Nearer This Year

Christmas, contentment, Faith, hope, Peace, Stillness, Vulnerability, wonder

“So now wrap your heart tightly around the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps his promises!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭TPT‬‬

More than one person has agreed with me, “I’m putting up my Christmas tree early this year.”

Like the leaves changing and popping out brilliant colors, Winter comes and with it, Christmas.

With Christmas, hope.

Witt hope, peace on earth, in our homes.

Hope anyway and always.

Draws us nearer to Jesus in the quiet place of hoping for better, intentionally making the holidays more about God’s gift to us than whether we’ll have gifts for others.

So, maybe decorate early. Sit in the silent evening. Consider your tree as you remember the rugged cross.


“Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.” Fannie Crosby

Happy Sunday.

Continue and believe.

Paths of Our Choosing

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, freedom, grandchildren, Peace, Redemption, testimony, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I’m remembering just now, my grandmother took us all walking. The cousin weekend retreat always included a walk on the curvy clay road.

How had it not realized the resemblance until now…the deep ditches covered in growth, the ditches we’d jump in and stand still like statues until the old truck passed by?

My grandmother commanding, “Hit the Ditch”.

How we remember becomes how we see.

I’m reading two new books, one fiction the other non. One discovered and one recommended, “Sugar Birds” by Cheryl Bostrom and “Your Stories Don’t Define You” by Sarah Elkins.

Barely into either, I am learning.

Ideas like telling your story to and through others and the power of memories we give ourselves permission to explore more deeply, building a better story.

When my granddaughter and I walk, we sing a little song about staying safely in the middle and we’ve made a game of jumping over roots instead of getting tangled.

Yet, when I walk alone, the neighborhood walking trail or the sharp turn on the busy road, I’m less cautious, in a way a stubborn walker.

The trail is disrupted by large old roots. I walk swiftly and keep on even though on a few occurrences the toe of my shoe butts up against the thick branch and I catch myself from falling face first.

It occurs to me it’s a stubborn resilience, this choice.

It occurs to me now I choose the dangerous path because I’ve decided it’s still my assignment to not be defeated by it.

Later, I’ll walk the trail and I’ll will myself off the broken up paved path and step aside to walk a few steps on the soft grass.

I can give myself permission to choose softer, I can decide to be welcome there, the place of choosing easy over hard, peace in regards to my past instead of handicap.

Be well today.

Enjoy your new path.

Being Still and Waiting

confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, hope, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

On day 22 of the month of October I compare translations of Psalm 46:10.

Psalm 46 begins with a promise. I’ve begun saying, “God, you know all about this.” as a way to wait for resolution, acceptance or change in troubling situations.

Because God knows. God is in control. God is good even when we don’t see eye to eye on things.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Another passage reminds me that God knows me, knows my questions, knows my thoughts, is aware of my waiting, even more so my worries.

I am reminded He knows me, called me to be near.

Summoned me.

Most translations of Isaiah 43:1 use the word “called”. The New International Version prefers “summoned”.

Imagine you being called back home from a distance. Maybe someone spots you in a large crowd, a concert or fair. You’ve gotten separated and your circles haven’t circled back.

You hear your name and you look to find the voice. Again, again your name is called, begging you to come back or at least let me know where you are.

That you’re safe.

Or imagine a child in a department store, wandered away as you look for a size or color. You look up and they’re gone. You call frantically, you rush from aisle to aisle, oblivious to the glare of onlookers as you call your baby’s name.

Finally, you’re reunited.

You try to contain your emotions, you try not to let your desperate fear be bigger than the relief of the sweet reunion.

I believe it’s this way when we forget God has the whole world in His hands, that He can be trusted, that He is for us.

I believe that even when all is not okay and there’s no changing it, we’re still better if we don’t slip away and try to rescue ourselves from sadness and distress.

Piling anxious questions on top of what’s already mysterious, forgetting He’s fighting for us, always has, always will.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I sketched a figure in the margin of Isaiah’s words. I added “Fear not.” to the words already pencilled there,

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Created me, called me, redeemed me.

Be still simply means wait.

Waiting with hope or with acceptance that I may wait without knowing all.

Waiting while believing.

Continue and believe.

Remember, He knows.

Being Unknown

Advent, Art, bravery, Christmas, confidence, courage, Faith, fear, grace, hope, Prayer, rest, Vulnerability, writing

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Barely awake, I opened my email account. Scrolled past random messages from people, groups, companies I don’t know.

Rather than swiping to delete, I took a bolder step. I unsubscribed. Many of these emails are about writing, about platform, about getting published. They land in my inbox with the greeting of either “Lisa” or “friend”.

Naively, I once thought they were interested in me, my writing, my ideas.

Because, I’m a combination of starry eyed optimist and strategic thinker.

I’ve always believed if I follow the guide, if I understand the steps, the result will be whatever I pursue.

It’s just not the case and it’s disheartening to hope that a stranger who I gave my email address is going to guide me, be my advocate.

So, not with bitterness or any bad feelings towards these groups, I unsubscribed.

I’m going into seeking to be a published author sort of hiatus.

I’m gonna let my writing hopes get the underground growth in the roots of my ideas. I’m gonna pray more than voraciously read experts’ steps. I’m not shredding my draft or proposal nor my hopes.

Just letting them breathe on their own for just a bit.

Because it’s not rejection that I fear as much as before, it’s the striving to be noticed, to see results of my effort, to stand in Target beaming with my book in my hand in a selfie for Instagram.

Yeah, that’s why I’m letting it rest.

I’ve thrown the dice of my idea towards a few agents and publishers.

For now, I’m loving smaller ideas. Being influential in the lives of others albeit in obscurity in terms of what some of these now unsubscribed emails promised me.

Because, early this morning I got this message from a friend:

“I hope you understand how people see, respect and admire you.” Ray V.

I replied “Thank you.” thinking this is enough for now, more than enough.

Then I thought of coming Christmas and just like that, an idea, Advent prayer cards for either Christmas decorations, gifts, or for thoughtful meditation.

I sketched a pear, added the number 7 and referred to my Advent tradition book, “Waiting Here for You, An Advent Journey of Hope” by Louie Giglio. I saw that Day 7 asks us to consider the value of giving rather than receiving.

Found the photo of my granddaughter’s first Christmas and said to myself, these are things of great significance, waiting quietly rather than striving and offering what I can to others in hopes they do the same.

Please comment if you’d be interested in an Advent Set of illustrated cards. I need to know if there’s interest in my idea or just another of my many ideas. Cost will be under $20. If you’d like to view other art, visit here http://lisaannetindal.me

Tasting Mercy

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, eating disorder, Faith, freedom, hope, mercy, Peace, Redemption, Salvation, Stillness, testimony, Vulnerability, wisdom, writing

Remember when you refused to say “diet”, instead lifestyle or good choices for my health? Maybe you’ve counted calories, drank smooshed up vegetables in a pretty glass, restricted cream and sugar in your coffee.

All in an effort to be well, to be satisfied with yourself, body and soul.

Yesterday, I gazed at the casserole dish of cheesy baked spaghetti my daughter made. I remembered the day I would’ve gone for thirds, if by myself eat the rest of it.

I let the memory help me, I let it fade into the shadows. I left it there.

I woke up early unnecessarily today. I prayed beside my bed that God would help me keep learning, keep listening, keep strengthening my spiritual health.

I see the word prompt for today is “taste”. Rather than think of passages like kind words being sweeter than honey or tasting and seeing that the goodness of the Lord is good.

I rested for a few minutes, soaking up a passage I never tire of,

The passage about the woman who’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years and had gone broke trying to get well, to find a solution to her blood saturated clothing.

The crowd was thick. She could get close to Jesus without being noticed. She did. She touched the hem of his robe and instantly everything changed. She got well.

Jesus knew it. Knew she was there. Knew she was desperate and called her out from her chosen obscurity, her hope to keep herself secret.

“When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your garment I would be healed.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:47‬ ‭TPT‬‬

All eyes and ears were on her then, Jesus didn’t just heal her, He gave her the voice to invite healing for others.

I haven’t thought of it this way until today.

Others see and hear us. See how we’ve changed and keep seeking to be healed.

On Sunday (isn’t Sunday always okay tomorrow I start the diet day?) I considered doing Whole30 again.

The diet that restricts certain foods as a way for you to learn what is specifically not good for you is work. It takes effort, makes you feel like a brave fighter or a competitive something or other.

But, there’s no cheese allowed, no cream in my coffee, no chocolate, no red wine, no bread, no sugar, no peanut butter (!!!). The “no” list is long.

Earlier this week, I embraced a friend in a funeral home. I didn’t expect to hear her words through tears. I just know they surprised me, sweetly and certainly she spoke.

“I’m gonna need you.” she said before I spoke a word. On the way to this visitation I almost decided against I decided I’d offer myself as a person to call.

I’d tell her “If you run out of friends to call or no one’s available, you can always call me.”

You see, we know each other but not dining together or visiting each other’s home sort of friends.

Her greeting me with “I’m gonna need you.” surprised me and then it didn’t.

This thing called blogging, posting what God tells me on Instagram, this sharing of sitting on the sofa sketches at night, this creative thing God so graciously made me to do.

It has an audience of listeners, seekers, “needers” like me.

It’s just me being vulnerably, being honestly me.

My “sermons to self” sometimes become hopeful words for others, I suppose.

I pray this anyway.

So, on this chilly quiet morning, I make myself breakfast. I don’t skip it thinking I’ll eat later. I am intentional with starting the day filled with possibilities and errands well.

I take the English muffin top and toss it. I like the bread, but I just choose the bottom. I add sharp cheddar to the egg white and turkey sausage and let the broiler make it bubbly. I add a dollop of cherry preserves to balance the savory. I place it on the pretty china.

I sit and enjoy it.

Like I told my friend who is grieving and I continue to tell others and myself,

“Take it easy on yourself.”

Offer as much mercy you’ve shown others to yourself.

Cease striving, seek wellness.

Be humble when convicted, but don’t punish yourself, don’t let bitter regret or self-hate simmer.

Continue and believe.

Believe you’re fearfully and wonderfully made and so fully known and loved.

Be well. It is well.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thank you for sustaining me Lord, for keeping me well, for reminding me of what harms and what helps me, what makes me a beautiful offering, a vessel to pour out new life, love and listening. Thank you for showing me gently what limits my abilities, takes me from your Spirit. I am listening. I am learning. Thank you. Because of your mercy, Amen

Find Rest

Art, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, grace, Holy Spirit, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

I designed a notecard from a watercolor. The cover is an abstract landscape with soft coral, blue, earthy green and a touch of thick gold.

My technique has been described as flowing, comforting and sometimes subtle, others vivid, the colors.

I like to say it’s “just giving and taking away”.

Inside the card are three words

“Return to rest.”

Today, the writing prompt is “effort”.

I thought of how grace isn’t effort based, us being the recipient of this gift, but relationship with God often asks us to continue seriously, our seeking and knowing more fully.

Yesterday, I stood outside and opened my palm and prayed.

I asked God to help me sense His Spirit, develop such a closeness to Jesus in me that I hear His gentle voice

That I heed His teaching, am sure of my direction.

That I give and take away in the same way that He does. In this effort, not a hopeful change; but in this serious attempt I will better know my Savior.

I will better know what to pursue and what to let fade away.

May my greatest effort not be a blank canvas that invites color, words spoken or on a page.

May my most important effort be to know my God better and in this way

Know peace. Know rest.

Return to rest.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

(Notecards and other art available at http://www.lisaannetindal.me )

Unashamed

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, fear, kindness, praise, Prayer, rest, Vulnerability

“Be kind to yourself.”

Continue and Believe

In my career days of meeting with those bereaved by suicide, these were my words, “Take it easy on yourself.”

Same with women who acknowledged mistakes and were trying to move past them, without their pasts causing shame.

Years later, I’m still saying to others and mostly to myself, “Be kind to yourself.”

This morning my mind goes back to the ugly work of shame.

Shame, when you feel unworthy, humiliated, powerless is an internal emotion tied to a circumstance or behavior.

Strangely, it’s a feeling we decide on, either because we have the sense we shouldn’t feel a certain way or we’ve felt that way for what we decide has been too long.

I thought of a feeling, a sadness I was convinced I shouldn’t have and I told myself embrace it, acknowledge its understandable place in your life now and most of all,

Understand that acknowledgement brings healing.

Talking to God about it and at least one other listening friend is freeing.

Denying sadness, fear or hurt because we convince ourselves we shouldn’t feel them only adds injury to the loosely bandaged wound.

Pretending stunts healing, numbs the work and wonder of God’s purpose in our acceptance of the circumstances we wish were not ours.

The hard things we deny being still hard only harden us.

Don’t be afraid to be honest with God. He knows anyway.

Refuse to be ashamed of your feelings.

Last week, I communicated with a stranger about anxiety and depression. It helped me to offer help to her. It helped me to hear the familiar words, “I usually just keep this to myself.”

Nothing shall hurt you.
That’s a big, hard to fathom promise. It follows the reminder of the power within us, prayer and connecting with God’s spirit in us, even as Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven.

This morning, I got a text from someone I only know by phone, asking about counseling for anxiety and depression. I gave her a list of people I know and added “I understand and my weapons are patience with myself and prayer and more prayer and more prayer.”

Because, if we get tangled up in why am I depressed or anxious we’re only piling on more anxiety and depression.

When we pour it all out in prayer, the scary, sad or lonely question, we invite the power of God in.

We get better this way or we seek counseling and possible medication.

Either way, we grow when we know ourselves, can see it coming for good reason or out of nowhere. We employ our faith, we add to it as needed.

I found this verse by what I thought was accident this morning. No accident though, there are no coincidences or lucky discoveries with God.

He knows all about this.” is another phrase, a tool against anxiety or depression that I employ.


Continue and believe.

Be kind to yourself, unashamed.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More Than Pretty Words

bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, family, freedom, grace, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, testimony, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, writing

It occurred to me as I thought of today’s prompt, “trust”, that so many of the words we use may be less powerful, more pretty, even cliche.

Trust is a word I write every morning, some days God follows with a bold period and often underlined.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Trust.

I start the day with this written commitment. Still, some days it’s nothing more than a pleasant hope, a halfhearted decision to remember God is my Father and I am His child.

I can trust Him.

Even if trusting humanly is a challenge for me, an established avoidance or cynical pattern.

I can decide to trust God.

Words like trust, faith, redemption, and salvation are powerful and unchanging words.

They are the fruit of our Creator’s character and intent for us.

They are God’s covenant.

“Promise”, another word we hold loosely when we consider it from human experience, is just as valuable, a weighty word.

Today, I will trust God. I will know and cherish words like trust, faith, mercy, grace, freedom, salvation, healing, and peace.

I’ll embrace these words tightly, held and certain like a child being cradled in the strong arms of a parent.

“I am carrying you.” God

He keeps His promises.

He gives joy, trust, patience.

We’re not able on our own to sustain these.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Be Where You Are

confidence, contentment, Faith, family, grace, hope, Peace, Serving, wonder
Joy and Strength Enduring

This is the thought that came as I roused from sleep on this splendid Saturday.

Be where you are.

The writing prompt graphic for today’s word, “temporary” has a clock in the background.

How is it I’ve never thought of time as temporary, hadn’t considered just how temporary every unique moment, hour, day or month is?

Yes, be where you are today. Adding ribbons to Christmas ornaments, painting on paper the image of Jesus carrying a child, spending time with those I love.

Not just being there, being with.

Giving out grace and good in everything in a way that says

“Thank you, God it was and is and will always be yours. Amen.”

“Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭74:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Treasures

Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, Faith, grandchildren, hope, Peace, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, writing
Crayons and Cardinals

Today’s prompt word, “Treasure” was on my mind bright and early on the country road.

The humidity hanging on a couple more days made my windshield foggy and the road ahead a misty haze.

I switch from dim to bright, to see clearly up close or farther ahead but blurry, I kept trying to decide.

A little or closer to seeing all.

I notice few other morning travelers. I drive slowly, no obnoxious impatient people behind me. No approaching lights undimmed on one of the many curves.

I can’t decide if I’m old or more careful, more slow or more cognizant of what I’ve committed to, what’s required of me.

I chose music over words and a Pandora station different than other mornings.

A song I’d never heard nor the artist led my morning on. Simple words.

A treasure, the refrain.

“I don’t have much to give. But, I give you my beating heart.”

A song about what matters to God, how so very little is so very much.

I won’t despise the day of small things. (Zechariah 4:10)

I thought of a surprising conversation yesterday. I’d asked an agent in a zoom call whether self-publishing a children’s book gives credibility to an author seeking to publish adult nonfiction traditionally.

There was no “Oh, tell me about your book” or an approving nod that says you’re on the right track.

No, neither of those, none of that.

Only, “only mention your book if your sales have been 5000 books.”

Oh.

Well, good to know, I suppose.

I love “Look at the Birds”, every single word, every color on the pages, every thought that clicked to birth the story and illustrations.

I felt a mixture of naivety and betrayal. Familiar thoughts.

This is when I remember my husband says I’m prone to believing life is a fairy tale.

Maybe or maybe just hopeful.

My heart beat a little faster yesterday when I saw a friend had my book on her coffee table. My soul welled up this morning when my granddaughter said “my Jesus, your Jesus too.”

Like the foggy barely lit road of morning, we see just enough to know the smallest treasured thing is the thing that brings the flutter of a heart well known, well loved and treasured.

Follow your heart for direction more than your misguided ideas of being known, seen or valuable.

“For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:21‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Know what matters. Songs in the early private morning, a crayon in the hand of a child, a conversation with a friend who sat close by, listened and understood.

Treasures. All of them.

Continue and believe.