thought of this on my own.  .....
Senior picture

 “There will be girls there.”  

Hmmm. Now that’s a different story!

Anyway, I decided to go to this camp.
  Sebring  Camp was like nothing I had ever experienced before. 
There was no bickering or fighting. 
I kind of liked it. 

Plus, anywhere was better than working on the farm. 

We had a lot of classes to attend and free time also. But around 6pm or 7pm every evening we always had a big church meeting. I started to look forward to these meetings. 

Main tabernacle at Sebring

At one of these meetings, the preacher, it seemed, was talking directly to me. At the end of the service, he asked If anyone wanted to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I had never heard the salvation message before. I know that the Methodist church teaches and preaches salvation, I had just never heard it before. I guess it wasn’t my time yet.

Well, needless to say, I remember having a battle in my mind. 

One voice I heard, or sensed, said
 “Miguel, go up there. That’s what you need.” 

The other voice in my head would say,
  “Don’t go up there, all your friends will laugh at you if you become a Christian. Plus, you won’t be able to do any fun things anymore.” 

I didn’t know it then, but I do now. My spirit and my flesh were having this battle. I remember we were all standing up and I was grabbing the back of the chair in front of me. I told myself that I would not go up there to the front of the church in front of everyone. 

The pastor asked one more time, 
“Does anyone want to accept Jesus into their hearts and have all your sins forgiven and have eternal life with Him?”

 I grabbed the back of the chair, but before I knew what was happening I found myself walking down to the front. I became a Christian that day.

Response to an invitation at Sebring

Life Since Then

Life for me has been a rollercoaster ride simply because of some bad decisions that I’ve made in my life. But I know, without a doubt, had I not said ‘yes’ to God on that late July day in 1972, that I would not be alive today. 

Miguel today
It’s now been about 6 years that I have come back to God and have been going to church and I thank him every day!
There is more that I could share, but maybe at another time.

Thank you, Mandy!
-Miguel De Los Santos.

I would like to add one more thing, and that is that because  of the Dawson family my whole family (brothers and sisters) have come to know the Lord. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Gene Dawson.


And thank you, Miguel for sharing your story!


Don't forget that anyone who posts below will be entered in a drawing for a CD of teh Dawson girls singing! Drawing November 1.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Big, Bad Pedro at Sebring Camp

{excerpt #2 from the memoirs of Pedro De Los Santos}

Two weeks after the 4th of July, Mr. Dawson asked me if I was interested in attending Sebring Camp. I did not know what it was, so I asked him to Explain. 

He said that every year, Doug and Kandy went to the town of Sebring, Ohio where they had a holiness camp. It was aimed at young teenagers but there were also plenty of adults. They had a youth program that involved lots of fun activities but there was also Bible study and worship. I had never been to a summer camp before, so I told Mr. Dawson that I would really like to go. He said he had already arranged for me to attend with Doug and Kandy. 

Sebring Camp was a wonderful experience. I made a lot of friends and enjoyed all the activities they had prepared for us. I really enjoyed the biblical teachings and the worship sessions too, especially during the evening services. 

It was during one of these evening services that I made a decision to give God control of my life by accepting the salvation that Jesus had offered to us all by dying on the cross. I felt great joy and happiness knowing that my sins no longer counted against me and that God had forgiven me and welcomed me with open arms. It was the happiest moment in my life that I can recall and it made the rest of the Sebring Camp experience that much more wonderful. 


I became friends with a guy named Ed Green at Sebring Camp. He loved to play the guitar and was always playing it and singing songs. He wrote a song about my misadventure at the swimming pool where I almost drowned. 

He called it “Big Bad Pedro” and sang it to the tune of “Big Bad John”. He went to other summer camps around the state and he would play that song during talent nights. That song made me famous, at least in summer camps around Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

About four years later I went to a summer camp in Columbus, Ohio where 
somebody asked me my name and I told him it was Pedro.

Upon hearing that he asked,
 “Are you the same Pedro that almost drowned
 at Sebring camp a few years ago?” 

I said “yes, how did you know about that?” 

To which he replied 
“Oh, everybody around here has heard the song and knows your name.” 

The rest of the summer was uneventful. 

Sebring Camp lasted only two weeks and I went back to work on the farm until it was time to return to Waynesburg so I could go back to school at Sandy Valley.

Thank You Pedro for sharing this part of your life with us. I have good memories from those times!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pedro Comes to the Farm

THE SUMMER OF 1971 {est.}

After my last post, "Grafted Into the Family", I received so many comments. (YOu need to go read them) Pedro De Los Santos offered me an excerpt from his memoirs. The next two posts are from him ...

{an excerpt from the Memoirs of Pedro De Los Santos}

As soon as school was out, I packed my bags and went to Louisville, Ohio to live and work with the Dawson family at Elgendale Farms. I forget who took me there but I remember mom and dad went along to see what kind of conditions and what kind of people I was going to live with for the rest of the summer.

 Mr. Vergara, my Spanish teacher, went along also to introduce everybody. Mr. Gene Dawson and his family struck me as very friendly and eager to take me in. Mom and dad were pleased to see that the farm was clean and orderly and that the Dawsons were good people. 

The only thing I know my dad was not happy with was that the Dawsons were Protestants and they insisted I should accompany them to church every Sunday. We considered ourselves a Catholic family and dad was not too happy about allowing them to brainwash me into changing my religion. Mom was a little more understanding and practical. She said “As long as he is worshiping God and staying out of trouble, it doesn’t matter what church he does it in.” 

Dad reluctantly agreed but I could tell he was not too happy about it. My dad practiced his religion a lot more than anybody else in the family. Right or wrong he had his little altar in the basement and prayed every day for God’s blessings on his family. He taught all of us about the importance of having faith and relying on God for everything. Unfortunately, he never read the Bible and was unaware of the many discrepancies between the teachings of the Catholic Church and what the Bible actually says.


I quickly realized that religion played a big role in the Dawson household. They prayed before every meal, something I was not really accustomed to, and they prayed every time there was some major or important decision to be made. They were sincere and humble people and not at all like the religious fanatics I had been taught to believe all Protestants were. 

They were not forceful about their religion but they were also not ashamed of it. They gladly explained anything I was confused about but never tried to shove their religion down my throat.

More than anything, they lived the Christian life rather than just talk about it. Slowly but surely I began to realize that what they had was real and that it was something that I wanted in my life. But I did not jump right into it; instead I decided to wait to see what would happen.


The Dawson family consisted of Mr. Gene Dawson and his wife Elaine, plus
five children; Doug, Kandy, Mandy, Alex and Marcie. Two years later, the last year I spent with them before I left for college, they had another baby
whom they named LeAdam.

Doug was a year or two younger than me but about 30 pounds heavier. It was all muscle, the result of growing up on the farm. I weighed about 143 pounds but by the end of the summer, I was about 150 pounds and not an ounce of fat on me.


Life and work on the farm was hard. My daily routine began by getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to chase the 80-plus cows into the barn for milking. The cow pastures were anywhere from one-quarter of a mile to one-half a mile away from the house. I had to walk in the dark and avoid all the electric wire fences that surrounded the pasture fields.

This was no easy task, because we changed their location regularly to
give the cows fresh pastures to graze in. The cows had developed the
uncanny ability to know exactly where these wire fences were located,
even in the dark. I knew that we were getting close to an electric fence
because the cows would shy away from that area and avoid it at all costs.

I learned to follow the cows to the barn to avoid getting electrocuted. Later on I learned that the same cow was always the last one to go in. Mr. Dawson had named all the cows and could recognize them at first sight. 

After a while, I began to recognize the cows not only by their spots, but also by their behavior. Each one of them had a distinct personality and always behaved a certain way. I learned that the last cow to walk to the barn for milking would always be “Rita”. She would wait for all the cows to walk by and then she would get at the end of the line. This helped me out because I knew that if Rita was on her way in, all the cows had been accounted for and I did not have to go looking for them. Another advantage to having Rita go in last was that she was the only cow that allowed me to touch her and even ride her into the barn.

All the other cows would shy away and not let me touch them if they could help it. So once all the cows had begun walking toward the barn, all I had to do was to jump on Rita and she would take me all the way into the barn. I did not ride Rita cowboy style. Instead, I would lie on my stomach across her back like a sack of potatoes.

After the cows came into the barn, I had to turn on the auger That extracted the cow feed from the silo and into a long trough so the cows could have their breakfast. 

Then I had to go into another barn and feed the young calves, clean out their stalls, and place fresh straw down in their stalls. I also had to feed the cows fresh hay. By then, Mr. Dawson was already up and getting ready to milk all the cows. He had four milking machines and eight spaces for cows to stand while they were getting milked, four on each side of the milking pit. I had to help him bring in the cows and plug in the next milking machine on the cows, after washing their utters, of course. It took us close to 3 hours to get all the cows milked. By 8 o’clock in the morning I had already done a half-a-day’s worth of work (4 hours) and I hadn’t even had breakfast yet.

Mrs. Dawson would prepare breakfast and call us all in between 8 and 8:30. By that time everybody was already up and doing their respective chores. During breakfast, Mr. Dawson would lay out the plans for the entire day. 

Depending on how early or late it was in the summer, we would either have to plow, plant, rake, or harvest the fields which consisted of corn, hay, alfalfa, wheat, or anything else Mr. Dawson had planted that spring. We also had to mend fences, build new fences, clear out fields by picking up all the stones that were dug up by the plows, mow and bail hay, and any other farm chore that Mr. Dawson could think of. There was always something to do and rarely did we sit around saying,

 “Well, there’s nothing else to do .... 
so we might as well go back to the house to watch TV.” 


The Dawson’s owned a TV set but I really don’t remember ever sitting down to watch a TV show in that house, especially when Mary the Amish girl came around to help clean up the house.

Mary was another hired hand who came around regularly to clean the house, wash and iron clothes, and do other household chores that needed to be done when Mrs. Dawson was busy with other farm chores.

Mary, like most Amish in the area, did not watch TV and considered it a
sin. However, she would ride in modern automobiles, unlike most other
Amish in the area. 

Like I said before, there was always something that needed to be done and not enough hours in the day to do them. Sometimes we still had chores to do after dinner and we would not get done and ready for bed until past 9:00 pm. Lights out was at 10:00 pm every night and we were all glad to see it come. We would all gladly go to bed at 10:00 pm to get the much needed rest. That only gave me 6 hours of sleep, so most of the time I would try to go to sleep earlier if I had finished my chores. Four o’clock came very early in the morning.

Saturday was just like any other day and we worked our regular 11-12 hours. The cows had to be milked every day so even on Sundays I had 
to get up at 4 in the morning and do all my morning chores before breakfast. 

After breakfast we went to church and had the rest of the day off until it was time to do the second milking. The cows were milked twice each day so we didn’t really get much of a break. 

Pedro's 16th Birthday
with Dan B., and Doug D.
We did get a little break on Tuesdays because that’s when we had 4-H club meetings and square dancing. Mandy, Kandy, Doug, and I had joined the 4-H club. We had a regular meeting every Tuesday night around 5 pm and it 
was always followed by square dancing. I liked it because it was the only chance we had to meet girls outside of church and have some fun.

In spite of all the work, I consider those summers spent on the farm as 
the healthiest and best summers of my teenage years. I had no time or energy to get in any trouble and everything I did there helped me get strong and healthy not only physically, but spiritually as well.

Watch for our next post ...Big, Bad, Pedro

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Grafted into the Family

And you ... who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. Romans 11:17

On the Dawson farm, there was an open door policy. We welcomed everyone, regardless of race or creed. We welcomed school children from the city to come see the animals. We welcomed missionaries coming through on furlough. We welcomed troubled teens and exchange students.

The first time I recall city kids coming out to the farm was Yvonne and Yvette. They were about 10 or 11 at the time. Mom and Dad had heard about a program where city kids from Cleveland could come stay on a farm for a week or ten days. So they decided to participate.

Dad received a call to see if we would be willing to take two girls that wanted to stay together. My parents agreed. It turned out to be two African-American girls - twin sisters!  We didn't stay in contact with these girls but we certainly enjoyed having them on the farm and we learned a lot about their culture ... ethnically and just being city girls. :) This was probably one of the first times that I personally met an African-American.

When I was in high school dad decided to participate in an exchange program through Ohio State University that allowed students learning agriculture to come stay and work at the farm for a year.

The first year, we had Michael from Poland. We had a neighbor that was Polish that loved telling Polack jokes. He thought it was hilarious. We shared with Michael about the Americans and their slurs about the Polish.

We told him there were many jokes about Polacks. We began sharing the jokes and learned that he knew the very same jokes only they were Russian soldiers! It's a small world after all!

Michael brought us gifts too. For my birthday, he gave me an ethnic doll from Poland. Which became the first of many ethnic dolls I collected over the years.

The next year, we had two exchange students...

Franz Pfau
Franz Pfau checking out our new Gehl wagon.

Sue from England and Franz from W. Germany. They became a part of the family while they were here and mom and dad still keep in touch with them. And again, we learned so much about Europe while they were with us.

There were also the missionaries that stayed in our home while on furlough. The Hess family served in Haiti. They stayed with us each time they came through and mom and dad kept close contact with them. Spending time with them taught us that being a missionary didn't have to mean the jungles of Africa!

Years later in college, I took a mission trip to Haiti. I went with a different mission group, but I had the chance to drop in on the Hesses.

I walked into their office and introduced myself. I thought I would need to explain who I was, but as soon as I said my name, they said ... "I know who you are!" How exciting after all those years to be remembered.

Over the years, Mom and Dad took in foster children. They opened their hearts and loved these children as their own. We may never really know how their lives were affected by having a good home to live in, even if, for a short time.
Mom& Dad with foster son, Mike
Mom & Dad with foster son, Collin

Now there were many, many more friends that came to the farm. We brought many friends to the farm, from school, from church, from college. At the time, we couldn't really understand why they loved it so much, but now, I think most of us kids wish we could raise our kids on a farm. We realize the benefits and the work ethic that it taught us.

All of this taught us to reach out to others and be open to all ethnic groups because we are all the same. Even today, when you look at our family, we will find that most of us have grafted children into our families from different cultures .... American Indians to boys from South Africa.

I share all this to introduce you to the Mexican boys that were grafted in to the Dawson family.

A friend of Dad's from Asbury College contacted him about taking in a teen for the summer. He really felt that if the boy could get away from the city that it would make a big difference in his life. Maybe it would keep him out of trouble.

We happily brought Pedro into our home and he fast became like a brother to me. In fact, I still call him brother and his children are counted among my nieces and nephews. Pedro not only worked on the farm with us, but also attended church and Sebring Camp with us. In the end, my parents helped him enroll at Asbury College which is where Dad attended. (and 5 of the 6 of us kids... After all, there is no where else to attend college, right?)

Family picture with Pedro right in the center front!

No sooner did Pedro go off to college, then his brother, Miguel started  coming for the summers. We actually got to know most of their family. And had a large Christian influence on several of them.

I'm going to let them tell their stories over the next few weeks. So watch for more to see their side of the story of being grafted into the family.

I'm so glad that mom and dad had an open arms policy. I learned from many of the people that came to the farm and I think many of them learned from us! We learned to "accept men from every nation". (Acts 10)

All these people have been grafted into our family to one extent or another. Many of them were introduced to Christ around our dinner table and it made all the difference in the world because now they are grafted in to the family of God!

We're all one big family!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mandy's Better Than Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Stay away from my cookie dough"
When I was in high school, there were two things I loved to do. Bake cookies and babysit. Sometimes, you could find me doing both at the same time.

One time I was babysitting the neighbor boy and making my infamous Chocolate Chip cookies. Here's what he had to say about them ...

"These are better than homemade!"

Then he proceeded to tell me that sometimes stores sell "homemade" cookies, but they really aren't homemade. :)

So ... here it is ...

Better Than Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat Oven to 375

Cream Together
1 c. butter  (Dairy farmers use REAL butter)
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar

Add to creamed mixture
1 teas. vanilla (I use REAL vanilla)
2 large eggs (I use brown cage free eggs)

Sift dry ingredients
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c. quick oats
1 teas. baking soda
1 TBS ground flax (optional-I throw this in everything I can get away with. )

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients

Fold in
12 oz. Nestle's Semisweet Chocolate Chips*
 6 oz. Butterscotch Chips 
    (optional, but you really don't want to.)

(you can substitute M&M minis)

Drop onto a baking sheet with a soup spoon. 
    *I make a rather large cookie. If you drop smaller amounts watch your baking time.

Bake for 13 minutes.

Short on time?
Spread the dough onto a large baking sheet. I think I bake this for about the same time.... maybe 20 minutes. Just bake until the top is browned. There's some trial and error here.

I'm Linking up with Our Growing Edge this month. Go check out some great family recipes.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Camping Might Just Save Your Soul

This post is inspired by a prompt from Reflections of a Mother's Heart

The prompt was "Did you ever go camping with your family? Where? Record one exceptional camping experience."  

Our family never went camping. Having a farm to run kept us pretty close to home. On top of which, if we were going to take a vacation, why would we want to go out in nature and have all that work to do. That would be no vacation.

But there was one thing we did every summer. Family Camp Meeting! This was the time we looked forward to each and every summer. 

Sebring Holiness Camp was just down the road from us. Close enough that we could all go during the day and the guys came home to milk the cows in the mornings and evenings. 

*Photo credit ... wish I had my own but these pictures all came from  Sebring Camp Ground Facebook

Sebring Bookstore
The last few years we attended, my
 mother also ran the little bookstore at the camp. It was a small building the size of a garage, in fact, I think it was a garage or shed in the winter. But we loaded it up with shelves for books. Folks came by to browse and purchase books and music during the off times.

Oh, the memories and friendships that were built on that campground. Ten
Cottages with front porches line the
sides of the tabernacle
days of meeting with the Lord

 in an open-air tabernacle. Little cabins with porches built all around the tabernacle. If you owned one, you could enjoy the services right there on the porch.

Normally, we borrowed an RV from some friends and stayed in it. The campground had a large area with hook-ups for this. There were also dormitories. I got to stay in the dormitories one year when I finally became a teenager and was able to participate in the teen program.

The teens had their own tabernacle where they worshiped in the morning and met in the afternoon for fun such as skits, or maybe just to head to the pool.

 In 1975, the cost for ten days of camp was a mere $10-$15. Of course, we were obliged to also serve meals and wash dishes. Not really the drudgery you might think, though. We loved helping the elderly with their trays and singing was often heard wafting through the campgrounds from the cafeteria. 

In the evening service, everyone joined together in the main tabernacle for amazing worship time. We had a wonderful pianist. She had such a talent. She could hear a song and begin playing it as if she knew the song all her life. What melodious tunes would come from that piano! We all remember that music like it was yesterday. She played by ear. The year I was there as a teenager, she would come to our meetings and play. I recall a couple girls introducing a new song. By the time they had finished singing it through, she was playing it like she has known it all her life.

I imagine she was an inspiration to me for playing the piano. I never became brave enough to try to play by ear, but I practiced enough to read almost any music you put in front of me. I remember telling Mom that hearing her play made me want to give up playing.

Most of my memories were in the children's tabernacle where we learned Bible stories and sang songs on our own level. In the afternoon, we returned for arts and crafts. One year we made a painting on glass. We painted the back blues, whites, and greens. This created the background for our picture. Then on the front, the picture we painted the pictures. I was sort of a 3-D effect.

These things were wonderful but the greatest event for me happened right in the tabernacle. There were 2 evangelists that year taking turns preaching. I don't remember the names, but one preacher I loved to listen to, the other, not so much. The less desired preacher had a way of speaking that tickled my friend and I. We called him Popcorn because of the rhythm of his speech.

But on the final night of camp meeting, he got my attention. He preached the infamous "Hellfire and Brimstone" sermon. My grandfather had recently passed away, so the reality of death was near to my heart. That night, I left my seat and walked the aisle. I knelt at an altar and ask Jesus to forgive me and He came into my life. Jesus remains on the throne of my heart to this day.

And that is why I still long to attend camp meeting. Many of these places have gone by the wayside. Many have shortened their meetings to a week or less. But my understanding is Sebring is still a ten-day event.

Do these pictures bring back any memories?

Do you have any memories from Holiness camp meeting?
[Sebring, Camp Sychar, Indian Springs, Camp Adrian, or others]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Burnt Offerings for Bible School

It's Bible School time around here. Everyone is gearing up to have a week of fun and Bible learning for their children. Yes, lots of fun and learning, but I think it doesn't shine a candle to when I was a child.

THE last time Mom came to visit, she brought me a bag full of pictures. I found a couple VBS pictures in the pile so let's do a little reminiscing ....  about the wonderful days of VBS when I was small.

I came across this photo from 1968 which had all my closest friends in it.
That's me on the far left. Renee on the far right.
Shari and Joyce on the back row right.

Each of us were always invited to the other's Bible Schools. This particular year, all of us attended (at least on picture day) the Beech Mennonite VBS. Renee, Shari and I were friends from birth and and we attended the same elementary school. You would find us at many of the same functions through the year. Joyce and I become close friends in 5th grade when we were assigned to a different elementary school.

There I am...front row, 2nd from the right.

 This picture is another year at the Mennonite Church where my friend, Renee attended.  The biggest thing I remember about the Mennonite Bible School was playing Red Rover on the lawn and we sang songs with signs that looked like road signs. The had a message like this....

and let me tell you
of the Christ of Calvary
He forgave my sins and he saved my soul
cleansed my heart and he made me whole

Then there was a song on 'newspaper'

Christ died for me
if I believe
I'm saved eternally
That's wonderful  "EXTRA"

These songs were so special to me that as an adult leading children's ministries, I looked for them and found that they were created by Child Evangelism Fellowship. Kids still love them today! And you can still purchase them. Child Evangelism

My mother was the VBS director at our church, so we were smack dab in the middle of everything there. I remember loading up our station wagon with a abundance of kids. You didn't need a seat belt or car seat back then so we packed in like sardines in a can. Not sure what's so fun about packing into a station wagon, but I have fond memories of it now. Maybe just because you can't do it anymore.

When we arrived at Bethany UMC, there were kids everywhere. We had a great time making beautiful crafts, playing in the church yard, sneaking into the belfry to ring the bell (I'll bet the neighbors enjoyed that), singing lots of songs, raising money for missionaries. It all ended on Sunday night with a program for the parents.

It was a tiring week for my mother, I'm sure. One year, we quickly gathered up all the supplies after the program,placed them in garbage bags, and headed on home. This included the several hundred dollars raised for missionaries. 

 So, the next morning when Mary,  arrived to help with the housework, she picked up the garbage and took it to the burn pile and started the fire....

I'm not sure how long it took to discover what happened, but we did realize that the offering had become a burnt offering! Well, at least we were able to collect the coins from the ashes!

We had some great summers back in the day. What about you? What do you remember about Bible School as a child?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hall of Faith Nomination

I'm always at a loss for words when I want to say something about my
husband. He is such a man of God that I just can't put it into words. He has been the best of husbands to me, I cannot imagine that I could be treated better than he treats me.

 From the beginning he has always put me first in everything he does. Everything is done with me and the children in consideration. No matter if it was choosing a meal to eat or even a place to live, our desires were always considered first. Once when he was sending out resumes, he decided to send one to my home state, even though I never expressed a desire to move closer home. We ended up near my parents for 6 years which was such a blessing. Our children had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my parents and thus build a relationship which has lasted through the years even though we are no longer nearby.

 He jokes that he married a young wife so that she could take care of him in his old age. But it turned out that he has had to give up a lot to be my caregiver for the past 5 years. He says it is just part of the wedding vows. But vows or no vows, he loves me that much. So much that he would take the time to care for me even at the expense of his some of his work. To me, that is an amazing love that I cannot describe.

Today is his birthday. I would like to nominate my Michael as the next inductee into the Halls of Faith. He loves His God and trusts him, leaving a great legacy for me and our children and grandchildren.

He is like Abel .... He always give of his best for the Savior .. at any expense.

He is like Enoch ... His preaching always pleased God. He spoke what was right and true.

He is like Noah ... he does what is right before God. After his first wife died, he continued strong in his faith because he knew that many were watching. Many were expecting him to give up the faith, but he did not. He took only 3 Sundays off from preaching the word because he wanted to prove that what he had preached in the past was true. That God would sustain you through the worst of times.

He is like Abraham ... He has obeyed God and gone wherever God asked him to go. He left Georgia as a young Christian to preach in Mississippi, against the "good judgment" of others who thought he was making a mistake. He had no support, he just took his wife and went where God had called. Another time, he went to Wisconsin. Very different from south Georgia, but God blessed his ministry there.

He was also like Abraham, having faith to have two more children after we married. He knew that he would be close to retirement getting them raised. But he had faith that God would provide.

He is like Joseph ... He spoke the Words that God gave him, no matter the consequences. And God blessed him wherever he was.

He is like Moses ... He became a great leader to many believers and churches for forty years. He continues to have faith the God will provide his needs.

He is like many of the prophets ... many prophets, such as Gideon, were not revered as the greatest, the youngest in the family, least important. Michael doesn't see himself as talented or a great speaker, but he trusts God and allows Him to work through him, and God has made him an amazing speaker, leader, and compassionate pastor.

He is like David ... Though he lost part of his family, he did not turned away from God. He kept the faith and led his people in righteousness.

I could say much more, but there is not time.

32 What more should I say? There is not enough time to tell of Gideon and of Barak and of Samson and of Jephthah and of David and of Samuel and of the early preachers. 33 It was because these people had faith that they won wars over other countries. They were good leaders. They received what God promised to them. They closed the mouths of lions 34 and stopped fire that was burning. They got away from being killed with swords. They were made strong again after they had been weak and sick. They were strong in war. They made fighting men from other countries run home. 35 It was because some women had faith that they received their dead back to life. Others chose to be beaten instead of being set free, because they would not turn against God. In this way, they would be raised to a better life. 36 Others were talked against. Some were beaten. Some were put in chains and in prison. 37 They were killed by stones being thrown at them. People were cut in pieces. They were tested. They were killed with swords. They wore skins of sheep and goats and had nothing they could call their own. They were hungry and sick. Everyone was bad to them. 38 They walked around in deserts and in mountains. They looked for caves and holes in the earth to live in. They were too good for this world.39 It was because of their faith that God was pleased with them. Hebrews 11
These are just a few of the reasons, why Michael Farmer should be in Hebrews 11, Hall of Faith.

His reward in heaven will be great because he will bring with him many other believers. Most importantly, he is building a legacy that will last for generations. I can't thank him enough for that.

He is the love of my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?


Great big bear hugs.

Dad is in there
That's the first thing I think of when I think of my daddy.

He says that I taught him to be a hugger. I don't know about that but I do know that I could always count on a good hug from my daddy each morning.

I was daddy's assistant during milking time. So every morning when I arrived at the milking barn, daddy was already there getting set to milk about 100 cows. Well, sometimes I was late and he would already be milking. [sorry about that, dad. It's just that 4:30 comes awfully early in the morning for a teenager.]

Anyway, it didn't really matter if I was on time or a little late, daddy was always there waiting for his hug.

Back in those days, there was a public announcement that came out on the radio waves ... "Have you hugged your kid today?"  That was daddy's motto. Each morning when I arrived at the barn, I heard those words and those big strong arms were wrapped around me and the squeeze that came with them was Goliath.

Those milking times brought us together. We spent those hours talking about whatever might be on my mind. It could be about normal everyday things like caring for the cows and calves, or maybe about a boy I liked. Maybe we talked about family and stories of his youth. And sometimes it would have been something deeper and more spiritual.

Dad holding "all" his kids
LeAdam had not yet arrived.
Back at the farmhouse, I loved to be next to my daddy. We, kids, used to fuss about sitting next to dad at the table ... until it was decided that the oldest one living at home got the prize seat.

I loved to sit next to him on the couch when we were relaxing. Sometimes I would get right up on his lap and snuggle up to him. It just felt so safe next to my father who loved me dearly ... and I loved him.

I miss those days and those hugs. For one, we now live 1,306.9 miles apart. Daddy's loving arms are long, but not that long. :)   Secondly, when we are together, he has to hug me gently, because I deal with chronic pain.

I guess we can no longer "all" sit on his lap
But regardless, I have always felt my father's love. And I still do.

He has been such a beautiful example of a father's love. It has transferred to my heart to my Heavenly Father's love. I have never doubted the love of my Lord because I know what a truly loving father is like. Just as the scriptures say,

"An earthly father expresses love for his children; it is no different with our heavenly father; The Eternal shows His love for those who revere Him." Psalm 103:13

Even now when times get rough, it's a wonderful thing to be able to imagine climbing up on Daddy's lap (earthly or heavenly) and feeling His presence and comfort.

Thanks, Daddy!

Hugs and Kisses!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I am NOT sorry

I don't remember what my sister did that caused me to retaliate and thus get caught...

But I do remember what happened when I refused to apologize to her. It was one of the few punishments I ever received. (I was a fast learner.)

I remember thinking 

that I did not want to lie
 and say that I was sorry 
because at that point 

.... I wasn't.

 I was angry. 

My sister had done something to me. It wasn't fair. And I was not going to stand there and apologize because she deserved it. I was not guilty.

Isn't this how it is too often? 

We feel that our rights have been violated

Our feelings are hurt.

And we want to fight back.

But God says ...

we should turn the other cheek. 

God says 

make every effort to be at peace with everyone. 

That was our parents view of things as well. We were always required to make things right. I can't count the number of times we would say something mean about a sibling. And immediately, we heard Mom say, 

"Now say ten nice things."

Do you know how hard it is to come up with 10 nice things to say about someone with whom you are upset ?" It's tough, but we were not let off the hook.

Ten Nice Things. Woa.

And so there is this war within.

But the truth is

... if we resist evil,it gets easier to do the right thing. 

And doing the right thing causes the tension to ease 

and the next thing you know ...

You are friends again!

I think my parents had the right idea. Because my sister and I are the best of friends. We would be hard pressed think of a time when we didn't get along. And it isn't because we didn't have those times.

You see ... the key is that "Love covers a multitude of sins."

It's a good lesson to take into adulthood.

Reminiscing of being Raised in a Barn,

How to Spend Memorial Day

This post is inspired by a prompt from Reflections of a Mother's Heart

The prompt was "Did you attend family reunions? Share memories from one."

The Hukill Family Reunion

Every year, we traveled down to SE Ohio on Memorial Day to meet up with my dad's family. This was his mother's side of the family. They had been keeping this tradition for years, really generations. It still happens today, though the crowd has dwindled and they meet at a church instead of the farm.

We would load up in our "Rambler" and take the long drive. If you've ever been in SE Ohio, then you know that it's a pretty hilly country. I don't think there was a year when one or more of us didn't get a little nauseous on the ride. [More rambler memories, click here]

But we finally arrived close enough to drive through the small towns. Usually, we would get  caught in a parade. After all, it was a holiday. We never saw any of the parades, just had to stop and wait for them to open the road again.

It was all  worth the ride when we arrived at Aunt Julia's farm. First, we went into the house to be squeezed and hugged by all our aunts, uncles, and my great grandmother, Birdie Moody. Such a precious lady with long gray hair wrapped up in a bun on her head. She called everyone of us girls "Susie". Not sure why, but maybe cause the youngest of us cousins was named Susie and that's the one she remembered. Or maybe it was just her name for beloved grandchildren... who knows.

The next place we headed, was out back. Now I'm pretty sure that the house had indoor plumbing by this time, but we were fascinated by the outhouse in the back yard. Thinking back, I'm not sure why that would be a fascination. ha!

That little girl is me with my mom
at Aunt Julia's place
Oh, the fun we had with cousins, first second and third. It was a great time of fellowship and getting to know each other again. I miss those days. [My kids barely know their first cousins by name.] We're missing out on something good, I do believe.

Then there was the food. Oh my goodness, the food. Back in those days people knew how to cook and we all eat way more than we needed. I'll never forget Aunt Mildred's "dumplings". Different from the dumplings eaten here in the south, they were especially good when doused over mashed potatoes. I'll trying till my dying days to find someone who knows how to make them.

Later in the day, someone would bring out a big 5 gallon tub of ice cream. All of the kids, young and old, would come running for their ice cream cone. There's nothing better than good, ole ice cream to finish off the day.

And this is just a taste, of how Memorial Day should be spent.

What kind of Memorial Day memories do you have?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Portrait of my Mother

an adaptation of the Proverbs 31 Woman (The Voice)

Who can find a truly excellent woman mother? 

One who is superior in all that she is and all that she does?

    Her worth far exceeds that of rubies and expensive jewelry.

She inspires trust, and her husband’s heart is safe with her,

    and because of her, he has every good thing.

Every day of her life she does what is best for him,

    never anything harmful or hurtful.

Delight attends her work and guides her fingers

    as she selects the finest fabrics and patterns for sewing.

She moves through the mall and discount stores 

like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, 
arriving home with bargains 
and fine treasures for her family.

She rises from bed early, while we milk the cows,

 carefully preparing a delicious breakfast for us.

She has a plan. 

She computes the farm finances. 
She plants a garden or two.

She wraps herself in prayer

carries herself with confidence,
    and works hard, 
strengthening her arms for the task at hand.

She sells books in town during the day 

and teaches piano in the evenings.

Mom, Dad, & grandchild, Carson

 Her hands skillfully 
sew a dress with one while holding a baby in the other.

Mom and Aunt Ruby

She reaches out to foster children and takes dinner to a grieving or hurting neighbor.

She is not worried about the cold or snow for her family, 

for she has bundled them up in hats and scarfs
 and covered them with prayer.

Mom on the cruise 2016

 She makes
for her grandchildren 
and is always clothed
 in bright pink or red.


Everyone recognizes her husband

 in the public square,

    and no one fails to respect him

 as he takes his place 
on the school board
 and the Gideons.

Mom and I.
 I'm wearing the dress she made
for her wedding.

She makes satin dresses
for brides & their maids 

    and she sells seeds 

to people everywhere online.

Clothed in strength and dignity, 

with nothing to fear,

    she smiles when she thinks

 about the future.

Mom & I 1965
She sings with the ladies at church, 


and teaches Sunday School 

 every Sunday 

She directs the Vacation Bible School 

every summer and seldom 

takes a moment for herself.

Her Children rise up and call her blessed

Family at 60th Anniversary Cruise 2016

    Her husband, too, joins in the praise, saying:
“There are someindeed many—mothers 
who do well in every way, 
but of all of them only you are truly excellent.”

Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last,
    but a mother who reveres the Eternal should
be praised above all others.
Celebrate all she has achieved.
    Let all her accomplishments publicly praise her.


Just a few of the things I could say about my mother;