Tiny Stars and Light

The dog is most content. The laundry is waiting, the errands not even yet listed.

Morning is moving slowly and yet, soon, too quickly for all I need to do.

I’m aware of the need to accomplish a bunch of things.

Instead, I sit. I ponder.

Look beside you, glance around.

What do you see that’s idyllic?

Like playing “I Spy” to occupy your toddler, what’s in your world that’s only beauty?

Idyllic?

Charmingly simply.

I have books on my shelf that I once turned in direction, only the buff colored pages showing, no idea which book was which.

Back then, I found it clean and easy.

Not busy,

Now, I’m looking over and the sun is making stripes on the titles, like an abstract painting as the morning comes in.

Idyllic.

Framed photos next to me are dotted with the reflection of lights on the tree.

Last night the stars were sprinkled the same.

Vast sky, tiny brightness.

The puppy is at peace, he is my anchor begging me stay still.

Stay.

I am thinking of the waking thought God gave and the words of a friend yesterday.

Before praying I remembered the words to a peppy southern gospel song.

God will make a way for His children just like He did when He parted the sea.

I got out of bed to calm the shrill bark of the pup and quickly turned back to kneel and pray first.

Thanked God for wise friends who reminded me of His good will and gave my concerns for others needing beautiful surprises, resolutions to unexpected problems.

Left them there.

Coffee in hand, warm in the “You are My Sunshine” mug.

How can I not see the light?

I have been rescued, been blessed.

Reading less, thinking more.

I should hurry. I rest.

My coffee is now cold and still I just sit. I’m watching the patterns the sun is making on the throw pillows the chairs.

Beautiful. This beauty in December on a Friday.

The room is now daylight so I’ll switch off the lights on the tree, I have no centerpiece for the table and stockings are not yet hung.

Maybe today I’ll finish.

Not lazy, just making allowances to be okay with less than perfect.

To be content with simply okay.

To be well. To be at peace.

Look around you. Find light today and give it more than just a second.

Treasure it.

Christmas is not a competition.

Allow the buzz of activity and social media and traffic to continue all around you.

Engage on occasion.

But, then rest and rest some more and consider.

Consider your life a gift, a gift because of a baby in a manger.

Imagine the flurry of activity around the new baby, the excitement, the panic, the questions.

Mary rested and considered the miracle of Jesus.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More like Mary I’m hoping to be, Christmas this year, in me.

Looking for light in little things and small places, reminding me of tiny stars on a long ago evening.

I’m fascinated by the charmingly simple things now.

The less than spectacular photos shared by others draw me in.

Less covetous of the grandeur of others. Show me a photo of the “little in your life”, the way the light is landing where you love to live.

These are the compelling stories to me, the little places inviting ❤️ or a comment.

Light in. Let it. Join me in looking.

Meeting hope there.

Where We Walk

…and in thee too, while thou knowest it not, God shall be glorified. E.B Pusey

We ventured out differently, not sure the sun was warm enough for walking.

I carried my granddaughter in my arms and adjusted from one side to the other, her weight as we walked.

We covered the perimeter of the land that surrounds her home, all the way to the front of the home valley to the long length of shaded space beside and then turned back towards inside, the front porch welcome back home.

From a distance it was beautiful, I walked slowly avoiding large flat places where cacti lay and stepping gingerly over the little hills, the holes, the tiny valleys covered in grassy hay and straw.

We walked slowly, quietly, calm.

Elizabeth was still, interested as I talked to God and myself. She listened to my random observations of life and leaves and how blue the sky was.

We were noticing God.

On the edge of the field, the most brilliant of color caught my eye, a cluster of yellow amongst all the bare branches of what I think I’m remembering held pink plums in the summer.

Now empty except for this glory.

His glory.

Brilliant late beauty not killed by the cold.

How was your 2019?

I woke with the thought mine was monumental, the change, the choices, the transitions.

I hadn’t realized the truth of this until I numbered the reasons.

Then it all made sense, this feeling of the cusp of new, this current lull in nothingness.

I believe I’m in the season of growth with all the growth still unseen, not evident to the human of me.

I’m always afraid I misuse words so I googled “monumental” and affirmed my thoughts were true.

2019 was a monumental year for me. I thought maybe this is God’s reason to now shift to living momentarily or “momentously”.

Thinking be satisfied in the moments now, don’t aspire to great big life shifting ambitions.

Again, checking my use of word, I was met with surprise, “momentous” I had all wrong, very different than only living in the moment.

Alright.

All right, really.

mo·men·tous
/mōˈmen(t)əs,məˈmen(t)əs
adjective
  1. (of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.

Reflecting now, God is confirming boldly for me, one who loves words, things have been happening under the surface, deep in your spirit, my spirit in you that you do not yet fully know.

You’re getting closer though. God

Beginning to believe that it is so.

That you are known and

you are worthy of my love.

The years before are simply seeds that needed sifting, needed dormant seasons, needed to lay fallow for a reason,

needed to die to live again.

I believe this.

Are you in a lull that you question? Is where God has you insignificant from your view?

Asking, is this all there’s meant to be for me?

It may be so and that’s the reason for long walks and discovering seemingly insignificant things like yellow leaves.

We simply don’t know, we just keep walking to the place called “we will see”.

We will see.

I’ve added back to my circle today one prayer I thought I’d prayed way too much.

Have you felt that way? Thought after months of the same unanswered question, I’ve asked enough, I’ve told God more than He wants to know, I’m maybe even annoying Him.

I’ve prayed and He knows, I’ll move on…

I’ll let that prayer alone.

No, I’ve decided to pray it again, to ask for God’s help but with a different tone.

I’ll ask with an expectant spirit anticipating a brilliant “we shall see” surprise, an answer that says I’m cherished.

God’s reply, unknown to me when or how. I’ll be cherishing it because I am cherished as is the one for whom I’m making my steady request.

Pray believing.

If you believe in prayer at all, expect God to hear you. If you do not expect, you will not have. God will not hear you unless you believe He will hear you; but if you believe He will, He will be as good as your faith. Charles Spurgeon

Believe

Continue and believe.

Momentous days are now, the brilliance is coming!

Where Words Live

“The sower sows the word.” Jesus

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Someone held my journal in her hand yesterday, one of hundreds gone before.

She needed to list the children’s names for Christmas drawing for gift exchange.

I found a blank page past three or four written in and I let her hold my journal, the place where my current words are dwelling.

Imagined how I’d feel if she turned back a few pages and found my mornings’ words.

Lament, praise, self-criticism and supplication to God, all script and drawings expressing my very private hopes.

I’ve just read an intimate sharing, ten or so sentences in a poem.

The poet, according to his bio, leaves his short pieces in a variety of places.

He writes honestly.

About life, love, death, a menagerie of meaningfully derived pieces.

He is a doctor, a poet, a brilliant writer.

His written word resides in a variety of places, publications.

I paused at the call for submissions, quickly told myself no, you’re too harried in your writing hopes. Simplify, just live with one hope, to write stories of redemption, of being certain strength is the result of not giving up on hope.

If your words had a dwelling place, what would it be?

A gated mansion where people pay good money just to peruse?

A sought after invitation to be allowed a closeup view, maybe to sit amongst the words, even have an open book on their lap? A famous place?

Or would your words be in a tiny space found at the end of an overgrown field, a place that is shielded by years of unnoticed knowing?

Would the little place where your words live be a thrill to visit, your guest realizing they’re in on the discovery of a secret?

Where would you say your words would be found growing?

I read a famous person’s Twitter post offering up thanks to her thousands of followers and how it all began seventeen years ago on her blog.

I realized she’s no longer a blogger. She must be one of those who knows blogging is so over, who reads a blog anyway?

I’ve decided I can be selfish with my words, like my paintings, they’re my very own babies.

I’m inclined to keep the window closed, locked tight and curtained, the one that lets my light out to the great big world, let’s the light of others in.

I’m careful with my contributions to the writing community.

Selfish, I realize.

These words are mine that are often too heavy for even my own heart’s sharing.

I don’t jump at the chance to be chosen quite so much as before.

I’ll let my words keep living here, safe, friendly, the readers who read them.

This vague and not prolifically named place. Not easily found, not optimized for the seeker.

This quiet place emerging at a snail’s pace is the place of my writing, consistently an intimate expression.

Expression a stranger might read and decide they can relate.

Blogging may no longer be important, there may be a different set of aspiring writer rules.

I’ve grown weary of the unending advice or writing advisers.

It is hard to keep up.

I’m either naive or unteachable, stubborn or afraid of failure, uncomfortable with success.

Who’s to say?

It’s all about perspective.

My perspective, my eye for life and love, my ideas uniquely formed about redemption, about my assurance of heaven,

My faith.

None of these can be duplicated and this is the reason.

Writing is selfish.

Selfish in a sweet and honest, sometimes very raw causing the reader to pause way.

I’ve read blog posts like this.

Occasionally I’ve written one.

Say your prayers, I tell myself, let your thoughts get to forming words, type them out or scrawl them down.

May they keep being true.

May you be okay with the not so famous place they settle or are shared.

May the words of my heart find the reader who needs them.

This is my goal, my prayer, my less than spectacular ambition.

Go slowly. Simplify. Keep going. Share what you know about fear, trauma and shame and now, redemption, about Jesus. Go and tell, you’ll know where. Your life is a parable only you can tell.

“And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What’s your parable this morning?

Mine goes like this. The room this morning early is simply lit by the lights on the tree at end of the couch. The big puppy is resting his head on my lap. The coffee is strong and I’ve added real cream. I’m remembering the dream that I dreamed and how parts were upsetting and parts were reminders. I have yet to open my Bible or my journal and pen. This morning, I had a thought about blogging, about sharing and about simplicity. I sense God keeping me here, intent on that idea, write simply. I’m okay with that although it reeks of insignificance based on lofty expectations birthed by following others.

I’m dwelling in my morning spot, the place of being okay with waiting. I’ll continue my Advent readings and I’ll stop fearing not trying.

Waiting Here for You – An Advent Journey of Hope

I’ll wait for Christmas now. I’ll wait patiently for God to lead my words to places He made them to go.

Here, in spoken places and in hearts changing like mine.

Content in our redemption.

Our stories becoming God’s parables of hope.

Hard stories softened because of Jesus.

Like this one I have stored up:

I watched a man be baptized yesterday morning. His expression was all his, the way the moment of his decision to live differently was unable to be kept hidden. I watched him lift his arms to hold the hands of the one baptizing him up to his chest. His forearms painted completely in ink. He said something about his decision that was so covered in his emotion no one could know. I watched the face of this man rising from the water and I watched the face of the one baptizing. I felt it all, the grandeur in their strong embrace. I saw and felt redemption and I once again, remembered my own.

This man’s story, story of redemption and the Jesus we both know.

Similar in some ways, redemptive in all.

Abiding in love.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Keep sowing.

Give Happy

Today I read the final chapter of the book of Colossians and I’m moved by what Paul wrote.

Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18 ESV

I suppose he wanted all who had been with him as he preached from place to place.

To remember,

My life has not always been this way. There was a lot of horror in my before.

I’m almost done with “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman

I crawl into bed, thinking I’ll finish and slumber steals my attention. I decide I want to be fully awake when I read the happy ending!

Maybe I’ll finish today before the holiday dinner, I’ll sit lit by sunshine and I’ll finish the good book.

Yesterday, I returned to a familiar place. I stepped towards the counter for customer service and I struggled through my transaction.

I turned from the counter and saw an acquaintance at the end of the closing time line.

My eyes met her smile and I rolled my eyes, nodded and mouthed “grouchy!”.

The customer service lady with such a beautiful and unusual name never smiles at me.

She looks at me as if I’m inconvenient. She hurries me, demands my answers to the every customer questions.

Her appearance never changes, faded blue uniform shirt, thick old glasses and her hair in a topknot that never does its job.

Her mottled soft grey hair has fallen out of place, the topknot doesn’t hold it all together.

I decide I’d like to see her smile and then I imagine this is Eleanor, her looks are what Eleanor’s would be I allow myself to believe.

I long to see her smile even though she kind of scares me.

Her mood is so palpable, I wonder is it contagious?

Maybe.

I don’t know.

Do I come back with more packages?

Do I stop sending my art?

Is this what the customer service lady is saying, am I not an artist?

Such is the scare of trauma. The most ridiculous interactions are triggers, are mood and mind changers.

So, I mouth “grouchy” to my friend’s daughter as a warning.

Be prepared. Hold on to your happy.

I sit in the parking lot and I wonder what would happen if I asked,

Why are you so unhappy?

Today, Thanksgiving morning, I sit in silence and leave the lamp off. I gaze towards the dining room/kitchen, to the wall that’s a busy collection.

Feathers, photos and notes.

Old pictures of smiling children, still here mamas, daddies and grandparents. Times of celebration seem so close they may as well be today.

That’s how the view makes me feel.

Happy.

I think again about the topknot lady. I wonder how she’d take it if the next time I’m next in line, I asked her,

What makes you so happy?

And then look her in the eye and be strong in my grace, my love and my mercy.

And say Thanks and walk away, leaving her at least with that thought.

What makes me so happy?

Give happy.

Give thanks for it.

Later I’ll finish the Eleanor story, the one that I’m almost at the end, keep flipping to the chapter “Better Days”.

The story of giving love to someone complicated and unlovable, closed off and shelled up because of unspeakable trauma, chains.

The story of one accepting the warmth of another’s long suffering hand.

See, I love the story of Eleanor Oliphant; but, it’s Raymond in the book who makes me happy.

Remember what kept you in chains today and then remember the hands that set you free.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Give happy today.

Light, Your World

What’s the sunrise like in the world where you wake?

Is your view hindered by high building, hard structures or is your inability to see the light a barrier of your own making, a filter because of your unpleasant thoughts based on imperfect circumstance?

All of us, different and yet our days are lit the same way.

Distracted? Disenchanted? Less than optimistic because of imperfection or depression or hard circumstance?

How in the world are our lights supposed to shine when we feel so dull, uncertain or burnt out?

Burned down by our own dimming of our light or worse, someone once again making dark our days, heartbreak despite the glimmer we had of hope.

The country road I take is always busy early.

The curves are predictable now before I see the sunrise. Headlights approach and I steady myself, flip my lights to dim hoping they kindly reply in a soft nod.

Homes are popping up, close together or close to the road, some situated in a low down a path valley.

The road to my daughter’s, the road into town for many has become a community.

I notice the lights on the newest one I like, a modern take on country home. Sleek architecture with clean lines.

Christmas lights, a straight line across the front and one small new tree is curtained in loops of string lights.

I pause and remember my thoughts on such displays, Christmas lights on trees with no sense of order, no symmetry, no design.

No, I don’t want lights outside if we can’t do it right!

My husband asks and I tell him I don’t want lights outside if they can’t be just right, don’t want the display that says hey let’s throw these lights up in the trees and see how they land, see how they shine.

I have always been opposed to such a haphazard plan.

A home near ours has the new idea of lighting that appears to be perfect, fits neatly under the roof line and well, it is perfect. The one perfect tree wears Christmas. It is covered in a mesh overlay of sprinkle.

As neat as a pin, a very quiet display. Set for the season, perfect in a clean and closed fashion to me it seems.

The lights are in place and will shine unchanging til the new year.

A settled and set display on the outside, a view that is unchanging.

I thought of my longing for perfection, my determination to be splendid or nothing at all.

I wondered if the light I display has become so driven towards perfection that I appear unwelcoming.

Or maybe if I’m close to not shining at all.

The Book of Job mentions light twenty-seven times. Job wishes the light would just go away, the darkness made more sense and he longed for death. He wished he had never been born, never seen the light of day.

The light reminded him of his dark place as if to say if I can’t make sense of this time, this place, I don’t want to see it!

“Let its morning stars remain dark. Let it hope for light, but in vain; may it never see the morning light. Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb, for letting me be born to see all this trouble.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭3:3-6, 9-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The life of Job fascinates me, the way an undeserving man can suffer such bitter and destructive nonsense, question God, lose everything, experience despair and continue to consider that God might still be God and be good.

“God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’”

‭‭Job‬ ‭33:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Maybe we’ll string lights in all the trees this year, spread them out across the shrubbery, the bright orange extension chords undisguised in the day and our front yard a maze of electricity source.

For the glorious display when the darkness comes.

Maybe we’ll have lights again.

Imperfect but bright, this might be our display.

On the mornings I keep my granddaughter, I’m excited for the sunrise where she wakes.

We step onto the back porch all bundled and bright she is.

The rising sun is unobstructed there. The land is wide and the horizon only tops of trees.

Good morning, God! Elizabeth and I say.

The display is always brilliant, takes my breath away.

The same sun rose at home this morning, I almost ignored it.

Stepping outside with the puppy, I realize over my shoulder, the sky is ribbons of magenta, coral, powdery blue.

I snap a photo and then pause to admire the camellias.

I’m remembering the little lighted tree, the imperfect display, obvious in its sparse simplicity.

Simplicity keeps calling me back towards the “color story”.

Simply write it, keep it simple. You’re no theologian, Lisa Anne; but you do have a brilliant story.

Don’t we all?

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Take Courage

The crescent moon reappeared after a week of enormous full one. Its beauty is subtle, causing the eye to be discriminant towards the heavens, the evidence of cycle, of God in a quiet and sure way.

If courage had an expression I wonder what it would be.

If someone had the inability to hide their thoughts from their facial expressions.

What would the face of courage reveal?

Would courage look like tragedy, would the countenance of courage be downward glances, forlorn faces or broken distressed mouths formed in a grimace to convey the pain that courage represents?

Would it be like the joy of a love for another that’s met in an equal exchange or like the glee of a surprise causing a wide and spontaneous smile.

Not that way, I don’t think the expression of courage would show in that way.

Courage has a countenance more solid, more settled, more internal.

Steady, a secret formula.

Courage keeps a record of profit and loss and has tallied up the cost.

The value is underneath the layers, immeasurably personal and for the most part.

Courage is secretive.

Is a secret.

I sat on the pew marked for friends of the deceased. Family on the right side and us on the left, we were a sparse group.

Five of us spoke. The summation?

Courage.

Each of us in our individual ways remembered this individual as courageous.

If courage had words to share, I wonder what it would say.

Not very much, I’ve decided.

Courage is just that way.

Not a braggart or an instructor.

Courage is more.

Courage is a quiet conqueror who given the chance will tell of the agony, the distress that brought them to bravery.

Give its testimony.

Otherwise, courage stays quiet.

Stays quiet as a way to cherish and guard this inner resolve and immeasurable source.

Courage is the evidence that we know and believe in God’s love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:35-37‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The cost of courage?

Impossible accounting, irreplaceable, its value and the places from whence it comes.

Individual trials, personal triumphs.

Take courage.

Take love.

Continue and believe.

I’m linking up with others, prompted by the word “cost”.

Join us here: Five Minute Friday

Wonderful Souls

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. Proverbs 31:17

What will you notice in others today other than the surface of them, their predicament, their imperfect and even offensive behavior?

Will you consider what’s within?

Will it occur to you that your interaction with others is invitation to ministry, to the wonder of it all, our souls?

Yesterday I woke with the ache of an unpleasant dream. It was early morning and the drift of extra falling asleep led to remembering the news of Saturday.

A woman had been found by her son, unexpectedly she passed away. The dream had me rolled up knees to chest while my friend sat close by letting me cry. Letting me express the regret over not intervening, not being close enough to the sweet elderly woman’s need.

The dream was beneficial. I texted my friend told her I was praying for her because the measure of her grief is greater than mine. My friend had been much closer, like a daughter, like a fighter for this woman’s good, my friend was up close to the survival of this sweet tiny little spitfire survivor of abuse and valiant victor over the bottle despite being homeless woman.

Yes, I had a small part in helping but my friend had one much larger.

Still, both of us were engaged, captivated and humbled by the tenacity of Miss G. because she taught us both to be better, she taught us to keep keeping on.

As tiny as a child she was and on her very best days just as excited over living.

Miss G. was diminutive. If she ever felt diminished or delicate she kept that hidden.

The weak places she buried in the shadowy silence of her soul.

Let us in only a little, me much less than my friend and co-worker, Michelle.

Miss G. saw the wonder of life, love, believing in possible things and she lived, she lived in light of that wonder.

Monday morning now and I’ve switched off the lamplight. I am with God.

He alone knows the sadness of my soul.

Only He knows the benefit of sorrow’s visit.

Sorrow is grief’s measurement.

I allow the rivulet to lay on my cheek, I am thinking of my relationship with Miss G., the petite pulled together woman who fixed her hair to show up to clean the rooms in the emergency department of our hospital.

She was a hard worker, inspired others, was awarded for her attitude.

She came to check on me as I cautiously turned to see her, my condition still shaky, the vertigo and its nausea.

I don’t recall what she said, her look was not one of pity, no it was all her, her philosophy.

Never missing a chance to promote strength over pity.

Stay strong, don’t fall and don’t ever let yourself believe that God is not able.

She left me with this, this instruction as she looked long and directly before leaving.

This was not a verbal exchange. It was her heart seeing mine, this was her ministering to my soul.

So, I allow the tears to fall and let them seep below my skin, to dry on their own. I consider them a gift, drops on my cheeks like the resting rain on the last rosebud.

If I could I’d leave them much longer, evidence of love.

I thought of this sweet woman and of others.

Thought of the work I did before.

Then gave myself permission to see it as it had always been, ministry.

The work of overseeing a program that welcomed a woman in because she was without a home.

That’s not social or administrative or not for profit outcomes based work.

No, not at all.

This is and was ministry of the soul. I see now, clearly.

The encounters, the obstacles, the run ins with not ready for change people.

This was not hard work.

No it was soft, softening of all of our souls.

Me and they, all of us souls.

“Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The wonder of it all!

God intersecting our lives with others, all of us with burdens undeniable or hidden.

May I never lose my wonder!

There’s a tiny brick house I pass twice a day on the way to Elizabeth and back home.

A tiny porch bordered by mounds of garbage is lit by a bulb. Often the front door is open and a woman sits in a plastic chair that faces sideways, never turned towards the road, the passing cars, people.

I long to know her story.

I’ve decided it’s enough to simply see her as a soul.

To pray for a need not mine to know.

My friend’s grief over Miss G. is much more than my own. I texted her after my Sunday dream.

This morning I walked outside and I thought of how much you loved Miss G. how much she loved you. I know you are grieving. Miss G. is celebrating in heaven and she was greeted with “Well done thou good and faithful servant!” and I just see her grinning at Jesus and saying…”oh but you just wait til you meet Michelle!” You loved her well, God saw it all. Love you. Praises today, only praises.

What souls are yours to see?

Give yourself permission to go deeper than passing interaction or fulfilling vocation or expectation.

The soul is secret and yet so open.

Let your grace toward someone do unrequited things today.

Be satisfied beyond anything that you noticed and your work became ministry, became the work of seeing souls.

See them more clearly, love when opportunity comes.

Rest In Peace, Miss G. Thank you for ministering to my soul, the souls of so many others.

I will remember you well.


“Fill us with wonder
May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child…”

Bethel Music

Unintentional

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A more modern translation of this verse is softer, substituting the word discouragement for dismay.

I know now that to be dismayed is a more serious state, more knocked off your feet kind of feel than discouraged.

To be dismayed is to have a sudden loss of courage.

I am thoughtful over this definition. To be dismayed means to me, to be on the brink of defeat or uncertainty because of an unexpected thing.

The photo taken last week while training the puppy was accidental and unintentional.

I’m certain it was because of me adjusting the leash or preparing to control him as we got closer to the fluffy dog behind the neighbor’s fence.

I must’ve swapped hands worn out by his yanking and I guess my finger grazed the phone.

Anyway, I find the image drawing me in, the complexity of the soft and hard ground, the leaves crisp and scattered, just a glimpse of my forward foot and the puppy’s tongue.

We are in training .

We keep on, the shift underneath us so barely noticeable, the shift within us not forceful.

God changing the within in gradual ways.

Surrender is not sudden.

Drawing nearer to God is neither disdain, discouragement or dismay.

It’s simple. It is a soft and secret self-discipline stirred together with sweet encounters of peace.

Peace that is not sudden, is a steady undercurrent like creek to river, sandy path to the main road.

There, I’ve defined it now, the drawing of my eye to the random photo.

The unintentional picture on my phone, peace is what it captures.

Now I know.

I know peace, courage, standing quietly strong.

Not dismayed now.

May be soon. I pray not.

And even if, my heart will be more ready, not be stolen away.

I’ve got peace in my soul, in the ground beneath my feet.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

On Sunday

The clock ticks dull and rhythmic and the heat pump is straining, causing echoes down the hall.

It is dark and I’m wrapped and anchored, a layer of blanket held down by the big puppy.

I’m remembering the fall asleep reading of last night.

A book that intrigued, “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” is honest, irreverent at times, but made me want to know more, made me long to understand the mystery of her trauma.

Thinking it was years of working with abused children that called towards the book and then learning it was more, it was Eleanor’s story.

And mine.

“My life, I realized had gone wrong. Very, very wrong. I wasn’t supposed to live like this. No one was supposed to live like this. The problem was I simply didn’t know how to make it right. Mummy was wrong, I knew that. But no one had ever shown me the right way to live a life, and although I’d tried my best over the years, I simply didn’t know how to make things better. I could not solve the puzzle of me.” Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

To see her heroic, an overcomer redeemed from the hard years.

I got to the meat of it finally. The hard truth, the flailing soul at her lowest low, Eleanor Oliphant deciding not to go on.

Graphic were the paragraphs describing her vodka induced departure from living.

I thought of times I prefer not to think of, of circumstances that will stay just memories, won’t become written for sharing.

But, the honesty on last night’s pages, it was fulfilling to read them. They were relatable.

The main character at her lowest low, at her most honest.

A friend complimented me yesterday, he watches my life through my writing.

I go honest and he says keep going.

I feel I’m failing and he says no you’re just getting started.

You are so “locked-on” to where you want to be that you often don’t realize you are living that journey. As I peel back my layers, I keep finding all the junk, bugs and detours.Some day, when I grow up, I want to be like you. Ray V.

I’ve yet to reply to Ray’s comment sufficiently, to say thank you for seeing me, seeing the undercurrent of struggle that quickens my stride.

That if I’m not careful “trips me up”.

The fictional character, Eleanor Oliphant is an atheist and yet she’s convinced her life can be better, she just needs to make it true.

It’s futile, this force towards stories we aim to rewrite or to decide its up to us to change the ending.

Oswald Chambers met me with truth this morning:

“When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance.

Utmost for His Highest daily devotional

Maybe another way to say this is just stop forcing what you believe is yours to capture.

Stop measuring your value based on what you think you did without.

Be where you are now, reconciled that this is so very much enough.

Know you’re not finished, there’s so much more knowing to be known.

Eleanor, the one falling apart in a self-induced stupor is greeted by a friend when she is roused to open the door.

A friend, concerned and asking to be let in. He hadn’t left her thus far.

I’ll finish the book today, reminded by a friend David Kanigan that Sunday is meant for rest.

David Kanigan

I’ll be hoping Eleanor rested finally, put to rest her traumatic before and settled her soul in the goodness of her now.

Hoping for the ending of the story to be better than fine, to be redemption.

I know it’s fiction and Eleanor has decided God is not real, is not her friend.

Still, I can hope.

And I can believe.

Continue and believe.

You weren’t equipped back then, Lisa. DR, another wise friend

Thankful for a Sunday, for friends and for God.

I do believe in the three and they believe in me.

Breakfast, Dreams Unsettled and Possibility

I’ve only scratched the surface, understanding who I am. Some things I’ve settled on being done with, the unsettled traumas no longer unsettling me. I’m not settled, though, on all I’ve yet to see, what God made me for, possibility.

Before I went to the kitchen cabinet I remembered, I didn’t buy the cereal.

I woke up this morning and laid quietly anticipating my decided on Raisin Bran with banana swimming in creamy white milk.

I’d be on the second cup of dark coffee made the color of soft wheat with my half and half cream and a tiny bit of honey.

Raisin Bran is my favorite. It had been years since I had allowed my treat. After having just what I wanted for breakfast yesterday, I made up my mind to do it again.

Sigh, I took the other road, I bought the cardboard textured granola.

I settled.

This is not unique to me, this deciding something less is better for me, deciding I’ll just stop here, only the small good things were meant to be mine.

It is not unique to me that under the layers of self-critique there resides untapped potential, joyous possibility.

It was good and better for me. My rebellion towards sugar only slightly compromised already today. It was good, the granola.

Many years ago, my diet was deprivation. I survived on lettuce laced with mustard and then blew it out by Thursday on keg party beer and Krystal burgers. The memories are not pleasant. I’d love to frame them funny, just not possible.

Now I allow what I want on occasion and I don’t diet harshly or with rigid expectations. I may be close to deciding the 15 pounds I’d like to lose, been talking about it for a few years, have settled, they might be the allowance of grace I need to give me.

Other settling?

Art, book, health, career…I’ve not achieved as much as others here. I’m heavy on the ideas and light on the sticking with them.

Not settling, just waiting and maybe accepting.

Yesterday, I got an email rejection in regards to a story I’ve written about my grandmother, edited three times and sent three separate places now.

What am I to do with these sweet words? I really don’t know. I have so many it’s crazy. How do you settle with them never going anywhere. Writing is hard. I’m not sure why I’ve not quit by now.

Take Me To The Water

Last night after dinner I returned to the large canvas. My daughter had an idea for a painting she’d love over her bed.

Try, try again I did. Covered over covered layers and wiped the whole canvas one color. Again.

“Have I forgotten how to paint?” the familiar aching question.

I stayed at it, kept adding color and layers and I did not quit until I could snap a pic and send to my daughter.

“Beautiful”, was her reply and then that she knew I could sell it and that I should and it shouldn’t be hers for free.

But, it will be if she loves it in person. It will live in the home of she and her husband, their daughter. I won’t find another canvas and recreate it. No, this will be hers.

I don’t want her to settle.

I’m not settling on the small things any longer. I’m having toast with my cheesy scrambled eggs and dark chocolate with almonds in the evening with red wine.

Deprivation to me leans toward punishment. I do love to call myself out. Self-critique over my lack of writing progress is defeating. Pondering perfection based on the price haggled over for painting, so exhausting.

I’ll return to the easel now and I’ve jotted down new thoughts for the book idea. Both, more storytelling and less audience seeking.

And maybe for lunch, I’ll have a Peanut Butter and Jelly, just a half of sandwich on the crusty bread, crunchy peanut butter spread with sweet fig preserves.

I’m believing the wisdom of Psalms and beginning to want to know it full well. I’m choosing to savor everything and be satisfied in the truth that I have only barely begun to know the me made by God.

Good Settling

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s some freedom for me there. In the uncovering of my layers. There’s all sorts of unsettling of my thoughts, my days, my offerings to others.

May it be the same with you.