Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The words of the familiar Christmas carol It Came Upon A Midnight Clear have a clearer meaning to me this year than ever before.
Did you ever notice the words
For lo, the days are hastening on,
by prophet bards foretold,
when with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
It's ancient splendors fling
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
My friend poked me in church on Sunday and ask "What is a bard?" I was curious enough to look it up in the dictionary the next day. Definition: A person who composed or sang songs about a hero.
Ah! Who is the HERO of Christmas? Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord! He is not only King of kings and Lord of lords, but the Hero of all heroes ...of all time and eternity. The greater the hero, the greater the celebration of victory!
The angels came singing "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace..."
Oh! for the whole world to give back the song the angels sang!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
For a starter- what is a vacuum? The dictionary definition is 1. A perfectly empty place 2. A space inside a closed vessel from which most of the air has been pumped.
So the world's vacuum is a place of emptiness where there is a shortage of air. Right?
After some thought my answer - "Whatever takes my focus off Jesus Christ and His Calvary love for me has the potential of sucking me into the world's vacuum."
Turn my eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The chocolate covered coffee beans kept all our batteries running until 1 AM
After a treat and the favorite "old movies" we relaxed with foot massages and back rubs.
This is called efficiency! Kara is giving Aunt Karen a back rub
while her feet are massaged. Betsy is in the background with the foot vibrator.
How can we get everyone combed at once?
Aunt Karen's and Andrea's shoes. That gap represents the missing granddaughter,
Monday, September 20, 2010
After the resurrection, Christians began to observe Sunday as a day of rest and worship too. It appears that the early church may have observed both Saturday and Sunday for a time. They did not want to offend their fellow Jews by disregarding Saturday. But they also met to worship, bring offerings and observe communion together on Sunday.
We are somewhat familiar with the transition from Saturday to Sunday observance of a day of rest. But when did the change come that we practise a day of rest from midnight to midnight- 24 hours of Sunday?
We have been challenged by friends recently to return to the sundown to sundown observance of the day of rest the way God designed it. Why not? Too often I have worked late Saturday night to accomplish unfinished goals of the week. Then I reap the consequences with weariness on Sunday morning!
Like my mother before me, I wash the "Sunday clothes" on Monday and begin to prepare for the next Sunday. By the end of the week some special dishes are prepared to make cooking easier on Sunday. Once I read of the woman who did something every day of the week to prepare herself and her family for the "day of rest". Shoes can be polished and the house cleaned to prepare for the Lord's Day. But is my Lord honored when I stay up late pushing myself to meet other goals of the week?
I have often appreciated the freedom to relax on Sunday and not feel guilty for taking a mid-afternoon nap. Sunday is my favorite day of the week! The past two weeks I have been able to let myself relax on Saturday evening. I can read a book, study my Sunday school lesson and simply relax. How much more my brain is refreshed for the Sunday morning service! It has not been "another rule" for myself- but a freedom to let unfinished tasks remain unfinished. I can relax and not feel irresponsible. I've heard if you do something for 3 weeks, it will be a habit. Feels like a good habit to develop at this point. Why didn't I do it years ago?
In case you wonder- I do not plan to begin my laundry at sundown on Sunday evening. If the early church could observe two whole days to avoid offense, surely I do not need to be stroking the legal aspects of a 24 hour observance from sundown to sundown...but extend it into a few more hours. The list of to-do's will be there on Monday morning too.
Friday, August 6, 2010
History is like a rear view mirror. We'd be severely handicapped without the perspective it provides. Because we have seen God at work in the past, we can enjoy Him more fully today and press toward the eternal goal where we will praise Him forever!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
When troubles arose in their Amish church, Abraham's son John moved to Juniata Co by 1812. Eventually some of the Kurtz family transferred to the Mennonite Church near Richfield known as the Shelley's Mennonite (or more recently known as Brick Mennonite ) Church.
John's son Samuel (1796-1865) married Barbara Mosser/Musser. His son Abraham married Elizabeth Kauffman. Today Abraham and Elizabeth Kurtz's family Bible with the birth record of their three children, Lidia, Jacob and Catherine are one of the prize pieces of Juniata Mennonite Historical Society's collection.
The more famous Kurtz story begins with the fourth generation, (Samuel & Barbara's son), John M. Kurtz who married Catherine Shelley. John and Catherine assumed ownership of the Shelley farm near the Shelley's small log church building across the road from their farm. The church and it's tiny cemetery overlooked the Shelley/Kurtz farm and the beautiful Juniata Valley. John saw the need to build a new brick church in 1868 to replace the 1800 log building that stood at the edge of their cemetery. Already five of their young children had been laid to rest on the steep hillside cemetery.
Little did the Kurtz family know the overwhelming grief that awaited them. When diphtheria swept through the valley in 1872, the Kurtz family bowed in grief as their oldest son, Samuel (17) succumbed to the dread disease for which there was no known cure. The very next day, Jacob (6) and Anna (4) also fell victims to the same disease. A funeral for all three children was planned for July 28. One grave held all three of these precious children. While they were attending the funeral at the nearby church, the grim reaper claimed the life of their oldest daughter , Barbara (16). The next morning 14 year old Catherine became the next victim of the dread disease. That evening the baby, Sarah (1) followed all her sisters to their heavenly home. Only thirteen year old John S. Kurtz survived. Even though water was forbidden to diphtheria patients, when the doctor heard John's plea for water, he said, "Give him water. He will die anyway." But John was the only survivor, much to their surprise and gratitude. All eleven of his siblings had been laid to rest in the cemetery near the new four-year-old Brick Church. In the weeks ahead, John was so lonely, he wished he had died with his siblings.
Three years later, John and Catherine welcomed a son Abram into their family. The youngest child, Christian was born in 1877 .
John S. Kurtz was ordained as a minister in the Brick Church to serve the Lost Creek congregation when he was single and 27 years old. Not many young people became church members before marriage in those days..much less be ordained as a single man! But John faithfully fulfilled his calling. Eventually he married Maria Horning, from Lancaster County. When he needed a hired man, Maria's brother, Mose Horning agreed to move from his home in Lancaster County to help on John's Juniata County farm. Several years later, Moses Horning was also ordained as a single man.
When troubles arose in the church and a split developed, John Kurtz and Moses Horning decided to return to Lancaster County. Most of the congregation who did not go with the faction to the new Richfield Mennonite Church, started going to nearby Lauvers and Crossroads congregations.
But all was not well in Lancaster County churches either. English preaching and Sunday school were part of the tension that existed. Eventually a significant bishop , Jonas Martin withdrew from the Lancaster Conference. John Kurtz and Moses Horning supported Bishop Martin in his decision and also withdrew.
John S. Kurtz took over a mill when he returned to Lancaster County. When work was slow at the mill, he started to hatch eggs in his homemade incubator as he had done in Juniata County. Eventually the hatchery business grew from it's humble beginning of 50 eggs to a business of
more than two million capacity today.
By 1927, Moses Horning was a bishop and in the middle of the tension concerning the question of whether to allow their members to own cars and trucks. Eventually another church split occurred when Joseph Wenger took his stance against the car and Moses Horning accepted it. Jonas Martin's Old Order group dissolved into two factions with Joseph Wenger and Moses Horning as the significant leaders of the two groups. Even today, the Weaverland Conference is sometimes called the "Horning Church" and the Groffdale Conference is known as the "Wenger Church".
What can we learn from all this? We may view the current situations of our lives as "these difficult times"...but the generations before us knew sorrow and grief in their families and in their churches too. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever! He will see us through what ever we may face in the days of our lives.
John and Catherine would probably be surprised to meet their many descendants from their three sons who grew to manhood. Today a group of 38 descendants visited the Brick Church and shared their family stories. It was a beautiful day for the occasion. I was blessed to be reminded of God's grace and faithfulness.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Front- Chester, Vernon, Melvin
On Sunday we attended our "Little" (literally) Burkholder reunion. My parents were both Burkholders. But since my mother's family was much smaller than my father's, we dubbed the reunions the Little Burkholder reunion and the Big Burkholder reunion. This year the grand total who attended the Little Burkholder reunion was 14 people! Even my sole surviving aunt who is 96 years old was not able to attend. It is obviously a dying reunion.
However, when you analyze the facts... it is not so bad! Ezra and Lizzie Burkholder had 4 children and 15 grandchildren. There were many times most of us squeezed into their small farm kitchen at once on a Sunday afternoon and/or evening. We have pleasant memories of "them days" as my Dad would say.
Today, of those 15 grandchildren, two are deceased, three do not live in Pennsylvania. If you are doing the math, that leaves ten grandchildren living in our state. Eight of the ten who live in Pennsylvania attended the reunion on Sunday. One lady was there to represent her deceased husband, our cousin. Others who attended were the spouses of some of those in the photo. No one from the next generation attended this time so we could all remember the old days without boring anyone... and just be cousins. It could be the last Little Burkholder reunion, but it was a good one!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Just as an unborn child does not build a house, so we need to be born again to be able to serve our God in His kingdom. My brother preached the one sermon and quoted my mother who would tell us, "You are not here just for pretty." She loved us and we knew it, but she did not wait on us hand and foot when we were healthy and able-bodied. We knew our parents expected us to make a worthwhile contribution to the family according to our abilities.
God does not save us "just for pretty" either so we can sit around saying, "please serve me". Doesn't He expect us to get with the program and be part of His team, using every opportunity to bring glory to His name? We may not be "born workers" but our Father will teach us how to become useful in His kingdom, if we are willing.
In youth or old age, God calls and equips us with His enabling grace to be part of His family team and make a worthwhile contribution for His glory. As parents, we did not expect our three year old son to harvest a wheat crop or a teenage daughter to make mortgage payments. In similar ways, His call for me may change through the years as He gives tasks suited to the stage of life and abilities. It has been surprising to find some of the "hats" He has handed to me. I pray that in spite of me, He may receive the glory for any thing good that has come out of my feeble attempts.
There are so many needs around us...and so many born again believers, let's band together for His glory! And when the trumpet sounds, we will all be done..and can rest forever!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Karen and Sharon will be in language school together for a week, Karen will spend a week with her friend Dorcas Miller at the clinic, and then go back to language school for two more weeks. Karen will return mid-August. Sharon will be serving with Mennonite Air Missions for 18 months. May the Lord bless them real good...and help them to make a difference in the life of at least one person for His glory.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Since Marvin and I are eligible for Medi-care, we both need to use our proper first names. To receive benefits, the doctor's office, prescriptions and other medical records have been changed to John and Elizabeth. It is a switch in identity!
There are seven generations of Elizabeth's but none have used the "Elizabeth" name. The first generation was called "Betsy". The second and third were "Lizzie" , the next three were/are "Betty" and the seventh is our granddaughter "Betsy". My mother used the name "Elizabeth" in her school days. Her family taught her to write her name "Betty" before she went to first grade. Just before school started, she learned her real name was "Elizabeth." She was fascinated by that information. So when the teacher ask "What is your name?", she replied, "Elizabeth Burkholder". She was the smallest child in her class but she had the longest name. The other students got 1/2 of a blackboard to practise writing their name but the teacher gave her a whole blackboard. She often said she was glad she used that name in school because it felt more like her name. As long as she lived, some of her classmates continued to call her Elizabeth. Anyway, after all these years, I get to use my own real name! I don't mind my nickname at all. It is like an old familiar shoe that you don't want to throw out. I just wonder how long it will take for it to register when they call the name "Elizabeth" at the doctor's office.
And speaking of hair color...yesterday while cleaning at the History Center, I saw a light hair caught in the furniture where I had just been stooping to clean. My first thought was "Now who's light hair is that?" My second thought was " Oh, it is mine. My black hair disappeared a decade ago."
But the greatest change in identity is still ahead. I'm looking forward to changing from mortal to immortal. What a day that will be!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Our last sightseeing stop was the Case IH tractor factory in Racine, WI. The company merged with Ford so there is a mix of blue and red tractors on the assembly line. Marvin's Grandpa was a Case dealer and had one of the Case eagle emblems on his barnyard fence at Landis Valley, Pennyslvania.
Chuck, our guide, gave us a four hour tour of the plant. I did not understand all the language about gears, transmissions and clutch parts, but I am grateful that Marvin does things like go along to a history conference and the Pepin cemetery too. Along with several other things, I was impressed with the precision that goes into the making of tractor parts.
We arrived home about supper time on Thursday evening. Marvin suggested we stop at a restaurant for supper before we got home. That was a nice idea..then Romaine and I did not have to cook supper. Our children at home were fending for themselves for nearly two weeks, we concluded that surely they could find something to eat for one more meal.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Mission almost accomplished! Three sides of the shed have siding now. Merle says Dallas can help him with the front side. It just has small sections to do around the big sliding doors.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Currently we are in the middle of a PA heat wave but things seem to be headed in the right direction. Again, the birds seem to have the right idea...We have our sights set on a trip to Northwest Ontario where they have 70 degree weather instead of our 90 degrees. We plan to leave tomorrow with my sister and her husband. Lord willing, we will travel to OH where we will spend Sunday with my niece and family. On Memorial Day we will travel up to the top of the Michigan Penisula and spend the night at Mackinac City. The next day we will do some sight seeing in that area and then head west toward Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The main purpose of the trip is to visit my brother Merle and family. We expect to be with them from June 2-7. On the return trip we hope to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthplace at Pepin ,WI and the CaseIH tractor factory at Racine, WI. Marvin's Grandpa Landis had a Case dealership for many years and influenced his family for tractors that are a less popular make than the famous John Deere. From there we expect to set our sights on home and return on June 10. We may be just in time for another heat wave...
Oh well, in another ten years or so I might hibernate in heated /AC room with a supply of coffee and chips to keep me going the rest of my days...or better yet- move to my eternal home where there is no heat waves or freezing temperatures EVER! Meanwhile we enjoy the migratory flights. I don't expect we will migrate to Canada very often. Where can we go next summer? :D
We are blessed to have David and Karen here to look after things at home. We seem to be taking turns. Karen and David were in CA/MX in March and now she plans a Guatemala trip in July.
Guess the migratory gene has been passed on ....
Monday, May 24, 2010
I've been reminded that it has been awhile since my Christmas memories blog, and time for a new post. Well, the computer was in and out of the hospital during the winter months. It needed to be reformatted which meant backing everything up on CD's and then reinstalling everything.
So where does the title "Diaries" come in?
It is where I have been in the past months. I was reading the diaries that my husband's Aunt Emma kept from 1938-2003. If you do the math, that is 65 years worth of diaries with almost daily entries. Other late winter projects on my list came to a standstill while I read her diaries in preparation to fulfill a request to put her life in story form. Now 22 copies of forty-plus pages later, her story "All the Days of My Life" is ready for distribution to my husband's cousins when we meet in June. Aunt Emma recorded a lot of facts about her life which included the weather, the activities of her day, plus world, national, local, church and family events. Besides her diaries, she kept other records. She recorded the gifts she gave and received at Christmas, the cards and letters she sent and received. At one point she kept record of how many hours and minutes she slept each night. Can you believe there are so many records? On rare occasions she recorded her feelings about a situation or event. Although the project has consumed more winter hours than I expected, there is some value in understanding the times in which my husband lived in his formative years. It was also a time of gaining more appreciation for his childhood connections to his Landis grandparents and other family members. No wonder they enjoy their times together now! Having been in the family for nearly forty five years, they are "my cousins" too. His grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all lived within walking distance of the Landis Valley Museum, with the exception of an aunt who served in Africa as a missionary nurse. (His grandparent's home is now part of the Museum's property.) In his childhood, the whole clan worshipped, worked and played together, making a contribution to who he is today.
But last week diary reading took me down a different path. I was reading my own early diaries and reliving memories. My sister was writing some of her childhood memoirs. I dug out some of my old diaries to answer her questions. I was surprised to discover that my first diary record begins on May 23, 1956 when I was ten years old. That means today, May 24, 2010, I am beginning my 55th year of diary writing! There are a few years when our older children were small that I did not write regularly. The only consolation is that I was writing a weekly letter to my mother during those precious years. She returned most of those letters to me which help to recapture little tidbits from that era of my life.
What good are old diaries? For one thing they recapture some of the "ordinary" that becomes only a " distant memory". For instance, one day when I had a bad sore throat, Dr Ridgway came to our home to give me a penicillin shot. What doctor makes house calls today?
There is the precious memory of the times in October 1956 when Daddy took me to see the unveiling of the new cars. The new models were transported on car carriers with huge tarps draped over them. Suspense built up as they were moved into dealer's showrooms under cover of darkness and remained covered inside the big show room window until a crowd gathered for the official unveiling at the appointed date. Daddy knew our 6th grade class was all hyped over the unveiling of each new 1957 model. That year he took me to see the new Fords at Denver, Chevys at Ephrata and Mercurys at Akron..and maybe more. Those memories stir up loving admiration for my dad and the time he took for my fleeting interest in cars.
The house of my childhood was demolished last summer to make way for a new housing development. But childhood memories can linger and bring enjoyment the rest of my life. Life was not "perfect" back in the good old days, and my desire to move forward toward the eternal goal is much stronger than the longings for past pleasures. Through my diaries and the vehicle of memory, I was riding bike, taking pony rides, dressing cats in doll clothes, playing in the creek, reading books and sometimes just loafing. Other times I was helping to pick corn by hand, welcoming a new baby sister and reliving the memorable 1958 blizzard when we had no electric for five days. The words brought back the people, surroundings, fragrances and feelings of the past. Feelings could be so bluntly honest. When I made my first home run at school I wrote "I am a little proud." When our family came home after a long day I wrote "we are all grouchy".
My diaries do include more feelings than Aunt Emma's, and I regret some words written in immaturity. But many years ago, I committed myself to writing words that do not slander or judge another person. For one thing, God is the only One who is right in all his judgments. There is always the possibility that I may be wrong in my evaluation of a person or situation because I only see in part while He knows in every detail.
Maybe no one else will ever want to read my diaries, but if they do, I want my written words to be a blessing, not a curse. In the past few years I have been using my diaries, letters written to my mother and photos to compile albums for our children which includes photos and stories from their childhood. I have gone from 1965-1975, 2007-2008 and currently I'm working on 2009. My style of scrap booking is not artistic like many of my friend's albums, but focuses telling the stories of life.
I still cannot imagine anyone wanting to wade through my two banana boxes of diaries in the attic. But between me and my God, they can still be a record of what He is doing for me and in me.
So here goes for my 55th year of diary writing. The remaining pages of the future are blank. I wonder what God will write on them! I can say like Moses, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Exodus 33:15b