There’s a wide empty field there. An expanse of open where the sunbeams fall in different ways through the trees.
A sound sometimes catches me, a squirrel, a bird or so soft it could be just the movement of the weeds.
Yellow pops of joy on top of tall green.
I consider this midpoint on the trail, the level place before I shift to jog and then struggle up the sudden steep place of a curving hill.
Then round the corner, oh it feels so free!
I am effortless, I swoosh past the houses. I careen.
There is no easy stride without the one that requires an inward decision to keep going.
There is no bliss over arriving finally without the questionable continuing your journey.
Today is the day between the dark death of Jesus Christ and the glorious morning a mourner discovered the empty tomb.
Today is the middle day, the day marked by all promises forgotten.
Jesus told them it would be so.
A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me. Jesus, to the disciples. John 16:16
Yet, it was so very hard to believe.
The miracle of it all.
Much of life gets hard when we are in between. This morning I read that God keeps all of His promises.
I’m prone to worry over whether or not that could be true for me, that’s the human in me as was the human in Jesus.
In the garden he prayed, if it is possible for me to achieve what is your will for every human, the creative works of your hand, if it is possible,
Father, God maybe you have another plan.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.””
Luke 22:41-42, 45-46 ESV
In what ways have you suffered?
What memories have you that represent redemption, foster continued hope?
What years of depression and dismay have you survived?
Here’s an example from my Instagram on yesterday:
Why I believe in redemption. I open the mail thinking it’ll be just a copy of my diploma, instead it’s an emotional chronicle of about 10 or so years. I lost my art scholarship, came home to try Georgia Southern. Some things happened because of me and to me. In 1982, it ended, Academic Suspension. 10 years later, I began again and graduated “In Good Standing”. #thecolorsofmybible #redemptionstory #nevertoolate #beginagain
Everything is restorable.
Struggle yields hope.
What is meant to destroy, through Christ, seeking His will, pairing it with human discipline and determination, is a redeemable starting point for a story.
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.
I’ve been productive. I am into Pinterest again and if I was successful, my readers can “pin” my pics if they so desire. I am out with the Executive LinkedIn and in with the new season…artist, writer, leap of faith taker!
I attended a writer’s conference yesterday and found it super beneficial. I highly recommend them, Serious Writers Academy. It was small, there was conversation, there was no competition or need to be farther along or better than. The facilitators were outspoken, funny and expert. There were important take aways for me.
Engaging with others who need to believe in redemption, not need or even want to know me… is what I believe is God’s plan for me and my story. So, I’ll be making myself engaging and relatable.
I have a relevant story someone may be searching for.
Today, I heard the song by Casting Crowns, “Only Jesus”. The lyrics that proclaim I don’t want to leave a legacy, don’t want people to remember me…only Jesus. I’m glad Jesus knows most proclamations of such are pretty tough for us. So tough for me I told Him so, said I don’t really know how that’s supposed to be for me. I have no idea how to do what I do for you.
I continued on, decided to just do what I can today. So, committed I have been this afternoon. Readers can pin my pics, someone may connect with me on LinkedIn. I corrected Mailchimp just in time for next week’s newsletter, the first in the “Redemption Series”.
It’ll begin this way…
I ran just as far as I could, moved away from him and had big plans. He found me and well, I knew I’d never try running again.
Don’t worry, it’s only the intro that’s about me. I’m fascinated with Hagar and how she came to be with Sarah and then ran away once, thrown away the second. She was found by God, the God who saw her.
The preacher, this morning taught us through David and Psalm 61. Taught of how we are much like David, how resting is trusting and he added,
“We are all learning as we go.”
I paused at the recollection of yesterday. I had decided the very same thing. I am learning about writing. I am learning about the need to branch out, hold hands with others, how my story in a way depends on them. How they might unbeknownst to me, be depending on me as I depend on HIM.
Although I am a victim, I am no expert on trauma recovery. I know the lingo, I understand the flight or fight. I know how triggers creep in. I know how damaging before can be to now. I understand the pull of hanging on to harsh resentment, fear, and unforgiveness.
I also know mercy and though I don’t fully understand it. I know it is irrevocable, the offer I accepted to believe in the life of Jesus and in His death redeeming all my damage and the damage done to me.
I know mercy more every day. Will know even more tomorrow.
I have a few hundred followers, some know me as a believer. Others might only wonder, might see the hints I give.
I don’t understand how to live for “only Jesus”. I don’t suppose it is meant for me to work that in a fully understood plan. I suppose it is meant for me to invite as many others as I can close enough to read my story and to understand mercy as the balm for their trauma.
A mercy that doesn’t require perfection, a mercy that will never say no.
Subscribe to hear more of this “Redemption Story” Email me if you have comments, I’d love to hear your redemption story.
Last week I told someone I just felt so “invalidated”. Now, I don’t know if the passage about the man held back for 38 years by his disability was planted in my mind OR if God knew on this day, I would wake up and read John 5 and understand it more clearly.
More clearly as in, it is time to stop taking on the burden of others’ behaviors and spoken words. It is time to stop owning the responsibilities of anyone’s choices other than your own. It is time to move on and sin no more, look on to new things. No if’s or buts like the man who said everyone either beats me to it or is blocking my way.
Jesus was ridiculed for leading this man to healing on a Sunday. Jesus wanted them to know that God is always working and so will be He. (vs. 17). The chapter continues with the questioning of his authority. Jesus told them even greater things will happen, things they will marvel over.
Chapter 5 is about Jesus doing His Father’s will regardless of naysayers and critics. It is still God’s desire that we be healed, changed, walk towards new life because of Jesus.
The Chapter closes with lines I underlined two or three times. About what I seek and through whom. Convicting for me!
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people.”
John 5:39-41 ESV
We can’t wait for people around us to move us from our helpless places to the healing pool. We move from being invalids when we know our validity is through Christ. We can read every self-help book on our shelves and even daily sit with our scriptures. We’re surrounded by good and well meaning advisers who we may want to impress, gain their approval. We won’t know liberation from the oppression of our maladies until we seek the glory that only comes from God. At least, I believe God is saying, Lisa Anne…this truth is for you.
Maybe you too.
The Book of John is a powerful book, a great read if you want to be closer to Jesus.
Every day this week, the robins have said “Good Morning.” As if they are thrilled to see me return, they fly from the cedar tree to the oaks and back again, as if announcing, “She’s here, she’s here, come and see!”
And I pause before entering my office door, I pause in the parking lot longing to discern their meaning, their message, being so captivated by them there.
I heard a podcast speaking of change in habits, change in mindset and how most of us make it about four days.
Good morning Day 4 of 40 and my observation of Lent!
Someone chuckled when I announced my decision to fast, added we’re not Catholic or Episcopalian or anything like that.
She watched as I chose water over wine.
Had little to say when I told her I had to choose my favorite indulgence, my favorite reward or as we both know so very well because I used to belt the lyrics loud in my powerfully independent voice,
My favorite mistake.
My girl grew up on the anthems of Sheryl Crow.
So, we continued as I shared with her why I chose my indulgent red wine in the pretty stemless glass that my hand hurried home to cup after life and work had worked my nerves and took from me more than I had to give.
How could I not choose to give up the thing that I decided was my worthy reward, my justified balm for my weary soul?
How could I not sacrifice in an effort to find perhaps the true balm that was being perhaps, ignored?
For some it’s social media, others it is sugar or bread or chocolate or maybe stronger drink, intoxicating the heart and mind.
For me it could have easily been Instagram or peanut butter.
Because, I’ve taken to peanut butter in excess again.
Made up for the break from red wine by mindlessly cleaning out the jar of especially crunchy and sweet salty amber colored cream while waiting for dinner to be done.
Then I had my dinner with water in the wine glass and I was satisfied until it came time for something more…my pattern, I am learning.
So again I go to the kitchen and I finish off the chocolate almond Halo Top that boasts of being harmless.
The wine stayed corked in the cabinet and I began to learn what I know now.
I look for reward in things outside of myself to be told that I am enough and when I feel unnoticed, I indulge in the first “good” thing I can get my hands on that is waiting there for me.
To burst through the back door, tell my husband it was a horrible day and reach for my reward.
Maybe three days in, I’m learning already about that “heart shaped hole” people speak of that we try to fill.
The place of our souls where Jesus wants to be enough.
Maybe by day ten I will have fully exhausted all of my immediately gratifying rewards and I’ll sit with Jesus and myself just quietly.
Maybe I will be filled not from the immediate things I seek to gratify me, food, drink, a device in my hand or a reader that likes me and says “you’re good”.
Maybe my needs will be less and my soul’s wants, becoming more will be seen more clearly.
They’ve been so fully met all along.
What you need has always been here.
I chose to fast from red wine for 40 days for two reasons, one of them selfish, I admit.
I see it as sort of a spiritual experiment. I am curious to see how my faith will change, what I will hear and see more clearly.
How I will know myself and God when I surrender intentionally.
The other reason as I told my young assistant when she, seeing all the conflict of work these days announced…”Oh wow, you really chose wine?”
Women and wine, it’s obviously a thing.
To which I answered.
How could I not sacrifice something that will be hard when Jesus died for me…sacrificed His life on the cross for me?
She smiled sweetly.
So, Lent for this not churched that way poor country girl, I am learning and I am allowing your lessons.
It may be more than wine as the wind down “waiting to comfort me reward” that’s been buffering God’s voice.
It may be that and other things I am only just beginning to hear.
It may be finally that all the mistakes I casually named my favorites because you don’t tell your little daughter dancing in the kitchen about your shame.
You masquerade your shame with reckless sometimes funny mommy behaviors.
It may be that three days in,
I am at last understanding
It will be joy for me, fully believing.
It will be like resurrection morning!
Last night, I drafted a post about the robins, deleted and started over three times. Went to bed thinking, well I don’t know why…but, I may be losing my writing voice. It seemed so unnecessary, for me to tell again about my love of a bird.
So, I woke and I journaled and I decided to be brave and share my choice for Lent. Like most writing, the words just came. And it is about me; but, it may be for someone else, God said. “It is my will that you be brave.
It’s your part to be real at the risk of being ridiculed, this is what you should surrender, your fear of being shamed and allow your truth to go the places I say, Lisa Anne.”
About forgiveness I’m learning more every day, every new day I am becoming more free.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
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
There was no inspiration in the sky above me, its color was thick and like taupe mixed with gray.
The color of old water left in the kitchen sink, murky from faded suds and dirty plates.
No music seemed to suit me. The podcast I was moved to hear again had strangely gone away.
I walked on with the bounce of a trendy and sort of tired old song.
Next one and the next the same.
They were not working, the songs that usually drive me, keep me distracted from the pain of my hips, my feet.
Songs about grace and Jesus too trendy for me today, too much like radio pop.
Twelve or thirteen minutes I told myself, just a brief bit, you can endure it.
So, I picked up my pace and I listened to my feet hitting the ground and I know it’s not possible but I could describe the sound of my own breath coming up from my core.
And I felt it, the way my body changed as my breathing weaved up and past my ribs and into my particularly patterned exhale.
Control, keep control. Focus on the release.
I kept on and got to the place with the dangerous curve and the steep right bending hill.
The geese had congregated on the water and were conversating loudly.
I slowed and felt the wind sweep across my face making me realize the warmth I’d created on my chest, caused by my own private version of running my race.
For about a minute, maybe seconds more, there was this bliss caused by God’s grace.
In a less than spectacular sky I couldn’t find Him and so, grace found me.
And I ran up the hill, all the way this time.
Although I’d decided I might not be able, I kept running.
Last week, I sort of analyzed my life using the big chunk of moments, days and years that were either sorted and stacked as either joy or fear, as either mistake or reconciliation.
My husband and I recalled the dog adopted and where he peed, pooped, what he destroyed, and how difficult he was in the beginning.
I asked him to compare the joy of the Labrador being with us to the initial hassle and adjustment.
He agreed he was worth it.
Worth it to sit in your spot at end of the day to have a big dog plop down and prop his big face across your feet.
Worth it to be greeted at the door with his goofy eyes and happy tail.
If you look closely at your life, all the happenings that you know were true trauma, the interruptions that you remember and think that was it, that’s what totally blew my chances of being complete, you might be justified in never believing you should believe.
You might not take chances with new things.
Perhaps, the trauma that began it all has never been fully grieved, a grievous grey sky that you haven’t faced fully, haven’t accepted for what it is and so you’ve not felt it, not allowed the grace to be greater than the fear.
In college, my first year, I was raped.
I blamed myself. I hid in shame.
The big and grotesque figure of an athlete loomed behind me the next day in Chemistry lab, elevated just over my shoulder, he was enormous and so powerful in his seat.
I blamed myself because my sweater was way too tight and glaringly hot pink. I know better now; but, only recently realized this thing that made me live so very long in fear and defeat.
It was unresolved grief for the artist in me that died there that night, accepted the disbelief of me.
But, even better than the realization that this trauma was not invited by me is the realization that this incident makes up really only an hour or two of me…of my whole 58 years!
I don’t minimize the damage, I’m just choosing to line it up beside the other things:
I was the middle child, shy girl who went to college on an art scholarship.
I drove myself through Atlanta all the way to the beautiful mountains of Rome.
I tried something new and I made a great friend who was beautiful and statuesque and intelligent who still remembers me.
I learned to love running there, running uphill every day.
We dined at a splendid restaurant where my friend worked on Friday nights, my choice always, Chicken cor don bleu.
I won an award for a painting and my parents came up to see my blue ribbon.
I began, just a little, to see Jesus differently and it challenged me.
I was brave there even though interrupted in this horrible way.
I was harmed in many ways by that night at a party; yet, that’s only a tiny bit of my experience, of my life.
The greater experience is that I was held even then and I am still held by the grace of my Father’s hand.
I was His child then. Didn’t believe it but that didn’t matter.
So, I choose looking back only to be certain of my worth from His perspective and of the importance in believing there is always so much better I have seen and been given, even when I line it up to the most unjustified of my griefs.
I pray if you’ve known trauma you’ll see the freedom of deciding daily that you are more at peace when your recall is one of the evidence of grace, not a harsh gauge of resentment over someone who harmed you and thus, kept you from all that might have been.
There’s truth in that sentiment. It just won’t take us anywhere, certainly no new places.
You’re so much more than the stain of your pain.
When the cool evening breeze brushed my face yesterday it was God saying to me, I saw you keep going.
I saw you turn your attention to me.
Continue and believe.
Don’t let the pain of your past cut short your beautiful race.
Luke recorded the healing of a woman bent by her pain for close to twenty years.
For me, my frame of reference for all my defeats or my failures has always been the harm done towards me by others, the hurtful choices made for me and the ones I made.
Disabled for far too long by my pain until I decided to welcome a change.
Like the woman Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, I am free.
“And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”
Luke 13:11-13 ESV
Leave grief behind, notice the unrelenting grace of your God.
This perspective of forward not former thinking is the direction God is guiding me towards memoir. If you know someone who has lived hampered by harm, share my words. I pray God increases each reader’s awareness and embrace of His grace as He is with me, moment by moment, daily.
The following was to be the launch of my newsletter. I had a very good morning and I prayed and then tried. MailChimp, you are not a friend of mine.
But nothing’s wasted, right…other than my time.
There’s a lesson here and it keeps coming back to continue and believe.
Eventually, I know I shall see. Forward not behind, I’m moving forward.
Here you go…the newsletter that wasn’t meant to be.
“Finding Your Sky” is an expression of what, for me feels like believing in possibility and considering God’s view of us and His longing for us to live not based on our “befores”.
What if we focused on next steps rather than our stumbles from before?
Take just a second and ask yourself what you believe about redemption, about second chances, about freedom from shame over past mistakes.
Ask yourself if you believe in redemption for others but struggle to accept it consistently as mercy meant for you.
When good things seem to be coming your way only to go another do you decide “that’s okay, I wasn’t worthy anyway?”
I did this today.
Working on this very thing.
Trying is succeeding, I believe, when it comes to stepping towards new things.
I thought of all the people Jesus beckoned just to try, to pick up your mat, to step into the water, to not turn away ashamed when He knows all our sins by name. What if we held out our withered hands to touch his, to grow stronger and open to all the good He has waiting to give?
Do you have a spark inside that feel likes what I like to call a “treasure” but you keep it close and hidden because “what will happen if I try to be something, someone other than what everyone has always known?”
Each month, on a Sunday, I’ll send out this newsletter. I’ll ask God what it is He has shown me that someone else might need to know. I’ll maybe add some art work or inspiration you can download. There will be scripture to say so much better what I am trying to say.
My prayer is to help you believe in the beauty of redemption, to have you look up to the broad sky and to be open to new things and to continue in them, to continue and believe.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18-19
This verse is marked by a sketch in the margin of my Bible.
The timing of it was beautiful, I had been talking with a therapist about my past trauma. Therapeutic insight and challenges were met by my response to her question one day,
“How will you know when it is time to stop remembering and move on from your trauma?”
Our sessions were typically visited upon by cardinals in some way and so I answered, “I’ll know when I find a redbird feather.” As crazy as that must have seemed, she accepted my remedy.
A few weeks later, I was gifted two feathers and then, in the most unexpected of places, my own backyard, I noticed one of my own.
What would prompt you to stop dwelling on your hurts and pain of before and to allow freedom to beckon you forward?
It’s safer to stay there, in the places we know, the people that we are known to be.
It’s gradual, this new way for me, this believing and being exhilaratingly hopeful of what might be.
Here’s the angel girl from my Bible, the one dressed in blue who is ready to believe. Maybe by March, mailing lists and newsletters, etc. will come together! My plan is to include a downloadable image, a pdf of a painting. I’ll keep trying.