Still the Anthem

“Things will get better” and “there is hope” may be true,
But sometimes these words are like sugar for a cavity too.
For, life is not gentle to hopes built on cliches and decorative sand,
And in a storm, some hopes have no legs with which to stand.

I am no stranger to seeing hopes battered and shattered,
And the remnants remaining blown far and scattered.
Some have disintegrated in slow and steady drifts,
While others have succumbed to sudden circumstantial shifts.

Either way, hope deferred makes the heart gravely sick,
And the progression of that disease can be scarily quick.
“Stay hopeful” is easy to say, but in the valley, it is hard to do.
Especially when it seems like you’re trapped rather than passing through.

Yet, in the desolate places, I have discovered I am not alone.
You are with me in the darkness and I am not on my own.
Your hands are skilled to make broken and cynical people whole,
And therefore, I can say that Your hope is still the anthem of my soul.

You are faithful and you will not put me to shame,
Nor will you quench this weary, smoldering flame.
Though the wind still rages and many days seem dark as night,
Your hope remains faithful, shining like a candle oh so bright.

This poem was inspired in part by Switchfoot’s song “Hope is the Anthem” as well as my own personal experiences, especially relating to the sudden death of my dad. I hope and pray it is an encouragement for you in your own valley.


I juggled so many glass balls, or at least so it seemed to me–
They all shimmered with such delicate beauty from what I could see.

With each careful toss though, I feared gravity’s eventual toll,
And how they’d be destroyed with no hope of being made whole.

Not only is shattered glass beyond best efforts to repair,
But the shards could hurt others without remorse or care.

So I kept juggling, though my arms were weary and sore,
Doing all I could to keep each ball from the hard, uncaring floor.

Yet though I juggled so many, there was one I long left on the shelf,
Afraid to touch it lest it falls or it breaks at the hands of my broken self.

It glimmered on the shelf for years, with beauty words cannot tell,
But though it was safe, it was so far from well.

What good is its beauty if it stayed tucked away?
It was not made to be hidden from the light of this day.

So, with fear and trembling, I finally reached out to embrace
And in doing so, the rest fell to the floor like they knew that was their place.

As they crashed to the ground, I discovered they are not made of glass at all!
But rather shining plastic that can withstand an occasional fumble and fall.

Still, this new one I now hold seemed much heavier, like a true treasure of glass
And oh, if I dropped it, what horrors would be sure to come to pass!

Yet its Giver assures me it is not like the ones I juggled with prideful dedication,
Nor it is just another ball to add to the ceaseless rotation.

To hold this gift is to be held in hands much more capable than mine,
Ones that do not juggle but rather hold everything in line.

And though my eyes see something delicate, like what I juggled before,
Somehow I know that even when I fail, this will not shatter on the floor.

Glimpses of Grace

When I trace the lines of the past’s confines I see a hundred threads of grace,
And each strand speaks of thousands more weaved together within Love’s embrace.

By grace, I’ve seen tears transformed into joys and lessons I now hold dear,
For when my dreams seemed far and dashed, His presence proved near.

By grace, the lives of those before me were woven into my story,
Leading me closer to Him for my good and for His glory.

By grace, He has used even the weaknesses I despise,
And led me to write these words from the strength He supplies.

When troubles come my way, the past reminds me that He is in control,
For His grace has already carried me through many dark nights of the soul.

I do not say these words to gloss over hurts of the past that still sting,
Nor do I say them to boast that I now understand everything.

Far from it – no – hindsight doesn’t give me 20/20 vision,
But it does give me a beautiful view of Love’s perfect work and provision.

There are still wounds in my heart and many things I do not understand,
But through these glimpses of grace, I trust what He has planned.

One day I will see more fully, though for today I see in part,
He is still creating, carefully weaving together His work of art.

Looking back, I know that His faithfulness was and will remain true.
Though trial and trouble may come, He will see me through.

A Kind of Love

Oh what kind of love the Father has lavished on the weary,
A kind of love that surpasses every earthly notion and theory.

A kind of love that lays down one’s life,
A kind of love that is unafraid to enter into our strife.

A kind of love that casts out fear,
A kind of love that beacons sinners come near.

A kind of love that permits a betrayer to eat,
A kind of love that washes the dirtiest of feet.

A kind of love that forgives seventy times seven times,
A kind of love that keeps no permanent record of our crimes.

A kind of love that runs to embrace a prodigal child,
A kind of love that desires we be reconciled.

A kind of love that welcomes the broken with nothing to offer,
A kind of love that can change even a hardened scoffer.

A kind of love so strong yet gentle, patient and true,
A kind of love that can make everything new.

A kind of love that chooses to stay,
A kind of love that is faithful even when we go astray.

A kind of love that called by name,
A kind of love that will never leave us the same.

Oh, I don’t understand this kind of love, so wild and free,
But thank God almighty, Love understands you and me.

How Many Times?

How many steps did I take today?
I do not know, I cannot say.
Yet He knew each one before a single one was done,
And though I planned, He established each one.

How many times was I caught up in the worldly fray?
I do not know, I cannot say.
Yet when all my cares have taken their toll,
His consolation cheers and restores my soul.

How many tears have I cried in dismay?
I do not know, I cannot say.
Yet as surely as He knows the number of hairs on my head,
He has seen every sorrow and the tears that I’ve shed.

How many times did I wander beyond the narrow way?
I do not know, I cannot say.
Yet in the wilderness I created, He never did forsake,
And He has led me back for His name’s sake.

How many circumstances have I still found Him my mainstay?
I may not know the number, but this I can say:
Through every unsure step, through every trip, every fall,
He has been faithful and with me through it all.

To Seek What He Speaks

Lord, some days it feels like you’re so far away,
And on those days, I am overcome with doubt and dismay.
Does Your perfect love really cast out fear?
Did I misunderstand the promise that You would stay near?

You said “I am with you” and I took You at Your word,
Even though many voices say those words are absurd.
I believe, Lord, but help my unbelief too!
It is so easy to look at the waves around instead of You.

Troubles without number surround me now and I cannot see,
I am weary and my heart faints and fails within me.
The darkness is closing in, but I know I cannot hide from Your sight,
So here I am again, calling for Your help tonight.

Even in my distress, I know where my help comes from,
Though I do not understand all the ways it can come.
My faith feels weak but by His mercy I still seek,
And so He draws near and in grace chooses to speak:

“I am with you in the valley, the mountain top, and the distance between,
In the joy, in the pain, and in the mundane routine.
I know you, I see you, and I will not leave,
You need only be still and still believe.

Even in the darkness, when everything is far from alright,
Do you see how the shadows prove that there is light?
So too, My love remains present and true,
Even when you struggle to keep it in view.

I am with you even in moments of deep doubt,
Standing on the water, reaching my hand out.
When you are weak, I will remain strong,
And when you cannot walk, I will carry you along.

Your fears may be fierce, but they do not get the final word,
My love will cast them out just like you have heard.
By My grace, dear one, you are reconciled,
And nothing can separate you now, oh weary child!

In these waters, I am with you so you can stand!
Even though you cannot now understand.
You are mine, and mine you’ll always be,
Seek me now, even when you cannot see.”


Have you been wandering? Do you feel you’ve lost your way?
Does the night seem to overcome the brightness of the day?
Are you afraid that you’re too far gone yet still sinking deeper?
Does your mind sometimes fantasize about meeting the grim reaper?

Take heart, oh weary prodigal soul, I know that place.
And I also know that you are not a hopeless case.
You may have wandered and squandered all on your own,
But you need not now starve in the desert alone.

I don’t know what you’ve done or what’s been done to you,
But I do know that none of those things disqualify you.
No brokenness is beyond His ability to restore,
And where sin abounds, grace still abounds more!

While we were enemies, Christ died so we could be reconciled,
And the Father is not ashamed to call a prodigal His child.
He is running with arms to rescue and embrace,
To bestow on you a celebration of amazing grace!

How do I know that these words are true?
Well, I’ve been the running prodigal more times than a few.
Yet, He has been faithful to me through all my years,
And He has called me back, delivering me from all my fears.

I speak these words today because of His grace alone,
And I do not speak them by any strength of my own.
God is faithful, steadfast, patient, generous, and true;
And His grace is for people like me and like you.

Grace Upon Grace

Grace will meet you in the most unexpected ways,
And shine ever bright on even the darkest days.

Creative hands bestow it to fragile jars of clay,
In abundance each and every single day.

Sometimes it will take the form of a tightly closed door,
And other times an open one you weren’t looking for.

Sometimes it will take the form of difficult words,
And other times in the gentle ones often preferred.

Sometimes it will take the form of a rainbow after a storm is done stirring,
And other times it will be a peace that enters in during.

It is sufficient, even on the days we feel so weak,
And shines brightest on the days that seem so bleak.

Each little sign of His grace is also accompanied by a multitude more,
For He knows what we need when we don’t see or ask Him for.

The love of the Lord never ceases, nor do His mercies ever end,
Grace upon grace, so generously supplied we cannot comprehend!

What is Home?

What is home, but a cover from the weather,
A place where people can gather safely together,
A place where a table is set with today’s daily bread,
A place to nightly lay one’s head?

Surely there is more to ‘home’ than these physical necessities,
For there are other places to find such basic amenities.

What is home, then, but a refuge to run to,
A place of security when all is askew,
A place with peace and comfort confined inside,
A place where loved ones are at one’s side?

Still, these words describe only an idealized view,
And no place here fits that definition all the way through.

What is home, but a place to belong,
A place where we don’t need to pretend we are strong,
A place one knows and is known as well,
A place where the heart can openly dwell?

We’re getting closer, but even with all these answers combined,
There is something more to “home” left undefined!

Perhaps, when we feel most at home then, we are experiencing a preview,
Of something more than any place we have ever been to.
And maybe what we desire in our dwellings here is a reflection in the mirror,
While all our striving is an attempt to make the image clearer.

What if ‘home’ is not something we build but something drawing near?
Now the definition is growing increasingly clear!

For, no matter how secure we feel in what we call our abode,
We are still just sojourners out on the narrow road.
‘Home’ cannot be confined to words, time, or space,
But so I’ve learned, only in the arms of our Creator’s embrace!

We are strangers here, living in a foreign land,
Building tents for our days that He long ago planned.

What is home, but all the ways described before,
And more than we have ever imagined or hoped for?
Oh, how I long for it, though I’ve never seen it on my own!
What is home, where is home, who is home, but God alone?

Into an Ocean of Grief

My dad passed away fairly suddenly on Valentine’s Day. I wrote these words a few days after, in a state of shock, haze, and grief. May this be a reminder of the fragility of life and of a hope that stands even when life is hard.

In the rapid falling of dominos in motion,
A whirlwind came and dropped me in the ocean.
Days drenched in hope quickly became days of despair,
With no sight of familiar shores anywhere.

His mortal shell could take no more of the domino toll,
For it was weary from all that cancer gave and stole.
Once so strong he quickly grew so weak,
And his spirit knew that the situation was bleak.

I’ll never forget those boney limbs and yellow skin,
Screaming of the multitude of cancer’s assaults within.
Nor will I forget eyes half-open yet seemingly unaware,
And arms that kept moving until our embrace found them there.

Twenty-seven years were not enough, no number ever would be,
But I didn’t expect to find myself so soon in this uncharted sea.
Normal will never return because he is not here,
Only days in and that truth is crystal clear.

Today the ocean feels so deep and vast,
Though I may see beauty too once time has passed.
For I know that the waters will someday turn tranquil,
When I look back on memories for which I am thankful.

Planes, trains, and grins that made me smile too,
And a special sense of humor that always shone through.
The smell of hazelnut coffee reminding me of my childhood,
And all the little things he did that made that time good.

Yet even in time, I know the waves will still sometimes churn,
For mourning has no timeline and tends to repeat and return.
Now and then, I will be tossed to and fro like I am today,
For that is grief’s cruel and callous way.

Yet whether now or then, I do not dwell in stormy seas alone,
For many others have been tossed into similar oceans of their own.
And even though the sea seems too deep to chart,
There is One who knows its every single part.

When the waves roar and I find myself flailing about,
He walks on water, reaching His hand out.
Though the Great High Priest and Lord of lords,
He doesn’t hide from the hurting, but instead moves towards.

I need not hide my tears or messy feelings away,
For they do not have the power to make Love sway.
Jesus Himself knows what it means to weep,
And He is present now as I swim in emotions deep.

He gives me relief in ways I would not have asked for,
Yet still it comes, in ways I cannot ignore.
He loves us both more than I can understand,
And in that hope, I now choose to stand.