The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl

Circle Letters: The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl - A Memoir by Aleta M. Schrock

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday: Psalm 126: 1-2

One day as I was getting into my car in the Meijer parking lot, I glanced up and saw this man:
his face lifted towards the heavens aglow with the glory of God,
His eyes shining, pure delight,
his lips parted in laughter,
unadulterated ecstasy,
filled with the joy of the Lord.

Psalm 126: 1-2
Then was our mouth filled with laughter...

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
The Lord hath done great things for Daniel and Aleta; whereof we are glad.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

1000 Gifts: #441-473 Fairytale Castles in the Classroom

       I love reading and telling fairytales.
A modern American Castle on my drive home from school.
       It is nearing the end ofthe school year and the children have been feeling restless, but everytime I bring out a fairytale, they become quiet and I can see and feel them entering into the magic of the story.

A knight in pink and shining armour.
         So we read fairytales and dress up as knights. We decorate crowns with jewels and become princesses and princes. The door of our classroom becomes the entrance into an ancient castle.
        Baskets and baskets of fairytale books line the wall and the children and the teacher never tire of looking at the pictures and reading and hearing the stories.

A Princess Knight

        We make castles out of ceareal boxes. We color and cut out fairytale character.

We retell stories and make up our own.
We write fairytales and publish them as books.

We display our work in the castle where Rapunzel's hair dangles out the side of the tower.

We write fairytale Math stories.
We compare interesting versions of our favorite tales and graph their
similarities and differences on a Venn Diagram.

And we thank God that he inspired the Grimm Brothers to record many of these tales.

My Gifts:
441. The shady, green, wooded road.
442. The castle in the forest.
443. Having seen the house where the Grimm Brothers grew up in Steinau, Germany.
444. Memories of exploring the castle in Steinau.
445. Having followed a small portion of the Deutsche Märchen Straße.
446. My collection of fairytale books.
447. Being able to share my fairytales with children.
448. Listening to the children tell an act out their own stories with their castles and fairytale characters.
449. Pam, the friendly clerk when I check out at Kroger’s.
450. Mezzetta stuffed olives on sale.
451. Scent of Purple Irises.
452. A lawn mower that starts on the first pull.
453. Watching the body rejuvenate itself as a wound heals and skin grows back.
454. Discovering a nice new Doggy Wash place closer to home.
455. Washing the dog with my husband.
456. A partial day of resting and reading.
457. The strawberry smoothie my husband made to rescue the strawberries I had forgotten about in the fridge.
458. One of my favorite drinking waters on sale.
459. Students staying on green!
460. Students’ parents being supportive.
461. The grace (power beyond my own ability) of God at work within me.
462. Wisdom that can only come from God.
463. The Home (SOS).
464. Apostle Mario Villela.
465. Pastor Regina Villela.
466. Josh walking in his father’s/Father’s footsteps.
467. Fresh cilantro in guacamole.
468. A Sunday afternoon nap.
469. Operating the computer for church services.
470. The book: Relentless by John Bevere and the growth that is happening inside of me as I read it.
471. Hearing testimonies of faith.
472. Immediate email response in the middle of the night about which airport to book.
473. Inexpensive airplane tickets at the closest airports.
474.   . . .

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday: Job 37:5, 21 and 14

Job 37:5, 21 and 14

To me these clouds appear as the glorious face of God bending low to commune with man.

God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
21 And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds: but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them.

14 Hearken unto this, O Aleta: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Tribute To My Mother

Written in honor of my mother
who gave me life,  
loves me unconditionally
and inspires me to grow old gracefully.

             My dad had started a business called Schrock Small Engine, Sales and Service. He sold and repaired lawnmowers, tillers, chainsaws… After he was diagnosed with cancer my mom worked alongside him and by herself on the days when he was not able to help. One day, knowing the extent of the illness, he asked her, “When I’m gone, will you continue the business?”
            “Oh, I couldn’t,” was her quick reply.
            Mom told me that he looked her in the eye and quietly remarked, “You can if you want to.”
            That comment changed the course of history. When my dad passed out of this life and into Heaven, I was four and a half years old. It was 1968 and my mom became a widowed mother of three preschool aged children, the sole owner of a business and a mechanic in her own right.
The shop was located less than six steps outside the side door of our house. Mom sang us awake and fed us breakfast and was out in the shop by eight o’clock every morning five days a week. She locked the doors for an hour at noon while she cooked and we ate dinner. At five the doors closed for the night and we had supper, Mom often returned to the shop in the evening to finish the repairs. (While we were young an Old Order Mennonite girl lived with us and helped take care of us children and do housework.)
This is the atypical Old Order Mennonite Mother I grew up with. Making her way in a man’s business.  A feminine touch in a greasy world.

1000 Moms Project

1000 Gifts: 391-440 Bifocals

          The little girl bent close over her book, her nose almost touching the words as she read. I smiled as I continued to test her Reading Level. That was exactly how I used to do it. Read with my nose literally buried in a book.
          But something had happened to my eyes between then and now. I felt a twinge of longing for those youthful days before bifocals. Before bifocals made my perfect reading vision come out of one tiny spot in the lower middle half of my glasses.
*   *   *   *   *   *   *
“We can look into bifocals for you,” my optometrist had suggested one visit a number of years ago.
“I don’t need bifocals”, was my quick response.
Dr. Schneider, assuming that pride kept me from admitting my need for this addition to my eye glasses, gently explained that once people reached their forties their eyeballs began to change shape creating the need for bifocals to help us read better and that the modern graduated bifocal was not visible to others unlike the highly noticeable magnifiers centered in the middle lower half of our grandparents spectacles.
“I would be happy to get bifocals if I needed them,” I explained for the third time as the doctor continued to try to reassure me that bifocals were not a shameful experience, “but I can read just fine.”
          Dr. Schneider was young, probably in his early thirties and he was going by the book. I was several years into my forties; therefore, I must need this dreaded addition to my eye glasses.
          I left feeling frustrated. Pride was not the issue here, I could read just fine. But it started my brain thinking. Why did I not need bifocals yet, when others my age often did?
          Then one evening as I lay in bed reading the Bible, the answer came. I used to read in bed with my chin resting on my hands, my nose practically touching the pages. But now I held my head up several inches away from the book. When had this change occurred? I couldn’t remember. It must have happened so gradually that I was unaware of it until my optometrist’s insistence for bifocals created the awareness. As I pondered on these changes, I remembered something from my childhood.
          As a child adults often told me to hold my book farther away, because holding it so close wasn’t good for my eyes. So I’d hold the book a foot or more away down on my lap and continue reading, but next thing I knew the book had gradually found its way back up to my nose. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see clearly with the book farther away, it just felt comfortable having it close. So I read, literally buried in a book. Well, my nose… and mind at least.
          As my mind continued to ponder these discoveries, I chanced upon what I believe to be the cause. My eyeballs must have been shaped in such a way to cause my close-up vision to be most perfect at a distance the length of my nose. After I entered my forties they began to change shape slowly just as Dr. Schneider’s medical books had predicted. The average readers who spent their childhood holding their books a comfortable one foot distance away were by now not able to hold their reading material far enough away to see. My eyes, on the other hand, had moved from a comfortable vision at nose length to finally doing what adults had been trying to make me do my entire child hood. Hold my book on my lap to read.
          Eventually, in my late-mid forties after I spent a year moving my glasses to the tip of my nose every time I sat down to read for a length of time, I told my doctor that I think I might need bifocals. Now these graduated bifocals create only a narrow line of clear vision down the very center of each glass. As soon as I move my eyes a fraction to the right or left I notice a slight blur. I miss the days when I could bury my nose in a book and every letter was crisp and clear.
So I smile in remembrance as I continue to test this little girl with her nose buried in the story and I thank God that although I can no longer bury my nose, I can still bury my mind in a good story.

My List:
391. Watching a little girl bend close over her book, her nose almost touching the page as she reads and remembering the days (prior to bifocals) when I did that, too.
392. Teaching first graders how to do research and write reports.
393. First graders excitedly pointing out the features of non-fiction text in the books they are reading.
394. First graders publishing non-fiction text and incorporating the features they learned about such as a table of contents, an index, a glossary, a diagram with labels, a close-up of an interesting detail, etc.
395. Two boys asking me to teach them how to add a glossary to their book.
396. Finding the title to my mother-in-law’s RV.
397. Getting temporary a temporary plate for the RV.
398. Finding the right battery for the RV.
399. My sister-in-law removing the RV from our driveway and taking it to Texas.
400. The space in our driveway back.
401. Safe travels for Debbie and the RV.
402. My brother-in-law getting a new place to live.
403. Panda black licorice.
404. Connecting the spiritual and the intellectual.
405. Living a blessed life.
406. Walking by faith according to the Word and not by sight.
407. Being born in America to a family blessed of God.
408. A mother filled with wisdom.
409. My husband finding a place open on Sunday that could make his truck road worthy again.
410. Seeing Debbie again.
411. Seeing Tony again.
412. Seeing pictures of Everett and his girlfriend.
413. The awesome sale my husband made.
414. Living in the Life of The Word.
415. Safe delivery of the RV to TX.
416. My brother-in-law repairing the pipes.
417. Debbie’s safe return to MN.
418. Our pastors.
419. Our elders.
420. Hearing the truth of God’s Word preached.
421. The awesome sale my husband made.
422. The cyst being removed from my finger.
423. The finger healing totally and beautifully.
424. Giving a friend a ride.
425. Living a blessed life.
426. An abundance of healthy and delicious food.
427. Finding a cute skirt in a store.
428. Watching The Sound of Music as a play in our local theater.
429. Discovering the Worship Leader of our church has a part in the play.
430. Students following directions and building beautiful cereal box castles.
431. Students excitedly coloring and cutting out fairytale characters.
432. Students enthusiastically using their fairytale characters to tell and act out stories.
433. Children who had been noisy and challenging all day becoming quiet as a fairytale book is read and the story unfolds.
434. Listening to students discuss the similarities and differences between two versions of a fairytale.
435. A student excitedly sharing something they read or saw in a book.
436. The smile on the uplifted face of a child.
437. A delicious Mexican dinner prepared for teachers in honor of Cinco De Mayo.
438. A delicious gourmet sub from our principal in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day.
439. Homemade healthy mango ice-cream.
440. Finding a gorgeous blouse on sale.
441. . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday: Psalm 29:1-4 and 11

 Psalm 29:1-4 and 11

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.

1Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
11 The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Photo Memories: Cold Mashed Potatoes

One of my final photo-memories is of Eugene and me sitting at the kitchen table, still eating after all the adults had jumped up and left. I sat staring at all the white mounds of mashed potatoes thinking about how they were going to get cold if everyone didn’t come back and eat them.
That day the mashed potatoes not only grew cold, they remained uneaten. I discovered the reason why almost thirty years later.
My mom and I were discussing Dad’s death. She commented that both of my Grossmommies and several aunts were at our house that day. Emma-Grossmommy was in the bedroom at Dad’s side and as he was taking his final breaths, she cried out and everyone jumped up from the dinner table and rushed in to his side.
I looked at my mom. “That’s why the mashed potatoes grew cold.” While my brother and I sat at the kitchen table finishing our dinner and watching those mounds of creamy white mashed potatoes growing cold, my dad’s body had begun growing cold in my parent’s bedroom.
Later, during that day of the cold mashed potatoes, I stood at the foot of the couch listening to the grown-up’s talk about asking Uncle Raymond to bring my cousin Rosella along down to our house to keep me company.
My Aunt Emma’s diary records that while the adults were waiting for my dad’s body to be embalmed and then returned to the house, I enquired. “Wes duh Dat es er dot ist? Does Dad know that he is dead?” When they replied in the negative, I asked, “Shouldn’t we tell him when he comes home?”
Several days later Dad’s coffin was placed just inside the parlor door. I see a memory snapshot of Grossmommy and some other adults holding Roland, who was eleven months old, up to the casket and urging him to touch Dad’s face. There is no movement and I hear no words. I see them there and I just know that that is what is happening.
In another snapshot the walls are lined with chairs and I sit in one of them with hundreds of people filing by. The only person I recall personally is one little boy, a distant cousin several years older than me. I remember standing outside the barn door once when he and his dad had came to my parent’s shop.
There is no emotion attached to any of these photo memories of my dad’s death. They are all still life prints. But as I write about them the tears come. The memory of being his baby girl is drowned in a sea of abandoned emptiness.
While I am writing my cell phone rings and the pictures fade. “I love you!” I answer as I dry my tears.
My husband, out of town on business is calling to wish me good night, “I love you,” he responds.
“I finally found the inspiration to write,” I told him.
“Oh, good!” He always sounds so excited when I have good news about my writing and storytelling. I feel warm and loved again.
When I had met my husband, Daniel, I wasn’t looking for a husbandly kind of love. I believed I needed to first heal from the feelings of abandonment I was struggling with due to losing my dad at such a young age. But I fell in love and God gave me a peace that Daniel was the right one for me. Even then, I was not expecting to gain any healing through my relationship with Daniel. I was expecting God to heal me. But God chose to extend his love and healing power through the love of my husband.
Culture shock, along with the pain of finally beginning to deal with a sense of loss as a young adult had led me to build walls around my emotions. It sometimes felt as if my heart were made of iron. My natural tendency toward introversion had led me to crawl inside of myself and God knew I needed that human connection. So he sent me Daniel, a gift of love from God.