The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

Blank Slates and Clean Canvases

Many times Jesus spoke in a way that was so matter of fact, so very direct.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said,

If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke‬ ‭17:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬

I imagine them expecting some wisdom more than his reply of it’s up to you to embrace this powerful source, this thing you are to hold as evidence of me in you.

This mystery of a strength that no one can see, only can be known.

Jesus reminds me today as I read Luke’s recording of His words.

You know when your faith is waning, you know how to again believe.

You know you only need to begin, begin like tiny seed no one else can see; yet, can be fully and faithfully sort of secretively known.

It’s a thing between you and He.

So cup your little imaginary seed in the palm of your hand, Lisa Anne and then plant it on the blank canvases, open spaces and empty pages waiting for you to go and grow.

Maybe moving, uprooting, or seeing unusual or unexpected shooting ups of new living and new life.

Begin with your little seed.

Begin again to grow, not to chase, only go in the way you feel the sway of His answer to your longing, your prayer.

Lord, tell me what to say. Tell me what to create.

Begin because you know you are able and that you were made me to be capable.

You know that we can, God, it’s just we are not consistently obedient.

We are not always willing.

Like the apostles asked you to do it, to increase their faith, we do the same.

We must be willing to believe and begin and then to see the evidence of gifts we doubted we’d ever see.

We must wait for it, anticipate your glory!

Luke opened Chapter 17 with a conversation about temptations toward sin. Jesus told the disciples that temptation is a sure thing. He told them to be careful that their lives didn’t lead others to sin.

Then He healed ten lepers and only one came back to give praise, to thank God for the healing.

In response to the question about when and how they would see God’s kingdom, Jesus cautioned them all in their trying to figure it out, told them to spend less effort on being informed of the mystery and more on being prepared for it.

For not all will see the Kingdom, only those who follow, leave behind their questions and simply continue on, those who don’t turn back to what they left behind, their lives before.

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Choose to stay on your different way.

Be the one who holds tight to the faith like tiny seed.

Be the one who chooses moderation over selfish satiation. Be the one who turns back from yet again grace to honor the one who makes hope and healing.

Be the one who surrenders and believes God created you for more and that more starts often with the tiniest of seeds.

Be the one who knows it is okay to ask for help. To sit without words as the warmth of a tear puddles in your eye’s corner, to say, I am here again, God. I can’t find you nor can I find the words.

Change me from the inside, so that my outside is the one you know I was created to be.

Blank slates every morning, clean canvases waiting to bring you glory, Lord, let it be.

Let it be you through me.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:18-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Book of Luke – 24 Days of Jesus, An Advent Experience

Possible Impossibilities

I wake to have my interest peaked as I scan my emails. Try, try again or consider those kind of doors closed?

The idea of submission has captured me again.

Lord, tell me what to say.

Jesus had a captive audience. His presence caused men, women and children to be drawn towards him.

He was a teacher enthused over his lesson plan, he wanted everyone who listened to learn, to be changed by their learning.

He sat one day on the edge of a fishing boat, the fishermen must have called it a day and so Jesus perched himself on the edge and faced the crowd who had gathered on the shore.

Big crowds must have followed him all around, maybe pausing to answer others’ curious questions.

Where are you going?

Who is this man named Jesus anyway?

Why are you following him?

Isn’t he just Joseph’s son?

Do you really believe what they’re saying?

Have you actually seen him do the things people are saying he can do?

Could it be possible?

Simon thought he knew more than Jesus. Jesus told him to let down the nets, to put the boat back in the water, to go and try again.

Simon told Jesus we’ve tried all night and no luck, essentially “nary a bite” man!

Jesus told him try again.

“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I have a paperweight on my desk that says “something wonderful will happen today”, another that says “you haven’t failed until you give up” and a solid and smooth rock engraved with one word, “soar”.

On occasion I notice them, rarely really.

Instead I recall unexpected rescues, kindnesses that correct my budgetary mistakes, staff who encourage me, endure my negativity and cynicism.

A family who supports my work, supports and stands by me.

I see God coming through in ways that come from my keeping on, keeping an even keel.

I know the bountiful catch is coming and I put down my net and maybe just wait. I do my part, I rest.

I listen to sincere encouragement, I discern in the faces and reactions and even the decisions of others.

Whether here or there or even anywhere, are the places I place my words and my art, the places I “let my net down” that came back empty before, now possibly to reap a joyful multiplication that will honor God, nudge others towards Him.

Jesus, God’s son came to earth to use earthly objects and experiences to teach us to hope.

Teachable moments like a burnt out and hopeless fisherman, expert at his trade who wasn’t having a good fishing day.

Jesus suggested he try again.

Advent, a time to prepare ourselves for the hope of Christmas.

Jesus, the Messiah.

He is our hope, the hope of all mankind.

We must do these things we think we cannot do, we must believe again in the possible impossibilities.

What will you try, try again that you thought you may as well give up?

Big things have small beginnings and small things with repetition and resolve come through.

Try. Try again.

The Book of Luke – 24 Days of Jesus, an Advent Experience

It Matters to Me

Luke, Chapter 3 is evidence of the writer’s intellect, I decide. Luke, a physician explored and recorded the lineage of Jesus. It would be easy to avoid the 15 verses with challenging names, like skipping over the Book of Leviticus on yet another plan to read through the Bible.

But, it is relevant, this lineage, this record of ancestry.

All the relatives of Joseph and thereby Jesus, the Son of God.

“the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭3:38‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It matters to me, the humanity of Jesus, the lining up of people, just like the people lined up before me.

Makes me reflect on our genetics and our similarities, the ones before me, making straight my way through the memories of their own ways.

“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My grandma made the best of paths she may have thought might be straight, she made it through the crooked places and leveled her life with scripture and determination, she always made a way.

I told my “Aunt Boo” that I felt my grandma with me and in me. I’ve sold hand-painted Christmas cards this year.

I remembered her carefully designing her velvety Christmas ornaments, covered in pieces and parts of old jewelry.

She used the long stick pins and carefully created elaborate pieces. I see her now.

She’s in the room they added on, the double bed filled up the room and there was space just wide enough for her beside it. She retreated to this place, I was invited in to sit quietly on the bed.

A dresser was covered with sectioned flat containers, sparkly, metallic, extravagant and antique. She stood for hours, her tiny frame steady, her hands working constantly. No words spoken and her mouth set just so, her tongue tipped up toward the curve of her lip, peeking through, she worked with her mouth “set just right”.

She was industrious. She placed the ornaments in big flat boxes and with her little memorandum pad, she loaded her car and she made her deliveries.

I am forever impacted by her choice to pursue something so joyful, to do something that was fully and completely her choice to do.

It matters to me, this characteristic of my grandmother in me.

I’ve been selling my art again.

Luke reminds us that everything is purposeful and everything matters.

In the first verses of Chapter 3, John begins to tell of a new concept, repentance and forgiveness of sins. Isaiah the prophet had written of John, a voice that would come from the wilderness. The same John who “jumped” in his mother, Elizabeth’s womb while in the room with Mary, pregnant with Jesus, this John would baptize many and baptize Jesus.

And Jesus heard his father, God say, “you are my son”.

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭3:21-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s doubtful I’ll ever be a theologian, doubtful I’ll return to any further education.

Life and God are my teachers now.

Life, the enormity of it around me, exposure to wisdom, thoughts, experiences. God helps me see the relevance of Him in it all.

I’ve just finished reading an article I’ll read again and maybe more. The wisdom of a man over why his ancestry is significant, why clarity matters, why approaching things hidden or unexplored is something we all should do.

It is never too late.

Two gentlemen, both guys who are wise and caring and ones I respect, pointed me in the direction of this piece.

Bruce Springsteen

We are all individuals formed by those who made us. Our heredity is more than physical, it is experiential.

It is a brave choice to consider the weaving of our ways, to look at them and say, oh, I see now this horrible or wonderful thing, how it made me, me.

Some might wonder what these thoughts have to do with Christmas. I get that.

I don’t know why; but, I said a long series of “thank you, Gods” beside my bed today. It began and then just became a spontaneous building of more and more. God kept up the conversation, brought to memory all of my before to say hey, look at now!

This life I have, this life I know.

It is absolutely a life of hope. My lineage and my life experiences at one time convinced me it could never be so.

Like Luke details the way the 30 year old Jesus came to be, it is similar for you and me.

The breath of heaven that brought Jesus is the same breath of God that created you and me.

On purpose and with purpose that life causes us to sometimes lose. I told someone yesterday I wish I hadn’t returned to art so late in life.

One of my thank yous this morning was that I am here and I have art and life and so much more.

I have hope.

Advent, the days before Christmas, these are the days to have hope.

It matters to me that my grandma chose hope, that she became independent in her pursuit of making beautiful things, that she was about my age when she began this thing that kept her captivated, made her feel significant, brought joy to so many.

It matters to me that I got to see what I didn’t understand as hope back then, but understand it now.

She prepared the way for me. I pray I’m preparing the way for my own daughter, my son and all the other children yet to come.

Luke, a Book about the life of Jesus. I’m no seminarian, I’m just sharing what he’s bringing to light …24 Days of Jesus, my Advent Experience.

Hope.

31 Days, Freely – Start

I’m good at neither rushing nor resting.

I concoct purposeful and passionate scenarios of diligent sticking to something and going long and hard without a break.

I imagine myself contentedly uninterrupted, a book in my lap.

But, both elude me.

Both take practice, commitment, a chance to see the benefit.

Going ahead without allowing hesitation or giving myself reprieve, permission to chill.

I’m sitting home alone, it’s Sunday and it’s sunny. The cool air of the night before has the rooms faintly fresher and the shift of the season quite clear.

Captivated by the book in my lap, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan and tea in a pretty cup, I told myself read a chapter and then go, write a chapter.

Seemed like a good plan, inspirational, my content might flow more freely.

But, I’m three chapters in and still reading. This is a gift, this is a pleasure I’d long thought gone, being pulled in and unable to set a thick book aside.

Now, I’m rethinking the ambition of writing new chapters or layering abstracted thick color on a new something I started.

Instead, I’ll keep reading and when my eyes get heavy, I might dose or I may rise to walk the trail before the sneaking up of sunset.

I may look for them again, the tiny blackbirds up high in an old oak or the surprise sighting of seven or so cardinals all gathered together, red dots bouncing and bobbing against the green.

What I have started I will finish, I’ll come back and I’ll continue.

Fearlessly, faithfully what has begun will continue.

“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.”

‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Giving myself a little mercy, peace and love on a sunny Sunday.

31 Days, Freely – Audience

Today was a series of exchanges and conversations.

Late last night, I loaded up my artwork and joined today, the morning marketers of creations, all of us gathered on the lawn.

Tell your story. Sing your song.

Questions came with interest, with pause and silent studious stares from steps back as if my paintings displayed against an ivy covered oak were as grand as a gallery opening, big city style, formal and fancy.

Ooh’s and Ah’s.

How did you get started?

What are you writing?

What have you written?

Will you write a book?

Why do you think artists love to paint the pear, most of all?

“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭66:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I sat with a woman visiting a friend and we compared most everything, why the work we do is “heart work”, that church people can be mean

and that we do find God when we look for Him and then we share what little or large we really know, the God we truly know.

In the sanctuary or on the square.

We share.

Why do some angels have faces and others just an idea or sort of blank slate?

When did you begin painting and why do you call them girls?

And they listened, a mother and a daughter, a widow and an old friend.

My daughter and her husband gave me a Bible with wide margins. I began sketching female figures in long flowing gowns as I let sink in the truth or the grace of each passage until the “girls” moved from the thin sheets in my Bible to canvas layered with lyrics.

The ones with no features leave open the idea, more relatable, emoting grace or joy or what each eye may see for itself.

I call them girls because I consider them sweet, humble, and I guess eternal, ever youths.

“Thank you for telling me your story.” she said, the one who didn’t buy my art; but, declared me an artist.

And I smiled.

I smiled today.

31 Days, Freely – Why

Day 4 of 31 Days of Writing, trying to be brief and light and think about “my why”. I remembered why in an old hymn, just the chorus.

“Let others see Jesus in you…”

It’s simple but it’s hard, I’m either focused and feeling faithful or I teeter on my own inconsistency to come back around and hopeful again, once again.

What is my why? …a provoking question often used to motivate or continue something begun hopefully or associated with a personal goal.

Why do I write? This one I’ve been pondering lately. Does anyone really care, isn’t my life quite fine without it?

It’s not at all necessary, not as noticed as needed to go someplace grander, more visible, more esteemed.

Someone suggested I write fiction, perhaps people are sick of the sorrowful stories of women who’ve been restored, redeemed, renewed. I was perplexed, set off course and wondered why a made-up story instead of my truth?

Maybe I could, I’m not sure I should. Maybe I will; but, only after I’ve written on why, why I believe, why I have hope now when I was so very hopeless before.

Why you should too.

Have hope.

In the back of a worn little book of Psalms and Proverbs, pages missing and places with corners turned down, there’s a note among other notes:

If I wrote a book it would be a long letter explaining why I believe in Jesus, in His love and in His mercy.

There are countless versions bound into books with more significant stories than mine.

Still, my why is mine.

Why I pause to pray when I could easily turn and go the other way. My knees find peace and my soul finds rest in the personal and private moments I am intentional and I choose to pray.

Why I open my mind to learn from His word, finding new understanding in ancient recordings that develop slowly, requiring discipline and distraction-free commitment of time.

Like the verse about the yoke and rest, I can see it now. I couldn’t take the steps designed for me by God if I didn’t stay in a simple and steady rhythmic walk, I can’t follow God’s path on my own, can’t carry my stuff for too long.

Why I’ve come so very far because of His mercy, yet realize I’ve so much further to go and why I am blown away that He considers me worthy of the cross.

Thank you, thank you for the cross.

Why I am astounded that He prompts me still to pray and that answers come and each time I am moved, so very moved by His splendid and sweet mercy.

Why I think the most important thing about me if there’s anything at all are in the words to this song:

Your life’s a book before their eyes
They’re reading it through and through
Say does it point them to the skies
Do others see Jesus in you?

I understand others seeing Jesus in me differently now than before, more a gentle light causing need for others to come near, to know more, to see a difference in me, my art, my words, my everything.

31 Days, Freely: Day One

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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.

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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.

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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”