Category: Family Life

Smoking at School?

Another Way for week of October 14, 2017 Smoking at School? It was the Motley Crew who sang this popular song by The Brownsville Station in the year 1973: “Smokin’ in the boys room … Everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school...

How Are We Taught to Love?

Another Way for week of October 6, 2017 How Are We Taught to Love? One of my newer favorite writers, Marianne Jantzi, posed this question in one of her “Connections” columns (a small Canadian women’s magazine): “What if we had never been taught to keep...

Mennonite Recipe for Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread I feel truly doubly guilty whenever my bananas get too old to eat—or at least too old to enjoy eating. Barbara Kingsolver made me especially feel that way nine years ago in her prize-winning book, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life for buying bananas, knowing they had to be shipped from […]

Every Boy Needs to Learn to Can Beans

Every Boy Needs to Learn to Can Beans Last weekend we had some moments of pure gold with a niece getting married at some lovely Shenandoah Valley caverns near here, picking pole beans and canning them with two of my grandsons here, and my youngest daughter being ordained and installed as an elder at her […]

Sad songs, happy people

Usually, the podcasts I listen to are sermons from other churches, so that I can steal ideas from be inspired by other preachers. I also listen to a few other thinkers and sports commentators, including quasi-Canadian, quasi-Mennonite Malcolm Gladwell. His podcast is entitled “Revisionist History” and in this most recent season (which you can find […]

7 Advantages of a Mobile Mindset

I’ve always envied those who’ve lived in the same area their whole life. Their family is near by; their friends know all their childhood secrets and family idiosyncrasies; their future appears more stable; and they have a whole community in an emergency. However, I know that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t moved. I can’t even begin to imagine how my perspective on life would be different. While neither a mobile or stable perspective is better than the other, here are eight reasons I’m grateful I’ve moved: #1 Loose Hold
Over the years people have asked me “Do you like this area better than this area?” My standard response is that it is the people who make the place. Every area has its advantages and disadvantages: The Shore has mystical fog and friends who refuse to let me stagnate. The Shenandoah Valley had changing leaves and deeply respected mentors. Florida had the Spanish moss and friends my age.
Moving forces me to enjoy my current situation, while accepting that it’d be okay if I had to leave at some point. It creates a homesickness for heavenly perfection, and it creates strong friendships which have to survive the test of distance.
#2 Newcomer Sensitivity
Because I’ve been the newcomer before, I tend to notice new people quicker than others. I have a better sense of how to help them fit in and what will be uncomfortable for them. #3 Unique Experiences
I’ve lived on the Shore for 6 years, but have never gone to the Pony Swim or up to Wallops to watch a rocket takeoff. Sometimes I become immune to the joys around me. They become mundane. But when I am new to an area, I take advantage of all the new and different opportunities. In the course of life I’ve had experiences that while considered ordinary in some localities are unique in others; I;ve been to quilting circles, oyster roasts, and concerts. I’ve had both a fox in my backyard and a drug ring next door. Similarly, my friends have been varied since I haven’t kept the same ones from elementary school --missionary kids, immigrants, homeschoolers, public school teachers, Mennonite, Baptist, Pentecostal, liberal, and conservative.
#4 Broader Worldview
I don’t mean to be arrogant in stating that those who live in the same area their whole life aren’t aware of what else is going on in the world. That’s not true. Yet, I’m grateful for the new people and different experiences I’ve been given. For example, having a Haitian college friend has dramatically affected the way I interact with my Haitian students and helped me better understand their educational background and cultural values.
Once, when returning to an area I used to live in, I found that a local conflict seemed far less important since I had since been exposed to bigger issues. I was much more willing to focus on our commonalities than before. #5 God-Dependency
My friends who’ve lived in the same place for a long period of time know who to ask about a car question, who everyone borrows tablecloths from for their wedding, and who doesn’t mind babysitting for them. They have no trouble raising support for a mission trip since they have know people of all ages. Building those connections is usually a slow process for newcomers like myself who tend to only be introduced to one group at a time (e.g. co-workers or young adults).
Guess what that means?
I get to ask God for help a whole lot more! The answer isn’t always just a phone call away.
#6 Courage
Life is more comfortable when I’m settled. The longer I am in a area the less I will want to change, the more complacent I am. Goals like a master’s degree seem unimportant compared to my current busy schedule. Yet, my mobile perspective has taught me to be less afraid of change and new possibilities. While I don’t feel as courageous and creative as Henri Nouwen’s description, I still like the way he puts it: “I am constantly struck by the fact that those who are most detached from life, those who have learned through living that there is nothing and nobody to cling to, are the really creative people. They are free to move constantly away from the familiar, safe places and can keep moving forward to new unexplored areas of life.” (52)
#7 Fresh Identity Every place I’ve lived, people view me differently. With two siblings in web development occupations and two other siblings who know far more about technology than I do, I didn’t think of myself as very tech-savvy until my current job where I’ve been one of the main proponents for 1:1 student devices.
Again, in comparison with my family, I never thought of myself as athletic, preferring to read inside than shoot hoops with my brother or walk with my mom. Yet, my college friends had a different perspective of me, voting me as athletic director of my intramural group and grudgingly attending the school sports games that I dragged them to.
I’ve appreciated developing new hobbies and interests, and quite frankly, not being as limited by others’ expectations or family comparisons. #8 Gratefulness In my experience, the saying "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" is completely true. I value my family, my heritage and my friends more because I've had to live without them at times.
If you’ve moved, do any of these descriptions apply to you? Would you add any? Do you tend to view moving as positive or negative?
Works Cited:
Nouwen, Henri J. M. A Letter of Consolation. New York: Harper & Row, 1982. Print.

What’s in a name?

Some twenty odd years ago, while working as the director of communications for Virginia Mennonite Conference and Missions, I began our monthly newsletter with a short devotional titled “Klymer Klatsch.” It was a takeoff on the German word/phrase “Kaffeeklatsch” which means a conversation over coffee. I simply changed the first letter of my name to form an alliteration.
The old city hall in Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland
When I began to write a blog a few years later, it was only natural for me to resurrect the name Klymer Klatsch for the title. I’ve had numerous conversations about this title; most people are bemused by my choice. 
While here in Switzerland, I’ve enjoyed doing some work on my ancestry, particularly looking into the origins of my father’s name Clymer, and my mother’s, Horst. 
The immigrant from whom I descend arrived in Philadelphia with the name Henrich Clemmer. He had been Klemmer in Germany before he made the cross-oceanic voyage. My great-grandfather changed our name from Clemmer to Clymer. 
Through email exchanges with Mennonite historian John Ruth, I discovered that the Klemmer name originated in Affoltern am Albis, a region southeast of Zürich. He also told me that there were variants of the name in the same region: Klimer, Klimmer, and Kleiner. So I searched websites related to the region and found another interesting variation of the name: KLYMER. Yes, the same name as I use in my alliterative blog title! 
But it gets even more interesting. I kept finding all sorts twists and turns on the Clemmers’ migration to the USA with genealogical experts presenting contrasting views. So when I discovered a website, I was lured by the statement, “Research your Swiss, German, or Mennonite Ancestry,” including information on the Clemmers, I sprung for it. 
I excitedly opened the PDF file on the Clemmer genealogy and the very first entry at the top of 
The region Am Albis, near Zürich, where Klymer comes from
the page was this: “Thoman Klymer, b. c1554 at Affoltern, Zurich, Switzerland.” So the earliest found relative of mine was named KLYMER. The very same name I have used in my blog title. A coincidence? Pure luck? Or was it something planted in my unconscious that I’ve carried with me all these years?
I planned an excursion to Affoltern, the area of my ancestors. Since there was no graveyard near the train station, I started out on foot, looking for variations of my name on the mailboxes of apartment complexes. I must have looked at some 100 mailboxes without any success. Instead I found all sorts of other Swiss-Mennonite surnames: Huber, Good, Eberly, Lichty, Noll, Siegrist, Gautsche, Bergey, Mischler, Hess, Eby and Baer. I even found the name of some Honduran Anabaptists multiple times: Machado! 
Not to be deterred, I began asking people on the street if they had a schoolmate or acquaintance named, Klemmer, Klimmer, Klymer or Kleiner. After enduring a number of puzzled looks, I finally found someone who knew of several Kleiners who were classmates of hers. I didn’t have time to schedule a visit with them, but I felt like I had made a connection. 
What’s in a name? For me searching for my ancestry through my surname was a process of finding roots, a home. I now know where I’ve come since at least 1554. That’s over 450 years. 
What’s in a name? A name that has been passed down for so many years and in different places, gives me a sense of knowing who I am. That name ties me to a human history of both time and place. But I also have another name. I have been stamped with the “image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1:27), like every other human being. While my Klymer name links me to an earthly heritage, my God identity links me to an eternal heritage. “I have called you by name, you are mine, (Isa. 43:1)” says my creator. God has been calling me “Klymer” since before I was born, and since before I discovered where I’m from. 

The Company We Keep

Another Way for week of August 25, 2017 The Company We Keep My husband left me in early August to go on a work trip to West Virginia to help rebuild a home after the floods of June 2016. You may recall the one that forced the closing of the Greenbrier Resort in those parts. […]

Steinbach, Manitoba

Our birthplaces have significance—they determine our citizenship for one!—even if we move from that spot immediately after our birth. I was born in Steinbach, Manitoba and spent my first six years of life on a farm about six miles north of there. Then after moving a few hours west with my family I traveled back […]

Loved, Spoiled, and Boundaries

My apologies to readers for my schedule these past few weeks, a bit haphazard in posting Another Way columns because of vacations and busy summer gardening projects. I usually post them a week after publication in newspapers. We’ll get back on schedule! Another Way for week of July 28, 2017: Loved, Spoiled, and Boundaries I […]

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