Prairie View

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Public Service Announcement

This post is a public service announcement of sorts.  I found the material in a link on Facebook, and I can't vouch for the authoritativeness of the source at all.  I do know, however, that it meshes very well with what I know from a great deal of reading on the subject of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and my own experience with it.  I am self-diagnosed.

Not everything in this article is true of me--particularly the references to physical sensitivity, high energy, and fidgety behavior.  I personally lean to the catatonic side.

Also, I understand that, contrary to what this article suggests, people with ADD are found all across the intelligence spectrum.  We are not all very intelligent.  When a highly intelligent person has ADD, it's often hard for others to believe that the glaring weaknesses that are present are not truly the result of a huge character deficiency, but the result of a true disability.  If performance in some areas is stellar, it's hard to believe that there's any legitimate reason for poor performance in some other areas.

This article of which I have been writing is for those who love someone with ADD.  Read it,  and, almost certainly, you will find in it things you already know if you do love someone with ADD.   If you don't love any such person yet, I can almost guarantee you'll have an opportunity to do so at some point in life.   You can't avoid such people.  There are too many around to do so.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ignominious Entrance

Last night when I got home around 8:30 from having spent four hours in parent-teacher's conferences, I had a terrible time getting into the house.

In the car, I acted imprudently, as most males do in this regard, and grabbed the four pieces of school "luggage" that needed to go to the house with me:  my lunchbox (small ice chest type), my laptop, my notebook carrying case, and my purse--two handles in each hand.  At the front door, I reached up with one of my well-filled hands to turn the doorknob.  That triggered an unfortunate cascade of events.

The handle came unseated from its moorings on the top of the lunchbox.  As the box plummeted to the concrete of the front porch, the lid snapped out from its molded plastic hinges.  The lid and a container of wonderful bean soup that I was saving for my supper disappeared under the overgrown yew right next to the porch.  The other contents of the lunch box  were scattered on the porch floor.

I carried the detached lunchbox handle inside, along with the three remaining items in my hands.  After I had found a parking space for them and complained loudly to Hiromi, I went back outside to gather up the debris and to see if I could recover what was hiding under the yew.  I couldn't even see the missing items.   Back inside for a flashlight.

Now I could see the lid, but I couldn't reach it.  Back inside for the grilling tongs.  Even so it was an awkward stretch--down, over, and down again over the edge of the porch, with the yew branches poking uncomfortably into my face.  There.  The lunchbox lid was pinched and retrieved.

I still couldn't see the plastic-lidded glass bowl with the bean soup, but decided it must be in the one spot I couldn't see.  I "swept" the spot with my long tongs and brought the bowl back within visual range.  Another long reach and I had my soup in hand.  Finally.

Hiromi had just arrived home too, and was puttering around in the kitchen, preparing domburi.  "Did you eat?" he asked.

"No."

"Do you want some of this?"

"Sure.  I'll put this bean soup in the fridge for tomorrow evening."

When we were ready to sit down to our simple little feast, the phone rang.  Dorcas had an emergency that she could not take care of, with Shane gone to a Choice Books meeting (in Virginia?).  I told her we'd be over as soon as we had eaten.

About a quarter of a mile from home, as we were headed over there, Hiromi calmly noted that we were out of gas.  The needle indeed was exactly on empty.  Our only cell phone was at home in my purse.  We hoped we could make it to Partridge.  We did, and Hiromi filled the tank when we got there.  I was ever-so-glad I hadn't run out of gas on the way home from school, in the chilly, windy dark.

On to Shane's place.  On the way I told Hiromi about the coyote I had seen near David & Susanna's place, and we talked about being close to the time when hitting deer is a hazard of nighttime driving.                  
All was serene inside the house when we got there.  Tristan was lying sleepily on the recliner, Carson was in bed, and Dorcas was ready to show us what needed to be done.  Hiromi did it. Tristan was communicative enough to show us three fingers (carefully raising them one at a time) to tell us how old he is now.  I didn't kiss him goodnight since I thought the garlic breath from the kimchee Hiromi had served with his domburi would probably cancel out any intended goodwill.

Hiromi and I headed home companionably and got inside the house without incident this time.  Finally.

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Today the newspaper carried the obituary of my high school typing and P. E. teacher, Merle Harris.  Not everyone gets a 6 ft. 4 (6?) inch former college basketball player for a typing teacher.  This one didn't have too many problems keeping order, especially the day after he quietly picked up a chalk piece from the chalkboard tray and fired it at Randy P., who was messing around with his typewriter instead of looking up and listening to the teacher.

The Harrises lived at the intersection of Trail West and Partridge Road, in the northwest quadrant.  After he and his wife divorced (she was the daughter of the local Hubert Morgan), he moved to Arizona.  According to the obituary, he played for Hutchinson Junior College in its basketball glory days when they won took third place in the NJCAA basketball tournament in 1957, with Sam Butterfield coaching.  Mr. Harris had also played basketball at K-State, as I recall.

Mr. Harris taught our girls' P.E. class only after Mrs. Guzman, our first teacher, disappeared without warning during the school year.  None of us ever knew for sure why she didn't come back, but there were whisperings of her having needed to leave the country for some reason--perhaps because of she or her husband not having legal arrangements in order for living here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Football Mania

I have been afflicted with football mania.  This is how I know:

1.  I read the whole 352-page book, League of Denial.

2.  I watched the whole almost-two-hour documentary, "League of Denial."

3.  I pore over the sports section of the newspaper every day.

4.  I regularly turn to the sports sections of Time and The Week.

5.  I've learned all about the AFL and the NFL.

6.  I've painstakingly taken notes on nine youtube segments of  "League of Denial"--excerpts from the full-length documentary, creating a glossary of names and terms.

7.  I've clipped many articles on football and collected them in a folder.  I've photocopied others and printed still others from the computer.

My football mania is atypical.  This is how I know:

1.  I don't know the names of many currently-famous players.

2.  I know that the Kansas City Chiefs are better than usual this year, and I know they're in the AFL.  Beyond that, I don't know much about any team or players.

3.  The mania came on suddenly and is likely to depart suddenly.

4.  The mania coincides precisely with the need for a custom-designed current events study.  Time's cover article in late September clued me in to this "current event." That, and a student's suggestion that we study sports.  (I'm positive that she did not envision this particular investigation into sports.)

5.  I've subdivided the topic of football into 13 subtopics, and written a quiz on a "background" sheet I've already created.  I've also listed a number of questions to consider on that background sheet.

6.  The more I learn, the less laudatory the whole football enterprise seems to me.  The neuroscience on brain injuries is compelling; the piled-high-and-deep NFL money trail looks a lot like muck.

I'll have to wait to tip my hand further on this topic--till the students have had a chance to hold forth on their choice of related topics.  Then, I might decide to close out this investigation with some writing on what I've found--or not.

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Today is Tristan's third birthday.  I find the child irresistible.  Not perfect, but nonetheless irresistible.

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On Friday, at 91 degrees, Wichita set a record high temperature for that date.  A cool down is expected tomorrow, and throughout the week.

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I saw an article in the paper today saying that a mountain lion was spotted in Labette County.  Still no acknowledgement of breeding females in the state, despite local people on several occasions having seen a group of young ones in the same vicinity as adults.  I don't get it.  Why this staunch denial of resident animals?  Lone males traveling through from Colorado is the usual explanation for documented sightings.  I don't think that covers all the bases.

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We're about to embark on two evenings of parent-teacher conferences.  These are long days for teachers.  Meetings from 4:00 to 9:00.  No one doubts the value of these contacts, so we'll just do it.

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I wish I were smarter about technology, or that we had internet at school.  I'm still not sure how I'll get the documentaries downloaded that I want the students to see.  It would be ever-so-simple to access it at school if we had an internet connection.

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Several folks from here attended the funeral of Naomi Schrock in Catlett, VA.  Her young sister-in-law, Tryphena (Trippy), attended Pilgrim for one year and graduated here, so the extended family has lots of friends here.  Naomi was 31, and left behind a husband and two young daughters.

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We  heard recently that Pauline Ramos has been diagnosed with leukemia in El Salvador.  She has cousins and friends here too.

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Our ladies'  prayer partner banquet happened on Sat. eve.  Decorations featured seaside themes--pulled off with amazing aplomb for Kansas--as landlocked a state as any.  "An Anchor for the Soul" prompted the assembly of papyrus stalks, water-smoothed stones, rowboats and canoes, and aqua colors.  A number of ladies spoke about the anchors that have provided stability during the tumultuous experiences of the recent past.  This annual routine is a real treat.

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Kendrick and Kimberly Graber (also known as Kenny and Kim) had a tiny 4 lb. 13 oz. daughter on Thursday whom they named McKenzie Kayl.  All are reportedly doing well.  The baby was one week early.

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Mandy Nisly is home from the hospital and has been released from the Manor where she had gone for physical therapy.  Her back pain is improved, but she still has a lot of mobility problems.

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Wyatt (Grant and Clarissa's) stayed with us for several hours on Saturday.  He was too tired to sleep till we took him on a car ride.  He didn't sleep more than about 15 minutes--long enough to give him a very sweet disposition.  After that he decided that Hiromi was not scary after all, and he had lots of smiles and funny wrinkle-faced teasing expressions.  He stood alone for a bit to demonstrate his new prowess.  He's a little over 9 months old.

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Frolics are planned for the end of the week to work at the "Elreka" facility.  Next week a roofing project for a nursing home in Hutchinson will call for a number of volunteers.  On Thursday of this week a hog roast and auction-of-services is planned at Center as a fundraiser for (I forget what).  Unfortunately, I also forgot to list this among the announcements today.  The MCC meat canner will be here next week.  A "thank you" fish fry is planned at Nelson Lee's initiative for Saturday evening--in gratitude for how the community supported him when he had surgery for a cancerous growth on his tongue.  Some of the donations will go to support Hands of Christ.

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Hands of Christ director Paul Yoder and his wife Edith plan to take up residence (3 days a week for 3 months) in an office location in Hutchinson.  Shane owns the property they will occupy, and Rock Rentals, his property management business, has an office in the other half of the building.

Having a more permanent residence in Hutchinson seems to make sense for a variety of reasons, so this is an effort to begin to explore the options.  It's also an effort to provide for smooth transitions in the case of new personnel coming aboard--which would be complicated if it never moved outside Paul's private residence.  

Paul talked to us today about how missionaries go to where the people are, and how Jesus dwelt among men when he came to bring redemption.

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Wendell and Jeanine were in church today.  They plan to stay in the area till after Christmas.  I asked Jeanine today whether the school where they've been teaching has a "sabbaticals policy."  She said they don't.

I find that is the usual answer when I ask that question of people in conservative Anabaptist circles.  I learned today that our school board now has a policy on sabbaticals.  That was not the case when I first took a sabbatical six years ago.  I hope to see a copy of our policy soon.

I've also been gratified to see how the idea of sabbaticals has caught on among our local ministerial teams.  Some effort has been made to operate by a system, although it's not completely uniform.

I believe schools and churches stand to gain a great deal by observing regular sabbaticals.  Gardeners too, which is how the conviction first took root in my consciousness.  Each person willingly taking their hands off the "controls" of their position for a time seems healthy in any organization.  Helping the group evaluate roles in the absence of any single individual's contribution can open up new ways of meeting the needs, making things more manageable for everyone as time goes on.

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Hiromi has been doing a lot of plumbing of late.  He's dug up a water line by hand, in order to facilitate connecting to it to run some new water and wiring lines.  Also, yesterday, he unclogged the pipe going from the house to the septic tank.  This task was made simple by the presence of a stand-pipe he installed in the line near the tank, and the crafting of a concrete lid for the tank that enabled him to check the level of the tank's contents.

Bob Prettyman, Clare's father, solves problems like this for people regularly.  He says that low-water-volume toilets make plugged drain lines far more likely since each flush is too low-volume to reach the tank--so the line is not routinely emptied as is possible with higher water volume.

We're puzzled by what Hiromi found nestled squarely under  one of the water lines he dug up--a tree root larger than the diameter of the pipe.  It's a puzzle because no trees are growing close to that area.  We can't figure out where the root came from.  A lo-o-o-ong way away, it seems.  If we could tell by the root whether it was Siberian Elm, Cottonwood, or Maple, we'd know where the culprit resides.

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I found it necessary to proscribe discussions of body parts in typing class last week.  It was an oblique (but very well-understood) reference to the speculation I interrupted on  the relationship between sweat stink and underarm hair volume.  Puh-lease.  I did tell them that it's not that such discussions are always inappropriate, but typing class is not the appropriate venue.

Adolescent boys are probably the earthiest of individuals, but that doesn't mean that everyone else within audio range needs to tolerate having their mind space forced to consider whatever is uppermost in their minds.  I like that this group usually is quite quick to try to cooperate when I ask something of them--if they can stop talking long enough to hear what I'm saying.  The girls are models of virtue, so they're not part of this running-at-the-mouth problem.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Critical Distinction

Just now in the process of tackling the paper monsters that are always waiting in the wings at our house,  I picked up the October Sword and Trumpet, leafing through it to see if I had read this one.  An article by Christian attorney David Gibbs caught my eye.  I had read it earlier, but this time I noticed an aspect of it that made sense in a context to which I had never applied it.

The article drew a firm line between two alternative kinds of religious belief--convictions and preferences.  This concept is not new to me.  I have not always been sure that it's a critical distinction, though.  It turns out that in the eyes of the law it matters a great deal.

Gibbs used the example of Wisconsin vs. Yoder, the court case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Yoder's favor, establishing his right to allow his children to attend school only through grade 8, and no further.  The case has always been of special interest to me for a variety of reasons, among them these:

1.  The case was wending its way through the courts at the same time that my father and others were involved in a similar case in Kansas.  When the case was settled regarding Wisconsin, the precedent in such cases was established, and the controversy was over in Kansas also.

2.  I kept encountering a record of this case in the textbooks for my college education classes and got a sense for what an important landmark this decision was.  It is to the Amish what Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education is to non-Whites (ending racial segregation),  in terms of how it changed the education prospects of the children involved.  

3.  Jonas Yoder is my mother's first cousin.  His mother was a Beachy, a sister to my Grandfather Beachy.  The children Jonas refused to send to high school are my second cousins.

David Gibbs made the point that only after a great deal of testing did the court accept Jonas Yoder's religious belief as a conviction that should be protected under the U. S. Constitution--because he would not change his mind.  Yoder was told that if he was sued and lost, he would go to jail and his children would likely be taken from him.  Jonas stood firm.  In the face of such steadfastness, the court was convinced of the need to protect his choice legally.

In our local discussions about facility matters, I believe it would help us if we made a clear distinction between preferences and convictions, and then got as comfortable with emphatic declarations of convictions as Cousin Jonas did.  We should identify preferences as such as readily as the law does.  All of us should work together as diligently to defend and protect convictions as the government says it will do.  All of us should surrender our preferences, even if it means re-evaluation and reversal.

I am terrified of a course of action steered according to preference. I weep at the sight of the train wreck my inner eye sees at the end of such a course.

The obvious question is how can we rightly identify our own beliefs?  A corresponding question is how can the brotherhood move together according to convictions only?  We'd all like to think that our own ideas can pass the conviction test, and we're likely easily convinced that others' ideas are mere preferences.

I crave certainty that we are proceeding on the basis of conviction and not preference, and believe that if we pass the following tests it will help us arrive at certainty:

1.  We're willing to take however much time is needed to work through things satisfactorily.  We do not act out of desperation to do something.  Conviction is unhurried, patient.

2.  We talk about everything before we act.  We do not act and then wait to see if there's a strong enough negative reaction to necessitate reversal.  We do not proceed according to preference and wait to see if others come along.  Conviction is not conniving.

3.  We pray about everything before we talk or act.  We are content to wait to talk or act until we are prompted by God to do so.  Conviction is prayerful.

4.  We don't make a big deal of where we are on the authority scale.  We see ourselves as servants of God who live it out by serving each other.  We particularly are conscious of our need to serve those who are more helpless than we are.  Conviction makes us willing servants.

5.  We apply Scriptural principles to our beliefs.  Conviction is an understanding of truth.

6.  We are ruthlessly rational in examining our beliefs, tracing them back to their origins with meticulous scrutiny.  Conviction is painstaking.

7.  We are willing to be ill-thought-of for our beliefs.  Conviction is willing to suffer.

That's it.  I can't think of anything more on this critical distinction.






Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Tzadik

The reading of the (autobiographical?) novel The Chosen by Chaim Potok has introduced me to the term tzadik.  In Jewish life, a tzadik is a spiritual leader who is revered by his followers as a particularly holy man.  He functions as one who represents God to his people, and who pleads the cause of his people before God.  In Potok's book, he portrays a tzadik as having another function--to carry the sorrows of his own people.

I considered the portrayal of a tzadik in The Chosen as an overdrawn picture created in the writer's mind--not something that makes much sense now.  Why would anyone set out to cultivate a martyr's complex,  to make of one's son such a person or to admire such a person?

Having thought of the matter over the past few weeks, my thinking is changing a bit.  The story of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is instructive.  Jeremiah wept over the sins of his people.  The hardships he experienced no doubt caused him sorrow also.  His own family rejected him.  He was beaten and imprisoned more than once.  The nation he was preaching to never repented in his lifetime.  Tradition says that he died by stoning.

Jeremiah sounds like a tzadik to me.  He was such because of the the call of God on his life, and his obedience to that call.  I doubt that Jeremiah liked his life very much sometimes.  He said things people didn't want to hear.  He said negative things often--the things his discerning eyes "witnessed" before they happened.  He  couldn't marry as most other men did.  He was resisted and attacked and hurt.  He stayed faithful though.

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Very recently, Mark Driscoll resigned from his ministry at Mars Hill--yet another in the chain of once-acclaimed Christian leaders who has been recently discredited.  I know very few details, and am relieved that apparently no dishonesty or immorality was involved.  The problems were in the areas of relationships with his coworkers and in his leadership style, according to the reports I read.

I wonder if Driscoll was a prophet who  never became a tzadik.  Maybe he knew and proclaimed  truth, but never carried a weight of care for those he served.

Maybe being a tzadik is simply being called of God and serving while refusing or being denied a cloak of honor and acclaim--one who serves, even if it must be in sorrow and suffering.

Seen in that light, tzadiks are clearly needed in our time.

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A prophecy of Jesus says that he was a "Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

Jesus is the tzadik Who is needed in Jewish life and in the life of every one who seeks to follow God.
I'm still not sure if it's possible to become a tzadik by desiring to be one.  I do know, however, that aspiring to serve as a tzadik is likely to result in effective service--far more so than desiring to serve, but rejecting the suffering and sorrow that such serving sometimes entails.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting It Right

Is it just me, or is it a hard thing for everyone to locate themselves with exactly the right amount of involvement and caring in relation to an issue?

A friend told me recently "I can't believe you have the energy to keep working at this.  I would have given up a long time ago."

I was incredulous, and thought I can't believe you don't care.  

When I care a lot, I don't mind investing a lot.

Sometimes I feel like I don't even choose what to care about, but a burden finds me and climbs on, unbidden.

I do understand the need to not make everything my responsibility, but I cannot simply turn away from a matter just because things seem headed for disaster with seemingly no hope of redemption.  I carry a great deal of sorrow over such a matter, and simply cannot stop caring--even when there's nothing more to do.  I tell God I give this to  you.  I do a lot of crying and praying.  The one thing I cannot do is "just forget about it."

If I resolved not to care--pushed away or pushed through beyond the burdens that find me--I feel like I would be saying no to what God is asking of me.  Walking in faith demands that I trust Him to keep working in every matter that concerns me--that I not give in to despair and a grim, heart-hardening sense of inevitability, that I stay willing to do my part, as another step is shown me.

I love that I'm not the only one in the caring business.  God cares for me--and you!

I also love that I do not carry my burdens alone.  They are not permanently mine, and not totally and unremittingly mine--only temporarily mine, and only partly mine, because the full weight of them rests also on God and on others walking alongside me.  

 It's a good thing that how much to care is not mine to determine.  I'll never be smart enough to get it right.

Later:  I posted this last night and read this this morning.  I've recently started following this blog, written by someone I've never met, but have had some email correspondence with.









Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Donkey-Donkey

Tonight in church the DLM family (that's us) was asked to conduct the service.  DLM's grandchildren did the actual planning, which may not have been an entirely safe setup, according to the patriarch.

Originally, I was to do a reading, and someone else was to do something for the children.  I wanted to have us do a reader's theater of O. Henry's "The Last Leaf," but others thought it was too sad.  So we all did Donkey, Donkey instead, for the children, which probably erred too far to the other side of the emotional spectrum.  I was appointed the narrator, after I had begged off from the other parts, because I thought I would be disqualified because of disability, mortification, or uncontrollable giggling.  As it turned out, the narrator's part did not spare me from all of the above.  I was midway through the introductions of the characters in the story when the ridiculousness of what we were doing overwhelmed me and I was rendered speechless because of giggling for a time.  Everyone just laughed with me while I tried to recover.   Heidi told me afterward that she thought all was lost when she saw how helpless her mom (Lois) and Aunt Judy were with laughter as well.  Thankfully our maturity reasserted itself in time to save the day.

Christy had made the most remarkable ears or beaks for everyone, and fastened each body part or pairs of body parts to a flexible plastic hair band, so everyone donned their ears or beaks and gathered behind me while I began the story with the introductions.  As I named each character, they made the appropriate animal noises, and oh my, wearing those ears and beaks--it was too funny.  There was Linda mooing like a cow, Benji braying like a donkey, Shane barking like a dog, Hannah oinking, Heidi baaing, Dorcas tweeting, Christy clucking, Joey neighing and snuffling (because he had a cold), Dietrich (the farmer) "howdying," Lois (the doctor) brandishing a syringe, Judy and Kristi being a mother and little girl, Carson pulling off  his "farmer's brother" ears, and Tristan beaming with his goat ears and horns.

Benji, who was the main character, dramatized each effort of the donkey's to improve upon his unsatisfactory ears.  One by one, the other animals gave him suggestions, each animal believing that his own style would also be perfect for Donkey-Donkey, and he obediently bent his own ears in whatever direction his friends suggested--down, forward, to the sides, etc.  (I think that fencing wire inside the ears may have been taxed quite a lot)  He also dramatized his great pain after having caught his sticking-out-to-the-side ear on a nail when he tried to go through a door into the barn.  He was not feeling well at one point, and felt even worse momentarily when the doctor gave him a shot.  All these carryings-on were quite  entertaining.

In the end, Donkey-Donkey decided that ears that stood straight up as his had always done were really the best ears of all for him, and, for the last time he bent then to the appropriate shape, and went back to happily eating thistles.

"And this story ends . . . "

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There was applause afterward--right there at Center Church, without permission and almost without precedent.

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I inadvertently did something else silly that made me laugh afterward.  On the spur of the moment, as I was starting to talk, I held up the children's book that was the source of the story and told the people that Vera Mae had given it to Joseph in 1975.  Vera Mae had given it to Joseph alright, but not in 1975.  Joesph was not born until 1998.  Vera Mae, thrifty Mennonite that she is, had apparently bought the book at a garage sale or acquired it in some similar way.  She had placed an address label over part of what was written inside the front cover, and had written the "to" and "from" information on the blank sticker.  The original owner must have written in the 1975 date.  That date was not covered by the sticker.

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All the DLM grandchildren from Center sang "Shine on Me"--almost entirely impromptu, and by heart.  Actually, they had run through one verse just before the service.

Dad had an opening meditation, and spoke about what can be accomplished even with small beginnings.

Lowell spoke of the years when Center people first met at the Arlington church for about ten years between 1969 and 1979.  Our family attended there, and have fond memories of having done so.

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All in all, it was not really a very professionally-done event, but it was surprisingly low-stress and fun.  Someone lined us up for a picture afterward, and now we have documentation of that sort as well--besides our memories.  I'm glad our turn won't come around for a very long time though.