Such Peace

The air is cool and there’s the sound of drizzle that’s not rain, just the dripping down of its remnants in the branches and needles of the pines.

I hurry the puppy, “Go”, coaxing him to do his business and he goes, knowing my feet won’t be walking out any further.

I wait.

The thing my husband has positioned by the fence that borders the pool, a wind gauge or whatever is only twirling slightly as if God’s hand is near.

Something I can’t see is brushing the fan blade that propels the flat tin, a decorative piece.

Maybe it has a function, no idea.

This wind gauge was gifted to my father in law. His son brought it home.

I wait, cold.

The turning of the metal windmill gauge type thing now rhythmic in its pattern.

The light from a neighbor’s yard giving me a patterned silver glint, the light shine compels me, I stand still.

Expectant.

The pattern.

At peace.

Found this morning after all sorts of ways it’s felt stolen.

We long for peace at Christmas, expect it, I’ve decided.

My husband can’t repair the laundry door I slammed from the hinge by accident.

The puppy ate the remote and some Christmas ornaments.

Some people I love have some things not falling into place.

They’re impatient and because I love them, I’m impatient too.

Things like this happen at Christmas. my husband said.

And we’re frustrated and worried and we wrongly equate our anxieties over scarcity and over money.

What we are really pondering is.

Where is my peace?

Where is the peace that came at Christmas? I thought I knew it so much better this year.

Is it in your space now, your world?

Is it possible?

Do you need a reminder somehow?

Maybe hoping God could send you an angel to confirm what you believe of Christmas?

I’ve said before, I’m no expert at scripture. I open my Bible and I’m intrigued by a passage, a verse, a document describing others and God.

Gideon didn’t think he could do what he’d been chosen to do.

The Book of Judges begins on page 200 of my Bible. That’s enough to tell me these are ancient words about Israel, about other gods, about anxieties back then over how to be saved.

Gideon names the place the angel answered his request to be sure of His calling.

The Lord is peace.

This is the place he decided to believe in the Lord, to believe in a peace worth pursuing.

“Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.”

‭‭Judges‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m certain I won’t find peace in any venture I strike out on on my own. I won’t find it in a crazy gift exchange family gathering and I won’t find it in my world, the world of overly energetic puppy, tech issues with my TV, calendars I’m trying to sell, orders for paintings, manuscripts that need editing but are stagnant because I’m afraid to try again.

No, I won’t find peace in any of this.

“And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing.”

‭‭Judges‬ ‭8:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I will find it in the places I’m met by it, find it in my pursuit.

Find it in the places I bring it with me.

Hope others feel it to.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I will find it in what I believe. That it’s true God chose a baby to save us. It’s true that Jesus walked among imperfect people like me and that he loved them the way he loves me, you too. That it’s true this world is angst and trouble and hurry and mean people. It’s true that He is peace.

The baby, the Savior.

Nothing else will do.

Is such peace.

“ I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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.