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Thursday, January 11, 2018


I don't spend much time thinking about fashions and clothes. I don't know what designer clothes are in style. But I do know rich and famous people wear things created especially for them that cost thousands of dollars. They take great pride in what they wear and would not wear the same thing twice in public. Being as ignorant as I am of such things, Google helped me compile this list of clothes worn by some of our American First Ladies.
  • A $2,190 Roksanda "Margot" dress from Net-a-Porter paired with $675 Christian Louboutin heels.
  • A $995 cobalt-blue dress made by Siriano and silver Jimmy Choo heels that cost $675.
  • A $51,500 Dolce & Gabbana jacket and bag that cost $1,630.
  • A $1,150 pair of Rene Caovilla sandals.
  • A $540 pair of Lanvin sneakers.
  • A $188 J. Crew sweater. 
  • A Hermes Birkin bag estimated to cost $13,000. 
  • A Michael Kors black blazer that cost $5,000 and a matching skirt priced at $4,600.

The average American woman can't afford these kind of clothes. But there are many who would pay extra for a garment that has a designer label sewed on it even if it is identical to a cheaper one that has no label. That is the mindset of the society we live in.

Now Mennonite women are a subculture and have a different mindset. We would never spend  $675 for a pair of shoes or $13,000 for a handbag. We buy used and shop at thrift stores because we are interested in how much we can save. Last evening I complimented a friend on the pretty sweater she was wearing and she promptly told me she got it at the Salvation Army store. I don't think she meant it as bragging but it made me wonder if we aren't as guilty of pride as the rich and famous. "Look what I got and it was only -----." We can almost make a sport of thrift store shopping and brag about our bargains.
We Mennonites have our own styles and fashions. I appreciate the long dresses our young women are wearing. It certainly is a lot better than the short tight skirts that were in style when I was a teenager. But when the skirts went down to the floor I made a conscious decision not to follow. I do make my skirts longer than I used to but they are not floor or ankle length. I'll tell you why. I  have lived long enough to see styles come and go and wondered from the start what will happen when short skirts come back in style. If I was going to make my skirts ankle length, then they would have to stay there when the style changed. Guess what! Skirts are getting short and tight again and, just like I thought, fashion-conscious Mennonite girls are beginning to wear shorter skirts.
I am aware that dressing in layers is now the way to go. The younger women will wear one or two tops over their dresses. Even in summer when it's hot, they wouldn't dream of going without some kind of top over the dress. It reminds me of a line from Little Women where one of the girls was torturing herself to get ready for a party, "let us be elegant or die!" I'll wear a sweater when I need one to be warm but I'm fashion-free of tops and comfortable in the summer.
About a month ago the women at sewing circle said collars are coming back in style in our circles. Coming back? I didn't know they went out of style. A young girl had asked where she could get a collar pattern and they told her to ask her grandma. Really? I don't always put collars on my dresses but have never stopped using my collar patterns. But the next Sunday I looked around the Sunday school class and guess what! Nobody had a collar on their dress. Am I going to stop wearing my dresses with collars? Nope. I don't care if nobody else does. I'm much too tight to put dresses away that are still good.
I am hopelessly out of style and I don't care. I dress the way I do because that's how I want to dress. I wear a bandanna in the winter because I tend to get a sore throat if I don't cover my ears. A couple weeks ago I was putting my bandanna on at church and a preschool girl asked, "What is that?" She didn't know because nobody wears bandannas anymore. Does that bother me? Nope. I don't care what anybody thinks. I'm the one who will suffer if I get a sore throat. Out of style or not, I'm wearing my bandanna. When you're almost a great-grandma you can be dowdy if you want to. That's one of the perks that comes with age. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We Have An Altar

Our Winter Bible School started last evening. For years, it was every Tuesday and Thursday night for five weeks. Last year it was changed to every Wednesday night but stretched out over a longer period of eight weeks. That is nicer for families with school children. I well remember the hassle of getting a family ready to go. Living in a one-bathroom house, they had to start going through as soon as they got home from school. We rarely missed a night. Looking back, I wonder now how we did it. Now that we only have two people to get ready, going two nights a week would not be a problem. 
The subject last night was "We Have An Altar." The speaker began in Deuteronomy 27 where Moses  gave the children of Israel God's instructions to build an altar after they entered the promised land. It was to be made of whole stones that had not been touched with an iron tool. The outside was to be plastered so the law could be written on it. Joshua 8 tells how this was done exactly as God had told Moses.
The altar was built of whole stones and inscribed with the law (or Ten Commandments) which distinguished it from the altars of the heathen. The appearance of the altar was a reminder of separation from the heathen and the law was the basis of their covenant relationship with God. In the New Testament, Christians are also called to separation from the world. The Word of God is the basis of our belief and the new covenant in Christ.
The altar Joshua built was used to offer sacrifices. These were only a temporary fix until the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Hebrews 13:10 says "we have an altar" in Christ that far surpasses Joshua's altar. It is for all people of all times. 
Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary, but Christians also need to offer sacrifices to God. These are two basic categories. 
1. Our lives (Romans 12:1). The problem with a living sacrifice is that it wants to keep crawling off the altar. It must be put back on and offered daily as long as we live. How that is done will vary with each person and their situation, but it affects every area of our lives---time, finances, activities, speech, dress, etc. Living by the Word of God inscribed on our altar will result in separation from the world in practice and appearance. We will look and act different than the world. 
2. The sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). This verse says the sacrifice of praise is to be continual, daily and in all circumstances. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for because we are secure in Christ. 
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places" (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
What are you offering on your altar today?

Friday, December 29, 2017


This is the time of year when we stand at the crossroads and look both ways, backward and forward. What did we do with our time in the past year? How did we fail or succeed? What are the projections for the next year?
What did we do in 2017?
  • Had family sale in January for Leroy's mom
  • I started on an assignment to write a book on the history of the John F Martin company
  • I spoke at 18 Mennonite schools in February and March
  • Had public sale for Leroy's mom in April
  • Caught our breath in May
  • We celebrated our 50th anniversary in July and were honored with a party in August
  • My book, Loyalty Test, finally appeared on the market the beginning of August
  • I was the main speaker on a Burkholder tour arranged by the historical society in September
  • I started a new writing project in October and the John F Martin book was released
  • We went to see The Ark in Kentucky and Flight 93 Memorial in November and I finished crocheting an afghan
  • I reached "threescore years and ten" in December
What are the plans for 2018?
  • Get great-grandparent degree in January
  • Go to Sarasota in March (haven't been there since 1972)
  • Finish current writing project
  • Scrapbook 2017 pictures
     Tentative plans
  • have a quilting
  • crochet an afghan
  • retire from Shank Door (???)
And of course there's all the daily routines to fill the days and goals in other areas. There's the perennial need to lose weight, grow grace and knowledge of the Lord, and keep learning new things. There is no end mark for some of those  things. I'll turn my face toward 2018 and keep plugging away as long as I live.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Icing On The Cake

I had a great 70th birthday. Gifts, cards, phone calls, and the works. Leroy brought me a dozen roses. I thought he was up to something when I saw him get some money out of my wallet but I knew enough not to ask questions on my birthday. If it sounds crooked that he took money from my wallet to buy them, remember he's the one who earned the money so it was his to start with.

We went out to eat for supper, using a gift card we got for our anniversary this summer. Since I didn't have to cook, I had the whole day to entertain myself however I wished. So I had fun writing a story.
The icing on the cake was an email from a fellow Burkholder researcher. We can now go back one more generation in our Burkholder ancestors. 
The earliest Burkholder to which we could document our line was Joseph Burkhalter who was born in the 1620s and married Elizabeth Widmer. They lived at Ruderwil in Switzerland. Now the church records from Trachelswald show that Joseph was born June 6, 1623, to Jost and Cathrin (Fueni) Burkhalter. They were married in 1612 and lived on a farm named Haslematt (or Heslimatt) within sight of the famous Trachelswald castle. Many Mennonite tourists visit this castle because Anabaptists were imprisoned there. We were in the castle and looked out over the countryside but did not know we had an ancestral home on the next hill. 
Haslematt is the house/barn in the foreground and the castle is in the background. It's only a few miles from here to Ruderswil where three generations of our Burkholders lived before the fourth generation emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1754.

Now that we know Joseph's parents were Jost and Cathrin, the next question, of course, is, "Who were their parents?" Since Jost and Cathrin were married in 1612, they had to be born in the 1500s. Genealogy research is never finished but I am delighted that we can go back one more generation. What a birthday present!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Numbers Roll

I have one more day left in my sixties and then Thursday the numbers roll to the big 7-0. Yikes! That sounds like a number for my mom or grandma, not me!
One of my friends who went on one year ahead of me and knows the ropes gave me this poem in a card.

Poem for Seniors

A row of bottles on my shelf
caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
goes to my heart so it won't stop.
A little white one that I take
goes to my hands so they won't shake.
The blue one that I use a lot
tells me I'm happy when I'm not.
The purple pill goes to my brain
and tells me that I have no pain.
The capsule tells me not to wheeze
or cough or choke or even sneeze.
The red one, smallest of them all,
goes to my blood so I won't fall.
The orange one, very big and bright
prevents my leg cramps in the night.
Such an array of brilliant pills
helping to cure  kinds of ills.
But what I'd really like to know
is what tells each one where to go.

I can laugh at that one because I don't have all those ills or take so many pills. But I can identify more with the second one she gave me.

On Growing Older
Everything is farther away than it used to be. It is twice as far to the corner and they have added a hill, I noticed. I have given up running for the bus; it leaves faster than it used to. And it seems to me, they are making stairs steeper than in the olden days.
Have you noticed the smaller print they are using in the newspapers? And there is no sense in asking people to read aloud; everyone speaks in such a low voice I can hardly hear them.
It is almost impossible to reach my shoe laces. Even people are changing. They are much younger than they used to be when I was their age. On the other hand, people my age are so much older than I am.
I ran into an old classmate the other day, and she had aged so much I didn't even recognize her. I got to thinking about the poor thing while I was combing my hair this morning, and in doing so I glanced at my reflection. You know, they don't even make mirrors like they used to!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Memories are Keepsakes

It must have been at least two years ago when Daryl and Velma said they want to give me a weekend at a cabin for my 70th birthday. I was supposed to think who I would want to invite and give them plenty of notice so they don't plan anything else for the first weekend in December. So I started thinking who I would invite to fill the seven bedrooms in the cabin. 
Of course, I can't do anything like that without my sisters so that was a given. Who else? My three friends from our teen years. We four girls hung out together every weekend and did all kinds of crazy stuff together until we got married. I am the last of the four to turn 70 this year. I told them way back in February this year to reserve the first weekend in December for my birthday party. There was still some room so I invited the sister-in-law who is closest to my age. That was a winning combination!
We went to the cabin Friday evening and people started trickling in about 6. I only had to pack our clothes and bedding because Daryl and Velma brought all the food and did the cooking and dish washing all weekend. We had the whole weekend to visit with our friends. We talked, ate, played games, put puzzles together, etc. What a party! Velma loves to cook and we were very well fed.

This picture has too much glare but it's the only one I have of us putting puzzle together.

This was our "gang" of four girls and still going strong more than fifty years later. Some friends come and go in our lives but we have stuck together through it all. We're all a couple months apart and lined up by age. Dolores was the first to turn 70 this year, then Anna Mary, Laverne, and me. You can see I'm both last and least.

We scattered to attend various nearby churches Sunday morning and then came back to the cabin for lunch. During the week before, two couples said they would go home Saturday night so Velma said I can invite four more for Sunday lunch. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have company without having to cook! I had a little trouble finding people on short notice but three more came, another old friend from teen years and a cousin and her husband. Sunday was the official birthday dinner complete with a cake. Velma avoided a starting a forest fire by putting only 6 candles on the cake.

These are the ladies who were there on Sunday. 
Lidyan (cousin) Betty Ann and Carol (sisters), me, Millie, Anna Mary, Laverne
We sisters dressed alike on Sunday. Carol got the fabric in Mexico this summer. 

We looked forward to this weekend for a long time. We had a lot of fun reminiscing about the good old days and catching up with each other's lives. All too soon, the weekend was over and passed into the memory category. Weekends only last a short time but memories are keepsakes forever.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

This is not original with me. I found it online and am passing it on because it is so true. 

Unlikely Things for Which to be Thankful

Before you slice into the turkey and pass the cranberry sauce, it’s fitting to ponder the goodness of God and give thanks.
The very basic of manners, saying thank you sets us apart as grateful people. As Christians, when we thank God, instead of . . . what do non-believers thank? . . . fate? luck? chance? . . . , we rightfully acknowledge the source of our blessings. James 1:17 reminds us,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Today, in the spirit of grateful thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks for some unlikely blessings:

1. A sink full of dirty dishes, because it means we’re eating well.
2. Long hours at work, because it means we have gainful employment.
3. The electric bill, because it means we have central heat to keep us warm on cold nights.
4. Many years of memories from large family dinners, because I have been blessed to have known good times with parents - grandparents & even great-grandparents.
5. Our sagging bookshelves, because it means we have enough reading material for a lifetime – and the ability to read it.
6. The dust that relentlessly appears on every piece of furniture in my home, because it means I have furniture.
7. The gas prices that keep changing, because I have a car to take me places & enough money to go.
8. The mess in my house, because it means I have people who like to spend time with me.
9. The changing seasons, because God keeps His promices.
10. The laundry basket full of dirty clothes, because it means I own more than one outfit.
11. My cluttered pantry, because it means I have so much food in my house I need a closet in which to store it.
12. The sad stories I hear on Facebook, because it means I’m connecting with friends & can pray for answers in their lives.
13. The husband who wakes me up in the middle of the night when he hears a strange sound, because it means I have a spouse who loves & protects me & our property & he has slept beside me for many years.
14. A bathtub and three sinks that need cleaning, because it means I have indoor plumbing.
15. Too many family members to fit around the Thanksgiving table, because it means our family likes to gather for family times.
16. The phone that never holds a charge long enough, because it means I have family & friends to talk to me.
17. The junk mail in my mailbox, because it means I have the ability to send letters to anyone in the country in a timely, reliable manner.
18. The hard times that I have made it through, because they have strengthened my faith in the God who has promised to be with me always.
19. The long list of people who have asked me to pray for them, because it means I can help lift their burdens.
20. The head full of details that need to be attended to, because it means I’m still in my right mind and can properly process information.
21. The sore muscles from exercise, because it means I have the ability to walk (and even run).
As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, why not take a few moments to make your own unlikely thankful list? It could turn your perspective upside down.

This year, thank God for something you usually take for granted. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!