Peace and Us

We held hands in the foyer and prayed and the closing words to Jesus were that we’d be like light, peace in the places we go, that the peace we know we’d hold in the rooms we’re in with others.

That we’d bring light.

How does your light shine?

I ask myself this morning.

Is it sporadic?

Does it dim

And then annoy with incessant flashing

Like harassment

Like hurry?

How does your light shine?

Is it steady?

Inviting?

To be depended on to welcome back in

to a place of peace?

Does it say

Peace is here?

How does your light shine?

Is it left untended to

To die without power

Without the source for burning?

Does it stay so close knowing it can never shine on its own?

How does your light shine?

What is hiding

Showing?

Is it certain like a promise

Dependable like home?

How does your light shine, your peace, your gaze towards hope, your soft assurance of what you know?

Others will see, others will know and seek.

Peace, peace like the light you bring.

Peace, light and love.

Believe.

Peace is for us.

“O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Happy Sunday.

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!

Where Words Live

“The sower sows the word.” Jesus

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Someone held my journal in her hand yesterday, one of hundreds gone before.

She needed to list the children’s names for Christmas drawing for gift exchange.

I found a blank page past three or four written in and I let her hold my journal, the place where my current words are dwelling.

Imagined how I’d feel if she turned back a few pages and found my mornings’ words.

Lament, praise, self-criticism and supplication to God, all script and drawings expressing my very private hopes.

I’ve just read an intimate sharing, ten or so sentences in a poem.

The poet, according to his bio, leaves his short pieces in a variety of places.

He writes honestly.

About life, love, death, a menagerie of meaningfully derived pieces.

He is a doctor, a poet, a brilliant writer.

His written word resides in a variety of places, publications.

I paused at the call for submissions, quickly told myself no, you’re too harried in your writing hopes. Simplify, just live with one hope, to write stories of redemption, of being certain strength is the result of not giving up on hope.

If your words had a dwelling place, what would it be?

A gated mansion where people pay good money just to peruse?

A sought after invitation to be allowed a closeup view, maybe to sit amongst the words, even have an open book on their lap? A famous place?

Or would your words be in a tiny space found at the end of an overgrown field, a place that is shielded by years of unnoticed knowing?

Would the little place where your words live be a thrill to visit, your guest realizing they’re in on the discovery of a secret?

Where would you say your words would be found growing?

I read a famous person’s Twitter post offering up thanks to her thousands of followers and how it all began seventeen years ago on her blog.

I realized she’s no longer a blogger. She must be one of those who knows blogging is so over, who reads a blog anyway?

I’ve decided I can be selfish with my words, like my paintings, they’re my very own babies.

I’m inclined to keep the window closed, locked tight and curtained, the one that lets my light out to the great big world, let’s the light of others in.

I’m careful with my contributions to the writing community.

Selfish, I realize.

These words are mine that are often too heavy for even my own heart’s sharing.

I don’t jump at the chance to be chosen quite so much as before.

I’ll let my words keep living here, safe, friendly, the readers who read them.

This vague and not prolifically named place. Not easily found, not optimized for the seeker.

This quiet place emerging at a snail’s pace is the place of my writing, consistently an intimate expression.

Expression a stranger might read and decide they can relate.

Blogging may no longer be important, there may be a different set of aspiring writer rules.

I’ve grown weary of the unending advice or writing advisers.

It is hard to keep up.

I’m either naive or unteachable, stubborn or afraid of failure, uncomfortable with success.

Who’s to say?

It’s all about perspective.

My perspective, my eye for life and love, my ideas uniquely formed about redemption, about my assurance of heaven,

My faith.

None of these can be duplicated and this is the reason.

Writing is selfish.

Selfish in a sweet and honest, sometimes very raw causing the reader to pause way.

I’ve read blog posts like this.

Occasionally I’ve written one.

Say your prayers, I tell myself, let your thoughts get to forming words, type them out or scrawl them down.

May they keep being true.

May you be okay with the not so famous place they settle or are shared.

May the words of my heart find the reader who needs them.

This is my goal, my prayer, my less than spectacular ambition.

Go slowly. Simplify. Keep going. Share what you know about fear, trauma and shame and now, redemption, about Jesus. Go and tell, you’ll know where. Your life is a parable only you can tell.

“And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What’s your parable this morning?

Mine goes like this. The room this morning early is simply lit by the lights on the tree at end of the couch. The big puppy is resting his head on my lap. The coffee is strong and I’ve added real cream. I’m remembering the dream that I dreamed and how parts were upsetting and parts were reminders. I have yet to open my Bible or my journal and pen. This morning, I had a thought about blogging, about sharing and about simplicity. I sense God keeping me here, intent on that idea, write simply. I’m okay with that although it reeks of insignificance based on lofty expectations birthed by following others.

I’m dwelling in my morning spot, the place of being okay with waiting. I’ll continue my Advent readings and I’ll stop fearing not trying.

Waiting Here for You – An Advent Journey of Hope

I’ll wait for Christmas now. I’ll wait patiently for God to lead my words to places He made them to go.

Here, in spoken places and in hearts changing like mine.

Content in our redemption.

Our stories becoming God’s parables of hope.

Hard stories softened because of Jesus.

Like this one I have stored up:

I watched a man be baptized yesterday morning. His expression was all his, the way the moment of his decision to live differently was unable to be kept hidden. I watched him lift his arms to hold the hands of the one baptizing him up to his chest. His forearms painted completely in ink. He said something about his decision that was so covered in his emotion no one could know. I watched the face of this man rising from the water and I watched the face of the one baptizing. I felt it all, the grandeur in their strong embrace. I saw and felt redemption and I once again, remembered my own.

This man’s story, story of redemption and the Jesus we both know.

Similar in some ways, redemptive in all.

Abiding in love.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Continue and believe.

Keep sowing.

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.

Weathered Beautifully

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Look around you. Everything can change in just days. Every little thing is God’s way of saying.

Notice the beauty in the weathering.

A lesson in everything, I told someone and she agreed.

Sort of like giving God the question, the messes we find ourselves in and the consequences of them.

Being intentional in the after of it, pausing and expecting to see the whole thing new.

If we will listen, we will learn from the God “reframed” whatever.

Stay teachable, allow change, don’t resist growth not despise the maturity most disguise, don’t want to own their own “aging”.

I’m wiser now because I am more open to God’s wisdom, not my own.

Learning is not a harsh or punitive lesson.

Sometimes it’s a surprise, an acknowledgement that your take on something was spot on, now continue, confident in a graceful way.

Your lesson is not a license for remorse, your accurate assessment is saying,

You matter to me. I’ve noticed you. You have great value, your longings and your confusion as well as your questions, they are valid, significant. God

Yesterday, I thought to tell my husband it felt “tropical”, the air early morning.

Instead, I told him the air felt stormy.

Today, there’s a difference of about thirty degrees and the air is fresh and cool, rain rejuvenated.

I’m likely to speak artistically, to be descriptive in an odd way.

My legacy may include that, “Lisa loved to use unusual words.”

That may be spoken of me when I’m no longer here.

Legacy.

I scribbled next to my “surrender” circle, “my thoughts”.

Left it there and then felt it float above my head most of the day.

How simple it was to jot it down. A challenge or a big heaping helping of peace if it were to be so.

That my thoughts would be only good or at least not so overdone, rewritten, transposed on my heart, the beating down of unknown.

If every single thought was hemmed in, buffered, not allowed to run off course on its own rabbit chase…

That would be what I hope is my lasting legacy.

Quiet Confidence.

Confidence in God.

My life verse? It evolved from the words “quiet confidence” a very long time ago.

I looked for a description of my daddy for a tiny little ad to memorialize him. I rarely read my Bible then. I’d seen others use verses as a way to remember the deceased, to honor them.

Since my daddy was quiet, it was my hope that in heaven he was confident finally.

At least that’s what I hoped people would see, that my father wasn’t so well known in small town Georgia, in terms of success.

But, in heaven he at last was confident.

I kept it for myself. I’ve tossed it over in my mind, made it my brand. I’ve pondered its true meaning.

Quiet Confidence.

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I cling to the two words most.

My granddaughter and I walked again on Wednesday. We didn’t venture far and our pace was a little lazy. I held her and we pivoted from tree to field, from sky to other end of unending open sky.

An ancient grey tree caught my eye. Maybe hidden until the space was cleared for a family’s home. A tree that had grown up years ago and not planted by man. These trees, this forest grew up over time, naturally.

Not by force, not even pruned or cared for. The tree with the weather making it tough, changing its appearance to what I decided is beautiful.

Is strong.

We change over time too. Circumstances can toughen us, make us either angry or resolved.

I wondered what the tree stripped bare of the fuzzy growth would be, thought of peeling back the layers.

Left it though, the beauty represented the years, rooted and strong, weathered.

Wow, me too.

I am weathered.

We look for the lesson in hardship, consider God’s perspective or we bend under the weight of our fragile attempt to be unchanging, immortal and untainted by the truth of life and death, unavoidable events.

Trees yearn towards God. Brittle arms, branches with tiny offshoot branches…open hands, fingers knowing they’re getting closer to heaven.

So, I’m deciding not to waste any of it. Not complicated situations, doomsday environments and even more proof that I’m not able on my own.

Legacy.

Quiet, confident, teachable.

Weathering beautifully.

Last week I discovered that it is only found in an ancient and out of print Bible translation, the words “in quiet confidence” instead of “strength” or “quietness and trust”.

I’m clinging to the ancient version, confident because of it.

Deeper Still

I kept my promise to myself this summer although the plan for the big reveal just didn’t come true.

I feared the worst thing that made absolutely no sense.

What if I can’t feel my way back to safety? What if I hit bottom and lose my breath? What if I’m left to figure it out on my own, panic and struggle and cause my own deadly distress?

I practiced in private. Well, just the instructor/husband and I. The scenario I planned, on my birthday my children would come over and we’d grill burgers and then I’d surprise them as they sat by the pool.

They’d see I was able. I had overcome my fear of diving into the deep end.

Other plans played out, my birthday was good but not the “big reveal”.

The accomplishment was more private, I believe it was better that way. Mine to treasure.

Now, it’s Autumn and the kitchen window is open to welcome cool air as I sit with my Bible, thinking about God’s call to deep.

There’s a verse in the Book of Acts that describes this beckoning I’m feeling.

This quiet acceptance of slow growth after my baptism, like roots spreading underneath, necessary for solid strength, I sense the preparing of this stronger me.

This one who is going deeper still in the sharing of my story, my perspective on this often discussed Jesus, the Son of God, waiting for all the skeptics, doubters, intellects and risk takers to dive in to the simplicity of grace.

To feel their way towards heaven.

There must have been masses of deep thinkers bent on proving Paul wrong back then.

They listened and he kept speaking.

He knew his place was simply to share his story of change. His understanding of God, of Jesus.

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭17:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Aren’t we all just “feeling our way” towards the unknown and knowable God?

When I stood on the edge of the pool, my toes gripping the edge, body bent towards the water and practicing the rocking type motion that would give me the push

I was scared.

Scared of the same irrational thing, what if I get to the bottom and I can’t come back up.

“What happens when I am that deep?” I asked my husband.

He always answered, same way, he gave me step by step instructions and I followed them and he says it wasn’t pretty; but, I did it.

I jumped/fell in and I did it again and again until I was satisfied.

I met my goal before my 59th birthday!

Symbolic for me, although I didn’t know it.

This has summer changed me, grown me.

Still growing. Letting the roots of assurance of what happened to me in the water take their time in spreading wide, making plans and breathing life into what may have otherwise dried up and withered.

My branches are reaching wider.

Feeling their way towards God.

To the water, the deeper end, bottomless pool filled with mercy and grace for those who take the chance, step from the edge, finally trusting we’ll be drawn up, face beaming, pure joy as we pop up!

Hallelujah, I have felt my way towards God!

Linking up with other Friday writers, prompted by the word “Deep”.

Read others’ take on it here:

Deep

Wonder, Full

Before he’d be going one way for the evening, I was preparing to go the other.

Walking the puppy, I noticed a feather.

We had a slight disagreement, nothing major. I reversed my car, felt the thump thump of something under.

I looked over and saw him, the look on his face saying, I’ll never fully understand her.

I had run over the garden hose.

He turned and I took off writing stories in my mind over the way God made me, makes us all.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

‭‭James‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I found myself teetering on the edge of despair, emotional discontentment.

He listened and tried to understand, to an extent he did; but, when he came to my defense it only added to my frustration.

Only God knows me fully.

The soul he created, His beautiful anticipation of me.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’ve barely and inconsistently scratched the surface that might give a glimpse of the me that God sees and knows.

I find it hard to believe.

I practice intention and notice, otherwise I get sullen over the lack of notice by all the others.

I’m digging deeper, understanding a child that’s not validated will strive the rest of their days for someone to tell them they matter.

It helps to know the reason.

I found a feather, pristine and soft. I left it beside his phone before leaving. The music serenaded my husband as he watered the lawn. Like a peace offering for what I’d done he saw as wrong.

I envisioned him finding it, knowing it was an unspoken apology.

I walked alone later, the cool air sending leaves a flutter. It was good, good to walk alone.

A tiny feather I found for me, white and edged with brown, I slipped it in my pocket.

I’d been researching angels, read that finding a white feather, some believe is the presence of an angel near.

I couldn’t help but think of my mama and her love of Willie Nelson.

The line from a song about a sad soul, too far from heaven, about to lose her way or not belonging in the place she’d landed.

Too far from heaven, too close to the dirty earth and ground, the feather I found.

Angel flying too close to the ground…Willie Nelson

Back home, I saw my husband had left on the counter, a pear or an apple?

I couldn’t be sure.

I washed the tiny feather, laid it on top of the brown fruit to dry.

I can’t be certain if it’s an apple or a pear, I’ll just wonder.

Not slice it.

The beauty of it on my kitchen counter is enough.

The message of simple things, forgiveness, offerings of peace, images and objects that cause for me, remembrance of God.

Remembering with wonder.

Full of wonder over all I don’t yet see.

I am made for so much more than what I present on the outside.

I’m more significant in the eyes of God because of the me only He sees.

When God made me.

He decided my significance.

Enough.

Validated me in a way no words, acceptance, praise or accomplishment can get close to in measure.

The measure of my worth?

That God made me.

There’s a million reasons to trust Him. He knows me fully and yet, loves me still.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

May my soul find your nearness and stay near, God. May I be ever aware of what’s unseen, the spirit of you, nearer, nearer in my natural realm.

Too wonderful to know, too wonderful not to believe in the possibility of.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Intersecting Neighbors

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

My granddaughter smiles as she looks up towards heaven.

I unravel my thoughts or I pull them back together.

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

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

The stretch people call the “suicide lane”.

Every time I think of that, I think.

I wish they didn’t name it that.

But, that’s just me.

Where did you travel today?

What did you notice?

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

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

This morning it’s left stranded.

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

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

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

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

My mind began to wonder.

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

That’s what I thought.

Kindness, regardless.

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

And accepted.

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

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

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

She sees me.

I stop suddenly.

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

I’m startled. I tell myself.

Notice, be careful.

Notice.

A customer crosses in front.

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

The woman who almost intersected my car.

I notice and I ask.

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

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

I tell her,

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

Puzzled, she was.

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

She smiles.

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

A Jesus story about first and foremost loving others.

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

One helped.

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

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:33‬ ‭ESV

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

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

Maybe that’s all it takes.

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

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

Just thoughts.

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

Loved my neighbor.

Light Returns

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Light, Returning

Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself

The light is returning.

I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.

The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.

She doesn’t know or does she?

Her grandma is new.

Her grandma is breaking old cycles.

She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.

The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.

Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.

God, why did you allow this to happen?

This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.

And what followed.

My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.

I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.

It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.

Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.

Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.

He had a beer.

I had a glass of Merlot.

It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.

Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.

It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.

Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.

Committed and secure.

Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.

He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.

I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.

I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.

The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.

I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.

The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.

The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.

I said his name.

I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.

You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.

He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.

I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.

This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.

It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.

Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.

I prayed.

It is not up to me, restoration, only God.

I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.

Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.

I thought the same things.

I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.

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Reason to Believe

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.

Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.

You don’t remember the conversations.

Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.

Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.

The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,

I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.

I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.

Why such a setback?

Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?

He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.

What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.

Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.

The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.

Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.

A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.

The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.

Grace and Tests

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will be a chance for new.

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

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

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

I’m still standing. I am well.

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

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

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

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

When it could have gone the other way.

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

I am well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wouldn’t let her remain unknown.

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

Be healed.

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

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:47-48‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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

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

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

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

Jesus knew that.

Knows the same with us.

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

Be transparent.

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

Fully known.

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

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

They brought me joy.

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

They are survivors.

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

His love never ends.

Provision won’t run out.

Nor does the grace he gives for endurance.

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

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now to research trees.

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

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

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

Tree experts say many mimosas don’t survive.

Yet, many do.

Strong.

Continue blooming.

Continue and believe.