Archive | July 2017

Sometimes, I Must Stop . . .



 

Sometimes, I must stop
Or I won’t win the race;

When I’m exhausted
I must give myself grace—

Move away from my work,
Sit down in my chair,

Look up at the sky,
And breathe some fresh air.

I can not continually work!
God doesn’t call me to that.

There were times in his life
When Jesus just sat.

He slept in a boat.
He sat down by a well.

He knew how to work,
And he knew how to be still.

He was flesh and blood,
Not concrete and steel.

He had muscles that ached
And nerves that could feel;

When he was tired,
He did not resist rest.

I’ve been resisting
The thing that I need—

Today, I’m changing;
This I decree:

I’ve published my blog
for ninety-seven weeks;

And now for a month,
I am taking a break!

But not forever;
I’ll be back in September–

On the very first Friday,
I hope you remember.

Balancing Structure and Spontaneity



So far, this summer, we’ve had mostly rainy weather. I’m not complaining, though, because winter lasts a long time in the North Country. My husband jokes that we have two seasons–winter and the 4th of July.  I prefer rain to sleet and snow. We had sunshine on July 4th and for most of the following week. 

This week, the amount of rain that we’ve  had, so far, is much less than the predicted amount. Likewise, the amount of work that I got done has been much less than my predicted (and expected) amount. Balancing work and play, structure and spontaneity, rule-keeping and creativity challenges me. 

 I tend to focus more on work, structure, and rule-keeping than on play, spontaneity, and creativity.Which set of words appeals more to you? 

Are these two sets of words and ways of living incompatible with one another? Or can they co-exist? Would it be possible to playfully work or strategically play? Could rule-keeping and creativity be combined? I don’t know all of the answers to these questions. I’m seeking more understanding and trying to find a balance in my life. 

As usual,  a poem, or two, brings me increased clarity.


Balancing Structure and Spontaneity

You can do the same thing in a different way;
But, if they assist you, do not stray

From the routines you’ve designed;
Just make sure they help, instead of bind.

Structure can be a helpful thing—
If it’s a “servant” not a king;

Timer’s set me free to write
Poems and songs (That’s my delight.),

While in the kitchen, dinner cooks.
I could get lost in one of my books;

So, I need to keep my timer going—
Reset the dial, or I’ll be blowing-

Off too many minutes;
For everything, I need limits.

Sometimes I limit what I need to expand;
“Serious-me” gets out of hand.

When to “playful me” I give no time,
She feels mad and will not rhyme.

How can I balance work and play?
I have someone who shows the way—

My Teacher, Comforter, and Friend;
On his wisdom, I depend.

With God’s direction, I can balance
Work and play—win the challenge.

07/2017 Jane Ault


Structure and beauty when skillfully combined

Structure and beauty when skillfully combined
Bring peace and comfort to a troubled mind.

Structure without reflects beauty within;
To follow this rule is always a win.

The artist inside must learn to convey
To her engineer partner where treasures lay—

Life is factual but not without fiction.
Insight comes through silent reflection.

In quilts, in paintings, in photos or songs,
We find life’s stories—the “rights” and the” wrongs”.

In this way, memories are never demolished.
Sorrow is transformed to jewels finely polished.

Structure and beauty thus skillfully combined
Bring peace and comfort to a troubled mind.

2017 Jane Ault

 

Freedom From the Fear of Aging


A friend, whom I’d known since my teen-age years, recently died. The fact that she was so close to my age made me face that the fact that my mortal body is aging. To be honest, I avoid looking at pictures which show the effects of aging. These pictures stir up fear. I prefer to think that I will never get old. For quite a few years, I denied the fact that my hair was gray. When a photos of myself revealed the truth, I denied it, saying  to myself, “there’s something wrong with this photo; my hair isn’t gray; it must have been the lighting.”

It’s true that my hearing and my eyesight are not as sharp as they used to be, and my memory is not as quick. But my imagination is as active as it always has been! Therefore, faced with the death of my friend, I began to imagine the worst possible scenario and feel panicky. Then, I read these words:

 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
    I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
    from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
    No wonder I am always praising you!

My life is an example to many,
    because you have been my strength and protection.
 That is why I can never stop praising you;
    I declare your glory all day long” (Psalm 71:4-6 NLT).

Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;

Even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4 NKJV).

“Yes, this is true,” I said to God. “You have been with me for my entire life; you’ve protected me; you’ve given me the knowledge and wisdom that I’ve asked for; you’ve forgiven me when I’ve wandered away from you; though I could not see you at the time, you were with me in every dark and painful valley; you’ve showered me with good things; you will not desert me when I get old; even though my hair has turned gray, you will take care of me.” (Isaiah 46:4)

After praying this, I determined, afresh, to place my trust and hope in God—to rely on him no matter what happens to my physical body. Losing my ability to function would be sad, but not nearly as sad as the losing my connection with him. 

The other change I determined to make is to focus on wellness instead of illness. Focusing on wellness means, among other things, that I will trust God to remain with me  and give me strength all the days of my life, and I will use my imagination to picture a healthy and strong self instead of a sick and weak self. 

When the day arrives for me to leave this earth, I want to have the same wonderful testimony that my friend who died had.  The last words that she spoke her family were, “boast in the Lord.” In life and in death, she honored him. I want to live as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so that like my friend, I can boast greatly in God’s goodness.

I’ve determined, afresh, that like the Psalmist, my mouth shall tell of God’s limitless righteousness and salvation. I will sing about (and live in) the strength that he provides. It has always been sufficient. (Psalm 71:15-18)


I Will Live by the Strength which the Spirit Gives

CHORUS
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives–
Which the Spirit gives,
Which the Holy Spirit gives–
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives;
I will live by the strength of the Lord.

VERSE ONE
Giving thanks every day;
Finding something kind to say;
Reaching out in love to those I see;
Learning not to complain;
Replacing worry with a song.

VERSE TWO
Meditating on Truth;
Listening for God’s wise command;
Saying “Yes, Lord, I will go your way”;
Choosing, then, to obey,
Knowing he will be there;
Rejoicing in his love for me.

VERSE THREE
Fearing not curse or threat
Which the evil one blurts out;
Finding victory through interceding prayer;
Growing stronger each day,
As I speak words of truth,
Relying more and more on him.

Jane Ault

Sometimes I Walk in the Light . . .

 



Yesterday, I spent a few hours with a sweet friend of mine. This friend is not highly educated; she is much younger than I am; and by some people she might be considered”disabled.” But I enjoy her company. She’s very creative, emotionally and spiritually sensitive, courageous, and delightfully “real.” She’s also very generous, eager to help in ways that she can, and quick to volunteer.

Because I spend so much time reading, studying, and writing about rather “heavy” topics, I need people like her in my life. I need them to remind me that I’m made of the same stuff. I need them remind me that  I must take time for relaxation and fun–that I need to put my books down, turn off my computer, and sit on my deck, doing nothing.

It helps me, also, to remember what my father told me. “You can get too educated,” he said. He was not against education; he was a life-long learner, always curious, not afraid to ask questions, and not too proud to say “I don’t know the answer”; he was not intimidated by anyone more educated than himself.

What did he mean by the phrase “too highly educated”?  He was referring to the attitude of arrogance that those of us who have several degrees can easily assume. Sharing my struggles and failures, not just my success stories, helps me to keep humble. I hope, also, that this helps you who read my blog posts to identify with me.

Like my father, I am a life-long learner. Like him and like everyone else, I am made of dust. “Sometimes I walk in the light; sometimes I’m afraid in the night.”

I’m not ashamed to admit that I still experience struggles–that I lack perfection; neither can I deny the fact that, by God’s grace and with the help of fellow believers, my faith is much stronger than it was when I wrote the following poem (1984). 


SOMETIMES, I WALK IN THE LIGHT

Sometimes, I walk in the light;
Sometimes, I’m afraid in the night.
Sometimes, my faith is all-right;
Sometimes, I still have poor sight.

Sometimes, I suffer deep pain
Of fear and anger repressed;
Sometimes, through poems I write,
Feelings are owned and expressed.

Sometimes, I suffer the guilt
Of sins I fail to confess.
Sometimes, I know true joy;
With forgiveness, You choose to bless.

Sometimes, I walk in the dark,
Afraid of what light will reveal.
Sometimes, I walk in the light;
Then, Oh Lord, you can heal.

Sometimes, I cling to the law,
And my fears greatly increase.
Sometimes, I trust in your grace;
Then, my spirit knows peace.

Sometimes I suffer alone,
Fearing shame for what I feel.
Sometimes, I share with a friend;
Then, more truth you reveal.

Sometimes, I hide my tenderness,
And no one knows I care.
Sometimes, I cry when others hurt;
Burdens we both share.

Sometimes, I want to make believe—
Pretend the battle’s done;
But Lord, don’t take me home
Until the victory’s won.

Jane Ault 1984