Heart Like That

confidence, contentment, courage, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, grandchildren, Holy Spirit, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Prayer and Patience

On Monday I happened upon this stack of rocks while out walking with my granddaughter.

I asked, “Did your mama do that?” She replied with an answer like a song, “uh-huh!”, a big smile and a tilted nod.

Then she commenced to rebuilding, working to rearrange the balance, to add a small stone to the middle and to substitute new rocks for what her mama had built. Satisfied after a few minutes, she left the rocks, similar but not her mama’s stack. She made a new one.

I thought of the joy of the simple activity, the modeling of what she’d seen and the way her perspective was a little different.

Pure.

Purest intentions, no comparison, not destroying what her mama built, only deciding…hmmm, I think I’ll try.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Earlier, I searched for this verse. God had awakened me to consider the condition of my heart, to understand why it’s so important to guard it. Why it is not always beneficial to rely on my thoughts born of an aching or angry heart.

Rather, to trust in the Lord with all of my heart, not to lean on my understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

A heart that is divided, split up into separate rooms inhabited by fear, anger, doubt, dread, jealousy, strife, bitterness, seemingly innocent suspicion or comparison.

A heart like that can’t bring clarity, doesn’t give God enough space to illuminate it, to defuse the dark.

A deceitful heart is one unchanged by Jesus. A deceitful heart is the heart of human intent, not one guided by the holiness of the invited Holy Spirit in.

The heart unchanged by the belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ is hard and prone to conspire and conclude negative things.

A deceitful heart is a heart that’s forgotten goodness.

I sat in the Target parking lot eating Chick-Fil-A and noticed the shoppers arriving or leaving.

Two spaces over, a man sat alone. I presumed waiting. I could say he was sullen; but, maybe just settled. Waiting for someone, patient or maybe just not wanting to wear his mask.

A woman with green hair passed in front of me, short like mine but a neon pine green. She was dressed in shorts and nothing matched.

Earlier, the loud boom of speakers shook my car and others as we eased to the place where we’d be given our food. The young man had taken my spot in line and I thought to make his mistake known but thought to let it go.

I heard him remark to the cashier, “A girl like you don’t like tattoos…” and I watched her young face drop with an emotion I can’t name.

Maybe embarrassment or excitement, I can’t say.

My mind is not privy to what the heart of another might believe.

I sat and watched the Target shoppers a minute more, people of different races, different beliefs, different orientations, different longings, different fears, different staunch determinations.

It occurred to me then,

who are we to believe we can change people?

The heart after all is human, human in nature, not intended by God to be so, but bent towards sin.

Today I pray, “Change my heart in the places that are growing dim. Lighten my thoughts, my fears, my speculations. Remind me of your Spirit within. Guard this vessel of mine that before a single beat, you decided would be a precious place for you. Because of your great mercy, I say, Amen.

Guard my heart so that it guides my thoughts and responses to those around me.

John 10 ends with a verse of consolation. Following much dispute over the validity or blasphemous behavior of Jesus as well as the loving words He used to explain the purpose God gave him, to be our Good Shepherd, not the hired hand who’d mislead or neglect us. Chapter ends with “the one thing” that is needed, belief.

“And many who were there believed in Jesus.”
‭‭John‬ ‭10:42‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I pray it’s the truth you know today.

Continue and believe.

Sunday Words

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, hope, love, memoir, Peace, rest, Salvation, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

The following is an essay submitted for consideration. It was not accepted. I, because I am me, decide it was too vulnerable, not uplifting enough, grammatically errant or biblically inaccurate. Or, maybe it was meant to be here, maybe rather than trash it from my desktop, someone may feel a little resonance with these not chosen words.

Continue and Believe

Sunday morning woke me with new content for my story God has been editing. The message, that His thoughts of me are far more important than my own. Recent years of angst over when things will be better again led me to define my emotion and it presented itself as dismay. I searched the dictionary for its definition, and I sat in my morning spot for a minute, both enlightened and ashamed. The meaning of dismay is “a loss of hope”. The accuracy shook me and then I sat and wrote a note to myself, recording the clarity and truth that this certainly did not define me nor describe my present life. I thanked God for the timeliness of the morning message.

I hoped this time I’d believe it past noon.

Timely, because I found my thoughts overtaking me again, revisiting trauma of childhood and of longing to understand. I told myself a lie one morning, prompted by the silliest of reasons. I needed a new printer, some socks and we needed oranges. I stood in the checkout line and gazed into the buggy. I am an artist and I needed the color printer; the other items were trivial. The line was long, forlorn faces glancing my way and I glanced again into the cart. I turned and abandoned the cart in the women’s department, and I walked away. I told myself I hadn’t asked my husband; I should do that before buying.

I left the store and pulled through and got myself the biggest cheeseburger I could and devoured it. I drove clouded by sadness and I allowed my belief to speak. I had left the shopping cart and walked away because I believed,

“You don’t deserve it.” and I let that lie the enemy planted linger for several days. I ached to erase the conclusion that began as a little girl who made certain not to bother her parents and led to a teenager who excluded herself from all possibilities and an adult woman who settled for abusive relationships because, “you don’t deserve a good man.” I found myself step into the foray of a fight to never win the battle against my past and I hated it although it felt so very true. After all the years, I figured out what held me back, the belief that I don’t deserve good.

I am letting the revelation change me now with God’s help.

Not long after the Sunday trip, one miserable evening I drove home from another shopping trip meant to comfort. The heaviness lingered like the thick grey clouds about to erupt into a storm. I paused. I asked myself,

“What does God say you deserve?”

Grace, mercy, love, freedom, peace.

Grace.

What a beautiful question, a breakthrough began! God woke me with new hope the next morning and I woke with the words to a hymn about the name of Jesus being written on my heart, the hope of earth and joy of heaven.

I made note of this day in my journal, listed the things I had been wrongly believing:

You didn’t deserve love as a child, didn’t deserve relationships that didn’t include abuse, don’t deserve now to be finally, all God designed you for. I realized the burdens I carried daily were never meant to be achingly carried alone. I deserve the help of Jesus walking in tandem with me and my woes.

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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 4-5 ESV

I sensed Jesus telling me to stop walking all alone, to believe in possibility again. However, to understand I will always strive when I try to be His idea of me on my own. I decided I deserve hope. I deserve joy.

I deserve peace.

Peace, in spite of cultural concerns, fears over our world’s future, anxiety over illness all around me and another that’s heavy, guilt over your own wellness when so many are suffering.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”Matthew 11:29 ESV

Sunday woke me with a word. I lingered in a state of rest I hadn’t experienced in weeks, the sheets soft and the weight of the covers safe, I allowed the thought to sing,

“The mind at rest is peace, the mind at peace is rest.”

I moved through the morning with coffee in hand towards my morning spot. Using my Bible app, I searched and hoped to find the words to make even stronger God’s message to me about being at peace. Was this scripture or just a thought? Either way I knew it was God continuing to connect things for me, like a seamstress following a pattern, scissors cutting away the unnecessary, God is creating a new outfit for me.

The garment he sees me wearing is one that is light and airy, allows the freedom of His love to move through me. My new garment is a pleasure to wear, unrestricted and quiet in color, a confident statement.

This is God’s design for us, a life of rest and peace.

I wonder what your waking thoughts are. I’ve begun to see them as a gift of God’s presence to set the tone of my day. Admittedly, my afternoons are often cluttered. My evening time is either a deep breath to welcome an indulgence of something that comforts or an endeavor to finish a painting or other endeavor I started. Just as I believe I do not deserve good, I often succumb to another lie, the one that tells me at sixty years old, it is too late. 

To allow quiet to come is to allow peace. To recognize the constant plot of the enemy to hijack our thoughts is simply smart.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

My Father knows I compare myself to others. He knows this has long been a stronghold of a little girl who grew up poor and afraid and became a woman who compares herself to others in an attempt to dispel the lie that says it will not happen because you don’t deserve it. I now recognize this as untrue.

New ways of thinking are ours to embrace. I hope you will consider when asking yourself what God desires for you, what it is that Your Father has decided you deserve.

Along with redemption, it is love. It is freedom, it is peace.

I treasure my morning meetings. May you find time, sense the Spirit of God in and with you and be renewed as you listen and begin to think in new ways.

May we all linger here a little longer.

May you discover the big lies you’ve told yourself are true of you and may you believe only what is true, only what God says of you.

May you and I continue to believe.

Once More

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, love, Peace, Redemption, rest, Vulnerability

I wear a T-shirt quite often, lots of times under a sweatshirt. Soft in color and fabric, across the chest are the words, “known and loved”. Wearing it feels like my little secret, the one thing I want to remember once more.

Known by God

Once my life was different than it is today. Once there were reasons to fear. Now, there are reasons to embrace not being afraid.

The woman caught in adultery found herself on display, a crowd had shown up to see her stoning. She waited. She knew the law of Moses. She anticipated the punishment.

The men invited Jesus into the discussion, into the abuse. He invited them to consider their own wrongs and sins of a sexual nature.

Telling the group, the one of you who’s never committed such acts, you can go first, I give you permission to commence the stone throwing.

Jesus waited. He wrote in the sand as the tension must have surely risen and the onlookers waited to see which among these men was perfect.

Jesus knew.

“And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The men turned and walked away, maybe the crowd dispersed. Jesus asked the woman if she realized what had just happened.

Her sin of adultery was known and yet, she escaped death by stoning.

He made sure she understood that she was known and loved, not known and condemned.

Once my life was different. Now I am known and loved.

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Walk in the way of forgiveness. Know your heart in light of mercy. Who we are now matters more than who we once were.

Linking up with others prompted by the word “once”.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Once

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.

Promises Fulfilled

Abuse Survivor, Art, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, memoir, Peace, Redemption, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

“Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith in me has given you life. Now you may leave and walk in the ways of peace.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:50‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Bursting Forth

I cried twice yesterday morning. Both times I welcomed the soft tears, both times considered them a sweet acknowledgement of God.

Alone on a dark morning, just before my set destination, I turned off the podcast and tapped “FM” to listen to “Evidence” by Josh Baldwin.

https://youtu.be/Q6jD7N1HvbI

The line I love?

“I see your promises in fulfillment”

I sat alone in the silent house and prayed along with the new meditation on the “Pause” app, the guided prayer I’ve tapped in to about 600 minutes of based on the book I’m now in my second reading of, “Get Your Life Back” by John Eldredge

Two times I welcomed tears before my day had hardly begun. I felt better because of them.

The day was full. It was good and late last night I took mental inventory of it all, all of the promises fulfilled and the ones sure of fulfillment.

My granddaughter and I visited our County library, a first for her. We had the big open room with art on the wall and every other space books on shelves. We settled with a few and then she’d excitedly go for more.

An older lady came in, found a few for herself, smiled at the baby and said “Precious” and the baby lifted her little hand and said “Hey”.

Next on the agenda, a grocery pick up of needed diapers and the person who showed up at the window.

A daughter of a friend, I was happy to see her. She smiled when I told her just how powerful her voice is. I believe she only recently decided to sing. I was moved by her talent shared on social media.

Her mother had asked to purchase a 2021 calendar and then didn’t get back to me. So, I said “Hey, tell your mom to send me her address and she can just use PayPal to pay, I’ve marked them down, just $20 now.”

Then I changed my mind and told her to open the back of my car and just grab one, tell your mother it’s a gift.

She smiled and we headed to pick up our Chick Fil A, the baby still content, taking it all in.

All morning I’d been calling my friend’s pregnancy care center, no answer and I’d hoped to drop off a donation. Oh well.

With our lunch and after lunch plans, we headed for home; but, on the way saw the cars outside Life Choices and decided now they’re here.

In the parking lot, a gentleman turned from the door, confused I guess as to why they weren’t open. I lowered my passenger window and asked.

His eyes met mine, a similar blue with a little more sparkle. He introduced himself as a retired pastor and a friend of the Director and I smiled and said “Me too, I was hoping to drop off a donation.”

I asked if he had someone in his family who might like a calendar. Told him I had lots left over, I guess this year wasn’t the year for calendars and my donation is what I have left of them.

I didn’t tell him what I’d decided, the calendars hadn’t done very well because I was wrong, I wasn’t good enough.

He took a calendar for his adult daughter who had to move back home along with her baby as I explained to him the inspiration for the illustrations.

He offered to pay for it. I said no thanks and we talked a little more about art and the children’s book about to be available. I gave him the big stack of calendars and he assured me he’d deliver them.

His presence of peace for my granddaughter and I was evident as he offered and I accepted his offer to pray.

Last night, I settled down and recalled the day. A thought came, God’s presence was evident. I told myself, remember the times of today, these are the places you should be focused…making art, writing about Jesus, talking about it with others.

Front Porch Feathers

I thought of the calendars and how they weren’t successful. I remembered my angst over getting it wrong, the text on the back cover. I’d written a little note telling those who bought the calendar why I loved the passage about the alabaster vase. I referred to the woman who showered her affection on Jesus as immoral and later, for some reason, I decided you were wrong to say that, you’re not a biblical scholar and what if you assumed she was immoral, you just wanted her to be relatable, took liberties with her story to sell your calendar.

My thoughts went back to the God who is critical, not comforting, the one who points out wrong until you’re right enough for grace.

While the baby napped, I read the passage for the day, Luke 7.

The recording by Luke of the woman with the alabaster vase is here and I read from the Passion translation, a Bible I only recently purchased. The words are more vivid, descriptive, different.

Here I am on Wednesday after very good restful sleeping.

The amaryllis bulb I bought as a gift for myself is rich in color, leaning slightly towards the window and I wonder if I sat here all day, would I witness its bloom?

Instead, I’ll conquer a few things peacefully today without hurry. I’ll tackle the tasks that seemed made no difference anyway.

My Tuesday closed with “This Is Us”, the most beautiful depiction of God restoring broken hearts and long held hard sorrow I have ever seen. Tune in if you haven’t.

I’ll see again today and tomorrow the evidence of God’s goodness all over my life. I will not fear and I will not dread. I’ll not decide I’m not worth it.

I will continue and believe in the possibility of victorious days.

Peace Resolution

bravery, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, hope, memoir, Peace, Redemption, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing
New Year’s Eve Thought

In a year that was “novel” in so many ways that robbed our peace, being at peace was my solution, at least my constant reset.

I didn’t and don’t watch the news, I stopped scrolling when something was being proclaimed about Jesus that contradicted what God’s word said. I avoided conflict and although I shared my opinions and beliefs at times, I ended up realizing people who disagreed would counter with comments that hurt.

At some point, I decided that people who disagreed and spoke up were just trying to maintain control. I mean, in a year that meant so little control, being ticked off and being outspoken was, I suppose the one thing many people could control.

But, in conversations with others, only just one or two, I kept going back to “being at peace, so that I can be peace for others.” And I learned this was something impossible on my own.

Today, the last day of 2020, God brought it all together. Peace is accepting your present knowing God is protecting you from being damaged emotionally by revisiting your past, saving you from stepping back into it, and trusting that He knows your tomorrow, that your future is providentially good, better than you could create without Him.

So, be at peace in your present. Look for evidence in nature, happenstance and the faces of those you love that say…Jesus is here.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Thank you for encouraging me this year. Be certain of one thing, the things God tells me to share here quite often astound me! Also, feel like way “too much Lisa”.

Still, someone needs peace too, otherwise God wouldn’t give me words about it.

Happy New Years Eve, be at peace.

Continue and believe.

Think less of what you didn’t accomplish, follow through to completion and more on the things that surprised you as givers of peace picked for you.

I love a vignette! Here’s the third word in the trio of “yearly words”

Victorious2021.

Makes sense although it feels mostly only like “I hope so.”

Tying up the words, “hopeful2019” and “endurance2020” with a stronger faith, one I’m cooperating with towards “victorious2021”

A victory that has no lofty goals, only peace.

Turning Towards Better

Abuse Survivor, Art, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Forgiveness, hope, memoir, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

God has more power than the forces of harm.

This thought became a decision this morning. I woke happily relieved of a restless night that included a horribly realistic dream.

I was pleasantly awakened by the slight sound of “ding”. It reminded me of a whisper, maybe a mama coming close, saying “Sweetie, it’s time to get up.”

Expecting a photo of my granddaughter, I reached for the phone, slid it under the covers so I wouldn’t wake my husband.

Instead of a photo, it was a message from someone who messages me each year a couple of days before my birthday. Each year, the message includes “Toward”.

I open it to enjoy a video of Schroeder from the Peanuts at the piano playing a classical version of the birthday song. Lucy barges in and wants to sit next to him. He says no and she huffs away complaining something akin to creatives needing their space!

I smiled.

I turned towards the glow of morning and opened my palm to give God today, to ask for His guiding.

The birds were uplifting in the tone of their chirping as I sat to journal. This too, I welcomed.

It was time to make sense of the nightmare, time to process it and take what good I could from a vivid story, someone trying to once and for all kill me and me imploring them.

“No, things are better. Things are different.”

I spoke those words to the evil in my sleep.

I woke and remembered the horrible parts along with the prayers I’d prayed just yesterday in my private place.

I’d listened to a podcast about miracles. It stuck with me that we can be bold in our asking; but, first we must let go any unforgiveness.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:24-25‬ ESV

I prayed that way yesterday, forgiving people and forgiving behaviors.

Forgive me for my failures as I forgive those who failed me.

The day continued well and then the inability to sleep followed by the scary reminiscent dream.

I steadied my mind and set my intentions on “toward” as I wrote a note to myself. “What can I take from this?”

In the quiet, God answered.

I have no doubt it was Him.

In the nightmare, my words were clear. I was not silenced by the offender.

I spoke firmly and said. “But things are better, you don’t have to harm me anymore.”

Hearing my own voice was significant, I realized and different than the nightmares of before.

Better is believing God.

Better is believing in my very own prayers, my voice. Better is being confident that God has more power than the forces of harm.

Two separate podcasts and a birthday message sealed the deal of this hopeful conversation between God and me.

A podcast on the Lord’s Prayer reminding me of God as my loving father, a podcast about deciding to be “with” God, a God of miracles in every endeavor.

Both were reassuring of the good God I love and who loves me.

My heart danced with joy when Allen Arnold (author of “The Story of With”) spoke of deciding on a dream with God’s agreement and beginning to flourish.

This was confirmation. This is the story of “Look at the Birds” a soon to be published children’s book about worry. A story God spoke so clearly one morning and then kept speaking, “don’t just let this go.”

But, I almost did. Yesterday, I found a note to myself. I almost gave up on the book. I’d added to my to do list, “just hang the bird paintings in Elizabeth’s room.”

That very day the publishing company called to discuss moving forward. I said “Yes, I’ve decided. I’m ready to publish.”

Knowing that there’s no clear measure of success monetarily or simply the book having readers.

However, the success is in the continuing towards a calling, the creativity of God in me.

The memories of last night’s terror have completely subsided. It’s midmorning and I’m looking forward to an early birthday celebration later. I’m thinking of another heron painting. I’m remembering the prayer I believe.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

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?

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God, you have miracles unseen.

I hope you’ll believe this for you.

Look at the birds.

Continue and believe.

Here are the links to the podcasts referenced:

Susie Larson with Addison Bevere

The Thriving Christian Artist with Allen Arnold

Your Name in A Bible

Abuse Survivor, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, Forgiveness, Homeless, hope, kindness, mercy, Prayer, Redemption, Trust

This morning I found a child’s name in my Bible. A singular word, her name up in the corner of a page of Psalms with no details, no other information.

I must have prayed for her on that unrecognizable date.

An adolescent with fiery strawberry hair and a presence either marked by anger or the need for attention.

She and her siblings lived in the women’s shelter. She was the child in the middle. She was one of the three found homeless due to the mother’s dilemma.

She tried her mother and she tried us. She could not contain her emotions, her fear, her anger, her lack of being able to make sense of her current condition.

Most likely, I jotted her name the morning after a day that staff and I spent trying to manage her, hold her together, quell her violent temper.

I see her name in my Bible moments before turning to today’s Matthew reading.

Matthew 14 includes a favorite account of Jesus.

Jesus walked on water. Told the disciples not to be afraid.

“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I read on to the fifteenth chapter and as happens often, I’m pulled in by just a phrase.

This morning?

Jesus healed many.

I read of the mama who had a daughter she could not settle. Her outbursts were loud, unavoidable, her spirit unwell, even angry and stricken by evil.

I thought of the name in my Bible, just a name written in faint cursive in the corner of the page.

I remembered the last I heard, the child is in chorus, the family lives on land near horses. The mother is better, the sisters are well.

The disciples felt Jesus should avoid the woman and her daughter. The mother begged for different. Jesus paid attention.

Never thought of it before, the absolute gift we give by paying attention to another’s dilemma, disaster or simply discomfort.

“But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:25-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There are many lessons I kept from my work in the “helping profession”. One stands out though, the desperate cry for healing is a common thread between us. “Detours” I used to call them, the choices and circumstances that led to homelessness.

Jesus, on his journey, was often met by unexpected intersections with people in need and bold enough to take a chance on believing in possibility.

The child in the shelter, her mama, the men, women, mothers and children in the Bible.

One thing in common, they decided to believe in the possibility of healing.

And they found it like me, through believing in Jesus, no matter the story my past had already written, seemingly laid out in a fatal ending.

I pray it’s the same with you, this everyday decision not to be bound by your pasts, to continue.

To continue and believe.

To remember, your name is likely scribbled in the corner of someone’s Bible.

Yes. I believe.

Live Today

Abuse Survivor, birthday, bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, curiousity, Faith, Forgiveness, grace, hope, love, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Yet another list I’ve made after completing three little things yesterday. This list is different, a note to self about enduring, about this time as a time for living.

Eternally Valuable Days

  • Mend fences and repair barbed wire barriers and hurts in relationships.
  • Make them stronger by your willingness to work harder, to dig down deep to prevent future toppling.
  • Commit to loving for the long haul, a firm decision.
  • Laugh, it is allowable.
  • Sleep without guilt over long sleeping.
  • Be mindful in your use of time, not mindless.
  • Look up to the wide sky and see the vast possibilities and the actual purpose of you. Open yourself up to it.
  • Look at the birds. Consider the lilies. Fixate upon the ebb and flow of water, the power of the ocean. Go to these places.
  • Endure the delay that comes with the decision to do the big thing that requires simply moving forward.
  • Believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus, not just the idea of Him. Believe.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A month from today, I turn 60. The truth of that day is accompanied by the truth of that number. Age and learning, age and realizations of time, times remembered and the brevity of time allotted.

I’m on the fence really, a contradiction as usual. On the cusp of beginnings and still surprised by bright ideas.

Still able, still trusting and still willing.

So very willing to discover fully God’s idea of me ordered long long ago that I’ve only see faint peeking in the open door of!

Hopeful, set on hope not fear because of this disgruntled world.

Eternally valuable, I’ll use as my days’ choices.

“A repining life is a lingering death.” Benjamin Whichcote, “Joy and Strength” devotional

Eyes to See

confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Forgiveness, freedom, grace, happy, hope, Peace, praise, Vulnerability, wonder

“Ears to hear and eyes to see— both are gifts from the Lord.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s not spectacular, the little place where the back porch meets the grassy yard bordered by flowers that can withstand the heat.

There’s no manicured touch and the green of the lantana, the clematis and the wild lavender flowers is mingled with the green of a weed that refuses to go away.

Still, the sun peeks through the tall pines and it lays down a bridge on the thick grass.

I glance past the magenta colored roses and I sense God saying all will be okay.

I sense His spirit in my response to nature, in response to seeing.

Like the sight on Tuesday, a woman at the intersection in a dull colored old minivan.

I turned to see her as she waited for the light to turn green. I noticed her windows down, her long loose hair and although it wasn’t sunny, her aviator shades.

All alone in her car on her way somewhere, she shimmied her shoulders and tilted her head and then raised both arms up high and sang to no one listening.

I was awed by her hope.

I went on my way and glanced in the rear view to see her switch lanes quickly in between two others and I wondered where she was going.

I decided she wasn’t in a hurry.

Just determined.

Just ready.

She seemed to be joyously resilient, come what may

she was still going.

The sight of her, of the sunrise every morning, of the geese crossing the busy road somehow quite sure the cars would stop and wait, it all makes me certain in believing.

That this time is a season, a bridge to joy, a bridge to contentment not from without, but within.

I pray we all notice more, the simple steady markers for hope and the unexpected ones that reveal an abandoned joy!

Throw our arms up and sing along to no one at all.