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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Meeting

The Meeting

GroosMom Emilie Brunn Siemens, I remember well. A tiny woman with dark brown eyes, a woman of strength. I considered her my heroine, an every - day woman who lived an extraordinary-day life. A woman who came to this country when she was 16 (1892). She worked for her sister in order to pay for her passage from Russia. She was chosen by Jacob B in 1897, and bore him four sons and two daughters.

But who is Jacob Siemens, my grandfather? My GroosPop. My mother told me that I sat on GroosPop's lap when I was one year old. That is all I have ever known. Since "What-Ifs?" are a part of my make up, I wondered....what if....I could have a Meeting with GroosPop. What questions would I ask him? What would he ask me? What were his dreams and his visions? How did he live his 62 years? What did he believe and what did he like to talk about?

It was an everyday day for me. I checked email, Twitter, Facebook and news on internet, and planned for the piano lessons I would give later in the day as I took vitamins and supplements and had breakfast. It is a Tuesday, that has become my "Blog Day". My favorite day. Then the doorbell rang.

Putting my laptop to "sleep", I answered the door wondering who could be visiting so early? A man of medium height, blue eyes, snow-white hair stood at the door. He said, "Emily?" Suddenly I knew who he was. How old could he be? He was born in 1876 in Inman, Kansas, on a farm. Quickly I did the math....134 years old. Incredible!

Quickly I invited him in, and we sat at the kitchen table, as I made him a cup of coffee. "GroosPop, it is so good to see you."
"I would know you anywhere. You were just 8 months old when I saw you. You were a wiggly baby. I was afraid I would drop you."
"GroosPop, Mom told me that you held me...and I wanted to ask you some questions."
GroosPop's eyes twinkled as he said, "Ask, already! That is why I came!"
Questions crowded my mind, and I thought for a minute, as I tried to prioritze the questions. I remembered the information written by Mom, Anna Daisy Suderman Siemens, about this man.
Herman B Siemens' great-great grandfather, Jacob Siemens II was born in South Russia in 1823 at Ruderweide. He was 79 years old when he came to America on a ship called 'Teutonia'. This was the last safe journey of Teutonia. With Jacob II came Jacob III, 49 years old and his family. Jacob IV (25) with his wife and infant daughter came, too. This was my great Grandfather. They settled in McPherson County in Inman, Kansas.
"GroosPop, did your Father talk about the trip across the ocean to America?
"No, child, he didn't as there was much to do to raise 11 children. Emily, your great grandfather was hard working, full of vigor and had a teasing nature. He had to provide for his five girls, Anna, Elizabeth, Marie, Tina and Justina, and the six boys, Jacob V, Dietrich, John, Abraham, Frank and Pete."
" GroosPop, if you lived in Kansas, why did you move to Oklahoma? Wasn't that difficult?"
"Well, anytime you moved in my time, it was difficult," he answered, "but that was when the territory of land opened - called Oklahoma. The name came from the Choctaw words for 'red' and 'people'. It was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it became a state. Your Dad, Herman, was just 4 years old then.
"When did you go to Oklahoma?"
"You do love to ask questions, Emily. No, we waited until 1903, and bought a homestead south of Corn, Oklahoma. That was the year your Dad was born. There were storms, drought and food was scarce. But I liked Oklahoma - the open spaces, good land and a new church in Corn."
"GroosPop, what about earning money?"
"Emily, I did many things. Farming is what I did first was farm, although it had problems with weather, insects and equipment. Every summer I made extra money as a chief mechanic of a threshing crew. It up at 5 am and worked often until midnight by lantern light to keep the team engine running."
"Groospop, my Mom told me you preached, how did that happen?"
"I remember that I learned to 'cry' a sale (auction) and became a Sunday School Teacher. One day by the barn, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I knew God told me to preach for Him, so I went to school. I guess you would call it an outdoor school. I had my Bible, and studied and practiced the art of preaching behind the barn and down the field's rows of corn. Sometimes when the wind blew, I thought I could hear the corn whisper, 'Amen! God blessed me, and the Mennonite Brethren Conference elected me as their traveling evangelist. "
"Wasn't traveling hard, GroosPop?"
"Very hard. I traveled by train, open car and horseback. The most difficult was leaving my Emilie alone with our children. She ran the farm and raised the children despite the accidents that caused blindness to little Jacob VI, the miscarriages and other illness
es. She was my partner and traveled with me in my heart. My sons, Dietrich, Herman, Jacob and Johnnie, grew up working very hard in my absences."
"My Mom told me that my Grandmother Suderman cried when you spoke one time at the Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church. She said that you were very handsome with a shock of curly gray hair and electric blue eyes." She also commented that your square chin spelled determination."
"That was the most difficult time of my life. The travel caused arthritic pains which caused many sleepless nights. Traveling was not good for me, no matter how much Alpen Kreuter (herbs of the Alps tonic) I bought. I knew I must go home to my
family. I asked for a word before the congregation and walked slowly to the platform. I said, 'Someone else must carry on and be the traveling evangelist'. I didn't know that tears were running down my cheeks as I explained that my health was failing and I couldn't continue."
"But, GroosPop, you were so able as a preacher...I understand that with your analytical mind, you could create the points and bring the message to a conclusion without writing anything down. Even the Tabor College students were asked to outline your sermons as part of their class work."
"That is true, Emily, but sometimes it is good to be home. The arthritis became creeping paralysis. I lived in a wheel chair for six years, then the rest of my life, I was in bed. My Emilie was faithful, and she would not let anyone else care for me. Then it w
as time for The Meeting!"
"What do you mean, GroosPop?"
"It is one that you will experience as well, Emily, God will let you know when. Do you remember the time my dear Emilie died in your bedroom that hot August day? I remember you sitting by her bedside."
"Yes, I was there, waiting beside you, because I knew she would soon join Jesus. That is 'The Meeting' I am talking about. Do you remember the scripture that was read at my Herman's (your Dad) service in 1979 - In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians:15:52)
"I remember, GroosPop, but I guess I didn't really understand it then."
"Emily, it simply means that there will be a meeting
with Jesus when it is time. And we will be together and we will be one in Jesus. That is the most important meeting there is."
"GroosPop, are you preaching me a sermon?"
GroosPops grinned at me, his blue electric eyes twinkling - all 134 years of him, "Emily, remember that although we die here on earth, in heaven our generations are one and time is no more. There are no hands on the 'forever' time piece."
With that, we said goodbye and my 'what-if meetin
g' was at a close. I know my GroosPop, I understand his life, his sacrifice, his love for his family and most of all, his love for Jesus.
I love you, GroosPop! Thank you for your example to live for Jesus!
Note: My name for my grandmother came from the plattedeutsch. Groos or Groot meaning Grand.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Intentions Come From the Heart

"Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”

We do live in an ever changing world. Without direction, we are swept through life in an ever-increasing speed. It seems like just yesterday, not 74 years, when I remembered the words, "You did that on purpose!" My siblings and I hurled these words often. Intense investifation followed each time we hurt each other accidently. Appeal to the higher authority of Mom, didn't bring any satisfactory help. If the ensuing debate revealed that the situation was indeed, accidental, all was forgiven. If indeed, the incident was 'on purpose' or intentional, we tried to 'get even'. Somehow the process of 'getting even' was never completed. Just as milk and cereal never come out even.

In all her wisdom, Mom declared that she loved us all, and it hurt her when we fought. She noted that God would take care of the situation, we did not need to. After that, if there was a disagreement, we resisted retaliation, saying, "God will take care of you." I'm not sure Mom meant that we would wait for God to 'get even' for us. But we did.

The word intentional is like a walk toward a planned destination. We can walk in the shade or we can walk in the light. Intentional has a dark side and a bright side. Intentional living has eternal consequences.

There is intentional living that leads to loving and promotes commitment affirming purposefulness. Eac day we have to make choices in our lives. The underlying motivation for the choices comes from our purpose in life - and indicates pre-thinking and determination for our lives. Inconsistency in life comes when we have no pre-thinking and a belief that underlies our motivation.

So often, in the past, I make a choice and wondered if it is the right one. When Mother and Dad made the decision to buy the brown house, or to move to a new town and job, were they at peace? Even though they second-guessed their decision there was doubt when costs rose and we didn't always have what we needed

Was it the right decision when we chose to move from Kansas to Illinois? When our great grandparents made the decision to travel to America from Russia, their purpose was freedom to worship God. Did they expect everything would be fine once they arrived in America? No, but they made plans to accomplish the move. From putting their possessions in one trunk, including winter wheat to plant, clothes for a large family, food for the trip to saying goodbye to family and friends left behind. They needed intentional commitment, trusting and loving God. Their intention was to worship in freedom.

When they boarded the ship they could not change course in the middle of the Atlantic. They had intentional trust and commitment that the Lord God would see them through. When drouth, grasshoppers, crop failure, snow storms or hot winds raged across central Kansas, were they tempted to doubt?

"Loving happily ever after' is not an assurance when choosing a mate for life. Yet, facing each day with the intention of love and commitment brings a sense of satisfaction and joy.

Shall we change location, jobs, the major in college? Decisions are endless. We want assurance that what we choose it is the right thing to do. Intentional love and faith brings that for we trust God.

When Jesus came to earth, was there an intention to His appearance? Yes. He came to seek and save the lost. Did he doubt or the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane...yet his intentional love was larger than his understanding of what was to come.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8

If our golden rule is "Do unto others before they have a chance to do it to me," life may seem difficult. If our golden rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you," il changes your heart.

Our speech, actions and attitude reveal our purpose in life or lack thereof. But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart....Matthew 15:18a

Intentional Living, Loving, Commitment self, family, community and world - far-reaching, Purpose

Intentional Living has to emanate from from the heart.

What does it take to live intentionally? It takes consistently following our example, Jesus Christ, who came in love.

Paul talks about pouring himself out....that his life is for others. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. II Timothy 4:6a

The Intentional Living is soul-deep, beginning from the inside - to outside.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Astounded and Amazed

Astounded and Amazed - these are the two words I heard in a prayer last Sunday. Those two words stirred my thoughts and memories from the past.

The face of innocence -- why does it capture us so quickly? Yes, each time I looked into the faces of each of our four children as newborns, I was amazed and captured. Now they are all in their 50's, my eyes capture theiradult-ness, but my heart carries a myriad of memories through a life time of growing and knowing.

I recently found a picture of our daughter, Anna, - with a face of innocence. When I see the photos of our children, I am astounded that they were ever so young and innocent. Each of their lives were filled with dreams and visions of the future, of growing up and being.

The secret of amazement is to capture that innocence in the midst of growing up? We experience so much that ten
ds to age and harden that soft innocence. In the bombardment of sound and the jangle of others' ideas and desires for our lives, our innocence tends to fade.

The delight and wonder in life disappears unless we find a way to become as a little child and are astounded and amazed in the world around us.

Several synonyms of astound - astonish, confound, overwhelm, surprise. Boredom is the antithesis. Synonyms of amazed - astonish, stupefy, startle, perplex. So much for dictionary references, I believe these two words capture much more. The act of being astounded or amazed is a time that we see God in His Creation. The flowers, the colors, shapes or texture of the sunset or leaves, the brilliant stars in a velvet sky are amazing. The songs of the birds and evidences of love between people. That is when God's thoughts confront us and we realize in part how important His Love is in our lives - it is the eternal portion.

How can we describe the love when a new mother holds her
baby, or the joy and celebration of the grandparents and the extended family on the arrival of a new child. When a family becomes love, it is when the group is stronger than each individual member.

Have you ever wondered why a vacation is more memorable when it brings us to interact with God's created and His creations all around us? It is a way of bringing us face to face with God. It helps us to focus on the eternal. God brings us times of astonishment and amazement that stops us where we stand to see Him more clearly and more nearly.

E. E. Cummings said, "The earth laughs in flowers." I pondered this quote, and thought how many times I have been astonished and amazed and wondered at the imagery in this quote. What is the genesis of laughter? Recently I received a bouquet of flowers - so unusual, I was astonished and amazed.

When Jesus taught during his ministry, there are five uses of the word astounded in the New Testament. Each time it was the result of his teaching or the miracles. Matthew 22:33 When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.

Jesus is the source of amazement and astonishment. There is so much we will never know now, but His Creation-Speak is enough for us now. It gives us the information that Jesus is Lord of all -He created us and our universe with all attention to a myriad of details. But more than that, He is the doorway to eternal life - if we choose to accept it.

February, the big snow came from his storehouse..(Job 38:22 - "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail)..and we are amazed and astonished at the depth of the snow.

Astounded and Amazed

I'm astounded and amazed At the price you paid

I'm astounded and amazed At the sacrifice you made.

I’m astounded and amazed That Jesus died for me

In all love and forgiveness His glory I will see.

Astounded and amazed Each moment of the day

How your blessings flow Astounded and amazed in every way

Praise and blessing I lay down at your feet

Ever astounded and amazed I bow at your mercy seat.

Astounded and amazed Your glory and grace

Lifts me up Until I see your face.

Astounded and Amazed because of Jesus!


Monday, February 01, 2010

Rainbows in the Snow

Rainbows in the Snow

What a delightful phrase - "Rainbows in the Snow". Thank you, Aunt Irene, for sending me 'rainbows in the snow'.

Who knew that today I would find rainbows in the thankfulness. God brought Ed and me together 58 years ago. Through the years we have learned to love each other and to allow the other to be. We were both so different. And yet we have shared all the firsts - becoming one in our marriage and one in the Lord through having our five children, four living; moving numerous times and changing occupations. We both are stubborn - and no matter what - we would not give up on each other or our marriage.

We marked each anniversary with gifts for awhile. An apple pie, flowers or jewelry.
My favorite gift one year was more memory for my computer. When we celebrated our 50th anniversary with our oldest son, and a KMBZ original video made by our second son, a video of our family wishing us a happy anniversary from each of the grandchildren and children. Greetings came from our California, Wisconsin, Illinois and Georgia children, as they do every year.

We soon realized that just being together, enjoying laughter, sharing a wandering snowflake or a squirrel digging in the snow is rewarding because it is sharing. Together we pray for our children and their families. This is a more valuable gift that binds us together.

Jacob Suderman understood the power of prayer - and his daughter, Lena, heard him often.
In a bedroom upstairs Jacob was interceding for his family before God. Lena heard him mention each child by name. Jacob and Helena, Daniel and Marguereta, Henry, Peter, John, Gerhard,Maria, Nicholas, Lena, Dietrich and Edward. Lena was touched to know how much he cared for them and their spiritual welfare. Whenever Jacob hurried to the new house and disappeared, she knew she would hear him praying for his family.

Mother, Anna Siemens, told me of her mother, Anna Loewen Suderman, turning off her hearing aid and praying for her children and grandchildren by name each night. Mother did this, and so do we. Four generations of love for children and 'those that come after'. Hearts full of love are able to pray for others. I wonder how deep love is. I wonder what blocks love.
Love is being able to pray with humility for others, lovable or not. Selfishness and pride blocks love and the ability to pray.

Gold, jewels or a cruise do not make a marriage, but the sparkling rainbows of joyous moments reflected in the snow of life does.

Last year, we had snow and ice during our anniversary. This year, God blessed us with more snow. Each time we look out in the white white world with the sun shining brightly, we are astonished at the brilliance. The promise of our Lord, Revelation 22:5 - There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

The brilliant snow in the sunlight is no comparison to the God-light in Heaven. This God-light makes us blind to the sins in the world and all we see is the glory of God. On this day, marking our anniversary of 58 years, we are humbled by the joy of the Lord! We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds our hands.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

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(Rainbow in the Snow by Scott on