Writing Journal – Poetry

As you know, I teach a writing class with three wonderful girls – sisters.  I call them my Bronte sisters. They come up to me each Sunday after church to say hi, pass me sweet little gifts – last week it was a crow!!! – and hand me their latest work or a new book.  We chat for a few minutes and I tuck their treasures away to be explored later.  The middle sister is the non-writer.  We call her the Muse.  She reads her sisters’ stories and then makes suggestions on changes, development, and names.  The Muse also dabbles in poetry.  For the first time, she passed her poetry on to me.sisters-5x71

I’m very pleased that I have gained the girls’ trust.  Only the oldest had shared her work with me so far.  Now the other two have passed me their work.  I try to be honest, but gentle.  This is their souls opening up to someone they don’t know very well.  I try to tread carefully.  I also share the bad news with them.  (You can’t just re-write Twilight with new names.  No one cares about this character or these 100 pages.  People can’t do that.  This is totally silly.  Oh good, they’re in love – anything else happening?)    Man.  Being honest is hard sometimes.  I want to pat their heads and tell them they’re amazing.  But….sometimes they aren’t.  And trying to find the diamond in the rough or just telling them to cut huge sections of the story is hard but necessary.  No one learns by being spoiled and pampered.

Now I have the Muse’s poems.  She is pretty young.  She is pretty inexperienced when it comes to the world, but she’s trying.  The poems are stagnant.  Simple.  Unmoving.  The focus is rhyming the end of each sentence not capturing human emotion.  What do I do???  I’ve been asking myself that for hours.  How do I help my Muse write poems?  Well, first I write.  I write this blog post.  Writing helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings.  It helps me more than just sitting and thinking.  It keeps me focused.  Sitting and thinking usually leads to daydreaming.

Writing-PoetryThe first thing I realize is that I need to re-read her poems and look for the moments where she does capture the essence of humanity.  I will then use these moments as a spring-board to encourage her to develop them further.  I’m also going to encourage her to broaden her vocabulary so that it’s not just rhyming the word me and see.  Last, I’m going to point her to write what she knows.  I read a great article about this the other day – here!  I think this is the direction I need to point her.  I think I’m going to suggest she write about wanting to find love, the challenge of having two sisters who write, and other such things.  I want to get her to express herself and not just what she thinks her parents want to hear.

Wow.  That helped a lot.  I have a much clearer idea of where to take her poetry.

Isn’t writing fun???!!!

Do you read poetry?  Who are some of your favorite poets?

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Thanksgiving 8

Today I’m thankful for the joys of home.  Having a quiet home, where two people love and respect one another takes a lot of work.  It’s far easier to just be selfish and self focused, but the results of working at your marriage are much better.  I’m thankful that the Lord has never left me to my own ends but gently, firmly and consistently battles my sin.  So, as we work around our first fall fire, I’m thankful for my home.

Sunday Thoughts – The Last Christmas Without You

10.20.13: Something that had been in my mind all week:

“When darkness was shattered,

The dawn of God’s grace,

And the Journey’d begun

To the first Easter Day.”

 – The Last Christmas Without You by Sixpence none the Richer

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Yes, I tend to be the kind of person who cries easily.  I’m empathic, sentimental, and nostalgic.  I easily sense the emotion of the situation and react emotionally.  You should just know that up front.

The song “The Last Christmas Without You” is about a woman who is about to celebrate her last Christmas alone before her child is born.  As she expresses how excited she is she thinks of Mary on the way to Bethlehem about to have her first child.

I love this song.  I love the concept of the Last Christmas you celebrate before your child is born.  It’s a natural sentiment and creates a beautiful Christmas song.  It is soft, sweet, and filled with excited longing – much like Christmas itself.

But.  But then there is this line in the middle of the song that just horrified me.  The modern pregnant woman is thinking about Mary, thinking of her holding her son and her Savior in her arms and speaking of it as “the journey’d begun to the first Easter Day”.  That made a sick dread fill me.  Can you imagine raising a son and then watching him die crucified on a Roman cross?  Mary did.  She was there.  From Gabriel’s visit to her son’s resurrection, Mary was there.  She clung to hope and truth and salvation, but before Easter could come there had to be a violent death.  And Mary watched it.  This is the equivalent of singing a happy loving song about your new baby and including a line about them journeying to the time they fall prey to a murderer.  It’s totally gruesome in this context. But it’s more than that because Mary was holding her son who we all knew was going to die a tortured death.  It’s flippant.

Don’t let the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary steal from you that she was a girl like any other girl who trusted the Lord, a wife, a mother, and that she watched her son be crucified for her sins and ours.  Don’t lose the emotion of what she endured.  We tend to see her, even as Protestants, with a halo over her head, forever calm and holy.  She was a woman just like the rest of us seeking to submit and trust the Lord.  And what the Lord required of her was to bear Christ, be his mother, let him go, and then watch him die.  Dear women who have lost children of your own, look to the example of Mary to encourage you to continue trusting in the Lord.  She didn’t have the Word, Systematic Theology, or the Established Church.  She lived at a time of unbelievable change when all the shadows were done away with and the light came.  And she trusted the Lord.

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 ESV)

Don’t let the fun of Christmas and silliness of Easter steal from you the fact that God came to us offering peace (just dwell on that idea for a moment) and the blood that had to be shed to accomplish that peace.  Do you see how far removed we are in our culture from where these holiday’s started even as Christians?  Do you see how disrespectful the phrase ” the journey’d begun to the first Easter Day” is?  Do you see how it disregards what Christ suffered for us?  Before we can celebrate Easter, Christ had to endure a tortured death.  Never forget that.  Never ever pretend that didn’t happen.  Never be glib about the price salvation required.  Your sin, my sin required the blood of God to be wash away.  Justice still had to be served in the midst of mercy.  Christ paid justice’s price.  And not so we could have Easter!  But to bring peace between God and us.  Don’t lose that!  Don’t let fun and good holidays steal that from you.  Keep them where they belong, and remember what was required to remove the stain of sin from you.

Now….go back to listening to Christmas songs. 🙂  I think our Pastors are rubbing off on me.  So I’d like to point out that I still like this song, I just think it’s a bit odd and if you think about it too much like I probably have, it’s a bit creepy.

Quote of the Weekend

“What child unable to sleep on a warm summer night hasn’t thought he saw Peter Pan’s sailing ship in the sky? I will teach you to see that ship.”

– Robert Cotroneo, When a Child on a Summer Morning

(I found this quote in Ink Heart.  She had beautiful quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  I have always had a fascination with Peter Pan that grew out of the movie Hook.  There were many times as a child that I felt like childhood was slipping away from me and I still had so much more that I wanted to do – like have a horse or go on an adventure.  This is what happens when you let your kids read.;-) )

Thanksgiving Post 6

I am thankful for the wise older women God has put in my life.  I thankful for the ones I’m just now getting to know, the ones who only have time to send me a quick text now and again but still do it, and the ones who have been there for me through thick and thin, years and years even when I didn’t want them to be there with wisdom.  I have laughed, cried, been mischievous, grown, been challenged, talked off the roof, had my marriage protected when I was too stupid or angry or selfish to protect it, loved when I was unlovable, supported, encouraged and understood by these women in more ways than I can count.  Young lady?  Never think that you can make it without a wise older women, or several, to help you.

Specifically, I would like to express my heartfelt thankfulness for these six women:

My Mom: She has stood by me my whole life.  She has gently taken my hand and guided me away from danger both physically and spiritually time after time.  She doesn’t hold back when I need to be told I’m doing something wrong, but she always listens and very gently points me back at the Scripture.  She knows me inside and out, and treats me more like a dear friend than the crazy kid I sometimes feel like.  ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall, I am my Mother after All’ is one of the highest compliments I could be paid.  I know no other woman of such grace, gentle strength, quiet heart, and diligent To Do List.  I have sat long at her feet learning both the truth of the hardships of life and sin, and also the glories and mercies of Christ.  I have learned how to order my home, love my husband, and welcome the stranger in from listening and watching her.  Also, Mom taught me to read – there are few gifts a parent can give like the gift of reading.  I’m thankful I’ve had her as my wise older woman since I was born.

Deanna Brown: It just so happened that God laid it on Deanna’s heart to escape her children once in a while.  It just so happened that someone suggested me as the babysitter so she could plan her escape.  Our friendship had flourished since that day.  Deanna, like my Mom, was a wonderful wise older woman because she listened and then often told me what I needed to hear without ever making me feel like a weirdo.  She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear, she tells me what I need to hear.  Deanna has over the years gone from being my “older woman” to being one of my dearest friends.  She is the truest supporter of my writing.  She sees my heart inside my stories in ways I don’t even see it sometimes.  She has made time for me when her own life was literally falling apart, and let me in on that pain when she could.  She has let me see her struggle and through that I have learned even more deeply the beauty of that struggle.  I am thankful for Deanna in more ways than words can express.

Wanda Jones:  It’s not every woman who gets a great Mother-in-Law.  It’s not every woman who gets a friend when she gets married.  I got both.  When you think of your friends and you quantify them by how much time you spend talking with them and hanging out with them, then my MIL is like in my top five.  She is wise, open, funny, helpful, and married to a Jones!  She has been there for me when she didn’t even know I needed her to be.  She has supported every decision we have made even when she didn’t agree with us.  She welcomes me into her home at any hour and tackles any question I have from cooking to plants to organization.  She is filled with very down to earth, Southern, practical knowledge.  Plus we both cry at Hallmark commercials.  I love my mother-in-law so much! Life wouldn’t be half the adventure it has been without her.

Deanell Smith:  Deanell and I like to joke that I’m her extra daughter.  First off, because it turns heads and makes people awkwardly stop and do a double take, but also cause this is our heart.  Deanell is my go to person for a hug.  (A trait her oldest daughter also shares that I miss.) She is always ready with open, loving arms and a welcoming word.  Deanell and I have never been able to take the time together that we want, but she has supported me when I was a fledgling and crazy Mary Kay consultant.  She did modeling work for my boutique, and she texts me big long text, that I love, checking up on me and my family.  She also has the most awesome hats.

Denise Wilkinson:  Denise is probably the newest addition to my Wisdom Team.  (Their like the Avengers but more subtle with their super powers and prone to injuring themselves without any aliens involved.)  She has gone through the steps of widowhood recently.  In my fumbling attempt to express my sorrow and love to her, I found myself being encouraged and uplifted by her.  Since then God has given me several opportunities to work with her and I found a kindred spirit in the beauties of hosting, a well set table, good food, and fellowship.  I look forward to many years of sitting at her feet and learning from her.

Kathy Butler:  Years ago, Kathy sat down and taught me to play the piano.  While my out-of-habit-fingers can barely play my favorite songs anymore, what I came away with was more important than piano playing.  From Kathy I had reinforced all the things my Mother taught me.  From a love of the country, to the amazement of adventure, to the beauty of music, and the beauty of hard work, God used Kathy to let me see that my parents weren’t crazy.  I learned that what they were teaching me was beautiful to watch.  Kathy has been a wise older woman to me from afar.  I don’t often get to sit and be with her, but I watched her as she struggled through the death of her husband, her new marriage, her children growing up, grand kids, and more.  She personifies in my mind the concept of a gentle and quiet spirit.  For that I will be forever thankful.  This is one of the benefits of Facebook.  Some people call it stalking, I call it learning from others. 🙂

There are so many more women who have come along side me, even in my church alone:  Bobbie Shaw, Amy Shaw, Brenda Richardson, Jan Gagliardi, Glyn Vasquez, Flo Woods, Jean Wilkinson, Laura McDaniels, Kim Moelling, Michelle Hodson, Jeanette Cason, Liz Kidd, Joy Hiller, Susan Tittle, Patricia Atterholt, Amy Dawn Downs, Jean King, Jeni Del Rio, and Maria DiMarco.  In my life, God brought Myrtle Fox, Mia, my Aunt Becky, Auntie Laurie, Aunt Debbie, Aunt Jenny, and Aunt Claudia, Tracy Gamboa and Lisa Dickinson, Lydia Muniz, Linda Marley, Abby Bundick, Susan Howe, Debi Blackburn, Randie Garrick, Gail Donell, Ann McCormick, and Pat Curley, my Grandmothers: Doris, Rena, Lou, Winnie, and Caroline.   So many women who impacted me in ways both big and small.  I’m thankful that the Lord so generously provided such kind and gentle hands to guide me over the years.

(I now have this overwhelming fear that I’ve forgotten someone very important.  If you are that important woman, my humblest apologies!)

Hold!

Me, a vile wretched monster, murderer, liar, mischievous manipulator filled with pride,  stands before God, holy, good, loving, just, and filled with humility.

“Who will stand with you?” Holy God said.

I hang my head.  Who would stand with as gross a monster as I?

“Your judgment for your sin – ”

“Hold!”

I cannot breathe.  Who holds the just judgment for me?

“I have paid in blood for this one’s soul.  She belongs to me.”

Behold my Brother, My Captain, my King stands shoulder to shoulder with me, his wounds did bleed to set me free.  He takes his cloak and flings it over me, making me clean.

“Qualified and accepted,” said God, holding His hand and not his Rod of Judgment out to me.

Who will stand by you in the day of Judgment?

(Inspired by  Larry Vincent’s Resurrection Day Sermon)

(When you measure yourself by the standard of a righteous God instead of by the standards of your fellow man, you find you have nothing to bring to qualify you for salvation.  It is an act of pure, undeserved grace to find yourself saved.  Nothing you have done or will do will ever qualify you for salvation – that’s grace.)

Thanksgiving 5

Today I’m thankful for our pastors.  They are our shepherds here on earth and the defenders of our souls.  I’m thankful that the Lord has blessed our church with faithful men who search the scriptures and then make it understandable for us.  I’m thankful and humbled by their willing sacrifice to give up on so much in life to serve us.  I’m thankful to the Lord for our pastors.