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A Poet & Didn’t Know It

I’m no poet. Whenever I have tried to write poetry in the past, it has come out sounding more like “Roses are red, violets are blue…” than Dickinson, Keats, Thoreau or Wordsworth. Yes, as a matter of fact, I did have to look up those names because I couldn’t remember any of them from my high school or college literature courses. The truth is, I probably couldn’t remember because poetry didn’t interest me back then. I couldn’t decipher all the allusions and allegory, all the hidden depths of meaning in what seemed like simple words to me. Why did the shining sun have to be personified to mean something more than it was a pretty day outside? Couldn’t we just be content that something rhymed? Okay, rant over. Moving on…

To write, or not to write… Hmmmmm

I found it strange yesterday when, during my time alone with the Lord, He spoke to my heart and mind in poetic form. That had never happened to me before. I have formed the habit of writing down what I sense Him saying each morning, but I paused that day, unsure what to do with what I thought He was saying. All I knew to do was what I do every day. So as He spoke, I penned. When He stopped, and I stopped, I was stunned. And as I looked back over the words on the page, I read a poem.

Now, as I’ve declared, I’m no expert when it comes to knowing good poetry from rank amateur. My literary palette is similar to my tastebuds… I don’t need great quality to feed my belly and enjoy it with family or friends. Yet I could tell this was not my work. (There were no roses or violets.) And stranger still, it spoke to me. It moved me. Beyond that, I grasped its meaning as it touched my soul.

Oddly enough, I never thought of God as a poet. I’ve always engaged Him in dialogue prose form. Not sure why it surprised me so. He is Creator. He created beauty. He created music. He created nature. He created us with creative minds… some of us creative enough to write poetry.

Still, there was more to this. I felt it went beyond me, my needs, my life situations. It seemed to be for others as well. And at His prompting, I determined I would share it. You may read it and not view it as great poetry. That’s okay. It’s probably not for you. (And don’t worry… I won’t tell God you didn’t think His poetry was awesome.) But for someone— or perhaps even more than one someone— this will breathe life into your soul. And that is why I share it today. So, whether you are poetic or not, sit back… relax… and listen to God speak these sing-song words over you in this moment…

Day is dawning
Night is fading, over.
Light is streaming, gleaming
Darkness no more, heaviness no more
Night is over, over.
Peace and joy and life abundant
Streaming, streaming
Bursting in, flowing over.
Swim and dive and float
In its beauty, in its grandeur
In abundant waves and ripples
Laughing, celebrating, swirling.
Embracing, enjoying
Mysterious, miraculous, momentous
Light, bright
New vision, new sight.
Night is gone, over
No more, no more
Light forevermore.

I suppose if you’re a poet or a poetry aficionado, you may not have been overwhelmed, but I sat back and just read it over and over. I have never penned anything even close, and so I know it wasn’t from my heart or mind. That means, then, that the creative God who loves me deeply and speaks to me daily chose to speak to me in a special way yesterday… in a way He never has before. That, my friend, is fresh, vibrant, and life-giving.

I hope this spoke to you. If it did, please be sure to let me know. I’d love to hear how it impacted you as you let it soak into your soul.

Finally!

A 12-Year Old Miracle

This is for those who have been longing & not yet received what they have prayed for…

Thirteen years ago yesterday, Angela took a pregnancy test, and for the first time in seven years of battling the hurt, emptiness and longing of infertility, it read positive. We had suffered so long, we couldn’t believe it… literally. So she took another pregnancy test. Again, it read positive. I don’t remember if we took any more that day. It seems like she did. We were beside ourselves with new found joy & hope.

We went to our family doctor to confirm before going to an OB-GYN. That doctor told us she had never seen a level of the identifying hormone which signifies positive pregnancy as what Angela was exhibiting. I believe her exact words to Angela were, “Baby, you’re not just pregnant… You are PREG-NANT!”

Sure enough, about 9 months later, God let us hold that little miracle in our hands. Alex was born, and our hearts expanded to welcome him into our family. Then two and a half years later, God did it again… this time granting us the gift of another boy, Austin.

Perhaps you have been longing for something to come about in your life… praying daily or more often than that for it to happen… but nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Maybe you’re tempted to give up. Let me encourage you to keep hanging on to any promise God has given you. Don’t give up. I know it’s hard. I know you don’t understand why it’s taking so long. Honestly, we still don’t know why we had to wait seven painful years. But we do know this… the joy outweighs the sorrow.

God hasn’t forgotten about you. He’s not mad at you… even if you’re mad at Him. He’s not against you or out to get you. He’s not punishing you.

Hang in there… you never know when that miracle is going to take place. Today might just be the day you’ve been dreaming of!

21,868 I Do’s

Sixty years. Well, okay… 59 years, 333 days. That’s how long my parents were married. That’s 21,868 “I Do’s.” That’s because that is how many days they got up and made the choice all over again to live in committed love to the person they said “I do” to in front of the minister in the little church back on March 26, 1960.

They were the first example in my life of what it meant to love someone on purpose. And they didn’t fall out of love because they didn’t fall in love. Oh, I’m sure there were initially some giddy feelings of romance they felt when they were first dating, engaged and married. And I’m sure those feelings deepened over the years. But they deepened because— each day— both of them made the choice to love the other one. For better or worse… and they did indeed experience both in those 60 years. For richer or poorer… yep, did that one and got the t-shirt to prove it. In sickness and in health… they definitely both ponied up on that one. Forsaking all others… totally, all day, every day. I can’t type the last part because it’s just too soon, but you know what it is… and they made it all the way to the end!

I know my experience isn’t what everyone else’s is. Some of you may read this, and it may sound as foreign to you as a language or culture you’ve never experienced because your family’s history doesn’t read anything like this. And I know that some folks face terrible situations in marriages in which it is safer for them to get out. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. You see, I also had the privilege of marrying someone whose parents did the exact same as mine. Nearly six decades of steady, committed love. And so we came into our marriage with legacy… with examples… with up-close and personal insights into what it looks like to choose to love.

Choosing to love means overlooking the other person’s mistakes and faults… and loving them anyway. Choosing to love means doing the actions of love even when the emotions may not be there at the moment. Choosing to love means sacrificing for the other person and compromising for the good of both.

I’m so proud of my parents. Mom & Dad, you crushed it! You nailed it! And in the process, you taught me how to live out a committed love.

My heart breaks today in some ways because you didn’t get to officially hit that big 6-0 milestone… just 32 days short. But then I see you, Mom… how you have honored Dad still every day over the past month. And I see how hard Dad worked to make sure that he provided for you even after he moved to Heaven. And for that, I am calling it 60 years. Congratulations! And thanks for the example. I got it loud and clear!

Twenty-Four

Twenty-four years ago today… she said, “I do.” And for twenty-four years, she has. Today I get the privilege of celebrating twenty-four years of wedded bliss with my best friend, Angela!

She is deeply spiritual… fiercely loyal… faithfully committed… ultra-compassionate… uber selfless… and yes, smokin’ hot! Not everyone gets the honor and privilege of knowing her so closely. If you did, you’d discover that she is even more amazing than you already know her to be.

I love how talented she is… how she wants to do things with excellence… how she nurtures and looks after those she loves… how cunning and sneaky she can be to surprise someone with something nice or to play a prank on someone… and yes, I love her cooking!

Scripture says that when God daw Adam, he saw that it was not good for him to be alone. He needed a companion. I’m pretty sure the Lord looked at me and thought the same thing. So He blessed me. He brought Angela alongside me to share this journey of life, and I am so thankful that He did.

All of our days have not been perfect. Our story has its rises and falls. But I wouldn’t trade a moment of it spent with her.

When I call her PR31, I reference the Proverbs 31 woman whom she so closely resembles in every subtle nuance. Today, I rise and call her blessed because of who she is, and because of her faithful love shared with me. And yet… I feel like I am the one who is blessed because I get to share this life with her.

Today, I thank the Lord 8,760 days we’ve shared so far… and look forward to all the days ahead we get to share together! May they be more than double that!!!

The Power of Dreams

Go ahead and dream. Just see what the God who can surpass your imagination can do!

Keep Trying

I grew up in the city, and so building a fire on your property was something that was actually prohibited by law… and the home owners association rules. So, you can imagine why one of the reasons living on four beautiful acres in the middle of a wooded community with no restrictions appeals to me is the freedom to build a fire when and where I want on our property.

Now, I was a decent Royal Ranger– the boys program at our church which included camping, knot-tying, and building fires along with memorizing Scripture and helping others. During my tenure as a Royal Ranger, I was taught fire safety, and still try to abide by those guidelines.

But we build some fires at our place! Some roaring ones. (I mean, how are you going to make s’mores if you can’t build a fire?) When we first moved out here, it took me awhile to get back in the swing of building a good fire. But slowly, along with some help from YouTube, the boys and I have become pretty proficient at causing wood to flame.

Today was different, though, for some reason. I had collected some small branches and twigs which had rotted and fallen out of trees, and put them in the burn pile. I grabbed my dryer lint, my old mail advertisements and one of those long lighters. I piled the sticks just right. They were small and dry. They should have practically burst into flame. But I almost couldn’t get the thing to take off.

Thing is, I really needed to get that fire going because I had two small trees on our property which had died and needed to be taken down. There was going to be a lot of wood to burn, and I couldn’t seem to keep the flames alive. I kept adding advertisements, re-lighting dwindling embers, adding more lint. At one point, I was tempted to give up. But I knew I couldn’t. There was too much to do. I needed that fire.

So, I kept nursing it. I kept feeding it. I kept re-lighting it. And then it happened. Some of the twigs finally caught fire. And when they did, they flamed up and caught other sticks on fire. Soon, I had a decent enough amount of heat and bed of embers below the flames to know that I could keep adding all the wood I would need to today. In fact, the picture above is the last of the wood I added just a couple hours ago.

As I was trying– and not succeeding– earlier this morning with my attempts to get the fire going and keep it going, I realized that this can happen to each of us spiritually sometimes. We feel like all the fire in us has died out, and nothing we try seems to get it really going. We go to church. We listen to worship songs. We read the Bible and pray like the preacher told us would help. But no flame. Nothing lasting. Oh, maybe a quick little flare-up at a conference or service. But nothing that keeps the burning of God’s presence and power alive in us.

If that’s where you’re at today, I want to encourage you to do what I did with this literal fire today… Keep trying! Keep reading God’s Word. Pick up a devotional book that grabs your attention. Keep talking TO God even if you don’t feel like you’re talking WITH God. Keep the worship music playing… and sing along. Keep going to church… even if some of the people aren’t perfect and everything isn’t exactly the way you’d prefer. Keep trying. Because at some point, God will honor your commitment and faithfulness. He will burst into flame in your life, and you will be so glad you didn’t give up. Whatever you do, keep trying!

Tricky-Tricky

If you haven’t figured it out by now, our family really likes to enjoy most holidays. Angela is super creative, and always seems to have some fun little ways we can make a holiday enjoyable for the boys.

Now, April Fool’s Day may not be the biggest holiday on the calendar, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we are going to prank each other plenty on that day. In fact, we enjoyed it so much this year that, as we put the boys to bed that night, they asked if we could extend it and make it April Fool’s Week. We gladly obliged, and the shenanigans began.

Toward the end of day 2, Alex had gotten Angela pretty good once or twice, and she had promised to get him back. His mind began swirling with ways she might try to prank him. As the boys got into bed, Alex kept looking all over trying to see how she was going to get him. She told him, “Oh, it may not be tonight. You don’t know when it’s going to be.” He could hardly stand it.

Later, she revealed to me that she didn’t have a prank set up. The prank was that she was trying to make him think she had one planned. Thus, he would go around the rest of the week looking under every cover and around every corner trying to avoid being pranked… all the while not knowing that WAS the prank.

Kind of reminds me how the ol’ devil works on us. He tries to trick us into thinking that he can do something to us, when in reality he has no authority or power over us unless we give it to him. He was defeated by God when God kicked him out of Heaven after a failed coup. He was defeated at the Cross when Jesus died for our sins, and at the Tomb when Jesus rose from the dead, sealing victory for us over death, hell, and the grave.

So the next time the devil threatens that he is going to get you, don’t sweat it. Ignore him. He’s trying to make you think he’s got something planned that is going to take you out, but he doesn’t… because he can’t! His plan is simply to make you think he can and thereby cause you to worry and fret, giving into fear so that he can manipulate you. Just look that ol’ liar in the eyes, and tell him to bring it! He’ll skulk away like the trickster he is, and you will chalk up another tally mark in God’s victory column.