Addendum to Christmas Memories

IMG_1250There really are so many things that say “Christmas” to me–homemade cookies and candy, wrapping gifts, caroling etc.   But to me, Christmas is really made special by the people I share it with year after year.

As a young child, Christmas meant gatherings at Pappy and Grandmothers, singing, and sitting on the stairs as we waited to open gifts.  It also meant a Knicely Christmas which was an all-day affair filled with gifts, shopping and playing with the many cousins.

While these extended family gatherings are still an important, fun part of Christmas, I find that now I also look forward to gathering with just my immediate family and sharing a meal and exchanging gifts.  I have thought several times this Christmas about the passage of time and how it changes your perspective on life.  What used to be the best part of Christmas is still good, but not as good as gathering with my family, those that know me best!                                                                                                               -Katie Rohrer


Oh, star of Bethlehem so bright, Ah match the splendor of the night

And shine upon the town

A little Babe doth yonder lie, Beneath a vast and starlit sky

God’s Son, the Christ come down

Come angels now, adore and bless, this chosen son of Righteousness

To God all glory be

Then shepherds come and bow thy head, Before the Christ Child’s lowly bed

This Sovereign Deity

Come one and all, and now draw near, This sacred scene let us revere,

Within our thankful heart.

We yet today may worship too, From ages old- this Babe so new

And love to Him impart.

-Janet Showalter

Photo Credit: Deborah Horst

And I’ve got a new Christmas memory to add to the collection. I am completely enamored with Sky Lanterns right now. I discovered them when I was in Holmes County this fall and decided that would be a great birthday gift for the bro-in-law who has every thing. So, a quick search on Amazon, and there were a number of these fascinating things heading my way. Briefly- they are a miniature hot air balloon with a square piece of candle on the bottom-that you light, and the hot air makes it rise and you watch it until it is out of sight or burns out. I feel like its similar to creating a shooting star in reverse, and I am responsible. 🙂 When we set one off for Sherm’s Birthday, there was a friend coyote hunting at the neighbors and he reported hearing voices, then coyotes going crazy and this weird burning object drifting overhead… I love it- my own UFO 🙂 Emily has never been around whenever I’ve set one off- so… Julia and Sherm came for a Christmas Morning Breakfast right after chores and it was still dark when that was over- so I thought “Now’s my chance” WRONG The wind was blowing and I ended up chasing my own burning UFO through the back yard as it made straightway for our ag bags. FAIL!

So I thought I’d try again that night with the Rhodes family. It was a still crisp night- with no wind. It was dark and I didn’t scout out the area properly- because as soon as our lantern lifted up into the air- it headed straight over into Uncle Fred’s Chinese Elm tree and there it hung- burning brightly, as the men got all excited and shook the tree- causing it to move a little. In the end the helpful Papa Bear found a stick and fired it at our shooting star and pierced the flimsy sidewalls of the lantern… And great was the fall of it. Moral of the story- Chinese Elms and Chinese Lanterns are from the same country(at least I guess they are)- but don’t mix well.. LOL Next year? 🙂

Let your light so shine!!! Enjoy the last few days of 2014. Blessings, Kendra

“Once upon a time” Christmas Memories

“They say Christmas is for children” one of the ladies from church shared that thought several years ago and I’ve thought about it often. There really is truth to that. Christmas time brings lots of excitement and suspense and creates memories that carry on through out a lifetime.

But as an adult- I’m pretty sure Christmas is for me too 🙂 In a lot of ways- the excitement and suspense and memory creating is still there- yet with a different understanding. A much better understanding of the incredible sacrifice of the best gift ever given- when Christ gave up everything to come to earth to live and die- for me…

Thanks to all of you who had memories to share! 🙂 As I read over them- I noticed something common. I saw a quote recently that fit perfectly ” Always remember: the greatest gift you’ll ever own is not found in the shops or under your Christmas tree. It is found in the hearts of your family and friends.” It is the people who have been placed in our lives that truly make special times spectacular.


One Christmas when my sister and I were teenagers, we came up with a brilliant plan! We decided to surprise our family with a Christmas tree!  We stayed up late at night creating ornaments–stringing popcorn, cranberries, and oatmeal cookies.  We stored the berries on the porch roof outside our bedroom window where they stayed frozen.  Our older sister supplied us with a string of lights, and on Christmas Eve, our brother went to the woods and harvested the “perfect” tree.  Natural-grown trees are quite thin and really don’t look that great, but we didn’t care. He hid the tree in the shop, and we were ready to go!  That night we set our alarms for 2 a.m. and crept outside into the snow to drag in the tree. After much muffled laughter and a few loud thumps, we finally had it standing.  The tree was a bit taller than we had expected, so we were glad we had the staircase nearby to help us reach the top! Everything went well at first, until we realized our melting cranberries were dripping  on the carpet!  We laid towels on the floor and covered them with a “tree skirt” (a.k.a. a blanket). Next we added our beautiful string of lights. Alas, it didn’t even come close to going all the way around the tree! We finished our decorating and went back to bed.  The tree was discovered around 5:30 when Dad got up to put wood in the stove. We all got a big laugh out of it, and after enjoying it for the day, we disposed of the tree.        ~The two sisters

I guess at the top of my list of Christmas’s I remember is the one where I had to go to work. I had a car then that did not like the rain. It was raining that morning and I went through a water puddle too fast. At the end of the lane the car stopped. I walked to a neighbor who was awake wrapping gifts. I was taking cookies to work to share and with all the excitement the cookies were damaged. The cleaning lady had told me earlier I owe her a cookie for every time I stepped on her wet floors. That morning she got them. I was not feeling very cheery when I got to work but the more I said “Merry Christmas” the happier I felt. -Ellen Horst


I enjoy carrying on one of my mother’s traditions: making Cranberry Tea. My nine-year old son enjoys juicing the oranges and lemons while the cranberries steam with a cinnamon stick. Sometimes I take the tea to friends or neighbors who are not feeling well because Christmas is no time to be sick! – Enid Dunbar

“I remember my father crying as he read the Christmas story.”-Valerie Diefebacher

I remember when we were young, a bus load of us would go 45 minutes to Yarrowsburg and stand outside in the snow to sing, then come home and go to Mercersburg Academy for the 12 o’clock chimes. The people we were with made it fun. – Martha Ann Strite

I remember my mother could never wait till Christmas morning for us to open our gifts. So when school vacation started we’d open our Christmas presents. We’d tease my mother about that when we were older. We always had church on Christmas morning. Martha Ann’s post reminded me of the Christmas that my friend Debbie Showalter’s family invited me to go to Florida with them on Christmas. I had never been off the farm, so it was very exciting! I got home from caroling and the chimes and packed to leave for Florida Christmas morning. We rode in the pull behind camper. Camped in Sun and Fun camp ground. Made good memories. – Thelma Martin

IMG_1151 The first few snowflakes were making their leisure decent to the earth and hit our windshield as we headed out the lane, for Christmas supper with Father’s Maryland family. Looking at the forecast- we wondered if it was smart to even attempt the trip- but it’d been a year since we’d seen most of our family- plus it was extra special that Rhonda, Nzivo and their family were around from Kenya- so we drove out the lane with faith.The food and fellowship was wonderful. Someone brought Grandmother down from the nursing home and Emily wrote a special Christmas addition to “Let it snow, Let it snow..” Something about “to Kenya they have to go- God bless Nzivo, bless Nzivo, bless Nzivo..” Good ol family time.And while we attempted to appear at leisure- we kept a careful eye peeled for the impending snowstorm- that was tracking us from the south. All too soon- those monstrous flakes started again and my parents felt the need to start the trek to our beautiful southland.   We were fine for the first hour- then the road became completely snow-covered and Father piloted our minivan with a steady hand. It was gorgeous!! There’s something thrilling about traveling through the snow.. Sleepiness fled as we started counting motorists in ditch (and like the priest and the Levite- we passed by on the other side) 29 of them to be exact. Our minivan plowed faithfully on. We started the final assent up into Paradise Mountain, and the snow was so deep by now- it was caught by our bumper and pushed up on the windshield making visibility near 0%- but Father kept the hammer down- we were on home stretch. Down the lane we rocketed, and as we slowed down to take the corner towards our garage- there we sat. Couldn’t go another inch. So with feelings of great relief and mirth, we plunged the last few feet through the snow. “God sure must have a sense of humor- to bring us safely 120 miles and allow us to get stuck 100 feet from the garage!!” -Julia Showalter

The excitement level at Dayton Elementary School was through the roof. Hours had been put into practice for the performance of the “Nutcracker” and show time was the week before Christmas. Monday before Christmas- snow. No School. Tues before Christmas- snow. No School. Wednesday before Christmas- the children are no longer singing “Let it Snow, Let it snow”. Snow day. School canceled. Thursday before Christmas- snow, No School. Friday before Christmas “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and that is reality.. snow. No school…And so the Nutcracker, as well as all the Christmas parties waited until the middle of January, but somehow the magic of Christmas was missing. -Joyce Horst  P.S from the editor: It so happened that my mom landed the job of narrator for this play. And it meant a lot to her when my Grandma hitched up the horse and buggy and drove into town to be in attendance for the event. 🙂

Brent was in the hospital again for the second Christmas in a row. His journey of cancer and a bone marrow transplant had been full of peaks and valleys, and so this Christmas found my sister’s taxi services once again being solicited.  Since he was at a University Hospital only an hour from our home, We agreed to forfeit Christmas Day and join Brent’s family for the day. Kendra and I have spent hours and hours singing together, so- in effort to give Brent’s family some space- we asked the charge nurse if it were possible that we could go caroling there on the children’s floor. It certainly was- and soon we were being ushered from room to room- attempting to spread a little bit of cheer- duet style. “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright” The little blonde haired boy had just been diagnosed with leukemia two weeks before Christmas and his mother found herself singing that carol to her sick little man often… “What Child is This who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping” The little Spanish baby peered at us solemnly… I couldn’t help wonder what her story was…Eventually we were directed to the adult ward. The one man had in a trachea but he wrote a request “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” and he smiled through his pain. “Oh beautiful Star of Bethlehem Shining afar through shadows dim”  The patient tried to move, but winced “that is beautiful- I’ve never heard that song before” On and On we went- caroling for almost 3 hours- a teenager with head injuries, a very disoriented Indian man… And as we sang- the true meaning of Christmas became real to us.  -Emily Horst


So wherever Life finds you this Christmas Eve- take the time to look around you- at all the people who have been specifically placed in your life- right now. And appreciate the time together and the memories being created- because tomorrow holds no promise. And join me in realizing the BEST GIFT ever given- was love. And that is a tradition- we are all asked to continue… God bless us, everyone! Merry Christmas, Kendra


LA for Jesus

Deborah and I spent several days in Los Angeles over last weekend with a street ministry group- singing and handing out CD’s and chatting with people… Somehow I landed the job as journalist for the group.. The following is several excerpts from the journal. Apologies to those of you who will be receiving this later.. 🙂


I watched out the van window in amazement, as we turned off the interstate and headed for downtown. Tents began to dot the sidewalk , interspersed by mounds of tarped belongings. Grocery carts filled with stuff were parked here and there, rain drenched clothes from the night were a soggy presence on all the nearest fences.

My focus shifted from looking at “the stuff” to looking at the people… Seated on the hard concrete, or ambling around, some formed little groups, chatting with their neighbors, some are involved with seemingly imaginary conversations..  And my heart cried..

“Oh God! Look at these poor people! Destitute, hungry, lost… Victims of their own choices… Street smart, yet so vulnerable… At the mercy of the weather… Please make a way for them…Can you imagine how hard their life must be? ”

I was homeless, my daughter… If anybody knows about cold nights, incredible storms, hunger, scorn, rejection… My ministry was that. These people have made choices that led them here. I chose too. I left all the comforts of Heaven- For YOU! I gave up everything to come to this sin cursed earth- so that you might have life-more abundantly.. I am calling people to a higher calling. And I need you-to be my hands and feet. I gave my all for you, I promise to provide for you. Trust me with your future. How much will you give for me?”


“I heard there was a secret cord… That David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don’t really care for music, do ya? It goes like this- the fourth, the fifth- the minor fall, the major lift, the baffled King composes “Hallelujah… Hallelujah… Hallelujah..” The clear notes of a violin wafted through the air… Bringing instant recognition… The shaggy haired performer was putting his heart into the music… The song talks of David’s repentance after he’d fallen.. “It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.. Hallelujah.. Hallelujah.” The shopper scurried past, arms laden down with purchases… Up among the shops, the balloon artists, different music group, and as always- the beautiful palm trees… Passed where our group was caroling… And my mind imagines…

“The little lady, weary from the struggle, back bent from carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, gets off the bus at beautiful Santa Monica. She’s not really sure why she came out today… Maybe it was the fact that she still had Christmas shopping to do… Maybe it was that her poodle needed a walk  (there certainly is lots of that going on) Or maybe it was just that she needed to get out of the house… Her attention is drawn to a group of singers… “Oh come, all ye Faithful, Joyful, and Triumphant…” The song is familiar. She listens a little before moving on… They seem so innocent. Naive really, Life is anything but Joyful- And faithful is certainly a term of the past… She has seen so much hurt in her lifetime. She’s let down those closest to her. Experienced Rejection time and again. Her life is a graveyard of shattered dreams… Merry Christmas indeed… Enshrouded by her thoughts she continues to walk, maybe the fresh air will do her good.

Then she hears the violinist… And it clicks.” A cold and a broken Hallelujah” Like King David, she’s made some huge mistakes. And though she wishes she had a chance to redo them- that’s not possible. But it’s time to lay the past down. “Can’t you give it to me?” She hears Jesus whisper, “That’s what this season is about- I came to this earth- for you. All I require is for you to believe. Give your heart to me, your painful past, your uncertain future, I died for you. I love you..” And right there on that crowded street, she says “Yes” for the first time.

As she walks back past the carolers, she pauses again.. “Oh come let us adore Him, Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord..”

And with adoration she whispers “Hallelujah..”


As I flew across the US, my mind tried to come up with a summary of our time. What is our motive? Why spend hours stretching your vocal chords, pushing yourself until you are exhausted? Why make the effort- to take time off of work, spend the money, etc? So I pondered..

An Asian lady moved to the back of the plane where our group of 6 were having a debriefing, rehashing our highlights, and somehow she got involved with our discussion and said “Y’all were the group singing at Santa Monica, weren’t you? I heard you and I really enjoyed the music!”

As we got off the shuttle at our vehicle, each of us thanked the driver and said “Merry Christmas” and he replied “Happy Holidays” Six times.

And there, I had my answer. Well at least part of it. Christmas is under attack. Not only is it snowballed by the busyness of the season- but it’s in danger of being completely obliterated as a secular holiday, forgetting the birth of Christ. Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas- they say.

There’s no way to tell how many people heard us sing. Our travel mate was from who knows where and she is one of many. I smiled at the number of phones were pulled out and recordings made- with the knowledge that we would be on Facebook, Instagram, Path and all other forms of social media. And that blesses me. Through a simple form of song… We gladly proclaim:

“Go tell the News, the Blessed Gospel News, A Savior lives, a King is born! Go tell the News the Blessed Gospel News- Oh Praise His Name- A King is Born!!!”

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!! Blessings,


Bonus Pic:


While Deborah and I were out in LA, the home-folks were designing their own gingerbread combine.. Lets go Harvest 2015!! 🙂


I enjoyed a very exotic evening in Arlington with some friends… Took in Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center and ate dinner at the Historic Gadspy’s Tavern- which was frequented by George Washington… Anyhow- I was just blessed by the thousands of people who came out to listen to Old Testament prophecy… What a wonderful opportunity!

Christmas Memories Galore… Care to Share? :)

To our friends scattered to and fro,

I love Christmas time! I was trying to put into words what it is, that makes this time of year have a magic all of its own… But I can’t. It’s a time of love and laughter shared by people we care about. It’s a time of hustle and bustle trying to get all those details under control whether it’s shopping, baking, or that stack of mail… It’s a time of hurry and scurry as we rush from one event to the next- caroling, Christmas plays and programs… Eyes wide and dancing, cheeks flushed with excitement… It’s Christmas!!!! and I love it!

And it’s a time of making memories that last forever. I’ve only experienced 28 Christmases, yet I’ve got a pile of memories stored up. Things that affect my impression of Christmas. I bet you do too… So this year, I’d like to post a form of a Christmas Blog-post Scrapbook.. You hear a lot about me and I KNOW that you’ve got some wisdom to add here too… Sooo.. Send me an email at under the subject line “Christmas memories” and share anything- stories, poems, even pics, whatever is on your heart…  I need to hear from you for this to be a successful endeavor.. 🙂 What’s on your heart… Oh, and sign it with the name you wish to appear on my post… Deadline Dec 20..:)

And just to get your mind rolling… “I love the opportunity to sing carols during this time of year. I think it is really special that we are welcomed into homes around the community to share about the birth of Our Savior! There’s a lot of caroling experiences that come to mind- like riding on the back of a straight truck (that had high sides and was used to haul cattle) through town and all of us standing up and waving and shouting good tidings at surprised pedestrians as we rattled along.. Anyhow our family used to go caroling with the neighbors and we stopped at the house of a widow who lives on Dry River and she said “I was trying to sing ‘Glory be to God’ today, but it just doesn’t go very good,by myself…”  {this is a beautiful song, but all four parts jump in here and there.. } So, the obvious thing to do was sing it. As my memory goes, the men of our group had already dismissed themselves… Because somehow Emily at the tender age of 9, fired up the bass and away the song went…”Glory be to God and on earth, peace, good will to men…” It didn’t matter if it was or wasn’t the most beautiful, perfectly sung rendition ever… The message stays the same..”

Excited to hear from you!!!

Merry Christmas,


Bonus Pics:

more job description pics from our diverse dogs.. 🙂


D for Detective



E for Eco-friendly Washcloths



F for First Mate


G for Golf Caddy


H for Horticulturist



The Beauty of Being Versitile – from the Farm Manager

Soo.. It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me… Not that I haven’t been around, but I’ve been SOOO busy. With the continuing of increase of my troops, My job has only gotten more hectic.. Seriously. I know that they say that the most efficient person is the one who knows how to delegate responsibility… But wow- this place has really gone to the dogs, if you ask me… But it’s nice to have Benelli around and she’s so cute and everyone dotes over her and blah blah blah… Hopefully she will eventually amount to something as far as work goes… Since she’s being trained by the best…

Anyhow, So it’s my job to train her in, and that Kalila (the Showalter German Shepherd) still is only half trained and whenever I’m almost getting through to her, then Sherm takes her to Mt Crawford and we experience a set back… Sigh… And the paperwork that comes with being supervisor… Sigh… I almost need a secretary..

So where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, so here I am again with a very important thought… You see, I don’t often get invited into the house… Mainly whenever Eldon is home and he doesn’t think Joyce is looking… (man, I love that woman, but I can’t understand why she doesn’t like my footprints on her floor, as a reminder of me.. Her devoted friend… Plus these aren’t big footprints and I ALWAYS wipe my paws somewhat before I enter… So it’s just a faint mark.. But then, I guess it’s just impossible to understand women… IDK.. thats just what they say..)

So I snuck into the house one evening and Eldon was reading the newspaper, So I read some too-mainly about about some special that they were running on dog kennels ” aaahHEM, how about we trade papers there and you read up on this bargain, there, Mr Eldon?” But then my eyes fell on the most brilliant book ever. Not sure if Joyce or Deborah bought it.. 101 uses for Labs. Unbelievable…


Now I’m not meaning to sound cocky, but it’s a fact that dogs are very, very useful. And what really amazes me is how versatile we are. Take for example those egotistical heifers got out last week. Clueless. There they were running laps around the house, kicking up their heels- no clue where to go. So the family guided most of them back to the barn, but it was up to Rolo and me to go out into the far field and bring a handful of heifers back into the barn {editor’s note: this was a miracle or else the heifers were ready to come home} and we did it so effortlessly… And I was just struck again with the fact that when do you ever see cows getting dogs in? Umm never??! See cows have no understanding about the operation… They don’t get it, we do…

One of Benelli’s main jobs right now is helping the family get exercise… She’s teaching them to play fetch… Well, mainly her job is to make sure that their throwing arm is in shape. She gets a little tired of running and running, but it’s part of the game, I suppose… We try to encourage her with that…

“You see, each of us has a job that God has given us. A special talent… And you’ve got to understand, little girl, that they aren’t all equal. Some of us are good at managing. Some are better at looking cute and chasing a stuffed duck. Some at barking all night. But what is the most important is that we are doing the best we can, at where we are, now.”

She might not understand that maybe in her future she’ll be required to fetch things that are more important and more impressive… She just needs to be faithful where she is now…

Anyhow, pep talk aside, I’m on the lookout for one job per letter of the alphabet… You’ll see them show up from time to time… I’ll keep ya posted…

Now back to my farm managing, And take heart- whatever job you are called to.. Today is the day to do the best you can…

Detriot Snappenbarker Mendoza


A for Archeologist


B for Border Patrol 


C for Caring, Comforting Canine

Bonus Pic:


Or maybe I should’ve said C for Chauffeur… Some bear dogs tracked a bear onto our back field and their owners put an end to its corn stealing… They were very polite, but Benelli still thought it was safer to climb on the 4-wheeler and observe from a distance. 🙂

IMG_0903 IMG_0904

Butcher day 2014-  Really glad to have the pig in the poke once again. 🙂IMG_0905

Many hands pitch in and make work light, you know.. Fresh ponhossIMG_0906

Thanks Kate for the fun pic of the cousins and Uncle 🙂