Tuesday, May 30, 2023

On Waking After a Storm {A Poem}

We are fine. There have been a few severe storms in our area and more elsewhere in America’s Tornado Alley. Our property has not been damaged so far this year, but we have experienced that in the past. This poem came from memory and empathy. I didn’t want kind Crumbles to worry needlessly  ❤️‍🩹


The morning after the tempest

Reminds me of waking from surgery.

Do the trees still have all their limbs?

Are they stable on their feet

Or do they need a caution-tape bracelet

Warning, “Fall risk?”

Are the eyes of our home intact or shattered?

Is its crown shingled or scalped?

Are the neurons of the power grid still firing,

Or has a lightning stroke cut off

Extremities of neighborhoods from the power station,

Impairing communication and mobility,

Disabling normal work?

Is the lifeblood of clean water still pumping

Through PVC arteries and cast-iron veins

Into capillaries of household fixtures?

The morning after storms,

The numbness of adrenaline anesthetic subsides,

Pins and needles of anxiety pricking the edges of my thoughts,

Or pain roaring back, seizing minds in its grip.

We assess the damage,

Bandage wounded homes,

Prepare dead trees for the fire,

Set about the hard work of recovery and repair,

Grief and lamentation, tallying losses, claiming insurance,

Learning what normal looks like now.


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Steadfast {The Other Beatitudes}

“Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭12‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Joan of Arc cast in bronze, seated on a bench with her sword in her hands. Trees and garden foliage are blurred in background.


About suffering—

Which saint said, purportedly,

If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few?


If this is how You bless Your friends, Lord,

With trials and testings, hard-pressed to within an inch of life,

No wonder You have so few.


All one must do—so simple, really—is stay beneath the trial,

Not cry, “Uncle,” not tap out, not forfeit,

Just stay under the load, abide in the wrestle, not let go until He blesses.


Yet in the weight of distresses and difficulties,

When the furnace burns with sevenfold heat, there is no “just” about remaining.

Steadfastness takes supernatural strength when (almost) every cell cries out for relief.

Feats of Hercules bear no comparison with the courage required to stay under

Bone-crushing, breath-stealing, relentless load,

Knocked to knees, knocked to all fours, knocked prostrate in the dust,

Buried beneath the rubble of earthly hope

But not surrendering faith in God who raises the dead.


In the weary groaning of the waiting world,

We remember for each other, midwives of hope,

Reminding of promises that coming joy is worth the current pain,

For we know we cannot always remember for ourselves.

We spur one another on, crying out encouragement when

The thin veil parts enough to glimpse our Brother under the load alongside—

I see Him with you! I see Him in you!

His strength keeps from us one gram more suffering than needed

For our good and for His glory.

His Spirit in us intercedes—

Hold on—just one more moment—

And faith will be sight.

Stand firm to the end.

Finish well,



We need not burst across a finish line, break the tape.

Just stay. Stay in trust; stay under test.

The happy man keeps faith to final heartbeat,

Outlasting affliction in love for Him who outlasted death itself,

Who loved us first, loves us still, loves us through.

The crown of life will glow with bone-rejoicing, breath-stealing pearls

Produced by the rubble of our buried hopes.


He who loved us first will love us to the end,

Adorning those who love Him back with life and love eternal,

And the agony of decades will seem as heavy and prolonged as a single snowflake

Alongside the glory Christ has won for, with, and in us.


Blessed be Christ, the steadfast under trial,

Who completes His suffering by suffering in ours,

Who transforms our suffering by suffering with us,

Who sanctifies our suffering by His presence,

Who sustains our suffering with His promises.

How happy the person who stays beneath the load appointed

Because Christ abides there too.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Sonnet from the Shadowlands

The sun declines in western sky. Withdrawn

Are clarity of light and hue; brought on,

Long shadows, foggy veils, the sacred hush

Of darkling valley, far from pastures lush.

The golden hour rays play hide and seek,

Illuminate her face with glorious peek

Of unveiled radiance. Then it flies away;

The light of smiling eyes fades, vesperal gray.

Sundowning steals her stories; details dim,

Degrade and recombine in moment’s whim.

The twilight of unknowing steals the one

Who knew me knit together, blood and bone.

In Shadowlands, I clasp my hands round hers,

Here, side by side, as gathering dusk sight blurs.

A poem in honor of dementia patients and those who love them ❤️‍🩹

Sunday, May 7, 2023

For the Wailing Women: A Lament

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.”

Jeremiah 9:17-18 NIV

Bronze sculpture of Mother Teresa, from Dallas Blooms 2023


Where are the wailing women?

The sackcloth saints weeping with Rachel for her children,

The children bereft of childhoods, futures, parents, life?

Who will lament with our brothers and sisters half-dead, beaten, lying in the road,

Robbed of health, love, livelihood, hope?


We have left undone the good we ought

And done instead what we should not;

There is no health in us.

We have forsaken Your ways

And followed the stubbornness of our own hearts:

Lovers of self, lovers of money,

Lovers of power and riches,

Lovers of influence and fame,

Lovers of self, not lovers of God or neighbor.

We have averted our gaze from suffering

And passed by on the other side of the road.


Where are the ash-crowned mourners

Lamenting the loss of life

And lack of love for least of these?

The voice of Abel’s blood cries out to God Almighty

From the dust to which he has returned.

We are indeed our brother’s keeper,

And keep him we have not.


Revive us, O Lord. Give us Your eyes to perceive

The brokenness our dull hearts can’t feel or blind eyes see.

You hear the cries of the destitute and bind up broken hearts.

In all our afflictions You were afflicted.

You carried our griefs and sorrows, not only sin.

Who will weep with you at the tomb of Lazarus?

Who will be Your hands and feet among a shattered, starving generation?

Give us Your courage, love, and grace

To crawl under the overwhelming burdens,

Shoulder to shoulder with suffering,

To love the sick, sorrowful, and imprisoned

In body or spirit, in illness or addiction,

In poverty, loneliness, or despair—

And so lavish love on You.


Raise up the wailing women, the sackcloth saints, the ash-crowned mourners

With your tender mercies overflowing broken hearts.

Raise up ash-crowned mourners,

And use their tearful prayers, through Your Spirit,

For the healing of the nations.

-crlm, 4 May 3023, National Day of Prayer

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Under His Providence

Moose Tracks practicing "paws up" with me
We love it when his ear flips back.

The Heidelberg Catechism was one early (sixteenth-century) Reformed Protestant set of questions and answers for instructing believers in sound doctrine. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is the more famous such discipleship tool in English, but there are some beautiful, consoling gems in the Heidelberg one as well. The following pair of questions on God's providence comforts me and stabilizes me in the ongoing storms my family faces. What a foundation of faith it must have been for the children who learned these truths from their earliest memories.

27. Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
    A. God's providence is
    his almighty and ever present power, 1
    whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds
    heaven and earth and all creatures, 2
    and so governs them that
    leaf and blade,
    rain and drought,
    fruitful and barren years,
    food and drink,
    health and sickness,
    riches and poverty, 3
    indeed, all things,
    come to us not by chance 
    but by his fatherly hand. 5
    1.Jer 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28.
    2.Heb 1:3.
    3.Jer 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; Jn 9:3; Prov 22:2.
    4.Prov 16:33.
    5.Mt 10:29.

28. Q. What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and still upholds them by his providence?
    A. We can be patient in adversity, 1
    thankful in prosperity, 2
    and with a view to the future
    we can have a firm confidence
    in our faithful God and Father
    that no creature shall separate us
    from his love; 3
    for all creatures are so completely in his hand
    that without his will
    they cannot so much as move. 4
    1.Job 1:21, 22; Ps 39:10; Jas 1:3.
    2.Deut 8:10; 1 Thess 5:18.
    3.Ps 55:22; Rom 5:3-5; 8:38, 39.
    4.Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.

"Indeed, all things come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand."

The Lord God Almighty is powerful and sovereign, with no detail of our circumstances beyond His ability to transform and redeem. Nothing is too hard for Him.

At the same time, He is "our faithful God and Father" from whom those who trust Christ can never be separated.

He is strong, and He is loving. He has the power to do what is best for us and the love that makes Him willing to do what is best for us, even though this often shows up in surprising ways that may not seem best to our limited perspective.

He is not safe, but He is good. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.