31 Days, Freely – Start

I’m good at neither rushing nor resting.

I concoct purposeful and passionate scenarios of diligent sticking to something and going long and hard without a break.

I imagine myself contentedly uninterrupted, a book in my lap.

But, both elude me.

Both take practice, commitment, a chance to see the benefit.

Going ahead without allowing hesitation or giving myself reprieve, permission to chill.

I’m sitting home alone, it’s Sunday and it’s sunny. The cool air of the night before has the rooms faintly fresher and the shift of the season quite clear.

Captivated by the book in my lap, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan and tea in a pretty cup, I told myself read a chapter and then go, write a chapter.

Seemed like a good plan, inspirational, my content might flow more freely.

But, I’m three chapters in and still reading. This is a gift, this is a pleasure I’d long thought gone, being pulled in and unable to set a thick book aside.

Now, I’m rethinking the ambition of writing new chapters or layering abstracted thick color on a new something I started.

Instead, I’ll keep reading and when my eyes get heavy, I might dose or I may rise to walk the trail before the sneaking up of sunset.

I may look for them again, the tiny blackbirds up high in an old oak or the surprise sighting of seven or so cardinals all gathered together, red dots bouncing and bobbing against the green.

What I have started I will finish, I’ll come back and I’ll continue.

Fearlessly, faithfully what has begun will continue.

“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Giving myself a little mercy, peace and love on a sunny Sunday.

31 Days, Freely – Search

And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Why do we wake up committed to seeking God? Because it is necessary to know Him, to sense Him.

Only through knowing Him are we able to know ourselves.

Distractions, obligations, the incessant in our faces knowledge of conflict and confusion.

Comments and contributions to subjects that pull us to jump in and join the fight.

It’s so hard to keep the peace.

To keep our peace.

So, I begin today before dawn remembering how I’ve found Him before.

And asking, real early and real honestly.

Help me to find you, Father, in my day!

And oh, I’m so excited to see what good in which places will come my way.

God is everywhere. Don’t forget to notice. me

I want to see you God, because I want to fully see me.

31 Days, Freely – When

“The monarchs are migrating.” I offered as if I knew anything at all about butterfly migration or Fall.

“It’s amazing how far they travel, they’re on the way now,” he added a foreign place I can’t remember and told me how he had read of their journey, how they were created to become beautiful and then to fly.

I know nothing about such things, I’ve only heard about this, I realize.

I sit with my feet in the sand in the place that was clear for us, a wide space, no other people in our space.

They kept flying near along with the dragonfly, landing or flirting with the possibility of resting near my chair.

I tried to capture the image, they only captured my fascination.

Walking, the next day before leaving, I saw another one there. This one, in the rubble of raked debris, just lying there.

The Lab was distracted as I bent to collect it, a small one, I kept it in my hand.

Knowing that it was landed there softly for my finding.

Knowing every little thing on my path is significant to my story.

Yesterday, we gave $5 to a woman with a sign. She reached through my window and I avoided her eyes, “God bless you today for this.” she said and then the light changed and I led us on our way towards food in the hungry and impatient line of cars.

My husband wondered about her worthiness and we both decided his observation might be right.

Then we chose to let go of our judgment, to let be what will be with her intentions, only feel sure ours were good and hopeful and done in love we certainly didn’t consider ever having for her at all.

Not her, nor the shaken young woman, mistaken somehow in her driving, causing our accident. It is best to love her although it makes no sense at all.

I woke this morning deciding not to judge her, nor the others who may have been off track, trying to get back on.

Deciding love is better, costs so very little at all.

When we choose love, people get the best of us, they get to see Jesus coming through because there’s no way we’d ever be so consistent with mercy at all.

“We love because he first loved us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m not able own my own.

When we love, we aren’t able to judge. When we really love, there’s no sense or room for judgment, at all.

31 Days, Freely – Ask

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭9:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We decided against the campus tour when we realized we’d most likely not make it in time.

It was the day after the unexpected, the unavoidable interruption of our day.

The journey and itinerary was wrought with unexpectedness, hurry, and hassle.

We were traveling for a special tradition, beyond excited in a nervous way, an unease that I thought was because of the getting to all the places on time, staying in step with regimented flow.

My son attends a military college. He is a Senior (thank you, Lord) and there would be the ring on his finger by the end of the day. Campus overwhelmed with scurrying excited and prideful parents for Parents Weekend.

We’d wear our fancy dresses, his sister and I, his escorts. He would wear full dress uniform. Two events in one day, we were on track it was gonna be stressful I told my husband, neither of us known for our “go with the flow”.

Pretty day and cool blue skies, we travel the back roads before the busy interstate, a well known path, an oft taken road.

I noticed in my approach, it seemed the driver was considering whether to go. The old sedan eased forward and rested and then, it seems the driver just decided to go.

I screamed, I believe. My foot found the brake and I made my car turn to try and get away, safely away and it pounded to a halt, stopped suddenly in the softness of a deep ditch. The front, the side, the tires splattered black and mangled. I sat and I cried, a scary moan of a cry.

I was afraid and because I couldn’t define just why, decide it’s the fear of missing my son’s big day and I cry and I can’t stop crying.

It seems an irrational thing but I feel irrational, I feel unable to define my fear over the intersection of possible loss of life and life.

My daughter on the same path but a different route finds us with her husband and they help us and it’s a discombobulated mess; but, we make it on through.

We are problem solvers, we make it work.

That’s how we roll!

We make the ceremony. We wear the fancy dresses, he gives us roses and we are good. We are fine.

We fill up the coastal weekend with other, good fancy breakfast, the ambience of dinner and the beach and the dog and shells, big unbroken shells we find.

Home now, I ask the question I asked before.

Why was she stopping, was she easing forward just to see for sure, or did she look once and not again and then, too late, her car crashes into my side?

Why was she tentative or was she distracted or was it as she told us, she never saw me at all?

I ask myself how and why and I’m curious how to measure a split second because it seems that could have made all the difference.

Whether she’d have waited

or continued on.

I hear the words to a song that remind me there’s no reason I shouldn’t now continue on.

It is entirely up to us whether we notice our chances and take them. It’s personal, after all, the believing we can or not believing at all. No one might ever know, whether we believe and take chances, whether we decide still to go, to try, to not simply say no.

Carry on calmly, LT.

There are more things to see, more places to be.

There are chances not to miss the way you have have missed them before, focus flitting towards future and making your every day present a blur.

Slow, steady now. You don’t have to be strong to be able. You don’t have to be wealthy to be willing.

Time and chance, pausing or going forward faithfully, these are encounters, opportunities and interchanges that will happen for us all.

Pace yourself, now.

Continue, carry on easily more aware.

Chance and time are in God’s hands.

Our hope endures.

Our hope endures the worst of conditions.

31 Days, Freely – Talk

It’s Saturday before dawn in a different house than our own.

I keep the dog quiet, keep quiet with him.

Similar routine, just a different setting surrounded by my same books and such.

Quiet, quietly we sit.

God is not found in multiplicity, but in simplicity of thoughts and words. Margaret Mary Hallahan

A coughing sound once and then again, we hope they’ll sleep just a tad bit more.

Because the birds are now talking, sounds like just two or three and the big brown dog shifts to follow, staring stoically towards the terrace as voices from early walkers seep in.

Then he sighs, he’s got me, no worries.

I’ve got him.

I quiet him, hold him steady with one foot over his hips.

He’s good again, we’re good and God is talking, we’re listening.

I’m taking notes, writing thank you’s and feeling loved.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us…”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

31 Days, Freely – Why

Day 4 of 31 Days of Writing, trying to be brief and light and think about “my why”. I remembered why in an old hymn, just the chorus.

“Let others see Jesus in you…”

It’s simple but it’s hard, I’m either focused and feeling faithful or I teeter on my own inconsistency to come back around and hopeful again, once again.

What is my why? …a provoking question often used to motivate or continue something begun hopefully or associated with a personal goal.

Why do I write? This one I’ve been pondering lately. Does anyone really care, isn’t my life quite fine without it?

It’s not at all necessary, not as noticed as needed to go someplace grander, more visible, more esteemed.

Someone suggested I write fiction, perhaps people are sick of the sorrowful stories of women who’ve been restored, redeemed, renewed. I was perplexed, set off course and wondered why a made-up story instead of my truth?

Maybe I could, I’m not sure I should. Maybe I will; but, only after I’ve written on why, why I believe, why I have hope now when I was so very hopeless before.

Why you should too.

Have hope.

In the back of a worn little book of Psalms and Proverbs, pages missing and places with corners turned down, there’s a note among other notes:

If I wrote a book it would be a long letter explaining why I believe in Jesus, in His love and in His mercy.

There are countless versions bound into books with more significant stories than mine.

Still, my why is mine.

Why I pause to pray when I could easily turn and go the other way. My knees find peace and my soul finds rest in the personal and private moments I am intentional and I choose to pray.

Why I open my mind to learn from His word, finding new understanding in ancient recordings that develop slowly, requiring discipline and distraction-free commitment of time.

Like the verse about the yoke and rest, I can see it now. I couldn’t take the steps designed for me by God if I didn’t stay in a simple and steady rhythmic walk, I can’t follow God’s path on my own, can’t carry my stuff for too long.

Why I’ve come so very far because of His mercy, yet realize I’ve so much further to go and why I am blown away that He considers me worthy of the cross.

Thank you, thank you for the cross.

Why I am astounded that He prompts me still to pray and that answers come and each time I am moved, so very moved by His splendid and sweet mercy.

Why I think the most important thing about me if there’s anything at all are in the words to this song:

Your life’s a book before their eyes
They’re reading it through and through
Say does it point them to the skies
Do others see Jesus in you?

I understand others seeing Jesus in me differently now than before, more a gentle light causing need for others to come near, to know more, to see a difference in me, my art, my words, my everything.

31 Days, Freely – Believe

My mama never kept a journal or to my knowledge, wrote thoughts in a Bible.

So, I can’t say I “get that from my mama”.

She’d rather speak her truths to you, long conversations with time in between her phrases to let what she’d given you sink in. Look you in the eye or leave something with you and look away, walk away like that’s it, now I’m puttin’ a period there.

I believe every single thing she ever said.

Lots of times there was no acceptable reply, either she’d put me in my place or I had to just keep my mouth shut and let the sometimes unwelcome truth sink in.

She was resilient.

She believed in the possibility of everything working out for good despite so much wrong she endured.

She rarely quoted scripture, just paraphrased God’s truths in her own no holds barred way. Some would call it irreverent, her language was generous with cuss words.

I don’t think she aspired to write and I rarely recall a book in her lap, she’d rather be one with people, one with life.

She talked about books in a different way, telling me “turn the page, Lisa Anne.” when I kept mulling over some misdeed or misfortune.

She was quick to give her commentary on all that might be wrong or someone’s crazy choices or just mean motives.

She’d say “They’re not reading the right book or they’re not on the same page.”

I know she had a Bible. I know because it was mine and towards the end of her days I noticed it moved from the stack of old Southern Living magazines to the place in front of her where she’d fall asleep with the noise of Fox news.

I know she believed. I know she wanted us all, the four of us to always believe.

To pray, believing more often than beckoning or begging.

To smile, thinking how far we’ve all come and how far she and daddy got to see us go and grow.

Yesterday, I had an encounter with someone who has changed. A distant person who acknowledged her resistance towards relationship, she stopped by to give me a book.

She had a cold, I’d had to same one, I shared. She let me hug her and she hugged me back.

We walked out and I told her she’d reminded me of a new favorite word, “countenance”.

She was puzzled, said she had never heard it before and I told her I thought it might be biblical but that it’s such a beautiful word, a beautiful thing to see.

I explained that it means to me, your sweet soul is shining through, the change in expression showing so pretty on your face.

She thanked me twice, and more.

I thanked her for stopping by.

Thanking her and God now for reminding me of my mama.

Reminding me to choose believing.

Believing God is so very good.

“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.””

‭‭John‬ ‭16:32-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And to “live life today”, and then tomorrow live and believe again as you “turn the page”.

My mama’s stubborn resilience and God’s unwavering and believable peace and grace, I’m believing in both today.