Category Archives: Psalms

I am From {a #poem}

20170501_133356I am from doughboy pools and homemade Barbie houses

from Huffy bikes and Helms Bakery donuts.

I am from three sisters to a room and broad green bermuda lawns.

I am from bright sandy beaches and weeping willows

whose drooping green sheltered me from California’s sun.

I am from Coppertone and Sun-In

from Helen and Wes and John.

I am from belting out a tune and scribbling in the dark

from roller skating and tree-fort-building

from fighting at the top of my lungs and finding quiet at any cost.

I am from Bible stories with Mrs. Cluck and anywhere-you-can-take-5-kids-on-a-Sunday.

I am from the Hebjums and Lindseys, a Best at heart with an adopted name

from porkchops and sauerkraut, applesauce and meatloaf

from a father two generations back that made a grown girl flee

and a mother who lived chasing beauty wherever she could find it, rich or poor.

But mostly poor.

I am from luaus and carnivals, beach trips and berry-picking

babysitting and in charge at age 12 and hiding with a book to make it all go away.

I am from those moments of running, singing, writing, hiding, lying in the sun

but never far from the watchful eye of an invisible Father

held in arms more real than scratchy lawns and doughboy pools and donuts and

roller skates.

A Father more present than my own skin, closer than the sunshine on my bright brown hair.

Lover of my soul who was there every meandering minute, keeping time until I came home. 

~~~~~~~

In November of 2017 I had the privilege of participating in a gathering called “What’s Your Story? Discovering the Gift of Hearing and Telling our Stories.” Guest speakers were Cornelia Seigneur, founder and director of the Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference, and Velynn Brown, mentor and speaker. They are both from the Portland area.

I’m grateful to Velynn for sharing her “I Am From” poem with us and modeling how to write our own. The original form and idea comes from George Ella Lyon, writer and teacher.  If you’d like to write an “I Am From,” there are resources and examples on Georgia’s website. Mr. Google can also oblige.

Why Your Story Matters

P_20190130_081852_vHDR_OnSome friends and I were having lunch the other day, discussing various challenges to find the time to write—caring for children, caring for our homes, talking with spouses, all manner of delights and duties. Then there was the other ‘D’—distractions.

In between bites of fish and chips I lamented the ease with which I am sucked into all sorts of social media vortexes. That particular morning it was Instagram; I decried the slippery decline away from what I actually set out to do—write an original thought or two, unhindered by all those other virtual voices.

My friend Holly told us about what she called a ‘download’ earlier that week straight from God’s heart to hers—a message that everyone’s story matters, especially the stories of those who feel they have no voice. After this divine inspiration she drafted a six-week workshop on just that very thing.

Each one of us chimed in with our individual roadblocks to writing and the ways we fall into listening to all the other noisy gongs out there. Then we circled back to the truth–we each have a story to tell that is uniquely our own. Adoptive mom, recovered trauma victim, heart transplant survivor, grandparent and over-60 author….a vastly diverse group.

When I sat with our iced tea and lunchtime conversation running through my head the next morning, I heard the Holy Spirit remind me what we writers do: tell the world what we know from where we are in our own way. But the white noise of other voices—actual flesh & blood ones, or virtual via Facebook, Instagram, other bloggers or tweeters—can drown out the voice of our Shepherd Jesus.

The words that Jesus spoke in John 10:3 came to mind, “…and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls out his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Verse 4 “…and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

I find I’m often battling not only the subtle shouts of other people’s words but the shoulds.

“I should write about this,” “I should sound like this,” and so on.  But that’s a way of being pushed, not led. Jesus leads us by a gentle hand, the enemy of our soul prods and pokes and pushes. I want my words to take me where God leads. I don’t want to make up content or manufacture an idea—I have all I need with the life I live to write from what I already have. My life experience is different from your life experience and the way I flesh out my walk with God may be an encouragement to you. I want to write about that.

Another thing about sheep and shepherds, sheep are confined; they know their boundaries. They only go somewhere else when the Shepherd moves them. I often want to be in a different pasture than my own, different circumstances, a better place. But the problem with looking over fences at other peoples’ ‘property’, real or imagined, is I’m left dissatisfied and there it is again, distracted, from the words God has given me to share.

There is only one voice, one vision and one view from where I stand. That’s all I can tell you about. As I stay where I am, nibbling on this ‘grass’ from God, I want to hear Him the way Holly did that day, to get a regular ‘download’ of ideas and words to share.

When we belong to God we can all hear from Him if we are open to listening. I want to keep tuning into His voice.

What about you?

To the Tune of ‘Lilies’, a Poem

gardenia NOLA

There is a song in petals,

the rainsound of notes on thirsty

earth feeding spring’s new flowers.

There is a melody in the making

of a garden where silent, shriveled

seeds wait to burst, pushing

through wet soil with their magic

strength inside.

There is a harmony in the golden

leafwhisper and silent shout

of green dusting the tips of

dogwood and rose, tulip, lilac, moss.

The symphony grows as God

bouquets the Earth with color

and we hear that far off tune,

the resounding music that calls

us beyond this heaven to our home.

~*~*~*

I was reading Psalm 45 this morning; the Scripture that God spoke to me years ago when I began writing, “my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” I noticed the text said it was written to the “tune of ‘Lilies'”, perhaps a song…and I wondered, what do lilies sound like? 

Why Waiting Matters {and a quiet announcement}

True confession—I am a very impulsive person.  On the DISC personality test** I score as a High “I”—impetuous, impulsive, intuitive and easily influenced.

By the grace of God and years of practice I have learned how to not blurt out everything I think all at once. Strike that—I am learning.

Being still and quiet are also a job of work for me, practices I’ve been very intentional about for the past few years. I am desperate to hear God’s voice and listening for Him to speak takes significant effort.

But the greatest area of growth for me is learning to wait on God for my our good ideas to pan out. Hardest thing ever. When I receive an idea for something it is very difficult to understand that good things take time. And if the inspiration is truly a God-idea, not just a good idea, waiting is a wise choice.

I’m also a global learner; I process many, many thoughts all at once,  like the spokes of a wheel going out from the center. I think of it as my God-dependent mind being in the middle and all my scattered, happening-at-the-same-time thoughts circling on the outside.

Given my all-at-once information processing and do-it-right-now mindset you can clearly see why “slow down, take your time, think first” don’t always come naturally to me.

It’s pretty clear I’m not the only who struggles with this. Our society has normalized, not patience, but speed and hurry. We want what we want and we want it now.  This is not because we have developed such short attention spans, which is true to a point, but because we’re willing to settle for so little.

———

I’ve been spending some time in Psalm 46 the last week or so, meditating on several verses, particularly the familiar v. 10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Or, as the Amplified Bible puts it, “Let be and be still, and know—recognize and understand—that I am God.”

Here’s what I noticed: how many times the author says, “Selah.”  “Selah” is a musical term which means in the Hebrew ‘suspension {of music}, pause.’  THREE TIMES in this very short Psalm we read, “Selah”, pause, slow down, pay attention, think about this, these words are important.

~~~~~~

I am in a waiting mode right now, albeit an active waiting mode, because I am writing a book. I’ll tell you more about it in the coming months (or you can email me for the book synopsis). I am learning why waiting is worth it.

Launching a book into the world is a huge feat, as many of you know. I have to finish my book proposal by Jan. 31st, have it reviewed, begin writing the book, send the manuscript to an editor (scary!), incorporate edits, work on marketing, choose a cover, get it published and voila! you’ll have it in your hands.

By October. That’s ten months from now. However.

The process provides the time to tell the world about the book, to build anticipation and suspense, so when you finally hold a copy in your hands you’ll say, “This was worth waiting for.” Sort of like the Academy Awards but without the gowns.

Here’s the thing: I want the end product to be the best it can be so I’m willing to invest the time it takes to do it right.

I can skimp on costs for this book-to-be: cover and content, accelerate the production effort, neglect to market it, etc. etc. all in the name of getting my words out there sooner. End result? I’d be settling for second best. I want something beautiful, well done and a work that makes God look good, so I’m choosing to ‘selah’ early and often on this book journey.

Will you join me in the waiting. I’m counting on it.


**if you want to know more about the DISC assessment, click HERE

 

What’s Eating You? No, Really.

My neck is killing me.  (The lavender-laced, rice-filled warming thingy helps a bit. )

My massage therapist says my neck muscles are so strained from being in this position they have ridges in them.

Ridges? That cannot be good.

Protocol dictates I come see her once a week for the next six weeks.  I’m grateful for insurance (exclamation point) and I will definitely look forward to the relaxation time, but what about the in-between times?


Without the soothing music and comfortable table and the healing touch of therapy?


I’m left wondering–why am I so stressed?

What is causing this perpetual stretching forward that ignites my muscles into overdrive?
I think it’s the fretting.  The worry about things I cannot control.

There is much that could cause concern living in this fallen world.

Supreme Court decisions declaring blatantly that wrong is right.
National organizations standing by rulings that are anti-God.
Turmoil in Egypt, acquittal verdicts that incite protests, the list goes on.
 
The fretting and worry have extended to the blogosphere on issues secular and sacred. Opinions have been many–volatile voices and views have been volleyed all over;
righteous anger abounds and many people are torn to take sides.
 
Closer to home, there is my own flesh warring against my spirit (and my spouse)and we’ve had 40 years of practice. We should know better.

This stresses me out and makes me fret.  Causes me to wonder if I’ll ever change.
Is God really in charge?  Really?

The other morning I turned back to Psalm 37.

King David declares 3 times in the first 8 verses “do not fret”. 

I looked up the definition of ‘fret’ in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. 

The words brought a discomfiting and illuminating discovery.

“‘fret’—a) to eat or gnaw into, corrode. Also, fray, to make by wearing away a substance, (‘the stream fretted a channel’), b) to cause to suffer emotional strain, vex, 
c) to affect something as if by gnawing or biting, to grate.”

King David spoke about our penchant for fretting in Psalm 37:
            
“1  Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
                                                                                        (No, this sad state of affairs will not last forever)
2  for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away
                                                                                         (THAT’S what you should be doing instead of fretting
                                                                                          :Trust, Dwell, take Delight:)
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
 4Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart
                                                                                             (:And this, too, instead of focusing on all                                                                    that’s wrong and bad:) 
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun 
                                        (:Remember:)
7 do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes. 
                                        (:And again:)
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

Evil is ‘live’ spelled backwards. 

Evil is me taking things into my own small, limited hands and thinking I have the power to do something about changing people.

And I want to live.

The only person or thing I have control over is me….and I can choose to yield that control to the all powerful God who is Sovereign and able to accomplish His purposes in this world in spite of me.  

Even when it looks impossible.

I can choose to trust, delight, commit, dwell and rest.  Choose to digest the truth instead.  I can release my worrying, fretting, my anger to God’s capable hands for Him to do his will and his work.

Instead of letting worries and concerns eat me alive I can choose to feast on God’s living word, eat my daily bread, a portion that will feed me, nourish me and sustain me 

Until that final feast when we eat at the banqueting table with Him, I will choose to trust, delight, commit, dwell and rest. 

God’s Law is His Love

 
“That God cares enough about us to desire to regulate the details of our lives, 
is the strongest proof of love He could give; 
and that He should condescend to tell us all about it, 
and to let us know just how to live and walk so as perfectly to please Him, 
seems almost too good to be true.
God’s law, therefore, is only another name for God’s love
and the more minutely that law descends 
into the details of our lives, 
the more sure we are made of the depth 
and reality of the love.”
-Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life