A recent page from one of my art journals.
“The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought …. You shall be like a watered garden.” Isaiah 58:11
A recent page from one of my art journals.
I’ve shared on here about creating a new Facebook group called “Art From God’s Word.” Twice a month, we have a scripture prompt, and each member then creates a work of art inspired by that scripture. We can use any medium we choose, and this time around I chose watercolor and ink.
The prompt was 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.”
Written in response to a couple friends of mine who have said for almost a year that they’ve thought about trying to write cinquain, but they won’t even make a start. They find it fascinating, but seem to be afraid of it. They have this false idea that because they need to count syllables, they will have trouble. If they’d just try, they’d be surprised and delighted with the results — and hooked on it– like I am. 🙂
Tell me again
Why you don’t try cinquain.
You think it’s difficult to write?
You are afraid
That you can’t get it right.
Syllable count seems difficult.
And you will find
That it’s much easier
Than you have even dared to think.
photo courtesy of LunarSeaArt @ pixabay.com
I do not make New Year’s resolutions. But each year, I do look to the Lord and seek His face and His heart to learn what His plans are for my upcoming year, and what He wants from me during that time. And, of course, there are things that I want for myself as well. This year, I decided to just make a list of all the things I’m wanting to accomplish in 2020. Some of them are on God’s list as well as mine, and some of them — well — they’re probably on my list only — but God will tolerate them out of His merciful love for me. 🙂
Here’s my list — so far:
1. Eating lots of chocolate No surprise there, right?)
2 . Drinking gallons of great coffee You didn’t think I’d forget coffee, did you?
3 . Finishing the three novels that got shelved after my best friend/best editor died. I’ve recovered from the grief of losing my best friend, who was also my most trusted and efficient editor — and my reservoir for all kinds of creative ideas. But even though I don’t deal with the intense pain of the loss as much, I’ve still found it impossible to let my creativity flow back into those projects that he was working on with me. I know I’ll be able to do so eventually, and I’m trusting the Lord that this year will see a breakthrough.
4. Writing scores of Cinquain. I do love Cinquain — as most of my readers know. And I can’t wait to dive into all kinds of subject matter that can be disciplined into this wonderful poetic form this year.
5. Writing scores of Tso’i. This new poetic form that I created last year is still a challenge. Of course, it had to be somewhat intricate in order to be a genuinely “new” form. If I had followed the disciplines that are comfortable, I’d have been staying in the same groove of all the forms I’ve written in all my life. So, I accept the challenge to write loads more Tso’i in 2020.
6. Writing a new series of Christmas stories I haven’t written anything holiday-themed in a couple years, and that’s surprising, considering how much I love Christmas. I did put out my Holiday Planning Journal last year, and that was loads of fun. But this year, I want to do some more short stories that relate the special excitement, warmth, and love that belong to the Christmas season.
7. Painting more than I did last year and arranging for a showing of some of my work. During this past year, some people have been encouraging me to do a showing of my artwork at a couple local places, but I haven’t had the confidence in my work that they seem to have. However, I think it’s time I considered it seriously. This venture is more a “maybe” than a sure thing, but I’m definitely going to consider it.
8. Making connections with more Christian artists. I’ve taken the first steps in getting this goal accomplished by creating a brand new Facebook group called “Art From God’s Word.” It looks like there are quite a few other Christian artists out there who want to participate. Twice a month, I’ll post a scripture prompt on that FB page, and all the members will meditate on that scripture and then create artwork that the verse inspires. They are free to use any medium and form of art that they choose, as long as it relates to the scripture passage. It’s a way to focus on God’s Word and fellowship with others who are like-spirited and want their gifts to glorify the Lord.
9. Teaching more”Writing Poetry” classes. It’s been hard to get people to sign up for the “Writing Poetry” classes. They come to other creative writing classes, but the poetry always lags behind in enrollment. It’s such a fun class, and if people realized that, they’d want to come. So, I need to work more diligently this year at making them understand how much fun it really is.
10. Taping a number of live videos, where I teach in front of the camera. Except for a very few, my Bible teaching videos are mainly audio teaching — with the help of a few pictures or graphics for people to look at as they listen. I’ve never been photogenic, and have a complex about being on camera — video or stationary cameras either one — so I’ve held off on this venture. But I do believe the Lord says its time — maybe past time — that I got this part of the ministry off the back burner. As long as I don’t go back and look at the old live videos that I do have of myself, I think I’ll be able to accomplish this goal in 2020.
11. Increasing my focus on the Lord and becoming more conscious of His presence within me. This desire is last on my list in this post, but it is certainly not least. In fact, it is the most important thing I will do this year. And, in truth, unless I do manage to accomplish this one, most of the others will probably fall by the wayside unfinished. But I have faith that this year will be a year of new growth — even great growth — for me spiritually. So, with the Lord’s help, I’m expecting to get this last item on the list accomplished, as well as the other nine.
If you’d like to share your goals, desires, or plans for this new year, please do. Use the “Comment” windows below to tell us about them — or put a link there to a post on your own blog where you share in more detail.
Graphics courtesy of Elisa Riva @ pixabay.com (edited for this post)
Original photo courtesy of Ooceey @ pixabay.com (Some text added for this post)
TODAY, DECEMBER 25TH, IS THE BEGINNING OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS — the period which, for centuries, has been set aside to focus on the joy of Jesus’ having come to us in the flesh: 12 days when believers rejoice and celebrate by giving gifts to others every day.
Gifts do not have to be extravagant. They can be very simple. It’s the meaning behind them that matters — Giving something to someone you care about because you want to emphasize God’s gift to us. Probably many of you have given loads and loads of gifts to family and friends during the past couple days. But spreading out the joy and the giving over a much longer period of time intensifies the treasure of this celebration in our own hearts. And it helps to reaffirm for us that the true meaning of Christmas does not come to a close at midnight on December 25th.
In the United States especially, a majority of people seem to have the attitude that after the 25th, everything “Christmas” should come down and be packed away — and wait for another 11 months before being seen or heard from again. How sad. We would do well to take a lesson from believers of previous centuries — particularly in many of the European countries — who relished the celebration of 12 full days of joy that just got started on December 25th.
If you’ve never celebrated the 12 days of rejoicing and sharing the joy with others, try it. Begin today and celebrate through January 5th, 2020. The following day, January 6th, is Epiphany — which is it’s own celebration — focusing on Jesus’ manifestation as savior to the Gentile nations and the whole world.
Get out of the rut of making Christmas a 2-day party and then a “let-down.” Instead, get a fresh start today and let Jesus bring you a brand new revelation of who He is during this 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany season.
photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann @ pixabay.com
Country lanes at Christmas —
For the traveler, such a chore.
Snow encrusted, rutted lanes
That make manuv’ring poor.
It’s hard to see the shoulders
And the middle line is blurred.
For traffic in the other lane
No ample room’s assured.
And drawing towards the end of day,
When light is running low,
Traversing snowy country roads
Mandates my going slow.
But I’ll continue trav’ling down
Those snowy country lanes,
To friends and fam’ly, waiting me.
It’s worth whatever strain.
Besides, those Christmas country roads
Through woods and fields snow-clad
Resound with quiet so unique
It makes my heart quite glad.
They seem to wear a special peace
That blankets their domain.
And settles over me when I’m
On snowy, country lanes.
photo courtesy of Reijo Telaranta @ pixabay.com
WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS REALLY MEAN TO JESUS???
Everyone has different opinions and different feelings concerning the meaning of Christmas. What were Jesus’ feelings about coming from the throne into a tiny body that was laid in a manger at Bethlehem? That’s the focus of my most recent upload to Radical About Jesus YouTube channel: “Let’s Not Get Stuck At The Manger”
Make listening to and sharing this message part of your Advent Celebration this year.
The following is a quote of my dad’s own words as he explained his personal response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941:
“The dramatic part of my life began, as that of so many members of the armed forces did, on one of the most infamous days in U. S. history — at Pearl Harbor. Even though I was only 17, I talked my dad and step-mom into signing their permission for me to enter the Marine Corps and do as much as I could to help win that war and make it as short as possible.
“Actually, I had always wanted to be a Marine. All through high school, it was my dream. At the age of 15, I’d felt the call of God on my heart to become a preacher of the Gospel, but as far as I could tell, that wouldn’t preclude my serving my country as well. And if I were going to serve, I was going to be a Marine!”
My father went forward — as did thousands of other brave and committed men and women — to engage in horrific and often mortal combat with the enemies of freedom and human integrity. He and his Marine unit faced every conceivable type of warfare — including a direct hit by a Japanese Kamikazi plane. which caused their LST to be engulfed in flames.
The Lord protected my dad and all the men in his unit, for which I’m enormously grateful. But the price he paid — and the even higher price so many others paid — is something we must never lose sight of. They did it to keep us free and safe from all those forces that would enslave us to inhumane and deadly control by totalitarinan governments.
May we never forget. And may we never allow our nation to be deceived into giving up all that they sacrificed to give us.
Part of this post is a repeat from a couple years ago. I just felt like giving it another day of recognition.
Thanksgiving in the U. S. is exactly three weeks from today, so I think it’s only appropriate that I revisit some of my Thanksgiving poems from over the years — and maybe even write a new one.
This week I’ll begin the series with two: one quite serious and one just for fun. Hope you enjoy them, and if you’re one of my own countrymen, I hope they add to your expectations for a happy Thanksgiving celebration.
AH, THANKSGIVING, HOW I LOVE YOU!
Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:
“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”
All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.
And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.
Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
I spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.
It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.
Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!
So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
I’m a musician. I play keyboard instruments mainly. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of using my talents to entertain audiences, to minister as organist and choir director for two different churches, to help facilitate weddings and funerals for scores of families, to compose and orchestrate numerous songs, and to teach others to use their gifts and talents to bless the world with music from their own keyboards.
These days I rarely sit down to a musical keyboard. Instead, I’m nearly glued to the kind of keyboard that is attached to a desktop or laptop computer. For, you see, I’m also a writer. Now, some people feel that I have left music behind as I’ve devoted so much of myself to the writing. But you know what? I’ve discovered a truth that, ten years ago, I may not have even thought about:
I’ve discovered that music — true music — doesn’t come from a keyboard on a piano, an organ, or an accordion. Nor does it come from a horn, a guitar, a violin, or any other instrument. On the contrary, music comes from the soul. It’s the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm of life that courses through our beings and finds its release through any number of avenues. Frequently, it is released through instruments constructed for that specific purpose, but the music of the soul is also released through words.
I find that I’m releasing the music of my soul constantly as my fingers whisk over the letter keys of my laptop. I’m letting all those melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of life course through me to touch every reader. And when those readers are touched, my words create emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions as surely as the strains of sound vibrating from a piano or a horn. I’m calling to and capturing the soul of the reader as surely as the chords from a guitar call and capture the soul of the listener.
It is not the instrument that creates the music. In truth, the music is created from the deepest part of our being and simply seeks an avenue — any avenue — of expression. So, personally, I believe I am offering music to the world through the words that flow from my soul onto the page as surely as I have offered it in the past from the keyboard that sent forth vibrations of sound.
So, my fellow writers — let your music flow.
I wrote this piece for my poetry site, but decided I’d share it here as well.
Wait before me.
I stand before closed doors
But do not let that hinder me:
The doors obeyed.
And now I stand in awe.
I see what possibilities
I must decide:
Will I cross the threshold?
Will I accept new challenges?