Love Remains

“There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas ). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.”
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭9:36‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Last night, I saw the writing prompt, “Now” and thought there’s so much that word could inspire in this time, this time that feels like now is an open-ended question or complex algebraic word problem I’d likely give up on. So, I thought to write about the difficulty of now, the tough realization that we’re running out of distractions to fill up the time called now that feels so far away from “then” and even farther from “when”.

Instead, after making a very good to do list to help me feel a purpose, I lingered over a quote on my “In Touch Ministries” devotion, knowing this was pressed prior to Co-Vid and meant to turn us towards Easter.

“In loving with His whole heart, Jesus was willing to be turned down.” Dr. Charles Stanley

I turned back to my daily Bible guide and returned to Acts. The story of Tabitha, I missed before. She became ill and died and was surrounded by friends who wore garments she had sewn for them. Peter prayed and she was healed and because of her healing, many others believed.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about the women who surrounded her, the lives that would remain in the room and that many would carry with them, wearing tunics made by their friend and remembering her acts of charity, her love for them.

I thought of the quilts my grandma and aunt made that lie folded across our beds. I thought of women everywhere who’ve learned to make masks for medical workers and others.

Love remains. The love we give, the love we’ve given. The love we decide to give today, regardless of it being well-received or going unnoticed. Jesus is our example of love giving, love that will remain.

We’re beneficiaries of His choice to love mankind through dying not knowing who or when or if we would receive it.

So, the prompt called “now” that caused me to be frustrated over its lack of borders led me to a story of a creative and what she left for others, love and beautiful garments.

Her love remains even today because of my discovery of her “story” and the way it made me feel worthy, feel hopeful, inspired.

What’s your story? How have you loved others, how can you continue elaborately even unknowingly in this time of openness in time despite closed doors?

Love now, knowing it will remain.

Linking up with other encouragers at FMF. You can read here: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2020/04/02/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-now-a-gift-for-you/

Oddities, Faith and Birds

A few days in a row I fixated on the idea of a bluebird landing in my palm. I imagined being able to get close enough before it flew away.

I set out with the plan that if I asked God to let that bird make a nest in my palm, I’d believe even more strongly in a God I can’t see.

I would see faith in a whole new way.

The fencepost is marked by a blue ribbon! Trickery to my vision even today.

If I clutched that resting bird, I’d go back home or sit on the front steps and I’d make a call. “Cousin!” I’d say with a loud happy voice, to my cousin who believes bluebirds mean hope.

“Cousin, you’ll never believe it! I have just held a little bluebird in my hand!” And she’d reply in her southern strong voice with either,

“What???? …Get outta here, no way!!!”

I love the way she always gets excited over my revelations.

Or, she’d say “Oh, Lisa, I can’t believe it, isn’t God so good?”

She might find my behavior odd, that I long to see a bluebird sit still in my hand.

That this crazy idea born of seeing a bird near the fence for me is a metaphor for faith, for sustaining it.

For me to be honest with me. Holding a bird in my hand would just lead to me longing for more. I’d love the way God answered my crazy request; but, what next?

Would I ask God to bring a cardinal indoors to live next to my bed? Would I have no fear of flying and ask to soar on an eagle’s wing?

Outlandish thoughts! Really elaborate tales I write in my intricately woven head.

God made me this way.

Last month I was more focused on the birds than ever. Crows all over the country field and a gathering of blue birds in the yard. Several cardinals seem to time it just right and I am turning my face towards the sky and they unravel themselves from the branches and hover over my walk on the trail. Bright red, soft and luminous blue, even the omenous charcoal black buzzard sitting atop the falling down house.

I noticed them. I thought about how God made them all. Thought about God telling us we mean more to Him than birds, than sparrows.

We are more intricately made. A blessing and a worrisome thing is a mind, a complex and compromised by life on earth brain.

Maybe that’s why I love the birds, love the idea of flying from place to place with my little flock. Being able to simply know my nest will be strong and safe if even for just a season.

Knowing there’s a pattern to life, there is a path for safe transition to Heaven.

Birds stay in that pattern undaunted by earth.

The coldest and most wet winter and I still hear the new bird in the tall pine singing its newly acquired noisy song. It sounds like anguish to me. Who am I to say? It’s most likely excitement.

It is a birdsong of faith.

As I type, the sound of a bouncing off the tall window has occurred. I don’t look up soon enough to see it, to know its color, brown, blue or rich red.

I know it may have been off course or maybe, just maybe it felt my longing and it thought it could come inside. Most likely not land in my hand, only let me truly see up close.

That’s faith that accepts our complexities. It’s faith in the God who made me who makes me unconcerned over writing this post, a crazy essay type story about how a bird not in my hand is leading me to deeper faith.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My thoughts are known and they are unique, one of a kind wonderings and at times quite woeful.

I am thankful I am loved completely by a God who knows me so well, who knows me because He knew me.

Who’s watching over and is satisfied by my longings over bluebirds.

Who is satisfied that I am coming into me as a work of His hand. A God who sees me testing Him to give me a bird as a measure of faith and is understanding of my ways and compels me deeper, deeper into His view of me.

God is okay with my oddities.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

None of us are the same.

We don’t see one another’s inward parts. For me to write about birds is a risk; a risk I pray gets others thinking. We can never understand the mind of another. We can only accept that as truth. We all have hidden vulnerabilities. Some of us overcome them. Others show and then regret showing because they’re met by the very different thoughts of another. Some brains have fought back with resilience.

Others still have little corners and crevices that have stored up fear. Some hearts don’t appear to be broken but are quite broken. They are not beyond repair. No, not at all beyond resilience sustained by faith. Some are not healed yet; but, they are closer to believing they will be, closer to the possibility of coming into God’s own. The place of rest.

So, from the perspective of one who ponders birds and skies, let’s all join together, separately and yet wonderfully made and believe together.

Faith makes us well, may we not need earthly evidence to believe it.

I don’t think Jesus would have told us to look at the birds if we couldn’t grow by looking. So look up today. Look for the birds, imagine if you like, being allowed to hold one gently for a minute.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Heavenly Father, thank you for making us so individually well and reminding us that we are so very fragile. It is you that makes us strong. Help us remember you through a flash of blue against a winter field. Because of mercy, in Jesus name, Amen.

Grey in the Window

I’d love to tell you the favorite part of my day was my morning thought of how faith is like the elusive bluebird. Of how I told myself that God uses birds throughout the gospels to teach us most everything, tell us to be light, not to worry. I thought that was a worthy thing, the way I pulled it altogether, the idea of faith requiring recall, not being dependent on the recurring miraculous. I’ll blog about this faith revelation later I decided. And I’d pull it altogether with a fascination with bluebirds I hope would allow me a photograph, even land and make a nest of my open hand. If I asked God for that and He gave it would that mean always and forever my faith would more likely be certain?

That even though it’d be an uncommon miracle type thing to have a bluebird land and settle in my hand, I might want something more, something one might call a miracle. Something sort of like today. I’m a serious one and yet, I laughed in a silly way today. I laughed unprompted by another or just to go along.

I stretched out across the playroom floor, the baby coralled by my extended legs. She sat still at my waist and over and over I positioned her little stuffed kitten on my middle. She was still.

“Ready?” I asked and she watched wide eyed and attentive as I pretended the little kitten was walking to the edge and then “Uh-oh!” the little grey kitten fell and fell again. My torso blocking her view, it would seem the little kitten flew!

I laughed at the thought of my play and she laughed along with me, eventually, not right away. No, not until at least six or seven tumbling kitten games.

It occurred to me she was seeing a new thing. She’d never ever seen her grandma laugh so spontaneously and I saw her smile widen and then as she held the little kitten in her tiny hand, she laughed with me. We laughed together.

Then I lined up the other animals and she crawled to chase the dog towards her little nursery.

Then, I called “Elizabeth” and she turned to see me once more letting the little toy kitten dance to See ‘n Say music and she bounced her little butt and she smiled and clapped her hands.

The thoughts about the elusiveness of faith, the blog I’d planned to write. Noble and true and realization that matters.

But, I’m still thinking about the kitten I bounced off my tummy then gave it a special spot in the window. The clouds were bringing cold tonight, the meteorologists were wrong, God had a different plan. The wide uncovered window upstairs kept the gloomy skies where they belonged. Inside, warm and dry we laughed and laughed again.

And Elizabeth smiled. So did I.

Surely Goodness

I’m standing in the kitchen and thinking go snap another picture.

Instead I settle on the view, a room filled with tall windows and panorama, a telephone doesn’t suffice, for the glory and purpose of me saying to me.

You are here.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:2-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You get to experience this time.

This place. This grace.

This momentary hand of God that tells you, stop rushing. Stop trying to capture any more clearly than what I’m revealing gradually. The sunrise in the country with clouds sweeping up to the places you can’t see.

But you know are there.

Eternity is possible for those who believe. Life is more than earth and heaven more beautiful than we can conceive.

Stand still. Let that heart of yours rest easy. Now, the baby is rising. Open wide eyes and smile and exploration of every single crevice of her sweet life and pretty place.

Ready yourself! Life is worth discovering! You get to be an observer!

Now the grand sky has changed to pink. The window above the plant, the cookbook, the big letter of their last name offers me peace.

The color of love and peace.

I look down, look away and well, I could go on forever.

I’ll stop lest I start telling you about the birds, the trees, the wide open field shifting from brown to green.

The geese that are communicating.

Wherever you are today, I hope something captures your attention, something you can’t really capture, only believe.

Look Again

I saw the something where the other had been proposed.

Painting over.

Left alone, a tiny bit tired over the way it hadn’t developed the as my heart hoped, strived for, imagined.

Look for good.

Look for God.

The tiny bit of light, the sunlight landing on one square of a blank canvas, painted dark and waiting for something.

The spot became water, I changed my idea of what a now finished piece would be. I left it, came back and saw it differently.

The piece did not turn out the way it began.

We don’t know what God has in mind for what has begun in us, what situation has come, has caused us to “come undone”.

We can’t predict the outcome. We can only be faithful to work in progress or thought not finished.

Faithful in our trust, faithful in our decision to continue surrendering

Our lives like blank canvas to his hand a broad stroke of brush or detailed pencil points added.

Pick back up.

Begin again.

Art imitating life, pieces coming together.

Look for God today. Look for good that is likely hard to see. Look for good in everything.

Look for God. Pray.

Trust. Wait.

Continue and believe.

Belief in Farming

Crazy title, crazy thing,

true story.

I always wanted to be a farmer.

Daddy had a garden several years, in the big back yard of the nicest home we lived in, in the narrow yard of the old house in the sketchy neighborhood, the westside of town.

And in the country, the furrowed rows could be seen from my window in the place where my children and I lived next to them, my mama and daddy.

All around us were other bigger fields.

My cousin worked them every year.

Soybeans, corn, peanuts, the rotation.

And wheat, the swaying stalks the place where my little girl loved to escape.

Just in front, sandy dirt, easily bogged down road that required us to memorize the ruts, there was cold and quiet digging at the end of the day, old bent silver spoons stirred up cakes and castles for both of my children back then.

We were never farmers but we saw the life.

We learned from the living.

We knew that the rain could ruin a crop and the lack of it, the same.

2019 was a year of breaking up my land, fine deep uprooting of long decayed seeds that needed to be give up on.

Crops that were meaningful but not so beneficial saw my surrender to possible new yields.

New seeds were planted and I was faithful even if my faith like a worried farmer sat and cynically muddled over what wasn’t growing.

Waited and accepted the harvest that came and set the mind on plowing down what didn’t produce and waiting til the season said yes to make new furrowed places and drop new seed.

I grew in new ways in 2019, struggle, surrender, stubborn decisions to live differently.

Differently as in not giving up on the possibility of new thoughts, new ways.

Rejecting the idea that nothing could ever grow strong through the work of my words and my hands.

Deciding not to let my fields become a wasteland, instead allow the painful turning over of my ground, the destruction of old roots making space for new planting.

“reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Months ago, I heard someone recite this verse and it simply would not let me go.

I began to grow slowly then.

Slowly being okay with waiting.

Surrender is a strong decision not a flag marking a quitter.

Surrendered ones keep going.

Taking in the nourishment given to me by songs, sermons, scripture.

Quiet, underneath like the soil.

My soul began and is still growing towards the embrace of the truth of the mercy and love of Jesus.

I wondered this morning if rushing towards Jesus, of standing up and saying I believe and not realizing it takes time to grow is a deterrent.

Do we decide not to believe fully because we expect to have a burst of understanding, an all of a sudden plentiful harvest of walking by faith in glorious fields?

I wonder if that causes us to doubt Jesus.

Nothing growing, we quit planting, we stop watering.

Just a thought.

And again, a mindset for me,

Just continue LT.

Continue and believe.

Because of mercy, Amen.

What has been planted, have you planted so far?

New Year Word

What do you know of yourself because of 2019?

How can you be honest with you?

It is good to understand your ways, good to be truthful with yourself, good to right unintended wrongs.

I can be distant, lose connections, be a not so dependable friend.

I’ve got some notes to send, some catching up to do with my “colors” the women who supported me through the years.

In a way the year has felt like an onslaught, a flood, a deluge of concerns along with a swift flowing stream of so much love.

My word was “faithful” in 2019, meaning I was faithful to keep pursuing God’s way for me and knowing He was gonna be faithful in His care for me.

Just kept on going, kept being buoyed in the storms, safe and learning.

We went out to the country the day after Christmas. Because of the rain we expected the dam would have bursted and his parents’ pond might be empty.

But it wasn’t, we walked together towards the edge, following the sound of bubbling, the soft yet strong flood of overflow towards the wide tree planted creek.

So, no problem. We stood and then stayed a while. It was quiet, tucked away in a back corner of his parents’ land.

The dock seemed more brilliant in color, the sun and shade mixing the tint to an almost feminine green, green like the color of spring, green like soft velvet.

The pads on the surface some with long weedy tendrils were situated softly, not overgrown in a cluster.

Okay alone.

.

Mostly single floating blooms.

The little bridge he built of old wood was bordered by stone he made from bags of cement.

But, it didn’t seem manmade. It looked as if the water’s edge was made of a beautiful white stone, marbled by harsh weather.

A lily pad top was resting, its softness molded into stone.

Must’ve been forced from the pond by the flood of water and somehow rather than drown in the rushing torrent, it was found pretty by me.

I knew the sight was meant to be mine to see. Other than just a bit of nature, there was something else for me.

I choose not so seriously a word every year. I don’t spend time in prayer or take time to decide. It’s always just happened to be found and I decided it made sense.

And then, it has.

It does.

In my Bible next to the verse I call “life”, I’ve penciled the last few years in.

“Breakthrough”: 2017

“Still”: 2018

“Faithful”: 2019

“Endurance”, I’ve decided, my word for 2020.

Because I could settle with the good enough I know, my life is good, my family, my marriage, my children.

My art, my piecing together of words into sentences, stories.

All of the former would be wasted in my settling, if I didn’t endure to the calling forward.

My breakthrough in healing over past trauma, my getting better at waiting, not forcing, of being “still”. My grasp of God’s faithfulness and my ownership of it.

After all this time, I believe it’s not just for others, that He loves even me.

So, endurance?

Yes.

Endurance like the pond’s flower, not resisting the strong rush of water, being pliable, being carried to a safe place and resting there to be seen as strong and surrendered to whatever.

What still will come.

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground which will be rich and plenteous. Isaiah 30:23

The seeds from my breakthrough were scattered, not wasted and there was a stagnant period that felt like a flailing of me and my value.

Still, I waited.

It was unpleasant and heartbreaking at times. Waiting felt like being nothing, doing nothing, like the end of possibility because of my age.

But, I painted still and I was frantic over every chance to be seen as important, either a writer or an artist.

I was pitiful at times, seeking pity from others too.

None of this stopped God from holding on to His hope for my purpose. I was persistent although struggling, what He saw was that I was “faithful”.

Now, days from a new decade, I’m seeing joy in all of it. Being chosen for exhibits, an idea making sense and being well received, a 2020 calendar, a different perspective on the “Colors” memoir manuscript.

A brave goal by the end of January, 30 pieces to launch a more serious art website. (?!?)

I was brave in 2019. I made choices I would have never made before, choices that are not the choices of a timid victim, choices that said “victim no more”, no longer controlled by fear.

2020 will be a year of remembrance, I’ll be buoyed farther from the safe and hidden shore and I’ll not expect unwavering tides or resting ease.

I’ll go where his faithfulness has brought me and I’ll trust with endurance the newly emerging artist and writer, woman of me.

I’ll endure to see more clearly what God made me to be.

Because of mercy, I’ll continue. LT

Now I rise from my “morning spot” to tackle to the waiting list in my workroom, newly cleaned, brushes washed, desks rearranged, laptop and manuscript newly placed.

A letter for my “colors”, finish two commissions, one of which has made me feel so ill-equipped and then begin the first of 30 new pieces.

I’ll begin today and then

Endure.

the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina