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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A new book in my hands and my heart beats faster anticipating a story I will enjoy. I turn to the inside contents page, and wonder how this story will unfold. I run my fingers over the cover as I read the back cover to ascertain the flavor of the book and read about the author. Finally I am ready to dive in, like making a swift entry into the sea of words.

How long does it take to be fully captivated and the world about me recedes? That is the test of the book. Is it one chapter, two or more? If the book is truly captivating, I become the character in disguise, and it is my story. A story that I borrow to be mine.

As a child, I was aware that I belonged to a family that included parents, two brothers an assortment of aunts and uncles plus beloved grandparents. I knew my great grandparents – Jacob and Justina Loewen, too. I didn't realize that I was a part of a story. A true non-fiction story.

Every decision made by my grandparents, parents and uncles and aunts, and later my cousins affected my life. They were in my story and I was in their story. At one point in my life I remember saying, “I am me and I can make my own decisions (and mistakes).” That is a good way to write “The End” to the story, I found out. Making my own decisions and doing life my way builds an impenetrable wall around me and separates me from the pages of my family's story.

As time went on, I began to enjoy reading my family story back as far as records go. The golden thread that held the story together from generation to generation was a deep faith in God through so many heart aches that strengthened their ability to trust God. In this blog I have written about all the hurts and triumphs. A daily struggle to survive and feed the family, big decisions, small decisions, deaths, marriages, children born, traveling from far away to this country, the blessing of music and worshipping God. Our family story is a legacy of love here on earth. The story is made of vignettes of honor, laughter, compassion, integrity, truth and a deep concern for others painted in the brilliant colors of love.

But where did that love, the basis of our strong legacy come from? From the author of love, Jesus Christ who gave his life for us and our story grows, for we are now in a story, inside of a another story. This story has a beginning and no end, for it is the 'forever story'. A story without an end lasting into eternity.

As in any story, there is the main plot with the Protagonist and the Antagonist playing the main parts in our lives. When we see that we play the sub-plot to the main story, we understand our place (It's not about us). God is the Protagonist and Satan is the Antagonist who fights the Protagonist at every step. Donald Miller ( proposes that we play the sub-plot part in our lives to the main story of God. Life is a continuing story of man who must learn that the Protagonist part – God – is already taken. When we understand that in our role of sub-plot, we simply support the principal character, then our lives come to a satisfactory understanding. We choose to support the Protagonist. If we allow the Antagonist to sway our thinking to wrestle the protagonist role away from God, then we fall into an abyss of personal terror, uncertainty and chaos. For we have chosen the loser, not just here on earth, but for eternity.

So what does our Lord God think of us? What does God offer us? And what do we think of ourselves? How does our resume in this life read? It is not important what others (playing the sub-plot role) think of us, but what God thinks of us. A Storyline Resource reminds me of My Identity in Jesus (

Our identity includes: Beloved, Forgiven, Washed Clean, Delighted In, A Child of God, Free, A Temple of the Holy Spirit, Adopted Into God's Family, Co-Heir with Christ, Righteous, New, A Saint, Set Apart, An Ambassador of Christ, A Co-Laborer, A Sweet Aroma, Never Alone, A masterpiece, Wonderfully Made, Bold, Having Guaranteed Victory, Holding a Secured Future, Whole in Christ. (Each identification has a scripture.)

We never have to worry about who we are when we 'play' the sub-plot to God's story. We are in His Story. We don't 'step' on His lines. We don't usher Him out, stage right. His role is a constant. We praise Him and thank Him for this opportunity to be In His Story! How do we Thank Him? How can we not thank and praise Him? Each morning I see the work of His hands in His Creation. I marvel at the detail, variety and structure of each flower, each tree and each leaf. The geese who strut across the street mid-town – while traffic stops – and I know that the honoring of their lives is a praise for God. With each baby who is born, a new one is added In His Story. Just as the little one learns to walk and talk, we, In His Story learn to praise, to thank, trust and honor God our Father.

God directs our lives, He comforts us, He is the lifter of our head. He knows our thoughts and deeds, He gives us rest. He IS. Satan, the Antagonist, is 'anti' all that is good, kind gentle,compassionate. He is the father of all lies. The antagonist is filled with empty promises that turn bitter in our mouths.

What story do our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren read as we draw breath? Will our story draw them to play a sub-plot role to our Beloved Father in Heaven?

• The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
• The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, theLord, over many waters. Psalm 29:3
• How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7
• Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. Psalm 116:5
• Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. Psalm 147:1
• Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5
• God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I Corinthians 1:9
• For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. I Corinthians 1:25


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is it that compels a Mom to teach her children to say “Thank you!” or “Please!” Then there is “Excuse Me!” and “Pardon Me!” Despite Mom's best efforts I am still confused about just the right moment to say “Excuse Me!” or “Pardon Me!”. Or who to introduce first. Sometimes the subtleties of manners escapes me just when they are to be put into practice.  Is a terse, Thanks, of less value that Thaaaanks! This was the subject of one couple's discussion. Which is better? Shouldn't the Tha-a-anks be a Thank You? Is it enough to say just a Thanks?

A heart felt “Thank You!” is a way of blessing the hearer and confirming their worth. It is like saying, “You are worth something, and I appreciate what you have done for me.” Have you ever experienced a sweet smile from a total stranger and felt a 'thank you' bubbling up inside?
A from-the-heart 'thank you' is a covenant of friendship. A 'thank you' brings two people together on the same side of the fence. A 'thank you' reveals kindred spirits. Somehow gratitude is a multiply er to the nth degree, it is as catching as a gleam from a well-cut diamond.

Nearly everyone wants to have steps to follow in order to be thankful. Being thankful isn't a recipe, it isn't a pattern, it is a way of life. Find other ways to be alert to what is around you and give thanks and say thank you to others and most of all to God. It depends on how God has created you with different gifts, say thank you in your way for the things you find 'thank-able'.

One list begins with RELAX. One of my very favorite verses is “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 Whenever I become tense, I simply remember this verse and do not rehearse negative 'what if's'.

LIVE IN THE MOMENT. How many moments can you find? How many moments in an hour? How many delightful moments can you pack in your life by thinking not of the past or of the future but the now of your life? Don't postpone your enjoyment, a moment of joy will pass you by.

How can you begin? START WITH YOUR SENSES. The smell of fresh bread in the oven or towels hanging on the line in the sunshine. The delight of baby calves learning to walk. The laughter of children playing. A tender, “I love you” from your loved one or friend. An unexpected gift, no matter how small.

CHERISH LIGHT-HEARTEDNESS. Choose your light-heartedness – is it a play on words, finding laughter where ever you are. Tease, take teasing, be patient and laid back. Laughter is lightens the heart. Finding joy in everyday things. Find a new point of view. A friend took a picture of a flower and caught a lady bug 'at home', lounging on one of the petals, giving thanks.

TAKE A VACATION in the midst of a busy life without ever leaving your home environment. Change activities. Create something beautiful. Creativity is an antidote to getting out of any rut. Create a new dress, paint a picture, write a poem or a story or a song. If all else fails change environments and pack your bags. Remember you can't get away from yourself when you take a vacation.

KEEP A JOURNAL – This sounds wonderful, and I have many 'beginnings to journals' with one or two entries. Perhaps this is for you, to chronicle your journal. My grandmother and my mother kept journals and now her children and grandchildren can read and 'know' them. Writing has a way of clearing your mind when you are unsure of the next step. One lady, Ann Voskamp, recorded One Thousand Gifts to share her Praises and Joys and Thank You's.  (The 6 steps are from -

Are you asking, do I have to be thankful for? My bills exceed my finances, I ache and hurt all the time, the weather isn't warming up for Spring, our government is not like I want it to be, just want to have fun and not think about my life. I just don't have the energy to go on.

This morning, I went to the kitchen window and looked at the trees along the fence. I so longed for them to break out into beautiful blooms for our first spring here. And today, red blooms greeted me. I praised God for their sedate beauty.

This week two visitors drove 500 plus miles for a visit. Our friendship has been built on many years of prayer, laughter, tears and cups of coffee. This friendship elicits more than a perfunctory thank you, for my friends are truly family! How can such a friendship be? It was built on Jesus Christ, prayer by prayer, upon a study of prayer in a retreat. We prayed for several generations of family, believers and unbelievers in Jesus, for healing – spiritual and physical, for strength, for courage, for wisdom and thanking God for our opportunity to be truly sisters in Christ.

Recently I bought a larger print Bible, it was time, and began reading David's Psalms. One hundred fifty psalms, filled with praises to God the Father. David wrote expressions of praise, faith, sorrow and frustration that cover the range of human emotions. David describes God in these Psalms, and reading we see that God is a Lord of salvation, the lifter of my head, He answers, He is a shield, He sustains me, He gives joy and peace. He provides safety. He is majestic, He has done great things. And that is just the first nine chapters.

From David we learn not to withhold any part of our lives from our Lord. For He created us, loves us, and watches over us. God is not pushy, He waits for us to want Him and delight in Him. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and End, yesterday, today and forever. There is no other Who we can praise and teach us to be thankful.

As we learn to praise God and thank Him, we are attuned to seeing His reflection in others. He softens our hearts, teaches us to forgive others as He forgives us. In a world where truth is not a valued commodity that we face each day, the value of trusting and living for Jesus – Who is the Truth. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
• “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” – Psalm 9:1-2
• Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act. Psalm 37:2-5


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When I was young, admonitions from my Mom included: Don't forget to practice the piano when you get home from school! You must clean up your room before your grandparents come for a visit! Do 'your' dishes and sweep the kitchen, that is 'your' chore. Do your math homework, I don't care how many problems your teacher assigned. Don't tease your brothers!

What is it about these 'Edicts from Mom and Dad' that made me want to rebel, or to procrastinate? Is it that rebellious streak that colors our hearts from the beginning of life? Yes, we desire to be our own person no matter what the cost? Ask Eve, ask Adam what it cost. When my brothers and I saw a mountain, we had to climb it, to be King of the Mountain. Of course, in Oklahoma, we only climbed hills. Yet, we had to be on top and survey our 'kingdom'.

One day I realized that life consists of obedience, first to my Dad and Mom, then the colleges I went to, and then, later, to my husband. And above all, obedience to God. I saw my life stretched out in a time-warp of obedience until death. It wasn't until much later that I saw the blessing of peace that comes from the acceptance of obedience. I am learning the celebration of self-discipline.

Until I was 6 years old, our 'little' house had a white picket fence. This was our world we enjoyed in safety. Some of the memories from that time include a pet baby goat that we fed with a baby bottle, a roof-covered sand pile, green grass in the yard, a home-made swing Dad made from a steering wheel with seats attached that whirled around under Dad-Power. The white picket fence stood for three things – protection, a paradise of peace, and challenge. I watched as workers walked just beyond the fence and wondered if they had a safe place like we did. I watched as they dropped white smoldering 'sticks' on our sidewalk as they walked wearily past. Curious, I watched the outside world between the slats of the picket fence.

How many years did I watch Mom hem shirts and dresses? And she taught me this verse....”You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

And I feel again the security of that white picket fence, the love of Mom and Dad and family. Little did I know that the security and contentment I felt came from a series of covenants – with God, family and marriage hemmed in by God. The security comes from the hand of God on our lives.
A covenant is an agreement between two people in the eyes of God! God brings an accountability to the covenant through Jesus Christ. Being in covenant with Jesus is like being inside my childhood's picket fence. The Scripture is filled with the process of covenants. David and Jonathan had a covenant that was sealed, even unto their descendants. It was not a life time guaranteed covenant, but generation after generation, even as God has promised us through Jesus Christ.

What is the road to contentment when everything about us seems to unravel? Not just us, but when evil intrudes in lives through the ages. Where is that utopia of security, comfort and hope then? Freedom from want, hunger or poverty? Why isn't life that touted dream of the easy life with no concern? What is the secret?  There is no secret, it is simply acceptance. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23.

 In the early 1990's, Mom wrote her family story – The Lines are Fallen. (Part of the book is found here - In the Epilogue, this is what she wrote:
“Life is constant change. We must accept this fact and know that everything we see or hold disappears and decays. Doors open constantly to distinct areas and close firmly behind us as we finish each phase of life.
Birth pushes us painfully into a new world. We scream for comfort of food, warmth and dry diapers. We learn love and how to play with toys in the home. ABCs and school follow on the heels of babyhood. Suddenly we are teenagers and know all the answers – totally in control.

First-love introduces us to marriage and babies come. We begin our struggle with compromise. Quite painfully we learn the 'give and take' of life where all our pat answers are missing.

In this new area of living we battle mortgages, debts and teenagers with compromises that loom like impassable bars around each bend. But through lessons we remember from parents and teachers, we build sturdy characters in ourselves and our children.

Battered, but unbowed the home nest empties. Just when we begin to understand life, an avalanche of medicare and retirement folders flood our mailbox. Our bodies may creak with pain, but our minds are alert to new truths Surely, we are too young to be old. But time has settled us on the western slope of the hill. An understanding God allows each generation to glean this fact for themselves; even our grandparents had to learn this.

One hundred years ago, Jacob and Aganetha Suderman were young parents with a growing family. They moved to America. Since 1922, they rest side by side in the Ebenfeld Cemetery (KS). Their eleven grown children sleep-wait with them. Only Aunt Martha (their youngest daughter-in-law) remains alive of that generation. Many of our cousins walk that higher family circle. Does this mean the Suderman family saga is ending? And will the lives of God's grace be strong enough to extend to future generations?

As long as earth stands and new babies are born to our children and grandchildren, the Suderman Saga rolls on. The pleasant places of our inheritance remain to 'thousands of generations' of those who love God and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:6) The promise of His Word will never fail and the inheritance of eternal life lies within each heart that seeks to do His will.

Truly, the lines are fallen in pleasant places for us. We have a rich heritage. Guard it well, for we are the relay runners handing this baton to our children.”

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

There are no covenants made without trust
And there is no trust without Truth.
Lies are made of shifting wind-blown sand,
Lies thrive in anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk
Truth is the foundation upon which Eternity is built.
Truth requires God-boundaries, Boundaries of compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Hang On!

The first time I heard this phrase from a piano student searching for the next note, my mind did somersaults accompanied with quiet 'inside' laughter. What should I 'hang on' to? There were no instructions with this command, just a terse, “Hang on!” In suspended animation I searched the room to see what I could hang on to. The piano, the music book filled with Treble and Bass Clefs? The file cabinet with neatly filed music? Nothing seemed to lend itself to follow through the “Hang On!” command. Chuckling then, and continuing to wonder at this quaint request to wait a minute before resuming playing. I tried to teach the ongoing-ness of music by singing “Jesus Loves Me” with 'hang on' moments creating a melody that ricocheted from measure to measure. This didn't seen to halt the utterance of this phrase.

One day I heard this idiom and thought seriously about the meaning of 'hang on'. We all have this innate desire to 'hang on' from the moment we are born. We cling to our Mother and Father for the first needs we have – with cries to communicate needs. Soon the circle of need grows beyond the family and friends, and centers on those beloved grandparents who cater to our every desire. We want the world to stop until we have what we need or think we want for our comfort and validation.

From our need to 'hold on' we learn to weigh and prioritize what is deemed to be 'hang on' material. Whether it is a desired thing or a request for someone's time, it is not an easy thing to turn away from. “Hang on” is a plea to wait.

Evidently that wait is an exercise in patience for the hearer, or wait-ee. Our Creator created us for 'holding on' as our arms grasp and 'hang on'. He made our minds to search for what to hold on to – an idea, a principle, an act. Our Creator made us with a heart-sized longing for His love to 'hang on' to.

Hang on – hang on to what? Hang on to our vocation? Fame? Money? Status? Youth? Comfort? Daily Bread? Illusion of the past? Family and treasures of the family? So many distractions and side issues, how do we find what is eternal? C.S. Lewis said, “Whatever is not eternal, is eternally useless”

My Dad died when I was midway through life. I felt so alone without my Dad on this earth. His words of wisdom, his love, his boyish exuberance, his story telling - were no longer on this earth. I can no longer hear his laughter. I missed him. It was then I realized that I still had the Abba Father. Dad taught me about God, knowing that in time I would find comfort and wisdom just when I needed it. I was not totally alone on this earth. That moment changed my life, for I knew Whom I would “Hang on” - The Lord God, the one whom Jesus called Abba (Daddy) Father.

And The Lord God teaches us to wait...ask Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph and many more, what it is to wait on God. We do not know the wonder and mystery of prayer. We think God has not heard our prayer. Yet, Daniel prayed - As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Daniel 9:23. And David waited, writing, “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” Psalm 63:3

Jude 1:21 - “...keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!” Psalm 61:1-4

David is reaching out to God, beseeching God to listen to his call. Lead me... Let me dwell in your tent... Let me take refuge... David was 'hanging on' to God, and teaching us where our strength lies. Was it difficult to wait, and continue to 'hang on'? It was for David and it is for us as well.

When the way wears us down and we want to 'hang on' no longer. Yet, we find our strength in the Lord. We want to finish the race, even as Timothy writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7

It is the faith that makes the difference and the words of the song, Our God, becomes our battle cry!

Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
What could stand against. (
(Chris Tomlin)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Hang on, hang on, can you hear me? I'm gonna say it again Hang on, hang on, never giving up No, never giving in
Hang on every hopeful word Even when it seems absurd Keep holdin' on
If you triumph when you fail Keep your head when you prevail Be a hero, keep hangin' around
Hang on, hang on, are you listening? Let me say it again Hang on, hang on, never giving up. No, never giving in.
Michael W Smith (


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Seasoning Life

What spice of life makes it worth living in this world? Not long ago I purchased a few spices to replace old spices thrown out during our recent move. A visiting grandson suggested an unusual spice to use, our daughter bought two spices she declared were good and I should have – Roasted Ground Ginger and Smoked Paprika. Our son's wife purchases spices at a local store in bulk and shares with me. Yes, we have spices.

Spices remind me of the scent of baking gingerbread Mom made when I was growing up. I recall the cinnamon-scented pumpkin pie Grandma Suderman made for Sunday breakfast, when I was 7 years old. My father-in-law's dependence on the salt shaker during meal time was linked to his motto - “I salt on suspicion!” How would food taste if there were no seasonings? Once I tried pureed baby food with no spices. Bland with a capital “B”!

Mother often boiled cabbage for a meal. Several times she let it boil to a light brown consistency – well – she burned it. When she added butter, salt and pepper, we could eat it. Once she asked what we wanted to eat, and she was a bit chagrined when we said in unison, “Burnt Cabbage!” Even when a food is beyond redemption, seasoning can make the difference, unless you don't like cooked asparagus that you hide under your plate. Food or life without any seasonings is dull.

Once upon a time there were no little cans or jars of spices available on the grocery shelf for just a small amount of money. There were only open air markets with vegetables, fruit and meat and no 'processed foods' with small print with its chemicals to enhance taste or preserve its salability. A few centuries ago spices caused wars, motivated elaborate trade routes and monopolies to trade and sell spices were formed. They were used for medicinal purposes, for coloring cloth and for rituals and worship.

Here are some spicy tidbits about seasoning:
Saffron – used to dye clothing, to bathe in and as a yummy seasoning. Alexander the Great used saffron in his rice and also in his bath to treat battle wounds. During the Black Plague, Saffron was sold as a medicine to treat illness, a 14-week long “Saffron War” broke out when a shipment was stolen,.
Nutmeg – comes from a tropical tree in the Molucca Islands of Indonesia. Arab spice traders were the first to find this spice. Then Portuguese captured natives to show them where the spices grew but they fought back. Then the Dutch and English led a bloody battle over the Island's spices. The Dutch won after massacring numbers of the natives. During Napoleon's reign, the English took over the islands.
Salt – one of the world's oldest food preservatives that date back to Neolithic people extracting salt from salty spring water in 6050 B.C. From the Latin word, “salarium” was used to describe the money paid to Roman soldiers toward their purchase of salt. Poland, in the 16th century, was a mighty empire, but destroyed when Germans manufactured sea salt. Mahatma Gandhi led over 100,000 people in protest of the British rule against making their own salt from the sea, as it allowed people to avoid paying salt tax. This disobedience made international headlines and led to the fight for Indian independence from British Rule.
Pepper – native to South Asia, was used in Indian food since 2000 B/C. Peppercorns were found in the nostrils of Ramesses II in his tomb, used as part of the mummification rituals from around 1200 B.C. When trade routes connected India to the rest of the world, pepper was known as 'black gold' for its high prices, and in some areas, peppercorns were used as a form of currency. Pepper was so important to Europeans, it changed the course of world history and led the Portuguese to discover a faster sea route to India during the age of discovery.
Cinnamon – Considered the World's most popular spices, came from China 5000 years ago, to the Egyptians and the Romans up to modern Europe. It is treasured for its taste and medicinal uses. It is native to Sri Lanka (ancient Ceylon) from a laurel tree. It is found now in India, Vietnam, Brazil, West Indies and Egypt, and more, and comes from the C. Zeylanicum tree, and today the C Cassia tree. It was used to burn during Roman funerals. Egyptians drank it, and it was used for medicinal purposes and mentioned in Chinese botanical books, 2700 BC, as a healing herb.

From the book, Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia by Norma Jost Voth, I find that my ancestors used many spices. Many of the recipes come from Russia, around the Black Sea. Some of the recipes came from Holland or Prussia. A listing in the back of the book lists the spices used. Allspice, Anise Oil (China), Bay leaf (Laurel tree), Cardamon (Scandinavia), Caraway (Switzerland), Chili Peppers, Cinnamon (China), Cloves, Cumin (Egypt, Dill (Southeastern Europe), Ginger (Egyptians), Mustard (China), Nutmeg, Onion, Parsley, Peppercorns (Equator countries), Saffron (costly), and Salt (rock salt without additives). I wonder when our ancestors migrated to this country in the late 1800's, if they brought spices with them, or wondered where they would be able to find them again.

The Bible mentions Aloe, Balsam, Cassia, Cinnamon, Henna, Frankincense, Myrrh and Saffron to be used in cooking, oils, incense, perfumes and ceremonial purposes. Spices were considered a luxury since many were imported from far away as India, Asia, Persia, Arabia and Egypt. God created these spices to give us more than bland food. God, the Lord of universe, who loves us. Who is this God Whose very being watches over us with love and plans for us, even to the food we eat. Though we use a world of words, we can never find enough to praise Him, who gives us not only life on this earth, but sent His only begotten son to be the sacrificial lamb for our sins. In this age of cynicism, disbelief and rebellion we trust in Him.

We are concerned with feeding our bodies, delighting the palate and always looking for a new restaurant or comfort food. But there is another part of us, 'made in the image' of God that also needs nourishment even more. It is the part of us, our heart, that we give to our Lord. He lives and teaches the seasoning of life that gives us delight and joy. As we see Him through His words, we become His even more...and we live for Him. He is our comforter, our all in all.

The same characteristics, or attributes, that describe our Lord God can be ours as we learn more about Who He is through His Word and Whose we are – not our own, but His. Imagine what this world would be without the qualities of integrity, compassion or caring. Those qualities in people are to be treasured and preserved and remembered.

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

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. II Corinthians 1:21-22

What are the qualities, the attributes, that will make our life become exciting, a life that is filled with heavenly flavoring, a life of expectant living. It isn't just a salt-and-pepper life, but one that has an array of nine seasonings that provide fulfillment and anticipation of the best to come.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:23-25

Amen and Amen!