Archive by Author | Norma

Seven Days

It’s been a week, seven short days.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when I got the call.  It still seems like a dream, still seems like I might wake up and I can go back to when Stacie was happy, thrilled to be carrying her fourth child, go back to being excited about expecting three new grandbabies in a months time.  We were hoping for three girls because we are heavy on boys.  We have eleven grandsons and six granddaughters.  We day-dreamed about them being best friends, playing dress up together, having tea parties, spending the night with one another, telling each other secrets when they were teenagers, being bridesmaids in each others weddings.  We’ve watched the other seventeen be each others best friends and knew it would be the same with these three.  But something went wrong and Cara was taken from us early and now there will always be a missing link.

I have been shocked by the gut-wrenching sorrow this has brought us all.  I miss that baby girl with all my heart and in addition, Mark and I hurt so bad for her mamma, thinking about the pain she is going through is like a knife in our hearts.  My big, strong husband is wondering what on earth is wrong with him because he cries at the drop of a hat.  I assured him there is nothing wrong with him, he is just a Dad.  Sleep doesn’t come easy and when it finally does, it doesn’t last long.

I don’t believe that God MADE this happen, I know we live in a broken world and – things – just – happen.  But, one evening I was sitting outside by myself, crying for what we’d lost and for the pain that my daughter was going through.  My heart cried out to God – “Why?  Why did you let this happen?  I know you could have stopped it!”   I immediately heard a voice from my heart ask me, “Are you going to trust me?”  It stopped me in my tracks and I finally answered, “Yes, Jesus, I will trust you.”

And already, after just seven days, I am in awe of the way God is working in each and every one of us.     I cannot believe the grace He has given Stacie to deal with this.  Her strength has amazed us all.  My fifteen year old granddaughter Lexi told her Mom “Cara never got to live, so I want to let her live through me and I want to be the best person I can possibly be.”  That thrilled me when I heard that because that is exactly how I feel!  I want to be the best person I can be.  I want to be the person that Jesus wants me to be, not only for Jesus, but also because I want Cara to be proud of her Grandma.  Then I found out that Stacie’s sisters all felt the same way.  That sweet baby who was only on this earth for 21 short weeks, has changed us, has affected this family in a very positive way.   I don’t want that to ever end.

Lord, help us keep these thoughts forever.  As time and your precious grace makes the pain lessen, I pray we don’t go back to life the way it was before Cara.  I don’t want to waste her sweet life by not letting her change me for the better.  I don’t want to waste the trust you asked me to have, waste the lessons You are going to teach me.   I pray that Cara stays with us forever, in our hearts, in our minds, in our attitudes, and in the way we live our lives.  Amen

It Begins


One week ago today, life was great!  Just like it always had been.  I had no idea I was about to head into a very sorrowful period of life.  My daughter Stacie had an inkling.  Unbeknown to me, she had been concerned because she had not felt her baby move very much for the previous few days.  She has her own doppler and she had been checking for a heartbeat regularly.  Once, it had dipped to 98 and that was concerning to her but she blamed it on needing new batteries.  She checked it later and it had come back up to 160 so she felt better.  She convinced herself to not be overly anxious.  Even that night when she could not find a heartbeat, she went to sleep choosing to believe that the baby had just moved into a position where it was hard to find.  But the next morning when she could not find it she called the doctor and they said to come on in.

When I see it is one of my kids calling, I always answer in one of three silly ways.  I either say a long drawn out “Dude” or “Vern” or “Hey Baby” or something equally goofy.  Always though, as soon as one of those things leave my mouth, for just a split second, I think what if this is not a happy call.  Sure enough, this time my worry proved correct.  A sobbing Stacie told me that she was going to have to go to the hospital and deliver a dead baby girl.  A girl, just what we were all hoping for.  A little sister for two-year old Kamree.  What can a mother say to something like that?  There are no words, all I could do was cry with her and beg God to hold her close.  Stacie was pregnant along with two of my other daughters, Kristi and Karen.  They were all due within a month of each other.  Now the other two have to go on without their sister, knowing that their growing stomach’s will be a source of pain as Stacie has to bury her dream of another child and watch the other two dreams come true.

We buried little Cara Grace, our 18th grandbaby on Tuesday afternoon.  We released seventeen balloons, into a beautiful blue sky, representing her cousins saying hello/goodbye to her.  I cannot believe how much that baby whom we never knew, who never took a breath has touched our lives.  She has changed me in a profound way and I know the journey has only just begun.  I want to record this experience as a tribute to her and to record God working through all of us to bring good out of this hurt.  So I open a new category on this blog and have obviously named it, “Life After Cara.”

The Trouble With Big Extended Families Who Love You!


Our oldest granddaughter, fifteen year old Lexi, experienced a milestone this past weekend.  She attended her first prom.  It also happened to be her very first date.  All day was spent getting her hair fixed and make-up just right.  Everything was perfect, until her two uncles drove in just in time for pictures.  Of course these weren’t just any Uncle’s, these were the Uncle’s who had told her from the time she was three years old that any boy who desired to date her would have to come through them!  And one of them is a crazy guy, who looks like he belongs on Duck Dynasty and takes his over-protectionism of her to an embarrassing whole new level!  When she saw them head her way she started protesting, telling them to stop, go away, she was going to cry, and worriedly looking down her long drive, hoping beyond hope that her date would be late.  Her protests reached a whole new peak when Crazy Uncle reached into the back seat of his car and pulled out two large hatchets.  He and his brother walked over to where Lexi and her Dad were taking pictures, handed a hatchet to her Dad and got into place beside her.  She was one worried little Miss.  Us women watching the picture-taking, were all a little worried that the tears might actually start flowing and her Prom-perfect makeup would be ruined.  We did our best to assure her, that when she was grown up, these would be her favorite Prom pictures of all times.  It didn’t take near that long.  When she realized they were only giving her a hard time and saw them willingly go in the house before the poor date arrived, she calmed right down and her smile came back.  And even though she doesn’t admit it out loud, I think she kind of likes the picture of her big bad protectors surrounding her in her very first Prom Dress!


More Than a Made Bed

I have noticed something that always makes me smile.  Occasionally one of my children spend the night with us.  Jamie is the only one of our children who lives more than thirty miles from us.   When she comes to visit us, she and her family stay in the same room she grew up in.  When Bryan plays in a softball tournament late into the night, instead of driving home dead tired he will spend the night here.   Kyle teaches and coaches in our home town but lives thirty miles away.  When his game gets over late, he will stay here instead of driving home.  And every time, they make the bed.2345  Every single time!   Jamie doesn’t surprise me, because in all honesty, she’s the woman of her house now and she always makes her bed.  But when I see that Bryan and Kyle have made the bed, I do a double take and have to chuckle.  These were my two teenage sons who not so long ago, continually asked me why I went to the trouble of making the beds when they were just going to be messed up again that night.  Now I tell them they don’t have to take the time to do it, but every time they still do!

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the gesture, but it makes me want to analyze this behavior.  Maybe it’s just the age-old thoughts of a parent wondering where did the time go, when did my kids all become adults?  When did they become guests in my home instead of this being home?  When did they change from teenagers who when they occupied those rooms, wouldn’t dream of making their bed every morning, into adults who if they sleep in the bed, they make it before they leave the house?  I didn’t teach them to make their bed.  If their beds were made when they lived at home, I’m the one who did it.  How does a child who wasn’t expected to do a job, become an adult who feels responsible to do it?

It is so easy to remember all the mistakes we made as parents.  We were so young, we became parents at the age of eighteen and nineteen.  The only thing I can say without a doubt we did right was love them.  We were too harsh about some things, we were too lenient about others.  But we always, always loved them.  And I prayed.  My prayer was that God would cover the mistakes we made,  where we failed as parents he would take over.   And somehow with love and prayer, we two inexperienced, unsophisticated teenagers ended up raising six great kids who turned into six great adults.  Adults who are responsible, hard-working, respectful, and loving.   Adults who are awesome parents to their own children.  Adults who make the bed after they have been an overnight guest.  It makes me stop and ponder, it fills me with gratitude, and it makes me smile.

The Grass Always Looks Greener……………..

We have four “barn” kitty’s who live outside in the shed where we store all our grain and hay.  They have a good life, we keep their shots up and they always get a cup or so of Gracie’s milk each day.  But they are “working” cats.  Their job is to keep the mice out of our feed shed and they do an excellent job!  Then I have an inside kitty named Eddie who has the run of the house, is on full feed, sleeps  in front of the fire or any piece of furniture he so desires.  When I do my book work he is either asleep on a pillow on my desk or he is batting at my fingers as I type.  In other words he has a life of ease and the hardest thing he has to do all day is figure out where he wants to sleep this hour!

Sometimes instead of sleeping, he will lay on the window sill or find something that he can be on that will let him see outside.  He will look out the window for hours.  Every now and then he will make a mad dash out the door when we go out side.  But he gets scared and hides until I finally go find him and bring him back in.  Then he is content once again to watch the outside world from the inside.


I always wonder what he is thinking when I find him like this.  Does he wish he lived outside, does he wish he was a “working” cat instead of the privileged indoor kitty?  Does he not realize that he has it made?  Does he have any idea how cold it is out there?  Does the grass look greener on the other side of the door?  Or is he thinking, “Man I’m glad I’m me instead of one of those poor guys out there who have to work for a living!”

Straw to Snuggle in

With a harsh cold front heading our way, I went through a pile of our supply of clean, yellow straw today.  Gracie and Liddy have a nice, thick pile to sleep on.


The chicken nests got a new soft, thick layer, because who wants a cold delivery room!

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And finally the bunny crate got a big pile for them to snuggle down into.  I wish I could do more for them , but I hope this tiny bit of effort on my part will help make the cold temperatures a little more bearable for all the my critters.

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Labor-Saving Wood Rack

The weather this weekend has been BEAUTIFUL!!  Sixty degrees or better both yesterday and today.  But the weathermen have all warned us it will be coming to a crashing end soon.  Thursday morning an arctic cold front will usher in highs in the twenty’s and lows in the teens and single digits.  So the next few days will be spent getting things done outside that would be a lot more miserable in the cold.  Today, we cut a load of firewood and we used an extremely handy wood rack that my ingenious husband made.  In fact he made two of them.  He made them out of a wood pallet, 1 1/4″ square tubing and an old cattle panel.  They measure about 4′ by 4′ and are 6 foot tall.  The beauty of it is he can lift them up with the forks on his backhoe or tractor, drive to where we are cutting wood, we load it up, then drive back to where we store the wood.  No more loading wood into a pickup and then having to handle every piece twice taking it out of the pickup to stack it.  When one of the racks is empty, we just grab it with the forks and head out to fill it up.   My only  complaint is that he didn’t think of it thirty years ago!



The worst part of cutting wood is keeping the saw sharp!


All full and back at the shop ready to keep us warm through the cold spell, and we only had to handle each piece one time!  Pick it up off the ground, put it on the rack and that’s it!!!  What a time, work and back saver.  No wonder I say Mark is the smartest person I know!

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A Reluctant Goodbye to Fall

I love Fall!  I love August because even in the middle of a heat wave, I can feel summer winding down.  I’m so excited because I know once August is over, we get September!  My spirit just soars with the excitement of what is to come!  The days start getting noticeably shorter and I sense the world and nature is about to change.  I love the colors – the orange pumpkins, the colorful leaves, the ripe milo fields.  I love the cool mornings and longer evenings.  I love the new crisp apples.  I love making chili on the day the first strong cold front hits.  I love curling up in my chair with my bible and a cup of hot tea.  Here are some of the other things I love about the time of year we are getting ready to say goodbye to.

As summer starts to wane, we finally get to harvest and put up all the veggies we lovingly planted, weeded, watered and waited for all summer long

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We love treating our animals with goodies from the garden.  In late September, these noisy geese honk their approval about a snack of watermelon rinds.


As the garden winds down we open the garden gates and let the critters graze what’s left.  Gracie LOVES bell peppers and the plants!  I don’t let her eat too many at one time for fear it will make her milk taste odd.


By early Fall the meat turkeys are fully grown and absolutely beautiful.  We ordered a dozen of the Broad-Breasted Bronze and ended up with nine Toms and only three hens, which is a good thing since we grow them for meat.  These were hatched on June 17th and by October they have grown so fast they are ready for the freezer.  I tend to put the day off as long as I can because I enjoy having them around.   I find comfort knowing that even though their life was short, it was so much better and happier than their cousins in the grocery store who were grown on huge, crowded farms.  These guys live in the sunshine and have plenty of room to run and greens to munch on.

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It seems like Fall often brings stunning sunrises and sunsets.  This is one that Mark and I enjoyed while on our morning walk.

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And finally, here is a scene we got to walk by every morning.  This season isn’t nearly long enough!  It wouldn’t bother me if late Summer and Fall lasted all year-long, but then I guess it wouldn’t be very special anymore.  It would just be “everyday” to me and I would long for the green of summer and the white of winter.  God gives all seasons their own beauty and specialness.  I’m just a little partial to this one.


Chicken Fried Hamburger



Chicken Fried Hamburger


Ground Beef


1 Cup Flour

2 Eggs

1/3 cup Milk

15 – 20 Crushed Saltines

Oil for Frying

Form ground beef into firm patties (not too thin, not too fat),  salt and season them with your favorite seasoning.  I’ve used Lawry’s seasoned salt before, this time I used this:


Wisk together two eggs and  1/3 cup of milk in a bowl.  Crush 15 – 20 saltine crackers and mix together with the cup of flour.  Dip the patties in the egg and then in the crushed saltine/flour mixture



Fry in heated oil.  With the burner on high, fry one side for about two minutes, then turn it over and fry the other side.  When both sides are nicely browned, put a lid on the pan and turn the temperature down.  Let them cook for 15 – 20 minutes, turning frequently.  When you feel they are getting close to being done you can turn up the heat to crisp up both sides.


Just to be sure they are done, you can cut one in half and make sure there is no pink in the middle

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Of course what Chicken Fried anything is complete without mashed potatoes, gravy, home canned green beans and frozen corn from your own garden!