Trust Over Dread

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, fear, hope, Peace, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Psalm 107:2

The spaces I created for newsletter and blog share the word “redemption”. The idea was to share the gift of a closeness with God over time and to write honestly about it.

To embrace redemption as my theme, my guide, my breath of life.

re·demp·tion

/rəˈdem(p)SH(ə)n

noun

1.
the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.

Last month, and the ones before, I wrote mainly about art. I didn’t write redemption stories. Either I stopped believing in them or I felt I’d shared enough. I wrote and illustrated a book, I shifted my sharing to self-promotion. I was told it’s what I’m supposed to do.

It’s mostly an inside job, this enemy I fear called control.

I still get triggered by the mask. Lately, the shame of my “for now” decision against the vaccine is a causing ugly looks and a sense of judgment from others, all leading to isolation, a less obvious trigger.

If you understand, you understand. Otherwise, it makes no sense why you may think things that are not true.

I dreamt last night of bruises on my arms from being held down. My dream me disguised the bruises, made excuses to others about their cause.

I woke and shook off the thoughts, said to myself that is not true anymore.

Nobody held you tightly in their control, you are safe. You are not controlled by others.

Again, this won’t make sense unless you’ve known it.

Many of us fight an internal battle against control, decisions made for you.

We move closer to wholeness when we know peace comes with making decisions with God, quiet ones on your own.

We trust that tiny voice that’s God saying now you have the strength to speak up for yourself, to know your help is from me most of all, it is where you find rest.

Where your trust becomes unwavering faith.

“Faith over Fear” becomes

“Trust over Dread”.

It is awareness of the much to dread, not a whole lot of looking forward to happy according to all we’re told of our country’s condition.

It sort of feels silly to long for things. Some unexpected illness, sorrow or tragedy may knock on your front door or you’ll hear of another injustice and see the hearts of mankind broken and the trend towards true change a bigger obstacle than before.

This is why I’m building up my trust reservoir.

I’m remembering what never runs out, never says I’ve nothing more, never abandons my tender tired heart in need.

It is God’s love and grace.

I wrote 3 words in my journal today. All are distractions to my connection with God.

Distrust

Dread

Drudgery

Then, I added. “Pay attention to the way you approach life.”

Are you dreading the future? Has your hope been stolen? How is it that you know God and believe in Him, have for a bunch of years; yet, you don’t trust as much anymore?

Are you apathetic, exhausted?

Is it because you can’t be sure what life will be like where you are headed or because you’re afraid you won’t look at all like the person you hoped to be next year.

If you feel (with good reason) it is unlikely life will be any better, it is likely you’re incapacitated by dread.

noun

1.
great fear or apprehension

If you have the Bible app, search “dread”. You’ll find God’s conversations with Job, the words of Jesus and other gentle warnings about how it’s not God’s idea for us.

“but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.””

Proverbs 1:33 ESV

My granddaughter was teeny tiny when I first sang “Deep and Wide” to her. Her newborn expression was attentive and calm, enthralled.

“Deep and wide

Deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”

There is a fountain for us. It won’t dry up, parched by sun or heat.

The river is grace.

It is wide and deep.

It is deep and wide.

Continue and believe,

Trust over dread.

Be attentive to God’s voice in your thoughts.

There’s nothing to fear when we trust God as the maker of our days, the lover of our souls.

Our deep and wide

Safe place.

Tiny Things

birds, Children, contentment, Faith, family, grandchildren, hope, love, Vulnerability, wonder

Outside the windows, the sunshine called our names.

Barely 10:00 on a Monday morning and I said, “We forgot to say Good Morning.”

I held her up to the window, the baby almost two, and together we said, “Good Morning, God. Thank you.”

Once outside, she ran ahead through the field and picked tiny yellow scattered all over wildflowers.

About the size of her finger, the pinky one, she gave them to me.

And I thought.

I could see myself living this way, no concern over fashion or makeup, no worry over whether I’m dressed according to trend.

How does a woman over 60 dress anyway? One who loves home most of all?

Silly but serious thought…I could live a simple life.

My food, the occasional PB&J and lots of fruit and for breakfast, cheesy scrambled eggs with bacon. Tomatoes and a little lettuce, crackers, Ritz, a splurge.

I am considering the ease of it all.

I could live this way out in the wildflowers under the cloudless blue sky.

I could seek this, I decided, as she beckoned me this morning, “Hurry, hurry!”

And I did.

And I will again.

Sunday Words

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, hope, love, memoir, Peace, rest, Salvation, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

The following is an essay submitted for consideration. It was not accepted. I, because I am me, decide it was too vulnerable, not uplifting enough, grammatically errant or biblically inaccurate. Or, maybe it was meant to be here, maybe rather than trash it from my desktop, someone may feel a little resonance with these not chosen words.

Continue and Believe

Sunday morning woke me with new content for my story God has been editing. The message, that His thoughts of me are far more important than my own. Recent years of angst over when things will be better again led me to define my emotion and it presented itself as dismay. I searched the dictionary for its definition, and I sat in my morning spot for a minute, both enlightened and ashamed. The meaning of dismay is “a loss of hope”. The accuracy shook me and then I sat and wrote a note to myself, recording the clarity and truth that this certainly did not define me nor describe my present life. I thanked God for the timeliness of the morning message.

I hoped this time I’d believe it past noon.

Timely, because I found my thoughts overtaking me again, revisiting trauma of childhood and of longing to understand. I told myself a lie one morning, prompted by the silliest of reasons. I needed a new printer, some socks and we needed oranges. I stood in the checkout line and gazed into the buggy. I am an artist and I needed the color printer; the other items were trivial. The line was long, forlorn faces glancing my way and I glanced again into the cart. I turned and abandoned the cart in the women’s department, and I walked away. I told myself I hadn’t asked my husband; I should do that before buying.

I left the store and pulled through and got myself the biggest cheeseburger I could and devoured it. I drove clouded by sadness and I allowed my belief to speak. I had left the shopping cart and walked away because I believed,

“You don’t deserve it.” and I let that lie the enemy planted linger for several days. I ached to erase the conclusion that began as a little girl who made certain not to bother her parents and led to a teenager who excluded herself from all possibilities and an adult woman who settled for abusive relationships because, “you don’t deserve a good man.” I found myself step into the foray of a fight to never win the battle against my past and I hated it although it felt so very true. After all the years, I figured out what held me back, the belief that I don’t deserve good.

I am letting the revelation change me now with God’s help.

Not long after the Sunday trip, one miserable evening I drove home from another shopping trip meant to comfort. The heaviness lingered like the thick grey clouds about to erupt into a storm. I paused. I asked myself,

“What does God say you deserve?”

Grace, mercy, love, freedom, peace.

Grace.

What a beautiful question, a breakthrough began! God woke me with new hope the next morning and I woke with the words to a hymn about the name of Jesus being written on my heart, the hope of earth and joy of heaven.

I made note of this day in my journal, listed the things I had been wrongly believing:

You didn’t deserve love as a child, didn’t deserve relationships that didn’t include abuse, don’t deserve now to be finally, all God designed you for. I realized the burdens I carried daily were never meant to be achingly carried alone. I deserve the help of Jesus walking in tandem with me and my woes.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 4-5 ESV

I sensed Jesus telling me to stop walking all alone, to believe in possibility again. However, to understand I will always strive when I try to be His idea of me on my own. I decided I deserve hope. I deserve joy.

I deserve peace.

Peace, in spite of cultural concerns, fears over our world’s future, anxiety over illness all around me and another that’s heavy, guilt over your own wellness when so many are suffering.

“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.”Matthew 11:29 ESV

Sunday woke me with a word. I lingered in a state of rest I hadn’t experienced in weeks, the sheets soft and the weight of the covers safe, I allowed the thought to sing,

“The mind at rest is peace, the mind at peace is rest.”

I moved through the morning with coffee in hand towards my morning spot. Using my Bible app, I searched and hoped to find the words to make even stronger God’s message to me about being at peace. Was this scripture or just a thought? Either way I knew it was God continuing to connect things for me, like a seamstress following a pattern, scissors cutting away the unnecessary, God is creating a new outfit for me.

The garment he sees me wearing is one that is light and airy, allows the freedom of His love to move through me. My new garment is a pleasure to wear, unrestricted and quiet in color, a confident statement.

This is God’s design for us, a life of rest and peace.

I wonder what your waking thoughts are. I’ve begun to see them as a gift of God’s presence to set the tone of my day. Admittedly, my afternoons are often cluttered. My evening time is either a deep breath to welcome an indulgence of something that comforts or an endeavor to finish a painting or other endeavor I started. Just as I believe I do not deserve good, I often succumb to another lie, the one that tells me at sixty years old, it is too late. 

To allow quiet to come is to allow peace. To recognize the constant plot of the enemy to hijack our thoughts is simply smart.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

My Father knows I compare myself to others. He knows this has long been a stronghold of a little girl who grew up poor and afraid and became a woman who compares herself to others in an attempt to dispel the lie that says it will not happen because you don’t deserve it. I now recognize this as untrue.

New ways of thinking are ours to embrace. I hope you will consider when asking yourself what God desires for you, what it is that Your Father has decided you deserve.

Along with redemption, it is love. It is freedom, it is peace.

I treasure my morning meetings. May you find time, sense the Spirit of God in and with you and be renewed as you listen and begin to think in new ways.

May we all linger here a little longer.

May you discover the big lies you’ve told yourself are true of you and may you believe only what is true, only what God says of you.

May you and I continue to believe.

Beauty, Earth and Everything

Art, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, heaven, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

I’ve removed the fifteen or more books from my nightstand.

Some of them read, some recommended, others opened and skimmed and set aside.

I’m hard on myself as a reader. I’m distracted and mostly too sleepy. They say a writer must be a reader.

Maybe that’s why I’m less afraid to paint.

To simplify. The nightstand now has one framed photo, a lamp, a pen with paper and a paperback collection of Psalms and Proverbs.

“How he satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:9‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’ve taken to the practice of reading at least one verse as soon as I’m settled in bed.

Some nights more. I thumb to the passage chosen by the date and the pages from notes compiled through the years are becoming my sedation, my self-help.

There are pencil scratches, black or blue ink faded to soft grey. There are bold underlines and tiny little star asterisks in places.

The summary of supplication, of suffering questions, or redirection of myself in an achingly sorrowful way.

Remorse, regret, confusion and occasionally a determined commitment to peace, the words warn, these are best kept secret.

Much like Job may have felt, I imagine if he sat with the pages that detailed his friends calling out his wrongs and his reply incessantly saying,

But, none of this makes sense. Why me?

I feel like Job was just that honest.

If you find your old journal or Bible, do you find your honesty to be hard or do you see it as simply honest?

Do you see how far you’ve come or are you hard on yourself that some days you still hurt to comprehend some things?

I fell asleep with a revelation the other night.

I’d read my prayers scrawled in the old book. Concerns so very intimate that only God and I knew and know the reasons.

I realized I had such a yearning for God back then.

I realized I still do.

The thought of my laments and longings documented with pencil or pen gave me a new idea, a different peace.

I was a seeker. I still am.

My soul ached with yearning.

It still is.

I decided it is a good thing to be still yearning, to not be satisfied in who I’ve become, to be certain God’s still what my heart yearns for and the goodness of His gifts to me, to my family, beauty made of so many hard things.

The words to a song you won’t hear on the radio seem to pop up on my Pandora quite often lately.

I drive the morning road, make it to the hill and curve on the dirt one and I slow my arrival because it happens!

The voice of Paul Beloche, so gently and assuredly reminding me of all the beauty God has made of my life already.

In A Million Years

Causing me to imagine the beauty of eternity that is heaven.

Have you pondered heaven more this year and last?

Maybe not, unless you’re 60ish like me. Have you clung less tightly to earthly hopes knowing they pale in comparison to the promises of heaven?

Do you believe in heaven or does it seem like a mysterious place that might be so?

Do you want your life on earth to be forever because there are so many hopes that haven’t come true just yet?

I do sometimes. There are some earthly things I hope to see come true.

You’d find those hopes in my little book if you had the chance to hold it, you might even find your name there.

On Tuesday mornings, I listen to Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, “The Next Right Thing”. Her voice is easy. Her tone is directive as well as gently suggestive. I tell myself “Listen”.

This week’s episode was more practical than prose, a night time ritual that would better our sleep. I recommend it, listen here:

The Next Right Thing

She gave a helpful list with one thing being to ask yourself at the end of the day,

“Where did I see God today?”

Naturally, I loved this, it’s might kind of deep thinker thing.

Tuesday was a “grandma day”. It was so sweet and easy and it was a gift the way the simplicity of the day fell into place.

The moment?

We sat together in the cool castle building dirt spot. To pass the time ‘til Mama drove up, I taught the baby to sift sand from one hand to the other. Teaching maybe the wrong word, I just did it and she followed.

From one hand to the other we just passed the sand between our hands. She looked up, longer than usual, looked deeply into my eyes in a way that said, “This is sublime.”

Yes, this was when I saw God.

God with us.

Heaven met earth and situated itself with us in the Springtime dirt.

Yearning for me not to miss such a beautiful moment on a blue sky day.

And I didn’t and I pray I don’t from now on.

“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭7:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Lord, may our earthly days cause our longing for you more every day even as we yearn for the incomprehensible promise of heavenly days promised by you.

He keeps his promises.

Continue and believe.

Yearning is peace.

Already Known

Abuse Survivor, Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, contentment, courage, Faith, family, grace, grandchildren, hope, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder, writing

It’s become the norm for me to wake with a lyric or a verse. I know the song and it sets my tone. I open my Bible app and search for the verse if other thoughts don’t get me off course.

The promise of today is bright sunshine and the Labrador returns with the ball jammed into his cheek. I step outside and decide just a couple of tosses. It’s still too cold, early Friday morning.

Fully Known and Loved

He’s satisfied and so am I. I turn to go inside, my feet numb from the cold hard ground and I see the beauty of what seems to be an overnight changing to green.

I find myself wondering if God is aware. Of my waking on a Friday morning after sleeping hard from unacknowledged exhaustion.

Did God know I’d wake up with the words to a song by J.J. Heller, “You Already Know”? (Yes, I adore her.) Did God know I’d be standing barefoot and I’d listen to Him reminding me of the dangers of comparison?

Does God know how many blades of grass surround my feet? Is he aware of every rain drenched fallen camellia? I believe so.

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We are important to God. Courage and trust are the evidence of our embracing this as belief.

Hagar, a pregnant mistress in the Old Testament, used by others to fulfill a longing, felt abandoned, rejected, unnecessary. She longed to escape the bitter condemnation of Sarah. She fled into the wilderness.

God met her there. He pointed out the water she’d been thirsting for.

I wondered this morning if she’d been standing near the flow of water and couldn’t hear it or if she’d become so worried, afraid, confused and maybe angry over how her life’s direction had pointed towards self-destruction, that she couldn’t see the provision of God waiting there.

So, God pointed it out. She was changed by seeing that she’d been seen herself.

“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In a few weeks, a children’s book illustrated and written by me will be available. I may have chances to share its backstory, a story I only recently realized but God already knew.

“Look At The Birds” is a book born of talks with my granddaughter about birds and talks between God and me about worry, worth and trust.

The Birds

It’s a book with a mission of helping children understand their value is determined by Jesus and no one or no place else.

It’s a message God longed for me, the wife, the mother, grandmother, the author, the artist, to begin to finally embrace.

Maybe other adults too.

Solace There

Children, confidence, contentment, daughters, Faith, family, grace, grandchildren, hope, mercy, Peace, sons, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder
Welcoming Peace

I drive the trio of two lane roads to my morning destination, a right turn, a right turn and another and a final sharp right that leads me on clay road with deep moss covered ditches holding up deeper rooted trees.

I think of my children. Mamas of adult children do this, just are less apt to share so much.

More inclined to keep the thoughts to ourselves as if we’re not supposed to have them.

I think of the vast differences of the two, a daughter and a son. Different locations, one like the mouse called country and the other called city.

Likeness in their initiative, their determination, their deeply instilled must have passed from parents and grandparents, work hard, work is a representation of you.

It’s an odd thing to want to quell honorable ambition, to encourage them not to do too much, to not exhaust themselves.

Hard because you remember the you they saw as a professional, the little girl and boy who didn’t quite understand it all maybe, just knew their mama worked hard at hard things.

So, you encourage self-awareness, you hint at balance, you warn of self-care and of being certain you know it’s not work that gauges your value, it is peace at the end of the day and again the next morning.

My mornings have a pattern now. Read something in my Bible, sip coffee, write some things down, circle the names.

On two or three days I drive in the dark and on good days I’m not tailgated or blinded by truck lights undimmed. I arrive and situate myself for the day, a visitor and helper.

If there is time and the Spirit leads, I pray. I watch the windows and listen for the waking child.

I anticipate the sun rising across the wide sky. I step outside and say “Good Morning, God”. Later, I do the same with the baby.

“For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭108:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

On Tuesday, the sky was only grey mixed with clouds dispersing to bring the morning. Clouds like in a children’s picture book, fat white fluffs with underbellies defined with thick crayon.

Made me think I could grab one.

The clouds that shifted all day that began with not a whole lot of tangerine hue, instead a spew of sparsely filtered white either coming down from heaven to us or reaching back up.

Either way, I noticed. I noticed God.

I stood and honored it, the way God substituted happy orange for quiet iridescence.

Solace.

I woke remembering today.

Remembering conversations with my children, the authenticity of them, the timing, the words unafraid to be spoken, the replies of gratefulness and of

you’re welcome.

Welcomed in.

There is solace there.

Gratitude immeasurable there.

Mercy for mothering mistakes, the truth of us now with God’s grace covering them all and the acceptance of new days.

Continue and believe. Continue towards peace today.

There’s just so very much of it waiting.

Becoming

Abuse Survivor, Angels, Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, grace, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

Yesterday I sat in the dentist chair wishing I had music as a buffer, a distraction to help me not think of what the hygienist was thinking about my aging teeth.

Instead, I chose the Psalm again, the 23rd one and I made it a new song.

On repeat.

“Lord you are my shepherd. You are right here beside me and you’ve always made sure I somehow had all I needed.

And sometimes you’ve given me abundantly more, so much more you surprised me.

I think you must know how much I love surprises, love it when someone thinks of something I might love and then there they are, gifting me!

Lord, you’ve been such a giver of gifts for me. You’ve been with me in the scary places I got trapped and the days of sorrow like a tunnel narrow and winding so the light seems it’s not coming.

You’ve helped me out. You’ve given me reason not to be afraid again.

And again.

Lord, you’ve displayed the best of me for others to see, displays I’d never create on my own.

You show me off, you don’t let the gifts you made in me stay hidden. You help me see what is possible.

You refill my creative cup over and over like a beautiful feast, I return to the paper, the canvas, the brushes in the jars of water.

And I create quietly and certainly.

Lord, thank you for creating me.

The me I am becoming. The one unafraid to honor you, to be an influence that causes curiosity over Jesus.

The me, deep thinker and no longer bothered by that often misunderstood depth.

You made me this way as if to say, ‘here’s who Lisa is, she’s a keeper!’

Thank you for shepherding me, for being so gentle and wise.

For being sure of me becoming me and for doing so very

Patiently.”

Amen.

“I delight to fulfill your will, my God, for your living words are written upon the pages of my heart.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

My Father’s World

bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, Faith, fear, happy, heaven, hope, love, mercy, Peace, Prayer, Salvation, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, the sun was bright in South Carolina, the Labrador was content but it seemed wrong not to walk him.

I’d gone to church, kinda worried but masked and attended, immersed myself in the rich voices of the singers and I joined in the emotional prayer offered by our pastor.

I opened my palm to heaven in agreement. It felt weak and timid, still, I felt myself hoping …

God please help us all.

I heard the ache in the pastor’s tone. I wondered if he might cry.

A prayer about pandemic and the fears about our country.

Every one is fighting hard battles and there seems no bunker in which to hunker down til the war is done.

My walk that was supposed to be a jog in this time of resolution decided to be take it easy, take the dog.

On the trail I spotted the ebony berries. I remembered the sermon I heard and the one my cousin suggested.

I thought if those berries weren’t on the branches they’d be dried up, bitter and wrinkled.

I thought of the two Sunday sermons.

One about remaining and the other, flourishing.

One talking about connectedness and abiding and the other talking about planting ourselves in the place most likely to keep us growing, make us strong.

And I’m thinking now, I’m staying close, even growing closer and as odd as it may seem if it came from my very own lips.

God is still good and he’s about to become good for so many more.

And my thoughts on that?

Welcome friends.

Welcome to a life led by your Heavenly Father.

Welcome to a life that makes no human sense, welcome to God in you, a quiet sense when nothing makes sense, a whisper in the breeze, a pausing to notice simple berries against green leaves and be reminded.

God is near. I am loved.

Continue and believe.

Planted seeds are about to burst forth. The season to come is one of sweet and miraculous growth.

If you’re curious and need more of these Sunday words I heard:

Search YouTube for TrueNorth Church and Seacoast Church. You can hear both sermons.

God is still good. Be assured.