“What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.”
Getting to know our kids is one of those adventures that is always full of surprises. In our time here in PNG, I’ve enjoyed spending lunches once a week with a different one of our kids and having ‘dates’ with them where we spend time doing something that they love.
For some, that means colouring and chatting, for others it means listening to them chat about Minecraft, for another it might mean writing a book together or drawing pictures that represent everything that’s going on in our minds. And for all, there were snacks 🙂
Whatever it is, it’s always fun and it’s always enlightening as I get to know them a bit better with each date.
Now, before you start thinking that this just must be so easy and I’m so organized and I’m always attentive to each of my kids’ needs, let me dispel that untruth. These dates were actually born out of a season in my life when I felt like I wasn’t giving my kids what I needed and that my anxiety and anger were actually communicating to them that I wasn’t full of as much love for them as I actually was.
These dates were ways to reconnect, apologize and show them what I wanted to show them rather than what I felt I had been showing them with my actions. And, God has used these times together beautifully. He truly does make beauty out of ashes and I am so thankful.
A few weeks ago, it was Jacob’s turn and, even though we’ve been writing a book together (he wants to be a writer and violinist and maybe a counsellor when he gets older and I think he’d be fabulous at all three!), we decided to take a break and have a poetry contest. We each got to sit there for our thirty minutes and write a poem about anything.
Jacob has had a wonderful teacher for fourth and fifth grade who introduced something called “Poet-tea” every Friday and this has really developed his love of poetry – a love that had already been sparked by another wonderful teacher in third grade. “Poet-tea” is one of his favourite activities and he was about to have his final one so we decided to make our own version at lunch.
We sat there and wrote side by side and I remembered how much I loved poetry. Being someone who loves words, I love the rules and the structure. The grammar, the punctuation, even the spelling but, being someone who is also creative, I love free writing. I love the limitlessness of poetry and feeling like I can write what I’m thinking and feeling with the rhythm that I’m feeling it. There is something beautiful about the process and something so deeply satisfying.
When we finished, Jacob had a particularly hilarious poem about a frog and I had a more serious poem about dreams. We read ours to each other and thoroughly enjoyed each others’ work. When Jacob read my poem, he immediately wanted to come home and write another – a more thoughtful work about trees and he did an amazing job at that, in just a few minutes.
I have no idea what Jacob’s future holds but I know that God has put words in his mind and thoughts in his heart that bubble up and often seek a creative outlet where they can be expressed. I can only hope that he will find positive and healthy outlets for his thoughts and that he will use his words to encourage and uplift those around him and point them to God as he gets to know Him more personally.
In the meantime, let me share our poems with you so that you can enjoy them for yourself.
by Jacob McCarthy
trees to climb
trees to remind
of an older year
way back in time
trees to jump
trees with bumps
trees with humps
for you and me
trees to love
trees to cut
trees to look
trees in summer
trees in spring
we need trees for everything
trees for fruits
trees for roots
trees for owls
who hoot and hoot
we swing on trees
we climb on trees
we pick from trees
we jump off trees
but most of all
we stand up tall
on that beautiful creation
and smell the warm summer breeze
at the beginning of fall
by Anita McCarthy
Mind spinning. Thoughts turning.
Endless ideas and dreams are yearning
To be pulled from fantasy into reality
But dreaming, not doing, is my speciality.
How do I organize all of these dreams?
The burden of imagination is more than it seems.
Do I change who I am and put an end to the flow.
Do I pick and choose dreams?
I really don’t know.
Or maybe I focus on other folks’ dreams.
Ones that are planned and set out for me.
Ones that can be seen and felt and touched.
Ones that don’t call me
To risk all that much.
But what good are dreams about which I don’t care?
Abandoning my dreams is too much to bear.
No, in life, I will stop seeing my thoughts as burdens.
I will stop thinking value lies only in certain things
that can be done.
That can be measured.
That can be won.
I will remember the beauty of chaotic creation
And let my mind stumble in long contemplation.
I will love the variety.
Treasure the noise.
I will search in the mess and pull out all the joys.
Joys of the process and not just the product.
Joys of the conceptual, the theoretical, abstract.
Joy in big dreams that you aim to enact.
Joy in success and acceptance of failure.
A focus on heart and not just behaviour.
Reminders that, in all of this, there’s a plan.
Hope that my future lies secure in His hands.
Peace in the chaos.
I’m not a mistake.
Hope that confusion will not overtake.
A cry for some purpose.
A call for some rest.
A claim that He loves me nevertheless.
We all have our dreams that we wish were reality.
We try to decipher the steps with finality.
We don’t want mistakes.
We don’t want to lose.
We don’t want to fumble on which dream to choose.
But what if some of us simply are dreamers?
Seers and hearers and thinkers and feelers.
People who take in so much information.
Their minds in a state of non stop innovation.
The unfinished dreams, not signs of a fool
but the signs of a mind that is constantly ruled
by a higher power, a grander design,
a Holy Father we can never define.
His greatness is greater than we can comprehend.
His plans look like chaos that will not descend
into ordered thoughts our minds can grasp
but unexplained yearnings we cannot get past.
So back to the whirring thoughts I turn.
This time not to judge but simply to learn.
In His image I’m made in His own grand design.
Each thought and each dream
a thoughtful reminder of the One who’s much bigger,
much stronger, more wise.
The One whose beauty is often disguised
in things unexplained and things undetected.
His plans for me are so unexpected that perhaps
I should let go of the weight of comparison.
Turn to the One who gives me the medicine
of freedom in Christ.
A freedom that’s lasting
and casting away the shadows of doubt.
I am loved.
I am loved,
I just want to shout at the doubts of my heart
and the worries of my head; He’s in charge.
He knows best.
He still has a plan.
Your heart and your mind are designed for a purpose.
Those thoughts and those dreams will not remain formless
but formed by a God who gave them to me,
used for His glory forever they’ll be.
So look not to your faults as though they’ll exclude you.
Your Saviour, He died, just so He would include you
in His bigger plan, to reach the whole world.
Your dreams might be used to herald the news
of His love and His kindness for the least of all these,
a truth that should bring you right down to your knees.
So let the noise fade to the gentlest of hums
and let your heart say,
‘Your will, Lord, be done.’