I kept my promise to myself this summer although the plan for the big reveal just didn’t come true.
I feared the worst thing that made absolutely no sense.
What if I can’t feel my way back to safety? What if I hit bottom and lose my breath? What if I’m left to figure it out on my own, panic and struggle and cause my own deadly distress?
I practiced in private. Well, just the instructor/husband and I. The scenario I planned, on my birthday my children would come over and we’d grill burgers and then I’d surprise them as they sat by the pool.
They’d see I was able. I had overcome my fear of diving into the deep end.
Other plans played out, my birthday was good but not the “big reveal”.
The accomplishment was more private, I believe it was better that way. Mine to treasure.
Now, it’s Autumn and the kitchen window is open to welcome cool air as I sit with my Bible, thinking about God’s call to deep.
There’s a verse in the Book of Acts that describes this beckoning I’m feeling.
This quiet acceptance of slow growth after my baptism, like roots spreading underneath, necessary for solid strength, I sense the preparing of this stronger me.
This one who is going deeper still in the sharing of my story, my perspective on this often discussed Jesus, the Son of God, waiting for all the skeptics, doubters, intellects and risk takers to dive in to the simplicity of grace.
To feel their way towards heaven.
There must have been masses of deep thinkers bent on proving Paul wrong back then.
They listened and he kept speaking.
He knew his place was simply to share his story of change. His understanding of God, of Jesus.
“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”
Acts of the Apostles 17:27 NLT
Aren’t we all just “feeling our way” towards the unknown and knowable God?
When I stood on the edge of the pool, my toes gripping the edge, body bent towards the water and practicing the rocking type motion that would give me the push
I was scared.
Scared of the same irrational thing, what if I get to the bottom and I can’t come back up.
“What happens when I am that deep?” I asked my husband.
He always answered, same way, he gave me step by step instructions and I followed them and he says it wasn’t pretty; but, I did it.
I jumped/fell in and I did it again and again until I was satisfied.
I met my goal before my 59th birthday!
Symbolic for me, although I didn’t know it.
This has summer changed me, grown me.
Still growing. Letting the roots of assurance of what happened to me in the water take their time in spreading wide, making plans and breathing life into what may have otherwise dried up and withered.
My branches are reaching wider.
Feeling their way towards God.
To the water, the deeper end, bottomless pool filled with mercy and grace for those who take the chance, step from the edge, finally trusting we’ll be drawn up, face beaming, pure joy as we pop up!
Hallelujah, I have felt my way towards God!
Linking up with other Friday writers, prompted by the word “Deep”.
I sit with the puppy, my mama’s quilt turned to the side with color, the puppy ate a rubber toy, the red ink of duck lips I concluded.
I flip it over, will wash it today. It’ll wait.
I think of my daddy when I think the word, “Idle”.
This daughter of his was altogether unprepared for independence and yet, I could charge my battery with a jump and when my little blue Celica wouldn’t start, I knew where to spark its start using a screwdriver to beat on just the right wire.
Crazy to think.
Resilience began late for me.
It hasn’t finished just yet.
On a Monday following a post about time chasing after things, I’m happy to have put my pen down, new to do list complete.
I’m sitting on the sofa, moving slowly into Monday.
The puppy is in heaven, our bonding getting better.
Positive reinforcement, not negative, consistent reward and maintaining my cues. What a job! He’s smart and according to the trainer, he really wants to please.
Full disclosure, I wanted a dog but chose a puppy.
Everything in life, a lesson…
Stay at it.
Someone said to me yesterday, resisting change and decision.
“Let’s just idle a little longer.”
I wonder what is their fear of moving forward.
I remembered my daddy telling me before the days of daughters stranded on the interstate with cell phones…I remembered his instruction.
Once you get it started, let it idle but not for long, give it the gas and keep going…My daddy, gone 21 years, this month on the 11th.
Warmth fills my eyes at the thought of me on the side of the road just outside of scary to me Atlanta, remembering how to start my car with a flathead screwdriver.
Wishing this morning I had thanked him for making me see that I was capable.
Capable combined with ideas.
Not able to be idle for long.
I’m learning it’s true what they say about confident waiting, about taking your hands and heart from a situation.
To be surprised when God shows up, shows out or simply gives a nudge.
Because I love understanding words, I compared “idle” to “waiting”.
Found “idle” to be not such a good thing: doing nothing, wasting valuable time, inactive or avoiding work.
Waiting lends itself to a more hopeful stance: expecting, anticipating, to pause or my favorite, “stand by”.
I can visualize “stand by”.
It is evidence of believing truths like God fighting for me when I stay still. It’s indicative of faith, you know the whole enduring in hope of what you haven’t clearly seen.
Like the screwdriver in the hand of a scared and naive young woman about to flunk out on her art scholarship private college…
Waiting only takes a spark, a connection, one thing affecting another
And your engine is started.
You don’t idle. You put your hand and heart to the tasks, you know your ideas are like the pedal to the metal in the dark journey all alone, back home.
Back to you.
I think of a quote, knowing I don’t read nearly enough, so very grateful for recall.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Mary Oliver
New this morning?
Dare I share that secret sweet hopeful maybe idea?
A coffee table type book of illustrations, my art, my “Bible girls”, each girl, a story about hope.
Does not understanding raise her voice? Proverbs 8:1
I heard them off in the distance and decided they were traversing through the warm fog towards the expected pond down the road.
I stood as the puppy followed his pattern, checking out the corner shrub, sniffing at the dirt; he is so slow in the mornings to do “his business”.
The sound of the geese came closer and I expected to see them fly over the four homes down subdivision.
Instead they were sounding very close.
I stood as the sound approached and there they were, two sets of geese perfectly positioned over me. So very close, I could see the pattern of their feathers and their soft curved bellies, their beaks breaking up the fog.
Two sets of seven or eight or so in their arrow design making their way to must be a new destination, course change, following new directions today.
The puppy scurried towards me and was startled, his little face looking up towards the sky as he hurried.
This is new for him, I thought; he has to figure out if he should run away or be okay, trusting their kind and sweetly patterned arrival.
Being safe and simply noticing.
Like the random occurrence of the dragonfly perched on my cup poolside, it rested until I noticed and because I noticed, I captured it on my phone.
Someone asked, “You’re taking a picture of a dragonfly?”
I don’t believe I responded.
Because I had no idea the symbolism and I didn’t know how beautiful it and its traditional meaning would be.
Until this morning.
Until the meaning lined up with my prayer.
The Dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life. This symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living in the moment and living life to the fullest.
I’m back to bedside prayers in the morning. To be honest it’s sometimes more like a long low downward dog pose, hoping for relief in the ache of low back.
I tumble from my bed to the floor determined to at the very least start well.
I think of the invalid who’d been so very close to healing waters but waited over half his life for someone to help him get well, help him from the ground into the water.
He waited to be noticed, for maybe someone to care and he used the excuses that well everyone else is beating me there, the line’s too long or perhaps, he felt the waters had lost their strength because of all the help they’d given everyone else…
Could there still be healing enough left in the water for me?
After all those years, he was paralyzed, not only his limbs but his mind and his soul.
Oh, man! I understand.
Stay where you are, settle in your place of thinking you can but never will.
“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”
John 5:5-9 ESV
It’s no coincidence, the geese flying over, the visiting dragonfly and my different prayer this morning.
Lord, can my life truly be different? Help me live today in pursuit of the difference in me that only you know. Help me to be moment by moment today instead of rushing towards this evening, tomorrow or even next year. Can my life really be different? I’m willing to see.
I don’t think we know at all, even an ounce of what God might have planned if we are patient, persistent and willing.
I don’t think we see the magic and power of getting up from our “mats”… our places on the ground or the floor and embracing the change and changes God says are possible when we forget all the barriers, the doubts, the distractions and the pull of life backward or in unhealthy directions.
It may be slow. I’ll try to be steady.
I’ll go slow.
I’ll follow unknown paths perhaps.
Moment by moment, change will come and I’ll find myself in small yet surrendered places.
Positioned with Him because I moved from my worn out tattered and sad place and into the healing water.
At 5:30 this morning the moon was just to the left of the big dipper. The crescent base was like a cupped up saucer holding a scoop of vanilla, round and resting.
The stars were scattered. The air was pleasant. I’m the keeper of the puppy’s potty schedule.
I’m the middle of the nighter.
My husband asked me when he’d be like “Colt” the beloved chocolate lab who became impossible not to love, impossible not to miss.
I told him it would be a while, at least a year.
We didn’t forget, but it mattered so much less. How he destroyed the back porch door, ate the arm off the new couch and once ate an entire plate of marinating pork.
We somehow don’t remember.
I wondered this morning how the moon got back to my favorite, the crescent. I wondered not in a way that I’d search for astronomy books.
I just thought of the pace of its changes and how the circle and cycle is remembered.
I told my daughter, a new mother that with her and her brother, I know there was labor in their deliveries but I don’t really remember the details.
I remember how she as a baby lit up when I came near. I don’t remember not sleeping. I remember singing “You are my Sunshine” and making up new verses just for her.
I remember my son hated back seat car rides and so I drove one hand on the wheel and the other holding his. I remember how he’d turn upon my arrival, his little Keds filled with dirt, he greeted his working mama and ran with chubby legs to find my arms.
I remember my daughter laughing and unfolding all the laundry as we sat together in the middle of the tiny living room floor.
We lived in a single wide that was so old, there was plywood for the floor and her first room was a closet.
We loved there.
I remember the love, not the struggle.
By 7:00 this morning, the grass is still damp and chilly and the little crescent is barely visible above the halo over the pines created by the sun.
Today I read about comfort and sorrow, how we can expect to be somewhere on the continuum of the circle.
Same with progress and stagnation, a cycle, a circle.
The passage in II Corinthians, the very beginning reads this way.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 KJV
Tribulations and comforts, life and longings.
This from my “Joy and Strength” devotion today:
He is ever ready to increase His grace in our hearts, that as we live and act among all the sorrows of the world we may learn by slow degrees the skill and mastery of consolation. Francis Paget
Yesterday, I talked with someone about the creeping back in of anxiety and depression, situational. I mentioned I’m learning to fight against it, to get back to where I need to be, not drifting too far from my peace.
Self awareness that doesn’t get stuck, doesn’t defer to pity,
Remembers God and His ever ready rescue and mercy.
One sentence, a verse gave me remembrance of this, a mental picture not of my rambling, damaged and tormented life before I sought peace daily.
An image of my significance from God’s perspective.
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. Luke 15:5 ESV
The parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd Jesus, not remembering our bad behaviors or our losing our ways, only overjoyed that we are found again!
Like the full moon remembering how to return to crescent or the parent literally forgetting the struggles, only remembering the bliss, God longs for us to know the circle, the coming back with ease to Him.
Back to peace.
Consolation and comfort never waning, always waiting.
I’ve mentioned before, my grandma was an artist. She created bejeweled Christmas balls and sold them.
I suppose she did this for two or three years.
She had a following.
If it were today, it might be said she had a platform, her art at Christmas was known county-wide.
I’ve not sold a painting in a month or so and today I was rejected twice via email, my bravely written and submitted words.
My words, my fingers easy on the keyboard or messy in the paint.
I saw the email, didn’t want to read it, held my phone at a distance as I scrolled as if the yes or no might cause my screen to explode or illuminate in my hand.
So many submissions, thank you.
Less than 72 hours ago I was reminded of a favorite Old Testament verse, I admit I pluck out just a portion, my favorite part.
Don’t despise the day of small things.
“For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice…”
Zechariah 4:10 ESV
Someone called me asking about a gift certificate for a painting. I said, sure, okay.
I heard a podcast interview that discussed the ministries of 30 or so years ago, sitting with others, talking about hard things and Jesus or helping someone on the cusp of not believing to believe again.
That’s what we called ministry back then.
Now we look at numbers, followers, visitors, and interactions.
Last week I quietly chastened myself. It stuck. I was changed more than momentarily.
My blog is my ministry.
My Instagram is my ministry.
My art is my ministry.
I felt like crap when I admitted I’d acted as if there had to be more.
Almost three years ago I told a friend “I don’t want to be a cutesy trendy female Christian writer.”
It seems I’d forgotten.
I had made my readers small, the regulars who read my words, unimportant.
I realized all along and without me needing to know, my words are my ministry.
My words are always honest.
Are genuine, not prettied up hoping for selection.
These weekly, daily, maybe more are truly me, true me.
Brave and oh, the trendy word.
I prayed last week for some sense of direction to keep writing, trying or give up.
Specifically, I asked God to send someone to tell me keep going or settle.
Then I got the rejection of two pieces and I acted as if I’d never asked the above question.
God’s not saying quit writing.
God is saying quit chasing notice. Stop seeking acclaim.
Why are you trying to write anything other than what you started and can’t bring yourself to finish?
Because I fear rejection.
Yet, I fear giving up even more.
I’ll keep going, slow and with free speaking, thinking, praying and believing.
I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep painting and I’ll keep taking the same steps as before knowing I’m still headed towards forward, not the me of before.
Small things of my day today?
I finished a tiny watercolor painting, my three month old granddaughter on my lap.
We walked together, Elizabeth and I and when I mentioned the birds, her sweet face turned in their direction,
I prayed with my cousin and she with me and we helped one another.
Yes, I used what God gave me, small things.
My ministries today.
Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and God will lead my thinking. I’ll type a little something and someone might comment, “needed this today” and I’ll answer
“I’m just saying what God told me first thing.”
And I’ll sit and add colors to canvas and in my comforting of myself, I’ll make art for others.
I don’t know why I continue, rejection is a certain thing.
Small things, I won’t despise them.
Won’t despise the days full of them and what they are teaching me.
Began to discount its value, my fascination with feathers.
I’d been letting them lay, walking right past or looking closely to consider gathering up only to find them invaluable.
Worse yet, taking cute pictures and posting them.
I was faking.
It was a slow descent into believing that was crazy, finding a feather and proclaiming it prophetic or memorable in some way.
Worse yet, believing a feather on the ground meant God was watching and that He knew my steps would be passing this way, that my rapid walk would slow and my glance go sideways to find the loosened from goose, hawk, sparrow or bluebird, feathers.
I had become unaffected by discovery.
I could not seem to find God for a bit.
Thickly guarded and girded in old dark leather, my heart felt imprisoned by invalid disdain.
But, the softening would not let up, the grace of God wouldn’t relent.
I walked after skipping two days due to fatigue and suffocating heat. There had been a shower, the breeze was back.
I trudged on for the sake of the good it does me, wards off depression, affords time alone.
The white was glistening in the grass, a feather like the wing of an angel in the same spot as three days ago.
I had found it, held it for a second and then decided to let it land as I wistfully blew it loose from my fingers attempting a cinematic floating away of it towards heaven.
Instead it just fell and I walked on.
See, told you, I thought to myself.
What has happened? You don’t care anymore.
Until yesterday I saw it and I asked myself.
What’s happening with you? Why have you stopped being open to noticing, to deciding God is near?
I held the feather, turned it over to see the beauty of strong striated brown, ivory, black all perfectly curving upward from the sturdy white spine like unbreakable bone.
I walked on, holding it in my free hand. Passed another walker, phone in her hand, noise in our ears.
We nod and continue.
Good, no casual conversation required. Relief.
I think for a second. I wish I was more of a “peopler”.
And then I am surprised, this longing for people; this is new.
God is doing something, making me less okay with lonely.
I continue walking and I decide I’ll not keep the feather, I have so very many.
But, something else, maybe.
I walk towards the end of the trail. In the center is a short pole that keeps cars from entering.
I position the feather there and I leave it, uncertain if it will stay, if the breeze will catch it, if it will simply fall to the hard ground of trail or if someone will come along behind me walking and find it, to say.
Oh, wow, a feather. Wow, this seems significant, my finding.
I imagine them feeling a peace.
I believe it will make a difference for the discoverer and this has me hopeful again.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”
Psalms 30:11 ESV
This return to my sure noticing, this return to my embrace of God, of lying my head on his shoulder, being held by His grace, wonderfully.
And wonderment, again.
To return to a simple joy that few speak of but find it too.
Lord, may I remain pliable, may I welcome the breaking of my hard places to be approachable and to never grow so thickly guarded or burdened that I don’t welcome the intersecting of you.