Psalm 23 in the Letter S

I recently came upon a delightful challenge to biblical meditation specially tailored for us #wordnerds. The challenge is to rewrite Psalm 23 alliteratively, that is, using a single letter for as many words as possible. I’ve now also completed (to the best of my ability) the letter Q, and you’ll find it at the bottom. But in the meantime, here’s my meditation using the letter S. I hope it blesses you. Find L and G at the link above.

Psalm 23 in the Letter S

The Sovereign is my shepherd,
I am sufficiently supplied. Continue reading

I’m not the first

I’m not the first to make a long drive
up a familiar four-lane,
to shake hands with an earnest doctor
who bears more bad news than any one person should bear.

I’m not the first to swallow vomit
and grab the glass door of an ICU room
as my own breath is ripped away
by the ragged breathing of one I love. Continue reading

Speechless Worship

The further I move into Psalms, the less I have to say. What, after all, am I to say to or about the Creator and Sustainer of the universe? More and more, I read my Psalm for the day, and I just sit back…taking it in…repeating the most meaningful parts. More and more, the only words I have are His. That’s why I call it Speechless Worship.
I’ve never done anything like this before, but today, I invite you to join me in this photo meditation. (All photos are mine. Please don’t use without permission.)

Continue reading

Elegy for the Oxford Comma

In all language silence is as important as sound. But more often than not we are merely impatient with the silence.” -Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer

It was a quieter time, a calmer day
When people didn’t have so much to say
When thoughtfulness reigned
And answers restrained
Until we’d had time to reflect. …

For some reason, I’m occasionally sad that we only put one space after punctuation these days. It led me to think about how writing has changed, not just typographically but structurally, which led me to write an elegy for those missing punctuation marks and spaces. Because, as a reader, I miss them.

I stopped in at Almost an Author today to make fun of myself with the poem (of which you see the first stanza above) and to share my “two cents” on writing. It’s probably more like half of one cent. (Seriously, I’m amazed that they wanted to share it.) Anyway, if you are interested in writing narrative or if you want to see what happens when I try to write poetry that rhymes, here’s the link. In the lower half of the post, I share “3 Ways to Create Breathing Room in Your Writing,” which is the serious part of the post.

 

Almost An Author

100th-Post Celebration and Giveaway!

Celebration

I didn’t know it until WordPress told me, but last week’s post was my 100th on this blog! What is more, since mid-September 2015, I’ve blogged every single week. Seems like it’s time to celebrate, doesn’t it? Today, I’m highlighting some of my earlier posts: stories and studies that you may have missed because you weren’t following me yet. I’ve revamped them to match my current format, adding pictures, subtitles, better tags, etc.

Giveaway

Take a look at a few posts that interest you (from the list below or from the archives) and leave a comment here. Tell me which posts you read (or re-read) this week and which post, out of all 100!, has been significant to you. Everyone who comments will be entered in a drawing to win one free digital copy of Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper. Even if you’re not a big Piper fan, this easy-to-read book includes his personal testimony and some fantastic encouragement. In fact, it was part of my impetus to start writing. Read more about the book by scrolling down on the I Just Read… page.

Want more ways to enter the drawing? You can…

  1. Follow this blog (sidebar on the right).
  2. Follow me on Twitter.
  3. Follow me on Instagram.
  4. Like my Facebook page.

I’ll include your name again for each action. The drawing will take place on Friday, July 29, 2016, so you only have one week!

Here are the updated posts.

Miracles

A - bird at pool
(c) Carole Sparks

God’s Priority: His Kingdom – When Jesus chose to heal the crippled man beside the pool of Bethesda, He had a particular purpose in mind.

 

 

 

stream bed
(c) Carole Sparks

Whaddaya Want? – What is the purpose of prayer? Here’s one answer, found in a miracle of Jesus.

Stories/Analogies

“Story remains a basic human path toward the discovery and ordering of meaning and beauty.” –Jane Hirshfield

07-27 roller coaster (6)
Six Flags Over Georgia (c) Carole Sparks

Faith is in the Gap* – Remember the last time you rode a roller coaster? I make a comparison here between the experience of climbing onto the roller coaster and faith in our lives. It’s a creative, fun piece.

 

 

castle
castle near Kaub, Germany (c) Carole Sparks

The Ball Gown – A Parable – Sometimes people are hesitant to put their spiritual gifts on display, thinking they will detract from God. This flash fiction piece (though I didn’t know that term when I wrote it) dispels that idea.

 

 

Poetry

“The process of revising a poem is no arbitrary tinkering, but a continued honing of the self at the deepest level.” –Jane Hirshfield

08-27 Greece (121)
Parthenon Museum, Athens (c) Carole Sparks

Who Am I? – a poem about identity that, ironically, is Not About Me.

 

 

 

 

12-16 Kizimkazi sunset (2)
(c) Carole Sparks

Flat Earth Society – This is probably my favorite poem on the blog. Let me know what you think about it.

 

 

 

07-03 2014 Bristol Caverns (14)
Bristol Caverns (c) Carole Sparks

Illumination – I was thinking about spiritual blindness and how we come to truly see.

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”-Matthew 3:1-3 (Isaiah 40:3)

I was flipping through some old journals the other day, and I found this poem about John the Baptist from November 2006. I thought it would be fun to share it with you (with a few edits).

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

“Behold: The Lamb of God!”
Then my head began to nod.
Yes, looking back, I can see
The boy this man used to be.
He always was a different sort
Though He liked games and every sport.
He was gentle, kind and good
Obeyed His mother, worked with wood.
I saw the Spirit land on Him—
The One God promised Abraham
I shouldn’t even tie His shoe
But God sent me to shout to you.
Look! People, can’t you see?
Messiah stands in front of me.
This is Him—the Son of God—
Walking here on muddy sod.
Listen! People, can’t you hear?
The words He speaks: hold each one dear.
His days are numbered here on earth
You are what His life is worth.
It’s not me; it’s Him you seek,
This one you’ll spit on, say He’s weak.
Oh Son of God, my cousin, friend
My life is Yours until the end.

Slow Motion

(A friend died last week.)

even in slow motion

each step jars loose a memory

which invariably spawns a tear

that thickens my droughty throat

so the words wash across my tongue unintelligibly

in some Seuss-like contraption

that has overtaken my brain

so I turn to go

but that’s

another

step

Illumination

Everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  -Paul (Ephesians 5:1)

Born in the dark
blindfolded
hands tied behind our backs

.

We stumble around
hurting ourselves
hurting each other
hesitating while navigating the pitfalls
and the pleasures
without sight or touch

.

Why are we shocked by the pain?
Why can’t we stifle the screams?

.

This can’t be right.

.

We know we’re in bondage
even while we claim to be free
We walk and speak
            well, stumble and squeak
and puff up our chests with fake freedom

.

We make attachments
tying our bound hands to hers
trying to quell confusion and pain

.

But the opposite occurs
            the confusion coalesces
            the pain progresses

.

so we tear off the attachment
tumbling teary-eyed toward anyone

.

No one answers

.

Then we hear the step of Another
who doesn’t stumble or scream
still through the blindfold
we sense more than see

.

Light

.

for the first time
            and we’re scared

.

Another knows something we don’t
Another reaches out with free hands
Another touches our bindings and blindfolds

.

But we jerk away
afraid of this foreign Freedom
            not founded on fortune or fate

.

Another comforts
Another holds our hand
willingly
without ropes or regulations
until real Freedom feels like a friend

.

Then Another cuts the bindings
our newly-freed hands lift the blindfold

.

We blink

.

Our pale eyes crease
our pupils release
Light surrounds us
Freedom fills us
Understanding inflates us
Love saturates us

.

Eyes adjusted
we see Reality beyond this Light
            and it is dark

.

Locate the Light
Another doesn’t hold it
now Light sourced in us
shines out of us

.

and we turn to free the next stumbling stranger

.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. –Jesus (John 12:46)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. –Paul (Ephesians 5:8)

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