We spent a half week with all nine of the children and the twelve grandchildren. The occasion was our son’s wedding. Tears  threatened when the boys, now men, stood as groomsmen for their brother. The struggle of our grandson to stay awake and the relaxed attitude in one of the boy’s suits served to prevent a flood watch. Of course the joyous days ended. Goodbyes were said. Hugs given. Blessings for safe travels under the Lord’s care went with them all.

As I sit in the quiet of the morning, the flood watch has become a warning. I am in need of a lesson our son brought in a chapel address. It was a message of both admonition and comfort. The words repeatedly sustained me throughout the long winter of Kaylee’s illness. I find I am in need of it once more.  For how easily does a mother, grandmother, say prayers for her children and walk away?

And She Walked Away!

As Matthew stated in his chapel address, they are simple easily overlooked words. When Mary saw the need, she brought it to Jesus’ attention and left. She walked away. The problem of the wine was in His hands.

O me of little faith! Faith finds the first action nearly automatic. It pushes the invitation “Call upon Me in the day of trouble…” into overdrive. Yes, I am weary. Yes, the burden is heavy. Yes, I lift my eyes up to the hills. While I struggle with the problem, the promises scroll as a tag line across my consciousness. “God is my refuge and strength.” “Flee for refuge to His infinite mercy.”  “Lo, I am with you always.” They are a tremendous comfort and an invitation to walk through the storm on the sea of His promises.

But that is where I drift into failure.  Like Peter, my focus too often remains on the waves of anxiety and the winds of fear. The oppressive clouds smother me, I cringe at each bolt of lightning, while the thunder is impossible to ignore.  I want relief. I want it immediately. I think my ideas are worth vastly more than two cents. Scenarios, suggestions, and solutions stall me in a relentless and futile circle I refuse to leave. Sleepless nights and divided focus days result.

Really? Even two cents are two too many. “Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who hath made us, and not we ourselves…” (Ps. 100:3)  “When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained…” (Ps 8:3) “All things were made through Him…” (John 1:3)

I am in need of a Job moment. “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) Smell the coffee. Focus on Christ. Listen to the rest of the story. “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.” (Ps 50:15) He’s got it. He does not ask me to participate in the solution for my problems or those of my loved ones. My two cents are worthless and unnecessary. Like a stubborn two year old, I tend to resent the fact I do not “got it.”

Note to self- keep eyes focused on Jesus. See the cross shine above, through and beyond the storm. He got that for us. No two cents of mine aided His atoning death. No words of mine brought Him from the tomb. The lesson is simple, wait with expectation for His time. Throw the concerns at His feet and walk away. He’s got it.

(Note: I would have featured a family picture from the wedding, if I had one. I have been informed some are on Facebook. The picture will be updated when I receive one.)



IMG_0114IMG_0144Reason for the neglect of the website– little girls mostly six, occasionally seven, all granddaughters. The oldest at 4 an 6 shared books on the porch swing.








Big cousin at 2 1/2 years take charge of the those a younger by a year. Pool fun includes a rinse, a soaping with small white ball and another rinse. Repeat…repeat…repeat.







One years share lunch. Good food, happy cousins!





And also share toys, mostly, happily. The days were busy. The girls made messes, the moms and grandma picked up with help. A good time was had by all.



Last name Ude? Moving? U-de Haul is the one to call. (If your name is not UDE, we will help when possible.)

Nearly 40 years of experience. Packing, cleaning, loading,  unloading and willing to advise on furniture placement. Will work for chocolate, but will accept pizza, Italian, subs and burgers. Truck  and other vehicles we are not “Fit” to supply. Cleaning may include ovens, bathrooms, windows, floors and even repair slight damage to walls. Carpet cleaning is covered by our capable Professor Doctor. (Professor with Rug Doctor) We work fast and have been known to do two household moves in 5 days. Will, under some duress, move pianos.

U-de Haul is a division of Ude Family Enterprises.

Need a place to stay? J&D’s B,B & B (Bed, Breakfast and Beyond, but not including mid-night snacks. Kitchen closes early)
Reservations encouraged. Rooms are limited. Shared bathrooms. Linens are provided, but extra pillows may be helpful. Yard space is available for tents if you are so inclined. Cable and WiFi come with the rooms.

Looking for a good book? Ude Books is the place to browse.
Steeple in the Distance comes well recommended,  copies are available. Further information is posted on this web site. Take a peek. (As of now this is the only book published, but more are planned.)








Another day, another delay? Our son and his wife were given  the hope of discharge from the hospital for their infant daughter, Kaylee, four or five times. Each date was negated by a delay of one sort or another.  I have become accustomed to the notification of a new Caring Bridge entry relaying discouraging news.  Today when the little blue light declared a message had been posted I anticipated news of yet  another set back. I gathered my breath and a prayer and clicked on the entry.

I was both relieved and  slightly disappointed that the entry carried only a photo with no words beyond the caption.

Still the photo was exceptionally good. The grandmother instinct took over and I gushed. “Ohhh, look, isn’t she cute? No tubes, no lines or monitors and you can barely see the scar on her head.”

Wait! That is the news you silly grandma. “Smiling, happy Kaylee.” The caption and the picture were the news. In Kaylee’s nearly 3 months of life she had not smiled. She had been hooked for the majority of two months to multiple machines, sedated, tested, scanned prodded, and poked. The thin, sick,unresponsive baby was now this, plump, chubby cheeked, ample bellied and smiley happy child.

Kaylee’s homecoming may be delayed, but the good and gracious LORD has arranged that she will come home with smiles.



A tribute to our mother, Lois Bauer Gurgel, written by my sister, Ruth Bernthal.

Mom did a lot of baking in her years as mother of nine and grandmother of many more, and I don’t think I ever saw her in the kitchen working without her apron tied around her waist. She didn’t take the chance of soiling her dress or blouse—no, out came the apron! It was her kitchen uniform, religiously donned.

Those aprons were many and varied. Some were the simple half apron, others were bibbed, some were fancy, others quite plain. I am sure she made quite a few from scraps of material left over from her other sewing projects—so the material they were made from was always interesting. But as varied as they were, one thing was common to them all—they each contained a pocket. Usually that pocket stored a hanky (in later years, a tissue). If one of us came in crying, out came the hanky to dry the tears; if we sniffled from a cold, out came the hanky; if the knee or elbow was bloody, out came the hanky. Or her pocket might contain other items: a bobby pin to keep back a few stray locks of hair, a coin or small stone she found in the pocket of an article of clothing while sorting laundry, a scrap of paper on which to write an item needed for her next shopping trip, or a clothespin from the laundry she hung on the line. Useful thing that pocket.

An apron served as protection for her clothing, but also it was very useful as a moving towel! Often her hands wiped the front of her apron to get rid of a bit of flour or sugar that escaped the mixing bowl. Or it was used to wipe her sweaty brow—those boiling kettles of beans or tomatoes or corn on the cob during canning season produced a terrific amount of heat. On those days I can still see her picking up the edges of the skirt and fanning herself for a minute to try to cool down before the next batch of vegetable was ready to be plopped into the kettle. Some of those aprons got a good work out before the day ended. But each day a fresh apron. If company stopped by, a second one came out of the drawer crisp and clean.

My mother’s aprons were useful for something else, too. It was one of the items we girls first learned to iron (along with our father’s many handkerchiefs). The long apron strings would be stretched out along the board and pressed carefully flat on both sides. Next came the waistband on the front, and finally the skirt itself. “Keep the pocket from gaping and watch out for your fingers” would be the instruction given. What article of clothing do young girls learn to iron first in this day and age? Has the iron been totally replaced? And speaking of firsts, I believe aprons were one of the first items of clothing we learned to sew. Long straight seams, squared off pocket corners, neat and tidy hems were the rules to produce a good working apron.

Oh yes, my mother’s aprons. They bring back good memories. I will have to dig out my stash of aprons and make them handy in my kitchen again in loving memory of my mother, Lois Gurgel.

(Note: The picture shows an apron Mother sewed and the machine on which she did it.)

My daughter announced an April resolution, in March. For the entire month of April she would use only what her sewing stash offered. No money would be spent on either fabric or notions. This rather rash, public declaration has compelled her into a series of UFOs- UnFinished Objects. The quilt in the picture is hers. It languished for the want of a binding. Beyond quilting, her UFOs included baby clothing. Bloomers which only required an elastic casing, and a sun hat that needed a bow and was given a contrasting band as well as a bow. The month is  half over. Her list continues.

I think, guiltily of my  own UFOs. I term them, UnFinished Projects. Granted, it is not as clever, but it does more accurately describe the build up of unfinished work beneath my sewing desk. Not only do they reside under the desk, but in various drawers and boxes throughout the house. A desk drawer contains two unfinished counted cross stitch projects. It becane difficult to see the small work and I have never made peace with a magnifying glass around my neck. I should try again. A box contains a stash of yarn with an afghan begun. It is a winter project, but I seem to forget it until spring.

The stack under the sewing desk contains several unfinished quilt tops. One needs only to be layered, tied and bound. I was not pleased with its construction and thus am not motivated to complete it for use. A seasonal set of novice level table runners wait for a button at each end. They were intended to be given as gifts. Because they required a minimum of effort, I am never satisfied to give them. I quilt a runner that is more intricate and put them away for another time. Another time arrives only to repeat the process.

One quilt top in particular tends to haunt me. It is a square about the size of a card table. It was given to me by a friend. It is a UFP of her late mother. At times it lies across the ironing board, or over the back of the couch. I wait for inspiration. Surely I can think of some unique setting in which to put this. My daughter’s plan inspired me to get it out again. It was returned to the bin when my other daughter requested aprons for a school play.

A line up of scrap booking projects takes precedence over UFPs. I  easily smother the guilt.  I am glad I no longer have children’s clothes crammed into a mending basket…box…large bag. The children cautioned each other, “Don’t give it to Mom to mend, you’ll never see it again.” Not quite true. Sometimes I got it mended in time to hand down to a younger child.

Pennants of prayer, the flags prance in the background. Strings of colorful bits of fabric ascend diagonally from ground to temple pinnacle. The photos suggest their ceaseless flap in the wind, or their slight flutter in the breath of a breeze. They are pinned with the mistaken belief that each tremor sends a prayer aloft. Though the photos are mute, to the photographer the sharp snap or whispered rustled is clearly heard. The wind carries the sound across the sky. It descends to the human ear, and ascends to disperse among the clouds. Unacknowledged by the hopeful Hindus, they bear no pleas or praise to an unseen being. The being is non-existent. Their effort, their time, their money is wasted on a useless gesture. They are simply vibrant decorations in an Asian landscape.

Kaylee has prayer flags. In contrast to useless gaudy pennants, these unseen prayers snap with confidence to the almighty, everlasting, living and listening, God. They whisper with hope on His eternal promise. Their pleas and praises do not evaporate in the atmosphere. From hearts of faith, the fellowship of believers has sent a multitude of prayers aloft. Assured they will be heard, they have flown from all parts of the nations, they have reached across oceans. They have ascended, translated by the Spirit, through the blood of Christ to the throne of a merciful Father. With a substance beyond bits of fabric, they have supported Kaylee, her parents and grandparents. They have extended comfort to aunts, uncles and cousins.

“Be careful for nothing’ but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4: 6-7

Not a plethora of vainly dithering triangles, but a bold banner under which to confidently live. This is Kaylee’s and each Christian’s triumphant prayer flag.

It is only a number, the quantity one more than 12, one less than 14. Beyond that fact 13 holds nothing to fea56fc435ba589b4cf300256b6r. Kaylee is many things. She is the daughter of Son Matt, born on Friday, the 13th of March. She is the daughter of Vanessa. She is grandchild #1 of Susan and Gary. She is grandchild # 13 of John and Debi. She is, through the waters of baptism and the Word, a lamb of God. Certainly not unlucky, Kaylee enjoys a multitude of blessings.

Not bad luck, but the consequences of sin, invaded Kaylee with a brain infection. Bad choice for the evil plot. Foiled again. Kaylee and her parents walk on the water of Jesus’ promise. “Lo, I am with you always.” The final outcome of her illness is indeterminable in the murk of the future. Even still, it cannot dim the glow of God’s mighty, merciful, loving hands. “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23

After Kaylee’s first surgery, Matt wrote this: “My personal feeling is that her brain has been affected by the infection, but in a way never seen before. One day she will be a super hero, and this is her origin story.”

My personal feeling is that some day, 6 year-old Kaylee will run wildly through the house while a dish towel cape flaps from her neck. She will jump from the furniture and shout, “Super Kaylee!” until Matt and Vanessa want to tell her to sit down and be quiet. They won’t.


This post was intended to be about jelly beans. Classic jelly beans,  not the offerings of spiced, Starburst, Jelly Belly or Harry Potter, but the real deal, the vibrant, honest tangy bursts of flavor scattered among the showier treats. I intended to hunt my memories for events from the ancient ages of my youth.

However, here is a smattering, in no particular order, of the Holy Week just experienced.  Vibrant and tangy, the events are flavored with the sweet message, “He is risen!”

Plans for departure advanced a day. In typical Wisconsin weather fashion, we were hurtling from springy temps of mid-sixties to a major snow storm.

Days with a two year old granddaughter. “Annie got this.” (Name pronounced ‘Onnie”. ) Sometimes yes, she did. Sometimes no.Maundy Thursday service and the Lord’s Supper at our son’s congregation. Precious words, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, ‘this is my body… ‘this is my blood,'”

Storm past, sunshine re-starts spring. Drive from son’s to daughter’s.IMG_0005

Baking, cookies, butter horns, concocting a jello salad with layers that never end. Ribs slowly cooking on the grill for 8-10 hours. Max, the dog, tortured by the succulent scents.

IMG_5931 Games, long soaks in the hot tub, keeping
track of the Sweet Sixteen, wonder as most grandparents do- “Just when did these babies turn into teens and near teens?”

Ultrasound pictures. “It’s a girl!”IMG_5888


The first in a series of e-mails. Newest 2 mo. old granddaughter is in the hospital. Requires brain surgery. Information flows to us. Matt flies back from India.

Easter morning. “He is Risen. He is Risen indeed” Tears of joyous emotion, tears of hope, tears of comfort, tears of prayer.

Understanding shoulders that don’t mind the wet.

Basket hunt, egg hunt, massive pan of scalloped potatoes and ham. Arrivals and departures. Lost key hunt. John meets Matt at O’Hare.

Milwaukee to Marshfield. A drive, ceaseless as the layers of the jello salad, through the tunnel of the night. The glow of the GPS as it vainly tries to redirect, plans new routes which are ignored. More road, more headlights, more night. Marshfield. Hospital. Motel.

Kaylee, Vanessa, Matt.

An unexpected visit from a former summer boarder. He’s a doctor? A surgeon? Should I have known? Did I know and forget?

Kaylee, Vanessa, Matt.

The vibrant tang and burst of sweet comfort.
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, for He is risen as He said!”



So it is February, but it is the Black Hills of South Dakota and the temperature is 73.  What are grown men, husbands and fathers, to do? Go cliff jumping of course at the infamous Hippie Hole. Forget the air temps, ignore the ice which floated on the pool into which the jump occurred, never mind  wet suits that did not cover the lower legs or feet, it was an adventure not to be missed. They came, they saw, they jumped, and lived to tell about it. The treacherous poison ivy of the summer struck also in February. One of the brothers reported an outbreak on his toe. But, hey, how many others have bragging rights like it?

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