The doe, low, on her side in the straw. Her whole body given over to breathing. Breathing. Breathing. To stretching, bleeding. To waves of pain, while the sparrow finds scattered grain to bring her young. Her head bows, like Mary, as the breath of God quakes her womb.
The way of pain is how we're born. All of us. Like the young doe, like Eve, like Mary, like Jesus, wave after wave, we pant and quake a prayer, "Be it to me as you say, Lord."
Death lurks and lingers, breathing threats like an evil emperor, ready to steal God's breath right of the newborn's chest. But, alas a midwife sits, even the unseen angels, attending, to usher life past death even past a stony grave.
The doe's sweet calls assure the helpless victor she bore. She baths him with kisses and a song to stand and walk. She bleeds and stands weak, emboldened to feed her young. Christ stood up and surely Eve and all of heaven's angels stood to their feet at Mary's Magnificat, her sweet Magnificat song.
I think I inherited my mom’s tendency toward rearranging things.
Growing up, I’d come home from school to a practically new house every week as my mom, inspired by something she found at a garage sale, would rearrange and redecorate the living room with what she had.
Today I gave my blog a new look and new name: Cultivating Faithfulness- a planted life | learning to love. The title sums up the theme of notes I’ve been writing down for months.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this book that wants me to write it over the past year or so. My phone and bullet journal are full of thoughts scribbled down.
A couple weeks ago I started editing old poems, writing new ones and compiling them into a book. I pray it will give hope to someone who loves someone they long to say, “Come magnify the Lord with me,” to, and not hear, “No thanks,” in response from.
Today I began working on a monthly newsletter that should go out this month. Hopefully by Easter. I want a place to curate poems, quotes, songs, stories, scripture, photos, resources and thoughts that help the Christian be inspired, encouraged and thoughtful in cultivating a life of faithfulness wherever they are.
Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely.”Psalm 37:3 CSB
Oh Ireland, I am your daughter
Generations removed but not the wonder
Drawn to your lore and mystery
I’ve dreamed of you across the sea.
I am a mut, a mix of kin
Grown up in Poor Town, Oregon
My father’s chin, red beard covered,
Reminds me of a special clover
I walked along a mossy path
In Oregon’s green wilderness
My broken heart longed for another
That’s when I saw God’s love in clover
Oh Ireland, your hills are green
Your son, Patrick, helped me believe
When once I saw that sign of love
I prayed, “Oh Lord, bless Ireland”
You love me, Lord
I saw that day
A sure sign
None can take away
For there amidst green hearts of clover
A blood red heart made me to wonder
I saw his determined face on every screen, today. I wonder if I have a clue. I'm far removed from dark scars on backs, and Souls that bellowed gospel songs in groans. I have no idea how it feels to be beaten for drinking from the "whites only" fountain. I know nothing of shame for a look on my pale face that caused a black man to be blamed. I don't know, what I don't know... but I'm listening. I hear his dream I feel Freedom rattling the chains of my soul Justice calls deep springs to gush forth and I find myself aching for the Day of Peace.
I spent the morning thinking about what I value. I asked myself what the why is behind what I write. I came to the conclusion that I value peace in relationships, overcoming conflict and trouble and helping others overcome conflict and trouble.
I value honoring the Imago Dei in people and the truth that Christ’s redemptive work means nothing is wasted or vain in the Christian’s life.
I care about learning from history and nature and gaining wisdom from the Bible and forefathers and sharing that wisdom with others.
I treasure telling kids about Jesus.
I care about seeking wholeness for myself and others. Being productive is important to me as well as resting. I’m an easily-fatigued, low-energy person, but I value doing something that makes a difference for good in my life and the lives of those around me.
As I’ve thought through these ideas and truths I care about, I hope to use them to guide my writing in 2022.
Looking back over what I’ve written and published, either by blog or another web magazine, in 2021. In 2021 I wrote 20 published pieces. Seventeen of them on my blog. Three online magazines. The purpose of this review was to inventory what I enjoyed most, what the impact was, and what themes I wrote on.
I have a hard time naming the themes in my writings. Most of my posts are personal reflections or thoughts on something I’m troubled by or have been helped by. Two of my posts were book reviews. About a quarter of the blog posts are poems. But three-quarters of my blog is an attempt to persuade others to think differently on a certain subject I see popping up on social media, or to think about God or the hope of Jesus in hard times, or something I”m learning in life or marriage or parenting.
What’s interesting to me is that the posts with the most views were the posts I didn’t expect much of a response from. The series on Remembering God did better than I expected. And the poetry posts (which I love to write) were a viewer flop. I still love writing poetry. Blog views or none.
The three articles I submitted to online publications did well. I enjoyed writing the poem to Fathom Mag the most, but it seems to have had the least impact. The TGC article about marriage has generated a lot of private messages and even a long phone call with a perfect stranger from across the country. The Risen Motherhood article on Launching Adults is probably the article I most enjoyed working on.
Reflecting on what I wrote this year I realized something else- I didn’t achieve the goals I set for writing in 2021. My goal for 2021 was to submit a book proposal about being married to someone who doesn’t worship Jesus. The running title in my mind was: Even If. Following Jesus even when your spouse does not. I did work on several brainstorm sessions about that book, but I couldn’t get past the ugh feeling in my gut. I just don’t really want to write a book about my marriage. I guess I’m torn about it. Part of me feels called to write about my marriage to an unbeliever because I know it’s an underserved topic in teachings and writings among Christians. But the rest of me feels a bit of bitterness about it. I’ve dreamt of writing a book that would inspire and encourage others, but I never thought it would be about the difficult marriage I continue in, with love. I guess I just haven’t worked out my own inner trouble on this subject yet. Maybe one day.
I had also planned to compile the poetry I’ve written over the years into different themed groups. I don’t expect I’d have much of a chance of getting my poems published in a traditional way. I don’t think I”m that great of a poet either. But I’d like to organize my poems and print them into small booklets that I could give to friends and family as gifts. That never happened. I plan to take this up again this year. I’ve already started compiling a group on the subject of sojourning through the liturgical/historical Church year. I’m thinking of a compilation towards Easter. And one towards Christmas. The Church has been a stream forming how I think and the shape I take in framing the world. I want to write poetry along those lines.
Years ago I wrote a poem I imagined as a children’s book about a king and a dragon. I’d like to either develop the poem into a grade-school aged reader’s book, or into a picture book for children. I don’t even know where to begin there. But I’ll do my research and if, like the poetry books it seem unlikely, I’ll print it and even take a stab at illustrating it and send it out as a gift for friends and family.
Today’s reflection on what I wrote in 2021 led to a couple other writing dreams I have. I would like to do some research and write at least a good article (and maybe that would lead to a book) on the subject of the historical church and healthcare and how our history might call us to do something about the healthcare crisis in America as Christians. Another dream- write something inspirational about how it’s not a waste of your life to spend your entire life letting Jesus teach you how to love another well.
So now you know what I wrote in 2021 and what I’m dreaming about writing in 2022. I’d love to hear what writing impacted you in 2021 and what you’d love to read in 2022.
Here are the links to my top 10 blog posts of 2021 in order of most viewed, and my published online magazine articles:
From my blog:
From the web:
When my thoughts go to your younger years and I hear your deep voice cursing the time, my eyes fill with hot tears and I wonder if singing Jesus Loves Me with you as a toddler was enough.
I lit a fire this New Year and watched the hot embers fly high and burn out fast and fall cold and faltering to the ground and felt my mothering was the same.
A seed may die and defiantly sprout up to new life and grow a tree. But ashes, ashes, they just fall. Hot for a moment and that’s all.
I have no hope for these burned out years unless ashes can be traded. But who does that?
I don’t know how, but here I offer all my ashes. Will you take them Resurrected? Will you make them a crown?
You could shine your face on me and I would be rescued from this degree of pain I can’t escape.
But you don’t.
You show me trees and leaves and shine light through the breeze and make fire in the branches with rays from the expanse of your power.
And I’m tired. But I’ll wait.
How long? How long until you shine your face in full and I don’t have to see you through metaphor?
This morning before I headed out the door for work, when you were about to jump in your truck and drive to school, I looked up at your face anxious about what you don’t want to face, curious about what you won’t say until it’s too late and then you’ll want to find a way to make space for a debate-
and I grabbed your green eyes with my teary ones and laid a mantle on you like a weighted blanket. The kind they use for overstimulated senses. And I said,
“Son, you can run. You can deflect and avoid reflecting on the truth, but you were born to know the One who made you curious. You can’t get away. He’ll never stop pursuing you. He wants you.” And you rested.
Your shoulders settled. Your eyes relaxed. Your fingers stopped. And I stopped too. Stopped worrying about you for a minute standing under that weight of glory.
This year I watched the world burn
with anger and lies
I watched my sons wallow in the mire
and I prayed.
This year I watched my friends build theories about conspiracies
and I watched my neighbors wave their flags high.
This year I heard cries for justice from the least of us among us and felt strange disdain from those who I thought would claim the fame of Jesus and gladly refrain from blaming
…but they didn’t.
This year I heard a woman say, “I can’t bear the grief anymore,” while one side of her body tried to dragged her to the floor and I stood close and propped her up and helped her see the ones she loves through the window on the third floor.
This year I cried for deliverance
“How long,” can I keep asking you to grant repentance?
This year I felt overwhelmed by the throngs of elders left alone to let someone else find them shelter
and we stood by.
This year I sat next to Job and decided to shut my mouth and hold
This year I opened my mouth and said, “Follow Jesus with me!” to the friend who cried not knowing what she could possibly do with her falling apart life.
This year I realized I couldn’t see past the thorn in my side and the plank in my eye and almost decided to give up.
But what? What is there to let go of except the delusion and illusion that this coming year or another person would bring Shalom.
This year made me long more for home
and the ones he’s redeemed.
there’s a dancer
In me there’s a hospital builder
a wound washer
a home maker
a child discipler
In me there’s a shepherdess
In me there’s a warrior
a strong-armed carrier
In me there’s a companion
a queen on her knees
making way for the weak
In me there’s a servant
a diligent worker happy to labor till the day
her King scandalously bows to say
“Well done. Be seated. Let me serve you, my beloved.”
Christ, in me. My hope of glory.