The room, the little corner behind the sofa where she sews and sits was spiritual, the window towards the water, a warm aura.
The pauses between her words.
“Comfort” “Special” “This is special.”
“Oh, Lisa, these colors.”
I just listened, smiled, watched her hands turn the pages, fingers starting on the corner edges to move slowly down before turning.
I heard her soft sighs.
My aunt, the one known for the phrase “prayer and patience”, was moved by my book, “Look at the Birds”. It was a different response than I expected.
God with us in the room.
A study I’m doing on freedom prompted a thought last week, a question,
“Think back to a time when, because of a family member or friend, you felt seen and known…and truly loved.” In Touch Ministries, Freedom Guidebook.
I added my answer.
“Her hands on the pages felt as if she was caressing me. Her love for who I had become and seeing her being moved by what I was able to do, as if to say, I’ve been watching, praying, loving and now I see you becoming who I knew you were made to be.”
“Aunt Boo” the verbal and physical expression of God’s affirmation.
A children’s book written to help others know their value is just one of the many little things that is changing me.
I pray changing others.
2 year old Elizabeth does this thing now of let’s put all the babies and bunnies and blankets on the floor. “Lay down, Grandma, lay down.” and the fixing of covers and “babies” becomes a distraction from napping. She held “Look at the Birds” today. We didn’t read it. (No way, that might lead to napping). But, she turned the pages and still loves the hawk most of all.
Lots of people think I wrote this book for Elizabeth. It’s just not so. I’m happy she’ll know her grandma wrote a book. But, this book is for all children and babies. It’s my hope every little hand that holds it and listens to “you are worth more” will never ever forget that truth.
Yesterday, I got a message. A child in foster care carried this book to their new home. I pray it’s read often to him by someone. I don’t know this child. I know the special person who gave him a book.
I worry I’m not so good at this book marketing, spreading the message/promotion.
I promise, the knowing I had a part in helping a little boy in foster care believe he is loved.
It is enough, more than.
(The book is available in lots of places. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target,Walmart and my website, http://lisaannetindal.me )
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV
I hope my hope keeps growing.
I hope others see hope in me, my book, my words, my art.
The subject line in the email was “I Wrote a Book”, and I attached a bio with background, art and a few words expressing I hoped the recipient and her family are well.
I’m remembering now my first years working with homeless families. She was our emcee and it was one of best fundraisers in history. Her beauty, poise and sincerity added to the success.
Over the years, she remained engaged with our agency and I had many opportunities to talk about tough things on her show.
This would be different. I “go by Grandma” now.
The morning of the Skype call, I moved slowly towards the time, I arranged the room and realized there’d be a toddler nearby. I thought of canceling. Instead, we talked about it, my granddaughter and I.
I moved her coloring pad and crayons to her parents’ bathroom. I changed from my uniform (exercise leggings and T-shirt) to a blouse in my daughter’s closet.
My granddaughter stood beside me as I curled my hair and then added mascara, blush, etc.
The interview began and she played with her “babies” close by.
I was worried about Skype, about the wrinkles on my neck, about my hair because my daughter had no hairspray, about talking too fast or too slow, or too much.
And some of these things are evident in the interview.
More evident though, is the graciousness of Jennie Montgomery, the peace God gave me, the joy over art and more than anything at all.
The surprise of my own voice as I spoke clearly of being loved by God.
The legacy I hope this book leaves, Lisa Anne Tindal is both strong and vulnerable,
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT
On Monday I happened upon this stack of rocks while out walking with my granddaughter.
I asked, “Did your mama do that?” She replied with an answer like a song, “uh-huh!”, a big smile and a tilted nod.
Then she commenced to rebuilding, working to rearrange the balance, to add a small stone to the middle and to substitute new rocks for what her mama had built. Satisfied after a few minutes, she left the rocks, similar but not her mama’s stack. She made a new one.
I thought of the joy of the simple activity, the modeling of what she’d seen and the way her perspective was a little different.
Purest intentions, no comparison, not destroying what her mama built, only deciding…hmmm, I think I’ll try.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
Earlier, I searched for this verse. God had awakened me to consider the condition of my heart, to understand why it’s so important to guard it. Why it is not always beneficial to rely on my thoughts born of an aching or angry heart.
Rather, to trust in the Lord with all of my heart, not to lean on my understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
A heart that is divided, split up into separate rooms inhabited by fear, anger, doubt, dread, jealousy, strife, bitterness, seemingly innocent suspicion or comparison.
A heart like that can’t bring clarity, doesn’t give God enough space to illuminate it, to defuse the dark.
A deceitful heart is one unchanged by Jesus. A deceitful heart is the heart of human intent, not one guided by the holiness of the invited Holy Spirit in.
The heart unchanged by the belief in and acceptance ofJesus Christ is hard and prone to conspire and conclude negative things.
A deceitful heart is a heart that’s forgotten goodness.
I sat in the Target parking lot eating Chick-Fil-A and noticed the shoppers arriving or leaving.
Two spaces over, a man sat alone. I presumed waiting. I could say he was sullen; but, maybe just settled. Waiting for someone, patient or maybe just not wanting to wear his mask.
A woman with green hair passed in front of me, short like mine but a neon pine green. She was dressed in shorts and nothing matched.
Earlier, the loud boom of speakers shook my car and others as we eased to the place where we’d be given our food. The young man had taken my spot in line and I thought to make his mistake known but thought to let it go.
I heard him remark to the cashier, “A girl like you don’t like tattoos…” and I watched her young face drop with an emotion I can’t name.
Maybe embarrassment or excitement, I can’t say.
My mind is not privy to what the heart of another might believe.
I sat and watched the Target shoppers a minute more, people of different races, different beliefs, different orientations, different longings, different fears, different staunch determinations.
It occurred to me then,
who are we to believe we can change people?
The heart after all is human, human in nature, not intended by God to be so, but bent towards sin.
Today I pray, “Change my heart in the places that are growing dim. Lighten my thoughts, my fears, my speculations. Remind me of your Spirit within. Guard this vessel of mine that before a single beat, you decided would be a preciousplace for you. Because of your great mercy, I say, Amen.
Guard my heart so that it guidesmy thoughtsand responses to those around me.
John 10 ends with a verse of consolation. Following much dispute over the validity or blasphemous behavior of Jesus as well as the loving words He used to explain the purpose God gave him, to be our Good Shepherd, not the hired hand who’d mislead or neglect us. Chapter ends with “the one thing” that is needed, belief.
“And many who were there believed in Jesus.” John 10:42 NLT
It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.
The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.
He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.
I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.
Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?
Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.
Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.
God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.
I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.
So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”” Genesis 16:13 ESV
In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.
“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.
It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.
It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.
I drive the trio of two lane roads to my morning destination, a right turn, a right turn and another and a final sharp right that leads me on clay road with deep moss covered ditches holding up deeper rooted trees.
I think of my children. Mamas of adult children do this, just are less apt to share so much.
More inclined to keep the thoughts to ourselves as if we’re not supposed to have them.
I think of the vast differences of the two, a daughter and a son. Different locations, one like the mouse called country and the other called city.
Likeness in their initiative, their determination, their deeply instilled must have passed from parents and grandparents, work hard, work is a representation of you.
It’s an odd thing to want to quell honorable ambition, to encourage them not to do too much, to not exhaust themselves.
Hard because you remember the you they saw as a professional, the little girl and boy who didn’t quite understand it all maybe, just knew their mama worked hard at hard things.
So, you encourage self-awareness, you hint at balance, you warn of self-care and of being certain you know it’s not work that gauges your value, it is peace at the end of the day and again the next morning.
My mornings have a pattern now. Read something in my Bible, sip coffee, write some things down, circle the names.
On two or three days I drive in the dark and on good days I’m not tailgated or blinded by truck lights undimmed. I arrive and situate myself for the day, a visitor and helper.
If there is time and the Spirit leads, I pray. I watch the windows and listen for the waking child.
I anticipate the sun rising across the wide sky. I step outside and say “Good Morning, God”. Later, I do the same with the baby.
“For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.” Psalms 108:4 KJV
On Tuesday, the sky was only grey mixed with clouds dispersing to bring the morning. Clouds like in a children’s picture book, fat white fluffs with underbellies defined with thick crayon.
Made me think I could grab one.
The clouds that shifted all day that began with not a whole lot of tangerine hue, instead a spew of sparsely filtered white either coming down from heaven to us or reaching back up.
Either way, I noticed. I noticed God.
I stood and honored it, the way God substituted happy orange for quiet iridescence.
I woke remembering today.
Remembering conversations with my children, the authenticity of them, the timing, the words unafraid to be spoken, the replies of gratefulness and of
There is solace there.
Gratitude immeasurable there.
Mercy for mothering mistakes, the truth of us now with God’s grace covering them all and the acceptance of new days.
Continue and believe. Continue towards peace today.
The moon is my favorite along with the color blue, the crescent curve and the hue called cobalt.
Crescent moon like a tilted uncertain smile, saying okay hang on, hang on.
And the cobalt like the ink from a broken pen, the thick fluid, jam from a jar.
I love the others, the sky, the teal, the baby; but, the strong cobalt calls me closer.
The half moon or the full in its brilliance are spectacular.
Still, I favor the crescent one.
Today, I watched a toddler persist. The country path that leads to her home had puddles of rain yet to dry up.
We walked towards one, I reminded her of her shoes, not her boots and she approached and then walked on.
One puddle, the largest of all and she paused.
She turned to find a pebble and then “plop” it went in the water and then she found a big brittle oak leaf.
Intent on tossing it into the puddle, she carefully skirted the edge of the muddy water.
But, the wind swept lightly across her little knees and then again and again, the brown leaf was swept up in the wrong direction.
I heard a little sound, like “umph” but, I saw her not frustrated, simply understanding.
Then she came from a new angle and she dropped the brown brittle leaf in the center of the puddle.
Then, we walked on, “ready set go”.
I’m wondering now if there’s a color of water that I love, a thick colored watery taupe.
An oak leaf resting as we walk back by,
The cobalt of the morning sky allowing a strip of coral in.
My day began this way.
I welcomed the beauty, flipped my phone towards the windshield and I sensed the tone for my day.
But, persist calmly. Consider what you value.
What you’ve decided decides your value.
Muddy water mid-morning then a cloudless blue sky against white spindly trees, I am reminded of the value I place on things decided by others.
The things I believe might mean my arrival. I remember now the persistence of a toddler when the wind was against her.
The wind picking up the leaf so lightly and the little hand that decided quietly,
Thoughts of an expression, “lightly child, lightly” reminding me to not try so hard that my trying becomes striving, obnoxious, an idol, not a quiet and important mission.
I am remembering the first time I read this thanks to a blogger friend, David Kanigan.
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” Aldous Huxley
A collision of faith, nature and wisdom plus the plucky persistence of a toddler.
What are you chasing? What have you not valued that is yours?
The writer of Ecclesiastes sounds much like Huxley to me.
Small matters matter.
More than chasing other, anything other than moon and sun and birds and mud puddles.
“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14 ESV
The two homes on the cul de sac are inviting Christmas early. One changed overnight from a massive friendly ghost inflatable to a same size “Frosty” snowman waving at me as I walk by. The second, more subtle a view, the front door open to allow my peeking in, a tree lit simply in a corner. One reminding me of great big joy and the other a decided upon peace.
The tree is up early in my granddaughter’s room. My daughter, a teacher exhausted over what may come next for her students, watched Christmas movies with her baby, sang songs about jingling bells and dressed her in pink peppermint pajamas.
All of it, beauty!
The deciding to celebrate Christmas in November and groaning in our hearts and souls for a star, a sign symbolic of hope.
Jesus was born and everything changed.
And now centuries later, we are still longing for Christmas. We are so very weary, so very.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” O’ Holy Night
The air was crisp on our walk this morning. We danced along with music in my pocket, looked towards the sky and we rubbed our hands on the cool ground and moss pillows on the hill.
Christmas, I wondered last night before sleeping, how will it be? Will the animosity over politics, vaccines, mask wearing or not wearing ever end?
Will Christmas be quiet this year, requiring less frantic buying and limited travel, limited dining together?
Will we be home alone?
If so, will we know this is God’s will for this time, His idea?
Will we trust in Jesus? Will we keep believing God sees us?
“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah” Psalm 77:9 ESV
Will we open our Bibles, find comfort in the likemindedness of the psalmist? Will we be reassured of His goodness because of the evidence of more goodness than we can possibly recall?
Will we see ourselves in the Gospels as we reacquaint ourselves with the birth to resurrection story of the baby born in a manger, Jesus?
I pray I am able, pray I avoid the trap of worry, of not knowing the last word in this season’s book and I pray the book becomes one of lessons with resolution not a cliffhanger waiting for the sequel.
Christmas, come early. Come sooner than later. We long for your star. We long for the peace it promised then and promises still.
“I love Thee, Lord Jesus Look down from the sky And stay by my side ‘Til morning is nighBe near me, Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay Close by me forever And love me, I pray…” Away in A Manger”
Be near us Jesus, as we continue on the paths you place us.
Christmas, come soon. Find us as we find you again. Find ourselves remembering the meaning of Christmas, you, a Savior born for every single soul.