A Short Story I Suppose

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, daughters, Faith, family, fear, freedom, grace, heaven, hope, kindness, love, memoir, mercy, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Iris, Art, and Earl

“Blue Ribbon Girl”

   If she could go without a soul knowing, she knew where she’d run off to.  Down Highway 80 through Savannah, through the mossy oaked canopy, and over the bridge crossing grassy low tidewaters. She would find that old place, the place she felt known.  She would take what she needed, chill some water in the Frigidaire, and have crackers and peanut butter wrapped in her Kleenex, food for the road.  All would be well.  She’d venture down to the lonely October shore and sit on the sand; she would be on the beach. She would wash her feet in the frothy tide. She’d sleep soundly with the breeze, the little clapboard house by the shore, the place she longed for, left her art there, the place where her dreams began. The place where someone else now lives, strangely she decided they would just welcome her in.  She would wake with the autumn crispness and move towards the kitchen, avoiding the tiny room, space where she used to stay. She ached to be there again. She longed to have her fingers, arms. elbows covered in paint, to forgo the brush, blending colors in. She would consider painting again, maybe later. She might allow herself to be taken away, to be lost in the translation of her concerns to thickly layered colors. “Iris”, she might pencil in in the corner, always signing that way. Maybe this evening she thought when the light comes through the sheers just before the day gives way to night. She might settle in then, lose all track of time and heartache. Wouldn’t that be something? Everyone would talk! Iris has up and left Earl, she always had an independent streak!  She smiled, thinking of all the women at the factory, the gossip, the whispers.

     Instead, she drove back home, the little white house, tin-roofed and porch screened in. It was Friday, no telling what was waiting.  Her husband, a carpenter, fisherman, a rounder, and rascal would be waiting.  About thirty minutes away, longer if she could drive like she wanted, slow and smooth in her silvery-blue Impala, if she could she just keep right on going she would.  She’d like to take longer before easing up the hill and cruising, her foot off the gas and over the bridge that marked the creek. She flipped on the blinker, she had to get on home. The highway changed to sandy dirt; the first curve was the sharpest as she passed his cousin’s place. She cracked the window and let the other one down all the way, Remer’s wife would be peering through the parlor window, same time every day, making sure she had come back home. The one perched on the tractor slowing to see her, his baby brother was watching too, knowing he’d made it home from wandering now and waiting for his wife to get her “sorry self” back home. She smiled, satisfied in her last moments of alone. Creating pretty things, little flowery dresses, gingham checked and ruffled, her art, the products made by her hands. Only three days into October and she had made production.

     Her fingers were bent and achy, their tips flattened smooth. One hundred little Christmas dresses from four different patterns and each of them the same except their velvety hue; cobalt blue, rich red, emerald green, or ivory. Some with broad white collars and some with wide sashes for tying bows cinching perfectly around tiny waists. For ten hours a day and a Saturday, she had been taken away to a place that was hers, a place she could be proud of, a place close enough to feel free, free like the painting she used to do.

     She turned onto the path that led her back home.  He might be sitting out back on the steps or she might hurry in past the sight of his broad back in bib overalls, bent over the old table cleaning his fish. She wouldn’t ask him what he had done today, only go about her business, get herself out of her slacks and cotton blouse and into her housedress and slippers, he’d been waiting for his supper. She knew his expectations. She understood her role. 

     As she headed towards the kitchen she remembered, there was no rice for supper! Oh, Lord have mercy!  She had forgotten to cook that morning. Her husband had gone without, no rice for dinner and none waiting for his supper. She turned back towards the hallway and she saw it there, the old rice pot that was always sittin’ on the stove, it had been thrown up against the sitting room wall. Laying there with the sun coming through the picture window, shining like a flash of warning or a lost coin, either way, the rice was not ready, supper would not be on time.  There was nothing for her to do now. She would have to be prepared. Sooner or later he would barrel through the door, overalls half on and half off and the stub of sucked-on cigar loping sideways from his lip. She would know right away; she would detect the smell or not of Pabst Blue Ribbon.   She could only hope there wasn’t a deeper smell, the thick scent of warm bourbon or the belligerent tone of clear liquid, meaning there might be anger and she was surely too tired to take him on. Oh, how she wished her girls were there. But, long gone they were and with husbands of their own, one feisty and determined and the other followed not too far behind.   She hoped the other brother who lived beyond the cornfield might pass through. They would talk of the weather or the crops or the President, move to compare their sorry-ass women, and how their lives should have turned out differently.  But it was looking like a lone night, just the two of them and she had no idea when he might decide to come inside.

She turned to listen, as still as she could be, and decided he must be occupied with cleaning fish or digging bait or maybe brooding in a close to drunken state. She had time maybe, time to get the rice ready, time to pretend she had not forgotten before leaving for work, leaving her husband here. She reached for the Tupperware and opened its lid to scoop out the white grain into the soon-to-be boiling pot of water.

She startled when the screen door creaked. She stood still to measure his mood by the weight of his feet on the porch. She listened as he grew closer, seemed somehow more spring in his step. She’d grown accustomed to the heaviness of his stride, his feet like cinder blocks, the way they seemed so thick, pushing himself along in despair. Her heart was pounding. She listened. He stepped into the kitchen and ambled towards the sink and there he lingered. She felt his breathing on the back of her neck, she noticed the scent of his labor and decided today, maybe he had been working. She opened her mouth not sure what to say or which way she should begin. Before she could speak, he came even closer and then turned, his hand on her shoulder, the other one circling around her waist. He cradled her for a moment and then turned and walked away, left her standing there. Butterflies rose up in her belly and fluttered in dance at her throat.

     She was frozen in front of the stove; the sensation of his touch had overwhelmed her. She looked at the pot waiting for the boiling water and listened as he ran the bathtub water, longer than usual. What in the world, was he not worried anymore about the well running dry? She realized she had more time. She opened the icebox and pulled out a chicken and the beans. If she hurried, the Crisco would be ready about the time the rice simmered down and the leftover lima beans, she would season them with a fresh “strick o’ lean”.  She listened as she worked, his odd behavior allowed her more time. She thought of slipping past the tiny bathroom to the bedroom mirror to check her hair and her face, but she decided not to chance it, he would hear. She never knew really; she was careful not to wake her sleeping giant of a man. Something might set him off and he’d holler loud from the other side of the wall, probably then he’d let her have it, did she just expect him to go hungry again?

    Supper was nearly done ‘bout the time the sky changed from blue to dark and thundering grey. The wind was whipping the loose tin on the back shed and pine limbs were threatening to come through the windows, thick and green they pushed against the windows and then moved away just long enough for her to see where the storm was headed, how long it was staying, the hard rain, the threatening thunder the flash of angry lightning.  He’d be back in the kitchen any minute and he’d tell her he knew it all day, he knew a cloud was making up, he saw it coming. She waited and then continued. She floured the chicken and dropped it carefully in while the beans were warming and the rice was filling up the pot, the water making it thick and the way he liked it, thick and fluffed, not mushed together. The aroma filled the room, a later than normal supper. She was scrambling to move the cast iron from the heat for the gravy when he came around the corner. He walked towards the table, pulled his chair out, and told her, “You ain’t got to make no gravy.” 

    He surprised her when he said softly, “I was thinkin’ all day, I sure hope we get a good hard rain.” then asked her how her dressmaking went today. She answered that it was good, he nodded and then just looked away. He told her he had gone to town and that he talked with a man about helping a man with some carpentry.  Rumor had it that there were new houses coming in just out past the grocery store, that a Yankee from Carolina had bought up all the land and that somebody told them if you need a good carpenter, well, Earl is your man. He told her that he was sure the rich man had been warned, “You just have to catch him sober or not fishin’”. She listened as he continued, remembering her daddy and how she had been warned about his reputation, his family was good people, but the son was rowdy. He was a charmer she remembered, his swagger swept her away, upturned lip with an “I got you girl” smile, he reeled her in. They finished their supper and she rose to clean the dishes as he leaned back in his chair and told her, “You better get on to bed, they’ll be expecting you early again tomorrow.” She paused, “Good night.” she said, and then she barely heard him mumble in reply. She did not remind him she would not be working tomorrow.

The storm had passed, and the windows only open a tiny bit, she listened to the birds in an exchange, singing sweetly one to another, the crickets and the frogs down by the pond would soon join in. Tomorrow she decided, she would go to town, it was Saturday, she might see if he wanted to ride along. She drifted off to sleep, slept like a baby. She woke to the sound of coffee percolating and a strange sense of mystery, of newness, and of intrigue. Coffee and cream and the corn flakes and evaporated milk were placed on the table. No words were spoken between them, unfamiliar and awkward, this new way of them. Not his way to think of fixin’ breakfast.

“I think I’m going to town today.” she offered. He grunted. He had grown accustomed to her independence, gave up on changing or caging her in. She did what her preacher man daddy raised her to do, she was dependable and gave in to most everything, knew when to leave him alone, stay out of his way.  He let her veer off on occasion, it gave him his space. He didn’t know what she was up to, what was happening between them?  He said okay when she out of nowhere asked, “You want to ride to town with me?” then he instantly regretted his answer.  What in the world? That would mean changing his overalls, changing his plans, putting on clean boots, sitting closer to her than he had in years, all enclosed in her car and barely an arm’s length away from her body. He would be the passenger in her beloved Chevrolet. “You ready?’ she asked. He looked out the window and walked away, never gave an answer. She waited. She wondered.  She regretted asking. Then she heard the rusty creak of the old Nova’s door, the pumping of his foot on the gas to give it the boost it required, and the beat-up old chassis backed up and bolted through the field and down the roads, swerving she knew it,  barely keeping it between the ditches.

   She sat as morning changed around her. The corn flakes flat and floating, the coffee cold and the house was again silent. She thought of her life, how it could have been. She remembered the cousin who left Georgia and moved to California, became a designer, famous in a way she supposed. She rose to wipe the counters, poured the coffee out the back door, took the corn flakes down by the edge of the woods, scraped her bowl, left it all there.  She promptly returned to the bedroom, made her bed, knelt down, and prayed. She rose to gather the white blouse starched and waiting and navy slacks, flat shoes. She found her blue cameo pin.  She washed her face, took the bobby pins from her hair, added red lipstick then blotted it to fade to barely there. Dressed and ready, she grabbed her pocketbook and her keys, her little list, her memorandum and she slammed the door behind her. It was only 8:00 in the morning and she knew he would be down by the river; she had the whole day. 

   Iris slid into the seat of her car, glancing down through the field, corn on either side, the road that led to his family. She popped it in reverse and glided back before turning the other way. She had no idea where she was going, she just knew she was going away. She made it to town too early for lunch, barbeque had been the plan for the day. She decided on the café, found a booth, and sat to listen, watch, pay attention to others. A pattern of hers it has always been, comparison of her life to almost everyone everywhere, she was an observer. The waitress served her coffee, toast, and jelly as she lingered. She thought about the possibility, of her husband sitting across the table having a pleasant conversation. She remembered the night before, the glimmer of different, a slight change in him, for them. No idea what to do next, she paid her bill and left, walked out into a perfectly cloudless day, and then started her car to go on her way. Windows down and a scarf tied at her neck, she drove towards the beach and then turned back the other way. Unsure whether to be angry at herself for not going or satisfied that she chose the better thing, she remembered her memorandum and made her way to the McConnell’s Five and Dime. 

   Barely noon, she still had a lot of day. She opened the door, welcomed by a sharp clanging bell. “Well, hello Iris”, she heard someone say and she turned to see an old classmate; the one who left the country and made her way to the big city. She smiled, dreading the questions of how and what in the world have you been doing. She anticipated grand stories of her successful husband, her children, her grandchildren, her brick home, a garden with brilliant flowers, a display of pride, and better than.   Small talk of family and weather led to nosy interrogations she endured. Inquiries of her husband, of her daughters, of their home, and whether she had ever decided to pick back up on painting.

      She answered all of them, made excuses to hurry up her shopping, nice to see you again, say hello to your mama. She watched her walk away, listened as her heels clickety clacked down the aisle, and overheard her words to the cashier, condescension over an apparent mistake in her change. Iris stood for a moment and then decided on a change. She slowly pushed her buggy down one aisle and then the next, forgot about the Pine-Sol and the detergent, continued on her search until she found it, the small section with the thick ivory papers, the colors, and the brushes.  A box of crayons, she opened them and smiled over all the colors before closing tightly the lid and setting them down in her buggy. A large brush for backgrounds and a small for details, two or three more for blending and then tubes, oh so very many happy tubes of paint! She inventoried her list, best she could remember she had all she would need. She paid for her items and danced through the exit doors; going back home, not running away. 

   As fast as she could, she made her way back home, mapped out the afternoon, time allotted her for solitude. She thought of what she might do for a bite to eat, enough to get by until supper, she was excited, so very excited. Barely turning to notice the sister-in-law, the cousins, the brother in the field, she pulled in and unloaded quickly, laid her beautiful things out on the porch. She grabbed the peanut butter and the crackers, ice water, and a banana. Remembered the rice then and considered not cooking but decided it’ll only take a minute, might as well do this for him. It was expected and it required so very little of her, put the water in the pot, the rice does the boiling, cover it with a lid and just leave it there. It will be there for him, whenever and however he comes back in. It was such a little gesture, somehow, she saw it now, as a gift.

     All of that accomplished, she found a big old sheet, spread it out on the floor, and made a place for her paper. She found an old piece of wood, leaned it up against the screen, and with a rusty nail positioned her idea of an easel for her paper canvas. A jar filled with water and brushes soaking, she found an old broken dish and made herself a palette. Vibrant blue was her background and greens, red and purple followed. With no idea of how to begin, what to paint, she simply layered colors. She stood back and admired the symmetry, the way one color spilled over to another bordered by heavy tint turning to faint shade and shadow. She found the box and crayons and added flowing lines in length and layers, she decided they reminded her of gowns. So, she quickly added shoulders, gauzy sleeves over arms, and shapes of faces titled one way or another. She added ruddy cheeks and pale hollowed ones made barely noticeable bridges of noses and only just hints of blue, brown, or green where the women in flowing gowns eyes would be. She sighed, an audible “Ah!” escaped from her lips, and then she felt it, the smile, the filling up because of it of her cheeks. She gazed at the colors, the freedom of them, thick paper flamboyant and joyous colors, all types of stories. She rested then realized the time had escaped her. The dusk of the day was approaching. She gathered her jars and her brushes, stuffed crayons back in the box, and careful not to ruin the extras, gingerly picked up her papers, picked up the unpeeled banana, and nibbled a stale cracker. She scrubbed the brushes and laid them on a dishcloth to dry, turned on the pilot light, and then the burner, the rice, oh, Lord, the rice had to be ready! Hurriedly she finished, put everything away, and decided chicken from last night would be enough, would be okay. She walked out onto the back porch to see the coral sun setting and she breathed deeply, sat down in the place where he’d be pulling in, and rested her bare feet in the soft cool dirt-like sand. Her husband would be home eventually; but she wasn’t worried, not afraid. 

     She made a choice today when she could have chosen another way. She could have chosen rebellion, a trip to Tybee, and come what may. She surely did consider it. She could have chosen pity pouting in the discount aisle and she could have chosen to be a fighter for her freedom. Instead, she chose to gently open her own door.  Iris was daydreaming when she heard the familiar sound of him coming around the corner. She thought to get herself together, to hurry back in, stand waiting in the kitchen in a wifely way.  She stayed still, she waited. He pulled into the driveway and turned to look her way, puzzled for sure, he smiled, and then he shook his head. He walked over to see her and asked, “How was your day?” Before she could answer he told her he was sorry, that he knew she wanted him to go to town today. She smiled and asked about his day, about where he had been. He answered with a grin, told her he drove towards the river then came back to check the pond dam, decided to see the plot of land where the fancy houses would be, and ended up back at his brother’s, just sitting around mostly. She told him supper was about ready and that she had just wanted some air. She reached for her shoes, brushed the sand from her feet, and headed back in. He walked beside her, straight with no sign of stagger and he reached for her hand. She did not know what to make of it, she allowed it, she accepted him then.  As they stepped towards the porch, she saw the makeshift easel, she remembered the painting. He opened the door and held it for her, and he turned, and he saw it and said nary a word.  Supper was different because he kept on being different and when it was done, he pushed his plate to the table’s center and got up out of his chair. 

 She watched as he stepped towards the porch; listened as he stepped back towards her. He carried the piece of wood made into an easel and tenderly placed it with its still moist colors on the sill of the window that looked out towards the field. Then he shifted it left a little before saying, “That’s somethin’ else!  A real pretty paintin’ Iris, why don’t you make another one for here.” She stood up from the table and met him in the middle and she knew in her heart, everything would change from here, her independent streak not broken against her will, but gently set free and blended, the color returning to her story. 

Not Small At All

Abuse Survivor, birds, bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, freedom, hope, love, memoir, Peace, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Vulnerability, wonder
little sparrow

This tiny bird is a keepsake from my daughter’s pre-wedding weekend. A small shop in the mountains filled with cute trendy things and I chose a bird as small as the cup of my palm.

A sparrow danced on the porch yesterday. Instead of hurrying my granddaughter outside, I watched through the window as it watched me. It rested on the ledge, turned to face me, and then flew away.

As if to say, remember.

You are seen and known.

You are cared for fully.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, my devotional included this verse. It’s a verse you might see on a greeting card, a coffee mug or framed words written in pretty black flowing letters.

It occurred to me, not sure why not before.

God is not small at all.

His voice is mighty.

It calms me and calls me.

It protects me with warnings.

It soothes me with song.

God’s rejoicing over me may cause me to think of beautiful birds.

But, God is not that small at all.

Nor is His presence, love and power.

I pray you remember with me.

God is singing over us and His voice overpowers all other songs, all other voices that threaten or sing worrisome songs.

Look up. Notice God.

He is with you.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

His song is a freedom song.

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.

A Book for Children

Art, birds, Children, Children’s Books, love, Uncategorized

Sometimes things seem almost happenstance. There is a lightness, a sigh that accompanies the thought.

Oh, I understand now, I won’t let this thought go, it’s just too precious and unexpected.

I thought of birds one morning. I reacquainted myself with the promise of being seen an known.

I’ve written and illustrated a children’s book. Its title is “Look At The Birds”.

Tiny Sparrow

The book is available on Amazon. Soon, I hope in other places.

My hope is that it reminds each reader of their value and they in response reinforce the same for a child.

You can order by searching for

“Look at the Birds” Lisa Anne Tindal on Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/dp/1636304346

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.

Once More

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, Faith, Forgiveness, freedom, love, Peace, Redemption, rest, Vulnerability

I wear a T-shirt quite often, lots of times under a sweatshirt. Soft in color and fabric, across the chest are the words, “known and loved”. Wearing it feels like my little secret, the one thing I want to remember once more.

Known by God

Once my life was different than it is today. Once there were reasons to fear. Now, there are reasons to embrace not being afraid.

The woman caught in adultery found herself on display, a crowd had shown up to see her stoning. She waited. She knew the law of Moses. She anticipated the punishment.

The men invited Jesus into the discussion, into the abuse. He invited them to consider their own wrongs and sins of a sexual nature.

Telling the group, the one of you who’s never committed such acts, you can go first, I give you permission to commence the stone throwing.

Jesus waited. He wrote in the sand as the tension must have surely risen and the onlookers waited to see which among these men was perfect.

Jesus knew.

“And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The men turned and walked away, maybe the crowd dispersed. Jesus asked the woman if she realized what had just happened.

Her sin of adultery was known and yet, she escaped death by stoning.

He made sure she understood that she was known and loved, not known and condemned.

Once my life was different. Now I am known and loved.

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Walk in the way of forgiveness. Know your heart in light of mercy. Who we are now matters more than who we once were.

Linking up with others prompted by the word “once”.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Once

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.

Growing Hope

confidence, contentment, courage, depression, doubt, Faith, fear, grace, hope, love, Peace, Redemption, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wonder

Here we are on day 8 of the year with the number that sounded hopeful, a cadence in the sound of its number as opposed to 2020. 2020, the one step forward and one back sort of feel, stuck on the side of the road or bogged down in a farmer’s field.

A year I’d hoped to feel more confidence than persistent dread.

So, it’s gonna be slow growing, the moving into what 2021 has to offer and what I’m gonna need to acknowledge, adjustments to be made with me, within mostly.

No more of this snap of the fingers, all is well and good. No, it’s a practice, an intentional setting my intentions on growing with and at God’s pace.

Changing that leads to blooming and replanting to bloom year after year. Growth that’s not a result of impatience or self-condemnation.

And it’s in the darkness that the growth begins. Dark heavy thoughts that ask why not yet and long to shake off doubtful patterns and to be one and done with habitual self-sabotage to avoid disappointing results.

With God, I’m beginning to know myself well, the things I’m up against, the behaviors that are not for me, are against me.

And Jesus agrees with me so gently.

“Thy faith and thy love and thy hope will grow, the more thou seest the work of God with thee; thou wilt joy in sorrow, and thy sorrow will be turned to joy.” Edward B. Pusey, Joy and Strength Devotional

What feels like trudging forward with no evidence of better, quite possibly worse, causes a heaviness in me this morning.

I turn to another devotional, a popular one, “Jesus Calling” and I’m lighter from reading just one sentence.

“The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you.” Jesus Calling

I know this to be true.

I’m never corrected so harshly by my Savior as I am by myself.

I write the sentence in my journal and my thoughts go to the woman who should’ve been pelted with rocks with Jesus as the witness to her deserved punishment.

I know the passage very well. I imagine her waiting to be punished and gawked over by a large group of better than her in their minds gawkers.

Jesus surprised her, surprised the ones holding the rocks. They all walked away after being told to consider your very own wrongs. The crowd dispersed hearing Jesus tell her to go and be free.

Be free.

“Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?” Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

The bulbs on my daughter’s table are covered in bright green moss. They were the same for days, left beside the kitchen window.

The expected brilliant bloom for Christmas festivities didn’t happen, maybe I’d planted them in too shallow soil, maybe over or under watered.

Then, she moved them to a more open space, she cushioned the soil with soft pillows of moss that she and her daughter collected. The moist earth caused the stems to reach up.

Two bulbs now have little baby bumps, flowers soon to burst forth.

I’m believing. Tiny white flowers will flourish. I expect to see them on Monday and I’ll tell my grandchild, look what you and mama and God did! You waited and you helped the little flowers to grow.

Never having planted the winter flowers, “forcing” their indoors blooming, my daughter and I are learning. Once they’ve bloomed, you dig the bulbs up from the dirt and you put them in brown bags.

You save them to bloom again. You anticipate the hope of beautiful future (next year) growth.

Today, when I don’t know about tomorrow and especially not next year, I’ll think of the most quiet thing I know now, these flowers called paperwhites that decided to wait to bloom in January rather than a “forced” December.

The storms of my thoughts are stilled when I remember my strength comes from unseen joy, beckoning me back to a place that is rest, is a haven for sure peace.

“God stilled the storm, calmed the waves, and he hushed the hurricane winds to only a whisper. We were so relieved, so glad as he guided us safely to harbor in a quiet haven.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:29-30‬ ‭TPT‬‬

God’s love is constant. His rescue is sure. His cultivation of us for His glory is patient and gentle.

Settle in. Settle down.

This is grace.

Live Today

Abuse Survivor, birthday, bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, curiousity, Faith, Forgiveness, grace, hope, love, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

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

Our Faint Hopes

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, doubt, Faith, hope, love, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

“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