Sky and Bloom

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Cold in a way I had no idea, I removed the soft heavy blanket and because the birds had begun to sing, I turned and saw the sky behind me, bright with pink.

Longing to see more and to see with a more private view I ventured to the backyard.

Bare feet on crunchy frozen grass, my steps became a dance and rather than staring towards the sky I became captivated by the camellias.

Pink, I decide is the color of vibrance and optimism. Some petalled balls fallen from the branches and in varying stages of change, some clinging gloriously and a few yet to bloom.

I pray we don’t get the icy days we southerners disdain.

I pray the terminal frost that curtails the continued growth stays away.

Because, the camellias this winter have blossomed in grander and more undeniable ways.

Or is it my notice that has changed?

Has a sense of hopeful curiosity begun to enlighten my belief?

Changing doubtful speculation to committed curiosity over things that might finally be?

Things I believe are for me, abilities and opportunities designed by God.

I am beginning to trust it might be, that I will see.

Jesus has seen me and is pleased in my growing understanding of Him.

Mercy is becoming more than “Christiany” expression tacked on in hopes to gain acceptance.

Mercy, I am finally seeing.

Is for me.

Jesus, leaving Jericho heard the desperate cries of two blind men sitting on the side of the road.

Their sense of hearing compensated for their inability to see and so, they cried out loudly to Jesus asking for mercy. The crowds chastised them, these pitiful men positioned on their way.

How dare they ask to be seen, much less to be able to see?

Have you felt this way?

Felt that according to God and to others, you should stay in your place, why on earth would you believe there could be grander things to see?

The blind men must have been desperate, must have been shouting.

Jesus paused for them.

He asked them what it was they needed.

Jesus wanted to hear their deepest need.

“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:32-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yesterday, I sat anchored by weighted rice bags on my abdomen and thighs, the sense of settled safety, I was seeking.

I joined in my friend’s “Midweek Mindfulness” and loosened up the places where my stress had made its abode.

Anchored and waiting, eyes closed in meditation, I struggled to be still, to stay composed.

Surely, this will soon be over, I don’t know how much longer I can hold this pose and I can’t think of a single additional thing to let go and I’ve prayed my prayers and I’ve focused my focus…

Then she begins to speak of curiosity and I naively conclude she’s done this solely for me.

It actually could be.

I listen and decide curiosity is a worthy mindset, not one curtailed by pessimism or conclusions to my stories, rather a careful and hopeful, continuous pursuit.

The blind men could have chosen what they’d always chosen, likely just being careful to stay out of the way

Instead they decided to be brave, to be curious about Jesus and to give new sights a try.

This morning beckoned me out onto the cold January ground and led me to see beauty, not only in the morning sun but in the blooms fallen and fading making way for new.

I get emotional over a couple of lines in a pretty song. The voice is captivating, tender and true.

She makes a quiet and sure proclamation over her soul and unknowingly, mine.

She sings, “the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy!”

It is a tender song, inspired by the verses from the Song of Solomon, a book that reads like poetry, sonnets and splendidly passionate love.

Good to Me

What are the “foxes” in your vineyard? What present or past or based on your own predictions is set on stealing the joy you’ve begun to get a tiny taste of?

Exchange the sly intentions of the evil one committed to keeping you back for the mercy of the merciful one who asks.

What do you want me to do for you? Jesus

Speak of your need despite others silencing your curiosity.

Believe mercy will always meet it, always meet you.

Lift your eyes to the hills.

Your help will come.

Continue and believe.

I’m linking up with other writers at Tell His Story. https://marygeisen.com/in-the-middle-of-winter-guest-post/

Not As Before

I’ve made some decisions and haven’t turned back, took some chances and opportunities recently, things that are teaching me that not everything comes by chance.

Fortune shines on others more than me and

Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be…these were the truths I believed.

Being a believer of a God who is sovereign, who is in control, led to my conclusion that only just enough good could be for me and that as a believer in sovereignty I must surely stay in my place, must not seek more than a little, must stay anchored by doubt and by fear of failure, not trying at all because of the unlikelihood of success.

I intentionally handicap myself.

I’m beginning to learn from my children, adults who have most likely seen this in me all along but never called me on it, accepted my ways for this long.

I wonder how it feels for a child to see a parent finally coming into their own?

Close to 60 years old and becoming strong?

I wonder if they realize in their own way, they helped me here.

To this season of wanting my legacy to be more than the timid and tentative mama, they may have always known. The one whose thoughts were always deep and bent towards worry.

Here now because I want their faith in God and His goodness to be strong.

Several months ago, I lost control.

Headed towards an important event, we were “T-boned” by a crossing car and my car jumped it seemed into the deep ditch and the front end was crushed by a timely positioned pine.

The Labrador, my husband and me. He jumped from the passenger side and I screamed loud and long. It was a very odd and out of control sounding cry. It was fear.

My daughter answered her phone.

“Mama, are you okay? You are okay. You are okay. Now, stop crying, just breathe and calm down.

You’re okay.

Calm down.”

She called her brother. He called me.

Same reaction, the same level tone in a child of mine’s adult voice. It was the same assurance, same calm.

Control what you can control. my son

Months have passed and changes have been made, changes are on the brink of being announced, career, home, and faith.

Changes are taking place.

Last night, I gave up on watching “Ozark”. Intrigued by the young actor with the authentic twang, I told myself to try it again, watch something that at least causes thought.

Fifteen minutes later, I switch to a Julia Roberts movie simply because she’s beautiful and required less attention.

Told my husband I couldn’t watch, don’t want to go to bed with those thoughts.

Still, I was startled awake before light and had to shake off a horrific dream. I knew it was partly me to blame. I watched the gory scene, heard the horrific words, saw the actor’s fear and grief and evil exchanged.

I went over my average daily screen time. I ate extra spicy food and then had red wine and then topped it off with chocolate milk, Advil and crunchy peanut butter on a spoon.

I recalled the nightmare to forget and move forward. Remembering times before. I had the damaged perception to believe that bad dreams were God sent messages to me.

Messages like you’re still that wild and mistake making girl, you’re still the too attractive and easy for your own good young woman, you’re still the poor girl in the ill-fitting tops, you’re still the fat middle schooler in your brother’s husky jeans.

You’re still the woman in the pew unwelcome by the women who are already there.

I don’t think nightmares are for anyone’s good. If there’s nothing else I can control today, I will control this new truth, this new optimistic conclusion.

And I will carry it into my day, I am no longer living the trauma victim way.

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Hagar was a slave girl who followed along with circumstances that caused her to carry a label we today would most likely call “whore”.

I can barely type the word. You see, I’ve been called that before.

In the nightmare last night, I revisited that woman of before; but, she ran, ran, ran ironically away from a church and through the streets to find herself alone in prayer, her face to the floor.

She found God there.

She rose and she walked freely, more freely than before.

What mindsets have held you captive?

You are never in God’s eyes the person you were before.

If you have experiences that lead to nightmares, don’t succumb to the belief that these bad dreams are your restitution for your bad before.

Use the sense that God gave you. Combine it with good and trustworthy therapy and then add in what you know. Know what God knows and can control and then assert yourself to control

What you can control.

Your “resurrection power”, your “freedom living on the inside”.

You called me from the grave by name
You called me out of all my shame
I see the old has passed away
The new has come! Chris Tomlin

Be found in your wilderness, come forward to be seen and to be fully known.

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

“Rebelieve”

The blue of yesterday’s sky was phenomenal, like a breakthrough.

The moon at dusk already so full you believed you might touch it.

Clear and undeniable.

Last night I held up a tiny candle, listened and sang with a sanctuary of others.

We all were proclaiming “I Believe”!

And then we all left the service and went about our two days before Christmas ways.

I am prompted to pray this morning, leaning into Jesus, asking for more of Him to show in me, my request for continued transformation.

Progress not perfection

Optimistic, I am, for 2019.

Jesus foretold Peter’s denial. Peter denied he would.

The disciples were with Him as he prayed to His Father, not my will but thine. He rose from his prayer to find them all sleeping, told them get up, this is a critical time, you may be challenged to leave me, you might be tempted not to stay.

Jesus was arrested and they all watched him being led away. Peter, Luke recorded, stood back a distance away.

He sat with the ones who accosted Jesus.

“And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:55-57‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Others asked as he sat with them. I imagine, the plan to destroy this man the rulers were all afraid, afraid he might be more knowledgeable, more inspiring, more inviting, afraid he might topple their lofty positions, afraid that they were wrong, would be proven wrong.

Peter could have told them all, it is true, I have been with Him, I have seen.

I know Jesus. He knows me.

Jesus was more than they wanted to believe, the people all sitting around the fire in the home of the high priest.

Peter was aligned with them and he denied being a believer of Jesus.

And just as Jesus foretold, the rooster crowed.

“Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:33-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter allowed logic and the desire to be one with the rulers and religious leaders cause him to sit the fence of doubt and assurance.

It can be hard to believe a happening from 2000 years ago. Believing is a choice and it’s an ever increasing assurance. It’s unexplainable.

It’s a real sense of connection and it is remembering your life before and knowing your life now is lighter, enlightened and significantly meaningful because you know you’ve mattered all along, that your life and its purpose was an intricate part of God’s plan.

Lean into Jesus at Christmas, it’s the perfect time to know Him more,

To believe and “rebelieve”.

I know Jesus. Jesus knows me.

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

The 21st chapter of Luke opens with four verses about generosity, about giving more than you might think you should or can.

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭21:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The remainder of the chapter is like a warning, a warning of how we should watch ourselves and not grow weary. Jesus told all who would listen about how we should live in the world without him until he returns.

“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” Jesus Luke‬ ‭21:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Verses like these often prompt sermons about our worldly life in light of eternity. Speakers and preachers ask us to look around, notice the events that could be warnings, ready ourselves for either eternity through our passing or His return.

Mysterious it is, another mystery of God’s plan in making us and earth; it’s up to us to know with all our hearts it doesn’t end here even if we can’t imagine how heaven will be.

Like the widow who gave her only coins without concern over how she might live, we are to believe in what we can’t be sure of, in what our human minds are too limited to comprehend.

We are too live with eternity in mind, both with anticipation and with self-examination.

Last night my grandson surprised me, called me over to the tree. He added two ornaments, pointed them out to me. The red and white candy canes are not at all consistent with my theme.

But, I’ll let them be, cause me to think about the red, the blood shed by Jesus for me, and the white representing salvation, peace, redemption. I’ll hum the old hymn, “Whiter than Snow”.

I want to live every moment mindful of your mercy Lord.

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus-An Advent Experience

Found and Found Again

Chapter 15 is a collection of parables. One, well known and no more relatable than the others, just more often told.

Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees, a captive but cynical audience, three stories about loving lost things, maybe hoping they’d all see themselves, realizing they may be caught in a similar story.

They were condescending and doubtful, remarking that he’s the one who welcomes sinners, has dinner with them.

Jesus had their attention. He told of a man who had a hundred sheep and lost one and how he refused to stop looking until that sheep was back in the fold. He told of a woman frantic over losing one coin of her ten, how she swept every corner of her home way into the night until she found it, found that lost coin.

He used both parables to compare God’s joy when one person, just one comes to Him, or decides it is time to come back to Him.

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He told about a brother, one of two, who squandered his share of the father’s riches. That father longed for his son’s return and when he returned, the father ran to him. He ran to him!

“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Every morning, I return to my morning place. I wait for a moment sometimes or I might just sit. I find Him there quite often.

In the way a word from one book or an email will correlate, complement another.

I wait. I listen to His voice through His Spirit in me.

I sometimes find my eyes wet with tears, others I have to let sink in, the important true lessons for the progression of my faith.

I’m awakened and I’m humbled gently over changes I should make.

It’s a good space, my quiet spot.

I’m found here by Him.

Found and found again.

May you find Jesus this Christmas or may you return to one who’s looking for you, arms wide open saying, “Come back home.”

We are all “the one”.

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

To Be Satisfied

“And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:17 ESV‬‬

Jesus fed five thousand, multiplying a meager amount to more than enough. He was a mystery to many.

I read of his ways and wonder if there’s more, search for more, like needing evidence of what I already know.

I confuse staying humble with what is me being afraid, unwilling to let go.

Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Jesus Christ Luke 9:24

I hunger and thirst for attention when God is waiting to attend to my every need and to show me what my life could be.

What abundant life would be for me.

Someone said “Surprise me.” when I asked about the background color of a commission canvas.

I started bold magenta, now to a subtle rose, I think I was thinking love.

During these days before Christmas, I’m challenged to continue through Luke, each chapter growing more difficult to convey what is meaningful, what is like Christmas. What is typically written when it comes to Christmas.

The challenge is a parallel to my present transformation. I volley between an exhilarating yes to possible change and same old same no to staying the same.

It is not pleasant; but, it is good.

He is not safe. But, He is good. C.S. Lewis

Jesus sees fear of moving forward. He sees settled states of just enough.

He watches as we wither on our vines because we resist the pruning of the choking weeds, the choices we make over choosing Him and His ways.

Self-denial makes no sense today.

We have an abundance of ease, we gloss over wrong choices we make. We are permissive with ourselves and have learned to take advantage of grace.

I woke up aware of my need to be closer to God’s design of me. It is not a pleasant revelation, one that keeps coming back, revisiting me in the mornings.

I’d love to let it go, to consider it unhealthy guilt or a product of my background and shame.

Instead, I welcome its return, this stirring in my core that won’t let me go, this strong captor intent on drawing me closer, intent on being an agent of change.

Christmas is different for me this year.

There’s a change coming, a change that is determined to see me live more fully.

This pursuit of me growing more evident, it will not let go.

Jesus wants us involved in His miraculous ways!

Like the hungry people he fed after telling the disciples to “set the table”, He looked up to heaven and asked for multiplication of good and God answered and there was enough, abundantly more than enough!

When I think of the abundance I do not yet know, I’m intrigued, a little afraid but, enthused.

I have a new hunger that won’t let me go. I don’t fully understand, sometimes it’s a miserable feeling, knowing I’m not yet all I could be.

More often than before, it reminds me of a gift unexpected, a surprise when it’s finally opened.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Providence

I suppose I should surely call myself with confidence, a writer.

Just because of the way I love words, the way God made me to love words.

I wake up with new plans and consider a bullet list Thanksgiving blog.

This little garland left unhung and it was cute in Target, but I’m not sure if it was right for any place in my home. I’ll let it lay, it can go undone.

Again, I’m thinking of the list, the thankful today list. I could fill several pages and yet, not include it all.

Instead, I love the idea of three, so three it shall be.

Thank you, God, you are patient and unconditionally present and tolerant of me and you help others also to be.

Thank you for the way you got me here, to a place of morning sunshine landing on my succulents as I disciplined myself to know you more in the years before and how now, like today it’s an unexplainable joy, my morning space I rush towards in my morning return.

Thank you, God, for your word. When I said to myself I want to know more about providence, you sent me straight to Job, Job who cried out to the God who “molded me like clay” and found himself in a place I only know as well but on a much smaller scale, saying I trust you God, I do because you and only you know me so well.

Lists and exchanges of thanks should surely rule the day.

For me, I prayed I’d be an encourager that those around me would know my love, would surely see my love in a grander more consistent way, only possible if I lean into and stay leaning into You.

Happy Thanksgiving my readers who comment just when I need it, unbeknownst to you, perhaps.

That’s God who nudged you towards encouraging me.

That’s providence.

Thank you, God

“You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Thank you for all you’ve brought me, brought me through to be used to honor you!