Grief and Grace and Beautiful Things

The Sway of Grace

There was no inspiration in the sky above me, its color was thick and like taupe mixed with gray.

The color of old water left in the kitchen sink, murky from faded suds and dirty plates.

No music seemed to suit me. The podcast I was moved to hear again had strangely gone away.

I walked on with the bounce of a trendy and sort of tired old song.

Next one and the next the same.

They were not working, the songs that usually drive me, keep me distracted from the pain of my hips, my feet.

Songs about grace and Jesus too trendy for me today, too much like radio pop.

Volume down.

Twelve or thirteen minutes I told myself, just a brief bit, you can endure it.

So, I picked up my pace and I listened to my feet hitting the ground and I know it’s not possible but I could describe the sound of my own breath coming up from my core.

And I felt it, the way my body changed as my breathing weaved up and past my ribs and into my particularly patterned exhale.

Control, keep control. Focus on the release.

I kept on and got to the place with the dangerous curve and the steep right bending hill.

The geese had congregated on the water and were conversating loudly.

I slowed and felt the wind sweep across my face making me realize the warmth I’d created on my chest, caused by my own private version of running my race.

For about a minute, maybe seconds more, there was this bliss caused by God’s grace.

In a less than spectacular sky I couldn’t find Him and so, grace found me.

Again.

And I ran up the hill, all the way this time.

Although I’d decided I might not be able, I kept running.

Last week, I sort of analyzed my life using the big chunk of moments, days and years that were either sorted and stacked as either joy or fear, as either mistake or reconciliation.

My husband and I recalled the dog adopted and where he peed, pooped, what he destroyed, and how difficult he was in the beginning.

I asked him to compare the joy of the Labrador being with us to the initial hassle and adjustment.

He agreed he was worth it.

Worth it to sit in your spot at end of the day to have a big dog plop down and prop his big face across your feet.

Worth it to be greeted at the door with his goofy eyes and happy tail.

If you look closely at your life, all the happenings that you know were true trauma, the interruptions that you remember and think that was it, that’s what totally blew my chances of being complete, you might be justified in never believing you should believe.

You might not take chances with new things.

Perhaps, the trauma that began it all has never been fully grieved, a grievous grey sky that you haven’t faced fully, haven’t accepted for what it is and so you’ve not felt it, not allowed the grace to be greater than the fear.

In college, my first year, I was raped.

I blamed myself. I hid in shame.

The big and grotesque figure of an athlete loomed behind me the next day in Chemistry lab, elevated just over my shoulder, he was enormous and so powerful in his seat.

I blamed myself because my sweater was way too tight and glaringly hot pink. I know better now; but, only recently realized this thing that made me live so very long in fear and defeat.

It was unresolved grief for the artist in me that died there that night, accepted the disbelief of me.

But, even better than the realization that this trauma was not invited by me is the realization that this incident makes up really only an hour or two of me…of my whole 58 years!

I don’t minimize the damage, I’m just choosing to line it up beside the other things:

I was the middle child, shy girl who went to college on an art scholarship.

I drove myself through Atlanta all the way to the beautiful mountains of Rome.

I tried something new and I made a great friend who was beautiful and statuesque and intelligent who still remembers me.

I learned to love running there, running uphill every day.

We dined at a splendid restaurant where my friend worked on Friday nights, my choice always, Chicken cor don bleu.

I won an award for a painting and my parents came up to see my blue ribbon.

I began, just a little, to see Jesus differently and it challenged me.

I was brave there even though interrupted in this horrible way.

I was harmed in many ways by that night at a party; yet, that’s only a tiny bit of my experience, of my life.

The greater experience is that I was held even then and I am still held by the grace of my Father’s hand.

I was His child then. Didn’t believe it but that didn’t matter.

So, I choose looking back only to be certain of my worth from His perspective and of the importance in believing there is always so much better I have seen and been given, even when I line it up to the most unjustified of my griefs.

I pray if you’ve known trauma you’ll see the freedom of deciding daily that you are more at peace when your recall is one of the evidence of grace, not a harsh gauge of resentment over someone who harmed you and thus, kept you from all that might have been.

There’s truth in that sentiment. It just won’t take us anywhere, certainly no new places.

You’re so much more than the stain of your pain.

When the cool evening breeze brushed my face yesterday it was God saying to me, I saw you keep going.

I saw you turn your attention to me.

Continue and believe.

Don’t let the pain of your past cut short your beautiful race.

Luke recorded the healing of a woman bent by her pain for close to twenty years.

For me, my frame of reference for all my defeats or my failures has always been the harm done towards me by others, the hurtful choices made for me and the ones I made.

Disabled for far too long by my pain until I decided to welcome a change.

Like the woman Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, I am free.

“And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Leave grief behind, notice the unrelenting grace of your God.

This perspective of forward not former thinking is the direction God is guiding me towards memoir. If you know someone who has lived hampered by harm, share my words. I pray God increases each reader’s awareness and embrace of His grace as He is with me, moment by moment, daily.

Wash Your Hair! an Early Story

It was early and I had a plan.

“What is wrong with my hair?” I demanded to me in the mirror, nobody else there!

I’d been mistaken for old enough for the 60 senior grocery store discount and I still can’t decide if I looked that crazy or just that worn out.

I mean, I chatted with the young man about how sweet it was to see all the men putting so much thought into Valentines flowers. He smiled. I thought he was agreeing.

Now, I know he must’ve been reminded of his grandma, he was thinking in a sweet grandson kinda way about me.

Am I becoming a crazy old lady?

That must’ve been it, I sounded like a sweet little old lady, crazy and sweet.

I should’ve said yes, I mean I could’ve used the discount considering all my little “Valentine fairy” treats I had for grown ups and for Colton Dixon aka the “living the life, Charleston dog”!

But, on the morning of Valentines Day I had a good plan.

And it was early.

I got up and got moving.

I didn’t sit with my coffee, my words, my not a single sound space but birds waking up to sing so I’d notice God there.

I looked for something red to wear then settled on black then tossed that aside for pink and then blue then back to black.

All black. Monochrome mood, I can’t help it, that’s just me, always been, not geriatric, just me.

I downloaded the app for Chick-Fil A, that was the plan, surprise my staff with heart shaped biscuits.

Completed the order, added my card, got in the shower and planned I’ll press “complete” when I get in the car and pick up on the way to work, get there on time today!

It was early! All was looking okay.

Hot shower running and a song in the steamy room, I lathered up my hair and the phone interrupted my flow.

I stepped from the shower to see what was the matter.

It was an emergency, a friend of my admin’s had an emergency and she wanted to tell me about it and asked me to pray.

Oh, okay.

So, wrapped in a towel I went to my room and knelt by my bed and prayed.

Returned to the bathroom, scattered stuff all over the counter and the biscuits were still waiting, still waiting for me there.

So, I hurried to get my black sweater fluffing from the dryer but got sidetracked by white roses in a red vase and a hot pink card with my name written fancy with little curlicues at the corners.

Like a teenage boy putting extra time in to make it so cute.

I smiled, read my card, moved the vase of flowers to a pretty place, my morning place.

It was early! I was still doing okay.

I applied my make up, penciled in my brows in the space there are now only remembrances of hair.

Added mascara to thin lashes and considered more blush and lipstick a hint of more red.

Then began the process with product to make the best of my thinning hair…but, it wasn’t like it should be, no volume could be created, no curve around my cheek and no lift at all on top at the crown.

That’s when I shouted to nobody there,

What is wrong with my hair?

when nobody answered, I remembered, you forgot to finish, you didn’t rinse.

And I had begun early, for once I was early!

I cancelled the biscuit order, took off my jewelry and rewashed my hair.

We laughed so hard when I told them, I tried y’all I had the best intentions and I pointed towards heaven more than twice or three times to tell the truth.

It was early!

I just forgot to wash my hair.

Now I’m laughing to myself, Hmmmm…were they laughing over my crazy lady story or laughing over my insisting it was early?

Get yourself some employees and friends who know you and love you and more than just a few times.

Believe you when you tell them it was early and even if they don’t believe you because they know you so well, they still laugh with you.

And they always, always show you grace!

This one’s for you ‘Chelle!

Seesaw Prayers and Stephanie Sue

From God’s perspective, I believe we pray more than we realize, that our thoughts are to Him, sort of informal prayers. Maybe He’s nudging us to pray, saying your thoughts are not trivial, nor too troubling, tell me more. I believe He says let’s wait and see, get there together.

What’s blowing my mind today is the reality of God hearing my prayers! Oh Lord, forgive me for taking this lightly or for only getting excited and wanting to sing loud praises when it’s mind-blowingly big.

I try to get out in front of God, as if I need to coax the direction of a certain “perfect” way. If I’m honest, God must think I’m whiny or either aggravating, the pendulum swings one or the other way.

Like the seesaw, I’m either the queen of the world buoyed up high from my worries by the force and folded knees of my brave cousin, her butt at the bottom and feet firmly in the smooth cool sand.

Showing me, like Jesus.

I’ve got this. Sit still.

Then she lets go and either drastically I hit bottom or she’s easy and my place and turn in the pattern is more like rest on the level ground than a harsh descent, desperately back to prayer.

Or she’s so skilled in her timing, my seesaw partner, that she leaves me in the interim wanting me to trust her weight and balance will keep me there.

I don’t like the middle, the supposed to be at peace with not knowing, the trusting place. Yet, God always teaches me when He increases my faith, my confidence there.

He shows me that He saw me praying a different way, a surrendered and boldly strong expectantly way and so He moved and the situation, hours later changed, the circumstances swayed.

He answers our prayers all day throughout the day. I sometimes pray as if I’ve speculated the river is dry and the flow of sovereign power and grace can’t make it back my way.

Then He does it again. He answers the longing I brought and left with Him, the one I considered not bringing at all.

True story.

Prayer changes things and people.

I hope I remember it long, the thing that happened and It hit me…oh, you prayed! I’ll store it up in my journal of others chronicling the big grace and answered prayers of before along with the little ones He has anticipated and given replies that I may never know.

I don’t have to rush ahead fearing He doesn’t see I need His guiding hand.

I just have to stay close, let my trust be my hand in His hand on this ever changing road and that memories like seesaws and brave cousins who taught me so much are teaching me still.

This post is for you. I miss you, brave and beautiful one, Stephanie Sue!

“pray without ceasing,”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

New Things in New Places

I got this from my mama.

I’ll rummage through the clearance aisles and I’ll look for the most neglected, damaged or left behind things in the store.

I rarely go for the item that’s marked way down as far as it can go but still not worth anything for me, nothing that I would consider complementary to my home.

I picked up this little cracked bowl, held it up and noticed the red tag, $1.79 and I began to decide if I should take it home.

I thought how I’d not be bothered by the chip on the rim, how the design was really like no colors in my room at all.

Then I remembered the insect pen and ink drawing by my son from long ago and the birds on my table, one of them a black crow.

So, I bought the little bowl and it cups the brown magnolia pods perfectly well. It’s a little thing added to the place I gaze to measure the morning’s sun, a small thing, a beautiful change.

Last night before group work out, I walked/ran. It was dark and I was alone on the track. Women playing tennis on the lighted court, people alone with their dogs walking in balance and pace. Runners ran past me in their running attire, graciously passing me thinking I’d stay in my place.

I turned up the volume and told myself, you can run too.

So, I did and then I went inside to join my work out group.

I was doing everything I could to run out my mood, to outrun its pursuit, to work the kinks of dread and worry out in an intentional sweat.

To have my hope come back, my rest, my request to not fall back into my patterns of dread.

And I was intentional like Job in my prayers and I talked to God in my car after a good and solid and rigorous workout.

Take from me these disenchanted ways. These ways of being sidelined by bad dreams that I decide will surely come true in some way.

Then I waited because I heard His Spirit say,

this will not be an immediate change, immediacy in my reply will not build the trust that should be.

Yes, this I know.

You know what happened next if you know my God.

Small shifts began to change me, good food, hot shower, soft blanket, early sleep.

Brought pleasant dreams about little babies and being someplace laughing.

We all were having cake.

My dreams are just as real and as vivid as my nightmares. Jesus, help me to know fully this truth from you.

And if the bad ones come back to visit sparked by some passing thought or something I read, I know they will not take over.

You, my Heavenly Father, will not allow it, did not plan this for me.

But if they come back to stir up memories, may the fire of the trauma be for good use not bad.

May its memory spread wide and complete like the farmer burning his entire field for a new crop.

Destroying all the old, in preparation for the very same place to grow something new.

The former crop has done what it was supposed to do, God and the farmer know it is time to yield the same harvest or maybe something totally new.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:18-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I’m smiling now as I write this. Will my prayers bring something like useful soybeans or will my words and art look more like giant stalks of hearty corn?

Or will the works of my hands and my mind exhibit a stillness and calm, like soft amber colored wheat stalks, late summer swaying in pleasant wind?

Or will it be all of these, beneficial, nourishing as well as calming?

It is possible.

Continue and believe.

Continue.

Believe.

Mary Geisen wrote a similar story, one about continuing on our roads. I feel it’s a feeling so many of us have. May we all be better and more faithful because we share the brave telling of our stories.

Tell His Story

Where Words Go

A chunk of my day yesterday, a beautiful Saturday so warm I had to move from my favorite place.

To a library corner more shady and less distracting after all.

I tried my hand at something new, a thing God told me to do, told me so by giving me words that finally made sense as I sat in my morning chair.

I had found the Psalm circled, “memoir” written in the margin.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And I finished it, the bio and summary of my book proposal. It will need tweaking and parts of chapters added today.

I typed away until my laptop battery faded, dead. Thank you, family, by the way for the best laptop ever last year on my birthday!

Lunch on Friday included a friend who felt it was time for us to know one another more and that our mutual conversation and revelations deserved a special date.

It was special. She is special and together and separately we are strong despite our perspective hardship and heavy loads to bear along the way.

She told me to keep writing.

She said that I must.

I know her instructions are true otherwise I’d not keep doing this thing I do.

Sitting in a quiet space and hoping for new perspective or a gentle lesson.

God speaks to me and I share.

I pray the words go where they need to be read.

And I do thank God for words.

I do love them so!

Linking up with the Five Minute group. Writing with spontaneity and expanding my horizons as God continues to enlarge my borders.

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/01/31/fmf-writing-prompt-where/

Happy Sunday, readers. God is waiting to be found in it.

Stepping Out to Wait

Thomas asked Jesus where on earth they were going and how can we get there if I don’t know the way and Jesus answered saying stay with me, go with me, I’ll show you.

I am the way, the truth,

the life. John 14: 6

Last week one gentleman told me he was proud of me for “stepping out” and that our paths may cross again. He’s a retired magazine publicist.

Another who was formerly my boss; but, always my friend listened as I shared my current “leaps of faith” and later ended his kind note with “I admire your faith.”

Both of them I sat with and shared my coming changes, my uncertainty of what will be and my peace that I am choosing rightly, to move into a new season and allow God to develop the rest of my story.

Be patient til your wings are grown. St. Francis de Sauls

Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin have responded to the question agonized over by me and other writers hoping to gain an audience, hoping for eventual publication.

Their new book is an important one for naive and introverted women like me, ones who are known to be quiet.

Influence, Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus, Not Me

How to navigate the work of making yourself known so that others will know what you know of Jesus.

Some time ago I was on the launch team for Kate’s Book, A Place to Land, a Story of Longing and Belonging.

I knew of Kate because I participated in her 5 minute Friday link-ups as a way to conjure up words for writing and deep down inside, hope somebody, just anybody might notice me, my words.

Occasionally they did and occasionally they still do.

I’m not really the “community” type one, I keep to myself. I’m known for saying I am so tired of “peopling”.

I am believing this will be different in my new season people.

I have continued to read Kate’s work, posts and the helpful encouragement in my mailbox. She responds to my questions about writing. She responds so promptly! (Something I personally love)

I’ve gone from yearning to have a writing life similar to hers (sorry, Kate, for a little bit, I was jealous) to believing her advice and seeing I can have a writing life of my own.

Kate Motaung has influenced me.

But, back to the question over putting myself out there or just cowering in my corner hoping somehow some reader might stumble upon me, my words and pronounce me worthy of reading…

This is the imprint of my childhood. Do not ask for anything, pretend you can do life without attention or recognition, don’t seek to be noticed or noteworthy.

In a time when we are inundated with attention seekers, social media places becoming outlets and a grasping for just one other person to know, there’s new pressure of deciding to stay quiet, to stay in “our own lanes”, at least I feel it is so.

I am learning slowly, the best way, not everyone cares about what I say.

And that is okay.

Some do and tell you so, adding comments like “please don’t stop, you’re the first thing I read everyday!”.

But, the curious, voyeur-type readers of my instagram or my blog who scope me out and quietly slink away…

These are the ones that hinder me.

That cause me to question my goals.

These are the ones that read and I imagine are saying, “Why does she think she is supposed to write this way or who is she to think she has something important for others to know?”

I’m afraid these are people by whom I am personally known.

Is it this way for others? I wonder.

They’re probably just busy; but my little girl unnoticed feels insignificant so often, the imprint of insignificance trying to hold on.

Less often and increasingly so, I have readers leave comments or people who say “I needed that.” or “How did you know?”

They thank me for being brave, honest, for saying and writing about a pain they may have known or know.

These readers encourage me to continue, to grow.

To grow in ways like joining Hope*Writers, being brave enough to be with others.

To believe the words God gives me from my experiences and my perspective are mine and mine alone; but, they are words someone else may need.

That someone might have a similar heartache, a breakthrough type epiphany on grace or even may find a new way to connect with Jesus through my interpretation of a parable or passage something to which we both relate.

Kate wrote of her mother’s death.

She and I have a similar story although vastly different.

My mother passed away nine years ago yesterday. I was in a fairly new position and living two hours away. Kate was in another country, airline flights away. We both set other things aside to be with our mamas.

Gut wrenching and emergent interrupted days, we held onto the time we had left even though our hearts longed for more. For me, at least, I always longed for and thought there would be more.

I treasure our bonding through her words, her description of the drawing of her heart to be beside her mother, the angst over not being able to be constantly near and the utter helplessness and surrender to our lack of control.

The realization of this lack when I had returned home too early and I got “the call”.

Others may have read Kate’s story and gained so much more or been impacted in a different way.

That’s the power of our stories.

Today, I am trying to lean in to where God wants my writing to go.

The balance between letting go and continuing are much like my battle of being known and staying in my place.

Much like stepping out to wait.

I know that if I continue I won’t even look the same because my heart will be open to where God takes me, the story He is developing no longer hidden.

I’ll be different, I’ll be the me that God has always seen, has kept purposely through so much trauma and self-destructive “dis” grace.

My note to self of late?

Continue and Believe. me

A good starting place for a newsletter or a book title, I perceive.

For now it’s for stepping forward to see what God has for me to share and to increase my believing so that others will believe.

This, I believe, is what God means by influence.

I’m linking my thoughts up with others on this topic of thoughts and childhood labels and hindrances to pursuing platforms so that our writing voice might grow.

join in here: Thoughts on Platform Building

Thanks so much, Kate!

40 Sparrows

On a cold morning I had decided I’d most likely stay home, I felt compelled otherwise. I had no creamer for my coffee, black coffee for me.

I woke with much need for more.

Understanding, confirmation.

Comfort.

I’d be the only one to go, others sleeping or with other plans.

I hurried, barely read or journaled and only skimmed the passage marked for the day, the one devotional with which my day begins.

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

Barely let it sink in as I hurried to make the early service, early on a January Sunday morning, cold and a little lonely.

My car pushed forward with resistance, warming too slowly going to church. I ask God to open my heart and mind and so I go, I go towards what I am certain must be meant for me to hear.

Otherwise, I would justifiably stay home, the week had been challenging, more obligations to come.

The neighborhood was sleeping, the ground silver colored and frosty, I continue and I notice.

Sparrows rising up, a fluttering upwards and I say to myself

“Look at all the little sparrows, must be 40 or more!”

Then decide for myself, I must surely be a writer because I’m quite certain not everyone notices the sparrows and fewer still would pause to think of them, to speak of them in such a way!

To write of the beauty of Jesus speaking, of his comparing us to birds and lilies and of the way he positioned them to meet me as I rushed my reading and moved intentionally to seeking.

To have my morning interrupted by sparrows, 40 Sparrows

Maybe more.

Worth so much.

So very much more.

Otherwise, he’d never made the morning and never orchestrated the intersection of the sparrows, the timing of us three to meet.

To remind me of the waste of my imagination on worry,

when imagination is created by God our father for so very much more.

The Tiny Light Ahead

Yesterday, I told someone something in a way that only slightly conveyed the real thing I tried to say.

I told her that I believed it is impossible to imagine what my life might be if I began to believe only in possibility.

We paused and our quiet faces wondered, how on earth do we do this, how do we not stray or get swayed by criticism, cynicism or just the crazy negative noise of our hectic days?

I looked into my precious cousin’s face and I answered that I’d walk with imaginary blinders on both sides of my face.

I’d need to stare intently at the tiniest of light, like the dot of a pin off in the distance, move forward with intention towards hope, off quite a ways.

Avoid the garish glare and naysay of others and other things on my way.

She listened and I gazed past her and through the little tables lining the restaurant. I looked out onto the busy bustling downtown lunchtime street. People passing by, others stopping to speak, I thought of me a year from today, will I be changed by possibility, a soft contrast of me today?

Would my face be lit by possibility, will I carry my hopes in a more confident frame?

Some things I think, must be pursued in a solitary way.

I told her I was certain my life would be different if I became unafraid of possibility and if I just continued towards the tiny light growing brighter as I near.

I would be different if I believed in possibility, if possibility was seen as an option for me.

I think we rarely really live this way.

Pursuing possibility in a peaceful way, a waiting way.

A know as I go quite certain with God kind of way to what God has to show me.

Possibly possibility.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Whether it be work or money or art or writing or relationships, I am saying to me:

Do nothing out of desperation.

We continued talking about our longing to be hopeful after life has given us so many reasons to be afraid, to be so silly and naive to think we should be hopeful only to have past experiences slap us back to reality as if to say, “Hope’s not for you, surely, you should’ve known.”

The plot can shift though, we decided, the story line is our story line and we can change the paragraphs and flow.

We can surprise ourselves, readers of our own books by creating a different ending, we can believe in the hopeful development of our life stories.

Believing can come natural, just as naturally as we regularly disbelieve.

If we don’t allow fear to destroy our stories.

How different I would be, we all would be, if we took leaps of faith, if we walked on whatever represents deep waters towards the light that is meant to illuminate our days.

To bring clarity to God’s ways.

God, help me to be an example of someone who has faith.

Stay faithful.

Continue and believe.

God is Busy

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Last night I told myself I needed to get with the times. I need to be aware of how they are truly changing.

I am now that person who is panicked over what the world will be for my children’s children.

I was not this way before.

My mindset was one of oh, it was bad a long time ago too, people have always been violent, issues have been challenging and intense. Children can adjust as long as they have the firm and loving foundation of family and God.

But, I got all worked up over something I saw on the internet about three year olds. Close to midnight and I’m wanting to research it more, prepare myself to protect my grandchild.

The thing is, influence is either worrisome or wonderful. It is unwaveringly committed and steadfast in whatever the influencer believes.

Children, I am certain, will be influenced by the ways of those closest to them and by those who make a commitment to stay close to God.

Last week in church the preacher asked “Who in your life most influenced your faith by their life?”

There are a few people for a few different reasons.

But, I cannot deny my grandma.

She was quiet and private with her Bible.

She was unwavering in her commitments and traditions for us.

She was industrious.

She was gracious.

My name is written in red in her Bible, all of the other names are there too.

A few weeks ago, my “Aunt Boo” reminded me of God’s control and of being sure He is working all for good in my waiting to know.

She reminded me of the refrigerator magnets at my grandma’s that were letters spelling out, “God is busy.”

God is busy. Doris Evelyn Peacock

I told the story to my daughter.

She smiled. She remembered and I promptly purchased a bag of plastic magnets because every single day I too need to remember.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

God is busy making ways for us.

God is busy dispelling myths about Him, replacing them with reminders of truths about Jesus.

About His love.

God is for us, not against us and He is busy being sure we believe.

Linking up with others on the prompt of “influence” here.

INFLUENCE

Sky and Bloom

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Cold in a way I had no idea, I removed the soft heavy blanket and because the birds had begun to sing, I turned and saw the sky behind me, bright with pink.

Longing to see more and to see with a more private view I ventured to the backyard.

Bare feet on crunchy frozen grass, my steps became a dance and rather than staring towards the sky I became captivated by the camellias.

Pink, I decide is the color of vibrance and optimism. Some petalled balls fallen from the branches and in varying stages of change, some clinging gloriously and a few yet to bloom.

I pray we don’t get the icy days we southerners disdain.

I pray the terminal frost that curtails the continued growth stays away.

Because, the camellias this winter have blossomed in grander and more undeniable ways.

Or is it my notice that has changed?

Has a sense of hopeful curiosity begun to enlighten my belief?

Changing doubtful speculation to committed curiosity over things that might finally be?

Things I believe are for me, abilities and opportunities designed by God.

I am beginning to trust it might be, that I will see.

Jesus has seen me and is pleased in my growing understanding of Him.

Mercy is becoming more than “Christiany” expression tacked on in hopes to gain acceptance.

Mercy, I am finally seeing.

Is for me.

Jesus, leaving Jericho heard the desperate cries of two blind men sitting on the side of the road.

Their sense of hearing compensated for their inability to see and so, they cried out loudly to Jesus asking for mercy. The crowds chastised them, these pitiful men positioned on their way.

How dare they ask to be seen, much less to be able to see?

Have you felt this way?

Felt that according to God and to others, you should stay in your place, why on earth would you believe there could be grander things to see?

The blind men must have been desperate, must have been shouting.

Jesus paused for them.

He asked them what it was they needed.

Jesus wanted to hear their deepest need.

“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.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yesterday, I sat anchored by weighted rice bags on my abdomen and thighs, the sense of settled safety, I was seeking.

I joined in my friend’s “Midweek Mindfulness” and loosened up the places where my stress had made its abode.

Anchored and waiting, eyes closed in meditation, I struggled to be still, to stay composed.

Surely, this will soon be over, I don’t know how much longer I can hold this pose and I can’t think of a single additional thing to let go and I’ve prayed my prayers and I’ve focused my focus…

Then she begins to speak of curiosity and I naively conclude she’s done this solely for me.

It actually could be.

I listen and decide curiosity is a worthy mindset, not one curtailed by pessimism or conclusions to my stories, rather a careful and hopeful, continuous pursuit.

The blind men could have chosen what they’d always chosen, likely just being careful to stay out of the way

Instead they decided to be brave, to be curious about Jesus and to give new sights a try.

This morning beckoned me out onto the cold January ground and led me to see beauty, not only in the morning sun but in the blooms fallen and fading making way for new.

I get emotional over a couple of lines in a pretty song. The voice is captivating, tender and true.

She makes a quiet and sure proclamation over her soul and unknowingly, mine.

She sings, “the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy!”

It is a tender song, inspired by the verses from the Song of Solomon, a book that reads like poetry, sonnets and splendidly passionate love.

Good to Me

What are the “foxes” in your vineyard? What present or past or based on your own predictions is set on stealing the joy you’ve begun to get a tiny taste of?

Exchange the sly intentions of the evil one committed to keeping you back for the mercy of the merciful one who asks.

What do you want me to do for you? Jesus

Speak of your need despite others silencing your curiosity.

Believe mercy will always meet it, always meet you.

Lift your eyes to the hills.

Your help will come.

Continue and believe.

I’m linking up with other writers at Tell His Story. https://marygeisen.com/in-the-middle-of-winter-guest-post/

https://marygeisen.com/the-one-word-that-almost-wasnt/