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Linda Roorda

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  1. Linda Roorda

    Hope...

    “You have cancer.” Among the scariest words we can hear. I was in shock. My mind was racing. Tears began to trickle down my cheeks. I was both numb and yet devastated emotionally. It caught me totally off guard. Me? Cancer? I could not think clearly. My heart was pounding. I was in panic mode. This cannot be happening! I have so much to do to take care of my husband. I don’t have time for this interruption in my life! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Diagnosed in 2014, I remain cancer free. Because a grieving process is normal when diagnosed, I share my story annually in the hope it helps encourage even one woman to make sure she does her own self breast exams and schedules a mammogram, preventing or finding breast cancer early for a good outcome. And, if facing her own diagnosis, may she know there is a lot of support available. I am so thankful for the support of my cancer team nurse, and surgeon who, on seeing me in the pre-op area for Ed’s surgery two weeks before my own surgery, simply put his arm around my shoulder briefly to offer that silent voice of compassion. My story was also shared in the past on the Christian Reformed Church Network website, and my cousin’s wife Carol submitted it to the Bradford Co., PA “Daily Review” who published it in October 2021 – all to remind others how important those exams are, because… I had actually intended to cancel my mammogram. There was too much on my plate and I simply didn’t want to take the time to go for this exam in my already hectic schedule. But, my husband (God bless him!) told me to take care of myself for once, and go get that mammogram. Dutifully, and now thankfully, I listened to him. I could not have my husband with me when I was given the results of my biopsy - he was home with his own health issues, particularly severe constant dizziness when upright, along with extensive muscle and joint pain, recovering from life-threatening pancreatitis, multitudinous medical appointments, treatments, even surgery sandwiched between my biopsies and surgery, and he had not been able to work for several months. Being blind, he cannot drive me to and from my appointments. He can’t be with me to give his emotional support at my appointments, or even be with me at my surgeries. He can’t be there to help ask questions, or simply put his strong arm of support around me… until I get home and share my fears with him. And he’s been so good to me, so loving and supportive, sharing his Godly wisdom to help calm and soothe my anxious thoughts. God blessed me with the best husband I could possibly have! But, I’m afraid. I don’t know what lies ahead. Will I get more cancer? How will I take care of my husband and everything else if I’m incapacitated? I don’t want to deal with all that I’m being forced to deal with. I want to be left alone. I want to be a little girl again without any cares or troubles. But that’s not reality. Reality means I will seek answers. And so, as a medical/radiology transcriptionist, I research my diagnosis. I read the literature from my surgeon’s office, and devour the words which reputable online medical centers or cancer associations have posted to discuss the disease and the best treatment options available. Objectively, I understand what they’re talking about… I know what the words mean. But, deep down inside, I don’t want to digest it. I’m overwhelmed. I want to push it all away. It’s become too personal. Yet, I have decisions to make. Decisions I never thought I’d be making. I’m more comfortable being on the typing end of the diagnostic language, feeling sorry for “my” patients. Knowing that others have gone through this diagnosis and treatment before, and survived, is both helpful and unhelpful… mostly because each diagnosis and the dealing and healing is personal. No one else can go through, or feel, exactly what you do. I talk with my husband’s aunt who faced her own cancer diagnosis several years ago. She made her decisions, and did what needed to be done. I like her attitude. She is a true woman of faith, an inspiration to me as she looks to our Lord for his guidance every step of the way. And gradually, after making panicked decisions, then rethinking and picking each option apart, I come to a decision I can live with. A decision my family and closest friends support me in. And I’m okay… being reassured to know my cancer has been caught at an early stage. For there are others I’ve known with a cancer diagnosis and prognosis worse than mine – those who have recovered after surgery and treatments and done well, those who have been through extensive treatments only to relapse, and those who have lost their lives from such a devastating disease… And my heart goes out to every cancer patient and their families for all they have gone through. This poem was written in three sections at three different times after my diagnosis. I was amazed at how the words seemed to flow with only minor adjustments. But then, I shouldn’t be amazed at a God who has held my whole life in His hands. And I praise the God who blesses me with the words and thoughts to write. And, while contemplating it all, this favorite verse of my late daughter, Jennifer, came to mind. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I had embroidered it in a floral design to hang on the wall when she went to Houghton College, also making embroideries for my other two children, Emily and Dan, with their favorite verses. I also found reassurance in “…know[ing] that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...” (Romans 8:28) While reading around this verse, I see, “…hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:24-27) Even as I face my diagnosis head on, not knowing what to do or if I’m making the right decisions, God is there. He answers my heart’s prayers, which I initially didn’t even know how to express other than “Help me, God!” Then, as I read Romans 15:13, these comforting words enter my soul with more meaning than ever before, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Along this journey, I even found laughter… in, of all places, the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Cancer Book, 101 Stories of Courage, Support and Love.” [pp.156-158] It was the kind of hearty laughter that brought tears to my eyes… a rolling-on-the-floor kind of laughter! It may have been stifled for a while, but laughter is still within me. And soon, smiles will once again reflect the joy deep in my heart! So, I’m at peace. I find comfort in knowing God knew this obstacle on my journey before I even came to be. He knew I would struggle, but He also knew how He would continue to draw me to His side, providing loving, caring family and friends to support me who gladly filled in for Ed by being at my side in the hospital, and bringing meals to us. To know the extent of love, caring thoughts and prayers from family, friends and neighbors in our community is overwhelming. As I’ve grappled with life’s changes, I know the Lord has had to carry me at times, but He has also led me through the maze as I’ve slowly learned to accept and deal with what He has allowed to come my way. And I renew my hope in Him as He leads me forward. HOPE Linda A. Roorda When dark is the way and fear gathers ‘round When the road seems long with twists and turns The unexpected now comes into view Quite unprepared, my course it alters. The vista ahead fraught with fear and stress. How can this be? Can’t happen to me! How do I deal with changes to come? My plate is too full. I can’t handle more! Why, Lord? I ask. I don’t understand! As I plunge into the depths of despair. I’m at a loss. Why this obstacle? Why me? But then… Why should it not be? Some days I’m numb. Some days I just cry. With a loss of hope, and a heavy heart Many life changes I don’t want to face A grief ensues, a mourning what was. As sadness descends and stress consumes I want to cry. I want to scream out. I haven’t the time. I just cannot deal. Difficult questions now haunt all my thoughts. When darkness of night seems far too long And no answers come to pleading prayers Hold me tight Lord, in Your arms of peace That without fear a new day I may face. So I withdraw to an inner retreat My haven safe away from the pain A place where I rest to gather my fears Handing them over, releasing my frets. For there on the side just waiting for me With arms open wide He hears my deep sighs The cries of my heart, the fears locked inside Taking my burdens and guiding my steps. Who but you, Lord? Who else but you? Who cares enough to count every tear? Who feels the pain, the fear and anguish That steals the joy from within my heart? Hope like a beacon peeks brightly through tears With a peace that calms my troubled seas Always at my side with a whisper soft Drawing me near and holding me close. Though I’ve felt lost while clinging to faith You’re always here embracing with love Returning my joy to face each new dawn Giving me hope in the peace of Your Light. ~~
  2. Today, I’m celebrating the gift of my mother. Growing up, we heard very little about my Mom’s childhood years, though I loved visiting my relatives on The Farm, sleeping in the big feather bed with feather blankets and pillows, admiring all the antiques, waking up to the clinking milk cans being put on the truck to go to the creamery, walking through the barn and fields with cousins Sandy and Gary, eating my first bowl of Life cereal at their huge table, the kitchen with floor to ceiling cabinets from one end to the other, and playing inside the big farmhouse. This was a place I loved, of which I carry my own special memories. Enjoy this look back to my mother’s childhood, a time and place that emanates the images of “home. My mother, Reba, was born and raised on a farm in Carlisle, Schoharie County, NY at the corner of Cemetery Road with the house fronting Rt. 20, the Great Western Turnpike. Her parents were Leo Jacob and Laura Eliza (McNeill) Tillapaugh. As #11 of 12 kids, Reba grew up on a large dairy farm which included pigs and about 3000 chickens, with draft horses/black Shires doing the field work. They did okay during the Great Depression because their farm and large garden provided food for winter. Her parents drilled a well for running water after they’d been married about 20 years and had 10 kids, with two more to follow. I cannot imagine the work of running a home and farm, and a large family, without running water! Grandma T. cooked large meals every day, made delicious homemade bread in a kitchen woodstove oven, made scrumptious cookies (I remember her big tin of molasses cookies in the huge pantry from which she let us get our own cookies, after we asked her of course!), homemade ice cream, plus fed traveling crews at harvest time. She also found time to tat and embroider, raise a vegetable garden to can for winter, grew gorgeous flowers, visited the sick and shut-ins, and more. My mom remembers that the winters were much worse than they are today. “It seems like it got cold earlier in the fall than now. We would pick drop apples in the fall and have cider made. My mother kept a 20-gal. crock by the back door of the farmhouse. I remember coming home after school and running to that crock, breaking the ice, and drinking some of that tasty cider! My favorite black farm cat, Skippy, had 7 toes on his front feet; he’d stand on his hind feet, reach up and turn doorknobs with his front paws!! I attended the one-room schoolhouse, William Golding, which used a dry cell system for power like my dad did before electric was put in, and the school had an outhouse. My favorite teacher in the one-room schoolhouse was Miss Santora who went skiing in the fields with us kids! We had a big woodstove in the center of the schoolhouse, and when it was very cold we would sit around it to keep warm. I remember the temperature was -25 degrees one morning, but my father was not able to convince the principal to close school that day. Somehow, we got there, but then it closed at noon. My sister and I tried to walk home but it was hard to breathe in the bitter cold and wind, so we called my father to pick us up at the Brand Restaurant opposite the school. It was normal to get 2 feet of snow in storms or blizzards. The wind was so bad in big snowstorms you didn’t know which way you were going. I’m told that in the Oswego area, people tied a rope around their waist to keep from being lost. We didn’t think of that but we always made it. My father had a big wooden scoop pulled by the horses to clear snow out of the driveway. In 1943, my father bought a Massey-Harris tractor; later he had the steel lug wheels changed to rubber tires, and a plow was rigged on that tractor. We had an ice storm, I believe in February 1943, and light poles snapped like toothpicks. The town had an old Lynn Tractor and it was used to plow town roads; for state roads, they had big motorized trucks. I don’t know what they did to clear the roads before tractors and trucks were available, but I assume horses were used. I think it was in 1945 or 1947 when the snow came and the wind blew for three weeks, and we were out of school all that time! Drifts were so high and hard we could walk the horses on top. The workers broke all the snowplows in town, but the county had a snow blower which was used to open all the roads. I heard they had to keep the blower between the light pole wires as they could not tell where the road was. I don’t know how my dad and other farmers got their milk to the creamery then, but, again, I assume they used horses. Rt. 20 was the first to be kept open in snowstorms. My parents often put people up overnight when the road conditions became terrible. Before Rt. 20 was widened about 1941, the road was very slippery when raining and was icy in winter. One time a Greyhound bus went off the road and into the field off Rt. 20, south of our house. They used a bulldozer to pull it out of the field. A state trooper would ride a big Harley during the summer. When he arrested someone, my dad, as justice of the peace, would hold court downstairs; we would be in the room above the dining room, listening through a stovepipe hole! We had at least 3000 chickens in a building west of the main house and we kids helped to water and feed them. My mother candled dozens and dozens of eggs every Sunday evening for hours. The eggs were kept cool in the basement, being weighed, cleaned, candled, and crated by hand on Sunday night, with as many as 7 large crates of 30 dozen eggs going to the hatchery in Albany every Monday morning. My mother candled hundreds and hundreds of eggs to ensure a quality product was in those crates for the hatchery. We took milk to the creamery every day in traditional milk cans, and supplied wood to heat not only our house but the church and one-room school. We raised several pigs with my father holding a neighborhood butchering day on our farm. After the butchering was done, he cut up meat for the smokehouse, put some in crocks of salt brine, and made homemade sausage, etc. As gangs of local farmers traveled from farm to farm to help each other at harvest, my mother fed the crews when our farm was harvested. She had all her recipes tucked away in her head, and made the most delicious ice cream, hand cranked by us kids clamoring for a turn! She even shared beautiful flowers from her gardens with local shut-ins. About 1938 or 1939, Admiral Byrd’s snowmobile, the Snow Cruiser, was run up Rt. 20 on its way to Antarctica. As a child, age 5 or 6, I was afraid to go inside when it stopped near our farm on Rt.20. The rubber tires were not appropriate for use in the severe cold, and it was abandoned in Antarctica. There was an article and photo about it in the July/August 1996 “Reminisce” magazine, pp. 39-40.” My family made our own maple syrup and sold some, and still do that now. Back when I was little, my brothers would tap 300 maple trees for sap to be boiled down to syrup, so sugar rationing during World War II was not a problem for us. We trudged through deep snow in the woods each spring to help. My brothers also cut ice off the ponds in the winter, stacking and packing it in sawdust in the icehouse on the back side of the barn. Ice was cut from farm to farm the same way summer crops were harvested - by harvesting bees of many farmers working together. It doesn’t seem like ponds freeze over long enough or thick enough to do this now. That ice sure helped make my mother’s delicious ice cream – I think hers was the best at the ice cream socials! ~~ I, Linda, remember my mother Reba saying she and her next older sister Shirley, and youngest sister Lois, were in the 4-H with a lot of pins and awards. When fair time came, they got vegetables ready for show at the Cobleskill Fair, forcing mom into canning and freezing. Lois remembers we dug up all the veggies in the garden in order to display 'uniform' vegetables!!! Thinking back, Lois says, “she might have wanted to kill us, but it kept us grounded and out of trouble. Wouldn't trade it…!” My cousin Allan remembered our Aunt Lois trying to ride a heifer to their house as if it was a horse. OH THE GOOD OLD DAYS!!!!!!!! My Mom also shared that growing up in the Great Depression you made your own fun. She remembered her father had an old school bus, and the kids would go there go in there to play and sit and talk. At Christmas there was a very large family gathering at the long table. She helped walk the draft horses, black Shires, to pull the ropes which helped her brothers put the hay up into the mow. She and a few of the younger sibs took their Little Red Wagon out by the road to pick up the grass mown by the hi-way dept. They’d pile the wagon high, and pull it back to the barn. Mind you, this was in the days of real horsepower. So, imitating how their dad and older brothers put hay up into the mow with the huge hayforks on rope pulleys with the horses doing the work, she and her sibs took ice tongs and smaller ropes, slinging the rope up over the pipes above the cow stanchions. With kids on each side, the ice tongs held bits of hay as the kids on the other side lugged on the rope to pull the hay up and over, and down into the feeding trough for the cows! Now that’s imagination! Reminds me how I used to milk cows when I was 4-5. In the barn with my dad as he milked in Marion, NY, I stood on a bale of hay, moving an old teakettle along on the road-side wall ledge, I’d stop to “milk a cow” every few inches! My mother’s father was a jack-of-all trades, not just a farmer, but a man before his time. It was from him that I inherited green eyes. He built a top-quality registered Holstein herd with Canadian Holstein-Friesian bulls before most other farmers. I remember seeing the bulls as a kid in their pens as I peered between cracks in their wooden stalls. Besides a dairy herd and chickens, he raised pigs, and sold extra hay. He took community responsibility seriously as Carlisle town highway superintendent, Carlisle school superintendent, Justice of the Peace, and Cobleskill school board member and president. A highly respected man of the community was my Grandpa Leo, as well as Grandma Laura.
  3. Sitting in my East Garden yesterday, I absorbed the warm sunny rays while viewing the garden’s fading beauty, enjoying the colorful zinnias now more beautiful with recent cooler days and refreshing rain, gazing out beyond the garden proper to encompass the yard, our house, and the road beyond… listening to the golfers’ chatter and excited shouts of joy... spying birds flutter among the hidden branches above, hearing their gentle twitters – tuhweet, tuhweet… watching a gentle breeze stir the branches and leaves above me and beyond… remembering the many years that have passed us by, 40 to be exact, since we moved into our new house… thinking of all the good times and the difficult days that entered our lives… and so very thankful for the blessings of home and family. Like the tiny seed in my poem that was once upon a day planted with so much hope held within the task, to the joy it brings on seeing and touching the beauty in full array as it reaches its zenith… so it has been in our lives. Among blessings more than we take the time to count, our precious little ones have grown up from being nestled in our arms, absorbing our love and attention, building the foundation on which to stand while testing their wings, flying all too soon out into the great big world to find their own way… And that growth, that wisdom, which they eagerly absorbed into their hearts and minds, came into their lives as we parents tried to follow the wisdom from our creator, our Lord God above. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) It is He who has established and numbered our days. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16) It is God who has blessed us with our many talents and wisdom. James, the brother of Jesus, describes such wisdom from God as, "the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17) It is the same God who guides us as we seek our way along this life’s journey... though sometimes we take the reins until we recognize God’s greater wisdom is really the wiser portion, for “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Our pathway might be smooth or it may be rocky, strewn with one obstruction or hurdle after another… all part of what matures and teaches us, giving us a deeper understanding of life, empathy and insight to support others facing a similar storm… as we turn for peace and comfort in God lest we become arrogant, thinking we alone know best. King Solomon reminded us so long ago to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NIV) Or, as the King James Version says, …”and He shall direct thy paths.” But we so easily forget and take charge of those reins… only to realize later that we need to return to the true source of wisdom once again. Though Solomon wrote down his profoundly wise words centuries ago, granted to him by God through prayer on becoming king when his father died, he encourages us in our walk of life today. “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young -- let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance -- for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7) And thus we see how blessed we’ve been when looking back…acknowledging how God has led us all the days of our lives… guiding us when we didn’t even realize it… using the difficulties to teach us wisdom for the future… making our paths straight for His purpose… What an awesome God we serve!! Once Upon A Day 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 Patiently waiting its growth to begin. As the rains commenced and the sun shone warm The seed emerged from protective shell, And with firm foundation of sturdy roots Its tender leaves burst into the light. While storms blew fierce it held on firm Tightly gripping its feet in the soil Its tender stem and each tiny leaf Were gently swaying, dancing to the tune. Despite the tempest our plant stood tall It weathered the storm for its roots went deep Our plant knew its purpose, the unswerving truth And humbly displayed character unbent. And so with us as we arrive at birth Helpless and feeble, but eager to grow Nourished in love with foundation deep We mature to face the storms of life. Though we might break without firm support And may wander down destruction’s lane Yet often it’s from our mistakes that we learn The wisdom of God planted deep in our soul. ~~
  4. The words of this poem flew quickly from thoughts to paper several years ago, essentially as a prayer, asking the Lord to take me and use me… to guide me on the right path that I may bless others and not ignore a need… asking that He help me to remain faithful, to rely on His word to guide my life… With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of England this past Thursday (September 8, 2022) at age 96, I was surprised and pleased to hear how much she treasured her relationship with Jesus, her Lord… and how much she relied on Him and His wisdom to guide her during her reign of 70 years... an amazing monarch, beloved by so many, including us Americans across the Pond. I cannot imagine the strain she must have felt at a young age when her father became king following the abdication of his brother. She knew she would someday become queen. Yet, as she faced life during and after WWII, with its difficulties then and beyond, Elizabeth was not crushed in spirit. She had an inner strength, a sense of duty with old fashioned values of grace, elegance, and respect… a beloved “Grannie” to not only her family but others. Putting her faith and trust in God to lead her through the many storms of life, as queen she prayed that “God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.” (Christmas 1952 address) … “For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life,” she said in 2000. “I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.” In a similar vein, after writing my poem below, it reminded me of the old hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” another favorite from childhood. “Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee; take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love, at the impulse of Thy love.” Written in 1874 by Frances R. Havergal, this hymn began as her own prayer to the Lord that He would use her to reach others. Born in 1836 in England, Frances was a gifted child. She had learned to read before the age of 3, and was writing poetry by age 7. She was capable of memorizing lengthy sections of Scripture, knew several languages, and was a gifted pianist and singer. Unfortunately, her mother died when Frances was 11, leaving her with these parting words, “Fanny dear, pray God prepare you for all He is preparing for you.” And, with those words, her life-long prayer was to reach others with the love of God. We are pulled in so many directions every day. There is so much going on around us in life, while we keep all too busy in our own little world. Preoccupied with our own situations and needs, we often forget the needs of others… I know I do. As these words came to me, I realized that I need to ask the Lord to take charge of my life... to take my hand, my voice, my eyes, my ears, my feet… essentially all of me, that I would be open to seeing and meeting the needs of others while walking in His will, sharing His love. Take my hand, Lord… walk with me, and lead me on… Lord, Take My Hand Linda A. Roorda Lord, take my hand and walk with me Lead me on and show me the way And let me know You’re my companion You’ll never leave, You’ll always protect. ~ Lord, take my voice that I may yet speak Treasures of grace in praise of mercy, As I delight in Your wisdom’s depths May all my words reflect back to You. ~ Lord, take my eyes and bless my vision As I encounter those different from me May I now see the world through Your eyes That I may seek to reach out in love. ~ Lord, take my ears and grant I may hear The pleas for help, the cries from the heart May Your tender voice guide all my actions That with compassion others I may bless. ~ Lord, take my feet and guide all my steps Grant me wisdom on this path of life Keep my feet from straying aside Hold accountable the way that I take. ~ Lord, take my soul and cover with grace That I may rejoice in Your salvation, For the cleansing flood that washed over me Has created faith that trusts in You. ~ Lord, take my heart and fill me with joy Share with me Your endless love That I may then to others extend Your precious peace with bountiful praise. ~~
  5. With another school year beginning, I was reminded of my own school days a few many years ago. Thinking back to the start of the school season when my kids were young, brings me back to my own childhood. I attended Public School #15 for kindergarten in Clifton, NJ, and two small Christian schools for elementary - East Palmyra Christian School for 1st through half of 4th, and then Passaic Christian School for the second half of 4th through 6th grade. After my family moved back to Clifton, NJ from East Palmyra, NY when I was in fourth grade, there was a verse which was our prayer at the close of every school day during 5th and 6th grades at Passaic Christian School. Under Mrs. Marie (Rev. Dick, Sr.) Oostenink, we memorized many Scripture passages, including this prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, My strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 KJV) It was a prayer that had settled itself in my mind though, admittedly, I had not always valued its place in my life. Still, it has often come to my thoughts over the years, reminding me of the few years at that school and the friends I’d made. But it also reminds me that, just like we as youngsters need training and guidance, so do we as adults need reminders at times. We often hear of negatives spread by gossip. Maybe we tell half-truths or outright lies to make ourselves look better to others, think we can hide behind electronic gadgets while taunting, or allow our thoughts to travel beyond the appropriate. Owning my own frustrations when overwhelmed, I’ve spoken words in haste, words regretted, words apologized for. I could have found a better way to express myself, to affirm the right way to handle difficult situations with God’s loving words as guide. In apologizing and asking forgiveness from others, we also go to our Lord in confession, receiving forgiveness from Him. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, or where we’ve been. As we humble ourselves, He accepts our confession and guides us on our path forward… so that our words, our thoughts, and our actions will bless others and bring honor to Him. Because, when the words and meditations of our heart contemplate praise and thanksgiving, we bless someone who might be hurting… sharing joy and laughter together from the depths of our heart… even shedding tears for a friend’s loss or difficulty… simply letting them know how much we care. For “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB) Often, we have no idea how our words and actions affect others now or in the future. But, as we endeavor to speak and meditate on what is worthy and acceptable to our Lord and Redeemer, we will be a blessing to those around us. Meditations of My Heart Linda A. Roorda The years have shown me to value Your love A love that seems deeper than when I was young. But sometimes the trials that life brings to bear Cause my heart to tire with weakness exposed. ~ It doesn’t matter who I am now From where I’ve been You accept me still Your arms open wide with an eternal love As I say thank You for blessing my soul. ~ Thank you for guiding my life on this path Thank you for saving my soul from sin’s wrath. Thank you for words which praise your great name Though I am prone to wander away. ~ Thank you for calling me gently back home Back to your side with mercy and grace. Thank you for blessing my soul with your peace With praises to sing for loving me so. ~ For Lord you hold me in the palm of your hand Sovereign and loving, protecting and guiding. Yet what can I give to the One with all? Showers of love to those all around. ~ As I press onward to a higher goal Walking Your path to follow Your lead With praise and honor for You, my Lord In all that I do and all that I say. ~ And “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, My strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) Artwork photo attached sketched by Linda A. Roorda 1986.
  6. Isn’t it so like us… we have it all and yet we want more. I know I’ve been guilty of that at times. The eyes of green, the envy of more... Even Adam and Eve fell victim to this desire with the temptation of luscious forbidden fruit. Sometimes we’re just not satisfied with what we already have… because we need just a little more to feel complete. Even the “rich and famous” will tell you that, if they’re honest. We want it all, and we want it now! The longing to have that little bit extra can be insatiable… we never feel fully satisfied… we just need a little something else, a little something more, thinking we’ll be happy then… Right? Wrong! That continuous search for pleasure, for things, for little trinkets is a dynamic within that keeps moving us forward… in search of bigger pleasures, and more and bigger things… like the phrase, “The one with the most toys wins!” We seem to think that if we find the best life has to offer, we’ll find that envied state of perpetual happiness. Then we will feel really good about ourselves. We’ll have “arrived” in society, and we’ll be admired and loved by everyone around us. But that is so not where life is truly at! That’s the treadmill of a never-ending rat race! So, where and how do we find true happiness, a true inner joy? Seeking more is not necessarily a bad concept in and of itself. Often, seeking more can push us forward to better ourselves with an education for a lifetime career, and as we seek to meet more of our family’s needs. The desire for more can even be the impetus to starting our own company, or meeting the needs of others with our ideas or inventions. For me, a love of writing and researching of my mom’s family ancestry led me to become a published genealogy author of three in-depth family research articles in the “New York Genealogy and Biographical Record.” Later, the desire to write more led to writing articles for our former “The Broader View” local weekly newspaper, and ultimately to writing two blogs online, including at the “Twin Tiers Living.” Just because it gives me pleasure to write… all non gratis. For it’s what and why we seek that makes the difference. If that which we seek is found only in material goods and the best of life’s pleasure, then we’re heading down the wrong path. But, if we seek to honor our Lord God in all we do, there we will find His blessings of peace and contentment... regardless of our circumstances. The Apostle Paul expressed it well in Philippians 4:11-13 “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Yet, I know that’s simply not always easy. It’s a tough lesson to learn at times. Be content, be satisfied with what you have. Be happy with the blessings God has given you… in your health, your family, your job, your home, and your personal possessions. Certainly, you have the right and ability to acquire and improve your situation, but don’t make these things your everything. Don’t hold onto them so very tightly. I remember hearing Chuck (Charles) Swindoll in a radio sermon use an example from my favorite evangelist, Corrie ten Boom. She made quite an impact on him, and me, about holding everything loosely in referring to his love of his children. As Chuck said, “Cupping her wrinkled hands in front of me, she passed on a statement of advice I'll never forget. I can still recall that strong Dutch accent: ‘Pastor Svendahl, you must learn to hold everyting loosely… everyting. Even your dear family. Why? Because da Fater may vish to take vun of tem back to Himself, und ven He does, it vill hurt you if He must pry your fingers loose.’ And then, having tightened her hands together while saying all that, she slowly opened them and smiled so kindly as she added, "Remember… hold everyting loosely… everyting.’” Our desire for all, for everything, can truly only be found in our Lord… in His gift of eternal salvation… His love, His forgiveness of our sins, and in His peace. Romans 3:23 makes it clear that we “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yet, there is hope. As one of my favorite verses since childhood notes, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And in seeking Him, we’ll find an overwhelming peace to know “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) And in this we find our all as we rest in the peace of His blessings. Eden’s Couple Linda A. Roorda They had it all but still wanted more Though in the garden was all they would need. And yet intrigued they listened to greed His words seemed wise, they reasoned to self. Forbidden fruit is lush to the eye For yearnings within do cravings beget. As they control, resolve is forgot And self-serving wants are justified needs. But after the deed their conscience was pierced For now their God came seeking their time. While concealed from view afraid to come forth Their eyes were opened, and ashamed they hid. Yet their deeds He knew, and depths of their hearts. His chastening words showed Fatherly love. With discipline stern and promises pledged He sent them away to life cursed with toil. He vowed to redeem souls from destruction For One would be born to this world of woe. His Son the gift to take the world’s sin That righteous we’ll stand before His great throne. How can it be His love would compel Payment for sin by One who knew none? How can He love the me who I am When I’m no better than Eden’s couple? Yet with open arms like a Shepherd King He draws me near for He knows my heart. And with contrition I give Him my life As mercy and grace flow freely with love. ~~
  7. There are so many people, past and present, who have made a difference for others by simply being who they were intended to be… each an individual who stands out in the crowd in their own way… and who have made a difference in my life and your life. I once took a photo of a single stalk of corn growing in a field of soybeans across the road from us and posted it to Facebook. It spoke silent volumes of being the one alone, not afraid to stand out and be different. (Since I can't find it, I shared this unique photo of field grass.) We have gifts, unique to each of us, enabling us to reach out to be there for others in as many different ways as there are people. And it’s what we do, or don’t do, with our gifts that makes a difference in this world. For, as the venerable Ben Franklin once wrote, "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." When our son was in Boy Scouts of America Troop #17, he learned the association’s motto has always been: “Do a good turn daily.” And I recall Dan sitting for his Eagle Scout “inquisition,” quizzed about all he’d learned and accomplished over the past several years of badge work, camping, and camaraderie with friends. The gentleman from Binghamton had a strong bold character while Dan has a quiet, easygoing, humble personality like his Dad. On being asked what he’d done that day as his good deed, my son was speechless. He had no idea what “good deed” he might have done. When they took a break, I shared with Dan that he naturally helped others out of the kindness of his heart, consistently every day and often without being asked, just like his Dad. But I also told him he had helped me that morning without my having to ask him to help with certain household chores. He doesn’t have to go looking for a good deed. It’s a gift that comes natural to Dan, without hesitation, and something he continued through college, carried forward in his employment, and still does freely for his wife and children, and others. Anyone blessed to know Dan knows his gentle loving heart. What a great motto - teaching young boys to do a good deed every day by serving others without hesitation! As the Bible puts it, we should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [ourselves]. Each of [us] should look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-447) And in all of this, I am also reminded of what God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) We certainly may not be called to be a prophet like Jeremiah, but the Lord has set each of us apart, given each of us special gifts, unique to who we are meant to be. Reminds me of reaching out to others in a welcoming manner whether working as a medical/radiology transcriptionist before retiring or now as a teacher/TA sub in our local schools. It’s a chance to give back… a time to assist others in understanding… a time to smile and encourage… a time to give praise for a job well done… a time to listen when someone needs an ear to hear where they’re at… a time to simply be there when they need someone on their side… like others have done for me. Individually, we may be only one, and we may feel insignificant at that, but we can accomplish so much for those around us… to meet their needs, to put a smile on their face, and joy in their heart. Be that one! I'm Only One Linda A. Roorda I'm only one, but a difference I make By touch of hand or the sound of voice Soothing the anxious, fearful and hopeless Blessing with peace the heart in distress. I’m only one, but a smile I bring A ray of sun to brighten your day A sprig of hope that glows eternal To cheer you on when all else seems lost. I'm only one, but humbly I seek To amend the wrong I've offended you by Forgiveness I ask from your heart to mine With grace and mercy to heal the rift caused. I'm only one, but peace I offer With arms that welcome to embrace your heart To show I care no matter the pain For only with love do we reflect grace. I'm only one, but courage I ask To tackle issues that trouble our days Seeking answers to life's woundings deep That healing may come to scars of our soul. I'm only one, but beauty I desire Not outward surface but heart's inner glow The balm of solace, depth of contentment Glitter of joy, and the calm of peace. I'm only one, but change I effect Bringing comfort to the hurting souls Sharing laughter, burdens to lighten With hands tightly clasped to feel love’s cadence. I’m only one, but wisdom I crave To humbly walk with You as my guide Sharing Your truth to brighten the path That leads us to Your embracing love. ~~ 06/08-11/16
  8. It’s that time of year again! School is already in full swing in some states, while locally and elsewhere school begins during the week after Labor Day. And students are either glad to be back in class or longing for the final bell of the day to ring. Classes and the extended subjects are much different now than they were 200 years ago. Students often did not have a strictly set school year like today, but were excused to help with farm chores such as planting and harvesting crops. Like many great Founders of America who were self-taught, our ancestors were either self-taught, home tutored, private schooled, or had limited access to public school. Even then, a good foundation was laid in what they learned which enabled them to succeed well in their life’s profession or to pursue university studies. I have two school books for math and English (in photo above) used by ancestral families, published in 1852 and 1875, that show they definitely got a solid education! The school was considered the next most important building in a community after the home. It was the center of a small town where church, town meetings, community events and picnics were often held. The “Little House on the Prairie” books and TV series provides a good example of the one-room schoolhouse, the hub of the community. According to Jean Alve (Spencer Historian, Tioga County, NY) in “Sounds of Spencer” for February 24, 1993 (“Looking Back at the History of Spencer, A collection of newspaper articles, 1983-1997”, pub. by The Spencer Historical Society), the Huggtown School of North Spencer was one of the last local one-room schoolhouses. In use until 1935, John Cowell was the last teacher. Located next to North Spencer Baptist Church, the building was moved to private property on Cowell Road in 1981, and is now owned by The Spencer Historical Society. My attending two small Christian schools in East Palmyra, NY and Passaic, NJ for elementary grades was, in some ways, similar to the old-fashioned one-room school concept. Two or three grades were combined with up to 25-30 children per teacher. I well remember the stop-watch timed math tests, the spelling bees, and oral reading groups. We memorized math facts, learned to read phonetically, and were drilled with flash cards. My mother and her 11 siblings attended the one-room school in Carlisle, Schoharie County, NY from 1st through 5th grade before going to middle and high school in Cobleskill. In the 1930s and 1940s, a bus saved them from walking the mile or so to and from school. She recalled their attempt to walk home during a blizzard one winter, but the fierce wind-driven snow and cold drove them into the town’s only restaurant where they called their father. They took sandwiches to school, but once a week their teacher cooked them a hot meal. She can still recall her teachers’ names, with the only man teaching for a few months before being drafted into WW II. Her favorite subjects were social studies/history, with a 95 on her 8th-grade Regents! Still her favorite subject, it’s an interest she’s passed on to me. My mother’s father, born in 1887, went to that same one-room school building, graduating with an 8th grade education. A jack-of-all-trades, Leo Tillapaugh was not only a premier dairy farmer of registered Holsteins when that was not the norm, he was elected to the Cobleskill school board for 20 years until his passing, was town Justice of the Peace, Town Highway Superintendent for Carlisle, bookkeeper for the local creamery, and a highly-respected community leader. I wish I could have known him… In the typical one-room schoolhouse, up to eight grades were taught together. Just as for my mom, boys and girls entered through separate front doors and sat on opposite sides of the room, with the youngest children up front. Classes were usually held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with short morning and afternoon recesses. Schools were typically built within about a 2-mile walking radius for the students, though some came from longer distances and rode a horse or horse-drawn wagon. There was often a pasture to stake the horses in, and occasionally a shed in which to stable them. Lunch was carried in baskets or tin pails. The teacher called the students inside by ringing the bell. Classes typically began with the Lord’s Prayer, a Bible reading, and roll call before lessons. An outhouse/privy was located behind the school. Water from the well was often drunk from one bucket, each student using a common dipper to drink from. No wonder illnesses spread like wildfire among the children, and quarantines were necessary with suspension of classes at times. The teacher was equally a man as a woman, though most women did not teach after marriage. The teacher was well respected, meting out discipline as necessary. We have read or seen depictions of teachers who severely overstepped their bounds in disciplinary actions, but that was not the norm from my research. One of the most common punishments was a whipping with a switch/branch, which would leave red marks on contact. My mother said there was little disruption and unruliness in their classes; but, she chuckled to recall that, indeed, a few students were taken out to the back shed for discipline. Most teachers truly cared for and loved their students, being involved in their lives within the community outside the classroom. My mother said that was also true of their teachers, including one who enjoyed cross-country skiing with them on their farm. Students were given responsibilities according to their age. In the colder months, older children brought in coal or firewood for the stove set in the middle or back of the room. There was little to no thought of putting insulation in buildings back then, so those sitting nearest to the stove would be toasty warm while students farther away shivered. Younger students cleaned the blackboard/chalkboard and took erasers outside to clap them clean. I remember doing that as a child! It was so much fun to watch the puffs of chalk dust - the harder we clapped, the bigger the puffs! Chores by the teacher and students would include making sure the chimney was clean of soot to prevent smoke buildup or a chimney fire. The floor was swept every day, desks cleaned, blackboards and erasers cleaned, and the windows washed often for light as there was no electricity, only oil lamps or candles which would have given off a certain amount of smoke. I would imagine that, like now, not all children willingly did their assigned chores, and sometimes certain chores might be doled out as punishment for an infraction. The three R’s, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, are the necessities to the foundation of any good education. Teaching back then did not require the extensive education and degrees of today. What they needed most was a good knowledge of what was being taught, a love for the children, an ability to discipline fairly, and a commitment to teaching and helping each child learn. Much was taught by memorization, rote and drills. Flash cards and drills were popular. Children memorized math facts without the fancy terminology of today, which I think causes confusion. Nor did the elementary grades touch on the algebraic sets or equations that are used to teach now. Reading was taught by the phonics method with hornbooks (a primer with the alphabet and numbers for children) and spellers, and later the six popular graduated “Eclectic Readers” by William Holmes McGuffey. McGuffey readers were first published in 1836, teaching reading and values such as honesty, courage and good manners. These popular books were still used in the early 20th century. Eventually, sight word recognition came into vogue. http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Phonics/historyofreading.html I remain a strong proponent of phonics; it’s been the key to my success in medical transcription when meeting new terminology, and was key to helping my children learn to read. Spelling bees were often a popular way to end the school week. The student who could out spell everyone else was highly admired until the next week’s bee and new winner. Except, of course, when you carry the stigma of an infamous mistake! Having only moved to Clifton, NJ a week earlier, I was intrigued by a tractor trailer I saw with an orange S.O.X. printed on the side for South Orange Express. We happened to have a spelling bee that morning, my best subject! Seriously! My turn came and the teacher called out, “Socks.” Confidently facing the entire class, and without thinking, I heard myself say, “S-o-x.” Writing was not with lined paper and pencil familiar to our students. Instead, they used rock slates and scratched their answers with slate pencils. As they got older, pen and paper were used, usually with a quill pen made of a sharpened goose feather dipped into the inkwell on their desk. To prevent the ink from smudging, they would press special blotting paper down onto their writing to absorb the excess ink. What a lot of effort that must have taken, especially when compared to the ease of today’s technology! Desks might be planks with benches, or actual 1-2 person desks. Up front, the teacher might have a bench near her desk for students to “privately” recite their lessons. A blackboard, an alphabet sheet, a United States flag, and a clock were often decoratively displayed on the front wall. Many of us have seen the “famous” 8th grade test from 100-200 years ago making the email rounds that we adults supposedly couldn’t pass today. I agree; in reading through it, I can’t begin to answer the questions. However, if we had studied facts specifically for the test, I think we’d pass with flying colors. Well, except for anything above algebra and general science – those were not among my best subjects. As evidenced by research, our ancestors were very well educated with “just” a one-room schoolhouse 8th-grade education. After all, their education success led them to become the successful parents, community leaders, and businessmen and women they were as they brought our communities into the modern age.
  9. ...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!
  10. Early Friday morning, before heading to another of Ed’s appts, I stood on the deck with the sun on my face, gazing at the garden beyond this big beautiful tree that, 40 years ago, was about 8-10 feet tall at most. Even our daughter said when visiting in July that she couldn’t get over how big it had gotten! Then, hearing the drone of a plane engine in the bright blue sky overhead, until its sound slowly faded on its journey to far-away places … reminded me of my childhood, laying in the grass, staring at the clouds and listening to plane engines overhead, without a care in the world, especially about bugs and ticks in the grass, deciding what the huge puffy clouds looked like in comparison to my sister’s thoughts… and sometimes, what I’d give for more days like that childhood fun… quiet, unperturbed, no worries or cares, and no fears of an unknown future… We’ve spent 6 of 7 weekdays going to medical appointments since Ed came home from the hospital on the 3rd… with 3 out of 5 days next wk having appts. Tho Ed is utterly exhausted, we’re thankful he’s still here with us, as we’ve come close to losing him at least half a dozen times over the decades… thankful for my prior hospital medical transcription job where my boss allowed me to work 3am to 11am so I could take care of Ed and his appts in the afternoons over so many years in the past… thankful for the elderly dear friend who wanted to visit Ed this past week and who, on hearing I was sorry to tell him “no” for how exhausted Ed was from his extensive appt calendar, graciously apologized and said he’d leave us alone for a while till Ed felt better again. Unlike someone several years ago who could not understand that concept nor our needs. But for all who’ve cared enough to ask how Ed’s doing, tho I say “ok” and “stable”, he’s not ok. It’s really hard to explain. We thank you and are so grateful for your caring. Ed is improved from when he was hospitalized both times in July. That said, life is a daily struggle for him, for anyone with worsening severe congestive heart failure and multiple other health issues, knowing CHF has no cure. He’s had a few drug changes, eliminating some nasty side effects while replacement meds bring on new problems. It’s remembering to focus on God being here with us, even in the midst of what seems like never-ending difficulties in health or other challenges, wondering if our prayers are heard, while also knowing He does work all things for good to those who love Him… even when we feel so alone… because He has said He will never leave us nor forsake us. And sometimes I need a little reminder when life becomes overwhelming… I wrote the following article in 2016, accepted for publication in the Christian Reformed Church Disability Network Newsletter in 2017. Why do we have to deal with suffering? Why aren’t we miraculously healed when we pray for healing? Didn’t Jesus say, “Ask anything in my name and it shall be given you”? So, are we not healed due to a lack of faith or the right prayers? What Jesus did say was: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) He also said “… and I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14) John later wrote, "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) And therein lies the key – asking in God’s will. But that begs the question… what is God’s will? My husband, Ed, and I have traveled a long road with his disabilities and health issues. We’ve been told to pray and fast for healing, and trust that he will be healed. It sounds so easy, but healing has not come. We have been told it was our fault that he has not been healed because we did not pray right. Although I would never want to destroy a prayer of hope, the Bible does not teach that we can manipulate God into doing what we want just by saying the right words or having "enough" faith. With his long-term illnesses, disabilities, and unrelenting pain and dizziness, my husband and I have wondered what’s wrong with us that healing has passed him by. Intimations by well-meaning friends that healing is simply for the asking has devastating effects, including guilt. While the “well” person can walk away emotionally and physically intact, how do we handle the seemingly raw deal we’ve been dealt? Personally, I think it takes a deeper faith to move forward without obvious answers and healing. Just maybe there really is a purpose in our suffering. As we read in James, we are to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4). For “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial." (vs.12) Once upon a time I did not understand that concept and reacted poorly to adversity. Yet, even in that, I am not alone. Paralyzed from the neck down after a shallow dive soon after graduating from high school, I learned Joni Eareckson Tada initially reacted negatively when I read several of her books. She expected answers to prayers for miraculous healing. But healing never came. Disappointed, discouraged and despairing, she finally came to terms with accepting her disability. She has seen God work by changing her heart instead, and she praises God for the blessing her ministry has been in transforming the lives of others. Despite his multitudinous losses of family and personal property, Job did not sin in his quest for answers. Learning of his losses, he worshipped God saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21b) He did not blame or curse God. But, in questioning God, and hearing the Almighty’s queries of him, Job acknowledged an understanding of where he fit in the overall scheme of life. . . and that God was in control. And God eventually blessed him even more than before. I am impressed with Job’s humility as he learned to fully trust our loving, all-knowing and all-powerful God. In unbelievable circumstances that I can’t comprehend, others have struggled to regain normalcy after devastating losses, knowing their life will never be the same. I’m sure they wish their life stories were different. But God knows why life has its rough roads. He knows our story from start to finish. (Psalm 139:13-16) He hears our cries and pleadings. And, though God seems silent at times, I’m reassured by Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” As God draws us into a closer relationship with Him on a path we don’t like, Ed and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) We understand the redemptive quality which pain and difficulty can bring to our lives. As Philip Yancey put it so well, “We’re concerned with how things turn out; God is more concerned with how we turn out.” (“The Question That Never Goes Away – Why?”, p.105) Therein lie the keys to accepting and understanding life’s difficult situations. When there are no answers to pleas for healing, may you, too, feel the Lord’s loving arms gently holding you with a comfort and peace only He can give. May you feel His strength enable you to finish well the path He’s allowed you to walk. And, may you know His answer will yet be coming in His time…though maybe not until you stand face to face with Him. And may we each be found worthy at the end of our journey. Answers Linda A. Roorda Sometimes we have no healing for pain And answers to prayers seem elusive at best But in the silence the Lord whispers soft… I am still here; You are not alone. When the way gets rough, I will guide your steps When the path is steep, your hand I will hold When the night is long, at your side I’ll be When you can’t go on, I will carry you. Though sometimes My will is not what you want Plans I have made take time to work out Wending their way through trials you face With meaning found as your heart seeks mine. There’s much I long to share from My word Coming together with trust placed in Me Finding comfort in My arms of peace When to Me you give control of your path. Even though Faith is bright hope unseen It covers your soul, a protective shield And holds you tight when stormy winds blow To persevere when all else seems lost. For though sometimes answers seem fleeting Your heart is held still gently secure That you may know My mercy and grace Hold your best interests in loving scarred hands. ~~ 06/18/2016
  11. I thought you might enjoy this look back in time to lessons learned while raising animals on our backyard farm. Can you hear wisdom’s call in the depth of your soul? It’s that still small voice that we often hear, but don’t always heed. And I’m guilty, too. I so want to do things my way… but need to heed the reminder that my way is not always the best option. I’ve shared before about the animals under my care as I grew up. After moving to Lounsberry, NY in my mid-teens, we acquired a little over three dozen baby chicks in the mail... extras in case some didn’t survive the trip. The tiny fluffy chicks were raised briefly under a lamp in a big box in the kitchen corner. When they were big enough, we put them out in the ca.1930s chicken coop that I’d helped my dad renovate. And then, from an auction, my dad obtained six adult Muscovy ducks for our menagerie. My father had raised chickens, ducks and geese under his mother’s tutelage while growing up, while my mother helped her family care for at least 3000 chickens, and knew the importance of having a guard goose – which my youngest brother Ted named Honk! My Dad had even been a delegate to Boston on a 4-H chicken judging contest! With my parents’ love of farming, it was only natural that would be part of the legacy passed on to me. So, imagine my excitement one day to discover a broody duck setting on eggs. After the first four hatched and were ready to face the world, Mama Duck took her little ones out for a stroll in the fenced-in chicken yard. Coming home from school, I saw a little straggler left behind, trying to hatch itself. Not knowing any better, I decided to help what I considered to be a poor little duckling abandoned by its Mama. After breaking off pieces of the shell to create a wider opening, the little fella slipped out of the shell and lay quietly in the nest. Sadly, he did not survive… simply because I had taken matters into my own hands and helped him hatch. Unbeknownst to me at the time was the fact that chicks need to do the work of hatching on their own. There is a natural process that tells the chick when it’s time to escape its shell confinement, notably elevated carbon dioxide. When this reaches a certain level inside the shell, the chick begins to flex its tiny muscles. But before it begins to hatch, which can take up to or just over 24 hours, the chick absorbs the yolk and blood vessels inside the shell into its own body. This will provide nourishment for a few days after the hatching. Next, pipping begins with the tiny chick using its “egg” or “beak” tooth to make a tiny crack or hole through the membrane and shell so that vital oxygen can enter. Gradually, it cracks the shell all the way around the large end of the egg. Then, the little chick stretches until it throws off the protection of the shell and emerges, wet and floppy. The chick should be left alone to dry as its feathers fluff to keep it naturally warm. Soon enough it will be up and walking, under Mama’s tender care. By feeling sorry for the little duckling left behind as its Mama and siblings went out for a stroll, I took matters into my own hands. “I did it my way,” to quote Frank Sinatra’s famous song. By assisting this tiny duckling to hatch, I did not allow it to go through the natural process established by our Creator. And, sadly, I caused the demise of my littlest duckling. From that painful lesson years ago, I realized doing life “my way” is not always the best option. There’s a better way. Unfortunately, I haven’t always sought the better way. But if I learned anything, it’s that seeking wisdom is a life-long learning process. We definitely don’t know it all in our youth… we need experience to gain knowledge to travel wisely through life. And experience comes in realizing that we make mistakes because we don’t know everything… and, with humility, seeking advice from others. Perhaps someone else studied the subject at hand, trained under a worthy teacher, and learned skills which we don’t have. If only I’d asked my father how to care for my ducklings, I would not have rushed headlong into taking matters in my own hands. But he was an over-the-road trucker at that time, and not instantly available. By giving up “our way” as we seek wisdom from our heavenly Father through His word, we gain knowledge to live life under His guiding hand… a knowledge and love we can then share with others. “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:9-10) Listen To Me Linda A. Roorda Where is my heart? Where is my focus? Where are my thoughts and my attention? In idols that grab, my vision distort Or is it heaven with treasures of gold? Listen to Me and consider blessings Focus upon the door of your heart. Who has the key to enter therein To whom give credence, to whom pay homage? Hear wisdom’s voice as she calls your name Heed her message with a joyful heart. Welcome her words that direct your path And dwell in peace by her guiding light. Fear the Lord humbly with reverence and awe Become the wiser as knowledge is gained With confidence seek His will in your life And choose the One who will guide in truth. For the scales of justice weigh out every deed To plumb the depth of my heart and soul Balanced by truth from Your word alone Will my life show my pride or Your love? ~~ PHOTO CREDIT: My photo taken of my Muscovy ducks 1971.
  12. As many know, my husband was readmitted to the hospital Thursday. Overlapping congestive heart failure, diabetes, and kidney failure walk a fine line together. Not sure of the immediate future, as none of us do, we watch the world go merrily on its way as we grapple with life’s unknowns, frustrations and limitations, all the while knowing God is here with us and has a plan. His will may not be the plan we want, but as we go to Him, He gently wraps his arms around us, holding us up, giving us strength to face what is meant to be, with His love… I actually needed to be reminded of that and found this poem and blog I’d written in 2017, unpublished previously, so fitting for so many of us today… especially in the heartache of sudden losses like those who are suffering amidst Kentucky’s devastating flash flooding, as we collectively mourn with the families who lost loved ones and everything they owned. May you each be blessed and comforted today with our God’s great love within your own difficulties. Life can be so hard and painful, difficult and unfair. We may face debilitating fears of the unknown on hearing a difficult medical diagnosis. I remember the shock of hearing I had breast cancer. My mind shut down. I did not hear much of what else my doctor had to say. The fears of the unknown were very real, as were my tears. And I know many of you, my dear friends and readers, have faced similar situations. You may feel deep pain and grief in the loss of a loved one before their time… like the losses of our first two preborn infants - Heather at 6 months, believed to be twins who did not separate, followed by a second baby at 3-1/2 months, and then the loss of our daughter Jennifer at 25 years, a month after she graduated with her Master’s in school psychology, leaving behind her husband of 3 years. You may carry the heart wounds of betrayal and abuse, suffer the destruction of a family home or business, or the loss of everything around you in devastating natural disasters, and more. You know all too well your own trials… There is so much we don’t understand in this life. Yet, amidst all the pain and grief we endure, we can rise from the ashes of devastating losses to a joyous new beginning. For God is with us, even on those days when we feel abandoned and alone, like no one cares. Even then, He is there. He never leaves us. Perhaps He seems silent, but He is truly never far away. His arms are always open, ready to hold us, perhaps even to carry us for a while. But He never leaves us nor abandons us. We may not understand the why of our pain while walking the difficult road… but the Lord has His reasons for allowing us to take that journey. Perhaps this is what it takes to draw us back to His side, to understand His love, to know forgiveness with His lavish gift of mercy and grace through Jesus’ sacrifice, and to know His love and peace beyond understanding. In John 16:33, Jesus told his disciples, and us, that “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Yet even the strongest among us faces difficult days with doubts about so many things… and we contemplate… Joshua was told by God as he prepared the Israelites to enter the promised land: “6. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them… 9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” They had lived for so many years and generations as slaves to the Egyptians and their brutality. Now, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness under Moses, after facing many difficulties where God showed His loving hand in providing and caring for them, there was still fear of the unknown among the people. Again, hundreds of years later, the prophet Isaiah also shared God’s words with the Israelites, “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 41:10-13 NIV) Words we can also hold onto in our hearts in this every-day journey of life. One of my favorite verses is Peter’s words reminding us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 NIV) And yet, I fall short in bringing ALL my cares and concerns to God, and I stand guilty of fretting and fearing. Again, Isaiah wrote down precious words God gave him to encourage us all during trials: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV) Finally, as the writer of Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Yes, I have to keep reminding myself of the words of God written well before our time. These verses show what great love our Lord has for us. He knows and understands the daily trials of life we face… the losses and pains we suffer… Though we may consider our losses to be ashes of our treasures, ultimately God will give us joy and peace through the difficulties we face when our hearts are secure in Him… as we hold onto Jesus’ nail-scarred hands and bask in His great love… for "[He will] provide for those who grieve...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes." (Isaiah 61:3) What rejoicing we share when blessed with His peace! Never will He leave us, never will He forsake us! Out of the Ashes Linda A. Roorda Out of the ashes comes a healing heart And from the shattered comes broken beauty A miracle born midst languishing hope Comes shining light that glows from within. Though all I can give is a heart of love The simplest of gifts with no strings attached I give it to you with hands held out As You lift me up to stand rejoicing. From heavenly throne to servant of all You humbly came to seek and to save Bringing compassion, discerning my heart You gazed on my soul to see the real me. If all my riches were piled up high They‘d account for naught when put through the fire But where I have stored the Light of the world Is where the treasures of my heart are held. For out of the ashes comes a heart at peace Broken and shattered in sorrow and shame But born anew by Your sacrifice Your love covers all with mercy and grace. ~~ 12/06-09/17
  13. Nice you got pouring rain in your area! We got maybe a few little drops and that was it. Not even enough to wet the dust...
  14. It’s been a rough month for both of us with my husband's ongoing health issues that never completely go away, extraneous related issues, so many medical appointments, house electrical and car problems, leaving us both feeling like we want to just run away… escaping it all to the proverbial vacation in the hills. I know you’ve been there, too. But God… answered our needs with good friends who were glad to help, and a new medical internist team who really care. And I found this poem and blog written during another difficult time in 2014 and 2015 that spoke to my heart, reminding me… We all have doubts and questions in our hearts. We all have fears and worries and thoughts with which we wrestle. But so did the best of men and women who were close to the heart of God – like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David, Job, Esther, Mary, Peter, Paul, just to name a few… In fact, there’s a reason why I appreciate their life examples so much… it’s in the depth of their honesty. Perhaps we deal with wondering or wandering thoughts, difficult and painful questions, tears with pleas, and heart-felt longings. Maybe, truth be told, we’re upset and just a little angry at God for not answering our prayers. Maybe we wonder why our faith seems weak in the face of a host of trials while others float along in life with hardly a problem. Maybe we feel we’re not worthy of His love and His grace, or maybe we think we don’t need His help... that we can manage on our own, or maybe we think He really can’t understand what we’re facing. Yet, we do know we truly can take all our problems to our Lord in prayer, though sometimes it seems like we just shouldn’t bother Him with all of life’s little seemingly insignificant issues. Sometimes, our heart is so heavy we don’t even know how to put our thoughts into words in order to pray… I’ve been there. I’ve wrestled. I’ve wondered, wandered and worried. Yet, Jesus understands. He knows what we face. He cares. He’s been there. He faced life head on with trials and temptations, with love from friends, but also with rejection, mocking and scorn. And He knew to whom He could turn – His heavenly Father. When I focus on what Jesus went through, how He suffered for each of us, then what have I to fear? He knows… for He’s a friend like no other, just as the Apostle John wrote: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13 NIV) And being the Friend that He is, He welcomes our ponderings. He exemplifies the bond of a friend who shares the burdens, doubts and fears of our heart. He helps us understand the meaning within or behind life’s trials and wrestling thoughts. He loves us deeply. No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, or what questions keep us awake at night, we can go to Him. He opens our eyes to His truth and words of wisdom when we come to Him in prayer. And with a heart of love, He welcomes us into his arms of peace. He truly cares about even the littlest things that we get so concerned about and fret over… for, as I Peter 5:7 reminds us, we are to “Cast all [our] anxiety on him because he cares for [us].” This poem came out of my own doubts, questions, fears and frets, and my tendency to take the reins amidst the struggles of life… when I should be giving all these things over to God and rest in His peace. May you, too, find peace in knowing that, though we all go through these issues, our Lord has his arms and ears and heart open, waiting for us to come to Him with all our concerns. Because He cares… Thoughts That Wrestle Linda A. Roorda Within my heart are thoughts that wrestle… Where is my faith? On what do I stand? Help me now Lord to draw close to You Help me to grow rooted in Your truth. Why am I prone to wander away? Why do I hold ever tight the reins? Help me to know You guide me gently As I rely on Your restoring word. Your word is truth, reality to me A firm foundation to strengthen my soul, Lessons to heed when life falls apart Knowledge to earn by traveling this road. Should I utter my bitter complaints To underscore the trial I face, You offer hope when I’m in despair As all my cares I release to You. Despite my doubts You still rescue me You draw me close on hearing my cries, Your gentle words within my soul Give voice to reason, a wisdom to gain. You understand my human frailties Though I can’t fathom you lived in two worlds, Within your heart was sinless perfection But in this life temptation You faced. For You knew pain, rejection and jeers And You were tempted, in hunger and thirst, But better than we, You stared down the hand Of evil's grasp which held not Your will. You cried with loss, and needed to rest You shared a heart for those steeped in sin, Your words gave life to the seeking crowds As You fed their souls with unreserved love. The great I Am, the giver of life You bless all who come, whose hearts are seeking, That we might know, the one holy God The Word in flesh, the Light of the world. For this our faith in your death alone And resurrection from the tomb to life, Cannot be swayed by earthly passions When we take hold of your nail-pierced hands. Grace and mercy bestowed on my heart When faith is wrapped in your sacrifice The reason you came among us to live How great a gift I can never repay. ~~
  15. It seems we often want our way regardless of how anyone else feels. That old “give-and-take” attitude I remember growing up with seems to be lacking... all too evident among those who mock and bully others, even within today’s world of politics… where a war of words continues to erupt, and others are canceled. It seems like absolute truth and moral or ethical standards have become a negative, a cause for ridicule… while relativism, or determining our own truth as we want it to be, is more often revered. Authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens have become suspect, apparently not worth our reading in today’s political correctness. They, like so many others, wrote about the way life was as they experienced it while walking upon this earth, something we can learn from. The Wilder Award in literature has been renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because Wilder used words of a different era, inappropriate for today. We were appalled at censorship, banning and burning of books many years ago, yet even now we walk a fine line of what is appropriate. We disallow our children to read of life in other times when words or language we now recognize as inappropriate was used. Even the Holy Bible is often not acceptable because it might offend. Yet, as discerning parents, we did not allow our children to read a few specific books in high school. We discussed why they were inappropriate reading material with both our children and school personnel. We were told by the principal that, because we calmly explained our objections, the school graciously saw our valid points and gave alternative reading material. In Jenn’s case, after giving one particular oral book report, a few classmates told her they wished they’d read that book instead of the original proffered book. A true story, it showed a quality of character in the challenges a young man faced as an Olympian runner diagnosed with cancer. Unable to compete, he turned to helping inner city under-privileged kids. The book read by the rest of the class, however, was filled with gratuitous sex, filthy language, and mocking of parental/family values – found when I simply opened the book at random junctures. Actually, the teacher told his students to seek their parents’ permission to read that book! And, apparently, if other students actually showed it to their parents, we were the only ones who said “no way!” Even the school board was shocked to learn what that book held. It was pulled from the school’s required reading list, and the teacher actually complimented us on our strong stance, saying he learned a lot from us. There truly is a time for discernment of right and wrong when done with respect. My poem here began to flow with news of the violence and tearing down of our nation’s historical monuments in the summer of 2017 and since. Removing such historical memorials does not erase or change history… except for the younger generations who never learn its truths. There are lessons learned in those memories earned. We’ve come so far. We’ve grown in understanding and acceptance. Isn’t that cause for celebration rather than condemnation? Our differences can be teachable moments. That’s what Freedom of Speech is all about… with a chance to show love and respect even in our disagreement, revealing true tolerance, not denigrating or canceling someone just because you don’t like their stance. Tolerance, by definition, is an ability to be fair, to accept a viewpoint which is different, and to bear with another in realizing that the opposition also has rights… without approving wrong by our silence, or going into full rage when disagreeing with the alternative view. Perhaps we remember that society’s Golden Rule (which promotes tolerance, when you think about it), actually comes from the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law…” (Matthew 7:12a) Yet, tolerance is not a license to do anything we want at will. A moral society adheres to absolute truths of right and wrong, or it breaks down without this solid foundation… as we now see with a preferential treatment of criminals being put back out on the street where they are free to commit crimes again, by not holding them truly responsible and accountable for their criminal acts. We should certainly be cognizant and tolerant of others’ opinions or beliefs, respecting our differences… but, that does not mean we have to tolerate rude or foul language, or abusive, bullying, or violent and criminal behavior. Tolerance is not freedom to persist in traveling down a wrong path. There are consequences for everything we do... and there is a time and place for speaking out respectfully against inappropriate words or actions. So where did tolerance go? Too often, it seems tolerance is relegated to that which accepts and promotes a particular politically-correct agenda to the exclusion and canceling of the opposing view and person… regarding differing perspectives as not having validity to be respected. What happened to our ability to show respect through appropriate discussion? What happened to Freedom of Speech? Why the hate-filled, foul-worded, disrespectful language? Why violence with riots and destruction, or angry rhetoric to disallow conservative or religious speakers, even on college campuses? What is there to be afraid of… that others might actually have valid points of truth, different from your own perspective and agenda? Fear of a differing opinion by engaging in anger and wrath toward that with which one disagrees serves no viable purpose. We have heard mobs calling for their rights or else violence will ensue… while proclaiming how tolerant and justified they are. Seems to me that violence as a coercive bully tactic is anything but tolerance. Perhaps it would be wise to observe that true tolerance… the courtesy to listen, even agreeing to disagree in appropriate discourse… comes by respecting another’s viewpoint, their freedom of speech, without the backlash of vitriolic speech and/or destructive violence. When morality steps up and extends a hand in true respect, we’re living out the ancient Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Given by God to Moses for the Jewish nation during its exodus from centuries of Egyptian slavery, these words still serve us well as a moral foundation for life even in today’s modern society. Doing our best to live out Jesus’ words in what we call the Golden Rule, we show great love and respect for others… “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) – just as we wish to be treated. With this love, and acceptance of those with whom we disagree, we embody Christ’s love, for “love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:6 NIV) Tolerance Linda A. Roorda ~ Could I but live a life that was safe I wouldn’t question the wrongs encountered. I would not wrestle with problems I face Or troubles inherent with consequent strife. ~ For if I the bad from this life expunged I’d then have left the best for display. My life would exist by my design For my benefit and pleasure alone. ~ Remove the memories and mask the failures Fashion the remains to what I deem fit. Let visible be selfish ambition My life according to myself and me. ~ I have no tolerance for views but mine My way is right and suspect is yours. I demand my way and fight you I will If only to prove entitled am I. ~ Yet what I now see is your hand held out Bearing a gift, tolerance by name. You’ve come to my aid and lift me up To help me stand with dignity tall. ~ There’s a price, you see, for this freedom shared It’s a cost in red that flowed for us all. And it grants relief from oppression’s fist That your words and mine comingle in peace. ~~
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