Category Archives: Blogging

Patience in the Homestretch

It’s been awhile since I posted anything. October 30 was my last post, to be exact, so it’s been 25 days. I blame it on being in the homestretch of finishing my poetry book.

I finished the final edits of the poems and decided on how to break it into chapters two weeks ago, but then I agonized over format, font, and what Bible verses to include after some of the poems. I thought I had it all done, then I read the specs on CreateSpace for how to format the final PDF and realized I hadn’t done something right. That required changing the font size and paragraph formatting of each individual poem.

Two days ago I uploaded the final PDF to CreateSpace and set up all the necessary book information. I also registered my new publishing company, John 14:6 Publications, with the Oregon Secretary of State as an Assumed Business Name to be the publisher of this and future books I have planned. I’m all ready to publish!

Except, I don’t have a cover yet. My cover designer, who is my son, is still working on designing my cover. I’m trying to be patient, but it’s hard, because I’m anxious to be done with this project. I feel like an overdue pregnant woman. (And trust me, I know how that feels because my son was overdue.)

But in Bible Study Fellowship we recently studied a passage that reminded me of why I asked my son to draw the cover art in the first place. Exodus 31:1-5 (NIV) says:

Then the Lord said to Moses,
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.”

I know that God has gifted my son with artistic skill, the ability to draw beautiful designs. I’ve seen the concept sketch he did for my book cover—which only took him 10 minutes to sketch while I read him some of my poems—and I know it was truly inspired. I know that God gave me this resource so that I didn’t have to pay someone else to create my cover.

I also know that God told Moses to make sure the skilled and gifted workers, who fashioned the tabernacle exactly according to God’s pattern shown to Moses, got their Sabbath rest. Even though the work of building the tabernacle was important, regular rest in the Lord was more important. And I knew when I asked my son to create my book cover that he had other responsibilities, including art school and work, and that he also needs his rest.

And so I am being patient. The book will be done soon and available on Amazon.com and other online retailers. My goal was to have it published by year’s end and by the grace of God that will happen.

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To Publish – A List Poem

Today over at dVerse Poets Pub Meeting at the Bar, Tony Maude challenges us to write a list poem. As I read his article and poetry examples, I decided to write a list about the things I still need to do to self-publish my poetry book. I accomplished a lot this summer towards my goal of publishing by year end, but loose ends remain. I think a to do list on paper, instead of just in my head, will be helpful.

To Publish

Talk to reviewers
“How’s it going? When do you think you’ll be done?”

Consider suggested edits, proofread and edit

Decide on Bible verses to include and where
And divisions, do where do I include divisions?

Promote the book on Facebook, blog, Twitter

Final formatting, styles, font, so many decisions

Edit the preface and acknowledgements
Finish the front matter

Tell everyone I know I’m publishing a book of poetry

Encourage Benton to finish the cover art
Love the concept sketch; can’t want to see his final draft

Create a final PDF
Proof one more time to make sure it’s right

Upload PDF to CreateSpace
and upload cover art to design cover

Publish

Pray (wait, this probably should be first on the list)

Start on the next manuscript

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Darkness to Light – Take Two

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to think of our words as seeds and to consider what we want to grow from what we write. I decided to share a revised version of a poem I wrote almost three years ago. I recently submitted the original version to a poetry contest, and although I did not make it into the final round I received some great feedback, so I decided to incorporate that feedback into this version.

What I hope will grow from these seeds are encouragement, hope, and faith for at least one person who is struggling today with the darkness of depression.

Darkness to Light—Take Two

Darkness surrounded me
Darkness invaded my mind
Darkness enveloped my barren soul

In the darkness
The evil one whispered
Thoughts that seemed my own
They’d be blessed without me
It would be better if I was dead

Tears drowned me
Tears flooded my mind
Tears drenched my barren soul

Through the tears
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I believed were true
I am broken beyond repair
These tears will never end

Pain ensnared me
Pain clouded my mind
Pain threatened my barren soul

Amplifying the pain
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I was powerless to deny
This pain will forever cripple me
I will never know joy

Then God’s Light
Pierced the darkness
Illuminating my soul
Revealing the sin in my mind
Proclaiming the way for me

Forgive Jesus whispered
As I’ve forgiven you
Your darkness will subside
His words are true

Then God’s Love
Dried all my tears
Infusing my soul with joy
Clarifying truth in my mind
Declaring healing for me

Live Jesus whispered
As I live in you
Your tears will be dried
His words are true

Then God’s Truth
Erased my pain
Protecting my soul
Clearing lies from my mind
Redeeming my life for me

Love Jesus whispered
As I forever love you
Your pain will be decried
His words are true

Darkness, tears, and pain
Replaced by my Savior’s
Light, Love, and Truth
Holding me forevermore
He is my Light

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Illustrating the Importance of Diversity

As I’ve mentioned before, this past weekend I attended the Faith and Culture Writers Conference in Newberg. There was a very interesting keynote speaker who was relevant to something I am involved in at work. I am part of the Diversity Advisory Council at the Oregon State Bar and so I’m always on the lookout for information and illustrations that are relevant to that role. I didn’t really expect to find that at this conference, but I did.

The speaker’s name is Randy S. Woodley and he spoke on the topic of diversity. He used two illustrations for how important diversity is that resonated with me.

First, he used the image of a fruit orchard vs. a fruit forest. In the fruit orchard there are only fruit trees that are all alike. If disease comes to the orchard all of the trees are likely to be wiped out. In a fruit forest, however, among the fruit trees many other plants are planted to provide important nutrients to the soil to strengthen the trees, while the trees provide a sheltered habitat for those same plants. All the different plants and trees work together to create an environment that is better for all of them. In the fruit forest, if disease comes the fruit trees and plants are more likely to survive because they have strengthened one another.

Second, he used the image of stew vs. a melting pot. He said that a diverse culture needs to be like stew that has many different ingredients, but that each ingredient retains its own shape and flavor while simultaneously enriching the flavor of the other ingredients. A melting pot, on the other hand, involves all of the different ingredients being melted down to be the same. I liked this illustration because I love stew.

Here is a link to Randy’s website about his ministry with Native Americans, working within their culture rather than trying to change it. http://eagleswingsministry.com/about/index.htm

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Poetry and Fearlessness

Last weekend I went to the Faith and Culture Writers Conference in Newberg, Oregon. I was really looking forward to it for weeks before the event. And for the most part it was not disappointing.

I was inspired by several of the speakers — Tony Kriz made me laugh, Deidra Riggs taught me that patience in following God’s lead will reveal the unexpected, and Paul Louis Metzger showed me inspiration from King David I’d never seen — but the most inspiring of all was Phil Long, a spoken word poet that opened my mind to the real possibilities of poetry. We heard Phil share his poetry both Friday night and Saturday afternoon, plus I went to his break-out session in which he shared videos of several other awesome spoken word poets. As I listened, I poem started forming in my mind, but the weekend was too busy to get more than a title written down. Later he sat down with us at lunch and I got to talk to him about his poetry and preferred self-publishing platforms.

The theme for me for the weekend was “no fear.” It sounds so easy. Just don’t fear. Nowhere was that message clearer than the break-out session by Elizabeth Chapin. In the space of fifty minutes, in a session titled Creative Nonfiction: The Art of Telling the Truth, she shared her story in great detail. I learned from her that the little details are important — like how she spoke slowly and deliberately, that every seat in the room was full, and my dear friend Ginger sat to my right. A young guy in the back asked about using story arc in memoirs, and I wondered how he could already have experienced anything to write a memoir about. Elizabeth told me that telling my story is important. I left that session with more bits of my poem swirling around in my head.

The conference ended with reminders that I belong, that I am a writer, and that writing about our experiences in the context of faith and culture is essential.

So you might think that as soon as I got home I would have committed that poem to paper (or computer screen) and post it. I did start to write it. I sat in my favorite writing chair in my room and turned on the floor lamp. I pulled out the purple Relay for Life journal that I’d taken with me to the conference and turned to the page with my poem title — Memories Haunting the Light. I wrote the first two stanzas, coming to the stanza that was to describe the first “memory” that haunts me. I was going to be fearless and put it all down on paper. But I didn’t. Instead, I closed the journal and went to work on dinner.

As the days have passed and the journal has remained closed, I’ve pondered Paul’s thorn, and how we don’t know what his thorn was and that makes his experience more universal so that anyone with any thorn can relate to Jesus saying His grace is sufficient. Then I wonder if that thought and its corresponding decision to write only vaguely of my experiences, rather than in vivid detail, is merely a means of denying my fear.

And again I wonder what it is I’m afraid of and how I can continue to fear when my Savior has clearly commanded me not to, and provided me of examples of people who have not feared and been blessed as a result.

I do know that I no longer fear compiling the poetry I have written into a book and self-publishing. I did gain valuable information about self-publishing that I will put to good use this year and was encouraged. And now I’m looking forward to Faith and Culture Writers Conference 2015!

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Fewer Words – A Poem

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday was to write poem about a time or times that influenced our evolution to the poet we are today. I had to really think about this one to come up with something, and here’s what I came up with.

Fewer Words

First it was research papers,
then long-winded briefs

Perhaps just a memo
or letter to a client

but never a poem,
that’s not the sort for me

Expressing in essays
my thoughts and beliefs

No limit on wordiness
to slow me down

Others expressed ideas
great and profound

in simple poetry
of few lines and words

Maybe, just maybe
I could give it a try

Use fewer words to express
the mercy and grace of my Savior

the pain and the darkness
shattered by Light

Turns out a few words
are sometimes all it takes

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We Should Have Named Him Trouble – A Character Poem

The MeetingTheBar prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today was to write a character sketch, or include a character sketch, in a poem. Because our new kitten is at the vet today getting neutered he is on my mind, so I decided to write about him.

We Should Have Named Him Trouble

Alucard the seven pound kitten
His size I suspect will double

With him we are quite smitten
Though his middle name is Trouble

Slinking along almost flat
Preparing for an ambush

For stealth he has a knack
Until he wiggles his little tush

Yet so very sweet he can be
This funny little feline

Great love he gives for free
He’ll sleep in your lap or mine

Like a motor boat heard from afar
His purring announces his arrival

He sits up high as though he were czar
For his shoulder perch there is no rival

Like a panther sleek and black
He has the heart of a rebel

One day he’ll be a lazy old cat
But for now the mischief’s treble

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Remembering to Breathe

Some people may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately. In fact, I’ve only posted one thing since Jan. 1, 2014. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas of things to write, because I have. And it’s not that I haven’t had any time at all to write, because as busy as I am there are time-waster activities I could give up so that I could write and post.

To be honest, I don’t really know what’s kept me from writing. However, a few weeks ago I went to a seminar titled “Just Write,” which I initially signed up for just to get the MCLE credits that I need. But it inspired me to pull out my pen (or my laptop) once again. Then over the last two weeks I wrote an essay for the writing contest for the Faith and Culture Writers Conference that I’ll be attending; Doing that reminded me of how much I love writing and want to get back to it. So tonight I wrote three short-form poems and have scheduled them to post over the next three days.

My goal—though I kind of hesitate to set one in writing for the world to see—is to post two or three new poems or essays each week. I need to “just write.” I won’t call it a resolution—it’s a bit late in the year for that anyway—but rather it’s an obligation to myself, akin to breathing.

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Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is my four-year blogging anniversary. It was September 25, 2009 that I decided to try my hand at sharing my writing with the world. That first day I posted four different posts, I was so excited for the new adventure. Over the past four years I have:

  • Published 988 posts (plus this one, which makes 989)
  • Completed a post-a-day challenge in 2011, actually publishing more than 365 posts that year
  • Had over 110,000 page views, starting with an average of 17 per day that first month and reaching a high average of 167 per day for March 2013
  • I’ve had page views from 171 countries out of the 195 countries in the world since February 25, 2012, when WordPress started tracking these stats
  • Gained 300 blog followers, plus 39 Twitter followers and 188 people who read my posts from Facebook links
  • Made a bunch of blogging friends who have blogs I love to read when I have time
  • Talked with numerous family and friends about my blog and been encouraged by their appreciation for what I write
  • Had 6,241 comments posted, though probably a third of those are me responding to comments
  • Started writing poetry, including a 40-poems-for-Lent session in 2013, and a total of 285 poems
  • Been invited to contribute to two other blogs, one of which (Broken Believers) is still in operation
  • Participated in a bunch of Open Link Nights and other poetry challenges at dVerse Poets Pub
  • Boldly shared the Gospel with the hopes of bringing the Light of Christ to as many people as I can
  • Based on hits for my recipes, helped a lot of people with their Traeger cooking
  • Taken one three-month sabbatical from blogging, though it wasn’t planned, it just happened
  • And thoroughly enjoyed myself so much that I am truly looking forward to my next four years of blogging and beyond

When I started, I could never have imagined the journey I’ve been on. I have no idea where God will take this blog in the future, but I have no doubt that He is in control of it every step of the way and that the rest of the journey is going to be awesome.

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Living with Regrets – A Poem

Next week I am going to see Dwight Yoakam in concert. I love Dwight for the way that he writes and sings of lost love in such a way that it makes me truly appreciate the love of my life. I’ve been thinking this week about a post on this topic, then today the Form for All lesson over at dVerse Poets Pub was a challenge to write Twitter poetry, in which each stanza is exactly 140 characters. It seemed like a good medium for my thoughts on Dwight’s music.

Living with Regrets

At the end of this long life
no one will regret that
their life wasn’t more like
a Dwight Yoakam song,
sad and lonelier, -
heartache filled.

1000 miles of misery
stem from pride,
love lost and heartache found
leaving that sweet face behind
watching clouds, engines roar

Knowing love will never return
feeling emptiness and loss
stems from neglect of love
not reaching out or being there-
Needing words of hope.

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