Sorrow

Eagle tear

K. M. Curry ©

She was desperate, out of breath, confused.  Another round of fire just barely missed her as she banked hard to the right.  For years, hundreds of years she had enjoyed a good relationship, now, in the same words they used to say to welcome her, they cursed her and tried to eradicate her.  Her heart broke; shattered into a million tiny pieces.  She would forgive them if only she knew what was wrong.

Finally, she spied a tall tree that provided some cover.  She needed time to rest, to plan.  She dive bombed the tree and scattered all the birds that had been sitting contentedly in it.  She then flew with them for short ways hoping it would draw the people off.  She was winded and had to rest.

After she landed and got some of her strength back, she began to inspect her perch. .  Fluttering in the breeze on a flagpole next to her perch was a flag.

“Hello, Eagle.”  The flag opened a conversation.  “ I am ‘Glory,’ what do you go by?”

Eagle straightened up trying to look her best.  Not many of her kind had been lucky enough to meet a flag.  This meeting was, indeed, a great honor.  “I am  ‘Sorrow;’ “   she responded.

“Interesting name, but fitting given the circumstances,” replied Glory.

“Can you tell me what is going on with the people?” Sorrow inquired.  “I have always had such a good relationship now I must hide.”

“You are wise to stay out of sight.  There is a movement among the people.  The leaders of it include the President himself, and then others who have names people like to follow, like Clinton, Reed, Roberts, just to name a few.”

“I was warned about Reed and Roberts but the others, I thought they had sworn an oath to protect and stand my what we represent.  I simply do not understand…”

Glory and Sorrow stopped their conversation as cries came from below.  Sorrow spied the goings on first and began to hiss and scream in anger and fury.  “Sorrow, what is it you see?”  Glory asked.

“They have another of your kind, your sister.  A man is stomping her, trying to grind her into the road.  Another, oh no, I, I cannot watch!  Another has lit it ablaze!  I must go! I must try to help her! ”

“Wait, Sorrow, do not go.  That is my sister, ‘Stars and Stripes.’  If you go down you will only be hurt or killed yourself.  As much as my heart breaks…”

Screams from Stars and Stripes rose in bone-chilling horror and Glory could not continue.  Finally, the screams died out as Glory’s sister was no more.

Glory did not flutter in the wind; she hung like a tired dishrag.  She grieved for her sister and for the country both of them represented.

“Glory, I am so sorry you have lost a sister; I wish I could have saved her.” Sorrow whispered softly as a tear fell from her eye.  “How did things come to this?  I do not understand.”

Flag was quiet a moment and then began:  “Years back, the people signed a document that started:

‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’

They had just come through a terrible war for independence and were trying to set up their government.  The creation of a republican democracy was a unique experiment, and the civilized world was waiting, watching for this fledgling government to fail.

She almost fell in the mid-eighteen hundreds when the war called ‘civil’ began.  Father fought son, brother against brother.  Again, it almost destroyed the country, but the people reunited and she regained her strength.   But hatreds and rivalries went on and hated groups and supremacist groups formed such as the KKK  and later on the Neo-Nazis.  They caused great sadness for those who were the object of their biases, but as a whole, the country moved forward.

Apologists for the minority groups, such as blacks, rose and at first, their cause was good and just.  Jim Crow laws and double standards were struck down; civil rights apologists became more interested in power, money, and fame.

The success of the country allowed the people to relax.  The state had taken over education, medicine for the least able, offered welfare for those who could not provide for themselves.  The people began to move away from a reliance on God or adherence to His laws and precepts.

Once they began to move away from God, their downward spiral began.  Oh to be sure, there were some shining moments and here and there were pockets of a revival of faith in God and patriotism; especially right after Pearl Harbor and then after the Twin Towers.   In spite of this, people were listening to those who said what they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear.

The success of the country allowed the people to relax.  The state had taken over education, medicine for the least able, offered welfare for those who could not provide for themselves.  The people began to move away from a reliance on God or adherence to His laws and precepts.

Groups claiming to do a public service did a huge business in abortions and selling baby body parts. Women,  pressured into accepting these lies were their rights, defended the barbaric practices.  Others wanted special rights depending on skin color, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.  After a while, this country became almost the opposite of what it’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution described.  New reinterpretations of the Constitution,  were explained to the people by claims that these are “living documents” and as such can be altered with the times rendering them useless for guiding the country and the party in power got to set the rules rather than the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Sorrow, the eagle, looked at “Glory” the flag, and there were tears in Sorrow’s eyes.

“Why do you cry?” asked Glory.  Things change, people change.

“Yes,” Sorrow murmured.  “Things change, but the people have given up a priceless gift that they will never get back.  They have given up the blessings this land has known for over two hundred years’ they have given up their freedoms that so many fought and died for, and they have given up their future.”

Glory was quiet for a moment and then said, “There was once a man named Khrushchev.  He was from Russia, then known as the USSR.  He was famous for banging his shoe on the table.  He said that the communists would conquer America from within.  I think his exact words were:

‘We will take America without firing a shot … we will bury you!

“We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism until they awaken one day to find that they have communism.

“We do not have to invade the United States; we will destroy you from within.’”

“I fear he was right.”

Sorrow bowed her head in agreement, and that one tear turned into two and three and four.

“May what was the miracle of America rest in peace.  I must leave this place, Glory.  I fare you well.”

“Good luck, Sorrow, perhaps you will find a better place.” Glory responded wishing she too could leave this place of anger and hatred.

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SMILE! BE HAPPY!

THUMBS UP

Katy Curry©

When I first met my husband I worried about this and that, pace the floor and he tried to calm me.  He said: “Babe, all your worry is advance interest on things that probably won’t happen.”

Tell me, what will worry do for you?  Will it save your job or keep you up so you are not at the top of your game at work?  Will it cause you to lose weight or eat emotionally and put on those extra pounds?  Will it help you with your relationships or cause even more problems with those you care of your preoccupation with what might happen?  Worry saps your strength, your looks, causes premature aging, makes you grumpy and warps your outlook on life.

Do you see what I mean?

SO, to avoid worry what sage words of advice are there?

The best advice

is to keep your priorities straight.  God, Family, Job. First comes God.  Yes, God.  You see, He puts things in perspective.  His Words are pure wisdom and easily found. The most well-known advice is Proverbs 3:5-6.  That tells you what to do, but you have to keep reading to find out how.  What did that passage say again?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

The only way you can submit to God is to read His Word.  It isn’t hard, just a little at a time.  The advice in there about honesty, money, work, attitude is the same advice these motivational gurus hand out with a worldly spin and get right from people hungry for the magic key to health, wealth, and happiness.  It is all right there for you!

The second priority is family.  You may wonder why it isn’t first.  Without the peace of God, without the wisdom He gives you, you will mess up.  I guarantee it.  Even with in family there is a hierarchy.  You must put your spouse first and as a team you put the children first.  Your children need to see that unity of Mom and Dad.

As humans we are all selfish, we get tired, worn down, feel unappreciated, don’t know how many times we can say the same thing, we get frustrated!  Learn to take it all to God.  Lay it at His feet and you will often find answers present themselves in short order.  They may not be the ones you want, but have the humility to accept them.

The third part of the priorities is your job.  Once you have that open communication with God, you have your home in order; once those priorities are taken care of you are free to concentrate on your job and have the distractions of problems on the home front or problems with bills.  You can focus all your attention on your work.  This leads to further success.

Please don’t take this as a promise of no problems.  There are always hills or high points in life as well as valleys or challenges.  You will still face your fair share.  But, if your priorities are right, you will know where to turn in time of joy and in times of sorrow.  Give Him praise for all, He will hear your prayers and grant you what you need.

I leave you with Jesus’s own words:

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.    Matthew 6: 28-34 NIV

Attacked

Julie was her usual effervescent self, giggling at something her friend Hanna texted as she opened her laptop.  She pulled up Face Book ready to catch up with all the news of the day.  Her face morphed from its customary smile to a look that resembled the pain she felt.  As she stared at the screen she felt as if she had been punched everywhere at once.  She could not believe what she was seeing.  One after another the messages were filled with epithets, vile suggestions, and charges that she was a whore, pure filth, worse than a dog, and on and on.  She was warned not to show her face in school the next day if she knew what was good for her.

The devastation eclipsed her heart and her soul.  Her depression was such that she could not eat or sleep or even pray.  She would not come down to dinner, she skipped youth group at church and skipped school the next day.  Julie felt totally alone lost, who could she go to?  The things on Face Book that were now coming on her E-mail were even worse than at first.  Boys started to write her describing unspeakable things they would do to her because she “wanted it.”

She finally dragged herself down Friday night after her father threatened to break down her door if she didn’t open it and join the family.  The sorrow and brokenness she felt was evident in her dull, tangled copper hair, her pasty complexion, lowered eyes, and down turned mouth.  She sat at the table, a broken child.  She would not look at anyone and they had to put the food on her plate.  Mom had made her favorite, spaghetti.  She did try to sip some water.  She desperately needed the water, her lips were chapped and cracked.

Julie just sat there, her heart and spirit breaking.  How could she tell anyone such horrid things?  Now she was getting phone calls that told her she was a waste and the world would be a better place without her.  Why didn’t she just die.  Messages came across her computer; DIE, JULIE DIE!

“Julie, honey, won’t you try to eat just a little?  You must be so hungry.”  Mom coaxed.

Julie’s downcast head barely nodded and she picked up her fork and tried to take a small amount of the pasta.  She choked and gagged.  Mom jumped up.

She started to sob at the table, Chris, her older brother, left unnoticed, and went up to her room.  He opened her computer and as he read what she had been subjected to, his anger exploded.

“Dad!  Dad!  Come up here, quick!”  Chris called, fury in his voice

As her dad read the messages on Face Book and then on her email, then they listed to the voice mail on her phone and the text messages everything became clear.

They called the police and their pastor. They would go to the school the next day.
Pastor looked everything over and sat down in a corner of the living room with the broken girl.
“Is this why you skipped Youth Group Wednesday night, Julie?” he asked gently
“Uh-huh.” She sobbed.
“Julie, do you know that you are none of the things that those children wrote?
“I-I guess,” a dejected and dispirited  Julie hiccupped “Some of them must be true, so many people said them.”
“Julie, look at me,” Pastor said. He waited until he held her gaze. “You are none of those things. Satan has targeted you to hurt you. Are you going to let him win?”
At that her head snapped up.  Julie was not one to turn down a challenge, or to accept defeat when it was thrown in her face.  That indomitable spirit was still inside her and it reared up.   “This is from Satan?” she asked incredulously.
“You are the very opposite of those words. I do believe that this is a demonic attack; you have been on fire for God and it has been catching. I think Satan was very anxious to quench that fire in your soul.” Pastor responded.
“Do I have to go back to that school? After what they wrote?”    She dreaded the thought of seeing those kids again.  If they would  write such awful things what would they do to her face.  Fear swirled in her belly.
“You know, God talked about that. In Proverbs He called such people fools. In Romans 12: 19-21 it says not to take revenge but to do kindness to them. You will heap burning coals on their heads and they will be convicted. They will be made the fools and you will store up crowns in heaven. You let your heavenly Father take care of these kids, Julie. You are blameless. You can return to school when you are comfortable and hold your head high.”
Pastor continued.
“Would you like to do something right now that will help you heal from this attack?”
Julie nodded enthusiastically. The sooner she could begin to put this behind her the better. She was taken aback at his next words.
“Let’s pray for them.”
“Pastor, you want me to pray for the people who said these horrible things?”
“What did Jesus do after they had beaten Him and nailed Him to the cross?”
“He asked His Father to forgive them.” Julie said quietly.
“So He set the example for us, don’t you think?” Pastor asked?
They bowed their heads and began to pray. Julie started praying and those prayers were led by the Holy Spirit. When they had finished Julie’s heart was lighter, the joy she had had was sneaking back.
“Mom, can I have some of that ginger ale you mentioned?” Julie asked. “Come to think of it, I am starved, can I have some spaghetti?”
It was a couple of weeks before Julie returned to school, but she returned with a stronger conviction of her faith and maintained her joyful effervescent demeanor. She had given a horrible situation to God and He had healed her.

Her parents finished the police reports and contacted Face Book.   The next day they were down at the school and had a meeting with the principal, Assistant Principal, and Guidance Counselor.  Students were pulled out of class, and the steady hand of justice prevailed.

Julie did see a psychologist with regard to her experience, but she found her greatest help was with God.

Parents:  This is a fictional story.  Usually things do not turn out this well, this quickly.  All too many precious young people have been driven to suicide because of the vicious words and actions of their peers or others.  Monitor your child’s cell phone and computer.  You will not be popular for doing it but it is for their own safety in more ways than one.    Protect your child, your teenager.  Remember, Privacy is a teen’s enemy.

Shaadi’s Change

It was a glorious morning  and Shaadi was on her knees offering the Salaat.

“Allah is Greatest.  Praise my Lord the Great.   Praise my Lord the Most High.  I bear witness that there is no God other than God.  Praise be to God who has never begotten a son, nor does He have a partner in His kingship, nor does He need an ally out of weakness Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.”

Her prayer finished, she rose to her feet, walked to the window, and pondered the heaviness in her heart.  Morning Salaat should bring joy to her heart but instead she felt a heaviness and anything but a joyous spirit.  She turned and pulled a Bible out of her nightstand and opened to a favorite part: Psalm 16

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;  apart from you I have no good thing…”

“Shaadi!”  Her ten year old sister, Nayyer burst in.

“Nayyer!  “Haven’t I asked you not to burst into my room like that?” scolded Shaadi.

“You’re reading it again, aren’t you!  Read some to me!”  Nayyer begged.

Shaadi closed the bedroom door quickly.  “I will if you promise to keep it a secret.  Papa must never know!

Nayyer nodded her promise.  The idea of a forbidden book was too exciting for words.

“This is my favorite part, it makes my heart soar, Shaadi told her sister; her voice barely above a whisper and finished reading Psalm 16.  When she finished her eyes were shining with joy, the heaviness she had felt after her Salaat was long forgotten.

“Nayyer, you see why I love these words……..” Shaadi’s eyes grew wide with shock and not a little fear when she saw her father standing in the doorway.

In a soft voice that hid the fury raging inside him he commanded.  “Shaadi, give me that book of lies.”  His hand was held out and his eyes were steel.  A sob caught in Shaadi’s throat as she walked toward her father with downcast eyes and placed her greatest treasure in her father’s hand.

“Nayyer, you will leave this room.  Shaadi, you will remain.  I suggest you offer prayers of confession to Allah and hope you can be forgiven for this sin.”

The door shut and Shaadi heard the lock turn.  She was locked in her room!  A prisoner in her own home!  She did pray, as her father suggested, but not to his god, Allah.  She prayed to the God of the Bible.   She prayed for mercy, safety, rescue.

“Why would He listen to me?” she thought.  “I am not even a Christian and a female at that.”  She had forgotten one of the biggest lessons her friend, Moriah had taught her.  Jesus loved her just as much, as anyone else, she would be a bridesmaid to Jesus once she came to a saving knowledge of and belief in Him.

Sometime later her door opened.  Her mother and father were both standing there.  Her mother’s eyes were downcast. Tear tracks streaked her face. She carried a tray of water, dates, grapes, bread and cheese and carefully placed the food on Shaadi’s desk.  Her father, Farookh, addressed her formally.

Shaadi Yasmin Tavannah, you have sinned against Allah and your family.  After much prayer and conference with Imam Yosef it has been determined that you will marry.  Your sin has been forgiven as we believe you have been left to your own devices for too long.  With a husband to care for, you will not have time to be curious about forbidden things.  Your husband has been chosen for you and you will be introduced to him tonight.  You will be wed in two weeks.  Your future husband’s name is Sargon Zamani.    After your wedding it is Sargon’s wish the two of you return to Iran.   You will lack for nothing as he is most successful.  You will live like a princess and should consider yourself very fortunate; Allah has looked upon you with great mercy.”

Shaadi’s mother took a step toward her, arms outstretched but Farookh stopped her.  She ran from the room sobbing.

Farookh continued  “My child, I love you; but your actions cannot be overlooked.  I do this to save you.”

Shaadi fell to her knees, eyes on the ground tears splashing all about.   Farookh closed her door softly.  His heart was heavy but he had done all he could to protect Shaadi.  He walked into his den and in curiosity, he picked up the Bible and turned to the Psalm she had been reading.  He felt his heart soar in his chest.  He turned to the New Testament and began to read the Gospel of Matthew.  He marveled at what he read and his heart told him the words were true.  On the inside of the cover there was a name and phone number.  He dialed the number.  “Hello, Pastor Flynn?  I am Shaadi’s father and I have some questions for you about what is in this Bible.  I found Shaadi reading it earlier today….Yes, yes.  About 9:30 would be excellent.  I will see you then.  …..   okay, yes.  Thank you, Pastor.  Good Bye.”

Shaadi rose and moved to her window praying: “Almighty God, Allah.  I do not wish to sin or give offense, but in my heart and in my mind I am confused.  There can be but one Almighty God.  Allah, you say you love me, your daughter, but say in the next heartbeat I have not the value of a man.  God the Father, You say you love me and sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that I might spend eternity in heaven.  My heart breaks, I am to be wed to a man I do not know and taken to a country I fear.  What am I to believe?  Give me peace.  Please, show me the way.”  She crumpled to the floor in a flood of tears and eventually fell asleep in that very spot.

Later in the day her cell phone rang.  It was her friend Moriah from the Christian church around the corner.  They had met in school and Shaadi had challenged Moriah’s faith.  Moriah had a gift of sharing God’s Word and had, over time, brought Shaadi to an understanding of the Bible.  Moriah’s pastor had also talked with Shaadi and showed her the truths of Christ’s true identify from her own Q’ran.  Shaadi had devoured the message of the Bible with a hungry heart.  She had kept her move prized possession, her Bible, hidden away for almost six months before her father discovered her reading it.

“Shaadi!  You missed the party!  We thought you were coming, what happened?”

“Moriah!  My life is done, it is over!  My father found me reading my Bible to Nayyer and took it from me!  I have been locked in my room and am to wed a man I have never met a week from Saturday and leave this country for Iran!  I shall surely die!”

“Oh no, Shaadi!  What can I do, how can I help?”

“There is nothing to be done, my friend.  I am confined to my room.  I meet my future husband to be this very night.  I will spend my life in a Berkah with my heart belonging to your Jesus!  My life if over!”  Shaadi broke down, sobbing again.

That night, wearing plain clothes with all but her eyes covered by her niqab veil, Shaadi met her future husband.  Her father loosed her niqab to allow Sargon a view of her face.

“Farookh, you have a very beautiful daughter and I believe she will be a fine wife.” Sargon address Shaadi’s father but ignored her.  She was left to replace her niqab and go to the kitchen.  Sargon was a very conservative Muslim and followed the stricter interpretations of the Q’ran.  Her role at dinner was simple, serve, do not speak, return to the kitchen.  When she served, she stole glances at this man who was to be her husband and had to admit, he was very handsome, but as she listened to his conversation she learned how conservative he was and she knew her life with him would be anything but free and she would be little more than a slave.

He did not acknowledge her for the rest of the meal.  Once dinner was ended and she was able to return to the solitude of her room she took off the extra clothes that had been required as well as the niqab.  She again prayed, but this time her confusion was gone.  “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and do not deserve your love or forgiveness.  I know I can do no good thing but through you.  I humbly ask if you will forgive my sins, cover them with the blood you shed on the cross.  I ask you to come into my heart and soul and be my savior.  If it is Your will I am wed to this man, Sargon, and live as his wife in Iran, I will follow Your Will.  I beg you to save me from this fated, if you are willing.  I wish to live openly loving You and worshiping you.  Please save me.”

Once her prayer was done she looked up, sensing a presence.  There, once again, her father stood.  This time there were tears in his eyes.  “My child.  May Allah forgive me, but I cannot allow you to be in such misery.  What is it that would draw you away from Allah?  Without fear of punishment, please tell me.”

Shaadi pulled out her Q’ran and turned to the passages Moriah’s pastor had shown her.  Haltingly, in a whisper, she read them with her father and they talked.  She shared the truths she had learned and the way the praises in the Bible made her heart sing with a joy she had never known praying to Allah.  The doorbell rang and Farookh got up quickly.

“Thank you, Shaadi, for sharing with me.  You have given me much to ponder. I must go.  ”  Farookh told his daughter.  He kissed her on the forehead.  “Sleep well, my beautiful Shaadi.  Have no fear of tomorrow.”

His words comforted her and she fell asleep before he had even finished closing the door.

In the morning, as the sun burst through her window she got up and automatically began to offer the Salaat and caught herself.  She dropped to her knees and gave praise to her new God, Jesus Christ.  Just as she was finishing up, Farookh knocked on her door.  “Shaadi, will you please come downstairs with me?”

Speechless, Shaadi followed her father down to the living room not knowing what to expect.  To her utter shock, there sat Moriah’s pastor.  He looked tired and drawn but happy.

“Shaadi, this man, Pastor Flynn, has been discussing and debating with your mother and I throughout the night.  He has talked to us through the Quran.  I became angry several times and threatened…..well, I was wrong.  I hoped you would join your mother and I in praying a new prayer, one to Jesus who our own Quran shows is divine.”

Speechless, Shaadi sank into a chair and then onto her knees.  Pastor Flynn prayed the sinner’s prayer while Shaadi and her parents repeated his words.  A small voice seemed to echo the words of the prayer and when they had finished, Nayyer, crept out.  In a voice barely audible she said, “I have been going to that church on Wednesday and listening in Awana.  I asked Jesus into my heart when you prayed Papa.  Can I be a Christian too?”

Farookh held his arms out to his second daughter and held her tight. “ It seems this family is about to make some changes!  Allah, oh, forgive, God is Good, He is so so Good and I praise Him for His gift to us.”

“Papa,” Shaadi said, “What about the wedding?  What about Sargon?  He will take this as a great insult.”

“I will deal with Sargon, my child.  It is nothing for you to be concerned with.  You will not be married to him, rest assured.”

Shaadi turned back to Pastor Flynn, “ May we please pray and thank our Lord Jesus Christ for He has answered my prayer in ways I never would have guessed.  He has not only given my my life but has returned my family to me!  He is truly the God of Truth!”