My Journey With Healing

The doctor almost bounced into the room today. As he felt my ankle he said, “Does it hurt?” I said, “No”. Then he said, “There has been significant change in your ankle.” I felt a surge of panic as I thought the negative and then he said, “Let me show you the x-rays. Look at them!” I studied them for a minute but failed to see what he was so excited about. When he pointed out the difference I could hardly contain myself. I responded with how much I had been praying for healing.

In the picture on the left (taken in September), see the open gap to the left of the screws? That is my bone that had not healed. In the picture on the right (taken today, November 29), notice that the gap has almost totally filled in. That is an incredible amount of healing in a five-week period of time.

In September when he ordered the bone stimulator for me, he caution that it would take time, could be six weeks or more before we see any difference. Today we are just over five weeks. All I can say is God has been gracious and He is knitting my bone back together. Numerous times when I have been lying in bed or sitting in my lazy boy, I have felt my ankle suddenly start to throb. Not hurt, just throb like a rapid heart throb. At first I was concerned but then I thought, maybe that is God knitting my bone together. The bone stimulator promotes blood flow to the area so that it can jump start healing. That is blood throbbing! Whenever I feel that, I always said, “Thank you Jesus for healing my bone.”

People have been asking me this month whether I can feel any difference in my ankle. I couldn’t. I could not tell that it had not healed and I could not tell if it had. I had no way to know if God was working in the secret place! Numerous times I thought about Psalms 139 where it talks about God knitting out bodies together in secret in our mother’s womb. It is a beautiful description of how our Creator God works. My ankle did not hurt and I could walk on it just fine because it was screwed together. However, I felt very vulnerable when walking outside or on the gravel driveway.

This Thanksgiving season I had to struggle some to not worry. My accident happened on Mother’s Day which was over 8 months ago. I could hardly bear to think of going through surgery again if my bone didn’t heal. It seemed like everything I picked up to read (several different books, facebook posts, devotions and even our Sunday School lesson on Sunday) was about experiencing God in our struggles, disappointments, suffering, trials and hurts. It is usually in our “difficult times” that we seek God and open ourselves to His work and divine power in our lives.

One book (Dying Outloud) I read was the story of a missionary couple to an unreached people group in a very remote area of the middle east. They lived among the village people for numerous years and learned to love them, pray with and for them and became a part of their life and culture. But they could not seem to reach them to trust in Jesus for salvation. They started praying for supernatural miracles so that the people would see the true God at work. A blind man received his sight and an almost dead person regained health. It was exciting and wonderful and the people were grateful. But then God revealed to the couple through a series of visions that something tragic was going to happen. That tragedy would break the glass ceiling preventing the people hearts from understanding the true God. How we live and how we deal with tragedy often speaks louder and clearer than a miracle. The challenge was to thank God for our difficult times along with our blessings. I began to wonder if God was preparing me for what laid ahead. I admit I began to mentally preparing myself for bad news but I resolved to praise God even if it was not what I wanted to hear.

This has been a rough year, all year long. Gene developed Covid in January and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. He is still dealing with long-term Covid affects. (That will be another post). Then my journey began in mid-March when I slipped and fell in the rain on wet grass and torn my ham string and calf muscle. That was barely healed when I fell down two steps on Mother’s Day and broke my ankle. From there it was emergency care, doctor’s visits, surgery, a cast, no weight bearing for two months, a walking boot, therapy, therapy and more therapy and then the realization in September that my ankle was not healing, not at all! It was the screws that allowed me to walk without pain.

I admit I began to feel battered and worn. The sea of life was feeling rather rough. In many ways I feel like Gene and I both visibly aged this year. But at the same time, we received many blessings and words of encouragement and prayers from family, church family, friends, employees, customers and even good ole Facebook friends! Yeah for Facebook! It was humbling to be so dependent on others to help with my basic heath care, clean the house, cook meals, do the laundry and the list goes on and on. It was so hard for independent me to say, “I can’t do it”, “Can you do this for me”.

To everyone I say thank-you. I am seeing light at the end of my tunnel and I am chugging towards it. There is a new lightness to my step this evening. God has been faithful and I have felt His presence, His peace and His care. I am grateful for this blessing of healing and praise God for His mercy. Thank you Jesus for granting me healing.

Other posts about my ankle:

A number of people asked about the book I referenced. It can be found on goggle. “Dying Outloud: No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death” by Shawn Smucker.

This was copied from “Second Sale” website: Dying Out Loud is the story of Stan, his wife, Ann, their children Elle and Stanley, and their dedication to following God no matter what the cost. They traded the comforts of suburban southern California for the crowded cobblestone streets of the Middle East. They explored remote areas and they befriended nomadic tribes people, courageously bringing a message of hope and freedom to those needing to hear it. But none of those adventures would compare to where God led them next: a journey of visions, revelations, and sorrow. A journey into stage-four cancer, and a journey that beckoned them to walk the shrouded path through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Yet even there they discovered peace, grace, and a new hope for the lost around them.

Thanksgiving-2022

I love national holidays that set a day aside for spiritual reflection and and special family time. We bake special traditional foods appropriate for the day, and take time off from our work and jobs. It is also a day to give thanks. I feel sad when people refer to it as “Friendsgiving”. It tells me they have forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about and join the crowd in twisting the truth of our spiritual heritage in setting aside a special day to thank God for all his bountiful care and blessings. A celebration of Thanksgiving goes all the way back to the children of Israel who celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days. (Leviticus 23). We remind our young children to say thank you when they are given a gift or someone does something special or kind. Thanksgiving is a reminder to us to say thank you to God, our Heavenly Father.

We had a wonderful day as a family eating together, playing games, putting together a puzzle, taking a walk and just enjoying time together. We went around the table and each said something they were grateful for. Some of the family couldn’t be here and we missed them.

Just a few pictures from our day.

Our family enjoys playing games which sometimes get quite lively and putting together puzzles.
A game of Settlers
Put together a 1000 piece puzzle
“Weekend Market” 1000 piece
We call these two the “Wonder Twins”. They really aren’t twins but have so much fun together. They played lively games of ping pong on the micro board. It is lots of fun and suitable for inside the house.
See these crazy “Wonder Twins” trying to play with their feet. I’ll just say it didn’t last very long!
The only picture of food was my “Luscious Pumpkin Torte”
Taking a walk.
The horses watched us coming and then ran to walk with us!
Ryan loves soccer and he kicked and dribbled the ball and the way out the lane and across the front field and back.
Cousin time – Karla and Lauren.
We had to stop by the horse stable to pet the friendly dogs.
And of course Karla had to love on the kittens.
These two kittens were some of Pickles babies.
Our star performer, Lauren, entertaining us with her original “Green Bean Casserole”!!! In case you didn’t get the message, she loves green bean casserole/

Olive Green Egg Yolk

A customer called today and described the egg yolk his wife had broken into a bowl. I had him send me a picture. I have never in my life…..!!!

The yolk is olive green and the white is crystal clear. I must say it looks disgusting!!!! He was quick to tell me he did not buy the hens from me!!! He has an assorted flock of Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and I think he said Ameraucanas (Easter Eggers). I have seen a few things in my years; blood in the yolk and even a worm one time, but never anything like this.

We went to our friend “google” and typed in “olive green egg yolk”. The results were very interesting.

An olive yolk in a raw egg seems to be caused by diet. There were several articles and one said green grass or alfalfa. But that does not make sense to me. Free range chickens eat a heavy diet of grass and their eggs are not olive green. We have found that chlorophyll that makes grass green, makes egg yolks a deep rich yellowish orange. Another article said acorns, some weeds or herbs such as Shepherd’s Purse will make the yolk olive. Shepherd’s Purse contains an alkaloid (bursing), tannin, and some sulphur.

I know if you hard boil an egg too long the yolk has a dark green edge around it. This is from the minerals and sulfur in the yolk that you destroyed by overcooking. It makes sense to me that Shepherd’s Purse could be the culprit and apparently it is common in our area.

I have never identified Shepherd’s Purse in my yard, but here is a picture of it.

Shepherd’s Purse

If anyone else has any expertise or experience with this I would love to hear from you.

Nothing Is Too Hard For God!

My broken ankle is not healing properly. Well actually it has not healed at all. This is difficult news after five long months of supposed recovery after breaking my ankle on Mother’s Day; surgery to insert screws, weeks in a non-weight bearing cast, wheelchair, crutches, walker, walking boot, months of therapy and trying to be very, very careful. I followed the doctor’s orders precisely.

When an x-ray was done after the cast came off, the doctor commented that it hasn’t totally healed yet. He put me in a walking boot. A follow-up appointment and x-ray still revealed the same diagnosis. At the last appointment he ordered a CT scan to see better what was happening. The news was not what I wanted to hear.

My ankle has not healed. It is hard to believe and frankly, rather discouraging. He said there are three reasons this can happen.

  • Sloppy surgery. He said this is not the case. He did the surgery well and the x-rays and CT scan show the screws properly placed and tight. It looks just as it is supposed to.
  • The use of drugs, smoking, alcohol, walking on foot during early stage of no weightbearing and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil) which prohibits bone growth. I did none of the above! The first part of the list has no place in my life and I was very, very careful to not let my foot touch the floor. He had warned me about Advil so I knew not to take that.
  • Genetics and biology of the body.

The options:

We are first trying a hefty calcium and Vitamin D routine along with wearing a bone stimulator three hours a day to see if it jump starts bone healing. The stimulator promotes blood flow to the affected area which encourages healing.

Bone Stimulator-reminds me of a home arrest monitor! The person who delivered the stimulator said this is a big issue with ankles-I am not alone and all ages, even 22 year old athletes, can have this problem.

It this regiment doesn’t work, then it may be necessary to redo the original surgery. He didn’t give all the details but mentioned bone graft and inserting stem cells. My mind was racing and anxiously I asked a question, “Does this mean you rebreak my ankle”? He said, “No, the ankle has not healed, there is nothing to rebreak”. That was rather stunning to me. Not healed? Not healed at all? How am I walking? His answer, “Because there are screws in the bone.” Gene said, “I guess that is like using screws to hold boards together to build a strong barn.” Don’t you just love the practical thinking of my country man!

Fortunately my ankle does not hurt, there is no pain. It was tender when the doctor felt it. There is still a bruised looking area above the screws. But it does make me feel very vulnerable to be walking on an unhealed ankle held together with two screws!

In my daily devotions this week I read Jeremiah 32. Jeremiah was in a tough situation. He was in prison for speaking judgment and warning from God to King Zedekiah. God had told Jeremiah that Hanamel, his uncle’s son, was going to come to the prison and offer him his field as Jeremiah had the first right to buy it as the next kinsman-redeemer to keep the land in the family line of Benjamin. Jeremiah had been prophesying gloom and doom, as the people had turned away from God and were worshipping idols along with many other very wicked practices. God had told him that if the people did not repent they would be taken captive by the king of Babylon but his life would be spared. In seventy years, the people would once again return home to possess the land and build houses and plant vineyards. This seemed like a very difficult and impossible situation. But then Jeremiah reminded himself of the God he knew and said, “Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” Those words resonated with me.

It was not long until Hanamel arrived at the prison with the request and Jeremiah knew without a doubt that God had spoken clearly to him. Jeremiah knew that he knew that if God by his power could create the earth and heavens, there was nothing, no detail in his life, that was impossible.

I went to see my Pastor last week and told him what I was dealing with. He asked if they could have special prayer for me on Sunday. I said yes, in fact, I would like to be anointed. This is a biblical (spiritual) practice that is laid out in James 5:14. “If anyone is sick (suffering), they should call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him in the name of the Lord”.

This is a very special time of laying your need before the Lord, asking for his healing, and letting the church join you in prayer and support. This past week I realized it is so easy to go to the doctor when we have a problem and just trust them to heal us. Yes I had said a few prayers, but basically I had relied on the doctor and his skills and expertise. I am not demeaning his role at all but ultimately God is the healer. So now I am asking God more intentionally to heal me. I will admit I can hardly bear the thought of having to go through the past five months again. Does this guarantee healing? No, this is not a magic formula for healing but it does align myself with God’s will and power. And it is asking God in a very specific way for divine healing. I say with Jeremiah “nothing is too difficult for God”. I know this is a small thing for God and I am praying for his divine intervention. Nothing, nothing is too difficult for God!

My ankle story: When Life Throws A Curveball

Karla’s Birthday Weekend

This girl always does things in a big way. Nineteen years ago she entered this world on the eve of Hurricane Isabel. We hightailed it to Harrisonburg to see this new granddaughter before the storm hit. She was so cute with a head of black hair. After loving on this gift from God, we hurried back home as the ferocious, destructive hurricane began its approach. This bundle of joy has been living life to the fullest ever since.

Karla had a big weekend and it was a joy to share it with her. She is a setter on the EMU Royal’s volleyball team and they had a double tournament playing Lancaster Bible and Mary Baldwin Colleges. They won both sets.

#3 is our girl!

Ryan also had a double tournament soccer match-at the same times. We scurried to his field to watch some of his game also. Note: The pictures below were not of his actual game, but another game, as he did not get to play while we were there and the pictures were too far away.

Number 24 is our boy!!!

Karla has an amazing group of nine girl friends at EMU and they are all on the same dorm floor. They are making a lot of good memories sharing life together and are such encouragers and supporters of each other. They surprised Karla with an evening of food and games at Ruby’s Arcade and then came out to her home for dessert; chocolate peanut butter brownies and raspberry/blackberry cobbler made by her mother with ice-cream. It was a fun evening.

Sunday morning Karla was asked to bring the message at Weavers Mennonite Church. She did an intern there this summer and it was a great experience for her to be a part of all that happens in a church behind the scenes. Her final assignment was to preach. She did an amazing job and if I can brag on her, she had good eye contact with the audience, good illustrations, good delivery and most importantly, a challenging, inspiring message. Good job Karla.

A bit of history taken from the Weavers website…….WEAVERS MENNONITE CHURCH goes back to 1825 when a congregation began meeting in the home of Peter Burkholder.  This home at 491 Garbers Church Rd. doubles today as a dwelling and a Bed & Breakfast.    
      In 1827, the congregation built a log meetinghouse located across the road from the present site of 2501 Rawley Pike, and later took the name “Weavers” from the caretaker.  When Virginia Mennonite Conference was organized in 1835, the meeting was held in this church.  A larger frame building was build in 1881 to replace the original structure.  The present limestone building was dedicated on January 31, 1943.

Just a side note….This was the church Gene and I were married at.

Before the service started, Karla served coffee in the “coffee house” behind the church. The building is a neat, quaint, old building that has a lot of history attached to it. I think it goes back close to the beginning or almost the beginning of Weavers. I remember it as the ladies sewing cottage. If my memory serves me correctly, Weavers was one of the first Mennonite Churches in the valley.

Lighthouse Coffee Shop
The grandparents; Darrel & Sherill Hostetter, Gene & Pat Hertzler enjoying time together before the service.
I love this picture as it shows the support of her college friends. They are there for each other!

Sermon: Run With Active Faith (20 minute)

Karla’s family, Obe, Ryan and Jill. I love their expressions.

It was a good, fun-filled busy weekend and a blessing to be with and enjoy family. God bless you Karla as you journey through life. You have a heart for service and may you continue to bless many with your joy for life, your gift of writing and now we know, your gift of speaking!!!

Sign of God’s Eternal Covenant: The Rainbow

Photo by Luanne Johnson

It was a beautiful evening. Late afternoon storm clouds darkened the sky to the west and north over the James River. The gentle breeze that blew all day became brisk and the yellowing leaves on the birch trees fluttered to the ground. A gentle rain watered the earth.

Just before dusk, the sun burst through the clouds and the sunlight glistened off the still falling raindrops creating a stunning huge, tall, full rainbow in the east. There actually was a double rainbow although the second one was not as brilliant. I didn’t see it at first as I was more focused on the sun reflecting on the roofs of the silos.

If you look closely you can see the faint rainbow to the right of the brilliant one.

I remembered God’s promise and the sign he gave us a reminder. I said aloud, “God I remember”.

Genesis 6-9 tells the story of Noah and the great flood that destroyed every living creature and all humans on earth except for Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives. Why would God do such a drastic, awful thing? It was judgement for the violent, evil, and godless culture that had turned against him. Noah and his family were saved because they were righteous, the only ones in the whole earth. It took them one hundred years, but they built an ark with God’s direction and they along with two of every kind of animal that God brought to the ark were saved. It is a fascinating true story.

One hundred and fifty days later, the flood had subsided and the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. Noah and his family along with all the animals came out of the ark into the clean, fresh earth bursting with lush green plants and trees. Noah immediately built an alter and worshipped God. God set a brilliant rainbow in the sky-probably the first ever seen. God told Noah that he was establishing a covenant with him and all future generations and living creatures. Never again would the earth be totally destroyed by a flood. God gave the rainbow as a sign of the covenant. And God said, “When I see the bow, I will remember my covenant.” The rainbow is not only a reminder for our benefit but also for God to see and remember.

I turned to walk back into the house and behind me the west was also blazing with God’s glory of a different hue, the stunning beauty of the setting sun.

Several years ago we visited the Ark, a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark in Williamstown, Kentucky. It was an incredible experience to see, feel and think about what it really was like for Noah. I highly recommend this adventure.

Noah’s Ark

A Story: An Awful Day That Ends Well

Some stories you just can’t make up! Yesterday felt like one of them.

I spent yesterday (Monday) afternoon sitting at my desk doing computer work. I stood up to file some papers and wham. I was hit with excruciating, piercing, disabilitating pain shooting through my right knee. I fell back into my chair and almost passed out. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I tried getting up again but couldn’t tolerate the pain. I felt nauseous and faint. I could only sit with my head down trying to hold myself together. I could not straighten my knee or put any weight on it. The last weeks and months flashed through my mind. This can’t be happening. Why? Why? Why? Am I going to have to go through another spell of therapy and rehabilitation? Can I not even stand up without getting hurt?

Summer tried to help me to no avail. I finally called Gene and asked him to bring me my crutches which were stashed in the bedroom waiting to be returned to the person I had borrowed them from. I thought I could use them to get myself to the golf cart to go up to the house. That did not work. For one thing, I could not bear standing or straightening my leg and it also meant I had to use my left leg to bear my weight and that is the one with the broken ankle that is almost healed. I could not get my brain to tell my legs how to make that happen.

Gene ended up going over to our church and getting a wheelchair to get me in the car to go the house. That was quite the ordeal-it took two of them. I then decided I wasn’t even going to try to get out of the car but go straight to Ortho Emergency. I first tried calling Dr. Kerr, my Ortho knee doctor, to see what I should do and if by chance he could see me this afternoon. I got their answering service so I left a message. On the way to Ortho Emergency, Dr. Kerr’s office called. He was not in the office that day but they scheduled me an appointment for the next day (Tuesday) at 9:45.

At the Ortho Emergency Gene went in and they brought out a wheelchair to get me. As they started processing me, they discovered from my chart that I had an appointment with Dr. Kerr in the morning. I had to make a choice, I could see them and cancel my appointment with Dr. Kerr that I had made 15 minutes prior and be charged a $50 cancellation fee or wait and go to him the next morning. I couldn’t do both. I had figured they would treat me and send me to him and I would just already have the appointment. So much for thinking! We decided to go home. Gene’s concern was how he was going to handle me.

When we got home I decided to try my crutches again and see if by chance I could get into the house. I opened the car door and put my feet out. There was no pain. I stood up. There was no pain. I walked to the house totally unaided and with no support. There was no pain. It was as if it all was a bad dream and had never happened. I could not believe it. What in the world was going on?

We both plopped into our chairs and tried to figure out what had just happened. Finally, Gene came up with the idea that maybe I had scar tissue in my knee that tore loose. That made a lot of sense to me. I have heard that is really painful when it happens. Because of all the trauma to my knees with my fall on the wet grass in March that tore my ham string and calf muscle on my left leg, and then the fall down the two steps in May that broke my ankle, my knees, shoulders and back have suffered. I have been a little concerned about the tight band that developed over my kneecaps. I stood up again to make sure and walked around the living room. My right knee is totally fine. The tight band in my right knee is gone and it feels looser and freer.

I went ahead and kept my schedule with Dr. Kerr this morning since I had the appointment scheduled and thinking it was probably a good idea to have a chat with him about all that I have been through. He affirmed that decision. They did x-rays and the knees look fine. He thinks it was my back that reacted and it reflected in my knees. I am not sure I agree with him, but I have been having some back pain with all I have been through. He felt the symptoms were classic and to just be aware of my back and if I develop more pain to come back to see him. It is hard to diagnose something like this when you don’t see it while it is happening.

For now, I am good to go! All is well. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! I am so grateful I did not injure my knee and have to tell you about another ordeal I have to go through. That would be horribly embarrassing, and I am not sure I could face therapy with another story! I am so grateful to God for His mercy and protecting hand.

A story about my ankle ordeal: “When Life Throws A Curve Ball”.

Our Elisha House: Janet’s Story

Even though this story happened thirty-three years ago, it is as fresh in my mind as if it had happened yesterday.  As I share it, it is my desire for the focus to be on the faithfulness of God and the power of His protective hand. It is a story worth sharing.

In the early spring of 1989, Tom, a customer who shopped at our business and I only knew on a name basis, approached me, and asked if we would consider taking a woman from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Petersburg where he worked into our home. Immediately my brain said no.  I did not have to even think. As he began to list reasons our family farm would be the perfect place for this troubled 40-year-old woman, I was mentally composing a list of why it would not be a good idea to take her in. I had no experience with drugs or alcohol addictions and had no desire to take on someone with that kind of problems, plus we had two adolescent children.  Tom explained that this woman had twice tried to commit suicide by jumping into the James River and was recovering from a severe drug/alcohol addiction. But then he threw in the clincher. As her counselor, he wanted this special woman to have one more chance at life.  He knew we were Christians and hoped we could share our faith with her. That evening at supper I told Gene about the conversation and to my surprise he was open to the idea.  With Tom’s support and encouragement, Janet entered our home and lives about a week later.

Janet lived in our small upstairs apartment that we called our “Elisha House” based on the story in II Kings 4.  She helped with the outdoor farm chores, milking and in our retail farm supply store.  Because we would not allow her to smoke or have her large black poodle dog in the house, she got a small camper that was parked out back which became her smoking room.

For six weeks things went exceptionally well.  She seemed to blossom in the warm spring sunshine, took pride in her work and wormed her way into our hearts.  She even went to church with us once!  Occasionally we learned tidbits about her sordid past, but it was mostly a closed door.  It had been years since she had contact with her family and was deeply bitter and resentful about her upbringing in the Mormon faith.

One Sunday while we were at church, she stole our truck and fled. We were stunned.  We had guests that Sunday and we didn’t miss her or the truck until about 3 in the afternoon.  We called the sheriff. He put out an AP bulletin and within the hour she was stopped near Charlotte, NC for drunk driving.  She was arrested for driving without a license and possession of a stolen vehicle.  The next morning, she posted bond with the money she had stolen from us and became a “wanted” missing person.  Gene and one of the men from church, Bill Schaefer, drove to North Carolina and picked up the truck.  We were shocked at the load of stuff that she had stolen from us, and we had not even missed it.  Her intentions were to disappear into the wild west and return to a life of homelessness, drifting and self-indulgence.  I began to pray and ask God to literally stop her feet, turn them around and bring her back. I began to sort through her belongings she had left behind, looking for a clue to her family, past or where she may be headed.  I had no clue. Amazingly, I found her birth certificate, which gave me the names of her parents and the city in which she was born.  After a word of prayer, I called information for Pocatello, Idaho and asked if they had a listing for this family. They did.  With a pounding heart, I called the number, and a man answered the phone.  He affirmed he was Floyd and, yes, (his voice faltered) he had a daughter, Janet.  Yes, that was her birth date.  This sad father had not heard from his troubled daughter in years. We had a sad but wonderful talk.  He was so relieved to know something about his daughter and that she was still alive even though she was in trouble with the law. 

Two days later the phone rang, and it was Janet.  She didn’t know why she was calling but …..   Gene got on the phone and talked with her, and she agreed to not run and to let us come get her. She gave us the address of a street corner she would be at.  The next day, with the local sheriff’s permission, Gene and Tom drove back to North Carolina to pick her up.  The sheriff allowed her to stay with us that night before turning herself in the next morning.  It was a night of much talking, tears, and laughter.  I shared with Janet how I had contacted her parents and their deep concern and love for her.  For the first time in years, Janet picked up the phone and tearfully called her mom and dad.  It was a night of reconciliation I will never forget.  Janet ended up spending three months in jail and then because of our desire to forgive her and to give her another chance, the judge allowed her to come back to us on probation.

Several months later, Janet decided to fly home and spend the Christmas holiday reuniting with her family.  But flying back to Virginia, she yielded to the lure of alcoholic beverages being served on the airline.  Her breath reeked with a sweet sourness when I picked her up from the airport. That began a tailspin that she could not pull out of.  We learned that the bondage of alcohol is an evil taskmaster, even stronger than drugs and caring friends become the enemy.  I remember one particular night when Janet was severely depressed, drinking heavily and had totally closed us out. She was breaking all our guidelines, refused to eat supper with us or allow me to enter to camper to talk. Things were not going well, and we did not know what to do.  I awoke in the wee hours of the night with a heavy sense of evil foreboding that I was unable to shake.  I got up and checked on the children, prayed for them, laid hands on the doors of our house, and asked for protection over our family and home.  Janet was still in her camper, so I knelt in prayer, lifting Janet to our Heavenly Father before returning to bed.  The next day Janet was much improved, smiling and talking; it seemed that life was returning to a sense of normalcy. With counseling, she seemed to be getting her drinking under control.  One evening, several weeks later, while we were playing a game, Janet suddenly paused, looked at me and said, “Do you remember that night when …….  I was going to take your gun, go the back pasture and shoot my dog and then myself.  But something would not let me do it.”  Stunned I said, “Yes, I remember.”  I was then able to share with her my side of the story and how God had protected her because I had prayed!  It was a powerful God moment.

Several weeks later on Super Bowl Sunday, the lure of alcohol again ensnared her. We awoke early Monday morning to the sound of our pickup speeding out the driveway.  Gene leaped out of bed and called the sheriff.  When we contacted our insurance company, we discovered-much to our horror- that the insurance company had accidentally removed the truck from our policy almost a year prior when we added another vehicle. We again began to pray that Janet would stop and call home. After three days, she contacted Tom, who told her to give up the truck immediately.   She stopped at an AA Group in Amarillo, Texas and they turned the truck in to authorities while she disappeared into the big wild west.  This time Gene flew to Texas and drove the truck home.

Numerous times through the years Janet has called or emailed, but she is always very careful to not reveal her location.  She is living the life of a fugitive, hiding from the law, scared she will get caught, and ensnared to the evil taskmaster she has chosen to serve.  A year or so after fleeing, she had a powerful, short-lived, conversion at a street church she was drawn into from the street. She called and asked for our forgiveness.

In 2004, Gene and I decided to fly west and drive to Alberta, Canada.  After debating between flying into Seattle or Salt Lake City, we chose Salt Lake. It was almost a straight shot north through Utah, Idaho and Montana to Canada.  When we were plotting our route on the map, we realized we were going directly through Pocatello, Idaho, Janet’s hometown.  We wondered, what would be the chances of connecting with her!  It was a week before we were to leave, but I decided to try and make email contact and see if by chance she was in her home area. Each time she had emailed through the years she had a different email address. I decided to use her last contact info from a year previous.  I wrote expressing our love for her and our desire to see her again.  I assured her this was not a setup but a desire to see “our” Janet.  As I sat at the computer I prayed, asking God to miraculously send the email to her.  I pushed the send button.  I left the internet on as I worked at the computer to see if the email would balance back to me.  I was stunned when about 30 minutes later I had a response from Janet!!!!  I didn’t expect God to work that fast!!! She sent a newsy letter about herself and a man she was living with from Uganda, but her answer was no, she could not run the risk of seeing us– she was afraid we would betray her.  As I continued working at my computer and debating about how to respond, I got the second letter.  It very simply said, “My friend says if you are the people, I say you are, I should not be afraid.”  And she named the city she was in.  I could hardly believe it. It was the other city we had chosen not to fly into.  It was too late to change our plans and we did not get to see Janet.  Apparently, it was not God’s timing.  We did stop along the road at the Pocatello sign and took a picture of the sign and the narrow valley of houses along beside the mountain ridge. I figure probably one of the houses we were looking at was her home. I know that God desires to draw Janet to himself.  My email caused her to reflect on and remember her time spent with us.  It caused her once again to have to deal with her past and verbally process it with another person. 

I have often wondered what has happened to Janet. Is she still alive? She would now be in her mid 70’s. Is she still living as a fugitive, hiding in fear of the law? Was she ever able to make something of her life and have a purpose for living? Was she ever able to overcome the demons of alcohol and drugs? I do know for a while she went back to her home but that did not go well and she again hit the road, living as a tramp.

Janet stretched us, and we had to put our faith into action in a way we had never experienced before.  We experienced God’s supernatural protection, faithfulness, and divine intervention.  We learned about forgiveness- not once but many times over. God wrapped his arms of peace around us and gave us the opportunity and the grace to continue to open our Elisha house through the years to numerous other persons. Gene would always state that he had just one request, “Just don’t steal my truck!”

Celebrating 50 Years of Marriage

I can remember celebrating my parents and their peers 50 years of marriage and it felt like they were old. It seemed like quite an accomplishment for older folks and in reality it was. I could hardly fathom that some day I would be there but suddenly, here we are, our time has come and I wonder, where has time gone?

I remember back to our big, highly anticipated day-June 24, 1972. The week of our wedding Hurricane Agnes, the largest June hurricane recorded in US history and the costliest at the time with an estimated $2.1 billion dollars in damage hit the entire east coast. The effects were widespread, from the Caribbean to Canada. Wikipedia

The James River begins in the far western corner of the state near Lexington and meanders 344 miles, slicing the entire length of the state through the middle and emptying into the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads. The mighty James borders Powhatan County on the north edge. Powhatan is on the upper edge of the lower half of the state. To get to the upper half of the state where I lived, you have to cross the river at some point. Just weeks before the storm hit, Powhatan completed a brand new two lane bridge over the James at Maidens replacing the one way trestle bridge. The river flooded with the rushing water lapping the underside of the roadway on the new bridge, washing out the approaches. The flood waters gushing through downtown Richmond, 30 miles to the east, were devastating.

The water in the area of this bridge is typically about knee deep.
The old one-way trestle bridge. You could not pass on the bridge. If someone was on the bridge you had to wait until they crossed.

Gene called me with concerning news. He didn’t know if or where he could cross the river. After evaluating the situation, he left Powhatan early Friday morning, winding his way west trying to find a way to cross the river. He was coming to me regardless of how far west he had to go to get there! At Lynchburg the bridge was open and he headed north to Harrisonburg.

Our wedding day was beautiful and sunny. We could not have asked for a more gorgeous day and it was perfect in every way. And so our marriage began! Little did we know some of the other life storms that were raging to come ashore in the sea of life.

As our 50-year anniversary approached, our daughter and granddaughters decided to plan a celebration party for us. That’s what you do at 50 years, right? Well a little life storm disrupted our plans and we had to postpone it a month when several in the immediate family got Covid, just days before the event!

We finally got to celebrate this past Sunday evening and it was a lovely time with friends and family. We reminisced, took pictures, cut the wedding cake, and ate food. The family had set up a lovely memorial to our fifty years and three of the wedding party were present; Sharon Swartz Kisamore (maid of honor) and Elva Bowman Miller (bridesmaid) two of my attendants and Bob Hertzler (groomsman), one of Gene’s. My sister, Evelyn Heatwole Borntrager, also a bridesmaid, had family visiting from Indiana and two of Gene’s attendants; Oliver Hertzler, Jr and Ray Hertzler are deceased. It is a reminder that we are getting older and life moves on.

Below are pictures from the evening.

Memorial table representing our life.
Representing Gene: he enjoyed woodworking and made the bread box, played fast-pitch soft ball and was/is a farmer.
Representing Pat: Crocheting, sewing, homemaker & storekeeper. I combined my love of writing and family history and published a book on the Heatwole family history; “The Story of Melvin Jasper Heatwole and Mollie Grace Coffman”.
On each table was a vase of wildflowers and a copy of one of my printed blog books (Country Chatter) and my facebook Social Media books.
Karla Hostetter made the cupcakes
Thanks to everyone who came.
Pat and Sherill Hostetter-we were high school classmates and she is the mother of our son-in-law.

Story…. I was not allowed by my parents to attend any of our class socials or sporting events even though we were a Christian school. I was not one to disobey my parents-I was afraid to, but one time I decided to go behind their back and attend a roller skating party. I planned to go home from school with my best friend to spend the night. My guilty conscience bothered me and I decided to talk to someone about it and for some reason I chose Sherill. We were not friends but I admired her. I spilled my heart to her and she gave me wise advice, “do not do it”. Several days after I decided to cancel my deceitful plans, one of the guys in my class who went to my church approached my dad following the service and told him he was going to ask me to go skating. Dad was put on the spot and gave permission. I got to go with a free and clear conscience and with my daddy’s permission. I learned a valuable lesson that night. I never dreamed that Sherill would someday be the mother of my son-in-law. Isn’t God good!!!

Elva Bowman Miller (bridesmaid), Sharon Swartz Kisamore (Maid of Honor), Pat and Gene, Bob Hertzler (Groomsman)
The original picture of the wedding party.
Talking to my bridesmaid and maid of honor. Elva, Sharon and I have some good memories and stories!!!
Getting ready to cut the cake made by Lauren. She used my original cake topper.
Story time!
Folks that is a very mischievous laugh with a naughty thought!!! Would you believe he is being encouraged to smear my face!
He is still debating!
He was a dear and even resisted the encouraging chants of the group!
The cake was delicious.
Darrel Hostetter praying a prayer of blessing over us. Darrel and Sherill have been special to us. They were in my graduating class at EMHS and their son Obe married our daughter Jill.
Karla made the cupcakes.
Ryan, Poe Powell and Jill.
Jill and Gene talking with Lowell and Mim Haarer.

You could have a root beer ice-cream float or an ice-cream cone.

There was a story behind the ice-cream floats….. on our first date we went bowling and afterwards stopped at the food court to get something to eat and drink. I have never liked soft drinks, maybe detest them is a better description!!! Our family never bought soft drinks unless we were sick and the doctor ordered Ginger Ale. (Remember I was born a long time ago!) The only thing on the list was soft drinks and because our family also never ate out I was not very comfortable ordering. I didn’t know I could ask for water! I was to embarrassed to admit to Gene my dilemma so I bravely ordered root beer hoping I could handle it. It did not work and Gene learned my secret! So in memory of that first date, we served root beer floats but I settled for an ice-cream cone.

Cindy Rosen and her mother.
Mom and daughter
We call these two the Troublemakers,
or is it the Bobbsy Twins?
No, it is the Wonder Twins!

How many more years will we have? We do not know. We have weathered some tough storms in life; the hardest was the death of our two children. Each storm we have dug in deep and dropped our anchors in the depths of God’s care and faithfulness. It reminds me of the song, “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know who holds our hand” by Ira J. Stanphill.

I don’t know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain:
Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.

A video of our 50 years!

Celebrating Bob and Marie Hertzler

This is the story of Bob and Marie moving to Powhatan in June 1960 that I shared at Powhatan Mennonite on June 26, 2022 when we reflected on and celebrated their move from Denbigh (Newport News), Virginia to Powhatan where they knew no one.

Today we want to recognize Bob and Marie Hertzler for moving from the close knit Mennonite colony in Newport News to Powhatan 62 years ago.  Because of that move, a seed was planted for a Mennonite church, our church, right here, five years later.

Bob met Marie when he went to Eastern Mennonite High School. He recalls the day clearly. He was standing in line with his cousin to register as a junior. A beautiful girl with big brown eyes opened the door and looked in. It was a heart pounding, wow moment for Bob. He turned to his cousin and said, “Who is that girl?”  His cousin said, “Marie Kuhns”. It didn’t take long for Bob to meet Marie!

I have to tell one story from their dating.  On one of their dates Bob stopped the car on the bank of the James River. He turned to Marie and said, “Do you mind if I kiss you?” Marie responded, “I don’t care.” Bob said, “Then I won’t!” Marie said, “I never said that again!!!”

Bob was raised on a dairy farm in Denbigh and was working there when they got married. They soon moved to Fishersville, VA where he served his IW (Military Alternate Service). Moving back to Newport News, he drove a milk route. He kept smelling the earthy farming smells of tilled land, mowed hay and cows and he longed to get back into farming.

It was no longer feasible to farm in rapidly growing Newport News and those with interest in farming were setting their sights on more rural land to the west.  Bob found acreage on Mill Quarter Rd. called Fighting Creek Farm where he could build a dairy.  In June 1960, he and Marie with their two sons, Bobby and Tony, left the close-knit Mennonite Colony of Newport News and settled in a very rural Powhatan County where they knew no one. Bob said he was always impressed that Marie was willing to leave her new three-bedroom brick rancher that they built. Bob says they were very welcomed into the county and soon began to build friendships with neighbors and became an integral part of community life.

Tucked back in the woods with an almost mile long driveway they set up housekeeping in an 1800’s style Plantation House. Marie never liked the house. She felt isolated and the driveway would get very muddy. The house had very high ceilings and was impossible to heat. That fall Bob sent Marie to Richmond to buy a heater. She found a deal on a used Sieger heater with a blower. It only really kept one room somewhat warm. It was so cold in the winter and very hard with two little boys to keep warm.  

A first they alternated between First Mennonite Church in Richmond and May Memorial Baptist Church in the village where they felt very welcomed. But they longed for a local Mennonite church fellowship.  It wasn’t long until other Mennonites began moving into the area. 

Jim and Miriam Tennafoss Family

About the same time that the Hertzlers were settling in Powhatan, Jim and Miriam Tennafoss from Chesapeake moved to Amelia. They became close friends.

 In 1957, newlyweds Wally and Dorcas Schaefer had already left Denbigh and settled on a farm in Middlesex County, east of Richmond. They often traveled to Powhatan in their white Cadillac to spend the night and visit with Bob and Marie. They, too, were longing for a church fellowship. Wally was also feeling the urge to try his hand at dairy farming.

Wally, Dorcas, Trish and Carol Schaefer

In early 1961 Lloyd Weaver bought a farm on Brauer Rd and Byron and Mary Alice Hertzler moved up to farm.  The farm later was managed by the Ranck family.  In 1962, Bob’s brother, Ray, who had been in volunteer service in Florida, came to help on the farm. He later bought into the business and became a faithful, loyal partner.  By 1962, baby Cheryl had joined their family and the number of families had increased to four when Wally and Dorcas decided to move from Middlesex to Powhatan. This was an exciting time for Bob and Marie. Marie says they planned their lives together; it was wonderful to have the fellowship of kindred spirits and playmates for the children.   It became a natural thing to want to fellowship together in church.

In April of 1962 Bishop Truman Brunk from in Newport News visited the community to investigate plans to start a church. Truman was encouraged and appointed a local committee, Bryon Hertzler, Bob Hertzler and Jim Tennefoss. Marie Hertzler was appointed to keep records of the proceedings. They now had the blessing of their home church, Warwick River Mennonite, to move forward.

They found a plot of land across the road from our current location but when they went to the lawyer to sign the papers, the seller said that an addendum would be added that no black person would ever be allowed to attend the church. This was still during the time of racial segregation and tension. Bob in his wisdom and foresight said, “That will not work” and the men walked away from the purchase.

A short time later Bob was telling a neighbor about the ordeal and the neighbor said that he thought the plot across the road, our current location, might be for sale. The owner, Warner H. Ragland lived in New Jersey and had planned to move to Powhatan, but those plans fell through. They contacted Mr. Ragland and he agreed to sell. The deed was signed August 23, 1962.

On March 31, 1963, a group of 29 people including children met at Byron Hertzler’s’ home for the first Sunday School. This was a momentous occasion for the group and was the first official meeting of PMC.  At first, they rotated in homes but were anxious to have a permanent place to worship.

Drawing with names of the above picture. #1 name that is cut off is Mary Alice Hertzler.
First meeting place on Schroeder Road.

In May 1963 the group started meeting in a small cinderblock building on Schroeder Rd. owned by Bob’s dad and grandpa Hertzler. Lewis Burkholder Jr. was appointed pastor. He was a dairy farmer in Newport News and he and Helen could travel to Powhatan on Sundays between milkings to pastor the congregation. Later (June 15, 1966) they purchased a farm on Rocky Ford Road and the Burkholders moved to Powhatan.

Digging the foundation for the first church.
The women also helped.
First service was held March 28, 1965

It would be a year and a half (September 4, 1964) until the foundation was dug and construction begun. In that period of time, numerous other families had arrived; Marvin and Fern Hertzler, Nathan and Laura Layman, Sam and Dorothy Powell and their children, and Harold Alderfer. Seven months later, on March 28, 1965, the first service was held in their new building which consisted of a meeting room and six Sunday School classes. Bob and Marie’s longing and vision for a church fellowship had become a reality.

In the next three years more families and their children arrived including Art and Phoebe Ranck, Bill and Bertha Schaefer, Eli & Irene Miller, Sylvanus and Mildred Moyer which included Ronnie and Dave, and Gene Hertzler creating a vibrant, growing congregation with children and youth.

The next two pictures showing the growth and building additions of PMC.

1982: The new addition totally enclosed the original structure and included a new sanctuary, three additional classrooms, pastor’s office and bathrooms.
2013: Atrium and Gym were added.

Fortunately, Bob and Marie had the blessing and support of their family, friends, and home church, and it was natural for others to be attracted to their community. Bob and Marie, today we thank you for sensing God’s leading and following your dream. It is because of your daring and adventuresome spirit we can worship together as a church community here in Powhatan.

Bob finally got to have that kiss! He never dreamed on that long ago day that he would have many opportunities to sit on the banks of the James River with his sweetheart, just 100 miles upstream and also have a cabin there.

 I would like to end with the verse on the front of your bulletin. I think it very fitting as we reflect on the impact of Bob and Marie’s life and the future of PMC. This is not their church and I have never heard them claim it to be. They had a longing and vision, and that vision will continue long after they are gone.

2017

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

« Older entries
%d bloggers like this: