April’s newsletter is the first in a series of seven stories of how nothing is wasted with God, stories of women redeemed.
It begins like this…
When you didn’t or don’t now see evidence of Him, He sees you. When you knew very little of Him or forgot all you knew, He knew and knows you. When your hardships enslave you, cause fear and dismay, God cares for you. When harm came your way and it seems nothing or no one intervened to prevent it, God kept you, protected you.
It was a good weekend. A Saturday stroll with the dog home with my son for the weekend, my daughter doing well, her mood and her cheeks have a beautiful “baby glow”.
Monday came and by the end of the day in a matter of about 45 minutes, the mood in my heart’s room, in my thoughts, deep in my soul turned.
I tried to make sense of my jittery breathing, the aching sense of deep hole in my soul.
It was a piling up of things, a compilation of wonderful and woeful things.
I saw a woman at “TJ” who looked like my mama. I found a photo of me with my newborn daughter. I began to wonder if I could ever be as good a grandmother as she was to my daughter, my son. I asked my son for a second hug before he returned to his adult abode and world.
I held on to the dog and then watched as he walked towards the door, as if saying, “this is not my home”.
My paintings unsold, all laid out earlier on the floor.
There was a conversation about my age.
All over the place things left me no space.
Stole the joy of my day. Took my breath away.
That’s it. Now I understand.
I had no vacant space to catch my breath, no time to let it settle.
Simple, just too much on my plate!
And then kindness occurred.
A friend understood, she has felt the same and then more kind words of three or four others.
I expect to rest well this evening.
My soul, my thoughts and my body.
Will take time for balanced breath.
A honey-like pouring rhythm of soft exhales.
“Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
In a matter of twenty minutes, these are my thoughts upon waking:
Set your intention.
Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender.
Resilience can be developed, the effects of trauma can be undone. It is like exercise, my choice.
First, I roused from a heavy like cinder block sleep that finally came about 3:00.
Mind you, I had been sleeping, just not resting.
Years ago, I had no sleep apnea but my mind was found to be a racer, a wrestler all night, the report told. But, I woke and from I don’t know where, thought “set your intentions.” thinking of my friend the gentle, Dana and how I rarely make it to her class. Still, this might be a worthy goal for me, every day.
Set your intention.
Then, a song you won’t hear on the radio and rarely on your favorite subscription, the lilting tone in the voice of a man I decide is surely kind, sings of tomorrow’s freedom being today’s surrender.
Lord as we turn to You
Come free us from our sin
We only have today
So let us now begin
From dawn to dusk
We are waking up. Dawn to Dusk, All Sons and Daughters
Thirdly, I’m scrolling twitter and land on an article on resilience. I decide, this may be good and so as I’m waiting for the coffee press to do its little trick, I read.
Wouldn’t you know it?
It’s about focus and choices in our mindsets, our turning negative to good by deciding to look for the “silver lining”.
The article describes Bradley Cooper’s character remembering a song that sparked his outburst, his sadness and his potentially defeatist again mindset. Jennifer Lawrence tells him it is just a song. (By the way, did you see the greatest moment in my opinion of the Oscars, only second to Regina King’s acceptance? Bradley Cooper exited the stage with Lady Gaga on his arm and lifted his hand to his forehead as if wiping the sweat from his brow in a whew of relief.”
Saying, at least to me,
I did the thing I thought I couldn’t do.
The choice to not be led down a path of negativity towards depression and dismay signifies not allowing your past to dictate your future.
It is not easy, patterns are embedded. It’s safer to be the you that you and everyone else has always known.
To set your intention on that little tiny pinpoint light calling you forward, not the murkiness of the darkest traumas of before.
To measure your life in a dawn to dusk way, to wake up and surrender every morning, believing over time tomorrow will only know freedom, no longer waking to unravel your nighttime tragic dramas.
To look for the silver lining, tell about the silver linings you never imagined would be. The biggie for me, stop saying oh my goodness I never thought it could be, still letting the past have its undeserving part in my story.
Instead, celebrate with intention and boldness the good, all of the good!
Try not to include the bad in as many of your stories!
Be amazed at the lining up your morning, take it with you all day.
A waking thought giving you a new way to think about healing.
A song about freedom.
An article about the power of the mind and the way we drive our days, our lives, simply by choosing the optimistic road.
The steadfast love of God endures all the day. Psalm 52:1
I’ll rummage through the clearance aisles and I’ll look for the most neglected, damaged or left behind things in the store.
I rarely go for the item that’s marked way down as far as it can go but still not worth anything for me, nothing that I would consider complementary to my home.
I picked up this little cracked bowl, held it up and noticed the red tag, $1.79 and I began to decide if I should take it home.
I thought how I’d not be bothered by the chip on the rim, how the design was really like no colors in my room at all.
Then I remembered the insect pen and ink drawing by my son from long ago and the birds on my table, one of them a black crow.
So, I bought the little bowl and it cups the brown magnolia pods perfectly well. It’s a little thing added to the place I gaze to measure the morning’s sun, a small thing, a beautiful change.
Last night before group work out, I walked/ran. It was dark and I was alone on the track. Women playing tennis on the lighted court, people alone with their dogs walking in balance and pace. Runners ran past me in their running attire, graciously passing me thinking I’d stay in my place.
I turned up the volume and told myself, you can run too.
So, I did and then I went inside to join my work out group.
I was doing everything I could to run out my mood, to outrun its pursuit, to work the kinks of dread and worry out in an intentional sweat.
To have my hope come back, my rest, my request to not fall back into my patterns of dread.
And I was intentional like Job in my prayers and I talked to God in my car after a good and solid and rigorous workout.
Take from me these disenchanted ways. These ways of being sidelined by bad dreams that I decide will surely come true in some way.
Then I waited because I heard His Spirit say,
this will not be an immediate change, immediacy in my reply will not build the trust that should be.
Yes, this I know.
You know what happened next if you know my God.
Small shifts began to change me, good food, hot shower, soft blanket, early sleep.
Brought pleasant dreams about little babies and being someplace laughing.
We all were having cake.
My dreams are just as real and as vivid as my nightmares. Jesus, help me to know fully this truth from you.
And if the bad ones come back to visit sparked by some passing thought or something I read, I know they will not take over.
You, my Heavenly Father, will not allow it, did not plan this for me.
But if they come back to stir up memories, may the fire of the trauma be for good use not bad.
May its memory spread wide and complete like the farmer burning his entire field for a new crop.
Destroying all the old, in preparation for the very same place to grow something new.
The former crop has done what it was supposed to do, God and the farmer know it is time to yield the same harvest or maybe something totally new.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
I’m smiling now as I write this. Will my prayers bring something like useful soybeans or will my words and art look more like giant stalks of hearty corn?
Or will the works of my hands and my mind exhibit a stillness and calm, like soft amber colored wheat stalks, late summer swaying in pleasant wind?
Or will it be all of these, beneficial, nourishing as well as calming?
It is possible.
Continue and believe.
Mary Geisen wrote a similar story, one about continuing on our roads. I feel it’s a feeling so many of us have. May we all be better and more faithful because we share the brave telling of our stories.
The only way I can pass on the joy that lies at the eye of the hurricane is through the words whereby I can show that I do not deign to give the devil his sought-for prize of curses on blashpheming lips; blaming God for cancer’s enterprise as it wounds upon my body rips. But I have found a better path, writing through this vale of pain to climb out of fog-shrouded wrath and bring me out to light again. Words are lamps that help me toward the immanence of a Loving Lord. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser
Yesterday, I told someone something in a way that only slightly conveyed the real thing I tried to say.
I told her that I believed it is impossible to imagine what my life might be if I began to believe only in possibility.
We paused and our quiet faces wondered, how on earth do we do this, how do we not stray or get swayed by criticism, cynicism or just the crazy negative noise of our hectic days?
I looked into my precious cousin’s face and I answered that I’d walk with imaginary blinders on both sides of my face.
I’d need to stare intently at the tiniest of light, like the dot of a pin off in the distance, move forward with intention towards hope, off quite a ways.
Avoid the garish glare and naysay of others and other things on my way.
She listened and I gazed past her and through the little tables lining the restaurant. I looked out onto the busy bustling downtown lunchtime street. People passing by, others stopping to speak, I thought of me a year from today, will I be changed by possibility, a soft contrast of me today?
Would my face be lit by possibility, will I carry my hopes in a more confident frame?
Some things I think, must be pursued in a solitary way.
I told her I was certain my life would be different if I became unafraid of possibility and if I just continued towards the tiny light growing brighter as I near.
I would be different if I believed in possibility, if possibility was seen as an option for me.
I think we rarely really live this way.
Pursuing possibility in a peaceful way, a waiting way.
A know as I go quite certain with God kind of way to what God has to show me.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Whether it be work or money or art or writing or relationships, I am saying to me:
Do nothing out of desperation.
We continued talking about our longing to be hopeful after life has given us so many reasons to be afraid, to be so silly and naive to think we should be hopeful only to have past experiences slap us back to reality as if to say, “Hope’s not for you, surely, you should’ve known.”
The plot can shift though, we decided, the story line is our story line and we can change the paragraphs and flow.
We can surprise ourselves, readers of our own books by creating a different ending, we can believe in the hopeful development of our life stories.
Believing can come natural, just as naturally as we regularly disbelieve.
If we don’t allow fear to destroy our stories.
How different I would be, we all would be, if we took leaps of faith, if we walked on whatever represents deep waters towards the light that is meant to illuminate our days.
To bring clarity to God’s ways.
God, help me to be an example of someone who has faith.
I’ve made some decisions and haven’t turned back, took some chances and opportunities recently, things that are teaching me that not everything comes by chance.
Fortune shines on others more than me and
Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be…these were the truths I believed.
Being a believer of a God who is sovereign, who is in control, led to my conclusion that only just enough good could be for me and that as a believer in sovereignty I must surely stay in my place, must not seek more than a little, must stay anchored by doubt and by fear of failure, not trying at all because of the unlikelihood of success.
I intentionally handicap myself.
I’m beginning to learn from my children, adults who have most likely seen this in me all along but never called me on it, accepted my ways for this long.
I wonder how it feels for a child to see a parent finally coming into their own?
Close to 60 years old and becoming strong?
I wonder if they realize in their own way, they helped me here.
To this season of wanting my legacy to be more than the timid and tentative mama, they may have always known. The one whose thoughts were always deep and bent towards worry.
Here now because I want their faith in God and His goodness to be strong.
Several months ago, I lost control.
Headed towards an important event, we were “T-boned” by a crossing car and my car jumped it seemed into the deep ditch and the front end was crushed by a timely positioned pine.
The Labrador, my husband and me. He jumped from the passenger side and I screamed loud and long. It was a very odd and out of control sounding cry. It was fear.
My daughter answered her phone.
“Mama, are you okay? You are okay. You are okay. Now, stop crying, just breathe and calm down.
She called her brother. He called me.
Same reaction, the same level tone in a child of mine’s adult voice. It was the same assurance, same calm.
Control what you can control. my son
Months have passed and changes have been made, changes are on the brink of being announced, career, home, and faith.
Changes are taking place.
Last night, I gave up on watching “Ozark”. Intrigued by the young actor with the authentic twang, I told myself to try it again, watch something that at least causes thought.
Fifteen minutes later, I switch to a Julia Roberts movie simply because she’s beautiful and required less attention.
Told my husband I couldn’t watch, don’t want to go to bed with those thoughts.
Still, I was startled awake before light and had to shake off a horrific dream. I knew it was partly me to blame. I watched the gory scene, heard the horrific words, saw the actor’s fear and grief and evil exchanged.
I went over my average daily screen time. I ate extra spicy food and then had red wine and then topped it off with chocolate milk, Advil and crunchy peanut butter on a spoon.
I recalled the nightmare to forget and move forward. Remembering times before. I had the damaged perception to believe that bad dreams were God sent messages to me.
Messages like you’re still that wild and mistake making girl, you’re still the too attractive and easy for your own good young woman, you’re still the poor girl in the ill-fitting tops, you’re still the fat middle schooler in your brother’s husky jeans.
You’re still the woman in the pew unwelcome by the women who are already there.
I don’t think nightmares are for anyone’s good. If there’s nothing else I can control today, I will control this new truth, this new optimistic conclusion.
And I will carry it into my day, I am no longer living the trauma victim way.
“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 NLT
Hagar was a slave girl who followed along with circumstances that caused her to carry a label we today would most likely call “whore”.
I can barely type the word. You see, I’ve been called that before.
In the nightmare last night, I revisited that woman of before; but, she ran, ran, ran ironically away from a church and through the streets to find herself alone in prayer, her face to the floor.
She found God there.
She rose and she walked freely, more freely than before.
What mindsets have held you captive?
You are never in God’s eyes the person you were before.
If you have experiences that lead to nightmares, don’t succumb to the belief that these bad dreams are your restitution for your bad before.
Use the sense that God gave you. Combine it with good and trustworthy therapy and then add in what you know. Know what God knows and can control and then assert yourself to control
What you can control.
Your “resurrection power”, your “freedom living on the inside”.
You called me from the grave by name You called me out of all my shame I see the old has passed away The new has come! Chris Tomlin
Be found in your wilderness, come forward to be seen and to be fully known.