Tag Archives: Seasons

The Problem with Making Plans

P_20190120_153155_vHDR_On.jpgSome History

I’ve been writing most of my adult life via Letters to the Editor in publications as diverse as our local San Joaquin valley paper, to People Magazine (something about Michael Dukakis–Google him). I forayed into writing and submitting essays before they became creative nonfiction and had a few pieces published–one was an entire page and garnered me a whopping $75.00 check. (It’s on microfiche in the Fresno Public Library. You can also Google microfiche). I even had some poetry printed in one of the very first Jesus People magazines, Cornerstone. (Google. Again.)

In addition to writing, I returned to school as a mom and finished my teaching credential program at the age of 40. The years I spent in the classroom, along with raising our son and daughter demanded more and more of my time. There was very little opportunity to write or submit work anywhere. However, when my kids were grown and gone several years ago I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to begin writing again.

At the time ‘writing’ equaled ‘published’ in my mind. When I mentioned this to someone they suggested I start a blog. “What’s a blog?” I asked. Well.

This Blog’s Beginning and Connections

Seven years ago this week during a 7-day snowstorm that shuttered the city and the schools, I had plenty of time on my hands and jumped into the blogosphere with both feet.

As I went looking around the interwebs for Christian bloggers I discovered three kind souls in particular who answered my novice question, “where do I begin?” One suggestion was to use the free online platform of Blogger.  I taught myself how to navigate their layouts, hit ‘Publish’ and 3 Way Light was born. ‘Taught’ is a relative term; I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I entitled my blog “Three Way Light,” because I wanted my words to shine, reflect and reveal the light and glory of God. My words went off into cyberspace and thus began a wonderful adventure.

When I reached out to those who had gone before me or who were journeying alongside, I found I was surrounded by welcoming writer friends and readers. It was an astonishing event; the community of people I met were encouraging and kind as I connected via the comments in my blogposts. Many of those people became personal, in real life friends; in fact many of you, dear readers, are those kind souls whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know in person over the years.

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Over time I transitioned to my current site via the WordPress platform and changed Three Way Light to simply my name, as people were beginning to know my work and my words (which was also astonishing.)

A New Direction

Here I am seven years later and God has said it’s time. Time for a change in the blogosphere.

Seven years is a long-ish time. Seven is also a number in God’s economy that signifies completeness. Through very surprising circumstances and another silent nudge from the Holy Spirit, a course correction is in order. Not for a different direction, but to travel with fewer encumbrances, if that makes sense. The present nudges have come in very subtle ways… I re-read my journal from the last month and found pieces like breadcrumbs on the page, all leading to an ‘aha!’ decision that surprised me a great deal.

One day while I was pondering these soul thoughts and the tug of my heart to grow my words in other ways, I heard a still, small voice say, “What if you stopped blogging regularly?” And just like that I was not only shocked but incredibly relieved. (Sometimes we don’t know how wound up we are about something until God releases us, yes?)

The shock came because I had grand plans at the beginning of 2019 to regularly feature work from Faith Writers Over 50–The Sage Ones, to feature more female poets of faith and to spotlight Christian writers of color. I would do interviews, I would gather awesome folks to introduce to the world. I would make the world more beautiful by pointing towards poetry.

But I’m also being pulled towards a regular life of writing in other directions and I can’t do it all. So~as of this writing, I will be signing off my last blog post entry. No more weekly or semi-weekly blog entries to think about. Insert happy/sad face.

That being said, this website will continue to be a place for resources and information and encouragement, as my tagline says. I’ll just have things set up differently. The categories and tabs will be modified somewhat and readers will find entries in lists rather than blogposts.

Past blogposts will be enfolded into Lists/Resources like:

  • 5 Female Faith Writers
  • Faith Writers Over 50
  • 3 Blogs About Faith and Food
  • 5 Non-Profits I Trust and Give To
  • Christian Writers of Color
  • 12 Writers Conferences and Retreats for 2019 (click here for that)
  • and many more

I’ll also be adding new categories–‘Photography’ combined with music–my amateur film captures with music I love, and a ‘Favorites’ tab–listing websites and blogs I enjoy.

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There’s a rainbow in the distance if you look very closely….

Most change comes at a very slow pace so the differences here will show up over time. Something like turning a cruise ship around.

I’m still venturing through the water, paddling towards the shore, but the oars will be a little lighter in my hands. (And I’ll be waving at all of you from the shore.)

My regular writing will now be via my newsletter ‘Random Acts of Writing–Miraculous to Mundane.’ Every other month beginning with February 1st I’ll be penning a multitude of thoughts I haven’t shared elsewhere. You can sign up for my newsletter here. Next month’s edition will feature notes as varied as my review of “Mary Poppins Returns” to thoughts about two new book projects and links to other places on the web where my work has appeared.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride by subscribing here. 

Rowing towards the same shore with you,

Jody

 

5 Favorite Things About Fall

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There are so many reasons I love this time of year–it’s hard to choose, but here are my top five:

  1. Pumpkins Who knew there were white pumpkins and bumpy pumpkins and sorta-blue pumpkins and well, all manner of heirloom squash family members?? God’s creativity abounds in the gourd department, no? The displays at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere are a delight for the eyes. (But no Pumpkin Spice anything. Sorry Starbucks. And sorry, Hostess. Pumpkin Spice Twinkies? Um, no.)

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2. Half-a-pie moons in the night sky, crisp, clear mornings. Dew on the leaves in the garden.P_20180920_095150 Purple asters, full, ripe raspberries, colors beginning to creep up the foliage in the Japanese Stewartia.P_20180920_123823The world is getting ready to sleep.

I praise God for the way He speaks to us in creation. As nature is cycling through her seasons, the picture outside my window sends a visual message that murmurs just below the surface: I need to s l o w down. The waning hours of daylight are a subtle hint.P_20180919_081748From Websters, ‘Dormant’–asleep or inactive, latent but capable of being activated. From biology, a relatively inactive or resting condition in which some processes are slowed down or suspended. It is good to not always be in a hurry, the world whizzes by fast enough as it is. Tarrying awhile inside or out helps us to see that while we sleep God is still at work. Capable of being activated.

3. Cool nights mean fragrant candles, warm socks, and cozy fires. 

Burning Candles

There are fewer hours of daylight, forcing us inside to rest and redraw boundaries. Again the period of dormancy and slumber outside provides a reflective way to re-center ourselves physically. While my nature is to please everyone and Do All the Things that people ask of me, the natural environment moves me to a mental and spiritual process of gathering myself in. I’m grateful for the natural slowing down of Autumn when we’re inside more and attentive to the quiet. This posture leaves me more margin in my life to say ‘yes’ to God and what He’s called me to do, instead of overextending myself when I shouldn’t.

4. Cooking, Baking = Creativity.

We’ve had some humdinger, hot summers in Seattle the last couple of years and the last place I’ve wanted to be is in the kitchen. Now that the days are much cooler, I relish the chance to return to cooking and baking, especially on Sunday. That probably sounds odd, but it’s how I sabbath in the Fall. Rest to me looks like creativity–make something or organize something. I spend most of my days working with words, which requires a lot of attention to this old brain. Working with my hands leaves my mind free to process, another way to build white space and margin into my days. Plus, banana bread. It’s a win-win.

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My daughter Leah and I in the kitchen. A very long time ago. (I mean, look at the floor. Can we talk about the floor?)

5. Fresh Starts

Rosh Hashanah–When I taught in Hebrew school several years ago I welcomed the immersion into Jewish practices surrounding the beginning of the year. Rosh Hashanah literally means ‘the Head of the Year’ and signals the beginning of the Jewish New Year. How interesting that this head of the year coincides with the first day of school, a time for new beginnings, no matter whether it’s Kindergarten or college. When I read back through my journals each year I find a record of God bringing the most dramatic changes in my life in each successive September. As a Christian I love the way God weaves the Hebrew festivals into our New Testament understanding of Scripture. Our lives as believers in Messiah Jesus are a reflection of the type and shadow of those festivals God gave His people from the very beginning. I love being part of that. 35a52-sam_0246

You can find out more about Rosh Hashanah here.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in our hearts. I think that’s why we sense God’s call to us, soul-deep, in this season. How about you? What are your favorite things about Fall?  I’d love to hear in the comments. And as always, If you’ve liked this post, would you consider sharing it with a friend? Email, Facebook, Twitter buttons are right down below. Thank you ever so much!

Remember to sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter “Random Acts of Writing” (next edition in November.) You can sign up right here.

Autumn Seventeen {a #poem}

When did the hills 
gather this golden?
yesterday’s horizons
turn amber in waves?
I slept with green outside

my window and woke 

to topaz, russet, moving 

yellow, mellow against the sky.

-Jody Collins c. 2017

 

Read & Pray in Your ‘Walking Around Life’

I was going to subtitle this, “Will Jesus Still Love me if I Don’t Have ‘Quiet Time?” ‘cause I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately.  Don’t get me wrong—I’ve studied Psalm 119—I know God’s word is the compass for my life, that I can’t live without it.

But sometimes life goes in a different direction.

I remember the days when I was able to sit outside on my deck for an hour at a stretch, maybe three times a week, and just listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speak. I wrote and wrote and wrote what I heard in those whispers on the wind to me.

I recall sweet moments at my desk reading Scripture or perusing a favorite devotional—Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon. The words seemed to light up the page, resonating deep in my spirit.  Time after time there would be an ‘aha’ moment when I sensed God’s presence and His pleasure as I sat to soak myself in the Word.

But I wonder about those folks like myself who find themselves in a season where quiet time is pretty much non-existent. I’m writing a book, shepherding a small group of like-minded writer folks, editing for others and caring for my kids via phone calls and texts that come all hours of the day. I need to be interruptable for that; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, what about this question—is there really a divide between sacred and secular? A time that is not God’s (if we belong to Him)? Is He more pleased with me because I take time for studying the word or reading a devotion? Or is He okay (because He knows this season of my life) if I lean into Him when I can, stay hungry for His presence in all the hours of my day?

My son has a new job in a Frito-Lay warehouse (yay for all-you-can-eat Doritos) and he works 60 hour weeks these days. Even on a regular day (i.e. 8 hours) his moments of alone time or quiet time vanish as he communicates with his wife or nurtures his five children. His thirst is there for God’s word—he has a seminary degree, steeped in Scripture inside and out–but the chances to drink are few and far between.

Or what about my niece’s husband, new dad of two, who works nights, sleeps days and hugs his wife and babies in between? Where or how would he, could he, find moments to spend with Jesus? Would it be before or after worship practice, where he plays drums and/or guitar?

Or what about the baristas at Starbuck’s who get up at oh dark thirty to make sure our coffee-fueled world goes on? There are plenty of Jesus-loving espresso-making folks out there—how do they manage to fit in time with God?

And is God worried about that? Really?

Here’s what Oswald himself had to say about “quiet time”; May 12th ‘My Utmost for His Highest.’

“Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality.

Love means that there are no visible habits— that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. If you are consciously aware of your own holiness, you place limitations on yourself from doing certain things— things God is not restricting you from at all. This means there is a missing quality that needs to be added to your life. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.”

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A (Very) Long Obedience in the Same Direction

I’ve been been making time lately to re-read my journals–sort of taking inventory of God’s words to me as I read His Word throughout the past year during my quiet time.

First of all, it’s very encouraging.  To look back over the year I can see that many of the God-thoughts I wrote down have come to pass. Joy and miracle. Yay.

As I read I couldn’t help noticing the repeated theme of obedience. I read Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” last year, his study of the Songs/Psalms of Ascent.

God was speaking to me over and over again about this subject using this book. Yes, God usually has to repeat something to me over the course of many months to make sure I’m getting it.

Lately I have struggled with falling into discouragment about my behaviours, attitudes and actions, particularly with those whom I love.

“Be more gentle here, Jody.  Watch your tone of voice….” Ack–I often fail miserably.
But God, but God……..the Holy Spirit reminds me.  His mercies are new every morning. Exclamation point.
Thank GOODNESS for Jesus’ reminder in Matthew Chapter 6, that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’.
In other words, “Take each day as a fresh start from me, and don’t be burdened down by the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘but I didn’ts’.” 

I wrote this in my journal:

We cannot let ourselves be held captive to the disastrous ways we’ve failed
and let that dictate our tomorrows. Our tomorrows belong to God and rest on
His power and provision, not my performance.

Peterson talks extensively about failures and obedience when he discusses Psalm 132 in “Long Obedience..”
This Psalm is full of ‘remembers’, the Psalmist reminding God about his promises to King David.

“God, based on the history of what you’ve done for us, we’re planning on a future restoration of your kingdom and your temple, a place where you can dwell. We know you’ll come through.” (my paraphrase).
Peterson continues, “The traveler/psalmist is not…”reveling in the past for its own sake , but a traveler using what he knows of the past to get to where he is going–to God.”
“The past is not,” Peterson says, “for the person of faith, a restored historical site that we tour when we are on vacation; it is a field that we plow and harrow and plant and fertilize and work for a harvest.”
“If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment (oh God, I make so many!) or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly.
We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth;
we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and a goal.”
“What we require is obedience–the strength to stand and the willingness to leap,and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God’s ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises.” (LOSD, pp. 169-171).

My journal notes continue, “just like a treehouse in a tree: the tree is firmly planted–solid in the strength of the tree and its roots. And when you climb up high in the branches into the treetops, you can see the view.”

Next time I see a treehouse, I’m going to remember that….Roots in the past reminding me of God’s faithfulness,
a vision from on high of the future He has planned for me.

Tree photo, New Orleans, LA, jlc, April 2012  
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