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A Hobby

02-13-18 A Hobby

Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

A Hobby

My pencil
has begun to tell
simple stories

© 2018 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

(“A Hobby” was the photo prompt for Feb. 13, from Capture Your 365 [#CY365] February list.)

And the finished piece inspired by the Matt Tommey’s 30-day Art Challenge (of which I’ve done a mere four so far) for day 14: “Create a piece of art using only shades of one color of your choosing.”

It’s based on “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3.

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Photo © 2018 by V. Nesdoly

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Glory Tour (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

Dec 31 Happy New Year

Last moon of 2017 (photo ©Dec. 31, 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Welcome to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, February edition. Today we’re moodling on the moon.

To tell you the truth, I don’t have much of a relationship with the moon. It’s beautiful, for sure. I do love to see it bulge orange and bountiful over the horizon on a clear evening. I associate moonrises with autumn on the prairie, the thrum of combines and trucks in the background, my dad and uncle taking advantage of every bit of light to gather in the harvest of wheat and oats. But most of the time I feel sorry for the moon staring distant, cold, and lone into the night.

Of course the moon’s prominence, cool beauty, and mystery are impossible to miss. One of my favourite childhood poems was about the moon. You probably know it:

“Slowly silently now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way and that she peers and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;”

Read the rest of “Silver” by Walter de la Mare HERE.

It’s not surprising that the moon has been a worship object in many religions (and probably still is). Its waxing, waning, and connection to tides and seasons surely invest it with mysterious power that is only reinforced by the occasional eclipse. I love the poem “Lunar Eclipse (June 1928)” by D. S. Martin (a poem from his chapbook So the Moon Would Not Be Swallowed—a collection of poems inspired by correspondence from his grandparents who were missionaries in China). In it, he describes the reaction of the Chinese people to the lunar eclipse in June of 1928:

LUNAR ECLIPSE (JUNE 1928)
Yencheng, Honan, China

On Sunday
evening as darkness crept in
the people rushed out
with gongs
& pots
& anything to make noise
to scare
the heavenly dog
that slowly
very
slowly
ever so slowly
had
placed its jaws about the moon

Read the rest of D.S. Martin’s poem HERE…

My attitude toward the moon has been influenced by my Christian faith and the Bible, which depicts it as one of God’s creations. I love how Genesis describes its beginnings:

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” – Genesis 1:16 (emphasis added).

My poem today was inspired by Psalm 19 (where the moon isn’t mentioned specifically, but we know it is a part of the created heavens).

“The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament shows His handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

Glory Tour

“God’s glory is on tour in the skies …
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere” – Psalm 19:1,4 The Message

The stars are reciting
galaxies rhyming
the language of eons
in speed-of-light timing.

The Sun’s dialect
of dangerous rays
is inflected with angles
defining our days.

The Moon serenades
tide, lover and season
chanting its charms
with quarterly reason.

The Heavens are dancing
Truth, Beauty and Wisdom.
The tickets are free,
Earth attendees are welcome!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

(Glory Tour was first published on Laurel Archer’s 2017 Advent blog.)

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyBe sure to visit our Spiritual Journey First Thursday hostess, Donna at Mainely Write for links to more moon meditations.

 

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2018 one-little-word reveal (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

Welcome to the first Spiritual Journey Thursday post of 2018. Today I and my SJT friends are unveiling our one-little-word choices for the year. My trusty altar-ego Power Shot is here to do the honors in a storyboard sequence. Take it away, PS!

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Life is full of so many lovely distractions.

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But now it’s time to get to work…

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Write and tackle that “To-do List”

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Wait. I need to see what’s happening on Twitter…

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Aand Facebook and Instagram, and Pinterest, and all the social media hangouts I love.

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No PS. FOCUS!

So there you have it, folks. My word is FOCUS.

Frankly, I was loath to leave my 2017 word LISTEN behind. So I picked its cousin who is not quite so sensory specific.

The word FOCUS came to me as somewhat of a lifesaver over the last few weeks. On November 1st, my husband had hip replacement surgery. My broken hip experience of 2014 sure came in handy here as I knew what to expect. Still, on some days the compounding of caregiving and household responsibilities together with Christmas almost bowled me over.

When I began to feel overwhelmed, I would calm myself with self-talk like: “Just do the next thing” and “Focus.” That attention to the moment and refusal to give in to distraction helped me stay on top of things through the first weeks of hubby’s recovery.

He’s well on his way back to normal now and Christmas is over. However, I’ve decided I want to hang onto FOCUS a bit longer applying it to my work, my relationships, my leisure, and my spiritual life.

The Bible passage that I’ve chosen as my focus true north is Philippians 3:13,14:

“But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

To me this means living a life of purpose that will be effective in its trajectory because of its focus on the things that matter.

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted today by Margaret Simon on her blog Reflections on the Teche. There you will find links to more 2018 one-little-word reveals. (Thanks, Margaret, for hosting and for making the swank 2018 Spiritual Journey button!)

 

 

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An early Christmas present (Hurry to Bethlehem!)

Last November I wrote a children’s Christmas poem just for fun. It was a countdown poem, starting with ten multitudes of angels, dwindling down to the one baby in the manger. I shared it with my writing friend Laurel, who liked it.

Fast forward to this fall, when Laurel took a job at our church in the children’s department. One of her responsibilities was to help plan the Christmas concert. She asked whether she could use that poem I’d written. Of course I gave permission, we made some changes, and I gave her carte blanche to use it as she liked.

A few weeks ago when I was setting up for a women’s class with the help of our pastor in charge of the technical stuff, he said as an aside, “Your book turned out really well.”

“My book?! I never wrote a book.”

“But didn’t you write the poem?”

Then it dawned on me. Laurel & company must have developed my little poem into a book.

Indeed, that is what happened.

So this Christmas, the little book I never knew I’d written has been distributed to hundreds of kids (the Sunday School children were given copies to help them memorize it for the concert) and on Sunday it will part of the show. That’s a pretty fine early Christmas present, I’d say!

I photographed it to show you…

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Front and back cover of Hurry to Bethlehem

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A multitude of angels
brightening the sky.
“Do not fear,” their leader says.
“I will tell you why.

“To you shepherds I bring news
of the greatest joy.
In Bethlehem is born this night
Messiah baby boy!

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Leave your sheep behind you here
travel to the town.
You’ll find Him in a manger
dressed in a swaddling gown.”

They hurry into Bethlehem
as fast as they are able.
On many streets they search and search
seeking the right stable.

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In barns they visit one by one
are donkeys, cows, and sheep
but then they hear a baby dry.
“Not all the town’s asleep!”

They race at once toward that barn
knock on the flimsy door.
“Come in,” a voice from inside says,
“What do you come here for?”

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The door swings wide, they come inside
watched by four pairs of eyes—
a cow, a donkey, man and wife
who can’t hide their surprise.

The light is dim inside the barn
shepherds can hardly see
but then, by the low lantern light
they make out there are three.

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Father stands beside the two
guarding them from danger.
Mother rocks the crying babe
then puts Him in the manger.

Here is the One in swaddling clothes
just like the angel said
in a straw-filled cattle trough
for His newborn bed.

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Then countless times they tell the tale
by their excitement driven,
“This night our simple eyes have seen
Christ the Saviour given!
Glory, glory to our God
in the highest heaven.”

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

You might want to check out my friend Laurel’s Toward Christmas blog, where she posts a poem a day throughout Advent (following the stories of people in Jesus’ lineage—sometimes called the “Jesse Tree”)

And now I wish you and yours every blessing of the season!

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poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Christmas, Religious

 

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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.

 

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Gratitude (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

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Image: Pixabay

A few weeks ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit (by simulcast). One of the speakers was Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In). This gorgeous young woman looked like she had it all, and had it all together. Then she shared the story of her young husband’s sudden death while they were on vacation. He wasn’t even ill.

She was understandably devastated and paralyzed by grief. She told how slowly she worked her way through this tragedy to a new normal. Her therapist, Mark, was a big help, especially when he directed her mournful thoughts away from self-pity to gratitude (e.g. “Yes, your husband is gone, but you still have your children”). He challenged her to recall and write down, at the end of each day, three moments of joy from that day.

This Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me in the unusual spot of seeing my husband through surgery. Every time my mind goes to a negative place concerning this, I am trying to take Mark’s advice to Sheryl, and redirect it toward gratitude… which really isn’t that hard!

1. It’s elective surgery. Now that medical science has figured out how to replace hips, walking with a painful arthritis-degenerated hip is no longer a life sentence. And we’ve been waiting for this appointment for almost a year.

2. It’s publicly funded. We do our share of complaining about our country’s nationalized medical system (inefficiencies, rationing of treatment, long wait times). But when it comes to having to go to the hospital, it’s reassuring that it won’t bankrupt us.

3. General good health. I sat with hubby through his pre-admission interview with the nurse. As he answered question after medical question with “No” (no heart attacks, no strokes, no kidney disease, no diabetes etc.) it struck me how blessed he and I have been with good health.

4. Surgery is local, so no long drives to visit and fetch him home.

5. The hope of pain-free walking again—soon, we hope!

As I think of the days of rehabilitation ahead for him (I know a bit about what’s involved because I broke my hip in 2014 and also had to do the walker / cane / raised toilet seat / bath bench / hard to climb in and out of the car thing) I cling to my life verse for thought hygiene and reassurance:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses al understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6,7 NKJV (emphasis added).

 

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, a once-a-month look at life’s spiritual side by a collection of blogging friends who met (mostly) on Poetry Friday. Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is hosted today by Karen at Irene’s blog Live Your Poem.

 

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Nourished by music (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

sjt-2017-graphicToday is the first Thursday of September and time for the monthly Spiritual Journey Thursday post. This month we’re hosted by Ramona, who is discussing her one-little-word for 2017 – NOURISH (what a fabulous word!).

One of the first things that comes to mind as soul and spirit nourishment for me is music. Though its delivery has changed over the years (from records, to eight tracks, to  cassette tapes, to CDs to, now, a streaming service), my appetite for and enjoyment of it hasn’t diminished. If anything it has increased.

When I joined Spotify (a music streaming service) a vast array of music was suddenly available to me at a tap of an app. Wow! In browsing around this huge resource, I stumbled on some ready-made playlists of worship music that introduced me to songs and artists I had never heard before. One such was Audrey Assad.

The first song of hers that snagged my attention was “Even Unto Death.” Her beautiful clear voice and the haunting melody begged to be replayed. Then the lyrics of this love song to Jesus captured my heart.

I found the song on YouTube (Audrey’s own channel), sung against the stark but stunning visuals of a snowy landscape. Even more moving, though, is Audrey’s own explanation of her inspiration to write this song—an ISIS video no less!

You can hear the song and Audrey’s explanation of why she wrote it below:

This song, along with others, is now part of my own worship playlist which is growing regularly as I discover more songs that nourish my soul and spirit.

 

 

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