Sameness of Days and Faith

Advent, book review, Christmas, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, Faith, grace, hope, Peace, Redemption, Salvation, Trust, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭22:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Early mornings, I travel towards the unveiling of day. On cloudless days the color is thick as I turn from the main road to the more obscure. When I arrive and allow my car to rest on the hill, I gather all my “grandma day” things and pause with the view.

I have so many pictures of this place. On Wednesday, I decided there was no need for another, like most everything now, different day, same thing, I am apathetic over the view.

I looked away, no longer fascinated by the morning, the warm orange and one dot of star up above.

The sunrise held no promise that day, not for me.

Later, I opened the mailbox and was surprised by the gift of a book I’d not ordered but had been helping to launch, “The Advent Narrative” by Mary Geisen

I opened it and thought, the place my eyes land will be the light I need, the lifting of this heavy fog, lingering dull headache that refused to let up. Earlier, I talked to someone who is depressed, recovered from COVID but still very compromised by these days, lingering is his malaise.

I told him, “All I can offer you is to rely on your faith, have faith.”

As I spoke those words, I heard my own tone, a tone of uncertain belief in faith as the answer when the wait for God’s reply has been too long.

I held Mary’s book in my lap, imagining hours and days of compiling her thoughts into words, interspersing scripture as reference and deciding to present the book as a play with three acts, three scenes in each. How unique, how intentional to write this way I thought, pulling the reader in, promising us that if we trust the process, “wait for it”, the story will make sense.

“For it is in the middle, the not yet, the in between, that God does some of His greatest work.” Mary Geisen

The wait is lingering longer than any of us expected, the wait for relief from worry over family and frustration over unresolved conflict and division.

I had grown quite weary. Bored, even of the sameness and stupor caused by this pandemic. I just wanted it all to be over and I told God so.

He answered slowly, an unveiling in quiet ways. A conversation via text led to my summing up my feelings in a way that finally felt honest, helpful.

Because ever since I’d told my brother to have more faith, I’d been wondering exactly where mine had gone and just how small it had become, had become nothing more than a vacant word.

My cousin and I were in agreement, we both longed for our dead mamas’ comfort food. We wished for the impossible to be, we longed for what we remembered to represent goodness to be good for us again.

I remembered when my faith felt that way, like the sweet embrace of a kind adult telling me everything would be okay, the hand of my grandmother against my cheek with no words just assurance. I knew then, in this time of waiting for better, my faith is growing.

That must be why it felt so tiny, my recognition of it expanding to take me to bigger things. When I told my cousin I wanted the comfort of my mama too, it led to clarity, the pain I was feeling ached from growing.

“I know. These are very hard almost nonsensical days. I’m not a prophet or anything but I do believe God is requiring of us a new kind of faith, a faith that doesn’t expect any evidence of its worth at all…I’m beginning to see just how shallow my well is…maybe I’m all pretty words and no substance.”

And the day improved from there. Errands needed to be fulfilled and the mask requirement was still in place. The line stretched long at the post office as I stood in my tape marked place. I looked at the other masked faces wishing I knew their feelings. Were they angry, afraid, cocky over their fancy masked protection?

The eyes are not telling stories in the way they used to. Have you noticed?

The crescendo is building, the day we hope for by faith. My faith is growing. I know this for sure. No wonder it felt so little, I needed to allow it to grow. I am seeing myself more clearly.

I waited and I said Psalm 23 to myself over and over, the passage that quells my chest tightness, contains the promise I know is God’s. My favorite clerk called out “Next!” and his eyes greeted mine as I asked if he was doing okay. He was tired, he said and I thought to myself as he coughed, turning away, I really hope he will be okay, hope relief comes soon, relief of the tiredness of these days.

“Peeling layers of life back to reveal our innermost being is demanding work. The harder we push away from what is good, noble, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8), the more God gently loves us. He has a way of softening the edges, sliding through the cracks, and entering our darkest places. God is the image bearer, light-keeper, and grace-gifter.” Mary Geisen, “The Advent Narrative-The Life You Didn’t Know You Were Already Living”

The Saturday morning sunlight is creating a pattern of undeniable hope on my lap. I’ll not ignore it, the glorious sameness of grace, of hope, of faith.

I am growing, God is waiting with me in the waiting.

Purchase this book filled with truth, inviting wonder here:

The Advent Narrative: The Life You Didn’t Know You Were Already Living https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08M83XF7Q/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_fabc_GzsUFbEG90YJM

Christmas, Come Soon

Children, Christmas, coronavirus, courage, Faith, grace, grandchildren, hope, Peace, Prayer, Stillness, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

The two homes on the cul de sac are inviting Christmas early. One changed overnight from a massive friendly ghost inflatable to a same size “Frosty” snowman waving at me as I walk by. The second, more subtle a view, the front door open to allow my peeking in, a tree lit simply in a corner. One reminding me of great big joy and the other a decided upon peace.

“Charlie Brown”

The tree is up early in my granddaughter’s room. My daughter, a teacher exhausted over what may come next for her students, watched Christmas movies with her baby, sang songs about jingling bells and dressed her in pink peppermint pajamas.

All of it, beauty!

The deciding to celebrate Christmas in November and groaning in our hearts and souls for a star, a sign symbolic of hope.

Jesus was born and everything changed.

And now centuries later, we are still longing for Christmas. We are so very weary, so very.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” O’ Holy Night

“Baby’s Tree”

The air was crisp on our walk this morning. We danced along with music in my pocket, looked towards the sky and we rubbed our hands on the cool ground and moss pillows on the hill.

Christmas, I wondered last night before sleeping, how will it be? Will the animosity over politics, vaccines, mask wearing or not wearing ever end?

Will Christmas be quiet this year, requiring less frantic buying and limited travel, limited dining together?

Will we be home alone?

If so, will we know this is God’s will for this time, His idea?

Will we trust in Jesus? Will we keep believing God sees us?

“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭77:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Will we open our Bibles, find comfort in the likemindedness of the psalmist? Will we be reassured of His goodness because of the evidence of more goodness than we can possibly recall?

Will we see ourselves in the Gospels as we reacquaint ourselves with the birth to resurrection story of the baby born in a manger, Jesus?

Moss “Pillows”

I pray I am able, pray I avoid the trap of worry, of not knowing the last word in this season’s book and I pray the book becomes one of lessons with resolution not a cliffhanger waiting for the sequel.

Christmas, come early. Come sooner than later. We long for your star. We long for the peace it promised then and promises still.

“I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
‘Til morning is nighBe near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray…” Away in A Manger”

Be near us Jesus, as we continue on the paths you place us.

Christmas, come soon. Find us as we find you again. Find ourselves remembering the meaning of Christmas, you, a Savior born for every single soul.

Hidden Away

Abuse Survivor, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, grace, Holy Spirit, hope, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Last night the dreams did that filtering thing, bringing all the half processed thoughts to the surface so that morning’s arrival could have a blank slate.

Angry encounters, loneliness amongst others, worry, an almost real sense of illness and a vivid place of being taken advantage of.

I understand the purpose of dreams when they are this threatening, this vulnerability revealing.

What was heavy becomes evidence now of false narrative and a waking up to return to truth.

“I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Last weekend my husband and I stole away for a couple of days in a time it seems we’re supposed to be hunkering down, getting ready to fight, a time of yet more uncertain events.

We were among the leaves, the curving hills and valleys, the powerful rush of water, the sound of leaves tousling under our feet and dancing downward.

In the afternoon I sat and rocked alone on the old porch shielded by camellias. The inn was uncrowded because of pandemic.

I simply sat. Several minutes into the comfort of nothingness, I turned to see an oddity.

In the corner of the porch, the shape of a dark bird sat. I turned away and then looked again, still there.

I puzzled over the shape. Had somebody left a carved bird there for sweet decoration, was it one of those country birds people put on a shelf, the legs dangling?

I waited, no hurry to decide what it was.

I began to be sure that it was there just for me. My soul was stilled. The world around me a mess and yet, I am sitting quietly with a simply beautiful view and I’m rocking gently in an old wooden chair.

All was good, was well.

Sunset approached and I quietly decided to see more closely the figure in the corner.

I stepped gingerly and I saw it, a sparrow who allowed my visit and then fluttered away.

I went to tell my husband and to dress for dinner. As we stepped towards the porch I shushed him, maybe we will see it.

And we did. Back in its safe place, we both saw the bird.

“It’s roosting.” my husband said.

Oh.

The bird wasn’t there when we returned after dinner nor on Sunday when we departed.

Only Saturday as I sat resting from hiking and in between a good long call with my son and a FaceTime with my daughter and hers.

I knew it was God.

I know it was His nearness in a visit with a roosting bird.

Now I know roosting is different than nesting as far as the pattern of a bird. Roosting is sitting still, finding a place to rest and returning there for comfort, for safety.

Maybe we roost when we allow our souls to rest in God’s tender but massive hand. Maybe we confidently return to our little place.

“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.”

I pray you know God’s nearness today, that the noise of all other is quieted by a view, a song, a sound and that if sleep awakens buried fears, you wake with assurance of being never alone and you rest in the safe place of that knowledge.

God is for you.

Art With Words

Art, curiousity, mixed media painting

Two paintings are featured in the latest collection of thoughtful essays, stories and poetry.

These two capture my questions? Were there roses in the Garden of Gethsemene? Was it a place both dark but brilliant?

Is Holy Water, the forgiveness of Jesus like every splendid color flowing unhindered?

Gethsemene
Holy Water

You can view the publication here: https://wp.me/paPsWw-1bL

Future Plans and Surprises

bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grandchildren, heaven, hope, Motherhood, Peace, Prayer, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

I’m not sure why God, or maybe it’s life that did it, made my hopes and angst and wishes always be from the perspective of my children.

On earth as in heaven, I suppose I ask God for this. Quite often, I ask God to surprise my children, make them certain it was Him.

There are countless hopes my heart holds for them, some of them things they long for, some are ideas of my own.

I’m a mama of adult children. I can’t hold or control them. I can only pray with open hands and unnamed hopes with their names circled in my journal.

I give God control. He is a buffer of protection. He loves them more than I.

I want to know they are well and that they are loved well.

I want them (and me) to embrace heavenly things as pursuit in a time when earth is so uncertain.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I want them to see me trying, admitting it is hard and yet, waking up to try again.

Even on days and days on end when what’s ahead is unclear.

Put one step forward not backward. One step on days when a greater distance feels difficult or detoured by these crazy days.

Step forward, think forward.

Set your intentions on being intentional in the days ahead of not knowing much at all.

Considering maybe God is breaking our addiction to control this year to show us knowing everything doesn’t keep us safe.

It is only knowing Him that is safe at all.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others prompted by the word “ahead”.

Ahead

Never Fails

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, grace, Holy Spirit, hope, memoir, mercy, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

If you will get quiet, God will come near and tie up the edges of your thoughts, bring them together and bind them as a chapter in your story.

I know this to be true.

Last week, a stranger called. Someone told her I had connections, good at problem solving, helping others not give up.

I listened and advised, adding I’m not really connected any longer with people in places of helping others.

I listened as she told her story, one of divorce, of children who struggled, of being diagnosed with physical infirmity.

“Everything has me feeling so broken.” she said.

“When we accept our brokenness and give up our own repairs, we allow God to make beautiful things of our lives.

Quietly, she agreed and thanked me for reassuring her that the connections she has already made are the right ones.

This morning, quiet with God, I thought of a song’s lyrics, “we won’t be shaken” and I journaled a tender note to myself remembering my talk with the stranger.

Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:8

The note to self, confirmation that according to God, I am enough. The rich blessings I know are more than I expected. I can rest. I can quiet my soul.

Art, writing, telling my story of redemption, these are I suppose options, either way, I am loved.

Do you believe God loves you no matter your talent, success or bravery? It’s a difference maker, this realization.

It’s the evidence of the presence of His Spirit in you, the comfort of truly doing things to God’s glory, not yours. It’s the sign of surrender that will set you free.

I’m only beginning to see. Still, it is freedom for me.

Some know of my book idea, the redemption story I’ve carried for very long. God turned the tables on that story and is piece by piece, giving me a more beautiful one, one that’s not relentless in remembering the past, focused on women like me who bravely stepped forward.

Who’s to say if it will be written. I’m okay either way. The beautiful thing, God is okay with me as well.

The same is true for you, the gracious and merciful love of God guiding your every endeavor.

Visualize it. God looking down on you, seeing your capabilities, your talents, your unique approach to sharing your God story. I see Him seeing us, seeing us getting closer to the story He wrote of us, seeing us combine His love, our bravery and just enough humility.

Whether or not you follow through on the things God made you to do, beautiful ideas only for you, is mercifully up to you.

Oh, that you would bless me indeed, enlarge my borders, that your hand would be with me and keep me from harm so that I would not be in pain. Jabez’s prayer

What can hear God saying in the quiet?

Listen. He’s patient in your response, gracious no matter your decision.

His love never fails. Let your life tell others.

Think About Such Things

Angels, bravery, Faith, grace, Holy Spirit, Peace, praise, Prayer, Salvation, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Yesterday was a good day, restful but productive until I paused with early sunset on the sofa and allowed my thoughts to catch up.

The annoying squeeze of the unnamed anxiety was realized. I walked down the hall to use the stretch, “legs against the wall” and I felt the rope loosen, the one that was tight around my chest.

Stretching and then praying made it better, the place that my soul inhabits was opened up, restored, clearing out the clutter, making more room for my Father’s spirit to be fully known by me.

I’m beginning to believe God. Beginning to believe the prayer that children say has words that are more than a pretty promise, are true.

“Ask Jesus to come into your heart.”

Not as a child but as a thirty something year old, I said what is called the “sinner’s prayer”.

Jesus came near, planted His Spirit in my soul. It has been gradual, often half-heartedly that I believed this mystery to be so.

This mystery that by grace and patience is no longer so obscurely mysterious at all.

Because I’ve been asking God to come near, to fill me, to allow His river to flow to me and through me and it has begun to be so.

It is becoming well with my soul,

Will become even more so. I am certain. I continue to believe.

Believing God has good things for me, not just for others is a closer truth than before.

A couple of weeks ago the nearness of God astounded me. I’ve kept it to myself except one wise other person until now.

On a regular morning walk with my grandchild, music she loves coming from my pocket and stops and starts to dig in the sand followed by her bouncy steps running, I had a thought.

Surrounded by trees, I remembered the scary vertigo episode almost exactly a year ago. I thanked God for wellness, for no further episodes.

I looked on either side, trees with leaves falling, old tall ones and new branches and I wondered to myself, what would I do if one of these trees fell, if my grandchild was safe but I was trapped?

I imagined calmly, the dog would look after Elizabeth and I’d be able to call for help.

Although scary, it would be okay, I would be safe.

Strange, I know.

Even stranger or as I now believe, not strange at all, occurred the next morning.

I arrived to care for my granddaughter in the dark of morning. My daughter said her husband wanted to know,

“Did your mama see that big tree that fell overnight?”

“No”, I answered. She continued with the way it fell, not a loud sound and the tree with the trunk at least seven feet around, it fell perfectly against the fence row, didn’t block the road.

“Oh” I mumbled.

We walked later to see it, the baby and I. I saw the massive oak severed by something unhuman lying on the ground.

I admit, I thought heavily of it all day, wondering over the weight of my thoughts the day before. It felt very scary and then, supernatural in a kind and loving way.

I texted my friend, wise in spiritual strengths and truth.

She wasn’t astounded or afraid. She simply told me God wanted to show me He is protecting me. That wherever I am, He is; I embody His Spirit. I have an advocate. There was no shock in her tone, she didn’t think I was crazy or what happened was scary.

Later, I realized I could believe it too. God is very close to me.

He is answering my most tender prayers.

Before sleep last night, I read five psalms, a proverb and a message.

I remembered the random text from the friend mentioned above, the way her words sent a chill down my calf.

I slept with the certainty of being known and loved and when I woke I repeated what God told me overnight.

“You are a masterpiece. Keep creating.”

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Remembered By

Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, freedom, hope, Peace, Trust, Truth, voting, Vulnerability, wisdom

Do you make mental lists of things you’d like to be remembered by? Maybe that’s just what a sixty year old person does.

It happened again. Yesterday, my friend asked if my hair color was natural. It took a minute, I realized she was asking if I had happily resigned to go grey.

My hair is grey? Again, how did I miss this? I don’t spend a whole light of time on hair or makeup to be honest.

Makes me wonder if others say to themselves, well, Lisa retired and she just let herself go or

Maybe she relaxed into being herself.

We were outdoors on this beautiful day. I met my friend and her brother to take notes and hear the love story of the couple I’d be creating art for.

Ideas were shared, preferences in size and style. Mentions of things God has me doing through art and likeminded casual conversation about the goodness of God.

My friend’s brother listened as I shared the meaning of my life verse.

“In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There was a pause and he spoke up, “I want to see your Bible.”

I thought of my Bible and smiled.

This morning I’m thinking of the weight of his wish, I’m thinking I may be remembered by the sketches in my Bible.

No better wish.

On this crisp morning, full moon later, Halloween and time change tomorrow, the shift is building, the tension mounting, the crucial critical day of Tuesday, voting.

But, I sit quietly. I open my Joy and Strength devotional to October 31. I read the ancient words from Deuteronomy.

Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. Deuteronomy 8:2

This portion of a verse in a chapter headed “Remember the Lord your God”.

Words used by Moses as reminders of the forty years of wilderness, the humbling and then the provision of manna.

Remember God.

The chapter ends with a serious warning, timely for our day.

“And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m not qualified to argue politics. I love people and I love God. Loving God, though, is my priority, my calling, my navigation.

I understand the sound of God’s gentle warning that He gives before He needs to speak more boldly.

I will heed the warning of Moses. I will take care lest I forget the Lord my God by not keeping His commandments and his rules and statutes. (Deuteronomy 8:11)

I will remember the wilderness He pulled me from and I will treasure an unexpected hope of another who reminded me of what matters when he sweetly said, “I want to see your Bible.”

Me too, Tommy,

Me too. I want to always be able to see my Bible. Even when my eyes are squinty and my hair fully silver. I want to hold my Bible in my lap, underline the exhortations, sketch in the margin faces of women like me, women God found. Women who remember.

Continue and believe.

Believe. In quiet confidence is your strength.

(Don’t) Tell All

bravery, coronavirus, courage, depression, Faith, hope, kindness, Peace, rest, Stillness, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

The cashier at Target wasn’t speaking clearly. I couldn’t understand her when she totaled up the stuff in my buggy.

I know the jokes about how Target trips always slip up on you when it’s time to pay.

But, this time it was the mask(s). She and I were struggling to speak clearly, to understand one another.

Hold Us Together, Together

I thought of telling someone how I was feeling the other day and then I didn’t.

Buried it, the best kept secret.

They have enough of their own I decided.

But, the more I thought about the burdens we are masking, the more concerned I am about the damage it is doing.

We’re all becoming way too okay with staying hidden, with keeping our sorrows to ourselves in a kind attempt not to add to the distress of another, family, friend or anyone else.

I think most of us are overwhelmed. Most of us know those around us are as well.

So we keep it to ourselves.

We don’t admit the feeling of being alone, all by ourselves, because we don’t want to let on that we are really feeling hopeless.

Or maybe some are not.

Still, I am worried that we’re keeping too much to ourselves.

Today I had the chance to hear from a likeminded soul.

We despise the masks required of us. They make us sad, angry, concerned that we can’t say so because others will call us selfish.

And that one ten minute exchange gave me hope, gave me freedom, told me another human understands.

I hope God sends someone your way who will listen and that you’ll be energized by the commonalities, by the similar angst.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I urge you not to keep your fears hidden, your fatigue over uncertain futures, your walking around in a daze akin to disassociation.

I pray you find an encourager, a listener who is open to your “tell all” conversation and that you come away better; known, loved and heard.

I pray I open my heart to the heartaches of others and that I reciprocate the kind listening I was gifted today.