As a child whenever I woke up with a bad dream, Mom said to think about lovely things. Think about pretty things, things that are beautiful.” In the midst of my tussle with scary and bad things, nothing looked beautiful to me. I challenged Mom, “What is beautiful?” She enumerated a dozen at least, things that were beautiful to her. She taught me to recognize the characteristics of the beautiful and the lovely. Each characteristic becomes a blessing.

She was my first teacher and continues to be. Even now, as scenarios of the past play through my head, I hear her voice, just when I need it. Her list of beauty then centered in her garden. The hues and shapes of flowers that bloomed in that garden were beautiful and she taught me their beauty. I remember when she skipped, yes, skipped, from the garden with fresh snap peas in her hands, “Here, taste this. These are so crunchy and sweet!”

Or picking off a ripe persimmon from the tree, “Here, taste this.” It was years before I learned that eating the first strawberries of the season, small slices of a few strawberries and divided between a family of five could be such a blessing and taste of spring. (Pictured to the left – Grandmother Suderman joins in the gardening work…)

Mom continued the process of finding joy in beauty, as she aged. I noticed that beauty extended to stitches in a quilt, sewing and finishing a garment, a row of homegrown, home-canned fruits and vegetables on the shelves in the Siemens Cellar (so designated by my brothers with brown shoe polish above the entrance under the backyard Elm Tree). How much Dad and Mom enjoyed their garden of flowers, vegetables and fruit in Clinton and Watonga.

Then came the Shades of Purple Mural on her living room wall. She loved the royal color, and began a huge wall painting of tall mountains, a stream, trees, all in soft shades of purple. A young piano-student helped her paint her dream mural. She loved painting and drawing, taking an art class at the junior college in her 80’s. She combined another love – words – and combined poetry with her art.

Why did Mom, Anna Daisy, continue to explore and study beauty? Why did she apply what she learned? She found the secret of life in intentional living – in focusing her mind on what is beautiful physically and spiritually.

I remember the day clearly when she gave me a scripture as I prepared for a day as an educator, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12. Another lesson learned about the ‘whatevers’.

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

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7a

II Corinthians 5b – and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5b.

This is an intentional living strategy. This is not WHATever living…but Philippians 4:8 living.

WHATever living is laissez-faire living. (do-nothing policy, for the most, free enterprise, free hand, inaction, indifference, individualism, live and let live).

WHATever living is like sailing through life without a rudder of faith, listing from one port to another with no real destination in mind.

Intentional living is aligning to our Creator – for Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is our reality and our rudder to guide us through this life to live with Him when He calls us home. This living has meaning and an everlasting foundation of stability in a world of change.

Robert Browning wrote – “Ah, but a man’s reach must exceed his grasp. Or what is heaven for?”

Mom, Anna Daisy, lived by the Whatevers…. of Philippians 4:8…. and received the peace that passes understanding. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Was Mom perfect? No, but she was perfect-fully real in Christ. And through Mom, I see Jesus! Thank you, Mom, for a gift without measure.

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