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Thursday, January 28, 2010

No Place Like Home

The frantic pace I have been running the last couple weeks has finally slowed slightly. I still have a lot on the agenda for the rest of the winter but the pressure is off since I wiped two jobs off the list this week. This morning I did the final review of the manuscript for reprinting Hidden Riches and it is now on its way to the layout department for the first step in the printing process.
The biggie was crossed off on Monday night when I finished giving the slide show at the Shank Door banquet. I spent two full days preparing the presentation and then reviewed it a couple times so I could do it smoothly. I had some nice compliments on it afterward so I am considering it a success. The ending, purpously designed for the Shank Door employees, brought down the house!
Here it is:

"The lights of the Holy City faded below us. The trip to Israel Leroy had dreamed of taking for so long was over. Our children's inheritance had been spent and all we had left was the memories, souvenirs, and pictures.

"But it was good to get back to familiar places . . .

. . . and the usual routine.

There's just no place like home!"

(He has a reputation for dumpster diving at work.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Winter Blahs

The fact that I have not posted for nearly a week does not mean nothing has happened. Quite the contrary. I've been glued to my keyboard all week working feverishly on several projects and simply did not have time to write a post.
In addition to trying to write a new story, I am in the midst of reviewing the manuscript for the reprinting of Hidden Riches. I spent most of a day on it with the editor and am now giving it my final review and tweaking. That included a trip to a cemetery and library in Lancaster County yesterday to check the accuracy of a couple statements in the new Preface. I hope to wrap up that project next week.
The other major project was preparing a slide show of our Israel trip in 2008 to show at the company banquet on Monday night. When we were asked to do this back about Thanksgiving I thought it would be a piece of cake because I had a DVD with a PowerPoint show already made up. But when I tried to review it the thing didn't work anymore. To make a long story short, in the end I wound up starting from scratch and making a new slide show. That meant sorting through our 1300 pictures, selecting 156, and writing the narration to go with them. I am not one of those people who work best under pressure. I like to start early and just tie up the loose ends at the last minute. Working like this is not my style. It took me two full days but I got it done on Friday and it fits into the 45 minute time slot they gave us.
This week does not look like it will be much better than last week. I have too many irons in the fire. One thing is for sure, I won't get the winter blahs!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Swan's Song

Last week I came across a note I had written and stuck in one of my history books. I thought it is worth sharing.
When John Wycliff finished translating the Bible into English he wrote in the margin that one of the motives for his work was "that there might be government of the people, for the people, and by the people." These words were made famous when Abraham Lincoln used them in the Gettysburg Address but they were borrowed from John Wycliff.
In John Wycliff's time the church and state were united and both were corrupt. His translation work was the seed of the Reformation. John Huss read Wycliff's English Bible and preached what he learned from its pages. As a result, he was burned at the stake in 1415. At his execution he said, "Today you will roast a lean goose (his name, Huss, meant goose) but 100 years from now you will hear a swan sing . . ."
One hundred years later, on October 31, 1515, Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the church door and the Reformation shifted into high gear. The swan's song!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good News & Bad News

I had an appointment with Dr. Walker yesterday and she was thrilled to see I have been able to go off prednisone without a flare up. At last, we have found the right dose of the right medications to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am to continue on the same "cocktail" of drugs I'm taking but keep prednisone on hand for flare ups as needed. This time I can wait four months to see her again and if all continues to be well she may stretch it out to six months. It took us longer than she expected to get the right dosage of drugs but we are getting there.
I am very blessed and grateful, and almost feel guilty to have everything at my fingertips when I think of the people in Haiti. They are suffering from wounds and broken bones and have no medical help available. I also feel very helpless. Aid is on the way but they are suffering in the meantime. Help cannot arrive fast enough. Our thoughts and prayers are with my niece, Bethanie, and others who are in Haiti doing what they can to help. May God be with them and supply all their physical and emotional needs.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Separation of Church and State

A weekly history column in our newspaper this morning is titled Separation of church, state radical concept. The author goes to to say:
"On Thomas Jefferson's tombstone, at his insistence, are listed his three proudest accomplishments: Founding the University of Virginia, authoring the Declaration of Independence and authoring the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. The latter document was passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16, 1786.
This statue expressed Jefferson's conviction, born out of his Deist beliefs, that although God created the universe, God is not actively involved in human affairs. Rather God has given man the capacity for reason, including freedom of conscience in all religious matters, and therefor any attempt to limit, restrict or shape an individual's religious beliefs--or lack thereof--is wrong. As such, there should be no government-supported religion in America, nor should any citizen be compelled to attend a particular church, or any church. Finally, the government should never compel a citizen to pay taxes to support a church. In other words, Americans are to worship as they please, or not worship if it doesn't please them, and are free to decide for themselves whether to give a church any financial support.
Jefferson's statute, which called for the complete separation of church and state, was a radical break from the prevailing attitude about religion's role in public affairs."
The writer of this article (like many others) credits Thomas Jefferson with conceiving the idea of separation of church and state. Although Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase "separation of church and state," it was not a new concept at all.
Church and state had been combined since ancient times. The Jewish high priest was the head of both the church and the government. Early Roman emperors held the state's highest religious office and were deified. Early Christians were martyred by the thousands for refusing to bow to the Roman emperor.
The combination of church and state continued into the Middle Ages in Europe. The religion of the people was determined by the religion of their leader. During the Reformation a person could go to bed a Catholic and wake up obligated to be Lutheran or Reformed due to a change in leadership.
The Anabaptists church was born in 1525. The Anabpatists returned to the beliefs of the Early Christians and also died by the thousands for their faith. Separation of church and state was part of the distinctive Anabaptist doctrine of nonresistance. This belief was based on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and other Scriptures which teach that Christians are in the world but not of it. This is often referred to as "the two-kingdom concept."
The State has been ordained to maintain law and order by the use of force. The Christian is not to resist evil but to respond with love. This prevents the Christian from suing, being in the military, or holding public office. The duty of the Christian is to pray for leaders, pay taxes, and obey the laws (unless they conflict with God's higher law), but he is not to be involved in the government of this world.
The Anabaptists refused to serve in the military or baptize their babies in the state church, whether it was Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. The Anabpatist belief in the separation of church and state was a radical idea in the Middle Ages.
In the 1650s, a nonconformist group in England led by George Fox founded the Religious Society of Friends commonly known as Quakers. They embraced the nonresistant beliefs of the Anabaptists. In 1682 the Quaker William Penn drew up a Frame of Government which guaranteed freedom of religion in his new state of Pennsylvania. He called this a "Holy Experiment" to prove that church and state can exist independent of one another.
The concept of separation of church and state was around long before Thomas Jefferson authored his Statue for Religious Freedom. The difference is that the Anabaptists based their beliefs on Biblical principles and Jefferson's were in defense of his humanistic thinking and "right" NOT to believe the Bible. Thomas Jefferson's ideas may be the basis of the ACLU but the idea of separation of church and state is a Biblical principle revived by the Anabaptists in 1525.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back North

We're back from Georgia and it wasn't much warmer there than it is here. The locals down there were saying it "never" is so cold for so long. They didn't set any new records for low temperatures but it was the longest cold stretch they have had for 25 or 30 years. Pipes were freezing and we heard laments everywhere we went about the terrible cold. "We get a day or two like this but it never is this cold for a week." Oh you poor souls! A whole week of winter! And we had the good fortune to be there right in the middle of it. I was reminded of the time we went to Canada in July expecting to have cooler weather and then it was 100. We heard the same story then, "It is never this hot." At least Kansas was kind to us last spring. May must be a better month to travel.
So much for the weather. This trip was basically a long weekend road trip. We left on Thursday and drove 800 miles to Dublin, GA, where we got a motel for the night. In the morning we drove down to Fitzgerald for my research day. After making a couple trips back and forth from the Evergreen Cemetery to the library and City Hall in town, I was finally able to nail down the death date of Louisa Powl Kilburn and find her burial place. Unfortunately, no markers exist for any of the six Kilburns buried in the Evergreen Cemetery. The cemetery record in City Hall is the only thing we have but it told me what I wanted to know. Louisa died on January 20, 1902 and was buried at Evergreen on January 22 in this spot.

Louisa was the daughter of Josiah and Barbara Powl, and a sister of my great-grandmother, Emaline Powl Burkholder. I was thrilled to finally be able to complete the record of the Josiah Powl family and able to go on to enjoy the rest of the trip.

We spent Friday night with my cousin at Albany and had a good visit. In the morning she took us to a little family restaurant owned by a man named Pearly Gates. No kidding! That's his name. They gave us a free bowl of grits. They don't really have much taste of their own but the melted butter overtop made them edible. The next day we told someone we went to the Pearly Gates for breakfast and had grits. She said she hopes we get something better than that inside the Pearly Gates. :-)

The main reason we went on this trip was to attend the wedding of nephew Keith Hurst and Jo Doutrich on Saturday, January 9, at Meigs, GA. They had a very nice wedding which I would say "went off without a hitch" but we witnessed a good tight hitch. Here is the happy couple, who are now enjoying warm weather in the Dominican Republic.

The balance of the time in Meigs was spent visiting with friends in their homes and at the Meigs Mennonite Church. We headed north Sunday afternoon and drove to the northeastern edge of Georgia where we got a motel for the night. Monday was a full day of driving in seven states. Even though there was no warm weather in the south, we were thankful for the clear dry weather and problem-free driving. Now that Christmas and the trip are both behind me, I must get down to business on my list of winter projects before the season slips by. I don't think there will be any time to be bored from now until spring.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Going South

The country is shivering under the influence of the blast our Canadian neighbors directed toward us (thanks a lot!). This is the time of year people's thoughts turn to the south. We are heading that way tomorrow. Unfortunately, that blast of cold air is reaching so far south it looks like we aren't going to escape much of the cold, or else we're just not going far enough south.
We are invited to a nephew's wedding in Georgia on Saturday and are stirring a few other things into the mix to get more milage from the trip. We will be visiting one of my cousins in Albany and spend one night with her. And of course, you know I can't go anywhere without walking through a cemetery or two. That will be in Fitzgerald, GA.
My great-grandmother's sister, Louisa Powl, was born in Lancaster County, PA, moved to Lyon County, KS around 1876, and to Ben Hill County, GA in 1896. The last trace I have of her is in the 1900 Census. Her husband remarried in April 1902, so she must have died in the last half of 1900 or 1901. Louisa is the only one of my great-grandmother's siblings whose death date and burial place is unknown. I aim to find out on Friday. I have a hunch she may be buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at Fitzgerald so I will check there first. If I can't find her there I will go to the public library in Fitzgerald and search in the cemetery records and old newspapers.
Louisa has a life story that would make a trashy romance novel, but that's not the kind of book I want to write. I just want to be able to fill in her death date in my Powl genealogy. This is a family no one has ever researched before and I've been having lots of fun doing it the last five years. The search has taken me to several cemeteries in Lancaster County, PA, Stark County, Ohio, Edgar and Jackson counties in Illinois, and now to Ben Hill County in Georgia. I learned a lot more than I wanted to know about the Powl/Powell family. I am thankful my great-grandmother broke the cycle and became a dedicated Christian when she married Joseph Burkholder and joined the Mennonite church.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The new year is three days old and has been good so far. Every new morning is a leap into the unknown but the beginning of a year always seems to cause people to look back at the past and wonder about the future. There seems to be more reflecting this year due to the end of a decade. One of these caught my eye and made me stop to think about how many changes we have seen in the last ten years just in the field of communications.
Ten years ago there were no iPods or iPhones. YouTube, My Space, Facebook, and Twitter did not exist. There are probably more. My world expanded when I learned to use email in the 1990s and in this decade I started blogging. I've been urged to but have not joined Facebook and have no idea how to send a tweet. If this explosion of communications continues, what all might we see in the next ten years? I suppose I shall fall further and further behind in keeping up with the latest technology. I can think of worse tragedies.
Every decade seems shorter than the one before. I remember turning ten and feeling so grown up to have two numbers in my age. My dad said, "It will be a long time before you have three numbers in your age." Those first ten years seemed to be the longest. Every decade since then has rolled by faster than the one before. Reaching 30 seemed awful but I didn't mind 40 nearly as much. I figured the damage was done so there's nothing to dread. Then the 40s were gone in a flash and the 50s stared me in the face. I thought the 50s were some of the best years of my life. I was old enough to be over the main stress of raising a family and too young for the aches and pains of old age to set in. But the 50s passed even faster than the 40s and the next thing I knew I was in the 60s with the aches and pains starting to creep in. I'm still hale and hearty enough to enjoy life and the freedom of indulging in my hobbies. But I know how fast ten years goes by and to think of the 70s rushing toward me is truly a scary thought. There are still so many things I'd like to do with my life and so little time to do them.
What will the next decade bring? God only knows. But He knows what He's doing and I'm going along for the ride.