Sunday, April 26, 2020

Passing Through the Waters








Someone says:
It’s beginning to drizzle.
Is drizzle past the point of beginning
after one minute or five?
After how many raindrops
is rain past the point of beginning?
Pearls of water
trickle down a window;
It’s raining.
                    

 Like everyone, we blinked, and our plans were changed. We went from telling our son he could take the train home for spring break to texting him we were on our way to pick him up. New York colleges had closed for the rest of the semester. 

When Gene and I drove upstate to New Paltz University, we had no idea Elijah was sick until we called him to tell him we were there.  

“He-ll-o.” Elijah’s voice sounded stuffy and sleepy as if he just woke up. 

“Are you sick? You sound sick.” We expected him to say no, he just fell asleep for a while. Blame it on dorm life. 

 His answer couldn’t have been worse. “Nah, just a little achy. All my suite mates have the same thing.” 

I looked at Gene wearing the same shocked expression, his mouth wide open like mine. “Seriously?” 

We were doing everything we could to not catch the COVID 19 virus, to not bring it into our home and give it to Gene’s mom who had pneumonia a few months ago. We all but panicked thinking we were about to drive home for two and a half hours with Elijah coughing the coronavirus all over us. We hated seeing Elijah sick, but come on…some warning would have been nice.  

He did mention celebrating with friends the night before, and this could be a hangover. I have never wished or prayed one of my sons drank enough to have a hangover, so this was a first. “Please God—a hangover and not the virus.” 

When we got home, Elijah went straight to his room so I could take his temperature. He had a fever close to 101 degrees, so this day, March 14, 2020, began our quarantine. Elijah was only allowed to leave his room to use the bathroom if he wore a mask and gloves. We put a sign on Gene’s mother’s door to remind her to stay there since Elijah was sick.

Because we weren’t sure if he had it or if we had been exposed to the virus, we stayed home from work, and had our other sons and daughter stay home too. We were a week ahead of the stay-at-home order for New York. And we are grateful. Elijah tested positive for the flu and negative for the Corona virus. And we had a head start at staying safe. 

What we thought was horrible at first, may have saved us. Maybe God used Elijah’s sickness to protect us from something worse. At the time, we didn’t know what we were fighting—COVID 19, the flu, or just our own fears. We worried and imagined the worst scenarios. My husband and I are pros at bouncing worries back and forth like a sport. It takes us a while to listen to God’s word and let Him in on our game.  

Since staying home, my daily emotions and mood cartwheel up and down hills. Mornings begin optimistic, motivated, and busy with writing and plans for the day. By midday—what am I rushing for with nothing to do and nowhere to go? Time to pour a few cups of worry about the future. Evenings end frustrated and depressed that I haven’t accomplished my morning goals. I forget to be thankful that we are healthy and have food even if I can’t get my favorite Trader Joes yogurt. I forget to be thankful that God loves us and doesn’t give up on us even when our faith wilts. I need to reread my favorite comforting verses. 

Many of you are suffering in different ways and my heart aches for you as I pray God meets your needs. I hope these verses bring you comfort and peace in whatever you are going through. 

  • “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7  

  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2   

  • “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27 

  •  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18  

  •  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 35:18    
Please share your comments below or visit me at:         
Francesjudge.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019










BORN TO US

by Frances Judge



So simple to love

The swaddled infant in my arms with his baby breath,

a whisper of wind, warming my skin; the echo of angels’ praise

Beating my heart in the stillness of the night.

So simple to love

The toddler teetering on wobbly toes, falling into my embrace,

I could hold forever. A divine gift, the joy of my soul, to be shared.

Golden leaves release their grip; a determined breeze lays the pile

on prickly grass at His feet, prepared for sacrificial love.

So simple to love the one we named Jesus.

I try to shield my young son from the rain

but cannot. It is persistent, planned. And he grows;

Angels breathed the Father’s blessing long ago;

Hidden behind hazel eyes, my son’s mind holds

the universe; in time to be revealed, a promise

from the first birth, my womb was blessed to carry.

So simple to love the one who is love

Bare branches point bony fingers, catching snowflakes, 
the branches bent with burden;

Bitter skies bring time for sleeping, clenching dreams;

Prayers lie dormant until the promise is pierced with tears of grief

Yet risen in glory!

As lilies open to the warm sun, my palms hold a white dove,

Resting until released to the sky; leaving His Spirit of love.

So simple to love the one who cares for me as His child,

So simple to love the one who is love.



For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. 
Isaiah 9:6-7


francesjudge.com

Monday, June 24, 2019

Book Review: Breaking Vases by Dima Ghawi




A stunning and inspiring biography


Have you ever read a biography and felt the author became a friend you’d like to meet in person? Dima Ghawi is the author I’d like to meet. 

In Breaking Vases, Dima writes about her life growing up in the Middle East in an upper middle-class home under continuous oppression as a female in her country. Reading about her life was an eye-opening experience, transporting me to a place I have only seen in movies. The vivid details she weaves throughout her book are captivating, painting a clear picture of the culture she lived. 

Her writing is both poetic and honest, including her worst experiences and her happiest memories. Dima does not attack her family and culture. She suffered, and doesn’t hide what she felt, but she also remembers and shares what she did love. She persevered and overcame horrendous challenges while remaining kind and optimistic. She inspires the reader to hope and follow dreams for a better life. 

Dima Ghawi was the winner of the 2018 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Contest and fully deserves the prize. Not only would I like to meet this amazing, accomplished woman, I would love to read her future works.

******

Visit my website at: francesjudge.com

Saturday, June 8, 2019

And the Night Goes On





Andrew, our second oldest, at age three, 
when he wore overalls and slept in his racecar bed


Let me tell you, this was a dark and stormy night, of another kind. 

Sitting across from my three-year-old son at the dinner table, I tilted my head, like our Yorkie when she is trying to understand what we’re saying. “Does Andrew look a little green?” I asked my husband.  

He glanced up from his pasta. “He looks fine. If he was sick, he wouldn’t have eaten his dinner.”  

The plate still had a mound of squiggly noodles, his favorite. He ate about half. 

His five-year-old brother, Stephen, continued his car noises in between mouthfuls. He looked fine. Sounded fine. 

“Andrew, do you feel ok?” 

“My tummy hurts.” He scrunched his little nose and pushed the plate away as if it were his enemy or a serving of his most hated vegetable, broccoli. 

Pale skin with a green hue isn’t cute, especially on a three-year-old. By now I knew what was coming. You know what’s coming. Ooh, the dread…wondering if there is any way to prevent the inevitable. 

“Let’s get you ready for bed.” No argument, or begging to read “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” for the billionth time. This was not good. 

“Do you think you might throw up now?” 

“No.” His eyes looked glossy, filling up with tears. And filling my eyes with tears too. 

“Okay. You’ll be fine. Just need to sleep and you’ll wake up and feel like Superman.” Was I lying to my little boy? I slid his blond bangs to the side and kissed his forehead. 

I turned off the lights and went to bed, not to sleep much, only listen. Counting cricket chirps eventually forced my eyes closed until three in the morning. Then the song of groans began with an exploding "Gaahh!" intermingled with coughing and a splashing sound. Was I dreaming? 

“Please, let this not be as bad as it sounds.” 

It was worse. 

Backtrack to when Stephen was two and we got him the cool Little Tikes car shaped bed. He loved it, and Andrew loved getting it when his brother moved up to a regular bed. But this day, I regretted that purchase. 

I ran to Andrew’s room when I realized this was not a dream. Too late. He was hunched over, gagging in between exploding vomit everywhere. Ev-er-y-where! Stepping over the peach-colored pond, I scooped him up to bring to the bathroom for a wash down. The worst part is that he couldn’t go back to bed until I cleaned the mess. Not something to put off until tomorrow. 

Aside from the pond, which was hard enough to mop, chunks of thrown-up noodles and glop filled every crevice of the adorable car bed. And I couldn’t complain that this is the worst thing moms have to do while Andrew was crying in the bathroom. 

It took about an hour to get it scrubbed and ready with fresh sheets. Finally, we were all back to sleep at five in the morning…until I heard the groaning song coming from Stephen’s room.  

It was a long night, but the storm of sickness ended in twenty-four hours. 

I’m thankful God doesn’t give us more than we can handle each day. He didn’t tell me: “This is nothing—just wait until a hurricane destroys your home and you are staying in a small space of two rooms and have five sick kids throwing up in their pastel colored Easter bowls.” 

Some things I’d rather not know ahead of time. Thank you, Lord.



P.S.



God doesn’t say the words “won’t give us more than we can handle,” but He does offer us the help we need to get through any situation—even sick days. One of my favorite Bible verses is found in the book of Matthew.  

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 

God will give us the rest we need. I find comfort in those words. Aah…rest. 

*******
This story received first place in the Faithwriter's Weekly Contest for the topic "sick."

You can visit Francy at her author website: Francesjudge.com

Or check out her book on Amazon: Randi's Steps

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Note to Nurses







I am not a nurse. I wasn’t born with the genes for nursing, but I work alongside nurses each day. They’re busy from the second they clock in at the nursing home until they leave, often working overtime to finish their patient notes or working a double shift. Some residents are demanding and unappreciative, yet the nurses still devote their time to providing the best care. They have bus-size more patience than me.

Last week, I had the surprise of observing from the flip side—from a hospital bed, a humbling position. From the moment the admitting nurse handed me a white cotton gown with the blue diamond print, snaps on shoulders, and open back, I was humbled. The ties, dangling at the side, are completely useless and do nothing to improve the silhouette. One size fits all.

Lying on that hospital bed, I was quickly transformed into a patient, dependent on nursing care. It’s hard to do much when your arm is attached to an IV pole. Of course, I wanted to get better, so I let the nurses invade my personal space and check vitals every hour. I appreciated their compassion, their thorough care and friendly smiles even at 4:00 AM.

I was thankful for each act of kindness. After a few days there, when I was desperate to get clean, one nurse wrapped my IV in plastic and tape so it wouldn’t get wet, and I could shower. Another nurse stopped to talk to me about the books she enjoys and ask what I’ve written—took my mind off where I was for the moment. In the morning, a nursing assistant sang “Jesus is the Answer,” a church song I loved from years ago, while she made my bed. Nurses were often in my room helping the patient next to me. She was suffering with excruciating pain and called for help day and night. The nurses answered every time. And the call bells kept ringing.

I’m home now, but I’ll remember the faces of the nurses—the light in a depressing place. I thank God for all those blessed with the nursing gene. They are an example of “The Good Samaritan,” what God desires us all to be.

  •            The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 

  •          “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”                Galatians 6:2 

  •          “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9



 Visit my author website at: francesjudge.com
  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Writer's Digest 87th Annual Competition






Time to celebrate! I received my copies of this year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Collection. I have entered this contest for years and have only won two honorable mentions. I never thought I would win first place. There were over 5300 entries this year for the nine categories. I always pray before writing, so I have to thank God for this blessing.

I encourage you to persevere in your writing endeavors. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Consider rejections as steps to improve. You can’t succeed without trying.  

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

You can buy your copy of the 2018 winning stories (only $10) at this link:

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018









 
FROM THE BRANCHES
By Frances Judge



Memories dangle

from the branches of our decked-out tree;

gold bead garland snakes around

treasures hung haphazardly—

Backwards and tangled



Popsicle stick squares,

sprinkled with glitter, frame silly boy smiles,

laughter I could hold forever,

blessings worth tears and trials,

And whispered prayers



Some decorations

span three generations; one Wise Man persevered;

though his orange robe tattered,

his gift will still be revered—

Calls for celebration



Ruby ballet shoes,

trimmed with gold ribbon from the year of pink lace;

Crystal girl angels declare

the great gift of God’s grace.

Share the good news



Displayed at the core,

a special glass ball, painted a violet night;

Messiah sleeps in a stable,

cradled beneath divine light.

“O come let us adore…”



Memories transcend

time, from the branches of our love-filled veins,

displaying gifts of thankfulness

to our Savior, Christ who reigns.

His love never ends



“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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