Guest Poem: Has Anyone Seen my Aplomb?

by: Tonja Taylor

Has anyone seen it—my dear aplomb?
Maybe I left it behind at home;
Or put it on a secret shelf,
To wear when I didn’t like myself.

I had it before; it was clearly seen,
Or so to my keen intellect it seemed; 
Didn’t I infer what they implied?
I thought t’was my aplomb they spied—

Sparkling, striking, powerfully pleasing;
“It becomes you,” they said with a grin.
(Then again, it might have been
That they were only teasing.)

Surely it didn’t fall and slip
Down the sink while I did dishes–
Now lost on some iridescent trip
Of ethereal suds and squishes?

Did the maid, in cleaning determination
Think it dust or an aberration?
And remove it forever from its place
In the room where I daily put on my face?

I wore it with charm and poise, and grace.
With style, panache, finesse,
But now I have misplaced my aplomb,
And everything’s a mess.

Maybe the verbal snafu last night
Caused my aplomb to leave in flight;
I should have know it could erase
It; and perhaps make me lose face …

It’s quite the faux pa I have made
I guess; but even so
The moi I was I wouldn’t trade
For the new me I now know.

You can enjoy more of Tonja Taylor’s work on her website:

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If You Can’t See God

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you couldn’t see?

Maybe you are blind or you have some other kind of disability. When we struggle with something or face difficulties, it can be hard to understand how God will work it out for good.

Meet Fanny Crosby. Fanny had a hard life. In fact, to hear her story at first, it’s hard to imagine that she found any joy at all. And yet, Fanny Crosby was one of the most joyful, talented, wise and influential women in history.

Fanny Crosby was born in 1820 in Brewster, New York. When she was only 6-weeks-old, she caught a cold and got very sick. Even her eyes got inflamed and painful. The doctors treated the little girls the best they knew how, but by the time she got well, Fanny had lost her sight. No one really knows whether her blindness was caused by the medicine or something that could not have been prevented.

Before Fanny was a year old, her father died so she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Both of them were devout Christians and taught Fanny about Jesus. They taught Fanny to study hard, read the Bible and memorize Scripture. In fact, starting at 10-years-old, Fanny memorized five chapters of the Bible every single week!

Fanny was only 8-years-old when she wrote her first poem describing her blindness. By that time, she had accepted the fact that she could not see as part of God’s plan for her and determined to use it to glorify Him. She said that if she were offered perfect sight, she would not take it. Fanny believed that if she could see, she might have been distracted by all the beautiful things around her and forget to sing and praise God!

So, Fanny used her talents to glorify God. In her lifetime, she wrote over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs including some of the most poplar hymns we sing today like, “Blessed Assurance” and “To God be the Glory”. In 1843, Fanny traveled to Washington D.C. to help persuade the government to support education for the blind, and she was the very first woman to speak to the United States Senate!

When Fanny wasn’t composing songs, she spent much of her time teaching at the New York Institute for the Blind. Once, when an epidemic of cholera struck New York City, rather than flee for safety, Fanny stayed at the NYIB to nurse the sick. She also worked hard to care for the poor saying, “from the time I received my first check for my poems, I made up my mind to open my hand wide to those who needed assistance.” Fanny is remembered for her rescue missions work almost as much as for her songs.

Does it ever feel like you can’t see God’s work in your life?

Do you ever ask God why He made you a certain way?

Do you wonder why you have to struggle with some things that don’t seem fair?

Next time you do, try praising God using one of Fanny’s songs. I think it will encourage you!

To hear some of Fanny Crosby’s songs follow these link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNVCcph6cnI&list=PLD75EEB725D137135.

Continuous Creation

I started off to wonder,
How the trees and skies were made.
How shadows follow fingers
And butterflies parade,
Round roses, daisies, buttercups
And only for a season,
Then disappear, to come next year
With hardly any reason.

How the breeze can be so winsome
And terrify me too.
One night’s sky an angry yellow,
The next one, navy blue.

How can my face be worn and lined?
The skin once baby-smooth and fine.
How can my one same spirit
Live inside an aged frame?
My one same spirit—
Growing through the change?

Perhaps it’s not that creation was—
It wasn’t yesterday.
Maybe God still speaks life,
And and breathes souls
Today and everyday.

I chased these thoughts throughout the day,
And took them last to Scripture.

“Lord,” I said, “I don’t understand
“How all these things can be.
You made earth once, but I still see
Your hand in everything.”

“Daughter,” Abba slow replied,
“The world spins within my hand.
And every breath that’s taken,
Yes, those are all mine too.
Yes, I once created,
But I’m always making new.”

Revelation 21:5 “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Amos 4:13 “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—
the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!”

Words of Wash and Water

In a garden,

The bucket laden and light,

I knelt at Jesus’ feet.

Mindful of the matriarchs of my faith,

Who knelt as this so long before

To anoint these same dusty, earth-caked feet.

 

One spilled incense, her destiny over them,

And rinsed with her tears and dried with her mane.

Another caressed these feet in a garden, as me.

Her tears seeped through closing wounds.

Salt stung healing flesh.

 

My bucket is brimming but perfectly leveraged.

Only I can carry it so.

Filled with my destiny, my praise, my tears,

My words.

 

Oh Jesus, let me spill them,

Cascading over your toes.

Words of adoration.

Poems of praise,

Heralding hope.

 

These words will wash you with my wonder,

But your earth-dust will not fade.

For the feet were glad to walk upon

The soil the hands had made.

 

My words of praise flow over

Soaking ground and seeds of faith.

The words of life and lives of hope,

Drink deeply of their praise.

Let them blossom, grow and drop their seed.

For what are words, their droplet,

But to bring fruit to bear?

Enrich the soil and beautify

The garden,

I find you there.

The Answer to Your Heart’s Cry

When thankfulness heaves dry,
And prayer is stillborn,
Listless lips, somber heart
Percussion of praise halts,
And the Army halts,
The prayer warrior falters…

Daughter, glory in My verdancy,
Marvel at Me.
How is it that you could be lonely
in My presence?
Hear Me speak in the rush of rain,
The charge of damp angel feet through the balsam trees.

I have come, in response to your prayer.
I have heard and answered.
I have come for your joy and My glory.
Both complete the other and find permanence there.

I have never needed you,
But I chose you,
And love you as sister, daughter, bride, friend.
Find your hope, inhale My faith for you.
Sit back, rest and watch My glory.
And let all your longings be fulfilled and overflowed.

The banks of your loneliness will
Erode in the power of My Life-giving flood.
Watch Me. Behold Me. Taste Me.

Be still and know that I am God.
Taste and see–
I, The Lord, am good.

Verses for further study and encouragement: 1 Chronicles 14:13-15, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 116:1, Matthew 23:9, Hebrews 2:11-13, Isaiah 54:5

Our Star Spangled History

Are you ready for fireworks? What will you be thinking about while you twirl your sparklers or cover your eyes against the deafening “boom!”? What will you talk about while you sit in lawn chairs on the evening of the Fourth of July and taste homemade ice cream and watch the city’s fireworks display?

I made wonderful memories on those summer nights, many sticky-hot Fourth of Julys. Sometimes, when my sisters and I went to bed, we could still hear the neighbors setting of their fireworks and occasionally a really big one would light up our windows and keep us awake.

Now, think of the loudest, brightest firework you’ve ever seen and multiply it by millions. Then, you might begin to be able to imagine what Francis Scott Key saw the night he wrote our nation’s national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

It was during The War of 1812, when many brave men were fighting for America’s freedom from Great Britain. On the night of September 3, 1814, Mr. Key and another gentleman named, John Skinner, courageously boarded an enemy ship to try and convince the British to release another friend of theirs, a doctor by the name of William Beanes. While they were on board the enemy ship, Mr. Key and Mr. Skinner overheard the British’s battle plans to attack Baltimore. To keep them from warning the Americans, the British forced Key and Skinner to stay onboard until after the battle.

That night, Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of the enemy’s ship and watched as they bombed Fort McHenry which protected Baltimore’s harbor. As darkness fell, he could just barely make out the outline of the flag still flying proudly over Fort McHenry. As long as the flag flew, he knew that the Americans had not surrendered.

For 12 hours, the battle raged and the small American fort held its ground. In the middle of the night, bombs lit up the sky and rockets flashed through the air. Finally, before daylight, the bombing stopped. It was strangely quiet, and Mr. Key couldn’t see if Fort McHenry had been captured or survived.

Suddenly, very early in the morning, the mist cleared away and Mr. Key caught a glimpse of the red, white and blue flag still flying proudly over Fort McHenry. He was so excited, he felt like singing! Quickly, Mr. Key dug a piece of paper from his pocket; it was an unfinished letter. He began to scribble down a poem on the back of his paper.

Several days later, on September 16, Mr. Key, Mr. Skinner and their doctor friend were released. Safe in a hotel that night, Francis Scott Key finished writing the words to The Star Spangled Banner.

The poem was a hit and quickly put the tune of a familiar song. It was sung in many places and gained popularity, but it wasn’t until March 3, 1931, 117 years later, that President Herbert Hoover declared The Star Spangled Banner to be the official national anthem.

Most people know the words to the first verse of The Star Spangled Banner. And most people also know that our country was founded on biblical principles and the desire for every person to have the freedom to worship God as they wanted to. But very few people have heard, or remember the words to Francis Scott Key’s fourth verse. It is a beautiful poem that reminds us that God is the giver of freedom, our protector and the one in whom we place our trust.
“O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

To read all four verses of The Star Spangled Banner and read some more history, click here.

Feel the Sunrise

shrimp-boat-sunrise-1445726-mSun rose, bold and brash,
Flaming bronze across the sky.
Horizontal in its peeking,
Not yet determined to push away the night.

I sat still as stone,
My feet grown useless,
A part of the splintered floor beneath them.
I sat still as stone, paralyzed by anticipation,
Awaiting glory.

The air is clear.
Not devoid of color, warmth or sound,
Indeed full of bird song,
Tenderness and blushes, tints, pops of pigment.
Waiting…

It is clear of confusion—
That slept away.
Clear of fear and timidity,
Not yet risen for the day.

Sun bold, streaks upward,
Advancing on the night.
But as I listen and feel for glory,
Eyes close to restrain my sight.

Have I felt the sunrise before?
This so remarkable, could I forget?

First a small toe, then five
As heat seeps up my ankle.
Goosebumps swell, pop and fade
As radiance explores me.

Glory.
I feel it stealing over me, slowly,
Awakening each pore.
Devours knee, thigh, waist,
Shoulder, neck, cheek…
And I am Glory.

Melded one and melted into
Divine joy, newness, declaration.
Life Lives! It calls:
Awaken.

The Morning After

Thankfulness:

For noticing in the oddest of places.

Finding a measure of wonder, transfixed by unseemly, simply because it is you.

I watch and remark at the sway of trees, but if I peer closely,
Hundred of thousands of chlorophyl tissues greet the sunrise.

Welcome in the morning sun.
Even as heat bears down, sinks into asphalt,
As puppy paws seek grass and shade.
Thanks even there for grand design.
My skin deepens, bronzes, adopts a lustrous hue.

Even as humidity climbs and the air thickens,
As sticky syrup, yet sweet as too.
The faintest breeze bearing honeysuckle, fresh mowed lawn and tiny clover.
I’m glad even for these “weeds”.

After a move,
I am swollen with thanks for quick work and few things.
For empty boxes and mounds of paper and unbroken treasures.

Thank you for pillows and sheets aplenty.
For dog bowls, spoons and laundry soap.
Thank you for the waiting,
And my soldier’s patience,
Who coaxed me this far,
To wait past reason, hush and wait some more.

Thank you for the soft body curled peaceful on my lap.
For perky, black-brown ears and bright eyes.
And thank you for just enough space for the two of us
On this chair, in this ray of sunlight.

I wrote this the day after we unpacked all our “stuff” after we moved from Columbus, GA to Clarksville, TN. I’m finding attentiveness to the Holy Spirit in intentional thanks.