Sort of Knowing

There’s a sort of knowing we only sort of believe and mostly for others.

Most people who at their core believe in a Sovereign God still aren’t always sure that they know.

Back when I sat with families who were numbed by another’s choice to die, a gunshot, pills, or suffocation from hanging, I wanted to talk about God but I didn’t.

I did pray for them without them knowing and I wanted them to stop struggling, stop searching, stop aching over what they didn’t prevent.

Difficult to articulate. I wanted them to have the comfort that something they’d never understand was understood by God.

I wanted them to believe that God knows. That things that come to fruition or never come true, we are not to know.

We can believe, always believe

God knows.

God know us.

I take a pencil every morning and I make sways and lines on paper. I add a lean one way or the other, a simple bob with bangs or a low bun.

The figures represent what God has told me. I don’t call them angels. Others do.

Yesterday, I wrote about waking thoughts and why I believe they’re important, God’s promises.

Today, I said something in my bedside talk with God.

Thank you for my salvation.

Because I have a way of shame-laced praying in which I grovel at God’s feet, as if to say well I don’t know why you love me, did you see I almost did that again, one thing or other…

God’s not that way. He waits for us to see Him, know and believe Him.

These female forms are becoming the evidence of this for me.

A calendar currently being finished up will have one for each month with a sentiment and a verse.

On Friday, I came up with an answer to a question from the buyer of a painting.

What is the story of the girls?

The calendar will have an “About the Artist” inset. I’ve never used the wording and then I realized, this is my Mission Statement.

I emailed the printer:

I’m still contemplating cover image.

Could this be added to the back?

The Artist’s Story

Colorful images of girls in gowns began to develop in the margins of my Bible a few years ago. If reading in the Psalms, a joyful figure would be drawn and shaded softly. If I found myself reading again and again the story of Jesus healing a woman from lasting illness, defending one against attack or comforting one who’d almost given up, I added a reminder to myself, these are the same places Jesus found me, finds us all, brings healing.

I write and paint as a way to convey what I call “Quiet Confidence”, the evidence of strength and hope. Find me at https://quietconfidence-artandword.blog

Isaiah 30:15

Lisa Anne Tindal

Sent from my iPhone

With art, writing, living…there is mystery. There are peaks and valleys. Death and birth. Win and loss.

I take comfort in the truth, what I now believe, not just hope.

I believe I am known.

God longs to have us all know.

When there’s nothing we truly know and when we’re blown away by the truth of what He knows.

I swore I’d never sketch in my Bible.

Not me, prim and fearful church raised girl just hoping to be enough.

He knows.

He knew.

Setting up Shop

I’ve added a product page to accept orders notecards and art.

Just shared this on FB .

Christmas Cards are ready for orders! Please visit the site below as I’ve set up a way to receive orders, collect payment and most importantly, be organized! When you visit this link, you’ll see a place to order. Depending on the number of cards you’d like, you’ll need to scroll to the bottom and you’ll see an arrow that will take you to the “product” page for each size order. Let me know if this is confusing…I’m a work in progress, y’all!

These are the cards in the set.

Deeper Still

I kept my promise to myself this summer although the plan for the big reveal just didn’t come true.

I feared the worst thing that made absolutely no sense.

What if I can’t feel my way back to safety? What if I hit bottom and lose my breath? What if I’m left to figure it out on my own, panic and struggle and cause my own deadly distress?

I practiced in private. Well, just the instructor/husband and I. The scenario I planned, on my birthday my children would come over and we’d grill burgers and then I’d surprise them as they sat by the pool.

They’d see I was able. I had overcome my fear of diving into the deep end.

Other plans played out, my birthday was good but not the “big reveal”.

The accomplishment was more private, I believe it was better that way. Mine to treasure.

Now, it’s Autumn and the kitchen window is open to welcome cool air as I sit with my Bible, thinking about God’s call to deep.

There’s a verse in the Book of Acts that describes this beckoning I’m feeling.

This quiet acceptance of slow growth after my baptism, like roots spreading underneath, necessary for solid strength, I sense the preparing of this stronger me.

This one who is going deeper still in the sharing of my story, my perspective on this often discussed Jesus, the Son of God, waiting for all the skeptics, doubters, intellects and risk takers to dive in to the simplicity of grace.

To feel their way towards heaven.

There must have been masses of deep thinkers bent on proving Paul wrong back then.

They listened and he kept speaking.

He knew his place was simply to share his story of change. His understanding of God, of Jesus.

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭17:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Aren’t we all just “feeling our way” towards the unknown and knowable God?

When I stood on the edge of the pool, my toes gripping the edge, body bent towards the water and practicing the rocking type motion that would give me the push

I was scared.

Scared of the same irrational thing, what if I get to the bottom and I can’t come back up.

“What happens when I am that deep?” I asked my husband.

He always answered, same way, he gave me step by step instructions and I followed them and he says it wasn’t pretty; but, I did it.

I jumped/fell in and I did it again and again until I was satisfied.

I met my goal before my 59th birthday!

Symbolic for me, although I didn’t know it.

This has summer changed me, grown me.

Still growing. Letting the roots of assurance of what happened to me in the water take their time in spreading wide, making plans and breathing life into what may have otherwise dried up and withered.

My branches are reaching wider.

Feeling their way towards God.

To the water, the deeper end, bottomless pool filled with mercy and grace for those who take the chance, step from the edge, finally trusting we’ll be drawn up, face beaming, pure joy as we pop up!

Hallelujah, I have felt my way towards God!

Linking up with other Friday writers, prompted by the word “Deep”.

Read others’ take on it here:

Deep

God’s Peace, You are Free

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s exactly as surprising and joyous as they say, being a grandparent. Some may say, it’s what I’m learning, an infant requires of your attention, a full percent and it’s never a demand, it is a precious gift.

Complement it with an idyllic setting, open field, blue sky wide, leaves changing colors and a quilt on a back porch situated perfectly for a breeze.

I sing with abandon. She listens, smiles. The acoustics are so good. My voice carries. God is near.

Being a grandmother, big chunks of uninterrupted peace. My granddaughter is privy to God’s refining of me.

Perhaps, it’s her and God’s idea.

How can I keep from singing your praise?

I welcome the unlearning of the traumatized me, I acknowledge it may take a bit.

I envision clarity like a treasure I bring up to my chest or it’s a tug of war, the big mean boy grabbing at what’s mine and me, scared of being overpowered.

I used to give it away.

Now, I’m angry over its thieves.

My little bit of peace and clarity jerked from my arms and the aggressor running away, turned back towards me, sneering and laughing his ass off!

I’d have used asterisks for the s’s but I decided not to veil the truth of this thought and image, the abusive act of my peace being stolen.

In the dim light of day as a way of escape, a rescue for my hurting heart came this morning.

The answer?

All things are possible with God.

I thought it over and over.

This! This is real.

Not with self-care, not a new counselor, not a community or “tribe”, not a webinar or self-help book.

Not some instructor, well intentioned but profiting from my naive determination shadowed by doubt and discontent.

These are the things that draw me in, make me prey to promises only God and I together can fulfill.

Bold revelation, you may say.

When I write this way, I’m a little worried and then I decide someone else may need to explore this, this self-handicapping behavior, this lesson in knowing our weak places, being uncomfortable with settling there.

The closer we get to God’s gracious idea of us, the more miserable we are wearing any other garment or expression.

Clarity came and may be the less traveled road to peace.

This leg of my journey will lead to peace.

A rarely talked about truth for victims of trauma, I’ve heard it spoken many times by my kind and skilled counselor friend.

People return to negative patterns because this is familiar, this is safe. The sometimes unhealthy behaviors are the most fail-proof remedy we know.

Thankfully not return to allowing physical trauma, more the insidious spread of subtle abuses to self, the power of our thoughts, our mindsets that

Sabotage our freedom.

Compile all the days you lived under the thumb of something or someone, succumbing to the control, manipulation or unfair, cast aside treatment by something or someone.

The undoing doesn’t just happen like the snap of a finger and thumb.

Take it easy on you.

Then do two things, Lisa Anne.

Now that you understand what you’re doing, be grateful not debilitated, give yourself grace.

Stop seeking validation, support, or yet another conversation in which you expect another human to fully understand your distress.

It’s not possible and it’s not their place or fault.

Your wounds and your beautiful hopes are far too deeply layered for another human being to understand.

Something about early morning, God always speaks as if to say:

I filtered your fears overnight, here’s what’s left, the sure thing you must now know. All things are possible with me.

This place God has brought me to, saved me from, kept me safe…how on earth could I think it’s possible to continue on my own?

I jot the “Jabez prayer” every morning.

“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “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!” And God granted him his request.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Today, I added little check marks next the lines in the beginning: I’ve been blessed, check, I’ve had my territory enlarged, check!

The last two things, I am still very much in need of, keep your hand on me God, keep me from self-harm, the thoughts that betray me, so that I won’t revisit, get caught up in my pain.

You see, I spoke of newfound freedom, the choice to live with hope not remorse. I made it seem so easy.

Yet, I didn’t give a thought to the multiple layers of harm that very hope would have to fight daily with the devil to stay real every minute.

The one thing just a glimpse of freedom will give, a strong and renewed will to fight hard against repeated entrapment!

An awareness that it is hard not to be a victim when you were one for so long.

It is hard not to be who you were.

Almost impossible.

It’s easier to be weak and manipulated than to be newly strong.

I boasted of hope, forgot I am not able on my own.

God is my counselor, my advisor, my strong encourager of looking forward not before.

This is not a grim post, only honest. I’m afraid honesty’s in my bones, got that from my father, God rest his quiet soul.

I rise now to continue the things He started in me, blessed me, continues to enlarge my territory through happy brave opportunities.

I’ve designed a 2020 calendar, available soon, each month, an image of a woman strengthened by hope and God.

(Hope to share by next week, tell you more about ordering.)

Some told me they were proud of me, well intentioned comments and I suppose make sense.

What I’m doing though, is just following through on a God-planted seed, an idea, God’s work through me.

Please don’t be proud of me. Together, let’s be proud of God.

I rise now to clean my “art and writing room”, to ready it for what is possible today.

Are you a victim of trauma, physical or emotional abuse?

My thoughts…be strong, believe in your freedom; but, don’t walk it out alone, without the one who knows you completely, God.

“Jesus looked at them and said,

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Believe. Continue and believe.

Wonder, Full

Before he’d be going one way for the evening, I was preparing to go the other.

Walking the puppy, I noticed a feather.

We had a slight disagreement, nothing major. I reversed my car, felt the thump thump of something under.

I looked over and saw him, the look on his face saying, I’ll never fully understand her.

I had run over the garden hose.

He turned and I took off writing stories in my mind over the way God made me, makes us all.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

‭‭James‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I found myself teetering on the edge of despair, emotional discontentment.

He listened and tried to understand, to an extent he did; but, when he came to my defense it only added to my frustration.

Only God knows me fully.

The soul he created, His beautiful anticipation of me.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’ve barely and inconsistently scratched the surface that might give a glimpse of the me that God sees and knows.

I find it hard to believe.

I practice intention and notice, otherwise I get sullen over the lack of notice by all the others.

I’m digging deeper, understanding a child that’s not validated will strive the rest of their days for someone to tell them they matter.

It helps to know the reason.

I found a feather, pristine and soft. I left it beside his phone before leaving. The music serenaded my husband as he watered the lawn. Like a peace offering for what I’d done he saw as wrong.

I envisioned him finding it, knowing it was an unspoken apology.

I walked alone later, the cool air sending leaves a flutter. It was good, good to walk alone.

A tiny feather I found for me, white and edged with brown, I slipped it in my pocket.

I’d been researching angels, read that finding a white feather, some believe is the presence of an angel near.

I couldn’t help but think of my mama and her love of Willie Nelson.

The line from a song about a sad soul, too far from heaven, about to lose her way or not belonging in the place she’d landed.

Too far from heaven, too close to the dirty earth and ground, the feather I found.

Angel flying too close to the ground…Willie Nelson

Back home, I saw my husband had left on the counter, a pear or an apple?

I couldn’t be sure.

I washed the tiny feather, laid it on top of the brown fruit to dry.

I can’t be certain if it’s an apple or a pear, I’ll just wonder.

Not slice it.

The beauty of it on my kitchen counter is enough.

The message of simple things, forgiveness, offerings of peace, images and objects that cause for me, remembrance of God.

Remembering with wonder.

Full of wonder over all I don’t yet see.

I am made for so much more than what I present on the outside.

I’m more significant in the eyes of God because of the me only He sees.

When God made me.

He decided my significance.

Enough.

Validated me in a way no words, acceptance, praise or accomplishment can get close to in measure.

The measure of my worth?

That God made me.

There’s a million reasons to trust Him. He knows me fully and yet, loves me still.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

May my soul find your nearness and stay near, God. May I be ever aware of what’s unseen, the spirit of you, nearer, nearer in my natural realm.

Too wonderful to know, too wonderful not to believe in the possibility of.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Intersecting Neighbors

Barely into the morning, I walk with the baby, the dog in the lead, the narrow road so private, I can sing out loud, I look towards the sky.

My granddaughter smiles as she looks up towards heaven.

I unravel my thoughts or I pull them back together.

It’s a narrow road, conducive to thinking and singing and talking to God.

The car yesterday evening, a bland colored Lincoln sedan was still stalled in the middle place.

The stretch people call the “suicide lane”.

Every time I think of that, I think.

I wish they didn’t name it that.

But, that’s just me.

Where did you travel today?

What did you notice?

It’s early morning, the stars still out and I’m headed towards McDonald’s on a “grandma day”.

The car I saw yesterday, in the middle lane had a big truck pulled in behind it.

This morning it’s left stranded.

I approached yesterday, slowing as I thought for a second, State Patrol driving trucks now?

Instead it was a farmer type gentleman in Wranglers and boots, crisp white shirt tucked and talking to the one broke down.

The stranded one dressed in white T and low hanging jeans, clean cut it seemed.

In my rear view mirror I saw one approach the other, extended hands meeting in a healthy shake.

My mind began to wonder.

I wondered if they knew each other, if the farmer type was scared to stop but did, if the younger man stranded wasn’t sure what to make of the older man’s kindness.

That’s what I thought.

Kindness, regardless.

So, seeing the car in the dark this morning made me think assistance had been offered

And accepted.

I turned towards the drive-thru thinking eat now, be prepared, you won’t take the time later.

Two cars ahead of me and I’m trying to decide will I be late for my school teacher daughter and cause her to be tardy?

Thoughts drifting, I don’t see a figure walking towards the restaurant.

She sees me.

I stop suddenly.

She waves me on and I notice then she’s dressed for work, nothing but blue except gold hoops sparkling.

I’m startled. I tell myself.

Notice, be careful.

Notice.

A customer crosses in front.

I’m soon at the drive-thru and I order, move to the pay window and there she is.

The woman who almost intersected my car.

I notice and I ask.

“Did I almost run into you? I’m so sorry.”

She smiles and I decide is wondering why I paid I’m still pausing.

I tell her,

“As soon as that happened, I told myself, be careful, slow down and notice. You’re my god-wink today.”

Puzzled, she was.

I tell her again. “You’re a god-wink, God telling me to notice.”

She smiles.

Later I thought of the parable about the one of three men who offered to help someone they met on the road.

A Jesus story about first and foremost loving others.

Two men avoided him, crossed over the farthest edge of the road.

One helped.

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:33‬ ‭ESV

A priest and a Levite avoided the wounded and needy man. The Samaritan, one often shunned, paused to help him.

Helped a neighbor, another human being, didn’t avoid, shy away or cower.

Maybe that’s all it takes.

This afternoon I wondered if the farmer gentleman would have responded differently if he’d been approached by the low slung jeans fellow.

And if I would have had different kinds of thoughts if I’d been the one walking towards the restaurant and maybe almost run over by a person different than my color in a hurry for work and almost not seeing me.

Just thoughts.

I pray I’d have been human and that I’d have loved like the Samaritan, crossed over lanes or lines and did my best, loved

Loved my neighbor.

If Not For Ideas

I sit with the puppy, my mama’s quilt turned to the side with color, the puppy ate a rubber toy, the red ink of duck lips I concluded.

I flip it over, will wash it today. It’ll wait.

I think of my daddy when I think the word, “Idle”.

This daughter of his was altogether unprepared for independence and yet, I could charge my battery with a jump and when my little blue Celica wouldn’t start, I knew where to spark its start using a screwdriver to beat on just the right wire.

Crazy to think.

Resilience began late for me.

It hasn’t finished just yet.

On a Monday following a post about time chasing after things, I’m happy to have put my pen down, new to do list complete.

I’m sitting on the sofa, moving slowly into Monday.

The puppy is in heaven, our bonding getting better.

Positive reinforcement, not negative, consistent reward and maintaining my cues. What a job! He’s smart and according to the trainer, he really wants to please.

Full disclosure, I wanted a dog but chose a puppy.

Everything in life, a lesson…

Stay at it.

Someone said to me yesterday, resisting change and decision.

“Let’s just idle a little longer.”

I wonder what is their fear of moving forward.

I remembered my daddy telling me before the days of daughters stranded on the interstate with cell phones…I remembered his instruction.

Once you get it started, let it idle but not for long, give it the gas and keep going…My daddy, gone 21 years, this month on the 11th.

Warmth fills my eyes at the thought of me on the side of the road just outside of scary to me Atlanta, remembering how to start my car with a flathead screwdriver.

Wishing this morning I had thanked him for making me see that I was capable.

Capable combined with ideas.

Not able to be idle for long.

I’m learning it’s true what they say about confident waiting, about taking your hands and heart from a situation.

To be surprised when God shows up, shows out or simply gives a nudge.

Because I love understanding words, I compared “idle” to “waiting”.

Found “idle” to be not such a good thing: doing nothing, wasting valuable time, inactive or avoiding work.

See?

Waiting lends itself to a more hopeful stance: expecting, anticipating, to pause or my favorite, “stand by”.

I can visualize “stand by”.

It is evidence of believing truths like God fighting for me when I stay still. It’s indicative of faith, you know the whole enduring in hope of what you haven’t clearly seen.

Like the screwdriver in the hand of a scared and naive young woman about to flunk out on her art scholarship private college…

Waiting only takes a spark, a connection, one thing affecting another

And your engine is started.

You don’t idle. You put your hand and heart to the tasks, you know your ideas are like the pedal to the metal in the dark journey all alone, back home.

Back to you.

I think of a quote, knowing I don’t read nearly enough, so very grateful for recall.

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.  Mary Oliver

 

New this morning?

Dare I share that secret sweet hopeful maybe idea?

A coffee table type book of illustrations, my art, my “Bible girls”, each girl, a story about hope.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Maybe, I’ll wait

and see.

Words, Promises and Broken Cycles

I’m always surprised when I’m noticed.

My little trendy southern town known for being “best” in “Southern Living” and yet, such a mixture of poverty and riches with people in the in between vying to be noticed and included.

I used to be included.

I was always reluctant.

It was my work and my voice for the issues that got me invites to ladies’ clubs and big civic suit dressed men meetings.

It was that voice that labeled me one who “talked about hard things, a conversation starter”.

I brought things like homelessness, suicide and trauma from abuse to the table.

And then, I went home.

It was my job.

I left the work to do something other.

On a Friday night in our little town, the place where everyone congregates is hoppin’!

Women dressed for early dinners before a big show at our little theatre.

Young people, families, craft beers, pizza, music and chilled Pinot glowing in pretty glasses.

I wait outside until an inside table is ready, humid here I ask for water.

People are watching and talking.

Teenage girls in high heels and fancy dresses for homecoming football, carefully walking on cobblestones.

I’m responding to little dings on my phone, a sweet video of my granddaughter dancing to her daddy’s favorite funny song.

Then another, she’s being fed from a spoon, the first time and she’s a pro.

Sweet Elizabeth Lettie.

My friends arrive, one and then the other.

A couple stands to leave their table and the wife comes over to speak.

She and her husband, long time supporters of the agency I formerly led.

I assume she’s coming to chat with my friend and instead she addresses me.

Asking, how do you like being a grandmother?

I answer and she adds.

I think it’s so very nice, that you kept your promise. VS

I smiled, no, I’d say I was beaming.

No question about adjusting to not working or have you heard about this or that or the other…

All that’s happened in the wake of your retirement?

No, it was words to acknowledge me keeping my promise to my daughter.

Before I left my career, the paper and a local magazine did a piece on my leaving.

Both, I made sure, contained

I’m honoring a promise I made long ago to my daughter, I’ll be helping with her baby.

My friends and I caught up on lives with spouses, small talk and talk about what’s been newsworthy for our small town.

One friend who’d been aligned wholeheartedly with me in my ten year tenure in mental health expressed a longing that the work the way it used to be would continue.

She added it feels like “wasted time” all the years she put in.

“Oh, no, I’m not letting either of you own that!” announced my feisty second friend.

Adding that there are countless lives of women and children whose cycles of abuse and homelessness, depression and worthlessness have been broken!

I thought “ripple effect”.

They then asked about my children, both of them childless.

I shared how they’re doing and recent conversations with both that left me in awe over their strength…them being so much stronger than the me at their age.

My friend added,

you’ve broken the cycle you knew.

I thought of my children.

I accepted that. Yes, I have.

Yes, thank God; with God, I have.

Friday night reflections on Saturday morning:

You’ll hear what you need from others when you need it and while the encounters may be few, you will be noticed for being you.

No other reason.

Just you, being you.

A quiet strong.

Lord, may this be my legacy.

The choices I made and make, the ripple effect, like the settled waters of a quiet creek.

They come back.

Back to me.

I am thankful.

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Vanity and Strife

In the margin of my Bible, the heading of Ecclesiastes, I’ve added, “Reflections of an old man chasing after ‘good things.'”

I’m glad Solomon left behind his wisdom, his insistence that what we strive for other than God is akin to wasting our days.

Still, we want what we want. We long for what represents achievement.

I laid this leaf inside my Bible not sure I’d be able to preserve it. I was able. The spot in the center is so intricate it looks as if a tree with tiny branches created a piece of art.

I will keep it.

To have my art in a gallery would mean painting a series of similar pieces, gaining the attention of a gallery owner and them being thrilled to display my works.

There might even come a time that I become famous, someone well known buys a painting and all of the other wannabe well knowns follow behind and my art might become well-known

Same with my writing. I may by chance have someone read my blog and they know an agent and they tell said agent, I think this writer is worth looking at more closely. She has a meaningful story.

I imagine such things.

I make up fantastic scenarios about being noticed, about being a success.

But I’ve had little successes that have taught me success doesn’t satiate the soul.

If at all, only for a little while.

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Solomon was successful, wise and well-known.

But, found his soul empty, his striving after the uncatchable wind.

I listened to a Grammy winning performer share with a likeminded and successful four book author.

Both admitted days of empty longing that hadn’t been and couldn’t be filled by “success”.

Fear of being able to be enough in their performance led them to isolate for days.

Something was missing at times. Their success on its own could not sustain happiness, contentment or a sense of satisfaction.

I believe success is simply intentional contentment and a personal resignation to choose to pursue “works of your hands” that you give back as an honor of God.

Otherwise, we chase for validation, we covet the Instagram lives of others, we grow sullen over being seemingly left behind.

I’ve been kept whole by my God. I have helped others. I have loved my family. I have made it my goal to grow closer to God each day.

Moment by moment, this pursuit to me, is God’s idea, if there is one, of success.

Success to me?

Being brave so that others will too. Being hopeful so that others have hope, choosing love over remorse and humble surrender to what I in all my vain striving do not know.

Last week, I wrote one of my bravest posts so far. A handful of people read, two or three said thank you or I understand.

Success?

Yes, that feels like just enough.

Success

Linking up with others at FMF on the subject of “Success”.

Light Returns

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Light, Returning

Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself

The light is returning.

I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.

The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.

She doesn’t know or does she?

Her grandma is new.

Her grandma is breaking old cycles.

She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.

The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.

Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.

God, why did you allow this to happen?

This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.

And what followed.

My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.

I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.

It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.

Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.

Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.

He had a beer.

I had a glass of Merlot.

It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.

Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.

It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.

Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.

Committed and secure.

Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.

He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.

I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.

I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.

The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.

I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.

The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.

The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.

I said his name.

I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.

You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.

He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.

I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.

This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.

It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.

Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.

I prayed.

It is not up to me, restoration, only God.

I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.

Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.

I thought the same things.

I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.

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Reason to Believe

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.

Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.

You don’t remember the conversations.

Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.

Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.

The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,

I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.

I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.

Why such a setback?

Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?

He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.

What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.

Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.

The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.

Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.

A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.

The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.