Spiritual

I Didn’t Drink Today

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Twenty-twenty

What a year!

It made me want to have a beer,

Or a bottle of chardonnay,

But still I didn’t drink today.

Pandemic has me all askew

What bigger temptation I ask of you

Than everything changing in work and play,

But still I didn’t drink today.

Then there was that crappy time

Election tensions ran so high

That we all lost our collective mind,

But still I didn’t drink.

Oh 2020, you’ve kicked my rear

It’s been the longest time, yet I fear

That 2021 might step up in rivalry,

But still I didn’t drink, you see.

What 2020 doesn’t know

Is that this isn’t my first rodeo.

I took my last drink in 2001,

Replaced it with faith (by the ton,)

And my addiction to drink was held at bay

By just not picking up TODAY.

Although I will have 20 years

Blessedly alcohol-free,

It’s still (forever) paid in installments

Of “One Day at a Time” for me.

I’m counting my blessings and as I prepare

To celebrate my 20th year,

Even as the world goes cray,

I keep it by just not drinking today.

  • By: JANA GREENE – TheBeggarsBakery.com

Spiritual

Announcing Poetry Jam Week

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

Greetings, Dear Reader.

The year 2020….amirite? What a crazy time to be alive in this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world. I find myself at a place of un-creativity, if there is such a word. I haven’t painted in weeks. I have written only minimally. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing my own press, which is that I’m past my prime as a writer and creator.

But I’m telling that press to hush.

The other day, I came across a folder titled “Poetry” in a box of mementos. It is full of poetry I’ve written over the span of about 30 years. I (literally) blew the dust off and started reading.

And soon, tears were rolling. And I was laughing (not necessarily in that order,) and I remembered why I love words so much. Words can destroy, but they can also heal, and do so mightily. What if I publish a poem every day for a week, I thought.

I’ve got everything from teenage angst to proper breakdowns; praises and wonder, to pain and sorrow. The craft is very versatile.

Poetry is a niche market within a niche market, if one gets paid to creative it and is a any good at it. I am not the paid poet, but I am a big fan of the poem. Because you see, writing poetry for poetry’s sake is pure. When I share it, I know full well that most people won’t read my work, and if they do…

WHAT IF THEY HATE IT?

What if I’ve made myself vulnerable to no earthly reward, and I suck at it?

What if nobody reads it at all? It’s not exactly a popular genre.

I decided I can live with one or all of these repercussions. Because words can destroy (and oh what a year, what with most of the words being negative in nature and destructive in intent.)

So what if one reader walks away with one morsel of soul-gleaning or relate-ability? That makes it worth the sharing.

(This one-woman poetry jam is a representation of my gooey emotional insides; please be gentle.)

I hope I don’t make a fool of myself, but isn’t that what writing from the soul requires? I cannot make a fool of myself if I keep all the words bottled up inside where it’s safe from ridicule or worse, indifference. But where is the adventure in that? Art is a sharing from a private world. Poetry can be the vehicle that transports others in to enjoy and/or suffer alongside the writer.

So check back in the coming days for a Beggar’s Bakery Poetry Jam. Thirty years is a long time to keep musings in a folder.

God bless us, everyone. And I hope you enjoy the offerings.

Poetry, Spiritual

Why Should the Sky Appear Royal Blue?

This is the sky above our little cabin tonight.

Why should the sky appear royal blue

On this wild and wondrous eve?

The stars,

Diamonds against it,

A smattering of cosmic light

Against the rich, deep backdrop

Of endless, cerulean sky.

They so vividly spackle

The masterpiece

To which no man

Can assign value.

Upward look!

The ring of trees are framing it

In muted, hushed and mellow greens,

As if meticulously painted with soft cotton,

By the hand of a master artisan.

Gazing upon it,

It becomes clear

Why the sky should appear to be

Royal blue.

The sky is royal blue tonight

Because It is the canvas of the King.

– Jana Greene

Poetry

Ode to a Nocturnal Cat

Our distinguished Socks

By: Jana Greene

Things have been so heavy lately, I thought I’d share a poem I wrote for our elderly cat who – for 18 years – has run through the house batsh*t insane in the middle of the night, most every night. It’s a little Dr. Suessical, but a light reprieve from the usually heavy blog fare. Hope you enjoy!

That Old Man Socks! That Old Man Socks!
He’s up all night, that Old Man Socks!
Socks, do you like good sleep and peace?
“I do not like them” Socks decrees.
“Unless it comes as mid-day nap,
Sleeping at all is utter crap.”
Socks, would you sleep instead of mew
When the moon is nice and new?
Would you please sleep all night through?
Is this something you can do?
I know you don’t like night time peace.
But humans need a few hours, at least.
Would you sleep at night on a sheet?
Would you sleep at night for a treat?
You do not like to let us sleep
So please count mice (or please count sheep!)
When we don our sleeping frocks,
It’s not your cue to go wild, Socks.
Would you pipe down in the night?
Would you, could you, please….alright?
Sleep in a box. Sleep with a fox.
Sleep in a house. Sleep with a mouse.
At nighttime, sleep either here or there.
For the love of God, sleep SOMEWHERE.

Poetry, Spiritual

More than Enough (A sonnet for mid-life sisters)

age

By: Jana Greene

Dear Mid-Life Sisters,

We live in a world that says,” fix yourselves!

And what you can’t fix, deplore!”

A world that tells us that age is the devil and

We’re not enough anymore.

We “should” be more vibrant,

Wrinkle-less, “hot,”

The world loves to tell us

What we are not.

And we agree with all the hype

When not reaching unrealistic goals,

We talk to ourselves in a way

We wouldn’t speak to another soul.

But here’s the truth, dear sisters,

We can write our narrative.

We can love ourselves much bigger

Than love the world is apt to give.

Girl, 

Heroism is rejecting all the hype that we are done,

And realizing that our imperfections

Are scars from battles WON.

So feel sexy, sisters,

Know your worth,

We’re fierce, able, and strong.

You still have the power, grace, and beauty

That you’ve had all along.

And when that inner voice says

You’re best days are on the wane,

Remember how much ass you’ve kicked,

You still have the whole world to gain!

Remember that no other being on Earth

Is quite as sassy and sage

As a woman empowered by self-acceptance

A woman of middle age. ❤

 

acceptace, Brokenness, Christianity, Grace, Spiritual

The Grace Gospel Poem

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By: Jana Greene

What if you were already “right with the Lord,”

And didn’t have to live by the sword,

And battle every single day

With what you do or what you say?

What if you embraced your human-ness,

And didn’t have to strive and stress,

And earn your way into His good graces,

Would you then lean into wide open spaces

Of redemption and love, unconditionally given.

Would you then be so afraid of living?

If we believe what we claim to believe

Could our weary hearts gain a reprieve?

What if His love is totally free.

What, then, would would you open up to be?

What if you could truly rest,

Would you be less exhausted and less of a mess?

Does “it is finished” ring true to you,

Or are you still giving the devil his due?

We try so hard to earn His grace

When really if we seek his face,

We are already there

It is finished and done,

We are one with the Father

And one with the Son,

And Holy Spirit will guide us through;

If you trusted completion,

Tell me, what would you do?

 

Poetry, Spiritual

The Grace Commodity

 

grace commodity

BY: JANA GREENE

Grace is a funny thing.

It delights us when granted when we screw up.

And it pisses us off when applied to someone we feel is undeserving of it.

It slips out of the cuffs of condemnation,

It rises above the rules we think it should follow.

It holds accountable only itself.

It is pure.

Grace is golden when get extend it,

And humbling when we receive it.

It runs ram-shod over rules, and laws,

It cares not for protecting secrets,

Or making others pay.

It isn’t “fair” to us,

And thank God for that.

Grace is a thousand points of light,

A thousand Tiffany lamps,

Shining, bold, brightly colored.

It is a “do over,” for what is done,

And a fresh start for what is coming.

Grace is the Bail Bondsman who leaves the door open.

It is the Father who forgets that you tripped up at all.

It is free, but not cheap.

When all other avenues have been exhausted,

Grace chases shame out of the neighborhood.

The only commodity we are commanded to spend,

Grace builds up,

Shores up,

Holds up.

The byproduct of love,

Grace has unfathomable value,

Just like those for whom it is poured out.

Grace can be scandalous and offensive,

But it always makes it’s mark,

Washing the Spirit clean.

Trade it, give it, spend it,

Let it set you free.

It is for freedom we are set free by it,

Spread that stuff around.

 

Motherhood, Poetry, Spiritual

Don’t Blink, Mama. It Goes too Fast.

don't blink mama

By: Jana Greene

So you’ve joined the club of Motherhood,

You have a sweet baby at last.

Your body still groaning from birthing your child,

Don’t blink mama, it goes too fast.

When you wake for midnight feeds,

Bleary-eyed yourself,

Savor the world where only you two

Are the world, there’s  nobody else.

To every coo and cry and smile

You quickly become attuned.

Memorize those dimpled hands,

They’ll be holding a crayon too soon.

Before you have the time to think

Your baby’s a ‘terrible two.’

Hold tight, Mama, this too shall pass,

The trials always do.

Tantrums in the grocery store,

And before you can blink,

The Tooth Fairy is coming to call

It goes by faster than you think.

Milestones come rapid-fire,

Kindergarten’s here,

Drop her off at school and then

Go home and shed a tear.

The early years go by so fast

You scarcely have time to know

That your baby isn’t a baby now,

Who told you how fast she would grow?

Before you know it, she’s a tween

“Who IS this child?” you’ll say.

Buckle up, Mama, you’ll get through,

Tomorrow’s another day.

The next thing you know, she’s a teenager,

Full of angst and woe,

It will harken the days of the “terrible twos,”

Take heart, she has time to grow.

The early days of dimpled hands

And nursing by moonlight,

Those memories will see you through,

When parenting feels like a fight.

Oh to watch her find herself,

The pride in who she’s become!

Members of the Motherhood Club,

You’ve officially come undone.

The secret that nobody says

But I’ve found is very true,

Is that your baby is her very own person,

And not a extension of you.

You’ve nurtured, taught, and guided,

And now it’s her own turn,

To figure out this thing called life,

On her own (and very different) terms.

Now you’re a veteran parent,

Battle-scarred and rife

With sweet assurance that she still needs you

In her grown-up life.

Dynamics change, my friend, you see,

The stages never last,

But one day you’ll call your child ‘friend,’

Don’t blink, Mama. It goes so fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry, Spiritual

Love Takes Home the Prize (a little poetry slam attempt)

jacob's well
Jacob’s Well in Texas

Hello, dear readers. I pray everyone is safe in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires.

Oy vey, this world.  What is the DEAL with it?

As I fight my own battle with depression, I’m learning that fighting it is exhausting, like trying to climb out of a deep well where the walls are slick and there are no footholds. I’m learning to be still, let Jesus shimmy down the well to where I am, hold and comfort me, and then lift me to safety. I know He will because He always does. As surely as death or taxes.

I have recently become addicted to watching poetry slams on YouTube. I love the wordcrafting and tempo, the emotion and power that go into the slamming. I would love to write poetry for a gathering of slam fans, but I don’t really have the guts to do it in front of actual people, so I’ll just do so from my little corner of the world here at The Beggar’s Bakery, where I don’t have to stutter or worry about what to do with my face or hands in front of people.

Here is my slam of the day.  It’s my first in this style of writing. Chalk it up to a mid-life crisis.  It almost has to be read aloud, and gives little credence to punctuation and grammar and all that jazz.

It may be pure awful. Something I look back on publishing and cringe.  Trying new things is hard. But hey – that’s always a risk when starting anything new. Right?

 

By: Jana Greene

There is no love apart from God

That being who embodies us

And shines like glass inside of us

Reflecting who He is.

Not given straight-up, tidy, neat

This thing we make about ourselves

This thing that wracks and wrecks ourselves

Spills over, out, and through.

We look at life through half-blind eyes

Despairing at the poverty

Body, mind soul  poverty

that chokes and breaks our hearts.

How can you say that God is Love?

I’ve heard asked in angry tones

Broken, acrid, angry tones

Where is He in the hurt?

Has Love gone void in this dark place

Where pain crushes the human race

This fickle, tender human race

And leaves it there to die?

But I say ‘no’; do not give in

To throwing in the towel, my friend,

The towel so soaked with blood and tears

Wring it and be free.

Chin up, all creation!

Rise up, all you nations!

And then crouch down with fellow men

And make yourselves Jesus to them,

For he is inhabiting you.

It’s not by spell of your own power

But by His Spirit enmeshed in you

The Friend he left to dwell in you

Manifesting Love for you.

Like liquid gold, let it flow

Out from the vessel and into the mold

The empty, barren, starving mold

In your brother’s heart.

We see here through half-blind eyes

Through the glass darkly in side of us

But even in spite of the dark in us,

Love takes home the prize.

 

 

Spiritual

Letting Go of the “God of the Heavy Hand” (a little poem about His acceptance of you)

 

By: Jana Greene

When we perceive God’s heavy hand,

See? He’s showing his disdain!

For the common core of man,

Those so doubtful of His reign.

But what if we misperceive

Our own egos as his voice,

The thunder, ire, and condemnation

In response to our own choice?

 Or does God come softer still?

His love not found in angry roar,

But like a city on a hill,

Whose light beckons as an open door.

 He, with mercy, looks below

With radical, offensive grace

By leaps and bounds we rise and grow,

And learn to seek his loving face.

It’s not by punishment we learn

The vastness of his love and care,

But by accepting that where we find ourselves,

He’s already there.

 

 

Poetry

I Hope You Know

I hope

By: Jana Greene

I hope you know it wasn’t you,
When all of it is said and through,
When damage from the floods recede,
I hope that you can still believe.

I hope you know I really tried
To reconcile the pain inside
And find a way to overcome
Before my pieces came un-done.

I was walking wounded then,
I didn’t have the tools to mend….
I tried to stick close to your side.
I failed, but Jesus knows I tried.

My instinct is to protect you, love.
I lost the strength to rise above
So I did the only thing I knew,
To protect my spirit, too.
And in time, I withdrew.

I hope you know it wasn’t you.

Afraid to open doors to ghosts
And raise the specters I fear most,
I faded off into the clear.
(I can only survive from over here.)

I’m still un-done in places, you see,
Where life has gotten the best of me,
But I love you all the same.
I hope you bear no fault or shame.

You mean the world to me still now.
I don’t know when or where or how
To make things better, so I pray
God smile upon your life today.

God show mercy on this soul
Whom I love and lost in whole,
When the pieces threaten to unbind,
Give peace to this anguished mind.

When memories keep on pushing through…
I hope you know it wasn’t you.

 

Poetry, Spiritual

More than a Survivor

I interrupt this blog series about the 12 Steps to post this message that God gave me during church last Sunday. He kind of won’t get off my back writing it, like maybe someone else out there needs to hear the message. So, here we go.

Step Eight seems like a good place to take a rest anyway.

1610912_10204079650383910_3052899064755727197_n

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness

of slavery on you.” – Galations 5:1 (The Message)

MORE THAN A SURVIVOR

I don’t want to be a survivor anymore,

Staggering through future’s door

Waiting for there to be more

Than just getting through.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s just not enough for me

To have made it through the dark melee

And be on the other side

Of the abuse I suffered as a child,

The alcoholism that reviled

Against me as I reconciled

The present with the past.

I waved the white flag banner high

And shook my fists at a broken sky

It is finished, and yet nigh

I’m still shaking wounded fists.

It is for freedom we’ve been set free

Not just scraping by you see,

Or living in fragility,

No slavery harness holds.

No more do I accept as fact

That giving up is giving back,

That white is white and black is black,

Redemption is complete in me.

I’m empowered by the force

That set the earth upon it’s course,

I’ll live no more with bleak remorse

But as one favored by the Lord.

A survivor’s a great thing to be,

It’s for freedom I’ve been set free

Abundant and exceedingly

No more a slave to past.

I’m picking my mat up off the floor

And walking with surety through future’s door,

Head held high and in bondage no more!

More than a survivor.

– Jana Greene

Bethlehem, birth of Christ, Christmas, Holiday, manger

Christmas: God pursuing us

Antonio Allegri, Correggio 1528
Antonio Allegri “Correggio” 1528

By: Jana Greene

We lose the meaning of it all, in the quest to get it right.
This Christmas thing is hard to fathom, under our own might.

We know that Jesus was born in a manger,
We know that animals lowed nearby,
We know the wise men brought him presents,
We’ve all heard of the star that guided them nigh.

But stop the Christmas rush for a moment,
Silence the bells and jingling sleighs,
Look beyond trees and feasts and caroling,
And elaborate displays.

Remember for a moment what we most often forget,
Let it rest in your heart (where it’s a perfect fit!)
Christmas is about a God crazy for you …

Listen …. Can you hear him pursue?

A God who became human for a time,
just to be closer to you?

The Creator of the universe craving relationship,
Wanting to be where you are?
That small, still voice following you
Like the bright Bethlehem star?

So far across the universe, yet as close as drawing breath,
What could make God’s people see
This love that conquers death?

God sent his son – a part of Himself –
A promise he’d made long before.
And so to Mary, a son was born,
On a humble stable floor.

God himself poured over bones, and under fragile skin,
To draw you close and know your pain, and forever conquer sin.

God made manifest in a baby boy,
Who would grow to save the world.
And bring them the gospel of truth and joy,
His prophesy unfurled.

Hark the herald angels sing!
Peace on earth, good will toward men!
Do not fear,
Your God is near,
Even to the end.

Emmanuel – God With Us –
Yeshua,
God most high!
The hope for everlasting life
Heard in an infant’s cry.

That’s the meaning of Christmas.

Rejoice in your heart of hearts,
Where God has made his home …
Your heart – the manger  for the savior,
Filled with peace –
Shalom.

 

“Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
An Event for Everyone

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Luke 2:1-20The Message (The Message)

Poetry

Pathway to a Richer Life

By: Jana Greene

God,

Your plans are perfect, holy, good.

Mine lead me in the wrong direction.

My plans don’t work out as they should,

Flawed and full of imperfection.

Your mercy, it endures forever.

Mine toward others? Not always so.

Depending on my mood and temper,

My mercy will often come and go.

Yours is the path to righteousness,

Of light and honor, love and grace.

Mine is the path of least resistance

My flesh seeks a faster pace.

Show me where to venture next

(My sense of direction? It’s off by a mile!)

And I will follow your inflection

Instead of the pulling of my own guile.

Not because I’m so deserving –

A member of this human race,

But because your love does no deserting,

You run towards those who seek your face.

God,

Your plans are perfect, holy, good.

Mine are often cause for strife.

Teach me to follow your will and way,

And mine will be a richer life.

 

Spiritual

13

I wrote this poem for my youngest daughter when she was going through a rough time, and I’m posting it with her permission.  (She has grown up to be all the good things that her mama predicted, by the way….she was all along – she just had to figure it out).

By:  Jana Greene

“13”

She sees herself in dimmest light,

All shadows that she doesn’t like

And awkward features

In her mind all,

Predicting every trip and fall.

She feels alone in mass of crowd

And tries to hide within her shroud

Of shortcomings,

All in her mind

Afraid of what the light may find.

She only knows that it’s not fair,

That “perfect girls” with flaxen hair

And flawless looks

And stellar grades

Really sometimes feel just the same.

She sees herself as in the dark

Inadequacies in contrast stark

To the proud and bright and secure around.

So, feeling small… she makes no sound.

If only she could stand outside

Those limits that she sets and hides

Behind as if they were in stone….

She isn’t falling.

She’s not alone.

She’s beautiful

This much is true,

But her brown eyes should see it too.

Proud and bright, secure and true?

One day, her eyes will see it, too.

Poetry

Five

I’m kicking around the idea of making Saturday Blog entries a showcase for poetry.  The poem below, entitled “Five” is one I wrote about several years ago for my step-daughter.  It addresses the blending of our families, in simple prose.

Please let me know what you think about “Saturday Evening Poet” blog posts in the “Comments” section, and thank you!

Five

Once upon an August day

I happened on a family,

A father and his lovely girl.

Familiar, at once, they were to me.

Two daughters I’d had all along

Bright and loving, brave and strong,

And somehow yet,

Somehow still…

Our hearts and lives had space to fill.

As time went by, soft  memories stacked

Like building blocks placed back-to-back,

Like traveling to places far away

And salty, swimming beachy days,

Talking together and movie nights

Laughter abundant (occasional fights),

All knowing each other deeper each day

And loving each other

Anyway.

Could it be that the whole five

Would find a way to survive

As not just two

And not just three

But as a God-shaped family?

So

Once upon an October day

We became that family,

A Dad, a Mom, three lovely girls

As it was always meant to be.

I gained a husband that day tis’ true,

And I’m blessed to be his wife,

But I gained a daughter, too –

Bright, loving, brave and strong

In my life.

 

– Jana Greene