I’ve been thinking about this photo all day. My college roommate and friend from the early 80’s sent this with a note, “found this today”. I was eating lunch with my granddaughter. We were talking about yummy bread and tomatoes.
I see I loved bracelets even back then and I remember how much she loved her VW. She was pink, khaki and green preppy. I see I must’ve been a little artsy. I notice the perm. I see my resemblance to both my mama and my sister, my daughter and son.
I see the tiny waist. I remember how little I ate, how much I ran twice a day.
I think of us, separately and together, how we both struggled, grew distant; but, she bravely began our new conversation.
I see me so tiny and remember I had such hatred for myself. I see her so bubbly and know only a tiny bit of not so bubbly days.
I see women now in their 60’s who know healing comes from forgiveness and more than forgiving others, it’s about forgiving ourselves.
So, skinny me no longer, maybe it’s time to stop rushing past the mirror and stand still for just a bit to consider, look where time, loss, grief, babies, defeat, trying again, fear met by bravery that said “continue” has brought you here…
Grace thus far has been the grace you’ve decided you can finally give yourself.
I never thought a thrown away art scholarship because of uninvited trauma (I still don’t like the “R” word) and eating disorder would have been so mercifully generous to say it’s not too late, paint.
You’re an artist.
I never thought a friend I haven’t seen since 1980 or so would keep a photo marking our bond.
Believe it, redemption is never ending and there’s nothing our loving God can’t make new.
Today, I met an artist in her home. She grew up in the landscapes of my favorite artist, Andrew Wyeth. She lives alone. Her husband is not well.
She invited me in.
Old me wouldn’t have.
But, tea time was at 3:00 and so, she, my granddaughter and I had tea and cream cheese pound cake.
And an almost three year old sat between two artists, two women who might’ve given up on themselves, but we’re not…and never ever on our art.
When the peace of Jesus finds us, it is a gentle collision. “Gentle collision” is how my morning words began, hurried and half asleep.
I wrote that faith meeting fear is and will always be a gentle collision.
Loosely but never unraveled is the tether that connects us to believing.
Never dragging us along.
Nor yanking us into attention in a sort of frantic wake up call.
A walk that’s never perilous, always patient.
Like a walk together when one is the older or younger one.
Not at all like my walks alone, the walk of a stubborn and wide stride stepping, a walk either going hard and proud or walking hard and fast away from something that keeps catching up.
This is not the walk of a child who wonders. Wonders not where or how we’ll go, only wonders as she wanders.
Before Jesus spoke of the gentle way of walking, of carrying the good things or junk we’ve taken as our own, he talked about little children, about their wisdom and their understanding.
Children who have a greater grasp on the divine, a more tangible understanding.
An understanding not garnered by incessant questioning.
The wind blew our hair yesterday. The sky was periwinkle blue and the warmth of Spring landed on bare arms and freckled our faces.
“Thank you, Lord, for the breeze.” she said.
We walked together. Me, occasionally pointing out of the hills of ants and noticing the ground as we went, scanning for baby snakes that might scurry close to our toes.
She, close beside or freely ahead, “let’s dance”.
Together, gently. I fell into the rhythm of a child with steps slow with going and then resting.
Waiting and then walking.
Going and then resting.
No rush, no worry.
“At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;” Matthew 11:25 ESV
I handed her the yellow flowers and lifted her from behind to my back.
Shifting the weight until she laid her cheek on my back, her tiny legs belting my waist.
Then we walked together, her weight pushing me forward.
Together, we walked back home.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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 11:28-30 ESV
A gentle collision it is, the meeting of faith and fear, of melded together walking, of simply saying yes to the soft beckon not to walk alone.
I stepped over the circled place in the sand where we’d stopped to dance.
“Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes…
“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.” Job 42:17 ESV
The dark age spot on my right cheek has garnered by granddaughter’s attention. She’s announced to her mama that I need to see her doctor.
She’s reached the age of noticing, good things, flaws and unspoken thoughts too.
Last week, I saw a little boy I first met in 2019. He remembered me. He announced to his mama, big sister and me, “She looks older!”
We laughed at his precocious behavior and I came back with “Well, I’ve been through some stuff…you know…Covid!”
Then we all just nodded towards one another and got back to the reason I was there, a family adopting this sweet and observant sibling.
A trip through my phone’s photos confirmed my aging. But, also how the world gone awry because of pandemic changed other things too.
Look back, see if your face and others’ seemed to see things differently back then.
2017, 2018 and ‘19 early.
Less vacant expressions as now, less steely clinched jaws in posing, less uncertainty in linking arms in photos and less open and freely given embraces.
More hesitance, more lost eyes seeking something, what…
Less of need to tout your faith that was bigger than fear. More sure of sure footing and solid faith.
So much more sure, it was less necessary to announce it. I suppose I should say what’s clear, these words are realizations of myself.
Someone will know maybe upon reading this. Was Job sitting in a pile of sorrowful ash-covered questions the entire book of the Bible marked by his name?
Job, a man who honored God was the chosen soldier of faith to see if he’d surrender the battle or hold on unwaveringly to his relationship with Holy God and faith.
Stricken by the trial and test, his life gone awry.
His wife told him give up and die; his friends hung with him for a bit until saying clearly it’s you that’s wrong.
“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job 2:13 ESV
I wonder if he just kept sitting, unable to stand when his friends became devoid of empathy, questioned his plight.
“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4:5-6 ESV
Monday was a dark blue day, I named it. By evening the blue lifted.
Tuesday, before breakfast, we baked a promised cherry pie and then “skipped to my Lou my darlin’” together.
Something’s happening, last month it was chocolate meringue. Little things, joyously small, sweeter than the cliche’, I’m doing them, I’ve decided.
Baby steps towards allowing joy, being less afraid something or some world event will snatch it away.
My wondering over the trials of Job came as we set out barefooted. The ground was cool and my granddaughter ran way ahead, stopping here and there to gather sticks.
I’m a lover of his story, longing to understand more is the pull of me towards my Bible. I’ll not find details of when he found the strength to stand up, but I can still wonder and I can allow his struggle and recovery to help me recover.
How long was his lamenting conversation with God and was his rising again gradual or all of a sudden…were his feet weak and prone to wobbling or was his recovery smooth and sudden?
I told my cousin yesterday, I feel like we’re all in recovery and we’re apt to slip ups, prone to dismay. We need to say so, if just to ourselves and wait, watch and know the fog will lift, we will see clearly how to walk again.
I’m growing, but not fully grown. I’m walking with strong stride and steady steps, but still not able to walk on my own.
We wound our soft sticks together into an oval, twisted the knotty vines and tangled branches. I carried hers and she, mine.
Laid them on the counter among the flattened wildflowers from our pockets and we drank lemonade on the porch steps together.
Singing a silly sweet song and talking to the crows
This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through and you belong among the wildflowers, Lou, Lou skip to my Lou
became our Tuesday song.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 ESV
Last week, I added paint to the largest canvas I own and then added more only to cover it all in a veil of watery white. The original didn’t say what I wanted. I don’t yet know what I want it to exude, suggest or be a place for that story to be displayed.
I set it aside. No hurry, it will be there. I’ll not regret my decision that the first felt wrong, I’ll stay with it, in time it will come.
“Nothing good comes by force.”
This three page practice of writing is subtly changing me deep within, with my faithfulness to it.
“Most of the time when we are blocked in an area of our life, it is because we feel safer that way.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
I’m late to this book. That’s okay, I’m sticking with it.
Every morning, I write the names of my children, circle them individually and then loop them together, encircled. There’s no magic in this practice, only a commitment to continue.
There’s not a greater sense of assurance of God’s provision towards them, of goodness beyond my control. No, it’s really simple.
It’s an act of service, an act of love, my choosing to stay with it, this act of subtle intention.
By choosing this unspoken and barely articulated prayer, a comfort has come.
Love is not selfish. Stay with it.
The kitchen counter was covered with every cookbook my daughter owns with a little girl dressed like Cinderella plopped in the middle.
There was no recipe for cake for which the pantry had all the ingredients. So, we decide together with a bit of exuberance,
Chocolate meringue pie!
Cocoa powder, sugar, flour, milk, butter and egg whites all imperfectly measured were stirring together in the mixer sans vanilla extract and cream of tartar for little mountains of meringue.
Standing at the stove, an excited little chef beside me, I realized my wrong. I mixed everything together when I was supposed to add the eggs later.
I kept stirring the watery muddy mixture. She asked “Is it ready?”
Not yet. I kept stirring and glancing over at her and the mess we’d made, multiple bowls, measuring cups, egg carton and sprinkled flour.
I kept stirring, making up how I’d make it up, “Sorry, grandma did it wrong.” I’d tell her and then we’d either paint or play or I’d climb into the “jumpy house” with her.
But, it thickened. I’d lowered the flame and kept stirring and slowly, slowly and by surprise, I achieved filling for a chocolate pie!
Chilled and poured into the waiting crust, we added the translucent mixture for meringue.
Later, we shared a slice and celebrated.
Delightful, pure delight it was.
What if what you’re afraid won’t come true actually might? What if doubt takes up so much space in your mind that when delight comes gently knocking, you barely believe it.
You don’t let it in?
May His abundance never scare you, the possibility of it, the thought that it just can’t be true.
May you know its truth.
May you fathom what you decide is too beautiful to fathom.
May the peace you see in others allow you to never lose the same wonderful peace inside of you.
May others see peace in you that you don’t always see yourself.
It’s not of your making, but it’s every second there.
Stay with it, the way of love, peace and waiting. The way of enduring hope.
Of even more grace.
The way of continuing and believing.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 2:1 ESV
I’ll return to the large canvas when it is ready for my peaceful intention. I have an idea.
It’s fresh and new, its perspective
There’s no rush. Only that I choose to stay with it, to not fear the size of canvas or the abundance of its story.
Over several weeks, I sat at the desk in my art room and pieced together a broken bowl. It had fallen to the counter as I put dishes away at my daughter’s home, a loud crash and pieces and chunks of pretty white with raised polka dots was destroyed.
Instantly, I thought “Here’s your chance, try kintsugi.” (the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with gold)
I laid out the pieces, gathered gorilla glue and thick gold paint and began. It couldn’t be rushed.
It was a thing of patience and phases, requiring me to allow the repair of one section before beginning the next.
Covered in a cloth in case my daughter stopped by, I continued imperfectly because of missing pieces, adding blue from a broken intentionally cup for fill ins and well, just because it was pretty.
Finished, it became a gift to her for Valentine’s Day.
Last week, I heard words that were not new,
“We live in a broken world.”
The pastor added with emphasis in his message on “expectations” and I received the familiar phrase differently.
It was time.
Have you considered yourself broken by life? Maybe you do now. I began to think of other catchy phrases like “broken and beautiful or beautifully broken” and pondered how we can be both.
I sat in the sanctuary between my strong son-in-law and a very large, burly man who sang every word to every song and sighed like a little boy at the passages about God’s love, no condemnation anymore and other promises because of God’s spirit in us.
I thought, “I’m not broken, after all, all along it’s been this world and what it caused others to do to me.”
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 ESV
Journaled on Monday:
This world is broken and so, things that happen or happened may determine you to be broken. But remember, you are whole, made whole fully and even more whole and unbroken as you allow yourself to understand the difference. You are not broken. The world still is; but no, you are not broken, not you. Not broken made beautiful as much as simply beautiful, redemptively beautiful, completely so.
To say I’m in need of my Heavenly Father, my Savior, His Spirit in me is not saying I’m broken, it’s more of a humble recognition of my identity now, in light of then.
God caused me to consider self-condemnation in my sleep last night. I’d been thinking of the practice of Lent and intentional changes. God had a better idea, told me what I really needed to let go of is self-condemnation.
The thought danced in my mind all night and I woke to consider it and journaled.
Self-condemnation turns me inward, causes me to fixate on my failures. Self-condemnation is not a healthy or even godly self-assessment. Instead, it’s an obsession with myself in a way that’s tricky, makes you think it’s a companion to humility.
Humility acknowledges with reverence the repaired places you were broken, made new, places you were unable and now have courageous abilities. Humility shines a soft light on the places you were weakened by wrong, but now are allowing yourself to grow strong.
Humility says “thank you”. Self-condemnation says you’ll always be “too far gone”.
I gifted the bowl and later sent my daughter a note I’d saved in “Notes”.
Kintsugi is the ancient art of fixing broken pottery with gold. … Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity
Strange gifts from me don’t surprise my children and they know the unspoken truth of most of my gifts being gifts with a deeper meaning. No need for spoken explanations, just hope for little contributions to my legacy of love always.
And hope that I see this bowl, others who pass by or stand in her kitchen pause and maybe take a deep breath and rest assured.
We’re not broken anymore. We are beautiful and slightly imperfect, yet made new.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9 ESV
Here’s a real life story about anxiety for so many who don’t “get it” and a revelation that that’s okay because “you understand me, God. You understand me.” (Passion Music, “Bigger Than I Thought You Were”.)
Early morning darkness only illuminated the garage and I wondered what made the motion that led to the light. An animal, a person, a man?
I tapped the wrong button and I locked the truck three times before I heard the open click. My husband’s prized truck, my transportation for the day. Hoisted myself up to the seat and saw the light flashing “oil change needed” which reminded me to take off the brake.
Couldn’t find the pedal on the floorboard and instead found the lever to “pop” the hood, then turned to jump from the truck and felt my left side move with a tease of vertigo.
Carefully, quietly as I could, I opened and then closed the hood. Then, I sat in the driver’s seat wondering where the brake release was located. Switched on every light and guessed on the one beneath the steering wheel. Success!
I left the driveway for the empty road and determined myself to not be angry, stressed or feel stupid.
But, the highway was busy, cars and trucks headed to industry or interstate flashed their brightly lit eyes at me in a hovering and then sweeping by me stare.
The windshield had fogged, continued to fog as I found defrost and then, panic again and a weight on my chest as I couldn’t figure out the wipers.
But, I continued. I drove on.
I took my deep faith in fear out breaths and it got better, the panic in my chest, the anxiety locking up my breath.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy. Psalm 94: 19
I thought to tell my daughter, but didn’t. No need to have her busy morning challenged by the perplexity of her mama.
Rehearsed telling my husband later, but decided no use.
He doesn’t understand anxiety, hates it for me, but doesn’t understand it really.
The windshield cleared, I had the country road to myself, quiet because the radio was another challenge, and I got there in plenty of time to see a toddler already smiling on her mama’s bed.
Peace was there.
“It’s foggy, but so beautiful this morning.” I told my daughter.
Peace of all is and was okay.
Will be always.
Peace was with me all day yesterday and will be today.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalms 23:4 NLT