The Muse, Transformational Grammar, and Writing

Example of Transformational Grammar
Example of Transformational Grammar

Have you ever had a muse, or a muse-like experience where you felt so passionate, or “taken over” by a creative spirit or compulsion to express and create? This is more than just “in the zone” … it’s almost as if someone or something takes over and writes for you.

Four examples of a muse in my life are shared below.

One – I was taking a senior level English course with the ominous title “Transformational Grammar and Advanced Creative Writing”. The course was exactly as the title … a writing class that made sure you dissected the grammar. Remember diagramming sentences? This was far more interesting as it dismembered each sentence to parts of speech, syllables, suffixes/prefixes and even lower in structure. You could get credit for the class as a senior level English or Linguistics course. The professor was my first muse. She believed in and encouraged my writing. She was the first to point out the value of reading regularly, journaling, and submitting what you wrote. She helped get me published the first time in a university publication and then a historical article in a military magazine. She told me I should embrace a bohemian lifestyle and write full-time. She turned me on to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac.

Two – I was motivated to the point of being driven – me driven, can you imagine? Anyway, I wanted to get into a doctoral program and needed to start getting published in my chosen discipline – religious education. I went to the right conferences, met the right people, and paid the price. This wasn’t a once and done thing. It was getting one then two then three then four then five then six a year published. Sheer vanity … I wrote some very good articles like “What I Learned when a Church Member Died”, an article about preaching my first funeral and the shortcomings of the religious education curriculum to prepare the associate minister in this critical area is an example.

Three – Nancy Karen Vandiver Garrison … I know her from high school. We also went to the same university. We did prose interpretation and literary criticism together in University Interscholastic League competition way back 45 years ago. Thanks to social media and email we converse almost every day for years and still do, as recently as in the last few seconds. She holds me accountable to keep on writing and never give up. More than anything, she encourages me to not give up or listen to the rejections. She also says what’s next when I get an acceptance. She is a darn good poet and supporter of the arts. Plus, we both love The Monkees!

Four – In 1992, I wrote 275 pages in one night for a nonfiction book I was working on. The damn broke, and it just flowed. I was on prescriptions that powered my writing. I was taking Seldane. Remember it? It  wasthe first non-sedating antihistamine. It was later taken off the market in 1998. It fueled me as it is about 80% amphetamine. It taken with Celebrex we now know were causes of my first TIA (commonly known as a mini-stroke) as per the cardiologist and neurologist. I have had some 50 to 75 page experiences in writing that happen the same way without drugs to energize me. Sometimes the poems bounce around in my head and won’t quit talking until I relocate them to paper. It can be very surreal. I’ve had several magazine articles I wrote that I have sold to publications like Children’s Leadership and Preschool Leadership that just flowed almost perfectly.

I find the muse magically appears when I put my behind in the chair and write.

Background on Muses: The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory personified). Hesiod’s account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes:
• Calliope -epic poetry;
• Clio -history;
• Euterpe -flutes and lyric poetry;
• Thalia -comedy and pastoral poetry;
• Melpomene -tragedy;
• Terpsichore -dance;
• Erato -love poetry;
• Polyhymnia -sacred poetry;
• Urania -astronomy.

How to Hang On

Hang On
Hang On

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. — 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Is life getting you down? Do you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Here are seven Biblical principles on how to hang on when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.

Principle One: I must not forget God loves me.

  • Don’t lose heart! – Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. — 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)
  • I am what I am – But by the grace of God I am what I am, … — 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
  • It’s not who we are. It’s whose we are! – Remember our performance does not give us our worth.
  • God’s grace gives us the power to start over. – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Principle Two: I must keep a clear conscience.

  • Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)
  • We must have integrity.
  • We must have character.

Principle Three: It is not about me.

  • For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. — 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV)
  • Your ego will only take you so far.

Principle Four: I cannot do it all.

  • But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. — 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
  • We must pace ourselves. Life is a journey, not a sprint.

Principle Five: Love, love, love.

  • All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)

Principle Six: Take time to refresh, renew, and revive.

  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. — 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

Principle Seven: I must keep my eye on the goal.

  • For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Remember — You cannot create if you do not face your troubles and hang on until you reach your goal.

Devotional: How to Get a Grip on Your Temper

AngerHow to Get a Grip on Your Temper

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
1. Remember the Results
A hot tempered man gets into all kinds of trouble. Proverbs 29:22… Anger causes mistakes. Proverbs 14:29 People with hot tempers do foolish things. Proverbs 14:17The fool who provokes his family (or friends) to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left. Proverbs 11:29

2. Reflect before acting

A stupid person gives free reign to his anger; a wise person waits and lets it grow cool. Proverbs 29:11

When a fool is annoyed, he quickly lets it be known. Smart people will ignore an insult or a hurt. Proverbs 12:16

…when someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it. Proverbs 19:11
People who stay calm have real insight. Proverbs 17:27

Remember – nothing can make you mad. You choose to be mad as you respond to situations.

3. Restrain your remarks

If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say. Proverbs 21:23

A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up. Proverbs 15:1

4. Anger is contagious.

The fruit of the Spirit is … patience. Galatians 5:22

Closing thoughts:

  • Every minute you are angry you loose 60 seconds of happiness.
  • A man’s wisdom gives him patience.
  • When you are threatened, afraid, or your self-worth is attacked you get angry.
  • Blowing your stack creates air and noise pollution as well as leaving a bad impression.
  • Use sweet words. Eventually, you will have to eat them.

Devotional: Life and Problems

Life Problems

Are you facing problems in your personal life, business life, family life, relationship life, creative life, spiritual life? We need to realize that life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you. It all depends on how you respond to them. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Ask God what He is trying to tell you from this.

1. God Uses Problems to Direct You – Proverbs 20:30. Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.

Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30

2. God Uses Problems to Inspect You – James 1:2-3. When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this test will give you patience. Caution! Too much self-analysis is dangerous! It leads to “why me Lord syndrome”.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. — James 1:2-3

3. God Uses Problems to Correct You – Psalm 119:71-72. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. — Psalm 119:71-72

4. God Uses Problems to Protect You – Genesis 50:20. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. — Genesis 50:20

5. God Uses Problems To Perfect You – Romans 5:3-4. We can rejoice when we run into problems … they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  — Romans 5:3-4

Conclusion: Problems when responded to correctly are character builders. God is interested more in our character than in our comfort. You relationship with God and your character are the only things you will take with you into eternity see Romans 5:3-4. God wants to make changes in your life where you can make a difference!

Devotional: Remembering To Remember

RememberPsalm 103 teaches us to remember.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is withing me, bless His Holy name.” Psalm 103:1
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7

1. Remember His Forgiveness – Psalm 103:2, 10

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” Psalm 103:2.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:10

Never minimize the forgiveness of sin in your life.

2. Remember His Healing – Psalm 103:3b

“and heals all your diseases,” Psalm 103:3b
“By His stripes we are healed” Isaiah 53:5

Remember who is The Great Physician.

3. Remember His Redemption – Psalm103:4a

“who redeems your life from the pit” Psalm 103:4a

Remember who is your Redeemer.

4. Remember His Steadfast Love – Psalm 103:4b – 5

“and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:4b -5

Remember who loves you unconditionally.

Devotional: Overcoming Habits

temptationHave you ever struggled overcoming habits in your life? I know I have. The current battle is with weight and proper eating habits. I am on a mission to reduce my weight, lower my blood pressure and cholesterol as well as triglycerides. It is a huge challenge.

I realize I cannot do this in my own strength. I coincide support groups help. Weight Watchers worked as long as I attended. In the end it is going to take me making healthy choices and saying no the wrong choices.

The Bible has two verses that speak to me in this area. They are Romans 12:1-2. We read: Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We see the Apostle Paul appealing to us. The appeal is by the mercies of God. He is asking us as an act of worship to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.

This has me thinking of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV): 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Healthy eating and taking care of my body should be important because it is the temple of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) which lives in me as a Believer. It tells me to glorify Christ with my body. This transitions back to Romans 12:2 which again says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The memorization of Scripture is the only way I know to overcome so great a temptation as we face. Even Jesus quoted Scripture when confronted with the temptations of the Satan.

Join me in memorizing God’s Word to help with the temptations we face.

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“Have you ever struggled overcoming habits in your life?” by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Devotional: You Visit the Earth and Water It

Rainy-day-in-Henry-IllinoisGod visits the earth and waters it. He does this by providing rain.

I love rain. Many people dislike it. I love it. Why should I love rain? It’s not easy for people to understand, but I will try to explain.

Rain is a precious gift from God. It falls from the sky. Sometimes it falls in large amounts. Sometimes it comes in small amounts. Sometimes it doesn’t visit us for weeks or months at a time. We call that a drought. When rain visits it always brings its friend the clouds. Rain can also bring its noisy friend thunder and an its illuminating friend lightning.The clouds shield us from the heat of the sun. The thunder puts us on edge. The lightning gives a show that not even fourth of July fireworks can compete against.

Rain is like a guest in your home. At first you’re glad to see the rain, but if it stays around too long, it can out stay its welcome.

Rain refreshes. It gives the air and the countryside a shower. It washes the pollen off the cars, sidewalks, and driveways. Rain removes the dust from the leaves of the flowers, bushes and trees. It waters our yards, gardens and pastures. It provides the fruits and vegetables we eat with the moisture they need to live and grow.

The temperature drops when the rains come. Rain transforms the hot world into a cool, air-conditioned environment in the summer and a chilly one in the winter. The last two days in Dallas the blast furnace has cooled to a hospitable world. It helps you appreciate a dry house. It is a muse for Ray Bradbury as he writes short stories about it in “The Illustrated Man” in his short story “The Long Rain”.

Rain also helps a person forget their troubles. You worry less about how you look. After all, the water from the mud puddle may have splashed on you. You enjoy freedom from irritations. Only those people who truly want to see you will come see you in the rain. Most complainers stay away when it’s wet outside. They wait for a less rainy day.

It is fun walking outside when it rains, especially with an umbrella. “Just singing in the rain” … You can hold an umbrella in one hand, letting it prop on your shoulder. When the rain falls the propped up umbrella gets popped open keeping you from getting soaking wet. It’s fun to take a wet umbrella, hold it at a forty-five degree angle to the ground and spin it around and around. When you spin it around and around something magical happens. The drops of rain the umbrella has collected go flying off in a direction away from the umbrella holder. You can aim the umbrella where the drops spray someone or you can splatter the drops on the ground as you spin the umbrella ‘round and ‘round.

Even if you don’t own an umbrella you can still have fun in the rain. Shopping malls miraculously have parking spaces available closer to the door when it’s raining. The crowds are noticeably smaller. The joy of the mall  intensifies as you experience less hustle and bustle. At church, better seats are available.

A sad note about rain is it sometimes cancels baseball games. While this is sad, though not to all wives, it does hold the potential of prolonging our great national pastime’s season and giving the baseball fan the rare double-header (two games on the same day – twice the fun!). Also, during warm weather after the rain departs the heat and humidity can smoother you making your world feel as humid as a rain forest.

Without rainfall, there wouldn’t be real green grass on the baseball fields, rain-checks from baseball games, manageable crowds at the mall, or great seats easily available at church. Rain makes the world a nice place. Why not enjoy the rainy days? Without rain the flowers would not grow. Without rain there would be no Fillet of Fish at McDonald’s Restaurants. Without rain there would be no people living.

The Word of God tell’s us of His Providence of rain and water in Psalm 65: 9 – 10

9 You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

Rain is a gift from God. I love rain!

Written by Jimmie A. Kepler

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“You Visit the Earth and Water It” by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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