Sunday, November 11, 2018

In Honor of Veterans Day: My Father's Story

Brother Robert (WW2) and Dad Daniel Monroe Smeltz (WW1)


One hundred years ago, November 11, 1918, my father was stationed on a front line in France during World War I. In memory and in honor of all veterans, including two brothers and my husband, I’d like to share my dad’s story:


Soldier, Farmer and Family Man

            Veterans Day parades always made my father, Daniel Monroe Smeltz, choke up. As a child, I wondered what was so moving. But later in life I read his diary of World War I. Then I knew.

On November 11, 1918, he wrote, "The biggest day of my life. Eight a.m. runner reports that armistice is signed to cease firing at 11 a.m. There is heavy firing all through the morning, and we do not know what to think about it. We anxiously await eleven o'clock. After a few mighty bangs and roars, all is quiet. The war is over."

            Daddy, a member of Company A, 34th Infantry, 7th Division, had sailed for Europe on August 17, 1918. Ten days later he landed in BrestFrance, and soon headed to the front lines.

At St. Etienny, he bathed in the Moselle River and came down with a sore throat and fever. Too ill to march when his company moved to Averainville, he rode on top of an open supply wagon—in the rain. Later he slept on a stone pile—in the rain.  

            On November 1 Daddy noted that he had carried ammunition, barbed wire, picks, shovels and grenades to front lines and returned under German machine gun fire. A second trip resulted in a "close shave" when Germans started firing "one pounders."

But Daddy made it safely home to the farmlands of central Pennsylvania. He used his military severance pay to buy a John Deere tractor, which became his pride and joy as he worked on his parents' farm. For a time Daddy also worked as a carpenter in the coal mines. As he drove to work he noticed a pretty young woman walking to work in a shirt factory.

One day he stopped and struck up a conversation with Grace Huntzinger. They soon married and settled in a small house my father and a friend built by themselves. My brother Robert arrived in 1925, Ruth in 1926 and Russell in 1929. Just after Russell's birth, my parents purchased Daddy's family homestead from his stepmother, paying $5,000 in installments. Sister Marie was born in 1931.

In 1936 Daddy was hospitalized with rheumatic fever. In those days if a patient died, the doctor didn't charge the widow. Dr. Dunkelberger was so sure that Daddy would die that he didn't keep track of his bill. But Daddy surprised him. And I was born in 1940, “way on behind,” as they say.

Daddy's ensuing heart condition made farming difficult, especially in the summer heat. For extra money, he cleaned one-room schoolhouses. I loved the pungent smell of the green cleaning compound he sprinkled on the floors. He also sold religious books door-to-door, so I always had plenty to read.

My earliest memories of Daddy include "gall attacks" in the middle of the night. Mom would cry, worried he was going to die. We had no phone, so an older brother drove to a neighbor's house to call the doctor. Soon I would hear Doc Dunkleberger's heavy steps on the stairs, and in a day or two Daddy would be better.

            Daddy treasured his vintage 1920s Kodak Junior camera. A bellows opened from a flat case. To take pictures, he snapped a shutter release on the end of a cable. He cranked the film rewind by hand. Once the number in the orange dot indicated that the film was filled, Daddy disappeared into our windowless bathroom, which was located behind our kitchen and contained only a bathtub and a waist-high cabinet. Soon the distinctive odor of developing fluid spread throughout the downstairs.

            With his camera, Daddy documented our family history. There we are—my parents sitting on kitchen chairs in the front yard, me on my mother's lap and my siblings standing behind us. There are Daddy and Robert wearing their Army uniforms. And, of course, Daddy took plenty of photos of me—the baby of the family.

            Sundays we all went to church. Daddy and my brothers sat on the right side of the sanctuary, and my mother, sisters and I on the left. The pastor and his wife often came for Sunday dinner. Daddy or Mom always blessed our meals with a prayer.

            A photo of Daddy wearing his Sunday suit and his American Legion cap hangs on a wall in my home. He looks so proud. And well he should. Our Daddy left behind a legacy of faith, patriotism, hard work and love for his family. I hope to pass on to my grandchildren. 

Originally published in Good Old Days magazine, Nov. 2006, www.goodolddaysmagazine.com



This post should have gone out at 8:30 a.m. November 11 with more photos; I'm reposting, since it did not seem to publish. Perhaps the photos were too large. Forgive me if you get two copies.

In Honor of Veterans: A Personal Family Story


Brother Robert (WW2) and Dad Daniel Smeltz (WW1)

One hundred years ago, November 11, 1918, my father was stationed on a front line in France during World War I. In memory and in honor of all veterans, including two brothers and my husband, I’d like to share my dad’s story:


Soldier, Farmer and Family Man

            Veterans Day parades always made my father, Daniel Monroe Smeltz, choke up. As a child, I wondered what was so moving. But later in life I read his diary of World War I. Then I knew.

On November 11, 1918, he wrote, "The biggest day of my life. Eight a.m. runner reports that armistice is signed to cease firing at 11 a.m. There is heavy firing all through the morning, and we do not know what to think about it. We anxiously await eleven o'clock. After a few mighty bangs and roars, all is quiet. The war is over."

            Daddy, a member of Company A, 34th Infantry, 7th Division, had sailed for Europe on August 17, 1918. Ten days later he landed in Brest, France, and soon headed to the front lines.

At St. Etienny, he bathed in the Moselle River and came down with a sore throat and fever. Too ill to march when his company moved to Averainville, he rode on top of an open supply wagon—in the rain. Later he slept on a stone pile—in the rain.  

            On November 1 Daddy noted that he had carried ammunition, barbed wire, picks, shovels and grenades to front lines and returned under German machine gun fire. A second trip resulted in a "close shave" when Germans started firing "one pounders."

Brother Robert and Me
But Daddy made it safely home to the farmlands of central Pennsylvania. He used his military severance pay to buy a John Deere tractor, which became his pride and joy as he worked on his parents' farm. For a time Daddy also worked as a carpenter in the coal mines. As he drove to work he noticed a pretty young woman walking to work in a shirt factory.

One day he stopped and struck up a conversation with Grace Huntzinger. They soon married and settled in a small house my father and a friend built by themselves. My brother Robert arrived in 1925, Ruth in 1926 and Russell in 1929. Just after Russell's birth, my parents purchased Daddy's family homestead from his stepmother, paying $5,000 in installments. Sister Marie was born in 1931.

In 1936 Daddy was hospitalized with rheumatic fever. In those days if a patient died, the doctor didn't charge the widow. Dr. Dunkelberger was so sure that Daddy would die that he didn't keep track of his bill. But Daddy surprised him. And I was born in 1940, “way on behind,” as they say.

Daddy's ensuing heart condition made farming difficult, especially in the summer heat. For extra money, he cleaned one-room schoolhouses. I loved the pungent smell of the green cleaning compound he sprinkled on the floors. He also sold religious books door-to-door, so I always had plenty to read.

Brother Russell
My earliest memories of Daddy include "gall attacks" in the middle of the night. Mom would cry, worried he was going to die. We had no phone, so an older brother drove to a neighbor's house to call the doctor. Soon I would hear Doc Dunkleberger's heavy steps on the stairs, and in a day or two Daddy would be better.

            Daddy treasured his vintage 1920s Kodak Junior camera. A bellows opened from a flat case. To take pictures, he snapped a shutter release on the end of a cable. He cranked the film rewind by hand. Once the number in the orange dot indicated that the film was filled, Daddy disappeared into our windowless bathroom, which was located behind our kitchen and contained only a bathtub and a waist-high cabinet. Soon the distinctive odor of developing fluid spread throughout the downstairs.

The Smeltz Family
            With his camera, Daddy documented our family history. There we are—my parents sitting on kitchen chairs in the front yard, me on my mother's lap and my siblings standing behind us. There are Daddy and Robert wearing their Army uniforms. And, of course, Daddy took plenty of photos of me—the baby of the family.

            Sundays we all went to church. Daddy and my brothers sat on the right side of the sanctuary, and my mother, sisters and I on the left. The pastor and his wife often came for Sunday dinner. Daddy or Mom always blessed our meals with a prayer.

            A photo of Daddy wearing his Sunday suit and his American Legion cap hangs on a wall in my home. He looks so proud. And well he should. Our Daddy left behind a legacy of faith, patriotism, hard work and love for his family. I hope to pass on to my grandchildren. 

Originally published in Good Old Days magazine, Nov. 2006, www.goodolddaysmagazine.com



My Husband, Bill
This post should have gone out at 8:30 a.m. November 11; I'm reposting, since it did not seem to publish. Forgive me if you get two copies.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Five W's to Help You Clean House!


I made surprising discoveries as I housecleaned kitchen cupboards. A small jar of pepper I looked for turned up. I gained valuable shelf space by combining smidgens of coffee. I pitched solidified marshmallow cream and stale snacks, threw out old heavy oven mitts that I never used and found a bag of pecans (surely stale by now) I didn’t know I had.

When I was young, loose fitting screens and doors invited pests into our homes. Cupboards were high and deep with contents easily forgotten. Dust from our unpaved lane covered even the insides of closets, so we housecleaned each spring and fall. Now homes are tighter, so it’s said we no longer need to houseclean. Don’t believe it!


Housecleaning restores order and eliminates clutter. We find forgotten contents. And we get a fresh, clean start as we wipe away dust, dirt and crumbs.

Perhaps our lives need the same housecleaning. We might start by asking ourselves the five W questions reporters ask when writing a story:

Who?

Who am I? Have you found your true identity? Is your identity wrapped up in your work? Do you feel at loose ends if you’re not working? Does your work consume your time and thought?

Do you think of yourself as “only” a mother, a wife or a daughter and put yourself down for not acquiring a more important status in life?

Our identity is provided by our Creator God who made us in His Image. We are His children. His Son Jesus died so that we may spend eternity in heaven. This earthly existence prepares us for that eternal future. Have you spent time considering your relationship with God and how that affects your relationship with others? Like finding lost ingredients in my cupboards, finding your true identity allows you to enjoy a well-balanced life in tune with God and others.

What?

What am I here for? God has a purpose for each of our lives. Whether we’re called to raise a child or solve a universal problem, we have a purpose. Everything we experience can, by God’s grace, be used to encourage someone in a similar situation. If we keep such stories to ourselves, they get as stale as my pecans. What opportunities do you see to support someone by sharing your story with them?

What is God calling you to be about? What spiritual gifts and talents has He given you? What burden has He placed on your heart? Share it with a friend and see where it leads.

When?

When might you spend time with God to houseclean your thoughts and emotions? He will help you recognize expired items in your life—unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, jealously, anger—and replace them with peace of mind. We may think “out of sight, out of mind.” But God wants us to bring ugly feelings into the light of His love. He is able to infuse us with His compassion, understanding and grace to pass on to others. And that leaves us with fresh products of joy on our shelves.

Perhaps a neighbor offended you as a child, and you’ve never forgiven her. Perhaps a coworker turned on you in some way and you’ve held a grudge. Perhaps someone blamed you for something you did not do, and you’ve harbored resentment. Time to (as the song says): Let. It. Go.

Where?

 Where will you go to connect with God? Do you have a prayer corner? Do you attend church? Do you pray before you make decisions? God is everywhere, and He is happy to interact with us no matter where we are. But He is a gentleman. He does not intrude if not invited.

Do you ever go to dark places where you hope God doesn’t see you? To clean my cupboards, I climbed a step stool to peer into back corners of high shelves. Invite God into every room of your house and let Him help you empty waste cans and toss garbage. What about those books and magazines? What about that snarky language that you use only with your family? What about that grumbling that stops as soon as you pull into the church parking lot? Invite God into every nook and cranny of your life.

Why?

Why should you bother to houseclean your life? Life passes quickly. “Our lives may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for we quickly pass and fly away.” Psalm 90:10

We never know when God will call us home. I’ve been graced with more than seventy years and they feel as fleeting as the blink of an eye. I watched my children grow up and now see my grandchildren becoming young men and women. I am so glad I dedicated my life to Christ as a young woman. I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but my basic motivations and intentions were meant to glorify God. I hope you can say the same.

But if not . . . simply stock up on cleaning supplies. It’s never too late to houseclean your life and make a fresh start.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)






Monday, October 1, 2018

God Sees Us






Dear Friends,

Do you know, we are never out of God’s sight? In Genesis 16, Hagar referred to God as “the God Who sees me.”

That statement means a lot to me these days as I’m watching my husband go through chemotherapy. In the last week, we’ve had a trip to ER for a major nosebleed and two days of IV treatments. We’ve dealt with very high blood pressure and the possibility of side effects from the chemo. Fortunately, so far they have been minimal.

It’s worrisome. And much as I know God doesn’t want me to worry (after all, I’ve memorized Philippians where Paul says “Do not be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests onto God . . . “), I sometimes toss and turn wondering what the next day holds.

When that happens, I get up, go to my easy chair and look for a message from God in scripture or in inspirational reading. I pray. I ponder. And God settles me down. Evidence to me that He sees me.

As we speak to women at retreats, I feel inadequate to relieve them of the burdens they carry-- burdens of pain and grief, bitterness and unforgiveness.

Then I realize, I need not have pat answers. I need only point them to the God who sees them. The God who sees them crying over the loss of a husband or child. He sees them when pain grips their bodies. God sees them when their child throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the supermarket. God sees and God cares.

Yes, God sees us in the good times and the bad. Perhaps a deeper question would be, do we see God? Do we see Him in the ordinary stuff of life? If we’re not looking for Him, we may miss Him.

I recently read Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren in which she offers suggestions to see God during our everyday lives.

For instance, she suggests that as we make our beds, we bring order out of chaos and be reminded how God created the world. She suggests as we care for our bodies, we consider how they are temples of God’s Holy Spirit, worthy of attention and respect.

Warren reminds us that our vocations offer opportunities to embrace God’s mission in the world. Her ideas could make a whole other post.

For now, consider this: Although a slave, Hagar was made in God’s image, embraced by God’s love. She had great value, dignity and purpose. God saw her and cared for her. And He sees us and cares for us as well.

Shirley

Upcoming Friends of the Heart Engagements:

October 12-14 - Camp Hill United Methodist Church Women's Retreat at Mt. Asbury, Newville, "At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life."

October 20 - Women of the ECLA Fall Retreat at Mt. Luther, Mifflinburg, "Just Say Yes--to God!"

Prayer needs:

My Friend of the Heart Kim will have surgery for breast cancer this week, and later in the month Bill will have his second round of chemo.

















Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book Review: Biblical Grandparenting



Biblical Grandparenting: Exploring God’s Design, Culture’s Messages and Disciple-Making Methods to Pass Faith to Future Generations

Author Josh Mulvilhill interviewed 25 evangelical grandparents from five different states to discover how they saw their role of grandparent and how they influenced the spiritual development of their grandchildren. Surprisingly, only 24 percent of those interviewed saw themselves as having a responsibility to influence their grandchildren’s spirituality.

Despite the Bible clearly stating that older people are to teach the younger, most of those interviewed saw themselves simply as encouragers, supporters or loving friends to their grandchildren. They were content to let parents and Sunday schools do the job of molding the faith of their offspring.

Biblical Grandparenting is divided into four parts: Getting Started, God’s Design, Culture’s Messages and Discipleship Methods. I liked the book’s charts, which summarize chapter findings, such as “The Culture’s View of Grandparenting,” “A Brief History of Grandparenthood in America” and “Discipling Grandchildren.” Some listings include responses of parents identified by first names. 

A most valuable chapter offers eight spiritual practices to impact grandchildren, such as asking questions and blessing them verbally. These practices would, in fact, be helpful to parents as well as grandparents.

Mulvihill wrote this book as a doctoral thesis, but it is most readable. He summarizes his research results in a final chapter and challenges pastors and church leaders to do more to equip grandparents to take their biblical role in passing on the faith.

Appendixes list the interview questions Mulvihill used along with summaries of demographic data. And the book includes extensive notes and bibliography.

If you’re a grandparent, this book is for you. Grandchildren grow up before you know it, and the time to touch their lives for Christ is now.