Shaping the River Into Words

“My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness.  

I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words:”

Psalm 45:1, The Message


Some people are artists who process their world through paint and pen, fabric, clay, paper. Thoughts become images or design, an expression of what’s inside or what inspires. Others are musicians, turning their experience or expression into lyrics and orchestration, poetry put to harmony and melody.

My experiences and ideas pour out in words providing a way to rein in my random, swirling thoughts.  Perhaps the swirling is because I am currently seated on the couch surrounded by other voices–poets and writers whose work inspires and informs my life. I am seeking for a way to borrow some of their expressions to describe my own because sometimes I’m not sure what I think or feel until I read it in the lines of another writer’s words.


God gave me the Psalm 45 verse above many, many years ago when He confirmed my calling as a writer. I didn’t want to own it for many years, but I can trace the path of God’s hand on my life as a witness that this is so; I am beginning to live into that calling more each day.


Psalm 34

I cannot tell a story more profound/than stars, a single blade of grass/a lilac breasted roller/painted by Your hand/all designed in perfection/for your pleasure

I ponder bones, flesh, blood/coursing through vessel highways/mechanics beyond human ability/eyes of sea green/topaz/aquamarine, variety for beauty’s sake/and glory shines.

-Karin Fendick, “Ashes to Glory”


Life has been very ‘big’ lately; a new baby joined our family on Sunday night, a grandson turned 11 the same day (and he forgave me for wishing him a “happy 10th birthday” on his birthday card.) A dear friend is experiencing the gray days of loss as she mourns her father’s death and deals with her mother’s grief. My daughter is carrying her own kind of grief and seeking healing for the loss of yet another baby who has gone to Heaven, her fourth.

cropped-56a1f-dsci0354.jpgJune threatens to burst its banks with color and birdsong, skies the color of a robin’s egg and late evening views that put the most sparkling orange jewels to shame.  Sometimes it’s all too much to rein in, as if my senses can’t quite grasp the sights, colors and sounds. I need a better vocabulary to speak of what I see.

Perhaps you can relate.

Scripture tells us the skies have speech without a sound. Silent stars, magnificent, rolling clouds, cobalt blue sunrises. flaming orange sunsets shout with their own words, “there is a Creator.” After God made the world by His word He sent Jesus to become the living Word. John 1 says that Jesus ‘dwelt among us.’ How is that possible? How can the Word dwell among us, live with us or in us? I believe one way He does that is through what we say, speak, and write. Our words have power to bring peace to someone, to provide joy or comfort and create a way for someone to say, “that’s exactly the way I feel.”

“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.”    -Anais Nin

I’m living in a more cautious place these days as I reckon with the power of that gift to open a window for others to see God in a different way or provide a vessel to carry their own expressions when life gets too big.

My heart bursts its banks as I pour out my words to the King who has entrusted me with this one voice I have. My prayer is I will carry it well.


9 thoughts on “Shaping the River Into Words

  1. let the river flow, dear friend.
    He knows who he has entrusted with the gift, now you need to know and release it.
    praying for deep peace and comfort for your daughter as she mourns.

  2. Lovely Jody, expressions of hope that flows into all of these hearts of both celebration and pain. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  3. Kneeling alongside you, nodding over this eloquent aim: “these days … I reckon with the power of that gift to open a window for others to see God in a different way or provide a vessel to carry their own expressions when life gets too big.” Thank you for stating it so beautifully amid personal upheaval and worldwide din.

    1. My dear friend, you certainly know about personal upheaval….thank God for the gift of words to wrap around our days. I appreciate you.

  4. “Sometimes I’m not sure what I think or feel until I read it in the lines of another writer’s words.” Me, too, Jody! In fact, YOU are often that writer who helps me think, feel, and see in new ways. I am so grateful I discovered your voice, speaking into my life through your blog. P.S. My heart aches for your daughter. Oh, God! Minister peace and comfort to her and her husband. Bring to pass Psalm 113:9 as a promise to them, in the name of Jesus!

    1. Nancy your affirmation of my words today is a real gift–there’s really nothing sweeter than knowing what I’ve said might inspire someone else.
      Thank you for your prayers on behalf of Leah…I will pass the Scripture along.

  5. The title of this blog caught me right away…how have I missed this psalm. To think of finding the words for a river, of them flowing like a river…fabulous. Thank you.

    1. JoAnne, there’s something about reading the Psalms in The Message version that makes them sound almost new. Every time I read one one there’s another nugget. Here’s to mining!

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