Do you make mental lists of things you’d like to be remembered by? Maybe that’s just what a sixty year old person does.
It happened again. Yesterday, my friend asked if my hair color was natural. It took a minute, I realized she was asking if I had happily resigned to go grey.
My hair is grey? Again, how did I miss this? I don’t spend a whole light of time on hair or makeup to be honest.
Makes me wonder if others say to themselves, well, Lisa retired and she just let herself go or
Maybe she relaxed into being herself.
We were outdoors on this beautiful day. I met my friend and her brother to take notes and hear the love story of the couple I’d be creating art for.
Ideas were shared, preferences in size and style. Mentions of things God has me doing through art and likeminded casual conversation about the goodness of God.
My friend’s brother listened as I shared the meaning of my life verse.
“In quietness and confidence is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 NLT
There was a pause and he spoke up, “I want to see your Bible.”
I thought of my Bible and smiled.
This morning I’m thinking of the weight of his wish, I’m thinking I may be remembered by the sketches in my Bible.
No better wish.
On this crisp morning, full moon later, Halloween and time change tomorrow, the shift is building, the tension mounting, the crucial critical day of Tuesday, voting.
But, I sit quietly. I open my Joy and Strength devotional to October 31. I read the ancient words from Deuteronomy.
Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. Deuteronomy 8:2
This portion of a verse in a chapter headed “Remember the Lord your God”.
Words used by Moses as reminders of the forty years of wilderness, the humbling and then the provision of manna.
The chapter ends with a serious warning, timely for our day.
“And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 8:19-20 ESV
I’m not qualified to argue politics. I love people and I love God. Loving God, though, is my priority, my calling, my navigation.
I understand the sound of God’s gentle warning that He gives before He needs to speak more boldly.
I will heed the warning of Moses. I will take care lest I forget the Lord my God by not keeping His commandments and his rules and statutes. (Deuteronomy 8:11)
I will remember the wilderness He pulled me from and I will treasure an unexpected hope of another who reminded me of what matters when he sweetly said, “I want to see your Bible.”
Me too, Tommy,
Me too. I want to always be able to see my Bible. Even when my eyes are squinty and my hair fully silver. I want to hold my Bible in my lap, underline the exhortations, sketch in the margin faces of women like me, women God found. Women who remember.
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.
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.
We can wait well knowing, the sweetest days are coming.
We canwait 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.
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.
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.
A deer jumped from the field onto my path and I slowed. I expected another and then, yes, a young one skirted on wobbly legs all by itself into the woods.
I thought of the season, not being a hunter or having knowledge of why they were out walking so early, feeding I assumed, preparing for something, going some set aside place or looking for seclusion.
Later, instead of the regular “walk around the block” I saw an opening. A deeply wooded path, narrow with a valley and then a slight curve that made me curious about where it might lead.
I stepped in with the baby. Very quiet, very careful to watch my feet. We looked together up towards heaven in an enchanted gaze.
The brown ground was covered in seasoned oak leaves. I moved slowly with intention and walked unafraid.
Standing still to see a pair of cardinals and hear the rustling in the branches of others, I listened.
I thought. I am sixty-and a day years old today. It’s okay.
I saw God there and I felt him see me. Thinking towards the next things because of uncertainty of where the path may take me if I choose the more wooded way at the top of the hill.
I turned back, the peaceful way called my name. I chose to take the simple route, the one I had barely begun to know.
I turned and was greeted by the view of an opening like a garden entrance, a glow of gold and green that begged me to see.
You discovered a new way today, now step back into the old path forever changed by your seeing.
The settled way, the way without accomplishment, goal or agenda.
The trusting way, the way to allow God to show me instead of anxiety’s need of always knowing, forever second guessing and harboring remorse because they did and I didn’t.
Mary, the sister of Martha chose to be settled, to choose the better in a time women were expected to be fixers of things, holders of it all together, preparers of perfectly orchestrated outcome things.
Perhaps, I may be exaggerating here. Naturally, I didn’t live in the days of the sisters who had Jesus come to dinner.
But, I have lived in days of huge expectations and pressures and I am beginning to understand, allow, most of all believe in the better.
“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 NLT
To linger longer in the places God calls me, to slow down and believe he sees me.
Late in the afternoon, I watched from the windows. The trees that were far from me reminded me of a stormy ocean tide rolling on. The rhythm of their sway and the brushing up of the trees was a dance with the wind.
Synchronicity. I had said a quiet prayer, a pause and I opened my eyes and sat still.
I sat and rested my eyes on the horizon of dark cloudless sky, the gathering of trees.
Knowing it’s impossible to stay here for long, there are many things to do.
But, for a moment, and more moments later.
I can choose the new and the better, redemption this side of heaven.
I’ve taken some advice I used with others making their way towards change, women working to steady their lives after losing their footing.
I remember suggesting,
“Look in the mirror, you’ll know how you’re doing. You’ll see if you’re changing.”
“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30 ESV
I see the signs of aging, the crinkly look of already used tissue paper is the texture of the skin on my neck.
My nose is wide, not graceful or balanced below my eyes.
My lashes are short and somehow my actual eyes appear tiny.
This was the observation early morning after sleep not coming and my frustration over it.
I’m one who needs my sleep and very well knows it. I woke up to the problem when I got up close and peered into the bathroom mirror.
I remember just days ago an acquaintance and I talking about not recognizing each other after a few years because of the mandatory mask.
The old friend disagreed, told me he’d recognize my eyes anywhere, that they are very intense.
I wonder how it can be when age and life it seems are dulling their blueness so rapidly.
No amount of wrinkle cream or remedy seem to make a difference.
The difference is deeper, it’s the soul of me I am learning.
Two days after fixating on the size of my nose I visited the early morning mirror and now, it’s daily. I compare me to that sad selfie I won’t be sharing, thank you, as a tool to assess what I believe.
Beauty is born in the soul. Clarity and hope will not shine through if the source of them both is sought outside the place that inhabits God in us.
To be honest, it’s the approaching sixtieth that has me accepting my appearance and racing to catch up with time wasted not caring about my health or caring too much obsessively towards harm.
So, Monday has me focused on what I know now and what I’m doing that is good.
Because I can’t circle back on life’s walk and erase unhealthy choices. I can’t run ahead and anticipate or offset dreadful aging.
I can live today.
Begin again every morning knowing God keeps no records of wrongs only watches and nudges us toward learning.
I can look in the mirror and marvel over its honest reflection. I can be happy over my current condition trusting my eyes will tell me what is different as well as what choices I make that need to be different.
God is with me.
All the way. Good things are coming with brave choices and gentle faith in myself as I wait.
As He waits for me not to undo my past or catch up, just to join alongside Him.
“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Isaiah 30:18 NLT
Want to know the condition of your soul?
Look into your morning mirror first thing and then continue.