Joyous Christmas

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Joyous Christmas

 

The tree is tall and bent and green like spring

with golden balls that hang like bows on braids

and shiny tinsel raining gold and jade.

Angelic wings flap as the children sing,

“The baby born is Christ, Our Lord and King…”

Small arms rise slowly as the music fades.

The audience breaks in most joyful praise.

Discouraged hearts are now able to dream.

 

Shawn R. Jones

*I am hoping to finish this sonnet someday : )

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One day you wil…

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One day you will complain about not being able to do the things you now complain about doing. – Shawn R. Jones (2013)

Let’s Pretend We Know Everything

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Let’s Pretend We Know Everything

Let’s pretend we know everything
and carry our religion
like a clutch.

We can carry it when
we wear certain outfits
certain places.

Let’s pretend we are God
and give everyone a key
who is like us

to the door of these
certain places
where people gather

who are certain
about all things
in the universe.

Let’s pretend we are right
until certain people
decide we are wrong

and lock the doors
to certain places
where everyone

is absolutely certain
about everything.

 

Shawn R. Jones

 

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1

“We Thinking”

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“We Thinking”

By Shawn R. Jones

             That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

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 If you were to peek through my windows tonight, you would find me tapping lightly on the computer keys in a huge chair by the fire with a knitted white blanket across my feet.  My husband would be sitting a few feet away from me, flipping through Hemmings Motor News, occasionally adjusting his bronze-framed glasses.  If you were to listen closely enough, perhaps you would hear the jittery fire sizzle, pop, and crackle within its brick walls, and maybe you would even hear our black pit-bull’s teeth scratch across her large bone. There are no other sounds in the house, and it looks as if things have always gone smoothly for us.  Looking through our windows tonight, you only see the benefits of our investments. There is no hint of struggle.

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Oh, but there was struggle of multiple kinds and varying degrees.  We did not always live where we live and how we live, and we did not always think the thoughts we now think (Romans 12:2) and speak the words we now speak. When you look through our windows tonight, you are looking at a couple who gradually learned to depend on God for everything and believe in His goodness regardless of their personal circumstances and the world’s condition. Tonight, for the most part, everything appears as it seems.  Because we trust God, joy fills our hearts and our home (Romans 15:13) even though we still have problems and the world’s condition has not improved. Although it took some time, we now realize we cannot allow our human perspective to weaken our faith. Our circumstances are not always going to be good, and there is nothing characteristically human about maintaining a positive attitude in difficult times, but since God is good all the time, hope, joy, and peace are always attainable (Romans 15:13). Like the Apostle Paul, we “have learned to be content” despite our challenges (Philippians 4:11), but there were moments in our marriage when contentment was not easily accessible.

Our first few years of marriage, my husband and I fought like toddlers throwing temper tantrums, physically destroying items that were within our reach, like plates, chairs, clocks, vases, and wall thermometers.  The only positive things about our arguments were that we only had them a couple times a year, and we never hit each other (mostly because I had a bad aim).  However, our tone and our language made up for six months of peace. Had we been two Hulks, we would have turned from brown to grass green in a matter of seconds.  I cannot imagine how we would have reacted had we had serious issues to fight over because we had full blown arguments over insignificant things, like dust, unwashed dishes, cluttered tables, and dirty laundry.

In actuality, we were just learning how to consider someone else other than ourselves.  It is not easy to transition from “me thinking” to “we thinking,” but decades later, I am grateful that we figured it out. If you were to look through our windows now, you would find it very difficult to believe that we are the same couple who once rattled the walls on Washington Street.  Becoming “we thinkers” took a long time.  It was an on-going process, but we relied on God completely, and there were a couple tough incidents that helped get us there.

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My husband and I would probably agree that the most difficult situation we have had to deal with in our marriage was our child’s illness.  Over the years, our daughter has had several appointments with pediatric specialists and a couple surgeries at Children’s Hospital.  At first we tried to tackle the situation separately, coping with the stress in unhealthy ways; I ate less and he ate more. However, what saved us both was my husband’s faith. I trusted God less and less with each unanswered prayer, and my husband trusted Him more.

At first, I didn’t understand my husband’s perspective, and I became angry with both him and God.  At the time, I felt that neither of them could have possibly loved my daughter as much as I did.  I figured (Proverbs 3:5-6), if God had loved her as much as I, He would have healed her, and if my husband had loved her as much as I, he would have cursed God for not healing her.  That was exactly how I felt until my husband convinced me that no matter what happened, we were living in God’s perfect will for our lives. He told me we had to be a team and remain a team whether our daughter lived or died. I wanted to hit him for thinking I could ever be part of anyone’s team if such a horrific event had occurred, but I also wanted to hug him because I realized I would never be alone in any situation, unless I chose to be.  I had him, and I had God, and the only one isolating me from my support system was myself.  Upon realizing this, I allowed the situation to make me, my marriage, and my relationship with God stronger. It was the strength of those relationships that got us through.

Prior to my daughter’s birth, there was another event that called for great strength, my father’s horrific death.  My father died when I was two months pregnant with my daughter. The circumstances around his death made me more vulnerable, not vulnerable to my dealings with others, but vulnerable to my own thoughts about death, unfairness, and God.  I was twenty-three when my father died from a drug overdose, and even though I knew he was addicted to heroin, at twenty-three, I still believed in happy endings.

After his death, my husband and I both had to deal with my guilt, depression, and dwindling faith.  I felt guilty because I couldn’t save my dad and depressed because he had lost his battle against his addiction.  In turn, I lost faith in God because I trusted that, after much prayer, God would deliver him. It took some time for me to realize that he was delivered.  When my father died, so did his addiction.

Ironically, there are situations that are much worse than death, like the excruciating pain of withdraw that makes an addict steal from his children, beat his loved ones, and harm whoever comes between him and his next hit.  Indeed, my father was delivered.  In fact, we were all delivered.  His addiction had put unbearable stress on our family, and after he died, God was there to help us deal with the aftershock and devastating residual effects of the tragedy.

Looking through my windows tonight, you do not see the weight of the burdens we have carried.  You only see the strength that is the result of carrying those weights and the relief we now feel after giving each burden to God.  My husband and I are not more or less human than anyone else.  We are no better or worse than any other couple God has put together. However, in order to make your relationship work, you have to pray consistently, together and separately. And most importantly, you have to be deeply committed to God and each other.

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Dear Lord, please allow us to be positive role models for other couples.  Through us, I pray they will see the beauty of the institution of marriage and build their lives together with you at the center of their relationships.  Thank you so much for your guidance and unconditional love. Amen.

By Shawn R. Jones

 website: www.shawnrjones.com

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1

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Fall 2013

Bent and Broken

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      Bent and broken, I crawled out of bed, making my way to the faucet.  I knew cold water would only snap me out of it a few seconds, but I needed to feel something other than despair.  I felt a little relief going to the bathroom. It was proof that something in my body was working correctly, and I needed to know that because my mind was failing me. I had been depressed for six months. My mind could no longer jumpstart itself without delay.  After three tragic experiences, I did not know how to relate to the world.  I could no longer identify with the carefree person I used to be.  I had become the victim of my tragic circumstances.  I was still the daughter crying on the soil of her father’s grave,  the mother who collapsed on the tile floor at Children’s Hospital, and the patient, twisting in pain with an oxygen mask covering her nose and mouth.  I was the despair of those three women and nothing more.

    I prayed occasionally and went to church most Sundays, but I still could not separate myself from my experiences.   Then one day, while washing dishes, I wailed like someone had stolen one of my children.  My despair was so great, I could not stand. My failed mind was winning.  I was losing control.

     At that moment, I cried, “If you are real, Jesus, why won’t you help me?!”

     I prayed and asked God to please help me come back to Him.  The next day, while walking through a parking lot, I found a tattered book on the asphalt.  The back of the book read, This book will teach you how to come back to God.  In awe, I flipped it over with my foot, read the title, and slipped it in my purse.   I read it in a matter of days, and I also read the Bible daily and prayed consistently.  During that time, God revealed Himself to me in so many different ways; I could not deny His presence in my life.

     God helped me take my focus off of myself by placing people in my life who were justifiably depressed.   I am not saying that I was depressed without reason, but I realized there would always be someone else who needed more help than I did.  God introduced me to those people. The more I helped them and talked to them about Christ, the better I felt and the closer I got to God.  So, even if you are a little sad, a little worried, or a little dissatisfied, focus on someone other than yourself.  God is with you and you will see better days if you do not give up. Stand tall.

By Shawn R. Jones,

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

PIGF cover

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

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http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1