Denial

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Happy Fall and welcome to September!

The past few months of relative quietness here have been a period of thinking for me. I’ve asked myself, why do I do this–write, especially poetry? Why do I post it here? Do I want to keep doing this?

This June before holidays I lived under a cloud of particularly thick ennui. Maybe I should just stop writing altogether… but what would I do? 

It has been good for me to ponder these questions.

In the beginning of August, after a great holiday (and a writing break) I felt revived but continued to wrestle with, what do I do in the fall with the poetry blog?

As a Christian, perhaps it was to be expected that I would need to get as close as possible to the bone in quizzing myself. The question that finally floated into my mind to help me sort through this is from the Shorter Westminster Catechism:

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

In applying that Q&A to my situation I asked, would I be glorifying God if I stopped writing, that is, using the talent and expanding the skill and interest in words that is part of who I am?

Does it please Him when I squirrel away my writing in binders on the shelf? Do any of us have insights and realizations just for ourselves? Or are they given to bless and help others along the way? (Not that I ever feel that everything one writes needs to be shared!)

How can I better glorify Him with what I do?

Can I do that here?

How would it look?

I have decided as a result of introspection and prayer to be more open and candid about my faith in the poems I post here. In other words, in the days ahead you’ll find more poems that reflect my spiritual pilgrimage and beliefs. Of course I’ll also still write about nature and other topics that catch my fancy.

Enough philosophizing! It’s time for a poem. This is one I found in my binder, written a number of years ago.

Crow

Crow – Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly

Denial

Me: This lamp will be perfect for the table where my husband studies.
Clerk: What does he study?
Me: Uh, uh, …oh stuff.

He studies the Bible.
I know that.
It’s really the only thing he studies.
But did I say it?

No.

Automatically I veer toward cowardice.
My default setting: Be private about your faith
After all you don’t want to appear
odd, different or, heaven forbid,
be expected to explain!

On my way through the park
crows call triplet caws
and I hang my head
embarrassed, ashamed
robbed of excuses.

I will go
into my closet
and weep.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

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Added September 3rd: My Poetry Friday friend Margaret Simon invited me to join in on “Spiritual Journey Thursday” hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning where this week’s theme is “paying attention.” Thank you, ladies! I hope you teachers don’t mind being joined by an ex- who has been away from the classroom lo these many years, but who is still trying to pay attention to what God is teaching her.

What’s up, and a giveaway

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Aside from the blog hop posts and the March almanac, I’ve taken a break from blogging this month. From February 14th till March 17th I was away at my daughter and son-in-law’s home in northern BC. I was there to help with a new baby that joined their family on February 24th. What a happy event!

Then on March 2nd something not-so-happy happened. I mis-stepped on a couple of stairs and tumbled down to land on and fracture my right hip. Ouch! Fortunately I was near a hospital with good orthopaedic doctors and had surgery to repair the fracture on March 3rd.

Now I’m back home, hobbling about with a cane and trying to follow doctors’ orders about what I can and can’t do in my recovering state. Thankfully sitting is no problem and neither is typing.

Hip Kit

My new best friends: cane, picker, long-handled sponge, shoehorn, sock dresser, Kindle, & two-wheeled walker

While away I read several books. I’ll be posting reviews of some of them in the days ahead.

Loveology by John Mark ComerAlso, while away the generous people who provided me with a copy of Loveology to REVIEW sent another copy of the book to give away. If you’d like to win this excellent hardcover book, enter your wish and your name in the comments below. I’ll draw for the winner a week from today, April 1st. (Sorry, but due to the cost of mailing parcels internationally, I will only take entries from Canada & the U.S.)

One more thing. After three months I’ve decided to drop the monthly Freelance Writer Almanac posts. They are very time consuming to put together, I’m not convinced they are that useful, and I’ve decided to spend the time they take on other things.

January Sunshine

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Meadowlark on a fence post.

Meadowlark photographed at Blackie’s Spit, White Rock B.C. in January 2007.

Thanks to Keri at Keri Recommends and Dorraine Bennet at Dori Reads for adding wonderful rays of sunshine to my day and, over the last little while, nominating this blog for a SUNSHINE AWARD!  That’s definitely the way to brighten up a foggy January!

Here are the (flexible) rules:

1. Acknowledge the nominating bloggers
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger creates for you
4. List 11 bloggers you nominate for a Sunshine Award.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 Facts
– I’m the oldest of nine. I grew up on a farm. I love my garden more than it loves me. Chocolate and more chocolate please. I get into breakfast habits—current one: porridge and yogurt with fruit. I despise buying shoes. We got our first computer in 1991. In another life I was a medical transcriptionist.  I hate being cold. I crochet when I watch TV. I love the sport of curling (watching not playing).

11 Questions from Keri / Dorraine (I picked some from both)

1. A book you wish you had written?
Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca – that is one cool book!

2. Next place you hope to visit?
Dawson Creek, B.C. That’s in the northeast of our province (where it is winter in earnest).  I’m planning to visit in February to help with the grands when my daughter’s little one is due.

3. Early bird or night owl?
Early bird.

4. Comedy or drama?
Drama

5. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
No music or if I do, it can’t have any words. Music with lyrics is way too distracting for me to write by.

6. Best thing your mother taught you?
It’s okay to make a mess when you’re creating something.

7. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Turn on the coffee (which my husband has set up the night before) and shower.

8. When you’re in a crowd, do you find a corner or work the room?
Corner—trying to get better at working the room.

9. Something you like to cook/bake?
Cookies—especially chocolate chip.

10. Beach or mountains?
Beach.

11. What makes you smile?
British humour.

Passing the Sunshine Award on to these bloggers because they brighten my day!

Kiwiskan – at Kiwisoar
Ellen Grace Olinger at Poems from Oostburg, Wisconson
Catherine at Catherine Johnson
Magical Mystical Teacher
Joy Acey at Poetry for Kids Joy
Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup
Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids
Diane Mayr at Random Noodling
CallingForth
Mary Waind at Beech Croft Tales

And now here are 11 questions from me if choose to play along (please don’t feel obligated).

1. What’s your favourite ice-cream?
2. What was your biggest childhood fear?
3. What’s your hobby?
4. Are there any skills you had as a kid but have lost?
5. What’s your favourite weather?
6. Do you write first drafts with pen or at the keyboard?
7. Were you happy with your name as a kid? If not, what did you wish it was?
8. Do you prefer reading books or watching movies?
9. What’s your favourite section in the library?
10. What’s your favourite city? Why?
11. In sports are you a player or spectator?

Blog Gremlins

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Blog Gremlins

Months and months of work
an index linked with care
hundreds of blog posts
I’d find each one from there.

One day its permalink
I clicked to make a change
before my startled eye
not only rearranged

but totally replaced
and in its place the page
I had been working on!
I was in shock, enraged

I back-clicked, pressed “Undo”
closed, exited and feared
re-opened, fears confirmed
my index disappeared.

Who ate my bits and bytes
exchanging them for prose?
Wait till I meet those nerds
I’ll punch them in the nose!

© 2013 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This poem is written for the November 30th prompt: “Write a disappearing poem. Simple as that….”

The event described above really happened to me. I write a daily devotional blog and had made index pages on my Blogger blog (Old and New Testament) linking each post under its  Bible book in chapter order. One day when I went to update that page with the URL of the piece I had just written (in my usual way) my index was gone, entirely replaced with the post I had just been working on! How that happened I have no idea.

Fortunately I had saved that Blogger index page some months earlier as a Word.doc and was keeping it updated (sort of). I have since taken the index pages off the site, so the gremlins no longer have access to them (I don’t think…).  And of course the ‘punch in the nose’ bit is all in fun and in the service of rhyme. I know, it’s hardly in keeping with the “turn the other cheek” attitude the Bible tells us to have.

AND WITH THIS POEM I COMPLETE THE NOVEMBER CHAPBOOK CHALLENGE.

I DID IT!!! I wrote 30 new poems this month.

Blogging changes in 2013

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Blog button“For many of us, the heart of our home base is our blog. It’s where our best thinking lives, the place where others can comment and interact with us, the nexus of our social network,” says Michael Hyatt in his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

He goes on to advise would-be bloggers, in eight steps, how to set up or restart a blog. His first step is “Determine a theme.”

Now I’ve been blogging themeless (at my personal blog promptings) for years and it’s been a lot of fun. However, in the last few weeks (actually ever since I started  blogging here at my website), I’ve been mulling over whether it’s time to establish a theme, what that should be, and how it would look in blog format.

In a recent Author Media webinar  Thomas Umstattd echoed Hyatt’s advice. “Find your niche,” he said. “Don’t copy the competition.” His explanation of a blogging theme in relation to other writing we do was most helpful. He said something like, “Imagine your book is the DVD. Then your blog would be the extras on that DVD—the outtakes, the extra scenes, the interesting facts that never made it into the main feature, the interviews with the actors…”

And so I’ve been asking myself, what is my niche, and what extra features would be on my DVD?

‘Writing’ seems the obvious answer to niche. It’s what I know best.  But does the world need yet another writing blog? There are writing blogs galore written by people with a lot more expertise and success than I have.

Another blogging possibility comes to mind as I review what I have written about, and love to write about—the Bible. I have found a lot of inspiration in it. I’ve written a year’s worth of Bible-based devotions for kids. I write daily devotions for adults. In 2012 I published a book of biblical fiction based on the story of the exodus with fictional characters inspired by characters straight from the Bible.

What ties all these writings together is what I am attempting to do in them: BRING THE BIBLE TO LIFE. That is:

1] make the Bible come alive for readers

as I

2] apply Bible teachings and principles to modern life.

Lately I’ve been thinking I could blog about that! In the coming year I’m going to try. In that vein I plan to offer you some of these “DVD extras” in 2013:

  • Articles on the history of the Bible and how it came to us. If you’ve wondered how we ever got this collection of 66 books we call the Bible, posts on Bible history might answer some of your questions.
  • An exploration of various Bible study methods and helps. If your Bible study feels stale and you’re ready for something new, stay tuned. We just might explore a method or find books and helps that breathe new life into your study.
  • An introduction to some of my favourite Bible illustrators from the past. The whole realm of Bible illustration is fascinating. For example, how did/do Bible illustrators know what to dress their characters in? Are they always true to history, or do other factors (like interpretation, symbols, contextualizing the scenes so that contemporary readers can visualize themselves in the picture) play a part?
  • Interviews with living authors, translators, illustrators, and others who work closely with the Scripture. Friends of ours are Bible translators. Some of the dilemmas they face as they attempt to put the Bible into the mother tongue of a culture strange to them are fascinating.
  • Stories of the Bible’s impact on people’s lives.
  • Monthly Bible-inspired writing prompts for fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
  • Reviews of books, especially books that bring the Bible to life. In this department I’m going to focus on biblical fiction but I will continue to review other types of books as well.

Of course I’m open to other topics as well. What would help bring the Bible to life for you? I’d love to hear your suggestions (leave them in comments).

If you enjoy the Bible and would like to find out more about this best seller of all time, why don’t you join me? I’ll be updating once or twice a week.

Liebster love

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liebster-blog-award1

I’ve been nominated, ahem, this blog has been nominated for an award—the Liebster award. Though I have been blogging for years in different places, this blog has been running only a few weeks, so I am honoured to get this shout out!

Tracy Lee Karner,  a virtual acquaintance from a different time and place, nominated me.  We reconnected a few months ago after being out of touch for years and our re-acquaintance was accompanied in me by a sense of  ‘rightness’—like the feeling you get when you meet an old friend from high school in your new town and find you still want to be friends.

To accept this Liebster I must do two things:  answer Tracy’s questions, and pass on the Liebster love to a few more blogs.

Tracy asked:

1.Which musical instrument do you wish you could expertly play?

My answer: Though I adore the dulcet tones of the flute and I find my feet tapping or sashaying to the fiddle, I’d love to play something to which I could sing along, but that also has deep roots in folk music. So I pick the MANDOLIN.

2. Who do you really admire?

My answer: Ravi Zacharias—a person with the brain power to slice and dice philosophies and theories, along with an incredible memory for poetry and story, all bound together by an unflinching loyalty to Jesus Christ and the gospel.

3. What (one thing, or as many as you want to name) do you always keep in your cupboard or fridge?

My answer: Yogurt (made by me using our own Yougourmet yogurt maker).

4. What (one thing, or as many as you want to name) do you wish you could afford to always keep in your cupboard or fridge?

My answer: Fresh nectarines—or any out-of-season fresh fruit.

5. Which song or snippet,  when you hear it, gets stuck on rewind in your head and what do you do to unstick it?

My answer: I’m terribly suggestible and so any song can get stuck in my head and many do. Mostly I enjoy the private concert. If I’m really needing to manually move the needle, I turn on other music or start humming another tune.

And now I get to pass on  the bloggy love.

My Liebster nominees are:

{{{{{Drum roll please}}}}

  • Happily Writing  (Ramona Heikel). Ramona is a freelance writer-friend who shares my love of murals and sends me photos of them to post on my mural blog! She certainly deserves a Liebster!
  • Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference  (Tabatha Yeatts).  Tabatha is a blogger I met through Poetry Friday. She always draws our attention to interesting, quirky, thought-provoking things, usually poetry or kid-lit-related. On top of blogging she has organized a couple of poem swaps which have inspired poets to do more than just leave comments on each others verses (as in send each other poems via snail mail—what a concept!)
  • Grains of Sand  (Lynda Schultz). Lynda blogs devotional and inspirational posts that appear regularly in my RSS feed.  She is always motivating and encouraging!
  • Storygal’s Blog  (Carolyn Wilker). Someone who calls herself Storygal is sure to have a story up her sleeve, even when she’s accepting an award.

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To accept the award:
1. List five random facts about yourself
2. Pass the Liebster award on to other blogs (up to as many as five).
3. Proudly display the Liebster button on your blog!

If any of my nominees would rather not respond, that’s fine! They’re all worthy of the award in any case.