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Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

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Linda Roorda

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

In honor of Veterans' Day this Wednesday, sharing my blog from 2016: Heroes of Yesterday - I’ve read books or stories from virtually every war in which men and women of our nation, including my family and ancestors, have been involved. Their sacrifices have deeply touched my heart as I live a life of freedom, a blessing either limited or unknown to so many elsewhere in this world. Yet, our families have not known a loss in war during this past century.

Recently, friends of ours shared some treasured family papers with me. Before the reign of Covid-19, Gene Dougherty would visit my husband, Ed, while I attended an afternoon Bible study with his wife, Lena. The spring of 2016, several boxes of treasures were given to Lena by a relative, mementoes she never knew her mother had kept. They included old photographs and newspaper clippings. What especially touched Lena’s heart were family photos and letters, including from her brother, Glen, who had died in World War II.

Lena’s mother, Edna, had saved numerous clippings of the war from a local Binghamton newspaper. Here were reports of a war’s ups and downs, of the efforts of battle-worn troops, of men who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and of soldiers who returned home safely. Also included were touching reports by Ernie Pyle, a reporter embedded with troops in the European theater and later in the South Pacific.

Pyle was a beloved reporter in the U.S. and abroad. He had a way with words, evoking an empathy from his readers for the servicemen he wrote about. A reporter who opened his readers’ eyes, he put a personal touch to the effects of war, and to the emotions of hard-won battles for freedom’s sake. I remember him well… no, I did not grow up during the war, but had purchased and read his book, “Brave Men,” as a teen. Perusing through Lena’s papers, I knew I had to take that book off my bookshelf and refresh my memory.

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Then, as I continued to read through Lena’s papers, thoughts and emotions swirled around and the following poem began taking shape. I have always been grateful to those men and women who have joined the military to protect our freedoms and to gain the same for the oppressed around the world. But to think about each one who has ever gone off to war, to remember them as their family knew and loved them so well… is to contemplate the little child who ran into the loving arms of parents with boundless energy, full of love and joy… the playing and learning he or she did under their wise and watchful eyes… the teen coming to terms with adolescent struggles… the young adult who emerged from military basic training with a new sense of purpose… the seasoned soldier whose loyalty to his or her unit proved a perseverance and bravery they never thought they had… and the final tribute paid to one who gave his or her all that others might live… is to contemplate the heart and soul of each one who left behind a sweetheart or spouse, beloved parents and siblings, and even children… the one forever remembered for a life interrupted, of the great sacrifice made, and of the legacy now carried in the heart and soul of those who have grieved their loss.

As we celebrate Veterans’ Day this week, may this simple poem evoke in you a heart of thanks for all who have served, or paid the ultimate sacrifice in any war. Without a willingness to put their lives on the line for the sake of freedom, we would not be enjoying our “…land of the brave and home of the free.”

Thank you to each of you who has served in the military, and to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Heroes of Yesterday 

Linda A. Roorda

Where tyranny reigns evil’s at the helm

As the young and free who know only peace

With faces brave must enter the fray

In the fight for rights we take for granted.

~

Responsibility trains boys into men

With troop cohesion, a unit’s tight bond

To honor and hold each life in their care

For freedom’s defense and the rights of all.

~

Orders to battle and the hell of war

The call to arms which tests the mettle

For within each heart lies the chance to prove

The value of truth to fail or succeed.

~

From red alert to general quarters

Emotions run deep in calm before strife

Of imminent fight and future yearnings

Always thinking, “If I get through…alive…”*

~

The sounds of war above stealth and fear

The zing of bullets and bombs that explode

Challenges met, overcome with courage

Proving capable the common valor.

~

Back home they reflect, living fear and dread

Loved ones waiting for word from afar

A card or letter received with relief

Until the knock comes when time stands still.

~

The letters home that ceased too soon

As horrors of war burn deep in the soul

Who’ll be the judge at the end of combat

What the heart ponders to serve and protect…

~

To gain advantage with success for peace

To hold these truths that all may live free

To lift the spirit and rebuild from loss

As we remember peace has a cost.

~~

05/04/16

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

*”Brave Men,” Ernie Pyle, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1944, p.5

Linda Roorda

I got to thinking one evening while doing dishes after dinner… am I a Mary or a Martha?  Or perhaps a little of both?  I’ve always been intrigued by the biblical story of Mary and Martha, two sisters, friends of Jesus along with their brother, Lazarus.  Luke 10:38-42 describes Jesus’ visit to their home where Mary joined others and sat at His feet, listening to His teaching.  But Martha remained in the other room preparing a meal for their guests.  While busying herself with all that went into food preparation, her frustration simmered to a boiling point.

 Life gets so busy and hectic sometimes, doesn’t it?  Ever feel like you’re trapped in the kitchen while everyone else is having a great time visiting, talking and laughing?  I’ll admit I have!  Cooking is not my forte`.  I’d much rather be visiting with my guests than in the kitchen.  So, I empathize with Martha.  There’s so much to do for your guests, and you fret and worry as time presses in.  You want everything to be right for them to feel special, loved and appreciated… to give attention to the fine details as you prepare to serve them a delicious meal.

 Being the oldest of six, having helped care for four younger brothers during my teen years, taking the family laundry in a wagon to the laundromat every week for some time at age 11-12 with my sister in Clifton when our Mom was laid up, plus an every-other-day babysitting job of four children all through high school from 4 p.m. through 1:20 a.m., (alternating evenings with my sister), plus other weekend babysitting jobs, plus caring for my horse and flock of several dozen chickens and ducks, plus working for a lawyer in the afternoons during my senior year of high school and full-time after graduation, contributing a portion of my income to my parents for room and board while also buying my own clothes, fabric to make clothes, paying for my own school supplies and for a car with its upkeep, I’ve always felt responsible for myself, and everyone and everything else.  Even my husband and kids will tell you that!  To be honest, with Martha being the oldest sibling, perhaps she also carried the weight of responsibility and obligation that Mary may not have felt as strongly.

 So, as Martha prepared the meal, in frustration and perhaps with a quick temper, she petulantly asked Jesus, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” and then even demanded, “Tell her to help me!”  On one hand, you’d think that was a valid request – after all, they needed to eat, and Martha did need help.  But, on the other hand, I’ve also been appalled at Martha’s nerve for speaking in such a demanding tone to their beloved teacher.  And isn’t that how I sometimes think when I’m overwhelmed by life’s demands?  Yet, instead of answering sharply, Jesus gently rebuked her for being concerned with these lesser matters, saying, “Martha, Martha.  You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 His response to Martha can seem a bit confusing.  As I contemplate His words though, I believe Jesus intended that the meal could wait.  They didn’t need anything fancy – no abundant buffet or big fuss was necessary.  Martha only needed to serve something simple, quick and easy.  I believe He wanted Martha to understand the value of the personal time and teaching He was giving to the guests, and to the sisters in their home.  In essence, He was reminding them of something He’d taught the crowds in His Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink… But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow… (Matthew 6:25, 33, 34a NIV)

 Priorities mattered then just as much as they do now… in my life… in all our lives.  I need to set aside quiet time to think and reflect, to meditate, to pray and listen to what God is trying to say within my heart… and to give Him the weight of responsibility I feel for everything.  I need not fret and worry.  The Apostle Peter understood how we feel and said it well, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 NIV)  When I do, it sure seems to help me handle whatever comes my way.  It also seems to put life into a clearer perspective so that I can better serve others with a heart of joy instead of stress in the little nuisances of life.

Mary or Martha

Linda A. Roorda

~

 

If I were Mary, Or were I but Martha,

What would I choose Should a friend come to call?

Would I be too busy To welcome my guest,

Or would I gaze attentive And at His side be still.

~

But a meal must be served! The depth of discussion

I’m too busy to hear There’s so much to be done!

Lord, can’t you tell Mary I need her help now!

The preparations are great A burden for me alone.

~

Martha, my dear child, Can you not understand?

Mary’s gentle spirit Seeks my Word for her soul.

There’s a time and a place For the busyness of life

With much to be done For those in need of care.

~

And yet there’s a time To come away from it all

As you quietly listen And ponder My Word.

A word of wisdom I seek, To restore my soul.

Lord, show me the path, My steps to trace Yours.

~

Attentive and still To quiet the chaos

In the depths of my soul I need You, dear Lord.

Your soft voice I hear As I sit at your feet

Resting in Your Word The Way for my life.

~~

09/05/13

 

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

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It 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
You may share this blogsite, but
It may not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
There have been many times when my peace was shattered… in difficult storms, painful wounds, and major losses… and I was in turmoil.  Like recently when my husband was found to be in life-threatening diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome.  We were both overwhelmed with his new diagnosis and treatment regimen on top of multiple other health issues.  We fully realize countless others have successfully dealt with this diagnosis, but the initial shock left us overwhelmed.  
 Then I remembered words written centuries ago.  Reading our devotions one evening a few years ago, my husband quietly asked me to read Psalm 91.  He wasn’t sure what it said, but he had a strong sense that he needed to tell me to read this particular Psalm.
 Reading Psalm 91 aloud, I found these words written by King David spoke to my heart:  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’… He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart… If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent… ‘Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him…’ He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”  (vs.1-2, 4, 9-10, 14-15. NIV)
 
Despite the tears rolling down while reading the entire Psalm, I felt a great sense of comfort and peace… that peace which passes all understanding despite the trial.  (Philippians 4:7)
 None of us is immune to the storms of life, though sometimes God graciously allows a storm to pass around us without disturbing our equilibrium.  Yet, neither are we promised a life of ease.  As Jesus reminded his followers in John 16:33:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  
 The one who is ill may not even look ill.  They remember their busy fulfilling life of the past, replaced by a limited worth or useless feeling that permeates their days.  It is normal to grieve life changes with sadness and frustration, even as my husband’s great sense of humor pops through to envelope us in therapeutic hearty laughter.  
 I will also admit to a touch of envy knowing most friends can do anything or go wherever they want.  It can be hard to identify with those who deal with chronic illness, facing health issues and concerns healthy folks don’t encounter.  There is a grieving process that can initially leave you void of the joy which James 1:2-3 speaks about as we come accept chronic illness.  Guilt may be added to the chronically ill person and family when prayers for healing seem to go unanswered.  We pray for healing, but especially for strength to handle each day.  Healing as we want may not be God’s will.  The Apostle Paul was not healed as he desired, but learned God’s grace was sufficient with Christ’s power and strength evident through his weaknesses.  (II Corinthians 12:7-10)   Relying on God for wisdom and strength each day, His power shines through.
I will never forget a hospital chaplain who sat with me when Ed was in the ICU 10 years ago for severe grand mal seizures.  Gradually pulling out our life story, he listened and cared deeply, praying with me in facing a new stressor.
We appreciate the support and prayers of family and friends as we face each new storm.  Take time to hear concerns as we accept a new norm, leaning on God as He walks beside us.  Share your heartfelt hugs.  Convey a depth of feeling in asking, “how are you doing.”  Friends and family who ask and truly listen to understand what anyone with chronic illness faces bring much comfort.  Offers of help are gratefully appreciated.  
 While we’re inside the storm, even though the wind and waves batter our world, we do remember God is still there, still in control.  We know we can trust Him to hold us tightly, to shelter and protect… even though we may lose everything, including life itself, as when we lost our daughter.  Yet, through the storm, He will make a way, perhaps close one door to open a better one, and shine His light to guide us as we move forward… one step at a time.
 It’s where we place our trust that peace will be revealed.  And when it’s placed in our Lord’s perfect will, trusting that He has our best interests at heart even in the most difficult times, we see Him help us handle what’s come our way as we grow in faith to become more like Christ.  With such trust, our faith remains unshakeable and we find a renewed peace… with a joy that passes understanding.
 There’s a painting I love entitled “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” http://www.jackdawson.com/categories.php?category=Seek-%26-Find-Prints/Peace-in-the-Midst-of-the-Storm by Jack E. Dawson.  The story is told that a wealthy benefactor searched for the perfect painting depicting peace.  The first two beautiful tranquil scenes were rejected.  When the artist returned to his easel in frustration at his work being rejected, his prayer prompted the design of a riveting scene.  On a dark and stormy night, water gushes in torrents over rocky ledges.  Calmly, a mother bird sits upon her nest tucked under a ledge, protecting her young while the elements rage.  What peace!  
Studying that painting, I also notice a profile of Christ in the rock formations and a cross created by rocky fractures.  Considering how our heavenly Father gently guides and protects us during the storms of life, however fierce they may be, it’s His canopy of love and peace that shelters and comforts.  And, I can be at peace when life is in turmoil knowing that “[He] will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him].  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord…is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV)
Peace
Linda A. Roorda
~
There is a peace in the depth of my soul
A joy that only comes from Your love
For in the midst of storms and trials
My heart is steady when focused on You.
~
But peace is fleeting when I fail to heed
When I take charge and grasp hold the wheel
I need to trust that Your ways are best
When through the darkness I walk gripped by fear.
~
For as the waves relentlessly toss
Your face I’ll seek for comforting solace
I know You’ll guide me to a safer shore
As Your light shines down to brighten my way.
~
For what is peace without Your mercy
The hand held out to offer refuge
An ear to hear burdens of the heart
Arms to envelope the soul in turmoil.
~
Grace beyond measure You pour over me 
Yet I don’t deserve riches of mercy
Prone to wander, to follow my will
Still You pursue to seek and to save.
~
There is contentment just in the knowing
Whenever I feel the world crashing down
You call my name and draw me with joy
Out of the chaos and into Your arms.
~
And like a fresh rain washing over me
Peace like the sun envelopes my soul
It covers my life with joy unreserved
Tranquility found as I rest in You.
~~
07/08/15
You may share this blogsite, but 
It may not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
 
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
You may share this blogsite, but
It may not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
It doesn’t take much to realize that greater strength lies in the cord of several strands twined together rather than a single strand alone.  And so it is with marriage.
 
Marriage is often compared to this tightly woven cord of three strands though, admittedly, at times our strands were not as tightly woven as they should have been.  But, isn’t that how we grow wiser, learning from experience?  When we’re individually joined in marriage, we become a couple.  I believe God created us distinctly men and women, establishing the marriage union first with Adam and Eve.  As we read in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.’”  And in this, God joins the two to become a more efficient unit.  As a couple, our differences or weaknesses are strengthened ; and, as we work together, we complement each other.
 
In joining our hearts, we are also united with God in a holy union, like a cord of three strands for greater strength.  And we find biblical wisdom demonstrates this very point:  “If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:10a, 12)
 
Married in 1974 by Rev. Robert W. DeVries from Rochester, NY overseeing our Owego Christian Reformed Church, one of his examples was that if we attempt to do things in our own strength we will often fail.  As a couple, we have a better chance to succeed in facing this journey of life when united in a common goal.  But, an even stronger bond is created by the triangle formed as we keep God at the top with the lower horizontal points balanced by each of us as husband and wife. 
 
“‘Haven’t you read,’ [Jesus] replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female… For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)
 
For me and Ed, our marriage is especially close and strong when God is at the center of our relationship, so intertwined that we acknowledge Him in all we do.  In seeking God’s wisdom through prayer on this journey, we find the answers we need to overcome obstacles and move forward in His will.  
 
Like bookends, anniversaries hold between them the memories of our lives.  And October 26 marks our 45th anniversary.  Our love has seen us through both difficult and happy days as the decades witnessed change and growth within ourselves and our family.  I’ve often said I wish I knew then what I know now, but God grew us each in unique ways as our tiny infants matured into the young adults He intended them, and us, to become.  And though the years witnessed much sadness, including Ed’s disabilities and the loss of our oldest daughter at 25 years, the Lord also blessed our family with much joy and peace.
 
As part of our vows, Edward promised me his deepest love, unselfish devotion and tenderest care.  He promised to direct our lives into a path of faith and hope in Christ as a faithful husband, no matter what lay ahead.  Expressing deepest joy, I came into a new life with him as my husband, loving him, learning from him, and seeking to please him.  As God had prepared me for him, I vowed to strengthen, comfort and encourage him, no matter what lay ahead.  Though imperfect, we sure tried!
 
But I will admit that I have not always sought God first.  As alluded to in my poems and blogs, life is not an easy road... at least it has not been for us, and I have to fight the desire to take the reins myself.  Maybe it has something to do with being the oldest of six, and, with my husband’s disabilities, being responsible for much.  Instead, I need to release that tendency and give control to the Lord.
 
Over the years, we learned true love cannot remain the same; without growth it ceases to exist.  Yet, how often don’t we find that love grows by facing those difficulties of life together… the hard times which can either draw two hearts closer or tear them asunder.  Love must be nurtured and fed, and given room to grow and expand horizons in order to complement and care for each other. 
 
True love is all about teamwork that strengthens bonds.  True love is a choice to remain committed to vows made before God on a joyous wedding day… because the tough times will come. We’ve been there.  And those tough days will attempt to tear apart bonds once considered unbreakable… offering an easy way out to a seemingly better life.  Little tears can either become permanent scars that irritate, or be scars which evidence the soul’s healing to bring wisdom and understanding with peace and a deeper love.
 
True love is also about making sacrifices… thinking more highly of our spouse than ourself… carrying the one who stumbles or becomes ill long term… opening up in total honesty with mutual respect and trust, extending forgiveness and grace with arms open wide… for true love grows deeper as the foundation is strengthened.  As the words flow when writing a poem (and later writing its reflection), I find the Lord speaking to my heart… imparting His truth and wisdom.  Coming from a family whose parents divorced amidst dysfunction, I’m thankful for the Lord’s guiding hand through life’s difficulties. 
 
In writing the poem below, I had no idea there was a ministry named for the “God’s Knot or Cord of Three Strands”.  Simply searching for the verse above which referenced the strands of three, I came across a ministry that provides three cords on a golden ring for the bride and groom to braid as a symbol of God’s presence intertwined in their marriage. 
 
What a beautiful reminder of our Lord’s presence among us!  Contemplating the sturdy cord made from three strands, it becomes clear we are not as easily pulled asunder when the Lord is intertwined within our marriage.  United thus, we can better resist and withstand the temptations and trials which inevitably come our way.  
 Strands of Three
Linda A. Roorda 
The day I said I do to you
Was the day we joined our hearts as one
Thinking we only were thus entwined
The Lord made three for a tight-knit bond.
 
When young we think our love holds secure
It’s all we need to face the great world
With hopes and dreams and wide-eyed innocence
We’re an open book, invincible team.
 
You let me know how great was your love
You’d never let me wander alone
You took my hand as we walked this path
Lit from above by wisdom’s grace.
 
Yet there were times we could not see
Life’s toughest road around the corner
Devoid of help or so it had seemed
We could only grasp the three-stranded cord.
 
Together we stood as the storms hit hard
When winds blew fierce like gales at sea
You held me close with a calming peace
Protecting my heart from disaster’s fate.
 
You set me free on a mountain peak
Your love released my soul to new heights
That with your gift others I may bless
For love is meant to be given away.
 
And so I sing as the love we share
Brings grace to each in the time of need
For who are we mercy to withhold
When the Lord above is woven within.
 
No matter the test when focus is held
Our loving Lord gives mercy and grace
For our journey’s steps reflect strength within
When our hearts are twined as strands of three.
~~
Jan 2015 - 05/22/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~
Linda Roorda
I 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
Looking forward to the weekend, I find that once I get there, the chores on my list seem to never end.  There’s no escape!  They need to be taken care of… though I’d much rather enjoy a respite with my hobbies – sewing, gardening, taking a walk, or just relaxing on a bench in my gardens enjoying nature's beauty and listening to the birds.  But, the demands of responsibilities like paying bills, laundry, cleaning, baking, etc. all take precedence over “play time”… which I then savor as my treat, like dessert, after the necessaries have been properly take care of.
 
Proverbs 31 and the excellent wife… a woman more valuable than the most beautiful and precious gem.  Her accomplishments in caring for her husband and family are deserving of great reward.  “A wife of noble character who can find?”  [Prov. 31:1 NIV]
 
This excellent and virtuous woman embodies all we could ever want or hope to be.  She not only excels in the care of her home and family, but she also excels outside the home in the business world.  Her husband trusts her completely, knowing that she has his good at heart.  And, with the knowledge of her support, he earns great respect in his own business arena.  The excellent wife and mother cares about her family as well as those in her employ.  She has wisdom, empathy and mercy… with a loving and discerning heart to meet their needs.  She provides for her family’s future; and, knowing all that she has done in advance, she can smile or even laugh at the hardships which will inevitably come. 
 
On the other hand, I am well aware that I simply don’t measure up.  Though I sure try, I so often fail.  On verbalizing my thoughts of failure to our Sunday School class while studying this chapter a while back, I discovered I wasn’t alone in those feelings.  But, Pastor kindly reminded us all that that is where God’s loving forgiveness and grace comes in… as we pick ourselves back up and try again with our Lord always at our side. 
 
Our excellent wife, or even a single woman, also embodies the wisdom found in the whole book of Proverbs, intended for each of us… a wisdom in its entirety which I do not have.  Left to my own devices, I revert back to thinking I can handle life all on my own, thank you very much.  But, knowing that I don’t measure up, Proverbs 31 reminds me whose wisdom and discernment I need to seek to guide me daily… even on a minute-by-minute basis.  And with my Lord’s guidance, I am more prepared to face the world and all of life’s demands.
An Excellent Wife
(Based on Proverbs 31)
Linda A. Roorda
An excellent wife is of matchless worth.
Priceless she is, more valued than gems.
Her husband trusts completely in her
And knows her heart as she gives her best.
~
She chooses well, her hands work with skill
She shops with knowledge to find the best deals.
She wakes before dawn her household to feed
Eager to serve those under her care.
~
She ponders wisely when purchasing land
And gains a profit from crops she has raised.
The money she’s earned in turn will be used
Grapevines to buy, others to employ.
~
With physical strength she tackles her tasks
She knows what to do and pitches right in.
She presents for sale her quality goods
To ensure her home no lack or need knows.
~
In one hand she holds the needs of her home
And with her fingers she carries out plans.
When storms descend her heart is fearless
For she’s prepared, her family protected.
~
Blankets she makes, fine clothing she sews
Remnants she uses, no wasting supplies.
Her crafts to sell, a profit to gain
That gifts she may give as others are blessed.
~
Her husband is admired by all those he meets,
As he holds a place among the respected.
Strength and dignity cover her well
She smiles with peace at trials to come.
~
In wisdom she rests when speaking her mind
Her instructing words show kindness and love.
She keeps her focus when running her home
That idle hands would not be her theme.
~
Her children observe her busy deeds
They praise her heart and bless her dear name.
With understanding her husband sees all
For he knows her heart and praises her worth.
~
In contemplating women of renown
She far exceeds whatever their fame.
For “charm is deceptive, beauty is fleeting”
But she who worships the Lord shall be praised.
~~
02/18/15 – 02/20/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
 
Linda Roorda
I love a good book, don’t you?!  You know, the kind you can’t wait to sit down and read… but then can’t bear to close up for even a little bit to take care of other responsibilities!
 
I grew up an avid reader ever since I can remember.  But, it became more intense in 4th grade at East Palmyra Christian School when our teacher, Mrs. Witt, set up a reading competition.  I came in second by only three books!  Next, after moving to Clifton, NJ, I was the only student at Passaic Christian School allowed to sign out three books each week instead of two… simply because they knew I read fast and voraciously while keeping up with homework and catechism. 
 
Then, my Dad introduced me to one of his childhood favorites, “Penrod and Sam”, at Clifton’s Public Library near Christopher Columbus Jr. High (formerly Clifton High School where my Dad graduated).  Though a bit over my head at the time, I progressed on to reading everything I could about the pioneers’ treks westward, along with cowboys, cattle ranching and cattle drives on the famous trails.  They knew which landmarks to follow and where the dangers lay.  I favored Zane Grey western fiction, historical biographies and autobiographies, in-depth looks at our nation’s presidents and major wars from historical overview to personal perspective, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago”, Corrie ten Boom’s books including “The Hiding Place” of her survival and release by clerical error from Ravensbruck prison camp, books about other Holocaust survivors, and so much more of history.  Though I have enjoyed other fiction novels, they are not my preferred genre.  I much prefer stories of life’s reality and how others overcame their difficulties.
 
Sometimes, I’ll read the jacket introduction and then a few scattered lines on random pages, or at least part of the beginning when choosing a book.  I don’t want to know the ending… not just yet!  But then, with book in hand, I long to read uninterrupted from start to finish… building up to a great finale!  There are even a few good books I’ve read multiple times to renew the memories, simply because each book held an absolutely great story!  
 
Life is like that open book, read and treasured by those who care… or perhaps read and set aside till later, or even returned to the shelf if it doesn’t quite pique our interest.  And, yet, life happens in the mundane as we go to work, take care of our home and family, and find our place in the world while the book has to be set aside for a time between reads.
 
And though it’s been said that our life’s ending is like closing a book, it’s also like that favorite book on the shelf which you can open at any time to recall precious memories.  Still, it’s what’s in between the front and back covers, and the characters portrayed, that makes all the difference in the quality of the book read and re-read… or in the life well lived.
 
In reality, though our life may be lived outwardly like an open book, it’s the inner heart and mind that others cannot read well.  We contemplate life quietly and hold some treasures private and close to our heart.  And that’s a good thing.  When the world out there thinks they know everything about you, they really don’t.  Our personal life belongs to us… a touch of a mystery to others.
 
Yet, we can’t hide any detail from our God.  He knows our every thought, word and deed…  In fact, He knows our whole life story from start to finish!  “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? … For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. …All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”  (Psalm 139:1-7, 13, 16, 23)
 
And in this psalm above, I find comfort knowing how much our great and sovereign God loves and knows me, and you, thoroughly… like an open book.
An Open Book
Linda A. Roorda
Like an open book, read by those who care
Are pages of life exposed at each turn
Where intricate themes are gently revealed
In lessons learned and wisdom gained.
~
Those who will judge a book by its cover
Haven’t a clue of treasure within
You cannot observe life standing afar
For only up close are depths understood.
~
There once was a day when this book was new
Brightly shining with promise and hope
What was to come with dreams to fulfill
Began to unfold as pages were turned.
~
Now the cover’s worn, the pages are frayed
For a life lived well is not one of ease
As wear and tear are evidence clear
Of storms that raged to bring days of peace.
~
Notice the stains from tears that once flowed
Yet take the time to ponder their cause
For fragile feelings are those in response
To emotions from the depths of the heart.
~
Imperfections rise from pages of wear
Reality seen on turning the leaf
Yet with each turn the past fades away
That yesterday’s wound brings tomorrow’s mend.
~
For a gentle love restores with mercy
As One who redeems these pages will cleanse
The story renewed, a witness to all
Of life’s true meaning and value within.
~
Then as you read final pages slow
Tenderly hold life’s treasure in hand
And gently close the cover for now
To understand this life well lived.
~~
11/05-07/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
 
“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 46:1)  Jesus 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 tapestry of life… a montage of all that once was to all we’ve become and soon will be, all which occupies our life and dreams, and all which defines who we are in the depth of our heart. 
 
Wouldn’t it be neat to see a tapestry of scenes from your life… like the movie we see in our mind’s eye as we reflect back over the years?  And from all those experiences in which we learned and grew emotionally and spiritually, what a journey it would tell!
 
I’d like to think my tapestry would show a woman who has grown wiser over the years… for I am well aware of my youthful immaturity and inherent failings.  But, woven throughout would also be the golden threads of friends, mentors and teachers who came alongside and taught me with loving encouragement.
 
Having made small embroideries, larger crewel embroidered scenes, counted cross-stitch projects, and many quilts over the years, the fronts display their beauty.  The back, however, is a different story.  Hidden from view are threads that meander in a wayward fashion to the next section, or even hide mistakes – rather like my life!  But, I also believe that the ups and downs and errors of life which those threads represent have all happened for a reason.  As one of my favorite authors, Corrie ten Boom, once wrote, “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery… there is a Crown."  (Corrie ten Boom, 1974. “Tramp for the Lord: The Story that Begins Where The Hiding Place Ends”, p.12, CLC Publications)
 
It’s so reassuring to know that our life experiences have an intended meaning and purpose… that we might gain a wisdom we could not have learned otherwise.  Nothing can beat the exciting happy times we all enjoy!  But, it’s especially in understanding the depths of pain and sadness through losses suffered or mistakes made that we grow wiser as God guides us through our difficulties.  How often we find that from those life experiences the Lord positions us to come alongside someone else who might be struggling and in need of an emotional lift.  For we, too, have tucked away memories of treasured friends who traveled beside us when we were in need.  Though we may not think of it that way, they are, indeed, the gems of our life… just as we are for others. 
 
With these thoughts, I was reminded that “...in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)  Through our patchwork experiences, we bring our worship of “praise…to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  (II Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV) 
 
What a cherished thought to know that whatever we go through, God will work it out for our good, our benefit, when our trust is placed in Him.  From the blessings He gives to the difficulties He allows to come our way, may we grow in wisdom and, in turn, be used by our Lord to bless others.
 
Life’s tapestry… that which God has woven as His masterpiece of our life… a testimony to those around us… a visual reminder of how great His love is for each one of us, tarnished and faded though we may be.  For we do have a purpose in this world… in living and serving our Lord and others with joy in our heart! 
Life’s Tapestry Gems
Linda A. Roorda
Woven within the tapestry of life
Are threads of gold among the diverse.
These colorful scenes, a journey of years
Depict a life in memories treasured.
~
Memories like dreams elusive and wary
Some haunting echoes, some images clear
Some melancholy, some bursting with joy
Of all which dwells within my soul.
~
This soul You knew from before my birth
For You’ve called me Yours since time began.
You wove the threads in skillful pattern
Of who I was to who I am now.
~
For I am unique, a special design
The only version which You created.
And all of my life with its joys and tears
Helped weave the me who I've become.
~
These memories dear like gentle footprints
Bring quiet joy within my heart
To recall a world of growing wiser
With scenes that flood the gates of my soul.
~
As memories transport through all that once was
And draw me in to contemplate
Emotions run strong and images lie deep
From another time and another place.
~
Memories thus treasured and savored anew
Serve their purpose in visions tempered
By value and worth from sadness and joy
To understand life as it now presents.
~~
Refining the love within my heart
Of those who walk among the threads
In vivid hues of brightly lit scenes
To bring a warmth and smile in my heart.
~
For the King of Light has woven my life
In mosaic rich and design unique
Of a life well lived through blessing and trial
In treasured scenes on tapestry rare.
~
Thus memories and dreams, threads of a lifetime
Have woven the fabric of this my life
While you, my friends and dearest loved ones
Are interwoven as tapestry gems.
~~
2014
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
 
Some of us know the depths of depression and despondency.  Some of us know the lack of physical healing or the pain of incurable disease.  Some of us know the sorrow and grief of losing a precious loved one.  Some of us know family dysfunction.  Some of us know abuse that no one else can see or fathom.  And we question how this could be… 
 
How could a loving God leave us in pain by not healing us, even after much prayer?  How could a loving God allow so much evil to go on all around us?  How could a loving God allow the senseless shooting sprees that kill our innocent children?  How could you do that to us God?
 
But, it’s not God who does this to us… with Adam and Eve came “the fall.”  The perfect first couple failed to heed God’s words, listening instead to the guile of sweet flattery from the serpent.  Ever since, we and this world around us have been living with sin and its imperfections.  We tend to put ourselves… our wants and desires… first. 
 
I remember many years ago leaders in church saying that if anyone was discouraged or depressed, they must not be a true believer in God.  How wrong and presumptuous to think that the difficulties of life can’t and won’t weary anyone, including a hearty Saint!  We’re human, as were the best examples in Scripture who dealt with their own failings and weaknesses which brought them to their knees.  Like King David’s psalms of poetic devotions which vividly show his laments and pleadings, they also show his rejoicing in God’s guidance, protection and provision.  He was no different than us.  We all express our sorrows and laments as well as joy and thankfulness.  Yet, it could also be asked, where are we in bringing aid and comfort to the one who has been wearied by the blows of life? 
 
As David begins Psalm 55, he sends up a prayerful plea: “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.  My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.”  Yet, as verse 22 attests, David confidently reminds us to whom he could turn despite his troubles by saying, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you…”  A sentiment confirmed by the bold and outspoken Apostle Peter who said to “Cast all your anxiety/cares on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)  And this from the man who three times denied he ever knew Jesus, his Lord and closest friend!
 
The difficulties we face do not mean God doesn’t hear our cries, our pleas, our prayers.  Though His answers may not be what we want or expect, He will answer in His time and in His way… for He alone knows the best way to meet our needs.  His answer to our prayers may not come immediately.  Sometimes, it’s not until much later that we look back and say, “Oh!  So that’s why things happened that way!”  In allowing difficulties to come into our lives, God quietly gives us an opportunity to grow.  By seeking our Lord’s will through it all, we mature in faith.
 
Even the Apostle Paul dealt with a “thorn in the flesh.”  Some have thought it might be poor vision after the brilliant light that temporarily blinded him on the road to his conversion.  We don’t know his exact problem, and it really doesn’t matter.  Paul felt it was given to him to prevent his becoming conceited.  Three times he asked the Lord to remove it from him, to heal him; but, it was not removed and he was not healed.  Instead, what Paul heard in his heart was the Lord saying, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV) 
 
In the days that seem so dark, so dreary, so difficult and painful… know that you can find comfort from those around you… a spouse, a child, a dear friend, your church family, or friends within your community.  They will be there to comfort you and see you through, and point you in the right direction for help.  Assistance may even come through professionals who can provide counseling, medical care and medication.  But, also know that there is another who will be there, one who will come alongside, hold you up, and carry you on those days when you can barely manage to move forward – our Lord.  I know, because He’s been there for me, for us, through dark and difficult days, with a peace I can only describe as an overwhelming warm blanket of comfort… for “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
 
There’s an old song I like by Rich Mullins, “That Where I Am, There You May Also Be.”  I especially appreciate the chorus, “In this world you will have trouble but I leave you my peace…”  It’s based on John 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 
 
As proofreader, my husband, Ed, commented, “It’s a feeling of complete and unexplainable tranquility knowing that nothing can shake you anymore, that God has your back whatever comes at you.  It’s knowing that you have Jesus and that He died for you; and, when the end comes, that you’re going where He is and there will be peace forever with Him.”
 
It is this overwhelming peace that I have felt as our Lord wrapped His loving arms around me while in prayer, thanking Him for blessings through difficult days... in our daughter’s passing, in my husband’s blindness and extensive health issues, and so much more.  Do I always remember to pray right away, to thank Him, and ask for His help and guidance?  No, unfortunately, I don’t.  Sometimes it’s later that I think, once again, why didn’t I go to God first?  I know I need to ask Him to help change my heart just as much as I know He is there waiting for me to draw near to Him, telling me “I’ll be there…”  Just like the words we say to a friend in need - I’ll be there… as we become Christ’s hands and feet for others. 
I’ll Be There…
Linda A. Roorda
 
When you feel
As though the world
Has closed in tightly all around…
I’ll be there.
~
When it seems
As though your prayers
Just never get answered…
I’ll be there.
~
When the road
You’re traveling on
Seems just too steep to climb…
I’ll be there.
~
When it’s hard
To face life’s challenges
That hide your peace and squelch your joy…
I’ll be there.
~
When you peer
Into nothing but darkness
That envelopes your entire world…
I’ll be there.
~
When the Lord
Does not give healing
But simply says, “Trust me…”
I’ll be there.
~
When you step
Into a bright new day
But only feel never-ending pain…
I’ll be there.
~
When you need
A hand to grasp
And an ear to hear the depths of your soul…
I’ll be there.
~
When a tear
Begins to slide
And sadness covers your entire world…
I’ll be there.
~
When your face
Looks up in prayer
While holding tight your Maker’s hand…
I’ll be there.
~
When you feel
God’s loving arms
Gently enfold as He carries you…
I’ll be there.
~
When you sense
God’s peace fill your soul
He gently whispers within your heart…
I’ll be there.
~~
07/10/13
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
I had a big disappointment as a kid one Christmas, but kept it a secret all these years.  I’ve never forgotten the Christmas when I was 5-1/2 years old.  We’d left a favorite Marion, NY farm to live in Clifton, NJ again, the city where I was born.  I was a big girl, walking all by myself the several blocks to kindergarten - PS#15 overlooking scenic Weasel Brook Park.  My sister and I with our toddler brother loved to visit Grammy and PopPop (our Dad’s parents), and that Christmas was especially exciting ‘cause we were going to meet Santa!!  And I knew all about him…
 
You see, I had a book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and knew that little story by heart… like another favorite book, “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”.  Just ask my kids… they’ll tell you not to get me started – ‘cause I still know that favorite story by heart!  But there we were at the Christmas party with a house full of relatives.  And who arrives amidst a big fuss?  Santa Claus!!!  No, not down the chimney, silly!  After all, my grandparents didn’t have a fireplace, only radiators in their city house.  No, Santa simply came in the back door, all dressed in red with white trim.  He had a white beard, and a wide black belt around his big tummy – just like in my book!  So, it really was him!!
 
Then, while PopPop took movies, we girls took turns sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what we wanted for Christmas - me, my sister, Carol, and our cousin, Susan.  I honestly don’t remember who went first.  But, I do know that I was scared despite being the oldest cousin and in kindergarten.  I didn’t know what to say!  But cousin Susan?  She wasn’t afraid of Santa!  She talked to him just like she knew who he was… and I was jealous.  Why couldn’t I have talked with Santa like that?  But, we were very happy with the big stocking full of candy that he gave each of us!
 
As Santa left, Grammy took us three girls to a window upstairs that overlooked the snow-covered street out front, the sides banked high with plowed snow.  “See those lights?  There goes Santa!”  But, you know what?  I knew that was just a car’s red tail lights.  Under city streetlights, I didn’t see Santa’s sleigh!  Where were all the reindeer?  And Rudolph with his nose so bright?  He was supposed to lead the way!  I knew every word of that story, remember?!  Right then and there, I was so disillusioned that I never believed in Santa again!  And dear Grammy never knew about my big disappointment…
 
Writing this story, I had to find out who played Santa.  From my Aunt Hilda, I learned that Richard Andela was our Santa.  Richie actually worked with her husband, Roy Oostdyk, at his Gulf gas station on Main Street in Clifton… where my father also worked on Saturdays over the years when we lived in Clifton.  No wonder Susan was so comfortable talking with him!  Oh, the precious memories of childhood that we hold onto!
 
Yet, there is someone I can believe in without disappointment… for eternity.  For me, it’s the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas… Jesus, the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior.  “For God [our heavenly Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 KJV)
 
With the busy holiday shopping extravaganza, commercialization and our hectic schedules, I think we sometimes lose a little of the joy and wonder that must have been felt on that very first Christmas… and perhaps we, too, forget to make room amidst the hustle and bustle for this precious little baby.  Like us at times, another youngster was once trying to find the right things to help him celebrate, but nothing seemed to go right for him either.
 
“It was finally Christmastime, the best time of the year.  The houses were strung with tiny colored lights, their windows shining with a warm yellow glow only Christmas could bring.  The scents of pine needles and hot cocoa mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the distance.  Fluffy white snowflakes tumbled from the sky onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, skating on the frozen pond in town.  Everyone was happy and full of holiday cheer.  That is, everyone except for Charlie Brown…”
 
“Charlie (to Linus):  ‘I think there must be something wrong with me.  I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.  I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.  I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel…’”
 
“Later, after a day of frustrations, Charlie said:  ‘I guess you were right Linus; I shouldn’t have picked this little tree.  Everything I do turns into a disaster!  I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is about.  Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?’”
 
“Linus quietly said:  ‘Sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.’  [Walking to the center of the stage, Linus speaks.]  ‘And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  [Luke 2:8-14, KJV] *
 
Did you notice that Linus dropped his security blanket while saying “Fear not” in the film?  He knew Who to trust and believe!  And that’s what Christmas is all about. 
Wishing A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!
 
No Room
Linda A. Roorda
Is there no room, no room in my heart?
Midst all the trinkets this world can offer,
What do I value and treasure the most…
Things that decay or things of the heart?
~
It seems I’ve filled my heart with worry
Frets and concerns of every-day life.
My wants and wishes each clamor for time
Leaving scant room for what matters more.
~
Like the innkeeper from long ago
He with no room sent seekers away
Little did he know, the love they carried
Was in the babe about to be born.
~
This babe grew strong and embraced the weak
An emissary of love sent to our world.
How else could He know what this life was like
Except to become like one of us?
~
Tempted and tried amidst the world’s cares
Unrecognized, despised and rejected.
No room in their hearts to welcome salvation
No room for love and gifts eternal.
~
Still, we are drawn to this man unique…
One who went seeking the hopeless and lost,
Forgiving our pasts, making new from worn
He who has room in His heart for us.
~
Is there no room, no room in my heart,
Midst all the trinkets this world can offer?
Yes, there is room for the One I treasure…
The precious babe, my Savior and Lord!
~~
12/21/16 – 12/29/16
All rights reserved.  May not be reproduced without permission of author.
*1965 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz.
Linda Roorda
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
It usually helps to have a guide, a map, or simple written directions for the journey ahead.  Without those directions, I don’t know how we’d arrive at any given destination… because I, for one, cannot imagine going on a trip without explicit directions! 
 
Since I don’t have one of those talking directors on my dashboard, like a Garmin or TomTom, and wouldn’t trust them anyway because I’ve heard about the mistakes they make, I carefully write out my directions - line by line, of each road and turn I need to take.  And then fret and worry until I arrive… have I gone too far, did I miss a turn, are we there yet, it should be right here…! 
 
So imagine being lost in a big city.  Stopping to ask a passerby where to find your destination, you hear, “Go to the second light, turn left and go three more blocks, turn right, now go several blocks till you see the church on your left and turn right there.  Go four more blocks, cross a bridge, go two more blocks and then take the next left…”  “Ummm, I’m afraid you’ve lost me.  Can you say that again?”  “Hey, I have a better idea!  I’ll drive you there!  Hop in my car.”  And off you go.  It helps to have someone show you the way, doesn’t it?!  (paraphrasing Chuck Swindoll in a sermon, 11/24/19)
 
This poem came from realizing that I need directions for life, someone to guide me… like the directions that come from reading God’s Word.  We used to enjoy listening in the evenings to tapes that Ed made in the morning of pastors on radio that we really like, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, and, for a time, Joyce Meyer.  They have so much to say in their practical application of Scripture, expounding on stories of the many biblical characters we have all come to love… folks who were so much like us in their failings, their good deeds, their sins, and their love for God – simply put, their humanity.  There is so much wisdom we can gain from studying their lives and the implications of all they’ve done… in the good, the bad, and the ugly, and in their confession to God and His gracious cleansing forgiveness.
 
Yet, so often I tend to think I can handle life on my own terms.  In reality I need help from the Lord to guide me on a better path.  Studying Proverbs in our church’s adult Sunday School class a while ago showed a wealth of wisdom to be gleaned and clung to.  I’ve read and studied this book in the past, with my favorite verse being, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)  But, isn’t it true that we often need a refresher course in trusting Him every step of the way?  I sure do!
 
From these initial thoughts came this little poem.  May it remind us that we need to look to our Lord to keep guiding our journey… daily, hourly, and every minute of the day…
 
Wishing you a Blessed and Happy New Year!
 
Keep Guiding Me
Linda A. Roorda
Keep guiding me, my Father, my God
For in this world it’s Your voice I seek
And in the stillness You gently speak
Words of wisdom that I might stand firm.
~
Lord, show me the way that I should walk
A better way with Your word as guide
A path of faith as Your truth I see
So all my steps bring honor to you.
~
May I be wise in using my time
Between the rising and setting of light
That all I do will honor and praise
The One who created this world I enjoy.
~
Yet so often I go my own way
Thinking I know how best to handle
Keep me from straying as you guide my feet
As I walk this path… this rocky course.
~
When pressures arise may I seek your face
Give me a heart that longs for You
A heart that is steadfast in trusting You
And in your presence find wisdom and truth.
~
Keep guiding me, Lord, on this path You prepared
That I may shine Your light to this world
A world in need, with no place to turn,
In search of grace and healing for wounds.
~
December 2014
~
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It may not be reproduced without permission of author.
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Linda Roorda
Thanksgiving Day… a time of reflection and appreciation… for memories shared from years past as we recall what touched our hearts deeply… as we remember 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, especially if there’s some snow for tracking… all with grateful hearts!
 
There’s 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… for it’s the grateful heart that brings the best out 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 month ago, it was another cool and dreary, cloudy, drippy, fall day… the kind that tends to depress me just a little… 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, 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 help 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 thanks.
 
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 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 the 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…
 
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
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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
We search for fun, happiness, joy, peace and love in many places and in many ways… and sometimes we search in vain… for what we don’t know.  Been there… done that.  But did you know that our hearts are born to seek?  All the while we grow up and mature, we’re seeking and learning, trying to find our place in this great big world.
 
We wonder if our life makes a difference.  Does anyone care?  What is our value, and how is it measured?  To prove our worth, we may seek wealth, fame, praise, prestige, power… and often think we’ve found it in relationships and possessions.  In reality, our search for true peace and joy has nothing to do with these things.  That’s where the world finds its value. 
 
So, we carry on, as our hearts continually seek something better to fill the void in our soul.  In reality, we’re “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” as the song says.  (“Looking for love” sung by Johnny Lee, written by Wanda Mallette, Patti Ryan and Bob Morrison; 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy.”)
 
And we keep searching until we realize the something that’s missing is ultimately only found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:33)  For God created us and put within our hearts a longing for Him… because, as our creator, He desires to have a close relationship with us.  He wants us to give up our futile searching.  He wants us to give up the world’s false security, our pride, and our faith in all the petty trinkets which hold no eternal value… to gain something far more valuable when we put Him first in our lives.
 
As we search for God and focus on Him and His love for us, we find that the Apostle Paul’s words “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” say it all.  (Galatians 2:20)  For as we seek His will in our lives, we discover that our purpose, our joy and our peace, can come only from God.  Like C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Problem of Pain” … “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” 
 
In seeking and finding our Lord, it’s then that the void in our heart and soul is filled… with a peace that only God can give.  Our eyes are opened and we see the Lord’s loving hand working through us as we become more like Him… especially, it seems, through the toughest of times.  For so often, that’s when our faith grows deeper as we draw closer to our Lord, and rest in His comforting words of wisdom… His loving embrace.
 
After teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)  As I searched… I found.
 
I Searched
Linda A. Roorda
In vain I searched the corners of life
As my heart yearned for what it did not know
But might it be the world cannot give
The depth of peace as You hold my soul.
~
In pleasures I searched for the hint of fun
The best this world could ever offer
But disillusioned it caught me up short
When softly I heard Your voice fill the void.
~
In hope I searched for one to carry
For I had fallen from heights I had claimed
Then helped was I by a tender soul
One filled with grace from mercy’s blest store.
~
In silence I searched away from life’s noise
Seeking Your voice in solitude’s calm
Within my prayers Your words then echoed
As You called to me in a still small voice.
~
In forest I searched midst towering trees
For there was I enveloped by peace
And as the sun broke through the dark depths
It mirrored the Son whose light pierced my soul.
~
In valleys I searched along gentle streams
Till gazing upward to towering peaks
Majestic splendor was captured in view
Of stunning vistas, creation’s glory.
~
In faces I searched Your image to find
Those with a heart of compassion true
The humble and meek without prideful boast
Till one in tatters lent a hand to me.
~
In faith I searched for the living truth
Of One whose claims have captured my heart
For my soul was cleansed when You took my place
Lifting me up to heights of Your love.
~
In children I searched for innocence sweet
The gift of love not lost in their eyes
Like arms open wide are their hearts and souls
Freely they give without asking more.
~
In love I searched for the best in You
Someone to hold and treasure for life
To carry my dreams on the wings of time
As ever I cling to faith, hope and love.
~
With joy I found all this and more
As my heart sang out its praises of You
For is it not true that blessings are mine
From the depth of peace as You hold my soul.
~~
10/07/15
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May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
 
Ever have a hunch, a sixth sense about something?  Seems like it guides us to do something positive, or helps us make a decision.  I’ve had many instances.  Most times I paid attention to the message; but, I’m ashamed to say, sometimes I did not heed the voices.  Deeply touched by my friend Ann's blog about her visions and voices, she encouraged me to share my own.
 
Twice I sensed something bad was going to happen and couldn’t shake that feeling for weeks, until… 
 
Another time I had the strong sense a friend was very sad as I sat down at my work computer, but didn’t write a note then…
 
Many times I’ve heard a loud voice speak as though someone was right next to me…
 
And one time I had a heavenly vision…
 
When I finally shared about my vision, it was a few weeks later.  I’d worried what people would think.  It’s not normal to see visions or hear God speaking to us, right?  Well, wait a minute… not so fast.  Let’s back up a bit.  I should have known better…
 
One of the clearest voices I’ve heard was after leaving an abusive employment situation.  I’d resigned from the new job because of an unexpected inability to function and make decisions… I was hearing my former boss yelling and belittling me in my mind, and felt like an absolute and total failure.  I literally could not think how to address an envelope!!  Contemplating ending my life while driving, I passed the home of my Dad’s old Army buddy.  I’d known him since I was a 2-yr-old toddler when my family lived in Alaska during their Army days.  Roland lived out his strong faith in God, and now, driving past his house, I clearly heard the voice of God say, “I’m here for you. Your family needs you. You will be okay.” 
 
Nightmares and flashbacks then began of abuse from my teens and by my former employer, while also having very real property and car damage, but the cops did nothing to find the likely perpetrator.  Yet, like David wrote in Psalm 91:2, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’”, God was there for me in many ways during this extremely difficult time… as I took encouragement from His spoken words to me in the car that day.  Finally seeking professional help, I was diagnosed with PTSD which had actually started after verbal rape in junior high.  With counseling, my healing process began…
 
Another time, I had the strong sense that something bad was going to happen.  It was a few weeks before Christmas when our kids were little, and I couldn’t shake the feeling.  Ed didn’t think there was anything to it, saying I was just being overly pessimistic.  That heavy feeling stayed with me until Christmas Eve when he was taken to the hospital with severe chest pain.  The doctors found he had a pulmonary embolism.  A blood clot from his leg had passed into his lung, but he was going to be okay.  I’d sensed something…
 
One morning as I sat down at my work computer, I had an overwhelming sense that Mary Jane, my friend since junior high in New Jersey, was very, very sad.  Thinking about sending her an email, I decided my negative feelings were inappropriate and did not write.  The next day, Mary Jane emailed me that her mother had passed away… a few hours before my premonition.  I felt so badly about not writing her… if only I’d written a note of love and compassion when prompted…
 
I also had a strong sense I needed to visit my Uncle Pete and years later an elderly friend, Edna.  It was the last time I saw my uncle before his passing.  Edna was in the hospital, more serious than I knew.  Taking her last breath while I was there, my simple presence meant a lot to her family…
 
Then came the spring of 2003.  I had an overwhelming sense that something ominous was going to happen.  The thought that the world was going to end that summer kept coming to mind, but just as quickly I’d push it away.  It was too dark a thought, until…   
 
We awoke on June 11, 2003 to a hot and humid morning.  I considered canceling the trip to the Watkins Glen Gorge with my girls, Jenn and Em, but we decided to go anyway.  Anticipating a great time, we climbed the winding steps hewn out of rock in the entrance tunnel, rounded a curve, and stood at the top… gazing out at a downpour!  How’d that happen so fast?  We looked at each other and laughed – there had only been a few drops when we entered the tunnel… someone turned the faucet on!  As it slowed to a drizzle, we walked on, enjoying the scenery of waterfalls and pools, plants and flowers.
 
“We walked along, taking a few photos, as I held my umbrella over the cameras to protect them from getting soaked.  I noticed the plants, telling the girls what they were, absorbed in the many varieties of ferns, flowering plants, and greenery.  The girls were chatting together, enjoying the gorge, usually walking behind me, sometimes in front.  As I enjoyed the plants, rock formations, and waterfalls, several times I clearly heard the words spoken loudly, “Watch them.”  Each time, I’d pay attention to the girls for a while, but then drift back to observe the plants or the beauty of the gorge.  I felt uncomfortable hearing those words, paying more attention to my girls for a while; but, the pull of nature was too strong and my focus would shift again.  How could I have known that God was prompting me, and I didn’t heed His prodding better to “watch them…”  Why didn’t I listen and watch them more closely?”  (from Watch Them… A Mother’s Memories, pg. 1, by Linda A. Roorda)
 
About 2-1/2 weeks later, Jenn collapsed at home in Alfred, suffering heart failure as blood clots passed through to her lungs, disrupting heart and brain function.  Life support was removed two days later on the afternoon of June 30, 2003, and our precious daughter, wife of Matt, entered the joys of Heaven.  Having asked God, “Why?  I don’t understand?”, He provided Scripture in the Rochester International Airport. Waiting for Emily’s arrival from California that morning, above us and to our left hung a plaque with Psalm 139:13-16:  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 
 
“The next morning after Jenn passed away, I sat on the bench in my flower garden in the eastern corner of our back yard.  It was sunny, but still cool.  This was my favorite spot, enjoying our yard from that perspective.  I could look back at the house and think about my family.  I could admire God’s creation in peace and quiet, listening to the chattering of the birds fluttering all around.  As I prayed, thanking the Lord for Jenn’s life, praying for peace and comfort in our loss, I had a vision of Jennifer.  She was at the base of a hill, in a sunlit field of beautiful flowers, near a tree, surrounded by children, and indescribably happy.  I heard Jenn say, “Be Strong.”  And then she was gone as quickly as she’d appeared… leaving me with an overwhelming sense of peace…”  (Watch Them… pg.11)
 
Even Ed had a vision of Jenn with long hair, describing how she sat on the sofa in a manner he had never seen.  But I knew it was for real because that’s exactly how Jenn “sat” – stretched out, feet and legs curled “under” her, while she cupped her chin in her left hand with that elbow leaning on the arm of the sofa! 
 
I’ve had more premonitions, though I cannot recall the details.  And, on two occasions, I clearly heard a voice with a message.  In one, I was told to get out of a friendship, and the other time told not to reply to someone’s inappropriate words… but, thinking I knew how to handle both situations, I did not heed the words heard… later confessing to God how wrong I was not to trust the validity of the messages… learning the hard way to always be attentive to His voice, His messages…
 
God shows His love to each of us in many different ways, ways that are as individual as we are, and in ways we may not always recognize as coming from Him.  Yet, even when we don’t give Him our full attention, He continues to reach out to us, drawing us closer to His side.  Both Psalm 139:13-16 and the words “Be Strong” have continued to be precious words from the Lord that I’ve clung to.  With visions and voices from our awesome God, He has held me in His hands, wrapped His love around me and blessed me with His peace, a peace beyond understanding…
 
The Hollow of Your Hands
Linda A. Roorda
~
In the hollow of Your nail-scarred hands
You gently hold my fragile life.
You carry me and protect me
And whisper words of wisdom’s wealth.
~
You wrap me in your calming presence
You shelter me in the raging storms.
Your comfort brings a gentle peace
With endless joy that overflows.
~
Your arms of strength enfold the weary
 My faltering steps you gently guide.
You lift my face when tears rain down
And give more grace when You I seek.
~
Your voice of wisdom sustains my soul
With lamp held high You lead the way.
When You I trust, forsaking folly
The winding path You straighten for me.
~
In the hollow of your loving hands
You gently hold my fragile life.
You keep my soul in perfect peace
When all my heart abides in You.
~~
11/23/18
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
Linda Roorda
We often find peace in a quiet place of rest.  There, alone, unencumbered by life’s trappings, we can meditate and seek the Lord in prayer.  Away from the hustle and bustle of life’s busyness and grueling schedules, we can focus our thoughts and attention as we pray for God’s wisdom and for blessings upon our friends.  Because we are so like those sheep that David settled down to rest in peaceful green pastures, we can meet our Shepherd there for His guidance and restoration.
 
With a simple prayer in such peaceful solitude, I’m reminded of how often Jesus sought a quiet place to pray.  Away from the noisy crowds, He met His heavenly Father alone to pour out His heart.  Asking for His simple needs to be met, He also prayed that those with heavy burdens would find peace by relinquishing their cares to the very capable hands of God. 
 
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus sought a quiet place to get away from life’s busy pace and demands, to think and pray to His heavenly Father.  Like Mark 1:35 tells us, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  Shortly afterward, his disciples found him; together they went off into the synagogues and villages to preach and serve the needs of the people.  “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  (Luke 5:15-16)  Another time, after sending his disciples ahead to the next town by boat, and dismissing the crowd of people, “…he went up on a mountainside to pray.”  (Mark 6:46b)
 
If quiet time was needed by our Lord to pray and restore his energy… to refresh his soul during hectic days of ministry… how much more do we need that time alone?  I know I tend to forget that, often uttering prayers on the run so to speak.  Jesus went off by himself to grieve when His cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded.  He spent time alone to contemplate important issues in His ministry.  And, He prayed for hours when facing his arrest and death on the cross.  Fitting examples for situations we face that are both simple and complex.
 
There is a peace I find in my quiet place… sitting in my gardens among nature’s blessings of flowers and birds… listening to the sweet chirping of busy birds, watching dainty butterflies flutter by, and watching the creek on its endless flow… for in the midst of His creation I feel His presence.  How appropriate that our risen Lord was found in a garden that first Easter morning!  To my garden I often go to pray, think a situation through, and hear the Lord’s wisdom in His still small voice within my heart.  For in my garden, a respite from life’s hectic pace, I find a peaceful solitude, and come away feeling refreshed and restored.  How about you?
A Peaceful Solitude
Linda A. Roorda
There is a place where I long to rest
A place of quiet and contemplative peace
A placid harbor, restoring my soul
Where the Lord I meet in solitude still.
~
A place of rest my cares to release
Where storms of life meet the Calmer of Waves
And prayers of faith trust in His will
As I’m safely held in the palm of His hand.
~
For soothing comfort and solace is found
Near to the heart of our gracious Lord
Feeling His presence all along the way
As He takes my fears and comforts with peace.
~~
08/24/17
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
Linda Roorda
Easter... a very special time of year.  It reminds us that warmer weather is arriving after the long winter’s cold, and spring is beginning to show its colors!  It’s a time of renewal as plant life exemplifies rebirth by poking through the covering of a late snow, leaf buds begin to swell and emerge from their long winter’s sleep, and early flowers showcase their gorgeous colorful blooms. 
 
It’s a special time for children as they have fun decorating eggs, enjoy the search for hidden eggs to fill their baskets, and savor scrumptious chocolate treats and marshmallow peeps.  I also remember a time, way too many years ago, when it was fashionable to buy a new spring dress and white bonnet for Easter service at church. 
 
But, there’s so much more to the meaning of Easter.  Each year I am reminded again of all that took place about 2000 years ago.  That precious little baby whose birth we celebrated just a few short months ago grew up with a purpose.  As my husband’s niece, Rebecca, once said, “That God would become a man and understand our struggles on earth just blows my mind.  [That’s] true humble love.”
 
To be loved, and to know you are the object of that love, is an exhilarating and overwhelming feeling, while also giving you a sense of security.  You know beyond a doubt to whom you belong. 
 
Yet, in contemplating God’s love, I sometimes find it hard to think of such unconditional love for me...  After all, what about that little thing I did?  Was it really wrong?  Maybe I can just excuse it away.  What about the unkind words I said?  Will my family, my friends, or even God, forgive me for certain mistakes I’ve made?  I know He has, as have friends to whom I’ve apologized over the years.  But, what about the bigger mistakes?  How could God still love me when my temper flares… again…?  What does He see in me?  I can never measure up…  Well, actually, none of us can.  So, why would God care so much for me… for each of us…?
 
That One man who was perfect would willingly take my unworthiness, my shame, my heavy load of sin, and endure the penalty of the cross, just for my soul, is overwhelming.  I cannot repay such a debt!  But, wait… I don’t have to?  My debt is paid in full?  Because He freely gave His life that I might live, all I have to do is believe and accept His gift?  Because Jesus loves us that much?  Now that’s true love!
 
I am reminded of Johnny Hart’s “B.C.” cartoon column.  He was a good friend of my husband’s Uncle Mart and Aunt Tilly and family in Ninevah, New York, members of the same Presbyterian Church where Hart also taught Sunday School.  How succinctly Hart put the thoughts of this holy week into perspective in his comic strip:
“I hate the term, Good Friday.” 
“Why?” 
“My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” 
“If you were going to be hanged on that day and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?” 
“Good.” 
“Have a nice day!”  [Johnny Hart in B.C., 04/09/03]
 
Which brings to mind a similar thought-provoking cartoon I had also saved years ago from “The Wizard of ID”, a joint venture written by Johnny Hart and Brant Parker, illustrated by Parker:  
Friar:  “Happy Good Friday Sire!”
To which the king grumbles:  “What’s so good about it?”
The friar replies:  “It took an act of God, but they finally found somebody willing to die for you.” ...leaving the king speechless.  [Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc.]
 
After the brutality and agony of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, His friends are devastated. Yet, envision with me the beauty of an early morning sunrise.  Birds are beginning to sing as the sun’s first rays appear.  The dew has settled gently on the flowers in the garden as they open their buds to the sun’s warmth.  According to His disciple Mark (ch.16:1), Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome quietly arrive at the tomb with spices for their beloved friend and teacher who died a horrible death on a cross… only to see in astonishment that the great stone has been rolled away.  Upon entering, they see the tomb is empty except for the burial cloths folded neatly.  They are already sad, but now are very afraid. 
 
Suddenly, two men stand before them in brilliant light.  Knowing their fear, an angel speaks gently to reassure them.  “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples…” (Matthew 28:5-6)  Trembling and bewildered, but joyful, the women run from the tomb.  Despite their confusion, what unspeakable joy they must feel as they run to tell the disciples! 
 
And to think that with a simple child-like faith in Jesus who gave His life for me… for each of us… we can be forever in His presence.  What pain there is to realize that I fall short of His tender love every day.  But what joy in humbling myself to recognize and confess my sins, and to ask for forgiveness for the errors of my ways from those around me and from my Lord, and then to feel their forgiveness… as the Lord’s love and peace with mercy and grace surround my soul.  That’s what Easter is all about…  God’s great love!  Hallelujah!!  What a Savior!!
 
Besides… I love you!
Linda A. Roorda
Who am I?  My soul doth ask.
What am I worth? And to whom?
I see only failure as I take the reins
And do not give my Lord the lead.
~
How can you love the me who I am
When all I see are my struggles?
Yet, Lord, You do love even me
In ways that I cannot comprehend.
~
To sight unseen You guide my path
Ever at my side, gently calling.
And as you wrap loving arms around
You cover my soul with tender mercies.
~
For You opened wide Your arms on a cross
Giving Your life that I might live,
And in return You ask for my love
With all my heart, my soul and my mind.
~
But you didn’t stay within that tomb
For on day three You rose from the dead.
Seen by many, in the hearts of more,
Eternity waits Your Gift of Love.
~
Where once I felt the crashing waves
That overwhelm and burden my soul,
Now peace and joy have filled my heart
With love to share for those on my path.
~
Your presence surrounds me with Your peace
As You offer grace to light my way,
And then I hear You whisper soft
Besides… I love you!
~
A Happy and Blessed Easter to all!
~~
2013
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~~
 
Linda Roorda
 
Analogies give us a glimpse of similarities and truths of a story tucked within a story.  Thinking about this concept after my poem was written brought to mind Mark Twain’s British book, “The Prince and The Pauper,” published subsequently in the U.S. in 1882. 
 
In Twain’s beloved story, a young prince and a pauper (who happen to look a lot alike and were born on the same day) trade places in life.  The prince experiences the roughness of a lowly life just as his counterpart once did, while the pauper tries to bravely find his way at the top of an unfamiliar kingdom.  Common sense, so crucial to his survival in the real world, comes in quite handy as he makes his way through the upper echelon.  Ultimately, the real prince returns to claim his rightful place as heir and is crowned king.  Ever grateful for his real-life experiences as a pauper, the prince now understands life for the poor and hard-working folks beneath him, and is better able to comprehend their needs.  And, then he makes his friend, the pauper, his aide. 
 
Having never read Twain’s book, my poem was written without knowledge of the story line.  After research, it’s clear my poem takes a similar albeit slightly different tack in relating a king who was used to observing the realm from his castle high above the fray of every-day life.  Wanting to experience firsthand what life for his subjects was like, he walks among them dressed as a beggar.  In this guise, he observes that most people continue on their way with their heads held high, seldom stooping to assist someone poorer than they.  They live and breathe a self-serving arrogance.
 
But, on the other hand, a young woman notices the poor man in his tattered clothing.  She kindly offers to feed him – and not only did she provide nourishing meals, but she repairs his coat to provide warmth against the cold.  He returns often to talk with her, to learn the depths of her heart, and to simply show appreciation and gratefulness for what she has done for him, a beggar.
 
He was afraid to share that he had fallen in love with her, but was now in a dilemma for he needs to return from whence he came.  Indeed, he knows that truth must always be told in any situation… and so he set out one day to let her know how much he loved her.  He was willing to give up all he owned just to serve her for the rest of his life.  And it was then that he could see his love was returned in her eyes as he knelt down to propose.  With her “yes,” his heart leapt for joy to know their hearts would soon be united forever, as he shared who he really was.
 
Tucked within the depth of this poem’s story is the analogy of our Lord’s love for us.  Leaving his throne in His beautiful and perfect heavenly home, He came down to dwell among us… into this world of sin and pain.  Once here, He experienced life just as we do with all of its temptations and sadness, but also the joy.  And thus He is able to be our advocate and comforter, knowing from personal experience what our life on earth is all about.
 
Yet, our Lord came that He might serve us, not to be served. “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28) In His sacrifice, He gave His all for us… His life… that we might accept an awesome priceless gift; and, in so doing, share eternity with Him above.  What joy there will be when we are united with Him, and remain in the presence of His love forever!  What a King!
 Ode to a King
Linda A. Roorda
 
I gazed from afar while observing my realm
And found with int’rest motives in action,
But often their lives showed merest concern
While I could see depths of their anguished souls.
 
Oh how I loved these people of mine!
And longed to walk the path to their soul
A chance to converse, a sharing of hearts
To bring them peace with comforting words.
 
So stepping down, I entered their world
Yearning to serve the rich and the poor
But they did not know this beggar in rags
Most never saw needs, just held their head high.
 
And then I noticed a young woman fair
Who spoke gentle words to a stranger coarse
She offered me food and to mend my coat
While love in my heart had only begun.
 
A love which grew on the winds of time
A chance to bond and learn of her heart
To know the depths of comfort and peace
Humility’s grace wrapped up in mercy.
 
Now deeply in love I’d sacrifice all
Yet she did not know the truth of my garb
How would I explain that she’d found favor
That her heart was true, like gold refined.
 
So I intended my dilemma to share
To let her know from afar I’d come,
That all I’d longed for I treasured in her,
Companionship sweet, a blending of souls.
 
Expressing my love for her tender heart
Overwhelmed was she as on knees I bent
Asking for her hand, with tears she said yes,
My heart leapt for joy that we’d become one.
 
And then I shared my journey in rags
From a kingdom rich in glory and fame
To this lowly world of sorrow and pain
To which I had come, others to serve.
 
For it was then my eyes did behold
Analogy of One with far greater love
Who left His throne to walk on this earth
To share our burdens and speak to our hearts.
 
His love ran red as He gave His all
To purchase with blood and redeem our souls
That He might draw near, from sin set us free
To offer His gift of life eternal.
~~
12/21/15 – 12/24/15
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
 
Linda Roorda
Life is a journey… a different path for each of us, and never what we might envision the future to be when we’re young, standing at the edge of tomorrow.  We may sail along on a seemingly smooth course, expecting all our plans will come to fruition, but what we cannot see is the unexpected bend.  What lies ahead is hidden from view.  With each new day comes change… hardships and prosperity, struggles and triumphs, losses, fears and tears, joy and laughter, and blessings we too often take for granted.
 

 
This photo of Ganargua Creek was taken by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen.  Ganargua, or “where the village sprang up”, was named centuries ago by the Iroquois Indians.  Nicknamed “Mud Creek” for its murky water, the creek flows near Palmyra and Newark, continuing east to Lyons, a tributary of the Erie Canal.  The creek is a favorite for canoeing and kayaking with a trail alongside that encourages hiking, an overall great natural wildlife environment.
 
And it was this beautiful image of a creek with its distant banks obscured by a foggy haze that brought this poem and these thoughts to mind.  As we once again stand at the door to welcome a new year, we have no clue what lies ahead… just around the bend.  We can only be in the moment, enjoying it for what it holds, leaving the unknown future in God’s very capable hands.
 
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  We can live in fear of the unknown, or live out our faith in hope and trust in someone greater than us.  We can trust that no matter what might lie ahead, God will always be with us, guiding our steps as He weaves our life’s journey.  We can hope for good to come out of the hardships, and appreciate the positive impact within our heart as we deal with challenges.  We can be a blessing to others by simply being there for them in a tough time.  We can pray for healing, as we look forward in faith, waiting for answers to our prayerful pleas.  And, we can trust that even when the answers aren’t what we want, the Lord will ultimately bring about what He deems best… for we grow by facing and accepting whatever difficulty comes our way with a strong and quiet faith.  And we are deeply grateful and thankful for the many blessings received.  
 
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12 ESV)  God knows what lies ahead on our journey of life…  He goes with us, just as he told Joshua before the Jews entered the Promised Land, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)  But, it’s up to us to trust Him, and to live by faith with hope in Him as He shows us the way… around the bend.
A very Happy New Year to you, dear Reader!
Journey of Life
Linda A. Roorda
Beauty unadorned in peaceful reflection
As gentle dawn pierces the haze,
While we gaze into the tunnel of time
And contemplate our journey of life.
~
This life’s adventure, a passage blest
Carried on streams of hopes and dreams,
With faith kept alive by promises sure
That all has meaning no matter the course.
~
An image from life captured forever
Of time standing still in unchanging scene,
While visions of yore blend future obscure
Harboring secrets of a path unknown.
~
As we sail into the hidden morrow
Seeking the ideal of heaven’s realm,
We fathom with trust the pathway ahead
And patiently wend this journey of life.
~
For there lies our faith, hope in the unseen
That One far greater protects and guides,
Trusting the day when glory shines through
And all is revealed in the Light of His Word.
~~
09/23/17
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission of author.
~
 
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