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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Cookie Bake

Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition began before I existed and has been part of my Christmas as long as I can remember. It has been done in various places with different groups of people, but one way or another the tradition goes on.
The last few years my daughters-in-love and some of the grandchildren have gathered to do the baking. My daughter lives in Ohio and is seldom able to join us but participates by proxy. She bakes hers at home, brings them when she comes at Christmas, and collects her share from our bake.
The cookie bake was at my house this year. Five of us each baked two kinds of cookies. One of the ladies was missed on this photo. You can see the taste-testers were doing their job!
Grayson got some lessons in cookie decorating.
Christmas cookies just would not be complete without the decorated cut-out Sugar Cookies.
I really don't need ten dozen cookies but don't want to miss out. One year I baked all by myself and it felt like work. This was fun.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Texas Trip

In the mid-1960s, the factory where I worked constructed a large addition to the building. After everything was in place they gave us tours. In the new lunch room there was a machine that would heat food in one minute. I tried it just to see how it worked. Amazing! I never dreamed I'd have one of those machines in my own kitchen and use it every day.
Another fascinating machine I saw on the tour was an IBM machine in the office. With this machine they could send electronic messages back and forth between the Pennsylvania and Arizona plants. Amazing! Again, I never dreamed I'd have such a machine in my own home and use it every day.
The Internet has become so much a part of everyday life I feel cut off when it is down. The Internet is my encyclopedia, dictionary, phone book, recipe book, and more. The genealogy research I do would  be very restricted without the Internet. More things are online today then even five years ago. It is now possible to find public records such as wills, deeds, death certificates, etc. from other states without physically going there.
Yesterday I traveled to Texas via the Internet. According to oral family history, my paternal grandfather bought a grapefruit orchard in Texas just before the stock market crash. It was a bad move but he was not able to foresee the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years that were just around the corner. He was bankrupted and lost everything, including the land in Texas.
I always wondered exactly when my grandfather bought that land and where it was located but Texas is huge and I had no idea where to start looking. I had tried earlier but came up blank. I often dreamed of going down there to search by going from county to county to look at deeds. This week I decided to try another Internet search.
Oral history said the orchard was in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas. I found a website that had a free deed index for some of the counties in Texas. I tried Cameron County first because that is the most southern county. I searched for Burkholder and viola! There it was! E N Burkholder bought land in Cameron County on November 14, 1928. The date fit the oral story but I needed to see the deed to be sure.
Seconds after my credit card was charged $2, I had a copy of the deed in my computer. Bingo! The deed said E N Burkholder was from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He bought 9.99 acres in Cameron County near Harlingen. It's way down near the tip of Texas, a few miles above Brownsville.
The questions of when and where are finally answered, and without leaving home. But I'm still dreaming of going down there to see the land. Now that I know the general area, it would not require as much time. We could fly down, go directly to Harlingen, and see it in one day. I'm hoping to pin down the exact location of those ten acres first so I can see the exact spot. Will it happen? I don't know. But armchair travel and dreams are free.
 P.S. Where did I get this picture if I haven't been there? Three guesses and the first two don't count!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hiding In The Corners

I've been keeping Grayson one day per week since he was about three months old. This is the first grandchild who lives close enough for me to babysit regularly and I'm taking advantage of the opportunity.
He will be two in January and by now he knows where he's going when the car turns in at our road. He loves to be here and I love having him. He doesn't talk a lot yet but can get his message across very well with sign and body language. Lately when his mother comes to take him home he indicates he wants to stay. This week he ran into the kitchen and tried to hide in the corner behind the sofa. Because he couldn't see us from his hiding place he thought we couldn't see him. But we had seen him going and knew where he was.
I thought about how adults do the same thing but in other ways. Because we can't see God, we forget that He sees everything we do, and even knows every thought we have. The dirty little secrets we have and think no one knows are known by Him.
I was reminded of a something I quoted when I was teaching Sunday school last Sunday. "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool God any of time."
I thought about that again this morning as I finished housecleaning my kitchen. It was a bit-by-bit process but I finally got it done. I used to do a thorough cleaning twice a year but as the size of the family in residence decreased, once a year was enough. Now that we are back to the original two we started with the amount of dirt that accumulates in the empty nest has decreased some more.
Some years ago an empty nester whom I considered a good housekeeper said she does not houseclean anymore. She said, "When something is dirty, I clean it." I could not imagine how my house would look if I didn't houseclean. But I'm starting to understand. I took a shortcut in the kitchen this year. Last year I took everything out of the cupboards and wiped the shelves but on some of them the rag didn't pick up any dirt. This year I decided it just isn't necessary to do that and only cleaned the ones that were dirty. There may be some dirt hiding in the corners but when it builds up enough that I can see it I'll take care of it. My kitchen looks good even if I did cut a few corners. God knows my dirty little secret and now so do you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Memory

It's hard to believe we ate Steve's last birthday cake twenty years ago today.

His memory is a treasure
With which we'll never part;
God has him in His keeping,
We have him in our hearts.


Steven P. Stauffer, 18, of 15 Harry Stoudt drive, Bernville, was pronounced dead at the scene of a one-car accident Sunday [January 2, 1994] on Route 501, south of Schaefferstown, Lebanon County.
Born in Lebanon, he was a son of Leroy and Romaine (Burkholder) Stauffer, at home.
Stauffer was employed by Rigidply Rafters, Richland.
He was a member of Fairhaven Mennonite Church, Myerstown.
Also surviving are a sister, Cheryl, wife of Richard Miller, Quaker City, Ohio; and four brothers, Daryl L., L. Eugene and Gerald D., all at home, and Dale R., East Earl, Lancaster County.
There are also his grandparents, Phares and Sarah Stauffer, Richland.
Services will be Thursday at 10 a.m. in Fairhaven Mennonite Church. Burial will be in Myerstown Mennonite Cemetery. The Clauser Funeral Home, Schaefferstown, is in charge of arrangements.
Reading Eagle, January 4, 1994

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blow By Blow

Some weeks life plods along in the same pattern day after day and not much seems to be happening. Some weeks everything seems to go wrong and then we wish for our comfortable old rut. This week fell somewhere in the middle; it was neither boring nor chaotic. But it WAS interesting.
My brother arrived from Canada at 1 a.m. Sunday but since we had turned the clocks back to Standard Time it was midnight.We had a houseful of company all day Sunday with 15 here for lunch, 25 for supper, and a few others that came and went between meals. My brother was here until Thursday morning. We didn't see much of him as his days were filled with meetings, but we did get to visit a bit each morning over breakfast.
We also had revivals this week so that meant going to church each evening. Our evangelist was from eastern Ontario and his wife had come with him. I invited them for supper Friday and that rounded out the week with guests at our table every day. Our revivals were supposed to run through Nov. 10 but one of our members died this week. The revivals were cut short and ended on Friday because of the funeral this weekend.
I coughed and blew my way through all these activities. My cold is nearly two weeks old and I have blown my way through two boxes of Kleenex. I'm starting on the third one today. Living blow by blow is getting rather old. I'm ready for this cold to dry up and blow away.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reformation Day

Yesterday it was 593 years that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, the eve of All Saints' Day. That event is considered the beginning of the Reformation.

His actions that day led Martin Luther to break away from the Catholic church and found the Lutheran Church. His contemporary, Ulrich Zwingli, followed his lead shortly after and founded the Reformed Church. Luther retained more of the Catholic beliefs than Zwingli. Ironically, the one thing that separated them was their divergent teachings on the chief Sacrament of Christian unity: the Eucharist. Martin Luther believed in Transubstantiation, or that the  bread and wine was turned into blood and body of Christ. Ulrich Zwingli thought that it was a symbolic transformation. Zwingli carried the reformation further than Luther and also removed the images, candles, gold trimmings, and other decorative things from the church.
Our Anabaptist founder, Felix Manz, was a student of Ulrich Zwingli. Felix and his friends, Conrad Grebel and George Blaurock, felt that Zwingli was not carrying the reformation far enough. They believed infant baptism was not Scriptural and that the church and state should be separate. Seeing debate with Zwingli was fruitless, they practiced believer's baptism in January 1525 which is considered the founding of the Anabaptist church.
In 1926, General Synod of the Reformed Church voted to "designate the Sunday nearest October 31 as Reformation Day." This year, Reformation Sunday was observed on October 27. Not much is made of Reformation Sunday in our Anabaptist churches as we do not recognize Martin Luther as our founder. But we are the beneficiaries of his courage in challenging the false doctrines of the Catholic church. People listened to him, started thinking and reading the Scriptures for themselves instead of just swallowing whatever the priest told them.
Felix Manz and Conrad Grebel were highly educated, able to read the Scriptures in the Hebrew and Greek languages in which they were originally written. The key to the Reformation was not the work of any man. It was the work of the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of men who read the Scriptures.
Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The Catholic church had strayed far from the truth and invented doctrines that were not found in the Scriptures. But God was not going to let His church fall into ruin. He raised up men who read the Scriptures and saw the Truth.
As with Christmas and Easter, the devil has a counterfeit for October 31 and has a heyday on Reformation Day. How much better it would be to celebrate something positive on October 31 and make it a day of thanks to God for building His church!
German Bible and Martyrs' Mirror book which were used by Christian Burkholder (1746-1809).