Comments are welcome but please have the courtesy to sign your name. Unsigned comments will be deleted.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I just finished housecleaning my kitchen. I know a lot of people don't houseclean anymore but I still like the feeling of having everything in the room spotless. The kitchen is the big one and it has taken me all week to do the job. I started on Monday with the stove and refrigerator, went on to do another segment every day (cupboards, walls & windows, furniture), and finished with the floor today. We put a no-wax floor in but it still has to be stripped and polished occasionally. I've been putting it off the last couple years but decided to bite the bullet and do it this year.
My housecleaning has changed over the years as the family changed. When we had six children in the house, I housecleaned the whole place twice a year and, believe me!, it needed it. By the time the children started leaving my back could no longer take cleaning the entire house in six weeks. It wasn't getting as dirty anymore either so I changed the rules. I set up a cleaning schedule that began the end of August with the porch and patio. Then I cleaned one room per month until I finished in April or May. My back liked that better and getting over the place once in a year was enough.
Less dirt or not, it has always taken me at least a week to clean the kitchen. When I had three preschoolers underfoot it took me two weeks to get the job done. Now I have the place to myself but I move slower and it still takes me a week to do it. Next year, after more than 40 years of parenting, we'll become empty nesters. Then the whole upstairs will be guest rooms and won't need housecleaning anymore. I won't be complaining! I like the look and smell of an all-clean room but I don't mind cutting back some more. I'm not getting any younger.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Amish Way

So many books have been written about the Amish I didn't see the need for another one. But a new one, co-authored by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher, has just appeared on the market. The Amish Way is sort of a sequel to Amish Grace, published three years ago by the same authors after the murder of the Amish school girls at Nickel Mines.
The world was captivated with the story of the forgiveness of the Amish that followed the Nickel Mines tragedy. The authors of Amish Grace decided there was no book that fully explained the Amish history, beliefs, practices and affections. They decided to "listen more closely for the religious heartbeat that sustains their entire way of life," to examine, as the subtitle puts it, "Patient Faith in a Perilous World."
I have not read the book yet but have read some reviews of it. One review says the authors list the benefits of Amish life: security of faith, serenity, satisfaction and stability of community. They say the four costs of living the Amish way are surrender of self-determination, options, conveniences and privacy. Some of the things we can learn from them are the value of practices, patience, past and people.
The statement that gripped me most in this review says, "The authors make it clear the Amish insist on obeying the many biblical sayings that we conveniently play down, ignore or explain away."
That is a mouthful. Does the Bible say what it means and mean what it says? Then why don't we do what it says?
Amish are not the only born again Christians in the world and not all Amish are born again Christians. Whatever applications we make, our lifestyle should be based on the same biblical principles of the Amish way of life--faith, community, submission, and patience.
Too many Christians have compromised with or swallowed the world's philosophies, conveniently playing down, ignoring or explaining away what the Bible says. And what is the result? In plain words, if you live like the world you get the world's problems. You don't have to be Amish to live "the Amish way." Just read your Bible and do what it says.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Progress Report

About two years ago Leroy started collecting parts to build a scaled down model John Deere B. For awhile it was just a pile of parts and then it slowly began to take shape. He still has a long ways to go but it is actually starting to resemble a tractor now. He's how it looks at the moment. He has an engine to put in it when he gets that far. At the rate he's gone so far, it will probably take him another two years to finish it. But then, if he decides to retire it could go faster. At this point he's planning to keep on working at least part time a little longer. He's put so much time in this project I'm sure it will be an exciting day when it is finished and ready to take out for a drive. It's going to be a one-of-a-kind, that's for sure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clean Up Our Act

We had another tour group at the historical society yesterday. The group is divided into four small groups which circlulate between three guides in the church, farm, and home sections. I put on my black Old Order Mennonite clothes and took our guests through the domestic portion of the museum.
One question that is asked frequently is if the black tie ribbons on my white cap mean I am married. They are usually surprised when I say, "No, it just means that I am over forty. " I never know what they will ask. Yesterday one of the ladies asked what is inside the pin cushions. That was one I've never been asked and had to say I did not know.
One of the men saw the wine set on display and said, "But the Mennonites and Amish don't drink, do they?" I had to be honest and admit some do. He said, "Well, maybe some of the Mennonites do, but NOT the Amish." What would you have said?
Later in the day I was working with one of the staff getting an arrowhead collection ready to be cataloged when she got a phone call. She came back and said, "The questions people ask!" The caller was a tourist who wanted to visit the Risser's Mennonite Church and wondered if the people there would be offended if they showed up in slacks. What would they think if they attended a service and found the women wearing slacks?
These two incidents made me think seriously about the difference between what we are and what the rest of the world expects of us. Although they may not do it themselves, people know we should not drink and women should wear skirts.
The Mennonite and Amish have been put on a pedestal and marketed to the world as a people who live an idyllic lifestyle. One tourist who visited the society was surprised to find the Amish country is not a vast farmland with only buggies on the road but crowded with the same commercialism they had at home. Amish do not live in a closeted community but between the Walmarts, McDonalds, Sheetz, etc. seen in any other part of the country.
Tourists are led to believe Mennonites and Amish are separate from the world and living on a higher plane of righteousness than other Christians. Not so! Mennonites and Amish are people just like everyone else. We deal with the same sin nature as our neighbors and are far from perfect. Some Mennonites have been so assimilated into the culture that they blend in and cannot be identified by their appearance. The tourist industry brings people from all parts of the world to our doors and provides an opportunity to share our faith. What does it do to our testimony when people find out we are not what they thought or know we should be?
We better clean up our act! Not just to protect our image but for our own good and for the generations that follow us.

Friday, October 15, 2010


October is one of my favorite months because it is so beautiful. The blue skies are a perfect backdrop for the multi-colored leaves. Sometimes I wonder if the real reason the leaves turn red is because the trees are either embarrassed or terrified to see their leaves go and know they will have to stand naked in the snow all winter long.
After the heat of the summer, the cooler October air is invigorating. This year we were able to postpone the beginning of heating season until yesterday. We don't need much heat yet but the furnace ran a few times to take the chill out of the house. The oil tank was just filled and the price was a little "ouch!" but I will not complain. So many people in this world do not have the money or fuel to heat their homes. We have both and are blessed indeed.
Apples are in season in October and we eat lots of them. I have to be careful not to overload Leroy's lunch with apples. I've been guilty of giving him a raw apple, slice of apple pie, dish of applesauce, and bottle of cider---all in the same lunch. When that happens he says he has apple everything, even apple apples.
This week I've been working on giving the basement its annual housecleaning. The bugs and spiders that made themselves at home have all been evicted and it looks much better. I always think of that job as the first step in getting ready for Christmas. It's going to be here before we know what happened.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lovely Weekend

The weather this weekend was gorgeous and we were out there enjoying it. Somehow it seems a lot of festivals and outdoor events are always planned for September and October. We can't do all of them so we have to pick and choose.
The first one we went to on Saturday was the 200th anniversary of a local Reformed church. They are one of the few fortunate ones to have a surviving Dieffenbach organ. The Dieffenbachs were a family of organ builders from colonial times. I wanted to hear the organ but the recital was scheduled for 2 p.m. and we had other things to do at that time. At least I got to see the organ.

From there we went to the Prince Street Cafe in Lancaster for lunch with my sisters and then we all went to hear the Ephrata Cloister Chorus sing in the balconey of the Saal (church) at the Cloister. Their colonial style of slow, soft music is beautiful. I could have listened for an hour instead of the fifteen minutes they actually sang.

On Sunday we went to the Stauffer reunion near New Holland. Uncle Norman had a doll which belonged to his grandmother (Leroy's great-grandmother) Susanna Sensenich Stauffer. She was born in 1853 so the doll is probably 150 years old. The doll was passed on to Uncle Norman's wife, Susie, because she had the same name. She passed away a two years ago and he is going to pass it on to his daughter, Mary Elaine. He brought it for us to see before she comes from New Mexico to claim it.

On the way home from the reunion we stopped to see an old house on the north end of Bowmansville. This house was built by Christian and Judith (Weber) Musselman in 1813. It is now in the middle of a development but the developer is trying to find a buyer to restore it. He is an old friend of Leroy and schoolmate of mine so he told us we should help ourselves to a self-guided tour any time we like. I took lots of pictures while I had the opportunity. The section built in 1813 is on the right with a "dawdy house" addition on the left.

This house does not have a bathroom and a sink is the only running water in the house. It has a bare minimum of electric and no furnace. The plaster is falling off the walls and some of the windows are broken. It would take a lot of work to restore it but the walls and framework are solid and the developer is not going to allow it to be demolished. I thought the crowning feature inside the house is this old fireplace with bi-fold doors in the kitchen.

The developer is adding a garage and fixing up the dawdy end of the house to make a small apartment. He hopes that will make it more attractive for someone to buy the house and live in that end while they work at restoring the 1813 section. I hope he succeeds! The house could be made very nice by someone who knows how to do it. I hope someone rises to the challenge and preserves this place.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Native American Prayer

I came across this Native American Prayer this week. The theology may be questionable but I like the thought, especially since we had an unexpected death in the family two weeks ago.

I give you this one thought to keep---
I am with you still---I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone---
I am with you still---in each new dawn.
"Today thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Facebook Warning

YOUR PHONE NUMBER MAY BE ON FACEBOOK! Go to the top right of your screen, click Account then Edit Friends. Go to the left side of your screen and click Phonebook. Everyone's phone numbers are now being published. Please let your friends know this is happening so they can remove their numbers by changing their privacy settings. To do that, Go to Privacy Settings-Phone-Customize setting-then select Only Me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Weekend to Remember

There are weekends and then there are WEEKENDS. The one we've just come through was in the latter category---a weekend to remember.
On Saturday it was one year that Gerald and Kelly had their first date. He bought a dozen roses at the flower shop which he told me were to celebrate the milestone in their lives. That seemed reasonable but my mother's intuition kicked in and I wondered if there was more behind the roses than he was telling me. About 8:30 in the evening I heard a car drive in and said to Leroy, "Somebody is here. Is it Gerald and Kelly? Do they have something to tell us?" It was and they did! They had just been engaged. Plans are still very fuzzy but they are thinking of having a summer wedding.
Even if this development was not totally unexpected, we turned a definite corner in life this weekend. We were able to keep our youngest fledgling in the nest much longer than many of our friends who have been empty nesters for years. But now we are about to join their ranks. He is 27 and it is time to let him go but we'll miss him. I had nine months to prepare for his coming and have about that long to prepare to let him go. We've been blessed to have children in the house more than 42 years but now we've come full circle and are coming back to where we started with a family of two. I never guessed the years would fly by so fast.
We wish Gerald and Kelly a long and happy marriage and God's richest blessing as they start their family of two.

Friday, October 1, 2010

High Self-esteem

I don't know about you but I always feel affirmed when I hear someone else say the same things I've been saying is true. I had one of those moments when I read a column in today's morning paper. The headline was "High self-esteem not a good trait for children to have."

Here are some excerpts:

"Research . . . has clearly shown that high self-esteem is closely associated with antisocial inclinations. . . I was not allowed to possess high self-esteem. When I had an outburst of high self-esteem, one of [my parents] would tell me I was acting too big for my britches and needed to size myself to the psychic garment in question before they were forced to lend me a literal hand.
Then there were those occasions when one or the other of them would say, "It would be good for you to always remember that no matter what you accomplish in this world, you are really just a little fish in a big pond."
Everyone in my generation heard these very healthy things from their parents. . . Research finds that the higher a person's self-regard, the lower his regard for others. . . People with high self-esteem want to be paid attention to and served. They believe in their entitlement. On the other hand, folks with high regard for others pay attention to otthers and look for opportunities to serve them.
It is inarguable that culture is best served, preserved and advanced by folks who fit into the latter category. Entitlements weaken, and a culture-wide entitlement mentality weakens the entire culture."
There is not one word in this article about the Bible but the ideas he is promoting are exactly what Jesus taught. The greatest people are those who serve, not those who are being served. Modern psychology has preached the self-esteem line so hard and so long that even gullible Christians have swallowed it. I acknowledge that it is damaging to a child to be physically or verbally abused. But that is another subject.
The goal in raising children is not to make them "feel good about themselves" but to teach them to be caring compassionate people who put the needs of others ahead of their own. "In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." That's the Biblical principle for self-esteem. The most humble are not only the greatest, they are also the happiest for happiness is the by-product of loving service.
J-esus first, Y-ourself last, and O-thers in between spells JOY.
High self-esteem is simply another label for plain old selfishness and pride.