True Love’s Falling

In the midst of cold, wet, dreary weather, I spent most of my weekend trying to console one of my characters, Cody, with his loss (by working diligently to finally put a large portion of this manuscript together). Meanwhile – in the real world – one of my best friends spent the weekend caring for her elderly aunt in her final hours while trying to console her family over the loss she was sharing.

I came into work this morning feeling particularly melancholy (probably because it’s still cold and wet and especially dreary, being a Monday and all). I had (took?) a few spare moments to pen these thoughts as they came to mind.

I’m sure my poem could use some work, but I hope it brings comforting thoughts to those who need them today. Blessings. -j

True Love’s Falling

 

Here is it in print form only, for those who might have trouble reading it in its “artsy-fartsy” form:

 

True Love’s Falling

 

Don’t let the sun set on your tomorrows

Though darkness may cloud your todays

Our falls always take us to sorrows

In due course,

Cold months surrender to Mays

 

The day’s sun approaching future horizons

You haven’t yet stepped out to greet

All of life’s best and mesmerizing surprises

In God’s time,

Will remove your false sense of incomplete

 

Breathe deeply the crisp wind that’s blowing

Take hope in all future renewals

Cleanse your heart in solely knowing…

Set love shines more brightly

Than all polished jewels

 

 

Related Link:  Rolling River

Unearthing the Value of my Heritage – and other secrets of an Indian Giver

Sometimes my heritage is confusing to me.

My mother’s father was Norwegian. His wife (my grandmother) was German.
My other grandmother was Irish – down to her peachy skin and Celtic name.
To hear her tell it, her husband (my grandfather) was of Scottish/Irish origin too.
To hear him tell it, his grandmother was a full-blooded Native American from the Cherokee nation – and, despite his gray-blue eyes, he loved flaunting their almond shape, along with his high cheekbones and the well-tanned skin beneath his handsomely tall frame.
Of the four grandparents, I spent the majority of my time with him.
He was retired, so we’d go on summer walks through town together, as I held his large hand and looked a mile upward to speak with him.
We’d work in the garden and yard together, with him entrusting me to operate his first riding mower as I entered into my double digits.
He’d accompany my dad to many of my ballgames, where I was sometimes a teeny bit jealous when my older cousins’ friends would run up and hug him and call him Granddad. (Okay, so I still had to learn to share.)
I felt I had a right to be possessive of him. After all, I was the one who trimmed his ear hairs. (Though my eyes were assuredly better than those of my grandmother – who’d transitioned to a large print bible – some days, I believe he asked me to do this deed simply because he thought it was safer for a kid to be wielding a sharp instrument over him in lieu of testing his wife’s Irish temperament.)

But I digress…

My father and uncle were both intrigued by their Native American heritage and, for years, searched out related artifacts.
My dad turned me into a junior archaeological librarian, as I’d assist him in organizing and tagging his finds by appropriate periods. I can recall also getting to go on “archaeological digs,” walking sandbars during the cold winter months, most often needing to be carried by my father, as my small frame would sink into the soft mud as if I were being swallowed up by quicksand. Many years later, my father and uncle were killed in a boating accident in January, out in those same waters where the three of us explored our heritage together. As much as it hurt to lose them, I couldn’t have imagined a more appropriate place for them to have been together when their spirits crossed over into eternity.

Nancy Ward print by deceased artist Ben Hampton

Hiskyteehee (Five Killer) print by deceased artist Ben Hampton

One of the gifts my father left me was a Ben Hampton print of Nancy Ward.
Awhile back, as my youngest son was lying on our couch, his head hanging upside down, he peered up at the print and inquired, “Mama, is that you?”
I was amused when I asked him if he thought it looked like me. He sat up and somberly nodded, still waiting for my answer. He was a little disappointed to hear that it wasn’t, but then he became intrigued with Nancy Ward’s story and decided to embrace that part of his heritage too. He now has a print of Five Killer in his hangout space (in which I can more easily see myself, having a “don’t tick me off” scar in the exact same spot; mine, admittedly, came from my neighbor’s cat, Herbie George, who decided to engage in a surprise attack when I thought we were in the midst of a peace treaty. I wish I was wearing his claw around my neck as a symbol, where I could then refer to him as “Cat with Nine Claws” to make him sound more intimidating. I mean, Five Killer started off as LittleFellow. Sometimes, you do what you have to do…)

I didn’t think anymore about my son’s remark of my resemblance to Nancy Ward until a few weeks ago at work. There, I have a framed poster in my office from an Eastern & Western Cherokee Council Reunion, which my dad attended (with my uncle and Ben Hampton, as I recall) & which has a montage of Mr. Hampton’s Cherokee Heritage prints. Our new secretary walked into my office, took one look at the poster and asked, “Is that you in that picture?” Nancy Ward? Are you serious? Don’t I wish? I did have a proud moment of sharing the who’s & why’s of that poster, though. And, admittedly, I do enjoy having some obvious features from that particular part of my heritage, just as I do from the many other parts of my heritage.

What I don’t enjoy are the negative connotations that people place on that heritage, just as I don’t enjoy other negative connotations that sometimes surround me. Just as my heritage may create some confusion for me, so do people who make unjust slurs against others in the name of being offended, with no regard for what offense the accuser has created. The term “Indian giver” is one such example, being bestowed upon Native Americans because of a misunderstanding in communication and trade customs; yet not bestowed upon those who came in with no regard for such customs and forced natives from their own territories under purposefully perilous conditions, providing them little means for success in prosperity or survival. (Here’s where you might need to reference the Trail of Tears.)

That savage sort of thing still happens in modern social circles – at least in the spiritual, if not the physical realm.

Invaders show up in our own private sanctuaries of peacefulness, determined to drive us out (or basically, just drive us crazy). The offenses of which we get accused only exist as excuses to control our soul’s treasure. Any gifts of grace and peace offerings we produce get scoffed at, with newly fabricated accusations made. Invaders work overtime to convince others that we want them to bestow something of greater value to us in return (basically, because scoffers over-value whatever power they believe they wield). Once our weaknesses have been explored and exposed, these conquerors – convinced they have used up anything in us that was of importance to them – push us aside, out to the margins, treating us as if we never had any heritage here at all. Soon, we feel as though our peace has become some antiquated artifact that must be dug up in pieces and put back together if it is to be discovered again.

  • We see it happen in homes.
  • We experience it in the workplace.
  • It crops up in churches as easily as in middle schools.
  • When focused on themselves, people seem to have a tendency to want to de-value and drive others out for their own selfish purposes – to steal another’s heritage of belonging.

Whenever that happens to me, I take time to remind myself of my most important heritage – the one in which I am a daughter of a heavenly King. In Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). In Christ, there is no east or west (United Methodist Hymnal, No. 548); thus we are not sent on a journey of separation from others. In fact, our God reconciles, telling us He “will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). I’m also pretty sure there are no gossipy trouble-makers in that land of peace because we’re told that, “only in the place of hypocrites will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51). (I can’t think of any better example of how teeth gnashing must look than to watch a gossiper in action, chewing up a gut-full  of someone else’s troubles.)

No one said we had to wait for the new creation, though, to experience life’s best heritage. When Jesus walked among us in the flesh, He said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). We are expected to live in peace and harmony with this land and the beings with which we have been entrusted in the here and now. Native Americans have long understood the spirituality and sacredness of all of creation. The gifts that they gave, such as roots that seemed worthless to the white man, held great meaning and often the power of healing or sustenance. Likewise, the gifts we give of ourselves, in which we know the value and meaning, may be received by others as meaningless, with that same sort of haughtiness and open disdain.

This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the gifts of your heritage, though – the ones that are given to you because you ARE expected to graciously share them with others. I want to encourage you not to be driven out – but to go. Go be an Indian Giver. Offer goodness when others don’t have the capacity to understand the value. Offer peace in the midst of strife. As for the scoffers…II Peter 3:3 tells us to expect them. But then we’re told: “But in keeping with His promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:13). In my mind, that new creation will look much like Native American spirituality, full of nurturing relationships between all people, land, and all living things. We are called to be part of that new creation in the here and now.

LORD, of all the characteristics that others may see,

let them most clearly heed the heritage of You in me.

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Sieving the Light

Re-Sieving Light

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Inspired by Trifextra for the Weekend…on the subject of light. Here’s the exact wording of the challenge:

“This weekend’s prompt is to write 33 words exactly inspired by the following photo project by Eirik Solheim.  Each slice of the photo compilation is a different day of the year, taken from the same location. Note the progression of light and seasons.  Take some time to ponder the rebirth and resurgence and ultimate triumph that is nature and growth and light.  Think about time and the sun and the movement of both.  Fill yourself up with it, and then write.”

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.N1EHgLS2.dpuf

In response, I considered how blind we are to so much going on around us and how very different we see through our various lenses. Each time we see from another perspective, in many ways, it may be as miraculous as a blind person receiving sight for the first time. Perhaps there’s excitement on one level, resistance to the change on another – regardless of the originally planned desire “to see.” Even the blind person surely already “saw” – just differently. In either case, we must re-sieve (re-filter) that which we thought we understood well before. Isn’t that a good lesson to learn from the changing seasons gifted upon us? The fact that it happens again and again, each and every year, tells me there are many lessons for us to learn – or maybe only one in which we need a lifetime of practice to get!

I hope you enjoy my varying perspectives in formatting here, where I’m attempting to guide you through the change in a direction your eyes might not have naturally chosen for you.

Peace on your journey,

-jody

How to Keep Your Friends by “Dumping” Them

What’s in the bag?”

“Little of this…little of that. All in all, some pretty useless stuff.”

“Now you’ve piqued my interest. What’ve you trapped in that silk prison on your arm?”

“ I used to carry items that I thought were important to my appearance there – a tube of lipstick, a compact for smoothing imperfections, a brush to freshen up, a credit card for purchasing any whims I fancied. Eventually, I came to grasp that accumulations were just weighing me down. That’s when I cleared all that stuff out to make room. Now this bag serves a much greater purpose.”

<Long, Uncomfortable Pause>

“I’m still waiting for an answer to my original question. What on earth are you carrying around in that pretty little bag swinging from your arm?”

“Don’t let its outer appearance fool you. Its contents aren’t all that impressive, truth be told.”

<Shorter, Terser Pause>

“Very well. If you absolutely must know…. It’s full of today’s mind clutter.”

“Pardon? Did you just say…?”

“Yes, I did, as a matter of fact.”

“Why in heaven’s name would you empty out your beautiful purse, only to fill it with…mind clutter?!”

“I’d rather contain it there for a time as have it swimming in my head, distracting my brain all day. At day’s end, I simply open it and dump this mess out, then begin fresh tomorrow.”

“Interesting concept. What happens if you mistake essential information and accidentally discard it too?”

“Have you been staying up early again?”

“Staying up early?! That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. No, you’re the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard – someone carrying a purse full of mind clutter.

Wait! What are you doing? Are you placing this memory of me in there?! How dare you!! Take it out this instant!”

***

“Trust me. By the time I dump this tonight, my mind will be emptied of all insults it tried to heap onto you in retaliation. Better this way. We can be friends again – come tomorrow.”

As I ended this post, I was reminded of this beautiful gift I received from a physician visiting the states from India, after spending the day working with him on imaging simulator demonstrations.

As I ended this post, I was reminded of this beautiful gift I received from a physician visiting the states from India, after spending the day working with him on imaging simulator demonstrations. Isn’t it marvelous?

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I took the opportunity to provide this little moral life lesson through 2 fun writing prompts heaped upon me this week.

inmonsterbadge1The first was from BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday prompts (in which I worked to use them all – because it’s more interesting to see how the story turns out that way). Stephanie likes to “tease” and say there are no rules, but since such a thought gives me a migraine, here are the rules-oriented prompts:

  • Silk Prison
  • Waiting for an Answer
  • Mind Clutter
  • What’s in the Bag
  • Staying up Early

Other non-rules “highly suggest” limiting between 200-500 words.

From there, I looked for the opportunity to incorporate this week’s Trifecta prompt, which slid right there in the midst of my ridiculous bag. So before I accidentally dump it as useless information, here’s the uncluttered word and definition that had to be used:

GRASP (verb) – 3rd definition

3 : to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.OVZymUQ4.dpuf

By the way, Trifecta requires between 33-333 words. (My count came in at 333, which just so happens to land between 200 and 500 – how fortuitous!). By the way, this week’s entries are being community judged at Trifecta. So come one, come all! Come read, come vote, come enter!

The Measure of Grace

Human beings spend inordinate amounts of time taking measurements, whether it involves measuring up to someone else’s standards or measuring one’s value or worth based on societal standards. It seems we do not feel self assured without basing our claims on others’ interpretations of such measurements. Unfortunately, these measures are most often biased to include personalized or societal expectations of how one should perform within the contexts of certain roles.

Above is a poem (measuring me through someone else’s eyes), handed to me one day at church by my sweet, inspirational young friend, Gracie – with whom I share a love of poetry. By the measure of societal standards, Gracie doesn’t always ‘fit.’ She’s very tall for her age & a bit awkward in her prepubescent gait. Her family struggles financially, so her clothes, even when clean, are often well-worn. Sometimes she struggles in school – particularly in English & Reading (so she tells me). Top it off with her giant, gentle spirit, and you can probably imagine that Gracie gets bullied sometimes. Yet, she’s always Grace-filled.

Below is Gracie’s poem, typed out, in case you’re having trouble reading the original above. I left all spellings and grammar in their original form, without editing for corrections. (And trust me, I had to ask my teacher personality to have some grace on me, so I wouldn’t fall short and succumb to that expected published standard.)

Your eyes sparkles like glitter.

You shine like the sun.

You glow in the night.

You faith is strong but your love is stronger.

Your hope and kindness is wonderful.

Your a great person.

Your sweet like candy.

Your smart like a genius.

Your a beautiful person.

Your a giving person to everyone you meet.

My first thought, when receiving Gracie’s poetic gift, was, ‘Wow, how I only wish I could measure up to be an inkling of her creative portrayal of me!’ Oh sure, by someone else’s standards (someone who might have had a more critical eye for mechanical detail), some corrections for spelling, punctuation and errors could have easily been the mark of measurement. But look at what would have been missed! ‘That person’ would’ve missed Gracie’s expression of her feelings, her grace-filled affection, and her ability to metaphorically compose them to flow forth through her elementary school pencil. I couldn’t help but praise her talent and encourage her to continue practicing her gift of poetry.

Perhaps because we were sitting there in church when she handed me that poem, I was more in tune with spiritual writings when this Matthew verse came to mind:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…

and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I believe the impact of this truth comes through the lens we’re using when we’re measuring someone else – the one that’s being reflected through our own heart’s standard.

In my reflection, it dawned on me that, despite the measures others will try to apply to her, by her own standard of measurement, my friend, Gracie, is going to do just fine in life! And you know what? I believe I have proof! Last week, she excitedly informed me that a poem she had written to her school teacher had not only been accepted to be published, it had won first place in a poetry contest. Gracie was judged by a standard of measure that determined she will be receiving a $500 savings bond towards college tuition!

So what about you? Have you ever considered your own standards of measure?

Your value?

Others’ worth?

If so, and you find these are falling as short as our economy, it may simply be time to reflect upon the placement of your interest – and to allow yourself and others to be judged by the marks of Grace.

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Moments of Perfection Can’t Be Perfectly Planned

I’m a planner. What can I say? I keep a daily task list not just at work, but one for my personal life too. Then I combine the two on both a weekly task list and on my digital calendar. I check off those items I accomplish throughout the day, religiously reviewing and revising my list each evening. This is how I keep my busy life on track. I schedule kids’ events, work events, church events, recreational events, appointments, blog posts, and even medicinal/vitamin dosing as they should occur throughout the day.

It’s not a perfect system, by any means. Nor is it always appreciated by others.

Once a professor divided our class into groups, asking us to describe how we would each be beneficial to our team. Excitedly, I stepped up, sure I knew my answer. Light-heartedly, I introduced myself as an efficient Task Master. Before I could explain how proficient I was at planning timelines to keep a project on task, a gentleman (I use that term loosely) in the group piped up with, “You’re delirious if you think you’re going to waltz in here and boss the rest of us around!” (His name was John, by the way, in case he ever spontaneously reads this post and has cause to wonder if I’m referring to him. Yes, John, it’s you.) It was then I realized a) task master wasn’t a humorously-recognized term in all cultures (such as the culture of miserable jerks seeking company); b) humor does not have the power to break down personal issue barriers (probably not the sound barrier either); c) groups don’t always wish to operate within the realm of organization (why bother when chaos can rule?); and d) when another group position becomes available, I’m an immediate bail-out..more than happy to spontaneously say adios to a hostile teammate (who, incidentally, ended the semester with only one other teammate who made him carry the entire load).

You’d better believe I made a bee-line out – oh, and a black line through all forthcoming scheduled Group A activities. Long live Group B!

Playing within the realm of photography has best taught me that spontaneous captures are, surprisingly, my favorite life moments. That’s not to say I can’t interject a little planning along the way…but I so enjoy being surprised by that which had never originally been planned. (Pause: I don’t even rate as an amateur photographer – – I’m a picture-taker who loves to share my thoughts by creating an image of my surroundings – fiction or non.)

Sometimes the “picture” (idea) sneaks up on me when I’m not even contemplating  it. Just this week, for instance, I finished a moderately difficult bike course of 25 miles, where I had worked some tough hills and maintained my target rate. As I cruised the parking lot, regaining my land legs before I unclipped, I glimpsed at the sky and noticed a glorious site. I thought, I wish I had my camera with me. Then it dawned on me that my iPhone was tucked in my back jersey pocket. I climbed off and, with some measure of shakiness, snapped this photo:

I pronounced, “The heavens opened up & the angels sang! Oh wait. I’m just delirious.”

I knew it wasn’t going to have the resolution of my Nikon, but I was pleased with the sun ray effect I’d been able to capture. It wasn’t until I later saw it on the computer that I realized I couldn’t have timed a bird release that well if I’d tried – one I hadn’t even noticed when I took the shot! (Or was that an angel descending from heaven?!) What a great spontaneous addition!

Without sounding conceited, I also have a favorite photo of myself, though of very poor resolution – taken during a spontaneously silly moment. I love it so well because it’s 100% “me” of enjoyment. No posing, no business-like stiffness, no look-directly-into-the-camera cheesy smile. It manages to capture an unadulterated, gut-busting moment I was having.

laughter

Admittedly, sometimes I’m planning for a photo when something better than I could’ve imagined comes along. I had recently been parked at the end of a private drive, patiently waiting to capture our malaria cyclists in route with a beautiful mountainous backdrop when I heard a shot discharged into the air from the “holler” behind me and heard a man “holler” for me to get on down the road. I at least got a mountain view photo first (just for spite).

DSC_0547

Oops. Looks like I also got the unplanned inclusion of the road sign (just in case anybody’s interested.)

Mr. “I’m not running a meth lab or a moonshine still down here” did me a huge favor, actually. I got down the road in time not only to be met by a magnificent surprise field of vibrant wildflowers, but had time to get out and frame my upcoming shot. Spontaneity in planning. I couldn’t have been more pleased. (If you follow my blog, you’ll easily recognize this recent photo as a favorite of mine.)

Riding through the Wildflowers

Riding through the Wildflowers

I’m learning to try to keep my “good camera” with me more often these days, in hopes of grabbing more spontaneous captures. Where that planning fails, however, my little iPhone buddy is always ready and willing to help. In either case, photography (okay, picture taking, if you have to get all “John-snooty” about it) is inviting me to interact with my surroundings more closely and more often, feeling the freedom to stop and smell the…geese.

photo (42)

No zoom lens here. Luckily, Mama Goose didn’t call a “fowl” on my close-encounter intrusion.

Now I ask you…how much more perfection could I possibly plan than that?!

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Haunted…

Each day I undertake, I am haunted

by some decision, indiscretion or regret.

Though the greatest affliction I may truly ever suffer

would be the one which I would choose but to forget.

© jody love

Sudanese child and vulture

This image, taken by photographer Kevin Carter (now deceased) of a starving Sudanese child and a patiently waiting vulture, caught the eye of our Conference Bishop several years ago – and broke his heart. Since that time, our church conference has been involved in supplying vast needs (though never enough) while helping to build churches, schools, orphanages, assisting in crop production, water supplied through good wells, and stocked ponds, fighting malaria and other diseases, and building relationships. Some things in this world need to haunt us until we can’t help but respond.

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Trifextra: Week Seventy-Five just wants 33 words this week – my style.

Grab onto the link & come join up if you’ve got 33 of your own to contribute. 🙂

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