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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

School Days

I've been enjoying seeing the first-day-of-school pictures the Mamas are proudly posting on Facebook this week.
I couldn't help comparing these pictures with the days when my own children started school. If we took pictures at all, it was with film and weeks later before we saw the pictures. And then the photo may have been a dud that did not properly preserve the moment.
Reading the comments mothers are making with their photos tells me that even though technology has changed, mothering has not. There is pride and excitement at seeing the first one march off to kindergarten or first grade, and also some sadness and trepidation. The little one that has been under our care 24/7 is now going out into the big scary world where others will have an influence on him or her.
By the time the last one begins the march to the first day of school, mothers have gotten used to sending children to school and the tone of the comments changes. There is still excitement but with the flavor of relief. At last! I have a quiet house all day to get things done without someone underfoot. I can identify with that feeling too. How long a mother has preschoolers varies with the number and age spread of the children. Since our six were spread over fifteen years, I had preschoolers in the house for twenty years. I wasn't sure I knew how to function without a preschooler around when the last one started kindergarten. It took me about two days to get used to and decide I liked it!
For so many years, my daily and annual schedule revolved around school---buying new clothes and school supplies in August, packing lunches, driving to and from school, helping with homework, going to school functions, paying tuition. After the last one graduated from high school we had a break for a few years and then he started college. Our involvement in school days began in 1974 when the first one went to first grade and ended in 2010 when the youngest graduated from college.
This is my moment of triumph at crossing the finish line. All done but the shouting!
School was a fact of life for many years. I didn't hate it, but I certainly am counting my blessings that I don't have to deal with school anymore. Been there done that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

True Evangelical Faith

If you are a Mennonite or another branch of Anabaptist, you are probably familiar with the words of Menno Simons in which he describes the nature of true evangelical faith. A beautiful song has been written using some of the words and titled True Evangelical Faith. The words in the song are highlighted below.

For true evangelical faith is of such a nature that it cannot lie dormant,
but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love;
It dies unto all flesh and blood;
it destroys all forbidden lusts and desires;
it seeks and serves and fears God;
it clothes the naked;
it feeds the hungry;
it comforts the sorrowful;
it shelters the destitute;
it aids and consoles the sad;
it returns good for evil;
it serves those who harm it;
it prays for those that persecute it;
teaches, admonishes, and reproves with the Word of the Lord;
it seeks that which is lost;
it binds up that which is wounded;
it heals that which is diseased and it saves that which is sound.
It becomes all things to all men.
Menno Simons, 1539
In statements flanking either side of the highlighted text above, Menno emphasized how true faith will press on to righteousness, love and obedience. True faith results in love for God which leads to obedience to the commandments of God.
I'm not saying this song is wrong, but the truncated quote emphasizes a social gospel and leaves out the aspects of evangelism, righteousness, and suffering which were very much part of the original Anabaptist vision.
As we reflect on Menno’s full version, let us awaken the other areas that embody true faith. Self-denial and obedience are qualities that the majority of American Mennonites are not familiar with. Prosperity has made us soft and we know nothing of the persecution that was part of everyday life for our Anabaptist forefathers. While true evangelical faith does meet the physical needs of the suffering, it is much more than that and we dare not omit the more weighty matters such as righteous living, self-denial and obedience.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Change of Seasons

The summer is winding down and subtle signs of fall are approaching. Back-to-school sales are popular right now. Leroy cut down the corn this week and the garden is empty except for tomatoes and potatoes. It seems just yesterday that we planted and we're at the end of harvest already. Yesterday  I heard some Canadian geese circling overhead. Another sound of approaching fall.
I take a break from housecleaning over summer but the seasons begin to overlap when the cycle begins again at the end of August with scrubbing the front porch and patio in back of the house. I like to do them while it's still warm enough to slop with the hose. I always wind up getting wet but soon dry off again on a warm day.
I did the porch yesterday with the help of a 3-year-old grandson who was spending the day with me. He loved it! Leroy put a different kind of nozzle on the hose and I wasn't going to show him how it worked because I knew what would happen. Well, he figured it out himself and the results were as expected. We both came in soaked, but soon dried off again.
This has been a very busy year, beginning with our trip to Texas at the end of March. May was extremely full and there was one thing after another all through June, July, and August. The corn, tomatoes, peaches, and apples are all canned now and the dust is beginning to settle. But now the summer is almost over. I'm just thankful we are in good health and able to do all these things.
I shall not lack for things to do in the fall. I always have a to-do list and it is always supplemented with things that pop up as we go along.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Kitchen Adventures

Well, that was interesting! I don't recall ever bandaging myself on a spot I couldn't see. It sure would have helped to have a ball joint in my ankle.
What happened? I pushed a chair to the sink to get something that was above my reach, which incidentally isn't very high. When I picked it up slightly to position it, I didn't notice the floor protector had fallen out of the chair leg (nail point up) and stepped squarely on it. Gusher!
I put my foot on a Kleenex and slid it to the bathroom where I made another mess trying to stop the bleeding. A Band-Aid didn't work. It was soaked before I got it in place. So I got out the bag of sterile pads and gauze, but I still wasn't sure exactly where the puncture was. There was no one around to help me so I put a mirror under my foot to locate the source of the gusher. Ah! There it is, at the bottom of the fourth toe.
I'm not very proficient at bandaging and self-bandaging by looking in a mirror is awkward , but I got it done and stanched the flow. Now I'm hobbling around trying to get food ready for supper tonight. The company is just going to have to overlook the pink slipper I'm wearing to keep the bandage clean.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Drought in Haiti

My niece has been operating a clinic for ten years at La Source in northern Haiti. Here is a portion from her last email:
"We've been having a drought--the worst one in the 10 years I've lived here.  People usually plant beans, corn and peanuts in April or May.  This year there were a few good rains but they did not continue. People planted twice, but each time the plants withered and died before they got to be a foot tall--there wasn't even anything worth giving their goats, donkeys and sheep of the remaining plants.  This is normally a hungry season, supplies from the harvest in January are dwindling and crops planted in April or May are just beginning to be harvested.  Children, who often receive a free lunch at school, are all at home depending on their parents for food.  This year is even worse, not only because there isn't food around but also because there is no hope of food in the foreseeable future. . .
In August hopefully the rains will come more regularly again allowing people to plant millet, beans and a few more peanuts (although some people have already sold their seed stock in order to buy food), but even then the harvest wouldn't be ready until January. 
We are getting lots of requests to help people pay off food that they've bought on credit from local merchants. It is challening to know how to handle them because in many ways it feels like a bottomless pit.  We can help them pay for food they bought two weeks ago, but that's been eaten long ago and they still need food to eat today and tomorrow and if they couldn't pay for that food how are they going to pay for the next batch?  People are willing to work, but it is impossible for us to employ everyone. . . .
The next few months will be difficult ones as families scrounge for money to send their children back to school, money to buy them new uniforms, shoes and books.  The staff will be under considerable pressure to help pay schooling for people and it is impossible to help everyone.  I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers for wisdom to prioritize and how to best help."
As I took my morning walk yesterday and saw the tall corn and lush growth on every side, I remembered our dry spell in May. The corn I planted in the garden did not come up and I wondered what kind of summer we were going to have. But then the rains came, the corn came up, and regular rains produced an abundant crop. I tried to imagine how it would be if the rains had never come and wished I could send some of our excess to the hungry people in Haiti.
That very day, we got a letter from Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) which also described the famine in Haiti caused by the drought. They are sending corn and beans to the La Source area. I can't send my excess to Haiti but I can send money to CAM to help feed the hungry in Haiti.
If you would like to help, send your donation to Christian Aid Ministries, P.O. Box 360, Berlin, Ohio 44610. Mark it for Drought in Haiti.

"Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least, you have done it unto me."