November Like Grace

Yesterday, the tiniest of yellow leaves were dancing down around my friend and I. We were happy to be likeminded over loving the frenzied leaves falling down, likeminded in our acceptance of our imperfections and our wonderings. We didn’t say so, but now

I think we both were thinking likely, of grace.

November, I welcomed you! Hard to say clearly why. Surely it’s not the hustle and bustle of holiday coming that makes holiday so unholy, so hurried and so “un” divine.

October felt so lengthy, intense, its work , its worries and its waiting.

November, for some reason felt like corner turning, drawing nearer to the fruition of a more solid settling.

And then yesterday and later, I heard of death by suicide and I read a sister’s story of her brother’s too soon death due to addiction.

I couldn’t, can’t stop thinking of how haphazard life can be, how some of us get tripped up and fall and get back up and safely carry on.

Sadly, not all.

Some make it, find the resolve to continue, and the continuation of that resolve, in increments assures no more falls.

It’s a precarious world we’re slap dab in the middle of. My friend and I talked, yesterday because we’re aware, we’re not able to avoid or willing to turn blind eyes.

We’ve had people in our midst, their struggles are more than just speculation or someone else’s issue. We are with others and we have seen evidence.

Evidence of hopelessness. Evidence of fear. Evidence of doubt and evidence of destruction slowly through either addictive indulgence or addictive control or addictive forlorn failing feelings.

Either way, it seems hope is in high demand, kindness, persistence, refusal to avoid and if you can, when you can just demonstrate deliberately that you care.

Sometimes, though it’s not that simple. Your kindness is less than a drop in a deep ancient well.

You do what you can, keep dropping your love there.

I’m still happy it’s November despite learning of new deaths.

I’m still happy for November and Saturday and the way the cold caused my toes to curl when I let the dog out.

Happy that I spent time reading my Bible, not scanning, delving deeply in to what Paul told Timothy and what God told him to tell me.

And you.

Today.

We still have this hope. That Christ died for us so that we could live, not so that we could be perfect or withstand all our falls from grace and flat on our faces falls; but, so that we would see His face when we pick ourselves up to rise.

That we’d continue to do our best.

That we come closer to an understanding of our lives here, our lives are meant to be His, to be lived out based on our rescued from the fall, faith.

Maybe through us, others will see grace.

Maybe through others we see it too.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s an old hymn we used to sing called “People Need the Lord”. When I was a member of the choir, I’d suggest we sing it more. There didn’t seem to be a Sunday someone might need to know and believe that in these days, we need the Lord.

We’re not able on our own.

We live in a world of simply not knowing what may come, whether someone we love might fall.

Remembering now the sister’s heartbreak over her brother and another’s trauma that has her trapped in a deadly self harm cycle, I wonder if my words are unwelcome, if my hope will be a hindrance, hokey.

I understand. Grief is not a quick thing, hope is not on grief’s horizon. If it’s anywhere it’s around the bend of some crazy and unthinkable scary roads.

Hope is rarely on the mind of grief. I imagine hope as a sweet child with little words, only telling grief, I’ll come out Sir or Ma’am, when it’s my turn to join the grown up table.

And then it sits down together with grief and it sweetly adds its beauty and peace to those dining habitually over their mundane plates, changing slowly the place, the setting.

Like a hopeful child it may not be my place to add comment or conclusion at times.

Last week, I realized clearly that my insights, my intelligence and my speaking incessantly about how much I care about heartbreak and tragedy are insignificant to the person in their grief, their trauma, their fear.

I sat with the truth of that for a long time. Depleted from the knowledge of nothing I can do and the acceptance of it, I courted thoughts of giving up, of being a more silent spokesperson, of staying in the background, kind of keeping to myself what help I may know.

There’s value in that, giving what you can when you run across a need, otherwise just waiting and knowing people know you’re there.

November, it’s only day 3 and you’re really schooling me!

You’re refining my understanding of brokenness and you’ve got a steady eye on the fire that’s creating me as valuable, a vessel for pouring out my knowledge my and hope.

You through me.

Made to know you, to worship you.

To reveal my hope.

Hope that is needed.

Hope incomprehensible, hope that others need.

Farther along, we’ll understand vividly, so clearly, the why of everything.

I love so very much, this folksy rendition, this truth and song.

Farther Along

November, I see your reason, my naming you my turning of season.

Grace, November, you are feeling like grace. I’m grateful you found me again

For catching my almost fall back in to what looks like sadness that is actually fear.

31 Days, Freely – When

“The monarchs are migrating.” I offered as if I knew anything at all about butterfly migration or Fall.

“It’s amazing how far they travel, they’re on the way now,” he added a foreign place I can’t remember and told me how he had read of their journey, how they were created to become beautiful and then to fly.

I know nothing about such things, I’ve only heard about this, I realize.

I sit with my feet in the sand in the place that was clear for us, a wide space, no other people in our space.

They kept flying near along with the dragonfly, landing or flirting with the possibility of resting near my chair.

I tried to capture the image, they only captured my fascination.

Walking, the next day before leaving, I saw another one there. This one, in the rubble of raked debris, just lying there.

The Lab was distracted as I bent to collect it, a small one, I kept it in my hand.

Knowing that it was landed there softly for my finding.

Knowing every little thing on my path is significant to my story.

Yesterday, we gave $5 to a woman with a sign. She reached through my window and I avoided her eyes, “God bless you today for this.” she said and then the light changed and I led us on our way towards food in the hungry and impatient line of cars.

My husband wondered about her worthiness and we both decided his observation might be right.

Then we chose to let go of our judgment, to let be what will be with her intentions, only feel sure ours were good and hopeful and done in love we certainly didn’t consider ever having for her at all.

Not her, nor the shaken young woman, mistaken somehow in her driving, causing our accident. It is best to love her although it makes no sense at all.

I woke this morning deciding not to judge her, nor the others who may have been off track, trying to get back on.

Deciding love is better, costs so very little at all.

When we choose love, people get the best of us, they get to see Jesus coming through because there’s no way we’d ever be so consistent with mercy at all.

“We love because he first loved us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m not able own my own.

When we love, we aren’t able to judge. When we really love, there’s no sense or room for judgment, at all.

31 Days, Freely: Day One

img_0863

Day 1, Story

“even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A year or so ago, my story was not the same. It was brave and descriptive and overall, the content served a purpose.

It told a few things readers might relate to, others unaware might be drawn to know more. It was about me and it was going to be about them.

Them, being the ones who brought me harm, stifled my self-confidence, my self-awareness, and my soul truly for a long time.

It would be about some who turned shielded eyes to say they’d not known, turned from my distress saying that must be where she wanted to go.

It was a hopeless story pretending to portray hope and may have caused hurt to a few.

Not necessarily an expose’, just would have thrown a lot of “shade” on a select more than few.

Today, I’m beginning 31 Days of writing. In October, along with the Five Minute Friday community, I’ll write using a prompt, today’s is “story”.

This is my story now.

img_0871
Healed and Hopeful

The story I’m choosing, the one that is hopeful and intentional and is led closely by my Father, God.

By my Savior, Jesus and the Spirit saying choose this new way.

  • I turned my eyes from the piece about the candidate and his high school buddies and what he really meant by what he wrote in the yearbook. I turned my attention away. Because last week the news and the media’s social conversation starters stirred up three nights of nightmares just as real as the days before. For a split second, I remembered clearly then turned my thoughts from those days, those nights.
  • I didn’t contribute to the hashtag conversation on why I didn’t report. Even after so many strong women were, it has no bearing on me now, the conversations about before.
  • I love my friend who suggested we all change our Facebook profile pic to blacked out squares. It is supposed to show men what the world would be like without women. Instead, I painted for three hours, a piece not up for sale. It occurred to me to black out my face on Facebook would mean darkness, fear, hiding. Decided I’d rather show God’s glory in me and the women I have around me. My profile pic is my painting.
  • I planned to write “lightly” 31 Days and changed my theme.  I’ll be writing “freely” knowing full well there is still slavery all around. Women who are hurting and angry and fired up and men who were who they were when they scoffed over the good old days with girls. They’re here and real. Their eyes may land here and I may never know their reaction to my choice to not join in. My choice that seems unpopular by the world’s take on this stirring up of women who will not stay silent. I choose silence because I know silence is God’s will for me staying well.

 

My story is freedom.

I’m sticking with it, my “freedom story”, the colors of my Bible are my Bible, of my life.

img_0872
The Colors of My Bible

Healed and hopeful because of knowledge, joy, mercy, patience, love, grace, and understanding. It’s too much a burden to go back and begin carrying my hurt around again, too heavy a yoke of sad slavery.

“For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Father, if there are readers still reeling from trauma or reminded of trauma and feeling pulled back into fear, I pray you lead them to hope and that they find counseling specific to trauma recovery. I pray they know you are near and that persistence towards healing not the pursuit of patterns that cause us to stay focused on before is your desire. I pray you will remind them and me of the woman at the well, the woman who stood before men who were ready to cast stones. She watched them all drop to the ground as Jesus told her she was free, now go and remember this day no more. I pray you will remind us that fear is not from you, only hope. That those deserving of condemnation will surely be handled by You on our behalf. 

Because of mercy,

Amen

Stay tuned, or better yet, join in. Tomorrow, Day 2 is prompted by “afraid”

Understanding Alone

God is in the midst of her…Psalm 46:5

You may know the quote, the one about being courageous enough to grow up and be who you are.

The labels and descriptions you may have spent the bulk of your life trying to prove wrong won’t be thrown off, won’t allow your discarding.

For they know they belong.

You’re not aloof, you just understand more clearly than others maybe, the longing for and gift of alone.

You are finally you, and okay more now than then with your understanding of alone.

My son in law uses an expression quite often that makes me smile when he gets it slightly wrong.

“To each is love, Miss Lisa” , he’ll remind me when we’re noticing people who don’t look, act or talk the same as us.

Maybe he’s right, maybe to each of us “it is our own” and for each us to be here all crowded together, it is love that is required.

I dislike crowds. Some don’t believe me. Speaking in public comes with the territory of my work. Facing crowds with half-hearted expressions and faces to talk about hard things my heart beats for, is hard for me.

When I’m done, I retreat, I long to be hidden, wish I could sit in silence.

I need to be alone.

You know the story about the sheep that Jesus told the disciples in John, 10?

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If I were a sheep I’d be the one close enough to the fold and keenly listening to be sure I didn’t get separated.

I’m the one Jesus keeps his eye on, knowing my need not to be sort of alone, but still close enough to know His love.

I’m the one often mistaken for aloof, sweet little “shy” one, the childhood description that stuck.

The one in the midst of the gathering either making awkward conversation or biding time until I can again be alone.

“To each is love.”

To each of us quiet sheep following our shepherd but lingering on the edge of the crowded and maybe boisterous crowd, to each of us too, is His love.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:27-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We feel safer in our aloneness, quiet in our quiet places.

We hear our shepherd more clearly when we’re not amongst all the others, competitive or compelling the crowd might be, good crowd or just noisy crowd.

We know where we long to be. So does He.

Linking up, prompted by the word “crowd” with others for Five Minute Friday.

Reflections Clearly

Jesus met the woman at the well. She described Him as a stranger and yet was compelled to know Him more.

It is the same with me, the same with us.

I consider myself lucky that it’s not the same face to face chronological recitation of my wrongs, rather the knowing that He knows and with no need for discussion speaks gently to my soul saying,

“Lisa Anne, let’s move on.”

Move with me now, not against me.

And like the woman drawing out her supply of water, I allow myself to go without far too long and I come back to the well.

“The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?”

‭‭John‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He tells her. She asks to be quenched of her thirst and Jesus suggests she go and fetch her husband to join them.

She tells him she’s not married and He answers like a parent who’s been carefully observing and waiting for the proper time for telling,

Yes, I know. I know what you have done. I know you have a reputation.

I know you’ve been with many men.

She’s surprised, not humiliated or else I believe she would’ve run. Imagine a man you consider a stranger being bold enough to confront your attempt to cover.

It’s time for new water, He says, let me share mine with you.

And she accepted His offer.

Then she left her water jar beside the well and ran quickly to tell others.

“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”

‭‭John‬ ‭4:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Changed by her encounter she had much to say. She couldn’t wait!

I sat with someone this week who came asking for help for someone other than herself. She brought him along, his eyes were sad and yet, open to change.

Desperate for a resolution, she said she thought I might know more and phone calls on speaker were made, options discussed and possible plans suggested.

The conversation shifted. She was tired, I was right, her choice was wrong, what will she do now?

I suggested the same as I suggested before and reminded her how I thought her mama life should line up now.

Straightforward responses that caused the troubled one with her to lift his face in surprise that I might be so bold.

He commented, “I like you, you shoot straight.”

She sat still, face towards her lap and I told him it’s only a small amount of time I get someone within my reach and so if I want to help, I don’t hold back on my words.

“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”

‭‭John‬ ‭4:39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If I have opportunity to tell, Lord, help me to tell. Me

The door opened wider and she told me she’d gotten away from God, that she doesn’t seek Him, doesn’t make time.

She said it began weeks ago.

I told her I knew, that I had seen it in her eyes, in the way we’d met before and she’d insisted all was good; but, she hurried away and shot out the door.

On this day she sat and I suggested what I know to be true, a true indication of my own distance from or closeness to God.

Begin to pray again, read your Bible, get quiet.

Look in the mirror today and then continue, coming back to it and remember the mirror now in comparison to before.

You’ll like what you see, your eyes more open, your cheeks back up and resting where they belong, your smile will be not of your own making, instead from Him.

It’ll be like you are singing your song again, dancing your dance.

Joy will be your reflection. Your spirit no longer thirsting for whatever was wasted on your attempts to quench it.

This I know, because I know.

I’ve tested my suggestion, I’m well acquainted with my countenance either content or conflicted.

This morning, I woke and prayed:

God help me to tell others the things you have told me.

Things like the mirror story, I tell it because it is mine and things like meeting Jesus and the mercy of His knowing my wrongs.

And remembering them no more.

There’s a song that sounds like love to me.

The lyrics and the tone sway gently with its story, Jesus holding us close and taking the lead, leading me on in a dance of love.

You steady me.

You set my feet to dancing.

Bethel Music

Listen and you might better understand the love of Jesus, the way He says come near, stay near, dance with me now and forever.

We Dance

Beautiful is our reflection.

When it is from Him.

Heaven, Rain Down

“Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge…?”

‭‭Job‬ ‭37:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are countless things I do not know.

I’m afraid my need to know overshadows my trust in the one I say I know.

Some may say it is so, that when evening comes, my morning proclamations fade and my trust might be pretend.

I told my husband I’d be happy if it rained all day today. Something ’bout a day filled with rain makes some things more permissible.

Rest, and not obsessing over lack or just a nod saying,

retreat, gather your thoughts and get ready

continue the redirection you started and then allowed your feet and faith to falter.

Know who you are and acknowledge the tendency towards the former, adjust your sails, begin again.

We go slow sometimes in our going towards good, our turning from old to new.

Someone I know loves to look towards the sky. Me too, like her, more now than before.

Yesterday, the clouds were massive. God was very near.

I couldn’t look away, wished now I’d thought to lie out my grandma’s quilt on the ground and do nothing but stare.

Fixing my gaze on heaven not my weighty frame as I laid there, caring about nothing other than clouds.

It would have been heavenly, a little heaven on my tiny space of earth.

It would have and will be, more than enough.

The atmosphere is changing now. The spirit of the Lord is here.

The evidence is all around…

Here as in Heaven, Elevation Music

I get so very distracted, forgetting how far I’ve come.

“Lord, help me be present.”

This morning, I’m four chapters away from finishing the Book of Job.

Chapter 37 has a prophet detailing God’s majesty yet again to Job.

Reminding him God is God and he is not.

We are not.

“For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭37:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In Chapter 38, God gives further reply.

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?

Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?

Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,”

‭‭Job‬ ‭38:34-37‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Job accepted not knowing.

Job knew God knew.

I’m reading a book now that I’ve set aside, glanced towards to return to and on purpose placed it next to me with pencil for marking.

Its message for me, at first wonderful to know, I guess now seems too wonderful for me to know, to live.

You see, I know it is for me, still so hard to grasp less fleetingly, the knowledge of my need to let God be my full focus.

The day before the author autographed her book, I had committed to a change of perspective.

Told myself, memorizing the order…

God.

Family.

Writing.

Art.

Work.

Knowing full well, for far too long it has been about me, my lack or my striving to be worthy.

That author asked my name, her smile met me and then her eyes for a second more when I replied, “Lisa Anne”.

And the sharpie message to me remains.

God first!

Lisa Whittle

The book, a response to a pieces falling apart time in her own life, “I Want God- Forever Changed by the Revival of Your Soul”.

I Want God

I’m only through Chapter One, because I dance the dance of too much to know and too long I have not known.

Commit or continue on the same.

This is why we must want this with our whole heart and not just know in our head we need it. We can be told a million times over that we should want God, but our flesh will convince us every time it is a lie.

So it then comes down to the ache and the longing of what we want more.

Gradually, I am wanting more, my eyes turn from the mirror reflecting a haphazard pursuit and I look inward to His spirit in me.

More often now, the reflection is radiant.

As I look up and attentively within, compelled more towards my heaven than my earth.

My atmosphere is changing now.

The spirit of the Lord is here.

Where God Has Me

Lisa Brittain writes about freedom, trust and surrender. She asked me to write about freedom.

She reminds the reader that when we look to the Lord, we are radiant and without fear. (Psalm 34:5).

This morning, I read my contribution to her blog. It’s an odd excitement to see your words in other places, I hope it will always be exciting. I believe it will.

Today, it prompted a sort of urgent self-reflection, a gentle stirring me to right a slight wrong.

Early still, I’m awake and thinking about this new “forgetting and forgiving is freedom” place God has me.

I know it’s the right place, this place of deliverance longed for for so long.

Yet, it’s not about me.

I’m glad I caught it early.

Self-examination in the quiet space of morning caused me to trash quickly a post, one about not joining in the conversations about new and overwhelmingly increasing numbers of sexual abuse disclosures.

I harshly used the word “bandwagon” to judge others who are finding their voice and bravely revealing what they’d hidden for so long.

My 5:30 a.m. journal is a note to self:

Are you boastful when you declare your progress?

Are you self-righteous when you proclaim your healing?

Somewhere I remember self-righteousness being like filthy rags.

Oh.

Maybe.

And my sermon to self?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I will preface the sharing of my post on freedom by being clear.

I understand how important it is to confront physical, sexual, emotional abuse and if appropriate, even the abuser.

I understand the powerful freedom that comes from declarative disclosure, ideally with a trusted and trained therapist.

It is important to say aloud and as often as needed:

“He, she, they should not have hurt me.” or “What happened to me was wrong”.

Yes, I do understand.

I understand the strength you never thought was yours equipping you in your disclosure and growing stronger and stronger.

I understand to decide to step away from those wounds, to move on towards new and vibrant places with a countenance of confidence is a decision of will and of faith, of determination and daily rising up to meet the road with God beside me.

I’m not able on my own.

My decisive daily prayer of what to do now with my survivor story that was once horrific and now, hopeful has become:

Lord, what do I have to say that others need to hear, to read, to know? Help me to help and not hinder and to speak more of my hope through you than my harm through them. May it be so.

Because of mercy, Amen

Here’s an excerpt from my post on which Lisa gave space for my freedom story.

   For so long, I’ve held tightly to my harm from abuse.  My days and nights have been marked by reminders that prodded the scars of my heart’s wounds, the scars that would be forever tender. Talking with others who understood or at least could attempt to be empathic, I was committed to my mindset, a decision to “keep my stuff”. It was a huge part of me…

Read more here:

The Freedom of Forgetting