God of the Clouds

bravery, confidence, courage, Faith, family, fear, grace, Peace, praise, Prayer, rest, Vulnerability, wisdom
all of it lining up

You can be sure I prayed on my first flight. There were many things I found odd and being a “noticer” of people, longing to exchange stories, clearly I was out of my element.

The woman next to me seemed flustered. I let her have the armrest the entire three plus hours. She, dressed in a tie dye hoodie with Colorado across her chest, made a low mumbling sound upon takeoff.

I closed my eyes, opened my palm and I said a prayer for us both.

She “played possum” or was sleeping.

The expectation of turbulence was announced and again an audible groan followed by a few more from the woman beside me.

I can’t tell you how close I came to offering my hand.

It was very difficult not to. Me, an empath deciding she was in need of kindness.

Instead, I read. “The Dutch House” is a captivating read about siblings, dysfunctional families and children who continued moving towards reconciliation and making sense of that dysfunction.

I read until I couldn’t stop my fear.

The plane seemed to be slowing. I raised the shade on the window to see we were on top of the clouds.

This didn’t calm me. Nor was I captivated by the beautiful reality.

I was surprised.

Me, the lover of noticing God in the splendor of His creation, not at all taken by the view.

I expected to be in awe. Instead, I clearly thought, “This is not natural. You don’t belong up here.”

That thought fed my fear and so I opened my tattered devotional, “Joy and Strength”.

I did a thing I sometimes do, see how dates or numbers might line up to send a good message from God to me.

I turned to page 327. The passages and commentary were about life and about death, about the reality of both.

“It may mean sickness as well as health; death as well as life; loss as well as gain; peril as well as safety; shipwreck by sea and accident on land…” Anthony W. Thorold

Okay.

I paused.

I thought, okay, okay and then thought maybe there are things I should have said to my family that I didn’t.

I sat calmly.

My eyes returned to the sweat crumpled boarding pass, Flight 372, Gate A53, Seat 12A (close to the emergency exit, close to the engine, next to someone who kept silent).

Not Flight 327, no it was 372 and this number had no relevance other than being the index page in the back of my book!

I settled, it was settled.

God is in the clouds.

With me.

All is well.

“Through you I’m saved—rescued from every trouble…Psalm 54:7

I’ll most likely fly again.

I’ll understand better that it’s a means to a destination,

settle in,

be still,

say your prayers,

clinch your fist upon landing,

be quietly cordial as you exit.

You got this, God is with you, the God of earth and sky.

Continue and believe

Trust Over Dread

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, hope, Peace, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Psalm 107:2

The spaces I created for newsletter and blog share the word “redemption”. The idea was to share the gift of a closeness with God over time and to write honestly about it.

To embrace redemption as my theme, my guide, my breath of life.

re·demp·tion

/rəˈdem(p)SH(ə)n

noun

1.
the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.

Last month, and the ones before, I wrote mainly about art. I didn’t write redemption stories. Either I stopped believing in them or I felt I’d shared enough. I wrote and illustrated a book, I shifted my sharing to self-promotion. I was told it’s what I’m supposed to do.

It’s mostly an inside job, this enemy I fear called control.

I still get triggered by the mask. Lately, the shame of my “for now” decision against the vaccine is a causing ugly looks and a sense of judgment from others, all leading to isolation, a less obvious trigger.

If you understand, you understand. Otherwise, it makes no sense why you may think things that are not true.

I dreamt last night of bruises on my arms from being held down. My dream me disguised the bruises, made excuses to others about their cause.

I woke and shook off the thoughts, said to myself that is not true anymore.

Nobody held you tightly in their control, you are safe. You are not controlled by others.

Again, this won’t make sense unless you’ve known it.

Many of us fight an internal battle against control, decisions made for you.

We move closer to wholeness when we know peace comes with making decisions with God, quiet ones on your own.

We trust that tiny voice that’s God saying now you have the strength to speak up for yourself, to know your help is from me most of all, it is where you find rest.

Where your trust becomes unwavering faith.

“Faith over Fear” becomes

“Trust over Dread”.

It is awareness of the much to dread, not a whole lot of looking forward to happy according to all we’re told of our country’s condition.

It sort of feels silly to long for things. Some unexpected illness, sorrow or tragedy may knock on your front door or you’ll hear of another injustice and see the hearts of mankind broken and the trend towards true change a bigger obstacle than before.

This is why I’m building up my trust reservoir.

I’m remembering what never runs out, never says I’ve nothing more, never abandons my tender tired heart in need.

It is God’s love and grace.

I wrote 3 words in my journal today. All are distractions to my connection with God.

Distrust

Dread

Drudgery

Then, I added. “Pay attention to the way you approach life.”

Are you dreading the future? Has your hope been stolen? How is it that you know God and believe in Him, have for a bunch of years; yet, you don’t trust as much anymore?

Are you apathetic, exhausted?

Is it because you can’t be sure what life will be like where you are headed or because you’re afraid you won’t look at all like the person you hoped to be next year.

If you feel (with good reason) it is unlikely life will be any better, it is likely you’re incapacitated by dread.

noun

1.
great fear or apprehension

If you have the Bible app, search “dread”. You’ll find God’s conversations with Job, the words of Jesus and other gentle warnings about how it’s not God’s idea for us.

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.””

Proverbs 1:33 ESV

My granddaughter was teeny tiny when I first sang “Deep and Wide” to her. Her newborn expression was attentive and calm, enthralled.

“Deep and wide

Deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”

There is a fountain for us. It won’t dry up, parched by sun or heat.

The river is grace.

It is wide and deep.

It is deep and wide.

Continue and believe,

Trust over dread.

Be attentive to God’s voice in your thoughts.

There’s nothing to fear when we trust God as the maker of our days, the lover of our souls.

Our deep and wide

Safe place.

You’re Welcome Here

bravery, Faith, fear, Holy Spirit, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

I found it amazing. I’m hesitant to use “amazing”. I read somewhere the annoyance of the word’s overuse.

But amazing it was and as I think of it now, still is.

Four people gather to pray and worship with music.

Four distinctively different approaches. Women of different ages, different churches, different journeys, different hopes thwarted, different ideas about some things.

No comparison between us, contrast was not our motive.

Together, all ended separate prayers in the name of Jesus.

Reverence, a unique response to each of us. At first, I squirm in my seat wondering if my worship should be more like hers.

Then I listen. I notice the difference, the difference in me.

Reluctant to gather because I’ve found comfort as an introvert lately, but, joined the others telling myself, listen and be willing.

Four people gathered to offer up prayer, listen to songs about the goodness and certainty of God.

Turns were taken, hands extended and raised, heads bowed, hands folded, common ground was shifted until we all were different

and yet sweetly and spiritually the same.

Responsive, no longer reluctant.

We gathered and the air shifted. Burdens were made lighter, shallow breaths became steady, even and deeper.

Together in a room with the Spirit of God.

I think of the differences now, no criticism or condemnation over preference of place or practice.

Four people gathered and God was with us.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcomed in because of Jesus.

Light of Heaven

Abuse Survivor, Angels, confidence, contentment, daughters, Faith, fear, Forgiveness, heaven, memoir, Peace, Redemption, Salvation, Trust, Truth, Vulnerability, wonder
Certain of Heaven

I wonder if we’d talked about Heaven would I have been better at it.

There’s a memory of my pre-pubescent days that lingers, leaves a lot of questions.

Saturday morning, my older brother and I and maybe the baby brother reported for duty.

(Here’s where I note, the memories are my own, my siblings’ are sometimes different, less or more.)

But, we’d arrive at the church and there would be a little preparation, pep talk, bellowing prayer sort of meeting.

No pants for girls were allowed, only skirts or culottes. I was shy, I was uncomfortable in my female skin. I wanted to do right, be loved and accepted.

We were transported to some big parking lot of a store and we paired up or if we were bold, we approached strangers alone.

We gave out the gospel tract that may have had a ruby faded flame depicting Hell on the front or a big bold question mark, prompting us to confront others about their salvation.

I don’t recall being very good at it. I hoped somehow I was good enough.

Last week or the week before, I felt afraid again. Someone mentioned the rapture. Another wrote about being certain those around you are certain of heaven.

I felt my spirit crouching, looking for a safe corner. Fear rose up.

I thought about why.

“The faculty of memory is particularly exquisite. I think there’s a secret to why God provided it.” John Eldredge, “Get Your Life Back”

I am certain of heaven, talk of it doesn’t scare me. It was simply the Saturday school of witnessing to strangers that scared me, a subtle trauma.

I began to think of a better approach. Although we were young people, little soldiers, what if we had begun our conversations with heaven?

I envisioned us all being schooled in a circled gathering. Inquisitive ones, looking towards our teacher. I see myself captivated by the hope of heaven, inspired, uplifted, casting off my despair.

Excited and at peace simultaneously. God smiling.

What if, way back then I had been trained in hope instead of fear?

Some things may have been different. My story not as meandering to be where I am today.

“Your story matters. Your story will not be lost.” John Eldredge

Angels Near

Years ago, I bought a Bible from an estate sale. It bothered me that it had been left so long. I decided I would find the family of this woman, I was confident they’d be thrilled to be discovered.

No luck.

I’ve kept the soft worn leather Bible that belonged to a young woman who was an art teacher and became a school principal.

Treasures in her Bible are her membership card as a National Educator, her PTA card, a litany for children, a lesson plan on color, a newspaper clipping announcing her promotion and a photograph of my mama at my wedding I decided belonged here.

A Red Cross membership card

In 1939, Angela renewed her Red Cross certification. My mama was born that year, January 30th.

I’ve read all the notes Angela wrote about her journey of faith in the pages of her Bible.

“We have to open our hearts to the workings of God.” Angela

Heaven is restoration. It is no longer needing to revisit old stories. We don’t see yet; but, in heaven we will see them as God intended. God, both the author and finisher of us.

“Lest we despair, God has given us a “future and a hope” and to be quite specific, it includes the restoration of every precious day of our lives. Heaven is not a memory wipe.” John Eldredge

If I had a do over from my childhood evangelist days, I pray I’d have the courage to look another in the eye. I pray I’d have the sweetest soul penetrating eyes and that my voice wouldn’t quiver a bit.

I pray I wouldn’t be wearing culottes.

And I’d say “Hey, how are you…wanna talk about heaven?”

Today marks the year eleven since my mama went to heaven. Too soon, I’m nine years away from that age.

I’m certain she is joyous. I’m sure every pain and heartache she experienced no longer remains.

I thought of heaven in a new way yesterday. I pray I continue.

I envisioned the reunion with someone who harmed me, brought havoc and years of pain.

I saw us seeing each other and I heard myself say.

“I’m so very happy you’re here.”

Angela’s Bible

“For the Lord himself will appear with the declaration of victory, the shout of an archangel, and the trumpet blast of God. He will descend from the heavenly realm and command those who are dead in Christ to rise first. Then we who are alive will join them, transported together in clouds to have an encounter with the Lord in the air, and we will be forever joined with the Lord. So encourage one another with these truths.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I am certain of heaven. I believe in the rapture because I believe the pain and redemption of Job, of Paul, of the woman caught in adultery, the short man who stole from others, the flooding of the earth and the obedience of Noah, and the gracious decision of God to make heaven possible by giving His Son as a sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.

So, I believe in the rapture. Believe in Jesus. I am anticipating heaven.

I’m aware of the angels today, Angela and Bette. I see them celebrating my choice to see hope and no longer despair.

Wanna talk about heaven with me?

It would be great joy. I want to know you’ll be there too.

My Father’s World

bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, Faith, fear, happy, heaven, hope, love, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Salvation, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, the sun was bright in South Carolina, the Labrador was content but it seemed wrong not to walk him.

I’d gone to church, kinda worried but masked and attended, immersed myself in the rich voices of the singers and I joined in the emotional prayer offered by our pastor.

I opened my palm to heaven in agreement. It felt weak and timid, still, I felt myself hoping …

God please help us all.

I heard the ache in the pastor’s tone. I wondered if he might cry.

A prayer about pandemic and the fears about our country.

Every one is fighting hard battles and there seems no bunker in which to hunker down til the war is done.

My walk that was supposed to be a jog in this time of resolution decided to be take it easy, take the dog.

On the trail I spotted the ebony berries. I remembered the sermon I heard and the one my cousin suggested.

I thought if those berries weren’t on the branches they’d be dried up, bitter and wrinkled.

I thought of the two Sunday sermons.

One about remaining and the other, flourishing.

One talking about connectedness and abiding and the other talking about planting ourselves in the place most likely to keep us growing, make us strong.

And I’m thinking now, I’m staying close, even growing closer and as odd as it may seem if it came from my very own lips.

God is still good and he’s about to become good for so many more.

And my thoughts on that?

Welcome friends.

Welcome to a life led by your Heavenly Father.

Welcome to a life that makes no human sense, welcome to God in you, a quiet sense when nothing makes sense, a whisper in the breeze, a pausing to notice simple berries against green leaves and be reminded.

God is near. I am loved.

Continue and believe.

Planted seeds are about to burst forth. The season to come is one of sweet and miraculous growth.

If you’re curious and need more of these Sunday words I heard:

Search YouTube for TrueNorth Church and Seacoast Church. You can hear both sermons.

God is still good. Be assured.

Growing Hope

confidence, contentment, courage, depression, doubt, Faith, fear, grace, hope, love, Peace, Redemption, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

Here we are on day 8 of the year with the number that sounded hopeful, a cadence in the sound of its number as opposed to 2020. 2020, the one step forward and one back sort of feel, stuck on the side of the road or bogged down in a farmer’s field.

A year I’d hoped to feel more confidence than persistent dread.

So, it’s gonna be slow growing, the moving into what 2021 has to offer and what I’m gonna need to acknowledge, adjustments to be made with me, within mostly.

No more of this snap of the fingers, all is well and good. No, it’s a practice, an intentional setting my intentions on growing with and at God’s pace.

Changing that leads to blooming and replanting to bloom year after year. Growth that’s not a result of impatience or self-condemnation.

And it’s in the darkness that the growth begins. Dark heavy thoughts that ask why not yet and long to shake off doubtful patterns and to be one and done with habitual self-sabotage to avoid disappointing results.

With God, I’m beginning to know myself well, the things I’m up against, the behaviors that are not for me, are against me.

And Jesus agrees with me so gently.

“Thy faith and thy love and thy hope will grow, the more thou seest the work of God with thee; thou wilt joy in sorrow, and thy sorrow will be turned to joy.” Edward B. Pusey, Joy and Strength Devotional

What feels like trudging forward with no evidence of better, quite possibly worse, causes a heaviness in me this morning.

I turn to another devotional, a popular one, “Jesus Calling” and I’m lighter from reading just one sentence.

“The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you.” Jesus Calling

I know this to be true.

I’m never corrected so harshly by my Savior as I am by myself.

I write the sentence in my journal and my thoughts go to the woman who should’ve been pelted with rocks with Jesus as the witness to her deserved punishment.

I know the passage very well. I imagine her waiting to be punished and gawked over by a large group of better than her in their minds gawkers.

Jesus surprised her, surprised the ones holding the rocks. They all walked away after being told to consider your very own wrongs. The crowd dispersed hearing Jesus tell her to go and be free.

Be free.

“Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?” Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

The bulbs on my daughter’s table are covered in bright green moss. They were the same for days, left beside the kitchen window.

The expected brilliant bloom for Christmas festivities didn’t happen, maybe I’d planted them in too shallow soil, maybe over or under watered.

Then, she moved them to a more open space, she cushioned the soil with soft pillows of moss that she and her daughter collected. The moist earth caused the stems to reach up.

Two bulbs now have little baby bumps, flowers soon to burst forth.

I’m believing. Tiny white flowers will flourish. I expect to see them on Monday and I’ll tell my grandchild, look what you and mama and God did! You waited and you helped the little flowers to grow.

Never having planted the winter flowers, “forcing” their indoors blooming, my daughter and I are learning. Once they’ve bloomed, you dig the bulbs up from the dirt and you put them in brown bags.

You save them to bloom again. You anticipate the hope of beautiful future (next year) growth.

Today, when I don’t know about tomorrow and especially not next year, I’ll think of the most quiet thing I know now, these flowers called paperwhites that decided to wait to bloom in January rather than a “forced” December.

The storms of my thoughts are stilled when I remember my strength comes from unseen joy, beckoning me back to a place that is rest, is a haven for sure peace.

“God stilled the storm, calmed the waves, and he hushed the hurricane winds to only a whisper. We were so relieved, so glad as he guided us safely to harbor in a quiet haven.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:29-30‬ ‭TPT‬‬

God’s love is constant. His rescue is sure. His cultivation of us for His glory is patient and gentle.

Settle in. Settle down.

This is grace.

Hidden Away

Abuse Survivor, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, grace, Holy Spirit, hope, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

Last night the dreams did that filtering thing, bringing all the half processed thoughts to the surface so that morning’s arrival could have a blank slate.

Angry encounters, loneliness amongst others, worry, an almost real sense of illness and a vivid place of being taken advantage of.

I understand the purpose of dreams when they are this threatening, this vulnerability revealing.

What was heavy becomes evidence now of false narrative and a waking up to return to truth.

“I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Last weekend my husband and I stole away for a couple of days in a time it seems we’re supposed to be hunkering down, getting ready to fight, a time of yet more uncertain events.

We were among the leaves, the curving hills and valleys, the powerful rush of water, the sound of leaves tousling under our feet and dancing downward.

In the afternoon I sat and rocked alone on the old porch shielded by camellias. The inn was uncrowded because of pandemic.

I simply sat. Several minutes into the comfort of nothingness, I turned to see an oddity.

In the corner of the porch, the shape of a dark bird sat. I turned away and then looked again, still there.

I puzzled over the shape. Had somebody left a carved bird there for sweet decoration, was it one of those country birds people put on a shelf, the legs dangling?

I waited, no hurry to decide what it was.

I began to be sure that it was there just for me. My soul was stilled. The world around me a mess and yet, I am sitting quietly with a simply beautiful view and I’m rocking gently in an old wooden chair.

All was good, was well.

Sunset approached and I quietly decided to see more closely the figure in the corner.

I stepped gingerly and I saw it, a sparrow who allowed my visit and then fluttered away.

I went to tell my husband and to dress for dinner. As we stepped towards the porch I shushed him, maybe we will see it.

And we did. Back in its safe place, we both saw the bird.

“It’s roosting.” my husband said.

Oh.

The bird wasn’t there when we returned after dinner nor on Sunday when we departed.

Only Saturday as I sat resting from hiking and in between a good long call with my son and a FaceTime with my daughter and hers.

I knew it was God.

I know it was His nearness in a visit with a roosting bird.

Now I know roosting is different than nesting as far as the pattern of a bird. Roosting is sitting still, finding a place to rest and returning there for comfort, for safety.

Maybe we roost when we allow our souls to rest in God’s tender but massive hand. Maybe we confidently return to our little place.

“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.”

I pray you know God’s nearness today, that the noise of all other is quieted by a view, a song, a sound and that if sleep awakens buried fears, you wake with assurance of being never alone and you rest in the safe place of that knowledge.

God is for you.

Grace and Intention

Abuse Survivor, bravery, courage, Faith, fear, grace, mercy, obedience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

She told me a heartbreaking story and how she came to accept it.

She said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

I woke today and met rejection. An email quickly skimmed and moved on to the folder marked trash.

I’d told myself submit and if it is for you, it will be.

I wasn’t at all destroyed over it. The not being chosen for my writing was sort of an answer to some recent questions of God.

One in particular, do I just blog and let that be enough?

I don’t know yet.

But, I’m open either way.

Not on the edge about it. I know that God’s intentions for me are always good. I find it brave to believe this.

Wish I’d believed it sooner.

Wish I’d seen the verse with the words “returning and rest” the way my friend explained it.

“Daughter, come back.” is what she told me the prophet Isaiah wrote, as instructed by God.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My friend is biblically wise and I’d always felt the words about running away felt like chastisement.

She read farther back and told me God is just reminding me rest means closeness and confidence and strength are from staying near.

We talked a little more and we began to share worries over our world, the evil motivations of people and the bravery required to stand strong and speak up about God.

She became quiet. She shared of a high school classmate she’d heard through others had suffered a stroke.

She told me they weren’t close friends, hadn’t run in the same circles way back then.

Using the connection of another former classmate, she contacted the ailing friend and asked to drop off food, say hello.

The stroke victim said no at first and eventually allowed my friend in.

And I’m not sure how many visits there were, if meals were shared or if conversation became natural.

My friend shared that the woman she’d been visiting did not believe in God. She had her reasons.

My friend asked God to keep her alive until she could change her mind about Jesus.

My friend ached for that assurance. She is aching still.

The former classmate died too soon.

Tremendous pain prompted her to get any pill she could get off the street and my friend heard that the stroke victim who said there was no God, died while sending someone a text.

My friend heard later, the pill was tainted, a deadly ingredient added.

I sat and sensed the ache of question. I saw regret in the posture of my friend.

Months passed since the passing until one day in the shower, she longed to know why she’d not been able to help the former classmate believe in Jesus.

She looked over at me and said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

And the truth of God’s intention for my friend’s friend and for me caused tears to begin slowly.

Peace permeated the space between us.

“So, you have peace about her?” I asked and she nodded.

Then, I smiled and I cried and I told her something I don’t think she knew would be for me.

What that means is that those horrible things that happened to me were not what God intended, the evil just won the battle.

And maybe, just maybe the stuff I longed for that had not happened was not God’s intention for me.

Come back, daughter. Yes, I now see.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What makes no sense to you if you believe in a God that is good?

My friend found peace when God told her, I was on your team, I was fighting alongside you.

You having more time with her was my intention.

Evil broke in. Broke in too soon.

On earth there is evil.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Heaven, though, is God’s purpose.

Our hope and future.

Come back. Stay near. My grace to you is intentional.

Be brave.

Continue

and believe.

What God intends is good.

The Pace of Peace

Abuse Survivor, bravery, contentment, courage, curiousity, doubt, eating disorder, Faith, fear, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Vulnerability, wisdom

I’ve taken some advice I used with others making their way towards change, women working to steady their lives after losing their footing.

I remember suggesting,

“Look in the mirror, you’ll know how you’re doing. You’ll see if you’re changing.”

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I see the signs of aging, the crinkly look of already used tissue paper is the texture of the skin on my neck.

My nose is wide, not graceful or balanced below my eyes.

My lashes are short and somehow my actual eyes appear tiny.

This was the observation early morning after sleep not coming and my frustration over it.

I’m one who needs my sleep and very well knows it. I woke up to the problem when I got up close and peered into the bathroom mirror.

I remember just days ago an acquaintance and I talking about not recognizing each other after a few years because of the mandatory mask.

The old friend disagreed, told me he’d recognize my eyes anywhere, that they are very intense.

I wonder how it can be when age and life it seems are dulling their blueness so rapidly.

No amount of wrinkle cream or remedy seem to make a difference.

The difference is deeper, it’s the soul of me I am learning.

Two days after fixating on the size of my nose I visited the early morning mirror and now, it’s daily. I compare me to that sad selfie I won’t be sharing, thank you, as a tool to assess what I believe.

Beauty is born in the soul. Clarity and hope will not shine through if the source of them both is sought outside the place that inhabits God in us.

To be honest, it’s the approaching sixtieth that has me accepting my appearance and racing to catch up with time wasted not caring about my health or caring too much obsessively towards harm.

So, Monday has me focused on what I know now and what I’m doing that is good.

Because I can’t circle back on life’s walk and erase unhealthy choices. I can’t run ahead and anticipate or offset dreadful aging.

I can live today.

Begin again every morning knowing God keeps no records of wrongs only watches and nudges us toward learning.

I can look in the mirror and marvel over its honest reflection. I can be happy over my current condition trusting my eyes will tell me what is different as well as what choices I make that need to be different.

God is with me.

All the way. Good things are coming with brave choices and gentle faith in myself as I wait.

As He waits for me not to undo my past or catch up, just to join alongside Him.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Want to know the condition of your soul?

Look into your morning mirror first thing and then continue.

Continue and believe.

It is well.

It is well with my soul.

The Audacity of Believing

Abuse Survivor, Art, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, depression, Faith, fear, hope, memoir, mixed media painting, painting, Peace, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Trust, Unity, Vulnerability, waiting, writing

After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.

It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.

All afternoon, I painted.

I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.

When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.

I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.

I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.

The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.

I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.

I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.

And I revisited my career long reminder.

Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.

Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.

I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.

I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.

Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.

Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.

This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.

He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.

He asked for help.

Jesus listened.

“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.

I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.

I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.

May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.