Jesus Beside Us

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, hope, Peace, Prayer, Trust, Vulnerability
With Us

Today’s prompt, 31 days of writing is “equip”.

I think of my education, my experiences and opportunities I pursued bravely or with naivety. I think of little expressions I use to keep myself grounded and at the same time a risk taker. Scripture like all things are possible with God often lead me to think any and everything is worth trying.

But, that leads to half-heartedness or worse, failure because of a lack of knowledge.

Then the decision to stay on the path set for me, the one I know.

Today, I’ll paint thick crosses gilded gold on small canvases to be Christmas ornaments.

I thought of venturing into something new, but crosses are what I know, what I do.

Did I sense God saying “stay simple, Lisa”? Yes, I did. Some call that wisdom, gut feeling, intuition.

I know it’s His Spirit.

A favorite bit of advice I give to friends and family in a new challenge, a scary opportunity for which they doubt their ability is this.

Write “trust” on the place in your palm just below the base of your thumb. Imagine holding hands with Jesus. Imagine his thumb wrapped gently in a loving handhold. Imagine Him beside you.

Trust what you can’t physically feel. Trust that whatever your assignment, God will equip you. Trust that whatever burden or hardship you are carrying, the load is easier when shared.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Lord, help us to remember today that it is you who equips us for life. Help us quietly seek you in private and personal ways so that we can imagine the friendship of you, our helper, our strong defender and guide.

Little Things of Mornings

bravery, contentment, daughters, Faith, family, grief, Peace, rest, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder
Mama’s Chair

“…His grace will lead you in small things as well as great.” Jean Nicolas Grou

I returned to my September spot this morning. I told myself October would be a reset in my health, holiness and change.

Instead, very little changed simply by changing my morning spot. If anything it sort of stalled everything. No table for coffee, no place to place my Bible except my lap.

The morning sunlight through the blinds was blinding instead of a glorious welcome.

Still, I stubbornly chose to sit in the spot because someone said it helps to change your routine, helps to motivate you to do simple things like choosing a different chair.

Three days before November, I’m back on the sofa, my spot on the end.

I look to my left and am reminded.

This is the place of my peace, of growth, acceptance and connection with Jesus.

I gaze at the empty chair, the one that was weathered yellow when I took it from my mama’s house. Now it’s a soft white and becoming more worn from sitting, less angelic.

It’s a soft place.

I look towards the wall and see the sunlight beams finding my art. I see why I needed to return and move slowly towards November.

The place on the sofa that accepts me as I am and greets me with how far I’ve come.

I’ll reserve my mama’s chair for reading or for a certain toddler to rest her chin on the arm as she takes a break from being a “monkey jumpin’ on the bed”.

I’ll treasure the legacy of the yellow garage sale chair, the one that felt special in my mama’s old home and is even more at rest here.

The tiny Target pillow amongst the others reminding me to “see good in all things”.

See good and walk freely.

“and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Keep quietly seeking. You are growing.

What’s Your Calling?

Art, bravery, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

“Follow on, and thou shalt never lose track of that light.” Edward B. Pusey, Joy and Strength

Art at Dusk

I sort of remember the first time I told myself that painting and writing are “my calling”. Several years later, I still question the label that leads to an assessment of whether my work represents such a strong word.

Once I called it my “treasure”, felt that was better. A “gift” may be even easier to accept as the description of what’s more than hobby but less than calling.

“Allow God to cultivate your calling.” Hosanna Wong

I heard these words while walking, having told myself to take a break from podcasts, that I once again had way too many voices in my ear telling me how to finally be at peace with me.

I am prone to quitting a whole thing rather than being patiently selective, giving up rather than testing the waters.

Not finishing things I begin for fear of failure.

The shape of a bird waits on a wood panel. Vibrant colors of green, azure, a little coral brushed boldly to complete the suggested work are only thoughts. Although I’ve painted these before, what if I can’t again?

What if I’ve forgotten how to paint and write?

black bird waiting

That would mean what you thought was your calling was wrong all along.

I consider the words of Hosanna Wong again this morning. Like a middle school diagram sentence, I broke apart the words.

Allow – give someone permission to do something Cultivate – to develop a quality or skill Calling – a strong urge towards a particular way of life

Allow God to cultivate your calling.

There is relief here, this freedom from effort, comparison, numbers of followers, readers, collectors and validators of my work…

Of whether it is or ever was “my calling”.

Because, I’m closer now to understanding

my calling is the calling of every single one of us, to let God lead, show us the way, place us in the places we are needed by others, not the esteemed places of what fulfills our needs

recognition, praise or even kind words.

The pressure is off.

I’ll adjust to this new understanding of calling. It may take some time. I may still fear rejection and thus, hesitate in offering my words and paintings.

Or I may settle in, paint and write because I love it and love the way God made me to love doing it.

Of the seven paintings inspired by Psalm 23, a Bible close by as I painted and breaks in between colors to comfort myself in reading, only one has sold.

Waiting and Trusting

A tiny one, “All I Need” will be shipped today.

I allowed my Bible to fall open in my lap just now. The margin sketch reminding of words from another day.

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s so much I don’t know, don’t fully understand about God’s ways, His love for me, the places He has for me, my words and art to go.

I will follow. I will stay close beside Him. I will find my calling in the listening to His gentle, guiding voice.

I have everything I need.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:2-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I am learning as I continue and believe.

Such a better calling, to just continue.

Continue and believe.

The Gift

Angels, Art, bravery, curiousity, Faith, hope, memoir, painting, rest, testimony, Vulnerability, wonder, writing
Trust

On Sunday, I felt the tone in my voice change to excited, the chance to tell again how it all started, women in redemptive poses, muses of my art.

The story of a new Bible for Christmas, the trend catching on of filling margins with notes, colorful stickers or maybe drawings.

I was reluctant. I remembered warnings of never let your Bible touch the floor, leave it somewhere safe, underline some things and write on little pieces of paper tucked away, the sins you keep sinning.

That’s what you need to remember most, I was raised to think. Keep track of your wrongs, only consider the tiny chance you are worthy of grace.

I was in awe of the mysterious unattainable gift of the Holy Bible for many years.

Gradually, when time alone brought comfort, I began timid sketches of women and stories I could see myself in comparable pain, joy, messes made or willingness to learn.

Willing to come nearer to God.

Brave enough to trust His love.

Love Binds

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:14‬ ‭ESV

I heard love in my voice on Sunday, felt it in the fluttery words lifted into the air as I stood surrounded by my art.

This thing I get to do that leads to stories of a Bible filled with drawings, the word “trust” in dark pen to greet me.

Listening as a passerby stops to say, “This one speaks to me.” I listen and am grateful for the gift of their emotion, their interpretation of the canvas.

Thank you seems insufficient and to add “it means so much” seem like the reply of an amateur, not a “real” artist.

But, I tell them. I tell the ones who see themselves in my art that their purchase, their kind words are a gift.

Because, I mean it and rare is the occasion I say something I don’t mean.

Share your thoughts, words and trust.

You never know what a gift to them it may be.

The gift of you sharing “your Bible”, your life.

Open your Bible, let it speak then speak it through your story.

Stumbling Toward God and Good

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, hope, Prayer, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Early Mornings

I could easily sleep an extra 30, instead I wake to the quiet ring of an almost silenced tone. It takes very little to rouse me. Early mornings have a ritual when work shifts allow my husband to sleep in.

I move to slide my phone to my palm, find my glasses, take a few steps to the bedpost for my soft robe, round the corner soft stepping to the door, I pull it towards me, towards the hall.

I walk softly towards the lamplight of the kitchen, glass of water then coffee with cream and honey.

The spot I call morning calls me and once again I open my journal, write the word “trust” and encircle the names of my children.

I find October 26th on the thin pages and I see the verse above. I sit and read commentaries from people of the 1800’s.

These are the things of my mornings, commitments that may seem to some a ritual.

But, it’s not what I read in the obscure dark of morning, it’s the epiphanies that come as I’m driving country roads and certain knowledge that comes as the daylight comes

Will come more knowledge.

More brilliance, power and a hand raised in the solitude of my car upon recognition and joy that there is power in prayer.

Power that can be shared and power that I’ve asked God to help others experience for themselves.

A car in front of me struggled this morning, driving noticeably too slow. I followed not to close and saw the little car’s tires rub against the curb and then correct. The car accelerated then and I decided I either startled the driver or shook their almost slumber. Finally, they turned onto the road I hope led home.

Another set of headlights followed me too closely and I maintained my course, did my best not to be annoyed.

Because I saw them in a new light.

I considered maybe they don’t like darkness driving either. Maybe my morning route seemed steady to them. Perhaps, they felt safe following me, so no need to speed around me or to hurry.

It’s this way with faith. When we’re steady when steadiness makes so sense.

We continue. We grow. We show others we’re not fully grown, we just keep walking, stumbling in the steps we’re certain keep us moving with and towards God.

Prayer walking, praying at all times and in every situation brings light to our darkness.

The light of the world to our own little worlds.

Continue and believe.

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Believe in the power of prayer.

The power of a spectacular new day, the sunrise the color of zinnias.

The power of new perspectives.

Thinking

confidence, contentment, Faith, family, hope, memoir, Peace, Redemption, surrender, Vulnerability, wonder

Every window called me closer, the horizon layered in a display of indigo, grey and powdery blue.

The clouds thick and volcanic in puffed up borders.

The Day 25 of 31 days of writing prompt is “think”. Rather than thinking immediately, “I got this”

I got nothing.

Other than the decision to continue learning that my thoughts are directly related to my feelings and my feelings have fault lines in the places they’re unavoidably connected to past trauma.

So, today when anxiety threatened over something similar to long ago, instead of bracing for battle and chastising myself and my thinking by saying to self “This is not that.” in a “snap out of it” tone

I elaborated by thinking, “No,

This is not that. But it is the same feeling.”

Then I gave myself permission to do a calm comparison.

I have feelings. But I’m not the actual feeling.

I can feel uncertain and still have a little self- aware conversation and become more certain.

Now, here I am at dusk. The clouds of morning giving way to night.

I’m still captivated.

Maybe I’m closer to viewing life this way.

Captivated.

The geese are now approaching.

I think of my mama, lovingly, longingly, loyally.

This evening not being the “that” of those before.

Nearer This Year

Christmas, contentment, Faith, hope, Peace, Stillness, Vulnerability, wonder

“So now wrap your heart tightly around the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps his promises!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭TPT‬‬

More than one person has agreed with me, “I’m putting up my Christmas tree early this year.”

Like the leaves changing and popping out brilliant colors, Winter comes and with it, Christmas.

With Christmas, hope.

Witt hope, peace on earth, in our homes.

Hope anyway and always.

Draws us nearer to Jesus in the quiet place of hoping for better, intentionally making the holidays more about God’s gift to us than whether we’ll have gifts for others.

So, maybe decorate early. Sit in the silent evening. Consider your tree as you remember the rugged cross.


“Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.” Fannie Crosby

Happy Sunday.

Continue and believe.

Paths of Our Choosing

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, freedom, grandchildren, Peace, Redemption, testimony, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I’m remembering just now, my grandmother took us all walking. The cousin weekend retreat always included a walk on the curvy clay road.

How had it not realized the resemblance until now…the deep ditches covered in growth, the ditches we’d jump in and stand still like statues until the old truck passed by?

My grandmother commanding, “Hit the Ditch”.

How we remember becomes how we see.

I’m reading two new books, one fiction the other non. One discovered and one recommended, “Sugar Birds” by Cheryl Bostrom and “Your Stories Don’t Define You” by Sarah Elkins.

Barely into either, I am learning.

Ideas like telling your story to and through others and the power of memories we give ourselves permission to explore more deeply, building a better story.

When my granddaughter and I walk, we sing a little song about staying safely in the middle and we’ve made a game of jumping over roots instead of getting tangled.

Yet, when I walk alone, the neighborhood walking trail or the sharp turn on the busy road, I’m less cautious, in a way a stubborn walker.

The trail is disrupted by large old roots. I walk swiftly and keep on even though on a few occurrences the toe of my shoe butts up against the thick branch and I catch myself from falling face first.

It occurs to me it’s a stubborn resilience, this choice.

It occurs to me now I choose the dangerous path because I’ve decided it’s still my assignment to not be defeated by it.

Later, I’ll walk the trail and I’ll will myself off the broken up paved path and step aside to walk a few steps on the soft grass.

I can give myself permission to choose softer, I can decide to be welcome there, the place of choosing easy over hard, peace in regards to my past instead of handicap.

Be well today.

Enjoy your new path.

Being Still and Waiting

confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, hope, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

On day 22 of the month of October I compare translations of Psalm 46:10.

Psalm 46 begins with a promise. I’ve begun saying, “God, you know all about this.” as a way to wait for resolution, acceptance or change in troubling situations.

Because God knows. God is in control. God is good even when we don’t see eye to eye on things.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Another passage reminds me that God knows me, knows my questions, knows my thoughts, is aware of my waiting, even more so my worries.

I am reminded He knows me, called me to be near.

Summoned me.

Most translations of Isaiah 43:1 use the word “called”. The New International Version prefers “summoned”.

Imagine you being called back home from a distance. Maybe someone spots you in a large crowd, a concert or fair. You’ve gotten separated and your circles haven’t circled back.

You hear your name and you look to find the voice. Again, again your name is called, begging you to come back or at least let me know where you are.

That you’re safe.

Or imagine a child in a department store, wandered away as you look for a size or color. You look up and they’re gone. You call frantically, you rush from aisle to aisle, oblivious to the glare of onlookers as you call your baby’s name.

Finally, you’re reunited.

You try to contain your emotions, you try not to let your desperate fear be bigger than the relief of the sweet reunion.

I believe it’s this way when we forget God has the whole world in His hands, that He can be trusted, that He is for us.

I believe that even when all is not okay and there’s no changing it, we’re still better if we don’t slip away and try to rescue ourselves from sadness and distress.

Piling anxious questions on top of what’s already mysterious, forgetting He’s fighting for us, always has, always will.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I sketched a figure in the margin of Isaiah’s words. I added “Fear not.” to the words already pencilled there,

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Created me, called me, redeemed me.

Be still simply means wait.

Waiting with hope or with acceptance that I may wait without knowing all.

Waiting while believing.

Continue and believe.

Remember, He knows.