Christian Devotion — In the Midst of Fear


I wrote this devotion after reading a diary kept by a friend during a hiking trip to Europe. From that same diary I wrote two other stories – both religious — about Sharon’s thoughts and feelings during her travels. All were published with her permission and I gave her copies of the published articles. I hope this blesses you and teaches you to trust in God.




While backpacking alone through Europe, Sharon, an American, had to board a boat in Northern Ireland that would take her to Scotland. Hostile glances from the other passengers came her way as she stood in line to pay the fare. Sharon realized that because she was a stranger and traveling by herself, the people in the country saw her as a threat. For the first time on her 21-day journey, she began to feel afraid for her safety.


Sharon sent an urgent plea heavenward. “Lord, please take care of me in this place full of strangers. Show me You are beside me, watching over me.’


When it was time to pay the fare, the white-haired captain of the boat asked Sharon, “Where’re you headed, Miss?”


“Scotland,” she replied.


“That would be the third stop for you, Miss.” Sharon nodded and moved to the side.

Once at sea, the boat’s engine made a deep chug-chugging sound that filled the air around the boat and carried out over the waves. The captain’s deep voice could be heard clearly above the noise: “If you’re a-wantin’ Scotland, it’s the third stop. Ya’ don’t be a-wantin’ the first or second stop, but the third stop for Scotland.” Every few minutes, he repeated the announcement, looking around at all the passengers and smiling in a friendly manner.


After two or three similar announcements, Sharon caught on. As the only American on board, she was obviously the only one who needed a reminder. Sharon tried to maintain an outward look of calm, even though her nerves felt frayed. Would the other passengers grow angry with the captain’s attention towards her?


When Sharon looked around, the faces of the crowd surprised her. Instead of frowns, people smiled. A few people chuckled as their heads swiveled between her and the captain. Sharon relaxed, more relieved than she wanted to admit, that the earlier tension was gone, dissolved under the captain’s care.


Once the boat arrived in Scotland, Sharon gathered her belongings and stood in line to disembark. She thanked the elderly captain for his help. His ruddy face revealed gentle understanding as he wished her a safe trip.


Sharon also thanked God for His help. Never again would she doubt His care for her in a tension-filled situation.


The End


Child-Like Praise

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies.” Psalm 8:2

Spending time with children can teach us about God.

Spending time with children can teach us about God.

Our family had trekked around San Francisco for five days and my legs felt like lead. My husband was tired too, but he had wanted us to hike Muir Woods before going home.
Our 11- and 13-year-olds didn’t want to go up yet another hill. Wondering how to keep everyone happy, I glanced at our youngest.
Eight-year-old Lindsay was brandishing a walking stick like a baton. “Thanks for tuning in to the Lunge Lindsay Aerobics Class,” she announced. “Today we’ll hike to the top of this mountain. Put one foot in front of the other, folks, and follow me!” She turned around and began climbing. The rest of us laughed and followed. Today, several years later, we still chuckle about how she got our family to climb that mountain together.

Children can lead us in behavior that praises God. God approved of our family activity that day because He established the family unit to love and honor each other. How can a child teach you to praise God today?

Prayer: God, thank you for children to point us to you. Help us listen to them to know you more. Amen.

Indiana Media Marketplace, Good Place to Learn about Indiana’s Gems

A look of European architecture Inside West Baden Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.

A look of European architecture Inside West Baden Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Indiana Media Marketplace event in Indianapolis at the State Fair grounds. It was a great opportunity for someone like me who loves to write travel articles and blog posts about our great state to visit with people interested in the same thing. Representatives from Visitor Centers around the state were there to talk with writers, trip organizers and others about the newest products, innovations, services their areas offered.

The goal is to interest writers/editors/others into publicizing the events. I’ve already contacted several editors about ideas I learned about and hope to write several.

So many fun events are happening that I want to just travel around Indiana taking in all the fun and beauty! After three hours, I had talked with 30 reps and had 3 goody bags on my arms! Here is a photo of some of the items the reps were giving away.

Fun giveaways at IN Media Marketplace

Fun giveaways at IN Media Marketplace

While I can’t take the time to list all of the 30 wonderful events and places I learned about, I’ll list some highlights.

The Red Skelton Festival in Vincennes (his hometown) on June 5-8, 2013, honors one of America’s most-beloved comedians! There is a Red Skelton Museum and re-runs of his shows and comedy camps where people can practice Red’s characters like Freddy the Freeloader. Go to and for more details.

Another can’t miss is a visit to the only nation’s only perfumery, Annie Oakley Studio in Ligonier. This would be a great girlfriend road trip!

Indianapolis is opening a new 8-mile bike trail that will go around the entire city! Wow!

I’ll mention other must-do’s for summer travel one-tank trips in future posts. Subscribe to this blog so you’ll not miss one!

What’s your favorite travel destination? Why?

Mad Anthony’s Restaurant Serves Fantastic Food and Memories



It was always a desire of mine to be a travel writer. I’ve written travel-related stories for many locales, including Alaska, Florida, Ohio, Indiana. I currently write posts about Fort Wayne (IN) for the . This is a fun way to get to know a city’s best eating /entertainment spots. This restaurant is a family favorite – give it a try! Disclaimer: No one in my family has ever received free food from this restaurant as a result of writing these posts.




Recently, my two grown children and I thought about where to go for lunch in Fort Wayne. We actually only thought for one minute because both of them piped together: “Mad Anthony’s!”


This restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Taylor Streets in Fort Wayne has been a family fave of ours for many years.


We love the funky, retro interior with signage posted everywhere. The walls are covered with maps, bumper stickers, license plates, political posters, and handwritten messages even on the ceiling. A seating area separate from the bar makes it perfect for families with young children to dine. In warm weather outdoor seating on the restaurant’s west side invites customers to enjoy the fresh air.


We usually order a pizza but only if we have at least an hour to sit there because preparation takes approximately 30 minutes. Each time we have ordered a pizza our waiter mentioned this to make sure we knew the length of time it will take. The pizzas are always worth the wait! I love the crusts– this is usually the main factor for me with a pizza, I don’t know why. Plenty of toppings and cheese too. Yum!


Over the years we have also ordered sandwiches and appetizers at Mad Anthony’s. The only type of food we have yet to try is a dessert, but we’re always so stuffed from Mad Anthony’s great entrees, we have no room left for more!


Prices are really reasonable. We ordered a 10-inch pizza, cheese curds appetizer, tilapia sandwich and one cola drink. Cost: $33.00. It was too much food so we had it boxed up and we plan to eat leftovers today.


Service has always been good. When we asked for directions to a destination across town, our waiter came back twice to provide details.


Another time my mother who uses a walker maneuvered easily across the floor and had plenty of room when seated which was helpful. We don’t find those factors at every dining establishment. Mad Anthony’s is a fun, delicious, reasonably-priced place to eat in Fort Wayne. Try it with friends or family.


2002 Broadway
Fort Wayne, IN  46802
(260) 426-2537


 Serves: Gourmet pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and munchies. Live entertainment, family dining, carryout and catering. Also, in Auburn, Warsaw and Elkhart. Sunday carryout Fort Wayne only.


The End 

WWII Navy vet Richard Vanderwall

Vanderwall 10-12 (2)

I met  Richard Vanderwall last summer in my quest to interview WWII vets and record their stories. He and his wife are sweet people and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them. They live at the same retirement community as Mom. If you know a WWII vet, ask them to share stories– you’ll be amazed!


“By the time our ship reached Pearl Harbor on December 12, oil from the explosions of American ships was three inches thick on the water,” said Richard Vanderwall of Fort Wayne.


Vanderwall was a Seaman 2nd class assigned to the USS Indianapolis in the United States Navy. His duties included keeping the ship’s log while at sea and being stationed on the bridge above two batteries of 8-inch guns. His duty of being stationed on the ship’s bridge above the two batteries of 8-inch guns would result in permanent hearing loss in one ear.


Upon hearing of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the USS Indianapolis which was just arriving at Johnston Island, 717 miles southwest of Honolulu, when the attack occurred. Immediately the cruiser reversed its course and headed toward the Hawaiian Islands to help.


Despite being five days after the initial attack, danger was not over. At 1800 hours on December 12, a Japanese sub fired on the USS Indianapolis. Thankfully, it missed, giving the Allies time to retaliate. “One of our destroyers blew him out of the water,” said Vanderwall.


As the pier for the USS Indianapolis was demolished by the Japanese war planes, the Indianapolis docked at another pier. No lights were allowed. For 10 days the USS Indianapolis, two other American cruisers and three American destroyers patrolled the area, looking for enemy subs and aircraft on radar.


Such excitement was not part of Richard Vanderwall’s plan when he joined the Navy in 1940. Born on a Potawatomi Indian Reservation in Delia, Kansas in 1921, Vanderwall lived with his family, including parents and two sisters and two brothers. His father worked for a man who owned a nearby ranch.


After graduating from High School in Soldier, Kansas, in 1939, Vanderwall looked for employment. The Depression made it nearly impossible to find a job. His father had been a sailor with the United States Navy during World War I. He recommended that Richard join the military and be guaranteed a pay check. With his father’s assistance in accompanying him to the recruiting station in Topeka, Kansas, Richard Vanderwall passed all of his tests and enlisted in the Navy in February 1940.


By May Vanderwall had completed Basic Training at Great Lakes Training Center (today it is called Naval Station Great Lakes). He was assigned to 120 Company G. Each sailor was issued clothing, one sheet, hammock and pillow. “Some guys never learned sleep to sleep in a hammock,” said Vanderwall who was able to do so.


From Chicago Vanderwall was sent to Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco, California, where he was assigned to the USS Maryland. This location was, among other things, the major Navy departure point for sailors in the Pacific.



In May 1940 the USS Maryland and its crew set out for Honolulu. During the 2,200 mile trip Vanderwall quickly acquired his sea legs. “I was never sick,” he said. After receiving a New Testament Bible from his mother, he often spent time reading it.


At Pearl Harbor Vanderwall was transferred to the USS Indianapolis. By Sept 1942 His rank was Quartermaster 2nd class. Vanderwall was not authorized to carry a side arm.


The incident with Pearl Harbor had put the United States at war with Axis powers. The American Navy, though damaged heavily by Japan’s destruction at Pearl Harbor, recovered and became aggressive in fighting the Japanese and Germans. As a result, Vanderwall saw plenty more action.


In February 1942 at Rabaul on the island of New Britain, approximately 350 miles south of New Guinea, Japanese bombers attacked American ships. One of them was the USS Indianapolis. Miraculously, the ships escaped damage while every Japanese plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire by the ships and fighter planes in the area. One American fighter pilot, Butch O’Hare, shot down five enemy planes, eliminating the primary threat. His precise actions that day made him America’s first flying ace and a Medal of Honor recipient.



The Japanese continued to rule Rabaul, using it as an air base, though essentially cut off by Allied forces on surrounding islands. They surrendered the island in 1945.


Another naval battle for Vanderwall took place at Kiska, Alaska.

The Japanese had captured Kiska, part of the Aleutian Island chain, on June 6, 1942. The sole inhabitants of the island included a small U.S. Navy Weather Detachment consisting of ten men. The next day the Japanese captured the nearby island of Attu.


In October USS Indianapolis and other American vessels attempted to fire on Japanese troops on the island of Kiska. The Japanese returned fire, but no lives were lost. The Japanese held the island until 1943. Vanderwall and other sailors involved in the skirmish earned a battle star for the endeavor.


Another danger common to sailors came not from enemy fire but Mother Nature in the form of typhoons. In November 1942 Vanderwall’s ship encountered a typhoon with 15-foot waves and winds of 100 knots (115 mph) that endangered the lives of everyone on board. This particular typhoon lasted for two days. “We were approaching the Unimac Pass in the Aleutian chain,” said Vanderwall. “Despite the bad weather, we cleared the pass and kept the ship steady.”


By November 1942, Vanderwall had seen enough excitement on the Indianapolis and asked to be reassigned. He left the ship in November 1942 in Alaska and returned at Treasure Island near San Francisco where he was assigned to the USS Tuluran.


Vanderwall was still in the Navy on July 30, 1945, when the Indianapolis, still serving Allied forces, was torpedoed by a Japanese sub. The Indianapolis had just delivered critical parts for the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to the United States air base at Tinian when it was attacked.


The ship sank in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 crewmen aboard, approximately 317 went down with the ship. For four days the remaining men faced death, primarily by shark attacks as they awaited assistance. Survivors were spotted four days later by the crew of a patrol boat. Only 317 sailors survived. Indianapolis was the last major U.S. Navy ship sunk by enemy action in World War II.


Even though Vanderwall had been off of the Indianapolis for two years, he recalls the angry feelings he and other American sailors felt as they heard the news of its sinking. “There was not a single guy in the American Navy who didn’t want be out at sea at that time,” he said. The feelings of patriotism have continued throughout his life.


After leaving the Tuluran, Vanderwall was sent by the Navy to Washburn University in Topeka to enroll in courses for aeronautical engineering.


In July 1944 he was transferred to the University of Notre Dame for more schooling. There he met a pretty high school graduate named Erma. “She was a hostess at the Service Men’s Center,” said Vanderwall. Hostesses danced and provided conversation with soldiers. Erma left the center with her date, but returned to dance with Vanderwall.


The two kept in touch while Vanderwall resumed his military career. Following Japan’s surrender in August 1945, Vanderwall was discharged in February 1946. For being involved in three battles Vanderwall was awarded three battle stars. He proposed to Erma on Valentine’s Day 1946 and they married in April.


Vanderwall planned to use his GI (‘government issue’, a term used to refer to an American soldier) bill benefits to attend Notre Dame. He switched his major from aeronautical engineering to economics. However, the college had a 2-year waiting period, due to other soldiers wanting to use the GI bill. Vanderwall enrolled instead at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. By the time he graduated in 1949, the Vanderwalls had two children.


They would eventually have six children and later 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


Richard Vanderwall became an insurance salesman working in LaPorte, Muncie, Fort Wayne, and Minnesota. He retired in Fort Wayne. Today, Richard and Erma Vanderwall live in a retirement community in Fort Wayne.


In June 2011 Vanderwall participated in the Honor Flight, a program that offers WWII veterans the opportunity to tour the nation’s capital, free of charge. “I am proud to have been involved as an American sailor in World War II,” he said. “The experiences I had at that time have been with me all of my life.”


The End







Fulbright Scholar Lauren Petersen Completes Year in Poland

Lauren Petersen and US Ambassador Feinstein



“Europe is this huge melting pot of cultures,” said 2007 Bluffton High School graduate Lauren Petersen. “That’s what I wanted to experience as a Fulbright Scholar. I wanted to be immersed in something completely new.”


In June Petersen returned from a year spent as a Fulbright Scholar teaching English to students at Wroclaw University in Wroclaw, Poland. Petersen had applied for the scholarship during her senior year at Ball State University. She received notification of her acceptance into the Fulbright Program in May 2011, the same month she graduated with a degree in Urban Planning and Development.


Lauren Petersen with some of her students.

According to the Council for International Exchange of Scholars website (, the Fulbright Scholarship is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government designed to increase understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries. Participants are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential in order to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.


The Fulbright scholarship paid her room and board and salary from September 2011 when she arrived in Poland until May 2012. During the year, she taught English to 20 Polish students who had graduated from college.


“They were fluent in English but desired to increase their conversational knowledge of the language,” she said. Using a syllabus, she challenged the students to think critically and share thoughts about specific subjects, such as their home lives and war and peace. At the end of the year they were required to present a speech on a topic of their choice. “I graded them on their fluency and usage of English,” said Petersen.


Lauren with Andrzej Dakowski, Executive Director of the Polish Fulbright Commission

Although Petersen had taught piano and swim lessons to students one-on-one in the US, she had never managed a large group. She discovered a love for teaching. “My mother is a teacher and I realized that passion she has for it,” she said. “To see the students’ progress made my preparatory work so worth it.”


Outside of the classroom Petersen struggled at times with communication. She had traveled overseas previously for academic and recreational purposes but had never lived in another country.


Assigned a room in student housing of the university, she daily encountered students from other countries, including Spain, Turkey, Germany and France. “I not only had to contend with learning Polish language but other languages as well,” she said.


While trying to befriend those whom she met, Petersen learned enough of the Polish language to order food in a restaurant, travel by bus and purchase food at the supermarket. “Using the Rosetta Stone program helped me much,” she added. Rosetta Stone is a foreign language teaching program.


During the year, Petersen traveled to 18 countries and wrote for an online magazine. She met up with friends from the US who were living abroad. She also assisted the country’s Make A Wish Foundation, the same program of which she had been a part while serving as Miss Central Indiana and other pageant positions in recent years.


“In Poland I worked with a 12-year old boy who wanted to go to the Baltic Sea with his family,” she said. She met with the child’s family and promoted the program within the community.


One of the highlights of her year was working with the consulate of the US Embassy. “Together, we promoted the international exchange program,” she said. “We gave presentations at high schools and the university, encouraging students to study abroad.” She added that one of her future goals is to work for the consulate and ambassador.


Currently, Petersen is interning through the summer with the Indianapolis Colts in the Community Relations Department. She hopes to return to Poland someday. “I met so many wonderful people this past year,” she said. “I absolutely intend to make it back. It was a life-changing experience.”


Note: Lauren Petersen recorded many of her experiences of traveling and living in Europe at her blog:


The End


Cutline: Lauren Petersen of Bluffton met the Ambassador of the US Embassy, Lee Feinstein, during her year spent teaching English in Poland.





Berne Festival Reflects Its Swiss Heritage

This fun festival takes place in just a few weeks. Make it a point to attend! I guarantee you’ll have fun! This article appeared in News-Sentinel newspaper (Fort Wayne IN). I shot all of the photos. Check out other travel articles I’ve written by searching ‘travel’.



The Palmer House is Berne has been a great place to eat for decades.

After viewing scalloped balconies, white flags with red crosses and black bears, and bright window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers you might think you’ve been transported to a quaint Swiss village.


In summer Berne’s shops offer a plethora of floral treats for the eye.

In reality you are in the rural community of Berne located one hour south of Fort Wayne, Indiana, on US 27. Throughout the year, Berne decorates its town to reflect the Swiss heritage its founding fathers brought with them from their native country 160 years ago.


The Berne community has many farm families with interesting barns dotting the landscape.

When 70 Swiss Mennonite immigrants settled in the northeastern corner of Indiana in 1852, it was to find a new life of religious freedom. They named the town they founded after the capital of their beloved homeland — Bern, Switzerland. The community grew to 4,000 and became known for its friendliness, neatness and hard work ethics. Today, a variety of industries exist in Berne, symbolizing those same values – printer, milk producer, magazine publisher, and 100-year-old furniture makers.


The Luginbill House is part of the Swiss Heritage Village display.

People from other cultures joined the early settlers, including the Old-Order Amish which today number around 5,000. Yet, the traditions of the Swiss still remain.


The citizens of Berne know more than how to work. They commemorate their heritage by hosting a Swiss Days Festival each year during the last weekend of July.


Quilting is a popular hobby in Berne and many quilts are on display during Swiss Days.

The festival features yodelers, polka bands, bellows music, an edelweiss orchestra, folk dancing and a Steintoss contest. An estimated 50,000 festival-goers attend the festival. In 2012 the festival will take place July 26-29.


Sidewalk sales begin Friday morning at 8 am on Main Street. Merchants line the streets in front of their shops, which are blocked off for the weekend, with items marked down to terrific discounts. Bring your Christmas list to get an early start.


The Gathering House is a combination antique store, bakery and restaurant all in one! Prices are reasonable, even during Swiss Days.

A number of food booths will be interspersed in the six blocks of Main Street, selling crowd favorites like Lemon Shake-Ups, Wisconsin Cheese on a Stick and Elephant Ears.


If you want heartier fare, check out The Palmer House Restaurant on Main Street. It’s been offering smorgasbords since 1942, long before that method of serving was a common practice.


Or you can multi-task across the street at The Gathering House, a combination antique shop and bakery. In addition to large luscious-looking homemade cookies that sell for a mere 50 cents, the menu for Swiss Days will feature Swiss Schuetzie Salad for $4.25 (Schuetzie is a hot bacon dressing poured over lettuce). Place your order, then shop the store’s two floors of antiques and specialty items while you wait.


Take note: The Gathering House is not open on Sundays.


Inside the Swiss Heritage Village schoolhouse we can imagine what it was like to attend classes with all ages.

If you like to be creative look up The Swiss Days Quilt Show and Swiss Days Bake-off Contest held at various locations around Berne.


Make time to visit the Swiss Heritage Village and Museum. The 26-acre campus boasts a nature center, ponds, woods and 12 original 19th-century buildings which volunteers have restored and are available for tours. The Swiss Heritage Village and Museum is the largest outdoor museum in northern Indiana. It makes sense the world’s largest cider press, built in 1872 from a white pine tree and weighing several tons is inside. The press is operated in the fall by members of the Swiss Heritage Society who crush 50 bushels of apples at the same time for cider for school groups.


It’s hard to believe farmers of 150 years ago could create this behemoth of a cider press weighing several ton!

Free tours of various area businesses, including Berne Furniture, House of White Birches, and Swiss Village Retirement Community, are available during the festival. Other activities include horse pulls, Little Miss Swiss Days Crowning, and a sand sculpture competition at nearby Pine Lake.

Check the festival’s website for details.



If you want to purchase something Amish-made, Berne’s Chamber of Commerce has a map of local Amish businesses, including bakeries, hardware, and woodworking shops.


If You Go:

Log on to Swiss Days Festival’s website:


Or you can contact the Berne Chamber of Commerce

175 W Main St

PO Box 85

Berne IN  46711



The End