Tag Archives: God

Where Division Begins and Ends

I watched the children at their play
Left to their own devices
Selfishness and pride ruled the day
They seemed to forget what nice is

I saw the ones who had no toys
Longingly eye the others
The rich, the privileged girls and boys
Ignored by their busy mothers

On each small innocent face
I saw a measure of pain
What they needed was a helping of grace
So abundant love might reign

The poor kids think they’re missing out
The rich kids equate love with things
What both need I have no doubt
Is the love of the King of kings

But who will teach them how to love
And receive love in return
You and I must show grace from above
To create peace for which we all yearn

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Assumptions of Bias

During the past week watching the news and reading Facebook posts about the violence and racial tensions in this country, I was struck by the assumptions made by some who protested the loudest. One such assumption—a  statement I read more than once—was that white people are afraid of the big black man, and that’s the problem.

I would argue that this assumption contributes to the problem of racial tension and is not true because it is an over generalization. All white people cannot be lumped into one set of beliefs or viewpoints any more than all black people can. Many white people, as well as many black people, would prefer to be part of the solution.

As I pondered all of this, I was reminded of something that happened to me just a month or so ago. We were having mandatory “Implicit Bias” training at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had this training, but this time something happened that made me think about how sometimes our assumptions about implicit bias can be part of the problem. We focus on and assume bias where diversity and camaraderie might flourish if we didn’t try so hard to see the negative.

The presenter was talking about the online Harvard Implicit Bias Project tests. I’ve taken several of these tests before so I raised my hand to offer my unique experience.

“I’ve taken the race Implicit Bias test three times,” I said, “and each time it has revealed I have a strong preference for African Americans. I have no explanation for why that is because I really only know a few African Americans.”

The presenter thanked me for chiming in and started talking about how we don’t always know where these biases come from. Then she said,” That was very brave of you to admit that.”

”Wait,” I replied, “I think you misunderstood me. Why would it be brave for me to say I had a bias in favor of, strongly in favor of, blacks?”

“Oh,” she said,” you said against.”

My boss, who was sitting at the same table as me, replied,” No she didn’t, she said in favor of.”

Later I talked to several people who were on the other side of the room and they all said they clearly heard me say what I actually said. But the presenter—who spends much her time talking, thinking, and studying about implicit bias—heard what she assumed any white woman would say, that she was biased against blacks.

I share this because I think it is so important not to assume we know what others think about difficult issues like this. We have to stop making broad general assumptions about whole groups of people whose only thing in common might be the color of their skin. Human beings—and each individual human being—is so much more complex than that.

The second presenter at this training had commented at the beginning that we didn’t need to talk about religion or spirituality, because that isn’t really very important for people in Oregon. I found this comment odd because it was another inaccurate assumption. For me, my faith is very important and it is the teachings of Jesus that inform much of my belief about others. It is my understanding that we are all created in God’s image, no matter what color our skin, that helps me in dealing with and accepting those who are different from me.

D.C. Talk does a great song called Colored People that I want to end with. I’m linking to YouTube because often embedded videos don’t work on this free blog. I encourage you to follow the link and give it a listen.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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For the Love of Summer

Love keeps no record of wrongs
To me summer means love
with its hot sunny days
and plants blooming everywhere

Do you suppose summer
keeps a record of winter’s wrongs
its harsh cold blizzard blasts
freezing rains and icy winds

Does summer hold a grudge
about winter’s dark dreary nights
and short sunless days

Does summer blame winter
for the death of plants
once vibrant and green
now brown and forlorn upon
the frost-bitten ground

Or does summer forgive
embracing winter’s loss
with its warm sunny days
its Godly loving ways

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For yesterday’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Walter called for a poem about the seasons using a line from another poem as a starting point. I didn’t quite follow the prompt because the line that is the anchor and muse of my poem is from scripture, not a poem, and the line itself is not about seasons. Rather, it is about love. The line from 1 Corinthians 13:5 — “Love . . . keeps no record of wrongs” — has been on my mind lately. Then last night I had this idea for a poem involving my most and least favorite seasons and whether their relationship is a loving one.

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All Good Vacations Must End

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni is calling for a haibun about everyday things with a true haiku at the end. I did my best. We’ll see what she thinks. This haibun is looking forward to later in the summer when I’ll get to enjoy the labors of this past vacation week.

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Vacations can’t last forever. This one has been wonderful, spent planting flowers, including 14 Lantana. But eventually the daily routine returns. Preparations for the work day, each important for different reasons. Start with coffee, my daily devotional, and treats and a game of fetch with the dog. Crazy cat gets in on the action, too. Then shower and teeth brushing makes one presentable to the world. Must select just the right outfit to be warm enough in an air-conditioned office but not too hot to sit outside in the summer sun for lunch. Most importantly, I must pause for prayer—a chat with God about the day ahead—preparation for whatever might come my way. Oh, and can’t forget to pack that lunch. What good leftovers are in the fridge? No leftovers, but mmmm, there’s hummus, crackers, fresh snap peas from the farmers’ market, crisp jicama slices, and of course a cold sparkling water. All packed to go, give the dog his leaving bone and the cat a few treats. Finally, it’s out the front door to the car with just a moment to enjoy the potted flowers on the front step.

Varied Lantana
Lovely summer dalliance
They’ve grown large since June

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Whispers of Love

I heard a whisper
on the breeze
What did it say?
I couldn’t make it out
There it is again
I love you
and I always will
Peace upon the breeze
sweetly wafting from above
Truth to cling to
when breeze becomes a storm

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The prompt today at dVerse Poets Pub is to write a Quadrille using the word breeze. I wrote this Quadrille on my Bamboo Spark — all handwritten then converted to digital seemingly by magic.

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Blooming Season

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I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Mother’s Day than walking with my son among 600 or more varieties of iris, along with the many “companion” plants—oriental poppies, fringe trees, lupine, and more. The weather is perfect. The sun comes out enough to keep us warm, but then slips behind a cloud for respite from its rays just as it’s feeling a little too warm with a sweater on.  Who knew there were so many different iris? Two-toned purple Poets Rhyme, burnt orange Drinks at Sunset, gold and pale yellow King of the Road, and vivid yellow with brown beard What It’s Worth (according to the sign, $40—yeah, I don’t think so).

Then there are the darker hues, purples verging on black, that catch my son’s eye because of their names. “These are some pretty edgy names for flowers,” he says, taking a picture of Hello Darkness (my apologies if you are now singing Sound of Silence in your head), Before the Storm, Banshee, and Old Black Magic, to name a few. Finally he decides he’s taken enough pictures.

We continue to wander up and down rows of iris while my husband takes a rest on an orange bench in the shade. The color combinations are simply stunning—I want them all in my own garden but I’ll later have to settle for just two. Then I happen upon what my son decides is the best iris name ever—”It’s as if the iris took my challenge to come up with the edgiest possible name,” he says—and there before me is Pretty Edgy. He snaps his final picture. The day’s perfection is complete.

Iris, iris bloom
Ev’rywhere the eye can see
Divine artistry

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This is posted for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today where Bjorn is asking us to write about walking.

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The Book of Life

I am not frightened by the sight of an
ugly deformed fallen angel
hovering in my room. I’m writing
of his presence because his fleeing in
the name of Jesus is evidence of a
name, my name, being written in a book—
the Lamb’s Book of
Life everlasting in a home of transparent gold

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Another short Golden Shovel for dVerse Poets Pub. I seem to be stuck on poems with “gold” in them. The line I started with was the fifth line from Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt. This is another poem I memorized for speech competitions in high school and has lately been running through my head at random times. I’m quite amazed that I still have it memorized after all these years.

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Speaking of Gold

She saw in nature’s
beauty and majesty her first
glimpse of the Divine, swathed in green
amidst the beauty is
an echo of gold

The home He gave her
turned out to be the hardest
to hold onto as the hue
of the forbidden fruit came to
tempt her and take hold

The loss of her
innocence came much too early
even as the green leaf’s
sprout was still on the tree and a
serpent offered a lovely flower

She could have walked away but
then there was only
nothing to lose or so
said the deceiver with an
invitation of an hour

to spare for then
it would have fallen, the leaf
as the temptation subsides
and yet that was not to
be the fate of the leaf

Temptation bowed to evil, so
rich and lovely Eden
survived, but humanity sank
deep into despair so as to
succumb to grief

Now we long so
earnestly for the Light to dawn
to know where love goes
or see love come down
and heal our souls to
see the break of a new day

A day where nothing
more precious than transparent gold
will pave the way so we can
in Eden forever stay

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The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is a Golden Shovel poem, which is a poem in which you take one or more lines from a favorite poem and use those lines to be the end-line words in a new poem. The result is that if you read down the right margin of the poem you will see the original line or lines. I chose Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost and used the entire poem. This poem was a big challenge for me because I discovered that you can’t really write a Golden Shovel poem unless you use enjambment, which I have a hard time with usually, but I think I made it work.

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Set Free

She drove away from the pizza place
joyful in the knowledge that she had been set free.

No dark cloud appeared.

She realized she was humming along,
tapping her foot to the beat.

As she waited for her pizza to go,
Bad Company played on the radio.

One day, she stopped to get a pizza
on her way home from work.

She felt a weight lifted and joy return.

When she awoke, she knelt and prayed
for the strength to forgive.

One night she dreamed of forgiveness
and knew it was a message from God.

She pondered taking her own life
because she thought she was forever broken.

She spent years in darkness and anger.

She was never the same; whenever she heard Bad Company
a dark cloud would descend upon her.

Afterwards, he drove her home
and left her broken upon her doorstep.

Bad Company played on the radio.

He assaulted her in the front seat of his Lincoln.

He asked if she wanted to go to a party
and she said yes because he seemed nice.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a story in reverse. I couldn’t help but turn each line of this semi-autobiographical story into a verse.

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