Live Today

Yet another list I’ve made after completing three little things yesterday. This list is different, a note to self about enduring, about this time as a time for living.

Eternally Valuable Days

  • Mend fences and repair barbed wire barriers and hurts in relationships.
  • Make them stronger by your willingness to work harder, to dig down deep to prevent future toppling.
  • Commit to loving for the long haul, a firm decision.
  • Laugh, it is allowable.
  • Sleep without guilt over long sleeping.
  • Be mindful in your use of time, not mindless.
  • Look up to the wide sky and see the vast possibilities and the actual purpose of you. Open yourself up to it.
  • Look at the birds. Consider the lilies. Fixate upon the ebb and flow of water, the power of the ocean. Go to these places.
  • Endure the delay that comes with the decision to do the big thing that requires simply moving forward.
  • Believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus, not just the idea of Him. Believe.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A month from today, I turn 60. The truth of that day is accompanied by the truth of that number. Age and learning, age and realizations of time, times remembered and the brevity of time allotted.

I’m on the fence really, a contradiction as usual. On the cusp of beginnings and still surprised by bright ideas.

Still able, still trusting and still willing.

So very willing to discover fully God’s idea of me ordered long long ago that I’ve only see faint peeking in the open door of!

Hopeful, set on hope not fear because of this disgruntled world.

Eternally valuable, I’ll use as my days’ choices.

“A repining life is a lingering death.” Benjamin Whichcote, “Joy and Strength” devotional

A Gift, Wonder

Here’s a granddaughter inspired post about “wonder” I wrote a few weeks ago.

Today is her 1st birthday. I call her “morning glory” among other little things. A baby who changes a day from gray to blue, a baby girl who has changed our world. Happy Birthday, sweet little curious thinker, “ELB”. We thank you for making us so much more sure of every single thing. You cause me to rest. You increase my joy. You are a gift. You are the embodiment of certain hope. You are silly, you are wise.

What We See

The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12 ESV

As if our bodies were synchronized, our necks craned and faces tilted towards heaven, we stared through the sheer drapery and we tried to find the opening. We wondered if it was as tiny as the point of a pin. We longed to see and were left questioning, “What is up there, what is causing the lingering of her stare?” We were fascinated. We were perplexed.

The baby was tiny then. We decided the veil must surely be thinner between babies and heaven. Occasionally, as her mama cradled her after feeding and before sleep, she raised her tiny arm towards the ceiling in a newborn hello wave. Something was there, someone, a presence only baby girl was capable of seeing. We were captivated by her vision. We researched angelic explanations and discovered mystical and somewhat biblical explanation. My daughter and I agreed, she is in awe of her new world, she sees either angel, God or we hoped, her great-grandma.

Then, she began to grow and curiosity for other was all about what she could touch, feel, manipulate, and discover. We noticed her looking towards heaven less often. She became more fascinated with the cool earth beneath her knees and feet.

Her longing for understanding seemed to be bigger than simply seeing. I watched as she discovered discovering.

I began to discover again.

We sat together in the cool grass of Spring. I watched her fascination with leaves, pine straw, and the big dog.

We sat together.

So serene. I braided the pinestraw in a way I may braid her soft hair one day. She watched me and her chubby fingers tried the same.

“Bird”, I said and she looked at me and then towards the sky. For a moment or two she was enthralled, we looked up together. I held her hand and we sat still.

I am thinking now, posing a question, sermon to self-type evaluation, “Where will you see God today, Lisa?” because it has been something I’ve been wondering in this pandemic. I have taken stock of the things God has not stopped. Babies are born. Birds are cavorting. Even the wind seems more melodic. The flowers are brilliant. The clouds are puffed and fully inflated. I find it confusing these spectacular symbols of living in a time of speculation and dread of death.

How is there such splendor in such a time of fear? How is my wonder over such beauty so fulfilling? What is God’s intention in this juxtaposition of grief and beauty? Are we to hold both, one hand clutching uncertainty and the other, splendor? Possibly, I believe. Perhaps wonder is simply faith we see only through childlike eyes.

The baby will be here momentarily. I’ll spread an old quilt on the grass in the back corner. All the toys will be toted out and she’ll play until she is bored with blocks and colors. Then she and I will look and listen. We will mimic the crow. We will toss the ball to the dog and we may sing her favorite song, “Deep and Wide”. She’ll guide my hands because she knows the words now. She’ll remember long ago when her grandma opened her arms, deep and then wide and sang to her over and over about the fountain flowing, one full of love for her and me. 

We will look together. We will listen and then have a lunch of sweet potato. I’ll be attentive to her seeing and she will be to mine. We will look in wonder for God today, the sweet baby girl, and I will remember our creator, the one who gave us our eyes and our ears and our favorite thing of all, our wonder. 

Where will you see God today? 

May your seeing be as mysteriously clear as a baby’s.

Happy 1st birthday, Elizabeth Lettie, we love you more than any words can express. We love you for changing our seeing. We love you for increasing our wonder.

Maybe An Angel

The corner of my eye caught the flash of what I decided was red.

A red bird it wasn’t.

A sparrow bounced about on our porch. I watched wondering why I was so certain of the red.

Hope, I guess. It was hope and then acceptance over the tiny bird who made me smile, brown not red.

All the Christmas was put away and the boxes tissued the ornaments, lids taped together.

The baby Jesus, solitary without the ceramic lamb, camel, wise men, Mary or Joseph. It rested on the old chair.

Baby Jesus was all alone this year.

Partly intentional because I had no space, Christmas was minimal this year.

The little baby Jesus nativity piece was just in the middle of the shelf under all the stockings and a centered pinecone wreath.

I don’t think anyone noticed.

Or they kept it personal.

The message,

Christmas is about Jesus.

I didn’t tell them, not my children, other family or friends.

Gatherings were crowded, food and gifts.

Baby Jesus was among us.

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Faith is a personal thing, its sharing should be softly serious.

The name Jesus conjures different thoughts for everyone.

Mostly, kept to ourselves, faith growing at our own pace.

The baby all alone, my decision over Jesus.

Not lost on me.

Maybe they knew, said us too.

Remembered what to remember.

I drove later to the busy side of town. The highway widens on the way to support the growth and is bordered for a little bit by fields of pines.

A corner lot had a cluster with a bright golden light in the middle. From a distance I noticed the flash of bright yellow and up close in my passing I saw the most luscious yellow and full of leaves maple.

It seemed not a leaf had been lost so far.

The thought of it lingered and I imagined if I’d had passengers with me, would I have said “Oh, y’all look at that tree!” ?

Or kept it to me because well, it wasn’t lost on me, me intersecting with a beautiful tree; but, if I shared it with others, would the beauty be lessened?

I wonder.

happy birthday to a rare bird

This sentiment was for me on my last birthday.

Yes, birds and me.

Rare!

I’m known by my children.

Their acceptance of me,

It is not at all lost on me.

Errands complete except for one and the roar is not letting up in my ear, not debilitating, just annoying.

Reminding me I’m human and aging.

Remember you’re not invincible. Your physical is affected by your mental, Lisa. Slow the rush, calm the hurry.

Then I choose the “go to” prescription.

I go to Panera for a sandwich.

Something about a sandwich still makes the most sense.

In the parking lot of the office supply place, I devour the roasted turkey, the bacon, the bread. I arrange the soft avocado so as each bite makes a pattern.

Sandwich joy, again.

Indulgence becoming belly fat.

Not lost on me.

I want to be alone with my sandwich.

A little beat up truck pulls into the spot directly in front of me.

Faded white, weathered and dented old Chevy S-10 (my daddy drove a forest green one about the same year model. I try not to remember.) The truck is so small, like a toy and on the bumper is rigged up a gold and green wreath, faded red ribbon and the big word dangling, “Noel”.

Curious. Now I’m curious.

They talk for a minute, both look up to see me eating.

Then the passenger, a beautiful woman in either church or funeral dress steps out. Her hair is coiffed in a side bun, her flowing dress a cobalt blue and her pearls are perfection at the collar.

I watch as she beats on the window and then the man dressed more casually emerges with her cane.

Distinguished in his “dungarees” he is.

His skin the color of a Hershey bar and his strong jaw bordered in perfect grey, he follows his female companion and glances into my passenger window.

He nods. I smile and he smiles back.

He saw me watching them and it was all good and I decide since he decided to drive around with “Noel” on the front of his truck that he loves Christmas.

That he loves Jesus too.

Not lost on me, the little things of yesterday.

The satisfaction of seeing a sparrow instead of a cardinal.

The flash of brilliance amongst the predictable.

The “Christmas man”, simple and stoic companion to a beautiful woman.

He watched me eating yet another sandwich and with a nod told me.

It’ll all be okay.

Noticing God, I sometimes call it.

Maybe it’s really noticing everything.

And I can’t help remember now my little boy son’s response one day…

What if he’s Jesus? JAS at age 7 or so.

Maybe an angel, maybe there are some here.

Deeper Still

I kept my promise to myself this summer although the plan for the big reveal just didn’t come true.

I feared the worst thing that made absolutely no sense.

What if I can’t feel my way back to safety? What if I hit bottom and lose my breath? What if I’m left to figure it out on my own, panic and struggle and cause my own deadly distress?

I practiced in private. Well, just the instructor/husband and I. The scenario I planned, on my birthday my children would come over and we’d grill burgers and then I’d surprise them as they sat by the pool.

They’d see I was able. I had overcome my fear of diving into the deep end.

Other plans played out, my birthday was good but not the “big reveal”.

The accomplishment was more private, I believe it was better that way. Mine to treasure.

Now, it’s Autumn and the kitchen window is open to welcome cool air as I sit with my Bible, thinking about God’s call to deep.

There’s a verse in the Book of Acts that describes this beckoning I’m feeling.

This quiet acceptance of slow growth after my baptism, like roots spreading underneath, necessary for solid strength, I sense the preparing of this stronger me.

This one who is going deeper still in the sharing of my story, my perspective on this often discussed Jesus, the Son of God, waiting for all the skeptics, doubters, intellects and risk takers to dive in to the simplicity of grace.

To feel their way towards heaven.

There must have been masses of deep thinkers bent on proving Paul wrong back then.

They listened and he kept speaking.

He knew his place was simply to share his story of change. His understanding of God, of Jesus.

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭17:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Aren’t we all just “feeling our way” towards the unknown and knowable God?

When I stood on the edge of the pool, my toes gripping the edge, body bent towards the water and practicing the rocking type motion that would give me the push

I was scared.

Scared of the same irrational thing, what if I get to the bottom and I can’t come back up.

“What happens when I am that deep?” I asked my husband.

He always answered, same way, he gave me step by step instructions and I followed them and he says it wasn’t pretty; but, I did it.

I jumped/fell in and I did it again and again until I was satisfied.

I met my goal before my 59th birthday!

Symbolic for me, although I didn’t know it.

This has summer changed me, grown me.

Still growing. Letting the roots of assurance of what happened to me in the water take their time in spreading wide, making plans and breathing life into what may have otherwise dried up and withered.

My branches are reaching wider.

Feeling their way towards God.

To the water, the deeper end, bottomless pool filled with mercy and grace for those who take the chance, step from the edge, finally trusting we’ll be drawn up, face beaming, pure joy as we pop up!

Hallelujah, I have felt my way towards God!

Linking up with other Friday writers, prompted by the word “Deep”.

Read others’ take on it here:

Deep

Light Returns

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Light, Returning

Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself

The light is returning.

I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.

The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.

She doesn’t know or does she?

Her grandma is new.

Her grandma is breaking old cycles.

She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.

The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.

Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.

God, why did you allow this to happen?

This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.

And what followed.

My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.

I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.

It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.

Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.

Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.

He had a beer.

I had a glass of Merlot.

It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.

Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.

It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.

Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.

Committed and secure.

Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.

He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.

I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.

I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.

The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.

I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.

The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.

The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.

I said his name.

I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.

You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.

He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.

I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.

This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.

It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.

Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.

I prayed.

It is not up to me, restoration, only God.

I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.

Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.

I thought the same things.

I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.

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Reason to Believe

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.

Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.

You don’t remember the conversations.

Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.

Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.

The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,

I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.

I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.

Why such a setback?

Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?

He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.

What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.

Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.

The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.

Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.

A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.

The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.

Cake with Your Mama Day

I’d love to tell you just a little about my mama, on this day, her birthday!

And then I’d love for you to make cake a part of your day!

She passed away nine years ago.

Too soon for us all.

There were more cakes to bake, more commentary to be made on the politics of the day, more acceptance to be given over her sometimes sullen, stubborn and set ways.

More big meals together with some variety of homemade cake.

It may have been my coconut or my brother’s red velvet, maybe caramel, maybe thin layered chocolate so good the sugar melted more sugar on your tongue as you allowed it to linger.

It may have been her pound of everything pound cake or it may have been the fancy cream cheese with pecans creamy carrot.

Today, I am planning to have cake!

You should too.

I give you not permission, but a virtual nudge-like nod to say yes to love, to loosening your control!

To enjoy cake alone or with someone, somehow with your mama.

To have cake and not stress over anything at all!

Stress’ll kill you, Lisa! My Mama

Happy Birthday in heaven, Mama!

Your love has brought us to who and where we are!

I celebrate you today.

Last year, I went “junkin’” and bought this little dog that looked like “Sunny” and then my friend Dana surprised me with cake!

Little did she know she’d be starting a tradition…your birthday will be remembered from now on by enjoying some sort of outrageously delicious cake!

I am officially declaring January 30th “Cake with Your Mama Day”.

If you still have your mama, go see her or call her and catch up over cake!

If your mama is in heaven like mine, sit with someone you love and let love lead your reminiscing or just your making time to be together.

Whatever you plans today, make time for cake!

Then share the love and yumminess of your day!!!

Yay for cake!

#cakewithyourmamaday