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"We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven." — K. Nafziger

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New Year’s Eve at Starrywood

Hello from Starrywood! It’s New Year’s Eve, and we’ve got crazy warm weather.

It’s my first blog post from Harrisonburg, Virginia, so here’s today’s beauty from our new home.

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That’s us!

Since I’m running short on blogging time until this weekend, I’ll just let Brian do the talking…

Yoder family exchanges Chicago suburbs for life at Laurelvilleyoder family

You’ll note that we’re all wearing our Laurelville t-shirts!

A new blog look

I really loved my old banner images…

Middle Daughter made the sign, and the pictures were taken in our yard in Illinois. The gate was propped open and the message was right on target. I wrote about the story behind her sign back in early July 2009.

But since our family has left Illinois for the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, I decided that it was time to try out a new look for my blog. I took this picture a few years ago at Laurelville…

Laurelville creek

I’ve used it frequently as a desktop image for my computer, and I thought it would be a good one for the blog as our family settles into our new home.

I’ve changed my WordPress theme to “Twenty Eleven“. I’ll play with it for a few weeks and see how it works out.

Ten days later

When last I wrote, I was shutting down my work computer in Illinois. Now I’m getting things rolling in Pennsylvania. In the last ten days…

  • I panicked when I thought that I couldn’t get all of our remaining belongings into my car in order to move them with me from IL to PA. Then I had to do a little extra “persuading”. A few rolls of toilet paper were sacrificed.
  • I was glad to lead singing during worship on my last Sunday at Lombard Mennonite Church. We celebrated two baptisms and communion, and the women who were baptized chose the songs. I started my trip east after lunch at the church.
  • On the way east, I stopped for the night with my in-laws in Goshen. I got there just in time for grilled pizza and pie. Good timing.
  • Last Monday, my brother-in-law and I made the trip from Goshen to Laurelville, arriving in time for supper. My girls were so excited to see me after three weeks that I couldn’t park my car – they were in the way.
  • A week ago was supposed to be a day of rest, acclimation, and unpacking. Alas – one can never overestimate the time it will take to get a new driver’s license.
  • At work, I’ve had a week of new-hire paperwork, orientation, and hosting. I was reminded people come to Laurelville eager to meet God. Sometimes, a fully stocked fire pit enables this to happen. And helping people to meet God is one of the reasons I wanted to come here.
  • I’ve cleaned up chairs, checked trails, and started fires with my girls. Another reason for loving this job.
  • On Sunday, I had enough time off to go to Scottdale Mennonite Church for the first time. It was nice to see old friends and meet new people. We’re looking forward to being involved… but maybe after a little time to get to know the congregation.
  • Ordinary (yet Amazing) Spouse has set up our home internet, and I’m finally updating my blog on my first day off. (The work schedule will be full for the first month, since we’re going to the Wild Goose Festival in a week, and I don’t have vacation time built up yet.)

It’s been a jam-packed ten days. At times I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning in information overload. But I’m so thankful to be here now.

A tale of two blog posts

Earlier this month, I had a new blog post take over the top spot for “total hits”. Here is a plot of the hits for the top two over time…

Top blog posts

The long-time front-runner was published back in November of 2010. You can see that it shot up to about 300 hits through the end of the year. Then it leveled off through most of 2011, before recording another 200 hits or so at the end of that year. Now in 2012, it has leveled off again.

The other post was published just over a year ago in May 2011. It had a modest showing through the summer before picking up the pace and consistently gaining ground on the front-runner. Finally on May 4th, it had accumulated enough views to put it into the #1 spot.

So what were these posts, and why such different behavior?

Well – the former leader (in red) is easy enough to explain. It’s a post with images that I created for Advent. When that time of the Church liturgical calendar arrives, people start searching for things to put on their bulletin covers. Voila! Hits on that post.

The new leader (in blue) is a post about my DVT. It gets hits mostly because there seems to be a constant stream of people interested in both the causes of DVTs and the picture of the human circulatory system (which is borrowed from Wikipedia). It’s popularity still surprises me, but it is fairly consistent in receiving two or three hits per day.

At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any other post that could overtake the current leader. Maybe I should start getting controversial!

What am I thinking?!?!

I believe that I’ve just entered a midlife crisis, but Ordinary Spouse says that’s ok, as long as I’m honest about it.

Say what?

Read on…


My occasional readers will know that faith is a constant struggle for me. Over on my ‘About‘ page, I say this…

I’m trying to be a disciple of Jesus. Really trying. But I’m not always successful, and I have a hard time reconciling my suburban middle-class life with my faith.

And roughly two years ago, I wrote this…

On a typical work day, I begin my morning in my house in suburbia, safely isolated from the world’s pains. At the appropriate time, my garage door goes up, I pull out in my car, close the door remotely, and drive to work. Once at work, I show my ID to a guard at the guardhouse, and drive through the gate and into a fenced-off research campus. I carry out this process in reverse when it is time to go home, and I tuck myself safely into the garage once more. Everything is clean and sterile. Not once do I have to deal with anyone else’s reality. For all I know, the whole world is middle class.

To be honest, I don’t know how to live with this.

I have often described my struggle by saying that my faith and work don’t really communicate with one another. It’s not that they’re in opposition to one another. They just don’t connect. I like my work. I’m doing precisely what I’ve been trained to do. But I’m not passionate about it.


So what am I passionate about?

Hospitality.

For a while, I’ve found that focusing on hospitality has served as a guide to me. It doesn’t necessarily tell me where I’m going, but it does serve as a standard by which I can discern my way. And what is hospitality? As I’ve come to define it…

Hospitality is opening up a safe space for each of us to be authentically ourselves, and in that space to encounter God.

But what does that have to do with a midlife crisis…?


Sometime in the past year during one of our family’s trips to Laurelville, I told Ordinary Spouse that I’d probably enjoy working as their host. (The host welcomes guests and is generally on-call to help with any needs that arise.) “If that job ever opens up, I’d like to apply for it.”

Well – it opened up sooner than I expected. About four weeks ago, I saw it posted on Laurelville’s website. And even though I was fairly certain that there were too many obstacles in the way, I sent in my application.

Evidently, Laurelville was as interested in the possibilities as I was, and after three weeks of discussions I accepted a job offer last Friday.

I’m giving up well-paying job doing exactly what I was trained to do. I may or may not be over-qualified for what I’ll do now. But it’s a rather drastic break with the past and an entirely new direction in life.

This makes no sense to lots of people – especially the ones that I work with. Sometimes, it doesn’t even make sense to me.


I’m writing this just before I publish this blog post. As I was proof-reading things, I realized that parts of this post might sound pretty bleak. And that is precisely what I’m not feeling right now. In fact, I’m feeling energized by just about everything (with the possible exception of trying to sell our house).

And yet, the last four weeks just leaves me shaking my head and trying to catch my breath. I hope to do some more reflecting on all of this in the coming days, but this post is already too long and our family has already started to vigorously prepare for the move. I’ll be working at Argonne through the end of May and will be working at Laurelville by mid-June.

Since the beginning of my blog, my angst regarding middle-class life in the suburbs has been a recurring theme. I wonder what happens now.

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