The Importance of Now

Since Sarah got sick, I have been asked the following questions many times, “How is Sarah doing? How are you doing? How are the girls doing?” It’s very hard to know how to answer because the answer is so complicated. The feelings are so mixed, and they change so rapidly, that it is hard at any one moment to say exactly how we are. Each day is like a roller coaster: moments where I know that everything is going to be fine, moments where I am afraid.

In the moments when I am afraid, I try to remember the blessedness, the priceless beauty of NOW. I try to really hug and really feel my children’s arms around me. I take time to rub in the kisses planted on my cheek. I look in my children’s eyes and listen to their words. Together, we try to really experience the world around us–the rustle of wind through the trees, the warmth of the sun on our faces, the cold splash of the creek on our feet, the ever-changing colors of the sky, singing our favorite songs together at the top of our lungs in the car, and moments like these…

Sarah acting silly with her sisters before a clinic visit.

Sarah acting silly with her sisters before a clinic visit.

These are the things we can know NOW.

Recently, I have heard many stories of loss–some have lost loved ones to cancer, others to car accidents, and others in other ways–it reminds me that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Therefore, it is important to be present in the moments that we have. No material goods or success we may achieve is more important than this–being fully aware and fully alive NOW. It is not easy to achieve. It takes practice, and it requires resistance to the many ways our culture tries to distract us.

So, my answer to the question, “How are you? How is Sarah? How are the girls?” is that today, NOW, we are good. We are together, and we are laughing and drawing and playing and loving each other the best we know how. And for this moment, that’s what matters most.

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The Wolf

If you had been dressed in my grandmother’s nightgown,
I might have realized that your mouth could
swallow me whole in one big gulp, 
that if I took one step closer, I would disappear.
.
Had you been dressed like a sheep,
I might have noticed something not-quite-right,
like an aversion to grass, or a glint in your eyes 
of desire for consuming human souls.
.
But you came dressed like Superman,
breathing forceful words of deliverance,
with white-hot vision that cracked open my soul
and laid a feast bare before you.
 .
I should have seen the death behind
your facade of selflessness–
but your hunger for me
looked like love.
 

Shampooing

A poem for my Mom.

At the kitchen sink,
the unceremonious baptistery of our ritual,
I lay all my hopes for re-creation in the skillful art
of your hands, and bend my head under
the drowning rush of tap water.
 
Your hands, slick with shampoo,
caress my hair and scalp until the suds begin to bubble
their familiar cleansing litany.
 
Under the water again,
I watch the bubbles swirl around the drain
and disappear, carrying away
the residue of my world.
 
The water stops.
I lift my towel-dried hair
and breathe the welcome air,
full of the promises of a clean beginning.
 
………………………………………………………………..
This poem is being shared at One Stop Poetry for Mother’s Day. Click here to submit your own poetry and read the work of other great poets. Happy Mother’s Day!

Crucifixion

The first time I saw Him covered in blood
it was my own, and I could silence his cries
in the warmth of my arms.
The pain then was mine alone to bear,
easily forgotten in the presence of new life,
in His presence.
.
Now all of the miracles and wonders have
come to this dark place,
this dark day,
this day of blood,
and a pain that cannot be eased
with hope of something better,
because this day will end in death.
.
My beloved!
Shamed, disfigured, disgraced–
.
There is nothing left of light but memory.
……………………………………………………………………………………….
This poem is part of a series that began with the poem “Nativity,” written a few years ago.

Godly Women Do NOT Endure Abuse

I recently came across this video, which was apparently first released in August 2009. It is no longer available on Piper’s Desiring God website, so I have downloaded it from YouTube. I feel a strong need to address Piper’s response to the question of a woman enduring the abuse of her husband because I believe it is a dangerous and unbiblical view of the meaning of submission in marriage.

To say the least, Piper’s response to the question is disturbing. Why does he laugh after reading the question? Why does he discount verbal abuse as mere “verbal unkindness”? How can he, as a pastor, be so incredibly ignorant about abusive relationships and the dynamics of them?

I could spend several blog posts dissecting this video and addressing a myriad of errors that I find in his teaching, but, for today, I really only want to address the erroneous idea that when a woman submits to abuse, she is behaving biblically or abiding by scriptural teaching.

As a victim of intense verbal abuse, which I “endured” for seven years, I know personally that the submission taking place in an abusive relationship has nothing to do with God. An abused person’s life revolves around her abuser and doing everything that she can to avoid the abuse. She will go against her own beliefs, against the leading of the Holy Spirit, against God’s Word, against the advice of her family and friends, if she thinks that her abuser will approve of her and give her some relief from the abuse. In other words, in the abused person’s life, God is not first; her abuser is. He is her god.

This state of mind means that the abused person is breaking the first of the ten commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” It also breaks Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The person enduring abuse is consumed with the abuser and only her abuser, at the expense of all of her other relationships, including her relationship with God.

Any teaching that encourages a woman to live in a way that separates her from God is wrong. I truly believe that, in an abusive situation, the best way for a woman to serve God (and any others who may depend on her) is to leave the abusive situation and get help.

April PAD Prompt Day 4: Type of Person

The Religious Narcissist
.
Because he has been chosen from among men
to be favored by God
he knows he is infallible.
.
God speaks directly into his ear,
so do not question when he
contradicts, blasphemes,
adulterates, manipulates Scripture
.
because he has been chosen from among men
to be favored by God
.
his choices might destroy families,
pull houses to the ground,
set towns ablaze,
bring his child to her knees–
but he feels no call to answer
the plea in his daughter’s eyes
that beg him to come back down to earth
for just one moment and affirm her
.
because he has been chosen from among men
to be favored by God.

Poem Prompt Day 2: Postcard Poem

The View from Here

An unrelenting sun bakes

wind-swept sand into extremes

of hunger and thirst.

Manna falls and I am blessed

into moving forward,

the story of my past obliterated

in the hope of a new dawn.

……………………………………………………………….

This poem was written in response to a prompt from Robert Lee Brewer at http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides for the 2011 April Poem-A-Day Challenge.

Poem Share: Margaret Atwood

For Day 2 of National Poetry Month, one of my all-time favorite poems by one of my all-time favorite poets, Margaret Atwood. I love this poem because it sets you up to think one way–nice, warm, and fuzzy–then it jars you into a completely opposite perspective. If only I could use such few words in such a powerful way!

You Fit Into Me by Margaret Atwood

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

Poem Share: Psalm 91

To kick off National Poetry Month, I have chosen one of my favorite poems to share. Yes, this is a psalm from the Bible, but the imagery and metaphor in this poem make it particularly powerful as it speaks to the strength and power we have when we are faithful in our relationship with God.

Psalm 91 (New International Version, ©2011)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

(read online at BibleGateway.com)

Favorite Word #2 and Writing Prompt: Serendipity

Serendipity is “the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.” (Collins English Dictionary-Complete and Unabridged 10th Edition, 2009)  The initial meaning of the word when it was coined by Horace Walpole was “the ‘discovery of things unsought’ or the experience of ‘looking for one thing and finding another.'” (Robert K. Merton as quoted by Richard Boyle, http://livingheritage.org/serendipity.htm)

I first encountered this word as the title for my 5th or 6th grade reading book. It was love at first sight. Not only is the word beautiful and fun to say, it sounds like what it means, which gives the word more dimension and depth. Furthermore, my first encounter with the word was a moment of serendipity. I still remember turning the book over to get started reading (yes, I have always been a bookworm) and there was this wonderful word!

Prompt: (1) Write a poem about serendipity, using any of the meanings given above. (2) Write a prose description of an experience of serendipity. Share your writing in the comments or share a link to your site. Happy writing!

Here’s my attempt:

Fall

Rushing from point A to B to C to D
the cars faces places whiz by without memory.
Then a blaze of fire-red glory
from a lone-standing tree
stills the speeding spin inside of me.
Oh! Serendipity.