Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
I am excited to announce that my latest chapbook of poetry is now available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback formats. These poems have gone through many edits, and I’ve invested lots of time in them. They are centered around my love for nature and also the wisdom we can learn from it. While it isn’t nearly as spiritually centered as my first book, “A Voice in the Wilderness”, there still are themes of God within it – but very general themes; I wanted this to be a collection that almost everyone could enjoy.
While not necessarily a “full” collection, I feel my poems still have more “meat” than a lot of the popular “full” collections of poetry today, consisting of only one or two lines per page. My stanzas could certainly be read that way, but most of my poems are about a page, and a few that are more than that. I only say this to assure readers that the chapbook still has quite a bit of content.
Summary- “Justin Farley’s second chapbook is a collection of poems about nature. Starting in his early childhood, the woods have been a teacher and source of beauty, exploration, adventure, and love. “Nature’s Bounty” is the accumulation of a lifetime of wisdom gained from exploring nature and observing the lessons nature teaches us. This nature poetry collection will reach the hearts and minds of hikers, bird watchers, campers, naturalists, and all those who hold the rivers, lakes, mountains, animals and forests in high esteem. Contains poems on subjects such as birds, animals, the spiritual aspect of nature, gardening, flowers, trees, hiking in the woods, etc.”
I am happy and grateful to share this with you and hope you enjoy it 🙂
The weight of the world
is a feather in the hand of its maker.
It does not burden, break, or bury
the one who reigns outside of Time and Space's domain.
Our behemoths are merely single barbs
attached to that weightless shaft
that flutters like the forest's souvenirs
given to a child, fallen from the wings of a jay.
In his hand our juggernauts
are not threats but specimen.
His palm is large enough
to hold worry ad infinitum.
Push the crushing fear
off your chest and rest,
knowing that it's but a harmless feather
fluttering in your father's hand.
Have you ever wondered whether you are too dependent on your partner? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines codependency as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)” or “broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another”. Of course it is bad to be codependent based upon the first definition; the broad definition is where I believe many people run into trouble.
Codependent is a misleading and often misinterpreted word. I have seen numerous posts on social media basically referring to any relationship where you’re “co-depend” on one another as toxic…that we should have everything in our life together and figured out before we even try looking for someone to date. This thinking is not only a misinterpretation of the word, it is toxic itself.
If you’re waiting until you have everything together and not going to bring any baggage or negative energy into a relationship before you look for one, you’re either going to die single or you’re a liar. No one is perfect. Everyone brings negativity into relationships. Of course if that’s all you’re bringing, that’s a problem. But my fear is that many people buy this lie that we should have everything figured out before we jump or that our partner shouldn’t have any issues.
This attitude breeds a toxic idea that will consume any relationship. If your expectation is that you or your partner should have all their shit together, shame and judgement are going to run rampant in your relationship. Worse, it eliminates the possibility of real love and turns marriage into a conditional contract, ripped up anytime either person makes any major mistakes (which is undoubtedly going to happen because both people are flawed humans).
If you don’t depend on anyone for anything, you are the one with the problem. Humans are built to rely on one another in community. We do need each other. Any healthy relationship is co-dependent in terms of each person relying on the other for some of their needs. A healthy marriage is one of give and take, sharing responsibilities, sacrificing, and putting their needs in front of your own (as long as these are healthy needs).
Being codependent in this way is not weak…it is love. This toxic view that you’re weak or broken or disqualified from a relationship because you are going to “need” or rely on something from that other person is prideful, arrogant, and selfish to its core. Unfortunately, this self-reliance on steroids is killing people’s chance for happiness and love.
Every time I read The Parable of the Prodigal Son I am struck by the behavior of the oldest son. Ever notice how we never really get a resolution at the end of the story? The story doesn’t close with the oldest son saying, “You’re right, Dad. I’m so glad my brother is home – let’s go celebrate.”
My gut feeling is that the oldest son storms away from both his dad and brother, allowing his pride and anger to get the best of him until his resentment grows and turns into hate. It becomes pretty clear by the end of the story that he always did what was right with the expectation of getting favor from his father and an elevated status in the household. As soon as that assumption is questioned by the father receiving the younger son with open arms, the older brother’s real motive comes out.
We often read the story through the lens of the younger brother, relieved that God is a father of love and mercy, ready to receive us back with open arms. What we fail to see, though, is that more times than not we are the older brother – judging and prideful. The younger brother did not just sin against the father; he sinned in some of the worst ways possible. He spat on his father’s reputation so he could have money to have sex with whores and live in squalor.
Most of us in the church have never gone this low. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re not included in the lowest wretches of society either. And the pride of every Christian loves God’s forgiveness in his or her own life but scorns it in elsewhere. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you invited a recovering drug addict, abuser, murderer, rapist over for dinner? Which one of us would have no problem introducing a prostitute to all of our church friends?
You see, God’s love isn’t fair. It’s radical. So radical that it bore nails for people that torture children, rape the innocent, kill for fun. I’m being a bit extreme to make a point. But seriously. Those people have just as much right to the love of God as the most ardent churchgoer. All it takes is for them to recognize their sin and come home like the youngest son did. Ugh. That’s not the kind of grace we like. We like our moments of anger, our quick unclean thoughts, our occasional gossip to be forgiven….But murderers? Rapists? Sadists? Those people need to pay.
And there lies the pride that quickly puts us all in the place of the older brother. Are you happy to see the worst of society in your church? Do you run to embrace them and welcome them home? Or do you wonder what the hell the lady with the short skirt and tits practically out is doing in church? Are you appalled by the stench of liquor on the man sitting next to you?
I relate with the older brother. I hate the fact that God reserves the same place at his table for people who have drifted in sin all their life as for the saintly. I deserve a gold star if I wait in line the whole time and not just cut to the front. That man who killed his wife sure as hell better not get the same reward as me.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a relief but mostly, it’s a tragedy. We all like to think we’re the broken son who gets embraced by his loving father. We can even see God running towards us – smile on his face and his arms opened wide. Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s a fantasy. We’re the pissed off brother in the corner fuming, asking, “What about me?” We’re the one questioning the fairness of love that sees everyone equally. We’re the one saying, “How dare you not give me my due for all the time, energy, and devotion I gave you.”
No single sin disqualifies you from the love of God, but your pride disqualifies God from your love. It is the deadliest and most serious of all sins. Yes, even worse than murder. Maybe not in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of God. It is easy for a murderer to know he is wicked. Blood is stained upon his hands. If he wants redemption, he comes broken. “My God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But for the “good” pride causes a major blind spot, we come to God with chin up, head held high saying, “I’m not THAT bad.” In order to receive the grace and love of God, you must first know you need it. Pride is deadly because it convinces us that we have nothing to be sorry for, that there’s nothing that we need from God. And paradoxically, the son who never walked away is still the farthest from the father.
On my daily walk this morning, I was struck by the stirring of the Spirit as I was meditating on God’s will. I guess I’ve always imagined my contribution to society would be grand. Whether that has been my inflated ego or God speaking all these years, I don’t know.
But regardless, I often find myself irritated by the mundane aspects of life- changing diapers, cleaning the house, helping with homework, watching kids, etc. because it feels like it is keeping me from realizing greatness. How am I going to be able to create a grand piece of art that changes the world if I rarely ever have time to write?
But what if the grand is keeping me from realizing the great? What if God’s will is simply for me to be a great husband, a great father, a great teacher and preacher to my children? Maybe the grand artist is my will and not God’s.
We can never know with absolute certainty what God’s will is; we can only do our best to keep an open place in our mind and heart for the Spirit to speak to us, constantly revising where we’re headed based upon His promptings.
My job is not to elevate myself. The world will one day forget that I existed regardless if I become “famous” or not. But hopefully the work that I do contributes to preserving the name of Jesus Christ so that thousands of years from now people will still know His name. There is no shame living a life that the world never notices if it is well lived, measured not by the world’s standards but by God’s. Better to live by the Word of God hidden from the world than to be elevated by the world without it. Teresa of Avila provides a lovely mantra to live by: “whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
This philosophy allows us to enjoy life and live fully, content in the present moment. It is folly to strive to make something out of YOUR life. Rather, live in a way that makes something out of His life. A life that brings even a single soul closer to God is a life of greatness. Don’t be blinded by the grand. Excel in the everyday, ordinary tasks, and the grand will occur if God wills it.
The more seriously you take yourself, the less seriously you take God. For when you become master, you bind yourself in chains of action, always striving harder and harder, less and less sure you’ve done enough to create a lasting legacy.
But the more seriously you take God, the less pressure you have upon yourself. Laugh at yourself and the ridiculous, pompous thoughts of the human ego. God didn’t create you to glorify yourself; God created you to glorify Himself.
So love life and the people in it. Love the fact that God is going to help come to fruition His will whether you’re completely on board and do everything right or not. God doesn’t need us to glorify Him but knows the only time our souls are full and content is when we live in the Spirit and join in the centripetal, ever-revolving, relational love of God.
We are infinitely cherished and special beings while simultaneously being utterly unnecessary in the grand plan of God. This allows us to live with purpose yet pile all the weight of the world onto the Cross, onto the only one this world truly needs.
My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
The kindle version of my chapbook, “A Voice in the Wilderness”, is currently free on Amazon through Sunday. I would truly appreciate you leaving a rating and/or review 😊 You can find it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JHC5Z8N/⠀
Clementine nectar drips down the chin.
Summertime angels swim through the air again.
The crack of a bat under the lights.
Kaleidoscope fire explodes in the night.
Root beer floats, cotton candy dreams.
Capture the flag on neighborhood teams.
July heat brings sprinklers and hoses to cool;
lounging on rafts, diving in pools.
Wading in creek beds catching crawdads.
Camping trips beneath the stars, just you and Dad.
Carnival laughter, Ferris wheel turns.
Days on the lake, nights nursing sunburns.
Tan bodies gleaming in the moonlight,
entangled in adolescences' sacrificial rite.
All good things must come to a close.
First, comes summer jobs; then, parental woes.
Words are a Holy Fire
Words surged from the pen
staining, soaking everything like spilled paint.
Wood pulp thirsty in a state
of mad-eyed hunger.
Paper ravenous for a glorious taste,
elated to gobble up and digest
the things that time can't erase.
Don't you know?
Words are a Holy Fire,
spread from the Word himself.
Infused with the power of desire
to transform, to turn over the world upon itself.
To burn away the dead timber,
embers eager to make way for the new.
On its charred remains,
plant shoots come bursting through.
Oh, yes listen; I tell it true!
Words are a Holy Fire
with more power than the doers who do.
For they are not forgotten by the fragility of memory
but cling to time like glue.
My first chapbook of collected poems is available now! I hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy. You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback. Amazon: KindlePaperback Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback Thank you for your support!
Crystals hang from the heavenly chandelier
on the city upon the hill.
Catching light and doing for the eyes
what wind chimes do for the ears.
of an ancient force
with an unquenchable thirst
Crystals catch the sun's light,
act like mirrors with the power
of those at the Pharos lighthouse,
and reflect it to the ends of the earth.
Never giving birth to work
by its own power,
only transmitting a greater light
whose flame has burned
indefatigable to the chagrin of the night.
of an ancient force
with an unquenchable thirst
of crystals dangling like diamonds,
gleaming beneath the sun.
Dazzling like the thread
of the spider's web she's spun
catching the nightmares of the world
like colossal dream catchers,
waking up those who've fallen asleep,
and giving sight to a world walking in darkness.
The ChairPoem about Losing a Spouse
The sun woke, stretched, streamed
upon an early, April mourning.
Birds arrived at the feeder chirping.
I watched, sipping my steaming coffee.
For a minuscule moment distracted
until I noticed the chair
out of the corner of my eye
still indented with your body's footprint.
And I thought of you.