My Reflections, Poetry

HOPE STILL REIGNS


The Lord is my shepherd

I know His call

For when I was young

He became my ALL

Providing me still pastures when I’ve needed rest

Bringing me to quiet waters, my soul restored the best

Whenever I’ve ever felt alone

His Spirit has guided my way

And through every dark valley

His hope within me has stayed

When I’ve felt like I could break

He’s comforted, loved and held me

Even when enemies were on the attack

He nourished and He blessed me

For His goodness and His love have followed all my days

And one day, I’ll be fully with Him forever and always

But till that day comes, He’s always been near

Till that day comes, He shows me that He’s here

When a pandemic tried to seriously crush my soul

When isolation and loss seemed to take control

Hope still reigned in the songs sung

Hope still reigned with every beautiful rise of the sun

Hope still reigned when justice marched

Hope still reigned as humanity battled on

No matter what’s happened or what will come

I will cling to His promises, every single one.

Poetry

A TIME FOR MIRACLES


A selfie I took of myself in April of this year during the pandemic lockdown. Through all of life’s ups and downs, miracles still happen.

Christmas began over 2000 years ago
When a miracle came to Earth
And ever since our Savior came
We are reminded of His miracle birth
And here I exist in this world we live
Knowing miracles continue to be
For I’ve been healed in a number of ways
By the One who I can feel within me
I’ve seen prayers answered in mysterious ways
Giving us a child who made our family more whole
If not for the fact that He truly lives
This part of our story could not be told
And if this Christmas, in this world we live,
It’s a struggle to see miracles exist
Look at the eyes and hearts of each child
Because within them believing just is
For as each December comes along
In spite of the unrest all around
A Savior reminds us that miracles happen
And for ALL, there’s hope to be found.

©️ By Rachel Basden 2018 (revised 2020)

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Poetry

BY MY STRENGTH


The battle you have feared

You’ve already overcome

Not because it’s completed 

But in Me it’s finished; it is done. 

I’ve surrounded you with warriors

Both here and the realms about

Because you are my mighty soldier

And it’s time for My Spirit to go out. 

It is time for truth and justice

For you, dear one, are mine

You’ve struggled and cried out

I saw and heard you every time. 

Take courage and know I’m with you 

You will never be left alone

For you are ready and I’ve made you able

It is I who sits on the throne. 

With you comes great strength

With you comes great power

With you comes far more 

That the enemy will never devour. 

So walk this walk with Me

In My arms you’re always free

For I am your Creator

Now live as you’re meant to be.  

By Rachel Basden © 2020
Dedicated to & All My Fellow Warriors

PHOTO: Rachel Basden © 2020

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My Reflections

WE WON’T FALL: Psalm 71:14, Psalm 55:22, Psalm 26:12, Matthew 6:25-34


Psalm 7114

This morning, as I sat reading the Word and praying, something came to the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t a new revelation. God truly knows that I’ve heard this truth many times before.

We, as believers, can easily get consumed with so many worries. Am I a good enough mother, wife, teacher, photographer, and so on and so on? What do I do when I seem to have done everything, and yet, (fill in the blank) still isn’t fixed, changed, different? Did I use my time and resources wisely? These thoughts, in and of themselves, are good ones to think about. We need to self-reflect, keep ourselves in check, have others help to keep us accountable. However, did you notice something in each of those questions? They are very “I” focused, rather than God focused.

We have a tendency to not just think long enough to self-reflect. Rather, I can easily find myself dwelling way too long on areas to the point that self-reflection can become worries. How? By not allowing God and His truths to be part of the equation. The truth is that burdens are not meant for us to hold.

Psalm 55:22 reminds us, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” It can’t get any clearer than that, can it? The Word doesn’t qualify or quantify the essence of our burdens. It simply tells us to give our burdens to our Lord. Which ones? All of them.

The beauty of that is that our burdens aren’t simply gone and forgotten. There’s a promise to walking in this truth. He will take care of us. He won’t let us slip and fall. So then why do we always struggle with burdensome thoughts of slipping and falling?

I clearly remember a reoccurring dream that I used to have on a very consistent basis. I would stand at the top of this long, windy staircase, and knowing how long of a walk it was, I would lean over the top railing to see how far down it was. The problem was that I would always slip and fall, straight down the center, with the fall never ending, until I suddenly awoke in a cold sweat. Kind of like an Alice in Wonderland moment, only there was no bottom leading me to a beautiful land of wonder. It was rather like a choke hold that forced thoughts to race through my head, as the speed of falling increased and I watched each level of the staircase flash before my eyes.

That is so much like what we, or at least I, can too often do. I begin thinking about an area that may or may be one that I should concern myself with, and rather than look up, I look down. Down, into myself, rather than up into the eyes of the One who sees me, who knows me, whose hands are so large that He can scoop me out and draw me close to Him, as He says, “Dear one, let me take care of you. You were never meant to fall. You were meant to stand on solid ground, and I am here. Stand on my truths.”

When I choose to do just that, my heart cries out, “Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord” (Psalm 26:12)! That doesn’t meant that the situation suddenly goes away. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done. But just as time and time again through the Old Testament God fought His children’s battles or allowed them to do so, in His power, might, and instruction, we are called to the same today.

What a magnificent feeling it is when we can stand on His solid ground. To breathe. To be held by Him, and to praise Him publicly for all He’s doing and has done for us!

Casting Crown’s song “Just Be Held” is such a wonderful reminder of what our loving Father tells us time and time again, if we would only listen:

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
Theres freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

Don’t get consumed by anything that isn’t of God. We are told to not worry. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us that He has us, He has the situation. We are valuable to Him and He won’t drop us. We won’t fall.

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My Reflections

BE THE CHANGE: Matthew 10:25-37, Mark 12: 30-31, John 3:16


Not to Act is to Act

Almost from the start of mankind, the existence of  evil and suffering have been a part of the human experience. While the faces and the circumstances may change, evil and suffering still persist. Watch the news and there is plenty of evidence of the horrific acts that have been happening in the Ukraine, the beheadings of Christians in Iraq or the fighting and killings in Israel, to name a few.

While these are indeed horrible, there are other acts of evil, of injustice, happening daily in our own country and world-wide. Sex trafficking is one issue many would rather ignore. According to F.R.E.E. International:

1)     There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history, including the trans Atlantic slave trade

2)     Commercial Sex Trafficking is the third largest criminal enterprise in the world

3)     Trafficking occurs both internationally and domestically within the United States

4)     It is estimated that anywhere between 100,000-300,000 children are exploited for commercial sex every year in the United States

5)     The average age a person enters into prostitution in the United States is between 12 and 14 years old(SOURCE: http://freeinternational.org/the-issue)

There’s also the issue of the abuse and neglect of children by the hand of those who are supposed to love and care for them. According to Royal Family Kids, which serves abused and neglected foster children across the globe, “Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America,” and “One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse” (http://royalfamilykids.org/about/our-history). Those are just the facts on the reported cases.

Actor, comedian and humanitarian Robin William’s suicide was another stark reminder that the hurting are among us. Many people put on a good face and say that everything is fine, when their lives are far from it. There are people going through domestic violence. There are people contemplating taking their lives, feeling there is no other way. There are people who wake up every morning wondering why they exist, because they feel worthless. There are those suffering from mental illness. Need I go on?

Unfortunately, we often ignore the obvious signs of the pain in others and the injustices that exist, because it makes us feel uncomfortable or we don’t realize that we can do something to help. What’s even sadder, is we don’t often even notice the pain and injustices around us, because people have learned to hide so much of it, recognizing that most people will sit by and do nothing.

Christians have been taught to serve, to love our neighbors, to get involved when we see someone in need.  Many who haven’t read Matthew 10:25-37, have heard of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  In a nutshell, those who should have helped a stranger who had been victimized walked by him and did nothing, while the most unlikely person stopped to not only help him, but to get personally involved.

Jesus Christ died for all. As John 3:16 tells us, ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  Notice that Christ died for ALL people.  He has and always will love ALL people, and yet, we don’t often do the same.

Love requires action.  Love goes beyond feeling.  Love sometimes involves us to get uncomfortable. Why?  Because it is not about us. It is about others, loving them, protecting them, serving them.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus reminds us, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” To love God is to love people. To love people is to act. 

As my pastor, Dr. Ryan Darrow shared on a Sunday morning, “The Samaritan could have made many excuses to not help, like the others. What area is God asking you to get involved in another’s life? It doesn’t always mean getting involved with an organization, but the person who we see every day.”

We so often feel more comfortable conforming to what others do, even when we know we have the means to help, which doesn’t always mean money. We can help with our skills, talents, knowledge, time, whatever we have and are.  What is right is still what is right. Our lives are meant to make a difference in the lives of others. We are called to fight for justice with whatever we have within us and whatever we have to give.

The Lord calls us to be involved in a practical way. As Pastor Darrow reminded us, “Our neighbors, [at home, school, work] are often metaphorically lying in a ditch hurting. What can you do? What is God calling you to do?”

We are His hands and feet. There are people dying on the inside. You are not where you are without a purpose, a purpose to change the world.

We are called to advocate on behalf of others. They are counting on us. We all know that change is needed. Be the change.

Want to talk with me more about how you can be the change?  Let’s join our efforts. Are you already being the change?  I’d love to hear about what you’re doing.  Let’s inspire one another to do what we were called to do.  May Jefferson Bethke’s latest video inspire you that darkness is losing.

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My Reflections

THE BONDS THAT DON’T BREAK: Romans 8:31-39


My Daughter's Mother's Day Gift to Me
Mother & Daughter Forever: My daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me

I can think of very few bonds that are as strong as that between a child and her parents.  There is very little I wouldn’t do for my daughter, whether getting matching mother/daughter tattoos as we did this Mother’s Day, as her gift to me this year, or unhesitatingly dying for her, which I would do in a heartbeat.

While those may be two extremes situations, one thing I know, without question.  My love for her is boundless.  We are connected forever.

Even stronger than the bonds that tie my beautiful daughter to me, are the bonds that don’t break between our Heavenly Father and His children.  He is very much connected to us.

I know that not all of you may have experienced this sort of parental love, this sort of connection, this sort of bond. However, I know as clearly as I know how I feel about my daughter that my God loves His children without any hesitation, without any wavering, no matter who we are or what we do.

As Romans 8:31-39 reminds us, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but I take comfort knowing that absolutely nothing separates us from our Heavenly Father’s love.  That’s a true bond, one that cannot be broken.  God will eternally love us, ALWAYS!

Do you feel like you’re not good enough for God?  Do you feel like you have messed up so much that God would never consider loving you?  Do you think that God might care about others, but there’s nothing to love about you?

Those are common thoughts or feelings, but God isn’t like that. Just as a loving parent would never dream of turning her back on her child, there is nothing we can do to make God love us or to make Him not love us.  He just loves us, because He is love and He knows no other way to feel towards His creation, His children.

As 1 John 4:7-12 reminds us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

One thing I want my daughter to always know, no matter what happens, is that my love for her will never waver.  It only strengthens with time.  Nothing can ever happen that would break the bond between us, because I wouldn’t let it happen.  I could never let that happen.

God speaks that over us, as well.  How, you may ask?  The Bible is a love letter to us, from start to finish.  It tells us, over and over again how much He loves us.  How desperately He wants to stay connected to us.

Having a hard time believing it?  I would love to chat with you.  Feel free to send me a message.

Want to rediscover that bond with Him? He has been by your side all along.  Just talk with Him.  You’ll quickly discover that the bond still remains.

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My Reflections

THE POWER OF YOUR LIFE: Psalm 139


appreciation

I have taught for 17 years of my life, and I absolutely adore what I do for a living. While I very much enjoy the subject that I teach, I enjoy my students even more. They always brighten my day, remind me of how important it is to serve others and to use our gifts, and they teach me so much more than I ever imagined I would learn, before I embarked on this journey, called teaching.

Over the last two weeks, or so, God has been so kind in showing me some of the impact I have made on my students.  Some showed me their appreciation through gifts, like the one in the picture, given to me during Teacher Appreciation Week. However, this week, four of my classes got to write letters of appreciation to any staff member in the school. While organizing those letters to distribute to my co-workers, I was overwhelmed to discover that a quarter of them were addressed to me.

Very humbling, to say the least!

In one student’s letter, I learned of the impact I had unknowingly had on her, during a very trying time in her life.  Another letter shared a variety of personal traumas she has endured for two years, and she credited me to causing her to finally overcome these traumas. Each letter was such a gift, as these precious teens shared pieces of their hearts with me.

I know that none of this is because of me, but because of Christ within me.  I sat in marvel, over the working of the Holy Spirit, with tears in my eyes, as I read one letter after another.

Psalm 139:1-18 says, Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LordYou go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence. If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

Do you know what I see when I read that? God truly cares about us, has always cared about us, and doesn’t leave us. He sees us, even before anyone else ever did. That’s huge!  That’s amazing!

Honestly, I think that’s a big part of why “what” we do with our lives is so powerful. People want to know that they matter, no matter how old they are. They want, and more importantly need, to be seen, heard, understood.

As I read each of those precious letters, from my students, that’s what I heard speaking to me, over and over again.  You saw me.  You cared.  You went out of your way to go beyond teaching me the subject, and taught me about life.  You believed in me.

All I want to say in return to all of them is this. . .Oh, honey, I don’t just see you, hear you, care about you, and believe in you. God does! If I hadn’t realized that as a child, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my purpose, as I am right now.  Touching you all with His love. You are so very precious to me, because you’re precious to Him.

I encourage you, no matter where God places you, to be His hands and feet to those around you.  It may be an encounter with a person that lasts for just a brief moment, or you may spend years with these individuals.  But, live your life with impactful purpose.

We matter. Others matter, and they matter, because we matter to our Creator.

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My Reflections

MORE THAN JUST A GAME: Part 6 (Final) – Proverbs 4


Don’t let emotions ruin the moment.  I’m an emotional person.  I have no problem admitting that, and emotions can be a fabulous part of who we are, if used correctly. If emotions are steering the course, though, the outcome is normally not the best.  When I am golfing and I allow my emotions to take control, my focus is in the wrong place and what I set out to achieve normally falls short.

I encourage you, to keep your emotions in check (good and bad), as you work towards what you’re trying to achieve. That doesn’t mean to not have any emotions, but as they say, you have to keep your head in the game.

You will have plenty of time to rejoice later, or to possibly feel bad over what could have been, but at least you’ll know that you gave it your all.

While one is doing what must be done, take time to enjoy the view.  One of the big reasons that I love golf is getting to be outdoors.  I love seeing God’s creation. It’s absolutely amazing!  Most of the time, as I am at work, at home, at the store, at church, at the gym, or wherever, I’m indoors. Golf gives me the chance to be outside!  It’s awesome.

iPhoto Library

So, as I end this blog series, let me encourage you, one last time.  As you believe in yourself, follow through, try to improve, pay attention to the details, work through your plan and not let your emotions ruin all you’ve done, take the time to look around.  What’s the point of the journey, if you missed out on all the great points of interest along the way? The end goal is necessary, but life is lived in the seconds and minutes. Make the best of them.   

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My Reflections

MORE THAN JUST A GAME: Part 5 – Proverbs 4


One may have the best of intentions, but without a plan of action and a means of executing that action, those intentions are going nowhere.  When I set up to hit a golf ball, I have the best of intentions.  I have a goal in mind that I aim for, I think through my movements and placement (most of the time anyway), and I do the best I can to recall and repeat what has worked before.  However, I admit that I don’t practice enough, and I don’t look enough at those who know what they’re doing, so I can improve more quickly.

So my intentions may be fantastic, but if I don’t have a plan of action, what do my intentions matter?  Like with any sport, I need to plan out what I’m going to do, if I plan to have more success.  This is so true to life, as well.  How many times have you heard someone say they were going to do something, and you know they had every intention of doing it, but they failed to plan it out? 

You know what happens to those who fail to plan.  It’s great to have a positive attitude and want the best, but success doesn’t usually just happen.  If it is worth it, then it is worth taking the time to plan out how to reach that goal.

When facing a tough situation, go into it prepared.

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My Reflections

MORE THAN JUST A GAME: Part 4 – Proverbs 4


Details matter.  Something else that I’ve learned, as I’ve worked on improving my game, is that details are extremely important in the game of golf. Wrong foot positioning, incorrect movements of the head, wrong analysis of angles, even if slightly off, will affect the entire trajectory of the ball and ultimately, your game.

We often go through life, oblivious to many of the details around us.  People can walk in and out of our day, without us even noticing. The emotions played out on their faces, evidence of who they are and what they’re going through, ignored.  The beauty of nature, art, and so many other things are too often replaced by our electronic devices and a myriad of other distractions.

The impact we are truly meant to have on one another, even if it’s only a small impact, may never happen.  Those seemingly small details can and do change the trajectory of a person’s day, and at times, a person’s life.  We often underestimate the influence our actions have on others, let alone ourselves.

That is a huge mistake, because it is no longer some game of golf.  When we ignore details in our everyday lives, the impact is one that ripples to those we may never meet.  Golf is fun, but life is important.  Don’t let it pass you by.

“Don’t look back at tomorrow and say you could have done more.” – a fire chief on “Chicago Fire”

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