Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Memories Haunt in the Light – A Poem

I stand upon the solid Rock
I’ve found my firm foundation
Living each day in the Light
Being sure of my salvation

I know His words of grace are true
‘Cause I feel them deep in my heart
I rise each day, out into the world
And that’s when the memories start

The sky is blue, the sun is bright
A chill wind stings my face
I should be happy and light, but cold
Triggers thoughts I seem to chase

Like Paul with his thorn, I pray the Lord
Would remove the pain today
“My grace is sufficient,” He replies
As over and over I cry and pray

But what if grace is not enough
As this memory haunts the light
This is when I must trust and believe
To escape the darkness of night

He uses this memory of pain
To teach me compassion and grace
For the bruised and the broken
Haunted by memories of disgrace

He’s made me merciful and kind
This lesson is not meant to destroy
But some days I’d rather be less caring
And remember only love and joy

My Rock remains firm beneath me
In spite of my doubt and fury
His grace will suffice, I rest in His Light
One day this memory He’ll bury

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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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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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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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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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The Widow’s Offering – A Pantoum

This poem was inspired by the story of the widow’s offering recorded in Mark 12:41-44. I wrote it for an Advent devotional that my church is putting together. Each daily reading from the devotional will be offered for all to read on the church website at www.cofaith.net beginning on December 1.

The Widow’s Offering

You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life
Like the widow’s offering to the treasury
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury

Like the widows offering to the treasury
I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new

I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new
And as You forgave me today I will forgive

Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Even if lowly as the widow I may be
And as You forgave me today I will forgive
Praying others will see You when they look at me

Even if lowly as the widow I may be
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Praying others will see You when they look at me
You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life

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Whom Can God Use? – A Poem

Three weeks into the study of Matthew in Bible Study Fellowship I’ve already learned — or been reminded of — a great truth. God can, and does, use the most unlikely and undeserving people to accomplish His great purposes for mankind. He can use even me and you, whether we believe it or not.

Whom Can God Use?

Whom can God use?
He used Tamar the Hittite
Rahab the prostitute
Ruth the Moabitess
And the Gentile wife of Uriah
to create the line of King David
the ancestors of Messiah

Whom can God use?
He used Pharaoh the hard-hearted
Moses the murderer
Herod the Great, a cruel king
And Joseph the carpenter
to set up and fulfill prophecy
of calling His Son out of Egypt

Whom can God use?
He used Peter the hot-head
Thomas the doubter
Mary Magdalene the prostitute
and Paul the murderous zealot
to spread the Good News
of His mercy and saving grace

Whom can God use?
He used June from Australia
My sister the atheist
New friends in Bible study
And an angel in a dream
to call me out of my exile
from the hell of depression to the Light

Whom can God use?
He can use you
no matter your past
Despite all I’ve done
He can use me
to share His sweet love and light
with a world lost in darkness

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My God of the Little Things

The God of the Universe has done some very big things, like creating the Universe and all that it is in it for starters. He enabled Moses to part the Red Sea, caused the walls of Jericho to fall, walked on water, and calmed a raging storm. And the biggest thing He did was to give His life to save ours, thereby defeating death forever.

So when we think of God, we think of the big stuff and sometimes think it is only the big problems that we should bring to Him in prayer. We pray for cancer to be cured, wars to be ended, and the economy to turn around. Many people think that we shouldn’t bother God with the little day-to-day issues that we all deal with. But I disagree. Although God is indeed the God of the big stuff, I know that my God is also the God of the little things.

He proved this fact to me just last week. Let me tell you what He did.

Several weeks ago I was asked to be a group leader for a local evening class of Bible Study Fellowship. I attended the pilot class last spring and the evening timeframe worked great for me because I work fulltime and could never attend the day class. But there’s added responsibility and time commitment with being a group leader, not the least of which is the leaders’ meetings that start at 5:30 a.m.

Now anyone who knows me will tell you I am not a morning person. Most mornings my alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m. and I hit the snooze button two or three times before dragging myself out of bed. And most mornings when I do get up my feet hurt terribly as I walk to the bathroom. It generally takes two cups of coffee before I feel awake. So I was very concerned about how I was going to get up at 4:20 a.m. so that I could make it to the leaders’ meeting on time. So I prayed about it and asked the other BSF leaders to pray about it, too. It was a little thing – getting up on time for an early meeting – but I prayed about it anyway.

The morning of the meeting came. I had set my alarm for 4:20 a.m. When the alarm went off, my eyes popped open and I was wide awake. I got right out of bed without hitting the snooze button even once. As I walked across the floor, I realized my feet didn’t hurt at all. I started the coffee, but didn’t have a cup until after my shower and then I only had one cup before leaving the house. I took a travel cup with me, but it took me most of the two-hour meeting to finish it. Even more amazing than that, I wasn’t tired all day long at work.

My God of the little things was with me that morning, and I trust that He will be with me as I continue to fulfill the responsibilities of BSF group leader that He has called me to.

Whatever little things you are facing today, trust in the God of the little things to see you through. Don’t wait for the big stuff before you call on Him; the little stuff that matters to you matters to Him, too.

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The Disciples’ Prayer – A Poem

My dear blogging friend Bryan Lowe posted some great quotes on discipleship the other day. My favorite was this one from Gilbert K. Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” I have to admit that it hit home a bit because I have not yet attained the Christian ideal, and in part it is because it is difficult. Discipleship has a price; it is a price that is truly a bargain but a price nonetheless. But I refuse to quit trying, because I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV).

The Disciples’ Prayer

Help me, dear Jesus,
to keep trying
to never stop following
no matter how difficult the road

Awaken me, O Lord,
as one to be taught
each morning, each day
that I may learn to follow You

Teach me, Holy Spirit,
the gravity of my need
the truth of Your grace
the magnitude of Your love

Blind me, O Lord,
to the obstacles in my way
that I may see only You and
confidently pursue Your ideal for me

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