A resolution for 2018 #BibleJournaling

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Are you all set for 2018… new calendars up, dreams and goals written down, diet started? Just kidding! It’s early days, I know. Still, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what we want the year ahead to look like.

One resolution that hits my list every year is to get more of God’s word into me in the coming 12 months. David Kitz writes about that in Chapter 22 of Psalms Alive, a chapter that delves into the “Beth” section of Psalm 119 (Psalm 119:9-11).

My Bible journaling response was to verse 11 of that chapter.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against you.”

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I was particularly challenged by Kitz’s drilling down into what it means to hide God’s word in our hearts:

“How do I hide God’s Word in my heart? The answers may seem obvious. Hear it. Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Apply it to life. Commit it to memory.

Most often understanding springs out of application, not out of hearing. I can hear a particular truth a thousand times but it isn’t really mine until I apply it to my own life. Applied truth bears fruit. It yields results” – Psalms Alive p. 200 (emphasis added).

To do my journal response I made a heart out of parchment paper, attached it, with Washi tape, to the outside edge of the page as a tip-out, then doodled on the heart and behind it some ideas of how to hide God’s word in my heart. (Other materials used: colored pencils, Pigma Micron pens)

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May we spend time in 2018 hiding God’s word in our hearts—in all the ways we can!

The year of LISTEN (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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Coloring sheet gifted to me by Irene as part of the Poetry Friday summer poem swap. (I plan to spend a few more hours in quiet contemplation working on this in the days ahead.)

My one-little-word for 2017—LISTEN—has served me well… so well, I’m sad that the year is almost done.

As I went through 2017 it helped me make a habit of listening to others, especially when in conversation. Countless times through this year when the urge to interrupt came over me, I would hear in my mind: “Listen.” That reminder brought relaxation and a certain peacefulness as I continued tuning into what the other person was saying.

I’ve become alert to the wisdom of others about listening. Here’s something I read just a couple of days ago that sums up listening to others better than I could say it:

“Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you can say what you have to say … Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability—a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own best words and questions” – Krista Tippett in Becoming Wise (p. 29) quoted by Melissa Moore in Entrusted p. 153.

“Generous listening is a revolutionary act of kindness in a world of screaming and competing voices” – Melissa Moore, Entrusted, p. 153.

I have also practiced listening to God through Bible reading, prayer, paying attention to the lyrics of praise and worship music, tuning in to podcasts, and more. One of the practices I’ve begun this year is Bible journaling. It was such fun to create visual memories in my Bible in response to Bible verses about listening. I’ll leave you with a short slide show of some of my listening signposts.

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, hosted today by our wonderful coordinator and cheerleader Irene Latham at her blog Live Your Poem.

When you don’t have a clue … #BibleJournaling

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Do you believe in prayer? Or a better question might be, do you believe that God acts in response to our prayers?

Prayer was the sermon topic at church on August 6th. Jason, one of our talented young pastors, began his talk by reading the story of Peter encountering the lame beggar on his way into church. The beggar asked for money. Peter replied, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” – Acts 3:6. Then he brought the man healing in Jesus’ name.

Jason suggested this, I think profound, paradigm for Christ-followers: “When we’re out of our resources, we’re not at the end of our service.”

So true! We may not have a clue about what to do and may not have anything to give. But we can invite Someone into the situation who has more than a clue and can make every difference!

Jason’s talk was a challenge to bring Jesus into situations through prayer, not only during formal prayer times but for each other in unlikely places, during and about the ups and downs of life. Through prayer, we can invite God’s limitless resources and power into difficult, even impossible circumstances. (You can hear/watch all of Jason’s sermon “Intro to Prayer Ministry” HERE.)

I journaled Jason’s statement in my Bible so I wouldn’t forget.

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Bible Art Journaling – Acts 3:6-8 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Night Class

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Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Night Class

I wake at night in the classroom with God
go to His desk to watch Him marking my day.
“Here,” He says, “see your anger when you were kept waiting
your rudeness when disturbed
your defensiveness when criticized?
These are all places the theory you know in your head
those textbook passages you can say by memory
could have been applied.”

My face reddens and I crumple in shame.
Knowing how to use the formulas I can say by rote
to solve the equations of life
–in spite of review after review–
continues to confound me.

But His loving eyes reach deep into my spirit.
“Don’t worry girl,” He says, drawing me up.
“This is not your final grade.
I have planned for you a lifetime
of projects, quizzes and tests
each designed to give you
more insight.
Getting it wrong is also teaching you
how to get it right.”

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

I see by the various versions of “Night Class” in my files that I first wrote it in 2007.  I was reminded me of that old poem when, a few days ago, I read “The Temple of Memory” by John O’Donohue:

The Temple of Memory

When you visit the wounds within the temple of memory, you should not blame yourself for making bad mistakes that you greatly regret. Sometimes you have grown unexpectedly through these mistakes. Frequently, in a journey of the soul, the most precious moments are the mistakes. They have brought you to a place that you would otherwise have avoided. You should bring a compassionate mindfulness to your mistakes and wounds. Endeavor to inhabit the rhythm you were in at that time. If you visit this configuration of your soul with forgiveness in your heart, it will fall into place itself. When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal. You come in out of the exile of hurt into the joy of inner belonging.
– John O’Donohue 
Excerpt from ANAM CARA

I love this part of O’Donohue’s piece:

“You should bring a compassionate mindfulness (my one-little-word of the year)  to your mistakes and wounds. …When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal.”

May we do that –forgive ourselves– as we press ahead on the spiritual journey.

NPM ’16 – What I learned

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The entire quote from which the above is taken:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now… Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” – Annie Dillard

I once had the quote by Annie Dillard (above) pinned to my bulletin board. It was encouragement to be less hesitant to use my “good ideas”  (what if I never got another one…) and to share my writing. This last month I have put it into practice perhaps more than ever before. For not only did I write a new poem every day but  also published daily here on this blog.

I think I enjoyed April of 2016 poetically more than any National Poetry month till now. I’m sure that’s because I put more into it in several ways. Here are some things I learned about myself and the writing process.

1. The fact that I was determined to post a poem every day had me working harder and more purposefully than other years when I wrote daily but didn’t go public.

2. I got a lot out of following other poets’ projects. Here are some of the April 2016 poem series that I enjoyed a lot:

Mary Lee Hahn’s series inspired by old photos.

Donna Smith’s series inspired by vanity license plates.

– Irene Latham’s series “Art Speak” inspired by paintings (many that involved food, to go with her latest published project Fresh Delicious).

– Amy L. Vanderwater’s series “Wallow in Wonder” inspired by the daily questions at Wonderopolis.

Margaret Simon’s series inspired by photographic images.

– Doraine Bennett’s series “Feet in a Creek” inspired by specific poems of favorite poets.

Heidi Mordhorst’s series of poetry paired with music.

– And of course, being part of the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.

These series got me thinking that on another year I’d like to write to a theme.

3. Writing daily has helped me feel more relaxed about the process. It has showed me that if you sit with an idea for a while, something usually surfaces. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it can be about anything. When I give what James Scott Bell calls “the boys in the basement” the assignment to come up with an idea, they usually do. It helps, though, to be patient and respect the process.  Here’s how I described that process some years ago

Some Poems

Some poems appear like lightning
an epiphany moment
of illuminating clarity

Others are a groping hand-over-hand
out of the well of experience
into the light of meaning

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

4. Finally, what kept me going most was the companionship of my writing friend Laurel. She joined me in this challenge by publishing a new poem of her own almost every day on her blog Four Parts Hope. There’s nothing like a poet buddy to keep one on track. Thanks Laurel!

Thanks, as well, to all who came by and read these daily April postings!

I will now resume my usual pedestrian schedule of one or two posts per week.

Monday is washday (NPM ’16-Day 12)

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The clothes-horse hangout (Photo by V. Nesdoly)

Monday is washday

Sunday night sees piles of clothes
segregated in lights and darks
reds and prints, huddled together
dreading the morning.

Machines go through their cycles
pour, churn, whirl, whir.
Monday air is sweet with dryer sheets
damp with clothes-horse hangouts.

A half hour in front of the TV
pairing, folding, and—Voila!
our closets and drawers
are fat and happy again.

The pant hangers
keep disappearing.
The ones that remain
too anemic to grasp heavy jeans

which will soon be replaced
in any case
by spring capris
and summer shorts…

What a strange power there is in clothing.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This poem was inspired by yesterday’s prompt at NaPoWriMo and strives for the effect of “An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details.” I’m not sure I achieved it, but I tried. The ending statement of the poem is attributed to Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Fine Dining

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I love the one-little-word SIMPLIFY, Linda Kulp‘s word that we are exploring this week. (I think I will chose it one of these years.)

I love a clean counter top in my kitchen, my desk cleaned off at the end of the day, Friday afternoons when all my house surfaces gleam after dusting.

I love the idea of an uncomplicated, straightforward life where little is enough (except for books—and I need to have another go at simplifying my closet).  I once had a poster picturing an old-fashioned wooden bucket with the words “Very little is needed to have a happy life.” I had it up so long it faded to monochrome.

I bought a framed print to take its place. In our old house it hung on the wall beside our kitchen table. In the house we live in now it’s on one of our stairway walls—still reminding me to keep it simple.

A couple of Bible verses that ground me in simplicity are:

“And what does the Lord require of You? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8.

and

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” – 1 Timothy 6:8.

That is the ideal. Sad to say, I don’t always live it. But I know I am happier when I don’t feel the hot breath of wanting more and having more on my neck.

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My “Simple Life” print – Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Fine Dining

This is not about fashionably late
with candlelight shimmering in glasses of Pinot Gris
snowy napkins, pewter flatware
and stacks of food on square plates
over smudges of condiment reduction,

but about two Corelle bowls
heaped with spinach salad at five
green beans steaming in brown Corningware
mushroom chicken bubbling in a Pyrex casserole
a stainless steel pot of fragrant rice.
a tub of margarine, pocked as pumice
and three bottles: Balsamic, Raspberry, Ranch
all on wood trivets to protect the old tablecloth.

Now that it’s light
we watch people stroll babies and dogs
on the path below our townhouse window.
It’s not the view we would get
at Pelagos on the Beach

but the sum of it is certainly
dining at its finest.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted each week by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.