Saturday, August 30, 2014

Freedom

What does freedom mean to you? What does it look like, sound like, feel like, smell like, taste like? (These questions were a prompt during a conference call with an online group I was in) 

To me freedom means the ability to be myself without fearing what others will think. It means having time to pursue writing, photography and other interests, and being free to practice my faith without government interference. 

Sometimes I feel very free. When I am on the porch swing or walking barefoot in the grass I take time to listen, to observe, and immerse myself in the beauty of creation. For a time I'm able to forget about all the work waiting for me. The tension seems to drop away if only for a few minutes.



(Photo by Gayl Wright)


FREEDOM


Freedom looks like the wide open sky
seemingly endless


Freedom sounds like a mighty rushing waterfall
constantly moving


Freedom feels like a cool evening breeze
gently blowing


Freedom smells like clean clothes right off the line
exhaling sunshine


Freedom tastes like the salty ocean spray
splashing my face


Freedom may not always be sweet
Sometimes it's rather sour
with many hardships to overcome


But


Freedom is worth it



(Photo by Gayl Wright)

My prayer is for all of us to be free from the shackles and bonds that keep us from God. 


May He grant us: 


  • freedom from self-righteousness or self degradation that comes from comparing ourselves with others,
  • freedom from prejudices that cause distrust and hate, 
  • freedom from pressure to conform or perform,
  • freedom to fail and learn from our mistakes, 
  • freedom to pursue God and follow where He leads even if others don't understand, 
  • freedom to love others with the love He gives us,
  • freedom to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors.



He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly, To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8 NKJB)



May God give us grace and enable all of us to live our lives in this way.


I am linking up with Lisha Epperson's series on Give Me Grace. Please take time to follow the link and read some inspiring posts written by others.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Reach

It's time for Five Minute Friday where many of us set a timer and take five minutes to write without worrying about editing or getting it just right. We link up with others and make sure to comment on the person linked before you.  Today the prompt is "Reach."



Go:

It seems we are always reaching for something. Sometimes what we want or think we want is just out of our reach. So we work harder and harder and try again only to find it is still out of our reach. Maybe, just maybe, the thing we are reaching for is not what we are supposed to have.

What if we are trying to be like someone else because we think we should follow their lead? What if God has a different path for us to follow rather than be like everyone else.

Maybe we should stop and think and see if what we are reaching for is actually in line with our dreams, the ones God has given us. I am trying to do that. I am trying to be who I was meant to be and sometimes it can be hard, but mostly it's challenging and exciting to discover ways I can use what He has given me. I'm able to encourage others and bring glory to God when I am being myself rather than copying someone else.

But there is another kind of reaching, that of reaching out to loved ones for hugs. One of the things I love best in life is to see the little arms of my grandchildren reaching out to give me a hug! And of course hugs from all my children and my husband are always welcome and always special.

Stop



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Blessing for the Night



Sleep, my child
Be at peace
God is watching
protecting, loving

Draw near to Him
Let yourself relax
Close your eyes
and sleep

Tomorrow will come
a brand new day
Fill it with love
joy and gratitude

Be a light to
those around you
Delight in beauty,
the ordinary of each day

Be a comfort to others
Let your spirit be at rest
Be a calming presence
in the storms of life

Love God
Love others
Love yourself
This is your calling

Sleep, my child
Be at peace
God is watching
protecting
loving

Draw near to Him
Let yourself relax
Close your eyes
and
sleep

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One of My Dreams

This week for Real Talk Tuesday Marvia gave some questions to ponder: "What is the deepest whisper stirring in your soul? What is calling you to dream again?" As I pondered the questions I realized that I had lots of dreams, one of which is to make a children's book using some of my nature photos and some haiku that I wrote to go along with them. I was thinking maybe board books would be good. So, today for Real Talk Tuesday I will show you some previews of the project.





The format is not definite yet. I might put the photos on one page and have the haiku on the next page opposite the picture. Another idea is to put the poem under the picture on each page like this tree below.


Tall, stately she stands,

Branches like arms full of leaves,

Pointing to the sky.

Now you've seen my ideas. What is your vote?  Which style do you like best? Feel free to leave suggestions for me in the comments section. I'm excited about possibilities and having fun in the process.

What about you? Do you have any dreams deep inside you waiting to come out? What is holding you back? There is room for everyone so let's all take time to pursue some dreams!  Join us at:

 
                           
                              

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Muse, My God, My Dreams

Nature is my muse
Wild as lightning bolts
Noisy as thunderclaps
Gentle as softly falling rain
Caressing purple violets
Leaving tiny droplets
Sparkling in the sun

Chasing my wild muse
Hard as uphill climbs
Heading into the woods
Capturing oddities with lens
Simple as walks in sunshine
Absorbing the beauty
Thrilling my senses


God who formed my muse
Wild and wonderful
Unrivaled in strength and grace
Tender, full of mercy
Caring for the weak
Maker of beauty
Creating shapes and textures
Colors and tints galore
All for us to see

Chasing my wild God
A lifetime mission
Communing with Him daily
Asking the hard questions
Reading my Bible
Falling on my knees
Pleading for answers and help
Delighting in beauty
Thanking Him for life


God gave me my dreams
Wild, incredible
Dreams of photography
Published poems and children's stories
My home as an oasis
Where weary souls may come
Seeking peace and rest

Chasing my wild dreams
Working, creating
Writing, photographing
Interweaving words and pictures
Turning sod, clearing clutter
Forming lovely gardens
Making cozy nooks


Friday, August 22, 2014

So Many Locks

(I'm bringing this from the archives to add to Letetia Mullenix's Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday linkup because I think it goes somewhat with the theme of her post.)


(photo prompt from a story sessions write in)
So many locks
large ones, small ones,
some rusty.
A scarlet ribbon
tied around a blue lock
weaving through the wires
fastens at the other end to what?

What do they mean?
They don't seem to be
doing much,
just hooked onto what
looks like a bed spring.

Could they be locks
symbolizing doors
to my heart
waiting for the keys
to open each part?

My heart is deep,
many layered.
Could the band
threaded here and there
prove there is no way in,
circling round and round?
Is it so deep that no one can see?

No! Keys are found.
Locks will open to
reveal each
layer until the
last one is in reach.

The final key
thrust into the lock,
frees thoughts, dreams
once hidden away.
"It's too soon!" I scream.

But my voice fades.
My knees are weak.
Who will come
catch me as I fall?
Jesus Christ, my Saviour.
He's the only one
I can always trust to hold me up.


This poem was written in response to the above photo which was used as a prompt in a write in with Story Sessions earlier this month. I have since spent time revising it so this is my final version. (I think)



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dream-weaver




I wrote this poem as part of an online group that is not longer around. The prompt was the word "dream-weaver." Later I painted a background using acrylics, and then printed the words on two different colored card stock papers. I couldn't decide which one to use so I decided to blend them. Then as an afterthought I put glitter on the page. Hope you enjoy it! It was a lot of fun to create.

Monday, August 18, 2014

God Gives So Much Grace

Today I am joining with my friend Juliet who is starting a series on Psalm 119 taking a section each week to reflect upon. She invites others to do the same and share their comments. Her post can be found HERE.

Aleph
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, Who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart - 
they do no wrong but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees, do not utterly forsake me.
(Psalm 119:1-8)

What does it mean here to be blameless? Another word for blameless is guiltless. None of us can perfectly walk according to God's law, and I know I don't always seek him with all my heart. I also know that I do not obey his decrees perfectly, and I certainly am not sinless. How can I possibly fully obey his precepts? Can I even be considered one of the blameless ones?

I believe that I am covered by the blood of Jesus because of his sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection from the dead. He has taken my guilt away, and made me righteous in him. So in that light all those who look to him and confess their sins are in a way, blameless. He gave us his commands knowing that we would not be able to perfectly obey them, but he didn't leave us on our own. In the second part of I John 2:1, it says, "But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." We are weak and God knows this. We are maybe a little like what is left of this dandelion ready to explode at the slightest wind, scattering it's seeds wherever they will go.

(photography by Gayl Wright)
God gives so much grace. Sometimes we forget to ask him and muddle through as best we can in our own strength. We forget that He is strong and is always with us even if it seems we are alone. In I Corinthians Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh, and like Paul we all have weaknesses. We need to remember what God said to him about that as recorded in I Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Like the psalmist my heart's cry is, "Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands." I know that I fall short and it can be discouraging, but then he says, "I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." I think the key here is in the phrase "as I learn your righteous laws." As we learn more of God's laws and get to know him better, we see his love and we desire to love him more and to follow his commands even though we know we will mess up at times. Look what it says in Psalm 103:10-12:

(photography by Gayl Wright)
The last line of the Psalm 119 passage says, "I will obey your decrees, do not utterly forsake me." It seems that the psalmist's desire is to obey, but he also realizes that it is not possible to do it perfectly. I believe he is asking God to look upon him with mercy and grace, knowing that he needs God's help to follow through. I know I do.  I need to remember to ask Him for grace every single day, knowing that He will help me in my daily struggles. As I think about these times we are living in I realize we all need God's grace in abundance in order to learn to live in peace and harmony with all people.

What about you? What comes to mind as you ponder these verses? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I'm also linking up with Lisha Epperson and her Give Me Grace series.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Tell

The first thing that came to my mind when I thought of the word “tell” was this refrain from one of the many hymns written by Fannie Crosby:

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.


It seems we need more than ever to tell others the story of Jesus, the One who came from God, who left His throne and gave up His glory for a time to live in poverty on this earth. He died so that we could have life. His was the only perfect life so He is the only one who could have made that perfect sacrifice.


But that's not where the story ends. He is alive and He is still caring for us, loving us, interceding for us with the Father. He is our way to the Father.


Sometimes, though, we Christians need to be reminded of the story. We need to tell it to ourselves over and over and remember what He did and is doing for us. We need to tell ourselves about his love and then show that love to others.


Five Minute Friday - 4

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thoughts on Being

Linking up again with Marvia Davidson's Real Talk Tuesday where we are exploring what it means to “be.”


The word “be” can mean to exist, but is existing what it really means for me to “be?” Isn't there more to life than just existence? What about being alive to who I really am and how I relate to my surroundings and to other people? Who am I in God's sight? Who is He calling me to be?

I could go about my day doing everything as a matter of routine without noticing anything around me, and it would be a very dull existence. Sure, my work would get done, but would I feel fulfilled? When I do my work because I know I have to there is very little meaning or fulfillment in it, and I am not a very happy person.

I could go about my day noticing all the things that are wrong and start complaining about them. That accomplishes nothing but put me in a bad mood along with anyone else who is near me. There have been days I have done this, and it has caused a lot of stress. I might try to think of some solutions, but many times I find myself feeling overwhelmed thinking nothing will ever change. When this happens I am also not a happy person, and it doesn't help the morale of anyone living in the house.

Or I could begin the day thanking God for giving me life, another day to live for Him. If I could go about my day looking for the beauty in the small things, the ordinary things, even in the seemingly ugly and messy, I would easily relieve some stress and have a better attitude about the things waiting to be done. When I live this way even the tasks that are not necessarily fun can bring me joy.

Here's an example from just this week. I was really tired Sunday morning from such a busy week so I chose to say home and have some “alone” time. I noticed that my kitchen counters were very stained and just looked awful. Usually I don't do that kind of work on Sundays, but this time I felt it was needed, so I spent time working on them doing my best to make them nice. I actually enjoyed doing it and I believe it was an act of worship because I knew the result would boost morale for the whole household and it drew me into giving praise to God.

 After the time spent cleaning in the kitchen that morning, I spent the rest of my day relaxing, reading some Scripture, and creating art. I had been feeling overwhelmed with all the activity of the past week and knew there were still plenty of things that would need attention. I remembered that we were created not only to work, but to rest. So I wrote this little poem helping me to remember to let go of all the worries and cares and just rest in Christ.

In God's sight I am a beloved daughter created to bring glory to Him ultimately, but also to enjoy His creation and my life. I believe God has called me to be a writer, an artist, one who takes time to notice the beauty in every day, and to encourage others in whatever way I can. I won't do all of it perfectly, and that's okay because I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to strive to be someone I am not. I only have to be myself, imperfections and all, because God takes all of me and makes beauty as only He can.

This is the kind of "being" I want for my life. 
I don't want to just exist. I want to be fully alive!

real talk tuesday mdavidson button


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rest, My Child

(photography by Gayl Wright)
Rest, my child
Let your worries cease
I am with you.

Rest, my child
Seek peace for today
I am with you.

Rest, my child
Wander no longer
I am with you.

Rest, my child
You'll find safety here
I am with you.
                                                              ~Gayl Wright



The Lord bless you and keep you;
 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you,
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 
(Numbers 6:24-26)



I'm linking up with Lisha Epperson's #GiveMeGrace weekly link up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Exciting News

It is my pleasure to participate in the gorgeous cover reveal of Elora Ramirez’s Somewhere Between Water and Sky!!  Isn't it amazing? 


Title: Somewhere Between Water and Sky

Author: Elora Ramirez
Release Date: September 18th
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations





About Somewhere Between Water and Sky
I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
But stories, with all their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
This is how I dare to move forward and to believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Waiting leaves room for the voices.
Somewhere between water and sky, I'll find a way to burn these voices to the ground.

Add on Goodreads


Exclusive Excerpt:
I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.
If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.
Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.
And every single one of my tears could fill a book.
I watch the people sitting around me on the bus. The single mother with two rowdy toddlers, the older couple on vacation with cameras strapped to their necks, the boy rapping beats under his breath and writing in a journal—all of them breathe into this poetry of life.
Normally, I’d want to know their stories. I’d wait for hints of who they were inside, the poetic shifts that make us human. Now I just watch.
The boy rapping pauses with his hand in mid air and thinks for a minute. Breaking into a smile, he nods vigorously and lowers his hand to his paper. I frown. I used to have a piece of that poetry inside. It’s just all a little broken now. I don’t know how to fix the one thing that used to put me back together. The poems still come; I just don’t know what to do with them anymore. If I’m feeling particularly brave, I’ll attempt to scratch them into a journal.
Usually, I just write them with my finger on my jeans. No one needs to read them anyway. Besides, I can’t hold on to them for very long. The silence is on fire and the sentences and scenes that used to extinguish those flames do nothing but fan it hotter and brighter. I’m a new person here—no one knows anything about me. All of my journals are in various trash cans around the city. I fill one up and then throw it away, shedding the skin and finding someone new underneath every single time.
This is how I dare to move forward and believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don’t wait around anymore. I can’t.
Like clockwork
the words disappear at dusk
empty cans filled up
like dust.
Rapper boy looks back up and catches me watching him and then offers a shy smile. My fingers pause their lines and curl in to the protection of my hand. I flip my lips upward into a quick grin and then look away before he can strike up a conversation.
I don’t want to know his story.
Stories, with all of their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don’t have room for that anymore. I left it all—the hope, the love, the promise—back in my old life with the ghosts I’d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.
Kevin.
Something like grief catches in my throat and a small burst of air escapes through my parted lips.
I miss him. I miss him and I can’t miss him. If I give into these feelings…this emptiness…I shake my head and wipe the stray tear on my cheek.
This is ridiculous.
Reaching into my bag, I pull out my phone. One missed call shows itself on the screen and I frown. No one has my number. I swipe the screen open and scroll through until I notice UNKNOWN NUMBER in red font.
Red like blood.
I shudder.
After the life I’ve lived, I’m nothing if not over-dramatic. It’s whatever. I feel I’ve earned it.
With a few more quick swipes, I delete the notification and sigh the misgiving away. There’s no voicemail, and so there’s nothing to worry about yet.
No harm, no foul. No one knows your number. No one knows your number.
I’ve learned different but I’m choosing another way of living. I repeat these phrases in my head, tapping the rhythm of the words on my knee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

About the Author: Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Seuss and writing anywhere she could find the space--including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she's grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She embraces the power of story and teaches women from all parts of the world how to embrace theirs. She has a knack of calling things out , the truth and the detail, the subversive threads that make a life a story. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, music, and her husband's lavender liqueur. 





I'm very excited to be able to participate in this cover reveal for Elora's new book! This is a sequel to her book Every Shattered Thing. If you have not read it you still have time before this new one comes out on September 18th.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My First Puppy

Today for 40 Days of Blogging, the prompt is to write a true story of a good memory from childhood. The prompt for Real Talk Tuesday is: "Why the story matters."

I believe the story of my first puppy matters because it shows that God cares even down to a child's longing for a pet. It is also a story of how I had to deal with the death of that puppy and is a part of growing up. I had wanted a puppy but I'm not sure my parents had money to put out to purchase a pet. One of my best friends who lived in my neighborhood had some puppies to give away. She brought them all to my house and one little one just came to me and melted my heart. Well, my parents consented and I had my dog, even though he had to stay outside. My dad gave me lots of ideas for a name including the name Lancelot. For some reason we settled on the name Leroy. I really have no idea where he came up with that name at the time, because it was unfamiliar to me as a child. Here is Leroy's story in poetry form:

My first puppy at age nine,
was very dear you see.
Of all the puppies there in line,
he ran straight to me.

By my side he would stay,

that mutt so cute and brown.
And when my brothers, rough would play,
my pup would knock them down.

Walking to the library

one day with my class,
Imagine my surprise to see
him sitting in the grass.

My classmates were enthralled.

A dog had come to school!
Digging under the fence he'd crawled,
using his paws as tools.

How did he find his way
along that common mile?
He somehow knew just where to go
and how to make me smile.


I don't remember how many years I had that puppy, but one morning he was not acting himself and we realized he was sick. My dad told me it was distemper which was like pneumonia for a dog. I think he may have talked to a vet, but I am not sure. Anyway, Leroy did not get better and had to be put to sleep.

I remember the trip to the vet to say goodbye. He rode on my lap in the car, and I'm sure I was crying. My dad was very sympathetic and understood how I felt. He said afterwards that he wished we had let him in the house that night since it was so very cold. He was a short haired dog and probably couldn't handle it. He was in a sheltered storage area, but it was not heated. We lived in Florida, and I think the extreme cold that night might have come as a surprise.  

Anyway, that's the story as I remember it. I choose to remember the fun times I had with my very own dog. He really loved me, too, as he always wanted to be with me. My brothers must have been 6 and 3 at the time, and the dog really would jump and growl at them if they pretended to hit me. He was determined to protect me.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Unexpected Treasures


Walking on the beach one day
with camera in my hand,
we saw some mushrooms growing
on a stick across the sand.






Walking further on our way
our bare feet on the sand
We saw a small pink flower
on a vine along the strand.







We stopped to take some photos
in order to remember
the unexpected treasures
that made us want to linger.







On Day 31 of our 40 Days of Blogging, a collective of the online writing community known as Story Sessions, the prompt was: "I did not expect to find..."  It was suggested that we "write about an unexpected adventure resulting from your curiosity and need to explore."  Earlier this year Steve and I spent a week in Florida where we found these unexpected treasures.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Home

In my 40 Days of Blogging collective we have been given prompts for blog posts, but I have gotten a little behind. Today I'm choosing prompt number 28 - "Gratitude for the home." The prompt is to write a love letter or an ode to your home.





Near the Carolina foothills
Stands a house made out of logs.
Front porch views bring on chills.
Back brings forest scenes.

In spring of 1998,
Our family brought our goods
Into this lovely house,
Fragrant like the woods.

It's been my home these fifteen years
Holding memories so tight,
of laughter, and of tears.
What if walls could speak?

Sharing our home with friends in need.
Welcoming foreign students,
Celebrating birthdays,
giving compliments.

Toasty warm from wood stove heating
Shelter from the cold and rain.
Playing games and eating,
Happy times with friends.