Preoccupied

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted much so far in 2019. In fact, I only posted 3 times in January and not at all yet in February.

Or maybe you don’t notice such things, but I have.

It’s not that I haven’t done any writing or that I don’t have anything to say. I’ve simply been preoccupied.

Last fall I hired a freelance developmental editor, Kimberly Shumate, to help me finish my memoir manuscript. She gave me excellent feedback, including constructive comments on organization, word choice, dialogue, and more. And so I’ve been preoccupied with addressing each of her comments and making the manuscript the best it can be.

This past weekend I addressed the final issue. I now have a 50,272-word, 17-chapter (plus Prologue and Epilogue), 164-page manuscript. It still needs a copy edit, but it’s done.

Now begins the challenging task of finding a publisher. Or deciding to self-publish and which self-publishing company to work with. Prayers for wisdom and open doors would be appreciated.

Oh, and I’m also considering changing the title. My working title has been “My Name Is Beloved.” Not sure if that’s going to stick. We’ll see.

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The Art of Revision

“Pick a different word,” she wrote
“This word appears 44 times in this manuscript.
Use your thesaurus.”

So I change pain to anguish or misery
Substitute torment for suffering
Replace anger with outrage
Switch adore for love

Editing is about changing
yet saying the same

____________________

De Jackson is calling for some change dVerse Poets Pubfor the first Quadrille Monday of the year at . With editing on my mind—having just yesterday finished addressing my freelance editor’s comments to my memoir manuscript—I thought this was a perfect Quadrille word. Head on over to dVerse to see what other changes are happening.

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Hanging with My Dad

He hangs upon my office wall
A reminder that he’s gone
But also that he was once here

Well, not here, in my office, of course
He was long dead before this room, this building existed

But here, in my life, loving me
Loving his mother, his wife, his siblings
Loving life itself with great joy

He is surrounded on these walls
By artwork created by his grandson
The one who is his spitting image
But who has never met him
Except when he looks in a mirror and sees
Long legs and arms, spindly wrists and big hands
A thick shock of hair and a mile-wide grin

I remember he was an awesome dad
The kind of dad who teased, which I didn’t like,
But also encouraged me to read and to learn
Got me my first car and taught me to drive
Worried when I drove too fast, too far, too recklessly

I remember getting cards from him in college
With a $20 bill and a note,
“Here’s some mad money for you.
Don’t tell your mom. Love, Dad.”

I remember when he died, though I wasn’t there
I didn’t come when he called, but delayed
Was too late, always too late

I wish for my son memories of his grandfather
But it’s too late for that, too

___________________________

I’m sharing this today for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, but it’s in response to last week’s Poetics prompt that I missed about hanging around.

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My One Word 2019

To treasure something means “to regard or treat as precious; cherish.” Dictionary.com.

Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NIV).

I have decided that for 2019 my “One Word” to guide my thoughts, words, and actions is Treasured. A lot of people are choosing words like courage, discipline, gratitude, and gratefulness. These are all great words, but I wanted a word that was more about just being and less about doing.

Throughout the year, I want to remember that I am treasured by God, not because of what I do for Him, but because of who He is. I am treasured because He chose to treasure me, to cherish me, to regard me as precious.

I also want to remind you, my readers, that you are treasured, too. God cherishes each and every one of you. Jesus died to save you all.

Have you believed that you are too far gone to be saved? Have you committed some terrible sin and believe that Jesus couldn’t possibly forgive you? Trust me when I say, those beliefs are a lie. Better yet, trust Jesus. He said, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Matthew 12:31 (NIV). No sin is too great that you cannot be redeemed by God who treasures you greatly.

I understand how you feel, though. I used to believe the lie that I was too far gone. My sins and transgressions weighed me down. I didn’t feel liked much less cherished or treasured. By God’s grace I learned the truth. You can experience this grace, too. All you have to do is believe.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28–29 (NIV).

But wait, I guess there’s a little bit of “doing” in this word I’ve chosen. I also want to heed Jesus’s teaching to keep Him as the One I treasure most. He is treasured by me and so that is where my heart is. I want to regard and treat Him as precious to me. But this “work” comes easily when I know deep down that He treasured me first.

Won’t you join me this year in treasuring and being treasured by God? Let the knowledge of His truth and mercy sustain you, keep you, and strengthen you for each day.

_____________

On a somewhat related note, I have been invited to be a contributing author at Anchored Voices blog. I will be sharing a poetry corner post on the monthly theme. I am honored to be included among a stellar group of contributing authors. The theme for January is our individual One Word. So look for my poem on being Treasured later this month at Anchored Voices.

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It Is Time for Walking

Today I’m sharing a poem by a dear friend and poet. She is more introspective and cautious than I am, less boisterous and loud. But dear nonetheless. I hope you enjoy her words.

It Is Time for Walking

by Kathleen P. Bufford

Silent, we descend the 18 steps—1 of finished wood;
17, rough stone. A gravel of disagreement, spatted,
with flecks of disrespect irritates the space between us.
If added to and added to, and over time cemented,
potential boulders, I suppose.
A mere two feet of disconnection
seems 9 dead-sea miles of separation.

“Alpha,” hisses Beta, “Do Not Tell Me What I Think!”
And Beta stalks a foot, two feet, an argument ahead.
Alpha long-legs answers, and assumes the lead, but
dog determines the deciding stride, halts to sniff
compost between early shoots of spring.

Silenced by the garden sight, we point and nod, first one, and then the other,
pointing to audaciously early rosebuds that defy the frozen season.
Further, on the ascent of this hill that we walk nightly, I
note our matching, rising gaze.   Again, silent fingers point.
Double-sized, it seems, the moon draws our eyes, dazzles.

We stop again, deep breathing, and embracing from the breadth and depth
of  moon, of noted planets, of high, sparse clouds, and starry constellations,
and from the cultivated yards beside us, this scent and sense: God is in this world,
these heavens, awe-striking, hovering, lover-ing,  holding, wind-
dancing, displaying harmonies we have not yet heard or seen,
and in the kingdom here, is He not still creating?
More deeply inhaling, we two take in this grace, forget to spat.

Shamed a bit, I stoop to bag the poop that husband,
humbled, stoops to find, and find, and find again.

Reverenced by The Lover and His kingdom, we continue, minus disrespect,
not so much needing to resolve just now
… what was that gravel of disagreement?
Perhaps in time the gentle yin and yang surrounding it will form
more  lovely layers—as clusters of patience or endurance;
Hope.
Continuing around and back down our hill, holding hands, we
chat the weather, then savor silence.
Harmonized, up 17 rough and 1 smooth step we walk in often-practiced habit,
matching foot-falls  as in choreographed procession.
Stop to smile at the top.

Triumphant once again over minor irritation, we unlock and enter Home,
inhale and embrace there the depth and breadth, the connectedness of us
and others who surround in snapshots, quilts, wool throw, paintings, and
in calligraphied expressions.
We care for the dog, complete the chores that end this day,
ascend a dozen quieter steps, softer, yes, but steep.

Then, having been awed, gentled, held, we sleep.

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The Real Light

It’s the darkness. And the cold. But mostly the darkness. I know we have passed the winter solstice and the days are getting longer, but sunrise at 7:51 a.m. and sunset at 4:36 p.m. still makes for a very short day and a lot of darkness.

When I complained about it the other day, my husband replied, “There’s artificial light.”

It’s not the same. I need real light to function at full capacity. I need the sunlight to energize me. Then you add to this darkest month of the year extra tasks and responsibilities—Christmas cards, decorating, making cookies, attending events, traveling to visit family—and something has to give.

In case you hadn’t noticed, what “gave” was my blog. I haven’t posted anything since Nov. 8. Short stints away from blogging aren’t new for me, but I think this is the first time I’ve felt like I should be blogging when I wasn’t. And it’s the first time I’ve felt the darkness was to blame.

As I pondered this, I realized my lack of energy in the absence of sunlight is a perfect analogy for life without Jesus. When we try to live without His Light, we don’t function at full capacity. When we forge ahead in our own power, on artificial power, we grow weary and something has to give.

But when we bask in His great Light, renewing our energy in His Power, we can keep going. Sometimes we need to absorb His Light and rest in His grace. Sometimes taking a break to focus on Jesus is the best course of action. I did a lot of that during this brief hiatus from posting.

As we approach the new year, may you renew your strength and energy in the power and light of Jesus.

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My Redeemer Is Alive

I was commissioned to write lyrics for a song based on some passages of the book of Job. Though he liked what I wrote, ultimately, the person who commissioned me decided to use snippets of the KJV version of the verses to compose his quintet piece. So I thought I’d share what I wrote here. If anyone feels inclined to set this to music, let me know.

My Redeemer Is Alive

Verse 1 (Job 6:10)
Comfort and consolation
In this least truth I find
Despite the pain I’ve suffered
His words I’ve ne’er denied
His words I’ll not deny

Verse 2 (Job 7:11)
Bitterness and anguish
Overwhelm my bitter soul
I cry out in dire complaint
My words I can’t control
These words I’ll not let go

Chorus (Job 19:25–27)
My Redeemer is alive at last
He stands upon the earth He cast
Yea, my body will decay and yet
My eyes will see God, O the thought
My Redeemer, my Redeemer is alive

Verse 3 (Job 19:28–29)
How dare you persecute me
Saying I am to blame
You should fear the wrath of God
Know judgment there will be
Yes, His judgment you will see

Bridge (Job 9:11)
He comes near
I cannot see Him though
When He moves
I do not see Him go

Chorus (Job 19:25–27)
My Redeemer is alive at last
He stands upon the earth He cast
Yea, my body will decay and yet
My eyes will see God, O the thought
My Redeemer, my Redeemer is alive

Verse 4 (Job 16:19-22)
Even now my advocate in heaven
Sees scoffers cause my eyes to weep
Oh that I might plead with God on high
The road of no return lies before me
The road I must go down lies ahead

Chorus (Job 19:25–27)
My Redeemer is alive I know
He stands upon the earth to show
Though my body will decay, I’ll live
My eyes will see God, O the thought
My Redeemer, my Redeemer is alive

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