Tag Archives: Faith

The End – A Poem of Hope

What will you hear
When His coming is near
Rumors of war
Earthquakes galore
Widespread famine
Love of mammon

Don’t be alarmed
Your future is charmed
By the gift of life
That overcomes strife
Peace will transcend
When He comes in the end

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Thoughts on “Discovering My Purpose”

The following is an essay I wrote for the Faith and Culture Writers Conference 2014. It is the essay that I mentioned in an earlier post that was scored 29/100 by one judge and 68.5/100 by the other. One of the comments I received from the first judge was that if the first sentence of the third paragraph was so important I should give it more than a passing mention. As I’ve thought about that comment this week, and struggled with whether to post this essay here, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to say any more about the past than I have here. That is not my real story and the details aren’t that important. Rather, my story is the story of Redemption through Christ and to focus on the details of the past does not further that story.

Discovering My Purpose

We are all born with a unique purpose. I now know my purpose is to glorify God with my writing and poetry, but I didn’t always.

Writing is in my blood and is the backbone of much of what I have done in my life. Naturally, I pursued a career that involves writing—I became a lawyer and now hold the title Director of Legal Publications. I am also an avid blogger and poet for the Lord. But I’m getting ahead of myself. My journey towards realizing my purpose as a poet has involved walking through darkness and pain, which I often masked with my own personal achievement and pride.

I went to college largely to escape the small town I had grown up in, having been gravely wounded there. I pursued a political science major at a small liberal arts college, which required writing numerous long research papers and essay exams. I enjoyed the process of consulting diverse research sources and crafting cohesive arguments. Despite the admissions director’s warning that I would surely earn some C grades, I immersed myself in my studies and excelled, graduating in the top 11 percent of my class without one C.

Next, I attended law school and again thrived. Writing meticulously-cited research papers and briefs as well as challenging essay exams suited me. In fact, my first semester Contracts professor distributed copies of my final exam as an example of an A+ essay. I learned the IRAC writing method—IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. Because of my naturally organized writing style, I excelled and graduated cum laude. I was on my way to greater success!

During this time I believed in God but He took a backseat to my life and achievements. I was proud of my accomplishments and failed to recognize my writing ability was a God-given talent. I had great knowledge about writing, but I didn’t have wisdom to know what He had created me to write.

After law school I accepted an associate position at a small construction law firm. I was thrust into a world where writing was not the key to success as I had assumed it would be for any lawyer. Meanwhile, the small-town past I had buried under mounds of academic achievements caught up with me and I took a nosedive into major clinical depression. My boss and I “agreed” that this firm was not right for me; I found myself looking for another job. I landed one easily enough, but it didn’t last either.

For the next six years I battled with depression, with the devil himself, trying to find myself and get back on track. During this time most of my writing was private journaling—primarily rants about how hopeless my life was. I wrote a few poems, but they weren’t very good and were quite self-focused. For example, I wrote this untitled poem:

The me that no one knows
writes poetry and prose

The me that people see
writes briefs in legalese

The me that no one knows
seeks counseling for my woes

The me that people see
pretends I’m always pleased

There’s really only one of me
but different sides I reveal
depending on the circumstances
or how I think I should feel

I tried medication and counseling to find relief from depression, all to no avail. My doctor told me that I would be on antidepressants for the rest of my life, though I couldn’t see how they were helping me. I researched depression, trying to find the answer, and came across a book titled, “The Broken Brain.” Reading it, I concluded that my brain, the thing upon which I had hung my professional hat, was irreparably broken. I felt helpless and hopeless, to the point of contemplating ending my life, thinking my husband and young son would be better off without a wife and mother who was so broken.

And this is where God stepped in through the kindness of a Christian friend who invited me to Bible study. During that months-long study of Ezra and Nehemiah, God brought me back from my exile into darkness and depression. He taught me that it was not my brain that was broken, but my heart and my soul. He showed me that anger and unforgiveness I had been harboring for over 15 years drove my depression. He gave me wisdom and strength to forgive. He healed my brokenness and gave me hope. He became my Light, my Rock, and my Redeemer. I learned to boast in Him, not myself. (Jeremiah 9:23-24.)

Not long after, God led me to an unadvertised position as managing editor of a legal newsletter. I was writing again! That position became a stepping stone to my current position in legal publishing, which I love. But still something was missing in my life. I was not passionate about what I was writing at work. In my managerial position, sharing God’s gift of salvation was not appropriate. I longed for a spiritual outlet for my writing.

In September 2009, through a series of God-orchestrated events, I started blogging. Initially, I wrote short essays about faith, life, music, and forgiveness. I was blessed to become part of an active community of Christian bloggers. I had long given up on being a poet, but as I befriended other Christian blogging poets I was encouraged to try my hand at Christian poetry.

I started small with acrostic poems for holidays. Then I ventured into writing poems about thankfulness for my Thankful Thursday theme day. Finally, I found my voice—my purpose—and began to express how God had rescued me from the darkness and despair of depression through His forgiveness and grace. A favorite of my poems is one titled Learning to Forgive.

Someone I don’t know commented on my blog: “thank you for writing this if i didn’t read this when i did i never would have been able to forgive my father for what he has done. so thank you again.” This heartfelt, healing response to one poem that God had led me to write blessed me with a greater feeling of accomplishment and purpose than all of my academic and professional writing combined. I finally realized that my purpose in this life is to share God’s grace and love, to give voice to lost souls struggling in the darkness, in need of the light of Christ to bring them healing. At last I was being used by God for His glory.

Since embarking on my poetic journey, I have focused on two things: truth and craftsmanship. First, and foremost, everything I write must be true to who God is and true to the valley of the shadow of death He has walked through with me. I rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the best words to convey healing wisdom and truth. At times, particularly during periods when I have challenged myself to write daily, I have prayed specifically for what to write and the Lord has been faithful to place in my mind the first stanza and framework of a beautiful poem.

Second, I desire to hone my poetic craftsmanship, so God’s truth is clearly and beautifully communicated to those who need His healing grace. I’ve read poetry blogs with lessons on various forms of poetry, such as triolets, pantoums, and trireme sonnets. I love writing poetry to form because it utilizes the structured writing skills I learned in college and law school, and more importantly because it beautifully conveys that He is a God of order, not chaos. This triolet melds repetition, meter, and rhyme for a reminder of who Christ is and who we are in Christ.

I am blessed to have discovered my purpose. “Now the one who has fashioned [me] for this very purpose is God, who has given [me] the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:5.

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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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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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The Vineyard – A Poem

If my heart is the Lord’s vineyard
the fruit belongs to Him alone

If vines are to grow and flourish
first He clears out the weeds and stones

If fruit is to blossom and thrive
first the rain falls and sunshine shone

If I’m to produce His top crop
I must cling to the truth He’s shown

My heart is the Lord God’s vineyard
the fruit I set before His throne

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A Matter of Comparison

As humans, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. Either we see someone with a talent that we admire and wish we had, or we see someone who is sinning in a way that we are proud we don’t.

I admit that when I hear other women in church or in my Bible study sing in a beautiful soprano voice I feel a little jealous—okay, a lot jealous—that I cannot sing very well.

And when I see greedy, self-centered, immoral, and wicked people on TV I sometimes feel a twinge of superiority because I don’t act as they do.

But God has not called me to compare myself to others, whether it makes me feel less than them or better than them. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have the talents that others have, because I have the talents that God gave me. It doesn’t matter if I don’t sin in the same way as others, because I still fall short of the glory of God.

There are only two people in this world that I should ever compare myself to. The first is my former self—solely for the purpose of realizing what the Lord Jesus has done in my heart, how He has made me a new creation, and how I have used the talents He has given me. The second is Jesus—for the purpose of knowing what the gold standard of required behavior is, what I am striving towards with God’s help.

So who are you comparing yourself to today? What talent that God has given you are you neglecting because you are wishing for the talent He gave to someone else? What sin that God wants to save you from are not seeing in yourself because you are too busy focusing on the sins of others?

Won’t you change your focus with me today and keep your eyes on Jesus? He is the author and perfector of our faith, the source of our talents, and the power to overcome all our sins.

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Hope of Things New – A Poem

Innocence lost
can never be restored

Trust broken
is forever destroyed

Zuzu’s petals
cannot be pasted

Hope shattered
remains in tiny pieces

Cake once eaten
can never be made whole

With you and me
restoration is impossible

But with God
all things are possible
all things can be made new
all things will be used for our good

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My Heart, Your Home – A Poem

My heart is a mansion

where Christ dwells

The parlor filled with

His mercy

The kitchen overflows with

His love

 

But in a back room

locked up tight

dwell fear, doubt,

and guilt

Sometimes late at night

they make their escape

Squatters wreaking havoc

throughout the house

 

My Savior has promised

to evict these intruders

by His Spirit—

not a spirit of timidity

but of power and of grace

 

“Be strong and courageous”

“Do not fear for I will not leave you

or forsake you”

“There is no condemnation in Me”

These are the promises

that restore harmony and hope

to the mansion that is my heart

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Lost and Found – An Elfje

Lost
His sheep
She wanders afar
My prayers for rescue
Found

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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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