Tag Archives: Truth

Not Just a Statistic

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem in common meter, but to use some of the tricks that Emily Dickenson used to make common meter a little more interesting. I love an opportunity to sort of break the rules of form, but only a little.

The topic of this poem is one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I decided this challenge was the time to trot it out.

Not Just a Statistic

Statistics are eye-opening
But overwhelming—sad
Three thousand babies killed each day
Yet women’s rights can’t cede

Statistics belie tragedy
Each single data point
A mother—and a single child
Ever a mournful plaint

Behind each dreaded statistic
Individual lives
Each one suffering painfully
Waiting to know God loves

Let’s look beyond the statistics
Open our eye as well
To all the hurt souls who need us
Provide hope as they wail

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The Gospel Misunderstood

Today is going to be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub (I think). At any rate, I wrote this for Open Link Night. It was inspired by several conversations I’ve had lately—some in real life and some online. So often the Gospel is misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians, and that makes me quite sad, because it is the best news I have ever heard.

The Gospel Misunderstood

Humans have selfishly gone their own way
I know ‘cuz for so long I did the same
Living my life by my greedy desires
I refused my need to call on His name

The Gospel is the Good News of mercy
Undeserved but offered freely to all
There’s no longer any need for penance
Only our repentance after the fall

Fear of punishment turns many away
Knowing deep down that their heart’s filled with sin
They think God judgmental and nothing more
By His sacrifice He welcomes all in

There’s no condemnation for me in Christ
He paid the penalty that I once owed
Although I endured the consequences
Redemption and friendship to me He showed

If you have rejected a vengeful God
Look closer and you’ll find amazing grace
Daily relationship with Him, who’s love
Will never leave when you seek His sweet face

Please don’t misunderstand the Gospel news
Clinging to sin that will be your ruin
Believing judgment all that God offers
When truly His love and grace He’s proven

Turn from a life that’s empty and broken
Turn, as I have, toward our God of love
Seek the peace that comes only through Jesus
The way, the truth, and the life from above

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The Philosophy of Choice

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday was offered by Brian Miller, back from a 5-month break from the pub. During his absence, he took a philosophy class and so is calling us to write about philosophy, with the requirement that our poem be titled “The Philosophy of ______” or “A Philosophy of ______.”

When I first read the prompt, I thought of writing something lighthearted and funny. The title “The Philosophy of Dogs” came to mind, but that’s as far as I got with that idea. I remembered that Bjorn once commented on one of my poems that my writing is better when I write from the heart. Although I do love dogs, and mine in particular, what is really on my heart these days is something much more serious. And so this poem was conceived.

The Philosophy of Choice

The philosophy of choice says
that the convenience of one life
is equally as important as
the continued existence of another

I once bought into this philosophy
and  I chose convenience
I had my whole life ahead of me
my college plans, my career, my life

And so I chose my convenience
and her death

I thought I was justified because
the conception was not my choice
It was forced upon me and so
I shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced
by this life I didn’t want

It was supposed to be so simple, so easy
but no one told me about the regret
the shame and the anguish that would come
that would inconveniently lead to depression
stealing seven years of my life
coloring every day thereafter

The tears I’ve cried over that one choice
would drown a small army of giants
Perhaps I had to cry every tear
she never got the chance to cry

The time for choosing is long past
But if I had it to do over again
I would choose my inconvenience
and her life

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Monsoon of Mercy

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Abhra tells a tale of the monsoon season in India. The “prompt” for the day is fairly vague, so I drew from Abhra’s story about how the hot, dry summer is followed by the monsoon. And I tapped into the discussion in the comments to Anthony’s post Pub Talk: Poetry and Making a Difference. I’ve written this as a Kyrielle because I’m finding a like this form a lot. It has just enough repetition to suit me.

Monsoon of Mercy

Sin and shame deeply scorch my soul
Freedom from consequence my goal
But my choice left me dry, not whole
Healed by Your monsoon of mercy

She was the victim of my choice
Never will I hear her small voice
Yet in His arms she can rejoice
Healed by His monsoon of mercy

Now there is no condemnation
Only grace for Your creation
Regret remains a grave fixation
Healed by Your monsoon of mercy

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Have No Fear

So I’ve written two Kyrielles, Let Me Carry You with the rhyme scheme abaB cbcB dbdB, and An Odd Kyrielle with the rhyme scheme aaaR bbbR cccR. There is a third rhyme scheme option with the Kyrielle, and that is aabB ccbB ddbB. I just had to write one. I started with refrain and went from there.

The refrain is something I’ve been saying lately, as I’ve talked with people about the book I’m working on about living fearlessly. I’ve finally learned that as long as no one can take Jesus away from me, there is nothing truly to fear.

Have No Fear

Thieves and frauds may steal my money
Many days will not be sunny
Sometimes I’ll lose what I hold dear
They can’t take Jesus, I’ll not fear

Often times we will lose at love
Find hard times we can’t get rid of
Walk through fog that won’t ever clear
They can’t take Jesus, have no fear

This life abounds with death and pain
Into dark days will pour cold rain
Sometimes people will laugh and sneer
They can’t take Jesus, I’ll not fear

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Black and White Make Gray

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem about the colors black and white. Here’s what I came up with.

Black and White Make Gray

When we were young
everything was black and white
We saw the world as dark or light
Decisions were wrong or right

Now we are older
everything has blurred to gray
We are afraid to join the fray
Choosing to wait ’til another day

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Prologue to Fearlessness

Today I’m working on the book proposal for a book I’m planning to write. I thought I’d share with you all the first draft of the Prologue. I’d love to hear what you think.

Prologue

Some people are born fearless. You can see it when they are just a kid. They are almost like adrenaline junkies with no thought of the consequences.

There was a kid that lived in our neighborhood when my son was young. He was the epitome of fearlessness—or perhaps more accurately recklessness. One day I saw this kid on his scooter heading down the hill we live on. (I never could get my own cautious son to try his scooter down that hill until he had learned to ride it on much safer roadways.) Now riding a scooter may not sound fearless—or reckless—but when you do it with roller blades on it’s what I would call foolhardy.

If you are one of the fearless ones, then this book isn’t for you. You can put it down right now, or better yet, give it to one of your scaredy-cat friends. You know the one—you’re thinking of her right now.

But if you aren’t fearless—if friends call you cautious, reserved, timid—if you feel like life is passing you by because you are too afraid to take a risk—then this book is for you.

I’m 50 years old and since I was a teenager I’ve dreamed of writing a book. I have numerous book ideas scribbled in journals, but I was always too afraid of failure to do anything with them. I’ve even seen some of my book ideas in the bookstore—written by someone else.

Nine years ago I had an idea for a book about telling our stories. It was inspired by a women’s retreat that I helped plan and spoke at. I spoke to the women about how important it is to tell our stories because it is our stories that bring us together, help us feel not so alone in this big, scary world. I talked about why we don’t tell our stories, which is essentially because we are afraid that people will judge us, that they don’t really want to hear what we have to say, and that it will make people not like us. All of those reasons are a lie, and I toyed with the idea of writing a book debunking those lies and telling my stories.

In 2014, Nish Weiseth wrote a book about telling our stories titled Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, published by Zondervan. It’s not exactly the book I had in mind, but it’s close. And it’s been quite successful.

All that fear got me was a missed blessing. The book I didn’t write wasn’t a failure because I never took the risk to write it. I kept it in my head—and as a little journal note—where it was safe. It was also unusable by God in that place.

Since that time I have written and published my first book—it’s a book of poetry about my struggles with depression called Light in My Darkness: Poems of Hope for the Brokenhearted. It’s not the book I ever thought I would write, but it has been such a blessing. (More about that in chapter 9).

My hope is that this book will help you take a few calculated risks in this scary life. My prayer is that in doing so you will understand that God has your back and will bless you with greater knowledge of His love and grace than you could ever imagine.

To be clear, I’m not advocating recklessly riding your scooter down a hill with roller blades on. That’s just dumb. I’m advocating listening to God, trusting His Word, and living like you are fearless. It can be done. I’m living proof.

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The Blessings of Obedience at F&C Writers Conference

It’s been three weeks since I went to the Faith & Culture Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since, but with the NaPoWriMo challenge and other responsibilities I just didn’t have time.

But I’m glad I waited, because if I’d written this post two weeks ago I probably would have simply listed bullet points of what some of the speakers said. While that may be useful and interesting, because they said a lot of profound stuff, it wouldn’t get to the heart of what I learned. In the past few days, I’ve been pondering what I truly learned from my conference experience and that’s what I want to share today.

First, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if it makes no sense. He has a plan and blessings will ensue if I am obedient.

The first day of the conference I wasn’t sure which breakout session to attend during the first set of breakouts. I had tentatively decided ahead of time to attend one that I thought I should go to and that looked interesting. But that morning I felt a strong nudge to attend a session titled Christ-Centered Editing led by Leanne Sype. It seemed ridiculous to me because I know about editing. At work, I live and breathe editing, am familiar with style guides and grammar resources, and know the importance of having someone else edit your writing. But the nudge was strong so I went with it.

It didn’t take me long into the session to realize I was in the right place. Leanne was a wonderful presenter who talked not about the mechanics of editing, but rather about a number of books she had the privilege to edit. The titles of those books spoke to me. Her focus on Christ-centered big-picture editing of those books was spot on.

Leanne talked about not writing or editing to sound like someone else who is a great writer, but rather to find my own God-given voice. It requires surrender to Christ when I write, staying tuned to Christ so my nature voice will emerge in my writing. In my notes I wrote, “Organized, linear, logical is my voice.” Turns out this is what I needed to hear.

The real blessings from my obedience to that nudge came later. Blessing one was when, in a session by Bob Welch the next day, Leanne sat next to me and we had a wonderful conversation. I found out she was a delightful person with fears and insecurities, just like me.

Then, the following week when I received my score sheets for the essay contest, I discovered that she was one of my judges. She gave me awesome, encouraging feedback and a good score. She affirmed that my organized, linear, and logical way of writing resonated with someone and was an encouragement to trust God. Her feedback, coupled with the less-than-positive scores and feedback of the other two judges, reminded me that my writing, my voice, will not resonate with everyone. But God will take my writing where it will be an encouragement and those who flat-out don’t connect with my writing shouldn’t discourage me from writing what God wants me to say.

Second, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if I really don’t want to do it. When I registered for the conference, I signed up to meet with an editor from a mid-sized publishing house. I had a plan to pitch to him a daily devotional on being fearless. I began working on the book proposal, but I struggled with writer’s block.

God began nudging me to pitch a different book—my memoir. I did not want to write my memoir, at least not yet, and I told God so. The nudges continued and my conversation with God about the subject ended with “Fine, I’ll write a book proposal!” I sat down at my computer to work on that book proposal and the words fairly flew onto the page.

I was still conflicted because the publishing house I had the editor-appointment with doesn’t publish memoirs; they do a lot of devotionals and other types of books, but not memoirs. I decided I would just talk to the editor about the two projects and get his feedback, without expecting him to have any interest in either book. But as I prayed for direction, I felt uneasy about this plan. I knew the editor was at the conference with the hope of finding a new book idea that he could get behind, and I would be wasting his time just seeking advice.

The Tuesday before the conference, as I prayed, I felt a new nudge. “You could sign up for a second appointment with another editor or agent,” the Lord said. So that’s what I did. I signed up to meet with an agent, who I later learned specialized in memoirs.

The blessing came when the editor and the agent independently suggested that I combine the two proposals. The editor told me that daily devotionals are not selling that great these days, perhaps because there are so many on the market. However, a book about overcoming fear written in a memoir style would fit into a popular trend. Then he told me to email him a revised book proposal for a book along those lines. (There was more to his suggestion, but I don’t want to reveal too much about my current book idea just yet.)

If I had walked into the appointment with the agent with only the devotional proposal, I don’t think the current book idea or the editor’s offer to consider my book proposal would have happened. Because I was obedient to God’s nudge to write a proposal for my memoir even though I didn’t want to, I was blessed by this new direction and opportunity.

There is more that I learned at the conference, but this blog post is already long enough. Perhaps I’ll share more another day.

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What Shall I Do?

Shall I watch you
drink the Kool-aid
when the nectar’s
free for all

Shall I watch you
peer into the abyss
when I can see
you’ll surely fall

Shall I watch you
pour water in your tank
when I’m certain
it’ll make you stall

Shall I watch you
attempt to escape
when there’s danger
beyond the wall

Or shall I warn you?

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A Conversation with My Fearful Self

This poem was inspired by the April 16 prompt from The Daily Poet by Kelli Russell Agodon & Martha Silano. The prompt was to write a conversational poem in which alternating stanzas were two speakers in a conversation. I decided to write a conversation with myself.

A Conversation with My Fearful Self

I can’t wait for the conference
It’s going to be so much fun
I’m so glad Ginger wants to go with me
I’ll text her about picking her up and
see what she wants from Kyra’s Bakery

Ginger hasn’t texted me back
I’ll bet she doesn’t even want to go
to the conference with me at all

What? Ginger does so want to go
to the conference with you
She is just as excited about it as you
I’ll bet she just didn’t see your text

It’s been two days, of course she has
I’ll bet she hasn’t answered
because she’s trying to figure out
how to get out of going

That’s ridiculous! You know she wants to go
I’m sure she’s just been busy
or the text got buried
amongst a bunch of other texts
and she didn’t even see it

I’m just sure she doesn’t want to go
At least not with me
She’s probably trying to find
someone else to go with

Enough of that nonsense!
Just email her and ask

Fine, I’ll email her
but she won’t answer my email either

See, I told you so
Ginger emailed you back
and the only reason she didn’t answer before
is because she couldn’t decide
what kind of cupcake she wanted

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