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When Unimaginable Things Happen

Another Way for week of March 11, 2022

When Unimaginable Things Happen

I wanted to write about Ukraine and the deep sorrow I feel for everything that so many folks are going through in this terrible time: innocent children, worried wives, the elderly, and the poor guys left behind to fight. It truly seems unbelievable. But what can I write or say?

My friend, who I first met 52 years ago, was resting at the side of the pool at the wellness center where we both go and are thankful for the availability of water “therapy.” She had her eyes closed. I know that’s a sign not to strike up a conversation. Most of us—if we don’t feel like talking—use the closed eyes to signal: I’m resting, meditating, not in the mood to talk, just being quiet.

When she finally opened her eyes and saw me nearby, she smiled and said she was just trying to “be.” To breathe deeply, let the mind go blank, to rest in the presence of God. I don’t recall her words exactly, I wasn’t taking notes, but I deeply appreciated her sharing her thoughts and moments with me.

We met when we were both entering a Mennonite voluntary service program over 50 years ago, something my father had encouraged us to do. We were roommates during our orientation and even though we have not been close in recent years, her spirit spoke to me that morning as we both were mourning inwardly over the horrible war proceeding in Ukraine.

“I’m leaving it in God’s hands; God is God,” she noted.

As I was contemplating her example and wisdom, the next day the same kinds of truths spoke to me again in a devotional book I use, this one reflecting on Psalm 91 and “the reality that all people die … God is our protector, yet even true followers suffer. Why can’t we quite make this fit? Because we are not God. We do not hold all the pieces of the puzzle” (Rejoice!, March 4, 2022, p. 10, by Barbara Krehbiel Gehring).

I have not been one to say or think that God has a purpose in things like war or the untimely death of a loved one. But when as humans we have no way to change or correct things that are out of our hands, I must ultimately trust in someone bigger than worldly powers.

 One of my favorite Psalms, especially in times like these, is the promise and truth of Psalm 62:

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. God alone is my rock and my salvation; my fortress, and I will not be shaken. … Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to God, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62: 5-6; 8).

No, these are not from Ukraine but are handmade Romanian dolls which are similar, in old-timey garb. Romania shares a large northern border with Ukraine (see map below). A long time friend and colleague of mine is currently working in Romania.

So what can we do? We can pray, pray as often as the news bombarding us comes to mind. We may not see answers immediately or at all, but prayer can be a comfort. We can know that God is as grieved as we are when world troubles threaten, or a loved one dies of cancer way to soon.

Reach out in whatever ways feel good to you to help. Send money? Make sure you send to or through an organization that you can trust. Clothing may be needed but often, far too much clothing is sent. Locally, donated food or water can offer sustenance and hope after disasters or in hard times.

What else? Work to be at peace with your own family and friends. Too often we also suffer from discord, arguments, and pettiness. Evil thoughts, comments, and arguments usually don’t do any good, and cause a great deal of grief.

Instead, we should do all we can to lovingly foster understanding, forgiveness, and community. As Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Europe Map, Political, Peel & Stick Removable Wall Decal

wall decals on Houzz

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Your thoughts? Write your prayers here?

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How do you meditate, if you do? Share tips?

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Two Years of a Pandemic

Another Way for week of March 4, 2022

Two Years of a Pandemic

Who of us thought it could truly, really happen? A worldwide pandemic. The stuff of novels, movies, the rumbling of obscure scientists?

What were you doing two years ago in early March? When did you catch a drift that the world was changing? When did you come to grips with our new reality as world citizens?

For my husband and I, the bottom really dropped out (we thought), when, after diligently doing pre-op therapy for my husband’s knee surgery on March 10, 2020, our chosen rehab facility suddenly announced it was closing. Shuttered. No one admitted. How could they just do that?

Do you remember how empty the grocery store shelves were? The wiped-out aisles of toilet paper (pun intended)? The scarce ground beef? No flour or yeast in the baking aisle? Tears came, unbidden, to my eyes. How weird it felt to walk into the grocery store with a mask on! What would people think? The little girl—who had not yet learned about social distancing—standing way too close to me in the check out line. The other children I saw (few and far between) who looked so proud and grown up to be wearing masks too.

I remember the elation and happiness and “the world coming together beautifully” feelings upon getting my first vaccine shot and finding that many others of all nationalities and faiths had driven, like we had, miles to find a drugstore that had available appointments for the shots.

One of my grandsons (age 3) is still waiting to for his vaccination which is stressful. People are not wearing masks to run into Walmart, we may not be washing our hands for 20 seconds every time, we may not be cleaning off the light switches every week or disinfecting the gas pump nozzle.

Most of us know dozens—(hundreds?) of folks who’ve had Covid and probably at least a half dozen who’ve died of it. The hub and I struggled through ten days each of isolation after our own positive tests: hub with the real deal, and mine asymptomatic.

What have we learned from this historical—and hysterical time?

God is near. Although I must say that after two years without attending church very often in person (we are able to watch online every week at home), I can see how easy it is to get out of the habit.

We have learned that people can be kinder, more generous, giving, sacrificing their own lives and comfort than we could ever imagine. Thank you, healthcare people!

We found another rehab place, which was even better suited to our needs.

We discovered we can eat outside on chilly fall days with family, get married outside in the middle of January, enjoy conversations outside. In our mild climate zone we did just fine. And if we wear masks, they even keep us warmer, right?

I don’t know how many times I’ve pondered the death of my oldest aunt Mabel who died in the pandemic of 1918-19. (She went to a funeral for a friend one weekend, and the next weekend her family had to have a funeral for Mabel.) Since I never met this aunt, I feel like I know her now—or at least better understand those dreadful times.

We have lost too many people—friends, relatives, church members, family, former co-workers. Some from covid, many from other illnesses and old age (my mother being one). It has been a sad time but we rejoice that in spite of everything, they are truly in a much better place. With the invasion of Ukraine, I have been so glad my mother has not had to worry about what could be ahead—living through World War II was difficult enough.

I’ll end this with the reminder again that God is near, caring for us—and all the refugees—just  as he cares for the birds of the field, according to scripture. And may we continue to care for each other and hang on to the good we find.

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I’d welcome your thoughts and pandemic stories, early memories or reactions.

Have you lost family members or friends to covid?

What have you learned or gained during this time of more isolation and staying at home?

How are things going in your area of the world?

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

What to Do With That Old Stamp Collection

Another Way for week of February 25, 2022

What to Do with that Old Stamp Collection?

The other week I was shocked to suddenly find my old stamp collection. I wasn’t even especially looking for it. I was just going through an old cabinet in the basement. There it was. Stamps from earlier days on my job where I had to handle much of the company mail, including many letters from countries all over the world. I was excited. What were they worth?

Then I remembered a cousin who paid for much of his college education when he sold some of his stamp collections. That was like 45-50 years ago. Some of my stamps were that old and older. So I posted some of the stamps on Facebook Marketplace, just testing the waters.

I soon learned they were worth zilch. Nada. Not even a nibble. Basically, unless you have an unusual stamp that was printed upside down (or other oddity), they don’t bring much money. People only wanted the mistakes, the misprints.

Whatever happened to stamp collecting? Countries put out great art and photos on stamps honoring their presidents, actors, kings and queens, holidays, sports figures, you name it. You can learn geography, history, literature, musical greats from studying stamps. I reviewed some of my geography history looking at stamps from countries which changed names.

But stamps, like many antiques, are no longer are worth much of anything.

Sometimes wounded veterans feel they are not worth much of anything either. That’s why I was glad to discover an organization introduced at our Lions Club meeting recently. We were told that “Stamps for the Wounded” is eager to get stamps for wounded or disabled veterans who enjoy either collecting the stamps, or making art out of them, or trading them.

The organization reminds us that when you have wounds that no longer allow you to get around, especially as you reach your upper years, you might be eager to try this longtime hobby, just for the fun of it and not because of monetary value.

I’m retired and while it’s nice to not have to go to work, I enjoy being busy on various projects. The organization’s website says “those who endure enforced idleness with the often-accompanying boredom, loneliness, frustration and despair” may welcome sorting and steaming off stamps from envelopes.

If you decide to cut out stamps to send to the organization (who give them to wounded veterans), leave about ¼ inch of the envelop around the stamp. Don’t try to remove the stamp from the envelope. Stamp collectors use steam but that’s part of the challenge or activity for the veterans who receive the stamps.

The organization says that “stamps can almost perform miracles for bedridden patients, long-term treatment persons, and those just convalescing from surgery. Th­ey can sort and mount stamps while in bed. If ambulatory, or even in a wheelchair, they can pass interesting hours soaking stamps and mounting them in albums.” Some use them to make greeting cards, or cover decorative boxes.

If you are able bodied and have the time, I also encourage you to look into other civic clubs or organizations, charities, and churches who could use volunteer help. The bonus can be not only helping other people, but relieving your own boredom or loneliness!

I was happy to declutter part of my cabinet by boxing up the stamps I found and sending them off to the address below! Having a wounded veteran in my husband’s family has helped make me aware of the long-term suffering and damage so many have experienced—often for the rest of their lives.

Stamps and other materials may be sent either to Stamps for the Wounded, Lions Club, Box 1125, Falls Church, Va., 22041 or inquire about the organization via email at jmhstamp@verizon.net

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Have you or any of your siblings or children spent time collecting stamps? I would love to hear from anyone who has been able to sell or trade stamps either years ago, or more recently!

Comment here or you can also send comments to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

An Unusual Love Story

Another Way for week of February 18, 2022

An Unusual Love Story

How did the way your parents live influence you own path? What stories come to mind? Did they have a positive or negative impact?

Last week I shared the story of where my mother got my name—and the unusual spelling she used. Wouldn’t having a name like Mary been much easier? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have this inspiring story behind it.

The book where mother got my name.

Mom read a story Unspoken Love in a weekly magazine for youth back in the 1940s, Youth’s Christian Companion. It is actually the true story of a family whose son went off to fight in World War II kind of on a whim. Millard, the oldest son, had a difficult relationship with his father, and after yet another misfire of communication, ended up signing up for military service one day in a nearby town when an officer enticed him with all the advantages for Millard at age 18. He would be paid much more than what he earned by “working out” as was common in the ‘40s—young boys and girls hired out to neighboring farms or homes and receiving room and board free as part of their wages. They usually had to turn in part or all of their pay to their parents. In this case Millard at first was making $2.50 a week, which he turned in to his father. He, like many others, quit school after eighth grade.

Milliard truly felt unwanted by his father at his home for reasons which become obvious late in the novel. Christmas Carol Kauffman, an avid novelist of the time (and one of the few Mennonite female writers then) was told this story and given letters young Milliard had written home as he served in Europe, Africa, and Italy. She had also lived through the war and knew some of the history, but did additional research for the novel. Young Millard never had a girlfriend like most of his cohorts in the army, although he was infatuated with a young woman at home, Melodie Ann. She, too, admired him from afar, but knew that Millard had never become a Christian. Eventually he became a genuine Christian (and not just the foxhole kind) and was hoping to get home to begin a relationship with Melodie.

I won’t go into more detail here to spoil it for other readers, but I wish I had read this book before my own mother died last fall. I had a copy, but just never felt like digging into a World War II era book. Mom had often told me about the story appearing in a magazine from her church, and wished I could read it because it was where she got my name, Melodie Ann. She read it in serial form and didn’t know that years later the book was published in hardback. Several years ago I found a hardback version and bought one, but never got around to reading it. The ways that Millard’s family relationships changed, after his father finally decided to become an active Christian, are inspiring.

My mother and father also lived through WW II. As a conscientious objector, Dad worked in forestry, conservation projects, and in a mental hospital. He often told us stories from the mental hospital and emphasized that he would have volunteered to serve as a non-combatant in the army if he had been allowed to help both sides. Like thousands of other couples, they got married at the end of the war.

In the book, Melodie Ann Brooks was a girl with a sweet disposition, honest, helpful and beautiful. I cannot claim all of those attributes, especially the last one, although my husband claims it. But now I know that the ways my parents raised me—apart from my name—were life-forming. They guided me into a strong faith. They lived their love by example. I only hope a little of that rubbed off on me—and onto our own children.

Daddy reading the Bible in the small cabin he built for us near our pond. Ok, this is a posed photo for our Christmas card one year, but it was lived out every morning as our mother and father took turns reading scripture and a short devotional before we went to school. L to right: Linda, Terry, Dad, Nancy, yours truly, Mom.

May it be so in our families and communities.

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P.S. I wrote this of course before the war in Ukraine broke out. I’m sad–my heart breaks–for all those suffering and stressed and shivering in fear and cold. The scenes on our screens are disturbing. I stay in prayer for a quick end and relative peace to return. The war depicted in Christmas Carol Kauffman’s book brought the terror and the suffering closer for me.

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What are your thoughts? What do you remember from parents or grandparents speaking of World War II and U.S. involvement? Share prayers and hopes here if you wish.

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You can find Kauffman’s book Unspoken Love at Amazon and other used booksellers online. Send comments or your stories to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Messing with Memoir: When the Goal is in Sight!

Memoir Writing

When the Goal is in Sight!

I’ve been buried in photos, but here’s a quick update. We are on target to publish Memoir of an Unimagined Career: The Inside Story of 43 years at Mennonite Media sometime this summer. Masthoff Press have agreed to publish it and I’m excited for their reach and contacts. Elizabeth Petersheim there has been beautiful and agreeable to work with and she handles many aspects of a book moving through their system.

I have never included photos in one of my books before. But for this project, I have felt it essential to use photos (about 25 or so) in order to help readers visualize the scope and mission and people involved in a ministry that reached around the world. Not to mention the passage of time during a huge chunk of my life so far.

So, choosing and organizing and writing captions—and keeping them in the right order for the right pages—has caused me a headache or two, but I’m getting there.

And that’s why I’m writing today: whatever your goals, whatever your project, just keep plugging away (at least if it is doable) and you’ll get there. Don’t feel like you have to set aside a week or a month to arrive at a goal—ten minutes here and there are catchable if we grab them. When setbacks sneak into your schedule, swallow, take care of the project or people who need your attention, and then go back to the goal when you can. That’s easy for a retiree to say and much harder for a young or middle aged parent or hard working and paid employee to do.

Here’s a photo that may pique your interest, I hope! And keep you hoping and hopping to complete whatever you’re working on along these lines!

The building where I lived nearly 43 years of my life. Well, we did downsize our operations and move to a smaller suite downtown for the last two years. But I slept here (never overnight), showered here when our electricity went off at home (it used to house 4 apartments upstairs), cooked here, cleaned here and occasionally, knocked something out of the park here! And I can’t wait to share the stories in my forthcoming memoir.

What’s In a Name

Another Way for week of February 11, 2022

What’s In a Name?

Do you know why you were given the name you were given? If you still have the name your parents gave you, is it one you like, love, or just tolerate?

I’ve often been complimented on my name, which of course I had absolutely no part in choosing. But I do feel it was a special name and now that I know more about how my mother landed on my name as Melodie Ann Miller (spelled like that), I’m feeling very happy. It’s kind of a long story, one I only recently got more background on.

Christmas Carol Kauffman

My name can be credited as coming from a well-known Mennonite writer at the time with a much more unusual name than mine, Christmas Carol Kauffman. Her name was so unusual in fact that as a young girl, she pitched a small fit to her mother before she started school, wondering why they had to name her “Christmas” for crying out loud. (“And wasn’t it bad enough that I didn’t have a special day for my birthday?” she complained.) She was worried she would be made fun of at school when she told the teacher her name. She was born on Christmas in 1901, a few weeks early, and that’s why her parents went for what to them was an obvious winner-of-a-name. It became her signature name on all her books—nine novels altogether— although she went by her middle name, Carol.

What delighted me most in reading the book her youngest daughter, Marcia Kauffman Clark, ended up writing about her mother’s life, The Carol of Christmas: Life Story of Christmas Carol Kauffman. Carol got her start in being published in a way similar to mine. While attending small Hesston College (Kansas), a professor sent one of her fiction stories to a Mennonite publication at the time, Youth’s Christian Companion. The editor and readers loved it and over the years she wrote more than 100 short stories published in that small magazine (which teens sometimes read sneakily in church, ahem!). She also wrote longer fiction that was published in serial form in that magazine.

The biography Marcia Clark wrote about her mother.

I got my start being published when a junior high teacher of mine sent an essay I wrote to the local newspaper—where it was published. The encouragement of teachers is often such a pivotal, important factor.

I love this history. My mother had always told me she got the slightly unusual spelling for my name (Melodie instead of the more common Melody) in the book, Unspoken Love where there was a very sweet girl/woman character named Melodie Ann. What I didn’t know was that this book was not published in hardback form until after Christmas Carol’s death at the age of 67. I had not realized, either, that Carol was close in age to my own grandmother Ruth Stauffer, who was born in 1896, just six years after Carol. (Ruth lived to be 95 and died in 1991.) So as I was reading the biography by Marcia, and it stated that Unspoken Love was not published until 1971, I thought hum, that doesn’t add up. I was born twenty years earlier in 1951. So my mother, who is also now deceased, had read the story in its serial form published in Youth’s Christian Companion.

This probably doesn’t matter to anyone else but me but I was fascinated by the history. It also makes me wonder if somehow hearing about this writer might have influenced me to try my hand at writing. Carol Kauffman, I am finding out, was an excellent fiction writer. I on the other hand have yet to seriously try writing fiction.

What I hope this inspires this Valentine’s Day week is encouragement to find out where your name came from—and how it influenced you, if at all. If you were named after a grandmother, father, or other kin, is the connection for you good and positive and life-forming?

Next week I’ll write more about the story found in Ms. Kauffman’s Unspoken Love, and the character that Mom loved and named me after.

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Do you know why you were named the way you were?

Did your children receive special names? Were there names you wanted to use, but didn’t or couldn’t for whatever reason?

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Also, please let me know if you have read any of Christmas Carol Kauffman’s books or stories!

Send comments or the story of your name to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Afternoon Delight: Let’s Hear it for Naps

Another Way for week of February 4, 2022

Afternoon Delight: Let’s Hear it for Naps

Oh what a pleasure is the afternoon nap. I think it may be the best part of retirement. Not that I take one every day, but at least four to five days out of seven I succumb to stealing away for the sweet guilty pleasure of sleeping sometime in the middle of the day.

Naptime–a few years ago. We now have a different dog, cat, and an older me.

If you promise not to tell anyone, I even stole some “power” naps when I worked pretty much fulltime at the office. Not when I first started, mind you, because a private office with a lockable door was necessary for the afternoon nap (which I didn’t have at first).

But when I got a private office, I learned that 10-20 minutes spent on the floor of my office would revive me for more focused work and brain power the rest of the day. Sleeping on the floor at the office also guaranteed that I would not oversleep there. Sometimes I just put my head down on my desk for a quick pick-me-up. Honestly, what good is a worker who is not alert and maybe nodding with a drooping head? Therefore: the afternoon nap.

Naps began in earnest when I got pregnant. I didn’t nap at the office (kind of uncomfortable being pregnant and on the floor!), but I would often grab a nap the first thing when I got home. I knew it was beneficial for the little one growing inside. I felt much renewed to take a short rest before jumping into an evening of chores and cooking.

I loved naptime for my children as well, a tradition we kept going pretty much as long as we could. Once they were sleeping through the night, their naps were also for me to be able to get things done—to have a little “me time.”

This guy. Grandson.

My husband was never able to take a nap at the facilities (mostly factories or warehouses) he worked in. He usually grabbed his naps soon after he got home, or sometime in the late afternoon/evening.  

I do find that I don’t want to oversleep the nap. If I succumb to a full hour or more (which I have done), I awaken groggy and even headachy and it takes me awhile to get going again. I just googled that: 20 minutes is suggested as a good duration for a nap—and most of mine are in that neighborhood. Try setting your alarm for 20 minutes if you typically oversleep the amount of time you’d like to nap.

The National Sleep Foundation says that “Power naps taken in the early afternoon usually last 15 to 20 minutes and can restore and refresh you when experiencing a natural decline in energy and wakefulness. NASA tested the effects of power napping on astronauts and found it had an effective boost to performance and alertness.”

For me, it is also helpful if I just rest without sleeping. Sometimes I am too keyed up or expecting a phone call or need to get a project finished or started—and my brain won’t let me sleep. So then I get up after 10 minutes or so, and usually feel quite refreshed and ready to go again.

Cousin camp tires this fella out.

I’m told also that napping can be good for heart health—again, if you don’t overdo it. If you feel draggy and just can’t keep going, then too much napping can be a sign of not getting enough sleep at night, or other health issues. We all sleep more when we have a day of flu or now, come down with covid, so napping doesn’t always mean good health.

Cats and dogs certainly know the blessing of napping throughout the day. In the Bible we read that Jesus took naps. Today we call this “self-care.”

Oh, I feel a yawn coming on. Maybe I’ll sneak off for that nap right now. It will feel so wonderful…

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Do you like naps? Or do they make you too groggy for the rest of the day?

Or perhaps you nap sitting up like my hubby?

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When I lived in Spain as a college student, the afternoon siesta was absolutely accepted–no classes at the university from about 1-4 p.m., shops closed down, even eating places closed down. How wonderful and sensible! Of course, folks stayed up much later, with the evening meal often coming about 9 p.m.

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

The Amazing Daniel Bowman

Another Way for week of January 28, 2022

The Amazing Daniel Bowman

My friend Dan Bowman, blind since the age of 13, has never left that stop him. Now 80 years old, on a snowy afternoon I emailed him about his recent book and asked about how he and wife were doing.

“I shoveled a little snow this morning and ‘a little’ is quite enough,” he emailed back.

Shoveling snow is bad enough when you’re older and perpetually worried about falling. But getting out in it and doing actual shoveling when you’re blind is astonishing. That could describe Dan’s life in a nutshell: surprising at every turn. Now he’s written a book that is incredibly helpful for those of us who are “sight dependent,” (a term he uses teasingly): From Sight to Insight:A Mennonite Farm Boy’s Adventures Through Blindness to Living and Seeing Without Vision (Masthof Press, 2021).

Dan Bowman’s memoir

I first learned about Dan where I worked. So when we bought a used piano, I called and asked him to tune it. I was impressed by his record-keeping on a Brailler—a machine that punches Braille dots into paper to use as he contacted piano clients. An adept businessman, he would line up three or four appointments a day and tell clients that he could knock a few dollars off the fee if we provided transportation to his next gig. It saved him calling a taxi. He did not want to depend on his wife to drive him, especially in the early years caring for their three daughters.

I enjoyed driving him—not just to save a few dollars but because he is a fascinating conversationalist, bringing up his own questions as well as responding to my thoughts on everything from world events, to faith, to the next election, to my family. His first question in our house was usually, “Ok, which way to the bathroom?” He patiently taught his clients how to lead him: “Let me take hold of your elbow so you can safely lead rather than being led by a blind person!”

One day tuning our piano, I moved our daughter’s telescope out of his way. He expressed amazement that a sixth-grader was exploring the night sky, and wishing he could do that. Every time I’d see him or he would come tune our piano, he would ask whether we still had that telescope.

For the early years of his life, he was able to see—poor eyesight which gradually was lost, but could still see some things with his remaining side vision. He used those early years to the fullest, observing and helping his father and mother and siblings on the farm with whatever he could do. He managed driving the tractor in fields of corn rows, because the rows helped him guide the tractor straight.

Dan watched his father repair equipment or do woodworking, helping as he could. After he and his wife owned their own home, he built a woodshed. In his mind’s eye, because of his first 13 years, he could visualize the bigger picture of what he was doing, a gift for which he is forever grateful. But, “I’ve never seen my wife’s face or my girls’ faces” he told a local reporter interviewing him about his book.

He went to the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind from middle school on up. I found it amusing how his friends, some of whom still had some sight, would be peppered with questions from those completely blind, about which girls at the school were the best looking—just like teenagers do everywhere.

In addition to tuning and repairing pianos, Dan can play like a dream on organ or piano—which was always my favorite part of his tunings. He’d fill our house with a rhapsody of sound. He also marvels at technology which has made it much easier for him to access the world online. He ends his book with lots of solid insights and tips for seeing persons in understanding the world of those without the gift of sight.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this fascinating book from a library, bookstore, or numerous booksellers online.

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Do you know someone like Dan? What have you learned from your friend? I’d love to hear stories, insights, precious memories, challenges!

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Check these links for more pictures/stories and a documentary about Dan.

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My husband and I enjoy participating in a local Lions Club, which has as one of it’s missions working on sight and sound needs (among others). See Lions Clubs International which has clubs all over the world.

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Guns Into Plows

Another Way for week of January 21, 2021

Guns Into Plows

Recently I took time to examine a sculpture speaking to the tragic gun deaths we hear of all too often. It has a fascinating backstory. The sculpture is stunning no matter where you examine it—whether on the streets of Washington, D.C. —where many of the guns were once in the hands of both good citizens and would-be killers, or at its current home at Eastern Mennonite University.

Created by artist Esther Augsburger and her son Mike, both were college classmates of mine in the 70s. Mike’s father and Esther’s husband, Myron, was the college president at Eastern Mennonite College when we were in school, and Esther was completing her art major.

Then in the 1990s, Mike was watching a TV news report on boxing champ Riddick Bowe, who proposed that he would fund a gun buyback program in Washington, D.C. Persons turning in guns received $100 per firearm, no questions asked. Mike told his mom: “Why not turn those guns into a huge sculpture to serve as a reminder of Isaiah’s prophecy?” Isaiah 2:4 poetically proposes: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Esther contacted D.C. police and persuaded them to donate the weapons—safely disabled— to her for a sculpture that would serve as a statement on the streets of our capital city. She and Michael spent months welding the guns onto a massive metal sculpture shaped like the blade of a plow. It was moved to Washington D.C. in 1997.

The refurbished sculpture as it currently stands next door to the campus of Eastern Mennonite University.

For a four-ton piece of artwork (19 by 16 feet), it has been moved around more times than you’d think. The sculpture was first placed in front of Police Headquarters in downtown D.C. near Judiciary Square and the Capitol. Then sometime before 2008, it was surreptitiously moved to a vacant lot without even telling the artists about the move. (All parties had agreed that Esther would be notified if there was a need to move it.) So it sat rusting for a while in a vacant lot near a sewage treatment center. In 2011, there were plans to place the sculpture in front of a new state-of-the-art evidence control facility for the city’s police department. According to the project superintendent, the police had come to truly appreciate the sculpture and felt like it helped “the public see a message coming from us.”

The official name of the sculpture is Guns into Plowshares

Esther and sponsors decided to at least move it back to the city of Harrisonburg, Va., to refurbish it (where it was originally made) near the grounds of Eastern Mennonite University. Donors and interested parties helped with that endeavor. It was reinstalled next door to the university in 2017 and remains there at present for all who pass by or stop in. Esther is now 91 and she and Myron are still very active. Sadly, their son Mike died of cancer in 2017 at the age of 63.

This is not a political column or meant to criticize gun owners. I look at it as a religious statement and goal given to us in the Bible as quoted above: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Perhaps not in our lifetime but a promise for the life to come. Jesus told Peter to put down his sword (both in the Matthew and John Gospels): “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting,” the Contemporary English Version puts it in Matthew 26:52. One friend, Daryl Byler, formerly director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at EMU, said Esther and her son Mike “dared to imagine a day when, rather than destroying enemies with guns and weapons of war, humans would find the God-given strength and courage to feed their enemies with the produce tilled and grown in our fields.”

Join many others praying that peace may hold in Russia and the Ukraine

as well as in our cities in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Comment here, or send your thoughts or stories to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Scrapping for Position and Other True Kid Stories

Another Way for week of January 14, 2021

Scrapping for Position and Other True Kid Stories

It’s not every day that your three-year-old grandson writes your column for you.

First of all, I identify with him as the third child in my family—of the same gender: I was the third girl. He was the third boy in his family. We also had three daughters, so our youngest daughter also knows a little about disappointing parents just a smidge by not coming through as a child of a differing gender.

We loved our family of three little ones but a parent has only two sides to their body. Someone is left out in that savored seat next to a parent, especially after they are all a bit too big to be lap-sitters.

The other evening my daughter’s youngest boy, Edward, was edging for his share of the space and declared to an older brother, “Henry! Give me persomal [sic] space!” (That’s the way this three-year-old pronounced “personal.” They’ve been talking about it in his preschool.)

His momma said, “He was pushing his way onto my lap. It was ‘vintage Doreen’ scrapping for position.” Doreen is our third daughter.

Actually, I don’t remember feeling or wishing I could be the oldest. There’s a lot of pressure on the oldest to do well, to excel, to pave the way.

Two years ago I put together a booklet of stories just for my grandsons, reminding them that once upon a time their mommies were little too.

And sometimes, wonderful things happen. Like the time our oldest, Michelle was supposed to go to a fancy banquet with mommy. She was excited to be so grown up! We stayed in a hotel in a city two hours away, with a bunch of other women. When Michelle was getting dressed for the banquet, she discovered I’d mistakenly packed an outgrown pair of dress shoes she had recently handed down to her sister.

Michelle bravely tried to pinch her feet into the “Sunday shoes.” I told her she’d just have to wear them anyway. She pushed the shoes on and limped to the bathroom. They really hurt. She looked sad. I felt like Michelle was one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, and I was the evil step-mother. “Oh well,” I finally said. “Just wear your old tennis shoes.” We had a marvelous time at the grown-up party and when I apologized to our tablemates, one woman said “I’m sure her feet are more comfortable than mine!”

One year, our church decided to send children to summer camp. Our middle daughter Tanya’s turn came first—she was only seven years old. An overnight camp all by herself! We were a little worried but tried not to show it. Would Tanya be ok? Would she cry?

Then Tanya told us she didn’t want to go after all. I said something like, “That’s natural. Everyone is afraid of doing something the first time.” But I worried. Would she make friends?

Then I reminded her, “When you come home, you’ll be the first in our family to go to camp and tell your older sister all about it!”

Tanya made new friends and for once she got to do something before her big sister.

Finally, a story about our youngest. Her big sisters already went to real school in second grade and kindergarten. Sometimes it wasn’t fun to be the last born in the family, but she really dreaded being the last one picked up at nursery school. One day she reminded me, “Remember, I don’t want to be picked up last today!”

That day at work I was very very busy. Suddenly I looked at the clock. Ten minutes ‘til 12.

Would I make it? I drove as fast as I could (under speed limit) and got there with three minutes to spare. There in the back of the room were a couple children still putting on coats and hats. Doreen was by herself, looking very lonely. Then Doreen’s face lit up when she saw me. Oh was she ever happy.

As we make space for others in our lives, remember everyone wants to feel special, wanted, loved.


Have you felt squeezed out by others? At home, school, church, community?

Or,

I’d love to hear your kid stories!

Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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