Your Gift

Whether you believe or not

It is true.

You’re gifted.

Your gift?

Your story, the truth of it, what that truth has taught you, what God desires you not keep boxed up.

Your gift is your belonging because of or despite your story.

You’re gifted with stuff you should never stuff down

Nor keep tightly wrapped

Nor keep it hidden in the darkness of your heart.

The events that made you, the hard, the happy, the glorious.

There are times I believe it’s essential to remember the before things, it’s beneficial to not forget the ugly so that you can smile when you communicate to others the pretty.

I told a story twice yesterday. The story of this drawing, a drawing in my Bible, a print I call a “margin girl”.

The professional gently turned the pages of my Bible, she positioned the page on the scanner.

With the first of my five she asked what I called it and I answered.

Made well.

The drawing depicts the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment and was made well.

We examined the print closely together, the lines so clear, the color so vivid.

I thanked her.

I told her that this is one of my favorite stories.

She paused and said she didn’t know it.

So I told her.

I told her I wonder if the color is too graphic, the deep red that encircles the woman’s gown that represents blood, years of incapacitating menstrual flow.

She listened as I continued with remembering how Jesus was intentional in finding her. He wanted her to know her faith had made her well.

Told her.

Go in peace.

Later, I sold this print and three others. I stood with two women who knew this story and now, the story of God and my art.

Now, they know that little bit of my story.

Not kept hidden, wrapped tight or concealed for dread of paralyzing trigger.

No, our stories are gifts.

We’re gifted and we’re givers.

Share your story, feel your soul open wider, your heart expand to allow others in.

Know the glow they’re seeing, the soft fire in your eyes.

No, you don’t see what they see.

But, oh my goodness you surely feel it.

So, that thing or things that made you stronger, wiser, sure ‬‬and surer of mercy and grace?

Give it to others.

“And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:50‬ ‭ESV

Your gift.

Share and give.

And continue.

Continue and believe.

No Hurry

For the second morning in a row lights are bright and obnoxiously encroaching.

Like a vehicle has decided to coattail, to just cruise, crash through and pile into my backseat.

Oh, the lights are saying.

Where the hell are you going?

Obviously, nowhere!

I’m on the way to my day, the place I greet the morning these days.

Say

Good morning, God!

The car behind me two times early morning causing me to feel pressured, hurried, incapable.

Push, push, push.

Two mornings, early and in my space.

On Monday, a big truck and the next day a little Kia.

All of a sudden they are upon me and saying what in the world is your problem, where are you going?

You better hurry.

Craziness.

Like the month of December will soon be the goodbye to a decade

And what’ve you done?

What have you done with what you barely have begun?

If I could I would tell them what God has been telling me.

Slow down.

Slow down.

Slow down before I will need to intervene and show you how.

Cause your acceptance of my sovereign delay.

This morning, I read farther than the devotion’s verse, the passage about being pulled from the mire of our mental making.

I read farther and in agreement with the psalmist.

I am needy and I need a rescue, God.

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:17‬ ‭

Please.

Hurry.

And rescue me from thinking I must hurry.

I am poor.

I am needy.

But, I keep sensing you saying.

Listen.

No hurry.

Other Art

I’m leaning towards more of an impressionist feel, combining soft with angular, more free in the use of my brush.

Here are some previous pieces and current ones showing this transition

Breakfast with Daddy and Mama

Not intentionally, I sat in the section where the older men gather for breakfast.

I didn’t want to sit next to the windows, not cold just chilly.

I’m out with a list of errands, early and sans makeup or shower.

I longed for my daddy as one came and then another.

Comparing ailments, discussing Georgia football, reading the wrong day’s paper they discovered.

I listened.

I had been thinking about Christmases of before, about hard memories, about what Christmas sometimes does to people.

Still, I missed my daddy, he left me too young.

So, I finish my meal and then sip on strong coffee.

I’m listening to their commentary and their kindness as the biscuit maker from the kitchen’s early shift rounds the corner to join them.

They catch up with one another.

The tone is pleasant.

The biscuit maker and I, we belong.

I miss my mama and my daddy at Christmas.

I’ll be attentive to who they may have been had they been allowed to be here still.

My daddy would be talking with the biscuit maker, mama too.

She’d be joining in.

She’d know right away why the biscuits were “too flaky”, what the chef had done wrong with the dough.

The gentlemen are talking behind me now,

I’ll gather my tray and go.

Give them a nod, have a good day.

They’ll wish me the same I believe.

Now I go, I go in peace towards Christmas.

Peace and Us

We held hands in the foyer and prayed and the closing words to Jesus were that we’d be like light, peace in the places we go, that the peace we know we’d hold in the rooms we’re in with others.

That we’d bring light.

How does your light shine?

I ask myself this morning.

Is it sporadic?

Does it dim

And then annoy with incessant flashing

Like harassment

Like hurry?

How does your light shine?

Is it steady?

Inviting?

To be depended on to welcome back in

to a place of peace?

Does it say

Peace is here?

How does your light shine?

Is it left untended to

To die without power

Without the source for burning?

Does it stay so close knowing it can never shine on its own?

How does your light shine?

What is hiding

Showing?

Is it certain like a promise

Dependable like home?

How does your light shine, your peace, your gaze towards hope, your soft assurance of what you know?

Others will see, others will know and seek.

Peace, peace like the light you bring.

Peace, light and love.

Believe.

Peace is for us.

“O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Sunday.

Tiny Stars and Light

The dog is most content. The laundry is waiting, the errands not even yet listed.

Morning is moving slowly and yet, soon, too quickly for all I need to do.

I’m aware of the need to accomplish a bunch of things.

Instead, I sit. I ponder.

Look beside you, glance around.

What do you see that’s idyllic?

Like playing “I Spy” to occupy your toddler, what’s in your world that’s only beauty?

Idyllic?

Charmingly simply.

I have books on my shelf that I once turned in direction, only the buff colored pages showing, no idea which book was which.

Back then, I found it clean and easy.

Not busy,

Now, I’m looking over and the sun is making stripes on the titles, like an abstract painting as the morning comes in.

Idyllic.

Framed photos next to me are dotted with the reflection of lights on the tree.

Last night the stars were sprinkled the same.

Vast sky, tiny brightness.

The puppy is at peace, he is my anchor begging me stay still.

Stay.

I am thinking of the waking thought God gave and the words of a friend yesterday.

Before praying I remembered the words to a peppy southern gospel song.

God will make a way for His children just like He did when He parted the sea.

I got out of bed to calm the shrill bark of the pup and quickly turned back to kneel and pray first.

Thanked God for wise friends who reminded me of His good will and gave my concerns for others needing beautiful surprises, resolutions to unexpected problems.

Left them there.

Coffee in hand, warm in the “You are My Sunshine” mug.

How can I not see the light?

I have been rescued, been blessed.

Reading less, thinking more.

I should hurry. I rest.

My coffee is now cold and still I just sit. I’m watching the patterns the sun is making on the throw pillows the chairs.

Beautiful. This beauty in December on a Friday.

The room is now daylight so I’ll switch off the lights on the tree, I have no centerpiece for the table and stockings are not yet hung.

Maybe today I’ll finish.

Not lazy, just making allowances to be okay with less than perfect.

To be content with simply okay.

To be well. To be at peace.

Look around you. Find light today and give it more than just a second.

Treasure it.

Christmas is not a competition.

Allow the buzz of activity and social media and traffic to continue all around you.

Engage on occasion.

But, then rest and rest some more and consider.

Consider your life a gift, a gift because of a baby in a manger.

Imagine the flurry of activity around the new baby, the excitement, the panic, the questions.

Mary rested and considered the miracle of Jesus.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More like Mary I’m hoping to be, Christmas this year, in me.

Looking for light in little things and small places, reminding me of tiny stars on a long ago evening.

I’m fascinated by the charmingly simple things now.

The less than spectacular photos shared by others draw me in.

Less covetous of the grandeur of others. Show me a photo of the “little in your life”, the way the light is landing where you love to live.

These are the compelling stories to me, the little places inviting ❤️ or a comment.

Light in. Let it. Join me in looking.

Meeting hope there.

Where We Walk

…and in thee too, while thou knowest it not, God shall be glorified. E.B Pusey

We ventured out differently, not sure the sun was warm enough for walking.

I carried my granddaughter in my arms and adjusted from one side to the other, her weight as we walked.

We covered the perimeter of the land that surrounds her home, all the way to the front of the home valley to the long length of shaded space beside and then turned back towards inside, the front porch welcome back home.

From a distance it was beautiful, I walked slowly avoiding large flat places where cacti lay and stepping gingerly over the little hills, the holes, the tiny valleys covered in grassy hay and straw.

We walked slowly, quietly, calm.

Elizabeth was still, interested as I talked to God and myself. She listened to my random observations of life and leaves and how blue the sky was.

We were noticing God.

On the edge of the field, the most brilliant of color caught my eye, a cluster of yellow amongst all the bare branches of what I think I’m remembering held pink plums in the summer.

Now empty except for this glory.

His glory.

Brilliant late beauty not killed by the cold.

How was your 2019?

I woke with the thought mine was monumental, the change, the choices, the transitions.

I hadn’t realized the truth of this until I numbered the reasons.

Then it all made sense, this feeling of the cusp of new, this current lull in nothingness.

I believe I’m in the season of growth with all the growth still unseen, not evident to the human of me.

I’m always afraid I misuse words so I googled “monumental” and affirmed my thoughts were true.

2019 was a monumental year for me. I thought maybe this is God’s reason to now shift to living momentarily or “momentously”.

Thinking be satisfied in the moments now, don’t aspire to great big life shifting ambitions.

Again, checking my use of word, I was met with surprise, “momentous” I had all wrong, very different than only living in the moment.

Alright.

All right, really.

mo·men·tous
/mōˈmen(t)əs,məˈmen(t)əs
adjective
  1. (of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.

Reflecting now, God is confirming boldly for me, one who loves words, things have been happening under the surface, deep in your spirit, my spirit in you that you do not yet fully know.

You’re getting closer though. God

Beginning to believe that it is so.

That you are known and

you are worthy of my love.

The years before are simply seeds that needed sifting, needed dormant seasons, needed to lay fallow for a reason,

needed to die to live again.

I believe this.

Are you in a lull that you question? Is where God has you insignificant from your view?

Asking, is this all there’s meant to be for me?

It may be so and that’s the reason for long walks and discovering seemingly insignificant things like yellow leaves.

We simply don’t know, we just keep walking to the place called “we will see”.

We will see.

I’ve added back to my circle today one prayer I thought I’d prayed way too much.

Have you felt that way? Thought after months of the same unanswered question, I’ve asked enough, I’ve told God more than He wants to know, I’m maybe even annoying Him.

I’ve prayed and He knows, I’ll move on…

I’ll let that prayer alone.

No, I’ve decided to pray it again, to ask for God’s help but with a different tone.

I’ll ask with an expectant spirit anticipating a brilliant “we shall see” surprise, an answer that says I’m cherished.

God’s reply, unknown to me when or how. I’ll be cherishing it because I am cherished as is the one for whom I’m making my steady request.

Pray believing.

If you believe in prayer at all, expect God to hear you. If you do not expect, you will not have. God will not hear you unless you believe He will hear you; but if you believe He will, He will be as good as your faith. Charles Spurgeon

Believe

Continue and believe.

Momentous days are now, the brilliance is coming!

Where Words Live

“The sower sows the word.” Jesus

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Someone held my journal in her hand yesterday, one of hundreds gone before.

She needed to list the children’s names for Christmas drawing for gift exchange.

I found a blank page past three or four written in and I let her hold my journal, the place where my current words are dwelling.

Imagined how I’d feel if she turned back a few pages and found my mornings’ words.

Lament, praise, self-criticism and supplication to God, all script and drawings expressing my very private hopes.

I’ve just read an intimate sharing, ten or so sentences in a poem.

The poet, according to his bio, leaves his short pieces in a variety of places.

He writes honestly.

About life, love, death, a menagerie of meaningfully derived pieces.

He is a doctor, a poet, a brilliant writer.

His written word resides in a variety of places, publications.

I paused at the call for submissions, quickly told myself no, you’re too harried in your writing hopes. Simplify, just live with one hope, to write stories of redemption, of being certain strength is the result of not giving up on hope.

If your words had a dwelling place, what would it be?

A gated mansion where people pay good money just to peruse?

A sought after invitation to be allowed a closeup view, maybe to sit amongst the words, even have an open book on their lap? A famous place?

Or would your words be in a tiny space found at the end of an overgrown field, a place that is shielded by years of unnoticed knowing?

Would the little place where your words live be a thrill to visit, your guest realizing they’re in on the discovery of a secret?

Where would you say your words would be found growing?

I read a famous person’s Twitter post offering up thanks to her thousands of followers and how it all began seventeen years ago on her blog.

I realized she’s no longer a blogger. She must be one of those who knows blogging is so over, who reads a blog anyway?

I’ve decided I can be selfish with my words, like my paintings, they’re my very own babies.

I’m inclined to keep the window closed, locked tight and curtained, the one that lets my light out to the great big world, let’s the light of others in.

I’m careful with my contributions to the writing community.

Selfish, I realize.

These words are mine that are often too heavy for even my own heart’s sharing.

I don’t jump at the chance to be chosen quite so much as before.

I’ll let my words keep living here, safe, friendly, the readers who read them.

This vague and not prolifically named place. Not easily found, not optimized for the seeker.

This quiet place emerging at a snail’s pace is the place of my writing, consistently an intimate expression.

Expression a stranger might read and decide they can relate.

Blogging may no longer be important, there may be a different set of aspiring writer rules.

I’ve grown weary of the unending advice or writing advisers.

It is hard to keep up.

I’m either naive or unteachable, stubborn or afraid of failure, uncomfortable with success.

Who’s to say?

It’s all about perspective.

My perspective, my eye for life and love, my ideas uniquely formed about redemption, about my assurance of heaven,

My faith.

None of these can be duplicated and this is the reason.

Writing is selfish.

Selfish in a sweet and honest, sometimes very raw causing the reader to pause way.

I’ve read blog posts like this.

Occasionally I’ve written one.

Say your prayers, I tell myself, let your thoughts get to forming words, type them out or scrawl them down.

May they keep being true.

May you be okay with the not so famous place they settle or are shared.

May the words of my heart find the reader who needs them.

This is my goal, my prayer, my less than spectacular ambition.

Go slowly. Simplify. Keep going. Share what you know about fear, trauma and shame and now, redemption, about Jesus. Go and tell, you’ll know where. Your life is a parable only you can tell.

“And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What’s your parable this morning?

Mine goes like this. The room this morning early is simply lit by the lights on the tree at end of the couch. The big puppy is resting his head on my lap. The coffee is strong and I’ve added real cream. I’m remembering the dream that I dreamed and how parts were upsetting and parts were reminders. I have yet to open my Bible or my journal and pen. This morning, I had a thought about blogging, about sharing and about simplicity. I sense God keeping me here, intent on that idea, write simply. I’m okay with that although it reeks of insignificance based on lofty expectations birthed by following others.

I’m dwelling in my morning spot, the place of being okay with waiting. I’ll continue my Advent readings and I’ll stop fearing not trying.

Waiting Here for You – An Advent Journey of Hope

I’ll wait for Christmas now. I’ll wait patiently for God to lead my words to places He made them to go.

Here, in spoken places and in hearts changing like mine.

Content in our redemption.

Our stories becoming God’s parables of hope.

Hard stories softened because of Jesus.

Like this one I have stored up:

I watched a man be baptized yesterday morning. His expression was all his, the way the moment of his decision to live differently was unable to be kept hidden. I watched him lift his arms to hold the hands of the one baptizing him up to his chest. His forearms painted completely in ink. He said something about his decision that was so covered in his emotion no one could know. I watched the face of this man rising from the water and I watched the face of the one baptizing. I felt it all, the grandeur in their strong embrace. I saw and felt redemption and I once again, remembered my own.

This man’s story, story of redemption and the Jesus we both know.

Similar in some ways, redemptive in all.

Abiding in love.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Keep sowing.

Very Sure

The sky this morning makes me certain.

Certain of God.

The sky, barely sunlit, so soft this morning makes me certain that God is intentional.

Look up, Lisa. Refer to me for the day’s instruction.

A soft beckoning, a reminder of grace.

Yes, I’ve decided, the way of creation is intentional.

The decay of old underfoot making what God’s nature intends for new.

The sky so big, so wide, so deeply open to interpret.

So soft this morning

On purpose.

Look. Look again.

And then again.

Grace is still for you.

Be hopeful today.

Look forward to the turning, the next bend in your road that’s not lonely at all.

Rather, open to optimal reflection.

Ease your mind, there’s still time.

The way of your steps bordered by steady and unrelenting grace.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I made heaven and earth. I’ve got you covered, nurtured, safe and hemmed in by mercy. I’m everywhere. Don’t forget to notice.

God

Give Happy

Today I read the final chapter of the book of Colossians and I’m moved by what Paul wrote.

Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18 ESV

I suppose he wanted all who had been with him as he preached from place to place.

To remember,

My life has not always been this way. There was a lot of horror in my before.

I’m almost done with “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman

I crawl into bed, thinking I’ll finish and slumber steals my attention. I decide I want to be fully awake when I read the happy ending!

Maybe I’ll finish today before the holiday dinner, I’ll sit lit by sunshine and I’ll finish the good book.

Yesterday, I returned to a familiar place. I stepped towards the counter for customer service and I struggled through my transaction.

I turned from the counter and saw an acquaintance at the end of the closing time line.

My eyes met her smile and I rolled my eyes, nodded and mouthed “grouchy!”.

The customer service lady with such a beautiful and unusual name never smiles at me.

She looks at me as if I’m inconvenient. She hurries me, demands my answers to the every customer questions.

Her appearance never changes, faded blue uniform shirt, thick old glasses and her hair in a topknot that never does its job.

Her mottled soft grey hair has fallen out of place, the topknot doesn’t hold it all together.

I decide I’d like to see her smile and then I imagine this is Eleanor, her looks are what Eleanor’s would be I allow myself to believe.

I long to see her smile even though she kind of scares me.

Her mood is so palpable, I wonder is it contagious?

Maybe.

I don’t know.

Do I come back with more packages?

Do I stop sending my art?

Is this what the customer service lady is saying, am I not an artist?

Such is the scare of trauma. The most ridiculous interactions are triggers, are mood and mind changers.

So, I mouth “grouchy” to my friend’s daughter as a warning.

Be prepared. Hold on to your happy.

I sit in the parking lot and I wonder what would happen if I asked,

Why are you so unhappy?

Today, Thanksgiving morning, I sit in silence and leave the lamp off. I gaze towards the dining room/kitchen, to the wall that’s a busy collection.

Feathers, photos and notes.

Old pictures of smiling children, still here mamas, daddies and grandparents. Times of celebration seem so close they may as well be today.

That’s how the view makes me feel.

Happy.

I think again about the topknot lady. I wonder how she’d take it if the next time I’m next in line, I asked her,

What makes you so happy?

And then look her in the eye and be strong in my grace, my love and my mercy.

And say Thanks and walk away, leaving her at least with that thought.

What makes me so happy?

Give happy.

Give thanks for it.

Later I’ll finish the Eleanor story, the one that I’m almost at the end, keep flipping to the chapter “Better Days”.

The story of giving love to someone complicated and unlovable, closed off and shelled up because of unspeakable trauma, chains.

The story of one accepting the warmth of another’s long suffering hand.

See, I love the story of Eleanor Oliphant; but, it’s Raymond in the book who makes me happy.

Remember what kept you in chains today and then remember the hands that set you free.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Give happy today.