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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last Words

In the lushness of Spring, I walked in the early morning, reveling in the chorus of song birds. It was only a few months ago when winter's cold hand closed the last rose of summer. This morning I counted three buds, ready to burst forth. Seasons come and go. And we long do I have to walk this earth.

Some view death as a finality, an ending. A taboo subject. Something to be avoided at all cost. Mom viewed death as a welcome escape from pain and suffering and searched for an 'exit lane' to Heaven. When her last Christmas came, she said, Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could go Home to Heaven at Christmas Time?”

Fourteen years ago God called my mother home. Anna Daisy would have been 105 years old now. She left a file cabinet of her writing behind. A file of her words. Just last week on my computer, I found a document called “Last Words About Death”, written in 1993/1994 when Mom was 86 years old. Curious, I printed out the document and read it all. I want to share parts with you, as she shared then with her dear Secret Sister who continues to be my friend.

On January 1, 1994, Mother wrote, Every year should begin with prayer and I have a thousand reasons to thank my Father this morning. So it is good to bring my Thank You’s to Him. Since I cannot sing too well at 86, I shall write a review of Psalms 147 as my song of praise.

My Wonderful Father in Heaven, I marvel that you have time to watch over me, to guide my days, and to comfort me when heartaches come. I know how busy you are!

The inability to draw a deep breath in her 'exit lane' illness created discomfort for the slightest physical exertion. It became impossible to pray aloud because of the 'brick' she felt in her lungs. Yet she praised God that her 'exit lane' did not consist of an accident, cancer or other painful 'exits' from this life.

To continue...You must laugh at powerful planes, at straining athletes or large bank accounts. What truly gives you pleasure? A child-like faith in One who tries to please and delight you – like an obedient child pleases a parent and more. We sit in our warm homes to watch white snow create marvelous scenes on summer-burnt gardens. You can change our lives like that – from chaos to beauty.

We have seen your fury in ice-storms that cause havoc. We have lived through tornadic winds. But we also experience the rebirth of beauty each spring. How great and wonderful you are!

You gave your promises to Abraham and Isaac and repeated them to Jacob. They came true. Now all who believe in “David’s Son’ have become children of Abraham. We are that blessed seed. Listen to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15 - “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

My Wonderful Father in Heaven, I marvel that you have time to watch over me, to guide my days, and to comfort me when heartaches come. I know how busy you are! Not only are you busy with human beings and their problems but you look at your created universe to count and name each star – to set each twinkling light into its place. That is awesome.

You heal all human hurts and bandage broken relationships to give us spiritual families in Jesus. Not only are you busy with human beings and their problems but you look at your created universe to count and name each star – to set each twinkling light into its place. That is awesome.

Not even the wisest scientist can do that. And so many so-called experts try to refute your wisdom and power. We know your strength, insight and wisdom are without limit. You alone have power to light up weak and lowly people to places of honor and worth. and you alone can take care of drug lords or wicked rulers in your time.

We know your strength, insight and wisdom are without limit. You alone have power to light up weak and lowly people to places of honor and worth.

Mother, always determined, remembered that her role was to minister and serve to the end, in Jesus' Name. Always her words were of praise to God and asking for forgiveness. And acceptance of her pain.

Two thousand years ago, during the suffering Jesus endured in the mock trials, the scourging, the pain of the nails in his hands and feet, the six inch thorned crown he wore, sthe torture of each breath, His constant words were: Forgive them for they know not what they do.

Last prayers and last words are remembered. The childhood rhyme of 'sticks and stones' is a myth. Words mean much and they show our heart. Frustration and anger causes feelings to be expressed in words that are the antithesis to prayerful praise and patience.

And Father, just for me, I am so tired of living on this earth. You made it all so beautiful, but Father, my tent is torn and leaky. Polish me quickly so I’ll be ready for home. I’m weary of pain, weakness and a body that does not function properly. Forgive give me for weeping on your shoulder when I should be praising you.

Thank you for all your angel-help through 87 years. (Four years before her death) My mate, who is waiting – for my three children and their children and their 29 children. Poppa and I used to pray together that we wanted all of them to be Your children. I still want all of them there with all your available help….all this I and more I pray in Jesus’ Name.

Thank you, Mother, for your 'last words'. My prayer is this: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Time to Be!

I can hear Mom's voice from the past, “Suzy, it's time to set the table....It's time to practice the piano....It's time to wash your dishes....It's time to clean your room....It's time to go to school....And I would say under my breath...”They are your dishes, not mine!”

Then suddenly it was time to say goodbye to Mom. I still miss her, think about her, and she is in my heart. How can that be? Her spirit never dies, but leaves me thinking, 'It is time to be who I am'.

I heard the phrase, What a Time to be me...” Indeed. What a time to be. Somehow, I have learned that the more I praise God and give Him thanks, the more I revel in the faith that allows me to be me!

When I give thanks for our family – all 30 members. I celebrate the blessings and say, What a Time to Be Me. When I pray with my sisters in Christ, I say, What a Time to Be Me. When I walk under blue skies, I whisper, What a Time to Be Me.

It is not ego-ness, but the giving of praise for happiness for my children and grandchildren. It is with wonder at enjoying the birth and life of each great-grandchild.

And I wonder, if God seeing His First Sunset, thought, What a Time to Be Me? Can you imagine the joy in seeing each child whom He knit together appear? Can you ever imagine the depth of hurt when His creation is hurt, maimed or even aborted in the name of convenience? What a Time to Be Me has a different tone when His creation is misused.

One of the needs we have, after the basic needs, is to be needed, to help others, to share. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 Why? Because, as you praise God for being able to help, you think, What a time to be me!

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position or such a time as this. Esther 4:14b Did Esther ask, “Why me?” Did she moan and groan because of the threats of Haman against her people? Did she approach the King and criticize him for his decree to wipe out the Jewish people?

Like Daniel, who faced death if he couldn't give King Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation to his dream. He first shared with his friends, asked them to pray, and in a dream he received the answer to the interpretation of the dream. He trusted God. He recognized God's leading. He didn't say, it must have been something I ate or dismissed the answer. Then he acted on the answer. Not the next year, or make a study of the situation following the latest problem solving mode. Immediately he acted. Afterwards he praised God. He continued in the King's Palace – 'What a Time to Be!”

When I was about ten years old, my teacher said something that I have often thought about. “Now the way you are is what you will be like when you grow up.” I was not happy with the way of 'being me'. I knew I would have to change, and yet, it was so easy going back to being the me, I had always been. Another pivotal moment – December 31st – in 1946. I wanted to go party and 'bring in the New Year' with friends. I asked her if she was going to stay up. She said yes. “But what are you going to do?” Her answer seemed odd at the time, but the more I think of it, the more I understand. She would watch and pray and read the Bible. Mother was a combination Mary and Martha, choosing 'the better part' of being with Jesus, after the house was clean, and the bread was baked.

A verse that has always intrigued me is found in Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

What a Glorious Time to Be Me!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's New?

Alright, who wrote their name on our brand new car?” Dad asked. That was in the 1930's and cars were difficult to purchase, even at the 'Thirty; Prices. The new shiny black car stood in our driveway. No reason for Dad to ask. Jim had just learned to write his name and the shiny black car was an empty slate. He scrawled JIM on it with a hard rubber ball.

New things were celebrated. My new dress made from the chicken feed sacks , a new pair of shoes, or summer wear – new overalls. I remember when Dad bought a cow. We all went outside to see this beautiful Jersey cow. We wanted a beautiful name because of her beautiful brown eyes. Her gift to us? Gallons and gallons of rich milk. Somehow we decided to name her Daisy after our Mom. I don't think she liked it, but at least we settled on her middle name...not the first...Anna.

The fruits of our garden were not exempt.. As we sat down to eat supper, we didn't know it was dinner then, Mom would exclaim about the new potatoes with the new onions and the new tomatoes and new lettuce for the salad. Then like a benediction, she would say, “And they all came from our own garden.”

What's new? Ask a Scientist, a Painter, a Writer, a Composer, an Astronomer or a Medical Research person, a Computer Technician, and Inventor. Or ask King Solomon. Solomon said, What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9.

We all look for new mountains to climb, new experiences and new excitement. Just ask the avid video game player who searches for apps.

The problem with 'new', like a car is that sooner or later the 'new' would sport a 'ding'. Who would be responsible for the new ding? I didn't own a car until I was married. I remember the beautiful blue DeSoto that Ed and I honeymooned to Galveston in. Then in 1994, the red Cavalier Station Wagon. In 2005, we bought a tan Malibu. The first week we had it, I backed up and grazed a pickup. I was horrified, the first 'ding'...singing Cha-Ching! Since we were both going slow, the damage was negligible.

The 'new' extended to new babies, new birthdays, new experiences, new learning. At my age, I watch for new aches and pains, but what intrigues me is the comparison of new-nesses.

When God created the heavens and the earth, did He delight in its newness?When a toddler learns to walk, to speak, when athletes break new records, when a new book lays on the table ready to be read, when Mom brings new freshly baked bread from the oven, the anticipation of sleeping on sheets that dried on the wash-line outside, a new notebook and a pen to write thoughts, all these speak of essence of newness.

Spring is my favorite month, for all the growth and greenness and flowers. Fall has its own beauty as do the other seasons, yet Spring fills me indescribable joy. Why?

When I was 8 years old, 74 years ago, I became a new creature in Christ. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! II Corinthians 5:17

What does that mean? A new creation, is there a danger of a 'ding' in a new creation? Can the 'new' in our lives be dented, bent, lose its luster or be lost?

Man continues to search for fulfillment and beauty in his life. Only in Christ Jesus can man find fulfillment and beauty. How I bless Grandpa Suderman for his statement that I heard in 1947 at the breakfast table in Watonga, Oklahoma. Grandpa read the scriptures tenderly. I have forgotten which scripture, but when he looked up from reading one verse, his blue eyes reflected wonder. He commented, “So many years I have read God's Word in German and in English, yet I have never read this before.”

Now as I read the scripture daily, I understand what he meant more than sixty years ago. My heart quickens as I read through Exodus and Leviticus, I say, “I have never seen that before.” It is new!

What's new? Seeing earth about me, everything has a new luster when I see an innocent babe's face, a new Spring bloom, the green of the grass, a new friend, the song of the birds in the hush of morning, the drop of dew on a rose, and I could go on forever naming God's gifts.

Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.Psalm 149:1

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:3

...and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:10

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24


Monday, March 05, 2012

I See "Home"!

It was a dark night and the four door black ford car chugged its way down Route 66 in Oklahoma. As we inched our way around the curves, up and down the hills, we three children nodded in the back seat. Our 'social director' Mom noticed we were quiet and slipped a bit of anticipation into our thoughts, “Kids, when we get to the top of the next hill, we will see Clinton. I wonder who will see it first!”

The edge of excitement was echoed by our 'transportation director' Dad. I looked over his shoulder and 'helped' him stare into the lights of the oncoming cars as we sped down the highway at 40 to 45 miles per hour. His strong hands gripped the steering wheel. We knew we were safe with our Dad.

Suddenly we crested that final hill and there in the dark night was a valley of lights welcoming us home. For a moment no one spoke, for we were speechless. I wondered how it looked from God on high, those little lights must seem so inconsequential to Him.

Fast forward 20 plus years, and we are in a station wagon – heading toward Watonga, Oklahoma. This time the speed increased to 65 to 70. Again a few mountains and turns before our destination and our four little children nodding in the back seat. My excitement grew, for we were going home for a visit to visit my parents. “Watch for the wheat grainery, kids. We will soon see Grandpa and Grandma. Who will be first to see the grainery!”

Dan, Paul, Tim and Anna peered through the windows with anticipation, watching for the wonderful small town where their Grandpa and Grandma lived. They knew they were loved unconditionally by these two people; they anticipated the joy of being with them and in their presence. The memories of hugs past and love, seeing their Grandparents remains vividly in their hearts to this day.

One summer, one of our sons came home, he sat down, stretching his long legs in the living room. I asked him why he liked coming home. He replied, “I never have to worry about having something to eat or a place to sleep. I can just relax and be home.”

Home. So many songs and poems have been written about home. It is a place that each of us longs for. It is a place that is more than a place. It is a condition of the heart. We have a way of knowing without even experiencing it, that the phrase, “being at home” spells peace, trust and love.

One of the songs I sang long ago tastes of home. Not only did Mother teach me this song, but the words came to mean more and more to me with her passing on to her Heavenly Home.

Goin' home, goin' home, I'm a goin' home
Quiet like, still some day, I'm just goin' home
It's not far, just close by, through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more
Mother's there, expecting me
Father's waiting too (father is waiting too)
Lots of folks gathered there (folks gathered there)
All the friends I knew
Goin' home, I'm jes' goin' home.

One morning, I sat in a car, waiting for time to pray with my two prayer partners. The sky stretched across my vision with beautiful clouds. I thought about Jesus ascending in clouds and he will come back the same way. (Acts 1:9-10) When He comes again He will keep his word in John 14:3-4 - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Suddenly the clouds parted and the most brilliant golden sunlight filled the car. In astonishment and delight, I whispered, “Jesus, have you come?” There was no fear, but joy. No concern, but pure love. A sense of home filled my heart.

Searching the Scriptures, I find that others have seen the glory of God.

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Acts 7:55

and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. Ezekiel 43:2

There are more word-pictures of home, but these two verses speak to me. Be filled with the Holy Spirit, look up to the heavens to see the glory of God. The imagery in Ezekiel paints a different picture with sound. The power of rushing waters, created by God. And imagine the most breathtaking sunset, and I will see God's glory and majesty.

I see Home! And I am not the first! I know the signs of Home as I travel this road of life. There is Truth, Love, Hope, Forgiveness in the hearts of men. Home is in the distance, but the brilliant sun-light of the Lord's people light the dark path.

Help me find nourishment along this road of life from the Living Water. Keep my feet shod with the shoes of faith. Hold my Hand, dear Lord, for You are my Home, Sweet Home