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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

God Superintends History

It was my turn to teach the ladies Sunday school class yesterday. As soon as I saw the title of the lesson was "God Superintends History" I knew it would be fun to teach. The lesson was taken from Psalm 90 and the lesson scope in verse 2 was "from everlasting to everlasting." That threw open the door to talk about anything from before creation into eternity future. The problem was in deciding which part of history to focus on and what examples to give. Here is recap of one of the examples I chose.
The assassination of Austria's Archduke Francis Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists on June 28, 1914, was the match that set fire to "The Great War" (WWI) in Europe. Serbian nationalists were infuriated by the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austria-Hungary, because they considered Bosnia-Herzegovina to be part of Serbia. Ferdinand and his wife. Sofie, were in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in an attempt to improve relations between their two countries when he was assassinated. Later, Winston Churchill blamed World War I on an incompetent chauffeur. Although that was an oversimplification, it was true that the chauffeur made a wrong turn which took them into a dead-end alley where Gavrilo Princip was standing. He jumped on the running board of their limousine, pulled out a pistol, and killed the royal couple. Tensions increased through the month of July and war was officially declared on August 8, 1914. The fighting lasted until 1918 and it became the second bloodiest conflict in recorded history.
What was World War I all about? Politics aside, what was GOD doing in World War I?
Historically, WWI brought about more than one change in the world. One of the most important was the break up of the Ottoman Empire which had been in control since 1299. At the height of its power in the 16th-17th centuries, the Turks (Ottoman Empire) were in control of much of the world from Asia to Africa. During WWI, the Turks lost control of Palestine to the British.
Enter Chaim Weizmann into the picture. Who was he? Chaim Weizmann was a German Jew who moved to London and was elected President of the World Zionist Movement in 1905. This was an organization of Jews whose dream was to return to Palestine and revive the nation of Israel. Mr. Weizmann became friends with Arthur James Balfour who had been elected Prime Minister of England in 1902. This friendship influenced Balfour to write the Balfour Declaration in 1917, soon after Palestine came under British control. The Balfour Declaration granted Jews the right to settle in Palestine and promised a homeland in the future. The Jews started going back to Palestine but it took another World War and Holocaust before Jews poured into Palestine and Israel officially became a nation in 1948.
God used an incompetent chauffeur making a wrong turn on a dead end street to crack open the door to Palestine and begin fulfilling His promise to return His people to their homeland after 1900 years of dispersion. He put Chaim Weizmann in the right place at the right time to move His plan along. God Superintends History.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stitches In Time

This week, from March 22-27, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society is running a display of antique quilts. At the same time, there is a display of about 30 coverlets at the Hans Herr House. There is an admission charge of $5 to see either one of the "Stitches In Time" displays or $8 for a combined ticket to see both displays.
This was my regular day to volunteer at the historical society. I never know what I will be doing. Last week I helped get the quilts ready to display and today I was the guide for people coming to see the quilts. (Fringe benefit---I got to see all the quilts without paying.) We had a steady stream of visitors all day except over the lunch hour. Some were local people but others were from Minnesota, Oregon, and even England and France. Most of our guests were ladies but two men were also in my tour groups today.
The oldest quilt I showed was made in 1856 and the newest was made in 1925. A very closely quilted map of Pennsylvania with patches in the shapes of all the counties was made in 1902 and looks like it just came off the frame yesterday. There are a couple Amish quilts on display as well. My pick of the display is a crazy quilt made between 1870-1889 by Mary Ann (Mann) Rohrer. The decorative top-stitching is extremely precise and greatly varied in types and colors of stitches. The initials embroidered on it are so perfect they look like they were done on a machine. I don't know if they had embroidery machines in 1870 but I doubt it. One silk patch on the crazy quilt has frayed but otherwise it is in perfect condition.
In the background of this picture is one of the quilts which is permanently on display at the historical society. It was made 1905-1915 by Susanna Gehman for her granddaughter, Susanna H. Gehman. The outstanding feature of this one is not so much the quilting as the appliqued farm scenes. The quilt was never used and is in perfect condition.
The timing of this display was no accident. The American Quilters Society is having a show and convention in Lancaster from Wednesday through Saturday. The Lancaster newspaper reports that 20,000 people are expected to come from 47 states and five foreign countries. Many downtown merchants have hung quilts in their show windows and they will extend their hours to accommodate quilters.
You can read about the quilt convention here:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

25th Anniversary

We pulled it off! For several years my sister and I had been thinking about having a party to recognize our younger sister Carol's 25th anniversary of teaching English at Terre Hill Mennonite High School. She is the only teacher who has been there since the school opened its doors in September 1985. Planning a party for Carol was simplified for us when the school planned a celebration of the school's 25th anniversary for this weekend. We made arrangements to set up a table in Carol's honor.
The anniversary celebration began last evening. We got there around 4 p.m. The surprise was when we walked in with our stuff and started setting up Carol's table. My picture got a little fuzzy but this is how it looked.

The school had set up tables with a display for each year from 1986-2010. Also on display was the Globe Theater that Carol's English Lit classes made over a period of several years.

There was a good turnout for the event and we all enjoyed the evening. A lot of former students attended. Since English is a required subject, Carol has had every student who ever attended the school in one or more of her classes. Congratulations on 25 years of a job well done!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish and Cabbage

Where has the past week gone? Today is St. Patrick's Day and when we reach that mark on the calendar we know spring is poised to arrive. It looks like spring will march boldly in the front door on Saturday instead of quietly sneaking in the back door like it does some years. I have no objections! Come on in!!
I don't have any Irish in me but on St. Patrick's Day I like to grab a cabbage by the head and make corned beef and cabbage for supper. Gerald came in after I had started cooking it this afternoon and instantly declared something smells like stuff he smells when he works in the ER. I knew he would turn up his nose but made it anyway. I made the other half of the head into Cole Slaw, which he likes. He can eat his St. Patrick's Day cabbage raw and I'll eat mine cooked.
Not being a whit Irish, eating corned beef and cabbage has no particular significance. It is just a way to add a little spice to a late winter day. But since we're thinking Irish today, here's an Irish blessing for you.
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grandparent's Day

We don't get to participate in many grade school activities because Cheryl lives in Ohio and Dales home school. I was happy to be invited to Grandparent's Day at the Ephrata Mennonite School today for two reasons. Three of Jay & Marilyn's children go there and it's where I went for nine years myself. (Jay & Marilyn's children aren't actually our grandchildren but they call us Grandpa and Grandma.)
Grandparents were invited to tell or read a story or do something for the grade their grandchildren are in. Lauren is in kindergarten and the twins are in fourth grade. I read one of my "Esther" stories in each room. I chose those stories because they were written about things I remember from my years in that school. From the sounds I heard while I was reading, I believe they liked the stories.
The story I read to kindergarten told how Esther went to school and learned that lmnop is not one long letter in the middle of the alphabet but actually five separate letters. After I finished reading to the kindergarten, they treated us to a few songs. Unfortunately, Lauren is hidden behind someone's head in this picture. After they finished singing we had lunch with the children.

I was surprised how many familiar faces I saw at school today; not among the students but in the grandparent crowd. It sure doesn't seem like more than 55 years since I was 5 and learning the things these children are learning today. It was fun to go back to school again and remember the good old days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hope and Promise

Spring may not be here yet but we have definitely turned a corner. Temperatures are forecast to be in the 50s for the next two weeks. When I went to bed last night I was actually too warm and chucked the sweat pants. I'm happy to retire them for the season!
The earth has turned her face to receive the kiss of the sun and lip prints are seen everywhere. Daffodils are shooting up and the tulips popped out of the ground over the weekend. This morning I have laundry flapping on the line for the first time in months. The snow has been slowly melting and soaking into the ground at a steady pace. We are thankful rain was not added to the mix and flooding has not been a problem. By Thursday when the next rain is forecast the snow should be pretty well gone. The snow banks have melted enough that both lanes of the road are open now and I am hoping to be able to resume my daily walk this week.
Each season has a beauty of its own but I think spring is the best of all because it is so full of hope and the promise of new life. The season underscores the message of Easter which the the truth upon which our faith stands.
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes---I and not another." (Job 19:25-27 NIV)

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Show

Ha! The forty inches of snow that was supposed to hit us this weekend is going to be a No Show. The forecast is for sunny and in the low 50s. The snow has been slowly disappearing this week and a couple days of 50s should hasten the melt. I am not sorry!
There are other small hopeful signs of spring. Bluebirds and robins have been sighted and on Wednesday I saw a large flock of snow geese. The first miniature crocus are blooming and the daffodils are shooting up. Spring does not officially begin for a few more weeks and I need that time to wrap up my winter projects, but I am ready for spring weather any time.
I think those of us who live in places where there are four distinct seasons appreciate the arrival of spring more. Spring would not be as delightful if we had not endured a long cold winter. There's a reason for each season---in the weather and in life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Run on Bread and Milk Is Forecast

In his homemade almanac, Berks County's self-styled weather prognosticator, Lester G. Moyer, nailed the approximate dates of February's two large snowfalls in eastern Pennsylvania. After those forecasts (based on lunar phases and intuition) were validated, someone mentioned Moyer's forecast for "the grandaddy of 'em all" on March 7, and it snowballed from there.
Press all over the region reported Moyer's call for a potential 40-inch snowfall. People are reported to be changing travel plans and some have already called off work on Monday. Hardware stores are sold out of supplies in anticipation of the "Big One."
According to the Reading Eagle, the senior AccuWeather meterologist near State College has fielded calls about Moyer from every state bordering Pennsylvania. The AccuWeather forecast for March 7 is "partly sunny and 45-50 degrees."
Moyer says the press is making too big a deal of his prediction. "This is not an exact science," he says. But he still believes there is potential (give or take a few days) for ten to fifty inches of snow.
Parts of Berks County have received about 60 inches of snow this winter, or more than double the normal amount. Moyer's predictions are taken more seriously during a winter in which a blizzard develops at the drop of a snowflake. If you live anywhere in eastern Pennsylvania, buy bread and milk now because grocery stores will be overwhelmed Saturday, no matter what meteorologists predict.