Haiku Images

I thought you might appreciate reading through the Haiku Cluster that the judges thought were worthy of first place winner in the competition. All of the haiku spring from the Scriptures related as listed.

Appropriate for the Easter season is “To say ‘I love you’ God sent a cross.” The truth that we are co-heirs with the eternal Godhead is incomprehensible, but the Scriptures certainly remind us how rich we are in Christ.

If a haiku or two moves you and you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to meditate on them with you.
I bequeath to you,                                                                   Romans 8:17a
every sunrise I’ve painted,
all originals. -God

Adam, while you slept,                                                           Genesis 2:21-22
God slipped Eve into your bed,
then he left, smiling.

To say “I love you,”                                                                  John 19:17-18
we send flowers or a card,
but God sent a cross.

Five little fingers                                                                       Luke 2:7
squeeze young Mary’s nose and face
as God lies on straw.

Often mothers ’ prayers                                                         I Samuel 1:27
mend the broken jars of clay
they molded from birth.

Silent, by a grave,                                                                   II Corinthians 1:4
arm around a friend, healing
a hole in the heart.

Before life’s bookends                                                         Amos 4:12b
squeeze away your last-held breath,
prepare for closure.

A Conference to Remember Part 2

Here’s the followup to last week’s conference message.

The Keynote Address for the FCW Conference was given by Brian Bird, a 30-year veteran of the Hollywood film and televison business. Brian’s writing and producing work comprises nearly 250 episodes of network television, including Touched by an Angel, and his own original series currently airing on the Hallmark Channel, When Calls the Heart. Through him, the Lord challenged me to keep writing to keep his truth alive and to inspire others to write to praise him.

Torry Martin, an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian, has written feature length scripts. He taught a continuing class, “Writing Screenplays for Everything, but the Big Screen.” He is an enthusiastic, humorous, very creative catalyst. We had great fellowship and in our conversations, I was humbled when he asked me to collaborate with him on a coming project.

Three publishers expressed an interest in my Biblical studies on Prayers of the Bible and my devotionals.

The conference climaxed with the Awards Banquet Dinner and I was humbled again when I received second-place winner in non-fiction for my Memoir, Naked With Clothes On, and completely overwhelmed with first-place winner in poetry for my Haiku Cluster.

I came away from the conference inspired, encouraged, challenged, and full of new ideas and directions. I am thankful for God’s confirmation that he wants me to continue writing my devotional blog Guarded Hearts and devotional articles for Christian Broadcasting Network.

There are other conferences that we as Christians have attended and been blessed and encouraged by. How about sharing your challenging and encouraging ones with me?

Remember, the new name for my blog is GUARDED HEARTS.

A Conference to Remember

Last week my wife and I had the privilege of attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference at Lake Yale in central Florida. What an exciting adventure from the moment we registered on Wednesday afternoon and picked up our room key until we left on Sunday afternoon after lunch.

The time was filled with speakers, appointments with publishers and critique personnel, continuing classes and workshops. I learned so much from them as I had opportunities to talk about my writing – haiku, memoir, devotionals, and Bible studies for small groups. Outstanding!

But the most rewarding experience was spending time with Christian people who have the same love for our Lord and want to share it through their love of writing.

Marti Pieper, chaplain for the conference, critiqued my memoir, Naked with Clothes On. Diane Matthews critiqued my devotionals and also taught 3 days of 2-hour classes honing our skills in devotional writing.

More about it next week. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you if you have ever attended a Christian Writers Conference, or any other Christian Conference. It’s a time of getting to know fellow believers who are also on life’s spiritual journey. What a time we are having on this earth, and we only see through a glass darkly until we are eternally with the Lord.

I am asking the Lord to help me improve my writing skills so that they can “Spur one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

NOTE THE NAME CHANGE: The blog name has been changed from Umbilical to Guardedhearts.

God’s Grip

Elena and Dan holding hands0001My 7-year-old great granddaughter burst into my study, grabbed my hand, and asked, “Papa, “What’s your favorite chapter in the Bible? ”

“John 10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.”

“I know that one,” she said. I reached my arm around her waist and drew her to me.

“And Papa, what’s your favorite verse?”

“That I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection.”

She hesitated, then answered thoughtfully,“I don’t think I know that one.”

As I took her hand and placed her other hand into it, I said, “Another favorite is John 10, verse 28.” I folded her little fingers around her hand, and continued, “ ‘No one can grab your hand out of my grip,’ Jesus said.”

“Really, they can’t?”

I took those two little cupped hands into my hand. “Nope, no one.”

Her eyes twinkled as she looked up at me. “I do remember hearing that verse.”

“You’re so smart. Do you also remember when you were two years old and your grandfather held your hand to lead you to the party?

“No,” she replied. “But when Pappy takes my hand in his big hand, I feel safe and happy.”

I looked into those big eyes and thought, Oh, to be like that child!

“Wouldn’t it warm our Heavenly Father’s heart, as He grips our hand to make us feel secure, if we gripped His hand back?”

Next time someone holds your hand, let it remind you of the comfort, security and joy when Creator Father, gripping our human hand, leads us where we need to go.

Wave Walker

walking on water Who in the Bible is acclaimed to be the first to walk on water?

Jesus told the twelve, in Matt 14:22-31, to get into the boat and meet him on the other side of the lake. Then he agitated the lake so the twelve battled against swirling nature. Why did Jesus deliberately set them up in these frightening circumstances?

When Jesus walked on the waves toward them, he said, “Don’t be afraid. It is I.” (Literal translation, “It is I AM!”)  They were probably thinking, Give us one reason not to be frightened out of our drenched tunics. And He did, “Because Jehovah is with you.”

Peter responded, “Since it’s you, let me come to you.” He climbed out of the boat and immediately walked on the waves. Although the disciples knew the Old Testament Scriptures, they probably were a little too scared to recall Job 9:8b, “God walks on the heights of the sea.”

Jesus also walked on the peaks of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus identified himself with God and thus they were one. Why did Jesus set them up? To confirm his Deity to those clinging-for-their-lives disciples.

Because Peter let the waves fill his eyes instead of Jesus, he sank! But Jesus was saying to his still-in-training disciples “Keep looking to me to overcome life’s obstacles so you won’t, like Peter, sink!”

The night school lesson is not about Jesus and Peter walking on the water, nor about the lake settling down to normal, but about those storm-soaked, fear-filled, wind-whipped disciples worshiping the God who just climbed into their barely floating vessel and solicited from them, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


*Brian Jekel’s painting, Walking on Water,  used by permission from DaySpring Cards.

God’s Tattoo

When I was 12 years old, my oldest brother J C came home on furlough from the Navy. I saw a tattoo of a hula girl on his left arm. I asked him why he got that thing anyway. “Every time I flex my biceps, I remember how much I love Hawaii.”

Standing in line at the pharmacy one day, a young man told me, “This skull and crossbones tattoo on my arm helps me remember my behind-bars buddies.”

One of the main reasons an individual tells me for getting a tattoo is “to help me remember.”

The prophet Isaiah probably had the same idea in mind when he wrote “I [God] will never forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” 49:15, 16. He is referring to the Jews’ custom of puncturing their hands with a symbol of their city and temple as a sign of devotion.

Thinking about tattoos, I hear Jesus’ tender personal words to his doubting Thomas, “Put your hand in my scarred hand.” John 20:27 [my paraphrase.] Throughout eternity, Jesus will be inviting us personally, “See, at Golgotha, you were engraved on the palms of my hands forever.”

When you find yourself feeling alone in a crowd, forgotten by your family, or neglected by a close friend, then remember God’s tattoo, “I’ll always remember you.” [my paraphrase.]

You can further meditate on Isaiah 49:13-18 with Psalm 37:25-28 until, like Thomas, you exclaim,” My Lord and my God.” John 20:28