Keep On

Angels, daughters, Faith, family, grace, grief, memoir, Motherhood, Peace, Redemption, Trust, wonder

There are four words I treasure and a couple of other phrases too.

“Continue and believe.”

“It wasn’t God’s intention.” and “Keep on.”

The first I came up with to remind myself not to give up on life, myself or my God. The second, wisdom from a friend, helps to make sense of horrific happenings that make no sense at all.

Helps to reconcile what shouldn’t have happened, what went wrong, how you were wronged or what damage went unattended.

Trauma is not God’s intention for us. We move and breathe in a world that’s mean as hell.

When we choose to keep on, we’re deciding whatever “it”’ is or was, was not God’s intention.

There’s solace in this decision, sort of heavenly.

The third, from my mama, mostly unspoken but demonstrated by her tenacity

and stubborn resolve.

I put geraniums in clay pots every summer because I decided they are “mama’s flowers”.

I feel she sees me and sometimes I know that she does.

Mama’s last car was a green Chevy Geo, I think. It was small like a Nova or a Corolla.

She commanded the road, striking out on her own for a couple years, driving as fast as she wanted.

Get in the car and go seemed to be her philosophy.

Yesterday, I got steadily closer to a Chevy Impala driving too slowly. The construction ahead told us to move over. The Chevy just kept on creeping, the shape of the driver was either short, small or leaning in a relaxing swagger I noticed as I came close.

I passed and looked over and in a flash, I saw my mama. The woman with the short hair and the handicap card on the visor had one hand on the wheel and the other lifted to wave a “Hey, girl.” to me.

I wondered where she was going, all alone on a Friday morning. Maybe to get a breakfast biscuit, maybe just gettin’ out for no reason.

I saw her independence.

I saw my mama.

I pulled into the station for gas and as I turned the gas lid to lock, the Impala strangely pulled in behind me.

The woman with the happy cheeks and the knowing eyes waved again and nodded as she smiled, laughing alone in her car.

Just for me.

God was with her and somehow she knew I needed my mama.

The woman in the Chevy saying,

“Keep on, Lisa Anne. Keep on.”

Continue and believe. This is God’s intention.

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Comfort, I Pray

Children, courage, Faith, grief, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, tragedy, Trust, Unity, wonder

Elizabeth says, “You love that tree, Grandma.”

I say yes.

When she’s older I’ll tell her that I love the thick branches, the way it’s so old but still strong and I’ll tell her that its green leaves against the ash colored limbs just bring me comfort. I love the way it leans as if resting.

I’ve not misplaced my faith nor have I given up on prayer.

I wrote about helplessness yesterday, about how it feels as if we’ve got no other choice.

I don’t regret my thoughts becoming words and landing here.

It’s my blog after all and all along I’ve only written honestly.

I thought about prayer today, what it is to me and what it does.

A simple prayer was spoken on my knees in the shower last week.

Jesus, please comfort her where she needs it.

Hurtful words had been shared and repeated. Like a pinch on a soft part of your arm that the bully won’t let go, it left a sting.

And I didn’t respond. I thought it better to let it go. I considered what may have caused the harsh words.

I remembered I just can’t know.

When I asked God to comfort, I was comforted. I left it with Him and I no longer felt hurt.

Because I just can’t know.

Tonight, I’m thinking of the Texas families. I’m deficient in understanding and only know from experience with those grieving, this is a long and winding and without navigation road, the death of a child.

So, I ask God to comfort.

I accept my place in this offering of prayer.

I join the chorus of others who pray.

And I have faith in the God who is comforting. Who is mighty, strong, unwaveringly there.

If me deciding against anger and instead inviting God’s comfort to a tiny trivial thing can bring such sweet peace.

I know the angels and armies are stretched wide and locking arms in an answer.

Comfort, we pray.

Potted Daffodils

Art, bravery, courage, daughters, Faith, family, grace, grief, heaven, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom

Wrapped in bright yellow foil scattered with pink and baby blue, the potted daffodils at Publix called my name.

I bought the pot of fully grown flowers and moved them into a terra cotta pot. The bird girl statue Elizabeth calls “our Angel girl” now holds a tray of potted pansies slowly wilting in one hand and the other, upward reaching daffodils on bright silky green.

They won’t last long, already full grown. What’s the use, I thought standing in the produce section staring longingly at the happy yellow flowers.

I thought of hope.

Thought of so much hope that’s in a state of deference, waiting for new life, waiting for evidence of our dreams being worth dreaming for again.

I thought of a song as I painted last week.

Like Springtime

An obscure songwriter not many will know, Chris Renzema, penned lyrics that keep dancing softly with me.

I first heard this song over a year ago. It just won’t let me go.

We will sing a new song
‘Cause death is dead and gone with the winter
We will sing a new song
Let “hallelujahs” flow like a river
We’re coming back to life
Reaching towards the light
Your love is like springtime.

Like Springtime

I walked yesterday, briefly and mostly for fresh air to cycle through my chest to move towards healing from a three day cough.

I saw the daffodils and had a new idea, hope and anticipation of Spring next year, of the daffodils the angel is holding today popping up like little joys encircling the statue.

Spring of 2023 will have me looking towards the little spot I treasure and I’ll watch and wait and laugh quietly when the flowers pop up in a cluster to say to me, see you hoped and waited and we came.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“We’re coming back to life
Reaching towards the light
Your love is like springtime

Come tend the soil
Come tend the soil of my soul
And like a garden
And like a garden I will grow
I will grow.”

Today marks the date of a phone call twelve years ago, my baby brother’s voice saying softly,

“She’s gone.” and the memory of my woeful sobbing, my head dropping heavy to my desk.

Mama, I’ve grown.

I’ll keep growing and hoping and looking heavenward. It’s hard to fathom, but impossible not to believe.

I’ll see you again. Like Springtime, it will be a beautiful day.

Until then, I’ll have a piece of coconut cake tomorrow and I’ll remember your truths.

“Lisa, never take backward steps, only move forward.” Bette (Elizabeth) Jean Peacock Hendrix 1939-2010

January Things and Thoughts

Abuse Survivor, birds, bravery, contentment, courage, daughters, depression, Faith, family, freedom, grief, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Stillness, suicide loss, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

Once I was a member, although not fully eligible to join, of a community of people who gathered over grief.

I was the leader, though never feeling equipped. Often, I thought to advise or redirect which led to empty gazed expressions from those mourning a loss due to suicide.

It was simply better that I just sit with them, that I listen.

Often listening lasted too long for me.

Moments between a gut-wrenching story and the responses of others stretched out long around the conference table.

Still, sitting still together in silence was best.

On Tuesday, my granddaughter who’s two and a half going on twenty asked to get closer, get closer to the little birds.

I saw one bird on a thin branch. She spotted its companion nearby. We walked carefully, me instructing her, “Step up high, high knees, watch your feet, be careful!”

We walked over limbs, pine tree remnants and broken up soil in the place where the land is being cleared for changes, her future and her family’s.

I thought of, am thinking of David, of the psalms. One in particular I cling to and others so honest we’re reluctant to say we can relate.

“I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭102:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We found our footing atop a little high place she called the mountains and we saw the sparrows before they flitted away.

In the margin of my Bible there’s a sketch here, a rooftop with a solitary bird brings me comfort, tells me others understand.

I have a very old Bible, an estate sale find. Once I thought to find the owner’s family, now I have decided it’s mine.

In this old Oxford Bible, a leather woven cover soft over the thin yellow pages, I find papers, a teacher’s identification card, and a lesson plan marked “January”, a typewritten script for 5th grade students on the color wheel.

The owner of the Bible I found was an art teacher.

Underlined in faded red, she must’ve wanted to express the importance of colors developing, merging, being strengthened when placed alongside or blended together.

I found it fitting to tuck the funeral pamphlet of my mama’s service here.

Here in January.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭138:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Today, I journaled prompted by more ancient words, the quote in my “Joy and Strength” devotional.

Let them be strangers, your dark thoughts. Believe them not. Receive them not. Know them not. Own them not. (Joy and Strength, Isaac Pennington)

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Continue and believe. Share your sorrows. Listen and agree.

Jesus, we need you.

In Peace I Go, Again

Abuse Survivor, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, freedom, grace, grief, hope, memoir, Peace, Prayer, rest, traumatriggers, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom

After a very long time, I pulled the stubby stems from the dirt. The four times or more repotted “lipstick plant” was not thriving.

The plant sent by my fellow choir members at the time of my mother’s death. Inside, then outside, repotted and revived, try and tried again until it was decidedly time to let it go.

The forest like ferns in the window box were just there, not thriving either. My master gardener cousin suggested them and I liked that she called them “Fall ferns.” To me they looked like a walk in the woods, a reminder of creeks and pine trees.

My husband’s recent hospitalization (he’s greatly improved) reminded me not then, but yesterday, I’m good at operating on auto-pilot.

I’m skilled at begin subtly hyper-vigilant, of draping myself in sort of an emotional bubble wrap.

And praying throughout it all, praying believing in the power of prayer and the nearness of God,

Until I’m not.

Until I remember, “this feels like that”.

While I believe in my healing because of my faith in Jesus, the physicality of past trauma and memories are remnants and threads in my tapestry. I’d love to believe I’ll one day not be affected, but I’m more hopeful in knowing my hopefulness in this regard is real progress.

Is peace, is going forward in peace.

Again.

Still, conversations about options for life, long days hoping for turnarounds, ICU waiting rooms with siblings taking turns to visit and calls with the announcement “gone” are realities I have experienced.

No wonder it all came back to knock me off my feet when I quit trudging forward in a fog, when I finally slowed down.

Grief catches up. Trauma is skillful in its tactics.

It’s best that we not avoid it, rather go down the road again and again to the place where the view is more clear, better, an invitation to known peace and comfort.

Allowing the intellectual revelation that my life has been affected by trauma and loss, I have an understanding of the fallout rather than falling apart because of it.

I am in tune with myself.

I can grieve what happened back then in a way that brings a tender resurgence of sadness, but not one that destroys me.

Because I know Jesus told many “to go in peace because you’re now well, you are healed”, but the brain often rebels.

I’m not a clinician.

I believe understanding leads to disciplined healing and I don’t think remembering our hard things is always detrimental. I believe it leads to both understanding and to gratitude for who we are now

Despite what happened then.

Remember my mama’s broken pot with the miraculously spreading succulents from her funeral?

Well, they withered like an old flattened tire. The December frost took them. I brought the pot inside, too late, maybe.

I ran my fingers across the soil and tried to help the plants perk up.

Just one tiny plant like a miniature palm is standing. I’ll wait before adding more. I’ll hope more will rejuvenate on their own, find the nourishment to keep on.

The window box ferns are limelight green in the terra cotta pot. They’re happier on the porch in new soil. They must love the chance to grow in the place where death was accepted to invite new flowering.

Life continues. Life reminds.

New days bring new acceptances of our responses that hinder our acceptance of hardship or hope and invite us to know which are best.

To be brave enough to know ourselves and even braver to invite a new perspective.

Or not so new, just remembered.

Redeeming our days, because we’ve been redeemed.

Knowing ourselves in light of knowing the God who knows even more deeply and says I’m with you here, I was with you there.

Go in peace, daughter.

Go in peace.

Be gentle with yourself. Keep growing.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Morning Praise and Mourning

Abuse Survivor, bravery, courage, Faith, grief, hope, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability, wisdom

…that my glory may sing your praise. Psalm 30:12

I paused here.

The psalmist, David, is speaking of himself when he speaks of glory. Our stories of overcoming are what contributes to our glory? I’m on day two of contemplating this.

Monday Morning

Last week I used Romans 8:28 as a password then quickly thought oh, you better not do that, you’ll invite trouble or sorrow to solidify the verse…all things work together for good for His glory.

This errant thinking is the thinking of one who sometimes forgets grace, healing, forgiveness and it is a ploy of the enemy of my soul.

I’m remembering now, a helpful self-thought.

Jesus would never talk to you this way, would never stir such fearful, worrisome, dreadful emotions. Be certain.

Twice in the past few days, my words have been few. I typed and deleted, moved pen from the paper, decided a little was enough.

A card with the words “Psalm 23” printed and underneath, “love, Lisa”.

I woke at 2:48 on Sunday night, the mystery of 3:00 a.m. again. My chest was heavy, but sorrowful, not startled.

There was no rapid beat, only a noticeable bearing down.

I was still as I acknowledged all the recent conversations that God was sifting in my sleep, helping me make sense and accept His peace.

I told a friend about a conversation with someone in fresh grief. They asked “How are they?”

I replied, “Well, when I left, I paused in my car, looked forward and saw that my face was lined black with mascara.”

Then I told them I don’t cry easily. This surprised my friends.

On Monday, I searched for a favorite Psalm, one I’d read aloud some years ago, tears not stopping the verses’ promised song, Psalm 30, a psalm of David.

Many are mourning. I’m only an observer touched by the sorrow of others.

I know the promise is true, the one that promises dancing from mourning.

I know it’s a long journey, one of patience with self because of our patient and loving God.

I know that healing comes. Quite often, I require a reminder.

Psalm 30 is that.

For me, maybe you.

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭30:1-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A second friend whose father was a friend and a father figure to me spoke of her grief in this season. I’m no expert on grief, I assure you.

But, she said what felt like truth and comfort and evidence of her patience with herself in her journey. I may not quote her exactly, just the gist of it.

Grief never goes away, our lives just become more full around its center.

Be easy on yourself. God surely is.

Time, Seasons and Shalom

contentment, courage, Faith, grace, grief, hope, Peace, Redemption, Salvation, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Every morning now, I open the back sliding door. Like a chef waving his hand over the skillet to invite the aroma upward, I invite the changing season in.

I step out and feel the change on my bare feet. The flowers drying to brittle fragile brown while others are vibrant still.

I read this morning about “Shalom”, an invitation to seeking peace.

Shalom, a greeting or a farewell in ancient days, “Peace”.

Priscilla Garatti

It’s a thing I can’t fully understand, how peace was established for us and how we’re supposed to believe it, cling to it, trust it

When it makes no sense.

The page in my Psalms and Proverbs book has faded names from a decade ago.

“Ginny”, a mama whose teenage son died by suicide. I wonder now how she and her husband are doing. If they’ve found moments of peace.

I woke to see that a friend has suffered the loss of a grandchild.

Nothing to do, but pray.

Pray for peace in unfathomably sad things.

Prayer comforts. It was long established for us, the way to peace, the place to seek.

A quiet room, standing still with the changing grass cushioning bare feet or with a friend with Jesus too, holding hands, being held.

“Honor me by trusting in me in your day of trouble. Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭50:15‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Shalom.

Continue and believe.

Understanding All the Things

Faith, grace, grief, hope, mercy, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all – Emily Dickinson

Recalling Mercy

I misplaced my mustard seed, the tiny glass enclosed actual seed that jingled on my wrist, a charm on my bracelet.

I’ve resigned myself not to find it again and decided, someone else may find it and it will be the thing they needed that day and days to come.

They would need the thing called faith.

They would need hope that demands little and remains like the song of a morning bird.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭116:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I prayed for mercy yesterday, at least five times. I lost another thing, much more valuable and important, a necessity.

My morning was a panic, I searched in the most outrageous places, the last one was the refrigerator.

I cancelled one morning thing and then decided to carry on, to stop searching for my “dental appliance”, the most embarrassing thing, and do the other.

The other being get dressed, let it go, stop searching, do the important thing.

Take the coral colored roses on the kitchen counter to your friend who has lost her husband, choose what’s more important than your crazy searching.

I prayed again. I told the Lord, I don’t deserve to find this, I don’t deserve your mercy yet again.

Walked away to get myself together and you most likely know, I found my partial in the place I’d left it, on the bathroom counter, safe under a hand towel.

I left the roses on my friend’s front porch, not knowing if they’d be found before the rain.

Just knowing in whatever state or whenever they were discovered, they’d be what God intended,

A thing God told me to do.

Later, I thanked God for finding it and I thought two things.

One, why was I so convinced I’d never find an object in my very own home and more important, why was I so convinced that God would not, yet again, be merciful?

Things I understand more each day.

God is loving, the giver of hope not harm. God is the open arms of grace to the guilty and bent by shame.

God hears every prayer I pray.

God is good.

I’ll never be good enough based on my weaknesses, forgetfulness, haphazard or hurried behaviors.

I have a helper who hears when I call.

To say we’re not deserving is true.

To know that God made a way called mercy is the quiet answer to all our crazy prayers.

Continue and believe.

Let mercy in.

Linking up with others on the prompt “Deserve”.

Deserve

Morning Paused

confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, fear, grief, marriage, memoir, Peace, rest, Salvation, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

“Here he stands! The Commander! The mighty Lord of Angel Armies is on our side! The God of Jacob fights for us!

Pause in his presence”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:11‬ ‭TPT

I woke to a pleasant voice on my phone and then a message that alarmed me and led to surprise then chills followed by a pause. ‬‬

It’s almost noon and I’m numbed and lazy by the absorption of the truth of someone’s passing.

Sadly surprised.

I hear the hum of yard work in the back and front yard of the neighbor. Curious, I step outside.

a shower overnight
abundance
everything passes

Last night I looked from the window and thought how happy it made me, the limelight hydrangeas my husband decided to plant in a new place.

Twenty years married tomorrow and we have our first legitimate garden. Our granddaughter helped plant the tomatoes. The growth of zucchini has been outrageous.

I check it every day, a rectangular space near the fence.

Full of growth

And still growing.

I haven’t told my husband of the friend’s passing. They were close in a way I don’t know, seems he saw strength in him and I believe it was mutual, most likely unspoken.

Strength, yes.

Strength.

We’re not able on our own. The tiny plants become tiny tomatoes. The transplanted hydrangea dug up from my husband’s mama’s home is flourishing. The butterflies on the porch that enthrall us don’t last long.

Leave reminders though, reminders of the joy of their presence and the flutter of their wings.

A beautiful song.

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭118:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God is with you.

Sing along.

Still There, Promises and Songs

Angels, Art, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, grief, hope, memoir, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing
morning balloons

I’m ushered forward by the sunrise a few days a week. The road is often mine alone, I’m on schedule for my arrival and with low songs surrounding me, I notice the changing borders, green growth, fields becoming food and trees dotted with coral peaches.

I’ve been tracking an object since I first glimpsed it on Monday. Celebratory balloons, a star and two others, silvery white and deflating, drifted to rest in the high grassy border.

I wondered where it had been, how it ended up here, how long it may be before it’s flat in the ditch or whether the wind might miraculously lift it to cross the road and be found in a better place.

It stayed in the same place and by now it’s likely flat, deflated and hidden.

The happy gesture of someone for someone on their birthday drifted away and deflated.

Maybe there was laughter when the ribbon escaped the grip of a little hand. Maybe the one who tied them to a porch rail tied them too loosely and, oh no they got away.

I wondered about the faces turned towards heaven that smiled as the balloons met the sky and then left them.

Left to wonder what happens now.

I thought of what waiting feels like, waiting for God to take our prayers and hold them for a bit as we long for permission to go safely in another direction or we linger in that place we’ve been kept with no answer, no escape, no clear resolution.

Waiting, I thought feels like hope slowing deflating.

Or it feels like rest.

The choice is ours.

Each day I write “trust” in the spot above the date in my journal.

I hope it sets my tone, positions my soul to be satisfied although waiting. Waiting to see if my words sent to another might be shared, waiting to see if the works of my hands, brushed on paper and canvas might move someone to purchase and move to their home.

I move a new painting into my living room, I want to get a sense of the colors, whether they welcome or comfort. Are there places I missed? Does it tell me the story I hope it tells others.

The Promise

Will someone see “The Promise” of an unclouded day in the same way the hymn came clearly as I decided the sky should be brilliant and cloudless?

Every picture tells a story.

Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies
Oh, they tell me of a home far away
Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day…(a hymn Willie Nelson sings, my mama’s favorite.)

Everything comes together, God brings all things together.

A verse comes to mind.

The soul at rest is peace.

Like an estate set aside for someone later, a trust to secure a child’s future, God must have things securely waiting for the right time in His sovereignty for me to hold them in my heart, see the reason for the waiting.

Trust is rest.

evening balloons

Like the birthday balloons trapped in the overgrowth and slowly deflating, I can choose the place I’m in as a place of settled trust.

I can wait for the next place God takes me.

I can see waiting as God knowing me.

I’ll take the country road again. I’ll glance with expectation towards the field to my right, the place with the resting balloons.

I’ll be expectant that I won’t see them, that they’ve been caught by the warm breeze of weekend and they’ve caught the attention of another.

Someone like me, feeling deflated by waiting and realizing there’s purpose in pausing and rest never means stopping.

To rest is to trust.

“Let the dawning day bring me revelation of your tender, unfailing love. Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭143:8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Continue and believe.