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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thought-Life

A friend, also seven years old, slipped me a piece of paper, folded twice. I looked at the teacher, and she was turned away. I opened the mysterious piece of paper and read, “ I like you. Do you like me? Under her name she had drawn two labelled boxes. One box said Yes and the other box said No.

That exchange gave me several things to think about. One, I had a choice in liking my friend. Two, these boxes could bring her joy or defeat, and gave me a sense of power over her. Three, she was thinking about me and needed me.

I marked the yes box and folded the paper. I slipped her destiny back to her and watched her warm smile as she read the checked box looked back at me.

A thought-life consists of many thoughts. James Rutz wrote in Megashift, Our responses are actually “sponses” because they are a continuous part of the endless river of thoughts and deeds that flow through us from the heart of God, where every action in the universe originates.”

I re-read that quote several times and recalled the scripture, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Matthew 12:34b

The more I think of thoughts, the more I realize that our dreams and visions and thoughts are related to the entry through our other senses of things about us. My Dad used to walk 20 miles a day for at least 10 years, delivering mail. During that time he walked a minimum of 6,240 miles in a year. I wondered what he thought about during those long miles. I remember looking at the soles of his shoes while he took his 10 minute nap during the noon hour. He would have to have his shoes half-soled again soon, to cover the holes. This was during the time when every item we purchased required hours of discussion. Which need would be rectified and which item would be purchased ‘next time’.

What did Dad, Herman Benny Siemens, think about? No music in his ear during that time. He heard the sounds of God’s creation….birds, dogs, and people. His gift was story-telling, and I am sure he spent much time thinking ,,,, and laughing. His sense of humor was constant.

Did he know the truth I just learned, that often Jesus asked, “What do you think?” We are expected to think. Jesus, a Master Teacher, knows that the process of learning includes thinking and the expression of what we have learned from His Word. Learning is an active process.

Our thoughts center around what others think of us. What is their spoken or unspoken expectation of us? And in this same mirror is reflected how we think about us. The mirror of evaluation is always before us, whether we consciously know it or not. When we evaluate ourselves in terms of materialistic achievement, there is no end to dissatisfaction with ourselves. When we evaluate ourselves in terms of achievement in career or educational prowess, someone always moves the marker.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

That mirror of evaluation can trap and bind us in circle of nothingness.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:25

Ben Merold once said, “The most important thing about us, is what God thinks of us.” When this sinks in and we know how God loves us, we find that we are free in Christ. And in that freedom, we choose accountability to the One who has freed us.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:17

In the last years of Grosmom Emilie Brunn Siemens, she filled me with wonder. I wondered what she thought as she rocked back and forth in the steel chair on the front porch of the brown house on South 14th Street in Clinton. Did she think about the long journey from Leningrad Russia to America to find her beloved Jacob? Did she think about her four boys and daughter? About her many grandchildren? She never complained about her ill health, the lack of’ ‘doing’ as she folded her still hands in her lap? Then she would burst out in song, and I knew what she was thinking…and today it gives me peace.

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?

Refrain:
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.

Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.

At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.

Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Filtering Life

In today’s world one of the first words I learned is filter. It seems everything must be filtered. From the mechanical, the electronic, to the food we ingest, everything must be filtered.

There are masks to filter the air we breathe….while painting, working in factories, or where the air is contaminated. On the car there must be gas and oil filters for it to run at its maximum rate. There are filters that must be changed every three months to take the dirt out of the air that our furnace and air conditioners spew out to make us comfortable. A pile of filters are used in a lifetime to protect the coffee drinker from the ‘grounds’. There are filters to wear to protect those who are inflicted with allergies. There are masks to wear in the hospital to protect the patient from the air-borne infections that ride legion in the operating room.

Was it always so? I remember when I learned that there are particles breathed in of some unpleasant odors. Yuck, I thought. I learned that it isn’t always possible to hold your breath through the duration of that unpleasant experience. Especially with little ones in the house.


In the ‘old’ days, of the 30’s and 40’s there was a piece of cloth that fit over the gallon glass jar, that was used to strain the milk fresh from the milk can. The cloth filtered out bits of dirt and unwanted materials that drifted into the milk bucket. This cloth was used morning and night. We had a small pan in which it was boiled after being rinsed – to ready it for the next milking. When I visited my cousin on the farm, I was astonished to see a milk separator. What? How does the cream know which spigot to go to. I soon learned that it was easier to simply skim off the cream in the gallon glass jar. I still use the spoon I used as a child to skim the golden cream from the top of the jar of whole milk.

Mother used a cone-shaped perforated aluminium utensil that stood on three legs to filter applesauce from cooked apples. It was so much fun to watch the apple sauce minus the skin and seeds ooze through the holes. Another filtering experience that separated the skin and the seeds from the goodness of the apple.

As we begin life, our filter is our own needs. The basics of food, shelter and comfort. If that is given in a sterile environment, there is a void in life. But when the needs are given in an environment of caring, loving and gentleness, that life has a different filter to make decisions and see life around him. Compassion and forgiveness creates a mist of joy in the lives around the individual who sees life through a Jesus-Filter.

At times we live in a haze of pain, sadness or despair. These times color our life with hues of dark purple and a grayness that dims the joy and gladness.

That is the way life is, we filter truth from lies, good from the bad, kindness from ugly behavior, forgiveness from bitterness, love from jealousy.

When we lived on a farm near Howard, Kansas, our drinking water came from a well. The day my dear husband found a dead mouse in the well, our thirst could no longer be quenched from the water in the well, for we knew it could make us and our three little boys ills. My husband poured a bottle of Clorox in the well to purify the water, so it would be potable.

Sometimes our filter of belief must be purified and changed in order for us to live. Our eyes and our ears take in all kinds of information and in our heart and what we believe filters that information. When we build our hopes and dreams on the solid rock – Jesus Christ, He becomes our filter in life.

Is this why God created seasons – to let us know that change is inevitable? A week ago, the full moon made its appearance in the East. It cast a warm light that filtered the dark night. When clouds passed over the bright moon, The moon seemed to be playing peek-a-boo with me. The filter of different degrees of light made what I could see about me in different modes of light.

Each morning our day is filtered with sunlight, or various degrees of light. The green leaves of the trees shimmer in the breeze. Birds sing their sweet songs of joy. One early morning I peered through the window and saw my usual world through a filter of a breathtaking golden glow that reminded me of Gold Streets and Pearly Gates. It gave me a glimpse of what Heaven will be.

Through our eyes and our ears we take in the things of the world, and only when we have a worthy filter, can we protect our hearts. Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

When we live in harmony with Jesus, our world and our relationships are lived through the Jesus-Filter of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Through the filter – Jesus - we know our Heavenly Father, and experience an eternity of unconditional love.

Last Sunday evening we were captured by a misty filter, the color of a brilliant sunset. The world took on a different hue that draws one to another world.

As a dear friend of mine said, I try to live everyday remembering that I am not of this world!”

(Thank you, Mary!)


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Languages

Last night I reread Dad’s words that were recorded in the 1970’s and transcribed. As I read his very own words about so many parts of his life – growing up, going to school, working in a shoe store, college where he was determined not to meet and marry a wife (but he did), gaining a position as janitor and sub for the Clinton OK post office and becoming a ’regular’.

What about his heart? What was in his heart? He grew up on the farm, hearing only the Plautt Deutch language. And here, I will let you hear his words….

Now about my first day in school. It was another situation that entailed quite a bit of excitement. At home we talked only Dutch, and to go to school where the teacher and all the kids talked English, that was quite a situation. They didn’t know what they were talking about. And you looked at them wondered if they knew what they were talking about. But of course I knew what I was thinking all the time. But I couldn’t figure out what they were thinking and saying. Then the Teacher put me up to the blackboard, and she drew an A and a B and a C, and told me to copy those, and I didn’t know what copy meant. She gave me a piece of chalk. And I stood there and held the chalk real tight in my fat little moist hands and I looked at those things she put up there. I was afraid to go to my seat. So I stood there and looked at the things she drew and didn’t know how to make them. I got so nervous, I threw my breakfast on the floor, and poor brother Dick had to clean the floor. And I could go sit down on my seat.

But I didn’t ever want to go back to that old

blackboard anymore. It made me so sick.

And then, about church. That was another language problem. At home we talked Dutch, I was supposed to learn English, and then at church, everything was in German. I remember one sermon especially. The preacher talked about wounds, blood and terrible suffering and I caught on to what that was. Then they were singing the invitation song. I wanted to become a Christian. They sang a German song in the Germna language, and I thought it meant Be Very Tender With the Rules, and it was Throw Out the Life Line and Save Your Brother. I got it all wrong. That was my first impression of church (Mennonite).

Dad became fluent in English and Dutch and was able to translate letters written in German for his postal patrons during World War II. I learned that my Dad viewed the language problem as a challenge, and his problem-solving skills to bear on any difficulty he had.

I never had any problem determining Dad’s communication, although I never learned the languages he used, except for English. He always made his expectations for me clear. My Dad, Herman Bennie Siemens,

was a gifted story teller. More than once, Mom would listen and ask Dad, “Are you embroidering the Bible stories again?” The Bible stories were so real to us because of Dad’s gift. During a family reunion, Dad always had a group of young cousins gathered around him, listening to his stories.

Many times I would hear Dad quote his favorite poem by Charles F. Adams from the book. Poems Teachers Ask For, Book 1 – Leedle Yawcob Strauss. With his slight German/Dutch accent, reciting this poem was easy for him. This poem was often requested by others just to hear him. Sometimes I thought maybe he was Leedle Yawcob Strauss!

I haf von funny leedle poy

Vot gomes shust to my knee

Der queerest schap, der createst rogue

As efer you did see.

He runs, und schumps, un schmashes dings

In all barts off der house,

But vot off dot? He vas mine son,

Mine leedle Yawcob Strauss.


He dakes der milkban for a dhrum,

Und cuts mine came in dwo

To maker der schticks to beat it mit

Mine cracious, dot was drue!

I dinks mine hed was schplit abart

He kicks oup sooch a touse;

But nefer mind, der poys vas few

Like dot young Yawcob Strauss.

He asks me questions sooch as dese:

Who baints mine nose so red?


Who vos it cuts dot schmoodth blace oudt

From der hair ubon mine hed?

Und where der plaze goes from der lamp

Vene’er der glim I douse?

How gan I all dese dings eggsblain

To dot schmall Yawcob Strauss?

I somedimes dink I scall go vild

Mis sooch a grazy poy,

Und vish vonce more I gould haf rest

Und beaceful dimes enshoy.

But ven he was asleep in ped,

So quiet as a mouse,

I prays der Lord, “Dake anydings,

But leaf do Yawcob Strauss.

There are many words and stories that Dad told and read, and yet as his steps slowed and his breath became more labored, reading the Bible was of greatest comfort for him. The picture that Mom took after one of his 11 heart attacks says it all. Jesus is the bread of life, and in His Word is everlasting life.

Psalm 37:3-6, Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Wordles and Words

When did words become so fascinating? When did the meanings become so precious? My head spins at the thought of words spoken day after day, for centuries, vibrating around the globe. Could I pluck a sentence out of the air that Abraham Lincoln spoke? What would it be? Could there be a poll to determine the percentage of positive, encouraging words, and those that are filled with hate and evil? What if my words could be captured at some point, what kind of a person would they reveal?

There are websites of different kinds of words: Beautiful, Silly, Sad, Thoughtful, Inspirational, Challenging and Provoking. And there is another genre of words that create hurt, tears and destruction to the hearer.

As a girl, I grew up with parents who disciplined, scolded, but there was a balance of love, moments that were precious when words weren’t necessary. Now I treasure the filing cabinet filled with words my Mother wrote. I know her thoughts, I know her anxieties, frustration, and most of all, I know her heart. How she wrote, and how she dealt with life has helped me in living my life, meeting challenges.

Words became so important to her, as they poured from her mind and heart. She prayed that God use her writing for His purposes. She wrote poetry, a memoir of her family, articles, stories and scripture songs. Her writing is a plethora of words on paper that encase wisdom for me.

One of my favorite scriptures is: As you think in your heart, so are you. Proverbs 23:7. Our words reveal who we are to others. Facebook, the social media, reveals more than others may know, or want to know, about who we are.

The words Home, Mother, Comfort Food and Love create that complete feeling of Peace that is inclusive. So often, when sick, Mother made an eggnog for me…Just for me. “Never was sure about the medicinal value of a raw egg, milk and a bit of sugar) To this day, when I think of an eggnog and I see Mother’s hands giving me love with a sprinkle of nutmeg!

And there are impatient words of hate, anger and criticism that spew a torrential feeling of fear, uneasiness and distrust. These words create impenetrable walls around our heart.

‎"Spoken words leave voice-prints on the hearer's heart. The speaker's own heart determines whether the voice-print scars or encourages."

Then I ask myself, “Have I spoken truth?” “Have my words always been gentle?” “Have I used patience and considered words before speaking?” “Is my speech peppered with inappropriate language?” “Has my speech betrayed an ugly heart?” “Have I carried stories, whether true or not, that have decimated the character of someone?”

When did all these words begin? Recently the words – In the beginning – caught my eye. We all like new beginnings, turning a new leaf in our lives. This feeling comes like a clean house uncluttered with unused possessions. It comes with the heart when it is changed and determines to begin anew. This is why each new baby is greeted with such joy. A new beginning. This is why angels rejoice in Heaven when a new babe in Christ is born.

Curious, among the 93 references in the Bible, I found – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..” (Genesis 1:1) And a similar verse is John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” At the end of the Inspired Word of God, I find these Words from The Word - He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 21:6.

As babies we must learn to speak, no matter what language, we learn to walk, no matter wich nation. And we learn to think. The Word, in the beginning, was Jesus. The sweetest name we can say even now, is Jesus.

Why is that name of Jesus so sweet to the ear? His teaching, example and His presence give us strength through his characteristics of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Kindness and Self-Control. These are called the Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) (Against such, there is no law.)

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, 
and what no human mind has conceived”— 
the things God has prepared for those who love him - these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. I Corinthians 2:9-10

These words paint a picture that produce fruit in our lives that bless others and create the love that encourages others. Whenwe reflect those qualities of Jesus, we grow in Christ Jesus. In this day and age of drowning in words that question God, Jesus or Heaven, we remember with Joy that Jesus Lives and is coming again!

A Final Wordle of Hope!














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