Today, a Good Day

Today, someone stopped by and assured me she’s doing every day what I told her to do.

Just take the next step, look for something good every day.

“That’s why I keep doing it because you said so.”

Another friend suggested I begin to place value on my art, described me as emerging.

What a hopeful word.

Still another commented, “It’s good your children have you as their mother, so in tune with them”

She was genuine, her words spilling over. I held them close to my chest, still am.

I saw a high school friend of my daughter’s, her face beaming beauty, and answered when asked about my girl “She’s the same as you, so in love, it’s evident” and she smiled a smile I know her mama loves to see like me.

My age was disputed by a happy young woman at the grocery checkout, no way you could qualify for the senior discount.

I walked today, music in my ears, swiftly and with a passion.

Not pressing, pushing, I’m so much stronger now.

Back again to the place of being amazed by the sky and the places where the clouds hang majestic until I turn my corner home to notice the going down pale pink in the pines, end of day.

I’d not forgotten the good, had just not remembered the joy in keeping account of the day.

Until she stopped by to see me and we both remembered.

“I’m praying God brings something good to you today, so good, impossible not to notice.”

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It was good, today a good day.

View from Above

Less than a few days ago, I read about the meaning of the times that wake us up from sleep. The 3:00 a.m to 4:00 or 5 is symbolic of a word, a message, a spiritual point needing our attention.

God is speaking, His view, from above.

This morning I dreamt of a deep and grey, muddy ocean, the water becoming wider and the shore, a distant angle I couldn’t decide how I’d reach, why it continued to grow more narrow.

I stood searching, one side and the other, the space before me and all around and I wondered might I finally drown.

Instead, I began to swim.

I rose up heavy because of Saturday morning and prayed bedside;

“God, help me pay attention today.”

Because like Samuel as a child, I question whether it’s you.

“So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My morning dream, a deep ocean, an elusive shore, deciding to swim.

Linking up with other writers prompted by the word “Speak”

Stronger for Trying

I’ve committed to this. I told someone today, it’s more my soul than my body.

My body has changed, but it’s not that change that’s changed me.

It’s the change of after that causes me to anticipate the again.

My drive home, regardless of the sky, signals new and good and strong, stronger.

Every single time, I’m better from going. The challenge, the release of good and serene, the sense of building new from brought down, old and low.

At the end of a long day, the fourth day not Friday yet, a whole lot of unexpectedness coupled with not sure how to respond and missing information along with misinformed.

In the work of helping others, things come to light, gradually unexpected, we learn more as we go.

We press on. We know there are some chances to intervene and there are some doors slammed hard shut.

There are those who see we care, there are those who decide we don’t because it’s easier to blame us than look closely at themselves.

So, workday ends.

I change into workout clothes.

I walk in hesitant, small group of us, we laugh. We engage. I’m better gradually.

Stronger as I go, laughter over my strength from another.

Weights lifted, challenges met and gone through again, less afraid.

A small community I’ve been allowed to join.

And stronger now.

Have Mercy

Today would have been Day 4 of my 40 day fast from social media, if I’d stuck with the grand plan, the idea to step up my game while freeing my mind and being able to say “Oh, I’m fasting from Facebook.”

Which I imagined would have been followed by, “Oh, wows” and wonder why’s and possibly edge of the seat waiting to hear how I’d come to this decision.

And I’d anticipated how some great and flowery after the fast enlightenment would result from 40 days without following and even more anticipated how people would be waiting to hear and consider a fast themselves.

Wow.

Lord, have mercy.

Oh, my goodness…”too much Lisa!”

Yeah, I did that, recognized it, thank you Lord, and then shifted my focus to how I might navigate the days and how they might make more narrow my wide and distracted path.

I’d not be seeing all the people selling all sorts of things to better me, convincing me to try something amazing.

I’d not be bogged down by information overload about the glasses I need to look at the sun and oh, I better make plans, everybody’s doing something somewhere.

I’d not feel different from most in that I’m not anticipating the eclipse; but, am more quietly considering spending the couple of moments in a quiet place at home.

I’d have been able to avoid the commentaries, people taking sides, analyzing, criticizing, sneering and opportunists seeking a place to expound their opinions.

But, I’d have missed out on the good words and goodness of people asking for goodness from others and for that I’d have been sorry.

Because I did that,

Said, “I’m sorry about Charlottesville.”

Acknowledged I could never fully understand and we embraced, both of us nodding, holding our hands up to heaven.

I believe she believes me because we’ve left it at that.

I digress, though.

Last week, I  was captivated by the idea. I announced that I’d be fasting soon, had calculated the days and I’d abstain from social media and two other distractions that I’d decided were dulling my sense of God.

And I was right, five days later…I am able to do without those things, discipline and moderation are refreshing, almost

effortless.

But, social media, I’ve decided not to abandon or restrain.

The reason? Wise words from women.  One, my daughter, one, my cousin and the others, two sisters. One said, “Oh, that’s trendy, everybody does that!”  The other, surprised me. She paused, leaned back in her cushy armchair and said…”You need to pray about this, I’ve been reading your words every morning…you’ll have to figure this out.” So, I replied that I’d just limit myself, maybe just post my thoughts about faith and God and things I’m being shown in the mornings, nothing else all day, leave it alone.

She again said, “You are going to need to pray about this, I just don’t know.”

“Okay, I will.” I said, confused and two days later sat in my morning spot and as clarity does, it came slowly, rested with me there a bit, making sure I gathered up its message.

 

The thing is, I opened my Bible to the Book of Luke. The first day, I refreshed my memory of Luke and his take on the life of Jesus. I read the first chapter.  I noticed the tone, a more gentle approach, the opening lines more of a beckon to read than a command.

“It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you…” Luke‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So, I continued to read and revisited again the two sisters, Martha and Mary.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV

I read of Martha’s frustration and her pointing out her efforts, her preparation and her lack of help to Jesus.

I’ve been searching; but, can’t find an answer. Did they know that Jesus was coming and bringing along the disciples?

How much time did she have to get the house ready, maybe cook a meal?

The last time I had company coming, a first time ever I’m excited to have person, I took a day off from work. There were linens to wash, little flowers to put in tiny vases, carpets vacuumed, dusting done, options for meals and pillows fluffed.

Making the best of what I had to welcome someone. I was worried we might not have a home good enough to impress her, to hopefully have her return.

I had the whole house to myself, me and the dogs, I was a flurry of stress and striving, driven to perfection, to making an impression.

I believe Martha was feeling this way.

I imagine she lost her sense of composure, her efforts trying to impress this visitor everyone had been talking about and she demanded to know why she didn’t matter…why is it that you’ve not noticed me? I imagine her, hands on her hips, her sister oblivious.

She was a mixture of keeping tabs and keeping up. Everyone a measurement of her value, every effort an opportunity to be satisfied with self, a contrast in diligent servant and frustrated martyr. She was disappointed, but oh so very determined in her display.

She wanted to be enough.

I understand.

And while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening, Martha made sure He knew, to be certain He noticed all she’d been doing.

So, I abandoned the grand plan of the 40 days without Facebook.

We’d talked about the giving up of things, my cousin and I, of striving in our focus, of being more disciplined, of denial of any and all in hopes we might be a little better.

I listened as she explained what she believes and is learning.

We punish ourselves hoping finally, deprivation will lead to acceptance, to acceptance of the love of Jesus.

Her words I stored up. I can’t remember exactly; oh, I wish I could, because it took root, the truth grew and changed my mind, her words, my thoughts of them.

What I do to make up for before does nothing more than validate my shame, my guilt, my doubt.

My efforts only keep me where I believe I must stay, never stronger, only shrinking back to the place I feel most comfortable and guilty.

Grace is not punitive, doesn’t sit waiting for a show, never demands evidence of its due.

 

Grace, the grace of Jesus just shows up and stays, hopes we will rest a while in its presence.

Mercy, the mercy of Jesus reminds us to choose the better and gives us time to see it as better.

Love, the love of Jesus accepts our anxious ways, beckons us to linger, cares little about perfection and looks beyond our imperfections, and notices even less our idea of perfection so that it can show us the way.

The one who told me to pray called today.  I told her, “Oh, I’m not doing the fast. I was looking for affirmation, attention, I was hoping to be a bright and shiny blogger girl who could boast of her accomplishment. I was hoping to be good enough not to go unnoticed.”

To which she replied, languishing in wise southern cousin Peacock way…”Good, good, Oh, that’s good, oh…”

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at Tell His Story…read about a beautiful mission here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/

 

Talking About Georgia

Last night he asked, "I took you from your home, didn't I?"

And I waited for my words to form.

Answered, a soft sigh, "Yeah."

But, my answer was slow in coming because I thought of all the good in this place.

And I was happy to be asked, to have Georgia remembered.

Driving home from boot camp, I'd stretched myself even more, things like planks, crunches and mostly the people around watching me try had worn me out.

The sun was setting as I turned up the hill that meets sharp curve and the sky a mixture of dark and light after a rain.

I decided, the sky was God to me and God, the sky.

I glance upwards often, it has become my place to remember where I began.

I begin each morning in the same spot. My journal in my lap, pretty pencil in my hand.

Everyday, the prayer of Jabez, the one I've seen answered. That God would bless me indeed, enlarge my borders and keep His hand on me so that I not be in pain.

Then, I read and I think and add penciled prayers to pages.

Today,

Father, thank you for mornings.

For not giving up on me.

For making me fearfully and wonderfully and for calling me towards you so that I every day I'm beginning to know surely and more fully and more well the way you made me for this time

This place.

Thank you for Georgia, the place that made me and thank you for mornings and my morning place in this place.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up for Five Minute Friday and thankful God made me to love words and gives opportunity to write and read and grow.

Surprise on Purpose

I stepped outside, the feel of change in the air, only slight.

Rain for several days, so much that I'd go from one place to another unconcerned over umbrella and my hair sort of wilted.

But, I stood for a bit, listening and heard faintly only one bird or two. I wondered where they'd gone. I wish I'd been coming out to listen more, my days taken up by other than quiet.

I stood and allowed my mind to empty.

Had a morning talk with me.

If you think about the times whatever "it" was came through, came to be, happened when least expected, you'd understand more the wait.

 

lost jewelry found

 

the voice you so long to hear, try hard to hide the excitement in your hello

 

the lifting up your feet, the lightness in your step, floating more, dragging  less

 

love light that faded surprising you sweet and strong

 

finding what you're looking for once you stop searching, you'd surrendered

But, you may step out into the wide open and try to grasp the day, grab hold of some sense of deep peace and wait to feel its embrace. No one around, you might close your eyes and tilt your face up towards the morning and breathe deeply a slow and seeking prayer.

You may open your eyes, expectantly to see or sense the intervention you've conjured and so, you wonder where the moments may have gone, to return back to you void.

You might turn to go back in your house, groaning in your acceptance of the same, prepare yourself for day and duty and begin to understand.

You've tried to make it happen.

Again.

Tried to manufacture hope, attempting to do things, pushing, looking, straining ears and eyes and heart and soul.

Your striving made you weary and you remembered then how it happens, how it happened before.

So, you say "yes."

Yes, I know. I remember.

The light came in, the rescue came through, the sweet things no longer delayed.

They came on their own.

On time, and maybe on purpose, to surprise me by surprise.

 

"…At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

No Copy Now

I have no idea why I'd been glancing towards its spine.

Or why I'd kept it there.

A book from a rummage sale, I think I must have found it pretty, substantial pages, edges rough and worn tinged slightly brown.

The hard cover, a note from the giver to another inside and then, another note below, inquiring who'd been the original receiver of the "get better soon" gift.

I wondered if the book had been exchanged and now settled long with me.

The signatures dated the year I was born and then the year I turned thirteen.

To write of the way I'd been glancing towards its place on the shelf, considering whether I'd actually ever read, is so very insufficient to hope another might understand simply in my telling here.

But, this morning, I did reach for the thin book, a collection of poems.

I reached just before gathering things and going to work and just after I'd journaled.

Intrigued and increasingly drawn into new thoughts on prayer, I'd decided I'd begin a 40 day fast, something I'd never done.

I'd decided the time, counted the days to mark the end once deciding the beginning.

Decided I'd abstain from three things that distract, a vignette I decided, always choosing three.

I thought of what may happen and decided I'm anxious to see, what might change, where my time might grow.

And I held the book, Sonnets from the Portuguse, Elizabeth Barrett Browning in my hand, let it fall open and my eyes fell on the familiar, "How do I love thee?"

I thought, oh, I know this one, the sonnet counting ways of love.

Then, my eyes moved to the page on the left and well, I couldn't for a second believe it. But, I've no reason not to believe.

Sonnet XLII

'My future will not copy fair my past'—

I wrote that once; and thinking at my side

My ministering life-angel justified

The word by his appealing look upcast

To the white throne of God, I turned at last,

And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied

To angels in thy soul! Then I, long tried

By natural ills, received the comfort fast,

While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim's staff

Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled.

I seek no copy now of life's first half:

Leave here the pages with long musing curled,

And write me new my future's epigraph,

New angel mine, unhoped for in the world!

And I was astounded.

The mention of angels, new future unseen.

The book that now rests in my lap.

I'm past the point of youth and closer to the place and time where my parents died too soon.

But, farther, yes, farther than the half called before.

The me reading poetry, calling herself artist and smiling when another notices the shift.

I seek no copy now, of life's first half. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Write, Lisa

People from other sides of fences.

Two of them this week, same matter of factly without hesitation

Said, "Write, Lisa".

One added, her words disputing my feeling as if needing to hide away.

She said.

"Some will wonder why, many could care less.

Others wish they were brave enough.

The few who respond are the many who matter."

So, I'll share again the honesty with hints of hard things again, the post selected by another.

Gently Found

And I'm sitting alone after long day, a smile no one else can see.

It's grace, grace, grace. Here's an Instagram post below…is it possible to be humble and happy all at once. I do believe so when it's a nudge in your tummy, a slight catching of our breath in realization combined with awe.

To see the words that so very clearly express your heart, surreal to see, amazing to recall.

So, for August, I'm the featured post on a blog. The reality is, it's the baring of my soul about just how clearly I feel I could have stood alongside the Samaritan woman and we'd have said to one another, "Me too."

I think we only have hard stuff to be able to look back and share the grace that came in the hard places and the hard times. Visit Kelly Basham's blog and if so inclined say thank you for mercy along with me and thank you for grace.

Link in profile to my blog.

#blossominfaith #gentlesavior #quietconfidence

Not Unaware

I jotted it down in my black journal.

A ribbon and black elastic band to hold my place, the pages, buff and subtle are its lines.

Might be my favorite.

The one I discovered had a pocket in the binding on back cover.

Discovered it just as I’d folded the seven or so pages written in long hand when I had the time and before it faded away into the place of maybe.

Thoughts that made up Chapter Two.

But, three days, might be four, I walked in the middle of the day, thinking it was fall; but, not yet.

And I’d not considered the Chapter Three.

Melancholy, mind weary, pressed for time.

I walked at a time I felt unsure why, I should.

A hawk was steady and settled, led me to keep on, concerned over the asphalt, we found opportunity to walk in the grass of empty lots.

I decided he deserved it, picked up a stick, I’ll let him cool off in the pond.

It was a plan.

Then, the pecan tree I’d never noticed and the treat of walking down towards the pond; but, Colt, the big brown Lab was disinterested, lazy and uncertain of the plunge.

I waited and watched, a butterfly allowing my time.

To understand, to cherish what was waiting to burst forth, to flutter.

And the dog waited on the bank while I watched and decided,

jotted in the center, nothing else in the space around,

“I refuse to believe that

God is

unaware.”