Tag Archives: Grace

Coming Clean: A Book Review of Sorts

In case anyone is wondering, I’m still working on my memoir, but it’s no longer going to be titled “My Year of Living Fearlessly.” That was a title that was suggested to me by an editor and I thought it was saleable and what I was supposed to be writing. But after manufacturing a structure to the book that involved five antidotes to fear and submitting a book proposal to said editor as well as several agents, I hit a brick wall with the writing. I think more aptly, I felt like the Holy Spirit prevented me from proceeding with my plan for the book, much as He prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Asia. Acts 16:6.

I decided that I needed to read some other memoirs to get a better idea of how they are written and what makes good memoir. About the time I had decided this, a friend posted a link on Facebook to Seth Haines’ new memoir Coming Clean: A Story of Faith, which was available on Kindle at the time for only $1.99.

I bought Seth’s memoir primarily to learn the craft of memoir writing in preparation for writing my own. I got so much more out of this wonderful book than I had bargained for. On the surface it is a story about overcoming alcoholism and Seth’s first 90 days of sobriety. But what is below the surface is relevant to anyone who is using some earthly crutch to mask the pain we all inevitably experience in this world and to hide from a God we sometimes aren’t sure knows or cares. I thought I knew all I needed to about forgiveness, but this book opened my eyes to the many ways I still need forgive and let God be in control.

One of my favorite lines in the book is when Seth quotes Buddy Wakefield, a spoken-word poet, who said, “Forgiveness is releasing all hope for a better past.” When writing memoir, one must necessarily face the past and accept it as unchangeable. This is why my new working title (who am I kidding, it’s going to be the final title if I have any say in the matter) is You Can’t Go Back to Tuesday. As I’ve pondered this, and started on my next memoir to read, God is teaching me more and more what that means for today.

I had the pleasure of meeting Seth a year ago at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference and he encouraged me to write exactly the book I’m determined now to write. Having met him, I shouldn’t have been so surprised about the depth and honesty of his writing. If you’re looking for a formulaic answer to your problems or a nice neatly organized, chronological story, you won’t find it here. But you will find the heart of a man who loves God, loves his son and family, and struggles like the rest of us to understand suffering. This book is well worth the price (even if I’d paid full price) and the time it takes to read. From the day I started it I could hardly put it down.

The double blessing is that I also learned something about how to write great memoir, which was my goal in the first place. I learned that great memoir happens when the author writes for themselves and for purposes of their own growth and understanding of their circumstances. If you try to write what you think others want to read or what you think a publisher will buy, you’ll never write great memoir. If you try to impose some formula—like five antidotes to fear—then you won’t help yourself or resonate with your potential readers.

Seth wrote this “journal” for himself, and in the process shared honestly with us in a way that resonates deep in the soul. I hope and pray I can do the same.

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Promise of Hope

copyright kanzensakura all rights reserved. Used with permission.

copyright kanzensakura all rights reserved. Used with permission.

For the dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday prompt today, Toni (aka kanzensakura) has asked us to write a haibun inspired by this photo of hers. Check out the prompt for a description of a haibun and to find the link to a lot of great haibuns that will be posted throughout the week. Here’s mine.

____________________________

I awaken to an unexpected blanket of white outside my window. It’s beautiful, with flakes still falling, floating really, to the ground. I should relish the beauty, but I can’t because I know it will soon turn to ice. It always does around here. As a result church is cancelled, school is cancelled, work is delayed, and Bible study is cancelled. I stare out at the bleak beauty and spy a small pink bunch of flowers blooming. They weren’t expecting the snow either. In them I see a greater beauty, a hope and promise of spring to come.

God eternally
promises a return
of life after death

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What We Deserve

We think we all deserve God’s love
All good gifts that come from above
A good God wouldn’t send folks to hell
And therefore the story we tell saves all with love

Except, of course, men like Hitler
Terrorists and Jeffrey Dahmer
They don’t deserve to see heaven
Don’t belong with the eleven we are so sure

But just where do we draw the line
What is your fate and what is mine
We all deserve God’s holy wrath
Because we’ve followed our own path and think we’re fine

We must be repentant sinners
When the truth of God’s mercy blurs
Vision of the Lamb who was slain
And how He took all mankind’s pain troubled heart stirs

Not one of us deserves God’s grace
Praise to Jesus who took our place
He saw our need and came to save
His life for us He freely gave, we must embrace

* * * * *

As is typical for me, when I learn a new poetry form I can’t write just one. The idea for this poem was originally going to be an essay, but this morning this Florette started forming in my mind, so I finished writing it while I ate my breakfast and decided to post it in time to share for Meeting at the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Before the Throne

If I could stand before the throne
Turn an ear to His trumpet blown
Blinded by His countenance bright
Finding in His majestic Light I’m fully known

Amazed by lovely seraphim
And flying, singing cherubim
Though they themselves are quite sublime
Each spends every moment of time worshipping Him

By contrast my paltry worship
Is hindered by my ego trip
May a vision of God’s throne room
Cause praise like a sweet perfume rise from my lips

Lord, make me see Your majesty
So I’ll worship, You are worthy
Great Creator, Lamb who was slain
Forever and ever You reign, You are holy

Holy, holy, holy are You
You are righteous, that much is true
Remind me daily of Your grace
Help me seek Your beautiful face each day anew

* * * * *

For the Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is brought to is today by Gayle, who offered a form lesson on the Florette. It’s a cool form I just had to try.

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Not Unforgiven

The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is brought to us by De Jackson who wants us to write using the poetic device of enjambment (which is when thought doesn’t end at the end of a line of poetry but spills over onto the next line). Lately I’ve been writing more form poetry, but I’ve been known to write a fair amount of free verse using enjambment. So I decided to take on De’s challenge to write using hyphenated words for this short poem on forgiveness.

Not Unforgiven

Feeling un-
forgiven is what I am

I will be-
loved for all eternity

Love is with-
held only by the wicked

You are whole-
some of what I need

God is all-
knowing my heart’s desire

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Spiritual Coup

The past has no hold on me
it reveals my old self but I am new
Created in Christ Jesus
in an amazing spiritual coup

I’m not sure when it happened
though it happens day by day
I become more like my Savior
in the most marvelous way

And yet some days I stumble
drifting in the dark
I forget to seek the Spirit
who helps me hit the mark

But He is ever faithful
never forsaking me
He restores me to the way
His grace the golden key

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Grafted

I was a wild olive shoot
wandering lost and alone
certain I could thrive
on skill all my own

Lived a wild and crazy life
no one to answer to
sowing seeds of great regret
searching for something new

Though I had creativity
wisdom was far away
focus was quite absent
to guide me through each day

But then the Gracious Gardner
gently grafted me
into His wise and merciful root
finally I am free

Now I have direction
a perfect reason to live
the secret of His love and grace
to others I want to give

 

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Sixty Years

Celebrating newfound love
Your vows were never to betray
Blessed together by God above
Sixty years ago today

Many years of abiding grace
Have followed that blessed day
A life begun in love’s embrace
Sixty years ago today

As we honor husband and wife
Years unending so we pray
Bound together in eternal life
Sixty years ago today

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Binding the Broken

Just a little short verse that came to me during my prayer time this morning.

Binding the Broken

Your love and mercy are the plaster
Binding my broken heart of alabaster

As You direct the blooming of the aster
Of my heart You are beloved Master

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Imperfect Me

Though I know I’m deeply flawed
And sometimes I fear I’m a fraud
Grace I do see
I’ve been set free
Because I am loved by God

*****

Day 4 Lesson at Blogging U involves the topic of the imperfect, the form of limerick, and poetic device of enjambment. I think I managed all 3, though the limerick is not traditional in that it’s serious rather than funny.

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