“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The tree limbs are starkly dark. There’s no denying the contrast against the clarity of cloudless day.

It seems the season has come early and the barren aged tree is ragged, unadorned, and the limbs exposed.

I was drawn towards the blackness of branch, the hard and seemingly morbid lack of promise for new.

Surrounded by delicate fragile blooms of white, pink, yellow popping forth from little green capsules of petal, my gaze rested, enthralled by the trees still winter barren.

The thought of it wouldn’t let me go, I’d promised a friend a Bible and then it just became sort of an oh well, nice thought… I don’t think she really expected it kinda thing.

And I said shame on me to ignore such a simple request, to let it fade into the place of “just a thought” suggestions, hopes, pleasant ideas.

How shallow and self-absorbed I felt.

So, I made my way back to the mega store with the discount everything and perused the shelves immediately inside the doors.

Children’s books about bunnies, books with spaces to fill in color, cookbooks, romance, how-to do anything books and Bibles.

I was looking for the Bible with the robins and sparrows on its cover, pretty colors subtle with brown of feather, coral on bellies and touches of blue on wings.

It was not there. I scanned over about a hundred covers, collecting titles I’d heard of, wondered about, decided to keep four with me.

Similar assertions they all made, promises that might be inside the pages, chapters all exploring doubts and fear and failures.

New writers writing about old things in hopefully new ways.

For a moment I considered, “Are we all just a community of tortured and tragic souls?”

Women who believe in Jesus but struggle to believe in ourselves?

Does every single book attempt to affirm for us what in our hearts we know but lose our grips on, occasionally needing to hold on again and longer?

Do we need to be broken so that we can remember His brokenness?

Do we need to be lost and looking all over the place, bumping into people and places here on earth, never fitting in and then remembering oh, my heavens…we were made for heaven, not here?

I sat at my desk the other morning, feeling as if all I do amounts to nothing and stuffing down my frustrations over people and things not measuring up as they should.

I thought about my longing to write, my assurance of God wanting me to write about the “lost years” and the women who never considered me a lost cause.

I resented my days filled to the brim, my heart ached with guilt that I might never finish my telling and it becoming memoir bound together and held by strong spine.

I was afraid of not fulfilling God’s purpose.

The thing He named my treasure.

Then, I sat in the empty space of my large office, on my desk are little vignettes on either corner, newly picked petals and a painting I’m saving for someone, paperweight, a penny on heads and I remembered.

God sees what you don’t say, Lisa.

There’s not a fear he doesn’t know, not a sorrow he can’t understand.

There’s no disappointment He’s not abreast of and hoping you’ll hold on through.

There’s no struggle He does not see.

I thought of the books I’d purchased.

One about freedom, one about being the you God made you to be, one, by Rev. Billy Graham and the last one about leaving the childhood church scarred to find the grown-up church of mercy, grace, of Jesus.

So, I reconsidered my concern over all the books about walking a walk of faith that included all the trips and falls and failures.

I reconsidered how that might be too much. I realized it can never be enough.

Never enough likeminded souls seeking a closer walk with Jesus.

Never enough joining of hands and hearts to say, I understand, it’s progress not perfection and let me tell you how far I fell before I figured how to stand again.

I thought of David again, how he struggled with being chosen to be a fighter. I thought of the emotional cries for help, pleas for rescue as well as his praises to God for provision.

The Book of Psalms, a menagerie of misery and yet, innumerable expressions of praise.

The Book, like the ones on my shelf, stories of struggling people turned toward God.

Maybe we need even more stories.

Maybe mine.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Almost 30 years ago, a friend had mercy on me. She said she “wasn’t gonna let me go.”

Today, she got a Bible in the mail.

There were no tiny birds on its cover; instead, the teeny tiniest little flowers scattered on pale green stems.

I found the ribbon inside and marked the place, added in light pencil, an angel in the margin, then ever so faintly, I circled the number of the promise.

The one she loves most.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Psalms‬ ‭46:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God in my midst, I’ll not be moved. My help comes with every new morning.

Joy, strength, quiet beginnings and chances again made new.


I’m linking this post up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at Tell His Story. If you ever struggle with what it means to leave your past behind, Jennifer’s truth on how Jesus feels about our past gives s new perspective. Three words I’ll hold onto, “Keep your mat.”


3 thoughts on “Bare Branches and Strong Spines

  1. Thank you. You’ve expressed wonderings I’ve often wondered. I agree. Instead of less we need more stories of God’s great faithfulness. More scripture and shared encouragement which all produces more courage for us all, collectively amid individually.
    Your friend is blessed to know you.
    We, your readers, are blessed as well. ❤


  2. Lisa, I’m so glad to have found your blog again. These words are so encouraging. I come back to this again and again: “Do we need to be lost and looking all over the place, bumping into people and places here on earth, never fitting in and then remembering oh, my heavens…we were made for heaven, not here?” I think we do.

    Your words are a balm. I’m so glad you sent that Bible. A dear friend of mine sent me that verse once in a handwritten letter – then it was in my Bible reading this morning again and now in your post. I love how God speaks- yes, He is in the midst of us, we will not be moved. He has created us to tell our story because it is HIS story in and through us. I’m so thankful to God for your sharing. I always leave so encouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

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