It would be a stretch to say my parents were like Johnny and June. My daddy was small in stature and my mama although very wise, didn’t exhibit a tone of outward patience. Their tolerance for one another came and went, seems it was either battleground or preparing for the coming battles, a rhythm they finally mastered.
As a young woman, I had to move back home. Things happened that led to college being too hard for me. To an outsider, it would appear I gave up or wasn’t college material. Few people knew, most weren’t informed, college was interrupted by unanticipated harm. So, I lived at home in the house by the pond for just a bit, a young woman trying to figure what’s next and ignoring the need to heal.
Most mornings, I lingered lazily in my room. My fascination with art numbed by my sudden incapability.
My parents were in their chairs with coffee. Their singsong exchange in kind conversation captivated me. This is what made me think of Johnny Cash and his longsuffering wife, June.
“This morning, with her, having coffee.” Johnny Cash, when asked his idea of paradise
I cling to the memory of my parents having conquered hopeless days in their marriage and sitting in their morning chairs, calmly talking, planning for possibility.
It occurred to me last week as I thought of my own children, adults navigating marriage, parenting, career in a time such as this, I don’t remember my parents asking one another a question,
“How did we get here with Lisa? Where did we go wrong?”
And my tender heart is so grateful that I was never privy to those conversations.
Another thing I don’t recall hearing was panic over politics or very much talk at all about trouble to be expected here on earth, that earth is not my home, heaven is.
Surely, in different ways they felt similar fear, apathy and distrust of leaders back then.
There was Vietnam, there was integration, there was the President who had an interview in Playboy magazine and there were leaders assassinated and although we were grown by then, there was September 11th.
Funny story, my granddaddy purchased the said magazine and my brother and cousin found it, ran through the field and after enjoying it for a bit buried it in the sand.
I like to think that was one of my grandfather’s biggest and happiest moments, he probably yelled and stomped but I imagine him loving us all back then; but, especially the two rascals that sneaky and scandalous day.
There’s unrest, division, distress. It is palpable.
Someone told me; well, it was my daughter, “You sound so despondent.”
de·spond·ent/dəˈspändənt/ in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.
She called as I painted and repainted a piece. It was not coming together. I told her it was hard, this is new for me. I told her I have to finish so I can move on.
But, it wasn’t a painting for someone that was causing the mood she heard in my voice.
It was the piling on of other things, the dragging on of pandemic, the way the masked faces and isolation are destroying us all in our inners, depleting our reserve of hope.
So, I sit in my morning chair, a chair that belonged to my mama. The pines are dappled with morning sun, the same sun landing on the arm of my mama’s chair.
Saying, morning has come with wellness again. They did what they could and you are well. You’ve done what you could do as well and those you love are well, will be well. You know this is God’s promise.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,” Psalm 92:1-2 ESV
I did not hear my parents tell me that this world is not forever, there was minimal talk of heaven, even less conversation about our souls or salvation. We absorbed it I suppose from the sporadic other voices.
But, I saw and heard redemption when I laid quietly in the room that allowed me to be a temporary guest. I heard redemption in the conversation that was shared as they sat with coffee together in their “morning chairs”.
Imperfect love, grace and wisdom pulling me closer to living by faith because of mercy finding me, me finding God, continuously seeking, allowing every moment, my heart to be sought.
I pray your morning brings you the assurance that God is very near and that He is able to make good of all things, soften the hardest heart and redeem the angriest of relationships.
I see God in the sky. This evening, the view was varied. There was strength. There was jubilant fullness. There was wide expanse with layered color.
I longed to be stronger because of seeing.
But, not so much. Not this evening.
If I’m honest.
My thoughts are likely controversial. I’ll be called selfish. It may be an opinion of many that it’s not such a big request, to require my face is masked.
I used to so very much enjoy outings, no particular reason trips to Target or to little shops or the art center, even the library.
Now, I’d rather not go.
I know not everyone else feels the same.
Today, my granddaughter not once but twice or more, looked into my eyes and smiled and she pulled my mask away from my face so she could kiss me on the lips.
At first, I thought, so sweet and then, I thought,
So odd. So very odd that someone who loves her so is “masked up” as if in disguise.
Thankfully, smart little baby wasn’t having it, she wanted to see her grandma.
A heavy weight bearing down, so very sick of all of this.
I walk with music.
The clouds are humongous.
The heron flies away the minute I walk by. To my right the sky is spattered sunset orange and to my right the fat clouds have a foundation almost purple.
And I hear a song called “Job’s” and I truly want to be comforted.
I’m sorry to say, I continue to wonder.
How long will my granddaughter see her grandma wearing a mask?
How long will we all be afraid and conformed to fearing even more every single moment.
How long until we trust our Sovereign God who made us fearfully and wonderfully and numbered our very moments…how long must we wait until our faith in His knowing of us gives us the courage to be free, unmasked and trusting the timing, the living, the hope…
To live without hiding, to live unmasked?
Fear will grow, keep growing until we are confident and trusting in the God that Job knew, the God we are all being beckoned to consider.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 ESV
After three days with no writing or painting, I returned to my “sanctuary” on Sunday afternoon.
It was as before, it was life giving, the losing track of time and paint on my hands and forehead.
All afternoon, I painted.
I followed my husband’s suggestion. He noticed I was isolating and told me to stop spending so much time in “that room”.
When I did, I thought of other things. Things other than the canvases piling up, other than hopes that seem to have no place to land in this seemingly hopeless land.
I noticed the hardships of others. I paid attention to sorrowful eyes on masked faces. I observed the way we all seem to be walking together reluctantly, like lambs headed for slaughter.
I recalled my work with depression and suicide. I recalled the one thing more important than any other.
The one in need asking for help, and the listener being committed to listening and helping.
I thought of situational depression in comparison to chemical.
I realized, maybe now (I’m not an expert) it makes no difference. Isolation, depression, anger or sullenness, no respecter of persons.
And I revisited my career long reminder.
Be kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
Here we are on another Monday feeling like the never ending mystery of our days.
I turned to Matthew, today marked Chapter 7, about not judging others wrongly, considering their conditions could be yours.
I read ahead, drawn towards a healing story.
Longing to remember the healer, longing to remember the one needing healing.
Wanting to feel touched by another’s story.
This one, a single soul held captive by an ugly disease. He was a leper, one others avoided.
He was brave enough to believe and saw the throng of people along with Jesus descending from the mountain down into the valley where he stayed hidden.
He asked for help.
“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3 ESV
Today, I’ll remember those who are struggling more than most, more than me.
I’ll pray they find a listener, are able to express their pain and that the ears that welcome their anger or dismay, offer a heart and hand of patient compassion.
I pray that I am able to offer the same, whether words or canvas or eyes that smile instead of look away when I meet another seeking soul, a gentle lamb trusting God and in need of healing.
May we find each other in our quest for healing. May we continue to believe in the audacity of believing.
Just a thought, if there were not in us, this inner spark, a fervor to run farther, a desire to see little things that set our souls to trust once and so we go looking again…would there not be a source of that motivation?
How can we say we were not purposefully created when we seek, despite all this fear and all encompassing strife, to feel that fire again?
I added color to the somber piece I called melancholy. Changed its name again. Now, it is finished and the name is settled, “Returning to Rest”.
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1-2 ESV
Before I felt the truth of belonging there, I observed the setting. Twice in my life, a very long time ago, it was offered to me, possibility.
The high school art classroom, the teacher who spilled her very own love of painting all over the room, she started my believing.
She was less instructor, more demonstrator of art as a comfort, as a passion. She was evidence of the balm of creativity.
The English Honors professor who was a tiny force of expectation, a petite woman
She refused to accept my errors.
I remember the desk I arrived early to take, first row, third seat back. I hated my poor appearance, I avoided the walking across any classroom.
The room was so small, desks barely able to allow my thick to me frame. Classmates so close, it was uncomfortable to have another’s skin so near. But, my grades categorized me as Honors and I had no idea why, only that this class was significant, I was taken seriously. This exclusive group now included me.
The professor scared the mess of out of me until she convinced me, it was my writing that got me there, that qualified me. Not my parents, not my appearance. My writing was my how.
Four decades in between the idea of belonging and possibility are hard things, heavy losses and other type accomplishments.
Chronicling the years between what could have figuratively and literally killed me, the question of how is not of importance.
The answer of now is the result of believing I belonged in both classrooms and in what life and God knew were my possibilities.
“…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 NIV
Hope and possibility, words we value so vaguely, minimizing their power.
Think of someone, some thing in your history that pulled you close enough to listen, to believe that tiny voice of ideas and dreams unsought, unfulfilled, set aside would always be there. Then, pick it back up again, unconcerned with how, knowing you’ll treasure the day in the very near future when you decided on the possible.
In us, is the glorious hope of heaven because of Jesus. When we will fully believe, the details of our how are no issue.
Only today will matter, the day of grabbing hold of our set aside possibilities.
I’m linking up with others in a time when the “how” question is heavy and complex. How did we get here? How can we fathom it ever getting better? How can I be a difference maker? I don’t provide answers to things I don’t fully know. I can only hold fast to hope and possibilities and to be more like Jesus in all my encounters.
My friend chastised me gently when I shared how I despise the money part of being an emerging artist. I underprice my work because in my mind at least I’m not giving it away.
Although I have before.
My friend, the same person who told me my gift is “mercy”, corrected me when I told her promoting my work felt uncomfortable, not godly.
She believes my art and writing are talents God gave me to impart hope to the kingdom. She told me my work is “kingdom work” and so it should be as big and impactful as possible.
I have battled big time the skills to build a website. WordPress is not the right platform, others overwhelm me.
“If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look ‘little’ or ‘big’.” Elisabeth Elliot
God has blessed me with many things. Paintings that touch lives and are sold, art on a gallery wall, art in a featured magazine article, art that is influenced by strength and hope.
Still, I have a hard time with some parts of it all and God tells me to just keeping creating even if your steps feel bogged down, incapable or slow.
Crawl before you walk kind of thinking. I need a website but before I take that step, I need more of a business perspective on my Instagram… So follow my art page on Instagram if you haven’t already. Numbers of followers and prices that represent the hours of work are a thing and as my dear friend told me, if you’re doing kingdom work, you want to touch a big wide kingdom with your work!
For now, I’m inviting others to follow my art page on Instagram. lisa_anneart
Happy Monday, Memorial Day, another week towards better, y’all!