Tag Archives: Prayer

My Schedule

I wrote this poem last Saturday during a poetry workshop at the Oregon Christian Writers’ 1-day winter conference. The assignment, if you will, was to write a poem similar to one titled “Holiday Concert” by Maryann Corbett. This is what I came up with. And when I read it to the group, it made me cry.

My Schedule

He needs my help; I don’t have time
I’m too busy with Bible study lessons,
calling all my ladies, leaving voicemails
They don’t want to talk
But he does, he needs me

He needs my help, my love, my advice
But there’s laundry to do, poems to write
Groceries to buy—milk, eggs, more canned goods
just like the ones already in the pantry
I’m just too busy, it never ends

He needs my help; I promise “tomorrow”
or the next day, but there’s a conference
I simply must attend, and a poem to write
and a funeral to drive to in another state,
and then work. Still he waits, patiently

But I wonder, does he know how much
I love him so, I want to help him
to listen to his woes, to encourage him
Once I’m done paying the bills and
doing the taxes and sorting the mail

One day I’ll look back and wonder why
he wasn’t a bigger part of the endless
schedule of less important things

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I’m a Writer

I’m a Writer

I am a writer
How do I know?
It was in my DNA long ago

If I didn’t write
I think I’d go mad
from the sentences
swirling around in my head

I’ve written most days
of this crazy life
in so many forms
in so many genres

Briefs on construction law
and civil commitment

Short stories with not much
character development

Prayers to encourage
the lost and downtrodden

Private journal entries
to cope with my own problems

Blog posts now numbering
well over one thousand

Essays on life and love
and apologetics

But much to my dismay
the writer I am today
is a poet

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The Perfect Center – A Sestina

In Bible Study Fellowship we are studying the Life of Moses. One of the great truths about God that we are learning in Leviticus and Numbers is that God desires to be at the center of our lives, and that when He is at the center He provides for His people. I decided that I wanted to write a sestina about God as the perfect center of my life. Unlike the first sestina I wrote, this one is patterned after the original sestina so that each stanza has lines of 8, 11, 11, 11, 11, and 11 syllables, rather than each line being in iambic pentameter (not that I was successful with achieving iambic pentameter in my first one).

The Perfect Center

You desire to be my center
O God, You alone are worthy of my trust
Yet the deceit of this world plunders my faith
Where would I be without your immense mercy
Show me, Lord, clear direction I might follow
Guide me in Your perfect ways that I obey

Forgive me when I don’t obey
Bring me back, Lord, to You my perfect center
Never let me stray as Your will I follow
O Lord, You are the only one I can trust
Because of Your great compassion and mercy
I will forever believe, cling to my faith

I marvel at the strength of faith
That some days makes it effortless to obey
Resting in the bosom of Your great mercy
Focused on the cross, Your Son my center
Considering Your perfect decrees, I trust
With reckless abandon Your will I follow

Headstrong, my own will I follow
I marvel at the fragility of faith
Prone to trust in worthless things I cannot trust
On my own it’s too difficult to obey
Worldly possessions, Lord, become my center
I’m lost, alone without Your perfect mercy

I am thankful for Your mercy
Leading me back to the One I must follow
O Lord, You deserve to be my soul’s center
I pray this day I will attain perfect faith
I pray someday I’ll learn to always obey
You have proven, Lord, You are worthy of trust

Correct me when I fail to trust
When I do wrong, but then repent, have mercy
Grant me Your Holy Spirit, then I’ll obey
Fill me with Your perfect grace, then I’ll follow
Remind me You are faithful, then I’ll have faith
Make me desire to keep You as my center

When I follow I learn to trust
Growing faith feeds on Your mercy
You, the Center, help me obey

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Cardboard Evangelism (Miracles)—A Found Poem

This morning in church we had a visit from a group of men from our local Teen Challenge ministry. The sermon was about how God still performs miracles and these men shared how they are each a miracle. They did so in a very unique way; they called it their cardboard evangelism. Each man walked in front of the congregation with a cardboard sign. On one side they had written who they saw themselves as before they came to Teen Challenge; on the other side they had written who they are now—a miracle of God.

After the service I asked if I could write a found poem based on their cardboard evangelism and they said I could. So with the help of a few of the men I took pictures of the signs so that I could transcribe these miracles into this found poem.

TC Frown TC Smile

Cardboard Evangelism (Miracles)

Walking in a world of darkness
Found the Light in Jesus Christ

Lost cause; No foundation
Redeemed child; New creation

Chained down by addiction
Set free in Christ

Suicidal depressed broken spirit
Miracle Overcomer Healed

Young homeless lost with no hope
Found by Jesus who gave me hope for a better life

Abandoned, Dad was in prison
Found and free through my ultimate Father

Addicted to cutting myself; Hopeless, in pain
Christ bled enough for me. I am healed inside and out

20 years running with the devil
Now . . . running with GOD

Introduced to meth; it was killing me slowly. I hit my rock bottom
Repented to God. Now praying to be faithful

Bitter outcast looking for acceptance in a needle and a spoon
Passionate Jesus freak

Godless dirtbag
Fresh and clean with the Lord

Lost everything to alcohol
Gained everything through Christ

Overwhelmed by darkness
Overcome by Truth

On the street homeless, shooting meth, feeling hopeless
Overcame all with God’s love & forgiveness

Felt misled
Now have purpose

Had everything; wasn’t enough
Have Jesus; more than enough

Lost, broken, and hopeless
Found, healing, and hopeful

Junkie running to the needle every day
Delivered running to my Sword †

Imprisoned by drug addiction
Bailed out by Jesus Christ

Drinking away the past and the hurt
Trusting in Jesus to heal it all

Chasing dope daily, just to get high
Chasing God daily, and lifting Him high

Afraid I could do nothing right
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

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Poetry from World War II

I had lunch today with a dear old friend. She has been an inspiration, mentor, prayer partner, and much more to me for many years. But sometimes I wish I knew her when she was younger—I’m sure she was a real hoot! We met at her modest apartment and talked awhile over her dining room table. I gave her a copy of my new poetry book because I knew she would love to read it. Lo and behold, she pulled a tattered piece of paper out of her Bible and said, “I’ve written some poems, though they aren’t as good as yours.” Now I don’t like to disagree with Norma because she is my elder (by 44 years!), but I have to disagree with her on this one. I think her two poems are wonderful! They were written when she was in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II on Army Nurse Corps stationery, with a few doodles thrown in for good measure. Here’s what the originals looked like:

Norma Poem 2 Norma Poem 1

I asked her if I could type them up so they wouldn’t be lost when that poor, tattered piece of paper finally crumbled to dust and she said yes. She also said I could share them here. So here they are, the musings of an Army nurse during World War II.

Just a Few Thoughts on Philosophy, by Norma Mohr

A tear, a laugh, a smile, a sigh
For these we ask the reason why
And on them ponder

For trials, tests, for happiness
For struggles to achieve the best
For love, for hate, for praise, for jests
We’ve sought the answer

For weary days, for happy days
For insights to life’s many ways
We ask these things, the questions raise
For what, this purpose?

And in our human frailty
We hope to solve the mystery
And also seek a remedy
For life’s vast problems

It is not ours to reason why
A higher power than you and I
Has put us here to live, to die
Nobly for others

*****

My Prayer, by Norma Mohr

I pray for love instead of hate
I pray for light instead of might
I pray for strength to carry on
And as I wake to face each dawn
I pray some soul I might inspire
Help him raise it from the mire
Of despair, to shining hope
And newer vision with which to cope
With life’s vast problems

I pray that I might always smile
At troubles, tests, and every trial
That from each one I may arise
Lift my eyes up to the skies
And bring all cares to Him above
Who in His sympathy and love
On us bestows in life’s dark hour
A greater sense, a greater power
To conquer strife

I pray His will, not mine be done
I pray that when each battle’s won
That I not in myself will glory
Nor cause offense or make Him sorry
That I might swallow self and pride
Let Him know I’m on His side
Striving also for that goal
To ignite anew in every soul
The joy of living!

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To Post-a-Day or Not to Post-a-Day

Last week I was fairly seriously contemplating giving myself a post-a-day 2015 challenge. I’ve done it before in 2011 and was extremely blessed by the experience. For awhile it seemed like a great idea to do it again. I know that when I post more frequently I get more page views and I gain more blog followers. Posting daily would also be a great way to both promote my current book and write drafts of additional poems for my next book.

Then today I decided I wanted to write a new Christmas poem. Nothing. I sat staring at the blank box on the screen for far too long for my current patience level with no original inspiration. Blogging about my quandary was all I could come up with.

I’m going to have to think on this a bit more and pray about it. Come January 1 we’ll see what I decided.

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Worth the Wait!

Book coverWaiting is a part of life. It seems like I’ve been experiencing a lot of it lately, and been learning patience in the process.

Some things are worth the wait. Cookies baking in the oven are worth the wait, especially if they are made with love and good ingredients. A visit from a good friend or family member is worth the wait, especially when the time together is precious. A trip to a warm and sunny destination is worth the wait, especially when one is tired of the cold.

The Israelites learned that waiting for the tabernacle to be finished was worth the wait. And it was a long wait. It took a year for all of the work to be completed. But when the tabernacle was completed, the Lord came to dwell with them and His Glory filled the tabernacle. See Exodus 40.

The birth of Jesus was also worth the wait. Hundreds of years before His birth, the prophets foretold of His coming and that He would be a ransom for the sins of many. The Israelites had waited a long time for His birth; some are still waiting. But for those who know the Lord Jesus, the wait was worth it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve been experiencing a lot of waiting lately. In my last two posts—here and here— I mentioned some of this waiting. But now the waiting is over! (Well, sort of. I’m still waiting for my author copies to come in the mail).

My poetry book, Light in My Darkness: Poems of Hope for the Brokenhearted, is now available on Amazon.com! I just approved the proof this morning and it’s already available for sale. It took over a year, longer than it took the Israelites to build the tabernacle, but the work God set out for me to do is finally completed. And one of my favorite parts is that my son designed the cover, drawing the original cover art in Photoshop.

My hope and prayer is that the Lord will dwell in the hearts of those who read it and be blessed by the Light in my darkness.

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Swimming with the Fishes Fearlessly

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to Maui. It’s only our second time to Hawaii. The first time we went, I missed out on the snorkeling trip he and our son went on because I was afraid of the water. I missed out on cool tropical fish, octopus, spinner dolphins, and more. Simply because of fear.

It all started when I took swim lessons at the Collier Park pool in Ramona, California in the third grade. I was a skinny little thing back then, with not an ounce of fat on me and pitiful lung capacity due to living with smokers. The instructor told us to get into the 7′ end of the pool, push away from the side, and tread water. I followed his instructions—and a sunk like a rock. I frantically tread water at the bottom of the pool, looking up at the surface of the water where life-sustaining air was in abundance, terrified that I couldn’t get to the top, until someone jumped in and pulled me out.

Ever since then, if I ever got in a pool, lake, river, or even the ocean—and it has been seldom that I have—I always stay in the shallow end and my hair and glasses stay dry.

But as we planned our trip to Maui, I felt a strong desire to snorkel so that I could witness the beauty of God’s underwater creation. I knew it was going to take more courage than I have on my own to overcome a decades-long fear of water.

So I asked several groups of friends to pray specifically that I would be able to overcome my fear and snorkel. I prayed myself that God would give me courage to experience a successful and enjoyable snorkeling adventure.

God is good. He answered that prayer in ways I never imagined. In fact, I realized afterwards that He had begun answering my prayer 29 years ago when I met my husband, long before I even knew it would be my prayer. God knew I would need more than courage—I would need encouragement and someone to hold my hand through the experience.

I started in the hotel pool with rented snorkeling equipment, including prescription goggles so I could actually see. My husband was patience and encouraging as he sat relaxing in the lounge chair by the pool. Once I had mastered the ability to put my face in the water and breathe through the snorkel, we ventured out to Black Rock just down the beach from our hotel. As we first began to snorkel, my husband literally held my hand and we paddled around together looking at the fish. When I got water in my snorkel and became frustrated and wanted to quit for the day, he didn’t give me a hard time but was understanding.

Although it was a short snorkel that first day, we snorkeled three more times during the week. As long as I needed him to, my husband held my hand. Once when I felt a little panic, I recited one of my favorite versesPhilippians 4:6-7and God’s amazing peace did calm my heart. Eventually I was comfortable in the water and was able to snorkel on my own around Honolua Bay and Honokohua Bay. I even saw an octopus, a turtle, an eel, and a ton of colorful fish and coral.

Are you letting fear hold you back from something you would love to do? Are you missing out on life’s abundant blessings because you are paralyzed by fear and anxiety? Ask God to give you the courage—and whatever else He knows you need—to overcome that fear. He is faithful and He will answer, “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

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God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Any serious study of the Bible includes some basics of Bible prophecy. There are, of course, the prophecies that Jesus:

For me, the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament through the fulfillment of prophecy is sufficient proof of the Bible’s authenticity and Jesus’ authority as King and God. One of the things I love about God is how He frequently shows me new connections when I read His Word, in answer to a prayer I said many years ago (which you can read about here). Truly all of the Old Testament scriptures are about Jesus and His relationship to His people.

Last Monday I was in a Bible Study Fellowship seminar titled “Personal Quiet Time” given by our wonderful Substitute Teaching Leader Ginger. We learned a great method for reading God’s Word and listening for what He has to say to you in the passage you’ve read.

In the middle of this seminar, as we were each practicing a method of personal quiet time we had just learned, God revealed an Old Testament – New Testament connection to me in a most awesome way.

First of all, He worked ahead of time to make what He wanted to teach me possible for me to see. For some reason I went to the seminar without either my Bible or my phone (which has a Bible app on it). I left both in the room my group was to meet in after the seminar. As I entered the seminar I sat in the front row next to my friend and fellow Group Leader Gina. When it came time for us to open our Bibles to read the passage Ginger asked us to consider, Gina loaned me her study Bible and she used her iPad Bible app. If I’d had the Bible I bring to BSF (and had left in the room) what happened next would not have been possible because that Bible doesn’t have a concordance.

As part of this exercise, we read Mark 1:35-45, which begins, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” As I read this, I was reminded of another verse that I have long felt was a call to me to not sleep in so late but rather to get up early to spend quiet time with God, as Jesus did in the Luke passage. I knew the text of the verse, but not what chapter and verse it was. Using the concordance in Gina’s Bible I found that the verse was Isaiah 50:4, which says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” I was sure the Lord was trying to tell me that I had ignored His prompting to get up earlier long enough.

But then my eyes fell upon the next verses in the Isaiah passage that describe Jesus’ obedience and endurance in going to the cross, as well as His unwavering trust in His Father:

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Isaiah 50:5-8 (NIV).

Suddenly I knew that it wasn’t about what time I get up, but whether I desire to know Jesus more and spend time with Him in my otherwise busy day. I realized it was okay that I am not a very early riser even if Jesus was. He had to be to beat the crowds and have any time alone with His Father; I have other options. Then, to confirm what I had heard from Him, the Lord spoke again through Ginger. As we finished the exercise and discussed what we had learned from the passage, Ginger pointed out to the group, as an example of developing personal quiet time habits, that I had found a creative way to spend time with God, and that is by doing my BSF lessons while I eat my lunch at work.

What a blessing! I learned new prophetic connections and received wonderful encouragement, all because I made the time to arrive early for this one-hour seminar. And because God is good.

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