Your Name in A Bible

This morning I found a child’s name in my Bible. A singular word, her name up in the corner of a page of Psalms with no details, no other information.

I must have prayed for her on that unrecognizable date.

An adolescent with fiery strawberry hair and a presence either marked by anger or the need for attention.

She and her siblings lived in the women’s shelter. She was the child in the middle. She was one of the three found homeless due to the mother’s dilemma.

She tried her mother and she tried us. She could not contain her emotions, her fear, her anger, her lack of being able to make sense of her current condition.

Most likely, I jotted her name the morning after a day that staff and I spent trying to manage her, hold her together, quell her violent temper.

I see her name in my Bible moments before turning to today’s Matthew reading.

Matthew 14 includes a favorite account of Jesus.

Jesus walked on water. Told the disciples not to be afraid.

“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I read on to the fifteenth chapter and as happens often, I’m pulled in by just a phrase.

This morning?

Jesus healed many.

I read of the mama who had a daughter she could not settle. Her outbursts were loud, unavoidable, her spirit unwell, even angry and stricken by evil.

I thought of the name in my Bible, just a name written in faint cursive in the corner of the page.

I remembered the last I heard, the child is in chorus, the family lives on land near horses. The mother is better, the sisters are well.

The disciples felt Jesus should avoid the woman and her daughter. The mother begged for different. Jesus paid attention.

Never thought of it before, the absolute gift we give by paying attention to another’s dilemma, disaster or simply discomfort.

“But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:25-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There are many lessons I kept from my work in the “helping profession”. One stands out though, the desperate cry for healing is a common thread between us. “Detours” I used to call them, the choices and circumstances that led to homelessness.

Jesus, on his journey, was often met by unexpected intersections with people in need and bold enough to take a chance on believing in possibility.

The child in the shelter, her mama, the men, women, mothers and children in the Bible.

One thing in common, they decided to believe in the possibility of healing.

And they found it like me, through believing in Jesus, no matter the story my past had already written, seemingly laid out in a fatal ending.

I pray it’s the same with you, this everyday decision not to be bound by your pasts, to continue.

To continue and believe.

To remember, your name is likely scribbled in the corner of someone’s Bible.

Yes. I believe.

Live Today

Yet another list I’ve made after completing three little things yesterday. This list is different, a note to self about enduring, about this time as a time for living.

Eternally Valuable Days

  • Mend fences and repair barbed wire barriers and hurts in relationships.
  • Make them stronger by your willingness to work harder, to dig down deep to prevent future toppling.
  • Commit to loving for the long haul, a firm decision.
  • Laugh, it is allowable.
  • Sleep without guilt over long sleeping.
  • Be mindful in your use of time, not mindless.
  • Look up to the wide sky and see the vast possibilities and the actual purpose of you. Open yourself up to it.
  • Look at the birds. Consider the lilies. Fixate upon the ebb and flow of water, the power of the ocean. Go to these places.
  • Endure the delay that comes with the decision to do the big thing that requires simply moving forward.
  • Believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus, not just the idea of Him. Believe.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A month from today, I turn 60. The truth of that day is accompanied by the truth of that number. Age and learning, age and realizations of time, times remembered and the brevity of time allotted.

I’m on the fence really, a contradiction as usual. On the cusp of beginnings and still surprised by bright ideas.

Still able, still trusting and still willing.

So very willing to discover fully God’s idea of me ordered long long ago that I’ve only see faint peeking in the open door of!

Hopeful, set on hope not fear because of this disgruntled world.

Eternally valuable, I’ll use as my days’ choices.

“A repining life is a lingering death.” Benjamin Whichcote, “Joy and Strength” devotional

Eyes to See

“Ears to hear and eyes to see— both are gifts from the Lord.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s not spectacular, the little place where the back porch meets the grassy yard bordered by flowers that can withstand the heat.

There’s no manicured touch and the green of the lantana, the clematis and the wild lavender flowers is mingled with the green of a weed that refuses to go away.

Still, the sun peeks through the tall pines and it lays down a bridge on the thick grass.

I glance past the magenta colored roses and I sense God saying all will be okay.

I sense His spirit in my response to nature, in response to seeing.

Like the sight on Tuesday, a woman at the intersection in a dull colored old minivan.

I turned to see her as she waited for the light to turn green. I noticed her windows down, her long loose hair and although it wasn’t sunny, her aviator shades.

All alone in her car on her way somewhere, she shimmied her shoulders and tilted her head and then raised both arms up high and sang to no one listening.

I was awed by her hope.

I went on my way and glanced in the rear view to see her switch lanes quickly in between two others and I wondered where she was going.

I decided she wasn’t in a hurry.

Just determined.

Just ready.

She seemed to be joyously resilient, come what may

she was still going.

The sight of her, of the sunrise every morning, of the geese crossing the busy road somehow quite sure the cars would stop and wait, it all makes me certain in believing.

That this time is a season, a bridge to joy, a bridge to contentment not from without, but within.

I pray we all notice more, the simple steady markers for hope and the unexpected ones that reveal an abandoned joy!

Throw our arms up and sing along to no one at all.

The Audacity of Believing

After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.

It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.

All afternoon, I painted.

I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.

When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.

I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.

I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.

The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.

I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.

I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.

And I revisited my career long reminder.

Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.

Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.

I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.

I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.

Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.

Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.

This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.

He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.

He asked for help.

Jesus listened.

“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.

I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.

I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.

May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.

Our Faint Hopes

“But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A trusted friend with a windowsill full of orchids has told me to let it be.

It will bloom again. I’ve allowed the fallen petals to stay, evidence in some way to me that my orchid will flower again.

One morning, I’ll be greeted by the beginnings of a bloom nurtured from the strong green stem that I’ve kept watered although it does appear hopeless.

If you could see my friend’s orchids, you’d trust in her confidence too.

Today, my guide in the back of my Bible had me start again. Psalm 1 and Matthew 1 along with I Chronicles, the lineage of Jesus.

I added Proverbs 1 because I felt the need for wisdom.

Joseph is met by an angel who assures him being married to a pregnant woman does not mean shame or fear.

Rather, it is a grander thing. It is a conception by the Holy Spirit. It had nothing to do with the humanness of him.

“Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Joseph believed the voice that assured him, God has made you a part of a long ago established promise.

Joseph listened and continued beside Mary.

He was alone, quiet, considering “cutting and running” when he heard a voice he was certain of.

Yesterday, something I thought was wonderful happened to me. A dream come true, evidence of God’s goodness, a blessed thankful answer to a deep longing. A legacy, a book for Elizabeth.

But, I misunderstood. I misread the agreement. I felt stupid, a novice, naive.

And then, I didn’t.

I listened to the Holy Spirit. I turned my attention towards the way forward. I decided to continue, just more informed and learning.

I decided to believe, not yet but soon and surely.

Like the orchid that has been bare for the same six months of dread and pandemic, the strength is in its roots, the up flow of nutrition from the hidden place within.

The leaves are bright green.

The tangle of grey in the pot is getting thicker.

I can’t see any evidence of it, I must trust the uncertainty of my part, watering it.

Much like my confidence in these days. It will topple if I’m overwhelmed by every argument towards dread. I am not capable of keeping my hope if I listen to the voices of fear, conflict, condemnation and death.

I must stay quiet, quiet enough to be reassured by the Spirit of God in me, the voice that says don’t join in the fear.

The voice that gave me the prayer yesterday, a simple one, a request for relief and assurance.

Relief and assurance.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Listening to voices other than the voice within me, my “soulmate”, the Holy Spirit leans towards discontent, disgruntlement, dismay over a dreadful next day.

The longing of my heart begs my return to listening intently to my Heavenly Father.

I will listen today to the voice that promises new growth, a flowering of my bitter and often dried up thoughts and hopes.

I will believe.

I will continue.

“Thy longing is the faint response of thy heart to His call.” F.B. Meyer, Joy and Strength devotional

Finding Words

I walked into the backyard early to see the tree that bore no blooms last summer dripping now with magenta fluff.

Again, the side by side are good and bad. The lack of understanding of when things will be better next to the complexities of a lavish creation.

Last week, or maybe it was two days ago, I prayed. I’m practicing quiet and praying guided by an app called “pause”. I recommend it highly.

The guider of prayer and meditation posed a question,

“What about yourself can you thank God for right now?”

The answer came with a tender upturned of my lips into a smile, I thanked God for my mind.

A mind that loves words, stories, loves wondering about the stories of others, a mind that doesn’t overthink, just really loves thinking.

Most of my life, I’ve wished for different. Why am I so odd, why am I captivated so by all around me? Why do I think so deeply, so often?

I smiled. Acceptance of my thinking as a gift seemed like an actual unwrapping.

Outdoors, a word came to mind as I thought of the lull of discontent I’m beginning to embody.

Ambivalence, that’s the word I felt summed it up. I quickly googled and confirmed it to be accurate. I used my Bible app and discovered no mention of it from God’s perspective. Interesting.


Ambivalence
is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components.

After admiring the crepe myrtle in full display, I sat in my morning spot, writing an honest note to God.

I’m lulled into helplessness and beginning to accept a life of dismay. I am growing numb to the news of more numbing.

Then, I closed my eyes and sat.

God replied:

You are helpless on your own but I am your helper. You are dismayed with your vision alone, see things through my eyes. You are unable to understand everything, trust me for answers.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God continued: You are discouraged by all that you are hearing and seeing. Open your mind, eyes and ears to me and my calling.

Stay faithful to being found faithful.

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
‭‭I Corinthians 4:1-2

And God continued with a suggestion. You don’t see the way forward and the burden feels heavy, walk with me and we’ll carry it together.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:29-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In the midst of morning quiet, my phone dings with a message asking I pray for young man injured by diving into a pool.

I answered I would pray along with “these days are unbearable but God is still good”.

And her answer made me feel okay with the honest complexity of me again.

Yes, you are right. I will continue to pray for you as you inspire others even when your heart is heavy.
Thank you!

Thank you, Cindy.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

In The Morning

In the morning, when I rise…give me Jesus.

I woke and remembered the rainbow from yesterday evening and the bluebird that flew from the mailbox and up towards heaven. Such beauty all around me. Then I remember uncertainty remains and uncertainty is still scary.

David lamented over the enemies of his soul, the tyrannical threats he felt despite knowing God’s love was steadfast and unmovable.

There’s a trendy group of words lately amongst others talking about these times. It’s an expression of question I guess “both and”.

I asked my cousin (my no cost therapist, a reciprocal arrangement), how can the earth be so splendid and yet, so scary?

How is there such joy alongside such sorrow?

I haven’t really used the expression and I hesitate to use it incorrectly. I guess it really is “both and”.

My thoughts begin with “why” and end with “still”. Today’s Psalm is a psalm of David, “My Soul Thirsts for You.”

“Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!

In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭143:1-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A prayer: My soul longs for you God. In this dry and thirsty land compromised by fear. My soul longs for you. Remind me of the truth of your love. You are a giver not a taker. You are a sustainer of peace. Because of mercy, I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen and Selah.

Conversations of Worth

“You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I lost my earrings, figured I left them in another city or in my exhausted unpacking mistakenly added them to the laundry or trashed them with the junk at the bottom of my purse.

I can be haphazard. I tend to hurry up the getting every thing together, keeping what I can keep under control.

I told my husband I lost them. My way of saying these are very special to me, marking a time of love expressed, rough patch made smooth. I’d misplaced them before, he didn’t seem worried.

Tiny little diamonds, not really of a great amount of worth in dollars, just a memory, their value.

I decided to accept they were gone. I’d really messed up this time, no more mercy in finding what was lost through carelessness.

And then I returned to the place of safekeeping and there they were. The dependable and habitual little tucked away spot, I found them.

The place I hadn’t thought to check in my hectic and hopeless searching, I didn’t go there.

One day this week, I thought about prayer and its worth. I asked God and myself, “Am I even worthy of your hearing my prayer?”

No answer came other than the upward pull of an invisible cord saying, “You are. Continue”.

Continue even if you feel you’ve depleted your mercy reserve, if you feel you’re not steady and straight enough in your path to clearly encounter me and your answer.

Continue to pray even though I know what you need before you plead.

Continue to return to your hopeless/hopeful stance that is an admission of your need for connection with me.

Return to the place you last left me. Return to the place where you found me.

The tiny earrings are still safe. I may wear them today although I have no place to be.

I’ll think of their value to me and I’ll think of my value to God.

I’ll pray in relationship with Him. I’ll pray in a conversation that thanks God for my worth according to Him.

I’ll find my hand touching my earlobes to be reminded that I found what I was certain I had lost.

My room will be quiet and the conversations between God and me will be unspoken, a melody of Him singing to me, a conversation of worth.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I pray it be so with you, that you embrace the preciousness God knows of you. That you find Him in the place of wherever and whenever prayer. He is open to your conversation.

Believe.

Continue and believe.

Such Fragile Things

There was nothing I could do to save it. I had the idea of possibility and held it in the palm of my hand as if it were a wish, I felt heroic.

Arriving back home, I searched every tree for an unoccupied nest. The object I’d held onto for the entirety of my walk was a tiny bird egg I’d found on the trail.

In my palm, I noticed the pale angelic blue. Only glancing as I set out to save it, I hadn’t noticed the sweet blueness.

What a grand thing, I thought, to save it would surely have significance! It would be a nod to my worth, the little bird I saved so very important, me too!

I found no nest in the backyard and hurried to the front to find the left behind nest of straw in the garage, a bird nest in the corner of a plastic box.

I opened my hand to settle it in the safe place and saw the glistening of the egg’s innards spilled out into my palm.

In my excited determination, I held on too tightly, I had finished the shattering of the tiny egg.

Naturally, I thought about it. What was I thinking that I in my feeble humanity could save a bird’s egg with an already cracked shell?

I loved the idea of it, not finding just another feather to hold up to the air. Instead, an egg and the eventual birthing of a bluebird of which I could say I was responsible.

I returned to the yard with the Labrador here for just a night. Nothing could fix what I’d broken, I moved on from it to check the blueberries.

And in them, found a grace of sorts. The bushes now four years old and this year, we will finally have a little crop.

Quiet in our yard as the day turned to dusk, I picked every plump one, leaving the pale lavender for later. My granddaughter will visit. We’ll pick more together.

Enough for a small cobbler I decided, a bowl full of berries, rich in a blue, a cobalt vivid color.

Deep blue like a treasure.

Sleepless around 4, I dreamt of water and woke to get a drink.

Unable to calm the beat of my heart, I adjusted the air and recited the 23rd Psalm.

My reluctant mind finally settled and when I woke I thought of the tiny egg and how I’d found and then lost it.

What is the lesson? I wondered. Should I have left its salvation to the mama bird who’d find it or just accept it had fallen?

Had not been meant to fly.

I turn to Psalm 23 to find my drawing in the margin, a border of blue sky and the idea of a tree.

I think for a bit about the teaching of verse three, the verse that assures us that God sees and knows our paths.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He restores my soul again and again. The restoration I find on the paths of His making are not odd or unusual or silly.

Odd that I would believe it possible to save an unborn bird?

No, not at all because it led me to consider the Sovereignty of God, the lack of power of my own.

Who decides if the hydrangea blooms or dries up to brittle brown? Who decides if a bird is kept safe in the wing of its mama or if the wind or something other causes it to be separated from the nest? Who decides if the blueberries produce a yield?

Only God.

God only knows.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May you find the wisdom of God on your path today. May it be simple, so significantly simple.

Continue On

Just a thought, if there were not in us, this inner spark, a fervor to run farther, a desire to see little things that set our souls to trust once and so we go looking again…would there not be a source of that motivation?

How can we say we were not purposefully created when we seek, despite all this fear and all encompassing strife, to feel that fire again?

I added color to the somber piece I called melancholy. Changed its name again. Now, it is finished and the name is settled, “Returning to Rest”.

I’ve given my available art a home of its own.

Visit here if you like:

https://lisaannetindal.com

It’s brand new and the meeting of a long angst causing goal. It wasn’t as difficult as I believed, it was just a matter of not quitting, of looking for the tiny light forward and continuing.

Continue and believe.

There’s no reason to allow the fire within you to burn to ground covered ashes because the world appears to be burning itself down.

I still have hope. Hope that endures.