He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

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1st Haircut {4 months old}


Before...









After:  Now he's handsome, not pretty!




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Brothers

Caiden reading his Advent gift for the day to Corin...a book about boats and ships!



Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. ~Marc Brown



It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea. ~Dylan Thomas





Three cheers for Bumbo seats!!!
(a favorite Christmas gift)





The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out his nose. ~Garrison Keillor






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In the Morning

We laugh at the memories and her stubbornness and we cry for ourselves.  We remember and honor her.  Her casket lays in the same room that held my cousin Gabe - 3 months my senior - as we said goodbye several years ago. 



As my cousins carry Grandma's casket to the car, a cousin's brave voice lifts to sing along with the piano..."I will meet you in the morning....Just inside the eastern gate."


One by one, we try to join through our bittersweet tears.  My dad - sitting in front of me - struggles for sound.  But as her grey box comes by us, I hear his voice gain strength and hope and resolve as he sings his last song to his mother...I will meet you, I will meet you.  Just inside the eastern gate over there.





And we all - sons and daughter and cousins and grandkids...we sing it to her. 





During the funeral, I glance at the row of my mom's family who had come to support.  The Wolfs and the Parsons have a rich history.  They are acquainted with grief.  They know what it means to be present. 



I see my Aunt Nancy - who had driven hours just to be there for the short service.  She has buried a 3-year old daughter and a nephew and a brother and father.  And my Uncle Charles....who said goodby to his son Gabe in that very room.  Then buried his father and father-in-law and brother.  My Grandma Parsons - who has met the challenge of stage four cancer this year.  And my cousin Brett in the back, holding my baby.  He stays out of the room that holds too many memories.  And in front, in the Wolf row, my cousins who buried their two-month-old baby girl. 



Grief lines run deep on our  faces.  But there is a peace - a knowledge and hope - that comes from realizing  so vividly that this earth is not our home.  There is an understanding that helps us to love even more fiercely.  To hold tighter and looser all at once. When we sing that song that we've sung at too many funerals, we mean it with every fiber of our being....





After the funeral and burial and dinner, we drive to Overland Park to Grandma Parson's.  I drop suitcases and breathe and drink in deep the smell of her home.  The look of her blue glass reflecting in the kitchen window.  The sweet familiarity of Grandma's.  We talk as she fixes a chili and salad supper.  She looks beautiful in her cancer wig.  She cries as her gratefullness pours out - grateful to God for more time with her family.



We talk so often about the gifts of our grief.  What do those do who have no Hope?  Heaven holds treasure so dear.

I fly home to hug my little family close and go about the joy of the season with fresh perspective.



Yes...Grandpa Wolf and Emily and Tiffany and Grandpa Parsons and Gabe and Uncle Stan and Grandma Wolf....


We'll meet you in the morning!




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Advent - Emmanuel

It is the season of coming.  I have prayed, at times, for God to be somewhere or do something only to have Him stop me in my tracks with the sharp awareness that He already IS.  He already DOES. 

Even for those of us whose lives are pretty much built around our faith, there are times when earth simply seeps into our skin around the edges.  And somehow, for some ignorant reason, it dulls us to the reality of His absolute presence.  His nearness.  As close as the breath on your lips  Closer, even.

The incarnation is amazing.  The story of Christmas is delightfully familiar.  Sometimes to the point that the wonder of God-In-Flesh loses its breathtaking freshness.

Ever had a baby in your womb?  Ever felt it kick and squirm and punch until your skin hurt?  (Yes, the babies in this house were all wild even before birth!)  Or - if not - ever held one while it slept?  Or kissed its laughing mouth?  Or bounced it when it cried?  I sit here even now and shake my head as I try to imagine Elohim fitting into that kind of package.  All of Him?  Really?  In-your-arms-tiny?  With kissable cheeks and all?  Surely not. 

Surely not the Power that breathed the galaxies and created clouds and painted mountains and stirs up oceans.....subject to emotions and skin and injury and the dirt of life? Walking around the neighborhood?

He's felt it all?  Really?   The joy of an autumn morning, the ache of loneliness, the agony of loss.  Boredom.  Anger.  Weariness.  Irritation. 

And He planned that, while He was in the process of redeeming all of mankind, he would also give us a perfect example of how to walk on this soil and live in this skin.  A lesson in living color for those of us who don't always get it the first time. Perfect, human-sized Steps to walk in - pressed eternally into the dirt of time.

I think one reason that we don't always bask in the wonder of the incarnation is that it's really so much bigger than us.  Our minds can't really get wrapped around it. 

But I'm eager to better walk in those soil prints.  I'm hungry for Him and His quiet wonder.  To sit still and alone in the dark with the quiet glow and to just let Him fill the silence with Himself.  You know that feeling when you're all jumbled up inside and you find a closet somewhere and just let the words tumble out however they will and then you finally pause for breath and realize that you're...okay again. 

Perspective and quiet and soft joy return.  Simply because He's there.

"Emmanuel".....  God.  Here.  Now.

Awesome.
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Winter Recital 2009

This is a bit late, but here is the link for the recital, for those of you who care....You can go here to watch the recital.



(His eager-beaver-bow cracked us up.) 




  • I've been having some thoughts about kids and lessons and mommies and stuff.  Hope I can get around to writing about it.  


  • Recitals are so very important. They should be a big, formal, special ordeal (in my humble opinion).


  • and....This is maybe a sort-of secret (snicker...guess it isn't now), but my Dad has another book up his sleeve that our family is collaborating on.  "Raising Musical Kids" - A book for Christian parents about how to deal with many aspects of music...from choosing a private music teacher to guiding your kids in what fills their ipod.  Thoughts are swirling and I'm so excited about getting the writing going....






***********************************
 PROGRAM:


From the Music Studios of
Jody Johnson and Sarah Fry






Winter Recital
2009
Frankfort Bible Holiness Church
November 21, 2009
6:00 pm




INVOCATION....................................................Rev. Travis Johnson


Hannah Gray, Piano#
A Song about Cats (duet)........................................................Faber
Banana Split........................................................................... Faber


Ava Stafford, Piano^
Fur Elise..........................................................................Beethoven


Danae Durgan, Violin^
Musette with Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah........... arr. Durgan


Alyssa Johnson, Piano#
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (duet)..............................................Bastien


David Eric Gilbert, Piano^
Moonlight Music..................................................................Bastien


Karissa Fry, Violin^
Jingle Bells................................................................. John Pierpont


Kayla Fry, Cello^
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star...........................................Traditional


String Quartet (Kayla, Karissa, Caiden & Sarah Fry) ^
Rowing Together........................................................Wartberg/Fry


Shaylee Johnson, Piano#
I’ve Got Music (duet)...............................................................Faber


Cassidy Solomon, Piano#
Frère Jaques.....................................................................Folk Song


Anna Meek, Voice^
Wonderful, Merciful Savior (acc. J. Barnard)............Rodgers /Wyse


Jaida Waggoner, Piano^
The Elf’s Silver Hammer..........................................................Faber
The First Noel....................................................Traditional English


Ava Stafford, Violin^
Etude (acc. Sarah Fry)...........................................................Suzuki


Anna Watson, Piano#
Beaded Moccasins................................................................Bastien


Nyree Huffer, Piano^
A Quiet Song.........................................................................Alfred


Kristy Meek, Voice^
In Chirst Alone (acc. Merilee Barnard)...................Getty/Townsend


Brittney Solomon, Piano#
Ode To Joy......................................................................Beethoven


Rachel Maker, Piano^
Church Bells........................................................................ Bastien
Pachalbel’s Cannon in D.........................arranged by Rachel Maker


Jonelle Barnard, Violin^
Student’s Concerto No. 2 – 1st Movement, Opus 13.........Fr. Seitz


Karissa Lipp, Piano^
The River Is In You...............................................................Yiruma


BENEDICTION....................................................Rev. James Barnard


# Students of Jody Johnson


^ Students of Sarah Fry


ALL PERFORMERS: Please come to the platform immediately after the recital for a quick group picture.




There will not be a reception following the recital. We hope you enjoy this special night with your friends and family.


Thanks to Jeff Waggoner for providing live streaming of the recital: www.fbhc.info


Thank you for taking the time to enjoy this evening of music with us. And congratulations to the parents who made this happen in so many ways!




******************





“Music washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.”


:: Berthold Auerbach ::


Kayla is 7.  This is her first semester on cello and we are LOVING IT! It seems to be a more natural physical fit for her muscles than the violin was.




Karissa is 5.  She is one of those kids who....how should I put it....doesn't deal well with the patience of physical discomfort.  This is, obviously, a major issue with the strength-building of the violin muscles. We press on.  I actually think her muscles could be very natural at the violin (some are more than others, did you know?)  But she has most-definitely not relaxed into the instrument yet.  (major understatement)




Caiden is 3.  He recently had a major practice meltdown with tears and everything...because  " (pathetic sobbing) the biowin (violin) is swow (slow) moosic and I  wike WILD moosic!" So after his practice session, I had to take him to Youtube to prove to him that the violin CAN play wild music.  He said, "You're wight, mommy!  It IS wild!!"  It seemed to help. What a goober.


Okay...so we did this sortof-string quartet.  Don't get too excited.  It was Row, Row, Row Your Boat.  Wouldn't win any musical honors.....But we had fun, anyway.


Oh mercy, mercy...what AM I going to do with that boy?



After I watched the recital video, my crazy self started feeling all worried and discouraged about how my own kids aren't progressing very quickly and how it seems all I'm getting done is the discipline of practice and how Karissa's bow arm angle wasn't right and blah, blah, blah. 

But when we walked off the platform after our song, Karissa said excitedly, "Are we going to do it AGAIN?"  De helped me to remember that that in itself is plenty of success for this stage.
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Family Night :: First Snow Celebration

We woke up Monday morning at Garen & Crystal's to beautiful snow! 

We have a tradition of celebrating the first snow with small "snow" gifts (idea from the familyman) and a trip to Dairy Queen for BLIZZARDS (idea from Shar@rejoicing in hope).  Aunt Crystal gave the girls their snow gifts this year...adorable scarf/hat/glove sets.  And Caiden got a Bearcats hat.

(lovely picture, I know...you get what you get with this girl)

Back in Frankfort, we had our DQ celebration on Tuesday night.



As we loaded up the van in a freezing rain, we got to dreaming about having  a fireplace.  We decided we should pray that our next home will have a fireplace.  "I don't know a family who would enjoy it more than us."  I said.  David replied, "Well, I don't know a family who enjoys life more than us."  I blame a lot of it on him.  Instead of being a distracted, no-nonsense, loving-but-distant dad, he encourages and participates and helps in all of the crazy celebrating we do.

We took a lovely drive through the TPA park Christmas lights. This is one of my most favorite Frankfort Christmas traditions.  The kids enjoy the rare chance to unbuckle their carseats and sit up front with us.  We roll down the windows and turn up the Christmas music.




Ah yes....trying to get a good picture with kids piled on my lap, baby crying, David driving on....Oh well.  I tried.

 


Yes, we do enjoy life very much. 


We ended the evening with carols and prayer around the Christmas tree. (At which time all three kids mysteriously decided to fall apart into various weeping and wailing sobs for whatever reasons.) 

Yes - We are very, very blessed.  These crazy times are "family glue."  We're writing a history together.


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Heaven's Gain.....Anna Mayme Wolf

Grandma Wolf was an amazing woman.  At  95, she slipped away today to be with Jesus.  She was a sharp thinker, a hard worker.  A strong Christian woman with plenty of words and opinions *smile*.

She was so strong, my dad commented one day..."I'm just afraid it's gonna be hard on her to bury the rest of us."  She was always bouncing back.  Yesterday, we thought she might this time again.  But her race was run.


She lived with us in Cincinnati for many years.  I am so very grateful for those years that we had with her part of our daily lives....through boyfriends, dates, senior recitals, showers, weddings, babies.   What a priceless gift to have had her there in our home for those milestones in our lives. 


She had her own little kitchen and pantry in her room, and she would putter around doing her daily tasks....I remember her morning coffee and toast with jam.  We used to ride her chair lift up the massive flights of stairs in our old Josephine house.  I remember one adorable picture of her in a hat at our little family Christmas celebration.


She was a writer.  She wrote her own book...a dramatization of the Isrealites' Exodus....titled "Trip to the Promised Land."  I can't wait to make copies of the book for my kids.



When we visited with her in July, she held Dad's arm and patted it and looked at him not unlike I look at my Corin.  "This is my baby boy,"  she'd say, and smile and pat his arm.  It was in the last days before her memory darkened completely.  We are still smiling today because she was convinced during that visit that my three oldest children were my siblings and I.  She was miffed at Kayla because Kayla said that my Dad was "Grandpa."  Grandma said, "You don't know....Where's your daddy?"  Kayla (wide-eyed) pointed to David.  Grandma wasn't convinced and thought that Kayla (aka de? me?) had surely lost her mind.   She was completely thrilled with Caiden's overalls.  (Thinking he was "baby Garen II", no doubt.)  Precious memories.  Today, when I told Kayla the news of her flight, Kayla had sad eyes for a minute.  Then she started giggling as she remembered how convinced Grandma was that my kids were us.


When Dad first called me today, I had several reacions.  Tears and sadness, yes.  And that relief that comes from knowing her suffering days are over and she has beat us to the finish line.  Then my mind started scrambling for the regrets....the if-onlys.  And of course, there are a few twinges of wishing I would have recorded more stories, asked more questions.  But there is a sweet sense of joy...of NOT having regrets.  Having her in our home and sharing so much of our life was a gift.  And I have several books chocked full - in her own writing - of memories and thoughts and histories.  I have her journal.  I have her blood running through my veins.  I lived with her the summer I turned 18 (I think it was) while I worked in Kansas.  It was there - I remember the spot on her couch - where I made a drastic life decision.  Her practical, honest words were guidance.


No...not regrets.  Only anticipation. 


And Heaven grows sweeter still....




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Anna Mayme Wolf ~ A Biographical Sketch

My sister Rachelle wrote this Sketch of Grandma Wolf's life several years ago, when Grandma was 91.
If you were to pass through Vernon County, Missouri in 1914, you may have seen a farm that stretched across almost a thousand acres. You might have noticed the large pastures where cattle, hogs, and sheep grazed or the rather large barn that contained rows of horses and cattle. Up on the hill, the “Red House”, one of three houses in which the hired hands lived would be sure to catch your eye. A panoramic view from that same hill would reveal the farmhouse, divided into two apartments. Mayme Evangeline and Henry Ellsworth Potter lived in the east side of the house, and in the west side, their eldest son Lewie and his wife Lilla resided. Each side of the house had six rooms, and the windows were open to the outside. During bad weather, they would pull canvas across the windows and fasten it to the wall, but there was no glass, which made the house much cooler on hot summer nights. The two couples shared ownership of the farm.



 However, on February 23 of that year this picture changed forever. The family doctor, Fred Albright paid the farmhouse a visit, and Lilla and Lewie had their first child, Anna Mayme Potter. Two years later, Paul was born, and Donald came along by the time Anna Mayme was four.


Together, the three children walked to school through the cow pasture carrying their lunch buckets. On snowy days during the winter, whoever was feeding the cattle in the morning would drive the children to school on a big “sled”, a wagon with snow runners attached and oil lights on the front. They attended a one-room country schoolhouse with a single teacher all through grade school. Anna recalls that on her first day of school, a boy threw her lunch bucket in the creek, and she “never much liked him after that.”



Most of the teachers of the school lived in the Potter family’s home during the year they taught. While it was typical for most teachers to stay for only one year, there were a few exceptions. Miss Marcella Sharp stayed for two or three years. Anna was not too thrilled with this, arrangement. She still remembers Miss Sharp’s first day, because she filled the blackboard with rules. Anna’s dearest teacher, Mrs. Melinda Welch, only taught at the school for one year. Although she had planned to return, she went away for vacation that summer, and got married. Melinda and her husband, Ritchie remained close to the Potter family, and they would often visit each other’s homes for dinner.





 On a typical day at school, the students would say their pledges, and Anna Mayme would lead the singing. Her aunt Ada was one of only two holiness women who taught at the school, and would lead the children in prayer. When they played sports, Anna Mayme was always the last to be picked. She was never athletic, and all her peers knew she couldn’t play ball. However, she was very smart. Even though her grades were second in the county during her eighth grade year, Grandma did not always pay attention in class. Sometimes she would get in trouble for passing notes or not getting her lesson, and would have to stand on the floor in front of the classroom.    read the rest of the story here.... 


Including:
  • How Grandma & Grandpa Wolf secretly eloped, then went back to their own separate homes to live for months before their marriage became public!
  • A scandalous story about the three Wolf brothers and a bucket of beer
  • Why Grandma was forced to be the woman of the house when she was only 16.
  • Why Grandma's legs were different lengths
  • A doll named Annabelle Evangeline
  • An embarrassing story about chasing Grandpa around the yard with a rolling pin
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Good to be home...

Two wonderful trips to Cincinnati - Christmas programs - late Thanksgiving feast - early Christmas celebration - precious, priceless Family time....a two-week break from blogging....and now.....HOME with a happy sigh!



Home with messes and laundry and suitcases.  Sleeping baby and the sounds of singing vegetables.  Where I find my big black chair and my fingers can work out thoughts on keys.


FINALLY home to daddy and husband on a cold night with the crunch of snow - after a stop by the airport and two wrong turns and an extra stop to alone bundle and guide four cold kids inside for bathroom breaks.



We haul in suitcases full of happy memories. Kid baths and hair combing and curling. Then we gather in the living room for devotions and Christmas carols around our most-favorite tree.


And now my brain swirls with the productive energy of things to do and exciting projects to start and goals to record.  But my body is travel-weary. And I am torn between the urge to clean and organize and whip my world into shape.....and needing to express the creative energies that threatened to keep me awake last night. 



Hmm.....should I put away laundry or start a new visual daybook or read one of my fantastic new parenting books or start filling my new iPod?  (Where IS that stinky schedule when you need it?)  It just seems wrong to have to do laundry and dishes when so many fun things await and I have new toys to play with.  Discipline, daughter.  discipline.


It's just good to be home.


*****
Four blog drafts wait in storage and many more in my head....so many thoughts I've been silently sharing with you that are itching to be typed. 
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