In spite of having some crazy virus and madness with all four of my fountain pens, I finished the first draft of Psalm 119. More than some of the others, it’s really a first draft. Oddly enough, the first three stanzas are the worst ones because I didn’t really have my groove at that point. If you aren’t familiar, here is what the challenge was:
1. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem in which each 8 line stanza begins with the same letter of the alphabet.
2. All 22 letters of the Hebrew letter were used. One for each stanza
3. Each stanza includes one of the following 8 words (translated of course) for law: law, precept, testimony, commandments, judgement, decree, ways, promise
I took on that challenge with the following adaptations:
1. I used the English language, of course, meaning I used 26 letters instead of 22, making it even longer.
2. With a few exceptions, I chose to challenge myself to use alliteration (using the same sound for two or more words). That made it for fun for me, so instead of finding eight words that fit the psalm for each letter, I had to find sixteen or more. That didn’t work so well for z, and a few others are short of that goal.
3. Believe it or not, J was the hardest. I took a completely different approach. There are some VERY powerful biblical men whose names begin with J. I began each stanza with their names instead. I also had to forgo the alliteration.
3. No, I didn’t find even eight words that begin with x (I did find two though), so I did what any poet would do in that situation. Ex words sound like X, so I spelled them eX (eXample).
4. For W-Z I didn’t have a theme from the actual scripture, so I free-styled. I enjoyed writing those the most.
5. In terms of the synonyms for law, I chose not to use decree, precept and statute, and rarely used judgement and testimony. Decree, precept and statute are not words that are used commonly today. Judgement and testimony often have different meanings. I chose, instead, to use direction, plan, teaching, learn, obey (which was often used in psalm 119 translations-esp. Living Bible) and rules. Some stanzas contain none of those words. I was going with the flow. I may or may not add them later.
6. Because many of my readers have told me that they appreciate the fact that my writing is accessible (as in easily understood), I only permitted myself to use words I didn’t have to verify the meaning of. That meant less words to choose from. That being said, my vocabulary is still rather high as I have a master’s degree. I also opted for short words to keep the verses on one line. That won’t work for the electronic versions, but at least there will be no line overruns in the physical book.
Here’s my stanza for V. I share this one because I expected to be extremely difficult, but it was fun. You will notice that I didn’t use a synonym for law on each line. That may change. It might not.
Visit me. Be vigilant. Make my vision clear.
Verify that you hear me. Validate your plan.
Vocalizing praises with various verses as promised.
Violins, vibes, voices make vibrant music. Virtuosos in praise.
Vigilant, I am ready to volunteer. Venturing to vast vista and valley.
Valiant one, save us from vile men who don’t value your law.
Vitality comes from praising you and vowing to be obedient.
Very lost and on the verge of giving up, starving for your direction.
And here is J:
Jehovah, you who molded me, help me learn your laws.
Jews wrote down your words. Gentiles can study them too.
Jacob told us your judgements were fair.
Joseph flourished in your kindness and mercy.
Jonah learned of your mercy when he disobeyed your commands.
John was persecuted by the unjust who did not know your ways.
Jesus was The Word and proof of your promises.
Judas knew the shame of turning against your Word.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book! I started reading it when I was looking for something to share with my twelve-year-old niece. I continued reading it because my middle-aged inner child loved it. Vanessa Davis Griggs took me on a journey that reminded me of Alice in Wonderful or the Wizard of Oz. The characters were each very entertaining, but each one also taught Destiny a valuable lesson. It was very inspirational and a joy to read. I highly recommend this book.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. It picked up right where the first one left one, and left me wanting more at the end. Lily is so human and real. Her grandmother is charming and cute. I wish I could visit her myself. The twists and turns kept me moving through it quickly. It’s an easy, but engaging read. Although there are Christian themes, it is not preachy, something else I appreciate. I’m really looking forward to the next book.
So many believe seem to believe that all it takes to be a great writer is to write a lot.
This author sees it differently, and makes some great points:
1. You learn to write by learning how to write.
2. Creativity and craft go together.
3. Passion, precision and productivity make for writing success.
Read the article (linked above). It’s well worth your time.
Another review from my Story Cartel venture was posted by Shannon Lee Williams:
“This was an absolutely beautiful and amazing book of poetry related to Psalms 1-50 in the Bible. The author took each psalm and made it into a poem. I read through the book real quick, although I am going to go back and read it slower next time so I can absorb more of it.
I had many favorites and finally had to stop writing them down. A few are Psalm 5, He’s Working it Out; Psalm 6, Just When I Need You Most; Psalm 11, Faith During The Test and Psalm 13, When I Feel Forgotten. Like I said, there were so many I liked and that I could relate too. Sometimes I felt as if the author was writing the poem just for me.
This is a book of poetry that will bless you and is an absolute delight to read. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. I give this book 5*****
I downloaded this book from http://storycartel.com/ in exchange for my honest review.”
Goodreads has a new feature that I am exploring. Any Goodreads member can ask a question of any participating author. I just answered the standard questions. It will be fun to answer real questions from real people, so if you have time, post one for me.
In anticipation of the Fourth of July fireworks display this year, I’m refreshing my memory about the best ways to shoot fireworks. While there was nothing I didn’t already know in the articles I read, a refresher is never a bad idea.
The most important things are to:
1. Show up early, figure out the best angle, set your focus, ISO, shutter, and aperture while you can still see.
2. Use a tripod
3. Set your focus manually, preferably before the show begins.
4. Set your aperture between f8 and f16. I usually stick with f8 or f11.
5. Set your shutter on bulb. Hold it down while the firework is open, then release. A remote release is best so that your images are not ruined by your shaky hand.
6. It’s nice to include other things in the photo, like buildings or statues.Whether or not this is really a good idea depends on where you are shooting from.
7. Take tons of photos. It’s digital, so it will cost you nothing to take more than you think you need.
Here are a few useful links that might help you get your best fireworks photos:
Ah, the greatest challenge of them all. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem with a stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet (there are 22 letters in their alphabet), each stanza has eight verses. Each verse begins with the letter that begins that stanza (so eight verses for Aleph, eight verses for Beth, etc., ). Each verse contains one of the synonyms for the word instruction (law, statute, commandment, precept, testimony, word, judgment, way, and promise). I will likely not use precept as it is not a word that is commonly used in our time. Other than that, I intend to stick to the pattern as much as possible. I began trying to think of the words on my own, but by the letter D (where I am now), I knew I needed a dictionary on hand. I figure two stanzas a day will be plenty for my brain to manage. I tried an online dictionary for D, but the scrolling is killing my eyes, so it’s paper, pencil and books (which is mostly what I have used for this book anyway).
Here is a link to the chapter if you’d like to be read it for yourself. Follow the link if you want to read their commentary/explanation.
(I read commentary from Jewish and Catholics as well as Protestant Scholars, and get feedback from my friend the Muslim Imam as well). I love the different perspectives, and each has much to offer.
1Blessed those whose way is blameless,
who walk by the law of the LORD.a
2Blessed those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with all their heart.b
3They do no wrong;
they walk in his ways.
4You have given them the command
to observe your precepts with care.
5May my ways be firm
in the observance of your statutes!
6Then I will not be ashamed
to ponder all your commandments.
7I will praise you with sincere heart
as I study your righteous judgments.
8I will observe your statutes;
do not leave me all alone.
9How can the young keep his way without fault?
Only by observing your words.
10With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
11In my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
12Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.c
13With my lips I recite
all the judgments you have spoken.
14I find joy in the way of your testimonies
more than in all riches.
15I will ponder your precepts
and consider your paths.
16In your statutes I take delight;
I will never forget your word.
17Be kind to your servant that I may live,
that I may keep your word.
18Open my eyes to see clearly
the wonders of your law.
do not hide your commandments from me.
20At all times my soul is stirred
with longing for your judgments.
21With a curse you rebuke the proud
who stray from your commandments.
22Free me from disgrace and contempt,
for I keep your testimonies.
23Though princes meet and talk against me,
your servant meditates on your statutes.
24Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.
25My soul clings to the dust;e
give me life in accord with your word.
26I disclosed my ways and you answered me;
teach me your statutes.
27Make me understand the way of your precepts;
I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
28My soul is depressed;
lift me up acccording to your word.
29Lead me from the way of deceit;
favor me with your law.
30The way of loyalty I have chosen;
I have kept your judgments.
31I cling to your testimonies, LORD;
do not let me come to shame.
32I will run the way of your commandments,
for you will broaden my heart.
33LORD, teach me the way of your statutes;
I shall keep them with care.f
34Give me understanding to keep your law,
to observe it with all my heart.
35Lead me in the path of your commandments,g
for that is my delight.
36Direct my heart toward your testimonies
and away from gain.
37Avert my eyes from what is worthless;
by your way give me life.
38For your servant, fulfill your promise
made to those who fear you.
39Turn away from me the taunts I dread,
for your judgments are good.
40See how I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life.
41Let your mercy come to me, LORD,
salvation in accord with your promise.
42Let me answer my taunters with a word,
for I trust in your word.
43Do not take the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your judgments is my hope.
44I will keep your law always,
for all time and forever.
45I will walk freely in an open space
because I cherish your precepts.
46I will speak openly of your testimonies
without fear even before kings.
47I delight in your commandments,
which I dearly love.
48*I lift up my hands to your commandments;
I study your statutes, which I love.
49Remember your word to your servant
by which you give me hope.
50This is my comfort in affliction,
your promise that gives me life.
51Though the arrogant utterly scorn me,
I do not turn from your law.
52When I recite your judgments of old
I am comforted, LORD.
53Rage seizes me because of the wicked;
they forsake your law.
54Your statutes become my songs
wherever I make my home.
55Even at night I remember your name
in observance of your law, LORD.
56This is my good fortune,
for I have kept your precepts.
57My portion is the LORD;
I promise to observe your words.
58I entreat you with all my heart:
have mercy on me in accord with your promise.
59I have examined my ways
and turned my steps to your testimonies.
60I am prompt, I do not hesitate
in observing your commandments.
61Though the snares of the wicked surround me,
your law I do not forget.
62At midnight I rise to praise you
because of your righteous judgments.
63I am the friend of all who fear you,
of all who observe your precepts.
64The earth, LORD, is filled with your mercy;h
teach me your statutes.
65You have treated your servant well,
according to your word, O LORD.
66Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commandments I trust.
67Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I hold to your promise.
68You are good and do what is good;
teach me your statutes.
69The arrogant smear me with lies,
but I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70Their hearts are gross and fat;i
as for me, your law is my delight.
71It was good for me to be afflicted,
in order to learn your statutes.
72The law of your mouth is more precious to me
than heaps of silver and gold.
73Your hands made me and fashioned me;
give me understanding to learn your commandments.
74Those who fear you rejoice to see me,
because I hope in your word.
75I know, LORD, that your judgments are righteous;
though you afflict me, you are faithful.
76May your mercy comfort me
in accord with your promise to your servant.
77Show me compassion that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
78Shame the proud for leading me astray with falsehood,
that I may study your testimonies.
79Let those who fear you turn to me,
those who acknowledge your testimonies.
80May I be wholehearted toward your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame.
81My soul longs for your salvation;
I put my hope in your word.j
82My eyes long to see your promise.k
When will you comfort me?
83I am like a wineskin shriveled by smoke,l
but I have not forgotten your statutes.
84How long can your servant survive?
When will your judgment doom my foes?
85The arrogant have dug pits for me;
defying your law.
86All your commandments are steadfast.
Help me! I am pursued without cause.
87They have almost put an end to me on earth,
but I do not forsake your precepts.
88In your mercy give me life,
to observe the testimonies of your mouth.
it is firm as the heavens.
90Through all generations your truth endures;
fixed to stand firm like the earth.
91By your judgments they stand firm to this day,
for all things are your servants.
92Had your law not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93I will never forget your precepts;
through them you give me life.
94I am yours; save me,
for I cherish your precepts.
95The wicked hope to destroy me,
but I seek to understand your testimonies.
96I have seen the limits of all perfection,
but your commandment is without bounds.
97How I love your law, Lord!*
I study it all day long.
98Your commandment makes me wiser than my foes,
as it is forever with me.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
because I ponder your testimonies.
100I have more understanding than my elders,
because I keep your precepts.n
101I keep my steps from every evil path,
that I may observe your word.
102From your judgments I do not turn,
for you have instructed me.
103How sweet to my tongue is your promise,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!o
104Through your precepts I gain understanding;
therefore I hate all false ways.
105Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light for my path.p
106I make a solemn vow
to observe your righteous judgments.
107I am very much afflicted, LORD;
give me life in accord with your word.
108Accept my freely offered praise;q
LORD, teach me your judgments.
109My life is always at risk,
but I do not forget your law.
110The wicked have set snares for me,
but from your precepts I do not stray.
111Your testimonies are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
112My heart is set on fulfilling your statutes;
they are my reward forever.
113I hate every hypocrite;
your law I love.
114You are my refuge and shield;
in your word I hope.
115Depart from me, you wicked,r
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116Sustain me by your promise that I may live;
do not disappoint me in my hope.
117Strengthen me that I may be safe,
ever to contemplate your statutes.
118You reject all who stray from your statutes,
for vain is their deceit.
119Like dross you regard all the wicked on earth;
therefore I love your testimonies.
120My flesh shudders with dread of you;
I fear your judgments.
121I have fulfilled your righteous judgment;
do not abandon me to my oppressors.
122Guarantee your servant’s welfare;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123My eyes long to see your salvation
and the promise of your righteousness.
124Act with mercy toward your servant;
teach me your statutes.
125I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may know your testimonies.
126It is time for the LORD to act;
they have disobeyed your law.
127Truly I love your commandments
more than gold, more than the finest gold.
128Thus, I follow all your precepts;
every wrong way I hate.
129Wonderful are your testimonies;
therefore I keep them.
130The revelation of your words sheds light,
gives understanding to the simple.
131I sigh with open mouth,
yearning for your commandments.
132Turn to me and be gracious,s
according to your judgment for those who love your name.
133Steady my feet in accord with your promise;
do not let iniquity lead me.
134Free me from human oppression,
that I may observe your precepts.
135Let your face shine upon your servant;
teach me your statutes.
136My eyes shed streams of tears
because your law is not observed.
137You are righteous, LORD,
and just are your judgments.t
138You have given your testimonies in righteousness
and in surpassing faithfulness.
139I am consumed with rage,
because my foes forget your words.
140Your servant loves your promise;
it has been proved by fire.
141Though belittled and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
142Your justice is forever right,
your law true.
143Though distress and anguish come upon me,
your commandments are my delight.
144Your testimonies are forever righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.
145I call with all my heart, O LORD;
answer me that I may keep your statutes.
146I call to you to save me
that I may observe your testimonies.
147I rise before dawn and cry out;
I put my hope in your words.
148My eyes greet the night watches
as I meditate on your promise.u
149Hear my voice in your mercy, O LORD;
by your judgment give me life.
150Malicious persecutors draw near me;
they are far from your law.
151You are near, O LORD;
reliable are all your commandments.
152Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have established them forever.
153Look at my affliction and rescue me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
154Take up my cause and redeem me;v
for the sake of your promise give me life.
155Salvation is far from sinners
because they do not cherish your statutes.
156Your compassion is great, O LORD;
in accord with your judgments, give me life.
157Though my persecutors and foes are many,
I do not turn from your testimonies.
158I view the faithless with loathingw
because they do not heed your promise.
159See how I love your precepts, LORD;
in your mercy give me life.
160Your every word is enduring;
all your righteous judgments are forever.
161Princes persecute me without reason,
but my heart reveres only your word.
162I rejoice at your promise,
as one who has found rich spoil.
163Falsehood I hate and abhor;
your law I love.
164Seven times a day I praise you
because your judgments are righteous.
165Lovers of your law have much peace;x
for them there is no stumbling block.
166I look for your salvation, LORD,
and I fulfill your commandments.
167I observe your testimonies;
I love them very much.
168I observe your precepts and testimonies;
all my ways are before you.
169Let my cry come before you, LORD;y
in keeping with your word, give me understanding.
170Let my prayer come before you;
rescue me according to your promise.
171May my lips pour forth your praise,
because you teach me your statutes.
172May my tongue sing of your promise,
for all your commandments are righteous.
173Keep your hand ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174I long for your salvation, LORD;
your law is my delight.
175Let my soul live to praise you;
may your judgments give me help.
176I have wandered like a lost sheep;
seek out your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.z