Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Josiah on Museum Day

"I'm so excited Daddy has the day off!"
"This is supposed to teach me how computers play music. Let's see what happens when I put all the pegs in a straight line!"

David on the Way to the Museum

"I'm so hungry I could eat a book!"
"I'm so exhausted I can't even hold my head up!"
"Ah! That's better! Let me know when we hit Richmond!"

Science Museum of Virginia

Wednesday is typically Jeff's day off, and we always look forward to Wednesdays and the chance to spend more time together as a family. This morning--out of the blue--Jeff said, "I wish we could go somewhere today," so we hatched the plan to drive to Richmond and visit the Science Museum of Virginia. I have been wanting to go there again and especially take Josiah; I have good memories of going there as a girl, and it's something that I wanted to share with my family. So off we drove to have an adventure!

On the way Jeff asked me what I remembered about my time at the museum as a child, and I told him about a certain room there that was very small but was lined with mirrors in such a way that it stretched to infinity (it seemed!). I remember going into that room with some of my friends and all of us in our girlhood way, wishing that our bedrooms at home were like that! It was great to find that room again today, and I loved being in it...except for the fact that, inside it, there was some boring-to-me presentation about atoms and molecules and crystals, etc. I suppose that's par for the course in a science museum, but I would rather have had some relaxing music or silence in which to enjoy the ambience. :)

Josiah's favorite part was a rocket display in which an empty soda bottle whooshed way up in the air when he pushed a button. David loved running in a carpeted area while we were waiting for a planetarium demonstration in the IMAX theater and running in a tilted room where the dimensions of everything were "off." I'm not sure about Jeff's favorite...I'll have to ask him. The best part for me was simply being together as a family--well, that and the mirror room!

Isn't that a great picture of Jeff's head? :)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I'm waiting for Jeff to get home from a meeting tonight, so during all this "free time," I'm having fun blogging. I thought I'd include one more poem from the book Sleeping Preacher before I sign off for tonight. This poem has so much truth in it; from my experience with my Church of the Brethren (close cousins to Mennonites) grandparents, my Mennonite high school, and my Mennonite neighbors, I feel like this is a very accurate representation; and it makes me so grateful for my heritage!


We keep our quilts in closets and do not dance.
We hoe thistles along fence rows for fear
we may not be perfect as our Heavenly Father.
We clean up his disasters. No one has to
call; we just show up in the wake of tornadoes
with hammers, after floods with buckets.
Like Jesus, the servant, we wash each other's feet
twice a year and eat the Lord's Supper,
afraid of sins hidden so deep in our organs
they could damn us unawares,
swallowing this bread, his body, this juice.
Growing up, we love the engravings in Martyrs Mirror:
men drowned like cats in burlap sacks,
the Catholic inquisitors,
the woman who handed a pear to her son,
her tongue screwed to the roof of her mouth
to keep her from singing hymns while she burned.
We love Catherine the Great and the rich tracts
she gave us in the Ukraine, bright green winter wheat,
the Cossacks who torched it, and Stalin,
who starved our cousins while wheat rotted
in granaries. We must love our enemies.
We must forgive as our sins are forgiven,
our great-uncle tells us, showing the chain
and ball in a cage whittled from one block of wood
while he was in prison for refusing to shoulder
a gun. He shows the clipping from 1916:
Mennonites are German milksops, too yellow to fight.
We love those Nazi soldiers who, like Moses,
led the last cattle cars rocking out of the Ukraine,
crammed with our parents--children then--
learning the names of Kansas, Saskatchewan, Paraguay.
This is why we cannot leave the beliefs
or what else would we be? why we eat
'til we're drunk on shoofly and moon pies and borscht.
We do not drink; we sing. Unaccompanied on Sundays,
those hymns in four parts, our voices lift with such force
that we lift, as chaff lifts toward God.

Time for Reading

Someone asked me recently, "How do you find time to read so much?"

There are several factors involved in this:
1. I LOVE to read. It is my absolute, all-time, favorite leisure activity.
2. We don't have a TV--so the all-American time-waster is not a factor for me.
3. I read quickly. I guess all the hundreds of books my mother read to me as a wee little girl paid off, because I learned to read easily and began to devour books as soon as I could. Now I can read so quickly that it doesn't take much time at all to read a book, especially when I'm reading for fun, as opposed to serious study.
4. As far as when I actually read, I often sit down with my lunch and a book after I get the boys in bed for their nap. (Reading and eating go together so naturally for me that sometimes I have to remind myself that it's actually OK to read without munching on something! For the sake of my waistline, sometimes I just make a hot drink and settle down in the rocking chair with a book and a drink.) Or after they're asleep at night, I steal some time to relax and read.

One category of books that I'm really enjoying this year is biographies. My parents left many of their books in this house when they moved down the hill, and they have a wonderful collection of biographies of which I am just beginning to skim the surface. In the past few years, I haven't read many biographies; but I'm finding myself enjoying real people's stories so much this year.

Sleeping Preacher

Sleeping Preacher is the title of the latest book I've read, my 5th so far this year. It is a slim volume of poetry, written by Julia Kasdorf, and heavily influenced by her Amish/Mennonite heritage juxtaposed against her choice to leave that community and live in New York City. When I was a student at Messiah College, she came there and did a poetry reading; I must have bought her book at the time. In any case, I have read it several times through the years and thoroughly enjoy it each time. I think many of us, even if we don't come from quite as conservative a background as hers or live in quite as modern a setting as hers, can relate to the tension of appreciating many elements of our past while not choosing (or not being able) to replicate it.

I was thinking to include one of her poems here, just for fun; but I'm having such a hard time picking one! I guess I'll choose the first one of the book.

Green Market, New York
The first day of false spring, I hit the street,
buoyant, my coat open. I could keep walking
and leave that job without cleaning my desk.
At Union Square the country people slouch
by crates of last fall's potatoes.
An Amish lady tends her table of pies.
I ask where her farm is. "Upstate," she says,
"but we moved from P.A. where the land is better,
and the growing season's longer by a month."
I ask where in P.A. "Towns you wouldn't know,
around Mifflinburg, around Belleville."
And I tell her I was born there.
"Now who would your grandparents be?"
"Thomas and Vesta Peachey."
"Well, I was a Peachey," she says,
and she grins like she sees the whole farm
on my face. "What a place your folks had,
down Locust Grove. Do you know my father,
the harness shop on the Front Mountain Road?"
I do. And then we can't think what to say,
that Valley so far from the traffic on Broadway.
I choose a pie while she eyes my short hair
then looks square on my face. She knows
I know better than to pay six dollars for this.
"Do you live in the city?" she asks. "Do you like it?"
I say no. And that was no lie, Emma Peachey.
I don't like New York, but sometimes these streets
hold me as hard as we're held by rich earth.
I have not forgotten that Bible verse:
Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back
is not fit for the kingdom of God.

Don't Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees

First of all, I didn't make up that title; for that, we have Thomas Hale to thank! Thomas Hale is an American surgeon who, with his wife and two sons, has lived in Nepal for a number of years, serving as a missionary doctor in a small hospital in a very rural area. He wrote a book about his experiences which I finished reading a few days ago.

It was really interesting to read his story so soon after reading Kanchi Doctor (about a British woman doctor's experiences serving as a missionary doctor, also in Nepal). There were many similarities in the experiences of these two missionaries, and some differences as well. Both of them inspired me to greater levels of sacrifice for God, and both of them shamed me as I thought about my personal level of comfort and how often I indulge myself while so much of the world struggles to even have enough food to eat. In fact, one day while reading the Don't Let the Goats... book, I put on my slipper, only to find the insole crumpled and out of place. As I straightened it for what seemed like the hundredth time, I automatically thought, "I just need to get a new pair of slippers. I'll go downstairs and put that on my shopping list now." Then I stopped to consider--do I really need a new pair of slippers, just because I have to put the insole back in place? And I concluded that I don't need them.

I'm sure that if I asked myself this question--"Do I really need whatever I'm about to buy?"--I could talk myself out of almost any purchase! And so I find it difficult to reach a balance in this area. In reality, I could get rid of so much stuff that I have and be fine. But at the same time, I am trying to create a home that is warm, welcoming, beautiful, with food that is abundant and nourishing. How do I know when I've given enough?

Interestingly, the author of the book struggles with exactly the same question. In his situation, if he had a full plate of rice to eat, there would be someone on his doorstep with nothing to eat--what should he do then?

Anybody out there have any thoughts about this???

Monday, January 29, 2007

Full House

Whew, what a weekend! Friday night brought us a packed house for our fellowship potluck and Bible study...Saturday morning, my friend Tracy came for a visit...Saturday afternoon, Lauren and her wonderful mother came by...Saturday evening, Jeff and I went out (yahoo!) with a couple for whom Jeff will perform their wedding ceremony in March...Sunday morning brought us a crowd for our worship service and potluck...and tonight we hosted some dear friends for dinner and a game of Taboo (which the Fisher team, made up of Jeff and myself, along with Tracy and Tony, won, by the way...not that anyone is keeping track...or maybe they are, Phat). So I think it's fair to say life has been busy! But what a blessing to have so many friends to spend time with, and what a blessing to have such a big house in which to welcome guests. In the past, we've always lived in small apartments/townhouses; and we've always crammed numerous guests into these small spaces. The record for us has to be Christmas 2004 which we spent in Tel Aviv hosting 60+ guests in our 736 square foot apartment. That was fun! But now--wow, what luxury as we have so much space to use here. Even still, we joke that the table isn't big enough and we're going to have to enlarge the kitchen!

Hebrews 13:1-2 is a good reminder for me tonight: Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. I'm sure we've entertained some angels along the way; in fact, I think they're usually the ones who end up in the kitchen loading my dishwasher for me. :) I send my sincere thanks to our guests who bring such a blessing on this house by giving us these opportunities to serve. (This is a Jewish concept by the way--the blessing gets reversed--the one who gives reaps the greater blessing than the one who gets--we see this come out in the New Testament in Acts 20:35.)

The pictures at the beginning of this post were taken tonight. I love the picture of Ryan and David on the couch looking at a Wiggles book. They sure are buddies!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Food for the Soul

Even more important than food for our bodies is food for our souls, and I feel well-fed today. The time of singing this morning seemed to be--what can I say?--inspired, heartfelt, true worship. To me it seemed like a genuine connection with God was made, and I rejoiced in the fact of being in His presence and lifting my voice with others to adore our great God.

I also gleaned a great verse from the lesson that Sam shared with us. It's a verse that I haven't read for a while, but it comes from one of my favorite Old Testament books--Deuteronomy. In the NLT version, Deut. 30:6 says, "The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!" This is the cry of my heart, my deepest desire in all my life. What God-fearing parent doesn't want their children to walk in the ways of the Lord? We all do! We long for it with pain and groans and tears and joy and hope as we see evidence of our children's decisions to either follow God or turn away from Him. This promise from Deut. 30 is so comforting; the thought of leaving a legacy of all my descendants having changed hearts because of their relationship with God is the pinnacle of all that I hold dear. Of course, this promise comes with conditions that come before and after this particular verse--to return to the obey with all your heart and all your keep all His commands, etc.--and it's vitally important to pay attention to that. But it was a comforting verse for me today as it reminded me of God's role in this process of transformation. I've heard it so many times before, but it's still as true as ever--God loves my children even more than I do; He desires to have a relationship with them more intensely than I can imagine; He does more to draw their hearts to Him than I could ever do in a thousand lifetimes; and despite the good that I do (the family devotionals, the prayers with and for my children) and the bad that I do (the times I blatantly sin, the times I neglect the practice of instilling spiritual disciplines in my children), He is still at work to make this promise from Deut. 30:6 come true. For that, I am eternally grateful and deeply comforted.

Food for the Body

Once again, we had a delicious potluck lunch after our time of worship in our home this morning. What an abundance of tasty food we had! I think everyone's getting better and better at this potluck thing and is (hopefully!) enjoying the opportunity to try new recipes--I'm certain all of us are enjoying the opportunity to eat new recipes!

I was asked for the recipe for the lentil stew that I made today, so here it is...

It comes from my all-time favorite cookbook (in fact, when we moved to Israel, I only had room to take one cookbook, and this is the one I took)--Mennonite Country-Style Recipes & Kitchen Secrets, by Esther Shank, a native of our very own Shenandoah Valley! In the cookbook, Esther Shank attributes this recipe to Harriet Steiner, who brought this recipe home from a trip to Africa; and that makes it extra special for me because we go way back with the Steiner family and respect them highly. I guess our first contact with them must have been when I was a girl and took Suzuki violin lessons; the Steiner girls were also taking lessons through the Suzuki program. And we have continued to be connected with them in various ways through the years--the most recent being at a birthday party last week when I had the opportunity to see Deanna, the youngest daughter.

Without further ado, here is the recipe...

Lentil Soup

2 cups dried lentils
7 cups water
2 slices uncooked bacon (or ham bone or bouillon)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 chopped celery
3 tbsp. minced parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed

Combine above ingredients, and heat to boiling in large saucepan. Simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.

2 cups canned tomatoes
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Add, and simmer 30 minutes more.

This is the recipe as originally presented in the cookbook. My own variation is to use more bacon than the recipe calls for (in fact, this morning, we used a whole package of bacon), and to cut the bacon into pieces before putting it into the soup. I also made it simpler by combining all the ingredients and letting it simmer together during the service, rather than waiting to add certain ingredients until later.

I know lentils are healthy, but I don't have many recipes for using them. This one has become one of our favorites though. It's also quite low in fat, depending on whether you follow the recipe and only use 2 slices of bacon or indulge like we did today and throw the whole package in!

What Gentlemen Doctors Do on Sunday Mornings

Ever wondered what a Southern gentlemen doctor does on Sunday morning, about 9:00 am? Well, if you're my dad, and your daughter calls in a crunch because she's run out of time and needs your help, you gladly offer to help--you walk up the hill to her house in freezing weather, you wear an apron so the grease doesn't spatter on your "church clothes," you brown hamburger for your daughter's taco salad, you cut up bacon for her lentil stew, you ask if there's anything else you can do to help, you carefully wash your hands, you put your suit jacket back on over the apron, you wait for the horse-and-buggy Mennonites driving past on their way to church to get out of sight so they don't see you in the office Monday morning and ask what in the world you were doing in an apron, then you walk back to your house and remove said apron.

And then what does your daughter do? Marvels at the extent of your love for her, thanks God again for all the sacrifices you've made for her and continue to make...and then posts the apron picture on her blog for the whole world to see!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Ice Cream Tastes Better in Heaven

Two days ago as I was driving into town for an appointment with my midwife, I was thinking about heaven. If you know me at all, you know that heaven is my favorite topic to think about, read about, sing about, pray about, talk about, etc. So it wasn't so unusual for me to be thinking about heaven; but on this particular day I was thinking about how soon I might be going to heaven, my thoughts being fueled by some persistent headaches I've been having and my paranoia about a brain tumor! (I get this paranoid nature from my dad...according to family legend, when he was a student in medical school, as he learned about each new disease, he became convinced that he was afflicted with that particular one! he turned into such an easy-going doctor, I'm not sure...when I told him about my headaches, he said it could be caffeine withdrawal or stress; he didn't even mention a brain tumor!)

But I digress...

As I was thinking about heaven, I thought, "What would I like to do before I go to heaven?" And I thought, "I don't think I have enough time to do everything I want to do before I die! I haven't read all the books I want to read, I haven't heard (and played) all the music I want to experience, I haven't had all the conversations with people that I would like to have, I haven't eaten all the ice cream I would like to taste."

One of my fundamental beliefs about life here on earth and life to come in heaven is that the things that are good here on earth are copies of things in heaven. I believe there is a lot of fore-shadowing present in the Bible and present in creation. For example, just as the tabernacle system was a forerunner of Christ, perhaps the music here on earth is just a forerunner for the music of heaven.

I realized that even if I knew that death was at my doorstep, I wouldn't need to cram into my life a variety of experiences that I was afraid of missing on earth. I wouldn't have to make a last-minute trip to Ireland because I bet the view of Ireland from heaven is pretty amazing. I wouldn't have to eat all my favorite kinds of ice cream, because I'm sure the ice cream of heaven is beyond comprehension. (I also wouldn't go on a diet during my last days on earth because I would enjoy having all my favorite foods one last time, but you get the picture!) And can you imagine what the libraries in heaven must be like??? I relish the thought of pulling out a book, curling up in a chair, and reading to my heart's content when I get to heaven. Maybe the books will be interactive, almost like a DVD--maybe they will transport us to the event. I've always wanted to, in a sense, watch a "video recording" of some of the incredible events of Biblical history--the parting of the Red Sea, the resurrection of Jesus, creation itself, etc. Maybe I'll get to do that in heaven!

Obviously, no one knows exactly how heaven will be--whether animals will be there, what we will do all the time, even if there will actually be ice cream. But how inspiring and elevating for our thinking to imagine the possibilities!

Cheetos Fingers

Ah, there's nothing like the orange fingers (and mouth and tongue) of Cheetos! Josiah and David were enjoying a snack recently, and Josiah got so excited about the ensuing orange effect that he begged for me to get out the camera and take pictures. I think he's getting used to me blogging about everything, including taking pictures of ordinary random events so I can post them on my blog.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Helpers in the Kitchen

This morning we made finger jello--green, per Josiah's request--for our fellowship potluck in our home tonight. Josiah routinely helps me in the kitchen, if there's anything he can do...he loves to pour and measure and stir. But today was the first day that David wandered into the kitchen and, seeing his big brother up on a chair, decided he should be in on the action, too!

First Thing in the Morning

As soon as Josiah and I open the door to David's room to get him out of bed, Josiah says, "Can you leave him in bed so I can get in and play with him?" This happens every morning. I always know he's going to ask that, but he continues to ask and doesn't assume that it will automatically happen!

In any case, it is so funny to watch the two boys in the crib together. Sometimes they lie down and play with the stuffed animals. Sometimes they sit and shake their heads back and forth as fast as they can and laugh. When Josiah wears his "Thomas" pajamas like he is in this picture, David always gets very excited and points to Thomas and says, "Ada, ada, ada!" until we say, "That's right, David. That's Thomas." And then he's satisfied.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Crazy Thoughts

Recently I was walking down the driveway that connects our house, my parents' house, and my dad's office with the road. It was night, and crazy thoughts started to flow through my head...

What if a car pulls up with 'bad guys' in it? What if they demand money of me? What if they demand that I take them to my house? Would I really take them to my house where my husband and two young boys are playing in the living room? Maybe it would be better to take them to my parents' house? No, that wouldn't be good; I couldn't put my parents in danger like that. Maybe I should take them to our neighbors' house [the one that Jeff helped in the robbery]? No, I couldn't do that either; that would be terrible if anything bad happened to them. OK, I guess I'd have to take them to my own house. But what would I do when we entered the house? Would I have time to grab Josiah and David and get away? Maybe I could get the boys and go downstairs, then quickly open the garage door and run out. Then I would go to my parents' house to call the police. But how terrible to leave Jeff alone in the house with the bad guys! How could I do that? But what would I do? What should I do?

Then I stopped myself and thought, "Davene, what are you doing??? You don't need to be thinking these thoughts. You're safe; God is with you; there are no criminals here." In the past, the only thing I feared walking down the driveway--if I feared anything at all--was a skunk! But now, fear creeps up sometimes and catches me unaware.

It reminds me a bit of how my thoughts changed after we had gone to Israel for vacation in August of 2002 when Josiah was 2 months old. After we returned to San Diego, I happened to see a city bus driving down the Strand (the road between Coronado and Imperial Beach); and the thought popped in my head, "There goes a target. I wonder if there is a bomb on that bus." And then I reminded myself that I was in California, not Israel, and that buses were not being targeted by terrorists in California, and that I didn't need to be afraid to drive alongside a bus on the Strand.

It seems that when certain situations enter our life, they forever change our outlook; and in these particular instances, new reasons to fear have entered my life. However, more than ever before, I'm seeing the need to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Another example of my changed thinking (not for the better) and my fight to take every thought captive: a few days ago, I was putting Jeff's boots away in his closet when my eyes caught sight of the baseball bat sitting there and my mind flashed back to the morning of the robbery. I was remembering how confusing that moment was when he had come into the room after his shower, we started hearing the frantic ringing of our doorbell, Jeff suggested that maybe the doorbell was malfunctioning (it had been doing that last fall), I thought it wasn't because I had heard voices outside, I thought surely it must be some of Dad's patients looking for him, I wanted to tell Jeff to just send the people away to go down the hill to Dad's house, he sensed danger so he grabbed the baseball bat on his way downstairs to the door. I remember thinking that morning, "Why do you need that? Just put the bat down and tell the people that Dad's moved." When I saw the bat recently, I was overwhelmed by thoughts of "What if?" What if Jeff had been shot? What if he had died? What if I had never been able to tell him again how much I love him? What if when he died, I had actually been harboring disrespect for him in my heart by thinking him foolish for taking the bat? What if our last conversation had been that rushed, confused one? What if, what if, what if??? I wanted to kneel down on the floor by the closet and sob. And then I realized, "Hey, Jeff wasn't shot! Jeff didn't die! We've had many conversations since then, and I've told him over and over how much I love him and respect him! I don't need to cry about this!" Suddenly the world was a bright place again...and the only thing that had changed was my thinking.

Keeping my thoughts bright--keeping them obedient to Christ--is so fundamentally important to every aspect of my life...and since the robbery, I've had a new arena in which to fight this battle!


I had an appointment with my midwife today who confirmed that my recovery from my miscarriage is complete! Yippee...what welcome news!!! Besides the physical recovery, the emotional aspect is also vitally important when dealing with a miscarriage; but God provided further evidence yesterday that my emotions are stable and hopeful as I look forward to the future. When we were at the museum yesterday, I ran into an acquaintance of mine who had heard through the grapevine that I was pregnant but had NOT heard about the miscarriage. When she saw me, she said, "Congratulations!!!" And then at the confused look on my face, she quickly realized something was amiss and apologized, as I explained about our loss. The comforting part of it for me was sensing within my spirit that there was no pain connected with the incident. In fact, I felt worse for her than I felt for myself, because I know she felt badly about it! It all reminds me of Psalm 146:5, "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God."

I was also reminded today of why I enjoy midwives--because they love to talk! My appointment stretched on and on and on as we talked about the robbery that happened to us last month, the pros and cons of homebirth, our reasons for living in Israel, typical births in the Netherlands (where the midwife has lived), the circumstances surrounding Josiah's and David's births, a mutual friend that we have who teaches at a local university, etc. My midwife definitely strives to treat the whole person, not just the body; and I am so grateful for that! It's nice to have a friendly chat while going through the most undignified examinations a woman can endure. :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oh, Shenandoah!

For my friend Doris' birthday last June, I told her that I wanted to take her out for a day and go to a museum or visit something that would be interesting to her. So today was the day! (I know, I know...I'm a little late in my delivery...but better late than never!)

We (Doris, my mother, and I) headed north to the city of Winchester, Virginia, to visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, a museum that just opened last year. None of us had been there before so it was a fun, new adventure; and after our visit today, we were completely impressed! It was spectacular! It made all of us so very grateful that we live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

One of the aspects of the museum that we found most interesting was a series of recorded interviews with various older folks of the area. My mother and Doris actually knew some of the people featured in these film clips. The older residents talked about various aspects of life in the Shenandoah Valley from their childhood and since, and some were quite humorous. We three laughed and laughed, and hopefully didn't disturb any of the other visitors to the museum!

The above picture was taken in the tea room of the museum where we stopped for a cup of tea and a light lunch. What a treat! And what a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kanchi Doctor

While the boys napped today, I sat in the rocking chair by our woodstove and finished reading a book: Kanchi Doctor: Ruth Watson of Nepal by David Hawker. Ruth Watson was a British woman doctor who was called to the mission field, so after she finished her medical training in England, she headed to Nepal; she was 25 years old. This was in 1951, and Nepal had just opened its borders to foreigners. Ruth was literally one of the first Westerners, and certainly one of the very first missionary doctors, to enter the country. The book describes the challenges and joys of her work and life there, as well as giving some history of the country and the religious, political, and economic situation in Nepal at that time.

The best way I can describe this book is inspiring. Although I did not read this book when I was growing up, it reminded me of other books that I did read during that time in my life--books which fanned the flame of desire within me to sacrifice everything for God and for the sake of taking the Gospel to every corner of the world. From my earliest days, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, "A missionary." To think about leaving the U.S. for the foreign mission field was as natural to me as breathing. I am sure the books I read and stories I heard during my formative years played a huge part in birthing that desire within me.

This book, Kanchi Doctor, is the kind of book I want my boys to read as they get older. I'm realizing more and more how powerful biographies can be; they open the world to us in new ways as we look through someone else's eyes...a real someone...someone who lived and breathed and died and, hopefully, laid down everything for the sake of Jesus, no matter where and when they lived or what their occupation was. I want my boys to read about great men and women of the faith, whether famous or "unknown"...and by doing so, for their horizons to be broadened as they dream about how God can use them someday.

As I look back on my life, it strikes me as funny that I ended up in Tel Aviv in an urban missionary setting. I NEVER pictured my life being that way! I always imagined myself in the jungle somewhere, walking for miles and miles to get anywhere (it does seem like we did that in Tel Aviv!), washing my clothes in a bucket, living in a hut, etc. I felt particularly challenged by the thought of dealing with snakes--snakes in my living quarters, snakes along the path as I walked, snakes hanging from the trees. I was sure there would be snakes on my mission field. I was also sure that the people with whom I would be sharing the Gospel would be a virtually unreached people group, and I would be one of the first to ever tell them about Jesus. I guess God had different plans...and I don't mind a bit missing out on the snake part!

A Puzzling Situation

This was the scene in our living room tonight. My mother dropped in to bring us some fresh pineapple she had cut up--a delicious treat! Then she got distracted by a puzzle of the USA that Josiah was working on.

There are several puzzling aspects of this picture...
1. Why in the world is this dear woman sacrificing her poor aching knees to kneel on the hardwood floor? (Oh, the lengths to which a grandmother will go to express her love to her grandchild!)
2. Are there no tables in the house where the puzzle could be placed and the people could sit?
3. How in the world will this dear woman ever get up from this position?
4. When will Josiah learn that the states are called "states," not "countries"? (Despite continual reminders, he always calls them countries..."Mommy, here is the country of California, and here is the country of Virginia, and here is the country of Texas, and here is the country of Florida." I patiently explain, "That's great, sweetie! You really know a lot of states! They're called "states." There are 50 of them in our country. Our country is called the United States of America." But my words fall on deaf ears!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Joyful Wife

One of the books I'm currently reading is Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl. Although I do not agree with everything Debi writes, I do believe that she has an abundance of wisdom about how to be the kind of wife God designed me to be; and I am very inspired by reading her book. I've just finished chapters 2-4 about being a joyful wife with a merry heart and a thankful spirit. Wow, how convicting those chapters are!

It is especially convicting when I realize that, probably over a year ago, Jeff wrote about his desire for me to be that kind of wife...and I know I've failed horribly so many times. Jeff and I have a journal that has "leading questions" in it, that each spouse is supposed to write in, then share the answers with each other. The question that Jeff was responding to was, "In what single way would you most like to see me grow personally in the next twelve months?" Here is his response (and, by the way, I asked for his permission before I included this in my blog)...

Let it first be said that I am so happy to be married to you; and even if nothing changed for the rest of our marriage, I would not regret my choice in you. But if I had to choose a single way, it would be for us to have more "fun" together. Nothing kindles the flames of my heart more than to see you smile, to see your joy and overflowing happiness. When you seem down, I too feel down. Yet your joy and happiness always bubble over, infecting my own spirit. When you are down, I often take personal blame--considering what I might do better or change to help restore your joy. I still love your smile more than anyone else's; I still favor your approval more than any other's--I endeavor to kindle your joy even as it makes me more content. You are still and forever will be my "Happy."

Sigh... Why can't I be better for him? He is so wonderful, and I desire to be a radiant gift from heaven for him--truly a joyful wife. It sure is hard to be consistent with that!

Anyway, in honor of my incredible husband, here are some joyful pictures of us. These were from our 9th anniversary celebration last June.

Project of the Day

I love Mondays! After the change of pace of Sundays (which I also love), there is something exciting about Mondays--a fresh start, usually a "regular" day at home, laundry day (I love doing is another thing altogether--definitely NOT a favorite of mine...but laundry, ah, laundry, how fun!), the chance to dive into a new project and think about all the wonderful things I'm going to accomplish this week. By Thursday and Friday, I'm usually well aware of all the things I DIDN'T accomplish that I thought I would...but Mondays are full of hopes and plans and enthusiasm. I realize most people don't share this fact, I've never heard anyone say "TGIM--Thank God It's Monday!" But for me, the Sunday/Monday combo is definitely my favorite time of the week. (I also realize I've used the word "love" way too many times in this paragraph. Oh well, this is the English language, and we all abuse the word "love"!)

So today, besides laundry, the fun project of the day was...drumroll, please...organizing my linen closet!!! My mom and I worked on it together, because most of the stuff in it was left in there by her! We had so much fun--we found some interesting things we hadn't seen in a while (like my grandmother's wedding dress that she made herself, a stole--today we would call it a "shrug"--that some great-aunt knitted, a wool blanket which belonged to my great-grandfather's brother and was made by hand on a loom, etc.), but also the simple pleasure of bringing order to things brings us great joy. My mother and I love (there's that word again!) organizing. In fact, it's literally one of our favorite things to do...well, that and read a book...but organizing something feels productive, whereas reading a book sometimes feels a bit too indulgent for us...especially for my mom's good German work ethic. :) I'm better than her at feeling free to sit down and relax; I guess it's the California influence on me. :)

In any case, here's a picture of the finished project today. I really should have taken a picture of the linen closet before we started so the full before/after effect could be shown. Unfortunately, I didn't think of that until it was too late!

A Study in Contrasts

Here was the view from our front window on October 18, 2006.
Here was the view from our front window this morning.
Each season is beautiful, but very different. Lessons I've learned from this: 1) each of us can be beautiful, even though we are very different from each other; there's not just one kind of beauty, and 2) I'm so grateful to live in a place with four distinct seasons! (San Diego and Tel Aviv are both two-season kind of places.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What a Fellowship

Earlier today, before the snow adventure, we had a wonderful time of fellowship here in our home with the church. The location where we had been meeting became unavailable, so for the past few weeks our church has been meeting in various homes...and I am loving it! One reason is that I appreciate the opportunity to impress upon Josiah (and remind myself!) that we don't go to church--we are the church. When I can use terminology like, "The church is meeting in our home today!" it helps him to understand that church is not something that we attend or do; it's who we are...and that's such an important lesson.
I also enjoy the extra time that we spend together as we eat a meal after our organized time of worship. The conversation, laughter, etc. is priceless! And the, we have some really good cooks in this group! The chicken salad sandwiches that Meghan brought today were literally the best I have ever tasted.
Other highlights...
~ an "undignified" time of worship, beginning with the song Ha-La-La-La-La-La-Le-Lu-Jah (how many "la's" are there really supposed to be???)
~ excellent message from Joshua 4, a reminder to remember and take to heart the mighty works of God, not just for our sake but our children's and their children's and their children's
~ some new friends who worshipped with us today


We were THRILLED to have a real snowfall today!!! Finally!!! When you're four years old and you have an orange sled that you've been waiting and waiting to use, a fresh fall of snow is a wonderful thing! These are some pictures of the boys having fun in the snow. David didn't really know what to think at first...he had a hard time walking in it, and several times he fell face down in the snow. But once he got used to it, he thought it was great. The neighbor girls came over, and they and Josiah had quite a time sliding down our little hill. They made a good track and got some speed going as they slid. I have such good memories of playing in the snow here when I was a little girl, and now it's wonderful to see my own children sliding down the same hill I enjoyed as a child!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Josiah at the Party

Here's a picture of Josiah at the birthday party today. This is a "new-to-us" shirt that I got for him at a thrift store recently; it's from the Gap, and I got such a good deal on it. Isn't he handsome?! :)

A Continual Feast

A verse that I read yesterday has been coming back to my mind over and over today. It is Proverbs 15:15, "For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast." Wow--a continual feast--who doesn't want that??? For the most part, I feel like my life is a continual feast--overflowing with blessings--safely tucked in a bubble of God's protection and favor. Of course, I have moments of being downcast and discouraged and despondent; but I'm striving more and more to keep a happy heart, find the joy in the ordinary moments of everyday life, and keep my eyes open to the continual feast that is mine. I'm reminded of how two people can look at the same situation and see two totally different things, depending completely on the attitude with which they approach it. May my attitude be a glass-half-full point of view, not because I wish to live in a fantasy world where everything is great, but because in spite of all the hard things of life, God is so fundamentally and overwhelmingly GOOD...and that outweighs all the rest.

Here were some parts of the "continual feast" of my life today...
~ birthday party for our friend Kirk, who is turning 4--for me personally, a great time being with my boys and seeing them interact with other children, reconnecting with someone I knew from years ago, and being with a family that I dearly love
~ visit with my friend Lauren--we looked at her pictures from her semester in Italy and shared from our hearts...then she felt comfortable enough to settle down on our couch for some study time...then she stayed for dinner--great to have her be a part of our family!
~ dinner with my family of 4, as well as my parents and Lauren--tons of fun remembering funny times from high school when my brother and I played basketball, stories from my wedding (especially our going-away ride in a buggy), and thrift-store adventures

Now it's time to prepare for tomorrow...worship service here in our home, followed by lunch together--a literal feast, part of the continual feast of my life!

Family Night Fun

Last night's family night activity was a great success! There were empty lanes at the bowling alley when we arrived, so we didn't have to wait for that...although it did get more crowded as the evening went on. Josiah had a blast! He was using a special 4 pound ball, the lightest they have...but it was still so heavy that he could hardly get it going, and it would roll very slowly down the lane. Once, it even stopped completely halfway down the lane, and an employee had to come and retrieve the ball. I think Josiah gets the prize for the slowest rolls last night! We had the bumpers up so the ball wouldn't go in the gutter, and Jeff and I enjoyed banking our balls off the bumpers, too! Undeniably, the best part about it was seeing the joy on Josiah's face and hearing his excitement, whether he knocked down 2 pins or none. I'm so grateful for our tradition of family nights; I know we're building memories and storing up goodness for the future.

Friday, January 19, 2007


One of David's favorite things to do these days is get out the box of Uno cards and pull out all the cards. He then picks them up and studies them intently--noticing the number and the color, I suppose--before putting them on the floor and picking up more cards. If he's a bit fussy and I need to figure out something to do to keep him entertained, I just get out Uno and he gets happy! If we ask him where the "0" is, he can find that card for us. I'm sure at some point, he will grow out of his fascination with these cards; but for now, I'm enjoying the fact that he gets such a kick out of this!

Good Point

Today I ran some errands and discovered again how interesting it is to simply observe the wide variety of people and behavior in the world! However, the thing that captured my attention the most today was a bumper sticker that read, "When Jesus said, 'Love your enemies,' I think he meant don't kill them."

Family Night Menu

Tonight is our family night in honor of Josiah. Every other Friday we have our family night, and we alternate who the honored member of the family is for family night. Because it's Josiah's night, he gets to choose what we'll eat for dinner, he gets to use the "Celebrate" plate, we will share things about him for which we are grateful while we're eating dinner and we'll write them in a special journal, and he gets to choose the activity for the evening. He would like to go bowling tonight, and as for the menu...macaroni and cheese with tuna. Not "real" macaroni and cheese, but mac and cheese from a box...the spiral kind. That seems to be his favorite meal at the moment!

Maybe he gets that from me... I used to think that if I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese. (Not that I WANT to be confined to one food forever, but if I had to be for some unique torture...) Now I'm tempted to switch my choice to macaroni and cheese. I've never met a mac and cheese that I didn't like! Especially my mother's homemade kind...or my sister's...yum, hers is incredibly delicious. Mac and cheese from a box is OK, and we'll enjoy that together tonight, but there are so many good homemade mac and cheese recipes!

The funny thing is that as a girl, I too preferred the mac and cheese from a box. I guess that goes with the territory of being a kid!

Winter Beauty

During this season of the year when most of the trees are bare and few blooming things can be found, I have really been enjoying our holly. They have an abundance of red berries this year and are really a bright spot in a barren landscape! I'm so grateful to the previous owners (my parents) for having them planted! :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

End the Day with a Smile

To close out this first day of blogging, I'll include a picture that makes me smile. This was the runner-up for our annual Christmas picture this year. We ended up choosing another one to send out to friends and family, but I really like this one, here it is!

The Robbery

This is an email I sent on December 12, 2006--I'll include it here to give the context for the last post ("Will We Be Robbered Again?")

The Lord will fight for you...especially during armed robberies!

Hello to all!

A special scripture for us today...from Psalm 91, in the Message translation...
You who sit down in the High God's presence,
spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Yes, because God's your refuge, the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you, harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.

In the early hours of this morning, we were the victims of an armed robbery. But thanks to God's amazing power and grace, we are safe and unharmed!

If you live in our area, you may have seen on the local news a story about a string of armed robberies that occurred in the western part of Rockingham County early today. From the information we have, the robbers (two men) stopped at several dairy farms before coming to our neighbor's machine shop, which is directly behind our small pasture which is behind our house. The robbers held our neighbor at gunpoint and knife point and demanded money. He told them that he didn't have any money there so one man held a gun to him and brought him down the hill to our house (thinking that it was the neighbor's own house). Our neighbor said when he saw Jeff's Jeep at home, he knew that he should bring the robber here because Jeff could help him! It was about 6:20 am, and Jeff had come upstairs after showering to get dressed for work. I was still in bed, as were Josiah and David (thankfully, they slept through the whole thing). We heard the doorbell start ringing frantically, so Jeff went down and looked out the window in the door. (Meanwhile, the robber was telling our neighbor, "This doesn't make sense! You don't ring the doorbell at YOUR OWN HOUSE!!!") Jeff saw our neighbor and a masked man holding a gun, so Jeff opened the door and discovered that the man wanted money--in the literal words of the robber, "Can you help a brother out?". The guy and our neighbor came in our house, Jeff ran downstairs, grabbed a stack of small bills, and shoved it into the guys' hands who then ran out the door, yelling "5 minutes!" The robber then went next door to the neighbor's house where his wife and three children were. By God's grace, the robber did not hurt anyone there, and he ran out of their house pretty soon; the other robber was waiting in the car for him, and they drove away.

As I write this, one of the suspects has been arrested, and one is still on the loose. We pray he will be caught soon!

Whew, nothing in our lives had prepared us for this. It happened so fast, with only time to do what instincts told us to do. Jeff said a million thoughts flew through his head as he tried to figure out the best thing to do. As soon as the robber ran out the door, Jeff called up to me, "Call 911! We've been robbed!" And so for the first time in my life, I got to call 911! We thought the sheriffs would quickly come to our house, but as we watched them driving by on the road in front of our house, we eventually realized they were probably looking for the guys and had some leads to go on. At that point, we didn't realize that ours was not an isolated event, but part of a string of crime.

Today has been a day of crazy thoughts, much conversation as we try to process it all and figure out what happened, fast heartbeats (about 2 hours after the crime, my pulse was 104), adrenaline rushes, and most of all, immense gratitude to God for his protection. The really disturbing part about these crimes is that they targeted Mennonites, who traditionally are pacifist. But one of the most affirming parts of all of this is how God worked it out, in a thousand different ways, so that no one was hurt.

During lunch today, Josiah brought up the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. He asked me a question that I wasn't sure about (was Pharaoh himself killed when the waters of the sea came together, or just his army?) so I got out the Bible to look it up. Josiah wanted me to read the whole passage to him, so I did, stopping often to explain things more fully to him. I was so impacted when I got to these verses in Exodus 14:13-14 which say, "Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still'." I felt like these Scriptures were fulfilled again here today, and I am so grateful for that! We can smile about it now, but Jeff grabbed a baseball bat to take with him to the door, but when he saw the gun, he realized the bat wouldn't do much good! However, God sure could do some good!

I don't mean to imply by this that bad things never happen to God's people; we all know they do. But we also know that our God is mighty, and His hand is powerful. For us personally, it strikes us as ironic that this crime was committed against us here, in peaceful, rural, Rockingham County. We've lived in "dangerous" places before--southern California, Israel--but here in a "safe" place, we've seen evil face to face like we never had before. It's been a good reminder that God is everywhere, He is always in control, and no place is entirely dangerous or entirely safe!

One more passage from the Bible to leave you with...the story of Elisha and his servant when they were trapped in a city surrounded by hostile soldiers...2 Kings 6:8-23...especially verses 16-17..."Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

May we all "see" with our spiritual eyes how great and powerful and good our God is!

With a grateful heart,
Davene Fisher

Will We Be Robbered Again?

Tonight as I was tucking Josiah in bed, he asked me, "Will we ever be robbered again?"...although his pronunciation of "robbered" sounded more like "wobbled" and left me scratching my head for a minute trying to figure out what he was talking about! When the lightbulb came on in my mind and I understood him, I quickly reassured him of God's knowledge of everything that will happen to us and of His angels that stand guard around us. In the "red book" (the Bible in cartoon form) that we read before dinner, we've been reading through some great Old Testament stories of God's deliverance through supernatural means--enemy armies running away for no apparent reason, etc. I brought that up with Josiah before he went to sleep to comfort him. In times like these, I think two things: first, I'm so grateful for the complete peace we can have in Jesus, and second, what is really going on inside Josiah's head as he thinks back to the robbery? Has it affected him more than we realize?

In the Beginning

The picture I posted earlier of Josiah & David playing together reminded me of this picture, taken May 12, 2005, when David was less than a month old. This was taken in a park in Tel Aviv during an Independence Day picnic (May 12 is Independence Day for Israel). At the time, I could hardly believe how BIG Josiah was as I saw him stretched out on the blanket next to this tiny little baby David that had just entered our family. I knew Josiah's world was being rocked by all the transitions he was going through that summer, not the least of which was a new brother. What a joy now to see them able to play together and really enjoy each other's company!
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One of the verses I often think of as I go through my days is Psalm 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity." I thought of it this evening as Josiah came up with the idea of taking all the letters off his letter map and letting David help him put them back on. It was amazing how many times David could find the right place for a letter! But the sweetest part was simply watching two brothers play together peacefully and happily. That doesn't always happen in our household--but the moments when it does are sweet indeed.
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Life on the Mississippi

I finished reading a book today: Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. I always enjoy reading his books. This particular one made me want to go hop on a steamboat and travel the Mississippi River! I haven't done much traveling in that part of the country, so the cities he described are completely new to me. Maybe I'll get there one of these days!

This book was the second that I've finished so far this year, the first being a historical fiction book called Calm before the Storm by Janice Dick that described the plight of Russian Mennonites before and during World War I. That book was also very interesting but had an opposite effect on me than the Twain book did: I realized that I NEVER want to experience what the Anabaptists had to endure during those difficult days. Once again, I'm reminded of how free from persecution my entire life has been and how grateful I am for God putting me in this place and this time.

One Month Ago

One month ago, I was having a miscarriage. On December 18, I was sitting in a doctor's office, waiting for my blood to be drawn to check my hcg levels. The waiting room of an OB-GYN's office is not a pleasant place to be when going through a miscarriage. Every picture on the wall of an ultrasound or a newborn reminded me of my fresh loss. Every pregnant woman who groaned from her aches made me want to say, "Stop complaining about that precious gift that you're carrying, and start being grateful. I would trade places with you in a heartbeat!"

As I left the office that day, I could feel the wall of pain around my heart begin to crumble; and I wanted to rest my head somewhere and let the tears escape. But I couldn't. I had to go to my friend Julie's house to pick up my boys; then go with them to the hospital to visit my dad who was being monitored there for a heart condition; then go home to fix dinner and carry on with the rest of my regular routine. The tears stayed inside for that day.

Now, one month later, I can say with amazement: what a difference a month makes! God has been so good to me this month, giving comfort to my heart and pouring hope all over me. I remember the first night that I felt hope again, and I realized I was actually looking forward to the possibility of conceiving again. Instead of fear, I felt excitement and a determination to trust God through anything that might happen. Most of all, I knew that I wanted to enjoy every second of a future pregnancy just as much as I enjoyed this last one. I don't want to let fear rob me of one little iota of happiness.

I realized how healed I was when the phone rang recently, and it was a very good friend of mine, calling to tell me that she's pregnant. I was simply overjoyed for her and felt nothing but happiness and excitement and every other kind of good emotion. There was not even a tinge of self-pity or sadness in my heart when I heard her news. God is so faithful to care for His children, and I feel His grace poured out on me in overflowing measure!

Here We Go!

My very own blog--how fun! After being inspired by others' blogs, I finally took the leap and decided to begin my own. So, here we go!

The words to a song from the movie Flo, the Lyin' Fly (Hermie & Friends series by Max Lucado) keep coming to my head.
Here we go, having fun,
Laughing and singing in God's creation.
Here we go, everyone,
Living it up, all God's children.
A garden of beauty, a garden of fun,
Music and laughter for everyone,
Come join the party.
Here we go now!

And that reminds me of something Michael Pearl wrote in the Jan-Feb 2007 issue of No Greater Joy magazine. He quotes from Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)--"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." Then Michael goes on to say this:
I have always loved the imagery of that passage. It is my life. I can see my wife and me, along with our children, hilariously drawing living water from the wells of salvation, spilling it on the ground and throwing water all over each other, drinking our fill, and pouring it over our heads.

That kind of joy is what I desire--to drink deeply from life, cherishing each moment, delighting in the family God has given to me, and relishing moments of intimacy with God. I am fortunate enough to experience this joy regularly; but oh, I long for more!

And so, the adventure begins...or rather, it continues...for life has often been an adventure for me. How exciting to record some moments of the adventure here in this format! What a treasure to be able to look back, in the coming days, on the things I've written here and see a glimpse of my heart and mind in these words!

Here we go...