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”