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Monday, August 31, 2009

Mama's Box

I love stories, and when it is true, it speaks to me. The 'heroine' of this true story came to visit. It was a time of preparation, excitement and joy. To my 'child' eyes I saw a lady of quiet smiles. I saw errant gray curls that framed her face. I anticipated her hugs to her ample bosom and especially the mysterious small brown sack of candy. How did she know? Never did I wonder about her life before her role as my beloved Grandmother. This then is a part of her story:

Mama ‘s Box

Anna Daisy looked out her bedroom south window at the farmyard as she dressed. “Alma, come look! The leaves are coming out on the trees and soon the peaches will be in bloom, too! I love spring!”

Alma looked out the window as she hurriedly dressed. “It is beautiful. God knows how to make such a beautiful day for us!”

“Let’s go see if Mama noticed the green leaves, hurry, Alma.”

“Yes, let’s see.”

The girls raced down the stairs. They were excited. No more cold weather to do chores in, and no more snow for a while. They hurried into the kitchen where Mama was beginning a fire in the wood cook stove.

“Girls, I think I will need more wood now so breakfast can be ready. Bring in the wood and do the chores!”

Anna looked at Alma and then they knew. This was not a good day for Mama. She didn’t hug them or say “Good Morning!”

“Yes, Mama,” they chorused. Their enthusiasm for the day dropped like the icy thermometer in January.

They rushed to the woodpile and picked up the heavy pieces of wood and back to the house. They did stop once, even when they noticed a robin tugging on a worm not too far away. Anna said, “Come, Alma, let’s go take the wood to Mama and do our other chores.”

Anna and Alma hurried back outside to complete chores, feeding and watering the chickens, checking for eggs and animals. As they worked Alma asked, “Anna, do you remember last year when Mama was so sad in the spring?”

“Yes, Alma. That is when Paulie drowned in the stock tank. Do you think that is what is happening now? Do you think Mama is remembering all her babies who have died?”

“Yes, Daniel, Gerhard, Hilda, and then Paulie all died,” reminded Alma.

“Do you remember what a sweet baby Hilda was? She died when I was five years old. And then, Paul died in April when I was 9 years old last year.”

Anna Daisy remembered how Mama cried.

“Today will be Memory Box Day, Anna,” said Alma, “I know it helps Mama, but it is so hard.”

The girls finished the chores and entered the house quietly. After Papa gave the prayer for the meal, the meal was eaten quietly and quickly. After the kitchen was clean again, and the table cleared, Mama said, “Girls, it is time to get the Memory Box down from the closet shelf upstairs and the claw hammer from the kitchen. Could you do that, and bring it to Papa’s and my bedroom?”

Alma and Anna Daisy, faces solemn, brought the box to Mama. Mama was sitting in the rocking chair, holding her hands together. Her eyes were closed and she prayed inaudibly as the girls entered.

“Mama, here is the Memory Box and the claw hammer.”

“Thank you, girls, and I love you both so very much. This will be a time that we will remember your brothers and your sister who are living with the Lord.”

Slowly Mama pried open the wooden lid, the nails screeching as they released their hold on the memories. As Mama opened the box, tears coursed down her cheeks. She held up each article of clothing that God’s baby had worn. As Mama held them up, she told of the dreams and hopes for each child. She told of the tearful trips to the Ebenfeld cemetery with small white caskets that now held only their earthly bodies.

“Here is Daniel’s blue velvet suit. He was such a quick little boy, and brought his Papa such happiness. He was always eager to help Papa with the horse. Papa blamed himself when he let Daniel get the horse that day. We saw him, with the reign wrapped around his little wrist being dragged by the horse. Daniel was only with us for six years. He died just four months before you were born, Anna. Now our Daniel is with God.”

“This is Gerhard’s baby dress. He was only with us a short time. He was named after your Papa. One morning I noticed a red spot, caused by a spider bite. Papa said I was a good housekeeper and why would there be a spider in the cradle with Gerhard? Gerhard died of that spider bite. Gerhard was born two years before Alma was born. And then, Anna, you were born one year later. How we prayed that we could raise you both to adulthood.”

“I remember making Hilda’s cap, adding the white satin ribbons. I remember each of the featherstitches to hold the ribbons in place. I thanked God for Hilda. I had three girls then. Anna Daisy, you enjoyed watching Hilda and you were such good help when you were just four years old. But when Hilda was a year old, she died. We had to place her in the white casket and make the trip to the Ebenfeld Cemetery again.”

“And little Paulie’s black patent shoes. See the navy velvet tops and how they button down the side? Yes, Paulie was walking very well by the time he died in 1916. Anna Daisy, you were nine years old and Alma, you were ten years old. You were both in school. I asked Jonas to help watch Paulie while I lay down to take a short nap. When I woke up, I could see Jonas playing, but I didn’t see Paulie. I ran outside, and Paulie was in the stock tank, face down.

When you girls came home from school, we had to tell you that Paulie had gone to be with God. We bought our fourth white casket and made the trip to Ebenfeld Cemetery to again lay our child there. We know that all four of our other children are playing in Heaven. They are very happy.”

It was quiet for a moment as Mama packed the memory pieces into the boxes and hammered it shut. Anna Daisy and Alma sat silently as they waited. They felt the heartache of their Mama. The heartache was theirs, too.

After the box was nailed shut, Mama smiled and held her arms out to Anna Daisy and Alma. “Now, girls, we have remembered, and we must go on with life. That is what God wants. Put away the box and the hammer. I must see about Eli. I know he is hungry by now.”

Anna Daisy smiled although her tears threatened to flow down her cheeks. Her cheerful Mama was back. She glanced at Alma and grinned. Alma picked up the box and Anna carried the hammer back to the kitchen. The sisters could hear Eli wail for attention.

This is a true story of strength, courage and peace that describes my Grandmother, Anna Loewen Suderman. After Alma and Anna Daisy, Grandma had four more children. Each of us are touched by Grandpa and Grandma Suderman. She continues to be a quaint presence in my life. A mystery I ponder. When my life is filled with discouragement of just living, I remember Grandma. I know in Whom she found strength. I know that when she prayed for each of her many grandchildren by name and great grandchildren and those 'beyond', she brought us to Jesus, and I find strength, courage and peace in the same Jesus.

We do not always understand God's Ways or His Thoughts, but we know He holds our hand and we trust Him.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

The Message, Philippians 4:6-7 - Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Remember Great Grandpa Loewen

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, assessed life as meaningless in Ecclesiastes. A 'treadmill' life is certainly that. Then Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 says:What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

The last section caught my eye and my heart - There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

Why then is Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, David, Jonah of old remembered? What makes man immortal- remembered? Writing a hymn, helping others, penning book after book? Not always. But what makes any life meaningful, when 'day after day' tasks do not become mundane? It is when we look for purpose and meaning is when we look above the sun and follow the Son of God. When our faith is in our Lord Jesus Christ, the monotony of daily life has purpose and meaning.

In this 2009 year of economic turmoil, we wonder what to hold on to. Where can we find hope and inspiration? After reading some of Esther Loewen Vogt, granddaughter, and Solomon Lepke Loewen's writing of his father, Jacob Loewen, I can see why Jacob Loewen, my great grandfather is a name I will remember, and a name I want to share with my children, grandchildren and great-grandchilden. I know where to find hope, just as he did as a young man in the turmoil of Russian climate of turmoil. In Jesus Christ, and Him only.

Dr. Jacob Loewen was born to Jacob and Anna Loewen at Waldheim, South Russia, on October 5, 1855, and died at Hillsboro, Kansas, June 19, 1941 at the age of 85 years old. He was a strong, healthy man. In 1873, he, with his parents, joined the exodus of Mennonites from Russia to America, the land of opportunities and religious freedom. Although the Leppke family was warned against leaving for United States. They were told that when they crossed the Mississippi River, the Indians would rob them, burn their homes and even scalp them. Grandfather Leppke, Justina Leppke's father, said that God protected Daniel in the Lion's Den and He could protect them as well. Yes, they encountered Indians who paid 'peeping window' visits, but they left the peace-loving Mennonites alone.

Each Mennonite family packed a wooden trunk with red winter wheat seeds, a few clothes, a German Bible and a hymn book, and other contents to begin a new life in a strange land. When I look about my house, I wonder what I would pack in a trunk to survive in a new land. What would be important?

Jacob Loewen, in the new land, enrolled in the little Gnadenau sod school, built in 1874, so he could learn the English language. He stayed only several weeks as his interests lay in tilling the soil and improving his father's orchards of mulberry, apricot, peach and cherry trees.

After Jacob married Justina Lepke, he saw other avenues of service such as his dental career. He pulled his mother's loose teeth, and began extracting teeth for others as word was spread, without the benefit of anesthesia. Dentists and doctors were often miles away from the small settlement near Hillsboro, Kansas so people began to flock to the 'tooth puller'.

One neighbor rushed to the field where Jacob Loewen sat on the binder cutting wheat. He wanted the pain-causing tooth pulled. Jacob whipped a pair of pliers from the binder's toolxbox, wiped it carefully on his trousers and yanked out the offending molar. The man was relieved of pain and rode away.

The old medical journals tell of the efficacy of 'blood-letting' by tapping the vein of the elbow, so that patients were relieved of old stagnant blood so that illnesses disappeared. Jacob learned this art and now helped those who believed to a longer life on the prairie.

One day little Henry fell and fractured his arm. The one settlement doctor was away on business. It was up to Jacob to set his arm. He did so capably and for years people came to have their broken bones, aches and pains taken care of. He used wood splints and later aluminium. There were no x-rays, for Jacob could 'feel' if the bone was set right. He also practiced Swedish massage helping many with aching muscles and backs.

William Schaeffler, Hillsboro's merchant, fixed up a room in his store for Grandpa to see his 'town patients' one day per week. (Does this sound like deja-vu in Walmart stores of today?) Later, when Jacob and Justina built the big two story house on South Washington for $4000, Grandpa included a small 'doctor room'.

Did Jacob Loewen grow wealthy as a doctor? Since he wasn't a licensed practitioner, he couldn't charge a set fee. People paid what they could afford. He usually received 75 cents for pulling a tooth and for massaging, he averaged a $1. Some paid him a dime. He turned no one away. health insurance and medicare were unheard of in his day. It was a matter of loving God and loving others.

In his 'doctor room', his cupboard reeked with remedies and tucked away in one corner was the inevitable sack of peppermint candy for the 60 grandkids. When I was about 10 years, we visited Great Grandpa and Grandma. Great Grandpa took us into his 'doctor room' and sat at the huge roll top desk. He carefully rolled it back, revealing a container of round mints, the size of three stacked nickels, imprinted with three X's. The room was darkened and it smelled a bit musty. The medicinal smell lay just benea the the strong odor of peppermint. I didn't know his history or his agile, fertile mind, but I knew he was kind and cared about me. He stroked his long white beard and contemplated me as he asked me questions and gave me pepperments.

Medicines were difficult to obtain, so this dentist - farmer - doctor took to apothecary work as well. The fats, herbs and spirits he brewed into medicines and ointments became locally in demand.
  • He dried rain worms on the tool shed roof and extracted their fats for his salves.
  • He scooped red ants into spirits of alcohol for more effective liniments for relieving aching muscles.
  • He simmered goose-grease and sulphur for other cure-alls. (If is long-suffering Justina complained of the stench in the tool shed, she did it graciously, for weren't these all gifts from God?
Once his granddaughters developed (Esther Loewen Vogt, author, writes of this) an itch that continued, and in desperation, they finally showed it to Grandpa. He rummaged in his 'medicine' cupboard, stroking his white beard as he searched. "I've got the very thing for that." The odor was horrible, but after the second application, the itch disappeared.

Some of the recipes that were listed in Jacob Loewen's records were:
  • splitting headache. bodily pain - 1 teaspoon each of vinegar alcohol, arnica, turpentine, mustard, horseradish white sulfur and red pepper.
  • Linament, used externally: alcohol, 4 oz, camphor gum and gum of myrrh - each 1/2 oz, oil of turpentine, oil of sassafras and chloroform -each 1 oz, oil of origanum and aqua mmonia - 2 oz each - mix well.
  • Influenza, colds, coughs : 1 pint raw linseed oil, 1/34 oz each of sassafras oil, hellock oil, origanum oil and peppermint oil and 1/2 oz of camphor oil - mix, take 3 to 1`4 drops on a piece of sugar - also good for burns
  • To break a high fever a patient was placed in a sweat wooden chamber with only their head showing, wearing a night shirt (pajamas not hear of then), sitting on a chair in the box with a small alcohol lamp lit and placed under the chair. The heat caused profuse sweating. After 30 minutes, the patient was dried off, and placed into a bed. Many fevers would be gone with one treatment.
There were few undertakers on the prairie. Jacob Loewen took care of that job in his earlier years. He prepared dead bodies for burial by packing ice - when it was available - or cold sand when it wasn't around the bodies until the funeral services could be held. In 1900, he paid $15 for a small casket for his two year old daughter who died that year.

Jacob Loewen also cared for animals. For animal cuts, he applied the plentiful cowebs in the barn to staunch the bleeding.

Jacob's spiritual life was nurtured each morning at the breakfast table by reading a chapter and praying while 13 young stomachs groaned in hunger. The singing of a hymn climaxed the close of each meal. He always showed an interest in his children and sixty grandchildren until the very last illness resulted in his death at the age of 86. He and Justina celebrated 62 years of marriage in 1940.

Jacob Loewen was gifted, versatile and dedicated to helping others. He nobly led the way for civilization and progress on the prairie and yet his life, along with Great Grandma Justina Loewen, was deeply rooted in Jesus Christ. He also bought the first Ford car in Marion County, Kansas. A pioneer in all respects.

Yes, I remember Jacob and Justina Loewen, and I am inspired and challenged by their lives, their courage, and most of all their abiding faith in Jesus Christ.

*Thank you to Esther Loewen Vogt and Solomon Leppke Loewen for writing/compiling the information about Jacob Loewen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Way We Were....(USPS)

Recently a memory from the past surfaced. Two daughters of friends in Watonga talked on the phone and connected. Her father was my High School Principal. My new friend found Mother's first published book of poems, "Stand Tall", that contained clippings from the past. One of the treasures was a tiny booklet - "Season's Greetings From Your Retiring Mail Carrier".

Immediately I remembered typing at the dining room table in Clinton, a list of names that would be on Dad's rural mail route in Clinton. Strange names - that would become like family names before long. As I re-read this farewell, I am again astonished at how God gives us opportunities to live out our faith where He places us.
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. Ephesian 6:5-8
.....So Long Folks.... begins the story.
"October 16, 1945 was a cool, clear day of autumn. My 1938 'Chevy' was filled and waiting as my assistant was waiting (Mom). I made my first run of Rural Route Number One out of Watonga, Oklahoma. With maps in hand we read and drove. The 73 miles seemed endless and rough. Notes that read, 'turn west to A.F. West' and 'south in Southerd' made the learning easier. It took about a week before the miles shortened and became familiar and my assistant stayed at home. The maps were left in the office and I was really on my own."

"My old chevy had been a good car in its day. The miles that dipped through steep canyons, over sand-topped hills, and crossed into bottoms, truly tested its metal. Soon I realized that I must have a new car. This was quite a problem during those years of wartime. I finally purchased a 'number' on a waiting list from the man who did not have to earn his living on wheels. How I rued the day I bought that vehicle! I was a proud owner that first week, and then - the wiring burned out. The shock links gave no end of trouble. The rear end fell to pieces. The transmission burned out. The motor had to be replaced. The old joke about 'everything new but the steering wheel' was not very funny."

"Just to keep the car on the road, I paid a flat fee of fifty dollars a month to the garage. It was in the shop every day, before and after the route. The 'taste' of that car stayed with me through all these years."

"Walking and working on the streets of Clinton for years, I could name most people by their first names. It was strange and lonely to live in a world 'peopled with metal boxes'. But it was not too long before the names on the boxes became faces and real people. Farmers have a friendliness that is not known on city streets. Their warming courtesies soon crept into my heart. Families fell into place - this man was a son to the farmer on the next mile; the farmers down the road had married sisters; some had children in college; and some had parents living with them."

"The way my patrons shared with garden produce not only fed us, but warmed our hearts as well. Through the years we have written many heart-felt 'Thank-you' notes and I am sure we have missed many more. Then at Christmas time, we were bowed in humility with all the remembrances showered on us. Not only with gifts but with friendship and helpfulness they became much more than patrons on the route."

"The business of being a mail carrier has its problems as well as its joys. Cars break down; bridges wash out; snow piles deep; a package is misplaced; and nerves are frayed. The man who said, on a lovely day in spring, "Son, you earn your money real easy-like"; was the same man who told me, ''I wouldn't have your job for love nor money'' on a cold, winter's day when snow had piled high. A civil servant does not meddle in politics, but be sure, he does appreciate a sign in the middle of a half-mile water puddle that reads, 'Commissioner's swimming pool' just before the election."

"Besides the beauty and peace of the countryside, I cannot begin to count the many things that I have received in my daily rounds. The lady of the house insists I sit down to a good meal after walking back a mile for a tractor when I was stuck in the canyon again.....The newly-graded bottomless corner had stalled me again after a spring rain. I sat a moment trying to figure a way out of that mud. As I opened the car door, I saw a jeep literally flying down the road. The young farmer had seen me from across the mile and came to help...The snow was blinding white and and treacherous. I was stalled a mile and a half from anywhere. When I pulled my way into a warm farm kitchen, the lady insisted on dry clothing and a cup of hot coffee before she allowed her husband to start the tractor to help me out of drifts....Tales like these could be recounted over and over. Then there were the many little things - a message relayed to a worrying wife; a band aid for a scratched; a cup of coffee; a cooling drink in the heat; a packages of garden or flower seeds; a started plant; or, just a friendly, "Hi" in a hard day. Each deed lives on in kindness done for me."

"A a rural carrier, I have always been glad to help those in need, it has only seemed a process of trying to repay favors done for me. Canned milk was delivered for a baby during a blizzard; word was sent to a farmer that his daughter was left alone with an abscessed tooth. a car was started for a lady so that she could make her club meeting. Utility bills were paid in town. A sick cow was oil-flushed. First aid was applied to a little girl with an injured foot. Baby chickens were placed in warm brooders upon request. Fires in car and truck were extinguished. Aid was given to a family at a fatal tractor accident"

One day the radiator hose broke and the car became hot. A friend came by and with tape we fixed the hose and with his car, we drove to the next farmer's house. He was not at home, but we used a watering can by the barn, took water from the faucet, and soon resumed my duties. A few days later the sheriff came to our house. It seemed someone had stolen that farmer's saddle. There were tire tracks right to the barn - and footprints, too. Since my report coincided with my friend's story, I escaped arrest for saddle theft. To this day, however, my friend and I greet each other with, 'How are you, you old saddle thief?'"

"Humor on the the route comes day by day - often in the notes left in the box for the mailman. The very best one started with, 'My derest maleman' written by a young girl. Grandma, living alone, was so appreciative and left this - 'Here's the penny I owe you and thank you for your kindnesses to an old woman.' On the back of a soil conservation letter came this one - 'See the red banner on the stick by the corner post? That is where I think it would best for all to put the mail boxes. If you want the responsibility of putting it somewhere else, please move the stake to that position.' A little boy's note read" 'Please, stop at the house, I have something for you.' That was a baby rabbit! Right after Halloween, I found this one in a neighboring box, 'If we get any mail put it in this box. The kids ran off with our box.' 'Leave four 3-cent stamps. I'd appreciate your putting the stamps on these letters. I'm tired of waiting (ha ha!)'"

"The budding of a new romance does not necessarily wait for spring. Letters became frequent and the replies are often perfumed. The blush of a waiting lass at the box only makes the sign more sure. Soon there will be wedding invitations to mail.... Then begins the round of parcel post as wedding presents are delivered from far and wide. We have always enjoyed the 'route weddings' - to see them off to a new life and to wish them well. Then follows a quiet time of letters from the young married children to their parents until the happy day when the farmer's wife sometimes leaves a note in the box. "We're grandparents now. Thought you might like to know."

"Through the years many patrons and friends have left the route. In looking back over records, the names have changed so much. Houses are vacant and falling into decay; the road is longer between boxes. Yes, some patrons move to the City to a better job, but many leave for an eternal home after earthly chores are done. I miss them in my rounds, but I know they are missed so much more by the loved ones left behind. It turns my thoughts homeward."

"It has been a privilege to be your carrier for almost two decades. Pleasant memories and friendship will be remembered through the years. Retirement time has been set for December 30, 1963. The routine of well-traveled roads will be changed in new and untried pathways. We both say, "Thank you and may God bless you all."

H.B. and Ann


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dare to Tell the Truth!

A Look at Truth.....

Many years ago when I was a child, I played Truth or Dare with my friends. A lie wasn't permitted in this game, and our bluff was soon called if someone tried to lie. After a google search, I see that our innocent game goes beyond the boundaries we had in the 1940’s

My Mother caught me in a lie. There were consequences. I thought by telling her I had practiced the piano for an hour after school I would escape the hour of practice. Mom soon came outside and asked, "Why are my music books on top of yours on the piano?" I didn't have an answer.

We live in an Age of Deceit in our Information Age. With so much knowledge available, we indulge in all manner of deceit. We look at each deceit as a triumph instead of shame.

Gone are the days when a handshake or a man’s word is his bond. Why? Because Truth is not recognized or honored.

Why is it that truth is so elusive in this age? With cynicism and doubt now, we no longer trust the words of others without close scrutiny. No longer can we believe contracts because of the ‘fine print’ that is hidden on the bottom of the agreement. The ‘loop holes’ in legal documents are celebrated for escaping financial responsibility.
Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying. -- Vincent De Paul

Another form of lying is Self-Deception that can happen so easily, when we view our world and ourselves through the world’s eyes. A realistic view of our failings and gifts are often hidden in self-deception. The word Realistic would be expressing an awareness of things as they really are. My Dad often said that, ‘where we live’ is the true measure of self. He meant that when we look in the mirror, do we see the reality of the inner self or what we wish the world to see? Do we measure ourselves by the acceptance of our Lord, or the world?

This is not a a new phenomenon for just this age. In the days of Jeremiah, he said, Therefore say to them, 'This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips. Jeremiah 7:28

Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. Jeremiah 9:5

Names for lies are multi-syllabic, and deadly not only to our nation but also individually. Prevarication, tall story, vilification, white lie, whopper, falsehood, falseness, falsification, falsity, fib, fiction, forgery, fraudulence, guile, hyperbole, inaccuracy, invention, libel, misrepresentation, misstatement, myth, perjury, misstate, misrepresentation. I remember the phrase one comedian used to escape reality and responsibility – “The devil made me do it.” It was always accompanied by laughter to lighten the overt message.

For a 3 letter word, 'lie',many letters are needed to camouflage, to obfuscate or confuse.
The truth is "hate speech" only to those who have something to hide, said Michael Rivero.
There are laws against ‘hate’ crimes, but goodness must come from the heart filled with love for others and love for truth.

Greed – it has been said in any situation, to follow the money. This will uncover lies. The art of persuasion and debate covers the intent of greed. How often are ‘get-rich quick’ schemes laid to greed whose foundation is a lie. This greed consumes not only the perpetrator but also the victim, who simply wants something for nothing. Both usually receive just that – nothing.

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth is a phrase used in the courtroom. History of The phrase "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is believed to have initially been coined in Old English, and to have become a staple of English trials by approximately the 13th century. Further back the oath began in the Roman Empire.

We are asked, You do affirm that all the testimony you are about to give in the case now before the court will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; this you do affirm under the pains and penalties of perjury?

Witnesses of non-Judeo-Christian faiths can also ask to substitute an alternate text for the Bible. And atheists can ask to affirm atop a plain black book. (From

The skin of truth stretched over a lie is duplicitous speech. We often see sophistication as a positive attribute in our culture. The ‘smooth’ speaker or socially adept reaches fame and fortune. This is simply another side of a lie – deceit. Sophistication is deceit..

A Chinese proverb says – there are three truths – one is my truth, one is your truth and one is THE truth.

What IS truth? Truth is Jesus Christ. There are still pockets of our country where trust and truth are supreme. Integrity is expected to the point that houses are not locked and the keys stay in the ignition of the car. A small village of people who honor God.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Questions came to mind as I contemplated the meaning of Truth.
I wonder about the truth about truth. What is it? • Is truth truth when it comes through the perception of others? • Can truth be bent and distorted and still be labeled as truth? • Are there groups of people who think that not telling the truth is a way of life or in the name of business? • Is the shadow of truth still truth? • Can truth be truth in name only? And what would that be? • Does fear paint truth a different color? • Why do we swear on a Bible to tell the truth in a court room?

Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you." John 8:31-32

We have talked about what truth is not, what is Truth? Dictionary says Truth is the the state or character of being true. Reality. Actuality or actual existence. Synonyms include - accurate, authentic, correct, dependable, factual, genuine, honest.
Always tell the truth. That way you don't have to remember what you said.--Mark Twain.

Another foray of my youth into the world of deception was the day I overstayed my time at Betty Creech’s house after school. Betty coached me in a lie. My Dad believed it and I giggled. Dad asked me what was so funny.

I replied, “Betty told me that you would believe it.”
Consequences followed. I learned that wilful deception is not tolerated by my Dad OR God.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior. Titus 1:1-3

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Gate of Heaven

The Gate of Heaven

Colossians 3:1 - Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Recently, the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, was recommended to me by my cousin. Curious, I began reading the book and found that it piqued my interest further in my destination – Heaven.

Victor Knowles wrote: ‘ Heaven is the dwelling place of God and Christ. The word “heaven” means, “to heave upward.”’ The word ‘heave’ denotes an outside force that propels us to Heaven. That outward force is Christ Jesus, for it is through his death, burial and resurrection that we have the promise of eternal life with Him.

What does this have to do with family history, you ask?


How a person dies is determined by how he lives. I’ve often asked myself why my ancestors continued to travel through all kinds of hardships, living in new areas and learning new cultures. The fathers provided for their families in new lands facing many challenges. Where did they find strength when famine or illness threatened? Where did they find strength when governments changed and their status changed?

It was their indomitable faith in Christ Jesus and his promises. It was their unquenchable search for freedom of worship that propelled them through heart-breaking struggles.

As a child, I didn’t understand that we were poor. Even when Dad did not have 2 cents so I could buy a necklace in 1935. We enjoyed the security of family and our parents relied on God.

When my Grosmom Emilie died, I began thinking about death and life. I was 14 years old. When I sang the song in 1952, Beside the Green Pastures’ for my Suderman grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, I was haunted with Grandpa's words, “That is where I would like to be.” And he was, in one week.

In the 70's I watched Dad’s health worsened. I felt the temporariness, the vapor, of his life. At his deathbed I watched him take a last breath with a smile on his face. Later his 12 year old grandson, Matt, told me, “I know where Grandpa is, he is in God’s pocket!

During Mother’s illness, she awoke one morning and told me of traveling to the top of a mountain. She didn’t know where she was. She looked into the valley, and there lay an iridescent, shimmering river. When she tried to descend into the valley, she heard a voice say…."not yet. Go back down the mountain the way you came."

Nineteen years after Dad's death, I watched Mom take her last breath, her face one moment was wracked with pain and the next moment her face was brilliant with peace and joy.

Life after death in Jesus. In Revelation 21: 3-4 - And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

When Don Piper described the beauty and the sounds of heaven in earthly words that did not begin to picture the utter beauty. I realized that these were sensory words. I thought about God creating each of us – Psalm 139:14-15 - For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth."

God created us with sensory devices that can perceive beauty. Why?

Just as God created the heaven and the earth in the beginning, with all its beauteous mountains, seas, valleys, He created us with eyes and ears to see His creation and enjoy it with Him. And what we see here on earth is prelude to the true essence of Heaven.

My favorite verses come from John 14:1-4 - "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Jesus will return to earth in all His glory. That great crowd of witnesses that have cheered me on will greet me…..and you. We will see Heaven with enhanced senses, and intenseness of beauty that we enjoy only in part here on earth, through a glass darkly.

Once, on a cool fall day, I drove down the street, and slammed on my brakes, saying, “God, how do you do that?” I saw the riotous colors of fall trees. It took my breath away. (I’m glad there was no traffic behind me.)

Another time I stood in the ocean at Newport Beach and literally felt His power in the waves and worshipped Him, for his majesty and infinite love.

Flying above the clouds one day, I looked down on the tiny cars that threaded their way across the land below me, and wondered how God sees us. We criss-cross this land in our pursuits for our own purposes. Are we mindful of His purpose for us?

Each time we see His beauty in creation here on earth, it is a reminder of Heaven, a call to remember to worship our Lord.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

Set your spiritual GPS on the destination – Heaven – no detours or side trips, and I will meet you there!