Labels

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sharing a few six word memoirs

Became the character I created myself.

My past is not my future

Wrapped in an overcoat of love.

Sometimes trees take precedence over forests.

Climbs mountains, grasps stars, writes poetry.

Emerged from deep woods, returned forester.

Looking back, overjoyed with distance travelled.


First published in Smith Magazine six-word memoirs. Check it out for some short but powerful writing at
Smithmag.net

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Forests


These paths I have walked
lifelong
litter strewn, tiny creatures moving
in the undergrowth
and above
tall trees towering
their massive trunks encircling
the lifeblood of ages past
these my friends, my companions
my comfort
greenery rewarding eyes
that search for beauty
silence my solace
and here I meet with God
my Maker
who leads me in His paths
shields me from the wildest beast
and darkest spirit
watches me walking
watches me
forester, guiding
the wayward lost souls of the dark woods
into His direction
this is my path
to walk in love
and faithfulness
for this is my destiny
to walk with God
and to walk with God alone.


copyright Josephine Collett   2/1/10

A Hand in the Darkness

Blankets wrapped around me
warm as your loving arms,
I stretch out a hand in the darkness,
Knowing tension and tiredness
yet cannot rest.
Feeling afraid and bruised again,
my energy drained
by the constant demands of time.
I stretch out a hand,
knowing You are there to take it.
Even in the night
You are the night-light, shining
brighter than the stars.
Your hand is in mine, comforting,
reassuring, energizing.
Your hand fills me with Your caring presence,
Streaming into my tired soul
and filling it with love.

Amen

copyright Josephine Collett 2011

Monday, 23 January 2012

Abba



Abba, Father
where were you?

I saw the tears
I heard the cries
I felt the pain
On Calvary

Abba Father
you know too.

Be with me now
come back in memory
and hold me

your arms around me
comfort me
you give me new life
in You

Your blood poured out
Your tears fell
Your heart was torn
and you were all alone

my pain was yours
my shame was yours
my mind broken
you felt it all

On Calvary

Abba Father
where were you?
you were with me
and you felt it all

I saw the tears
I heard the cries
I felt the pain
On Calvary

copyright Josephine Collett 2011


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sifting


Sifting through the debris, silent as shifting fog
my thoughts wander, recollect
and centre on the grains of precious worth
among the flotsam of a life.
So much sifting there within to find a jewel,
Acres of uncharted oceans where there waits
the smallest oyster, open it
to find a pearl.

Words upon words trickling through the ages
fall upon the air between our lives, wait unbidden
on the pages of a thousand volumes. What will last
to mark our way?
What compass needle indicates a path?
What flickering lighthouse beam will guide a soul
upon the restless tossing seas of life?

What will we cling to when the fires of hell
have scorched our place of earth, have scattered all
beyond the pale? What jewelled thought
will hold my head up high beyond the lash
of tenure, trial and even death, beyond
the clods of earth that cover me?
Sift my life.
Where is the gold I leave behind?

copyright Josephine Collett 13/10/11

Anything spiritual here?

Water, some personal uses:

Drink 8 glasses every day
Running water washes the dirt and germs and foreign material away
water cleans and softens an area before a procedure
Cool down quickly in the shower
Lower the temperature of a fever
minor burns and scalds - 20 minutes under running cold water
minor wounds - wash with running water and cover

 Anything spiritual here? It never took Jesus long to move from the physical to the spiritual. To one poor, lonely desperate woman he offered water that would clean and heal and give life.(Back to John 4)
To have the uncleansable stain of shame, horror, pain, washed away forever. No one could ever feel so clean.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

New Growth


One of my favourite images is that of a new, tender green shoot appearing on a bare branch or cutting. Where I live the majority of trees are evergreen, so we don’t experience as much of the seasonal changes that are observed in other states of Australia. I recently visited Tasmania in springtime and was delighted to view apple trees with their gorgeous pink blossoms sprouting afresh on the silvery grey branches. What a magnificent symbol of the passing of winter and the commencement of warmer weather with its promise of fruition.
In close proximity to our home is a water easement, where the local council has planted numerous native trees. Sadly, vandals attacked a eucalypt sapling, partially uprooting it. The crown and a large portion of trunk was snapped off, leaving only a small section still embedded in the ground. Within weeks, new life sprouted from that trunk section, with green shoots bursting from the seemingly lifeless wood. It appeared that whilst the tree remained  connected to the ground, despite every challenge, life would burst forth.
So it is with us. Despite wintering, despite hurts and pain and being knocked down, there is that within us which is called to spring forth. As long as we have that connection to our Heavenly Father, there will be a flowing and flowering of the Holy Spirit within us. Others will see and wonder at the beauty of that which He creates.
Like the green shoot on the wintered branch or the severed trunk, what a great promise of hope and potential always remains within a person to flourish.

Praise God

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dear Mary

Did you dream, as a girl, of your wedding day,
Of being a beautiful bride, dressed in finery,
The townspeople gathered in celebration?

Somehow it turned out differently.

Did you imagine the birth of a baby,
The womenfolk gathered around to help,
And caring for him in a beautiful room?

Things turned out so differently.

Did you hope, as you watched your little son play
That he would fit in and be just like
all the other boys?

But he was always so different.

Did you look down the years and imagine
A fine young man with a job and a wife
and children of his own?

It all turned out so differently.

From the first
the sword pierced your heart.
You knew how to give
and how to grieve
but most of all, how to love
Dear Mary,
I think we understand each other well.


copyright Josephine Collett 1999

1 Corinthians 13 - A devotional


At my niece’s wedding I was asked to do a Bible reading of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, also known as the love chapter. It was a garden wedding and I was to wear high-heeled shoes. Being a bit apprehensive about it all, I practised in my garden reading the chapter aloud to the magpies, balancing on my fancy shoes whilst wearing my old clothes. The neighbours must have decided I had gone batty. Anyway, on the day, the reading went well.

As I read this chapter over and over again, I came to appreciate in a new way just how profound it is, especially for those of us who are Christians. Although it’s often used at weddings, it wasn’t written specifically for husbands and wives. The apostle Paul directs this chapter to those of us in Christian ministry in the body of Jesus Christ, the church.

In the preceding chapter, 1 Corinthians 12, Paul discusses the various ministry gifts and callings within the church. He concludes the chapter in verse 31 with words that are often linked typographically to chapter 13 - “and now I will show you the most excellent way” or “and now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.” These words serve as an introduction to the following great chapter on love.

Verses 1 to 3 of chapter 13 serve as a warning. The familiar, melodic rhythms of these verses belie the seriousness of the message. With reference to the preceding chapter, we can be involved in Christ’s church in various ministries and displaying a multitude of admirable talents, but the message here is clear. We can be walking the walk and talking the talk but still not have a heart for God, let alone for the people that surround us. And if we don’t everything else is useless, in fact, worse than that. We will become that clanging cymbal, that thing that grates on people and repels them and none of us want to be like that.

Then God in his infinite wisdom continues the chapter with His “how to” list. In verses 4 to 8, we are given a list of attributes of love, which, if practised, will change your life, ministry and church. The world is full of courses and self-help books promising 7 secrets of this  or  14 steps to a better that  and such like, but our loving Father has given us, in this chapter, principles which can and do change relationships for the better. It is a practical list and I think that often it is not emphasized enough, being positioned in the chapter in amongst so much beautiful imagery.

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (New International Version),  What challenges lie within these verses. At a ladies’ devotional, I typed out the list, including the inverse to the negatives –
Love is
patient
kind
does not envy – is pleased for and encouraging of others
does not boast – is modest
is not proud – is humble, considers others of worth
does not dishonor others  – is polite and respectful
is not self-seeking – glorifies God, defers, submits
is not easily angered – even tempered
keeps no record of wrongs – forgives and forgets
Does not delight in evil – concentrates on positives, repents of sin, shows compassion
Rejoices with the truth - rejoices in the good news of Jesus Christ
Protects
Trusts
Hopes
Perseveres


Our  ladies’ group  challenged ourselves to each post a list of these attributes somewhere where we could see them. We would choose one attribute each day and to try throughout the day to concentrate on behaving as specified eg. today I will be patient; today I will curb my temper; today I will lovingly put aside the memory of that hurt. Over a period of a couple of weeks we would work through the list. It’s an exercise which for me personally demonstrated how often I do the opposite.

Verses 8-12 remind us of what many of the elders in our community understand well – that love is the only thing that endures. Working in community health, I visit many homes and with very few exceptions, photographs of couples, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren take pride of place. There are few photos of cars or workplaces. Relationships are paramount. Paul reminds us that so much of what we strive to achieve passes away, but love endures. Our relationship with Christ grows and deepens throughout life as we journey with Him and come to know him more. We strive to grow from baby Christians into a fuller maturity, with the knowledge that we will one day see Him face to face. What a wonderful promise is held in these verses!

So we come to the final line of that great oratory, the one that is stitched into tapestry, fashioned into jewellery, printed on photo frames and so much more. Faith, hope and love abide, but love is the greatest. It is only God’s love, shining through us, that makes us beautiful. It’s genuine love for the word which attracts the unbeliever to the verses we quote.  It is God’s love and grace which sets apart the churches that form real Christian communities. Unbelievers hear not the clanging cymbal, but a beautiful, irresistible symphony.

May we each try to be a little more loving this week.


amen


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Eve and her sisters


Eve, I ask you
why’d you ever do it?
Destined us to be
in sin and shame eternally,
striving with supremacy
questioning authority
blamed for all of history

Eve, do you see her weeping,
Mary at the cross,
the sword piercing
her heart?

Do you see the women of the ages
lost, bereft, the children suffering
abused, neglected, dead?
Tears like a river of raindrops falling,
Why’d you do it?

Do you see me sister? My son Abel
cold and still on the earth stained red,
Cain, my son, where is he now?
somewhere I never can follow
This pain in my heart is more than I can bear
would that I could die instead
for my sin and my sorrow

Lord, we are in her
and she in us
united by sin and love
for this world is not the end
when you promise a new beginning, Saviour
Your blood on the cross for forgiveness of sin
Forgive her, Lord, forgive us.

copyright J.C.  Brisbane Australia 30/09/10

Two Bills



Let me tell you about my friend, Bill Gates. Did you know that I know Bill Gates? I can tell you all about him. I can drop his name into any conversation. I can refer to him as my friend, Bill Gates.
Unfortunately, though, I don’t personally know Bill Gates. I could read a biography about him and learn lots of facts. I could look him up on the internet and gain some knowledge and insight into his life. I could listen to what others say about him and glean some information to use that way. I could easily pretend that I know him and he is my friend. The truth is though, I don’t really know him.
Let me tell you about another Bill. I know him. I can drop his name easily into a conversation. I can tell you all about his life.
I’ve never read a biography of this Bill, because there isn’t a written one. I’ve never looked up his name on the internet. I sometimes hear other people talk of him, but I don’t need to listen to them to know who he is.
I could tell anyone who asks all about him. I know who Bill  is because I have a relationship with him. He’s been with me all my life. He gave me life. He has walked with me and talked with me, taught me, protected me, comforted me, counselled me, disciplined me and so much more. Most of all, he has always loved me. Although he now resides in heaven, he was my earthly Dad.
How tragic to have a knowledge of God, to talk of Him, to speak all the right information yet not have the relationship. He is there, arms outstretched, wanting not your words or your deeds, but you. He loved you from before you were born. He died for you. He rose again and can be in relationship with you for all of your earthly life and beyond. Seek him in prayer and by the word, and by true Christian fellowship in a caring church. He longs to be in the right relationship with you.

Amen

Ministry of scars (John 20:24)

A Scar is not a Wound

Yes, I bear scars
But a scar is not a wound
A scar is the memory of a place
Where a wound once was
A wound cleansed
A wound healed
A wound sealed
I bear my scars as knights of old
Returned in victory
Carrying their battle scars
To the quiet paths of home
I bear my scars as a broken tree
Sends forth new shoots, tenaciously
Toward the sunlight
I carry my scars to Jesus, knowing that
He returned to his disciples
With holes in his hands and side.

copyright  J.C. 1998

Friday, 6 January 2012

Thursday, 5 January 2012

If you love


“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)

Things which seem so attractive are not necessarily what God wants for our lives. Do we love Him enough to put Him before something which we know deep down isn’t in our best interest? Christianity isn’t just claiming all the good things that God offers. It’s also about struggle with the temptations that still come. It’s about sacrificing our own will and  saying “no” when we desperately would like to say “yes” to that person, that course of action, that attraction. It’s knowing what my will is, and still saying “Your will be done.”

A Prayer

Dear Lord,
Thank You that You understand the struggles that I face. Thank You that You are always there to listen when I tell you how I feel about things. Help me to give to you the situations that are causing me to struggle, knowing that You can work things out in a better way than I could ever imagine. You are the best.
Amen

Alabastar Jar, a poem

Another woman transformed by a personal encounter with Jesus. Her story is told in the gospel of Luke chapter 7:36-50

Alabaster Jar

This was my treasure, my reward
A gift
A payment
From a wealthy suitor

I earned it, skillfully
with beguiling smiles
and kohl- rimmed eyes
with jewels and affected laughter

Its perfume daubed behind my ears
the promise
of an easy path
and all that I could want thereafter

I carried it in triumph
placed it in a high niche
where I could gaze upon
its shining lustre

But my life, my heart, my hope
were entombed
pretentious and cold
as that white alabaster

....

What can I give him? for the richest prize
is nothing
not one gift can now compare
to the wonder of
his look, his words, those eyes
the beauty of his being
the tenderness with which
he sees the sinfulness and shame
I bear
What can I give him?
                                    ....

Broken the jar
my treasure
poured out for him

Broken my soul
my love
poured out for him.

Broken my heart
my tears
poured out for him

He touches me
touches my soul, my heart, my tears, my life
My treasure
Now found in Him.


copyright J.C. 13-5-07 (Mother’s Day)

Personas

What is my persona? Each person on the planet is related in some way to others, identifying themselves as someone's child, someone's parent, someone's friend, workmate, employer, ex, etc.etc. There are so many dimensions to relationships. As a Christian, my persona is inextricably linked to God above all, and all other relationships pale in comparison to this one. I am no longer myself without Him. I have been born into a new life that has so utterly changed me that if I were to renounce it, and I believe that this is possible, I would no longer be the same person. This is where sin becomes so insidious. We are tempted to believe that we can sin against God and recover to the same life in Him we had. Not so. Sin is that choice between the God inside us and that carnal, human nature desiring its own selfish course inside us, the two natures that battle within throughout this life. The ultimate test of our faithfullness is to choose what God wants over what we want. Tough stuff.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A prayer

Dear Heavenly Father

Please go before me into this day and make a way for me to walk in your will on my journey

Please walk beside me every step of the way and guide me with your Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, the one who comes alongside

Please attend to all that I leave behind me, that the effect of my being here would be to bring glory and honour to you and to increase your kingdom

In the precious name of Jesus Christ  amen.

Black Cockatoos


God minsters to me so often through plants and animals. The natural world is full of the most wonderful surprises and delights. Many times something unexpected has really touched my heart and I thank God for the precious moments where His creativity and glory have been shown through nature.
I recall a visitor who made me heart-sick. Without going into details, this person’s visit to my house left a lot to be desired one day. Suffice to say that as the person happily departed and I watched the car disappearing around the end of the street, I stood at the front door  feeling absolutely demoralised. Satan whispered into my mind that I was inadequate, insignificant and second-rate.
 As tears threatened, suddenly a pair of black cockatoos, rarely seen in the city, appeared in the sky before my eyes, circling and squawking. Their presence entranced me. As sure as I have ever felt anything, I felt the message from God at that moment was “Here is something special from me, for you, that I know you’ll enjoy. I see you. I love you. You matter to me.”
What a special symbol of God’s love appeared to me just when I needed it. Praise Him.

John 4 with a modern twist

Number Six

“Closing time in 10,” the barman
said as I walked in the door
Yeah right, like small town country pub
the cops’ll be screeching round in 15
checking your license
And the guy at the bar alone looks up
like what’s the fuss, what a man
makes me shiver from that first look
muscled and tanned, aw that face
and he’s lookin’ at me too, well
he might be good for a place to crash
and some food for the kids
So give it ya best shot, girl
The walk, the moves, the eyes
Just enough suspicion of a smile
there are advantages
to being alone in a bar with a guy
and closing time in 10.

 “Will you buy me a drink?” his opening line
is kinda weird
What? Cheapskate man.
Not what you might expect, hey
The barman turns his back as barmen do
furiously wiping glasses
And the guy at the bar is looking at me
with those handsome blue eyes, he’s
laughing at me
“Okay, can I get you one, then sister?”
That’s more like it.
He taps the bar, “Please, a glass
of water for the lady.”
A glass of water? What?
This guy’s not like any I’ve ever
met before
But you know what
I’m desperate
I’m thirsty
I’ll take it

Copyright Josephine Collett. 2011

Woman at the Well John chapter 4

Woman

Walking
in the searing sunlight
Glare stinging my eyes
with sudden tears
Behind the fortress walls
of surrounding houses
They surely watch

I can barely raise
one foot after another
Dust chokes
my dry mouth
This pot, my burden
Unfilled,
like a dead weight
on my body.

I walk
this daily walk
of torment
I walk
Alone
It has been
for such a long time now
Must it always be so?

The Well

Today I met him
such a man
as I have longed to meet
for all my life
Today I met him, I
will never be the same again.

Today I talked to him
such a man
as I have longed to talk to
all my life
A man who talked with me
as if he had known me
all my life

Today he looked at me
He smiled at me
as noone else has ever done before
He knew my sin
and yet
he took my cup

Joy unquenchable
fills me
Messiah
I will speak his words
throughout the land
I will never be the same
Because today
I met Him.

copyright Josephine Collett 1999

Gender Identity

Who am I? What does it mean to be a man, or a woman? Which, if any of the cultural "must be"s "must have"s, "must do"s should I adopt as my own? What does it mean to be a man or woman of God? How does my church define or embellish my identity?

Jesus was the most culturally radical person of his time. He turned the parameters of status upside down. Weakness became strength, poverty became wealth, success became, at times, ignomany. He challenged, touched, encouraged, healed, transformed. His heart was stirred to compassion, then, as now, by the poor, weak, lonely, disabled and marginalised.

My favourite story in the entire Bible is found in John's gospel, chapter 4. Interestingly, the story of the woman at the well is also a favorite of many men. I return to this story again and again, drawing at different times fresh insight. It is a story of abject loneliness, rejection, encounter, beauty, subtle wit, intelligence, hunger, transformation, commission. I think if I had only read that one story in the Bible, I would be a Christian. Such is the power of the Word.

That unnamed woman has journeyed with me through many years and been the inspiration of a few poems which I'd like to share :

Monday, 2 January 2012

Welcome!

Praise God our Father, Creator of heaven and earth and each of us. Thank You Father for your son Jesus Christ who died on the cross to honour You and for forgiveness of sins for those who commit themselves to You; and who rose again to reign as Lord and Saviour. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, the one who comes alongside, ever present in this world and indwelling in those who love You.

It is my prayer that all who visit here will be touched and blessed through words and thoughts.

copyright of all material remains with the author who asserts the moral right to be identified as such (Josephine Collett). Work may be used for private or small group study only but may not be republished, resubmitted, copied or sold without permission from the author.