Today’s prompt word, “Treasure” was on my mind bright and early on the country road.
The humidity hanging on a couple more days made my windshield foggy and the road ahead a misty haze.
I switch from dim to bright, to see clearly up close or farther ahead but blurry, I kept trying to decide.
A little or closer to seeing all.
I notice few other morning travelers. I drive slowly, no obnoxious impatient people behind me. No approaching lights undimmed on one of the many curves.
I can’t decide if I’m old or more careful, more slow or more cognizant of what I’ve committed to, what’s required of me.
I chose music over words and a Pandora station different than other mornings.
A song I’d never heard nor the artist led my morning on. Simple words.
A treasure, the refrain.
“I don’t have much to give. But, I give you my beating heart.”
A song about what matters to God, how so very little is so very much.
I won’t despise the day of small things. (Zechariah 4:10)
I thought of a surprising conversation yesterday. I’d asked an agent in a zoom call whether self-publishing a children’s book gives credibility to an author seeking to publish adult nonfiction traditionally.
There was no “Oh, tell me about your book” or an approving nod that says you’re on the right track.
No, neither of those, none of that.
Only, “only mention your book if your sales have been 5000 books.”
Well, good to know, I suppose.
I love “Look at the Birds”, every single word, every color on the pages, every thought that clicked to birth the story and illustrations.
I felt a mixture of naivety and betrayal. Familiar thoughts.
This is when I remember my husband says I’m prone to believing life is a fairy tale.
Maybe or maybe just hopeful.
My heart beat a little faster yesterday when I saw a friend had my book on her coffee table. My soul welled up this morning when my granddaughter said “my Jesus, your Jesus too.”
Like the foggy barely lit road of morning, we see just enough to know the smallest treasured thing is the thing that brings the flutter of a heart well known, well loved and treasured.
Follow your heart for direction more than your misguided ideas of being known, seen or valuable.
“For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure.” Matthew 6:21 TPT
Know what matters. Songs in the early private morning, a crayon in the hand of a child, a conversation with a friend who sat close by, listened and understood.
I thought that was its intent, especially the Book of Revelation. Can you relate?
Angry preachers and their warnings with the intention of frightening me towards God.
My twenties changed to avoidance altogether, no chance I’d dare to believe that punishment for my behaviors might be met with a full measure of mercy. Thirties brought hope, a timid hope that perhaps I could chance trusting, believing in a different way.
Here I am at sixty plus a year.
Going on a decade or so of steadiness in my seeking even if my walk isn’t always steady.
That’s the thing.
Unwaveringly and simply, I keep deciding moment by moment to believe God.
In my quiet and confident way.
In God who created me, saw me through choices and troubles that were not his intent for me.
Still, His intention is that I know now,
He never left me, never will.
Like the wings of angel draped around my shoulders, surrounding me in love.
I’ve been cared for. The foundation of my faith is His provision, protection, wisdom, mercy and grace.
When my days are complete. I want it to be said of me.
She kept believing in Jesus. She wasn’t afraid tolive according to His Word.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV
What did Jesus tell them, tells us through His recorded words?
Remain connected. Be a healthy and thriving branch of my goodness, mercy and love getting the nourishment to grow directly from me. (my paraphrase)
“…apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
Love everyone. Endure. Be found faithful.
Be met by God on your last day on earth this way.
Leave stories of your faith for your children and grandchildren. Live this way, Lisa.
Even when others drift away, make allowances for sin and avoid hard conversations.
Abide in me, stay.
You don’t have be a fighter, just be you, a gentle and steady believer,
A victor of the faith.
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 ESV
Lord, thank you for the changes you’ve brought in me and keep bringing as I continue and believe.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Psalms 23:1 NLT
I let my granddaughter run a distance ahead of me when we walk. There’s freedom in her feet, there is an overabundance of curious independence in her thoughts.
Taking care to watch her and yet, letting her be, letting her grow.
Letting her become full grown.
Watching her thrive.
My daughter has a plant called either “snake” or “mother in law’s tongue”. She asked my wise aunt, how to keep it alive.
My aunt quickly replied,
“Get up every day and tell it good morning and walk away.”
I suppose whatever it needs to thrive is somehow either inside its stiff leaves, woven together roots, or maybe it’s in the air around it. Maybe it is the home.
A parable in Ezekial, a rarely read book in my Bible was happened upon this morning. The clean page had a faint underlined place,
“Will it thrive?” Ezekiel 17:9
The parable was written to compare the ways of two leaders, a warning about the king of Babylon coming to Jerusalem and the importance of honoring The Lord’s covenant. History often confounds me. Still, the three words “will it thrive” caused me to sit with this passage.
A riddle to be understood, I sat with these several verses on this quiet Friday morning. I read and read again, God’s Spirit assuring me there’s a truth for you here.
Two vines planted from the branch and seed of a twig transported by an eagle.
One grew and spread near the abundant water and rich soil, it grew outward, freely, vines spreading and branches putting out new boughs.
The other wrapped its young roots around the eagle and became dependent upon it for water and its hope to become a noble vine.
Yet, when it needed to be transplanted, free to grow, the roots would be found weak, easy to be blown away, bent by the wind and eventually wither.
I think of my attention to things God has given me to contribute my part in their growth.
Naturally, I think of my children.
A daughter who’s a wife and mommy, a leader in vocation and learning, outspoken and deeply caring.
A son who is Colorado and lives near a park known for its majestic cedars. A son, who subtly agreed when I mentioned another mother saying “every child gets to write their own story”.
“That’s right.” he said.
They are thriving and becoming even more fully grown.
It’s a wonder to me, because I surely often overwatered, fertilized with unsolicited advice and often looked on too closely to circumvent uprooting of what I felt meant thriving.
So, how does growth happen best?
Not getting too wrapped in the care and nourishment of our thriving, established long ago by our Father.
If growth is intended for us, it will grow when we let it be.
Because of God, my growth and I have all I need.
Like the healthy plant that never gets watered. Whatever is within it has it thriving. Letting it be seems to be the answer.
I journaled in the margin of the smooth thin paper what God hopes I’ll let linger.
Roots that are planted in good places of abundance and then left to spread on their own are more likely to thrive than the roots I cling tightly to, so tightly they wrap themselves around me stunting the intended growth of my calling, art, writing, my contributions to others.
Roots allowed to spread without being overnourished, overthought or overworked are the roots of long living, lasting evidence of hope.
Yes, it will thrive.
Let it happen. Let it grow. Contribute as needed, as led by the Creator of you.
Hope will grow and thrive.
Continue and believe.
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms 23:2-3 NLT
Who can you think of past or present who is famous because of their peace, the most indescribably unknown person you know?
“These are treasures no bird of prey can see, no falcon’s eye observe.” Job 28:7 NLT
I spoke with an author of three books recently. I sensed the ache in his voice as he told me about his writing after I talked about mine, the children’s book inspired by Matthew 6:26. We agreed to sell a lot of books, you must be famous, have a website with a bookoo of followers and be good at talking about yourself.
Just the conversation between us about self/book promotion was hard.
Before sunrise today, I thought of just how contradictory that seems. I’ve read lots of Christian books, some sort of trendy and insubstantial and some very resonant and worth returning to.
I thought of how we, as far as I interpret the words of Jesus, are not supposed to want to be famous.
When we say
“Make Jesus famous, not me!”
We’re supposed to be able to mean it.
And yet, an agent won’t return an email and a query goes unread because you have less than 5000 Instagram followers.
A few weeks ago, I had a skip in my step, a sense of a really cool possible art opportunity.
Time passed and it faded to “oh,well…”
I’ll reference trauma once here and that’ll be it.
If your needs went unnoticed as a child or young adult and you get well enough to try expression of your needs and talents again and nothing happens…
You decide it’s better to be invisible again.
Because invisible is what you know.
But, now this self-awareness feels less achingly deficient and more like
a better fame.
A realization of what I decided was my “treasure” was not my treasure at all.
Years ago, when I began writing, my heart set on a memoir about the possibility of hope, I was starry-eyed and optimistic and I told myself don’t be a chatty little woman who writes about Jesus.
Be authentic. Be real. Be truthful but not so truthful you hinder another’s hope.
And I thought I’d write a book about it all.
Now, I realize I may not.
Because the truth, my truth I am learning to be okay with is,
I don’t think I want to be famous. I think I’d rather be quiet.
That admission may be the kiss of death to being a published author or it may be the breath of heavenly fresh air to a weary striving soul.
Because writing, painting, being a published author are not my treasures, my peace and my peaceful sharing of my healing are. They are the treasures I hold and occasionally share in hopes of stirring curiosity over the same treasure for others.
I won’t stop writing and I won’t stop painting, often with crayon.
I’m just certain being a person who can be found by name on Amazon as an author or who has art that can be searched for and purchased has given me a taste of fame.
But never has fame made me famous, instead only made me wanting more.
Thirsty for recognition, parched for praise and aching for a dollar sign saying success next to something I made.
Eight years blogging. I suppose it’s fitting to write honestly today.
That feels like a quiet celebration.
Keep writing. It’s good to continue quietly and to believe.
Because healing is not dependent on fame, only on believing, believing like the lame man on the banks of the Bethesda.
“When Jesus saw him lying there, he knew that the man had been crippled for a long time. Jesus said to him, “Do you truly long to be well?” The sick man answered, “Sir, there’s no way I can get healed, for I have no one to lower me into the water when the angel comes. As soon as I try to crawl to the edge of the pool, someone else jumps in ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up! Pick up your sleeping mat and you will walk!” Immediately he stood up—he was healed! So he rolled up his mat and walked again! Now Jesus worked this miracle on the Sabbath.” John 5:6-9 TPT
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