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Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

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Linda Roorda

Your Love is a Light

In a sense, our celebration of Valentine’s Day is but a small example of Christ’s love for us.  As we shower each other with loving words and gifts on a special day like this, we bring the light of love to our family and friends.  Yet, this love and appreciation we have for each other is also shown in a myriad of ways throughout the year to the world around us in a never-ending circle.

 

As we think about expressing a deep love for our spouse or significant other in special ways, we’re reminded of similarities to the love our Lord has shown us.  Coming to the humbling realization that God’s love is so much greater than anything we might experience amongst ourselves, our faith is deepened.  Such an incomparable love might be compared to a light that shines upon us and through us.  As the light of God’s great love draws us closer to Himself, it washes over us with a comforting peace, and His wisdom permeates our hearts that we may grow in grace… and so shine His light and love on those around us… a never-ending circle, for His love is like no other.

 

In I Corinthians 13, we see an apt description of what a loving relationship with each other looks like.  But, it also portrays the epitome of Christ’s sacrificial love for us.  His Holy word, His wisdom, embodies His light illuminating our heart as we eagerly reach for Him.  In daily reading and studying the messages He has for us, we can’t help but learn and mature as we live out our faith.  And, as the light of His word penetrates deeply into our soul, we become more like Him in our daily walk.  For when our hearts are open and receptive, the light we find in God nourishes us… like a plant that grows best under the warm rays of bright sunshine. 

 

As John recorded for us, Jesus told the Pharisees who were questioning him, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)  Jesus made many other comments referring to Himself as the light of the world.  In teaching the great crowds in His sermon on the mount, Jesus expounded on our being shining examples of His light:  “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

 

May the light of God’s love, His greatest gift, shine upon us, into our hearts, and through us as we shine His love out into the world! 

Your Love is a Light

Linda A. Roorda

Your love is a light upon a dark hill

Its beams extending over all the earth.

Within its rays is Your peace divine

That covers my soul with a heavenly glow.

~

It saved me from destruction’s pit

From the grip of sin You pried me free.

How can I not but thank You ever

As mercy and grace shine down on my soul.

~

It’s a wisdom gained upon this path

By learning to face the trials and pain.

It lightens the load of burdens and cares

And seeks to open doors closed by injustice.

~

It beckons and draws the soul that is lost

To hands that created and long to enfold,

The hands holding joy and comforting peace,

When humbly we turn in faith to our Lord.

~

For we yearn to hear Your voice among us

Where Your presence lies in the face of need.

And may we then share Your matchless grace

With a world that seeks to fill a dark void.

~

Forever Your light will brightly glow

Drawing us out to heights of devotion

That as we shine Your love from our soul

Praises burst forth to our God of all light.

~~

January 20, 2015

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

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

Linda Roorda

Your Hands

When was the last time you studied the hands of someone you love?  In observing them, have you really thought about the years those hands have seen… years of hardship along with kinder and gentler times?  Those hands are visible reminders of all your loved one has gone through… of a life well lived through testing and trial, and of a calming peace during or following a storm.

 

Gazing at my husband’s hands, the hands behind this poem, I’m reminded of all the years he spent as a dairy farmer… with the calluses and bruises; the painful cracks caused by winter’s cold on hands that were in and out of wash water at milking time; the dirt and grease deeply embedded in the skin from barn chores and machinery repairs; splitting and stacking firewood; the fractured wrist after his first day of kindergarten when he jumped off the top of the baler; a large scar at the base of his right hand from falling on glass and cutting it wide open when he was 5 years old; the fingernail smashed under a hammer’s blow with resultant painful blood blister to which he put a tiny drill bit, creating a wee little hole which immediately drained blood, relieving the intense pressure (what courage that took!); the tenderness with which he held and cared for our three tiny newborns; the housework, laundry and cooking he didn’t mind helping with; how gently his hard-working hands held me, his wife; and how precious his hands when they carry concerns and thanksgiving in the depths of prayer to God.

 

Hands… they can express so much of the love deep within one’s heart and soul.  They don’t just carry the visible reminders of years of hard work, but they also remind us of the many ways love is shown by all they’ve done in serving others… sometimes in ways no one else ever sees but God.

 

Quite like the hands of our Lord and Savior… likely scarred from bumps and bruises as a child, callused and cut from learning to master his father’s carpentry tools, to the soft and gentle touch He gave those seeking His help during His ministry, to the visible scars left by nails so painfully pounded into His hands which held Him on that cross, and to the warm and welcoming hands He holds out as He draws us close to Himself.

 

Hands… they have an elegant beauty unsurpassed whether worn and scarred or soft and tender… and nothing can compare to their beauty when they’re used to serve others in love.

 

Your Hands

Linda A. Roorda

Your hands are scarred from a life of service

From selfless giving to meet others’ needs

Rough and calloused, yet soft and gentle

Your hands speak loud of a life well lived.

 

Your hands of strength have been there for me

Through thick and thin they carried my heart

And when I stumble with faltering steps

Your hands reach out to hold me gently.

 

Your hands so gently hold my heart close

Guiding in love they’ve shown me the way,

And though life’s storms have wearied my soul

Your hands have brought a contented calm.

 

Your hands are rough from labors of life

Cracked and bruised they speak of hard work,

Yet they gently gripped the tiny fingers

Of children young who adored their Pop.

 

Your hands were tender to embrace our babes

They rocked to sleep and held to comfort

They wiped away tears to mend little hearts

And clapped to praise accomplishments earned.

 

Your hands have aged as the years have flown

Yet they reflect your tender heart,

For as I note their weathered features

Their lines show love so freely given.

 

Your hands are clasped in daily prayers

Seeking wisdom from the Lord above,

His guiding light that shines on your path

Directing your hands from His heart of love.

 

Your hands are soft yet scarred by hardship

They’ve been dismayed by bruises of life,

They shower love as you give your all

And gently hold with comforting peace.

 

Your hands like Christ’s have served with joy

Gifted for use in humble service

May they always bring glory and praise

For in your hands are seen God’s love.

~~

May 2015

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

Would I?

 

Christmas is so much more than busy days of shopping, fancy decorations, and Santa.  It’s more than admiring a special baby in the manger with his parents and shepherds.  It’s all about the why of his birth, and the hope he brings to the world.  But, I wonder if I take my faith for granted.  I’ve known Jesus and been “in the church” since I was a baby, I have seen God work in my life in special ways, felt Him draw me to His side as my Savior, and heard Him speak to my heart. Yet, what would I have thought if I had walked where Jesus walked when He lived upon this earth? 

 

How would I have reacted when Jesus taught his disciples and the crowds that gathered?  What would I have thought of His combined humanity and deity, His love for sinners, and His great miracles?  Would I have accepted Him as my Savior?  Or, would I have turned my back and rejected Him, calling for His death with others?

 

What would I have thought if I had been Mary?  With her pregnancy foretold by an angel, not married to Joseph yet, she was initially troubled.  But, Mary soon felt overjoyed to be chosen as mother of the Son of God as the angel had said (Luke 1:26-38) and glorified her Lord in song! (Luke 1:46-53)  Joseph was also visited in a dream by an angel to help him understand Mary’s pregnancy. Yet, what about the attitudes they may have faced among family and friends?  Despite what the angel said, and Mary’s simple faith in God, she could have been stoned to death for her supposed unfaithfulness to Joseph by being pregnant before marriage. (Deuteronomy 22:20)  Still, Joseph was a good man, heeding the angel’s message, loving and protecting Mary rather than walking away from her.  And into these humble but loving beginnings was the Son of God, the baby Jesus, set to be born…  (Matthew 1:18-24)

 

When it was time, Mary gave birth in a stable full of dirty smelly animals because no one, no one, had even a small room where they could welcome their precious newborn.  As she gently wrapped her baby in swaddling cloths, calmed his tears, nursed him, and snuggled him in her arms, I imagine she gazed on him with the tender love and joy in her heart that every new mother feels.  When he’d fallen asleep, she laid him gently on the hay in the manger, as the animals made their own soft chorus of night-time noises. (Luke 2:4-7)

 

And what would I have thought if I were a shepherd on the hills protecting my sheep when suddenly a brilliant light appeared?  Imagine hearing an Angel say that a Savior had been born.  A Savior?  Was this the Messiah promised to the world so long ago?  And then the heavens opened as a great host of angels appeared in the brilliantly-lit sky, all singing and praising God!  What an awesome sight and sound!  It must have left them speechless!  (Luke 2:8-13)

 

When the angels left, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to search for this newborn babe. And they found him exactly as they’d been told, lying in a manger in a stable.  Quietly, the shepherds gazed in awe upon Mary’s little boy.  She was amazed they knew all about him, and he was just born!  She heard about how the angels sang praises of her baby, calling him Christ the Lord.  Now these humble men glorified and praised God for her baby… as Mary treasured and pondered it all in her heart. (Luke 2:15-20)

 

And how could Mary ever forget the time she and Joseph couldn’t find Jesus among the crowds while walking back to Nazareth.  Imagine their consternation on finding him teaching the elder rabbis in the tabernacle.  Her little boy was only 12 years old!  He had even told his parents, “Don’t you understand I must be about my Father’s business?”  (Luke 2:49)  His father’s business?  His father was a carpenter, not a rabbi!  She and Joseph did not understand, but she pondered these things in her heart… how odd it all was, and yet how amazing!  Surely, she remembered what the angel had said about her little boy…

 

Mary saw the crowds who followed after her son as a grown man, hanging onto every word he spoke… going from town to town.  How well did she and others understand that Jesus truly was the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah?  The religious leaders were deeply troubled by his teachings.  Still, there were so many miracles… and no one had ever seen or heard anything like this before!  

 

Then there were the 12 men who were called her son’s disciples.  Jesus had chosen them to follow Him, and follow they did, going everywhere with their beloved teacher.  And yet, even they did not truly understand.  Oh, sure, Jesus taught them with authority and an earnestness.  One time he even asked them, “Who do you say I am?”  Peter had answered, “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.”  Then Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon… you are Peter (which means rock)… for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven…” (Matthew 16:13-20)  Peter knew, he understood, and believed; but, just how deep was his faith?  Anyone’s faith at that time?

 

Because, sometime later, after the soldiers had taken Jesus from their midst in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter was questioned by two servant girls and others around a warming fire.  Three times he told them “I don’t know the man!”… and then the cock crowed… and Peter remembered Jesus had said he would deny him. (Matthew 26: 69-74)  “Even if I have to die with you, I never will disown you!”  Peter had exclaimed. (Matthew 26:31-35)  But, now he had done just that.  Oh, the shame of it all! 

 

Peter walked off by himself, sobbing with a broken heart. (Matthew 26:75)  He had abandoned his best friend, the man who had called him a rock for the firm foundation within him, for the church to be built on this rock.  He, Peter, who had been nothing more than a humble, dirty, smelly fisherman before Jesus saw something better in him… he, Peter, afraid of people’s reactions, afraid to admit how close a friend he had been to Jesus.  Did Peter really understand then that his best friend, Jesus, truly was God?

 

All these things Mary pondered in her heart as her son was dying a horrendous death above her on a cross.  Did she understand what her son’s birth and life on earth had been all about?  That he really had been going about His Father’s business?  That His heavenly Father was theirs also?  That her son was born to live among them, yet came with a purpose… to die for their sins and ours, and that He arose and returned to Heaven that we all might have the gift of salvation and eternal life with Him?  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

 

Would we have understood the truth Jesus was teaching… without the written Word in our hands?  Would we have followed Him, regardless of the cost?  Would we have shown others what the love of Jesus means?  So much to consider… so much to ponder… that I have to ask, would I?

May you have a Blessed Christmas!

 Would I?

Linda A. Roorda

Would I know this Child from Heaven sent?

Would I pause like Mary to ponder?

Would I grasp His Love meant for me?

Would I walk the paths that He trod?

Or, Would I be ashamed to know Him?

~

Would I know the depth of His love?

Would I feel the sorrow His heart felt?

Would I stay awake as He prayed?

Would I take His cross on my back?

Or, Would I pound the nails in His hands?

~

Would I know Jesus died for me?

Would I feel His grief for my sin?

Would I know my Lord in risen glory?

Would I in joy to God’s Gift be true?

And, Would I love, forgive, and shine forth His Light?

~

April 2012

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It may not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

 

There is One who walked this earth long ago, who shared this life, and who felt the same emotions we do… the One who walks this road beside us still.  One who understands our fears and anxieties, telling us to come and bring all our cares to Him, to rest in His peace.

 

I suspect we tend to think of our Lord’s journey on this earth as one which was just as perfect as He was.  We have the ability to look backward with Scripture in hand and see that Jesus’ three years of ministry were anything but a life of ease.  Though we realize He was fully God, He was also fully human… and maybe we tend to forget that just a little from time to time.  I know I do.

 

At the beginning of his ministry, he graciously changed simple water into the best wine for a wedding feast at Cana which He attended with his mother. (see John 2:1-11) But, He also had an intense righteous anger at the money changers in the temple. (see Matthew 21:12-17)

 

Jesus got hungry, yet He taught that man should not live by bread alone.  With these very words, he resisted Satan’s temptation in the wilderness.  Fasting for 40 days, Jesus was tempted by Satan to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple and let the angels catch him.  Satan then offered to give him all the kingdoms of the world if he bowed down and worshiped him.  Instead, Jesus trusted in His heavenly Father, and commanded Satan to get away from him, “For it is written:  ‘worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”  Jesus was being prepared for the demands of His ministry ahead by facing His own human temptations.  (see Matthew 4:1-11)

 

Jesus ate with people considered sinners and unworthy by the pious wealthy and religious men of society.  He taught small intimate groups and large boisterous crowds.  He felt sorry for them in their hunger, and fed them with just five little fish and two loaves of bread… recovering 12 big baskets of leftover crumbs!  We can hardly fathom the excitement that must have run through the great crowd of thousands.  Did you see that?  How can that be?  That’s beyond amazing!  That’s a miracle!

 

Jesus was the embodiment of love and compassion.  He had compassion on those who were ill, and healed them when they came to Him in their faith.  He forgave their sins, just as He heard their whispers asking who this man was… for no one but God could do that!  I marvel at the awe and respect they felt toward Jesus.  They didn’t have Scripture in hand to tell these stories like we do.  They witnessed it!

 

He had compassion on a group of ten lepers and healed them.  Afterward, only one man returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  I’ve always thought the other nine were so ungrateful to accept their healing without one word of thanks.  It’s as though they took their healing for granted… like we often do with our own blessings.  And I have to ask, where is my heart in response for all God’s done for me?

 

Yet, Jesus was so like us in many ways.  He got tired after a long day.  He needed to get away from the noisy bustling crowds.  He would slip off to a quiet place, away from the pressing urgency of people all around Him as they clamored for more teaching, more miracles.  Jesus needed to rest and have quiet time alone with His heavenly Father… just like we do.  He needed time to pray, time to meditate, and time for simple rest to refresh His soul.  That’s why I enjoy time in my sitting gardens… time to think and pray, to give thanks, and to rest in the beauty of God’s awesome creation around me.

 

Jesus also showed compassion and forgiveness to a woman caught in adultery, an offense punishable by stoning to death.  When the men brought her to Him with their accusations, he stooped down to write in the sand.  Standing up, He told them that whoever was without sin to cast the first stone.  One by one, each of her accusers silently walked away.  I’ve always wondered what it was He had written in the sand that confronted each of them… Perhaps, Jesus began writing down their sins, for not one of them, or us, is sin free.

 

Jesus knew the adoration of the crowds.  He had awed them with many miracles of healing, but told some not to share their good news with anyone.  In every fiber of His being was humility.  He did not go about looking for the praise of the people.  Yet, how often don’t we hope for praise for something we’ve done.  

 

On Palm Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey as the crowd spread their cloaks on the road ahead of him, waving palm branches and praising Him for all He had done.  This was the one time He allowed such adulation saying the rocks and stones would cry out if the people didn’t!

 

Yet, Jesus also knew rejection and scorn, mocking and ridicule.  His own disciples argued about who should be seated next to Him in His future kingdom.  They really didn’t understand what His ministry was all about… not yet, anyway.  He knew and heard the accusations swirling around Him.  Jesus knew His days were numbered.  He knew that the powerful rulers within the Jewish community wanted Him silenced.  They believed He was a blasphemer to call himself God.  And so, He was sold… stabbed in the back, so to speak, by one of His own disciples, Judas, for a paltry 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

 

Even the night before He was killed, just like we might do, Jesus prayed to God that the agony of what was in front of Him would pass Him by.  Yet, He was obedient to His heavenly Father.  He understood that the shame He would soon face … the ultimate sacrifice for each one of us and our condemning sins… would all be borne on His shoulders on that cross.  It was His ultimate gift to each of us, ours to accept in simple faith, as He welcomes us into His kingdom – our eternal heavenly home. 

 

What love… what incomprehensible love!

 

Who’s Walked This Road Beside Us?

Linda A. Roorda

 Who’s walked this road each step beside us?

Who knows the way?  Who’s been there Himself?

Who’s felt our love and adoration?

Yet knew the pain, rejection and scorn?

Who’s been tempted, tried and tested?

Just as we are was He among us.

Hungry and weary, needing time alone

Away from the crowds, away from demands.

 ~

Who’s walked among the poor and needy?

Who’s shown true love for outcasts of life?

Who called the broken to draw from His well,

And gave His life for the least of these?

Who’s walked with those just clinging to faith

With nothing left but a seeking heart?

Who gave His words, a beacon of hope

To carry forth His light in this world?

 ~

Who’s walked beside those who are mourning?

With tears of sadness, who’s shared in our loss?

Who’s eased our pain with comforting peace

That we in turn may console sad hearts?

 ~

Who’s walked beneath humility’s grace

To freely carry our burdens of guilt?

Who willingly faced mocking and shame

That we might know redemption’s mercy?

 ~

Who’s walked alongside that we might yet share

Our hopes and fears in honest release?

Who’s cared enough to guide every step

With wisdom’s voice when to Him we pray?

 ~

Who’s held our hands when life overwhelms?

Who’s taught us to trust by giving our heart?

Who’s picked us up each time we stumble,

And lovingly drawn us back to His side?

 ~

Who’s walked each step so we’d learn from Him?

Who’s given of self that we might receive

Showers of blessings to meet all our needs

That in this bounty His praises we’ll sing?

 ~

Who’s walked with us and covered our soul?

The great I Am who calls each His child!

That upon life’s path we’ll safely abide

When under His wings, sheltered by His love!

~~

Dec 2014 / Jan 2015

You may share this blogsite, but

It 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

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

Tug Salute

In the autumnal season of life, as we age and retire out of the workforce, some of us may begin to feel unwanted and useless.  We’ve done our job, and certainly did our best… we put heart and soul into our family and career.  But now that we’re a few years removed from a busy active life, and no longer able to do what we once could, maybe some feel like they’ve been “put out to pasture” and left to watch time slowly tick away.

These thoughts came to mind on seeing some photos, like the one below from a tug graveyard, taken by Will Van Dorp, aka Tugster, another friend from childhood days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As Will documents in his blog, Tugster, about the traffic of his aptly-named watery “Sixth Boro” surrounding New York City and its environs, we see tugs hard at work towing and pushing barges or assisting an array of ships.  Once upon a time, newly minted, they slid into the water, freshly christened with a shining glow, eager to face whatever responsibility or danger came their way.  These tugs of various shapes and sizes actively plied the waters for many decades, sometimes sold to be rebuilt, repurposed and renamed to fit a new owner’s need.  But, it saddens us when these workhorses of watery roads are abandoned in a lonely inlet graveyard to slowly rot away.  They deserve a far more fitting tribute for their hard-earned rest.

Sort of like us…  Maybe we had only one job, one career, or maybe we embraced multiple careers in our lifetime.  Maybe we lived through an era in history with a personal perspective that today’s youth don’t understand.  Be willing to share your life stories… the blessings, the fun and laughter, and the tears in tough times.  What was learned through your experiences may help someone else understand how to face their own difficulty.  With the end of life coming to us all eventually, whether boat or person, we can still make the most of our time that’s left.

We don’t need to retire to the proverbial rocker in the corner… at least not yet anyway!  We can be repurposed in retirement to benefit others.  We can volunteer our time in any number of ways within our local community.  In so doing, we can bring a smile, a sense of joy and love to someone who truly can’t get out and about as they once did.

Listen to the stories, memories of the heart.  Help a friend share their life’s history.  Perhaps you can be the catalyst to write down those memoirs.  Create the opportunity for such remembrances to be passed on to their children, grandchildren and great-grands, even to others beyond their immediate family.

Every one of us has a story to tell… our place in history to share.  Like us, those old tugboats are deserving of recognition for what was accomplished during life’s journey with a fitting salute and tribute.

Tug Salute

Linda A. Roorda

They ply the waters, these boats called tugs

Each bow riding high with a stern slung low

A workhorse they say for river or sea

Vital to traffic of watery lanes.

~

Now gaunt and faded like lifeless fossils

Left to corrode alone with their mem’ries,

Who can recall the day of christening

When futures shone bright as colorful hulls.

~

Riding waves high to rescue the dying

Pushing and tugging behemoths of the deep

Gently nudging, tucking in a berth

Or pushing deep scows hauling upriver freight.

~

No matter the calm, never minding the storm

They’ve a job to do without laud or praise

Handling with ease by a captain’s trained eye

Who knows safe channels like the back o’ the hand.

~

But came the day they were put to rest

No hands at the helm, their days were numbered

Silently rocking as waves tick off time

Lapping relentless to a tune not their own.

~

Haunting images mere remnants of honor

Come close and listen, if you dare tread near

Listen to whispers of tales long ago

As we salute you, the pride of the harbor.

~~

09/30/16

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

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

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

There was a time we longed to know more about our loved one, wasn’t there?  When we were dating, we wanted to know everything there was to know about our beloved’s life… from childhood to adulthood… who they were in the depth of their heart, and what made them who they are today.  We often come to so thoroughly know each other that we can finish sentences!  We know how they think and why they do what they do.  And we eagerly follow their leading.  How well I remember following Ed in the barn, learning from him… following so close he called me his shadow! 

 

I hope we never lose sight of that longing to know our loved one on a deeper level, because life continually changes, and so do we.  And that got me to thinking… and wondering… how well do I know my Lord?  Oh, I know Him… I love Him… and I know His word.  But, do I know Him deeply, as well as I know my husband?  I know I fall short and cannot live up to His expectations.  But, I also sense a need in my heart to continually study the depth of who He is; and, in that way, learn more about Him and His will, His path, His leading in my life.

 

In Deuteronomy 6:5, we read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  That’s not always easy.  It’s a challenge.  We have so much in life that clamors for our time and attention.  Yet, as the psalmist David expressed his heart in Psalm 25:4, I find it echoes my heart-felt longings:  “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.”  While he also wrote in Psalm 63:1-2, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you…” 

 

Many years later, the prophet Jeremiah heard God speak to him with a message for the people of Israel on returning to their homeland from captivity in Babylon.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.’”  Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)  And that’s the heart I want while seeking Him in my life.

 

The day I was writing this blog in 2015, my step-mother, Virginia, and I spoke on the phone.  As we reminisced about my father, Ralph, who had died that April, she shared a story about my brother Charlie’s daughter.  At age 3, Nina tagged along behind her grandfather on his way out to the garden.  “What are you doing Pop-Pop?” she asked.  “Picking the Japanese beetles off the tomato plants and putting them in this bucket,” was his reply.  Since she wanted to go in the garden with her beloved grandfather, he told Nina to follow where he put his feet so she wouldn’t get her sneakers dirty from the mud.  Out of love and understanding for his little grand-daughter, Pop-Pop then took a shorter stride.  As Nina followed, she stretched her little 3-year-old legs just far enough for her feet to land in Pop-Pop’s big footsteps as he led the way down the path.

 

Under Pop-Pop’s guidance, Nina picked beetles off the leaves and dropped them into the bucket.  As she exclaimed to Granny, “I pick Napanese beetles like Pop-Pop!”  Nina was literally following in her grandfather’s footsteps, and proud of it!  And isn’t that what the Lord asks us to do as we seek Him?  That we would love Him enough to follow in His steps, on His path, as He guides our way!

 

To Walk in Your Steps

Linda A. Roorda

 My soul is thirsting for truth from Your word,

My daily strength on this path of life.

A joy with grace and merciful peace

When in Your will my soul finds its rest.

~

Teach me Your ways, to walk in Your steps

Let Your light shine as it guides my path,

May I be used to reach seeking souls

Others who need the touch of Your hand.

~

May all my words echo Your wisdom

And may the thoughts within my heart's depth

Reveal the treasures I’ve kept and pondered

That all I do will glorify You.

~

So I’ll rise above the fray of this world

To place my trust in Jesus my Lord

And even though some days overwhelm

I rejoice within His absolute love.

~

For gracious is He who pursues my heart

Just as I am, He embraces me.

To know His truth with mercy sets free

Blessed assurance and peace in His will.

~~

06/17/15, 06/23/15

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It 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

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

~~

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

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

The Stalwart

 

The old red barn stood tall on an open flat, alone against the gray sky, testament to a long life. It had weathered countless storms, looking only a little worn with wear and with a few repairs… another great photo by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen. And once again, the picture painted a thousand words that raced through my thoughts.

2017-01-05 Barn Hugh V.S.

As we celebrated my husband’s 65th birthday in June, that barn seemed to be the perfect illustration of Ed’s character over the years. In fact, the day I saw the photo, and wrote this poem in a couple hours, I was waiting to bring him home from yet another hospitalization. Stalwart, steadfast and true, he’s remained standing no matter what life has sent his way.  Oh, sure he’s aged, with just a few repairs; but, like that barn, he’s faced many storms head on, never bending to the winds attempting to shake his foundation. He’s remained firm with his faith in the Lord, resting secure in God’s provision and love.

Yet, it hasn’t always been easy. There have been some serious storms that sent waves crashing against him… and against us as a couple. Despite some plain old-fashioned trials, dashed hopes causing great disappointments, the loss of a daughter, and his losses of sight, physical strength and ability, he’s overcome those trials with an inner strength and peace that comes from his faith in the Lord.

Through each difficulty, his and our faith has grown stronger, for we’ve learned “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens [us]” (Philippians 4:13) As I’ve said many times before, James 1:2-4 says it so well, even though we don’t want to welcome another difficult challenge. “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Being “strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10-13) is the foundation on which we survive great storms and come out standing. (Proverbs 10:25) Just like that barn in Hugh’s photo. If we have a good foundation on the solid rock (Godly wisdom), weathered by time (experience), the structure (our character) will stand tall… and prove stalwart and unwavering.

The Stalwart

Linda A. Roorda

Stalwart and stoic through the test of time

Facing the world to weather life’s storms

Meeting head on whatever befalls

Humbly proclaiming, steadfast I stand.

~

Bringing together nature’s harmony

Weathered and worn, reliably true

Dependably there to meet others’ needs

Asking for nothing but structural care.

~

Like the pioneers who settled this land

And carved their place from wilderness wild,

Weathered by nature midst elements raw

They kept life sheltered from all threats and harm.

~

Without proper care, wood planks become warped

Foundations fail without wisdom’s base.

Oh, can’t you see! The meaning is clear!

How like old barns are patriarchs wise.

~

Learning through hardship true wisdom is gained

Taking a stand for what matters most,

Sometimes enduring alone in the crowd

Serene and secure midst turmoil and storm.

~

God bless the stalwart, unwavering friend

Who braves the path no matter the storm.

Of foe unafraid, on wisdom standing

Steadfast and loyal with comforting peace.

~~

01/06/17

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

The Pruning

Pruning is vital.  It cleans out dead branches on a bush or tree.  It clears out heavy overgrowth.  Pruning is a necessary step for fruit trees and grapevines, enabling them to produce a bountiful crop of top-quality fruit.  Pruning also helps plants put more energy into growing and showing off their abundance of gorgeous flowers.

For those unfamiliar with the process, pruning helps a plant maintain optimum health.  While dead branches, or an excessive amount, choke out the sun from reaching the inner depths, pruning opens up the heart of a plant.  Removing or trimming back branches allows the sun’s rays to reach down inside the heart of the plant in order to revitalize the entire plant.  It may seem harsh when beginning drastic cuts; but, when the task is done, we have a much healthier plant.

Without pruning, any flowering or fruiting plant, vine or tree can revert to a more wild state, putting its energy into unnecessary overgrowth.  With pruning, the focus is on nutrition, feeding and nurturing the  plant so it produces the best flowers and fruit.  Admittedly, I have failed to prune many plants over the years and have ended up with a messy overgrowth that is now a challenge of where to begin.

And so it is with us.  We need pruning… of our thoughts, words and deeds… a pruning of our heart and soul.  With the trimming away of unhealthy vices, we are more open and receptive to change… change which brings out the best in us.  As Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  (John 15:1-2)  We need pruning to let the Son’s light enter the depths of our heart in order to revitalize us as we begin producing our fruit of the Spirit – “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22)

We’re all branches in the tree of humanity, bearing fruit of various kinds.  We each have something special to contribute to this world around us.  Created unique, we’re endowed with individual gifts and talents.  But, we often need pruning to clear away the destructive debris in our lives.  We need pruning to allow the Son’s rays a chance to enter the depths of our heart… to cleanse and renew… to revitalize us… so that we can shine our fruit, our blessings, out into the world.

And since God made each of us a unique one-of-a-kind creation, it brings joy to share our special gifts with our family, friends, and others beyond our close circle.  In so doing, we bless them in ways we can’t imagine, so that they in turn are encouraged to use their gifts to bless someone else.

The Pruning

Linda A. Roorda

He takes out his shears and sharpens the blades

Ready to trim overgrown chaos.

He eyes the tree, knows which branch must go,

Which limbs need space as he trims and shapes.

~

Decisions thus made to remove dead growth

Prune overcrowding and bring in the sun.

Yet not unlike my life’s debris trimmed

When clutter is cleared, opened for the Son.

~

Bearing bad fruit shows a branch gone wild

And bearing none how stagnant we are,

What benefit then to remain untrimmed

For lack of growth cannot show God’s love.

~

But if we abide as a branch alive

Bearing our fruit for the world to see

The evidence speaks our soul’s depth of love

That we will prove the Father’s commands.

~

Abiding in love just as He loves us

No greater gift has one for another

For You, Lord, above have chosen us

That we may bear fruit in lasting tribute.

~

Inevitable change without and within

As time marches forth on its forever path

But what of our heart when the depth is exposed

Are we bitter in change or more gentle and kind?

~~

09/12/13

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

 

Linda Roorda

The Nail

A version of this poem and personal reflection was initially posted here on The Network, an online resource of the Christian Reformed Church. 

 

It seems that at times I have taken our Christian celebrations for granted. Oh, I appreciate them for their remembrance of all Jesus did for us. But, I have not always contemplated the intimate details in a more personal way.  Out of these recent thoughts, came a poem and personal contemplative blog.

 

Have you ever seen or held an old-fashioned iron nail?  The history of nails is fascinating, but not until the latter 19th century did we begin producing round cut nails by machine.     Bronze nails have been dated back to about 3000 b.c., with the Romans eventually using harder iron for their nails.  Since the earliest nail was made, each hand-forged nail has been pounded out individually by a blacksmith from iron heated in the fire.  The nails are typically square, flat on four sides, tapering to a point at the other end.  An online search brings up images of such nails from a hundred plus years ago all the way back to include Roman crucifixion nails.  Those old Roman nails were ominous-looking objects about 5-7 inches long and half an inch wide at the top… and doubt I’d be wrong to call them spikes.

 

It makes me shudder to think of the damage one of those Roman nails could do to a person’s flesh and bone.  It also seems that a heart hardened to the cruelty inflicted was required for the job.  And that was after the condemned criminal had been flogged mercilessly with the flesh torn and stripped from his back until he was hardly recognizable.  I did not go to see Mel Gibson‘s movie, “The Passion of the Christ.”  I know I could not have watched it for those very reasons.  There’s a movie playing in my mind from reading the passages in our Holy Bible, and I prefer that familiarity.

 

But, the above-referenced images are those which typically come to mind as we contemplate Jesus’s crucifixion during the Passover.  Condemned under trumped-up blasphemy charges by Jerusalem’s synagogue leaders, yet found faultless by Rome’s representative, the crowd defiantly yelled, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  As the leaders promoted the release of Barabbas, a rightfully jailed criminal, the crowd demanded that Jesus take his place on the cross instead. 

 

And, just as we think “oh, the shame of it all!”, we also wonder how the Jews could condemn an innocent man to such a horrid death, one of their own who healed their sick and who spoke wisdom into their lives.  They did not understand His life’s purpose.  Yet, here I am, holding that nail and pounding it in deeper with every little sin I’ve committed.

 

And, it humbles us even more to know Jesus went to that cross willingly.  The Son of God willingly died!  He took our place… and bore our shame… to redeem us from our petty and monumental sins.  For “we all, like sheep, have all gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:6 NIV)  

 

Yes, we have each gone astray, perhaps in only minor and seemingly insignificant ways, but our perfect God still calls sin what it is - “sin”.  To know that God deeply loved you and me, before we even came to be, and that He sent His only Son out from a perfect heavenly home to this fallen world for our salvation is simply overwhelming.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  I am forever grateful for such a gift of love… and that He came to shower you and me with His limitless forgiveness, mercy and grace.

The Nail

Linda A. Roorda

Gripping the iron between my fingers

I feel its cold and lifeless form,

And it’s at this point my wandering thoughts

Flash back in time to another day.

~

Would I have taken that nail in my hand

When before me lay a man condemned,

Bruised and beaten, battered and bloody

A man despised, forsaken and worn?

~

But, in fact, I did.  I did take that nail.

With hammer in hand I raised my arm,

To pound that nail into flesh and bone

And heard its ring bring pain and anguish.

~

Deep in my heart, I knew it was wrong.

He’d done no crime, no offense or harm.

But with every strike my sins came to mind

For I’m the one who nailed him to the cross.

~

And yet with each pound his face was serene

No anger or hate… but a tender deep love.

With tears I confessed, “My sin nailed You there!”

Yet He replied, “It’s for you I died.”

~

“It’s for you I came.  For you I suffered.

For your very soul I gave my all…”

Death will not gain the heart of faith,

The heart that to Him forever is pledged.

~~

06/27/17

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

"Poetic Devotions" offers faith-based poetry and everyday devotions of praise by Linda Roorda.

See more at her site HERE.

 

 

 

Linda Roorda

The Mist

Oh, the thoughts a beautiful scene can bring to mind!  It happens now and then for all of us… and last December, it was another beautiful photo which said so much.  Taken by Hugh Van Staalduinen, Jr., the husband of my childhood friend Kathy, the scene stirred memories and another poem began to form.

east-pal-12-15-16.jpg

Taken of the steeples from two of three churches in the tiny hamlet of East Palmyra, New York, it so well reminded me of my favorite childhood community.  It’s a close-knit town which holds memories of many dear friends, and of the church and school where we grew up together.  Living on farms nearby, my sister and I spent hours playing in the barns and fields, visiting with many friends, walking the fields and hills, and simply making untold special memories.  Until… I was abruptly uprooted in the middle of fourth grade for a move with my family back to Clifton, New Jersey, the city where I was born, where my Dad grew up and his Dutch immigrant family had lived since the 1930s.

Though the community of East Palmyra is hidden from view by a foggy mist swirling amongst the trees, you can sense the pulsing of life beneath the gray cover.  With the morning’s awakening, life gently stirs and stretches from its night-time slumber.  There’s a slower pace in a small close-knit community as compared to the larger bustling cities, and the hills surrounding the tiny town entice you to sit a while… to contemplate and reflect… to spend time talking with God… to watch the birds soar free without our load of frets and cares… and to contemplate life… all while considering the needs of those around us and what we can do to help meet those needs.

Take time to pause in your busy day, spend time talking and sharing with the Lord. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7a)  Get to know Him better.  Even Jesus withdrew from the noisy crowds to be alone and pray. (Luke 5:16)  Listen for His voice in the quiet of your heart… hear the birds softly chirping as a breeze gently sways the leaves… and, as the mist of the morning rises, let God’s love shine through to show you the way.  “Be still, and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10a)

The Mist

Linda A. Roorda

There’s a village life between the steeples

Hidden from view by mist among trees

Where time eases up and the pace slows down

Whispering gently, come pause and reflect.

~

The world rushes on chasing evermore

Dreams flying high like birds soaring free

Of places and things far beyond my ken

When simple pleasures would truly suffice.

~

Where slower rhythm is gently spoken

Not steeped in words but in beaming smiles

Pausing with care to shower with love

The passerby whose heart needs a lift.

~

Take time to ponder a world needing hope

Where peace is fleeting midst a harsher truth

And the rush of life with its frantic pace

Belies the needs tucked deep in the soul.

~

Take time to pause and contemplate

The meaning of life with value inherent

Reach out and touch someone’s heart today

Meet the world’s needs one gift at a time.

~

Hear the breeze whisper with God’s gentle voice,

Be still a while and share life with Me.

As hands like branches reach out to share joy

Let the mist rise as the Son shines through.

~~

12/27/16

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

Linda Roorda

Little lambs are so soft, cuddly and cute!  In my mid teens, my siblings and I were given a lamb which I promptly named “Lambie.”  Very original, huh?!  It was only intended until something better came to mind, but nothing ever did.  She was a twin, abandoned by her mother and given to us by our cousin, Robert, from his flock.  I don’t know the breed, but she had light gray wool with a black face and black legs. 

 

As Lambie’s main caretaker, I took responsibility to make sure she was fed.  Following my Dad’s directions, I made a gruel with oatmeal, water and evaporated milk, feeding it to her in a glass bottle which had one of my brother’s bottle nipples attached – we were good at making do.  And I loved to watch her little tail go “ninety miles an hour” while she drank! 

 

Lambie was small, not very old, so we kept her in a box near the old-fashioned wood-burning kitchen stove to keep her warm.  It was too cold to put her out in the barn all by herself without her mama.  Even our mutt, Pepsi, of terrier and other unknown parentage, liked nothing better than to jump into Lambie’s box to check out this new arrival to our menagerie.  And, I’m sure Pepsi wondered why this little one said “baaaa” and didn’t whimper like a puppy, but she contentedly mothered her adopted baby anyway! 

 

Eventually, Lambie went to her pen in the barn, and followed me wherever I went.  It was fun to watch her spring up and down as she played and ran about the yard and nibbled on the grass.  Occasionally, she tried to wander beyond her guardian’s protection until called back to my side.  Though I never considered myself her “shepherd,” in reality I was.  I provided food and water for her, protected her and kept her from harm… until the vet diagnosed her with Listeriosis, or circling disease.  Nothing could be done for her and we had to put her down.  Crying so hard I could barely see, I insisted to my Dad that I would dig the grave at the edge of the raspberry patch and bury little Lambie by myself. 

 

Such were the thoughts that came to mind after writing the poem below which is based on Jesus’ parable found in John 10:1-21.  Here, we read that the Good Shepherd knows each one of his sheep, and He calls them by name.  But, the sheep also know their shepherd, recognize his voice, and follow wherever he leads them.  Should a stranger enter the fold, the sheep will not follow him… instead, they will run around wildly or just run away en masse, simply because they aren’t familiar with the stranger’s voice. 

 

Perhaps, under cover, a thief may come near the flock, pretending to be their shepherd.  He may disguise himself and draw a few young, inexperienced sheep away who think they’re following their shepherd.  Or, a predator may sneak up on an unsuspecting lamb and lead it astray.  Disoriented and lost, the lamb follows the predator to supposed safety.  Soon it becomes obvious that the predator is not its shepherd… but by then it’s too late.

 

Except, the true shepherd with his trained eye realizes what’s happened.  Like another of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15:3-6, He seeks out His precious lamb and brings it back, or willingly fights off the predator to rescue his little lost lamb.  Listening to its Master’s voice, the lamb turns around and joyfully runs back to the safety of the flock… and there it stays, feeling content and peaceful under the watchful eye of its protective shepherd. 

 

And I thought, how like those sheep we are…  As Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  We have a tendency at times to follow what sounds and looks so good, what seems so right… only to realize later that we’ve been duped… we were on the wrong track… and we need someone to save us.

 

That someone, the Master, the Good Shepherd, would do anything for us, His sheep… especially those who have wandered off or been drawn away by a predator.  Not so the hireling who doesn’t care much about someone else’s sheep.  With only a little provocation, he’d as soon run away than fight for the lives of those sheep.  Just as my heart ached and cried for the loss of my lamb, so the Good Shepherd of our story aches for the lost, and would lay down His own life to protect and save His precious sheep from harm. 

 

And isn’t that what our Lord, our Good Shepherd, our Master, has done for us?  May we always hear the love in our Master’s voice within our heart and follow His leading…

The Master’s Voice

Linda A. Roorda

~

Like gentle sheep we’re prone to wander

Easily enticed by things of this world

But at the sound of our Master’s voice

Will we then heed or continue headstrong?

~

The Master’s words will not lead astray

Seeking the ones who meander off

Softly calling each one by name

With tender words of comfort and peace.

~

When storms arrive and release their fury

The shepherd guides his flock to safety.

How like our Master who longs to embrace

And bring us home to rest in His arms.

~

When wolves appear like gentle sheep clothed

With flattery smooth they strike unannounced

Their intention dark, the naïve to deceive

Serving their needs, the meek to destroy.

~

Then words of wisdom are soon directed

At wandering lambs who have left the fold

Calling them back to a sheltered life

Protected under the Master’s great love.

~

Unlike the hireling, He lays down His life

Whatever it takes to gather His own

Take heed to His call and flee from the foe

Lean into His arms of mercy and grace.

~

Like a good Shepherd is our Savior Lord

With care He protects each sheep in His fold

It matters to Him whose words we follow

The call of folly or the Master’s voice.

~~

06/05/15

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

Original posting and more at Linda's blog, Poetic Devotions.

Linda Roorda

The Master Tailor

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

The Eyes Of A Child

I think that we, as adults, have forgotten how to view life through the eyes of a child. Their wide-eyed innocence and purity comes to us like a breath of fresh air… like a flower opening its beauty to the sun’s warm rays.

But, as adults, we sometimes become hardened by the realities of a harsh world. The evening news on Christmas Day 2014 (as told in Huffington Post, “Prankster Gives Homeless man $100…”) showed a brief documentary of what one homeless man did when given a $100 bill by the commentator, Josh Paler Lin. Standing at the side of a highway with a cardboard sign, the poor man must have felt like Lin was his savior when he was handed that much money! He was reluctant at first to take it, but then gladly accepted the free gift and walked away.

From a distance, the cameraman inconspicuously trailed the homeless man as he took the money and walked into town. There, the man promptly entered a liquor store… exiting with two large and heavy bags. The assumption spoken in the video was that the money had been used by the homeless man to buy an awful lot of alcohol. I will admit that I, too, had felt great disappointment as I watched the man enter the liquor store. I, too, made an assumption by association.

But, as the cameraman and Lin continued to follow the homeless man without his knowledge, the gentleman walked directly to a nearby park, set his bags down, and began to pull out packages… which he handed to others sitting around at picnic tables. And what was he handing out? Food. After watching for just a little bit longer, Lin went over to speak with the homeless man. Lin explained what he was doing in his documentary, pointing out the cameraman a short distance away, and then asked the homeless man to explain what he had just done with his $100 bill.

I was impressed and teary-eyed to see a youthful Lin, with hair dyed both blond and black, tell the older man he owed him an apology for his wrong assumptions. They hugged as the younger man shared he assumed the older man had come out of the store carrying two bags full of liquor. Instead, he had learned a valuable lesson from this selfless, older man who carried all his worldly possessions in a bag… and who thought of the needs of others before his own. “You just touched my heart,” Lin told him. It was then the homeless man told Lin: “There’s a lot of people that are just victims of circumstance, and they didn’t go homeless because they’re lazy… There’s a lot of good people that are homeless.”

And I was reminded of this poem I had written a few weeks earlier. May I have the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child, coming to the Lord with a simple child-like faith as I put my trust in His great love. For as Jesus said, “…I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven… And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matt. 18:3,5)

With a child-like faith, may I show the world around me the same love the Lord has lavished upon me, a sinner, in need of a Savior…. quite like the homeless man in our story. It was his simple and generous love for his friends which allowed him to share the food he’d bought with the gift he’d been given. He hoarded neither the money nor the food. And in this, I learned a valuable lesson and must ask myself, “Would I have been so generous?”

For isn’t that why Jesus humbled himself to be born into this world of sin, a world far different from the glories of His heavenly home… to share His generosity by coming to us as a newborn babe, to view this world from our perspective, and to save us from ourselves? Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much that you saw my world through the eyes of a little child so long ago.

Wishing each of you, my readers, a Merry and Blessed Christmas!!

The Eyes of a Child

Linda A. Roorda

Through the open eyes of a little child

We see our Lord without the blinders

To know His love as gentle as a lamb

And feel His arms envelope with peace.

~

The tender faith of one so young

Is a gift from God through eyes without fear

A simple trust with expectant hope

Holding out hands for others to lead.

~

No guile is found within this wee soul

Whose love is pure like a heart of gold

Who freely gives to others in need

That all may praise and bless His name.

~

Untainted youth by worldly vices

Pure and trusting are innocent minds

With hearts that see the best in us all

And faith that hopes with unfailing love.

~

To tenderly hold the hands of a child

And feel secure, encompassed by love,

To view the world through innocent eyes

Is to see the best in all whom we meet.

~

For judging others is not their concern

They simply believe that all will be well

And though their pride may rear its revolt

How willing are they to forgive when wronged.

~

Their trusting heart accepts our reproof

When patience is taught by living examples

For character grows with perseverance

As praises true will confidence build.

~

What would we see through the eyes of a child

Is it pure love that encompasses all?

Is it a trust in those who provide?

And through such faith do our eyes open wide?

~

Faith to trust Him who holds us through storms

A trusting belief in His loving heart

And with this love to simply accept

He knows what’s best as He leads the way.

~

With eyes of a child may we see our Lord

The giver of life, bestower of gifts

The One who guides with a Shepherd’s voice

Who lay down His life that we might live.

~~

12/02/14

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

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

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

Thanks Giving Day

Thanks Giving Day… a time of reflection, appreciation, gratitude… recalling blessings even among the difficulties of this most unusual year… and memories shared from years past as we recall what touched our hearts deeply… remembering our loved ones who are no longer here among us… for extended family gatherings with delicious food and lots of it… for endless football games (sorry, not my favorite)… for hunting (let’s go!), especially if there’s fresh snow for tracking… all felt with grateful hearts!

We really do have so much to be thankful for… like starting each new day with a heart that simply appreciates the little things of life… because it’s so easy to fuss and fret about those little things that annoy me/us… yet it’s the grateful heart that brings out the best in each of us!  And simply thinking about being thankful got me pondering deeper. 

How grateful I am for the love of family and friends, smiles, cards, and encouraging words!  With love, we lift each other up, strengthen, bring comfort in difficult times, and see the good in each other… reminders of hope and renewal to cheer us on. 

As I began to write this reflection a year ago, it was another cool and dreary, cloudy, drippy, fall day… much like it is now while reviewing this blog to repost.  It was the kind of day that tends to depress me just a bit… warm summer days have passed and the cold snowy winter is coming.  But then I realized that we were blessed with a good summer and sufficient rains during a warmer-than-usual fall, overcoming the droughts of recent years.  Though they might seem an irritant to enjoying sunny days, the rain and snow are so needed to renew and replenish the earth and our water supply, and so I am thankful.

A grateful heart shares love and joy.  From our own thankfulness, we reach out to others.  I have often admired those who give their time to serve holiday dinners at local missions.  Yet, I have not volunteered as I also feel it’s important to spend holiday time with my husband who cannot go out and about… a way to make his day special.  Family time and making precious memories are also blessings from God to treasure with a heart of appreciation.

I also like the idea of a thankfulness jar, but never implemented one in my home.  Throughout the year, family members can write notes about what they’re especially thankful for and put the slips in the jar.  On Thanksgiving Day, or perhaps several days in a row, slips are removed and read aloud, reminding everyone in the family of all the ways we appreciated and blessed each other.

 A thankful heart is at the root of the joy and happiness we so often search for.  With a thankful heart, we praise the Lord for His many blessings each and every day, even for every breath we take.  With a grateful heart, we express love for each other in a myriad of ways, and are open to seeing the hidden beauty among us and around us.  With a thankful heart, we are more apt to focus on the good that can come from trials we face.  And with a grateful heart, we see that which we tend to overlook, or take for granted, as the genuine blessing it truly is.

 For with a thankful heart, we will readily say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His love endures forever…”  (Psalm 107:1) 

Happy Thanks Giving Day!

 

Thanks Giving

Linda A. Roorda

 ~

For the dawning of each new day

For the sun which shines its brilliant rays

For the birds who share their sweetest songs…

We thank you, Lord, for blessings rich.

 ~

For desperate pleas You hear with love

For all the ways you meet our needs

For answers to our many prayers…

 ~

For all the friends who grace our lives

For the ones who left our arms too soon

For tears and peace that fill our hearts…

 ~

For those who fight for freedom’s sake

For those who protect our streets from crime

For those who gave all that we might live free…

 ~

For each new season in the cycle of time

For spring’s rebirth and summer’s bright sun

For autumn’s harvest and winter’s rest…

 ~

For the joy of life in a newborn’s cry

For hope-filled days as our youth pursue dreams

For resilient smiles that greet a harsh world…

 ~

For our great bounty midst a world in need

For each new breath in a day not promised

For all the ways we love each other…

We thank you, Lord, for blessings rich.

~

10/22/18

Linda Roorda

Thankful Hearts

We have so much to be thankful for, and not just at Thanksgiving.  But, it does seem like this is an especially appropriate season to say, “Thank you, Lord, for the bountiful blessings you’ve showered upon us.”

Autumn has not been my favorite time of the year, but the leaves do put on a colorful and gorgeous display before they slowly drop to the ground.  They’ve fluttered and swayed all spring and summer, and provided welcome shade to protect us from the sun’s heat.  Now, they are abruptly wrenched from the branches they have clutched so tightly as the cold north winds pass by.  And they flutter down to replenish the soil… in the never-ending cycle of life.

Just as the leaves have slowly changed with the season, so, too, have the birds.  Come early August, their joyful twittering has begun to lessen.  By the end of the month and into early September, most of them have felt that inner urge to pack their suitcases for flying on to their southern homes.  Birds migrating south, and birds who remain here over the winter, stop in for a bite at our 24-hour cafe, or eat the berries still on trees, bushes and vines.  They sing, but it’s not the same as when they serenaded us during the warm weather while raising their families.

With the air becoming crisp and cold, frost settles on everything, followed by the first sparkling snowflakes gently fluttering down.  Some of our birds find cozy shelters inside the evergreens, a reprieve from the raw elements.  Even some critters of the field and forest have begun to contemplate the best hibernation dens while others simply seek nightly shelter from prying eyes.

Slowly these seasonal changes creep upon all of us, and we sense the changes within ourselves.  We harvest the last of the veggies and fruits in our gardens, and bring crops in from the field for the livestock.  Then, while getting ready to settle in for the coming long winter months, we pick up those projects we set aside for a “rainy” day.

As we begin to slow down in this season of change, what better time to contemplate and take stock of our blessings in abundance.  With thankful hearts, we praise God for all this and so much more.  Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Thankful Hearts

Linda A. Roorda

 The carefree days of summer have passed

As another year of memories ends

With grateful praises offered anew

Our thankful hearts share bounty blest.

~

The birds have hushed their lilting songs

Bright colored flowers have faded away

The trees have lost their brilliant hues

And the sky with clouds is looming dark.

~

The somber heavens lie cold and gray

O’er gardens bare of blooms that died

As leafless trees hold quiet birds,

With tinge of smoke on chilly breeze.

~

This silence brings quiet reflection

A time to gently contemplate

All the dreams we still hold dear

A time of peace and time of blessing.

~

For in this season we find a rest

To slow our feet and nourish our soul

To strengthen bonds and to friends draw near

Showering love from grateful hearts.

~

Then blest are we when to our Lord

Praise we bring for all that’s ours

Of friends and family, and harvest bounty

Blessings abound in thankful hearts.

~~

11/05/12

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Linda Roorda

Strands of Three

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

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

Linda Roorda

Spring's Debut

It’s common knowledge that spring is my favorite season!  I love earth’s awakening from those long and dreary winter days… though this past winter seemed like it just didn’t want to release its hold on the cold and snow.  But now, the sun shines brighter, the sky is bluer, and there’s an obvious warmth that’s beginning to penetrate every fiber of every living thing.  There may be a good deal of rain mixed in; but, with that rain, slowly and surely new growth takes shape as tiny leaves, flower buds, and new blades of grass begin to emerge.  The cold blanket of snow has been thrown off, the creeks and rivers flow abundantly along their way, and sparkling gems of color begin to explode.  It’s a seasonal dance featuring the debutant of spring dressed in her finest!

 

Drink in the pleasure of every facet of spring… from the sylvan palette of leaves in multitudinous shades of green, yellow and purple… to blossoms of white, pink, yellow, red, blue and every shade in between… to birds with their various colors and lilting tunes… to skies wrapped in shades of azure with clouds from white to deep gray… to shades of pink, purple, orange and red at sunrise and sunset… to the velvet black night skies of sparkling diamonds… to spring showers bearing fresh aromas as they saturate and nourish the plants and soil… to the tantalizing and aromatic blossoms from lilacs, roses, sweet peas, irises, daffodils, lilies of the valley… and so much more.

 

“See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance…”  (Song of Solomon 2:11-13a)  Enjoy creation’s blessing in every sense of sight and sound, taste and smell, for “He has made everything beautiful in its time!”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

 

Spring’s Debut

Linda A. Roorda

At the dawning of spring’s welcome debut

The earth awakens from wintry slumber

She yawns and stretches, throwing off covers

Changing her gown from white to sylvan green.

~

She welcomes showers of refreshing dew

As fragrant aromas drift on gentle breeze

While life’s renewal and emerging growth

Bring bright adornment for the bleak and barren.

~

Slowly she dons her delicate gown

Until she’s covered in brilliant hues

With sunlight’s rays streaming their warmth

She lifts her face to absorb their glow.

 

Regaled in finery like delicate silk

She extends a brush to paint her palette

With every shade of the rainbow bright

Her crowning glory like entwining tresses.

~

As we gaze in awe at the transformation

From sleeping beauty to splendor arrayed

Like multi-hued gems that sparkle and shine

Is spring’s debut, prepared for the dance.

~~

03/05/17

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

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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

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

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