Friday, April 18, 2014

The Writing Class

Every other year I teach a writing class at Brownsville Mennonite School where Jenny attends and Paul is principal.  We meet about twice a week for ten weeks.
This year's class had six girls and two boys.  We met in the church balcony.
My goal is always to get them over that "I can't write" mountain blocking their way.  If they come to the end of the classes feeling like they can take the ideas in their head and put them into words and then put the words on paper, I've been successful.

My biggest success remains our fine son Ben, who used to hate writing assignments so much that he would put them off way too long and then bring them home for homework.  When he had no choice but to get it done, he would flop on the couch, writhing and groaning and clutching his stomach like he was dying of appendicitis.  "I. . . juuuussstttt. . . cannnnntttt. . . dooooo. . . thiiiiiiisssss!!"

I demonstrated this to the class the other day, sitting up and very much toning it down, but they still looked at me with shocked and disturbed faces.

But Ben learned to not fear writing assignments and to analyze his ideas and gel them into sentences and set them in order on a paper, all while remaining calm and controlled.

My biggest success.  If he can, then so can anyone.

This week was the final class for this year.  As is customary, I told the kids to bring snacks, but all but one forgot, so we had Doritos, brownies, and tea.



What a fun bunch they have been.

Jenny
There was an old lady named June
Who had dinner on top of the mooon.
But to her dismay
It just floated away.
So she said, "I'll be going back soon."
(by Jenny)
Trenton, who now believes me that I will post his picture just like this.
 Every year I have the kids write four-line poems describing each other.  Last week was a shower for Kayla Baker who is marrying Paul's nephew Justin next month.  I was told I can share some memories and thoughts at the shower, and I got to thinking....was there any chance?  With some digging I found it, the poem Justin had written about Kayla, seven years ago in writing class.


Kayla is a Baker
in more ways than one,
and when you eat something she made
it is very fun.

So I read it at the shower.  Sadly, I couldn't find the one Kayla had written about Justin.

I told the current class that who knows, I might do the same with their handiwork, some day.  They looked at each other and emphatically said, no, that wasn't happening.  Well, I said.  We will see. 
Ashley, Deana, Jenny

Janane and Eunice who prefers to go by Jess.  Jess homeschools but joined us for the class.


 "Jess" by Janane

Jess is very nice
but usually very quiet.
But when she gets going
She really is a riot.


Mikala
 It seems that I have a reputation for waving my hands around when I talk.  This wasn't part of the curriculum, but I seem to have taught it well.

Trenton and Caleb

 from "David and Goliath" by Trenton, Caleb, and Mikala:
JESSE: Daaavviiid oh Dddddaaavidd where are you?
DAVID; Over here pops.
JESSE: Oh good I need you to run down to the battlefield like a good little boy and take this food to your brothers
DAVID: MMmmmmm smells like Buffalo Wild Wings!!!

(Later in Scene 3)
DAVID: Hey guys what's up?
BROTHER 3: Nothing much just fighting and killing people.
BROTHER 2: Hey what's that good smell?
DAVID: It's Buffalo Wild Wings!
ALL BROTHERS TOGETHER: Oh boy!

Deana and Jenny
Caleb and Mikala
 Quote of the Day:
Trenton: What's wrong with this one?
Me: You were supposed to write a 4-line poem.  That has only three.
Trenton: It's haiku.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Things I Was Sent

People send me the nicest things.

After Sunday's column on daffodils, a reader named Gil Osgood sent me the Wordsworth poem entitled, simply, "Daffodils."



I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.



Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.



The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:



For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.


I wondered why I had never run across this gem before.  It just Says It, which good poetry ought to do.

A young writer-lady from New York named Angela Zehr sent me an old story by William E. Barton called The Millionaire and the Scrublady.

  There is a certian Millionaire, who hath his Offices on the Second Floor of the First National Bank Building. And when he goeth up to his Offices he rideth in the Elevator, but when he goeth down, he walketh.
    And he is an haughty man, who was once poor and hath risen in the World. He is a self-made Man who worshipeth his maker.

    And he payeth his Rent regularly on the first day of the month, and he considereth not that there are Human Beings who run the Elevators, and who Clean the Windows, hanging at a great height above the Sidewalk, and who shovel Coal into the furnace under the Boilers. Neither doth he at Christmas time remember any of them with a Tip or a Turkey.

    And there is in that Building a Poor Woman who Scrubbeth the Stairs and the Halls. And he hath walked past her often but hath never seen her until Recently. For his head was high in the air and he was thinking of More Millions.

    Now it came to pass that on a day that he left his Office, and started to walk down the Stairs.

    And the Scrublady was halfway down; for she had begun at the top and was giving the stairs their first Onceover. And upon the topmost Stair, in a wet and soapy spot, there was a Large Cake of Soap. And the Millionaire stepped on it.

    Now the foot which he set upon the Soap flew eastward toward the sunrise, and the other foot started on an expedition of its own toward the going down of the Sun. And the Millionaire sat down on the Topmost Step, but he did not remain there. As it had been his intention to Descend, so he Descended, but not in the manner of his Original Design. And as he descended he struck each step with a sound as if he had been a Drum.

    And the Scrublady stood aside courteously, and let him go.

    And at the bottom he arose, and considered whether he should rush into the Office of the Building and demand that the Scrublady be fired; but he considered that if he should tell the reason there would be great Mirth among the occupants of the Building. And so he held his peace.

    But since that day he taketh notice of the Scrublady, and passeth her with Circumspection.

    For there is none so high and mighty that he can afford to ignore any of his fellow human beings. For a very Humble Scrublady and a very common bar of Yellow Soap can take the mind of a Great Man off his Business Troubles with surprising rapidity.

    Wherefore, consider these things, and count not thyself too high above even the humblest of the children of God.

    Lest haply thou come down from thy place of pride and walk off with thy bruises aching a little more by reason of thy suspicion that the Scrublady is Smiling in her Suds, and facing the day's work the more cheerfully by reason of the fun thou hast afforded her.

    For these are solemn days, and he that bringeth a smile to the face of a Scrublady hath not lived in vain.

I did a bit of hunting to see if the story was by a long-ago author or a modern author ignorant of OSHA regulations and trying to sound long-ago-ish.  I soon found that Mr. Barton's middle initial stands for Eleazer, which tells you everything you need to know about what era he's from.


I do love stories, and especially old ones.

Then, Nature and a sunny day sent me a little chickadee who spent most of three days attacking his reflection in my office window in wild displays of flapping, pounding, and fluttering.  "More skull than brains," was Ben's assessment of this determined creature.  I can only imagine what the bird's wife had to say.  She'd come by now and then and sit in the bare branches of the camellia bush to check on him and keep him company as he rested from another round.

As Mrs. Chickadee watched Mr., you could sort of sense the mounting tension in their marriage as the look on her face said, "Aren't you about DONE?" and,  "Seriously, let's just go HOME."  He always insisted he just needed one more round and he would win for sure--he was pretty sure the bird in the window was getting tired.

But Mrs. Chickadee had apparently read my friend Dorcas Stutzman's new book, Trust or Control,* so she wouldn't stay around and nag but instead left him to his fighting and calmly flew off to meet a friend for coffee in the redwood tree.

*Yet another thing I was sent, out of the blue, by someone just being nice.

And I got my best shot ever of a wild bird.


The final happy item I was sent was a text from my sister Margaret, which is always entertaining.  The background for this one is the post from January of 2013 in which I described going shopping at "Lizzie Wenger's," her Dutchy neighbor in Pennsylvania with all the barns and sheds full of STUFF.  I thought it qualified as:

Quote of the Day:
"I noticed yesterday shopping at Lizzy's that the regulator for the pressure cooker must be easy to steal...there was a note taped on top...SEE ME FOR THE CHICKLER."

Letter from Harrisburg--April 12

Letter from Harrisburg

Daffodils show beauty of simple acts

 
Late every winter, just at the time when we dare to hope for spring, a row of daffodils appears along Highway 99E.
Across the wide ditch to the north as we leave Harrisburg, and then to the west as the road takes a turn toward Halsey, there they go, a long thin line.
From Hayworth Seed to Fishers and their array of farm equipment, then on to Alford Cemetery in a steady progression.
On the other side of Powerline Road they take off again, bobbing their sturdy yellow and white heads in the pouring rain, dozens of them, hundreds, thousands.
A pause for Cartney Drive, then faithfully on to Lake Creek. And then, suddenly, they stop, a mile and a half short of Halsey, and the wide grassy ditch goes on without them.
Still in winter, we see dull green shoots pushing up among the vivid grass. Determined buds appear, then the pop of yellow and white opening to the gray February skies.
Through rain and wind, cold and fog, year after year.
“He being dead, yet speaketh,” the Bible says of the faithful Abel. And every spring, Bruce Witmer still speaks to us, not in any creepy sort of way, but quietly, persistently, through a thousand flowers.
“This is my legacy,” he says. “What’s yours?”
“There’s planning and dreaming about doing, and then there’s doing,” the daffodils say to me as I drive by, windshield wipers swishing. “We are the difference between. See?”
Yes, I see.
I think of upstairs hallways yet to be painted, fabric purchased but not yet sewn, elderly relatives waiting for a visit.
“One by one,” they say, heads nodding wisely on thick stems. “That’s how we got here, by one task repeated a dozen times, a hundred, a thousand.”
I think of books yet to be written, one word after another, each slotted into its place.
Of quilts stitched a tiny triangle at a time.
Of children slowly nurtured one breakfast at a time, one kind word, one little hand after another washed clean, innumerable times over.
Something in me wants the grand accomplishment, the sweeping once-and-done success, not the daily repetition of small things.
I never knew Bruce, but he must have been a master of the tiny task done faithfully, of beautiful results from careful craftsmanship.
He was a large man, I am told, a transplant from Pennsylvania Dutch country who never lost his accent.
Before retirement, he worked on a number of large buildings in the area and was proud of his work — especially, says Kenneth Birky, my brother-in-law and a fellow volunteer with Bruce at the Harrisburg Museum, of the Rubenstein’s store in Eugene and its beautiful entrance. Unfortunately, says Kenneth, a woman in high heels slipped and twisted her ankle on the tiled floor that Bruce had designed so carefully, and, after that, his handiwork was covered with a carpet.
After retirement, he worked on many projects, including incredibly detailed miniatures of well-known Oregon buildings, now on display at the Harrisburg Museum.
Like the daffodils, they also speak, of detailed planning and then of doing, of hundreds of tiny pieces of wood, shaped and carefully put in place.
Bruce’s wife died a few years before he did and was buried at Alford Cemetery.
He drove out every morning to visit her grave, Kenneth says.
No one seemed to know what gave him the idea to plant all those daffodils, but I wonder if it was that daily trek to Alford.
Mike Lutz, a former Harrisburg resident, says, “I knew Bruce as Mr. Witmer.
“In the early 1960s, when I was about 11 or 12, Bruce took over the leadership of probably 20 young hoodlums from around Harrisburg, as their Scoutmaster ... after the prior leader left town with the money we had raised to purchase supplies for a 100-mile hike.
“Bruce’s legacy spreads wide in the area. He was a builder, craftsman, friend and second father to many.”
Mike adds, “In his 1998 letter (Bruce) mentions that he planted three miles of daffodils from Harrisburg to Alford cemetery, to give it a beautiful view while driving that part of the road.”
Bruce’s yard was full of daffodils, I am told, and at first he dug up those bulbs to plant along Highway 99. Eventually he needed a lot more, so others donated theirs.
My mother-in-law, Anne Smucker, remembers digging bulbs out of the field by what is now our house and giving them to Bruce.
But he planted them all himself, Kenneth says.
I picture a large, aging man parking his car, getting out, gathering his bucket and trowel, crossing the ditch — down one side, up the other — squatting, digging, planting, moving forward another few inches.
Day after day.
How much easier it would have been to stay home and think about it instead of tying his shoes, getting in the car, going. Starting where yesterday’s work stopped. Digging and planting.
Eventually, Bruce decided to plant daffodils all the way to Halsey, a small town nine miles from Harrisburg.
He did not live long enough to finish the task.
When he didn’t show up as expected to work at the museum one weekend, museum president Iris Strutz called the police, who found him at home, alive but unconscious.
After a hospital stay, he was cared for at a nursing home. He passed away in 1999.
Now, in early April, Bruce’s daffodils have finished blooming for the year.
The tall grass will soon obscure the last of those stiff flat leaves, and then summer will come to turn them all dry and brown.
But I still hear them speaking, quiet and insistent.
There is thinking and dreaming and planning, they say. And then there is doing. Not once, but countless times over again.
And the doing is the only thing that persists, that speaks, that blooms every spring, that blesses the future with a row of beauty and faithfulness, seven miles long.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What Works for Me

I used to make fun of my Yoder aunts and their contributions to the family circle letter.

"My rheumatism was bad last week so was to the dr. and also to the chiropractor in Garnett and they both put me on more pills Ha . . ."

The "Ha" was their equivalent of a smiley face emoticon except a little more "oh really, this is just me being silly and humble."

I inherited the Yoder constitution which means I'm insanely healthy in some areas (blood pressure) and very unhealthy in others (asthma).

But in the last couple of years I've found some mostly-non-prescription solutions that actually work for various ailments, so in the interest of helping someone else, I'll share them.

[This might be TMI, so feel free to move along now.  Maybe read the news, which will be even more TMI.]

1. The flu shot. I know this one is controversial, but two years ago I had either bronchitis or its close friend four times in one winter, which of course turned into such terrible bouts of asthma that some nights I wasn't sure I'd survive and furthermore wasn't sure I wanted to.  The next two winters I got the shot and didn't get bronchitis once.  Who knows if there was a direct correlation here but I'm happy with the results.  You just can't imagine how nice it is to breathe all winter without working at it.

2. Vitamin D and St. Johns Wort.  I used to have SAD every winter.  It was like a black cloud that moved in and hung over my head from October to March, making me sluggish and tired and obsessive.  I tried prescription anti-depressants and also sitting in front of a full-spectrum light every morning.  I hated both.  When I got on a steady regimen of Vitamin D and SJW, I was much better.  Not perfect, but functional.

3. THM and Reliv's LunaRich.  More controversy I suppose, since Trim Healthy Mama is everyone's favorite fad to make fun of, and Reliv is a multi-level-marketing company.  However.  I started these at the same time and several happy things happened.  I lost 8 pounds, and my asthma was much much better on a daily basis.  The LunaRich is anti-inflammatory, and THM broke my sugar addiction.  And now I hardly ever use a rescue inhaler, and my skirts are getting loose.  Happy all around.

[Since someone asked: I generally eat THM all day and then eat a supper of real-people-food.  And I use very little of the artificial sweeteners they recommend since I don't feel well on them and have a few misgivings about long-term use.  I'd rather have a slice of good cheesecake once or twice a week than artificially sweet things every day.  I never thought I'd lose my sweet tooth but it might be happening...]

4. Evening Primrose Oil.  With the above delightful results, I thought maybe I'd phase out some of the other supplements I'd been taking.  So as they ran out, I didn't re-order.  You may recall how I suddenly started getting these massive hot flashes.  I finally did the math....ok....isn't it a bit odd that these things are all of a sudden this severe instead of getting worse over a long time?  Maybe I quit taking something I should have kept on with.

I checked.  I had quit taking Evening Primrose Oil a few weeks before.  So I bought more and started in.  Voila`!  No more hot flashes.  And I can wear my chic little wool jacket again.

I am not telling you that you ought to do any of this.  But I'd love to help someone with similar troubles. Ha.

Quote of the Day:
"Maybe you should write about playing Boggle and then tie it in with some deep thing in life."
--Jenny, when I couldn't think of anything to write about for my newspaper column. And now you're all going to know how contrived my columns can get.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another Sample from Writing Class

"Revise a Bible story to make a drama," I said.  "You can put it in a modern setting."  The class divided into twos and threes for this project and handed the finished products in today. I found this one amusing and a bit too true to life.  [Except of course I don't wave my hands around.  They made that up.] And I didn't catch on to the Biblical parallel until the very end.  You'll probably be sharper.



Tales of Writing Class

Written by Janane Doutrich and Jenny Smucker
                                                
Cast of Characters:
Mrs. Smucker
Kayla
Janie
Jae
Trent
Caleb
Ash
Deana
Curt
                                         Scene 1
(Thursday afternoon)
Mrs. Smucker: (sips tea) Okay, class….
Trent: (raises hand) When is this class going to be over?
Mrs. Smucker: I don’t know. (Waves hands around head) Now where was I?
Jae (bored): You were giving us our assignments.
Mrs. Smucker: Okay, now, I want this five-hundred word essay done by Tuesday. For those of you who didn’t get last week done, (everyone stares at Caleb) I want both of these done by Tuesday. You can go.
(Everyone grabs their things quickly and rushes out of the room.)

                                         Scene 2 
(Students talk while walking down hall)
Ash: So, when are you planning on doing your assignment?
Jae: It’s weird, I always do it the night I get it or I forget about it.
Trent: My parents make me do it on Sunday nights. (Makes a face.)
Caleb: I don’t have time to do mine, I have other things to do. Besides, when will I use this in real life?
Deana: Very true, besides I don’t like writing class. It’s a waste of my time.
Janie: The class is okay, but forty-five minutes of not being able to talk is just too much. 
Kayla: I really hope I have time, there’s a bunch of stuff I want to do with my friends this weekend. 

                                          Scene 3 (Monday morning)
Ash: So, what are you guys writing about?
Jae: I’m writing about the definition of freedom. What about you, Deana?
Deana: How technology can save the world. What about you writing about, Janie?
Janie: Either Psalm 23 in the 21st century or Christian Schools. Probably Psalm 23 cause verses count for more words, so it’s an easy assignment.
(Kayla walks in)
Jae: What are you writing about, Kayla?
Kayla: (shrugs) I don’t know, I’ll probably write it tonight after I make supper for my family.
Janie: So, I heard Caleb hasn’t written his either. Do you think he’s going to get it done?
Jae: Oh, please tell me he’s at least started on the one from last week. (Rolls eyes)
Ash: I doubt it. I’m writing about freedom as well.
 Janie: Trent told me he finished it Sunday night. I’ll just do mine tomorrow before class. 

                                                           Scene Four (Tuesday afternoon)
Mrs. Smucker: (Holding a teacup) Time for writing class, you can head down to class.
(Everyone heads down the hall.)
Jae: So, Janie, did you get your assignment done?
Janie: Yeah, I changed my whole topic last night and did all the research, I didn’t get quite enough words, but hopefully it will be fine. I kind of slapped it down. But I heard Caleb and Kayla didn’t get their assignments done either, so we’ll just brave it together.
Kayla: What were you saying about me?
Deana: We were talking about our assignments.  I heard you didn’t get yours done.  Did you?
Kayla: (giggles and shrugs) Nope.
Ash: (Throws hands in the air) Seriously, guys, you need to actually get your assignments done!
(Start to walk up stairs)
Janie: (grimaces) Good luck!
Scene Five

Mrs. Smucker (gestures toward teapot) Okay, who wants tea?
(Girls raise hands, boys look disdainfully at them)
Mrs. Smucker: (pours tea) Please hand in your assignments as I pour the tea.
Caleb: I didn’t get mine done.  Well, I had homework.
Mrs. Smucker: (eyes widen) did you get either done?
Caleb: Well, I started.
Mrs. Smucker: Caleb, you need to treat this as homework and get it done when you get your homework done.
Caleb: (sighs)
Mrs. Smucker: So, is there anyone else who didn’t get their assignment done?
(Kayla and Janie raise hands)
Kayla: I had a busy weekend and just didn’t have time.
Janie: I got about two hundred words, but it’s not very good.  I did it this morning, because I had forgotten.
Mrs. Smucker: Just turn in what you have written.  Caleb, if you keep not handing assignments in, I’m going to have to fail you.  Kayla and Janei, I expected much more than this from you.  So the people that didn’t get their assignment done, will be required to take individual writing courses for the next few weeks.  If you refuse, you fail the class.  If you fail the class, you must take it again next year.
(Students begin to walk down the hall)
Janie: (groans) I wish I would’ve finished my assignment.  I don’t want to take individual classes. (Makes a face)
Caleb: Me either.  I have basketball and I don’t want to go to some stupid class.
Curt: (runs up, screams and runs behind Caleb) Can someone tell me what this story means? (Holds up a PACE)
Trent: The Story of Ten Virgins.  Well. . .(bends over to be Curt’s height)
Deana: We’ll give you a modern day example. To make it easier to understand.  It all started about a week ago in writing class. . .

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Stuff Going On

I used to have Google ads on my blog.  The rule was that you could Not click on them just to rack up your numbers, so I scrupulously obeyed.

Despite that, while we were in Thailand in June of 2012, I got a notice from Google that they were cutting off my ads because of fraudulent click activity.

I was going to appeal it after I came home but I never did.

Just recently Emily saw my statistics and said, "You have to have ads, as many hits as you're getting."  She helped me go to the right page to make an appeal to Google.

I wrote up a touching but very true appeal, assuring them that I have no idea how or why there was fraudulent clicking on my site because with my sensitive conscience I was terribly careful.

I just heard back from them.  They are not granting my request.  And I am out of appeals and it will do no good to contact them.

Which of course makes me think I HAVE to have ads on my site, since I can't.

What do I do, oh techie friends and sons??

*     *     *
In other news, Paul's niece, Lisa Birky, got married to a fine young lumberjack named Kelvin Sadlier yesterday. It was a very happy occasion.  Kelly slept here the week prior to his wedding so we got to know him a bit better.



*     *     *
I have been teaching a writing class to Jenny and her classmates.  I love seeing what these kids come up with, and I am always surprised.

"Ashley" by Jenny

Ashley's like a skunk
That doesn't have its stinker.
She'd rather sit, than talk to folks
And ponder on her thinker.

"Jenny" by Janane

Jenny is like a diary
She knows more than most,
She knows most of the news
but tries not to boast.

"Caleb" by Trenton

Caleb is nice
And he likes Mexican rice.
He doesn't have lice
but he has pet mice.

"Mikayla" by Deana

Mikayla is sweet.
She keeps her desk neat.
She doesn't usually get done
But she still has fun.

"Mrs. Smucker" by Deana

Mrs. Smucker is a teacher
And a good one she may be
And I like her even better
When she gives me an A instead of a C.

Quote of the Day:
"If there's no drama in 'Jewel's' life, I don't think she considers it LIFE."
--Emily

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Just So You Know: The "Novel"

Last night while getting ready for Lisa the niece's wedding, Paul's mom came by and said, "Oh, so you wrote a novel??"
I said, "What??"
She said, "I got your blog post in my email.  It said you're writing a novel!"
I said, "That was a joke."

So this is for all of you who get my blog in your email through Feedblitz or another server and didn't get the memo: the post about my novel "based on Paul's and my relationship" with a shot of myself in 1982 wearing glasses big enough for three people, that was an April Fools joke perpetrated by my conniving daughters.

Just so you know.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Retaining Honour--Post 11



If you grew up with Bedtime for Frances, as all children ought to, you might remember this line:
And all of a sudden, she was tired.

Well, so am I.

So.  A few final thoughts and disclaimers from me, and a few comments from you.

Just so you know, all these posts were me talking out of my own experiences, observations, and study, trying to pin down and organize the drifting cottonwood fluff in my head.  It was a good exercise for me to put it all into words.  But I am not a theologian or counselor or any expert you have to listen to.

Also, I tried to stick with the scope of subjects that touches my life and loved ones.  There are a hundred variations of choices and tendencies and questions one could address, but I decided to keep it narrow.  There's a lot more that could be said.  You are free to say it.

Thanks to everyone who found the series affirming and helpful and let me know.

To everyone who disagreed and told me so, gently, I appreciate that too.  You're allowed to disagree with me.

I received some disagreeing feedback that made me fear for my safety.  Strange how that made me more stubborn in my beliefs.  But when people disagreed kindly and rationally, it made me think, “You know, I need to think about this some more.  Maybe I’m wrong.”

Some things you said:


"'Fully Alive' by Larry Crabb has some incredible insight regarding gender. Thanks for being adventurous and tackling an uncomfortable [subject]."
--Austin Fahnestock

Bravo for grappling with this issue. . . . I'm with you in being convinced that design denotes purpose, and that purpose is GOOD.
--Anita

I sometimes wonder if the controversy in male/female roles in work can not be attributed to more people having moved off the farm. Girls no longer grow up working with dad feeding animals, driving the tractor, combines, climbing trees, hay bales in the barn - in short working alongside dad on the farm doing male things. We grew up and were glad to leave this work behind. We got it out of our system. These poor girls who did not have this experience cry for it because it has never been fulfilled. My theory.
--Sandra

"I do not agree with the Duck Dynasty quote. However------on the other end of the spectrum are mothers that try to push their sons into a feminine mold because they believe feminine is better. I had a mother like that."
--Alvin Miller

My thoughts about the young woman being interviewed on NPR. That "annoying" uptick at the end of each sentence is something we noticed when we moved to Canada and especially on the reserves. Some of the ladies there raised the pitch of their voice at the end of every sentence. 
--Melva

Me: The accent on the reserve in Canada where we lived was just a bit different.  It was a little up-then-down, so the sentence sounded like a question and then the voice dropped back down at the very end.

As a conservative Mennonite woman in college at the moment and in an advisory position to an Amish company and unafraid of public speaking and I won't say what else . . . "A woman's role" has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I am so happy that you are writing about this.

--Rosanna

 That overlap is very comforting to me, as I am in the outskirts of the bell curve, being better at math and visual perception than most women and many men. I "see" things more like men do. And I miss a lot of the stuff that most women expect me to get. I wish I had been better able to accept this stuff in my teens and 20s. Life would have been so much less stressful for me....trying always to fit into a mold God didn't design me to fit.....I hope there are lots of young men and women listening to what you are saying...and taking it to heart.
--Jodie Smith
 
For what it's worth, I think Jael wiped the blood off that tent stake and pounded it back in the ground to hold up her tent instead of ordering another from Amazon!
--Coleen Barnhart
 
I don't think less of a man or woman who likes to do things that are more common to the other gender, it's more whether they act like a man or a woman while they do it. For example, I don't think anyone who knew Menno Martin would say he was less than a man though he sewed together many beautiful quilts in his later years. And the young lady that works for us at the shop: though she isn't afraid to tackle the dirtiest, greasiest job, her demeanor shows her to be a real lady.
--Gina Miller

This made me reminisce about Stan, my friend Jean's dad and the former pastor of our church, who fixed cars in his younger days and then made quilts after he retired.  What a special and kind man he was.

As a cooking, ironing, house cleaning husband I can tell you that it's more about the person than what they do. When I take my apron off I am capable of truly manly things such as six hour baby-back ribs and stealth bomber repair....
--Cam Passmore

But--- gender IS socially constructed. There are a myriad of behaviors, clothing choices, even speech rhythms, that some cultures view as more 'feminine" and other cultures view as more "masculine." There is no universally accepted way to be a man or to be a woman. To add to this fluidity, intersex people exist, and they are not anomalies. They are often assigned a gender at birth and are raised and socialized to perform as that gender, even though they may not identify with that gender as an individual. There are a vast amount of thoughtfully written articles, blogs, and books about the struggles that real people go through, if you care to do any research beyond the bible.

--anonymous

I was tempted to say some bitter things about anonymous commenters after I got the above comment, but then I got this one which balanced things out:

 I've been drinking great big draughts of this series. My heart and my mind are saying "Yes, yes, yes!" Probably partly because I'm not one of those women who thrives on cleaning and laundry, or gushes over babies. I don't dislike babies, of course, but I'll gladly let someone else hold them. I'm more likely to use power tools, crunch numbers, or mow the yard, though I do love to cook, and pretty dishes make me wish for a kitchen of my own. Meanwhile, I will keep doing the things I love, even if some of those things are unusual in a woman. Thank you for giving me that extra bit of courage today. 
--anonymous

 So, Dorcas, are you going to publish it all in a small book, or some other easily available format? 
--Gwen Hertzler

Answer: Emily just asked me that too, and the answer is: I don't know.
. . . When I see blogs reminding women to avoid risks, I am not inherently saddened by that advice. I am saddened by the massive disproportion of those posts compared to posts advocating ways to help men never become rapists. I was also saddened to the comparison of swimming with sharks- the main issue is that men are not sharks and they can learn the importance of consent. I felt sad for the missed opportunities to help men be better than they would otherwise be, and through that to better protect a larger number of women. 
--Ariel

My response: yes, men can learn.  However, many of them haven't, and I have no control over them.  My sons, in contrast, are fine young men who would never rape a woman no matter how vulnerable she was.  In fact, they'd sacrifice their own safety to protect a woman.  This is embedded in their hearts and isn't just a fear of what the legal system or I would do to them.  But I can't count on other young men being as noble, so I teach my daughters to be wary. 

A testimony--I used to have absolutely terrible allergies. My allergist tested yearly and applied a number to the severity of each allergen. Between two of those testings I stopped being in charge in our marriage and began to submit to my husband. My allergy numbers were less than half at the next testing after years of them staying pretty much level. It would seem that living by God's plan for me as a wife took so much stress off of my immune system that my health improved. What a blessing it is to obey God and my husband. 
--mamma-lana

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. . . has written a wonderful book that shows the difference between what feminists preach and the reality of life in early America.  It's called Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in North America 1650-1750. . . It's a refreshing book on history.
--Lucy
[Edit--the above comment was actually from Rozy Lass.  Lucy, however, recommends Woman and the Republic by Helen Kendrick Johnson]

Blessings to everyone who stopped by for this series.  Now I'm off to plant a few seeds, get the lovely niece Lisa all married to the handsome Kelly, bake cinnamon rolls, and think about all kinds of things besides gender matters!