On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

God’s Choir | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Community Chronicle in the June, 2020 edition and the Rains County Leader on June 23, 2020:

Porch gliderLast year, our front porch began to list to the southeast. Investigation showed that the support post on that corner was rotting away. We discussed our options with a local handyman, and several months and several thousand dollars later, we had a beautiful covered porch furnished with an indoor/outdoor rug, two padded rocking chairs and a comfy glider for two. We have spent many happy hours on our new addition, especially during this time of social distancing when God has blessed us with a lot of porch-sitting weather.

One morning, I was rocking and reading when I was distracted by a birdsong I didn’t Birdsongrecognize. It sounded like someone had pressed a key on a synthesizer and held it for a couple of seconds. The song continued for a minute or two with brief breaks between notes, but I was never able to find the singer. While I was looking for him, I noticed another bird singing what could have been a riff from a doo-wop song. I closed my book for a while and just listened, and I heard more birdsongs than I could count. (more…)

Living in Fear, Part 2 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 12, 2020:

RIPHas anyone ever asked you if you’re afraid of death? I think all of us have dealt with that question at some time in our lives, even if it was only in our own minds. My stock answer has been, “I’m not afraid of dying, but I don’t look forward to the process.” Twice in my life I’ve had a chance to test the validity of that answer, and I’d say it pretty much passed the test.

The first incident happened about fifteen years ago while we were living in Florida. I woke up around 4:00 am feeling really odd. There was no pain, but I felt as if someone was doing a very uncoordinated tap dance in my chest. David was dabbling in currency trading at that time and often rose very early to check the foreign exchanges before they closed. I lay in the darkness for a while, taking a mental inventory of symptoms and feelings, and finally went into the office. (more…)

Living in Fear, Part 1 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 5, 2020:

The End Is NearAt the risk of being melodramatic, I had a momentary brush with death this week. I’m fine, but of course, I wanted to write about the experience. Before I tell you about it, though, I want to share my feelings about fear. Here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago; check back next week for the rest of the story. How’s that for a teaser?

***

The first time I remember being scared of an apocalyptic event was in the late 1950s. I was in the fifth grade, and some small-time prophet predicted the end of the world. I had been in Bible-teaching churches all my life, but my Sunday School lessons hadn’t yet covered end-time prophecies. And if we had studied the part where Jesus says that no one knows the day or the hour of the end except God, I had been day-dreaming that day. For whatever reason, I lived in fear for a while, casting furtive glances into the clouds during recess until the prophesied doomsday had passed.

Since then, the world has survived many end-of-the-world predictions, from the Protective clothingscientific community as well as the prophetic community. According to those forecasts, we should have long since been choked to death by pollution, frozen by a new ice age, drowned by the rising oceans, fried by the loss of the ozone layer, or suffered a worse fate at the hands of an angry God. There were also wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq as well as epidemics like the Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flu, HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu (H1N1), and whatever new type of flu that was impervious to the previous year’s vaccine. (more…)

And it was good! with Stacy Rolen, Guest Columnist

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2020:

writers blockThe coronavirus isolation has not been kind to my creativity. I write about people and life and community, and my community is now limited to David and Kitty. I love them both dearly, and they provide plenty of writing material – but I’ve used most of the good stuff in my books, so I depend on outside contacts for inspiration. Consequently, when I sat down at my computer Sunday afternoon, I would write a sentence, delete it, and go to the kitchen to do a little prep work for dinner.

This went on until everything was in either the oven or the InstantPot, and I was giving serious thought to running an old column. Then I clicked over to Facebook and saw a post from Stacy Rolen, wife of Pastor Jason Rolen, both of Believers’ Baptist Church. As I read her thoughts about Easter in isolation, I wanted to share her words with my readers. I messaged her, and she graciously agreed to be a guest columnist this week.

By way of explanation, Believers’ has been doing drive-in church for several weeks. TylerDrive in churchJones, BBC worship leader and media expert, pre-records Pastor Jason’s message and several praise songs which he then submits to KRER 102.5. On Sunday mornings, the church family gathers on the parking lot where they stay in their cars and attend church through the magic of radio.

One last note – the Rolen family is made up of Jason, Stacy, Bree Allie who is a junior at Alba-Golden where Stacy teaches, and Brady – aka Bubba – who is working on his masters degree at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas. Following is a look into Easter with Rolens – and it’s very good.

We talked this week about how crazy it felt to not have the same kind of Easter morning we have had for every year of our lives. For the first time ever, there would be no plans made of what to wear, who gets up when to make this sunrise service, this breakfast, this praise team practice, this Sunday School class, or that service. We decided that we would just sit on the deck to see the sunrise together, in the quiet and the still. And it would be good!

Then the alarm went off, and the rain hit against the roof, and the thunder roared. So we snuggled in tighter and snoozed. And snoozed. Slept five hours past Jason’s normal Sunday morning alarm. It was different, but it was good.

Finally got up and ready for the day. A different kind of Easter morning. No fanfare. Caught an early service message on TV, followed by our normal Sunday morning Spotify playlist – but this time we were at home, together, and it was good.

All showered, all dressed for a different kind of Easter. But it was good!

Rolens on EasterHow wonderful to see our church family! We miss everyone so much, but getting to gather in the parking lot for waves of hello to those whom we hold so dearly – it was beautiful! The smiles, the joy – it surely does the heart good! Then came Tyler’s voice over the radio, and I wept because it was beautiful. All this was followed by the reminder from Jason of the final act of humiliation which brought the first act of exaltation to Christ our Savior! A reminder that in these different days, our God is the same! He is still seated at the right hand of the Father. He is the same – yesterday, today, and forever. For He is risen indeed!

Easter 2020 will be a year to remember. We sure do miss our family today! We sure do miss the fellowship with our church family! I SURE DO miss my Bubba whom I haven’t seen in forever!!!

Times are different. But…things are still good. And that is beautiful! Love you all!

Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your Easter morning with us.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

He Is Risen! (Video – Then Came the Morning)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.      Mark 16:1-6

 

It’s Getting Real | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 24, 2020:

cancelledLast week I published a light-hearted list of ways to use surplus toilet paper. At that point, COVID-19 had not really touched my day-to-day life. It’s true that we had altered our anniversary getaway plans from a trek to Florida to see friends and on to Kentucky to see The Ark and the Creation Museum to a quick visit to Louisiana to say hello to David’s sisters. I also had to do my weekly mentoring at Dairy Queen instead of the school since Spring Break had been extended, but other than that, my life was pretty much unchanged.

In the last seven days, though, I’ve seen almost all of our church activities cancelled for at least two weeks: AWANA and Student Ministry, Home Group Bible Study, Ladies Bible Study, Sunday School, Morning Worship, and Sunday evening study. Along with those cancellations, many events bit the dust: the SISTAs Fund Raiser Bake Sale, AWANA Photo Scavenger Hunt, and the Student Ministry Spring Retreat. Secular activities and events including the Friends of the Library March meeting and the Semi-Annual Book Sale scheduled in April were cancelled. And as of Monday, the Senior Center will pass out Grab & Go meals but will be closed for all other purposes – and just when David and I are beginning to see results from our workout routines, the gym has closed for at least two weeks. (more…)

Twas the Night Before Christmas | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:

Kid counting sheepAs a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.

Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)

Christmas Boxes | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:

Ralph and Alva HaganWhen I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.

It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of boxing-day-1901the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.

Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. (more…)

Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Marked for Life | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 18, 2019:

our father's childrenI’m home with all bones intact but with a heart that has more marks than I can count. Let me back up a step or two in case you didn’t read my last column. I went to Royal Family Kids Camp last week, a very special place where kids in foster care can spend five days and four nights just being kids and having fun in a safe environment. In 2013 I served as a counselor and came home with a broken ankle and a broken heart. This time I was the camp scribe. I wasn’t as actively involved in the organized games and other strenuous activities – and David was home praying that he would get his wife back in one piece – so I came home physically undamaged. But as I watched and listened with the eyes and ears of a writer, I saw and heard the struggles, heartaches, and triumphs of more children and counselors than before when I was focused on the two campers that were my responsibility. There are more stories than I can write, but here are a few.

“Jane” was so afraid of the water that she brought her own life jacket and continuously Pink wristbandquestioned her counselor about the lifeguard’s ability to save her if she got into trouble. All campers are required to pass a swim test in order to venture into the deeper end of the pool or to go over to the pond. She wanted to take the test, but she was afraid, so she practiced long and hard. By Wednesday, she was ready to try. Everyone in the pool area had seen her struggle, and they all stopped to watch. When she passed, the cheers and applause were deafening. The wrist band she earned became her pink badge of courage, and she showed it to anyone who would look the rest of the week. (more…)

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