Tag Archives: Jesus

My Story in 44 Words

Another poem written during my coaching class with Sarah Thebarge.
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My Story – A Quadrille

They stole my innocence, my peace
Left me powerless, without any choice
Pain buried in alcohol, drugs,
academic success
Unhealed pain, despair, darkness
never leave, never will

God calls me from exile by His Word
His people who love me
His dream of forgiveness

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The Loveliest Jar

A lovely jar
thrown in clay
by the Maker
See it cracked
chipped, smashed upon the ground
Shattered to dust and shards

Despair lingers until
the Maker comes
sweeps up each shard
Each grain of clay dust
He restores the jar
to greater beauty
——-
My Quadrille for dVerse Poets Pub. Required word is jar.

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Resurfacing in Blue

I should have seen it coming
this sense of feeling blue
Delving into trials of the past
to write a memoir that’s true

I’m doubtful that this venture
is worth the time and pain
Will I survive this process
where no secrets will remain

Or will there be some truths
odd feelings buried deep
that I’ll find I cannot share
but to myself I’ll keep

It’s easy to write stories
of cerulean skies above
What I want to convey at last
is God’s gracious love

The writing is not easy
for it has been said
Where no tears in the writer
the prose is surely dead

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The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write about something blue. I didn’t really have time today, but this poem kept nagging at me, so here it is. I hope to get back to dVerse later to do some reading. Do pop over and see what other poems of the great blue you will find.

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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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An Angel’s Life

I’ve had a blessed life
though I didn’t always
think it would be so

My first memory
is praying for the
frantic Christmas shoppers
at Costco, standing high on a shelf
It felt weird to look down
on the carts filled
with unnecessary things
while praying for their souls

At last I was taken home
by a nice family
placed in a garden corner
I was blessed with the honor
of praying over the nativity,
over the Holy Child
as the snow drifted down

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January came
and the nativity was taken away
Long, cold days followed
and I feared the dreary days ahead
The family would dart out the front door
to quickly get into their cars
and drive away, gone all day
I prayed for their safe return

I should have known
that each season passes to the next
Winter gave way to spring and
the family planted flowers,
the azalea bush bloomed,
and I was blessed once again
with the honor of praying
over what God had created
Never shall I despair again

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Lillian is tending the bar at dVerse Poets Pub today for Poetics and is thinking about statues. One of the options she offered is to write from the point of view of a statue, so I’ve written from the point of view of the angel statue in my front yard.

 

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If I Had a Gun

The latest mass shooting (I won’t mention which one, because there will likely be another, and this post will apply then) has brought out the gun control and how do we legislate a way to prevent the next one folks. We just need more laws and this violence wouldn’t happen, they say. They forget that Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock when the only laws on the books were to love God and love others.

But no one wants to look into their own heart and see that the possibility for such violence lies therein as well. It’s easier to point at others, at the evil “out there,” and ask how do we stop them.

I am reminded of a time, many years ago, when I was struggling with major clinical depression. My heart was shrouded in darkness and anger. I had been hurt and having never considered forgiveness as a solution, I simply wanted to hurt back.

I remember clearly one day pulling up to a stop light at the end of Hwy 217 in Lake Oswego. I glanced to my left at the man driving the pick-up in the lane next to me. The thought crossed my mind, “If I had a gun I’d shoot him.” That same thought recurred with every man I saw for the next few weeks. I found it incredibly disturbing, but I couldn’t seem to stop it. Although I had no gun and didn’t shoot anyone, I did take my anger out on others during this time, especially my poor long-suffering husband.

Now some might say my story is the perfect example to support the cause of gun control. But that’s not why I share it. I share it because it illustrates the darkness that lurks in the hearts of us all. People who have been hurt—and there are a lot of us—hurt other people if we cling to our anger and don’t forgive. And the only way to truly forgive is through the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

More laws are not the answer to the world’s violence problem. We cannot legislate love and forgiveness. We cannot legislate Jesus.

Paul wrote in Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh [or sinful nature], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

What we can do is teach our children to love and forgive by the power and grace of Jesus. And we can examine our own hearts and ask God to shine His light into any darkness therein. If every person on the planet did that, there would be no more violence and hatred. Yet you and I can’t control what others do, not even with laws. We can only control our own response to the hurts we experience in this world.

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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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Choices

Life is a series of choices

Some seem insignificant
but have life-changing impact

Others we agonize over
but are insignificant
in the grand scheme of things

Some choices
appear to be the only option
We can’t see the consequences to come
or alternatives before us

I’ve spent many long hours
pondering the” what ifs” of choices
that turned out bad.
If only I hadn’t…
then maybe everything would be better.

But ultimately
there is but one choice that truly matters
It is a choice we all face

Do I trust God or do I go it alone?

All is not rainbows and roses
if one chooses to trust
Hardship and regret don’t instantly
melt away

Life is still a series of choices
including the choice
to trust God with my mistakes

Including the choice
to share my story
my series of choices
with the world
in the hopes of encouraging another

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