I Can Only Imagine….

Last Friday I streaked across Oklahoma toward Corn. Following a labyrinth of highways for almost 400 miles, through Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Memories followed me as I headed to my cousin’s house. The hills, with just a few trees, stretched my eyes as I gazed toward the horizon in the distance. Clouds dotted the skies playing peek-a-boo with the sun. A family reunion, first with my cousin, Johanna and her husband, Edwin, The next day, back to Oklahoma City for a visit with more cousins, 2nd cousins and 3rd cousins. What would it be like? How have my cousins changed? Surely, I haven’t changed.

What did my Grosmom Emilie Siemens think as she rode a wagon from Inman, Kansas, to Corn. The horses slowly plodded on as she thought about her new life in a new place. Did she remember coming from Russia to America? Did she wonder how she could live in such a barren place? The one thing I remember about Grosmom is her curiosity about everything about her. I can see her black eyes darting back and forth over the terrain. I know she was filled with hope and dreams for the future. Her handsome husband was gifted with words – able to ‘call’ a sale or preach the Word of God with proficiency. With his blue eyes, he beheld his petite Emilie and her laughing black eyes with joy for he loved her. They did manage with less and yet raised four sons and one daughter that also were filled with the joy of living and faith in God. Family – a lovely word!

The last six miles south of Corn seemed to take forever. I saw wheat fields and wondered as snippets of

memory careened through my mind. Remembering the tornado that dislodged Uncle John and Aunt Liz’s house from its foundations. I remembered staying with Grosmom Siemens in Corn when I was very young. I learned to say Hi-Hoopa to get a molasses cookie from the tin slide lid on the drawer in the kitchen. I remembered Grosmom picking sassfras from her driveway to make tea. The taste of cold watermelon and Rollkocka slipped through my mind. Dad always waited until watermelon was 2 Cents a pound before he would buy any. On one visit to Grosmom Siemens, Johanna and Jim, my brother, disappeared. They went on a fishing trip in the creek west of Corn armed with a ‘hairpin’ hook and string. Florence, at 15, took us for a ride toward Corn. I noticed she closed her eyes as she drove when a car speeded toward us. When my brothers, Jim and Gene, were old enough they worked in the wheat fields for Uncle John.

I don’t remember when the 5 cent, 12 inch & 1 inch diameter peppermint sticks stopped, but we grandchildren always looked forward to the feast of pepperminted sugar at Christmas time from Grosmom. Uncle Jake and Aunt Marie moved to Fairview – Uncle Dick cut hair, farmed and raised horses; Uncle Johnny and Aunt Matilda became city folks (maybe because Uncle Johnny didn’t like his ride on the ‘slop barrel’ on the way to feed the pigs); my Dad, Herman and Anna Daisy, after teaching school in Hooker, OK, moved to Clinton to work in the post office; Aunt Liz and Uncle John Reimer left Clinton to live in Corn. The large white church with interminable steps leading to the entrances of the Mennonite Church, is no more. In its place is a round brick building to house worshippers.

On Saturday, the reunion began at 11 am, in Oklahoma City. Soon the room was filled with about 100 of the Siemens family. Five first cousins – four were unable to attend. Then the second cousins numbered eleven. Third cousins abounded.

As the reunion progressed, I could only imagine what Jacob V and Emilie Brunn Siemens would think of their family now. Are we following their example of faithfulness to Jesus Christ even as Jacob and Emilie were? Grosmom, who was astonished at a simple hand egg beater…what would she think of the swiftness of communication, the speed of travel, the ease of our lives or the convenience of full grocery store shelves. So many changes.

Yet, there is one constant – our faith in Jesus Christ. July 22, 2008, I wrote: A family reunion here on earth is filled with memories built on unconditional love – an oasis of laughter, tears, prayer and songs of praise to our Father. Laughter of children, a welcome of each new member through weddings and their new babies enrich the family as they are nurtured. Recipes are handed down through the generations. There is a sense of belonging. And we remember the lives of great-great grandparents back through the generations with an examination of selves and the paths we choose today. No matter how we remember the past, live in the today, the future is what intrigues us and motivates us to continue on. The future belongs to our Lord.

And so it is in God’s Family. Because of Jesus and his sacrifice, we can know His love here on earth. We remember what God has done for each of us as we continue on, even as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego remembered the steadfastness of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David, and were strengthened in their resolve to follow the God.

The Great Reunion is coming when Jesus comes again. The Family of God will be brought together – in the Oasis of Unconditional Love of our Lord and Master. The Family of God – what a beautiful phrase of the promise of joy.

I can only imagine

What my eyes will see

When your face

Is before me

I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel

Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in honor of you be still?

Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine

I Can Only Imagine

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