A Short Story I Suppose

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, daughters, Faith, family, fear, freedom, grace, heaven, hope, kindness, love, memoir, mercy, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

Iris, Art, and Earl

“Blue Ribbon Girl”

   If she could go without a soul knowing, she knew where she’d run off to.  Down Highway 80 through Savannah, through the mossy oaked canopy, and over the bridge crossing grassy low tidewaters. She would find that old place, the place she felt known.  She would take what she needed, chill some water in the Frigidaire, and have crackers and peanut butter wrapped in her Kleenex, food for the road.  All would be well.  She’d venture down to the lonely October shore and sit on the sand; she would be on the beach. She would wash her feet in the frothy tide. She’d sleep soundly with the breeze, the little clapboard house by the shore, the place she longed for, left her art there, the place where her dreams began. The place where someone else now lives, strangely she decided they would just welcome her in.  She would wake with the autumn crispness and move towards the kitchen, avoiding the tiny room, space where she used to stay. She ached to be there again. She longed to have her fingers, arms. elbows covered in paint, to forgo the brush, blending colors in. She would consider painting again, maybe later. She might allow herself to be taken away, to be lost in the translation of her concerns to thickly layered colors. “Iris”, she might pencil in in the corner, always signing that way. Maybe this evening she thought when the light comes through the sheers just before the day gives way to night. She might settle in then, lose all track of time and heartache. Wouldn’t that be something? Everyone would talk! Iris has up and left Earl, she always had an independent streak!  She smiled, thinking of all the women at the factory, the gossip, the whispers.

     Instead, she drove back home, the little white house, tin-roofed and porch screened in. It was Friday, no telling what was waiting.  Her husband, a carpenter, fisherman, a rounder, and rascal would be waiting.  About thirty minutes away, longer if she could drive like she wanted, slow and smooth in her silvery-blue Impala, if she could she just keep right on going she would.  She’d like to take longer before easing up the hill and cruising, her foot off the gas and over the bridge that marked the creek. She flipped on the blinker, she had to get on home. The highway changed to sandy dirt; the first curve was the sharpest as she passed his cousin’s place. She cracked the window and let the other one down all the way, Remer’s wife would be peering through the parlor window, same time every day, making sure she had come back home. The one perched on the tractor slowing to see her, his baby brother was watching too, knowing he’d made it home from wandering now and waiting for his wife to get her “sorry self” back home. She smiled, satisfied in her last moments of alone. Creating pretty things, little flowery dresses, gingham checked and ruffled, her art, the products made by her hands. Only three days into October and she had made production.

     Her fingers were bent and achy, their tips flattened smooth. One hundred little Christmas dresses from four different patterns and each of them the same except their velvety hue; cobalt blue, rich red, emerald green, or ivory. Some with broad white collars and some with wide sashes for tying bows cinching perfectly around tiny waists. For ten hours a day and a Saturday, she had been taken away to a place that was hers, a place she could be proud of, a place close enough to feel free, free like the painting she used to do.

     She turned onto the path that led her back home.  He might be sitting out back on the steps or she might hurry in past the sight of his broad back in bib overalls, bent over the old table cleaning his fish. She wouldn’t ask him what he had done today, only go about her business, get herself out of her slacks and cotton blouse and into her housedress and slippers, he’d been waiting for his supper. She knew his expectations. She understood her role. 

     As she headed towards the kitchen she remembered, there was no rice for supper! Oh, Lord have mercy!  She had forgotten to cook that morning. Her husband had gone without, no rice for dinner and none waiting for his supper. She turned back towards the hallway and she saw it there, the old rice pot that was always sittin’ on the stove, it had been thrown up against the sitting room wall. Laying there with the sun coming through the picture window, shining like a flash of warning or a lost coin, either way, the rice was not ready, supper would not be on time.  There was nothing for her to do now. She would have to be prepared. Sooner or later he would barrel through the door, overalls half on and half off and the stub of sucked-on cigar loping sideways from his lip. She would know right away; she would detect the smell or not of Pabst Blue Ribbon.   She could only hope there wasn’t a deeper smell, the thick scent of warm bourbon or the belligerent tone of clear liquid, meaning there might be anger and she was surely too tired to take him on. Oh, how she wished her girls were there. But, long gone they were and with husbands of their own, one feisty and determined and the other followed not too far behind.   She hoped the other brother who lived beyond the cornfield might pass through. They would talk of the weather or the crops or the President, move to compare their sorry-ass women, and how their lives should have turned out differently.  But it was looking like a lone night, just the two of them and she had no idea when he might decide to come inside.

She turned to listen, as still as she could be, and decided he must be occupied with cleaning fish or digging bait or maybe brooding in a close to drunken state. She had time maybe, time to get the rice ready, time to pretend she had not forgotten before leaving for work, leaving her husband here. She reached for the Tupperware and opened its lid to scoop out the white grain into the soon-to-be boiling pot of water.

She startled when the screen door creaked. She stood still to measure his mood by the weight of his feet on the porch. She listened as he grew closer, seemed somehow more spring in his step. She’d grown accustomed to the heaviness of his stride, his feet like cinder blocks, the way they seemed so thick, pushing himself along in despair. Her heart was pounding. She listened. He stepped into the kitchen and ambled towards the sink and there he lingered. She felt his breathing on the back of her neck, she noticed the scent of his labor and decided today, maybe he had been working. She opened her mouth not sure what to say or which way she should begin. Before she could speak, he came even closer and then turned, his hand on her shoulder, the other one circling around her waist. He cradled her for a moment and then turned and walked away, left her standing there. Butterflies rose up in her belly and fluttered in dance at her throat.

     She was frozen in front of the stove; the sensation of his touch had overwhelmed her. She looked at the pot waiting for the boiling water and listened as he ran the bathtub water, longer than usual. What in the world, was he not worried anymore about the well running dry? She realized she had more time. She opened the icebox and pulled out a chicken and the beans. If she hurried, the Crisco would be ready about the time the rice simmered down and the leftover lima beans, she would season them with a fresh “strick o’ lean”.  She listened as she worked, his odd behavior allowed her more time. She thought of slipping past the tiny bathroom to the bedroom mirror to check her hair and her face, but she decided not to chance it, he would hear. She never knew really; she was careful not to wake her sleeping giant of a man. Something might set him off and he’d holler loud from the other side of the wall, probably then he’d let her have it, did she just expect him to go hungry again?

    Supper was nearly done ‘bout the time the sky changed from blue to dark and thundering grey. The wind was whipping the loose tin on the back shed and pine limbs were threatening to come through the windows, thick and green they pushed against the windows and then moved away just long enough for her to see where the storm was headed, how long it was staying, the hard rain, the threatening thunder the flash of angry lightning.  He’d be back in the kitchen any minute and he’d tell her he knew it all day, he knew a cloud was making up, he saw it coming. She waited and then continued. She floured the chicken and dropped it carefully in while the beans were warming and the rice was filling up the pot, the water making it thick and the way he liked it, thick and fluffed, not mushed together. The aroma filled the room, a later than normal supper. She was scrambling to move the cast iron from the heat for the gravy when he came around the corner. He walked towards the table, pulled his chair out, and told her, “You ain’t got to make no gravy.” 

    He surprised her when he said softly, “I was thinkin’ all day, I sure hope we get a good hard rain.” then asked her how her dressmaking went today. She answered that it was good, he nodded and then just looked away. He told her he had gone to town and that he talked with a man about helping a man with some carpentry.  Rumor had it that there were new houses coming in just out past the grocery store, that a Yankee from Carolina had bought up all the land and that somebody told them if you need a good carpenter, well, Earl is your man. He told her that he was sure the rich man had been warned, “You just have to catch him sober or not fishin’”. She listened as he continued, remembering her daddy and how she had been warned about his reputation, his family was good people, but the son was rowdy. He was a charmer she remembered, his swagger swept her away, upturned lip with an “I got you girl” smile, he reeled her in. They finished their supper and she rose to clean the dishes as he leaned back in his chair and told her, “You better get on to bed, they’ll be expecting you early again tomorrow.” She paused, “Good night.” she said, and then she barely heard him mumble in reply. She did not remind him she would not be working tomorrow.

The storm had passed, and the windows only open a tiny bit, she listened to the birds in an exchange, singing sweetly one to another, the crickets and the frogs down by the pond would soon join in. Tomorrow she decided, she would go to town, it was Saturday, she might see if he wanted to ride along. She drifted off to sleep, slept like a baby. She woke to the sound of coffee percolating and a strange sense of mystery, of newness, and of intrigue. Coffee and cream and the corn flakes and evaporated milk were placed on the table. No words were spoken between them, unfamiliar and awkward, this new way of them. Not his way to think of fixin’ breakfast.

“I think I’m going to town today.” she offered. He grunted. He had grown accustomed to her independence, gave up on changing or caging her in. She did what her preacher man daddy raised her to do, she was dependable and gave in to most everything, knew when to leave him alone, stay out of his way.  He let her veer off on occasion, it gave him his space. He didn’t know what she was up to, what was happening between them?  He said okay when she out of nowhere asked, “You want to ride to town with me?” then he instantly regretted his answer.  What in the world? That would mean changing his overalls, changing his plans, putting on clean boots, sitting closer to her than he had in years, all enclosed in her car and barely an arm’s length away from her body. He would be the passenger in her beloved Chevrolet. “You ready?’ she asked. He looked out the window and walked away, never gave an answer. She waited. She wondered.  She regretted asking. Then she heard the rusty creak of the old Nova’s door, the pumping of his foot on the gas to give it the boost it required, and the beat-up old chassis backed up and bolted through the field and down the roads, swerving she knew it,  barely keeping it between the ditches.

   She sat as morning changed around her. The corn flakes flat and floating, the coffee cold and the house was again silent. She thought of her life, how it could have been. She remembered the cousin who left Georgia and moved to California, became a designer, famous in a way she supposed. She rose to wipe the counters, poured the coffee out the back door, took the corn flakes down by the edge of the woods, scraped her bowl, left it all there.  She promptly returned to the bedroom, made her bed, knelt down, and prayed. She rose to gather the white blouse starched and waiting and navy slacks, flat shoes. She found her blue cameo pin.  She washed her face, took the bobby pins from her hair, added red lipstick then blotted it to fade to barely there. Dressed and ready, she grabbed her pocketbook and her keys, her little list, her memorandum and she slammed the door behind her. It was only 8:00 in the morning and she knew he would be down by the river; she had the whole day. 

   Iris slid into the seat of her car, glancing down through the field, corn on either side, the road that led to his family. She popped it in reverse and glided back before turning the other way. She had no idea where she was going, she just knew she was going away. She made it to town too early for lunch, barbeque had been the plan for the day. She decided on the café, found a booth, and sat to listen, watch, pay attention to others. A pattern of hers it has always been, comparison of her life to almost everyone everywhere, she was an observer. The waitress served her coffee, toast, and jelly as she lingered. She thought about the possibility, of her husband sitting across the table having a pleasant conversation. She remembered the night before, the glimmer of different, a slight change in him, for them. No idea what to do next, she paid her bill and left, walked out into a perfectly cloudless day, and then started her car to go on her way. Windows down and a scarf tied at her neck, she drove towards the beach and then turned back the other way. Unsure whether to be angry at herself for not going or satisfied that she chose the better thing, she remembered her memorandum and made her way to the McConnell’s Five and Dime. 

   Barely noon, she still had a lot of day. She opened the door, welcomed by a sharp clanging bell. “Well, hello Iris”, she heard someone say and she turned to see an old classmate; the one who left the country and made her way to the big city. She smiled, dreading the questions of how and what in the world have you been doing. She anticipated grand stories of her successful husband, her children, her grandchildren, her brick home, a garden with brilliant flowers, a display of pride, and better than.   Small talk of family and weather led to nosy interrogations she endured. Inquiries of her husband, of her daughters, of their home, and whether she had ever decided to pick back up on painting.

      She answered all of them, made excuses to hurry up her shopping, nice to see you again, say hello to your mama. She watched her walk away, listened as her heels clickety clacked down the aisle, and overheard her words to the cashier, condescension over an apparent mistake in her change. Iris stood for a moment and then decided on a change. She slowly pushed her buggy down one aisle and then the next, forgot about the Pine-Sol and the detergent, continued on her search until she found it, the small section with the thick ivory papers, the colors, and the brushes.  A box of crayons, she opened them and smiled over all the colors before closing tightly the lid and setting them down in her buggy. A large brush for backgrounds and a small for details, two or three more for blending and then tubes, oh so very many happy tubes of paint! She inventoried her list, best she could remember she had all she would need. She paid for her items and danced through the exit doors; going back home, not running away. 

   As fast as she could, she made her way back home, mapped out the afternoon, time allotted her for solitude. She thought of what she might do for a bite to eat, enough to get by until supper, she was excited, so very excited. Barely turning to notice the sister-in-law, the cousins, the brother in the field, she pulled in and unloaded quickly, laid her beautiful things out on the porch. She grabbed the peanut butter and the crackers, ice water, and a banana. Remembered the rice then and considered not cooking but decided it’ll only take a minute, might as well do this for him. It was expected and it required so very little of her, put the water in the pot, the rice does the boiling, cover it with a lid and just leave it there. It will be there for him, whenever and however he comes back in. It was such a little gesture, somehow, she saw it now, as a gift.

     All of that accomplished, she found a big old sheet, spread it out on the floor, and made a place for her paper. She found an old piece of wood, leaned it up against the screen, and with a rusty nail positioned her idea of an easel for her paper canvas. A jar filled with water and brushes soaking, she found an old broken dish and made herself a palette. Vibrant blue was her background and greens, red and purple followed. With no idea of how to begin, what to paint, she simply layered colors. She stood back and admired the symmetry, the way one color spilled over to another bordered by heavy tint turning to faint shade and shadow. She found the box and crayons and added flowing lines in length and layers, she decided they reminded her of gowns. So, she quickly added shoulders, gauzy sleeves over arms, and shapes of faces titled one way or another. She added ruddy cheeks and pale hollowed ones made barely noticeable bridges of noses and only just hints of blue, brown, or green where the women in flowing gowns eyes would be. She sighed, an audible “Ah!” escaped from her lips, and then she felt it, the smile, the filling up because of it of her cheeks. She gazed at the colors, the freedom of them, thick paper flamboyant and joyous colors, all types of stories. She rested then realized the time had escaped her. The dusk of the day was approaching. She gathered her jars and her brushes, stuffed crayons back in the box, and careful not to ruin the extras, gingerly picked up her papers, picked up the unpeeled banana, and nibbled a stale cracker. She scrubbed the brushes and laid them on a dishcloth to dry, turned on the pilot light, and then the burner, the rice, oh, Lord, the rice had to be ready! Hurriedly she finished, put everything away, and decided chicken from last night would be enough, would be okay. She walked out onto the back porch to see the coral sun setting and she breathed deeply, sat down in the place where he’d be pulling in, and rested her bare feet in the soft cool dirt-like sand. Her husband would be home eventually; but she wasn’t worried, not afraid. 

     She made a choice today when she could have chosen another way. She could have chosen rebellion, a trip to Tybee, and come what may. She surely did consider it. She could have chosen pity pouting in the discount aisle and she could have chosen to be a fighter for her freedom. Instead, she chose to gently open her own door.  Iris was daydreaming when she heard the familiar sound of him coming around the corner. She thought to get herself together, to hurry back in, stand waiting in the kitchen in a wifely way.  She stayed still, she waited. He pulled into the driveway and turned to look her way, puzzled for sure, he smiled, and then he shook his head. He walked over to see her and asked, “How was your day?” Before she could answer he told her he was sorry, that he knew she wanted him to go to town today. She smiled and asked about his day, about where he had been. He answered with a grin, told her he drove towards the river then came back to check the pond dam, decided to see the plot of land where the fancy houses would be, and ended up back at his brother’s, just sitting around mostly. She told him supper was about ready and that she had just wanted some air. She reached for her shoes, brushed the sand from her feet, and headed back in. He walked beside her, straight with no sign of stagger and he reached for her hand. She did not know what to make of it, she allowed it, she accepted him then.  As they stepped towards the porch, she saw the makeshift easel, she remembered the painting. He opened the door and held it for her, and he turned, and he saw it and said nary a word.  Supper was different because he kept on being different and when it was done, he pushed his plate to the table’s center and got up out of his chair. 

 She watched as he stepped towards the porch; listened as he stepped back towards her. He carried the piece of wood made into an easel and tenderly placed it with its still moist colors on the sill of the window that looked out towards the field. Then he shifted it left a little before saying, “That’s somethin’ else!  A real pretty paintin’ Iris, why don’t you make another one for here.” She stood up from the table and met him in the middle and she knew in her heart, everything would change from here, her independent streak not broken against her will, but gently set free and blended, the color returning to her story. 

Beach Going

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, contentment, courage, Faith, grace, painting, Redemption, rest, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder, writing

Seems everyone I know has plans to be a beach-goer this summer or has already gone.

This morning, Facebook invited me to revisit a beach inspired post from four years ago. It was interesting to see how my voice is the same me, just a little more grown.

This afternoon, I procrastinated a commission that’s scaring me and I let the colors blue, white, pink and navy calm me, transport me to the shore.

Beach Going

Here’s the June 13, 2017 post:

The Tide

Beauty, Earth and Everything

Art, Children, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, heaven, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

I’ve removed the fifteen or more books from my nightstand.

Some of them read, some recommended, others opened and skimmed and set aside.

I’m hard on myself as a reader. I’m distracted and mostly too sleepy. They say a writer must be a reader.

Maybe that’s why I’m less afraid to paint.

To simplify. The nightstand now has one framed photo, a lamp, a pen with paper and a paperback collection of Psalms and Proverbs.

“How he satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:9‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’ve taken to the practice of reading at least one verse as soon as I’m settled in bed.

Some nights more. I thumb to the passage chosen by the date and the pages from notes compiled through the years are becoming my sedation, my self-help.

There are pencil scratches, black or blue ink faded to soft grey. There are bold underlines and tiny little star asterisks in places.

The summary of supplication, of suffering questions, or redirection of myself in an achingly sorrowful way.

Remorse, regret, confusion and occasionally a determined commitment to peace, the words warn, these are best kept secret.

Much like Job may have felt, I imagine if he sat with the pages that detailed his friends calling out his wrongs and his reply incessantly saying,

But, none of this makes sense. Why me?

I feel like Job was just that honest.

If you find your old journal or Bible, do you find your honesty to be hard or do you see it as simply honest?

Do you see how far you’ve come or are you hard on yourself that some days you still hurt to comprehend some things?

I fell asleep with a revelation the other night.

I’d read my prayers scrawled in the old book. Concerns so very intimate that only God and I knew and know the reasons.

I realized I had such a yearning for God back then.

I realized I still do.

The thought of my laments and longings documented with pencil or pen gave me a new idea, a different peace.

I was a seeker. I still am.

My soul ached with yearning.

It still is.

I decided it is a good thing to be still yearning, to not be satisfied in who I’ve become, to be certain God’s still what my heart yearns for and the goodness of His gifts to me, to my family, beauty made of so many hard things.

The words to a song you won’t hear on the radio seem to pop up on my Pandora quite often lately.

I drive the morning road, make it to the hill and curve on the dirt one and I slow my arrival because it happens!

The voice of Paul Beloche, so gently and assuredly reminding me of all the beauty God has made of my life already.

In A Million Years

Causing me to imagine the beauty of eternity that is heaven.

Have you pondered heaven more this year and last?

Maybe not, unless you’re 60ish like me. Have you clung less tightly to earthly hopes knowing they pale in comparison to the promises of heaven?

Do you believe in heaven or does it seem like a mysterious place that might be so?

Do you want your life on earth to be forever because there are so many hopes that haven’t come true just yet?

I do sometimes. There are some earthly things I hope to see come true.

You’d find those hopes in my little book if you had the chance to hold it, you might even find your name there.

On Tuesday mornings, I listen to Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, “The Next Right Thing”. Her voice is easy. Her tone is directive as well as gently suggestive. I tell myself “Listen”.

This week’s episode was more practical than prose, a night time ritual that would better our sleep. I recommend it, listen here:

The Next Right Thing

She gave a helpful list with one thing being to ask yourself at the end of the day,

“Where did I see God today?”

Naturally, I loved this, it’s might kind of deep thinker thing.

Tuesday was a “grandma day”. It was so sweet and easy and it was a gift the way the simplicity of the day fell into place.

The moment?

We sat together in the cool castle building dirt spot. To pass the time ‘til Mama drove up, I taught the baby to sift sand from one hand to the other. Teaching maybe the wrong word, I just did it and she followed.

From one hand to the other we just passed the sand between our hands. She looked up, longer than usual, looked deeply into my eyes in a way that said, “This is sublime.”

Yes, this was when I saw God.

God with us.

Heaven met earth and situated itself with us in the Springtime dirt.

Yearning for me not to miss such a beautiful moment on a blue sky day.

And I didn’t and I pray I don’t from now on.

“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭7:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Lord, may our earthly days cause our longing for you more every day even as we yearn for the incomprehensible promise of heavenly days promised by you.

He keeps his promises.

Continue and believe.

Yearning is peace.

Being Refined

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, Holy Spirit, memoir, mixed media painting, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing
Beauty Remains

There’s an odd tree near my home. Its branches are grey and twisted and it half stands half reclines in an empty lot.

It is solitary with only tiny tender pines trying to begin their lives nearby, bright green fan like needles on the skinniest of branches.

I’m not an arborist. I know this tree is old, “gnarly” comes to mind. It has pods of some sort and pale white tiny blooms in the Spring. I’ve yet to see it produce a nut or fruit. It still has a few crinkly leaves furled and scattered.

It has lingered long.

Planted in the empty lot or the lot owned by someone and long neglected.

A decade or so ago I began to notice, this leaning tree keeps staying, fascinating me. It is steady although it has no real reason, not attended to by anyone other than God’s good rain and sun.

I’ve just gotten word from a gallery telling me thanks for your submission, our walls are full.

We have enough for display.

I downgraded from a website for my art to Etsy. The decision surprised me with the ease, and the peace, the still today peace is keeping me.

The desire to be an artist feels like an ache, a wound that keeps reminding you to take it slow, slow movements bring lasting health and renewed fervor.

This I know. The change is internal. I am being refined. I am growing. I know because this time, I have told this change, welcome, come on in, stay a bit.

A crazy thing happened on Sunday morning. I heard a sound above my head and thought, an animal in the attic…a big one. At last, I’d convince my husband and he’d believe me, those squirrels are living above our bed.

Later, I went to make the bed and discovered branches curled against my window. The pretty poplar tree had been uprooted by nature and leaned in a precarious way against our home.

Home alone, I walked out in rain boots and pajamas to see the bulbous root upturned and the trunk resting against a patio table. The discarded table saved our windows and our roof. The tree is now cut into pieces by our sweet son in law and only debris remaining.

I am wondering what caused it to fall.

Today, I read a passage in a devotional referencing a verse about being refined.

I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. Zechariah 13:9

I thought of what it means to be refined, how I’d always equated being refined with having more polish, more finesse, what had been started becoming a final result that stood out from the rest. To be refined would feel as close to perfection as possible, a pleasing object to gaze upon, a showpiece worthy of applause.

I know the metaphor of life’s trials and traumas being a symbol of the fire of the silversmith, the heat melting the substance so that it shines smoothly.

Deep Roots, the Gnarly Tree

I’m realizing it’s not about shining, the refining God wants us to understand and allow.

It’s an inside transformation, a change in our souls that leads to changes in mindsets and goals.

A change maybe we and God only know.

To be refined, all impurities are removed from a substance, it becomes internally pure.

A Canon named George Body, born in 1840 describes it this way,

“His loving eye is ever eagerly watching for the moment when the purifying work is done. Then, without a moment’s delay, He withdraws the fire, and the purified soul is removed from the furnace. See, again, it is when the image of Christ is reflected in us, so that He can see Himself in us as a mirror. Raise your eyes, then amidst the flames, and see the Face of Jesus watching you.” George Body

Stand like the old tree, stronger because of the nature of its own depth and fiber and because of the refining hand of God.

The strength is inner, the strength that was brave when it said call yourself an artist.

Keep creating.

“Love Story” 16×20

Keep it quiet. Keep it confident. Keep it grounded.

Remember, your theme is redemption.

Redemption, not kept to yourself.

Find me on Etsy (LisaAnneTindal)

Cake Tomorrow

Art, birthday, courage, daughters, family, mixed media painting, Motherhood, painting, wonder
January 30th – Cake With Your Mama Day

One of my favorite things to see is the expression on my son in law’s face when I talk about art or life or I’m uncharacteristically funny.

We were sharing our Saturday plans, “cake with your mama day” and the whole idea of it.

Mama baked, January 30th was her birthday, still is and so, we’ll celebrate it by eating cake and telling other people about it.

He smiles, looks at my daughter. I walk towards my car and say, I guess most people think I’m weird!

My daughter shouted back,

“No, just crazy!”

And I saw them smile and I drove away, knowing they think I’m crazy in a good way, the way God made me.

“I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭TPT

Crazy for fun ideas and for sharing them?

It’s the way God designed me.

Linking up with others here prompted by “design” and I’m hoping they’ll have cake with their mama tomorrow or cake by themselves or with someone to honor her!

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Design

(Artwork above is available to purchase.)

Becoming

Abuse Survivor, Angels, Art, bravery, confidence, courage, curiousity, Faith, grace, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, rest, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

Yesterday I sat in the dentist chair wishing I had music as a buffer, a distraction to help me not think of what the hygienist was thinking about my aging teeth.

Instead, I chose the Psalm again, the 23rd one and I made it a new song.

On repeat.

“Lord you are my shepherd. You are right here beside me and you’ve always made sure I somehow had all I needed.

And sometimes you’ve given me abundantly more, so much more you surprised me.

I think you must know how much I love surprises, love it when someone thinks of something I might love and then there they are, gifting me!

Lord, you’ve been such a giver of gifts for me. You’ve been with me in the scary places I got trapped and the days of sorrow like a tunnel narrow and winding so the light seems it’s not coming.

You’ve helped me out. You’ve given me reason not to be afraid again.

And again.

Lord, you’ve displayed the best of me for others to see, displays I’d never create on my own.

You show me off, you don’t let the gifts you made in me stay hidden. You help me see what is possible.

You refill my creative cup over and over like a beautiful feast, I return to the paper, the canvas, the brushes in the jars of water.

And I create quietly and certainly.

Lord, thank you for creating me.

The me I am becoming. The one unafraid to honor you, to be an influence that causes curiosity over Jesus.

The me, deep thinker and no longer bothered by that often misunderstood depth.

You made me this way as if to say, ‘here’s who Lisa is, she’s a keeper!’

Thank you for shepherding me, for being so gentle and wise.

For being sure of me becoming me and for doing so very

Patiently.”

Amen.

“I delight to fulfill your will, my God, for your living words are written upon the pages of my heart.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Morning Chairs

Abuse Survivor, Art, bravery, Children, courage, daughters, doubt, Faith, family, heaven, hope, memoir, painting, Peace, Redemption, Stillness, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder

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.

Continue and believe.

God, You See This

bravery, coronavirus, courage, Faith, grandchildren, kindness, painting, Vulnerability

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?”

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.

He knows.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬