Poetry

In Monet's Garden
Poetry

Beauty

Beauty is all around, yet I seek it more.

I seek to see beauty—beauty that is within and stored

not just laying lightly on surface.

Beauty that emanates from His creation.

Beauty that lasts. That is what I seek.

Beauty in love, beauty in pain.

Beauty in the found and beauty in the stain.

Beauty in the joy and even in the sorrow.

There in Christ is more than enough for today and tomorrow.

Open my eyes to see it, Lord

And better still, my heart to know it’s there

Let my fingers touch it, my mouth taste it, and my ears hear it.

Let my mind and eyes see it, then paint or write it.

So it lingers on.

And when my heart brims and starts to overflow,

let me give it out and let it go.

Beauty can be quick, short lived, but true.

Let not any of it be missed and slip through.

Sometimes camouflaged in ugly, it lay unseen.

Still beauty is there waiting to be gleaned.

Beauty once hung upon an ugly cross.

Pierced with pain and sorrow

Its wicked means for grace through loss.

A necklace hangs lightly with symbol on a chain,

not to adorn the grotesque, or to celebrate His pain.

But to remind me of that beauty and my salvation through it that as gained.

And there it was the first one of today.

A rock pressed hard into the sand.

shaped like a heart from ocean’s harsh play.

Another symbol, maybe, of my own heart—a stone shaped

and hardened by the wicked world’s hand.

Needing Holy Spirit cleansing, waterfalled and washed down to a thirsty land.

Place in me a heart of flesh

And not a heart of stone.

Let beauty of truth and love, be softened and shaped

by You alone.

Iris Carignan - Published author, award-winning artist, inspirational speaker, and poet.
Poetry

Send An Alleluia

by Iris Carignan

Eternal Light,
From up above,
Break through the darkness,
Of the world.
And shed your light,

Into my heart.
Shine it Lord,
On every part.

We are weary,
And our hearts are dry.
Send an alleluia,
and hear our cries.

Eternal Light
Shine on my path.
With your truth,
For I know twill last

Cut through the fog.
Lighten the load.
Send and alleluia.
Cleanse and mold,
My heart to yours Lord,
Oh, may it be,
I’ll sing an alleluia 
Only to thee.

May each morning’s sunlight,
Of every new day,
Carry love’s hope,
On every bright ray.

But should the joy,
Not show its face,
And evil hide your,
Love and grace,

I’ll sing an alleluia,
Lord, still unto thee.
I’ll sing an alleluia,
And let praises be.

six steps to painting a picture
Blog, Poetry

But For The Joy…

Spring is nearly here and Easter is just around the corner. It is my favorite time of year. As color blooms its way through the rain softened ground and emerges with new life, we can’t help but sense the hope that springs forth with it. As our eyes behold the beauty that has been hidden for months, we realize just how dull things have looked for a while. But do we think about the struggle each plant went through just to make it into the light again?

Recently, while on my usual morning walk, something caught my eye. A tiny palm tree was growing through the black asphalt of our street. The little seedling was only three inches high. As impressive as its fortitude was, the shadow that it cast was even more interesting because of its shape – a cross. The irony struck immediately with clear meaning. This pint-sized plant seemed to forecast a reminder from the past. It stood proudly proclaiming the former glory of its use on a day of celebration – Palm Sunday and the Triumphal entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem. Its baby leaves stretched towards the sunlight like the loving arms of our Lord and their shadow predicting the coming crucifixion. It almost seemed that it was doing its best to compensate for the turn-about of events that occurred shortly after. What had begun with a joyous celebration and laying of palm branches as a carpet for the coming king had quickly turned to cursing, condemnation and hanging on a tree.

Seeing the enduring strength of this baby plant triumph over the stubborn hardness of asphalt spoke to my soul. Its victory over struggle, beautifully modeled the pain, suffering and resistance Jesus experienced even prior to the cross. The fresh purity of this infant tree reminded me that Jesus didn’t have the most hospitable environment from the moment of His birth in a manger to his last days on earth.

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the prophet Isaiah foretold the messiah and his suffering. Isaiah 53 most amazingly prophesied the Messiah as one who “grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. …He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering….Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted… But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

The words of Isaiah prepare our hearts for all kinds of trials in life. They are God’s amazing testimony to the foreshadowed plan of redemption that He knew must occur. When we read all of Isaiah 53 alongside the Easter story, it helps our eyes focus and our ears tune to any and all signs that He has prepared for us as reminders of His love and sacrifice. It may even be a tiny palm tree.

In celebration of Easter many of us will don new spring clothes as if joining nature in its re-birth. We’ll sing praises to our Lord who demonstrated His holiness by rising from the grave. We can shout and sing for joy at this amazing miracle and its redemptive promise, but Hebrews 12:2 also reminds us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, …who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” Even Jesus needed to see beyond the immediate suffering and look to the joy that lay ahead.

If you find yourself going through a season of struggle, look to the victory that brings us hope and to the victor who brought it – Jesus.

 

THE GREATEST JOY By Iris Carignan

The greatest joy is to come alone,

To the Lord of Hosts,

Who removed the stone.

 

And the greatest peace can be found in prayer,

When you come to Him in Solitaire.

 

For He comes to those who abide in Him,

And He rolls the stone,

Away from sin!

 

Happy Easter to All!

I hope you will subscribe to my blog at the bottom of this post and also make a comment.

 

Blog, Poetry

Neglecting the Signs

Hebrews 13:2, Hebrews 12:12-13, Hebrews 13:16

How many times have we all found ourselves driving along a road or highway daydreaming and in an instant we lose sight of where we are or where we are going? We’ve all missed a sign or turn and took an unplanned route as a result of our inattention. Our own personal distractions, foggy spiritual focus as well as the storms of life can take us off our life path or cause us to miss out on blessings waiting along the way.

It was just such a day about 30 years ago, when my own languid response to an opportunity resulted in a missed blessing and years of regret. I was at a choir rehearsal that evening and the director realized that we needed more copies of the music we were learning. Our pianist, the pastor’s wife, and I, volunteered to go down to the church office to get the needed copies.

The sun was setting and a light rain had begun to fall as we entered the office that evening. Finished with our business and the light turned off, we stepped out into the garden path. Then,startling our exit, several strangers approached us. All of them were dressed in biblical-looking attire. One came closer and introduced himself as a fellow believer and “traveler.” He asked if the church might have a room where they could rest for the night and be sheltered from the rain. I started to respond positively but was quickly cut short by my companion. “We don’t have the authority for that,” she responded. Of course being the pastor’s wife she did indeed have the authority, but was obviously timid to allow strangers into church property.

It doesn’t take authority,” the young man said “It just takes heart!” The strangers walked away briskly and we stared at each other with pricked consciousness.

“Maybe we could let them sleep in the early childhood room where there’s a bathroom,” she revised.

Sure,” I said and immediately we set out to find them and give our hospitable good news. They couldn’t have been out of our sight for more than a few seconds, yet as we rounded the other side of the building in their direction, they were nowhere to be seen. They had simply vanished. There were no other structures nearby possibly hiding the conspicuously dressed group and no crowds of people to blend in with, yet we could not see them anywhere.

Looking at each other in wonder and dismay, words failed and expressions revealed our obvious regret and curiosity of the blessing we both missed that night. We had forgotten to entertain strangers and likely missed out on “entertaining angels.” Perhaps there is no correlation to this event, but it was only a few years later that the church closed its doors.

Can you imagine the regret the innkeepers had for turning away Mary and Joseph that serendipitous night? After learning later of the special birth they missed, it must have pierced their hearts with remorse. Some no doubt never put it together, or made excuses for their harshness and unsympathetic refusal of a room. We can only surmise that many may have realized their mistake and lived with long regrets for the blessing missed. Who knows, but perhaps some of the Inns may have even gone out of business consequently. Hebrews 13:2 shines a light on the importance of attentiveness and brotherly love along life’s highway. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

STAR OF WONDER

Star of wonder

Star of night

Lead us with thy splendor.

Guide us through the dead of night

And make our way much clearer.

Wish I may and wish I might

Find my way to thee.

Holy one of His delight

David’s prophesy.

Star of wonder,

Star of night,

Little lambs are bleating.

They can hear a shepherd’s voice

Tiny though it be-e.

Angels they have heard on high

And they wonder too,

Will you be a lucky star,

And make our wish come true?

By Iris Carignan 2009

Blog, Poetry

Purple to the Rescue

The virtuous woman as described in Proverbs 31 is commonly set forth as a standard for Christian women and has always been a favorite of mine. While I fall sorely behind meeting that standard in many ways-especially the part about rising before dawn, one characteristic is especially fitting for me- the love of the color purple. In verse 22 it says: “She makes tapestry for herself: her clothing is fine linen and purple.” Long before I became a woman, purple was my favorite color. In fact it actually came to my rescue, once, saving me from a bully.

For me the middle school years, (Junior high as we called it then) were the most tumultuous part of growing up. Dealing with the daunting new responsibility of several classes, remembering locker combinations and battling emerging hormones, was a walk in the park next to the stress of peer pressures. To say I was a scrawny little kid was putting it kindly. Those of us who hadn’t yet caught up with the leaders of the pack-the already well endowed, beautiful and popular girls-faced a double dose of intimidation. Just about the time I felt secure in finding a best friend, another friend stepped in with divisive betrayal. They both turned against me with cutting and hurtful words that pierced deep into my spirit. So when a bully began taunting me too, it was almost more than I could handle.

Bullies didn’t just appear in the 21st century, they’ve been around a long time and mine was the girl who happened to have a locker next to mine in P.E. One of the other dreaded experiences of middle school was the embarrassing predicament of changing clothes and showering next to strangers. These revealing close quarters apparently ignited a rage of hatred towards me that was without merit. Every opportunity she had, this bully would taunt and intimidate me. One such day caught me “up-to-here” with her ugly threats.

I got in her face and told her if she didn’t stop bothering me, she would be sorry because, “I know karate.” Of course it was an unfounded threat, a bluff. About all I knew regarding karate was what I’d seen in movies and television. She immediately called my bluff.

“Oh yeah! What color belt do you have?” she challenged me.

My mind scrambled furiously for the right response to the punch she threw my way.

(Apparently there were multiple karate belt colors-who knew back then?)

“Purple,” I shouted back confidently, (while praying that belt color even existed in karate).

Turning from raging red to ghostly pale, the bully’s face revealed my well-placed blow had hit square on. She shrank back in retreat. Apparently, I’d chosen just the right color level-not too high-not too low to be a convincing foe.

The bully girl in the locker room never bothered me again. So, that was the day the color purple came to my rescue. Now, years later as a grown woman, I see in Proverbs 31:24 that the virtuous woman also “makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” In verse 25 it goes on to say, “strength and honor are her clothing.” A sash is a kind of belt typically worn in Biblical days. How ironic I thought, as this scripture spoke to me today in new ways. I also wonder if the belts she provided for the merchants gave them a sense of confidence and strength as they faced the challenges of the marketplace while selling their wares. Some of them may have been purple too.

Ephesians 6:11-14 affirms that the underlying true belt that girds us against the enemy is God’s word. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil….Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,…” As you go out into the world today, be sure you have put a belt of truth around your waist, because you never know what kind of devilish bully may challenge you.

RAIN UPON IRON

Like rain upon iron,

Rejection produces rust.

And injustice withers the spirit,

If in you, we do not trust.

Temper me like steel, oh Lord.

Let my soul become wise.

Bring your mercies to my door,

And justice to my eyes.

Open the visions of my soul,

To the working of your hand.

Let it see your perfect will,

And only on you, stand.

Rejection once rained on you,

And still it does today.

Injustice tried to conquer too,

But redemption had its way.

You were despised and betrayed.

Great sorrow yet embraced.

And so much more,

You suffered for,

To bring us all your grace.

Iris Carignan 2015

 

Blog, Poetry

Freedom’s Never Free

There is a land

Of which I’m certain

Is a land of the brave and free.

It was built by our great fathers,

Built for you and built for me.

It wasn’t born without a trial,

Nor did it happen easily.

The men who died

To bring us freedom

Gave their lives for you and me.

So when you stand and see old glory,

Or when you sit by the shining sea,

Just think of all that came before it

And that freedom ‘s never free.

 

To look ahead to our great future

This land I love

Must see the past,

For it was there

Our nations’ history

The great foundation’s built to last.

It is a land of strength and power

With its’ roots of faith and peace.

It is a land of great resources

A land of opportunity.

So when you stand and see Old Glory

Or when you sit by the shining sea,

Just think of all that went before it,

And that freedom ‘s never free.

Words and Music by Iris Carignan 7/4/ 2014