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Cheery greetings to everyone. This is Gloria’s Mom. With the holidays looming and her being a busy Mom, she could use some extra time to regroup and refresh so I will fill in for her this week.

It’s early morning, and I am having quiet time. Some of my favorite times in life are the times I rise early, make a cup of coffee, and relax with my Bible and journal. Somehow, it flows better with a pen and paper, to express my thoughts, or write prayers of Bible verses that are especially meaningful. The house is quiet, and God is near.

Almost always, I use my favorite mug, which is a mug from my sister Rhoda (who lives 400 miles away). It says, “Sisters – As sisters we will always be connected at the heart.” My favorite coffee is mixing a little bit of crème brulée flavored coffee with regular coffee.

This morning, my mind has also traveled to three days ago, when our daughter Anna Faith married Lucas Byler. (Anna Faith is one of Gloria’s “little sisters.”) There is something so special about a wedding, it’s something you can feel in the air! And when it’s your own daughter, it’s ultra-special, even though you know there are adjustments up ahead in your home. But we don’t view it as losing our daughter … we gain a son.

As the mom of the bride, life has been packed sometimes with food planning, organizing, and preparation. I do feel a deep relief that all that is past! At the same time, I look back to the wedding day, and literally just treasure the memories, holding them close to my heart. It was so, so, special to have family and friends come from near and far, and join us for the joyous occasion. For our culture, it was a “smallish” wedding, with somewhere around 275 guests.

Probably one of my best memories is all the singing. My mom, who is 83 years old, loves to sing, and that has been handed down to all us children. We sang and sang at the wedding. Five of Anna Faith’s friends surprised her at the reception, and sang a favorite song, which was touching. The last song that was sung was, “Somewhere in the Skies”… our ultimate goal! – to be with Jesus forever someday, beyond the skies!

Four couples were appointed to be our cooks (and there were several kitchen helpers) who did an excellent job with mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, and tossed salad. Plus, several of my husband David’s brothers grilled chicken early that morning. Then there were seasoned pretzels yet, ice cream cups, and yes, cupcakes! Most of those were placed on three-tier cupcake stands on the tables. There was also a coffee bar, with coffee, and hot water for hot chocolate or tea or spiced cider. All went well for the cooks except all at once they discovered that the one 100 cup coffee maker was not working, and it took a lot of coffee! They came up with Plan B, and it all worked out.

Instead of a separate bridal table, there was one big family table, including Lucas and Faith. It was 38 feet long, and 5 feet wide. (It took lots of rooms, because there were 52 of us Rabers and Bylers) Lucas and Faith sat in the middle, on one side. The two set of parents were privileged to sit beside them. I wish you could have seen Daniel and Gloria’s family, who of course, were included at the family table. Gloria and her girls had matching brand new wine dresses. And the boys had wine/reddish shirts. Our daughter Mary Grace had sewn dresses for Gloria and Julia (we all know that Gloria is such a busy mom!) But Hosanna wanted her own mom to sew her dress, smile. And oh, I wish you could have heard four-year-old Jesse’s clear voice singing, “Hallelujah, Thine The Glory.”

This week’s recipe — Amish Celebration Salad — is an easy, but delicious “Celebration Salad” which we love to make for special occasions and events.

AMISH CELEBRATION SALAD

Ingredients:

½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup fried bacon bits

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3 cups of corn chips

Dressing:

½ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup mayo

1½ cup vegetable oil

1½ cup sugar

½ cup prepared mustard

Directions:

Chop lettuce and put into a big bowl.

Add cranberries, bacon bits, and other ingredients, except corn chips.

Toss together.

Mix dressing ingredients.

Pour over salad, toss, and chill. Just before serving, toss in the corn chips for that great crunch!

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