Who was Franz W. Voigt?

Many years ago, my father pointed out one pretty picture in his collection of oil and water paintings at our farm and told me to take care of it. I hauled it from there to my new home a couple years ago and left it packed behind my desk.

Last week I thought I’d bring it out and put a new frame on it. The old one was ugly and I disposed of it fifteen years ago. The local framers did a nice job and I posted the results on my Facebook page. Two of my friends saw the name and looked it up. The 1883 artist has a number of relatively famous paintings.

I like it. I will hang it up in memory of my dad’s time spent in Germany following WWII.

I went on the internet and promptly saw a picture very similar to mine with the same signature. How odd, I thought

My picture is a rural scene in Germany. FW Voigt

Done Running, Chapter Four *Sigurd’s letter to Meryl Wynatt

Letter #1 

On the first envelope, the cancellation date was 1937, with a number of smudged cancellation postmarks. I’d need a magnifying glass to read them. There were three different-colored stamps. The return address was simply “Sig Johnson, Retalhuleu, Guat.” I wondered what that even meant.

Opening the flap on the pale blue envelope I saw Dad’s perfect penmanship on thin blue vellum paper labelled ‘correo aereo’ in red and indigo. I closed my eyes remembering how he sat, hunched over his desk, writing in his journals and punching the keys on that old black Monarch typewriter. I never questioned what he was writing and I wondered where his papers were now.

Cool night/ hot days   March 19, 1937

Dear Meryl,

How are you my good friend? As you can see from my postmark I am not in Chicago or Boston. My ship anchored a few days ago, off Champerico, Guatemala and I took a boat to the docks. Today I thought I’d write to you. In case you had not heard, I am embarking on a rough journey eastward across Guatemala to try to find a friend, Edward Weeks, who disappeared somewhere in central Guatemala. He came here on his own to do research but now the Institute wants me to find him. He was looking for an archaeological site but it has been nearly a year since he set off to hunt for those Mayan ruins. The government officers here said they know nothing and so I might be wasting my time but the Institute supplied me with steamer tickets, some rather poor maps and a new Indian motorcycle! I have a generous amount of “pesos” in my pocket too.

Today I unloaded my motorcycle and I am looking for a guide who can take me through the mountains. I have to find my contact in Chichicastenango which lies to the north and east hundred miles ahead of me in the mountains. I can see smoke coming from volcanoes here, Meryl! I hope I will find gasoline when I need it. I have a tank for extra fuel but it makes the trip rather hazardous. My Spanish will be tested sorely as I try to find my way. My map I have is not the greatest so I have to rely on directions from my contacts and the natives.

Before I left, I wrote to my parents so they’d know where I am headed. Please keep an eye on them for me until I return. Sometimes I am jealous of your quiet life back home and regret leaving you all behind, but Ed was a good friend and he has a family back home who wonders what happened to him. It might get a little hairy here. Please be sure to hang on to those papers I gave you. I will see you as soon as I can get back.

The port here is very hot and at night the mosquitos are terrible. My little room is no more than a cot and a small desk. There are no screens so you have to put up with the bugs or suffer the heat! I spent all day yesterday walking around this ‘pueblo’. It is primitive compared to Madison or Chicago, but the fruit and vegetables in their market are wonderfully flavorful. I especially like the aguacate. It’s a green fruit with a big seed inside. The greenish meat has the smooth texture of soft cheese. They have a delightfully different flavor. The pineapples here are as sweet as candy. They fry a banana-like fruit called ‘plantanos fritos’. I have also developed a particular liking for their little yellow corn tortillas made everywhere over open fires. They are served with every meal and are very good rolled up with thick black-bean paste. Everything here is very cheap except for meat. They eat fish cooked on the beach, right out of the Pacific. I bought several white shirts of the native style and some pantaloons that I can stuff into knee-high leather boots because I have heard there’s venomous snakes here. I’ve been warned about scorpions and spiders too.

They say that it is cold in the mountains so I picked up two ‘serapes’, hand woven wool vests with deep pockets. I bought a leather jacket and hat for riding on the Indian. They can double for blankets. My American suit jackets I gave to a young guy who was returning north. I will have to travel light.

A strange thing happened on board coming down from San Francisco. Apparently, the crew discovered a stowaway, a Chinaboy. He was a skinny little demon, quite a scrapper. After a scuffle with several of the crewmen, he went overboard into the ocean near the port. I don’t know if he jumped or they threw him overboard. I kept an eye out for him and one time I thought I spotted him in the waves, but the crew didn’t show concern or even put out a boat.

Meryl, you can imagine that I felt so bad for the poor kid. The captain said it happens all the time; young boys trying to run away to look for adventure. Usually they put them to work on board and return them to the port they came from… apparently hard work is not what they plan for and they are glad to leave when they get back to port. I suppose the boy could have made it to shore but I think it was over a mile away! I prayed for him and then checked with the local constabulary when I got to shore to find out if a body washed up, but there were no reports. Sadly, I’d suppose the sharks got him.

I guess I had better get this letter over to the postal agent. I don’t trust the postal service here but they said it would go out today by airmail believe it or not!

Don’t forget to pray for your old friend, Sig. I hope to return within six months. I will write again if I find a post office in up north.

Yours sincerely, Sigurd Johnson

林 (línmeaning “forest” or 琳 (línmeaning “fine jade, gem”

We Don’t Get Old In A Vacuum


Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.                   Genesis 25:8

Speaking of living a long time, did you notice the days are getting longer? Yes, the Spring Dandelions are poking their sunny yellow heads out of every lawn, around the base of trees and along the roads. As a matter of fact, an elderly friend of mine doesn’t like them in her lawn so she went out and began pulling them up. In the process, she managed to give herself a case of tendonitis and pulled her hamstring. OUCH

While I certainly understand that getting outside and moving around more freely is absolutely the best part of spring and summer, it gets easier to overdo it as we age. Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are so elemental in feeling “good” about life and I love to work on my lawn, prune the trees and plant flowers. But I have also discovered that being sixty-four is much closer to sixty-five than I’d like to admit.

This week I bought a new trimmer and a mower and headed out to the yard to get caught up on the tall grass. I sat down after a half-hour. It wasn’t just because I ran out of gas or grass. I was just plain tired. My hands hurt and my muscles were sore and weak. It could be that I didn’t get enough exercise last winter but this is a new thing, this tiredness.

I went in the house to my desk and sat at my computer, wondering about how I could overcome this weariness. In my Bible I found several verses that were encouraging.

Gospel according to Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

The Prophet Jeremiah 31:25I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

The author of Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

That doesn’t talk about my ‘process of aging’ though. At that moment, I wanted encouragement about the process of getting older, I’m sure you understand about the effort of just getting up in the morning sometimes being overwhelming. I’m beginning to learn a lot about life as I pass sixty, but I also forget stuff.

As a matter of fact, George Burns said “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”  I understand it now. I love to laugh with George Burns but I often forget his jokes. By the way, he was almost as old as Methuselah when he passed away!

Charles R Swindoll’s book “Job” was published in 2004. Chuck explained about the Job’s struggles, and how he overcame them. In this book, Swindoll also remarked on a not to surprising thing: old-agers need encouragement too.

Sometimes it feels like folks over sixty are left out of life and forgotten. It seems like they are left out of the mainstream, they aren’t involved in the lives of their kids and grandkids. I have some advice for all of us who are have older friends and family around us, those who are already elders and also for those who care for them.

It is a two-way stream. My advice is to constantly remember each other. Take care of each other. Love each other. If your friend or relative is away, write to them. Call them. Text them. Keep up a running dialogue. Continue to nurture your relationship and begin new conversations instead of always talking about the good old days. There are many reasons – and they are two-way reasons. We learn from the aged and they thrive through us!

Age is not kind to the human body or to the cultivation of relationships. I admit no one else can make an individual be fulfilled and feel satisfied, but we can certainly help along the way. We need to consciously bring kids and elders into contact with each other.

Children bring that sense of constant newness to our hearts and memories. They are fresh, impulsive and bright like little flowers blooming. Research shows that the laughter of a child refreshes our thoughts. When we lighten up, we feel a little more positive and optimistic, more hopeful and engaged. We become friendlier, more resourceful, more attractive, more alive.

And now—a little advice to you who are feeling overlooked and forgotten. There’s a Jewish proverb that says, “For the ignorant, old age is as winter; for the learned, it is a harvest.” As age stacks up, we will find that because we have kept yourself alert and alive, we’ll continue to see life through new eyes.

Swindoll says we need to “Step up! Laugh! Stay engaged in life! Don’t succumb to feeling bad for your situation!”

As soon as you feel too old to do something, try to find a way to do it or find something new to do. Play a new game, find a new friend and explore your relationship together. When you feel critical, say something kind – in a kindly way. You feed your heart when you are nice to someone else. As soon as you feel neglected or lonely – reach out to another person. Send a cheery note to a friend. Stay in communication with those you love and be honest about your feelings.

“Have a GREAT day!”

Let the Secrets Die, on Amazon


Read about Andi Wittwer on APG news.


Wittwer will introduce her new book, “Let the Secrets Die,” the first in the Jewell Johnson Mysteries series. She also will discuss the “family” next door, an important part of the series.

Rural Wisconsin is a perfect place to “hide out.” Low population density, deep woods, swamps, back roads, and beautiful lakes are great for refuge. Some of those refugees were actually escapees — folks running away from something, and up in the Northwoods they could lay low or even disappear.

While some of those “lying low” were political dissidents, others were criminals and gangsters from the cities who had worn out their welcome in the south. Northern Wisconsinites knew great poverty so accepting a little bribe, selling goods and services or working for mobsters was accepted as fairly normal routine — don’t ask, don’t tell.

In “Let The Secrets Die,” Wittwer uses time as a medium to dig up some of those secrets that underlie Northern Wisconsin communities. In the Jewell Johnson Mysteries the reader will be a kind of historical archaeologist, digging up layers of secrets that include gangsters, politicians, the FBI, and others to answer the question, “Why did Sig die?”

Define Character

Character is what defines you as a human being.

It’s what people see in you.  It’s what people will say about you when you turn your back or after you pass away.  Character is one of the most important things you have.  Do you invest in yours?  Do people see your faith in what you do? Is your character reflected in you service to God?  Remember, when you die, Jesus will say, “Welcome brother/sister; job well done” or “I never knew you!”

Character is something that you hold fast to inside, and that people see in you on the outside. More importantly, it is something that God sees in you always.

Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5 shows us that in suffering true character is formed which pushes us to hope because we have God’s love “poured into our hearts”.   

Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Character is shown in how you respond in any situation. Your actions can speak louder than words. You and I have to be on guard against the devil, so that when adversity comes our way we can still exhibit the fruits of the spirit in word and deed. How can we shine for Jesus, if we reveal darkness through our actions in the world?

Colossians 3:12-15 – “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”

Your character defines how you live your life.Your character is your judge. How do you treat those near you?  Do you truly love them or retaliate against them? Focus on the future… eternity.

1 John 4:8 – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

The poor man who walks with Jesus, can rejoice in his passing.

Proverbs 28:6 – “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”


You make provision for your flesh and the world when you sin.

Romans 13:14 – “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Matthew 12:35 – “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

Are you a blessing to those around you or are you a ‘stumbling block’?

Matthew 23:25-26 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

You may fool men with fake “character”, but you can’t fool God. He’s knows our hearts and our intentions.   

Titus 1:15-16 – “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.  They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works.  They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

You may say you believe in God, but your actions and words, will prove if you do or do not.

Acts 20:36-38 – “And when he (Paul) had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.”

Most of all, character is something that you hold fast on the inside, not just what people see on the outside.  More importantly, it is something that God always sees in you. You can see your own character through Him.

Is That a Crown of Glory on Your Head?

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:20

I was downtown yesterday at the Fall Festival and a lady I saw had beautiful white hair, and she was so pretty and active! But the interesting thing is –  no, the INTRIGUING thing  – about her hair is that it was purple on the ends. She had this sweet halo of purple that exactly matched her outfit! I thought to myself, I want to do that-but then I realized I don’t have all white hair-it is kind of grey, and black, and red, and brown, and white! But oh well. I sure admired her hair!

This led me to think about my hair. The Bible says that your wisdom makes your silver hair a complement – but it could be an insult, or a crown. If you have wisdom to match your gray hair, then the hair color and your wisdom complement each other. If you have more gray hair than wisdom; the Proverbs say your hair is visible evidence you are a fool.  But if you have developed wisdom, then your silver hair is a crown of glory, for it declares a godly life, lived well.

“Respect your elders” is a common expression and an important Bible commandment. We are supposed to show special honor to those who are older than ourselves. The Ojibwe, our neighbors at LCO; say that our elders are always to be honored and cared for…Our Father said it this way, in Leviticus 19: 32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Clearly, we should respect those who have hair that is their crown of glory! Yesterday I sat with a 92 year-old great-grandma at a funeral, and while we waited outside in the cemetery she shared fascinating anecdotes about her life with me, while she held my hand. I was intrigued and interested by her stories about her marriage and her life, and her hand warmed my own, cold one. Her white hair literally gleamed in the sunlight above her snapping blue eyes as we sat there.

In the King James Bible it refers to grey hair as “hoary” or aged. A “hoary head” is gray or white hair, where aging has replaced the hair color of youth with gray or white in Isaiah 46:4. You may have noticed that the hair of our Presidents often turns grey in only four years of their being in office. Perhaps, graying hair is just related to stress and worry?! Hoary in the Bible means anything white or gray. And such hair color on old men is considered a beautiful thing. “The glory of young men is their strength; (it says in Proverbs 20:29), and the beauty of old men is the gray head”.  (I think we have to imagine that guys with bald heads are really gray.)

But remember that both old men and women are to be respected. This is God’s ordinance. In Isaiah 3:5 it says the community of an ungodly and wicked generation, despises their old people. “Let us not be that generation” is my prayer. Proverbs 23:22 says-“Though age will reduce a mother or father’s abilities, they is still to be honored”. The Gospels in the New Testament commands that older men and women should be respected: don’t you love that quote from Timothy’s first letter:

I Tim 5:1-2 5 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

Gray or white hair on an older person should be a badge of honor – a crown of glory! It is a change that God has ordained in our hair color that indicates age, maturity, and experience. American women are sometimes ashamed of their hair color, but I think aging should mean greater wisdom, holiness, love of Christ, and godly example. Now, some may say that this is not always the case, so Solomon, the Wise limited the proverb to those who actually seek these virtues.

But God did not limit our respect to those who are the examples, He says the elders should be treated with respect, cared for and uplifted. Jesus made a point of how widows, children, the handicapped and the ill should not be neglected but they should be cared for by their community. He didn’t say they had to be the smartest or the best members of the community-he said we should care for each other and pay respect to each other, especially the aged.

Think about the silver hair of the old couple Zacharias and Elisabeth (Luke 1:5-7)? They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. What glorious silver crowns they had! And what did God do for them? He gave them John the Baptist, the precursor to Christ!

Simeon was an old man, whose goal was to see The Christ (Luke 2:25-35). The old widow Anna, presented herself to the Lord in holy and sober worship (Luke 2:36-38). Paul, near death, did not “count his assets” but rather he took the time to describe his faithful life (II Tim 4:6-8).

For a father to be a great father; he should train his children in the fear of the Lord as seen in Ephesians 6:4. Every one of our children and grandchildren is another opportunity for you to build a family tree in the kingdom of God. And today we hope they will honor your gray head as a crown of glory for the investment in their souls.

The Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified appearance has head and hairs white like wool, as white as snow in Revelations 1:14. It is definitely a crown of glory to Him, for He is the Ancient of Days and Everlasting Father though He is absolutely ageless in Revelations 1:18!

So I think I would love to show off my “own crown of glory”, through aging and gaining greater wisdom, holiness, love of Christ, and a godly example. What a joy it is to have made it to where I am in my life-and I hope you feel the same way! I thank God for your presence here today, not just the young – but the elders, because it shows we are on a path to gaining that shining solver crown! Maybe mine will have a light tint of Purple!

Let us pray together:

Heavenly Father, We love you deeply. You have brought us here today to share our love for You in song and scripture. You are so wonderful, so marvelous, so good to each of us. We lift our voices in praise for your infinite and generous mercy and grace for us.

Even as we struggle with the aches and pains of aging, even as we find it harder to reach out to You; we have faith that you will continue to be with us in our souls, and in our memories.

Father we ask for healing and strength for those of us who are ill or struggling. We ask for comfort and safety for those of us who are simply waiting and resting here at Water’s Edge. We especially ask for wisdom, discerning, love and gentleness for those who care for the residents here in the nursing home, in the hospital and in the offices of the Medical campus. Bless their hands and hearts Father that they would hear your guidance as they work here each day. We ask for that silver Crown of Glory, to be ours as we seek your heavenly Kingdom. Fill us with wisdom, love, grace and mercy so that we can know holiness here on earth.

Thank you Father for your Holy Presence here at Water’s Edge today.

We pray through the Holy Name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Chapter Eight, Done Running

Because I Could Not Stop For Death   Emily Dickenson

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

      It is autumn, October- cool and impending rain. Jewell wakes up after the break in at the Inn, to find Abby staring in her face waiting for her. Malin and Jake join her for breakfast in the dining room and then they leave. Jewell learns that Tom is working on a strange investigation. She realizes that her friends, the Widmers are worried about her taking pills. Ben brings a horse carriage and Jewell rides with Abby and Ben back to the farm, has a panic attack and is taken back to the Inn. She and Jake relax in the parlor and Peter shows up. They go out to the veranda and see an eagle over the lake.  Peter talks about the significance. They sit on the veranda in the cool evening as it gets dark and the lights come on. Peter shares his story about his life. Peter and Jewell discuss losing parents, then Jake and Peter talk about war. Finally talk turns to the story about the skeleton and Peter reveals what he knows.

What, Me Worry?


Did the news today make you feel over-worried and insecure? Are you struggling with fear about daily things in your life? Perhaps you should adjust your focus.

Normally we don’t worry about lack of gravity or about the solar system. Our planet is a tiny blue bubble of water and rock, compelled to swing around the sun in a grand waltz by an invisible pull that holds her and her seven sibling planets in orbit. A teeny-tiny deviation in those orbits would affect you and me in a huge way.

Think about your focus. We humans tend to only see things that are right here in our faces, like today’s weather report, politics, family issues, community affairs, or network media. But WebMD.com says that chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. People who worry excessively can be so anxious that they seek relief in self-harming lifestyles including overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs. Can you focus on the things you can control and allay your worries?

Write down a list of those troublesome issues. When you write worries down, it helps to visualize which ones are actually not in your control. Perhaps having someone review the list with you will relieve your fears. Cross off those fears that you can’t or won’t deal with. Focus on the issues that give you the most satisfaction to handle right now and cross them off. If you are worried about politics, write a letter to your representatives expressing your fears and opinions. Give your worry about the weather and the universe to God. Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”.

Let The Secrets Die – Is Done

My book, “Let The Secrets Die“, the first of a three volume set called The Jewell Johnson Mysteries – is back from the publisher and I am picking up them up tomorrow.
This edition is a First Edition, signed and numbered and there are only 250 for Friends and Family.  I will be publishing it again when I release my second book, “Done Running“. This volume and the third one called “The Secret of San Pedro La Laguna” are still being written but my plan is to be done in 2016. These first editions will be retailing for $20 – no sales tax. The second editions will have a different cover and possibly under a pseudonym but all three books will have F&F first editions. I might try to devise a box for both sets.
As you may know, I love history, it begins in 1908 and ends in 1972. These three Jewell Johnson Mysteries are historical fiction set in the early 1970’s but they dip back into Northern Wisconsin’s early beginnings.
I am super excited!Emoji

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