I changed it up today, wondering if anyone ever has oatmeal that’s not sweet. I woke early as if God knew I’d need a little extra time to combat fear.
Read my Bible, scribbled a prayer, and decided before sun up I was hungry. Boiled the water, added oatmeal and then changed from the usual cinnamon, raisins, etc.
I added cream cheese with veggies, taco cheese and bacon. I encourage you to try this.
You may also need carbs today.
Change a little thing, adjusting maybe the whole direction of your day.
Because twenty minutes before, the dread of our days took over, one post on FB by a well meaning and very kind friend…predicting we’ll be wearing masks through November and not as in next month, but November 2021.
My chest tightened. I looked away, shut it down and wrote a prayer.
Our Father, please end this fear that surrounds us, prods us, interrupts our mornings. Please come quickly and make us more fearless or in a mighty wave, remove completely this thing that causes us to fear we are wrong, to fear that you won’t makeright all the wrong…that we are not really so courageous at all, after all. Remind us our strength flows through our closeness with you. We thank you that younever leave us even when our thoughts lead us away.
3 things I’ve learned this month:
Ask for help.
Tell yourself because of your kinship with God,
You can do hard things.
Adjust your perspective of what you hear, see, encounter. Change as it is necessary and at your own pace. Acknowledge you’re not everything and not equipped to do all things on your own. Be less stubborn and shamed by your inability and more open to others who are able and willing to help. Say to yourself on the regular “You can do hard things.” Say so not in a superpower or simply motivational way.
Say so because you remember the hard things you thought you couldn’t do but did.
Walking is an exercise in filtering my mind, conditioning it for better content, noticing what is correct from the perspective of my relationship with God.
I walk with my granddaughter, eyes to the ground, back to her prancing stride and back to the ground again, surveying the surface, keeping her safe.
We pass this fallen branch every time and I pause and consider how it looks like a giant snake.
Then, I pause again and I am intentional, I unwrite my own dreadfully strange and scary story. I tell myself, it is true that tree branch decayed and fallen resembles a snake; but, it is not a snake.
I curtail the fear.
I adjust my thoughts.
We walk and sing, dig in the dirt, sometimes we both dance.
We notice God together.
With the autumn season comes a change in the woods. Leaves dance like twirling ballerinas in front our faces. Strange mushroom fungi affix themselves to trees, birds are happier it seems.
The earth is sprinkled with the mystery of little white veils lying themselves down overnight.
My granddaughter sees them, carefully approaches and looks up to me.
Her little hand reaches and with her one little finger she separates the mystical veil.
She lifts her arm for me to reach down then places the moist finger that touched nature’s mystery to my cheek.
We notice God together. It is clear, His nearness.
“But in the depths of my heart I truly know that you, Yahweh, have become my Shield; You take me and surround me with yourself. Your glory covers me continually. You lift high my head when I bow low in shame.” Psalms 3:3 TPT
Know that God is still God. Adjust into the changes required of you, asking for help as help is needed and take a minute to recall the hardship you survived, you and God together, stronger than you could fathom.
Receive grace, we need it. We’re going to need it. Regardless of November, hopelessness is a wound not even close to being healed, the result of our lack of control, uncertainty, the open-ended question of the coming year, the apathy towards each other, the numbing that’s happening to us to the extent we don’t yet know.
“That’s a lot, Lisa…I thought you were a person of faith?”
I know. Today I prayed beside my bed, no words, just a position.
Surrendering the moment.
…and by Him, everyone who believes is freed. Acts 13:39
Belief is a very personal thing, prayer is too. God, knowing each of us completely and individually knows us “down to the very bones” and yet, sees us worthy of the very grace we received when we accepted the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. We decided then I can’t fix this, in fact in my humanness I am unfixable.
Still, I work hard and with intention and a word we love, “perseverance” to see the measure of my faith be represented by works. It’s how we’re wired and we forget that physical wiring never is enough.
Praise, prayer and worship with music rein me back in closer. I find myself opening my hands to heaven when a song touches my tender wounds, thrilled to be uninterrupted on my knees beside my bed or joining others in prayer with both hands palm up to God.
Giving God the hopes, fears and thanks.
Today, I read “Receive His grace all day.” It struck me that the hands I open to give are rarely opened to receive from God. I forget that I need His grace all day long, every moment. More importantly, I forget that His grace is a reservoir that never runs dry. I forget that it is ours simply for asking, just by saying, I need you every hour. Again, I’m not able on my own and you know it God, still you wait patiently for me to remember.
We cannot put our hopes in this country. I’m sorry if that sounds unpatriotic. It hurts to know that and I worry that hopelessness is outpacing the destruction of the pandemic. Without hope, without God and His grace, none of us can sustain our own manufactured hope.
Open your hands as needed today. Receive grace.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 ESV
I see God in the sky. This evening, the view was varied. There was strength. There was jubilant fullness. There was wide expanse with layered color.
I longed to be stronger because of seeing.
But, not so much. Not this evening.
If I’m honest.
My thoughts are likely controversial. I’ll be called selfish. It may be an opinion of many that it’s not such a big request, to require my face is masked.
I used to so very much enjoy outings, no particular reason trips to Target or to little shops or the art center, even the library.
Now, I’d rather not go.
I know not everyone else feels the same.
Today, my granddaughter not once but twice or more, looked into my eyes and smiled and she pulled my mask away from my face so she could kiss me on the lips.
At first, I thought, so sweet and then, I thought,
So odd. So very odd that someone who loves her so is “masked up” as if in disguise.
Thankfully, smart little baby wasn’t having it, she wanted to see her grandma.
A heavy weight bearing down, so very sick of all of this.
I walk with music.
The clouds are humongous.
The heron flies away the minute I walk by. To my right the sky is spattered sunset orange and to my right the fat clouds have a foundation almost purple.
And I hear a song called “Job’s” and I truly want to be comforted.
I’m sorry to say, I continue to wonder.
How long will my granddaughter see her grandma wearing a mask?
How long will we all be afraid and conformed to fearing even more every single moment.
How long until we trust our Sovereign God who made us fearfully and wonderfully and numbered our very moments…how long must we wait until our faith in His knowing of us gives us the courage to be free, unmasked and trusting the timing, the living, the hope…
To live without hiding, to live unmasked?
Fear will grow, keep growing until we are confident and trusting in the God that Job knew, the God we are all being beckoned to consider.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 ESV
Last week, I asked a question of someone I never thought of asking. I reminded myself of times leading and training others, how I’d tell them if you ask a question, that shows you are committed to learning and it also shows me you’re okay with not knowing as long as you trust that you can learn.
I asked three precise questions to help me with a writing decision and the person who answered, answered with “No problem, that’s what I’m here for”.
And I didn’t think it until today, this lost and listless morning, I should ask God to help me unravel these feelings, this lost exhaustion.
And He did.
“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Matthew 20:32-33 ESV
Being honest with God about the empty and boring angst my morning began with led to a gradual shift.
Numb due to the daily same no indication of change because of pandemic, discord and lack of good sleep due to dreams about Christmas, I’m barely moving as I go towards the coffee.
I sit with pen, open my Bible, circle boldly the word “trust” and then add the same letters on the place below my thumb, add a cross where the big nail pierced Him.
Flat, unmotivated, agenda-less and only pending set aside for later ideas kind of days.
I decide fresh air may enthuse me and I see the sunlight on the wild purple flowers.
I find the tomato sweet granddaughter discovered and dropped. It seems a rabbit took a bite out of its side, left it near the porch.
I find the new red bloom on the daisies and I see the geese crossing the road slowly, unconcerned over the big truck lightly tapping a beat with its horn.
The geese take their time, their plans for today are the same as the days before.
I saw the acceptance of rest in all of it. The empty slate day that welcomes restoration in a gradual way, the renewing of my mind, a required reminder.
Today, a summer Sunday perfect for quiet supplication of a clean slate, anxious clutter cleared and a willingness to be okay in the widening expanse of waiting.
These are not days of “finger snap” make all things better.
The realization of this, at first is exhausting. Still, these days that represent dwindling hope are only doors to more trusting.
If I could, I’d go stand in the widest open field I could find secluded from all eyes and I’d open my arms way, way wide.
I’d celebrate a realization.
I trust you, God.
I’d celebrate the change quiet brought me on Sunday morning when I woke so depleted. I’d thank God for answering when I asked for restoration. I’d thank Him for new ideas ready to be followed up on. I would thank him for answering all my questions.
I’d be grateful for the dream that kept me thinking although sleeping, I’d thank God for dreams about Christmas.
Because, Christmas is my favorite.
Thank you, God, for correcting my vision.
“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19 ESV
After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.
It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.
All afternoon, I painted.
I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.
When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.
I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.
I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.
The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.
I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.
I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.
And I revisited my career long reminder.
Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.
I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.
I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.
Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.
Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.
This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.
He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.
He asked for help.
“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3 ESV
Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.
I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.
I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.
May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.
I walked into the backyard early to see the tree that bore no blooms last summer dripping now with magenta fluff.
Again, the side by side are good and bad. The lack of understanding of when things will be better next to the complexities of a lavish creation.
Last week, or maybe it was two days ago, I prayed. I’m practicing quiet and praying guided by an app called “pause”. I recommend it highly.
The guider of prayer and meditation posed a question,
“What about yourself can you thank God for right now?”
The answer came with a tender upturned of my lips into a smile, I thanked God for my mind.
A mind that loves words, stories, loves wondering about the stories of others, a mind that doesn’t overthink, just really loves thinking.
Most of my life, I’ve wished for different. Why am I so odd, why am I captivated so by all around me? Why do I think so deeply, so often?
I smiled. Acceptance of my thinking as a gift seemed like an actual unwrapping.
Outdoors, a word came to mind as I thought of the lull of discontent I’m beginning to embody.
Ambivalence, that’s the word I felt summed it up. I quickly googled and confirmed it to be accurate. I used my Bible app and discovered no mention of it from God’s perspective. Interesting.
Ambivalence is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components.
After admiring the crepe myrtle in full display, I sat in my morning spot, writing an honest note to God.
I’m lulled into helplessness and beginning to accept a life of dismay. I am growing numb to the news of more numbing.
Then, I closed my eyes and sat.
You are helpless on your own but I am your helper. You are dismayed with your vision alone, see things through my eyes. You are unable to understand everything, trust me for answers.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 ESV
God continued: You are discouraged by all that you are hearing and seeing. Open your mind, eyes and ears to me and my calling.
Stay faithful to being found faithful.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4:1-2
And God continued with a suggestion. You don’t see the way forward and the burden feels heavy, walk with me and we’ll carry it together.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 ESV
In the midst of morning quiet, my phone dings with a message asking I pray for young man injured by diving into a pool.
I answered I would pray along with “these days are unbearable but God is still good”.
And her answer made me feel okay with the honest complexity of me again.
Yes, you are right. I will continue to pray for you as you inspire others even when your heart is heavy. Thank you!
What have you learned about yourself since March whenever when you were scared to death by being told to wash your hands, don’t touch your face?
I’ve learned I can’t blame lack of time for my lack of effort. I’ve learned to understand my resistance to taking chances is for fear of something not happening.
If you’ve read my blog, you may be thinking well, that’s no secret.
I learned that God made me to be merciful and that I have what is called a mercy gift, that this is my redemptive gift. The day after a very wise person told me this, thinking surely I already knew, I received this In Touch publication, their final issue. The issue’s focus?
I’ve learned there is a reader for stories born of trauma. There are authors who are honest and long for their readers to be changed by our stories.
One such author is Jake Owensby, the author of “A Resurrection Shaped Life, Dying and Rising on Planet Earth”.
Jake is a blogger and a minister. He also grew up exposed to violence. He developed a fear reaction. He cowered when he felt that was the only way to feel safe. He grew up being told he was worthless in so many ways. His book is written to convince the reader, God made you for different. You can believe you are valued.
I haven’t even finished the book and I’ve not been asked to review or mention it. It’s just a part of my learning during pandemic.
I admitted a big hard and better understood truth about myself.
I am a blamer. I look for places to lay blame for the trauma of my past, the way it has and continues to stymie my living.
Jake Owensby defines it this way, a way I am embracing,
You see, I’m a blamer. Or, more accurately, I’m a recovering blamer given to occasional relapses.
On the bottom page of this chapter’s second page are almost unreadable notes left by me, the truth of them so true, I had to hurry and leave it recorded.
If you can blame someone or someones for the hurt you felt, the fear unresolved and the physical harm that went unprevented…you won’t have to feel the deep heartache of not wanting to have to blame God.
Mr. Owensby led me to this, it is valuable like a revelation long needed.
I’m only half through the book. The chapter after blame and shame has other underlined and margin notes. One more that lingers is the retelling of an English teacher who believed in him and convinced him to write competitively. His fear and comparison of himself led to failure. However, he writes of the redemptive value of the instructor seeing that in him, seeing him measuring his lack against another’s arrogance.
She yearned for me to see things, to see the world and myself in a different light. In retrospect, I realize that it was my dread of failure that undid me that day. Failure, even perceived failure, would set loose in me an avalanche of shame.
I’m remembering now how Jake Owensby and I connected through writing. I remember the time he offered me prayer. I believe he prayed.
Prayer is yet another thing I’m learning more deeply.
Last weekend, I sat with my mama’s sister on her patio. She told a sweet story about how my mama was a teenager when she first heard my daddy singing in a tiny little country bar. She was a high schooler and he had come home from Korea.
I asked her to retell the story. How had I never known it? Then we turned the discussion from life to death. My uncle and my aunt asking me to remind them how old my parents were when they met death. The perspective changed along with the mood when I compared my upcoming 60th birthday with the corresponding too soon years of their dying.
I thought about the scribbles in my Bible, a book I gave my ailing mama entitled “What God Can Do”. I thought about how I believed she would live, that God would do what the Book of Luke records, she would live if I would believe. I thought of how I never prayed that way for my daddy, felt I was not eligible to pray, not equipped back then.
Now, on this Tuesday morning I’m listing answers to prayer because I am still praying and I will pray, continue unrelentingly.
So, why pray when people die anyway, when abuse continues for some and if it ends at last, the deep pain often comes back to visit?
I pray because I know God is far too big for me to know why and why not.
I pray because I know His love and power and knowledge in increments when I continue.
Lost keys found, an old car that started, a baby protected in a storm, a heart condition healed, a softer tone from the heart of one that used to be harder, an opportunity to write about redemption from trauma for others, waking up well, tiny twins a little early yet, healthy, little answers to questions and requests not really life altering but good offering ups of yes”, the bravery to send photos of paintings to a gallery.
Knowing God so much more than before, so much that it’s unimportant the reactions of others when you say you still believe in miracles.
God is not logical. We can’t use a chart like a logic model to list our prayers and our acts of mercy and kindness and line them up in a flow chart kind of way towards a corresponding list of outcomes.
God’s ways are not ours to fully understand.
Only fully believe.
So, what have you learned during this time called unprecedented?
Maybe it’s just that, all of our times are in the hands of a God who promises unprecedented miracles, unprecedented new mercies, unimaginable grace.
Fix your mind on that, not your missteps, the prayers you prayed that left you questioning, or the long held fear of failure and shame that holds you back.
Learn of God in tiny grasps; but, keep longing for steady learning. There is more than enough time to get closer to grasping the truth of Him, the truth not made for us to wrap our minds around completely, simple to be drawn closer every moment to the possibility of it.
The immeasurably confounding and generous love of God.
“from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:15-19 ESV
Like the prayers God answers, I’m enlightened by the possibility of them, not the end result. The book about a Resurrection Shaped Life, written from the perspective of someone hampered by shame was not written specifically for me and its author had no preconceived takeaway for me. I’m simply a reader as I am simply one who is praying. The revelation, redemption and peace in response are God’s answers.
I encourage you to follow the writing of Jake Owensby and to order this book if you’re stuck in your past or if you are prone to shame as a handicap. You can learn more here: Jake Owensby
I intentionally leave the blinds open now. The morning light and the shift of the sheers is my gentle waking alarm.
I’ve been thinking about fear and the contradiction of such beautiful occurrences as light through the window and when will this fear inducing pandemic uncertainty end.
But, I talked about fear the other day with my friend as we sorted out the hurtful and inappropriate behavior of another. I told my friend
At the core, it’s fear. Every unwanted behavior spills over from the fear brought on by something the other person has kept and is fighting to keep secret.
Since then, I’ve been contemplating fear. How so many of us are allowing our fear to go unacknowledged. We are afraid of things we can’t name on top of our already debilitating fears.
We are justified in our fear.
After all, there is no page in this book we’re all currently reading to tell us which chapter we are in.
Are we still reading the introduction? Have we moved into the mix of characters’ conflict, resolution and either an ending that leaves us unfulfilled and angry over giving time to its finishing or the final chapter in a really honest memoir that leads us to feel satisfied in the reconciliation of the author’s story?
We know little about this epic story called Co-Vid. I suppose we keep reading the book of it.
As needed. Only.
Otherwise, there are too many plot twists and too many arguments to make it pleasing or informative, to get pulled in, sleepless night reading birthing crazy night terrors.
I bet you can tell, I’m unschooled when it comes to this pandemic or anything else global or political.
This is by choice. Knowing everything is potentially harmful to catastrophic story writing me.
Today, I opened my Bible and decided to focus on fear.
Then I journaled each of them, as if taking notes for an upcoming test.
The section in my Bible that is called “What the Bible says about…” lists seven scriptures on fear. I googled “how many times is fear mentioned in the Bible?” The answer was “over 500” with a little more about the statement “do not fear” being in the Bible 365 times.
Many of us already know this cool fact. Many of us know God does not want us to be afraid, reminds us He is our strength and any fear we feel is from man not Him.
The greatest gift of reading my Bible is reading a verse I’ve read before but it being different, God being intentional in my receiving of it. Today, it’s 4 words from Isaiah 41:13
I am your God.
God is not just the God I believe, the Heavenly Father who desires eternity for me and so He gave His only Son. He is of course, those things.
But, He is my God. Yours too, as if we could be the one and only and He belongs to each of us with the same amount of love, of power, of protection, of fighting for us in a gentle way…as if to say, know this love I have for you more fully, better.
I am yours. God
The other verses are just as good. This thing called fear in this time called Corona has me thinking. Fear is complicated now. We can’t name the reasons for it because we’re overwhelmed with questions and information and a non ending to this chapter and book.
I do know God says don’t fear.
So, I’m sure fear must be coming from somewhere I’m not supposed to be seeing, hearing, absorbing into my thoughts. Maybe if there is one teaching and promise we can all wrap our minds around, it is this.
Do not fear.
Maybe it’s our heart and mind’s stubborn and faithful incomprehensible to others decision not to live in fear.