Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mother's Journal-Ezekial

Ezekial 16-There are 59 verses about the wickedness of Israel and in v.63, the last verse, He says when I forgive you for all you've done. What mercy and graciousness!

Ezekial 17:22-24~Are these verses talking about Jesus? On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it ( a tender twig from the top of a high cedar) and it shall grow branches and bear fruit and become a noble cedar, in the shadow of whose branches the birds of every feather will nestle and find rest. He said we were to come to Him and find rest. This is all a very beautiful, accurate description of our Savior.

Ezekial 22:30~I have looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and hold the breach before Me in defense of the Land, that I would not destroy it, but I did not find him. v.31. Therefore, I will pour out my indignation upon them~their own ways I have repaid upon their own heads~The importance of one godly person! One who will not be content with his own godliness but who will give himself in reconciling others to God and building the kingdom in their lives.

I know some men like that. A~

(For those of you just starting to read my blog, I take excerpts from my mother's journals and entitle them "Mother's Journal Gems" or something close to that. I write down the scriptures she used and also her comments about them using a different color and style.) A~

Mother's Journal Gems

Luke 24:52~"They worshiped Him and went back to Jerusalem with great joy."-I always wonder about that. Jesus just left them for good physically. Somehow, He was able to portray His going as a reason for joy. For one thing, they had no more doubts as to who He was.

Dear John the Baptist~What an awful experience being in jail must have been! How severely your faith must have been tried! You saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and remain on Him (John 1:32) and you said, I testify that He is the Son of God (vs. 34). But later in the prison, you wondered if He really was the one sent from Heaven. Yesterdays experience and belief is not enough. We must have a present, daily faith.

"IF"by Amy Carmichael

Amy says it well. These are difficult words for difficult times. Read slowly and thoughtfully.

I am perturbed by the reproach and misunderstanding that may follow action taken for the good of souls for whom I must give account;
If I cannot commit the matter and go on in peace and silence, remembering Gethsemane and the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I cannot bear to be like the father who did not soften the rigors of the far country; if, in this sense, I refuse to allow the law of God (the way of the transgressors is hard) to take effect, because of the distress it causes me to see that law in operation, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I deal with wrong for any other reason than that implied in the words, 'From His right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, He loved the people'; If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, 'Just as I expected,' if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I sympathize weakly with weakness, and say to the one who is turning back from the cross, 'Pity thyself'; if I refuse such a one the sympathy that braces and the brave and heartening word of comradeship, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I cannot keep silence over a disappointing soul (unless for the sake of that soul's good or for the good of others it be necessary to speak), then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

I've been seeing alot of Calvary Love.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The other day, I picked up a women's magazine. One of the articles was about age. It said something like, "You can tell a woman's age by looking at her hands." It gave several helpful hints to helping one's hands look younger, so people wouldn't be able to know how old one really is.

I guess my question is, "So what? Does it really matter if my hands look 50 years old? That's half a century, for crying outloud! Since when is it a sin or a shame to get older and to look one's age? Why do we praise the woman who manages to look younger than she is? Why do we want to hear the praise ourselves? What is the grand prize we are searching for? What is the competition? Do we really want to see who can look the youngest 50 at 50? Why? What for?"

These are questions I have been asking myself. My heart grieves. I no longer grieve because I am looking older. I grieve because we are missing what is really important. We are forgetting to keep our spirits ageless with the fountain of living water. We are forgetting that a merry heart does good like a medicine. We are forgetting that all people are beautiful when they are living close to God. We are forgetting to encourage the younger women to be happy at home and to love their husbands and children. We are forgetting to be content with wrinkles and age-spots on hands that have loved and touched many lives. We are forgetting to love ourselves and the way we are right now.

My hands show my age. Good. That's fine.
I hope they also show strength of character and beauty of spirit.
I hope they show a life of service.
I hope they show love.


Today, Gina, Susan and I, put away the Christmas decorations. We supercleaned the bookshelf. I put about half the things back on it. It looks great. But now, with that one area so clean and shiny, the rest of the house looks cluttered and dusty. I keep telling myself, "One corner at a time."

My dad was an antique collector and an auctioneer. The basement was full of treasure that he had discovered at one time or another. My mother likes simple things. She decorates with crystal and whites and beautiful wooden furniture passed down from generations. She likes her home to be clean and organized because she is creative and can think better in a tidy environment.

I've got a problem. I am like my dad. I like to collect things. I like antiques. I see beauty in unusual items. And I am like my mother. I like simple things. I want to have time to read and write. I am tired of moving my things around. I am tired of dusting the things I like. So, half of the time, I am like my dad, and half of the time, I am like my mother. I am in a dilemma. Do I keep my collections in the old house and keep the house we live in clutter-free? I wish. But, the collections from the old house spill into the new. could preach on that.

Not only have I cluttered the house without realizing it, I have cluttered my body. I've gained six pounds this month from all the holiday eating. Today, I got back on track. I ate just whole foods; one's without ingredients. I've been experiencing almost flu-like symptoms as my body detoxes. I need to hang in there because in a few days I will feel so much better.

We might have clutter in our spirits as well. Fear of man takes up alot of room. It's like setting up little idols all over the place...little figurines of people that we don't even like. And we fear that they won't like us if we don't do things a certain way. Gossip clutters. Pride is a real mess. It prevents the closets from being cleaned out.

One corner at a time...that's all we can handle. Each enlightened corner of our house, body, and spirit, reveals the filth in the other parts of the same. There is a time to keep and a time to throw away. "Is this a treasure to keep?," we must ask. "Or can I live without it? Should I live without it? Will it give me room for the really important things?"

Have a blessed and clutter-freeing, 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dec.26-28, 2008

On Friday morning, the 26th, we left our Va. home at 6:20 AM. The sunrise was unusually beautiful with blues, pinks, and oranges showing off God's paint palette for the day. While traveling, I knitted on Christi's white Christmas scarf. I sang the first verse of all of Fanny Crosby's songs in the hymnbook. She was blind and I love to read her words about "seeing Him." Phil, Susan, and I played the alphabet game. We ate Good n' Plenty's and beef jerky. Freeman drove his car and Michael and Philip rode with him. We ended up in Pa. a bit early, ate at Bob Evan's Restaurant, and then went over to see our friends.

It's becoming a tradition; to stop in at Pat and Mary's on our way up to Christmas gatherings. She always gives us coffee and tea and her special Christmas cookies. We met their son Michael's fiance, Raquel, and she is just right for him and the rest of the family. Kathryn came home later but Michael had to work. The boys enjoyed playing with Scotty, their white cocker spaniel. Mary and I caught up on some things. To our sorrow, Michael and Raquel's wedding is the same day as our Pig Roast-June 20. Our whole family loves Pat and Mary and their family. All the best to them. I will see Mary in Feb. when I go up for their church retreat. She'll be speaking on "New Beginnings."

We went to my brother Abe's place for supper. Karen, his wife, is a delightful person. Three of their four children are married and they have a grandson who we are all crazy about. People think I love babies. Well, my whole family loves babies. I didn't know that was unusual until people started commenting about it. Loving babies and wanting to hold and love on them is one of the things my family does best. We had Abe's special seafood soup for an appetizer. We ate turkey, stuffing, oyster filling, gourmet potatoes, brussel sprouts with water chestnuts and blue cheese, green beans, succotash, celery, olives, cookies, and more, I'm sure. We played Mad Gab, Now you have it-Now you don't, and Taboo. We get very loud and very excited. Karen wins the prize for getting the most loud and excited. It's one of the reasons we love her so. She gets just as excited for the opposing team as she does her own. Rosalee and Jim were there were their three wonderful children. Mother was there, as beautiful and peaceful as ever. And three of Abe's children were there and their families. We had a really nice time.

We arrived at Mom and Dad's around 10 that eve. and dropped Susan off. She slept there. The rest of us went over to Joe and Karen's (Hotel 8) and made our homebase in their spacious home. Joe is Phil's youngest brother. The next morning, we relaxed, and went over to Mom and Dad's around 11:30 for the Hertzler gathering. We had a huge meal there, too. We sang songs after the noon meal as we sat around the table. You would not believe the quality of singing that comes from this group of people. Every spouse married someone who can sing and all the children can sing on key, and no one is afraid of being heard. It's beyond beautiful and my heart fills up with the majesty of it all. Sometimes, they get to being silly in their singing, which helps me not to cry like I want to sometimes. We opened gifts and played different games. One of my favorite times of the day was when all the sis-in-laws, and Mom, were over at Debra's, looking on-line for wedding dresses. We sat around and asked Anne questions and she gave us a sneak peak into her wedding plans. Tomorrow, I need to go to Esther Mae's and find Alfred Angelo's wedding clothes in her store. Her store, in Farmville, came up on-line as a place where they sell his designs. I won't have to travel back to Pa. for fittings, etc. I can do it all here. All of the Sis-in-laws are in the wedding. We will all wear black satin in any style we want from Alfred Angelo.

We ate leftovers for supper and stayed and talked with the family until after 9. Micah and Janelle were there and he was so snuggly and lovable. They drove home through thick fog and called when they got home because I had asked them to.

On Sunday morning, we woke up slow, and went to the late service at Hopewell. We saw many dear friends and caught up with some of them in depth. We stayed at church for a Mast Family Reunion. (Everyone, everywhere, commented on Michael's height. )We got to see many cousins and aunts and uncles. The Hertzler family and Doug, sang "Forever Young." As a large group, we sang some of the unusual Christmas songs passed down from Phil's grandparents. Phil has 4 uncles and 3 aunts from his mother's side.

It was moving to see a heritage of righteousness that has passed down through many generations. We get to be part of what is already in place and pass down more righteousness to the next generations. I think it is easier when those before us have done well. It makes me want to do well too, so those coming after me will find it easier to walk with God. It matters how we live. If we sin, we affect many others than ourselves. If we are righteous, we do the same.

Freeman and Michael left early to go visit our friends, the Balmers, in West Chester. We made good time on the way home. We left at 3:00 and were home by 9:oo and Freeman and Michael were home shortly afterwards.

I have learned to enjoy our time in Pa with family and friends and to not grieve when we leave them behind. I feel at home in Pennsylvania, with our families, friends, and our church body. I feel at home here in Virginia, too. It's a good feeling~ to feel at home wherever we are. It's been a very nice Christmas, 2008.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day~2008

Merry Christmas!
We are having flipflop weather in the sunny south.
It is 70 degrees here in the shade.
I can hear Philip hammering outside. He is building Susan a rabbit cage for her Christmas gift. We are going to Pa. for a few days and she needs a cage that will keep her rabbits off the ground. Sometimes, the cows get out of the barn and move her cages around. Phil is out hauling manure on this beautiful afternoon. Freeman is grilling bear ribs for supper and I'm not sure what Michael or Susan are doing because I just woke up from an hour-long nap.

This morning, we took our time getting up. I made a sausage- hashbrown-egg casserole and chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.
We sat around the table and talked about 'Honor' and how to honor our upcoming President, our pastors, our employers, our parents, and each other. We sang Christmas songs passed down from Mast Family Gatherings and Phil recited and read the Christmas story from the Bible. We gave each other Christmas gifts and watched "The Three Stooges" and held baby bunnies. I had given each of them Mountain Dew sleep pants and they put them on immediately. We took some funny pictures with them holding bottles of Mountain Dew that Gina had given them.

I've been packing for our trip to Pa. I also need to take a walk to the river since I promised Angel one this morning. It's been a wonderful Christmas so far, but I realize that I have been experiencing Christmas for at least a month. I think it would be more accurate to say that I experience Christmas almost every day. Because Christmas is about God being with us, Emmanuel, and I do experience that truth every day, whether I feel Christmassy or not.

Merry Christmas to all of you, today, and every day for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 24, 2008

Today, Susan and I went out to Farmville. I would have gone earlier this week, but I didn't have a car. We went to several shops in town, ate at the Chinese Restaurant, and headed for Walmart. I pretended to boo-hoo before I got out at Walmart." I don't wanna go to Walmart," I hissy-fitted. Susan was getting a little tired of my drama.

We went in. People were everywhere. Carts were like cars on a freeway, blocking traffic for miles. We even had to come back after we were halfway home to pick up a much needed timer for the frog's heat lamp. 
But, I write all this to say, not once did I see a frown or hear an impatient word throughout this whole day. People were smiling and kind. I heard, "Thank-you, sweetie," and "That's OK, dear," and "Get in line in front of me," all day long.  Complete strangers told me their holiday plans.  I helped an older gentlemen figure out what kind of crackers he should get from his wife's grocery list. Everyone felt like a friend and the friends we did see were more precious than ever.

Jesus was at Walmart today. I saw him in the gracious man with the tatoos going up his neck and his beard tied in rubberbands at the bottom. I saw Him in the friendly smiles, and kind words, and warm hugs.
The angels proclaimed, "Peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

Today I experienced anew, the fulfillment of their words.

Faith's Origin

Acts 3:36~"And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."

...the faith which comes through Him...not faith in our faith...but faith in Him...we can receive nothing unless Heaven gives it to us...this is His faith in us working miracles....perfect soundness for people we know...not half a the presence of others to glorify God...

Psalm of Comfort~#14~Ps.119:132

"Look upon me
and be merciful to me,
As your custom is
toward those who love your name."

Do you love His name?
Then He will look upon you
and be merciful to you.
It is His custom.
It is His habit.
It is His way.

Psalm of Comfort~#13~Ps.46:1,2,4,5

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;...

There is a river whose streams
shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
she shall not be moved;
God shall help her,
just at the break of dawn.

Where does God dwell now? Who is His tabernacle?
We are, as individuals, and we are, as the body of Christ.
God is in the midst of us and we will not be moved or shaken.
We will be helped, just at the turning of the morning.
Just when we need to see light at the end of our tunnel.
All this stability and help take place when the foundations of our world and of our lives are falling apart...when nature itself is in an upheaval.
Be still and know He is our refuge.
Be still and know that He is God.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Lot

The Lot

Proverbs 16:33~"The lot is cast into the lap,

but every decision is from the LORD."

When I was a young girl, going to Mellinger's Mennonite Church, I remember when a pastor was chosen for the church by the casting of the lot. I remember how somber an occasion it was, as the men, one by one, picked up a book from the pulpit...But, wait. I asked my Uncle Paul, who was a bishop in the Mennonite Church for many years, to explain it to me so my memory would be refreshed. I will use his words he sent me a few days ago, adapting them a little to explain what is understood.

"With the lot, any members could nominate a potential male pastor. Anyone male with three nominations was to be considered.("Two or three witnesses") Anyone could withdraw if he was nominated. Those in the lot met with their wives with bishops and other pastors to consider the sense of the call.
A slip of paper was placed in one of the Bibles with a Bible verse on it. Another person mixed the Bibles.(There were as many Bibles as there were candidates.) Another bishop placed the Bibles. After a time of prayer, the candidates could choose any Bible, usually beginning with the oldest candidate.
When I gave leadership to it, I asked for a vote from the congregation to confirm that all were approved to be considered. Over 50% approval vote was required for any candidate to proceed.
Earlier on, most pastors called were self-employed. Later the lot wasn't used and a pastor was interviewed and then approved by the congregation.
That was always a traumatic experience because so much was involved. I was first licensed as a young pastor, then ordained. The lot was used when I was ordained bishop. I was 29 when chosen."

Thank you, Uncle Paul, for explaining this to all of us. If you have any questions, he has offered to try to answer them.

New Blog

Please meet my friend, Jeanne, and read her blog posted to the right~"Seven Oaks".
Phil built Jeanne and her husband, John, a beautiful house on some land they bought from us. They originate from Long Island, NY, and are turning into quite the country folk. You will enjoy her blog. She writes for a living for different businesses and you will love reading about her experiences in the country. Enjoy! And thank you Lindsay, for hacking into my blog, and putting Jeanne in for me!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something Pastor Frank said

"Those who quit, remember the ordeal.
Those who finish, remember the adventure.
At the end of our lives, it will either have been an ordeal
or an adventure."

The Rebuke of His people

Isaiah 25 is full of promise.

In verse 4, it says that God is a strength to the poor; a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade in the heat;..
In verse 5, it says that the song of the terrible ones will be diminished or humbled. You know what that song sounds like..."You're not going to make it...What are you going to do?...God cares for others, not you..You are left out...You're going to die...What you've done will ruin everything...Shame on you...You're losing your mind..."
In verse 6, on this mountain, Mount Zion, The Lord of Hosts will make a great feast for all people and He will destroy the surface of the covering that is veiled over all peoples (Could this be the "through a glass darkly" veil, or the veil of oppression?) and He will swallow up death forever and wipe away all tears from all faces.

And this is what gets me~vs.8~"The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth"...What is the rebuke of His people?
Does anyone have any ideas?
Is it hypocrisy? Unbelief? Fear of man? Anything the world can rightly point a finger at in our lives?

In vs. 10, it says that the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain, and Moab will be trampled under Him. Do you know where the Moabites came from? They came from Lot's daughters' grand idea to get their father drunk so they could get pregnant from him. The first daughter had a son and called him Moab and he is the father of the Moabites today. The youngest daughter had a son, Ben-Ammi, and he is the father of the Ammonites. The Moabites caused alot of carnal seduction in Israel's history, according to my Bible notes. No wonder. And the Ammonites were responsible for human sacrifice to the god of Molech.
It is no small thing when we are told that God is going to trample down Moab under Him. I think Moab may mean anything unholy in our lives.

I've always been taught that Mt. Zion is the church. I am sure it is a physical place as well, so we get some idea that this is going to take place where we are and some where else, too.
God is going to make things right.
He is going to destroy those things that cause shame and pain in our lives.
He is going to wipe away tears. He is going to open our eyes so we can see Him clearly.
And He is going to remove the rebuke of His people.
I am looking forward to this.
I am sure that I didn't get everything about this passage nearly right. But I am also sure that I got this part right.
He is coming.
He will fix things.
Because He wins, I will too.
And, I will feel His gentle, mighty hands wiping tears from my face some day very soon.

Near To The Heart of God

Words and music by Cleland B.McAfee, 1866-1944

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer
Sent from the heart of God
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God

There is a place of comfort sweet
Near to the heart of God
A place where we our Savior meet
Near to the heart of God. (Chorus)

There is a place of full release
Near to the heart of God
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.(Chorus)

These words have been singing in my head. How precious the prayer that Jesus, as we wait for Him, would hold us near to the heart of God.

Rambling Thoughts about Normalcy

Sometimes, I start feeling normal. It lasts for about five days at the most and then, WHAM, something else happens that kicks normalcy right out the window. I think I am starting to see a pattern here. Maybe I am not supposed to feel normal. Maybe, no one feels normal.
Perhaps, if I felt normal, I wouldn't have this crushing need to have a Savior. I heard someone say that Jesus and Christianity are a crutch and the reply to that was,"Yes, but it's pretty nice when you're crippled."

Think of this. God became man because we couldn't understand who He was. So, Jesus, became flesh and showed us the way to live and showed us the way to the Father and then died and rose again to pay for our sins so we could be holy and be able to relate to a holy God based on the great exchange~our sins for His holiness.

This is the God who not only wipes the tears from my eyes but collects them in a bottle. Who else does that? This is the God who has my name engraved in the palm of His hand. This is the God who thinks of me all the time. His thoughts toward me are more than the number of the sand by all the seas in the whole wide world. This is the God who sings over me and holds me close in His arms. This is the God who washes my feet and who hand feeds me wine and bread every day.

And we want to be normal. What is normal about any of this? Who wants to be normal?
We want to be accepted, to feel like we belong. And we are accepted in the Beloved. The love God has for Jesus and the love Jesus has for His Father has made its home in our hearts. We are loved. We are accepted. What a settling, restful truth this is.

Perhaps we should forget about being normal and being accepted. Perhaps we should forget about ourselves completely.
Jesus is the vine. We are the branches.
The Vine is far from normal. The Vine is steadfast, unmovable, compassionate, peaceful, sound in mind, healthy, loving, accepting, and completely abnormal.
I am a branch connected to the Vine and so are you. My life is completely dependent on the health of the vine and THAT VINES DOING FINE.
Forget normalcy. Forget acceptance. Forget feeling like a stranger in a strange land.
Think about the vine.
Read about the vine.
Love the vine.
Stay connected to the vine.
All of the rest is a chasing after the wind~a self-centered existence of insecurity. Good riddance, I say.
We are one with the vine.
We are one with each other.
We are dearly loved, so we love the vine, and we love the other branches, and we are far from normal. Thank God.

Dec.19-21, 2008~Hertzler Doings

On Friday night, Phil and I went to the staff party for our church at Daily Grind. We had a lovely supper and played a game or two. We played Pictionary using sheets of paper with a Christmas song written on one side. We took turns drawing the song and our table almost tied with the First Place table. Each couple won a 'Pooping Reindeer.' You put brown jelly beans inside the reindeer and somehow they get, you know, pooped out. We also played "Now you have it, Now you don't," with Christmas gifts that everyone brought. I got a package of real cotton hankerchiefs and a cowboy tie.(football team) Let me know if you are a fan and I'll ship it to you. Phil got..hmm...I can't remember right now. We closed the evening singing "Silent Night" with dear Pastor Lou leading and singing each word with meaning. We joined hands and prayed together for the church and each other. We are so thankful to be a part of this body of believers.

On Sat., Phil and Philip went beaver trapping. They got four beavers. Freeman worked on his camper roof and Michael cut firewood. I picked up Susan in Appomattox. She had spent the night at her friend, Lydia's, and they had gone to a Progressive Supper the night before with the Evergreen Baptist Youth Group. Mickey, Renea, (Mickey's daughter)and Oran (Mickey's other daughter's little boy) came over to see the baby bunnies. Renea is the one who gave us the mother rabbit in the first place. Later, Susan and I watched two Christmas movies before hitting the sack.

On Sunday morning, we went to church, where I picked up my little bundle of joy, Sammy Jo. I was watching her for Judy while she sang. Phil and I went over to the Children's Center to watch Susan practice her Human Video. She and the others did very well and it was a good reminder that children who are young can know God in a deep way. When I came back to the sanctuary, Lindsay and Gil were there with Emma and Adison. Emma played hard to get but I got her and Adi gave me hugs and kisses and looks of interest and delight. The choir wore different shades of red and green with black and while they sang, a clip from the movie, "The Nativity" was shown. Our Pastor preached from Prov. 19:21~"You can make many plans but God's plan will prevail." Some of the highlights of his sermon:
Our plans can not possibly be higher than God's.
Why does God mess up our plans?-To get our attention so we can regain proper focus; Because He has a different plan; and because His plan is more rewarding. We cannot even begin to fathom how great His plans are for us.
May His Kingdom come and His will be done in our lives. Amen.

We came home and I slept. Around 4:00, Tom's came over. Tom is Phil's brother, just 18 months younger than him. Tom and I were born 3 days apart. Helen is his wife. They have six children~Michelle, Meredith (she stayed home to take care of the farm animals), Bethany, Tommy, Abigail, and Serena. Susan, Philip, and Christi went along with Phil and I from our side of the family. We sang at Marvin and Margaret's, Mickey and Mitch's(Oran was there), John and Jeanne's and Ed and Bernice's. The little girls, Abigail and Serena, rode with us. They played spelling games and a Count the Christmas lights game on the way. We saw a falling star with a red tail. We got back to Tom's around 7:00 and had a lovely time of eating, talking, and singing together. I felt all settled inside. Christmas is being with people you love. Christmas is eating good food. Christmas is singing and smiling at people. Christmas is family. Tom's are family. Pa. Family is family. And Mickey, Mitch, Marvin, Margaret, Jeanne, John, Bernice and Ed are family.
And to you who read these words, You are family, too. I love you, and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Turn back the battle

Isaiah 28:5,6~
"In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people,
For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate."

I don't understand this passage but I do feel the heartbeat of God in it. Somehow, God Himself will be our crown of glory and our ornament of dignity and authority. He will help us judge justly and He will be the strength of those who turn back the battle at the gate.
I wonder if those who turn back the battle at the gate are intercessors. Perhaps they see things coming and do battle with the enemy of the souls of those inside the gate. Perhaps, through their prayers, they prevent things from happening to destroy those inside the city. Perhaps, those inside the city will never even know about it. And it is God who is the strength of those who turn back the battle.
I keep reading these verses over and over. I think of His crown of glory and beauty resting on my head. I think of His perfect justice and how He knows all things. I think of His strength for the battle at hand. I think of the Lord of hosts~the LORD of the multitude. I am one in that multitude. You are one in that multitude. And we turn back the battle at the gate by His strength. You and I, arms locked, hearts united, infused with the Strength of the Lord of Hosts, turning back the battle at the gate....

Christmas Caroling

Every Christmas Eve, the Hertzler Family and Friends and neighbors gather together and go Christmas Caroling for several hours. Cousins ride with Cousins and everyone piles into different cars and follow the leader~Grandpa Hertzler. We usually go to the same places every year and usually add on a new family. Phil's dad has unusual stamina. The rest of us wear out long before he does. (When he was young, they would drive through the town and sing carols from the back of a truck until 5:00 in the morning. Then they'd go home and milk the cows.) There is one place we go where the dear lady knits cotton washcloths all year long so she can give one to each of us after we are finished singing. We are going to miss caroling with the old crew this year, but are hoping to start a new tradition with Tom's this Sunday night. They are coming over early in the afternoon and we will sing and visit some folks in our neck of the woods and then go visit some folks that they know. We'll still go caroling with the Pa. folks when we are up for Christmas eve. but this year, the trade-off is the joy of being at our own home for Christmas Day.


I've been thinking alot about my dad lately. We were together the Christmas of 2003 at my brother, Abe's place. My dad wasn't feeling well and we were trying to figure out what was going wrong. We'd discover later that his remaining kidney was failing. Things went from bad to worse and after two hospitalizations, a broken hip, and pneumonia, he passed from this life into the next, on Feb. 2, 2004.

My dad loved Christmas. He would go all out. One Christmas, my brother Alan and I snuck out to the living room early in the morning. I'll never forget my delight in seeing a snowcone machine on the picture windowsill. I was sure it was for me, and it was. I think that was the same Christmas that I got an Incredible Edible machine. I could bake my own squiggly candy in the shapes of snakes and bugs, etc.

Before we would open our gifts on Christmas, my dad would read the Christmas Story from Luke 2. Mother may have read it sometimes, too. I remember one year that my mother cried when she opened the gift from my dad. It was a music box and it was beautiful. The melancholy, sweet sounds that came out of that little box were too much for her. She had to close the lid. I am not sure if she played it much, but we all knew that he had given her a gift that she loved very much. He would often get her a little Hummel figurine, and he bought her a special glass case to display them in.

My dad's side of the family would meet for a Diffenbach gathering at Ronk's Fire Hall in Ronks, Pa. My dad's sisters were big on hugging and kissing. My Aunt Esther is still living and I just sent her a newsletter. Sometimes, when I go past a mirror, I think, "Aunt Esther?!" Then, I realize, that it is just me. My mother always said that I was alot like her which always made me happy because I liked her and still do. Once, my Aunt Dottie kissed my little brother on the cheek. He began to rub his cheek. She sorrowed,"Are you rubbing off my kiss?" He replied,"No, I'm rubbing it in." I've heard this smart statement since that time, but I am here to tell you, that he is the orinal owner of it and he said it with all the sincerity of a Diffenbach Gentleman. At the Diffenbach gathering, Santa Claus would appear and hand out gifts. Sometimes, we'd sing silly songs, like "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Uncle Merv would play chess with an unfortunate opponent and there would be other games transpiring in different corners of the big room.

Those days are gone now. My dad had three syblings and Aunt Esther is the only one living. I miss my dad. I miss the good times with him. He was a generous man and very smart~ a brilliant businessman with a great sense of humor. My syblings all really miss him too. When we meet at my brother's house this Christmas, we will be careful not to leave his place empty at the table. It would be too much for all of us.

My mother has asked us to not buy her gifts this year. She asked that we would give money to 'Heifer's International' or some other missionary. It is like her. She wants for little and she desires little. She is doing well. She enjoys living at the Retirement Home. She has made some friends that feel like old friends and all her children and grandchildren love her dearly. She is surrounded by beauty and simplicity in her carriage house and she has deep books stacked by her bedside along with her writings. Her three cats keep her company and love her only.

I miss her too, and I will see her soon.

Grandma Diffy's Sugar Cookies

My dad's mother made Christmas sugar cookies. These are crunchy and hard and best eaten by dunking in milk.

2 2/3 cup butter
4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
2 teasp. cream of tartar
10-12 cup flour
4 T. vanilla

Mix. Roll into balls. Flatten with a glass with sugar on the bottom of it.
The flatter the better. Sometimes, I use colored sugar.

Christmas Cookies in the Summer

Every Christmas, as far back as I can remember, my mother would make sandtart cookies. Sometimes, we made them with Grandma Landis. My mother would roll out the cookie dough as thinly as possible. She would cut out the dough with different cookie cutters. I liked the reindeer and the little turkey chick. Carefully, with a metal spatula, she would transport the fragile cookie dough to the baking sheet. We would brush beaten egg on the center of the cookie. Sometimes, we would sprinkle little colored balls on the top and sometimes, we'd put on crushed peanuts and cinnamon and sugar.

Every Christmas, after she made these cookies, Grandma Landis would freeze a cookie tin full of the large graceful reindeer sandtarts.
In the summer, when I would be back on the farm, playing hide-n-seek with my cousin, Anita, or begging our grandpa to empty his overall pocket contents into our open hands so he could turn numerous cartwheels across the lawn, my grandmother would show up with the beloved cookie tin. Pop. She would open it up and offer us her frozen treasure. We'd breathe in the cold Christmas air cooped up in the cookie tin and be transported back in time to the last Christmas past.  We'd pick up a reindeer and slowly eat it, one leg at a time and save the cinnamony centers for our last savory bite. I can feel it now, like it was yesterday. Christmas cookies in the heat of summer, cooling our bodies down, and warming our hearts anew.

Sandtart Recipe:
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 lb butter
4 cup flour

That's all the information I have. Mix it up. Chill it. Roll and cut.
Don't forget to save some for later.
Catch a whiff of Christmas in the summer.

Breakfast Pizza

This is a nice, easy brunch casserole. I made it for school today.

1-8 0z. container crescent rolls-Press into a greased 9x13 pan.

1/2 lb. hot sausage-(I used turkey kelbasi and cut it up and put it right into the pan.)
1/2 cup onion-Saute onion and sausage. Drain and sprinkle over dough.( I skipped the onion.)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese-Sprinkle over sausage.
2 T. green pepper-(I skipped)

4 eggs, beaten- Combine this and blend well. Pour over mixture in pan.
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano-(I skipped)
1/8 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup milk

1 cup shredded mozarella cheese-Sprinkle over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 min. Yield-6 servings.

December Hertzler Memories-2008

Lest I forget amidst the business of this season, I want to write down some precious memories of this past week...

Christi came over and she, Philip, and Susan sat on the living room floor and played with Susan's very tame baby rabbits. Philip laid on his stomach and the girls put the bunnies on his back. As they got too near the sides of his back, they would begin to frantically claw to hold their place and in so doing, were scratching him. He had to whoop and holler a bit and it was alot of fun. I took some pictures of all 5 of them (the bunnies) snuggled together on a pillow.

We got a very special phone call a few days ago. Aunt Annie called with the news that her sweetheart, Dave, had asked her to marry him at midnight a few hours earlier. Their Day will be May 9 and we are so excited for them. She couldn't have a nicer guy and he is getting a rare prize. All the best to them both. Anne is Phil's one and only sister. She has six brothers.

On Wed. night, some of us got together at Missi's and had a nice little feast. It was good to be with some 'old' friends from the diet group.

On Thursday, we gathered at Cornerstone Christian Academy and went as a school group to Richmond. We went to see "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" at the 'live' theatre. The main lady character had to be Betty Gibb's twin sister. Afterwards, we went to Golden Corral. There was probably about 90 of us altogether. I rode with Marcie, Mikayla, and Clarissa. Marcie reminds me of my sister, Rosalee, and I remind her of her sisters and sometimes, the children get Marcie and I mixed up.

Today, we had a half day at school. The children passed out gifts to the teachers and had their gift exchange. The younger grades got to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the chapel. He was very convincing. I almost started to doubt my doubts about his existence. The children told Santa what they wanted and lots of pictures were taken. I got to hold baby Rachel again and I took her around and showed her off. How lovely to work with people who treasure life in the littlest ones and who go all soft and mushy inside when a small baby smiles.
Following Santas debut, we had a large brunch. Different classes had brought in different food. The older class brought in egg and sausage casseroles. There were donuts and fruit and all kinds of good things to eat. I brought home a box of gifts from the students and other teachers~homemade bread and an orange, a silver angel and note cards, Father Christmas, a clear bulb with white feathers inside~stunning, a pewter ornament, silver snowflake earrings, a devotional book, a wooden manger scene ornament with Alyssa and Matthew's name imprinted on it, English Toffee, gourmet chocolates, Chai Tea Soap, and cash. Wow! We gave homemade caramel popcorn to Susan and Michael's male teachers and Bath and Body hand soap to their female teachers. I gave Marcie a homemade plate since I had run out of soap and I knew she would like the plate.

Oh! I can't forget this story. Justin, 1st grade, I think, came up to me and looked towards his lunch table where Santa was being interrogated by his classmates. Justin said, " They're asking him questions...but I know he's not real. Do you know how I know he's not real? If he was real, his beard would be alot longer and his stomach would be alot fatter." You gotta love it.

We sent out and passed out over 200 newsletters this year. Judy took pictures of our family and we put them on the back of the newsletter. It's a great way to keep in touch. My neighbor got one and so did my friend, Gretchen, in Hawaii. Philip even got some beaver trapping business passed on to him because someone read the newsletter.

Tonight, we are going to a church staff party. I'll have to be careful what I write about that. Things can get a little wild.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Beth Moore quote~"Faith is not believing in my own unshakable belief. Faith is believing an unshakable God when everything in me trembles and quakes."


Quote by Oswald Chambers ~
"Tenacity is more than hanging on,
which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.
Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing
to believe that his hero is going to be conquered.
...Remain spiritually tenacious."

Reality and Faith

Quote by Jim Cymbala-"Faith never denies reality but leaves room for God to grant a new reality."

Prayer I pray

"Lord, defend me in those things You can defend in me,

and cleanse me from the things you can not defend."

There is rest, humility, and peace when I trust God to answer this prayer.

Hertzler Doings~Dec.12-14

This past Friday evening, we went to see the Christmas Musical-"A Storybook Christmas", put on by our church, New Life Assembly of God. Freeman portrayed Joseph. The scene with Mary, the angel, and Joseph was my favorite last year and it was my favorite again this year, especially with Freeman's mellow voice joining the other two gentle voices. The angel's proclamation to Mary, her uncertainty and willingness, and Joseph's bravery and reassurance from an angel as well, all blended together into a tender portrayal of the very beginnings of Christ as man. Freeman was also a part of some other fun scenes.
The musical was based around a central theme demonstrated by a frantic rabbit's desire to not be late for a very important date-the birthday of the King. The rabbit and his cohorts-Katie, the tin-man, the cowardly lion, and the scarecrow, travel through story book land in order to find directions to the King's birthday party. There were numerous humorous scenes and we enjoyed it very much. Phil's favorite character was the rabbit. I think he was my favorite too. Phil's favorite scene was the mouse scene because Ruth Shirk played one of the mice. It's extra funny when you know the people playing the part and it seems as if the part was written for them instead of the other way around. Susan was in the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe scene. She had fun being naughty and wild and didn't seem to have any stage fright at all. Michael sang and was part of the different crowd scenes.

I had some moments of uneasiness when I couldn't see Freeman or Michael during the final song. I saw them then, to the side on the floor, leaning over helping someone. I saw a cop walk up the aisle over to them and I was beginning to wonder if they stopped a terrorist or something. ( Not really, but all kinds of things go through your mind.) The whole time this is going on, Pastor Rob is singing his solo with gusto and the cast is smiling bravely, some aware, some not, of the crisis at hand. Ramona, Susan's unfortunate mother who lived in a shoe, had missed a step and fallen. The final diagnosis? A sprained ankle. So sorry that happened. Dianna filled in for her for the Sat. performances and did a great job, I hear.

On Sat. eve., Phil and I went to the annual Jones/Guild Christmas party. It's always alot of fun. Some of the teachers got a little too loud when we were roasting Dr. Hubler. Poor man, sick at home, and we were making jokes about his jokes. I am a little bit afraid to go into school on Wed.

All day Sat., I had been thinking about a little girl who I have in music. I got to hear her sing by herself and she has a beautiful voice. I wondered if her parents knew what kind of voice she has and what her musical background is. Just as we were leaving the party, another couple came in. Marcie introduced them to us as Brianna's grandparents. And it was their grandchild that I had been thinking about. I found out that she and her grandmother sing together alot and that her mother sings as well. How nice to be assured that they knew how well she could sing and that they appreciated her gift. I was so thankful to God for letting me find this out on the very day that I was wondering about it. He really does know our thoughts and answers before they turn into prayers.

We went to church Sunday morning. We enjoyed being with the Anglican's last Sunday, but I really missed our church. I had suggested to Margaret at the party Sat. night, that the way to give her husband, Dr. Hubler, a break, would be to come to our church one Sunday a month. "But," she said,"We're not charismatic." "And I'm not Anglican," said I. She had to laugh. I think it's a really good idea, actually.
Anyway, the worship was sweet and the Word was pure. Pastor Frank preached on what it will look like in the day when the Lord will come back. We had a similar discussion the night before at the party. If the day of His appearing will have the same appearance as Noah's Day what will that look like? What will be the signs of His coming?
#1-The church will become the church God intends it to be. God never intended for the church to be hidden in a church building. Churchlife will be exhibited in homes and will be out in the marketplace.
#2-There will be an acceleration of sin. People won't even realize it. He gave a quote from someone that sounded something like this. "The subtle wind of compromise is more devastating than the sudden jolt of destruction." (Selah.)
#3-Gray is going to disappear. Black and white will be drawing clearer lines. He is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle. (We think of spots or wrinkles that we can see. These are spots and wrinkles seen with the Holy Spotlight of the Presence of God. Uh-oh.)
In Nehemiah's day, the people had a mind to work. In 56 days, Nehemiah built a wall. Look what a group of people can do when they have a mind to work. Some walls need to be built. Some need to be torn down. (This will take courage and discernment.)
#4-People will be unaware that a storm is approaching. There will be business as usual.
Our economy is poor because of our sin. We know. Get yourself ready. It's too easy to blame others.
#5-There will be an ark prepared by an Active Savior. What will an active Savior look like in these days? It will look like this-His Spirit poured out on all flesh. So wherever I am, Jesus Christ is. We say that we are waiting for God. But, He is waiting for us. He is waiting for the church to do what it should have been doing all along.
Isaiah says that God will never leave us or forsake us. He has us engraved in the palm of His hand. Our challenges pale in comparison to what God can do. (I love that line. What are we going to believe in? God or our challenges? We give mere man and ourselves the benefit of the doubt, thinking the best about them. But do we do that with God? Do we really believe Him? I have heard His challenge in this. If we pray for something, we need to believe Him to answer beyond what we can believe for. If He answers differently, that's fine. But I want to believe for the best I know and if He answers differently, He knows a better best.)

Back to Pastor Frank...Anything God has ever done anytime, He can do now. Anywhere He has done anything, He can do that here. Anyone that God has done something for, He can do it for you and me. He is still the same God.
Heb.12:28-We are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable. Let us be thankful and please God and worship Him, for our God is a consuming fire.
Parenthesis mine.

After church, we went to La Parota with Philip, Michael, Susan, Chase, Eric, and April. Freeman was traveling to see a friend. We saw the Heltons, the Flowers, the Broadwaters and their extended family, Francesca and Fernando and their mom and her sisters, the Gibb's, the Mahan's,-all from church. It will be fun to eat together in Heaven and to have our bill paid in full. I wonder if we can eat food from all different countries...

We came home and rested and in the eve. Susan, Phil, and I went to Trinity Mennonite Church. It was soul satisfying to watch innocent faces wrapped in scarves and angel's wings, singing the songs of Christmas and acting out their significant parts. The youth entertained us with a humorous play about Herod and then we sang hymns together as a congregation. John and Jeanne came over and sat beside us for this part. Different people would call out a hymnbook color and number and Ray led us with his beautiful tenor voice. We joined the crowd downstairs for the wonderful food that is always available after the Hymn Sing. It was nice to see different families from other churches join Trinity for this experience. God seems to be re-uniting folks who used to worship together. He is bringing them back together to enjoy each other and His babe in the manger. The Prince of Peace at work in all places for such a time as this.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


For some reason, I always experience an anxiety at Christmas. This anxiety is wrapped around the false belief that the bottom of the tree should be piled high in gifts. I fear that my children will be disappointed because we aren't giving them enough. Their friends get all kinds of hand held games and the latest gadgets. I have no clue what these things are. Technology is increasing faster than I am.
We have always tried to focus on Jesus' birthday. We have given the children three gifts every year because Jesus got three gifts. These gifts are usually practical gifts, such as questionably- themed boxers and work gloves. Today, I was telling Philip, 20, that I feel like we don't have enough for them. I told him that I have one gift for him and some money. He said, "Mom, I don't really care. It's Jesus' birthday. I love Christmas."
I realized that my children had gotten it. I was still trying to get what I thought other's had with their extravagant Christmas's. But Philip taught me my lesson back. It is Jesus' birthday. And any gift we get on His birthday is extra. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Now that the false belief is no longer viable, the anxiety that comes with it is gone too.
I write this as I listen to "Away in a Manger" sung by an adult choir.
I write this as our Christmas tree lights are on and the white manger scene is illumininated with white lights under white angel hair. On the table, I have three plates on a golden tier piled high with homemade candy and cookies to take to a Christmas party we are going to soon.
And though the gifts seem small and insignificant under the tree, I am loving Christmas.
I really was almost there. But Philip's words have transported me into the beauty of Christmas without anxiety. And I can now enjoy that babe in the manger guilt-free.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gifts.
Phil, Freeman, Philip, Michael, Susan, Jesus, church, school, neighbors, friends, family, farm, life, health, joy, provision, wisdom, love, faith~so many unwrapped gifts to be enjoyed.
My gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Close Call

Today, in first grade music class, I had a close call.

 We were singing "Joy to the World" from a little book.

 The author had written many verses to that tune and it told the story of Christmas.

We sang/read the part where Mary had her baby.

Tyler piped up and asked," How did they get the baby out of her belly? They couldn't stitch her back up after they took the baby out of her belly." (Someone knows about C-sections).

Panic arose within me but I said calmly, " She must have had it another way."

Chris smiled knowingly, " She must have had it like a cow."

Rescued, once again, by the voice of knowledge...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Past 24 hours

Last night, Philip's friend, C.P. came over. I had made homemade pizza which was out of this world and I am not the only one who said that. Most of us snuggled down on some soft chairs and watched, "Prince Caspian," together. It was really nice.

This morning Gina and Ruth came over. Ruth did Phil's books while Gina helped me make Christmas candy and cookies. I have made a wonderful discovery. Most of you know about Ritz crackers with peanut butter and /or marshmellow filling dipped in chocolate and how wonderful good that is.(Pa. Dutch coming through.)

Well, I invented the following recipe, I think. Take a jar of marshmellow cream, add a handful of coconut and some coconut extract. Mix well. Put a dollop on a Ritz cracker and top with another cracker. Dip in dark chocolate. Put a toasted almond and some more coconut on top. Let harden if you can wait that long. Oh, my goodness. Freeman says that it is his new favorite cookie. It gets better with age. I know that for a fact, because I kept checking their flavor every hour or so.

I listened to Christmas music all day long. The Christmas lights were on and the candle was burning. I made bear meatloaf, broccoli-rice casserole, and salad for supper. It was a lovely day. Freeman is out with a friend and is heading to Chi Alpha. Philip and Michael are working on firewood. Susan is working on her bedroom. Phil is going to a board meeting and I am going to get ready for an early retirement to bed so I can get up early and have another lovely day tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Living and Pain

I have a book where I write down favorite quotes. I found this one today and it seems relevant to life right now. It is something I read that my sister-in-law, Janelle had written.

"The challenge is to hold the pain and keep on living...I used to think that the fruit or the pearls or the miracles came only on the other side of the pains and sufferings we face in life. When we get through the hard time we will see that "God really did work it out for good."...It is being able to sit and hold in one hand the fact that life sucks and hold in the other the fact that life is very good. Being fully present to the pain and the anger I experienced became a source of finding the goodness, the love, and the holiness of God in all things. It is being present to the fact that while not all things are of God, God can be found in all things."

Church Hospitality

Mother's Journal Entry~

"Numbers 10:29~Moses invited his brother-in-law, Hoab, to stay and to travel with them, pointing out how valuable he was to them and also showing Hoab that he would also share in all the blessings God was going to give them. And Hoab was persuaded to stay.

Is this a pattern we could use in inviting others to become part of our fellowship? "You are valuable to us and we need you." 'COME WITH US. WE WILL TREAT YOU WELL, FOR THE LORD PROMISED GREAT THINGS TO US. IF YOU COME WITH US, WE WILL SHARE WITH YOU WHATEVER GOOD THINGS THE LORD GIVES US.'"

Never thirst again

Mother's Diary-St. Frances De Sales quoting St. Catherine of Sumna:

"If you take a glass and fill it in a fountain and you drink from this glass without taking it out of the fountain, you may drink as much as you like, the glass will never become empty. But if you take it out of the fountain, when you have drunk, the glass will be empty."

Mother's comment: "What better description of Jesus' statement that we will never thirst again because there is a fountain springing up within us-a well of living water. Jeremiah 2:13b~'For they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water.'"

Spiritual Acrophobia

From Mother's Journal~Quote by W.B.J.Martin~

"Spiritual Acrophobia is a dread of being outstanding and conspicuously first-class; a fear of excellence."

Can anyone relate?


Beth Moore quote:

"Why does God allow us to spend so much time in the heat of battle?
Because He never meant for us to sip His Spirit like a proper cup of tea. He meant for us to hold our sweating heads over the fountain and lap up His life with unquenchable thirst."

Ps. 36:9a~"For with You is the fountain of life..."

Psalm of Comfort~13~Ps. 46:10

"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"

I will be exalted in your life.
I WILL BE exalted in your life.
I will be EXALTED in your life.
I will be exalted in YOUR life.
I will be exalted in your LIFE.
So many ways in which to hear it said.

A.B. Simpson says it this way:
"..But the greatest triumph of a person's faith is to
'Be still and know that He is God.'(Ps.46:10)"

He continues, "Whenever I have seen God's wondrous work in the case of some miraculous healing or some extraordinary deliverance by His providence, the thing that has always impressed me most was the absolute quietness in which it was done. I have also been impressed by the absence of anything sensational and dramatic, and the utter sense of my own uselessness as I stood in the presence of this mighty God, realizing how easy all this was for Him to do without even the faintest effort on His part, or the slightest help from me."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hertzler Doings~Dec.5-7

Freeman, Michael, and Susan have been involved with our church's Christmas Musical-"A Storybook Christmas." They had a performance Friday night, Sat. afternoon and Sat. eve. They will have the same schedule next weekend. They are all really enjoying it.

This morning, Michael and Susan went with Phil and I to Christ Church in Appomattox. It meets in our school building. It is an Anglican Church led by the principal of our school, Dr. Hubler. There were pretty greens with red berries strung up all around the sanctuary. Rich and Lynah sat behind us and helped guide us through the liturgical part of the service. It is a much more formal service than what we are used to in the Assembly of God church. Alot of scripture and prayers were read and I was deeply moved by them. Dr. Hubler prayed for our family outloud at one point and the kindness and the significance of the words he used, had me fighting tears for the rest of the service. I had to focus on David Edmonston's Santa Claus Playing Golf tie in order to get ahold of myself.

The whole church went up to the front of the chapel and shared communion together. Dr. H. put a wafer in each outstretched hand and said something like, "The body of our Lord broken for you," as he went around to each person. Everyone who had been baptized could share communion. The younger children, who had not yet been baptized, had a special prayer of blessing spoken over them and a cross was traced on their foreheads and a hand of blessing placed on their heads.
There is such beauty and strength in the reading and hearing of the Word of God. I do not take it for granted. It is always like fresh manna from Heaven, whether I hear it or read it in my own living room, or our church, or another church.
After church, we went to the Hublers for lunch. We ate Margaret's wonderful cauliflower-carrot-cheddar cheese dill soup. We had delicious sandwiches, chips and pickles. I brought cookies for dessert. The girls had shown me around the house. They live in what used to be a Civil War hospital. Time went too quickly and we had to rush back over to church.
At 2:00, we had our schools Christmas program, Lessons and Carols. Amidst the reading of the scriptures from Genesis to John, we had congregational songs and special music by the different grades. There was standing room only and the program lasted about an hour. Everything went smoothly for the most part. While Rindy was playing the second congregational song, someone came and asked me to turn the volume up on the piano. It was an electric piano. So I went up and turned up the volume and the piano went dead. We scrambled around until Allison, the piano's owner came in and turned off the piano and turned it back on again. That was the answer and I didn't mess with the volume after that.
I played Phil's guitar for three of the songs. Someone told me later that very few people can play the guitar like I did. He said that I actually accompanied the songs rather than drowning them out, etc. I told him that it was because I didn't know what I was doing, which was the truth. My fingertips are still numb.
My favorite songs were "The Christmas Lullabye" sung by K-4, "Silent Night" sung by Graham Loy while he played the guitar, and "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah" sung by 5th and 6th and the whole school.
After the program, the PTF had a nice feast. I got to hold a little baby girl. She was so peaceful. I have her two brothers in school. I would have had her third brother, but he died in an accidental tragedy less than 2 years ago, and I keenly felt the family's loss as I held this little girl. Bittersweet-that's what life is.
We came home and got comfortable. Phil has been playing the guitar and singing Christmas songs for the past hour. Susan has been playing the piano. She played for the prelude today and she was definitely cool under pressure. She did so well. Lindsay called and said that they were there for part of the program. It was so nice to hear that they were there.
I made some buttered popcorn and turned on the Christmas lights.
Tony, Ruth, and Gena came over to get hay. They brought Gena's boxer puppy along. We ate some supper together. I had leftover bear sloppy joe mix and turkey vegetable soup. Ruth and I talked while the other's watched "The Three Stooges." Susan and Michael went to bed at 7:oo.
What a nice day it's been.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


It's snowing! It's so beautiful. Each flake has kept its individual shape. I will enjoy it even more when Freeman, Michael, and Susan are safely back from The Christmas Musical they are participating in.
The snow reminds me of a poem my mother wrote years ago. It was on the cover of Purpose Magazine on Dec. 7, 1980, nearly 28 years ago. I remember when she wrote it. It's one of my favorites. Here goes.

Soft Snow Sifted Soundlessly
through Sodden Starless Skies
While Winter Winds Waited
till the Whiteness
was Wide and Deep,
Then Blew Boisterously
Billowing into Beauty
that Blotted out
old Ruts and Scars.

Baby Jee-sau

Please read Lindsay's Just Journalling essay-"Baby Jee-sau."
I am still wiping my tears.

Christmas Story

This morning, I was thinking about baby Jesus and started thinking up this story....

" I came in the stable door, just as the shepherds were leaving. Each one seemed to be carrying a bundle, hidden under their cloaks. Their faces, worn and wrinkled, were aglow with wonder and hope.

Joseph walked out with the shepherds, so I was alone with Mary and the baby in her arms. She looked so young and so wise. "Can I hold Him," I asked, breathlessly.

"Would you, please?" she asked. " I need to go freshen up."
I was glad she trusted me. We had never met before.

Soon, I was alone in the stable.
I held Him.
I smelled His baby head. He smelled like straw and cattle feed and earth.
He smelled like angel's breath and mother's milk.

I kissed his eyelids and He opened them.
"He recognizes me," I thought with wonder. "He knows me."
My heart felt black with sin when I saw His loving gaze.
"What hope have I if I can't have you with me, " I despaired.
"I cannot give you up. I have to have you. You are coming home with me."

I wrapped Him up and hid Him under my cloak, just as I saw Mary coming through the door. "Good-bye, Mary," I said guiltily. "I need to go now."

"Good-bye. Thanks for coming. Thanks for giving me a little break," she said, as she leaned over and picked Baby Jesus up from the manger. "Time to eat," she crooned to Him.

And then, I understood.

I understood that there was enough of Him to go around.

I could carry Him with me all my days.

The shepherds could carry Him with them all of their days.

He would be who we were meant to be.
He would be our goodness and mercy.
He would be our Savior and Messiah.
He would be our food and our water.

He would be our deliverance from evil within and without.
He would be our comfort and joy.
He would be our God.

And so I carry Him.
I feed Him with His Father's milk and meat and bread.
 I feed Him with the songs and fellowship of others who carry Him as well. And I carry Him to those who do not yet know that they can hold Him too.

Oh, Precious Baby.
Oh, Precious Son of God.