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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Memories of Moments

What a joy to be with three of our children this last weekend!  Although we missed our oldest son, we enjoyed the laughter moment by moment! The anticipation of this time created a sense of the joy of memories when our children were young.

Now the childhood memories are examined by our children in their middle years, tempered with the experiences of growing through many life experiences.  How very special to see our second and third sons hug their sister with the tenderness that lurked just below the teasing of childhood.  As I sat by Ed, he touched me, and said, “Isn't this enjoyable?”  We let the joy of the moment swirl around us, carried by the words and laughter.

The deference that all the children and their spouses gave their father as he suffers from loss of short-term memory gave me a sense of joy and appreciation for each one.  Love in a family erases rancor and criticism.  Love in a family provides a shield of protection for the heart.  Love in a family kisses the hurts of life away.

Our children gathered around us a year ago to help us move, we were enveloped in a blessed time of caring that was tinged with golden sparks of joy.

This weekend Paul reminisced about the tiny kittens that they brought into the house when Mom wasn’t home, and put on the piano keys to watch their reaction.  The time when the wind in southwest Kansas blew at a speed of 40 mph and the boys climbed on the roof of the two story house to put up the ham radio antenna except for Dan who steadied the guy wires down below.  One Halloween evening, Paul and Dan knelt at the back door and knocked, saying, “Trick or Treat!” Or the time Anna tried to retrieve the baby bunny from the house, and pulled off the tail, and ran screaming to her room.  Her big brother Paul ran after her and comforted her, saying, “I think the tail will grow back.”  (I just learned that story.)

Dan, preparing to leave to take his ham radio test, and when asked if he was excited, poured the glass of water he was drinking on the floor instead of the sink, and answered, “No!”  Or when Brownie, the mongrel pet dog brought a dead rabbit to the kitchen window while we were having breakfast.  Or the time I realized that our four children were not destined to be a performing vocal group one Sunday, as they sang, “Mansion on the Hilltop”. One by one their singing turned to crying and left their Dad and me singing a duet. 

The evening meal together was a joyous time when we caught up on the day’s activities.  One evening during our laughter, our teenaged boys began passing the jug of milk whispering to each other.  The whispers and giggles grew in volume, until I heard, “Don’t drink it, it is spoiled!” (A la Spanky in “Our Gang”).  Paul’s friend came over for lunch (we called it dinner) after church and Steve was perplexed as the boys called out a number and laughed uproariously.  Then they laughed again at the expression on his face.  Our sons had conspired to save time by numbering the jokes and then quickly get to the laughter.
Does this sense of joy in our family end with this life?  No, for each of us had heard the message of the four words that changed our lives –
  Creation (Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.),
  The Fall (Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.)
  Redemption (John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.)
  Restoration.  I Thessalonians 4:17 - Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Edith Schaeffer penned a book, ˆWhat is a Family”, that describes a family as a museum of memories, an indelible education for life, a shelter in the time of storm and the birthplace of creativity.  To me a family is a unit of ever-changing, mobile of loving interaction.

The phrase, Elasticity of Love, describes the thrill of each added child, and their choices of mates, then twelve grandchildren and their additions of spouses and seven grandchildren, and counting.  The numbers of diapers changed, meals made, the countless cleaning of houses or days worked cannot begin be measured, when a son asks, “Are you OK?”  Or a grandchild writes a message on facebook.  Then I find a quote that says what the bottom line of family is:
 “God will not judge us according to how much we endured, but how much we loved.” Richard Wurmbrand

Where do I find the how of love?  In these three verses I find God’s way to love and create a family of love.

“Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love;   it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight!  Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.” 

I Corinthians 13:4-7   


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ed!

 Happy Birthday to Ed, on his 88th year on this earth.  He is my husband of almost 62 years, father of our four children, and proud grandfather of twelve grandchildren.  He is also happy to have seven great-grandchildren as well.

We met in Grenola, Kansas.  My first impression was formed watching him amble on cowboy boots into the living room. He took off his hat, tossed it across the room where it landed on table lamp shade.  When we were introduced, neither of us were impressed, looked at each other, mumbled, “Hello”, and turned away.  Somehow that changed rapidly.

During this time while I was in Grenola, leading singing for a revival, Ed had a birthday.  I made him an apple pie with, “Happy Birthday” etched in the crust. Three months later, February 1st, we were married.

Ed was born in 1925 in Dodge City, Kansas, to his parents Rufus Edgar and Ruth Olive (Starkey) Combs.  He had two older brothers and two sisters.  Two years later his mother died in childbirth. Ed’s father remarried and soon Ed had a little sister.

In 1938, the family moved to Rosepine, Louisiana.  Since Ed did not enjoy school, he loved the fishing and being in the woods in Louisiana.  After he graduated from high school, he volunteered and was inducted in the Army on December 28, 1943.  He served in the Asiatic Pacific, and was honorably discharged November 21, 1945.  He told his story of serving in WWII to Ernest C. Frazier. The book, The Boothill Coffee Club, 1, a collection of stories of veterans is published. Ed’s Dad owned several ranches and Ed worked on a cattle ranch for several years after his discharge. 

Our first home was on one of the ranches near Piedmont, KS.  We lived in a two-room house that Ed wired before we were married. He piped water from a spring across the road.  He and his Uncle Gallio added another two rooms to the small house.  After we had been married for almost a year, we moved to Joplin, Missouri, with our son Dan, two months old, and Ed attended Ozark Christian College for two years.  From then until we moved to Rogers AR, our life was a series of moves.  Paul, Tim and Anna were born in three years’ time during those moves that ranged from Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Illinois. The move to Arkansas came after Anna graduated from High School. 
What did we find in Rogers, Arkansas, for 38 years?  We found many friends and family in Rogers Christian Church.  Ed worked there as an elder, teacher, greeter, janitor, and visiting the elderly, serving them communion.  Whenever there was a need, Ed was there.

What a shock, when Ed was diagnosed with a type of Dementia in April of 2012. Once more we prepared to move close to one of our four children, Tim.  Although our children live in four different states, they all came to help us get ready and move.

We have not ceased counting our blessings and know whatever lies ahead, with our faith in God, we will be OK.  We continue to trust in God and His Providence. 

What kind of vocations has Ed engaged in?  A rancher, a student in Ozark Bible College, an ordained minister for seven years, Combs Automotive for a period of time.  He worked in AVSCOM in St Louis for seven years before we moved to Rogers, AR.  In Rogers, Ed worked in Walmart Warehouse and as an armed guard to transport money and also television repair for a time. 

His avocations include interest in fixing radios, televisions, computers, and trying to invent energy from water.  His ability to tinker extended to electrician work, plumbing, building and fixing cars.  He taught our children to be proficient in these areas as well. When our sons were in upper elementary, he learned the Morse Cod with Ham Radio.  He took his sons to meetings and taught the code.  Our oldest son received a ham radio license before he entered high school and spent many hours using the Morse code.  Putting up an antenna on a two story house did not daunt Ed and his three sons.

Ed’s patience, gentleness and ability to teach and love, brought many avenues to  serve His Lord through the years.

When I asked what scripture was his favorite, he thought for a moment and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd.  Every time I read that scripture, I picture Jesus, the Shepherd, holding me in His arms.”   According to The Voice, the first four verses are recorded here:
The Eternal is my shepherd,  He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears;  He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths  to roads where truth and 
righteousness echo His name.

Happy Birthday to my dear husband!  I love you.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Almost sixty-one years ago, we taught our oldest how to talk, walk, eat alone, and how survive in this world.  When God gave us four children in four years, I went to the local library to search for a ‘how to’ book on how to raise children. Dr. Spock was the only author who ventured into child-rearing writing in the 1950’s.  And you know how that went.  (Now many trees have been sacrificed to flood the market to help us be ‘in the know’ to raise children successfully.)

Any time, through the years, I see an article that begins, “How To…”, it catches my attention.  This title portion of any article has grown potentially through the years.  “How To” has spawned jokes, books, television fodder – a whole economy of its own.

I spent years learning to play the piano, going through the painful ‘Hannon’s’, scales, finally I was able to achieve some mastery.  The day I saw a book entitled Play the Piano in a Flash! I was amazed.  Had I missed something, the easy way?  Then the title “How to Play the Piano by Ear”, was published.  Again I wondered, had the ear replaced the fingers? Talented ears?

I am still susceptible to the slick magazines that promise ‘how-to’s’ to erase the pounds years have added or how to de-clutter my house or my life.  I even downloaded “How to Write a Book in a Weekend,” just last week.  The book has not yet emerged. When I saw the title, “How to Train Your Dragon,” I laughed.  Now I could be equipped for the impossible, if I would only read this book.

Even when reading a family genealogy book, A Mennonite Heritage, A Genealogy of the Suderman and Wiens Families, 1800-1975 by Carolyn L. Zeisset, I found ‘how-to’s” were needed even then.  The pattern of each Mennonite house in Russia was built the same way with the house, barn and granary all under one tile roof.  It was built of sandstone, limestone or brick, with whitewashed stucco walls. Doors to the rooms of the house were built with two pieces so the upper half could be opened while the lower half remained closed.  The most remarkable feature of a Russian Mennonite house was its stove, built into the interior walls, as near the center of the house as possible, so that it usually heated three to four rooms.  

As I read further on, page 21, I thought about the role of ‘How-to” and how it was implemented in the time the Mennonites lived in Russia. (1855 –1943 with some migrating to United States in the later 1800’s)  How a “How to Build a Serviceable Mennonite Stove” in Five Easy Steps” writing would have appeared.
  Procure either bricks or stone, enough to construct a stove five to seven feet long, six to seven feet high, and two to two and a half feet wide.
  Construct the bottom firebox, four to six feet long, one and a half to two feet high, and about one and a half feet wide.
  Above the firebox, at the front of the structure, construct a small oven, opening into the kitchen for baking or heating water.  Steam will escape through a pipe fitted into the oven.
  Near the top, toward the back of the stove build a hot air chamber fitted with doors which can be opened in winter to heat the parlor and bedrooms, which share walls with the stove.
• Build the smoke passage from the firebox to the back of the stove, up over the oven, coming to the front of the stove, and again going up over the hot air chimney.  This chimney will be used to for smoking wheat.

Add to this ‘book’, recipes and agriculture know-how, one finds that the no-frills of survival motivates the ‘how-to’, not training a dragon, entertaining children, investing money, patterns for selling.  (I remember Mom cutting a pattern from newspaper with a few measurements and snips of a scissors.  She learned well and not from Simplicity.) 

Then I found a ‘how-to’ book that trumps all others, and the first admonition I read works in so many other ways….Be stilland know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10.  As I continue reading, I find that God gifted his followers with abilities beyond their knowledge such as Noah building the ark.  It follows that the God who created the earth and He created us, has the ultimate ‘how-to’ for every aspect of our lives. 

 When God prepared for the construction of the tabernacle, He chose a worker, and gave him the ability and skill for the undertaking.  Exodus 35:30-35 - When Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan.  He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Our God gives us life and He gives us abilities and strengths according to His plans for our lives.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  I John 5:14

• And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, I Kings 4:29
  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. I John 5:11
  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. II Thessalonians 2:16-17

If we want peace, if we want a life that provides security everlasting, then we must protect our borders of faith and trust.  There is a huge cultural tug and pull that battles for our attention away from our God of Gifts.  Psalm 127:1 makes plain ‘how-to’ achieve the peace we look for in this life. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”


Tuesday, October 08, 2013


It was a sweet summer evening in western Oklahoma.  The steps up to the church door were unending and reminded me of the stairway into heaven.  My Dad chose to sit on the shortest pew near the back door.  We three children sat on either side of our Dad.  I was learning to read in the first grade, and Dad propped up the hymn book on the his knee.  He opened the hymn book to “Trust and Obey” and pointed to the words as he sang with enthusiasm.  Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey….” 

The word trust seemed small while the word ‘obey’ loomed larger. Why are the two words connected?  No one explained that I trusted my parents or what the meaning of trust is.  Slowly but surely, the word ‘trust’ grew in stature as I understood the depth of the meaning.  Did I trust, be accepting of people, until deceit became known?  Yes.  Did it stop me from trusting others?  No.  But I did learn another vocabulary word – discernment.   Without judgement I learned acceptance of their method of operation, and then exercised the heart’s forgiveness muscle. 

Marketing of materialism is a place where scepticism is in and trusting is out.  Man has learned the art of painting a picture of the gloriousness of a product without disclosing the bare truth.  You might say that prevarication is the name of their game. 

What is trusting?  Who can be truly trusted?  Why do we need to trust?  We are not made to be alone but we seek out others to be our friends, those we can love and trust.  Those who think alike, gather together.  There are many groups, clubs and communities of like minds.

There is a commonality.  A basic reason for believing trust can be achieved between people.  When I think of all the covenants, agreements and treaties made between people that rely on the integrity of another person or country, it is clear there is a need for trust between people.

When sickness hits one of our children, no matter, if a grandparent now, the word trust looms large – and I wonder.  Do I trust?  In what do I trust.  And I remember a verse of scripture, “For nothing is impossible with God…” Luke 1:37

I recall as my Dad spent the night in the hospital after a heart attack, that Mom went home to get some rest.  When I asked how she could do that, her answer was scripture, “In peace I lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8.  Mom knew how to trust and who to trust.  And she trusted in God.

Trusting is something learned.  When we were separated from all our children because they were away – building their own lives, my peace came from realizing that the God who created the universe, gave us our children, gave his Son to die for our sins so that we might live with Him eternally, loved my children more than I could ever love them.  In the small apartment in a new town, I longed to hold my children close and protect them from evil. It was then I prayed that God would ‘tuck in’ our children each night and protect them.  Realizing that God holds our hearts and our lives in his hands and with Him, nothing is impossible, I can sleep at night.  When our children go through hardships and life and death experiences, I give them and their families to God. Trusting in God gives us peace.

When our ‘next step’ in life seems murky and unseen.  Then it is time to remember that Someone greater, than mere mortals such as us, is in control.  He makes the sun to rise and set, He brings the rain and the snow.  He created the plants and the animals.  He created man in his own image.

The world seems like a place of pitfalls and unrest.  Who do we trust?  The answer is simple…Our Father Who art in Heaven.  Hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever.   Amen!  (

- Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” 
- To learn to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.  Isaac Watts

I remember Mom quoting this verse:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

  The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2