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Linda Roorda

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  1. Thank you so much, Ann...
  2. The old red barn stood tall on an open flat, alone against the gray sky, testament to a long life. It had weathered countless storms, looking just a bit worn… another great photo by my friend Kathy’s husband, Hugh Van Staalduinen. And once again, the picture painted a thousand words that raced through my thoughts. As we celebrate Father’s Day today, and my husband’s 70th birthday this coming Saturday, that barn seemed to be the perfect illustration of Ed’s character over the years. In fact, the day I saw the photo, and wrote this poem in a couple hours five years ago, I was waiting to bring him home from yet another hospitalization. Stalwart and steadfast, he’s remained standing no matter what life has sent his way… a true gentle giant. And like that barn, he’s faced many storms head on, never bending or collapsing as the winds attempted to shake his foundation. He’s remained firm with his faith in the Lord, resting secure in God’s provision and love, a pillar of strength for all of our family. Yet, it hasn’t been easy. There have been some serious storms that sent waves crashing against him… and against us as a couple. Despite some plain old-fashioned trials, dashed hopes causing great disappointments, the loss of a daughter, and his losses of sight, physical strength and ability, he’s overcome those trials with an inner strength and peace that comes from his faith in the Lord. And now, facing a continued ebbing of strength and ability with the progression of permanent muscle damage caused by statin/cholesterol drugs, and worsening congestive heart failure, we’ve begun discussing what we should do when he can no longer function and get around on his own. In all honesty, we don’t know what our options will be in the not-so-distant future. We’re facing new frontiers. Still, through each difficulty, his and our faith has grown stronger, for we’ve learned “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens [us]” (Philippians 4:13) As I’ve said many times before, James 1:2-4 puts it so well, even though we don’t want to welcome another difficult challenge. “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” Being “strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10-13) is the foundation on which we survive great storms and come out standing. (Proverbs 10:25) … Just like that barn in Hugh’s photo. If we have a good foundation on the solid rock (Godly wisdom), weathered by time (experience), the structure (our character) will stand tall… and prove stalwart and unwavering. The Stalwart Linda A. Roorda Stalwart and stoic through the test of time Facing the world to weather life’s storms Meeting head on whatever befalls Humbly proclaiming, steadfast I stand. ~ Bringing together nature’s harmony Weathered and worn, reliably true Dependably there to meet others’ needs Asking for nothing but structural care. ~ Like the pioneers who settled this land And carved their place from wilderness wild, Weathered by nature midst elements raw They kept life sheltered from all threats and harm. ~ Without proper care, wood planks become warped Foundations fail without wisdom’s base. Oh, can’t you see! The meaning is clear! How like old barns are patriarchs wise. ~ Learning through hardship true wisdom is gained Taking a stand for what matters most, Sometimes enduring alone in the crowd Serene and secure midst turmoil and storm. ~ God bless the stalwart, unwavering friend Who braves the path no matter the storm. Of foe unafraid, on wisdom standing Steadfast and loyal with comforting peace. ~~
  3. June is a month to celebrate not only Father’s Day, but National Children’s Day on the second Sunday. Children are such a rich blessing … a gift from God, a miracle of life! Each one is uniquely endowed with a personality and set of talents established by their Creator. What parent doesn’t perceive soon after each child is born how different he or she is from a sibling? Their unique and individual beauty shines through as we lovingly help guide them in following the path of their God-given gifts. I’m reminded of the verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV) There are different interpretations of Solomon’s wise words; but, for me, it means to work with (to train) each child according to their unique inclinations, tendencies, and abilities. Our three children were clearly different. Raised as best we could the same, their unique personalities, likes and dislikes, tendencies, etc. began emerging fairly soon after arriving. And encouraging their differences helped direct their lives in the way they should go… It did not take long to see who enjoyed being in the barn with their Dad at chore time, and who wasn’t fond of the barn and its smells. One daughter, like her Mom, loved to be in the barn; the other daughter tolerated it, but preferred not to be there. But, our son took to the barn like a duck to water. You couldn’t keep him away, quite like his Dad… and Mom! Likewise, when our daughters were given toy tractors, they really weren’t interested. Just give me a doll, please! Yet, when our son came along, he naturally took to pushing the tractors and trucks around as soon as he was physically capable, along with making “Vroom! Vroom!” sounds. No one ever taught him to do that! He was very happy to acquire a full assortment of tractors and farm equipment to operate his own farm with a big barn built by his maternal great-grandfather. And now our grandchildren enjoy playing with the barn, animals and equipment. Given a homemade Cabbage Patch type boy doll for Christmas one year, I had to chuckle to see our toddler son as he flopped it around to change the clothes, or as he carried it head down, and would gently correct him - while our daughters were so tender and gentle with their dolls right from the start. But, trust me, that was not indicative of how tender and gentle our son has been in caring for his own son and daughter! It is equally a pleasure to watch our daughter as she cares for her three sons. Beyond the days of childhood though, to watch them shine with their unique personalities and gifts, has been so rewarding! To even be blessed with children has also given many rewards to us as parents. There was a time, after two miscarriages, when I feared we would never have children. And my heart goes out to those who have also lost children, like the loss of our oldest daughter at 25 years, or have not been able to have the family they desire. Being blessed with our three precious little ones, it was a joy to watch them mature into the wonderful adults they have become, as they married, and now bless us with grandchildren. The roles have come full circle. We who were once infants ourselves have grown up, matured, raised our own families, matured some more as we grew with our children’s experiences, and now get to relax and enjoy our precious “Grands” while our children repeat the age-old process. I also once feared the empty nest years. How would I ever manage without my children around? After our oldest daughter had gone to college, her siblings spent a weekend visiting her. When they came home, I had to admit to Jenn that I actually enjoyed having some time to pursue my own interests. I said, “Ya know… I think I could get used to having an empty nest…” And Jenn just smiled that knowing smile of hers. But, oh, the joys of having watched them fledge to successful lives of their own! My husband and I have acquired a renewed time for ourselves, time to cherish each other again beyond the busy activities of children in the house. I delved into hobbies I had once pursued but put on the back burner to raise my family, reclaiming talents God blessed me with. It all reminds me of our first experience watching bluebird nestlings as they fledged years ago. Little Bird just couldn’t get enough lift under his wings and landed in the grass while his siblings flew up to our roof. Mama called to encourage him, fed him, and stayed with him. Having to leave for church, we returned a few hours later to find they were both gone. I will always believe Little Bird learned to fly despite my husband’s teasing that the cat got him! Several years ago, I finally found time to write and illustrate this into a story for my grandchildren. And that’s what it’s all about – lessons in a never-ending circle of life. So now we’ve been blessed with a renewed sense of purpose, a new role as Gramps and Grammy to our five young Grands… to be there for them as they grow up... to help them as they strive to reach their full potential… as they become the blessings to others God intends for them to be. The Blessing of Children Linda A. Roorda Each child’s a blessing, a gift from above A precious bundle to love and to hold. The wonder of life with joy unfolding Like a blooming rose which opens to sun. Tiny perfection created by God Pure love at first sight, new life to behold Dependent for care, nurturing cuddles, Looking for parents to guide and protect. From infant in arms to busy teen years Each day awakens with much to be learned. Deep roots must be grown, foundation to build With dreams given wings in learning to fly. Yet one day soon the time will have come The nest will empty, the house will be still. But this is not all, life holds so much more For blessings of God do not have an end. When nestlings have fledged, relationships change Each busy seeking new roles to fulfill, New needs to be met, new missions to serve Each having purpose, established within. And as the years flow more changes ensue Grandchildren arrive with outpouring of love, New meaning to life, usefulness restored The empty nester has purpose renewed. ~
  4. Idols - we all have them... we just may not realize it. Idols are anything or anyone which takes precedence over our relationship with God. And yes, I have them, too. We tend to see the obvious idols in the "things" we clutch closely... especially that which we enjoy doing or collecting - like our hobbies, collectable antiques, our "toys,” and even people. They fill a void within us and give us an emotional high… for a while. None of these are evil in and of themselves, but it’s where and how we put the emphasis on them that makes the difference. An idol can also be to whom or where we run when we’re dealing with a problem, rather than turning first to our Lord in prayer. How often don't we fret and worry, feel sorry for ourselves, and take our pain or loss to nurture it and feed it with a selfish pity party. Once again, I've been there and stand guilty. Coddling our idols is also an easy trap to fall into. We want what we deserve, and we deserve the best! Or so we think… But that philosophy is misguided, for there is only One who deserves our best. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV) And I admit I am not able to unequivocally meet these godly expectations. After writing this poem in 2015, and editing it, I re-read it in its entirety … and nearly burst into tears… for many reasons. First, because the words touched my heart deeply for their depth of truth. I firmly believe God gives me the words, and each poem is a moving emotional experience while writing, though some more so than others. And second, I wondered why the words for a happy, joyful, praise-filled poem wasn’t coming to mind. Why did the words that flowed from my brain and out through my fingers once again contemplate our sin? As I verbalized these thoughts to my husband, Ed, he said, “But your poem is the story of our lives. We are sinners, and God does take us from rags to glory. And that really is something to be writing praises about!” It’s often felt or said that Christians talk too much about sin. Yet, knowing that the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:23 that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, it is then we begin to understand that acknowledging we really do sin in so many ways is key. For in that understanding, it’s also reassuring to know that when we go to God and “…confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9). What a blessing to trust in a faithful Lord who isn’t offended by our wayward feet. He simply loves us deeply while drawing us back to Himself… no matter our sins, our tattered rags… as He washes us clean! From Rags to Glory Linda A. Roorda When someday I stand before You, my Lord What will You see of my earthly life? Will You see rags, the tatters of sin Or will I be cleansed, washed pure by the Lamb? Yet for a while we proudly proclaim My will! My way! The cry of our hearts. We live a life in defense of self To gain the best this world can offer. A sense of pleasure in idols we make To soothe our hurts and meet our desires. But what we crave in comforts and perks Cannot appease the soul’s deepest need. Then what will fill this void in my soul? What could ever control all my steps? Could it be true that Your word speaks clear To guide and direct feet that stray from You? Help me to leave the past behind, Help me to walk with You at my side. Guide all my thoughts, my words and my deeds Create in me a heart of pure love. For there is nothing I could ever do That Your greatest gift won’t cover with peace As long as humbly I seek you in faith And with contrition gain mercy and grace. As You draw me near with welcoming arms To embrace Your child with a love divine I see the filth of sin’s tattered rags Fall gently away for a gleaming white robe. ~~
  5. I’ve read books or stories from virtually every war in which men and women of our nation, including my immediate family, relatives and ancestors, have been involved. Their sacrifices have deeply touched my heart as I live a life of freedom, a blessing either limited or unknown to so many elsewhere in this world. Yet, both of our families have not known a loss of life in war during this past century. A few years ago, friends of ours shared some treasured family papers with me before the reign of Covid-19 when friends could freely visit. Several boxes of treasures were given to this friend by a relative, mementoes she never knew her mother had kept. They included old photographs and newspaper clippings. What especially touched her heart were family photos and letters, especially from one of her brothers who had died in World War II. Her mother had saved numerous clippings of the war from a local Binghamton newspaper. Here were reports of a war’s ups and downs, of the efforts of battle-worn troops, of men who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and of soldiers who returned home safely. Also included were touching news reports by Ernie Pyle, a reporter embedded with troops in the European theater and later in the South Pacific. Pyle was a beloved reporter in the U.S. and abroad. He had a way with words, evoking an empathy from his readers for the servicemen he wrote about. A reporter who opened his readers’ eyes, he put a personal touch to the effects of war, and to the emotions of hard-won battles for freedom’s sake. I remember him well… no, I did not grow up during the war, but had purchased and read his book, “Brave Men,” as a teen. Perusing my friend’s papers, I knew I had to take Pyle’s book down off my bookshelf and refresh my memory. Continuing to read through the newspaper clippings, thoughts and emotions swirled around and the poem below began taking shape. I have always been grateful to those men and women who have joined the military to protect our freedoms and to gain the same for the oppressed around the world. But to think about each one who has ever gone off to war, to remember them as their family knew and loved them so well… is to contemplate the little child who ran into the loving arms of parents with boundless energy, full of love and joy… the playing and learning he or she did under their wise and watchful eyes… the teen coming to terms with adolescent struggles… the young adult who emerged from military basic training with a new sense of purpose… the seasoned soldier whose loyalty to his or her unit proved a perseverance, endurance and bravery they never knew they had… and the final tribute paid to one who gave his or her all that others might live… is to contemplate the heart and soul of each one who left behind a sweetheart or spouse, beloved parents and siblings, and even children… the one forever remembered for a life interrupted, of the greatest sacrifice made, and of the legacy now carried in the heart and soul of those who have grieved their loss. As we celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow, may this simple poem evoke in you a heart of thanks for all who have served and not returned home safely, paying the ultimate sacrifice in any war. Without a willingness to put their lives on the line for the sake of freedom, we would not be enjoying our “…land of the brave and home of the free.” Heroes of Yesterday Linda A. Roorda Where tyranny reigns evil’s at the helm As the young and free who know only peace With faces brave must enter the fray In the fight for rights we take for granted. ~ Responsibility trains boys into men With troop cohesion, a unit’s tight bond To honor and hold each life in their care For freedom’s defense and the rights of all. ~ Orders to battle and the hell of war The call to arms which tests the mettle For within each heart lies the chance to prove The value of truth to fail or succeed. ~ From red alert to general quarters Emotions run deep in calm before strife Of imminent fight and future yearnings Always thinking, “If I get through…alive…”* ~ The sounds of war above stealth and fear The zing of bullets and bombs that explode Challenges met, overcome with courage Proving capable the common valor. ~ Back home they reflect, living fear and dread Loved ones waiting for word from afar A card or letter received with relief Until the knock comes when time stands still. ~ The letters home that ceased too soon As horrors of war burn deep in the soul Who’ll be the judge at the end of combat What the heart ponders to serve and protect… ~ To gain advantage with success for peace To hold these truths that all may live free To lift the spirit and rebuild from loss As we remember peace has a cost. ~~ *”Brave Men,” Ernie Pyle, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1944, p.5
  6. Spent some time yesterday with a friend at our mutual friend's "TNT Greenhouse" in Bradford, NY. Brought home flowers for a large pot to set on our front steps and to fill a hanging basket on the back deck. I’ve also watched Mama Robin build a nest in an empty birdfeeder on our deck, now setting on 3 little blue eggs, with hummingbirds and orioles returning to their respective feeders. And, tho my Juneberry bush, daffodils and tulips are done blooming, the lilacs began blooming this week as trees have fully opened their leaves to the sun … reminding us once again … it’s spring! Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation all around you! Ahhh, spring! My favorite season! And hasn’t it been looking beautiful outside? I love to see the signs of new life emerging slowly, almost imperceptibly, after earth’s long wintry sleep. To smell the fresh earthy aroma that follows a gentle spring rain is so refreshing, to see the grass almost immediately turning from shades of crisp tan and brown and dingy green to rich verdant greens, and to watch the daintiest leaf or flower bud begin to emerge… these all bring joy to my heart. With a bright sun’s nourishing warmth, those leaf buds soon swell and burst open, bringing many more shades of green to life. Then, as flowers burst open to brighten the landscape, it’s as though all of creation rejoices with an endless bounty of color. “For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12) I’ve often thought about the joy and pleasure it must have given our God as He created every aspect of this world, every plant and creature… each uniquely designed! After His work of creating separate aspects of this world each day of the week, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31 NIV) Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have been a witness as this marvelous creation came to be? I’ve also imagined that the first week of creation was spring with vivid colors bursting forth in blooms from every kind of plant and flower imaginable! An amazing palette of color! When God created man and woman in His image to tend and care for the beautiful Garden of Eden, ultimately to be caretakers of the new world at large… they were each uniquely created and loved by God… just as we are in our own time. And to know that all this beauty was created for our pleasure, to treasure and nourish… what an awesome responsibility and beautiful gift we were given! Enjoy the beauty of spring in all its glory as it bursts forth anew to revive and color our every-day world with exhilarating joy! Colors of Spring Linda A. Roorda From brilliant yellow of forsythia arched To burgundy red on trees standing tall The colors of spring emerge in great beauty To brighten our days from winter’s dark sleep. From shades of chartreuse as leaf buds burst forth To pink and white flowers in cloud-like halos Hovering on branches in glowing full bloom Swaying above carpets of undulating green. From rich azure sky with puffs of white-gray To pale blue horizon at forested hills With sun-streaked rays like fingers of God To lengthening shadows as light slowly fades. From velvet black night as moon rises full To glittering diamonds twinkling bright Up over hills on their path through the sky Gliding above trees with limbs reaching out. From earth’s colorful palette awakening clear To the crisp and bold and shades of pastels Shimmering and dancing to brighten our day Created by God, our pleasure to behold. ~~
  7. So I went and read the rest of the above news article, and three of her stories including "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut" - hilarious!! Great sense of humor...!
  8. Today, I’d like to share something close to my heart. Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month is May 15 to June 15, with the annual Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day on June 12, 2022. Tourette Syndrome was named for a French neurologist, Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, 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, and where his family lived. It was an extremely emotional, disruptive time in my life to leave behind my close friends and the country life I loved. I’ve always believed it was that stress which precipitated my tics, but now understand there is a genetic component, though I have no idea who had it in an older generation. Most of my life I’ve been embarrassed and ashamed to admit I have 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 recognized as readily. 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. I’ve called the tics my “habit”, but never had a diagnosis until reading a letter in either Dear Abby or Ann Landers’ column in my early-20s. Diagnosing myself from the 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 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 - only somewhat. But, I’m also thankful they are considered “simple” tics. Just as I’ve been ashamed of my movements, so my husband was ashamed of being legally blind growing up. 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… with too often 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 each see ourselves for who we truly are - uniquely created in the image of God. Last year, subbing with 5th graders, I was surprised one day to be asked by a student if I had 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?” As kids do, they apparently talked amongst themselves and others began asking me questions. This led to their teacher setting aside time for me to share what I knew about living with Tourette’s and answering their many questions. It was an informative session, endearing these students to me for their kindness and lack of mocking or belittling – 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. The tics wax and wane, change muscle groups at whim, and become much 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 30 years ago, I was officially diagnosed by a neurologist and prescribed medication. Unfortunately, even at the smallest dose, and taking half a pill, the dopey side effect for me was 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 (undiagnosed in 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 and has overcome it, 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. More often than not, as we go through the trials of life, that’s when we learn how to trust and rely on the Lord the best. For He 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’s as unique as we each are 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
  9. The tomboy that I was growing up, especially in my teens, working and learning beside my Dad, prepared me for later becoming a farmer’s wife. After all, the love of farming is in the blood of both my parents! Yet we women fill so many different roles. Not all of us are wives and mothers. Some of us remain single. Some of us are meant to pursue life-time careers. Some of us work to support our family, when we would prefer to be at home raising our children. Often, our likes and dislikes, and even careers, change throughout our lifetime. Typically, we women are great multi-taskers, but I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad! We come from different walks in life, and we’re very different from each other in feelings, perspectives, and opinions. I’ve had several “big sister” or “surrogate mothers” in my lifetime who added a special dimension to my maturing and learning - my Dad’s mother, Grammy, with whom I wrote letters virtually every week for decades from my teens on, there to help raise me as an infant and toddler, and then there with an ear and advice as I raised my own children; my cousin Howard’s wife, Carol, like a big sister to me and whose four children my sister and I babysat for during their weekend auctions in our teens, and with whom I continue to keep in touch as we share our hearts; and his brother Robert’s wife, Virginia, who was briefly my hunting partner in my teens, who also taught me how to cook certain meals when I lived with their family while working in Ithaca several months before my marriage to Ed, learning to make homemade spaghetti sauce and a down-home delicious goulash, both a favorite on our own supper menu. I remember my Mom for many things… as I grew up, she was a traditional housewife, taking care of the home and growing a large garden. She continued her mother’s example by canning and freezing the produce every summer except the years we lived in Clifton, NJ. When we butchered chickens, Dad put them on the chopping block, we sisters were the “dunk-and-pluck” crew, while Mom knew how to properly dress them for the freezer, showing us one hen’s set of graduated eggs sans shells from large to very small! She was quiet and reserved, did not share much, if anything, about herself or her family as I grew up, but she had a strong faith in God. She loved the country/farm life, as I do. And she knew how to cook up the squirrel I shot, or all game and fish my Dad brought home, very deliciously! A few things she shared included making fully homemade custard ice cream (no pre-made mix, as we kids clamored for a turn at hand cranking), bottling homemade root beer, and heating up the best hot cocoa with real cocoa powder, sugar and milk on the stove. She also made a Dutch barley soup with buttermilk and brown sugar that I loved, as well as the most delicious cream puffs in the world using our duck eggs. She could sew, but it was not her favorite. She taught me to iron our clothes and Dad’s handkerchiefs before permanent press fabrics hit the market. I loved her homemade bread and made some a few times after I was married, but it was more work than I really liked. As a kid, I savored her delicious toasted Velveeta cheese sandwiches with her homemade dill pickle slices tucked between slices of her homemade bread – long before Vlasic ever thought of selling bottled dill pickle slices for that very purpose! My sister and I did a lot of the bean and pea picking, snapping and shelling. Though we tossed some of those veggies as youngsters when we were tired of our chore, freshly picked and cooked peas remain my favorite. I loved visiting the farm my Mom grew up on, and later in life enjoyed hearing her tell stories of her younger days. She shared some of her wisdom, but typical of teens, I wasn’t always listening or accepting. I did not hear much of her childhood until I began researching and documenting her family’s genealogy decades after I got married. I treasure the time I drove her around her home town of Carlisle, NY, as she shared and pointed out places connected to her life, and wrote down her childhood stories. But, sadly, I have very few photos of her. My only desire had been to be a stay-at-home mother like my Mom, but circumstances beyond our control put me back into the workforce when my children were very young. Each of my secretarial jobs (beginning part time as a high school senior in an Owego law office), built the foundation and skills for the next job, preparing me for my final medical transcription career before retiring and changing direction once more - subbing for teachers and their TAs, jobs I love, “being there” for the students. But whether it’s being a mother or having a career, that’s not where all our satisfaction is found. It does our heart good to “be there” for someone else, whether to provide emotional support, bring a meal to a shut-in, or lend aid in other ways to someone in need… sometimes even if only to give an ear and a shoulder for their hurts. And that doesn’t begin to describe the love felt by the recipients of our gifts of love and time. But, doing good for others is not where we derive all our satisfaction either. For several years, a popular women’s Bible study has been the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” I like this passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV), written by Israel’s King Solomon who had achieved fame as the wisest man in the world. It speaks about a wife of noble character, and what she does to bring blessing to her husband and children, her family. She works to care and provide for the needs of her household. She buys and sells property and goods for a profit. She respects her husband and brings him good in all she does, whether at home, among her friends, or in the city at large. She speaks with a wise heart. She does not sit around in idleness; instead, she demonstrates strength and dignity in all situations. As I ponder this passage, I feel like it shows that I clearly don’t measure up. For I know all too well my own failings. Yet, there’s no reason why I cannot pursue change within. So, I shall seek that quiet time to study, meditate, pray, and listen to what the Lord has to say within my heart. It’s the Lord’s approval I seek… to guide my steps, to change my course, to cover me with forgiveness, peace and contentment, and to find satisfaction in doing what He expects of me even when it’s not the easiest path, nor the one I would choose. May you be blessed - whether or not you are called Mom - for all the love you share, and for all the time and effort you put into being there for those around you… Happy Mother’s Day! I Am A Woman Linda A. Roorda I am a woman. I am a mother. I’m a little girl, deep in my heart. I am emotions, raw and revealing. I am deep strength when life overwhelms. ~ I’ve carried love within my heart For family dear, and friends held close, For husband wise, light of my world And children young, growing their dreams. ~ I see the needs to be fulfilled. I reach to you, a life to touch. I shed a tear, and hold your hand To ease your pain, and bring a smile. ~ In quiet time, I seek Your will, Lord. A time to renew, to calm my fears, To savor sweet dreams, my hopes and plans As You care for me, and meet all my needs. ~ I fail at times to walk the path Yet You, oh Lord, are at my side. You pick me up each time I fall To gently remind, Your child I am. ~ I’ve harbored pain of losses that wound. I’ve weathered storms, battered and scarred. My weary soul with peace You fill, That I may praise and bless Your name. ~ I hear Your voice and will in Your Word, For wisdom I’ve gained upon this road Will lead me on to comfort and love Others in need with You at my side. Photo taken by my Dad of Mom, my sister and me in our one-room cabin in Delta Junction, Alaska while my Dad completed his Army service foreign assignment (before Alaskan statehood).
  10. Early April is typically the start of fishing season. And as a kid, I loved to go fishing with my Dad… not so much for how to catch “the big one” as simply spending time with my Dad. When I was about age 7 or 8, he had me, my sister and brother practice casting our lines with a lead weight (instead of a hook) into a 5-gallon bucket. Can’t say I hit the mark very often! I also remember fishing in the Erie Canal just west of Palmyra, New York. One time we even watched a boat being raised in the lock while we stood on the concrete edging… petrified I’d fall in and drown! After moving back to New Jersey near my Dad’s family, we fished in the large pond at Clifton’s Garret Mountain, Lake Hopatcong, and Upper Greenwood Lake in northern Jersey all where he’d fished as a youngster with his father. I never could bear to touch those squiggly worms, or put them on the hook, though my sister didn’t seem to mind so I left that nasty deed to her or Dad. I only managed to catch little fish, so was never even able to brag about catching “the big one!” And I could never manage to touch their slimy scaly bodies either! Ugh!!! Dad filleted them, and Mom cooked them up so scrumptiously! But there’s another aspect of fishing we don’t often think about. I remember a song we sang as kids in East Palmyra Christian School, enjoying the hand motions that went along it: “I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men. I will make you fishers of men, if you follow Me...” The words to this children’s song are taken directly from Jesus’ words to Peter and Andrew, two brothers who were fishing on the Sea of Galilee: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 NIV) Jesus called twelve men as His disciples, men from various backgrounds – Peter and Andrew (brothers, fishermen), John and James (brothers, fishermen), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (tax collector, a despised occupation), James, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Jesus and then hung himself), Matthias (who replaced Judas), and Paul whom Jesus met on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-22) Paul, a tentmaker, previously known as Saul, was a Jew who zealously killed many Christians before his conversion, thinking he was stopping the spread of heresy. Answering the call of God on that road, Paul became an Apostle, a fisher of men, and helped spread the Gospel far and wide, writing 13 New Testament books (or 14 books if he authored Hebrews). Jesus had taught the initial twelve for three years, giving the example of His holy life and words for them to follow. It was His mission to teach them the foundations of His love and truth, knowing that He would later send them out to reach others in His name… with His words and example for us to follow today. It makes us think a little deeper as we compare fishing gear and their function to that of fishing for the hearts of our friends. Letting others know Christ’s gift of love and forgiveness is our calling. For, in pondering Jesus’ words, we are reminded to fulfill Christ’s words in Matthew 28:19 to “…go and make disciples of all nations…,” and this poem began to take shape in my thoughts. Going Fishing Linda A. Roorda Walking along with pole in hand The peace of nature to soothe the soul With time to think and ponder life’s ways To ease the tension from busy schedules. With rod and reel slung over shoulder Whistling a tune that lifts the soul Down narrow path to water’s edge Dappled shadows splay out from the sun. Finding a spot along the shore To sit a spell and cast out my line The wiggling worms, bait for the fish On hooks to lure and tempt the big one. Standing on shore I cast out my line And patiently wait, watching the dobber Thinking of life, my family and friends Thoughts to ponder, and wisdom to gain. Did not our Lord say, “Come follow me, And I will make you fishers of men.” Allegory set in their working days From fishing nets to fishing for souls. The pole holds gear like Bibles the Word It’s the main support as Scripture to life Fishing depends on strength of the rod As life relies on God’s truth to lead. A reel is the heart which sends out the line Reaching others with love for their soul Extending a hand to draw from afar To carry their load, burdens to lighten. The line holds the lure of gospel truth Our faith walk shared, testament to grace With mercy gentle we lead them to Christ Who transforms hearts, redeems by His love. With hook we set the love of Jesus His death took our sin, from One who knew none For by his gift He purchased our souls That in His life salvation we find. A creel we need to hold new believers A welcoming church to warmly receive, To teach and guide for growth and change That they may know new life in the Lord. How like fishing is seeking lost souls To draw them close with love from our heart To help them see God’s truth from His word. So pick up your pole, let God make the catch! ~~ Photo Credit: My Mom took this on her old camera of me, my sister and Dad going fishing on a cold spring morning 1965, Lake Hopatcong, NJ
  11. 44 years ago today, a precious little girl named Jennifer Arleen was welcomed into our arms. I praise God that we were blessed to have her in our lives for 25 years… just as she blessed others around her. She was Miss Spencer 1993, Spencer-Van Etten Valedictorian 1996, graduating from Houghton College in 2000 with degrees in elementary education and psychology, earning her master’s as a school psychologist from Alfred University in 2003. She was good, gifted actually, in this field. Even in high school, friends sought her out for advice. We loved our three kids and tried to do a lot together – like going for walks, playing board games or outdoor games, watching our son’s baseball games as a family, stacking firewood together, eating supper together with time to talk about our day, and listening to classic rock and Christian contemporary music. But life is short. All too quickly our kids grow up and move on in life, leaving us to wonder where all those busy years went. Now I understand why older relatives would say to me as a child, “Don't wish to grow up so fast. You’ll get there soon enough.” They were right… time sneaks by all too quickly… and Jenn passed away on June 30, 2003 after an unexpected collapse two days earlier. When words cannot begin to speak… a mother's heart never forgets. How blessed we've been, and how blessed we are, with God's gift of our children, each especially precious and dear. It's a time to remember, not in sadness of heart, but joy for the blessing, of a life once lived, a gift of memories, a legacy of peace. I grieved, and grieved hard for a life well lived and well loved. But that time has passed, and I now celebrate the joy of remembering a beautiful life and all who were touched by her life and love. I miss Jenn, but praise God for the memories of her life well lived and love freely given as we take forward with us the joy from a precious gift. Jennifer was our firstborn, an answer to prayer after two miscarriages. She was born at 3:03 on Monday morning, April 24, 1978. And, I always remembered it snowed about two inches that morning, after having been in the 80s the week before! As excited as I was that we had our precious little one, I remember thinking after we brought Jennifer home – now what do I do? I had a baby to care for, and even though I’d shared the care of four younger brothers, and babysat every other day with my sister all thru high school for 4 kids next door, and for many others as a teen, this was different – this was my own baby, 24 hours a day! I carried her into our trailer and snuggled her into her bassinette, a precious little bundle. Like all new mothers, I learned day by day as she grew up. Jennifer took her time learning to talk. Maybe, being the first and only child for a while, her Mom knew just what she wanted so she really didn’t have to speak much. One night, looking out the window of the backroom door waiting for Ed to come home from the barn, I purposely did not pick Jenny up to see what she would do. Very clearly she said, “Pick…me…up.” Her first sentence! So, of course I picked her up! As she grew older, Jenny loved being by her Daddy in the barn, riding in the grain cart, “helping” to feed the cows and mixing up the calf replacer milk formula with her Daddy. And then along came Emily. Ed had knee surgery in late October 1980 for torn cartilage from squatting under the cows and tractors on the farm. The day after he came home, we went back to the hospital as he hobbled around on crutches. Emily had decided she was ready to arrive nine days early on Sunday, November 2nd. That was typical of Emily, ready to face the world and eager for the next adventure. Another beautiful little girl, with a lot of pretty black hair, though she’s definitely blonde now. Jenny was given a twin bed before Emily was born, which made her feel like a big girl! She loved her baby sister Emily dearly, and I think fancied she was “her” baby. She often climbed into the crib to sleep with Emily overnight. We now had two busy, growing toddlers to care for, good little girls who loved to play together and make their own fun. We built our house in the summer of 1982 while expecting Dan, and moved in on August 18th. Though active throughout the summer with the usual gardening, canning and freezing vegetables and fruit, the move took much more out of me than expected, and I was utterly exhausted. The girls loved all the steps in the house, and often played with their dolls or had a tea party there! The free space in the basement provided room to ride their tricycles around. In preparation for the new baby, Emi was moved from the crib into the bottom of a bunkbed – she was a big girl now! And Jennifer and Emily became big sisters to their brother, Daniel, on October 28th. Nearly two years later, our county Pennysaver held an art contest for the annual community brochure. It was to include something specific to Tioga County with a $50 prize. I entered the contest with the hope that, if I won, I could buy a swing set that I longed to give my children. God knew my heart’s desire and, amazingly, I won! I had not had time to refine my collage sketches of Tioga County life, but my kids got their first swing set! We enjoyed playing games, taking walks in the back fields or on the hill, played badminton, volleyball, card games, and board games; and, in the winter, snow forts and life-sized snowmen were made, with sledding down the slope behind our property. We invented a few games of our own – like floor hockey in the kitchen while waiting for supper to cook. We used a small ball and attempted to kick it with bare feet past the other person to score. The kids also played bowling in the hall by setting up empty 2-liter soda bottles, using a tennis ball or similar-sized ball to roll down the hall, knocking over as many bottles as possible. I sewed a lot when they were younger, making clothes for the kids, Ed and myself – shirts, pants, dresses, nightgowns, bathrobes, and even doll clothes. I loved playing with my little ones, even on my hands and knees on the floor or outside on the ground. Saturday evening was always homemade pizza night since we got married. The kids loved it, and as a teen Jenn made tapioca pudding with layered blueberries for dessert - a delicious way to top off dinner! She loved to fuss over meals and make delicious treats, a natural at cooking like her Daddy’s Mom. Jenn also had a favorite joke, “Hollow Statue,” which she told with a terrific “old European” accent. One day, a very wealthy businessman decided to build a new home with the finest materials money could buy. As he discussed the house with the contractor, he told the man what he wanted. “Over here, I want a curved staircase, made of the best wood with fancy railings. Here, I want a beautiful fireplace, made with the finest marble you can find. And, over here, I want a ‘hollow statue.’” “Not a problem; we can do all of this,” said the contractor. “But, there’s one thing I don’t understand. You want a ‘hollow statue?’” “Oh yes; I want the very best ‘hollow statue.’” “Ok, that’s what we’ll do.” Not able to be around during the construction, the owner told the contractor that no expense should be spared for the best items. When the mansion was finally completed, the contractor showed the owner all of the fine details. “Oh, this is beautiful! It’s just what I wanted. It’s perfect! I like it very much!” exclaimed the owner. “But, wait… what’s this?” The contractor replied, “Why, that’s what you asked for – a hollow statue.” “No, no, no. That’s not what I want. You know – ‘Rrrring! Rrrring! Hollow! Statue?” I loved to hear her tell this story with an “old-world” accent and her graceful, feminine hand gestures. As we look back with 20/20 hindsight, we tend think of our loved ones who have left us as virtually perfect. I find myself doing that with Jenn, but I know she had her faults too. It was said by their band teacher that Jenn was a special person who was kind, loving, thoughtful and sweet. She was a quiet person, who never said a bad word about anyone. Jenn truly had a sweet, gentle spirit. She cared about others and gave of herself in helping them. She always had time to listen to her friends or family, to listen to those who sought her advice, or to those who just needed an ear. But… 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. Their dad was at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts, and I was grocery shopping with all three kids. As I turned around, Jenn was slowly taking 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, he would have charged her with shoplifting, I said. And, people who do that get sent 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 the county jail. I’m sure the message was received, and Jenn never attempted to steal anything again. Our children – each a unique individual, a most precious gift from God to be treasured and loved as we guide them on their journey through life. My late friend and distant cousin, Mimi, shared a quote from her stitchery – “There are two lasting gifts we can give to 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. Song of the Soul For Jenn Linda A. Roorda Music expresses the song of the soul, From out the depth of pain and despair, To upward heights of love and joy… When words cannot express, music brings forth its lilting song to comfort and soothe with healing touch… Remember with me a tender time colored by loss and deepest grief yet filled with hope and contented peace… A peace beyond all understanding, in the flight Home of a precious soul to glory and joy beyond compare…
  12. Easter is always a special time of year. It reminds us that warmer weather is arriving after the long winter’s cold, and spring is beginning to show its colors! It’s a time of renewal as new plant life exemplifies rebirth by poking through the covering of a late snow, leaf buds begin to swell and emerge from their long winter’s sleep, and early flowers showcase their gorgeous colorful blooms. It’s a special time for children as they have fun decorating eggs, enjoy the search for hidden eggs to fill their baskets, and savor scrumptious chocolate treats and marshmallow peeps. I also remember a time, way too many years ago, when it was fashionable to buy a new spring dress and white bonnet for Easter service at church. When the Covid pandemic kept many of us from attending church, I drew Easter chalk art on our sidewalk to celebrate the joy of Resurrection Day. And I also admire the Polish/Ukrainian Pysanky a friend makes – gorgeous delicate painted artwork on eggs. But, there’s so much more to the meaning of Easter. Each year we are reminded again of all that took place about 2000 years ago. That precious little baby whose birth we celebrated just a few short months ago grew up with a purpose. As my husband’s niece, Rebecca, once said, “That God would become a man and understand our struggles on earth just blows my mind. [That’s] true humble love.” Yet, in contemplating God’s love, I sometimes find it hard to think of such unconditional love for me... After all, what about that little thing I did? Was it really wrong? Maybe I can just excuse it away. Will my family, my friends, or even God, forgive me for certain errors I’ve made? I know He has, as have friends to whom I’ve apologized over the years. How could God still love me when my temper flares… again…? What does He see in me? I can never measure up… Well, actually, none of us can. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God… “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 3:23) So, why would God care so much for me… for each of us? Because of one man, Jesus… That one man, perfect in all he did or said, willingly took my unworthiness, my shame, my heavy load of sin, and endured the penalty of the cross, just for my soul, is overwhelming. I cannot repay such a debt! Wait… I don’t have to? My debt is paid in full? Because Jesus gave His life that I might live, all I have to do is believe and accept His free gift? Jesus really loves us that much? Yes! That’s the grace and mercy of God’s love… it does not define and cancel us for our failures, but rather shows that we are each created unique by God, worthy of His love and forgiveness, redeemed through Christ from a life of sin. (Colossians 2:13-14) Now that’s unconditional love… as He blesses us with His wisdom, courage, compassion and peace. I am reminded of Johnny Hart’s “B.C.” cartoon column. He was a good friend of my husband’s Uncle Mart and Aunt Tilly and their family in Ninevah, NY, members of the same Presbyterian Church where Hart also taught Sunday School. How succinctly Hart put the thoughts of this holy week into perspective in his comic strip: “I hate the term, Good Friday.” “Why?” “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” “If you were going to be hanged on that day and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?” “Good.” “Have a nice day!” [Johnny Hart in B.C., 04/09/03] Which brings to mind a similar thought-provoking cartoon I had also saved years ago from “The Wizard of ID”, a joint venture written by Johnny Hart and Brant Parker, illustrated by Parker: Friar: “Happy Good Friday Sire!” To which the king grumbles: “What’s so good about it?” The friar replies: “It took an act of God, but they finally found somebody willing to die for you.” ...with the king left standing there speechless. [Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc.] But, after the brutality and agony of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, His friends are devastated. All their hopes and expectations for Jesus as the earthly king of the Jewish nation appear to be dashed. Yet, envision with me the beauty of an early morning sunrise. Birds are beginning to sing as the sun’s first rays appear. The dew has settled gently on the flowers in the garden as they open their buds to the sun’s warmth. According to Mark 16:1-5, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome quietly arrive at the tomb just after sunrise on the first day of the week. They carry spices with them to anoint their beloved friend and teacher, Jesus, who had died a horribly painful death on a cross… only to see in astonishment that the great stone has been rolled away from the entrance. Upon entering, they see the tomb is empty. Already sad, now they are also afraid. Suddenly, two men stand before them in brilliant light. Knowing their fear, an angel speaks gently to reassure them. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples…” (Matthew 28:5-6) Trembling and bewildered, the women run from the tomb. Despite their confusion and fear they run to tell the disciples. Peter and John arrive after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report, look into the empty tomb, and also see only the burial cloths which lay neatly in place. (John 20:3-8) They wondered and believed. As the others return to their homes, Mary Magdalene stays at the empty tomb, crying, missing her Lord. As a man she presumed to be the gardener speaks to her, she asks where he put him. On hearing the man speak her name, “Mary,” she recognizes him as her dear friend, Jesus, and calls out, “Rabboni!” (Teacher). After their conversation, Mary hurries to share the good news with the disciples that she “has seen the Lord!” (John 20:10-18) Jesus truly is alive! And to think that with a simple child-like faith in Jesus who willingly gave His life for me… for each of us… He will live in our hearts now and for eternity. As John 3:16 reminds us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” What pain there is to realize that I fall short of His tender love every day. But what joy in humbling myself to recognize and confess my sins, and to ask for forgiveness for the errors of my ways from those around me and from my Lord, and then to feel the forgiveness… as the Lord’s love and peace with mercy and grace surround my soul. That’s what Easter is all about… God’s great love! Hallelujah!! Christ is risen!! What a Savior!! Besides… I love you! Linda A. Roorda Who am I? My soul doth ask. What am I worth? And to whom? I see only failure as I take the reins And do not give my Lord the lead. ~ How can you love the me who I am When all I see are my struggles? Yet, Lord, You do love even me In ways that I cannot comprehend. ~ To sight unseen You guide my path Ever at my side, gently calling. And as you wrap loving arms around You cover my soul with tender mercies. ~ For You opened wide Your arms on a cross Giving Your life that I might live, And in return You ask for my love With all my heart, my soul and my mind. ~ But you didn’t stay within that tomb For on day three You rose from the dead. Seen by many, in the hearts of more, Eternity waits Your Gift of Love. ~ Where once I felt the crashing waves That overwhelm and burden my soul, Now peace and joy have filled my heart With love to share for those on my path. ~ Your presence surrounds me with Your peace As You offer grace to light my way, And then I hear You whisper soft Besides… I love you! ~ A Happy and Blessed Easter to all! ~~
  13. Agreed! and that's why I'll do a pick-up-trash day when I'm able to take walks up my road for a bit, limited with worsening sciatica. The littering is just unreal - not only along the edge of the golf course, but also along and into the farmers' crop fields here and elsewhere. Folks don't know about cows getting what's called "hardware" - when they ingest metal or maybe plastic, it gets caught in their throat or one of four stomachs, can't be processed, aggravates and causes them to "go off feed". They can't eat or drink, lose weight, and end up being shipped to market. We lost several good cows because of that very problem when my husband farmed with his Dad... even tho we picked up trash along the roadside then too, some gets missed and gets into the silage. Roadside trash is a dirty blight on the eye, but a nasty problem for farm animals.
  14. 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 pursued, 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 it has been more often than not an equitable and viable 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 the 12 jurors of peers to discuss the 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 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 very 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, admit 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 whipped, mocked, and nailed to a cross… not for anything He had done. He was sinless, faultless, perfect. Yet, 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 brings me to tears. Someday I will stand before Almighty God, my judge, to give an account of my life, and I will have nothing to say in my defense… except that my advocate, Jesus, will be standing at my side, declaring me guiltless because He already paid for my sins… with His own life. 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 Regret now for words 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 maybe some good done 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 the mountain of debt. Just then the doors were flung open wide And striding forth came a man in white robe 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. ~~
  15. Beauty – we all admire the aesthetic and beautiful in both people and nature, though beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say. Often, as our young girls strive to look beautiful, they imitate the actresses and models they admire on the “silver screen” or magazine covers. But youthfulness fails to realize the images are a façade, made more beautiful and glamorous by makeup and the air brush. It’s not a true beauty. And a pretty face may not always have a heart of love. For “…man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7b) So then, what is beauty? And how do we define it? There’s an old-fashioned philosophy which I believe still holds true today. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as [elaborate hairstyles] and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (I Peter 3:3-4 NIV) With those words in mind, when we give of ourselves to benefit others, a depth of beauty is seen through the glow of an unselfish act, and a genuine love for others. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) Living our life to please God reflects the unique inner beauty He blessed each of us with. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers’ womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) We show the beauty of true character by reaching out to help those in need, especially those who cannot pay us back for such a free gift. Beauty is in a heart of humility, serving others with grace and gentle kindness. Beauty shines brightly when we don’t call attention to ourselves… as we quietly go about living a life of peace by showing honor and respect to all we meet on our path. And you know what has touched someone with the beauty of your heart… Yet, the question must be asked… then what is the opposite of love’s beauty? The generous airs or charms put on to cover that which has been defiled… to disguise a selfish attitude of pride filled with self-centeredness and greed. Which brings us back to our question, what is beauty? Smiles to brighten someone’s day. A helping hand serving those in need. Sharing truth with humility. Generous acts of kindness strewn among friends and strangers. An unfading gentle spirit of love and peace found within the selfless heart. Among these and more we find true beauty… What is Beauty? Linda A. Roorda What is beauty if the heart is shallow What is glamor when rudeness takes charge And what is charm with selfish desire… For what is love but the giving of self? ~ What then are words when the mind deceives What is character with rebellious soul Why enticing lures to captivate hearts… For what is virtue but integrity’s truth? ~ What is kindness if the tongue reviles And what is honor without reputation Or the humble soul if boastful and proud… For what is grace but gentle elegance? ~ What is adornment when respect has fled What are principles if deceit is the core What is esteem when self is worth more… For what is honor but morality’s judge? ~ What then is beauty but innocence pure The charm and grace of respectful repute Humility’s stance with integrity’s honor… For what is beauty but the gift of self? ~~
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