There was nothing I could do to save it. I had the idea of possibility and held it in the palm of my hand as if it were a wish, I felt heroic.
Arriving back home, I searched every tree for an unoccupied nest. The object I’d held onto for the entirety of my walk was a tiny bird egg I’d found on the trail.
In my palm, I noticed the pale angelic blue. Only glancing as I set out to save it, I hadn’t noticed the sweet blueness.
What a grand thing, I thought, to save it would surely have significance! It would be a nod to my worth, the little bird I saved so very important, me too!
I found no nest in the backyard and hurried to the front to find the left behind nest of straw in the garage, a bird nest in the corner of a plastic box.
I opened my hand to settle it in the safe place and saw the glistening of the egg’s innards spilled out into my palm.
In my excited determination, I held on too tightly, I had finished the shattering of the tiny egg.
Naturally, I thought about it. What was I thinking that I in my feeble humanity could save a bird’s egg with an already cracked shell?
I loved the idea of it, not finding just another feather to hold up to the air. Instead, an egg and the eventual birthing of a bluebird of which I could say I was responsible.
I returned to the yard with the Labrador here for just a night. Nothing could fix what I’d broken, I moved on from it to check the blueberries.
And in them, found a grace of sorts. The bushes now four years old and this year, we will finally have a little crop.
Quiet in our yard as the day turned to dusk, I picked every plump one, leaving the pale lavender for later. My granddaughter will visit. We’ll pick more together.
Enough for a small cobbler I decided, a bowl full of berries, rich in a blue, a cobalt vivid color.
Deep blue like a treasure.
Sleepless around 4, I dreamt of water and woke to get a drink.
Unable to calm the beat of my heart, I adjusted the air and recited the 23rd Psalm.
My reluctant mind finally settled and when I woke I thought of the tiny egg and how I’d found and then lost it.
What is the lesson? I wondered. Should I have left its salvation to the mama bird who’d find it or just accept it had fallen?
Had not been meant to fly.
I turn to Psalm 23 to find my drawing in the margin, a border of blue sky and the idea of a tree.
I think for a bit about the teaching of verse three, the verse that assures us that God sees and knows our paths.
“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 ESV
He restores my soul again and again. The restoration I find on the paths of His making are not odd or unusual or silly.
Odd that I would believe it possible to save an unborn bird?
No, not at all because it led me to consider the Sovereignty of God, the lack of power of my own.
Who decides if the hydrangea blooms or dries up to brittle brown? Who decides if a bird is kept safe in the wing of its mama or if the wind or something other causes it to be separated from the nest? Who decides if the blueberries produce a yield?
God only knows.
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’” Acts 2:28 ESV
May you find the wisdom of God on your path today. May it be simple, so significantly simple.
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1-2 ESV
Before I felt the truth of belonging there, I observed the setting. Twice in my life, a very long time ago, it was offered to me, possibility.
The high school art classroom, the teacher who spilled her very own love of painting all over the room, she started my believing.
She was less instructor, more demonstrator of art as a comfort, as a passion. She was evidence of the balm of creativity.
The English Honors professor who was a tiny force of expectation, a petite woman
She refused to accept my errors.
I remember the desk I arrived early to take, first row, third seat back. I hated my poor appearance, I avoided the walking across any classroom.
The room was so small, desks barely able to allow my thick to me frame. Classmates so close, it was uncomfortable to have another’s skin so near. But, my grades categorized me as Honors and I had no idea why, only that this class was significant, I was taken seriously. This exclusive group now included me.
The professor scared the mess of out of me until she convinced me, it was my writing that got me there, that qualified me. Not my parents, not my appearance. My writing was my how.
Four decades in between the idea of belonging and possibility are hard things, heavy losses and other type accomplishments.
Chronicling the years between what could have figuratively and literally killed me, the question of how is not of importance.
The answer of now is the result of believing I belonged in both classrooms and in what life and God knew were my possibilities.
“…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 NIV
Hope and possibility, words we value so vaguely, minimizing their power.
Think of someone, some thing in your history that pulled you close enough to listen, to believe that tiny voice of ideas and dreams unsought, unfulfilled, set aside would always be there. Then, pick it back up again, unconcerned with how, knowing you’ll treasure the day in the very near future when you decided on the possible.
In us, is the glorious hope of heaven because of Jesus. When we will fully believe, the details of our how are no issue.
Only today will matter, the day of grabbing hold of our set aside possibilities.
I’m linking up with others in a time when the “how” question is heavy and complex. How did we get here? How can we fathom it ever getting better? How can I be a difference maker? I don’t provide answers to things I don’t fully know. I can only hold fast to hope and possibilities and to be more like Jesus in all my encounters.
Here’s a granddaughter inspired post about “wonder” I wrote a few weeks ago.
Today is her 1st birthday. I call her “morning glory” among other little things. A baby who changes a day from gray to blue, a baby girl who has changed our world. Happy Birthday, sweet little curious thinker, “ELB”. We thank you for making us so much more sure of every single thing. You cause me to rest. You increase my joy. You are a gift. You are the embodiment of certain hope. You are silly, you are wise.
What We See
The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12 ESV
As if our bodies were synchronized, our necks craned and faces tilted towards heaven, we stared through the sheer drapery and we tried to find the opening. We wondered if it was as tiny as the point of a pin. We longed to see and were left questioning, “What is up there, what is causing the lingering of her stare?” We were fascinated. We were perplexed.
The baby was tiny then. We decided the veil must surely be thinner between babies and heaven. Occasionally, as her mama cradled her after feeding and before sleep, she raised her tiny arm towards the ceiling in a newborn hello wave. Something was there, someone, a presence only baby girl was capable of seeing. We were captivated by her vision. We researched angelic explanations and discovered mystical and somewhat biblical explanation. My daughter and I agreed, she is in awe of her new world, she sees either angel, God or we hoped, her great-grandma.
Then, she began to grow and curiosity for other was all about what she could touch, feel, manipulate, and discover. We noticed her looking towards heaven less often. She became more fascinated with the cool earth beneath her knees and feet.
Her longing for understanding seemed to be bigger than simply seeing. I watched as she discovered discovering.
I began to discover again.
We sat together in the cool grass of Spring. I watched her fascination with leaves, pine straw, and the big dog.
We sat together.
So serene. I braided the pinestraw in a way I may braid her soft hair one day. She watched me and her chubby fingers tried the same.
“Bird”, I said and she looked at me and then towards the sky. For a moment or two she was enthralled, we looked up together. I held her hand and we sat still.
I am thinking now, posing a question, sermon to self-type evaluation, “Where will you see God today, Lisa?” because it has been something I’ve been wondering in this pandemic. I have taken stock of the things God has not stopped. Babies are born. Birds are cavorting. Even the wind seems more melodic. The flowers are brilliant. The clouds are puffed and fully inflated. I find it confusing these spectacular symbols of living in a time of speculation and dread of death.
How is there such splendor in such a time of fear? How is my wonder over such beauty so fulfilling? What is God’s intention in this juxtaposition of grief and beauty? Are we to hold both, one hand clutching uncertainty and the other, splendor? Possibly, I believe. Perhaps wonder is simply faith we see only through childlike eyes.
The baby will be here momentarily. I’ll spread an old quilt on the grass in the back corner. All the toys will be toted out and she’ll play until she is bored with blocks and colors. Then she and I will look and listen. We will mimic the crow. We will toss the ball to the dog and we may sing her favorite song, “Deep and Wide”. She’ll guide my hands because she knows the words now. She’ll remember long ago when her grandma opened her arms, deep and then wide and sang to her over and over about the fountain flowing, one full of love for her and me.
We will look together. We will listen and then have a lunch of sweet potato. I’ll be attentive to her seeing and she will be to mine. We will look in wonder for God today, the sweet baby girl, and I will remember our creator, the one who gave us our eyes and our ears and our favorite thing of all, our wonder.
Where will you see God today?
May your seeing be as mysteriously clear as a baby’s.
Happy 1st birthday, Elizabeth Lettie, we love you more than any words can express. We love you for changing our seeing. We love you for increasing our wonder.
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 caught a glimpse of one of the last pink camellias. The bushes that border our home and the ones along the driveway had been spectacularly brilliant.
Then with the temperatures and rain were suddenly bloom-less. The grass wore a skirt of decaying flowers, their edges rusty with color and the petals limp and fading.
I paused when returning from walking and a glint of pink popped out from the deep green. One camellia was tucked away. I picked it.
I brought the flower inside and filled the vase with water. This was three days ago. The color remains and the bloom is strong on the stem. I can’t decide what I love the most about looking over to see the simple flower.
From every perspective.
Up close, the underlayer of petals are changing from pink to shriveled golden brown. Standing over it, I am drawn to the fragile innards, the bright yellow heart of it. From a distance, I love the contrast in color against our brick.
Why this one camellia caught my eye feels like a sweet secret, something God knew I needed.
I see beauty.
Lately, I’ve thought of how distinctly different every individual’s perspective is in this coronavirus crisis. It is based on their views, their experiences, their current emotional and physical as well as spiritual state.
I’m reminded of a long held truth. No one truly knows how another feels.
Secrets are our truth.
They are tender. They are hard. They are transparent.
I like the definition of perspective that is synonymous with “outlook”. I believe this.
Before we see, we feel and what we feel inwardly leads to our outward view, our perspective.
I asked myself this morning, How can I be more intentional and sure of the way God wants to use me, to continue rather than decide, oh, you must’ve been wrong?
It all begins with and comes back to belief.
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” Psalm 27:13 ESV
Believing is the perspective changer, the perspective keeper, the level ground during doubtful times, confusing ones like these.
God’s perspective of us, His creation?
He believes we are able.
He made us this way.
But, what about your secrets that tell you otherwise, ones that say to your soul, don’t try, don’t be sure, don’t step out in faith…you never know, you may discover you were wrong?
What if deep down you’re afraid you will learn, you were wrong about God’s believing in you, you were wrong about trying?
What a shameful secret this is. The one that hinders, the one that feels safer to be the same not take any more steps believing.
I may be wrong, I don’t think I’m alone in this occasional and yet, so overwhelming feeling.
This is why I own it, call it out, really look closely at its defeatist agenda! I speak to it! I tell it otherwise.
“God created me to be creative. God believes in me.”
Continue and believe. Your heart will find truth when you confront your secrets. You perspective will follow.
Linking up with others on the prompt, “perspective”
I thought the craziest thought the other day. Leaving the grocery store again after having to pep talk myself into going, I notice all of our differences. I sit and watch the other shoppers’ arrivals and departures. I inventory the wearers of masks in comparison to the full faces.
“Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” Psalm 90:13 ESV
I notice the efficiency adapted by the store. I am grateful for the smile of the one who wipes down my cart. But, I notice it is ambivalent, the welcome that ushers me to be the next shopper in.
The same expression, same as my thought,
“How long? How long?”
I wear my mask although I don’t like it. I feel it is the respectful of others thing to do.
But, it makes me feel horrible, makes my chest ache in the way that only sparks worry and imagination of diagnosis. The grocery store is symbolic, I decide.
Symbolic of our differences as expressed on masked and unmasked faces.
I imagine God looking down, all of us scattered and separate and still learning this “togethering”.
I notice an older man dressed casually in shorts because our weather is splendid. His eyes meet mine as if me being female reminds him of his promise to his wife. He reluctant huffs as he pulls up his mask. Another older gentleman and the most crisply dressed older woman walk in separately, heads held high, maskless.
They make eye contact with me and their reaction is a mixture of life lived wisdom and pity. I wonder what they think of me.
This may not be a popular noticing of mine I am sharing here.
The people who are wearing the masks, including me, appear to be so much more afraid than the ones whose faces are free.
I’m very fond of a word that describes our expressions. It is the best word I know of as the gauge of feelings, outward indications that bubble up from our souls.
It is countenance. I consider it a tool. Stand all alone and face your bathroom mirror. What do your eyes tell you?
The curve of the lines that border your mouth? The rise of your cheeks towards the meeting of your lashes?
What do you see that cannot be hidden? Often, I’d use this assessment when I worked with troubled women. I knew it was truthful and easy to do. I’d tell them, look in the mirror, you’ll be able to see the truth of how you’re doing, what you’re believing, what you’re trying to disguise.
I know this to be true.
I drive home with my groceries feeling more curious. Curious over the choices of some to go without masks. Were they confident or just stubborn? Are they more brave than the rest of us or do they just feel the masks do no good, what’ll happen will happen anyway.
And the ones like me who wore the masks, are we afraid or are we respectfully cautionary? Are we just a “follow alonger”?
I don’t know. Once home, I’m better. I flicked the mask from my face before I even put my cart away. I know it has a purpose; but, I despise the fear it represents to me.
I wake and I open my journal and I think of how scattered my days have been feeling. How some days I see calm as my countenance in the mirror, others a questioning blank gaze.
I ask God to keep me gentle, to keep me observant, to keep me intrigued by the expressions of others.
I ask God to keep me noticing, to be my teacher, to turn me towards the mirror in my car when I’m afraid to get out, to show me my countenance and help me fix it before entering. To allow the light to be shown through my eyes when there’s nothing else uncovered.
I ask God to preserve the gentleness of me, to keep me meek not distressed and bitterly questioning.
These things we do until we realize they don’t serve us well and that we really are together even when we are “un-together” here.
To help me consider the countenance of others although not fully seen. To acknowledge we all struggle differently, many of us numb by now to the fearful pandemic, many of us walking around in what feels like armor. We do what we can and we tell ourselves to stay in our bubble, ignore the statistics and predictions and hope tomorrow will be different.
What are we that He is mindful of us? We are His creation and we matter. To God, to each other.
Our eyes cast down, our chests heavy with question. He knows. Or our confidence in pushing onward moment by moment til this storm has subsided or at least become more understandable.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalms 42:5 KJV
We turn our attention towards the hope and the laments, the questions without answer, the admission of troubled mental struggles and errant behaviors, the book called Psalms.
It is there we find relatable stories, honest words of David, of singers and psalmists, that we find our countenance changers, our togetherness with others and with God.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5 ESV
We are together even in our un-togetherness. We are covered although scattered in our thoughts and souls.
We are all together in God’s strong hold. We are together with both masked and unmasked faces God sees fit to have intersect us. I hope my eyes contain just a bit of Him, the one who sees us all, unmasked, scattered and yet, together souls.
My art/writing room/sanctuary has canvas and paper creations stacked up on all my old stools, tables, shelves.
Come July, I’m set to have an exhibit at our Regional Airport, I’m planning on calling it “Southern Colors”.
In September, Lord willing, I’ll have pieces with two other artists in an exhibition in Greenville,SC…more of the same, angelic and strong female figures, landscapes, abstract florals.
Currently, the gallery has my four pieces discounted with my permission. These four paintings can be seen with details of dimensions, etc. by visiting : https://www.melangeartstudiogallery.com/ and finding me by searching the “Artist” page.
I’m so happy to share that a portion of all sales will be donated to the Salvation Army.
All pieces can be purchased online and shipped to your home. My joy is knowing that others find comfort through my art. For this reason, I love it when they find a home. Read more about my process and my heart in my bio on the gallery website.
Visit Melange Arts online and support artists like me while supporting and encouraging others!
Be well. Do something today that feels bravely and uniquely you. Be creative! Take a chance. Act “as if” your work will be in a gallery one day, on a shelf, on a stage or just in a little frame by your bed.