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Friday, October 30, 2009

B & B Week

This has been a relaxed week (after I got through Monday, which we won't discuss in detail) in spite of having overnight guests from Monday night through this morning. Our church is hosting a Minister's Study Week this week. It is an annual conference that rotates between states and groups so that our congregation's turn to be the host is almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We volunteered to host some of the visiting ministers and were assigned three people from southern Indiana. Verlin & Rosy Yoder and Sam Yoder arrived at bedtime Monday. We had never met any of them but enjoyed learning to know them. I only needed to provide breakfast for them in the morning and beds at night. They always left around 9 in the morning, were at the church all day, and returned around 9:30-10 at night. The last sessions are being held this morning and then they will drive straight home, which is about a 12-hour trip.
We are also heading west this afternoon and will spend the weekend with our daughter in Ohio. I'm glad that's only half as far as Indiana!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Road To Anarchy

Last week my nephew gave a very inspiring presentation on The Road To Anarchy. I wish you all could have heard it. Here is the outline in capsule form, using illustrations from the history of the nation of Israel.

System: Biblical Morality (Deut. 4:5-9; Deut. 5:1-29)
Philosopny: What is required?
Essence: God says
What Restrains: The judgment of God

System: Consensus Morality (1 Sam. 8:1-7 Elder's consensus; v. 19-22 WE say)
Philosophy: What is acceptable?
Essence: We believe
What Restrains: Approval of others

System: Pragmatism (1 Kings 12:26-33)
Philosophy: What is practical?
Essence: I think
What Restrains: Expedience

System: Hedonism (1 Kings 21; I want it; it pleases me)
Philosophy: What is pleasurable?
Essence: I feel
What Restrains: Pain, discomfort

System: Anarchy (2 Kings 17:7-23; Deut. 11:1, 26-28)
Philosophy: Nobody tells me what to do!
Essence: I will
What Restrains: Nothing

Where is our nation on the road to anarchy? Where is your church? Where are you? What philosophy rules your life? If you are further down the road than you realized, remember it is a two-lane highway. You can always turn around and go back to Biblical Morality.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pig Panic

There is something in the news every day about Swine Flu. Sometimes I wonder if it is much ado about nothing as I do not know anyone who has gotten sick. I suppose if I had lived through the flu epidemic during the first World War, I might take it more seriously. Back then, they did not have the vaccines and medications we have today so I do not expect a repeat performance of that great flu epidemic.
We found out this week that Swine Flu is actually circulating in Berks County. Leroy was scheduled to go for jury duty on Monday. All the potential jurors were dismissed by 10 a.m. because the defendant who was to go on trial was in a part of the prison which has been infected with Swine Flu. The trial was postponed to keep from exposing anyone to the virus. None of the potential jurors complained about being dismissed! Measures like this will help to curb the flu.
But still, it seems to me the panic is greater than the pandemic. The price of pork has fallen sharply. There is no way you can get swine flu from eating pork but people are afraid to eat it. Pigs are getting a bad name and even the most innocent pigs are being ostracized.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Too Many Irons

I was not mistaken when I said this week was going to be wild. Tuesday was my volunteer day at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. It was an interesting day, as usual, helping the editor prepare articles for the magazine and showing a tour group through the museum. Since it was such a lovely day, I stopped at a cemetery on the way home which I have long been wanting to search for Sallie Horning Powl. If she is buried there, her stone is one of the unreadable ones. I didn't find her but I did at least scratch the itch.
Wednesday was another day of volunteer work. In July Leroy started going to Cumberland County to service book racks once a month for Lantern Books. It operates much like Choice Books with book racks placed in stores rather than from a bookstore. After going with the man in charge a couple times, Leroy feels he can't do it alone and wants me to go along to do the paperwork. He would like to go more than once a month next year after he is semi-retired but I don't see how I can go more than once a month at this point. I enjoyed the day but just have too many irons in the fire to commit to more than once a month. Maybe I can go more in a year from now if I have my big writing project worked down to size---and provided I don't start anything new! I just like to do too many things and it's hard to keep all the irons in use.
This morning I took Leroy's mom to the doctor. I was glad to do it, but it put me on the road another half day. While I was over that way I got the weekly groceries. That should make it possible for me to stay home tomorrow to get caught after in the house and prepare the lesson I have to teach for one of the ladies' Sunday school classes on Sunday.
Being gone two and a half days in a row and trying to keep things after at home showed me I would never make it if I had to go to work every day. I have been a homemaker for 42 years and am admittedly spoiled by being able to work at my own pace. Tomorrow I am going to stay home--so help me God!

Friday, October 16, 2009


As I was cleaning today I was thinking about trusting God when our world is upside down and imploding upon us. At times like that, people mouth platitudes about trusting God and waiting upon Him to work things out and show us He knew what He was doing. They mean well but the repitition of things I already know does not help. All it does is tell me they don't really understand the situation.
It's easy to say, "There, there; it will be all right," when you are sitting in some sheltered cove. But when you are in the boat that's being battered by the waves and in danger of sinking or crashing on the rocks, those nice little platitudes about trusting God are not the words that come to mind.
So what is trust? Is sitting quietly and waiting for God to work the proof of trust? Perhaps one of my favorite poems will help to answer that question.
This Too Is Trust

O Lord, I realize that resoluteness,
And confidence that You are good and just,
And quietness, and cheerful songs at midnight---
These, these are trust.
But, Lord, when 'mid the blaze and crash of thunder,
The tempest lifts my boat so small, so frail,
And dashes it upon the foaming waters,
And torn my sail . . .
If then I drop my oar and scream in panic
Above the sound of wave and lashing gust,
Expecting You to save me from their furor---
This, too, is trust.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rite of Passage

This morning I attended the funeral of my cousin, Jane, who was about three years my senior. All of my aunts and uncles are gone except one and now my cousins are going. Since both of my parents were at the end of their families, most of my 96 cousins are a good bit older than I am. So far, the ones who died were the older ones but either the age is coming down or mine is going up. This was a cousin I spent more time with and is the closest to my age of any cousin that has died.
Jane's funeral included a lot of singing which I like. She asked for something I have never seen before at a funeral---a children's meeting. We sang "Jesus Loves Me" (which is the Gospel in a nutshell) and then one of my cousins told a story and talked to Jane's 27 grandchildren. It was a very nice touch and something they will probably remember.
I also really liked Jane's bi-fold memorial folder. It is much more family friendly, featuring a picture from their wedding 45 years ago and the family today as well as the addresses of each of her children. Jane was a people person and both of these things fit her personality.
Jane had cancer and knew her time was coming so she had planned most of her own service. That made me think about what I would want. I already knew I would want lots of singing. I would want the final viewing before the service, not afterward the way it was today. And I would not want the service to focus on me and the things I have done in life. I try to avoid being recognized (although my name often betrays me) and do not want my funeral to be all about me. All I am or ever hope to be is because of the One who died for me. I want the Lord Jesus to be the center of attention and the One who is praised. People who never otherwise go to church will attend a funeral and we should present the Gospel to them when we have the opportunity.
A funeral is a rite of passage for the benefit of the living rather than the dead. It is a gentle way to say good-by to those we love. Jane was in our cousin's quilting circle and we will miss her the next time we gather around a quilt. She will not be there but I think we will remember the message she chose to give us today from 3 John 1:14. "But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sister's Day

Whenever one of my sisters or I have a birthday we do something together. The birthday girl gets to choose the activity. The year I chose to go to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to hear The Messiah was on the high end of the scale. Usually we simply bake cookies or quilt, or we might go out to eat or take in a special event somewhere.
Since one of my sisters had a birthday this week, it was time for another Sister's Day. This time we met at the Landis Valley Museum which was humming with activity during their Harvest Days. All kinds of crafts and demonstrations were being done, from making sauerkraut and butchering hogs to fine needlework and blacksmithing.
Two bachelor brothers, Henry and George Landis, began this museum simply by collecting Pennsylvania German objects from the 1700s and 1800s. They built a collection of over 75,000 objects and established a small museum in the 1920s on the grounds of their Landis Valley homestead. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the Landis brothers' museum in 1953.
Over the next 45 years, the state began purchasing and building structures which are now part of the historic village. The property includes an 1856 hotel and two brick buildings built between 1815 and 1840. Also, two log buildings, an 1890's school house and an old blacksmith shop were purchased and moved to the site.
When the Landis brothers learned an old country store was closing, they bought the entire store and its contents. This store looks the same as when it was in business. The things you see on the shelves today were on the shelves when the Landis brothers bought it.

This crossroad which is now inside the museum grounds was once a busy crossroad on the Lancaster- to-Reading Turnpike. Back about 1955 my aunt and grandmother were involved in an accident here. There was a black iron fence around the lawn at that time. My aunt's car crashed into the fence about where the tents were set up today. My grandmother's pelvis was broken and she spent many weeks in bed healing.

One of the parts I liked best was the 1750 German farm. All the necessary buildings (surrounded by rail fences) are there: house, barn, hay rack, outdoor bake oven with red clay tile roof, and springhouse. Being set off to the side by itself helps to create a bit of the isolated atmosphere our ancestors experienced when they settled here, but the dense woods that would have stood around the buildings are missing.

We sisters had a good day together and I'm the next one to have a birthday so I'll get to choose the next activity. I haven't decided on anything yet but have about two months to think about it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Love or Money

There are some things I will not do for love or money---or any other reason. Then there are some things I will do for love that I would not do for any amount of money. Caring for my parents in their terminal illnesses was one of those situations. And there are other things I will do just for the love of it whether it is profitable or not. Writing falls into that catagory.
I have been asked more than once how many hours it takes to write a book. I have no clue. I figure my time in years, not hours. Yesterday I worked all day to write a little less than a page that you could read in two minutes. Today it went a little better and I wrote a page in half a day, but I'm a long way from finished. There is no way writing could be profitable if I was being paid by the hour.
Some people think having a book published means instant riches. Guess again! Unless a person writes something that sells millions of copies, the royalties are very slim pickin's. The writer does the hard work but by the time the publisher and bookstores have dipped their hands into the cash drawer the royalty that is left for the writer may only be twenty-five cents per book. At that rate, how many books do you have to sell to come up with even one thousand dollars? You do the math.
I'm not complaining. I just trying to make it clear that I don't write for the money. A little spare change is nice, but not the incentive. I write for the love of doing it. The problem is that once a book is finished the fun is over and the only remedy is to start another one. Sigh! Writing is a wierd self-inflicted disease that feeds on itself and is done for love rather than money.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Exeter Friends Meetinghouse

I saw in this morning's newspaper that the Exeter Friends Meetinghouse is observing their 250th anniversary this weekend. You can see the article here:
They had four speakers scheduled for today, beginning at 10:45. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. Leroy had other plans so I headed down there myself.
I had a great day---after I finally got there. The address in the paper was incorrect (19 instead of 191 Meetinghouse Road) and the place Mapquest sent me to was about 7 miles from where I wanted to be. I got there and knew right away I was at the wrong place. Thanks to cell phones and some fancy maneuvering, Gerald was able to direct me to the right place but I missed the 10:45 speaker.
I decided to hang around for the second speaker at 1 pm and while I was waiting I got to talking to the man who had been the first speaker. He wasn't busy so he took me inside and did a re-run for me. He was a member of that congregation (they call it meeting) and talked mostly about their beliefs and practices. The values they stress are simplicity, integrity, patience, peace, and equality. Women have always had equal rights with men in speaking at meetings. They do not practice baptism, communion, ordination ceremonies for their leaders, or take offerings. (One of the tourists said if they'd spread the word about no offerings their group might suddenly grow!) They still sit in silence until someone feels led to say something. They sit for an hour and if no one says anything, that's it. They shake hands and the meeting is over. A Quaker meeting for real! After the meeting they divide adults and children for First Day School (Sunday School) when they have discussions and/or other activities.
The second speaker was not a Quaker and talked more about the history of the Oley valley and architecture of the building. That was very interesting too. There is electric in the building but it is very well hidden so as not to spoil the colonial look. The benches date back to the 1700s. Daniel Boone's family worshiped in a log building across the road from the current building which was constructed in 1759. The Boones left for North Carolina in 1750 but Daniel would have been in the 1759 building when he came back to visit his relatives. Abraham Lincoln said his grandparents were Quakers from Berks County but the records of Exeter Meeting do not show President Lincoln's grandparents being members. They may have attended there without being members for there is a record of a Boone-Lincoln marriage and also of Lincolns being buried in the cemetery.

Outside of the Meetinghouse (above) and inside (below). The ministers and elders sat on the "facing" benches on the right side of the picture, facing the members of the meeting. The wall in the middle divided the men and women's sections. Movable panels could be pulled down to completely close off the wall and provide some privacy when men and women had their separate business meetings. Quakers were very organized and kept detailed records which today are a delight to genealogists and historians.

The cemetery was a disappointment. There are quite a few Boones and Lincolns buried in it but they carried their idea of equality too far. Some people could afford more expensive stones than others so, to keep everyone equal, no stones were erected for anyone. The cemetery is just an empty lawn inside a stone wall. They kept a good cemetery record so they know who is buried there but there were no Boone or Lincoln stones to photograph. I don't know how they knew the cemetery was full, but sometime in the 1800s they ran out of space so they hauled more ground in and buried people in a second layer at the upper end of the cemetery. Quakers did begin to use gravestones later on but in a cemetery this old they did not and they kept it that way. The members are proud of their old stone-less cemetery. Makes mowing a cinch, I guess.

They were running a shuttle bus to the Boone homestead a couple miles away so I went over there for about a half hour. Nothing was going on so the buildings were closed but I walked around the grounds and took a few pictures.

In 1730, Daniel Boone's father, Squire Boone, built a log house over a spring on this spot. Daniel was born in that log house in 1734. After 1750 the portion of the house on the right was added to the log house. Then the log house was replaced with the stone portion on the left after 1770, using the same foundation on which Squire Boone had built the log house.

I rode the last bus back to the meetinghouse at 3 and got home at 4. It turned out to be a longer day than I expected but I enjoyed it---even if I was alone and had the run around getting there. I have thought for years I want to see the Boone homestead sometime and never got there. I've gone across the ocean to look at historical things and never crossed my own county to see this bit of local history. Now I have! But I want to go back sometime when the buildings are open and more is happening there. At least next time I will know how to drive directly there instead of taking the scenic route.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Philosophical Questions

Some of the philosophical questions which are supposedly difficult to answer are:
1. Who or what determines right from wrong?
2. What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
3. If there is an all-seeing, all knowing, and all-capbale Creator, why did He create imperfect creatures?
4. What happens after we die?
The answers to all of these "deep" philosophical questions can be found in the Bible. If you take God at his Word, they are not difficult at all.
There are other philosophical questions which are more abstract such as "Why don't we have all the answers?"
Eve's desire to know the unknown was part of the original sin that created the mess we're in and actually resulted in more questions than answers. But then, would you really want to have all the answers? I don't. It would save me a lot of work if some of the answers were easier to find but we would be bored stiff if we had all the answers. There would be no need for education or research. Wonder is the beginning of the journey and questions are what makes the trip interesting. An active imagination that wonders and keeps asking questions is a great antidote for boredom.