Where We Walk

…and in thee too, while thou knowest it not, God shall be glorified. E.B Pusey

We ventured out differently, not sure the sun was warm enough for walking.

I carried my granddaughter in my arms and adjusted from one side to the other, her weight as we walked.

We covered the perimeter of the land that surrounds her home, all the way to the front of the home valley to the long length of shaded space beside and then turned back towards inside, the front porch welcome back home.

From a distance it was beautiful, I walked slowly avoiding large flat places where cacti lay and stepping gingerly over the little hills, the holes, the tiny valleys covered in grassy hay and straw.

We walked slowly, quietly, calm.

Elizabeth was still, interested as I talked to God and myself. She listened to my random observations of life and leaves and how blue the sky was.

We were noticing God.

On the edge of the field, the most brilliant of color caught my eye, a cluster of yellow amongst all the bare branches of what I think I’m remembering held pink plums in the summer.

Now empty except for this glory.

His glory.

Brilliant late beauty not killed by the cold.

How was your 2019?

I woke with the thought mine was monumental, the change, the choices, the transitions.

I hadn’t realized the truth of this until I numbered the reasons.

Then it all made sense, this feeling of the cusp of new, this current lull in nothingness.

I believe I’m in the season of growth with all the growth still unseen, not evident to the human of me.

I’m always afraid I misuse words so I googled “monumental” and affirmed my thoughts were true.

2019 was a monumental year for me. I thought maybe this is God’s reason to now shift to living momentarily or “momentously”.

Thinking be satisfied in the moments now, don’t aspire to great big life shifting ambitions.

Again, checking my use of word, I was met with surprise, “momentous” I had all wrong, very different than only living in the moment.

Alright.

All right, really.

mo·men·tous
/mōˈmen(t)əs,məˈmen(t)əs
adjective
  1. (of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.

Reflecting now, God is confirming boldly for me, one who loves words, things have been happening under the surface, deep in your spirit, my spirit in you that you do not yet fully know.

You’re getting closer though. God

Beginning to believe that it is so.

That you are known and

you are worthy of my love.

The years before are simply seeds that needed sifting, needed dormant seasons, needed to lay fallow for a reason,

needed to die to live again.

I believe this.

Are you in a lull that you question? Is where God has you insignificant from your view?

Asking, is this all there’s meant to be for me?

It may be so and that’s the reason for long walks and discovering seemingly insignificant things like yellow leaves.

We simply don’t know, we just keep walking to the place called “we will see”.

We will see.

I’ve added back to my circle today one prayer I thought I’d prayed way too much.

Have you felt that way? Thought after months of the same unanswered question, I’ve asked enough, I’ve told God more than He wants to know, I’m maybe even annoying Him.

I’ve prayed and He knows, I’ll move on…

I’ll let that prayer alone.

No, I’ve decided to pray it again, to ask for God’s help but with a different tone.

I’ll ask with an expectant spirit anticipating a brilliant “we shall see” surprise, an answer that says I’m cherished.

God’s reply, unknown to me when or how. I’ll be cherishing it because I am cherished as is the one for whom I’m making my steady request.

Pray believing.

If you believe in prayer at all, expect God to hear you. If you do not expect, you will not have. God will not hear you unless you believe He will hear you; but if you believe He will, He will be as good as your faith. Charles Spurgeon

Believe

Continue and believe.

Momentous days are now, the brilliance is coming!

Give Happy

Today I read the final chapter of the book of Colossians and I’m moved by what Paul wrote.

Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:18 ESV

I suppose he wanted all who had been with him as he preached from place to place.

To remember,

My life has not always been this way. There was a lot of horror in my before.

I’m almost done with “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman

I crawl into bed, thinking I’ll finish and slumber steals my attention. I decide I want to be fully awake when I read the happy ending!

Maybe I’ll finish today before the holiday dinner, I’ll sit lit by sunshine and I’ll finish the good book.

Yesterday, I returned to a familiar place. I stepped towards the counter for customer service and I struggled through my transaction.

I turned from the counter and saw an acquaintance at the end of the closing time line.

My eyes met her smile and I rolled my eyes, nodded and mouthed “grouchy!”.

The customer service lady with such a beautiful and unusual name never smiles at me.

She looks at me as if I’m inconvenient. She hurries me, demands my answers to the every customer questions.

Her appearance never changes, faded blue uniform shirt, thick old glasses and her hair in a topknot that never does its job.

Her mottled soft grey hair has fallen out of place, the topknot doesn’t hold it all together.

I decide I’d like to see her smile and then I imagine this is Eleanor, her looks are what Eleanor’s would be I allow myself to believe.

I long to see her smile even though she kind of scares me.

Her mood is so palpable, I wonder is it contagious?

Maybe.

I don’t know.

Do I come back with more packages?

Do I stop sending my art?

Is this what the customer service lady is saying, am I not an artist?

Such is the scare of trauma. The most ridiculous interactions are triggers, are mood and mind changers.

So, I mouth “grouchy” to my friend’s daughter as a warning.

Be prepared. Hold on to your happy.

I sit in the parking lot and I wonder what would happen if I asked,

Why are you so unhappy?

Today, Thanksgiving morning, I sit in silence and leave the lamp off. I gaze towards the dining room/kitchen, to the wall that’s a busy collection.

Feathers, photos and notes.

Old pictures of smiling children, still here mamas, daddies and grandparents. Times of celebration seem so close they may as well be today.

That’s how the view makes me feel.

Happy.

I think again about the topknot lady. I wonder how she’d take it if the next time I’m next in line, I asked her,

What makes you so happy?

And then look her in the eye and be strong in my grace, my love and my mercy.

And say Thanks and walk away, leaving her at least with that thought.

What makes me so happy?

Give happy.

Give thanks for it.

Later I’ll finish the Eleanor story, the one that I’m almost at the end, keep flipping to the chapter “Better Days”.

The story of giving love to someone complicated and unlovable, closed off and shelled up because of unspeakable trauma, chains.

The story of one accepting the warmth of another’s long suffering hand.

See, I love the story of Eleanor Oliphant; but, it’s Raymond in the book who makes me happy.

Remember what kept you in chains today and then remember the hands that set you free.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Give happy today.

No Notes

I’ve misplaced yet another good pen. The lead in the mechanical pencil isn’t working, keeps slipping from the cylinder.

Is that what it’s called? Cylinder?

The part, under the pressure of my thumb and an erratic clicking to yield the grey lead?

Probably hid the pen from the puppy, yet another thing inedible eaten.

My journaling ritual,

Habitual or healing?

I barely made a note on this blessed stormy morn, just repeated the word “surrender” and circled, circled, circled.

It’s day 7 of 40. When I get to 41, I’ve decided I’ll circle “surrender” again.

It’s an unending thing.

Not specific. It covers what’s needed, encircles it all.

Twice since yesterday I’ve heard things that are more than enough, simply profound, stand alone philosophy and determined mindset.

My grandma used to say “pass and re-pass” meaning get along with others and my mama always said things like “pick your battles”, “turn the page” or “don’t stress”.

It really is a wonder she found words to encourage us. She was tormented by life and at times, my father.

Then there’s my aunt, who is now my mama. “Prayer and Patience”, her answer for life, for everything.

A mother who had a daughter die. She lives by the “2 p’s”.

My father, on the other hand was a man of hardly any words.

He abhorred nasty and condescending puffed up men.

He was kind to the often downtrodden in need of a cheap six-pack on Sunday people.

He always told the truth.

He just kept trying.

Told us “tell one lie, you gonna have to tell another”.

Occurs to me now, this may be why I’m so honest with others, getting better at honesty with myself.

Back to the two things:

1. Fear always stems from and centers itself around what we love most.

2. Strength is found in weakness.

My greatest fears have always been related to the loss of something, usually someone I love greatly.

My weaknesses are ironically where my strengths are after fifty plus years, emerging.

Bursting.

Too sensitive? I don’t think so anymore. I’m owning my sensitivity, calling it observing.

If fear is a result of loving fully, give me fear in abundance because I want to love with all I got from here on.

No notes needed for either.

Know your “weakness” fully engage it and encircle your fears with like a ginormous comforting hug.

That sounds/reads ridiculous.

Oh well, it’s Saturday and I’m too comfy to find a pen for journaling.

Thus, the unraveling is here.

We do not know what life will bring us.

Even Jesus asked His Father God for other options.

Jesus was human amongst humans til his thirties.

He loved fully, knew fear. Taught fairness, non-judgment, honesty and love.

He knew his life had a purpose but hoped there’d be a less tragic demonstration.

He asked to be excused three times from the ultimate demonstration of love.

His disciples were with him in the Garden. His only request of them, stay awake, I will be pleading. I will be asking My Father if my death is His will or if there is some other way to make heaven possible for all.

They slept while he prayed and then he told them again, be vigilant, my death is coming.

It wasn’t His Father’s plan that he avoid a sacrificial death. The bitter cup would be His.

“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:42-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We don’t know what life will bring us, what we will be forced to endure, when freedom from endurance will be delivered.

We only get to choose whether to see fear as a sign of love, weakness as the soil for the strongest seed waiting for water.

Everyone has a story.

This I believe. Will continue.

No notes needed.

I’m not an expert in theology and don’t anticipate late in life education of the seminary sort.

What I know is life is a teacher. God is my life’s author.

I can believe from here.

No notes.

No pen needed.

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.

Intersecting Neighbors

Barely into the morning, I walk with the baby, the dog in the lead, the narrow road so private, I can sing out loud, I look towards the sky.

My granddaughter smiles as she looks up towards heaven.

I unravel my thoughts or I pull them back together.

It’s a narrow road, conducive to thinking and singing and talking to God.

The car yesterday evening, a bland colored Lincoln sedan was still stalled in the middle place.

The stretch people call the “suicide lane”.

Every time I think of that, I think.

I wish they didn’t name it that.

But, that’s just me.

Where did you travel today?

What did you notice?

It’s early morning, the stars still out and I’m headed towards McDonald’s on a “grandma day”.

The car I saw yesterday, in the middle lane had a big truck pulled in behind it.

This morning it’s left stranded.

I approached yesterday, slowing as I thought for a second, State Patrol driving trucks now?

Instead it was a farmer type gentleman in Wranglers and boots, crisp white shirt tucked and talking to the one broke down.

The stranded one dressed in white T and low hanging jeans, clean cut it seemed.

In my rear view mirror I saw one approach the other, extended hands meeting in a healthy shake.

My mind began to wonder.

I wondered if they knew each other, if the farmer type was scared to stop but did, if the younger man stranded wasn’t sure what to make of the older man’s kindness.

That’s what I thought.

Kindness, regardless.

So, seeing the car in the dark this morning made me think assistance had been offered

And accepted.

I turned towards the drive-thru thinking eat now, be prepared, you won’t take the time later.

Two cars ahead of me and I’m trying to decide will I be late for my school teacher daughter and cause her to be tardy?

Thoughts drifting, I don’t see a figure walking towards the restaurant.

She sees me.

I stop suddenly.

She waves me on and I notice then she’s dressed for work, nothing but blue except gold hoops sparkling.

I’m startled. I tell myself.

Notice, be careful.

Notice.

A customer crosses in front.

I’m soon at the drive-thru and I order, move to the pay window and there she is.

The woman who almost intersected my car.

I notice and I ask.

“Did I almost run into you? I’m so sorry.”

She smiles and I decide is wondering why I paid I’m still pausing.

I tell her,

“As soon as that happened, I told myself, be careful, slow down and notice. You’re my god-wink today.”

Puzzled, she was.

I tell her again. “You’re a god-wink, God telling me to notice.”

She smiles.

Later I thought of the parable about the one of three men who offered to help someone they met on the road.

A Jesus story about first and foremost loving others.

Two men avoided him, crossed over the farthest edge of the road.

One helped.

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:33‬ ‭ESV

A priest and a Levite avoided the wounded and needy man. The Samaritan, one often shunned, paused to help him.

Helped a neighbor, another human being, didn’t avoid, shy away or cower.

Maybe that’s all it takes.

This afternoon I wondered if the farmer gentleman would have responded differently if he’d been approached by the low slung jeans fellow.

And if I would have had different kinds of thoughts if I’d been the one walking towards the restaurant and maybe almost run over by a person different than my color in a hurry for work and almost not seeing me.

Just thoughts.

I pray I’d have been human and that I’d have loved like the Samaritan, crossed over lanes or lines and did my best, loved

Loved my neighbor.

Grace and Tests

The morning air is chilly. The sky is cloudless. I missed the sun coming up. The day begins.

I’m up with pup again and longing for the days I could sleep past 10.

Who remembers the way that feels, the decision to stay in bed, cool sheets and just waking only to decide to turn the pillow, pull the sheet up and languish?

Linger? Lay longer? Joining the others to realize “oh, man I needed that!” ?

I digress.

The tallest of the pines in our backyard, clustered with two others and encircled by azaleas is going to have to come down,

I look up and notice a glimmer and think the sun is resting on the top pine needles. Instead, it’s the turning of their green to rusty brown, the tree is dying.

Weeks ago I came home from my time with Elizabeth. A storm had come through, pine needles littered the ground and floated in the pool.

Long stretches of bark had been stripped from the tree, bark shaved off the length of the trunk, wide deep stripes.

For a second I thought, “squirrels?” because we’ve had an overwhelming presence of them this summer.

No, lightning it was. The tall tree had been struck, had been beaten.

Soon, it will be cut down. Soon there will be an expanse of space, a clearing of backyard view, less shade on the pool.

It will be a chance for new.

I sat on the sofa and out of nowhere or maybe because I talked with my son yesterday, he’ll soon be sitting for the CPA exam.

From what I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest.

I thought of other tests, examinations that measure our knowledge, measure our faith, call upon us to dig deep into our recall of provision and know without question.

I’m still standing. I am well.

Come what may, we will endure. We’ll excel on the test that measures our believing all things are for good despite life’s batter or beating.

I remembered college professors who allowed you to “exempt” an exam or graded “on the curve”.

I remembered neither of those were ever enough grace for me when it came to biology or trigonometry.

I’m glad God’s grace is not like that. I’m thrilled to have a story that includes survival.

When it could have gone the other way.

I have a very good life despite a history of battered and beaten.

I am well.

I am here to tell. What have you endured that gives you reason to know the grace is real?

What did you feel momentarily or maybe a period of months or years, there’s no way I’ll pass this test, there’s no way I’ll endure unchanged, unhardened, secure?

The choice is ours. The choice is yours. You frame your days around the grace that never ends, the nearness of God, the truth you’ll find in the stories of ancient victims who endured.

On Saturday, I spoke with a friend about the woman cured by Jesus of her discharge of blood lasting twelve years.

A well known passage for me, filled with possibility and hope.

The woman was ashamed and so secretively she sought healing. She just touched the bottom of his robe.

The part I missed before that my friend settled on is the purpose of her being seen by Jesus.

Jesus wouldn’t let her remain unknown.

He asked her to identify herself and when she did he saw her face to face and told her, Go in peace.

Be healed.

“When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:47-48‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Let’s not forget that Jesus interrupted his plans. He’d been called to heal a wealthy leader’s daughter and paused to give confirmation to a woman who’d been living in a very bad, incapacitated way.

I believe she was healed even if she’d hadn’t been told so by Him that day.

I believe Jesus wanted to see her, wanted her to allow herself to be fully known and seen.

Because maybe, if she’d walked away healed but still hidden, she’d be prone to fall back towards shame.

Jesus knew that.

Knows the same with us.

Is there something you’re enduring and half-heartedly hoping He knows?

Be transparent.

Kneel to pray and imagine the hem of his garment. Rise to endure knowing you’re seen.

Fully known.

The roots of the tall pine were the nesting place for babies this year. Perfectly secluded, the baby bunnies were born and they frolicked all summer.

I loved the surprise of them, loved to call them “jackrabbit” like my granddaddy did.

They brought me joy.

The tiny roses keep spontaneously blooming bright red regardless of harsh pruning.

They are survivors.

What test are you facing? What situation a challenge of your truth of God’s grace, provision and equipping of you to endure?

His love never ends.

Provision won’t run out.

Nor does the grace he gives for endurance.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now to research trees.

I’ve always wanted a mimosa, the tree with fuzzy dark green leaves like velvet and blooms so brilliantly fuchsia, you can’t help but be hopeful, cannot help but believe!

Researching the mimosa tree, I learn that gardeners consider them a nuisance, the seeds, the pests they inhabit and such.

Matters not to me because when they decide to bloom they are so very beautiful, fragile and brilliant, a color you can not deny.

Tree experts say many mimosas don’t survive.

Yet, many do.

Strong.

Continue blooming.

Continue and believe.

Testament?

My husband described it as a “testament”, my description of my day.

And I didn’t correct him. I knew he meant testimony. Hey, that’s progress for me, the not correcting of word mistake.

He wasn’t there on Sunday, he had been called to work. I shared with him once I settled in back home standing in the kitchen.

He was at a loss for words.

If I’m honest, he and others sometimes are surprised by me and so, I leave them with a task, figuring out what it is that Lisa wants them to say. (Enneagram 4 indeed, me) 😊

So, I texted him the copied post from my Instagram, expressing the joy of my “beautiful day”.

Here you go:

So, today was baptism Sunday at True North. I’d forgotten about it. I usually try to prepare myself for the emotions it stirs. I watched people publicly professing their Savior, Jesus and my gut began to stir, asking myself when, why not already? Did that this morning and then actually “took my thoughts captive”, thinking it hasn’t been the right time yet, you don’t need to know the reason. I’d told my family, I’m going to get baptized, I am…the first time I was a little girl, scared to death of God, knew who Jesus was, didn’t know Jesus!

Thank God for mercy and a country preacher, I gave my life to Jesus when my children were little. My path hasn’t always been straight; but, I’ve known him beside me. Grace has kept me and grown me beyond all expectations based on my past and the human in me.

So, today I knew I’d be baptized soon, I would and because of God’s great kindness it would be the right time. I was at peace.

The pastor surprised the church today at the end, the baptism waters welcomed me and close to twenty others. I, as you might know, love words. But, words failed me other than “beautiful day” “can’t even express it”…God’s powerful timing.

I don’t anticipate anything now other than God’s continued provision of His plans for my life. I’m no more perfect because I was baptized today, I’m still a learner. I’m still a listener. But, oh my goodness thank God I’m not who I was, not last year, last month or even…before church this morning.

Early morning, it felt like an odd prayer, I asked God to help me understand obedience. He answered in my Utmost devotion. Obedience is simply knowing we were created to live a life in pursuit of God, to choose holy every time the choice is ours. Today, I told HB when the surprising opportunity to be baptized was given “I got to do this.” I believe she said “I knew you would.” I can’t be sure. My emotions were high, the Holy Spirit was powerful, it was to be honest, overwhelming.

Thank you to those who came to greet me, who smiled from your seat, called from Charleston when you heard.

Thank you, Jesus.

#beautifulday #madenew #faithful19

A “Testament” he said,

Wow, what a testament.

I’m googling testament, curious over its meaning.

I find he may have been correct.

I was wrong.

tes·ta·ment
/ˈtestəmənt/

…something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event…

Yes, my testimony of last Sunday is indeed a testament.

A story worth retelling.

The Five Minute Friday prompt today is “testimony“, so many stories, one loving God.

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/09/05/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-testimony/

Protected Child

I watched the shifting sky, the colors filtered and spread wide.

I’m with my granddaughter on our morning walk, earlier this time.

The sky beckoning her gaze.

I capture her profile, her mama and daddy’s home in the background.

Her cheeks are full and full of joy and their blush is the same as what God has mixed in with the sky.

We walk.

I hold tight, shift her weight, careful not to have my arms press in to her tiny frame.

She welcomes my hold.

She regularly tilts her sweet face in awe of the trees, the sky.

I pray out loud, sing songs that include her name and other crazy things.

I love her. What a sweet thing.

Someone from the coast asked for my thoughts yesterday,

What do you say to your storms? DH

I answered.

I tell the storm, “I’m protected.”

This morning, I think of my children, my family and I have a moment of new and needed clarity.

If I’m protected, are not my children protected as well?

I journal my thoughts on a morning that God woke me at 4 and I decided, get up anyway.

I thought about God’s all encompassing immense and protective love.

How he loves them even more than I ever could be able.

God, you’re their protector just as you are mine.

I don’t have to “stay on top of things”.

I don’t have to anxiously remind you in my prayers to keep things under control.

Ha! Wow!

Me, reminding you of your role?!

I don’t have to watch from a distance so far that I squint to hope to see what’s going on, strain to hear, concentrate or calculate the endings of stories of their books when they are barely a chapter in.

And that you, not I, have already written.

I can set aside my book, my syllabus of reading between the lines, leaning toward tragic stories over beautiful and memorable autobiographies.

Like mine.

Yes.

I can know they are protected.

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I can love more fully than I’ve ever loved.

Point more clearly towards hope.

Be strong so that my strength is what they admire.

Yes, love.

Love is the protection, mine to freely give.

Best I can offer.

Protection is yours.

Selling Our Wares and Our Ways

I’ve mentioned before, my grandma was an artist. She created bejeweled Christmas balls and sold them.

I suppose she did this for two or three years.

She had a following.

If it were today, it might be said she had a platform, her art at Christmas was known county-wide.

I’ve not sold a painting in a month or so and today I was rejected twice via email, my bravely written and submitted words.

My words, my fingers easy on the keyboard or messy in the paint.

I saw the email, didn’t want to read it, held my phone at a distance as I scrolled as if the yes or no might cause my screen to explode or illuminate in my hand.

So many submissions, thank you.

Not selected.

Okay.

Less than 72 hours ago I was reminded of a favorite Old Testament verse, I admit I pluck out just a portion, my favorite part.

Don’t despise the day of small things.

“For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice…”

‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭ESV

Someone called me asking about a gift certificate for a painting. I said, sure, okay.

$25

I heard a podcast interview that discussed the ministries of 30 or so years ago, sitting with others, talking about hard things and Jesus or helping someone on the cusp of not believing to believe again.

That’s what we called ministry back then.

Now we look at numbers, followers, visitors, and interactions.

Last week I quietly chastened myself. It stuck. I was changed more than momentarily.

My blog is my ministry.

My Instagram is my ministry.

My art is my ministry.

I felt like crap when I admitted I’d acted as if there had to be more.

Always more.

Almost three years ago I told a friend “I don’t want to be a cutesy trendy female Christian writer.”

It seems I’d forgotten.

I had made my readers small, the regulars who read my words, unimportant.

I realized all along and without me needing to know, my words are my ministry.

My words are always honest.

Are genuine, not prettied up hoping for selection.

These weekly, daily, maybe more are truly me, true me.

Brave and oh, the trendy word.

“Authentic”.

I prayed last week for some sense of direction to keep writing, trying or give up.

Specifically, I asked God to send someone to tell me keep going or settle.

Then I got the rejection of two pieces and I acted as if I’d never asked the above question.

God’s not saying quit writing.

God is saying quit chasing notice. Stop seeking acclaim.

Why are you trying to write anything other than what you started and can’t bring yourself to finish?

Because I fear rejection.

Yet, I fear giving up even more.

I’ll keep going, slow and with free speaking, thinking, praying and believing.

I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep painting and I’ll keep taking the same steps as before knowing I’m still headed towards forward, not the me of before.

Small things of my day today?

I finished a tiny watercolor painting, my three month old granddaughter on my lap.

We walked together, Elizabeth and I and when I mentioned the birds, her sweet face turned in their direction,

I prayed with my cousin and she with me and we helped one another.

Ministry.

Yes, I used what God gave me, small things.

My ministries today.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and God will lead my thinking. I’ll type a little something and someone might comment, “needed this today” and I’ll answer

“I’m just saying what God told me first thing.”

And I’ll sit and add colors to canvas and in my comforting of myself, I’ll make art for others.

I don’t know why I continue, rejection is a certain thing.

Small things, I won’t despise them.

Won’t despise the days full of them and what they are teaching me.

Rejection and joy, all in a day.

On the Day Marked 29

“You have trusted Him in a few things, and He has not failed you.” Hannah Whitall Smith

Work is in progress behind my window.

Heavy machinery harvesting timber.

The wide field that welcomed a spontaneous “capture the flag” adventure on a memorable New Year’s Eve is becoming more empty day by day.

The place where the cousins cavorted, that’s a memory nothing will take away.

Memories, such beautiful yet onerous things.

We discussed the motivation behind the new landowner’s intentions.

My husband added “Yeah, they’re raping the land.”

He paused for a minute when I gave no reply and I saw in his eyes that he regretted the word.

The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O’ bring Thou me out of my distresses. Psalm 35:17

And that’s progress.

That knowing of me by him.

That’s progress.

This morning I opened my devotional to read and felt seen and known.

He made you and understands you, and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it. Hannah Whitall Smith

I move to put my books away and see I’ve been moved by words for the 29th of August rather than July.

There are no accidents with God, the truth meant for a month from now is what is needed today.

The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self. Hannah Whitall Smith

Smith was an author, a Quaker, a fighter for women. She was a mother to seven children with only three who survived. Something she fought for resulted in “scandal” and I am thinking it had to do with women.

She wrote about God as a God of comfort and one to be trusted.

She died in 1911. I’m glad she left her footprint through words.

For me by accident this morning.

The lot across from my home is changing. The place that kept me feeling like I was still back home in Georgia will be nothing but vacant and leveled soon.

Empty space for consideration.

A place for new. And it’s not up to me what it becomes, only how I decide see it.

Same with struggle, with grief, with open wounds waiting to be healed.

Grief must be complete before life can be full.

Oddly, I’m grieving what’s happening with the strong and lovely trees across the way.

I love someone who’s dealing with the same, an unwelcome change in the space she felt still, felt safe.

Causes me to consider and to welcome that maybe hard consideration.

What is it that you’re not allowing in?

What is it that you’ve not fully grieved.

What do you harbor that’s only been allowed God’s peeking in for a sort of intake session, pre-intervention, taking from you?

What are you avoiding revisiting because you abhor the ugliness and truth of what it includes?

What are you not inviting a closer and clearer look at and in doing so, only prolonging the splendid healing?

Allow your knees to hit the floor, tell God your secret sorrow.

Let the tears flow.

Welcome the clearing.

Welcome the hard seeing that feels so achingly self-destructive of your wounded soul.

No one likes to cry.

But, if we’re honest it leads to better.

Embrace the joy that is waiting but cannot arrive til you’ve let the sorrow begin and be done.

Not happenstance that July 29th would also include a HWS quote and a verse about God as our maker, the Father we can trust.

And a question from Isaiah about to whom we belong and who He is…

“This is what the Lord says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

One worthy of my trust.

Maker of heaven, earth, tress and me.

Continue and believe.