Because my mood highjacked the majority of my day yesterday, I said to myself.
“Set the tone today, self talk that’s harmful not allowed, only hope.”
So, I was awakened by a phone call that didn’t alarm as was my startled assumption.
I made extra creamy coffee by mistake; groggy, I added half and half and honey times two.
I sat with the soft blanket and then invited more comfort,
Threw off the throw pillows, spread smooth the quilt, patted the couch cushion and invited the dog.
Stretched out now almost the length with his nose near my hip, I breathe, tell myself to trust, not go all despondent and frustrated over what people are saying, showing in their vacant glances about our coming days.
Sip my coffee, rest my hand on the labrador and journal loosely today’s plans.
Sit with comfort more than a moment.
Beyond this sweet sitting, remember your words.
Now turn to today’s Advent Book, one that was gifted, one you’re wondering if it’s too late to order a bunch as gifts.
Embrace the day’s offering.
The one you loved on this date last year, underlines and sweet red circled words.
Sit a minute more and then, maybe breakfast then art with God, an overdue haircut later.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 ESV
The book may be out of stock, it’s worth searching for.
All sorts of people and places are all conniving it seems in a way to keep me pressing on.
Unbeknownst to most, they are cooperating with God.
Yesterday, I turned my phone towards the window and captured this candy color view, the dashboard angle now making me think an angel must’ve been my passenger.
I parked my car, turned to one side to see the same orange horizon laced with branches and turned to see the brilliant circle of moon shining.
“I’m bordered, one side sun and the other moon. I’m secure.”
Some point I stopped waking up with one palm raised and the prayer, “Woke up well, thank you God”
I’m afraid I must’ve grown tired of the affirmation.
Or it’s just shifted.
In my journal instead I scribbled.
I’m still here.
God is still with me.
Then opened the Passion translation of Psalm 136 and I John, the Book.
Scripture of the day now also messages from God just for me.
“Give thanks to the Lord over all lords! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the only miracle working God! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the Creator who made the heavens with wisdom! His tender love for us continues on forever!
Praise the one who created every heavenly light! His tender love for us continues on forever! He set the sun in the sky to rule over day! His tender love for us continues on forever! Praise him who set in place the moon and stars to rule over the night! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalms 136:3-5, 7-9 TPT
Then, the tone of continuing continued. A post on FB from a wise man:
“The greatest regret for a child of God will come from finding out that Jesus had to use someone else to do what He told you to do.” Cleve Walker
“Wow.”, my comment.
I sit in the warmth of Wednesday morning. The light landing the way I love it and I wonder if others agree, I love my home so much more at Christmas, I love the peace of the sparkle and soft light. I love the glimmer of blue against gold all mingled with evergreen. I could gaze there all day, accept this gift of peace.
“Woke up well, thank you.”
I’m still here, God is with me. I have things to do.
My new journal has a place in the corner for the date and subject. This invitation to narrow my focus has given space to pause, minimalistic it seems my quiet time is becoming.
It kind of astounds me the depth of thought God rouses me with every morning. I say I’m not deserving of it and He says, “Yes, you are, think on it a little and then share it with whoever.”
Today, grace was and is the subject. Grace that longs for strong holding, grace that says hold on.
So, in my journal under the word “trust” encircled and the names of my children, up above a question, “God, what is mine to do today?”
Then, a summation
From God’s perspective it’s always who we are becoming, the life we accept, His invitation of grace to enter into. Who we are becoming matters so much more to our Holy and SovereignFather thanwho we were or even at this very second who we are. Maybe, I’ve decided that’s a better description of faith than my pen has ever recorded.
Today, I will go with grace towards greater faith.
Grace that responds to my floundering with flourish.
Leads me to places that bring sweet examples of others who knew grace and who were quietly bold.
Three places in scripture, the woman who anointed Jesus is mentioned. The words he used to defend her, to exhibit love and grace because in His eyes she deserved it, caused a sigh in my chest, a tear in my eye. I thought this is what grace sees us capable of, becoming people who never question devotion, aren’t stingy with our love.
“I promise you that as this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to me will be mentioned in memory of her.” Jesus Mark 14:9 TPT
Grace says keep coming towards me, keep learning, keep becoming, you’re not yet home and I’m not done with showing you love and courage.
Someone said we shouldn’t have a bucket list if we believe in Jesus, believe in heaven.
Made sense, the whole reality of the mysterious truth of eternity, incomprehensible, some might say fantastical idea of God’s original plan, perfection.
That was a relief at least for me, me who’s never flown. I don’t possess a passport and have zero income except the occasional art purchase and a tiny retirement check.
In case you’re curious, it’s Italy.
Someone else reminded me of counting my many blessings, naming them one by one, noticing things, noticing God. I can do this again, a practice to revisit.
Golden leaves on my headlight lit path
One golden leaf spinning down
A sky sprinkled with stars
A leftover cheese straw wrapped prettily
Watching Elizabeth waking up and talking to her crib friends
Walking together, saying “Hey” to the sunshine and our shadows
Several birds, very small flying upwards into the sky blue sky
Elizabeth sitting all dainty in her chair ringing her little Christmas bell, her smile, pure glee
The sunrise just now and birdsong causing me to go see where they’re nesting
Calming babies holding them close on their first grandparent visit
Listening to adult conversations between children and not adding my two cents, just being enthralled by their wellness, their voices, by them.
Waking up to rain on Thanksgiving and deciding it makes sense, 2020 and all
Stepping out anyway, my eye noticing the puddled up drop on the magenta rose
Clouds like puffs
Finding my children’s baby stuff
Not ruining the steaks or letting the bottoms of the cookies burn
I could go on, the infinite list, none of it “bucket”.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about mercy or grace, about God.
I wonder if I’m qualified at all.
I’ll wait and see and continue to listen.
Continue and believe.
I’m not listless after all.
“You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise. Come right into his presence with thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to him and affectionately bless his beautiful name! For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you— so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!” Psalms 100:4-5 TPT
So, I began again.
I thought of heaven again this morning, thought of the spectacular mystery just like faith, like hope, intangibles.
Invaluable treasures, the list I’m returning to
The smell of sausage in the kitchen
The thrill in the voice of a child over Christmas and drinking from a Santa mug instead of sippy cup
The sound of frenetic keyboard tapping as my son, home all week but a professional, passionate about his work, working.
A gift for no reason, a luxurious blanket that brought security, represented love
My husband’s announcement as he comes down the hall, “another beautiful day”.
“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 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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.