Tag Archives: Fear

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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I Once Knew a Woman – A Poem

In my Bible Study Fellowship group leaders meeting this morning, I answered a question and my friend Ginger (who is going to the Faith and Culture Writers Conference with me this weekend) said, “There’s a poem in that.” She was right; and here it is.

Interestingly, as so often happens when I am open to what God is saying to me, part of this poem was already being written in my mind starting yesterday. I’ve been pondering fear and how I sometimes still let fear—of what I don’t know—hold me back from taking hold of the dreams God has placed in my heart. I really feel like this weekend and the conference I’m attending are His way of finally and completely crushing the fear that has so often crushed me.

I Once Knew a Woman

I once knew a woman
riddled with fear
crushing fear
made her greatly insecure

Pain and loneliness
were her constant cry
hopeless cry
made her want to die

I once knew a woman
whose dreams lay dormant
sadly dormant
her fear their deterrent

Despair and hopelessness
were her inward cry
lonely cry
made her want to die

I once knew this woman
and she was me
a lost me
But new life I see

Hope and mercy found in Christ
bring dreams alive
no fear survives
makes my soul thrive

I once knew a woman
but she no longer lives
she died and I live
because I learned He forgives

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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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Fearless – A Poem

This poem was inspired by my Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader, who has been a great inspiration to me. We are doing a study of Matthew and some of the phrases in this poem are inspired by the encounters with Jesus that we have been studying.

Fearless

Fearless disciple
following Christ
wherever He may lead
Into the storm
or to foreign lands
wherever there is need

Fearless child
of the Living God
rejoicing, “I am freed!”
The cross of Christ
the Gospel true, she
rejoicing plants a seed

Fearless leader
forging ahead with
teaching we do heed
The Word of Life
the source from which all
teaching does proceed

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From Grace Comes Hope – A Quintet of Cinquains

Without
the grace of God
I would be lost, alone
life itself quite impossible
hopeless

Without
the love of God
I would be unloving
my life so self-centered and me
unkind

Without
the light of Christ
I would be in darkness
unable to see my blessings
forlorn

Without
the peace of Christ
I would be most fearful
worrying about little things
timid

With all
God’s grace and love
His incredible light
peace from the heart of a Savior
comes hope

 

I shared this today for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub, where Grace talks about punctuation in poetry.

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Knock at the Door – A Trireme Sonnet

Joy, where’s my joy, I’m always wanting more
Lord, bring me peace and comfort is my plea
I find only stress and fear in this place

Soft knocking, I hear knocking at the door
A sound so sweet, it’s beckoning to me
I peer through the window, see His sweet face

He enters, in awe I fall to the floor
He bids me arise, all my fear does flee
I find myself in His heartfelt embrace

I found my joy in the One I adore
From the shackles of sin He set me free
We dine in the miracle of His grace

Finally I trust I will win the race
My Savior is here with me in this place
Jesus Knocking

Last Thursday Sam Peralta shared a lesson on the trireme sonnet for the dVerse Poets Pub FormForAll. I didn’t have time to write one before the link box for that post expired, but I had one on mind that included Sam’s extra challenge to make it an ekphrastic poem, meaning it is inspired by a picture or painting. I plan on sharing this for Open Linke Night at dVerse later today.

I’ve included here the painting that inspired this poem. It is an old painting on a burl of Jesus standing at a door knocking. This particular painting of this scene, which is based on Revelation 3:20, used to hang in my in-laws house, but they gave it to us last year so now it is in my living room.

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New Year, No Fear

This first day of the new year
I’m praying you have abundant cheer
Remember our Lord said “Do not fear”
For each day He will be near

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The Spirit of Power Defeats Fear

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of water. At our Women’s Retreat a few weeks ago, the topic came up several times during the second session in which we mingled and asked questions that were printed on the inside of our water bottle labels. Because the retreat had a beach getaway theme, there were a lot of questions about water.

During the first Saturday morning session, we sat quietly meditating on the sound of waves, focusing on our retreat verse, Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” During that meditation time, my thoughts wandered to our upcoming (now past) vacation. We had plans to go to the Redwoods in Northern California, but the Lord brought to my mind the jet boat trips that you can take up the Rogue River out of Gold Beach, Oregon. I tried to set this idea aside because the last time my husband and I took that trip about 18 years ago, I was terrified. I hardly enjoyed it because of the knots in my stomach from fear. But it just kept coming back to me.

So when I got home I suggested to my husband that we do the jet boat trip, and he loved the idea. We just took the 104-mile round trip up the Rogue with our son last Monday, July 4. It was a beautiful sunny day, with not a cloud in the sky. The scenery was awesome. We saw bald eagles, cormorants, osprey, turkey vultures, swallow nests, merganser ducks with ducklings, blue heron, deer, otter, turtles, a sea lion, and lots of dogs riding on rafts or out camping. We also had a terrific boat captain who made the trip extra special.

Blue Heron on the Rogue River

But the absolutely best thing about the boat ride was that about halfway through I realized I felt no fear at all. I thought of one of my favorite verses.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV).

The Holy Spirit prompted me to go on this boat ride and He took away my fear of the boat ride. I felt at peace, knowing that I could trust our boat captain, and that I could trust that God would not send me on a trip unless He planned to see me through. The Spirit of power that God has given me defeated the spirit of timidity and fear.

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Faith and Surrender Just Out of Reach

Tomorrow I am going to the Rock and Worship Roadshow with MercyMe and Jars of Clay! I’m so excited, and I don’t have to wait in line hoping I get in because we got VIP tickets in the Jars of Clay section. A couple of weeks ago I bought two Jars of Clay CDs so that I could learn some more of their music besides their Redemption Songs CD, which is all old hymns.

Yesterday the song “Two Hands” caught my attention. The first verse and chorus are:

I’ve been living out of sanity
I’ve been splitting hairs and blurring lines
I am a house that is divided
In my heart and in my mind

I use one hand to pull You closer
The other to push You away
If I had two hands doing the same thing
Lifted high, lifted high

I realized that this song describes me, using one hand to pull God closer, and the other hand to maybe not exactly push Him away but at least to keep Him at bay. I was reminded of my third post on this blog. It was an article titled “Deep Water Faith in the Shallow End” based on a song by Casting Crowns. It’s been almost a year and a half since I wrote that post, and I feel like I’m still standing in the shallow end. Okay, maybe I’ve moved out to waist deep, but the deep water is still out of reach. The ability to walk on water so that depth is no longer an issue has not come. I know it’s possible.

I’ve seen what faith and surrender can do, yet it is just beyond the hand that wants to keep Him at arm’s length. I can see Faith (the kind with a capital F, maybe it is all caps, I’m not sure) but as a shadow I am grasping for; it is just out of reach.

When I look back ten years, or even just five, I can see a big change in my faith. I’ve grown closer to God and I am not the person I was. I have much less fear and I trust more. But as I ponder ten years from now, I wonder if I will be able to look back and see the same degree of change. Will my faith be stronger still? Will fear be entirely a thing of the past? Will I trust fully and completely?

Life is a series of hills to climb and plateaus to cross. I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of the next huge hill, but instead of climbing I keep pacing back and forth on the plateau below. I pace and look at the Church around me, concerned about the state of the Church as a whole, about errors in teaching that I see coming from those who are called pastor. I see the rise of Universalism and point to that as a problem of great concern.

But then I realize, He is not calling His Church to draw closer to Him; He is calling each individual soul to a deeper relationship. Only when individuals grasp Faith will the Church be closer to Him. Only when individuals surrender completely to His Truth will the Church surrender and be healed.

If I had two hands doing the same thing, always doing the same thing, praising Him and pulling Him closer, I could grasp the Faith and Surrender that seem just out of reach.

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Jumping from a Plane: I Can Do All Things Through Christ

Me and Dem free-falling!

In 1998 I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Well, at least the skydiving company told me it was a perfectly good airplane, but once we left the ground and headed for 10,000 ft elevation, I started to have my doubts.

It was a small plane, and only the pilot actually had a seat. I sat on the floor in the back of the plane, in front of and strapped to my tandem instructor Dem (from Australia). The only other person in the plane was the photographer who took both still photos and a video of my jump. The plane seemed a bit rickety to me, but I’m no expert on small aircraft.

Now you might be wondering what would possess a young woman, a wife and the mother of a 3-year-old boy, to jump out of an airplane. Well, it happened like this. Since I was very young I have been extremely afraid of water. I don’t like to go out on boats and I definitely don’t care for swimming. I have had panic attacks in the deep end of a pool and absolutely refused to go in a boat on the ocean. (I have made one exception to this in recent years, but that’s a whole other story.)

Because of this phobia, my husband would tease me and call me chicken. My standard reply was, “I’m not chicken, I just don’t like water. To prove it, I’d parachute out of an airplane, as long as it isn’t over water.” Well, guess what I got for my Christmas in 1997? Yep, a tandem skydiving adventure. I didn’t actually go on the adventure until the following September as it took me a while to muster up the courage. (Okay, maybe I was a little bit chicken.)

You might also be wondering why I am writing about it now, and what it has to do with the theme of my blog, so I’ll tell you.

On the morning of my jump, I was pacing around the house, feeling a bit nervous. My dog Bette could tell and she started pacing with me. My husband and I got in the car to head to the airfield where the skydiving company was located, and on the drive down I kept staring out the window and drumming my fingers on the armrest on the door. The “training” took all of five minutes; I learned that Dem had packed the chute, what an altimeter was, and that Dem would pull the ripcord when we were at a certain altitude (which he would point out to me on his wrist altimeter). That was it. Now I was really nervous.

I kissed my husband goodbye and climbed into the aforementioned perfectly good airplane and we took off. Suddenly, all my nervousness was gone. I felt a peace come over me that I can only explain as having come directly from God. I thought to myself, “Well, I either land safely on the ground or I meet Jesus face-to-face today.” Whatever happened, everything was going to be okay.

I suppose I should have given a bit more thought to my 3-year-old who would have been left without a mother, and my husband who would have been left to raise him alone, if I went to meet Jesus, but somehow that worry just didn’t enter my mind. I was given the peace necessary to just enjoy the exhilaration of the experience and the wonder of what the world looks like from 10,000 ft hanging from a parachute. It was truly awesome!

One thing I learned about myself from this experience is that “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT). Before skydiving, I was afraid a lot. God had shown me in various ways that I did not need to fear, and He had taken away a lot of my fears, but this experience truly solidified for me that He is with me and I can do anything He calls me to do.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. Philippians 4:19-20 (NLT).

As I mentioned above, there was a photographer on the plane. He’s the one who took the picture. He also took a video (which I have on an old VCR tape and need to transfer to digital format). He included three songs on the video that were just perfect:

  • He started the video with “Fall Down” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, a song that asks “When will we fall down?” This was an appropriate song since after jumping out of an airplane, well, you fall down, and down, and down before the chute is pulled. It’s called free fall, and it’s really cool. But it’s only cool because you know there is a parachute that is going to catch you. As a Christian, I have the best parachute of all when I fall, and that is Jesus Himself.
  • The second song was “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins (from Top Gun), which was so appropriate because jumping out of an airplane definitely puts you in the danger zone. But in truth, all of life is a danger zone as the enemy, the devil, tries to snare and deceive non-believers and Christians alike.
  • The final song was “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day. This was a nice end of the video because I did have the time of my life that day. It is a day I will always look back on and remember the peace I received from God, a peace that is exemplified by the more mellow nature of this song compared to the first two.

In my life, I know there are times I will fall down, and every day I enter the danger zone, but with Jesus by my side I will always have the time of my life!

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