“Thanks to God for my Redeemer”: My Childhood’s Refrain

November 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

Every Thanksgiving Day in my childhood and youth my Dad would drive us down from Phinney Ridge through Ballard and up 24th Avenue  to Loyal Heights where the square brick Philadelphia Church stands with its neon “Jesus Saves” sign leaving no doubt of its theology. A man who thought carefully about what he shared, he always came prepared to give a testimony in that Thanksgiving service. For testimonies of what people were thankful for were the heart and soul of that service, not preaching. When Dad talked he told a little story, like the storyteller he was, and then at the very end he’d pull out a succinct point, an application, a truth that tied it all together. When I was in my teens, I sometimes shared in that service as well, a scripture, or something else I was thankful for. And then we’d go home with that full  and satisfied feeling that comes with expressing gratefulness to the turkey dinner Mom was preparing.

What I recall from those days, besides my father’s stories, was the congregation singing with all their hearts “Thanks to God for My Redeemer.” It just wasn’t Thanksgiving without it. The beloved Swedish hymn was first a poem published in the December 5, 1891 War Cry by August Ludvig Storm of Motala, Sweden who was converted to Christ in a Salvation Army meeting and became an officer in the Salvation Army Corps. The tune that we sing was by J. A. Hultman and became popular both in Sweden and the United States. At 37 August Storm was crippled by a severe back ailment, but at the end of his life was still writing poems of thanks to God.

Here is the translated version of “Thanks to God for My Redeemer” we’ll sing in our little church on Sunday (with a little adjustment on the “thees” and “thous”), connecting us with that long line of loved ones who have sung it through the generations.

“Thanks to God for my Redeemer,

Thanks for all Thou dost provide.

Thanks for times now but a memory,

Thanks for Jesus by my side.

Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,

Thanks for dark and stormy fall.

Thanks for tears by now forgotten,

Thanks for peace within my soul.

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,

Thanks for what Thou dost deny.

Thanks for storms that I have weathered,

Thanks for all Thou dost supply.

Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,

Thanks for comfort in despair.

Thanks for grace that none can measure,

Thanks for love beyond compare.

Thanks for roses by the wayside,

Thanks for thorns their stems contain.

Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,

Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain.

Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,

Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee.

Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,

Thanks through all eternity.”

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m hoping you will find as many things to thank God for as August Ludvig Storm did, no matter what is happening in your life.

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

The Brothers Three

July 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

Plans were made in January, adjoining campsites reserved. Six months later the three brothers, and their assorted wives (one each) convened just outside Yellowstone in Wyoming. A motorhome came from Wisconsin, a 5th-wheel from Colorado and a trailer from Washington State to converge on a wooded campground on the doorstep of the national park. And then the cooking and eating began, and the laughing and talking. Stories from childhood were traded back and forth with nuances added and subtracted, and plenty of, “Do you remember when …?” The family resemblance was clear in the shape of their noses, shoulders and the way they all stood together in a semi-circle over the campstove, two with hands in their pockets, and the third wielding a spatula. Thirteen years separates the oldest and the youngest, and there’s two and a half years between the two oldest. Life has taken all three in different directions, but the bond is strong between the brothers and the sister who could not be there.

The touring done, the rodeo attended, the Cody, WY 4th of July parade enjoyed, the last meal eaten together and the fireside extinguished. It was time to head home or move on to other locations. The brothers, and the wives of their youth, held hands in a circle and the oldest brother thanked God for the heritage and faith of their mother and father and prayed a blessing. Tears filled eyes, and gratefulness. It was like Psalm 133:1 so beautifully says, “How good and how pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity” (NIV).

Plans for another reunion next year were tentatively made. But each one knew that plans must be loosely held. God alone knows the future … the same God who has preserved and guided and blessed the brothers three until this day.

copyright Inger Logelin 2011

My Father: a Study in Contrasts

June 19, 2011 § 5 Comments

Father in his king's guard uniform

My dad was like a bachelor who had been plopped in the middle of a family and wondered how he got there. He married my mother who was twelve years younger when he was a confirmed bachelor in his thirties. They met in northern Norway at the children’s home/mission house where they volunteered. She rode off on her bicycle to teach Sunday school in outposts with her guitar strapped on her back, and he was a carpenter, a speaker, played the mandolin in the meetings and was popular with the young ladies.

     He enjoyed solitude, fishing, reading and thinking at home but was often the life of the party when he was in a group. Sent to live with his grandmother and grandfather for a time in Vikanes, Norway when he was young and his father was working in South Dakota, he absorbed the strict rhythm of his elderly grandparents’ days.
     In his youth he learned carpentry, fished for eels in the fjords of Norway and served in the king’s guard. Pioneering was in his blood, as it had been in his father’s. He got “America fever” and he moved us to Seattle from Eikanger, near Bergen, Norway when I was six and a half. We arrived in Seattle, and settled into Ballard with the $35 he had left in his wallet. He got on the bus with his tools in a canvas bag and found work as a carpenter, started saving, bought an old  house and a used car the first year we were here, and went on to successfully build and sell houses.
     Good with babies, he could relate to us four children when we were small, but found it more difficult  when we were older, especially with his sons. We were noisy, unruly and full of life. His no talking at the table rule was hard to enforce. He had a strictly adhered to breakfast diet, with one egg, fried hard, two slices of brown bread in the morning, with cheese and jam, and one white. He always ate butter, while we children ate margerine and didn’t question why. His favorite meals were potatoes and meatballs or potatoes and fish. During the week he ended his meals with home canned peaches or pears, but on Sunday he had to have fruit pudding with cream.
     When I became an adult I treasured talking things over with my dad, but not when I was young. I discovered when I was older that he had a lot of wisdom and a sardonic wit. Many of his friends treasured talking to him as well. They would come and tell dad how well they were doing … what they were building … how fishing was going … what they had accomplished, as if they wanted his approval. When he had the chance to share in church or with the groups of Norwegian friends, his stories were memorable and welcomed.
     He was physically strong, working as a carpenter until he was 70, and winning an arm wrestling contest with my 6’6″ older brother when Dad was 65. Strong too were his Christian principles and habits. He read his Norwegian Bible daily. Thrifty beyond my appreciation, I found it torture to get a dollar of spending money from him. But, he was generous with missionaries and mission projects. Eternity only will tell who he helped and encouraged.
     I always knew my father loved me, but he was never able to say it in words. He showed me by the little corner of his fried egg that he left on his breakfast plate for me to find when I came downstairs in the morning. That little bit of cold egg was enough to tell me my father was thinking of me and loved me.
     He died at 90 in 1996. But it was too soon. I miss talking to him and those treasured bits of fried eggs.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

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