A Love For Words

I have long realized that I have always had a love for words.  I really don’t remember much about this when I was younger, but I do know that in my high school years, I started writing poetry.  These poems were just scribbles at that time, and I really did not write a lot of poetry until after high school. I fondly remember my twelfth grade English teacher, Mr. Edmonds.  He was a little bit unorthodoxed and taught his class with a certain flair that dared us to be creative in our writing and take chances for a good grade.  The room was set up in a horseshoe shape, so we all had to face each other, and his desk was in front of the chalkboard at the open end of the horseshoe. He stood and taught more than he sat, and walked around the room when he was not using the chalkboard.  Often, when he did sit at his desk, he would put his feet up on the desk. 

We had to do speeches in his class, and most people hated giving speeches, but I never minded that part.  The lectern was always set on a desk to the right of his desk, facing the room.  The visibility was obvious, and you could see the reaction of every person in the room when we gave speeches.  The subject matter ranged from book report, to politics to comical.  I was never very good at the comical stuff.  One speech I gave stands out in my mind more than any other.  He assigned us to give a five-minute speech on any topic we wanted to, but we could not use any notes.  This was the last speech of the year, and he felt we should be able to pull this off.  I didn’t have to think too long on what topic I would choose.  When it was my turn, I approached the lectern with great confidence.  I started my speech, then sputtered several times, repeated myself often, got things out of place, and had a terrible ending. Not too much to my surprise, but maybe to your, I got an A!  He loved the speech and so did the entire class.  I knew it was by far the best speech I had given all year, and it met the criteria of not using notes at all.  By now you may be wondering what the title of that speech was.  The title was “How Dumb It Is to Give a Speech Using No Notes.”  Mission accomplished – I gave a horrible speech!

Another assignment was written poetry.  I had been dabbling a little by this time, but had never had an assignment to write one.  My poem turned out to be a long, winding poem that went through the seasons of the year in one-line statements.  In fact, it was three pages long!  Since that was over 50 years ago, I do not still have the poem, but I do remember the wording was very good and it was a free verse poem.  There was no rhyming at all.  I received an A on that one also.

In the latter part of my senior year, I started keeping notebooks of poetry.  All kinds of poems.  Some rhymed, some were free verse.  Some were very short, others quite long.  Some were more like reflections on life, others more like riddles, and others made no sense at all.  I later typed these all out and made a few copies, but I did not retain them.  I really wish I had.  A few I do remember, which are just silly, go like this:

                     Whatever is, isn’ t whenever whatever isn’t is.


                     What is the difference between a duck? One of its legs are the same!

 I warned you they were silly, and strange.  I started doing my fair share of drugs after my senior year so you can see why I had some strange poetry.  There was another poem that was written sharing my experience at a dance hall we frequented in Leicester, Mass.  This one was long and rhyming, and was written more like a song than a poem.  It was called “The Dilapidated Dance of the Drunken Drummer.”  I continued to write poetry for several years after high school.

I also did some journaling at this time.  I would carry little 3×5 pocket notebooks that opened on the ide with me all the time.  As I went through my days and weeks, I would write thoughts down that came to, whether sober or stoned, and save those notebooks.  I would also have my friends write in them, or people I just met along the way.  I was a traveler, and loved to just go on long drives around New England with no real destination in mind.  Often in those days, people would be hitchhiking and you were not worried about picking them up.  When I picked one up, I would have them write in my book.  I think I ended up with a dozen or so of these little 100-page books when I was through with them.  But, again, I did not keep them and really wish I had.  As it turned out, these were really the only journals I kept in my entire life.

In 1978, I met Janeen. When I made the decision to move to Iowa and follow God more closely, I started writing more poems.  There was a flurry of activity during those two months before I moved to Iowa, and also many letters written back and forth to her.  Letteer writing was something that I became pretty adept at because my good childhood friend, Jason, and I had been sharing letters back and forth from Iowa for the past two years.  I still have a large majority of the letters written during those two years with Jason and two months with Janeen.

After moving to Iowa, my writing stopped for a long time.  I was busy with family and kids and building a career.  It was during these years that speaking became more of an outlet for my loves of words.  The one way I did write was sermon notes and note in my Bible.  Prolific notes.  Underlines, highlights, different colors, all over the page and in the margins.  I began to do a little preaching in the early years, sharing at fellowship meetings and at my own church on occasion.  I also started to do more singing and became a worship leader.  I loved the songs of faith and studied the words carefully.

When we I started to work for PSI, I joined a group called Toastmasters.  I had been invited several times, but could never attend because my previous job had a semi come in every Friday morning when the meetings were held.  If you are not familiar with Toastmaster, I will take a moment to fill you in.  Toastmasters is an organization that helps individuals build leadership and communication skills.  There are speeches given designed around a specific goal you want to achieve, whether that be sales, motivational, leadership, or public speaking in general.  There is also a session called Table Topics are little questions or ideas that are given to you at the meeting, and you have to give a 1–2-minute mini speech on that subject. While these things are going on, there’s someone timing the meeting, another is leading the meeting, and people are listening for good and bad grammar.  Needless to say, the meeting are full, and the rolls are rotated from meeting to meeting.

I became hooked on Toastmasters.  My favorite portion was the Table Topics because I was pretty quick witted and could have a lot of fun with the topics. Over the next 20 years, I would be involved in 10 different clubs around North central Iowa, two of which I was a founding member.  I competed in many competitions, held many leadership roles and made many very good friends.  I was in sales and I attribute my success in sales on my Toastmaster experience.  I became very adept with the spoken word during the years when I was not writing.

Janeen and I also got involved in a theater group called the Iowa River Players. Wed played roles in several plays together when the group first got started.. This was very time consuming, not only being at practice by learning the lines. It had been a long time since I had done any memorization, and I got some pretty big parts in those plays. We had so much fun doing these plays, and some day I may decide to become a part of the group again.

In 2010 the writing started again.  There will be a whole chapter devoted to that journey back, but let me just say that once I started writing poetry again, the flood gates opened up wide.  I wrote many, many worship choruses and Christian song, and am still writing today.  Sometimes tow or three a ay would come through my pen, or computer, or cell phone.  When I felt inspiration, I wrote.  I really never did much editing of anything after I wrote them and often recorded the songs on my phone as I wrote them.  This still goes on today, 13 years later.  To date, I have over 500 songs and worship choruses, and over 2,000 poems.  Many are on my web site and many more are still to be published.

In 2016, when I had cancer (again, another whole chapter), I began to build a blog based on Bible studies I was doing.  I started with Philippians, then to Galatians, the Psalms, Sermon on the Mount, the two letters to Timothy, Titus and Hebrews, which is sitting unfinished at this time.  Theses short blogs were written from the heart.  Each day I would take a portion of scripture and just share what I was seeing in those passages.  This is a phenomenal exercise for anyone to take.  It helped me to understand my faith a lot more, and gain knowledge into the heart of God. 

Also during this time of recovery from cancer, I ran across some old notes while tidying up our basement.  The notes were from a Sunday School lesson I had but together almost 30 years earlier.  I did a deep study on prayer and called it A.S.K – Ask, Seek, Knock.  At the time, I really thought it would make a good book, but I never had the time to put that together.  Now, while stuck at home recovering, I decided to research the basic principle of the book and put it out in pieces on my blog.  When it was finished, I had 45,000 words, and realized the book was right in front of me.  I got together with a publisher and ‘The ASK Principle” was published in 2017.

Our words are powerful.  We all have varying vocabulary and different ways of expressing ourselves. In my teen years and early twenties, I would use some type of swear word every sentence, it seemed. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, that type of language immediately left me.  Before I made that change, I was a pessimist who used words like darts to dig into peoples’ hearts.  But I had a Pastor who took me under his wing and had me read a book called “The Power of Positive Thinking.”  My perspective was permanently changed to one of optimism and pleasant words.  Ou could ask anyone and they would say that I am always happy. This is because I am always blessed by words – the words of scripture, the words of songs and the words of people I meet.

In the Bible, God created everything when He spoke.  He had people down through the ages record what He said and what He did.  He anointed people to write powerful words of praise.  There is nothing on this earth more powerful than words.  They can bring down government or build up a pauper.  They can uplift the downcast and bring down the proud.  They can restore order and bring chaos.  All of us use words to go through life.  I pray that your words will be those that minister grace to the hearer every time, because this is the heart of God.

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