Follow by Email

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Water is a clear, odorless, tasteless, inexpensive and versatile liquid made by combining two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Internet is a fount of information dealing with liquid sunshine.

How many times do we see Water - its effects and its many forms, what it contains. How important is water? It is a matter of life and death. It is one of the basic necessities. And it comes in the form of vapor, dew or frozen. It brings life, joy and tragedy. The sunset likes to see its reflection in the sea. The sea is like a huge family reunion of rain drops.

Mother (Anna Daisy) often told about the time she fell into a muddy Kansas creek and held her chin above water while waiting for help. She often told me about it when she was beginning a new venture such as speaking or writing. She continued to hold up her chin in new experiences when she felt that she might drown or -- fail. It never deterred her efforts to climb a new mountain of endeavor.

When I was young, my parents decided I should learn to swim in the beautiful swimming pool in Clinton OK. They took me, and my two younger brothers, to this huge cemented pool. Imagine a little girl whose hero Dad, took her to the 10 feet end of the pool, clinging to the side. When he had me settled, shivering and clinging, he told me to watch, as he plunged down 10 feet in the water. I watched his watered-form descend and then rise. I could see that he returned each time. But it seemed to me that he was exploring the edge of space - before I ever knew that was possibility.

We returned to a lesser depth of water, where my parents planned to teach me to swim. I learned eventually, but not when Dad and Mom tossed me back and forth in water just over my head. I learned the wisdom of holding my nose at that point. Finally after a period of time of 'tossing', I promised I would learn on my own. I spent many happy hours swimming. Then I learned that if I swam on my back, the water covered my ears so I would sing and watch the drifting clouds above me. My swimming strokes matched the rhythm of the song I sang, oblivious to anyone else around me.

Grosmom Emilie Siemens sat on our porch (1942) in Clinton, Oklahoma, rocking back and forth in her steel rocking chair in rhythm as she sang the hymn, "Shall We Gather At the River." The thoughts zipped through my mind. Why that song? What river? I knew she came to this country at the age of 16 from Russia. Was she remembering 'Rivers Past' in Russia? What was it like for her to cross the ocean to this country. Did she like living her life in a land-bound land in Washita County of Oklahoma where only creeks were found? The song lyrics, "I won't have to cross Jordan alone, Jesus died all my sins to atone When in the darkness I see He'll be waiting for me And I won't have to cross Jordan alone," came to my mind.

We often went fishing as a family. Dad and Mom were avid fishermen. Eating fish with all their little bones was not enjoyable for me, but they relished a fish supper. My brother, Jim, loved fishing all his life. I learned to take a book to read, especially after I was teased about fishing for turtle doves (my hook snagged a limb way up in a tree!).

A flood was forecast for the Dodge City's Arkansas River in the early '60's. Although we lived a mile away from the river and lived in a square wooden two story house, we could hear the rumbling of the water as it flooded the low area just south of us. The power of the water as it rushed down the stream and could not be contained in the river bed struck fear in my heart.

Years later, we visited our daughter and explored Newporte Beach. As I stood in the water, I knew the strength of the ocean as it tried to topple me with its waves and its mighty roar. Where did this power come from? Where does it go? Would it ever stop? What happens when there is no water? How did the ocean come to be? I knew where to find the answer....

Genesis 1:1-8 - First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. God spoke: "Light!" And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning— Day One. God spoke: "Sky! In the middle of the waters; separate water from water!" God made sky. He separated the water under sky from the water above sky. And there it was: he named sky the Heavens.

Water, ocean, seas, rivers, creeks, wells, all comes from God. An over abundance of water is told about in Genesis 7, the great flood. It describes the storehouses God created.
Verse 11-12 - It was the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month that it happened: all the underground springs erupted and all the windows of Heaven were thrown open. Rain poured for forty days and forty nights.

Later Jeremiah (51:16) tells us "When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses."

Later, when Jesus asked for water from a well from a Samaritan woman who asked why are you asking me for water? Jesus told the woman - "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." John 4:13-14

Water. A precious commodity. A liquid that can preserve life. Even a desert can contain deep wells of liquid refreshment. Water contains the power to clean us and our possessions physically. But only through Jesus can we have Living Water!

Bob Carlisle wrote:
So come Living Water flow through me like a river My heart’s been thirsting so long
Flood through my soul and pour out your mercy Come Living Water fill me


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Blowing of the Wind

This morning on Facebook, a friend wrote, "I'm thankful for the WIND, it reminds me that the Holy Spirit is moving among us!"

Wind. Monday evening, I struggled to open the car door against the strength of the wind. Wind is something we don't think about until it captures our attention with its mighty strength - similar to the power of the ocean. The yesterday's wind brought today's torrential rain that obliterates my view of Spring. The plethora of raindrops cloud my vision of the sky and trees outside my window.

I thought about my ancestors who endured the cold wind or the hot wind in various areas of this world. How did they protect themselves from the wind's ravages? In our sheltered lives, we hardly notice the voices of the wind or we call it a natural disaster when it intrudes into our lives. As farmers in the Ukraine and in Kansas and Oklahoma, they often prayed for good weather for their crops. They watched the seasons, plowed and planted and rejoiced when God watered the crops.

When I was small I learned that we cannot see the wind...and yet we see the effects of the wind in our world. In my almost 8 decades of life, I have seen those effects:
  • The stories Mom told of the Dust Bowl Days in the Twenties, when wet blankets hung on the doorways and the windows to stop the biting dust from sneaking into the house.
  • A birthday party's homemade ice cream tasted gritty because the sand the wind blew into my dish.
  • The enchanting snow tunnel (to me as a child) outside our back door that was dug to the barn after the wind created a roof high drift in Clinton, Oklahoma, in 1937. Mother's voice grew hoarse reading The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew....chapter after chapter for the three of us.
  • A newly made bed with sheets that have hung in the sunshine and a spring wind will always remind me of home.
  • I remember walking home in a brisk winter wind, without buttoning my coat or wearing gloves. Oh, the pain as I let warm water run over my icy hands.
  • Driving south toward Minneola, Kansas, at night from the hospital. A snow was beginning to develop. The wind brought each unique flake toward me, as I drove. I prayed that it was not a blizzard.
  • Just east of Dodge City, Kansas, we often climbed the hill behind our house to watch clouds and the wind playing hide and go seek. We had a full basement, a safe haven in the event of a storm. One day the general velocity of 30 mph wind increased to 60 mph. The first day the wind came from the south. The next day, 60 mph wind came from the north - trimming all the trees.
  • An Oklahoma tornado tore through Watonga bringing damage to my parents' home - while they sat in the Siemens Cellar and later under the narrow kitchen table when the tornado made another pass - praying and singing praise songs.
Poetic descriptions of the wind have been written in verse or prose: Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind!"

Watching the path of the wind in the fall when leaves skitter from a tree and across a field, or flowers in the spring create a blossom-snow. A child holds a string of the kite as it dips and bows in the wind and dreams of flying to the stars. A snowfall, so gentle, can become a blizzard whiting out the landmarks around us when the velocity of the wind increases.

The words to songs containing, 'waving wheat' took on new meaning when I saw the wind playing hide and seek in the field of golden wheat.

Where does the wind come from and where does it go? What is the purpose for the wind?
Psalm 135:7 - He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Psalm 104:4 - He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.

John 3:8 -
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
My friend is right. The Wind is a reminder of the Holy Spirit. It is the servant of God. We cannot see Jesus. We cannot see God. Yet, we see the effect our Lord has in our lives and in the lives of others.

From the corners of creation ... Comes the Father’s holy breath Ridin’ on a storm with tender fierceness, Stirring my soul to holiness.
Chris Rice

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


In 1941, a warm Spring day, I walked to school as usual. It was at noon that I learned that my two younger brothers, Jim and Gene, ran away and had not attended school. I ate my lunch with difficulty, worrying about my brothers. Where had they gone? Why? Had they met with an accident? In 1941, there was no CSI investigation. (Oh, there wasn't any television either.) My parents began a search for evidence....and they found the Boy Scout Manual, canteens, and a hatchet missing.

I returned to school reluctantly. About 4 pm, that day, a neighbor called and reported that he found Jim and Gene near the area's Boy Scout Camp, tired, hungry and ready to come home. Later they told me they were going to live on berries, but they didn't find any.

The neighbor took them to a restaurant and bought them each a hamburger, and then returned them home. (I secretly felt slighted - I didn't get a hamburger). I don't recall any consequences.

Escape for me was foiled that day forever -- for Mother asked me to tell her first if I planned to run away. Any time I thought about being 'mistreated' as a teen and considered running away - I remembered my promise. It took all the fun out of it to tell Mom first!

There were other ways I learned to escape from the here and now at any moment. I escaped through reading books or while in the classroom, realizing I could use my mind to be elsewhere. I still think about the movies I watched -- usually a musical -- and I pretended I was the starring actress walking and singing all the way home.

I tunneled (mentally) through the floor of the church platform after goofing up singing duet or a solo. It was a long time before I learned that play-like was more than one word. Pretending was another escape.

We try to escape failure, physical inabilities, emotional short-circuits, financial distress and every day stress through various means. We go on vacations to 'get-away'. From what? I recall overhearing a conversation, from a fellow teacher, "I'm really tired, I haven't had a fun lately, I am going to have fun this weekend and go to St. Louis."

Do we endure and live from vacation to vacation? To me that is similar to the waiting for a happening and await being married for a young teen to winning the Publisher's Sweepstakes. Another form of 'escape'.

The story of Jonah shows the extent of the power of Escapism to the depths of the sea. He tried to escape from God's purpose in his life. He was to go to Ninevah and preach repentance. He tried to escape by boarding a ship, and in the midst of a storm ending in the belly of a great fish for three days. Jonah 2 contains his prayer...using phrases....From the depths of the grave I called for help, The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head, To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.

He knew he was in trouble. He turned to God when all ways of escape were denied him. No books to read, no movies to watch, no pretending that the seaweed wasn't encircling his body.
Like Jonah 2:9b, we must acknowledge that "Salvation comes from the LORD."

Like Jonah, we question God, and we try to run away from what we fear or do not understand. We ask God, "Why?"
If we forget Who God is, we simply read Job 38:2-15.
"Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you're talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn't run loose, And said, 'Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.' "And have you ever ordered Morning, 'Get up!' told Dawn, 'Get to work!' So you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches? As the sun brings everything to light, brings out all the colors and shapes, The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked— they're caught in the very act!
The phrase, 'living in the moment....' comes to my mind. That is accepting what is and seeing God's hand and purpose 'in each moment'. And God is teaching us to become willing to trust Him, to face fear of the unknown in this world by holding our hand. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to this earth to make us ready to live with our Heavenly Father, our Creator.

Each moment of my life belongs to Him. I don't need to escape to find happiness...for each day I find Joy in belonging to Jesus! I'm ALL IN for Jesus!

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


"Where your treasure is, your heart will be also," Jim, my little brother, repeated. His white-blonde hair reflected the sunshine of a warm Oklahoma summer day.

Many years ago, Mom gave us memory verses to learn when we were young. Sometimes Jim reversed heart and treasure and he would be patiently corrected. Jim would repeat the verse correctly....always stating, "Matthew 6:21."

I wondered about that. If your heart is in the Jesus-place, it is priceless, isn't it?

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message)

I remember the treasures I have had in my life time. I remember learning to make paper boats. For an entire afternoon, I tore page after page from the Sears Catalog and created boats. The pile of boats grew to a bushel basket size. Then Mother insisted I clean up my closet. "But Mom, maybe I can sell these boats." A treasure-ownership can be a fleeting experience.

Then came a hand-carved wooden knife that had a burned designed on the handle and an ink drawing by my voice teacher. In my 'scrapbook', I saved the small fuse from a boy friend. There are some dripping rose petals from some forgotten corsage, a voice recital program and and pictures of singing in a small opera.

As time passed, I found that I have a different measurement of treasures. My treasures were the treasures of my parents and grandparents. I gathered pictures, two chipped glasses and a bowl from Grosmom Siemens; the 'Anna' Bowl, a gold rimmed bowl handed down from my great grandmother, that is to go to our daughter and her daughter; the first dishes my mother bought on her own in 1925; a painting of the guardian angel like the one that hung on Mother's wall as a girl; pictures of an assortment of grandparents and great grandparents; books, Mother's poetry, articles and stories and the Who's Who book that I had to buy (?).

Now, in the latter part of life treasures are not material. Earthly treasures are things that rust and moth cannot destroy. They are not items that have to be hidden and protected. An appreciation for ideas, for friendships, for beauty of God's creation becomes my treasure.

About a year ago, I moved something from a shelf, and it tumbled down. There was no way I could grab the items that fell - the goblets that had been wedding presents to my Mother, circa 1927-1928. It was freeing, for now I didn't have the treasures - they became slivers of glass on the floor. Treasures.

What do I treasure now? Love - love of my husband of 57 years, our children and their children and on to the 3rd generation and extended family, love of our church family and friends. Most of all I treasure the relationship with my Lord and Savior. Creation sings a song praising the Creator each day. Belonging to God, and living for Him, is my joy and my treasure.
Isaiah 55:12 - You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Psalm 98:4-9 - Shout your praises to God, everybody! Let loose and sing! Strike up the band! Round up an orchestra to play for God, Add on a hundred-voice choir. Feature trumpets and big trombones, Fill the air with praises to King God. Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause, With everything living on earth joining in. Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!" And mountains harmonize the finale— A tribute to God when he comes, When he comes to set the earth right.
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God's great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else.
And we've been shown the mystery! I'm telling you this because I don't want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or "the Secret.
" Colossians 1:2-4 (The Message)
Am I perfect in Him? Far from it. Every day He keeps pulls me back in so many ways and reminds me of Who He is. He is perfectly Perfect in all ways. He is faithful. In my imperfection, I am reminded that when He is in me and I am in Him, and I become filled with the treasure of His Spirit. For He makes me, a clay jar, all that IS worthwhile. He lights up my darkness. (II Corinthians 4:6)

II Corinthians 4:7 - But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Fearless Freedom

Now the freedom story is just on the pages of a genealogy book of family. The search for freedom is inherent in man. From the time a toddler learns to say, "No!", the search for freedom begins for that life. To underline the extent of the search for freedom, I found seventeen definitions of freedom. They range from the physical state of freedom, power to determine the course of action, privilege allowed, release from obligations, personal liberty, freedom to enjoy, to choose and freedom from fear.

During the reading of a true story of Poland under the boot of Hitler to my sixth grade class room, a discussion of 'what would we do'....led to a creative writing assignment. My verbose sixth graders declared a variety of opinions about their idea of freedom. One young man declared, "Freedom is doing what you want when you want." Another wrote, "Freedom is not having rules." Only one student realized that with freedom comes responsibility.

When our eldest son, as a toddler, and I sat in a church service. I held him tightly, eliminating his movement. He wriggled impatiently, and usually protested with the a voice that surpassed the minister's. I see that one of the definitions included is: taking away the ease or facility of movement or action. As a young mother, I quickly learned that by imprisoning his body did not imprison his spirit.

Similarly, a group of people need to have the ability to be free....with responsibility. The teaching of that responsibility creates the difference and makes freedom a living-breathing reality.

"Freedom is first of all a responsibility before the God from whom we come." Alan Keyes

In America we have ancestors who came from other countries. Why? Each family has its own story. What I am writing here comes from a book by Carolyn L. Zeisset, A Mennonite Heritage - A Genealogy of the Suderman and Wiens Families, 1800-1975.

Jacob Suderman and Aganetha Wiens solomonized their vows on November 27th, 1862, in South Russia. Jacob Suderman, born 28 December 1841 in the Molotschna Colony of South Russia, the youngest son of Heinrich and Adelgunda Penner Suderman. Jacob became a skillful artisan as a decorative painter and had a love of music. Aganetha's family left their home in West Prussia to find a new home in Altonau in the Molotschna Colony. Because of the laws in Russia, Jacob made a meager living for his growing family. In 1870, Russia secretly canceled the special German privileges in 1763 and 1804. Russian language was required to be the official language in the schools, and German control of schools for the Mennonite people were revoked. During the 1870's Jacob and Aganetha hoped these new laws would be rescinded. By early 1879, it became clear that there was to be no effective compromise, so they began to prepare for emigration. The preparation began with the major expenses to depart - paying taxes, obtain a passport, and a train ticket and ship passage. This cost exceeded available money. Packing clothing, food for the journey, and a few possessions was begun. On May 15, 1879 three adults and nine children left Pordenau. They eventually made it to Hillsboro KS, to begin a new life of hardships. But they had freedom.
Mother wrote in The Lines Are Fallen, that in America, Grandpa Suderman sent his children to school to learn the language of this new country. This added a new dimension to our lives -- English for school and business affairs, German for church services and religious reading, and Plautt Dietch at home for every day living. Why did we resist the Russian language for a hundred years? Why did we treasure the language of this new land? What gave America such a special place in our hearts? We found a land with a heart; a place to live what we believed. We found a freedom that our children and children's children often take for granted.
A place to live what we believed. That is freedom. Sometimes that freedom is simply in our hearts because of the laws of the land. Galatians 5:23b says - Against such things there is no law. Or, as the Message says - Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.

How do we live so as to thwart any law? To go beyond legalism? Galatians 5:13 tells us, "You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."

Whoa, wait a minute! We can't do that, we are Americans, and we are #1, and we look out for ourselves. We are winners! We must fight! I can hear the red, white and blue words now rolling out of our minds!

Think of this: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

This is freedom! This takes strength! This takes responsibility and commitment! Is this the way we live? Or do we live with the opposite characteristics of hate, despair, warring, impatience, greed, evil, living from day to day for instant gratification? This is the opposite of freedom, it is being imprisoned by our desires to get what we can.

Where can we find the freedom that lasts? In I Corinthians 3:17 is truth.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."