Mom and Her Mom-isms

Just thinking…

Mom had a subtle but keen sense of humor that jumped out every so often.  Usually it was accompanied by a tiny twinkle, but sometimes she just dead panned through to the end.  Here’s some examples:

1. Mom was hooked the first time she tried that gas station specialty….. “Cappu-keno”. She loved it so much that she made her own powdered version to mix with hot water whenever she wanted. We never did convince her to pronounce it any other way.

2. She had some other mis-pronunciations: A little boy named Eric became “Eeriek” when my mom pronounced it.

3.  Mom sometimes  would talk about getting the carpet fixed.  It was usually after a meal that contained cabbage…. or onions…. or beans…..

“Kenneth,” she would say to my dad, “we’ve got to get this carpet fixed.”

Or if we were outside, the line was, “Kenneth, we just have to get this grass fixed.”

If you are family, you can chuckle now.

4.  Mom loved the computer.  She was quite social and this was her tool to reach out and “chat” all over the world.  Her favorite social media?  “Facelift”…….

5.  We were poor.  Poor people have to find cheap ways to have fun.  So Mom introduced us to stomach rumbles.  This has to be done just a little after finishing a meal.  One person lays flat on the floor.  The next person lays with his/her head on person #1’s tummy.  Person 3 places his/her head on #2’s tummy.  And so forth.  The last person  has to have person 1’s head on his/her tummy.  Then we just rest and listen to the concert.  Other times we held a burp-off.

Guess you would have to be there……

Father, Thankful for humor and so very thankful to not live in a cheerless world.  Thank You for a mom who liked to laugh….. even at herself.  Amen

To God be the Glory,

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Published in: on April 19, 2018 at 3:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mom and Her Hands

Just thinking…..

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I contemplate my mother’s hands. She is dying….. minutes to eternity.  And yet, these hands hold mine, and give a slight move….. do I dare think it is a squeeze?

These hands held and carried me, spanked me, hugged and squeezed me, rubbed my back, wiped my tears. These hands combed the snarls out of my hair, and clasped in prayer. These hands made beds, cooked meals, washed clothes, weeded gardens, gathered eggs, slopped pigs, milked cows. These hands drove a car, played piano, wrote letters. These hands waved hello…waved goodby. These hands caressed my father’s arm as he was dying, and grasped her walker when she visited his grave. These hands signed her name in her Bible, and made hush-signs to her children when we were too loud. These hands created crafts, sewed on buttons, frosted cookies, decorated trees, played rummy cube, arranged flowers. When did her hands become so wrinkled and bruised? And what does it mean that my hands are looking like her hands? Towards the end, my mother could not talk, could not see, could not hear. But she could squeeze my hand.

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Mom’s hands became so swollen and bruised as she aged…. the skin became so thin.

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She liked for me to polish her nails.  Most of the time she wanted clear polish or a very light pink.  One time when I polished her nails, she thought that I put on a too-dark color. But she later said she thought they were nice, and waved her fingers about so that others would notice.  I would trim her nails, soak her fingers and clean the nails.  I would gently massage lotion into her hands and arms, careful not to hurt her.

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My hand… over hers…. and my hand is now looking like the old hand.
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After my mother took her last breath, the hospice workers asked us to leave the room for a few minutes while they arranged and cleaned her body.  When they ushered us back into the room, Mom’s hands were placed like this, with a fresh violet-colored flower in her hands.  I was so touched by their compassion.

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The final repose….. Mom’s hands in the casket. No more bruising. The make up artist did a nice job, but I just keep thinking that her perfect heavenly body will have hands even better than this!  I miss my mother’s hands.  I miss the love they expressed with the many tasks she did and gestures she gave.  Now I contemplate my own hands.  Will someone…. someday…. hold my hands during my last breath, and remember me with love?

Father,  I praise You and thank You for the hands of my mother.  What joy to think that even now her beautiful hands are lifted in praise to You!  Make me worthy….. and help me use my hands in such a worthy way.  Amen.

To God be the Glory,

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Published in: on April 19, 2018 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mom and Sunday Mornings

Just Thinking…..

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We went to a little one room country church when I was growing up. There was a small basement under the church and an outhouse behind it.

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Going or not going to church was never an option. It was similar to no options on going to school, or going to the doctor. We just did it. We sang hymns loudly to the tunes on the old upright piano, put the numbers on the wall chart showing the offering and attendance, and played with the funeral home fans tucked into the hymnal racks. Mom would bring some cheerios in a sandwich bag to occupy our hands and mouths when we were little. Or she would take out her handkerchief (also known as “hanky”), and fold it into interesting shapes to keep us quiet. If I got really bored, I would go outside to the bathroom, and then march around the church a few times before coming back in. I’m sure my mother saw me pass the window during each round.

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We had Sunday school in the basement, with wee ones in the kitchen around a little table. My mother was the teacher, and that was her passion. She loved the little ones. The rest of us were in other corners of the basement, but we could see and hear everyone down there.

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Some Sundays Mom had to make the communion foods to take to church. Some Sundays she volunteered us kids to sing a special or to play a song on our musical instruments.

Now imagine Sunday mornings at our house. There were morning farm chores to be done, breakfast for our large family, dishes to wash, making sure everyone was clean and properly dressed (shoes were all shined the night before), Sunday school lesson materials such as the flannel board pictures to pack, making sure we had our music or musical instruments, and putting the pot roast into the oven before we left.

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So it was no wonder that once in a while as we entered the church and slipped off coats, that Mom would find that she wore her apron to church. Or her old shoes. Bless her heart.

Father, thank You for a mother who taught us by example that worship was important.  Be with all the frenzied parents who struggle to get all the little ones to church.  Amen.

To God be the Glory,

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Mom and the Old House

Just thinking…..

We lived in an old farm house, which didn’t even have running water or electric when the folks bought it. Dad put in the electric, but it was several years before we had running water. Until then, we used an outhouse, and had a cistern out on the back porch where we could pump water, and also a well. Bath time in the summer consisted of a metal tub set out in the yard, and in the winter, the tub was moved into the house near the heat register. I always thought going to my grandparent’s house, where they had a REAL bathroom was just the ultimate luxury.

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Mom was patient most of the time with that old house, putting up with the inconveniences, and the mice in the walls, and the leaky windows. But once in a while she got that creative urge.

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One time she decided to paint the upstairs bedrooms. She had seen a current fad about putting texture in the paint, which resulted in sandy looking walls. So she bought the paint, but what to use for the texture? Aha! She had extra cornmeal. So she stirred in the cornmeal, and painted away. Dad was not impressed. But we kids thought it looked cool except for the times we brushed up against it and got rug burn on our arms. However…… something began to smell. Yes, our science lesson was that cornmeal mixed into paint will eventually mold.

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Another time she wanted a closet in her bedroom. It was a teensy little room off the living room, but had no closet. Mom walked around with a yardstick and paper and pencil, and announced that since the stairs bordered with a bedroom wall, then we could just knock out part of that wall and put a closet in the space under the stairs. Seemed good in theory. So one afternoon, she gave us kids hammers and told us to go at it. Those old plaster and lath walls were tough, and about all we really could do with hammers was knock off the plaster and crack some lath. Then we gave up, thinking Dad could do it when he came home from work. Dad’s reaction was not what we expected. He informed all of us that the wall was load bearing (oops…) and that the space under the stairs was too narrow for even a coathanger. So the patching commenced…..

Then there was the time the folks decided to finally put in running water and a real bathroom. They turned another little bedroom into half closet and half bathroom. They found a used claw foot tub, a used sink and a used toilet. They even found a used toilet lid made of wood, which unfortunately had a crack on it that would pinch when we sat on it. Turquoise and silver were big decorating colors then, and Mom dreamed of using those colors in the bathroom. So she painted the bottom half of the walls turquoise (I don’t remember what the top part was), but what to do about the silver? She found some sticky silver tape, and used it create the dividing line between the top and bottom of the wall. It did look amazing. Especially the place where tape went upward off the line. And the place where it never would stick…..

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The last example is the kitchen. Mom wanted a little diner type of eating corner. So she designed some benches, which Dad built. One bench was snugged in under the window. The second bench was on the opposite side of the table. They were just plywood with a plastic upholstery, but we thought they were great fun. The slanted back would tilt down and we could hide things in there. It worked great. The unfortunate part was when their much loved oldest child set a hot pan on the seat of the bench…. melting the plastic….. scorching the wood. Mom had had a brillliant idea, but that hole and scorch mark were there the rest of its life.

Father, Thank You for the gift of creativity.  Thank You for perseverance.  Thank You for patience.  Thank You for parents who always did the best with what they had.  Amen.

To God be the Glory…..

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Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mom in the Kitchen

Just Thinking…..

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Mom was a culinary genius. Like most geniuses, she had the occasional flop, but I remember so many of her ideas about food. Although I like everything today except turnips, that was not true when I was growing up.  I was a brat about eating, and truly did not appreciate my mom’s cooking.  Most of her cooking was the everyday meat and potatoes type, and it was delicious. But a few stories come to mind about meals that were different.

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One year, we visited my aunt and uncle in Denver, who announced that we were having pizza for supper. Pizza? Never heard of it. It was not an everyday word in our part of Iowa. So we were introduced to pizza, and Mom fell in love with it. She worked out all kinds of ways to make pizza…. far beyond the then-standard hamburger tomato sauce and cheese. Whatever was a left over could potentially find its way onto a pizza.

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Usually she made pizza crust when she made the weekly bread loaves. But then she discovered pizza mixes at the store…. were they Chef Boy R D? Anyway, it was a box of flour mix (just add water), a packet of tomato sauce and a little packet of parm cheese. She still made most of her pizza with bread dough, but I remember that she bought those mixes one year for my birthday, and my friends could all help make pizzas.

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Another food discovery for our family was spaghetti. We knew its cousin, macaroni, but were not aware of spaghetti. Macaroni showed up on our plates as mac ‘n cheese, or tuna noodle cassarole, or macaroni salad. We never called it pasta. But after our first experience of eating spaghetti somewhere, Mom perfected and then reinvented that dish. Spaghetti could come with hamburger, or sausage, or chicken, or…….

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Mom usually only used salt and pepper to season her cooking. She had some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, which were usually put into sweet rolls. But my creative mom decided one time to surprise us by cooking chicken with some other spices. I could tell from the aroma that this was not a regular chicken. And when I tasted it, I must admit that I made a face….. and probably said yuck!

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She had put cinnamon with the chicken. It just was not a 1950s Iowa thing. Now I know that she was ahead of her time. Many ethnic dishes, which I now love, will combine those spices with meat…. and even add raisins or apples. But at the time I had no appreciation of her cooking.

Mom liked to try ethnic foods.  We didn’t know they were “ethnic” at the time.  But Dad’s side of the family was Swedish, and Mom’s side was Welsh.  So we enjoyed a smorgasbord of foreign foods:  ostakakka, lute fisk, rarebit, yorkshire pudding, fruk soppa, and ostakakka.  We sometimes cooked out of a 4-H project book of foreign foods.  All of this gave us a taste of foods beyond Iowa….. just not chicken with cinnamon.

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For a while our family had to receive “commodities”, which were basic staples from the USDA for poorer families.  Once a month, my parents went to town and came home with boxes of dried milk, peanut butter, dried eggs, flour, sugar, oats, olives, cheese, butter, rice, etc.  There were recipes that came with the boxes; one that I remember us eating often was Spanish rice.  Whether there was anything Spanish about it or not, it was good.  Mom would transfer the foods to other containers as she didn’t want people to know that we received commodities.  But the food was a godsend during a time that my parents were struggling to keep the farm and feed a large family.  We ate well during those times, supplemented by the garden and orchard, and our chickens and livestock.

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Butchering a pig or cow usually happened in the winter, when the meat could hang and drain without spoiling in the hot weather.  We routinely killed chickens year round as we would eat them right away.  Mom would fry the chicken, grind pork into sausage and also have ribs, pork chops, and bacon.  The cow ended up being steaks and hamburger. Sometimes Mom would can the meat, with the fat rising to the top of the jar.

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In later years, she was not able to garden or process the meat.  Yet it was important to her to have her freezer and pantry filled.  At the end, she had three chest freezers in the basement, two refrigerators, and a huge basement pantry.  She became unable to navigate stairs, and the food sat in the freezers and on the shelves, mummifying.  When it was time to move Mom out of her home, we had to empty those freezers and shelves.  This brought her to tears.

“This food was for you children,” she cried.  “This is your legacy.  You will never be hungry.”

Father, I am so grateful for my mother’s love.  Food was her love language, and she provided for us so well.  Bless those whose hands raise, and prepare food for their families.  Bless those who teach their children how to cook.  We ask that You continue to provide.  Amen.

To God be the Glory,

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Mom and Easter

Just thinking….

Mom loved holidays and celebrating with family. Sometimes that included grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, but because we lived a distance from them, it was usually just us. Easter, however, was one of the holidays that we shared with grandparents.

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During the week before Easter, we decorated our baskets. Now keep in mind that it might not be a BASKET basket. It might be a bowl…. or a paper sack. Usually we had some of the green grassy fluff laying around from a previous Easter to line the “basket”. We would put the “baskets” in various places on Easter Eve. And lo and behold….. the next morning, we found Peeps and jellly beans. There usually was no other candy. and I didn’t care for either, but it was still exciting! Occasionally there would be malted milk balls, which I called molded moth balls.

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We would boil and dye eggs, sometimes using crayons on them to make a waxy resist. We loved seeing how plain food coloring mixed with vingar could make such lovely colors. Later, we would eat the eggs: deviled eggs or egg salad.

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Then we put on our new Easter outfits: a cute dress, little gloves and bonnet, shiny shoes. I hated bonnets. One year, I hated it so much that I sat on it and flattened it. That brought tears to my mom.

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Mom would have a special breakfast for us if we didn’t eat breakfast at church for sunrise service. She would make a round sweet bread ring, and decorate it with frosting and more jelly beans. Usually we went to sunrise service, held in conjunction with two other little country churches, with a fantastic breakfast. So wonderful to be in church as the sun rose, singing “Low in the Grave He Lay”, and “Up From the Grave He Arose”. And of course, smelling that breakfast wafting up from the church basement.

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Unless illness or weather intervened, we would go to my grandparents’ in the next county for lunch. We could always count on Grandma having a big bunny cake centerpiece, the kind made with two round cakes (one cut into the ears and bow tie), and lots of coconut and frosting. And at each of our plates was a special favor: a REAL chocolate egg, with fruit bits, or coconut in it. Now that was more my style for candy.

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Back home, we raided our “baskets”, with my brother snagging the black jelly beans. And woven all thru the holiday were the reminders of Jesus: Jesus in the garden with His disciples, Jesus being betrayed, Jesus led off for conviction, Jesus on the cross, Jesus buried, and Jesus alive again. I didn’t get it all at once, but over time, the message became clear. All the celebration we did was because of our joy in the resurrection!

In later years, Mom began to love doing craft work.  She was always too busy when we were growing up to do much craft work, and the irony is that when she had the time, her eyesight began to fail.  So I devised large scale crafts for her to do.  These pictures are of an Easter bonnet and an egg, for which she tore pieces of paper and glued them on.  I think it was cute….. and she had such a good time!.

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For some reason, Mom loved Peeps. I don’t remember when they first came out, but she was enthralled with those little yellow chicks. Later, there were bunnies, and the color choices expanded. But every Easter we knew that Peeps would be at our table setting, and in the centerpiece. This year, I bought some yellow bunny Peeps early in March so that I would be ready to make my mother smile. But she died before Easter, and the Peeps remained in the cabinet until last night. I could not decide on whether to get them out and have a good cry…. or throw them away….. or….. So I decided to set them out on the table. I didn’t cry. Instead I smiled as I imagined my mom would smile on seeing those sweet little fluffs.

I imagine that every “day” is Easter in Heaven (I know that time will be no more there, so “day” is relative”). But Happy Easter, Mom, in Heaven. See you later!

Father…. I am so grateful for Easter.  All the reminders that Jesus is ALIVE!…. that He is coming AGAIN!…. that I can have ETERNITY!   Yes, even as I look at the little yellow Peeps, I can give You thanks for all that you created, and that it is a reminder that of new birth.  Amen

To God be the Glory,

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Mom and the Massage

Just thinking…..

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“Massage” was not a word Mom used very much….. and when she did, it was not a favorable connotation. She liked “rubs”…. back rubs, shoulder rubs, head rubs. Often she would ask, “Would you rub the back of my neck?” Never did she ask us to rub her feet: no one touched Mom’s feet except the doctor.

I get regular massages due to complications from a car wreck many years ago. When my folks came to visit one time, I was touting the benefits of massage, and then I gave each of my parents a certificate for a massage at the place where I regularly went. Dad was elated. Mom did not think it was a good idea.

“You know about those places,” she murmured. “Not nice people  there.”

Dad chuckled. “She thinks you are taking her to a red light district!”

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So I assured her that it was on the up and up and respectable. We went, and Mom went in first. She was shaking like a leaf. I helped her undress and helped her up on the table. Then I left. The look on her face was of sheer terror.

“It will be fine,” I assured her.

“Just don’t let them touch my feet…..”

When she came out, she smiled. “It was a rub!” she said. “Not bad at all!”

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Two hours or so before my mother died at Hospice, a Hospice volunteer who is a licensed massage therapist, gave my mother a “rub”. He gently massaged her arms, her legs, her shoulders and neck and scalp…. and yes, her feet. She had been restless that day, not really conscious, but the massage settled her and relaxed her. I think it helped her die more peacefully, and I am so grateful for the therapist who voluntarily gave of his time.

I miss giving my mom little massages. I would pick a favorite scent of lotion and make little circles with my finger tips on her fragile skin. She loved the neck and shoulder area the most. Aye….. there’s the rub…..

Father, I thank You for the caring touch given to my mother that eased her into eternity.  May I ever be mindful of those times when I can reach out to comfort others. Amen.

To God be the Glory….

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Mom and the Telephones

Just thinking…..

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The first telephone I remember us having was a big wooden box on the wall in the kitchen. There was a part that stuck out of the front where you talked, a part that you put up to your ear to hear, and then a crank on the right hand side. It was a party line phone, meaning that several families up and down the road could pick up the hearing part and know all your business. Each family had a distinctive ring pattern of long or short rings. So if the Millers had a pattern of one long and two shorts, and we heard that pattern, we could lift up the hearing part, try not breathe loudly into the mouth part, and hear all the gossip. Mom didn’t let us do that. She was busy with all of us kids, the gardens, the chickens and all the other parts of a working farm, and there was no time to spend in chit chat  and eavesdropping on the phone. It was there for emergencies and information only…. and long distance calls were rare, requiring the help of the operator.

The signal for an emergency was a LONG long ring: one that just kept going and going. One time, Mom had taken me into town for my flute lesson. On the way home, she stopped at our friends, the Joneses. Mrs. Jones came running out of the back door, flapping her apron. “Go home! Go home!” she shouted. “Your house is on fire!” Mom turned the car around and threw gravel driving fast toward our house. She kept saying, “Do you see any smoke?”

When we reached our farm house, neighbors were still there, but the fire was out. The chimney had caught on fire. Dad had put the younger kids into the truck and drove it out into the corn field, warning them to stay put. Then he ran back, and cranked up the party line. As neighbors picked up on the emergency ring, he told them to get to Newquist’s…. house on fire. They came, with axes, and buckets and shovels. They chopped a hole in the wall where the chimney was, and poured buckets of water down it. The house was sooty, smokey, wet, with plaster all over the floors. But Mom just gathered us all around, in tears, and we had a group hug. And my parents that night had us do a fire escape drill, and designated a certain tree in the yard as the gathering place.

vintage-rotary-dial-phone-mid-century-StrombergCarlson-wall-phone-with-bell-Laurel-Leaf-Farm-item-no-u3545-1.jpgThat old crank phone gave way to an on-the-wall dial phone with a short cord. There was no privacy on our calls, as we could only walk a couple  feet away from the unit. By this time, we used the phone a little more socially, but Mom was usually right there, listening in to the calls. She always knew who we were talking to and what was said!

Long distance calls were rare and special. They were expensive and we had to watch the clock so that only a few precious minutes and cents were spent. For some reason, Mom thought that since we were talking to people who were further away, that she should up the volume of her voice. No matter how many times we told her that she didn’t need to shout on long distance calls, she still continued to raise her voice.  And because long distance was such a luxury, we had a special signal that we used to let Mom and Dad know that we had arrived safely at our destination:  we called home…. let it ring once…. and hung up.  No charges that way!

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Pay phones were something else to deal with. Mom always made sure I had a dime with me…. just in case…..

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We have some favorite memories of Mom and the phone. She had called a local business, called The Big Bear. That company always answered the phone with, “Good morning (afternoon). This is the Big Bear.” Mom must have mis-dialed. The woman answering the phone did not say those words. That flustered Mom, and she blurted out, “Is this the Big Bear?” There was silence on the other end….. and then the woman said, “Well, I never.” and hung up. We found it hilarious. Another time she called a farm supply store, looking for an electric cattle prod. Once again, she was a bit flustered during the call, and tried to explain to the fellow on the other end that she needed it for her husband. More laughter…..   Another memory:  Mom always cleared her throat several times before answering the phone…. or making a call.  And she didn’t answer with the typical “Hello”,  but rather she said, “Yellow.”   We never figured out why.

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The wall phones and desk phones with the squiggly cords gave way to cell phones. Mom was absolutely taken with the cell phone. By this point in life, the phone was a social need, not just something for emergencies or information. She loved to settle back, and dial her sisters, or her children and chat away. Just think….. no extra charge for long distance! But if she was sitting in Iowa talking to someone in Colorado, she still talked louder.

By the end of her life, Mom spent some time in rehab nursing care. The little cell phone went with her, along with her charger. Her sight meant that someone had to help her dial, and to plug in the charger. Her phone mysteriously got wet. The replacement disappeared, probably accidentally dropped into the trash can. Then she used our phones. We would dial, put it to her ear, and she would smile and start chatting. I think it was a highlight of her day.

Mom never quite mastered the idea that one could be somewhere besides home and still talk on the phone. Sometimes when she would call me, she would say, “You must be home now.” At first I would tell her that no, I was in the car, but my phone was with me. Then I just began to agree. Home was wherever the phone was.

Father, may we never forget the benefits of communication…. with both You and with those we love.  Thank you for the gift of technology and help us to not abuse it.  Amen

To God be the Glory,

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Published in: on April 16, 2018 at 2:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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What Does an “I AM” Look Like, Anyway?

Just thinking….

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I am a visual person. I remember things better when I can see them. I remember lectures better when notes are put on the board or screen. I can describe people, places, things in great detail if I have seen them….. even decades past! So it’s no great surprise that pictures of Jesus help me understand Him and worship Him better.

The problem, of course, is that there were no Kodak moments 2000 years ago. No Canons…. no cell phone cameras. So I have to turn to word pictures. And how wonderful that the WORD gives many pictures of Jesus!

Our pastor this morning spoke of Jesus as the I AM in word pictures, and it intrigued me.

Let’s begin with Exodus 3:13-14.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Note: The name was not “I WAS”…. nor “I WILL BE”. Not even “I MIGHT BE”. It was right now, in the present…. which is exactly when I need Him most!

Then, jumping ahead in time, Jesus made an important series of I AM statements, and these are the exciting images that really stick in my brain. And of course, since God is three parts: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, then it stands to reason that the God of the Old Testament can use the same wording as the Jesus of the New Testament. They are one.

1. I AM BREAD

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John 6: 35. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Bread…. A staple, satisfying, filling, a source of strength. Yes, Jesus is that for me!

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2. I AM LIGHT

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John 8: 12.  When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Light…. Showing me the way, keeping from tripping and danger. Yes, Jesus is that for me!
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3. I AM THE GATE

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John 10: 7. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”

The Gate….. Protecting me from the evils outside. Yes, Jesus is that for me!

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4. I AM THE SHEPHERD

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John 10:11. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The Shepherd….. Knowing what I need, and providing. Knowing when I am in danger, and protecting. Knowing when I am lost, and finding. Knowing when I am off the path, and guiding. Yes, Jesus is that for me!

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5. I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
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John 11:25. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

The Resurrection and Life….. I have watched the first green signs of spring, pushing thru the cold soil……. Have seen corn become life from a seed that died, have observed the lilies which one day were not and then they existed in glory. Yes, Jesus is that for me!
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6. I AM THE WAY….THE TRUTH….THE LIFE

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John 14: 6. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

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The Way…. the Truth…. the Life…. The correct path gets me to my destination.  Anyone who tries to detour me off that path is false, not truth, giving me lies about my destination.  I want that narrow path to eternal life! Yes, Jesus is that for me!
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7. I AM THE VINE

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John 15: 5.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

The Vine…. the connector between the root and the fruit. No fruit is possible without that vine. Yes, Jesus is that for me!

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Sooooo……
When I get all stuck on myself, and huffy in spirit, and thinking I am in control…. When I start to believe that I am the master of my ship, the designer of my own universe, the owner of my body….  When I begin to act like I am charge of my own destiny….  then I lose sight of Jesus as I AM.  I try so often to put myself in this position: I am in charge of my fate.  I am the mastermind. I am the hard worker. And the list goes on.

When I actually believe that I am I AM, then I begin to worship my own intellect, my own power, my own self….. and not put my worship where it belongs.

Father…. help me to remember that it is not all about me. Help me to remember that Jesus is not the the USED TO BE; He is the I AM. Help me worship Him in spirit and in truth.  Forgive me for trying to be the one in charge and for all my misplaced worship. Thank You for all these pictures of Jesus!

To God be the glory…..
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Published in: on October 2, 2017 at 4:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Harvest: A Mystery of Sacrifice and Life

Just thinking…….

What do Willie Loman, Iowa corn and Jesus have in common? Read on….

October.  It’s harvest time here in southern Iowa.  Because of greater than average rainfall this summer, the harvest promises to be bountiful.    As I drive out of town, clouds of dust show where the farmers are working.

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Great machines roll through the fields and huge trucks carry away the grain.  This picture was taken of the harvest on the flat prairie fields in our area, where the corn meets the horizon miles away.

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(Photo by Brenda Burkhiser Jeffers)

The concept of harvest is ancient.  Early civilizations knew the importance of planting and harvesting in order to live.  For centuries, it was painstaking work by hand or with animals.  Even today, the crops are harvested this way by the Amish in our area.

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While modern machinery is huge, it was not long ago that harvesting machinery was relatively modest and not very technical.

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But whether large or small, or ancient or new, the harvest must go on.  It is essential in this circle of life.

My father was a farmer.  His farm was small and hilly.  He worked with small old machinery.  But in the end, he did what farmers have done in the past….. bring in the harvest….. and what farmers do today…… bring in the harvest.

After the spring planting, and as the summer months go by, the farmer eyes the skies, prays for the right amount of rain at the right time, hopes the markets stay steady, readies his machinery and tools, and prepares the trucks, bins and barns.  He chops the weeds that choke out the good grain.  He holds his breath as storm clouds gather in the west.  And then at just the right time, the tractors, combines and corn pickers head out to the fields.

My father would harvest well into the night.  We would take sandwiches and mason jars of water out to the fields for him.   There was a narrow window of time between rains where he could safely harvest .  I remember times when it rained too much, turning the fields into mud pits.  And Dad had to wait until the ground froze to finish the harvest.

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Despite  growing up on a farm and knowing the drama of the farm, I did not become a farmer.  I became a teacher, instructing my students in literature, composition, speech, theater, and journalism.  It was a different kind of drama.   One of my favorite pieces to discuss with my students was Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.    Willie Loman was tragic, and as a farmer’s daughter, I could see some aspects of Willie’s actions that my city students could not see.

Corn.   How did it go from this  th-9

to this corn sprout

to this  cornplant

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to this  th-5.

None of it could happen if the kernel did not die.  The kernel had to be put into the dark soil, with the right amount of heat and moisture, and then the kernel died.   Out of that death, came the sprout that developed into the stalk of corn.

Willie Loman understood this cycle of life.  He had spent his life in failure: failure as a father, failure as a faithful husband, and failure as a salesman.  His past was painful, his present was fragile and he could not see a future.  In his horribly distorted reasoning, he decided to plant a garden.  It is dark, and he traces rows in the small yard which receives little sunlight.  He drops in the seeds, mumbling to himself about giving his sons another chance.  In a few minutes, Willie will leave home and have a deliberate car accident.  He dies, like the seed.  His damaged mind  had begun to equate the seed, dying in order to bring new life,  with his death, which he believed would bring new life to his no-good sons.willieloman

Willie had an idea of this circle of life, but he left out one very important part:  his life insurance.   He did not pay his premium.   And so his sacrifice of himself came to nothing.  There would be no life insurance to give his sons a new start in life.  There would be no harvest.

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Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!.”  (John 4:35)

I don’t know what grain Jesus might have been referring to in this verse.  th-6  Here in Iowa, whether it is corn, wheat, or beans, the plants get lighter and lighter as the harvest approaches.  The fields are no longer green.  But Jesus was not referring to plants; he was referring to a world filled with people who needed to know about Him.  Look!  There they are!  Go and harvest!

I’ve been going in a few different directions with this concept of harvest.

 Let me try to tie the strands together.  

1.  When the kernel of corn dies, there is a sacrifice of form.  The corn no longer is the intact kernel.  But the result of that sacrifice (the harvest) cannot occur without the preparation and wisdom of the farmer.  And even there, the farmer must make his own sacrifices of time and labor in order to bring in the crop.

2.  When Willie Loman died, there was a sacrifice of life.  His body and soul were no longer intact.  But the desired harvest of that sacrifice would not happen because Willie had not prepared with wisdom concerning his life insurance.

3.  When Christ died on the cross, there was a sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16).   The fields of humans are ready for His message of life.  But that complete harvest won’t happen without the preparation of believers to share Christ’s message.  And  yes, it calls for sacrifice on the part of believers:  sacrifice of money, time, and labor.

Harvest.  Life.  Sacrifice.  It’s all one.   The sacrifice of one seed to bring forth many seeds, which will continue to nurture life.  The sacrifice of One who was both God and man,  to bring forth many people into eternal life.

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O Father…..   Let me not be a Willie Loman, understanding some aspects of life, but not grasping the part that would give meaning to his sacrifice.  Let me not be a Willie Loman, operating in darkness and not in light.  Let me not be a Willie Loman, who lacked wisdom and preparation for the harvest he desired.  Father, equip me with Your wisdom.  Give me courage to go to the harvest, and not let Christ’s death be for nothing.  

To God Be The Glory…..

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