It’s a question that’s tugged at my attention for years. As I read the stories of eternal heroes with short lives and stared at the caskets of people I held dear, the question haunted my mind.
so small and
one breath will
blow this life away, and
will be the proof that
it was here?
and broken hearts?
that were torn apart by
hands that now lie still and cold?
forbid it, Lord!
A month or so ago a friend and I were wandering through a beautiful cemetery that sprawls over several acres of hills. (You know you have loyal friends when they smilingly join you on strange expeditions.) There were so many old gravestones – some tipped and sinking deep into the soil. Several were ridiculously tall and ornate, but they were so old that wind and water and time had wiped the sentimental words right off of the marker. Their attempts to leave an echo of their greatness were in vain.
Of course I hope that I leave behind me a trail of words that can point others to Christ and to truth decades after I’m gone, but paper burns. Ink fades. Files become corrupted.
If words are all I leave, I’ve failed.
For even if my words could surpass the masterpieces of Dickens and Shakespeare,
If I sang with the voice of an angel,
If the world remembers my name until the world stops turning,
As I’m looking at the above graphic, I’m thinking about how wrong it feels that 2023 will be here in less than two months…but I’m also so excited because it means this next book will be here in less than five months!
Book #2 will be another poetry book (surprise, surprise!), but as of yet, I’m not sharing many more details. There will be a cover reveal with a blurb coming soon, but for now I’m letting you guys guess as to what this next book may hold. Here’s your clue:
I love the way that music communicates where the written word falls short, and so I’ve been compiling a playlist of songs that share the themes I’m writing about in book #2. If you’re into music, go ahead and check out the playlist…and let me know in the comments if you have any guesses as to what the themes of book #2 might be!
Also…if you would be willing to be praying for me as I finish compiling these poems and start the manuscript on its journey to publication, I would be so grateful! God has truly been the one carrying Book #2 (and me!) through this process, and I can’t finish it on my own. I’d so appreciate prayers that:
I would be diligent in writing the rest of this poetry (my deadline for that is November 30th, and I have 12-15 to write yet😅).
God would give me the words to say and the way to say them.
Technology would cooperate with me! XD
Thank you so much for showing up to read and chat with me. I appreciate your support and encouragement so much, and I can’t wait to get this next book to you!!!
And so another month sinks beneath the dust of time…
Before we carry on with my typical format for this post, I want to give you some bad news, and then some good news.
The bad news: a few months ago I lost all of my contacts for my email list. (That’s why I haven’t been sending newsletters.)
The good news: You can sign up again for emails now (follow this link!)…and you’ll want to, because tomorrow I’m sending an email with some pretty exciting news that you won’t want to miss! So go ahead and sign up…as long as you don’t mind me saying hello in your inbox every month.:)
Things worth remembering
participating in a fun Instagram challenge hosted by my friend Victoria
frying up lots of apple fritters
jam sessions made even better with a cajon
an apple orchard adventure
raking corn stalks on a beautiful (and very dry and dusty) day
dozens and dozens of runzas
hauling silage for the last time this year
several deep (and some very strange) conversations
hikes with breathtaking views
a slumber party with Grandma, complete with hot chocolate and an old movie
pizza, more apple fritters, and Ole and Lena jokes with family
What I’ve been reading
Adorning the Dark – Andrew Peterson
…my expression, even if it is of the most intimate chambers of my heart, can lead the audience beyond me and to the Ultimate Self, the Word that made the world. In that grand chamber alone will art find its best end, as an avenue to lead the audience home.
Nothing to say but that several times during this book my soul has been screaming, “Yes! I’m not the only one?? Yes. Yes. Yes!!!” The truth. The beauty. Words can’t describe it.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or storytelling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.
So begins my foray into the wild and wonderful world of Tolkien. Not only is this making me laugh with its humor and smile over Tolkien’s golden descriptions, it’s convincing me that I, like Bilbo, am most likely a descendent of both the proper hobbits and the wilder Tooks. And now I’m absolutely sure I want to create a home like The Last Homely House.
If I give my best efforts only when I feel like it, or when it blesses me, then what will this accomplish? If I share my possessions with the needy, but am impatient about it, this counts for nothing.
This post was so convicting to me. Give it a read if you can.
From the journal
John 16:29-30 – The moment of the disciples’ strongest confidence in their Savior was followed by the greatest test of their faith. Lord, help Thou my unbelief! Make me unwavering in my trust and help me to remain humble and ever aware of my need for grace.
Oh, Lord, You knew all that was to come upon You and You walked forward to meet it anyway. What greater courage is there than this? Thank You for paving the way for me to walk in the most selfless of loves.
…inconsistency taints the picture I’m painting for others of You.
Oh, let me not stray from the path You have laid for me, whether that leads through meadows or minefields. The world roars so loudly, Lord…may I keep my ear close to Your song.
I was going to apologize for my lack of posting for the last couple of weeks, but then thought maybe I shouldn’t…because I’m not sorry for sparing you hastily pulled-together words just for the sake of saying I posted. So…sorry, not sorry.🙃
Just because I haven’t posted, though, doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’ve been working again on the project I started this summer and *cough cough* another project that I will likely be announcing sometime within the next few months. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes right now, and I am so excited to be able to share it with you!
Anyway, here’s September’s review…
Things worth remembering
Fresh zinnias and snapdragons from our little flower garden
Charring an apple over a bonfire…it did not live up to my expectations. Its tumble into the ashes didn’t improve the taste. At all.
The lovely photos of the moon I captured
Learning what to do (and what not to do) when a faulty latch locks you in the tractor
Walks by the lake
Dancing the polka with my dad
Gorgeous road trip weather
Harvesting corn silage
Visiting a writer friend at Bible college
Worship in the stairwell, late night talks and laughter, and dancing in the rain on aforementioned trip
Wandering a huge cemetery with a friend
What I’ve been reading
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
A most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup. The delivery boy was sixty-two years old, and there was no such person as Barney Northrup.
This mystery both cracked me up and blew my mind. It’s the perfect autumn read!
The White Cliffs – Alice Duerr Miller
Ah, they forget they cannot write their parts; the bell has rung, the curtain rises, and the stage is set for tragedy – they were in love and young.
I read this novel-in-verse last fall, and enjoyed it so much I decided to read it again.
The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip – Sara Brunsvold
As if sensing the widening gap, Admin Gal looked over her shoulder and came to a stop. “I can get you a wheelchair if you’d like, Mrs. Kip.”
“I think a race car would serve me better, honey.”
I’m halfway through this one and am loving it so much! The dual timeline, the different perspectives in the same scenarios, Clara Kip in general…it’s just so good. The descriptions are fresh and poignant. It’s perfection.:)
From the journal
Oh, Father, may I not mourn the death of this season. May I rejoice in You, gladly giving You all of me. Regardless of where it leads me.
I’m afraid to hand my plans to You. I’m afraid to let go of hopes I’ve held for so long. It’s ridiculous because I know You. I know You always handle things so much better than I do. Lord, I choose surrender. I choose to let go. I choose to raise open palms to You, waiting blindly in the darkness…
The devil tempted Jesus with that which belonged to Him, but it was not yet time for Him to take hold of it.
Let me carve my legacy in souls, Father!
“Whoever of you does not give up all claims to personal rights, ambitions, and dreams for My sake cannot be My disciple.” (paraphrase of Luke 14:33)
What were the highlights of your September? Have you been reading anything lately?
I haven’t shared much poetry on the blog lately, so I thought I’d share a few smaller poems here with you today, along with their backstories. Something about knowing the history of a poem just makes reading the poem itself so much more fun…at least in my book!
(I do share one poem a week over on Instagram, so if you aren’t following along there, click here to follow so you don’t miss a poem!)
voice in ink
I wrote this poem after reading a passage in Isaiah and wondering if I take God’s written Word as seriously as I would take a voice from heaven.
oh, soften my heart
to hear Your silent voice
and heed the ink
as though it were Your hand
Oh, goodness, I love this poem so much.😅 This one was inspired by the song “Homeward Bound”, which (fun fact) my ten-year-old self sang as my audition for a part in a stage production of “The Sound of Music”! I didn’t get a part, but the song has a special place in my heart because of that memory, and also because it really does apply to my own story so well. ❤
This one I wrote after reading Francis Beaumont’s incredible poem “On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey”. This is one of my rare truly structured poems, and something about it makes me feel like it belongs in an old, faded hardcover!
I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the gift of writing.
It really brings me so much joy. Being able to write poetry, blog posts, and pieces of flash fiction that encourage and bless others…man, it’s honestly such a fun blessing! But a while ago I caught myself talking about it with the Lord…
There were some other things I wanted, and I was bringing my requests to Him, just like He’s asked me to. In the middle of it all I caught myself saying, with vehement passion, “God, I would give up writing for that!”
It wasn’t until a few days later that the rudeness of that statement slapped me in the face like a putrid, rotting fish.
I seriously just told the God of the universe I didn’t want the gift He hand-picked for me.
Instead of marveling at the treasure and the weight of the commission He’d given me, I held it back to Him with the wrapping paper barely touched, tears filling my eyes, begging for a different gift in exchange.
Rude. Inexplicably, so despicably rude.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
God, in His unsearchable wisdom, set me on the path of writing. He may not choose to keep me here forever, but it’s the gift and the task that He’s set before me in this season, and I’m blessed to be able to embrace it with joy and gratefulness, choosing to set my eyes on Him and not merely on the gifts He gives.
Will I place my identity in His gifts? No. Will I choose to use them for His glory to the best of my abilities? Absolutely! And I pray that you will do the same. ❤
What are some gifts/opportunities that God has given you in this season? How are you/can you be using them for His praise today?
This month I’ve been going through Jonathan Babcock‘s 1 Month of Creative Writing Exercises, and I’ve really been enjoying them!
The other day I was supposed to write three completely different scenes, where someone trips and falls in a park, then rolls over to find someone smiling at them. I got a kick out of writing these, and I hope you enjoy reading them, as well!
“Sully! Is that you?”
Oh, no. That voice is all too familiar. I roll over on the sidewalk and see the suave smile I’d hoped never to see again after the day I walked out of Century High with no honors.
Good heavens, he doesn’t even have the compassion to extend a hand to help his old high school rival. His carefully-arranged facial features never shift as I grunt and heave and shove myself into an upright position. I brush the dead leaves from my hair and shirt, wishing I was one of them. “I haven’t seen you in forever.”
“Evidently not much has changed.” Jared brushes an imaginary leaf from his own immaculate shirt sleeve.
The little girl rolled over, tears starting in her eyes. Her knee was burning, and no doubt bleeding from the sudden contact it had with the walking trail.
“Hey, are you okay?”
The boy standing over her couldn’t be more than six years old. Orange hair poked out at random from his hastily-donned cap, and his green eyes expressed concern.
“Uh, I think so…my knee really hurts.”
“Gee, it really hurts when you skin your knee. I did that the other day, and I couldn’t run right for a while.” The boy got down next to her and looked at the wound. “Hey, it’s not that bad! My mom’s right over there; she’s got some bandaids.”
“Hey, do I know you?”
Dave sure hoped the girl didn’t. He hastily scrambled to his feet, wincing a bit as his scraped knees protested the movement. He took a closer look at her. “Uh…”
“Youth group!” She pointed in sudden realization. “You’re the new kid! David, was it?”
“Uh, yeah!” He squinted, and she grinned.
“Kathy.” She shifted the backpack she had slung over one shoulder and stuck out a hand. “Nice to meet you again! Are you okay?”
“Just scratched.” David took a closer look at the girl and decided he better not play up his injuries. She looked like she could fight a bear and come out victorious.
Which story was your favorite? Do you enjoy writing exercises? If you’d like to access the resource 1 Month of Creative Writing Exercises, click here to subscribe to Jonathan’s newsletter!
Goodness sakes…this was most definitely a month to remember.
You know the writing challenge I told you I was doing this July? Well, I got about 5k words written of the 20k I wanted. But I’m going to let myself be okay with falling flat on my writer’s face, because this month took the cake in terms of real-life plot twists and adventures. So much of it made me laugh. A lot of it made me cry. But I saw God’s hand and knew His presence so clearly this month, and we’ll close it out in His praise. ❤
Things worth remembering…
Sitting by the lake and just drinking in the beauty of all of the sights and sounds and smells.
Taking goofy photos with my sisters.
Fresh veggies from the garden!!
Holding my brand-new cousin in the hospital…my heart! *happy sigh*
Being there with my family when my Grandpa left his earthly home to see the Lord face to face. I had never experienced anything like that, and the raw pain and beauty of that evening was beyond belief.
Lots and lots of hugs. ❤
Completing 20 revolutions around the sun.
Gifts and a handmade birthday card from some guys in my youth group…they have no idea how much that made my week. ❤
Bingeing Doctor Thorne with my Grandma into the wee hours. 11/10 recommend.
A weekend with cousins…the sweetest and weirdest memories made with the sweetest and weirdest souls. May Morgan, the Jensens, the fruit kabobs, and the couch (was it really free?) live forever in our hearts.
Getting my brothers graduated!!!! Another weekend with cousins and the dearest friends.
He looked confused and ashamed, and said, with embarrassment, “I beg a thousand pardons. I did not know you had a burglar alarm, else I would have rung it.”
Oh, this short story gave me a good laugh!
From the journal
A new month = new mercies.
My mood is very fragile…I woke up and the fact that everyone had polished off the bagels before I’d had one nearly ruined my day. (I have to laugh at myself sometimes…XD)
I was getting a headache, borderline snapped at people, and morphed into a silent, weary, glowering, ham-gobbling state of torpid existence. (…) Oh, Lord, let me bow only to Your heart, not the selfish dictates of my own.
It’s one thing to grapple with death. It’s another to realize that someone will never again be in your life, making new memories with you.
The Spirit in me is the one that gave Samson his strength; give me the strength, Lord, to love fully and abundantly, and to live this day to the hilt.
How was your July? What were the highlights? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!