A few days ago, when I passed by the desk of our executive editor, Paul Currie, I saw two little books—one titled To Him, and the other For Him. Both books were poetry. I was interested. Paul told me he received these books as a gift from the author, Shirley Rugen, a reader and supporter of Today in the Word for the last twenty years. My interest grew. A few days later, I had the privilege of talking with Shirley over the phone, and I’m glad to tell our readers about her and highlight a few of her poems as part of our series, The Creative Pursuits of Our Readers.
Shirley Rugen’s life, as well as her family’s,has been connected with Moody for many years and in many ways. She’s been listening to Moody Radio since she was a teenager. After she got married and had children, she started reading Today in the Word and attended Moody’s evening school in the 40s. “Today in the Word gives me the opportunity to go deep into the Scriptures,” she said, “I also like to read all the columns in each issue, and then I go through the whole page of the devotional.” Her family saw Today in the Word issues around the house and listened to the sounds of Moody Radio programs. That’s why it’s a special pride for her that her son works at Moody Radio Chicago and sees his work as a calling and a ministry.
Shirley’s first collection of poems came out in 1961. The second volume appeared in 2013, and the third one is in the making. Shirley is writing new poems often, sometimes three or four a week, giving them to others as a gift of encouragement. I hope they will encourage you as well.
He Is Nigh
The hairs on your head are
God knows how many are there;
A sparrow can’t fall without Him
To know, to see, and to care.
So why hesitate to trust Him?
To God, your value is high.
There’s nothing to fear tomorrow—
If today, you know He is nigh!
A friend is like a precious jewel—
It’s never valued by a fool;
For there are those who fail to see
The true worth of a rarity.
A friend is like a gleam of light—
It brightens up the darkest night;
For when you’re lost or gone astray,
Its brilliance helps you find the way.
A friend will always faithful be—
Bound to you by loyalty;
And though the others pass you by,
A friend stays with you ’til you die.
Today I’m sitting all alone,
As I so often do—
Reliving all those happy years
That I have spent with you.
The Lord, in love, has given us
The gift of memory.
He knew what comfort and what joy
That special gift would be.
I awoke this morning feeling sad—
And I know it was the dream I had:
You and I were young—
our love was new.
All my heart and hope were
wrapped in you.
It was just as clear as could be—
God had picked the perfect
one for me.
And our lives, entwined,
had much in store—
All we ever thought, or asked,
But you’re gone now and
I’m left alone.
(How I wish that Heaven
had a phone!)
Yet, the joys that linger in my heart
Bring you close again,
though we’re apart.
When I talked with Shirley on the phone I heard a woman of verve, vitality, and courage, who told me in a strong, young voice: “I’m a long-time champion of Moody!” It was somewhat of a surprise to me when I learned that Shirley is 90 years old. Not only do her poems encourage others, but her life itself is also an inspiration. A well-known maxim, “Age is just number,” is true in Shirley’s life—a testimony that with God, despite all the hardships and losses, you can stay vital, creative, optimistic—and a strong champion! A champion with a great sense of humor: I’m sure you’ll agree with this poem from her latest collection.
Chocolate needs no excuse—
Its benefits are many!
And the pleasure that it gives
Is even more uncanny!