I absolutely loved writing poetry when I was a tween, and I came
across some of the poems I had scrawled between pages of homework. It
was great way to pass the time when we traveled a lot. They are not
very great (and definitely do not follow all the rules of proper verse),
but it is interesting nonetheless to go back in time to those awkward
“I sit and watch the scenes go by-
The woods, the trees, the lakes, the streams,
The cars, the trucks, the roads, the leaves.
God made this world for you and me.”
“Life is like a little river-
Storms will come and cause dismay;
Waves will beat and toss forever
Till the clouds all fade away.
And soon the sun will brightly savor
The once wild waves that now just trickle,
Flowing on and on eternal;
Always go, but never stay.”
“Truly love is such a grand thing
For God sent His Son to die
On the cross to bear our burdens
So you’ll live with Him on high.
But the story has not ended with the Savior in the grave,
He did rise up in the morning
On the third day from the grave.”
Honesty and Purity
“Honesty tastes like a mountain stream
and looks like the cows in a pasture scene
And sounds like a train whistle’s scream.
Honesty smells like the approaching morning’s dew
and feels like the ground of a path that is true.
Purity sounds like the wind in the trees
And feels like a cool refreshing breeze
And looks like the turning waves in the sea.
Purity smells like a clean spring rain
And tastes like fresh-picked sugarcane.”
“There is so much around me so dear and so sweet
That some take for granted and others delete;
But to me they are precious as the jewels of a queen
Or the gold of a miser or the power of kings-
Parents that trust me and love me still
When others would mock me and laugh at free will,
A brother that helps me with chores and with work
And then will expect not a thing in return,
The smile of a child so tender and young,
Their small little hands enveloped in my own,
The love of a friend that is there when all fails
Ready to heal and forgive and not yell,
The glistening of dew in the morning’s rays
Suspended in webs of intricate lace,
The singing of birds,
The buzzing of bees,
And children that play on a hot summer’s eve,
The beautiful rainbow arched in the sky
Full of all colors of day and of night,
The brilliance of leaves as they turn on their color
And float to the ground to be a blanketing cover,
The fresh falling snow turning bad into pretty
And showing the cleansing of things that were dirty,
A twilight evening out under the stars
Where Heaven seems close but yet oh so far.
But the very best thing of the stuff that’s around me
Is the One who made it
And also Who gave it-
He’s the Maker and Creator,
Friend and my Savior,
The One that first saw beauty in each piece of matter.”
Thursday, May 15, 2014
I barely even noticed it, but somehow the small brown patch hidden amid the grass caught my attention.
I love the new life that colors the earth at springtime. Grass turns green, trees start blossoming in whites and pinks, yellow daffodils and red tulips wave from the flowerbeds, and blue and speckled eggs start to fill nests built among the tree branches.
One year when I was young I had the privilege to watch a nest that Momma Robin built right outside the schoolroom window. Countless hours were spent in erecting just the perfect structure to house the young. The eggs were laid, and after what seemed like an eternity, they slowly started to crack open. I watched wide-eyed as the pink, scrawny, birdlings fought and pushed their way from the egg. Oh, I wanted to help them so badly, but I had to sit back and watch and wait. I’ll be honest, they weren’t very cute; but slowly they grew fuzzy down, making them look absolutely adorable. Dad and Mom Robin kept them well fed with lots of worms (now that’s some hard parenting to be sure), and the baby birds grew bigger and stronger until it was time to leave the nest. They didn’t all go at once, but one by one they would make the plunge over the side of the nest and find their wings for the first time. That’s the way a bird’s life is supposed to be. Generations of birds have followed the same procedure and will continue to.
But once in awhile there is a baby bird that never gets to have a “normal life”. Those are the birds that never had a chance and fell from the nest during a storm or other such mishap.
That’s what the brown spot was in the grass- a baby bird had fallen and was now huddled there completely helpless. It opened its big beak as I walked by and squawked for help. What could I do? I couldn’t touch it or the mother would disown it, and I couldn’t adopt it because I had tried that already with other wild baby animals and it never went very well. So I decided to do what I could do and found some earthworms to drop with a tweezers into the bird’s beak. The bird finally stopped crying and happily went to sleep on a fully stomach.
The next morning I went out to check on the little bird, but it was no longer there. A cat or some other predator must have gotten to it during the night.
Ever since that happened a certain verse keeps ringing in my head, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7).
Lately there have been a lot of sickness and death affecting friends and family of my friends. It seems so meaningless when a senior drowns on a class trip, a young girl dies in a car crash and her sister is entrapped in a coma, or a mother with very small children dies from a brain tumor. It feels like life was unfair and snatched them away before it was the right time. They were the baby birds that never got the chance to live life like the other birds. One wants to shout out “Why, God? Don’t you care?”
I’m not going to try to explain or answer the “Why?” question. Christians have pat answers that they like to give at times of suffering, but those explanations are hard to understand amidst the pain. If you are looking for excellent reading material on pain, suffering, and answers to complex doubts to read on your own time and when you feel ready for it, I suggest When God Doesn’t Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson, The Problem of Pain/A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, and Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller.
All I want to say is that God really does care. I want to reassure you in that for this minute, this hour, this day, this week, this month, this year, and all the years to come. I want to remind myself and hold to that when life grows dark and my path winds through a dark, lonely, clouded valley… because that is when the Enemy whispers that God is cruel, God is uncaring, God is impersonal, and God is nowhere to be found.
BUT- God sees even the smallest most insignificant bird fall and breathe its last breath, and it truly breaks His Heart. How much more does He care for us! His Heart breaks for the pain you are feeling, and His Tears fall when yours do.
He reaches out with those nail-scarred Hands and says, “Child, I know you don’t understand why I didn’t stop this. I understand that nothing makes sense, but I want to tell you that you’re not alone. I’ve been through the pain myself, and I’ll walk with you through this new pain in your life. Take my Hand and trust Me. One day all tears will be dried, the skies will clear, the pain will vanish, and your questions will be answered; but know till then and rest in the fact that you are of more value than many sparrows and I will love you until the end of time and for all eternity after that.”
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Daily Post Prompt: What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?
I like to brag that I live healthily- I don’t smoke; I don’t do drugs; I rarely drink coffee, sweet teas, or sodas; I don’t drink alcoholic beverages; I exercise almost every day; I get seven hours of sleep at night; I wake up at 5:30 in the morning; and I eat healthily (for the most part).
However there is one guilty pleasure that I participate in that is just to good to quit. Ah, a chai tea latte (iced in the spring, frozen in the summer, pumpkin spice added in the fall, and hot in the winter) will just make waterfalls dance and rainbows swirl and flowers blossom. I know, I know, they cost a nice chunk of change, and sixteen ounces of that deliciousness pack a whopping 240 calories; but they are irresistible.
I used to have a higher resistance, but now it is getting harder and harder to say no. Any Starbucks, Panera Bread, or Sheetz automatically pulls me through the doors to a cup of spice and sweetness blended in perfection. I convince myself that I work hard and should reward myself once in a while (or once in a lot) and will easily burn those added calories.
And guess what! A Sheetz is moving in down the road within walking distance, which means that “book and chai” dates might happen even more often. Maybe I should just start a piggy bank labeled Chai Tea Latte Fund, which eliminates all financial guilt… and of course, if I walk to get my drink, that eliminates calorie guilt. See, there’s always a way to keep a chai close by;)
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Cobweb: The Unloved Kitten
It all started when the family decided that we would rather have cats roaming our property than mice.The traps and mouse bait just didn’t seem to be doing the trick of eliminating those scurrying creatures; so my brother and I embarked on a kitten finding expedition.
It didn’t take us long to drive to a home that had big sign out front reading “Free Kittens”. We parked the truck and got out to see what little fuzzy-wuzzy kittens we would be taking home with us.
We soon found out that these kittens were wild because of limited human contact.
Oh well, we figured. We were there now; so we might as well find the best ones and see what we could do with them.
The lady that owned the kittens proceeded to try to catch the three that we picked out. That was a crazy adventure in itself. The kittens would run and hiss and scratch- it wasn’t a pretty picture.
When it was finally all done and said and the renegades had been captured, we had a black and white kitten, a long-haired grey kitten, and a grey-striped kitten all riding home with us in a box.
On the way back to our place, we came across another “Free Kittens” sign; and decided to check out these kittens. At this farm, there were some young children outside playing; and they easily picked up two of the cutest little kittens that they had named Butterscotch and Princess.
Well, we just couldn’t resist a lil’ blondie and a multi-colored rascal; so we added another two kittens to our collection.
We finally arrived home without anymore stops and proceeded to make a home for the kittens in the back, unused room of our office. We figured that we would keep them there until they got older and more used to us. We opened the box, and the strangest collection of kittens came hurrying out. Immediately the wild ones all fled to corners to take refuge from these strange humans.
We easily assigned names to our new pets. Panther was the black and white kitten, Napoleon was the grey-striped, Butterscotch was the Blondie, and Princess was the multi-colored. Lastly, we decided to call the very wildest kitten, Cobweb, since he was busy sleeking through the corners and catching hidden spiderwebs in his long hair.
Butterscotch and Princess had no trouble at all adjusting to human contact. They were busy winding around our legs wanting attention. After a little, Napoleon started to cautiously approach us. Eventually we could pet him; and after that he became a little bit of a pest! It seems he must have wanted to make up for his childhood of no affection; because he insisted on being pampered. If you stopped petting him, he started to meow a pitiful cry until someone took pity on him and gave him more love.
So we had three for us and two against us. Panther and Cobweb still clung to the shadows of solitude. We kept showing attention to the others, supplying them with fresh food and milk, and showing up day after day to spend time with the group.
I started to notice that Panther would get closer and closer each time. She would just sit and watch while the other three would be getting petted. Their contented purring seemed to strike up a longing inside of her.
Finally, the day arrived when she made the step forward. She cautiously approached my hand. I slowly moved my hand towards her, afraid that any sudden movement would send her scampering away. A smile spread across my face when I finally got to pet her. She moved closer yet and actually started to purr! A thrill of success and achievement crowned my heart with victory.
Cobweb still was mistrusting. She could see that all the rest were safe and happy, but she just couldn’t give in to trust. Eventually she started to sit closer and closer to me; she even sniffed my brother’s hand one time when it was his turn to care for them.
But she still hadn’t totally lost all her fear and mistrust. Only time will tell if love and patience will triumph. I am hoping that it will. One day, I trust that Cobweb will be just like the other kittens.
Cobweb’s reactions really started me thinking the last couple of days. She reminds me like the thousands and millions of children that have been abused, neglected, or forced to survive in the foster care system. She has seen so much that is the opposite of love, that she can’t actually recognize love.
She hangs in the shadows hoping that no one will pay attention to her; while at the same time, wishing someone would. She hisses and scratches the ones who approach her; because she doesn’t want to be hurt again. Her trust has been broken so many times, and is not easily repaired. She envies the ones that are receiving kindness, but yet she can’t seem to break down the wall that separates her from them.
Children’s faces line my mind’s eye when I think of Cobweb. The tears well up in my eyes when I think about all the little souls that are living in the shadows of solitude like Cobweb does.
Those children are condemned or ridiculed when they lash out; people give up on them; they are the ones called by the world as hopeless and not standing a chance.
Perhaps all they need is someone who is willing to take the time—-lots and lots of time—- to just be there for them, to just be a caring presence in their life. Not someone who forces acceptance or love; but someone who is willing to wait and wait and wait until the child slowly approaches and breaks down their wall of fear and mistrust.
It’s hard to be that person; because it hurts when the child hisses or scratches you- even though you are devoting all your time and love and attention to help them. It frustrates you to see the child sitting in the corner and shutting the world out.
However, God is there. If He sees the little sparrow fall, He cares so much more for those little hurting lives that fill the world today. He wraps His arms around every child that is living in the shadows, that is trying to run from the pain. He can see and feel their pain, and will bless the ones that are trying to help the hurting lives around them. He will give grace to the giver, and love to the server, and fortitude to the ones that persevere. Parents, teachers, caregivers, sunday school teachers- – - He will give you the patience and endurance to be there for “Cobweb: The Unloved Kitten” until she starts to trust and love again!
——May 8, 2014
“Cobweb: The Unloved Kitten” Part 2
The kittens grew up to be cats, and we moved them out to the shop so that they could start getting acquainted with their surroundings and browse the outdoors. Some decided to embark upon their own adventures and travel the world, some decided to stay home and raise a family, and Cobweb decided to stay on sleeking about the place.
Then the breakthrough happened; Cobweb crept near enough to be touched. The last stone of the wall in Cobweb’s heart had crumbled, and she was free to feel the emotion that she had held herself away from for so long. She had finally allowed human touch and affection into her life. It was not an immediate transaction- she still pulled back if we moved too quickly or caught her off guard, but there was ground being won in the fight for her trust.
Cobweb was laid to rest about a year and a half ago. The best that I could figure was that she had gotten in a fight with an animal bigger and stronger than her. But when she left us, she was no longer that mistrusting, wild, hateful kitten; instead she had become a beautiful, affectionate, tame cat that had finally experienced what it felt like to be loved and had learned how to love as well.
Love is the strongest weapon that man has ever known. To love takes effort and time and energy, to love is opening yourself for disappointment and hurt, to love the unlovable may bring ridicule and shame…but love is always worth it.Maybe you are in a situation right now with someone that is like Cobweb and seems impenetrable and unreachable. No matter how discouraged and hopeless you feel the situation is, don’t give up! I hate to tell you that you may never be able to see the results of your patience and tears, here on earth; but the good news is that God is still using your love in ways that you can’t begin to imagine, whether you see it or not.
Someday that wall of hate, bitterness, and fear of love may crumble in that child or adult’s life; but it will only happen because your love helped them chip away at it a little at a time. If you give up now, the wall will only become stronger as weeds and vines entrench around it; and the person inside will hide further and further back in the shadows.Love doesn’t ram the wall, but love isn’t afraid of it either. Love is standing at the wall and sending cookies over; love is praying to God for sunshine to illuminate the dark forest on the other side; love is spending tears as you hurt and are hurt by the hidden person; love is not paying attention to the remarks that passerbys sneer; love is simply standing there with your hand outstretched and letting the person on the other side know that you are there and will wait for them as long as you have to; love is not afraid to touch the unwashed, grimy hand when the other person finally reaches out; and love does not give up when the hand pulls back and disappears again- because love knows that there is no stronger force on earth.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Monday, May 5, 2014
I always find it interesting how dating seems to go in cycles. It works like an epidemic- for a few years no one is getting the dating “bug”, and then within a few months almost everyone you know has come down with it. Well, lately I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls and texts from friends; so it must be that time again. I love being able to rejoice with my close friends that were thoughtful enough to let me in on the secret as some of the first to know about their new relationship! However, I do have a certain pet peeve about the cases when I barely remember the person calling- somehow I find it strange when girls I haven’t talked to for years suddenly contact me and invite me to events so that I can see them and their boyfriends together. Not a huge deal, but why didn’t they try to hang out before and instead wait so many years later until they started dating?
I’m afraid that we girls are placing too much identification upon finding that someone special. We feel that we are incomplete if we are single and have finally achieved completion when we get a guy. We want the world to know that who we are is based upon the young man that is by our side.
Okay, let’s admit it- I think most of us single girls have longed to be chosen. When we are overlooked, it feels a lot like the awkward social misfit that is standing with a group of athletically-gifted others on the baseball field. The captains start choosing teams, and one by one the others leave, until one little girl is left standing alone and unchosen. Of course, everyone watching the game has their own reasons for why Miss Lonely was never picked, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was never given a chance to make the team. Believe me, I’ve had well-meaning individuals try to tell me what I should be doing differently so that I can “snag” a guy. I was even told that I scare guys; (well, I personally never thought that I was that scary;).
Friends and family have their own opinions on why you are single- you talk too much, you’re too shy, you’re too bold, you’re too short, you’re too tall, you’re too geeky, you’re too redneck, you’re too independent… and those dear souls never see the beauty in who you actually are. They too have based your success on whether you make the team and get a “Mrs.” stamped on your uniform. So many times I have felt like pleading with aunts and cousins to really look at my heart, look at my love for children, look at my values and standards, look at my love for God, look at my interests, look at my hobbies, look at me for who I actually am and see that I am just as special as the married girls around me. I’m sure you have been there as well!
We can usually handle the outside pressure, but what’s hardest is when we start despising ourselves and our singleness. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. As my mother and I sat with my father in the hospital, I thought about how he had people that loved him there to be with him for hour after hour. If I’m still single when I’m an old lady, there won’t be a husband or children to sit by my side when I’m lying in a hospital bed. There may be friends and nieces or nephews that stop by, but most of the time I will be alone. Being alone starts to scare me because I want someone comforting to always be there to rescue, protect, and cherish me and someone that I can love and honor in return. As friend after friend are “chosen”, I’m left alone to criticize myself and pick out all my flaws until I think that I’m completely worthless. —–I only come to this conclusion though when I base who I am on my relationship status.
Being “chosen” doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else, neither does not being “chosen” make me any less special. Courtship and marriage is a wonderful thing and can blossom out people beautifully, but the core of that person should still be built upon God’s love for them and their love for Him and His plans for their life. I have seen a lot of girls become desperate and plead with or bribe the captain to choose them; eventually he gives in and the girl gets her uniform, but somehow the team is always off-balance and doesn’t work together in harmony. God has a different plan for our lives, young ladies! If He has marriage in mind for you, He will eventually bring the right captain along that will pick you because he sees you for who you are and loves the passions, dreams, and quirks that make you- you. He will see your trust upon your Father’s plans and be enthralled by that. Then your team will win big because it cares about more than the identification of the uniform.
Maybe God doesn’t have a knight in shining armor in the future, but then He will come beside the little girl standing alone and take her hand and make sure she is never alone again. They will walk and talk together, and she will have someone to love, cherish, and protect her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health.
He will love her when she is at her worst, He will laugh when she giggles, He will wipe her tears away when she cries…….He will love His Bride for He has chosen her!