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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fear Not!

Luke 2:8-14 - And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

Fear Not!” “Don't be afraid!” These words were spoken by the angels under a starlit sky to the shepherds. They heard these words and did not stop to analyze or consider the 'what if's' of being afraid, but instantly obeyed. They believed and left forthwith to seek the Christ Child, lying in the manger.

These words God were often given to people down through the ages, Why? Why suggest or command people not to fear during different scenarios of their lives? Isn't it possible that to suggest or command not to fear brings on fear? I found the phrase do not fear in the Scriptures many times and in many instances. Curious, I discovered the message behind, “Fear not!” It is coupled with being confident in God's ability to protect and care for us.

Abraham was told, “Fear not, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1. Gpd called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What ails you, Hagar, fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” Genesis 21:17. Isaiah heard these words, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1b

Then these words are found in Isaiah 54:4a - “Fear not; for you shalt not be ashamed, neither be confounded.” How true that when we are afraid, we are ashamed. We feel as if we are found wanting and guilt overwhelms us. Then comes hopelessness and despair. And we feel trapped. Fear is the enemy, the threshold to emptiness.

Daniel was told, Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didnst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Three things Daniel did – he set his heart to understand, he chastened (self-disciplined) himself and he prayed to God. Could Daniel have succumbed in fear? Yes! Daniel was under the constant fear of death from the King. He was sent to the hungry lion's den to be torn to pieces. He stood in the dark with the sound of hungry lions all about him. A nightmare situation! The king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 Did Daniel cry out in fear? No. He trusted God to rescue him and praised Him. Daniel's faith was strong and steadfast. He was confident in where his strength lay.

There are many kinds of fear. Fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, fear of heights, fear of being alone, fear of fear, fear of sickness and disease, fear of punishment, fear of rejection and ridicule, fear of failure, fear of spiders....the list is endless. Atrocious words to spell, or pronounce have been attached to these fears. Does this lessen the fear, or elevate it? Fear causes us to be immobilized, brings physical problems, causes confusion, opens the door to do the wrong thing (sin) and keeps us from standing firm. Fear causes us to lessen our love for others and serving God.

The 'what if's' that fear could have brought to the shepherds the night the star shone so brightly, could have caused them discount the announcement from the angels. The shepherds were considered lowly, and might have asked, “They don't mean us, let some one else go! We don't want to look foolish.”

What if' Daniel had wimped out before the King? Surely, Daniel would have been less than strong without his faith and trust in God! Daniel was confident in the power of God. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6 (Moses' words to Joshua as he was ready to take his leave.)

As the new year approaches, I wonder what is in store for me and my family. I have thought about the affairs of our country and the world. Insecurity is rife in so many areas such as physical safety, leadership, economy. Killings from man and from natural causes can turn our hearts either to fear or to God. I can be fearful or I can have confidence. If I choose confidence, where will I find it?

I remember reading and seeing Mom (Anna Daisy Siemens) searching for spiritual strength for the new year as it approached. Her favorite weapon against fear was always praise. As I looked through one of her journals, I found the entry, one hot summer: “I heard it rain during the night, not a lot, but a little. I smiled at God and said, Thank you.”

In her January 1 entry, 1994, she wrote, “Every year should begin with prayer and I have a thousand reasons to Thank You, Father, this morning. So it is good to bring my Thank You to Him. Since I can not sing too well at 86, I shall write a review of Psalm 147, as my song of praise.” Mom's weapon against fear and despair was Praise! Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1
Many people, including my daughter, Anna, choose a scripture to live by each new year. This year I choose several scriptures to live by. Fear Not is coupled with confidence in God my Father. If I have confidence in God, I don't have room in my life for fear of anything this world offers. God is my Lord, Jesus is my Shepherd and the Holy Spirit is my Helper!

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. I John 4:17
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. I John 5:14

May your New Year be filled with the blessings of sure faith in Christ Jesus and remembrance of Him who walks with you in this life. Fear Not! For in Christ Jesus, our Savior, we are blessed!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


As I read the newspaper clipping from eighteen years ago, the words eerily described today:

The world love-light dims. We fasten our safety belt for an unknown comet's collision with Jupiter with fear.  Our ears are glued to the tube for hours of special media reports on the O.J. Simpson saga to taste every strand of evidence fed to us by national commentators.

We feel the heavy metal rock beat of senseless slaughter in Bosnia, Rwanda, Palestine and Israel drumming against our consciences.  Crime waves, drug cartels, natural disasters and lack of integrity set our teeth on edge. Some of us can remember when our doors were never locked. We remember when love lived in our homes and our streets. Now we live in fear. How can we turn the love-lights back on?

We catch rare glimpses of agape love at Christmas time or during calamities. Such a love touched me a month ago (June 1994) -- while I fought fiercely to live independently at 87 but hopelessly collapsed like an empty balloon in ill health. The love that touched me came from St Mary's Hospital, Home Health and my family. I cannot repay that love, I can only say 'Thank you' for the beautiful love that lights humanity. God lights this world with His love through you...thank you...Anna Daisy Siemens.

This clipping was placed inside a friend's Bible and forwarded to me by her daughter-in-law last week after my friend's death.

When I was a little girl, my bedroom had four windows, two to the South and two to the West overlooking the backyard. One night as I lay down to sleep, the back yard was filled with fears and images of war from the current Life magazine. I was terrified. My Dad took my hand, and with love, we walked outside to a peaceful backyard, a darkened haven. Dad was my love-light. His strength became my strength. His sureness became my peace. Now, when fear and uncertainty comes, I place my hand in God's hand and He strengthens me.

Now I look at the news all about us, and I see what Mother saw in 1994 – the turmoil of natural disasters, the ever-widening conflicts and torture of people who are created by God throughout the world. Senseless killings fueled by anger and revenge. And I ask, with Mother, why? And I ask, when do we choose to turn on the love-light?

It is a choice. It is from the heart. It is from us – me and you. Will each of us learn to exchange the despair to hope; the anger to peace; the criticism to encouragement; the hate to love; the sadness to joy; the cruelty to gentleness; the corruption to truth; impatience to endurance?
No, not alone, but we have help. We can choose to the King of Peace to hold our hearts and walk with Him each day.
  • Hear my cry for help, my King and my God for to you I pray. Psalm 5:2
  • But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Psalm 22:19
  • The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
  • So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

The phrase, Love-Light, reminds me of the twinkling lights on a Christmas tree as a child. The fascination with lights is so ingrained in us – that man has invented a myriad ways of lighting places on earth. When a light bulb burns out, it is such an inconvenience. When the power goes off for any reason, we are helpless and struggle to know what to do or how to stay warm or what to eat. Night lights give us security and sure-footing in the night.

Yet, we have the Creator of Light, the real thing. And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, Genesis 1:14.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus is truly our Love-Light. His Love-Light pierces the darkness. When we choose to believe in Jesus, He walks beside us. He keeps us from stumbling in this dark world. He gives us His peace, not as the world gives.

Job wrote in 30:17 - Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment.

The phrase, 'Night pierces my bones', creates a telling image of the terror of the night that invades our spirit. When corruption, untruths, anger and the love of money rule our hearts, we are caught in a dark world.

I Timothy 6:11 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Revelation 1:8

Recently I heard a new Christmas song that points to making a choice of whom we will serve. The choice is ours. Will we settle for world's fleeting pleasures or will we choose Jesus and eternal life. A child, in bewilderment asks, “Where is the Line to See Jesus?

Where's The Line To See Jesus?
Is He here at the store?
If Christmas time is His birthday,
Why don't we see Him more?
Where's the line to see Jesus?
He was born for me.
Santa Claus brought me presents,
But Christ gave His life for me.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'll Be Home For Christmas

This song, I'll Be Home for Christmas, was first recorded in 1943, by Bing Crosby ( The lyrics, written for soldiers during World War II, ends with the words - Christmas Eve will find me, Where the love-light gleams, I'll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams.

At the age of 13, I didn't understand the depth of the meaning – where else would someone be, than at home? At home where Christmas tree lights twinkled in the living room, secret gifts under the tree and the scent of newly-baked peppernuts coming from the kitchen. As time ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve, we waited for Dad. When Dad came home from delivering last minute packages from the old parcel post truck, we were prepared for the Christmas Story of Jesus' birth read from Luke 2, singing Christmas carols and prayer on our knees,

Home for Christmas took on other meanings. During our 60 years of marriage, there were years when it was impossible to 'be home for Christmas'. That longing to be home with family never ceases – but the location of home as a physical place – changes. It is a process of learning just what home means.

The file of Mom's writing reveals her understanding of being 'Home for Christmas'. She writes:
In 1928, our first Christmas was spent away from home. Christmas meant home, love and family. To me, being home for Christmas was a given. Surely we would go home for Christmas. The waves of nausea of the first pregnancy were over and we planned to make the long, cold trip of 300 miles. Pop installed a heater in our car. We hoped it would not snow.

The night before we planned to leave, I became ill. My ears ached and my fever was high. I had the flu! Oh, I was very brave and didn't even cry. Pop bought a tiny Christmas tree and decorated it. With the new Chevy backed under the window, he hooked the tree's lights to the battery of the car. I appreciated his concern for my happiness but I was really too miserable to care.

The night before Christmas Eve, the telephone rang. It was my Dad, “We have been expecting you. When are you coming?” That opened a flood-gates of tears! I had never been away from home for Christmas, but God had a plan for me. With a new post office job for Pop, it was 13 years before we were at my parents' house for Christmas. I discovered that Christmas is not a place, not certain people, but celebrating Christ in the heart is the joy that cannot be taken away by big snows, distance, illnesses or job.

Christmas Wonder
What is the wonder of Christmas/ That pulses in the hearts of all men?
This spirit of giving and sharing That defy oral words or the pen?

No evil intent in this wonder, But joy with each gift that we give.
The secrets, the lights and the carols – A warmth-shedding glow as we live.

This wonder is the love of Jehovah – That gave us a Savior in birth
Reminding man's hearts that God's goodness Sent Jesus, His Son, down to earth!

God's love is the wonder of Christmas That thrills human hearts everywhere
A wondrous reminder each season; 'Tis the gift of God's love that we share! (ADS)

When our parents' 'home' is no more – where is our place at Christmas time? That is when we teach our children what 'home' is. Is there a 'forever-home'?

In the last paragraph Mom wrote this....
How I have appreciated our loving family circle, even after Poppa and I sat side by side alone on Christmas Eve. We were so thankful to be 'home for Christmas' We always prayed our children had joy in their own circle of loved ones and that they might appreciate their children while they have them at home for Christmas! And what if I celebrate Christ's birth alone – I have a heart full of happy memories! And the joy of finally being …. at 'Home for Christmas' with our Lord.

No matter where we lay our heads at night, if we have Jesus in our hearts, we are 'home'. Even if our earthly family is miles away, when we find those who have Jesus in their hearts, we are 'home'. When we give our love without reserve to the 'least of these', we are 'home'.

God welcomes us 'home' when we praise Him and love his Only Son! May this Christmas find us truly 'at home for Christmas and every day'.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Growing Old.....

 It was a Wednesday morning, and four children surrounded me, looking at my hands as I pinched the skin. I looked down at my hands and saw old lady hands and remembered long ago sitting with Grosmom Siemens looking at her work-worn hands. She let me lightly pinch the skin on the back of her hand and watch the skin keep its shape, like a tiny hill. I tried to pinch my hand's skin, but it quickly fell back to it former shape. I long wondered about why my skin didn't hold like hers. Now it does. It is an 'earned right' to be able to make a pinch-hill on the back of my hand.

Emilie Brunn Siemens was my first introduction to what is considered 'old age'. Her life began in June 18, 1876 in Norka, Saratov area of Volga Russia. When Emilie was sixteen years old, she came to this country leaving her parents (1882). She worked for her sister in United States for 5 years to pay for her passage ticket. She spoke low German/Dutch (Plautt Deitch). We loved to talk in our own languages and were able to comprehend the meanings. Grosmom was small woman, with big brown eyes, her black hair was combed into a bun on the back of her head. There was a growth on her neck that reflected the beating of her heart.

I loved Grosmom Siemens. Now I wish I had asked her questions to learn what life was like for her. What were her dreams? Did she have any desires? Was she scared when she traveled alone? The fact that she came to this country alone on a big ship when she was sixteen intrigued me. When I was sixteen, I wondered if I could have done the same thing. She left her parents when she came. Did she miss them and long to go back to Russia? Although she worked for her sister, she was treated as a servant, as she did outside and inside chores to earn her passage.

Later Emilie married Jacob V Siemens, an auctioneer and a traveling evangelist. How did they meet? How did she feel about marriage? I knew that Grosmom Siemens loved her husband, for she cared for him when he became paralyzed the last year of his life. They raised four sons and one daughter. The four sons were irrepressible, mischievous boys who kept their Mom busy. Another daughter, Annie, died January 29, 1913, from meningitis. Did Grosmom grieve a long time? Grossmom died at the age of 67, August 7, 1943. She had not reached an old age - as we consider being old now.

My picture of old age includes a quietness, a folding of the hands and a sweetness. In Rogers, our church family included a row of ladies who appeared to be a row of roses – a veritable rose garden. As the row grows smaller, I miss my rose-ladies. When I see a gray-headed man or woman, I see a history – of living and stories to tell.

Growing old sneaks up on us. Did we expect for life to go on and on? Yes. We do not take to change kindly – especially the growing old change. As time goes on we make allowances for physical strength, taking more naps. We make allowances for not remembering or for misplacing things. We allow ourselves to save a mountain of things that define us because 'we might use it someday'. We realize that youthful 'tomorrow-outlook' begins to change to counting the days, and not squandering time. The important things of life change. No longer is the latest gadget, fashion or mode of transportation important. What is important? Each of us have to answer that question for ourselves.

Growing old is like cramming for a test scheduled for tomorrow. There is no escape. Is growing old depressing? No. Although that is a question each of us face and we must answer. There is no escape. It is a journey, an adventure. Although it is a path well-trodden through the ages, we see it as new when we travel that same path. We study our way, and realize, at the slower pace, we can recognize blessings we overlooked before.

As birthday candles grow in number, we pile on experiences and thoughts. Greying hair doesn't always mean wisdom, but it places prioritzing in its place. (A lady once told me that her hair color was whatever bottle she chose at the time – does that mean she will never become wise? This relates to a tree falling in the forest....)

Growing old is a blessed state. A state of peace when faith and trust become a living/breathing part of life. Growing old is appreciating, encouraging and loving children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from an eternal perspective. Growing old is a bridge between youth and forever. Growing old is recognizing the power of prayer as never before. Growing old is a peace when 'doing something' is not as important as praying for it. Growing old is God's way of preparing us for an eternity with Him – giving us aches and pains – that only He can erase in His time.

Growing old is living with expectation of seeing God at work.
Growing old is the surprise of one more year that God has granted.
Growing old is not looking back but looking ahead to what will be.
Growing old is being a place of rest and comfort for others.
Growing old is smelling a rose and recognizing the scent of forever.
Growing old is smiling through tears caused by physical pain.
Growing old is listening to those around you with love.
Growing old is giving what you are with open-ness.
Growing old is walking in hand in hand with our Savior.
Growing old is looking up at the stars and knowing Who we belong to.
Growing old is never losing the child-like sense of wonder.
Growing old is sitting by the side of life with an open door to those who pass by.

(Written by someone who is growing old....)

  • I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25
  • The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29
  • Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. Psalm 71:9
  • The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
    planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
    They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92:12-15
  • Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

Happy 89th Birthday to my Aunt Irene!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Family Afterglow

A little boy said goodbye to his mother and he was brought to an orphanage in Pune. His mother suffered from tuberculosis and did not expect to live. This was her sacrificial act for her son, there was no one else to care for him. Her gift to her son was the chance of a gift of life.

A young couple and their three daughters, one adopted from India, in America looked at the pictures on the coffee table of little boys. Which one would they choose. They were drawn to the photo of Santosh. Arrangements were made with the orphanage and the small boy, almost four years old, flew in an airplane from India to America with a person from the orphanage. It was a long trip for a little boy, before he even knew what 'goodbye' meant.

At the end of the flight, the young couple met the plane. It had been a waiting time filled with concern and prayer. The money for the adoption, the choice of Santosh, the preparation for a little boy, who would soon arrive created the need for trusting God. So many unknowns, and then they held Santosh, a small brown-eyed mischievous little boy. They were a family.

What did Santosh think of his light-skinned parents, his two blonde sisters, and Rebekah, who reflected his darker skin and brown eyes? Santosh's new father wrote an article about Lavasatha's legacy ( Paul wrote: One of my favorite passages of the Bible is from Proverbs, ”A man plans his steps, but the Lord directs his path.” As I look back almost 21 years ago, I can see God using a little boy to direct my path in a way I could never have foreseen.
Not only was Santosh's life forever changed forever, but Paul and Carolyn's and their family, and Santosh's new uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents' lives. During the first visit to his Arkansas grandparents' home, he still remembered life in India....and pretended to eat dirt from a tub because of the hunger he remembered. He loved green grapes, and through subsequent visits he learned to play checkers with Grandma. On one visit, he went to Grandma Daisy's house and saw the wild rabbits that tried to eat her garden. Eighteen years later, he still remembers her excitement of showing Santosh the rabbits.

There was never a question from either Santosh or his grandparents as to their relationship and love. Adoption simply means a choice of love from all concerned. Santosh's new parents raised Santosh to love Jesus and to pray and to trust in Him.

When Santosh was 10 years old, he came to his grandparents' home and said he wanted to be baptized into Jesus. His Grandpa baptized him in the Rogers Christian Church baptistery. The faith of Santosh deepened and he delighted in discipline, telling others his story, enduring racial taunts from classmates and learning the nuances of a new language. He overflowed with love and concern for others. He loved taking a tray of food to Grandma Daisy and listening to her stories. At one point, he gave his Grandma one of his stuffed animals to keep....a rabbit.
Santosh delighted in working and being busy. He attended a Bible College in Montana for a year. He plays the guitar and a bit of piano. Then he left home, working in construction, shingling roofs. He attends a church and trusts in God. He decided to come this year to see his transplanted Arkansas grandparents. It has been many years – and as we ate green seedless grapes, he told us of his adventures and his life. He is twenty-two years old now and a man.
We enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner with our son, Tim and his family. Ben stayed to visit with his cousins. Then we 'skyped' his cousins in California. He enjoyed visiting with family and being with family for Thanksgiving Day. At the end of the day, I asked him what he is most thankful for. He said without hesitation – family.

He continued, I am thankful for being a Combs, and for family and all that means. He left the next morning at 5:30 am, and as he drove, he thought about family and wrote this poem:
It is strange to watch the time fly Before our very eyes, Which reminds me of the blessing, That we have you in our lives.
To have yet to feel the touch That's as gentle as your hand The closeness of our family One could never understand.
As each of our lives Continue to change, Reflections of your love In each of us remains.
You have pointed out the path And led us along the way;
The wisdom you have planted, We each still hold today. You sheltered us through childhood And saw us through today, Taught us of the Lord above, About faith, and how to pray.
One day we'll all be in heaven Dancing on the throne, Praising God for giving us A family like we've never known.
I love my family...
As I read this poem, my heart welled up inside me for that little boy who lost his family and God blessed him, and us, with belonging to our family....Benjamin Paul-Santosh Combs!

That is exactly what belonging to Jesus is all about. We are lost, adrift in this world, and then we are adopted through Jesus into the Family of God. No matter what happens in our lives each day – it is the belonging to that Family that gives us hope and never-ending love. Through this adoptive family we acquire brothers and sisters – a loving, supportive family.
It is a legacy that began in the heart of God. There are so many 'what-ifs' that it isn't 'happen-chance' – it is God's planning through the legacy of Lavasatha that we have Benjamin. Paul writes, “Lavasatha’s legacy in our family is the new life he brought us. He opened our hearts to adopt from India. And he opened our hearts to the many, many children in the world who are alone, heartbroken and in need of someone to care.”
What is in Benjamin's future? That is in the hands of God and in the heart of Benjamin.
- May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. Psalm 72:4
- Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5
- As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13


Monday, November 19, 2012

Being Thankful...

For all we eat, For all we wear,
For all we have everywhere,
We thank you, Father, Amen.

That prayer, repeated by my brothers and me at every meal was the beginning of 'thankfulness' and taught to our four children. The words, “For all”, over time became one word - “Forall”. It became a ritual, not a prayer.

When I was little, my Dad, Herman Siemens, said this prayer - "Komm, Herr Jesu, sei unser Gast, und segne alles, was du uns aus Gnade bescheret hast." The translation is: "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and bless all that you through your grace have bestowed on us." ( I loved hearing him say, 'besheret'. Then I would wait for the 'Amen', knowing it was time to eat.

It is one thing to grow up in a 'thankful' household – but it is another to learn to be thankful. In today's world I have seen thankfulness become an 'in' thing to say and to write. Facebook is the place to share the 'I am thankfuls' from the heart. I have read each one – and written my own. Each one expresses a color that paints the canvas of life with vibrancy of light and love.

And how can it be? When the news all around the world is chaotic, threatening our very existence. Why is that? We do not have far to look. We simply examine our own hearts to see if we have the elements that make our world a place to live, to love and to enjoy in peace. When anger and criticism is our every-day language, we have fallen off the thankful meter into the abyss of misery. Tears express frustration. Our eyesight observes the eyesores of our world, no matter how brilliantly God paints the sunrises. We cannot see God's work when we are blinded by greed, corruption or anger.

So, how do we leave the 'downers of life' in the dust? How do we change direction and see the glory of God at work? That is the question.

Google, one of my 'acquaintances' is filled with rules and steps that instruct us in becoming thankful. No matter how many steps – following the well-meaning 'how-to's' – does not accomplish the desired goal of thankfulness. It must come from the depths of the heart. Last Sunday I heard the heart described as the Worship Center and the Operating System of our lives (OS). How apt! For the heart provides the why and how we choose live.

During Bible Study last week we studied about Mary and Martha, when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Immediately I wondered what Lazarus would say for his “I am thankful....” when he came from the tomb. The ramifications of re-entering the world – business as usual – must have been difficult.

My Grandmother Suderman (Anna Loewen Suderman) wrote about the death of four little ones: “Soon little bundles from heaven came to us. How sweet they were, we loved them dearly. But sickness and even death did not bypass us. But we were together, sharing joys and sorrows. It hurt very deeply to give up our loved little ones, but God kept us and gave us comfort so that we could bear it.”

She continues, “The first 20 years of our married life we enjoyed good health, but then for a number of years I've been sick very often. Sometimes we thought my stay would not be long anymore. But God always heard our prayers and graciously helped us. He very definitely answered our prayers. The last years Gerhard has not been in good health, but we get along, and are thankful that we can be together and help each other.”

To my Grandmother Suderman, thanksgiving comes from the heart and shines through the bad times and the times when we think we will not endure. If it were just us – we would not endure. Down through the years our ancestors have battled through storms of various kinds – illness, death, financial distress, immigration, drought, famine, flooding, separation from family and outside dangers. Yet their faith strengthened – why? Why not just give up? Why not become bitter and disillusioned with life?

One that article caught my eye – described thankfulness in an acrostic for F-A-I-T-H, by Trevor Lund.
F –Focus – look at what God is doing, not at what threatens to occur. Matt. 6:23-26
A –Attention – Keep focused on the right thoughts. Philippians 4:8-9
I – Intention – Make plans and follow through to change your thinking. Romans 12:2
T –Thinking God's Thoughts – Matthew 11:28-30
H –Holy Spirit Help – I John 2:27

Yes, this is the week to express thanksgiving for our blessings...a day set aside to remember to be thankful. Just one day?
Two verses of scripture say -
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Thankfulness in these verses are coupled with the words – peace, prayer and being watchful. So it is that being thankful doesn't create a life of chaos, anger and criticism. The first attributes – peace, prayer and watchfulness call us to life. Without being thankful our spirits become death for ourselves and others.

My Mother's praise always surprised me. Without warning, in the midst of canning, sewing, cleaning, gardening or cooking, I would hear Mom's voice burst out – Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost...A-men!

I didn't comprehend the depth of her spirit of thankfulness. Her legacy to me (and to all who knew her) is a mantle of thankfulness – praise – and love for “Father, Son and Holy Ghost”.

So this Thanksgiving I give God praise for His blessed Love and leave you with the words Mom wrote long ago....
Lord, today I bring you offering as a sacrifice of praise.
Let my life proclaim thanksgiving...Honor Him in all my ways.
All my heart should live thanksgiving, Pleasing God in everything.
He's my Savior, Christ Redeemer, He's my Master, Lord and King. ADS


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One-Drawer Life

As I walked through our new kitchen, I vaguely heard a comment. “I just realized, there is just one drawer in the kitchen!” The third day, I decided to organize what Hilarie so carefully had begun in unpacking the kitchen. And the comment about one drawer became clear! Surely not! There had to be more than one drawer. There wasn't. Just one drawer!

Tim's voice (our son) echoed in my mind as we toured our previous house, “Down-size, Mom, down-size.” I remembered the drawer-rich kitchen. He pointed out what we could take and what there would not be room for when we moved. In dis-belief, I looked around our new kitchen and found ONE DRAWER!

The direction, “It's in the drawer!” takes on a different meaning. Very concise and there can be no misunderstanding. “It's in THE DRAWER!”

As I re-organized and determined what should be in THE DRAWER, I took an overview of Kitchens of the Past. Why did one drawer seem so un-doable?

In our first two-room house in the country near Piedmont, Kansas, we just had minimal storage place. I don't even recall a drawer. We had very few possessions. We didn't stress, didn't wonder where we would put anything. Even when Uncle Gallio and Ed added two rooms to the house, and piped water from the spring across the road, we still we didn't wonder about storage space.

Then the move to Joplin. We rattled around in those five rooms and a full basement. Then came Minneola with six rooms and a full basement. New Harmony, Indiana had six rooms plus a room-sized hall way and a black coal fired furnace in the basement. Hinton Oklahoma had 5 rooms and a back porch. Near Dodge City, we had two stories and 8 rooms. Then in Collinsville we spread out in two stories of 7 rooms plus a full basement. In Rogers, for just two of us we enjoyed 14 drawers in the kitchen! There were more houses, and yet we never felt a want for storage room even with our four children.

Why now does one drawer in the kitchen take on such an exaggerated meaning for me?

Then I realized what it is. The 'full circle' is taking place in our lives. When it was someone else that moved, it didn't seem to matter. Somewhere along the life's way, I had become attached to things – familiar things - about me. Grandma Siemens' two amber glasses one, with a crack, Grandma Suderman's gift of 3 dimensional flowers in a glass rectangle, the pictures of family on the wall from 2 generations ago to 2 generations ahead. They all remind me of who I am. When I unpacked a box last Friday and located the treasured genealogy record books, I rejoiced. The lost and familiar had been found.

Down-sizing is the loss of material reminders of who we are. I remember the day my two brothers and their wives met us at Mom's house in Watonga. Mom's house was filled with boxes and every flat surface was covered with a life time of Mom's belongings. Mom down-sized – moving to a 2 bedroom duplex in our town. About 7 years later she down-sized to a single room. Her last living area in our home had only one window, a hospital bed, a table that she cut down years ago to place her typewriter on, a file of her writings, a pink bookcase of treasured volumes, a small tv and one chest of drawers.

Physical down-sizing provides opportunities. It provides blessings and serendipities. It is freeing:
• It takes less time to care for things.
• It provides time to build spiritual strong holds.
• It creates time to pray for children, grandchildren and those who come     
• It gives time for reflection, count blessings and know who God is.

Just when time on earth is on a downward cycle, downsizing becomes a blessing. Then time can be spent on the eternal, kingdom matters. Seventy years ago, I watched my Grosmom Emilie Siemens rock her way to Heaven. She sat on the front porch of our brown house in Clinton, in the steel rocking chair and in time to the hymn she sang, she rocked. She moved from a small two bedroom home in Corn, Oklahoma, to one bedroom in our home in Clinton, Oklahoma. What was she thinking as she sang, Shall We Gather At the River, the Beautiful, the Beautiful River.... I knew she had immigrated to this country when she was 16 years old from Russia. Her life was difficult and austere in terms of comfort and possessions in her early married life. She raised four sons and one daughter. She lost her baby girl, Annaka, to meningitis at the age of 1 year and 3 months old. Did she grow weary caring for her husband when he became paralyzed and died at the age of 62? Who comforted Grosmom? What was she thinking when she looked into the Wear-ever kettles on the stove Mother used before dinner? Did she miss her home in Russia?

Mom told me about her mother (Anna Loewen Suderman) moving from her small house on the farm, to a larger house, and then a large home to care for her parents and then a small house in town. Her last move was to a single room. My Mom's mindset with her final move was the same as her Mother's – “I just pray I can be decent about it.”

My prayer is the same, so I walk into my kitchen and open The Drawer for a spoon and give thanks! There are no coincidences with God – everything is happening for His purposes – even when we are not aware of it. God is teaching me So I am thankful for my one-drawer kitchen. Some day I will move to one room. And the circle will be completed and I will praise Him.

Last Sunday, I heard these words....God's Got It!

God's got it! God's got it!
He 's got my life in His control.
I'm trusting Him
With my life and my soul.

God's got it! God's got it!
When the way is dark, let Him lead
In His Wisdom and His Word
In joy I will ever feed.

God's got it! God's Got It
Every day He knows the way
No matter the storms we endure
We'll see Him on That Day!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 


Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. C. S. Lewis

A Sears sale on coats coaxed me to once again print out a computer map and drive in Champaign. Meticulously I followed the directions. I must have taken a wrong turn. WHERE is that store? I watched the traffic and crossed from one parking lot to another, and glanced up ahead and saw a sign. It might as well have been a flashing neon sign that greeted me on a large wall of a building – SEARS! I laughed outloud. God is always surprising me. Why was I surprised that the answer of my quest would be before me?

I entered the store and found the advertised coat sale. After an hour's deliberation, I found a coat that will protect me from the Illinois winter elements – washable – water proofed – big pockets – a hood – and a color that is attractive. After paying for the 2 pairs of cozy socks and the coat and headed to the car. I wondered what other stores this mall held. I went around corners, not realizing that I was losing my inside head-compass. After more turning, I found an 'out'. I continued down the street, I saw a street name I recognized and immediately turned on it – the wrong way. Soon I came to another recognized name – and turned – the wrong way.

Soon the road became a high way. Where was I? Even glancing at the car's $2.00 compass did not provide a direction. Finally I realized that I was totally lost. This confession crushed my pride iof effortlessly finding my way around Champaign. (Pride goeth before a fall!)

I remembered in 1952, buying groceries in Eureka KS, for the first time as a bride. I couldn't remember which way to take to drive home to our farm. Finally, I swallowed my pride, and asked a passerby which way was north.

I remembered in 1968, I explored Collinsville IL. As I drove down the street, the Exit signs off the road beckoned to me. When I found myself speeding toward Vandalia, I realized a turn around was in my near future if I wanted to return to our new home.

The many computer-printed maps that littered the car did not rescue me. I felt compelled to keep driving. When I saw the exit sign to Peoria, I realized I would not be returning home in that direction. I saw a familiar street sign exit, and pulled off and parked to survey the scene. At that point I called my understanding daughter-in-law. She confirmed my direction and soon familiarity looked like home. Relief flooded my heart. Uneasiness and despair exited my being as if there was a sign.

Once, long ago, Mom told me of being lost on a dirt road in Western Oklahoma. We three small children sat wide-eyed in the back seat of the old Ford, not knowing she was lost, as she traversed the back roads of Oklahoma. Somehow – being Mom, she because un-lost.

Did Mom experience that sinking feeling? Did she feel helpless? No! We didn't realize at that age the independence and perseverance (Some would say – 'stubborness'). Later I saw this family picture of Mom when she was a little girl – a portrait of, “git'er done!”. The little blonde girl, with her hands on her knees is ready for anything.  Mom identified closely with the children's story she offen told us - “The Little Red Hen.” The family book Mom wrote, “The Lines are Fallen”, reveals the source of her independence:

I seemingly inherited Mama's fierce independence. I must have been about nine when I trimmed my fingernails with a tiny scissors. The left hand was done. What about the right hand? I asked Mama, 'Could you trim my right hand fingernails, cause I'm left-handed?' Mama snatched that scissors in a wisk and snipped her own fingernails as she soundly chided, “Child, don't ever ask others to do for you what you can do for yourself. If you don't know how...then learn. Here's your scissors!” I learned and the lesson took.
Mama gave us life. She taught us never to lean on others when we could stand alone. Borrowers owe interest then kindness is extended; and, flowers shared always bloom best. Mama taught us to walk through each storm with head high.”

Jesus knew that we would feel lost here on this earth when dark deeds and dark thinking snuff out the light of goodness and truth. That feeling of lostness can be spiritual as well as physical. What can give us hope and set us on the road to home? Anna Lowoen Suderman had no formal training of strategies and techniques, yet she taught independence and the genesis of joy in every-day living on the flat wheat fields of Kansas to her children God blessed her with..

She taught hope, perseverance and independence and tied them up with glorious ribbons of joy and hope. She taught her children to look beyond the storms of life to the joy that is there. Mother captured Grandma Suderman's teaching in this poem: Behind The Storm.

When summer storms rolled by and sun-kissed drops
Displayed God's brilliant rainbow across a clean-washed sky.
Mama taught us joy.

Behind each summer storm we romped and splashed
In worn-out dresses through grassed-in puddles
Across the meadow greens.

All through our youth our ears were tuned to thunder
For joys behind the storm with rainbows overhead
When jeweled drops teased the sun.

Now that winter storms are here, we wear our worn-out garb
'Till tear-drops turn to joy within the rainbow circle
For joys behind the storm.

This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not
lost one of those you gave me.” John 18:9

But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Acts 27:33

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:5


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Generation Gap

Moving has its challenges. When your life is packed in boxes and you wonder which box, which box holds the red book? After a quick perusal of the remaining boxes in the garage, I gave up for today, to find that Red Book -A Mennonite Heritage: a Genealogy of the Suderman and Weins Families, 1800-1975 by Carolyn L. Zeisset. The memories of 78 years ago, are my perception. That is my caveat for today.

Continuing the saga of the 'settling in' process, I re-arranged the contents of Mom's buffet. Suddenly, near the back, I find the directions to the new Kenmore microwave Tim and Karen gave us. It was with excitement I opened the pages. What did the red button – TrueCook mean? Imagine my surprise to learn that it had a series of reasons to push that button. I read press the Clear Button. - Press the TrueCook-Plus button three times. 3. Enter your five digit U.S. Post Office zip code. Press the Start button.

I had visions of being a character in a spy movie. The innocent microwave that sits in white splendor on Mom's Buffet contains a connection to people with devious motives. Why would I enter my zip code. Would everything I boiled/cooked/heated become a record in some far away cyber-collection? Too late. With my affinity for curiosity and button pushing – I was connected. But why?

I read the fine print. Now that you have entered your zip code, the TrueCookPlus will automatically adjust for your elevation above sea level. I burst out laughing. When I read further, I found that there are 'codes' on the frozen foods to 'punch' in to correctly cook the contents of the package. No more guessing. No more creative impulsive microwave cooking or burning.

As I marveled at the advances of cooking, I remember my Grandma Suderman. I must have been 4 or 5 years old (78 years ago) as I stood in Grandma's kitchen and watched. Her silver-hued hair curled around her slightly flushed face as she put several more pieces of kindling into the wood stove. The flames tried to escape as she closed the door. Grandma moved kettles and skillets on the four circular iron plates. Once in a while, she removed an iron plate to check the fire below. She lifted it with a heavy iron tool that fit into the grooves of the plate.

She warned me not to get too close – for the stove was hot. Once in awhile, she needed water, and it gushed from the red pump in the bathroom. At the sink Grandma peeled potatoes and let the peelings fall into the 'disposal', the bucket below the open pipe under the sink. Grandma didn't have a TrueCook-Plus button to push. Or any buttons at all, and yet her Zwieback (tvaybach – two story rolls), loaves of bread, pancakes, pumpkin pie for Sunday breakfast, or anything else that came from her kitchen was perfection. She grew her own vegetable garden, raised hens for eggs, and there were cows for milk. She canned the produce from the garden and cooked for harvesters during the hot summer. There was no air conditioning, no frozen foods or ice cubes were readily accessible.

I look at the appliances in my new kitchen and marvel at the passage of time. The freezer of the refrigerator holds frozen foods, I have no garden, but purchase garden produce from the store. Instead of a kerosene lamp on the table, we flick a light switch for illumination. The dish washer does a superb job without the 'togetherness' that dish-washing often encourages.

But Grandma and I have one commonality that has not changed. Faith in God. Grandma (Anna Loewen Suderman) lived by faith. She was tested by the loss of several of her children...Gerhard, Daniel, Paul and Hilda and the crippling of Grandpa's hand from a saw. Yet, Grandma's faith continued ever more strong. She spent 16 years alone after Grandpa Suderman died. She visited us several times and each time, her love and her face spoke of her deep faith in God. Her presence spoke of her faith-life and encouraged me.

Whenever life becomes difficult, when I am tested, whenever I wonder if what I do matters, I remember Grandma Suderman. And I know that I belong to God. No matter how many 'time-saving' inventions or communication devices that appear, our lives have one commonality through the ages and through the generation of those to come. How do we answer the question that we each must answer. Our decision about God and living our belief in sync with that decision.

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever;
from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 79:13

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. Joel 1:3

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:90

• The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD. Psalm 146:10

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cookie Jar Praise!

This morning, as I pad through the kitchen in stocking feet, look outside at the oversized thermometer, and begin preparing my breakfast, I think of my blessings:

The deck is still wet from the early morning rain complete with glorious thunder.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Psalm 147:7-9
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7
My dear husband is still sleeping after his face-book-remembered 87th birthday and talks with our children via various technology choices.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

The Aya Pei (Mom's custard pie) baked for Ed's birthday was delicious – baked in the pie plate that still has 'Siemens' written on the bottom. I think about the blessings of childhood with Anna Daisy as Mom.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. Psalm 103:17-18

The comfort of this new home is beyond expectations – our children chose wisely.
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:76

My dear husband is enjoying 'the walk' to the pond in our back yard.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 118:8-9

Worship with our new church family fills our hearts with thanksgiving and joy.
Worship the
Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:9

And then I note, “The cookie jar is full.” And I smile. My 'cookie jar of life' is running over with goodness and joy.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the
Lord forever. Psalm 23:5b-6
There are many more blessings that I count, one by one.  But it is enough to remember these few with love and adoration of our God and Father.  For in doing so, I find peace and comfort and joy!  I know that our Lord is faithful.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

From Anna Daisy Siemens' article, Bloom Where You Are Planted, I find a poem of thanksgiving. In this article Mother uses an example of old fashioned flowers wishing to be transplanted to a fashionable garden of beauty. When Ed and I walked to the pond Sunday, we saw in the greenness of grass, one lonely dandelion, blooming where it was planted. Its beauty was noted by the rain clouds, various birds, but few others could appreciate its brilliant beauty. Yet, this only dandelion bloomed where it was planted.

Now we have been transplanted to another area of God's Garden. How will we serve where we are? First, we give our praise and thankfulness to our Father in Heaven. And His Will will be done.

And I ponder this poem Mother wrote long ago:
So taste the joys of every minute,
Sip each drop of honey in it;
Add some spice – a lemon sour
Does not last beyond the hour.
Linger then, and slowly savor
Every true delightful flavor.
On our past we've drawn the curtain,
All tomorrows are uncertain;
But this moment, sweet obsession,
This I hold in my possession.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

'Settling In'

It has been three weeks since we moved to a different state, a different town, a different house and a different church family. It has been.... different. We have had many inquiries as to whether we are 'settled in' or not.

I look at the pile of boxes in the double garage and shake my head, no. I view my meager supply of books on the bookshelf, and the boxes of books yet to be unpacked. I enjoy the twenty-two family pictures in the living/dining room and remember the stack of pictures in the garage and in my bedroom, yet to be hung. As I drive around with an Arkansas car tag, I know that I must 'settle in' with the legal aspects of the move.

It is a process, not an overnight happening. An unmarked trail with many side-trails that beckon. This morning, I realized that the settling in may be near – for I went to the cabinet for the jar of instant coffee (sorry, coffee aficionados) and it was there. 'Settling in' means no surprises of location – it means that the ability to find items becomes a matter of habit, not a frantic 'is-it-there-or-not' search.

Settled in' means being able to accomplish the necessary, leaving time for 'want to do's'. Writing, thinking, reading, painting, communicating with grandchildren – that to me is 'settled in'. Now everywhere I look, I see things that must be done and that niggling feeling that I must do them.

As I considered this state of being settled in, I decided I needed to create an evaluation tool that will assure that I can say without qualification that I am settled in:

I am settled in when:
• I can find my way to Walmart and other places of businesses.
   Looking for familiar streets, I have ventured further and further from      
    home – to Library, the Windsor Roads Christian Church. Target, Lowe's,  
    Culver's (ice cream). Made several turn arounds, but making it.
• I have a church home in which I am 'at home'.
     Preaching, friendly people, great music, yes, I have 'settled in'.
• The things I treasure the most have a place in different rooms.
     The piano, the computer, clothes, microwave, the beds, pictures and
     Mom's file of writing.
• I feel able to rest at appropriate times without the urge to 'do something else'.
    It is easier to write a blog and think about 'Rome was not built in a day'.
• I am able to make vanilla wafer pudding or bake cookies in the kitchen  
  with a minimum of effort.
    The cookies were a challenge – hunting for the cookie sheets, the   
    brown sugar container, slipped and brown sugar scattered like rain over  
    the kitchen floor. Then there is learning how to bake in the new oven.  
    How many buttons can there be?
• To use the various new appliances, take a shower without ill effects.
     Learning secrets of the microwave, the kitchen stove, the washer/dryer, 
     and just where is the comfort zone of the water in the shower.
• To know which closet houses what.
     Ed thinks I put pantry, coat, linen on the closet doors for him. Helps me, 
• To find the light switches and the thermostat.
      Which switches go to which lights or is it the ceiling fan??? And how 
       accurate is the thermostat? Does 74 really mean 74...not when it is 77 
       outside! Oh!
• The pile of boxes in the garage don't haunt me.
       At Christmas time, I can open several more boxes. Those cryptic 
       messages on the boxes mean little to me now. It will be a secret 
       surprise! And those are the best.
• The way to the mail box seems easier. I put a flower on the flag so I can    
       tell from the house when the mail comes.
• I am ready to 'enlarge my territory'.
      Going this week on Thursday, to my first Bible Study here....and 
      learning to drive to a new place. Looking forward to the fellowship over   
      the Word of God...

As I look at this list, I am blest, for I am now 'settled in'. And I remember my visit to the Tabor College (Hillsboro KS) museum, listening to the speaker explain that the heavy wooden box was the size of belongings to be moved when our ancestors came from the Ukraine in the latter 1800's. These loved ones' focus was different than ours in getting settled. For they expended their energy in a long travel time, they did not have much in worldly goods, but basic survival on a farm goods. They didn't need a closet. They did not need storage space in the kitchen for various dishes and appliances. Settling in for them was building a shelter, plowing and planting a crop. Settling in was an elongated time span to care for large families. What gave them the strength they needed to persevere and continue on?

Their faith in God, their willingness to bear all in order to have the opportunity to worship God in a new land. Settling in meant learning a new language and new ways from neighbors. But the constant for them was their faith.

"if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel." -Colossians 1:23a.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13