It seems my art is becoming more story-like as I continue painting. Although I have a website for my paintings, occasionally I’ll add photos here and along with the photo, a little bit of what the colors, the brushstrokes, the sway in the pose of the subjects mean to me.
Here is a painting inspired by a beautiful woman named Ruth. Ruth was an employee, Ruth was my friend. She prayed with boldness and she was well spoken. She spoke of God and she often spoke of prophecy. I wonder what she’d say if she were here. I wish I could hear her voice in a prayer of hope, telling me all will be okay.
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“We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold,” Hebrews 6:19 TPT
Hope is the thing that gives us permission to imagine, more than imagine, be sure of when there seems so little clarity, even less certainty.
Hope does not, cannot disappoint us, the hope of things not seen, heavenly things.
Hope is not a visible thing and at times makes little sense. Hope is internal, it is God planted, it is that tiny idea of a seed that begins with believing.
Then it grows when God comes close through His Spirit in our soul.
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Romans 8:24-26 ESV
Hope, like God’s Spirit in our souls is an advocate, a guide, a loyal friend. We question the worth of our hope in tragic or trying times.
We catch ourselves falling into the trap of despondency, dismay, anger, doubt or heavy grief.
We stay there maybe, it’s okay. Hope never leaves. We gradually find it, it finds us again.
Because hope does not disappoint.
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:5 TPT
I’m not sure we can make it without hope. I’m certain actually, that I could not.
We cannot see hope, can’t put it on the calendar, hold it in our hands, display it in our homes.
It’s visible only to the soul tethered to God. It’s visible in sometimes secret ways. Other times it holds hands with others and we join in our feeble grips in being anchored together.
We are hopeful. We’ve been promised eternity. We believe it.
I changed it up today, wondering if anyone ever has oatmeal that’s not sweet. I woke early as if God knew I’d need a little extra time to combat fear.
Read my Bible, scribbled a prayer, and decided before sun up I was hungry. Boiled the water, added oatmeal and then changed from the usual cinnamon, raisins, etc.
I added cream cheese with veggies, taco cheese and bacon. I encourage you to try this.
You may also need carbs today.
Change a little thing, adjusting maybe the whole direction of your day.
Because twenty minutes before, the dread of our days took over, one post on FB by a well meaning and very kind friend…predicting we’ll be wearing masks through November and not as in next month, but November 2021.
My chest tightened. I looked away, shut it down and wrote a prayer.
Our Father, please end this fear that surrounds us, prods us, interrupts our mornings. Please come quickly and make us more fearless or in a mighty wave, remove completely this thing that causes us to fear we are wrong, to fear that you won’t makeright all the wrong…that we are not really so courageous at all, after all. Remind us our strength flows through our closeness with you. We thank you that younever leave us even when our thoughts lead us away.
3 things I’ve learned this month:
Ask for help.
Tell yourself because of your kinship with God,
You can do hard things.
Adjust your perspective of what you hear, see, encounter. Change as it is necessary and at your own pace. Acknowledge you’re not everything and not equipped to do all things on your own. Be less stubborn and shamed by your inability and more open to others who are able and willing to help. Say to yourself on the regular “You can do hard things.” Say so not in a superpower or simply motivational way.
Say so because you remember the hard things you thought you couldn’t do but did.
Walking is an exercise in filtering my mind, conditioning it for better content, noticing what is correct from the perspective of my relationship with God.
I walk with my granddaughter, eyes to the ground, back to her prancing stride and back to the ground again, surveying the surface, keeping her safe.
We pass this fallen branch every time and I pause and consider how it looks like a giant snake.
Then, I pause again and I am intentional, I unwrite my own dreadfully strange and scary story. I tell myself, it is true that tree branch decayed and fallen resembles a snake; but, it is not a snake.
I curtail the fear.
I adjust my thoughts.
We walk and sing, dig in the dirt, sometimes we both dance.
We notice God together.
With the autumn season comes a change in the woods. Leaves dance like twirling ballerinas in front our faces. Strange mushroom fungi affix themselves to trees, birds are happier it seems.
The earth is sprinkled with the mystery of little white veils lying themselves down overnight.
My granddaughter sees them, carefully approaches and looks up to me.
Her little hand reaches and with her one little finger she separates the mystical veil.
She lifts her arm for me to reach down then places the moist finger that touched nature’s mystery to my cheek.
We notice God together. It is clear, His nearness.
“But in the depths of my heart I truly know that you, Yahweh, have become my Shield; You take me and surround me with yourself. Your glory covers me continually. You lift high my head when I bow low in shame.” Psalms 3:3 TPT
Know that God is still God. Adjust into the changes required of you, asking for help as help is needed and take a minute to recall the hardship you survived, you and God together, stronger than you could fathom.
I walked midday, a change from my schedule. No music, no podcast wisdom. I’d adjusted my shoes, the ankle pain lingering.
Hereditary maybe plus jumping from the steps in my 20’s instead of stepping.
My ankle compromised by my choices.
I walked and prayed and thought, remembered about a week ago I returned from walking, sweaty and breathless because I’d added in jogging, my husband sat waiting in the chair he likes in the garage.
He’d been again, watching the news.
So, I spewed all my thoughts on lives mattering and he let me. He listened, I bet was entertained, my talking with expressive hands.
I’m not typically vocal. Even less often assertive. I’m extremely conflict avoidant.
I told him how I felt about the “all lives matter” cultural trend.
People who I thought believed like me are widening the meaning of sanctity of life to include lives lost to violence, poverty, other.
Likening a life that never had a choice to other lives ended in adulthood, still too soon.
I said, “A woman gets pregnant and decides on abortion. Maybe there’s addiction. Maybe there is fear. Maybe there’s a father or a parent because of secrecy, coercing. Maybe there is selfishness, plans for something other. Maybe there is worry that there will be no roof to cover baby’s head. Maybe there are other reasons.
The woman sees a doctor, clinician or other. Woman’s choice leads to destruction of life, disposal.
And the baby had no choice.
In the beginning, God created… Genesis 1:1
I asked my husband to think of times he skirted with wrong places, wrong time, to consider our own sons might have easily made choices that led to criminal ways.
Could’ve been influenced by drugs, alcohol, anger or even bitter resentment. Could’ve decided to get in the face of an officer and not let up, not let go until force led to extreme response.
Unfortunate choices made by young people and adults often lead to lives cut short.
A few weeks ago, I heard my friend tell of what God had spoken, “That wasn’t my intention.”
When babies were announced despite Co-Vid, I found myself thinking, saying,
“Babies are evidence that God is saying, ‘Keep living’.”
Children are God’s creation.
We were all children once.
Created uniquely by God and for a purpose, to live fully while living closer daily to Him.
“In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” Acts 17:28 ESV
I’m perplexed over the lumping of all lives together, lives that never had a choice to see what God could do and lives cut short in angry, wrongful, ugly ways.
But, those are different tragedies.
They are not the same. I prayed today, that more influential and articulate voices than mine would cause the bending of ears, the stirring of souls, the returning to the beginning, the intentional beginning of us by God.
In the beginning, God created.
We can be sorrowful over injustice. We can shake our heads over how long it has gone on. We can pray for the difference that’s beginning to be strong. But, we can’t compare a life with no chance at all, to a life cut short, gone wrong or taken tragically. To one with no chance at all.
The purple blooming shrub my husband transplanted from his mama’s generous garden has graced the fence border, I believe, for three years.
Now the petals are faded and in the process of brittle decay. Positioned next to the Rose of Sharon with its pods all dried up and closed like little wrinkled up grocery bags, the back yard is changing.
The pool will be covered, the chairs put away. The place for evening sitting will be just a couple of chairs in the corner and from time to time, the metal fire pit I requested.
We will watch Winter come and we will wait.
I pray we will rest.
Rest assured that the tiny purple flowers will explode with renewed growth, the rose bush will go crazy with magenta again and the pool will be reopened after Easter.
I bought a yellow beach ball yesterday with a little face of a baby chick and wings on either side, $1.99.
I thought of next year.
Of laughter around May.
Prayer time this morning conjured up an expression used to make a point, to reassure, to stand firm in your opinion in an argument.
I left the words on the page, under my supplications.
The words that tell me come what may I have assurance.
Assurance of God knowing me and my family. Assurance of them knowing Him.
Rest assured. I can do that today. Mountains move, seas roar, tragic untimely deaths happen, confrontations heighten, animosity threatens.
Rest assured, though. God still calms seas, moves mountains, protects us as He is able against the enemy’s influence, fights for us
Fights for us gently in the call for us to know Him, to notice.
When you see God today, hear Him, you’ll know.
He’s still here and He is still mighty.
“Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.” Psalm 93:4-5 ESV
You will find Him because He longs to be recalled, to be called upon, to be found again and again by you.
Receive grace, we need it. We’re going to need it. Regardless of November, hopelessness is a wound not even close to being healed, the result of our lack of control, uncertainty, the open-ended question of the coming year, the apathy towards each other, the numbing that’s happening to us to the extent we don’t yet know.
“That’s a lot, Lisa…I thought you were a person of faith?”
I know. Today I prayed beside my bed, no words, just a position.
Surrendering the moment.
…and by Him, everyone who believes is freed. Acts 13:39
Belief is a very personal thing, prayer is too. God, knowing each of us completely and individually knows us “down to the very bones” and yet, sees us worthy of the very grace we received when we accepted the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. We decided then I can’t fix this, in fact in my humanness I am unfixable.
Still, I work hard and with intention and a word we love, “perseverance” to see the measure of my faith be represented by works. It’s how we’re wired and we forget that physical wiring never is enough.
Praise, prayer and worship with music rein me back in closer. I find myself opening my hands to heaven when a song touches my tender wounds, thrilled to be uninterrupted on my knees beside my bed or joining others in prayer with both hands palm up to God.
Giving God the hopes, fears and thanks.
Today, I read “Receive His grace all day.” It struck me that the hands I open to give are rarely opened to receive from God. I forget that I need His grace all day long, every moment. More importantly, I forget that His grace is a reservoir that never runs dry. I forget that it is ours simply for asking, just by saying, I need you every hour. Again, I’m not able on my own and you know it God, still you wait patiently for me to remember.
We cannot put our hopes in this country. I’m sorry if that sounds unpatriotic. It hurts to know that and I worry that hopelessness is outpacing the destruction of the pandemic. Without hope, without God and His grace, none of us can sustain our own manufactured hope.
Open your hands as needed today. Receive grace.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 ESV
It would be a stretch to say my parents were like Johnny and June. My daddy was small in stature and my mama although very wise, didn’t exhibit a tone of outward patience. Their tolerance for one another came and went, seems it was either battleground or preparing for the coming battles, a rhythm they finally mastered.
As a young woman, I had to move back home. Things happened that led to college being too hard for me. To an outsider, it would appear I gave up or wasn’t college material. Few people knew, most weren’t informed, college was interrupted by unanticipated harm. So, I lived at home in the house by the pond for just a bit, a young woman trying to figure what’s next and ignoring the need to heal.
Most mornings, I lingered lazily in my room. My fascination with art numbed by my sudden incapability.
My parents were in their chairs with coffee. Their singsong exchange in kind conversation captivated me. This is what made me think of Johnny Cash and his longsuffering wife, June.
“This morning, with her, having coffee.” Johnny Cash, when asked his idea of paradise
I cling to the memory of my parents having conquered hopeless days in their marriage and sitting in their morning chairs, calmly talking, planning for possibility.
It occurred to me last week as I thought of my own children, adults navigating marriage, parenting, career in a time such as this, I don’t remember my parents asking one another a question,
“How did we get here with Lisa? Where did we go wrong?”
And my tender heart is so grateful that I was never privy to those conversations.
Another thing I don’t recall hearing was panic over politics or very much talk at all about trouble to be expected here on earth, that earth is not my home, heaven is.
Surely, in different ways they felt similar fear, apathy and distrust of leaders back then.
There was Vietnam, there was integration, there was the President who had an interview in Playboy magazine and there were leaders assassinated and although we were grown by then, there was September 11th.
Funny story, my granddaddy purchased the said magazine and my brother and cousin found it, ran through the field and after enjoying it for a bit buried it in the sand.
I like to think that was one of my grandfather’s biggest and happiest moments, he probably yelled and stomped but I imagine him loving us all back then; but, especially the two rascals that sneaky and scandalous day.
There’s unrest, division, distress. It is palpable.
Someone told me; well, it was my daughter, “You sound so despondent.”
de·spond·ent/dəˈspändənt/ in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.
She called as I painted and repainted a piece. It was not coming together. I told her it was hard, this is new for me. I told her I have to finish so I can move on.
But, it wasn’t a painting for someone that was causing the mood she heard in my voice.
It was the piling on of other things, the dragging on of pandemic, the way the masked faces and isolation are destroying us all in our inners, depleting our reserve of hope.
So, I sit in my morning chair, a chair that belonged to my mama. The pines are dappled with morning sun, the same sun landing on the arm of my mama’s chair.
Saying, morning has come with wellness again. They did what they could and you are well. You’ve done what you could do as well and those you love are well, will be well. You know this is God’s promise.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,” Psalm 92:1-2 ESV
I did not hear my parents tell me that this world is not forever, there was minimal talk of heaven, even less conversation about our souls or salvation. We absorbed it I suppose from the sporadic other voices.
But, I saw and heard redemption when I laid quietly in the room that allowed me to be a temporary guest. I heard redemption in the conversation that was shared as they sat with coffee together in their “morning chairs”.
Imperfect love, grace and wisdom pulling me closer to living by faith because of mercy finding me, me finding God, continuously seeking, allowing every moment, my heart to be sought.
I pray your morning brings you the assurance that God is very near and that He is able to make good of all things, soften the hardest heart and redeem the angriest of relationships.