My Ungrowing

The tiny houseplant was a gift to my daughter as a teacher. Its little pot barely containing the roots, yet I pull it from the pretty little pot, give it water and its leaves lift up and persist, my home, its home now.

Not sure why it’s taken so long to decide, to decide it needed room to grow and lifted it from the flimsy black pot and dig deep down the soil already waiting in a container that contained something planted before that would not for the life of me grow.

Moved the tender tiny clinging still plants to the border and I placed the philodendron (maybe) in the center and just because, I put the ceramic sparrow there, to rest and to watch with me, the new place the plant will grow.

“Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.”

Psalms‬ ‭119:88‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I changed my morning spot, baffled over why I’d not thought to do so before.

Uncrowded now, the succulents are next to the others, two fat containers of thick odd things that grow best left alone. I’ll nourish this new planting, watch it flourish, see how it will go.

What a proud reply I’d been quick to give, popping back like an annoyingly cute little toddler pulling on the fabric of someone’s shirt, insisting on attention.

Interrupting all other conversation, anxious to be addressed, noticed, allowed to be the star of her own show.

“Me, me, Me!”

I was determined to be sure others knew I was there.

My confident reply even if no one asked, “I’m just gonna take every single opportunity I get to write.”

Their faces, sometimes awkward smiles and oh, okay, go you kinda responses.

Their reactions puzzled a little as if “This is different, who is this person?”

What began as an answer to prayer sort of sneakily meandered it’s way to obsession and half-hearted and hurried completion.

Let me tell you, Jesus was merciful in not allowing me to make a bigger mess of it. Clearly, a couple of columns, a few pieces were written two hours before deadline and what I know for sure.

It was only grace driven by God’s design of my days that He not me made sense, brought it all together.

None of it my creation alone, still God allowed me such grace in the midst.

Cause my heart was not in it. Thank you, Lord,

Yours was.

Were it not for me telling you so, you might never know. might think there’s no need for you to know.

The answer came one morning, the understanding of and making right this time.

“dormant”

I thought that is it. I’m in the dormant stage. It’s not so lovely a word and not ever say or think with regularity.

I checked to see if I had it right. Did it mean doing nothing, did it mean an on purpose lack of plowing and cultivating of my writing soil?

Yes, dormant. Yes, latent. Letting things lie, all the while knowing I’d be back, they as well.

Yes, stepping away and letting the roots grow in their own.

Dormancy, a season of inactivity because opportunities had somehow become contradictory to opportunity and were heartless obligation.

Counterintuitive, my “ungrowing” season.

I believe it will be.

The minds that are alive to every word from God, give constant opportunity for His divine interference with a suggestion that may alter the courses of their lives…Richard H. Hutton, Joy and Strength

Next week I’ll write my final “Faith” column for the small town paper. I’ll say thank you to all who’ve read and I’ll welcome the new one, the one who’s waiting already for simply a time to grow.

Now, my hope feels unhindered and my pathway one of peace. I’ve not forgotten the morning God, that you told me of my treasure, the one you planted there to grow.

Meanwhile, my hope is in my ungrowing, my revival in my rest.

I believe, Lord. I believe.

“Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!” Psalms‬ ‭119:116‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This post by Holly Gerth confirmed my assurance that it’s okay, okay to wait and see what God has for me.

https://holleygerth.com/blog/

Bird on a Limb

There’s a bird on the branch of the old pine tree. At first it sat sideways on the fencepost. I turned from my coffee and it caught my eye, it’s belly so full and white,

I could see from the window. It waited it seems for my turning.

I stared.

It sat.

I walked outside and naturally it flew away and then it crossed my path to perch in the crepe myrtle. Again, until I got too close and it took up to the sky to rest on the thick limb of pine.

I just read what I know in my morning devotional, a confirmation that my contemplation over seemingly insignificance is never as I’m described “too deep”.

Nothing in our life is random or meaningless. Even when we don’t understand…

In Touch, Dr. Charles Stanley

The strangest thing it seemed occurred on Sunday. I’m traveling the interstate and notice what appears to be cloth of some sort, a red ribbon I decide.

I continue on expecting to see the breeze created by speeding cars lift it up and away.

Instead, I see a “red bird”, the bright red male of the couple, lifting itself frantic and fiercely hoping to avoid the white monstrosity of metal, my bumper.

With a loud bump the bird, failing to fly quickly enough meets my car and from there I presume lands someplace else most likely not surviving.

The thing is, it’s Mothers Day and my heart was looking for birds and feathers and such already, thinking of my mama long passed.

Melancholy over the void, determined to not be miserable.

However, I’m met with a bird’s tragic intersecting of my car.

“Ohhh no.” I moaned low and longing. My son’s reply, a knowing chuckle over my reaction, what other response could he give? Must be tough to be 20 with a mama who can be so thought-filled. Who knows, maybe he’s the same, my daughter too.

Deep thinkers us all, perhaps.

Surely knowing I’d not be able to let it go, this not at all happenstance happening to me on Mother’s Day, noticing.

Initially, I thought the worse, the vibrant male cardinal telling me disaster is near, someone’s passing is to be expected.

What a dreadful thought, an immediate conclusion, that “this is your sign” get ready for the taking away of someone you love.

Momentarily, we arrived and I entered the big sanctuary with my daughter and son having prayed prior, “Father, help me to be attentive to your presence, open my mind and heart to the Holy Spirit.”

The music was moving, the sermon meaningful. My eyes filled with warm tears to be reminded that I matter, when the statuesque young woman, oblivious to all the congregants opened her hands in rhythm with her soul and voice and sang and I cried quietly, understanding.

No one needed to know.

But me.

All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty-handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free

I’ve been set free
Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me, oh

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind but now I see

Oh, I can see it now

Oh, I can see the love in Your eyes.

Broken Vessels, Hillsong

I can see it now.

“Pay attention.” I’ve decided the red bird was sent to say, from my Father.

“There are things you’ve stopped noticing as profound, the sightings of the birds and the sounds of their song, you’ve allowed them to be common, you’ve lost your keen longing to notice and be still in that notice.

You’ve considered like most, that it’s silly to believe this way.”

This morning, the bird with the fluff of fat white feathers for her belly and I had a staring contest. She sat, I watched. She moved and then returned and it’s not the bird who knows my need, nor anticipated my steps, impossible for that to be so.

It’s God who knew and knows.

Who reminded me to notice and made my pitiful and woesome imagining of the worst possible story into a reminder of what I’d lost, what I’d forsaken for other pursuits, distractions and decidedly doubtful dances with the devil.

A bird positioned in the middle of my interstate lane, mistaken for a ribbon, otherwise I’d have swerved to avoid and met God knows what.

Instead, it’s message so unavoidable and attention seeking…notice.

Pay attention.

Notice, again.

You forgot for a bit, needed to see.

God is everywhere.

The red birds and the fat mama birds and the voice of a woman who reminded me that He makes beautiful things of us.

God is everywhere.

Don’t forget to notice

His ways.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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 “change-up”

Slowly, my perspective is changing.

Consistently, I am enlightened by God.

Finally, I am beginning to create a space for freedom to be true.

I heard a sermon from Lamentations last week, the highlighted passage was on the steadfast quality of God’s love. It’s well known, an affirmative promise.

My mind wandered, I admit.

I have a hard time in a room with noises that distract, so I’ll focus my attention on my little space.

I’ll buffer the outside and go inside, reading ahead, veering a few lines or a chapter away to the other verses, protective of my focus and intentional in my holding close what’s mine, what’s beneficial.

Same way in my daily readings. this morning, only a few words because of time.

Yet, timely, so timely.  Gone, going are the days of holding onto hurt like a treasure, a badge marking honorable mention for making it through.

img_4547

 

I’m adapting.

We talked about my story last week, my friend and I.

Talked about the possibility of a changeup.

“Change-up”, the phrase paints a memory for me and I digress. My son’s reaction when he got that one right, priceless was his joy! The batter befuddled by the sudden change in pattern, tricked by his expectation of the fastball or the curve, he couldn’t adapt.

He couldn’t throw it too often, the batters grew to expect it, prepared and anticipated and they’d connect, triumphant their expression, they adapted, adjusted and met what was thrown a little differently, refusing to be struck out, struck down and defeated.

My story is wrought with trauma and it made…makes me vulnerable, just the thought of its presentation and mostly, its lack of completion.

Beginning even.

But, a changeup is in the works, slowly the perspective is changing and my mind is catching up to the curve.

Not fear, not remorse, not hard heard recollection, rather an authentic expression of gratitude and hope in the midst of every stage.

I’m adapting. I’m hopeful, less hindered by my vulnerability and my striving towards redeeming my wrongs and the wrongs done towards me.

Adapting my story from a fearful perspective to more of a welcome gift of forgiveness to others.

Not about me, my fears or my falters, rather about those steadfast in their hope for me.

My life, an adaptation of God.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:55-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Linking up with others, writing for 5 minutes, prompted by “adapt”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/05/03/fmf-link-up-adapt/

 

Impatient Wonder

Two or three things stuck last week, adding to the mix even more this morning and now, afternoon as well.

The first is the perspective changer that uncertainty is a gift, an absolute gift.

Uncertainty, held by grace.

And wonder.

Last week, I berated myself out loud to another, her commentary brought new perspective, brought me to consider a kind response.

To realize I had not been “resourced” back then to choose alternate responses.

Too much wrong food, buying stuff just because and giving in to a pattern as if there was no other way but back and so scared I might be moving in reverse not forward.

“Coping mechanisms” she called my overindulgence(s).

You’re self-aware, you’ve called yourself out this time, that’s progress.

You’re not stuck.

“Oh.” I remembered later, what a gracious choice. What a gracious idea giving permission to mess up and even more so, a prompting to step surely and rightly again.

I’ve been talking about turning 60 for months now, anxious that I might not do the things I said I was gonna do when I was a year younger than I am now.

I’ve got about 30 months to 60 and I guess about 900 days. I’m no math person, let me use my words.

Words are my thing, not numbers.

Wondering if I will, uncertain if I can.

Impatient to see what I will.

Stuck.

If you’re Southern you might remember a ready reply your mama, your grandma or grandpa would give in reply to whether and when.

Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise!

What might happen depending on God being willing and I imagine whoever started this go to reply, the road might have been impassable, their door might have guarded the way out and they may have decided not today, gotta wait for the creek to settle, gotta wait for the water to flow back downstream to the river, to the sea.

Gotta wait for the settling.

Today, I read about the woman in Proverbs again, the passage that tells a son what to look for in a wife. The verses are filled with guidance, the descriptive nature often causes wonder of worth.

Today though, one part stuck.

“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The part about considering, about patient wonder, about tentative even proceeding.

About waiting patiently for an undertaking, taking graceful steps towards uncertain yielding of creative crop.

Giving myself a pass on not perfecting.

I hadn’t cooked for days. My husband was having omelets, pb&j’s and pizza from a box.

I’ve a meal in the oven now, rosemary roasted turkey, potatoes and carrots to be beside asparagus drizzled in butter and warm grain rice.

An assignment for a magazine had me insecure and regretful, due tomorrow, 1000 words for a hundred.

I find a little teacup and steep the bag in steam and down the hall I go and I pray

Father, help me to write the words that someone is needing, that they read my words and begin to be better.

Because of mercy, Amen

Me

I go back for the tea, meet the waiting laptop and the notes scribbled and scattered and I read, I read before I write, the little teeny words on a square on a string I’ll tear off and keep.

And now, the article is done, pool time and blueberry creamy coolness to be followed by dog walking and sky studying.

Sunday, oh, Happy Day you have been!

Words and Pursuit

I love a pretty word, love the way it prompts pursuit.

Draws me to be hopeful it’ll fit just right, my emotion and understanding.

Love the way it awakens me, a word saying “Carry on, continue, you’re not too far gone.”

I found myself drawn to confirm my understanding, the word “ardent”, I felt descriptive of someone committed, zealous, passionate even in their effort to be near, be in relationship with another.

The book I read in the mornings is made of quotes and verses and very often, I must pause to understand the linguistic disconnect.

I’m not sure I’d ever heard it, that God was an ardent pursuer of me, a sort of suitor refusing to accept my rebuff.

Lord knows, back in the day, the nice guys I cast aside, rarely did they continue their pursuit, lost interest, lost cause.

Today, I couldn’t quite believe with my whole heart. I teetered between the why and His will. I wondered if others tired of wanting to understand but, being unable to believe.

Someone stopped by and her whole face was smiling. Another stopped by and she cried, I cried with her.

Another called and I apologized before I ever began, I’m sorry I’m pitiful today. She told me she’d woken the same way.

I sat in my car and she prayed I’d know his nearness, that I’d remember my strength because of a God who pursues and protects me. She prayed there’d be a break in my heavy load and that the big things looming would have His hand on me.

And it wasn’t all of a sudden, like a gathering of hallelujah singers all around, it was a gradual sense of God’s presence.

A calming factor, a sense of hope and an affirmative reminder that I believe.

The to do pad on the fridge, blank until today. Home from long day, I decide on a bike ride. The slight cooling down of evening air on my face, I pedaled strong and determined and never let up, careening around the curve and back through my yard. I hop off my bike and back inside, realize the day is different.

It’s dusk and it’s evening and there’s chili simmering on the stove.

I reach for the fridge and my note to self from early morning.

Believe God.

Now, I know you know I didn’t, haven’t seen God. But, he pursued me today and followed me and happened to have people see me, hear me, listen, smile, cry and pray.

And they were intentional. They were wholehearted and enthusiastic. They were passionate in their pursuit of my heart as I was of theirs and we were mutually ardent in our compassionate responses.

Goodness and mercy found me today. It seems it was not without effort because sometimes I look and don’t find and I grow weary and worn, wilted, drained and deplete.

But, He never lets go His ardent pursuit.

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Ardent, a word descriptive of a committed and fervent one. One who never gives up.

A quote from my little morning book from the Rev. John Tauler, born 1290 and deceased in 1361, 71 years of understanding of God’s pursuit:

For God is right diligent to be with us at all seasons, and to teach us, that He may bring us to Himself, when we are like to go astray.

None of us ever desired anything more ardently than God desires to bring men to the knowledge of Himself. J. Tauler

Oh my goodness, knowledge so very close to being too wonderful to know.

To know that I am known by God.

Wonderful to know.

Happy Way of Life #4

Coral colored buds on curlicue type clutching outgrowth

Fuzzy fronds dripping off branches.

Pecans trying, wanting to grow and then fall to the ground to be gathered again.

Again, after all.

I’d imagined the ease in which its branches may break with the grab of an intentional hand.

The high grass cradling so many already,

I’d imagined the sound sharp and quick as the limb was grabbed hold of and snapped to be discarded to the side.

The tree I’d begun to love

I’d decided in error might have nary a bloom seeing its final season.

We walked together, worn from physical and mental woe of a very long day.

We walked anyway as the warm whisper of the air called come, come and see

and then we paused to worship there, a quiet place loving and needing all the more quiet and deciding we should

Believe.

Believe in what might surprise us

And be.