Hide and Seek


I took this picture of two young calves resting or “hiding” in the buttercup laden pasture the other evening.   I don’t know what or how a mama cow tells her newborn baby “to stay put” but she will often stash or “hide” her baby in the grass, weeds or woods while she goes off to graze and the babes will usually  wait patiently for her to come back.  These calves were a little older but even when we drove near them they stayed hunkered down in their hiding spot.

It reminded me of one of my favorite sets of grandkid pictures (2008). The grandkids were playing a game of hide and seek. Lauren and Ryan hid their faces and counted while Emily and Karla found a place to hide and wait to be found.


Hide Seek-Ryan Lauren-2008


Hiding can be a game of great fun. I remember playing hide and seek and  the “counter” would have to count to 100 and then holler, “A bushel of wheat, a bushel of rye. Whose not ready, holler I”.  You also hide when you are scared or seriously running from someone one or something  because of fear of being caught or found out.  I remember one time, way back in the 70’s, I was sitting at a stoplight in Richmond and got rear-ended from a distracted driver who then fled the scene. I was able to get his license plate number and the police found him several hours later hiding in the attic of his home.

There are some fascinating stories in the Bible of people who thought they could hide.  Hide and seek is as old as Adam and Eve who thought they could hide from God!  God went along with their little game and as He walked in the garden looking for them He calls out,  “Where are you”? They were hiding because they had disobeyed God and because of their sin they became aware that they were naked. They didn’t want God to see them so they hid behind  a tree! (Genesis 3:8-9)

  • Moses was hid in a woven basket on the river as a baby by his mother. He was found by Pharoah’s daughter who adopted him as her own and he grew up in the palace of the very king who had issued the order to kill all the newborn Hebrew males. (Exodus 2:1-10).
  • Later, Moses fled to the desert of Midian because he had killed a man and he feared for his life. He lived as a shepherd for 40 years. This experience prepared him for the huge task of leading the children of Israel through the desert. (Exodus 3)
  • Joshua sent men to spy out Jericho. They were in the home of Rahab when the king received word that they were in the city. The officers went looking for them but Rahab hid them under stalks of flax piled on the roof top.  This heathen prostitute was saved from destruction because of her faith and her name is found in the genealogy of King David and Jesus Christ. (Joshua 2, Matthew 1)
  • Saul, at his coronation, hid in the baggage. (I Samuel 10:21)
  • David, fearful for his life, for years hid in caves, forests and deserts from the wrath of King Saul who relentlessly tried to trap and kill him. (Most of I Samuel is the story of David’s hiding from Saul. Several examples are I Samuel 23, 24, and 26)
  • Jonah tried to flee from God. He hid in the bottom of a ship and ended up in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean because he didn’t want to go preach to the wicked city of Ninevah. (Jonah)
  • Elijah traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb because of the threat on his life by Queen Jezebel. He hid in a cave but God found him and  said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19)
  • About two years after the birth of Jesus, his parents fled to Egypt in the middle of the night to protect and hide Jesus from King Herod who after a visit from the wise men sought to kill the young child. (Matthew 2:13-15).
  • A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years thought she could hide in a crowd of people and just touch the hem of Jesus garment without him knowing. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”  The woman when she realized that she was exposed, came with fear and trembling and fell down before Jesus. And Jesus said, “Because of your faith, you are healed. Go in peace.” (Luke 8: 43-48).

David penned a beautiful, heart-felt, poignant psalm about the presence of God and his inability to hide from Him.  David knew, he had first hand experience. David had a sordid affair after spying a beautiful woman taking a bath while on a stroll one evening on the roof top of his palace.  He tried to hide his sin and in the process multiplied his evil deed by ordering the death of the Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who was one of David’s thirty closest advisors.  God spoke to the prophet Nathan who confronted David and his sin was exposed. (II Samuel 11-12). In deep anguish David repented and these words poured from his sorrowful heart.


 Psalms 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Whether for fun or for real, we can hide, but almost always we are found.  And guess what….we are quite often as obvious as Adam and Eve with our shiny backsides sticking out from behind a tree!

Honoring Helen Burkholder

Sometimes there are special people and sometimes there are SPECIAL people. Today at church we honored the legacy of Helen Burkholder before she leaves our midst and moves to Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center.


Mother and daughter: Bev Kennell and Helen Burkholder

In June 1965, Louie and Helen moved their dairy farm from Denbigh to Powhatan. For about a year the Burkholders had been traveling every Sunday to Powhatan where Louie had been asked to preach to a fledging congregation.  The Burkholders had four young children and they faithfully and willingly traveled 2 hours between the morning and evening milkings. Louie was our first pastor, serving from 1964-1982 and 1984-86.

Helen always had a love for music, especially hymns.  Today we sang several that were very special to her. Two groups also had special music in her honor.


Ladies Group: “Sweet Are the Promises”

(Sorry, I only got the last verse on video)


“Be Still My Soul”



IMG_8088 Marie Hertzler shared some memories about the early days of Helen’s ministry in our congregation.


Connie Lancaster shared about Helen’s prison ministry.

Helen and Louie, were involved in prison ministry for many years.  They would go weekly for Bible study; Helen to the women’s prison in Goochland and Louie to the men’s unit in Powhatan/Goochland.  Numerous persons in the congregation helped with that ministry for which they had a passion. For over 25 years, Helen graded Bible studies and counseled the women in prison.

Helen loved to sew and was a gifted artist. She started the women’s sewing circle which has continued to this day although it has gone through numerous name changes.

For many years our congregation was blessed to have two past, retired, pastors and their wives (Louie and Helen Burkholder, Pres and Carolyn Nowlin) in our midst. They added so much to our congregational life and were never a hindrance or threat to new leadership. Now, that era in our church has officially come to an end…there will be no past pastors or wives. It is interesting that two of them are at VMRC where Helen will be; Paul & Bertha Swarr and Pres & Carolyn Nowlin.

The ladies group closed with “Blest Be the Tide That Binds”, a very fitting song that reflects the feelings of the congregation.


We love you Helen and thank God for your faithful service through the past 51 years. Your gracious and gentle spirit has truly blessed our congregation.

Bringing Closure

Yesterday coming home from church Gene said, “Where are we going to ride today? Do you want to go to Denbigh?”  One year ago that meant, do you want to go see Daddy?  But times have changed and Daddy is no longer at 567 Colony Rd. Denbigh. He now has a much grander address on a street of gold in heaven.  This trip was on our bucket list for this spring but now going to Denbigh is just a trip down memory lane, a reflection on the has-beens of life.

We had a cd playing as we cruised along but just as we approached the Newport News exit we suddenly became aware of the song that was playing; “I Can Only Imagine” by Bart Millard.


This song had become one of Daddy’s favorites in the last months of his life as he anticipated “going home”.  Somehow it seemed like a God-moment as we listened to the song and remembered Daddy.

In May 1897, D.Z. Yoder and Isaac Hertzler (Gene’s great grandpa from Long Green, Maryland)  purchased a 1200 acre cotton plantation for $10 an acre. They very quickly generated interest in numerous other Mennonite families who came to the Tidewater area, drawn by the lure of affordable farm land. The group became known as the “Colony”.  They tilled, planted and rejuvenated the worn out, overgrown land turning it into productive fruit orchards, dairy, poultry and produce farms.  This fascinating story is told in  the book “Fifty Years: Building on the Warwick”. During the next 100 years, the land was divided, subdivided, developed and sold until only 45 acres remained in the middle of the city where Mama and Daddy Hertzler lived. Daddy tenaciously withstood pressure to sell and held on to his beloved farm. But now that era and the “Colony” are officially gone. The streets; Colony Road, Hertzler Road and Miller Road surrounded the farm like a hedge of protection, keeping the city at bay.


We circled the block around the farm twice and snapped a few pictures from the road. Someone else now lives in the house and owns land. It is no longer in the family.  The farm still looks the same but it is definitely missing Daddy’s magical touch.






After circling the farm, we stopped at the Warwick River church cemetery, opened the wrought iron gate and quietly walked to the gravesite to pay our respects.  It almost seemed like hollowed ground. We know a cemetery is just a bone-yard but they are beloved bones and their resting place is the only spot on earth that is still a connection to them. Someday those old bones will come to life as they spring out of the grave and meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4: 16-17).  Daddy loved trees and his burial spot is underneath the boughs of an old tree, the only tree in the cemetery.



We walked among the headstones and talked about the many familiar names; Issac and Fannie Hertzler (Gene’s great-grandparents), Henry P. and Anna Hertzler (grandparents), Menno Hertzler (an uncle who died in a boating accident on the river), Uncle Dan and Aunt Dora Brunk, and many other relatives and church acquaintances with the names of Yoder, Burkholder, Fisher, Moyer, Nice, Hahn, Shank, Hostetter, Ziegler, Schaefer, Brunk, Miller, Shenk, etc. Each headstone represents a life lived, some briefly, some many years. Each was a life with a story to tell and most had a huge impact in the Warwick River Mennonite Church community and beyond.





I took the next three tombstones because they were a part of the many folks who migrated  west to Powhatan and have had significant influence in the church and community here.





Finally we were ready to leave. With a few backward glances we got in our car and drove away.


We decided to stop by a friend’s home on our way out of town. The hours ticked by as we talked about Mama and Daddy and some of the many challenges they faced, particularly in their last years. This friend understood and the time spent there was life-giving and healing.  We left feeling that, finally, we could have closure on that chapter of life.

A few final pictures:

Great-grandparents, Isaac and Fannie Hertzler, build a stately house with a white picket fence on the bank of the Warwick River just a stone’s throw from the farm. The lot was part of the farm at one time. The house and grounds have been very well maintained through the years. I had to take a picture of the old wagon sitting in the front driveway.






A Sunday Afternoon Drive

Walking out of church today Gene said, “Do you want to go on a Sunday afternoon drive?”  Of course I did.  We haven’t done that for years and years and years; to just drive for the fun of driving and seeing new country.  We went home, changed our clothes and hit the road heading west. Now Gene did have a destination in mind; I saw him browsing the internet before leaving for church even though he made no mention of what he was doing. He wanted to find one of our beef customers in Nelson County.

We took scenic Route 60 west and stopped at Pino’s, a country diner in Buckingham County, for lunch. The food was superb and the variety on the menu was exceptional.  We then drove past another beef customer  a short distance down the road before heading north on Route 56 towards Nelson County. The rolling countryside was beautiful and there are a lot of cattle farms in Buckingham.  Only a farmer can truly understand the beauty of cattle grazing in lush, green fields.

After driving the main road for about thirteen miles, we turned off on a side road at Wingina and wound on a curvy road along the bluffs and foothills.  We admired the river bottom pastures and homesteads nestled against the ridge or perched high on the bluff  overlooking the James River and railroad tracks. We knew “sort of” where the farm was but was not able to identify it.  We knew he usually wasn’t at the farm on the weekends so this was not a business visit.  Because it was raining the only picture I took was this train trestle over the Tye River about 400 yards before it empties into the James, from the car window.  Otherwise, we still might not be home as I would be along the road or river somewhere taking pictures!


We eventually meandered our way to Route 29, headed north towards Charlottesville before catching Route 6 east towards home, with a brief stop at Walton’s Mountain museum in Schuyler.  It was neat driving through quaint towns of yester years; many of which are still thriving with pop and mom businesses.  Many towns I knew the names of but had never been through;  Lovingston, Scottsville, Fort Union, Columbia and George’s Tavern.  It made me appreciate a customer that regularly comes from Scottsville for his horse hay and shavings and now I can’t wait to tell him so.

I remember as a child a favorite Sunday afternoon activity was when our family took a leisurely drive. If you want to really learn to know an area, see where the locals live, figure out how roads connect and where they go; take a Sunday afternoon drive.  Time almost stands still as you cruise along without having to be at a destination in a hurry. It was five hours of pure pleasure!

Spring is Bursting New Life

Signs of spring are everywhere and it is so wonderful, so refreshing and so beautiful. We love riding the golf cart over the farm, admiring the cows and newborn calves.  The woods are just bursting with new life, flowers are blooming and birds are singing. How grateful I am to live in a part of the country that we get to enjoy spring. God is so good.

Take a ride with me…..




Red tulips


Strawberries are blooming. I can hardly wait.


The lettuce and onions will soon be ready to eat.


The Maple trees are blooming. As kids we called them “helicopters” because of the way the twirled as they flurried to the ground.


The poison ivy is growing well.


The pear tree is full of fragrant blossoms. Do you see the busy wasp collecting nectar?


Can you believe that in one month, right around Mother’s Day, these peonies will be full-grown and laden with sweet smelling flowers?

IMG_7892Blooms on the birch tree.

IMG_7894Lots of baby calves.

IMG_7901If a calf is red or has a white face it is the offspring of our Red Hereford bull.

IMG_7906Some of the cute faces of the calves.




Noah says his grandpa has 60 hundred thousand million jillion cows.


Curious cows and Noah is scared to death of them.


Gene used his hat to hold the fence down so that he could climb over the fence.


He went over and sat on the ground to show Noah how to be very still and speak quietly to the cows and they will come up to you.


The cows looking at Gene and working their way to him.


The cows were grazing and also enjoying the warm sunny afternoon.

I am reminded of God’s promise to Noah when he stepped off the ark and the earth was springing forth new life. It was fresh and clean and invigorating after months in the dark, cramped, smelly ark.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease”.

Genesis 8:22

Two more pictures….I took these several days ago.


A hazy, full moon.


Fun Week at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s Farm

This is written by guest blogger, Karla Hostetter.  She and her brother, Ryan, have spent 5 days here over spring break. Karla is in 6th grade and loves to write.

The first full day I was here was Sunday. Noah came over and he had fun playing with Ryan and me. We first biked on the side of the driveway, but then decided to go into the cow pasture because Noah was having trouble biking on so much gravel. Ryan got tired of biking so he drove the golf cart beside Noah and me. Noah’s bike’s tire was starting to get flat so Ryan and I had to take his bike to Grandma to get the tire pumped up. I took my bike back to the house while Ryan got Noah’s bike. Ryan held the bike onto the back of the golf cart while I drove carefully and slowly to the shop. Noah’s tire got fixed by Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma pumped up the first tire, but could not get the second tire to pump up. That was because the tire slid out of its place. Grandpa put the tire back in place and got it pumped up. While Grandpa was fixing Noah’s bike, we went to play indoors. We had lots of fun. It was finally time for Noah to go home. His bike was fixed and he had fun.


The second full day was Monday. Monday was the day where I went to the back of the store with Ryan and Grandma to hold the baby ducks. I watched them for a little bit and got brave enough to hold one. He was a cute brown and black duck. I was just saying how cute he was to grandma when he did it. I didn’t realize at first but when I put him back in the cage and looked down at my hands, I spotted it. I spotted the poop on my hands. “ewww” was what I said. When I spotted the poop, Grandma did too. The entire time, from when I looked at my hands and walked back to the store counter where you check out, Grandma was laughing and laughing. That is a memory I do not miss.

Another thing that I did Monday was help clear the sticks from a certain spot across from the house. Grandma wanted to mow there so Ryan and I helped clear sticks for an hour or so.


We also drove the golf cart around the cow pasture which isn’t new, but getting the golf cart stuck was new. Ryan and I took turns on the golf cart and it was Ryan’s turn. He took the wheel and drove down to the bottom of the hill where it was muddy. The first time he drove over it just fine, but when we were going over it again he got stuck. I don’t blame him completely because I did tell him to go in through that spot, but I also did tell him to stop. I just said it a little too late. Ryan put the golf cart in neutral and then he got off the golf cart and tried to pull. I did the same. We pulled as much as we could pull and then we pushed as hard as we could, but it was no use. It would not budge. Ryan  started the engine again. The golf cart just got deeper and deeper into the mud. Ryan and I needed help. We walked all the way back to the store and told grandma. Grandma said that it was ok because they would get it out. Later Ryan and I hopped into Grandpa’s tractor and went with him to push it out. Grandpa didn’t stop the tractor for us to get out. He kept going until he pushed the golf cart out of the mud with the tractor’s “spikes”.

The last exciting thing I did that day was ride a horse! I biked to the horse stable and asked if I could ride. When they said yes,  my heart leaped with excitement. They told me that I would be riding Taz. I kept my bike helmet on and they saddled him up and I climbed up on the stairs and hopped on her because she was so big. I felt like I was so high in the air as I rode around the pen. It felt so magical. Taz. This was the most exciting day this week.


Tuesday was the day that Lauren came over. All three of us hung around for a while then rode on the golf cart. We drove the golf cart on the driveway and into the pasture. We eventually got tired of doing that and went back into the house.

Grandma said we could make cookies, so we decided to do so. We made Molasses Crinkles. We mixed the ingredients and then baked them. Some were a little crispy, but they were still good.


Lauren and I hung around and talked the rest of the time. Later, after Lauren left, I went biking in the cow pasture. I biked along the road until the pasture stopped and another one began. When I was pretty far down I saw out of the corner of my eye a cow laying in some wire. When I got close, it stood up scared. I noticed that it was tangled in the wire and stuck, so it couldn’t go very far. I wasn’t sure if I should help it myself or not, but I decided to leave that business to Grandpa. I raced back to the house, parked my bike, and walked up the driveway on the left side to get the golf cart from Ryan. I met him near the horse stable. He picked me up wondering why I was up that far up the driveway. I gave him a brief summery of what happened, then told him to take me to the store so I could tell Grandma and Grandpa. I found Grandma at the store and told her about the situation. She said she would go look in a minute. I went out to wait in the golf cart. Grandpa walked by the golf cart and went into the store. Then he came out and sat in the driver’s seat and asked me where I saw this stuck cow. I told him that it was on top of the hill and in the first pasture or the one you enter when you first go into the cow pastures. We took off to help the cow. When we arrived at our destination, Grandpa told Ryan and I to be very quiet. We were quieter than a lamb. Grandpa was amazing at getting the cow untangled. He first snapped the wire and pulled gently. Next he stepped on the wire to keep it still. Last of all he pulled a little more and the wire came off. The cow helped himself at the end by pulling away from the wire. Grandpa wrapped up the wire and put it on the fence post so it wouldn’t happen again. Ryan was going to take a picture, but he missed it. He had three to five minutes to take it and he completely missed it!

Wednesday, our last full day, and Lauren came over again but for a shorter amount of time. We started out by going to the store. Grandma had some chicks in the store and they were super cute! I decided to hold one. I enjoyed holding him lots. It was then when I decided to hold more chicks. I had held lots when a chick did it to me, again! I said, “Why does this always happen to me?” Grandma said, “I thought you wanted a farm?” I gave her a look that made her laugh. This pooping business has got me twice this week, and I didn’t come down here to get that!

Lauren and I played a game in the yard together. We would start a ways from the house. One person would close their eyes, spin around, and find their way to the house. The other person would tell them if they were close to something. Lauren and I played that game for thirty minutes or so. After we both had a chance to find our way to the house, it was time for Lauren to leave.

Later that evening I went on the tractor with Grandpa. During our “trip” I accidently said straw instead of hay. Grandpa told me the difference, which I was amazed at. I always thought that they were the same thing, but apparently hay is just dried grass. Straw is green, but turns yellow when ripe. When wheat turns yellow it looses some of its protein and the cows would still be hungry if they ate it, but with the dried grass, it will fill them up. I figured that I don’t need school with Grandpa around to teach me. :)


Ryan’s Spring Break at Grandpa and Grandmas

This is written by guest blogger, Ryan Hostetter. Ryan is in the third grade. Ryan and his sister, Karla, spent 5 days at our place over spring break.



Monday Morning…

Karla and I went to the horse stable to find out when Karla could ride a horse. The lady said” Come another day when it’s not windy”. While we were at the stable we saw some cats.




Monday evening…


When  we were driving in the cow pasture I saw a bull’s head-bone and the horns were still on!


In the morning, (Monday) I took a video of the cows chasing us with the hay bale.


Helped a customer find the baby chick room.


I was driving the golf cart (with Karla) and we went exploring in the cow pasture.  Karla thought it wasn’t muddy there so when we came back around Karla said, “STOP!” but it was too late. We were stuck and we tried pushing and pulling but it was really stuck.


How dirty the golf cart was after it was out of the ditch.


Karla and I cleaning the mud off the golf cart.

P.S. I did the cleaning basically.



One day it was so windy the barn at the horse stable flipped over.



I saw Spot snooping around under the fence.


How the marbles start


Tonight’s View From My Deck

This is tonight’s view from my deck.

The Mr. checking on his young stock.


And to the west….God’s magnificent, amazing, glorious artwork, free for the viewing.




See the bird flying into the sunset.


It just kept getting grand”er”!


The sky looked like a rolling wave of fire.

Doesn’t it remind you of the wave of water I took in Maui?





“Be exalted, O God above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth.”

Psalms 108:5


Pigeons are everywhere. It is probably the most popular, unwanted bird in the city and they can also be a messy nuisance on the farm. But, I love pigeons.  I love to watch them, I love the cooing noise they make and I love their colorful feathering.

Pigeons will make a mess in an old discarded barn or silo. I remember as a child daddy would occasionally find a nest of pigeons in the hay barn.  We would have pigeon rice soup for supper.  Just in case you don’t know, pigeon is very good to eat!

I have occasionally photographed our wild pigeons here on the farm.




I also have a pen of Tumblers-have had them for years. Tumblers fly in circles and then do a head over heel tumble or somersault out of the sky. Just between hitting the ground they soar to fly again. It is so neat to watch. I used to fly my birds but I had difficulty in retrieving them all back to the pen because of the wild pigeons. If you notice in the flock of wild pigeons on top of the silo there are some brown hues. I had a brown Tumbler that would not come back to the pen but was attracted to the “wild side” of town!  The effect is still noticeable.  Now I  just enjoy the beauty of their colorings of blue, brown, white and everything in between and listening to them coo.

Short clip of my Tumblers cooing and protecting their nesting area from other intruders.


Baby pigeons nurse by inserting their beaks into the throats of their parents-yes, male and female. As you could see in the video clip the adults are very protective of their nesting area and when another pigeon invades the area will peck at it until it leaves.











Wanta Shoot Basketball?

I was barely in the door yesterday when Ryan wanted to know if I wanted to shoot basketball. Now I haven’t played basketball for years upon years upon years. It gave me flashbacks of Junior-High PE at John C. Myers School in Broadway!  My knee was hurting like crazy but I bravely said, “sure”.  His next comment was, “Do you wanta play horse, pigs, grandma or….”.  Now I realize we were not just shooting baskets, we are playing a game and knowing Ryan, he will be very competitive!  I chose pigs-I decided it was the safest as it was the shortest.  Maybe I could make it through. My strategy was to get this game over quick and then I could go act like a grandma with a swollen knee.

When we got to the concrete pad outside the garage door I was given detailed instructions on how to dribble, do layups and shoot. I told him I used to love to play basketball and I was pretty good but it had been a long time since I had played.

His first instructions were to practice shoot a few balls and I could choose my ball. We both bounced our ball and randomly shot numerous balls “towards” the hoop. All missed.  He decided to lower the basket so I could do better! He showed me how to aim for the top of the square painted on the backboard and it would go in. His didn’t.

All of a sudden I hit my groove and we decided to start playing. It did not matter if I shot from the left or right, straight up or a layup of sorts, I was sinking the ball and he was missing more than he got.  I smiled to myself when he decided he needed to raise the basket!  We had fun and he was a good sport even though I skunked him at “p-i-g-s”.   As we put the balls away he said, “Grandma, you are better than I thought!”  I felt a twinge of guilt for beating him so bad but it did feel good at the ripe old age of 63 to still be able to sink the ball in the hoop.

« Older entries

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 835 other followers