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

God’s Peace, You are Free

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s exactly as surprising and joyous as they say, being a grandparent. Some may say, it’s what I’m learning, an infant requires of your attention, a full percent and it’s never a demand, it is a precious gift.

Complement it with an idyllic setting, open field, blue sky wide, leaves changing colors and a quilt on a back porch situated perfectly for a breeze.

I sing with abandon. She listens, smiles. The acoustics are so good. My voice carries. God is near.

Being a grandmother, big chunks of uninterrupted peace. My granddaughter is privy to God’s refining of me.

Perhaps, it’s her and God’s idea.

How can I keep from singing your praise?

I welcome the unlearning of the traumatized me, I acknowledge it may take a bit.

I envision clarity like a treasure I bring up to my chest or it’s a tug of war, the big mean boy grabbing at what’s mine and me, scared of being overpowered.

I used to give it away.

Now, I’m angry over its thieves.

My little bit of peace and clarity jerked from my arms and the aggressor running away, turned back towards me, sneering and laughing his ass off!

I’d have used asterisks for the s’s but I decided not to veil the truth of this thought and image, the abusive act of my peace being stolen.

In the dim light of day as a way of escape, a rescue for my hurting heart came this morning.

The answer?

All things are possible with God.

I thought it over and over.

This! This is real.

Not with self-care, not a new counselor, not a community or “tribe”, not a webinar or self-help book.

Not some instructor, well intentioned but profiting from my naive determination shadowed by doubt and discontent.

These are the things that draw me in, make me prey to promises only God and I together can fulfill.

Bold revelation, you may say.

When I write this way, I’m a little worried and then I decide someone else may need to explore this, this self-handicapping behavior, this lesson in knowing our weak places, being uncomfortable with settling there.

The closer we get to God’s gracious idea of us, the more miserable we are wearing any other garment or expression.

Clarity came and may be the less traveled road to peace.

This leg of my journey will lead to peace.

A rarely talked about truth for victims of trauma, I’ve heard it spoken many times by my kind and skilled counselor friend.

People return to negative patterns because this is familiar, this is safe. The sometimes unhealthy behaviors are the most fail-proof remedy we know.

Thankfully not return to allowing physical trauma, more the insidious spread of subtle abuses to self, the power of our thoughts, our mindsets that

Sabotage our freedom.

Compile all the days you lived under the thumb of something or someone, succumbing to the control, manipulation or unfair, cast aside treatment by something or someone.

The undoing doesn’t just happen like the snap of a finger and thumb.

Take it easy on you.

Then do two things, Lisa Anne.

Now that you understand what you’re doing, be grateful not debilitated, give yourself grace.

Stop seeking validation, support, or yet another conversation in which you expect another human to fully understand your distress.

It’s not possible and it’s not their place or fault.

Your wounds and your beautiful hopes are far too deeply layered for another human being to understand.

Something about early morning, God always speaks as if to say:

I filtered your fears overnight, here’s what’s left, the sure thing you must now know. All things are possible with me.

This place God has brought me to, saved me from, kept me safe…how on earth could I think it’s possible to continue on my own?

I jot the “Jabez prayer” every morning.

“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Today, I added little check marks next the lines in the beginning: I’ve been blessed, check, I’ve had my territory enlarged, check!

The last two things, I am still very much in need of, keep your hand on me God, keep me from self-harm, the thoughts that betray me, so that I won’t revisit, get caught up in my pain.

You see, I spoke of newfound freedom, the choice to live with hope not remorse. I made it seem so easy.

Yet, I didn’t give a thought to the multiple layers of harm that very hope would have to fight daily with the devil to stay real every minute.

The one thing just a glimpse of freedom will give, a strong and renewed will to fight hard against repeated entrapment!

An awareness that it is hard not to be a victim when you were one for so long.

It is hard not to be who you were.

Almost impossible.

It’s easier to be weak and manipulated than to be newly strong.

I boasted of hope, forgot I am not able on my own.

God is my counselor, my advisor, my strong encourager of looking forward not before.

This is not a grim post, only honest. I’m afraid honesty’s in my bones, got that from my father, God rest his quiet soul.

I rise now to continue the things He started in me, blessed me, continues to enlarge my territory through happy brave opportunities.

I’ve designed a 2020 calendar, available soon, each month, an image of a woman strengthened by hope and God.

(Hope to share by next week, tell you more about ordering.)

Some told me they were proud of me, well intentioned comments and I suppose make sense.

What I’m doing though, is just following through on a God-planted seed, an idea, God’s work through me.

Please don’t be proud of me. Together, let’s be proud of God.

I rise now to clean my “art and writing room”, to ready it for what is possible today.

Are you a victim of trauma, physical or emotional abuse?

My thoughts…be strong, believe in your freedom; but, don’t walk it out alone, without the one who knows you completely, God.

“Jesus looked at them and said,

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Believe. Continue and believe.

Be Well

For a long time, very long time, we all remembered and talked about the time.

I’ve never been to New York City nor D.C.. I’ve never travelled by plane although I’m beginning to entertain the possibility, romanticize the big “6-0”.

I do remember the morning of 9/11. I remember I was at DFCS in my little square office with a window on a hallway with other “welfare” workers who I considered friends.

I loved working with these people. I did.

My mama called, the children were in school an hour away and I cannot remember whether we closed the office and all of us went home.

Eventually, I was with them, home and safe with my husband.

Changed, not because I knew anyone there nor remotely understood their trauma, fear, tragedy. I had no idea.

I have no idea.

Yesterday evening, social media informed me of the death of a popular young pastor and mental health pioneer,

By suicide.

I felt afraid because of his story, suicide and its occurrence is to me “scary”.

Because it’s happening more and because I’ve been with those who have been knocked down by the tragic reality.

I find it scary.

I’m following the journey of a child named Eva, in an induced coma now and it all started with a tumble to the ground, a simple fall.

Her mama wrote about hope this morning in her Instagram.

I began to think about life and hope.

About tragedy interspersed with triumph because it seems to me this is life in this world, in most of our worlds.

I remember my mama calling on 9/11.

I remember the morning my brother called to tell me my mama was gone.

The loud moan that came up from my belly that morning must have frightened my admin, the others in the office next door.

She was gone.

I had prayed so very hard she’d be healed. I had talked with her about faith and hope, brand new and uncomfortable things for me.

Things I thought were real, my mama’s death like a test I failed, my hope was either wrong or not enough.

I stopped believing.

Because, she was gone.

Mornings like that, losses and tragedies linger.

Tragedy is interspersed with triumph though.

This is life.

I believe it.

So, how did I continue, they continue…the ones for whom today brings fatal remembrances?

I believe we must choose as best we can with God’s help.

To be well.

Be the one who is able to say.

It is well. Even so, it is well. Even though, it is well. Although and even if, it is well.

I have this hope in God, in Christ Jesus.

It is evident.

Hope that says despite the very worst scenarios…

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭ESV

Not a vacant or mystical hope, there are reasons for my hope.

A baby I call “morning glory” because it fits, evidence of long and woeful answered prayers and a new sense of God being near me, of Jesus being personally acquainted with me, in spite of tragedy and triumph and every mistake , silly or serious misstep in between.

It is well.

Be well.

Decide to fight for yourself, to believe without the full understanding of why.

That God is sovereign.

And so.

It is well.

It is well with you.

And me.

All of us often out of rhythm, rocked by loss of life, out of kilter because of uncertain outcomes,

We are dwelling between two spaces, tragedy and triumph.

Reality.

But, glory, new glory comes every morning and often if you notice, it’s interspersed in the midst of moments.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Remember

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.

Jesus, our constant.

Continue and believe.

Rest on Saturday

This “microblog” on insta seemed to resonate with a few so I’ll share here: (Happy Saturday!)

Flakes and Banana Simply

Saturday without shame. Is there anything sweeter and more reminiscent of being a kid than cereal flakes floating in creamy milk with little round banana bites?

All of my life, food has been a battle.

Eat too much, eat too little, eat everything or nothing at all, carb shame and protein shakes, don’t eat too late, don’t skip meals…you might know the drill.

Y’all this morning, I’m finding beauty in a bowl of cereal because why in the world would I allow food to be a battle when we live in a world with so many very real battles, battles of the heart, battles of the enemy for our souls. We make progress in our walk with Jesus and then get pulled away causing us to question whether we’re good enough and even worse whether God really loves us at all! That’s why he calls us to stop striving, stop adding stress to your already load, rest.

I used to write “trust” on my wrist or doodled wherever I’d find space, I’d jot down TRUST. But for me, it’s softening now, this change towards Jesus. It’s less like instruction and more like invitation and less self-condemnation and more of me honoring the reality of my salvation.

It’s less rigid persecution of me by me and more giving what I can and being okay with not knowing where it goes.

It’s “Sit back and rest, Lisa. I’ll take you where you need to go.”

The places I wrote trust, I’m writing REST.

It’s finishing my cereal without regret over not having a veggie omelet.

PS…if you’re a newsletter subscriber, tomorrow I’m writing about Jeremiah’s warning of trusting our hearts. I hope I can do him justice, it’s a very interesting subject/passage.

#lifetothefullest #faithful19 #thecolorsofmybible #rest

The Intersecting of You

I got away from it.

Decided it was silly.

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.

I believe.

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.

With me.

And with others.