Grief and Grace and Beautiful Things

The Sway of Grace

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.

Volume down.

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.

Again.

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.

Trying is Succeeding

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.

I’ll continue and believe.

Seesaw Prayers and Stephanie Sue

From God’s perspective, I believe we pray more than we realize, that our thoughts are to Him, sort of informal prayers. Maybe He’s nudging us to pray, saying your thoughts are not trivial, nor too troubling, tell me more. I believe He says let’s wait and see, get there together.

What’s blowing my mind today is the reality of God hearing my prayers! Oh Lord, forgive me for taking this lightly or for only getting excited and wanting to sing loud praises when it’s mind-blowingly big.

I try to get out in front of God, as if I need to coax the direction of a certain “perfect” way. If I’m honest, God must think I’m whiny or either aggravating, the pendulum swings one or the other way.

Like the seesaw, I’m either the queen of the world buoyed up high from my worries by the force and folded knees of my brave cousin, her butt at the bottom and feet firmly in the smooth cool sand.

Showing me, like Jesus.

I’ve got this. Sit still.

Then she lets go and either drastically I hit bottom or she’s easy and my place and turn in the pattern is more like rest on the level ground than a harsh descent, desperately back to prayer.

Or she’s so skilled in her timing, my seesaw partner, that she leaves me in the interim wanting me to trust her weight and balance will keep me there.

I don’t like the middle, the supposed to be at peace with not knowing, the trusting place. Yet, God always teaches me when He increases my faith, my confidence there.

He shows me that He saw me praying a different way, a surrendered and boldly strong expectantly way and so He moved and the situation, hours later changed, the circumstances swayed.

He answers our prayers all day throughout the day. I sometimes pray as if I’ve speculated the river is dry and the flow of sovereign power and grace can’t make it back my way.

Then He does it again. He answers the longing I brought and left with Him, the one I considered not bringing at all.

True story.

Prayer changes things and people.

I hope I remember it long, the thing that happened and It hit me…oh, you prayed! I’ll store it up in my journal of others chronicling the big grace and answered prayers of before along with the little ones He has anticipated and given replies that I may never know.

I don’t have to rush ahead fearing He doesn’t see I need His guiding hand.

I just have to stay close, let my trust be my hand in His hand on this ever changing road and that memories like seesaws and brave cousins who taught me so much are teaching me still.

This post is for you. I miss you, brave and beautiful one, Stephanie Sue!

“pray without ceasing,”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Understanding and Tone

I don’t like to write about things that I feel I lack the understanding of.

I’d never write about the building of “the fence” or is it a wall?

Or on the subject of how the Democrats and Republicans differ and why one is more right than wrong.

Political discussions don’t ever hear from me, I’m uninformed, would need a middle school refresher on the different houses and representatives.

I apologize. I just don’t remember.

I just don’t know.

But, I do know that some things should be different by now, that there should not be hatred and discounting of another because of tones of skin color.

Today, I was piddling around, killing time until dinner in a little shop of old things tucked away.

There was some rearranging, I stepped over furniture and tables that were left out in the way.

I walked through the shop and turned back towards the entrance, the shop laid like a U.

I heard her voice complaining, the one with all the stuff left out in the way…put this here, no, that is wrong, just get out the way…

No, you know I told you to do it this way!

Her voice was sharp, critical and chastising, her tone.

I imagined him being her husband standing with head down waiting to be redirected, told next what not to do wrong.

Then she mentioned a “Mr.” so I realized I was wrong.

She, dressed in soft cardigan and her pearls, continued to correct and I heard her and I heard his surrendered tone, oh, okay, okay.

Then I saw him as he waited for her instructing. His back was towards me, he was a small and thin older black man.

It bothered me suddenly.

I thought, this is wrong.

It really bothered me so, the way she spoke to him, her overbearing tone.

She saw me see her and her face turned away.

But, too late, it didn’t matter now, her unnecessary mistreatment had happened all the same.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Not now, not today.

And I have no special words that might lead to once and for all reconciliation of race.

Only that someone created by God with skin tone like me saw my face and corrected herself, at least for then.

She’d either been caught or recognized her wrong and although I know there’d be likely many, many years to be undone.

For a minute today, I saw her and I believe she saw herself.

My only regret is that his eyes did not meet mine, I’d love my notice of his surrendered situation to have met the notice in my eyes.

To have him see, not all of us are the same, none of us the same.

Not in every way,

But thankfully, some.

Sky and Bloom

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Cold in a way I had no idea, I removed the soft heavy blanket and because the birds had begun to sing, I turned and saw the sky behind me, bright with pink.

Longing to see more and to see with a more private view I ventured to the backyard.

Bare feet on crunchy frozen grass, my steps became a dance and rather than staring towards the sky I became captivated by the camellias.

Pink, I decide is the color of vibrance and optimism. Some petalled balls fallen from the branches and in varying stages of change, some clinging gloriously and a few yet to bloom.

I pray we don’t get the icy days we southerners disdain.

I pray the terminal frost that curtails the continued growth stays away.

Because, the camellias this winter have blossomed in grander and more undeniable ways.

Or is it my notice that has changed?

Has a sense of hopeful curiosity begun to enlighten my belief?

Changing doubtful speculation to committed curiosity over things that might finally be?

Things I believe are for me, abilities and opportunities designed by God.

I am beginning to trust it might be, that I will see.

Jesus has seen me and is pleased in my growing understanding of Him.

Mercy is becoming more than “Christiany” expression tacked on in hopes to gain acceptance.

Mercy, I am finally seeing.

Is for me.

Jesus, leaving Jericho heard the desperate cries of two blind men sitting on the side of the road.

Their sense of hearing compensated for their inability to see and so, they cried out loudly to Jesus asking for mercy. The crowds chastised them, these pitiful men positioned on their way.

How dare they ask to be seen, much less to be able to see?

Have you felt this way?

Felt that according to God and to others, you should stay in your place, why on earth would you believe there could be grander things to see?

The blind men must have been desperate, must have been shouting.

Jesus paused for them.

He asked them what it was they needed.

Jesus wanted to hear their deepest need.

“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yesterday, I sat anchored by weighted rice bags on my abdomen and thighs, the sense of settled safety, I was seeking.

I joined in my friend’s “Midweek Mindfulness” and loosened up the places where my stress had made its abode.

Anchored and waiting, eyes closed in meditation, I struggled to be still, to stay composed.

Surely, this will soon be over, I don’t know how much longer I can hold this pose and I can’t think of a single additional thing to let go and I’ve prayed my prayers and I’ve focused my focus…

Then she begins to speak of curiosity and I naively conclude she’s done this solely for me.

It actually could be.

I listen and decide curiosity is a worthy mindset, not one curtailed by pessimism or conclusions to my stories, rather a careful and hopeful, continuous pursuit.

The blind men could have chosen what they’d always chosen, likely just being careful to stay out of the way

Instead they decided to be brave, to be curious about Jesus and to give new sights a try.

This morning beckoned me out onto the cold January ground and led me to see beauty, not only in the morning sun but in the blooms fallen and fading making way for new.

I get emotional over a couple of lines in a pretty song. The voice is captivating, tender and true.

She makes a quiet and sure proclamation over her soul and unknowingly, mine.

She sings, “the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy!”

It is a tender song, inspired by the verses from the Song of Solomon, a book that reads like poetry, sonnets and splendidly passionate love.

Good to Me

What are the “foxes” in your vineyard? What present or past or based on your own predictions is set on stealing the joy you’ve begun to get a tiny taste of?

Exchange the sly intentions of the evil one committed to keeping you back for the mercy of the merciful one who asks.

What do you want me to do for you? Jesus

Speak of your need despite others silencing your curiosity.

Believe mercy will always meet it, always meet you.

Lift your eyes to the hills.

Your help will come.

Continue and believe.

I’m linking up with other writers at Tell His Story. https://marygeisen.com/in-the-middle-of-winter-guest-post/

https://marygeisen.com/the-one-word-that-almost-wasnt/

Noticeably Me

Continue and Believe

You see someone you know, it’s a happy and welcoming exchange.

There’s a little chuckle, there’s natural conversation and an I know you it’s okay exchange.

Then they say, I see a change.

I see you changing.

And you smile, you smile and your smile must surely be a bright beam of light towards the one you know, the one who knew you

You smile because you thought you were the only one who knew.

Continue and Believe

Truly, I can’t think of a word more beautiful than belief.

It is synonymous with so many good things.

Unbelief on the other hand pops up and asks ugly things like, Are you sure? What are you thinking?

What will people think?

How on earth will you be able? What makes you think you can?

I thought the oddest thought as I walked into the post office yesterday. It crept up and seemed sincere.

What you persist in will cause others to persecute you. What you continue to believe God is calling you to do will be doubted by others.

I googled persecution and I don’t think it’s quite that bad, the reactions of others, cynicism masked as concern.

I’m certain though, that it is meant to curtail my continuing.

Unbelief from others feels like a low grade persecution, a pointing out of faults, a resistance of acceptance and unbelief is really just fear.

Unbelief is insidious, Lord help me stop its spread.

Catch it quick, stomp out its embers,

Don’t let it let me burn only briefly and then slowly fade!

“The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Not As Before

I’ve made some decisions and haven’t turned back, took some chances and opportunities recently, things that are teaching me that not everything comes by chance.

Fortune shines on others more than me and

Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be…these were the truths I believed.

Being a believer of a God who is sovereign, who is in control, led to my conclusion that only just enough good could be for me and that as a believer in sovereignty I must surely stay in my place, must not seek more than a little, must stay anchored by doubt and by fear of failure, not trying at all because of the unlikelihood of success.

I intentionally handicap myself.

I’m beginning to learn from my children, adults who have most likely seen this in me all along but never called me on it, accepted my ways for this long.

I wonder how it feels for a child to see a parent finally coming into their own?

Close to 60 years old and becoming strong?

I wonder if they realize in their own way, they helped me here.

To this season of wanting my legacy to be more than the timid and tentative mama, they may have always known. The one whose thoughts were always deep and bent towards worry.

Here now because I want their faith in God and His goodness to be strong.

Several months ago, I lost control.

Headed towards an important event, we were “T-boned” by a crossing car and my car jumped it seemed into the deep ditch and the front end was crushed by a timely positioned pine.

The Labrador, my husband and me. He jumped from the passenger side and I screamed loud and long. It was a very odd and out of control sounding cry. It was fear.

My daughter answered her phone.

“Mama, are you okay? You are okay. You are okay. Now, stop crying, just breathe and calm down.

You’re okay.

Calm down.”

She called her brother. He called me.

Same reaction, the same level tone in a child of mine’s adult voice. It was the same assurance, same calm.

Control what you can control. my son

Months have passed and changes have been made, changes are on the brink of being announced, career, home, and faith.

Changes are taking place.

Last night, I gave up on watching “Ozark”. Intrigued by the young actor with the authentic twang, I told myself to try it again, watch something that at least causes thought.

Fifteen minutes later, I switch to a Julia Roberts movie simply because she’s beautiful and required less attention.

Told my husband I couldn’t watch, don’t want to go to bed with those thoughts.

Still, I was startled awake before light and had to shake off a horrific dream. I knew it was partly me to blame. I watched the gory scene, heard the horrific words, saw the actor’s fear and grief and evil exchanged.

I went over my average daily screen time. I ate extra spicy food and then had red wine and then topped it off with chocolate milk, Advil and crunchy peanut butter on a spoon.

I recalled the nightmare to forget and move forward. Remembering times before. I had the damaged perception to believe that bad dreams were God sent messages to me.

Messages like you’re still that wild and mistake making girl, you’re still the too attractive and easy for your own good young woman, you’re still the poor girl in the ill-fitting tops, you’re still the fat middle schooler in your brother’s husky jeans.

You’re still the woman in the pew unwelcome by the women who are already there.

I don’t think nightmares are for anyone’s good. If there’s nothing else I can control today, I will control this new truth, this new optimistic conclusion.

And I will carry it into my day, I am no longer living the trauma victim way.

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Hagar was a slave girl who followed along with circumstances that caused her to carry a label we today would most likely call “whore”.

I can barely type the word. You see, I’ve been called that before.

In the nightmare last night, I revisited that woman of before; but, she ran, ran, ran ironically away from a church and through the streets to find herself alone in prayer, her face to the floor.

She found God there.

She rose and she walked freely, more freely than before.

What mindsets have held you captive?

You are never in God’s eyes the person you were before.

If you have experiences that lead to nightmares, don’t succumb to the belief that these bad dreams are your restitution for your bad before.

Use the sense that God gave you. Combine it with good and trustworthy therapy and then add in what you know. Know what God knows and can control and then assert yourself to control

What you can control.

Your “resurrection power”, your “freedom living on the inside”.

You called me from the grave by name
You called me out of all my shame
I see the old has passed away
The new has come! Chris Tomlin

Be found in your wilderness, come forward to be seen and to be fully known.

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

My morning will not be boisterous with unwrapping, celebration won’t come until later.

Children are adults and we’re laid back and flexible, open and accepting. I’m anticipating the day, anticipating spirited appearances, nuanced moments of Jesus in it.

The angels told the shepherds not to be afraid when God’s glory illuminated the sky, an announcement of a Savior.

And Luke ends his beautifully researched compilation with the words of Jesus, again saying fear is something you should never feel.

Of what are you afraid today?

Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Luke ‬ ‭24:38‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What are you doubting on Christmas morning?

Everything changes at Christmas except for Jesus.

Jesus stays the same, do not be afraid.

Merry Christmas to you.

Do new things, you can and you will, I’m remembering now my mama, she came to me last night in a dream.

Angelic, she was as she waited for me and without a word guided my continuing, gave approval of my plans.

Finally fading into the distance after nodding, smiling, giving her okay of who I am.

A beautiful vision, angelic it seemed.

Do not fear, Lisa Anne. Do not be afraid.

Merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas to me!

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

The 21st chapter of Luke opens with four verses about generosity, about giving more than you might think you should or can.

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭21:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The remainder of the chapter is like a warning, a warning of how we should watch ourselves and not grow weary. Jesus told all who would listen about how we should live in the world without him until he returns.

“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” Jesus Luke‬ ‭21:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Verses like these often prompt sermons about our worldly life in light of eternity. Speakers and preachers ask us to look around, notice the events that could be warnings, ready ourselves for either eternity through our passing or His return.

Mysterious it is, another mystery of God’s plan in making us and earth; it’s up to us to know with all our hearts it doesn’t end here even if we can’t imagine how heaven will be.

Like the widow who gave her only coins without concern over how she might live, we are to believe in what we can’t be sure of, in what our human minds are too limited to comprehend.

We are too live with eternity in mind, both with anticipation and with self-examination.

Last night my grandson surprised me, called me over to the tree. He added two ornaments, pointed them out to me. The red and white candy canes are not at all consistent with my theme.

But, I’ll let them be, cause me to think about the red, the blood shed by Jesus for me, and the white representing salvation, peace, redemption. I’ll hum the old hymn, “Whiter than Snow”.

I want to live every moment mindful of your mercy Lord.