Not So Far So Fast

I thought of the words to describe myself and two friends last week. I smiled to myself knowing I’d not find these three referenced in my Bible, just an idea maybe of them.

unhurried finds

The words?

Spunk, Dainty and Floundering.

I thought of my friend who goes by “Mel”, of her unwavering devotion to those she loves. I thought of her allegiance to me, although unnecessary. I thought of her sorrow in the aftermath of the untimely death of her husband. I hoped for resilience to remain her strongest quality. I longed to hope she’d rely on the smallest bit of spunk she is known for.

Still, I knew the days ahead would unsteady her. I cried when I told her I couldn’t find the word spunk in my Bible. She listened to me struggling to articulate my lost for words rambling over her loss.

My friend, the merciful one. The one with “spunk”.

Another friend, as gentle as a dove joined me for lunch and we caught up. I shared the decision to publish the children’s book, the journey from looking at birds on walks with my granddaughter to deciding to say “yes” to the commitment for it to become a book.

She listened and faintly smiled, not with excitement, just acknowledging what she knew was significant. I noticed her hands as she listened, diminutive and folded. I thought oh my goodness, she is so dainty.

I wondered later if the word “dainty” could be found in my Bible. I looked and as expected, no mention.

My friend who has much in common with me, an artist, a quiet friend who is longing to see how far life will take her.

She asked me to guess what she’d taken a chance on doing. I gave no answer because she was giddy to tell me.

She told me she’d learned to paddleboard, no idea why, she just decided to try.

I imagine her balanced amongst the other lake people, her petite frame having lots of room on the board but I shook my head and asked, “How on earth did you do it? I guess you must have good balance or strong legs, I could never do it!”

I thought of how I’d always thought of her so dainty, so delicate, not physically strong, more emotionally fit…dainty.

She answered that it is not dependent on your strength or your being able to balance, it is about trusting the board, allowing your body to let the board be in control.

Trust more than skill.

Days ago, I watched my granddaughter pick up and put down her little pink shoe clad feet.

The land that surrounds her home is bordered by paths, some grassy, others a mixture of sand, roots, big rocks and pebbles.

We walk together. I allow her independence with reminders of “careful” or “hold my hand” when her excitement for living causes her to prance ahead and risk tripping on rocks or over her own precious feet.

I bring my hand down to meet her tiny fingers, “Hold grandma’s hand.” I say and she either latches on or with a big girl motion huffs and shoos me away.

I smile. I watch. Soon she turns towards me and finds my hand and then lifts up in a surrender to be carried by me for part of the way.

She is learning independence and accepting assistance, the play of the two.

We walk together. We scamper. We dance. We sing and we gather pretty things, no hurry. No pressure, a rhythm of acceptance, balancing independence and surrender.

Holding accomplishment in one hand and humility in the other.

“Floundering”, the word I assigned to how I’d been feeling, the third word not found in my Bible; yet, the perfect description for my confusion, my unsteady thoughts, my leaning one way and fearing falling or leaning too far the other and tripping over my impatience.

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Floundering thoughts, death compromised spunk and resilience, and assumptions about the fragility in our feeble dainty frames.

Each of those telling me, steady yourself, your heart, your trust.

Steady now.

Not so far so fast.

Continue and believe.

Enduring Fragility

Mama’s Book

Were it not for the fabric mask over most of my face, my response would’ve worsened the incident.

I was browsing the big sale at the Target entrance. I heard a loud crash and a moan. I looked over to see the feet of an elderly woman in shoes like mine, except her shoes slippery with mud, had caused her to fall.

She laid there as the red shirt employees called for a certain code on their radio walkie talkie looking phone.

I turned the corner and looked away as the thin older woman insisted, “I am okay.”

Yet, she still sat on the floor near the entrance. I didn’t look her way. A crowd had gathered. Enough people were gawking sympathetically already.

I felt my knees weaken. I wanted so badly to cry. I felt the welling up and the ache in my chest. I suddenly needed to cry. I wasn’t sure I could change my heart’s mind. My eyes moistened at the thought of the lady on the floor.

I saw her walking then, carefully and with evidence of an ache, proof of fragility.

Earlier in the week, I’d thought of endurance, felt better about the current call to endure in that endurance is to be expected if one hopes to see more clearly, live more by faith.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I accepted endurance as transformative. I felt optimistic about my enduring.

I pulled a book from the shelf from a long time ago.

“What God Can Do” by Deborah Mathis is a compilation of stories of people who gave up on God and themselves and then, faith and prayers …God came through.

The author begins with her personal story. I remembered it wrong. Her father, a cancer diagnosis, he lived longer twenty or so years longer than doctors thought possible.

The author as a child had prayed it to be so.

I put the book back on my shelf. The book I retrieved from my mama’s house after her death.

Shame, I felt shame for giving her the book when she was very ill. There’s a handwritten note on the first page. I can hardly think of it, a note to my living mama telling her my daughter has written down a Bible verse and put it on the fridge.

“Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:50‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then more. My friend is close by in a hospital with her husband. He has test results of a degenerative brain disease that means not hopeful.

One thought led to others. My daddy almost 20 years ago beat cancer but died because of a rare pneumonia type bacterial infection. My mama, trying to get well but unable to process all of the medicines, her pancreas failed, medication toxicity.

Yes, parents pass away. I know this. But, both way too soon and both of crazy rare turns of events.

No wonder I walked the aisles of Target thinking, “Soon, I will need to cry. I will need to allow the breaking of me because of my friend’s husband and for my parents.”

The heavy burden lingered, the longing to believe in the goodness of endurance, the hope that all things are eventually for good.

It lingered all day. I painted.

I completed a commission with the only insight, photos from the person’s home.

I looked towards the painting from yesterday. I’d been sitting at my desk. I made a new list, I read words from my Bible, I looked at the redemptive figure I’d painted on canvas. It reminded me of an abandoned woman in a wilderness of her very own making and of being seen and known.

The painting was named, “The God Who Sees”.

This evening, I accepted my own heaviness. I thought of how waiting brings clarity, brings redemption and peace.

I told myself waiting is necessary although it is not pleasant.

Waiting to feel less fragile.

Waiting to see God move.

It happened in an unexpected way, the way life circles back and weakens your knees again.

The buyer of the commission with a background of grey and blue asked if “God Who Sees” was still available. She has a sister who lost a son to suicide and she needs to know that God knows, God sees.

The feeling came. The evidence of God in everything. A stranger sees the “God Who Sees” just as I had seen.

She shares the loss of a nephew to suicide. I read her message. I stand still at the kitchen sink and I know I must give this painting away.

Me, now an artist, sort of writer although not so great blogger, a woman who counseled people who lost others to suicide, I have painted a painting which will now go to a mother who no longer has her son.

And so, I knew for sure, the painting will be gifted. The encounter via messaging that gave me cause to truly see endurance and gave me opportunity to think less of myself and give something, art to someone else.

And that was the tying the knot in this week’s regretfully melancholy and honest week, that was the evidence of good still to be done, the unveiling of the truth, even fragility is glorious.

Able to endure because of all we’ve endured with fragility already. Endurance is a peaceful settling for what happened unlike we had wished.

Prayed for.

So, I walked this evening and came home to see my “Savannah girl” standing strong in the changing air, the feel of Fall, the season we have not yet seen.

And the decision to put others stories of faith away and to just believe in the faith stories of my own.

Endurance is what we do because we know God is good. Fragility is the reminder unexpected of the humanity of us, the stories we thought might end differently and didn’t, the people God puts right in front of us to remind us we are okay.

We fall, we falter.

But, we’re not defeated.

Like the woman who fell on her way to pick up prescriptions, not in reply to anyone’s question as they circled around her to respond in the proper way.

“I am okay.” she said to herself first and then to them and she then rose up from the floor, adjusted her purse, steadied her walk and continued toward the purpose she was there for.

Continue and believe.

Endure, even if you feel fragile.

Addendum: My Georgia friend, the one who loves so well, the one I’ve assigned the color red, mercy, let me know this morning. She held her husband closely as died in her arms. Their’s was a great love, a crazy legacy leaving love.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Sunday

I painted, rested, had a good phone conversation, read three chapters and prayed today.

No agenda.

Different this evening, my walking after a long lingering day at home.

I’m wearing my glasses, no need for contacts at 7:00 on a Sunday evening.

White paint on my new shorts and my phone in a pouch strapped round my waist, the convenient thing my children made fun of.

The Labrador and I walked in a good rhythm, I allowed him the time to sniff the grass or whatever he discovered.

No music, no perky and/or intentionally subdued voice of podcast education.

No intentional distractions.

Just walking.

Just praying.

The tall pines wore halos, a beautiful scene over the water.

I absorbed it, the beauty of the open walk on Sunday evening.

Left my phone in my pouch and kept the beauty in my thoughts.

Progress towards peace.

I felt it and remembered the early morning Psalm, remembered my decision to be hopeful, not be drawn into fear and woe.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭42:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Better

A deer jumped from the field onto my path and I slowed. I expected another and then, yes, a young one skirted on wobbly legs all by itself into the woods.

I thought of the season, not being a hunter or having knowledge of why they were out walking so early, feeding I assumed, preparing for something, going some set aside place or looking for seclusion.

Later, instead of the regular “walk around the block” I saw an opening. A deeply wooded path, narrow with a valley and then a slight curve that made me curious about where it might lead.

I stepped in with the baby. Very quiet, very careful to watch my feet. We looked together up towards heaven in an enchanted gaze.

The brown ground was covered in seasoned oak leaves. I moved slowly with intention and walked unafraid.

Standing still to see a pair of cardinals and hear the rustling in the branches of others, I listened.

I thought. I am sixty-and a day years old today. It’s okay.

I saw God there and I felt him see me. Thinking towards the next things because of uncertainty of where the path may take me if I choose the more wooded way at the top of the hill.

I turned back, the peaceful way called my name. I chose to take the simple route, the one I had barely begun to know.

I turned and was greeted by the view of an opening like a garden entrance, a glow of gold and green that begged me to see.

You discovered a new way today, now step back into the old path forever changed by your seeing.

The settled way, the way without accomplishment, goal or agenda.

The trusting way, the way to allow God to show me instead of anxiety’s need of always knowing, forever second guessing and harboring remorse because they did and I didn’t.

The better.

Mary, the sister of Martha chose to be settled, to choose the better in a time women were expected to be fixers of things, holders of it all together, preparers of perfectly orchestrated outcome things.

Perhaps, I may be exaggerating here. Naturally, I didn’t live in the days of the sisters who had Jesus come to dinner.

But, I have lived in days of huge expectations and pressures and I am beginning to understand, allow, most of all believe in the better.

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:42‬ ‭NLT‬‬

To linger longer in the places God calls me, to slow down and believe he sees me.

Late in the afternoon, I watched from the windows. The trees that were far from me reminded me of a stormy ocean tide rolling on. The rhythm of their sway and the brushing up of the trees was a dance with the wind.

Synchronicity. I had said a quiet prayer, a pause and I opened my eyes and sat still.

I sat and rested my eyes on the horizon of dark cloudless sky, the gathering of trees.

Knowing it’s impossible to stay here for long, there are many things to do.

But, for a moment, and more moments later.

I can choose the new and the better, redemption this side of heaven.

Turning Towards Better

God has more power than the forces of harm.

This thought became a decision this morning. I woke happily relieved of a restless night that included a horribly realistic dream.

I was pleasantly awakened by the slight sound of “ding”. It reminded me of a whisper, maybe a mama coming close, saying “Sweetie, it’s time to get up.”

Expecting a photo of my granddaughter, I reached for the phone, slid it under the covers so I wouldn’t wake my husband.

Instead of a photo, it was a message from someone who messages me each year a couple of days before my birthday. Each year, the message includes “Toward”.

I open it to enjoy a video of Schroeder from the Peanuts at the piano playing a classical version of the birthday song. Lucy barges in and wants to sit next to him. He says no and she huffs away complaining something akin to creatives needing their space!

I smiled.

I turned towards the glow of morning and opened my palm to give God today, to ask for His guiding.

The birds were uplifting in the tone of their chirping as I sat to journal. This too, I welcomed.

It was time to make sense of the nightmare, time to process it and take what good I could from a vivid story, someone trying to once and for all kill me and me imploring them.

“No, things are better. Things are different.”

I spoke those words to the evil in my sleep.

I woke and remembered the horrible parts along with the prayers I’d prayed just yesterday in my private place.

I’d listened to a podcast about miracles. It stuck with me that we can be bold in our asking; but, first we must let go any unforgiveness.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:24-25‬ ESV

I prayed that way yesterday, forgiving people and forgiving behaviors.

Forgive me for my failures as I forgive those who failed me.

The day continued well and then the inability to sleep followed by the scary reminiscent dream.

I steadied my mind and set my intentions on “toward” as I wrote a note to myself. “What can I take from this?”

In the quiet, God answered.

I have no doubt it was Him.

In the nightmare, my words were clear. I was not silenced by the offender.

I spoke firmly and said. “But things are better, you don’t have to harm me anymore.”

Hearing my own voice was significant, I realized and different than the nightmares of before.

Better is believing God.

Better is believing in my very own prayers, my voice. Better is being confident that God has more power than the forces of harm.

Two separate podcasts and a birthday message sealed the deal of this hopeful conversation between God and me.

A podcast on the Lord’s Prayer reminding me of God as my loving father, a podcast about deciding to be “with” God, a God of miracles in every endeavor.

Both were reassuring of the good God I love and who loves me.

My heart danced with joy when Allen Arnold (author of “The Story of With”) spoke of deciding on a dream with God’s agreement and beginning to flourish.

This was confirmation. This is the story of “Look at the Birds” a soon to be published children’s book about worry. A story God spoke so clearly one morning and then kept speaking, “don’t just let this go.”

But, I almost did. Yesterday, I found a note to myself. I almost gave up on the book. I’d added to my to do list, “just hang the bird paintings in Elizabeth’s room.”

That very day the publishing company called to discuss moving forward. I said “Yes, I’ve decided. I’m ready to publish.”

Knowing that there’s no clear measure of success monetarily or simply the book having readers.

However, the success is in the continuing towards a calling, the creativity of God in me.

The memories of last night’s terror have completely subsided. It’s midmorning and I’m looking forward to an early birthday celebration later. I’m thinking of another heron painting. I’m remembering the prayer I believe.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God, you have miracles unseen.

I hope you’ll believe this for you.

Look at the birds.

Continue and believe.

Here are the links to the podcasts referenced:

Susie Larson with Addison Bevere

The Thriving Christian Artist with Allen Arnold

Following Well

This is one of those posts that needs a disclaimer: Memoir type personal plus possibly all over the place rambling, one of those that simply recording it cements the value of it all coming together.

Oh, and about aging and accepting it and not being caught up in regret.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16

I made a scribbled list of verses that comforted and confirmed my hopeful thoughts. I read a familiar passage, one used to reassure or comfort others after a disappointment, tragedy or just acceptance of unexpected change.

“God will make good of it.” Christians are known to say.

I cried the night before in front of my husband, not a horribly uncontrollable weeping, more a soft release. Tender, it felt.

We were catching up on things, I needed a few minutes of his attentiveness. Earlier, I pulled into the driveway and he greeted me and the only reply I gave was, “That did not go very well at all.”

He asked for an explanation. I said “later” and realized I was worn out from sharing how this unexpected thing made me feel, exhausted over trying to have another person understand my needs, my secrets, my reasons for anxiety.

Psalm 107 caused me to say softly this morning, “Wow”.

I’d found one verse and it fit and then I turned to read the chapter entirely, the one with the header in my Bible, “Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So”.

“Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I still have things to say, the optimism of this truth met me.

I thought of my years of wandering, most of them not a misleading of my own making, but of being caught up, trapped, lost and to this day surprised to be a survivor.

I paused to pray. I thanked God for keeping me safe, for preserving my life.

Some things have happened in these pandemic panicked days that have triggered me.

Felt similar. There are requirements of this time that remind of control, of powerful demand, of being silenced; the mask I wear as mandated shields me for my health and others yet, reminds of being held down, told not to yell.

Last month, my dental woes began. A bridge that made up for four lost from damage teeth shifted and broke from one tooth that was an anchor.

I stood up in my art room, felt the slight change and it fell into the palm of my open hand.

“Bewildered” is a word my precious cousin used to describe me as a child. At gatherings she says she remembers seeing the expression in my preteen eyes and thinking, bewildered.

I was relieved that someone had seen it.

Here I find myself, a few days from 60 and bewildered again. Having to be reminded of the blows to my face and the hard slaps on my cheek over thirty years ago. The dental surgeon displayed the elaborate 3-D images of the jawline, the place where the cheek makes a little circle when I smile, the place that is now in resting mode as I prefer not to smile due to this gap of only gum because of broken bridge that covered missing teeth.

The surgeon seemed empathic, so I felt I should give an explanation as to why due to past trauma I was not a viable candidate for dental implants.

Why someone who looks pretty okay now at one time was not.

So, I spoke of my past. Soon after, wishing I hadn’t. It was not safe to share. Not that it was taken lightly or not heard, it was not safe for me to hear my own sharing.

It reminded me of being unseen and unheard in my past and deciding to stop asking, to change my expectations.

So, that night my husband sat and I told him how I felt in the dental chair and how the trauma of my past was being reborn and fighting to be thought and overthought. Saying this to him helped.

I cried a little and then decided to change my thoughts. I decided to resist the downward plummet into always a victim.

This is transformation, this intention to be aware of my safety, to begin to see that this is what Paul meant when he wrote all things God makes good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance and He chose them to become like His Son. Romans 8:28 NLT

I saw this often quoted verse differently. It is not that God wants me to accept that the bad things were bad and somehow I am to accept that they will be made good. It is not that we don’t have sorrow, are expected to hide our longings for our mother and father who died before seeing a grandchild. It is not that we are naive thinking a crisis that leads to pain will magically feel better, be considered a good thing.

No, this passage is about the good that comes with acceptance of the bad and to continue to thrive, to continue to move towards a likeness of Jesus, to decide not to be pulled into misery over trauma, to be intentional in your speaking to your self, “You are safe. You made it and you have so much more making. You have still more story of redemption to tell.”

You can feel it. You are being called towards God’s purpose.

The purpose? Transformation

Your body is aging, shifting, even moving towards failing. All the while your spirit is blooming like a wildflower spread!

You were lost in a sad wilderness long ago. You decided on a different path, there were helpers but you set out at first on your own. You were and remain found!

A blind beggar lingered roadside as Jesus walked by. He and the disciples had just discussed which of the twelve would be most important of all. Jesus did not entertain the conversation as they continued on, only telling them not to be surprised that the last will be first.

The blind man spoke out, shared his plight and asked for mercy. The onlookers told him to be quiet. Jesus heard him and told him to come near. He jumped up from the dirt and went straight to Jesus. Jesus asked him how he could help and the man, blind Bartimaeus told him he wanted to see.

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:49-51 NIV

There are many stories of healing in the Bible with similar endings, people in need are made well. People who’ve been harmed are healed. People who have been wronged or been wrong receive mercy.

Their faith, our faith has healed us.

And so they move forward in that very faith as followers, not backward glancers filled with regret or question of why and how and what was that sorrow’s purpose anyway?

He brought them out of the darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Psalm 107:14 ESV

Shortly, I will be back in the dental chair. I will begin the process to choose a partial (oh, that word!) over implants and I will accept what seems, feels and sounds so bad is best for me, is better. Better, than I expected.

I am safe. I am well.

I am still following. Continuing and believing.

Made good.

The Very Best Dream

Found feather

I woke up and remembered, I had the very best dream.

I told my grown up children, with me because of our beach vacation.

We were all together the night before. They both know my ways. My son, for years slept across the hall, sometimes heard my night terrors. Morose recollections typically triggered by the slightest unintentional fear created dramas in my sleep.

So, when like a breath of fresh clear air, I had an optimistic dream, I had to tell them.

The night before we’d all sat together around the table. Adult children joining in conversation about Co-Vid, the election, the changing world known as America.

My son-in-law shared a video being shared all around. A county or city meeting somewhere in Florida and an invocation to something, anything other than God that led to six or so people standing and leaving.

The person giving the invocation prayed to nature and the earth and the only mention of Jesus was that he “might” forgive us.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by the video, I’d been in similar meetings, I told them.

I recalled a time I chaired a coalition I initiated to understand the issue of homelessness. I added that a member of the coalition decided each meeting should begin with a “good thought”, a sort of prayer.

I told my family, I never left the room, I simply did not bow my head. I did not join in the prayers that forbade the mention of Jesus.

Then I said to them,

It’s really going to be different for your children, an effort really to keep talking about Jesus.

Then my husband added that it will be okay, our parents probably felt the same worries.

Then we all said goodnight and exhausted from heat and beach went to bed.

I dreamt of a group regathering. I must’ve been invited as if a charter member or ex-officio sort of thing.

Three days after the dream, the details are skewed.

Like a reunion, we all spoke of what we’d been up to.

I stood in front of twenty or so people and I talked about my relationship with Jesus. I told the people who prayed the prayer excluding God and Jesus why I prayed differently.

I’d been with these people before. This time I felt welcome.

I felt free to be me.

I spoke with clarity. They were enthralled and actively listened. In the dream, there were men and women encircling me, attentive.

I recalled my days of being afraid of God, of being certain of my unworthiness, my days of working hard as a teenage peddler of paper booklets called tracts. I convincingly told of my God whom I believe in.

Someone, a well-dressed theologian sort asked,

“When did you decide to believe in God?”

In the dream I answered “about twenty years ago”.

And the questioner added, “that’s a long time, a long time…where are you now” as if I shouldn’t still be increasing my believing.

And I answered.

I’m just still growing and I’ll keep growing in my knowing of God.

It was the best dream. I’d been in meetings, spoken to large crowds, detailed our need for support and hinted occasionally of my faith.

But only hinted.

Tonight after unpacking sandy beach coolers, clothes and stuff, I had a good walk and thought of the dream that sang of freedom.

As I walked, I opened my palm easily upward to heaven and I thought, prophetic dream.

Not having a clue if that’s a possibility of me…for me.

Prophetic? Me?

My friend says these are not the days to lean into Jesus, rather these are the days to press ourselves to Him.

I couldn’t help but think of impression, allowing God’s impression to be made on me.

No longer overthinking it, not being afraid of it not being true.

Simply believing that it is just as Jesus said, He is the way. He is the answer to His Father’s plan so we have hope, experience peace and eternity with Him.

Google the sinner’s prayer or search the Bible or if you’re fortunate like me, a kind voice will tell you if you ask how it can be…

“Just pray for mercy.” they may answer.

Understand you were born a sinner, admit it. Confess that realization in a prayer to your Creator and then believe in Jesus and keep believing despite the world finding it irrational or a silly offensive fairy tale.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Allow Jesus to begin your transformation, as you press in.

Left forever, that mark like a print from an original masterpiece making.

Four days without journaling other than scribble marks with the baby, I read my Bible this evening.

“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

These are old words with timely discovering by me.

Cleave, to unwaveringly believe.

Cleave, not a word you might use usually.

This is me. This was me in my happy dream, being brave and contentedly certain of being loved by God, cleaving.

And God loving me.

Sweet dreams.

Say your prayers and sweet dreams.

23rd Psalm and the Nearness of God

I saw God today in the tiny hand that reached for mine, the searching and saying “yellow” as we spotted leaves lying in late summer sand ready for new season.

My morning drive, an early one considering the four months of no rushing necessary, was a good one. A podcast I love on Tuesdays, ended with a gentle recitation of Psalm 23, The Message version.

“GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Today included some garden hose water play followed by chalk art on the porch and then coloring with fat crayons on an old cardboard box.

Then lunch, then counting the seventeen stair steps together, then a book and then her midday slumber.

Then, quiet.

A house so quiet.

I remembered a time when the phrase was common, a question meant to bring self-assessment.

Where did you see God today?

I knew for sure I’d seen God in the sweet sleepy eyes of Elizabeth and in the light landing on the wild fuzzy fern. I saw God first thing as I drove up the hill to their home, listening to the 23rd Psalm.

I had lowered the window to capture the sunbeams through the lean early morning trees.

Later realizing that wasn’t the most beautiful thing.

The most beautiful sight captured was the little image of the mirror and the winding road behind me, the place I’d come from on my way to where I was going.

Beauty and love have been chasing after me all the days of my life.

Today, I saw God and I saw them both.

Where did you see God today?

The Pace of Peace

I’ve taken some advice I used with others making their way towards change, women working to steady their lives after losing their footing.

I remember suggesting,

“Look in the mirror, you’ll know how you’re doing. You’ll see if you’re changing.”

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I see the signs of aging, the crinkly look of already used tissue paper is the texture of the skin on my neck.

My nose is wide, not graceful or balanced below my eyes.

My lashes are short and somehow my actual eyes appear tiny.

This was the observation early morning after sleep not coming and my frustration over it.

I’m one who needs my sleep and very well knows it. I woke up to the problem when I got up close and peered into the bathroom mirror.

I remember just days ago an acquaintance and I talking about not recognizing each other after a few years because of the mandatory mask.

The old friend disagreed, told me he’d recognize my eyes anywhere, that they are very intense.

I wonder how it can be when age and life it seems are dulling their blueness so rapidly.

No amount of wrinkle cream or remedy seem to make a difference.

The difference is deeper, it’s the soul of me I am learning.

Two days after fixating on the size of my nose I visited the early morning mirror and now, it’s daily. I compare me to that sad selfie I won’t be sharing, thank you, as a tool to assess what I believe.

Beauty is born in the soul. Clarity and hope will not shine through if the source of them both is sought outside the place that inhabits God in us.

To be honest, it’s the approaching sixtieth that has me accepting my appearance and racing to catch up with time wasted not caring about my health or caring too much obsessively towards harm.

So, Monday has me focused on what I know now and what I’m doing that is good.

Because I can’t circle back on life’s walk and erase unhealthy choices. I can’t run ahead and anticipate or offset dreadful aging.

I can live today.

Begin again every morning knowing God keeps no records of wrongs only watches and nudges us toward learning.

I can look in the mirror and marvel over its honest reflection. I can be happy over my current condition trusting my eyes will tell me what is different as well as what choices I make that need to be different.

God is with me.

All the way. Good things are coming with brave choices and gentle faith in myself as I wait.

As He waits for me not to undo my past or catch up, just to join alongside Him.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Want to know the condition of your soul?

Look into your morning mirror first thing and then continue.

Continue and believe.

It is well.

It is well with my soul.

Ask the Questions

Last week, I asked a question of someone I never thought of asking. I reminded myself of times leading and training others, how I’d tell them if you ask a question, that shows you are committed to learning and it also shows me you’re okay with not knowing as long as you trust that you can learn.

I asked three precise questions to help me with a writing decision and the person who answered, answered with “No problem, that’s what I’m here for”.

And I didn’t think it until today, this lost and listless morning, I should ask God to help me unravel these feelings, this lost exhaustion.

And He did.

“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Being honest with God about the empty and boring angst my morning began with led to a gradual shift.

Numb due to the daily same no indication of change because of pandemic, discord and lack of good sleep due to dreams about Christmas, I’m barely moving as I go towards the coffee.

I sit with pen, open my Bible, circle boldly the word “trust” and then add the same letters on the place below my thumb, add a cross where the big nail pierced Him.

Flat, unmotivated, agenda-less and only pending set aside for later ideas kind of days.

I decide fresh air may enthuse me and I see the sunlight on the wild purple flowers.

I find the tomato sweet granddaughter discovered and dropped. It seems a rabbit took a bite out of its side, left it near the porch.

I find the new red bloom on the daisies and I see the geese crossing the road slowly, unconcerned over the big truck lightly tapping a beat with its horn.

The geese take their time, their plans for today are the same as the days before.

I saw the acceptance of rest in all of it. The empty slate day that welcomes restoration in a gradual way, the renewing of my mind, a required reminder.

Today, a summer Sunday perfect for quiet supplication of a clean slate, anxious clutter cleared and a willingness to be okay in the widening expanse of waiting.

These are not days of “finger snap” make all things better.

The realization of this, at first is exhausting. Still, these days that represent dwindling hope are only doors to more trusting.

If I could, I’d go stand in the widest open field I could find secluded from all eyes and I’d open my arms way, way wide.

I’d celebrate a realization.

I trust you, God.

I’d celebrate the change quiet brought me on Sunday morning when I woke so depleted. I’d thank God for answering when I asked for restoration. I’d thank Him for new ideas ready to be followed up on. I would thank him for answering all my questions.

I’d be grateful for the dream that kept me thinking although sleeping, I’d thank God for dreams about Christmas.

Because, Christmas is my favorite.

Thank you, God, for correcting my vision.

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Sunday!

Continue and believe.