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
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.
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
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.
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
Filed under Family, Life, Poetry
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.
The lesson and challenge over at dVerse Poets Pub Form for All today is to write a poem based on a mathematical series. I chose the counting series 1 to 5 and then in reverse for mys second stanza. I might come back later and write another based on another of the mathematical series Tony mentioned in his post.
From Regret to Delight
letting go pride
humbly loving and forgiving
making memories peaceful and sweet
Trusting God’s compassion and grace
humbly healing all hurts
revealing great truth
While I was taking a break from blogging I missed a number of Form For All lessons at dVerse Poets Pub, so I decided yesterday to go check out the lessons I had missed to see if there was a new poetry form I could try. Sam Peralta—one of my favorite dVerse teachers—offered a lesson on the Japanese poetry form called the sedoka that consists of two tercets with lines of 5, 7, and 7 syllables each. Sam wrote, “The poem’s two verses usually provide two perspectives on the theme, with a sharp division after the third line, and a soft turn after line five, before the conclusion.” I decided to give it a try with one of my favorite themes.
Savior, then Lord
He died on the cross
Saving the souls of mankind
A free gift of salvation
We accept His gift
But this is not quite enough
For true change He must be Lord
shed with love
offering my soul salvation.
This short poem is an elfje. I followed the link of a blogger who liked one of my posts, and then followed a link on her site to another blogger who had posted a lesson on how to write this little gem of a poetry form. I decided to give it a try.
With the approach of Lent, I’ve been pondering whether I would give something up this year or add a daily habit as I have done in the past. I thought about blogging every day for Lent, like I did in 2010, but I have a lot going on right now and have been enjoying the freedom of not feeling like I have to post something every day. Then I thought about taking an extended break from blogging, including not checking my blog stats or reading other blogs, so that I would have more time to focus on the new Bible Study Fellowship study I am starting tonight. I was leaning towards the latter option.
Then yesterday in church the sermon was based on Acts 17:16-34 (NIV) about Paul’s missionary efforts in Athens. Verse 17 says “So he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” I decided then that I would blog every day instead of giving up blogging for Lent.
But still I was concerned about how I was going to accomplish this. Then last night as I was trying to go to sleep a poem started forming in my mind, keeping me awake. I recently placed a small notebook and pen next to my bed to write down poems or other blog ideas so that they would not get lost like the poem that was the subject of a recent poem of mine titled A Poem Lost. So I flipped on the light, scribbled down the beginning and ending of this poem so that I could finish it later (I will be posting it tomorrow). I turned out the light and as I again tried to sleep it occurred to me that I could write a short poem every day for Lent. It will require the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task, but with His help I can.
So beginning on Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent, I will be posting 40 new poems, one for each day of Lent (not counting Sundays). As Paul did, I will be sharing God’s love day by day as we approach Holy Week and the blessed death and resurrection of Jesus.