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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Frost on the Pumpkin

We had our first frost on Monday morning, which was nearly three weeks later than the average date of October 10. It was not a hard freeze, but there definitely was frost on the pumpkins. A few of them are too green, but I brought in three that are far enough along to believe they will finish ripening on the patio.
That pumpkin vine was a volunteer that came up from a seed I had thrown out with last year's garbage. It grew like crazy, took over about a third of the garden, and blessed us with 20 big neck pumpkins. The vine is black and dead now, so if I can find homes for the last five pumpkins we will be out of business. Meanwhile, we are eating lots of things made with pumpkin. We've had pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars. Tonight's dessert is Pumpkin Parfait--a concoction made of a cooked and cooled pumpkin mixture with meringue and cool whip folded in to make it fluffy.
Seeing frost on the pumpkins reminded me of the way one of our little boys recited that familiar line from James Whitcomb Riley's poem--"the frost is on the pumpkin and fadder's in the shop." The frost never ceases to come no matter how many years go by, but fodder and shocks are terms which no longer have meaning to most children.

Monday, October 29, 2007

25th Anniversary

Yesterday we helped Leroy's youngest sister and her husband celebrate their 25th anniversary. Paul and Gloria have a fine family of four children, the oldest of whom was married in September. I have made a counted cross stitch piece for each of our brothers and sisters when they reached this anniversary. This picture shows Paul and Gloria with the one I made for them.
Having the last of the Stauffer family come to this milestone in life naturally led to some reflection on the swift passage of time. Gloria was too young to remember when her parents had their 25th anniversary, but she remembered that they had been married 40 years the year she and Paul were married. And now her oldest brother (and I) reached that mark this year.
I thought our parents were old when they reached their 25th anniversary, but now that we have gone so far beyond that ourselves, people celebrating their 25th seem rather young. It's curious how different the same thing looks depending on your vantage point.
Happy Anniversary, Paul and Gloria. May you have at least 25 more!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cabbage Seeds

Last night we went to a benefit dinner for Gospel to Haiti mission. Their work is in the Les Palmes area of the Petit Goave district, located in the south western peninsula of Haiti. It is a very rugged part of the country fourteen miles from the main road, which takes two hours to travel by 4-wheel drive vehicle and mule.
After a delicious PA Dutch supper, which also included Haitian rice and beans, we saw a power point presentation of the country and work of the mission. They operate a church, school, and medical clinic, using as many native workers as possible. The doctors and nurses are natives.
The moderator of last night's meeting told us they had brought a Haitian man to the States for surgery. He lived in their home about a month while he recuperated. Before he went home they asked him if there is anything they can do for him. He said, "Yes. If it could be arranged, I would like a pack of cabbage seeds to take home with me."
That story really challenged me. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I've been there and seen the poverty. I am wealthy in comparison to that Haitian man, but am I as contented? Suppose I had been in his shoes. After a month of living in comparative luxury, what would I have asked for? I'm afraid it would have been for something more expensive than a pack of cabbage seeds! What do you think you would ask for?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eternal Security

We spent the weekend with our daughter in Ohio. At their church, the adults currently are having a joint class taught by one of the ministry to study their Statement of Faith during the Sunday School hour. The topic this Sunday was Salvation. The teacher did a fine job of addressing the issue of the assurance and security of our salvation.
He made it clear that he does not believe in unconditional eternal security. I agree. The idea that a person cannot lose their salvation for any reason is not supported by the Scriptures. Salvation is based on faith. You can't kick God in the closet with the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny and still expect Him to take you to heaven. God only saves those who believe in Him and His Son. The Bible says, "He that cometh to God must believe that He is . . ." and "Without faith it is impossible to please Him."
Although it is possible to lose our salvation (if we drop our faith) we are eternally secure in Christ as long as our primary goal is to please God. If we are trusting our own intellect or works, our primary goal is not God but self. The grace of God continually cleanses those whose primary goal is to please Him so that our salvation is intact in spite of imperfections.
I think our Mennonite churches need more of this teaching on the grace of God. We are strong on teaching obedience (which is the response of faith) but weak on teaching grace. Grace does not give us license to sin but it does free us from fear. I am eternally secure in Christ so long as my faith in Him endures. That's like a big fat feather pillow under me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Black Light Song

Here's something that is really cool. It is done with a black light and white gloves.
Click on the link and enjoy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Happening

This week was the first anniversary of the Nickel Mines school shooting. Several books have recently appeared on the market which tell about the tragic incident. I have not read all of them but have flipped through or read reviews of them. The one I would recommend is The Happening by Harvey Yoder, published by TGS International, an arm of Christian Aid Ministries.
Harvey lived among the Amish at Nickel Mines for a month as he interviewed the families and people involved in the tragedy. Although he has used fictitious names in consideration of the Amish community's desire for anonymity, he says in the Prologue, "the events and conversations of that Monday and the days that followed have been reconstructed as accurately as possible, down to the description of the classroom and the very songs they sang in school that morning . . . Nevertheless, the happenings and the emotions are true."
Some of the books which have been written about Nickel Mines are analytical. This one is an easy-to-read story about the incident. It shows the forgiveness the Amish extended did not come without a struggle. They asked the same question others asked--"Why did God allow this to happen?" To someone who does not know or understand how the Amish think, the story may sound too idealistic. Since I have personally experienced tragedy in the death of a teenage son and recieved the same grace of God to forgive, I can identify with the reactions and emotions they experienced. I believe the book is an accurate portrayal of how they dealt with the situation and their grief.
If you cannot find this book in your area, it can be ordered from:
TGS International
PO Box 355
Berlin, Ohio 44610

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

False Alarm

I get so tired of being asked, "What are you writing now?" I usually try to side-step the question because it takes me so long to produce something and if people know what I am working on they expect to see it on the market long before it arrives.
Since my last book was published, I have had at least 16 suggestions and/or requests to write stories for people. I cannot do all of them and turn most of them down. A couple weeks ago one of the editors from CLP called and asked if I would rewrite a story that had been submitted to them for a children's book. This one interested me and I agreed to do it. After spending all day yesterday on it, this morning the original writer of the story called and withdrew the request. Now isn't that ironic? Out of all the requests I received, the one I agreed to do flopped in the dust. I have plenty of other ideas floating around in my head and a few in various stages of beginning, but the one I had decided to make the first priority dissolved after one day's work.
Truth to be told, I feel sort of lost if I don't have some kind of writing project to work on--at least in my head. I always take a break over the summer canning season. With that behind me for another year, this week I was ready to start again and had a false alarm. Maybe next week I'll pick up another idea and try again.