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I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. -Mother Teresa

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pennsylvania

I thought I'd begin my letters from every state today. :) 
Fun FactPennsylvania is the first state of the fifty United States to list their web site URL on a license plate.
Pennsylvania was the 2nd state in the USA; it became a state on December 12, 1787. 
State Abbreviation - PA
State Capital - Harrisburg
Largest City - Philadelphia
Area - 46,058 square miles [Pennsylvania is the 33rd biggest state in the USA]
Population - 12,281,054 (as of 2000) [Pennsylvania is the sixth most populous state in the USA, after California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois]


Anyway, my high school pen pal went to Creation Fest in 2005 & sent me this postcard:



I just went to the website & found out that one of this year's Creation Fests started this week & the other will be in the coming month.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Share Your Love of Writing



A journal entry from my sister:



I love looking back at old journal entries! This one is particularly appropriate for this blog, I think, because it is an example of how other people have encouraged me to write. I'd like to thank my sister for, on numerous occasions, reminding me to write in my journal and for always replying to my letters, my mom for telling me to "write it down" when I shared with her a cute story about one of my five children, and my grandma for starting my letter-writing obsession early. To those reading this blog, I encourage you to share your love of writing with others and inspire a young person in your life to write by sending them letters and always replying to theirs!

-Kristi Kritter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Germany

Mrs. Barbara has once again provided me with a delightful surprise to support one of my dreams for the blog...to have a letter from every country. :) I never would've expected a letter from Germany to be the first one I got, & I definitely wouldn't have expected to have one written in this beautiful German! Fun Fact: You would have to try one kind of German bread per day for almost a whole year in order to be able to taste them all! There are over 300 different kinds of bread in Germany.



I couldn't tell you what the letter says.  At the time I got it, I had a german neighbor who translated it for me.
A little background: 
In 1965, Frank was stationed in Germany.  I went there to be with him.  He had to have living quarters for us before we could go there and there were none available in the government housing area, so he rented an upstairs apt from a lady in Kandel, Germany.  Her name was Luise Metz.  We called her Frau Metz.  We already had two boys one 4 and one 2 and I was seven months pregnant with our 3rd child when I went to Germany.  Our daughter was born a month after I got there.  She had a lot of problems at birth and when she was about 2 days old they dismissed me from the hospital, but she had to stay there for a couple of more weeks.  I went back to our apt in Kandel with the boys.  I was in quite a lot of pain (breast pain due to milk) and Frau Metz saw the pain and discomfort I was in.  I tried to communicate to her that I wanted a breast pump to releieve some of the pressure, but instead she brought a German Midwife in to minister to me. I had no idea of what they were saying or what she was going to do; but it worked.  We moved from her place before our daughter was dismissed from the hospital, but when she was six months old, we went back to visit Frau Metz.  She was so glad to see us and to see the baby.  She had bought a cute little German outfit for her.  Over the years,I kept in touch with her and sent her letters and Christmas cards until one year we got a letter from one of her friends saying that she had passed away. 
-Barbara

Monday, June 27, 2011

1868

So far, this is the oldest letter I have. It's written in an old volume of Shakespeare that a professor at my college owns.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Mama

 When I showed my blog to my mom, she rummaged around until she came across this one from my sister when she was almost 16.
Mama doesn't remember calling her lazy. She felt so bad when she saw that. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Dearest Wife


 The wait is over! As promised, here is the first letter Mrs. Barbara's husband sent her after their wedding:

 
This letter is dated Oct. 29, twenty-one days after we were married. Frank was never much of a letter writer.  He could never think of anything to say in his letters. I wish that I had kept all the letters he sent me.  Unfortunately, I didn't.  He much rather preferred to call me on the telephone.  He had just called and talked to me before he wrote this letter.  Telephone calls from him usually didn't cost much at all.  I remember calls he made when he was in Viet Nam.  These calls came via radio where everytime we said something we had to end it by saying "Over".  There was always a third party present.  The radio operator.  I never liked those calls because of the radio operator.  I was shy and it embarrassed me to talk to Frank with the other person present.  One such call, the reception was bad.  We kept saying "What? Over" Frank said "I Love You" and I said "What?" and the radio operator said "I Love You". I said "I Love you Too" and the radio operator told Frank, "I Love you Too".  Later we would laugh about that, but at the time it was embarrassing to me.
-Barbara

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love, Papa



I bought him this stationery. :)

The blue paper is the outside of the stationery I bought him.

In celebration of Father's Day, this is a letter from my dad. I'm not able to spend the day with him because I'm out of town, so I miss him very much! Even though this song is not to the dad, I wanted to post it because I feel like it's our song. I loved it the first time I heard; I always feel like it's my dad saying the words to me, esp. since one day it came on the radio, & he made sure I listened. So it's even more special now that I know for sure that he agrees with what the song says. :) Yes, Papa, I know I'll always be your little girl! And I'm so glad. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Journaling for J.O.Y.

After reading some other articles on journaling, I was reminded of the persuasive speech I did in college. I found what I emailed to my professor & decided to share it here:


26 November 2007
She sits alone in her room with no noise but is still
distracted when she tries to pray. After starting over several times,
she finally ends the prayer quickly feeling more distant from God than
before her attempt to pray.

He grieves the loss of a loved one and wishes he could know
how they felt about certain situations. He wishes he could remember
their words of wisdom or have their perspective of times they had
shared.

Then there is you: lying in bed after a long day, yet unable to fall asleep. 
You're thinking of things you should have said,
should not have said, or hope to say the next day. You make sure there'
nothing you forgot to do in the rush of the day & that you
know what you're doing tomorrow. You wake up to find that you wasted all that
time wondering and worrying because you forgot what you needed to
remember anyway.

All of these situations could be avoided by journaling. I'm familiar with the many 
benefits because I have
completed at least 9 journals myself in the past 5 or 6 years. But
right now I am going to focus on JOY: how journaling helps your
relationship with Jesus, Others, and even Yourself.

First of all, I've experienced all of those situations at some point.
I don't think there's anyone who can say there isn't some point that 
they've been distracted in their prayer life. Also, is there anyone who 
doesn't miss a loved one who's passed awayAnd, according to the 
American College Health Association,
it takes us about 25 minutes to fall asleep.
That is why writing in a journal is so important for everyone. 


You're probably thinking that you already have a busy
schedule to say the least. Being a fellow college student, I know what
you mean. However, the benefits are so great, that I try to make time
for it every day.
   
One benefit is that it helps me stay focused when I pray. It keeps me from
just say things out of habit over and over. I really think
about what I am saying. Then when I read them years later, I see how
God answered some of those prayers.

I have been fortunate enough not to have anyone in my
immediate family die. However, if they do go before me, I would
cherish any journals they had written. There are people from my church
that have died, and since I have kept a journal, there are things I
had written about them that now I can read and remember some of what
we have been through together. I have even written journals to people.
I gave one to my mom when I left for college. I did one for a friend's
birthday. And I almost finished one for my brother. All but one or two of
you told me that you think you might have children some day. The
legacy that a journal would leave for them or your grandchildren would
be priceless. You could still have a voice in their lives even when you're gone. 
Family members who were born after you died could have a chance to get to
know you and learn from your experience.

In the movie Freedom Writers (which is based on a true
story), the English teacher gets her students to write in a journal 
about their lives and involvement in gangs. They could write poetry or
draw pictures. That's another great thing about journaling--it's
very personal; you can fill it however you want so that it is not boring
or stressful to you.

In fact, writing in a journal has helped me deal with anger
and depression in a healthy way since my parents' divorce last year.
In the book Journaling: A Spiritual Journey, it says, "There's
something about actually putting words on paper that clears my mind.
As I think through what I want to say, I realize what I'm feeling. And
somehow I feel better" (Anne Broyles 10).


Now let's go back to the people I talked about in the beginning.
  
She sits on her bed with notebook and pen, writing about her
day, the things she needs help with, and what she is thankful for. She
hardly even notices the mess she needs to clean or the homework she
needs to do. All of that can wait while she spends time with Jesus.


As he goes through his loved one's things, he comes across a journal
He takes a moment to read it and begins to laugh as he
remembers the crazy things they had done and the jokes they had
shared. He was glad that during their life, this person had thought of
Others.


Now imagine you--lying in bed, writing all your thoughts and
activities in a journal. Then you quickly fall asleep relatively
worry-free, knowing that the best thing you can do about your
situations at the moment is get some sleep. The next morning you wake
up and review your journal to remember all you need to do. A few years
later, you read it again seeing how far you have come. You are
thankful that you wrote in a journal for Yourself.



I hope that each of you will decide to journal for J.O.Y.)
Making this happen is cheap and easy since all you need is a
pen and some paper. You could even start one on the computer. The EC
email actually has a folder for journaling.


Because you never know when your time will come, don't
hesitate to begin a journal today. (Or continue one you've already begun.)



Here are some questions I had to answer for the speech:

Q 1. Which do you recommend most--journaling on computer or on paper?


A 1. I recommend journaling on paper because it can be taken anywhere.
I especially love to write outside. If you have a laptop, that's
great, but a notebook is still lighter, cheaper, and less breakable.
Plus, I prefer looking at paper because it is more relaxing than
staring at a screen. I also like having things in my own handwriting.
Sometimes I write so fast that it's hardly legible, but that could be
a good thing if I did not want anyone to read it.


Q 2. Do you ever get scared that someone will read it?


A 2. When I first started, I was a little paranoid about that, but I
have found that people really respect my privacy. I usually have the 
journal I am currently writing in with me so I don't have to worry too
much about anyone reading it. Although I would not like for someone to
snoop around reading my old journals, it does not scare me so much
because if they ask me about something I wrote, I can just say, "Oh,
well, that was a long time ago. Things have changed." You can, of
course, buy some journals with locks on them. They even have the
invisible pens now where the writing only shows up when you shine a
certain light on it, but I like being able to see everything I have
written.



If you have any other questions, I'd be glad to try to answer them.

Dear Grandpa

I'm so glad to be able to share a little bit of my sister & her awesomeness each week. She has so much experience to share from raising her 5 children from about age 10 to age 5 (twin five-year-olds, at that). She also has a lot of wisdom because she's always searching for ways & tips & ideas to be a better wife & mother & person. I'm so blessed to be one of the avenues that she uses to pass on all she's learned. -MCS







I think it is so important to let the people in our lives know how much we appreciate them. After my grandpa died, I couldn't remember ever letting him know how much he meant to me. As I shared at his funeral how much he'd influenced my life, I thought how sad it was that I didn't share those words with him while he was still with us. A couple of years later, after my grandma passed away, I found this letter among the ones they had saved from my sister and me. It brought such a feeling of warmth and love as I realized I had thanked him and as I re-lived those memories once again.
-Kristi Kritter

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dear "Aunt" Megan

This letter is from one of my mom's many awesome friends. I always looked forward to seeing her (& still do now) even though it wasn't very often. I love her voice & her smile...just her presence in general. She is a precious, beautiful woman that I'm so very grateful for. She was always so uplifting & exciting.

Mrs. Mary wrote on that chair in the yard on card:
"Reserved for Mary"
I love it! :)

The back of the card & envelope.


The niece who made me an aunt for the first time was born a week later. :)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

August 15, 2005


This journal was from my high school teacher.
 It may have been one of the prizes in cute little bags
 that she hung from the ceiling
& gave to us when we had earned enough points.
The pages of this one smell good. :) 
 So, this journal entry is kinda weird & embarrassing & boring. But many of my journal entries are quirky like that, & people have often asked me what I write in my journals. Well, here's a tidbit. :) I was trying to find something suitable in a hurry because I'll be at camp all next week & unable to work on them. I'm trying to get a few ready so that I can just post them from my phone.
Part One of entry 8/15/05 
 
Here's the rest of that journal entry.
It was at the beginning of my senior year of high school.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

1 Timothy 6:16

The author of this journal entry made all the money I spent on college worth it just to gain her friendship! Though we only attended at the same time for a year and a half, our friendship has grown and lasted partly thanks to writing letters back & forth during the times we weren't together. She's much better at writing with elegance than I am, not just in letters & poetry but also in short stories. I'm certain that she will be a frequent guest on the blog, so I'll save more to say about her for later. :) She's starting off her time here with a letter to God in the form of a poem:

The title "I Timothy 6:16" is the verse talking about God which says "...who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see." I wrote the poem during a time when I was dreaming about what it would actually be like to be in "unapproachable light" with God for even a microsecond. For the longest time the only sensation I could come up with being in the presence of such holiness was an explosion. But then I began to imagine the stillness of God. I was so awestruck at the idea of God being so turbulent and yet so still that I could not help but write about it. The "poem" as it is in my journal is very rough (as you can tell), so I decided to revise it for the blog. 
-Reina

This is the original (page 1)

The original (page 2)

Here's the revision made especially for this blog:

I Timothy 6:16
ϗ
You. Apart. Separated. Yes, 
You dwell with and among us in the ever moving orbit of time. But 
You are also outside. Yes, 
You dwell in heaven among the angels and 
Your light is perhaps seen more clearly there, for it is in the revelation of
Your light that some can praise 
You stronger, better, fuller. But 
You are still outside, apart. There is that little bit of some of 
You which we cannot know, because to know it would be as if we were like 
You. So
 You ever dwell with us nearby, but unapproachably far away. So I must know
You in the glimpses that I catch, never enough, but it should be that way. 
You would not be 
You if I could ever know everything there is to know, and I love 
You the better for it. What would I do? Honestly? To be caught up in 
You, apart, outside, to exist for even a moment in the 
Turbulent 
Light and 
Devastating
Stillness that makes up
You? Unfathomable the completeness of
I AM. Impossible for the imperfect yet perfect creation to comprehend the depths of the 
Creator. Woe is me, the prophet cried, and he had not even touched the surface of 
I AM. Forgive us for believing that we have any control.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dear Barbara-Love, Frank

Well, one of my dreams from the blog has already come true. I suppose the section could more appropriately be called Letters from Soldiers, since some of them won't be in a war. But I think I like "from War" better because it's shorter but also because of Mark Shultz' song:



Just one more reason that shows what a difference a letter can make long after the writer is gone. (Mark Shultz wrote that song after reading a letter to his great grandma from one of her sons in World War II.) 

Anyway, I'm really excited about sharing this next letter for many reasons. I met Mrs. Barbara at my mom's church years ago, & I still clearly remember standing in line at Subway after service one afternoon with her & her husband, Mr. Frank, in line behind us. We were just beginning to really get to know them, so I was surprised when they said they were buying our meal. I think my mom said something about them seeming like a second set of parents for her. I instantly agreed that they seemed like another set of grandparents for me. They lived closer than my grandparents, & I never knew my mom's real mother. So it was nice to have The Goulds. Even though there were many other older couples that I'm so glad to have in my life, I'd never felt like any others were even close to being like grandparents. There is one more lady now whom I met in college (Dr. Miller), but I'm sure more will come up about her later.

As for Mrs. Barbara, I can't describe how much I love her. When she sent me this letter, I wanted to go straight to see her so I could give her a hug! I'm so honored that she's allowed me to share this on my blog. 
-MCS
This is the first letter Mrs. Barbara received from Frank.  It was in July of 1959,
before they married. He'd just joined the Army & was in training when he sent it.
I love this especially because I've been to Ft. Jackson with Singers,
& it was one of the best, most memorable days I had with Singers.
Hopefully I can find a journal entry about it to post soon.
P. S. Note that the postage was 4 cents! :)
AND no zip codes! 



The story behind the letter (as told by Mrs. Barbara):

Frank was already in the army 3 years and was discharged.  His family had moved to the community where my family lived.  My mother was the postmaster at the small 4th class post office in the community, and I worked in the post office part-time for her.  (She was the post master there for over 40 years).  Anyway, when Frank got out of the army,his dad kept telling him to go to the post office and meet that good looking girl there.  

Well, Frank was a little bit wild in those days and he had an ID he purposely messed up and brought to me (since I had a typewriter) and asked me to type his birth date on the ID.  The date he gave me made him 21 yrs old and he was actually 20 years old.  He had to be 21 in order to go into bars and drink.  Well I didn't know any better, so I changed the date for him, and then he started calling me asking me to go out with him.  He asked me 2 times and both times I made up an excuse and told him no.  The 3rd time, I decided I would tell him yes when he asked me to go out with him.  I didn't know at the time that he had decided if I turned him down the 3rd time, then he wasn't going to bother asking me out again.  (God works in mysterious ways).  

So this was in January 1959.  I graduated high school in May 1959 I had plans to go college, was accepted to college and was just waiting through the summer to start in the fall (I was going to be a school teacher).  Well Frank and I met in January, had our first date in May.  We went to the movies.  In those days there were drive-in movies where you sat in the car and watched the movies. The first movie we saw was "The Fly".  He tried kissing me on the first date, but I ate onions before we went out (purposely) and that pretty much put an end to the kissing.  

We dated the summer of 1959 which consisted pretty much of going swimming in the river that ran past my house.  In July, he knew he wanted to marry me but he couldn't find a job, so he re-enlisted in the army.  He asked me to marry him.  My mother told me I couldn't do both, go to college and get married, that I had to choose one, so I chose to get married.  

We were married October 8, 1959.  The old people in my home town always said our marriage wouldn't last because Frank was so wild and I was a "nice" girl.  That made me mad and I said well I will just show them and we both looked forward to the 50th anniversary to prove everyone wrong.  

We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversay October 8, 2009.  Twelve days later on October 20, Frank passed away. I believe that Frank hung onto life just for me until our 50th anniversary, then he let go and passed on to go home with the Lord.  We had 50 good years together and I still to this day miss him terribly.  Life just never seemed worth living without him and I look forward to the day that I join him in heaven.

P.S.  I have the first letter he wrote to me after we were married if you want it too.

(I knew none of that story until she sent the email to me! And, don't worry, I told her that I do indeed want the first letter he wrote her after their wedding. So, keep checking back to see if it's up yet. :) It might be sometime next week. -MCS)

The Granddaughter's Big Day

Even though these pictures have
nothing to do with this story,
I just couldn't wait to put them up!

Monday I went to the post office with
my friend & was pleasantly surprised
to find that this is what the P. O. Boxes
look like! They're so old, but people
still use them.
I wish mine looked like that! 

This story has a couple of sections 
that I adapted from my journals, 
so I thought it would be appropriate for the blog. :)
I wrote it for a creative writing class that I took in college.

The Granddaughter's Big Day 
      Walking down the aisle, I don't fully take in the scene of red carpet and padded pews. Normally I'd admire the flower arrangements, but today I don't notice any. Instead, I'm beginning to comprehend the reality and finality of it all. I manage to keep the tears from falling from my honey-brown eyes as I notice the gathering of family and close friends and then look straight ahead towards the altar, focusing on the man I love. I admire his blue eyes rimmed with glasses, his trimmed white beard, and most of all his child-like grin.
      All eyes are not on me--and I'm glad. I slip into a pew, sitting beside my older sister, Kristi. Moisture continues to fill my eyes until they can hold no more, and the tears silently make their way down my cheeks. I don't bother wiping them away; I'm surprised I've kept them in this long.
      I look again at the man I love, or rather just a picture of him. That's all I will ever see of him from now on. Pictures. I have a picture now in my mind of just a few weeks earlier--the last time I saw him….
      He'd greeted me at the brown swinging doors to their basement. With his arms open wide and a twinkle in his eye, he had said with a smile, “Come 'ere and gimme a big squeeze.” Feeling as special as I'd always been told I was, I gladly consented. What if I bring pain to his nearly ninety-year-old body? I remember asking myself. But his old body surprised me by feeling thick and firm as I wrapped my arms around him and my hands pressed against the back of his soft, thin shirt. I hadn't seen him in such good health since long before Thanksgiving.
      After our hug, I sat at the card table with my aunt and grandmother in the spacious, dimly lit room. They pointed out that Grandpa is good at appearing to be reading while in fact being asleep. I glanced at him slumping comfortably on the love-seat in his worn, flannel shirt and khaki pants with suspenders--book open in hand. Eyes closed. I didn't wake him to say goodbye; instead, I took a mental snapshot of his amusing posture and left…
      The worship leader's strong baritone voice finishes “Amazing Grace,” and I take a deep breath. On cue I walk to the wooden stage which my black high-heels clop across, filling the solemn silence until I stop in front of the metal podium. My sister stands beside me and describes the highlights of a typical visit spent with this great man:
      “He and Grandma would take me on walks…”
      They took me on walks, tooI once jumped over a puddle and caused a small uproar among them as they saw me land an inch above it--one arm rescued me from getting mud all over myself. I instead got it only on that hand.    
      “…I remember the early-morning feeling when I'd wake up and hear them in the kitchen….”
      I look down as she says this because it's one of my favorite memories--something so ordinary that it's taken for granted until it's gone.
      “…It was always so calm and quiet--no air conditioner running--and I'd always smell coffee.” Here, Kristi smiles and breathes in as if she can smell it this very moment. She continues, “I don't drink it very often, but I've been known to make a cup just for the smell.
      “I usually wanted oatmeal for breakfast because Grandpa always made it just right...with raisins, brown sugar, and milk. I loved washing dishes back then and always got to do that at their house….” 
      Returning my gaze to my sister as I listen, I smile at how our experiences differ here. They always picked on me about never doing the dishes.
      “…Playing cards and dominos was fun, too, but as I got older, looking at all the photo albums was my favorite thing.  I've never known anybody with as many photo albums as Grandpa!”
      I force myself not to let my mind wonder to all of my favorite pictures in his albums. 
      “…Looking at pictures from his and Grandma's trips instilled in me an appreciation for this beautiful country. I realize more and more that a lot of who I am is because of Grandpa.”
      She signals to the sound guy that she's done speaking. Getting nervous, I blink back the tears and look down at my notes, hoping everything goes as smoothly for me as it did for her. The music begins, and the words sung by her soothing, soprano voice help the family recall the man who is to some “Gramps,” to others “Dad,” and to one “Husband.” The lyrics remind them of the simplicity in the things he loved. I join her in singing the first song I've ever sung for a funeral.
      Then it's my turn to speak.
      Standing before my grieving family, I take on the responsibility of bringing some closure to them. I rustle the pages in front of me, thinking of my brother who will try celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday tomorrow. Looking at my notes to avoid anymore eye contact, I tell my story about Grandpa….
      He had insisted that Grandma stop. She then insisted that he remove her hat from his head. That was an understandable request since the hat was pink and he was going out in public. “I don't understand why you like to wear that old thing anyway,” she said questioningly.
      “It makes me feel like I'm in the shade,” he explained.
      I, who had been quietly observing everything from the backseat, let out a laugh at that remark. The wide brim did indeed create a bit of shade.
      He removed the hat, slowly unbuckled his seatbelt with a click, and opened the heavy door. As he got out and walked to his destination of looking at campers that were for sale on the side of the road, his wife noticed a problem. “Meggie,” she strained her weak voice in order to speak loudly enough for me to hear. “Go catch that man and hook his suspenders before his pants fall down!” Sensing the urgency, I rush out of the car--no time for laughing. I run towards him noticing that one side is hooked and it's no real emergency, but I continue to hurry. After stopping him, I finally break into out-of-breath laughter. He's a little startled and confused at first but waits patiently as I finish fastening the strap. When I leave him with his “shopping,” he goes on as if nothing had happened. I hop back into the backseat and close the door with a thud to watch him from the car window…. 
      The memory fades from my mind and, staring at the red carpet speckled with stitches of charcoal black, I remember where I am. I had chosen that story from my journal in order to make myself laugh so that I could continue through the next sad song without crying.
      Even when I chose that story, I hadn't known just how overwhelming the emotion of this day would be at this moment. But as I spoke I realized that this was a big day: The day I had a clear view of my oldest brother's strong face--red, puffy, and wet with tears. The day my father gripped my small hand in his, grasping it longer than he ever had, as if his only strength at that moment was coming from me. This was the day I walked into my grandfather's funeral.


Me with Grandpa,
looking at one of his photo albums in his chair.
(This picture was in my sister's scrapbook, that's why it's shaped the way it is.)