Good For You!

The wild rose bush overnight has gone crazy with color and even more, tiny cups of buds are straining up towards heaven for more.

My mama called ’em “knockout” roses, they like to “take over, take off on their own.”

The two bushes we have will grow and grow, come close to blocking the open door.

Not held back, who can imagine hindering the bloom?

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Would you be unconcerned with the blisters on the tips of your fingers if you found yourself so very close to the perfect chord?

Every single morning brings new cliche it seems, assignments mine if accepted.

Steady streams of affirmations meet me in the morning, some Biblical and others captured and kept.

I’m bleary-eyed in the kitchen and it comes to mind, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

The words meant to thrust us all towards some dream, goal, unmet challenge.

Athlete, Actor, Artist, Author.

Then another, “You can’t manufacture happiness.” countered the lofty motivation, got me thinking.

What would you do if the chance of failure did not matter, if you simply knew you must do…?

me

Would you forget your fear of drowning and don the clothing of a diver and plunge to the bottom of the ocean knowing you might find a treasure left somehow for you?

Would you answer yes to creating with your heart and hands something you’ve never tried before?

Would you abandon the ingrained nature to say no and be noticed by your yes causing yourself to be known?

Would you let your feet take you places your soul says go and go unconcerned with the mark left by your walk?

Would it not matter the strumming, the seeking, the saying yes as far as depending on what others might see or think?

Would it matter only that you had the courage to do the things you only know are yours to do for God,

for you and for the fluttering in your sweet being when you do.

You might finally understand God and creation and that it is good.

It is good for us, His intent.

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

All good.

Good for you!

 

Amongst One Another

I suppose it might be possible.

That there might be some amongst us who don’t know struggle, haven’t had it woven intricately in the layers of their skin, embedded deep deep deep in the pits of their tummies.

I saw someone last night and I remembered how she’d been real with me and I, with her.

How I’d said yes to her unexpected invite for lunch, just wanting us to know one another more.

First of all, how often are we so honest? How rare are women that brave?

She shattered my illusion of her life more sublime than mine. She told me her story.

And, I mine.

I guess over a year or more ago. She listened as I shared the colors of my Bible, my story.

And I saw her and I told her what that meant to me, her opening her heart, her curiosity of mine.

What if we did that more? What if we left each other loved and uplifted, caressed on more than typical passing platitudes?

We’d know more the feeling of being amongst one another. We’d be more generous with our giving of time, less greedy for dominance in conversation.

Another friend made me cry when I held her and let her cry. It was hard.

Then soft.

She said it, what I already knew.

“I think I just saw God.”

I read a beautiful prayer this morning, a prayer by a French Archbishop whose name I can’t pronounce. It was a prayer asking God to find us when we can’t find Him.

Take my heart, for I canst give it and when thou hast it, oh, keep it for Thee and save me in spite of myself. Archbishop F’enelon

Someone mentioned feeling as if in an abyss yesterday and we then talked about the “cliff”.

If you’ve ever been in a deep place feeling like you can’t pull yourself out or if you’ve found yourself on the edge, on the cusp of disastrous choice worn out and miserable over what’s come your way, having to get real quiet or real loud and maybe say God, come near, be my rescue, remind me again.

Save me, yet again.

The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

We’re not made to cower.

The Stranger

On my way tonight to workout, he was walking.

On my back home, I saw him too.

90 minutes passed and the place on the side of the road, barely off the road in the high weeds, where he was again made no sense at all.

He should’ve been farther along; yet, there he was again, on my way.

I remembered, I thought if I see him again, I’ll know it’s true, true like my son suggested one day in a little boy whimsical way,

“What if he’s Jesus?” Childlike chastising my questioning comment directed towards someone standing on the edge of the exit ramp holding a cardboard sign.

Now, I’m thinking again, yeah…what if?

You should know I only tell true stories and you must know I find all sorts of stuff significant when I see it. I consider it God.

About three weeks ago, I stopped by our local printer to collect items ordered for work.

“What is he doing?” she asked, “walking up and down the sidewalk with that stick?”

I told her I’d ask him and I did, asked him if he was okay.

He needed to be pointed in the direction of the soup kitchen, so I directed him four blocks down and two over.

He smiled, said, “Do I know you?” “Did you go to high school in Hepzibah?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

Then he told me his name, adding angel as a surname. Told me he was an angel and then said: “Jesus loves you.”

I smiled, said, “I know, you too.”

Then on a drizzly Sunday one week ago, Colt and I were out back. All my day’s plans go awry because of an emergency with an employee, I’d be going to work.

Tennis ball toss, the command given “drop” and again and again until I turn towards the back porch.

I see him, a male form bent over shoulders heavy, walking down my road, holding a big shepherd like stick.

“Oh…it’s him.” The Labrador sees and hurries up to the fence, makes a squeaky sound, not at all resembling bark or growl.

He never barked, sort of sighed, pulled the sound of dog startle back in as if he knew him, knew there was no need for noise.

There was no call to fear threatening.

Then he watches body next to my hip and his nose on the cold link of fence. I watch, feet tiptoed and neck craning as the man who says he’s an angel crosses in front of my house and on down the road.

I know right away, I’ll turn that way instead of my normal when I go. I’ll leave for work and I’ll hope on my way he’s there.

Cheese crackers, granola and a Cliff bar in my lap, I drive down the hill and turn the curve and he’s there.

He’s making his way up the hill. No one around on Sunday morning church time, I slow my car, window eases down and I say,

“Good morning.” My hand through the window meets his and he’s surprised by my giving, he thanks me for the food and then stores it in deep pockets of a jacket dragging down by so much wear.

“Jesus loves you.” He says and then adds,

“I love your hair.” I smile knowing no way he could know the gray I’d just felt depressed over, the flatness of strands due to age and the daily angst over cut or grow out.

I drove on remembering the time before when he said he was an angel.

Tonight, I saw him the third time I told myself would “seal the deal” if it happened, make me sure of providence and certain of angels.

I wondered why he’d only walked a block or so in the 90 minutes between seeing him and seeing him again.

I considered why he’d kept appearing on my way and then I pondered all who might avoid him and worse yet might not see him in the very close to dark dangerous road.

I hoped he’d be okay. I hoped he has headed someplace safe.

Then I realized he’d be one Jesus would pause to notice. He, one of the least of these, a wandering soul and lost mentally maybe.

But who am I to say He’s not already done so; this man walking tall with a stick the height of his shoulders and telling me, others, whoever that he’s “Angel John” and that Jesus loves us.

Who’s to say who’s angelic or not or why I might see him and believe more wistfully, more surely and more unexpectedly that there are angels among us and that those angels know Jesus?

Who’s to say who knows?

Yesterday, I gathered up my angel figurines. I’d been noticing all the clutter collected and decided they no longer belonged on the desk. My eye drawn to them seems it has begun to feel their placement was all wrong.

I moved them to my bedroom, tucked them together collectively on the shelf just above my pillow.

I’m believing more than before and unafraid to say so, believing because of who and what and where I’ve seen God and probability of angels, love, and grace among us.

And strangers with contagious smiles despite missing teeth who make confident proclamations of Jesus and love and not at all coincidentally cross my path.

Some would say homeless or crazy or not worth much at all…

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But, who are we to say

or he, a stranger?

 

I’ve just read a post from Jennifer Dukes Lee about helping another along the way. Who’s to say when we might need help up or when we get to reach down.

Vist here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/learned-movie-can-imagine/

image

 

Book Review : A Place to Land, A Story of Longing and Belonging

I believe empathy should have another name, a word that’s descriptive without the clinical tone. I believe empathy, the word, should sound softer, a whispered acknowledging tone.

Empathy, whether you’re the giver or the receiver, an exchange really, is human hearts trading places.

I’ve finished Kate Motaung’s book and considered the technique of allowing the pages to fall open, deciding this is the place I should write of my connection with this story.

Still, each time I sought redirection, I wound up in the same place, the place we had in common, the place and time when grace filled the room.

Years ago, it was the most pitifully powerful memory I’d ever known.

Still is the most powerful, not pitiful or pity filled any longer.

The day was Christmas and the drive was three hours one way. My husband, the children, there was no discussion, we were going to see mama.

We arrived at the hospital and the nurse said, “She’s waiting.”

Her body was weak, her organs were weaker; but, she was expecting us. Her hair had been styled and she had on the most delicate of nightgowns I’d ever seen, more beautiful than any I’d ever known her to own.

She smiled. She “made over” my daughter and my son. She encouraged them, she reminded, she laughed a little, she gave them direction.

We gave her the gifts we’d brought and I remember that she thought my siblings might come later and my aunt had come and she had an expression of pure love and acceptance of whatever gift or not might be given.

She grew tired and it seemed we grew awkward, like clumsy adolescents not being sure what to do with our hands, none of us knew what to with our hearts.

A hospital room on Christmas Day and an hour or so with my mama and then three hours back home with little talk only uncertain sadness.

This was my mama’s last Christmas. I have never seen her more glowing, never seen her so resigned and simply open to come what may or may not.

I read Kate Motaung’s account of her mother’s cancer diagnosis and of her longing to be with her but, committed to stay on God’s course, a missionary in another country.

I was overjoyed by her telling of her mother’s travels to visit. I envisioned her love for Kate and her family and her maybe stubbornness to be with her daughter, to welcome babies, to leave them with good words and wisdom.

I smiled as I read of the trips for ice cream and the times her mama, weak and unable to be strong on her own, had a zest for life and humor, I could see them together making memories.

The mother giving all she had until she could give no more all for the sake of her children. I understood.

I struggled to imagine being so very far away and then realized prayer has no limits. God doesn’t set parameters as if to say oh, no the prayer you said well it’s way too far for the one you want it to help.

No, God is Sovereign. A mama three days away is no different from one three hours away when our living Father hears the supplication of a loving daughter, asking for mercy for her mama, and grace for the times together.

Towards the end of the book, Chapter 20 is titled “Grace”.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s a surprise trip to visit her, to return from Cape Town, Africa to Michigan.

Her mama’s condo smelled of cookies. The machinery all around, sustaining her breathing and yet, there were fresh cookies.

I wandered then if her mama baked cakes and made pot roast and potatoes and I decided for myself, I believe she did.

The chapter ends with celebration; she, her mama and her sister, memories, more laughter, hysterical laughter.

And a realization.

And it was grace. Kate Motaung

“A Place to Land” is a comfort, it’s consolation and it’s a telling and retelling of a daughter’s unwavering confidence in God.

Mostly, for me it’s a beautiful gift of grace, grace her mother gave, and grace that surrounded her and guided her home.

Guided her daughter through grief to be able to share.

To have other “motherless daughters” understand, be understood.

This book to me, it was grace.

Empathy’s new explanation, I’ve decided.

It’s grace, grace from one who understands shared with another.

Thanks for understanding, Kate.

Purchase your copy here:

Quiet Voila’

Last week or maybe last year, sporadic in my notice and recognition, I decided “child’s pose” was very much like prayer.

The prayer pose in the dark of early morning beside my bed or in the middle of a day when my pacing feet and pounding heart had left me with no place to go but to

Go there.

To hide away on my side of the bed.

You’d have to walk around to find me.

To hit my knees and find my soul beckoning me rest and my shoulders, lower, lower until they too are closer to the bottom and to wait, my muscles groaning in extension, I’m reaching, now gently.

As far as I can and I wait for God to cause my hands to open towards heaven.

Like a quiet “voila!”.

Saying, this is yours God, not mine.

Like a child, my outstretched hands are both released from my heavy thing and opened for the pure embrace of God.

Lean a little deeper into the prayer like a languished stretch and then ease back upright to maybe a sort of sun salutation.

I rise. I’m better, Son of God, I salute you, your Spirit, now.

I’m better today.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up for FMF prompted by “release”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/04/05/fmf-link-up-release/

Oh, and by the way, my book review of Kate Motaung’s recently released memoir, “A Place to Land” is in a draft right now, I’ll be posting tomorrow and giving away a couple of copies!

or you can order here: https://www.amazon.com/Place-Land-Story-Longing-Belonging/dp/162707662X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=headhome-20&linkId=3e098af8efaaaff2f28a716b3f563944

Trusting More

I barely heard him over the crowd. He mentioned “trust” to her as she shared their big plans and hopes. “You know the place, Proverbs 3:5-6…” he said.

Mentioned trust, then looked towards me, and added, “Of course you do, you’ve got her.”

It was a gift, to be known as one who talks of God and trust and love to my children so that they know.

They know.

Such a pretty night, just the slightest breeze and the aura of a singer and a guitarist had me optimistic.

The singer’s voice gritty, heart and soul in his movements and melodies. The guitarist, honed in on his part; both, phenomenal talents.

Doing their thing, for us; but, seemed mainly for themselves, the satisfaction of sharing their souls’ song and string.

The vibe was easy, the night was soulful and my soul was full.

Leaving the day behind to happen upon a friend, see an acquaintance in the distance, people who’d otherwise be postured with just a nod of notice, reaching out arms for an embrace and saying more than ever before, glad you’re here.

I was taken to a place of letting go.

She took me there, my daughter. The night was splendid, turned my day around.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A mom stopped by yesterday to pick up a painting, a gift for her mother.

I’d leaned it against an empty chair and had two days with “her”.

Checked it over to be sure the paint and layered words were sealed, added a card denoting my life verse and contact info to the back.

Then, saw the place where trust had been revealed from under layers of paint.

And smiled, fascinated by my creation.

“I love this girl.” I told the buyer when she arrived and explained I love her not in an accomplished way or even satisfied over technique or tradition.

I’d realized earlier that whether it’s a paragraph or a painting, there’s a joy that comes that I’m not sure I can explain.

You step back, sit back and you know.

“This is me, this is mine. I’ve conveyed something that is sincere, genuinely me.”

Then you trust it more, you trust this thing God made you to discover.

You trust that painting, writing, singing or strumming unfettered and unfiltered are a part of His plan.

‘Tis so sweet…trusting more.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!

O’ for grace to trust Him more.

They Rested

Never random when she calls, it’s always an interruption for both of us.

Still, we are rapt and attentive, anticipatory.

We pause, we interject.

We listen, we add to the conversation.

We are one and we call one another from the proverbial cliffs of our own anxious waiting.

Sometimes I call her down, sometimes she consoles, corrects, cajoles me.

Either way, there may be tears. There is always prayer and always, always we are both equally better.

Or at least, we’ve filled a big chunk of the space in our minds tainted by what we are dying to know, what we are willing ourselves to believe all will be His will or we are plain worn out from devising outcomes from which to choose and get ready for.

We are both willful we decide.

This morning, I want to know more. I’m reading my Bible like the good book it is, enthralled to know more, I decide to read each account of the day between death and resurrection.

I choose Luke because of one sentence in what amounts to no more than a paragraph.

Just a paragraph, a pause.

John, Mark and Matthew all the same, a resignation of accepting the death of Jesus and a business transaction on the part of a man named Joseph.

“Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:50-54‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The women prepared the spices, they’d taken care to continue in their parts. Verses before, they’d been told of promises.

Jesus saw their longing, their lamenting. He spoke of our own longing, our lamenting when and will and how and how long?

“But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Told them days of blessings are a sure thing. Every single word of Jesus was purposeful, was promise.

Was a promise he kept and still keeps.

As if saying, Believe. You will see!

That day in between, sad but serene resignation, accepting, doing what we can do.

They did what they could, they made the preparations.

They were careful in their role as ones who cared.

They did what they could and then rested.

“Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:56‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, I made a new to do list.

I’m in charge of some things and I’ve promised to do another. My children will be with me tomorrow for lunch and I’m ditzy when it comes to hosting and cooking and timelines.

I’ll read the narration for our cantata and I’ll sing and worship.

I added a bold bracket around my list and asked God to use me and my abilities as He sees fit.

And I remembered wisdom from another:

“I will when I can.”

Today, I’ll rest in my waiting. I’ll do my best to embrace the time, the day between.

Sabbath, I surrender to you. I’ll give grace to me and to those around me.

With anticipation and excitement I’ll celebrate the life and newness and resurrection tomorrow.

Like Mary and the others, I’ll hold on hopeful and wholeheartedly to your promise that it is not finished with me, there are still mountains to be moved and beautiful blessings from barren times for me and for the ones I love and humbly pray intercession for.

Prayers spoken and answered, she will call and we’ll sing together because His glory has been shown.

Yes, we have seen God’s glory!

New life!