God Only Knows

The bystanders recognized the beggar up walking around. All of a sudden he could see and they began to dispute the truth of Jesus, they began to argue over the day of the week and were certain the beggar was mistaken in some way.

I’m wondering how he became a discarded one at all. Scriptures say he had parents. Had they given up on being his support system? He was an adult after all, he’d have to fend for himself.

Or was he so downtrodden by his lifelong blindness, he just grew tired of being their burden? He could beg others for money instead of his parents.

I love the Gospels, the Books of encounters with Jesus. There are many people who stir empathy in me. There are relatable stories to my healing by Jesus.

Jesus came along and he noticed the man blind from birth. The disciples, always looking to learn from Jesus, asked what had caused the blindness, were his parents neglectful, had they been bad people before they became parents, or was the little boy born with some sort of predicted worthlessness that led to him being born blind?

They wanted to know who or what was to blame.

Jesus told them it was God’s plan. The blind man would be an instrument for God’s glory to be real, for the mysterious to be memorable.

“Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭9:3‬ ‭ESV

Jesus made a paste of mud and his own spit, pressed it against the blind beggar’s eyes and then said go down to the water and wash it all off. The man did and he could see.

Everyone asked how, the man said I did what Jesus said and that’s really all I know.

His vision restored, the interrogations continued. The parents were questioned, they confirmed their son’s blindness as well as his current condition. Told all the skeptics to ask him, not us, he will tell you! According to scripture, the parents were keeping their distance because they were Jews and they would be disallowed from the synagogue if they acknowledged Jesus, if they acknowledged their own child’s healing.

These were the times I suppose even a parent of a son who was healed was careful about boldly agreeing and believing in Jesus.

Seems it was safer to be a skeptic, to know there are people who believe in Jesus because of their own healing; but, they were not ready to believe for themselves.

Maybe it seemed too impossible, too unattainable, too supernaturally “magical”.

Same as today really.

The man who could see could only speak for himself, hope with all his heart that his testimony mattered.

“So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
‭‭John‬ ‭9:24-26 ESV‬‬

Centuries later, I sit in my mama’s covered chair with my Bible, the margin on the page has a pen and pencil resemblance of me, my face turned towards the words and a slight listening tilt.

I understand the blind man. I can relate to his dismay over Jesus initially. I can sit with my Bible and know beyond doubt that I too have been healed when many for valid reasons discarded me, left me to fend for myself.

And like the blind man who couldn’t explain mud and spit restoring his vision, I often wonder how me simply believing in a cross, the likeness of which I now add to my wrist could have altered my life so very significantly.

It is not my place to understand it all, to know every how or why God found me worthy of healing. It is mine to believe. To be able to rest in this:

But, you do know, God, You do.

We’re all in a state of not knowing now. On Sunday, I knelt in the place by my mama’s chair. I was distracted, I admit. Still, I joined in the prayer of Pastor Steve Davis with many others. I prayed and am praying in agreement with him that this time will bring people who don’t really understand God, maybe just hope in the possibility of Him being real closer to believing. The prayer closed with that very request of our Heavenly Father, that during this pandemic stirring panic, countless people will come to know God, will believe in Jesus as their healer.

I pray this as well. I know healing that saved not just my soul but my very life from risky, dangerous, threatening to kill me situations.

Like the blind man, I believe in Jesus.

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.”
‭‭John‬ ‭9:35-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe, moment by moment if necessary.

Acknowledge/Admit you were born a sinner. Believe in Jesus, God’s plan for us to be with Him in heaven. Confess your sin and begin to live healed.

My prayer for my not knowing readers.

Say So

The sky opened in the distant corner.

No podcast this morning.

Music.

A lyric.

You are not a taker, You are only ever
Giving and drawing, seeking and calling. “Over us”

It only took words unsolicited for my fear over words to make sense.

I did not use my words as a little timid girl.

As a middle child buffering the childhood fights. Staying quiet, not adding to the noise. Only one person has ever given a word to my existence back then. She remembers me as “bewildered”. What relief that was when she told me, to find out after so long, someone had noticed.

As the teen who discovered her body and then lost it with food.

As a young woman who just didn’t tell because it seemed no one would listen.

And an older woman who continued not to tell and then found permission but got all kinds of bogged down in not telling because that’s what she knew.

Yesterday I read something I should quote but won’t because it’s so rich I fear I’d dishonor the writer, water down her revelations

Lessen the gift of it being shared by a blogger who calls my writing “gentle”.

Because the article led to a realization, this is why you don’t step out in the faith you now have.

You still do not think there will be listeners.

It takes a bit, has taken a bit.

You begin to believe differently.

You believe you have listeners and you may have actually had them back then, you just weren’t certain so you chose the safer solution, don’t tell, don’t need, stay quiet.

But your stories remain.

As do your listeners.

Continue. Continue and believe.

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

Oddities, Faith and Birds

A few days in a row I fixated on the idea of a bluebird landing in my palm. I imagined being able to get close enough before it flew away.

I set out with the plan that if I asked God to let that bird make a nest in my palm, I’d believe even more strongly in a God I can’t see.

I would see faith in a whole new way.

The fencepost is marked by a blue ribbon! Trickery to my vision even today.

If I clutched that resting bird, I’d go back home or sit on the front steps and I’d make a call. “Cousin!” I’d say with a loud happy voice, to my cousin who believes bluebirds mean hope.

“Cousin, you’ll never believe it! I have just held a little bluebird in my hand!” And she’d reply in her southern strong voice with either,

“What???? …Get outta here, no way!!!”

I love the way she always gets excited over my revelations.

Or, she’d say “Oh, Lisa, I can’t believe it, isn’t God so good?”

She might find my behavior odd, that I long to see a bluebird sit still in my hand.

That this crazy idea born of seeing a bird near the fence for me is a metaphor for faith, for sustaining it.

For me to be honest with me. Holding a bird in my hand would just lead to me longing for more. I’d love the way God answered my crazy request; but, what next?

Would I ask God to bring a cardinal indoors to live next to my bed? Would I have no fear of flying and ask to soar on an eagle’s wing?

Outlandish thoughts! Really elaborate tales I write in my intricately woven head.

God made me this way.

Last month I was more focused on the birds than ever. Crows all over the country field and a gathering of blue birds in the yard. Several cardinals seem to time it just right and I am turning my face towards the sky and they unravel themselves from the branches and hover over my walk on the trail. Bright red, soft and luminous blue, even the omenous charcoal black buzzard sitting atop the falling down house.

I noticed them. I thought about how God made them all. Thought about God telling us we mean more to Him than birds, than sparrows.

We are more intricately made. A blessing and a worrisome thing is a mind, a complex and compromised by life on earth brain.

Maybe that’s why I love the birds, love the idea of flying from place to place with my little flock. Being able to simply know my nest will be strong and safe if even for just a season.

Knowing there’s a pattern to life, there is a path for safe transition to Heaven.

Birds stay in that pattern undaunted by earth.

The coldest and most wet winter and I still hear the new bird in the tall pine singing its newly acquired noisy song. It sounds like anguish to me. Who am I to say? It’s most likely excitement.

It is a birdsong of faith.

As I type, the sound of a bouncing off the tall window has occurred. I don’t look up soon enough to see it, to know its color, brown, blue or rich red.

I know it may have been off course or maybe, just maybe it felt my longing and it thought it could come inside. Most likely not land in my hand, only let me truly see up close.

That’s faith that accepts our complexities. It’s faith in the God who made me who makes me unconcerned over writing this post, a crazy essay type story about how a bird not in my hand is leading me to deeper faith.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My thoughts are known and they are unique, one of a kind wonderings and at times quite woeful.

I am thankful I am loved completely by a God who knows me so well, who knows me because He knew me.

Who’s watching over and is satisfied by my longings over bluebirds.

Who is satisfied that I am coming into me as a work of His hand. A God who sees me testing Him to give me a bird as a measure of faith and is understanding of my ways and compels me deeper, deeper into His view of me.

God is okay with my oddities.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

None of us are the same.

We don’t see one another’s inward parts. For me to write about birds is a risk; a risk I pray gets others thinking. We can never understand the mind of another. We can only accept that as truth. We all have hidden vulnerabilities. Some of us overcome them. Others show and then regret showing because they’re met by the very different thoughts of another. Some brains have fought back with resilience.

Others still have little corners and crevices that have stored up fear. Some hearts don’t appear to be broken but are quite broken. They are not beyond repair. No, not at all beyond resilience sustained by faith. Some are not healed yet; but, they are closer to believing they will be, closer to the possibility of coming into God’s own. The place of rest.

So, from the perspective of one who ponders birds and skies, let’s all join together, separately and yet wonderfully made and believe together.

Faith makes us well, may we not need earthly evidence to believe it.

I don’t think Jesus would have told us to look at the birds if we couldn’t grow by looking. So look up today. Look for the birds, imagine if you like, being allowed to hold one gently for a minute.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Heavenly Father, thank you for making us so individually well and reminding us that we are so very fragile. It is you that makes us strong. Help us remember you through a flash of blue against a winter field. Because of mercy, in Jesus name, Amen.

Believing the Proverb

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When God gave this word to Solomon, He was thinking of Mary, of Martha. He was thinking of Peter, of Paul, of John, of the Woman caught in adultery….too many to tell. He was thinking of me, Lisa and of you, of you as well.

I believe this.

I missed the part about the meeting of their faces until I read the passage. A familiar passage, I remembered the telltale rooster crow and skimmed over the way Jesus saw it all. Jesus saw it all.

I can’t stop thinking how Peter must have felt the next morning. Did he experience a hangover of sorts? Here I am again letting doubt takeover? Maybe not because these hours were the deadly ones, the tortured crucifixion. Sorrow over self had no place then. Only the reality of sacrificial and loving death.

Peter, a man who was the brother of John, the one who was able to step from a stormy boat to walk on the top of the ocean because he trusted God, was sure of Jesus.

His denial to others of his belief is a captivating story.

Jesus told him as he prepared them all at the Last Supper and before. Jesus told Peter, you will deny me.

“Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter was adamant that he wouldn’t.

But he finds himself sitting around a fire outside a high priest’s house that held the captured Jesus. Peter has followed the throng at a distance from Jesus. Not so far that he didn’t appear to be associated with the Savior. Just far enough to avoid the reactions of the ones who’d be making the crucifixion decision.

The onlookers build a fire, like concert-goers in line for a sell out I suppose. Fireside conversation begins and three separate people spread the word, this man here, hey you, we saw you with him. As if to say, why are you sitting here when you’re known to be a friend of Jesus?

Peter told all three, “not me”.

“And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then a rooster crowed three times. Peter met the eyes of the watching Jesus. He wept. He wept at the realization of a Savior who knew him so very well.

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:61-62‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter’s story doesn’t end here. He encountered the resurrected Jesus and he continued his life proclaiming all he had learned from his experiences with Jesus.

I’m thinking about the fireside scene. How in the world did Peter succumb to peer pressure? Why was it so hard for him to believe without being afraid of consequence or opinion?

I believe it may have been just a fear in general in believing good things could actually come true.

But, this is probably just my takeaway. That we believe what we can count on based on our histories to be true, to be certain, to be what we can count on.

Our humanity causes our hearts to draw the map for our minds to follow. I don’t think Peter was unsure of Jesus. More than that, he was unsure of himself. So, he placed himself with the accusers, the deniers, the cynics and the intellects.

He felt more at home that night with the ones who chose to believe a sure thing, not life changing, miraculous or unseeable.

Jesus knew he would. Peter’s behavior was forgiven. The account of Peter tells the undeniable truth for me and you.

Jesus knows we’re prone to doubt, afraid to speak out, that we dumb ourselves down at times when it comes to our faith.

Jesus knows we’re afraid to be bold on occasion. Knows we’re quite tentative in stepping into his promise of better, of complete.

Yesterday, I heard a statement.

You will be as safe from sin as you are close to Jesus.

What I believe and whether I believe completely is fully known by God. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him. His denial leaves a compelling story for us all.

The regret of Peter over distancing himself from Jesus. The realization and tender repentance when met with the gaze of Jesus.

A repentance, loving and open because of mercy we all can know.

Again and again.

What we believe makes the difference. Believing with an uncertainly over God or believing with all our hearts.

“The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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.