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Linda Roorda

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  1. You're very welcome, Hal! Thank you for reading my blog. And I'm glad this reflection and poem was special to you and Ann 🙂
  2. I love to see a beautiful rainbow at the end of a storm, don’t you?! I’ve even seen the occasional double rainbow emerging as the sun begins to shine, leaving a lustrous shimmering sheen on everything wet. Then there’s that elusive pot of gold we joke about finding at its end… wouldn’t we be rich! Rainbows have come to symbolize many things. Since the early 1970s, the rainbow has represented the LGBT community with bright bold colors, used by gays as far back as the 19th century to identify themselves. In some cultures, rainbows are a bad omen, a portent of evil, while on the flip side they’re said to bring good luck, especially double rainbows. But spiritually and biblically, the rainbow represents God’s love and covenant to all of mankind that never again would He destroy the earth. In that one-and-only 40-day flooding deluge of rain, only Noah and his family members survived in the ark he built because of their faith in the one true God… while the rest of the world mocked Noah and worshiped their false gods. With representation in twos, male and female of every living creature, including mankind represented by Noah’s faithful family, that must have been one full and noisy ark! After the storm, Noah and his family saw a magnificent rainbow as they left the ark. “God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-17 NIV) And what a blessing of love and hope God gave us as represented by that rainbow! We are showered with mercy and grace when we come to Him in faith, admit our sins, and ask for His forgiveness. We all face the difficult trials of life, some more than others it seems. As one of America’s favorite poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once penned, “Into each life some rain must fall.” “Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.” Yet, just like the rainbow given as a sign to Noah after the flood, God has promised He will be with us, and never leave us… forever. (Matthew 28:20) I’ve always been touched by the story of Israel’s Joseph, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Taken to Egypt to become a slave, and though a faithful servant, he was falsely charged and imprisoned for many years. Eventually released by Pharaoh for his ability to interpret the king’s dreams, he became second in command! As a “prime minister,” Joseph led the nation through tremendous harvest successes followed by extreme drought and famine. During the famine, his brothers sought assistance from the foreign nation, not knowing their younger brother was in control of grain disbursement. When later identifying himself to his brothers, Joseph shared how God had blessed him through the difficulties, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Though we all face our own share of difficulties, we have the hope that our gracious Lord will walk beside us, guide us, and see us through the storms. As Joshua told the nation of Israel on going into the Promised Land, “Be strong and Courageous. Do not fear… for the Lord your God goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) Many generations later, the Apostle Paul wrote that he had asked God three times to remove the thorn with which he suffered. Instead, God’s response was simply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” Paul was able to boast in his hardships because it was then he felt Christ strengthen him, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12:7-10) Yet, all too often, like me, we often see only the bad in the difficult situation… initially at least. When we raise our eyes to see how God walks through the storm with us, we see the good, the blessing, that comes as we look back in hindsight. Paul reassured us by saying, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) The beautiful rainbow arching across the sky after the storm is a beautiful reminder of God’s love for us, His gift of salvation, His promise to always be with us… no matter what! The Rainbow’s End Linda A. Roorda ~ The richest treasures at the rainbow’s end Reveal the blessings of abundant grace Joy from the heart to brighten your way Wrapped up in love and joy unending. ~ Yet the pot of gold always out of reach Taunts our goals with pursuits of pleasure Tempting the heart to envy another To yearn for more that’s not ours to gain. ~ But when we release our wants for more And humbly embrace to persevere We face the trials standing firm in faith As blessings pour out from our Father above. ~ Such treasures rich we cannot fathom For in His plan all things work together That from a rough path we find His promise And see His face at the rainbow’s end. ~
  3. What a beautiful sunny morning for Mother's Day! Within the busyness of life of working full time in both raising a family and earning an income through a career, finding relaxation through resting or enjoying a special hobby, may you be richly blessed in all you do that is dear to your heart. Wishing each mother a very special Happy Mother’s Day! How to explain a mother’s love… It’s all encompassing… She believes the best, encourages, supports, and nudges her young ones forward from infancy as they grow up to become who they’re meant to be. As a mother holds her tiny newborn in her arms, she feels an intense and special tender love. From deep within her heart, this new love emerges as each little one is born… for every child is created unique by God… an individual with a distinct character and personality… unlike any other in the world. Children are also not born with a set of instructions in one hand as they enter the world… sometimes unfortunately! But, with biblical Godly wisdom, a mother, a parent, also grows within… to become wiser as her children mature. It’s a process involving her learning and understanding while her children move through their own maturation processes. She holds her hands out to pick her young ones up when they fall… while at the same time she tries to let them fail so they can learn from their mistakes… often called tough love. We want so much to keep them from feeling pain, loss and disappointment. And I’ve been guilty of being a helicopter mom… I didn’t want them to face some of the pains I did while growing up. But, that’s not the best option. A mother also realizes she has not always been wise and successful at every turn of the way. She makes mistakes too. At times I needed to apologize for my own misunderstandings and mistakes, being willing to learn from the experience with my children, and to move forward a bit wiser. Discipline, responsibility, accountability, honesty and respect are necessary for a child’s growth, taught and modeled by parents. One form of discipline I incorporated from Ed’s Aunt Ethel with our three children was to have them all sit on the sofa holding hands together when they had been arguing. Unbeknownst to me, as soon as my back was turned, they stuffed their hands down between the sofa cushions – so they wouldn’t have to touch their sibling. As soon as Mom reappeared, they held hands again. When I could see they were treating each other well again, I sent them off to play. As adults, they shared with me what they used to do. I laughed and said, “But it worked! It got you talking and working together, even if you were conspiring against me to unhold your hands!” As a child, Jenn liked to take chocolate chips to her room, hiding them in her desk drawer. One time, this concept went too far. While their dad was at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts, I took the kids grocery shopping with me. Turning around one time, Jenn slowly took her hands out of her pocket with an odd look on her face. I knew… I just knew what had happened. Sure enough, she’d slipped a candy bar into her pocket. I made her put it back, telling her that the store manager had literally just walked past us. If he had seen her, I said, he would have charged her with shoplifting. And people who do that go to jail. Maybe that was harsh to tell an 11-year-old, but this was going to be stopped. On the way home, I even drove past and pointed out the county jail. When we visited their dad at his Aunt Ethel and Uncle Harry’s home in Massachusetts a few weeks later, I shared my concern with Uncle Harry. The next day, he took us all to the Boston Aquarium. We saw the Old North Church, like an ant, tucked down amongst tall “skyscrapers.” Then he took us to see “Old Ironsides,” the famous ship from the War of 1812. It was impressive to walk on a piece of early American history! We thought it was especially neat to see a sailor in an 1812-era uniform on deck, talking on a modern telephone! On the way home, Uncle Harry drove us past a prison with its high barbed-wire fences, telling us it was for teenage delinquents. I’m sure the message was received. Jenn never attempted to steal anything again. True love, and guiding our children through the maze of learning appropriate behavior, does not leave them to blindly follow their own selfish desires. After our daughter, Jennifer, passed away at age 25, I wrote my memories of the growing-up years of Jenn, Em and Dan in a book, “Watch Them” for family and friends. In one chapter I wrote, “Our children – each a unique individual, a most precious gift from God to be treasured and loved as we guide them in their journey through life. My late friend, Mimi, shared a special quote from her stitchery: ‘There are two lasting gifts we can give our children – one is roots, the other is wings.’ May we love our children enough to provide them with the deep roots of a sturdy foundation, and yet love them enough to discipline them, giving them wings and freedom to fly out into the great big world on their own.” To me, that is what a mother’s love is all about. And I love each of my kids and grands so very much! God bless you all, and Happy Mother’s Day! A Mother’s Love Linda A. Roorda A mother’s love From the first smile of joy For the precious bundle held in her arms To the pride in her heart As to the future her child is given. A mother’s love With hugs, tears and kisses That heal life’s bruises As arms enfold her child tight A place that no one else can fill. A mother’s love From deep within her tender heart A love that forever hopes the best A love that believes in guiding the will And a love that never ever lets go. A mother’s love Is kept in gentle memories From her tender sweet smiles To the depths of her heart Forever a love held precious and dear. ~~
  4. Today, I’m sharing something close to my heart. I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating because I am not alone. Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month is May 15 to June 15, with the annual Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day on June 7, 2023. Tourette Syndrome was named for a French neurologist, Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette. He was the first to describe children and adults with specific tic movements in 1884, publishing his study about this syndrome in 1885. I’ve had Tourette’s since age 10-11, starting within a year after my family moved from farms in upstate New York to city life in Clifton, New Jersey… the city where I was born and my dad grew up. It was an extremely emotional, disruptive time in my life to leave behind my close friends and the country life I loved… and preferred. Always believing it was that stress which precipitated my tics, I now understand there is often a genetic component, though I have no idea who may have had it in any older generation. Most of my life I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit I had Tourette’s. Nor did my parents know what to do about it. I was initially mocked, and quickly learned to hide or camouflage the tics with movements that wouldn’t be as readily obvious. I am constantly “on alert”. Though I can generally successfully “hide” the tics, or so I think, they have to have an out and are worse when I’m away from the public eye or under stress. I’ve called the tics “my habit”, but never had a diagnosis until reading a letter in a Dear Abby or Ann Landers column in my early 20s. Self-diagnosing from the apt description in that letter and response by the columnist, I felt such a relief to give my affliction a name! Still, I only shared this information with my husband and closest family. Though embarrassed and ashamed to see myself with tic movements in a family video, I have not let Tourette’s control my life or employment. I was also afraid of passing it on to my children, but I wanted and was blessed with a family. I’m aware of the tics, and am able to control them… but only somewhat. And I’m also thankful they are considered “simple” tics. Just as I’ve been ashamed of my movements, so my late husband was ashamed of being legally blind growing up. (He read and approved this when I initially wrote it.) He couldn’t see the school blackboard with his limited vision, even sitting in the front row, and would not ask for the help he needed. Kids don’t want to be different from their peers. When they have a noticeable difference, they are too often teased or mocked like my husband was, and become ashamed of who they are… sometimes with devastating effects, like suicide. It’s up to us as adults, and even children, to be aware of the issues that others around us are dealing with. If we provide support, acceptance, and encouragement, we will see ourselves for who we truly are - uniquely created in the image of God, and very loved. While subbing one day, I was surprised by a young student who kindly asked, “Do you have Tourette’s?” Seeing no point in denying the obvious to those sweet innocent eyes, I replied, “Yes, I do. But how do you know about Tourette’s?” She’d watched a show. As kids often do, they talked amongst themselves and others began asking me questions. This led to their teacher setting aside time so I could share what I knew about living with Tourette’s. I answered their many questions with several adding they knew someone with Tourette’s, too! It was an informative session, endearing these students to me for their kindness and understanding. They simply accepted me for who I am, just as I accept each of them. Tourette Syndrome is one type of tic disorder, meeting certain medical criteria of involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations, lasting for specific lengths of time. My “simple” tics include, but are not limited to, sudden brief, repetitive movements of certain muscle groups like hard eye blinking or scrunching (the first symptom for most, including myself), facial, mouth, and head movements, shoulder shrugging, arm, hand and finger movements, head and shoulder jerking, leg and foot movements, throat clearing, repeating words or phrases verbally (or in my mind), and more. I have an arthritic bony prominence of my collarbone from decades-long shoulder shrugs, and thoracic spine pain/arthritis from prior movements. Tics wax and wane, change muscle groups at whim, and become worse under stress. Though the tics have never gone away, they often subside, albeit briefly, when I’m fully absorbed in something like singing, sleeping or designing paintings. Totally absorbed while playing intently with my toddler son years ago, my step-mother commented that my tics had totally stopped during that brief window of time. That was the first time I realized there really were times when “my habit” stopped! Tourette Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder with typical onset in childhood or adolescence. Chemical imbalances in the brain, environmental factors, or genetics are considered causative factors. There is no cure, but there are some treatment options. About 35 years ago, I was officially diagnosed by a neurologist and prescribed medication. Unfortunately, taking just half a pill of the smallest dose, the dopey side effect for me was much worse than dealing with the tics, so I declined further medication. I do not have “complex” tics which include distinct patterns with multiple muscles and movements, hopping and twirling, head banging, and more. Vocal tics can include sniffing, throat clearing, shouting, saying words or phrases, and repeating what was heard. Though swearing and unacceptable language are found in a small percentage of Tourette cases, the media often describes coprolalia as a more common symptom. My heart goes out to those with this more severe and disruptive range of tics, some of whom may qualify for disability benefits. Many with Tourette’s also have other diagnoses including obsessive-compulsive disorder, hyperactivity (possibly me), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities. Guidepost magazine once featured contemporary Christian music singer, Jamie Grace, sharing her diagnosis of Tourette’s. Reading the article about her, I burst into tears just to know that someone else has it, but has not let it stop her from living a full life, too. I always felt so alone, never knowing anyone else with Tourette’s until I opened up about it a few years ago on Facebook. Looking at this from God’s perspective, I find it comforting to know He sees me for who I am, Tourette’s and all. He has a greater purpose for our lives as we bring honor and glory to Him in all that we do, even with our limitations. Often, as we go through the trials of life, that’s when we learn how to trust and rely on the Lord the best. In overcoming our own problems, God uses us and our difficult circumstances to reach others who may be dealing with similar issues, bringing love and comfort to them in a way that is as unique as we are each gifted individually. To learn more about Tourette Syndrome and how to handle the emotional and physical challenges, go to their website: https://tourette.org/ Read shared personal stories at: Home | Mytourette.org
  5. I love spring! It’s a season full of the promise of new growth, new life. Yet as I thought about life emerging from a tiny seed, fed and nourished by the sun’s warming rays and watered by a refreshing shower, I could not help but think of the Lord feeding and nourishing our souls to help us grow. As a TA sub in a science class recently, I was reminded of this unpublished blog. Studying plant life, the students experimented with seeds in different situations. Seeds were placed on a folded paper towel with a specific amount of water… some were set on a windowsill where they would have sunlight and warmth, while others were put into a dark cupboard where it was cooler. Checking on the progress of their seeds daily, each group measured and looked for growth. The seeds with the sun’s warmth did the best with rich green young growth, while the seeds in the dark cool cupboard had some growth with long tendrils of white or very pale yellow instead of a darker rich green… they were searching for light and warmth. Interestingly, when I searched my photo file for a particular set of pictures, I saw this photo for today’s post was taken exactly 6 years ago – 04/30/2017! The bursting leaf buds on my maple trees are at the very same stage as back then! A reassurance when the world around us seems to be in constant flux that we are still in His care. In observing that experiment’s results, I realized how like us and our spiritual growth when we have Jesus and His Word, His light, as our guide, versus the darkness without His guiding light. In Jesus, we have a solid foundation to lean on. We’re fed with spiritual nutrition from His Word, Holy Scripture, as we turn to Him for answers in dealing with life’s problems. And I can’t help but wonder about those who lash out at life around them, having little to no purpose or meaning. Without a solid foundation and moral guidance to keep them on the right path, they often grow with negativity, seeking the easiest route to self-gratification regardless of collateral damage. I long for them to know and feel the embrace of God’s overwhelming love. In creating us and knowing who He’s designed us to be, it must give God great pleasure to watch us fulfill the purpose He’s placed within each of us as we seek His wisdom. Like a seed pushing upward and outward from its protective shelter below the soil, growing from a tiny seed until the whole of its beauty is evident, so is our life. Developing from a tiny cell, we grow until we are one day born unique, created by God like no other being. From infancy onward, we continue our maturing process to exhibit a growth and beauty within our heart and soul as we become who God intended us to be… a beautiful life meant to glorify Him. A Tiny Seed Linda A. Roorda Once upon a day a seed was planted Just a tiny seed, held gently in hand The soil was tilled and the seed tucked in To patiently wait, its growth to begin Learning to endure the seasons of life. As the tiny seed emerges frail From winter’s long and darkened sleep Into the warming breath of spring The sparkling rays of golden sun Shine down upon its tiny head. The rains gently fall to nourish the soil The sun rises high to share its warm glow And day by day the seed begins to grow Coddled with love, nudged into life Slowly but surely potential to gain. So it reaches up yet higher still Straining to achieve its dreams and goals Looking unlike any other around In plain and simple, yet elegant attire Focusing on its purpose ordained. And then one day a small simple bud Opens its petals for all to take note Delicate beauty unfolding soft To praise the One who created it so Like you and me with purpose unique. For by His loving and abundant care Sheltered and nurtured within our heart Is gently worked His will and His plan So that we beloved, precious children of His Bring honor and praise to our glorious God. ~~
  6. Thank you so very much, Ann... yes, there's so much more that could be said, and so many memories tucked away to savor... 🙂
  7. How do you write a tribute to celebrate a life, and capture the essence of 70 years in just a few words? I couldn’t, but will share some snapshots of Ed’s life that I read yesterday at Ed’s burial service with several family and friends present. When he went back to the ER yet again on January 13th, Ed calmly told me he was praying for God to take him home. He was tired and worn out from the constant health issues he’d had since October 2008. He wanted me to know how much he loved me and our family, and that he could not have done life without me at his side for those 48 years - well actually 49 years if you count from Christmas Day 1973 when we started dating. But I also want to share that Ed’s cousin Kevin called me March 29th. He told me something he was hesitant to tell Ed when it happened, and now wishes he had. He had wanted to tell me after Ed passed but was afraid of breaking down so he waited … but in November, he’d had a very vivid dream of Ed. Kevin was in front of his house when Ed appeared and said “Hey Kevin! Look what I can do!” as he ran back and forth!! Kevin believes it was a premonition that he didn’t realize at the time, a treasure!! Ed was an easy-going, laid-back kinda guy, with a great sense of humor. When his friend and coworker Jeff Grover, who he thought highly of, picked him up for work at VTI and apologized for oversleeping and being late, Ed would simply say, “It’s ok. You must’ve needed the extra sleep”. Ed was kind and compassionate to a roommate who’d had a terrible night after surgery such that Ed got very little sleep. Bruce, who grew up a dairy farmer and was a disabled policeman, so appreciated Ed’s kindness and reawakening of his own faith in God that when Ed was discharged, he got out of bed to give Ed a hug and broke down crying on Ed’s shoulder for the friendship bonding they’d shared that week. Ed did not like attention on himself. He was quite a fighter in life and never gave up, working hard to prove he could do things with his limited vision. Over the past several years of his illnesses, he was determined to do whatever he could, for as long as he could, rather than sit back and do nothing. His faith in God was a very real part of his life, praying for God’s wisdom and guidance. He told me he even prayed for a wife, and God had sent me. And he was very supportive of my endeavors, often reading my blogs before posting and gave constructive advice. Yes we had difficulties as a couple, but we made a commitment when we got married and worked through those hard times with God at our side. He was a two-month premature twin, spending a month in an incubator with pure oxygen which damaged his eyes. With no vision in his right eye, and only 20/200 vision with glasses in left eye, he managed to do a lot. With new glasses at age 5 or 6, he was ecstatic to see kids sledding down a hill, something he’d never been able to see before. He used to lose his glasses regularly, with the family finding them in odd places like hanging from a beam in the haymow after haying! He wouldn’t let it be known he couldn’t see the board from a front row seat, but one special teacher caught on and let Ed copy from his notes. He was appointed swim team manager for the state championship team while at Warwick High School. He swam like a pro, but wasn’t allowed to compete on the team for fear he’d hurt himself or someone else by not being able to see his lane, a great disappointment to him, but he accepted it and moved on. Ed had helped on the farm since he was a little kid. As he grew older, he wanted to do what his brother Marv did – like driving tractor and doing field work. His Dad said, “Okay, you can try, but you’ve got to be careful” – not telling his Mom till later. He tried, and was very careful, proving he could handle their John Deere 520 and machinery like he was born to the job. He loved nothing better than doing fieldwork, alert to machinery sounds and problems. He was always extra cautious, never reaching over or into running machinery for the danger that posed. He was also great at rhyming words, making short silly “poems,” telling me it was from all those years of endless hours on the tractor! Ed also had a close friendship with hired hand, Mat Donnelly, who was surprised I was Ed’s wife; we knew each other in Lounsberry. Ed and Mat really enjoyed working together, and visiting together over the years, talking and listening to Ed’s records or CDs. Ed had also milked cows since he was young; but by getting his head under a cow to see where to put the milking machine, his Dad advised him that if he was going to milk cows, he’d better find another way to put the machines on or he’d be getting his head kicked in a lot! So, like for other tasks, he put the machines on by feel. He loved working with his Dad who allowed him the ability to succeed by trying, and did so well at many things that I took his abilities for granted. He grew up on rented farms in Orange County, NY, before moving to their own farm in Spencer in April 1968. That lasted until June 1985 at age 33 when he had a major retinal detachment. Imagine going to the eye doctor, being told you need urgent surgery, and you can’t even do barn chores that night… or ever again. He was devastated. And we had three little ones to raise. But moving forward after recovery he helped take care of the house and kids while I went to work. He made the grocery list until a few weeks before he passed away. Tho he’d given me his master list, I struggle with actually making that list now! Ed held a life-long love of music, from traditional hymns to classic country music, and classic rock from the 1950s thru the 80’s, especially the Beatles! As a little boy, his parents and relatives were amazed at how he knew which little 45-record was which. If someone asked for a song, he always knew the right one to put on the record player his grand-parents had given him. He told me that he never understood why they were all so amazed because, “I just memorized the picture on each record that went with each song!” Of course! How simple… so like Ed, a man without pretentions! But he could have been a DJ. He often knew a song by just a few initial notes, and the background stories of so many singers and their bands, and who left what group to go solo or start another group. Without vision, he knew every CD he had in several boxes, and knew which song was on what track on which CD, just like he’d known his many records! While dating and after we were married, he took great pains to patiently play a record, stop it, write down the words in a letter to me, play the next phrase, stop, write it down, repeat, repeat, repeat. Later he did this with internet songs, writing down special lyrics for my birthday and our anniversary. I loved that he took the time to do that for me, or that he’d ask someone to take him to the store so he could buy me a card. That’s true love! Eventually, he had more eye troubles with hemorrhaging and surgeries, and was left with additional vision loss. He went to The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts for 6 months of personal training from November 1989 to April 1990, spending every weekend by his Aunt Ethel and Uncle Harry, helping them with firewood! He learned Braille well with large dots, but when he had to use smaller dots, he could not feel them to read. After returning home, he was hired by Vergason Technology in Van Etten. He worked as a customer service rep, teaching himself to write programs for the shipping and receiving clerks with the assistance of an engineer and listening to tutorials. He could read large white-on-black print on a closed-circuit TV, was able to see some colors, but lost the last remnants of vision in 1998. Going through another bout of deep depression, we learned from counselors it was a typical response, as his old self gradually rose again to deal with being totally blind. But then he was laid off a month after 9/11/2001. AVRE (Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment) in Binghamton again assisted him in seeking new employment. His aide took him to an interview at Cornell’s vet school office. Afterwards, the woman doing the interview told him he’d been the best candidate she had ever interviewed with his knowledge, calm demeanor and ability to think on his feet, but they really needed someone with vision. He understood, appreciating her input, while the aide from AVRE later asked why he wasn’t nervous. Telling her he had been very nervous, she replied, “You never showed it! You were one cool cucumber under pressure!” And that too was so like Ed! A few weeks after Jenn died in June 2003, Ed was still on the Federated Church’s prayer list, looking for work. He told me he had prayed and asked God to bring the job to him because he had done all he could do with no results. That week there was a knock on the door. Ray Maratea came in, pulled a chair by Ed in his recliner, sat down, and asked Ed what he could do for them because they wanted to hire him! God answered Ed’s prayer by sending the job to him! Ray had seen Ed’s name on that prayer list! Working with AVRE, Raymond-Hadley Corporation set Ed up as an office assistant with his customer service background. He set up tractor trailers for pickup and delivery, tracked certificates for files, and made collection calls. When he wasn’t able to work in the office, they willingly set him up at home to continue doing collection calls because he was so good at it - he never got flustered, never got upset at customers, and handled situations with a calm and easy-going manner. Just a few days before he died, he asked me to write his resignation letter as he knew he would not be able to handle the job when he came home again, saying it was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to ask me to do for him - he absolutely loved his job for the company and the wonderful people he worked with. Ed loved his family deeply, and it hurt him that he couldn’t do things with them, go places with them, or visit them. He was very proud of all their accomplishments, and the wonderful adults they became - Jennifer (who’d married Matt), Emily (who married Nick) and Daniel (who married Beth). He also loved his 5 grandchildren very much – Liam, Wesley, Gwen, Samuel, and Maxwell, and always wished he could have seen them, read to them like he did with our own kids before bedtime, or played with them. We love and miss Ed, but rejoice that he’s in his heavenly home with his Savior, and can see and run!
  8. Impetuous Peter… the disciple like so many of us, if we’re honest. I tend to speak quickly, not always giving as much thought to my answer as I should. My late husband, on the other hand, would take time to formulate his reply. And how often I’ve realized the depth of wisdom he shared in what he’d mulled over. Then, there’s the side of us which promises never to abandon a friend in their time of need. Yet we do. And I can’t help but wonder… aren’t we a bit miffed at their denials of wrongs to protect themselves? Does their conscience pierce their heart? Is there even a snippet of guilt or shame? Don’t they know a heart-felt apology for wrongs done begins to restore relationships? But, more importantly, have we forgiven them anyway? For faithful is the friend who remains supportive and encouraging. But please note, I am not speaking about truly abusive relationships. That is an entirely different situation we need to walk away from when no genuine remorse and change is made… despite what others think who don’t know the truth. Which reminds me of the twelve disciples gathered around Jesus and their inner thoughts… no different than us. Unbeknownst to all but Jesus, one of their own, Judas, was in the process of selling out their Lord for thirty pieces of silver, even as they shared the Passover meal together. (Matthew 26:14-16, 17-30) The disciples all knew how much Jesus loved them, so it must have caused great consternation as they heard Him warn Peter that before a rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny ever having known Jesus. (Mark 14:30) They must have wondered how their Teacher could think such a thing, let alone say it! (Luke 22:31-34; Mark 14:27-31) Even Peter protested that he would rather go to prison or die with Jesus, than ever renounce his best friend! After dinner, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to rest and pray. Judas (who had left the table of his dining friends) eventually rejoined them, bringing along a large entourage of soldiers. And then he boldly gave Jesus a traitor’s kiss as soldiers surrounded his former teacher. To prove his own devotion to his best friend, Peter rashly sliced off the ear of one of the Roman guards with his sword. With tender love for those who meant him harm, Jesus gently restored the man’s ear, and rebuked Peter for such hasty behavior. (John 18:10-11) Surprisingly, as Jesus was being arrested, His closest friends… his followers, his disciples… turned their backs in abandonment and ran out of fear. (Mark 14:50-52) Later that evening as Peter warmed himself around a fire in the courtyard during Jesus’ trial, a servant girl thought she recognized him. Concerned for his own life after Jesus’ arrest, Peter vehemently denied being among Jesus’ closest friends… three times he rebuked their remembrances, the last time swearing like the old fisherman that he was. Immediately, a rooster crowed for the second time. And Peter instantly recalled what Jesus had predicted. His heart sank in broken-hearted grief. He had vehemently denied that he’d ever do such a thing to his closest of friends, and yet that’s exactly what he had done. Feeling utterly ashamed and alone, he walked away from everyone, and wept tears of great sorrow and remorse. (Mark 14:66-72) Once again, Peter had reacted rashly, thinking he was deflecting harm to himself by denying the truth without taking the time to think of the consequences. Yet, Peter loved his Lord. And Jesus loved Peter… unequivocally. For after Jesus’ crucifixion and then resurrection, the angel in the tomb told the women, “[Jesus] is risen! He is not here… Go, tell His disciples and Peter.” To me, those words signify how deeply our Lord loved Peter. Despite Peter’s hasty denials, God wanted to be sure Peter heard and understood the good news! (Mark 16:7) In Luke 24:9-12, we read that as soon as Peter heard about Jesus’ resurrection, he got up and immediately ran to the tomb to check out the story’s validity for himself. So like our impetuous Peter, isn’t it?! But it also shows how deeply Peter truly loved his Lord! Some days later, unexpectedly meeting their Lord on the shore of Galilee after fishing all night, John retold for us how Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. With a tone of voice that likely reflected his deepest feelings, Peter was irritated and hurt that Jesus would ask him the same question for a third time. And Peter gave the same response each time, “You know I love you!” (John 21:15-17) Yet it was all done to help Peter understand that he was truly loved… and forgiven for his denials because of his repentant heart… and that Jesus was now giving Him a second chance with a new responsibility. Peter was to reach out to a world of hurting souls with the same love that he had been given from Jesus after his own failures! The reason Jesus was born into this world… the reason He died on a cross… was to pay for the sinful deeds we’ve done, no matter their size. “For we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) As we confess our sins and need for a Savior, we receive God’s most gracious gift of forgiveness. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What depths of mercy and grace are ours! A Blessed and Happy Easter to each of you! Do You Love Me? Linda A. Roorda Do you love me? More than all these? You know I do, Lord! A loving friendship. You know my thoughts, my words and my ways, Surely you know how deep is my love. ~ Do you love me? Do you truly love? You know I do, Lord! I’d sacrifice self. Then feed My sheep, meet them in their need, Go to My flock, and lead them in truth. ~ Do you love me? With your heart and soul? Oh Lord, I am grieved! My heart has been stabbed. But oh! the shame of having denied One with whom I’d walked, the leader of hearts. ~ Did you not warn of what was to come? I pledged you my love above all others. I’d follow you Lord, even unto death! I’d never disown my Savior, my God. ~ But when confronted, my heart shrank in fear. I heard my own words deny with alarm. Twice more they claimed I was with the condemned, When out of my mouth came vicious cursing. ~ I winced in shock to hear the cock crow. My heart sank in shame for what I had done. My Lord had said deny Him I would, Now all I could do was bitterly weep. ~ You gazed thru my heart. You saw my soul’s depth. You poured out Your love though faithless was I. And now, Lord, you ask, do I truly love? Yes, Lord, I do! With heart, soul and mind. ~ Then tenderly care for the sheep of My fold. Go to the fields and guide them in truth. Feed them my Word, everlasting life. Shower with mercy and grace in My name. (Published at the Christian Reformed Church online Network here 04/04/0/23)
  9. We’ve all heard the old adage that there are two sides to every story, and a classic trial brings that point out vividly. I’ve served on three juries in the past – one clearly guilty, one given a lesser settlement than desired, and one clearly not guilty. It’s an honor to be selected to sit with peers to carefully review and ponder the facts of the case as presented by the respective attorneys, and to be responsible for the right verdict. Certainly, some have abused the trial-by-jury system and condemned truly innocent folks, but more often than not it has been an equitable and fair justice system. The legal teams for the defendant and the plaintiff each present salient points to be considered, arguing their case convincingly with evidence and witnesses. Once the case has been handed over to the jury, it’s up to these 12 peers to discuss evidence presented and determine guilt or innocence. For the most part, at each trial, we jurors could tell early on where the truth lay. We also brought along our own life experiences and knowledge which helped weigh the evidence from both sides. In one trial, for example, the farming background I and another gentleman had made all the difference in helping others understand more fully the veracity of certain aspects which had been presented during the trial. But sometimes it seems that a trial with its accusations is like that voice in my head reminding me of how guilty I am. It’s Satan pointing out all of my sins… one after another, stacked high, like a mountain tall. The right way to live is spelled out in the Ten Commandments, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and scattered all throughout Scripture. But I’m also well aware that I cannot keep God’s commands and expectations to live a pure and holy life. I have a serious debt which I can never repay. So, what am I to do? Go to the Lord, confess my sins and failures, and accept God’s love and forgiveness, for nothing I could ever do will wash away my guilt. My favorite verse since childhood has been – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) Jesus took the punishment I deserved on that fateful day we call Good Friday. He was put on trial, a one-sided sham of justice. He was whipped, mocked, and nailed to a cross… not for anything He had done for He was sinless, faultless, perfect… fully human, yet fully God. But He did that for me. He willingly took my place, giving His life to purchase my right to join Him in heaven forever. His mercy and grace bring me to tears. Someday I will stand before Almighty God, my judge, to give an account of my life. I will have nothing to say in my defense… except that I put faith in my advocate, Jesus, who will be standing at my side, declaring me guiltless because He has already paid for my sins… with His own life… my Savior. My Advocate Linda A. Roorda With accusations I’m now confronted No plea have I but guilty as charged I hang my head to litany stark And with quiet shame my accuser I face. It once had seemed the world was my own I learned the games to lie and to cheat I did not care if others were hurt As long as my will and goals were achieved. But in the spiral of downward tumble I lost the vision I’d once beheld A purer focus, others before self Humble respect in tangled webs lost. And one by one as charges were read I clearly recalled the past with deep pain Words now regretted, carelessly spoken How could I ever repair what I’d done? In my despair while under scrutiny My only hope was to beg for mercy That perhaps some deed along the way Would balance the book, the ledger of sin. But, alas, I heard the judge declare Guilty as charged; no mercy be shown. Like rock upon rock my sins were stacked high As I stared upon that mountain of debt. Just then the doors were flung open wide And striding forth came a man in pure white Boldly he exclaimed, “This debt has been paid!” “I hung on the cross, and took all the shame.” Slowly I sank to my knees in awe. Who was this man who gave all for me? How could he give his life for my debt? For I can’t repay such a merciful gift. Reaching out gently he pulled me up straight And showed me his scars and nail-pierced hands He held out his arms in welcome embrace As he dried my tears and declared me free. I love you my child… I did this for you. I carried your shame upon my beaten back. I purchased your soul with life-giving blood That you might have life with mercy and grace. Now all I ask is by faith you walk Bring to the world compassion and peace Carry my light to the corners dark Open your heart to love and forgive. ~~
  10. Spring is on its way! For real! I saw little white snowdrops and purple crocuses blooming in my gardens on my walk-about Friday. The blackbirds have definitely returned, their huge flocks of black covering the yard and treetops singing their hearts out, along with the lilting songs of my favorite bluebirds and the tweets of robins. And with the slow emergence of spring comes the vagaries of weather, the plummeting highs and lows, yet we didn’t get the sleet and snow with yesterday’s rain, for which I’m thankful. But with Saturday’s cold blustery, windy, dreary, rainy day I decided to sew up a new purse – using fabric of fanciful and beautiful dragonflies like iridescent butterflies. And as I sewed, my mind wandered back in time to the many various items like clothing, quilts, and purses I’ve made over the decades. But, as is typical, I made a few mistakes that needed correcting… like when I made a special quilt for Ed in the past. The center panel and fabrics were gifted to me by three different friends, yet they meshed so well as if purchased together! And yes, I made a mistake in sewing then too… had to rip out and redo an entire side section. But in the process, I realized something special - isn't that how God takes the pieces of our life and fits them all together perfectly?! And that got me thinking about this old blog, The Master Tailor. I love to sew! And it all started in 7th grade Home Ec sewing class in Clifton, NJ. Making a simple A-line denim skirt using orange thread (to resemble Western clothing) and a beach wrap (displayed on the wall by the teacher) were the simple beginnings of better things to come. With my mom too busy caring for a new baby brother to teach me more, my dad’s mother took me under her wings. A former professional seamstress of gowns and clothing, Grammy helped me sew a western shirt (see attached photo), not an easy project with those angled points, and taught me well to use the seam ripper. I learned to rip out my mistakes, start over, and make it right! Isn't that how God takes the pieces of our life and fits them all together perfectly? In making life mistakes, it’s how we accept correction or change that makes all the difference. So, when I tried to make a quilt on my own, totally wrong, Grammy taught me the correct way. She gifted me with several fabrics as I made a cardboard template to cut out 6-inch squares. Laying out the fabric squares on the living room floor, I set them in a pattern, sewed up the long strips, and then sewed each long strip side by side. With that success, Grammy gifted me with fabric every Christmas over several years for yet more skirts and dresses. After my family moved to Lounsberry, NY in 1969, I bought a c.1900 treadle machine that my auctioneer cousin, Howard, was selling for only $3. My dad oiled it, fixed the tension, got a new leather belt for the wheels, and my sewing obsession took off. More skirts, suits and dresses were made on that treadle machine to carry me through high school, including my prom gown and wedding gown. Turning 20 on my first birthday after we married, my husband bought me a new Singer electric sewing machine! And oh, if it could talk, the miles of thread and fabric it has sewn in clothes for myself, shirts for my husband, clothing for my children, and tiny clothes for their dolls. And, now, using this same sewing machine, I’ve been making quilts in log cabin and prairie window designs among many other designs, along with simple and more-detailed table runners, and purses. How I wish Grammy could see them for she taught me well! Have you known that feeling of contentment as you worked to create something of value for yourself or others? Have you known what it feels like to be so engrossed in a project that you lose all sense of time? Have you known the frustration of having to take the time to rip out a seam, or correct something that just wasn’t right? And, because you did so, you then felt the satisfaction of seeing your finished project in all its beauty? Maybe that’s how God views us when we recognize His hand guiding us through life’s ups and downs. David said it so well, “If the Lord delights in a man’s ways, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24) This poem was written in a reflective moment, remembering that various mistakes, hardships, and testing over the years have helped define character and create who we are deep in our soul. At times, I’ve not paid sufficient attention to my sewing, made mistakes, and had to employ that seam ripper. I’ve also realized what a life lesson that holds… because admitting I’ve made an error is the first step to correcting it, and then learning from it. I may not want to face the trials which might be coming in the future; but, in looking back, neither can I imagine life without the hardships we have worked through. They refine our life and shape us for the better… just like the seam ripper’s cutting edge. And I also can’t help but realize that the Lord knows what He’s doing as He works His will through those trials which He allows each of us to face. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...” (Romans 8:28, NIV) For through these difficulties, He shapes and molds us into the unique and special person He intends for us to be. The Master Tailor Linda A. Roorda As the seamstress sits and begins to sew Her loving care goes into each stitch And correlation stirs within her thoughts Of the Creator’s design deep in her soul. In her mind’s eye she sees it take shape From simple concept to finished result And beams with joy, her dream made complete As she holds with pride her creation dear. But what the world just cannot see Are errors which loomed about to destroy For outward beauty can never reveal The seam ripper’s hand in disciplined cuts. When I beheld what the seamstress had wrought I could not miss the significant key Of one who deftly shaped my own soul From even before my life came to be. The Master Tailor gazed into the future And pondered the me who I should be. He planned and designed each path for my good As He cut and sewed the fabric of me. He carefully stitched and eased the seams And reigned in penchants of wayward threads, But now and then along the way The seam ripper’s edge He gently employed. For don’t you see, without the hardships Life’s burdens and pain cannot reflect The greater good down deep in my heart As seam ripper cuts shape my will to His. On a journey I am, a work in progress For someday when my time has come He’ll gaze upon His workmanship And see exactly who He planned me to be. ~~
  11. ...and Why It Failed" -- Have read considerably on the American Civil War, been to Gettysburg on our honeymoon, stood on top of the rocks overlooking the field where Pickett's Charge took place. Researched and wrote for my Homespun Ancestors blog about the battle and Lincoln's short and to-the-point simple but reverberating speech to commemorate those who gave their lives in this important battle. This book by Carhart is key to understanding Gen. Robert E. Lee, a highly respected West Point graduate, who thoroughly studied and put to use Napoleonic battle plans which won for the Confederacy. Lee lost Gettysburg because of two main side failures which were to have supported Pickett for a major win - one of which became a great triumph for the Union's Brig. Gen. George A. Custer. A man of great valor, courage and bravery, he, too, studied at West Point, thus also knowing how to win in various battlefield situations. With far less men on the field, he stopped J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart's advance to meet Pickett's men by also using Napoleonic battle plans... based on centuries' old tried-and-true methods. I was impressed with the extensive research by Carhart. Impressed with his writing and detailed explanations of the battlefields before these armies converged at Gettysburg. Impressed with both Lee and Custer's bravery and skill on the battlefield. As I was intrigued from previous readings about Custer, he was a great soldier before arrogance caught up with him at the Battle of Little Big Horn - a battlefield my daughter and I visited in 2004 enroute from her job in Calif to S.D. for grad school. Standing at the rise which overlooks a wide open plain where the Native Americans had encamped, seeing behind us the gravestones of every one of Custer's men made me wonder "what was he thinking"?! A must read for all Civil War buffs!
  12. My family's order of 3 doz mixed baby chicks arrived safe and healthy with no dead little ones back in the spring of 1970... and as a teen, I commenced a crash course from my Dad on how to care for them once my Mom said they were old enough to be put out in the newly remodeled old chicken coop. And I learned responsibility and a love for my collection of mixed breed hens! Too many people, like Rosenthal, think they know better how to run our lives than we do!!!
  13. Though spring is right around the corner, winter left behind another remnant with a thin dusting of fresh white powder on a newly greening yard with continued flurries and a temp of 20 this morning. So I can either be distressed or accept winter’s last fling, or two, knowing it won’t last as spring will soon be here… the large influx of noisy blackbirds looking for refreshment testified to that yesterday morning! It’s just one of the things I’ve learned to accept, something I can do nothing about other than to appreciate each day of new life and the joy it brings in a myriad of ways. Similar to the ways in which we view our individual life setbacks, problems and struggles. But we know God is still here with us, still caring for us, still guiding us thru each difficulty that we might learn from His wisdom. And I wish you God’s many blessings and abundant love today and always... Sometimes I Strive -- I have struggles in life… like everyone else. I don’t like to see the downtrodden victims of society, regardless of the circumstance. Like others, I ask why there is suffering. Why are innocents murdered? Why do some suffer virtually lifelong with chronic health issues while others go their whole life with barely a problem, and live past 100 (like my great-grandmother)? Why do we find inequality in many societal sectors? Why does it so often seem like the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer? But then, those questions beg another and another… like why is there evil in the world? Is there an evil underplay which thwarts God’s good? And, where is God in all the mess? There was, and perhaps still is, a religious philosophy called the “prosperity gospel.” If we live and pray a certain way before God, we will be blessed… yes, but it's not just a cause and effect. It often seems to go along with faith healing… as if having enough faith, or praying just the right way, will gain us our desires from God… like health, wealth and happiness. Ours is a society that expects instant gratification. In reality, it’s a dangerous message that twists the true meaning of God’s blessings which aren’t always readily poured out the way we want… and may tend to promote the thinking that the degree of blessings is based on our level of faith and spirituality… a works-based manipulation of God through various methods to meet His favor... like my being asked "have you tried this" to gain a certain response from God... We may hope and pray for years that God will heal us or rectify some problem… yet, we may or may not see the answer in our lifetime. We may hold onto Scripture that seems to promise God’s blessings upon faithful followers. Unfortunately, at times, answers that we hope and pray for never seem to come… or, the answers may not be what we want. Why? What’s wrong with us? What are we doing wrong that our prayers aren’t answered, while others seemingly live an unfettered life of health, wealth and happiness? It’s as though a dissatisfaction builds, and we get caught up in looking over our shoulder at what others have or don’t have. And that should not be... it's wrong. So, if we take a step back, we might hear that still small voice in our heart… the voice of God speaking to our soul. As we contemplate Psalm 37, we find the shepherd king David wrote verses rich with meaning, even for us today: 1) “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” [vs.3; the secure care and provision by the Lord, our shepherd] 2) “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” [vs.4; seek the Lord, study His word, meditate on His truths, and He will give you the desires which mirror HIS will] With the wisdom God granted him, King Solomon advised that we “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not on [our] own understanding; in all [our] ways acknowledge him, and he will make [our] paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Even James reminded us in chapter 1, vs.2-5 that we should “consider it pure joy, my brothers, 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, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault…” And yet, how well we know that it’s not easy to be joyful in trials. We can find a multitude of examples throughout Scripture of those who loved the Lord yet suffered unjustly, while their faith was strengthened through various trials. Job lost everything, but he learned to trust God’s sovereignty. Joseph, too, suffered unjustly, being sold into slavery by his brothers. It took years before God felt his trials in total had prepared him sufficiently to become second in command under Egypt’s Pharaoh. Our Lord’s disciples were not rewarded with health and wealth for having known Jesus personally. All but John were martyred with their blessing, instead, being a powerful witness to us of Christ’s loving grace which continues today. And, the beloved Apostle Paul shared his own physical struggle in II Corinthians 12:8-10. It was his belief that he was given an irritating “thorn” so that he would not become conceited in his ministry. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Can I say that? No, not always… Paul had tremendous faith, a highly honorable witness of God's love and grace, yet even he was not healed as he desired. Even in turning back a few pages to Romans 8:28, we read that Paul reminded us to “…know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” For “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (I John 5:14) Then, as we “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…all these things will be given to [us] as well. (Matthew 6:33) The blessings come with faith and trust in God and His will for my life… not following or pleading for my own desires. In the midst of our troubles, as we seek the Lord’s love and guidance, He uses those trials to bring His will to completion in us, causing good to emerge out of what we consider bad… not necessarily health and wealth, but certainly that for which we can bring praise and honor to our loving God as our faith grows through the trial and suffering. For in the end, He is all we need… not riches and great fame. And there I rest my case, putting an end to my own strivings and struggles against what at times seem to be unfair life circumstances… to “be still, and know that [He is] God.” (Psalm 46:10) For who am I to question what trial God will use to bless and mature me into wisdom… or to draw me closer to Him and His great love… and maybe to bless someone else from what I’ve learned? As our Lord’s prayer says, “…Thy will be done…” Sometimes I Strive Linda A. Roorda Sometimes I strive against You, my God Without an answer to desperate pleas. How can it be that silence ensues From heartfelt prayers and a depth of faith? Yet no promise was ever uttered That a life of ease for asking was ours, For at the core of trials and tears Lies deeper faith with trust at its heart. To watch and wonder why suffering exists, What is the purpose? Where is the healing? Did you not say, “Take delight in Me And I will grant the desires of your heart?” But that’s only part of truth in blessing For when it’s Your will and we bear much fruit Will it be said You answered my pleas? No, even then answers seem fleeting. For in the asking You give what is best, Not what we want, but what meets our needs. As You work for good whatever we face Therein lies peace in accepting Your will.
  14. I, too, enjoy reading several sections, read state rep updates, enjoy the efforts of other Local Writers and greatly appreciate the readers of my own columns, and often peruse the daily chit-chat tho I seldom respond to comments there - and would hate to see you end this project!
  15. Despair… a lack of hope... a feeling of utter defeat… like you’ve been so beaten down you can’t get back up to face the world. The loss of something good can be that devastating… whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the disabling of physical abilities, the loss of a job, or perhaps the loss of something greatly treasured. Maybe one of these difficult issues is what you’re facing right now. My poem below was written in 2014, during a very difficult year for us as a couple, found among my cache of unpublished reflections. Ed faced a life-and-death situation from severe pancreatitis with no known cause, the doctor telling him if he’d waited one more day to come to the ER, he would not have survived. That recovery was followed by additional health issues, procedures and surgery for Ed, with my own diagnosis of breast cancer with procedures and surgery. To say we were overwhelmed by life, trying to handle so many health issues one on top of another, would be an understatement… Any loss can be difficult as you slowly wend your way through grief. Your emotions have taken a hit. Yet you may not realize it’s actually healthy to go through the several steps of grief to process a loss… as long as you don’t get stuck in one of the stages. For it’s important to know that, in the end, you will be ok… you are normal… and you will survive to ultimately smile at the world once again. Like many others who have faced losses, my husband and I also faced several major losses which, at the time, seemed utterly overwhelming. And we fell right in line with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief - denial, anger, the “if only” stage, depression, and acceptance. Admittedly, it’s not an easy journey. But in looking back, we can honestly say we overcame the challenges and moved forward in peace knowing the Lord was at our side… every step of the way. One of the initial major losses we dealt with began for my husband in 1985. He had always known poor vision after pure oxygen damaged his eyes as a premature twin in an incubator (then called retrolental fibroplasia, now labeled retinopathy of prematurity). But, unknown to us as a young couple was the disease’s typical gradual deterioration of the retina in his left eye (the right optic nerve was damaged irreparably by the pure oxygen). Going for a second opinion due to odd shadows in his vision field, he was told he had a major retinal tear that the previous ophthalmologist had overlooked and actually denied to another doctor who felt that was the issue… and Ed needed urgent surgery. He could not even do barn chores that evening… or ever again… in order to preserve his only viable eye and limited vision for as long as possible. To Ed, it felt as though it were the end of life… the end of farming with his Dad, the only working relationship he had known, a way of life he absolutely loved. He was only 33, and we had three young ones to care for. In coming to terms with our situation, I went back to work a month after his surgery, while he stayed home to care for our children. Unfortunately, he faced further vision loss a few short years later as we returned from a trip to New Jersey to visit my family. We shared an unforgettable day of fun and laughter when my Dad and step-mother took us to the ocean at Sandy Hook. But on the way home, driving north through the hills of Scranton, PA, his eye began hemorrhaging. After two surgeries, he was left with limited light and color detection, and the stages of grief set in once again. Typically, major loss is also faced with denial and shock that such a thing could happen. Yes, it was devastating. How could this happen to us, and why? He’d lost his farming job and had no idea what else he could do with limited useable vision. We’d also purchased a new riding mower that spring which he was looking forward to using. You think things will get better… soon, somehow… they just have to! You hold out hope that life will return to normal… but the norm we were used to was gone forever. And then, anger and frustration took over. You may go through a time of blaming yourself, or someone else. Life seems unfair and you find yourself retreating into a world all your own. If only things were different, if only I’d done things differently… At this stage, Ed smashed his white cane until broken. What we learned after seeking professional help for the blind and their families from Binghamton’s AVRE was invaluable. Later, while Ed was at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, MA for six months, he again learned this was part of a normal grief process. Other residents had also taken out their anger and frustration in various ways, with most, if not all, breaking their first cane. It was hard to learn a new way of doing things… to tackle the simplest of tasks with very limited or no vision… learning to do the things we take for granted. Out of his training at The Carroll Center, came the blessing of skills for a new office job. Then, as the final curtain of darkness closed in around him about 10 years later, a deeper depression settled in. As he lost the last remnants of vision, Ed would describe dreams in vivid colors to me. They seemed to taunt him on awakening, and he would be devastated once again to find his world was still dark, totally devoid of all light and color. I suspect that may also be why he wasn’t overly fond of colorful descriptions of things he could no longer see. I get it… that was like rubbing salt into an open wound; it was easier for him to just not think about his vision loss. Gradually, though, he came to accept his situation as his old self rose to the occasion. Just like when he grew up with limited vision in school and on the farm (20/200 with glasses, reading with a book very close to his face), he was determined to accomplish whatever seemingly insurmountable task was put in front of him… and succeed he did! His faith remained strong in God who had given him a kind and gentle heart with a depth of wisdom and sense of humor that once again carried him forward. And remember that new riding mower which Ed never got to use? Well, we have a photo of him sitting on it, reaching to the front of the mower with his new white cane… positioned to guide his path... just for the fun of it. He always impressed me with his sense of humor and inner strength, another gift from God, for I truly don’t know that I could have handled all that he had… as well as he had. Yes, he continued to have occasional difficult days of depression, as anyone does with major loss, but He carried on with strength and courage from the Lord to face each new obstacle. With our hope, faith, and trust in God above, we find He’s there for us. He has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 12:11) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Our God may have to carry us for a while, but He’s there, helping each of us face the darkest and most difficult days… on our journey to joy. The Journey to Joy Linda A. Roorda ~ I see your hurt and sorrow within As you gaze out from a darkened pane Where once shone light and humor bright Now focus is turned to inward retreat. ~ Not yours to enjoy are bright sunny days And seldom is heard laughter’s easy ring. Your days often pass in a hazy blur With meaning to find in the depth of loss. ~ For you the birds do not sing their songs And clouds have covered the light in your heart. Each waking moment a reminder grim Of all that once was and all that can’t be. ~ But change will come when you least expect And so it is with healing’s growth With subtle tones your soul will be filled As glimmers of hope displace the gloom. ~ For if you allow the dawn’s gentle rays To open windows in the heart of your soul A breath of fresh joy will encompass you Bringing its light on the wings of hope. ~ Then throw open wide shutters of despair And let the Son cover you with His peace Listen to His voice bring soothing comfort Drawing you near in His arms of love. ~ May your heart hear the birds sweetly sing And may your soul see the Light of the world As grateful song brings praise to His name, For He has wrought this journey to joy. ~~
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