Archive for the ‘Menno’ Category


long silence followed by important announcement

August 3, 2011

Seeing as that is a familiar pattern with me and my half-hearted blogging (just kidding on the half-hearted part, I love you all and am just lazy about updating 🙂 ), I will cut to the chase.  This Saturday I am doing something just a little bit rash and crazy on my part and paddling 30 miles in a canoe!  Back when I joined the board of Wilderness Wind in October of 2010, I thought that I might attempt such a thing.  But see, that was back closer to my previous trip to the Boundary Waters, in which I had done all sorts of affirming things like portage an 80lb canoe all week, learned how to paddle in the back of a canoe (i.e. steer), set up a cook stove and generally keep 6 high schoolers and one other “adult” from killing themselves (and if you really want to know, it was probably the later that gave me more trouble (just kidding Zeb! 🙂 ).

Anyways that leads me to this week, long past the point where I thought that I would use this as excuse to train and get all kinds of buff and much closer to the “what the heck did I sign up for” part.  But like much of life, this too shall pass.  However this is where you come in lovely blog readers, family and friends.  The reason I am doing this crazy thing is because I really really love this organization called Wilderness Wind.  I went on my first canoe trip through this Mennonite camp back as a little recently graduated 8th grader and I went with 3 other girls my age and our marvelously forgiving fathers.  The trip was only a week long trip including the long drive to and from Ely, Minnesota, but that was all it took to get me completely hooked.  Sure part of the appeal is obvious; water, trees, rock and big blue sky, but it goes much further beyond that.

How can you not fall in love?

Where else can you experience the thrill of crossing large bodies of lake with whitecaps to finally pull yourself up and out onto a wooden pier at the end of your trip.  Memories like that stay with you and help build up connections you have not only with your friends, who willingly shared a canoe with you, but to the grand sense of your own small part in the natural world.

End of the trip photo: 2001

Where else can you experience a thunderstorm with only a thin nylon surface between you and hail the size of a dime?
Me and the incredible quarter-size hail

Where else can you cook fabulous desserts with only filtered water, a packet of instant pistachio pudding and some crushed oreos?
Asha and I demonstrate proper dessert making

Where else is this the proper and preferred dish cleaning method?
How to truly clean one's own sierra cup

Where else is playing in a capsized canoe a legitimate afternoon activity?
More fun with a capsized canoe

Where else do you leave your watch behind, spend 20 minutes a day in silence and get to see a treat like this every night before bed?
Yet another Boundary Waters sunset

Wilderness Wind continues to work to provide wilderness experiences that connect with people spiritually, ecologically and in the deep way nature can change how a person views their life. It is a small organization and as I have learned during the past year on the board, every dollar makes a difference. This year marks our 25th anniversary and so we have one of our largest paddle-a-thon teams to date. Over 20 paddlers will be participating on Saturday and each of us has a goal to raise $500. My wonderful friend Steph and I are paddling together and also fundraising together, but we could definitely still use your help. So if you love the wilderness, enjoy reading the blog from time to time, or just appreciate my willingness to post embarrassing photos of myself
Mixing up the base camp orange juice
Please, pretty please, considering donating a couple bucks to this wonderful organization.


why I came to the fellowship

March 9, 2011

In an attempt to clean out my very scattered/crowded draft folder, I am  publishing/deleting some of these posts. This was written in January 2008 and is most likely based on the paper I wrote for the fellowship on the event of becoming a practicing member.  I think this paper does a pretty decent job of capturing why I made that decision and the two years I spent as a practicing member were very good ones for me.  While I no longer have any official connection to the fellowship, I continue to live in household and attend the small group that I joined back when I first wrote this post.

I grew up in a strong Mennonite faith community.  Everyone I knew was a Christian and believed in God.  I grew up attending the same church my grandparents had attended and memorized Bible verses every week in Sunday School.  Both of my parents grew up Mennonite and continued to hold their faith in high importance.  All around me were good people doing their best to serve God in their lives.  However this faith community didn’t do a lot of talking about how they believed in God or how they heard God’s voice or why faith mattered.

For much of high school I struggled a lot with doubts, mainly about the existence of God and the role of the church.  I read a lot from the Old Testament and was confused by the ideas of a God who sent bears to punish naughty children or who forcefully advocated for total destruction of enemies.  I couldn’t understand how the church who claimed to be the physical embodiment of God’s will and agency on earth could commit such atrocities and inspire such vilification and hatred among different people.  I didn’t understand why each religion seemed to want to limit God to only their understanding of him or insist that only their religion was true.  While I knew that God was a large part of the community around me that I loved, I didn’t seem to share the same ability to just have faith in God.

Towards the end of high school I participated in a baptism class through my church in Indiana.  We met regularly over a period of several months and talked a lot about issues of pluralism, the history of the church, the meaning of baptism and what it meant to choose Christianity.  I learned that my doubts were not barriers to being a Christian, but ways of keeping my faith alive and that I didn’t have to have a perfect all the time faith in God in order to choose to be a follower of Jesus.  Later that year, I along with several other of my friends got baptized during the Advent season right after 9/11.  That season and baptism was a huge influence on me and remains a powerful reminder to me about the ability of faith to help one live in a very broken world.

As I finished up my degree at GC, my friends and I began to try to figure out what we were going to do next.  A good friend Jess began to talk about moving back to her home town of Evanston and how it would be fun for a group of us to join her.  The idea took root and soon four of us decided to move up to Evanston.  We ended up going through R— Apartments in order to find a low cost place to live and quickly realized we were living in the middle of close-knit community.  However we also realized that it wasn’t the easiest thing to get to know people within that community.  Our first year here was difficult, especially as we could see the community around us, but yet couldn’t connect directly to it.  Things did improve as we started going to Monday night potlucks and got connected to small groups.  Both my roommate Becca and I got invited into Barb’s small group and that really helped us feel more connected.  Therefore last September when the option of becoming a practicing member was given to me, I jumped at the chance.  Here was the opportunity for me to connect with this community of faith that I had been observing and so far this has proven to be a wonderful step.

Here at the fellowship I have really appreciated spending time in a community that values a quiet deep faith, encourages discussion of incorporating God into one’s daily life, allows for brokenness and doubts, and also pushes me to take seriously the idea of being intentional about my relationships with those around me.


Update on the to-do list

January 23, 2011

Yay! I am on the productive high of conquering the two most avoided points on my to-do list.  As you may remember from my last post, here is the list of things I want to complete by Wednesday:

Mail the long overdue certificate thing (a long lingering remnant of Grad School) Done and done!

Return rain boots purchased online that I didn’t like Okay technically I still need to drop these off at the Post Office cause I missed the Saturday noon cut-off time, but they are all packed up and ready to go

Write Thank You cards for Graduation presents I still need to hunt down one address, but the notes are written, stamped and ready to go.

Write rough draft of church’s Insurance Policy (or more accurately my church’s decision NOT to purchase building or liability insurance) Thanks to my decision to skip the second half of church (yes I realize there is a bit of irony there) I finally found the time and space to write up the rough draft and send it to our pastor.

Call approximately 5 people about Wilderness Wind planning committee This was by far my post dreaded item on the list, due to my keen interest in NOT calling people I don’t know in order to ask them to do things, but I left 3 messages, talked to 2 people and got 1 maybe and 1 YES!

– Get my hair cut (Seeing as the last time this happened was April 2010, I am a little overdue) – Didn’t accomplish, but at 7pm on Monday I will do this

– Pack – Not done, but thought about

– Visit a kitten with my housemate who is thinking of adopting – This may happen today, but it may get pushed back till after Seattle, because our prospective kitten has other folks interested as well.

– Drop my car off at the mechanic to finally get the power steering belt issue (i.e. whatever makes my car squeal when I go around corners) fixed – Plan to do tomorrow after work

– Go with same housemate to Best Buy to look at laptops.  She is contemplating a purchase and I volunteered my nerdy services – Also planning to do this after work on Monday

Write up agenda for Common Life meeting on Sunday morning and then lead said meeting. The meeting went well this morning and I even wrote up the notes and already sent out the minutes.

Okay, now I am off to do a combination of putting together the house puzzle while others watch the game, taking a nap, cleaning room, reading  my book, or perhaps baking some bread.  I hope you all have wonderful Sunday afternoons!



Belated Vacation Recap: Where I pretend to be a fashion blog

August 21, 2010

Starting a year or so ago, maybe more, I discovered this thing called a fashion blog. It started with Fashionist, picked up The Sartorialist along the way, got greatly inspired by Blue Collar Catwalk, loved the sophistication of Frocks & Frou Frou, had its eyes opened to the worlds of body acceptance by Sal of Already Pretty, felt a kindred spirit in Ashley of Yammering Muse‘s inspiring vintage ensembles and cheered on Gabi of Young, Fat & Fabulous.

Reading fashion blogs led me to start rethinking not only the way I choose my outfits, but also the way I view my own outward appearance.  Maintaining a positive body image has been a constant battle for me.  Growing up (especially in high school), I struggled with feeling beautiful and because I didn’t fit the molds of smaller sized women, I felt completely cut off from the opportunity to enjoy clothes.  Clothes shopping for me was all about finding a store that carried larger sizes and less about the clothes themselves. I still remember the revelation that was discovering Lane Bryant.  But even then, I felt like clothes were about fitting in and covering up enough of myself to feel normal, not about helping express my own preferences/taste/style or about helping me gain confidence in my outward appearance. Now I am not saying that clothes are the answer to low self-esteem, not at all.  But gaining confidence in my own sense of style and allowing myself to consider clothing options that I would have previously considered off-limits due to my size, has been hugely influential in the small inroads I have made to accepting and loving my own body.

The "pre-packing lay all my clothes out on the bed" routine

So where is this all leading too? Well, I decided to use my two week vacation to Seattle as a chance to challenge myself.  Instead of packing the usual hodge-podge of random clothes, I would try to pack in such a way that I would be able to produce 12 unique and fun outfits that would both work for vacation activities (you know walking around looking at things and sitting in coffeeshops) but would also be ones that made me feel positively about myself.

What the clothes looked like in the suitcase (although I had a few clothes in another layer on top of this).

Thanks in huge part to Becca, my willing photo taker, I fulfilled my daily outfit challenge, but I have to say it was harder than I thought it would be and not for the reasons I had expected.  Here is some of what I learned:

My outfit for a day trip to Vashon Island where burgers were eaten, lighthouses were climbed, tea/book shops were browsed and wine was tasted.

First, posing for daily pictures is hard! I was amazed how self-conscious it made me.  While I have done a decent job of getting over issues about not always being amazingly photogenic, the act of getting someone to take a picture of me EVERY day was hard.  I found that I tended to want to berate myself for being so egotistical as to want to photograph myself.  Who was I to be posing for pictures? What was everyone else thinking when they saw me posing for my pictures? Would they think I was full of myself? Would they judge my clothes, judge me? I find this to be interesting, considering how much I enjoy seeing other people’s daily outfit photos and appreciate the time they take to do so.  But for some reason when I tried it myself I was often left feeling awkward.  I think if I were to keep up this practice, I would eventually get over this issue, but for my 2 week experiment this was one of the hardest parts.

I wore this for shopping on the ave, the Underground tour and the cooking of a yummy meal.

Second, posing itself was also hard! In addition to the awkwardness of having someone take a photo of you every day, there is the what do I do with my hands, my feet, my head part. In other words how the heck do people pose so naturally in their shots, boy howdy!  I ended up doing variations of the same two poses for most of the week, but I definitely have a growing appreciation for people who make posing seem so natural and flawless.

Probably my favorite outfit of the trip, we wondered around Fremont, met up for lunch and had a picnic supper this day.

Layers are your friend! Especially when trying to dress for the cool/warm combo that is a beautiful Seattle summer day. This outfit ended up being perfect for the entire day starting in the overcast morning and finishing with the cool after a sundown at Gasworks Park.  But as I also learned, keeping layers simple also lets fun pieces like this dress shine through.  I think the Menno in me loves the dress even more because it came from my new favorite thrift store, Unique.

I wore this outfit for a day of walking around Vancouver.

Finally, keep it simple! Sometimes the most basic outfits ended up being my favorite, for example this is just jeans and tee shirt, but with my hat and earrings it ended up feeling perfect for a day of walking around and exploring a new city.

So there you have it, my attempt at being a fashion blog and some of the things putting more effort into my clothing choices have taught me about myself.  While body acceptance and being comfortable in my own skin is a continual effort (and probably one I could get several more posts out of) this was a fun experiment in how taking time to consider my fashion, helps me gain confidence in my outward presentation to the world.  And as I have often experienced, confidence seems like a long spiral of “fake it, till you make it”.

Most of all I am interested in what you all think. What role does clothing play for you? Is fashion a possible source of confidence for you or something you try to ignore? Are there clothes that make you feel special when you wear them? I would love to hear what you think.


slipping in under the deadline

November 14, 2009

Today was one part massively unproductive, one part standardized test, and one part really fun game night at church.  So this morning I managed to waste away about 3 hours doing random internet things, watching old How I Met Your Mother episodes, pondering my toes, you know productive things like that.  This of course a pretty good indication that I have homework, which is taking the form of a paper due Monday night.  Of which I have all the research done, but can’t seem to actually force myself to write the dumb thing.

Then the afternoon part of the day was spent taking the Content Area test for Library Information Specialists, which was the worst test I have taken in my entire life.  Not in terms of actually being difficult (although for all I know I could have failed), but the absolute horrible wording of the questions, badly stated answers and general crap concept of trying to use a 125 multiple-choice question test to determine if someone knows how to be a good school librarian.  I finished the test in around 1.5 hours, after which I was so mentally sapped by trying to actually cut through the bullshit questions, that I barely read over the test.  So I hope I passed, but in all honesty it is hard to tell, because I could have just picked all the second best possible answers for all the questions.

Then tonight, the day took a big upswing at the first Common Life organized game night, where we at caramel corn and cookies, drank cider and played a bunch of games ranging from Dominoes and Dog-opoly to TransAmerica and Trouble.  Annie and I organized the event, which I can actually say was pretty simple and stress-free, and despite fears that no one would come, around 25 folks did.  So we decided to call that a rousing success.  Plus I won two out of the three games I played and had a rip roaring good time throughout the evening.  So on that triumphal note, I will bid you all good night.


the serialized history of a church

May 14, 2009

I am pretty sure I have talked before about Real Live Preacher (Gorden Atkinson), I know I made Becca and Jess listen to me read aloud out of his book before.  And I have probably mentioned how much I enjoy his thoughts on faith, church, writing, depression, etc.  Anyways recently he has been writing a series of essays describing the history of his current church.  Starting back when they met in a country club bar, through the difficulties of losing their original preacher, and the many interesting people who have joined with the church. Here are some excerpts from his series so far.  After you read them, go here to start from the beginning.

From Story #1:

Covenant Baptist Church has been something of an experiment, because we didn’t have any role models. From the beginning we decided that we would do things that seem right to us and waste no energy doing things that didn’t seem important. As it turned out, most of the things that standard churches do didn’t seem important to us.

From Story #6:

So you see, things get done here. But they are slow things. They are things with natural patinas that can only grow with time. Things are settled into the ground and beautiful. These things exist because we’ve chosen to live our lives slowly and deliberately in this community. We’re living on Spirit time, not clock time.

From Story #8:

One Sunday there were only 13 people in attendance at the Duckblind Lounge. I preached and led music that Sunday, awkwardly moving my arms up and down to the beat of the hymns as I had seen music ministers do. We had no piano player that Sunday either, so it was just 13 shaky voices that seemed to get lost in the emptiness of the room. That was definitely a low point for me.

But sometimes there is a moment of grace in hard times.

That graceful moment came when I came around a corner and saw Reiley with Ben Chappell, one of the kindest and most committed Christians I have ever known. Having only Reiley in his Sunday School class, Ben was sitting next to her on a bench. His weathered Bible was open and laid across their laps. He was reading to her from the scriptures and talking with her about what they read there. Their heads were inclined toward each other and they seemed lost in their own world.

That’s when I saw the truth. There wasn’t a child in any church in the world who was having a better experience than my child on that Sunday morning. She had a one-on-one lesson with Ben that day. Just the two of them. Ben, who loved the Bible and loved questions about the Bible. Ben, who was gentle and smart and who would listen to her doubts and questions with care and understanding. Ben, who would celebrate her earliest steps of faith. I quietly backed away and left the two of them alone.

Okay, I should probably stop quoting someone else’s words, but hopefully this is enough to make you go check the rest of the series out.  If you do let me know what you think.


the sun I didn’t sit in and how my weekend went

March 17, 2009

Today was absolutely spectacular weather, or at least it looked like it through the windows of the library.  I shouldn’t be too whiny about my lack of outside activity today I did get a nice 20 minutes at lunch, a short walk to and from the ministry center.  But I would have loved for today to be one of those days in which I could have walked to the lake or read a book on the front porch.  Especially because tomorrow looks to bring back the 40s and 50s more appropriate for mid-March Chicago.

This past weekend was a bit of a dreary one, mainly due to my own brilliant idea to postpone finishing my assignment during the week, because gosh darn it spring break means not doing homework!  Obviously this translated into doing homework all weekend.  Fortunately I did get to do a few fun things including, but not limited too: a crazy full too bursting early St. Patty’s dinner with the girls (plus Josh) at Celtic Knot, church workday that including wiping dusty books, pulling up carpet and sealing a sandblasted brick wall.  Oh and Saturday night, Tim and Charletta caome over for dinner and we played a round of Evo, a quirky game in which you attempt to evolve your dinosaurs faster and better than your opponents, only to have everyone wiped out by the game-ending meteor.

I think the other highlights of the weekend would be watching two rather solidly done movies, Happy-Go-Lucky and Milk.  The first tells a story of a stubornly happy and very quirky British woman, who seems somewhat oblivious to the rareness of her joy.  If you like British humor, internal story lines and films set in London I highly recommend Sally Hawkins as Poppy.  The second tells the powerful story of gay-rights activist, Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay man elected to major public office in the US.  This movie worked really well, portraying an incredible person and the troubling reality that may homosexuals endured during the 1970s, while not sugar-coating either the humanity of Milk or the solution to our nations’ problems with equality.  In the end it wasn’t the ending of this movie that I found hard to watch, but the venomous lies spewed throughout the film from so called “Christian” leaders.  Leaders who used their mis-interpreted Biblical teachings, to encourage bigotry and propose the unfair laws focused on in the film.  Especially in the wake of the recent passing of Proposition 8, I find the way Christian churches, of a variety of denominations, played vital roles in the success of that bill, so endlessly sad and frustrating.  The Christian church, who should be on the forefront of defending equality, seems to so often come down on the side of supporting and enforcing the status quo.  It is this part of the church that I find so hard to reconcile with my personal experience of church as a place of welcome, love and service.  That all said 🙂 I would recomend the movie Milk to those of you who have a pulse, care about issues of equality and enjoy well-done movies.


bread rising and cats purring

March 3, 2009

I am sitting here in Cana living room listening to the Decemberists combined with the whine of our malcontent freezer.  Bread is rising in the kitchen because I decided at around 8:3opm I really needed (ha!) to bake some, hence my own doom of a late bed time.  But of course this also gives me time to update this blog, which seems to be getting a bit dusty around the corners.

This past weekend was full one and extra long thanks to my favorite holiday of the year, Casimir Pulaski Day.  The complete and total highlight of the weekend was the GC chamber choir making its pen-ultimate stop of its spring break tour here in Reba land.  My house and I hosted 4 students on Saturday night and the rest of the choir was spread out around the neighborhood.  Then they all sang several songs as part of our church service and we celebrated with a gigantic potluck afterwards.

While many of the students were completely unknown to me (because I graduated a whole freaking 3 years ago!!) they were still the fun, wonderful GC students that I remember and besides at least a few of them were, conveniently, the younger siblings of folks I went to school with.  Also I got to catch up a bit with one of my wonderful former MYF leaders, which in general added to the whole nostalgic feel for the weekend.

Along with the weird wonderfullness of having your former college come visit your community the weekend made me really miss being in choir.  I sang in choir all through high school and for much of the first half of college, but since then I haven’t had many opportunities for that type of vocal exercise.  Also as their benediction song, the choir stood in a circle around the congregation and sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”, which is a song I have sung in various choirs.  But the act of actually hearing it sung to you, is a totally different and wonderful experience.  Music truly does have the ability to lift moods, change situations, unite people and in general make one very grateful for the people and experiences they get to bump into on a regular basis.

But enough of that waxing on, the rest of the weekend I spent trying to finish a paper and presentation double header due on Monday night.  I was successful on both counts, and in a weird fit of nervous energy (regarding the presentation) actually managed to complete both my taxes and fafsa on Monday morning.  Which sets me up to receive both the largest tax return of my life (which probably isn’t actually saying much) and also borrow even more money from the government (kinda makes me my own little failing bank!) for my silly little graduate degree.

In other news, I read this today and actually giggled out loud (something I try to avoid, seeing as I work in the shhh part of the library).  While I try to rein in my spider/bug issues, in the right circumstances I too can get just as looney as Heather does after discovering a large weird bug in the bathroom:

He shook his head, like what? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of putting the child to bed? So I said it again, “HUSBAND. THERE IS IMPORTANT WORK FOR YOU OUTSIDE OF YOUR DUTIES HERE. COME, LET ME WHISPER ABOUT IT IN YOUR EAR.”

So he casually handed Leta the top to her pajamas and took a couple of steps toward me before I grabbed his arm so forcefully that I almost pulled him to the ground. “A BUUUUUUG!” I whispered into his ear. “THERE’S A BUUUUUUUG. A BUUUUUUUUUUUUG! AND IT WANTS TO EAT MY FAAAAAACE!”

And if that post alone wasn’t great enough, Heather of fame will actually be in the Chicago area on March 26th to sign her new book.  So far both Erini and I are planning on going, so give me a hollar if hearing more awesomeness like the above paragraphs appeals to you.


reflections on a funeral week

November 30, 2008

Since my last update I have traveled to PA, seen my grandma for the last time, heard the news of her early morning death, spent many quality hours with cousins, aunts, uncles and cousin babies, attended a 4 1/2 hour visitation, sang in a grandchild choir at my grandma’s funeral, been one of the granddaughter pallbearers and shed a whole lot of tears.


The longer story of all that starts with my brothers, Charletta, my dad and I all driving into PA.

5 people, 4 laptops

This picture doesn't even include Tim and his laptop in the passenger seat. Also two laptops were equipped with air cards so we could surf the internet as we drove along. Yes my family is one big nerd herd!

We got a little bit of a later start due to the need to pick up a rather large thanksgiving turkey to defrost in the fridge during the week, but made pretty good time to Lancaster where we went straight to Landis Homes.  During the drive, there had been some discussion between my brothers and I about whither or not we wanted to see Grandma again in her state of severe decline.  In some ways I was really unsure of seeing her so frail, unresponsive and close to death.  The memories I wanted to keep with me of Grandma were the ones where she was strong, busy, and always moving, not so small and lost in a hospital bed.  But Tim had decided that he wanted to see her, and I decided not to risk regretting missing my last chance to see Grandma alive.  So we went into the room that she had been in for the last year.  And while it was indeed very difficult to see her in that state, she was still my Grandma and for that reason I am very glad to have seen her.  We each said our goodbyes to her, told her we loved her and then sang (or in my case tried to sing) Great is Thy Faithfulness.  Apparently that hymn had been a favorite of the siblings in the past week and one often sung to Grandma in her last days.

That evening there was a lot of discussion about the variety of possibilities and plans depending on if Grandma hung on for a few more days or even another week.  Stories of relatives lasting for weeks after they stopped eating and drinking kept floating around and there was a lot of doubt in my family’s mind that we would be able to stay long enough to actually attend Grandma’s funeral.  I went to bed with a pretty heavy heart, it is a very odd thing to pray for the death of one’s grandparent, but I was definitely doing that that night.


In the morning I woke up to the news from my Mom that my Grandma had finally passed away in the early morning between 5 and 6am.  While very welcome news, it was also bittersweet and definitely the end of an era.  For church that morning we went with my Grammy (dad’s mom) to the church at Landis Homes, where my brothers, Charletta, and I were the youngest in attendance by far.  It was rather amusing because the sermon was about maintaining faith in God as one grows older.  But as the pastor pointed out to us, we too will face the struggles of old age, but maybe in a few more years that most of the other church attenders.

Then after church we met up with my Dad’s side of the family to have lunch and play games.  One of my cousin’s from Malawi was able to be there and also another cousin from New Orleans.  We of course enjoyed typical loud conversation around the dining table and even heard a few new stories about Pappy.

Later that evening we went over to the Maust household where the Bell family also joined us, thirteen total it was a real treat to spend time with that spectrum of people.  Along with many good conversations and some amazing baked potato soup made my aunts Mary & Rachel (with assistence from half a dozen others), we also enjoyed Charletta’s Palin impression.  Then we ended up playing the Name Game, which also resulted in great hilarity especially when my Mom got so into the acting round that she literally fell on the floor in order to help us guess collapse.


Tim and Charletta headed off for a day trip to Philadelphia, while I spent the morning working on my dreaded library paper.  I got a good chunk of it done, in part due to the lack of wireless and therefore lack of internet temptations.  Then Jonathan, my parents and I headed off to Park City to do some shoe shopping.  My mom found a pair of good walking shoes and I helped my dad pick out a pair of casual shoes (he owns sketchers now, crazy!).  Then we wondered off and found Jonathan happily playing Mario Baseball on a game store’s Wii.  After lunch my parents dropped Jonathan and I off at Borders to go visit some of my great aunts and uncles.  I located a few Mary Russell mysteries that I didn’t own yet and then proceeded to camp out in the graphic novel section and read a few more volumes of the Buffy season 8 series.  That was great fun in a highly nerdy sense of the word.  Then we met up with Tim and Charletta and went to Olive Garden where we proceeded to be our obnoxious family selves.


One of the highlights of the week was chance to spend time with Emily and Laura, two of my closest cousins in age.  We couldn’t remember the last time just the three of us had had so much time to spend together.  While we had seen each other at various reunions it had been a long time that we all had been at the same one.  We started off the morning hanging out at Laura and Jed’s apartment with their always endearing daughter, Lillie.  Lillie had quite sneakily become a walking/talking almost 2 year old, even though it feels like such a short time ago she was a quiet lump sleeping in her mother’s arms at our first meeting.  After Emily arrived we went on a walk around downtown Lancaster doing various errands with Laura and eventually making our way to Central Market.  Full of memories and classical Lancaster food, I purchased some Wilbur chocolate buds, a half a dozen of whoopie pies (one of my all-time favorite desserts) and some Bubble Tape to round out my collection of nostalgia candy.


Thanks to Laura for this picture, I am definitely gonna find a frame for it!

Then Emily, Laura and I went to Isaacs for lunch and continued chatting.  It was rather strange to look at them sitting around the table with me and realize we have quite sneakily become adults.  Emily is finishing up her college degree and enjoying her waitress job (she recently waited on Jesse Jackson!), Laura is being a wonderful mother to Lillie and learning how to quilt and I am well into my third year at the high school and looking at the beginning of my grad degree.  I could have sworn it was only a few years ago we were playing together at Grandma’s house or playing viola together at family reunions.  While our trio has changed a lot over the past few years, I think you will agree we still complement each other pretty well!

Tuesday evening was the viewing, which fortunately wasn’t too exhausting because the grandchildren weren’t expected to stand in the receiving line and great the many guests.  But it was also there that we first viewed Grandma’s body.  While at first I found it rather difficult to look at her, it eventually became an almost odd thing to me because it was so clearly not Grandma.  It did bear a faint resemblance to the Grandma of my memories, the much more vital part of Grandma was spending an evening hanging out with her many and varied descendants.


A blistery November morning, we all gathered together at New Danville church for the final viewing and funeral.  The highlight for me was singing two hymns as a part of a choir of grandchildren.  One was a old classic, Children of the Heavenly Father, and the other was a newer hymn called Nothing is Lost on the Breath of God.  Both were very poignant songs to sing and it was a powerful experience to get to sing with family at such a special time.  In his tribute to his mother, my Uncle Dan said that Grandma had always dreamed of being a teacher.  But when lack of education, marriage, farm life and children prevented her from doing so, she did the next best thing and created her own school through her children.  As we sang together as grand-children, I realized that not only had Grandma created a school, she created a choir, a softball team (we play a game every summer at the family reunion), a group of world travelers and a small tribe of people of faith.

The ceremony ended with a short burial service on the windy hilltop graveyard at my childhood church.  The clouds were beautiful and the wind more than a little brisque as we sang a few more hymns and I along with the other eldest granddaughters from each family acted as pallbearers for Grandma’s casket.  That too was an important act for me, while having female pallbearers is not unheard of these days, I am guessing that this is the first one of my anscesters to have women carry their caskets and I think in some ways that would have also made Grandma quite proud.


what up, GC!

May 6, 2008

So I have to say it is kinda of exciting to open up your big city newspaper in the morning and turn to the Tempo page and find your good ole’ alma mater staring you in the face. Yeah, I had heard about the whole GC on CNN thing and the huge attention being paid to the Indiana primary, but it feels like another level to have Mennonites and GC being the big news in Chicago. Crazy, eh?

It is such a Mennonite thing to be like, “oh I know them, I went to school with so and so, their older sibling.” And it is pretty cool to be able to show your collegues the big picture of a student in her dorm room and be like, “oh yeah I lived in a room like that.” (Um, okay so maybe that last bit is more of a dorky thing and less of the cool, but it still kinda makes my day).

In other news, spring is really finally here and making it pretty hard to be inside working at a computer for most of the day. However I really can’t complain because I work in a room that is 1/4 windows, so I do get a nice view of the sun and sky. But still at the end of the day when I walk out of the building into the sun, I always end up blinking like some blinded woodland animal in headlights. Also Becca and I did our first replanting of seedlings on Sunday. We only lost one little morning glory sprout in the move and both the sweatpeas and the remaining morning glory seem to be adjusting to their new home pretty well. I also started some more basil, rosemary, mint, chives and marjoram seeds because one can never have enough pesto, salad dressing, mint tea, omelets or stuff you put marjoram on.

I am officially in countdown mode at the job now, which in case you are wondering is 6 weeks. One of those weeks will be a 4 day week thanks to Memorial day and another week will be a 3 day week thanks to Steph’s wedding. So really summer is pretty much here and I am so excited about that. As most of you know last summer, I went off on a crazy continent spanning trip and was pretty much gone for the whole summer. Which was great and all, but I must say I have never been so excited about NOT having travel plans. Granted I do already have plans to spend a week on the beach in South (or North, I forget) Carolina with the Rini at the end of June and heading out to the West Coast for a while to visit with the Meryl and the Katie and the David (although he might not actually be there when I am), but other than that I plan on enjoying all the delights of summer in the city. Here is what I am excited about:

movies in grant park
sleeping in
helping out with various Reba projects
wearing skirts more
using the fresh herbs out of our porch garden
walking to the lake
checking more books of my reading list
making plans with fun people
sleeping with the window open
carillion (basically a bunch of bells) concerts at the Garden
riding my bike (and maybe getting buffer)
working in the community garden
(for another good example of summer lists, check out Elizabeth’s blog)