My Ungrowing

The tiny houseplant was a gift to my daughter as a teacher. Its little pot barely containing the roots, yet I pull it from the pretty little pot, give it water and its leaves lift up and persist, my home, its home now.

Not sure why it’s taken so long to decide, to decide it needed room to grow and lifted it from the flimsy black pot and dig deep down the soil already waiting in a container that contained something planted before that would not for the life of me grow.

Moved the tender tiny clinging still plants to the border and I placed the philodendron (maybe) in the center and just because, I put the ceramic sparrow there, to rest and to watch with me, the new place the plant will grow.

“Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.”

Psalms‬ ‭119:88‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I changed my morning spot, baffled over why I’d not thought to do so before.

Uncrowded now, the succulents are next to the others, two fat containers of thick odd things that grow best left alone. I’ll nourish this new planting, watch it flourish, see how it will go.

What a proud reply I’d been quick to give, popping back like an annoyingly cute little toddler pulling on the fabric of someone’s shirt, insisting on attention.

Interrupting all other conversation, anxious to be addressed, noticed, allowed to be the star of her own show.

“Me, me, Me!”

I was determined to be sure others knew I was there.

My confident reply even if no one asked, “I’m just gonna take every single opportunity I get to write.”

Their faces, sometimes awkward smiles and oh, okay, go you kinda responses.

Their reactions puzzled a little as if “This is different, who is this person?”

What began as an answer to prayer sort of sneakily meandered it’s way to obsession and half-hearted and hurried completion.

Let me tell you, Jesus was merciful in not allowing me to make a bigger mess of it. Clearly, a couple of columns, a few pieces were written two hours before deadline and what I know for sure.

It was only grace driven by God’s design of my days that He not me made sense, brought it all together.

None of it my creation alone, still God allowed me such grace in the midst.

Cause my heart was not in it. Thank you, Lord,

Yours was.

Were it not for me telling you so, you might never know. might think there’s no need for you to know.

The answer came one morning, the understanding of and making right this time.

“dormant”

I thought that is it. I’m in the dormant stage. It’s not so lovely a word and not ever say or think with regularity.

I checked to see if I had it right. Did it mean doing nothing, did it mean an on purpose lack of plowing and cultivating of my writing soil?

Yes, dormant. Yes, latent. Letting things lie, all the while knowing I’d be back, they as well.

Yes, stepping away and letting the roots grow in their own.

Dormancy, a season of inactivity because opportunities had somehow become contradictory to opportunity and were heartless obligation.

Counterintuitive, my “ungrowing” season.

I believe it will be.

The minds that are alive to every word from God, give constant opportunity for His divine interference with a suggestion that may alter the courses of their lives…Richard H. Hutton, Joy and Strength

Next week I’ll write my final “Faith” column for the small town paper. I’ll say thank you to all who’ve read and I’ll welcome the new one, the one who’s waiting already for simply a time to grow.

Now, my hope feels unhindered and my pathway one of peace. I’ve not forgotten the morning God, that you told me of my treasure, the one you planted there to grow.

Meanwhile, my hope is in my ungrowing, my revival in my rest.

I believe, Lord. I believe.

“Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!” Psalms‬ ‭119:116‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This post by Holly Gerth confirmed my assurance that it’s okay, okay to wait and see what God has for me.

https://holleygerth.com/blog/

Contentment, a Choice

Towards the end of my walk sans Labrador and with instruction in my ears,

I took the trail instead of the cul de sac.

I gave up one thing already, an obligation accepted because someone thought I’d be good at its demands.

I didn’t paint a pretty or pitiful reason why I’d be quitting, simply said not for me anymore. Here’s what I accomplished, it was small, happy I could help meet a need. Now, you’ll need to find someone else.

I was truthful, confident in my choice of no.

Done. Accepted promptly and the reply was with gratitude.

I’d waited a month to tell them, Lord knows why.

Podcast almost done, one about the secret to contentment.

The voice in my ears started with a story of seasons in our lives when we’re so focused on the attainment of something to complete us, striving towards what we decide will be satisfying and then realizing why on earth did I push so stubbornly and steady towards what I know now didn’t shine so brightly after all.

Did that, done, what now, what next?

What can I do that might finally feel well done?

I’ve heard it before. The secret to a full life is learning to live in the moment, to be satisfied where you’re standing, to be content no matter the circumstances.

I listened as the podcast voice reminded of Paul’s teaching to those in Corinth and in Philippi.

His life, the fodder of many a memory verse, he learned to be content.

He learned. He learned through his mistakes. He paid attention to his times better, not worse.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I approached the place where the anonymous dog barks incessantly, longing to know the footfall on the trail encroaching on his property.

I barely hear it; yet, I know he’s growling, struggling to break down the fence. I know he’ll keep barking, following me til I’m far from his fence.

I don’t hear him the same. The words in my ear, wisdom and better.

I turned just in time to see the way the sun was laying down its shadow on the open field, deciding it was good for me to walk this way today.

The right thing to choose long walk with a chance of a storm over a crosstown drive for a night of boot camp with the trainer.

It was good that I paid attention and I chose the other.

Later, I sent an email, informing an editor that June would be my last monthly contribution, explained to her I was trying to free up some space so that I could hear God’s plan more clearly, trying to make sure my focus is His.

Many will miss my column, the sweet ladies will wonder why. They’d grown accustomed to anticipating my picture in the paper and found it somehow celebrity like.

I realized I did too.

So, the secret to contentment is less me more Jesus.

Less believing that achievement and recognition will equal satisfaction. More realization of the thing that feeds my soul and enlightens my mind.

More quiet, being content no matter the notice of others, knowing so much more surely and unending I’m noticed by God.

Contentment, I’m reminded does not come naturally. It’s something we come back to because we remember how it feels.

We remember to be satisfied in so very little of what we say, do, aspire towards or even are recognized for.

We learn it’s not about us and we stay as surely as this crazy world allows in that place where the light came in, the place where God was illumined quite beautifully and clearly.

We give up being responsible for creating it.

We stop striving, cease controlling and we shield our ears from critical, chaotic or demanding requests like the bark of angry dog.

We learn to hear,

to fix our focus, the secret to being content, our choosing.

I’m prompted by the Five Minute Friday word, “Secret” and I always hope I can stop at five minutes, but never do: full disclosure.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/17/fmf-link-up-secret/

Still I couldn’t help but think of contentment and the secret to keeping it.

Bird on a Limb

There’s a bird on the branch of the old pine tree. At first it sat sideways on the fencepost. I turned from my coffee and it caught my eye, it’s belly so full and white,

I could see from the window. It waited it seems for my turning.

I stared.

It sat.

I walked outside and naturally it flew away and then it crossed my path to perch in the crepe myrtle. Again, until I got too close and it took up to the sky to rest on the thick limb of pine.

I just read what I know in my morning devotional, a confirmation that my contemplation over seemingly insignificance is never as I’m described “too deep”.

Nothing in our life is random or meaningless. Even when we don’t understand…

In Touch, Dr. Charles Stanley

The strangest thing it seemed occurred on Sunday. I’m traveling the interstate and notice what appears to be cloth of some sort, a red ribbon I decide.

I continue on expecting to see the breeze created by speeding cars lift it up and away.

Instead, I see a “red bird”, the bright red male of the couple, lifting itself frantic and fiercely hoping to avoid the white monstrosity of metal, my bumper.

With a loud bump the bird, failing to fly quickly enough meets my car and from there I presume lands someplace else most likely not surviving.

The thing is, it’s Mothers Day and my heart was looking for birds and feathers and such already, thinking of my mama long passed.

Melancholy over the void, determined to not be miserable.

However, I’m met with a bird’s tragic intersecting of my car.

“Ohhh no.” I moaned low and longing. My son’s reply, a knowing chuckle over my reaction, what other response could he give? Must be tough to be 20 with a mama who can be so thought-filled. Who knows, maybe he’s the same, my daughter too.

Deep thinkers us all, perhaps.

Surely knowing I’d not be able to let it go, this not at all happenstance happening to me on Mother’s Day, noticing.

Initially, I thought the worse, the vibrant male cardinal telling me disaster is near, someone’s passing is to be expected.

What a dreadful thought, an immediate conclusion, that “this is your sign” get ready for the taking away of someone you love.

Momentarily, we arrived and I entered the big sanctuary with my daughter and son having prayed prior, “Father, help me to be attentive to your presence, open my mind and heart to the Holy Spirit.”

The music was moving, the sermon meaningful. My eyes filled with warm tears to be reminded that I matter, when the statuesque young woman, oblivious to all the congregants opened her hands in rhythm with her soul and voice and sang and I cried quietly, understanding.

No one needed to know.

But me.

All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty-handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free

I’ve been set free
Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me, oh

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

Oh, I can see it now

Oh, I can see the love in Your eyes.

Broken Vessels, Hillsong

I can see it now.

“Pay attention.” I’ve decided the red bird was sent to say, from my Father.

“There are things you’ve stopped noticing as profound, the sightings of the birds and the sounds of their song, you’ve allowed them to be common, you’ve lost your keen longing to notice and be still in that notice.

You’ve considered like most, that it’s silly to believe this way.”

This morning, the bird with the fluff of fat white feathers for her belly and I had a staring contest. She sat, I watched. She moved and then returned and it’s not the bird who knows my need, nor anticipated my steps, impossible for that to be so.

It’s God who knew and knows.

Who reminded me to notice and made my pitiful and woesome imagining of the worst possible story into a reminder of what I’d lost, what I’d forsaken for other pursuits, distractions and decidedly doubtful dances with the devil.

A bird positioned in the middle of my interstate lane, mistaken for a ribbon, otherwise I’d have swerved to avoid and met God knows what.

Instead, it’s message so unavoidable and attention seeking…notice.

Pay attention.

Notice, again.

You forgot for a bit, needed to see.

God is everywhere.

The red birds and the fat mama birds and the voice of a woman who reminded me that He makes beautiful things of us.

God is everywhere.

Don’t forget to notice

His ways.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Way of Life #8

I was outside literally two minutes or less, finally finished, I made my way to the spot I sit and watch the blue cool pool water paint patterns on my feet.

I’d been cleaning like crazy, Friday night instead of Saturday morning.

I was raised that way.

On Saturday morning, nothing happened until we cleaned.

My mama handed out assignments and by noon you’d have thought our house on the poor side of town was tucked away behind stately gates.

I adhere to her pattern, my daughter and son do too. We like things straight.

We like our places put together and pretty.

Now, it’s morning and I have Saturday’s day about to unfold. I’ve been awakened by a text, “You up?”

“In bed, awake”, my reply.

“Get ready.” her instruction.

Last night I tried to remember my mama’s particular words and I couldn’t. I tried to bring to mind her philosophical response, fashioned in blunt reply.

What I miss most of all are Saturday morning calls, coaxing me not worry…to let these two be, to know that they are good.

I can’t recall what it was, the thing I said just like her. I wanted to remember, tried so very hard.

I had to let it go hoping it comes back when I least expect.

Because last night, I sat in my spot, magazine by my side with a splash of wine in pretty glass. Relax, Lisa Anne.

Relax now.

Don’t stress. Let it be. Pick your battles. It’ll be fine. The truth always comes out and again, stress’ll kill you.

Momentarily, I heard the sound.

The arrival, I was ready.

Closer to me, at just the right time, I tilt my eyes towards heaven, and there are three.

The geese, the geese.

Mama always said, “Here they come.”

And yes, they did.

Again.

Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow in heaven. I’ll keep looking for you, mama, in my every single thing.

I’ll be listening for your reply.

Happy Way of Life #7

The page is marked by words that meant something sometime and now, again, a torn off strip of paper, a verse.

“God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:24‬

The pages shimmy softly under the swooshing breeze manufactured by hovering above fan.

I read what I somehow had not read before, yet left the blue torn slip in this very place.

A poem:

“The World I Live In”

I have refused to live

locked in the orderly house of

reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyway,

what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or

twice I’ve seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head will you

ever, possibly, see one.

Mary Oliver

Believe.

Believe and see.

Amongst One Another

I suppose it might be possible.

That there might be some amongst us who don’t know struggle, haven’t had it woven intricately in the layers of their skin, embedded deep deep deep in the pits of their tummies.

I saw someone last night and I remembered how she’d been real with me and I, with her.

How I’d said yes to her unexpected invite for lunch, just wanting us to know one another more.

First of all, how often are we so honest? How rare are women that brave?

She shattered my illusion of her life more sublime than mine. She told me her story.

And, I mine.

I guess over a year or more ago. She listened as I shared the colors of my Bible, my story.

And I saw her and I told her what that meant to me, her opening her heart, her curiosity of mine.

What if we did that more? What if we left each other loved and uplifted, caressed on more than typical passing platitudes?

We’d know more the feeling of being amongst one another. We’d be more generous with our giving of time, less greedy for dominance in conversation.

Another friend made me cry when I held her and let her cry. It was hard.

Then soft.

She said it, what I already knew.

“I think I just saw God.”

I read a beautiful prayer this morning, a prayer by a French Archbishop whose name I can’t pronounce. It was a prayer asking God to find us when we can’t find Him.

Take my heart, for I canst give it and when thou hast it, oh, keep it for Thee and save me in spite of myself. Archbishop F’enelon

Someone mentioned feeling as if in an abyss yesterday and we then talked about the “cliff”.

If you’ve ever been in a deep place feeling like you can’t pull yourself out or if you’ve found yourself on the edge, on the cusp of disastrous choice worn out and miserable over what’s come your way, having to get real quiet or real loud and maybe say God, come near, be my rescue, remind me again.

Save me, yet again.

The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

We’re not made to cower.

The “change-up”

Slowly, my perspective is changing.

Consistently, I am enlightened by God.

Finally, I am beginning to create a space for freedom to be true.

I heard a sermon from Lamentations last week, the highlighted passage was on the steadfast quality of God’s love. It’s well known, an affirmative promise.

My mind wandered, I admit.

I have a hard time in a room with noises that distract, so I’ll focus my attention on my little space.

I’ll buffer the outside and go inside, reading ahead, veering a few lines or a chapter away to the other verses, protective of my focus and intentional in my holding close what’s mine, what’s beneficial.

Same way in my daily readings. this morning, only a few words because of time.

Yet, timely, so timely.  Gone, going are the days of holding onto hurt like a treasure, a badge marking honorable mention for making it through.

img_4547

 

I’m adapting.

We talked about my story last week, my friend and I.

Talked about the possibility of a changeup.

“Change-up”, the phrase paints a memory for me and I digress. My son’s reaction when he got that one right, priceless was his joy! The batter befuddled by the sudden change in pattern, tricked by his expectation of the fastball or the curve, he couldn’t adapt.

He couldn’t throw it too often, the batters grew to expect it, prepared and anticipated and they’d connect, triumphant their expression, they adapted, adjusted and met what was thrown a little differently, refusing to be struck out, struck down and defeated.

My story is wrought with trauma and it made…makes me vulnerable, just the thought of its presentation and mostly, its lack of completion.

Beginning even.

But, a changeup is in the works, slowly the perspective is changing and my mind is catching up to the curve.

Not fear, not remorse, not hard heard recollection, rather an authentic expression of gratitude and hope in the midst of every stage.

I’m adapting. I’m hopeful, less hindered by my vulnerability and my striving towards redeeming my wrongs and the wrongs done towards me.

Adapting my story from a fearful perspective to more of a welcome gift of forgiveness to others.

Not about me, my fears or my falters, rather about those steadfast in their hope for me.

My life, an adaptation of God.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:55-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others, writing for 5 minutes, prompted by “adapt”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/03/fmf-link-up-adapt/