Breakfast, Dreams Unsettled and Possibility

I’ve only scratched the surface, understanding who I am. Some things I’ve settled on being done with, the unsettled traumas no longer unsettling me. I’m not settled, though, on all I’ve yet to see, what God made me for, possibility.

Before I went to the kitchen cabinet I remembered, I didn’t buy the cereal.

I woke up this morning and laid quietly anticipating my decided on Raisin Bran with banana swimming in creamy white milk.

I’d be on the second cup of dark coffee made the color of soft wheat with my half and half cream and a tiny bit of honey.

Raisin Bran is my favorite. It had been years since I had allowed my treat. After having just what I wanted for breakfast yesterday, I made up my mind to do it again.

Sigh, I took the other road, I bought the cardboard textured granola.

I settled.

This is not unique to me, this deciding something less is better for me, deciding I’ll just stop here, only the small good things were meant to be mine.

It is not unique to me that under the layers of self-critique there resides untapped potential, joyous possibility.

It was good and better for me. My rebellion towards sugar only slightly compromised already today. It was good, the granola.

Many years ago, my diet was deprivation. I survived on lettuce laced with mustard and then blew it out by Thursday on keg party beer and Krystal burgers. The memories are not pleasant. I’d love to frame them funny, just not possible.

Now I allow what I want on occasion and I don’t diet harshly or with rigid expectations. I may be close to deciding the 15 pounds I’d like to lose, been talking about it for a few years, have settled, they might be the allowance of grace I need to give me.

Other settling?

Art, book, health, career…I’ve not achieved as much as others here. I’m heavy on the ideas and light on the sticking with them.

Not settling, just waiting and maybe accepting.

Yesterday, I got an email rejection in regards to a story I’ve written about my grandmother, edited three times and sent three separate places now.

What am I to do with these sweet words? I really don’t know. I have so many it’s crazy. How do you settle with them never going anywhere. Writing is hard. I’m not sure why I’ve not quit by now.

Take Me To The Water

Last night after dinner I returned to the large canvas. My daughter had an idea for a painting she’d love over her bed.

Try, try again I did. Covered over covered layers and wiped the whole canvas one color. Again.

“Have I forgotten how to paint?” the familiar aching question.

I stayed at it, kept adding color and layers and I did not quit until I could snap a pic and send to my daughter.

“Beautiful”, was her reply and then that she knew I could sell it and that I should and it shouldn’t be hers for free.

But, it will be if she loves it in person. It will live in the home of she and her husband, their daughter. I won’t find another canvas and recreate it. No, this will be hers.

I don’t want her to settle.

I’m not settling on the small things any longer. I’m having toast with my cheesy scrambled eggs and dark chocolate with almonds in the evening with red wine.

Deprivation to me leans toward punishment. I do love to call myself out. Self-critique over my lack of writing progress is defeating. Pondering perfection based on the price haggled over for painting, so exhausting.

I’ll return to the easel now and I’ve jotted down new thoughts for the book idea. Both, more storytelling and less audience seeking.

And maybe for lunch, I’ll have a Peanut Butter and Jelly, just a half of sandwich on the crusty bread, crunchy peanut butter spread with sweet fig preserves.

I’m believing the wisdom of Psalms and beginning to want to know it full well. I’m choosing to savor everything and be satisfied in the truth that I have only barely begun to know the me made by God.

Good Settling

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s some freedom for me there. In the uncovering of my layers. There’s all sorts of unsettling of my thoughts, my days, my offerings to others.

May it be the same with you.

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

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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.

Winds and Wills

From the window I watched a cloud-like gathering of mist rising up. I could see it drift and sort of fade and then it was evident again, dancing in an upward slow swirl and sway.

The breeze had gathered together it seemed, what was left of the misting rain and it wasn’t collected in anything that could contain it, just danced a bit and then disappeared.

Mystery, in a way.

The seasons, a metaphor maybe God uses to lead us, redirection or reinvention.

The gray rain sky changed to fog and mist and then later the sun landed on the daisies next to the sill.

The day changed.

Crisp, it called and my granddaughter and I went.

I watched the big brown leaves layered on the soft path and then their unlayering, leaning and lifting together with the notice of afternoon’s wind.

We talked about God making things, not sure what else.

We must’ve been listening.

Now today has delivered Autumn, the shift of season made the sky more transparent yesterday late evening.

Seemed that way. Translucent from my perspective.

It may be me.

Believing clarity is cusping.

No longer bold breaking through just responding to pending invitation.

Change, no longer resisted at all.

Direction? Now just a calm consideration of truth not fully revealed.

Shoes on my feet and my arms drawn in tight acknowledging the change.

Embrace the shift, the change, the lack of understanding of everything. Your path will be directed. Look and listen.

You will see.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He will.

If Not For Ideas

I sit with the puppy, my mama’s quilt turned to the side with color, the puppy ate a rubber toy, the red ink of duck lips I concluded.

I flip it over, will wash it today. It’ll wait.

I think of my daddy when I think the word, “Idle”.

This daughter of his was altogether unprepared for independence and yet, I could charge my battery with a jump and when my little blue Celica wouldn’t start, I knew where to spark its start using a screwdriver to beat on just the right wire.

Crazy to think.

Resilience began late for me.

It hasn’t finished just yet.

On a Monday following a post about time chasing after things, I’m happy to have put my pen down, new to do list complete.

I’m sitting on the sofa, moving slowly into Monday.

The puppy is in heaven, our bonding getting better.

Positive reinforcement, not negative, consistent reward and maintaining my cues. What a job! He’s smart and according to the trainer, he really wants to please.

Full disclosure, I wanted a dog but chose a puppy.

Everything in life, a lesson…

Stay at it.

Someone said to me yesterday, resisting change and decision.

“Let’s just idle a little longer.”

I wonder what is their fear of moving forward.

I remembered my daddy telling me before the days of daughters stranded on the interstate with cell phones…I remembered his instruction.

Once you get it started, let it idle but not for long, give it the gas and keep going…My daddy, gone 21 years, this month on the 11th.

Warmth fills my eyes at the thought of me on the side of the road just outside of scary to me Atlanta, remembering how to start my car with a flathead screwdriver.

Wishing this morning I had thanked him for making me see that I was capable.

Capable combined with ideas.

Not able to be idle for long.

I’m learning it’s true what they say about confident waiting, about taking your hands and heart from a situation.

To be surprised when God shows up, shows out or simply gives a nudge.

Because I love understanding words, I compared “idle” to “waiting”.

Found “idle” to be not such a good thing: doing nothing, wasting valuable time, inactive or avoiding work.

See?

Waiting lends itself to a more hopeful stance: expecting, anticipating, to pause or my favorite, “stand by”.

I can visualize “stand by”.

It is evidence of believing truths like God fighting for me when I stay still. It’s indicative of faith, you know the whole enduring in hope of what you haven’t clearly seen.

Like the screwdriver in the hand of a scared and naive young woman about to flunk out on her art scholarship private college…

Waiting only takes a spark, a connection, one thing affecting another

And your engine is started.

You don’t idle. You put your hand and heart to the tasks, you know your ideas are like the pedal to the metal in the dark journey all alone, back home.

Back to you.

I think of a quote, knowing I don’t read nearly enough, so very grateful for recall.

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.  Mary Oliver

 

New this morning?

Dare I share that secret sweet hopeful maybe idea?

A coffee table type book of illustrations, my art, my “Bible girls”, each girl, a story about hope.

Continue.

Continue and believe.

Maybe, I’ll wait

and see.

Some Art

There’s a little church down the road that’s got on its sign,

Bethesda Waters Service

Got me thinking of water, of long needed healing.

Free painted a bit, putting off the commissions and lost myself in blue water shapes and hints of sunshine’s warmth.

“Bethesda”, thick paint on old wood.

Unhindered

I’m curious whether musicians, singers, sculptors and dancers do the same.

Find little pockets of chance to create unhindered by the approval of audience or observer.

“Elizabeth’s First Autumn”

I walked with my baby grandchild and we talked about the leaves. Her eyes told me she was listening when I stopped to gaze on the brilliant color against the still spring like green.

I asked myself,

How does God decide which colors become the most brilliant and in what order and why do some take longer to turn.

I knew the answer, it’s how the sun lays down its warmth on the leaves, how they position themselves.

Same with us, same with me.

I’ll turn towards the light to become God’s idea of brilliant.

If not past years, this one, something is saying to me.

You’re coming into brilliance!

Take your time, keep exposing yourself to me.

Let the change in your colors come naturally and without force or calculation.

Nurture your creativity.

It is your treasure to be shared.

I find I’m painting/writing in this way.

I return to the place of ease and flow whether it be pencil and pad or canvas and easel.

This way, I’m not painting or writing and all along pondering the possibility of rejection.

It’s a practice, this non-demanding creativity.

A worthy practice. Pure abandonment in process and completion.

Unhindered.

I take it with me today as I complete three requests for art.

Today is an art day.

What is your creative expression?

Be unhindered, get it down on paper or hands messy in the clay or paint or across the keys or strings.

God made us to make beautiful things!

What We Need

Not sure which is the source of more regret, sharing our sorrows and discontentment or pretending they don’t exist, that elation and contentment never ever wane as we walk with our Lord amongst others.

Rubbing shoulders with their successes, exposing our less.

The back of my mind wonders if others wonder,

Who is this God she mentions and then seems to regularly forget?

The God who calls her back because He knows her, knows her fully, knows she’s willing to listen again.

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God who knows I’m learning, getting more comfortable with my strengths.

I saw Saturday morning beginning from a distance through the kitchen window.

I rose to see for myself the source of the glow making mosaics in the space of pine trees.

Sun coming up after a hard rain.

I pick the tiny bud realizing it’s been a bit since I brought one in.

Saturday beginning again to remind me not to despise small things.

Small things like regret over words painted by pity that longed for expression.

A sacrifice for others I guess, a place for their brave me too.

I’m happy for Saturday.

Lessons have settled, done their work and woke me with, although reluctant, a return to determination.

To get back with what is mine to do, gather myself up and submit all my efforts and energy to getting back on track.

God’s way.

Patient.

Oddly, “the Stones” are in agreement with scripture today.

I will get what I need.

Not always what I want.

If I try, sometimes.

How we live either stirs us up or settles us. Let your heart hold what’s in your hands right this very moment. Gently discipline yourself again and again and again…until there’s no frantic grasping for other things. You’ve become satisfied with only what is yours to seek, to gather, to make good things from, to hold a bit and then share with others. Your art. Your words.

Try sometime and then sometime again.

You’ll get what you need.

When your heart changes your mind and takes the lead.

Spreads down from your shoulders, your arms, your fingers.

Love you believe, love you release.

Art and words.

Continue and believe.

Listless Pursuits and Edits

How do you continue in a pursuit, something you feel in your soul is yours God gave you, made you to do?

Vocation, talent, thing that when it “clicks” feels like your gift?

How do you keep going when whatever is taking you farther has hit a bump in the road, a stall?

You don’t think right away and resist the realization, God is intentional when He slows us, requires our acceptance of the shift, the limbo, other adjustments we resist.

We want to use what we know, learn from others, humanly input some change to eliminate the insecurities in the lull.

I do anyway.

Partly, y’all. I just turned 59, I waited a long time to believe I had what I call a share-worthy treasure.

My testimony. My story.

My art and my words.

I make lists every morning, both tasks and requests of God longing to be farther along, a little perplexed over do I continue or surrender the idea of possibility.

My mama always said,

It’s all in it!

And I knew it was true but I dreaded her truth, keep on or stop, just know some days you’re floating and others you fight to swim.

I guess bravery keeps swimming, doubt watches from the shore.

I journal little exhortations to myself I hope I may remember an hour later.

Why are we uncomfortable with the state of limbo, I wonder.

Just now, I’ve explored website options for my art and whether I should bring all my pieces home from where I’ve consigned them, lay them down for new photographs and then create a presence, a polished website.

I dream of being selected by a gallery as an artist but I’m not ready or respected without a website.

I’ve just stood with my feet on the rain soaked grass and pondered my day, my ways.

What about the book idea? What about the proposal out there, the query?

I’d rather be an artist. If I’m honest, that’s what I’ve dreamt to be, meant to be?

I’ll finish the remaining seven chapters and then I’ll edit too much me out and then I’ll mail the perspective chapter’s inspiration to each of the women who I’ve set out to honor, to write of their being Jesus to me.

Then, I won’t hold my head down in regret or humiliation over thinking publication might be possible.

I’ll rest in acceptance and I’ll close that door.

Limbo is miserable, waiting is an invitation to toss everything and permission to be satisfied with that discarding.

Then the thought, but your story is for others handicapped by traumatic experiences who need your voice, your choice to seek hope over remorse.

That’s what I’ve always felt God said when He told me this was my treasure.

So, today I will continue. I’ll do one thing at a time.

I will pray and the thing I’m to continue will come naturally.

Naturally, when I don’t look too far ahead and I let God, not me, lead.

I don’t really understand this thing called a calling or being “called” or following a “call”

I told God so this morning.

Is my pursuit to be less about a pursuit guided by a list every morning?

Maybe.

Maybe so and maybe that’s the reason I’m increasingly captivated by His sky?

How silly and such a waste of time would it be for me to stare up towards heaven, backyard, walking trail, parking lot at the mall?

Me, oblivious to anything or one, being pulled upward, seeking, finding, being better, stronger and more suited for His plan?

There has to be a reason my head keeps tilting skyward.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My birthday card from my daughter, her hubby, their baby daughter was a treasure this year!

It wished me, “a rare bird” a happy day. Then the puppy somehow finagled it loose from its frame, found a hidden spot and began at the corner, chewing at the pretty paper.

I was upset. I overthought it. I called the puppy a demon dog with evil intent. I put it away in a drawer, nothing could fix it.

I told my daughter and she allowed my pitiful story. Said she’d get me another and later told me to frame it, what a memory, what a good story!

I told her no, not funny.

Then I did, I framed it, the card with the little birds and the perfect sentiment and the bottom corner imperfect and chewed.

I asked God this morning to bless my writing and to bless my art.

I’m not sure I’ve asked that of Him before. Asked for redirection where I need it, for His gentle push to persevere and a sense of gentle settling when anxiety asks what is coming.

And I asked him to be my editor, to edit me and my story and to help me to know

Am I being led another way or am I running scared? Are you changing my course or am I jumping ship? Am I stubborn child or a patient learner?

Lord, I want to honor you with my life, my words. Help me to edit my story.

“ Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 ESV

‭‭It’s raining now, no sky captivated staring today.

Maybe later. Yes, later.

And more and more, less list obsession and more seeing, knowing, being pursued by God.

I’m linking up at Tell His Story, a community of writers led by Mary Geisen.

https://marygeisen.com/how-to-learn-from-an-arctic-tern/