Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    47
  • comments
    23
  • views
    4,925

About this blog

Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

Entries in this blog

Linda Roorda

It doesn’t take much to realize that greater strength lies in the cord of several strands twined together rather than a single strand alone.  And so it is with marriage.
 

Marriage is often compared to this tightly woven cord of three strands though, admittedly, at times our strands were not as tightly woven as they should have been.  But, isn’t that how we grow wiser, learning from experience?  When we’re individually joined in marriage, we become a couple.  I believe God created us distinctly men and women, establishing the marriage union first with Adam and Eve.  As we read in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.’”  And in this, God joins the two to become a more efficient unit.  As a couple, our differences or weaknesses are strengthened ; and, as we work together, we complement each other.

 

In joining our hearts, we are also united with God in a holy union, like a cord of three strands for greater strength.  And we find biblical wisdom demonstrates this very point:  “If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:10a, 12)

 

Married in 1974 by Rev. Robert W. DeVries from Rochester, NY overseeing our Owego Christian Reformed Church, one of his examples was that if we attempt to do things in our own strength we will often fail.  As a couple, we have a better chance to succeed in facing this journey of life when united in a common goal.  But, an even stronger bond is created by the triangle formed as we keep God at the top with the lower horizontal points balanced by each of us as husband and wife. 

 

“‘Haven’t you read,’ [Jesus] replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female… For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)

 

For me and Ed, our marriage is especially close and strong when God is at the center of our relationship, so intertwined that we acknowledge Him in all we do.  In seeking God’s wisdom through prayer on this journey, we find the answers we need to overcome obstacles and move forward in His will.  

 

Like bookends, anniversaries hold between them the memories of our lives.  And October 26 marks our 45th anniversary.  Our love has seen us through both difficult and happy days as the decades witnessed change and growth within ourselves and our family.  I’ve often said I wish I knew then what I know now, but God grew us each in unique ways as our tiny infants matured into the young adults He intended them, and us, to become.  And though the years witnessed much sadness, including Ed’s disabilities and the loss of our oldest daughter at 25 years, the Lord also blessed our family with much joy and peace.

 

As part of our vows, Edward promised me his deepest love, unselfish devotion and tenderest care.  He promised to direct our lives into a path of faith and hope in Christ as a faithful husband, no matter what lay ahead.  Expressing deepest joy, I came into a new life with him as my husband, loving him, learning from him, and seeking to please him.  As God had prepared me for him, I vowed to strengthen, comfort and encourage him, no matter what lay ahead.  Though imperfect, we sure tried!

 

But I will admit that I have not always sought God first.  As alluded to in my poems and blogs, life is not an easy road... at least it has not been for us, and I have to fight the desire to take the reins myself.  Maybe it has something to do with being the oldest of six, and, with my husband’s disabilities, being responsible for much.  Instead, I need to release that tendency and give control to the Lord.

 

Over the years, we learned true love cannot remain the same; without growth it ceases to exist.  Yet, how often don’t we find that love grows by facing those difficulties of life together… the hard times which can either draw two hearts closer or tear them asunder.  Love must be nurtured and fed, and given room to grow and expand horizons in order to complement and care for each other. 

 

True love is all about teamwork that strengthens bonds.  True love is a choice to remain committed to vows made before God on a joyous wedding day… because the tough times will come. We’ve been there.  And those tough days will attempt to tear apart bonds once considered unbreakable… offering an easy way out to a seemingly better life.  Little tears can either become permanent scars that irritate, or be scars which evidence the soul’s healing to bring wisdom and understanding with peace and a deeper love.

 

True love is also about making sacrifices… thinking more highly of our spouse than ourself… carrying the one who stumbles or becomes ill long term… opening up in total honesty with mutual respect and trust, extending forgiveness and grace with arms open wide… for true love grows deeper as the foundation is strengthened.  As the words flow when writing a poem (and later writing its reflection), I find the Lord speaking to my heart… imparting His truth and wisdom.  Coming from a family whose parents divorced amidst dysfunction, I’m thankful for the Lord’s guiding hand through life’s difficulties. 

 

In writing the poem below, I had no idea there was a ministry named for the “God’s Knot or Cord of Three Strands”.  Simply searching for the verse above which referenced the strands of three, I came across a ministry that provides three cords on a golden ring for the bride and groom to braid as a symbol of God’s presence intertwined in their marriage. 

 

What a beautiful reminder of our Lord’s presence among us!  Contemplating the sturdy cord made from three strands, it becomes clear we are not as easily pulled asunder when the Lord is intertwined within our marriage.  United thus, we can better resist and withstand the temptations and trials which inevitably come our way.  

 Strands of Three

Linda A. Roorda 

The day I said I do to you

Was the day we joined our hearts as one

Thinking we only were thus entwined

The Lord made three for a tight-knit bond.

 

When young we think our love holds secure

It’s all we need to face the great world

With hopes and dreams and wide-eyed innocence

We’re an open book, invincible team.

 

You let me know how great was your love

You’d never let me wander alone

You took my hand as we walked this path

Lit from above by wisdom’s grace.

 

Yet there were times we could not see

Life’s toughest road around the corner

Devoid of help or so it had seemed

We could only grasp the three-stranded cord.

 

Together we stood as the storms hit hard

When winds blew fierce like gales at sea

You held me close with a calming peace

Protecting my heart from disaster’s fate.

 

You set me free on a mountain peak

Your love released my soul to new heights

That with your gift others I may bless

For love is meant to be given away.

 

And so I sing as the love we share

Brings grace to each in the time of need

For who are we mercy to withhold

When the Lord above is woven within.

 

No matter the test when focus is held

Our loving Lord gives mercy and grace

For our journey’s steps reflect strength within

When our hearts are twined as strands of three.

~~

Jan 2015 - 05/22/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

Linda Roorda

I suspect we’ve all heard, “There but for the grace of God go I.”  Truth be told, I think we all know how true those words are.  This world has so much to offer with all of its enticements… and how easy it is for any one of us to be swayed aside… but for the wisdom found in God’s word.  

 

I’m thankful to God for preserving me from being enticed to follow a path that seemed so good, so right when younger… which, in reality, would lead to destruction.  Studying the book of Proverbs in Sunday School was an eye opener.  Oh, I’ve read it before, but have not studied it verse by verse in a class setting with a good instructor like our pastor.  Here, the wisdom of Israel’s King Solomon is directly before us as he speaks to his son(s) and daughter(s), his children… us… me.  And, knowing his life’s story, the reading becomes even more poignant. 

 

When King David died, his son, Solomon, took over the reign.  In a dream, God told Solomon to ask for anything.  Rather than great riches, the humble king asked for wisdom with which to rule.  I sure hope I would have thought to ask for that!  In granting his request, the Lord gave Solomon not only great wisdom beyond compare, but also great riches.  There was no one like him before or since.

 

To know the rest of the story is to understand that, although Solomon began his reign intending to follow God’s precepts, he was soon swayed by the world’s enticements.  From humble and wise beginnings, Solomon gradually took to himself 700 wives and 300 concubines, allowing worship altars to be built for all their various gods.  And it wasn’t long before this worship by his wives of their pagan gods also contributed to an undermining of his own faithful worship of the one true God.

 

In studying the great and powerful words of wisdom in Proverbs, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that at the end of his life, Solomon realized how far he had fallen.  His had been a life of great riches with glory and fame following wherever his wisdom and searching soul led him, and he was left to ponder at what he had gained. 

 

Believed to have also been written by Solomon, Ecclesiastes begins:  “The word of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:  Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.  What does man gain from all his labor...?  …I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven.  What a heavy burden God has laid on men!  I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Eccl. 1:1, 2, 13, 14)

 

Understanding that he had pursued all that which wisdom had to offer in this life, it appears the Teacher, presumably Solomon, was not afraid to admit it had all been for naught.  His conclusion, instead, was that there was a purpose to be found in the relationship with his, and our, one true God.  For, in the end, the Teacher concluded, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…and the spirit returns to God who gave it… Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  (Eccl. 12: 1, 7, 13)

 

And these were the thoughts which came to mind as I reflected on this poem well after it was written.  Not one of us can say we are sin free.  Assuredly, we haven’t committed major crimes.  But, deep inside, in all honesty, our heart is not always pure as we struggle in our human attempts to follow a perfect Lord.  We, a product of this world, tend to seek our own way in our daily walk – and I know my own bent.  And I am so thankful that He pursues us with a never-ending boundless love.

 

May I learn from Solomon’s wisdom, and from his mistakes, and humbly bow my heart to our Lord.  May I learn to follow His words of wisdom, and His will for my life, wherever He may lead… for “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalm 119:105 NIV) 

Your Word

Linda A. Roorda

 

Your word is like a comforting hand

Within the midst of stress-filled days

It calms the heart and soothes the soul

To find a peace within Your embrace.

 

Your word is like a sharpened sword

It pierces the soul with words brought to mind

Causing a change when nothing else can

Instructing me, Your wisdom to heed.

 

Your word is like a beautiful scene

That greets my eyes, tranquil and serene

It points to You, Creator of all

Showing Your power and infinite might.

 

Your word is like a solid rock

Unshakeable with its absolute truth

Lasting forever, foundation secure

Its wisdom gained to guide and to lead.

 

Your word is like the calm after storms

When winds blow fierce and clouds gather dark

As rain pours down to freshen this world

So to the soul are Your words of peace.

 

Your word is like a beautiful bud

Daily growing under sun and rain

It opens wide with petals of silk

To show the world its hidden glory.

 

Your word is like a fine sunny day

With healing warmth down deep in the soul

It broadens faith, shines light on wisdom

And illumine steps to direct my path.

~~

10/27/14

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

I love to sew!  And to think it all started in 7th grade Home Ec sewing class in Clifton, NJ.  Making a simple A-line skirt and a beach wrap (displayed on the wall by the teacher) were the humble beginnings of better things to come. 

 

With my mom too busy with a new baby brother to teach me more, my dad’s mother took me under her wings.  A former professional seamstress, Grammy helped me sew a western shirt, not an easy project with those angled points, and taught me well to use the seam ripper.  I learned to rip out my mistakes, start over, and make it right!  After all, in making life mistakes, it’s how we accept correction or change that makes all the difference.  So, when I tried to make a quilt on my own, totally wrong, my Grammy taught me the correct way.  She gifted me with several fabrics as I made a cardboard template to cut out 6-inch squares.  Laying the fabric squares out on the living room floor, I set them in a pattern.  I then sewed up the long strips, and sewed each long strip side by side.  My mother gave me a flannel sheet for the lining and a white sheet for the backing, and voila! I had just made my first quilt!  With that success, Grammy then gifted me with fabric every Christmas over several years for yet more skirts and dresses. 

 

After my family moved to Lounsberry, NY in 1969, I bought a c.1900 treadle machine that my auctioneer cousin, Howard, was selling for only $3.  My dad oiled it, fixed the tension, got a new leather belt for the wheels, and my sewing obsession took off.   More skirts, suits and dresses were made on that treadle machine to carry me through high school, including my prom gown and wedding gown. 

 

Turning 20 on my first birthday after we married, my husband bought me a new Singer electric sewing machine!  And oh, if it could talk, the miles of thread and fabric it has sewn in clothes for myself, shirts for my husband, clothes for my children, and tiny clothes for their dolls.  And, now, using this same sewing machine, I’ve been making quilts in log cabin and prairie window designs, along with simple and more detailed table runners.  And I wish my dear Grammy could see them for she taught me well!

 

Have you known that feeling of contentment as you worked to create something of value for yourself or others?  Have you known what it feels like to be so engrossed in a project that you lose all sense of time?  Have you known the frustration of having to take the time to rip out a seam, or correct something that just wasn’t right?  And, because you did so, you then felt the satisfaction of seeing your finished project in all its beauty?

 

This poem was written in a reflective moment, remembering that various hardships and testing over the years have helped to define character and create who we are deep in our soul.  I may not want to face the trials which might be coming in the future; but, in looking back, neither can I imagine life without the hardships we have worked through – for they refine our life and shape us for the better. 

 

And I can’t help but realize that the Lord knows what He’s doing as He works His will through those trials which He allows each of us to face.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...” (Romans 8:28, NIV)  For through these difficulties, He shapes and molds us into the unique and special person He means for us to be.

 

The Master Tailor

Linda A. Roorda

As the seamstress sits and begins to sew

Her loving care goes into each stitch

And correlation stirs within her thoughts

Of the Creator’s design deep in her soul.

 

In her mind’s eye she sees it take shape

From simple concept to finished result

And beams with joy, her dream made complete

As she holds with pride her creation dear.

 

But what the world just cannot see

Are errors which loomed about to destroy

For outward beauty can never reveal

The seam ripper’s hand in disciplined cuts.

 

When I beheld what the seamstress had wrought

I could not miss the significant key

Of one who deftly shaped my own soul

From even before my life came to be.

 

The Master Tailor gazed into the future

And pondered the me who I should be.

He planned and designed each path for my good

As He cut and sewed the fabric of me.

 

He carefully stitched and eased the seams

And reigned in penchants of wayward threads,

But now and then along the way

The seam ripper’s edge He gently employed.

 

For don’t you see without the hardships

Life’s burdens and pain cannot reflect

The greater good down deep in my heart

As seam ripper cuts shape my will to His.

 

On a journey I am, a work in progress

For someday when my time has come

He’ll gaze upon His workmanship

And see exactly who He planned me to be.

 ~~

09/10/13 

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

We search for fun, happiness, joy, peace and love in many places and in many ways… and sometimes we search in vain… for what we don’t know.  Been there… done that.  But did you know that our hearts are born to seek?  All the while we grow up and mature, we’re seeking and learning, trying to find our place in this great big world.

 

We wonder if our life makes a difference.  Does anyone care?  What is our value, and how is it measured?  To prove our worth, we may seek wealth, fame, praise, prestige, power… and often think we’ve found it in relationships and possessions.  In reality, our search for true peace and joy has nothing to do with these things.  That’s where the world finds its value. 

 

So, we carry on, as our hearts continually seek something better to fill the void in our soul.  In reality, we’re “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” as the song says.  (“Looking for love” sung by Johnny Lee, written by Wanda Mallette, Patti Ryan and Bob Morrison; 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy.”)

 

And we keep searching until we realize the something that’s missing is ultimately only found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:33)  For God created us and put within our hearts a longing for Him… because, as our creator, He desires to have a close relationship with us.  He wants us to give up our futile searching.  He wants us to give up the world’s false security, our pride, and our faith in all the petty trinkets which hold no eternal value… to gain something far more valuable when we put Him first in our lives.

 

As we search for God and focus on Him and His love for us, we find that the Apostle Paul’s words “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” say it all.  (Galatians 2:20)  For as we seek His will in our lives, we discover that our purpose, our joy and our peace, can come only from God.  Like C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Problem of Pain” … “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” 

 

In seeking and finding our Lord, it’s then that the void in our heart and soul is filled… with a peace that only God can give.  Our eyes are opened and we see the Lord’s loving hand working through us as we become more like Him… especially, it seems, through the toughest of times.  For so often, that’s when our faith grows deeper as we draw closer to our Lord, and rest in His comforting words of wisdom… His loving embrace.

 

After teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)  As I searched… I found.

 

I Searched

Linda A. Roorda

In vain I searched the corners of life

As my heart yearned for what it did not know

But might it be the world cannot give

The depth of peace as You hold my soul.

~

In pleasures I searched for the hint of fun

The best this world could ever offer

But disillusioned it caught me up short

When softly I heard Your voice fill the void.

~

In hope I searched for one to carry

For I had fallen from heights I had claimed

Then helped was I by a tender soul

One filled with grace from mercy’s blest store.

~

In silence I searched away from life’s noise

Seeking Your voice in solitude’s calm

Within my prayers Your words then echoed

As You called to me in a still small voice.

~

In forest I searched midst towering trees

For there was I enveloped by peace

And as the sun broke through the dark depths

It mirrored the Son whose light pierced my soul.

~

In valleys I searched along gentle streams

Till gazing upward to towering peaks

Majestic splendor was captured in view

Of stunning vistas, creation’s glory.

~

In faces I searched Your image to find

Those with a heart of compassion true

The humble and meek without prideful boast

Till one in tatters lent a hand to me.

~

In faith I searched for the living truth

Of One whose claims have captured my heart

For my soul was cleansed when You took my place

Lifting me up to heights of Your love.

~

In children I searched for innocence sweet

The gift of love not lost in their eyes

Like arms open wide are their hearts and souls

Freely they give without asking more.

~

In love I searched for the best in You

Someone to hold and treasure for life

To carry my dreams on the wings of time

As ever I cling to faith, hope and love.

~

With joy I found all this and more

As my heart sang out its praises of You

For is it not true that blessings are mine

From the depth of peace as You hold my soul.

~~

10/07/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

Looking forward to the weekend, I find that once I get there, the chores on my list seem to never end.  There’s no escape!  They need to be taken care of… though I’d much rather enjoy a respite with my hobbies – sewing, gardening, taking a walk, or just relaxing on a bench in my gardens enjoying nature's beauty and listening to the birds.  But, the demands of responsibilities like paying bills, laundry, cleaning, baking, etc. all take precedence over “play time”… which I then savor as my treat, like dessert, after the necessaries have been properly take care of.

 

Proverbs 31 and the excellent wife… a woman more valuable than the most beautiful and precious gem.  Her accomplishments in caring for her husband and family are deserving of great reward.  “A wife of noble character who can find?”  [Prov. 31:1 NIV]

 

This excellent and virtuous woman embodies all we could ever want or hope to be.  She not only excels in the care of her home and family, but she also excels outside the home in the business world.  Her husband trusts her completely, knowing that she has his good at heart.  And, with the knowledge of her support, he earns great respect in his own business arena.  The excellent wife and mother cares about her family as well as those in her employ.  She has wisdom, empathy and mercy… with a loving and discerning heart to meet their needs.  She provides for her family’s future; and, knowing all that she has done in advance, she can smile or even laugh at the hardships which will inevitably come. 

 

On the other hand, I am well aware that I simply don’t measure up.  Though I sure try, I so often fail.  On verbalizing my thoughts of failure to our Sunday School class while studying this chapter a while back, I discovered I wasn’t alone in those feelings.  But, Pastor kindly reminded us all that that is where God’s loving forgiveness and grace comes in… as we pick ourselves back up and try again with our Lord always at our side. 

 

Our excellent wife, or even a single woman, also embodies the wisdom found in the whole book of Proverbs, intended for each of us… a wisdom in its entirety which I do not have.  Left to my own devices, I revert back to thinking I can handle life all on my own, thank you very much.  But, knowing that I don’t measure up, Proverbs 31 reminds me whose wisdom and discernment I need to seek to guide me daily… even on a minute-by-minute basis.  And with my Lord’s guidance, I am more prepared to face the world and all of life’s demands.

An Excellent Wife

(Based on Proverbs 31)

Linda A. Roorda

An excellent wife is of matchless worth.

Priceless she is, more valued than gems.

Her husband trusts completely in her

And knows her heart as she gives her best.

~

She chooses well, her hands work with skill

She shops with knowledge to find the best deals.

She wakes before dawn her household to feed

Eager to serve those under her care.

~

She ponders wisely when purchasing land

And gains a profit from crops she has raised.

The money she’s earned in turn will be used

Grapevines to buy, others to employ.

~

With physical strength she tackles her tasks

She knows what to do and pitches right in.

She presents for sale her quality goods

To ensure her home no lack or need knows.

~

In one hand she holds the needs of her home

And with her fingers she carries out plans.

When storms descend her heart is fearless

For she’s prepared, her family protected.

~

Blankets she makes, fine clothing she sews

Remnants she uses, no wasting supplies.

Her crafts to sell, a profit to gain

That gifts she may give as others are blessed.

~

Her husband is admired by all those he meets,

As he holds a place among the respected.

Strength and dignity cover her well

She smiles with peace at trials to come.

~

In wisdom she rests when speaking her mind

Her instructing words show kindness and love.

She keeps her focus when running her home

That idle hands would not be her theme.

~

Her children observe her busy deeds

They praise her heart and bless her dear name.

With understanding her husband sees all

For he knows her heart and praises her worth.

~

In contemplating women of renown

She far exceeds whatever their fame.

For “charm is deceptive, beauty is fleeting”

But she who worships the Lord shall be praised.

~~

02/18/15 – 02/20/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

Linda Roorda

 

Ever have a hunch, a sixth sense about something?  Seems like it guides us to do something positive, or helps us make a decision.  I’ve had many instances.  Most times I paid attention to the message; but, I’m ashamed to say, sometimes I did not heed the voices.  Deeply touched by my friend Ann's blog about her visions and voices, she encouraged me to share my own.

 

Twice I sensed something bad was going to happen and couldn’t shake that feeling for weeks, until… 

 

Another time I had the strong sense a friend was very sad as I sat down at my work computer, but didn’t write a note then…

 

Many times I’ve heard a loud voice speak as though someone was right next to me…

 

And one time I had a heavenly vision…

 

When I finally shared about my vision, it was a few weeks later.  I’d worried what people would think.  It’s not normal to see visions or hear God speaking to us, right?  Well, wait a minute… not so fast.  Let’s back up a bit.  I should have known better…

 

One of the clearest voices I’ve heard was after leaving an abusive employment situation.  I’d resigned from the new job because of an unexpected inability to function and make decisions… I was hearing my former boss yelling and belittling me in my mind, and felt like an absolute and total failure.  I literally could not think how to address an envelope!!  Contemplating ending my life while driving, I passed the home of my Dad’s old Army buddy.  I’d known him since I was a 2-yr-old toddler when my family lived in Alaska during their Army days.  Roland lived out his strong faith in God, and now, driving past his house, I clearly heard the voice of God say, “I’m here for you. Your family needs you. You will be okay.” 

 

Nightmares and flashbacks then began of abuse from my teens and by my former employer, while also having very real property and car damage, but the cops did nothing to find the likely perpetrator.  Yet, like David wrote in Psalm 91:2, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’”, God was there for me in many ways during this extremely difficult time… as I took encouragement from His spoken words to me in the car that day.  Finally seeking professional help, I was diagnosed with PTSD which had actually started after verbal rape in junior high.  With counseling, my healing process began…

 

Another time, I had the strong sense that something bad was going to happen.  It was a few weeks before Christmas when our kids were little, and I couldn’t shake the feeling.  Ed didn’t think there was anything to it, saying I was just being overly pessimistic.  That heavy feeling stayed with me until Christmas Eve when he was taken to the hospital with severe chest pain.  The doctors found he had a pulmonary embolism.  A blood clot from his leg had passed into his lung, but he was going to be okay.  I’d sensed something…

 

One morning as I sat down at my work computer, I had an overwhelming sense that Mary Jane, my friend since junior high in New Jersey, was very, very sad.  Thinking about sending her an email, I decided my negative feelings were inappropriate and did not write.  The next day, Mary Jane emailed me that her mother had passed away… a few hours before my premonition.  I felt so badly about not writing her… if only I’d written a note of love and compassion when prompted…

 

I also had a strong sense I needed to visit my Uncle Pete and years later an elderly friend, Edna.  It was the last time I saw my uncle before his passing.  Edna was in the hospital, more serious than I knew.  Taking her last breath while I was there, my simple presence meant a lot to her family…

 

Then came the spring of 2003.  I had an overwhelming sense that something ominous was going to happen.  The thought that the world was going to end that summer kept coming to mind, but just as quickly I’d push it away.  It was too dark a thought, until…   

 

We awoke on June 11, 2003 to a hot and humid morning.  I considered canceling the trip to the Watkins Glen Gorge with my girls, Jenn and Em, but we decided to go anyway.  Anticipating a great time, we climbed the winding steps hewn out of rock in the entrance tunnel, rounded a curve, and stood at the top… gazing out at a downpour!  How’d that happen so fast?  We looked at each other and laughed – there had only been a few drops when we entered the tunnel… someone turned the faucet on!  As it slowed to a drizzle, we walked on, enjoying the scenery of waterfalls and pools, plants and flowers.

 

“We walked along, taking a few photos, as I held my umbrella over the cameras to protect them from getting soaked.  I noticed the plants, telling the girls what they were, absorbed in the many varieties of ferns, flowering plants, and greenery.  The girls were chatting together, enjoying the gorge, usually walking behind me, sometimes in front.  As I enjoyed the plants, rock formations, and waterfalls, several times I clearly heard the words spoken loudly, “Watch them.”  Each time, I’d pay attention to the girls for a while, but then drift back to observe the plants or the beauty of the gorge.  I felt uncomfortable hearing those words, paying more attention to my girls for a while; but, the pull of nature was too strong and my focus would shift again.  How could I have known that God was prompting me, and I didn’t heed His prodding better to “watch them…”  Why didn’t I listen and watch them more closely?”  (from Watch Them… A Mother’s Memories, pg. 1, by Linda A. Roorda)

 

About 2-1/2 weeks later, Jenn collapsed at home in Alfred, suffering heart failure as blood clots passed through to her lungs, disrupting heart and brain function.  Life support was removed two days later on the afternoon of June 30, 2003, and our precious daughter, wife of Matt, entered the joys of Heaven.  Having asked God, “Why?  I don’t understand?”, He provided Scripture in the Rochester International Airport. Waiting for Emily’s arrival from California that morning, above us and to our left hung a plaque with Psalm 139:13-16:  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

 

“The next morning after Jenn passed away, I sat on the bench in my flower garden in the eastern corner of our back yard.  It was sunny, but still cool.  This was my favorite spot, enjoying our yard from that perspective.  I could look back at the house and think about my family.  I could admire God’s creation in peace and quiet, listening to the chattering of the birds fluttering all around.  As I prayed, thanking the Lord for Jenn’s life, praying for peace and comfort in our loss, I had a vision of Jennifer.  She was at the base of a hill, in a sunlit field of beautiful flowers, near a tree, surrounded by children, and indescribably happy.  I heard Jenn say, “Be Strong.”  And then she was gone as quickly as she’d appeared… leaving me with an overwhelming sense of peace…”  (Watch Them… pg.11)

 

Even Ed had a vision of Jenn with long hair, describing how she sat on the sofa in a manner he had never seen.  But I knew it was for real because that’s exactly how Jenn “sat” – stretched out, feet and legs curled “under” her, while she cupped her chin in her left hand with that elbow leaning on the arm of the sofa! 

 

I’ve had more premonitions, though I cannot recall the details.  And, on two occasions, I clearly heard a voice with a message.  In one, I was told to get out of a friendship, and the other time told not to reply to someone’s inappropriate words… but, thinking I knew how to handle both situations, I did not heed the words heard… later confessing to God how wrong I was not to trust the validity of the messages… learning the hard way to always be attentive to His voice, His messages…

 

God shows His love to each of us in many different ways, ways that are as individual as we are, and in ways we may not always recognize as coming from Him.  Yet, even when we don’t give Him our full attention, He continues to reach out to us, drawing us closer to His side.  Both Psalm 139:13-16 and the words “Be Strong” have continued to be precious words from the Lord that I’ve clung to.  With visions and voices from our awesome God, He has held me in His hands, wrapped His love around me and blessed me with His peace, a peace beyond understanding…

 

The Hollow of Your Hands

Linda A. Roorda

~

In the hollow of Your nail-scarred hands

You gently hold my fragile life.

You carry me and protect me

And whisper words of wisdom’s wealth.

~

You wrap me in your calming presence

You shelter me in the raging storms.

Your comfort brings a gentle peace

With endless joy that overflows.

~

Your arms of strength enfold the weary

 My faltering steps you gently guide.

You lift my face when tears rain down

And give more grace when You I seek.

~

Your voice of wisdom sustains my soul

With lamp held high You lead the way.

When You I trust, forsaking folly

The winding path You straighten for me.

~

In the hollow of your loving hands

You gently hold my fragile life.

You keep my soul in perfect peace

When all my heart abides in You.

~~

11/23/18

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

I love a good book, don’t you?!  You know, the kind you can’t wait to sit down and read… but then can’t bear to close up for even a little bit to take care of other responsibilities!

 

I grew up an avid reader ever since I can remember.  But, it became more intense in 4th grade at East Palmyra Christian School when our teacher, Mrs. Witt, set up a reading competition.  I came in second by only three books!  Next, after moving to Clifton, NJ, I was the only student at Passaic Christian School allowed to sign out three books each week instead of two… simply because they knew I read fast and voraciously while keeping up with homework and catechism. 

 

Then, my Dad introduced me to one of his childhood favorites, “Penrod and Sam”, at Clifton’s Public Library near Christopher Columbus Jr. High (formerly Clifton High School where my Dad graduated).  Though a bit over my head at the time, I progressed on to reading everything I could about the pioneers’ treks westward, along with cowboys, cattle ranching and cattle drives on the famous trails.  They knew which landmarks to follow and where the dangers lay.  I favored Zane Grey western fiction, historical biographies and autobiographies, in-depth looks at our nation’s presidents and major wars from historical overview to personal perspective, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago”, Corrie ten Boom’s books including “The Hiding Place” of her survival and release by clerical error from Ravensbruck prison camp, books about other Holocaust survivors, and so much more of history.  Though I have enjoyed other fiction novels, they are not my preferred genre.  I much prefer stories of life’s reality and how others overcame their difficulties.

 

Sometimes, I’ll read the jacket introduction and then a few scattered lines on random pages, or at least part of the beginning when choosing a book.  I don’t want to know the ending… not just yet!  But then, with book in hand, I long to read uninterrupted from start to finish… building up to a great finale!  There are even a few good books I’ve read multiple times to renew the memories, simply because each book held an absolutely great story!  

 

Life is like that open book, read and treasured by those who care… or perhaps read and set aside till later, or even returned to the shelf if it doesn’t quite pique our interest.  And, yet, life happens in the mundane as we go to work, take care of our home and family, and find our place in the world while the book has to be set aside for a time between reads.

 

And though it’s been said that our life’s ending is like closing a book, it’s also like that favorite book on the shelf which you can open at any time to recall precious memories.  Still, it’s what’s in between the front and back covers, and the characters portrayed, that makes all the difference in the quality of the book read and re-read… or in the life well lived.

 

In reality, though our life may be lived outwardly like an open book, it’s the inner heart and mind that others cannot read well.  We contemplate life quietly and hold some treasures private and close to our heart.  And that’s a good thing.  When the world out there thinks they know everything about you, they really don’t.  Our personal life belongs to us… a touch of a mystery to others.

 

Yet, we can’t hide any detail from our God.  He knows our every thought, word and deed…  In fact, He knows our whole life story from start to finish!  “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? … For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. …All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”  (Psalm 139:1-7, 13, 16, 23)

 

And in this psalm above, I find comfort knowing how much our great and sovereign God loves and knows me, and you, thoroughly… like an open book.

An Open Book

Linda A. Roorda

Like an open book, read by those who care

Are pages of life exposed at each turn

Where intricate themes are gently revealed

In lessons learned and wisdom gained.

~

Those who will judge a book by its cover

Haven’t a clue of treasure within

You cannot observe life standing afar

For only up close are depths understood.

~

There once was a day when this book was new

Brightly shining with promise and hope

What was to come with dreams to fulfill

Began to unfold as pages were turned.

~

Now the cover’s worn, the pages are frayed

For a life lived well is not one of ease

As wear and tear are evidence clear

Of storms that raged to bring days of peace.

~

Notice the stains from tears that once flowed

Yet take the time to ponder their cause

For fragile feelings are those in response

To emotions from the depths of the heart.

~

Imperfections rise from pages of wear

Reality seen on turning the leaf

Yet with each turn the past fades away

That yesterday’s wound brings tomorrow’s mend.

~

For a gentle love restores with mercy

As One who redeems these pages will cleanse

The story renewed, a witness to all

Of life’s true meaning and value within.

~

Then as you read final pages slow

Tenderly hold life’s treasure in hand

And gently close the cover for now

To understand this life well lived.

~~

11/05-07/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

We often find peace in a quiet place of rest.  There, alone, unencumbered by life’s trappings, we can meditate and seek the Lord in prayer.  Away from the hustle and bustle of life’s busyness and grueling schedules, we can focus our thoughts and attention as we pray for God’s wisdom and for blessings upon our friends.  Because we are so like those sheep that David settled down to rest in peaceful green pastures, we can meet our Shepherd there for His guidance and restoration.

 

With a simple prayer in such peaceful solitude, I’m reminded of how often Jesus sought a quiet place to pray.  Away from the noisy crowds, He met His heavenly Father alone to pour out His heart.  Asking for His simple needs to be met, He also prayed that those with heavy burdens would find peace by relinquishing their cares to the very capable hands of God. 

 

From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus sought a quiet place to get away from life’s busy pace and demands, to think and pray to His heavenly Father.  Like Mark 1:35 tells us, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Shortly afterward, his disciples found him; together they went off into the synagogues and villages to preach and serve the needs of the people.  “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  (Luke 5:15-16)  Another time, after sending his disciples ahead to the next town by boat, and dismissing the crowd of people, “…he went up on a mountainside to pray.”  (Mark 6:46b)

 

If quiet time was needed by our Lord to pray and restore his energy… to refresh his soul during hectic days of ministry… how much more do we need that time alone?  I know I tend to forget that, often uttering prayers on the run so to speak.  Jesus went off by himself to grieve when His cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded.  He spent time alone to contemplate important issues in His ministry.  And, He prayed for hours when facing his arrest and death on the cross.  Fitting examples for situations we face that are both simple and complex.

 

There is a peace I find in my quiet place… sitting in my gardens among nature’s blessings of flowers and birds… listening to the sweet chirping of busy birds, watching dainty butterflies flutter by, and watching the creek on its endless flow… for in the midst of His creation I feel His presence.  How appropriate that our risen Lord was found in a garden that first Easter morning!  To my garden I often go to pray, think a situation through, and hear the Lord’s wisdom in His still small voice within my heart.  For in my garden, a respite from life’s hectic pace, I find a peaceful solitude, and come away feeling refreshed and restored.  How about you?

A Peaceful Solitude

Linda A. Roorda

There is a place where I long to rest

A place of quiet and contemplative peace

A placid harbor, restoring my soul

Where the Lord I meet in solitude still.

~

A place of rest my cares to release

Where storms of life meet the Calmer of Waves

And prayers of faith trust in His will

As I’m safely held in the palm of His hand.

~

For soothing comfort and solace is found

Near to the heart of our gracious Lord

Feeling His presence all along the way

As He takes my fears and comforts with peace.

~~

08/24/17

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Linda Roorda

 

“You’re a saint!” said a friend recently.  “No,” I replied.  “I just do what needs doing.”  As my husband has become more physically limited, I’ve picked up the slack.  I could not do otherwise.

 

Admittedly, at times I feel overwhelmed and resentful, utterly exhausted physically and emotionally.  Working a full shift from 3-11 a.m. in medical transcription with friends beginning to retire, running to medical appointments on multiple afternoons every week for years and taking care of most home chores, I can become shortsighted and pull a good pity party.  Then I remember how the Lord has been with us as He works “all things together for good to those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28)

 

We now understand the grieving process after the total loss of Ed’s vision, the passing of our 25-year-old married daughter, and my breast cancer amidst my husband’s health issues.  He had been legally blind since damage by the incubator’s pure oxygen after premature twin birth (his right eye never had vision).  Yet, Ed farmed with his dad as he grew up and for 10-1/2 years after we married.  We marveled at his determination and ability to do whatever he could with limited vision.  So, it was a surprise when depression set in as he lost the last vestiges of sight.  

 

No one told us until later that it takes time to grieve any loss, to understand, and accept the challenges.  There is often denial, not wanting to face changes.  Guilt or the “if only” stage may be followed by anger and depression.  Learning new ways has not always gone smoothly.  We dealt with Ed’s depression at becoming more limited in his abilities, along with major changes in our roles.  Though it took a toll on our marriage, we remained focused on our children’s needs.  When all seemed well, 11 years ago he developed unrelenting muscle/joint pain and dizziness, neuropathy, had multiple surgeries, grand mal seizures, life-threatening pancreatitis, severe congestive heart failure, COPD on chronic asthma, and more.  Then, my mother had a stroke leaving her partially paralyzed, and I took charge of her affairs, too.

 

The good news is that our love survived… and grew deeper.  After vision loss, Ed spent six months at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts with invaluable training among others who were blind.  Finding it harder to get around now, in a wheelchair for appointments, Ed does his best to help – he works a few hours weekly from home, makes my grocery list, does a load of laundry weekly, adds pellets to the stove, and more as he’s able.  We can’t go to church together, take walks, have date nights, or travel to visit family and friends.  Instead, we value quiet time talking, listening to music or favorite preachers on Christian radio and TV, even playing “Trivial Pursuit” without the game board.

 

Through it all, Ed’s faith, wisdom and sense of humor remain intact, seeing us through difficult days.  God has granted us strength to accept change and persevere, with insight and compassion we would not have had without the trials.  We understand better how to help each other, like when to offer assistance or give each other space to learn by trial-and-error. 

 

We’ve learned the community has kept its eye on our family over the years.  It’s humbling to know God uses us to help friends facing challenges.  When poetry began pouring out from the depths of my heart, reflective blogs were added and “Poetic Devotions” was born.  Tentatively stepping out on a limb to blog publicly, the Lord blessed me with words and the right Scripture which strengthen my faith and touch the hearts of others.  

 

Yet, the role of spousal caregiver and healthcare advocate can be physically and emotionally draining, often leading to burnout from feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  It’s hard to watch your loved one suffer.  Stress and grieving the former way of life may take various forms.  Like me at times, you may become tired, teary, irritable, short-tempered, depressed, lose interest, pull away from friends, or feel helpless, unable to deal with one more thing.

 

Under stress, caregivers often let their needs slide.  From experience, I can tell you not to neglect your own health.  Ed insisted I get my mammogram which I planned to cancel because of his health needs.  Dutifully going, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, facing surgeries without him at my side while he needed surgery in between mine.  Diagnosed at an early stage, I feel blessed to be cancer free.

 

Get plenty of rest.  Learn when to say no.  House cleaning can wait.  Stay involved in activities or hobbies that interest you.  I take walks, write, quilt, garden, make silk floral arrangements, and lead singing at church.  Spend time with friends who support and energize you, just as reaching out to others will encourage them and you.  Share your feelings, pamper yourself, and accept help.  After my cancer diagnosis, friends showered me with cards, a beautiful pink azalea, were at my side for surgeries since Ed could not be there, and brought us meals.

 

I feel guilty enjoying a day out with a friend, leaving my husband behind, but it’s emotionally relaxing and rejuvenating.  Kayaking with friends last summer was awesome!  Posting some of Ed’s humorous quips or an updated status on Facebook provides feedback to let us both know how deeply others care as we touch the hearts of family and friends.  

 

Essentially, we are all caretakers of each other.  Seek wise counsel to discuss challenges or guide you in obtaining assistance from professional agencies.  Find support within your church, or a community group specific to your family’s needs.  Take advantage of local adult day care or respite programs.  Search for helpful information and support online.  

 

Having observed us at a distance, our friend gave the above compliment.  Though I do not feel deserving of being called a saint, we all are as Believers.  Our lives are to be examples of Christ’s love working through us.  Without His guidance we can do nothing (John 15:5), but it’s hard to remember that.  If you fail as I do at times, don’t give up; apologize and forgive, identify the issues, and try again.  I appreciated another friend who shared that, when so many marriages are torn apart by hardships, we are an example of long-term faithfulness. 

 

Without comparing anyone’s unique circumstances, others traveling their own very difficult journeys have felt the same way.  I don’t have all the answers, but I praise God for His faithfulness in guiding and renewing us daily.  Amidst many trials, David wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1Jesus says “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  I Peter 5:7 reminds us to “cast all [our] anxiety on Him because He cares for [us],” while Isaiah 40:31 affirms that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” 

 

And the Lord has given us His peace and strength to persevere together, even on those hard days, as we walk a different path than expected when we said “I do” nearly 45 years ago.

           

Come Walk With Me

Linda A. Roorda

 Come walk with me, hold tight my hand

Listen to my heart as we share this path

Guide my footsteps, don’t let me wander

That my eyes remain focused on You.

 ~

May I ever at your side be found

Growing in love with a trust secure.

For in the trials that beset our days

We find a wisdom that strengthens our bonds.

 ~

See through my eyes, understand my heart

Know my emotions and the love within,

While I appreciate your gentle spirit

And all the ways you’re meant to be you.

 ~

Understand my fears, losses and pain

Hold me in your arms with comfort and peace.

Help me to know that wisdom is gained

Along our journey on difficult paths.

 ~

Come walk with me, at my side be strong

Not in mighty brawn, but in wisdom’s truth.

Guide my footsteps in teaching my heart

With mercy and grace let our light so shine.

~~

November 2017

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Originally posted on the Network, an online resource for the Christian Reformed Church of North America.

Linda Roorda

Easter... a very special time of year.  It reminds us that warmer weather is arriving after the long winter’s cold, and spring is beginning to show its colors!  It’s a time of renewal as plant life exemplifies rebirth by poking through the covering of a late snow, leaf buds begin to swell and emerge from their long winter’s sleep, and early flowers showcase their gorgeous colorful blooms. 

 

It’s a special time for children as they have fun decorating eggs, enjoy the search for hidden eggs to fill their baskets, and savor scrumptious chocolate treats and marshmallow peeps.  I also remember a time, way too many years ago, when it was fashionable to buy a new spring dress and white bonnet for Easter service at church. 

 

But, there’s so much more to the meaning of Easter.  Each year I am reminded again of all that took place about 2000 years ago.  That precious little baby whose birth we celebrated just a few short months ago grew up with a purpose.  As my husband’s niece, Rebecca, once said, “That God would become a man and understand our struggles on earth just blows my mind.  [That’s] true humble love.”

 

To be loved, and to know you are the object of that love, is an exhilarating and overwhelming feeling, while also giving you a sense of security.  You know beyond a doubt to whom you belong. 

 

Yet, in contemplating God’s love, I sometimes find it hard to think of such unconditional love for me...  After all, what about that little thing I did?  Was it really wrong?  Maybe I can just excuse it away.  What about the unkind words I said?  Will my family, my friends, or even God, forgive me for certain mistakes I’ve made?  I know He has, as have friends to whom I’ve apologized over the years.  But, what about the bigger mistakes?  How could God still love me when my temper flares… again…?  What does He see in me?  I can never measure up…  Well, actually, none of us can.  So, why would God care so much for me… for each of us…?

 

That One man who was perfect would willingly take my unworthiness, my shame, my heavy load of sin, and endure the penalty of the cross, just for my soul, is overwhelming.  I cannot repay such a debt!  But, wait… I don’t have to?  My debt is paid in full?  Because He freely gave His life that I might live, all I have to do is believe and accept His gift?  Because Jesus loves us that much?  Now that’s true love!

 

I am reminded of Johnny Hart’s “B.C.” cartoon column.  He was a good friend of my husband’s Uncle Mart and Aunt Tilly and family in Ninevah, New York, members of the same Presbyterian Church where Hart also taught Sunday School.  How succinctly Hart put the thoughts of this holy week into perspective in his comic strip:

“I hate the term, Good Friday.” 

“Why?” 

“My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” 

“If you were going to be hanged on that day and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?” 

“Good.” 

“Have a nice day!”  [Johnny Hart in B.C., 04/09/03]

 

Which brings to mind a similar thought-provoking cartoon I had also saved years ago from “The Wizard of ID”, a joint venture written by Johnny Hart and Brant Parker, illustrated by Parker:  

Friar:  “Happy Good Friday Sire!”

To which the king grumbles:  “What’s so good about it?”

The friar replies:  “It took an act of God, but they finally found somebody willing to die for you.” ...leaving the king speechless.  [Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc.]

 

After the brutality and agony of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, His friends are devastated. Yet, envision with me the beauty of an early morning sunrise.  Birds are beginning to sing as the sun’s first rays appear.  The dew has settled gently on the flowers in the garden as they open their buds to the sun’s warmth.  According to His disciple Mark (ch.16:1), Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome quietly arrive at the tomb with spices for their beloved friend and teacher who died a horrible death on a cross… only to see in astonishment that the great stone has been rolled away.  Upon entering, they see the tomb is empty except for the burial cloths folded neatly.  They are already sad, but now are very afraid. 

 

Suddenly, two men stand before them in brilliant light.  Knowing their fear, an angel speaks gently to reassure them.  “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples…” (Matthew 28:5-6)  Trembling and bewildered, but joyful, the women run from the tomb.  Despite their confusion, what unspeakable joy they must feel as they run to tell the disciples! 

 

And to think that with a simple child-like faith in Jesus who gave His life for me… for each of us… we can be forever in His presence.  What pain there is to realize that I fall short of His tender love every day.  But what joy in humbling myself to recognize and confess my sins, and to ask for forgiveness for the errors of my ways from those around me and from my Lord, and then to feel their forgiveness… as the Lord’s love and peace with mercy and grace surround my soul.  That’s what Easter is all about…  God’s great love!  Hallelujah!!  What a Savior!!

 

Besides… I love you!

Linda A. Roorda

Who am I?  My soul doth ask.

What am I worth? And to whom?

I see only failure as I take the reins

And do not give my Lord the lead.

~

How can you love the me who I am

When all I see are my struggles?

Yet, Lord, You do love even me

In ways that I cannot comprehend.

~

To sight unseen You guide my path

Ever at my side, gently calling.

And as you wrap loving arms around

You cover my soul with tender mercies.

~

For You opened wide Your arms on a cross

Giving Your life that I might live,

And in return You ask for my love

With all my heart, my soul and my mind.

~

But you didn’t stay within that tomb

For on day three You rose from the dead.

Seen by many, in the hearts of more,

Eternity waits Your Gift of Love.

~

Where once I felt the crashing waves

That overwhelm and burden my soul,

Now peace and joy have filled my heart

With love to share for those on my path.

~

Your presence surrounds me with Your peace

As You offer grace to light my way,

And then I hear You whisper soft

Besides… I love you!

~

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all!

~~

2013

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

The tapestry of life… a montage of all that once was to all we’ve become and soon will be, all which occupies our life and dreams, and all which defines who we are in the depth of our heart. 

 

Wouldn’t it be neat to see a tapestry of scenes from your life… like the movie we see in our mind’s eye as we reflect back over the years?  And from all those experiences in which we learned and grew emotionally and spiritually, what a journey it would tell!

 

I’d like to think my tapestry would show a woman who has grown wiser over the years… for I am well aware of my youthful immaturity and inherent failings.  But, woven throughout would also be the golden threads of friends, mentors and teachers who came alongside and taught me with loving encouragement.

 

Having made small embroideries, larger crewel embroidered scenes, counted cross-stitch projects, and many quilts over the years, the fronts display their beauty.  The back, however, is a different story.  Hidden from view are threads that meander in a wayward fashion to the next section, or even hide mistakes – rather like my life!  But, I also believe that the ups and downs and errors of life which those threads represent have all happened for a reason.  As one of my favorite authors, Corrie ten Boom, once wrote, “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery… there is a Crown."  (Corrie ten Boom, 1974. “Tramp for the Lord: The Story that Begins Where The Hiding Place Ends”, p.12, CLC Publications)

 

It’s so reassuring to know that our life experiences have an intended meaning and purpose… that we might gain a wisdom we could not have learned otherwise.  Nothing can beat the exciting happy times we all enjoy!  But, it’s especially in understanding the depths of pain and sadness through losses suffered or mistakes made that we grow wiser as God guides us through our difficulties.  How often we find that from those life experiences the Lord positions us to come alongside someone else who might be struggling and in need of an emotional lift.  For we, too, have tucked away memories of treasured friends who traveled beside us when we were in need.  Though we may not think of it that way, they are, indeed, the gems of our life… just as we are for others. 

 

With these thoughts, I was reminded that “...in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)  Through our patchwork experiences, we bring our worship of “praise…to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  (II Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV) 

 

What a cherished thought to know that whatever we go through, God will work it out for our good, our benefit, when our trust is placed in Him.  From the blessings He gives to the difficulties He allows to come our way, may we grow in wisdom and, in turn, be used by our Lord to bless others.

 

Life’s tapestry… that which God has woven as His masterpiece of our life… a testimony to those around us… a visual reminder of how great His love is for each one of us, tarnished and faded though we may be.  For we do have a purpose in this world… in living and serving our Lord and others with joy in our heart! 

Life’s Tapestry Gems

Linda A. Roorda

Woven within the tapestry of life

Are threads of gold among the diverse.

These colorful scenes, a journey of years

Depict a life in memories treasured.

~

Memories like dreams elusive and wary

Some haunting echoes, some images clear

Some melancholy, some bursting with joy

Of all which dwells within my soul.

~

This soul You knew from before my birth

For You’ve called me Yours since time began.

You wove the threads in skillful pattern

Of who I was to who I am now.

~

For I am unique, a special design

The only version which You created.

And all of my life with its joys and tears

Helped weave the me who I've become.

~

These memories dear like gentle footprints

Bring quiet joy within my heart

To recall a world of growing wiser

With scenes that flood the gates of my soul.

~

As memories transport through all that once was

And draw me in to contemplate

Emotions run strong and images lie deep

From another time and another place.

~

Memories thus treasured and savored anew

Serve their purpose in visions tempered

By value and worth from sadness and joy

To understand life as it now presents.

~~

Refining the love within my heart

Of those who walk among the threads

In vivid hues of brightly lit scenes

To bring a warmth and smile in my heart.

~

For the King of Light has woven my life

In mosaic rich and design unique

Of a life well lived through blessing and trial

In treasured scenes on tapestry rare.

~

Thus memories and dreams, threads of a lifetime

Have woven the fabric of this my life

While you, my friends and dearest loved ones

Are interwoven as tapestry gems.

~~

2014

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

 

Analogies give us a glimpse of similarities and truths of a story tucked within a story.  Thinking about this concept after my poem was written brought to mind Mark Twain’s British book, “The Prince and The Pauper,” published subsequently in the U.S. in 1882. 

 

In Twain’s beloved story, a young prince and a pauper (who happen to look a lot alike and were born on the same day) trade places in life.  The prince experiences the roughness of a lowly life just as his counterpart once did, while the pauper tries to bravely find his way at the top of an unfamiliar kingdom.  Common sense, so crucial to his survival in the real world, comes in quite handy as he makes his way through the upper echelon.  Ultimately, the real prince returns to claim his rightful place as heir and is crowned king.  Ever grateful for his real-life experiences as a pauper, the prince now understands life for the poor and hard-working folks beneath him, and is better able to comprehend their needs.  And, then he makes his friend, the pauper, his aide. 

 

Having never read Twain’s book, my poem was written without knowledge of the story line.  After research, it’s clear my poem takes a similar albeit slightly different tack in relating a king who was used to observing the realm from his castle high above the fray of every-day life.  Wanting to experience firsthand what life for his subjects was like, he walks among them dressed as a beggar.  In this guise, he observes that most people continue on their way with their heads held high, seldom stooping to assist someone poorer than they.  They live and breathe a self-serving arrogance.

 

But, on the other hand, a young woman notices the poor man in his tattered clothing.  She kindly offers to feed him – and not only did she provide nourishing meals, but she repairs his coat to provide warmth against the cold.  He returns often to talk with her, to learn the depths of her heart, and to simply show appreciation and gratefulness for what she has done for him, a beggar.

 

He was afraid to share that he had fallen in love with her, but was now in a dilemma for he needs to return from whence he came.  Indeed, he knows that truth must always be told in any situation… and so he set out one day to let her know how much he loved her.  He was willing to give up all he owned just to serve her for the rest of his life.  And it was then that he could see his love was returned in her eyes as he knelt down to propose.  With her “yes,” his heart leapt for joy to know their hearts would soon be united forever, as he shared who he really was.

 

Tucked within the depth of this poem’s story is the analogy of our Lord’s love for us.  Leaving his throne in His beautiful and perfect heavenly home, He came down to dwell among us… into this world of sin and pain.  Once here, He experienced life just as we do with all of its temptations and sadness, but also the joy.  And thus He is able to be our advocate and comforter, knowing from personal experience what our life on earth is all about.

 

Yet, our Lord came that He might serve us, not to be served. “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28) In His sacrifice, He gave His all for us… His life… that we might accept an awesome priceless gift; and, in so doing, share eternity with Him above.  What joy there will be when we are united with Him, and remain in the presence of His love forever!  What a King!

 Ode to a King

Linda A. Roorda

 

I gazed from afar while observing my realm

And found with int’rest motives in action,

But often their lives showed merest concern

While I could see depths of their anguished souls.

 

Oh how I loved these people of mine!

And longed to walk the path to their soul

A chance to converse, a sharing of hearts

To bring them peace with comforting words.

 

So stepping down, I entered their world

Yearning to serve the rich and the poor

But they did not know this beggar in rags

Most never saw needs, just held their head high.

 

And then I noticed a young woman fair

Who spoke gentle words to a stranger coarse

She offered me food and to mend my coat

While love in my heart had only begun.

 

A love which grew on the winds of time

A chance to bond and learn of her heart

To know the depths of comfort and peace

Humility’s grace wrapped up in mercy.

 

Now deeply in love I’d sacrifice all

Yet she did not know the truth of my garb

How would I explain that she’d found favor

That her heart was true, like gold refined.

 

So I intended my dilemma to share

To let her know from afar I’d come,

That all I’d longed for I treasured in her,

Companionship sweet, a blending of souls.

 

Expressing my love for her tender heart

Overwhelmed was she as on knees I bent

Asking for her hand, with tears she said yes,

My heart leapt for joy that we’d become one.

 

And then I shared my journey in rags

From a kingdom rich in glory and fame

To this lowly world of sorrow and pain

To which I had come, others to serve.

 

For it was then my eyes did behold

Analogy of One with far greater love

Who left His throne to walk on this earth

To share our burdens and speak to our hearts.

 

His love ran red as He gave His all

To purchase with blood and redeem our souls

That He might draw near, from sin set us free

To offer His gift of life eternal.

~~

12/21/15 – 12/24/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

Linda Roorda

 

Some of us know the depths of depression and despondency.  Some of us know the lack of physical healing or the pain of incurable disease.  Some of us know the sorrow and grief of losing a precious loved one.  Some of us know family dysfunction.  Some of us know abuse that no one else can see or fathom.  And we question how this could be… 

 

How could a loving God leave us in pain by not healing us, even after much prayer?  How could a loving God allow so much evil to go on all around us?  How could a loving God allow the senseless shooting sprees that kill our innocent children?  How could you do that to us God?

 

But, it’s not God who does this to us… with Adam and Eve came “the fall.”  The perfect first couple failed to heed God’s words, listening instead to the guile of sweet flattery from the serpent.  Ever since, we and this world around us have been living with sin and its imperfections.  We tend to put ourselves… our wants and desires… first. 

 

I remember many years ago leaders in church saying that if anyone was discouraged or depressed, they must not be a true believer in God.  How wrong and presumptuous to think that the difficulties of life can’t and won’t weary anyone, including a hearty Saint!  We’re human, as were the best examples in Scripture who dealt with their own failings and weaknesses which brought them to their knees.  Like King David’s psalms of poetic devotions which vividly show his laments and pleadings, they also show his rejoicing in God’s guidance, protection and provision.  He was no different than us.  We all express our sorrows and laments as well as joy and thankfulness.  Yet, it could also be asked, where are we in bringing aid and comfort to the one who has been wearied by the blows of life? 

 

As David begins Psalm 55, he sends up a prayerful plea: “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.  My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.”  Yet, as verse 22 attests, David confidently reminds us to whom he could turn despite his troubles by saying, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you…”  A sentiment confirmed by the bold and outspoken Apostle Peter who said to “Cast all your anxiety/cares on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)  And this from the man who three times denied he ever knew Jesus, his Lord and closest friend!

 

The difficulties we face do not mean God doesn’t hear our cries, our pleas, our prayers.  Though His answers may not be what we want or expect, He will answer in His time and in His way… for He alone knows the best way to meet our needs.  His answer to our prayers may not come immediately.  Sometimes, it’s not until much later that we look back and say, “Oh!  So that’s why things happened that way!”  In allowing difficulties to come into our lives, God quietly gives us an opportunity to grow.  By seeking our Lord’s will through it all, we mature in faith.

 

Even the Apostle Paul dealt with a “thorn in the flesh.”  Some have thought it might be poor vision after the brilliant light that temporarily blinded him on the road to his conversion.  We don’t know his exact problem, and it really doesn’t matter.  Paul felt it was given to him to prevent his becoming conceited.  Three times he asked the Lord to remove it from him, to heal him; but, it was not removed and he was not healed.  Instead, what Paul heard in his heart was the Lord saying, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV) 

 

In the days that seem so dark, so dreary, so difficult and painful… know that you can find comfort from those around you… a spouse, a child, a dear friend, your church family, or friends within your community.  They will be there to comfort you and see you through, and point you in the right direction for help.  Assistance may even come through professionals who can provide counseling, medical care and medication.  But, also know that there is another who will be there, one who will come alongside, hold you up, and carry you on those days when you can barely manage to move forward – our Lord.  I know, because He’s been there for me, for us, through dark and difficult days, with a peace I can only describe as an overwhelming warm blanket of comfort… for “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

 

There’s an old song I like by Rich Mullins, “That Where I Am, There You May Also Be.”  I especially appreciate the chorus, “In this world you will have trouble but I leave you my peace…”  It’s based on John 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 

 

As proofreader, my husband, Ed, commented, “It’s a feeling of complete and unexplainable tranquility knowing that nothing can shake you anymore, that God has your back whatever comes at you.  It’s knowing that you have Jesus and that He died for you; and, when the end comes, that you’re going where He is and there will be peace forever with Him.”

 

It is this overwhelming peace that I have felt as our Lord wrapped His loving arms around me while in prayer, thanking Him for blessings through difficult days... in our daughter’s passing, in my husband’s blindness and extensive health issues, and so much more.  Do I always remember to pray right away, to thank Him, and ask for His help and guidance?  No, unfortunately, I don’t.  Sometimes it’s later that I think, once again, why didn’t I go to God first?  I know I need to ask Him to help change my heart just as much as I know He is there waiting for me to draw near to Him, telling me “I’ll be there…”  Just like the words we say to a friend in need - I’ll be there… as we become Christ’s hands and feet for others. 

I’ll Be There…

Linda A. Roorda

 

When you feel

As though the world

Has closed in tightly all around…

I’ll be there.

~

When it seems

As though your prayers

Just never get answered…

I’ll be there.

~

When the road

You’re traveling on

Seems just too steep to climb…

I’ll be there.

~

When it’s hard

To face life’s challenges

That hide your peace and squelch your joy…

I’ll be there.

~

When you peer

Into nothing but darkness

That envelopes your entire world…

I’ll be there.

~

When the Lord

Does not give healing

But simply says, “Trust me…”

I’ll be there.

~

When you step

Into a bright new day

But only feel never-ending pain…

I’ll be there.

~

When you need

A hand to grasp

And an ear to hear the depths of your soul…

I’ll be there.

~

When a tear

Begins to slide

And sadness covers your entire world…

I’ll be there.

~

When your face

Looks up in prayer

While holding tight your Maker’s hand…

I’ll be there.

~

When you feel

God’s loving arms

Gently enfold as He carries you…

I’ll be there.

~

When you sense

God’s peace fill your soul

He gently whispers within your heart…

I’ll be there.

~~

07/10/13

All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

Journey of Life

Life is a journey… a different path for each of us, and never what we might envision the future to be when we’re young, standing at the edge of tomorrow.  We may sail along on a seemingly smooth course, expecting all our plans will come to fruition, but what we cannot see is the unexpected bend.  What lies ahead is hidden from view.  With each new day comes change… hardships and prosperity, struggles and triumphs, losses, fears and tears, joy and laughter, and blessings we too often take for granted.

 

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.33.31 AM.png

 

This photo of Ganargua Creek was taken by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen.  Ganargua, or “where the village sprang up”, was named centuries ago by the Iroquois Indians.  Nicknamed “Mud Creek” for its murky water, the creek flows near Palmyra and Newark, continuing east to Lyons, a tributary of the Erie Canal.  The creek is a favorite for canoeing and kayaking with a trail alongside that encourages hiking, an overall great natural wildlife environment.

 

And it was this beautiful image of a creek with its distant banks obscured by a foggy haze that brought this poem and these thoughts to mind.  As we once again stand at the door to welcome a new year, we have no clue what lies ahead… just around the bend.  We can only be in the moment, enjoying it for what it holds, leaving the unknown future in God’s very capable hands.

 

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  We can live in fear of the unknown, or live out our faith in hope and trust in someone greater than us.  We can trust that no matter what might lie ahead, God will always be with us, guiding our steps as He weaves our life’s journey.  We can hope for good to come out of the hardships, and appreciate the positive impact within our heart as we deal with challenges.  We can be a blessing to others by simply being there for them in a tough time.  We can pray for healing, as we look forward in faith, waiting for answers to our prayerful pleas.  And, we can trust that even when the answers aren’t what we want, the Lord will ultimately bring about what He deems best… for we grow by facing and accepting whatever difficulty comes our way with a strong and quiet faith.  And we are deeply grateful and thankful for the many blessings received.  

 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12 ESV)  God knows what lies ahead on our journey of life…  He goes with us, just as he told Joshua before the Jews entered the Promised Land, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)  But, it’s up to us to trust Him, and to live by faith with hope in Him as He shows us the way… around the bend.

A very Happy New Year to you, dear Reader!

Journey of Life

Linda A. Roorda

Beauty unadorned in peaceful reflection

As gentle dawn pierces the haze,

While we gaze into the tunnel of time

And contemplate our journey of life.

~

This life’s adventure, a passage blest

Carried on streams of hopes and dreams,

With faith kept alive by promises sure

That all has meaning no matter the course.

~

An image from life captured forever

Of time standing still in unchanging scene,

While visions of yore blend future obscure

Harboring secrets of a path unknown.

~

As we sail into the hidden morrow

Seeking the ideal of heaven’s realm,

We fathom with trust the pathway ahead

And patiently wend this journey of life.

~

For there lies our faith, hope in the unseen

That One far greater protects and guides,

Trusting the day when glory shines through

And all is revealed in the Light of His Word.

~~

09/23/17

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

 

Linda Roorda

Christmas Joy!

I had a big disappointment as a kid one Christmas, but kept it a secret all these years.  I’ve never forgotten the Christmas when I was 5-1/2 years old.  We’d left a favorite Marion, NY farm to live in Clifton, NJ again, the city where I was born.  I was a big girl, walking all by myself the several blocks to kindergarten - PS#15 overlooking scenic Weasel Brook Park.  My sister and I with our toddler brother loved to visit Grammy and PopPop (our Dad’s parents), and that Christmas was especially exciting ‘cause we were going to meet Santa!!  And I knew all about him…

 

You see, I had a book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and knew that little story by heart… like another favorite book, “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”.  Just ask my kids… they’ll tell you not to get me started – ‘cause I still know that favorite story by heart!  But there we were at the Christmas party with a house full of relatives.  And who arrives amidst a big fuss?  Santa Claus!!!  No, not down the chimney, silly!  After all, my grandparents didn’t have a fireplace, only radiators in their city house.  No, Santa simply came in the back door, all dressed in red with white trim.  He had a white beard, and a wide black belt around his big tummy – just like in my book!  So, it really was him!!

 

Then, while PopPop took movies, we girls took turns sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what we wanted for Christmas - me, my sister, Carol, and our cousin, Susan.  I honestly don’t remember who went first.  But, I do know that I was scared despite being the oldest cousin and in kindergarten.  I didn’t know what to say!  But cousin Susan?  She wasn’t afraid of Santa!  She talked to him just like she knew who he was… and I was jealous.  Why couldn’t I have talked with Santa like that?  But, we were very happy with the big stocking full of candy that he gave each of us!

 

As Santa left, Grammy took us three girls to a window upstairs that overlooked the snow-covered street out front, the sides banked high with plowed snow.  “See those lights?  There goes Santa!”  But, you know what?  I knew that was just a car’s red tail lights.  Under city streetlights, I didn’t see Santa’s sleigh!  Where were all the reindeer?  And Rudolph with his nose so bright?  He was supposed to lead the way!  I knew every word of that story, remember?!  Right then and there, I was so disillusioned that I never believed in Santa again!  And dear Grammy never knew about my big disappointment…

 

Writing this story, I had to find out who played Santa.  From my Aunt Hilda, I learned that Richard Andela was our Santa.  Richie actually worked with her husband, Roy Oostdyk, at his Gulf gas station on Main Street in Clifton… where my father also worked on Saturdays over the years when we lived in Clifton.  No wonder Susan was so comfortable talking with him!  Oh, the precious memories of childhood that we hold onto!

 

Yet, there is someone I can believe in without disappointment… for eternity.  For me, it’s the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas… Jesus, the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior.  “For God [our heavenly Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 KJV)

 

With the busy holiday shopping extravaganza, commercialization and our hectic schedules, I think we sometimes lose a little of the joy and wonder that must have been felt on that very first Christmas… and perhaps we, too, forget to make room amidst the hustle and bustle for this precious little baby.  Like us at times, another youngster was once trying to find the right things to help him celebrate, but nothing seemed to go right for him either.

 

“It was finally Christmastime, the best time of the year.  The houses were strung with tiny colored lights, their windows shining with a warm yellow glow only Christmas could bring.  The scents of pine needles and hot cocoa mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the distance.  Fluffy white snowflakes tumbled from the sky onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, skating on the frozen pond in town.  Everyone was happy and full of holiday cheer.  That is, everyone except for Charlie Brown…”

 

“Charlie (to Linus):  ‘I think there must be something wrong with me.  I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.  I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.  I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel…’”

 

“Later, after a day of frustrations, Charlie said:  ‘I guess you were right Linus; I shouldn’t have picked this little tree.  Everything I do turns into a disaster!  I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is about.  Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?’”

 

“Linus quietly said:  ‘Sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.’  [Walking to the center of the stage, Linus speaks.]  ‘And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  [Luke 2:8-14, KJV] *

 

Did you notice that Linus dropped his security blanket while saying “Fear not” in the film?  He knew Who to trust and believe!  And that’s what Christmas is all about. 

Wishing A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

 

No Room

Linda A. Roorda

Is there no room, no room in my heart?

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer,

What do I value and treasure the most…

Things that decay or things of the heart?

~

It seems I’ve filled my heart with worry

Frets and concerns of every-day life.

My wants and wishes each clamor for time

Leaving scant room for what matters more.

~

Like the innkeeper from long ago

He with no room sent seekers away

Little did he know, the love they carried

Was in the babe about to be born.

~

This babe grew strong and embraced the weak

An emissary of love sent to our world.

How else could He know what this life was like

Except to become like one of us?

~

Tempted and tried amidst the world’s cares

Unrecognized, despised and rejected.

No room in their hearts to welcome salvation

No room for love and gifts eternal.

~

Still, we are drawn to this man unique…

One who went seeking the hopeless and lost,

Forgiving our pasts, making new from worn

He who has room in His heart for us.

~

Is there no room, no room in my heart,

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer?

Yes, there is room for the One I treasure…

The precious babe, my Savior and Lord!

~~

12/21/16 – 12/29/16

All rights reserved.  May not be reproduced without permission of author.

*1965 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz.

Linda Roorda

Dancing Embers

Watching a fire burning in the fireplace is mesmerizing.  The dancing flames seem to take on a life all their own, swaying as if in a gentle breeze.  And it appears to be that time of year again.  Admittedly, fall is not my favorite season, though I do enjoy the brilliant colors as leaves turn various shades and hues before cascading down to replenish the earth.  I also tend to find the cold rain on dark and dreary days a bit depressing… yet, I do like the time to slow down, gather in, and observe nature’s changing moods. 

 

We shiver as the cold air closes in around us, put on a warm sweater, or wrap ourselves in a cozy quilt or blanket, and grab a good book to read.  The flowers faded long ago as their greenery wilted, and the gardens have been put to rest for another season.  Soon pristine white flakes will flutter down to cover the drab browns and grays as winter’s blanket settles upon the earth… in a relentless cycle of time.

 

This poem was among my earliest, written in 2013.  And, once again, I find myself sitting in front of the pellet stove, missing our trusty old woodstove, gazing at the small fire that slowly begins to burn.  As the fire is fed and builds momentum, its heat slowly radiates outward, and I take time to pursue thoughts that ramble… time to think about life… time to ponder where all the years have gone… time to worry… time to realize I need to give those frets to God… time to plan next year’s gardens… time to consider chores on my endless to-do list… and time to contemplate the innumerable blessings God has given us all.  Blessings in an every-day hectic life that we so often take for granted. 

 

Dancing Embers

Linda A. Roorda

~

On a cold wintry night

Sitting quiet by the fire

A welcomed rest and retreat

Watching embers glow bright

Dancing as in a breeze

Pausing to think and reflect…

~

On blessings clearly seen

In ways beyond counting,

On those hid from view

Only the heart can perceive…

~

On a life oft’ encumbered

With worries, frets and woes,

On dreams gone up in flames

Leaving memories behind…

~

But then I remember

One who softly entreats

Draw near to Me

And release your burdens

For I’ll care for you

Each step of the way.

~~

Jan/Feb 2013

All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Linda Roorda

This is Love...

What is love?  We say “I love you!” … but we also say we love a book, a movie, a car, a new outfit, our pets.  Is love found in endless glowing words of romantic emotion or selfless acts to please another? So, what makes our love tick?  It’s the minutes between the anniversaries that make the memories special.

 

I can’t say that my husband is the most romantic guy in the world.  Yet, he has written me the most beautiful letters to express his deepest feelings.  Not able to buy cards for me unless someone takes him to the store, many are the times he has listened repeatedly to a specific song on record, tape or CD and painstakingly written it out, phrase by phrase... just to express what’s in his heart.  That effort on his part means more to me than the world’s most beautiful manufactured card.

 

He shows his love in a myriad of ways… like willingly helping with our babies after he came in from 14-16 hour days of farm chores just because he wanted to.  He learned to diaper them, lovingly rocked and burped our little ones, and even read bedtime stories to them before his own dinner.  Seeing my big 6’7” guy hold our tiny babies in his calloused farm-worn hands clearly evoked an image of tender love.  He’s been committed to his family, always there for me and our children, helping guide them as they grew, or enveloping us in his arms when all we needed was a warm snuggle.  He still helps with household chores despite vision and physical limitations – just because it’s his way of showing love... trying to ease the load I carry after working a full shift, taking him to medical appointments, and handling more and more of what he can no longer do.

 

I used to attend an annual women’s faith retreat years ago.  In one of the classes, we were asked to share how we express love to our spouse in a unique way as the leader wrote 10 ways on the board.  A few said they’d write “I love you” with shaving cream on the bathroom mirror or add a special note when packing lunch for their husband, etc.  My simply saying “I love you” to my husband was laughed at when shared with the woman next to me, a pastor’s wife.  I felt so humiliated.  What I wanted to explain (and should have said, but was afraid to) was that my husband was blind and my saying those three simple words has always been special to him, and that everyone’s examples were only good for those with vision.  But, baking scrumptious meals and desserts, and not treating him as incapable of doing things just because he’s blind, seeking his advice when I’ve a problem, or even waiting for him to ask for help before offering or giving my assistance… these also show my love in tangible ways that he appreciates.

 

My husband means what he says.  His words are not empty, hollow flattery.  When he says something, listen close because there’s a depth of truth and wisdom from his innate ability to understand life and how people operate.  Actually, he’s a man of few words.  I used to wish he’d talk more, like me!  But, I’ve come to appreciate the meaning behind his few words chosen well, his sense of humor, his devotion to me and his family, his strong faith in the midst of blindness and multiple health issues, and his ability to share Godly wisdom. 

 

Giving flowers has never been his thing, though I tend to long for beautiful bouquets.  On the other hand, he knows the value of our hard-earned dollars.  He won’t frivolously throw it away on something that will be tossed aside in just a few days, like flowers.  He’d rather spend it on something to be enjoyed long term.  And I admire him for that.

 

I have a husband who respects me and appreciates all that I do.  Maybe he doesn’t tell me that every day; but, when he does, it’s worth the wait to hear those words because he means it.  It’s been a hard life for him, yet he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.  Being legally blind since he was a premature infant, and though he could drive a tractor on the farm or along the roadside, he could not hop in the car or pickup and go whenever and wherever he wanted.  He was stuck at home, unless someone drove him to his destination.  How frustrating that has been for him at times!  I so appreciate his attitude of acceptance as, even now, being totally blind and with health issues that limit his mobility, he accepts the path God has allowed his life to take.  He’s able to express a wisdom and insight we both would not have understood had we not gone through these various difficulties. 

 

My husband loved me despite the immaturity I came into our marriage with at age 19.  He loved me enough to help me grow, to become the best wife and mother I could be, and to use the hidden talents God blessed me with in ways I could never have imagined.  In turn, I love him for being there for me, listening and talking through issues we’ve faced.  He’s also been gifted with a sense of humor that crops up when needed most.  I loved working by his side in the past in the barn, doing yard work, or in the house.  He used to tease me, saying I followed him around like a shadow in the barn, and when he’d stop short to take care of something, I’d “crash” into him and we’d burst into laughter!  I miss those times working closely together… a lot. 

 

No marriage is perfect.  We’ve had our share of problems and arguments when our wants got the upper hand.  But, we made it work and kept our vows to each other rather than running away when times got tough.  Love comes in admitting our wrongs, asking forgiveness, and understanding the unique and different strengths we each bring as gifts to be shared for personal growth.  In contemplating love, the depth of a heart is revealed in the willing ability to stand by a loved one no matter the cost, except in the case of abuse. Yet, even then, if the abuser is willing to admit their wrongs and truly change from within, the path of regeneration, or reconciliation, is well worth the effort.  But, if the abuser refuses to see or admit their wrongs, and perpetuates such behavior, even if others may not see it, then it’s time to walk away for one’s physical and/or emotional preservation, whether in a marriage or a friendship.  Love is not about what someone else can give you; it’s all about what you can give the other, in building them up, without looking for praise.  And in that, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, words rephrased in our marriage vows, that “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”  (John 15:13) 

 

Though I may not be married to the most romantic guy in the world, God has truly blessed me with Ed’s love and practicality.  Perhaps the complement to my emotional heart and creativity, he brings a balance to keep me grounded and contented, sharing laughter with his great sense of humor that has helped bring many a smile to our faces.  He has an innate ability to understand people… like the depths of my heart and our children’s needs as they grew up, or taking seriously his former role as a church Elder/Deacon… and knows how to balance his role as leader of our family with the Lord as guide.

 

We’re far from perfect, but it’s knowing how to pick our battles, and how to pick ourselves up again in the storm, with “promises to keep and miles to go” to quote another poet.*  Therein lies the secret of true love as we seek the wisdom of God above… letting His love permeate our hearts and souls to become a better person.  Because I firmly believe God put us together, allowing us to face various difficult trials to draw us closer to Him as we grow in faith and love.  And, if Christ loved each of us so much that He willingly lay down His life for us, for our sins, then we can surely share that love with others around us.

 

For as Colossians 3:12-14 reminds us, we are to “…clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  This is the love I see in my husband. 

 

Happy 44th Anniversary, Edward!

 

 This is Love

Linda A. Roorda

This is love

beyond a feeling

in the depths of the heart

a commitment to keep.

~

This is love

exhilarating joy

that flows through the soul

with a gentle tenderness.

~

This is love

in the place of self

a sacrificial gift

bringing joy to another.

~

This is love

a blending of hearts

to become as one

in sharing life’s journey.

~

This is love

a tear that is shared

the hand tenderly held

the comfort in silence felt.

~

This is love

a listening ear

with honest confession

as mercy and grace pour out.

~

This is love

to take life’s pain

and wash it away

in selfless gifts with joy.

~

This is love

that One above

would give His life

to show us the path of love.

~~

February 2013

All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

*Robert Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”

~~

Linda Roorda

How do we see others?  By their outward appearance?  By what they’re wearing, or not wearing?  By the words they speak?  We can’t tangibly see their heart or their thoughts, nor they ours.  So, do we react to what we see and hear, or reach out to meet others where they’re at?

 

Not long after we moved to Clifton, NJ in 1965, my Dad went to the boys’ Calvinist Cadets meeting at the Christian school we kids attended.  A few blocks from his destination, he saw a man struggling with a flat tire.  Having been a farmer and now a truck driver, this was no problem for my Dad to fix, though it might get him dirty and make him late for his meeting.  Without hesitation, he stopped and changed the tire for the stranger, refusing pay for his efforts.  Each going his own way, they soon discovered their destination was the same meeting, and became instant friends!

 

But, how do we treat that stranger when he or she walks into our church?  They may be different from those of us who normally attend… and, sadly, the stranger in our midst may not feel welcomed or accepted.  They may not be dressed up fancy like some of us.  They may look a bit shabby and worn, be wearing the dirt of life, or even carry the aroma of alcohol. 

 

And I was reminded of the time a stranger dressed in black barged into our church, slamming the door behind him, dropping into the pew.  As music worship leaders, my friend, Patsy, and I smiled to welcome this man as we sang.  But, he was having none of it, staring straight ahead with an angry sullen attitude.  Barbed-wire tattoos encircled his upper arms, the sleeves cut off a black T-shirt.  His black hair stood up in spikes, and chains draped from his black jeans.  Then, just as our Youth Pastor stood up to read Scripture as our pastor was away for the day, this man bounded up to the pulpit.  Grabbing the Bible, he began to read:  “…But the Lord said… Do not consider his appearance or his height....  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (I Samuel 16:7) 

 

What’s his purpose?  Why is he here this morning?  Does he have an ulterior motive?  Are there more like him outside?  Are there more like him in other churches in town?  Why does he look so sullen and angry?  Is he sad and lonely?  Do we need to protect ourselves from harm?  Does he have a gun?  What could we use as a weapon?  How can I make him feel welcome?  I mean, he’s so different!  Will he even accept us?  How can we best reach out to him to meet his needs?  Such were the questions running through the minds of us parishioners, as we slowly realized that this was actually our Pastor Steve dressed up for a lesson as he expounded on that verse. 

 

Do we share our love easily with someone different from us?  We pride ourselves on maintaining a status quo of acceptable friends, those with whom we’re most comfortable.  But what about others in various difficult situations?  What about those who may be going through hard times and are poorer than us?  What about those who are dealing with life’s deepest struggles, lost in the midst of their grief, dealing with inner emotional pain or depression, or perhaps seeking answers to life by delving into alcohol and drugs to numb their pain?  They, too, are in need of the love and comfort we just might be able to give. 

 

What did Jesus say about the strangers in our midst?  In telling one of his parables, Jesus spoke about a king whose servants were called faithful and righteous for the love they had shown the king in his time of need.  They replied, “‘[But] Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King [replied], ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:37-40)

 

In response to his critics for eating with those considered “unholy”, Jesus gently said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)  And later, the Apostle Paul wrote that this “righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23)

 

And I admit that I, too, stand guilty in many ways.  We can express ourselves and our opinions with kindness rather than with an attitude.  We can welcome the stranger who is different from us, sharing a peace and comfort from deep within our heart.  And, we can reach out to others who are hurting with the same love and mercy we’ve been shown by our Lord… for in so doing, not only will they be blessed, but we’ll be blessed in turn.

 

The Pew and the Barstool

Linda A. Roorda

One day I walked through an open door

Looking for a seat but the pews were full,

Except in the front where I sat to listen

Searching for comfort from a world of pain.

~

The message of love was heard in my heart

And I longed to feel this emotion lost.

I yearned for peace in my troubled soul

Hope for the day and light in the dark.

~

Wisdom and truth for a hurting world

These were the words in the message heard.

But as I turned to follow the crowd

No one reached out… no one showed they cared.

~

No welcoming smile… no words kindly shared.

Their glances away gave proof of their thoughts.

Shabby were my clothes with tatters and tears,

Dirty was I, and smelling of beer.

~

No comfort from pain, just withering looks.

No peace or love was offered to me.

I stood alone feeling shamed and grieved.

Where was this love they sang from their lips?

~

And so I strolled to the other side

Across the street where welcomed was I.

Finding my seat on a barstool tall

I ordered a round to drown out my pain.

~

If only they knew their hearts had grown cold.

Who was this Lord they claimed for their own?

Where was the love, the hope and the peace?

Did they not know who walked in their midst?

~

Have they not heard and have they not read?

I was a stranger yet nothing they gave.

They fed not my soul, warm clothing not shared

Sickly was I, but comfort they withheld.

~

Do they not heed the words of their Lord?

Whatever is done for even the least

Is done in His name to brighten a dark world,

For those who bless will blessings receive.

~~

12/08/15

All rights reserved.  

May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

Linda Roorda

Tolerance

It seems we often want our way regardless of how anyone else feels.  That old “give-and-take” attitude I remember growing up with seems to be lacking... all too evident among those who mock and bully others, even within today’s world of politics… where a war of words has erupted yet again.  It seems like absolute truth and moral or ethical standards have become a negative, cause for ridicule… while relativism, or determining our own truth as we want it to be, is more often revered. 

 

Authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens are now suspect, apparently not worth our reading in today’s political correctness.  They, like many others, wrote about the way life was as experienced while they walked upon this earth.  The Wilder Award in literature has been renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because Wilder used words of a different era, inappropriate for today.  We were appalled at censorship, banning and burning of books many years ago, yet even now we walk a fine line of what is appropriate.  We disallow our children to read of life in other times when words or language we now recognize as inappropriate was used.  Even our Holy Bible is not accepted at times because it might offend.

 

Yet, as discerning parents, we did not allow our children to read a few certain books in high school.  We discussed why they were inappropriate reading material with both our children and school personnel.  We were told by the principal that, because we calmly explained our objections, the school graciously saw our valid points and gave alternative reading material.  In Jenn’s case, after giving one particular oral book report, two classmates told her they wished they’d read that book instead, too.  A true story, it showed a quality of character in the challenges a young man faced as an Olympian runner diagnosed with cancer.  Unable to compete, he turned to helping inner city under-privileged kids. 

 

The book read by the rest of the class, however, was filled with gratuitous sex, filthy language, and mocking of parental/family values – found when I simply opened the book at random junctures.  Actually, the teacher told his students to seek their parents’ permission to read that book!  And, apparently, if the kids actually showed it to their parents, I was the only one who said “no way!”  Even the school board was shocked to learn what that book held, and it was pulled from the school’s recommended reading list.  There truly is a time for discernment of right and wrong with respect. 

 

My poem here began to flow with news of the violence and tearing down of our nation’s historical monuments in the summer of 2017.  Removing such historical memorials does not erase or change history.  There are lessons learned in those memories earned.  We’ve come so far.  We’ve grown in understanding and acceptance.  Isn’t that cause for celebration rather than condemnation?  Our differences can be teachable moments.  That’s what Freedom of Speech is all about… with a chance to show love and respect even in our disagreement, revealing true tolerance.

 

Tolerance, by definition, is an ability to be fair, to accept a viewpoint which is different, and to bear with another in realizing that the opposition also has rights… without approving wrong by our silence.  Perhaps we remember that society’s Golden Rule (which promotes tolerance, when you think about it), actually comes from the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law…” (Matthew 7:12a) 

 

Yet, tolerance is not a license to do anything we want at will.  A moral society adheres to absolute truths of right and wrong, or it breaks down without this solid foundation.  We should certainly be cognizant and tolerant of others’ opinions or beliefs, respecting our differences… but, that does not mean we have to tolerate rude or foul language, or abusive, bullying, or violent behavior.  Tolerance is not freedom to persist in traveling down a wrong path.  There are consequences for everything we do... and there is a time and place for speaking out respectfully against inappropriate words or actions. 

 

So, where did tolerance go?  Too often, it seems tolerance is relegated to that which accepts and promotes a particular politically-correct agenda to the exclusion of the opposing view… and regards differing perspectives as not having validity to be honored.  What happened to our ability to show respect through appropriate discussion?  What happened to true Freedom of Speech?  Why the hate-filled, foul-worded, disrespectful language?  Why violence with riots and angry rhetoric to disallow conservative or religious speakers on college campuses?  What is there to be afraid of?  That others might actually have valid points, different than your own perspective?

 

Fear of a differing opinion by engaging in anger and wrath toward that with which one disagrees serves no good purpose.  We have heard violent mobs calling for their rights… while proclaiming how tolerant they are.  Seems to me that violence as a coercive bully tactic is anything but tolerance.  Perhaps it would be wise to observe that true tolerance… the courtesy to listen, even agreeing to disagree… comes by respecting another’s viewpoint, their freedom of speech, without the backlash of vitriolic speech and/or destructive violence.

 

When morality steps up and extends a hand in true respect, we’re living out the ancient Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Given by God to Moses for the Jewish nation during its exodus from Egyptian slavery, these words serve us well as a moral foundation even in today’s modern society.  Doing our best to live out Jesus’ words in what we call the Golden Rule, we show great love and respect for others… just as we wish to be treated.  With this love, and acceptance of those with whom we disagree, we embody Christ’s love, for “love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.”  (I Corinthians 13:6 NIV)

Tolerance

Linda A. Roorda

~

Could I but live a life that was safe

I wouldn’t question the wrongs encountered.

I would not wrestle with problems I face

Or troubles inherent with consequent strife.

~

For if I the bad from this life expunged

I’d then have left the best for display.

My life would exist by my design

For my benefit and pleasure alone.

~

Remove the memories and mask the failures

Fashion the remains to what I deem fit.

Let visible be selfish ambition

My life according to myself and me.

~

I have no tolerance for views but mine

My way is right and suspect is yours.

I demand my way and fight you I will

If only to prove entitled am I.

~

Yet what I now see is your hand held out

Bearing a gift, tolerance by name.

You’ve come to my aid and lift me up

To help me stand with dignity tall.

~

There’s a price, you see, for this freedom shared

It’s a cost in red that flowed for us all.

And it grants relief from oppression’s fist

That your words and mine comingle in peace.

~~

08/18/17 – 08/30/17

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

The Artist's Eye

I love a good painting, especially a realistic portrayal.  Actually, once upon a time I painted landscapes, getting so lost in the effort of creating art that I’d easily forget the time and when to eat.  Sadly, I haven’t picked up my brush and oils in a few decades… though I used pen and ink to illustrate a few stories I’d written for my grandchildren a few years back.

 

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of abstract art, though I can appreciate various works of modern art among the different genres.  Yet, each one of us views a painting, sculpture, or even a photo differently… because we “see” through our own heart, our own emotions, our own life experiences.  That which may stir my thoughts and emotions with a depth of appreciation may do nothing for you at all.

 

And that’s what art is meant to do – to stir our thoughts and emotions, perhaps leading us to recall another time and another place.  A great work of art can transport us in thoughtful reverie as we ponder the meaning of the vision before us… taking us back in time to what once was… or stirring our imagination to envision something only a dream may hold. 

 

The artist’s work might convey a concept, an idea, a novelty… that which sparks our interest to understand better what the artist is trying to say or trying to elicit through our individuality.  Good art should challenge us to think in a way we might not do otherwise.  Good art can tear at our heartstrings and bring us to tears.  It can incite anger at an injustice.  It can elicit great joy within our soul.  It can combine a dichotomy of powerful conflicting emotions.  It can portray evil overcome by good.  It can soothe the weary and distressed.  And, it can even reflect a tremendous calming peace, a peace within the storms of life. 

 

A good painting can be likened to the beauty we see in the people around us.  Each of us portrays an individual beauty, a uniqueness created by the Master Artist.  We’re one of a kind, no duplicates.  Even the world of nature exudes a seemingly immovable, yet ever-changing panorama which the Master Artist blessed us with.  After He created each aspect of the world, our great God “saw that it was good.”  (Genesis 1)  And in our appreciation of nature, even the simplest perspectives excite emotions within us… as we observe brilliant sunshine lending both a glow and a shadow to life, the menacing darkness of gathering storm clouds, a brilliant colorful rainbow during or after the rain as the first rays of sun return, the fanning out of the sun’s rays from behind a cloud like fingers of God, the awesome display of stars and moon in brilliant light upon a black velvet tapestry, from the calm and peace of gentle waves to the roiling waters which batter a shore, from the awe of majestic mountain grandeur to the simplest flat or rolling land with grass gently waving in a slight breeze, to the colorful changes of the seasons…  as these vistas elicit thoughts and emotions within our hearts and minds.

 

And, though the world and people around us are seen individually, through our unique emotions, we see all as through the artist’s eye…

 

The Artist’s Eye

Linda A. Roorda

In the artist’s eye is beauty beheld

Within each scene perfection arrayed

A haunting image that speaks to the heart

A story told in visual display.

~

Facing blank canvas, brush poised in mid air

A picture forms in the artist’s eye

As ever gently stroke upon stroke

The scene unfolds, its beauty to share.

~

From lighting bright to shadows darkened

Lingering mirage or perspective clear

 Sentiments stir as we gaze upon

The artist’s work from within the heart.

~

They say a picture is worth more than words

And there are times words uttered alone

Cannot convey the depth of feeling

Where spoken voice the ambience missed.

~

For within our soul perception awaits

The depths of which we don’t often plumb

That we might enjoy designs unique

By an Artist greater than humanity’s touch.

~

So we gaze upon the scene before us

As emotions stir like brush on canvas

For out of feelings tempered by life

Colors are worked with passion displayed.

~

Thus, what the artist has framed for our gaze

Reaches into the depth of our soul

As image pondered gives rise to emotions

Its secrets exposed through the eye of our heart.

~~

02/13/15-02/15/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

You've A Gift Within

Sometimes, our best inspiration comes from the most unlikely place!  I often enjoy relaxing in the evenings with Ed by watching reruns of M*A*S*H.  Though not overly fond of some of the show’s escapades, I especially prefer Corporal Walter (Radar) O’Reilly and the latter years with Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce’s new surgical partners, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, and Major Charles Emerson Winchester, III, as well as their commanding officer, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, and Major Margaret Houlihan.  The show and its characters seemed to have evolved from a certain nonsense to one of moving and memorable themes.  As the varied characters offer a wide array of human egos and emotions, I find the wisdom of humanity expressed well in many of the shows.

 

Recently I saw an episode that has always held a special place in my heart, one that I consider the arrogant Major Winchester’s best.  After operating on a wounded soldier, able to save the young man’s leg with his surgical expertise, Winchester tries to encourage his patient further.  Explaining that, although he’ll have permanent nerve damage to three fingers of his right hand, it won’t be too noticeable.  Angry, the soldier is reduced to tears and despondency, telling Winchester that his surgical efforts weren’t good enough.  His hands were his life… he was a concert pianist!

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.33.41 AM.png

 

 With determination, Major Winchester approaches the 4077th’s company clerk, Corporal Max Klinger, handing him a list of sheet music to pick up in Seoul.  Later, with music in hand, Winchester wheels Private David Sheridan into the Officers’ Club and positions him in front of the piano.  Despite his patient’s disgust, Winchester attempts to encourage the young man’s gift to make music.  Angry and resentful, Sheridan wants none of it.

 

Unshaken, Winchester shares the story of a pianist from another time who’d lost the use of one hand.  Placing sheet music for a one-handed pianist in front of Sheridan, he asks, “Don't you see?  Your hand may be stilled, but your gift cannot be silenced if you refuse to let it be.”

 

Private Sheridan scoffs at his surgeon:  “Gift?  You keep talking about this damn gift.  I had a gift, and I exchanged it for some mortar fragments, remember?”

 

With great feeling, Winchester responds:  “Wrong!  Because the gift does not lie in your hands.  I have hands, David.  Hands that can make a scalpel sing.  More than anything in my life I wanted to play, but I do not have the gift.  I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music.  You've performed Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin.  Even if you never do so again, you've already known a joy that I will never know as long as I live.  Because the true gift is in your head and in your heart and in your soul.  Now you can shut it off forever, or you can find new ways to share your gift with the world - through the baton, the classroom, or the pen.  As to these works, they're for you, because you and the piano will always be as one.”  (from the TV series M*A*S*H, “Morale Victory”, 1980)

 

Just as Maj. Winchester tried to help Pvt. Sheridan understand, we’ve each been blessed with a special gift, a talent.  We can hide it, misuse it, or use it to benefit others... we have a choice.  Though we may not see our gift as the blessing it is, Jesus’ brother James acknowledged that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17a)  Even the Apostle Peter encouraged us by writing that “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  (I Peter 4:10 NIV) 

 

We can encourage a friend with our words or any of our special gifts, like the gift of our time.  When we make wise use of our talents and training, we truly are blessing the recipients of our gifts.  In faithfully serving others, may we one day hear our Lord say to us just as he told the young man who grew his financial gift:  “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”  (Matthew 25:21 NIV)

 

You’ve A Gift Within

Linda A. Roorda

You’ve a gift within your heart to be shared

To love your neighbor as you do yourself

But much more than this is humble service

Sharing devotion from depths of true love.

~

Seek out the hurting, the ones bewildered

In a world of turmoil, in the midst of grief,

At a loss for words, not knowing where to turn,

Be an anchor bringing peace to their soul.

~

Be generous with praise, speak truth with wisdom,

Carry the burden to lift the heavy heart

Encourage and esteem, strengthen with hope

Humbly meeting each need on your path.

~

Lift up the oppressed, release from restraints

Enfold in your arms those wounded by life.

Show mercy and grace, forgive the offense

Come alongside to guide wavering feet.

~

For out of confusion and cries of the soul

In walking a line tween query and quest,

Comes peace that calms and joy that rebuilds

From the gift within your heart that was shared.

~~

04/06/18, 06/30/18, 07/22/18

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

With school either having started for some, or about to start for others, I pondered the realization that there’s so much I thought I knew when younger, but really didn’t.  Over the years, I’ve learned I can’t turn the clock back to undo or redo what’s been done.  Life doesn’t have a rewind button for our editing... so we inevitably move forward in a relentless flow of time. 

 

And in that flow, learning becomes an emotional and spiritual process as disappointments and suffering soften our hearts amidst the joys.  This is how we mature and become wiser.  In the process, we learn that we may not get that second chance.  Make amends now… apologize, forgive and move forward.  Love one another… and let the other know it.  I have searched for and regained friends from years ago… friends I’d lost when moving away, and a few friends lost when my childish words took their toll, and to whom I’ve given heart-felt apologies.  I cannot undo, but I can atone for and correct my wrongs.

 

Walk away from sin… don’t let it overtake you with its tempting appeal.  Don’t condone or excuse the habit of lying, concealing your wrongs to protect yourself.  Even if no one else is the wiser, God knows.  Own it, confess it, and make amends.  Others do take notice of what we do… do it well, for a good name is much to be treasured.  Love, listen, take advice gladly, and learn… and you won’t go wrong.  “Be very careful, then, how you live… making the most of every opportunity…”  (Ephesians 4:15-16)

 

As we look back, we often wish we knew then what we know now.  Wouldn’t such knowledge have saved us a whole basket of trouble?!  But, did we hear, did we listen, did we truly heed the advice given as we grew up?  I’m afraid I didn’t always do so.  I thought I “knew it all” in my teens.  It took time as life traversed a variety of circumstances unique to my needs to gain understanding and knowledge with wisdom from God.  And from the realization of my own errant ways and words, I apologized and made amends… because the Lord has done so much more for me.

 

For the loving Father that He is, God took the time to teach me all through the years.  Because I was often not listening to wiser words in my youth, I now treasure the wisdom of others as I sit at their feet to learn, and recall fragmented words of wisdom expressed years ago.

 

Blessed with Godly wisdom, Solomon wrote in Proverbs 2:1-6: “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  And vs. 9 adds, “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.”  Oh, how true!

 

If only… that age-old phrase we all quote... if only I knew then what I know now.  So, let me take what the Lord has taught me through the difficult struggles to reach a satisfied contentment… through tears of deep sorrow to tears of great joy with laughter’s healing touch.  And may we use the blessings He’s bestowed upon our hearts to reach out in love with something we’ve learned… 

Something I’ve Learned

Linda A. Roorda

~

Something I’ve learned since I was young…

If I knew then what I do know now

I’d have been spared life’s toughest lessons.

But, then again, how else would I learn?

~

Something I’ve learned came slowly with time…

For I wanted life to move fast forward

And in wanting more, I just needed less

As contentment dwells in life’s simplest gifts.

~

Something I’ve learned by looking backward…

That in facing life I thought I knew all,

But looking forward from slow motion days

Impatience revealed an unsettled heart.

~

Something I’ve learned wishing I’d discerned…

By heeding then the sage’s wisdom

Who’d lived and seen what I could not fathom

For experience marks the role of teacher.

~

Something I’ve learned is not easy to say…

That which I rue when youth went its way

As lessons learned brought maturity’s wealth

With understanding through wisdom’s trained eye.

~

Something I’ve learned by climbing the hill…

Conquering hurdles that hindered my path,

For stones that seemed like unmoving boulders,

Were mere stumbling blocks to peace found in You.

~

Something I’ve learned I treasure now more…

My faith in You, Lord, once taken for granted

Its value gained from bumps in the road

Which led me to where I stand on Your Word.

~

Something I’ve learned we all have to face…

Sorrow and loss have taught to accept

That which was healed as my heart grew wise

For only from pain can compassion speak.

~

Something I’ve learned about all my stuff…

I can’t take it there on the day that I leave

Much better by far to share with you now

Showing my love in tangible ways.

~

Something I’ve learned that when the door shuts…

Reasons there are for not looking back.

Express regret for what’s done is done

Then welcome the door He flings open wide.

~

Something I’ve learned with You at my side…

To share the bounty of blessings divine

To gently speak with a tender voice

And to hear with love from a generous heart.

~~

05/21/16 – 06/02/16

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

Linda Roorda

Attending my Owego Free Academy 45th class reunion on July 28, 2018, it was great to see and chat with several former classmates.  We were the 100th class to graduate from OFA, and the first class to graduate from the new high school building – such honors!  Having moved 15 times by the time I was 15, attending five different schools, learning to make new friends at each school, I’ve held onto many treasured memories.  With the reunion in mind, I just had to share this blog originally posted in 2013.

 

Oh, the childhood memories of places we’ve been and the friends we’ve made!  Don’t you just love to visit with friends from long ago, remember childhood fun, and recall the good ol’ days when life was simpler?  I suspect we all have precious memories tucked away, ready to be pulled out every so often.  It’s a chance to gaze back in time, to smile anew on fun shared by all.  But, I’m sure I’m not alone in having some memories that bring emotions to the surface, and tears to the eyes.

 

Twice a year as our children grew up, we’d visit back and forth with my childhood friend and her husband, Hugh.  Kathy and I were friends in East Palmyra – in church, in class at the Christian school, and in playing at our homes.  We continued our friendship via snail mail after my family moved away in 4th grade, just before I turned 10.  It was a very painful and emotional move for me – away from farm life, away from the best friends I’d ever known to city life in Clifton, New Jersey where I was born, and where my dad’s parents and siblings’ families lived.  It was an unwelcome change.  I hated city life, was horribly homesick, and cried for weeks. 

 

But, life got better as I let go of childhood pain and released the sadness.  Though there were difficult times and events in Clifton, I now find many good memories to replay in my mind’s eye.  It was an era when my sister and I could walk or bike everywhere without fear.  And then there was the time we biked from our eastern side of Clifton to where our grandparents lived all the way on the other side.  When my grandmother opened the door to our knock, trust me, she was not pleased… because no had known where we were!  Still, with the used bikes my grandfather gave us, we felt so rich!  I treasure memories of fishing with my dad in northern Jersey lakes, and of spending time with my grandparents.  My grandmother was a former professional seamstress who taught me to sew clothes and quilts – and to rip it out if it wasn’t right and sew it over again, more than once as I recall!  This little Dutch immigrant had an unspoken life motto - “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!”  How I miss her greeting us at the door with a hug and always sweetly saying, “Hello Dear!” in her Dutch accent.

 

Admittedly, my favorite memories are those of my childhood on the farms, and the fun my sister and I had back when there was no technology to ruin what our little minds could conjure up.  My earliest memories, though, begin after we moved back from Delta Junction, Alaska.  My dad had a foreign assignment in the Army, stationed at Fort Greeley before Alaskan statehood.  He wanted to homestead, but my Mom wasn’t keen on the idea, so back to New Jersey we went.  I’ve often wished I’d been old enough to remember the trip and the beautiful sights down the Al-Can Highway back to the States; but, then again, as I heard about the road without guardrails next to steep cliffs, of an old car with a steering wheel that caught at the most inopportune times (like coming around a curve and heading straight for a cliff when, at the last moment, the steering engaged again for my Mom, preventing us from plummeting off the cliff), maybe I’m glad I wasn’t old enough to remember that trip.  Dad got rid of that car as soon as they got into Washington state, and they took a train east to Newark, NJ where my grandparents brought us back to their home.

 

Dad next went to work on the Everson Farm in Clifton Springs, NY.  I have photos of that time, but my first memories begin when he worked on the Wychmere Farm in Ontario/Sodus, NY.  I clearly recall that, at age 3-4, we drove down a lane to a Lake Ontario beach where I floated in an innertube.  Seeing a ship on the horizon, my child’s mind feared it would “run me over!”  Then, imagine my excitement when, while dating my husband-to-be, Ed, my friend, Kathy, and her husband, Hugh, took us to that very same lane and beach near Chimney Bluffs and it was totally familiar to me, remembered from all those years ago!

 

Next, on the Breemes farm in Marion, NY, my sister and I could be seen playing in and around the barn; milking “my cows” with an old tea kettle on the bank-barn’s wall ledge while standing on a bale of hay as Dad milked his cows; throwing rocks into mud/manure puddles with my sister, and accidentally following those rocks into the muck.  My brother, Charlie, was born that year, an interloper to our fun… or so I thought at that age.  Later, we once again moved back to Clifton, NJ where I went to kindergarten, a big girl walking several blocks by myself to school. 

 

Returning to Marion, NY the following year, we had many more adventures with Fran and Betty DeVries while living upstairs in their beautiful Victorian house on their parents’ farm.  I still remember the layout of their barn, helping a few times to put milking machines together, watching their Dad put in silage with the belt-driven unloader off the tractor.  My Dad knew Gerald and Joann from the Sussex, NJ Christian Reformed Church when he was herdsman for old Mr. Titsworth after graduating high school.  Actually, Mr. Titsworth was a direct descendant of Willem Tietsoort who settled in that area after the 1690 Schenectady massacre, purchasing extensive lands from the northern Jersey Indians.  Unknown to our family back then, my genealogy research several years ago discovered a daughter of Willem Tietsoort was one of my mother’s ancestors!

 

Moving up the road to the spacious farmhouse on the Musshafen tenant farm brought more fun as we meandered the fields, and walked back up the road to spend time with Fran and Betty.  My Dad bought a steer from Mr. DeVries to raise for beef.  We girls named him Elmer… as in Elmer’s Glue!  My sister and I thought it was more fun running between rows in the garden instead of our weeding chore.  Brother Mark was born here, with Charlie anxiously asking, “When can he play ball with me?”  My Dad’s sister, Aunt Hilda, taught us the little ditty, “On top of spaghetti...”  Needless to say, whenever I recall that song, it is always with images from that house as the poor little meatball rolls off our dining room table, out the back door, down the cement steps, down the slope, past the garden and under the lilac bushes this side of a small creek!  We shelled endless piles of peas and snapped mountains of beans, and, I’m ashamed to say, threw some under those lilac bushes when we got tired of it all.  We practiced our fishing techniques, aiming to put the dobber into a bucket though I don’t believe we were too accurate.  We caught tadpoles and watched them grow into frogs in jars before returning them to the creek.  And we tried to fry an egg on the road on a very hot summer day… well, the adults always said it was so hot you could…!

 

Next, as tenants on the Bouman farm on Whitbeck Road, fun found us running with Ruth, Annette and Grace in the haymow, catching my shoe on baling twine and tumbling down to the wooden floor below, barely a foot away from the upturned tines of a pitch fork and getting a concussion; traipsing over the fields and through the woods; walking among the cows in the pasture only to be chased by a very indignant new mom for getting too close to her baby and barely making it under the fence with her hugeness right behind me; roller skating, only once, on a pond because we didn’t have ice skates; building snow forts, sledding down the hill outside the barnyard; playing telephone as we kids all sat in a circle, laughing at how the secret message had changed from the first person to the last; playing Mother May I, Red light, Green light, and Hide and Seek; learning to ride bike under Grace’s tutelage with resultant scraped-up knees; playing at friend Kathy’s home, sledding down their hill and across the field when a train came through, freezing up and not thinking to roll off - thankfully, the sled came to a stop a few feet away from the track as I looked up in horror at the train rushing by; voraciously reading every book I could get my hands on, a life-time habit; and so much more…!  Oh such fun!!

 

Then, abruptly, we moved back to city life in Clifton, NJ.  Sadly, Dad left much behind, including the unique doll house made especially for us girls when I was in kindergarten.  Now, we enjoyed visiting often with our grandparents, and loved the family gatherings for every main holiday on the calendar.  When brother Andy arrived, my sister and I, at ages 10 and 11, were responsible every week for months for hauling the family laundry in a wagon to the laundromat across the street from the bar at the top of our block, washing and folding it all (we became little pros, respected by all adults doing their own laundry), and getting to buy treats like 5-cent double-stick popsicles, way bigger than today’s version!  We taught Charlie to ride bicycle in the former train station’s empty parking lot across from the end of our block.  Our Dad took us fishing to northern Jersey lakes and on Clifton’s Garret Mountain with its great vista overlooking the cities to the New York City skyline, all fishing holes from his childhood.  We two girls enjoyed traipsing the city unsupervised and unaccosted, walking or biking everywhere to parks and the city library, and to Passaic Christian School and then Christopher Columbus Junior High 12 blocks from home.  I can still visualize so much of the city like the back of my hand, forever frozen in time. 

 

After four years, my heart rejoiced when we moved back to New York, through the outskirts with heavy traffic and hippies of the Woodstock Festival on Saturday, August 16, 1969.  Our long drive ended in Lounsberry, half-way between Owego and Nichols, where the odor of neighboring farms was heavenly.  Here, my latter teen years were spent caring for three-dozen-some chickens, 6 Muscovy ducks and their newly-hatched ducklings (who grew to provide us with fine dining), my lamb, and mare, War Bugg, a beautiful grand-daughter of Man O’ War…  along with our youngest brother, Ted.  I was, admittedly, very disappointed he was not a little girl, but I soon fell in love with him and those big blue eyes as my sister and I helped care for him.  After all, we were “pros” in baby care by then!

 

Simply spending time recalling precious memories of family and friends in a long-ago world brings a few tears and many smiles to my heart…  So, what cherished memories do you have that are waiting to be brought to mind and shared?

Going back home…

Linda A. Roorda

Going back home within my mind

To simple retreats of childhood days

Holding sweet memories of yesterday

Like quiet oases of rest and peace.

~

Stirring emotions that overwhelm

On traveling back to gentler times

With early images tucked far away

On pages engraved in a long-ago world.

~

For what could ever make me forget

The fears that then descended strong

With dog at fence and thunderstorm

To shake the world of toddlerhood.

~

While a life-long love was built in scenes

Of farming and learning beside my Dad

With laughter heard through carefree days

In adventures had by my sister and me.

~

The many homes of my younger days

Are shelters now for cherished views

As dear and precious memories enhance

Wistfully perfect they ever remain.

~

But tucked within the pages recalled

Are days of change and tender tears

Moving away and losing friends

Through a lifetime lived, they’re never forgot.

~

Yet often they say it’s just not the same

We can’t return to scenes of our youth

That life and times are forever changed

The rift between then and now is too great.

~

But as I gaze on all that once was

I find it’s okay to let the tears flow

As they wash away the lingering pangs

To leave my heart refreshed and clean. 

~

So I shall always savor the joy

Of going back home within my mind

And holding dear those treasured days

Of childhood mem’ries and lessons learned.

~~

09/21/13

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Linda Roorda

It’s just an accumulation of trinkets and stuff, an assemblage that needs to be fed every so often.  I should know, because I have my own collections from the past.  But, in the long run, none of it will go with us when life’s earthly journey comes to an end.  We should be content with what we have and who we are… not seeking to satisfy our appetite with more of everything life has to offer.  Be at peace, rest in who we are meant to be… don’t compare or judge ourselves to others.

 

In contemplating that accumulation, I’m reminded of a song by the rock group U2 from their Joshua Tree album – “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”  A fitting comment to an endless search for just the right thing.  Theodore Roosevelt was even noted to say, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  How truthful and fitting both sentiments are for all of us at times!

 

So, what is contentment?  How do we find it?  And when is enough… enough?  The dictionary on my desk tells me contentment is where the heart is at… perhaps rested and satisfied, at peace, with a quiet and calm joy.  Contentment is an attitude of the heart… being thankful and grateful for what we do have, serving others out of a joyful appreciation.  Because, believe me, contentment is not found in eyeing what someone else has… of being jealous or envious of what’s on their plate… as if we didn’t have enough to take care of on our own.

 

In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul wrote “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Hmm… so how could he say that with all the many difficulties he faced? 

 

There’s an old hymn I’ve loved since childhood, coming to treasure the words even more after our daughter, Jennifer, died.  Horatio G. Spafford wrote a poem after he and his wife lost their 2-year-old son, their property in the 1871 Great Chicago fire, suffered further economic losses in 1873, and then lost their remaining four daughters at sea - “When peace like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul…” …well-known words of comfort.  Having three more children, losing a second son at age 4 in 1880, he resettled in Jerusalem with his wife and remaining two daughters.  There, he founded the American Colony, a Christian group providing humanitarian relief to the disadvantaged of any faith.  He’d learned the secret to contentment.

 

The Apostle Paul, writing to a dear young friend, stated in I Timothy 6:6-7: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  Don’t get me wrong… it’s not about denying ourselves the ability to succeed in our careers or home life and to have nice things.  Instead, it’s all about the depth of our heart, our faith, our attitude… the intangibles… the spiritual treasures.

 

Life really isn’t about gathering as much stuff as we can hoard for ourselves.  Life was never meant to be like that old saying attributed to Malcolm Forbes, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”   It’s not about God ensuring that we have a wealthy and happy life.  It’s not His plan to make us “rich and famous” in a life of ease without pain.  Instead, contentment is a learning process… learning to be who God intends us to be… learning to be gracious and loving when our life is full of pain, disappointments, illness and setbacks.  And, in learning to give thanks and appreciate what we do have, we find ourselves gladly serving others around us with a heart of joy and peace… as contentment flows from our soul.

 

Contentment Flows

Linda A. Roorda

Contentment flows from the soul at peace

Not easily grasped though deeply pondered

How quick am I to follow my will

While yielding to trust finds Your truth with grace…

~

Grace to understand blessings of mercy

In wending my way through waves of turmoil

Seeking shelter from storms that threaten

As Your calming spirit brings showers of peace…

~

Peace that envelopes my very being

From the depth of stress that oft overwhelms

Which tugs and strains the restful repose

To humility meek with a heart of joy…

~

Joy that shines bright in the face of woe

Amidst the sadness of sorrow’s dark tears

As rays of hope through shutters burst forth

To flood my soul with serenity’s rest…

~

Serenity’s rest within the world’s din

Marks peace of mind when focused on You

Grant me, I pray, a heart full of love

One filled with thanks as contentment flows…

~~

07/06/16

All rights reserved. 

May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

 "Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda. See more at her site HERE.

 

Linda Roorda

Ode to Job

There once lived a man who faced a litany of untold suffering, whose riches could not buy relief.  It is said by some he never lived, that he was simply a character in an allegorical story.  Personally, I prefer to acknowledge Job as a man who truly lived and walked upon this earth, likely in the time of Abraham, according to our pastor.  So, what can this old man teach us today? 

 

Job was a man who faced extreme adversity amidst his own physical and emotional frailties.  While his friends questioned what sin he might have done to cause the devastating calamities that struck him… and though Job was a man who questioned God’s faithfulness, and even rued the day he was born… yet he was a man who clung to a sliver of faith in Yahweh, Jehovah God.

 

Studying the book of Job currently in Sunday School, though having written this poem and blog several years ago, I find in Job’s struggles and ultimate praise of God a wisdom I can look to in dealing with life’s difficulties.  When faced with our various problems in life, often our first question is why, perhaps followed by what did we do to cause this?  I’ve been there with both questions.

 

Sometimes, we may become angry at God for allowing distressing trials.  Sometimes, we may turn our back on God… because He does not seem to embody love to our way of thinking.  Perhaps He did not prevent a catastrophic event in our life and we lost everything.  After all, we reason, haven’t we lived a good life?  We haven’t committed any horrible sins.  So why should we suffer? 

 

My husband’s ongoing multiple health issues and blindness, my diagnosis of cancer a few years ago, the untimely death of our daughter at 25, and numerous other difficult situations have tried our faith and patience, never mind the bonds of marriage.  But, we are not alone in these various trials as the depths of tragedy and pain are evident in so many families around us.

 

In all honesty, though I have questioned why and wondered what we had done to cause the various problems we’ve faced, I have not been angry at God.  To me, He is my creator.  He is omniscient.  He knows best why He allows the storms to happen.  He knows how all things will work out for good even though I don’t like the bumps in the road. (see Romans 8:28)  And, like Job said, shall we not accept and endure the trials just as we gladly accept our many blessings?  (see Job 2:10) 

 

Often, these difficulties can only be viewed through the perspective of a rear-view mirror with amazement at how the Lord has walked with us, even carried us, through all of life.  And, I have found that even in the most difficult situations, including the loss of our daughter, Jenn, there was always something to be learned from living through the pain.  For they were trials by which I gained a greater wisdom and understanding, even empathy for others, that I would not have earned had I not gone through adversity.

 

And so it was with Job.  He lost everything… except his wife… a woman who has managed to go down in history as the biblical woman who told her husband to curse God and die after all that had happened to them.  Actually, I rather appreciate Tim Gustafson’s comment in “Our Daily Bread” devotional for Sunday, 06/24/18:  “[Job] merely noted that she spoke ‘like a foolish woman.’”  We tend to gloss over Job’s reply to his wife, thinking poorly of her. (Job 2:10)  But, like Gustafson, I suspect Job’s operative word “like” intimates that he knew his wife far better than the rash statement she had just uttered.  For if Job were so highly respected and honored, it would only seem logical that his wife was also more of an upright and honorable woman than her words implied.  Spoken from the depths of her own pain and anguish, she shows evidence of her frail humanity just as we do all too often.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 9.44.40 AM.png

 

We need to remember that she lost everything too, the most painful being the loss of their children.  Their many servants were gone.  Great herds of cattle and camels – gone.  Huge flocks of sheep – gone.  All the crops to feed everyone, including the great herds – gone.  Ten beloved children, likely their spouses and children, and their homes – gone.  And to top it off, Job’s health failed and her dear husband lived a miserable, painful and pitiful existence… on a garbage heap… mocked by his friends. 

 

Yet through it all, Job did not sin.  Soon after their losses, he said to his wife, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  (Job 1:21b)  He did not blame or curse God for what had happened.  But, in questioning God and hearing the Almighty’s questions of him, Job was able to acknowledge an understanding of where he fit into the overall scheme of life… that God was far greater than he.  God was in control.  And, ultimately, God blessed him even more than before.

 

I am impressed with Job’s humility as he learned to put his trust and faith more fully into the hands of our God who is all knowing, all powerful, and so loving He wants the best for us, even when that comes by living through severe trials.  And may I, too, be found worthy at the end of the journey.

Ode to Job

Linda A. Roorda

(Based on the book of Job)

~

One day Satan had a talk with God…

I’ve been out walking on this earth of Yours

And have my eyes upon those who claim

They love Your word and follow Your way.

~

But now I want to ask of You this…

Who will they follow in depths of despair?

Will they lose all and cling to their God

Or will they curse You even to Your face?

 ~

And God answered thus, Have you considered

My faithful servant, a man of honor?

For he is blameless, a man who loves me,

Who heeds my words, and shuns evil ways.

~

Then Satan mocked the great I Am.

Why should he not?  You’ve blessed him richly!

Take it away!  Strip him of it all!

Leave him destitute!  Then learn of his heart!

~

In your hands gently I will place my man,

But one thing only you dare not commit.

Take away all, whatever you wish,

But take not his life while evil you bring.

~

And so began the worst day of all

When everything owned was taken by storm,

From crops to cattle, servants to children

All was destroyed, in mere moments of time.

~

In deep humility this man bowed to God,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb

And naked I leave; for as the Lord gives

So shall He take, praised be my Lord’s name.

~

Friends soon came to share his great pain

Tenderly bearing overwhelming grief.

But then they pointed with fingers of blame,

What evil within your soul is the cause?

~

Why me, Lord God? What have I done?

What did I do to bring on such shame?

Even my wife says to curse You and die,

But shall we accept the good without bad?

~

Yet now I rue the day I was born.

May its light darken, and no good recall.

Why did I live and not die right then?

For I have no peace, only turmoil within.

~

Even my friends betray me with words

Recalling my faith which flees from my soul.

But where is my hope, my confidence true?

Fleeting as wind when evil disrupts?

~

These friends say appeal, to God bare my soul.

Is it not He whose wonders we see?

As God corrects the man He calls blessed

Do not despise His wounding to heal.

~

So will I seek and call on His name

For what is man that He blesses much.

I know all my sin, for mercy I’ll plead;

Remember me God, forgive my offense.

~

Another dear friend now lays on my heart,

Does God pervert that which is done right?

No, for your sin does penalty come.

Plead now with God that He may restore.

~

How can I dispute and come out unscathed?

Can I be righteous before a just God?

With wisdom profound, His power is vast.

Were I but guiltless… but I can’t ask of Him.

~

If only I had died on the day I was born

I loathe my life and bitterly speak.

Does it please You, God, to oppress my soul,

To smile on evil and favor its schemes?

~

Yet You formed me. Your hands shaped my life.

Will you now destroy and turn me to dust?

You blessed me with much and watched over me.

Why did you hide your wrath until now?

~

And still my friend is asking of God,

Will this talker be vindicated?

Will God speak words against His own heart

Or will He utter His secrets of wisdom?

~

Though I can’t fathom the mysteries of God,

Can we set tests of Almighty’s power?

Higher than heaven, deeper than the depths

Can we yet measure how vast is His world?

~

You tell me to end the evil of sin,

Stretch out my hands with heart devoted,

That in this hope my life is valued

While the wicked fail like a dying gasp.

~

And yet I say, do not men at ease

Show their contempt when misfortune knocks,

And see him merely as laughingstock

The one who slips though still he loves God.

~

How I now long for the days gone by

When God as friend watched over my soul…

He knew my paths, that evil I shunned,

I feared my Lord with righteous wisdom.

~

I hear them mocking, men younger than I

Detested am I, they spit in my face.

In my affliction their snares set a trap

As I cry to God and plead for answers.

~

Unending pain and suffering confront.

Have I thus sinned or denied some their gain?

Have I rejoiced at my enemy’s fall?

No, I have not hid my sin from my God.

~

So let Him hear! Let Almighty speak!

If I have sinned to cause my deep shame.

Let the earth cry out against me with tears,

As the Lord my God will question me…

~

Where were You when I set the foundation?

Did you measure, its dimensions gauge?

Did you determine where cornerstone lay?

Did you cause stars and angels to sing?

~

Did you speak orders to bring forth the dawn?

Do you know the home where light and dark live?

Have you set time for birthing of young?

And provide food that all are nourished?

~

Will he who struggles to understand Me

Correct My ways and tell Me to change?

No, Lord, I will not; no answer have I.

Unworthy am I to even reply.

~

For who am I to question motives

And ponder means which you employ

You draw me near, Your wisdom to seek

As Humbly I bow before your glory.

~

In my humanity I can’t comprehend

Your higher ways from which I should gain,

Learning by faith to grasp adversity

Knowing Your will has my good at heart.

~

Lord, now I know you won’t abandon,

Your loving heart will gently embrace.

Your words will guide my soul through dark days

That through the trials I’ll praise your name still.

~

You’re in control, all things You do well,

Great wisdom is found within Your counsel.

I cannot measure Your wonderful ways

I spoke my turn without true knowledge.

~

While I like Job of long ago days

Cannot fathom wisdom from above

Not mine to know, but His to decree

The reasons and plans which He has set forth.

~

So, guide my feet Lord, let sin not take hold

May You yet impart wisdom to my heart

That I may praise and worship You, Lord

For my life exists to glorify You.

~

November 2014

~~

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Sign in to follow this  
×