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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The 'ID'!

I opened the drawer of the desk and found Mom’s Identity with her checkbook.  Many cards showed who Anna Daisy Siemens used to be.  I found this picture, too, and memories poured from my heart. 
I found cards testifying her membership in the Freelance Writers Network, the VIP of Super 8 Motel, Member of National Rural Letter Carriers’ Auxiliary, and a part of Friends of Rogers Historical Museum.  A Social Security card, Health Insurance, and Rural Carrier Benefit Plan.  But nowhere could I find the Identity of Mom’s heart except in the memories of how she lived. 

There isn’t room on a card to show Mom’s hopes, dreams, and deep desires. Her life meant more than the scant information on any of the cards.    
One card I found was a Lifetime Fishing card. She told me that when the farm chores were finished, she and her sister, Alma, dug in the rich black Kansas earth, to find several worms.  The girls grabbed their cane fishing poles and raced to the small muddy creek in the pasture.  On one trip, Mom fell into the creek.  Her feet, stuck in the mud, seemed ready to pull her under.  Mom held her chin high out of the water to escape drowning. Alma pulled her out of the water. 
Another ID card hinted at Mother’s love for words and writing.  They didn’t speak of the nights when words woke her up until she recorded them in a notebook by her bed.  The ID cards could not tell of her love for the Suderman family or reveal the time she spent researching the genealogy of her parents and grandparents when they lived in Russia. Mother told me one day while working on the book, “I spent the day with Mama.”
The book, The Lines Are Fallen, became a reality. Yet, a limited printing and soon there were no more copies were available.  Thanks to my daughter, Anna K. Payne, Mother’s book was republished in 2018.  The title of the Mom’s book is taken from Psalm 16:6 - KJV, The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.  This book is filled with the testimony of faith in Jesus Christ.
         Mother’s earthly identification does not reveal her deepest desire to bring all her children, and grandchildren to Jesus.  Every facet of her life held the joy of Jesus and serving Him every waking moment through all the of her activities – baking, teaching, gardening, canning, writing, playing the piano or organ for countless weddings, church services, and funerals.  No one could steal her spiritual identity in Christ! It’s written on her heart, not on paper. 
Mom once made a prop for a play for my brother Jim in a school play. With barbed wire, cardboard, and wood, this prop could be wheeled into place on the stage. Mother made my dresser, desk, and bed, too. There was no end to her desire to create.
We often make ‘I have, I like, I am, and I remember’ statements, yet it is who we are in Jesus that makes the difference in our lives. It is in I Peter 2:9-10, we understand just who we are that counts. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people, now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”  
         When this world ends, what counts? That Jesus chose and loves us.  He offers grace and mercy.  This is our identity when we believe in Him.  There are no printed cards, we have a heart filled with faith, hope, and love for our Jesus who died on the cross. He said, “It is finished!” Then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.  John 19:30. 
         Jesus cleared the way to be with God. Our identity rests in our Lord Jesus Christ for eternity.  No renewal cards need.  This truth is written in Lamentations 3:22-24 - The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!”
         We may lose our earthly identification cards, and yet Romans 8:38-39 gives us the assurance that is ours for an eternity!   
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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This is what the Lord says, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Romans 48:17



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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

GRACE and...

It is 1944, an hour before midnight.  I burst into the living room with teenage exuberance.  My laughter stops as I see Mother sitting quietly in her favorite chair by the fireplace, with the Bible in her hands.
         I asked her, “Mom, what are you doing?”  Her reply echoes down through the years, “I am looking for a word to live by in 1945!” 
         Choosing one word seems an impossible task, even now. Each word seems to lead to another.  There is no one word big enough to live by.  Then I read Titus 2:11-13.  And I read again.  For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. God’s grace pops out, and This Grace becomes the word, Hope, through Jesus Christ.
         What follows is living in this world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion living with devotion to God.  This scripture leads to the Day of Glory of God when the Glory of God and Jesus is revealed. Now I say, “Thank you, Mom! For teaching me by your example so long ago!” 
         An article written by Edwin V Hayden, published in the Christian Standard catches my eye.  It begins, “We are standing at the edge of 1969, we feel like a youngster preparing to dive in the deep waters of 1969.”       Someone could write this at the end of every year as we face the unknown.  The world seems to be awash with fear, lawlessness, and dread.  Where do we find hope and joy to live another year?  Is there an end to war?  Will the swords of warfare turn into  ‘plowshares’ of quiet living?  The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Micah 4:3.
In 2018, truth becomes lies. Hate is the norm.  Right is wrong and wrong is right.  In this upside-down world, we expect peace and our desire of freedom, seems a dream.
        The world lives by the ‘Rule of Brass,’ “Do unto others before they do it to us.”  We live from offense to offense finding no love.  Who can make a difference every day we are alive?  This verse tells the how and the why.   Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” John 14:6.
         What is my list of Words for 2019?  God’s grace, found through Love, Truth, Honor Holiness, Thankfulness, Forgiveness, Righteousness, and Servanthood begins the list. 
         The Bethel lyrics sing their way into my heart.  “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God.” (Bethel Music).  And from Hillsong Worship, “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who You say I am!” 
Yes.  Even before we were born, God had his hand on us.  But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.  Galatians 1:15. 
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.
What could these verses mean? A friend suggested three words, and the more I thought of them, the more I can see a mountain of Joy in a few words.  Because of God’s Power, He gives us Purpose in this Life as we grow in Him.  This is our Process through life, to grow in joy of being His.   
         Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7.
         Governments come and go, Cultures disappear, yet our God is faithful beyond measure. The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God. He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne.  O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord? You are entirely faithful. Psalm 38: 7-8
         “Mother, I began with Grace as my word this year. Yet again, one word just won’t do for a whole year for me.”  Life begins with God’s Great Love and His Gift of Grace!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Lil' Star

The Littlest Star appeared one night in the sky.  He hid behind the bigger stars.  Years passed, the littlest star, known as Lil’ Star, never grew up.  He may have been tiny, but his voice was as big as a giant kite.
         The Lil Star raced across the night sky singing his song, “Do you see what I see?” 
         One night a huge star shone in the night sky.  No one noticed the Lil’ Star dancing across the sky that night, following the biggest star ever.
         The Lil’ Star saw a donkey, led by a handsome man. The donkey walked carefully for he carried a beautiful young lady.  Lil’ Star looked again, and noticed she was very weary, and expecting a baby soon.
         “Do you see what I see?” sang Lil’ Star. He heard the man say, “We are almost to Bethlehem.  We will find a room where we can rest.” 
         Mary answered, “Thank you, Joseph.  I know you feel tired, too.  We have traveled many miles.”
         Lil’ Star looked.  He could see Bethlehem was not far away.  He rejoiced for Joseph and Mary as they neared the end of their journey. 
         Lil’ Star clapped his hands in joy as they reached the Inn. Lil’ Star sang his song, “Do you see what I see?”  When Lil’ Star saw the Inn Keeper shake his head and point, he moved closer. 
         Then Lil’ Star heard the Inn Keeper say, “There is no room in the inn, but there is room in the stable.”  Joseph led Mary to the stable.
         And Baby Jesus was born.  Lil’ Star heard the sweet sounds of a new baby and changed his song, “Do you hear what I hear?”
         The angelic light appeared as the Heavens burst open and Lil’ Star heard the Angels sing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased.
         Lil’ Star wondered if he was the only one who could hear the angels. Then he saw shepherds in the field listening, too.  Lil’ Star sang, “Do you see what I see?” as he watched the shepherds going to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
         Lil’ Star watched and thought of their joy in seeing the Messiah, the baby Jesus, lying in the manger.  No one noticed Lil’ Star as he darted between the stars following the shepherds. The shepherds remembered all the prophets had told about Jesus in the scriptures. 
         Lil’ Star sang, “Do you hear what I hear?”  After worshipping Baby Jesus, the shepherds left and told everyone they met what they had seen.  Lil’ Star watched Mary as she thought about all the things happening that night.  Lil’ Star heard Mary sing a new song, “Do you know what I know?”  Lil’ Star wondered if there would be an end to the story of Jesus.  What could all this mean?
         Eight days later, Lil’ Star watched as Joseph and Mary took Baby Jesus to the temple.  There Simeon met them and took Jesus into his arms. Then Simeon, an old man, said, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.  I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”  Luke 2:29-32. 
            Lil’ Star sang, “Do you hear what I hear?” And so it is, the Joy of the World came to earth. Each time someone hears the story of Jesus, to this day, Lil’ Star sings, “Do you See, Do you Hear, Do you Know? What I have seen, heard and know?” 
         Lil’ Star continues to dance across the sky, praising Jesus.  Tears filled his eyes when he saw Jesus crucified.  He scooted across the sky when Jesus rose from the dead.  He did a somersault when Jesus returned to Heaven on a cloud. 
         To this day, Lil’ Star continues to sing his song when he sees someone hear about Jesus and loves Him. Lil’ Star wishes he were bigger, yet his song reminds us to wait and watch for Jesus! 
         If you are still and listen on a starry night, you will see, and you will hear Lil’ Star singing, “Do you see what I see?

  

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