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Faith based poetry and devotions of praise

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Linda Roorda

Gift Wrapped

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In due time, Mary’s little baby was born… in a stable, there being no room in the inn at Bethlehem.  “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  Luke 2:8-14

 

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

Merry Christmas to each of you!

 

Gift Wrapped

Linda A. Roorda

In wintry stillness there’s a peace I find

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

Midst a din that beckons in all directions

To draw me away from peaceful reflection.

~

From frenzied crowds to pushy shoppers

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

May we bless instead by giving of self

For within each heart we hold the treasure.

~

Yet it seems we rush from here to there

Exhaustion filling our stressed-out lives.

Did we accomplish what needed doing

Or merely deplete our dignity’s calm?

~

May even we with our lists so long

Take time to ponder and remember why

The reason for joy in this season of cheer

Is gift wrapped in peace and given with love.

~

In celebration our voices are joined

Recalling a birth from long, long ago

Announced to shepherds by angels on high

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

~

For with the birth of baby Jesus

We gaze in awe on the promised One

Messiah, Savior, and Light of the world

The Prince of Peace for our seeking hearts.

~

Most holy of nights when God came to earth

To share Himself, gift wrapped and swaddled

With an invitation that we would unwrap

His gift encased in salvation’s love.

~~

12/05/16

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

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

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

Linda Roorda

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

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~~

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

See more at her site HERE.

 

 

 

Linda Roorda

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

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

 

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

Linda Roorda

The Eyes Of A Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eyes of a Child

Linda A. Roorda

Through the open eyes of a little child

We see our Lord without the blinders

To know His love as gentle as a lamb

And feel His arms envelope with peace.

~

The tender faith of one so young

Is a gift from God through eyes without fear

A simple trust with expectant hope

Holding out hands for others to lead.

~

No guile is found within this wee soul

Whose love is pure like a heart of gold

Who freely gives to others in need

That all may praise and bless His name.

~

Untainted youth by worldly vices

Pure and trusting are innocent minds

With hearts that see the best in us all

And faith that hopes with unfailing love.

~

To tenderly hold the hands of a child

And feel secure, encompassed by love,

To view the world through innocent eyes

Is to see the best in all whom we meet.

~

For judging others is not their concern

They simply believe that all will be well

And though their pride may rear its revolt

How willing are they to forgive when wronged.

~

Their trusting heart accepts our reproof

When patience is taught by living examples

For character grows with perseverance

As praises true will confidence build.

~

What would we see through the eyes of a child

Is it pure love that encompasses all?

Is it a trust in those who provide?

And through such faith do our eyes open wide?

~

Faith to trust Him who holds us through storms

A trusting belief in His loving heart

And with this love to simply accept

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

~

With eyes of a child may we see our Lord

The giver of life, bestower of gifts

The One who guides with a Shepherd’s voice

Who lay down His life that we might live.

~~

12/02/14

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

Rejected

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us full circle… and to our Lord who never rejects us.  Just as Moses told Joshua and the Israelites that God would go with them into the Promised Land, we, too, can “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:7)  We can face those who mock us.  We can stand up to bullies and move forward with our head held high.

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

Rejected

Linda A. Roorda

Why’dja pick him?  We don’t want her!

Not on our team!  We want to win!

To feel the pain rejection brings

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

~

But let me show you what I can do

Tho I may not be the same as you.

I have feelings and cry the pain

All I ever want is just to belong.

~

I want to be liked for who I am

Not just to be what you want me to be.

Walk in my shoes, understand my hurt.

See from your soul, care from your heart.

~

Why do you mock?  What troubles you?

Is there a pain down deep in your soul?

Does it feel good to harm another?

Someone imperfect, someone unlike you?

~

Then take your hurt, your sorrow and pain

Turn it for good, to others show love

That within your heart healing may be found

Resting in grace, God’s goodness to share.

~~

11/21/13

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

 

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

Linda Roorda

Thankful Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankful Hearts

Linda A. Roorda

 The carefree days of summer have passed

As another year of memories ends

With grateful praises offered anew

Our thankful hearts share bounty blest.

~

The birds have hushed their lilting songs

Bright colored flowers have faded away

The trees have lost their brilliant hues

And the sky with clouds is looming dark.

~

The somber heavens lie cold and gray

O’er gardens bare of blooms that died

As leafless trees hold quiet birds,

With tinge of smoke on chilly breeze.

~

This silence brings quiet reflection

A time to gently contemplate

All the dreams we still hold dear

A time of peace and time of blessing.

~

For in this season we find a rest

To slow our feet and nourish our soul

To strengthen bonds and to friends draw near

Showering love from grateful hearts.

~

Then blest are we when to our Lord

Praise we bring for all that’s ours

Of friends and family, and harvest bounty

Blessings abound in thankful hearts.

~~

11/05/12

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

Linda Roorda

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

The Pruning

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pruning

Linda A. Roorda

He takes out his shears and sharpens the blades

Ready to trim overgrown chaos.

He eyes the tree, knows which branch must go,

Which limbs need space as he trims and shapes.

~

Decisions thus made to remove dead growth

Prune overcrowding and bring in the sun.

Yet not unlike my life’s debris trimmed

When clutter is cleared, opened for the Son.

~

Bearing bad fruit shows a branch gone wild

And bearing none how stagnant we are,

What benefit then to remain untrimmed

For lack of growth cannot show God’s love.

~

But if we abide as a branch alive

Bearing our fruit for the world to see

The evidence speaks our soul’s depth of love

That we will prove the Father’s commands.

~

Abiding in love just as He loves us

No greater gift has one for another

For You, Lord, above have chosen us

That we may bear fruit in lasting tribute.

~

Inevitable change without and within

As time marches forth on its forever path

But what of our heart when the depth is exposed

Are we bitter in change or more gentle and kind?

~~

09/12/13

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

 

Linda Roorda
 

The 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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"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

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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* 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

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

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

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

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

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

~

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

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

All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission of author.

*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.

 

 

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