Thursday, December 13, 2018

Currently ...

Reading ... I finished the New Testament last week, and decided to read the Psalms again. They're probably my favorite part of the Old Testament, and I'm taking my time with it, savoring each little morsel.
In fiction I have started the book I Capture the Castle. I haven't read much of it yet, but so far it has not disappointed.
In other books I'm loving the stack of Christmas cookbooks I borrowed from the library. I've found a number of recipes I'm looking forward to trying soon.
Then there's the stack of library books that Steven and I enjoy in our daily story time. Last week I picked up one of his favorites The Diary of a Wombat. He was excited to see it, but after reading it last night he announced sadly, "This book isn't as interesting as it used to be."
I almost felt sad as well. The book hasn't changed, but my little man is growing up and his interests are growing and changing with him.

Writing ... I wrote our Christmas letter, and completely bored myself with it. I usually write them in my style of chattering away, but this year I just did a quick "this is what happened this year to each of the children" type of letter.

Watching ... I went and deleted all the recorded Hallmark Christmas movies. There's only so much of them I can handle until it's too much for me. So instead of anything Christmas-y, last evening our family enjoyed a documentary type episode about abandoned places.

Listening ... to a play list YouTube created for me. It includes my favorite songs and songs they think I'll like. Because of that I've found some new to me songs I really like, and also some I don't care if I never hear again.

Cooking ... there's steak, fried potatoes, salad, and then Oatmeal Cake and peaches on the menu for tonight, because of a birthday and it's what the one celebrating has requested.

Wearing ... a brown and turquoise outfit. It's comfortable, which is one of the most important things when I choose what to wear.

Drinking ... mostly water, though this past week LV finally used his Starbucks gift card and we each got something to drink. It was our first time to ever visit a Starbucks. We enjoyed our drinks, but not enough that we're planning to go back.

Loving ... the glow of the lights on our Christmas tree when I plug it in after I get up in the morning.

Disliking ... when a mouse decides to move into the house. There's one that feels comfortable enough to run slowly through the house in broad daylight. We've seen it so often that the girls have named it Bella. They chose a girl name because it seems to have an affinity for chocolate and some other foods they love. We tried different kinds of traps, but nothing worked, so we finally put out some D-Con. Half of it has been eaten, and we haven't seen the mouse for several days. Surprisingly enough I feel bad about that.
Word of advice ... never name a rodent you're trying to eliminate.

Playing ... not exactly playing, but Steven absolutely loves science experiments which means I get to experience them as well. They're messy, and not my favorite thing, but the enthusiasm he has for it and getting to spend time together makes it worth it.

Yesterday ... we made our weekly library run and did a few other things out and about, which included stopping at a gas station to fuel up. I shared my experience on Facebook last evening ... I'll copy and paste it here.


    I have never liked getting gas for our vehicle. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but today I had to do it once again.
    I pulled into a dinky little gas station with a total of four pumps. After pumping gas I stood there waiting for my receipt to be printed. It didn't happen. Instead these words flashed across the screen. "Get receipt inside."
    I headed inside where two guys were visiting, one propped up against his broom handle and the other leaning comfortably against t...he counter. It took them a minute or so before they acknowledged me. "What can I do to help you?" the counter leaner asked.
    "I'd like a receipt for the gas I got," I told him.
    "What's your pump number?" he wanted to know.
    "I don't know," I said and gestured out the window where my vehicle and a blue pickup were at the pumps. "I'm the yellow car."
    Yellow car??!!!! Yellow car?!! I wanted to shrink out of sight as the words that apparently exited my lips reached my ears. "The silver vehicle," I corrected myself quickly.
    The guy gave me my receipt and I fled the building.
    This Mom brain … grief fog … is doing weird things.
    But really … yellow car???? Where did that even come from?

I post little blurbs on Facebook more frequently than I've been doing blog updates. If you'd like to see them feel free to send me a friend request here.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Christmas Cookie

I was five or six years old the year our neighbor lady asked our family to join them at their school for their children's annual Christmas program.

I didn't know what to expect, but with a name like Crystal Valley School, I knew it had to be very special.

That evening Rachel came by and we got into her big station wagon, and we were off. The program held my attention the entire time. The singing was lovely and I couldn't take my eyes off all those girls in their pretty red dresses. They all looked so happy as they sang in beautiful harmony. Later when others came on stage dressed as angels, complete with halos, my eyes started to hurt because I forgot to blink, not wanting to miss a single second of this wonderful evening.

When the program was over we were invited to stay and enjoy the refreshments. As we approached the tables laden with festive treats, I was sure I had never seen anything prettier. And then I saw it. A platter filled with beautifully decorated bell shaped cookies. Everything else on the table kind of vanished from my sight as I zeroed in on those. I wanted one, so badly. I might never be able to have a pretty red dress, or be an angel with a halo in a play, but I could have one of those beautiful cookies.

Mom got a little paper plate for me and offered to give me various treats, but I shook my head no to all of them. I was thrilled that there were still plenty of the bell shaped cookies left by the time the line had advanced far enough and they were right there in front of me.

"Are you sure you want one of these?" Mom asked as I made my request known.

I had never been more sure of anything, and soon one of those beautiful cookies was on my plate. I didn't take anything else, and carefully carried my plate as we made our way over to a table to sit and visit as we ate.

I admired the cookie for a little while and then I took a bite. I was bitterly disappointed. It was dry, hard, and almost flavorless.

To this day I avoid pretty cutout Christmas cookies, and I always, always remember that night. The wonder of the program, and the disappointment of how a cookie so beautiful could be so ugly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Seasons Feelings

I love winter and Christmas. There's something about this time of year that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Somehow it awakens my creative side and makes me want to craft, sew, and bake.

The snow while lovely to play in or look at from the warmth of our home is a little different when I have to be out and about.

I just got home from running some errands. It started snowing earlier today and the roads were getting decidedly more adventuresome by the time I got back home. There was a moment when I thought I'm going to head for the ditch, but somehow I was able to avoid that unwanted visit. It did get my heart rate up quite a bit though.

Hank the snowman is still standing guard in our yard, though he has become quite a bit shorter.


Being able to see the delight and wonder of the season through a child's eyes has been extra special to me this year.


The season feels different though. On one hand I'm enjoying getting all those fun season-y feelings, and on the other hand I almost feel guilty for feeling those Christmas-y wintery feelings.

Grief is such a … weird?? … (don't know what word I'm looking for here) thing.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Green Gables

The Anne of Green Gables series has been a favorite of mine since the first time I read them some twenty plus years ago. When I heard that someone wrote a book about Marilla's life before Anne, I knew I wanted to read it.

I put a request in at the library in hopes I can get it soon after it's released, and before long I was notified it was ready for me to pick up. I liked the cover, which made me feel hopeful that I will indeed, enjoy the book.



Settling in to read, it soon became apparent the author was no L. M. Montgomery. My first cringe happened at only page 16 where Marilla met her mother's twin sister for the first time. This was her reaction …

Marilla shrieked and jumped back, clutching her chest and accidently knocking over the box of yarn.

  ….. the sisters looked at each other, scowling  the same scowl, which made Marilla want to cry for terror.

I tried to ignore the unrealistic reaction and continued reading and enjoying the book. I found it oddly weird though when Marilla fell in love with John Blythe. Not because there was anything wrong with the story or the way it was written, but in that I was unable to fully connect or allow myself to fall with her, because I already knew (thanks to the Anne books) that the relationship would not lead to Marilla's happily ever after.

There was a scene that happened between Marilla and John, that made me feel uncomfortable. I read it with one eye squeezed shut and only peeked out of my other one as I hurried over that part.

There was quite a bit of political chatter happening in the latter half of the book which I didn't care for.

On the plus side, we finally find out what the fight was that caused them to go their separate ways, and Marilla's reaction when John married someone else.

I wasn't sure how there could possibly be a good end to the book, but the author pulled it off, and I actually really liked the ending.

Overall it was a good book. I didn't love it, but I did like it. I don't think I'll be buying my own copy though.

On the other hand, Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson was an excellent addition to my Green Gables collection. I really enjoyed reading about Anne's life before she was adopted, and knowing that she will have a happily ever after when she was sent to the orphanage gave the book an entirely different feel than the Marilla book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Moving On

Life goes on ... just how it does that is hard to explain, but somehow the sun continues to come up every morning and sets again every evening. People keep rushing hither and yon seemingly oblivious to the fact that my world has come to a halt. Which is as it should be, but it feels weird being stuck apart from the rest of the world almost as if I were in a different dimension where things don't feel right or normal. A dimension where a day can feel like a week, and a month like years, and yet the weekly grocery run feels as if it happens every other day.

Music ... even though I have always loved it, has become an almost constant.





My Bible and prayer times have become more precious as I draw strength, hope, and courage from our very source of life.

The phone can ring or a message alert on Facebook can pop up and for an instant I think it's Mahlon and then it hits me all over that will never happen again. I wipe my tears and reach out to others. I can no longer talk with Mahlon or do things for him, but I can pour time and love into the lives of others.

And so I keep doing the next thing. I keep focusing on the little things, cherishing those who I am blessed to still have in my life. And keep rejoicing that we serve a God who has conquered death and though it is painful right now, it's not the end of the story.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Bits and Pieces

   The calendar pages have been changed to the new month, so now instead of the giant dog in front of a little house I'm looking at a different but equally odd and disturbing picture. Sometimes I think it would be fun to be the person in charge of designing calendars and getting to choose only nice pictures to be included. 
~~~~~
   I'm using a new laptop ever since the one Mahlon gave me six years ago decided it will no longer work. This one has Windows 10. I'm trying to adjust, but I'm having a hard time with it. So far I haven't found anything good to say about it. What frustrates me the most though is that I can not transfer my Word program to this laptop. That means my writing has come to a screeching halt. I guess I'll have to go purchase the newest software and hope I'll be able to understand it.
~~~~~
   My reading has been sporadic the past month, but I'm excited about jumping into a new book. I had requested Marilla of Green Gables as soon as it was released and there was a copy at the library. The Anne series is still one of my all time favorites and I can't wait to learn more about Marilla. I've started the book and so far it has been great. I'm usually hesitant when other authors try writing about my favorite places and characters, but this book as well as Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson have not disappointed.
~~~~~
   I'm feeling Chritmas-y early this year. The 45 Day fruitcake cake is doing its thing on the kitchen counter. The girls and I have been preparing decorations to put up the day after Thanksgiving. I'm working on our plans for the 12 Days of Christmas celebration we want to do this year. 
~~~~~
    Of all the times I have been to the DMV I have found it to be a boring, quiet, air of desperation type of place. That is until this week when my favorite DMV experience happened.
    Rosie Mae took her driving test and passed, which meant time for posing for the picture for her license.
     The first picture turned out terrible. She burst out laughing when she saw it and the lady offered to take another one. Try two was a no go as well, followed by several more tries. She inserted typical Rosie Mae comments after each try. By the time she had her final picture taken the entire waiting room and staff was laughing.
    The atmosphere of that room was completely different when we left than it was when we arrived. People seemed happy and relaxed as they were going about the business they had come in to do.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Another Wedding

My friend Elizabeth was getting married and asked me to be a table waiter at their noon reception. I happily agreed and secretly looked forward to the evening when the boys and girls paired up. Several months had passed since LV and I had started our courtship and so far we had been able to keep it a secret. Appearing together at the wedding would let everyone else know we were a couple.

The morning of the wedding arrived. It was a beautiful fall day. The trees looked gorgeous decked out in their brilliant red, orange, and gold. Everything was covered in a heavy frost. Since the wedding was in one of the other church districts we had to start for church early. As LV and I rode to church I tried to soak in the beauty of the day and the happy feeling of sitting next to someone who made me feel so special. I didn't want to forget any of it.

Once we got to the church house I went inside to the little room where the rest of the the table waiters and others that were included in the wedding party were waiting for their cue to enter the main room. Church services passed as usual and immediately after they said their vows the table waiters left to go get everything ready by the time guests started arriving at the reception.

I was in charge of a room right next to where the bridal party was sitting. Throughout the day I couldn't help but notice how very happy Elizabeth looked and a little thrill went through me as I thought that someday that could be LV and me.

When evening came and all the youth arrived it was time for for the boys to choose which girl he would escort to the table. But first all the couples would go stand next to each other where they could then watch everyone else pair up. One by one the boys would come to the door where the girls were waiting and their girlfriend would go join them. When LV came to the door and I went to join him I was acutely aware of everyone whispering to each other as they discovered that there was a new couple in their midst. I could feel my cheeks getting too warm and knew that I was blushing. I did not want to look embarrassed and the more I tried to appear calm and happy the hotter my face felt.

Once everyone was paired up and we were told where to sit LV and I found ourselves sitting directly opposite from the bride and groom. As the evening progressed I was able to relax and enjoy it until I started getting the urge to sneeze. I managed to keep from sneezing but my suddenly runny nose wasn't as co-operative. I was glad when the meal was over and we were ready to go home. Unfortunately what should have been a very pleasant ride together I spent the majority of the time wiping my nose and trying to squelch my sneezing. I wrapped my shawl closer around me as I shivered all the way home. LV offered to let me wear his suit coat and gave his handkerchief to me to use. He didn't seem to mind being next to me even though it was obvious that I was getting sick.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Currently ...

Reading ... in the Bible I'm in the middle of reading II Corinthians. In other reading I have been enjoying story time with Steven and his stack of library books. I'm not reading any fiction at the moment. In non fiction I'm reading It's OK that You're NOT OK by Megan Devine.  I haven't read all of it yet, but so far it's a book I'd recommend to anyone dealing with grief.


Writing ... has been consisting mostly of text messages. I've tried to write other things, but the words and thoughts don't seem to be co-operating so I'm giving myself a short break until my mind begins to function properly again.

Watching ... not really much of anything. I've tried, but I've found at the end of what ever it is I tried to watch, I only saw bits and pieces of it.

Listening ... to uplifting music.

Cooking ... for tonight's supper we'll be having roasted butternut squash soup, and bruschetta.

Wearing ... my favorite charcoal gray skirt, a purple patterned top, and fuzzy  purple socks.

Drinking ... mostly water, and some garden mint tea.

Loving ... the three cute little snowmen Steven built from the almost inch of snow we woke up to yesterday.

Playing ... Does coloring count as playing? Steven and I have been coloring quite a bit the past week or so.

Needing ... to get our winter's supply of coal for our furnace. Right now our three heaters having been keeping the house nice, but it won't be long before we need the heat from our furnace to stay comfy cozy.

Crafting ... maybe not exactly a craft, but the girls and I varnished, sanded, and varnished a few more time, the shelves and desk Kenneth built for the girls room. Once everything was set up in their room we added a lace trim to the edge of the shelves, and new lace curtains at their windows. Their room looks completely transformed. They love it, and I do as well.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Little Things

When I went to the website that shared Mahlon's obituary I noticed they had the option to sign up for a daily grief support email. I went ahead and signed up. 

The first few emails that came, if they had been on paper I would have crumpled them up and thrown them in the trash. I seriously considered unsubscribing, but decided to give it a few more days.

I'm glad I did. While some days I like what they send a lot more than other days, none of them make me feel like throwing them away.

Today the email included this paragraph:

We spend a lot of our lives looking forward...forward to a vacation, a milestone, or even just the weekend. It is from loss that we realize that looking beside us is where we find the real joy. Our friends and loved ones are the people with whom we share our daily lives and with whom we build the most lasting memories. It is our shared morning coffee, a quick phone call or email, or watching a favorite tv show together that really defines the simple, yet most impactful joys of life. While the sadness of loss is startling, take it as an opportunity to look and see what is beside you now. Treasure those people and those mundane moments, for they are what really matter most. 

I have to agree. I want to continue treasuring the ordinary little things in life that have always meant so much to me already. And I'm so very glad for all those little ordinary things I used to do with my brother. Those are memories I'll treasure always. 

I had kept all our text messages and chats on Facebook. Last night I was reading through them, so thankful I never deleted them. They made me laugh, others made me cry, but all of them are treasured. 


Monday, October 15, 2018

First Date ~ Part Two

With the curtains closed I stood inside the sewing room door waiting until I hear LV's footsteps on the porch before I opened the door. For some reason I felt butterflies in my stomach as I waited. Before long I heard his footsteps and as I opened the door everything I had planned to say to welcome him inside left my mind. he looked so handsome standing there at the doorway. Behind him the sky was painted in one of the most beautiful summer sunsets I had ever seen.

I choked out a whispery little "Hi" and then stood there feeling awkward, as if I was huge and clumsy. Somehow I managed to invite him into the living room where we sat next to each other on the sofa. I was suddenly very aware of how quiet the house was and that Mom and Daddy were only a few feet away on the other side of the wall and with an open stairway I knew my brothers would be able to eavesdrop all they wanted to. Apparently my inability to talk above a whisper right away caught and before long we were lost in whispered conversation.

At 11 o'clock I happened to remember the pecan pie I had baked and asked him if he wanted a piece. After carefully carrying the lamp out to the kitchen I went to the pantry to get the pie. I got it off the top shelf and was horrified to see that some one had already eaten a piece. I didn't want to serve a pie with a piece missing so I quickly grabbed several dessert plates and cut two pieces of pie and served it that way. 

Before we knew it the clock was striking 12. Midnight had come much too soon and it was time for LV to leave. After saying good-bye he closed the door behind him and I quickly blew out the lamp and ran up to my room and looked out the window. With the full moon shining I watched him walk over our field and disappear into the woods.

As I got ready for bed I thought I was going to burst with happiness and looked forward to our next date.

Friday, October 12, 2018

First Date ~ Part One

For my seventeenth birthday Mom gave me enough fabric to make a new dress. It was a lovely jewel blue crepe and I couldn't wait to start sewing. Jewel blue was lighter than what could be worn to go to church but it would be fine to wear to go traveling or on a date. At the moment I wasn't too concerned about the traveling part.

As I worked on cutting and sewing my dress I couldn't wait to wear it for the first time when LV came calling several weeks later.

The Amish in Somerset County are only allowed to have a three hour long date every other Sunday evening on the Sunday that the boy's district didn't have church services. I was glad LV and I were both in the same church district which meant our dates would be on my inbetween Sunday too.

On Saturday afternoon I took special pains in baking the perfect pecan pie to serve. It turned out beautiful and I carefully placed it on the top shelf in the pantry out of reach of my hungry little brothers. I made sure that the house was spotless and placed several new rugs in the living room in front of the sofa. I brought my pretty lamp downstairs and set it on the end table.

Sunday morning arrived and I got up with a sense of eager anticipation. By mid morning Daddy suggested we all drive to the old train tunnel and have a fun day of hiking and then have a picnic beside the creek. I helped pack the picnic lunch but opted to stay at home and read and try to take a nap to make sure that I wouldn't be sleepy on our first date.

By late afternoon they came home happy and tired from their day of hiking. Mahlon had caught a little minnow and brought it home and happily put it in an old glass bowl filled with water and set it in the living room on the end table. I didn't want it there and determined to hide it in the laundry room once everyone else had gone to bed.

At eight o'clock Daddy announced it was time for to get ready for bed. I took special care in getting ready and then went downstairs to make sure that the fish got removed from the living room and then wait until nine o'clock when our date would begin. Mom and Daddy were still in the kitchen when I got there. Daddy got up from the chair he was sitting in and smiled at me as he said "It doesn't seem possible that our little baby is already old enough to be courted." Mom added that they hope I have a very nice time and then they headed for their bedroom and I was left in the kitchen alone.

It wasn't quite nine yet but everything was ready and I went ahead and closed all the curtains which was the preplanned signal for LV to know when it was safe to come into the house.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Memories

Memory after memory has been flooding my mind this past week of one of the kindest, most tender hearted young boys I have ever known. My brother Mahlon.

I don't have many pictures, but I treasure the ones I do have. In this picture Mahlon is nine years old. We were on a family vacation and he was waiting on the rest of the family as we were getting ready to walk through the Watkins Glen Gorge. Our driver took the picture and gave us a copy later.

At nine, Mahlon loved the outdoors and animals. Animals seemed to have a special connection with him. He could talk to them, and they'd listen, doing what he asked. Not only our farm animals, but wild animals as well.

One of our favorite Mahlon/animal memories are when we went out to the barn one day and a cat came in carrying a terrified chipmunk. Mahlon was horrified and told her to drop it right away, which she did. "Run, run," Mahlon yelled at the chipmunk, and run it did, straight toward him, up his pant legs, up over his coat, and with a final leap it perched on top of his hat where Mahlon guarded it safely before taking it outside and letting it go.

I can't help but think of the similarities between that happening and his life later on where he battled with some serious things, and how he is safe in the arms of Jesus now, and free from all that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Broken Hearted

On Saturday my life was forever changed when the phone call came to let us know my brother Mahlon had died.

We arrived home early this morning after attending his funeral yesterday. The reality of the finality of death seems to be sinking in hard right now, and I may need a few minutes to get back to regular blogging.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Remodeling

I was nearing my seventeenth birthday and the time was getting closer for LV and me to have our first date. Our house had never been a nice one but it had never bothered me up to this point. But knowing that LV would soon be coming to call on me all the obvious flaws of the house were glaringly magnified.

The drop ceiling tiles in the living room were stained and ugly, the windows were so old that looking through the glass made everything appear wavy. The trim and windowsills had paint worn off.

The little room at the top of the basement stairs between the living room and kitchen was horrible. The floor consisted of unfinished plywood with gaps between the sheets. Three of the walls were ancient gray two by fours and the fourth wall had lattice that was trying to hold in crumbling plaster that kept releasing little bits onto the floor. There was a a sizable hole in the floor along the edge that used to serve as my dustpan when I was nine and ten. There were nails pounded into one of the walls on which we hung all of our coats and boots were lined up neatly underneath. The door to the basement was white and orange striped and never latched.

The linoleum in the living was cracked and worn with several areas worn all the way through. The kitchen was better since it was a new addition but it had never been finished with trim around the windows or baseboard.

I knew I couldn't do anything about the little room except put a clean rug down in hopes it would distract from the cracks and try to hang a curtain of sorts to hide most of the walls and our coats. I asked Mom for permission to make curtains for the room. She didn't answer immediately but told me I could paint the woodwork in the living room and if I wanted to I could take the drop ceiling tiles down and paint them too.

I was happy to make any improvements and proceeded to take the tile down. Several hours later Daddy came into the living room to view my progress and then started to measure the little room. A little later a driver came and Daddy left with him.

When he came home that evening I was thrilled to see that he had bought things to transform the ugly little corner. Under his capable hands a closet emerged and the walls were covered with beautiful mahogany. The floor was fixed and new linoleum put down. I could hardly believe how something that had looked so awful for all these years was suddenly the nicest spot in the house.

We pulled out the old linoleum from the living room and were happy to find that over the years the previous owners used to lay new linoleum on top of the old without gluing it down or anything. The third layer was a soft golden brown in a pattern to make it look like a rug. It didn't appear to have much wear so we left it. With several coats of wax it became gleaming and with fresh paint on all the woodwork I was pleased with how the living room looked.

Daddy said the trim for the kitchen would have to wait a while yet, but I didn't mind. I was deeply grateful that he had taken time from his busy woodworking shop to make the house a little nicer before LV came for the first time.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Street Preacher

Fern was a gentle little horse and after Daddy drove her for a little while he pronounced her safe for me to drive to town on my own. 

One Monday morning in early fall Daddy and Mom had things that needed to be done in town. They asked John and me if we wanted to go and we jumped at the chance.

After John hitched Fern to the buggy we headed down the road to the little town of Meyersdale 10 miles away. We agreed that I could drive on the way in and he would drive on the way back. The drive in was short as we talked and enjoyed the scenery and each others company.

Once we got to town we tied Fern to the hitching rack that was situated close to the middle of town. 

We walked to the stores and then had to carry all our purchases back to the buggy before we went to the next store. On our last trip back to the buggy we were surprise to see a man standing on one of the nearby benches shouting something on top of his lungs. As we placed the groceries into the buggy we stood and listened to him for a while.

"You have to repent!" he yelled. "You have to accept Jesus as your Saviour and become saved!" he bellowed. "You are all on your way to hell!" he continued.  We untied Fern and sat in the buggy and watched him jump around on the bench and swing his arms wildly as he kept repeating his three lines over and over at the top of his lungs.

As we drove away I tried to repress a shudder. Somehow the day didn't seem quite as bright any longer. I was glad that I was Amish and didn't have to worry about what the bellowing man had been saying.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

1. Do you eat dinner at noon or for the evening meal or do you eat dinner and supper?

We have lunch at noon and supper for our evening meal. If the evening meal involves guests, or is fancier for some reason we will call it dinner.

2. Have your children attended an Amish church service and what do they think about it?

Our three oldest children used to attend Amish church services with us regularly before we left. Steven attended an Amish wedding with us this summer. Their wedding services are very similar to their regular church services. He didn't care for it.

3. I was wondering what happens, in the Amish community, when both parents die? Do they have a will or something in writing that makes their wishes known regarding their children and who they live with or what happens to them? If they had a lot of children, would they be able to stay together, or would they be split up?

If the parents had a will, and mentioned where they wish their children to live, people would try to honor that. If they died without a will other family members would step up to give the children a home, without splitting them up.

4.  My questions are about your children, who seem to enjoy learning and seem to be bright kids. Are any of them interested in college? If so, would you allow them to go? I have read about the Amish children taking time to explore the world before "settling down". Will your children do that? 

At this point, none of them seem interested in attending a traditional college. Kenneth is thinking about going the technical route to become certified in his field of interest. And yes, we will allow him to do so.

The whole thing about Amish children taking time to explore the world before settling down, is simply not true. Do some teenagers leave? Yes. But the parents are heartbroken. The church teaches against leaving the Amish. 

5. I wondered if money and time were not a factor, What country would you visit and why.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to visit Switzerland. Partly because of the book, Heidi, partly because of the scenery, and partly I'm sure because it is the land of my ancestors.

I would also love to be able to visit Israel. To see the places I have only ever heard about in the Bible. To walk the places where my precious Saviour walked, and see the river where he was baptized, and maybe take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

Random bit.

Rain, rain, and more rain. It makes for excellent puddles to jump in for Buddy, and keeps the waterfall thundering as it rushes the water in the creek on its way.

Yesterday Steven was standing by the window looking out at the pouring rain and said. "Mom, come look! Don't you love the way the raindrops dance on the road?"

Yes, yes I do!

And I also love that our children seem to have inherited my love of rainy days.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Lucy

Elmer and Lucy lived in a small addition to their son's farmhouse. They were a friendly older couple and every one enjoyed visits with them.

News spread fast through out the community. Lucy had been badly burned when she mistook a can of gas for kerosene when she was lighting their stove which had caused an explosion.

She was in the hospital but things didn't look good. A few days later news came that Lucy had passed away.

For the second time our district had to plan and prepare for a funeral. Daddy was still one of the men that had to help dig the grave by hand. And I again went to help with all the cleaning and food preparation.

Working at Elmer's house without hearing his laughter felt eerie and oppressive and I breathed a sigh of relief when evening came and it was time to go home.

On the day of the funeral I sat with my friends. As people started filing past the casket my stomach knotted when I saw Elmer sitting next to the casket, his shoulders shaking from silent sobs. I felt all choked up and wished for just one time people could break their solemn traditions and pause for a moment to say a few comforting words to Elmer but the lines of people kept on going and everyone peered into the casket for one last glimpse of Lucy but they all ignored Elmer sitting there next to her.

I shuddered as I thought that someday it could be me in that casket and the thought of people staring at me and ignoring my loved ones made me cringe. I was glad when the three seated buggy drove up to the porch and it was time for the girls who would be serving lunch to leave.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

1. Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity — running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in "the zone"?
I spent way too much time sitting here trying to think how to answer this, but I can't think of any activity I do that I get lost in. Probably because the house is never quiet long enough to give me an opportunity to do so. There are simple tasks I can do without really being aware that I'm doing them, such as peeling potatoes and kneading bread dough, but that's usually because I'm busy talking to one of the children, not simply wandering off in my imagination.

2. When it might hurt their feelings, how do you feel about telling your friends the truth?
I won't lie, but if it's not absolutely necessary I will avoid saying something that I know will hurt a friend's feelings even if it's the truth. Just because something is true, doesn't mean it has to be said.

3. Do you talk with your hands?
My hands seem to want to join the conversations I have. Quite uninvited. I haven't figured out how to get rid of that habit. Even worse though is how my face will contort in different ways to match the emotions, and facial expressions of who ever I'm listening to. Only it never looks as good on me as it did on the original person. I never realize I'm doing it though, and really, really wish I knew how to stop that!

4. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now?
Growing up we drank raw milk from our Jersey cow. It was the best!

Now, we buy our milk at the store, while I dream of the day when I can have my own little cow again.

5. What age do you wish you could permanently be?
Thirty is a pretty good age. Had I had the option I probably would have wanted to freeze time then assuming of course it would freeze for the entire family. Life is good, even though everyone keeps growing older.

6. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

I could answer this question, because there is one I get all the time, but I value friendships more and will answer what ever questions I receive. (Other than this one)

7. What do the Amish do to stay cool during the summer?

With out the option of using an air conditioner or a fan our bodies seemed to get used to the summer heat. We didn't do anything special to try to stay cool other than having the windows open and allowing the breeze to blow through the house.

8. Random bit.

Fall seems to have arrived here in our little corner of the world. The big maple tree in front of the house has already lost over half of its leaves, but it's been so wet that we haven't been able to keep them raked up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Communion

Two weeks after "ordnungs" church we once again packed our lunches and headed to church for another all day service. Once again they touched on all the sermon points that they had the previous service but after several hours they started with the birth and life of Jesus followed by his crucifixion and resurrection. At three o'clock it was finally time to to partake of communion.

The bishop read a part of scripture and asked everyone to stand while he blessed the bread. All the children sat down as the members remained standing and bishop walked from person to person breaking off a small piece of bread. As the member received it he/she would bend their knees slightly and sit down while placing the piece of bread in their mouth.

I used to enjoy watching everyone and felt a little nervous that I would now have to be a part of this important event. All the men got their piece of bread first then the boys and the women. I wished we girls wouldn't have had to stand there the longest with everyone watching.

Once they were finished with the bread the bishop returned to his seat and asked everyone to stand while he prayed a prayer of thanks for the bread we had received and blessed the grape juice. One of the ministers poured a big thick mug full of juice and the bishop took the first swallow and handed it to one of the ministers who took a swallow and then went from person to person giving everyone a swallow. The other minister would come and refill  the mug when ever it became empty.

By the time it was my turn the mug was all sticky and gross with multiple streams of juice that trickled down the side of the mug from all the people who had already had their swallow. I quickly took my swallow and handed the mug back as I sat down.

Once they were done with the grape juice everyone stood again while the minister read a little prayer of thanks. Then it was time to sing the last song and wash each others feet. The ministers brought in two pails for the men and boys while their wives brought in two more pails for the women and girls. Once the feet washing was done it was time to give Alms. One of the ministers would stand behind a door and everyone took turns going out and handing him a little bit of money.

My first communion was over and the bishop remarked that all those that had been recently baptized were now considered to truly be a full member now. I still didn't feel any different but I had enough other things to fill my thoughts that I pushed everything concerning church to the back of my mind.

Monday, September 17, 2018

"Ordnungs" Church

Two weeks after baptismal services the second annual special preparatory services were held. I had wondered what goes on at those services as far back as I could remember, but now that I was to be a part of it I viewed it with mixed emotions.

Several days earlier Mom had given me a short piece to memorize saying that I agreed with and supported all the doctrines of faith they shared with us and also all the rules that they (The bishop and ministers) decided to make and enforce. That I confessed I was weak and unworthy to partake of communion and if anyone sees something in my life that they are concerned about that they would tell me and I would, with God's help improve my walk in life.

I asked Mom what I should do if I don't agree with all the new rules they want to make and she informed me that a woman can never do anything except agree with what ever the ministers say. Men had the option to disagree but the only thing a woman could do in order not to lie and say they agree is to say that they will be satisfied however the church decides.

I found this to be a little disturbing and wondered why we were supposed to vote on issues if the bishop already controlled how all the women voted.

We packed our lunch to take along and eat at noon since church would last all day. 

Once church services were over all the members were asked to remain seated while everyone else was dismissed. Once all the children were outside and the doors to the main church room was closed the bishop rose and started talking. He again shared all the important points from the garden of Eden to when the Israelites finally entered Canaan. It took a long time for him to get through everything and I wondered why it was necessary especially since we had heard all of it earlier that day.

Once he got done with that he said it is now time to work with the church since they have quite a few things that need to be taken care of. To start off his list of things there were some changes made to what would no longer be accepted among farmers and then he said they realize that there are several people who don't have a farm and they want to strongly encourage everyone to not try to have something else as a main source of income. My stomach knotted up a little as I wondered what we were supposed to do with our woodworking shop. I glanced over at Daddy but his face was expressionless as he sat there listening. There were a lot of other things that they had decided would no longer be permitted and then it was time to address the things that concerned the womenfolk. There was something wrong with a few of the coverings that they didn't fit properly, they noticed that there were a few apron belts that were more than an inch wide, and they decided to no longer allow shoes with moc toes. I quickly tucked my feet under the bench where no one could see I was wearing those shoes, and had for every Sunday since I had been old enough to wear slippers.

By the time he got to the end of his long row of don'ts I felt hopelessly frustrated and irritated and I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into when I had made all those baptismal vows a few weeks earlier. The bishop continued and said that they expect all these things to be taken care of before communion in two weeks.

It was finally time to vote on the changes and the two ministers got up while the bishop sat down. The one minister went to the men's side of the church while the other one went to the women's side where he bent down so they could whisper their little memorized piece into his ear. It took quite a long time as they made their way to each person and everything in the church house was quiet except for the sound of low whispers and the ministers moving quietly along the rows of people.

As I waited for my turn I tried to decide which was worse. Leaving part of the piece out about how I agreed with everything or lying and saying I agreed. I decided I would not lie and by the time he got to me I hurried and whispered my piece omitting the part where I agreed with all the changes. 

On the way home I asked Daddy what we were going to do since we could no longer have a woodworking shop. I was relieved to hear that we would continue woodworking and that even Jesus had been a carpenters son.

I was glad ordnungs church was over and already dreaded the one that would come the next spring.