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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Judas Asparagus

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, "The Lord thy God is one," but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, "Give me a light!" and someone did. Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden . . . Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.
Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be a million or something.
One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.
After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharoah after God sent ten plagues on Pharoah's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.
God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.
After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, "Close the door! Were you born in a barn?" It would be nice to say, "As a matter of fact, I was.")
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. He also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.
Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trail before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.
Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Season And A Place

I have seen more than sixty springs, yet every year I am amazed again at the rapid rebirth of the earth. A few warm days and the landscape turns a lovely shade of green almost overnight. This is the third day in a row the temperature has reached or exceeded eighty degrees. Flowering trees have burst into bloom and the others are sporting a new crop of pale green baby leaves. The daffodils are almost over and the tulips are now in full bloom. Behind the garage a large patch is purple with violets that decided they liked that spot and made themselves at home. Their tribe is increasing each year.

This week I moved my jungle of potted plants out of the house and into their summer quarters in the patio. The Gerber lily that wintered on the unheated patio actually survived and is blooming beautifully. The other pot that spent most of the winter in the patio was an experiment. A friend gave me a pack of Texas Bluebonnet seed. The instructions said to plant the seed in the fall but I was sure it wouldn't survive outdoors in this part of the world. So I planted the seeds in a pot and nursed the little plants through the long cold winter. For months I hauled that pot indoors overnight so the plants wouldn't freeze and then back out in the morning to try get enough light so they don't turn yellow and die. This week I was rewarded for all this tender loving care with a spike of blue flowers. My poor little bluebonnet is little, pale, and sickly in comparison to the pictures I have seen of the wildflowers in their natural habitat. But I admire my poor little flowers for struggling through a bitter cold winter and blooming in a hostile environment.

Each part of the world had plants and animals that are suited to that particular environment and thrive there. Sometimes things can be transplanted to another part of the world and survive but generally it is best to leave them where they belong. The soil and climate in Pennsylvania is not suitble for Texas Bluebonnets and even though I coaxed one to bloom it is not as big or beautiful as it would be in Texas. But then, Pennsylvania has some things that do not survive in Texas---like snow! There's a season and a place for everything.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Majesty and Glory of Easter

My mother used to say it won't stay warm until after Easter. This year Easter is later in the spring than usual. When I saw Easter is not until April 24 I thought surely spring will be here to stay before that. But Mom was right. We've had a warm day here and there but it did not stay warm. We've had a cool rainy spring but the daffodils bloomed right on schedule, the tulips are starting to bloom, and the grass is ready to mow for the first time. Easter is finally here so now it can get warm and stay warm. I'm ready!
Our family's Easter traditions have changed over the years. When I was a girl we colored eggs at Easter until Mom got tired of the eggs spoiling because no one ate them. I never colored eggs with my children but I did make chocolate covered peanut butter eggs for them. Now I use molds to make finger jello eggs in a variety of colors. Somewhere along the way I got a recipe for cheese filled coffee cake which I make only once a year for our Easter breakfast. Since my parents are both gone my family has dropped the Christmas dinner and has an Easter dinner instead.
I have often wondered if Christmas or Easter is the most important of our annual holidays and came to the conclusion that the two cannot be separated. Christmas is the promise of redemption laid in a manger; Easter's empty tomb is the fulfillment of the promise. The basis for both is the divinity of Jesus Christ. The miracle of the virgin birth paved the way for the miracle of the resurrection. His resurrection is the proof He was the virgin born Son of God. If He was not the Son of God He would not have risen from the dead; if He had not risen there would be no basis for our faith. The resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. The founders of other religions are dead; ours is alive.
During the first year after Steve's death (1994 at age 18) the fact of the resurrection became more real to me. I know exactly where I was the moment it happened. I was washing the kitchen floor when I heard someone on the radio say, "Think of the most impossible thing you would like to see happen. God can do it!" Of course, the thing I most wanted was to see Steve again. I thought Ha! Let's see Him raise the dead. That thought was instantly followed by He did! He can! He will!! Maybe not right at this moment, but as surely as God fulfilled His promise to send us a Redeemer He will keep His promise to raise the dead.
Easter is the proof that Jesus conquered death and the grave. It is the guarantee that death is not the end of life and the words of Jesus are true. "I am the resurrection and the life; He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." That is the majesty and glory of Easter!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


When I was a girl at home, my mother put Venetian blinds in our downstairs windows. I was old enough to help with the cleaning and those wide metal slats had to be dusted every week. I hated cleaning them and declared I would never have blinds in my house. I kept my word and never have.
Did you ever notice how fads and fashions seem to rotate? Things that went out of style in the 60s and 70s are now back in style. After Venetian blinds had been out of style for awhile someone decided it was time to bring them back. The slats were multiplied by narrowing them down and the result was mini-blinds. A generation has risen up that knew not the horrors of cleaning blinds, latched onto the new "cool" look and installed mini-blinds all over their houses. But I had not forgotten and no mini-blinds ever covered my windows. So why was I down on my hands and knees on the front portch this afternoon scrubbing mini-blinds with a scrub brush?
They are not mine! Gerald bought a house in January which needs quite a bit of cleaning. That's not a good environment for a person who is allergic to household dust and mites. I've been working on it and bit by bit and the place is beginning to improve. On Monday I cleaned all the windows in the three bedrooms upstairs and brought home the mini-blinds from two of the rooms. I figured it would be easier clean them in between other things here at home than trying to do them at his house.
One of our other sons also bought a house several years ago that had mini-blinds everywhere. Those were dirty too but they cleaned relatively easily by dipping them up and down in a bathtub full of soapy water and then hosing them off outside over the rail fence. Apparently the dirt on these blinds had been on them much longer for it was stuck fast and no amount of dipping or hosing would remove the thick layer of grime. So after soaking them all morning I wound up out on the porch scrubbing each miserable mini-slat with a scrubbing brush and heavy-duty cleaner.
As I scrubbed away I was struck with the irony of the situation. I was never going to have blinds because I don't want to clean them, and here I am cleaning a house full of them for the second time. What would motivate a woman to do that? The only thing I know is a mother's love and ingrained German hatred of grime.
I asked myself if I have gone back on my vow and decided I have not. I never said I would not clean mini-blinds, I only said I would never have them in my house. And I only do them once. I will give my sons a clean start in their houses but after that it is up to them and their wives to keep them clean. And when they get tired of cleaning mini-blinds they can come over on my side and throw out the miserable things.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

High Hopes Realized

The trip to Virginia was great and my high hopes were realized. What a blessing to have a sister for a traveling companion who enjoys the same things I do!
We began our research day at 8 a.m. Thursday. I had made a list of things we could do and was surprised to actually reach the end of the list by 6 p.m. We visited the courthouse in Harrisonburg, three cemeteries, a heritage center, and a farm owned by Peter Burkholder in the late 1700s and early 1800s. We even went on one bunny trail that was not on my list and wound up driving back a dirt lane through a pasture in (an unsuccessful) search of a historical marker. The sunny warm weather was perfect for outdoor activities and photography. By the end of the day I felt satisfied that I had collected the information I need to document the statements in my Burkholder article.
The three Burkholder legends I am shattering are these:

1. Peter Burkholder traveled to Lancaster County in 1799 to visit his family, got sick and died, and was buried in the Groffdale Mennonite Cemetery.
Facts: Peter did not die in Pa. in 1799. He died in 1812 and is probably buried with his wife in Virginia.
2. Peter's daughter Anna Magdalena married Daniel Brenneman and died in Indiana in 1865. Facts: Peter's estate documents show her name was Anna, her husband was David Brenneman, and she died before 1813.
3. The house in Harrisonburg where church services were held before a church building was constructed was the home of Peter Burkholder Jr.
Facts: Peter Burkholder Jr. certainly preached in that house but a deed search proves he never owned the property.

Here is a picture of Peter Burkholder's farm at the foot of the hill where Trissels Mennonite Church now stands. This is the land that was surveyed for him in 1792 and for which he received a patent in 1801 (after he supposedly died in Pa.).

The second day of our time in Virginia was spent at the annual Writer's Conference sponsored by Christian Light Publications. My sister and I both were in the workshops on story writing in the morning and afternoon sessions. I got an update from one of the men on the book committee on the status of my new book. It is being processed but the wheels grind exceedingly slow and it may not be on the market until next year. They were not exactly sitting on their hands waiting for me to write a book. It is one of many in the lineup and I must wait my turn.
I should be able to wrap up the Burkholder article this week and have it ready to go when the editor begins working on it. And then I guess I can pick a new project. What shall it be?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High Hopes

I am preparing to leave my husband this afternoon. Don't worry. I'll be back.

My sister and I are going to Harrisonburg, Va., to spend Thursday researching Burkholders and attending the annual Writer's Conference at Christian Light Publications on Friday.

On Thursday, I hope to find the last pieces of evidence I need to fully prove Peter Burkholder did not die in Pa. in 1799 but was still living in Va. until 1811. I am positive I am right because this week, thanks to the Library of Virginia website, I located the patent issued to Peter for 555 acres of land in Rockingham County in 1801. Dead men do not buy land! I also want to get copies of his estate settlement papers. With those documents in hand, I will be able to insert the last footnotes on my Burkholder article and finally complete that winter project.

On Friday my sister and I will attend the morning and afternoon sessions of Writer's Conference. We will not stay for the evening session because she needs to be home for Saturday. During the time I am there I hope to get an update from the editor on the current position of my new book in the publishing lineup and the projected release date. Perhaps I might be able to get a sneak preview of what they have in mind for the cover.

I'm setting off with high hopes and we shall see how many of them are realized when I return Friday night.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Burkholder Business

After spending most of four months working on an article about the Burkholders, I am just about ready to say it is finished. I spent the first couple months writing about the Burkholder immigrants and their Swiss ancestry. In the process, I found some things about the descendants of Christian Burkholder that were either missing or garbled in the genealogy books.

After the article was finished I thought I should write down some of the things I found in my research about Christian's descendants and the documentation for the correct information. That led to listing all of Christian's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Every time I thought I was finished and reviewed it I would find something else that sent me on another search. In the end, I spent most of March putting this genealogy together.

Yesterday I wrapped up the project by visiting two historical societies and confirming the last bits I had marked in red. I came home and entered all the corrections and additions and am now pronouncing it finished. There are still a few people I could not find but so be it. A few blanks in a list of nearly 200 people is not excessive.

This article is supposed to be in the July issue of Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage. The editor is about to start working on it. I think it will be ready in time. I just need to collect one more piece of documentation on Christian's brother Peter next week when I go to Virginia (and hope it doesn't lead me down another trail) so I can finally wrap up this Burkholder business. Spring is here and other things are peeking over the horizon.