Yet Believing

My daughter texted me to share that her daughter, 16 months old yesterday, had put her pants on by herself this morning.

I asked if she’d noticed other things like making her own decisions about inside or outside play with a sweet little “nope”.

I asked if she’d taken her to the bathroom with her and seen her tear a sheet of tissue as if to wipe. Yes, she had, my daughter answered but sweet little “ELB” wants nothing to do with the potty. I answered,

“She’s observing and strategizing.”

Last week I followed a flow chart created to help me understand the flow through the Book of Genesis. The kind of chart with lines dropping down interrupted by some action or moving forward through the process.

I began to imagine the route of a prayer, a prayer that cries out for resolution or a prayer that longs to be known by God.

Maybe the simple one that says thank you, another morning I am well or a more spontaneously overtaking one that comes from a song you join in the praise, you are so grateful to be connected with God.

I wondered about the delivery to the throne of God. Is Jesus able to one by one say, “Father, Lisa just had a moment, she’s afraid or Father, look now, she just got a glimpse of you and she’s better.”?

I wonder such things.

Why some prayers go unanswered.

Why some are answered when we’ve decided they weren’t heard. Why there must surely be some strategy in God’s timing that we are asked to trust.

To trust what we can’t see yet.

Last Sunday, the pastor talked about certainty and asked how long it had been since we remembered big ways in our lives that God showed up.

Remembered the answered prayers. I thought of a few.

My son was certain he would not pass the PT test at the military college his “knob” year. He’d been told sit-ups are a challenge for someone as tall as you, at least when they’re timed. A few people, the pastor who baptized him, his little boy Sunday school teacher and I prayed. God woke me up at 5 that morning, the test was scheduled soon after. I prayed. He passed and let me know in a text. He is now a Citadel and grad school graduate working for an accounting firm.

My daughter’s heart condition lingered several years, the place in her heart the surgeon called a little “stick of dynamite”was in a delicate place. Every procedure they simply couldn’t ablate it. Every procedure, we waited and prayed.

The final one, I was waiting with her sweet husband. The surgeon came out and as with each time before, he just couldn’t synchronize his instrument with the misfiring in her heart.

I nodded in acceptance as he told us he wasn’t giving up yet and then I walked away. I found the tiny chapel prayer space the size of a closet.

I cried and I prayed.

Shortly after, I sat with my son in law in acceptance and waiting. The surgeon returned and he told us so very explicitly the strategy he used and then he told us in words we could hold on to. He’d gone in to the location he knew from her records the malfunction occurred and he “schnockered” the area he told us.

He was optimistic.

A few years later, they are parents of a girl that wouldn’t have been advisable before. Her heart is well.

Other prayers have been unanswered and while they bring sorrow upon remembrance, I’ve accepted the response God chose was better based on His observation of the whole picture, the sovereign strategy I am not capable of understanding.

I just need to believe that my prayers are heard. I have some big ones these days.

I need to believe the incomprehensible truth that every single other person’s are heard in equal measure.

I need to believe because I have seen and I need to never doubt because of those things I did not see and won’t ever until eternity.

“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:29-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I pray you believe in new ways today.

God, You See This

I see God in the sky. This evening, the view was varied. There was strength. There was jubilant fullness. There was wide expanse with layered color.

I longed to be stronger because of seeing.

But, not so much. Not this evening.

If I’m honest.

My thoughts are likely controversial. I’ll be called selfish. It may be an opinion of many that it’s not such a big request, to require my face is masked.

I used to so very much enjoy outings, no particular reason trips to Target or to little shops or the art center, even the library.

Now, I’d rather not go.

I know not everyone else feels the same.

Today, my granddaughter not once but twice or more, looked into my eyes and smiled and she pulled my mask away from my face so she could kiss me on the lips.

At first, I thought, so sweet and then, I thought,

So odd. So very odd that someone who loves her so is “masked up” as if in disguise.

Thankfully, smart little baby wasn’t having it, she wanted to see her grandma.

A heavy weight bearing down, so very sick of all of this.

I walk with music.

The clouds are humongous.

The heron flies away the minute I walk by. To my right the sky is spattered sunset orange and to my right the fat clouds have a foundation almost purple.

And I hear a song called “Job’s” and I truly want to be comforted.

I’m sorry to say, I continue to wonder.

“How long?”

How long will my granddaughter see her grandma wearing a mask?

How long will we all be afraid and conformed to fearing even more every single moment.

How long until we trust our Sovereign God who made us fearfully and wonderfully and numbered our very moments…how long must we wait until our faith in His knowing of us gives us the courage to be free, unmasked and trusting the timing, the living, the hope…

To live without hiding, to live unmasked?

Fear will grow, keep growing until we are confident and trusting in the God that Job knew, the God we are all being beckoned to consider.

He knows.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

23rd Psalm and the Nearness of God

I saw God today in the tiny hand that reached for mine, the searching and saying “yellow” as we spotted leaves lying in late summer sand ready for new season.

My morning drive, an early one considering the four months of no rushing necessary, was a good one. A podcast I love on Tuesdays, ended with a gentle recitation of Psalm 23, The Message version.

“GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Today included some garden hose water play followed by chalk art on the porch and then coloring with fat crayons on an old cardboard box.

Then lunch, then counting the seventeen stair steps together, then a book and then her midday slumber.

Then, quiet.

A house so quiet.

I remembered a time when the phrase was common, a question meant to bring self-assessment.

Where did you see God today?

I knew for sure I’d seen God in the sweet sleepy eyes of Elizabeth and in the light landing on the wild fuzzy fern. I saw God first thing as I drove up the hill to their home, listening to the 23rd Psalm.

I had lowered the window to capture the sunbeams through the lean early morning trees.

Later realizing that wasn’t the most beautiful thing.

The most beautiful sight captured was the little image of the mirror and the winding road behind me, the place I’d come from on my way to where I was going.

Beauty and love have been chasing after me all the days of my life.

Today, I saw God and I saw them both.

Where did you see God today?

A Gift, Wonder

Here’s a granddaughter inspired post about “wonder” I wrote a few weeks ago.

Today is her 1st birthday. I call her “morning glory” among other little things. A baby who changes a day from gray to blue, a baby girl who has changed our world. Happy Birthday, sweet little curious thinker, “ELB”. We thank you for making us so much more sure of every single thing. You cause me to rest. You increase my joy. You are a gift. You are the embodiment of certain hope. You are silly, you are wise.

What We See

The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12 ESV

As if our bodies were synchronized, our necks craned and faces tilted towards heaven, we stared through the sheer drapery and we tried to find the opening. We wondered if it was as tiny as the point of a pin. We longed to see and were left questioning, “What is up there, what is causing the lingering of her stare?” We were fascinated. We were perplexed.

The baby was tiny then. We decided the veil must surely be thinner between babies and heaven. Occasionally, as her mama cradled her after feeding and before sleep, she raised her tiny arm towards the ceiling in a newborn hello wave. Something was there, someone, a presence only baby girl was capable of seeing. We were captivated by her vision. We researched angelic explanations and discovered mystical and somewhat biblical explanation. My daughter and I agreed, she is in awe of her new world, she sees either angel, God or we hoped, her great-grandma.

Then, she began to grow and curiosity for other was all about what she could touch, feel, manipulate, and discover. We noticed her looking towards heaven less often. She became more fascinated with the cool earth beneath her knees and feet.

Her longing for understanding seemed to be bigger than simply seeing. I watched as she discovered discovering.

I began to discover again.

We sat together in the cool grass of Spring. I watched her fascination with leaves, pine straw, and the big dog.

We sat together.

So serene. I braided the pinestraw in a way I may braid her soft hair one day. She watched me and her chubby fingers tried the same.

“Bird”, I said and she looked at me and then towards the sky. For a moment or two she was enthralled, we looked up together. I held her hand and we sat still.

I am thinking now, posing a question, sermon to self-type evaluation, “Where will you see God today, Lisa?” because it has been something I’ve been wondering in this pandemic. I have taken stock of the things God has not stopped. Babies are born. Birds are cavorting. Even the wind seems more melodic. The flowers are brilliant. The clouds are puffed and fully inflated. I find it confusing these spectacular symbols of living in a time of speculation and dread of death.

How is there such splendor in such a time of fear? How is my wonder over such beauty so fulfilling? What is God’s intention in this juxtaposition of grief and beauty? Are we to hold both, one hand clutching uncertainty and the other, splendor? Possibly, I believe. Perhaps wonder is simply faith we see only through childlike eyes.

The baby will be here momentarily. I’ll spread an old quilt on the grass in the back corner. All the toys will be toted out and she’ll play until she is bored with blocks and colors. Then she and I will look and listen. We will mimic the crow. We will toss the ball to the dog and we may sing her favorite song, “Deep and Wide”. She’ll guide my hands because she knows the words now. She’ll remember long ago when her grandma opened her arms, deep and then wide and sang to her over and over about the fountain flowing, one full of love for her and me. 

We will look together. We will listen and then have a lunch of sweet potato. I’ll be attentive to her seeing and she will be to mine. We will look in wonder for God today, the sweet baby girl, and I will remember our creator, the one who gave us our eyes and our ears and our favorite thing of all, our wonder. 

Where will you see God today? 

May your seeing be as mysteriously clear as a baby’s.

Happy 1st birthday, Elizabeth Lettie, we love you more than any words can express. We love you for changing our seeing. We love you for increasing our wonder.

The Sun Will Rise

It’s been said of me, “you think life is a fairy tale, Lisa”. Maybe I’m not cautious enough, don’t plan for disaster, take hardship as it comes and don’t worry too much until I have to. I accept that. After all, I told God yesterday just how much I’d love to see an angel.

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
‭‭Psalms 91:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s also been said and it may be true that I avoid the tough questions, I disassociate to feel safe from truth.

Seems to me this way is closer to faith than a companion of fear. So, I’m unlikely to change, if I do I hope it’s an even stronger bend towards faith in what’s not clear. Faith in God nurtured through quiet prayer and observations of His creation, birds, trees, moon and sun.

From my front yard I only get the remnants of the setting or rising of the sun. Our house rests hilltop and the view across the road is a wide open field, a gift to me making me feel like I still live in the country.

I walked out to see the pink glow spread wide like a veil across the horizon. There’s been a steady breeze, the trees with brand new leaves are rubbing against each other and in the quiet of very early, I sit on the steps to listen. I hear the chorus of birds, remembering something I read that said it’s the birds that tell the sun to come up. I love the idea of that, a happy alarm in birdsong saying “Get up!” we have another day.

I ventured to Target yesterday. Needing to go the grocery store but not having it in me to face other faces. It is our granddaughter’s first Easter. I needed a card and maybe a new sleeper. Target felt odd and I got tentative looks for wearing my mask. Something about our serene little city is either in denial or choosing to be hopeful more than careful. I’m not sure. We love our independence and we lean towards caution or careful hope. We decide which place is best to live. A little girl looked at me in my mask and I smiled and waved; but, she only looked afraid and wrapped her arms around her mama’s leg. She couldn’t tell I wasn’t scary. My smile was masked.

Back home, I’m reminded I’m less scary and less scared here. The dog to greet me, my walk to enthuse me, my art to invigorate and the stability of now to be enough. Shielded in my abode. I’m not scary here.

A question keeps lingering about what this pandemic means to our futures and our faith. What I’ve noticed is that the flowers keep blooming, babies keep excitedly growing, new ones keep being welcomed into the world.

Birds keep singing, dogs keep welcoming us home, Springtime keeps being pretty. God keeps giving us reason every morning to believe.

Naive? Uninformed? Maybe. I don’t watch the news. It’s too hard to decide on what is truth. I’d rather just trust the morning sun. The sunrise that caught me this morning and gave answer to my question as to why I woke so doggone early.

“As sure as the sun will rise, His mercy will not end.” Ellie Holcomb

As Sure as the Sun

Later, just before sunset, I plan to set up my laptop, listen to words about what today meant to Jesus and then have some juice or wine and a cracker as I join an online community in Communion.

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭14:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then tomorrow, Good Friday, as the sun rises I’ll set my heart and mind on doing my best to increase my understanding of the death of Jesus, to better live in a loving way what I believe. Not to be scholarly or an expert writer of Jesus, to be more like Him more often.

There is goodness. There is a promise.

Continue and believe.

He is risen. There was and is a reason.

Grey in the Window

I’d love to tell you the favorite part of my day was my morning thought of how faith is like the elusive bluebird. Of how I told myself that God uses birds throughout the gospels to teach us most everything, tell us to be light, not to worry. I thought that was a worthy thing, the way I pulled it altogether, the idea of faith requiring recall, not being dependent on the recurring miraculous. I’ll blog about this faith revelation later I decided. And I’d pull it altogether with a fascination with bluebirds I hope would allow me a photograph, even land and make a nest of my open hand. If I asked God for that and He gave it would that mean always and forever my faith would more likely be certain?

That even though it’d be an uncommon miracle type thing to have a bluebird land and settle in my hand, I might want something more, something one might call a miracle. Something sort of like today. I’m a serious one and yet, I laughed in a silly way today. I laughed unprompted by another or just to go along.

I stretched out across the playroom floor, the baby coralled by my extended legs. She sat still at my waist and over and over I positioned her little stuffed kitten on my middle. She was still.

“Ready?” I asked and she watched wide eyed and attentive as I pretended the little kitten was walking to the edge and then “Uh-oh!” the little grey kitten fell and fell again. My torso blocking her view, it would seem the little kitten flew!

I laughed at the thought of my play and she laughed along with me, eventually, not right away. No, not until at least six or seven tumbling kitten games.

It occurred to me she was seeing a new thing. She’d never ever seen her grandma laugh so spontaneously and I saw her smile widen and then as she held the little kitten in her tiny hand, she laughed with me. We laughed together.

Then I lined up the other animals and she crawled to chase the dog towards her little nursery.

Then, I called “Elizabeth” and she turned to see me once more letting the little toy kitten dance to See ‘n Say music and she bounced her little butt and she smiled and clapped her hands.

The thoughts about the elusiveness of faith, the blog I’d planned to write. Noble and true and realization that matters.

But, I’m still thinking about the kitten I bounced off my tummy then gave it a special spot in the window. The clouds were bringing cold tonight, the meteorologists were wrong, God had a different plan. The wide uncovered window upstairs kept the gloomy skies where they belonged. Inside, warm and dry we laughed and laughed again.

And Elizabeth smiled. So did I.