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About this blog

Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

Entries in this blog

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Tolerance

Linda A. Roorda

~

Could I but live a life that was safe

I wouldn’t question the wrongs encountered.

I would not wrestle with problems I face

Or troubles inherent with consequent strife.

~

For if I the bad from this life expunged

I’d then have left the best for display.

My life would exist by my design

For my benefit and pleasure alone.

~

Remove the memories and mask the failures

Fashion the remains to what I deem fit.

Let visible be selfish ambition

My life according to myself and me.

~

I have no tolerance for views but mine

My way is right and suspect is yours.

I demand my way and fight you I will

If only to prove entitled am I.

~

Yet what I now see is your hand held out

Bearing a gift, tolerance by name.

You’ve come to my aid and lift me up

To help me stand with dignity tall.

~

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

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

And it grants relief from oppression’s fist

That your words and mine comingle in peace.

~~

08/18/17 – 08/30/17

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Artist’s Eye

Linda A. Roorda

In the artist’s eye is beauty beheld

Within each scene perfection arrayed

A haunting image that speaks to the heart

A story told in visual display.

~

Facing blank canvas, brush poised in mid air

A picture forms in the artist’s eye

As ever gently stroke upon stroke

The scene unfolds, its beauty to share.

~

From lighting bright to shadows darkened

Lingering mirage or perspective clear

 Sentiments stir as we gaze upon

The artist’s work from within the heart.

~

They say a picture is worth more than words

And there are times words uttered alone

Cannot convey the depth of feeling

Where spoken voice the ambience missed.

~

For within our soul perception awaits

The depths of which we don’t often plumb

That we might enjoy designs unique

By an Artist greater than humanity’s touch.

~

So we gaze upon the scene before us

As emotions stir like brush on canvas

For out of feelings tempered by life

Colors are worked with passion displayed.

~

Thus, what the artist has framed for our gaze

Reaches into the depth of our soul

As image pondered gives rise to emotions

Its secrets exposed through the eye of our heart.

~~

02/13/15-02/15/15

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

You’ve A Gift Within

Linda A. Roorda

You’ve a gift within your heart to be shared

To love your neighbor as you do yourself

But much more than this is humble service

Sharing devotion from depths of true love.

~

Seek out the hurting, the ones bewildered

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

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

Be an anchor bringing peace to their soul.

~

Be generous with praise, speak truth with wisdom,

Carry the burden to lift the heavy heart

Encourage and esteem, strengthen with hope

Humbly meeting each need on your path.

~

Lift up the oppressed, release from restraints

Enfold in your arms those wounded by life.

Show mercy and grace, forgive the offense

Come alongside to guide wavering feet.

~

For out of confusion and cries of the soul

In walking a line tween query and quest,

Comes peace that calms and joy that rebuilds

From the gift within your heart that was shared.

~~

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

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Something I’ve Learned

Linda A. Roorda

~

Something I’ve learned since I was young…

If I knew then what I do know now

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

But, then again, how else would I learn?

~

Something I’ve learned came slowly with time…

For I wanted life to move fast forward

And in wanting more, I just needed less

As contentment dwells in life’s simplest gifts.

~

Something I’ve learned by looking backward…

That in facing life I thought I knew all,

But looking forward from slow motion days

Impatience revealed an unsettled heart.

~

Something I’ve learned wishing I’d discerned…

By heeding then the sage’s wisdom

Who’d lived and seen what I could not fathom

For experience marks the role of teacher.

~

Something I’ve learned is not easy to say…

That which I rue when youth went its way

As lessons learned brought maturity’s wealth

With understanding through wisdom’s trained eye.

~

Something I’ve learned by climbing the hill…

Conquering hurdles that hindered my path,

For stones that seemed like unmoving boulders,

Were mere stumbling blocks to peace found in You.

~

Something I’ve learned I treasure now more…

My faith in You, Lord, once taken for granted

Its value gained from bumps in the road

Which led me to where I stand on Your Word.

~

Something I’ve learned we all have to face…

Sorrow and loss have taught to accept

That which was healed as my heart grew wise

For only from pain can compassion speak.

~

Something I’ve learned about all my stuff…

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

Much better by far to share with you now

Showing my love in tangible ways.

~

Something I’ve learned that when the door shuts…

Reasons there are for not looking back.

Express regret for what’s done is done

Then welcome the door He flings open wide.

~

Something I’ve learned with You at my side…

To share the bounty of blessings divine

To gently speak with a tender voice

And to hear with love from a generous heart.

~~

05/21/16 – 06/02/16

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Going back home…

Linda A. Roorda

Going back home within my mind

To simple retreats of childhood days

Holding sweet memories of yesterday

Like quiet oases of rest and peace.

~

Stirring emotions that overwhelm

On traveling back to gentler times

With early images tucked far away

On pages engraved in a long-ago world.

~

For what could ever make me forget

The fears that then descended strong

With dog at fence and thunderstorm

To shake the world of toddlerhood.

~

While a life-long love was built in scenes

Of farming and learning beside my Dad

With laughter heard through carefree days

In adventures had by my sister and me.

~

The many homes of my younger days

Are shelters now for cherished views

As dear and precious memories enhance

Wistfully perfect they ever remain.

~

But tucked within the pages recalled

Are days of change and tender tears

Moving away and losing friends

Through a lifetime lived, they’re never forgot.

~

Yet often they say it’s just not the same

We can’t return to scenes of our youth

That life and times are forever changed

The rift between then and now is too great.

~

But as I gaze on all that once was

I find it’s okay to let the tears flow

As they wash away the lingering pangs

To leave my heart refreshed and clean. 

~

So I shall always savor the joy

Of going back home within my mind

And holding dear those treasured days

Of childhood mem’ries and lessons learned.

~~

09/21/13

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Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Contentment Flows

Linda A. Roorda

Contentment flows from the soul at peace

Not easily grasped though deeply pondered

How quick am I to follow my will

While yielding to trust finds Your truth with grace…

~

Grace to understand blessings of mercy

In wending my way through waves of turmoil

Seeking shelter from storms that threaten

As Your calming spirit brings showers of peace…

~

Peace that envelopes my very being

From the depth of stress that oft overwhelms

Which tugs and strains the restful repose

To humility meek with a heart of joy…

~

Joy that shines bright in the face of woe

Amidst the sadness of sorrow’s dark tears

As rays of hope through shutters burst forth

To flood my soul with serenity’s rest…

~

Serenity’s rest within the world’s din

Marks peace of mind when focused on You

Grant me, I pray, a heart full of love

One filled with thanks as contentment flows…

~~

07/06/16

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May not be reproduced without permission of the author.

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

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Ode to Job

Linda A. Roorda

(Based on the book of Job)

~

One day Satan had a talk with God…

I’ve been out walking on this earth of Yours

And have my eyes upon those who claim

They love Your word and follow Your way.

~

But now I want to ask of You this…

Who will they follow in depths of despair?

Will they lose all and cling to their God

Or will they curse You even to Your face?

 ~

And God answered thus, Have you considered

My faithful servant, a man of honor?

For he is blameless, a man who loves me,

Who heeds my words, and shuns evil ways.

~

Then Satan mocked the great I Am.

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

Take it away!  Strip him of it all!

Leave him destitute!  Then learn of his heart!

~

In your hands gently I will place my man,

But one thing only you dare not commit.

Take away all, whatever you wish,

But take not his life while evil you bring.

~

And so began the worst day of all

When everything owned was taken by storm,

From crops to cattle, servants to children

All was destroyed, in mere moments of time.

~

In deep humility this man bowed to God,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb

And naked I leave; for as the Lord gives

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

~

Friends soon came to share his great pain

Tenderly bearing overwhelming grief.

But then they pointed with fingers of blame,

What evil within your soul is the cause?

~

Why me, Lord God? What have I done?

What did I do to bring on such shame?

Even my wife says to curse You and die,

But shall we accept the good without bad?

~

Yet now I rue the day I was born.

May its light darken, and no good recall.

Why did I live and not die right then?

For I have no peace, only turmoil within.

~

Even my friends betray me with words

Recalling my faith which flees from my soul.

But where is my hope, my confidence true?

Fleeting as wind when evil disrupts?

~

These friends say appeal, to God bare my soul.

Is it not He whose wonders we see?

As God corrects the man He calls blessed

Do not despise His wounding to heal.

~

So will I seek and call on His name

For what is man that He blesses much.

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

Remember me God, forgive my offense.

~

Another dear friend now lays on my heart,

Does God pervert that which is done right?

No, for your sin does penalty come.

Plead now with God that He may restore.

~

How can I dispute and come out unscathed?

Can I be righteous before a just God?

With wisdom profound, His power is vast.

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

~

If only I had died on the day I was born

I loathe my life and bitterly speak.

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

To smile on evil and favor its schemes?

~

Yet You formed me. Your hands shaped my life.

Will you now destroy and turn me to dust?

You blessed me with much and watched over me.

Why did you hide your wrath until now?

~

And still my friend is asking of God,

Will this talker be vindicated?

Will God speak words against His own heart

Or will He utter His secrets of wisdom?

~

Though I can’t fathom the mysteries of God,

Can we set tests of Almighty’s power?

Higher than heaven, deeper than the depths

Can we yet measure how vast is His world?

~

You tell me to end the evil of sin,

Stretch out my hands with heart devoted,

That in this hope my life is valued

While the wicked fail like a dying gasp.

~

And yet I say, do not men at ease

Show their contempt when misfortune knocks,

And see him merely as laughingstock

The one who slips though still he loves God.

~

How I now long for the days gone by

When God as friend watched over my soul…

He knew my paths, that evil I shunned,

I feared my Lord with righteous wisdom.

~

I hear them mocking, men younger than I

Detested am I, they spit in my face.

In my affliction their snares set a trap

As I cry to God and plead for answers.

~

Unending pain and suffering confront.

Have I thus sinned or denied some their gain?

Have I rejoiced at my enemy’s fall?

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

~

So let Him hear! Let Almighty speak!

If I have sinned to cause my deep shame.

Let the earth cry out against me with tears,

As the Lord my God will question me…

~

Where were You when I set the foundation?

Did you measure, its dimensions gauge?

Did you determine where cornerstone lay?

Did you cause stars and angels to sing?

~

Did you speak orders to bring forth the dawn?

Do you know the home where light and dark live?

Have you set time for birthing of young?

And provide food that all are nourished?

~

Will he who struggles to understand Me

Correct My ways and tell Me to change?

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

Unworthy am I to even reply.

~

For who am I to question motives

And ponder means which you employ

You draw me near, Your wisdom to seek

As Humbly I bow before your glory.

~

In my humanity I can’t comprehend

Your higher ways from which I should gain,

Learning by faith to grasp adversity

Knowing Your will has my good at heart.

~

Lord, now I know you won’t abandon,

Your loving heart will gently embrace.

Your words will guide my soul through dark days

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

~

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

Great wisdom is found within Your counsel.

I cannot measure Your wonderful ways

I spoke my turn without true knowledge.

~

While I like Job of long ago days

Cannot fathom wisdom from above

Not mine to know, but His to decree

The reasons and plans which He has set forth.

~

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

May You yet impart wisdom to my heart

That I may praise and worship You, Lord

For my life exists to glorify You.

~

November 2014

~~

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

Sometimes we’re at a loss for words and don’t know what to say to the grieving.  We want to say the right words to bring comfort.  Yet, often the less said the better.  The one grieving is struggling to take it all in, finding their attention span is limited.  While life around them continues on its merry way, unfairly it seems to the grieving, their immediate world has come to a screeching halt.  Unsure of the next step, they often move forward in pain-filled autopilot mode.  I well remember…  

 

Though the steps of grief are typically similar, they’re not the same for everyone.  A numbness or denial might be followed by a sense of guilt, the “if only” stage as I call it.  You might feel anger at the cause of death, or that God did not answer prayers for healing.  Perhaps depression sets in as you face life without your loved one.  But, one day you realize acceptance and a healing sense of peace have touched your heart.

 

The only way to truly understand someone’s loss is to mourn and grieve with them. Awash with empathy, love comes alive when your heart awakens to sharing another’s pain, to be there for them and to feel their sorrow.  May you know that God has put you there in His place to shelter and hold His beloved as an emissary of His love.

 

My poem below was written a month before my dad passed in April 2015.  Not able to visit him several states away, a lifetime of memories came to mind as his life drew to a close.  But, I also recalled the days when our 25-year-old married daughter, Jennifer, passed away in June 2003.  Many people shared our grief in tangible ways as they shed tears with ours, shared joys in remembering a life well lived, and simply gave their loving support with kind words, food, and cards.  Actually, it was a summer with many family losses, including my mother-in-law six weeks after Jenn.

 

Ed’s uncle the week before Jenn, … a cousin’s son two weeks later, and two weeks later by my step-sister’s daughter and three of her friends in a fiery crash when hit from behind.

 

There’s no preparing for your loss.  You may realize their illness is terminal and know the end is coming as we knew with my dad and mother-in-law.  You can begin to prepare yourself for the loss to come, but you cannot anticipate the depth of your feelings in the actual loss. 

 

On the other hand, you may have no warning as it was with Jenn.  Her collapse was so unexpected.  Ending life support and saying our final goodbye was not easy.  In sharing our grief, friends and family sat with us in the hospital, sharing memories, and writing Scripture on the board in our conference room.  Their presence meant much to us, as did that of our neighbor, Mark Stevens, owner of the golf course, formerly my husband’s family farm.  Seeing me on my garden bench the day after Jenn died, he sat with me and shared the quiet time just to show how much he cared.  Out of respect for our sorrow, he also stopped all construction on the golf course that day. 

 

In the days and weeks to come, emotions were up and down, and we’d often find ourselves deluged in tears.  Yet, there was also joy in recalling a life well lived.  I found solace in writing about her life and passing, including the growing-up years of all three of our children, recalling the fun and love they shared in an unpublished manuscript, “Watch Them.”  Writing was cathartic, a healing release as I came to terms with accepting this loss and change in our family.  Her life’s history was written in God’s book long before she was held in my arms at birth.  The Lord took something so painful to reveal how His great love allows, and yet overcomes, our earthly sorrows.  Like the tremendous sense of peace and comfort that washed over me when reading Psalm 139:13-16 on a beautiful plaque in Rochester International Airport.  Likely placed in honor of the unborn, God knew how much those verses would mean to me and our family in the days and years to come.

 

As a Houghton College grad unafraid to share her faith, two of her Alfred University friends accepted Christ following her death.  Because of Jenn’s witness to them of God’s love, they readily testified with Scripture of their faith at Alfred University’s memorial service.  Despite their mocking her for not going to bars, Jenn invited them to her home to work on their Master’s psychology projects, sharing her delicious home-cooked meals and desserts.  From her love for them, and for how tenderly she worked with troubled children, her friends saw her inner beauty and wanted to know more.  God’s love gently shone through in Jenn’s love for them.

 

Crying so hard I could barely see as I typed, these words poured out of my heart like a cleansing release.  “At times I am overwhelmed with thinking that God, our Great God, took the time to give us so many special reminders of His awesome presence in our lives.  But, then really, it should not surprise me that He would care so much for each one of us… that we are so loved and so special to Him… that He would know our every need and handle them in such a way that would mean the most to each of us… that He would reveal His tender loving care in such a difficult and painful loss through Scripture, special visions, and through our loving family and friends.  God was always here, loving us through our pain.”  (“Watch Them…” by Linda A. Roorda, 2004, p.9)

 

There is something to be said about the bonds of friendship and love which are strengthened during life’s deepest sorrow.  In that time of quiet, when the one mourning is simply unable to voice their deepest pain, there’s no need for words.  But through your act of love in simply being there, your presence brings peace to the hurting.  This poem, then, is a tribute to each of you who supported us, and a tribute to each of you as you support others in their grief.

In Silence You Sat

Linda A. Roorda

In silence you left like a shooting star.

You lived your life full, a blessing to all.

Where once you sat, an image lingers.

Where once your voice spoke, now silence replies.

~

In silence you sat holding my hand close.

You heard my sobs and shared my heart’s cry.

You did not voice your thoughts for my pain

But in this moment your silence spoke well.

~

The warm embrace as hands tightly held

The soul in pain, the heart sinking low,

You wrapped your love like a blanket warm

Around my heart to share my sorrow.

~

Your silence spoke its volumes of love

Your presence gave joy where none could be felt.

Your smile gave light and hope far beyond

A glimmer of life and meaning through pain.

~

As days pass by and the world moves on

Life’s little routines bring normalcy home.

But never forgot is the time you sat

In silence to hold my heart in your hand.

~

With tears for a season was this grief expressed

For you taught us well the lessons of life.

As memories linger from a time held dear

Where grief overwhelmed, God’s peace comforts and sustains.

~~

03/16/15

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Initially published as "When Grief Overwhelms" in the “Faith Nurture” section of The Network,

The online resource of the Christian Reformed Church of North America

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

 

Linda Roorda

Father’s Day… a time to remember the dads we treasure.  They’ve taught us well in the ways of life.  I remember a lot about my dad.  In fact, it would be fair to say I had put him on a pedestal while growing up.  It seems he could do anything and everything, a jack-of-all-trades.  Though none of us can measure up all the time, there is One who is perfect… who forgives all our failings… our heavenly Father.

 

There is so much my Dad, Ralph, taught me and my siblings, including all about the love of Jesus.   As a small child on the farm, I would say, “Jesus is my best friend!”  But, for a time as a teen, I forgot my childhood friend until my Dad reminded me of those words I used to say as a little girl.  Oops! 

 

I loved playing board games on Sunday afternoons with my Dad, especially Scrabble.  I love the challenge of this game and tend to play aggressively, perhaps because I was in tough competition with my Dad.  Though I won only one game against him over those few years, it was a sweet victory knowing that I’d accomplished the win without his having given me an edge.

 

He taught me honesty was the right way such that in 8th grade English class I chose to write an essay entitled “Honesty Is The Best Policy”, receiving an A.  Actually, I think I may have gotten writing and art abilities from him.  Although he was an exceptional storyteller, imitating voice and mannerisms of various comedians, I speak best through the written word.  He also had a gift for drawing with his talent for art passed on to me and my son.

 

As we grew up, we loved hearing Dad tell family stories of his and our childhoods.  He had a gift for telling them in a personalized humorous way, and how I long to hear them all again.  I asked him to write them down for posterity, but he never did.  When he drove truck in the latter 1960s through the 1980s (and later huge tractors for an Iowan farmer in the ‘90s), he’d come home with stories from the road.  He shared radio routines by Bill Cosby and southern Cajun comedians, recalling their stories and imitating accents perfectly!  That was way better entertainment than TV any day! 

 

I also recall a few stories of his time in the Army at Fort Greeley, Alaska (1956-1957), a foreign assignment before official statehood.  From 18 months to 2 years, I was too young to remember my six months at Delta Junction with my baby sister.  But, I do remember having heard how he and several buddies found a sunken rowboat.  As it lay not far below the surface of a lake, they pulled it up, cleaned it off, and took it out to fish.  It made for an interesting adventure to say the least – while they each took a turn fishing, the other three worked hard at bailing to keep the boat afloat!  Now that’s dedicated fishermen! 

 

Fort Greeley is also where he learned to drive big rigs.  With someone ill, he was asked to take over in the motor pool one night.  Proving he could handle backing up a trailer perfectly, the commanding officer asked where he’d learned to do that since everyone else struggled.  “Backing up a manure spreader, Sir!” was his dutiful reply.  They kept him in the motor pool, where he got invaluable training for later driving 18-wheelers.

 

He also was given an unprecedented promotion because he took the time to thoroughly clean an office coffeepot, a skill learned from his Dutch immigrant mother who had taught him all aspects of housekeeping while growing up, like any good Dutch mother.  With a general visiting Fort Greeley, and the coffee-making task handed down to my Dad, he took pains to provide a clean urn for making fresh-brewed coffee… which greatly impressed the general.  When the general asked who made the coffee, the aide who was supposed to have made it “blamed” my Dad.  Instead of the feared reprimand for the typically bad-tasting coffee the office was known for, the general complimented my father on the best cup he’d ever tasted!  Turning to the senior officer, he told him to give my father a promotion!

 

When we were younger, he always had time for us.  I enjoyed it when he took us fishing.  And, though I could never bring myself to touch those worms (still can’t!), let alone put them on a hook, and never did catch “the big one,” it was the quality time with our Dad that meant the world to us kids.  As a tomboy, I especially enjoyed working outside with my Dad whether it was in the barn learning to care for the animals, in the huge vegetable gardens, or traipsing the fields and woods hunting.  That love just naturally transferred to enjoying the time spent working alongside my husband out in the barn or in the yard, even growing my own gardens.

 

As we grew older, I still adored my Dad.  In my teens, he listened to us and gave sound advice, but I wasn’t always ready to listen to him.  His careers changed from farming, to driving a grain truck delivering feed to dairy farmers, to carpentry with his Dad, a general contractor in northeast New Jersey, to driving a tank truck “locally” and later OTR (over the road/cross country).  When we lived in Clifton, he drove chemical tankers locally in northeast Jersey, southern New England, and New York City.  What stories he brought home from his experiences!  I got to ride with him only twice and wish it could have been more.

 

I was never so happy as when we moved back to New York in 1969!  Though I hated city life, I can now look back with fond memories of Clifton.  But, as we settled in to “backyard farming,” he taught me how to raise our mare, War Bugg, a granddaughter of Man O’ War.  I helped him build her corral and box stall in the small barn, along with re-roofing and remodeling the old chicken coop for our flock.  And then came the heavy-duty barn chores of mucking out the pens, learning to groom War Bugg and how to pick up her feet to clean the undersides.  I saw his deep concern when I stepped on a wasp’s nest in the haymow with 11 stings on my leg, and saw his gratefulness for my dousing him with a 5-gallon pail of water when a torch threatened to catch him on fire while trying to burn tent caterpillars.  But, I also learned the hard way that running War Bugg flat out up the road and back could have killed her.  I was scolded but good, yet taught to walk her slowly, allowing her to have only small sips of warm water until she cooled down. 

 

As we grew older, we teens were often in our own world.  Soon enough, I got married and began a new life with my new family, while my siblings and parents scattered themselves around the U.S.  Life changes, and we change with it.  I well remember teasing my Dad as a child when he turned 30 that he was old, and that when he would turn 50 he’d be “way over the hill.”  Well, Dad, guess what?  Your oldest daughter reached that milestone a ways back, too!  Giving him this writing in 2014 before he passed away in 2015, he knew I felt blessed to have him as my Dad.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and recapture the childhood fun of days long ago, but I greatly treasure the memories that linger.

 

May you each be blessed with very special memories of your Dad!  Happy Father’s Day!

I Remember A Dad

Linda A. Roorda

I remember a dad who took me fishin’

And remember a dad who hooked my worms,

Who took those hooks from fishy mouths,

And showed me the country way of life.

~

A family of six, two girls and four boys

Fun and trouble we shared as we grew.

From farms and fields to paved avenues,

Walking and biking, exploring we went.

~

I remember a time spent playing games,

A dad who’d not cheat for us to win.

Family and friends and holiday dinners,

Lakes and farms and countryside drives.

~

Weeds were the bane of childhood fun,

So ‘tween the rows we ran and we played.

But as I grew and matured in age,

Weeding was therapy in gardens of mine.

~

I remember a dad who thrived on farming

Livestock and gardens, and teaching me how.

I remember a dad who took me huntin’

Scouting the fields, always alert.

~

I remember a dad who taught us more

For growing up we learn by example.

I remember working alongside my dad

Roofing a barn and building corrals.

~

I remember a dad whose gifts were given

In fairness to meet each child’s desire.

I remember a dad whose wisdom we honor

In memories of caring and love in small ways.

~

I remember a dad who brought us laughter

With Cajun and Cosby stories retold.

For blessed with a gift of retelling tales

Family and childhood events he recalled.

~

I remember a dad whose time was given

To help his children face life’s turmoils.

Time spent together are memories treasured

For things done best put family first.

~

I remember a dad who taught me more

To treasure my faith in Jesus my friend.

In looking to Him as Savior and Lord,

Salvation by Grace, not earned by my deed.

~

As I look back to days long ago,

I remember the dad I knew so well.

For I miss the dad who took me fishin’

And remember the dad who taught me more.

~

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

Linda Roorda

As we travel life’s path we all manage to lose a few things… like special trinkets, and perhaps a few friends from another time and another place as live moves on.  We even lose our patience a few more times than we care to admit.  Though losing something special can be painful, it’s different from giving it away… releasing that treasure on our own is a whole other story, a gift of love.  In this season of graduations, my thoughts began to travel in the direction of releasing our young with love.

 

Letting go of what we hold dear can be difficult, perhaps even bittersweet, yet the release can leave us with a warm glow in our heart.  It’s a process that takes time.  As Corrie ten Boom, one of my favorite authors, once said, “I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands.”  Like a mother hen, we lovingly protect and keep our little ones safe, and try to impart some of our hard-earned wisdom over time before letting them take off on their own.  After all, we truly want the best for them! 

 

But, as our little ones grow up, they mature with a wisdom found only by taking some of life’s most difficult steps.  Learning to walk, falling down is a frequent occurrence as they learn how to get back up again.  Then, as they continue to grow and mature, they also benefit by failing a few times, learning how to pick themselves up to try again.  At times, though, I was over protective of my children, a hover-mother, not wanting them to face some of the difficulties I had… not my best parenting idea.  I loved my children and wanted to be involved in every aspect of their little lives, especially since I didn’t have that type of close relationship with my own mother.

 

We all know parenting has its challenges, and every so often I’d say, “It’s hard to raise a mother!”  Raising our children was a joint learning venture, especially since they managed to arrive without an individual instruction manual in hand.  But, now we have the pleasure of watching our children raise their children, and hearing their stories holds extra special meaning.  Like when our daughter, Emily, was trying to put her middle son down for a nap.  He had every excuse in the book as he fussed around.  Finally, she let him know how frustrated she was getting with him.  Patting her arm, 3-year-old Sam gently said, “It’s ok, Mom.  You’ll get used to it!”  And Em had to tuck her face into his blanket so he wouldn’t see her laughing.  There’s more wisdom in those words than little Sam could have ever known!  For out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom sweet.

 

Should we hold too tightly to our children and their childhood, we may not allow them the freedom they need to grow and adjust with life’s changes.  They may not become the well-adjusted mature adults they are meant to be.  And, if we fail to help them discipline their own actions, they won’t know the rewards of self-control.  Each child is a unique individual, a most precious gift from God to be treasured and loved as we guide them in starting their journey of life. 

 

My friend, Mimi, once shared a quote from her stitchery with me – “There are two lasting gifts we can give to our children – one is roots, the other is wings.”  How true!  May we love our children enough to provide them with the deep roots of a sturdy foundation, laughing and crying alongside them, while giving them wings and freedom to fly out into the great big world on their own.  And may we learn the gift of releasing with love… allowing us all to see the beauty deep within their heart.

Releasing With Love

Linda A. Roorda

Along life’s journey we lose a few things

Like fancy trinkets and friends of the heart

Even some time, and patience, too

All that holds meaning through our hands will slip.

~

Losing possessions with meaning attached

Shows how futile to retain our grip

As respected wisdom gives true perspective

That where grace abounds we hold but loosely.

~

When losing our self for a greater good

We follow a path of godly wisdom

And in giving thought to what holds our heart

Is found the key essential to life.

~

For the years of youth build up to the time

When wisdom is gained and freedom earned,

We’ve gently led and helped them to know

It’s time to fly on wings of their own.

~

By clutching firmly life’s fleeting passage

We cannot grasp the beauty within

For in the act of releasing with love

We’ll come to treasure each moment’s sweet gift.

~~

05/19/17

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~~

Linda Roorda

I got to thinking one evening while cleaning up 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, plus an every-other-day 8-hour babysitting job of four children all through high school (alternating evenings with my sister), plus other weekend babysitting jobs, plus caring for my horse and flock of 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.  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

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

Linda Roorda

Wisdom... that value within our heart and soul which helps guide our steps on this path called life.  An entity more precious than gold.  Lady Wisdom’s knowledge often comes from experience, by learning and gaining insight the hard way… you know, those mistakes that can either break or make us.  She brings a common sense, discernment, shrewdness… an innate understanding of what’s best.  But, this sound judgment can be lacking when we become distracted or enticed by what seems so right, yet, in reality, is so wrong when we heed the voice of Folly.

 

One of my favorite life verses is “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 NIV)  As our Pastor Steve put it recently, “Wisdom is knowledge applied God’s way.”  Yet, like I’ve said before, I often think I can take the reins and direct my own way… only to realize that I erred, once again, and need to grasp His hand, allowing God to guide me as I learn from His infinite wisdom.

 

With wisdom comes the ability to discern or judge right from wrong… to think and act appropriately, and to not become enmeshed in Folly’s foibles.  As God searches the depth of our heart, His Spirit reaches out to us with a still small voice in our inner being.  If we’ve embedded Lady Wisdom’s truth within our heart, we’ll know whose voice to trust and follow.

 

And, as we humbly follow Lady Wisdom’s righteous ways, a calm and peaceful tranquility will envelope our soul.  We’ll know we’ve chosen the right path when we’ve given time and consideration to acting in a way that would receive God’s blessing.  I love the book of Proverbs for the depth of wisdom gleaned as we “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.  Blessed is the man who listens to me… for whoever finds me finds life… but whoever fails to find me harms himself.” (Proverbs 8:33-36 NIV)

 

Lady Wisdom… a personification of God’s attributes in the feminine form.  She is not meant to take His holy place, but rather to give a human side to God’s omniscience… for “the fear [awe, respect] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV)

Lady Wisdom

Linda A. Roorda

Lady wisdom carries high her torch

She lights the way with truth on her side.

Her words bring strength to face life’s trials

With comfort and peace when the winds blow fierce.

~

Listen and heed her still small voice

Words to the soul that lead and protect,

For like a lantern which brightens the way

So is Wisdom in guiding your life.

~

When lured and tempted by desires for more

Do not be swayed by enticements sweet.

For trust is earned with truth and respect

A higher calling than rebellious ways.

~

Seek out the Lord whose hand will uphold

Stand firm on His word within your heart.

Learn at His feet, discerning the right

His knowledge gain with treasured insight.

~

Be wise in judgment, perceiving the darts

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Lean not upon your own understanding

But acknowledge Him, the giver of Wisdom.

~~

03/17/17 ~ 05/30/17

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~~

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

Spring’s Debut

Linda A. Roorda

At the dawning of spring’s welcome debut

The earth awakens from wintry slumber

She yawns and stretches, throwing off covers

Changing her gown from white to sylvan green.

~

She welcomes showers of refreshing dew

As fragrant aromas drift on gentle breeze

While life’s renewal and emerging growth

Bring bright adornment for the bleak and barren.

~

Slowly she dons her delicate gown

Until she’s covered in brilliant hues

With sunlight’s rays streaming their warmth

She lifts her face to absorb their glow.

 

Regaled in finery like delicate silk

She extends a brush to paint her palette

With every shade of the rainbow bright

Her crowning glory like entwining tresses.

~

As we gaze in awe at the transformation

From sleeping beauty to splendor arrayed

Like multi-hued gems that sparkle and shine

Is spring’s debut, prepared for the dance.

~~

03/05/17

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~~

 

Linda Roorda

Ever climb a mountain?  I have… well, sort of…  See, I have a bit of a wild side tucked away that shows itself now ‘n then! 

 

Recently, I read a short story of a 75-year-old man who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin.*  Though he dealt with a few health issues along the way, I was impressed with his successful endeavor.  His story reminded me how much I’ve admired others who have hiked that trail over the years.  I’ve even wished I could have hiked that trail, or climbed mountains, in my younger and stronger days.  Yet, as I said, I did… sort of… and that event may well have sparked my interest, though now only lived out in reading the stories of others.

 

"I remember when…" How often haven’t we heard that, or said it ourselves?  Well, I do remember when, back in the spring of ’73, I climbed one of those ever-changing ridges at Chimney Bluffs State Park in Huron, NY, east of Sodus Point along the southern shore of Lake Ontario - ever changing hard-packed sand formations formed from the strong winds blowing off the lake.  Visiting my friend, Kathy, for a spring weekend our senior year of high school, we joined the church’s Youth Group that Sunday afternoon.  The East Palmyra Christian Reformed Church and Christian School had been a big part of life until my family moved to New Jersey when I was in 4th grade. 

 

Now, walking past a section of bluffs, a young man in our group decided to climb a ridge.  Asking if anyone wanted to join him, I found myself the sole volunteer.  Beginning our climb up the narrow ridge, he led as I followed.  Learning where and how to place my feet from him, I found that I totally enjoyed this new challenge!  One had to be sure-footed, like a mountain goat, in several spots or risk a tumble off the ridge’s peak as it narrowed higher up.  Reaching an intersecting upward ridge, he recommended we change positions at the gap.  In fact, thinking about it now, I realize he must have had previous experience to gain the knowledge and skill he appeared to have.

 

The ridge down was steeper and narrower, and he felt it was best to face forward to see our way as we walked.  He also thought it best if I went first so he could guide me better.  Leading the way, I started down very carefully.  At one point, I slipped, earning a scraped-up leg in reward, but he grabbed my hand to help stabilize me… as I gathered my wits to contemplate the next step.  

 

Admittedly, starting the trek down, and seeing our height above the beach, had left me a bit scared compared to the easier hike up.  I remember thinking, “What did I get myself into?”  Now, not so sure about my sanity in joining this venture, I also knew I had no choice but to continue on.  Slowly and carefully we made our way down, step by step, and then… 

 

Taking the final step at the bottom of the ridge found me grinning from ear to ear!  I did it!  As tall, peaked and narrow as most bluffs are, the first ridge up was easy, while the ridge down was definitely narrower and more difficult.  But, I had challenged myself and those inner fears, succeeding beyond my wildest expectation!  Successfully traversing the steep and narrow ridges, returning safely to the sandy beach and friends below, was an exhilarating experience!  Despite the fears that crept in, I overcame them!  Loving every second of that climb, fears ‘n all, I would gladly do it all over again! 

 

 

 

 

You know, there’s something to be said about pursuing a dream, and, with God’s help and steady determination, reaching the pinnacle to savor success.  Realizing that thought covers a lot of ground, we can openly face the challenges in many areas of our life, learning the lessons each step forward holds.  Ahh, those carefree days of our youth as we faced our mountains and earned successes!  Those days of uncomplicated friendships and simpler times that bring special memories to treasure as the years rush onward…

 

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Do You Remember When…

Linda A. Roorda

Do you remember when the days were long

And we made our fun beneath a bright sky,

When neighborhood kids called out to us “come”

As we fled confines for the great outdoors?

~

Do you remember a time of few cares

When our word was good, and trust was implied,

When our biggest fret was the end of games

As the dark enclosed to shoo us inside?

~

Do you remember when we took our chances

Taking on risks seeming without fear,

Acquiring skills we’d not otherwise gain

If safely ensconced at technology’s beck?

~

Yet you can’t go back, back to what was

It’s never the same, the moment that passed,

But memories linger, frozen in place

When you recapture the essence of time.

~

Within those moments the mind has preserved

Are sights and sounds with laughter and tears,

Images held dear to our heart and soul

Retrieved at will for nostalgia’s cheer.

~

07/25/17, 08/02/17

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*April 2018 Guideposts, “Soul Trail – How old is too old?” by Soren West.

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

 

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Nail

Linda A. Roorda

Gripping the iron between my fingers

I feel its cold and lifeless form,

And it’s at this point my wandering thoughts

Flash back in time to another day.

~

Would I have taken that nail in my hand

When before me lay a man condemned,

Bruised and beaten, battered and bloody

A man despised, forsaken and worn?

~

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

With hammer in hand I raised my arm,

To pound that nail into flesh and bone

And heard its ring bring pain and anguish.

~

Deep in my heart, I knew it was wrong.

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

But with every strike my sins came to mind

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

~

And yet with each pound his face was serene

No anger or hate… but a tender deep love.

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

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

~

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

For your very soul I gave my all…”

Death will not gain the heart of faith,

The heart that to Him forever is pledged.

~~

06/27/17

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

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

See more at her site HERE.

 

 

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Master’s Voice

Linda A. Roorda

~

Like gentle sheep we’re prone to wander

Easily enticed by things of this world

But at the sound of our Master’s voice

Will we then heed or continue headstrong?

~

The Master’s words will not lead astray

Seeking the ones who meander off

Softly calling each one by name

With tender words of comfort and peace.

~

When storms arrive and release their fury

The shepherd guides his flock to safety.

How like our Master who longs to embrace

And bring us home to rest in His arms.

~

When wolves appear like gentle sheep clothed

With flattery smooth they strike unannounced

Their intention dark, the naïve to deceive

Serving their needs, the meek to destroy.

~

Then words of wisdom are soon directed

At wandering lambs who have left the fold

Calling them back to a sheltered life

Protected under the Master’s great love.

~

Unlike the hireling, He lays down His life

Whatever it takes to gather His own

Take heed to His call and flee from the foe

Lean into His arms of mercy and grace.

~

Like a good Shepherd is our Savior Lord

With care He protects each sheep in His fold

It matters to Him whose words we follow

The call of folly or the Master’s voice.

~~

06/05/15

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~

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

Linda Roorda

Here we go again… another killing rampage leaving behind dead and wounded, with families devastated and torn apart.  How sad.  How tragically sad for everyone involved, including the family of the man pulling the trigger.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved for their peace amidst the utter senselessness of it all.

At a time like this, we often ask “Why?” None of these recent killing sprees makes any sense – including the young men who beat to death a WWII vet with their flashlights in Washington state; the young black men who shot to death the white Australian tourist in Colorado because, in their own words, they were bored; the brothers who unleashed mayhem and murder with homemade bombs upon those at the Boston Marathon; the lone killer of the elementary school children in Connecticut, and the list goes on.  And now in Broward County, Florida.  And again we ask, “Why?”

At some point, it seems to me, when one becomes desensitized to destruction in moral decay within society by the incessant evil and violence on TV, in movies, and in video/computer games, life is cheapened to a meaningless and worthless entity, and we bully and kill to get our way.  The weapons themselves are only the instruments.  We can ban every possible weapon we can think of; but, then, we remember that once upon a time Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock.  The evil lies in the human heart and the thought behind the weapon’s use.

Perhaps we might look back and see a shift in culture – away from moral absolutes, away from a lack of respect, away from a lack of responsibility to each other, away from discipline, away from a love of those around us, and, perhaps the key to them all, away from a relationship with God, our Creator.  These principles are not inherently within us from birth; they must be modeled and taught.  And I would prefer to see how God can work in my life and use me to reach out to another in need…

Oh God! The Pain Out There…

Linda A. Roorda

Oh God!

The pain out there

Alive in this world

Is so immeasurably deep

It sears, it burns, it weeps.

~

Oh God!

Look into the heart

Of each hurting soul

And let them see

The love You hold for each.

~

Oh God!

Let me be your eyes

To see the many needs

Of those surrounding me

As we travel this road together.

~

Oh God!

Share glimpses with me

Into your heart of peace

So with arms of comfort

A life I may bless upon the way.

~ 2013 ~

Linda Roorda

Daydreams

Daydreams…we all have them.  But, what we each might dream about is obviously as different as we are… for dreams are at the core of our individuality and uniqueness.  By definition, daydreams detach us from the present.  They might be momentary fleeting thoughts, or a longer intentional refuge from reality.

Sometimes, daydreams are like watching a few lazy clouds pass serenely through the sky above.  Sometimes, they’re like those magnificent billowing thunderhead clouds of a gathering storm, as thoughts wrestle to resolve an issue, or perhaps as you struggle deciding which direction to take.  Sometimes, dreams are of creative designs or embellishments that lead to an invention we couldn’t live without.  And sometimes, they’re the longings of a heart for something more… a dream to overcome a disability… or to simply succeed at whatever life hands us.

After writing this poem, I was reminded of a book I’d read recently.  It was about a young Pakistani girl, Maria Toorpakai… someone who wanted more out of life than the expected.  From an early age, she dreamed of more than the hidden life of a girl who felt ashamed to be who she was born to be.  Publicly presenting herself as a boy simply to get an education and play the sports she loved, encouraged in her endeavors by her parents, she became actively involved in life, not hidden away from the world.  Facing strong male competition and resentment, with a fierce determination and love of the sport, she became her nation’s top squash player.  But, it came with a price when her gender was learned on applying to college.  With threats against herself and her family, and years of fleeing those Taliban’s threats, Maria eventually found assistance.  Jonathon Power, the first North American named the world’s top squash player, sent her an offer she couldn’t refuse.  Resettling in Power’s native Canada, Maria began training and competing at an international level with all due respect given for her talents.

Read more in “A Different Kind of Daughter – The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight” by Maria Toorpakai and Katharine Holstein.  The initial part of the book read a bit laborious to me, but it soon became a book I didn’t want to set down.

Daydreams… of where they can take us, and the good they can bring to others…

Daydreams

Linda A. Roorda

Like a gentle breeze, a wind blowing free

Are thoughts and ideas that randomly roam

Within the great halls and echoes of time

Bearing a vestige to presence of mind.

~

Restless reverie on wings soaring high

A pulsing of thoughts from reality’s screen

Punctured and framed by fragmented scenes

Of treasured gems retrieved from the past.

~

This contemplation draws deeper inward

Losing oneself to an inner eye

Perspective tinged by the breadth of life

From where I’ve been to where I am now.

~

Lost yet again in rapt reflection

Generating change from a constant flow

Creativity within the mind’s eye

With its secret’s allure just one step beyond.

~

For they draw me in to lose myself free

In solitude’s calm to meditate lone

To gather my dreams from farthest corner

And find gentle peace in depths of my soul.

~~

04/26/16

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

 

 

Linda Roorda

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Your Love is a Light

Linda A. Roorda

Your love is a light upon a dark hill

Its beams extending over all the earth.

Within its rays is Your peace divine

That covers my soul with a heavenly glow.

~

It saved me from destruction’s pit

From the grip of sin You pried me free.

How can I not but thank You ever

As mercy and grace shine down on my soul.

~

It’s a wisdom gained upon this path

By learning to face the trials and pain.

It lightens the load of burdens and cares

And seeks to open doors closed by injustice.

~

It beckons and draws the soul that is lost

To hands that created and long to enfold,

The hands holding joy and comforting peace,

When humbly we turn in faith to our Lord.

~

For we yearn to hear Your voice among us

Where Your presence lies in the face of need.

And may we then share Your matchless grace

With a world that seeks to fill a dark void.

~

Forever Your light will brightly glow

Drawing us out to heights of devotion

That as we shine Your love from our soul

Praises burst forth to our God of all light.

~~

January 20, 2015

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

Linda Roorda

The Mist

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

east-pal-12-15-16.jpg

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

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

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

The Mist

Linda A. Roorda

There’s a village life between the steeples

Hidden from view by mist among trees

Where time eases up and the pace slows down

Whispering gently, come pause and reflect.

~

The world rushes on chasing evermore

Dreams flying high like birds soaring free

Of places and things far beyond my ken

When simple pleasures would truly suffice.

~

Where slower rhythm is gently spoken

Not steeped in words but in beaming smiles

Pausing with care to shower with love

The passerby whose heart needs a lift.

~

Take time to ponder a world needing hope

Where peace is fleeting midst a harsher truth

And the rush of life with its frantic pace

Belies the needs tucked deep in the soul.

~

Take time to pause and contemplate

The meaning of life with value inherent

Reach out and touch someone’s heart today

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

~

Hear the breeze whisper with God’s gentle voice,

Be still a while and share life with Me.

As hands like branches reach out to share joy

Let the mist rise as the Son shines through.

~~

12/27/16

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

Linda Roorda

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we don’t write letters like we used to.  I know I don’t.  We phone, email, text, tweet, IM, or whatever it takes to converse in an instant… 

 

There was a time I regularly wrote letters to friends, and to my grandmother.  Every week Grammy heard all about my growing pains and insecurities as a teen, all about adventures in my marriage as a farmer’s wife -  gardening, learning to can and freeze food for the winter assisted by the gift of her invaluable book, “Rodale’s Organic Gardening”, and extensive sewing for my family. She heard all about my babies, her great-grands, as they grew up, always sending some small picture from a magazine or the front of a greeting card so that my “little ones” would have something special from her in the mail, too.  I miss my grandmother… her Dutch accent coming through a mixture of English and Dutch words, but I especially miss her insight and wisdom filling those letters.  I always looked forward to them, and I often wish I could reread the treasures of her letters just once more.

 

I’ve read letters from the slower-paced Colonial and Victorian eras on through the modern 20th century - from friend to friend, farmer diaries while researching my genealogy, tender voices in love, those written during war from the battlefield to the family back home, or from the home fires bringing cheer to a weary soldier… each carrying messages from the heart. 

 

Nowadays, life is so hectic for all of us.  It seems I’m always on the go, cramming work, appointments, hobbies, household chores, and so much more into 16-18 hour days.  It’s a different kind of busy from when our children were growing up.  We have all our modern conveniences, but do we really get more done?  Sometimes, slowing down a pace, and taking time to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones adds a bit more meaning to our busy days.

 

Letters or cards that we write or receive, or even an email with a personal touch, bring a smile to brighten someone’s day.  There’s a special meaning conveyed in the written word when we take pen in hand, or type an email.  Sharing kindness by simply taking the time to express our personal thoughts is to know how deeply we can touch a heart… especially when illness or a few too many miles separate us. 

 

For there’s something we cherish about a personal handwritten letter that carries the fingerprint of joy as we hold the tangible evidence of love in our hands… from one heart to another. Now… where’s that pen?

Letters To You

Linda A. Roorda

Letters written from my heart to yours

Thoughts of the past, reflections of life

Conveying a love enriched by words

With comfort and peace midst turmoil and din.

~

Taking the time to contemplate worth

Words begin flight, your heart to touch,

A tribute preserved forever in ink

With treasured purpose in message borne.

~

Through words expressed we feel the love

When distance claims your presence afar

As swirling ideas echo in thoughts

To find release through pen in hand.

~

They speak of days now long forgotten

Reminding of trials we somehow overcame.

They pause to reflect on issues of the day

Leading the way to cathartic journey.

~

In letters written as the heart pours out

Joy is expressed to bless another,

Testament is given of God’s tender care

That others may know encouragement’s voice.

~

For by our words we unveil our soul

Our deepest thoughts midst fears and blessings,

A sharing of self that entwines our lives

In letters written from my heart to yours.

~~

08/20/17

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~~

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

 

Linda Roorda

Tug Salute

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

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

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

Tug Salute

Linda A. Roorda

They ply the waters, these boats called tugs

Each bow riding high with a stern slung low

A workhorse they say for river or sea

Vital to traffic of watery lanes.

~

Now gaunt and faded like lifeless fossils

Left to corrode alone with their mem’ries,

Who can recall the day of christening

When futures shone bright as colorful hulls.

~

Riding waves high to rescue the dying

Pushing and tugging behemoths of the deep

Gently nudging, tucking in a berth

Or pushing deep scows hauling upriver freight.

~

No matter the calm, never minding the storm

They’ve a job to do without laud or praise

Handling with ease by a captain’s trained eye

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

~

But came the day they were put to rest

No hands at the helm, their days were numbered

Silently rocking as waves tick off time

Lapping relentless to a tune not their own.

~

Haunting images mere remnants of honor

Come close and listen, if you dare tread near

Listen to whispers of tales long ago

As we salute you, the pride of the harbor.

~~

09/30/16

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

Linda Roorda
 

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

2017-01-05 Barn Hugh V.S.

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

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

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

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

The Stalwart

Linda A. Roorda

Stalwart and stoic through the test of time

Facing the world to weather life’s storms

Meeting head on whatever befalls

Humbly proclaiming, steadfast I stand.

~

Bringing together nature’s harmony

Weathered and worn, reliably true

Dependably there to meet others’ needs

Asking for nothing but structural care.

~

Like the pioneers who settled this land

And carved their place from wilderness wild,

Weathered by nature midst elements raw

They kept life sheltered from all threats and harm.

~

Without proper care, wood planks become warped

Foundations fail without wisdom’s base.

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

How like old barns are patriarchs wise.

~

Learning through hardship true wisdom is gained

Taking a stand for what matters most,

Sometimes enduring alone in the crowd

Serene and secure midst turmoil and storm.

~

God bless the stalwart, unwavering friend

Who braves the path no matter the storm.

Of foe unafraid, on wisdom standing

Steadfast and loyal with comforting peace.

~~

01/06/17

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

It’s that time again!  Time to make our New Year’s resolutions!  Every year, many of us contemplate where we’ve been and where we’re going, and what to do about it.  We make our New Year’s resolutions with every best intention, but all too often the determination fades as enthusiasm wanes.  As we head into a future of unknowns, we like to exchange some of our old habits for new, whether they be simple mundane issues of life or more serious life-changing alterations.  Yet, there’s one resolution that’s always in vogue.

 

Not in the habit of making an annual list, I’ve been confronted over many years with seeking and extending forgiveness.  Pressing on my heart were ways I had offended others.  Regretting foolish words I’d said in younger days, I set about attempting to make amends with heart-felt apologies.  Though apprehensive at how my messages would be perceived, writing them brought tears in admitting my wrongs, with relief for doing the right thing by apologizing.  And then came joy and gratitude with the blessing of generous forgiving responses.

 

We’ve all been hurt and wounded by the words or actions of another.  We can be so hard on each other in this world, intentionally or not.  Once we’ve been hurt, it doesn’t take much to be wounded even deeper.  And we hold onto those grudges.  We have a right!  I know… I’ve been there… coming from a dysfunctional family, a difficult thing to admit.  Writing a poem for my Dad, removing all trace of negativity by wording it in positives, we were especially close with forgiving hearts during his last years.  Forgiving my mother and making her a quilt brought us a closeness we’d never had before.  I even got to hear both my parents echo my “I love you” at every encounter, words I’d not heard while growing up.

 

In the long run, grudges don’t do anyone any good… including, and especially, ourselves.  They erode our joy from the inside.  They take away our ability to see the blessings in someone else’s life. Sometimes we want revenge because of the pain we’ve allowed to fester.  But, carrying a grudge for any length of time damages us, not the person we hold it against.  They might not even know what they’ve done!  Go to the person, explain the problem, and attempt to make amends.

 

We also feel a release as we forgive the offender even if they don’t apologize or realize that their actions were wrong and hurtful... even when no one else understands what really happened.  Releasing the hurt through prayer allows God to take care of the situation.  Our forgiveness of the offender’s injustice sets us free to love more fully… just as God loves us, because we sure aren’t perfect.

 

However, forgiveness does not always mean restoration of a prior relationship. We need to set appropriate boundaries of respect.  Forgiving someone does not mean they are given an open door to resume their old ways... especially if they continue to lie or refuse to believe they did anything wrong.  When you have tried repeatedly to reconcile and discuss the situation, and no conciliatory effort is shown to understand how they offended you, nor a willingness to apologize and truly make amends… it may be time to walk away, for trust and respect are earned.  We can try to cover up our guilt with a façade of innocence, hiding our wrongs from others, but God knows the truth.

 

As Desmond Tutu wrote, “Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done.  Forgiveness does not erase accountability.  It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek.  It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous.  Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed.  Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.”* 

 

Tutu went on to say, “Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are.  It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong.  True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth.  It could even sometimes make things worse.  It is a risky undertaking; but, in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing.”**

As the old saying goes, hope springs eternal, and there is always hope that, in time, restoration will happen between you and another.  For there is a much better path found in forgiveness… that of peace and joy.  It happens when we each admit our errors, our faults, our sins… and apologize and seek forgiveness from the one we’ve offended, and from our Lord, as we live out the change in our heart.  In this is found true peace… a joy-filled contentment that no one can take away. 

 

The disciple Peter asked our Lord how many times he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him.  Jesus replied that he should forgive “seventy times seven” - in other words, endlessly.  (Matthew 18:22)   That’s a tough one, isn’t it?!  Yet, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  Oh, how true!

 

The apostle Paul also reminds us to “…clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love [and] let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-14)

 

Forgiveness… it may be the last thing we want to do for someone who hurt us deeply… but, when we forgive, it leaves us feeling washed clean and ready for a new start.  And, our heart is filled with a renewed sense of love to readily share with others.  What a great resolution to start a new year!

I wish you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

Forgiveness

Linda A. Roorda

Hurts of the heart that abound in life

The pain inflicted, the soul that’s wounded

The careless words and endless strife

Erode our spirit and remove our joy.

~

Raging battlefield within our mind

Waging havoc amid destruction

Erecting walls with blinded eyes

That limit our world and destroy us inside.

~

Offender at times, tossing outward darts

Offended the next with indignation

We each share blame for wrongs committed

As we nurse our wounds or savor victory.

~

Then my soul pours out transgressions I’ve made

For You know my heart, my thoughts and my deeds

Nothing is hidden, repentant I am

As humbly I pray with face turned to You.

~

Your wisdom alone has pierced my heart

You’ve caused me to see the wrong of my ways

For within Your Word are Truths that shed light

As I walk this path that draws me to You.

~

To cleanse my soul, forgiveness I seek

To redeem the gift You’ve given for me

Your life on a cross that I might be free

The depth of Your love I cannot repay.

~

Then go and seek the one you’ve offended

Make right the path you both must walk

Follow the lead of our Lord above

Lay down your pride, release your burden.

~

Forgiveness like oil my soul You anoint

In comforting peace with mercy and grace

Your blessings of love now cover my heart

Redeemed am I, Your praises to sing.

~

For there is no peace like to that above

When forgiveness reigns in our tender hearts

Compassion to share as blessings abound

Bring heaven’s joy to shine brightly down.

~~

04/09/14 – 08/03/14

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May not be reproduced without permission of author.

* Desmond Tutu, “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World”

** Desmond Tutu, Greater Good Magazine, 10/01/04, “Truth and Reconciliation”

 

 

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

 

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