Category Archives: Family

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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Swimming with the Fishes Fearlessly

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to Maui. It’s only our second time to Hawaii. The first time we went, I missed out on the snorkeling trip he and our son went on because I was afraid of the water. I missed out on cool tropical fish, octopus, spinner dolphins, and more. Simply because of fear.

It all started when I took swim lessons at the Collier Park pool in Ramona, California in the third grade. I was a skinny little thing back then, with not an ounce of fat on me and pitiful lung capacity due to living with smokers. The instructor told us to get into the 7′ end of the pool, push away from the side, and tread water. I followed his instructions—and a sunk like a rock. I frantically tread water at the bottom of the pool, looking up at the surface of the water where life-sustaining air was in abundance, terrified that I couldn’t get to the top, until someone jumped in and pulled me out.

Ever since then, if I ever got in a pool, lake, river, or even the ocean—and it has been seldom that I have—I always stay in the shallow end and my hair and glasses stay dry.

But as we planned our trip to Maui, I felt a strong desire to snorkel so that I could witness the beauty of God’s underwater creation. I knew it was going to take more courage than I have on my own to overcome a decades-long fear of water.

So I asked several groups of friends to pray specifically that I would be able to overcome my fear and snorkel. I prayed myself that God would give me courage to experience a successful and enjoyable snorkeling adventure.

God is good. He answered that prayer in ways I never imagined. In fact, I realized afterwards that He had begun answering my prayer 29 years ago when I met my husband, long before I even knew it would be my prayer. God knew I would need more than courage—I would need encouragement and someone to hold my hand through the experience.

I started in the hotel pool with rented snorkeling equipment, including prescription goggles so I could actually see. My husband was patience and encouraging as he sat relaxing in the lounge chair by the pool. Once I had mastered the ability to put my face in the water and breathe through the snorkel, we ventured out to Black Rock just down the beach from our hotel. As we first began to snorkel, my husband literally held my hand and we paddled around together looking at the fish. When I got water in my snorkel and became frustrated and wanted to quit for the day, he didn’t give me a hard time but was understanding.

Although it was a short snorkel that first day, we snorkeled three more times during the week. As long as I needed him to, my husband held my hand. Once when I felt a little panic, I recited one of my favorite versesPhilippians 4:6-7and God’s amazing peace did calm my heart. Eventually I was comfortable in the water and was able to snorkel on my own around Honolua Bay and Honokohua Bay. I even saw an octopus, a turtle, an eel, and a ton of colorful fish and coral.

Are you letting fear hold you back from something you would love to do? Are you missing out on life’s abundant blessings because you are paralyzed by fear and anxiety? Ask God to give you the courage—and whatever else He knows you need—to overcome that fear. He is faithful and He will answer, “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

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Experiencing Texas Skillet – Blind Poetry Poem

The prompt today at dVerse Poets Pub Meeting at the Bar is “The Blind Poet,” which means we were to write a poem using any or all of the senses except sight. I immediately thought of food and all the smells, sounds, and tastes that go with it.

Experiencing Texas Skillet

The aroma of hamburger frying
with onion, a little sweet pepper.
I hear his key in the lock, the creaky hinge
and he says, “It smells like heaven.”

The news drones on from the living room
The electric can opener grinds,
opening beans, tomatoes, corn
Ingredients for our favorite dish

“Dinner’s ready!” Plates clink,
Texas Skillet Dinner is piled high
topped with cheese, sour cream,
and for dairy-free me, avocado

Did I mention chili powder,
chipotle, and cumin to taste
Spicy taste – why it’s “Texas”
with crunchy corn chips on the side

“Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,
and let this Texas Skillet Dinner
to us be blessed,” we say in unison
Then we eat, and it’s heaven.

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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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End of the Story – An Object Poem

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub Meeting at the Bar today was to write a poem inspired by someTHING — to write about the sensory and memory perceptions from an object old or new. A particular object immediately came to mind, and I tried to come up with something less obvious for me, but once an idea takes hold in my mind there’s no point in fighting it. So here’s my object poem about my favorite copy of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.

End of the Story

It holds only
half the story
but the better half
the ending
where peace and joy
reign with the King

Soft red leather
feels like velvet
in my cool hands
smooth as a feather

Parchment thin pages
slide through my fingers
and tiny words require
removal of my glasses
evoking a feeling of
closeness to the Word

And powerful
that’s how it makes me feel
And sad, and grateful

So many memories
of tucking it into
my purse or suitcase
heading to Vegas,
Hawaii, or Salt Lake City

Salt Lake stands out
reading next to my seatmate
heading off on his first
required mission trip
reading a book of his own
That led to quite the
interesting discussion

On my bedside table
a vision of comfort
a source of wisdom
a reminder that I am able
to know my Savior
like a best friend

Now I have a new memory
whenever I gaze
at my favorite little book
and see the tattered spine
chewed by a curious kitten
in his wild and crazy days

And though it is the
end of the Story
its story has not
come to an end
just because of a few
kitten nibbles

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Unheard – A Sedoka (Sort of)

The deafening sound
of a cry unheard, silenced
‘ere it had a chance at life

Echoes whispering
in a mother’s heart and soul
aching to hear what’s unheard

* * * * *

2/25/14 Update: Shared this for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night today because I haven’t had time to write a new poem for today.

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As My Mother Used to Say – A Poem

The Meeting at the Bar prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem using common speech, the language of home. I immediately thought of a saying my mom used to use and that I’ve repeated more times than I can count.

As My Mother Used to Say

“It’s better than a poke in the eye
with a sharp stick,” my mother used to say
As if most everything isn’t better

I guess it was her way of reminding us
that we had it pretty good and shouldn’t complain

I remember talking one day to a stranger
who happened to share my mom’s maiden name
and in the midst of our conversation he said,
“It’s better than a poke in the eye
with a sharp stick!” Imagine my surprise

Turns out he came from the great state
of Michigan, same as my mom
That phrase had traveled from Michigan
to California to Washington to Oregon
Who knows where it went with him

I had a dog once who actually managed
to poke his eye with a sharp stick in the woods
Tore a cornea, then promptly pulled out the stitches
because we didn’t put on his cone of shame

Poor dog had to go under the anesthesia
a second time—it took enough to put
a doberman under, and he was just
a little cocker spaniel.

If anyone understood what was better
than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick
it was that dog

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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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Something New

Note: As you read this post, you might ask yourself why I am telling you so much about my hair dyeing experiences. Trust me, there’s a purpose and a lesson to follow my seemingly rambling story.

In early July I decided to color my hair with a box of auburn hair dye that had been in my hall closet for about five years. We were on vacation for two weeks but didn’t go anywhere and I was starting to go stir crazy so it seemed like a good thing to do. The dye was more like a bit of highlighting, only slightly changing the color of my hair. A few people noticed but not too many. Within six weeks the color had faded significantly because it was the kind that washes out in 24 shampoos.

Then over Labor Day weekend I decided I wanted to do it again because I liked the slight red hint to my hair color, so I went to the store to get a box of the same dye. Unfortunately, that brand and color were no longer available (it having been five years or more since I bought it). So I selected another shade of red in another brand, though still the non-permanent kind that is supposed to wash out, this time after 28 shampoos. I took it home and dyed my hair the Sunday before Labor Day.

The color change was much more dramatic this time. I really wasn’t sure I liked it at first and was reluctant to go out in public as a redhead. Even my color blind husband could tell it was a very different color when he returned home from a backpacking trip at the end of that week. Many people have noticed and commented on my new hair color, and a number of them have taken to calling me Red. Even now, several weeks and many shampoos after dyeing it, my hair is still strikingly red. Today at church I had someone I barely know come up to me for the express purpose of telling me she really liked my hair color. Because the many comments I’ve gotten have all been positive, the new color is starting to grow on me and I think I will probably re-dye it when it fades.

On my way home from church I was thinking about how many more comments I’ve gotten with this dramatic hair color change then I did when I just highlighted my hair. It occurred to me that these experiences are a great analogy for the Christian life.

Scripture tells us that faith in Christ will change us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV). But sometimes we are afraid of a bold new creation that God has called us to be. Instead, we allow little highlights of the new to show through. The change in us is subtle and noticed by only a few, just like my first experience of dyeing my hair with a subtle red highlight.

But if we allow Christ to truly change us and boldly allow His light to shine through, others will notice, even many people we don’t know well. People may even comment on the change. As Christians, as we see this new creation in others, we should comment on this change and provide them with encouragement. Just as receiving positive comments about my new hair color has made me feel much more comfortable with this change, the new Christian will feel much more comfortable with the changes Christ makes in them if they receive positive encouragement.

The apostle Paul taught us to encourage one another when he wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 (NIV). Let us, then, mutually encourage one another to let the Light of Christ shine so that others may see the change He has made in our lives. Let us share the great peace and love He has placed in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed of the new creation that we are in Christ, even when the world scoffs at our faith. Just as I have come to appreciate the nickname Red, let us appreciate and rejoice in the name Christian, followers of Christ, His new creation.

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Bridging the Distance

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to see Dwight Yoakam in concert. It was a great concert — but then Dwight always puts on a great concert. True to my nature, I’ve listened to a lot of Dwight both before and after the concert. He sang one of my favorite songs called “If There Was a Way” and I realized that I did not have that album on my iPod. I quickly remedied that a day or so after the concert and have been listening a lot to that album.

There is another song on that album that has me thinking. It’s called “The Distance Between You and Me.” It’s a sad song about a couple that has grown apart. The chorus says:

I lie awake and hear you breathing
Only inches from me in this bed
Not much space but it’s all that we needed
To live alone now that our love is dead

This song is particularly sad because it describes so many couples in our society today. They start out their marriages happy and blissful, but somewhere along the way a distance grows between them, sometimes so big it’s immeasurable. The distance leaves them alone even as they occupy the same house, the same bed. Many wonder what leads to such aloneness.

But it’s really no mystery. Quoting Psalm 4:4, the apostle Paul advised, “‘In your anger do not sin’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV). Sadly, so many people do not heed this advice. Pride, anger, and lack of forgiveness cause the distance. One spouse says or does something that hurts the other, maybe intentionally but maybe not. And the other spouse refuses to forgive, holds a grudge. Then another incident leads to another grudge, and on and on it goes. Each grudge separates them and eventually enough anger and unforgiveness destroys the love and intimacy they once enjoyed.

Another problem that causes a distance between husband and wife is when one or the other uses sex as a weapon, when because of anger one refuses the other’s advances. Paul also warned against this situation when he gave his “Instruction on Marriage” in 1 Corinthians:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT).

Thankfully, there is a way to bridge the distance and loneliness, and heal the hearts of estranged love. Honesty, love, and forgiveness will heal all wounds. Live together with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV).

The best option is to live by God’s design for a healthy marriage as revealed in His Word and thereby prevent Satan from getting a foothold in your lives and creating that distance that destroys love and intimacy. But where Satan has already gained a foothold and a distance has grown, that distance can be bridged by love and forgiveness. Love that appears dead can be given new life by God’s grace.

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