How to Outsmart the Flu

Because I think you are all such nice people, and I would really hate to hear of you getting sick, I urge you to make your elderberry potions now before you get hit by the nasties.

I have blogged about this before. You can find my recipe for homemade Berry Well here, as well as links to sources to buy the ready made stuff. I looked for elderberries this summer, which is when they bloom like this:


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I actually found some at my father-in-law’s place when we visited them this fall, but the birds were ahead of me, and every ripe berry was carefully picked off. So I bought my freeze dried  berries online at Sunburst again. However, my sister’s sister-in-law was kind enough to tell me of a source that is really, incredibly, much cheaper. (Thanks, Beth.)

You can’t find their website since the Amish don’t have them, but this is such a delightful herbal supply store in Ohio. If you can wait for a mail order catalog, and then wait for them to process your order, the prices are well worth the time. If you live close by, you can step inside to rows and rows of aromatic herbs in gallon jars with the prices painstakinglymarked on the lids, and watch the fresh faced young girl carefully measure out your stuff into a little paper bag. I would haunt a store like that if we had one locally. 🙂 Ask for a catalog at:

Backyard Herbs and Flowers

8128 Maurer Rd, Apple Creek, Oh 44606

Now, for those of you still unconvinced that this stuff works, a story…

When we left for our extended trip this fall, I packed our usual first aid kit of stuff we would likely need, including Vitamin C, Vicks, and Elderberry Syrup. The children played outside in slightly damp weather for about 3 days, and I watched them closely, because every one of them is prone to croup in those conditions. Sure enough, they started sniffling and wheezing and running out of the noses. I dosed everyone with about a tablespoon of elderberry syrup three times a day, and it all cleared up, just like that. In two days, we didn’t even need tissues anymore. It isn’t just a flu fighter, but colds as well.

We have a child with a compromised immune system, a condition that we were warned would probably end up in emergency room visits every winter if the flu hits her. By the grace of God and, I am convinced, the immunity builders in elderberry, she has not been in the ER once in six years.

Try it! It is the one potion I wouldn’t want to live without in flu season. Dose up as soon as the very first little itty bitty germ manifests itself. See what happens. 🙂 You can thank me later.

*Dorcas steps delicately off her slightly rickety soap box.*

“Earth’s Crammed with Heaven…”

My posts on dreams kept veering off in a different direction than I wanted them to go. I am unhappy with that, and I remember now why I scrapped writing about it earlier. The subject is too vast, our lives are so varied… And what if we are just plain lazy, so our dreams stay only in a nebulous section of our lives titled “Impossible”? The more I thought about all these qualifiers, the worse it got, until I was too muddled to remember where I actually wanted to go in the first place. Maybe it was because I wrote in third person. You can blame E.B.White for that. He said it is bad style for writers to constantly refer to themselves. “To air one’s views gratuitously is to imply that the demand for them is brisk…” What would he say to bloggers?

But I have thought about it, and I have come back again to what I really wanted to say. Assuming we are talking about children of God here, those who earnestly wish to please him with their lives, especially those who want to change the world, make a difference, share the Gospel…there is much heartfelt desire behind all the cliches. Most times the grand dreams spring up when we are young, inexperienced, but feeling at our core that we should do something. Many of my friends and I did just enough travel, short term missions, volunteer work, that we could never just comfortably sit and claim blissful ignorance about all the things that need to be done. This is a good thing. We have been richer all our lives for the interaction with other cultures and countries. We cannot live a casual American dream without being pricked in our conscience. We understand better the urgency of living counter-culture in an incredibly selfish society. And almost all of us still live right here in America. What is up with that?

This is where I ran into trouble, comparing the ordinariness of my life (sorry, E.B. White, but here we go again) with what I thought would be a better way/place to live it. I had two little boys when I went through this joyless tunnel. “I just feel so stuck, so unproductive,” I would sob to my husband, as I peered down the vista of years of diapers and interruptions and needy, needy people. It was a little difficult for him to understand why I felt like I wasn’t “doing anything.” (This begs the question, what was I thinking it would be like in an orphanage? Had I so soon forgotten the neediness of my school students?)

Quietly, kindly, God showed me a flaw in my youthful dreams, a streak of self-aggrandizement that was going to produce only ugliness. He showed me that I loved projects, neatly finished up and displayed with a happy, “I made this.” My children were not projects, they were people: real, needy, little people. This life, this very place where I was living was His Best for me, and all He was asking of me was faithfulness, the same as if I lived in Mongolia or Malawi. I learned to offer up each task, no matter how menial, to Jesus. It started to sink in, the amazing truth that no offering is too small to please Him, no place too quiet or hidden for Him to see. I learned to simply “do the next thing” in Elisabeth Elliot’s words, but I also found, to my astonishment, that nothing is wasted.

Guess what, the joy was back in life, the sun was shining again!  The people were still needing diaper changes and clean clothes and food and endless training and every. day. dying. to. self. I was living my dream, not the way I had imagined, but the way God planned.

That teen- age ideal of living like Hudson Taylor, waiting on God to supply our needs? Well, three years of back-to-school for the family bread winner may have qualified for that one. It was very, very good for us. The dream of going to college for writing and English classes? I don’t know whether that will ever happen, but technology has brought us the blog and such nice readers like you. 🙂 Learning to read Greek/Latin? Not going to happen. Ever. I am not going to tell you the rest of my dreams. You might laugh. 😛

I am not very old, but I have enough years under my belt to see the unmistakable traces of God, directing my way. In the words of one of my favorite poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

And only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”



Overheard at my House

The 4 year old: I feel deep down in my heart that I am a big girl.

Little A: But, Mama, I already went potty… last week!

G: I tell you, Alex, skunks are not related in any way to civets!

A: So why do they have musk glands?

G: I don’t know, but I read it in the encyclopedia! No matter what anybody says!

O. haltingly sounding out: The… bad… pig… sat… on… the… cat. Hahahaha.

R. out of the blue: You know what? I am gonna be true to the end!

Me: True to what?

R: To God, of course!

Two little girls looking at an American Girl doll catalog: We will probably never get dolls like this…But sometimes when little girls don’t beg and just be sweet, they get what they want for Christmas.

R. dreamily: There must be something inside us, like in our hearts, that makes us just love things.

G: If anybody ever says they want a female cat, we could just tell them our story.

Me: I love my life!

Dream On

We humans seem prone to disdain the familiar and long for the sparkle and delight of the stars. Yet I have never met a single person over 30 who says that their life has turned out just exactly the way they dreamed it would when they were teens. We pretty much all end up having to work, do some stuff we don’t really enjoy, be faithful in the minutiae of life. You know, grow up.

I am not suggesting that we give up on dreaming. People without dreams are sort of walking dead. (“Without vision, the people perish.”) Those who dare to dream and work toward what they long to do are those who achieve great things.

Did you ever notice how many people have long periods of waiting in seeming obscurity before they are able to realize their dream? There was a prince, with his high education as a royal in Egypt, who took high-handed action to save his people and ended up fleeing to the wilderness to stay alive. For forty years he was “lost”. I have a hunch he thought many times that seeing his people freed from slavery was only a pipe dream.

One of my more recent favorite stories is of Grandma Moses, who showed artistic promise when she was just a child. Then life got so busy and full of serving her family that she didn’t pick up brushes and paints until she was 78 years old. But then- Wow! She painted nearly 1600 pieces before she died at age 101.

I don’t understand God’s timeline, and I certainly cannot assure you that your dreams will come true. So when the doors don’t open, the plans fall through, the sickness is not healed, the spouse never materializes, the travel visa gets snarled in red tape… what then? Solomon said this: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Sometimes there is not a shred of evidence that the thing longed for will ever become reality.  We can choose to accept the present as a gift (pun intended), as the Best, right now, from a loving Providence. He gives joy instead of heart sickness.

Dream on, my friends, and believe that your times are in His hands!


Ordinary, Infused with Everlasting

So when she was single, the girl didn’t dream much about ordinary things. The thing about dreams is that they are wonderful. In them, she was the heroine. She was visible. She was on top, making a difference, feeling fulfilled. She didn’t think so much of dirty, gritty details like insufficient toilet facilities and sickness in missionary families far from good medical care. She didn’t dream of difficulties; she dreamed of adventure and achievement. Of course, she reserved a very private place where she dreamed of the love of a good man and the security of marriage. To her amazement, she really did get that love and marriage (and the babies, and the baby carriage)! Wow. Things settled into a somewhat frantic routine of not neglecting the thing that was right in front of her. There really was not a lot of time for a head in the clouds.

She was sort of a hard learner, and it took a while for her to “get it” that as a married woman, there would be glory in the meld of her dreams with her husband’s dreams. Her role was cast by God as a supporting role, a helper without whom her husband would be a bit disabled. 🙂 With the years and a good bit of trial and error, she came to understand that it was a wonderful place, a privilege to stand behind her man, to help him achieve his dreams. I am not suggesting that she was on such an exalted plane that she never whined, “But, what about Me?”

Here is what she wishes she had known all along. The happy woman keeps her dreams portable. There is only frustration and unloveliness in doggedly trying to make things happen the way she thinks they should happen.

Life is seasons. There may come a time for some of the obscure dreams to become reality. But for now, she is free to revel in the everyday, sometimes camouflaged goodness that is given. I have learned something from that girl. (Work with me here. Pretend you don’t see through that third person thing. 🙂 ) Just because living is lots of sameness and hard work doesn’t mean it is not valuable. The things which endure grow out of the ordinary. 



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…. I am not done yet…

Girls With Dreams


(forwallpaper dot com)

Sometimes the oddest things bring up a blog post. This morning’s trigger was when I sent my man out the door, early, with coffee and an Advanced Trauma Life Support textbook for a class at the Altoona Trauma Center. Suddenly I remembered a post I struggled and struggled to write, and finally ditched this spring. Here it is again, trying to get out, so I will give it another shot.

“Do you married women dream?” a sweet young lady asked me after a discussion on life choices/destiny. “Of course,” I said, although I can only speak for myself and the few friends I cornered for my unofficial survey. Consensus: Our husbands dream. We go along for the ride. 🙂 If you think that is impossibly restricting, stay with me. I am not done yet.

Not so very long ago, the larger percentage of the female population dreamed of marriage, homes, children. There were very few respectable options available, unless they wanted to be governesses. A hundred years later the world is wide open for women to travel without chaperones, pursue degrees, buy their own homes, etc. The modern barrage of choices can be downright bewildering, especially considering that it is inappropriate for a girl to initiate the fulfillment of the dream for a husband. (Yup, I am that old fashioned.)

Women in the Congo dream about owning a sewing machine so they can get out of a life of prostitution. Haitian women dream of having enough food so they don’t have to give their babies away. Young girls in Afghanistan dream of becoming teachers so that they can teach other young girls in the remoter villages where there are no female teachers. I am afraid a lot of American girls dream about being thin super star actors. Our dreams are as varied as our lives.

I am going to have to zoom way, way in to one aspect. Let’s bring this subject down just to girls who want to honor God, who have noble aspirations. How should they dream, when should they pursue their dreams, and what about if they get sidetracked? I am sorry, I don’t know all those things.

But I do know a girl who was absolutely sure she was going to be a missionary (or a missionary’s wife… how romantic…). Her cherished dream was to work in an orphanage, to rescue and love children who were scrapped by everybody else (how fulfilling). She also hoped to continue her education (what fun). She traveled enough to see how vast the world is, how unending the needs. Then she proceeded to foster one little baby, teach school to well-adjusted, secure little church children, and she fell in love with  her co-teacher and married him (how predictable 😛 ). She had babies, she stayed home with the babies, and she kept house. Hey, what are you looking at? Oh, you think you recognize her? Well, maybe you do.

Sometimes after she had spent a day of nurturing babies and preparing good food for her husband, she would think about her orphanage dream and wonder where it had come from. Where had it gone? And when her life felt narrow and restricted she would wonder for a few fleeting seconds if she had chosen the wrong path? Oh, she loved her husband and her children fanatically, but it felt so… ordinary?

…to be continued…

Open Letter to an iPad Thief


I wonder if you knew that when my husband (your loved one’s nurse) stopped by and laid an iPad on the bed, he was at the end of a long night shift, just ready to head out the door. He saw that your loved one was uncomfortable, so he had the compassion to come in and try to fix things up for him. That is when he forgot to pick up his device (which he “never” takes along to work) and you saw your opportunity. After he left, the other nurses asked if the iPad on the bed belonged to you, and you said it did. It got packed in with your belongings, and you just had yourself a freebie. I know it was a big temptation, but they gave you the chance to be honest. I am sorry you weren’t.

The funny thing is, that particular first generation iPad isn’t really very valuable anymore. Three years is a long time in the evolving world of technology. If you are interested in knowing what you stole, here is what it is to us, not in dollars, but in value.

You should try the Bugs and Buttons app. My 2 year old really loved counting buttons and sorting colors during her quiet time on the couch. There is a whole folder of pictures that our four-year-old drew and colored on her favorite app. She would tell you to try Monkey Math, where you trace numbers and count objects, as well. Have you seen that one yet? Our older children don’t really mind not having to do flash cards, but they had a lot of really good audiobooks and music on there for road trips. The boys especially wish they could still use the iPad to hunt deer when they have earned enough privileges on their job chart.

As for me, what you stole was my homeschool tutor and my all around helper. I had a lot of books on that shelf, books I highly prized. There is one I especially recommend to you, titled Don’t Waste Your Life. That iPad was also my recipe book, my contacts list, my connection to the world outside my house. Did you know that you stole my Bible? I miss that more than anything, because it was the one I used to study, underline, and  note.

For a few days we kept hoping it would show up, someone would bring it to lost and found, etc. When my husband called you and courteously asked you if you had any idea where his iPad is, you had no idea. In fact, you hadn’t seen it. I bet you were a little surprised that we knew exactly who you were. Maybe you just knew we were the sort of people who would not press charges.  I scrambled to change passwords on all the stuff I always left open in my bookmarks bar. We haven’t quite figured out a way to log out of everything remotely. I suppose if you are smart enough to disable the tracking setting, you know better than to incriminate yourself with funny business on our Amazon account. At any rate, we would love to have it back, but we will be okay. No doubt every one will adapt to how life was three years ago before it got so handy-dandy.

I hope you enjoy. Oh, and do check out the Bible app. It is amazing.

Sincerely, the Peights

Ten Ways to Value the Small People




  1. Get onto their level when you talk. That means, bend down or lift them up. Just because they are short doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be courteous.
  2. Really look at their artworks and treasures. Even if it is the fifth rainbow scene they have drawn that day. (And wait to dispose of the extras until they are sound asleep.)
  3. Pay attention to what they say. One of my sons is long winded on subjects like rocks and fossils. I confess, I tend to glaze over as soon as he starts. But I don’t know of a better way to get to know your child than to let them talk while you listen.
  4. Let them hang out with you, even when they are a dreadful nuisance. When Alex was a tot, he was literally always at my side, trying to help. He didn’t play with toys, and I was constantly tripping over him and cleaning up his messes. Tonight he made hamburger buns from scratch and grilled the burgers and cooked the green beans for our supper. It was more like he was tripping over me in my attempts to give him a hand. He felt quite accomplished and I was so proud of him.
  5. Know their interests, provide them with resources, and find books at the library to drag home. 🙂 For us, that usually means a stack of Zoobooks for the science trivia lover, a few wilderness survival books/make your own handicrafts for the hands-on boy, some American Girl stories for the six year old, and a pile of storybooks. I have a friend who spends hours sewing costumes for her children so that they can participate in living history projects.
  6. Take time to teach them what they want to learn. Today my Livvy sewed her first wobbly hand stitched seam around a pillow for her doll. I didn’t think I had time to teach her, but her wistful face reproached me, and it turned out to be a lot fewer knots than I expected.
  7. Hear what they are saying behind the tears. For my small tots it often just means, “Please,  feed me and put me to bed!” With my older children, it is becoming a bit more complicated, “But they will laugh at me if you cut my hair like that.” Sigh. Good bye, cute little-boy mop-top.
  8. Play with them. Our house is too tight for “panther in the bull pen”, but we play peek around the corner and hide and seek outside. Inside is Pictionary or Sorry or Candy land, and oh, dear Lord, not Memory again!
  9. Give them the security of boundaries. Nothing looks quite as neglectful to me as a child who is left completely to his own devices. He doesn’t even matter enough for the adults in his life to bother to guide him.
  10. Laugh with them. Sometimes when everyone is pulling me this way and that, needy, needy, and I start fraying at the edges, we all crowd around the computer and do silly web cam shots. We howl uproariously and everybody likes everybody else again.

I just reread my list and am feeling convicted. I know this stuff, but it is so easy to push aside the children while the big, important adult world gets its demands met. I am looking a bit dolefully at a long winter in a little house with enough energy pent up to fuel a spaceship. I am going to be tested, oh yes. I need these reminders so much.

I want to give a bow to all those people who make my children feel special. Maybe you are the Sunday school teacher that genuinely takes an interest in your little charges. Thank you for the time you brought hot chocolate and donuts for your class. Maybe you are the man who never forgets to bring smarties to share with your little friends after church. (Hi, Steve.)  Or perhaps you are the adult who knows all their names and asks them how they are doing. Maybe you taught them some new games, or helped them bat the ball at the school picnic instead of going off with the big people to play your own game. You noticed them struggling to reach the water fountain and gave them a boost. My children know who you are, and so does God. He even said something about it, about not losing a reward just for giving a drink of cold water. Thank you!