Words, Promises and Broken Cycles

I’m always surprised when I’m noticed.

My little trendy southern town known for being “best” in “Southern Living” and yet, such a mixture of poverty and riches with people in the in between vying to be noticed and included.

I used to be included.

I was always reluctant.

It was my work and my voice for the issues that got me invites to ladies’ clubs and big civic suit dressed men meetings.

It was that voice that labeled me one who “talked about hard things, a conversation starter”.

I brought things like homelessness, suicide and trauma from abuse to the table.

And then, I went home.

It was my job.

I left the work to do something other.

On a Friday night in our little town, the place where everyone congregates is hoppin’!

Women dressed for early dinners before a big show at our little theatre.

Young people, families, craft beers, pizza, music and chilled Pinot glowing in pretty glasses.

I wait outside until an inside table is ready, humid here I ask for water.

People are watching and talking.

Teenage girls in high heels and fancy dresses for homecoming football, carefully walking on cobblestones.

I’m responding to little dings on my phone, a sweet video of my granddaughter dancing to her daddy’s favorite funny song.

Then another, she’s being fed from a spoon, the first time and she’s a pro.

Sweet Elizabeth Lettie.

My friends arrive, one and then the other.

A couple stands to leave their table and the wife comes over to speak.

She and her husband, long time supporters of the agency I formerly led.

I assume she’s coming to chat with my friend and instead she addresses me.

Asking, how do you like being a grandmother?

I answer and she adds.

I think it’s so very nice, that you kept your promise. VS

I smiled, no, I’d say I was beaming.

No question about adjusting to not working or have you heard about this or that or the other…

All that’s happened in the wake of your retirement?

No, it was words to acknowledge me keeping my promise to my daughter.

Before I left my career, the paper and a local magazine did a piece on my leaving.

Both, I made sure, contained

I’m honoring a promise I made long ago to my daughter, I’ll be helping with her baby.

My friends and I caught up on lives with spouses, small talk and talk about what’s been newsworthy for our small town.

One friend who’d been aligned wholeheartedly with me in my ten year tenure in mental health expressed a longing that the work the way it used to be would continue.

She added it feels like “wasted time” all the years she put in.

“Oh, no, I’m not letting either of you own that!” announced my feisty second friend.

Adding that there are countless lives of women and children whose cycles of abuse and homelessness, depression and worthlessness have been broken!

I thought “ripple effect”.

They then asked about my children, both of them childless.

I shared how they’re doing and recent conversations with both that left me in awe over their strength…them being so much stronger than the me at their age.

My friend added,

you’ve broken the cycle you knew.

I thought of my children.

I accepted that. Yes, I have.

Yes, thank God; with God, I have.

Friday night reflections on Saturday morning:

You’ll hear what you need from others when you need it and while the encounters may be few, you will be noticed for being you.

No other reason.

Just you, being you.

A quiet strong.

Lord, may this be my legacy.

The choices I made and make, the ripple effect, like the settled waters of a quiet creek.

They come back.

Back to me.

I am thankful.

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Belief in Prayer

Some evenings I walk and I recall some instruction from some time ago reminding me to use the strength of my core, the power in my legs.

I may have turned a corner at the place on the path that my muscles are less tight and resistant and so, my walk becomes a flow, an easy assurance to go on.

Other times, the heavy weight of me goes uneased and I consider turning back for home but never do.

I walk on.

And I lean forward although it’s not the best look or posture, I bend my head towards the ground and I slump a little over into the heart of my fatigue, the core of my concern.

I walk on. Music or calming advisor in my ear, I’m absorbing information that is for naught now but always surfaces later.

I’m thinking about compassion today because someone and I talked about it a few days ago, the demonstration of it, the innate trait of knowing how to make it known.

Compassion, I read is “to suffer together” with others.

Like leaning into their distressing situation and through your presence you’re invited to listen or through your unknown prayers unrelenting.

It’s being in a tough season with someone knowing you can’t comprehend their seasonal distress, nor can you walk them through it, instruct them to walk forward in a certain way.

You’ve got no measurement for their trip, your only traction for their footing is your alignment through prayer.

John, Peter and James trekked up the mountain with Jesus. They’d been in His presence, had observed all of his healing, all of the furor over his being God’s Son, the speculative conversations disputing His purpose, Redeemer.

They’d seen Jesus walk on water, they saw Him have compassion on the hungry, the deaf, the ones brave and desperate enough to draw near.

They climbed up to the mountain aligned with Jesus and there they saw Him transfigured in the presence of Elijah and Moses, with God. Peter didn’t really understand. They were terrified by the ghostly presence. At the same time, Peter’s heart was settled. God was near.

“And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:5‬ ‭ESV

My children are entering new phases. They are stepping into new challenges, emotional and other. My daughter, a 1st grade teacher will nurture and then teach a new group of children.

Yet, she’ll be challenged beyond comprehension as she leaves her precious newborn, Elizabeth, at home with the grandmothers, still she will be leaving her, separated and in our care.

The emotions are palpable as I listen to her talking of being prepared. I agree. I listen. I will pray.

My son will begin the final leg of his academic journey. He’s pressed on quite consistently and has arrived in a pivotal and challenging finish line, approaching stretch of the journey. He will be challenged by numbers and so many yet to be seen things in his steady path towards God’s purpose and career.

Much like the disciples who longed to heal for themselves the son presented to them by a distraught father.

Seizure afflicted for so many years, Jesus told them why their interventions wouldn’t bring healing.

Only the father’s prayer would do. We don’t read of whether he’d been praying for years or whether he never considered it,

The irrefutable power of a parent who aligns themself with Jesus and thus, God the Father, through prayer.

The son was healed. Jesus gave all the credit to the father’s cry.

I don’t want the significance of this gift of my morning Bible to be wasted.

Picture yourself in the presence of Jesus and you’re at the end of your rope, the last of your wit and your sense and he says don’t you go deciding on your own what is possible and what is not!

“And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:21-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To pray for your children is to lean in to God.

It is to stand on the safer shore you’ve come to know because of age and experience and be content as background material, consultant over companion.

It is to glance their departure into a distant and new sea.

It is to know that they know you’re praying at every turn and transition into the unexpectedly hard places.

It is a prayer that remembers their toddler frames that required you supporting their falls and becomes support in a more solid way, the visits of grace to them unexpected because you are diligent and persistent in your new compassionate role.

Hands off, heart all in.

You become constant in your prayers.

You pray for alignment of them with you. You pray that the tough times grow them when those times require physical and emotional endurance only God can give.

Not a parent.

No, your part is prayer, the believing kind. Your part is compassion that aligns with Jesus, agrees with God.

Your part is prayer that allows you in to their personal places, leaves all your worries, your hopes, your exaggerated stories on the table, sat next to the Savior to be shared with the Father.

Knowing grace is sufficient and being unwaveringly convinced that grace is good and it’s a gift to your children they never have to fight for, it is mercy that endures.

Mercy like the prayer of a mama, it’ll never be taken off the table, it won’t be a rescinded invitation.

It’ll be like grace, an enabling spirit, a compass positioned towards healing.

Prayer, the power of a parent’s prayer.

Incomprehensible!

“Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer. ””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭9:28-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Maybe the sweetest thing I can do is to pray my children

Continue and believe.

More sweeter even is that they see me continue towards believing in God and in them with no need for constant checking in.

Yes, continuing to believe.

To believe in God with them.

A prayer for our children?

To have them unexpectedly experience that God is near.

God stay near, the cry of a parental prayer.

I’m linking up with Mary Geisen and other storytellers here:

https://marygeisen.com/if-you-knew-me-when/

Thoughts on Heaven and Mamas

This morning I cleaned out my “Saves” on Facebook, stuff I thought I may read later, there were over 50 various things I considered useful at the time.

Same old same, healing from trauma, posts about family, even more expert recommendations to grow my blog, have my voice heard, write the book, don’t give up…

I deleted almost all. I have to be honest, I am on writerly advice overload.

At the bottom was a note, the Facebook kind, I suppose my idea of blogging before I blogged and it was called 30 Randoms…things I’ve learned since mama died.

It is a list compiled 10 years ago come November.

Much of it is the same.

I suppose the ache began when someone said change your profile pic to your mom’s, one of those FB things that make you either go along or rebel.

I rebelled in a kind of pitiful, mulling over pondering way, my way.

I don’t have a photo I haven’t shared before and the one I have is dated and it doesn’t portray the mama I want to portray.

Grief changes its hold on you over time.

I miss my mama, see the cardinals all the time that say she is near.

I’m afraid though it’s simply not enough. Well meaning people will say oh she sees you, she’s looking down and you stand silent like a big dumb block not replying to their little kind words or something to say remedy.

I believe my mama is in heaven; but, I do not fully understand what it’s like for her there.

Possibly her spirit still lingers near me, possibly it’s my memory and longing for her involvement that manufactures this comfort and assurance for me.

Here we are over 10 years and there’s so much she should know.

Updated here are 30 randoms I’m offering up as prayers to heaven in hopes that someone else up there runs out to find you and you sit together and you laugh and cry happy heavenly tears over what is going on, how we’re doing without you and daddy down here:

1. The grandchildren are something else altogether and individually, they are just enough you to be stubborn and outspoken and often irreverently rebellious in being themselves!

2. We are all still married to the ones you saw us with before you passed away.

3. Baby Brown is due any moment of a very soon day. This will mean three great grands. Our home has a baby room.

4. Your grandsons are strong, just enough cockiness of your daddy cushioned by the gentle handsome ways of our daddy.

5. I left my job that was destroying my health. I am an artist. I get “pissy” and I’m sure have a certain look when someone says a painting is “cute”.

6. I am a writer. I will be going by “grandma” just like you and I will be helping my daughter with her baby, just like you.

7. I am less afraid but still prefer to stay hidden.

8. I left the church that made me feel I’d never be enough.

9. I sit every morning with my Bible, a pencil and a memorandum book.

10. When I’m sad or angry or anxious, I clean the whole house, rearrange stuff.

11. People call me an open book. I reply with only certain stories.

12. I reunited with Melanie and revisited the times I fell apart and she helped you and daddy hold me together.

13. I regret going home the night you passed away.

14. I understand you probably wanted it this way.

15. I love Jesus the way you lived it, love everyone the best you can, not more than you should to those who love themselves so much they don’t need yours.

16. Be kind to your husband, as he ages you become everything to him.

17. Love a dog, this love will sustain you.

18. Love food, not its control over you.

19. Delicious things are only delicious if savored not embellished or used to satiate empty bottomless places.

20. Accept God’s grace.

21. Being pitiful is not pretty or permitted.

22. Wear more red. Paint your toenails red, learn to wear a hat.

23. Don’t stress.

24. Stress will kill you. (I’ve told you before, Lisa Anne).

25. I’m going by Lisa Anne now mama, occasionally “LT”.

26. I sold three paintings last week and I gave one expensive one away.

27. One painting found a new home, it was inspired by your high school photo and I called it “Heaven Meets Earth”.

28. Today, I will believe there are better days ahead, I’ll not long as much to have you here to have your hand touch mine, to see your face when you see ours.

29. Today, I’ve decided I’ll ask again and if you’re listening, maybe you can soften the way. For Mother’s Day, I want a dog.

Yes, how fitting, how perfect, how precious it will be. A puppy or a rescue, a new home with me to represent and honor you. Yes, I’ve decided, I’ll ask again.

Don’t you think it’s time, Greg? Time for us to get a dog? If not now he might say soon and I’ll let it go, trust it’s just not a good time.

30. Better now, I’m better. Grief is a mystery and an unexplainable thing. Words from others who don’t truly know are better left unsaid.

There’s really no right response other than remembering.

When Mother’s Day is without a mom, a mother, an outspoken and gone too soon mama!

The greatest gift is to allow all of the remembering you can stand!

P.S. I joined the Artist Guild and there’s an exhibit tonight I don’t think I’ll be attending. One, possibly two of my pieces will be displayed. Some artists will have ribbons on their works. I’m not going because I still don’t care for spotlights or attention.

Remember the time you and daddy drove four hours because a piece I created was chosen for a blue ribbon?

I remember it well and the years that followed dulled my shine and the gift of your being there.

So, if I didn’t say so then, thank you for telling me back then that it was possible,

I could become an artist according to you!

I finally believe you.

Happy Mother’s Day. I feel you near, do not fully understand it, I do believe you have become an angel.

Lisa Anne

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

I mentioned I knew little of Advent before. I acted as if I did when my cousin gifted me with a package containing images to display, to mark each day.

Now, this year I can’t find the Advent activity and most likely won’t be going back to search through the attic.

Instead, I saw something going around on social media. I’ll read and reflect on a chapter of Luke for 24 days, a look at the life and death and resurrection of the baby that became my Savior.

December 2, I began:

Reading a chapter of the Book of Luke a day, 24 days, for Advent, a new way to honor the tradition, to truly connect with Christmas.

In the 1st chapter, Elizabeth and Zechariah, although old, realize they’ll be parents to John, the one who’ll make way for Jesus.

Elizabeth feels her baby move as soon as Mary, with child, enters the room. Mary is surprised, uncertain, but settles into the surprise of being chosen. It’s the beginning, the beautiful beginning. Everything must’ve felt uncertain, maybe even giddy.

A baby changes everything.

December 3, Luke 2:

The chapter covers a whole lot of life. I wish Luke had lingered longer in several places. I’d like to have known more about Jesus in the manger, about little boy Jesus in the temple, about Jesus being described by his father Joseph, about the way Mary’s face appeared, her emotion as she took it all in, as she listened and pondered.

Jesus Found at The Temple

I wish I could have been amongst the people.

I believe for miles around the angels’ song was heard, the one that followed their calming of the throng, assuring them not to be afraid, through a song.

“”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

One verse captivates me this year. Possibly because I will soon “go by grandma”.

It makes all of this divine story so human. After the angels announced the birth, they ascended back to heaven. The shepherds made way to see the baby and there must have been a commotion, a flurry of comments and conversation.

Like we are today, waiting room waiters, nursery window peering and chances to be invited in finally, oh, to see the baby!

I imagine there were questions of Joseph and a paparazzi like reaction. To be the first to see what had been spoken of, hoped for and possibly disbelieved…what a special occasion!

There he was, a baby born to a teenage virgin, the one God sent his angels to welcome into our world.

Mary, oblivious to the crowd, cradles her baby.

I love this part. the part every woman who has ever given birth knows.

I love the realization of the miraculous.

Mary swaddled Jesus and simply “pondered”. Luke includes no description of her expression, I imagine a serenity, a glow.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Today, on this 2nd Day of Advent, I’m praying with “I will” rather than “help me”. I’m remembering Mary and her acceptance of what became her opportunity, the time she was chosen for.

I’ve decided to shift my mindset of “hope so” to deliberately so. It might be what I have been missing, might allow me to forgo regret over what I’ve not finished and replace it with resolve to carry it through.

That’s what Mary did.

She believed what God told her He would accomplish in her.

Luke may have left out their late night discussions, she and Joseph still so blown away by this pregnancy. Mary might have had some “hormonal” moments, fear, fatigue and even, dread.

She was human, she was uncertain.

But, I believe she decided to be deliberate.

Deliberate in her seeking

Deliberate in her surrender

Deliberate in her notice of God all along her journey

Deliberate in her quiet pondering

My prayer today.

Tell me what to say.

I want to be deliberate in all my ways.

Luke, Chapter 2 ends with their son becoming their teacher. He takes off on his own, they panic until they find him in the temple.

He tells them why he’s there.

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:48-49‬ ‭

Mary begins to learn a lesson, a human one again, one I’ve learned of late, the need to allow our children to individuate.

Again, she’s quiet.

And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:51‬ ‭

It’s true, Lord. I learn when I get quiet. Help me to be deliberate in the quiet.

Walks Across the Country

Yesterday, I met two vivacious young women. They were dressed in athletic type shorts revealing tan lines and their T-shirts boasted of their initiative. Its front had a logo of a bicycle and the words “wheels for mental wellness”.

Tomorrow night I’ll host a gathering, a platform for them to share their why.

I’ve heard there’s a reason, it’s because of someone in their family.

Yesterday, I walked with the largest group ever as I participated in our community’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk. Some of them I know, they call me Miss Lisa and friend.

I thought of them last night, hoping so badly that the day had not been too draining, that they’d know they’d done their best, always.

The woman in the red shirt’s name is Rose. I’d never have known her if she hadn’t decided to come with another mama to my office, both of them military moms, both of them mothers of sons who died by suicide.

Both of them, there today, walking proudly and purposefully. Mamas who most likely moved heaven and earth for their sons when they were little boys to grown-up men…and still, they are, they’re not letting up, walking, taking up for their boys, moving heaven and earth for them in the only way they can, still. I’m fortunate to know them, moved in lots of ways I can’t describe, my being close, not really knowing; but, close to their grief.

I hope they sleep soundly tonight knowing they gave it all they had today for their boys!

Walks are happening across the country right now if you get a chance you should join in, walk alongside another.

I’m told and I know that being there is not ever enough or maybe close to anything at all. But, it is important; important for others to simply, be there, there with them.

5 Years Old Now

I’ve just scanned through five years worth of blog.

Real reminiscing.

All about my “girl and my boy”, God, prayer, struggle, survival, His grace, people I’ve bumped into, causing me to think.

I’m surprised it’s been 5.

The only takeaway, I see since I’m not so tech savvy or SEO keen is that

I love my space.

I love it being mine and me.

I had no idea it was year 5 until I got the little WP trophy notification.

But, this morning after two days finishing a submission for possible publication of a personal, I suppose powerful piece.

I prayed a prayer that just came.

I love those.

God’s way.

Maybe didn’t make much sense to me.

Still, I prayed it.

God, thank you for letting me write, thank you for giving me words that I get happy over them feeling just right.

Now, I say thank you to people I won’t or can’t possibly name at all.

Who I imagine a whole lot more spectacular writers than me.

And for friends who tell me, “I’d read it, I want to read more.” when I cautiously hint the thought “book”…

You’ll never ever know how much you matter and…you know,

You know who you are.

Thank you so very much!

Happy Way of Life #8

I was outside literally two minutes or less, finally finished, I made my way to the spot I sit and watch the blue cool pool water paint patterns on my feet.

I’d been cleaning like crazy, Friday night instead of Saturday morning.

I was raised that way.

On Saturday morning, nothing happened until we cleaned.

My mama handed out assignments and by noon you’d have thought our house on the poor side of town was tucked away behind stately gates.

I adhere to her pattern, my daughter and son do too. We like things straight.

We like our places put together and pretty.

Now, it’s morning and I have Saturday’s day about to unfold. I’ve been awakened by a text, “You up?”

“In bed, awake”, my reply.

“Get ready.” her instruction.

Last night I tried to remember my mama’s particular words and I couldn’t. I tried to bring to mind her philosophical response, fashioned in blunt reply.

What I miss most of all are Saturday morning calls, coaxing me not worry…to let these two be, to know that they are good.

I can’t recall what it was, the thing I said just like her. I wanted to remember, tried so very hard.

I had to let it go hoping it comes back when I least expect.

Because last night, I sat in my spot, magazine by my side with a splash of wine in pretty glass. Relax, Lisa Anne.

Relax now.

Don’t stress. Let it be. Pick your battles. It’ll be fine. The truth always comes out and again, stress’ll kill you.

Momentarily, I heard the sound.

The arrival, I was ready.

Closer to me, at just the right time, I tilt my eyes towards heaven, and there are three.

The geese, the geese.

Mama always said, “Here they come.”

And yes, they did.

Again.

Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow in heaven. I’ll keep looking for you, mama, in my every single thing.

I’ll be listening for your reply.