Joyful About

I was talking with someone about when we will be able to do things again. As in, freely go places, have conversations, be excited to mingle without reservation.

Maybe meet new people in crowded social settings, excitement buzzing spaces filled with possibility.

We are all tired I decided the other day. We are tired and we’re humble. We’re less inclined to invite debate, we aren’t so keen on giving our opinions on the mask or not mask.

At least I’m not.

Bordering apathy.

Some of us are. Walking helps. Telling our truth invites comfort.

Music or not. Music that reminds of the faithfulness of God or no song at all other than the feather flap together of a bird colored blue taking off.

Walking helps, the stride, wide and determined, a remedy.

This evening, I opened my palm toward the sky and I repeated a prayer, not like a beggar or to remind God what I’d said.

No, to remind myself. You prayed this. God heard.

The clouds looked like fresh whipped cream intermittently added to a trifle bowl.

I thought of my mama, the desserts she was known for.

Thin layered chocolate cake, red velvet and pound and her strawberry trifle.

I smiled. The clouds like homemade real whipped cream from heavy and sugar.

I felt lighter.

I walked on home.

God saw me, He knows.

My prayers for the ones I love are in heaven and I am here looking upward.

I am waiting.

Waiting for a time we’ll be joyful over one thing or another again.

A sky so splendid, most every single day, Lord, I promise I won’t waste it.

I’ll accept it as evidence, open my hand towards heaven to welcome it, welcome you and count on your promise as truth.

Continue and believe.

Yet Believing

My daughter texted me to share that her daughter, 16 months old yesterday, had put her pants on by herself this morning.

I asked if she’d noticed other things like making her own decisions about inside or outside play with a sweet little “nope”.

I asked if she’d taken her to the bathroom with her and seen her tear a sheet of tissue as if to wipe. Yes, she had, my daughter answered but sweet little “ELB” wants nothing to do with the potty. I answered,

“She’s observing and strategizing.”

Last week I followed a flow chart created to help me understand the flow through the Book of Genesis. The kind of chart with lines dropping down interrupted by some action or moving forward through the process.

I began to imagine the route of a prayer, a prayer that cries out for resolution or a prayer that longs to be known by God.

Maybe the simple one that says thank you, another morning I am well or a more spontaneously overtaking one that comes from a song you join in the praise, you are so grateful to be connected with God.

I wondered about the delivery to the throne of God. Is Jesus able to one by one say, “Father, Lisa just had a moment, she’s afraid or Father, look now, she just got a glimpse of you and she’s better.”?

I wonder such things.

Why some prayers go unanswered.

Why some are answered when we’ve decided they weren’t heard. Why there must surely be some strategy in God’s timing that we are asked to trust.

To trust what we can’t see yet.

Last Sunday, the pastor talked about certainty and asked how long it had been since we remembered big ways in our lives that God showed up.

Remembered the answered prayers. I thought of a few.

My son was certain he would not pass the PT test at the military college his “knob” year. He’d been told sit-ups are a challenge for someone as tall as you, at least when they’re timed. A few people, the pastor who baptized him, his little boy Sunday school teacher and I prayed. God woke me up at 5 that morning, the test was scheduled soon after. I prayed. He passed and let me know in a text. He is now a Citadel and grad school graduate working for an accounting firm.

My daughter’s heart condition lingered several years, the place in her heart the surgeon called a little “stick of dynamite”was in a delicate place. Every procedure they simply couldn’t ablate it. Every procedure, we waited and prayed.

The final one, I was waiting with her sweet husband. The surgeon came out and as with each time before, he just couldn’t synchronize his instrument with the misfiring in her heart.

I nodded in acceptance as he told us he wasn’t giving up yet and then I walked away. I found the tiny chapel prayer space the size of a closet.

I cried and I prayed.

Shortly after, I sat with my son in law in acceptance and waiting. The surgeon returned and he told us so very explicitly the strategy he used and then he told us in words we could hold on to. He’d gone in to the location he knew from her records the malfunction occurred and he “schnockered” the area he told us.

He was optimistic.

A few years later, they are parents of a girl that wouldn’t have been advisable before. Her heart is well.

Other prayers have been unanswered and while they bring sorrow upon remembrance, I’ve accepted the response God chose was better based on His observation of the whole picture, the sovereign strategy I am not capable of understanding.

I just need to believe that my prayers are heard. I have some big ones these days.

I need to believe the incomprehensible truth that every single other person’s are heard in equal measure.

I need to believe because I have seen and I need to never doubt because of those things I did not see and won’t ever until eternity.

“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:29-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I pray you believe in new ways today.

Sing Along

On the morning, two Sundays ago that I decided just in time to go to church, I was honest with myself.

I’d been waiting until conditions could be right to return. I’d been waiting for the church to be in agreement with me, to not require that I wear a mask.

Church that morning enveloped me in peace. The mask that I deplore because I deplore demands made of me

Invited a sweeter worship in.

The music, the prayer, my hands open in front of me, my joining in the singing despite my mask.

I wish it weren’t so; but, I tend to be self-conscious in a sanctuary. No surprise, I compare my worship to the worship of others and I worry if others are watching me, measuring whether my praise is big enough.

But, on that morning, before the message on humility and its meaning and worth, I allowed peace to come.

Peace that came through the Spirit leading me to be alone there in the socially distanced place, to close my eyes and be moved by “The Blessing”, to welcome the tears that came. To be aware of, overwhelmed by God’s peace.

Peace comes when we acknowledge our standing in relation to God.

Peace comes when we challenge ourselves to believe we should go when we don’t think we are able or don’t believe we belong.

Peace comes when we remember,

“I am weak but He is strong.” (Yes, Jesus loves me.)

Meekness leads to peace.

Meekness leads to great things.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My little circle of six feet in the sanctuary was inhabited by a sense of Holy that Sunday.

I had no idea that choosing not to be selfish, stubborn, self-righteous over a piece of cloth over my mouth, would bring me such peace.

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And peace shall be mine again.

I will sing along.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Joining others who are writing prompted by the word “church” here.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Church

What Could Happen

Up early and uncertain whether I had again gratefully “woken up well”, I walk outside to see the pink sky in the distance, wishing our home was set either on a hill or not bordered by tall trees and houses.

If that were so, I could see the wide morning. Instead, I look upward and the half moon is above me, surrounded by the remnant of two clouds breaking thinly away.

I wished for a different sky. I had hoped the day would bring rain.

A rainy day that could give permission for thinking, make seclusion seem more pleasant.

On this day, nineteen years ago, destruction changed our country, altered our thinking of what could happen.

For years, the color code marking threat bordered our television screens.

For days on end I wondered when it would happen again, certain that it could. Another attack by people who hated us, another planned explosion in places where people congregated.

It could happen again.

For now, there are other “coulds”, the resounding murmuring amongst one another.

Rather than explosion, I sense a subtle threat to our togetherness, I fear we are imploding, a caving in.

Don’t get too close, she may be sick. Don’t touch the door, it could have the viral contaminated touch of someone else. Don’t forget your mask, don’t let your worn out mask shift and uncover your nose.

Don’t hug the friend you encounter that you’ve not seen in years.

You could get sick, you could make others unwell. You could cause pain to others.

This predisposition to high alert stances based on what could happen is much like a phrase I’m just now embracing.

Don’t borrow trouble.

Two hours ago, I woke up too early. I was thirsty and had what my grandma called a “dull” headache. I moved from my bed to the kitchen for water.

Today, I did not pray, “thank you God, I woke up well.”

But, now I am because I was sullenly anticipating dread. I was alert to what could happen because of it happening all around me, inundated with a sense of foreboding,

A man in the Bible, mentioned just a couple of times, Jabez confronted his predisposed “could happens” with a prayer that God answered.

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The mother of Jabez chose his name that meant pain and told him so, of all the brothers, his birth had caused her great pain.

Could it be so for us? That we acknowledge what harms could come our way and simply ask God to prevent them.

Knowing He can?

I’m not so naive to live the fairy tale that all pain can be avoided. This world, our country gets more angry and full of fear and evil every day.

Still, I can open my hand to heaven now and again later and say “Thank you, I am well. It is well. I will not fear. You are near.”

Like Jabez, I can set my intentions on what God can do not what could happen.

I love to think of other choices that could have been made by people in the Bible. Jabez knowing he was least likely to have a life without pain based on his name could have chosen to cower, could have accepted his position among his brothers, to be careful, to fear pain, to prepare for the worst case scenarios and so, to hide away.

He didn’t. He asked God for the ability to see opportunities, to be kept safe in his pursuit of them and to live a life from which we get the phrase, not just blessed; but, blessed indeed.

The purple flowers that seem to be summer withered have sprinkled petals heavy from humidity all along the border.

I bent over to try to see the sunrise in the distance and noticed a new thing.

The scent from the purple bloom. All summer long I’ve walked past and now almost mid-September, my attention was drawn.

The sweet smell of still hanging on, the still tint of soft indigo and lavender, the gift of finding beauty in my subdivided back yard.

The firm decision not to borrow trouble; instead to be aware of it and to ask God to keep me from it.

Then to remember, not knowing how or if or whether it was sudden.

God granted what he asked.

He will for us as well.

This truth I shall remember when I ponder “what could”.

Remember only the possibility of good.

Our lives are not what are circumstances say they are, rather they are what God says “could happen” if we trust Him.

If we continue, continue and believe.

This post was prompted by the word “could” from Five Minute Friday (I link up although I’m rarely five minutes or under in thinking or writing.) Read others’ words here:

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Could {+ free training for writers}

Wonderment

What are you wondering? What are you waiting for, wondering if you’ll ever get through or over it?

What are you waiting to experience, the wonder of a promise that comes true when you weren’t quite sure it would?

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭62:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The begonia in the pot was an afterthought, an extra in the little plastic container, now growing towards the sun.

I wonder why its blooms are fabulous, the others with the caladium have dried up.

I wonder why the women who found the empty tomb, who’d been so grief stricken were scared, uncertain, even seen as crazy.

Were met by skeptics.

Jesus had told them that after three days, you will understand even better the purpose of my violent crucifixion.

It seems as if the women and the disciples had forgotten.

I get that. I’m very much prone to forgetting the promise of good when I’m caught up in the malaise of my waiting.

Or when I don’t see any evidence of just around the bend arrival of it. I act as if pending will never end. I grow weary in waiting.

“…Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then, like the women bent over by their waiting beside the tomb of Jesus, I’ll get a sense of God’s nearness akin to the angel who told the ladies…

Remember. Remember, God will.

God will bring good again.

What are you waiting for? Is it for grief to subside or to change its grip on your life and your soul?

Grief will change over time. It never goes away, it does change its emotion and the emotion it stirs in you.

What at first and for years and years is bitter, will become sweet.

Here’s why I say this.

A few nights ago, for the first time in decades since she’s been gone, I felt happiness over my memories of my mama.

A Netflix series, “A Chef’s Table”, the first episode, a story of a strong Texan named “Tootsie”.

I was enthralled. I felt I’d never heard a story so like my mama’s. I happily watched the whole show and later told my children, “If you want to watch something that will literally feel like being with your grandma, watch this show.”

I don’t know if they will. But, I will again.

So, here’s to the undeniable mystery of God. Was God aware there’d be a woman named Tootsie who would at last turn my grief to a sweeter thing when I watched a documentary?

I don’t know.

I’m simply accepting that God is good and makes good on His promises.

Promises we only have seen just a glimpse of here.

We are known.

Already known.

We can wait well knowing, the sweetest days are coming.

We can wait in wonder rather than worry.

Because God said so.

Continue and believe.

What are you waiting for?

What, to begin or to end?

Wait in wonder, knowing God knows.

Wonderment, such a pretty word. I’m holding onto it.

Secrets Found

Does your soul have a longing unnamed or one you’re afraid pales in comparison with bigger in proportion things of these days?

Is it so buffered you feel only the hint of needing its revealing or do you not fully know what calls for your attention?

Is there a secret you’d just as soon prefer keeping it mysterious, untended?

I thought of the way the tide pulled on my ankles, caused me to brace my feet, tighten my calves.

Of the way a weighted blanket felt the first time I tested it, strangely it gave me no comfort, its undeniable entrapment.

I thought of the struggle of heavy load carried on my back, telling myself stand up straight or like walking up a steep hill, leaning forward to make it and of remembering it’s better to let my legs do the work.

I longed to understand the unnamed source of burden, the vague melancholy on an ordinary and pretty pleasant Sunday.

I’d turned away from the few seconds of news, breakfast had been good, the worship music and message of the faithfulness of God was uplifting, exciting even!

A day filled with freely finishing paintings, three pieces sealed.

Yet, there was something I was keeping secret from myself, something longing to be revealed in a quiet conversation with God.

I prayed, hoping prayer would lead to nap. The quilt was cool, the whole house silent. Sundays are for resting, a day designed to nap.

Closing my eyes, it came, the invitation to surrender that secret longing, question, the wish for control I could no longer hold.

Then, peace not in a joyous way, just peace that invites the way to a settled soul.

The prayer I prayed, it will remain secret. The prayer you pray, that thing you don’t feel is suitable for sharing, ranting over or pleading for understanding, it can be secret for you, between you and God.

I wondered this morning if we’re all being forced to stuff down the sweet sorrows of our souls in light of the horrific strife and pain we’re inundated with.

I wonder if we all could use a silent place, a curling up to nap, a respite from the angry destruction we’re praying for God to heal and yet, sweeping under the rug our deepest hopes and fears.

A tender hearted prayer may be what you need. One that will surprise as the burden you’ve been carrying, the one that felt ominous and unnamed, will come to the surface for expressing and God will answer sweetly.

Sweetly, the well of just a few tears will puddle.

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And you will feel better, begin to be relieved. Your tears, the evidence of clarity and the proof of your Father’s already knowing.

Last week, I watched “The Shack”, a movie based on the book. There’s a garden scene towards the end. Mac is helping to tend the garden along with the actor representing the Holy Spirit. A tiny bottle is emptied of what represents all of Mac’s tears and the garden rises up, flowering in color.

I read the book years ago, three people suggested the movie. I thought it might be “hokey”. I found it to be tenderly redemptive, like a sweet secret prayer, a long and safe hug.

What is the source of your mysterious heaviness, maybe concealed by the “in our ears” worry and fear inducing content?

Get quiet. Allow God to help it surface and then listen softly with private tears.

You’ll feel known. Better. Lighter.

Loved.

What’s your secret wondering, your thing that compared to others seems a tiny trouble, so insignificant you don’t dare share it. God knows, he waits to help you be enlightened. He waits to surface alongside you the underneath things, the secret waiting to be found.

The one that begs surrender, to invite acceptance and meander towards peace.

I wonder how big is your bottle?

Continue and believe.

Linking up with other writers as we all move towards autumn with hope. We endured our Spring, our Summer. I have hope we can all move quietly into Fall as we welcome needed and long anticipated change.

Read here: https://marygeisen.com/august-musings-2020

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

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