From Betrayal to Beacon

During the season of Lent, we tend to reflect a little more intently on Christ’s mission and sacrifice for us. Since He gave so much by giving His life to redeem us, it seems we could easily give up even a little for Him. Though the traditional idea of giving up something for Lent has not been something I have done, my friend and cousin, Carolyn, got me thinking more deeply about the season of Lent.

Last year, as Carolyn read her “Catholic Weekly” magazine with its daily devotionals, she shared with me a Lenten focus on the Roman Catholic perspective of the “seven deadly sins.” These sins can lead us away from God… away from that close relationship we long for. Unfortunately, I/we often exhibit the pride of self, a greed as we exclude others to serve ourselves first, jealousy in coveting that which is not ours, wrath or inappropriate anger, sloth or laziness when we could and should do something constructive, lust of a sinful nature, and gluttony or self-indulgence in so many ways. Yet, we know that each one of these sins is absolutely forgiven on confession and repentance to God; and, under His tender mercy and grace, our heart is renewed as we follow in His footsteps.

In synchrony with the above, we recall Solomon wrote in Proverbs 6:16-19 that “there are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Some also say there is an unpardonable sin, the blasphemy against God and His Holy Spirit. As Jesus was performing miracles and driving out demons, the religious leaders’ unpardonable sin was in claiming Jesus’ power came from the devil rather than acknowledging He had the power because He truly was the Son of God. (Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:31-32)

If we turn away from the Spirit’s convicting promptings that what we’ve done is wrong, we may harden our heart, turn our back on God and not want to repent, willfully continuing in sin. Yet, upon conviction of our sin, confession and repentance, we can be assured of God’s welcoming arms and loving forgiveness… for nothing can separate us from the overwhelming love of God. (Romans 8:34-39) May I always be convicted of my sins, confess them, and ask for forgiveness from God and those I’ve offended.

As I continued to ponder last year’s Lenten theme as briefly mentioned by Carolyn, and the variety of themes from many churches for spiritual renewal this year, my own failings came to mind. Sadly, it can be said that I/we betray our Lord’s love in many ways because we are far from perfect. Yet, as a reminder of Christ’s love for us, and living within us, there are familiar virtues we can strive for. As the Holy Spirit leads, guides and helps us live out our faith, we exude “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) These fruits evidence the Holy Spirit’s work within us, as God transforms us to be more like His Son. (II Corinthians 3:18) Because He loved us first (I John 4:19), even in our sinfulness, we can live a grateful life of holiness, bringing honor and glory and praise to God for all that He has done… for to this we were created. (Revelation 4:11)

We can demonstrate our love for God and those around us with our faith or reliance, hope or trust, and charity or love as shown in I Corinthians 13, the “love chapter”. We can share this joy and peace in living out our faith in God by showing such loving kindness in our interactions with others. With courage and wisdom from the Lord we can face those difficult painful trials. Just as God has granted mercy and grace to us, we can show the same to others, forgiving them as we’ve been forgiven, acting with moderation and self-control, with honesty and integrity in our dealings. Against these virtues there would be no complaint as we respect others, bring glory to God, and become a beacon to point others to Christ… not only during Lent, but always.

Though our Lord was mocked and betrayed as He walked this earth, may we never forget the depth of all He suffered in His great love for us despite knowing our wayward steps. For it’s only thru Jesus’ shed blood that we have forgiveness and reconciliation with God. As I prepare myself spiritually this Lenten season to focus more intently on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, Carolyn’s words echo the thoughts of my heart that “these are the things we could all reflect on during the 40 days before Holy Easter, and maybe change our hearts and minds to reflect more of Christ’s love.”

From Betrayal to Beacon

Linda A. Roorda

There is One who felt the heavy hand

The slap to the face, the mocking abuse

The glib excuses, lies begetting lies

Betrayal by friends, abandoned in need.

~

For there was a man who took this and more

A man who never responded in wrath,

The Son of God, who sought us in love

Who lay down His life that we might live.

~

The Light of this world, a rejected man

Scorned by His own and scoffed by scholars.

Still there were those who pondered His words

Words that were new and words that gave hope.

~

Bless those who misuse, pray for their soul

Just as our Lord, the servant of all,

Dwelt here in peace and drew us to His side

To offer us hope with redemption’s gift.

~

Be that beacon to a world needing hope

Bring peace and comfort with welcoming arms.

Offer your love to the soul in pain

Become a servant to meet the needs.

~~

11/27/17

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The Essence of Love

Valentine’s Day evokes thoughts of love and romance in each of us. It’s a day to remember our loved ones, and to show how much we truly do love and care about them. But, we also toss the word “love” around as though it were just another simple word to say. We love to shop, we love the beauty of nature, we love a good book, we love a bright sunny day, we love a pristine snowfall that clings to every nook and cranny, we love new clothes… and I’m guilty as charged.

Yet, love holds so much more within itself. It’s a choice we make even when disappointment sets in for someone else’s behavior. There’s a commitment which comes with the word – to honor and respect… to just be there, to meet their needs. To build others up so they can reach their full potential. To show support when someone fails so they can pick themselves up and try again. To lend your aid when they cannot do what once came easy. To tell the truth gently, yet with firmness. To tenderly help someone see what is so obvious to others, but which they somehow missed or overlooked.

I remember the book and movie from the 1970s, “Love Story,” which left us with the quote “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I understand the author’s point, but I think that’s backwards. To me, love is being willing to be the first to say “I’m sorry.” Love is being willing to open your arms and heart to forgiving each other, time after time… because none of us is perfect.

“There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.” (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a  Swiss-American psychiatrist)

Love is a desire for someone else’s good, deserved or not. Love is learning to accept and understand your own flaws which, when torn apart as wounds, open your heart to a new understanding, enabling you to turn around and give the gift of love and affection to another despite their imperfections. Love is to value yourself in order to show your vulnerability to another. Love is to give your life so that another might live… like the unconditional love given by our Lord to meet us in our imperfections.

All of which reminds me of the Biblical “love chapter” read at our daughter Emily’s wedding to Nicolas: “­If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13, NIV)

With these thoughts in mind, I share this poem written a few years ago to my husband.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 The Essence of Love

Linda A. Roorda

~

The essence of love

In the gift of self

For two beating hearts

To become as one,

~

And yet love is more

In true devotion

To carry the pain

And share in the joy.

~

But to know His love

Lies deeper still

In giving His life

That we might live,

~

For by His example

We share a path

In the gift of self

The essence of love.

~~

02/03/13

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Ode To A King

Analogies give us a glimpse of similarities and truths of a story tucked within a story.  Thinking about this concept after my poem was written brought to mind Mark Twain’s British book, “The Prince and The Pauper,” published subsequently in the U.S. in 1882.

In Twain’s beloved story, a young prince and a pauper (who happen to look a lot alike and were born on the same day) trade places in life.  The prince experiences the roughness of a lowly life just as his counterpart once did, while the pauper tries to bravely find his way at the top of an unfamiliar kingdom.  Common sense, so crucial to his survival in the real world, comes in quite handy as he makes his way through the upper echelon.  Ultimately, the real prince returns to claim his rightful place as heir and is crowned king.  Ever grateful for his real-life experiences as a pauper, the prince now understands life for the poor and hard-working folks beneath him, and is better able to comprehend their needs.  And, then he makes his friend, the pauper, his aide.

Having never read Twain’s book, my poem was written without knowledge of the story line.  After research, it’s clear my poem takes a similar albeit slightly different tack in relating a king who was used to observing the realm from his castle high above the fray of every-day life.  Wanting to experience firsthand what life for his subjects was like, he walks among them dressed as a beggar.  In this guise, he observes that most people continue on their way with their heads held high, seldom stooping to assist someone poorer than they.  They live and breathe a self-serving arrogance.

But, on the other hand, a young woman notices the poor man in his tattered clothing.  She kindly offers to feed him – and not only did she provide nourishing meals, but she repairs his coat to provide warmth against the cold.  He returns often to talk with her, to learn the depths of her heart, and to simply show appreciation and gratefulness for what she has done for him, a beggar.

He was afraid to share that he had fallen in love with her, but was now in a dilemma for he needs to return from whence he came.  Indeed, he knows that truth must always be told in any situation… and so he set out one day to let her know how much he loved her.  He was willing to give up all he owned just to serve her for the rest of his life.  And it was then that he could see his love was returned in her eyes as he knelt down to propose.  With her “yes,” his heart leapt for joy to know their hearts would soon be united forever, as he shared who he really was.

Tucked within the depth of this poem’s story is the analogy of our Lord’s love for us.  Leaving his throne in His beautiful and perfect heavenly home, He came down to dwell among us… into this world of sin and pain.  Once here, He experienced life just as we do with all of its temptations and sadness, but also the joy.  And thus He is able to be our advocate and comforter, knowing from personal experience what our life on earth is all about.

Yet, our Lord came that He might serve us, not to be served. “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) In His sacrifice, He gave His all for us… His life… that we might accept an awesome priceless gift; and, in so doing, share eternity with Him above.  What joy there will be when we are united with Him, and remain in the presence of His love forever!  What a King!

Ode to a King

Linda A. Roorda

I gazed from afar while observing my realm

And found with int’rest motives in action,

But often their lives showed merest concern

While I could see depths of their anguished souls.

~

Oh how I loved these people of mine!

And longed to walk the path to their soul

A chance to converse, a sharing of hearts

To bring them peace with comforting words.

~

So stepping down, I entered their world

Yearning to serve the rich and the poor

But they did not know this beggar in rags

Most never saw needs, just held their head high.

~

And then I noticed a young woman fair

Who spoke gentle words to a stranger coarse

She offered me food and to mend my coat

While love in my heart had only begun.

~

A love which grew on the winds of time

A chance to bond and learn of her heart

To know the depths of comfort and peace

Humility’s grace wrapped up in mercy.

~

Now deeply in love I’d sacrifice all

Yet she did not know the truth of my garb

How would I explain that she’d found favor

That her heart was true, like gold refined.

~

So I intended my dilemma to share

To let her know from afar I’d come,

That all I’d longed for I treasured in her,

Companionship sweet, a blending of souls.

~

Expressing my love for her tender heart

Overwhelmed was she as on knees I bent

Asking for her hand, with tears she said yes,

My heart leapt for joy that we’d become one.

~

And then I shared my journey in rags

From a kingdom rich in glory and fame

To this lowly world of sorrow and pain

To which I had come, others to serve.

~

For it was then my eyes did behold

Analogy of One with far greater love

Who left His throne to walk on this earth

To share our burdens and speak to our hearts.

~

His love ran red as He gave His all

To purchase with blood and redeem our souls

That He might draw near, from sin set us free

To offer His gift of life eternal.

~~

12/21/15 – 12/24/15

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I’ll Be There…

Some of us know the depths of depression and despondency. Some of us know the lack of physical healing or the pain of incurable disease. Some of us know the sorrow and grief of losing a precious loved one. Some of us know family dysfunction. Some of us know abuse that no one else can see or fathom. And we question how this could be…

How could a loving God leave us in pain by not healing us, even after much prayer? How could a loving God allow so much evil to go on all around us? How could a loving God allow the senseless shooting sprees that kill our innocent children? How could you do that to us God?

But, it’s not God who does this to us… with Adam and Eve came “the fall.” The perfect first couple failed to heed God’s words, listening instead to the guile of sweet flattery from the serpent. Ever since, we and this world around us have been living with sin and its imperfections. We tend to put ourselves… our wants and desires… first.

I remember many years ago leaders in church saying that if anyone was discouraged or depressed, they must not be a true believer in God. How wrong and presumptuous to think that the difficulties of life can’t and won’t weary anyone, including a hearty Saint! We’re human, as were the best examples in Scripture who dealt with their own failings and weaknesses which brought them to their knees. Like King David’s psalms of poetic devotions which vividly show his laments and pleadings, they also show his rejoicing in God’s guidance, protection and provision. He was no different than us. We all express our sorrows and laments as well as joy and thankfulness. Yet, it could also be asked, where are we in bringing aid and comfort to the one who has been wearied by the blows of life?

As David begins Psalm 55, he sends up a prayerful plea: “Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.” Yet, as verse 22 attests, David confidently reminds us to whom he could turn despite his troubles by saying, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you…” A sentiment confirmed by the bold and outspoken Apostle Peter who said to “Cast all your anxiety/cares on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) And this from the man who three times denied he ever knew Jesus, his Lord and closest friend!

The difficulties we face do not mean God doesn’t hear our cries, our pleas, our prayers. Though His answers may not be what we want or expect, He will answer in His time and in His way… for He alone knows the best way to meet our needs. His answer to our prayers may not come immediately. Sometimes, it’s not until much later that we look back and say, “Oh! So that’s why things happened that way!” In allowing difficulties to come into our lives, God quietly gives us an opportunity to grow. By seeking our Lord’s will through it all, we mature in faith.

Even the Apostle Paul dealt with a “thorn in the flesh.” Some have thought it might be poor vision after the brilliant light that temporarily blinded him on the road to his conversion. We don’t know his exact problem, and it really doesn’t matter. Paul felt it was given to him to prevent his becoming conceited. Three times he asked the Lord to remove it from him, to heal him; but, it was not removed and he was not healed. Instead, what Paul heard in his heart was the Lord saying, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

In the days that seem so dark, so dreary, so difficult and painful… know that you can find comfort from those around you… a spouse, a child, a dear friend, your church family, or friends within your community. They will be there to comfort you and see you through, and point you in the right direction for help. Assistance may even come through professionals who can provide counseling, medical care and medication. But, also know that there is another who will be there, one who will come alongside, hold you up, and carry you on those days when you can barely manage to move forward – our Lord. I know, because He’s been there for me, for us, through dark and difficult days, with a peace I can only describe as an overwhelming warm blanket of comfort… for “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

There’s an old song I like by Rich Mullins, “That Where I Am, There You May Also Be.” I especially appreciate the chorus, “In this world you will have trouble but I leave you my peace…” It’s based on John 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

As proofreader, my husband, Ed, commented, “It’s a feeling of complete and unexplainable tranquility knowing that nothing can shake you anymore, that God has your back whatever comes at you. It’s knowing that you have Jesus and that He died for you; and, when the end comes, that you’re going where He is and there will be peace forever with Him.”

It is this overwhelming peace that I have felt as our Lord wrapped His loving arms around me while in prayer, thanking Him for blessings through difficult days… in our daughter’s passing, in my husband’s blindness and extensive health issues, and so much more. Do I always remember to pray right away, to thank Him, and ask for His help and guidance? No, unfortunately, I don’t. Sometimes it’s later that I think, once again, why didn’t I go to God first? I know I need to ask Him to help change my heart just as much as I know He is there waiting for me to draw near to Him, telling me “I’ll be there…” Just like the words we say to a friend in need – I’ll be there… as we become Christ’s hands and feet for others.

I’ll Be There…
Linda A. Roorda

When you feel
As though the world
Has closed in tightly all around…
I’ll be there.
~
When it seems
As though your prayers
Just never get answered…
I’ll be there.
~
When the road
You’re traveling on
Seems just too steep to climb…
I’ll be there.
~
When it’s hard
To face life’s challenges
That hide your peace and squelch your joy…
I’ll be there.
~
When you peer
Into nothing but darkness
That envelopes your entire world…
I’ll be there.
~
When the Lord
Does not give healing
But simply says, “Trust me…”
I’ll be there.
~
When you step
Into a bright new day
But only feel never-ending pain…
I’ll be there.
~
When you need
A hand to grasp
And an ear to hear the depths of your soul…
I’ll be there.
~
When a tear
Begins to slide
And sadness covers your entire world…
I’ll be there.
~
When your face
Looks up in prayer
While holding tight your Maker’s hand…
I’ll be there.
~
When you feel
God’s loving arms
Gently enfold as He carries you…
I’ll be there.
~
When you sense
God’s peace fill your soul
He gently whispers within your heart…
I’ll be there.
~~
07/10/13
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~~

Journey of Life

Life is a journey… a different path for each of us, and never what we might envision the future to be when we’re young, standing at the edge of tomorrow.  We may sail along on a seemingly smooth course, expecting all our plans will come to fruition, but what we cannot see is the unexpected bend.  What lies ahead is hidden from view.  With each new day comes change… hardships and prosperity, struggles and triumphs, losses, fears and tears, joy and laughter, and blessings we too often take for granted.

2017-09-23 Ganarga Creek by Hugh

This photo of Ganargua Creek in Wayne County, New York was taken by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen.  Ganargua, or “where the village sprang up”, was named centuries ago by the Iroquois Indians.  Nicknamed “Mud Creek” for its murky water, the creek flows near Palmyra and Newark, continuing east to Lyons, a tributary of the Erie Canal.  The creek is a favorite for canoeing and kayaking with a trail alongside that encourages hiking, an overall great natural wildlife environment.

And it was this beautiful image of a creek with its distant banks obscured by a foggy haze that brought this poem and these thoughts to mind.  As we once again stand at the door to welcome a new year, we have no clue what lies ahead… just around the bend.  We can only be in the moment, enjoying it for what it holds, leaving the unknown future in God’s very capable hands.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  We can live in fear of the unknown, or live out our faith in hope and trust in someone greater than us.  We can trust that no matter what might lie ahead, God will always be with us, guiding our steps as He weaves our life’s journey.  We can hope for good to come out of the hardships, and appreciate the positive impact within our heart as we deal with challenges.  We can be a blessing to others by simply being there for them in a tough time.  We can pray for healing, as we look forward in faith, waiting for answers to our prayerful pleas.  And, we can trust that even when the answers aren’t what we want, the Lord will ultimately bring about what He deems best… for we grow by facing and accepting whatever difficulty comes our way with a strong and quiet faith.  And we are deeply grateful and thankful for the many blessings received.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12 ESV)  God knows what lies ahead on our journey of life…  He goes with us, just as he told Joshua before the Jews entered the Promised Land, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)  But, it’s up to us to trust Him, and to live by faith with hope in Him as He shows us the way… around the bend.

A very Happy New Year to you, dear Reader!

Journey of Life

Linda A. Roorda

Beauty unadorned in peaceful reflection

As gentle dawn pierces the haze,

While we gaze into the tunnel of time

And contemplate our journey of life.

~

This life’s adventure, a passage blest

Carried on streams of hopes and dreams,

With faith kept alive by promises sure

That all has meaning no matter the course.

~

An image from life captured forever

Of time standing still in unchanging scene,

While visions of yore blend future obscure

Harboring secrets of a path unknown.

~

As we sail into the hidden morrow

Seeking the ideal of heaven’s realm,

We fathom with trust the pathway ahead

And patiently wend this journey of life.

~

For there lies our faith, hope in the unseen

That One far greater protects and guides,

Trusting the day when glory shines through

And all is revealed in the Light of His Word.

~~

09/23/17

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Christmas Joy!

I had a big disappointment as a kid one Christmas, but kept it a secret all these years. I’ve never forgotten the Christmas when I was 5-1/2 years old.  We’d left a favorite Marion, NY farm to live in Clifton, NJ again, the city where I was born.  I was a big girl, walking all by myself the several blocks to kindergarten – PS#15 overlooking scenic Weasel Brook Park.  My sister and I with our toddler brother loved to visit Grammy and PopPop (our Dad’s parents), and that Christmas was especially exciting ‘cause we were going to meet Santa!!  And I knew all about him…

You see, I had a book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and knew that little story by heart… like another favorite book, “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”.  Just ask my kids… they’ll tell you not to get me started – ‘cause I still know that favorite story by heart!  But there we were at the Christmas party with a house full of relatives.  And who arrives amidst a big fuss?  Santa Claus!!!  No, not down the chimney, silly!  After all, my grandparents didn’t have a fireplace, only radiators in their city house.  No, Santa simply came in the back door, all dressed in red with white trim.  He had a white beard, and a wide black belt around his big tummy – just like in my book!  So, it really was him!!

Then, while PopPop took movies, we girls took turns sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what we wanted for Christmas – me, my sister, Carol, and our cousin, Susan.  I honestly don’t remember who went first.  But, I do know that I was scared despite being the oldest cousin and in kindergarten.  I didn’t know what to say!  But cousin Susan?  She wasn’t afraid of Santa!  She talked to him just like she knew who he was… and I was jealous.  Why couldn’t I have talked with Santa like that?  But, we were very happy with the big stocking full of candy that he gave each of us!

As Santa left, Grammy took us three girls to a window upstairs that overlooked the snow-covered street out front, the sides banked high with plowed snow.  “See those lights?  There goes Santa!”  But, you know what?  I knew that was just a car’s red tail lights.  Under city streetlights, I didn’t see Santa’s sleigh!  Where were all the reindeer?  And Rudolph with his nose so bright?  He was supposed to lead the way!  I knew every word of that story, remember?!  Right then and there, I was so disillusioned that I never believed in Santa again!  And dear Grammy never knew about my big disappointment…

Writing this story, I had to find out who played Santa.  From my Aunt Hilda, I learned that Richard Andela was our Santa.  Richie actually worked with her husband, Roy Oostdyk, at his Gulf gas station on Main Street in Clifton… where my father also worked on Saturdays over the years when we lived in Clifton.  No wonder Susan was so comfortable talking with him!  Oh, the precious memories of childhood we hold onto!

Yet, there is someone I can believe in without disappointment… for eternity.  For me, it’s the baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas… Jesus, the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior.  “For God [our heavenly Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 KJV)

With the busy holiday shopping extravaganza, commercialization and our hectic schedules, I think we sometimes lose a little of the joy and wonder that must have been felt on that very first Christmas… and perhaps we, too, forget to make room amidst the hustle and bustle for this precious little baby.  Like us at times, another youngster was once trying to find the right things to help him celebrate, but nothing seemed to go right for him either.

“It was finally Christmastime, the best time of the year.  The houses were strung with tiny colored lights, their windows shining with a warm yellow glow only Christmas could bring.  The scents of pine needles and hot cocoa mingled together, wafting through the air, and the sweet sounds of Christmas carols could be heard in the distance.  Fluffy white snowflakes tumbled from the sky onto a group of joyful children as they sang and laughed, skating on the frozen pond in town.  Everyone was happy and full of holiday cheer.  That is, everyone except for Charlie Brown…”

“Charlie (to Linus):  ‘I think there must be something wrong with me.  I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.  I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.  I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel…’”

“Later, after a day of frustrations, Charlie said:  ‘I guess you were right Linus; I shouldn’t have picked this little tree.  Everything I do turns into a disaster!  I guess I don’t really know what Christmas is about.  Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?’”

“Linus quietly said:  ‘Sure, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.’  [Walking to the center of the stage, Linus speaks.]  ‘And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  [Luke 2:8-14, KJV] *

Did you notice that Linus dropped his security blanket while saying “Fear not” in the film?  He knew Who to trust and believe!  And that’s what Christmas is all about.

Wishing A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

No Room

Linda A. Roorda

Is there no room, no room in my heart?

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer,

What do I value and treasure the most…

Things that decay or things of the heart?

~

It seems I’ve filled my heart with worry

Frets and concerns of every-day life.

My wants and wishes each clamor for time

Leaving scant room for what matters more.

~

Like the innkeeper from long ago

He with no room sent seekers away

Little did he know, the love they carried

Was in the babe about to be born.

~

This babe grew strong and embraced the weak

An emissary of love sent to our world.

How else could He know what this life was like

Except to become like one of us?

~

Tempted and tried amidst the world’s cares

Unrecognized, despised and rejected.

No room in their hearts to welcome salvation

No room for love and gifts eternal.

~

Still, we are drawn to this man unique…

One who went seeking the hopeless and lost,

Forgiving our pasts, making new from worn

He who has room in His heart for us.

~

Is there no room, no room in my heart,

Midst all the trinkets this world can offer?

Yes, there is room for the One I treasure…

The precious babe, my Savior and Lord!

~~

12/21/16 – 12/29/16

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

*1965 TV special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles M. Schulz.

Dancing Embers

Watching a fire burning in the fireplace is mesmerizing. The dancing flames seem to take on a life all their own, swaying as if in a gentle breeze. And it appears to be that time of year again. Admittedly, fall is not my favorite season, though I do enjoy the brilliant colors as leaves turn various shades and hues before cascading down to replenish the earth. I also tend to find the cold rain on dark and dreary days a bit depressing… yet, I do like the time to slow down, gather in, and observe nature’s changing moods.

We shiver as the cold air closes in around us, put on a warm sweater, or wrap ourselves in a cozy quilt or blanket, and grab a good book to read. The flowers faded long ago as their greenery wilted, and the gardens have been put to rest for another season. Soon pristine white flakes will flutter down to cover the drab browns and grays as winter’s blanket settles upon the earth… in a relentless cycle of time.

This poem was among my earliest, written in 2013. And, once again, I find myself sitting in front of the pellet stove, missing our trusty old woodstove, gazing at the small fire that slowly begins to burn. As the fire is fed and builds momentum, its heat slowly radiates outward, and I take time to pursue thoughts that ramble… time to think about life… time to ponder where all the years have gone… time to worry… time to realize I need to give those frets to God… time to plan next year’s gardens… time to consider chores on my endless to-do list… and time to contemplate the innumerable blessings God has given us all. Blessings in an every-day hectic life that we so often take for granted.

Dancing Embers
Linda A. Roorda
~
On a cold wintry night
Sitting quiet by the fire
A welcomed rest and retreat
Watching embers glow bright
Dancing as in a breeze
Pausing to think and reflect…
~
On blessings clearly seen
In ways beyond counting,
On those hid from view
Only the heart can perceive…
~
On a life oft’ encumbered
With worries, frets and woes,
On dreams gone up in flames
Leaving memories behind…
~
But then I remember
One who softly entreats
Draw near to Me
And release your burdens
For I’ll care for you
Each step of the way.
~~
Jan/Feb 2013
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.