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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


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Communication Connection

After 11 days without communication with internet made me appreciate the fascinating facets of communication. Art of Communication? A quaint phrase. One that is easily found with the benefit of Google. The one link that caught my eye – The Art of Communicating Effectively. Is that an Oxymoron? Obviously if one is not effective while communicating – there is no Art involved!

The conversations between my dear husband and me sometimes border on the Silliness Quotient # One. We both try to ascertain what the other is trying to communicate.
“What would you like for lunch?”
“What do you have? What are my choices?”
“Sandwich, bean bacon soup, pizza....”
“What was the first one?”
“I don't know, I wasn't listening...”\

Some communication hides the words behind 'looks'. Mom's communication did. Either that – or I was adept in translating her meaning by her look with a perpetual guilty conscience. So effective was she, that during her final service, 'that look' was mentioned several times by more than one minister of the gospel.

When I came home with a report card that sported an 'F' in Math at the age of 13, Dad communicated without words. That is one communication that struck my heart – when he saw the “F” emblazoned in blue ink, he cried. The misdeeds earning that 'F' passed before my eyes.

Communication. In this new place, communication becomes paramount in my life. New neighbors, new church family, new clerks in stores, new 'little ones' all around me provide me with opportunities to delve into this exercise that God has given us. Even as I write, I am aware of the challenges and joys of communication. As I read our son's newest blog (, I realized how unique to each person communication can be. A Library of books are filled with how to write and yet that unique individualized writing stands out.

Moving to a new area of our country, bereft of of church family gives an awareness of need for fellowship. A strangeness descends on my thinking as I find my way through strange streets with unfamiliar names. I well remember that one evening driving west on New Hope the first year in Rogers. It seemed that as I crested a small hill, that I was driving to the ends of the earth.

I am drawn back to my best friend, Eunice, in college. We were discussing the love of our life enthusiastically. It was like the heat of a ping pong game as we waited for the other to 'serve' and 'lobbed' back a sally of words. In mid-sentence I stopped short. We missed the important part of communication – listening. We could have been in alternate universes as far as connecting was concerned! Or when I tried to teach long division in a 6th grade class room. I realized I was doing all the talking – and I didn't speak their 'language'. Quickly I asked an able student to demonstrate a problem on the board. I could feel the relaxed atmosphere of the classroom fill the room.
Seven days after we arrived, we walked through the doors of Windsor Road Christian Church. Immediately we communicated with Janice, Jason, and many others who chased the strangeness away. We were with God's people – singing and praising our Lord.

One recent encounter was built on a series of relationships through the years. One of my new friends (face-book says so) and I exchanged a few words. This new friend, Eleanor, knew my Mother, taught two of our children – Tim and Anna – and now God brought us together. It was as if God knew I needed her friendship at this time in my life. The mail was extraordinary today – notes from Retreat women, a snail mail, and a card and picture from a 5 year old! Communication Connections.

Last Sunday, during the worship singing, I stopped singing. Sitting beside Tim, I looked around at our new church family. So many unfamiliar faces surrounded us. Yet their faith in God, their relationship with Jesus Christ, flooded my being. Tears filled my eyes, for faith in Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him brought us together and I was Home. There may not be time to know each one, but knowing Jesus is more than enough. Listening to Him creates a joy that only increases.

Every step of the way our family and church family have nurtured us. From preparing our house to sell to packing, and even at the last moment, the two able men who loaded the truck. When we arrived, our three sons and Windsor Road church family unloaded the truck. Two daughters – in-law, one granddaughter and her friend and church family unloaded many boxes and put things away.

We are giving thanks and praising our Lord. We are overwhelmed with the sweetness of trusting and being His and for His people. May He be glorified in this communication.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete - by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds ; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. Psalm 68:4

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory an praise!” 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 5:12-13