Shown the Way

A skinny stretch of sunlight lays across the rug and I’m captivated by the idea of a path, a choice, a plan and its leading.

I do this. I’d not say so, were it not true. I wake with slow unveiling and I soon find my confirmation in the unfolding.

“Follow that thought…there’s more for you to see, follow that train, that starting point, that pointing of the way through me.”

God, to me on this pretty morning.

This morning, I woke with the thought “How do I know the way?”

Then I read a friend’s blog post about walking in the deep spaces in the snow, her teenage grandson’s footsteps.

He lead the way, not wanting her to slip and fall.

I searched for the passage in John about “the way” and found Thomas asking Jesus what they’re supposed to do, how are they to know the way?

I continued on in Chapter 14 and found another question, Phillip asked Jesus to show him the way. I love this little epiphany God planned for me this morning, that the writer ended Jesus’ reply with an exclamation mark!

I tried to imagine Jesus reassuring me, so adamantly it would merit exclamation.

I began to sense the urgency, the hope that they, that I, that we might finally believe based on what we’ve seen, what we’ve survived, what we have made it through and all the stories of Jesus all around us through others whose lives Jesus touched, lives held in His embrace.

Like Phillip, I’m honest about my doubts, I keep asking to be shown more as an indication that all will be well.

Phillip wanted to see God the Father, wanted to be sure and Jesus said you’ve seen Him fully, faithfully through me already

and all around.

Yes, I have.

“Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Our lives are nothing short of miraculous if we consider all we’ve been given, been brought through, most of all been promised. All the times we’ve been “shown the way” through Jesus to the Father.

Intentional

I love the word. It feels good, hopeful, concrete and optimistic.

I like the part of it that feels like a plan.

Feels like faith not force.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I especially love that it’s Friday and all of my plans have not yet come to fruition; but, there is still time.

I woke with vigor, deciding there’s still the grace of “try” again and thanked God for that waking thought, prayed He’d equip me for writing, art, work and simply, the day.

I painted last night before “boot camp”, I started a piece and instead of hovering over it for hours to finish, I rose from my seat and went to exercise hard and with intention.

A piece I’m calling “Made New”

That’s progress for me, leaving it there, a work in progress to return to.

Not feverishly intent on the finish, instead certain in the decision to be intentional in my choice to continue.

I woke early and will be early for work. I had an idea last night. I’ll be intentional to begin to see it through.

Today, I’ll be intentional.

I’ll see the gift of the chance to continue.

I’ll forgive myself the incompletion in the days before.

Moving forward with intention.

linking up and guess, what?! I stuck to the time limit today, yay!

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/01/18/fmf-link-up-intentional/amp/

Snow, After All

Went to the door, sun had come up, come out and I needed to get it together.

Went out for a minute though, tennis ball in hand. For there was snow on the ground.

Snow, after all!

Apples of His Eye

I fell asleep trying to remember what I’m supposed to do if my car starts to slide on the slick road touched by just a smattering of snow.

I believe I decided not to slam down on the brakes, not to jerk the wheel, to sort of allow the slide into a safe place to rest.

It’s a phenomenal occurrence, snow in southern South Carolina.

patiently waiting for snow

I made a plan, I’d just follow the pull and trust the direction.

My first thought in the dark of early morning deciding to rise or linger, “I’m not who I was.”

I asked my son last week, “Why do you think so many planes are skidding off the runways?”

And his analysis was different than mine, starkly different and obviously more expert in comparison since the only plane I’ve ever boarded was a crop duster with a farm boy hoping to impress me.

He said the runways are slick, it’s winter and the pilots in some foreign countries are simply not as well trained and perhaps, not as attentive or exact.

Oh, okay.

Slightly veering off course might be to be expected.

I met someone yesterday who wore the evidence of faith on her face.

Someone who’s appointment was timely, my faith faltering, getting off course and on the cusp of falling over fear’s cliff.

I’d not seen her in two years and our meeting had a serious purpose, still just as before we began to talk about our faith.

She’d had a medical emergency, simple procedure led to sepsis and she, according to the more skilled physician who she feels saved her life, had only a day between living and dying.

I told her I saw it, I saw how her eyes expressed the stillness of hope, the assurance of God, the unwavering trust in Him that caused her cheeks to be lifted happily, her jaw relaxed into a calm perseverance.

Her countenance had changed, a serenity from strength.

We smiled.

She thanked me, thanked me for noticing.

I wondered if she needed to be reminded or if she saw my need of reminding.

I sometimes do. I’m easily taken back to a place of unworthy, unable, incapable.

Powerful words have been spoken over me, for me, through me and yet, I feel less capable than ever before.

Trauma lingers, woven early on or fallen into as we go, sometimes our own fault, other times harsh circumstances from heavy, hate filled arms and loud voices.

She knew. We both know, hurts and harms linger and become the gauge for our worth and ability.

I teeter on the edge, close to going from not sure I can to despondent…oh, well I just won’t.

We walked together towards the door and embraced. I’m going to be praying for you, she said and I told her I’d be doing the same.

We both agreed that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God knows full well that He has good for us.

We agreed that Satan knows as well, just as well.

We carry doubts, fears, anxieties and insecurities that rush over us like a hard knock me down wave in the wide,wide ocean.

Facing the shore, considering all of the good things awaiting me, I stand solitary and stoic, convinced I will finally be the me God sees, then I feel the ocean underneath changing, pulling, pulling, pulling from behind.

From before.

Before, when I wasn’t who I am.

Do I surrender to the strong and angry sea hoping to level my soul, even drown me or do I turn towards the wave, confront its instigating and gracefully allow it to carry me forward, hold me in its strong embrace?

And realize I’m not so small, I’m strong.

I’ll be strong, I’ll be stronger than I’ve ever known.

“My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭17:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I’m not who I was.” my waking thought and now that day is done and

I’m safely home, not skidded off track or pulled back by the hand of doubt, my destination still, with God, my faithful pursuit.

Today, a good day, with just a smattering of snow.

Today, even more distant from who I was and closer to who God has me to be.

The apple of His eye.

Closer to Love

I wonder if your first waking thoughts are placed there mid sleeping and waking by God as His way to say,

“Begin again, let’s go!

Follow my lead, follow your leader.

Follow your heart, your soul.”

I woke, thrilled to have slept past 7 and kept my eyes closed for a few minutes.

Did not reach for my phone.

I thought and thought again,

“Stop looking for likes.”

Then wrote it down, hoping it more deeply would sink in.

I’ve just spent almost an hour in between making breakfast and coffee and conversation about new cars with my husband, tracking down which blog post was most “liked”.

It was in 2014 and it was entitled “not knowing”. It was about my children and God and well, being okay with not knowing.

Stats show which day is best, which theme more enticing and I suppose which posts are so good that people click the little star that says “like”.

Actually, I don’t have a whole lot of “likes”. I do have a lots of views and viewers and some commenters who I always thank “for reading my words” and mean it, sincerely.

I was curious, then got weary of discerning my “likers” based on my stats.

What I saw was my life since 2014, I saw God’s guiding, his pulling me from the ditch of doubt, His rescuing me before I fall too far from the pit of pride and pedestal.

So, I’m more settled, less seeking and more set on seeing me as God sees me and

“likes” me.

Prayerful, this morning in my journal about writing for “Daughters of the Deep” and for Lisa Brittain’s “Saturday Shares” and other places my soul feels led and prompted by prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Places and people who I’d never encounter were it not for words and God, women like Nan Jones, women who write and women who don’t write; but, surely are praying. I am worried other making a list, it’s so vast, I’d surely forget one or two or three who make up my “community”.

This morning I read from My Utmost for His Highest and the thoughts are lingering and lined up, as did the other words and verses established for today.

I’m getting closer every day to the me God sees.

Not yet arrived, surely on my way though.

Noticing and embracing words like these, believing waking thoughts as God’s instruction and loving affirmation.

As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul.

My Utmost for His Highest devotion

Closer to love.

Closer to God and speaking more bravely.

Two times last week, I believe my words came as a surprise to others (and me).

I’m so glad God brought you into my life.

Me, through God

The first time, a crowded restaurant and as a goodbye to our unplanned encounter.

The second, a parking lot after “so happy to run into you” send off.

Both times, I was sure in my saying so and both times, the ones who were with me, their smiles spread wide as the sky and we parted, all of us thinking of God.

So, if you’re reading this,

I’m so glad brought you into my life. So happy He brought us both here. me

Quiet Like That

The rain has lulled me to even more lazy. I can’t get my thoughts to dance together and my excitement over chances to write has become anxious obligation overload.

Brain overloaded, lethargic and slightly rattled. I make things difficult that are simple, too many noises and voices all colliding.

I’m gonna have to get solitary, have to get quiet, have to get still.

Quiet like the way I felt as the sunlight traveled in through the windows to rest in my mama’s chair. Quiet, like that, content just to be there in the room.

Quiet like being told by someone that they’d pray and being moved by the expression of another whose beliefs you’d decided didn’t line up with yours.

Quiet when you walk away still draped in their sincerity and being really ashamed that you’d considered them unworthy, not able.

Before.

Quiet when your soul is your teacher and you listen and then pause a long few minutes to let it settle, a lesson on the love that you say you believe.

Real quiet, I was.

Quiet like the aging beagle girl looking for her blanket tossing in the dryer, then making her way to my warm lap and being surprised that I let her stay so long.

Exceptions, bent rules, exceptionally quiet we were.

img_2338

Quiet like the touching of my soles and toes of my feet, smooth caresses of the senses on freshly laundered sheets and deciding for myself there’s no rule I can’t wash them daily.

Excitedly quiet like that.

The words will come in the quiet moments suggesting, “More, please.”

God wants us to develop the character, wisdom, and structure to sustain His abundance.

Christine Caine

Quiet like the day I read this quote, copied, pasted and printed to remember it.

Quiet like this morning when I prayed for God to speak to my heart and then read a message from a friend about how she thought of me as she read of a prophetic’s words that there are writers who are about “to be birthed, to break through”.

Quiet like that.

More inner, less outer. Less waste of time, more nourishment of intention, more carefully attentive.

More God, less me.

Quiet like that.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others who wrote prompted by “simplify”. Can’t help but wonder if others had such a hard time with expressing something so simple.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/01/11/fmf-link-up-simplify/

Art and Opportunity

    The post I’m sharing below was originally sent for consideration to be shared with a large platform of readers. It was my fifth attempt to respond to the opportunity to be chosen.

A week before I got the “no” though, I was selected by two others. The very same day, I thought the shop owner was gonna tell me she didn’t think my pieces were right for her shop anymore. Instead, she wrote a sweet note and said: “give me more”. I’ve set up my Etsy page “Angels and Other” and I rearranged my desk today, added a pretty paperweight and crossed off 5 of the 8 things on my “to do”.  I pray for opportunities, remembering to do only my part and let God do the rest.

Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.

Pretty paperweight wisdom

I know that God is for me. I know that I am known.

As are you.

I remembered sharing what I call a “lisaism” in a recent post, the one I felt so proud of, one that I decided would be a difference maker for my children. “You can be miserable or you can be motivated.”

When I got the “no” email telling me how many others had tried and yet, again my submission was not chosen, I was kinda pitiful. But, not for as long as before. I remembered all of the good that’s been coming my way and I decided to carry on.

I remembered another “lisaism”:

You can be pitiful or you can be powerful. Me

I left work late yesterday, went to a grant presentation and hurried to make boot camp because I know physical health is good for my mental health and I’ve made up my mind in general, to press on like a runner towards whatever prizes God has for me.

(Oh, and there were some edits needed, I understand more clearly why my email said no. Live and learn. 🙂)

We were in the same spot that morning. I, for the grits that remind of my mama and her for coffee. The little café that is known for its breakfast, pimento cheese, casseroles and cheesecake, she was new in town and was waiting for her order. The cashier wished me good morning, and I listened as the new person talked about her shop next door. She and her husband had retired from corporate, he a carpenter and she a lover of junk pieces and art, she had opened a new place and was excited to begin displaying local pieces of art.

The words came, and I surprised myself to announce, “I paint.”  She turned and smiled and said “Well, what types of painting do you do?”  To which I replied, “I’ll show you, I have pictures on my phone.”  This was over a year ago, and I still have my wall in her shop.

Shortly before my cafe’ encounter, I’d begun to pray the Jabez prayer again. I have a little in common with Jabez, always have. I find his story relatable in that not too many people; His mother included felt he’d amount to much or worse yet, he might have a life of pain. But, Jabez started young and prayed for the course of his life to be rerouted.

He prayed and asked God to bless him, to bless him indeed. He prayed his abilities and the places he’d be privy to would be expanded far wider than he could believe.

His request was granted.

“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” I Chronicles 4:10, NLT

Like Jabez, I’ve been surprised by life and opportunity. I’ve been one held back by family dynamics that caused me as a child to be sure I caused no distress, made no mention of being in need, having needs unmet.

Oh, for the foresight to have prayed the prayer of a child born in pain named Jabez rather than become a young adult who sought conciliation in unhealthy ways and paths that bordered self-destruction.

Still, my road has led me to places scary but protected, my stumbles have met cushions upon my falling, and my failures have not been final. I have now what many call an “Angel Ministry” thanks to my friend Connie from the café. She, one of the many who has provided me opportunities that I might never have been shown had I not decided to ask God to enlarge my borders. I might have longed to simply paint in private.

I may have kept my pieces layered with hymns and expressionless angels to myself, maybe give a few away, leaned others against shelves in my home. Were it not for Connie and my prayers for opportunity; I’d have never used the word “commission” nor discussed prices for pieces of art. I would have never had the confidence to create a page on my blog called “The Art of Quiet Confidence”.

This morning, I happened upon another favorite scripture. It caused me to consider whether David, too may have been changed by the story of Jabez, whether all the opportunities and challenges he approached with the assurance of God were perhaps with a recollection of a boy named Jabez.

For I have surely been blessed indeed. The boundaries and borders have bent my way, led me to consider all the good I never expected to know.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 ESV

Prayerfully waiting and willing to walk in places God decides are mine.

 

 

Linking up with others at Tell His Story.  Jennifer writes about the difference a day can make:  http://jenniferdukeslee.com/whatever-youre-facing-now-give-24-hours-first/

Misery and Motivation

Yesterday, I read somewhere about the way Jesus cherished Peter, the disciple who denied Him.

I’m thinking this morning, of what motivates me to follow, to know each day invites my turning to God. Morning new mercies are motivation enough; still I let misery take over in regards to what I don’t see and well, I get better at recalling the mercy unending, better as I go.

It astounds me how Jesus knew it would be Peter to deny Him and how he knew and told Peter, “You will, and I’ll confirm my knowing of your choice not to stay loyal by the sound of a rooster, crowing two times to announce your denial.”

“And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭14:72‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It astounds me the way the disciples saw so much healing, so much mercy and kindness and were doubtful at times.

I’d love to have met some of the ones healed; the leper, Lazarus, the woman who could not stop bleeding and the man who thought he’d never see. I would treasure talking with Martha, the sister like me who couldn’t slow down long enough to believe; but, then did.

Signs and wonders, yet Thomas needed to see the open wound, needed to touched the body of Jesus, pierced in order to have us believe.

“So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.

Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

‭‭John‬ ‭20:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

How miserable he surely must have been in his disbelief, to say he would never believe! I wonder just how amazed he was, if his seeing and touching increased his believing or if he continued for all of his days praying for help in his miserable disbelief.

I believe he was motivated by his former misery.

I used to say all sorts of little “motivational mantras” to my children when they were athletes. I must have surely annoyed them to the point of nausea, that and the mandatory daily banana!

Thankfully, if there was eye-rolling, it was not in my presence.

Yes, I am fortunate, I know.

One of my bits of wisdom was:

You can be miserable or you can be motivated. Me

Every bit of wisdom I shared, I was saying so much more clearly back to myself.

It’s the same with my sharing here, on social media or in personal encounters. I’m encouraging, redirecting myself every step of the way, with every exchange.

I believe Peter was more motivated when Jesus invited him again to follow. I believe Thomas’ testimony more profound because Jesus granted him extra mercy to make up for his debilitating doubt.

Me too. I’m motivated by His unending and more than expected mercy.

Turn us to you, God. Show us a life other than miserable doubt and inconsistent faith.

Motivate us Lord, to recall that you are mindful of us and mostly that you’d never choose misery for us; we choose it for ourselves and it surely can be used for good, for motivation to follow, to believe.

I’m thankful for the FMF prompt of motivate. I’ve exceeded the 5 minutes allowed; but I’ll share knowing there’s also mercy in this group of followers who motivate me, one another!

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/01/04/fmf-link-up-motivate/amp/

Called “Precious”

Y’all, I often minimize things or maybe it’s my pattern of not getting too excited about the way my life plays out. It’s not humility, the good kind of staying meek and quiet; it’s truly being joy-filled to the point of oh, my goodness can’t believe I’m seeing this stuff happening in my life.

It’s quiet confidence making itself embraceable, tangible.

And to think,  I’ve only just barely begun to surrender!

 

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“Do not fear, only believe.”  Jesus  

 

You might find it small. I consider it God showing me more clarity every day and that I am loved. Nan Jones found my blog through another blogger. She asked me to write. She first asked me about what is happening in my life now, what are my prayers, what is on my heart. I answered by telling of my prayers for my daughter’s healing and she asked me to write about it.

At first, it was all fluff then I decided to be truthful about fear and believing, the lessons I’ve been learning in my listening.

She’s sharing my words and my art here.  I am so very grateful for yet another person God in his infinite wisdom “enlarged my borders” with, people who I never knew might be my teachers, my guides, my spiritual pointers of the way to walk, to write, to be unafraid.

We’ve never met, yet she says she sees me as “precious” and all I can do is smile and cry just a little to know that I am called precious. Finding God in Quiet Confidence

 

Thank you, Nan! Thank you so!

Seeking

After deciding it was the “seeking” part I am not always so intent on; but, the assurance that God had a purpose for my life, I was worried that seeking might not align with being still.

I was reassured by Webster’s defining of “seek”.

a : to go in search of : look for

b : to try to discover

Having decided to be still to know that no time should be considered wasted because of what had not been accomplished in the year or years before.

Still is what I’ll be seeking, still enough to truly see, to listen, to know as I go.

Face down towards the words of God and maybe no set guide or timeline or schedule, truly understanding what it is I am to know, this shall be what I see as seeking.

Why my “one word” makes more sense and gives more hope than I’d expected.

Just a week ago, I told someone my word would be “optimism” and she said well that’s a good one for us all and I just nodded.

Later realizing it wasn’t at all my word, too status quo, too vaguely overarching and one size fits all.

I read Psalm 46:10 and realized I’d probably never been still for very long at all, ever!

That being still simply means anticipating that God is God and I can be still knowing this more profoundly.

Still, He is on the throne.

There is still time and there are still great plans and a purpose I’ve still not fully caught a glimpse of so I must seek like a cat close to the ground waiting to discern when to move. Still like an ancient planner of charts and maps, I must consider carefully the best path.

I must be still.

I must be thoughtful. I must listen more than I speak and meditate more than I mediate.

Some verses we make almost cliche.

Or we cling to the good and positive and hopeful, yet never latch onto the rest of the story. We love God’s part, sometimes skim over the lines explaining ours.

Like a puzzle that is without a corner piece, we will never be complete, will never be able to display ourselves as fully God’s idea until we seek and we find and keep seeking all the pieces he designed to fit together, a display for His glory and purpose.

We might never fully know His plan if we’re content in only half heartedly believing that He has a plan and purpose; yet don’t seek with our whole heart to find, each of us one of God’s masterpieces.

Seeking is our part, not striving and submitting not struggling or manipulating.

The hope and the future, God’s.

#still18