Woven

Woven
by Emily Boulter

He  weaves with thread
dyed colors you have
not yet seen.

Colors that fold in
and out
that frame and trace
your journey.

Do not think you can undo
His work.
Tapestries are always
two-sided.

While you dwell…

gazing at the backside
ribbed with knots,

remember.

You only see distortion.
The bumps make smooth.
The broken threads are tied.
When He turns the fabric of your soul,

He sees His image sewn.

 

 

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Emily is a professional writer with a B.A. in English & Writing from Regent University. She has a deep passion for helping others through her writing and non-profit initiatives. Emily lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and can easily be found hiking, horseback riding, or reading in one of the local coffee shops. Connect with her on Instagram.

Dying in Beauty Reveals God in Goodness

Dying in Beauty Reveals God in Goodness
(Palindrome for Autumn)
by Michele Morin

Leaves fall down
(for life is short),
and dying in beauty
reveals God in goodness.

For
goodness in God
reveals beauty in dying,
and short is life
for down fall leaves.

 

 

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Michele Morin is a wife, Mum to four great men and three daughters-in-love, and Bam to four adorable grandchildren. Active in educational ministries with the church she calls home, Michele writes, speaks, and teaches from a desire to see women become Christ- followers & students of God’s Word. She writes every week about the books she is reading and the grace she is receiving at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Steps to Picking Raspberries

Steps to Picking Raspberries
by Jody Collins

First, avoid the bumblebees
zooming in for latent sugar
dripping in the rain, their heavy
soaking reflected in drops
from satiated rubies you hope
to pop in your mouth.

Second, beware the mildew, mold
and bursting moisture of berries
too long on the vine, having missed
the summer sun as you did, wondering
at the absent heat lo, these many months.

Third, cast a watchful gaze
at ubiquitous spiders who’ve homed
themselves midst the leaves, hiding
from the birds and maybe you. Their webs
give them away, as do the smattering
of mottled globes in the bottom
of your small bucket.

Lastly, swallow them, tiny yet tasty,
fresh and fruitful on this first day of Fall.

*This poem is from Jody’s book of poetry, Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems and Prayers

 

 

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Jody Collins is a blatant philologist and poetry lover living in the Pacific Northwest with her very patient husband. She uses both gardening and writing as therapy, often featuring her 6 grandchildren, whom she thanks God for daily. Jody’s been penning words since Smith-Corona typewriters graced the desks of her middle school, but nowadays you can find her thoughts at www.jodyleecollins.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

Autumn on the Island

Autumn on the Island
by Jodie McCallie

The wind sighing high in the tree tops sounds like the surf
until I reach the beach
where the waves crash ashore with a louder declaration
until they reach the sand
where they sough up the shoreline and sound like the wind
high in the treetops

where does the ocean end and the sky begin
where does the water start and the wind cease

Mangroves are master of this domain – reaching up to the sky
and out to caress the water
with long, thin fingers stretching down, where fish disappear
seemingly into the forest
while feathered friends easily travel from branches to brine
and from water to woods

where does the sea cease and the mud begin
where does the island start and the lagoon end

The rebirth of the sea grapes leaves a blanket on the floor
crunchy, drying leaves
on the branches, green yields to yellow, yields to brown
then yields to the ground
all submitting to the plant, as its branches free new spaces
for emerging leaves of green

where does the tree end and the ground begin
where does dying cease and renewal start

 

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Jodie McCallie is an Australian who has embraced her life in the United States. She is a part time poet, who makes her living in corporate America. Jodie loves nature and connecting with God through the beauty of His creation. She uses poetry to worship, and to make sense of the world around her, and is currently exploring the value of poetry as a gateway to healing and personal growth. Jodie lives in Georgia with her husband and two rescue dogs. You can find her on Facebook.

Light Dancing

Light Dancing
by Charlotte-Anne Allen

Light dancing on splashes
of gold, red, and orange
beckons to passers-by.

Greens and browns
wave their fronds,
seasons past and to come.

Evening’s chill
brings thoughts of tomorrow,
as time tolls; prepare!

Day’s warmth
welcomes memories
of life, laughter, and tears.

And so we dance,
welcoming light’s hope,
in quiet contemplation.

And so we dance,
resting sorrow
in those swaying boughs.

And so we dance,
for life’s joys
in our Creator’s being.

Light dancing on splashes
of gold, red, and orange
beckons to passers-by.

 

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Charlotte-Anne Allen is a writer and a creative blogger who loves to offer encouragement and to share thoughts about life and faith, through poems and reflections. She was a guest author for a daily devotional for homeschool moms and has served as a speech-language pathologist for over thirty-five years. Charlotte-Anne is a member of Compel (a writers’ group) and was a founding member of Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild. You can find her at her blog, The Still Small Voice – For Just a Weed.

Mountain Metaphor

Mountain Metaphor
by Leslie McLeod

Like the stoic evergreens that flanked the steeply ascending trail, our marriage had long survived—scarred but strengthened through seasons of drought, infestation, lashing storms.

Love compelled me to climb.  He had invited, hoping to inspire my fitness and long life.  I had accepted, hoping to share in his passion for the hike.

As the elevation increased, my lungs cursed the anemic air.  Impoverished of oxygen, my limbs and attitude grew leaden, balky.  I longed to turn back and abandon our quest for the elusive mountain lake.

“How much farther?” I asked a couple of descending hikers.  With halos visible only to me, they assured me it was close; and after I’d struggled on for another fifteen minutes, the welcoming water appeared ahead, flung with fleeting diamonds by a winking sun.

I sank to the earth near its banks, leaning against an accommodating boulder, inhaling enjoyment with all of my senses.  Aroma of pungent pine and primordial mud.  Brazen aspens, rustling golden leaves like dancers’ coins.  Cold alpine water, shocking, teasing my naked toes.  Breezes singing through treetops and mountain passes, counterpoint to the creek’s cheerful allegro.  Intense tang of hard cheese, spicy sausages, and sweet dried fruit.

Like our relationship—challenging, imperfect, enduring— the filter of our toil painted the scene’s layered beauty with intensity and value beyond measure.

 

 

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Living near the Southern California coast, Leslie’s artistic leanings balance her role as co-owner of a tech company with her husband. She picks up her pen again after a hiatus to raise their two children and develop a passion for painting. Having lost her parents a few years ago, she is writing a book to help other women walk through that painful season without the added burden of unresolved relationship regret. Leslie also writes articles, poetry, and a blog. She loves to share the voice of her soul’s Beloved. She writes and paints at www.lamcleod.com and you can connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

When I Fail to be Faithful

When I Fail to be Faithful
by Leslie Jones

I watch the waves lap at the shoreline from my seat on the beach, the glistening Sea of Galilee spread before me. Kicking off my sandals, I lift my face skyward, relishing the warmth of the afternoon sun. My eyes close as a slight breeze ruffles my hair. Daydreaming about being in a fishing boat with Jesus, I pause my reverie to thank God for this trip of a lifetime, a 10-day tour through the Holy Land with members of my home church.

A bird squawks overhead, rousing me from my moment of prayer. As I burrow my toes in the sand, I picture Peter sitting here on this same beach, nibbling on the fish-breakfast Jesus prepared soon after the resurrection. I imagine the guilt roiling inside him as he recalled his faithlessness, denying his Lord three times despite having boldly declared just days before, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” I visualize the flush of shame on Peter’s cheeks as he waits for Jesus to confront his denial.

In my mind’s eye I watch the scene: Jesus asks three times, “Do you love me?” With each affirmative answer, Peter is challenged to shepherd those who belong to Him. While Peter may have interpreted the question as a rebuke for his three denials, I believe Jesus used this conversation as a redemptive act, a ‘recommissioning’ for Peter. A graduation from his role as a disciple to an Apostle who would deliver Jesus’ teachings to others.

I bow my head, searching my heart to see where I’ve denied Jesus in the past and where I’m denying Him presently. Am I denying His forgiveness, His healing, His truth? Do I believe that nothing is beyond His reach, that He will forgive the times I’ve turned away from Him? Am I boldly sharing the Gospel as He commands, unafraid of people’s reactions? Am I living out my faith in Christ or am I failing to be faithful?

Hot tears roll down my cheeks as I consider just how little faith I have sometimes. As much as I want to judge Peter for his faithlessness, I can’t because I know what it’s like to set out with good intentions and then slip up on the follow-through. I’ve felt my own face flush with shame when my words, thoughts, and actions prove I still question who Jesus says He is or what He says He’ll do.

Yet there on the shore, Jesus ministers to me as He did Peter. With holy tenderness, He asks, “Do you love me, Leslie?” I breathe in whispers of redemption and forgiveness as I breathe out, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” He asks me twice more, my answer the same. Goosebumps ripple across my body as my soul rises to accept His forgiveness. This is my recommissioning, my recommitment to the challenge He lays before me: “Follow me.”

My failure doesn’t disqualify me from the holy assignment to care for His sheep. Though I’m faithless at times, Jesus remains faithful to His promise to be with me “to the end of the age.” Oh, what mercy there is in His faithfulness.

 

 

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A lover of words, running, and Jesus, Leslie Jones believes a strong faith is built one intentional step at a time.  Her most cherished roles are wife to restaurant-guru Kelley and mom to rambunctious Ryder. Her words have appeared in The Joyful Life and with Proverbs 31 ministries. In her downtime, she can be found training for her next long-distance race, sipping strong hot tea, or designing Lego creations with her son. She makes her home in the wild desert of Las Vegas. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook as @jonesleslieann.

Infinity Within

Infinity Within
by Sarah Freymuth

Smoke rises into the night, plumes of flame in the barrel. Stars scattered across the sky; Milky Way bow tie stretched against the black. My friend Jordan and his pipe, sweet scent of tobacco. We scan the dark, silent water, which stretches on and on, shrouded in the back of his family’s home. I tuck my legs tighter under my blanket and lean into the cool air, hidden from me for so long. I am continually in awe that I am in this moment, this breath, atoms of afterlife colliding with the now. How his family so graciously lets me into their lives, gives me space to stake my soul about the water.

He takes another puff of his pipe, expelling smoke to mingle with the ashes rising from the fire. I’ve waited a full year for this, to say goodbye to my unfamiliar, wavering life and head north of the tension line, to a palpable quiet on Washington Island, a forgotten existence. To rest in slowness, nowhere to go, no thoughts to think that raise my pulse.

So many stars splitting open wide the night. He teaches me to spot Polaris: North Star. Guiding light. I count out the spaces and marvel at how ordinary it looks, same size as its brothers in the sky.

How is God no beginning? he asks. I nod my head languid, drowsy with the freshness of island, saturation of my soul. Without knowing, I am lifted to the place I crave, where my heart rests, refuels, simply is.

How is there infinity beyond us? I counter. Or within us, for that matter? Flutter of bats silhouette across the bay. Deep glow of liner headlights crossing their nocturnal course. Rhythm of life silken and subdued. Right as it should be. My neck strains to the cosmos, eyes drinking in stars that burn in flashes, leave streaks among God’s windowpanes. In this vast canvas, constellations come to life, bold and more beautiful than fables explain. Celestial beings bend close, caress our conversation and hearts eager to solve the mysteries of the universe. We dissect philosophy, the unfathomable things of life, endless realm of infinity, the wonderings of God.

My limbs slip further into the fabric of chair. I pull my arms in the pockets of my sweatshirt, which burrows around me in comfort cocoon. The yard, damp with dew. Another whiff of tobacco, cherry, and bark. Breaks in the quiet, questions asked which will get no answers. That is the way of this world; still, we examine and toss the deep ends of our minds into the night.

How in this expanse are we significant?

Such a canopy before us, such delicate design. Jordan dumps the remains of his finished pipe into the fire but holds onto the handle, transferring warmth from the bowl to his hands.

Sleep comes for me with friendly fetching, hand on my shoulder, stirring me to bed. Stars still slash across the sky, dilate my pupils with their escalating light before dissipating behind the curtain of the supernatural other side. Clues to my faith I thought I wanted to find sit undiscovered in the unexplainable tonight.

Again, my eyes stray to Polaris. Guiding light. Looking identical to the other dots glimmering above except for the truth of its location. Eyes fall back to the fire. One last lick of flame before it’s doused, fogging up the airwaves. My skin shivers in this new coolness, bumps curve my flesh, hover the hairs on my arms. Ink still drying the dark pool of ether. Heart drinks it in, wrapping within my undisturbed spaces. With slow consent, I rise and fold my blanket, inhale the deepness of grass, charcoal log, lake reeds. Pulse of embers rife with awareness. Ring of light marshalling the new moon. Smile stretches my lips in nature’s rouse to dream, high above and close within.

I do not want to lose this part of me—the still soul, the lover of life, the dreamer. I cannot waste away the wonder. Cannot squelch the significance rumbling deep beneath my breast, beneath the exquisite arc of proof that I am so much smaller than I hope, brighter than I imagine. The significance of my infinity among the earthbound swells, expands.

 

 

Fall Headshot

Sarah Freymuth writes at the intersection of beauty and the every day while grappling with God’s goodness when life projects otherwise. She is the communications manager for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a member of Redbud Writers Guild, is the editor of Awake Our Hearts, loves a good cup of black coffee, and enjoys her simple Midwest life in Wisconsin. Connect with her at www.sarahfreymuth.com and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hope Among Thwarted Plans

Hope Among Thwarted Plans
by Rachel Britton

My husband turned the key in the lock. “We’ll live here for ten years at least,” he said as we stepped over the threshold. I smiled. After twelve months of house hunting, we had signed papers on the perfect home.

Blue wisteria flowers hung over the doorway, forming a fragrant arch to our front door. My dream of a house covered with a well-established vine cascading with flowers had come true. A stunning chequered mosaic of small black and white tiles covered the narrow hallway floor, so typical of the Victorian and Edwardian era, fulfilling my love for this era. We were now proud owners of a delightful Edwardian house in a desirable London neighborhood famous for the residence of Maggie Thatcher, one of Britain’s former leaders, and its private schools.

Having worked hard to climb the career ladder of the BBC, and now with my nest pad, I saw the opportunity to take a break and start a family. A few months later with a baby on the way, we were settling into the community and ready to raise our family in this area of south London.

The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote in To a Mouse: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Ten months later I stood at Heathrow airport with my six-week-old daughter nestled in one arm, while I held onto an airport cart with the other. I watched my husband pile bulging suitcases and duct-taped cardboard boxes from the car onto the cart. A travel cot sat precariously on top. These were all our worldly possessions for the next three months.

A “sold” sign hung outside our little terraced home with the blue wisteria archway. Furniture and all our other belongings, having been professionally packed, sat in a shipping container making their journey across the Atlantic. A United States work visa had been stamped in my husband’s passport just a few weeks earlier. Now, we clutched one-way airline tickets to Boston—a city I had never visited, in a New England that I couldn’t believe would have anything in common with England besides its name.

Whereas other new moms were settling into freshly decorated nurseries, I was setting up a travel cot in one hotel room after another. While other proud parents were enjoying their new babies receiving the admiration of family and friends, I could only hang onto the passing comments of strangers. When other first-time moms could spend time getting to know their nursing babies, I was learning that nappies were called diapers, that prams were strollers, and that I couldn’t find a decent cup of tea anywhere.

In the midst of my turmoil and misery, I called out to God. I hadn’t talked to him for years. I sat on the floor in the bedroom of our rented apartment, my daughter napping in her travel cot, tears streaming down my face. I spoke only two anguished words: “help me.” In that moment I knew God heard my cry, for I felt an instant, overwhelming sense of peace.

In the years that have passed since that point in time, I have learned God loves me enough to thwart my plans in favor of his own. Even though I left my homeland behind, I gained a far better home for both now and the future secured by my heavenly Father through knowing Jesus.

We make plans with good intentions, but God has plans with the best intentions. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

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Rachel is a British-born writer, author, and speaker whose passion is to help others become comfortable and confident in their conversation with God. Her blog “Praying Naturally” offers an extensive library of free prayer resources to help you deepen and develop your prayer life. Rachel is wife to Colin and mom to three young adults. She cannot live without a mug of English tea. Connect with Rachel on Facebook.

Rain in the Desert

Rain in the Desert
by ST Chapman

I call them prayer walks. But are they really? I walk, I meditate, I plan, and I just appreciate. I imagine as I set out from my car that Jesus is walking with me. I invite him and of course, he graciously agrees to come along. And I start out ok. Remembering He is there beside me. But soon enough. Well, soon enough, I am planning my dinner, my schedule for the rest of the week, perhaps a future trip or event. And every now and then, I remember Jesus is with me and he loves me in spite of the distractions.

I used to be a runner, slow and steady. I would listen to music as I plodded along, mile after mile, with dreams of future marathons floating round my brain. I would picture myself strong and fast, even though I wasn’t either. But it didn’t matter. When you tell someone you “just did 10 miles that morning before work,” they rarely ask if you are fast. Or strong. They just assume that because you ran longer than they drove that day that you are pretty amazing. And the truth is, you really are.

But those days ended a few years ago when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease whose primary purpose is to attack my joints. And for me, the place that got the worst of it was my feet. The bottom of my feet. Tender, inflamed. Before the diagnosis, I thought perhaps I was just running too much. That maybe I had a running injury, that badge of honor that confirmed I was indeed an athlete. Laughable in hindsight, but there you have it. After three new pairs of running shoes, a new mattress, and a reluctant break from all things physical, I went to the doctor and learned that nothing was going to cure me. I would have this for life. The best I could hope for (and a definite possibility) was to find a medication that would alleviate the pain to where it would be more tolerable. And there was certainly the potential that I would run again. But it didn’t feel like it at the time, and it still doesn’t.

And so, I walk. And I am happy enough with this because I couldn’t walk much at all in 2019. I could walk through the house. I could, on a good day, walk the block to the nearby grocery store. But most days, I simply sat in my chair and waited for the medications to do what I was paying them to do. And it took over a year. I can walk now. A few miles at a time on a good day. But I can walk and so I do. With Jesus.

Today’s walk was particularly special. There is rain in the desert. In a place that gets 350 days of sunshine a year, a rainy day in the spring is a pearl in an oyster. There are different birds today, singing songs I do not know. The washes are filled with water, runoff from the towering rocks that hover over us like shadows from a cloud across a large open field. They form small but violent waterfalls, and the sound is deafening. There are flowers I haven’t noticed in days gone by and against the grey and muddled skies, the color is as vibrant as a celebration, perhaps Holi.

Rain in the desert is a gift. A quenching of thirst for a parched landscape that likes to think it is mean and hardy, but like the rest of everything on this planet, needs a few drops of grace now and again. This is when the desert comes alive, revealing secrets we can only glimpse when the water washes away the stains that hide a vulnerable and beating heart. It is an answered prayer, reminding us that better days are possible, if only for a time.

I feel the rain on my own face and do not hide. Instead, I take off my hat to experience all it has to offer. Like the giant saguaro cactus, I stand tall and unafraid and accept this cleansing, feeling my sins wash away as they did years ago in that baptismal. I taste salt, miles and miles from the ocean. I look over at Jesus and he is crying too. He knows.

And then the rain stops with the same suddenness from which it started and the desert yawns with false bravado, resuming its familiar rhythms once more. Like a tough guy, pretending he doesn’t care when his love walks away again. But if you pay attention and look very closely, you can see the tears still wet on his cheeks.

 

 

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ST Chapman lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. One of her essays was recently featured in Just Between Us. When there isn’t a pandemic, she can be found traveling the world, meeting interesting people and writing about them.  You can connect with her at www.stchapman.com and Instagram: @stchapmanwriter.