Poemcrazy

I wrote this poem while reading Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy. I titled it…well, “Poemcrazy”.

Poemcrazy

i must have created quite a picture
dozing with a giant white bear
in the crook of my arm
Poemcrazy scrawled across the bookjacket
covering my face and making a slight
indentation across my right cheek
it wasn’t a nap, entirely
not even rest, since words danced and floated
through my mind, tempting, tantalizing
like a cummings poem i’d read as a child
(it stuck with me, his style, only i didn’t know then
that something in me was secretly longing for that kind
of freedom; i rediscovered him today in the pages pressing against my forehead)
i must have seemed a taciturn eccentric
hands limp and relaxed as verse took shape
behind the book resting on my face
shielding my eyes from the sunlight of midday
(though not my ears from the whine of a weed machine
wielded by a well-intentioned neighbor)
i recalled lines i’d read moments before
and how i had smiled at the mention of word games
i’d played in my girlhood
how did she know
i dreamed in word tickets of meander and flummox and herb garden
and winery and worthlessness and side-winder
while the whining ebbed and flowed and breezes blew
and my hair tickled me awake
so even though it might appear i’d left behind
lazy susans and black-eyed peas and catharsis
in the land of a people i call the ballantrae
my favorite thing of all is that
i feel a little bit like a poet today

 

 

{Linking up with dversepoets today}

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How she loves {NaPoWriMo 3}

She never stops giving
Running, helping, pouring out
Sits in her car and the tears fall
Keeps adapting, keeps shouldering it all
Pushing her body over the precipice again
And down for the count till she’s mended
It’s how she loves

She prays in the window seat late at night
Red hair shining in the light of the moon
The day has bled her dry once more
She’s wearied to the core but not undone
She’ll run for one more hour
Her source of power beyond herself
Is how she loves

She begs escape but not from it all
Just moments she can call her own
Alone in the quiet where hurts get worded
And hearts are softly, sweetly reached
About her town and across her world
Her selfless heart unaware
Of how she loves

And I, from miles away kneel down
And lift her to Heaven with words of my own
Picture me reflected in moonlight by her side 
If only in a dream where help can be touched
And kindness is spoken by holding a hand
Somehow her heart knowing I understand
How she loves

 

 

{Happy birthday, beautiful.}

Day 31: I like my imagination {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

My imagination can be a bit of a challenge to manage, but I really do like being the imaginative type. It beats the daylights out of being dull and predictable and status quo.

I haven’t written fiction in quite some time, but it isn’t for lack of loving to do so and I’m not even sure why I don’t do more of it. An active imagination makes for a fabulous foundation for fiction. All alliteration aside, I don’t possess the ability to check my creative brain at the car door. I can pass an old man on a bicycle and before I’ve driven two blocks I’ve assigned him a life, a history, a family, likes and dislikes, fears and dreams. Fortunately for him, he is blissfully unaware of this world I have figuratively plopped him into and is free to continue his bike ride unhindered. What I do with his “story”, fabricated as it may be, is up to me.

I think it all started when I was a little girl who loved to pretend. I clearly remember playing with my friends and starting nearly every sentence with something like, “Let’s ‘tend like I’m the big sister and you’re the mom, and…” We loved piling up fallen pine needles in the trailer park of our little south Georgia town, lining them into houses and offices and creating our own special decor complete with (very prickly) beds and chairs and couches. Whatever the weather, we found ways to “tend like” we lived in a world purely of our imagination (I can’t remember what mine was called, but I never got to call it Narnia because Big Robin always called it first).

In imaginary worlds where boards become bridges (sometimes not very good ones, as the scar on my lower back bears witness) and pine needles become blueprints, anything can happen. I love living in that kind of place.

 

This “What I Like About Me” challenge hasn’t been the easiest, but I have to say here on Day 31 that I’m starting to think I’m kind of a cool lady.

Day 30: I like my prayerfulness {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

I live in constant conversation with God. This is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember what it’s like not being connected with God, and I admit I’m glad I can’t.

This kind of connection makes days like today a little less difficult, days when I’m scared out of my mind for a friend’s health and trying to move through the motions of my day as though I’m not shaking head to toe and silently begging God to make her okay.

Staying in conversation also means the moment I think something I’m saying it to Him. Which can be pretty revealing (and therefore a little scary at times). It means instead of just marveling at the velvety surface of a leaf I naturally tell Him about the discovery and thank Him for creating such cool stuff. It makes for a pretty grateful way to live.

I pray with my eyes open because I’m talking to my constant companion, not taking a nap. I want my prayers to live and breathe along with me every minute and not be separated by “Dear God” and “Amen”.

I rarely say, “Amen.” And when I do, I mean “Let it be” and not “Goodbye”. My Amen is more like a Selah, a pause in the looping playlist between Him and me.

Whatever happens, I fluidly talk to Him about it. He is safe, and He is always there, and He can handle my joys and my aches and my anger and my questions. He is not surprised or appalled or put off by my realness or the fact that I let it all hang out before Him, all the time.

I can always, always run to Him, and because we are stuck like glue I don’t ever have far to go. I like that.

Day 29: I like the teacher in me {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

One of my favorite things to do as a child was to play school. Often at the end of the school year my teachers would have leftover mimeograph sheets (how distinctly I remember the smell of those sheets!) in a variety of subjects. I was always one of the first to ask for some of the surplus to take home and play with over the summer. I collected an impressive stash of teaching supplies, and had a blast holding “classes” with my friends over the summer. I graded papers in brilliant flourishes of red and issued homework, coaching my “students” further in areas where they needed extra help.

As I grew older, I enjoyed tutoring friends in troublesome subjects. English was my favorite. I grew up to teach creative writing workshops where my red pen went on hiatus in favor of a more encouraging approach to fostering creativity. I am blessed to have inspired writers of all ages over the years to pursue their writing talent and go after wording their hearts and lives with passion and purpose. It is a gift I am gratified to leave behind me as I go.

I love teaching any age, whether in writing or critical thinking or Bible study. Any age and any skill set. Perhaps my favorite students are those with special challenges and methods of learning. I hold a firm belief that all children are gifted in unique ways, and that just because we may have to dig a little to find out what makes them tick doesn’t mean they are the ones with the challenge; it makes much more sense to presume we the teachers are the ones with the challenge, and we get the joy of discovery right along with them as we reveal exactly what pulls that light bulb string and makes it click.

I did not grow up to be a public school teacher as I aspired in my childhood to do. Instead I grew up to homeschool our own five children over a 25-year span. I taught multiple subjects and grade levels in several private school settings, and even had the opportunity to do creative writing workshops in public, private, and cooperative homeschool settings. My favorite Wordweavers workshop I ever taught had a student age range of 7-70; I won’t ever forget the delightful time we all had together.

The rewards of teaching have taken many forms: a smile here, a light-bulb moment there, a note tucked into my little red mailbox on my desk. I like to think there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people out there loving learning a little bit more because our paths crossed. That thought alone makes every teachable moment more than worth it.

I am now a writer and editor with a column and a collection of online weblogs. I am blessed to serve as ministry director for Write Where It Hurts, a ministry inspiring and equipping women to write their way through pain to healing and hope in Christ. I can’t imagine ever not teaching, just like I can’t imagine ever not writing. They are both woven into my fabric.

A few weeks ago the flag atop my little red mailbox caught my eye. Assuming someone had mistakenly bumped into an upward position I went to lower it, then on a whim checked inside where I found a tiny pink note from our 17-year-old daughter with the hand-written message, “Mommy-remember you’re beautiful and I always believe in you. –Rosie”

My most treasured return from teaching is watching our own children ignited with a love for learning that has followed them well into adulthood.  I never set out to teach them all there is to know; no one but God could ever do that. My three-fold goal was simply to teach them to know and love God, to instill in them a love for learning for its own sake, and to equip them with the tools for learning.

I teach with a kind heart and an impish grin. I figure if I can help someone have fun learning, to realize how cool it is just to discover something new, I will have given them a great gift. As long as there are teachers like me giving such gifts, we will continue to celebrate the giftedness within each and every person. We are all made in the image of God, after all. What better gift could there be?

 

Day 28: I like my musicianship {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

I’ve loved to sing since I was a knee-high to a magpie. I sang for anyone who would listen, and those who didn’t want to. I sang for God, and I sang just for me. I held a solo concert atop Patsy’s doghouse when I was around ten. After canvassing the trailer park personally inviting people to an event they surely wouldn’t want to miss,  I climbed onto the doghouse roof and waited. Nobody came. So I performed for nobody. Nobody found out how good I was, but I was happy just to sing.

I took up trumpet at 12, the only girl trumpet player in our junior high school band. I learned quickly and developed what my director called the prettiest tone he had ever heard from a beginner. I was inspired.

In ninth grade I won the Outstanding Bandsman award for excellence in music and got an “Excellent” rating the judges said I should be proud to claim since the piece I chose was pretty ambitious for my age. I still play that solo today from memory.

In high school I earned a letter in band and won a collection of superior district and state medals for solo, ensemble, directing, and group performance and widened my musical studies to include theory, jazz band, composition, and band directing. My mother worked overtime and bought me a Bach Stradivarius for Christmas my junior year. That same year our high school band played the halftime show for the Buccaneers/Eagles playoff game, in which I did a solo to “Renegade” by Styx to a sold-out 72,000+ crowd at Tampa Stadium. I remember standing there thinking, “I have to fill this stadium with my trumpet. This is pretty crazy.” It was just me and a bass drum playing for eight bars and I played my heart out. My knees buckled coming off the field after the show and I passed out cold, but not before I had claimed my few minutes of musical fame and lived a dream I will never forget.

I taught private lessons for a few years after high school and played in the occasional community band and church program. I directed a worship orchestra and arranged all their music for a year, and sang as a worship vocalist for  about 15 years. I’ve played piano since toddlerhood, but was told it didn’t really count because I played by ear. It didn’t bother me that it didn’t count; I liked being able to play pretty much anything I could hear in my head.

I really don’t think I could have escaped being a musician with all the music in the family line. I’m delighted that all of our children are musically talented and are using their talent for the Creator who gave it to them. I wove music into our homeschooling through the years, but the kids really more or less took over and taught themselves the instruments they wanted to play.

I still play both piano and trumpet, and even remember a little of the guitar my mom and brother taught me along the way. I like to think my first band director would still be proud of my tone. And still, with all my heart, I love to sing.

One of my favorite things in the world is getting together and making music as a family. I think that may be when I am at my happiest.

Day 27: I like my protectiveness {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

I hope it’s okay to like a trait that I simultaneously recognize the need to keep in check.

I’m a nice lady, but I can be a fiercely protective wife, mama, and friend.

Sometimes this has gotten me into trouble. Once it necessitated my 16-year-old sitting me down to tell me that as much as he appreciated my being in his corner, I simply couldn’t ask more of people than they were capable of doing, and that I needed to leave them to God to continue to grow and perfect. I told him to shut up. Well, not exactly like that, but I did sulk for a bit at having been spiritually schooled by my teenager. Deep down I was fiercely proud of him. He has grown up to be protective of those he loves, too, all under God’s big plan, and he’s probably better at it than me. But maybe I’ll do in a pinch.

It pierced my heart to watch another son’s heart be shattered by a girl. My protectiveness took the form of speaking truth a lot of people didn’t want to hear. In the end I pulled it back and put it in a box and sealed it shut because I was asked not to share it. It wasn’t fair that my son bore the brunt of something that wasn’t his fault, but God laid His calming hand over my heart and reminded me that this was ultimately for our son’s good. I now see what He meant. I was trying to protect him, but God was protecting him for something–someone–who would love and value him the way he deserves. I will always be grateful for that.

I was reminded a few days ago how quickly I can come to my husband’s defense when someone misunderstood something he said on a social media site and called his character into question. I had to walk away and pray me some Jesus intervention so I didn’t put the holy smackdown on some folk. Don’t be talking mess about my man.

I’m getting better about defending friends in gentle ways rather than speaking sternly first and thinking later. Prayerfully thinking before opening my mouth (or engaging my fingers) is helping. Who knew?

I try to follow Jesus’ example for focusing my protectiveness on honor and integrity and what is Godly, trying not to take things too personally (even for those I love) unless it’s blatantly necessary. I figure if Jesus was protective without sinning, I should be able to at least make a go of it in the right way.

One thing I will always protect (because love always protects) is my family, and by extension the institution of family. It is my heart to preserve God’s plan for marriage, parenting, and family, and because of that it is an area of ministry where “I feel God’s pleasure”.

I am wildly protective of the right to life for the pre-born, and the right to continued quality life for the elderly.

I am patriotically protective of American freedoms, the most important of which is the freedom to worship God without restriction (followed closely by any other freedom that helps ensure that right).

I am unswervingly protective of all who have special challenges in life. They are among my favorite people on the planet.

Since childhood I have been a champion for the underdog. Melvina Waltz was a girl no one in our junior high school wanted to be around. Socially awkward, she had few if any real friends. I gave her my favorite Disney plaque for her birthday in 9th grade. I’m pretty sure it’s the only present she got. She was a uniquely-wired girl, but Melvina deserved the love of at least one friend.

Some of the worst beatings I’ve ever suffered came as a result of me standing up for someone else. In 4th grade I stood up for my little friend Robin Stinnett and was nearly killed by the trailer park bully for my troubles. That same year (because my protectiveness tends to jump ahead and replace good sense) when I stood up for Leigh French against Linda Lawrence and wound up under the merry-go-round spitting out dirt Leigh had to help me walk to class. Demaris Lawhorn beat the daylights out of me for standing up to her terrorizing of every girl in 7th grade. The principal was so afraid her blows to my head were lethal that he turned as white as the cafeteria walls. I lived to fight another day.

I just hope God continues to temper my protectiveness and help me to discern when to speak up and when to pipe down. As long as He is my verbal gatekeeper, prayerfully I will protect well.

Day 26: I like the way I Mimi {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

I grew up thinking neither of my grandmothers liked me. My limited memory of large patches of my childhood and the few stories I heard from others indicated I just wasn’t a favorite among grandchildren on either side.

In the past few years I’ve begun to discover evidence that I was loved much more than I realized. And while I suppose it’s better to live for 45+ years thinking my grandmothers didn’t dig me and then find out they did than to live that way and then find out I was right, it still discourages me to feel like I lost so many years knowing and feeling and remembering the love of  a grandmother.

I vowed many years ago to be the grandmother I (thought I) never had.

I chose “Mimi” for my grandmother name because I felt like it fit me better than all the others I considered.

Thus far I have two beautiful granddaughters: Morgan is 12 and Rosabelle is 2. They are positively delightful, both of them, and I love them dearly. I enjoy every moment we get to spend together. Morgan regales me with tales of school and cheerleading and asks me a gazillion questions, and I tell her stories from my childhood (the appropriate ones) and ask her questions back to encourage her to think things through. She is pretty good at it, too. She is sharp as a tack and one of the most diplomatic and encouraging people I’ve ever known. Rosabelle is a princess and makes sure everyone knows it, but she has a sweet, loving nature that defies her princess status. She’s got spunk like her mama and tenderness like her daddy and is dramatic and creative and bursting with life. Today she laid her head on my shoulder and patted my back, sighed softly, and whispered, “I love you, Mimi.” Reminded me of her daddy when he was her age.

I ask God every day to keep growing me as a grandmother, letting me understand them better and pour into them (and future grandblessings) the love I’ve always felt like I missed out on as a youngster. Mine is an endless well of love for them, my precious babies-of-my-babies, and I get plum giddy at the thought of how much fun I want to have with them in the years to come. Fun like our mothers have had with our children, cooking and baking, laughing, singing, playing silly games, enjoying one another’s company. Our children were blessed with lovely grandmothers, and I want to carry on that legacy as their Mimi.

Day 25: I like my gratefulness {31 Days of What I Like About Me}

It’s always Thanksgiving in my heart. Probably a good thing that doesn’t apply to my tummy or I’d be big as a barn. I just live grateful for every moment.

It’s why I so quickly resonated with Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts. If you haven’t read it, you really should. Today. I lived gratefully before I encountered it, but so much more so since then. I carry it in my purse and read it over and over. If you read it, you’ll see why.

As a creative sort, I’ve always looked for beauty in little details of the mundane. I’ve never come up empty. I wish everyone looked at life this way.

I’ve been given so much. Even when the car is broken (which is much of the time) or I’m cleaning up after someone (which is pretty often) or I’m scared about something (which is almost always), I can find plenty to thank God for. Like the lively flock of red- and orange-winged beauties screeching and playing just outside my window right now, for starters.

As a writer it is my goal to infuse my writing with as much gratitude as possible, in whatever form I am able. If it means describing how my ministry notebook is scrawled with gobs of notes and smudges and scribbles or the splotches of brilliant autumn colors all over the calico cat that stretches her back and knocks all my “teacher” knickknacks off the window sill, then I’m okay with that. It’s my world, after all, and I’m grateful for it. All of it.