Think About Such Things

Angels, bravery, Faith, grace, Holy Spirit, Peace, praise, Prayer, Salvation, surrender, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Yesterday was a good day, restful but productive until I paused with early sunset on the sofa and allowed my thoughts to catch up.

The annoying squeeze of the unnamed anxiety was realized. I walked down the hall to use the stretch, “legs against the wall” and I felt the rope loosen, the one that was tight around my chest.

Stretching and then praying made it better, the place that my soul inhabits was opened up, restored, clearing out the clutter, making more room for my Father’s spirit to be fully known by me.

I’m beginning to believe God. Beginning to believe the prayer that children say has words that are more than a pretty promise, are true.

“Ask Jesus to come into your heart.”

Not as a child but as a thirty something year old, I said what is called the “sinner’s prayer”.

Jesus came near, planted His Spirit in my soul. It has been gradual, often half-heartedly that I believed this mystery to be so.

This mystery that by grace and patience is no longer so obscurely mysterious at all.

Because I’ve been asking God to come near, to fill me, to allow His river to flow to me and through me and it has begun to be so.

It is becoming well with my soul,

Will become even more so. I am certain. I continue to believe.

Believing God has good things for me, not just for others is a closer truth than before.

A couple of weeks ago the nearness of God astounded me. I’ve kept it to myself except one wise other person until now.

On a regular morning walk with my grandchild, music she loves coming from my pocket and stops and starts to dig in the sand followed by her bouncy steps running, I had a thought.

Surrounded by trees, I remembered the scary vertigo episode almost exactly a year ago. I thanked God for wellness, for no further episodes.

I looked on either side, trees with leaves falling, old tall ones and new branches and I wondered to myself, what would I do if one of these trees fell, if my grandchild was safe but I was trapped?

I imagined calmly, the dog would look after Elizabeth and I’d be able to call for help.

Although scary, it would be okay, I would be safe.

Strange, I know.

Even stranger or as I now believe, not strange at all, occurred the next morning.

I arrived to care for my granddaughter in the dark of morning. My daughter said her husband wanted to know,

“Did your mama see that big tree that fell overnight?”

“No”, I answered. She continued with the way it fell, not a loud sound and the tree with the trunk at least seven feet around, it fell perfectly against the fence row, didn’t block the road.

“Oh” I mumbled.

We walked later to see it, the baby and I. I saw the massive oak severed by something unhuman lying on the ground.

I admit, I thought heavily of it all day, wondering over the weight of my thoughts the day before. It felt very scary and then, supernatural in a kind and loving way.

I texted my friend, wise in spiritual strengths and truth.

She wasn’t astounded or afraid. She simply told me God wanted to show me He is protecting me. That wherever I am, He is; I embody His Spirit. I have an advocate. There was no shock in her tone, she didn’t think I was crazy or what happened was scary.

Later, I realized I could believe it too. God is very close to me.

He is answering my most tender prayers.

Before sleep last night, I read five psalms, a proverb and a message.

I remembered the random text from the friend mentioned above, the way her words sent a chill down my calf.

I slept with the certainty of being known and loved and when I woke I repeated what God told me overnight.

“You are a masterpiece. Keep creating.”

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Receive Grace

Angels, Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, Faith, grace, hope, mercy, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, surrender, Truth, Vulnerability, waiting

Receive grace, we need it. We’re going to need it. Regardless of November, hopelessness is a wound not even close to being healed, the result of our lack of control, uncertainty, the open-ended question of the coming year, the apathy towards each other, the numbing that’s happening to us to the extent we don’t yet know.

“That’s a lot, Lisa…I thought you were a person of faith?”

I know. Today I prayed beside my bed, no words, just a position.

Surrendering the moment.

…and by Him, everyone who believes is freed. Acts 13:39

Belief is a very personal thing, prayer is too. God, knowing each of us completely and individually knows us “down to the very bones” and yet, sees us worthy of the very grace we received when we accepted the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. We decided then I can’t fix this, in fact in my humanness I am unfixable.

Still, I work hard and with intention and a word we love, “perseverance” to see the measure of my faith be represented by works. It’s how we’re wired and we forget that physical wiring never is enough.

Praise, prayer and worship with music rein me back in closer. I find myself opening my hands to heaven when a song touches my tender wounds, thrilled to be uninterrupted on my knees beside my bed or joining others in prayer with both hands palm up to God.

Giving God the hopes, fears and thanks.

Today, I read “Receive His grace all day.” It struck me that the hands I open to give are rarely opened to receive from God. I forget that I need His grace all day long, every moment. More importantly, I forget that His grace is a reservoir that never runs dry. I forget that it is ours simply for asking, just by saying, I need you every hour. Again, I’m not able on my own and you know it God, still you wait patiently for me to remember.

We cannot put our hopes in this country. I’m sorry if that sounds unpatriotic. It hurts to know that and I worry that hopelessness is outpacing the destruction of the pandemic. Without hope, without God and His grace, none of us can sustain our own manufactured hope.

Open your hands as needed today. Receive grace.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Grace and Intention

Abuse Survivor, bravery, courage, Faith, fear, grace, mercy, obedience, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, wisdom, wonder, writing

She told me a heartbreaking story and how she came to accept it.

She said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

I woke today and met rejection. An email quickly skimmed and moved on to the folder marked trash.

I’d told myself submit and if it is for you, it will be.

I wasn’t at all destroyed over it. The not being chosen for my writing was sort of an answer to some recent questions of God.

One in particular, do I just blog and let that be enough?

I don’t know yet.

But, I’m open either way.

Not on the edge about it. I know that God’s intentions for me are always good. I find it brave to believe this.

Wish I’d believed it sooner.

Wish I’d seen the verse with the words “returning and rest” the way my friend explained it.

“Daughter, come back.” is what she told me the prophet Isaiah wrote, as instructed by God.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My friend is biblically wise and I’d always felt the words about running away felt like chastisement.

She read farther back and told me God is just reminding me rest means closeness and confidence and strength are from staying near.

We talked a little more and we began to share worries over our world, the evil motivations of people and the bravery required to stand strong and speak up about God.

She became quiet. She shared of a high school classmate she’d heard through others had suffered a stroke.

She told me they weren’t close friends, hadn’t run in the same circles way back then.

Using the connection of another former classmate, she contacted the ailing friend and asked to drop off food, say hello.

The stroke victim said no at first and eventually allowed my friend in.

And I’m not sure how many visits there were, if meals were shared or if conversation became natural.

My friend shared that the woman she’d been visiting did not believe in God. She had her reasons.

My friend asked God to keep her alive until she could change her mind about Jesus.

My friend ached for that assurance. She is aching still.

The former classmate died too soon.

Tremendous pain prompted her to get any pill she could get off the street and my friend heard that the stroke victim who said there was no God, died while sending someone a text.

My friend heard later, the pill was tainted, a deadly ingredient added.

I sat and sensed the ache of question. I saw regret in the posture of my friend.

Months passed since the passing until one day in the shower, she longed to know why she’d not been able to help the former classmate believe in Jesus.

She looked over at me and said,

“God said, ‘that was my intention’.”

And the truth of God’s intention for my friend’s friend and for me caused tears to begin slowly.

Peace permeated the space between us.

“So, you have peace about her?” I asked and she nodded.

Then, I smiled and I cried and I told her something I don’t think she knew would be for me.

What that means is that those horrible things that happened to me were not what God intended, the evil just won the battle.

And maybe, just maybe the stuff I longed for that had not happened was not God’s intention for me.

Come back, daughter. Yes, I now see.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What makes no sense to you if you believe in a God that is good?

My friend found peace when God told her, I was on your team, I was fighting alongside you.

You having more time with her was my intention.

Evil broke in. Broke in too soon.

On earth there is evil.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Heaven, though, is God’s purpose.

Our hope and future.

Come back. Stay near. My grace to you is intentional.

Be brave.

Continue

and believe.

What God intends is good.

Sing Along

bravery, confidence, contentment, courage, Faith, hope, Peace, praise, Prayer, Redemption, rest, surrender, Vulnerability

On the morning, two Sundays ago that I decided just in time to go to church, I was honest with myself.

I’d been waiting until conditions could be right to return. I’d been waiting for the church to be in agreement with me, to not require that I wear a mask.

Church that morning enveloped me in peace. The mask that I deplore because I deplore demands made of me

Invited a sweeter worship in.

The music, the prayer, my hands open in front of me, my joining in the singing despite my mask.

I wish it weren’t so; but, I tend to be self-conscious in a sanctuary. No surprise, I compare my worship to the worship of others and I worry if others are watching me, measuring whether my praise is big enough.

But, on that morning, before the message on humility and its meaning and worth, I allowed peace to come.

Peace that came through the Spirit leading me to be alone there in the socially distanced place, to close my eyes and be moved by “The Blessing”, to welcome the tears that came. To be aware of, overwhelmed by God’s peace.

Peace comes when we acknowledge our standing in relation to God.

Peace comes when we challenge ourselves to believe we should go when we don’t think we are able or don’t believe we belong.

Peace comes when we remember,

“I am weak but He is strong.” (Yes, Jesus loves me.)

Meekness leads to peace.

Meekness leads to great things.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My little circle of six feet in the sanctuary was inhabited by a sense of Holy that Sunday.

I had no idea that choosing not to be selfish, stubborn, self-righteous over a piece of cloth over my mouth, would bring me such peace.

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And peace shall be mine again.

I will sing along.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Joining others who are writing prompted by the word “church” here.

FMF Writing Prompt Link-up :: Church

The Better

Abuse Survivor, birthday, bravery, Children, courage, curiousity, Faith, freedom, memoir, mercy, Redemption, Salvation, Stillness, surrender, Trust, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder

A deer jumped from the field onto my path and I slowed. I expected another and then, yes, a young one skirted on wobbly legs all by itself into the woods.

I thought of the season, not being a hunter or having knowledge of why they were out walking so early, feeding I assumed, preparing for something, going some set aside place or looking for seclusion.

Later, instead of the regular “walk around the block” I saw an opening. A deeply wooded path, narrow with a valley and then a slight curve that made me curious about where it might lead.

I stepped in with the baby. Very quiet, very careful to watch my feet. We looked together up towards heaven in an enchanted gaze.

The brown ground was covered in seasoned oak leaves. I moved slowly with intention and walked unafraid.

Standing still to see a pair of cardinals and hear the rustling in the branches of others, I listened.

I thought. I am sixty-and a day years old today. It’s okay.

I saw God there and I felt him see me. Thinking towards the next things because of uncertainty of where the path may take me if I choose the more wooded way at the top of the hill.

I turned back, the peaceful way called my name. I chose to take the simple route, the one I had barely begun to know.

I turned and was greeted by the view of an opening like a garden entrance, a glow of gold and green that begged me to see.

You discovered a new way today, now step back into the old path forever changed by your seeing.

The settled way, the way without accomplishment, goal or agenda.

The trusting way, the way to allow God to show me instead of anxiety’s need of always knowing, forever second guessing and harboring remorse because they did and I didn’t.

The better.

Mary, the sister of Martha chose to be settled, to choose the better in a time women were expected to be fixers of things, holders of it all together, preparers of perfectly orchestrated outcome things.

Perhaps, I may be exaggerating here. Naturally, I didn’t live in the days of the sisters who had Jesus come to dinner.

But, I have lived in days of huge expectations and pressures and I am beginning to understand, allow, most of all believe in the better.

“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:42‬ ‭NLT‬‬

To linger longer in the places God calls me, to slow down and believe he sees me.

Late in the afternoon, I watched from the windows. The trees that were far from me reminded me of a stormy ocean tide rolling on. The rhythm of their sway and the brushing up of the trees was a dance with the wind.

Synchronicity. I had said a quiet prayer, a pause and I opened my eyes and sat still.

I sat and rested my eyes on the horizon of dark cloudless sky, the gathering of trees.

Knowing it’s impossible to stay here for long, there are many things to do.

But, for a moment, and more moments later.

I can choose the new and the better, redemption this side of heaven.

The Very Best Dream

Abuse Survivor, bravery, Children, courage, doubt, Faith, family, memoir, Peace, Prayer, Redemption, rest, Salvation, Stillness, surrender, Trust, Vulnerability, wisdom
Found feather

I woke up and remembered, I had the very best dream.

I told my grown up children, with me because of our beach vacation.

We were all together the night before. They both know my ways. My son, for years slept across the hall, sometimes heard my night terrors. Morose recollections typically triggered by the slightest unintentional fear created dramas in my sleep.

So, when like a breath of fresh clear air, I had an optimistic dream, I had to tell them.

The night before we’d all sat together around the table. Adult children joining in conversation about Co-Vid, the election, the changing world known as America.

My son-in-law shared a video being shared all around. A county or city meeting somewhere in Florida and an invocation to something, anything other than God that led to six or so people standing and leaving.

The person giving the invocation prayed to nature and the earth and the only mention of Jesus was that he “might” forgive us.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by the video, I’d been in similar meetings, I told them.

I recalled a time I chaired a coalition I initiated to understand the issue of homelessness. I added that a member of the coalition decided each meeting should begin with a “good thought”, a sort of prayer.

I told my family, I never left the room, I simply did not bow my head. I did not join in the prayers that forbade the mention of Jesus.

Then I said to them,

It’s really going to be different for your children, an effort really to keep talking about Jesus.

Then my husband added that it will be okay, our parents probably felt the same worries.

Then we all said goodnight and exhausted from heat and beach went to bed.

I dreamt of a group regathering. I must’ve been invited as if a charter member or ex-officio sort of thing.

Three days after the dream, the details are skewed.

Like a reunion, we all spoke of what we’d been up to.

I stood in front of twenty or so people and I talked about my relationship with Jesus. I told the people who prayed the prayer excluding God and Jesus why I prayed differently.

I’d been with these people before. This time I felt welcome.

I felt free to be me.

I spoke with clarity. They were enthralled and actively listened. In the dream, there were men and women encircling me, attentive.

I recalled my days of being afraid of God, of being certain of my unworthiness, my days of working hard as a teenage peddler of paper booklets called tracts. I convincingly told of my God whom I believe in.

Someone, a well-dressed theologian sort asked,

“When did you decide to believe in God?”

In the dream I answered “about twenty years ago”.

And the questioner added, “that’s a long time, a long time…where are you now” as if I shouldn’t still be increasing my believing.

And I answered.

I’m just still growing and I’ll keep growing in my knowing of God.

It was the best dream. I’d been in meetings, spoken to large crowds, detailed our need for support and hinted occasionally of my faith.

But only hinted.

Tonight after unpacking sandy beach coolers, clothes and stuff, I had a good walk and thought of the dream that sang of freedom.

As I walked, I opened my palm easily upward to heaven and I thought, prophetic dream.

Not having a clue if that’s a possibility of me…for me.

Prophetic? Me?

My friend says these are not the days to lean into Jesus, rather these are the days to press ourselves to Him.

I couldn’t help but think of impression, allowing God’s impression to be made on me.

No longer overthinking it, not being afraid of it not being true.

Simply believing that it is just as Jesus said, He is the way. He is the answer to His Father’s plan so we have hope, experience peace and eternity with Him.

Google the sinner’s prayer or search the Bible or if you’re fortunate like me, a kind voice will tell you if you ask how it can be…

“Just pray for mercy.” they may answer.

Understand you were born a sinner, admit it. Confess that realization in a prayer to your Creator and then believe in Jesus and keep believing despite the world finding it irrational or a silly offensive fairy tale.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Allow Jesus to begin your transformation, as you press in.

Left forever, that mark like a print from an original masterpiece making.

Four days without journaling other than scribble marks with the baby, I read my Bible this evening.

“Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

These are old words with timely discovering by me.

Cleave, to unwaveringly believe.

Cleave, not a word you might use usually.

This is me. This was me in my happy dream, being brave and contentedly certain of being loved by God, cleaving.

And God loving me.

Sweet dreams.

Say your prayers and sweet dreams.

Such Fragile Things

Angels, birds, confidence, contentment, courage, curiousity, Faith, hope, Peace, Stillness, surrender, Trust, Vulnerability, wonder

There was nothing I could do to save it. I had the idea of possibility and held it in the palm of my hand as if it were a wish, I felt heroic.

Arriving back home, I searched every tree for an unoccupied nest. The object I’d held onto for the entirety of my walk was a tiny bird egg I’d found on the trail.

In my palm, I noticed the pale angelic blue. Only glancing as I set out to save it, I hadn’t noticed the sweet blueness.

What a grand thing, I thought, to save it would surely have significance! It would be a nod to my worth, the little bird I saved so very important, me too!

I found no nest in the backyard and hurried to the front to find the left behind nest of straw in the garage, a bird nest in the corner of a plastic box.

I opened my hand to settle it in the safe place and saw the glistening of the egg’s innards spilled out into my palm.

In my excited determination, I held on too tightly, I had finished the shattering of the tiny egg.

Naturally, I thought about it. What was I thinking that I in my feeble humanity could save a bird’s egg with an already cracked shell?

I loved the idea of it, not finding just another feather to hold up to the air. Instead, an egg and the eventual birthing of a bluebird of which I could say I was responsible.

I returned to the yard with the Labrador here for just a night. Nothing could fix what I’d broken, I moved on from it to check the blueberries.

And in them, found a grace of sorts. The bushes now four years old and this year, we will finally have a little crop.

Quiet in our yard as the day turned to dusk, I picked every plump one, leaving the pale lavender for later. My granddaughter will visit. We’ll pick more together.

Enough for a small cobbler I decided, a bowl full of berries, rich in a blue, a cobalt vivid color.

Deep blue like a treasure.

Sleepless around 4, I dreamt of water and woke to get a drink.

Unable to calm the beat of my heart, I adjusted the air and recited the 23rd Psalm.

My reluctant mind finally settled and when I woke I thought of the tiny egg and how I’d found and then lost it.

What is the lesson? I wondered. Should I have left its salvation to the mama bird who’d find it or just accept it had fallen?

Had not been meant to fly.

I turn to Psalm 23 to find my drawing in the margin, a border of blue sky and the idea of a tree.

I think for a bit about the teaching of verse three, the verse that assures us that God sees and knows our paths.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He restores my soul again and again. The restoration I find on the paths of His making are not odd or unusual or silly.

Odd that I would believe it possible to save an unborn bird?

No, not at all because it led me to consider the Sovereignty of God, the lack of power of my own.

Who decides if the hydrangea blooms or dries up to brittle brown? Who decides if a bird is kept safe in the wing of its mama or if the wind or something other causes it to be separated from the nest? Who decides if the blueberries produce a yield?

Only God.

God only knows.

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May you find the wisdom of God on your path today. May it be simple, so significantly simple.

Logic and Learning

Abuse Survivor, bravery, coronavirus, courage, curiousity, doubt, fear, memoir, mercy, Redemption, rest, Stillness, surrender, Teaching, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, writing

What have you learned about yourself since March whenever when you were scared to death by being told to wash your hands, don’t touch your face?

I’ve learned I can’t blame lack of time for my lack of effort. I’ve learned to understand my resistance to taking chances is for fear of something not happening.

If you’ve read my blog, you may be thinking well, that’s no secret.

I learned that God made me to be merciful and that I have what is called a mercy gift, that this is my redemptive gift. The day after a very wise person told me this, thinking surely I already knew, I received this In Touch publication, their final issue. The issue’s focus?

Mercy.

I’ve learned there is a reader for stories born of trauma. There are authors who are honest and long for their readers to be changed by our stories.

One such author is Jake Owensby, the author of “A Resurrection Shaped Life, Dying and Rising on Planet Earth”.

Jake is a blogger and a minister. He also grew up exposed to violence. He developed a fear reaction. He cowered when he felt that was the only way to feel safe. He grew up being told he was worthless in so many ways. His book is written to convince the reader, God made you for different. You can believe you are valued.

I haven’t even finished the book and I’ve not been asked to review or mention it. It’s just a part of my learning during pandemic.

I admitted a big hard and better understood truth about myself.

I am a blamer. I look for places to lay blame for the trauma of my past, the way it has and continues to stymie my living.

Jake Owensby defines it this way, a way I am embracing,

You see, I’m a blamer. Or, more accurately, I’m a recovering blamer given to occasional relapses.

Jake Owensby

On the bottom page of this chapter’s second page are almost unreadable notes left by me, the truth of them so true, I had to hurry and leave it recorded.

If you can blame someone or someones for the hurt you felt, the fear unresolved and the physical harm that went unprevented…you won’t have to feel the deep heartache of not wanting to have to blame God.

Me

Mr. Owensby led me to this, it is valuable like a revelation long needed.

I’m only half through the book. The chapter after blame and shame has other underlined and margin notes. One more that lingers is the retelling of an English teacher who believed in him and convinced him to write competitively. His fear and comparison of himself led to failure. However, he writes of the redemptive value of the instructor seeing that in him, seeing him measuring his lack against another’s arrogance.

She yearned for me to see things, to see the world and myself in a different light. In retrospect, I realize that it was my dread of failure that undid me that day. Failure, even perceived failure, would set loose in me an avalanche of shame.

Jake Owensby

I’m remembering now how Jake Owensby and I connected through writing. I remember the time he offered me prayer. I believe he prayed.

Prayer is yet another thing I’m learning more deeply.

Last weekend, I sat with my mama’s sister on her patio. She told a sweet story about how my mama was a teenager when she first heard my daddy singing in a tiny little country bar. She was a high schooler and he had come home from Korea.

I asked her to retell the story. How had I never known it? Then we turned the discussion from life to death. My uncle and my aunt asking me to remind them how old my parents were when they met death. The perspective changed along with the mood when I compared my upcoming 60th birthday with the corresponding too soon years of their dying.

I thought about the scribbles in my Bible, a book I gave my ailing mama entitled “What God Can Do”. I thought about how I believed she would live, that God would do what the Book of Luke records, she would live if I would believe. I thought of how I never prayed that way for my daddy, felt I was not eligible to pray, not equipped back then.

Now, on this Tuesday morning I’m listing answers to prayer because I am still praying and I will pray, continue unrelentingly.

So, why pray when people die anyway, when abuse continues for some and if it ends at last, the deep pain often comes back to visit?

I pray because I know God is far too big for me to know why and why not.

I pray because I know His love and power and knowledge in increments when I continue.

Lost keys found, an old car that started, a baby protected in a storm, a heart condition healed, a softer tone from the heart of one that used to be harder, an opportunity to write about redemption from trauma for others, waking up well, tiny twins a little early yet, healthy, little answers to questions and requests not really life altering but good offering ups of yes”, the bravery to send photos of paintings to a gallery.

Knowing God so much more than before, so much that it’s unimportant the reactions of others when you say you still believe in miracles.

God is not logical. We can’t use a chart like a logic model to list our prayers and our acts of mercy and kindness and line them up in a flow chart kind of way towards a corresponding list of outcomes.

God’s ways are not ours to fully understand.

Only fully believe.

So, what have you learned during this time called unprecedented?

Maybe it’s just that, all of our times are in the hands of a God who promises unprecedented miracles, unprecedented new mercies, unimaginable grace.

Fix your mind on that, not your missteps, the prayers you prayed that left you questioning, or the long held fear of failure and shame that holds you back.

Learn of God in tiny grasps; but, keep longing for steady learning. There is more than enough time to get closer to grasping the truth of Him, the truth not made for us to wrap our minds around completely, simple to be drawn closer every moment to the possibility of it.

The immeasurably confounding and generous love of God.

“from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:15-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Like the prayers God answers, I’m enlightened by the possibility of them, not the end result. The book about a Resurrection Shaped Life, written from the perspective of someone hampered by shame was not written specifically for me and its author had no preconceived takeaway for me. I’m simply a reader as I am simply one who is praying. The revelation, redemption and peace in response are God’s answers.

I encourage you to follow the writing of Jake Owensby and to order this book if you’re stuck in your past or if you are prone to shame as a handicap. You can learn more here: Jake Owensby

Continue and believe.

Order the redemptive book here:

A Resurrection Shaped Life https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501870815/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_J1aXEbAKSYSBC

Thoughts of Grace and Distractions

Abuse Survivor, Art, baptism, bravery, confidence, contentment, Faith, fear, freedom, grace, kindness, mercy, mixed media painting, painting, Redemption, rest, Salvation, surrender, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, wonder

I think it’s what is thought in the processing that may be more distracting than the noise of distractions.

I kept my earphones in although no sound came through. I’m still the one walking with the long white cord swinging. I’m way out of the loop, no cordless audio and nothing on my wrist to ding an alarm, message or celebration of steps. I just keep walking, occasionally I run.

“Bethesda’s Water” detail

Walking is an escape, an unraveling, a reconfiguring of my intentions gone astray by thinking.

The sound in my ear is not distracting. It typically is a guide for my thoughts, songs and the words in them that help me believe. Lyrics like this:

“And, oh as you run, what hindered love will only become a part of your story.” Out of Hiding

Yesterday, I thought of the man who laid beside the pool of water that was known for healing, Bethesda. He watched others bathing, hoping for health benefits but stayed at a distance on his mat for 38 years.

When Jesus asked if he wanted to be well he didn’t seem sure. He pointed out the crowded water, how from where he was lying he’d surely get trampled trying to get in.

I wondered if his thoughts were what kept him from going. Was the water truly healing water and what if it wasn’t, would he be better “as is“?

“Bethesda’s Waters”

I wondered if it was mental torture for him, his own thoughts distracting him from possibility.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:6-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus was there and then he was not. The man was left with wondering over his very own miracle.

Maybe wondering, will it last? Then Jesus finds him or he finds Jesus. Either way, it was confirmation, your healing is true, carry on now, keep on running.

It’s that way with me, maybe you. Thoughts cause me to be distracted by the reality of my redemption. This crazy world feeds into the natural and leaves little space for the miraculous.

We know we’ve been healed by mercy’s water but some things make it feel less than enough.

This is when we remember our very own Bethesda moment, we remember we are one soul in a crowd of others all sweetly welcomed into the fold.

“Bethesda’s Water”, detail

We remember our soul is aligned to that love. We see Jesus in the sky, the words of a song, the gaze of a child or the worrisome situation that we surrendered that has led to easy breathing.

We hear Jesus. A more serious tone in His voice and yet, we’re not offended, we’re simply reminded of who we were and who we are becoming.

“But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Grace and truth.

Continue and believe.

Believe and continue.

This painting is mixed media on reclaimed wood and is available as original or prints. Comment to inquire.

Love Remains

Art, bravery, confidence, contentment, coronavirus, courage, Faith, hope, Peace, Prayer, rest, Serving, surrender, Trust, Uncategorized, Vulnerability, waiting, wisdom, wonder, writing

“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/