Believing the Proverb

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When God gave this word to Solomon, He was thinking of Mary, of Martha. He was thinking of Peter, of Paul, of John, of the Woman caught in adultery….too many to tell. He was thinking of me, Lisa and of you, of you as well.

I believe this.

I missed the part about the meeting of their faces until I read the passage. A familiar passage, I remembered the telltale rooster crow and skimmed over the way Jesus saw it all. Jesus saw it all.

I can’t stop thinking how Peter must have felt the next morning. Did he experience a hangover of sorts? Here I am again letting doubt takeover? Maybe not because these hours were the deadly ones, the tortured crucifixion. Sorrow over self had no place then. Only the reality of sacrificial and loving death.

Peter, a man who was the brother of John, the one who was able to step from a stormy boat to walk on the top of the ocean because he trusted God, was sure of Jesus.

His denial to others of his belief is a captivating story.

Jesus told him as he prepared them all at the Last Supper and before. Jesus told Peter, you will deny me.

“Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter was adamant that he wouldn’t.

But he finds himself sitting around a fire outside a high priest’s house that held the captured Jesus. Peter has followed the throng at a distance from Jesus. Not so far that he didn’t appear to be associated with the Savior. Just far enough to avoid the reactions of the ones who’d be making the crucifixion decision.

The onlookers build a fire, like concert-goers in line for a sell out I suppose. Fireside conversation begins and three separate people spread the word, this man here, hey you, we saw you with him. As if to say, why are you sitting here when you’re known to be a friend of Jesus?

Peter told all three, “not me”.

“And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Then a rooster crowed three times. Peter met the eyes of the watching Jesus. He wept. He wept at the realization of a Savior who knew him so very well.

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:61-62‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter’s story doesn’t end here. He encountered the resurrected Jesus and he continued his life proclaiming all he had learned from his experiences with Jesus.

I’m thinking about the fireside scene. How in the world did Peter succumb to peer pressure? Why was it so hard for him to believe without being afraid of consequence or opinion?

I believe it may have been just a fear in general in believing good things could actually come true.

But, this is probably just my takeaway. That we believe what we can count on based on our histories to be true, to be certain, to be what we can count on.

Our humanity causes our hearts to draw the map for our minds to follow. I don’t think Peter was unsure of Jesus. More than that, he was unsure of himself. So, he placed himself with the accusers, the deniers, the cynics and the intellects.

He felt more at home that night with the ones who chose to believe a sure thing, not life changing, miraculous or unseeable.

Jesus knew he would. Peter’s behavior was forgiven. The account of Peter tells the undeniable truth for me and you.

Jesus knows we’re prone to doubt, afraid to speak out, that we dumb ourselves down at times when it comes to our faith.

Jesus knows we’re afraid to be bold on occasion. Knows we’re quite tentative in stepping into his promise of better, of complete.

Yesterday, I heard a statement.

You will be as safe from sin as you are close to Jesus.

What I believe and whether I believe completely is fully known by God. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him. His denial leaves a compelling story for us all.

The regret of Peter over distancing himself from Jesus. The realization and tender repentance when met with the gaze of Jesus.

A repentance, loving and open because of mercy we all can know.

Again and again.

What we believe makes the difference. Believing with an uncertainly over God or believing with all our hearts.

“The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Enduring

I don’t keep track of when I began. I know I should. I just don’t know a whole whole lot about numbers.

I lose my “umph” when I get wrapped up with who’s reading, who’s buying a painting…who follows me, who’s interested! I wrote about this in this month’s Newsletter:

https://mailchi.mp/23b2252f56aa/believing-in-a-lasting-way

But, people are reading. People are seeing.

I am shipping art to a gallery in Greenville, SC called Me’lange.

I have an article in the current issue of Fathom Magazine. https://www.fathommag.com/stories/i-would-say-jesus?fbclid=IwAR3mruDC0Zb0FP_px_LxDto0i1PVDtBqUYdEMXYyovf_QYi9fhKen-5GiKA

My art was here in 2018.

Still, I know me and can’t let this be big. I am much more comfortable with small…doing small things and letting my God be big.

Here’s the end of a quote I’m loving.

“Do not be so eager in your vain desires, do not even be so eager in avoiding eagerness; go quietly in your own path … it is a good path.” St. Francis de Sales

Belief in Farming

Crazy title, crazy thing,

true story.

I always wanted to be a farmer.

Daddy had a garden several years, in the big back yard of the nicest home we lived in, in the narrow yard of the old house in the sketchy neighborhood, the westside of town.

And in the country, the furrowed rows could be seen from my window in the place where my children and I lived next to them, my mama and daddy.

All around us were other bigger fields.

My cousin worked them every year.

Soybeans, corn, peanuts, the rotation.

And wheat, the swaying stalks the place where my little girl loved to escape.

Just in front, sandy dirt, easily bogged down road that required us to memorize the ruts, there was cold and quiet digging at the end of the day, old bent silver spoons stirred up cakes and castles for both of my children back then.

We were never farmers but we saw the life.

We learned from the living.

We knew that the rain could ruin a crop and the lack of it, the same.

2019 was a year of breaking up my land, fine deep uprooting of long decayed seeds that needed to be give up on.

Crops that were meaningful but not so beneficial saw my surrender to possible new yields.

New seeds were planted and I was faithful even if my faith like a worried farmer sat and cynically muddled over what wasn’t growing.

Waited and accepted the harvest that came and set the mind on plowing down what didn’t produce and waiting til the season said yes to make new furrowed places and drop new seed.

I grew in new ways in 2019, struggle, surrender, stubborn decisions to live differently.

Differently as in not giving up on the possibility of new thoughts, new ways.

Rejecting the idea that nothing could ever grow strong through the work of my words and my hands.

Deciding not to let my fields become a wasteland, instead allow the painful turning over of my ground, the destruction of old roots making space for new planting.

“reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Months ago, I heard someone recite this verse and it simply would not let me go.

I began to grow slowly then.

Slowly being okay with waiting.

Surrender is a strong decision not a flag marking a quitter.

Surrendered ones keep going.

Taking in the nourishment given to me by songs, sermons, scripture.

Quiet, underneath like the soil.

My soul began and is still growing towards the embrace of the truth of the mercy and love of Jesus.

I wondered this morning if rushing towards Jesus, of standing up and saying I believe and not realizing it takes time to grow is a deterrent.

Do we decide not to believe fully because we expect to have a burst of understanding, an all of a sudden plentiful harvest of walking by faith in glorious fields?

I wonder if that causes us to doubt Jesus.

Nothing growing, we quit planting, we stop watering.

Just a thought.

And again, a mindset for me,

Just continue LT.

Continue and believe.

Because of mercy, Amen.

What has been planted, have you planted so far?

Known Soul

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I step out and see the stars I called beautiful last night are concealed thickly.

The moon not nearly as spectacular with an iPhone 7 than my real life view, is big and spectacular.

You won’t see it in this photo.

It peeped through the clouds and their shape was like a little square surrounding it, like an opened box.

My thought?

I agree with God’s ideas.

I agree and am curious over God’s intentional forming of me, my physical form and my tender soul.

Yesterday, I sold two nudes. I talked with the buyer, a stranger about the evolving of my art.

The shape and shaping of me.

She was not interested and yet, I continued.

Perhaps for a more secure understanding, a clarifying for myself of God’s message.

Saying it is good to understand you are wonderfully made. It is good to be unashamed of your hips, your delicate shoulders, the lean one way or the other that has brought curiosity, even disapproval and notice of others.

These tiny framed views from behind of women resting, sitting, every one different are intriguing.

Makes others calm, draws the eye and the soul closer to our maker, I believe.

Bodies holding souls.

We are.

Souls only God fully knows.

I am listening. I am listening to His explanation of me.

My maker.

God knows.

Much is being said about the Enneagram and it’s all over the place, “What’s your number?”, the question of the day.

I was an avid listener although I have no books.

I determined I was a 4, no surprise to many and I took in every 4 podcast I could find, I listened, I spun with the ideas of my stances and stresses and how I’d always be this, just needed to know myself more.

And then I quit being pulled in, I quit listening to experts on me.

I told my cousin I tired of feeling doomed by my number, I tired even more though of the Enneagram talk feeling so cliquish, cultish, a sense of unable to understand ourselves wandering people barely able to survive on our own.

The curiosity and draw of me through the Enneagram had become an idol, a tad bit controlling.

Pulled from wanting to grow based on what God knew and knows of me.

My grad student son told me he’d never heard of it, didn’t need to know a number to know what was good in him and what he could improve.

Still, I kept teetering. Everyone was on the “number train”, I better keep riding.

Until I decided no, something feels like I’m losing my footing, going off the rails God has me on.

Something in the soul of me that is growing daily more translucently known and understood by God said stay away from this number knowing, its complexity is pulling you from me.

So, I’m not listening now.

I’m knowing God made me and life messed me up, detoured my route, caused me to muzzle my soul with my physical choices and torments.

The soul is so quiet.

And yet so very vocal.

So strong.

Such an articulate speaker of me.

I shall listen to my soul and know the wonderful me made by God, understood by God.

I’ll keep pursuing the closeness of me to God, and according to my soul.

He understands me.

No need for numbers or books or trending conversations, not for me, at least.

I’m done perplexing over the complexity of me. Instead, I’ll celebrate my intricacies and know every tiny bit is God’s idea, my soul shall sing its one and only song.

Continue and believe.

No more fixing of me by me.

Light, Your World

What’s the sunrise like in the world where you wake?

Is your view hindered by high building, hard structures or is your inability to see the light a barrier of your own making, a filter because of your unpleasant thoughts based on imperfect circumstance?

All of us, different and yet our days are lit the same way.

Distracted? Disenchanted? Less than optimistic because of imperfection or depression or hard circumstance?

How in the world are our lights supposed to shine when we feel so dull, uncertain or burnt out?

Burned down by our own dimming of our light or worse, someone once again making dark our days, heartbreak despite the glimmer we had of hope.

The country road I take is always busy early.

The curves are predictable now before I see the sunrise. Headlights approach and I steady myself, flip my lights to dim hoping they kindly reply in a soft nod.

Homes are popping up, close together or close to the road, some situated in a low down a path valley.

The road to my daughter’s, the road into town for many has become a community.

I notice the lights on the newest one I like, a modern take on country home. Sleek architecture with clean lines.

Christmas lights, a straight line across the front and one small new tree is curtained in loops of string lights.

I pause and remember my thoughts on such displays, Christmas lights on trees with no sense of order, no symmetry, no design.

No, I don’t want lights outside if we can’t do it right!

My husband asks and I tell him I don’t want lights outside if they can’t be just right, don’t want the display that says hey let’s throw these lights up in the trees and see how they land, see how they shine.

I have always been opposed to such a haphazard plan.

A home near ours has the new idea of lighting that appears to be perfect, fits neatly under the roof line and well, it is perfect. The one perfect tree wears Christmas. It is covered in a mesh overlay of sprinkle.

As neat as a pin, a very quiet display. Set for the season, perfect in a clean and closed fashion to me it seems.

The lights are in place and will shine unchanging til the new year.

A settled and set display on the outside, a view that is unchanging.

I thought of my longing for perfection, my determination to be splendid or nothing at all.

I wondered if the light I display has become so driven towards perfection that I appear unwelcoming.

Or maybe if I’m close to not shining at all.

The Book of Job mentions light twenty-seven times. Job wishes the light would just go away, the darkness made more sense and he longed for death. He wished he had never been born, never seen the light of day.

The light reminded him of his dark place as if to say if I can’t make sense of this time, this place, I don’t want to see it!

“Let its morning stars remain dark. Let it hope for light, but in vain; may it never see the morning light. Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb, for letting me be born to see all this trouble.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭3:3-6, 9-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The life of Job fascinates me, the way an undeserving man can suffer such bitter and destructive nonsense, question God, lose everything, experience despair and continue to consider that God might still be God and be good.

“God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’”

‭‭Job‬ ‭33:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Maybe we’ll string lights in all the trees this year, spread them out across the shrubbery, the bright orange extension chords undisguised in the day and our front yard a maze of electricity source.

For the glorious display when the darkness comes.

Maybe we’ll have lights again.

Imperfect but bright, this might be our display.

On the mornings I keep my granddaughter, I’m excited for the sunrise where she wakes.

We step onto the back porch all bundled and bright she is.

The rising sun is unobstructed there. The land is wide and the horizon only tops of trees.

Good morning, God! Elizabeth and I say.

The display is always brilliant, takes my breath away.

The same sun rose at home this morning, I almost ignored it.

Stepping outside with the puppy, I realize over my shoulder, the sky is ribbons of magenta, coral, powdery blue.

I snap a photo and then pause to admire the camellias.

I’m remembering the little lighted tree, the imperfect display, obvious in its sparse simplicity.

Simplicity keeps calling me back towards the “color story”.

Simply write it, keep it simple. You’re no theologian, Lisa Anne; but you do have a brilliant story.

Don’t we all?

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hope and Strength 2020

I sometimes wish I didn’t love both.

Art and words.

I paint what I call “female forms”.

Some call them angels.

I’ve designed a 2020 calendar. Each month has a thought, a little nudge and a Bible verse.

11×17 on ivory, images large enough for framing.

More photos later and I’ll add to my shop.

For now….just writing about it here.

I’ve done something new.

Feels like a whim.

Is a whim a leap of faith?

Maybe.

Maybe.

More info on ordering this week!

Us With Others

img_8659.jpg

My Bible is open for the first time in almost a week and I’ve found the scriptures’ take on an expression I went to bed with.

I had been thinking of how I’m perceived, in a crowd of strangers who don’t know me, amongst artists and shoppers, women, their children.

For the first time in the bulk of my years it wasn’t about my shoes, my hair, my jewelry, my purse, or even my perfume.

I’ve been without my favorite scent called “Happy” for a bit and so the scent on a not so clear and cool day? I’m hoping it was “Dove” laced clear and clean aroma.

Most of us want to be found “worthy” of good things, pleasant to be with, able to hold a good conversation.

We want to have comparable lives to the ones we are with.

We want to be okay being with most everyone.

Before sleep last night I followed a thought trail to the question of what it means to walk worthy of Christ.

What a life that throws out all other measurements of worth held by society and individuals and simply is focused, content, and well, really just happy to only have one assessor of worth so to speak.

Then I wondered how walking worthy would really look, not me looking at me, but others’ views.

The Book of II Corinthians has four chapters spread across two pages in my Bible.

On the left margin I’ve sketched what looks like a steep hill going up a curve and towards a tunnel. I must’ve been reading Paul’s words about how we may think we are irrevocably affected by our pasts.

But we have lives resurrected, we have hope.

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are some things I shouldn’t have survived. Before, I questioned how and why I made it through. Now, I’m quite certain my present life, the nearness of God, is the reason.

On the right hand margin, there’s a sketch of what I’ve begun calling “margin girls”.

This pencil sketch is an early one with no color and at her feet, I’ve drawn a clay pot and a beautiful rose.

As Paul continues his writing, Chapter 2 is about triumph over our pasts. This is the place where the verse lives that describes what our walk is when we believe, what our aura and aroma will be amongst others.

He also owns his own horrible and murderous past and writes that if we’ve been forgiven, the best thing we can do is to forgive others as well.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It occurs to me now, I used the word “peddler” just last week as I described how I detest convincing, imploring someone through my own neediness that they need to purchase a painting.

” Peddlers”, I think of insincere and unconvinced vendors.

That’s not who I want to be, when I offer up my belief in Jesus as something others are open to believing.

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No, I share the meaning behind the layers in a piece and onlookers are captivated, drawn closer, decide they’d like to own what God has helped me create.

The idea of the painting, the aroma of Jesus in me, inviting curiosity, not unpleasant.

If I’m found worthy, I want to be found a gentle, confident, pleasingly consistent scent of grace and mercy, salvation through my belief in Jesus.

Years ago, two or three, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me

This is your treasure…your art and your writing.

I was thrilled to be found worthy of such a calling! Impressed that I had progressed to such a place, excited…okay, finally it’s my big break kind of thinking.

But, I’m learning slowly, a treasure is small at first and may never be grand or spectacular at all or in an earthly way.

Instead, the treasure only increases in worth when it’s given back through uncertain and timid hands to the one who made it after all.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The thing about God and His teachings through the words of people like Paul is that we don’t understand it fully all at once.

Over time we ponder what is the aroma of Christ that those around me should sense?

What does it really mean to be clay in the potter’s hand waiting to be made into a vessel in which can rest our undeniable faith?

What does it mean to discard all self and others’ assessments of our ability and worth and walk only with one goal.

I want to walk worthy of the God who gave His Son and gifted me through grace to have the Spirit of Jesus in my own very soul. I want to live worthy of this, nothing more.

I suppose if their were a new scent, maybe the Clinique scent called “Happy” I loved so much before, I’ve outgrown.

I’d wear a new aroma, one called “Content” if I owned another pretty bottle.

How are your growing, measuring your worth and your worthiness?

Are you content?

Are you learning?

Content in not suddenly complete and completed?

Content in the balance of caring for the treasure of you, the treasured things you were created to share.

Continue and believe.

You are God’s treasure.

Keep learning.