Hurray for the weekend! I am so glad that it is finally here. It has been a hard week of pushing myself through the fatigue to spend a few minutes here and there trying to get something accomplished. At times it seemed to take every ounce of strength I had to accomplish the smallest task. And for what?
Though I put forth my best effort, nothing I did seemed to workout. After spending hours pushing myself to the limit, even though I know the results will be hours of intense pain, I find myself still standing in the same unenviable place of total dependence upon my parents for my food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
Some weeks are not so bad. The effort required takes a little less toll, and by God’s grace I enjoy a minuscule reward. But on weeks like this the effort exerted and the total lack of results rise up before me, and I cannot help but feel like my life has been a failure. As I consider the hours of sweat and tears, the times I pushed myself out of a warm bed at 4 AM, went 12 plus hours without food, all in the hopes of becoming a productive member of society, all in the hopes of one day proudly being able to turn around and take care of my parents like they had me. And see that despite my faithful hours of study, and persevering effort, I have yet to take one step forward, I cannot help but wonder, what was the worth? What was the reason for my existence? If every effort in my life was going to result in failure, why is that God created me?
It is because of frustrating and rather depressing weeks where I spent ten hours sweltering, and seemed to end up taking five steps backward, that this poem was written. As I looked back at my life of constant trying, and wondered, if something happened to me, what would my legacy be? What will the world and those whom I love remember? Is it possible that even though to human eyes my life may appear to be nothing but loss and failure, that one day, when I stand before the judgement throne, that seeming loss will actually be shown to be a success?
I hope that you enjoy this humble poem of contemplation. And that it causes you to examine your heart and life, to determine what your legacy will be. And to ask yourself if on the day of judgment your life will prove to be a success or failure.
For the past few months, the world as we know it has spun into chaos. Our eyes, our ears, and our hearts have been overwhelmed by words of fear and scenes most terrifying to behold. From the threat of an invisible killer to the hungering flames consuming homes and business’s our senses have been overwhelmed with the realization that our world is in danger of spinning out of control and descending into a heart stopping chaos.
At times is feels as if every pillar of our society, and every thread of the fabric that holds our society together is being torn apart. From the familiar rhythm of society, the comfort of the daily routine, to our favorite corner shop, all has been pulled out from under us. Leaving behind a sense of confusion as we blindly seek to inch our way around this unfamiliar world where every landmark has been or is in the process of being removed.
No matter what side you stand on, these times have a power to impress the heart with its deepening sense of uncertainty and humble us with the realization of how fragile is the framework of the world we like to believe is iron strong. Overnight our society went from reaching new heights, robust and seemingly unbreakable, to shuttered and broken. In a matter of days we tumbled from a financial pinnacle to a financial dump. Truly it can be said of the last few weeks that men’s hearts are failing them for fear and love of mankind for their fellow man, is indeed in the process of growing cold.
During theses trying times, it is worth taking a moment to be grateful for one bright spot. And that is that even during this nightmarish times, there are those who are willingly to lay their all on the line. That there are those who are willing to face the ire of the mob, to endure the scorn of the crowd, who are willing to endure threats, insults, and and to be pelted by rock and bricks, knowing that their very life is on the line.
Why? Just to save the lifeless bones of an ancient building or to keep a pile of bauble from becoming useless ruble? No, but to save that which is most important, the lives of their fellow man. To these heroes, who race towards the devouring flame, I dedicate these humble words of thanks.
Disclaimer: This article contains an affiliate link to Maze Crazy. If you should choose to purchase it, I would earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I have used this product for nearly a year before deciding that I liked this program, and becoming an affiliate.
About a year ago I learned about a program called Maze Craze. Maze Craze is a program that allows you to create square mazes and with or without a solution, that are simple enough for a very small child, to the extremely difficult.
Maze Crazy allows you to make very simple mazes that are perfect for very young children, to extremely difficult mazes that are perfect challenge for the serious puzzler.
The nice thing about this program is that you keep the rights to the mazes that you make. This means that you can not only make mazes for your own personal enjoyment, but to sell as well. You can use your mazes to create maze or puzzle books, activity sheets, or designs for cups, pillows, t-shirts, and more.
Here is an example of an experimental maze book, where I took a poem about adventure, pictures of my adorable dog Happy, and some of the simpler mazes that I had created using Maze Crazy, to create a unique children’s book.
The mazes are created as convenient PNG files that can easily be inserted as is, onto a pdf making file such as ADOBE, Smallpdf, or Sodapdf and transformed into a file and uploaded to KDP. If you would like to make the mazes more interesting, the PNG file can be uploaded to a program like Canva or affinity publisher where other elements can be added to make your puzzles more interesting.
With a bit of imagination, you can turn a simple square maze, into an exciting adventure.
What really makes this program exciting is the fact that the creator of Maze Crazy is working to improve this program. Taking the maze crazy experience to the next level by giving the maze creator the option to turn the standard line maze into a maze made out of flowers or clouds.
And an addition that has really improved the value of Maze Crazy, you now have the ability to alter the maze the shape and path of the maze. Giving you creative control over both the shape and style of your maze.
Once again, if you want to increase the creativity of your puzzle, you can upload your maze as a PNG file in a program such as Canva or Affinity Publisher. Add a decorative background, insert some interesting elements such as numbers, letters, symbols, or pictures in or around your maze. And before you know it, you have created a unique maze that can tell a story, spread a message of love, or the adventure of your choice.
With Maze Crazy, you have the power to tell the story you want.
If one were to describe the news cyle of the past few weeks, it would be that it is doom and gloom on steroids’. Fear of the invisible, fear of getting too close, fear of going outside, fear of breathing, fear of touching, fear of work, fear of not working, to fear of fearing fear, has filled the headlines for the past few months as through the news we live and breath the pandemic.
Locked away inside of the same four walls, wondering when and if life will ever get back to normal, it sometimes seems like life has been permanently put on pause. Bombarded day after day with words and images of fear, filled with worry about what bad news tomorrow might bring, and how close to the brink of financial disaster we might come, it is easy to forget the little pleasure that life once held, and to think that sorrow and worry will forevermore be our unenviable lot. To believe that the pandemic has forever wiped away hope and joy from our hearts. Deprived of the warmth of gathering together with our loved ones, of sharing time with our best friends, and the simple comfort of an encouraging hug, it is easy for fear to caste its devastating shadow and take over our weary hearts.
In this hour of unprecedented trial, it is tempting to think that God has left us to suffer on our own. That He has abandoned us to be consumed by the contagion, bankruptcy, hunger, and fear. Yet in His word God promises that
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13
Promising us that no matter what, He is there, holding our hands in the hour of trial, and helping us to safely make it through the hour of trial.
In the book of Psalms He gives us the encouraging promise,
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. Psalms 34:7
telling us that in our time of need, He will send His angel to stand guard over us, and shield us. Protecting us from any needless sorrow or woe. Allowing only the hardships and trials, that with His aid, will remove the dross from our characters and transform us into jewels fit for the heavenly kingdom.
And while it is not easy to endure the refiners purifying touch, we can take comfort in knowing that like Job, there is a hedge about us protecting us from many unseen arrows. And set our hearts firm in the promise that although unseen, as we walk through the treacherous valley of death, we can take courage knowing God is by our side, holding our hand as He promised. And like the Paslmist we can declare
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalms 23:4
And one day soon, when we victoriously come out the other side of this depressing valley, we can fill the heaven’s with God’s praises. Our faith stronger, our hope brighter for the realization that God’s promise is true. And if it is true that He will hold our right hand in our hour of need, then His promise that one day He will come again,
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John14:1-3
and bring us to live with Him must also be true. And then what joy, what rapturous joy will fill our hearts, as with great longing will look forward to the day when the heaven’s are filled with His glory, and our best friend, our brother in sorrow, and our glorious Redeemer, comes to rescue us from this world of pain, to bring us home to live with Him in a land where death, sickness, and sorrow are unknown!
There is something about the ending of the old and the beginning of the new year that causes us to pause for a moment and reflect upon our lives and to ask ourselves the all important question, is my life a success? Have I made the right choices and earned the right to call my life a success?
With great in trepidation we pull out the familiar yard stick and measure our lives with those of our friends and neighbors. Fully believing that if we can check all of the right boxes, we can stand among the proud, the few, and declare that we have earned the coveted award of success.
The problem is, that no matter how many boxes we check off, the badge of success seems to elude us. We might have a beautiful home and family, have earned the love and devotion of our dearest loved ones, and for a moment we bubble over with pride, confident that we have reached the coveted mark. But then we turn and look at those around us and realize that while our house is lovely, it is not nearly as nice as so and so, that our furniture is plain and drab when compared to our neighbor, and that our income is a mere pittance when compared with that of our sister or brother.
Suddenly, as we compare ourselves with those around us, the warm glow of delight fades and a cold chill of hopelessness takes hold. As we realize that no matter how hard we strive, no matter how hard we try, we cannot grasp that elusive star called success.
Sadly, as long as our measuring tape is viewing our accomplishments against that of others, as long as we make the keeping up with the Jones our mark of success, we will never be able to look with satisfaction upon our lives. Because no matter how hard we strive, no matter how far we climb, there will always be some corner of our life where we will find that someone is standing taller and walking a few steps ahead.
Unfortunately we have come to believe that success is being the richest, the brightest, the fastest rising member of our circle. But this view is like a pile of fools gold glimmering in the noonday sun. It is full of glamour and glitz, but the pursuit of it will leave you feeling hollow, stressed, empty, and burdened down with disappointment.
Instead of taking out the chart and comparing every corner of our lives with those around us, it would be far more valuable to take out the measuring stick and take a good hard look at ourselves. To study where we have grown, and where we have come up short. To look and see how many times we have fallen hard and gotten up. How many times we have made an embarrassing mistake, and even though we wanted to run away from the discomforting glare of the crowd, stuck it out and determinedly got the job done.
Because as wonderful as it would be to taste the success of landing the dream job that will allow us to buy the life that we desire, it is far more valuable to become a success at knowing when to stand our grown, of gaining the muscles of endurance that will allow us to build a relationship with those we love that can stand the bitterest trials of life, and to fall flat on our face, and pick ourselves up and stand firm and tall.
Summer, that great time of year when warm breezes blow and sunny days beckon one and all to roam a vibrant green world as busy birds flutter through the trees singing their merry song of life. Where visions of melodic waves crashing against the shore and refreshing dips in cool ocean waters fill the imagination.
But for me summer is a time of frustration. As the thermostat rises and the humidity climbs so does the deep ache in my bones. Instead of lounging in a chair by the refreshing waters of a crystal clear pool, summer finds me curled up in a tight ball with a steam of tears threatening to run down my pain contorted cheeks. And in sorrow I watch from the sidelines as the days of summer slip away, never to return.
Frustrated I dream of long walks by the ocean, and of typing by the pool as I sip a refreshing glass of ice cold pineapple fruit shake. My hot brow desperate wishing for the chance to cool off in a shady corner of the pool, even though I know that my achy bones would never allow it.
Haunted by images of the life I long for and worn out by the increasingly debilitating ache that sores with the thermometer, disappointment threatens to engulf me. Oh how I long for a normal life, to know the joy of living with strength and purpose instead of tip toeing around my endless discomfort. As I look at my empty platter and think about how empty my life is of the active joy that I long for, a deep depression threatens to take hold.
But it is at this moment that God in His mercy steps in. With tender love He points my throbbing head upward and reminds me that trying as these days of frustration are, this need not be my unhappy end.With love he reminds me of the promise that one day soon I may rise like a mighty eagle unhampered by the chains of pain that currently hold me back.
Slowly, as I take my eyes off my current suffering and by faith behold the glorious days of promise, my frustration gives way to joy. And although pain still racks my body, my heart begins to sing songs of praise. As my imagination is carried past the fleeting dreams of an earthly summer and carried to that which shall stand the test of time. No longer concentrating upon the sorrow of having been born into a world of pain, I look ahead to that precious day when the clouds do part to reveal a vast host of angels whose song makes the world to tremble. And at last my weary burdens I shall be able to put down, as with the freedom of endless youth I bounce, and a heart filled with joy I fall before my Redeemer and pour out my soul in gratitude that my days of pain and heartache He melted away and transformed into the wonder of the dawn of endless, pain free youth!
Only three months into the new year and 2019 has proved to be a hard year of trial and change.2018 had ended with an ominous tone as the last few weeks of the year saw me lose SSI as well as Medicaid, just as an injury put me in a wheel chair and I was hit by two infections in one month. The stress and fear was intense for me and my family as for the first time in years, we started the new year with the intense worry about how we would pay our bills and the fear of my living life as a chronic invalid with no medical care.
But those fears were quickly put on the back burner as one family member after another was hit by health issues. With one member being transferred from an assisted living facility to a nursing home due to a fall only weeks after moving in, meanwhile another was going blind. Before we could even process that news we learned that another relative was in need of surgery and had been unable to work for weeks due to a major infection that had required a pick line to be inserted so he could give himself antibiotics 3 times a day. At the same time we learned that one of my young cousins, barely in her twenties, was at times having to use a wheelchair due thanks to several health issues including Lyme disease. But worse of all, even though none of us wanted to say it, it was becoming clear that my Grandmother’s health was slipping and that her days are in the process of drawing to a close.
Everywhere I turned it seemed like the health and independence of those I love was under attack. And my heart ached as I thought of how quickly life could change. And what a season of change it was as on top of everyone being hit by a sever case of bronchitis that put my Mother in the hospital for a week, we received the news that my sister was now a diabetic. Having lost both of my Grandfather’s and several relatives to that fearful disease, it was very disheartening news to know that I know must worry that my sister had been hit by this cruel ailment so young.
My one hope was that after being hit with so many trials in such a short time, the worst of the year must at last be behind us. And I was hopeful that the rest of the year would now prove a time of joy. On this note I turned my attention to my nearing birthday. While the thrill of getting a year old is not what it used to be when I was 9 or 10, I was looking forward to spending a relaxing day with my family playing games and enjoying a day of planned meals that would give me one day off from the seemingly endless misery of combing through my long allergy list to determine what I would eat.
My birthday started on a good note, as for the first time in years at least one meal had successfully been prepared in advance and I was strangely feeling good. While my Mother made my birthday cake, I dreamed of a lazy afternoon playing board games and watching some of our favorite You Tube programs. Lunch was delicious. The homemade collard green lasagna was the perfect treat. But a few bites in a strange feeling began to take hold and by the time I took my first bite of birthday cake an all to familiar feeling of nausea was taking hold. I had not even finished my cake when the feeling became so strong that my shivering form had to pace the floor.
In sorrow my family turned to me, knowing that my day was ruined. Their hearts went out to me as I paced the floor as calmly as I could manage, hoping the increasingly intense misery would soon fade. Unfortunately matters quickly became worse as a strange flushed feeling rose from my chest and the room disappeared. Suspicious of the cause I pulled out my blood pressure cuff to reveal that my pulse was racing at 159 beats per minute.
I quickly took a pill for my heart, and hoped that relief would soon come. Minutes passed and the misery continued to increase. Fearful of where the misery was heading I quietly grabbed my pocket book intending to place it on the table on the rare chance I would have to go to ER. But the moment I walked into the room with my pocket book my Mother and sister immediately reacted with concern asking me if I was going to ER. To my surprise I heard myself answering in the affirmative. Wondering at my odd response, I prepared to head to ER. Worrying all the time my foolishness in declaring that I needed to go even though I had no job or insurance to pay the bill.
The ride to ER quickly allayed my fears as I found myself desperately wishing to be at the destination. My sister from her position behind me, seemed to sense that something was fearfully wrong, as she worriedly asked me if I was still here. I did my best to downplay her fears by reassuring her that I was indeed alive, but her anxiety was still heightened and she urged that I should be taken to the nearest ER instead of the one we were heading to which was 10 miles away. I remained quiet, not wanting to increase the stress, but after another wave of that odd feeling washed over my chest I decided that she was probably right.
Arriving at the ER, it was a struggle to get my shaky legs to make their way inside. When the ER nurse finally called me, I struggled to explain my reason for coming, when I still could not explain why I had said that I wanted to come, instead of waiting to see what would happen as I originally planned. The reason was instantly clear to the triage nurse with one look at my pulse which rose and fell like an unhinged roller coaster. Immediately she called back for an EKG and was surprised when I was sent back to the waiting room a few minutes latter.
At last I was sent to a room where two nurses prepared to give me a medicine to help with my pulse. Still feeling rather ill, I would have looked forward to the relief it would provide, except I could not help why they had to send my family out of the room and loosen then unsnap my gown. My heart had raced before, and my family never had to be sent out of the room and the top of my gown prepped for a shot in my IV.
Instead of calming my fears, this move only heightened them. And instinctively I asked if something else could be done tried first. Fortunately I never had to find out why this unusually precautions were required as a recheck of my pulse revealed that it was down in the low 100’s. An hour of laying in the ER bed with an IV dripping liquids into my arm my pulse and nausea had calmed down so much that I felt rather sheepish for coming. That was until, alone in my room as my parents switched places, the doctor came in and said that the MRI of my chest reveled that I might have a blood clot.
Suddenly my world changed, as I realized how fully my life hung in the balance. Nausea and even tachycardia seemed minor to the realization that for some unknown reason my body was making clots leaving me at risk of having a heart attack or stoke. Before the doctor had finished speaking and once again before calling my Father to let him know that he needed to come back so that he would be there when I told my Mother what was wrong, my prayer for aid and comfort had risen to heaven.
As I sat alone in that strange stillness waiting for their return, quietly pondering how my world had changed, I found myself pondering the real possibility that I might never walk out of that hospital. Though I trusted in God, I had to take an honest look at the risk and recognize the possibility that even though He loved me, He might allow something to happen. In that moment I had to ask myself , how close to the threshold of heaven did I stand? But more importantly I had to ask, if the worst happened and my probation came to a crashing end, would I be ready? If my life ended that day and the next words I heard was God’s call, would I be glad to hear Him call my name, or would I squirm in fear.
Somehow as I thought o my personal fears and trials along with the intense unexpected and downward swing of those I loved, I found myself thinking less of my own worries and fears. My thoughts were drawn not to the ugly possibilities of what a stroke could do, but to the promised hope of that land faraway. In that moment oh how precious the promise of Jesus return seemed, as I asked myself how close to the threshold of heaven do I stand?
I hope that as you read this poem, that you will be inspired by this question that has become so close to my heart. And that you will pause from your hectic schedule to make certain that your heart is right with God, because we never know when in an unexpected moment our lives will be turned upside down, and our probation will forever be closed.
How close to the Threshold of Heaven do I Stand?
By Katherine B. Parilli
Where do I stand in the scope of time?
How close am I to crossing over the border?
When will the cup of earth’s iniquity be full?
And when will the door of mercy forever close?
I have grown weary of this world.
My eyes are tired of beholding sin.
My ears do throb from the shouts of vile rabble.
The cries of the widow ascend without ceasing.
And the fears of the oppressed weigh down upon my soul.
When will the trumpet sound?
When will the shout of victory ring though out eternity?
When will the power of the merciless be cut short?
Oh how long till the ugly day of sin come to its final close?
The wicked gather in the streets to mock Thy people.
They exult at the suffering poverty of their prey.
Pushing the poor from their shanty dwellings to make room for their jewel decked mansions.
Demanding an ever-increasing wealth to feed theses sharks of the land.
They hear not the father’s please of mercy for his children’s empty bellies,
Or a mother’s prayer for the protection of her sick child.
How long till the heavens be rolled back?
How long till the sign of the Son of Man appear?
How long till the kingdom of the devil is destroyed?
How long till justice one more fills the land?
Works of wickedness grow bolder each day.
They have no thought of pity for young or old.
Their ears are stopped to the painful moans of the ill or injured.
Their only thoughts are of evil and how to increase their vicious power.
Should not that day be drawing near?
Is not that hour upon us?
Is not the host of Heaven gathering the last sheaves before the harvest?
Is not this increasing of sorrows a sign of Your sure return?
Are You drawing near the door?
The earth is growing weary.
Storms are brewing at every turn.
Pounding land and sea with frightful furry.
The earth rolls and rises as if convulsing.
Like a feverish patient it reels and stumbles
Mercilessly seeking comfort.
Spewing its troubled contents,
Waiting for its day of healing.
Yes the day must be near.
The hour must be drawing close.
For Thou art a God of justice.
Only mercy and love are hidden within Thy wings.
As a loving father seeks the good of his children,
Thou has waited patiently for our return.
Yet Thy justice demands an end to sin.
Thy mercy must vanquish the cruel foe,
and bring an end to human suffering.
The army of the devil shall tremble.
For their fate they will weep.
And the righteous shall rejoice
As their deliverance draws nigh.
Then in that hour I shall be comforted.
My burden of sin licked up by the flames.
No longer my eyes to behold sorrow,
Or my ears the rude jest of a maddened throng.
Hunger, pain, poverty, all burred in the ashes.
Greed, illness, the grave wiped out in the cleansing flames.
Tired, Tired, I Feel so Tired is a poem that I wrote during one of the flare ups of my chronic anemia in an attempt to express the deep fatigue that was robbing me of the freedom to live life to the fullest.
Worn, sadly this poem is the perfect summary of the past few weeks. Tired and worn before the day even begins, all I can think of is the delight of crawling into bed and taking a very long nap. My mind full of task pushes and prods me to work, reminding me of all the things that must be done, but like a car with a drained battery, it is all that I can do to sputter to life for a few moments and crawl a few feet before limping to the side.