Thursday, April 11, 2019

April Poem-a-Day Challenge Day 11

Today's prompt asked us to write a dedication poem, a "to" or "for" someone or something. You can get more info and get on board with National Poetry Writing Month by checking out the daily prompts at writersdigest.com. 


For the Boy

If passion were any more a person than you, my boy,
If fervor itself could somehow favor any further the eyes of the one you call Papa in your silliness
I couldn’t imagine how
Couldn’t conjure up a more tightly-wound, sturdily and heartily packed soul than yours, son

You are messy triumph and a treasure.

All brimming with bounds of ideas
Tinted in technicolor
Comic-paned within cells of story
Swimming feverishly off your tongue every time the room falls quiet:

“Mom, do you want to hear my new idea?”

So I stir the tomatoes into the sauce
While your dingy-socked feet fitfully trace the ceramic floor tiles
Back and forth and again
As you spin yarns of your future creations
Tales of heroes and justice and how good always, ALWAYS buries evil
In the end

You have the soul of a justice warrior, sweet boy

And maybe (no, definitely) you add to your tale just a dash of
Good ole potty humor
It is, after all, the secret ingredient for a guaranteed laugh
The spicy nutmeg of every teen boy’s adventure
And you giggle at yourself

You are a web of wit and wonder

In the undertones of your words, I clearly make out
Your deep, unabated thirst for truth
For what’s right and what needs to be righted
That fire within you that often erupts in angry words and fists and tears
Of confusion
Of compassion for the underdog

Son, stoke that fire!

And I keep stirring the sauce as it boils and bubbles along with
The tempo in your tale
Your heart and voice crescendo until
“and that’s how it ends.”
Mama’s smile whispers a prayer to your Good Maker
Begging Him that no matter how often you lose in life
No matter what gets corrupted or falls down and tries to stay down
That you will never lose the fire for a just and good story
Because the best stories lead us
We weary wanderers
And the few righteous storytellers among us
Become our guides into vibrant life-songs and salvation.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Emerging - poem and mixed media

Emerging (a haiku) 

Shadows, they cover
Sever the beauty from song
Lord, let me emerge.



Emerging (mixed media - acrylic and paper on 12x12 canvas)

Explaining seasons of depression is difficult. The darkness is deeply real and felt, but is so hard to put into meaningful words:  the shadow that covers up what was once beautifully beheld, the spiral, the drain of color, the frail prayer requesting emergence from the shadow. 

But Light will not be stopped

Sometimes, though, coming out of that dark feels much less like a triumphal entry and much more like straining your vision at a crack of light sneaking in through a slowly opening door; or like a puncture, a tiny fissure, that opens to let you drip back into the joy of life. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Untitled -- a free verse warm-up

April is right around the corner, sort of, and that means the bi-annual Poem-A-Day challenge is coming up soon. I am not great at free verse, but I wanted to start stretching my free verse writing muscles a little early this year, hoping to settle in to a style or flow in that category.  Being that we have stepped into the Lenten season, as we fast, as we search, as we wait, there is much to dig into within the darkness of the season.

Untitled

I'm glad for where I am
But getting here cost me
Everything
And sometimes
It feels like
My very bones will break trying to dam up the heavy tears
Pooling always in my heart
For what was lost.

Hope you'll consider joining the PAD Challenge next month at writersdigest.com. It's so good for soul and craft.

Blessings!




Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dear Pastor(s) -- A Plea for Biblical Literacy in the Modern Church


PASTOR, PLEASE STOP DOWNPLAYING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY AND KNOWLEDGE OF SCRIPTURE.

(Photo by Samantha Sophia)

Reading the Word isn’t just a “good thing to do”, it is how we come to know the God we serve. Scripture is a lifeline. God introduces Himself to us in every nuance of context, every scene into which He steps mightily, every carefully preserved phrase. Layer after layer after layer of beauty and truth. Tell your flock to look, read, study and find Him there. It is the knowledge of God that will guide their hearts and actions.

Pastor, please do not continue to only bottle feed the flock. Open the lid, entice them toward the meat of the Word. And, Pastor, if you have not yet developed a flavor for that meat yourself, if you don’t feel able to digest it just yet, please step away from the podium until the Spirit of God has formed that maturity within you. Then come back and tell them that you have truly tasted that the Lord is good and lead them well toward that good.

Tell them, Pastor, that getting to truly know our God is a lifelong pursuit and it’s okay that it won’t fully happen in a weekend. The almighty, sovereign Creator of the universe is not two inches deep, so please don’t keep them in the shallow end. Tell them our God is a bottomless ocean of goodness, richness, wisdom and truth, all of which He longs to reveal to us. Tell them that they will never reach the bottom of that ocean, but that they should swim hard as if they could. Let them know it’s okay to feel like they are drowning at times -- it’s called conditioning and it will make them stronger. Tell them God is always faithful to breathe new life into those who delve completely after Him. He is worth every effort.

And, Pastor, don’t let your people think this life or the faith or the church is about them, about their fulfillment this side of eternity. You do them a disservice allowing them to remain in a consumer mindset. Our Messiah did not come to give us a lifestyle pattern to follow. He came to give us Himself. God Himself came to give us Himself. And He doesn’t just demand ritual behaviors from His people, but the surrender of our whole selves. He does not long to simply grant our wishes, our earthly desires, but to transform every tiny piece of our existence until every desire we hold is shaped fully into a desire for Him alone. Because in the life we are running toward, the new life, the new creation, what we will receive is HIM.

Be in the Word. Pastor, show them how to be in the Word. Give them wise guidance and understanding not catch phrases and trendy mantras. Only what is true will stand through the fire. And in the days ahead, when the name of Jesus isn’t marketable, when following heavenly ways brings earthly penalty, they will need a foundation that will be unshakeable, a higher ground built firmly on their learned and experienced knowledge of the one true God and the redemption He has promised us in Christ.





Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The House and Her Builder


The House and Her Builder . . . 
. . . a parable, of sorts, inspired by Luke 11:24-26

A quaint, old house sat lonely on the market for too long. Her doors were solemn, speechless. Her rooms shivered cold and vulnerable. She was “available” and scrubbed clean, yet throughly empty. And that is the merciless key to this story, because her quiet emptiness allowed the squatters to arrive in full force. They came not to make a home, not to beautify her walls nor to entangle joyful memories within her brick and mortar tapestry, but to simply exist, and with ill intent at that. And to selfishly devalue. And to destroy carelessly. The house was uninhabited and seemingly forgotten, so they took full advantage of her vacancy.

Then one day, the builder of the house, the man whose very hands had drawn the plans and nailed the nails, happened by the structure. And he bore witness to how things had gone so very wrong. He grieved the disarray of her scuffed shutters. He wept for the overgrown weeds and the straggly nature of the shrubberies around her hem. He inhaled the now pungent smell of what was once a carefully crafted clean slate -- she had been like a fresh page aching for pictures and words. And his heart quietly fell apart as he recalled his own vision for what this home would be, who she would become. But now it appeared, at least to the average observer, that she would be utterly lost.

So this man took action.

The builder bought the house that his hands had built. He paid handsomely. In full.

And he violently evicted those vile squatters.

Then the builder began the delicate process of suturing up the destruction those vagrants had wrought, beginning the painstaking work of covering each scar precisely, patiently. All the while, he lavishly filled the house to her brim with colorful paintings, with books housing stories that leapt from the page, with intricate foreign embroideries, with laughter and with love and with purpose. The house was at last secure, with no void, no place for intruders. She would be kept; she was full. Finally, there would be a strong someone to protect this precious property, this house the builder designed with care, for which he sweated and fretted and even bled.

The kind builder ransomed his creation from the destroyers to make it his own again. She had been the work of his hands, and so she was so precious to him, valuable beyond measure.

And this house, she became his home forever.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Good God and Matters of Trust

A smarter woman than I recently pointed out that betrayal is such a dark beast, in part, because it digs into and stains every memory of that relationship. It causes you to second guess your own faculties with regard to how and IF you trust.

In an attempt to avoid self-examination, I’ve been doing some medicating here lately with general life-busyness, a good bit of Netflix and copious amounts of Sonic raspberry sweet tea (like, way, WAY too much sweet tea).  I know that when that kind of thing starts going down, there must be some seriously ugly stuff that needs sorting through in my heart, so here goes.

See, tonight, I sat in a room full of maybe a hundred folks who purposely left their warm Sunday afternoon homes and drove, some for half an hour or more, through cold, wet interstates to gather for prayer, to ask for God to hear them, to hear US, and to answer. 

Leaders asked prayers for members who are about to trek across the frozen Siberian landscape to share the warmth of the Gospel with a people who don’t yet know their God loves them . . . So we prayed.

Husbands tearfully asked for their wives to be healed, for their children to be whole . . . So we prayed.

Elders requested God’s wisdom in big decisions that lie ahead for the sheep they so carefully seek to shepherd . . . So we prayed.

I’m new to this family of believers, and although I don’t know most of these people, they seem so kind, so in tune with the Spirit, so ready to be given for the Kingdom. The Bride is beautiful.

But then, in the middle of that beauty, a dark voice in the back of my mind:  
“But you know you can’t trust them.”

I’m so sick of that voice. It’s crippling. 

The last year has been really hard, that’s all.  It’s a tough pill to swallow when a safe, accepting, TRUST-worthy place suddenly turns dark and foreign and abrasively unwelcoming. I know, it happens sometimes, we fail one another. But it still hurts. And it slaughters the propensity to trust.

And yet TRUST is an absolute necessity among the Saints. Even if I’m stuck, my heart all plugged up. So I try to remember that God provides. God provides. God provides.

And yet the pain is so real, sometimes it speaks ugly, destructive words into a beautiful moment of opening.

What I am left with every time this wave sweeps over (besides a big pile of tissues and puffy eyes), what I am holding most tightly to tonight, is a promise, His promise that healing WILL come . . . eventually. And I do personally know this well, because many years ago, there was an abused, broken, skeptical young woman who went off to college and met a cute boy who loved God and could sing, and she learned to trust again. It felt like a miracle. It was. A good God does things like that for His people, for His purposes.

So, yes, I know it will come someday. Someday. But the meantime is just a profoundly sad time. I keep going back to this line in Andrew Peterson’s “The Rain Keeps Falling”:

“I’m dying to live, but I’m learning to wait.”


Learning to wait. Waiting to live again. Because He is faithful. Because eventually you must touch bottom and begin coming up. Because trust must be genuine and God-given. And because the beauty of His Bride is worth even the scars.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Poem a Day Challenge -- Day four

Whosoever Desires a Friend

Whosoever desires a friend,
and desires to BE a friend,
reaches for a pure and holy goal.


For the One who once created
created one, then said, "No,
there need be two. There must be two."

"Alone will never do."

For souls blossom in community best
and know rest tangled up in the
mess of a trusted other.

It's that quiet sting of being exposed and yet loved
and loving back; a cyclical dance,
like romance, but stronger.

And, my friend, I wish we'd been friends longer.