Magical Memoir Moments

Who Else Wants Simplicity? April Yamasaki's Sacred Pauses Offers a Way

We all know about the value of silence, taking breaks, and breathing deeply. We know we’re supposed to do these things. But then we get completely involved in our work. And we forget. April Yamasaki, a Mennonite minister from Abbottsford, British Columbia, has written a book to help us remember: Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for…

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The Girl Who Opened Up My World: A Birthday Tribute to Vicky

Before Vicky died at age 35, she changed my life. In 1954, when I was six years old, almost everyone I knew was either a farmer or a Mennonite or both. Then Vicky Martinez blew into my life — all the way from Manhattan! She stayed with us for two weeks. Vicky was like me….

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A Pork 'n Sauerkraut New Year: Happy Birthday, Stuart!

At our house, the holiday season begins with Christmas and ends on January 11. Why January 11? That’s my husband Stuart’s birthday. We don’t clear out the wrapping paper and bows until Jan. 12. Our serious efforts to go back to low-carb eating only starts after that date also. This year, Stuart discovered a tradition…

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The First Peak at Blush: Cover Reveal Coming This Friday

Did you know my book-to-be book has fans? I’m blushing here, because I didn’t give them this name, but that’s what Facebook calls the special pages you “like,” in contrast to the personal pages where you “friend” each other. I place blog posts on my website and on the Shirley Hershey Showalter page. The page…

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Comfort and Joy, Christmas and Food: An Unusual Mennonite Story

Today’s Christmas Eve guest post comes from Kathleen Foster Friesen, no stranger to these pages. Kathleen commented on a thread on my Facebook writer’s page several weeks ago, and I asked her to tell her family holiday food tradition story here. So, from Kathleen and from me, Merry Christmas, curry style! And if you celebrate…

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Mennonites and Santa: Then and Now

This picture of Santa and me, taken when I was one and a half years old, says a lot about my childhood, but tells only half the story. You would think, looking at this picture, that my family members were big fans of Santa and had lots of decorated trees, windows and presents. You would…

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Review of Jean Janzen's Mennonite Memoir: Entering the Wild

The word “wild” has loomed large over the field of memoir this year. You’ve probably heard of Cheryl Strayed’s wonderful book about her amazing journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. I reposted a wonderful review of the book by Strayed’s mentor Paulette Bates Alden here. Now I have another wild book to recommend. Here’s my…

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Seeing a Ghost or Entertaining an Angel: Which was It?

Have you ever seen a ghost? An angel? The physical image of a departed loved one? No? Nor have I. But my mother did. Here’s how it happened. The year was 1951. Our family of four, Mother, Daddy, baby Henry, and me, lived on a farm near Manheim, Penna.  It was a Monday morning. Mother…

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The Things She Couldn’t Carry: Touching the Hem of My Grandmother’s Garment

After we die, who is left to tell our story? And what is left of who we were? My maternal grandmother Anna Mary Herr Hess died at the age of 56 when I was not quite three years old; hence, I do not consciously remember her living presence. Almost everything I know about my grandmother has…

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Speaking of Faith: Writing About Being Mennonite

Last week on this blog Annette Gendler offered her prescription for how to write about family, which might be one of the most difficult challenges a memoir writer faces. Annette invited me to write about religion, since both of us are shaped by faith. This morning I appear here as her guest blogger. The best…

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