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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wonder of Memory!

Where do memories hide? The question, unbidden, raced across my mind. Where, indeed? And does memory need to hide? A memory comes from an experience that etches itself on the mind. A memory is necessary to create a habit in a thousand ways. After some time an unused memory becomes a shadow of its self.

A remembered experience can be pleasurable or one of pain. The painful memory hides in the recesses of the heart and remembered once again pierces with forgotten pain. The human tends to forget some happenings. Then suddenly – the five senses provide the catalyst to freshen the memory, the wonder of memory.

What are the five senses that renew and bring back the shadows of memories – taste, sight, hearing, touch or texture.


  • Recently I found peppermint ice cream at Braum's for our grown children... 4th of July – homemade ice cream to celebrate Grandma Daisy's birthday.
  • Sitting on the back porch with Mom and she asks, “What would you like to eat? I answered: “Rollkocka and watermelon, reminding me of Grosmom Emilie Siemens.
  • The crunch of fresh peas in Dad's garden in the hot Oklahoma sun.


  • Every little baby I see reminds me of our four children when they were small.
  • The blue sky reminds me of Mom's eyes that could see to the inside of me.
  • Every sunset reminds me of nephew Matt at 12 years, comforting me with the words, “Don't worry - Grandpa Siemens is in God's Pocket” - when my Dad died.
  • Old faded pictures of faces from long ago bring comfort and joy in remembering what was.


  • The notes on a piano remind me of Mother playing at dusk as we three 'tow heads' drifted off to sleep.
  • Hearing a phrase from the past -- Dad's “up and at 'em” or Mom's “time to do your dishes”, and I remember...
  • The sound of rain and thunder or a bird's song – and I remember God's goodness.


  • The delight of touching different fabrics and remembering the many dresses Mom lovingly made for me as I grew up..
  • The touch of a new born babe and remembering each of our grandchildren – each a miracle as they arrived, one by one.
  • The soft petals of the yellow rose reminds me of the roses Dad loved so much in his garden.
  • Another comforting hug from 'my love' is as new as it was more than 60 years ago, and I remember the constant love.

My earliest memory was the 'little house' of three rooms. The middle room was the bedroom and contained a full bed. As my brothers and I grew and no longer needed a crib, Dad built a trundle bed that slid below our parent's bed. The trundle bed was pulled out for naps and at night. I can still hear the wheels on the wooden floor.

My sweetest memory is standing in the kitchen of our Grosmom Emilie Siemens as she pulled open the metal drawer of the cupboard and handed each of us a molasses cookie. Grosmom's brown eyes twinkled and it seemed to me that a halo sat atop her black straight hair pulled back from her face in a knot.

The memory that was sad and edged with happiness was when we lost one of our twin baby boys at birth. That was a difficult time. And now when I remember Donny, I know that I will see him in Heaven. The comfort I received was in knowing I kept Danny. I praised God for being allowed to keep one child.

We all have heartache memories and red rose memories. One Red Rose memory recently was an invitation to lunch with three dear ladies that I worked with at school. We reminisced about the time we spent together recalling memories I had forgotten. Just like a family who gathers and the phrase, “Do you remember when....” fills the air. We all have full lives now and yet, there is a bond of memory, God-given memories.

Why did God create us to remember the memories of long ago? Through the memories we are taught. We learn to forgive and we learn gentleness with one another. Even through laughter and tears, memories give us strength.otten. Just like a family who gathers and the phrase, “Do you remember when....” fills the air. We all have full lives now and yet, there is a bond of memory.

We say with the Apostle Paul – I thank my God every time I remember you.... Philippians 1:3.

God gave us so many ways to remember Him. This is why God gave us the ability to remember. To remember Him....I can hear my Mother quote Ecclesiastes 12:1 – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them...

Why is it important to remember God, the Giver of life, the Creator of the Universe and the One who holds the world in His Hands?

What if He forgot me? What if He forgot you? What if He forgot us, as we forget Him? This verse reads...

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good. Psalm 25:7

Dear Lord, I remember your precious love for all your children including me. Please remember me as I come to the end of my life. Forgive me for the times the things of the world came before you. Help me to remember the blessings you have given me and help me to praise You in all things. Thank you for the wonder of memory and help me to remember You above all. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Monday, August 20, 2012


There are many quotes that have become cliches about point of view, walking in someone else's shoes or the bird's eye view. How difficult it is to see that the grass is not really more green on the other side of the fence, as you stand on rock-covered weeds.

Our son and daughter-in-law are choosing a house for us to move into in Champaign. They are trying to 'walk in our shoes' and determine what we would like and where we would fit. Meanwhile we are determining all those odds and ends of moving more than 500 miles away from our new home that must be done.

Last night I found a Moving Checklist. Ah-ha, just follow the list and I should be fine. Then the count down will begin. I checked the calendar and saw the '8 weeks before move' had passed...not too bad, only one applied and I completed that.

'7 Weeks Before Moving' is partially done. I see that I don't have children to move, it won't be too bad. Some of the items on the checklist are a mystery to me...but I am sure if I ask someone I will be enlightened. This is our 13th move during our 60 years of marriage – both long distances and short distances. It should be easy, but we are out of practice.

Life is a series of moves and changes – each with their unique challenges. But in America those challenges are not as difficult to survive as in other cultures and countries or times. There are moments of incredulous thanksgiving and praise between the questions that come with being in a new place with new people.

While reading from Isaiah 40, I was caught by these words...Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. I read to the end of the chapter and found comfort knowing God cares about each of us. As my daughter wrote in, My dreams were filled with trying to fulfill my family’s needs. And they ended with my daughter making breakfast this morning. As I gradually woke and felt my dreams slipping away, I heard – “I have loved you with an everlasting love”. (Jeremiah 31:3) God's love is not off and on, but constant.

Returning to Isaiah 40:22 – 31 - God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing. They hardly get started, barely taking root, Then he blows on them and they wither.The wind carries them off like chaff.

To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.
O Jacob, how can you say the
LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood?
LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the
LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

As I read these words, I praised God for His Goodness. In the midst of my scurry and worry, I realized that God has not lost a star and He won't lose me. No matter how insignificant my life seems to me, I will trust in the LORD and find new strength...and soar high on wings like eagles. I will run and not grow weary. I will walk and not faint. It is all about 'perspective'.

This is the secret that gave Dad and Mom strength – they trusted in God. When food was scarce, when the work was long, when the tornado hit the house, when my brothers were serving their country in far countries, when Dad had his heart attack, when Mom moved here after 48 years in one house and one life, when they spent Christmas without their children...they trusted God. The perspective is that praising God and knowing that this world is in His Hands is 'strength-thinking. Examples are all around us of those who trust The Lord.

I remember a sweet lady in our Bible Study telling us about her praise one day....she sat on her porch early one spring morning, sipping hot coffee and smelling fragrant honeysuckle blossoms. Thanks, Phyllis, for sharing your 'perspective' and inspiring this poem.

It's a Honeysuckle Day When....

...The sun shines and breezes rise 
...The clouds play peek-a-boo in the skies
 ...I give God all the praise ...For each gift in all my days.  
It's a Honeysuckle Day when... 
...My family is all around ...And God's joy abounds. 
...I sit as quiet as can be ...And all His glory I see.  
It's a Honeysuckle Day when... 
...I pray to my Father above ...So thankful for His sacrificial love.
 ...I know without a doubt ...What life is all about.  
It's living for Jesus Serving Him, with Him I stay 
Though darkness clouds my way, I give praise for my Honeysuckle Days. 
Emily Combs, May 2012


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

No Goodbyes In Heaven...

I have a memory-picture of that forlorn young girl waving to her beloved grandparents as they stood at the door of their farmhouse in Kansas. I wondered what she thought in that year of 1939 while saying goodbye. Did she understand the depth of the pathos of a good bye? Probably not. To her it was an exercise at the end of a time of rejoicing in being with her grandparents on the farm and looking forward to the next time.

Fast forward a life time, and the girl grew into a woman who had grown familiar with the pang and the-lump-in-the-throat of goodbyes. The girl, at twelve, heard the screams of her Grosmom Siemens as she drew her last breath. At sixteen, she bid her best friend goodbye and all she had known when the family moved to another town. At eighteen this girl went to college a scant 75 miles away, and it might as well have been 7,500 miles away for the depth of homesickness that washed like crashing waves over her for six weeks. When the waves receded, she knew that this pain would not ever be as deep again. Little did she know the goodbyes that would come when her Kansas grandparents died, when her first born's twin brother died at birth. That pain was replaced with the realization that little Donnie was being cared for by God, and one day we would be re-united again. And the pain becomes bitter sweet and endurable as she learned to trust God.

As our children left home one by one and the goodbyes became more and more often, each one left their mark with smiling tears of parents. We sent each one away with a time of prayer and as our daughter-in-law taught us – 'a family hug'. Then their Dad and I would hold hands and wave good bye to our children – praying in our hearts for God to watch over our blessed children. And as time passed, grand children and great grandchildren.

The goodbye to Dad as he lay on the hospital bed suffering from at least 10 heart attacks was tinged with victory when Dad smiled as he entered into Heaven's Gates. When it was Mom's turn to go, I sat with her and read from her favorite Psalms as she passed from this earth to Heaven.

Psalm 37:5-7 - Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Someone said, “What is good about goodbyes?” Without goodbyes, there would never be a “Hello!” and the joy of greeting on earth, and in Heaven. Without goodbyes we would never know what we have lost. Without goodbyes we would never realize the worth of our friends, church family and loved ones.

I wonder whether Adam and Eve as they were expelled from the Garden of Eden cried. I am sure they were saying goodbye to what once was with tears and regret. Their lives were changed forever...and ours. Did they even have a word for goodbye then? When I read the Old Testament I am astonished at the number of farewells that God's people endured in faith or in disobedience.

As we bid our minister farewell, after nineteen years, last Sunday, August 12th. There were many tears as we all remembered with love our relationship of joy with a man who exemplified God's love, forgiveness and hope in Christ Jesus. As time continues we know we cannot stay in this state of sorrow, but listened to God's words as Jack read from Philippians 2:2....then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” That oneness and like-mindedness comes from being like Jesus and knowing His Word.

Ephesians 22:23-24 - Good-bye, friends. Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ. Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ. (The Message)

II Timothy 2:3-4 - Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors. I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion. (The Message)

We do not know what lies ahead in this world, but we do have confidence in the One who guides our footsteps. God knows the heartache of goodbye, for He sent His Son into the world to die on the cross for us. He did so that we might hear the words from Matthew 25, the parable of The Bags of Gold as we cross the last threshold of pain.....

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!

The older we become the more ready we are to hear these words. The world no longer has an allure for us. Each goodbye is simply another step to the glories of Heaven. We look ahead to a forever-place of no goodbyes with our Lord.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Growing Into Joy....

From early childhood I knew from voluminous reading that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and that when my prince came I would live happily ever after – after the period of 'once upon a time' had ended.

To further my thinking toward this fairy tale existence, Mother let me go see The Blue Bird of Happiness movie when I was about eleven years old. Walking home, singing the song, I looked in every tree and every bush for that mythical blue bird. That blue bird didn't appear anywhere, but I kept singing... and looking.

So be like I, hold your head up high, 'Til you find the blue bird of happiness.

You will find greater peace of mind ... Knowing there is a blue bird of happiness.

Then came the Wizard of Oz with the beautiful song....

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high.There's a land that I've heard of, once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true....

Story books, fairy tales and wistful lyrics of songs, do not help anyone to find the elusive happiness.

First there were the growing pains. When I complained about the pain in my legs, the doctor did not diagnose, but my mother did, “Oh, you have growing pains!”

So many seasons and places to experience growing pains. And the pain is not always physical, but emotional, spiritual and the mental anguish. Fear of the unknown, not fitting in, learning obedience, learning to sustain relationships can certainly cause mental and emotional anguish during the teens.

Learning to make wise and informed choices circumvents a lot of growing pains. The impatience of youth and rebellion reaps a harvest of unwanted growing pains and unwanted consequences. And those growing pains and consequences stunt the growth into Joy often without our understanding.

Vacations were scarce in our growing up days, but one day we decided to drive to Pike's Peak in Colorado in our 1936 Ford – traveling from Clinton, Oklahoma. My two brothers and I always wanted the 'window seats', and on the day that we began the ascent, I had the window seat. I prayed and cried most of the way to the top. Peering down the side of the road from the 'window seat' and I could see us plunging down the mountain to the deep valley below. It was a long drive, or so it seemed before we arrived safely at the top. Our family exited the trusty Ford and we all looked around. Such a vista so near to heaven thrilled me. “Mom, let's build a house up here and stay forever!”

I felt such a peace and joy – I learned then that achieving something brings joy. Joy comes from the 'growing pain' of joy.

When I listened last Sunday to Colossians 1:3-5 – I learned that there are three characteristics necessary to help us through the growing pains to that ultimate desire of peace and joy! We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.

I Corinthians 13:13 says it this way - And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Some of my favorite expressions of joy come from the Psalms:

  • Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy – Psalm 96:12
  • Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.....Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy. Psalm 98:4,8

If 'Joy happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are', then we recognize and praise our God from Whom comes all things. Just as God's creation praises God, we recognize and praise God with lives of thanksgiving.

Only then can we 'grow into Joy!' Only then can we see that joy and happiness doesn't come from possessing things but giving. Joy comes from being God's and not swayed by the word's thinking. 'Growing into Joy', climbing Pike's Peak, never stops until we draw our last breath.

We can begin that process of Growing into Joy with gratitude. It has been said, “Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”

'Thank' your way into Growing into Joy!