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Monday, May 28, 2012

Anna Daisy's Surprise

Papers, cards and letters rubber-banded together. That described my Saturday afternoon. The closet has one shelf that contained a box of living, although dusty, breathing life of my Mom, Anna Daisy.

Letters and cards from church families, friends, nephews, nieces, a sister, grandchildren, and children painted a feeling of nostalgia and memories. The box contained checks that dated back to the 1990's, written to a Christian College, missions, church, children and grandchildren. A testimony of generosity to a frugal and conservative life-style, learned in the early married life during the great depression. Tax papers, dated back to 1977, copied on slick paper of that era.

Then I spied a light brown coin bill fold. I opened it and there, looking up at me were Mom's blue eyes gazing back at me from her last driver's license, that would expire in 2004... she died in 1998, at the age of 91. Curious, I saw there were more cards below the driver's license. There were no credit cards. Mom believed in 'cash only' before the Dave Ramsay'x teaching.

I saw the Pioneer Telephone Coop Inc. for H. B. Siemens in Oklahoma, a temporary 10% Discount VIP Card for Super 8 Motel, a Friends of the Rogers Historical Museum that expired 08/31/97. A First National First Class Banking Card....then I stopped.

The last card was an Arkansas Resident Lifetime Fishing License, purchased for $10.50. The back of the card gave her height as 5'4” and her weight as 145 lb. Her eyes were blue. This was issued in Rogers, Arkansas.

I drew in my breath, and it caught on a sob as the memories flooded my mind. If the cards could tell the story of a life what would they say? What is left behind from a life that is not hidden. I wondered what I would leave behind and what would my family and friends remember of me?

I remembered Mom's story of going to the creek to fish in the central Kansas creek with her brothers and sisters. She told me that she almost drowned in the creek, standing on her tip toes, holding her chin up out of the water until help came.

How many Siemens picnics included fishing in the ponds in Oklahoma? My family enjoyed fishing, well, except for me.

I received merciless teasing, especially from Jim, about trying to catch turtle does when my fish hook caught a tree limb. After that, I always brought a good book to read, which eliminated the teasing and the constant chatter that “scared the fish away.”

When my children visited their grandparents, they introduced their love of fishing to our four children. When our four children were in elementary school, they took their fishing poles and hiked across the road to the shallow creek to fish on the 'Fort Dodge Road'. They enjoyed their time together, putting into action what their grandparents taught them about fishing.

Mom moved to Rogers when she was about 79 years old, to be near to family. As we prepare to do the same thing, ,moving to be near family, I realize the strength and faith of my Mother as she left her home of 48 years and moved here. She brought her favorite cane fishing pole with her and bought a fishing license. My dear husband took her fishing several times. I was thankful that they were kindred fishing spirits and that my teaching job demanded my attention.

After the reverie of memory, I came back to the present and Mom fishing in a small creek in Heaven? Does she dig for her own worms? Does she use her favorite kind of cane pole? What kind of fish is she catching. Then I wonder who Mom is fishing with? Is she fishing with Jonas, her brother and avid fisherman? Or is she fishing with my Dad, or with her son, Jim? Perhaps Peter, James and John are giving her pointers as to where a person can catch the most fish in Heaven.

Mom, I love you....and I miss you more than you know...or do you?

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

Colossians 1:2-3 - that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

2 Corinthians 13:11 - Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfected; be comforted; be of the same mind; live in peace: and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

I Thessalonians 4:17-18 - ...then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I'm Reading This Book....

I don't remember when I began reading. But I do remember being a part of the Blue Bird Reading Group. That is when I learned that enjoying to read could be a forbidden activity. That day, I was six or seven, the Blue Birds were called to the Reading Circle. I could see that it would take a long time for it to be my turn to read out loud. What to do? Never one to hesitate too long, I began reading. Soon the story (I think it was beyond See Dick run. See Jane run.) began to intrigue me. When I heard my name called to read I had no clue where I was to read. Needless to say the teacher was liberal in her admonishments.

When I was still young, I took Elocution Lessons. I didn't know then what it was called, I just knew that I was to emote as I learned the 'pieces'. Emphasize words, make my voice go up and down. Get dramatic. It wasn't until under the tutelage of my Dad that I learned the message behind any story that began “Once upon a time....”

Every Saturday evening, after our baths, we put on sleepers and raced to the living room, three blue eyed, blonde haired little ones, to sit on the floor while Dad practiced the Bible story he would tell his class of boys the next day in Sunday School. His voice inflections, the mobile expression on his face, the eyes grow large as he neared the climax of the story and his pace changed was my lesson in story telling. To this day, a phrase, a question, a scene can make me have a “Once upon a time...” moment and I remember Dad.

As time went on I found that reading held mysteries, delights and experiences that I vicariously enjoyed. On Saturday morning, Mother declared it is time to do our cleaning chores. I found myself dusting on my hands and knees (Mom said I had dirty elbows until I was 16) and thought about my book. I pushed the dust rag with one hand and my current book with the other hand – until I found myself in the hidden seclusion under my bed. I stopped pushing the dust rag. Soon I heard my Mom calling, “Are you reading, Susie”? So as to avoid telling a lie, I quickly slid my book under the mattress and answered. “No.” Moms are clairvoyant, so she hid all reading material at the beginning of the cleaning time on Saturdays after that.

When was a good time to read? When the house was quiet. The lights were out by 8:30 pm, and I would go to my closet, place my book on the convenient shelf, turn on the pull-switch light and read until my legs and eyes gave out.

Later Mom gave me permission to visit the Clinton Public Library. Oh, my. I knew what Heaven is like. Shelves and shelves of unread books, with bean bag chairs in different places. When I chose my book, I learned a review-tool that was fool proof. I was in my fairy tale reading then. I searched for a worn cover, flipped a few pages and noted the number of quotation marks. The more there were, the better the action and resulting conversation in the book. The dashing prince dashed on a white stallion and the helpless princess was always rescued. The ending of the story always ended with a happily ever after sunset.

When the Big Snow was dropped on Clinton, Oklahoma, Mother was ready. “Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.” I guess Mom didn't know that despite this Once Upon a Time...we knew Dad had to tunnel from the backdoor to the garage to feed the chicken and milk the cow? Did she know we knew that the front door was drifted shut? Somehow she thought that the longer she read, the better it would be – she read the whole book and was hoarse for a day or two. For weeks afterward we repeated the key phrase from Phronsie Pepper about the parrot, “Tan it sing?”

Many of the books I wrote shaped my thoughts and gave me options for life. The books I remember from years past are:

The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck – a book that helped me understand a different culture in the far east and the viciousness of evil of man toward man, no matter what color his skin is.

In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon – when I began to realize that the Bible is a way of life and not just a group of stories.

The Triumph of John and Betty Stam” by Mrs. Howard Taylor – read while I attended Midwest Christian College. It was then I began to consider trust and faith, and wondered how strong my faith in Jesus Christ is? This couple was assassinated by bandits in Northern China.

Readers' Digest Condensed Book - that contained a story about the Polish people scrabbling in the ground for a potato to make a meal from during the Nazi controlled territory during World War II. I read this story aloud to my 6th grade students. One little boy's response to the horror, “If that happened to me, I would get my gun and....” His bravado would have disappeared in this kind of situation.

After retirement from teaching in 1997, and learning about creativity, personalities, Options, problem solving through the techniques of Hats – Talents Unlimited – SCAMPER – True Colors – Multiple Intelligences, I was ready to read for 'fun'. I went to the public library and checked out the current 'best seller'. After four pages, I returned it to the library because of the foul language. Why clutter my mind with such useless vocabulary. I turned to the Rogers Christian Church Library. There I found books – romances/adventure/faith/other cultures/missionary biographies – and I read. I soon learned I couldn't read ALL the books in the library.

But a brief list of authors were these, that I remember, and there were more.

Joel Rosenberg wrote a series of fiction and nonfiction books that intrigued me. From Epicenter to The Last Jihad to Tehran Initiative to a series of five books. These books are the product of research of the present day news through the eyes of Daniel and Ezekiel prophecies. They gave me a way to look for God and his working in the daily news.

The Dogs May Bark: When the Caravan Moves” by Gertrude Morse. I met Russell Morse when I was eighteen and many of the stories Gertrude writes about Russell Morse told in the Christian Service Camp. Such exciting adventures in Tibet – I still have his youngest son's notebook of the Lisu alphabet that Laverne compiled to create a translation of the Bible.

The authors Bodie Thoene, Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt were authors I found. Then I found Mike Mason, who wrote, Champagne for the Soul, Practicing the Presence of People, and other books I have not read as yet. Mike Mason taught me about where to find joy when life storms threaten.

There are more books that have changed my life....during the ice storm of 2009 in the discomfort of power-less days, I read The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun. Reading that book gave me strength to endure.

Then in quick succession I read “Crazy Love” and “The Forgotten God” by Francis Chan; “Radical” and “Radical Together” by David Platt. These four books made me see to the core of my heart and how it has become changed by the culture of the American Dream. Accepting lies of plenty and comfort, rather than exercising Faith and Trust in God by letting God be God in my life.

Then the powerful book, “Through the Fire Without Burning” by Dumitru Dudeman changed my life. Reading it made me realize that my walk in Christ is weak indeed.

Where did this love of reading come from? My Grandmother Suderman papered her first house with old newspapers...and read them when the chores were done. Mother loved to read all kinds of books and self-published several. My favorite is “The Lines Are Fallen” by Anna Daisy Siemens, the story of the Suderman family. Psalm 16:6 - The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; Yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:17-18.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Tim, our third son, came to help us, his parents, organize for a move. As he surveyed the back porch, and saw things as far as the eye can see, mounds and mounds of things, that threatened to engulf us. Tim, with the advantage of height of 6' 4” saw over the top, and soon had a bird's eye view of the hoarding of 'things'.

He emptied shelves of a variety of containers – glass and plastic – that contained screws, nuts, bolts, nails of various sizes that were in hiding. The resulting trash pile outside the door grew. Soon we uncovered the west wall of the back porch that remained incognito for the past 20 years as 'things' multiplied.

The next step was to make a list of what furniture that we could take to our new, as yet unknown, abode. Downsizing is a word that doesn't begin to indicate the pain of loss of memories.

Years ago Mom made a wooden desk. I moved it to the back porch and looked at it carefully. I won't have room for it in the new location. There it stood, an old friend, begging for removal of old paint, still sturdy, and filled with memories. I kept my pet gold fish in a bowl on the desk. Every day I fed my gold fish and talked to him, or maybe it was a her. I sat on the heavy wooden white chair and chatted with my fish. One day I came home from school and sat down on the chair. It seemed to rock a bit. Then I looked in the fish bowl and saw that the bowl was empty. The tale of death became clear. My gold fish liked to leap into the air, as if he was on a watery trampoline. He must have leaped out of the small bowl too high. I looked on the floor, and there it lay, near the chair leg. I cried.

Tim moved the desk to the curb in front of our house in the late afternoon. I watched. It was there in the evening. I wondered if I should rescue my desk. About 9 am, I looked again. My childhood desk had disappeared. A sense of loss swept over me, until I realized someone else would be able to enjoy my childhood desk.

Sometimes 'things' remind us of memories in times past – good or bad. But when 'things' crowd out the room for living today, when more storage is needed for 'things' as possessions need more space, then we ask, why? What is it about man that they want to hold on to and add to their possessions?

I am reminded of the man who said - “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.” Luke 12:18

Verses 20-21 - “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Do 'things' symbolize riches and security for us? The rich man learned differently, for in this parable, his life was required of him immediately. Having plenty erases the need for trusting God. We forget that our riches are not earthly, but spiritual. Our security is spiritual and not the physical owning of the latest techno-gadgets, the latest in fashion or terrific appliances.

Acquiring 'things' is like an addiction as more is always required. Marketing appeals to this addiction and begins with cartoon-training of the very young. Our land-fills are overflowing with yesterday's dreams.

Proverbs 1:13, written by Solomon, a very rich man, reveals an insight into - We will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder.

When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, they cannot be focused on our circumstances. (Pray Like the King by David Butts) How true. Jesus teaches us to rejoice and give thanks always. No 'whiners' allowed! So when this season of life seems overwhelming, I turn my eyes to Jesus.

Just reading these verses gives me peace and joy.

Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah 12:5

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

One sleepless night, I read a stanza of a poem....Just when it becomes more than I can bear....Through the clouds, the Son-shine breaks through so fair....The water is too deep to swim...It is then I let go and I 'let Him'!

My prayer – Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Being at Home

The longing for home has inspired many a poem, songs, essays and quotes. Home has different many meanings to different people. The commonality is the foundational thinking of everyone – a longing for belonging. A place to be who we are with no pretense.

  • I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. Maya Angelo

  • Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Robert Frost

  • Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door. Charles Dickens.

Home is where I learned about life and that my 'best friends' were family - life- time friends. When I was a teen, after a phone conversation, my mother asked me a question...Why are you so nice to your friends instead of your family who will always be your closest friends?

The memories of being at home through the years have become more and more precious. Even the houses we lived in fill me with nostalgia, remembering the joys and heartaches – the housing of family living together.

Leaving home for college soon brought a longing for home. Leaving home as a bride filled me with joy. Youth creates a sense of adventure with each move to a new home. From home to Piedmont to Joplin to Howard to New Harmony to Minneola to Hinton to Dodge City to Collinsville to Rogers we moved. Along the way our four children – and their children - joined us, bringing us much joy.

We learned that it wasn't so much the house we lived in, we carried our home in our hearts – in each other. Ed and I grew older – who knew that we would soon carry the burden of 80 plus years when we began this journey. All too soon we did not want change and moving. We are content to stay within the walls of our home., the security of loving each other and serving our Lord.

When Mother moved to Rogers, she left her home after42 years. As she walked through her home in Watonga for the last time, the walls spoke to her of laughter, serving countless meals, friends, grandchildren's visits, sickness, tears, the death of her spouse, music, Bible Studies and all the things that makes a house a home. Off to a new adventure, leaving the known for the unknown. However, an adventure is less of an adventure when it becomes a necessity and not a choice.

I remember.....when the children were toddlers and unpacked the boxes as fast as I packed them (Minneola)...when I packed the white sugar and brown sugar in cream of wheat didn't taste right to our four children (New Harmony)...when the mystery of the items in Ed's basement work area had to sorted for the move (Ft Dodge Road house)...when the driveway was mud and the piano threatened to slide into oblivion (Howard)...when we left our teenaged son living in our empty house until it was sold (Collinsville).

Each time we moved, I chased away any remembrances of longing for our former home by baking a chocolate cake. When the aroma of chocolate filled our new home, I was at home. I purposed that this would now be our home.

Now we plan another move from a home of 33 years to move near one of our children. I walk from room to room and find so many memories. Things that remind me of our life here. And I wonder if I can part with so many precious memories en-capsuled in the things I can touch ad see.

Things? I sit in the chair that my mother sat in long ago, and can hear her voice. "These are just things, Susie."

Things! Suddenly the piles of paper that represent my life are not as important as the people we will leave behind. Precious children of God are our heart-possessions. These friendships, made in faith, continue on and will be renewed in that last move that we make when our spirits travel to Heaven.

John 14:1-3 has long been my favorite. Just quoting it brings peace. But have I quoted it so long that I have forgotten the message?

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me also. "There are many rooms in my Father's house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am.

Again I will 'put my hand to the plow and not look back'. I will bake a chocolate cake in our new home.

When I make that final move I wonder what aroma God will provide. I do know that Heaven will delight my eyes and my ears and my very being. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, I find that we have an aroma in Christ - Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Recently I read another portion of scripture: Ephesians 3:17-19 - that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now I understand that to know the love of Christ will bring me to Heaven through faith and trust in this life. We cannot fully comprehend the depth of the riches He has for us...but I know this. The love of Christ fills my heart beyond mere words. The ultimate at home-ness – is Being At Home in Heaven.

Long ago I learned the song: Goin' 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 Goin' home


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Search For Newness

While glancing at the newspaper, I saw movie reviews. Curious about what was playing – not to go – for movies have lost their appeal for me. I saw not one interested me. Suddenly the words of marketing become hollow. Novelty becomes less creative and more 'same old, same old'. I wondered... How can I recapture the excitement when I lived in wonder?

Newness is a prized quality in this world. When I remember all the 'new' things I have experienced – a new car, a new house, a new dress, a new gift, reading a new book, listening to a new song... All these things lose their newness in time. And I wonder what 'newness' does not lose its allure or fascination.

Will we become jaded and echo Solomon's words? What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

My little brother, Gene, will be eighty years old this June. When he was about three years old, he ran away from home. Mother talked about getting him new shoes for Easter, and as the day continued without this shopping trip, he decided to get them himself. After searching the neighborhood, Mother could not find him. That afternoon some neighbors drove up in their vintage Ford of the day, 1935, and brought Gene home. The neighbors found him on the highway south of Clinton. He steadfastly declared he left in search of 'new' Easter shoes. As my other brother, Jim, and I questioned him, he told us that he walked a long way and that a car ran over his thumb. We gazed at our brother in wonder and asked to see his thumb. He explained that he laid his thumb on the edge of the pavement and a car drove over it. His quest for the NEWNESS - Easter shoes provided his first adventure.

What things do not lose their newness for us? When each of our four children were born, their newness took on many different forms. Each one had an innocence and sweetness along with total trust in us, as parents – and this newness created such a deep life-long love that is ever new. New phases are a forever-flowing river of newness.

As our children began learning their 'firsts', we exclaimed about the newness of each step, each word, each moment with our children. When our children were grown, we welcomed each new grandchild. Even after twelve grandchildren, the newness did not wear off. And then the great grandchildren, seven of them – and each one brings the joy of new life. Newness. A cycle of newness that never grows old.

Spring becomes a time of wonder and joy. It is a season of newness. Each new leaf – each new blade of grass becomes a brilliant green newness. When the Spring rains come, each drop holds a rainbow, a prism of wonder and color. A rain drop becomes an emerald jewel as it rests upon a green leaf on its journey to earth.

How do we live in wonder and in deep joy that continues for a life time? Is there something we can learn from the seasons?

Suddenly our world shifts toward the eternal and think about the celebration of newness of truth, trust, love, honor, integrity traits in each person. And through that celebration comes the need for something beyond ourselves.

Praise and Thankfulness create a well-springs of joy. Is that why King David wrote so many praise Psalms?

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:3

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Psalm 61:6

A psalm. Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1

I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you Psalm 144:9

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

The verses of the Bible that intrigue me most deal with new vistas. No longer do I wish to travel far away lands, for this destination is by far worthy of a difficult journey in this world.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, "Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be."

He who was sitting on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down. You can trust these words. They are true." Revelation 21:2-5