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.

Breakfast, Dreams Unsettled and Possibility

I’ve only scratched the surface, understanding who I am. Some things I’ve settled on being done with, the unsettled traumas no longer unsettling me. I’m not settled, though, on all I’ve yet to see, what God made me for, possibility.

Before I went to the kitchen cabinet I remembered, I didn’t buy the cereal.

I woke up this morning and laid quietly anticipating my decided on Raisin Bran with banana swimming in creamy white milk.

I’d be on the second cup of dark coffee made the color of soft wheat with my half and half cream and a tiny bit of honey.

Raisin Bran is my favorite. It had been years since I had allowed my treat. After having just what I wanted for breakfast yesterday, I made up my mind to do it again.

Sigh, I took the other road, I bought the cardboard textured granola.

I settled.

This is not unique to me, this deciding something less is better for me, deciding I’ll just stop here, only the small good things were meant to be mine.

It is not unique to me that under the layers of self-critique there resides untapped potential, joyous possibility.

It was good and better for me. My rebellion towards sugar only slightly compromised already today. It was good, the granola.

Many years ago, my diet was deprivation. I survived on lettuce laced with mustard and then blew it out by Thursday on keg party beer and Krystal burgers. The memories are not pleasant. I’d love to frame them funny, just not possible.

Now I allow what I want on occasion and I don’t diet harshly or with rigid expectations. I may be close to deciding the 15 pounds I’d like to lose, been talking about it for a few years, have settled, they might be the allowance of grace I need to give me.

Other settling?

Art, book, health, career…I’ve not achieved as much as others here. I’m heavy on the ideas and light on the sticking with them.

Not settling, just waiting and maybe accepting.

Yesterday, I got an email rejection in regards to a story I’ve written about my grandmother, edited three times and sent three separate places now.

What am I to do with these sweet words? I really don’t know. I have so many it’s crazy. How do you settle with them never going anywhere. Writing is hard. I’m not sure why I’ve not quit by now.

Take Me To The Water

Last night after dinner I returned to the large canvas. My daughter had an idea for a painting she’d love over her bed.

Try, try again I did. Covered over covered layers and wiped the whole canvas one color. Again.

“Have I forgotten how to paint?” the familiar aching question.

I stayed at it, kept adding color and layers and I did not quit until I could snap a pic and send to my daughter.

“Beautiful”, was her reply and then that she knew I could sell it and that I should and it shouldn’t be hers for free.

But, it will be if she loves it in person. It will live in the home of she and her husband, their daughter. I won’t find another canvas and recreate it. No, this will be hers.

I don’t want her to settle.

I’m not settling on the small things any longer. I’m having toast with my cheesy scrambled eggs and dark chocolate with almonds in the evening with red wine.

Deprivation to me leans toward punishment. I do love to call myself out. Self-critique over my lack of writing progress is defeating. Pondering perfection based on the price haggled over for painting, so exhausting.

I’ll return to the easel now and I’ve jotted down new thoughts for the book idea. Both, more storytelling and less audience seeking.

And maybe for lunch, I’ll have a Peanut Butter and Jelly, just a half of sandwich on the crusty bread, crunchy peanut butter spread with sweet fig preserves.

I’m believing the wisdom of Psalms and beginning to want to know it full well. I’m choosing to savor everything and be satisfied in the truth that I have only barely begun to know the me made by God.

Good Settling

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s some freedom for me there. In the uncovering of my layers. There’s all sorts of unsettling of my thoughts, my days, my offerings to others.

May it be the same with you.

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.

Us With Others

img_8659.jpg

My Bible is open for the first time in almost a week and I’ve found the scriptures’ take on an expression I went to bed with.

I had been thinking of how I’m perceived, in a crowd of strangers who don’t know me, amongst artists and shoppers, women, their children.

For the first time in the bulk of my years it wasn’t about my shoes, my hair, my jewelry, my purse, or even my perfume.

I’ve been without my favorite scent called “Happy” for a bit and so the scent on a not so clear and cool day? I’m hoping it was “Dove” laced clear and clean aroma.

Most of us want to be found “worthy” of good things, pleasant to be with, able to hold a good conversation.

We want to have comparable lives to the ones we are with.

We want to be okay being with most everyone.

Before sleep last night I followed a thought trail to the question of what it means to walk worthy of Christ.

What a life that throws out all other measurements of worth held by society and individuals and simply is focused, content, and well, really just happy to only have one assessor of worth so to speak.

Then I wondered how walking worthy would really look, not me looking at me, but others’ views.

The Book of II Corinthians has four chapters spread across two pages in my Bible.

On the left margin I’ve sketched what looks like a steep hill going up a curve and towards a tunnel. I must’ve been reading Paul’s words about how we may think we are irrevocably affected by our pasts.

But we have lives resurrected, we have hope.

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are some things I shouldn’t have survived. Before, I questioned how and why I made it through. Now, I’m quite certain my present life, the nearness of God, is the reason.

On the right hand margin, there’s a sketch of what I’ve begun calling “margin girls”.

This pencil sketch is an early one with no color and at her feet, I’ve drawn a clay pot and a beautiful rose.

As Paul continues his writing, Chapter 2 is about triumph over our pasts. This is the place where the verse lives that describes what our walk is when we believe, what our aura and aroma will be amongst others.

He also owns his own horrible and murderous past and writes that if we’ve been forgiven, the best thing we can do is to forgive others as well.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It occurs to me now, I used the word “peddler” just last week as I described how I detest convincing, imploring someone through my own neediness that they need to purchase a painting.

” Peddlers”, I think of insincere and unconvinced vendors.

That’s not who I want to be, when I offer up my belief in Jesus as something others are open to believing.

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No, I share the meaning behind the layers in a piece and onlookers are captivated, drawn closer, decide they’d like to own what God has helped me create.

The idea of the painting, the aroma of Jesus in me, inviting curiosity, not unpleasant.

If I’m found worthy, I want to be found a gentle, confident, pleasingly consistent scent of grace and mercy, salvation through my belief in Jesus.

Years ago, two or three, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me

This is your treasure…your art and your writing.

I was thrilled to be found worthy of such a calling! Impressed that I had progressed to such a place, excited…okay, finally it’s my big break kind of thinking.

But, I’m learning slowly, a treasure is small at first and may never be grand or spectacular at all or in an earthly way.

Instead, the treasure only increases in worth when it’s given back through uncertain and timid hands to the one who made it after all.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The thing about God and His teachings through the words of people like Paul is that we don’t understand it fully all at once.

Over time we ponder what is the aroma of Christ that those around me should sense?

What does it really mean to be clay in the potter’s hand waiting to be made into a vessel in which can rest our undeniable faith?

What does it mean to discard all self and others’ assessments of our ability and worth and walk only with one goal.

I want to walk worthy of the God who gave His Son and gifted me through grace to have the Spirit of Jesus in my own very soul. I want to live worthy of this, nothing more.

I suppose if their were a new scent, maybe the Clinique scent called “Happy” I loved so much before, I’ve outgrown.

I’d wear a new aroma, one called “Content” if I owned another pretty bottle.

How are your growing, measuring your worth and your worthiness?

Are you content?

Are you learning?

Content in not suddenly complete and completed?

Content in the balance of caring for the treasure of you, the treasured things you were created to share.

Continue and believe.

You are God’s treasure.

Keep learning.

No Notes

I’ve misplaced yet another good pen. The lead in the mechanical pencil isn’t working, keeps slipping from the cylinder.

Is that what it’s called? Cylinder?

The part, under the pressure of my thumb and an erratic clicking to yield the grey lead?

Probably hid the pen from the puppy, yet another thing inedible eaten.

My journaling ritual,

Habitual or healing?

I barely made a note on this blessed stormy morn, just repeated the word “surrender” and circled, circled, circled.

It’s day 7 of 40. When I get to 41, I’ve decided I’ll circle “surrender” again.

It’s an unending thing.

Not specific. It covers what’s needed, encircles it all.

Twice since yesterday I’ve heard things that are more than enough, simply profound, stand alone philosophy and determined mindset.

My grandma used to say “pass and re-pass” meaning get along with others and my mama always said things like “pick your battles”, “turn the page” or “don’t stress”.

It really is a wonder she found words to encourage us. She was tormented by life and at times, my father.

Then there’s my aunt, who is now my mama. “Prayer and Patience”, her answer for life, for everything.

A mother who had a daughter die. She lives by the “2 p’s”.

My father, on the other hand was a man of hardly any words.

He abhorred nasty and condescending puffed up men.

He was kind to the often downtrodden in need of a cheap six-pack on Sunday people.

He always told the truth.

He just kept trying.

Told us “tell one lie, you gonna have to tell another”.

Occurs to me now, this may be why I’m so honest with others, getting better at honesty with myself.

Back to the two things:

1. Fear always stems from and centers itself around what we love most.

2. Strength is found in weakness.

My greatest fears have always been related to the loss of something, usually someone I love greatly.

My weaknesses are ironically where my strengths are after fifty plus years, emerging.

Bursting.

Too sensitive? I don’t think so anymore. I’m owning my sensitivity, calling it observing.

If fear is a result of loving fully, give me fear in abundance because I want to love with all I got from here on.

No notes needed for either.

Know your “weakness” fully engage it and encircle your fears with like a ginormous comforting hug.

That sounds/reads ridiculous.

Oh well, it’s Saturday and I’m too comfy to find a pen for journaling.

Thus, the unraveling is here.

We do not know what life will bring us.

Even Jesus asked His Father God for other options.

Jesus was human amongst humans til his thirties.

He loved fully, knew fear. Taught fairness, non-judgment, honesty and love.

He knew his life had a purpose but hoped there’d be a less tragic demonstration.

He asked to be excused three times from the ultimate demonstration of love.

His disciples were with him in the Garden. His only request of them, stay awake, I will be pleading. I will be asking My Father if my death is His will or if there is some other way to make heaven possible for all.

They slept while he prayed and then he told them again, be vigilant, my death is coming.

It wasn’t His Father’s plan that he avoid a sacrificial death. The bitter cup would be His.

“saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:42-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We don’t know what life will bring us, what we will be forced to endure, when freedom from endurance will be delivered.

We only get to choose whether to see fear as a sign of love, weakness as the soil for the strongest seed waiting for water.

Everyone has a story.

This I believe. Will continue.

No notes needed.

I’m not an expert in theology and don’t anticipate late in life education of the seminary sort.

What I know is life is a teacher. God is my life’s author.

I can believe from here.

No notes.

No pen needed.

God’s Peace, You are Free

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s exactly as surprising and joyous as they say, being a grandparent. Some may say, it’s what I’m learning, an infant requires of your attention, a full percent and it’s never a demand, it is a precious gift.

Complement it with an idyllic setting, open field, blue sky wide, leaves changing colors and a quilt on a back porch situated perfectly for a breeze.

I sing with abandon. She listens, smiles. The acoustics are so good. My voice carries. God is near.

Being a grandmother, big chunks of uninterrupted peace. My granddaughter is privy to God’s refining of me.

Perhaps, it’s her and God’s idea.

How can I keep from singing your praise?

I welcome the unlearning of the traumatized me, I acknowledge it may take a bit.

I envision clarity like a treasure I bring up to my chest or it’s a tug of war, the big mean boy grabbing at what’s mine and me, scared of being overpowered.

I used to give it away.

Now, I’m angry over its thieves.

My little bit of peace and clarity jerked from my arms and the aggressor running away, turned back towards me, sneering and laughing his ass off!

I’d have used asterisks for the s’s but I decided not to veil the truth of this thought and image, the abusive act of my peace being stolen.

In the dim light of day as a way of escape, a rescue for my hurting heart came this morning.

The answer?

All things are possible with God.

I thought it over and over.

This! This is real.

Not with self-care, not a new counselor, not a community or “tribe”, not a webinar or self-help book.

Not some instructor, well intentioned but profiting from my naive determination shadowed by doubt and discontent.

These are the things that draw me in, make me prey to promises only God and I together can fulfill.

Bold revelation, you may say.

When I write this way, I’m a little worried and then I decide someone else may need to explore this, this self-handicapping behavior, this lesson in knowing our weak places, being uncomfortable with settling there.

The closer we get to God’s gracious idea of us, the more miserable we are wearing any other garment or expression.

Clarity came and may be the less traveled road to peace.

This leg of my journey will lead to peace.

A rarely talked about truth for victims of trauma, I’ve heard it spoken many times by my kind and skilled counselor friend.

People return to negative patterns because this is familiar, this is safe. The sometimes unhealthy behaviors are the most fail-proof remedy we know.

Thankfully not return to allowing physical trauma, more the insidious spread of subtle abuses to self, the power of our thoughts, our mindsets that

Sabotage our freedom.

Compile all the days you lived under the thumb of something or someone, succumbing to the control, manipulation or unfair, cast aside treatment by something or someone.

The undoing doesn’t just happen like the snap of a finger and thumb.

Take it easy on you.

Then do two things, Lisa Anne.

Now that you understand what you’re doing, be grateful not debilitated, give yourself grace.

Stop seeking validation, support, or yet another conversation in which you expect another human to fully understand your distress.

It’s not possible and it’s not their place or fault.

Your wounds and your beautiful hopes are far too deeply layered for another human being to understand.

Something about early morning, God always speaks as if to say:

I filtered your fears overnight, here’s what’s left, the sure thing you must now know. All things are possible with me.

This place God has brought me to, saved me from, kept me safe…how on earth could I think it’s possible to continue on my own?

I jot the “Jabez prayer” every morning.

“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Today, I added little check marks next the lines in the beginning: I’ve been blessed, check, I’ve had my territory enlarged, check!

The last two things, I am still very much in need of, keep your hand on me God, keep me from self-harm, the thoughts that betray me, so that I won’t revisit, get caught up in my pain.

You see, I spoke of newfound freedom, the choice to live with hope not remorse. I made it seem so easy.

Yet, I didn’t give a thought to the multiple layers of harm that very hope would have to fight daily with the devil to stay real every minute.

The one thing just a glimpse of freedom will give, a strong and renewed will to fight hard against repeated entrapment!

An awareness that it is hard not to be a victim when you were one for so long.

It is hard not to be who you were.

Almost impossible.

It’s easier to be weak and manipulated than to be newly strong.

I boasted of hope, forgot I am not able on my own.

God is my counselor, my advisor, my strong encourager of looking forward not before.

This is not a grim post, only honest. I’m afraid honesty’s in my bones, got that from my father, God rest his quiet soul.

I rise now to continue the things He started in me, blessed me, continues to enlarge my territory through happy brave opportunities.

I’ve designed a 2020 calendar, available soon, each month, an image of a woman strengthened by hope and God.

(Hope to share by next week, tell you more about ordering.)

Some told me they were proud of me, well intentioned comments and I suppose make sense.

What I’m doing though, is just following through on a God-planted seed, an idea, God’s work through me.

Please don’t be proud of me. Together, let’s be proud of God.

I rise now to clean my “art and writing room”, to ready it for what is possible today.

Are you a victim of trauma, physical or emotional abuse?

My thoughts…be strong, believe in your freedom; but, don’t walk it out alone, without the one who knows you completely, God.

“Jesus looked at them and said,

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Believe. Continue and believe.

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.

img_7635

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.

img_7726

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.