September Hope

confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, patience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Trust, waiting, wonder
Hold On

Mid-September mornings are striated light on the thick green floor. The mysterious vine spills over, bent branches scattered with once purple blooms now fading to lavender.

The season is changing, the blooms done with their blooming and I’m torn between acceptance and longing for longer.

Does hope have a season? Will we need to wait for it to make sense again? Will I embrace the soul of hope and not pack it away like a summer dress, move it to the back of the closet, knowing it’s there and yet wondering if it makes sense?

I greeted someone this morning to ask a favor and I began with, “Good morning.” Ready to send the message, I paused and rewrote it

Adding, “I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.”

Hope is important to my friend and I.

Weeks ago, I typed a message more like an essay telling someone jolted by bad news that we don’t stop hoping, we don’t give up on hope.

We don’t “put off our hope”, don’t defer it like asking for more time to make good on a debt or commitment.

We don’t procrastinate hoping, I told her because that makes our hearts even more broken.

Instead, we keep hoping and we see the beautiful bloom, the tree of life.

Fulfillment.

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

I hope you’re feeling hopeful this morning.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭70:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I hope you remember all the times you’ve seen hoping bring fulfillment and I hope you will believe, believe again or simply start hoping it may just be true.

Jesus loves you.

You can hope.

Continue and believe.

Gethsemane

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, mixed media painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Vulnerability, wonder
The Dock my Husband Built

Last week, the horizon greeted me like a welcome rescue as I turned to the skinny road from the wider, more busy highway.

Both frustrated by my anxiety over the big white ghost of a Tahoe with headlights like a cat following me closely all the way and determined to breathe and be okay, thumbs on the places 4 and 8.

So, the sun rising wide over my granddaughter’s home?

Redemption. Relief.

A whisper, a sigh.

I could go on.

“Dew on the Roses”, 2019

Thoughts rose up from an article or post I’d skimmed over, the question posed,

What is your Gethsemane?

Meaning, I supposed,

What did you ask God not to allow that He did anyway?

At first, I thought, how can we dare to compare our falling apart and asking to be spared with the request of Jesus?

Then, the mental list developed.

And then, another in contrast.

“Things that happened despite the things that happened”.

Angela’s Bible

I turned the ancient wisp of pages to Mark 14 in the Bible with penciled “sermons to self”. Angela, an educator from Bibb County, Ga. added her wisdom and thoughts back in 1937, became mine because of an estate sale.

Curiously, a page is torn down the middle.

I think now of the veil torn in two.

The darkness midday.

The verses that describe Jesus being anointed with a costly ointment by a woman who was chastised is no longer here. Neither, the Lord’s Supper.

The garden scene is preserved, the plea of Jesus face down in broken supplication remains.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it be possible, the hour might pass from him. Mark 14:34 , KJV, Oxford

And we know what happened next, the agony, the death and the resurrection.

We know what happened because of and despite the fear in the garden.

What are your “Gethsemane moments”?

What is “scaring you to death”?

Look up, redemption will find you

And, in time pale in comparison to the unwanted anguish.

I believe. I do.

Just My Thoughts

curiousity, Faith, hope, patience, Peace, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability

But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.
Luke 22:32

Walking last week without music or advice in my ear, I thought about Peter and I thought about how years ago I could never imagine I’d think of such things, be moved to contemplation from a passage in a Bible.

In the margin, there’s a woman and the words Jesus said to Peter, “I have prayed for you.”

Jesus knew Peter would tell people “I don’t know him, that’s not me.” and so what was the reason he assured Peter of his prayers?

I began to think of a couple of possibilities, just my thoughts.

Maybe Jesus was praying, you’re going to live with the memory of telling the others seated around the fire that you weren’t associated with me and that memory can do one of two things…spiral you into shame and self-hatred or remind you that you’re human and yet, grace covered everything.

He also told Peter that he prayed he’d be stronger for his brothers when he came back to believing.

There’s a message here for us who are imperfect, whose lives were once “deniers of the love of Jesus”. We can use our stories of being found wrongfully acting and thinking to make our light even brighter and our belief in Jesus undeniably strong.

There’s such hope in the words Jesus said to Peter…”I have prayed for you.” Hope and assurance, He knows and yet loves us so.

Just my thoughts.

Think of Others

birds, bravery, contentment, curiousity, family, hope, memoir, Peace, Redemption, wisdom, wonder
Blackbird and Vine

Think of others today, not peers, competing or measuring up comparatively people.

Sort of an exercise in out of the norm noticing or remembering.

Do you ever think about your grandma, your great-grandma, the legacy of their strengths and stories? The untold struggles, the pains they learned to comfort in their own quiet and unique ways?

I have an image of my grandmother all layered down in blankets, lamplight to the right, Bible in her lap, a pen for cursive notes in the margin.

On her screen porch, looking towards the crops, the winding path to Aunt Marie’s.

Looking for light, was she okay?

Had she gone to bed?

I walked out in the rain to see the bloom on my mystery vine and thought how very simple a joy!

What images make you smile, bring joy that doesn’t require scrolling, effort or comparison?

Think of others today.

I’m a fan of 3 word reminders.

Do hard things. Ask for help.

Continue and believe.

You are loved.

“Pass and re-pass.” my grandmother

Think of others.

Especially those gone on.

You Can

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, courage, Faith, hope, mixed media painting, painting, Redemption, sons, Vulnerability, wonder
Sunday Works

I cried on the back road to Target.

I cried because the mean old thing called fear has been catching up, wrapping its arms around me like a stranglehold suffocating and silencing my wildest, most wonderful hopes.

I cried a little on the trip to find shelves to organize my paint (again).

Tears that said “not again”.

I’ve been hoping I was wrong about what I giddily decided was just right for right now.

I cried because my jaded conclusions drawn because of past hurts, harms, manipulative grooming and demands is putting me in the corner again.

I’ve been hoping I’ll hear they decided it was not right for me to paint and speak after all.

Then, I can sigh and sit quietly hidden in the identity that is me after all.

Alone and isolated, but safe on my own terms.

So, once the quiet tears stopped on their own, I reread the invitation to be photographed and have my artwork possibly featured with others in a future exhibit.

I reread, researched and respected the questioner, trusted it and him.

I said yes because my tears were not from fear, instead from fear that I may again be trapped in my decision to hide and that would mean

I wouldn’t go on.

Again.

It would mean ignoring how far God has brought me and that would be dishonorable.

Dishonoring myself and the one who made me to walk through doors I didn’t even knock on,

You were not made to cower. You were made to create and to share what you make. You were made to be authentically brave.” me

Why do I write about such things, things like declining invitations because trauma triggers say “stay safe, stay humble, stay nothing, be nothing other than afraid and small”?

Because tears on the way to Target may be sweeter than you think, might be a tender gift.

Good tears, friends, very good.

I write because it helps me see the tears on the way to Target were not sad tears at all, rather than were cleansing, clarity, another swash of the trauma residual slate washed clean.

Tears that say okay, now

Take a breath, check your mascara, dab a little color on your lips.

Take a breath, say a secret prayer.

Go on.

You can.

I assembled the shelves from Target remembering the time I felt so excited. I put the bed frame together for my newly relocated to Colorado son. He’d gone to run some sort of errands, returned to realize I’d done it all wrong.

This son of mine who invited his mama to accompany him cross country, the gift of this will not, does not, has not escaped me.

I lined all my pastels, pencils, watercolor acrylic and oil tubes of paint in their own places and threw the dried up paint away.

Then, I painted.

Not as planned or expected, but I painted.

I’ll paint tomorrow.

I’ll keep on.

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭KJV

No Regret

Abuse Survivor, Art, courage, doubt, Faith, grace, hope, memoir, mixed media painting, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability
“Wondrous Story”

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

I woke with thoughts of Peter, the one who sat with the skeptics, naysayers and contrivers to crucify Jesus and said “Hey, I don’t know him, I’m not one of “those”.

So, I thought “Peter had a lot of stops and starts”.

I can relate. No big deal, you might think; but, I went very light on dinner and then caved around 10 because I really wanted my favorite comfort yummy thing.

Crunchy peanut butter on slightly toasted grainy yet soft bread and a tiny dollop of jelly, folded over, cold milk on the side.

And I slept like a baby only to wake with regret and “start again, start again, jiggity jig little fat pig!”

Regret.

Imagine if Jesus told Peter “I’ve had it with you! I mean, I even told you that you’d cave under pressure. You’d deny knowing me.”

You’d decide this calling I called you for was not possible. You’d deem yourself incapable.

Peter’s life wasn’t defined by regret.

Nor is ours. We are marked by love, by beginning again and continuing.

By redemption.

Creamy coffee in hand, I open my emails to see a reply. An online magazine is asking for photos of my art, specifically the Psalm 23 collection from over a year ago along with a newer piece, “Pool Party”.

The publication requires a bio and they pointed out what must have been a typo in the original submission.

The bio you added is pretty short – and also a little confusing? I think there’s a typo. It reads:

Artist and Author, hoping to regret redemption and hope through my words and artwork.

I smiled.

Smiled because they didn’t disqualify me because of a typo, smiled because I could never regret my redemption.

I mean, I’d be long gone, succumbed to regrets long, long ago.

It’s my redemption that calls me forward, beckons me to keep trying, put myself in places that invite my story.

Mostly, I’m smiling because all of this “reflects” the redemption and grace of God.

(Reflect not regret, the typo)

Clearly, I am imperfect; but, not unable.

Starts and stops, I can’t even begin to tell you how many.

Beginning again and again.

This is my wondrous story.

I was lost, but Jesus found me
Found the sheep that went astray
Raised me up and gently led me
Back into the narrow way

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me
. Frances H. Rowley, 1886

Only one of the five “Psalm 23” series sold. One is in my den, three are packed away and one is on display in a restaurant.

View Art Here

Now, I get to share how painting them connected me with the psalmist’s words, how my paintings came together to tell the story.

No regret, only and always

Everything has been and is being redeemed.

Sunday Seasons

Art, Children, confidence, contentment, daughters, Faith, family, hope, Peace, Redemption, sons, wisdom, wonder
“Feels Like Fall”

With the songs and sermon, prayers and passages, I had church today while I painted.

The thought came to do both just as I’d decided to stay home. You’ve been running, racing and getting to do lots of things.

You’re learning, that kind of running will catch up, put you in slow motion.

Take your peace away.

Funny thing, I’d never painted while “going to church”. But, I felt compelled to do it and so, I listened as I prepped tiny canvases for color.

Just as I’d listened to a new take on an old favorite, Psalm 139. Whole house silent and I heard it differently, more clearly.

The Holy Spirit’s presence.

My soul knows it very well.

I wrote just these words beside my name in the margin. This beautiful psalm is one we read to remind ourselves we are known beyond our mind’s comprehension by God who made us.

Mostly, I’ve read this psalm to remind myself of God’s intentional love and to confirm that I’m here on purpose, not an accident.

Today though, in the quiet, I saw a little deeper meaning. God knew and knows that it’s our soul that guides and informs us, that the things we need to “hear” from him, we will hear with the nudge of conviction, correction and the deepest of joys that can’t be described in words, only the pure reaction in our core/our soul. Some say gut or conscience.

How do you describe the most intimate joy of being surprised by the ease of something you feared would go wrong?

How do you describe the peace in an unexpected emotional response to something as simple as a hug from a child?

A greeting at the door with a flower and a request for a jar?

“It’s For You”

How do you describe knowing what God wants you to know that you’ve been avoiding or are afraid it can’t possibly be true?

It’s close to impossible to fully convey the soul.

That may be why David ended this Psalm this way. Sort of a brave request of God.

I’m often afraid to ask such a question.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Because God knows all the beauty of us, He also knows the ways we get wrong.

Since He knows us so very well, wonderful creations, complex and complicated, we can trust that we’ll see the parts we sometimes get wrong.

If we’ll simply ask Him.

We don’t have to be afraid of the answer. It will come gently. After all, our Father is the maker of our very tender souls.

Today, I took my time, walked outside to breathe in the coming season, check on the mysterious morning glory and just because.

I stayed home.

Remembering lunch with my daughter and son on Saturday, rounding out my birthday celebrations, I recalled the sweetness of togetherness and the ways they’re so very different and deciding that’s quite okay.

Wonderfully made.

My hopes for them, always been the same, are the very evidence of that very thing, hope.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Rather Resilient

Abuse Survivor, anxiety, confidence, contentment, courage, fear, hope, memoir, Redemption, Vulnerability, wonder

Behind the grill, in the corner there’s a collection of leaves, dirt, dust and a moth or two.

I paused this morning to see the sky. The air fixated, it seemed on one leaf. Brittle fern fronds on the floor like rose petals left for a lover and the one leaf, edges upturned and a little bigger than the others,

Sort of shimmering.

I know it’s strange, to be fascinated by a dried up leaf on a sleepy Saturday morning.

Was it healthy or close to decay? Was there a notice of it over the others that caused it to be the lonely one taking in the breeze

While the others were still?

Had given in to decay.

I turn 62 next week.

There are unforeseen health things.

All in a matter of a couple of weeks. There’s the dental stuff that triggers childhood shame. There’s the inflamed knee that pains me and odd or maybe not, I’m unable to kneel to pray.

There’s the diagnosis of high blood pressure that I’m disputing, watching and waiting.

Because I think it’s anxiety.

There’s all this stuff that points to aging and old things and to the trauma of losing parents before they were old.

Someone I love told me of an emergency room visit and how it triggered her. I told her “no wonder” and asked how she recovered.

She told me it was just a few days ago. She’s getting better.

And not by crazy shaming of self “get it together” because

It’s not the same and that was so long ago.

Instead, by accepting her emotions and not shaming herself about them.

Letting the sorrow and fear revisit and then go their way.

This is now.

You are here. This felt like that, but it isn’t.

All the leaves have now been swept away together. The resilient one mixed in with the ones unbothered by the wind are in the yard with the pine straw and mulch.

Strange that I’d notice a crinkled leaf first thing.

Or not strange at all.

Rather,

resilient.

Glad In Them

Angels, bravery, Children, contentment, daughters, family, grandchildren, hope, memoir, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

I didn’t expect to be emotional.

I thought, I think… this is good, no surprise, exciting, you get a break to paint or to do whatever.

But, that’s okay. Last days are good, are meant to be noticed and honored.

Remembered.

Honored with the grace of two breezy morning walks, odd finds, two morning glory flowers, yellow leaves and some important to remember instructions about songs.

Today had me thinking of last days, last things.

Odd, some may say, but I miss the meetings when I offered up my space and the mothers, fathers, friends and others who introduced themselves with the story of the loved one who chose suicide.

I don’t miss the stories, I miss the significance of their sharing. I miss being invited to join them. I miss showing up.

I don’t miss the trying to turn left from Aiken Middle School’s exit to take my son home, but I miss my on the cusp of manhood son and his four or five tightly knit rascally buddies with baseball on their minds and ambition on their fearless shoulders.

I don’t miss walking into my daughter’s room and discovering the clothes explosion covering the floor hasn’t given me a path that’s clear, but I miss her just down the hall, I miss climbing into her tiny bed to talk.

I don’t miss the DFCS court days and the half-hearted or no show biological parents intent on being defended just for the happenstance chance of maybe the judge will give us a fourth chance. But, I surely miss the children, the ones I advocated for and often buckled into my car if “on call”.

I don’t miss the home visits that scared me s**tless, but I treasure the eyes that met mine and saw concern, an unspoken love and hope that life could be better.

I don’t miss board of directors meetings or foreboding financials, but I do miss the allegiance and commitment together to mental health.

I still get the “seriously?” looks when I retell the reason I retired, a child welfare and nonprofit leader, at 58 years old.

I made a promise to my daughter. My mama did the same. I’ll share the responsibilities with my “tag team” other grandmother (“Gamma”) and I will help care for my daughter’s daughter.

By the way, do you know the importance of the first three years of a child as far as strong love and bonding?

It’s important. They’re important.

The one I call, “Morning Glory”, the one who told me today,

“Grandma, you and the baby can find morning glories and you can’t sing “Rise and Shine”, that’s Gamma’s song.

Yours is “Jesus loves Me”!’”

The grandbaby I retired early for begins pre-school on Thursday.

Today was my last 5:15 a.m. alarm to arrive and send off to work my Literacy Coach daughter.

It was special.

Today and Monday.

Who knew, Elizabeth, God or had they talked already?

She added wings to an angel drawn with a stick in the sand. We decided dragonflies and butterflies are cousins. She told me my hair is long, long like her mama. She asked me to braid her hair and she told me she had a “happy” dream, a slide went into heaven and there were children there and it was beautiful.

She told me “Jesus, is up, up, up and way, way up there.”

And when I asked, she was smart enough to know my crazy hoping for the reply so spectacular,

“Have you seen Jesus?”

“Well, no,” she answered. “He isn’t down here, he’s up there…the rocks haven’t been moved again.”

Yeah, I had no words.

I listened. Again, listened.

I pushed her in the swing too small, sized for the baby because she wanted to be little.

Then, we got all gussied up and had salad for lunch and frozen strawberry slushy ice cream.

Oh, and we got shoes, red ones for school.

No matter the mood, red shoes can change it, right?

Today was my last “grandma day”, not for long, just a break or as needed.

I told Elizabeth I wanted it to be special.

This last day of 5:30 rising and driving out to the country, the place I named “pretty”.

Walking with a tiny baby close to my chest to racing with a toddler in a princess dress, seeing who can find a feather, a rock, a weed that’s a flower and pausing in the shadow of “That’s your favorite tree, right, Grandma”?

She said, “Memories, Grandma.”

Yes. I said “Yes.”

Morning glories I’ll never let go.

“Never go backward, only forward.” Grandma Bette aka my mama

Elizabeth Lettie goes to preschool, excited and

I will be.

So will I.

In a book there are flowers, a feather, a seed pod we call gumdrop and a plan to print photos, put them in a book called “Morning Glories”

Stories, songs, smiles, schedules and little things that are still secrets between E., God and I.

These are days the Lord made. We have rejoiced and we have been glad in them.

This baby has changed me forever. They say it’s that way. No need to wonder. I’ll hold fast to what I believe.

Babies are God’s answer, saying

Life continues and life is good.

You’ll never pass this way again.

Continue and believe.