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Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

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Linda Roorda

The Pruning

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pruning

Linda A. Roorda

He takes out his shears and sharpens the blades

Ready to trim overgrown chaos.

He eyes the tree, knows which branch must go,

Which limbs need space as he trims and shapes.

~

Decisions thus made to remove dead growth

Prune overcrowding and bring in the sun.

Yet not unlike my life’s debris trimmed

When clutter is cleared, opened for the Son.

~

Bearing bad fruit shows a branch gone wild

And bearing none how stagnant we are,

What benefit then to remain untrimmed

For lack of growth cannot show God’s love.

~

But if we abide as a branch alive

Bearing our fruit for the world to see

The evidence speaks our soul’s depth of love

That we will prove the Father’s commands.

~

Abiding in love just as He loves us

No greater gift has one for another

For You, Lord, above have chosen us

That we may bear fruit in lasting tribute.

~

Inevitable change without and within

As time marches forth on its forever path

But what of our heart when the depth is exposed

Are we bitter in change or more gentle and kind?

~~

09/12/13

All rights reserved.

 

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

 

Linda Roorda

Gift Wrapped

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”*  We love that old song and the memories it stirs.  But what does Christmas look like?  Along with hopes for the proverbial white Christmas, we each have special ways to remember and celebrate this joyous holiday.

 

Lights are strung to outline houses, bushes and trees, and even vehicles!  Christmas trees of real or faux evergreen in varying sizes are put up inside the house.  Then we choose white lights, mixed colors, or a single-color theme. And we add decorations and bows, candles, poinsettias and more to bring a festive holiday look to our homes.  There are as many ways to decorate as we are different and unique!

 

But then there’s the other part… shopping!  It can either be fun or a chore... yet, there’s something in the busy, frenzied pace that belies the true peace of Christmas.  I confess to not liking the commercialization that starts barely after Thanksgiving is over, if not earlier.  I don’t like hectic shopping, looking for just the right gift by trekking from store to store for hours on end, and waiting in long lines that go on forever.  And we especially don’t care to be among rushing crowds that push and shove and grab… we’ve all heard about those examples which, thankfully, I’ve not personally witnessed.  The deals may be hard to beat, but… that ambience leaves a bit to be desired.

 

I prefer leisurely shopping trips, listening to Christmas music playing in the background with list in hand because I’m not good at off-the-cuff gift decisions.  I enjoy gazing at the fancy decorations and gift ideas on display, giving smiles to other shoppers, and watching the faces of little kids light up at the sights.  But shh!!  I have to admit I’ve taken advantage of online shopping and actually prefer it now.  Yes, me!  Someone who could never imagine she’d ever do that!

 

Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Christmas… all those gift-wrapped packages under the tree!  They hold hidden treasures for loved ones and friends, secrets known only to the giver. Giving a gift is exciting, really the best part!  As the recipient unwraps their gift, they tend to take on the bright glow of joy... and treasure the gift wrapped with love from your heart to theirs.

 

I’m sure some of my other favorite Christmas memories are yours, too… like Christmas Eve candlelight services, caroling with friends to greet those who are housebound, memories of Christmas Day morning worship services of my childhood, and the happy gatherings of family and friends.

 

All of which brings me to contemplate the treasured gift we celebrate on this special day - a baby born a long time ago.  Seemingly no different than any other infant… except that this one was born in a stable, amongst the cattle, donkeys, cats and mice… a baby whose birth was announced by angels to lowly dirty shepherds living out in the fields… a baby whose life still holds special meaning for us today.  

 

To an astonished young woman, the blessed virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel had appeared with this message: “’Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.’  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “’Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’”  Luke 1:29-32 NIV

 

In due time, Mary’s little baby was born… in a stable, there being no room in the inn at Bethlehem.  “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 a 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

 

That birth announcement must have been so exciting, yet very humbling, to have seen and heard!  How awesome to consider that God sent us His love as a tiny infant, gift wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The baby Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us… the one who walked this earth on His journey to a cross… He’s the gift of salvation for us to unwrap and treasure.  Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

 

Gift Wrapped

Linda A. Roorda

In wintry stillness there’s a peace I find

While the world’s a’bustle with its fast-paced voice

Midst a din that beckons in all directions

To draw me away from peaceful reflection.

~

From frenzied crowds to pushy shoppers

There’s a greed we find in ego’s actions.

May we bless instead by giving of self

For within each heart we hold the treasure.

~

Yet it seems we rush from here to there

Exhaustion filling our stressed-out lives.

Did we accomplish what needed doing

Or merely deplete our dignity’s calm?

~

May even we with our lists so long

Take time to ponder and remember why

The reason for joy in this season of cheer

Is gift wrapped in peace and given with love.

~

In celebration our voices are joined

Recalling a birth from long, long ago

Announced to shepherds by angels on high

“Glory to God…and on earth peace to all.”

~

For with the birth of baby Jesus

We gaze in awe on the promised One

Messiah, Savior, and Light of the world

The Prince of Peace for our seeking hearts.

~

Most holy of nights when God came to earth

To share Himself, gift wrapped and swaddled

With an invitation that we would unwrap

His gift encased in salvation’s love.

~~

12/05/16

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

*Written by Meredith Willson in 1951, sung by many, hits by Perry Como and Bing Cosby in 1951.

Original blog post at: https://poeticdevotionsblog.wordpress.com/

Linda Roorda

The Eyes Of A Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eyes of a Child

Linda A. Roorda

Through the open eyes of a little child

We see our Lord without the blinders

To know His love as gentle as a lamb

And feel His arms envelope with peace.

~

The tender faith of one so young

Is a gift from God through eyes without fear

A simple trust with expectant hope

Holding out hands for others to lead.

~

No guile is found within this wee soul

Whose love is pure like a heart of gold

Who freely gives to others in need

That all may praise and bless His name.

~

Untainted youth by worldly vices

Pure and trusting are innocent minds

With hearts that see the best in us all

And faith that hopes with unfailing love.

~

To tenderly hold the hands of a child

And feel secure, encompassed by love,

To view the world through innocent eyes

Is to see the best in all whom we meet.

~

For judging others is not their concern

They simply believe that all will be well

And though their pride may rear its revolt

How willing are they to forgive when wronged.

~

Their trusting heart accepts our reproof

When patience is taught by living examples

For character grows with perseverance

As praises true will confidence build.

~

What would we see through the eyes of a child

Is it pure love that encompasses all?

Is it a trust in those who provide?

And through such faith do our eyes open wide?

~

Faith to trust Him who holds us through storms

A trusting belief in His loving heart

And with this love to simply accept

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

~

With eyes of a child may we see our Lord

The giver of life, bestower of gifts

The One who guides with a Shepherd’s voice

Who lay down His life that we might live.

~~

12/02/14

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

Rejected

Have you known what it’s like to be rejected?  To feel the pain of mocking ridicule?  We hear the news about our nation’s youth who shoot and kill their peers, or even commit suicide because their peers have mocked and bullied them, physically or verbally abused them, or said hateful nasty words to them, and it breaks our hearts.  Yet, haven’t we said things at times that we regret… words which have hurt someone else… perhaps in retaliation for how deeply we were hurt?

Sadly, my husband felt the sting of rejection and mocking while growing up.  Being legally blind, Ed had to get really close to read any print.  In seventh grade, he would have his head bashed into his locker by big strong black guys from the football team… until his brother, Marv, stepped in.  Since their lockers were side by side, Marv would walk ahead of Ed and work the combination on the lock so that when Ed got there, all he had to do was take hold of the handle and open his locker.  Brotherly teamwork!

Kids can be so cruel to each other.  It’s a difficult and painful subject for all of us.  But we need to look deep into our own hearts to see our own prejudices, our failings, our pride… and the hurtful words that erupt from the depths of our pain at times.  It’s not a shameful thing to admit and apologize for our wrongs, and then to ask for forgiveness.  It heals the wounds and restores relationships.

Back when we were dating, Ed shared his story of rejection with me.  He loved sports, especially football, and dreamed of making the team.  Out to practice he went every evening with his brother – after late afternoon milking chores, that is.  On the day positions and uniforms were handed out, Marv made the team but Ed did not.  Talk about disappointment!  No one in football management had the courage to tell Ed he would not be allowed to play football.  Not one of the main coaches he’d worked with had the guts to tell him after all the time he’d faithfully spent practicing.  But who did?  The assistant JV football coach (who also happened to be the swim team coach) told him he couldn’t play due to the risks of injury.  Talk about “passing the buck”!

So, since he loved to swim, Ed decided to try out for the swim team.  Again, he went through all the rigors of practice, while making sure he also did his fair share of barn chores, of course.  When the list was posted of those who made the team, Ed once again found his name missing.  Feeling totally dejected, he turned to walk away… just as the team’s former manager told Ed the coach wanted to see him in the office.  That was when the swimming coach offered the manager’s position to Ed, plus all the swim time he wanted at practice… with one catch.  Because of his poor vision, he would not be able to participate in swim meets for fear he might stray from his lane and either hurt himself or someone else.

Being a strong farm lad of nearly his final 6 feet 7 inches, Ed had a powerful fast stroke, could stay under water a long time, swam like a pro, and never strayed from his lane in practice.  But, graciously accepting the position of Equipment Manager and Scorekeeper for home meets, he did an excellent job for the team which went on to win Section 9 championship two years in a row for their high school in Orange County, New York.

Which brings us full circle… and to our Lord who never rejects us.  Just as Moses told Joshua and the Israelites that God would go with them into the Promised Land, we, too, can “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 31:7)  We can face those who mock us.  We can stand up to bullies and move forward with our head held high.

Because when we come to God in our failures and rejections, He welcomes us, and walks beside us.  He’s there to help us find a better way or give us a better friend when we face ridicule and rejection.  He will forgive our own wrongs and heal our deep wounds, allowing us to go and do likewise… to offer love and healing to those we have hurt, and to those who have offended us.  But, forgiveness does not mean returning to a bullying or harmful relationship unless the offender truly recognizes their wrongs and mends their ways.  Don’t take revenge… turn that rejection into something good, and bless the offender instead!

Rejected

Linda A. Roorda

Why’dja pick him?  We don’t want her!

Not on our team!  We want to win!

To feel the pain rejection brings

Is to know I don’t fit, and I’m not wanted.

~

But let me show you what I can do

Tho I may not be the same as you.

I have feelings and cry the pain

All I ever want is just to belong.

~

I want to be liked for who I am

Not just to be what you want me to be.

Walk in my shoes, understand my hurt.

See from your soul, care from your heart.

~

Why do you mock?  What troubles you?

Is there a pain down deep in your soul?

Does it feel good to harm another?

Someone imperfect, someone unlike you?

~

Then take your hurt, your sorrow and pain

Turn it for good, to others show love

That within your heart healing may be found

Resting in grace, God’s goodness to share.

~~

11/21/13

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankful Hearts

Linda A. Roorda

 The carefree days of summer have passed

As another year of memories ends

With grateful praises offered anew

Our thankful hearts share bounty blest.

~

The birds have hushed their lilting songs

Bright colored flowers have faded away

The trees have lost their brilliant hues

And the sky with clouds is looming dark.

~

The somber heavens lie cold and gray

O’er gardens bare of blooms that died

As leafless trees hold quiet birds,

With tinge of smoke on chilly breeze.

~

This silence brings quiet reflection

A time to gently contemplate

All the dreams we still hold dear

A time of peace and time of blessing.

~

For in this season we find a rest

To slow our feet and nourish our soul

To strengthen bonds and to friends draw near

Showering love from grateful hearts.

~

Then blest are we when to our Lord

Praise we bring for all that’s ours

Of friends and family, and harvest bounty

Blessings abound in thankful hearts.

~~

11/05/12

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

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