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.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

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

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

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

Committed and secure.

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

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

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

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

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

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

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

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

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

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

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

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

I said his name.

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

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

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

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

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

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

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

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

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

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

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

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

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

I prayed.

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

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

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

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

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

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

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

I thought the same things.

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

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Reason to Believe

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

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

You don’t remember the conversations.

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

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

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

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

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

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

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

Why such a setback?

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

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

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

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

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

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

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

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.

Grace and Tests

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will be a chance for new.

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

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

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

I’m still standing. I am well.

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

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

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

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

When it could have gone the other way.

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

I am well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wouldn’t let her remain unknown.

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

Be healed.

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

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:47-48‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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

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

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

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

Jesus knew that.

Knows the same with us.

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

Be transparent.

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

Fully known.

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

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

They brought me joy.

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

They are survivors.

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

His love never ends.

Provision won’t run out.

Nor does the grace he gives for endurance.

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

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now to research trees.

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

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

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

Tree experts say many mimosas don’t survive.

Yet, many do.

Strong.

Continue blooming.

Continue and believe.

Be Well

For a long time, very long time, we all remembered and talked about the time.

I’ve never been to New York City nor D.C.. I’ve never travelled by plane although I’m beginning to entertain the possibility, romanticize the big “6-0”.

I do remember the morning of 9/11. I remember I was at DFCS in my little square office with a window on a hallway with other “welfare” workers who I considered friends.

I loved working with these people. I did.

My mama called, the children were in school an hour away and I cannot remember whether we closed the office and all of us went home.

Eventually, I was with them, home and safe with my husband.

Changed, not because I knew anyone there nor remotely understood their trauma, fear, tragedy. I had no idea.

I have no idea.

Yesterday evening, social media informed me of the death of a popular young pastor and mental health pioneer,

By suicide.

I felt afraid because of his story, suicide and its occurrence is to me “scary”.

Because it’s happening more and because I’ve been with those who have been knocked down by the tragic reality.

I find it scary.

I’m following the journey of a child named Eva, in an induced coma now and it all started with a tumble to the ground, a simple fall.

Her mama wrote about hope this morning in her Instagram.

I began to think about life and hope.

About tragedy interspersed with triumph because it seems to me this is life in this world, in most of our worlds.

I remember my mama calling on 9/11.

I remember the morning my brother called to tell me my mama was gone.

The loud moan that came up from my belly that morning must have frightened my admin, the others in the office next door.

She was gone.

I had prayed so very hard she’d be healed. I had talked with her about faith and hope, brand new and uncomfortable things for me.

Things I thought were real, my mama’s death like a test I failed, my hope was either wrong or not enough.

I stopped believing.

Because, she was gone.

Mornings like that, losses and tragedies linger.

Tragedy is interspersed with triumph though.

This is life.

I believe it.

So, how did I continue, they continue…the ones for whom today brings fatal remembrances?

I believe we must choose as best we can with God’s help.

To be well.

Be the one who is able to say.

It is well. Even so, it is well. Even though, it is well. Although and even if, it is well.

I have this hope in God, in Christ Jesus.

It is evident.

Hope that says despite the very worst scenarios…

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭ESV

Not a vacant or mystical hope, there are reasons for my hope.

A baby I call “morning glory” because it fits, evidence of long and woeful answered prayers and a new sense of God being near me, of Jesus being personally acquainted with me, in spite of tragedy and triumph and every mistake , silly or serious misstep in between.

It is well.

Be well.

Decide to fight for yourself, to believe without the full understanding of why.

That God is sovereign.

And so.

It is well.

It is well with you.

And me.

All of us often out of rhythm, rocked by loss of life, out of kilter because of uncertain outcomes,

We are dwelling between two spaces, tragedy and triumph.

Reality.

But, glory, new glory comes every morning and often if you notice, it’s interspersed in the midst of moments.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Course Change

Does not wisdom call?

Does not understanding raise her voice? Proverbs 8:1

I heard them off in the distance and decided they were traversing through the warm fog towards the expected pond down the road.

I stood as the puppy followed his pattern, checking out the corner shrub, sniffing at the dirt; he is so slow in the mornings to do “his business”.

The sound of the geese came closer and I expected to see them fly over the four homes down subdivision.

Instead they were sounding very close.

I stood as the sound approached and there they were, two sets of geese perfectly positioned over me. So very close, I could see the pattern of their feathers and their soft curved bellies, their beaks breaking up the fog.

Two sets of seven or eight or so in their arrow design making their way to must be a new destination, course change, following new directions today.

The puppy scurried towards me and was startled, his little face looking up towards the sky as he hurried.

This is new for him, I thought; he has to figure out if he should run away or be okay, trusting their kind and sweetly patterned arrival.

Being safe and simply noticing.

Noticing God.

Like the random occurrence of the dragonfly perched on my cup poolside, it rested until I noticed and because I noticed, I captured it on my phone.

Someone asked, “You’re taking a picture of a dragonfly?”

I don’t believe I responded.

Because I had no idea the symbolism and I didn’t know how beautiful it and its traditional meaning would be.

Until this morning.

Until the meaning lined up with my prayer.

The Dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life.  This symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living in the moment and living life to the fullest.

I’m back to bedside prayers in the morning. To be honest it’s sometimes more like a long low downward dog pose, hoping for relief in the ache of low back.

I tumble from my bed to the floor determined to at the very least start well.

Start surrendered.

I think of the invalid who’d been so very close to healing waters but waited over half his life for someone to help him get well, help him from the ground into the water.

He waited to be noticed, for maybe someone to care and he used the excuses that well everyone else is beating me there, the line’s too long or perhaps, he felt the waters had lost their strength because of all the help they’d given everyone else…

Could there still be healing enough left in the water for me?

After all those years, he was paralyzed, not only his limbs but his mind and his soul.

Oh, man! I understand.

Stay where you are, settle in your place of thinking you can but never will.

“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.”

‭‭John‬ ‭5:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s no coincidence, the geese flying over, the visiting dragonfly and my different prayer this morning.

Lord, can my life truly be different? Help me live today in pursuit of the difference in me that only you know. Help me to be moment by moment today instead of rushing towards this evening, tomorrow or even next year. Can my life really be different? I’m willing to see.

I don’t think we know at all, even an ounce of what God might have planned if we are patient, persistent and willing.

I don’t think we see the magic and power of getting up from our “mats”… our places on the ground or the floor and embracing the change and changes God says are possible when we forget all the barriers, the doubts, the distractions and the pull of life backward or in unhealthy directions.

It may be slow. I’ll try to be steady.

I’ll go slow.

I’ll follow unknown paths perhaps.

Moment by moment, change will come and I’ll find myself in small yet surrendered places.

Positioned with Him because I moved from my worn out tattered and sad place and into the healing water.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Changed.

Testament?

My husband described it as a “testament”, my description of my day.

And I didn’t correct him. I knew he meant testimony. Hey, that’s progress for me, the not correcting of word mistake.

He wasn’t there on Sunday, he had been called to work. I shared with him once I settled in back home standing in the kitchen.

He was at a loss for words.

If I’m honest, he and others sometimes are surprised by me and so, I leave them with a task, figuring out what it is that Lisa wants them to say. (Enneagram 4 indeed, me) 😊

So, I texted him the copied post from my Instagram, expressing the joy of my “beautiful day”.

Here you go:

So, today was baptism Sunday at True North. I’d forgotten about it. I usually try to prepare myself for the emotions it stirs. I watched people publicly professing their Savior, Jesus and my gut began to stir, asking myself when, why not already? Did that this morning and then actually “took my thoughts captive”, thinking it hasn’t been the right time yet, you don’t need to know the reason. I’d told my family, I’m going to get baptized, I am…the first time I was a little girl, scared to death of God, knew who Jesus was, didn’t know Jesus!

Thank God for mercy and a country preacher, I gave my life to Jesus when my children were little. My path hasn’t always been straight; but, I’ve known him beside me. Grace has kept me and grown me beyond all expectations based on my past and the human in me.

So, today I knew I’d be baptized soon, I would and because of God’s great kindness it would be the right time. I was at peace.

The pastor surprised the church today at the end, the baptism waters welcomed me and close to twenty others. I, as you might know, love words. But, words failed me other than “beautiful day” “can’t even express it”…God’s powerful timing.

I don’t anticipate anything now other than God’s continued provision of His plans for my life. I’m no more perfect because I was baptized today, I’m still a learner. I’m still a listener. But, oh my goodness thank God I’m not who I was, not last year, last month or even…before church this morning.

Early morning, it felt like an odd prayer, I asked God to help me understand obedience. He answered in my Utmost devotion. Obedience is simply knowing we were created to live a life in pursuit of God, to choose holy every time the choice is ours. Today, I told HB when the surprising opportunity to be baptized was given “I got to do this.” I believe she said “I knew you would.” I can’t be sure. My emotions were high, the Holy Spirit was powerful, it was to be honest, overwhelming.

Thank you to those who came to greet me, who smiled from your seat, called from Charleston when you heard.

Thank you, Jesus.

#beautifulday #madenew #faithful19

A “Testament” he said,

Wow, what a testament.

I’m googling testament, curious over its meaning.

I find he may have been correct.

I was wrong.

tes·ta·ment
/ˈtestəmənt/

…something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event…

Yes, my testimony of last Sunday is indeed a testament.

A story worth retelling.

The Five Minute Friday prompt today is “testimony“, so many stories, one loving God.

https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/09/05/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-testimony/

Light Remains

Has your path left a long shadow behind you of late?

When you look back at before do you see only the grey, the narrow thinning of your best days?

This is not the case.

We rarely see the places our light remains. This, I believe is always always God’s intent, we don’t have to see it, see Him to know the light in us is never dimmed.

We don’t have to know the places the light he gave us remains.

Maybe that’s grace that says this is humility.

Maybe it’s mercy that says there’s new every morning, let’s move forward.

Some days I skip the Old Testament passage my guide tells me is for today.

Not today.

Job 29 and 30 is Job’s defense, his argument with God. I suppose you might say it’s sad.

But, it’s honest.

Job is recalling his standing amongst others, the way people responded to his walking by, the commitments he made to others and followed through. Maybe you’ve been in a similar place. Yesterday, God positioned me with a woman of faith, we caught up and she assured me she’d sensed some recent changes had been uneasy.

We were in agreement, God grows us up in those seasons, helps us not fight for our reputations, to sit in silence and let Him lead.

While I’d never compare my life to Job’s, I learn something new each time I turn to his book. Today, it wasn’t the inventory of all his good he reminds God of in these chapters. It was to me a couple of verses I think may have been his lasting peace.

His memories of the way he was with others. This cherished. What Job remembered being, doing, believing it was good.

“I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭29:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What a beautiful thing, to have changed the environment or lessened someone’s pain by being near.

Yes, this is enough.

More than.

My friend and I talked about the enemy yesterday too.

How revelations like the one above will try to be dulled by gossipers, questioners, disputers and even our own doubts about your heart and soul’s intentions.

We are human, we get drawn towards bitterness and hurt. We learn as we go, hard times increase our faith.

It’s the soft light of our faith that will remain in the same way it did in other former places.

God’s light is ever slow to dull.

I am so thankful for Job. He teaches me every single time. God is always good.

Always.

Always faithful as we endure for the sake of His plans not our own.

Linking up with other FMF bloggers on the prompt of BACK

Five Minute Friday

#thecolorsofmybible #butforhisgrace #faithful19

Unhindered

I’m curious whether musicians, singers, sculptors and dancers do the same.

Find little pockets of chance to create unhindered by the approval of audience or observer.

“Elizabeth’s First Autumn”

I walked with my baby grandchild and we talked about the leaves. Her eyes told me she was listening when I stopped to gaze on the brilliant color against the still spring like green.

I asked myself,

How does God decide which colors become the most brilliant and in what order and why do some take longer to turn.

I knew the answer, it’s how the sun lays down its warmth on the leaves, how they position themselves.

Same with us, same with me.

I’ll turn towards the light to become God’s idea of brilliant.

If not past years, this one, something is saying to me.

You’re coming into brilliance!

Take your time, keep exposing yourself to me.

Let the change in your colors come naturally and without force or calculation.

Nurture your creativity.

It is your treasure to be shared.

I find I’m painting/writing in this way.

I return to the place of ease and flow whether it be pencil and pad or canvas and easel.

This way, I’m not painting or writing and all along pondering the possibility of rejection.

It’s a practice, this non-demanding creativity.

A worthy practice. Pure abandonment in process and completion.

Unhindered.

I take it with me today as I complete three requests for art.

Today is an art day.

What is your creative expression?

Be unhindered, get it down on paper or hands messy in the clay or paint or across the keys or strings.

God made us to make beautiful things!

Rest on Saturday

This “microblog” on insta seemed to resonate with a few so I’ll share here: (Happy Saturday!)

Flakes and Banana Simply

Saturday without shame. Is there anything sweeter and more reminiscent of being a kid than cereal flakes floating in creamy milk with little round banana bites?

All of my life, food has been a battle.

Eat too much, eat too little, eat everything or nothing at all, carb shame and protein shakes, don’t eat too late, don’t skip meals…you might know the drill.

Y’all this morning, I’m finding beauty in a bowl of cereal because why in the world would I allow food to be a battle when we live in a world with so many very real battles, battles of the heart, battles of the enemy for our souls. We make progress in our walk with Jesus and then get pulled away causing us to question whether we’re good enough and even worse whether God really loves us at all! That’s why he calls us to stop striving, stop adding stress to your already load, rest.

I used to write “trust” on my wrist or doodled wherever I’d find space, I’d jot down TRUST. But for me, it’s softening now, this change towards Jesus. It’s less like instruction and more like invitation and less self-condemnation and more of me honoring the reality of my salvation.

It’s less rigid persecution of me by me and more giving what I can and being okay with not knowing where it goes.

It’s “Sit back and rest, Lisa. I’ll take you where you need to go.”

The places I wrote trust, I’m writing REST.

It’s finishing my cereal without regret over not having a veggie omelet.

PS…if you’re a newsletter subscriber, tomorrow I’m writing about Jeremiah’s warning of trusting our hearts. I hope I can do him justice, it’s a very interesting subject/passage.

#lifetothefullest #faithful19 #thecolorsofmybible #rest

Encumbrances

I like words that make you feel their meaning, words like “encumbrance”.

Words that cause pause, make you want to be sure you honor their meaning.

I told my husband what to say to the puppy and how. “Good Boy” or “No”.

Same tone I told him.

“Don’t make him cower.”

“Cower?” He paused and then understood.

I like words. That’s why I like that he calls me an enigma. It’s descriptive, a little mysterious.

Me.

I landed in the word encumbrance in devotion this morning. Accurate and timely in a time I find myself intentionally less burdened and more aware of useless stories of shame.

When I read encumbrance, I can almost see myself bent over and trying to trudge on exhausted and hopeless with my carried way too long bag full of bad choices and less than certain trust.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Where I walk has lots of hills and turns and the steps back home are up a final steep hill. I push myself til I’m done, sometimes try to jog it. Rarely do I just ease back home. I want to finish strong, get all the benefits of the exercise.

I like the message it teaches me, yeah you made it back home, you finished today’s walk; but, your walk has only just begun and so the steep hills and the struggle causing curves, keep taking them, they are good. They are teaching you to endure and to throw off the heavy holding you back things…the thoughts that say oh, it doesn’t make a difference anyway and the physical choices that make you not fit, lazy and unable, body and soul.

God wants us to be able to keep climbing higher, he knows we gotta be lighter, we gotta let go of our encumbrances, our heavy loads.

Less us, more Him. Less heavy junk like shame and worry and more freedom from constant prayer and trust. He wants endurance from us, finished races and joyful victories are what He purposed us to see.

#finishwell #thecolorsofmybible #quietconfidenceartandword