Cup

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Cup

I am thinking today of a cup
mug, glass, tumbler
goblet, teacup, sippy cup
tulip or barrel-shaped
angled or rounded
plastic, glass, china
silver or stainless steel.

I am thinking today of a cup
of water, milk or juice
drunk to slake thirst, add nourishment
coffee or tea to add a burst
of energy and well-being
beer, stout, nog or wine
to “gladden the heart.”

I am thinking today of a cup
a lot in life, a portion, a destiny:
“O Lord, you are … my cup.”
“My cup runneth over.”
“‘Father, if it is Your will
take this cup from me.”
“‘Shall I not drink the cup
which My Father has given Me?’”

I am thinking today of a cup
a pewter chalice, common mug
or plastic throwaway thimble
of grape juice or wine
and of memories:
“Jesus took the cup…’Drink from it
for this is My blood which is shed
for the remission of sins.’”
and choices:
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord
and the cup of demons.”

I am thinking today of a goal
a prize, a winner’s cup
that I have pressed toward
to be awarded at the end of life’s race
handed out at the judgment seat.
Will there be one for me?
Could winning it include
answering “yes” to Jesus’ question
“‘Are you able to drink the cup
that I am about to drink?’”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration
The word “cup,” which has many meanings in Scripture, was the inspiration for this poem. I chose it for today’s post because today is  Holy Thursday when we commemorate Jesus establishing Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Agenda-Less

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A few months ago I heard Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) tell in a video lecture how his veggie empire and the dream of his film studio becoming the Christian Disney came crashing down. He was devastated.He came through that time wiser and having learned some lessons. I took a few notes as I was listening. Here are some bits from my scribbles:

“He who has God and many things is no better off than he who has God alone” – C.S. Lewis.

He learned to wait on God. His passion shifted from making an impact to God Himself. He had to die to his ambition and misplaced sense of identity.

He summed up his talk with three points:
1. God loves you the way you are even when you’re not doing anything at all.

2. When the time comes to be doing something for God, don’t worry about the outcome. That’s His job. The impact God has planned for us doesn’t happen when we’re pursuing impact, it happens when we’re pursuing God.

3. Beware of your dreams, for dreams make dangerous friends.
“Why would God want us to let go of our dream?
Because anything you won’t let go of is an idol.”

In the poem below, written some years ago, I grapple in my own way with living the self-directed life. It’s something I continue to battle. However, it’s important that I do because I believe the secret to true FREEDOM for a disciple of Jesus is the repeated and continuous relinquishment to Him of dreams, agendas, and outcomes.

Cultivator in grass and flowers

Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly

AGENDA-LESS

“And when I stop telling God what I want, He can catch me up for what He wants without let or hindrance….He can do anything He chooses” Oswald Chambers.

All my life
I’ve lived by agenda
guided myself by purpose
– be the best piano player, student, teacher, writer
governed by goals
– practice four hours, study six, work ten, write always
derived meaning, direction, identity
by pursuing them.

But such a penchant becomes a burden
when I become drive-obsessed
my life possessed by looking for evidence
my purposes are planted in reality.
This turmoil stirs and shakes
the vat of inner life
especially when best efforts all fall short
or when reaching one goal
leaves me still thirsty
mirages into another.

And so I seek a new agenda –Yours
to keep in step with You
give You responsibility
for my agenda.

Do I now need to change my course
mount a different horse?
Leave home and family, say,
and be a missionary?
Go into a different
line of work?
No. That may well be taking
my reins in hand again.

It only means
to change place
from plowman to ox
labor under Your easy yoke
my efforts synchronized
with Your large purpose
as I plow my small
furrow in Your field.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday where the theme this week is Freedom. Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Watch a video of Phil Vischer giving his talk on dreams to the Convocation of Liberty University.

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.

Next Step (review)

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Next Step - Timothy K. LynnNext Step – How to Start Living Intentionally and Discover What God Really Wants for Your Life by Timothy K. Lynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Next Step is a guidebook/workbook designed to help people evaluate their lives and plot a course for the future. In brief chapters businessman Timothy K. Lynn leads readers to first analyze their lives in the areas of time and people. Then he introduces them to what he calls the Four Pillars: Faith, Self, Family and Life’s Work. In a final chapter, “Conversations with God,” he talks about how God is central to the whole process and encourages the participant to converse with Him and journal those interchanges.

After a brief bit of text on each subject, the book has charts, forms and journal pages for the reader to fill in. The “Snapshot of Your Week” form, for example, has the participant noting what activities fill their time for one week, 24/7. Another form guides readers in discovering who the people of influence in their lives are. The chapter “Life’s Work” concludes with a “Lifeline Goal-setting Plan—Seasons of Life” chart, which gathers the observations and conclusions participants have made from previous chapters into one record/activity/goal chart that can be kept through the years—literally the seasons of life.

Next Step is a beautiful publication, but I found it a bit thin on content. About seventy of the book’s 128 pages are blank journal pages or duplicates of charts and forms introduced in the various chapters.

The charts and forms are excellent, however, in the way they are designed to give the participant a snapshot of his or her use of time, people of influence, core beliefs, goals, and dreams.

More examples of what the author expected as responses in some of the areas would have been helpful (like he did give for the “Lifeline Goal-setting Plan—Seasons of Life” chart, p. 62). Though the journal pages, with their question prompts are self-explanatory, I was never sure what process he expected the reader to go through to fill out the numerous “Conversations with God” sections. His instructions read:

“What’s God saying to you? Use this section as a notebook to make a complete record of your conversations with God.”

Does he expect the reader to sit quietly and listen for an audible voice, or a voice in one’s head, or God’s instructions from Scripture passages? The closest I came to finding help in this area was in the chapter “Faith” where he seems to presume that his readers will have a prior knowledge of scripture and a conscience trained by it:

“God has spoken to us and asked us to follow His word, but at times we need to simplify things and get to the true meaning of what is being asked of us. …This is not as hard as we make it out to be. It just has to occur one thought—indeed one step—at a time, because our actions help us to differentiate good from bad. At the very moment we do something bad, we move away from God’s truth. Most times we intrinsically know this in our hearts” – p. 33.

More specific instructions on how one converses with God would have been helpful. Without them, I felt this part of the program could become an exercise in whatever—listening to oneself, visualization, even opening oneself up to spiritual error, as the participant is never instructed to check what he or she hears against the clear communication God has given us about His will in the Bible.

Altogether, however, this is a valuable and concise program designed to give participants information about their individual lives and the desire and impetus to make God-centered changes and improvements, no matter what their age.

I received Next Step as a gift from publicist Maryglenn McCombs for the purpose of writing a review.

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Reimagine Your Retirement (review)

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Reimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to Its Fullest and Leave a Lasting LegacyReimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to Its Fullest and Leave a Lasting Legacy by Joyce y Li

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you view your retirement? As a time of relaxation and indulgence? As a dreaded time of uselessness and idleness? Or as an opportunity to rediscover your passions and live them out in the years you have left?

In Reimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to its Fullest and Leave a Lasting Legacy, author Joyce Y. Li challenges new and soon-to-be retiring members of the baby boomer generation to tackle this phase of life with reflection and intention.

Parts One and Two of the book (“Recognize the Many Possibilities” and “Living Your Best”) provide a background to help readers consider what retirement means in North American culture, how the process of aging impacts one’s latter years, and why it’s important to approach this time with a plan.

Part Three (“Discovering Yourself”) discusses the Bible’s view of life in general and old age in particular. It includes numerous self-tests designed to help readers discover their gifts, strengths, and interests with a view to setting a course and defining goals that will give meaning and purpose to retirement years.

Parts Four and Five (“Vision and Calling” and “Put Legs to Your Plan”) lay out an action plan that challenges readers to visualize the future they want, put it into words as a mission statement, and live it out.

Li’s experience as an event planner comes through in this logically organized how-to book. She bases her findings not only on her own experience but also on the expertise of others and includes many studies and research results. Real life examples add interest and show us that retirement can be the exciting, meaningful climax of a well-lived life. Her Christian outlook focuses the reader’s attention on what will matter for eternity and is buttressed by many Bible verses and motivational quotes.

Though I read the book quickly, it contains much that invites rereading and further thought. Readers who answer all the questionnaires and complete all the analyses will come away with invaluable self-knowledge and a blueprint for going forward, designed to give direction and focus to the remaining years of life. Li’s methods will be especially attractive to the retiree who has a good amount of health, drive, and energy.

Reimagining Your Retirement would be a great read for people preparing for, or in the early stages of retirement. I can also see younger folks benefiting from its wisdom and practical advice. All in all it’s a powerful and convincing debut work authored by someone I’m sure we will hear from again.

Book trailer for Reimagine Your Retirement

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20,000 Days and Counting – Robert D. Smith (review)

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20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. SmithAround the time Robert D. Smith had lived his 20,000th day, he took two of the next 20,000 (or however many he has left) to plan how he would spend the rest of his life. In his book 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now, he divulges what he did during his two-day retreat, and explains the philosophy on which he bases his life—a philosophy he sums up in statements like:

“There is no thought that will purge your priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like that of your impending death. Ponder the kind of life you would like to look back on when you come to die… “

and

“The best preparation for living is to be prepared to die at any time … imminent death inspires clarity of purpose, a rearranging of what really matters” – Robert D. Smith, 20,000 Days and Counting, Kindle Locations 554 and 573.

However, the book is anything but morbid. For this man, who has spent most of his career managing entertainer and author Andy Andrews knows how to show us a good time. The book’s tone and content is upbeat, encouraging, helpful, and practical.

In it he suggests exercises that will help readers discover their life’s purpose and gives them ways to  live responsibly and constructively. Some of his suggestions that resonated with me were:

– You increase motivation by increasing productivity.

– Be open to saying “yes” more than you say “no.”

– Take ownership. “Start thinking I am the problem … when you do that…. Suddenly you have power” (Kindle Location 771).

The book is a fast read and worth every minute spent immersed in it. The few hours it took me to read it are already proving well spent in their impact on my 2013 goals and resolutions. This is a book that will clear your vision and help you live with a “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” mindset (Psalm 90:12—one of numerous Bible verses he quotes; the book is consistent with a Christian perspective). I recommend it!

By the way, how many days have you lived? Want to find out? Visit TheRobertD’s website and plug your dates into the widget there. (And while you’re on the site, you may also want to sign up for his newsletter and get the free e-Book Battle-Tested Branding, another great little resource!)

Book Facts:

Title: 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering the Rest of Your Life right Now
Author: Robert D. Smith
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, January 2013,  99 pages-Kindle edition, available in hardcover.
ASIN: B009PN6M3M

I received 20,000 Days and Counting as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.