In Praise of Peterborough, a city often despised.
In Praise of Peterborough, a city often despised.
Well sometimes I find myself driving along this road of virtual Christianity
bordering the highways of pure vanity and supposed reality
Going in circles, not quite the straight and narrow,
experiencing the same levels of religiosity, at times pandering to my curiosity
which leads me down other alluring paths where someone promises an easy ride.
Or is this just church-ianity? (seems akin to intellectual insanity)
Somehow avoiding any new maturity, never reaching my destiny in You
“Am I nearly there yet?” ringing in my own ears. The end is not in sight and I’m lost in a fog on a dark night longing to find my way home –
Home to You, home to Your truth, Your light, Your glorious freedom
Like a breath of fresh air after swallowing streams of stale vapours for so long
And signs leading to easier paths of pleasure and advancement might tempt me
But there’s no peace, no security in any other way than Your Cross-road
And I can hear you reminding me to seek Your face and You’ll show me Your Glory
“Seek Me in the secret place and I’ll show you the higher way –
One that misses out the potholes of confusion and the diversions of emptiness –
along with the inevitable crashes that bring you to your knees in desperation,
Wondering how on earth you ended up here without Me in your broken vehicle.
When all I want is a broken you – someone who will bring glory to My name, not theirs.”
Image: Creativei, stockfreeimages.com
On this first Father’s Day without my Dad (and I could never have imagined that I would be writing those words before I turned 40) I choose to spend some time remembering his wonderful nature and attributes. From the twinkle in his eyes, to his charming welcome, my Dad was a joy to be around. He loved and accepted people, no matter their status or background, always willing to engage friends and strangers in rapt conversation. He just knew how to put people at ease and make them feel at home.
And my Dad loved me. Unconditionally – from my earliest days, through my turbulent teens and into adulthood. Like a rock, he was dependable and consistent, always willing to listen, to lend a hand and give of himself. Although he wasn’t perfect – like everyone he had some foibles and weaknesses – he mirrored God’s unchanging love to me, always choosing to be thankful and joyful, no matter how dire the situation. My Dad was a gem – a true gentleman, an exemplary father and a special Grandpa to my sons.
Today I miss his warm embrace, I miss his cheerful voice, but I will remember the many good days I was blessed to have him in my life, to have him as my Dad.
P.S In case you’re wondering… I share my dad’s enthusiasm for Germany, gadgets & new technology, but probably have more genes passed down from my mum!)
I’m new to this blogging thing. I’ll admit that today’s challenge is a bit of a struggle for me. I’m enthusiastic about ideas and projects; less so about the hard graft of building – which doesn’t sound quite so impressive as writing – (sorry, not meaning to offend any real life brickies).
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve even begun to doubt having embarked on this writers’ challenge. Do I have what it takes? I thought so on day 1 or 2. Now I’m losing a bit of the self belief, losing some of the initial momentum. I’m finding myself up against a virtual brick wall, questioning whether to turn around and give up.
Being creative is tiring at times, and I don’t always feel like producing content. This building stuff is more strenuous than I imagined. I’m a little tempted to ditch the blog and stick to other pursuits. Why? Because sleep seems alluring late at night and other distractions beckon during the day. It would be a lot easier to casually lay a creative ‘brick’ now and then, depending on my feelings, than to commit to finishing what I’ve started. As for getting up early (day 2) – well that’s problematic for a night owl with kids who tend to be around in the morning hours.
In many ways I can see a parallel emerging with the process of writing of a novel. It’s pretty exciting in the early stages and you’re bursting with enthusiasm. About half way through, it gets tricky. Story’s in a muddle, characters become aimless, descriptions threaten to dry up. Basically, it turns from being something you can’t wait to get stuck into, to something you force yourself to continue writing.
Like the novel, I need to build on what I’ve started, not neglect the very thing that should help me develop as a writer and help me achieve some goals.
So, despite my shortcomings and resistance to building, I will press on with constructing this site and find or create decent content to fill its pages. Once I’ve done that I’ll start thinking about the bonus assignment!
Any offers to hold me accountable in this regard are most welcome.
When I listen to the song, Shadows, by the David Crowder Band, my whole being wants to respond in affirmation with a resounding ‘Yes!’
Just as my two previously posted poems begin very differently – one focussing on light and warmth, the other on darkness of the soul – this song speaks of the way our lives are continually entwined by light and shadows.
We will all experience a measure of both throughout life. Highs and lows, joy and sorrow. It’s sheer wonder to dwell on the realisation that no matter what we’re currently going through, our lives are in His hands as we rest in the “shadow of the Cross”.
We are not abandoned or forgotten; our heavenly Father walks with us through the depths of our darkest moments and promises to lead us through those times.
Having experienced the awful loss of my Dad at the beginning of this year, I know this is true. In my darkest hour, with my precious dad in his last moments, I was aware of the immense, overwhelming love of God. In the face of desperate sadness and pain I was surrounded by tangible peace and love.
Jesus walked with me through his passing away, and words will never be able to truly convey how my soul was stilled, when it should have felt completely crushed. Yes, sadness was there – and still returns time and again as I struggle to piece together the jigsaw of my life without him. It’s not something to deny or suppress. I fully embrace my feelings, but despite them can still know I am loved, not alone; upheld by grace.
Songs like this help to express in some small way the hope and assurance we have in trusting God through both the peaks and valleys of our lives. The fear that tries to defeat us, dissipates in the presence of His all consuming love.
The music and lyrics of ‘Shadows’ are like a salve to the soul. Let the song wash over you – it’s powerful!
[As part of today’s writers’ challenge we were encouraged to share something unpolished. Here’s a poem I wrote several years ago that began well but probably needs some work…]
Darkness encapsulates the soul
Flaunting its ability to deplete nearly every last drop of hope and delight
In the ordinariness of a life squeezed by stresses or disillusionment
Deflated by the realisation that self-fulfilment is not within reach
Nor peace a possibility at this stage in the game of life
(Young mothers will understand what I mean)
Yet merely a flicker of an eyelid commands power through its
Invitation to light
As the eyes allow access like windows into my very being
Embracing the call of creation which
Diffuses my small sufferings and dares to defy
Negativity, too much subjectivity
Or inflated thoughts of doom and gloom
Scattered through the day like pepper on a plate
Vision enables me, calls me to scan the horizon from east to west
And to see beyond the boundaries of my existence, while
Everything within cannot resist the rapture of God’s alluring landscape
My lungs expand involuntarily to grasp a fresh taste of salty air
As exuberant waves demand my attention, and I cannot deny
Your existence, Your true trademark of nature
And my all-consuming little life is dwarfed by the wonder of silvery sea and
Sugar-like sand, that cannot be captured in the palm of my hand
And I laugh at the way you designed me to depend on
Your light, as you shine through the sun
Saving my sanity, as warmth envelops me
Teases me, reminds me that there’s more to this world
Than me, than mine, and yet more of me
And your cotton-like clouds entertain far more than what I see on TV
And the stones on the beach are pure pleasure to see
I’ll remember next time
When I open my eyes and respond to your
Invitation to light
The Great Writers’ challenge for today (Habit #7) promotes freedom to write something unpolished and ugly. We shouldn’t worry about producing something that’s flawless; we need to simply have a go. Let the creativity flow and write (paint/create) something, no matter how poor it comes across.
It’s all part of the process of becoming great, apparently.
You mean I can just hash some blurb out? Yes! It doesn’t have to be edited umpteen times straight away? No!
There’s something wonderful about this suggestion, something that releases the pressure from anyone who’s even vaguely got a bit of the perfectionist lurking inside them.
Once more, I smiled as I realised that this is currently the way I already work. I posted a couple of comments about it on Jeff Goins’ webpage, and have decided to paste it here too, in case it helps any other writers…
This [writing ‘ugly’ style] has generally been my practice in putting together each chapter of the novel I’m working on. I take a look at the brief outline of the story and simply start writing. When I’m mid flow and suddenly get hit with problems of expression or description, I usually insert a few ???? or [insert character description] into the draft and continue to write.
It’s definitely messy. But it gets the skeleton of a chapter complete – and there’s satisfaction in getting something near completion. Then I have time to go back later and try to fill the gaps. At that point, I’m not worried about how long I mull over ideas or possibilities. Or I can suggest a couple of ideas and see what my editor thinks.
Doing it like this, in true ugly fashion, avoids interrupting the flow of creativity – especially when you’re sure you’ve something really decent coming up soon. Don’t risk losing that train of thought – just keep on going with it.
It’s good to know that I’m on the right track with this challenge. I can do ‘ugly’ pretty well! It’s the sharpening and touching up part which I know I find a lot harder. Still, it helps to be reminded that most works of art start off quite messily.
Today I’ve been encouraged to copy and steal other artists’ ideas or materials. Moi, steal? Sounds dubious.
As with a couple of Goins’ previous challenges, I don’t know whether to blush or be smug this time. Thinking about it, yep, I’ve already done that. Steal!
And yet he makes sense. I particularly appreciated the quote from Bono about how U2 came upon their ‘unique’ sound when they first started out. It’s so good – and as a lifelong U2 fan – I’ll say it again here…
“We were just trying to copy everyone else, but we weren’t good enough. This is what came out.” Brilliant!
Likewise I can hereby acknowledge that the underlying premise of my novel is not entirely original. Grown ups especially may draw parallels with previously published works.
However, I’ve weaved an original plot, characters, settings, themes and ending into my own manuscript. And I’m convinced that as a new writer I’ve stamped my unique style throughout the pages. Yes there’s some good and evil stuff, yes the message may sound familiar, but that’s only through the lens of a grown up eye. And it’s not written for you.
When I present my finished work of art, a novel for pre-teens, for publication and ultimately for eager children to get caught up in the story, they won’t be focussing on whether there are similarities with such and such author from a previous generation.
In the same way when viewers have left the cinema, having watched yet another kidnapping-action-adventure movie, they tend not to groan about the common elements of previous productions. If anything, they tend to enjoy the familiar themes.
Now I feel justified in what I’ve aimed for and created. Goins says it’s OK – and he seems to know a thing or two about writing. And seeing as he’s the one to have proposed this stealing stuff, I’m sure he won’t complain about me pinching that quote from his own site!
Now I just need to finish that novel…
Easier said than done! Every creative’s mantra.
On the one hand we constantly hear that we should hone our craft, tidy rough edges, work at it, be professional and so on.
Now this Goins chap is stirring up a frenzy among writers to get something out there. Straight-away. I can almost hear the wild tapping on thousands of keyboards as writers everywhere try desperately to churn out their book proposals, synopses or movie scripts.
I suppose we could all use that push. “Ship and tweak” he says. Sounds like he’s turning writing into some sort of manufacturing plant, where no soon as the last batch of goods has been dispatched, work starts on the next lot. I don’t relate well to machinery in general, so I’ve been finding Day 5’s challenge pretty hard going. It’s true that technology has made it all so much easier to produce work and go back to correct or perfect it. If we keep putting things off, we may never even complete what we’re working on.
Right now, I’m in the middle of the final editing process of my project. I would have loved to send it off to a publisher, but it’s just not ready. And I really need to tweak and update the synopsis.
For now I’m happy that I’m getting into this blogging habit and that I actually uploaded my previous post and sent it into the Twittersphere before I could change my mind on whether it was good enough.
I prepared something and I posted it. I suppose that qualifies. Thoughts, fellow #15habiters?
Psalm 37:4 was one of the first verses I learnt off by heart as a young Christian – “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
As I pondered these words, which also form the first of four crucial mission statements by my local church (to “Delight in God”), I mulled over what this little phrase truly means.
Delight yourself. It involves a decision; a decision made by you – no one else can make it happen, in the same way that you are not responsible for others to delight. You don’t have to do it. And delight won’t necessarily fall upon you randomly without some participation.
Delight yourself. It involves an action – stepping out and doing something or looking out for something to ‘delight in’. Similar to the word ‘enjoy’, which usually accompanies an action or an experience. For example, we say “I enjoy making/ going/ watching…” How can I actively delight in God? What can I do to encourage delight? Praising? Thanking? Resting in Him?
Delight yourself. It involves emotions. Delight is usually hard to contain; you can’t help expressing it somehow. Like a child’s joy in finding their garden covered in the first snow of winter. Or the overwhelming desire to share that good news you’ve received.
A saying I heard that has impacted me several times in the last year is: “Delight is the gauge of the human heart that measures what we value most.” (Adam Bradley, Life Church) Wow! What we delight in most, we value most.
If I have at times struggled with delighting in God, I’m sure it’s often linked to a tendency to focus delight on other people or activities; other things that provide only momentary joy. Not that those other aspects of life are inherently wrong or not worthy of attention. No, God wants us to enjoy the wonder of His world, our relationships and creative pursuits. But who or what do we delight in most?
I think to ‘delight in the Lord’ is a decision to find ways of utterly enjoying Him. Once we make a decision and begin to act, delight takes over and we can’t refrain from expressing the overflow of our hearts. “I choose to delight in God today.” May this be a daily practice for every follower of Christ.