ARTICLES BY COLLEEN CHAO

Category: Poetry

Category: Poetry

Community

Dear Younger Self

Dear Younger Self—I know it’s cliché,But I would go back if I couldTo say: Make yourself small,Don’t resent being weak—Humility before GodWill set you free. Practice his presence:Listen and rest—A quieted heartHears his voice best. Don’t go it alone.Seek wisdom to knowWho to keep closeAnd who to let go. Gratitude strengthens.Counseling helps.Measure your beauty,Measure your wealth In joy,In friendshipIn laughterIn pain.In lossesIn crossesIn wakingAgain. Love as he loves you,Don’t fear what folks think.Forgive (you’re forgiven!),See what he sees. Don’t be surprised—More suffering’s to come.Grief will undo youAnd seem to have won…. But his Word will grow sweeter,His nearness will beYour joy and your good—Your everything. And when Death comes knockingYou’ll look back and seeLife had more purpose thanAll your first dreams. For each pain invitedYou into his LoveFurther and deeper And more than enough. (Written between March 2020 and Fall 2022)

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Poetry

Merciful undoing

September 29, 2006 You use pain so wisely,With infinite care,Knowing right whereTo push and pull and tearAnd break and burnUntil I’ve finally learnedWith all my being to yearnFor You only. Merciful undoing:This pain sets me free.My blind eyes now can seeUnspeakable mystery—This death leads to life,No shortcut through strife;With my good in mindYou’ve afflicted me.

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person on cliff
Poetry

Mystery

June 14, 2022 Mystery— Living in theIn-betweenThe unknownThe not-yet Shadow, substanceLong and shortHandspan, breath…Infinite Holding on andLetting goOpen handedLingering Fragile, fearfulUnmoved, strongLaughing joyBitter drink Hoping long andgrieving slowSleepless nightsMercies dawn Straining forwardDoubled downKneeling, prostrateFighting on Misery andMiraclesHaunting hoursHoly days Pain and promiseLoss and loveBreathless, burdenedGreatest grace Past and futureEternal nowDeath is almostHistory In-betweenHere and ThereHe is foundIn mystery.

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architecture black and white dark door
Beauty

Beautiful

I have several friends in their fifties and sixties who are living proof that a woman can grow more beautiful with age. Isn’t it hopeful to know that a heart at peace and a life of joy can transform our faces and attract people to our God? As I celebrate my 41st birthday this week, I’m returning to a poem I wrote years ago, when I had far fewer grays, spots, and lines; when time had not yet begun to leave its mark on my body. This is the kind of imperishable beauty I long for…. BEAUTIFUL Her face was weathered, wrinkled—altogether older now. Facials and lotions, expensive beauty potions— she had turned them in. For in the end, when life was done, she wanted her heart to be the most beautiful part of her. Sure, she missed that glance, the eyes that danced to look at her (in her younger days when beauty’s ways were upon her). But now people stared long and hard at her heart that shone on her face. Plastic Beauties who saw her walk by envied her—the life in her eyes that sparkled, undaunted by aging and time— and almost mesmerized they asked her the reason for her smile. And she would stop awhile and tell them (oh, she loved to tell them) of the One who made her beautiful. ~~~ “Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5 “They shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord…” Jeremiah 31:12 “‘And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect,’ declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 16:14 “Oh, the soul of man is more worth than a thousand worlds! It is the greatest abasing of it that can be—to let it dote upon a little shining earth, upon a little painted beauty and fading glory—when it is capable of union with Christ, of communion with God, and of enjoying the eternal vision of God.” Thomas Brooks

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Bible study

Kings, kings, and more kings (a poem)

I love reading through the Old Testament books of First and Second Kings, where I see God’s justice and love, fierceness and faithfulness on display. In these pages it’s impossible to focus on just one of God’s attributes to the exclusion of the others. His dealings with His people and her kings are such a stunning look into who He is. But to be honest, I’ve always been confused about Who’s Who in this record of royalty. So last summer I spent weeks reading and researching and connecting dots, and this poem was the result—a study aid for my forgetful, oft-confused brain. May it come in handy to a few of you as well. (I’ve highlighted the Kings of Israel in orange; the Kings of Judah in green. And where possible, I’ve tried to use exact words or phrases from Scripture.) Poem of the Kings Here is a look at Old Testament kings: Saul (the first) was promising, till disbelief and folly won— then in stepped God’s anointed one. David’s heart was wholly true, but Solomon didn’t follow through. Rehoboam closed his ears to counsel from those wise in years. Jeroboam made calves of gold, Nadab’s sin was just as bold. Abijam took up all the sins of his father before him. Asa came and saved the day— idols, prostitutes were put away. Basha sinned and sealed his fate (the dogs were waiting in the gate). Elah was a drunkard king whose brief reign ended suddenly. Zimri did evil in the sight of the Lord; Omri did evil—but even more. Omri’s son Ahab outdid his dad, embodying the look of bad. Jehoshaphat made Asa proud (yet the high places were still allowed). Ahaziah took a great fall, through some lattice high on a wall. Wicked Jehoram wed Ahab’s daughter yet mercy came instead of slaughter. Joram was evil, he had no peace, and Ahaziah tried to flee, for Jehu was on a bloody mission— Death to royalty and sons of perdition! Jehoahaz sinned, then sought the Lord, then sinned again (back and forth). Athaliah was a usurping queen till Joash, at seven years old, became king. (When Jehoida counseled him, he was wise; but with the priest’s death came his demise.) Jehoash made Israel to sin again. Amaziah’s reign was half a win. Uzziah obeyed God zealously till his pride bred leprosy. Jeroboam II was wholly evil but God showed mercy, spared His people. Then five more in murderous succession sat on a throne of endless transgression: Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah—royal mayhem. Back in Judah, King Jotham restored the beloved gate of the house of the Lord. When evil Ahaz took his turn as king he burnt his son as an offering. Hoshea was king when Israel fell to Assyria (and was locked in a cell). Hezekiah showed God to be gracious and finally destroyed all the high places. King Manasseh did not follow suit, a bloody and idolatrous brute. Amon came after—like father like son— he also abandoned the Holy One. But King Josiah read the Law, humbled himself in penitent awe, led the people in covenant, restored and reformed till he was spent. Then came three who couldn’t win: Jehoahaz, Johoiakim, Jehoiachin. Alas, Judah’s days came to an end when King Zedekiah could not contend with Nebuchadnezzar and his men— a promised curse for the people’s sin.

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Motherhood

Blink

August 5, 2011 Fleeting moments…Yes, these will flyAnd he’ll be grownIn the blink of an eye.True,Sleepless hoursAnd baggy eyesWon’t be missed,But realizeThat with them goHis newborn ways:His coos and cries,His cherub face.With every seasonComes its joysAnd challengesOf raising boys.So rest and revelIn this brief dayBefore it turnsTo yesterday.

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Marriage

Poem for my wedding day

Butterflies in my stomach,Coffee in my hand.Calm down in my spirit:I know this is the man. Bridesmaids all around me.Sleek dress in champagne-white.Dangly diamond earrings,Lingerie for late tonight. Putting on my makeup,Slip into my dress.Another ten long minutes…I’m impatient, I confess. Cameras in the corner,Guests have settled in.This is it! I’m getting married!I take a step and walk toward him. Deep anticipation,All mystery and hope!Beauty, glory, blessing,Such kindness from my Lord. And with a ring and vow,A kiss of promised love;We two become one fleshAnd paint a picture of our God.

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Category: Poetry

person on cliff
Poetry

Mystery

June 14, 2022 Mystery— Living in theIn-betweenThe unknownThe not-yet Shadow, substanceLong and shortHandspan, breath…Infinite Holding

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architecture black and white dark door
Beauty

Beautiful

I have several friends in their fifties and sixties who are living proof that a

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Motherhood

Blink

August 5, 2011 Fleeting moments…Yes, these will flyAnd he’ll be grownIn the blink of an

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