Tag Archives: Despair

Billy Austin

Did you ever get a song
stuck in your head?
A happy little jingle
about sunshine ahead?

In my head tonight
is Billy Austin’s
Tale of tragic plight
Come listen

____________________________

I’ve been trying to write my 30-word poems this month without commentary. Each poem has presented challenges because of my self-imposed 30-word limit, but none so much as this one. Perhaps I should have waited until May to write this poem, but I decided to add an explanation instead.

Over the past week the song Billy Austin by Steve Earle has been running through my head. I know all the words by heart. It is a sad tale, a commentary on one aspect of our culture of death. It reminds me that the death penalty is a bit like us playing God when we have no business doing so. I cannot listen to this song without a tear (or two or ten) welling up in my eyes.

I hope you’ll take a moment to follow this YouTube link and give it a listen. Bring your tissues. And you can read the lyrics here.

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A Mini-Psalm

“He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Psalm 116:8 (NLT).

Dark fog surrounded me
Torrential tears drowned
I besought God,
Grant me relief from my despair

He answered me
Cleared away dark clouds
Dried my tears
Praise be to God

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

———
This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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Oblivious

The drunkard grins
from ear to ear

Oblivious to the pain
he inflicts on those
who love him

Numb to the pain
buried six feet under
his cold cold heart

Bartender, bring me a double
That and a grin will
drown all his troubles

_____________________________

I decided to write a second Quadrille with the word “grin” for dVerse Poets Pub.

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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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Blue – An Elfje

Blue
great sadness
but not despair
my hope in Jesus.
Death.

It’s been a long week full of sadness. One of my sisters passed away last night after a long battle with breast cancer. I am thankful that I was able to be with her, and hopeful that she is in God’s hands now, but still sad because I will miss her. I’m also thankful once again for the little elfje because it helped me keep up my daily poem for Lent.

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Forgiveness Set Me Free to Love – A Poem

Each year WordPress provides me with an annual report of my blogging activity for the past year. Included in the top five posts of 2012 was an article titled Forgiveness that I wrote for my church newsletter and was the second thing I posted when I started this blog in September 2009. I realized that the subject of forgiveness is timeless and so I decided to write more posts on that topic in 2013. I am starting with this poem about how forgiveness leads to freedom from despair.

Forgiveness Set Me Free to Love

Anger tethered me to the past
holding on strong, holding me back
imprisoned in a dungeon of my own making

Deceived into believing
the walls had been built by another
solid walls I could not escape

Blame fostered thoughts of revenge
of justice for the transgressor
as the Accuser spurred me on

The future seemed a blur
of decades in darkness and woe
with no hope of joy or love

Then through tiny cracks
in the walls of my misery
a light shone, beckoning me escape

The light whispered in the darkness
Forgive and let go
Leave justice to Me

It seemed too simple
and yet to forgive was impossible
without the light to show the way

I could bear the darkness no more
the anger had made me weary
the hatred was draining all life

Trusting the light
I chose to forgive, even the unforgivable
I clung to love instead of hatred

Like the walls of Jericho
the prison of my despair
crumbled and fell at His word

Forgiveness set me free
to live and to love in peace
with hope for my future in view

As this poem began to form in my mind, I thought of the families of the 20 children who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut. These children are now in heaven with Jesus and have no need of lessons on forgiveness. But the families left behind to mourn their loss will need to learn to forgive the troubled young man who perpetrated the evil that took their children away from them.

The natural reaction will be anger and hatred, but unless those feelings give way to forgiveness these families will be trapped in a dungeon of despair. They will need the light and love of God to free them. My prayer for them is that they will be able to trust the Light of Christ to tear down the walls of anger and to ensure true justice prevails.

6/28/14 Update: Shared for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Confession – A Villanelle

Several months ago (or maybe longer) the Form for All lesson at dVerse Poets Pub was on the villanelle form. At the time is seemed too hard and so I didn’t try writing one. But my poetry knowledge and skill has come a long way since then. I’ve written triolets and pantoums, other challenging forms that are characterized by repetitive patterns.

Last week I posted my pantoum Psalm for My Savior at Broken Believers blog, and Bryan Lowe added a link to the Wikipedia article on pantoums. I clicked the link to read the article, and from there I clicked a link to an article on villanelles. As I read about this intriguing form, I decided I wanted to try it. I wrote my first one, Wedding Bells, for last Saturday in celebration of my nephew’s wedding. This poem is my second attempt on a topic that has been on my mind lately.

I decided to offer this poem for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. If you haven’t been to dVerse before, I urge you to check out all the wonderful poetry offered there.

Confession

Light shines in the darkness
Faintly I see His light
My need I will confess

Toward the light I press
Keeping hope in my sight
Light shines in the darkness

Despair my soul’s distress
Entangled in the night
My need I will confess

His grace I will profess
Giving me strength to fight
Light shines in the darkness

I feel anguish oppress
Crushing with all its might
My need I will confess

Feeling His love’s caress
Compassion burning bright
Light shines in the darkness
My need I will confess

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The Crossroads – A Short Story

This post is a short story that was originally written for and posted at Idylls for the King, a Christian Literary blog I contribute to (which is currently on summer hiatus). I’ve been out of town most of this past week and am heading out on another trip with my sister tomorrow, so I decided to re-post this story here for today’s post because I don’t have time to write something new. I hope you enjoy it.

Sarah stood staring out the picture window across their perfectly manicured lawn. She and John had settled here almost 20 years ago, but it seemed like forever. In the beginning, she was happy here. John kept up the yard and gardens, and she kept the house and cooked for them. But lately a feeling of discontent and despair crept over her when she least expected it. Now was one of those times. She knew there was more to life than what she had, than what they had.

Beyond the blooming rose bushes and the Sycamore tree was the crossroads. She gazed thoughtfully down the narrow bumpy dirt road to the left. She could see where it led from her vantage point at the picture window. It didn’t look like much in the beginning, but she knew pure beauty was found at the end of that road. She longed to move away from this place to a house farther down that road, a small house with everything they needed to be content.

But John wouldn’t listen. He had his eye on a big mansion up the highway going the other direction. And so here they stayed, at the crossroads. Neither was willing to go with the other down their desired road, but neither wanted go on alone either.

“Till death do us part” was what they had promised. Sarah knew she had made a commitment to John that God did not want her to break. But she was miserable living at the crossroads.

Sarah couldn’t really blame John for wanting to move to the mansion up the highway. When they had first moved to the crossroads, she shared that dream with him. The two newlyweds had taken many trips up the highway, admiring all that it had to offer and talking of their future there together.

But over time she had grown discontent with the offerings of the highway. She had gone on her own for a few walks down the narrow bumpy road and found that it was very peaceful. John had gone with her a few times, but he always seemed bored; there was no glitz and excitement there. At times the narrow road seemed almost harsh and treacherous, and John didn’t like that.

But she knew peace down that road, a peace the highway could never offer.

Sarah turned from the picture window and slowly wandered into the kitchen. The feeling of sadness made each step as heavy as if she was wearing lead boots. She had promised John a pecan pie, but she didn’t feel like baking.

She turned on her iPod and hit shuffle. As she methodically gathered the ingredients for the pie, the old hymn “I’ll Fly Away” began to play. She stopped, tears flowing from her eyes. “Just a few more weary days and then . . .”

Sarah looked up and cried out to God, “How many more days, Lord? How many?”

“Just enough,” she heard Him say. “Just enough, my child.” Just then the clouds outside the kitchen window scattered, and bright rays of sunshine struck her face. Their warmth engulfed her as in a loving embrace.

When the song was over, Sarah dried her tears and continued with her pie making. A feeling of peace came over her as God granted her the patience to wait, to remain at the crossroads until John was ready to go with her down the narrow bumpy road to that beautiful, peaceful house in the clearing. Or until God called her to follow that road alone.

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Lamentations 4 – Trusting in God Regardless of Circumstances

Although I normally post a Psalm on Sunday, this past week I was reading through Lamentations and found that chapter 3 of that short book fit so perfectly with some of the other posts I have been writing lately, especially some of my poetry. So I decided to post it in the New Living Translation instead of a Psalm. I love this chapter because it is an example of trusting in God for salvation even in the midst of utter despair. I suspect I will be coming back to it again.

Lamentations 3

Hope in the Lord’s Faithfulness

 1 I am the one who has seen the afflictions
      that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger.
 2 He has led me into darkness,
      shutting out all light.
 3 He has turned his hand against me
      again and again, all day long.

 4 He has made my skin and flesh grow old.
      He has broken my bones.
 5 He has besieged and surrounded me
      with anguish and distress.
 6 He has buried me in a dark place,
      like those long dead.

 7 He has walled me in, and I cannot escape.
      He has bound me in heavy chains.
 8 And though I cry and shout,
      he has shut out my prayers.
 9 He has blocked my way with a high stone wall;
      he has made my road crooked.

 10 He has hidden like a bear or a lion,
      waiting to attack me.
 11 He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces,
      leaving me helpless and devastated.
 12 He has drawn his bow
      and made me the target for his arrows.

 13 He shot his arrows
      deep into my heart.
 14 My own people laugh at me.
      All day long they sing their mocking songs.
 15 He has filled me with bitterness
      and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink.

 16 He has made me chew on gravel.
      He has rolled me in the dust.
 17 Peace has been stripped away,
      and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
 18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
      Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”

 19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
      is bitter beyond words.
 20 I will never forget this awful time,
      as I grieve over my loss.
 21 Yet I still dare to hope
      when I remember this:

 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
      His mercies never cease.
 23 Great is his faithfulness;
      his mercies begin afresh each morning.
 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
      therefore, I will hope in him!”

 25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
      to those who search for him.
 26 So it is good to wait quietly
      for salvation from the Lord.
 27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
      to the yoke of his discipline:

 28 Let them sit alone in silence
      beneath the Lord’s demands.
 29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
      for there may be hope at last.
 30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
      and accept the insults of their enemies.

 31 For no one is abandoned
      by the Lord forever.
 32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
      because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
 33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
      or causing them sorrow.

 34 If people crush underfoot
      all the prisoners of the land,
 35 if they deprive others of their rights
      in defiance of the Most High,
 36 if they twist justice in the courts—
      doesn’t the Lord see all these things?

 37 Who can command things to happen
      without the Lord’s permission?
 38 Does not the Most High
      send both calamity and good?
 39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain
      when we are punished for our sins?

 40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
      Let us turn back to the Lord.
 41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
      to God in heaven and say,
 42 “We have sinned and rebelled,
      and you have not forgiven us.

 43 “You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down,
      and slaughtered us without mercy.
 44 You have hidden yourself in a cloud
      so our prayers cannot reach you.
 45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage
      among the nations.

 46 “All our enemies
      have spoken out against us.
 47 We are filled with fear,
      for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”
 48 Tears stream from my eyes
      because of the destruction of my people!

 49 My tears flow endlessly;
      they will not stop
 50 until the Lord looks down
      from heaven and sees.
 51 My heart is breaking
      over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.

 52 My enemies, whom I have never harmed,
      hunted me down like a bird.
 53 They threw me into a pit
      and dropped stones on me.
 54 The water rose over my head,
      and I cried out, “This is the end!”

 55 But I called on your name, Lord,
      from deep within the pit.
 56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
      Hear my cry for help!”
 57 Yes, you came when I called;
      you told me, “Do not fear.”

 58 Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case!
      For you have redeemed my life.
 59 You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord.
      Be my judge, and prove me right.
 60 You have seen the vengeful plots
      my enemies have laid against me.

 61 Lord, you have heard the vile names they call me.
      You know all about the plans they have made.
 62 My enemies whisper and mutter
      as they plot against me all day long.
 63 Look at them! Whether they sit or stand,
      I am the object of their mocking songs.

 64 Pay them back, Lord,
      for all the evil they have done.
 65 Give them hard and stubborn hearts,
      and then let your curse fall on them!
 66 Chase them down in your anger,
      destroying them beneath the Lord’s heavens.

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