Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #3

It’s week #3 of my Paint Chip Poetry Prompt. The last two weeks the words were quite arbitrary and odd. I really do pull them from the paint chip deck randomly, so I never know what we’ll get.

This week, with one exception, I think the prompt and paint chip names lend themselves to a more serious poem, instead of the silliness of the past two weeks. I hope you agree.

The words for this week are rose-colored glasses, sea anemone, bougainvillea, fresh butter, halo, dirt road, and open meadow.

Here’s my poem for the week:

The Good Old Days

I’m not one to view
this crazy world
through rose-colored glasses
But life was good
in that old country house
at the end of a long dirt road
Butterflies fluttered and rabbits
hopped in the open meadow
that stretched out back
Bougainvillea flanked
the kitchen door with
a promise of perfume unfulfilled
Down the road a small
family farm sold fresh butter
and eggs, and sometimes honey
Enough to serve a breakfast of kings

In the evening as the sun set
a halo of light graced
the treetops across the way
It wasn’t exactly paradise
But it was good
. . . while it lasted

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn, but I’m stepping it up a notch. Write your poem with at least five of the seven prompt words. Extra points for anyone who uses sea anemone. Post your poem or a link in the comments.

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Wake up to a New Year

Among my family and friends, I am the poet. As a result, I am sometimes asked to write poems for particular occasions and am happy to do so. But I am also blessed to have others share their poetry with me because they think I’ll be interested, which I am. They always preface it with, “Well, mine’s not as good as what you write.” But that is not always true.

One such occasion arose this past weekend at church. My dear friend Audrey shared with me a poem she wrote about her experience on New Years Day. It is a beautiful poem and has an encouraging message, especially for those who live alone. I asked if she would allow me to share it here on my blog and she agreed. So here it is. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me (and I don’t even live alone).

Wake up to a New Year
By Audrey Lundgren

When a person (me) lives by themselves
. . . and awakes to a new day —
There isn’t anyone to confer with,
. . . except that loud squawking jay!

So, after feeding my Augie and Dusty
. . . and feeling a little lonely
I thought of some of my neighbors
. . . and to five, gave a gift from me.

It was a perfect way to begin the year,
. . . thinking of what others might need.
Soon the morning blues were gone
. . . and blessings flowed — indeed!

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Flustered Feline

He’d roar if he could
I know it

But chattering
Is the best he can muster
You can tell he’s flustered
Because that dark-eyed Junco
And the American Finches
Are out of his reach

He doesn’t know
That even so
He’s much too slow


It’s the first Quadrille of the year for the prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. De Jackson is tending bar and looking for 44 words per poet, one of which must be some form of roar. Head on over and see what other poets are roaring, I mean writing, about.

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Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #2

Last week, I started a new weekly poetry prompt here on my blog. That post has had 21 likes, 5 shares, and 8 comments—but only one person posted a poem in response to the prompt, and it was my cousin. I’ve left comments open, though, so anyone can still participate in that prompt.

Not one to give up easily, I’m forging ahead with my second Paint Chip Poetry Prompt. Write your poem (in any form or free style) using at least four of the seven prompt words on the theme of School Days.

Here’s this week’s prompt picture:

This one is appropriate since kids are now all back in school after winter break. The paint chip words or phrases are: bull’s eye, dappled sunlight, bittersweet, the blues, salmon, happily ever after, and whale song.

Here’s my poem for the week:

Watching Fish

I might be on vacation
snorkeling among the reef
watching fish amble by
with whale song
on the distant seas

But for salmon
it’s school days
swimming, swimming
in the open ocean
on an odyssey
back to their home

Do salmon get the blues?
Is the upstream journey bittersweet
Or does the dappled sunlight
on the riverside
make them smile
Living happily ever after

Your Turn

Okay, now write your poem and share it in the comments (whole poem or link). Then come back next Friday to see what interesting paint chips I pulled from my deck next time.

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So It Ends, and So It Begins

It began in the Westin Hotel pool on Maui. Well, truth be told, it began with a prayer four months earlier, the day I decided it was time to end 40 years of intense aquaphobia. I asked God to help me overcome this fear born of a failed attempt to tread water during third-grade swimming lessons. I asked my Bible study group, friends at church, and my sisters-in-law to all pray for me. I wanted to snorkel, but I had to conquer this aversion to even the deep end of a pool first.

I stood in three and a half feet of water and donned my snorkel mask as my husband lounged poolside patiently waiting for me to put my face in the water and swim. We couldn’t snorkel Black Rock if I couldn’t master breathing through a snorkel tube in this relatively calm environment. He chuckled as I flapped my lower arms up and down trying to drum up the nerve to breath underwater.

I succeeded! Then on the day I turned 50, I snorkeled Black Rock. Later that week, Honolua Bay and Honokahua Bay. I’ve since encountered Humuhumunukunuku’apu’a’a, octopus, huge sea turtles, Lau Wiliwili-Nukunuku-Oioi, spotted eels, yellow butterfly fish, and more. I’ve marveled at the beauty of God’s underwater creation at Molokini Crater, Kapalua Bay, Hanauma Bay (Oahu), and on the Island of Lanai. What began as a timid attempt to simply float face down in a pool turned into a lifetime of savoring the charm of reef life. I can’t wait to find the next reef or bay to snorkel.

Relaxing in waves
Sun dappled reef and fish
What season? Who care


The new year begins with a new Haibun prompt at dVerse Poets Pub this week. Bjorn is looking for Haibuns about new beginnings. I almost wrote about my new poetry prompt that I started last Friday, but decided to go a different route with this fun travel journal entry about the end of a phobia and the beginning of a love of ocean reef life.

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Paint Chip Poetry Prompts

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I picked up this game called Paint Chip Poetry: A Game of Color and Wordplay. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, but I couldn’t resist the purchase, even though I don’t really have anyone to play it with.

Pondering how I might post more consistently on this blog in 2020, it occurred to me that I could play this game with all of you who read my blog and love poetry. And so the idea for Paint Chip Poetry Prompts was conceived.

Each Friday, I will post a picture that includes a prompt card and seven paint chip cards from the Paint Chip Poetry deck. I will also post my poem written in response to the cards drawn that week. Your challenge, should you accept it, is to write a poem in response to the prompt card that includes at least four of the seven paint chip words or phrases. You can limit yourself to the paint chip words provided or add more words of your own.

Once you’ve written your poem, post either the whole poem, or a link to where the poem is posted on your own blog, in the comments. You may include the prompt picture in your own post so long as you link back here.

Invite your friends to play along too!

Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #1

And here’s the first prompt for the year.

The prompt words are: clown nose, mustard seed, The Scarlet Letter, frost, octopus, dust bunny, and four-leaf clover. Extra points if you can include your own drawing using the colors of the paint chips! I wish I knew how to do that, but I’m graphically challenged.

Here’s my poem:

I Wish I Had a Mustard Seed

I wish I had a mustard seed lifestyle
Instead of all these dust bunny piles

I wish I was a mustard seed lover
I’m not a seeker of a four-leaf clover

I wish I wrote mustard seed prose
Or could draw a circus complete with clown nose

I wish I had mustard seed charms
And could do more with crazy octopus arms

I wish I knew what a mustard seed cost
Before the crop failed because of frost

But wait!
I do have faith like a mustard seed
It may be tiny but it’s all that I need

Your Turn

Okay, it’s your turn now. Write your poem and share it in the comments (whole poem or link). Then come back next Friday to see what crazy paint chips have fallen from my deck.

Update: Submitted to dVerse Poets Pubs Open Link Night. Head over there to check out some other poems offered.

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2020 Vision

I’d love to have perfect vision
as the year begins anew
If only these glasses on my face
offered an eternal view

Better than perfect eyesight
would be to clearly see
God’s plan and vision
of the future for you and me

But how do I discern
the vision He proclaims
To reckon in 2020
mine and His the same

It won’t come by cherry picking
verses that seem right
But taken out of context
become obtuse and trite

I must see God’s story
from beginning to the end
As a complete record
by the Spirit penned

I may not know the future
in perfect clarity
But see each step before me
in faith, hope, and charity

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If I Was the Potter

If I was the potter instead of the clay, what tools would I use to fashion a beautiful vessel? And what kind of vessel would I create? A lovely vase? An intricate teapot? Or perhaps a practical bowl?

I suppose the appropriate tools would depend on the desired vessel. No one vessel is better than another. Each serves a purpose and requires a different method of creation.

For a practical bowl, a spin on the potter’s wheel, with hands gently shaping, creating an opening, determining the depth with a press of the thumbs. Then a cut-off wire might level the top to the perfect height.

To create an intricate teapot might require a long, sharp instrument to bore a hole for the spout, a putty knife to attach the spout to the pot, and a caliper to ensure the lid is the right size to seal the top.

Designing a lovely vase I would begin on the potter’s wheel, but might need scrappers and ribs to perfectly shape the curve of this flower holder. And a plain side may not do, so a sharp needle and point chisel could be used to carve a delicate design resembling the very blooms it will one day display.

A slab of clay does not complain about such treatment, no matter how fast the wheel spins or how deep the sharp tools dig in. As long as it stays moist, the clay allows itself to be molded as I desire.

When I have finished shaping my vessel, into the kiln it goes to be fired at the proper temperature for the type of clay used. It might only require 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, or perhaps 2,400 degrees. The timing is important too, but still the clay does not complain, though it may break if fired incorrectly by an unskilled potter.

And that is the final ingredient for a valuable piece of pottery—the skill of the potter. Anyone can mold clay, but only one with great skill can craft a vessel of beauty and usefulness.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 (NIV).

I am not the Potter. I am only the clay. And because of the great skill of the Potter, I am being shaped into a beautiful and useful vessel.

The tool He uses is sometimes sharp; I complain because it digs deep to carve away a part that simply must go.

Other times He molds with His gentle hand as the wheel of life slowly turns.

Before I’m done, I know the kiln will come, as it has before. I’ll likely complain again because the heat seems unbearable. But it is necessary, as are all the Potter’s tools, if I am ever to be more than a hard lump of clay with no purpose.

How about you? Are you enduring the Potter’s sharp design instrument right now? Remember that He knows what He is doing, it is all for a purpose, and out of the molding will come beauty—that beauty will be you.

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Melancholy Merriment


Nativity figurine made by my sister Peggy, who passed away in 2013

This past Sunday we had the most beautiful Advent service of songs and scripture readings, plus my poem that I was blessed to recite. Everything was perfect, even when it wasn’t quite. This inspiring service was the brainchild of one of our worship team leaders, Alex, who is a gifted musician and beautiful soul.

Alex didn’t get to experience the fruit of her labors of planning and organizing. The week before, her mother passed away back in her home state of Texas, and Alex spent Sunday at a celebration of her mom’s life instead of at the celebration of the birth of Jesus that she had worked so hard to plan.

In the merriment of the service, there was a bit of melancholy knowing what Alex was going through. We said a prayer for her.

I can relate to her loss. The last time I saw my mom was Thanksgiving 1987. Christmas that year was spent with my husband’s side of the family. Then on January 3, 1988 my mom passed away. It wasn’t really unexpected, and yet I didn’t fully expect her to be gone so soon. I’m sure Alex didn’t expect to lose her mom so soon either.

We lose loved ones all year long, and yet the parents, siblings, children, and friends who die during the season of joy and merriment between Thanksgiving and the New Year seem the most difficult to deal with.

There is a certain level of merriment that is expected in response to the greetings “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” and the like. Christmas carols and bright lights, the hustle and bustle of preparations, almost demand we be joyful. And there is much to be joyful about when we ponder the birth of Jesus, of our Emmanuel.

Many times in the 32 years since my mom died, I’ve felt the true merriment of the season, especially when my son was young. Other times, like two years ago, the melancholy can all but obliterate any joy the season might otherwise bring.

Most years I live through the winter months in a teetering balance of melancholy merriment.

Being in this state of emotional tension reminds me that others may be teetering too, and that perhaps they are struggling to keep the scales from tipping toward hopeless depression. It reminds me to be kind, to give a little grace to those I encounter each day.

If that’s you, teetering desperately, feeling the weight of expectations, know these three things:

  1. You are loved (see John 3:16);
  2. It’s okay to cry (see John 11:35); and
  3. You are not alone (see Matthew 28:20).

I’m praying for you, that you will find a balance of melancholy merriment too, and that the Light of the world will sustain you.

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Once When Emmanuel Came


I have a new Christmas poem up at Anchored Voices. It was inspired by the Scriptures that will be read at the December 15 service at my church, Community of Faith. My poem will be read at the service too. It promises to be a truly beautiful Sunday morning of music, scripture, and poetry.

I can’t post the whole poem here right now, but here’s the first stanza and a link to the whole poem on Anchored Voices. I hope you’ll check it out and be blessed.

Once when darkness hovered deep
The Godhead planned our souls to keep
True Light shone bright and did not sleep
Until all that exists He created

Read more . . .

May you find the true Light of Christmas this holiday season.

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