Hold Hands

Wisdom from my aunt. I’ve written about her before. We call her “Aunt Boo”. Her name is Sue Nell when it truly should be Grace or Vivian or maybe Jacquelyn she’s so timeless in beauty.

When she calls, I need an hour and it’s the best hour I’ll ever spend.

This morning, my phone rang and I talked to “Aunt Boo” who said I was heavy on her heart and asked me how I was feeling. When I told her I wasn’t having a good morning, she said, Oh, Lisa…me neither and then we took turns telling how this time is scaring us. By the end of the call, she said she felt better. I did too. Even though she didn’t once say “prayer and patience”, she said plenty even better.

She said, “I’m not a psychologist and I don’t read books; but, I just think God made some hearts to feel things much harder than others and that’s me and you.” 💕

She talked about family and the way my granddaddy was so rowdy and yet, had the heart of a baby, he cried over lots of things. He did some things he shouldn’t have, she told me, but oh he had a tender heart.

We talked about wisdom, how things you don’t think you can survive are meant to show you that you can and are meant to make you trust God forever. We talked about my cousin and how long it had been since she passed away but how everybody in the family still remembers her from her “good days” not her bad times. She reminded me, family forgets the hard, holds on to the good.

She told me “Women are just different than men, the way we react to life and hard times.” Keep moving, she shared her solution or anxiety will put you down.

Then she told me to do something for her.

She said, “I want you and Greg to sit and hold hands.” I laughed. She was quiet. I forgot about it until I went outside. “Aunt Boo wants me to hold your hand and send her a picture.”

“Okay” he said.

And it didn’t really hit me until I looked back at the photo, the wisdom in this one small thing. In a time of isolation and talking to friends from a distance, sterilizing everything AND the kitchen sink. Whose hand can you hold? Who will be with you because they’re already here?

So, thanks Aunt Boo for the possible handholding you’re gonna inspire.

Get yourself an Aunt Boo, someone who’s just enough gentle faith, honest commentary and wisdom, enough for generations.

Light Returns

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Light, Returning

Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself

The light is returning.

I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.

The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.

She doesn’t know or does she?

Her grandma is new.

Her grandma is breaking old cycles.

She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.

The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.

Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.

God, why did you allow this to happen?

This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.

And what followed.

My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.

I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.

It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.

Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.

Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.

He had a beer.

I had a glass of Merlot.

It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.

Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.

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I’m Still Standing

A relationship of almost twenty years,

Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.

We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.

It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.

Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.

Committed and secure.

Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.

I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”

Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.

He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.

I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.

I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.

Still.

I was thirsty and nervous.

I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.

The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.

I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.

The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.

The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.

I said his name.

I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.

You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.

He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.

I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.

I said I’m okay now.

Just wanted to be sure you knew.

But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.

This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.

It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.

Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,

Would you say that was strength or weakness?

Naturally, he said “strength”.

But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?

Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.

I fought it.

I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.

I prayed.

It is not up to me, restoration, only God.

I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭80:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.

Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.

Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.

The note was not necessary.

Or was it?

Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.

I thought the same things.

I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.

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Reason to Believe

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.

Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.

You don’t remember the conversations.

Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.

Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.

The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,

I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.

I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.

I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.

Why did you let this happen?

Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.

Why such a setback?

Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?

He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.

But, he did.

I’m farther along because of it.

God knew I would be.

No setback now, only cause to move on.

For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.

What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.

Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.

The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.

Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.

A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.

Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.

But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.

The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.

My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.

Redemptive and light.

Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.

The light of believing and continuing.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

I’m still standing. I’m still here.

I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.

Good, not harm.

Light always returns.

Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.

Love one another.

Protected Child

I watched the shifting sky, the colors filtered and spread wide.

I’m with my granddaughter on our morning walk, earlier this time.

The sky beckoning her gaze.

I capture her profile, her mama and daddy’s home in the background.

Her cheeks are full and full of joy and their blush is the same as what God has mixed in with the sky.

We walk.

I hold tight, shift her weight, careful not to have my arms press in to her tiny frame.

She welcomes my hold.

She regularly tilts her sweet face in awe of the trees, the sky.

I pray out loud, sing songs that include her name and other crazy things.

I love her. What a sweet thing.

Someone from the coast asked for my thoughts yesterday,

What do you say to your storms? DH

I answered.

I tell the storm, “I’m protected.”

This morning, I think of my children, my family and I have a moment of new and needed clarity.

If I’m protected, are not my children protected as well?

I journal my thoughts on a morning that God woke me at 4 and I decided, get up anyway.

I thought about God’s all encompassing immense and protective love.

How he loves them even more than I ever could be able.

God, you’re their protector just as you are mine.

I don’t have to “stay on top of things”.

I don’t have to anxiously remind you in my prayers to keep things under control.

Ha! Wow!

Me, reminding you of your role?!

I don’t have to watch from a distance so far that I squint to hope to see what’s going on, strain to hear, concentrate or calculate the endings of stories of their books when they are barely a chapter in.

And that you, not I, have already written.

I can set aside my book, my syllabus of reading between the lines, leaning toward tragic stories over beautiful and memorable autobiographies.

Like mine.

Yes.

I can know they are protected.

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I can love more fully than I’ve ever loved.

Point more clearly towards hope.

Be strong so that my strength is what they admire.

Yes, love.

Love is the protection, mine to freely give.

Best I can offer.

Protection is yours.

Faces like Flint

Walking in step with the other, he paused when she paused. Each holding a skinny canned beverage boasting caffeine.

I’m standing in the kitchen of our vacation place, cleaning up from the breakfast spread, I look down to stare.

I’m drawn to their partnership, she takes his drink as he looks down towards the little boy with his face towards his lap and his arms angled perfectly at his sides, his legs positioned the same, the child seated in a small wheelchair.

It’s early and not so crowded, already hot, I decide they’re set on letting him see the ocean, planning to beat the Saturday crowd.

The man waits while the woman lights her cigarette, he takes a sip from his can and then passes it back to her. She manages all three, her Red Bull, his Monster and her Marlboro.

With both hands, he grips firm the wheelchair and as they pass by underneath, I step back, hoping to go unnoticed, my gaze and my sad sympathy.

Because they were determined in their partnership, their faces without expression, their eyes hollowed slightly.

Their day unfolding and being met by their best effort to continue, I felt.

I looked away. It’d be a shame I decided to have them see the pity in my eyes or worse, really, the acknowledgment of gratitude in my gaze that my life is mine.

But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. – Isaiah 50:7

Their faces set like flint and continuing forward, Lord help them I pray, lighten their loads and bless them in their endeavors with their child, help them to know you see them, that you see them unafraid and unashamed. Help me to see others, see others more than I see me.

A Blessing Simply

Yesterday began with creamy oatmeal, warm in my lap and just a touch of the crunch of peanut butter.

I believe I shall have this today as well.

Made a pot of soup later and had a whole house quiet til afternoon.

“It’s a blessing,” he said, as I questioned whether I’d need a jacket to walk the dog.

The temperature just right and he’d come in from the country place where his parents lived before they died.

I ventured out and walked all the way around. We met three little girls who were new to the neighborhood and bouncy with their bubbliness “a dog!” I heard one say.

So, I eased him over and had him sit while I guided their tiny hands, one at a time to pet him. They smiled big dimpled smiles, one with chocolate on her cheek and their hair was all tousled and let be.

We walked on and I unleashed him on the trail, he started into a little trot and I walked slightly ahead then called him to come back.

As we turned back to the main road, I saw them there, their backs bent and their faces close the ground. The rhythm of their work so simple their eyes never rose to meet us.

An empty lot, a new home unoccupied and the lawn already laid down in pieces, someone had smoothed the pine straw in a sort of kidney-shaped border amongst the pines.

A few more feet we walked and I saw the determined face of the wife, not the husband. Her long gray hair fell over her face, her hand smoothing it behind her ear, I thought her eyes will see us; but, she carried on with her picking up and dropping into a bucket.

Not a sound, not a word, no invitation for how are you or what a pretty day, obliging conversation.

I thought of their tranquility as I walked on, thought of their solitude and silence, together.

The task at their hands wasn’t their responsibility, but a choice.

As if all the pine cones had been picked up from their yard already, just around the corner and they sought and found another place to do the work of their hands, the work of a simple life.

We came to the place where the three daughters now live and seeing us from far off, the oldest must have planned it just right as they skipped towards the end of their driveway to see the dog again.

Fascinated by his softness, their voices soft and admiring, I allowed them a little more time to be little, captivated by their sweet faces and the joy of their conversation.

We headed back up the hill, the big Lab relaxed into a saunter and I thought wow, he was right, it’s a blessing, this day.

This simple day.

The evening came and I thought of them again, the couple uninterested in us, singing the song of solitude, of silence, a simple life.

Then lyrics found their way in and the thought of this season, a simple season of love and grace understood more clearly, held much closer to an embrace. I thought of Alison Krauss and went searching because I remembered her wanting something simple like that.

Simple Love

A love song seemed fitting, more than enough, so I sang it.

Yesterday was simple, in its solitude. I believe today I shall find it too, grace, mercy, peace, and love. Find it unexpectedly when not looking or not so a surprise in my seeking.

Because yesterday had room to breathe, it was made of open spaces and things just fell into them without agenda. And God gave me grace and since I’d decided, not sure why, it didn’t seem an intentional choice, to rest from berating myself for what not done; or the agony of the fear over never being done, I was open.

Open to mercy, to love, then came peace.

“May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m linking up with others here: nitaojeda.com/2017/11/26/imm-november-12/

Jennifer Dukes Lee spoke so much truth here, thank you seemed like never enough:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/dont-get-know-time/

Weep No More

I tweeted “me too”, not even close to the allowable character limit, my sentence vague and just a hint of reference to my past.

Others have declared loudly and clearly their memories of being ravaged, manipulated, tried and terrorized.

I tweeted how it’s with me still, how I’ll never not be bothered by the battering.

It’s the fabric of me, woven and sewn into my story, I use it to try and strengthen others on days I’m strong.#MeToo

I saw her yesterday, her jeans too big, I wanted to ask why. Her walk the same, determined and continuing forward, still just her. It has been lately.

She walks alone now.

I saw her the first time this year in early Spring. She walked looking down mostly, her face towards the sidewalk. There was the empty space of two or three people blank between her and a man.

The air was cool still, requiring a jacket or sweater and hers hung over her shoulders. Her body reminding me of a wire hanger and she’d not lined up the garment’s seams.

Her jeans were off kilter, they hung askew and I thought she must be bothered by being unable to keep them up; but, decided she’d learned to make the best of hard things, pants not fitting, the least of concerns. Her shoes barely showing from the drag of hem, their flat soles like a piece of old cardboard. I imagined the sound of denim touching concrete, seemed similar too a lull.

Yet, she walked on. I wondered where she goes. I saw her face only slightly in my mirror glance as I passed by on my way towards my day.

Her long hair, unattempted uncontrolled, I longed to approach her, to know her well enough to gently tuck the long strands of dark hair behind her ears. I longed to know her in a way that she’d welcome my gesture. I created a story in which I could tell her my story, one that would include “me too” as I’ve seen her now unaccompanied by the man.

But, I’d be wrong to assume, wrong to demand conversation, wrong to open a wound she may have begun to heal.

Because, I’ve been drawn in to the stories of others who said “Me too”. I was pulled in, applauded braveries and became both captivated and courageously angry over others like me.

I thought of Hagar, the maid forced to give a barren woman a child. Hagar, manipulated and groomed for something someone else felt was their right. She was used for sex then shamed for giving in, for complying with the demands of those who hoarded over.

She did what they wanted and was quickly discarded.

But, God saw her. He met her and told her good will come from this, good towards you and from these abusive and harmful actions by one who used their control.

Good will come. Hagar believed God and it changed her course. Changed the course of mankind.

“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

I hope to see her again, the woman who walks every morning. But, I’ll not invite conversation or long to know I’m wrong or right about my assumptions.

I’d welcome the chance to know; but, I’d no longer force my way in, beg her to tell.

Last night, I woke my husband. I screamed out “No…..!” in my sleep. I was dreaming. I was in a room. I saw the shadow of ominous shoulders, so large and overpowering outside my window. I waited. I knew he’d be coming inside. I cowered into the corner. He raised both arms and pushed me hard into a corner.

I moaned, “No…..”

It scared him, my husband said, has said before.

He woke me, gently pulling me free,

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa.

I shifted under the covers.

Placed my hand on my chest and said no more me too, no more, and slept soundly and languished long, woke deciding I’ll not go back there, to the place of being damaged by men who made me a “Me Too”.

I’ll trust the God who has brought me through and my story will be as strong as God has promised, has made good on His promise.

But, it won’t be sorrowful and it will scare me no more.

I pray if my story is to be told it won’t cause remembrances that bring forth fear, fear from those places healed; that I’ll not cause the opening of old wounds.

I’ll keep walking forward in the way that brought healing.

I’ll walk like the woman I long to know, determined in her way, her shoulders more level, her face steadily more uplifted each morning I pass.

I’ll keep looking ahead and remember the wisdom of someone more than half my age, it doesn’t help to hold onto the bad things that happened before. They happened, move on.

Walking forward, never backward, lest I allow myself to be tripped again by fear.

“…you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:19-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’m linking up with other writers to Tell His Story here:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/control-think-free-printables/

Talking About Georgia

Last night he asked, "I took you from your home, didn't I?"

And I waited for my words to form.

Answered, a soft sigh, "Yeah."

But, my answer was slow in coming because I thought of all the good in this place.

And I was happy to be asked, to have Georgia remembered.

Driving home from boot camp, I'd stretched myself even more, things like planks, crunches and mostly the people around watching me try had worn me out.

The sun was setting as I turned up the hill that meets sharp curve and the sky a mixture of dark and light after a rain.

I decided, the sky was God to me and God, the sky.

I glance upwards often, it has become my place to remember where I began.

I begin each morning in the same spot. My journal in my lap, pretty pencil in my hand.

Everyday, the prayer of Jabez, the one I've seen answered. That God would bless me indeed, enlarge my borders and keep His hand on me so that I not be in pain.

Then, I read and I think and add penciled prayers to pages.

Today,

Father, thank you for mornings.

For not giving up on me.

For making me fearfully and wonderfully and for calling me towards you so that I every day I'm beginning to know surely and more fully and more well the way you made me for this time

This place.

Thank you for Georgia, the place that made me and thank you for mornings and my morning place in this place.

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

Linking up for Five Minute Friday and thankful God made me to love words and gives opportunity to write and read and grow.