Springs of Hope – A global Forum creating a new narrative for the Voice of Victims of Terrorism being held in Jerusalem March 1-4. 

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A grandfather stood before the ISIS group and was given the option of denying his faith or watching his grandchildren be slaughtered in front of him.  He denied his faith and called his minister, Andrew White, to confess. “Will God forgive me?” This was his question. When the terrorist approached the children for them to deny their faith in Jesus or else die, they joined hands and said, “We cannot deny our Jesus. We love him.” Then, they each were killed.

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This is the third day of the conference on Terror I am attending in Jerusalem. The sad reality is that we are sitting within the beginning of a movement that is coming to fruition. A group of people are intentionally killing men, women and children who do not agree with them. It is happening here before our very eyes.; just as the Holocaust happened. These are real people in real time. And, it demands a response from me, from us.

I was born during the Holocaust in 1942.  Here, I am meeting with the children of people who were born during this horrendous time or immediately thereafter. Their parents survived and lived with the trauma of PTSD.  And the impact afflicted on them as the children of Holocaust victims is and was horrendous. I met Peter (not his name) whose parents met in Auschwitz and married afterward. They all suffered and continue to suffer.  I do not know what I am going to do, but I am going to do something. 

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What I am witnessing is that there are refugee camps with children who have had no food for a month. We can begin by getting them food. My new friend, Andrew White, who is the Anglican Vicar of Bagdad told the story of a little boy who heard him speak to his school. After school the boy brought him a dollar to help the children. He shared this with many people who want the children to be fed and asked them to began sending their dollars. If you are interested in joining me, in giving this Anglican Vicar a dollar for the children, the address of where to send your donation is: 

Address: Go to website www.frrme.org: To make a donation

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You may also go online to discover information regarding Andrew, his remarkable life and the books he has written. He can no longer be in Bagdad or they will kill him. Although he remains in contact with those who are caring for one another and those in the refuge camps. He is truly on the front-line of this tragedy. His bodyguard was standing beside him as I talked with him. Andrew is the real deal, a man that can be trusted, and any and all monies donated will make it to the children. This I can assure you.

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 We cannot sit by and do nothing. Please join me in praying for these people and  what you can do.  I can give a dollar and so can you. This, at least, will be an immediate start.

If you will, join me in sending dollars for food and care for those driven out of their homes and land and will likely never return.  I will not stand by and do nothing. It is something we can do now.  This is just the beginning.  

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A Secret Hope

February 17, 2015

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I can’t live off yesterday
The past can condemn my soul
My failures can overwhelm
I need a fresh start

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Depression sets in
I cry out in my despair
My soul languishes

*

Although the good memories
Are there to console my soul
The judgment of my heart is strong
I look for relief

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A drink, a song or a good joke
Can distract me from the pain
Lying down I remember
The noise of judgment

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I arise to fill my life
With something to stop the noise
These things only medicate
They’re temporary

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My search landed in the Psalms
With a King who failed his God
His family and his friends
He despaired for life

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He discovered the secret
The unfailing love of God
Who forgives all those who come
Desperate for hope

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The reflections were born out of meditation in response to Psalm 17, 47, 77, 107 and 127. If any of you would like to hear an audio reading of some of these Psalms, then message me your cell phone number and I will send it to you if you have a phone that receives audio. All the best!
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Gift of Forgiveness

January 31, 2015

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Looking back I see
The blind spots in my own life
Born of ignorance
Then the intentional wrongs
They can be overwhelming

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The blind spots are important
Learning points to remember
Because they are there I see
The damage I’ve done

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I’m responsible
For the suffering of those
Given to my care
Children, family and friends
I found forgiveness with God

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To face the truth about myself
Is a surprising gift to all
When love becomes the focus
And forgiveness reigns

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I forgive myself
God chose to forgive my sins
My heart was broken
When I saw the price he paid
Incomprehensible love

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I’ve sought forgiveness
From those I know I have hurt
From those I don’t know
I pray God covers us both
With gentleness and mercy

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In stillness I come
I am focused on His love
With no one but God
I draw near seeking His mind
And I discover His heart

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He has favored me
Claimed me as “His Beloved”
This promise given to all
Is sealed with His blood
Established by resurrection
Embraced by trust in His words

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I practiced feeding this truth by reflecting on the words given in the Psalms this morning. Psalm 31, 91 and 121. The judgment of my own heart is so great that if I don’t establish who I trust in the morning I am manipulated by my worldview and the worldview of others who also hide behind the noise in the heart.

Awake Expecting

January 8, 2015

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Awake expecting
To hear things you need to hear
From your Creator
Speak to my heart, soul and mind
Let love dominate my life

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Human beings live
As reflections of your heart
We look just like you
No wonder you love us so much
Even though we have failed you

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You bestow honor
And glory on all of us
Made in your image
At conception it’s given
Love never stops pursuing

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My guilt is heavy
A burden too much to bear
Failure consumes me
Wounds fester and bring sickness
To my soul, body and mind

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I sit in mourning
Feeble and utterly crushed
This searing pain comes
I groan with anguish of heart
My longings lay before you

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My sighing is not hidden
“My heart pounds, my strength fails me”
The light has gone from my eyes
No friends are in sight

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Neighbors stay away
Traps are set to destroy me
Deception is all around
I’m blind to your light

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I’m like a deaf man
Whose mouth offers no reply
With no voice to speak

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The reason I love
God found me in this condition
Lifted me out of the hell
Came looking for me
He found me in the darkness
Gently led me to the light

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God is pursuing you now
Be still, focus and listen
Choose the voice you trust
One tested in history
Gave his life that we might live

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I confess my wrongs
My iniquity is great
I am troubled by my sin
Hated without cause
Slandered when I seek the good
O Lord, do not forsake me

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Lord, you are not far
In my darkest hour you came
Opened my eyes to see love
Touched my very soul
Gave me a language to hear
Your Spirit to know the joy

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These promises were fulfilled
Stated in Psalm sixty-eight
We would all do well to look
And believe His word

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Our God is a God who saves
Who daily bears our burdens
From him we escape from death
My heart fills with praise

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I will never forget where I came from and the darkness I lived and grew up in this world. Hope against hope was the surprise that is not only for me but is for everyone. These reflections came in response to Psalm 8, 38, 68, 98 and 128.

Early Morning Times

January 4, 2015

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My best questions come
In the early morning times
In quiet moments
I’m confronted with my life
My fears and anxieties

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I’m frightened sometimes by dreams
By realities of life
For others and for myself
My questions are hard

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What do I believe
I struggle with unbelief
About the world and the pain
How do I view me
And the big question is God
And the meaning of friendship

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I take the time to be still
To listen and contemplate
The puzzle of this journey
That involves my life

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In my early life
I learned to detach myself
To not feel the pain
My imagination flew
To a place where I felt safe

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I could settle down
With memories that were good
Of people who cared
Grandmothers and the neighbors
There was a secret comfort

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I found in the solitude
A forced abandonment pain
A feeling of helplessness
With no person there

*

Solitary confinement
On the raft of shifting seas
With sharks all around
I was searching for answers
To understand and survive

*

It was in this search
To find out who I can trust
I found a focus
Big enough to contain me
Give me perspective on my life

*

No easy answers
But confidence I could find
The hidden love presented
By One I could trust
Who never failed to give love
To broken and lost children

*

I am one of His
If I ask the question,”Why?”
I must ask then “Why not me?”
We all have a cross
His mysterious presence came
“Don’t be afraid, I’m with you”

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Reflections after reading Psalm 4, 34 and 64. Proverbs 4:7. I had no mother or father to guide my thinking or big enough to listen to the pain. I had no words to communicate. There was only silence and a simple prayer taught me. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.” There was a song I learned that I sang, “Jesus Loves Me” this I know. I chose as a child to hold onto this mysterious unseen love and to trust this unseen God. I grew up and learned his story and discovered there was One who was with me when I was unaware and the angels were attending. His love was there and looking back I can see. He brought me through it all with His angels attending. He will bring you through. In the midst of my unbelief I cry out confessing it and pray “Help my unbelief!

Blue Christmas

December 23, 2014

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This season brings awareness of deepest joy and unspeakable sorrow!   I think about my mother who for many Christmases sat in desperation at not being with her four children. She abandoned them when they were ten, eight, seven and two in 1950. I found her broken and devastated in 1968, eight-teen years later at the age of forty-five. Jesus’ story of meeting the woman at the well had inspired me to contact her. She had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. She spent Christmas with us in Boston in 1985, and her story and picture were on the front page of the newspaper on Christmas Eve, telling the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. People with hatred, guilt, shame, and broken relationships were at the heart of Jesus’ mission.

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The experience with my mother created a desire in me to reach out with compassion, which is why I started Coaching Life Matters. Coaching Life Matters is committed to removing barriers to healthy relationships and restoring people to joy. We are a non-profit educational organization that chooses not to charge for our services. To learn more about the work we did in 2014 and our plans for 2015, please click the link below to read our December newsletter.

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http://coachinglifematters.org/resources/Newsletter-Dec-2014.pdf

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If you would like to know more about some of the stories of our work with veterans with PTSD,  Operation Stand Down, (an organization working with homeless veterans), and our work in the prison, you can view video clips in newsletter:

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If you are already connected to Coaching Life Matters, we want to thank you for your continued support and encouragement in our work. If you are just hearing about us, please check us out and consider joining us in going “outside the camp.”

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May your hearts be filled with hope, and if you are in despair, I pray you will find that “pinhole of light.” Special thanks to Boyle Investment Company, which donates office space for CLM to operate.

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Wishing you the best Christmas and a joyful 2015.

Thankfully, Terry and Charlotte

Two Emotions Experienced

February 15, 2014

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As a Valentine gift, my book, Delta Blues: From Darkness to Lightis free on Kindle: February 15-16, 2014.

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When I come into the light

Two real things happen to me

One of them is the great joy

The other is grief

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The joy of being forgiven

The grief is the damage done

I meet the joy and sorrow

I’m broken by both

 ~

Looking back I can see it

I see the love that pursued me

I see the darkness I lived in

The joy and grief merge

 ~

I ask my children to tell me

What I failed to give to them

They are reluctant to say

They are being kind

 ~

But I know the truth

I could not give them something

That I did not have

 ~

I am forgiven

It’s ok to realize

I had direction

I did not have perfection

The truth can still help me grow

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I live in my Father’s love

A gift I receive daily

We meet in private each day

His invitation

 ~

So joy and sorrow

Come with walking in the light

Love overcomes all

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Hear his gentle words

He says, “Do not be afraid

My Peace be with you”

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So sometimes I weep

With no language for the pain

For the hurt I caused

The compassionate Christ comes

Gives me His Holy Spirit

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Yesterday I went to a prison to speak to the inmates as they begin a study of the Sermon on the Mount.  His words have brought me a way to practice how to live in the reality of both the sorrow and the joy.  His brilliant words practiced lead to real life.  They are using Jim Woodroof’s book ,“Famous Sayings of Jesus, that breaks open His teaching in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

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My book, Delta Blues: From Darkness to Light  is highlighted today on my daughter Sara’s blog “A Spacious Place”.

www.coachinglifematters.org

Look Ahead with Wonder

April 6, 2012

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Help me trust with all my heart
O God, without wavering
For your love is my great truth
Test me, Lord, try me
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Examine my heart, my mind
Your love ever before me
I will walk continually
Eyes fixed on your love
~
Place my feet on level ground
Let no one come between us
I want you to capture my heart
My soul and my mind
~
One thing I ask of the Lord
I seek it with all my heart
That I may dwell in your light
Your Living Presence
~
My father and my mother
They did the best that they could
They were broken as children
Not equipped to love
~
Our merciful God
Came to give relationships
That are rich and deep
A love that’s unshakable
A life that’s everlasting
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My heart leaps for joy
As I remember your words
Meditate on your promise
I look back and see
I look ahead with wonder
Expect to see your glory
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I’ll give thanks in song
Giving praise for what is true
Our God who lives in the NOW
A love that pursues
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Our God gives us strength
A massive love beyond words
God became a man
Destroyed the power of death
Gave victory to us all
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April 6, 2012.  Written in response to Psalm 26-30 and Proverbs 6.  We celebrated the Passover Seder in the home of Norma and Martin Sarvis, as we overlook Jerusalem.

Bill Frey – A Gift

March 4, 2012

A friend is a gift
He was always glad to see me
No expectations
No plans for my improvement
Rejoicing in our friendship
 
With light in his eyes
Giving joy and acceptance
Generous and kind
 
Special history
So many loved him dearly
A giver not a taker
A wise man who knows
What matters most in this life
The value of a person
 
I watched him live it
First Bunny, his beloved
Melissa, his child
His friends he made feel special
Those who worked with him honored
 
Compassionate and faithful
A true man who sought the best
Loved to laugh and take pleasure
All in his presence
 
I have some regrets
I did not avail myself
Of more moments of his friendship
But one thing I know
We both shared a deep bonding
That is eternal and real
 
One promise he knew
Death would not be the winner
Love was much greater
Defined by the Christ who died
Who rose victoriously
 
He was not afraid
Bunny was there to comfort
Missy held him close
A sacred moment for them
As in peace he breathed his last
 
This tender moment for them
Will always be in my mind
Bunny on his chest whispered
“I love you and it’s O.K.
You can let go and go home”
 
February twenty ninth
His dad, Carl, died on that day
He knew that this was the day
He was not afraid
We all hated this process
The angels were all around
 
Bill was covered with God’s love
Surrounded by his dear friends
Held close by his beloved
Angels attending
 
Terry S. Smith
March 1, 2012
The Psalms I was meditating on as I wrote these thoughts were: Psalm 4; 34; 91; 103; 119:50 and John 11.
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Valentine’s Day Revolution

February 14, 2012

My daughters Margaret and Sara wrote this blog post.  It challenged and inspired me, so I wanted to share it with you.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

On Valentine’s Day, we naturally focus our attention on those that we know and love well.  TV commercials show rapturous men declaring their love with diamond-encrusted necklaces; grocery stores showcase tight bunches of frozen-smelling roses. Probably most of us forgo these tired symbols of love and go out to eat with our beloved, or write a thoughtful note to our spouse. My brother-in-law holds that Valentine’s Day is a consumer culture-manufactured event calculated to get us to spend more money; for a while he refused to participate. (My sister finally got him to compromise and purchase her a book to celebrate the day.) While finding a way to celebrate romantic love is fine, there are other kinds of love to celebrate and mark as significant.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world.

James 1:27

Let’s have a Valentine’s Day Revolution!

I challenge us to be just as aware of those who desperately need love, but are not represented in Valentine’s Day commercials or Hallmark cards.  (I’ve never seen a Hallmark card section marked “Orphans”).  It is easier ignore the pain that Valentine’s Day evokes for some people than to enter into the distress of the heartbroken, isolated, and lonely.  Let’s deliberately and intently search for people that we can show God’s gracious compassion and unrelenting love.  We can look for practical ways to demonstrate this love and “look after” those living with a relationship void. 

Help me bring about a Valentine’s Day Revolution! 
 
Here are three specific ways we can “look after orphans and widows in their distress”:

1) The New Hope Foundation cares for precious Chinese orphans with disabilities.  Click here for more information and to donate. 

2) Volunteer at a homeless shelter, particularly one that has women and children.  Often, these children, while not actual orphans, are starved for attention and time. 

3) I know of a young widow who needs our help.  This December, my friend Angela’s thirty-four-year-old brother Joshua died suddenly from a heart problem.  His wife Jennie is devastated.  She needs encouragement and financial provision.  Jennie was left without life insurance and with large medical debt.  Any help would be appreciated. 

The Joshua Wilkison Memorial Fund                                      
In the name of: Jennie Wilkison
Cleveland Bradley County Teachers Federal Credit Union
420 Central Avenue Northwest  
Cleveland, TN 37311-4922
(423) 479-6393 (for debit cards)
Via Nancy Trotter
 
For cards of encouragement:
Jennie Wilkison
c/o Angela Thomas
1727 George Whittaker Lane
Knoxville, TN 37931
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If you are reading this and you are heartbroken, isolated, or lonely, please know that there is hope.  God is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). 
Your Valentine From God
You are precious and honored.  I love you. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. I will strengthen you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.  Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.
from Isaiah and Hebrews
 

Little baby born in love

December 11, 2011

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What will change our eyes to see
The magnitude of His grace
Little baby born in love
Became one of us
 
I want my children
And all of my grandchildren
To know this amazing love
Please send your angels
Attend to each one
May they experience You
And awaken to Your Joy
 
Another baby is coming
Olivia Margaret
And Preston was born on this day
Just eight years ago
 
Who will teach their eyes to see
The magnitude of His grace
Little babies born in love
Learn to live from us
 
© Terry S. Smith
December 11, 2011
 
This poem is dedicated to my grandchildren.  “The man who fears God, his children’s children will be blessed.”  This promise is yours:  Sydney, Wallace, Aubrey-Anne, Preston, Sterling, Maia, Peter, Isaac, Averil, and Olivia, who will arrive any day now!
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No time for my tears

September 18, 2011

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There was no time for my tears

At seven years old life changed

Relationships were shattered

Love bonds were broken

~

No one would explain

I guess no one had the words

Each lost in their own pain

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Angels attended

There was comfort in silence

An unseen presence

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Many hours to wonder

To feel the deep grief alone

To discover a secret

A love deep within my soul

And a hunger to know more

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As I grew older

My desire to understand

Grew exponentially

A desire to know

What is this unseen presence

I was hungry to know more

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Gladness and joy came

In the searching I could see

Love pursuing me

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Sorrow and sighing

Experienced deep comfort

From the unseen God

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© Terry S. Smith

September 18, 2011

Written after reading Isaiah 50 & 51 and recalling memories from my life story.

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Your Beauty

March 23, 2011

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Please cherish your life story
Your familiarity
Blinds you to your own beauty
You must look closer
 
It takes a paradigm shift
A change of lenses to see
Pain as being a part of
Beauty in your life
 
It is in the silent night
There is a whisper of love
Heard only in the stillness
A quiet thunder
 
The chaos was a great gift
Looking back I clearly see
The pain caused me to search out
Love searching for me
~
© Terry S. Smith
First posted July 16, 2009
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Handprints

March 16, 2011


I see your handprints
Looking back I sit in awe
Your gentle hand led
Me out of captivity
Into a world of freedom

In my anguish I cried out
There was no comfort for me
No one saw how desperate
How broken I was

I longed to find peace
To feel the presence of love
To find the understanding
Someone to listen 
My search born of emptiness
In the prison of my shame

A deep loneliness
A soul shattered by my guilt
With no one I could turn to
No language to speak
The years of abandonment
Unspeakable grief lingered

I felt like I was nothing
My failures condemned my soul
My heart confirmed my no hope
No one could help me

I remembered her
My grandmother on her knees
The joy of her love
Her delight when she saw me
The light of love in her eyes

The light I wondered
That twinkle of joyfulness
I knew God was real
I could feel him in her touch
I knew she deeply loved me

My struggle was to believe
That there was a higher love
My thirst to find out the truth
Find a way to live

She opened the door
Her kindness drew me to search
Knowledge is what I needed
My hunger increased
Something in me was driving
Something larger than my pain

I went to the mountain
Got a vision of the peace
Saw joy inviting
An invitation to love
To receive it and give it

My mom and dad were clueless
I did not know why they raged
Or why they could not see me
Now I understand

My search for insight
My longing to understand
My hunger to not repeat
Find a way to peace
Give my children faithful love
Created a great passion

This longing marked me
A fire to discover joy
A mystery ignited
Determination to know
How to be loved and to love

Meditations written after interacting with the thoughts in Psalm 77 and Proverbs 16.
 
© Terry S. Smith
March 16, 2011
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A Place of Peace

December 30, 2010

  

 My parents failed me
They did not know how to love
Their lives were broken 
Not able to trust people
They made decisions that hurt
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I’m also flawed and broken
I’ve harmed others with actions
Unintentionally caused pain
Guilt imprisoned me
A love much higher found me
Forgave and renewed my soul
~

When I’m confronted
With the wrongs that I have done
I look through other’s eyes
I see my selfish ways
I could not bear to see it
If mercy was not with me

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It became mine to search out
What was true and what was not
How to have relationships
With myself and others 
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Two things I cherish
Wisdom and understanding
They are paths to peace
~
Patience is the fruit
For those who will learn to wait
From a place of peace
Seeing marvelous things
Learning the rhythm of time
  ~
I’ve learned to reverence life
I arise to meet the day
I found rest and contentment
Untouched by trouble
 ~
Then I gain knowledge
Of how to love another
To see the world through their eyes
Understand their world
To look with great compassion
Accept and forgive with love
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© Terry S. Smith
December 25, 2010
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Reflections written as I read through Proverbs 19 and John 15, (Jesus final words to his friends before he died).

I searched out a way to love.