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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sun, Wind and Rain

As the summer continues to be a heat trial for everyone and A/C expends itself, I remember the “Dirty Thirties” long ago. Dad hung the brown blanket over the windows and wet it down down with the hose. Then he turned on the large black electric fan, a-whirring on the blanket and a kind of coolness filled the room. The heat of August was stifling, the year is 1941, when I was 12 years old. Grosmom Emilie Siemens lay on the bed in a coma, sweat gathering on her forehead. Her time on earth was not long.

Temperatures soared into the 100's in Oklahoma again that year. Farmers had no knowledge of how to water crops via irrigation. The crops withered and died, burying all hope. Top soil blew for several years with wind from Oklahoma as far as Illinois.

And now again, we have soaring temperatures causing drouth conditions and our country's farmers pray for rain and hope. The one rain of July this year watered not only the earth but also my soul. I could hear the dying vegetation gulping down the saving rain. The hot weather soon returned and the sun scorched the earth. I contemplated the cycles of weather gone amuck and man's constant struggle between the search for God and rebellion to God. How can we find a comfortable happy medium way of life? The answer is in the capriciousness of how we face temptations in the moment. When things are too 'easy', we tend to forget to praise God and thank Him. Going to the scripture, the Word of God, I find:

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6

And in the midst of this thinking, God plants a miracle. My daughter-in-law sent a reference of faith and hope from 2 Kings 3:15-17. He then said, "God's word: Dig ditches all over this valley. Here's what will happen—you won't hear the wind, you won't see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you. You will ravage the country: Knock out its fortifications, level the key villages, clear-cut the orchards, clog the springs, and litter the cultivated fields with stones."

The words easy for God to do! Popped out at me. He would sell this house and we would be able to move closer to family to have help with my dear husband. A breath of fresh air flooded my soul, as fresh as a spring rain...

The next day, we had a buyer – and in 5 days the contract was signed. This is after we signed with the realtor 22 days earlier. God works with whirlwind speed in answer to prayer and waiting for Him.

How many times has God used His creations to shape lives to help us know His mighty power? The wind, the sun, the rain, storms and even the large fish who swallowed Jonah. How often do we stray from God in our search for more of this world and its 'wisdom'? When we have enough...praise God. When we have need...ask God. When we have more than we need...Give.

When we lived in Watonga on a thoroughfare, I sat on the front porch and wondered where all those cars were going as they passed our house. What were they searching for? How many minutes were spent in those man-made vehicles that carried them to and fro? What was their purpose? Then I thought how God must watch man scurrying about on his earth with no fore-thought.

Is this the way our lives are to be? There is more...much more. For God has a plan for our lives...where we are and what we will do, and always to the glory of God..

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

What a joy to live in His Will, knowing I am sinful, and yet He loves me enough to order my days. Yes, we will deeply miss those who have become so dear to us through these 38 years. And we find God's people in many places of this world and where they are, we are 'home'. When our hearts search for His righteousness and live with Him each moment of the day, we are 'home' with Him.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Yes, we will miss many folks when we move in September. But it is never good bye when we are in the Lord.

As we say in our small group of ladies for our benediction....And now, may the Lord watch between you and me while we are absent, one from the other...

Comments? (Painting from ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pay It Forward...

It was a hot day, as I drove to church this week. I looked at the gas gauge. Yes, I need to purchase gas. I pulled into the parking lot, and a car blocked my usual pump. Quickly I pulled to one pump I never use. I took the nozzle down and inserted it in the tank. I wondered why there was no choice to ‘pay inside’. I filled up the tank, and went inside to pay. There I was told that it was paid for. The young man asked if I had used my card. I replied negatively. Pay it forward, I thought.

A variety of feelings and thoughts filled my mind. I am special, I am loved, and then who? Why? I have never encountered or experienced a feeling like this. I remembered the young boy in the movie, “Pay It Forward”. I turned the phrase over in my mind and wondered if the ‘pay’ has to be just money.

Suddenly I thought of the ways that people lived that phrase, pay it forward.

My parents paid it forward by their patient teaching and discipline. Sometimes the discipline seemed harsh. I remember when we wanted new parents…and Dad and Mom drove us to another part of town, and asked us which place we wanted to live. We soon realized that Home was Home.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

I thought of those words as we watched our children work so hard to help us with our moving plans. They were paying it forward, and teaching their children to honor their parents, even as we learned from our parents.

In what ways can pay it forward be accomplished? What characteristics or traits are necessary to pay it forward? Unconditional love, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, sacrifice, concern about others, patience and kindness.

Pay it Forward is a ‘pouring out’ from the heart. It is a result of love that is compelling. There are so many ways to pour out one’s heart. How many people go beyond the paycheck and use their jobs and livelihoods to pay It forward? Doctors, policemen, teachers, nurses, ministers, care-givers and many more give that extra consideration, that encouragement that is paying it forward! It is a privilege and not a duty. ˆPaying it Forward” has its own kind of joy and blessing. Why is this? What happens to the heart when we pay it forward?

Have you ever given something precious away? What an investment in another’s life! What a feeling of peace and joy comes over us. When we consider the ‘it’ in pay IT forward, we see that this tiny two-letter pronoun has many meanings, enough to go around for all of us in many situations to create a rainbow of blessings.

The love that motivates ‘paying it forward’ has a compelling genesis. The one person who paid it forward gave His life on the cross – paying it forward for a debt He did not owe. Jesus was compelled by love for us, God’s children – precious in His sight - so that we might live for Him and with Him for an eternity.

Heaven is filled with “Pay it Forward” people who have learned through the example of Jesus to pour their lives out.

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

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (Apostle Paul) II Timothy 4:5-7

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17


Monday, July 16, 2012

Tidbits of Prayer

One of my granddaughters posted the following on Facebook the following on July 4th - Happy Birthday, Grandma Daisy. I'll see you on the other side of Heaven one day.

I hear a lot about legacies, and have been more aware of them recently, as I pack to move. If I left this earth today, what would be left behind? I never have to wonder what my Mother would think about anything. She left many words – typewritten on an electric typewriter and hand written behind – and there is no question of her faith in God during the four years of her last illness. Her last gift to me was showing me her faith, alive and growing, even in the midst of pain. That is her legacy.

I opened handwritten book adorned with two cherubs and wondered what it contained. It was inscribed, To my dear Secret Sister, with Love, December 11, 1993. Mother had a secret sister? I didn't realize, I guess it was a secret.

What did Mom write in this gift? Curious, I began to read....January 1, 1994.

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 to Him. Since I can not sing too well at 86, I shall write a review of Psalm 147 as my Song of Praise.

1 Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

4 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
6 The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. 8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; 11 the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

What did Mother see in this portion of Psalm 147? How did she summarize this David's Psalm?

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!

You did bring back your people from Babylon and Assyria. You settled them back in Jerusalem after they had learned that idols are worthless. But our Jerusalem is the church and you still bring people from sinful exiles into your Kingdom. You heal all human hearts 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 lift up meek and lonely people to places of honor and worth. And You alone can take care of drug lords or wicked rulers in your time.

The best weatherman can only predict the rains, wind currents or hurricanes. You have the final word! You fed the drouth to water the prairies. You sprout little brown seeds and watch them grow. You provide hay and corn for livestock and feed every wild bird and beast according to their need.

Do you must laugh at powerful planes, at striving athletes or large band 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.

As I read tidbits of Mother's prayers from so many years ago, and learned more about the thinking of my Mother. I knew that she spent many hours listening to God. I read in Jim Toombs' book, Seeing Behind The Masks an account of the interview of Mother Theresa by Dan Rather. He asked Mother Theresa about prayer:

What do you say to God when you pray,” he inquired.

“Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa. “I just listen.”

“What does God say to you?” he responded derisively.

“Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa, “He just listens.

Jim Toombs then commented....Mother Theresa and God had a relationship. They 'hung out together'. I stopped reading and re-read the sentence... astonished. I tasted the phrase – 'hung out' – the phrase that young folks use. I thought about all the times when I loved simply thinking about God knowing His Presence was with me. Did Mom do this, too? Were her written prayers a 'hanging out' with God?

Her last four years were filled with a 'brick' on her chest (pulmonary fibrosis). Yet she gave thanks. She praised God. She did not complain or whine. How did she do it?

In 1995, she wrote, “Abba, Father, May I lay my head upon your breast, like the worn out tent that I am with little strength left. Yet you give me so much in your Word. It warms, comforts and blesses me. It pours over me like perfume to give me a foretaste of Heaven. What others consider monotony, I consider His peace.

Lord, you make everything so beautiful, but Father, my tent is so bloody and leaky. Polish me quickly so I am ready for Home. Forgive me for weeping on your shoulder when I should be praising You. I'm weary of pain and a body that does not function properly.

My soul stands on tiptoe and I am ready for angels to come to take me home.I long for that day. Teach me to thank you with each breath I take.

In Jesus' Name,

Anna Daisy


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

God-Colored Souls

Creation is filled with color. I have long been in love with the hues of fall, the brilliance of spring, and the black and whiteness of winter and the golden hues of summer. When my friend quoted this verse from The Message to me, I was immediately intrigued. (Matthew 5:16)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (NIV)

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. (The Message)

An artist, Mary Alice Rhode, is enjoying the vibrant Heaven-colors. She once told me that any painting is always a combination of shadow and light. Our lives are the same – a combination of shadow and light. We see light as a substance that is infinite. Light is a never-ending link to life. Not the fragile man-made substitute for light, but God created light of the moon, the stars and the sun.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. I John 1:5

No matter how skilled, no matter the number of colors in his crayon box or palette of paints, an artist is unable to truly replicate the God-colors we see in creation. The verse from Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

When we choose to follow Jesus, our hearts become a palette for the Master Painter to create in us a heart of God-colors. We begin to reveal the God-colors in our actions, our thoughts, our attitudes for these contain the attributes of God.

God-colors are spirit-deep and communicated through the spirit. What physical color can one ascribe to love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control? (Galations 5:22-23)

Have we ever thought of the spirit-colors we emit? Are they the brilliant God-colors or simply shadows of what could be? Spirit-colors are not the skin colors that tend to divide, but spirit-colors that draw hearts together. A rainbow-aura of color that draws other hearts to our Creator.

This past week I saw God-colors all around me in action. The basic God-color is love. Our two sons and their wives spent three eleven and twelve hour days helping us prepare to move. The laughter and joy of family permeated the air about us. Although my body ached from unaccustomed activity, my heart was filled with peace that comes from the Lord. The sweetness of sacrifice of time and effort of our family extends to our church family as they responded to a need to haul trash away.

I thought about the different names for God. And each attribute gives a song of praise, bathed in a God-color of compassion, forgiveness and mercy.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. Psalm 47:6

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. Psalm 18:32

But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” Psalm 31:14

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10

Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. Psalm 48:10

What is the God-color of peace?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Don't Have to Pack to Go To Heaven!

Moving? I looked at our home filled with memories and mementos. The memories I can pack into my mind, but the mementos cluttered every space, making me feel secure. Maybe if we hadn't lived here for 33 years, it would be easier? Pictures of 60 years of marriage filled more than several boxes. Then there are the 'pretties'.

I looked at the little blue baby shoe vase that I received as a girl, the beautiful, but chipped, glasses that belonged to Grosmom Siemens, a hand-carved/decorated wooden knife from a boy when I was 13. A letter from a missionary in 1947. Gifts from my friends in China. How can I part with these heart-mementos? Sixty years of anniversary cards given to me by my dear husband – each one declaring his love anew!

As I began packing – the mountain of boxes grew. Where would we store all the boxes? We finally rented a storage unit to move things where things can be stored. I soon become proficient at taping boxes together, filling them and taping them closed with the help from our Anna for a week.

One day as the sound of ripping tear of tape filled the air, I stopped short. Yes, I was achieving my goal of 'packing up', but then I will have to UN-pack every box of hidden treasures. Groaning inwardly, I again began 'packing' my life away. Hand-written notes from my Aunt Irene, my Grandmother, my Mom and children became priceless treasures...more precious than the odd pieces of furniture that are in the six rooms. I surveyed Mom and Dad's bed of long ago, a brown poster bed, that I have slept in for the past 35 years. When the buttons on the mattress, yes, it is that old, and 2 layers of foam didn't help, I went to 4 inch topper. Immediate success!

In 1935, Dad and Mom moved across town from the 'little' house to the 'brown' house on 14th Street in Clinton, Oklahoma. My memories of that day include that lost feeling of being in a new school, and then trying to find my way home at noon for lunch. Tears were shed that day. We transitioned from a three room house to a five room house. My little brother Gene scampered through the down the long hall in a frantic search for the bathroom. In that long hall-way, with many doors, was our Toy Drawer and the little door through which we threw our laundry to be washed. It fell into a laundry bag. When the bag was emptied and Mom washed the clothes in the full basement – Gene and Jim played 'God'. One knelt at the foot of the unzipped laundry bag and prayed for a toy. The other went to the Toy Drawer and 'answer' the prayer, dropped from 'Heaven' for that particular toy.

We moved again when Dad's rural mail carrier job came throughto a town in the same state, Watonga. I don't remember the packing, as we three were in school. I do remember the feeling when we went back to Clinton to visit. The dynamics had changed. I understood the phrase, 'Life must go on.” We told our parents we didn't need to go back to visit.

In our 60 years together, my dear husband and I moved 7 times. I learned to pack with helpful toddlers unpacking behind me. We were young and we adjusted quickly to each new environment. We never looked back after a move, but looked forward to new adventures and new friends – from Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri to Arkansas. This time we leave our church family of half a life time and sweet memories.

I sit here in Mom's chair, a chair that has worn its stuffing thin, and remembering George Carlin's monologue on A Place for My Stuff! I laughed at the time, but as our 'stuff' begins to accumulate in the storage area and given away (don't like garage sales). I laugh again. Our family and friends hae rallied around helping with the packing and planning. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving.

After days with the tearing sound of clear tape and putting boxes together, wondering if those items are gone forever...I suddenly thought about Heaven and the phrase, you can't take it with you!

Then I realized, you don't box things and tape them shut to go to Heaven. Instead I pack my heart with love, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, worship, praise, integrity and truth. And most of all – a relationship prayer and serving are packed into my heart.

I don't have to wonder who gets what when leaving, for Heaven has nothing to do with things in this world, but the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit. No boxes needed, just fill my heart and my mind up with the Lord Jesus

Thank you, dear Lord, for this joy of making this earthly move into an understanding of the eventual spiritual move. Help me to pack my heart with Prayer and Love for those who surround me here, for I know unpacking my heart in Heaven will just be glory for me! There won't be Facebook in Heaven, for I will be Face to Face with Jesus.

When I read the words of Jesus, I go to prepare a place for you, I am filled with utter excitement and anticipation. For I know that I will have everything I need, and I can bask in his love.

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. Psalm 146:2

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

...and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? John 11:26

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11