Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bridge to the Past

Shadow Bridge 2

Thanks to Marcus and Spaghettipie, and Lynet for sending me to the past. Not to the Jurassic period or anything like that. No, they each tagged Seedlings for a history demonstration.

Marcus and Spaghettiepie asked me what I was doing ten, twenty and thirty years ago. And Lynet asked for a 5-post evolutionary history of my blog. To my great fortune, I found a way to put the two together and preserve the time-honored Seedlings tradition of altering memes I'm memed with (tagged with?).

30 years ago, I wasn't blogging. But I was poking through country creekbeds, as this early post attests. Writing about my creek days was part of an initial blog effort to provide backstory for my book. Maybe I'll do this again when my book comes out. Maybe not. What began here as business and mischievous science has turned largely into community life. And who walks around their community always talking business? I prefer not to.

20 years ago, I still wasn't blogging. But I was developing an interest in art— an interest which eventually impacted the name of this blog, as this early post shows. My interest in art continues to run through Seedlings. Right from the beginning, I wanted to showcase art and support artists. I did it at the start, and I do it now.

10 years ago, you guessed it... I still wasn't blogging. But I was making my foray into public speaking, by teaching the bible for a local ministry. This was the unexpected beginning of my life as a professional "spiritual writer". I've been writing about writing on Seedlings from the start and I still do.

All in all, this blog still talks about writing, art, and life. Hopefully with a touch of grace. And sometimes with a touch of mischief. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, who knows, but today, here it is.

Tag, you're it: Charity, Erin, Jim, Scot, Inihtar. Choose to play, or not. Choose your meme too. No need to do both.

Bridge photo by J. Barkat. Used by permission.


Craver's Places I've Been

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Boost Your Memory

Pastel Lily Pads

Sleep-interrupted. That describes last night. Maybe all that waking and sleeping and thinking is what made me rise and shine feeling practical.

So I decided to do a little post on boosting one's memory. Memory of scripture, specifically. This is not one of my strong points. Particularly on the chapter and verse side.

"So and so and such and such...," I'll be saying (that's me pretending to quote a verse). "It's in, uh... Isaiah, I think. No maybe Jeremiah. Okay, I'll look it up and get back to you. Don't quote me, all right?"

In other words, most of my scripture memory sinks to the bottom of the pond, making it difficult to fish things out when I need them.

Anyway, here's my solution to this lack of numerical-memory issue. (Otherwise known as "scripture-memory-stuck-in-the-muck syndrome.)

Jesucristo es el mismo ayer, y hoy, y por los siglos. (Hebreos 13:8)

Yup, I have discovered that if I memorize a verse in another language (Spanish being my favorite), I can actually remember where things are in the bible.

Now, isn't that practical?

Pastels on Pond photo, by J Barkat. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

NEW LINKS TO Needles of Bronze:

Lynet's I Am Not Resigned

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Needles of Bronze

Red Leaves on Stone

Today, in my little woods, I lay back, tired. So many things on my mind.

The breeze was light, mischievous and persistent, disrobing the pine above me. I watched. Time stood still. A bronze shower of dead needles drifted down— parachutists come to blanket the ivy, bent on coming to earth in a glorious display of flight and landing.

I opened my notebook. The page fell to the wrong day. Or maybe it was the right day. I couldn't be sure. On that day, I had written about my mother. For it was her birthday. And I had said of her birth...

Who knew the pain she would face. Who knew that she would bear me, that I in turn would bear my sweet daughters. And would anyone, having known both the depth of sorrow and the height of joys, have chosen for it to go any other way?

The words of Job came to mind, and I wondered at them...

Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night that said 'A man-child is conceived'....Let the stars of its dawn be dark...because it did not shut the doors of my mother's womb, and hide trouble from my eyes. Job 3:3,7,10

Then I picked up a bouquet of needles. Bronze, beautiful in their dying and falling. I poked them into my cheek. They were still sharp. Sharp as the dark green needles I harvest in winter for tea. Their razor edges, their sharp points urged me towards the day, this day of both joy and pain.

Red Leaves on the Rock photo, by J Barkat. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Lynet's I Am Not Resigned

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Thursday, October 18, 2007


This morning I was reading Louis Masson's The Play of Light. It spoke to me, even in my deep lament over Charity’s new journey with cancer.

Says Masson, “In our life…perhaps the days just after a loss are the most difficult to bear. It is time to question whether chance or providence brings lives together. One of my father’s cherished beliefs was that special people would appear in our lives when we were in need.” (p.74)

I turned this in my mind. Who has been brought to whom? Have I (have we) appeared for Charity in her need, or has she appeared for us in ours?

As the morning drifted onward, and I daydreamed while doing my daily exercise, I continued to mull this over. These thoughts took me to the attic to retrieve Michael Card’s A Sacred Sorrow, where I read, "none of us need to be taught how to lament. What we need to hear is that we can lament."

To this end, Card shared a quote from Job… "I will not speak with restraint. I will give voice to the anguish of my soul. I will complain in the bitterness of my soul" (7:11). "I insist on arguing with God." (pp.53-54)

I realize that while Charity's journey is intensely her own, it is also ours. We will lament together. And in this way, perhaps providence has both brought us to her, and her to us. To worship through the language of lament, to give voice to anguish and sorrow.

Watercolor by Charity Singleton. Used by permission (again).

If you post something to share your lament and your love with Charity (a song, a cry, a poem, a prayer, a psalm, a piece of art, whatever), please let me know, so I can link to your post in what could truly be called link love...a way to join together in support and sorrow.


Charity's Hard Times
Ted's Pray for Charity
Carl's A Lament Most Proper
Christianne's I'm Sad for My Friend
Tina's The Blogging Community
Christine's For Charity
Craver's For a Friend
Jenn's Still Sovereign
A Musing Mom's Retreat
Llama Momma's Words for a Friend
Stacy's Too Hard for Words
Charity's Greeting Cards, Hot Flashes, and the Search for a New Metaphor. Transitions. Countdown to Chemo.
LL's A Prayer
Charity's Update from Chemo 1
LL's Charity for Charity
Craver's Keepin' On
Nancy's Indy
Charity's Practical matters. Radiating with a New Metaphor.
Carl's Take 10 For Charity
Eclexia's Radiating with the Glory of God
Charity's Good Days and Bad Days
LL's Charity Among the Thorns (updates, for prayer)
Nancy's prayer for Charity
Shlomo's A Borrowed Prayer for a Friend
LL's Twice Given
Charity's Series of Events. Things are Getting a Little Hairy. Getting the Treatment. Entering the Season of Expectation.
Nancy's For Bob and Charity
Charity's The Presumption of Heat Pumps
Erin's It's About Something More... Or Perhaps Something Less
Charity's A Good Day. A Head Full of Hair in Glory. Good News. Bottomed Out. Back to Normal. Common to Man.
L.L.'s Prelude to a Prayer
Charity's Ancestral Visits
L.L.'s Postlude to a Prayer
Charity's Another Round. Sneak Peak. Surviving as a Community Event.
L.L.'s new Charity for Charity
Charity's A New Normal. Pressing Forward. A Renewed Mind. Charity's One Year Ago Today.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Traffic: Who Needs It?


All over the blogosphere, well-meaning bloggers tell me how to increase my blog traffic. Sometimes I get sucked in. I spend two hours (when she promised it would be less than one) to add "Most Popular Posts" to my sidebar. Apparently, this "simple" exercise increased her traffic. But me? It simply ate two hours of my precious time.

Other times, I remember who I am. A writer first, a blogger second (or maybe tenth). I'm not about traffic; I'm about words... finding them, tackling them, molding them, sharing them. And when I remember who I am, I go read (again) a portion of V.H. Wright's The Soul Tells a Story.

I read things like this...

Embrace your personality. Study it, love it, exploit it to the fullest. Find the angles that are specifically yours, and work from them. There are stories only you can tell, because they are intrinsically tied to who you are and who you have been. Keep working on the flaws, the weaknesses, the neuroses. But do it with love. (p.176)

When I read such advice, I get this urgent sense that I must, one more time, go out to my Secret Place and study the pine, which is just now shedding puffs of bronze. I lie on my red plastic sled and pray, "Search me and know me..." I listen to the warble of birds I haven't heard since spring and realize that some things are only here at certain times, and I must be ready when they come.

Blog traffic. Who needs it? At some level, I suppose I do. But I also need to park myself in the little woods and listen to God's voice on the wind.

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Friday, October 12, 2007


So I've got some building projects to mention to you. One is at the The High Calling Blogs, where you can add your blog to a network that is poised to reach 25,000 readers, including those who frequent Christianity Today's Faith in the Workplace.

On another note, Every Square Inch is looking for a few good translators for a really exciting project that will provide free materials to needy Christians around the world.

Why not add your blocks to the pile? Come and build.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Blogworld: Community or Network?

Blogging provides community.

I wondered if my recent article, A New Kind of Body, implied that by its title. Some of the bloggers I interviewed suggested that blogging provides community. The thought sprang into our comments, in the last post discussion. I've said simlar things. "My blog community."

But, on reading John Gatto's Dumbing Us Down, I'm musing. Maybe the blogosphere cannot provide community. Maybe it can only serve as a network.

Now, John Gatto is writing about the educational system when he says the following things, but I see their application to blogging...

Networks...don't require the whole person, but only a narrow piece.... a network asks you to suppress all the parts of yourself except the network-interest part— a highly unnatural act though one you can get used to. (p.48)

The fragmentation caused by excessive networking creates diminished humanity, a sense that our lives are out of control...(p.48)

...when people in networks suffer, they suffer alone, unless they have a family or community to suffer with them....the "caring" in networks is in some important way feigned....And, as such, the intimate moments in networks lack the sustaining value of their counterparts in community. (p.50)

People interact on thousands of invisible pathways in a community, and the emotional payoff is correspondingly rich and complex. But networks can only manage a cartoon simulation of community and provide a very limited payoff. (p.52)

Networks make people lonely....With a network, what you get at the beginning is all you ever get. Networks don't get any better or worse... (p.53)

An important difference between communities and [networks] is that communities have natural limits; they STOP growing or they die. Unlike true communities, pseudo communities and other comprehensive networks like schools expand indefinitely, just as long as they can get away with it. (pp. 62-63)

Truth itself is another important dividing line between communities and networks. If you don't keep your word in a community, everyone finds out... (p. 64)

Gatto admits that he belongs to some networks. But only ones he considers "completely safe" because they "reject their communal facade, acknowledge their limits, and concentrate solely on helping [him] do a specific and necessary task." (p.52)

On the other hand, he rejects "a vampire network like a school, which tears off huge chunks of time and energy needed for building community and family— and always asks for MORE..." (p.52)

So. I turn it over to you: my blogging community (my blogging network?). What's the real deal? What kind of ties do we have here? And, ultimately, does it matter?

Tied to the Shore photo, by Andrew Denny of Granny Buttons


Llama Momma's Community

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blogging is a Waste of Time

Time Passes

Over a year ago, I heard Andy Crouch's public declaration: "Blogging is a waste of time."

His declaration coincided neatly with a bit of advice I received from a Simon & Schuster Director of Marketing and Promotion. "You should start a blog," she said. "We ask all our authors to start blogs."

The S&S person's enthusiasm tempted me to begin blogging post-haste. But I admit it was the nonconformist in me that provided hidden energy. I wanted to confront Andy's bald-faced statement. I wanted to become a blog scientist of sorts, to test out the veracity of his assertion.

As a 16-month-old blogger, I've decided that Andy is both right and wrong— depending on one's purpose for blogging, one's expectations, and one's boundaries. (You can read more on this in my recent article for Today's Christian. It includes a Personal Story, which is simply my answers to Ed Gilbreath's invisible interview questions.)

When considering Andy's assertion, I like to remember that blogging is a tool, just like any other tool. As such, it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Blogging is a waste of time for some people. But for others it's a chance to connect, to test and refine one's thoughts, or to simply unwind.

The real question is not whether blogging in general is a waste of time, but whether it's the best use of your time today and tomorrow.

Time Passes photo, by L.L. Barkat.


L.L. Barkat's Today's Christian article A New Kind of Body

Ted Olsen's Christianity Today article The Death of Blogs

Mark Goodyear's The Death of Blogs? Let's Not be Melodramatic

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