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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Purposeful Destiny

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

The word DESTINY means many things to each of us. The second definition of destiny is "the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events." Curious. Who predetermines, why is destiny inevitable - a course of events? Recently I heard in a study of Esther that our destiny is to know God. "And you shall know I am the Lord your God."

William Jennings Bryant is quoted saying, “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” And yet, Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Today (last Tuesday) we took our daughter, Anna, to Tulsa to fly to California. We see all four of our children infrequently, so it was a triple pleasure to have Tim from Illinois, Rebekah (granddaughter) from Omaha and Anna from California here to celebrate Dad/Grandpa's birthday. Why are we separated by so many miles? (The Lord determines our steps) What holds us together as a family? It is more than blood. It is a legacy of faith in God from many generations.

Acts 11:26 - From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

Distance and circumstance cannot separate us. As we traveled the few hours to Tulsa, I wonder about my Mother, who seldom saw her parents in Kansas. A trip in a Model T or A was a day long affair. Only for about a year did Ed and I live near my parents. We may have planned many things, yet, they did not always come to be, for the Lord determined our steps.

For three months, Ed was in Viet Nam in the early 70's. Internet and cell phones were still not available, but mail was. When I wrote a letter asking a question, I did not receive the answer for four weeks. Then I was so overcome with emotion, I asked my children to read the letter first before I read and re-read the letter. I think of my ancestors who traveled to United States, leaving family behind in Russia. Not only was the trip long and arduous, but minute to minute cryptic texts via the cell phone/email that I enjoyed today, and when our son and granddaughter traveled home, were not available then.

This took faith, trust and knowing God to be content and knowing that God is over all, all powerful and all knowing. He knows us..... "your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16.

Just as God knows us, a family knows each other. I know my children, and they know me and their Dad. We love each other unconditionally, just as God loves us. Unconditional love takes many beginnings and re-beginnings. It takes prayer.

Lamentation 3:22-23 - Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

It is a mystery - this knowing God. It takes listening, it takes communication, it takes trust. When this knowing, listening, trusting and communication takes place with our Lord, then we have fulfilled our destiny. Not once, but every moment of the day.

My Grandmother Suderman wrote: How many sweet memories of all my friends young and old. Just to remember them over and over is a joy. Oh, all the precious memories could not be bought at any price. Not for millions would I trade all the wonderful memories of the past. And I have the best to look for yet - to go to heaven. It hurt deeply to give up our dearly loved ones (four babies), yet God kept us and comforted us, so we could bear it together.

I can see her yet as she waved goodbye from the assisted living home that was her residence. Still she had an open door to her room to all who wanted to visit. Her room contained a bed, a chair with a hand crocheted doily, pretty glassware, pictures of her Mother and Father, and baby Daniel. I compared it with the dirt floor, wood stove and small windows of the home that she lived in when she first married. She lived her life in faith and hope of our Lord. She gave thanks for what she had then. She settled in, whitewashing the dirt floor each week to make it clean. She used newsprint, folded, to cut 'lace' curtains for the windows. Always she gave thanks and sought the Lord for guidance.

What a legacy of faith she gave us. And this faith strengthened her through all manner of trouble. She achieved her destiny by knowing God and imparting her faith in Jesus Christ to all with her words, her patience, her unconditional love and her giving of herself to others.

We, too, must know God with heart-knowledge and put our faith in Him who is steadfast and able. To me, destiny means how I love and serve Him where He has placed me, with the gifts He has given me, in the number of days He has purposed. Blessed be His Name!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prepare, Prepared, Preparation

This week is a week of preparation for a visit from our Granddaughter, Rebekah, our daughter, Anna, and our third son, Tim. Cleaning, de-cluttering, and stocking food has taken over our lives. They are coming to celebrate their Granddad and Dad's 84 birthday. This visit is a welcome interruption to the routine of our lives.

I can hear the laughter, the joy, the hugs as we renew all the family memories of the past, learn all the current activities of the 30 members of our family. Then there is the future plans and the preparations being made by each, from the learning of our great grandchildren to the advancement and preparation for life of our grandchildren and retirement age nearing for our children.

As we prepare, I am reminded of preparations past when we expected our grandparents for a visit. Mother's idea of preparing included cleaning the house, with our help, from the front door to the back door. Chasing dust bunnies became an art, dusting, sweeping, washing. Then came the baking and cooking. The year our great grandparents also accompanied our grandparents, was an even busier time. It seemed like a forever time to prepare. When our grandparents and great grandparents arrived, all the preparation and planning was over and we enjoyed a time of pure love and encouragement.

A visit to Hillsboro, Kansas, to visit our grandparents was equally a time of preparation. From readying the car, to haircuts, baths, Mother sewing new clothes for all of us, making herself a hat, packing a picnic lunch for the trip, as well as packing the clothes and last minute instructions on expected behavior was necessary. To make this all come together to the Travel Day requires a planning coordinator and that title belonged to Mother.

Preparing the mind is also an important preparation for twists and turns in life. I found the quote, "Every path has its puddle" and the secret to a happy life is to see and not step into the puddles that appear. Preparing the body for various activities also takes time. The Olympics exemplifies the pinnacle of years of preparation in the participants.

One of our granddaughters recently wrote - "I always had all the answers, now I don't have a clue." How wise and her next 'twit' was: "You are my comfort, my shelter. Tower of refuge and strength. Let me never stop praising You."
Proverbs 16:9 - In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
We may have a five year plan, a ten year plan, but God determines our steps. God has made His own preparations for us. My favorite verses come from John 14. Imagine my surprise to see the word 'prepare'....and realize that even as we prepare for earthly activities and goals, God has already prepared a place for us. We must prepare our hearts through faith and trust in Jesus Christ to enter this place. It is our response to God for His immeasurable love.
John 14:1-3 - "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."
Oh Lord You've searched me You know my ways Even when I fail You I know You love me At the cross I bow my knee Where Your blood was shed for me There's no greater love than this You have overcome the grave Glory fills the highest place What can separate me now?
At the Cross by Hillsong

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


There are so many ways to celebrate and events to celebrate the events in our lives. The earliest I remember was my brother, Gene's, first birthday. He sat there at the table. Mother lighted the one birthday candle. No matter how he blew, the candle would not go out. Finally Mother let me blow out his birthday candle. This was great, for that year I blew out four candles. My 3rd birthday was settled the next day. I celebrated that year.

One day a man walked by our house when I was about four years old and asked when my birthday would be. "I don't know, last year it was on Sunday," I answered with a quizzical look on my face. He smiled and walked on.

Wedding anniversaries were a day of celebration always a day when the marriage between a man and a woman become truly one through the many disagreements, fears and joys, too. They have achieved I Corinthians 13: 4-7 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“Celebrate love. It is the breath of your existence and the best of all reasons for living.” Maya Angelou

What joy it was to find the invitation to my great grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary and think about their great achievement. I attended my Grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary and my Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary. In 2002, Ed and I achieved this lovely time of life when old age captures us and we find our bond of love growing even stronger. When we see each other as a true friend, a helpmate and love for each other follows the scripture in I Corinthians 13. When we find the best thing to do for our family is to pray for each of them - from our children and their spouses, 12 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Birthdays, anniversaries, babies' births, graduations, visits to grandparents, Christmas, Easter - life is a succession of celebrations - private and public. An ever-growing list of remembrances in a life that gives meaning to the word celebrate. And each celebration gives us hope and a look to the future.

When I was a child, a trip to visit my grandparents was the high light of my life. The time when unconditional love was enjoyed to the fullest. When I watched my children and their grandparents, I wondered what made their relationship so special. It didn't matter what we ate, it didn't matter what their home looked like, it didn't matter what we did - but doing it with Grandpa and Grandma was very special. I loved the picture of our children playing croquet at Grandpa and Grandma's house, and the many, many pictures that I hold in memory of the joy they had just being together.

What is it that draws grandchildren to their grandparents? That special love in I Corinthians 13.
Even when distance, health and money limits seeing family, we hold them fast in our hearts. We celebrate each new baby, each grand-baby and each great grand-baby!

When there is no hope, there is no celebration, -- there is no joy and life is bleak. Life becomes a succession of days without end and without meaning. We are trapped in a cocoon of time of sameness.

In Bible Times, God commanded His chosen people to celebrate with a succession of feasts. The feasts celebrated the ways God helped his people. The Passover Feast celebrated the miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt.

How did they celebrate?
  • Moses answered, "We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the LORD." Exodus 10:9
  • "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance." Exodus 12:14
  • "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year." Exodus 34:22
Why do God's people celebrate?
  • "They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145:7
  • "And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people go up with flutes to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel." Isaiah 30:29
Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” Ruth Carter Stapleton
Christmas is celebrated around the world and it began when the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, God's own Son. Even the angels celebrated by singing! This baby brought hope to the earth. And because of his resurrection to new life after his death and burial, He lives and we continue to celebrate. Not only on Christmas and Easter, but each day of our lives as we see His leading in our lives.

We celebrate Jesus because of the hope of eternal life. We celebrate Jesus because each day is His. We celebrate Jesus because He teaches us how to love...Him, our family and others. We celebrate Jesus because He is the life, the truth and the way.....Celebrate!

Don Moen wrote these words:
Celebrate Jesus celebrate
He is risen He is risen
And He lives forevermore

He is risen He is risen

Come on and celebrate

The resurrection of our Lord!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Right Word!

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
Mark Twain

Remembering the Jack Benny 'pause' as he and his Charley McCarthy provided radio duo-logue and I wondered if something was wrong with the radio transmission. And then after a moment, he continued or Charley McCarthy interrupted. Mark Twain was right.

Sometimes I view Mother's file cabinet of writing and wonder about her desire to write. She wrote, During a serious illness in 1960, my mind was obsessed with words like strings of tiny pearls. Even when I recovered, I could not shake them. I was left with the urgent sense of writing that never diminished."

Mother's love affair with 'strings of words' continued. Just as she could not go to sleep until she wrote down the words that circled her mind, I wake up with words and ideas swirling in a cloud. Mother often would learn a new word and 'drop' it on me. Creche, inadvertently and incessantly were three words I learned from her. She spent hours with the dictionary and thesaurus learning about words and using them in her stories and poetry. Mother also influenced our four children to write with facility, fluency and efficiency.

Once I heard a 'what if' that intrigued me. The science of this thought escapes me, but what if words, once uttered, circled the earth through all time? The speeches of Abraham Lincoln, the words of Jesus, the oratory of Greek philosophers still echo through the written word. If our words could continue through time, would we more carefully determine what these words are?

So often I hear - 'I wish I had asked my grandfather more questions about his life'. The young do not understand the importance of family history. How I would love to capture conversations of the past in my family. What did my great grandparents say on the ship as they came to United States? What did my Mom say as she walked through heavy snow to go to church as a small girl? What were the sermons my Grandpa Siemens preached? What were my Grandmother Suderman's hopes and dreams as a young bride, white-washing the dirt floor of her first home? Did my Grandpa Suderman despair when he lost three sons in death? What words did he say in his prayer to God? What did my Grandmother (Grosmom) Siemens think when she traveled across the ocean to America from Saratov, Russia? Journals often chronicle the past.

So many words have been spoken through the years. And now, we are deluged with a storm of words and noise every moment of our lives through the miracle of technology. Yet these words often do not penetrate the heart when we hear the deluge of world wide events instantaneously.

Growing up in a two-language household, I learned early to listen carefully and to understand their message. To my delight, recently I have met several Chinese friends. Although their English may not be faultless, it is part of their charm. I listen carefully to their words. Perhaps if we listen with all our senses communication would indeed be more transparent and efficient.

Writing prose or poetry can be as confusing as composing music. Both have lists of words to use and chords and 88 keys to play. As in both -- the rhythm adds complexity and interest of the messages sent. The harmony of the words and music make an indelible message on the heart. When there is a dissonance in either, the message is lost. The writer and the composer must clarify the focus of their message.

When visiting a high school creative writing class, I was astonished at the number of expletives that were employed in the name of creativity. When words are dressed up in the rags of foul language they become mind-numbing. The impression made, whether on facebook, a letter or twitter becomes a public declaration of one's heart. Yes, vocabulary counts.

For words come from the overflow of the heart. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
- Luke 6:45

Are words spoken or written for self-aggrandizement or condemnation, or are they filled with encouragement and hope? I watch the countenances of children change from tears to smiles just because of the words spoken. I have seen the hopelessness of older folks change from fear to hope and happiness. The right word is comfort and to cheer, to bring hope and peace.

Twitter is an interesting communication tool that teaches choosing the right word. I have read Twitters that convey sorrow, laughter, sympathy, wonderment and more questions, all within the limits of 147 characters. It has taught me that communication can occur within brevity. Whenever a fast-talking person drowns me in a wave of words, I immediately realize there may be something awry and I become wary of the message. When the message is obscured in 5 syllable words, and the meaning is not clear, I consider the messenger suspect.

It is amazing to me how the language that comes from the body can underscore or negate the message of words. I cringe when I hear a young mother accuse her young child of lying. What does this teach a child? Choosing the right word is so important in every avenue and every time of life.

Verbal manipulation is deadly. It slices through friendships, families and our worlds of politics and business. It destroys compassion and civility. Where can we find the right word? What is the right word?

God's wisdom in the writing of Apostle Paul tells me the right word.....
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13