The Spirit of a Child

The spirit of a child is a fragile thing.
It thrives on freedom, but requires boundaries.
Yearns after adventure,
but needs the nearness of a parent.

The spirit of a child is a fragile thing.
And sometimes I wonder why God
should have entrusted each one
to the care of such rank amateurs.

Did He not know we were barely free
of our own childhood?
Still looking and longing for the wholeness
and confidence we were so sure adulthood
would bring?

How differently we would have shaped those young lives
if we had known then what life
took twenty years to teach us!
So much more touching and praise
and delight in their accomplishments!

And yet, we see them standing straight and sure
and, if there is within their glance
some hurt left over from our mistakes,
it seems to make them all the more aware
of the pain around them.

Thank you, Father,
for guiding our parenting.
For protecting those tender shoots until they budded.
The spirit of a child is a fragile thing;
conceived in the mind of God
and watched over with His love.

©D. Swanson/Splinters of Light

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1. Why did you feed them, Jesus?
Why did you give them bread?
Did you do it to prove your Kingship
or to show God was not dead?
Why did you feed them, Jesus?
Why did you give them bread?

I fed them when they were hungry
because I love them so.
I fed and I feed their hunger.
I’ve been hungry myself, you know.

2. Why did you heal them, Jesus?
Why did you ease their pain?
Did you come as the Great Physician?
to brighten life’s sad refrain?
Why did you heal them, Jesus?
Why did you ease their pain?

I healed their broken bodies
because I loved them so.
I am the Great Physician!
And I was broken myself, you know.

3. Why do you love us, Jesus?
We who are hungry and lame?
We eat your bread and demand your touch,
then leave you to die in shame.
Why do you love us, Jesus?
We who are hungry and lame?

I love you because I have made you.
My touch can make you whole.
I love you because it’s my nature
and I, too, have been loved, you know!

©Donna Swanson/ Splinters of Light

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You are to me as wild honey.
The thought of you fills my mind
with such sweet singing
I fear my heart will burst with the wonder of it.

You are to me as a quiet stream
flowing softly to the center of my being;
with a cool and quiet reflection
of my deepest yearnings toward heaven.

You are to me as earth.
You cradle my days in the gentle strength of your arms
there renewing and upholding my spirit,
until it brings forth life.

Let me be to you as sky.
Let me cover your world with sunshine
and refresh your heart with the gentle showers
of my love.

And, when our days are accomplished,
Let us be to one another as fire,
having refined and purified our spirits
in the heat of our love
until they rise to meet their Author and Sustainer!
©Donna Swanson/Splinters of Light

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Creators and Success

There have always been creators. To us creating is a display of God’s image in the world.  Creating is an ache in our spirit; a compulsive reaching out to those who share life with us.  We can no more not create than we can not breathe.  Though there is a longing for our creations to be affirmed and applauded – anyone who denies that is lying to you – there is a deeper hunger to do the act of creating.  The feel of a brush on canvas; the weight of a pen in the hand; a particular word that completes a poetic phrase – these are to our souls as oxygen is to our lungs.  Though no one responds, still we must offer.  Perhaps the next painting will invoke a response; the next book, the next poem, the next song…

And success?  Now, as I look back over my life, I have a much different perspective than I did in my youth.  I see those things I created, and they are good.  I know they have blessed the few people they have touched.  And now I can put them to rest where they belong; in God’s hands.  If there comes a time when He wants them widely known, they will be.  If not, they were infinitely satisfying in their creation.

Again, as I look back over my life, I see the successes that mean so much more than any amount of fame could supply.  I asked God to give me acclaim and the praise of my peers; He gave me good children who rise up and call me blessed.  I asked God to make me financially successful; He gave me a beautiful home set amidst towering pines given by those I loved.  I asked God to make my name known; He gave me a husband who knows me and loves me just as I am.

Our family has never been abundantly wealthy, but we have never gone without food or clothes or a warm fire.  We did not have expensive indulgences or travel to exotic places, but we’ve had those small blessings that mean most because they were a surprise or a loving gift.

Success is relative.  Success is fleeting.  Success is a carrot leading a donkey down many a rocky road.  Success is OK if it happens, OK if it doesn’t.  It’s the road one takes to get to the destination that builds the soul.  The road has been worth it.

From WITH HEART DIVIDED by Donna Swanson c.

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch and listen to Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist who has become the link between undecipherable physics and the common person.  I have read his books and seen him on various shows for a few minutes at a time, but that day he was on Book TV’s In Depth for three hours answering questions by email and phone calls as well as just talking with the moderator.


I have been a fan of astronomy and science all my life and have followed the discoveries in the field of astronomy and physics with great interest.  There have been great strides made in these fields due to the advent of the Hubble telescope and its newer counterparts that are even stronger and more capable of fine tuning what they see.


Now if I have not lost your interest, I will get to the point.  It seems that every time a new discovery is made, it corresponds with what we read in the Bible, from the order in which life progressed to the origin of the universe itself.  Scientists are reluctant to give credit to the truth of the Bible but they cannot dispute their own findings.


One of the first discoveries I was aware of in recent times was the “Big Bang” theory.  For centuries astronomers were sure the universe was stationery and just here with no detectable beginning.  Then the Hubble allowed them to witness the beginning.  (Has to do with time and space)  Suddenly they were presented with the proof that our universe began.  Not only that it began but that all the components were there to create the galaxies, star systems, etc.  Do I detect a thought of “In the beginning God created”?


There were other discoveries that brought up other questions; one of the most fascinating being the mathematical exactness of our solar system.  Albert Einstein first talked of this, saying if you could stand in space and pluck an imaginary string tying the planets together, they would resound in a perfect musical chord.  Einstein even went so far as to say the language of God is music.


The latest discovery is extremely interesting.  It seems that astronomers and physicists have discovered an element they call Dark Matter in the universe.  It has been mapped and its presence verified by Hubble and other space telescopes.  What is more, this Dark Matter is the glue that holds the universe together, and keeps us from flying out of our galaxy and into space.  “But,” Dr. Kaku says, “we do not know what this Dark Matter is.”


Ah, another thought is forming.  “For by Him(Christ) were all things created, that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him:  He is before all things and by Him all things hold together.” Col. 1:15 – 17.


Now, if we go to Romans1:19 we read” Because that which may be known of God is shown in them for God has shown it to them. 20. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…”

So, my friends, we may watch and study the discoveries of the astronomers and the physicists and applaud them as we relate them to the truths of the Bible.  Dr. Kaku is very near to the truths of God and I believe through our writing back and forth a few times, that he himself is aware of that.

God created our world in a perfect place and a perfect time.  And above all that, He left mysteries of creation for us to discover and be amazed by.  And that is awesome.





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            Once a week I brought my guitar to the nursing home and sang for those residents who were unable to come to the dining room for programs or for Church on Sundays.  I’d listened as aphasic stroke patients who had not spoken for months or years, joined me as I sang “The Old Rugged Cross” or “In The Garden”.  I had seen bird-like Minnie, ninety-nine years of age, raise her hands over her head while tears streamed down her face as I sang “I Trust in God”. A song I thought new, but found she and her husband had sung as they rode from Ohio to Illinois, in a covered wagon to be missionaries when she was fourteen. Each room I entered was a page of history and their stories enriched my life.

As we turned down another corridor, Deanna, in her big square walker jostled ahead of us and disappeared into a door at the end of the hall.  “Deanna lives in the Little Girls’ Room and she’s excited about your visiting her and her room mates.” Deanna, bound by Cerebral Palsy, always met me at the door and asked for “Jesus Loves Me”.  I counted it a privilege to sing for her. Now, after two months I was to sing for the “Little Girls”.

Joy pushed open the door and motioned me in.  Deanna was beaming from beside a bed near the window. Women ranging in age from 40 to 60 occupied the other three beds.  One sat with arms tightly wrapped around knees drawn up to her chin.  She was silent, except for loud groans every few minutes.  Another had blue-gray eyes and skin like white marble. It was obvious she could not walk for her limbs were terribly misshapen.  She and the fourth ‘little girl’ rocked constantly as though working at their daily occupations.

Silently I asked God for the grace to sing here and that it be to His glory.  As I began singing “Jesus Loves Me”, I kept my eyes on Deanna, an island of familiarity in this strange room.  But, in my line of sight were the others.  Slowly, the rocking ceased, arms were loosened and four pair of eyes locked on my own.  I sang all the verses.  Then, I sang “The Old Rugged Cross”.  And still their attention never wavered.

As I always did, I said goodbye to each one, touching a hand or a shoulder, and left the room.  Joy commented that she had never seen them grow still and give their attention to anyone for so long, except when being fed.

As I drove home the ‘little girls’ rode with me.  I couldn’t get them out of my mind.  How I wanted to reach them, to give more than just a song.  Out of that first experience came the following:

(If you would like to listen to the song that was written that day, follow this link. )       

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This was written several years ago a year or two after we began burning wood.  Now, in 2013, John says we may not burn wood this year.  The woodshed is full and ready.  But it has become more and more difficult for either of us to get around.  But a cozy fire is still nice to think about!


            The furniture is rearranged for winter.  That is because we must now prepare for FIREWOOD!  The copper kettles have been taken off the hearth and hidden behind the couch.  The long strip of plastic that protects the rug from the big yellow wheelbarrow is close to hand and just the sight of that wood piled to the mantle on the hearth makes me feel winter curling around my toes.

When we first built our house back in 1974 we thought the big fireplace would be a cozy wintertime treat to light once in a while when the snow blew.  We would bring in a wheelbarrow load or two and stack it prettily on the hearth.  Then, winter really set in.  The electric furnace ran continuously to keep the house warm.  We lit a fire.  The living room grew cozy.  We kept putting on logs and the furnace quit running.  John was out and around helping Mac farm, so he didn’t notice how little the furnace purred.  But I did.  I kept piling on wood and the furnace kept not coming on.  I kept doing this for a few days and the temperature remained pretty much constant at 70 to 75 degrees.

I finally asked John if he had been warm enough the last few days.  When he said yes I told him we had been heating entirely with wood.  Now.  Whatever possessed me to tell him that!   From then on it was logs all day, bank the fire at night, and rebuild it from the embers come daylight.  The previous January our light bill had been $365.  This January it was less than $50.  We have a five-bedroom house and it was totally heated by that big old fireplace.

In the years Mac and Shelby lived here, Mac added a Buck stove insert to the fireplace, making it more efficient.  But it still requires wood.  That means the hearth is filled to capacity on either side of the fireplace and replenished a couple of times a week.  John  takes the utility tractor to the wood shed, fills the scoop with wood and brings it to the front door.  Then I bring over the big yellow wheelbarrow (which had been proudly ensconced in the living room) and fill it with before mentioned wood.  Two or three trips loading and unloading  fills us up again.

At first, John would get up in the middle of the night to put more wood on the fire.  But as it got harder for him to get around, his wonderful wife would fumble out of the warm flannel sheets and grumble her way to the living room, pull on a pair of ugly brown gloves and throw on wood, hoping the sparks did not fall on her bare feet.

One day while John was gone, I had a hard time getting the fire to start.  So, I thought about the oil for the lamps we used for power outages. “I bet THAT would burn!” I said to myself.  So, I found the kerosene, poured it over the wood and lit a match.  Had anyone told me how hot kerosene burned?  Or what a fierce fire it would make?  First thing I knew, John Layton pounded on the door and told me there was fire spouting out of the chimney.  John was right behind him and they used garden hoses to put out the fire on the roof.  Moral of the story, don’t use kerosene to start a fire in the fireplace.

You would think that incident would have gotten me fired.  Nope. I’m still the keeper of the flame.  Only a bit more careful.  The only thing that has changed is that now a grandson or neighbor brings the wood to the front door and stacks it for us.  But the rest is up to us.

The wood awaits.  The firebox is cleaned and ready.  The leaves have turned gold and red and soon the smell of wood smoke will waft across the Big Pine valley.  Where are those gloves?

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