Talking of Roses

(I’m not perfectly certain how Jesus came to receive the name “Rose of Sharon.” I think it’s a misinterpretation of Song of Songs 2:1. But, in any case, I wrote this poem several years ago, referring to Jesus as the Rose of Sharon.)

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
Come see the rose buds that here grow.
They’re plumper than when we looked last time.
It promises beautiful show!
The buds we see now, though, will wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on! 

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
And see all the buds bursting free.
Just look at the colorful petals!
Quite soon they will cloak this rose-tree.
These blossoms, now young, will all wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on!

Come hither, my friend, oh come hither,
Examine these full-opened blooms.
What lovely perfume and bright color!
With time it shall all be consumed.
The roses of earth will all wither:
Our sweet Rose of Sharon lives on!

-Miss Darcy

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Moving Out

Our house is a disaster. Because this weekend is the big move. Everything into boxes to be stored until we close on our new house near the end of February. Good-bye to Rocket City. Hello to suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

Yes, I’m excited about it now. Moving has a certain element of fun. It’s packing that is no fun at all. I’m looking forward to making home in this new place God has called us to.

Meantime, we’ll be staying at a cabin in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee. Very pretty location.

And… No internet access at this cabin. I’m actually thrilled about that. I have a real love-hate relationship with computers, and I think it will be grand fun to ignore e-mail and social media for a month. It’s gonna be good for my head. (And if I surprise myself and get desperate, I can always scare up a coffee shop with WiFi, I suppose.)

I’m planning days of reading books (my suitcase is heavily laden with research books and novels), writing and editing my own stories (word processors work without internet), working on some crafts I’ve meant to do for a long time (time to use up some scrap fabric), washing dishes (therapeutic for me), and playing games with my family.

And maybe, just maybe, some sweet time with Jesus.

See you again in March!

-Miss Darcy

Sold Out

I think I’m going to ramble today. I have a lot to catch up on. Like why I haven’t written a post in nearly two months.

Long story.

Remember when I wrote about moving last summer? (Wow. Hard to believe that was at the end of August.)

We didn’t move. Turned out that job wasn’t a good fit for Daddy, so he resigned after four weeks.

We still knew it was unlikely Dad would get a job here in Huntsville. The town has changed since we lived here several years ago. So we didn’t unpack.

Which turned out to be a wise decision. Dad got a new job, this time on the south side of Nashville, Tennessee. That was November. We finally got our house on the market December 22nd. We had a contract on the 31st.

So now, finally, we’re set to move. The house closes the last day of January. We’ve picked out a new-to-us house in Tennessee. I’m surrounded by boxes and things that need to go in boxes as I write.

That’s the “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version.” Here’s the inside story.

When Dad quit that first job in Tennessee, we had half the house packed. My mind was totally geared for a move.

Then our takeoff was aborted. After we were about fifty feet in the air. The difficulty of the mental shift kinda surprised me. Yesterday we were moving, today we’re not. Okay. Wow. Readjust. We can do this.

While we waited to see what God would do next, I felt like life was sort of on hold. A lot of my things were packed. Furniture was in storage. I don’t want to sound melodramatic. It just felt weird.

Then Daddy got the new job. He was away all week; came home on the weekends. We were trying to ready the house for the market. We had to paint over our beautiful colors with a fashionable, dull, soft gray.

Christmas felt strange with our house only partly decorated and Daddy gone in the weeks before the actual day. I didn’t even blog about the Christmas carols I wanted to share.

It was one of those waiting seasons, ya know? A test, so to speak. And I flunked it.

Somewhere along the line, I let my daily Bible reading slip. I still read almost every day, but not with the same focus, the same investment, as usual. And I noticed the problem, but couldn’t find the motivation to change it.

I quit praying much.

Confession: I still don’t have this prayer thing down. Far from it. You may have noticed I write about reading and studying the Bible on here, but not so much about prayer. That’s because I wouldn’t know what I was talking about. That is, I know how to do it. I just don’t have the confidence that comes from experience. I’ve had spells of consistency, but somehow I don’t make time for it regularly. Problem? Yes. Ouch.

I tried to have joy in the Lord, and I did. I tried to be cheerful, and I was. I wasn’t totally miserable. I just wasn’t flourishing.

And by now, I should know better. Been a Christian for sixteen years. Should have the fundamentals ingrained so I can focus on achieving new heights.

Why do I have to walk the same roads I’ve walked a dozen times before? Fight the same fights? How do I get cold toward Jesus? He died for me!

This morning I was on my knees repenting of half-hearted devotion to Jesus. I’m pretty sure I did that sometime last year. And the year before that. Probably the year before that. It’s getting tiresome, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it again sometime. Ach!

I know part of my problem now is stress. I’m in a coping mode, and things aren’t going to be so vibrant in that case.

Part of the problem is I wrote hardly anything throughout December. That was caused by the stress, but it became a vicious circle because writing is good for my mental health. And I wasn’t making time for it.

Part of the problem is my health. I haven’t cared for my body–way too much sugar, not enough exercise. With my family’s history, I shouldn’t be playing games.

But I fear part of the problem is laziness. (I can’t believe I just said that.) Guess I never outgrew my childhood besetting sin.

Probably, this is more than you cared to know. I’m not real fond of spill-your-guts blog posts because they tend to sound depressing. Sometimes I feel like, in the name of honesty, we share too much. Too much of us, not enough of Jesus.

But I am trying to be honest. They say it’s good for you. And I don’t indulge much, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Around the beginning of the year, friends were talking about a word for the year. Something inspiring or convicting. Something either you feel is right to choose, or even something God specifically gives you. I’ve never done that.

But this year I have a phrase. Can’t say God spoke to me audibly, but it fits what I’m going through right now.

Sold Out.

Sold out to Jesus, of course. Not to this world’s pleasures. Not to life’s trials. Not to my own whims. But to Jesus.

Do I know exactly what that looks like? Obviously not completely. But I reckon Jesus can show me if I’m willing to take the instruction. Am I scared? Yes, actually, although it’s silly because the best life possible is one surrendered to its Creator. I want to keep my eyes on the eternal Prize.

The New Year is a good time to try again at something you’ve failed before. Thank the Lord His grace is sufficient, and that He perfects His strength in our weakness. I’ve got plenty of weakness.

And I don’t want to end on a depressing note. Because I believe with all my heart that we can have victory in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen it in others, and I’ve experienced it myself.

I want to find it again. And I will, not because of my own striving, but because Jesus is faithful.

I think I’ll be praying for a lot of grace and strength this year. 🙂

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2017

I’m gonna try to keep this short and sweet. (Here’s where you roll your eyes at the idea of me writing anything short.)

In semi-random order, I am thankful for…

  • …the stunning truth that the Creator of the galaxies considers me someone worth dying for.
  • …my priceless relationships with friends and family. I may be an introvert and a writer, but friends that exist only on paper and in imagination don’t really compare to friends who breathe the same air I do.
  • …grace. From God, from my family, from random strangers. I make mistakes. I need grace.
  • …the necessities: food and clothing. I also have a warm home, hot water, a car, modern conveniences, technology, and a host of other things. Maybe if I didn’t have these I could justify my complaining. As it is, I have no reason to complain.
  • …language, written and spoken. Communication through language is an awesome gift from God that I usually take for granted. And it would leave a huge hole if it suddenly disappeared.
  • …the Bible. I don’t know how I’d live without this Book. And it’s in my mother tongue. Invaluable.
  • …that I can write. Even if no one else reads it, writing is a deep source of joy to me.
  • …beauty in nature. God didn’t have to make the world pretty. But, oh, didn’t He?
  • …rest. Sometimes I need it desperately, and it is sweet.
  • …music. Music affects the soul in a way words can’t. Which makes it far more powerful than we think.
  • …health. So many don’t have it, and I’ll enjoy it as long as it’s mine.

Under three hundred words. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Reformation Fire

(Because I’m in haste today, I present you with a poem I wrote six years ago. Hope you enjoy!)

A man from England, John Wycliffe,
A learned man was he.
He taught his students at Oxford
About theology.
He wanted to seek for the truth
And always uphold right;
He studied well the Bible’s words—
And so the fire ignites! 

The clergymen who ruled the church
Were rich and powerful;
They loved their riches more that Christ,
Which made John sorrowful.
The common people did not know
How to find salvation:
Scriptures were writ in Latin and
They had no education.

Now John translated the Bible
So common folks could read
Of sin and wrath and great judgment
And Jesus’ blood we need.
John saw that the priests and bishops
And pope loved pow’r and wealth;
They forgot God, neglected man
And his spiritual health. 

John saw and was indignant, he
Rebuked the clergymen.
The pope said he could teach no more
And thus he silenced him.
But truth can never be suppressed—
The things that John had said,
They traveled to Bohemia.
And so the fire spread! 

‘Twas there a young man named Jan Hus
Heard of John Wycliffe’s words.
And at his university
Soon all the students heard.
The teachings, they were much admired
By Jan especially.
He believed the Bible was the
Only authority. 

He widely proclaimed these teachings:
The common folks were glad.
The church’s teachings were challenged:
The officials were mad!
So they tried Jan for heresy
And burned him at the stake.
He died praying and singing—
A martyr for Christ’s sake. 

But though they might could kill the man,
They could not quench the flame.
The pow’r and truth of the gospel
Will always be the same.
Let us remember John Wycliffe,
Who walked the narrow way,
And Jan Hus for reviving that
Great flame that burns today!

-Miss Darcy

His Child

Sitting in their favorite coffee shop, Marc stared across the table at his girlfriend. Her words echoed around the vacuum they had created in his brain. “What did you say?”

“I’m pregnant, Marc.” Lily clutched the edge of the table as she leaned forward. “What are we going to do?”

He still couldn’t grasp it. “But, how? I thought you took—”

“Of course I did!” Tears flooded her blue eyes. “And I’m the first girl in the history of contraceptives to have it not work.” She blinked furiously and sniffed. “But the important thing is what are we going to do about it?”

“I don’t know.” He held out his palms to ward off the disaster barreling toward him. “I’m not ready to support a child.”

She drew back. “And you think I am?”

“No, but, Lily, I have three more years of college.”

“So do I.” She looked away, wrapping her arms around herself. “But because I’m the girl, it’s my problem.”

“Lily, no—” He reached for her hand.

She ignored him and grabbed her purse off the floor, slinging its strap over her shoulder. “Fine. If you can’t handle a child, you don’t have to. But get this.” She met his gaze, her eyes star-bright with tears and emotion. “We’re done.”

“Lily.” He stood as she did and grabbed her arm.

She twisted free and hurried between the tables, her boot heels clicking on the tile.

Vaguely aware he didn’t want a huge scene, Marc dropped into his chair. He sipped his latte and found it too sweet. He needed to go home. In the morning he’d call Lily, when she’d had time to calm down.

~

Marc called Lily three times over the course of the morning. He left a voicemail each time. She didn’t answer. At lunch time he sent a text.

“Lily, call me, babe. I’m sorry about last night. I was too shocked. We need to talk. We can handle this. I love you!”

He even paid attention to punctuation. In a minute, she replied.

“Drop it, Marc. You are so close to getting your number blocked. I’ll call you when I’m good and ready.”

Marc dropped the phone in his lap, propped his elbows on his knees, and rested his forehead on his hands. God, what do I do?

Where had that come from? Marc hadn’t done any serious praying since, oh, about the time he and Lily started sleeping together. They’d both known it was wrong—they were good church kids. Even now, no one knew their relationship wasn’t on the straight and narrow.

And now he would come whining to God because his own sin had landed him in more trouble than he could handle? Yeah. He’d always looked down on people who did that.

Now here he was, sorry for his sin, but mostly just because he’d been caught. Well, maybe it was a little genuine. Still, he wouldn’t drag God into this. He’d get himself and Lily straightened out, and then he’d get things right with God.

~

That night he went to the Wednesday night Bible study for young adults at his church. He smiled and greeted his friends like always, taking his usual seat. Except Lily wasn’t beside him.

“Hey, Marc, where’s Lily?” Pastor Dan asked.

“Um.” Lily would kill him if he hinted at the truth, but he hated to lie bold-faced in church. “She’s not feeling too good. Better put her on the prayer list.”

Pastor Dan wrote Lily’s name on the whiteboard under “Sick.” Lily was sick at heart, no doubt. Marc wished she’d call him.

The lesson was about opening up to brothers and sisters in Christ. Confessing faults. Praying for each other. Accountability. A community to lean on.

Marc kinda wanted to talk to Pastor Dan after class. But he couldn’t yet. Couldn’t shatter Pastor Dan’s image of him. Couldn’t face God the way Pastor Dan would expect him to.

Maybe he’d open up next week, once he and Lily had figured out what to do.

~

Marc woke up late Thursday morning. Call her.

That’s what he wanted to do. Call Lily and promise to do the right thing—provide for his child, even marry Lily if that’s what she wanted. He’d thought it over for hours last night. They could make this work.

Call her.

“I can’t,” he argued aloud. “She said she’d do the calling. Cool your jets, Marc.”

He tossed back his blankets and sat up. He reached for his phone, hoping he’d somehow slept through a call from her last night.

He hadn’t.

Call her.

He pulled up their texting conversation. He wanted to send just three words: I love you.

But she’d told him in no uncertain terms to leave her alone. Marc stood and headed for the shower.

~

It was four in the afternoon when Marc’s phone started playing Lily’s ringtone. Finally. He slammed his textbook shut and swiped his finger across the phone screen. “Babe, I’m so glad you called.”

“Problem solved, Marc.” Her voice held a cheerfulness even he could tell was fake. “I had an abortion this morning.”

Oh, God! An invisible fist socked his chest. He couldn’t breathe. “What?” he choked out.

“I. Had. An. Abortion.” She clipped the words.

“Why?” He finally gulped air into his lungs. “Lily, why’d you do it?”

“Because you said you weren’t ready, and I couldn’t raise a child on my own, idiot.”

Oh, God! Marc’s whole body felt sick. “But—”

“Don’t start, Marc. If you wanted something different, you should have said so before. Not now.”

“You told me not to call you!”

“And you didn’t love me enough to help me even when I said I didn’t want help.”

Female logic. No sense. Yet it doubled his guilt. “I’m sorry, Lily.”

“Sorry? Yeah.” She gave a hard laugh. “If you want to help, you can pay half the bill.”

“Pay for the murder of my own child?”

“So now it’s your child? Now that I’ve had the mortification of an abortion? You weren’t so quick to claim it Tuesday night.”

Oh, God, I’m a fool. An idiot.

“Marc, I never want to see you again. Do you hear me?”

“Lily, please.” He was a wreck. He couldn’t handle this.

“Don’t you dare try to speak to me or contact me. Ever. I hate you, Marc Johnson!”

The phone beeped in his ear. He laid it beside him on the couch. Lily couldn’t hate him more than he hated himself. He had allowed his own child to be killed.

His child.

Why hadn’t he called her this morning? Why hadn’t he supported her when she first told him?

Idiot! Moron! Sorry excuse for a man!

He sank to his knees and slumped forward until he lay prone on the carpet. Tears burned his eyes, scalded his face. A sharp-cornered lump swelled in his throat.

Oh, God! Oh, God, what have I done?

~

Alone in her bedroom, Lily cradled a soft pillow against her body. Her violated, robbed, hurting body. Her soul was so empty. Every heartbeat stabbed her with physical pain.

She had lost Marc, and her baby, and God.

Tucking her face under the corner of the pillow, she sobbed.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Every day thousands of unplanned pregnancies end in hopelessness. In many–perhaps most–cases, the father of the unborn child is all for the abortion, or at least indifferent. But it ends up hurting him, too. The fathers’ stories are often left untold, but if you’d like to read some true cases, I refer you to Silent No More’s testimonies. Check the “Fathers of Aborted Children” box, and click the search button.

P.P.S. I would be utterly remiss if, after telling of the hopelessness, I did not tell of the hope offered in Jesus Christ. It is indeed wrong to take a baby’s life in the womb, just as it is wrong to kill a grown person in cold blood, but for all sin Jesus offers forgiveness.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to bring condemnation, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)  No matter what the sin, Jesus’ blood can carry it far away from you, “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  If anyone reading this has lost a child to abortion, I pray you will run to Jesus. His love is the kind that never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Aurora’s Folly, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I wrote about Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and how short-sighted she was. When she discovered she was a princess, all she could do was cry over a man she’d only met once. And we are so prone to be like her. When God asks us to follow Him fully, all we can think of are the worldly pleasures we’ll lose instead of the eternal riches we gain.

Yes, such behavior is foolish.

It’s also dangerous.

See, after Aurora cried her first storm, her aunts took her to the palace where she would be presented to her parents that evening. They sneak her in carefully, lest the witch Maleficent spy them. Aurora is still miserable. Her aunts give her a gold crown, symbolic of her royal rights and royal duties. She looks at herself in the mirror, puts her head down on the table, and bursts into tears again, poor thing.

So her aunts kindly give her a moment to herself before she actually has to meet her parents and the man she’s betrothed to.

And it’s then, when Aurora is weak, sad, and not herself, that Maleficent comes. She comes invisibly with a bizarre, mesmerizing ball of green fire. Aurora sits up, entranced. Then she stands and follows the dancing green ball through hidden passages in the castle up to a tower where the ball becomes the fateful spinning wheel whose spindle is to prick Aurora’s finger.

By now, her fairy aunts are looking for her, calling to her. But Maleficent’s voice bidding her to touch the spindle is more powerful, aided by the enchantment. Aurora touches it and is instantly cast into a magical, ageless sleep.

You see, Satan is a huge proponent of hitting a fellow when he’s down.

Bad guys in stories sometimes have a sliver of conscience left. Satan doesn’t.

In fact, the devil’s absolute favorite time to strike is when his victim is already weak.

Aurora was weakened because of her grief. But it was self-imposed grief. Sorrow because she couldn’t have what she wanted exactly when she wanted it.

Following God requires us to give up the things of this world. And when we pout about it, or downright refuse to do it, we put a wedge between ourselves and the God who loves us so much.

What starts as slight discontentment can fester into self-pity, depression, frustration, even resentment or rebellion towards God. All of those things can quickly distance us from our Lord.

When we are not walking close to Jesus, we are dangerously weak.

And Satan is only too happy to attack when we have drifted away from our Source of power.

It’s easy, and tempting, to think that a little complaining or a little rebellion won’t hurt anything. After all, it’s such a little bit.

But little things grow. Ever watched a bruise on a peach consume the whole fruit with rot? Ick.

But with Jesus, there is always hope.

Even if the devil has come in our weakness and cast us into a horrid pit from which we have no energy to rise, Jesus can pull us out. We need only to call to Him in repentance, and He will come and rescue us. He won’t leave us even if we have to endure certain inevitable consequences.

Still, don’t you think prevention is more desirable?

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Here are the clips of Aurora’s arrival home and Aurora’s enchantment, in case you wish to see them. It’s a mercy I never saw the latter as a young child–would have creeped me out to no end.