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Thursday, August 24, 2017


Life is a series of changes. Most of them are so gradual they are barely noticeable unless you look back over a period of years. Other times, the changes come swiftly or even unexpectedly and life is never the same again. We had a couple changes this week that we knew were coming but they happened the same day.
In October it will be 49 years since we moved into the house we built the first year we were married. We had a list of things we wanted to do "someday" and began the next spring by seeding grass on the lawn. As the family grew, we added bedrooms and bath upstairs, built a separate garage (and enlarged it when the boys were teenagers), fixed up the basement, put shutters on, and added an enclosed patio. The last thing on the list was to blacktop the driveway. It finally happened. They came on Tuesday to get it ready and the asphalt was applied on Wednesday. We will never have to rake stones out of the grass again when the snow drifts melt. 

While most of this was being done, I was off on a play day with Grayson. I started keeping him one day each week when he was about two months old. He was just a little bump in my cradle.

But he grew fast 

and we had a lot of good times together.

He liked to help bake and work in the garden.

Next week he will start kindergarten and go to school every day so the visits will have to stop. Yesterday was his last weekly visit so I decided to do something special to mark the occasion. He's all into trains right now so a trip to Strasburg Railroad was just the ticket. He jumped up and down when I told him we're going for a ride on a real train.

We both enjoyed the ride and topped off the day with lunch at McDonalds on the way home. Then we came home to watch the machines working on the driveway.
When I look at the time ahead of me I feel at loose ends. I have finished all the writing projects I had started, Grayson won't be coming anymore, and my best history collaborator passed into history himself on August 8. What am I going to do? I need a new project. 
Jab! That was my conscience telling me I need to get off the computer and begin with housecleaning the patio. It's time for that end-of-summer job. Okay, okay. I'm going.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Heavens Declare

Today was the big day of the 2017 total eclipse. People drove hours from their homes all across the nation to see it and eclipse glasses were the hottest item on the market. It was only about 75% here but enough to darken the house around 2:40 p.m. 
I did not have anything that made it safe to look at the sun so I watched it on a news report on the computer. The crowds in Idaho Falls went wild when the moon totally blocked out the sun in the middle of the day. 

It got dark enough that the street lights came on and stars appeared. The air turned cooler and it was possible to look at the sun without protective glasses for a little over a minute. I could hear people exclaiming and screaming at the sight. 
It was indeed a sight to behold, but the response of the crowd made me think of the verse that says "they worshiped the creature more than the Creator." The only mention I heard of God in the whole time was a repeated "Oh my God!" and it was not said in a worshipful way. 
We heard an excellent sermon Sunday morning on the subject. Our minister said the only reason man can accurately predict the timing and path of the eclipse is because of the orderliness and power of God and the fact that He continues to control all things. 
While a total eclipse is a rare and amazing event, it is more than a phenomena or freak nature show. It is a display of the power of God. 
"The heavens declare the glory of God the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Family Pictures

Here are the family pictures I promised would follow. It took us 50 years to get this tribe together. (Click to enlarge)

Family groups left to right--Gerald & Kelly Stauffer, Dale & Tawnya Stauffer with 9 children, us, Daryl & Velma, Cheryl & Richard Miller with 3 children and one daughter-in-law, Gene & Amy Stauffer with 1 son, Jay & Marilyn Martin with 5 children

Our five children, left to right: Gerald, Dale, Gene, Daryl, Cheryl
In order by age: Daryl, Dale, Cheryl, Gene, Gerald

Our five children and a borrowed one, Jay Martin, on left

The grandchildren: Left side, Dale's 9 children; Center, Cheryl's 3 children and Gene's one son in center front; Right side, Jay's 5 children

For this occasion I wanted a full dress formal picture and asked everyone to come dressed like they were at a wedding. Aren't they beautiful!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Golden Anniversary

We were married on July 15, 1967. Our Golden Wedding Anniversary was too far away to even think about at that time. I couldn't imagine all that might happen and how we would look in fifty years. Well, guess what! Fifty years turned out to be a lot shorter than I thought and in 2017, here we are! 
Our children set up a family meeting in January to pick a date to take family pictures and have a party. We went all through June and July until we finally agreed on August 5. With all that everyone had going on, it's good we set the date that far in advance.
We said they had thrown a big party for our fortieth anniversary and we didn't think it was necessary to do that again. We preferred to keep it to family and invite only our children, grandchildren, siblings, and of course, Leroy's mother. How many people still have their mothers when they celebrate their fiftieth anniversary?! So our friends would not be left out, they decided to have a card shower. The cards started coming in July and continued all month. It was like Christmas in July! We got 78 cards in the end. Some had gift cards or money in them. We decided to save the money for the trip we're planning to take to see The Ark this fall.
I wanted to take a full-dress formal family picture for this occasion and made a lot of noise that everyone MUST be there, no exceptions, and appropriately dressed. With a group that size, we were not going to fit in a studio and it would have to be outdoors. The party was also going to be a picnic outdoors. The weather was beyond our control but I watched the forecast daily. The closer we got to the day the better it looked. 
We met at 8 a.m. to take family pictures. It was overcast when we started but by the time we finished the sky was blue. It was perfect! And everyone showed up dressed for a wedding. Because my bridal party wore pink, several thought we should have pink in the color scheme. The colors were any combination of black, white, pink, and gray. Everyone looked so nice all dressed up! I had made a new white dress and carried a half dozen pink roses. I don't have the photographer pictures yet but here's a couple of getting ready to take pictures.

When we finished, the families scattered to get things ready for the party in the evening. Gerald went to the picnic grounds first to set up and start grilling the chicken.

One by one the families arrived bringing their portion of things for the meal. 

By 4 p.m. the guests started to arrive. We were greatly honored that my brother and his wife flew in from northwestern Ontario just to be here for this occasion. They miss a lot of family events and it was really special to have them here. The Lord blessed us with perfect weather. It was a wonderful evening and the food was delicious. It felt strange to sit there and watch them do all the work but they proved they were fully capable of doing it without my help. I can retire!

You can't see it, but our first great-grandchild was here at the left end of the table. (due in January)
I think the celebrating is finished now and we are plowing on, starting our second fifty years.  We have had some rough spots in the first fifty but God is good and we have had a very good life together. I couldn't have wished for anything better.
"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Loyalty Test Has Arrived

It's been a long time coming, but my tenth book hit the market on Monday. There is always a sense of satisfaction in seeing the product of an idea become reality.
This book is a sequel to my first book, Hidden Riches, which told about my Burkholder ancestors immigrating to Pennsylvania in 1754. That one ended with Christian Burkholder purchasing a copy of the Martyrs Mirror in 1761. The first chapter of this one intentionally overlaps with that one and goes on to tell about the challenges and trials Mennonites and members of other peace churches faced during the Revolutionary War. Christian Burkholder was serving as a bishop in the Mennonite church at that time. 

The book is now being placed in bookstores nationwide and can also be purchased online from Christian Light Publications.