Random Acts of Poetry: Word Pool


Poetry Friday!

This week, LL Barkat (Seedlings in Stone) has a challenge to make a word pool and use this pool to create a poem. You should really go check her post out, she has a wonderful poem there titled “Bottled” that is sure to bring you a smile.

I love words! Today is a hot, lazy day…and I am thinking about cool water. Water you slide into, water that engulfs you and shocks your skin with a thousand volts of cool. Ahhhhh.

Here is my word pool:

azure crystal clear pool blue rippling splashing washing cleansing pure sliding
cataract cascade aquatic divine smooth free floating caress flowing
moving babbling burbling rich ribbon eddy current flow careening
splashing falling drenching laughing cobalt mirror sparks foam rippling mist

And here is my poem:

River Words

the river
floating, flowing
water-sparks
on cool blue ribbons
azure and cobalt
rippling and rich
cascades slide
over skin-smooth stone
laughing, drenching
cleansing cataract
swallows me in
and carries me away

Bumper Stickers, T Shirts, and Cross-Eyed Action Figures (a rant on Christian marketing)

Deluxe Jesus action figure, with loaves, fishes and glowing hands. Glowing hands?!?
I don't care if it rains or freezes
As long as I've got my plastic Jesus
Glued to the dashboard of my car
You can buy Him phosphorescent
Glows in the dark, He's pink and pleasant
Take Him with you when you're travelling far

-George Cromarty and Ed Rush song

I just came from Marcus Goodyear’s blog, where he has posted about Jesus branding (also check out Bobble Head Jesus at thoughts of a gyrovague.com.) This is a topic that has always been of interest to me. Is it wrong to want products that express your faith? To want toys for your children that encourage them to play out scenes from the Bible? Or to want DVDs and music for your family that don’t glorify a worldly viewpoint that disagrees with your beliefs? I don’t think so. However, there are (in my opinion) some major issues with Christian marketing.

My first problem with these products is that so many of them are just in bad taste. In fact, as I was surfing around the Web looking for Jesus products my nine-year-old came up behind me and watched for a moment. “Mom,” she said, “those products are in really bad taste.” If a nine-year-old can spot that, who do we think we’re fooling? Years ago my brother-in-law and I caught a relative putting a bumper sticker on her new BMW convertible. The sticker read “My car may be nice, but my real treasure is in Heaven!” We convinced her to remove the sticker, based on the fact that it was a screaming invitation for someone to key her car. I know the intent of the message was good…the things of the world will not last, and we should store our treasures up in Heaven. However, if you look at it from the point of view of someone who is not a Christian it basically reads “My car is better than yours, and I am also holier than you.” Is this the message we really want to be sending? And then there’s the Jesus figures.

Here we have a Jesus sculpture made of plastic that has eyes that “follow” you all around the room. Creepy. I personally would rather memorize a Bible verse (Colossians 2:5 comes to mind: “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit….”) then have a plastic Jesus face sitting on my mantle, following me with vacant eyes. In my opinion, it sends the wrong message…Jesus is watching your every move, like a be-robed Big Brother, probably taking notes on your every sin and just waiting for an opportunity to smite you. And then there’s the “Shock” factor. Here I’m talking about T-shirts, tracts and bumper stickers that seem designed to shock a person into believing. I’m just not sure that works! I have a feeling that in many cases this approach might actually backfire and do more harm than good. Take for example the tracts that were popular not long ago, that look like money on one side. The idea is to leave them scattered on the sidewalk, and an unsuspecting heathen might pick one up thinking he’d hit the jackpot. On the reverse side of the tract is an abbreviated clip of the Good News. But put yourself in the reader’s shoes….is it really good news that what you just picked up won’t buy you a Big Mac after all? I think there’s a good chance that the person holding that phony bill will feel deceived and disappointed…which is not how I want someone to feel when he’s holding something with Scripture written on it. I am also not wild about certain shirts and bumper stickers bearing bloody, grotesque or shocking pictures. I think they are too easily misconstrued and can even be offensive. To a Christian, an image like the one below means one thing….to someone who isn’t a believer, what will it look like? What about to that person’s three year old?

Finally, there’s the fact that some of these products just seem cheaply made and a little ‘wrong’. Middle Child, watching the images of Jesus action figures on the screen, went on to say that she would feel sort of….”Blasphemous”….playing with some of the figures. I’m not sure that it’s blasphemous to play with a Jesus action figure, but really….we’re talking about a God who’s very name is too holy to be spoken. It does make me pause a moment and think about how we are portraying our Lord. Cheap, cheesy plastic just doesn’t seem like a great idea in that light. Why are so many of these products so badly made? If we’re going to market a talking Jesus action figure, could we please at least not make him cross-eyed? If we’re marketing cheap and badly made products, what message does that send? Christians will buy anything, as long as it has Jesus on it? Again, not the message I want to send.

Sorry about the rant...please know that I'm not judging you if you own
some of these
products and I don't claim to have the answers as far as
the best or the "only"
way to share our faith.
I just feel like it's important to make sure what we're buying is sending
the message we want to be sharing!



Gratitude Journal….and Antelope Island

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

We took a picnic to Antelope Island State Park and really enjoyed the time together. The Great Salt Lake is an interesting place, similar to the Dead Sea in the Holy Land. There are great expanses of salt flats, white and faceless as far as the eye can see. There are sandy beaches, scrubby mountains, and buffalo roaming here and there. And bugs…lots and lots of bugs!

I was walking along, thinking about all that salt. My mind wandered to the story of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, I was thinking about Lot’s wife becoming a pillar of salt and wondering…what have I been looking back towards? And then, I looked up and I saw…

A pillar of bugs.

No joke, a pillar of small swarming gnats that stood a good seven feet above my head and followed me wherever I went! And a similar pillar rose above Eldest’s head as well. Yipes! As we fanned above our heads and ran around in circles and darted back and forth in an effort to escape the bugs, I had to laugh at myself. It was like God was reminding me…sometimes salt is just salt. Sometimes, I need to just enjoy the moment and lighten up!

I am grateful for:

206: Moments when I remember that God has a great sense of humor and He loves it when we enjoy His creation…and laugh at ourselves!

207: Breathtaking beauty in things great and small

208: Vistas enjoyed together

209: Time spent together as a family

210: Exploring new places

211: All creatures large…

212: And small

213: For grand and sweeping views

214: And tiny details

215: For moments to stop and think

216: And reminders to enjoy the view

218: And time spent just drinking in Your glory!

Obedience

A Duck and her Ducklings, in a canal in Loughb...Image via Wikipedia

The ducks slipped silently through the water, widening ripples in their wake broke the reflection of sky and trees on the surface of the pond. A mother duck and six ducklings were swimming along by the wooden dock, dabbling in the weeds and chasing after bits of bread the children tossed for them.

Our three tossed bread to each duck, marveling at how the little ducks shot out to catch the bread, dove headfirst into the water to snatch the sinking bits before they were out of reach. Hubby and I stood against the wooden rail, soaking in the sun and watching the children, laughing at the ducks.

I watched the mother duck and her babies carefully for awhile. The babies darted out in all directions after the bread, one or two slipped farther out than the others. The mother dove for bits of bread, but her focus never left the six ducklings. She sat still among the weaving, flapping little family, an anchor that they swam to and from as they played and ate. Every now and then a few ducklings wandered farther out from the group, or all six went a little farther away from their mother than she was comfortable with. A quite little sound from her was all they needed, instantly six little ducklings obediently returned to her side in a tight little feathered knot.

Obedience! Six little ducks, a hundred different directions, and all it took was one warning for them to all fall into line. I’ve seen it before…a line of ducklings following their mother to and fro, never getting out of step. I got me thinking about obedience and how important it is in raising our children. For the mother duck, her children’s obedience means everything. A duckling that fails to heed its mother’s call is one that won’t live long! A gliding hawk, a passing fox, a cold night spent alone…any duckling that strays far from its mother will very likely meet its demise. In the animal world, there are no disobedient children. They obey, or they fail to and die young.

It’s a sobering thought. Are we humans that much different? In past generations, we kept our children under strict obedience. They were expected to respond quickly and obediently to our call, they were taught to be respectful and to respond to the requests of their parents. In much the same way that a wandering duckling is in danger, a child wandering too far from his parents out on the prairie frontier was in imminent danger. In biblical times, a child’s obedience was valued so much that many proverbs were written to remind us of the importance of this matter. Obedience was essential to existence, and disobedience was therefore a serious issue.

What about today? I have the feeling that we have been lulled into a false sense of security. Our children don’t face many of the life-or-death situations that they might have in past generations, and disobedience seems more of an irritant than a serious threat to the well being of our children. We have distractions today to keep our children busy…video games, television, lessons and sports and after school activities. We leave our children to computers, electronics, or other people’s care and when we’re together as a family we let “small” matters of disobedience slide in the interest of family harmony. As a consequence, children are expected to be disobedient today. We tolerate it, we foster it with our actions and our inactions, and we don’t think too much of the consequences. After all, nowadays things are different. Disobedience doesn’t seem as threatening as it did a hundred years ago.

What a pitfall we’ve been led into! The truth is, obedience is just as important now as it was then, and it is just as vital to our children as it is to the ducklings. If we don’t expect our children to be obedient, and if we don’t spend time teaching them the things they will need later in life, we are essentially abandoning them to the foxes and hawks of the world. Chances are good that they will make it through childhood, but if they don’t have the tools they need as a young adult they will fall prey to one disaster or another. Drugs, drunk driving, hanging out with a dangerous crowd, premarital sex, bad grades, financial problems….all pitfalls that our children will face as young adults. They will be faced with choices and situations in life, and the way we train them now will directly influence their behaviour in the future. Either we have done our job and, like the ducklings, our children will know to snap back to safety before it’s too late, or we haven’t… and they won’t.

The next time I run into an obedience issue with my children, I am going to remind myself of the family of ducks. It’s easier to look the other way and let things go, but it’s critical to the well being of my children to make sure they stay in line.

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Whirlwind

It’s been a crazy month, with a lot of ups and downs. We have been thinking about moving to a suburb nearby, which is closer to hubby’s work and our church. We adore our little displaced farmhouse, and the thought of leaving it is so sad…but we spend so many hours in the car that moving makes sense. So when a house came on the market that looked like it would work we decided to try for it! We’ve spent the month packing, fixing things up, looking at the house, praying, debating, and swinging back and forth. It has been an emotional roller coaster, one moment hoping that we’d get the house and move right away, the next moment wondering if we really ought to move at all.

Where are we now?

Still praying. There are a million little points that need to be worked out that don’t seem to be working out in order for us to move, and we are not feeling peace about it at this point. So we’re slowing down, taking a breath, and trusting God to provide for whatever His will is in this.

I’m learning a lot of lessons this month. I’ve learned that I am content where I am and I’ve learned to trust God that our family can be content in a new place, too. I’ve learned that the real estate market is tricky. I’ve been reminded that we are very blessed in our current home and I have been thankful over and over that we are looking to move out of choice, and not necessity.

I don’t know if we’ll be moving or not, but I am glad that we’ve had this crazy month to teach us. And as an added bonus, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clutter, toys, books and clothes that were complicating life. A lot of little things are getting fixed around the house that needed to be fixed anyway, and at the very least we’ll come out of this with a cleaner and more comfortable home then we had when we started!

I will hopefully be posting more now that things seem to be settling down. I’m trying to find new direction in my writing as well, but for now I am just trying to sit down and write something consistently again. I miss it. Thank you for your patience!

A link in the golden chain (a villanelle, a haiku, and an exasperated gasp for free-form thought)


LL of Seedlings in Stone has thrown a very challenging prompt this week! Write a villanelle. A what? A villanelle is an Italian form of poetry that uses a complex and very limiting form and rhyme scheme. The idea is to disprove the notion that writing to a tight form prevents the effectiveness and beauty of a poem, and I’m not at all sure I’ve managed to do that here! I’ll let you click the link above to read about the form. I’m not one who enjoys writing poetry in form (although I sometimes do enjoy reading it), so this did not come gracefully. LL, thanks for the chance to step out of my comfort zone once again!

Here is the villanelle:

patiently

all you created
fell deep into sin
patiently you waited

we couldn’t be sated
with greed we took in
all you created

in sterile hearts jaded
entropy begin
patiently you waited

we mistook and hated
the One light within
all you created

and so desecrated
what good things had been
patiently you waited

in due time reinstated
a saviour..let Him in
all you created
patiently you waited

……….

And along the lines of form poetry (no pun intended), here is a haiku that I wrote years ago. This one was actually published in a small parenting magazine (which has since stopped publishing, so I assume I’m safe to share it again).

Cohesion (a mothering haiku)

Graham crackers and juice
when combined will form a paste
sticker than Elmer’s

………..

And finally, the process of writing the villanelle was so arduous that I felt like capturing the experience with another, free-form poem. Writing under the strict constraints of the villanelle felt like trying to dance Swan Lake wearing slippers made of concrete!

Bound by form

Words turn
to granite blocks
square and smooth
to be pushed, shoved, rolled
arranged and re-arranged
sweat drips from my brow
as I line up square walls
back to the cool grey slab
pushing, pushing

photo: fooling around in the car with the camera. This somehow quelled a need I felt this morning for randomness!

His Hands

A post from the archives....


His Hands…. how many times have you heard these two words together, in reference to God? I remember singing that timeless song as a child…”He’s got the whole world, In His Hands!” Often, when things are hard, I picture myself cradled in God’s hands, protected and safe. Perhaps even more often, I picture my children there. Sometimes when I am praying for someone, I envision them safely protected, nestled in His Hands.

I was curious this morning and did a search for those words in the Bible. What a picture was painted with the verses that contain those words! How loving, how powerful, how creative, how amazing His grace, how protected, how much about God you can learn when you read about His Hands….

Job 5:18
For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

Job 34:19
[the Lord] who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?

Job 36:32
He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 95:5
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 111:7
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

Mark 8:25
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Mark 10:16
And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Luke 4:40
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.

Luke 13:12
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 24:38
He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

Luke 24:50
[ The Ascension ] When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.

John 3:35
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

I am amazed by how much you can learn about God, just by reading about what he does with His Hands. His hands created the universe! His hands are powerful and can strike down nations. His hands made all people and he loves them all equally. All creation is the work of His Hands. His hands are faithful. His hands heal. His hands bless. His hands are marked with the sacrifice he made, for us! We are all safe and loved when we are in His hands.

Knowing the work of His Hands, I can’t avoid taking a look at my own. What do I do with my hands? Do I use them to bless, to heal? To do God’s work? Are they folded idly in rest when they should be at work? Are they raised in anger, or in praise?

If you look up verses that contain his hands in reference to people, you get a much different picture. The contrast says as much about our nature as it does about God’s….raising his hands in anger, falling at his hands, being delivered into the hands of an enemy, prayers in the Psalms that David would avoid falling into the hands of men, righteous people are said to have clean hands, the hands of the fool are idle, Pilot washed his hands of the blood of Jesus, His blood is on our hands. On the other hand (no pun intended), God blesses the work of our hands, we lift our hands in praise, we clap our hands and sing songs to the Lord.

How will you use your hands today?

Lord, I thank you that you have the world in your powerful and gentle hands. Please help me use my hands today with your example always in mind. Help me strive to use my hands as you do…to create, to heal, to bless and protect. I ask that you use me, that you let the work of my hands be a light unto you. Let my hands be raised in praise!


Photo: Taken this morning and edited in Photoshop, a sunflower cradled in Sarah’s hands.

Entertaining Angels

At church one cold evening in December, my husband and I noticed a man sitting in front of us who somehow stood out. He was wearing an expensive ski coat, his salt-and-pepper hair was brushed back, and he stood in a distinguished fashion. As the last worship song played his broad shoulders shook a little. He cried quietly and my heart went out to him.
I’m not an outgoing person, so I struggled. What should I say? How to approach a total stranger? Would God provide words? I fought with myself, thinking, praying. As I did, the man stood up and walked out of the sanctuary. I summoned my courage, reciting what I’d say and do. I planned to get a cup of coffee, hand it to him and strike up a conversation. If he was leaving I wanted him to go knowing that somebody had cared for him.
I nervously poured the coffee, took a deep breath and walked over. At the last moment everything I’d planned to say dissipated, leaving just two words. ”God Bless,” I said and placed the cup in his hands. I looked up at his face, and the assumptions I’d made about him vanished…..
This is a post I wrote for High Calling Blogs…you can read the rest there!

Siblings


Twined….knitted….bound by love. Just thinking today of the blessing of family, of siblings, of growing up together. I love watching my kids work together, love each other, teach one another. There is a sweetness to their relationship that I have no words to describe. Just….blessed.